Thursday, July 31, 2008

A dose of photography - 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS.

Back in 2006 while I was up in Boston, Massachusetts taking in the World of Wheels show, I came this 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS. This wasn't the first time I had seen this ride in person before as this Camaro was on display at the 2005 World of Wheels too. I really didn't know too much about it from the photo, however while watching an episode of NOPI Tunervision, they featured this very ride with the owner. From what the owner said, the Camaro features a 502 V8, C5 corvette taillights and was built in 9 months. what an amazing Camaro. Comments.

Rear View

- Racedriven

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

American Chopper: OCC Mercedes-AMG Chopper

It's been awhile since I've writen about one of my favorite shows American Chopper on TLC and that's for good reason, the show seems to have taken a turn in my eyes and not for the better. I remember watching the original episodes that my family has on DVD and what a difference...

Right now it's more about fighting within the staff (not just Sr. and Jr.), theme bikes for corporate sponsors like a piping company and so on...without showing off the creation of the chopper itself. Normally each chopper takes two or three episodes and viewers see each step, however now, it takes one episode and it's more towards there personal lifes and from what I had seen in the previous episode on the Mercedes-AMG company which creates nice high performance, expensive cars and while I like the luxury chopper that they created (it reminds me of the Lincoln Chopper which was a dark red that was really nice) and the tour of the factory where they hand build several engines a day, the show still lacked what it use to have.

And if that wasn't enough, my family bought the first three seasons on DVD for around $30 each and now the season 4 DVD and beyond is at least $60 for the entire season with less on it, what gives and where are the repeats throughout the on TLC, if you miss the show on Thursday night, your out of luck...well, at least the show is still somewhat entertaining and this time they build a good looking chopper. What's Next? Comments on the show or the OCC Mercedes-AMG Chopper.

- Racedriven

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What about Paul Tracy, Helio Castroneves and the IRL IndyCar Series north of the border for the Edmonton Indy race?

In watching the newly merged IRL IndyCar Series (with the Champ Car World Series) so far in 2008, as a fan, you do notice a difference from last season in not only the car count which is hovering around 27 with the exception of course of the Indianapolis 500, but in the racing itself somewhat, there are more contenders week in and week out depending upon what type of racetrack as the former Champ Car World Series drivers have yet to adapt to the ovals.

However while the merger before the beginning of this season has given this series new life, several events and drivers were not included in 2008 until now, the first came a month or two ago, when the IRL announced the addition of Edmonton Airport race to the 2008 calendar and the second came a couple weeks ago when it was announced that Paul Tracy has signed a one-race deal to drive for Vision Racing/Walker Racing in the Edmonton Indy race earlier today with Subway as the sponsor.

Not having Paul Tracy racing in the IndyCar Series so far this season was a huge mistake, he needed to be in the series and while I am a fan of both Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves, up till this weekend in Edmonton, Paul Tracy in the IndyCar Series wasn’t happening.

With that said, this weekend’s race in Edmonton with a good crowd on hand was a welcome treat to watch, not so much for the racing itself as this airport is mostly a high speed track with little passing or for seeing Scott Dixon win yet again, but for watching the outspoken, hard charging Paul Tracy handle his Subway IndyCar around the racetrack jumping curves and getting on it lap after lap.

But you know, even during this race, there was something caught my ear on two of the Andretti-Green Racing in-car radios for both Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti that I didn’t enjoy (something to this degree)…”Move over and let Tony Kanaan pass you, he is on a different strategy then you.” Of course nether driver did and one of them then said “if you ask me to move over one more time, were going to have words” (Again, something to that degree)… Personally, I know Tony Kanaan is running for a championship, but this is racing, you want the position, earn it, get along side of them and make the pass.

Anyway, in the end, Paul Tracy had a very impressive first IndyCar Series outing by finishing in 4th, while my two favorites Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves finished in 9th and 2nd, but still not a good day in points for Helio Castroneves against the points leader Scott Dixon as he now is -65 points out.

Now, hopefully not only the IRL will add a couple more former Champ Car World Series racetracks to the 2009 schedule including Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, another Canada race, and maybe even Road America could be a good match, but hopefully Vision Racing/Walker Racing will field Paul Tracy in not only the rest of the 2008 season, but also the entire 2009 seaon and beyond, Paul Tracy back in open wheel racing, nice treat, so until the next time, see yeah. (Both images by Covy Moore via

- Racedriven

Friday, July 25, 2008

The unveiling of KITT in attack mode: For NBC’s new Knight Rider weekly series.

Live pictures of world wide unveiling at

When the Upfront for NBC was announced a month earlier than normal back in April, I had a hard time just trying to imagine what this new Knight Rider weekly series was going to look like after watching the remake Knight Rider movie and while I a huge fan of Knight rider and loved the look of the car in the remake movie that looked like a true Shelby GT500 when you look at the frontend, let along the original KITT and the Knight Rider 2000 KITT, the movie wasn’t all that bad, but not good neither.

With that said, earlier today, Knight Rider fans got to see the new attack mode KITT which is yet again made after a Shelby GT500 and while I don’t know what other fans thought of the new car, I for one have a first impression of what were they thinking? However, the car will not look that extreme in cruise mode and I’ll be interested in seeing what that looks like, but as for the attack mode, KITT has always looked a little extreme to me in the original television series, but not this extreme, I’ve accepted that KITT will be a Shelby GT500/Ford Mustang and not a Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am or even a Chevrolet Camaro, but this attack mode will take a little longer including those wheels and the weird front end, where’s the Shelby in it? Shelby grills are more little an oval, but this front grill is a standard Ford Mustang grill…

Seriously, look at the five photos below and let me know just what you think and what you think of the remake of Knight Rider into a weekly series? By the way, I will not take to much stock in the remake movie carrying over to the weekly series and I will watch the series premiere on September 24th.

Photo Credit: A special thanks to, who was at the world wide unveiling of the new attack mode KITT.

Update: Knight Right was cancelled after 1 season, however NBC has brought out the Knight Rider: Season One DVD set, (its the complete series including the NBC Knight Rider Movie) check it out at

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Will this latest decision by NASCAR in the Nationwide Series to change the engine rule make a difference?

Photo Credit:
Jason Smith/Getty Images

Chicagoland marked a couple of things, first it was where for the second time in a couple of weeks, NASCAR took 10 engines from the top running cars of all four manufacturers in the Nationwide Series to dyno test to see what the horsepower numbers were, second, it marked the 14th victory for Toyota (13 wins for Joe Gibbs Racing in either the #18 and the #20 and 1 victory with Kyle Busch in the #32).

However following that Friday night race, I wrote a short-simple piece a week ago called “The monkey wins again in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland.” following the Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland where Kyle Busch won again in the #18, the monkey wins again comes from the quote “A monkey could win in that car, the drivers aren't even showing their talent." – Clint Bowyer

In the same piece, I wrote “Your turn NASCAR, I understand Toyota has an advantage and it’s the other three manufacturers (Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge) job to catch up and if that’s really the case, then where is Chevrolet’s new engine, because this isn’t working, it’s almost like if fans don’t see the #18 (if he’s in the race) or the #20 wreck, then it’s basically over and the monkey wins again…if that's not the case, until something is done, this is what the rest of the season is going to be period.” And I meant it.

With that said, I’m surprised when NASCAR issued a technical bulletin on Tuesday with a engine rule change and while I applaud NASCAR in finally noticing that there is a problem in the Nationwide Series with trying to put all of the teams on equal footing after watching the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 and #20 Toyotas basically dominate the series, this engine rule change isn’t exactly what I was thinking, I would have preferred the suggestion made by a couple of former drivers and crew chiefs, instead of penalizing what looks to be just the Toyotas from the way I understand this rule, why not just allow the other three manufacturers (Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge) to bring some new parts or even like Chevy a new engine to the series so they can step up even further.

What a handy cap for all of the Toyotas and yet even at Michigan, I would say that it will not make a big difference, Toyota has found something (and it’s not reliability,) in their cars, whether it’s in their engines, or their bodies or chassis that makes them so strong, it’s like the Joe Gibbs racing cars press a button and there gone…victory lane.

The way I see it, the other three manufacturers have to get on it to win, however in the same right, I believe NASCAR needs to go even further with a fair rule change and cost saving measure at the same time, taking a page from the NASCAR Camping World East Series, NASCAR needs to require in both the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series to run a "spec" engine and they tune it from there, what a change that would be, just don’t put it in the Cup Series, that series is completely different…comments.

Update: The monkey (#18-Kyle Busch) wins again (now 14 wins for Joe Gibbs Racing) at O'Reilly Raceway Park leading 197 laps (all, but 3 laps), while on a positive note, it was fun watching Carl Edwards coming back from 3 laps down to finish 11th, what will happen next week at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

- Racedriven

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary.

Personlly for me, I like Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, I've been in one of the local dealerships here in Massachusetts, so I thought that this video above on the 105th Anniversary Celebration, along with the press release from Shell Celebrating Harley-Davidson’s 105th Anniversary with NASCAR Driver Clint Bowyer, Chopper Chicks to be Part of Celebration would be something interesting for motorcycle and Harley-Davidson fans would enjoy and if you are going to the event, please take lots of pictures and if possible send me a few or publish them online and send me the URL, I would love to pubish them here on my blog. Enjoy.

Press Release: Shell NASCAR Driver Clint Bowyer, Chopper Chicks to be Part of Celebration - American icon Harley-Davidson plans to end the summer motorcycle season with a blowout event and Shell is gearing up for the celebration. As the exclusive fuel sponsor of the Harley-Davidson® 105th Anniversary Celebration, Shell will mark the occasion with an exciting lineup of events taking place in Milwaukee throughout the four-day event -- August 28-31.

To kick off the festivities, one of NASCAR’s top drivers, Clint Bowyer -- a Harley® owner and driver of the No. 07 Jack-Daniels car Chevrolet in the Sprint Series -- will be at the Shell Racing Experience at Veteran's Park on Thursday, August 28 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to greet fans and swap motorcycle stories. In addition to meeting Bowyer, event goers will have the opportunity to test their driving skills with the No. 07 and No. 29 NASCAR show cars and racing simulators and get a first hand feel of what it’s like to be in the pits with the Shell Tire Change Challenge.

On Friday, August 29, Shell will host an all-women’s charity custom bike build at the House of Harley, Milwaukee’s largest Harley dealership. The Chopper Chick Crew, led by Athena Ransom, will transform an array of hundreds of bike parts into a fully functioning motorcycle within a matter of hours. These women are some of the best in their field and have been featured on NBC’s Today Show, the Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-Off and SPEED TV’s American Thunder in addition to publications such as Easy Riders, American Iron, and Ironworks.

“Anytime we do a live bike build, it’s a huge draw,” said Ransom. “People are fascinated by the intricacies of what goes into making a motorcycle, and will stop by several times during the day to see the evolution of the bike.” Since the majority of motorcycles are made to run on premium grade gasoline, Shell Gift Cards will be randomly distributed throughout the event to give attendees the opportunity to try Shell V-Power premium gasoline for themselves. Throughout the bike build, the “Garage-Girls” motorcycle experts will conduct free seminars to educate audience members about the importance of proper motorcycle care and demonstrate how to perform personal bike maintenance. The “fully-built bike” will be donated to the RAACE Foundation, an organization dedicated to fighting child sexual abuse by raising public awareness of the epidemic.

The all-women’s charity custom bike build and Bowyer’s appearances are just a taste of what Shell has in store for Harley fans at the 105th Anniversary Celebration and related events. Attendees can also:
· Get the chance to try Shell V-Power premium grade gasoline for free with a Limited Edition Harley-Davidson/Shell Gift Card that will be distributed at select times and locations by roving Shell representatives.
· Be one of the first to demo the 2009 Harley-Davidson® models, all fueled by Shell V-Power, a high-quality premium gasoline. Participants will also receive a free Shell Gift Card during registration at this State Fair Park event.
· Earn Shell Gift Cards and branded merchandise by bringing sales receipts for Shell V-Power premium gasoline purchases to the Shell Racing Experience at Veteran’s Park.
· Discover how Shell is meeting the energy challenges today and tomorrow at – where else? – Discovery World.

Additionally, motorcyclists participating in the Ride Home can plan ahead by using the Harley-Davidson® Ride Planner 2.0, which was launched earlier this year at It is a Web-based application that not only enables motorists to map out any route in the U.S., but also provides the added convenience of identifying all Shell-branded sites along each potential route, making fill-ups a cinch.

- Racedriven

Monday, July 21, 2008

Danica Patrick Argues With Milka Duno at Mid-Ohio after an incident in practice.

What do race fans really think of this video of Danica Patrick trying to talk to Milka Duno last Friday following a problem on track during the practice session?

This doesn't surprise me at all, Danica is not shy about dealing with another driver or person after something happens, she even tried to get to Ryan Briscoe's pit during teh INdianapolis 500 after Ryan took her out in a late race incident. Personally, I believe that Danica Patrick could have handled this alot better including maybe going to the IRL trailer and having the officials invite Duno to the trailer and have a reasonable talk there, however with that said, Danica Patrick had every right to be upset with Mila Duno, Duno was clearly slower during the practice session and Danica tried several times to make a clean pass by her before having to really get in there.

Following that incident (no contact), Danica had every right to go to Duno's pits and have a talk with her and find out what happened, and nothing against Milka Duno, but she is one of the slowest indycars on the racetrack week in and week out and I don't understand why she's even in the races, it would be better if the IRL or her team owner would put her in the IRL Indy Lights to have her gain experience there, before trying to run in the IndyCar Series again, this is now becoming a matter of safety. I'm wondering if anything at all besides fans going after Danica will do, meaning in the IRL's eyes?

- Racedriven

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The success, surprises and struggles after 19 races in the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series Season.

When I think about the (first 19 races) 2008 Cup Series season thus far, one word best describes it, “survival”, yeah that’s the word, for the drivers, teams, owners, NASCAR, media and the fans, survival is what they have had to do at one point or another this season. As a matter of fact, survival has been the key in every race this season and now as we are on the eve of the final off weekend off of the season, before the end of the season, the question now is, who were the ones finding success while others just found penalties and struggles?

The success: When you think of the success stories so far this year, look no further than the points standings with some exceptions, first, love him or hate him, cheer for him or boo him, Kyle Busch in the Cup Series is the hottest name on the circuit for now, personally I can’t stand him, but he is the points leader with seven victories on the season including this past weekend in Chicagoland and trying to claim top dog at Joe Gibbs Racing, also giving Toyota there first Cup Series victory earlier this season at Atlanta, but you know as much as Kyle Busch has improved from 2007, so has my favorite driver and NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., while last season was a nightmare, this season has been a complete 180, Dale Jr. has been right there all season long and in most cases, carrying the Hendrick Banner, Junior has 7 top 5’s and 12 top 10’s in the first 19 races, plus a victories in the Budweiser Shootout, the first Dual race at Daytona and Dale Jr. picked up his first Hendrick Motorsports victory earlier this season at Michigan.

So who’s most improved over the 2007 season? Well, as much as Kyle Busch has shown the way several times this season including his seven victories, however my vote would be for Dale Earnhardt Jr.. Remember, while Kyle Busch not only won last season, but was in the chase, however Dale Jr. wasn’t in either category.

If Jeff Burton being third in points is big news, where have you been for the last couple of seasons, while Burton has one victory so far this season, he also has consistanty as he is 3rd in points. Last season’s champion, after a tough start to the season, Jimmie Johnson is getting right back into this one with one victory coming back at Phoenix earlier this year and is 5th in points.

Surprises: As much as the three success stories at the top of the points standings are making headlines, so is the penalties with Robby Gordon making history by getting his Daytona penalty reduced to $150k fine, but that was nothing compared to Carl Edwards win in Las Vegas, to get dock 100 driver and owner points and no 10 point bonus in the chase for a oil lid cover being found off after the race, following that, NASCAR got even madder as they handed down a penalty of 150 driver and owner points, suspending the crew and car chief for six race to both Haas CNC racing car, the #66 and #70, what a penalty for something under the rear wing, if that wasn’t enough, NASCAR also handed the same 150/150 penalty to the #1 Martin Truex Jr. at Daytona for not fitting the roof templates, that took them out of the chase. Like I said, the penalties made headlines and some predict 200/200 point penalties and the suspending of the crew and car chief, plus engineer as well…that’s costly in this points fight or just to stay in the top 35.

Surprise’s don’t just have to be penalties, it also covers rebounding and when it comes to drivers, look no further than Kasey Kahne, who after getting voted in to the All-Star race, won the All-Star, following that up with a victory in the Coca-Cola 600 and the Pocono 500 and he is 11th in points, while Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth got off to a bad start, they are now moving up the standings slowly. But when you talk about surprises, you can’t forget about Patrick Carpentier in qualifying, the man who gets it down when it counts.

However the biggest shocker wasn’t Kyle Busch, Dale Jr., DEI or even some of the races, it is the COT for its safety, first at Las Vegas with Jeff Gordon hitting the inside wall on the back straightaway, but even worse, Michael McDowell at Texas, no words could describe that one, just a picture which was taking by Papke - Associated Press.

The struggles, damn, at one point in this season, even Kyle Busch and Dale Jr. struggled for a couple of races, but I’m talking more of nowhere to be found or just hanging on even if they are 12th in point. I’ve been very surprised with Penske Racing so far this season, after winning the Daytona 500, none of them have been around much with the exception of Kurt Busch winning at a rain-shortened race in New Hampshire and now with Ryan Newman and Penske announcing that they will part ways at the end of the 2008 season, where does Penske Racing go from here including filling the #12 Alltel Dodge seat next season? Another one would be Ganassi Racing which is now a two-car team following the shut-down of the #40 car and laying off 70 workers, looking at it, I would be very surprised if Ganassi Racing was in business in 2010, I know it’s a weird thing to say, but Ganassi has championship teams in the IRL and in the Grand-Am Rolex Series including at least two Rolex 24 at Daytona victories, but in the Cup Series, they only have one victory in recent year and that came last season at Sonoma.

Third is the top 35 rule, which for several teams who have missed races this season, now find themselves so far behind the 8 ball of getting back in, it’s no big thing to see who’s in and who’s out with the exception of the #66 Haas CNC Racing car, who is -13 points out, other than them, no one else is in striking distance and every week, they have to qualify on time or go home including the #84, #96 and the #10, what a rule that needs a change.

After 19 races, I ask you ponder these two questions:
What are the top 5 best races so far this season? (In no particular order)1. Phoenix would be the first, night racing, combined with a late race drama over fuel, 2. Bristol still is Bristol even with two groves, 3. Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (not the boring All-Star Race) 4. Daytona 500 5. Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington – Despite Kyle Busch winning.

What about the Crown Royal 400 at Richmond, well read my description and come to your own conclusion: Denny Hamlin dominates most of the race, however, Hamlin had a slow leak in one of the tires, giving up the lead in a three-wide pass in the middle of turns 1-2 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. taking the lead. Hamlin stops on track, bring out the caution flag and of course Hamlin gets back going. In the closing laps, Busch closes in on Dale Jr., side-by-side going into turn 3, Busch losses it and hits Dale Jr. sending him into the wall, basically ending his day, while Clint Bowyer flashes by the wreck, taking the lead and cruising to victory lane. Pure emotions – Kyle Busch becomes one of the most hated drivers in NASCAR, the bad boy and he loves it.

What are the top 5 most improved racetracks so far this season due to the COT? (In no particular order)1. New Hampshire Motor Speedway 2. Talladega Superspeedway, 3. Phoenix International Raceway, 4. Infineon Raceway 5. Darlington Raceway – The Darlington races before the COT were interesting to watch, but with the addition of the COT, it’s a little bit better simply because when a driver hits the wall (Darlington strip), a driver can keep races and possibly win the race. The only downside is the sideways look of some of the cars.

- Racedriven

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Big Brother goes back to basics for Big Brother 10…First impressions as Jerry is the first HOH.

(Photo Credit: TV Guide Website)

Welcome to the Big Brother 10 House. What a difference a season or two makes in the Big Brother house, last season (earlier this year), Big Brother fans were given a completely different twist of the houseguests playing the game as couples and the season before, a mole player playing the game for the fans, but as much as those brought an interesting twist, for this season Big Brother, fans have just saw a back to basics game. The back to basics game which looks to have no real twist, personally I really don’t care about that, one thing I really like about the season is the fact that none of the 13 houseguests know each other, they are complete strangers. What a perfect way to start off the game.

Normally fans would see an HOH competition, but a change, before the houseguests even went into the house, each houseguest voted without talking to one another on the first HOH and my guest was correct, Jerry is the new HOH.

I don’t remember the last time Big Brother gave away a classic car before and that’s what the winner got in the first competition, a choose of a 1966 (I think) Ford Mustang Convertible or a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, personally as much as I love Mustangs, nothing compares to seeing that Dark Green with a white strip 1969 Camaro, that’s my pick and so was it for the winner…

But as much as either sitting a challenge or winning a challenge that just so happens to include a Camaro as the prise, this is a game and it’s all about survival, staying the house until the end to win $500,000 and that includes not getting voted out or nominated for that matter. The nominations were pretty cut and dry, Renny drew attention to herself in the middle of the night by crying wolf, next time shut up and don’t tell people to get over it and that goes for Jessie for confronting people, and there’s your two nominations, that was simple for Jerry.

Now the question is, who will win the power of veto and if anything, who will be still or just be put up on the block and any backdooring? Yes that covered backdooring, the chicken way out. I will be interested in seeing how Jerry does, a 75 year old man, who looks like he can compete with just about anyone in the house. As for who gets evicted, if Renny doesn’t win POV, she’s gone period.

BTW: Hate the house, a 50’s look with diner and a 50’s VW wagon…oh yeah, my vote, get rid of the Big Brother slop and bring back the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, at least you can eat it and not get hurt. Comments.

- Racedriven

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The monkey wins again in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland.

Photo Credit:
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota wins again, this time at last night’s Nationwide Series race under the lights at Chicagoland, “in a series record tying 13 victories in a single season, matching in 20 races the 13 wins Richard Childress Racing recorded in all of 2007” ( For this racing fan, the quote below best describes both the #18 and the #20 cars no matter who drives them in the Nationwide Series this season, “A monkey could win in that car, the drivers aren't even showing their talent." – Clint Bowyer

Your turn NASCAR, I understand Toyota has an advantage and it’s the other three manufacturers (Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge) job to catch up and if that’s really the case, then where is Chevrolet’s new engine, because this isn’t working, it’s almost like if fans don’t see the #18 (if he’s in the race) or the #20 wreck, then it’s basically over and the monkey wins again…if that's not the case, until something is done, this is what the rest of the season is going to be period.

- Racedriven

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What a weekend: Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr., Tony Stewart and controversy in the Firecracker 400?

Saying what a weekend in NASCAR is an understatement when the subject of Daytona Part Two comes up, even before last Saturday night’s Firecracker 400 (Coke Zero 400 at Daytona if you want to get specific) NASCAR had fireworks starting early…

On Thursday, it was Martin Truex Jr.’s #1 DEI Chevy that became the headline as his DEI Chevrolet was taken by NASCAR for a roof issue with templates, sending him to a backup car, oh boy that’s big in the penalty department and it was as on Tuesday, Martin Truex Jr. found out that he and DEI was penalized 150 driver and 150 owner points, both the crew chief and the car chief suspended for six races and Manion was fined $100,000 (From NASCAR PR), that’s right in line with what NASCAR has been handing out earlier this season with the two Haas-CNC Racing cars. I really don’t understand the 150 driver and owner points, 100 was enough, being docked 150 driver points will keep Martin Truex Jr. out of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series Championship period.

Staying with Daytona, while the Nationwide Series race was interesting, NASCAR must be looking at the Toyota’s, the other three makes are not going to catch them, it’s almost like unless the #20 or if the #18 is in race, they wreck or they win period. I read Dale Jr.’s interview with Nationwide:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third behind Hamlin and Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said: It was fun, I had a good time. The track was real slick; you know we were able to pass more than I thought we would. And Kyle and Denny were real quick, and they handled really really good. I couldn’t run on by like they were, so I really didn’t have many options, I was trying a couple of things and nothing was really working, so it was hard to come up with anything that would have been able to get by them, so. Anybody really, I think, around the top five did a good job cause it was pretty slick out there, but it was a lot of fun. (From Enough said.
Now comes the Firecracker 400 at Daytona, I watched this entire race and yes, there were fireworks early and offen during this one, but for the love of me, I can’t even begin to explain what happened. The race was entertaining, but it went from a good race to a wreckfest and wouldn’t you know it, there was a controversy on the final restart which was a green-white-checkered, but they didn’t get to the finish line as a photo was needed to determine the winner…Shrub wins again, 6 wins this season, next. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Following the Firecracker 400, two questions were raised by the fans and the media:

1. When should have the caution lights been displayed? When you look at the final restart, NASCAR made the correct call in not throwing the caution when Jeff Gordon got spun by Carl Edwards, Gordon was just protecting his position from Edwards and Edwards was already at the bottom, it happens, however the caution should have come when the crash happened and the leaders were going into turn 1, but it wasn’t until an even bigger wreck came out that NASCAR finally through the caution. The issue here is timing on the last lap, they missed the timing which created a controversial photo finish.

2. Could NASCAR’s green-white-checkered policy be changed? A couple years ago, NASCAR had an unlimited green-white-checkered policy in the Truck Series and it turned out to be a nightmare, the race was at Gateway and they had this two lap shootout several times before a winner could be crowned which included several wrecks – Bobby Hamilton sliding down the back straightaway wall after getting hit from another driver. The point is, as much as the one-shoot deal with the green-white-checkered policy is one-sided, it still works, its fair and the fans, drivers, teams and owners knows happens, it works, it might end in controversy like last Saturday at Daytona, but it’s still works right that way the policy reads, there’s no need for change period.

What about TNT’s Wide-open coverage? I want to watch the race again on Thursday before I comment if I even both.

Silly Season:
Last weekend in New Hampshire, it was announced that Hendrick Motorsports and Casey Mears would part ways at the end of the season and not even a week later, on Friday at Daytona, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Mark Martin would drive the #5 full-time in 2009 and part-time in 2010, what a two-year deal and you know, it works for both parties. Personally, Mark Martin driving for Hendrick is ironic in away, think about it, this time last year, Dale Jr. already had announced he was leaving DEI and joining Hendrick with Mears moving from the #25 to #5 and now fast forward to the present, Mark Martin is doing the same to drive the #5 car, which also completes the dream team. I was hoping for Tony Stewart to drive the #5 car, but Mark Martin’s just as good as he joins Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and NASCAR’s most popular driver and my favorite driver Dale Earnahrdt Jr., what a combination – a NASCAR Dream Team at Hendrick Motorsports, not even Joe Gibbs Racing or Roush-Fenway Racing can match this.

Specking of Tony Stewart, his rumors and speculation continues somewhat with Stewart-Haas Racing being formed with Newman on-board and Office Depot and Jack Daniels as sponsor, stop, stop , stop, I am going to treat this like Dale Jr. last season, I am going to wait for Smoke to make his announced and then I will comment and support whatever decision he makes, but personally (this is not a rumor, this is my opinion), Stewart should say good-bye to JGR and either drive the #33 at RCR and own a piece of Hass with Newman and Truex Jr. as drivers or drive for himself with a teammate, either way he is driving a Chevrolet, but just remember, fact – Tony Stewart has one more year on his contract period.

If those two were not enough, Ganassi Racing made a surprising, shocking announcement…Ganassi Racing was shutting down the #40 car effective immediately due to lack of funds (no sponsor), leaving Dario Franchitti without a ride. Looking at Ganassi Racing racing, I would be surprised if this entire racing organization were to shut down by 2010, it just isn’t working and that’s it, Ganassi should go back to would works and that’s his Grand American Rolex Team and IRL teams…

Now, after the Firecracker 400 at Daytona, both the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series turn their attention to good old fashion Saturday night racing under the lights at Chicagoland, this will be the first night race at Chicagoland, this should be interesting as Kevin Harvick is the defending champion of the Nationwide Series race and Tony Stewart as the defending champion of the Cup Series race, this is where smoke could turn it all around and win big as it’s his time of the year (the summer) to shine. Comments.

- Racedriven

Friday, July 4, 2008

High gas prices vs. this race fan going to watch NASCAR at New Hampshire Motor Speedway once or twice a year.

Last weekend, before heading up to Loudon for the Cup Series race, I wrote a preview article for last weekend’s Lenox Tools 301 covering Kevin Harvick, his #29 Shell RCR racing team and his two teammates Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton and there history at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, after writing that article, I received an interested and yet revealing comment that read:

“Great Article for the entire race weekend. I live in Connecticut and usually try to go to one of the two Loudon races every year and unfortunately this is my first year I will not be going and of course it is due to the high cost of gasoline. It really kills me to miss something that I truly enjoy watching in person and have to settle for sitting in front of my TV, it is just not the same.”

While I was shocked with the comment, I really shouldn’t have been, this is not the first time I have read a comment like this before on the internet and yet it seems to be a common theme with racing fans right now."

I feel for any race fan who has to choose to stay home over taking in a race, whether it’s a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, a Nationwide Series race, a Truck Series race, a Modified race, a IRL, ALMS, NHRA and etc. or just a trip to your local short track due to high gas prices and while this past weekend my father and I did take in our first of hopefully two trips this year to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for last Sunday’s Lenox Tools 301, keep in mind that there is a big difference from this trip to the normal every year trips to Loudon, this time, we were invited as bloggers by Shell to the race to write a second feature on Kevin Harvick and his #29 Shell RCR racing team which you can read here, however, if we were not invited by Shell, the question now is, would we have gone as race fans?

Yes and no, while I have been a race fan, mainly NASCAR since the early 1990’s (thinking 1992), I have never sat in the grandstands for a Cup Series race, both of my Cup Series races have been in Kevin Harvick’s pits via Shell, however I do go up to New Hampshire Motor Speedway once or twice a year for either the Friday practice and qualifying with the Camping World East Series race or on Saturday for Cup Series final practice (happy hour), along with the Modified Tour race and either the Nationwide Series race or Truck Series race and I have done this since before 1999.

The cost is less on those two days and I love watching the modifieds in action, there’s nothing like it and then to top it off with either the Nationwide or Truck Series race is great, it’s a long and exciting day at the race track. My father and I do plan on going back up in September on Friday or Saturday for that very reason even with $4 gallon gas prices and we drive a Jeep Liberty up there which is a 2 and ½ hour ride with $2 tolls one way, but you never know considering food prices and extra money… it’s over $60 to fill the gas tank.

So besides covering Kevin Harvick on race day, what else happened and what about photos? While we were up in New Hampshire, there was so much that happened during the day… starting with walking through the garage area, you couldn’t help but notice the crowds around Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s garage stall, Tony Stewart’s, Jeff Burton’s, what a busy place. In walking around, several teams have little picture cards of the drivers in front of the haulers, the Harvick one was a three photo hologram, nice touch. We also noticed the #7 car of Robby Gordon, his team was wrapping his car with his new sponsor Camping World, interesting sight.

The pre-show of the Motorcycles was a welcome treat, I was even able to snap a few photos in the process of watching it and they even had a band, too much bass for me, I prefer country music, you know Garth Brook, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, just to name a few. One thing that NASCAR really needs to do, is start these races at 1pm, this race after 2pm on the east coast is stupid, the entire race would have been run, yes, all 301 laps would have been finished before the heavy rains came. This is not the first time this has happened and it will not be the last time.

During the race, I ended up sitting on Kevin Havick’s pit box from just after the first pitstop just before lap 70 to the end of the race (around 200 laps total), during that time, I had my camera in hand, taking several photos, what a view, the only picture I couldn’t get was Harvick’s pitstop as I didn’t want to take photos of their operations on top of the pitbox including what was on the computers…that was my own call. I saw the Montoya/Busch wreck on TV, that was funny, Montoya totally took him out and then Busch’s car came back and hit him, that’s funny stuff right there, couldn’t have happened to two more hated drivers in the garage area, nice touch.

After the rains came, and a sight of the lightning behind the grandstands, I quickly climbed down from the pitbox, not the place to be with lightning in the area. We ended up taking shelter in the media center, interesting, Michael Waltrip showed up two minutes later after the race was called, he did an interview with a radio station I think, what did I do, I walked over and got a cold drink and watched the interview, I was only seven feet away, listening to the interview, Mikey, we were in the right place at the right time at the end of the race, then he and the 3rd place driver had their interviews with the rest of the media, unique sight to say the least.

Finally, we left to exit the infield tunnel and then all hell broke loss, since the driveway in front of the tunnel and out to the road was full of fans and was that was for at least one hour or more, we decided to exit were the fans exit via the back road behind the speedway, mistake, we sat in line for 2 hours and get this listening to the Garth Brooks “Ultimate Hits”, both CD’s with over 35 tracks, by the time we left, the 2nd CD had already started over. At one point, we were in a downpour and I though hail at one point. Once we exited the parking lot on to Rt. 106, it took us 2 and ½ hours including stopping for gasoline $57 and food at McDonalds. What a day, SMI needs to fix the parking, there’s no reason for these hold ups on the NHMS grounds.

All photos were taken by me (Brian Vermette) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this past Sunday (June 29, 2008) throughout the garage area, pits and during the race. (All photos are copyrighted.)

Enjoy, last Sunday was incredible.

- Racedriven

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

From the Garage to the #29 Pitbox: Shell’s Hot Pass was the perfect spot to watch the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

All photo were taken by me (Brian Vermette) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this past Sunday (June 29, 2008) throughout the garage area, pits and during the race except for the pitbox photo which was taken by my father ( of me sitting on top of the #29 pitbox.

It’s Sunday, race day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301, oh yeah, I love it, it’s 8am and my father and I are checking in at the press credentials office to pickup our press passes. (A hot pass to the garage area and pits, a media parking pass and a press pass to the media center and racetrack, and one incredible seat on top of the #29 Shell-Pennzoil Richard Childress Racing Pit box for the race day is what makes up Shell’s Best Seat in the House program on this Sunday.)

I’m not much for parking in the infield media parking, so again we parked in the overflow parking outside and up from the tunnel. While we are walking through the infield tunnel, the three RCR racing teams which include last year’s winner Clint Bowyer, the fall 2000 Cup race winner Jeff Burton and the fastest car in practice, qualified 3rd and the winner of the Sylvania 300 back in 2006 Kevin Harvick, are already hard at work in the garage area since around 7am making the final preparations on their racecars.

Each race team normally uses a two or three-page check list with each team member assigned a particular task to do, from setting up the frontend, checking the engine, transmissions, rear-end gears and etc, checking each nut and bolt, and once finished marked with that team members initials as complete. In walking through the garage area, it didn’t take me all long to find all three RCR race teams, the #31 Lenox Tools Chevy of Jeff Burton was in the second set of garage stalls, the #29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevy was in another garage just after the claw (inspection station) and the #07 Jack Daniels Chevy was either two or three garage stalls down from the #29 car.

All three RCR race team crews had their cars inside their garage stalls, one thing that will make just about anyone walking through the garage area jump, is when the racecars are brought outside the stalls, the rear-ends are put up on jack stands, the engine is running and they hit the gas, the rear tires are spinning, humming at full song, you can hear it all over the garage area, but try standing a couple feet behind the car, what a high pitched sound, that’s cool.

While walking through the garage, I could help but notice just how many things each crew member has to do besides working on the racecar and on Sunday in New Hampshire, mist or light rain was just adding to that list. After checking out the #29, #31 and #07 Chevrolet’s, yes, for some reason I am a Chevrolet man, at least when it comes to NASCAR, we began to head out on pitroad, where all three teams where currently setting up the pit stalls. Bring out those pitboxes, what a setup, open it up, lift the seats in to position, check the air lines, clean the pit stall or in on this day, dry the pits with a blower and yes, a leaf blower, nice touch and lay out the tires behind the pitbox.

Meanwhile, in the garage area, once each team is done setting their cars, it’s off to three inspection stations, we sat next to the third inspection station that was on pitroad, what a sight in itself, up goes each car, just another step. Ironically enough, the first two cars in the third inspection station on pitroad was the #07 and the #31, the #29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet came out not too long after. From there, it’s simply just putting your car on the grid on pitroad and you get ready for driver intros and the green flag (believe me, not that simple.)

The drop of the green flag is next… at this point we are standing at the #29 Shell-Pennzoil Pitbox, headsets on and getting ready to turn them loose. Green Flag is in the air, one help on pitroad is the Sprint-Nextel vision screen behind me where I watched Kevin Harvick go from his starting spot of 3rd to take on the lead on lap 5. From here on out, I was watch the man himself Kevin Harvick and his #29 pit crew including his crew chief Todd Berrier. Just after the first pitstop of four-tires and two cans of fuel, it was my turn to get on top of the pitbox, sitting next to some of the Shell guys, including what looked to be a father and son.

What a sight on that pitbox, there’s nothing like it, you can see the entire front straightaway, most of the pit stalls, pitboxes, the tires laid out and thousands of people walking on pitroad, not to mention the sold out 101,000+ race fans that invaded on New Hampshire Motor Speedway. On the pitbox, I sat in one of the back seats, behind the two pit crew members, the crew chief Todd Berrier and Kevin Harvick’s wife DeLana. Above the front seats are five monitors, two timing and scoring, a Directv Hotpass which had the #31 Jeff Burton covered and two TNT broadcasts (I think), I watched three screens, the Directv Hot pass, the TNT broadcast and the Sprint-Nextel Vision screen behind me.

I watched the crew chief Todd Berrier while I was up on the pitbox, he reminds me of Chad Knaus (#48 crew chief) who follows his racecar around, Todd does mostly the same, walking to the back to see the monitor and his racecar and back to the front. If you notice the picture on the right, my father took that of Berrier, next to Berrier are two guys in the back seat, first is a guy in the white shirt and next to him is another guy in a dark blue shirt with black headset on, that’s me in the blue shirt by the way…

I watched Kevin Harvick all day long, he drove mainly in the top 5 and top 10 most of the race, leading 54 laps, that’s cool, the pit stops during the race where quick and amazing all day including a four-tires, fuel, a trackbar and widget adjustment, boy hats off to the pit crew guys, that was fast from what I saw above. Sadly though, it would be the final pit stop of two tires and fuel which I thought was the right call and still think was the right call, while other cars either got fuel only or stayed out on lap 271, but Kevin Harvick wouldn’t have the chance to get back after it as another caution would came out for another wreck and it rained…hard. The race was called on lap 284 and Kevin Harvick and the #29 team finished 14th, they had a great run all day long, but the 14th finish didn’t do it justice. After the lightning off in the distance, I was jumping off the pitbox and heading to the media center, for our day with Shell that was it.

What an incredible day, I would like to first thank Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress, the entire #29 Shell-Pennzoil RCR Race team and RCR Racing for leading my father and I in for the day, also I would like to thank Shell, Edelman PR, Sam Brown for leading my father and I take in Shell’s Best Seat in the House for a second time and a special thanks to Judy and a nice women in the media center, who fixed the little problem we had. See yeah!

- Racedriven