Thursday, April 30, 2009

Team Shelby wins Bullrun 2 on SPEED.

As I sit here moments after watching the season finale of Bullrun 2: One Helluva ride, let alone not only watching, but blogging on the entire 10 episode season, I have to say, that Bullrun 2 ended up being a lot like the first season of Bullrun two years ago, however while the cars and the people have somewhat changed, and more importantly, the format and the loopholes have changed too, the competition hasn’t changed and neither have the wild challenges and that’s all a good thing.

But one comment, hopefully there is a season 3 of Bullrun, but one thing I loved it in the first season was when the team with the overall slowest time in that driving leg before and after the challenge was sent packing, but no swapping of times, maybe a time bonus like in the finals did, that’s what gave the show that excitement, and not deciding it by the luck of a challenge. I don’t know how you would do it, but that’s what added that bit of excitement to legs and the show.

With that said, in this season, there were a few of those moments that just left you speckles, the challenges normally did just that, from the precision driving each team had to do whether it was either racing through a course, down a drag strip, turn around and go back through the course with a different driver, to the challenge that took each of the three competitors out of their cars and it to four-door sedans and drive around a muddy, snow covered track, to get the best lap time while dodge cop cars that stood in their way.

But the most memorable challenge had to be in episode 4, not so much for the challenge itself, but for the results. Three competitors, Team Avalanche, Team Dart and Team Evo, each raced into a prison, break their co-driver out of a prison cell, race through a dirt course and fly out a closed gate, and you must stay on course.

This one resulted in a team emerging as a contender, Team Avalanche, while at the same time, first Team Dart co-driver decides after a strong performance to celebrate by doing donuts in the dirt, but ends up flipping the car over, causing a lot of damage and yet brought out team work alone everyone trying to fix the Dodge Dart. But second, Team Evo’s quest for winning Bullrun came to an end when at the end of the challenge, the co-driver drove straight instead of turning, went air born and came down, nailing a cement block and totaled the front end of the Evo at high speed. Even if the Evo survived which they didn’t, they were eliminated, the car was not drivable. What an ending and at the same time, Team Avalanche took there place in many ways.

If you missed any of the first 8 episodes, check my previous posts out below.
- Bullrun 2 on SPEED - One Helluva Ride hits the streets: Team Porsche is sent packing.
- Bullrun 2: Episode 2 – No dice for Team Pantera.
- Bullrun 2: Episode 3 – Team Ferrari just couldn’t get it right in the challenge.
- Bullrun 2: Episode 4 – Team Evo and Team Dart just didn't get the memo.
- Bullrun 2: Episode 5 – Goodbye Team Camaro.
- Bullrun 2: Episode 6 – Tough break for Team Dart.
- Bullrun 2: Episode 7 – It’s the end of the road for Team Solstice.
- Bullrun 2: Episode 8 – Sad ending for Team Lexus.

Finally lets get to the business at hand, at the beginning of the night, I was wondering how the Bullrun champion was going to be crowned following the departure of Team VW as the final three were revealed on the last episode and I was surprised.

With Team VW gone, it was down to Team Avalanche vs. Team Corvette vs. Team Shelby, what a finale, in the beginning, I never would have though these three teams would be left standing. Team Avalanche emerged as another hated team if you will especially with Team Corvette, Team Corvette stayed in the back of the pack for a few driving legs before emerging as a top contender by winning driving legs. Team Shelby, hasn't won a leg, had navigating problems throughout the season and was almost eliminated in the first challenge and yet here we are.

The Bullrun 2 Champion would be decided the old fashion way, which team was the best in the legs, and not by luck in challenges. First the teams would race from Phoenix to the first checkpoint. This one left me laughing out loud, I couldn’t believe it, first Team Corvette takes mostly highway, granted a longer route, but less traffic lights, while the other teams took some highway and the shorter route with traffic lights.

Team Corvette was first to arrive, but just like all three teams, had some trouble finding the entrance to Bullrun checkpoint. The laughing had to do with Team Avalanche, these guys found the checkpoint alright, but you had to come in through the entrance and each time they missed the entrance. Team Corvette just standing there looking at them as Team Avalanche just kept getting it wrong and pissed off, mean while, Team Shelby cleared traffic, closed fast and came in second with Team Avalanche coming in third.

To win Bullrun, you have to have the best overall time in the final leg to the checkpoint and from the checkpoint to the final stop, however the challenge would almost if not erase the error. The challenge was to start on a flatbed, go off, turn around and park back in the same spot without hitting the barrels. Winner gets a 10 minute bonus off their overall time, second gets a 5 minute bonus and third gets nothing. Wouldn’t you know it, Team Avalanche wins, Team Shelby second and Team Corvette third, now they were somewhat even.

What a way to end Bullrun, the three remaining teams had to drive to the London Bridge Beach, Lake Havasu in a night leg I might add and best overall time wins the from the entire leg wins and simply put...where's London Bridge Beach??? And


…third place goes to Team Corvette (Hats off to Team Corvette, that was one helluva ride),


Second Place is Team Avalanche (well, the Ford F-150 finished in third last season, the pickup moves up another spot, maybe in season 3 a pickup truck will win Bullrun, but not tonight.)

And the winner is Team Shelby. I could believe it, Team Shelby wins Bullrun 2, a team that didn’t win a leg and basically stayed under the radar for the entire game won Bullrun in a 2008 Shelby GT500 Super Snake with over 700 Horsepower, did I mention that Shelby sponsored the this season, what a way to go. Good job to Team Shelby, when the chips where down, they did it and found there way first, what's next!

Reconfiguration is the best option NASCAR has for both Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway.

As a NASCAR fan that has been watching and for the most part enjoying the sport (yes the sport does like most things in life have issues) for a good 17 years now, both Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway are among the most exciting racing in the sport, but not the only excitement. I love short track racing like Bristol, Martinsville, Richmond, and yes Phoenix and New Hampshire are getting to be exciting races with this new COT cars in the Cup Series.

Restrictor plate racing in mind eyes is a heart-stopping, yet hard to watch at times type (or form) of racing in NASCAR. Let me state the obvious, I am not a huge restrictor plate racing fan but while I don’t hate this type of racing, for the most part, I don’t like it too much either. I would describe restrictor plate racing as a giant chess match and at the same time, a game of survival, you don’t win one of these races, you survival the races, you just came in first in the game of survival. (It’s like winning CBS’s reality show Survivor”, you outwit, outplayed, and outlast your competitors, of course in this day that could describe most racing at this level.)

The good news for some NASCAR fans including me are that restrictor plate racing is only run four times a year, and in those four times, there is always the fear of "The Big One" that is caused half the time by aggressive driving or just that one stupid move.

When it comes to restrictor plate racing, there is a good sized difference between Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. Daytona is more of handling racetrack; drivers have a little bit more control, not much, but a little bit. The racing is better at Daytona as well. Both the Daytona 500 and the Firecracker 400 (I know the name has changed to the Coca Zero 400, but I like the Firecracker 400 better and the name fully describes the race) Normally I would rate the Daytona 500 in the top 5 best races of just about any given season including both the 2007 and 2008 season, but not in 2009, the race had its downfalls not of NASCAR’s making, it’s just a racing deal.

However when it comes to Talladega Superspeedway, that's a completely different story, at times it’s hard to watch a race both Series. There’s really no control and if you have read my blog before, while I have called one or two races in the past several years good, most of the time the headline has read "Demotion Derby at Talladega.... for NASCAR", its survival, period. That’s it, that’s not like watching a race at Richmond, Bristol, and Martinsville or even at Atlanta, but it is the art of restrictor plate racing.

After this past Sunday’s Aaron’s 499, NASCAR once again was put into a corner. The race was not only once again described as Demotion Derby, but was the same Talladega as it always is, some excitement and yet hard to watch at times, but this time, NASCAR, drivers, teams, owners, media and the fans got a huge realty check at just how dangerous not only racing is, but how dangerous restrictor plate racing is.

First, only 8 laps into the Aaron’s 499, “The Big One” struck several of the top contending drivers when in a tight pack up towards the front when Matt Kenseth got into Jeff Gordon touching off a chain reaction. Basically, if have tough packs, it’s rare to have a spinning car and not have it turned into a giant wreck and this collected not only Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick, but several other drivers including Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer with some done for the day.

I do have to say, hats off to first Michael Waltrip for an incredible safe when he got into his teammate #47, not the #47 doing and Waltrip slide down through the grass and down towards the start/finish line and didn’t hit the wall and second, Kurt Busch for making just about the same save, good piece of driving.

However, the end of the race was shaping up to be a two-driver battle between #39-Ryan Newman being bump drafted by #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., but out of nowhere going through the tri-oval and the white flag came out, #99-Carl Edwards in another two-car draft with #09-Brad Keselowski bump drafting him past Newman/Earnhardt Jr. to take the lead.


Carl Edwards slams into the catch fence on the last lap of last Sunday's Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo Credit: Yahoo! Sports)

But then the “nightmare” happened, going through the tri-oval, the #09 in second, tried to go to the high side to pass, but the #99 went to block, #09 went down (but stayed above the yellow line, yellow line was in effect) and stayed there, the #99 came down, the #09 was there, they touched and the #99 got air born, came down somewhat, but got nailed by the #39, launched sideways and into the outside catch fence with NASCAR fans on the other side, the catch fence did its job, holding the 3400ib stockcar in the track, but scattered debris into the stands where seven fans were injured, one with a broken jaw. (I hope everyone is ok, scary thing to watch)

The #09- Brad Keselowski slipped by to pickup his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, beating out his boss in the Nationwide Series and friend #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.. Carl Edwards would climb from a wrecked racecar and run across the finish line.

After the “nightmare” at the end of a very controversial Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, this has touched off reaction from the drivers, teams, owners, media and the fans not only at home, but who were at Talladega on Sunday calling for change, what should be down to create better safer racing for the drivers and the fans.

Two key pieces:
1. Even without the yellow line rule, this wreck most likely would have happened anyway, Brad Keselowski would have had to go into the grass and that would have touched off a whole different type of issues. The yellow line rule wasn’t at fault here, next.

2. Nor Brad Keselowski or Carl Edwards did another wrong, Brad had to stay above the yellow line and hold position, Carl was simply defending his position to get the victory, it was the last lap going through the tri-oval, the line was just car lengths away. So nor Brad or Carl was at fault.

No, this was NASCAR’s and the Talladega Superspeedway’s fault period, they created this, the drivers were just following the rules.

With that said, I’m not in pointing fingers and blame game business, I, as a NASCAR fan want this fixed, however I am not an expert on this and don’t claim to be, but I do have three suggestions.

1. NASCAR policing the racing by giving heavier penalties to drivers for blocking and aggressive driving isn’t the answer, you will still have the same danger, a lot of pissed off drivers and fans and the drivers will still do it anyway.

2. A temp solution to protect the fans and the people on pit road would be to move leave the original wall in the original spots and build new wall one lane further out with a 21 feet tall wall and a bigger overhang. This would give just a little bit more room between the racecars and the fans for safety and it would shorten up the grove at Talladega from turn 4 through the tri-oval and down to turn 1. At Daytona, it would be all the way around. At the same time, all racetracks should look at this as well and the inside wall too, flying debris can go anywhere from the grandstands to the infield.

For example: Last May at Lowe’s Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600, Brian Vickers wrecked in turn 2, losing a tire and wheel which flow off and landed in the infield in a camper foldout, debris can go anywhere.

Keeping with walls, put a outside wall between the pit road and the racing surface, Talladega, Daytona, Atlanta, Charlotte just to name a few don’t have one, that’s safety both ways.

3. But the best and most suggested is for both Talladega Superspeedway and the Daytona International Speedway to reconfigure the racetracks by lowering the banking, variable banking leading up to 24 degrees. This option would slow the cars down by making them brake going into the turn 1 and turn 3, but I would suggest flat corners. Currently these cars are around 200 MPH, that’s way too fast.

On Sunday at the conclusion of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, everyone from NASCAR to the drivers, teams, owners, media and the fans got a reality check as to how dangerous not only racing is, but how dangerous restrictor plate racing is, we got lucky, this could have been worse, but both the car and the catch fence did its job, but at the same time more needs to be down. I know danger is a part of racing and I understand that, but how dangerous does it need to be? And remember, safety is a part of racing, just like excitement and danger is a part of racing, what’s next?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Should General Motors keep several models including the G8 from brands being phased out?

With General Motors announcing that they are accelerating there revised Viability Plan which will focus on four core brands in the U.S. - Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC - with fewer nameplates and a more competitive level of marketing support per brand. At the same time will moves up the resolution of Saab, Saturn, and Hummer to the end of 2009 and phase out the Pontiac brand by 2010.

This not only got me thinking, but has a number of people thinking about what is going to happen to some of these vehicles under the phased out brands. For example, you have Hummer, Saab, Saturn and now the phased out by 2010 Pontiac, but the problem is while GM doesn’t need even four brands, they need two or three max they do need some well selling vehicles under those few brands. Pontiac has the G8 and the Solstice, Saturn has the Aura and Vue including the hybrid and I would be surprised if they didn’t save one Hummer, either the H2 or the H3, but as a diesel power plant.

One suggestion from the people over at the Straightline Blog is that GM should take the G8 and make it into the Chevrolet Camaro SS. Basically, the BMW M3 has both a coupe and a four-door sedan, so why not a four-door Chevrolet Camaro SS?



“The Camaro and the G8 already share a platform and although their engines aren't exactly the same they're pretty close. Leave the Impala for family duty and keep the rebadged G8 what it should be -- a full fledged sport sedan” – Straightline Blog

(Photo illustrations by Nick Wilcox, found on Straightline Blog)

However, in reading some of the comments, looking at the renderings above and looking at what models they have including Buick and Cadillac, Chevrolet currently has the Malibu and the Impala, but the Impala isn’t what it use to be, I agree with some of the comments, why not just have the G8 with its great styling replace the Impala, three more reasons would be, first the G8 would make a good cop car and family car, second, nor the Ford Mustang or the Dodge Challenger has a four-door model and that’s the Camaros competition nor should they ever and third, I agree with one comment in particular, “A 4 door Camaro seems wrong.”

So what does every one think, should GM make the G8 into a Camaro SS, the replacement of the Impala or let it go? My vote is for the G8 to be the replacement of the Chevrolet Impala with an SS model.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

From NASCAR and IndyCar Series to a four-door Sedan Porsche.

Whether it’s NASCAR, Motorsports, Automobiles or more entertainment here on RaceDriven.com, I bring you my opinion (because that is what blogging is – someone’s take on any subject) in style, so let’s get started.

1. Topping the list from this past Saturday night’s Subway 500 race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in Phoenix has to Mark Martin, Martin grabbed the pole for race, lead 157 of the 312 laps and captured his first victory since 2005 (Kansas), this was also his first win with Hendrick Motorsports.

I highlighted this one for a few reasons, mainly due to as a NASCAR fan who has been following the sport for over 17 years now, I not only have my favorite drivers that I watch every race like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart, but there are also those drivers like Jeff Burton and Mark Martin that I have respect, so seeing Mark Martin driving for Hendrick Motorsports and get his first victory in since 2005 was an incredible sight to see, he and that entire #5 team deserve it, next will be making the chase for the sprint cup in September.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. vs. Casey Mears: The debate now lives on as first, as I was reading the NASCAR Insider where T.C. highlighted ESPN’s David Newton’s latest column on "Junior Rules" (by the way, check out this articles on their T.C. from IN on "Junior Rules", I agree with it), second, NASCAR announced on Tuesday that both DALE EARNHARDT JR. AND CASEY MEARS ARE ON PLACED ON PROBATION FOR NEXT SIX RACES which starts this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

* Dale Jr. thought that Casey Mears had done him wrong by spinning him out late in the Subway 500, so Dale Jr. after the race showed Casey Mears his displeasure by spinning him out on-track just before the pitroad entrance, there was really no danger where he did it, and then Mears came back and hit Junior’s car several times on pitroad going into the garage.

* I don’t believe that there is “Junior rules”, but I will say if there are “Junior rules”, there are “Champion rules” too, like Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, those two come to mind right away, think out it, I don’t believe it, but if one’s there, the other has to be there too.

* The penalty, six-race probation is the same as what Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch got for the exact same incident last August at Bristol. Carl Edwards used the bump and run on Kyle Busch to win, Busch wasn’t happy, so after the race, Busch hit Carl in the door three times and then Carl came back and spun out Busch out, same deal people end of story.

3. Penske Racing reunion: After Helio Castroneves was found not guilty on tax charges last week, Helio returned to the IndyCar Series at the Long Beach Grand Prix driving his #3 Penske Racing Indycar which put the spotlight on not only him who finished 7th Sunday, but his one-race replacement Will Power. In my opinion, Will Power racing in Long beach this past weekend had something to prove not only as the defending winning of the Long Beach Grand Prix, but that he deserves a full-time ride, by the way, mission accomplished.

The Long Beach Grand Prix is known for many things and passing isn’t one of them. For Will Power, it was his first time driving #12 Verizon Wireless Indycar and just like the winner he is, he grabbed the pole on Saturday and then in fuel saving mode, held off a hard charging Tony Kanaan to capture a second place finish in the race, it was a great way to show just what he could do, now if only Penske Racing would put him not only in the Kansas race this weekend, but in the the #12 car for the rest of the season, everyone including the IndyCar Series fans could see just what he can do, well at least according to SPEEDtv, he will be in at Indianapolis.

4. A Four-door Porsche? Earlier this past weekend at the Shanghai Motor Show, Porsche unveiled the Panamera that will go on sale this fall, their first four-door sedan. The Porsche Panamera features either a 4.8-liter direct-injected V8 or Audi's new supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and a hybrid system will join the lineup in 2011. So why is a four-door Porsche sedan so interesting?

My opinion is Porsche, it’s about time you built a four-door sedan, Audi did it and so did BMW, what took you so long. When it comes to the consumers, many of them want a Porsche, but need a four-door, so this might be would they are looking for and try explaining a Porsche coupe to your wife and kids.

To begin with, I can’t afford a Porsche period, second I would rather have an Audi A4 TDI if I could, but third, I have a Porsche Cayman S poster and I have always loved the look of a Porsche, they just have that unique look to them, style is a work of art, yes a car can be a work of art, an amazing thing to look at and also drive, now I can’t want to see this in persona t the next autoshow. (Photo and information credit: Autoblog.com via Porsche)

5. Ending out this list has to be Justin Allgaier, a rookie in the NASCAR Nationwide Series that has impressed me since he qualified for the Nationwide Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway last October and at the same time, won the 2008 ARCA Series championship.

In the Bashas' Supermarkets 200 in Phoenix last Friday night was a classic example of just what this rookie contender in the Nationwide Series can do, he rebounded from crashing in qualifying and starting 42nd to battle his way up through the field to finish in the 8th spot just behind another rookie contender Brendan Gaughan who finished 7th. Justin Allgaier, that’s what contending for victories and trying to win rookie of the year is all about.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

American Chopper: What are the top 10 best OCC bikes and what about the show now?

As an American Chopper fan since the pilot episode, a show that is now in its 6th season, I want to take this time to answer two questions, first, what are the top best OCC bikes? And second, what about the show now in its 6th season, is American Chopper's 15 minutes of fame over?

What are the top 10 best OCC bikes?
In no particular order: Jet bike, Fire Bike, POW/MIA Bike, Lincoln Mark LT Bike, Black Widow Bike, Liberty Bike, Gillette Bike, Mercedes-AMG Bike, HP Bike and Intel Chip Chopper.

Gallery - Gillette Bike and Sunoco bike:


What about the show now: Is American chopper’s 15 minutes of fame over?
Every since American Chopper first premiered with the pilot episode, the Jet bike (one of the best bikes OCC has built to date next to the Fire Bike of course), the building of Cody’s bike and Biketoberfest, I was hooked.

The first two episodes not only showcased father vs. son being either Paul Sr. the pioneer, the one who started Orange County Choppers in his basement and grow it into small business in a single garage vs. Paul Jr., the master builder and designer of the Jet Bike, Fire Bike and more or vs. Mikey, the entertainer and worker, but more so, the show showcased the building of some of the most amazing bikes and work of arts I’ve every seen.

By the way, Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. need each other, because Paul Sr. started and developed the company while Paul Jr. designed and built the bikes with the guys in the shop.

The building of the bikes and the shop life was what got my attention in the first place, it’s about how each bike or chopper went to together from the certified frame to the handmade gas tank, transmission, motor, handlebars right down to the wiring and wheels and tires combo and more.

However over the past two seasons and a change in networks, this American Chopper fan has seen a huge change in the way the show American Chopper is showcased on television, basically American Chopper has become nothing more than just another reality show showing off some celebrity’s life that isn’t unique to watch. Basically, what use to be is now all but gone.

Take the latest season installment, season 6, each episode now showcases two bikes with minimum design and building and more a little shop life, their personal life’s and really nothing to watch each week, where is excitement in the show? Where is the fun in the show? The design process and building the bike from scratch?

Well that is it for me, in my opinion, just like so many television shows, American Chopper has had their 15 minutes of fame, it’s over.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bullrun 2: Episode 8 – Sad ending for Team Lexus.

Winning a driving leg one week doesn’t mean you’ll win every week, nor are you safe from elimination in the following weeks. So there seems to a trend here, first it was Team Solstice winning the first driving leg, then after leg 7 and being thrown into a mud challenge, Team Solstice bit the dust and was sent packing. Second, you had Team Lexus, who won legs 2 & 3, like I said in the beginning, winning a driving leg one week doesn’t mean you’re safe from elimination a couple of weeks later.

So here we are on leg 8 and I have to say, finally the notion has sunk into these final five teams that is not just some Sunday drive but is a competition and they are competing for the victory and $200,000. At this point with everything so tight and only five teams in, the driving legs are not all that much entertaining too begin with, however with this new feud between Team Avalanche (the new Team Evo) and Team Corvette, this leg had a few of those moments that bear repeating. Team Avalanche, guys just drive as fast as you can in each driving leg, don’t shoot your mouth off, get any speeding tickets or get lost and you should be on solid ground, wow that’s a hard plan to follow.

I though even the notion of Team Avalanche trying to flag down a Mac Truck to put a block on Team Corvette made for interesting television, but was stupid, of course they even pulled over to the side of the highway to flag down a truck, of course no dice and they got passed by Team Corvette and by the way, they don’t win the driving leg. On the flip side, I felt bad for Team Lexus, they followed the leader out of the gate Team Corvette and then ran into nothing but problems throughout the leg and came in last. Team Lexus is a team that even I was rooting for, not just because there two cute girls in a nice Lexus, but because they won a few driving legs and had a good strategy through the competition so far, fly under the radar, but in coming in last, it would be there first challenge, not bad.

Of course Team Shelby came in second to last and was automatically in the challenge too. The funny thing, Team Corvette beat Team Avalanche and won the driving leg for the third time in a row. However you would think third time would be a charm and not only putting Team Avalanche in (their 5th straight challenge by the way) but getting Team Avalanche out.

Nope, what a challenge, just like the driving legs, the challenges are precision driving. In this case, the challenge was going from one station power sliding into a bag of flower, a water bucket and then a plain of glass. I don’t know you could power slide a Chevrolet Avalanche, but he did, what driving, that was cool to watch and in the end Team Avalanche wins the challenge again, leaving Team Lexus and Team Shelby to fight it out for the final spot.

But because Team Lexus didn’t hit the flower, Team Lexus got a couple of penalties and was sadly sent packing and another winner bites the dust.

Think about what I said in the beginning, first it was Team Solstice going from winning the 1st and 4th leg to being sent packing, now its Team Lexus after winning the 2nd and 3rd leg, to be sent packing this week, so if the pattern continues, that would mean Team Avalanche would be next as they won leg 5. I should mention that Team Corvette has won three in a row, so what about Team VW? Team Shelby? Four teams remain, Team Corvette, Team Avalanche, Team Shelby and Team VW, who’s next?

(Photo Credits: Team Lexus via CarDomain)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A pair of 2004 Ford Mustang Concept cars sells for $175,000 each at the 2009 Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach.


2004 Ford Mustang GT Concept Coupe that auctioned off for $175,000 at the 2009 Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach Car Auction. (Photo Credit: NetCarShow.com)

As a Motorsports and Car Enthusiast, one series of events that I always look forward to watching on television is the Barrett-Jackson and if last January’s Barrett-Jackson from Scottsdale was any indication, the auction prices would lower than years past, but still a good reasonable buy for collectors. In looking at the previews online for this Palm Beach auction, a few cars caught my eye in and among the Corvettes, Camaros, Cudas, you know muscle cars and of course on customs cars as well and maybe even a Dodge Power Wagon were three Ford Mustangs.

The first two Mustangs are two of the same, one is a convertible and the other is a coupe, yes I am talking about first, the Red 2004 Ford Mustang GT Concept Convertible that with a few incentives included with the bill of sale car sold for $175,000 for charity.

However the second car had just a little bit more drama to it, a Silver 2004 Ford Mustang GT Concept Coupe. This concept car started off with some good bidding, you would hope that with the first Mustang Concept car being auctioned off for $175,000 that this one would hopefully sell for the same, however with the car not even coming close to that number, the bidding war would go from the bidders to the Barrett-Jackson leaders, Craig Jackson vs. Steve Davis. Since when does Barrett-Jackson get involved in auctions anyway, but I guess since all of the money goes to charity anyway, why not. The hammer price ended up being $175,000 with all proceeds going to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

These two Mustang Concept cars ask an interesting question, to everybody, what would you do with either one of these 2004 Ford Mustang GT Concept Cars knowing that you couldn’t register them and drive then on the streets? Personally I don’t know what I would do with the vehicle, I mean cars are meant to be driven not just showed off, but I guess I would not only put it on display in my garage, but trailer it in and display it at car shows, but like I said, car meant to be driven period.

Since cars are meant to be driven, if I were going to buy one collector car (either at Barrett-Jackson or a dealership) it would have to be the 2010 Shelby GT500. This is the same GT500 car that was to be auctioned off at the 2009 Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, but since Carroll Shelby wasn’t under the weather, the auction was held off until earlier today which is a good draw for this show. It’s great to see Carroll Shelby up on stage, this Mustang is a Shelby GT500 first retail car and all of the money goes to charity. In years past, a similar car would go for normally $500,000-$600,000, however this 2010 Shelby GT500 with several upgrades and more was auctioned off for $150,000 (for this day in age that was a good buy).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift take top honors at the 2009 ACM Awards.

As I sit here a couple days later reading about the price increases on MP3’s at iTunes, Amazon, Walmart and just about everywhere else with some MP3’s 99 cents to $1.29, a 30% increase which will hurt some artists, fans will think twice before buying, personally I buy CD’s and digital downloads and only have just so much money, once it’s gone, that’s it…

…I began to think about the Academy of Country Music Awards this past weekend, of course I watched the ACM Awards on Monday evening when I had the opportunity too I have to say for not only this country music fan, but Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift fan, it was a night to remember in so many ways.

Every year I look forward to watching both the ACM’s and the CMT music awards on television, of course the ACM’s has a great host too, Reba McEntire. Both awards shows offer a good selection of awards that honor the music videos, songs, groups, duo, female and male artists and best of the best, but the awards shows also offer some of the best artists performing one of their hit songs live on stage and for most of these artists, they pull out all of the stops.

Last year I wrote about the ACM’s and the headline read “Taylor Swift does it again with her performance of “Should’ve Said No” at the 2008 ACM Awards.”, now for 2009, the performance where just as incredible from several different artist coming out and singing during the kick off with Brook & Dunn which was a little different to hearing Sugarland on the lower stage. The performances even included a Lady Antebellum and John Rich on the lower stage. I take it that John Rich doesn’t care for the auto ballout plan, (his Detroit song "Shuttin' Detroit Down," gave it away).

However two performances got me attention, both in unique ways, first was Carrie Underwood singing “I Told You So” on stage in a beautiful red dress (the photo on the right was taken by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) that I think even Reba would have loved to be wearing. Right now on television, Carrie Underwood has a music video out of her singing that very song “I Told You So” on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. The reason I bring this up is she closes her eyes during the song a couple of times and in the video, she does that and when she opens her eyes in one of the takes, she reminds me when her eyes opens of a butterfly spreading its wings, I don’t why it made me think of that, it’s just a beautiful performance.

The second one was centered around Taylor Swift. The introduction was even unique, personally I have never watched a David Copperfield special in my life (I know), so seeing him introduce her using magic was a different experience. David brought Taylor down from the roof in a cage and had her appear, from their Taylor sang “You’re Not Sorry” on a piano with her band, very interesting performance that as long as I can remember seeing her perform on stage is a first, I liked it, she even hit a few high notes and song was good.

But she was surprised when Reba called her over to give her an ACM Crystal Milestone award to recognize that she's sold more albums than any other artist this year and has helped country music attract a younger audience.

One thing I want to mention, I only started listening to country music again in 2005 (I believe) when my father had a Carrie Underwood “Some Hearts” CD and I decided to listen to it and not too long after that, I bought a Taylor Swift self-titled CD and loved both of them. Carrie and Taylor are my favorite artists, they are the ones I listen to the most and the reason why I listen to country music in the first place, so I loved hearing that Taylor Swift received that ACM award, she deserves it and yes, the day her Fearless CD came out, I bought it at Walmart (Walmart is the closet), so Taylor Swift winning ACM Album of the Year is cool too and well deserved.

When it came to the awards, most were not a surprise at all, Brad Paisley winning Top Male Vocalist, Video of the Year and VOCAL EVENT OF THE YEAR with Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood winning Top Female Vocalist, Sugarland for Top Vocal Duo and Rascal Flatts for Top Vocal Group (there the best in those categories, that’s why they win). I wasn’t really surprised, but so happy to see Julianne Hough (after winning Top New Female Vocalist) win Top New Artist, she’s the best in that category, her CD is good.

However the surprise of the night had to be seeing Carrie Underwood win the fan voted Entertainer of the Year Award, she is the first female to do it since the Dixie Chicks in 2000, what a great choice. Everyone needs to remember when it comes to the Entertainer of the Year Award, the fans are the ones going to concerts, buying tickets, CD’s and just about everything else for these favorite artists, so having the fans vote on it is perfect.

One note, what an interesting acceptance speech by Carrie Underwood, she was completely shocked, she said she even blacked out once her name was called, but Carrie, no apology needed for the Matthew McConaughey joke, I thought that the joke was funny, can’t wait to see what she does next.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What was the biggest story of the Samsung 500 weekend: Jeff Gordon’s victory or the radio communications issue?

As I sit here writing this article and watching the SPEED replay of the Samsung 500, I began to think about a question, was Jeff Gordon’s victory in last Sunday’s Samsung 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup series race at Texas Motor Speedway the biggest story of the weekend?

Recently I asked a NASCAR fan that very question and I added if the answer wasn’t Jeff Gordon, where did Jeff Gordon’s victory rank among the list? His response sort of stunted me for a moment, he said the biggest story of the Texas race wasn’t that Jeff Gordon broke his winless streak and won at Texas, but was Jimmie Johnson and how even though he started 9th, he ended up fighting his way from the back to the front and finishing a close second. The Jeff Gordon victory didn’t rank very high in his eyes, there were much bigger stories then Gordon’s first Texas victory and him snapping his 47-race winless streak.

You know, I understand where he is coming from with that statement, I mean unless you are a Gordon fan, that victory might not meant much to the average NASCAR fan and that there were bigger stories throughout the race. Think about it, what did Gordon do exactly? Jeff Gordon started on the front row, dominated, leading the most laps, and stayed up front most of day and at the end, bet his teammate and won the race. So besides Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, who or what was the biggest stories? Of course we could talk about David Reutimann, “The Franchise” not only finishing in the 11th, spot, but is 11th in Cup Points.

However the biggest story that at least came to a head at Texas was, should NASCAR keep the radio communications public for media, fans and everyone else who wants to listen public or at the request of Kurt Busch made private?

As a NASCAR fan who goes to the race track every year, watches the NASCAR practice, qualifying and races both at the track and on television, I love to listen to the radio communications between the drivers, crews, crew chiefs, spotters and whoever else has access.

When I go to the race track, I bring a scanner and headset with me to listen during practice, qualifying and the race itself. The radio communications are amazing, it keeps me informed at the track, from what is going on, where my favorite driver is and how they are doing to something as simple as what the cautions flags is for and how many laps to go. In one race, I heard the race was going to be shortened due to another race on being broadcasted on television coming up next (time shortened event), I heard that 5-10 minutes before they announced it on the track announcements, good information.

However the good information and interaction does come at a price, it’s raw and unedited, not for children and use at your own risk. I’ve heard Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, do I need to go on, say some colorful language and have heated conversions during track action (ex a race) and I don’t care, it’s part of the race, it happens. Those drivers are strapped into a 3400 pound stockcar for 3-4 hours, temp may reach 130 degrees and if it’s not going right, there’s going to be words period, but nobody should be fined or judged by it.

Over the years some of the media and fans have been not only talking about the radio communications that they hear from the drivers to the spotters and the crew chiefs, but some cases writing about it. The media writes and reports on the communications regularly and if that wasn’t enough, the television broadcasts use the radio communications live airing them during the race.

In my opinion, several bloggers said it the best, each scanner sold/rented should come with warning label, use (listen) to the radio communications at your own risk, second that goes for televisions broadcasters like FOX, TNT, ESPN/ABC’s too, it s there responsibly to scan the conversation first, then air it without the colorful language and if they don’t, they should be fined.

Bottom Line, the NASCAR Insider said it the best, “By putting on those headphones, you should automatically be agreeing to a little contract. We will allow you to listen, but you in turn give up any right to judge, punish, or look down on what is said and who says it.” and “If you can’t handle that, then don’t listen.”

That goes for the media too, leave the drivers alone, most NASCAR fans want to hear the radio communications and NASCAR, please leave it public for all to hear and don’t fine the drivers, teams, owners, crew chiefs or spotters.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bullrun 2: Episode 7 – It’s the end of the road for Team Solstice.

As Bullrun begins to head for the home strength in the series, it is now coming down to just a matter of minutes that separate each competitor (team) from first to last in each leg. At this point, if a team doesn’t win the leg, chances are, that team will either be one of the two teams at the bottom or just thrown in to the challenge by the winning team of that leg.

Winning legs one week, doesn’t mean you are safe the next week and now that Team Corvette once again won the leg, they were in changed of one team’s future. So it’s safe to say if you get into a heated exchange the night before with the winner of the leg, you’re going into the challenge. That’s what happened to the new Team Evo, yeah, Team Avalanche, guys payback is a b****, you keep shooting your mouths off, let alone calling teams out (Team Lexus) or fighting with teams, you’re going into challenge.

So Team Corvette wins for another week, Team Solstice and Team VW are at the bottom and Team Avalanche is thrown it. What an exchange after that, Team Corvette is just driving the legs and yet Team Avalanche just wants to be on television fighting with just about every team in Bullrun.

However the fights in my opinion didn’t compare to the challenge, I love it, even it out, each team would race around an muddy, snowy oval in cop cruisers with cop cars following, trying to aped there progress of not getting a good timed lap. Personal as much as I wanted to see Team VW or even Team Solstice go home, Team Avalanche’s time is up, just not this time as Team Solstice would be sent packing over Team Avalanche.

Two observations, one, Team Avalanche is marked, unless they win the next leg, they will be in the next challenge, if they, Team Corvette will be in. Two, I think Team Lexus has the upper hand right now, they look to be right on track for possibly winning Bullrun 2.

(Photo Credits: Team Solstice via CarDomain)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Of Bristol, Martinsville, and Richmond, which is the best short track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule?

Over the years in NASCAR, short tracks like North Wilkesboro (boy I miss those races) have come and gone and now with only three short tracks left on the schedule, which short track, Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and Richmond International Raceway, currently in 2009, which is the best short track on the schedule and why?

Before I get into my answer, I am going to use the three most recent races from all three race tracks as an example, first, the fall Richmond 2008, second, the Food City 500 at Bristol last month (March 2009) and third, the Goody’s 500 at Martinsville from this past weekend (March 2009).

First, last September’s Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, once Tropical Storm Hanna blow through, both the Cup Series and the Nationwide Series races were pushed to Sunday, setting up a unique doubleheader day. Would running the race in the day vs. the night make difference?

No way, the action on track was still typical Richmond and heated at times to say the least. One thing that I noticed right front the start was there were three groves at times during the race, which created three wide racing. One moment during this race had to be seeing MWR’s David Reutimann showing some strength by staying out and leading a lot of laps, that was a welcome treat after everything MWR has gone through.

However, leave it to Kyle Busch to make a smoke screen after contact with Dale Jr. I feel like I have to comment on this one, from what the camera angle was, Dale Jr. was going into turn 1 behind Busch, had his splitter up to Busch’s door and Busch I guess didn’t hear inside, inside or something, came down and got spun out by Junior, that’s it. Personally, I loved it, but it’s not Dale Jr., he’s not going to risk championship points to payback “shrub”, not when winning the championship is worth much more period.

Well, after all of the drama with scrub vs. Dale Jr., this race would come down to a duel between Tony Stewart and of course Jimmie Johnson. Smoke would lead, but Johnson like so many times, was just a little bit better not only chasing him down, but passing him and then holding smoke off to win again at Richmond. This race just so happened to be the final race to the chase and a statement made to everyone else by Jimmie Johnson.

Second, we the famous half-mile bullring known as Bristol Motor Speedway, which was the sight of the Food City 500 from last month. At Richmond last September, I asked, would the racing be different from night to day? While the answer at Richmond was no, the answer for some reason at Bristol this time around was yes (normally it’s no). I take you back to August 2008, the Sharpie 500 at Bristol under the lights. A race that was mainly dominated by Kyle Busch, but behind him had some of the best racing on this new surface I had seen yet and to top it all off, Carl Edwards used the bump and run on Kyle Busch to pass and win the race.

Now fast forward to the spring race last month for the Food City 500, while Kyle Busch dominating the race was the same, that’s where the similarities end. This race was different for some reason, the racing has changed this time around and to me, it wasn’t for the better, but if you can believe it, it’s not bad neither, however the bottom line is, it’s not the Bristol racing that we are use to seeing and it wasn’t the Bristol racing we had last August or even last March, go figure, how did I come up with that one?

Anyway, it’s Bristol after all and in front of a sold out crowd of 160,000 fans, Kyle Busch showed his strength leading earlier and often. He dominated the race, leading the most laps by far, 378 of 503 laps, and even though we had a green-white-checkered, Busch had the field covered over his teammate Denny Hamlin. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne would round out the top 5. A couple of high notes were seeing Mark Martin finish in the 6th, Ryan Newman in 7th and Marcos Ambrose finished in the 10th spot, all three needed some good finishes and they got it.

Third, Martinsville Speedway, one of the charter racetracks on the NASCAR schedule and the sight of some of the most amazing races in recent years, for example, two years ago, 2007, a rain delay during the race created a 150 lap sprint race of who had the better tires. The race led to a side-by-side battle in the final 10 laps for the victory between Jimmie Johnson and teammate Jeff Gordon. This is the same race that even produced some harsh words during the race from Jeff Gordon directed at Johnson, however words didn’t get the job done and Jimmie Johnson edged Gordon at the line for the victory.

With that said, fast forward to this past weekend’s Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, which turned out to be one of the best races so far in 2009, if not the best and in front of a lot of fans. I have to say, there really was no surprises in this 500 lapper, it was just good old fashion side-by-side racing, bumper to bumper racing with no real second grove, it your typical exciting short track racing at its finest.

There is no other way to describe it. Anyway, with qualifying rained out, Jeff Gordon started on the pole, with most short track racing, you typically see one or two drivers dominate the race and at Martinsville, that’s what it was, Jeff Gordon vs. Denny Hamlin. What a show these two put on throughout 400+ short tracks laps, at one point I was expecting Jeff Gordon to give Denny Hamlin the chrome horn, but he didn’t. This is a more experienced Gordon, I remember several times over the years when Gordon would with no question put the bump to somebody and more them. Bristol, Richmond and Rusty Wallace comes to mind, Dale Jarrett years ago in New Hampshire or even more, Gordon vs. Gordon at New Hampshire in November.

But you know, this would be Martinsville without Hendrick Motorsports and on their 25th anniversary of their first victory, it was only fitting to see a Hendrick driver go to victory lane. But wouldn’t you know it, dominating a race means if you are not the best at the end and when the money is on the line, Jimmie Johnson raises from nowhere to contend. I watched the final laps of this one, Denny Hamlin leading, Jimmie Johnson making contact, but the media made a mountain out of a mole hill here, it was just racing, Johnson went into turn 3 going under Hamlin, Hamlin came down and they touched, both went up the racetrack, saved it and wouldn’t you know it, “Mr. Martinsville”, Jimmie Johnson wins again.

Now the question at hand, Of Bristol, Martinsville, and Richmond, which is the best short track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule? You ask several different race fans and several different answers, however as much as I like Martinsville and Bristol racing (not counting last month’s Bristol race), I have to say, I love Richmond. Richmond at time has three groves, good old fashion side-by-side racing and last Septembers race was exactly what fans needed. But I will say this, I still love watching Martinsville and Bristol, however I still miss North Wilkesboro Speedway, that was a good short track, what a shame.