Friday, October 30, 2009

Do you agree with Popular Mechanics winners of 2010 Automotive Excellence Awards?

Every year, automotive magazines, websites, journalists and more come out with their picks of what vehicles they believe are the best of the year like the Car and Drivers 10Best and this past Wednesday was no different when after well over 100,000 miles of testing was done on over 100 of the newest cars, trucks and sport-utility vehicles, Popular Mechanics Magazine announced their 2010 Automotive Excellence Awards.

“Despite a tumultuous year in the automotive industry, engineers have rolled out some of the best cars we’ve ever seen,” said James Meigs, editor-in-chief, Popular Mechanics. “We are exceptionally proud of this year’s Automotive Excellence Award winners, all of which represent the innovation and foresight that will keep this industry moving forward.”

The recipients of the fourth annual Popular Mechanics Automotive Excellence Awards:

Performance: Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Design: Chevrolet Camaro
Value: Kia Soul
Fuel Efficiency: Toyota Prius
Versatility: Subaru Outback
Fun to Drive: Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Off-Road Ability: Ford F-150 Raptor
Technical Innovation: Lexus Remote Touch
Luxury: BMW 335d
Workhorse: Ford Transit Connect

However after reading this list, do you agree with Popular Mechanics winners of 2010 Automotive Excellence Awards?

When I look at this list, I have to say that while I agree on some and see where they choice that make and model, in other categories, the results have left me asking why.

Of course let’s start with a few categories that I agree with like the Fuel Efficiency going to the Toyota Prius. How on earth it gets those numbers is interesting to me, but nonetheless, it is what it is. However I would actually choice a Audi A3 TDI or a VW Jetta TDI. The advancement in diesels is amazing right now. It surprises me that more consumers don’t look into these types of vehicles, gasoline isn’t going to be around forever, you are going to have to explore alternative fuels sooner or later.

In the performance category, the Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro definitely put up some amazing numbers in performance, but I can also see how the Ford Shelby GT500 beats out the rest this year. The same can be said for design, the Chevrolet Camaro is incredible to look at. Chevrolet’s designers hit this one right on the mark. The 2010 Camaro reminds me of the First Generation Camaro (1967,1968,1969). I will say though that the 2005 Ford Mustang was incredible to look at too as is the 2009 Dodge Challenger. Both were designed with the past in mind as was the new Camaro.

Value left me wondering why, the Kia Soul might have a balance between price tag, power and everything else inside, but it’s ugly. MotorWeek compared the Kia Soul, Scion xB and the Nissan Cube and while they did end with the Kia Soul, the Scion xB was a good compromise between the Soul and the Cube. I would have chosen the Scion xB here, consider its reasonable fuel economy, space (cargo space included), power and it’s not as ugly.

However what simply got my attention had to be three categories, the fun to drive going the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, the off-road ability going to the brand new Ford F-150 Raptor and in Luxury was the BMW 335d. The Raptor was made for off-road, however in not seeing the tests on it, I can’t say for sure that I would agree here. I mean you didn’t get that off-road ability from a Trail Rated Jeep or a Land Rover, really, REALLY?

Under fun to drive, I have to say that from what I have read and seen, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is a giant surprise especially considering the guys from took it on the 2009 Targa Trophy rally and finished 6th, but nothing is as fun to drive is a BMW.

Finally is luxury, I’m curious why they choose the BMW 335d? Well Popular Mechanics defined it as “Luxury cars don’t have to be one-dimensional. The 335d blends luxury, performance, fuel economy and fun into one very rewarding package.” I will definitely agree on the performance, fun to drive and the fuel economy, but the jury with me is still out on the best in luxury, what about a Porsche?

Remember that there are a lot of awards that come out every single year for automotive excellence and while you might not agree with all of them (I know I didn’t as I said above), it does leave you pondering a few of them that you might not have considered before. But I will say that like I said above, the 10Best included in a Corvette, Porsche and a VW in theirs, what’s in yours?

(Source: Popular Mechanics; Photo credit:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Health Care Reform and a Public Option: Yes or No?

No Government Public Option, instead help each state run their own that is subsidized though a health care insurance company.

One of the most talked about subjects in the United States right now is health care reform and here in the United States, it costs a lot of money to get health insurance let along dental. Now let me state the something right from the start, I don’t know too much about the current talks on health care reform going on in Washington D.C. right now, it’s only in what I hear in the media. However I have heard the talk about having a government run public option.

I have to say out loud that I’m opposed to a government run public option. As a Massachusetts resident who is currently unemployed just like a lot of people right now, I was forced to use the Massachusetts run public health care insurance called Mass Health. I fill out the forms every now and then for status and it’s a good option and model for Massachusetts residents. I’m not the only one who uses it, there is demand here for it in every state.

So with Massachusetts and a few other states already having their own health care insurance that is subsidized though a health care insurance company, why does the federal government need to have one too? And why doesn’t every state have one for their residents?

I strongly believe that the federal government needs to leave out the public option on their Health Care Reform bill.

First, think about it for a moment, the Federal Government already has Medicare and something else and it doesn’t work. Second, why should the Federal Government build one if Massachusetts and a few other states already have a public option for their residents.

So I propose instead of the Federal Government running or subsidizing health care insurance though a health care insurance company to everyone who needs it, the government should just help each states (all 50 states) create and maintain their own health care insurance using the Massachusetts model.

Personally I would rather have Massachusetts or if I lived in another state run it (which is subsidized though a health care insurance company) instead of the government. Another reason is more options for the consumer/resident who needs coverage. If the Federal Government runs it and there is a huge issue, the only option you have is private insurance company. If each state runs there’s separate, you have more options just by moving to another state.

Basically to the Federal Government and everyone in Washington, No public option, instead just add funding to each state and let them run their own health care plan options. The Massachusetts health care insurance works, so just help each state have the Massachusetts health care insurance model for their residences.

The Health Care Reform bill should work on the overall cost like for example, when I went to the hospital years ago after a automobile crash, the bill was almost $600, now the bill is even more. How about prescription costs? Doctor visit costs? Emergency Room costs? And what about waiting time to get a doctor's appointment? Work on that.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Is the world big enough for both Facebook and Twitter?

According to an article on Mashable that talks about the “The Web 2.0 Summit” in San Francisco, the Twitter CEO said “The world is big enough for Facebook and Twitter.”

In reading that one quote, that got me thinking and while I’m not going to go into full details, I truly believe that he is right for now in the year 2009. The future is bright for social networking which includes blogging, lifestreaming, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook and more, at least in my eyes.

While I will get into all of social networking in the future, today I am talking solely on Twitter and Facebook.

As a webguy who uses the internet daily from looking for articles, news, information, connecting with friends, family, old high school classmates and just exploring, both services have their positives and negatives.

I currently use both services, I have been using Twitter @RaceDriven for months now and Facebook (Brian Vermette) for two months now and both service yield differently to me.

Twitter is a basic service that you can communicate with all over the world just by typing in a short 140 character message as well as post pictures to using the Twitpic. It’s a way to get your message out, whether its announcing a protest, an article you have found, promote your site or business to ask for help. In asking for help, I mean getting answers from companies or getting answers on something that is going on either across the world, across the country or across town. It’s simple.

The downsides are that you only get 140 characters including url and for some that’s not enough. The second is URL Shorteners, this shouldn’t be used, normal url’s are better and safer. I find the service to be cool, straight forward, simple, but needs work. I use Twitter to get small bits of info, spread the word about a post/article and in some cases keep up with celebrities.

Facebook on the other hand is completely different. It’s where you can communicate with friends, family, old high school mates, play games, use apps, and post updates on yourself with more than 140 characters and that doesn’t include the url itself. I am still trying to figure out this service, but am quickly adapting.

I use Facebook in one way like I do Twitter, to promote a post/article that I have written on my blog, however I go a lot further. I use it for playing games, connecting with people (family, friends and more), I find the service to be more advanced and takes time to learn.

I don’t know what the future holds for both Facebook and Twitter. A few sceneries that could play out, one is, Twitter and Facebook could combine, yes I know it’s hard to imagine, but in this world, anything is possible. Two, MySpace could bet both out and create a combo service, three, Twitter could become more advanced now that video is being worked on or Facebook becomes the new proven thing.

However I do know one thing, while there is room in this world right now in 2009 for both Facebook and Twitter, soon there might not be. Consider that there are so many brilliant people in this world that are consistently trying to come up with something new (also in some cases, have nothing better to do) and whether its next year, in 2011, in 2015, in 2020, or beyond, someone will come up with a new service that will make both, most or all other social media service obsolete.

To prove my point, what social networking service where you using before Twitter and Facebook got so hot? I bet you were blogging and/or you could have been using a service called MySpace.

Remember this, MySpace was founded in 2003 and become the most popular social networking site in the United States in June 2006. However things change and Facebook was founded on February 4, 2004 and in April 2008, Facebook surpassed MySpace by becoming the most popular social networking site internationally. And in and among all of that, Twitter was founded in 2006 and right now (October 2009) are half the size of Facebook, but known and used in several countries that allow it and even some that doesn’t.

Where will we be in 2011 or in 2020?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Five races down and 100-plus out, who is still in the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship hunt?

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin where not only racing hard this past weekend side by side at Lowe's Motor Speedway, but are battling for the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR via NASCAR PR)

In the wake of the first five Chase for the Sprint cup races, there are now really only four drivers within striking distance of the point’s leader Jimmie Johnson with just five Chase for the Sprint Cup races to go.

NASCAR fans saw some drivers going for the victories while other where just points racing, first in New Hampshire, Mark Martin held off a hard charging Denny Hamlin and Juan Montoya to take the victory in the Sylvania 300 and the points lead. Dover on the other hand, NASCAR fans saw a sleeper with Jimmie Johnson run away with the race over his Hendrick teammate Mark Martin to win the AAA 400 and close the gap between him and point’s leader Mark Martin.

At Kansas Speedway, the field looked to be covered by the #48 team however a late race caution and a few drivers taking two tires put a new man on the point, Tony Stewart as he held off Jeff Gordon for the victory in the Price Chopper 400. The victory closed Tony Stewart in the top 5 in points. Ironically enough the Kansas race ended up being better than the Dover race the week before.

Then all eyes were on California Speedway (Auto Club Speedway of Southern California) for their first chase race and it wasn’t a delightful one where drivers raced in not a bad race, but not a good race in front of a less then stealer crowd that in the end saw Jimmie Johnson beat out his teammate Jeff Gordon to win the Pepsi 500. (Read article here)

Finally we come to last night’s slugfest at Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Banking 500 where crowds were also less then stealer, but unlike California Speedway (auto Club Speedway) the racing was entertaining from what I saw of it. ESPN on ABC really needs to do a better job on showing the entire field and not just the chase drivers and Kyle Busch.

This was a night that some chase races including Denny Hamlin, Juan Montoya, Brian Vickers (if he wasn’t already out of it) and even Mark Martin would like to soon forget as Jimmie Johnson put up (put up or shut up and Johnson puts up) to beat Kasey Kahne after a good battle between Jeff Gordon and Johnson to win for the 3rd time in the chase and 6th win in 2009.

However with the top 4 battling for the championship, who is still in the hunt for the championship, who is out and why?

Now while several media members have basically written this chase off and awarded Jimmie Johnson the 2009 Sprint Cup, I haven’t. Sure I picked Johnson to win the championship this season, but even though Johnson has a 90 point lead over Mark Martin and 135 point leader over Jeff Gordon, there is still fiver chase races to go including Martinsville next week followed by Talladega, Texas, Phoenix, and the finale in Homestead, anything can happen.

Jimmie Johnson leads over Mark Martin (-90), Jeff Gordon (-135), Tony Stewart (-155), Kurt Busch (-177) and Juan Montoya (-195), meanwhile, 7-12 are out of the hunt, so they are just fighting to be in the final top 10 to be up on stage at the awards banquet in Las Vegas.

I’m a little surprised that Kurt Busch is still in it because of the Penske Racing vs. his crew chief and only allowing his crew chief Pat Tryson into the shop once a week for debriefings, that is ridiculous, I guess they don’t want a championship. Juan Montoya was a welcome change to be in the championship for some fans, but after Charlotte with the drama of a ill handling car due to some damage on the right rear, he’s on the bubble. That just leaves Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Brian Vickers on the outside looking in while with the exception of Denny Hamlin, it’s a big surprise if you look at their stats over the first 26-races.

I believe that while there is still five chase races to go, this is coming down to a top 4 battle for the championship with 5th and 6th on the bubble in the championship hunt, there are other drivers further down that in my opinion are completely out of it. All I have to say now is, Martinsville, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart…thoughts?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

No more excuses for Auto Club Speedway, it’s time for some changes NASCAR.

Where were the fans at Auto Club Speedway in California for the NASCAR Cup Series Pepsi 500 race?

Let’s state the obvious, NASCAR needs to be racing in Southern California, it is a huge market for them. However when it comes to putting on an event such as show, concert or in this case a doubleheader race weekend, it takes two thing to get fans to buy a ticket besides weather (and hot temps don’t help), a good product and a reasonable priced ticket or for some, a package deal.

When it comes to a good product, some racetracks have it, while others just don’t. For me, short track racing and intermediate tracks for the most part have a good product as well as superspeedways in some fans eyes.

When it comes to California Speedway (Auto Club Speedway in Southern California), the product for some fans including me aren’t there anymore. This is due to a few thing, one is the size of the speedway, a 2-mile D-Shaped Oval and the other one is the new COT car in the Cup Series and I will give you an example.

This past weekend had a double header on television. In watching some of the Nationwide Series race and the entire Cup Series race, the Nationwide Series race for this racetrack was a good race. However the Cup series, while there was passing, it wasn’t a bad race, but not a good race neither. One fan told me it was a boring race. Others didn’t even bother watching either race at all.

For the Nationwide Series race, that one was interesting, I don’t know why NASCAR didn’t black flag or penalize Greg Biffle, that was rough driving plain and simple. But hats off to Joey Logano for coming back from being put into the outside wall early on by Biffle and battle his way back up past Carl Edwards to win the race…again.

Now all eyes were on the Auto Club Speedway on Sunday for the Pepsi 500. I can’t tell you how many press releases I received in my email box from the speedway itself tell me about each and every promotion, deal and news to come out of the speedway. Sunday was that day that was supposed to be huge, good weather and a chase race in Southern California.

The Speedway promoted several packages from a $35 ticket in rows 1-5, a $55 ticket that included a reserved ticket to the Pay-Per-View event “TNA Bound For Glory”, to a $148 ticket called the Jimmie Johnson Foundation package that Includes Pepsi 500 Ticket, Pre-Race Pit Pass, access to Q&A session w/ Johnson, limited edition #48 souvenir, $48 donation to the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and more.

The Speedway also appearances from Rock group Foreigner, Four-time Emmy Award winner and Pepsi 500 Grand Marshal Kelsey Grammer, Christian Slater drove the pacecar, Recording artist Jesse McCartney performs the national anthem, Audrina Patridge waved the green flag, and more.

According to via, during the race, they interviewed the president of the speedway Gillian Zucker. According to the article, she brushed off the attendance; she thought it was going to be “pretty flat” compared to a Labor Day date. The media estimated the crowds at 45,000 to 60,000 while NASCAR’s estimate where at 70,000. In reading the article, it bothered me a little bit, they really didn’t have the attendance that I thought they would and while I agreed with her that banking the track even more would be a bad idea due to safety, I disagree that this speedway deserves two cup dates.

The speedway did better with one cup series date, but I wonder if the Auto Club Speedway could even sellout with one Cup Series date.

Originally I wrote “Should the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana be converted into a high-banked, restrictor-plate track?” was a good idea, however some NASCAR drivers said it wouldn’t work, the speeds would be too fast and safety is number one in NASCAR. The truth is, other than making the track smaller, something like a unique track…Darlington or Phoenix or a Road Course, I don’t really know what configuration California Speedway should turned into from the 2-mile D-Shaped oval. Personally I like racetracks like Phoenix, Richmond, Darlington and especially Bristol. Why no track developers are creating another Bristol or Richmond is beyond me, short track racing puts on some of the best racing out there.

But Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi 500 race was a different story. It seems like this is a year of just surviving races to finish in the top 10, let along the top 5 or winning the race. These drivers are driving all out just about every lap. They are up on the wheel. During the race, you couldn’t help but notice Dale Earnhardt Jr. having another good run, however like so many others, he was caught up in a late race “Big One”, but I don't know how it started because there was no real good view. One fan said Juniors tire went flat.

All four RPM cars were in the wreck. Afterwards, Kasey Kahne said something that got to me, he said it was a phantom caution or a NASCAR caution as some put it for the fans.Wow, I’m 3000 miles away in Massachusetts and I caused a caution, really? The debris was show on television and that’s exactly what fans want to see.

In the end, it was the man Jimmie Johnson who picked another victory this season over his teammate Jeff Gordon. I will say one thing, Juan Montoya is still in this chase which is a big surprise to me, but EGR and Montoya are doing it and he’s right, they don’t have much to lose. This chase is really down to the top 5 driver’s period.

After the race, I read a report that said the Auto Club Speedway wanted to move their Feb. date to mid-April, being the Phoenix date. No, no, no, you can’t take a good date from a racetrack that puts on an amazing product, a good race and move to it to a bad race period.

Bottom line, the product just wasn’t there and now changes need to be made in three areas. First in the speedway by removing one Cup Series date and either leave it as an open weekend or give it to Iowa Speedway or another track that doesn’t have one that is in a good market like California.

Two would be reconfiguration, but who knows how. And three, NASCAR needs to take some advice from Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and several other drivers, crew chiefs, crew members, owners and more on how to improve this COT car, otherwise you’re not going to have the best product at every racetrack.

The COT is safety, that’s a good starting point, what about fuel injection and going back to a rear spoiler? A better front splitter? Look at the new Nationwide Series COT. What do you think?

(Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Bill France Sr. and Jr. are the Inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

All day today, SPEED has been analyzing just who should the first five members of the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Like I said this past June when NASCAR unveiled the 25 nominees, when it comes to picking these five names, they have to be the best of the best and while most people will find that two names should be a lock, of course they would be 7-time champion Dale Earnhardt and 7-time champion Richard Petty, both would be perfect for the inaugural class just by their records in NASCAR, but the last three, those will be discussed at length. I believe it will be even more difficult to pick the second and third class into the Hall of Fame.

Last June I choice my top 5 list of who should be in that inaugural class, first is Bill France Sr., he was the Co-founder and manager of NASCAR. Second is Dale Earnhardt Sr. One of the best drivers in NASCAR, 7-time Cup Series champion. Third is Richard Petty. Nobody should be saying that Richard doesn’t deserve to be in the first class period. He is the best racecar driver in NASCAR and he is a 7-time Champion and won 200 races. The fourth and fifth were a little harder to choice, but I went with the Silver Fox David Pearson and a driver, car owner, builder and more Junior Johnson.

So with that said, earlier today after the voting happened, NASCAR announced the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and they are:

1. Bill France Sr.
2. Richard Petty
3. Bill France Jr.
4. Dale Earnhardt (Sr.)
5. Junior Johnson

Interesting to note that the one vote was casted on behalf of the fans, of more than 670,000 fan votes submitted online, the fans choice: Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Bill France Sr., Cale Yarborough & Bobby Allison. Its good to see that the fans choose three out of five that made it into the first class of the NASCAR Hall of fame.

What an incredible and surprising list. Both lists were going to be surprising just by the way people in the media and who could cast a vote where talking about who should be in and who be not. I am very happy with this inaugural list, perfect picks. I have to say that the second class is going to be difficult to pick, but I’m think Darrell Waltrip and David Pearson. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is set to open next May (Sunday May 23, 2010). What does everybody think?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shelby Cobra tops 2009 IACOCCA Ford Mustang at the 2009 Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Las Vegas.

So what did $500,000 dollars get you at Auto Auction?

Over the past several years, enthusiasts have been invading all of the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auctions looking to buy their dream car. However with the tough economy right now that let’s face it will continue for years to come, I wondered just what some of those incredible automobiles would sell for in front of a huge bidding crowd.

Over the past three nights, enthusiasts saw not bargain prices, but reasonable prices. The prices that people, yes even in this economy can afford and that is a good thing. For me, a car enthusiast, ever since I was five years old, I’ve loved cars from a cool Corvette, a 1987 Buick Grand National, a 1969 Ford Mustang, a 1955 Chevrolet Nomad, a 1971 Plymouth HemiCuda, to a 2008 Ford Mustang, a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro or a Shelby and watching people showcase cool cars on television definitely gets my attention.

So after all of that, what did $500,000 dollars get you at the 2009 Barrett-Jackson in Las Vegas and more so, who were the showstoppers and the stars?

There were two cars that got my attention way before the heavy hitters hit the stage, first had to be on Thursday night, where the headline read “A 1963 Ford Galaxie sells for $110k at the 2009 Barrett-Jackson in Las Vegas, but...”, but why? By the way, it’s a Barney Fife replica cop car signed by the late Don Knotts. Any thoughts and yes even the announcers where shocked.

The second car that caught my attention considering yes I am a Dukes of Hazzard fan (not the movie, the TV Show) had to be Bo’s 1969 Dodge Charger, yes that’s John Schneider General Lee. He was, for another time actually on stage trying to sell a General Lee and while it didn’t sell for millions of dollars, the General Lee actually sold for $230,000. The car included signatures from several of the stars from the reunion as well as behind the scenes crew. There really are not many of these actual TV shows cars around, I believe it’s less than 10.

The showstopper had to be when Carroll Shelby and Don Prudhomme came up on stage to auction off a 2007 Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake Prudhomme Edition that sold for $275,000 ($302,500 total). I can’t believe that these two teamed to build the ultimate street legal dragster. The GT500 Super Snake has a 5.4L Supercharged engine 750hp engine on 93-octane pump gas and does way less than 10 second in a quarter mile. Like I said, what a showstopper and it’s great to see Carroll Shelby in the house.

Now let’s get to the heavy hitters, the top 3 sellers:

The 3rd top seller was a black 1967 Shelby GT500 SE Super Snake Continuation Fastback that sold for $300,000 ($330,000 total price). SPEED just highlighted this Mustang for a moment, but what a piece. The Mustang is the 1st continuation GT500SE Super Snake to be produced that is powered by a supercharged aluminum Shelby big-block 427 FE engine with 780hp with a Tremec TKO 5-speed Manual and coilover suspension. It was even signed by Carroll Shelby at Barrett-Jackson, Palm Beach.

The 2nd top seller was the car that was featured on the Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas posters; yeah it’s the 2009 IACOCCA 45th Anniversary Ford Mustang Coupe that sold for a total of 352,000. This specific Mustang had a supercharged 550hp Ford Racing engine that was modified and coach built fastback, #5 Lee Iacocca Mustang.

What a really cool car, this Mustang on the outside really reminds me of a 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback like the one that Steve McQueen drove in the movie Bullitt. I do have to say though, SPEED didn't show the car going across the block and that is terrible, I really wanted to see it.

However the top seller a blue 1965 Shelby Cobra Roadster that sold for $400,000 ($440,000 total). What an original car. According to Barrett-Jackson and the documentation, the CSX2568 has the original California black plates and registration tags that expired in 1972. This is the first time CSX2568 has been in the public in about 40 years and the first time it has been offered for sale since 1968. The Cobra was completely redone with a 289cid High Performance engine with 306hp.

Now all that we can do is wait for the 2010 Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale next January and by the way, Americans still want their high horsepower, big vehicles, that go like a bat out of hell, so get use to it.

(Source: Barrett-Jackson website and SPEED Broadcast of the Auto Auction)

Friday, October 9, 2009

NASCAR listens to the fans: Sprint Cup Series races in 2010 will have uniform start times.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events moving to earlier, standard TV Start Times

Back in March, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was heading Bristol Motor Speedway, in an article called “NASCAR’s top 5 biggest issues in 2009”, I wrote “there are currently a lot of decisions among the drivers, teams, owners, sponsors, fans and especially in the media about NASCAR’s future and what impact the shaky economy right now will have on the sport. So here is my top 5 issues in NASCAR that should to be address going forward and even though I don’t see NASCAR making wholesale changes in the future, it is a new era, new economy right now in the world and with everyone coming down to reality, it’s time for some change, step by step.”

The top 5 list included: What can NASCAR do with the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series? What about the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Schedule? What about the owner’s points is getting out of hand? NASCAR needed to do something about the “exclusive part of being the title sponsorship of one NASCAR’s national series”.

And while NASCAR has already released the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule that included very few changes and left people asking where Kentucky Speedway is, of course except me consider they don’t need a date. NASCAR has made a change in setting a consistent time for most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

On Wednesday NASCAR announced that starting with the 2010 Daytona 500, most of the Sprint Cup races will start earlier in 2010. According to the press release, NASCAR is continuing the sports “back to basics” approach. The race start times for Eastern and Central regions will begin at 1p.m. ET. West Coast races will begin at 3 p.m. ET and night races will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET with one exception, the Coca-Cola 600 will begin at 5:45 p.m. ET. So following the invocation and national anthem, the green flag will drop 15-20 minutes past the hour after each listed race start time. (2010 NASCAR Cup Series Schedule)

“NASCAR fans have been asking for earlier and more consistent start times, and we are making this change for our fans, beginning with the Daytona 500 next February," said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “We are revisiting our sport’s tradition of earlier green flags, and the added consistency will make it easier for fans to know exactly when the races are being televised. Additionally, the new start times will help track operators get fans in and out of the track earlier in the evening. Many fans heading home from the race earlier will be able to eliminate the costs of an extra travel day.”

I have to say that I was surprised to see that NASCAR could work with the television networks considering they are the ones that asked for later start times in the first place. Yes I said it out loud. Nonetheless I believe this is exactly the direction that NASCAR needs to move in with not only the fans watching the races on television, but the fans attending the event at the racetrack.

I watch all of the NASCAR races at home or at a family or friends house and this is a welcome change in pace for me, I’m always wondering what time the drop of the green flag will actually be, not what time the pre-show is. However this move in my opinion works well for the fans attending the event at the racetrack. I attended last June’s New Hampshire Cup Series race and the race started just after 2 p.m. Keep in mind, I got their at about 8 a.m. for good parking, by the way, the parking lots were filling up at that time.

Having the race start one hour early does two things, first it cuts one hour from day before the race, and second, it gives NASCAR another hour of daylight to run the race in case of bad weather.

I do realize that this also affects the people on the west coast as they are now going to be watching the Eastern and Central races just after 10 a.m. But think about this for a moment, yes they are up at 10 am, however once 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. comes around, the race is over and you have the rest of the day to enjoy.

I will be interested in seeing what the TV ratings and the attendance at the racetrack will be with this more standard start time.

So will this have an impact on you or is it business as normal? What about the Nationwide Series and Truck Series?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A 1963 Ford Galaxie sells for $110k at the 2009 Barrett-Jackson in Las Vegas, but...

Well it isn't quite that time of the year yet for the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale, but it is time for the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Las Vegas and here we are, a car guys dream.

With the tough economy right now, I always wonder what a particular car like a restomod 1969 Chevrolet Camaro would go for or an original 1970 Plymouth HemiCuda would go for, however when this 1963 Ford Galaxie 4-door sedan went across the block, even the announcers didn't know what to make of it. They were really puzzled and I have to say so was I when this car sold for $110,000.

Yes, two or three bidders bidded fearlessly on this car and one women just had to have this Galaxie, but why? At this moment for the love me I can't figure this one out as to why a car that most likely should have sold for $40k went all the way up to $110,000 ($121,000 total).

The Galaxie pictured above and is described as: "This vehicle was redesigned to accompany Mick Kieffer, one of the nation's leading Barney Fife impersonators. This vehicle has been autographed by the late Don Knotts, documentation and photos are included. Featured on 2 magazine covers: "Rod and Custom" and "Good Guys Gazette". In addition it has been the feature subject of many magazine and newspaper articles across the country. The car's film credits include an episode of the TV series "Cops" filmed in Des Moines, IA, the film "Trash" filmed in CA and a rock video for the Harvey Danger Band. This is a functional "Squad" car powered by a 289cid V8 with a Cruise-O-Matic transmission. The trunk contains the original jack and spare tire. " - (Description and Photo from Barrett-Jackson Web Site)

Well I guess a Don Knotts autographed and magazine cover car does strike some interest and like the announcers keep saying, "all it takes is two bidders to have an auction."

Alright, what do you think, is it worth it, would you buy it?
Personally while this car is not my thing, I would prefer a '87 Buick Grand National, a '69 Ford Mustang, a '70 Plymouth Cuda, it did get a few bidders attention and I hope they enjoy it. You know if this car has all of the original equipment on it, it would make a good car to turn into a restored original.

Damn its Las Vegas, anything can happen and I can't wait to see what vehicle comes across the block tomorrow, I just wish I was their.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

NASCAR gets it wrong with telling non-Chase drivers to back off.

Racing is all about pushing the limits and the #48 and #5 were and are doing just that.

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, over the past three weeks, NASCAR has been pushing the limits with several teams as well as its NASCAR fans and among the first three Chase for the Sprint Cup races has caught my eye in two areas that have just left me asking why they would do that.

With New Hampshire two weeks ago in the record books with a good race on the magic mile that ended up being a battle right to the caution flag on the white flag laps that saw Mark Martin hold off hard charging Denny Hamlin and Juan Montoya to win the Sylvania 300 and extend his points lead, it was off to Dover. While Dover didn’t do the chase drivers any favors, the race itself ended up being a sleeper as Jimmie Johnson dominated to win the AAA 400 over him teammate and the point’s leader Mark Martin.

However after the race was really where the story lied sort of, it all depended upon who you talked too or listened too. After the AAA 400 at Dover, the winning car, the #48-Jimmie Johnson and a random car which just so happen to be the #5-Mark Martin where not only inspected at the racetrack, but were also brought back to the NASCAR R&D Center for closer inspection.

According to NASCAR, this is a normal practice to bring the winning racecar and a random racecar back to the R&D Center for closer inspection. I have know this for a long time, SPEED even showed what NASCAR does in an average weekend (that being the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte) which included them bring the winning racecar, the #9-Kasey Kahne back to the R&D Center for closer inspection.

However after the inspection, “NASCAR officials found both cars to be pushing the limits of NASCAR's allowed tolerances, and notified them accordingly” (Info from article and interviews with NASCAR officials on SPEED).

Basically even though both the #48 and #5 were found legal and broke no rules, NASCAR felt since both cars were too close to the tolerances than normal that they should call both teams (crew chief, engineers, anyone that really worked on the car) to the NASCAR R&D Center for a meeting to go over where they were too close and to see what the teams measurements where compared to NASCAR.

I guess I understand what NASCAR’s position is here, I mean they don’t want to see this chase be affected by penalties rather than what happens on the racetrack. I heard thi story hit Friday morning when I was watching the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session the next week at Kansas on SPEED.

One reporter asked the NASCAR official John Darby about, he commented which is basically listed above and that was it. I would have thought that the end of the story, but since NASCAR called a meeting, the story blow up. I personally don’t see a story here other than both the #48-Jimmie Johnson and the #5-Mark Martin where pushing the limits.

Ladies and gentleman, racing is all about pushing the limits, from getting everything out of the racecar (10ths, 100ths, 1000ths of second can make the difference on the track and can be the difference between winning and finishing 10th or 30th) to racing everybody, chase driver or non-chase driver as hard as you can for each position. Both drivers with their crew chiefs, crews and the people back at Hendrick Motorsports did their jobs plain and simple, they found everything in those racecars and it showed on the racetrack.

Looking past the #48 and #5 cars being too close in inspection last story which by the way both cars were taken back to the R&D Center after Kansas and cleared, who didn’t see that one coming, another bad call by NASCAR entered the spotlight. Now I have to admit, I love watching my NASCAR on television every week, if I didn’t I wouldn’t be writing about it, I hardly miss a Cup Series race and if I do I make sure I tape it on my DVR, but there is one thing I hate about NASCAR, they try and change a few things, as one driver put it, playing god.

According to the live telecast of race on ABC/ESPN, it was reported that during Sunday's Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway, NASCAR officials told Brad Keselowski to not race so aggressively with the Chase drivers early in the race. (Read this article for a head to head on it)

So is it ok for NASCAR to tell a non-Chase driver to back off? Let me think about this one for a moment, oh NO, No NASCAR, it’s not ok for you to tell a non-chase driver to back off period.

NASCAR, you put on good races most of time, yes there are these races that are just boring and last week at Dover was just one example and another one is California Speedway. Personally I can’t figure out if the boring racing at California Speedway is because of the new COT car, the tires or the racetrack itself.

However telling non-Chase drivers, especially a driver like Brad Keselowski that earned a top 5 starting position to back off is wrong, stop trying to change the racing. The chase drivers can handle themselves. If you want to change the racing, fix the COT car.

I watched last Sunday’s Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway live on television (yes on ABC), and while the race did turn out to be not only a good race (better than Dover) and helped the chase itself including now having the top 8 chase drivers back in the championship hunt, it was the chase drivers that actually caught my eye.

If NASCAR really wanted to warn drivers for aggressive driver, they made the wrong choice in picking Brad Keselowski considering its Denny Hamlin who keeps not only running his mouth, but doesn’t respect some other drivers nor Juan Montoya. NASCAR should have looked at Montoya, he was ruffing up Brad Keselowski, not the other way around. Be fair cross the board, not just with non-chase drivers.

What about the chase picture, congratulations to Tony Stewart on winning the Price Chopper 400 at Kansas, that win really put him back into the championship hunt and to Joey Logano for winning last Saturday’s Nationwide Series race after that terrible crash at Dover last Sunday in the Cup Series race. Logano, 19, flipped 8 times in his #20 Home Depot Toyota and he walked away, that’s the way to get back into it.

Bottom line, to NASCAR, NASCAR fans, media, everybody, racing is all about pushing the limits, from getting everything out of the racecar (10ths, 100ths, 1000ths of second make a difference on the track and can be the difference between winning and finishing 10th or 30th in some cases) to racing everybody, chase driver or non-chase driver as hard as you can for each position. There are no free rides in racing, you want to pass, earn it, don’t just cry on the radio or knock them out of the way, race for it.

(The photo of Jimmie Johnson crossing the finish line to win the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway was taken by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Speedlinking: Alonso to Ferrari, Twitter and URL Shorteners, GM, Massachusetts and more.

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen to a new edition of speedlinking. I can’t believe the weekend is already gone and it’s Monday afternoon, but life goes on and Monday is all about putting the news out.

- Alonso to replace Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2010 – from

In one of the worst kept secrets in Formula 1 and a story that had been speculated and rumored on for the last few years, Alonso finally gets what he wants, to drive for Ferrari. Alonso said he wants to finish his driving career with Ferrari. However three things, first will Alonso succeed at Ferrari? Second, will he end his career at Ferrari? And three, does anybody care?

First, I believe Alonso will win races at Ferrari, but championships are another story, one reason is Ferrari has been lost so far in 2009 and conceded in the championship fight months ago. Second, I believe has almost has to end his driving career at Ferrari. Alonso has already driven for most of the teams and made a mess at some including McLaren-Mercedes. And three, no I don’t care one way or another.

- Should Twitter really count URL characters against you? – DownloadSquad

First, I don’t like URL Shorteners (they shouldn’t be pushed on you, Facebook doesn’t have them, why Twitter), like the article points out, they are bad for the web. You never know where they are pointing to, they could be an advertisement, imagine retweeting that. Second, I use twitter and I like to just put my real url in the lines so people know exactly where to go, but that difficult because sometimes the URL is so long. Bottom line, Twitter needs to update their service so url’s don’t count towards your 140 charactors or give you 10-15 extra charactors for the URL, another over 15 counts against your 140 charactors…that’s fair.

- GM Announces Chevrolet Caprice Police Package – Straightline Blog

I have to say that I’m not surprised that GM decided to bring out what a rear-wheel drive cop car, let’s be honest GM needs anything that sells right now. Personally though, GM should have just kept the G8 as a Chevrolet, it wouldn’t be a cross-brand item because Pontiac is being phased out. They should also keep a few other vehicles from Pontiac and now the phased out and shut down Saturn.

- JR Motorsports executive says team interested in Danica Patrick – SceneDaily

This is a story that just keeps changing except that Danica Patrick wants to come to NASCAR and yet she can’t confirm her IndyCar Series 3 year deal that has been rumored to be already signed with AGR. I have a feeling that there will be no announcements until after the IndyCar Series season finale this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The problem is, is that Danica was rumored to be with Stewart-Haas Racing and now with JR Motorsports. Ironically enough, JR Motorsports is Hendrick and they have room as far as Nationwide Series goes. She has to be in the Truck Series and/or the Nationwide Series for a full-season or two before she goes full-time in the Cup Series. I’m thinking 2013 she will be in NASCAR and I will end it there, but with whom.

- TRUCKS: Piquet Jr, Meira To Test For Red Horse Racing –

I don’t believe, another F1 driver trying to come to NASCAR, no that’s not the story here, the story is the F1 driver is non-other than Nelson Piquet, Jr. Nelson Piquet, Jr. is the driver that was released from Renault and then blow the whistle on his former team to the FIA because he was ordered to crash in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, the FIA court gave Renault a suspended two year ban, his boss a indefinite suspension and yet he got off free of charge. He will not have another F1 ride again, no one wants a whistle blower, I guess he thinks someone in NASCAR might give him a ride, yeah I wouldn’t count on it.

Personally I believe Nelson Piquet, Jr should have been suspended too or some type of penalty. He didn’t have to crash a racecar, he choose to accept that order.

- Massachusetts Gets Lower Than Expected Revenues & Mass Registry on Mass Turnpike – Both from

Massachusetts is one of those unique states that just don’t think things through correctly and since the state is not meeting expected revenues, they have decided raise fees, raise the sale tax to 6.25% and move two RMV’s to buildings on the Mass Pike. I find it interesting that in order to use the registry, I have to pay tolls and use the Mass Pike. Let me state the obvious, I don’t use the Mass Pike, tolls are a waste, this state would have less debt if you get rid of the Mass Pike then keeping it and jacking the tolls, welcome to Massachusetts.

Playlist: Carrie Underwood, Gloriana, Mallary Hope and more.

What a weekend it has been or more commonly referred to as CMT Big Music Weekend, where nine music videos from Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Reba to Michelle Branch and more debuted only on CMT.

One thing you have to know about me is that I have three country music channels on my television and an on-demand and I use them all daily. I love good music videos, but keep in mind one thing, I like some videos with actual live performances in them, for example Lady A’s “Lookin' for a Good Time” (Fan Video), Taylor Swift’s” I’m only me when I’m with you”, Gloriana’s “The Way It Goes” video or even better Carrie Underwood’s “I Told You So” video from the Grand Ole Opry.

Now here’s what I’m listening to right now:

- “Cowboy Casanova” – by Carrie Underwood from her new CD “Play On” that is due out in November.
What a video Carrie Underwood did for “Cowboy Casanova”, that one took my breath away, she did an amazing job on it. You can watch the music video either at CMT or Carrie’s YouTube Channel.

- “Love Lives On” – by Mallary Hope
Mallary Hope is a new comer to country music at least to me with a really cool personal music video. It was actually her music video that caught my ear on her music, I believe people should listen to her EP (3 tracks) on, iTunes or another Music Service, it’s really good.

- “Wild at Heart” – by Gloriana (Get use to this track, I love it.)
According to the Gloriana email I received yesterday, they said they just finished filming the music video for their new single "How Far Do You Wanna Go?” If this one is anything like their first two music videos “Wild at Heart” and “The Way It Goes”, the video should be good.

- “Need You Now” – by Lady Antebellum
- “Consider Me Gone” – by Reba McEntire from her new CD “Keep on Loving You”.
- “I Believe I Can Fly” – by R. Kelly
- “Home Sweet Home” – by Carrie Underwood
- “I Don’t Want To” – by Ashley Monroe

Before I go, last month I wrote an article titled “Carrie Underwood goes for three with Play On” where I wrote to all of the Carrie Underwood fans who read the article above, what are your favorite tracks of hers? Well one comment read:

flicketyflack said... “Nice blog! My top 10 favorites in no particular order are: I Told You So, Before He Cheats, We're Young & Beautiful, Crazy Dreams, The Night Before (Life Goes On), I Ain't In Checotah Anymore, All-American Girl, Wasted, Get Out Of This Town, and I'll Stand By You.”

Thanks for the comment and good list. Now what are you listening to right now and it doesn’t have to be country music.

Disclaimer: Let's get one thing straight, I wrote not only the advice above, but the Playlist article because I not only love music, but I wanted to share what music tracks I am listening to right now. I don't write just to sell albums, MP3's or fill a shopping cart to make money, so keep that in mind.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A sneak preview of the Jeff Dunham Show on Comedy Central.

I have to admit, I posted this because I am a huge fan of Jeff Dunham and his cast of characters. I don't really have a favorite puppet, but Peanut is cool because he si so funny. Walter is internet because he tells it like it is and achmed is just achmed.

So for all of you Jeff Dunham fans, above is a sneak preview of his new show that premiere's on Thursday, October 22nd at 9/8c on Comedy Central. This should be fun to watch, I can't wait, but just to tide you over, below is a 10 minute clip of Jeff Dunham with Walter from the first DVD Arguing With Myself.

Personally I the line where Walter said "I could be a Walmart greeter" What would you say, "Welcome to Walmart, get your s*** and get out, have a nice day."

From Jeff Dunham on YouTube

Check out this DVD's on
- Jeff Dunham: Arguing With Myself DVD.
- Jeff Dunham: Spark of Insanity DVD
- Jeff Dunham: Very Special Christmas Special DVD