David Poole passed away today at the age of 50. The Charlotte Observer columnist was considered the dean of American motorsports writers (a vastly diminishing group these days due to the troubled newspaper industry) and co-hosted a four-hour daily radio show on Sirius-XM satellite radio.
I can't say I was close with David, though I knew him through my work with Dale Jr. and usually chatted with him whenever our paths crossed. I didn't always agree with his views, but what constantly marked his work - both the printed word and on air - was his passion. He had a passion that is similar to the spirit that makes great literature or great music. His passion for the sport showed through in every syllable. In a sport that is often a life-and-death endeavor, passion is the element that drives its very existence.
The exciting racing and near-disaster at Talladega has reminded many of what makes us passionate about racing, and it's sad to have lost Poole's fervor in the discussions and debates that are sure to rage on in the weeks ahead.
You can see some of Poole's best work or leave your condolences and thoughts at ThatsRacin.com.
I've always had a bad feeling about what would happen should a tornado or severe storm hit a track during a major race event. Today we almost found out, as tornadoes skirted around Kansas Speedway immediately following NASCAR's call to postpone the truck series race until Monday. As of now - as I wait in the media center with many media and team members - it looks likely we escaped damage but it was a nervous time as the radar screens turned more and more red. (You see the media center as everyone watches local TV coverage of the storm...)
It was a promising start to the day as Ricky Carmichael qualified the No. 4 Monster Energy truck in the third position, but a loose-handling truck caused him to spin twice before the race was red-flagged on lap 52. Below is a picture of two of the most-likeable drivers I've ever worked with, Dario Franchitti and Carmichael.
We'll update the weather if it gets worse. Otherwise, tune-in Monday morning on SPEED for the conclusion of the truck race at 11 am ET/ 10 am CT.
What a weekend for racing - I can barely keep up with everything with two Tivos and a lot of 'net surfing.
But, I'm mostly wondering if many folks are really following Twitter. Has it jumped the shark or is it gaining momentum now that Oprah is online?
I'm still trying to figure out how to utilize or maximize its use - and if you like, you can follow me at http://twitter.com/JadeGurss. You can always see the latest tweet in the right-hand column here on the blog. I'm throwing a lot of things at the wall to see what sticks, so let me know what you'd like to see in a Twitter stream...
If you are on Twitter, what/who are some of the best to follow? Leave your suggestions in the "Comments" section.
Dr. Jack Cathey apparently doesn't share my glee that Brawn GP have won the first two races of the F1 season. Here's his guest blog... for more about Cathey, check out some of his previous blogs. (And watch out for that windmill...)
by Jack Cathey, Ph.D.
Growing up on the east side
of Charlotte, NC, I spent more than a few steamy summer evenings playing the
great American pastime of miniature golf.We were fortunate to have two courses to choose from.First, there the Putt-Putt course which
was a classic facility.Every hole
was designed so that if you had some skill with the putter you could score a
hole in one.The greens were
clean, the rails were straight, and all you had to do was know how to use the banking
and figure the angles.In fact,
Putt-Putt courses were so well done they were the host for televised matches of
the Professional Putters Association complete with whispering commentators just
like the big leagues of the PGA.
Just down the road from the
Putt-Putt course there was a different kind of miniature golf facility called
Gooney Golf.The Gooney Golf
course included holes that had incorporated windmills, waterfalls, dinosaurs,
and my favorite: the concrete alligator where you had to hit it at just the
right time into the beast’s mouth and hope the swishing tail would guide
your ball towards the cracked plastic cup.The course was reasonably well kept, but with all the contraptions
involved, some things were bound to go wrong.Sometimes the pipes that spit out your ball after it had
traveled through an animal’s innards would be a little off and, even though you
hit just the right spot, your ball would glance off the cup and end up buried with pieces of gravel and dead bugs that invariably collect in the corner of the dented rails.
So you may be wondering what
all this has to do with motorsports and particularly with Formula 1, but after
watching the first two races of the 2009 season it seems to me that the
organizers have decided to change the premier class of motorsport from being a
Putt-Putt facility with the straight, pristine, well-designed courses where a
professional putter can demonstrate his or her competence to a Gooney Golf
course where a five-year-old with a large, lime-green plastic putter might just
out-perform a professional if she hits the giant white bone just right as it is
lowered to the ground by the orange dinosaur with the evil flashing red
Now don’t get me wrong, I do
think certain changes made for this season including the reduction of
aero-based downforce and the increase in mechanical grip by replacing grooved
tires with the slicks have been good changes both from a competition and safety
aspect.I even think the kinetic
energy recovery systems (or KERS) add an interesting engineering and strategic
element to the race (that is, of course, once they can figure out a way to
avoid electrocuting a driver or safety worker). But the two-step gaps in the
tire compounds which result in soft tires that can hardly last a full lap and
hard tires that only come up to full grip as you slide off the circuit and the
unnecessarily ambiguous technical specifications that allow what was formerly a
mid-pack team to build cars that are substantially faster than anyone else
have simply gone to far.And
please don’t even get me started about race officiating.
Modern Formula 1 has been,
in my opinion, a series where both great drivers and great engineering were
kept in proper balance and the result has captured the imagination and passion
of the whole world.This year’s
version of F1 feels more like a mix of bad reality TV with way too much
off-point drama and a circus act that includes ten clowns squeezed into a small
car.It is my hope the governing
bodies, the teams, the manufacturers and sponsors can restore the proper
balance while they continue to enhance both the competition and the spectacle
that is Formula 1.
It's just a number, but it was a pretty powerful icon for awhile. It's a sad day for many folks who held it in some esteem, and sad for those who poured so much into it only to see the No. 8 team collapse like a soufflé. Read the details here.
If you want to see how NFL Films handles racing, check out the Audi/LeMans documentary, TRUTH IN 24. Check out the trailer - and then download the film forfree on iTunes. The photo above is a view of their new turbo diesel R15 racer that will be in action at LeMans this summer. Stunning racecars. Great drivers and a fascinating film about what goes into a 24 Hour race.
Car and Driver Magazine's annual April Fool's prank apparently set off panicked NASCAR fans. The original post has been taken down, but you can find the Yahoo Buzz report about the story.