Archive for the 'Racing' Category

Formula 1 and technology

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Alonso's Steering Wheel

Luddites tend to get annoyed by all of the electronic intrusions on our driving experience these days.  They say take me back to the days of the AM in car radio.


I guess, then, a sign of the times is the attached view of a Formula 1 steering wheel.  The video game enabled among us are not intimidated  by these things, and technology in general makes Formula 1 racing uniquely interesting.  And this year, as the first race proved today, the driving looks like it’s going to equal the technology in interest.  The Speed crew had to work overtime to fit all of the technical tidbits in between the action on the track.


Note the big orange KERS button, F1’s version of  “push to pass”.   Driver feedback is pretty positive and I think you could notice a few times during the race where it was used to advantage.


It will be fun to watch the rest of the season and see how all of the technology plays out and how it affects the driver standings.

Sebring 12 hour race, my favorite

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

         Most of us gearheads have a favorite automobile race; probably impressed on our beer fogged memories sometime in the distant past.   And probably at a time when we were more concerned with whether we had packed in enough ice than we were for the great cars and drivers who were circulating right in front of our noses.  About this time of year, as most of the racing series are getting underway, those memories flood back.


         The Sebring 12hr., scheduled to run next weekend, happens to be my favorite race.  It will be run this Saturday, March 21.  And although I won’t be there in person, I look forward to watching the Speed coverage.


         Sebring, for me, serves as a link to the greatest race series ever: the CAN-AM.  Vestiges of those all powerful, no limits, machines remain in the LMP1 and LMP2 classes today.  I really enjoy the technical innovation that shows up in these classes.


         Like the Daytona 24hr., Sebring appears on the racing calendar before many of the other racing series are underway, so great drivers from all over are often attracted to the race.


         What could be better: great drivers and great cars.


         Twelve hours also turns out to be a perfect length for an endurance race; at least from a spectator point of view.  The Goldilocks length, not too short, not too long.  One gets the flavor of watching night racing without needing to stay up all night.  And the race is still long enough to severely test the endurance of man and machine.


Look for some personal experiences at Sebring in a future post.

Ford GT 40 at Sebring

Ford GT 40 at Sebring

Marlboro Raceway memories

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

For those of you who missed visiting Marlboro Raceway in Marlboro, Maryland, I found a taste of it for you.


The article at this website from the Washington Post .com is a nice reminiscence of what it was like at Marlboro in the 50’s and 60’s.  There is also an excellent film clip from a race in 1957 and additional links to other early racing.


I remember attending several races there; and in fact catching my own “I wanta race virus” there.  My best memory is of warding off freezing temperatures at the Refrigerator Bowl, run in January, with a flask of Apple Jack.


Marlboro was a very tight track, more suited for time trials than racing, but it did produce some exciting races.  The longest straight ended in a sharp left turn; and that turn claimed many race cars.  A straight off took one thru trees and brush and eventually into a creek!  The start/finish line was located in a tiny oval bowl (maybe 1/16 mi.).  Entry and exit from the bowl often included airborne moments.


After racing ended in the 60’s, it was still used occasionally for time trials/autocrosses.  I remember the first Hurst Shelby Mustang renta car showing up there and being thrashed within an inch of its life.  My own experiences of autocrossing at Marlboro in a Corvette and a Sprite are treasures.  Think I still have a trophy or two around.


Some of the early racing greats like Roger Penske. Mark Donahue, and Bob Tullius raced there.  Marlboro doesn’t quite evoke the same public memory as Riverside, but, for sure, it was equally important to the development of popular sports car racing. 

Truth in 24 – watch it

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Google “Truth in 24” and watch the trailer.  This looks like a great movie for gearheads.

Too bad this won’t air on ESPN until March; I need a racing booster right now.  The real racing season will be in full bloom by then, but now all we can get are a couple of ticklers from Florida.

And what do we get at the car shows this season, but a bunch of mostly boring (from the drivers seat) “green” cars.  Don’t get me wrong.  I find the new propulsion technologies endlessly fascinating, but in their present form there is not much to offer from a driving excitement viewpoint.  Not much Garage Envy there.

January, a crappy month for car nuts.

Kimi vs Deweycheatumnhowe

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009


This news clip from the New York times this week was irresistible.  The text reads roughly as follows:  The Hambletonian winner Deweycheatumnhowe voted trotter of the year, while record earner Somebeachsomewhere voted top pacer of the year.


How lucky we automotive race fans are!   Can you imagine David Hobbs describing lead changes between Icemankimipartyboy and Orderofthebritishempirelewish.  Or even more ludicrous, Darrell Waltrip moderating a punchout between mandmsnickerbush and cousincarlaflac.  The possibilities make my head hurt.


So next time you view a Formula 1 race or the NASCAR circus think about the possibilities. Suppose racer agents/promoters get in on the game and  sell naming rights to the racers themselves; they could surely come up with even more novel names than the horseracing industry.  And now consider how really, really, really lucky we are that right now we live in an era where that idea has not yet caught on.