Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Area-51 for racecars...In PA...?

Anyone who has driven across the PA Turnpike knows the horror. The narrow stretch of pavement that bisects the state is hopelessly dwarfed by mega-highways of today's standards. It's claustrophobic, bumpy, endless and effing expensive to traverse (ballpark $20 in tolls for a Pittsburgh to Philly jaunt). Unless you have made the trip across I76, you cannot appreciate how little middle PA has to offer in terms of scenery, cities of note, or general culture for that matter. Ever been to Breezewood? No, too obscure you say, well how about Harrisburg? Me neither. Reading? Negative. The list goes on and reads like a who's-who of shitty burbs, dives and strongholds of typical family values. Not the kind of place to get off the well-worn path, if you catch my drift.

That is of course, unless you are major player in motorsports, then you'd be lining up to go to Donegal, PA (SE of Pittsburgh) to a portion of the abandoned turnpike. According to this article from Racecar Enginnering Chip Ganassi Racing among others (?) have been using a dilapidated ex-turnpike tunnel for a crazy mixture of stright line aerodynamic testing and windtunnel duties. All these activities can be completed under the shroud of secrecy (or until hikers stumble upon discarded drums of racing fuel and hear burnouts resonating through the woods, which of course happened). Tally these racing folks as the only people to ever be drawn to Donegal, PA for reasons other than reenacting Deliverance and/or The Blair Witch Project.

Here is the only footage known to exist of Area-51 Racecar-PA Branch. Enjoy- Three good men died to obtain it:

Friday, December 14, 2007

CONFIRMED: Kovalainen to McLaren

It is official. A few days before expected. De la Rosa to remain Woking-team tester.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A piece about real men, driving real race cars. What a concept!

This Robin Miller story is well over a year old, but revisiting it is well worth the time.

A throw back to a time when racing was less sanitized; full of outlaws, misfits and individuals who made their home on the fringes of acceptable behavior. A far cry from what we watch on television today.

Pedro de la Rosa v. Heikki Kovalainen- exactly the same performance, just one is old.

McLaren is likely kicking around the names of two gentlemen to team with Lewis Hamilton for the forthcoming F1 season. These men will be tasked with filling the shoes (however debacle ridden they might be) of one two-time World Champ by the name of Fernando Alonso. Pedro de la Rosa- McLaren tester and veteran of nine GP’s with the Woking outfit- and Heikki Kovalainen-soon to be sophomore, recently pushed aside at Renault by the aforementioned ex-World Champ and the son of another in Nelson Piquet jr-.

On the surface, the choice appears to be that of youth v. experience, up-and-coming hot shoe v. worn veteran, or perhaps even raising star v. declining journeyman.

Looking beyond the surface, and examining what both men have accomplished while in the sport paints a different picture.

er… to be more accurate, it creates exactly the same picture. You see, the two likely choices for the open race seat at McLaren have nearly identical career F1 statistics.

Both de la Rosa and Kovalainen share the same total number of victories (0), pole positions (0), podium finishes (1), and finishes in the points (11). Weird huh? Factor in the one point differential in total career points (HK has 30 PdlR has 29), and things get weirder than witnessing a triple-kiss while at your local sports bar.

It sounds like a virtual coin toss. De la Rosa is even quite optimistic about his prospects for a race seat promotion.

Ah, but alas dear Pedro… The obvious outlier hurting you is that your less-than stellar figures were amassed whilst competing in 72 GP’s, compared to Kovalainen’s 17.

The kid happens to be a stud, and dear Pedro, you sir are no stud.

McLaren should (and does) want the younger, more promising shoe to team with Lewis Hamilton. HK is their #1 to be a #2.

However, should McLaren fail in securing the young Finn, he will squeeze into the hapless Toyota squad, and PdlR will have his F1 swansong. Just don’t count on it Pedro. HK to McL. Announced by Christmas.

These acronyms have made me cranky.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Two-time world champ lands back at his “safety school”

Fernando Alonso, likely bridging the gap between his times at McLaren until Ferrari beckons, has announced his return to the outfit that yielded his success.

So, Alonso leaves a good situation at Renault and goes headlong into a disaster with McLaren. Now, he leaves a disaster and is hoping for what? Well, I think he is hoping Hekki Kovalain isn’t waiting for him in the parking lot with flogging mallet. You see Nelson Piquet Jr. will race alongside the Spaniard next season. That leaves Kovalain rather out of luck, unless he enters the fray with McLaren. Can you say driver trade?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Young Rahal chats about breaking the law

He is young, has a great job, and a whole host of exotics in his garage... Which, he enjoys ringing out on the back roads of suburban Columbus. By all accounts, every 25+ aged man in the world should hate this kid. But, after watching the video (and conducting an impromptu interview with him in the Cleveland GP paddock) I can't help but like the guy.

The bastard.

ESPN exploring "side-by-side" for IRL coverage

Thanks to Deadspin for providing this excerpt from an internal ESPN memo:

Q: Will we see side-by-side commercials in NASCAR? Is it successful in Indy Racing?

A: We are exploring creative formatting for our NASCAR races next year, including commercial free race segments and side-by-side coverage. We are working to balance giving the fans as much live race action as possible with our need to deliver value to our sponsors and advertisers.
While research does not demonstrate that our IndyCar side-by-side coverage has had a material impact on our ratings, we believe it is a great service to our fans to show as much green-flag racing as possible.

No word (yet) on the prospects of bringing Rusty Wallace back into into the IRL booth... Folks like Mutoh and Briscoe may have to suffer the indignity of never being called "cat" by the most gifted broadcaster since Chris Spielman.