Wednesday, February 27, 2008

You Might be a Fontana Hater if.........

I rarely post once a week let alone twice in one day, but this really has me PO'd and it's my blog, so here we go.

You might be a Fontana hater if:

1. You are so incensed that Darlington lost a race to Fontana that you can't see or think straight.

2. You somehow think that Fontana was somehow involved in the demise of Rockingham and North Wilkesboro.

3. You believe that a commandment was broken when California got a NASCAR race in 1997.

4. You believe number three above even though NASCAR was racing in Southern California every year from 1958 thru 1988.

5. Did I mention Darlington?

6.You have the annoying habit of entering into an intellectual street fight while unarmed.

7. You hate change. It's kinda scary.

8. You feel that moving a race from a track that sells 60,00 to 75.000 tickets each race to a track that has 35,000 seats is a viable financial option.

9. Money is bad. Unless you have it.

10. You want, or need, a famous racer's son to be his father as opposed to himself.

11. You think that for a race to not be boring, there must be at least 5 crashes. And one of those has to be the big one.

12. You have a real need to be entertained. All the time.

13. You think that race strategy is deciding which recliner to sit in.

14. You think that restrictor plate's are bad in any form. You want to see them baby's fly.

15. You have all ready composed your bash post prior to the race starting.

16. You believe that Fontana should have a race taken away because of too many hot dog wrapper's on the track.

17. You actually believe that Riverside Raceway was shut down due to a lack of fan support, and not due to skyrocketing land values making it non-profitable.

18. You stopped reading this after number one because you got uncomfortable.

The Geeze

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The Twice Yearly Track Bash

Once again it's time for Auto Club Speedway bash fest on the boards. This phenomena begins on or around Monday prior to the race and continues until people tire of it (usually the Thursday before the next race). I actually swear I've seen an identical post from the prior year. A form letter as it were.

This week has seen a new record. Four threads on the first page almost exactly the same. This is due to a problem with the track weeping. A questionable decision by NASCAR, and mother nature.
I won't go into great detail on these issues, because if you are reading this you all ready know.

Rain on Friday and water started weeping up from seams in the track. A real problem with slick tires at 200mph. They got the truck race in on Saturday and more rain postponed the Nationwide race. On Sunday more rain in the morning. Then a decision to try to start the race in wee hours of the morning back east. NASCAR got the race started, more weeping and we were done and raced Monday.

Here are what most folk's thought of this.

"Track management should have noticed the weeping, and fixed it weeks ago".
Maybe, I don't know and neither do the folks sharing that opinion. Would this weeping occur when it's not raining? Was it a build up of water and it suddenly started on Friday. It's hard to fix something that isn't broken yet.

"NASCAR should have never moved the race to February". "It rains all the time in California in February".

Huh? In eleven or so years, since the track's inception, Qualifying has been canceled twice. Once in May 1999, and last weekend. A race has never been postponed until last weekend. Doing a little research (thank you weather underground), I determined that if a race was held on this same February weekend for the last eleven years, it would have had rain issues on race day once. Last weekend.

"The racing was boring ".

This is the most consistent theme in these bash fests, and always seems to be linked to who your favorite driver was and how he finished. I found Monday's race far from boring. Side to side racing and a finish without the dreaded fuel mileage issue. A lot of form letter's had to edited due to that one. There were no big wreaks, and that seems to always disappoint some people.

"They want to make it a restrictor plate track".

Track presidet Gillian Zucker announced on Tuesday that while the are fixing the weeping problem, they might increase the banking and make Auto Club Speedway a plate track. This would change the track's image and increase attendance. This was suggested to her by Micheal Waltrip. Oh brother. This bash was deserved. Increase the banking to increase speed's and slap a plate on them to slow them down. Brilliant.

This was tested at Texas and was a dismal failure. I could almost see Micheal Waltrip in North Carolina, it a fit of laughter. "She thought I was serious". I do think that if there have to tear the tack up anyway, do what Homestead did with graduated banking. The driver's loved and the fans loved it. It brought new life to the place. I hope saner head's prevail on this one.

Round two will be in late august. We'll see if any new reasons to hate the track pop up. Let's face it, California took a race from Darlington and must be punished.

The Geeze

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Empty Seats

Ah yes, The declining attendance at the racetrack debate. The common theme seems to be that the COT and the quality of the racing is causing this. To a degree, maybe so, but that is not the only reason, nor do I think it's even the biggest one. It's like when you are going to make a purchase of something and you go on the Internet to read reviews.

People generally don't jump on the Internet to report that what they bought was just what they wanted it to be and works fine. They go on the Internet to complain that it wasn't. Therefore what you see is mostly bad reviews. And to make a judgment based on only bad reviews doesn't make sense. All but a fraction of a percent of people bought the item could very well be very happy with there purchase.

I know, what the hell is he talking about. Bear with be. People that hang out in NASCAR chat room's are by definition, fan's. Big fan's, who know all about the sport. They know good racing from bad racing. At least for the most part. They see some boring races (or maybe a lot of them), and conclude that is whats causing the decline in attendance and say so. They might be right if most people that attended races were just like them. But outside of the chat rooms, they are not. So this theory is coming from those who were not happy with their purchase.

Yeah, long road, but you get my point. A large percentage of fans out there, just might not know a good race from a bad one. There is a saying out here in the wild west. "We went to a party in Long Beach and a race broke out". At the grand prix, you can walk around the infield during the race and a heck of a lot of people, well, people watching. Partying. Not paying any attention to the race at all. I don't think this is only seen in Camp Car.

So, what do I think? High ticket prices and ticket "packages" for one. I always go to the races at Fontana. This year, in order to get seats where I could see the race, I had to buy ticket to Saturday's Nationwide and truck race also. What? They wouldn't budge. Well, I cant be there on Saturday, so guess what, I'm not going. I wonder if I'm alone ? I doubt it.

Late starting times. This Sunday's race at Fontana will start at a somewhat reasonable time of 1:00pm or so, and end at about 4-4:30 pm. Factoring in the one hour (minimum) to get out of the parking lot, and the one and a half hour drive home, that puts me home about 6:30 to 7:00.
I am worn out and hungry. ( I don't like paying seven buck's for a lousy to mediocre cheeseburger). And I have to go to work in the morning. Very early in the morning.
Now that might not seem to bad, but at other track's it's even worse. At Daytona Sunday, the start time was what, 3:30 local time? Factor in the fact that they have to move two to three times the people that Fontana does out of there, well, you get the picture.

Saturation. At least as far as California in concerned, two races a year was alright for awhile. but the newness wore off and it just can't support two races anymore.

TV coverage. You can now see and hear everything on the tube. And I mean everything. One hundred hours of coverage of Daytona by a channel that wasn't even showing the race itself, not to mention the ESPN and Fox coverage. All in high definition. So why go? You can see it all from your couch. Remember, I'm not talking about the rabid fan's here. Just the casual fan, who went to a race once and now watches on TV. You know, the ones that were happy with their purchase.

So while I think that the COT and the quality of the racing is a factor, I just don't think it's the major factor.

The Geeze

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Monday, February 18, 2008

To Pit Or Not To Pit

Well, Dale Junior's 2008 Daytona 500 had some interesting problem's didn't. I was listening to their radio traffic and watching the race and was shocked by what I saw and heard regarding pit stops late in the race. I'll paraphrase here:

Junior: What are we doing. Someone talk to me. Are we pitting?
Eury: What do you think we should do?
Junior: your the ^%$#$*#& crew chief, you tell me!
Eury: Well, we could take two tire's and fuel, 4 tries and fuel, or fuel only or stay out.
Junior: Well what is it!
Eury: (after it was already to late) Stay out.

Well, that was planning at it's best. When asked about it, Eury said they stayed out for track position. What? He was in third place at the time. By not pitting, he went to the front, a great place not to be that late in the race. Third was the right place to be. I just couldn't believe it.

Next caution , with a chance to right that wrong, Junior was talking to his spotter (his friend T.J. Majors), about a clicking noise on the radio. When he was done I heard the following.
Junior: Are we pitting?
Eury: I was going tell you to, but you guy's were jabbering and I couldn't.
Junior: To late now.

Oh boy. It looks like there was some situational awareness issue's. I have seen several way's to correct this second issue on the message board's. The most prevalent method was to modify the current radio's or buy new one's, that would have the crew chief's radio override everyone else's.
What? A simple "no one talks to the driver during caution laps except the crew chief" rule would solve that problem.

What Junior never had at DEI after his father died, was someone to lay down the law at the Monday meeting and stop this sort of thing. He now has that in Rick Hendrick. It should be or probably was, an interesting meeting.

The Geeze

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Monday, February 11, 2008

The Budwieser Shootout - My Take

The Bud shootout Saturday night was quite a race. Speed's were about one mile per hour faster than last year with the old car. I think most thought that speeds would be down a bit with the COT. Not that this is a vindication of the new car, but it is encouraging.

I don't intend to review race broadcasts, ( The Daly Planet does that much better than I could), but I think the Fox crew did their normal good job. Too many commercials, but that's a given. Enjoyed the show.

There were some suprises, for me anyway. Toyota was one. Three finished in the top ten, and a good showing forDave Blaney. A second place finish for Tony Stewart and a ninth place for Denny Hamlin might indicate that JGR carry the Toyota banner to the front this year. An eleventh place finish for Michael Waltrip was good to see and I hope he has shaken off last seasons woe's and will do well.

The teamwork that was displayed my the Hendrick team, seemed to dispel all the rumors on the chat boards and in news story's about ego problems keeping the drivers from working together.Gordon dropping back so as to not push Stewart past his teammate and Earnhardt asking for a bump and getting it, right after Johnson said"OK put your head back in the headrest, here it comes" (or words to that effect). And of course, Earnhardt winning his first race with Hendrick. Good stuff.

The Geeze

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NASCAR Message Board's - The New Soap Opera

Is it just me, or has NASCAR become one big soap opera? Ashley Judd’s dress, Has Wendy gained weight? Did Tony smack Kurt? On a lot of message boards, the quality of the television coverage gets more attention than the race itself. However, with ESPN’s stellar coverage last season, maybe that’s justified. It just seems to me that there is less talk on the boards about actually racing than ever before.

The word “hate” seems to come up quite often. Not “I don’t care for Bubba “, But I hate Bubba. It seems some fans have become, well, fanatical. I sit and watch as a harmless thread is started. Like “what do you think of bubba’s chances this year”? Usually within as little as three posts, you will have a Bubba sucks post. Not a prediction of how he will do, just the fact that he sucks and why.

Then Bubba fans will have to respond to why he doesn’t suck, and why the prior poster’s driver does. This will go on for pages. And it will get nasty. Hate will come up. Cheater will be mentioned, NASCAR will be vilified, and a post about how horrible the COT is will be wedged in there completely out of context. And the original question will never be answered.

To get this response, you used to have to bait people into it. A loaded question as it were. Why Bubba won’t win a race” for example. Not any more. To illustrate this phenomena, “I used the name Bubba because if I used a real drivers first name, I would get comments on why I was picking on him

The Geeze

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Monday, February 4, 2008

New Junior Fan

After being completely neutral about Dale Earnhadrt Jr. in the past, I have decided I should become a "Junior" fan. Why you ask? After following the soap opera that his decision to leave DEI and move to Hendrick Motorsports became, I started thinking about it.

Keeping in mind that I had no Dale Sr. baggage to lug around ( I liked him, just not a big fan), I kept seeing on board's and in blog's, comments about "he's not as good his father" and "he would do much better if he had his father's hard driving style", well, you get the picture. While I'm sure there were family issues at DEI, I also think that the only way he would ever get out his father's shadow, and fan's expecting him, or whishing him to be his father would be to leave DEI.

That's a tough decision to make, and I think the way he handeld it was classy. Even with some of his fans fighting with each other over black helecopters and tin foil hat's, he kept it clean and took the high road. That inpressed me. Yes, there are those that say he got some shot's at DEI in there, but compared to what some (and I say some. not all or even most) of his fans had to say, it was a very high road indeed.

The main reason for leaving, at least publicly, was winning. Doing what he is here to do. Not being a corperate spokesman or a role model. Yes he makes a lot of money, ok, a ton of money as a spokesman, but winnig races and championships is at the root of why he does what he does.
How you do this is is by going to a team that is winning races and championships.
No, I'm not a Hendrick fan, so we can take that out of the equation.

So, he has decided to find out if the reason he is not currently winning is due to talent, equipment or both. In front of all of us and on a huge stage. Pretty gutsy I would say, and I admire him for doing it. Will he be the number three driver at Hendrick? Could be. For awhile maybe. But they would be insane if they did not give him the best crew and equipment possible. I was at Fontana for testing and it didn't seem he was all that fast, but neither were his teammates. We will see.

So I'm a fan. not because of his father, car manufacturer , sponsor or his employer. I don't need extra energy, so Amp is out. I'm sure I won't qualify for the National Guard. I might hoist a few Mountain Dew's however. I'm a fan because he showed me a lot and I like the guy. And the fact that he is not just like his father might just be to his credit.

The Geeze

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

What is This All About

Here is where I'll post my inane, moronic, random and at times topical, thoughts on all things NASCAR (and maybe some other racing series). I will try not to comment on TV coverage much unless something extremely horrific (draft lock) or extremely excellent(Mike Joy) occurs. I'm sure that both will at least once.

A little background. I started following NASCAR in the mid seventy's and attended my first race at Riverside Raceway. Read about it here Yes I know, I'm The Geez for a reason. Ive attended races at Riverside, Ontraio Motor Speedway, California Speedway, Sonoma, Pheonix, Las vegas and almost made it to Richmond during a business trip. That still pisses me off. I have been a Mark Martin fan since the Stroh's Light day's. I am also a recent Dale Earnhardt Jr fan. Before you call me a band wagon jumper, I will do a post as to why that is.

I am not typical old fart. An old fart yes, typical no. I don't believe "it's the old way or the highway. I don't like the looks of the COT, but it's "the car", so why bitch about it. The top 35 rule had it's reason for being go away and should be modified or done away with but as with the COT, it's here and I'll live with it. I am all for the new wave of open wheel driver's coming to NASCAR. It's goood for the sport and will, I hope, bring new fans. Of these driver's, Patrick Carpentier link is my favorite as he was the teammate of my favorite open wheel driver the late Greg Moore link.

Please leave a comment, good, bad or ugly, if you stop by. If for no other reason than I will know if I'm talking to myself or not.

The Geeze

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