Sunday, December 24, 2006

"Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings"

I am taking some time away from the blog, which will return to its "normal" schedule on January 7, from Detroit's International Auto Show. I wish a Merry Christmas to all who believe in the Christian tradition, and a sincere Seasons Greetings for all who follow other traditions. May all of you spend some quality time with family, friends, soulmates and sweethearts...and may we remember the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coasties who protect us, so we can enjoy our holidays.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Vanilla vs. Jalapeno (Jimmie Johnson v. Curtis "Pops" Turner)

The new Nextel Cup Champion is, and appears to be, well spoken and has few, if any, rough edges...which is exactly what the spinmeisters at NASCAR want.
What would they do if their champion was like the late, lamented Curtis Turner? Ol' Pops was a hard drinking hell raiser, with ooodles of charm. (sorta also like one Tim Richmond, IIRC).
Props to Johnson, Chad Knaus, and all the crew who 'manned up' when Knaus was exiled for the first four races--that performance set the stage for the championship.

Monday, November 06, 2006

We Goofed Last Week

On our "Race-Talk" program, we previewed the Champ Car season finale as taking place LAST weekend. The Mexico City race actually takes place this weekend (11/10-12). We take full responsibility for this goof-up.
WWE (oops, the Chase) gets a bit out of hand in Texas
Nothing wrong with Happy Harvick, Mrs. Happy and crewmembers from Scott Riggs' team trading spirited comments. When people get hurt by "runaway" pit carts...that is a different matter. And it is quite curious that not much more than a Mike Harris (longtime AP auto racing writer) story appeared on it was suppressed. NASCAR Justice triumphs yet again.

Monday, October 23, 2006

NASCAR Chase Tweaks
I still believe the "Chase" is an artificial construct. Only fan outrage will cause it to go away...and none seem to be so outraged. Therefore, to quote NASCAR President Mike Helton, "It is what it is."
That still won't stop my offering some suggested tweaks to their system. They are:
Top 10 in points/any driver 400 or fewer points behind the leader after race 26--status quo.
My tweak would add race winners of two or more races to that mix, not in the top 10, who would be adjusted into a tie for 10th place. The drama of 10th place would still exist...but more emphasis would be placed on winning. I still have this outdated notion that winning races should be more rewarding than scoring points (see the points system comment below).
Paul Kaminski

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Let's Reward Winning...Not Stroking

The old line fans and purists think NASCAR's top division has "gone Hollywood". It's changed a lot since I saw my first race in 1978.Despite Brian Vickers' brain cramp at Talledega, the fans (at the track, not in the TV audience, which was lower than last year) were interested in the last lap theatrics. It gave the appearance that a driver was actually interested in winning a race. My little rework of the points system would do that in fact:
Race winner gets 200 points.
Second gets 180. The point totals drop by five from 3rd through 19th; 3rd gets 175, 19th gets 95.
20th to 24th place gets 90 points.
25th to 29th place gets 80 points.
30th to 43rd place would get 70 points (so the creative body work to pound out dents and rip off fenders would not really be necessary, unless the car was running in the top 19).
Bonus Points: Winners get 10, green flag lap leaders get 5 and lap leaders under the yellow get two.

We'll have more comments on our "Race-Talk" program...and even more here on the blog.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Another Wreckfest at Talledega
In the "what the Sam Hill was Brian Vickers thinking" department:
That was short term thinking of the highest order. Yes, he got his Nextel Cup win. Yes, it will help him with Red Bull.
No, he will never get another break from any driver in Hendrick livery, despite his comments on the departed Ricky Hendrick from Victory Lane.
It was high drama of the NASCAR variety.
ps--if AJ Allemendinger does get a brain cramp and come to NASCAR's Red Bull program, he'll suffer a similar fate as did Michael Andretti, Cristiano da Matta, and to some extent, Juan Pablo Montoya during their move "up" to Formula One.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Go Fast or Go Home--a suggestion for NASCAR to implement

This business with provisionals is old. It ties up scarce spots in the field. It needs to be changed; here's how I'd do it:
In Nextel Cup, the most recent past champion would get a season long provisional. Period. The 42 fastest cars fill starting spots 1-42; the provisional starter starts 43rd. This is the only equitable way to allocate scarce resources among some 50 teams reputed to be chasing the Nextel Cup in 2007.
But wait, there's more: Something needs to be done with the points-just like the provisionals.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Contrarian View on the "Chase"
I've believed it was an artificial construct since it was announced in 2004.
My hope is that Tony Stewart either wins or finishes 2nd in each of the nine remaining events.
That would make a good story (since I do not have, nor will I have a favorite driver, I always cheer for a good story).
Happy Harvick running the table in the next nine would be cool, too.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Labor Day on the "Left Coast" and other musings

For many years, NASCAR ran the Southern 500 at the "track too tough to tame"--Darlington Raceway. The race gave teams almost a day off...since Darlington can be reached in under four hours (in bad traffic--good traffic much less). Darlington's race is precisely what gave NASCAR's top division its reputation. That reputation is somewhat diminished by the sport leaving venues that were challenging (North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, one race taken from Darlington, races shortened at Dover from 500 get the idea). The sport is shedding its roots and reputation faster than a snake sheds its skin in a molt. It had a certain nobility in its simplicity. Unfortunately, NASCAR is much less simple and noble than it once was.
NHRA gets "Chasified"--America's fastest motorsport is taking a page from the aforementioned NASCAR, and modifying its championship in all the Pro (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock bike) categories for 2007. The last few races will see an adjustment in points for the Top 8...and two will be eliminated until there are two contenders left in each class to race for the title at Pomona. NHRA Pro has the right idea in that everyone has to qualify on track--no provisionals, even for the 13 time Funny Car champ and leader John Force. Think about that system in NASCAR. My vote is for "Win or Go Home'.
Update on 9/3/2006:
Interesting link from the San Bernardino (CA) Sun's sports page:

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Nine Hours at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah next week to decide Grand-Am Rolex series champ; Dixon on pole for IRL Grand Prix of Sonoma:

A storybook win at Infineon Raceway for Auburn CA's Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz from Chip Ganassi expected coronation for Krohn Racing's Jorg Bergmeister didn't materialize...his car started from pit lane after an engine change...Jorg never contended but passed a bunch of cars...the win for Pruett and Diaz number 5. The points look something like this: Bergmeister has 437...Pruett and Diaz 418...Angelelli now 3rd.

Scott Dixon wins the pole...Marco Andretti starts 2nd in the next to last Indy Racing League IndyCar race of 2006. If you can find a sportsbook that'll take action on IRL racing...wheel the number 9 of Dixon anywhere in the top 3.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Indy Cars at Infineon Raceway

From the "taxicabs" to the naturally aspirated IndyCars in the space of 96 hours
We'll keep an eye on both the IndyCars (Indy Racing League) and Grand-Am Rolex Daytona Prototype Series this weekend. Scott Dixon is the real deal as a road racer. The 2003 IRL champ was fastest in practice...followed closely by Helio Castroneves. As in Kentucky...the IRL point lead could change after the race. Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish, Jr. is just 7 points ahead of Helio...and 33 ahead of Dixon.
Jan Magnussen is on pole for the GrandAm Rolex race...Jorg Bergmeister, the series point leader, starts 2nd overall. As we said on "Race-Talk", Bergmeister can clinch the title if he finishes 36 points ahead of Max Angelelli...both have Riley chassis; Bergmeister with Ford power, and Angelelli's team has the Pontiac engine.
There are 25 of the Daytona Prototypes qualified for the race. Eighteen Indy Cars will go for the pole on Saturday.
In the "what were they thinking" department...Patrick Carpentier (he of the Busch series ambition) will be co-driving another Pontiac Riley with Milka Duno. Why this driver from Quebec is not in a Champ Car in Montreal this weekend makes me pull out what little hair I have left (they have just 17 Champ Cars there).
Infineon is a jewel among places where cars race. It is worth a side trip when you visit wine country in Napa.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Car of Tomorrow @ Michigan--1st impressions

Bill Elliott was the first of the COT drivers on track...and turned the first test laps with the '07 Red Bull Toyota Camry...11 COTs in all hit the banks of MIS...Jeff Gordon...Joe Nemechek, Carl Edwards, Mickael Waltrip, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, rookie pheenom Denny Hamlin among the chauffeurs. Elliott seemed to make the most laps...the Toyotas were equipped with NASCAR spec Truck series engines...Chevys, Dodges and Fords their Nextel Cup powerplants. Though uglier than original sin in profile, and, with a message to send, all painted up, the Camrys were gazed upon by the other teams like the "Aflac duck". More to come after the break.
Updated at 5:55 pm
Jeff Gordon told me he had issues with the way the car looked...said it was not sexy enough...that all the minds of NASCAR (hmm) and Detroit's engineers could have come up with a car that really looked like a race did, however, drive OK by itself, says the four time champ, now 6th in points. Kurt Busch, says Toyota will have a steep learning curve before they become competitive. Bill Elliott ran not just the first but the most laps.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Car of Tomorrow tests at Michigan International Speedway on Monday 8/21

The first appearance of a racing 2007 Camry is scheduled for Monday, August 21...a NASCAR test is on tap for MIS...and we'll stay behind a day to take a look at the sanctioning body's representation of 2007 cars which will make their on track debuts at short tracks and road courses. The behind the scenes chat is that the cars of tomorrow are a solution to a problem that really does not exist...and does not solve the problems that do.
F1 back at Indy in 2007--

Here's the official word from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, subject as above:
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006 – The 2007 United States Grand Prix is scheduled for Sunday, June 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the eighth consecutive year that a FIA Formula One World Championship event will take place at the world’s most famous racetrack. On Wednesday, Aug. 16, IMS Chief Executive Officer Tony George and Formula One Management President and Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone came to an agreement on a one-year contract to bring Formula One racing back to IMS. The event returns to the third weekend of June, when it was run in 2004 and 2005, after taking place on the Fourth of July weekend in 2006. Ticket information for next year’s race will be announced soon. “It was important for us to reach an agreement quickly so we can begin notifying fans that Formula One will again be racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007,” said Joie Chitwood, IMS president. “Though this contract is for only one year, it is still our goal to make the Speedway the longtime home of the United States Grand Prix.“Our immediate focus, however, is making sure IMS sets the stage for creating a world-class sporting event. The first step in doing that is beginning the process to sell tickets. We will announce that process soon, making sure that our ticket account holders get the opportunity to renew their seats first.”The 2007 race date is subject to final approval by the FIA, which is the sanctioning body for Formula One. Formula One was revived in the United States in 2000 by IMS after a nine-year absence. Race Day crowds for the USGP have been among the largest in Formula One since the event came to Indianapolis.The Indianapolis Motor Speedway completed a multimillion-dollar renovation and construction project in 2000, including the building of a 2.605-mile road course for the USGP that includes part of the famed, historic IMS oval. Michael Schumacher won this year’s United States Grand Prix on July 2 in his Ferrari, becoming the first five-time winner of a major event in IMS history.
How much was the sanctioning fee?
Will the fans come back?
Do you care?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Las Vegas-Long Beach Champ Car double weekend in April, 2007

A while back, I wrote about a possible back to back weekend for Champ Car in Las Vegas (which was confirmed by boss Steve Johnson) and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
If you go to the will find a date for the Long Beach street classic. It is the second weekend in April. The Las Vegas race is the first.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Shorty", a/k/a Cristiano DaMatta; Brickyard 400 and other takes
  • A rough go for the RUSport driver and 2002 CART Champion...thanks to some great medical work by the Champ Car Safety and Medical teams..."Shorty" is now recovering slowly from the subdural hematoma which proves fatal in 50% of the cases where traumatic injury occurs. He (like all who drive race cars for a living) can use your thoughts and prayers. Your good works could be directed toward the "Hole in the Wall Gang", the designated official Champ Car Charity.
  • If you didn't realize it before...then Sunday's Brickyard win for Jimmie Johnson & crew chief Chad Knaus should reveal that the #48 Lowe's team is fast becoming the favorite in this year's Nextel Cup championship chase. When you blow out a front tire at likely lose more than a lap or two. Not so for that team on Sunday...the victory went a long way to exorcise demons. The next one is a road course win...
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials tell me the F1 negotiations continue...any reported financial help from the city may not materialize--the money will likely (and properly) be spent for cops, jail beds and prosecutors to combat a spate of murders. That stuff is would not do if Flavio or Ron or the other F1 folks got caught in the wrong end of a drive-by..When I chatted with Indiana Governor "My Man" Mitch Daniels at the Brickyard, he reminded me about all the tourism $$$ the Speedway brings..
  • A Open Wheel (IRL Indy Car/Champ Car) reunification trial balloon floated would have both series having the Indy 500 and some road races as common events..That reminds one of what floats in a commode when the tank has insufficient pressure. Stranger things have happened, and will likely continue to happen.

  • I'm not a movie person--but the "Ricky Bobby-Talledega Nights" promotions--and the clips I've seen--are more than annoying. I believe I am likely one of a few auto racing observers who will never see this "magnum opus"--one can handle only so much hype at one time.

  • Just another random thought: What would happen this week if Sarah Fisher was able to win the IRL Indy Car race at Kentucky Speedway? She did win the pole there in 2003. That would kinda deflate the Danica Patrick bubble, wouldn't it? Both women will be in the race there on August 13.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

2007 Champ Cars in Vegas...ends season in Phoenix
The other shoe dropped...the downtown area--north of the Strip...gets to stage the 2007 Champ Car Opener on the weekend of April 4-6...the season ends in the streets of still TBA...but early November is more likely. The question...will the schedule include back to back Vegas and Long Beach..or do they get separated by a couple of weeks? Methinks that question gets answered by Denver time.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Open Wheel Reunification isn't happening in 2007--2008 at the earliest

Interesting chat I had with Steve Johnson, Champ Car's President and CEO at Toronto. The 2007 schedule is taking shape...and so far...he's plugging in events for May 0f 2007. That would make it next to impossible for a team to qualify for the Indy 500.
There is a Champ Car event planned for Las Vegas's downtown in '07--not the strip--promoted by the same people trying to get Phoenix off the ground, despite the comments and roadblocks thrown by Phoenix International Raceway's President Bryan Sperber.
Johnson doesn't rule out reunification...but he has to keep the nuts and bolts tightened on the day to day operations.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

F1 back "home" again in Indiana?

Another win for the "tifosi" (Ferrari fans...whose near fanaticism makes the average NASCAR fan's look like a passing interest) @ the Brickyard...Perhaps a win for American Formula One fans.

Anton H. "Tony" George must be a magnet for public negotiations...The major domo of 16th St & Georgetown road is chatting with Formula One's "el supremo" a/k/a Bernie Ecclestone...who has a penchant for negotiation by bomb-throwing in public (witness the statement that F1 didn't need America)...and cast iron flexibility in private.

I did not expect 120-thousand fans at Indy. You cannot estimate the F1 crowd by the numbers of fans in the stands lining the front straight. My suspicion: Neither Tony nor Bernie expected the crowd they saw, given the "sturm und drang" of the 2005 Michelin tire issue. IMS sources tell me yes, they are talking...and something is likely to come of those talks in a couple of weeks.

As for F1 in Vegas--an interesting concept...the town has more than enough to hold the interest of El Supremo, Flavio Briatore, et al. But we won't likely see any of the casinos pony up land and build garages.

Tony George has the infrastructure in place.

My comment: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Both Bernie and Tony ought to take a cue from that perspicacious labor analyst, "Larry the Cable Guy."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Open Wheel Reunification--or regurgitation?

Reports on suggest that Messrs. George (Anton H.--founder of the Indy Racing League) and Kalkoven (Kevin--the major co-owner of the entity that controls Champ Car) have buried part of the hatchet that splits open wheel racing. Any of the people (from former drivers like Danny Sullivan to owners like Roger Penske to sponsor reps) I talk with in both series paddocks tell me they want to see one strong series. This could have happened much more quickly in the days before the proliferation of media--since it is MUCH more difficult to conduct talks where both parties can speak candidly and freely without exposing the most sensitive parts of that negotiation.
My sense is that this is not 75% done...Nor 51% done. More like 25%, with the ownership issue floated like a balloon. The four P's of the marketing "quadratic equation" (product, price, place and promotion) are yet to be determined.
No, that hatchet has a long handle and a big head. It needs to be excavated and reburied in the proper manner...Because the issues are still sharp enough to keep the parties split.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Melanie Troxel/NHRA Top Fuel Champ 2006??

She has the best chance of any woman to win a major auto racing championship...good competitive equipment out of Don Schumacher's stable...not only is she consistent..she is consistently fast.

Rookie Hillary Will has a Kalitta Top Fuel tune-up...and will be heard from in the second half of the season. You can also read her blog at .

Both are the real deal...which is not good for the IRL (Danica Patrick), Champ Car (Katherine Legge) and NASCAR (Erin Crocker) marketeers who must tub thump for their racing ladies.

Just for the record...Shirley Muldowney is a past NHRA Top Fuel champion...won hers 30 some years ago.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Strong Comments about the "Taxicabs"

I suspect Mr. Olson's not on the "A" list at 1801 W Int'l Speedway Blvd. The truth shall make you free (or mad as the case may be).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

So Much for the Texas Throwdown

It's official...both Al Unser, Jr and Michael Andretti declined Texas Motor Speedway's offer for $100 K of sponsorship if they'd both run at Texas...the offer intrigued both teams...but the time to get competitive pieces ready after Indy was too short, so they said.

Eddie Gossage is (like all his counterparts at Speedway Motorsports tracks) a master is an attribute that is a rarity among the majority of racing executives, save for the uber-meister, H. A. "Humpy" Wheeler--who is in a class by himself.

Paul Kaminski

Sunday, May 28, 2006

America Supports You

This is posted on the day before Memorial Day. I could not blog this, or do what I do, if it weren't for the sacrifice of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coasties who died to protect our way of life. They are responsible for our freedoms (all of them) enumerated in the Bill of Rights. I hope you will take a few minutes to reflect on the sacrifice of our fallen heroes, and go to and thank our heroes who are serving today.

Paul Kaminski
SFC, US Army (Retired)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Texas wants a revival of the Al Unser, Jr.--Michael Andretti duels of the CART days.

Texas Motor Speedway Boss Eddie Gossage threw $100 grand on the table if both Michael Andretti and Al Unser, Jr. race in TMS's Bombardier Learjet 500k Indy Racing League event on July 10. Gossage tells me it would be a natural...since both are entered in the Indy 500. Both drivers have to run to put the $100K in play.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Car Stuff

We are driving the Subaru Impreza WRX wagon, and find it to be a neat little piece. It goes like the hammers of hell when you light the turbo, and with the boxer engine (which is almost kill-proof) should provide lots of opportunity to get a speeding ticket. You might also recognize it as the base for the Saab 9-2. Do you like small sporty wagons..or must your hot rods be coupes?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Dale Jarrett to Toyota?

Interesting, since Ned's son owns VERY successful Ford stores in and around the Charlotte, NC area. Back in January, Dale made comments to media covering the Lowe's Media tour that (they) ought to look at American cars with more objective eyes, saying they could compete with the imports (Ford Fusion was just launched, if I recall correctly).

Wonder if Dale will look for a Toyota franchise if the rumor becomes fact.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Motor Sports Radio Blog

One thing we do have an opinion on is the National Anthem--which, at a lot of racing venues, is sung horribly. The alleged Hispanic version likely falls in that category. Mr. Key did not write the poem on which it is based in Spanish; therefore, in deference to the artist, and a lot of brave men and women who died to protect its performance, let us keep the National Anthem sung in our vernacular--American English. A tip to those who'd sing it at auto races: Listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's version, and emulate it.
This is the first entry in the Motor Sports Radio Blog--a place where our listeners, other fans and enthusiasts can have their say on all things auto racing, and about new cars and light trucks. We have more opinions than time on our radio programs. Be assured they will be strong, and based on 29 years of covering all forms of major league auto racing--and roadtesting 650+ vehicles for our Radio-Road-Test program. If you are not familiar with them, they are available from local radio stations and as "podcasts" from our website.
For "Race-Talk"
For "Radio-Road-Test"
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