Sunday, June 26, 2011


Sorry I haven't written much lately.  Time is short, and I have a lot of commitments that keep me from posting here on a regular basis.  I have been keeping up with the NASCAR scene though, and hope to back in somewhat of a regular mode here soon.

I'm looking at at a major redesign on this site as well, and that will hopefully be coming in the next few months.  It's not that I don't like it the way it is, but I think I can improve it greatly, and bring more information to you, the reader on a timely basis.

For all of you how have followed me over the last few years, thank you.  I hope to be back in touch with you soon.

Happy trails,

Jimmy C 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Getting A Better Picture... On The Radio

I watched approximately the first half of the Richmond Cup race on FOX at a friend’s house on Saturday night. I was enjoying the racing, as Richmond has always been one of my favorite tracks, which I can say about virtually every short track at which NASCAR conducts business.

Alas, the evening had to end, and I drove home, a trip of about 50 miles. Fortunately for me, I was able to listen to most of the second half of the race on a truly great radio station, WESC, 92.5 FM in Greenville, South Carolina. This station can be heard nearly all the way to Atlanta, and nearly all the way to Charlotte. WESC has been carrying the MRN and PRN broadcasts for at least three decades now.

Back before 2001, when NASCAR signed its TV deal with FOX, et al, I didn’t have cable or satellite TV for the most part. I occasionally caught a race on one of the broadcast networks when it was presented. Prior to 2001, however, I mostly got my NASCAR on the radio, and I don’t remember having any complaints about the coverage. When I caught a TV broadcast on ESPN or the old Nashville Network back in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, I loved the treatment that commentators such as Ned Jarrett and Neil Bonnett gave to the races.

In 2001, everything changed, of course. The new TV deal was inked, and once I had basic cable, I was able to watch every single NASCAR Sprint Cup race, as well as the Nationwide and Camping World Truck races. I know, I know, none of these three series were called by those names back in 2001, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll just stick with their current names.

Since I’ve had basic cable, I have probably watched about 95 per cent of all the NASCAR races, plus quite a few ARCA races, as well as some IRL and F1 races. And then there’s the NHRA, but I won’t get into that. Obviously, I’ve missed a few races, but when I wasn’t near a TV, I always had old reliable, which of course is good old WESC, which in turn provided me with MRN and PRN broadcasts.

I’ve had my beefs with all of the TV networks which have broadcast NASCAR events since 2001. I feel that SPEED TV does a great job with the Camping World Truck races. I like Phil Parsons’ commentary nearly as much as I did his late brother Benny’s. If I had it my way, SPEED would broadcast all of the NASCAR races. I’m glad that FOX does about half of the Cup season, however, because I know that not everyone has cable or satellite TV. ESPN, with their sister network ABC, broadcast the late season Cup races. Unfortunately for those without the extra channels, mostly those races are broadcast on ESPN’s channels

Many have questioned the various networks’ commitment to NASCAR over the last few years. ESPN has been a point of contention for many journalists and pundits lately, and in a way, I see their point. From a NASCAR fan’s point of view, it may seem that ESPN doesn’t have the same level of commitment as, say FOX, SPEED, or the handful of races which are broadcast by TNT. All of the major networks, especially the broadcast networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX) are not primarily sports networks. Sure, they make a lot of money from the sports that they do broadcast. FOX and CBS are doing quite well with their coverage of the NFL. NBC has been giving us the Sunday night NFL game. ESPN is the home of Monday Night Football. CBS and NBC have had great success with their late round PGA golf coverage. I don’t even know who does the NBA or NHL finals anymore, because I basically don’t care, unless my Celtics are playing. I live in South Carolina, so I probably couldn’t even name five NHL teams. Not that we don’t have hockey fans here, because we do, and even have a professional hockey team or two in the area. I just don’t have the time to pay much attention to them.

ESPN, however, is different from the other networks. ESPN covers virtually all sports known to mankind. If you’re a beach volleyball fan, and who isn’t, then ESPN is the place to be. If you like watching professional bowling, ESPN and it’s sister channels are only a remote click away. There are so many sports, and only so many hours in a given day, or week, or year, or for that matter, a lifetime. I’m willing to give ESPN a pass on scrimping a little when NASCAR coverage coincides with the NFL draft. In the USA, which is where ESPN’s primary audience resides, the NFL is king. Of course, I’m only talking about ESPN from a TV standpoint. provides in depth coverage on so many sports that it boggles the mind. At least my mind. I can read about sports I’ve never heard of, much less seen, all on one website. ESPN would need to have about a dozen more TV channels to give every sports fan what they want. Bandwidth is everything, and ESPN does an admirable job with what they’ve got.

I love ESPN. They rock. If I ever have to live without ESPN, I might spend the rest of my life mumbling to myself in a corner. Well, I mean more than I mumble to myself in a corner already. Remind me to tell you how I became a fan of the sport of curling some day. I’m not kidding. It’s now my second or third favorite sport.

I digress, as usual. The point of this little message from me to you is that I realized, about halfway home, listening to the Richmond race as it was called by MRN, was that I had what I felt was a more total picture of the race by listening to the radio than I had from watching the TV coverage that FOX provided. Over the years, I have heard of more than a few fans who told me that they turned on the TV coverage, and muted the sound. Then they turned on the radio and listened to Barney Hall, or whomever was broadcasting the races via radio.

I’ve seen the light. I think I’m going to start doing the same from now on.

I got home and fed the creatures who inhabit the property, and turned on the race on WESC while performing my chores. Finally, I turned on the TV, with the sound muted, though with closed captioning enabled. I saw the Richmond version of the ‘Big One’ that took out Jeff Gordon and a few others. I compared what I heard on the radio to what I read on the closed captioning on TV. (Proving to myself that I can multitask, at least to some degree, though it made my head hurt.) I found that I learned much more, got a clearer picture through the radio broadcast than I did from the images I saw and the words I read on my TV screen. For the rest of the race, I did much the same, and though FOX basically followed Kyle Busch around and around in circles, I got updates on other drivers throughout the field from MRN on a regular basis. FOX really never showed it, but MRN told me about some pretty good racing going on back in the field.

MRN stands for Motor Racing Network, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of NASCAR. For those of you who like to criticize NASCAR, I offer to you that NASCAR has done at least one thing very well, and that’s what MRN does. MRN does not have the luxury of letting the pictures tell the story. Veteran broadcasters like Barney Hall paint a mental picture by words alone, and they do it very well. MRN has been broadcasting races for so many years that it can be expected that they will provide very high quality coverage of NASCAR events, and as far as I’m concerned, I’ve never been disappointed.

You want a nominee for the 2011 class for the NASCAR Hall Of Fame? Don’t forget guys like Barney Hall, or Eli Gould, who, as I understand it, also knows a thing or two about college football in the great state of Alabama.

If I were in charge of NASCAR, I think I would require all networks that carry my product to spend quite a bit of time studying how MRN can bring a race alive to a listener by words alone. Show what’s going on back in the field more than just a few times during the race. I don’t mean pay lip service to it, but actually cover it. When the guy leading the race is 2 seconds in front of the second place guy, there might be 4 drivers beating the crap out of each other for 5th, or 10th, or maybe 35th place. So what if the guys racing for 35th are 3 laps down? If it’s the best racing on the track, show it. That’s what the fans at the track are watching. I know. Sometimes I’m one of those fans at the track. I’d rather watch two guys fighting for a spot way back in the field than watch the leader drive away from everyone. I hate it when I read the next day about a race and find out that a particular driver had finished well, but was never shown, nor even mentioned during the broadcast. That seems to happen every week, somehow. Radio, by it’s very nature, requires that the broadcasters cover the entire event, not just the leader. Radio guys know that we can’t see it, so they have to describe it for us. Good radio guys can paint such a vivid picture through words alone that it seems inconsequential that we can’t actually see what’s happening.

There are so many great drivers, crew chiefs, owners, and people behind the scenes that deserve to be in the Hall Of Fame. I’m sure that most, if not all will get there eventually, and they all deserve it.

Just don’t forget the people who bring the Show to your living room, or to your car while you’re driving a lonely highway.

I don’t want to forget about the good people at Performance Racing Network, or PRN. They do a great job as well, slipping in almost seamlessly when MRN isn’t there.

Who knew? I finally got the big picture, and it was all back where I started. Radio. I can see more clearly now.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hendrick Teamwork Pays Off at Dega

I’ve ready many pieces written about Sunday’s Talladega race, in which Jimmie Johnson pulled a rabbit out of his hat and won the Aaron’s 499.  Not only was the finish basically the closest in NASCAR history, the way in which it came about was a story within itself.  Talladega and Daytona are truly races that can’t be won without teamwork.  On Sunday, the teamwork that seemed to matter the most was provided by four teams who reside under one corporate umbrella, which is of course Hendrick Motorsports.

All day, it was the 88 pushing the 48, or vice versa, and the 5 and 24 doing the same.  They stayed together all day, and in the end, it paid off with a win for Jimmie Johnson, as well as Rick Hendrick, who’s four cars all finished in the top 8.

Various pieces I’ve read have been critical of the 2 by 2 racing that has become prevalent at the restrictor plate tracks this year, and I can’t say that I blame them.  The 2 car mini packs are certainly different from anything we’ve ever seen before.  To be honest with you, I didn’t much like what I saw beginning at Daytona practice, and in the Daytona 500 itself.  I suppose I didn’t like the 2 by 2 style because at first I didn’t really understand it.  Leave it to the true experts in the field to figure it out, and by that I mean the best drivers in the world who actually have to make a living at 200 miles per hour, and not the pundits, much less the self appointed pundits, much like me, who spout opinions about it

Strangely enough, the drivers themselves seem to be divided on the issue as well.  Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s dislike of the 2 by 2 packs has probably been the most publicized.  Other drivers, including his teammate Jeff Gordon, didn’t seem to have much of a problem with it.  It’s a learning experience for all of them, as well as for the fans and the people who write about the sport, and the jury is still out on whether 2 by 2 is a good thing or a bad thing.

About halfway through Sunday’s Dega race, I decided I liked the 2 by 2 tango.  The cars still draft, but they’re not in huge packs like they used to be.  This has been something that NASCAR has tried to accomplish for years, and I daresay they might be onto something with the current car and tire package.  The fastest way around Talladega and Daytona is in 2 car packs working closely together.  And I mean closely.  NASCAR is a fluid sport, as witnessed by the last 10 years or so probably more than any other time in the sport’s history.  If there’s one thing you can say for Brian France, it’s that the sport has probably seen more changes under his leadership than at any other time in NASCAR’s history.

One aspect about the new style of driving at the plate tracks is that I’m not very happy with the pusher being basically the co-pilot to the lead car.  That’s the only way it can work though.  Were the cars pushing the leaders to the finish on Sunday all giving up all chances to win?  Did they think they might get a chance to get to the front in the last second or so?  All’s fair in racing, especially in the last turn.  I suppose that any of the top 8 or so drivers theoretically had a chance to win, but in practice, it took a tandem of cars driving low, too low, some people thought, to get the checkered flag.  The car pushing the winning car of Jimmie Johnson was the car of Dale Jr.  Jimmie finished first, and pressed to his back bumper was Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Dale finished 4th, even though he was denting the winning car’s bumper.  That’s how close it was.

Until NASCAR changes the aero package or the engine rules themselves at the plate tracks, the 2 by 2 tango is probably what we’re going to see for the foreseeable future.  I don’t think it’s a bad thing, it’s just different.  To me, Talladega was a different race this time.  There were multiple car wrecks, but really no routine ‘Big One’ as has often been seen at the plate tracks for years.  I think that’s probably a good thing.  I know some of the drivers, such as Dale Jr. like the old style big packs, and it’s exciting to watch, but at the same time, I hate seeing so many good drivers taken out of the mix by someone else’s mistake.  That happened at Dega on Sunday, but fortunately, not as many drivers were taken out as were in recent years.

Sometimes different isn’t all that bad.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Why Martinsville Endures

Kevin Harvick won at Martinsville today.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. came in second, narrowly beating out Kyle Busch for the spot.  Juan Pablo Montoya came in 4th, and Jeff Gordon finished 5th.

This was Martinsville at its best.  Good racing, good finishes, and the oldest track on the NASCAR circuit keeps putting people into the stands.  I don’t think today was a sellout by any means, but for a track in a town rather off the beaten track in southern Virginia, Martinsville never ceases to please.

Several years ago, after Dale Earnhardt died, I figured that eventually we would see Earnhardt Jr. and Harvick racing for wins against each other.  This isn’t the first time, obviously, but for me, at least, it was a win-win situation.  Nothing can be better than to see two of my favorite drivers fighting for the lead with laps to go at a track like Martinsville.  The drag race to the finish line with Dale Jr. just edging out Kyle Busch put the icing on my race day.

It’s not that I don’t like Kyle Busch.  Not as a racer at least.  I know that Kyle is one of the toughest drivers out there, and he’s smart as well.  As far as talent, Kyle Busch has it all.

I’m still working on the personality part of the Kyle Busch equation though.  He seems a little more calm so far in 2011, and I like that.  His mostly reasoned responses to media question make him better received than his old snarky personality made him sound.  If indeed Kyle is really coming around, I welcome him to NASCAR.  Be aggressive as you want to be on the track, just don’t whine about it when it all blows up in your face later.  Maybe that was just the old Kyle Busch.  The new Kyle I’ve seen lately is a lot easier to take, especially on a full stomach.  I’m not sure that I like Kyle yet, but I do respect him more.

When Martin Truex Jr.’s throttle got stuck open and he hit the wall, taking Kasey Kahne with him, I gained a lot of respect for Martin when he jumped out of his car and went to check on Kasey.  To me, that showed character as a driver.  Martin didn’t need to do that, but it was obviously important to him to make sure that a fellow driver was OK after a pretty bad wreck.  Fortunately, Kasey was, but Martin what I wish some other drivers would do in the same situation.  Go check on the other guy if you’re OK.  That’s the old school thing to do.

Martinsville, from it’s bright pink hot dogs down to it’s great racing epitomizes what racing ought to be.  Small tracks, small towns, tasty eats, and good hard racing.

What could be better?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Martinsville: Make Sure You Try Out the Hot Dogs

Martinsville is famous for its hotdogs.  Go eat one.  It's pink, but it won't kill you.

I love Martinsville, because it's two drag strips connected by two U turns.  Oh, wait, I'm pretty sure someone else has already said that.  Believe me, it's not easy being original in a world where it seems like everything has been done, said, or written at least once.

I love the short tracks.  I always have.  I love Martinsville, Richmond, Bristol, Dover, Phoenix, and even Darlington, even though Darlington technically doesn't qualify as a short track.  I love the fact that the drivers have to really crank that steering wheel around like they don't do on 1.5 mile tracks.  It's fun, it's awesome, and oh, did I mention the great pink hot dogs?

Expect to see a hot dog wrapper or two on the front grills of some of the race car.  That's a tradition at Martinsville too.  Somehow, some of those pieces of paper end up on the track, and when one gets hung in front of the radiator of a race car, overheating can occur.  It's just part of the game at this wonderful track in southern Virgina.

Martinsville is the oldest, I think, track currently on the NASCAR circuit.  It's a wonderful example of how racing used to be.  I love it, and if you're a NASCAR fan, you should too.

I really don't care who wins this weekend, but I'm very happy that we're racing on one of the greatest tracks in the series this weekend.  I'm going to eat a hot dog in celebration.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Great Race at California. Say What?

It's seems strange to say it, but the last 10 or so laps of Sunday's California race were among the best I've seen so far in the 2011 season.  Just when it looked like Kyle Busch was going to complete another sweep weekend, he falls from first two third in just a couple of laps.

Kevin Harvick came seemingly out of nowhere and passed first Busch, then Jimmie Johnson, who only himself had just passed Kyle for the lead.  Kevin put his front bumper to the rear of Jimmie's Chevrolet, got Jimmie loose, and passed on the outside.

But wait, this really happened at California?  Indeed it did.

I will admit, the first 190 laps or so were not very exciting.  I was about ready to quit watching the race altogether when JJ and Kevin began to close in on Kyle.  I'm glad I hung around to watch the end.

I already had said to a friend how much I liked the paint scheme on the 29 Chevy of Kevin Harvick.  At California, he had Jimmy Johns as his primary sponsor, and the car, at least from the side, was white.  It reminded me of his cars during his rookie Cup season in 2001, when he won his first cup race in only his third start at Atlanta.  (Oh, how I missed Atlanta this spring, but more on that at another time)

Congratulations to Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress, and all the RCR guys in a great win in Kevin's home state.  That win will probably rank up there with some of Kevin's favorite wins, considering who he passed in the final laps to take the checkered flag.

Friday, March 4, 2011

On Monday Morning, Everyone's an Expert

I listen to sports talk radio quite a bit.  Most of the time, the coverage of anything related to NASCAR is severely lacking, but I do perk up when events occur that catch the attention of even the most diehard stick and ball radio guys who would rather talk about college basketball RPI’s than they would even mention any kind of automobile racing, especially NASCAR.

Trevor Bayne’s win at Daytona on Sunday changed all of that.  I didn’t listen to the radio all day, since my paying job requires most of my attention between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm.  I do listen on the way to work, while I’m at lunch, and on the way home, however.  Early this morning, I listened to one talk show host who kept referring to the Daytona 500 winner as ‘Trevor Payne,’ or sometimes ‘Travis Payne,’  and I was yelling at the radio, which turns out to be a very productive exercise.   It’s productive if you’re trying to roughen up some already scratchy vocal cords anyway, which I have, due to a recent cold.  Unfortunately, it’s not very productive for much else, except making the cats give me one of those ‘he’s losing his mind again’ looks.

This particular host had a caller who tried to correct the last name of the driver in question.  The host quickly ignored the caller’s attempt to correct a mistake, and announced that he basically watches all the races, and he knows what he’s talking about.  Interesting, because I watch all the races that I can, but sometimes not all of them.  For instance, I did not get to watch the Craftsman Truck race on Friday, nor did I catch the Nationwide race on Saturday, nor did I see the Twin 150’s on Thursday, because calling in sick just to watch two qualifying races just didn’t quite outweigh my need for a paycheck,  but even I knew who Trevor Bayne was.  I know more about him now than I did Sunday morning, but even I knew his name was ‘Bayne,’ and not ‘Payne.’

I just finished watching Trevor’s appearance on ESPN’s NASCAR show on Monday evening.  The young man is nearly impossible to dislike.  His enthusiasm is contagious.  He’s a very real, excited young man with a very personable and engaging personality.  If I were the Wood Brothers, I’d make darn sure this guy doesn’t get away.  He reminds me of the son I never had, but wish I had.  The guy prayed over the radio on his pace laps before the green flag dropped.  He was 20 years and one day old when he won the Daytona 500, in only his second career Sprint Cup start.

Several talk show hosts today have repeatedly talked about how Trevor won the biggest race in only his second race, as if he’s only been in a race car one other time in his life.  That, of course, is not true.  Trevor has been racing since he was knee high to a grasshopper, and achieved much national acclaim racing carts as a boy.  He’s been around the Nationwide series for a while.  In other words, the kid has been driving competitively most of his life.  The talking radio heads don’t seem to grasp that, and I actually heard one guy today try to make the argument that this is just proof that NASCAR is all a farce, just a sham, because some kid who has no idea what being a race car driver is all about just won the biggest race in his sport.  This gem of a host made a comment that Trevor probably doesn’t even know how many wheels there are on a stock car, because he’s never raced but one time before.  No, I’m not talking about ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, either.  This was some guy who typically engages mouth before brain, and since in his mind, NASCAR isn’t a sport anyway, why waste the time to actually research a subject on which you are about to pontificate?

Those you who listen to sports talk radio can probably tell me some even better stories than the couple I’ve shared with you.  As a NASCAR fan, I take a little pride in listening to these experts on all things sports, and knowing that even I know more about my sport than they do, no matter how well connected they try to appear to be.  One host I listened to today made the usual comments about Trevor being a ‘novice racer’, but when a caller who actually was a fan called in and set the host straight on Trevor’s pedigree, the host quickly admitted that he doesn’t actually watch NASCAR, he just scans the headlines.  I give this guy his props, he admits when he knows he’s delved into an area that he really doesn’t know anything about.  Unfortunately, many taking radio heads won’t admit that they’re wrong about anything.

I suppose just to prove a real expert knows what he’s talking about, Trevor Bayne will have to change his last name to ‘Payne.’

Sunday, January 23, 2011

This Is Going To Be Fun

NASCAR has announced some new rules regarding the way things are done.  That’s NASCAR’s prerogative, of course, and for a change, it appears that they are doing things that will make fans happy.  What a wonderful concept.

First of all, the points rules appear to be changing once again.  Supposedly, the winner of a race will be rewarded more for winning, which is a concept unto it’s self.  Rather than repeatedly rewarding drivers for finishing in the top 10, the points will be more heavily favorable to the winner of the race.  What goes around comes around I guess.  Isn’t that the way it used to be?

There’s a shake up in the works that will effect the outcome of the Nationwide series as well.  Drivers now have to choose, on their license applications which series they are competing for a championship in.  I think that this will help keep the Cup guys from overshadowing the Nationwide guys.  I’d rather see someone like Jason Keller win a championship in Nationwide than somebody like Carl Edwards, or Kyle Busch.  Carl and Kyle play in the big leagues, and that’s where their efforts should be concentrated, as far as I’m concerned.  Let the full time Nationwide guys settle it among themselves.  I love that the Cup stars spice up the Nationwide series, but I’ve never been happy that they dominate it, at least as far as the championship goes.

Personally, I’m glad that NASCAR has made the changes they have, among other changes that I’m not even prepared to discuss here.  I’m glad that NASCAR is being proactive about their venture, to use a little business speak.  They need to keep trying to tweak the sport a little to attract more posteriors into seats, since they started playing with the format since the coronation of Brian France.  They’ve played with the system so much, they pretty much have to keep playing with things to keep the fans interested.  What’s most interesting, at least to me, is that the more NASCAR changes, the more it gets back to where it was a decade or more ago.

Just look at the cars.  The rear spoiler is back, and now there is no strange looking front splitter on the Cup cars for 2011.  NASCAR calls it something like a splitter without struts, but it’s basically an air dam, just like the old cars used to have.  I like the way the new cars look compared to the ridiculous wings and splitters that we used to watch.  The cars look way more like real cars to me.  I’m much more inclined to buy a die cast replica more than I have been since the advent of the COT, or Car Of Tomorrow.  Basically those cars were a bastardization of NASCAR’s original plan.  The acronym ’NASCAR’ stands for the National Association for Stock Car Automobile Racing.  What the heck was stock about that wing and splitter?  I know, we’ve gotten a long way from the original race cars, which were literally cars just off the dealer lots.  I still somewhat wish we could turn back time and go back to those days, but I’m afraid it’s a little too late to do that.  I grew up after those years though, and wish this stuff was closer to being as simple as it was back in the 1970’s.  Yeah, I know, when it comes to NASCAR, I’m a dinosaur.

On a side note, so much for my plan to write more in 2011.  I’ve recently been hired full time by a company I’ve worked for before, so time is a little short lately  You see, my basic problem is that I‘ve got to eat.  I‘d do this all day if I could afford to.  I promise I will do all I can to write as much as I can at night and on weekends.  My love for this sport in not diminished at all, and I plan to watch each and every single race this year, and for the rest of my life, for that matter.  As long as stock car racing exists, and I’m alive, I’ll be here.  You can rest assured of that.

By the way, there is a major redesign of this site coming up.  I had hoped to get it up by the end of the year, but I ran out of time on that.  I’m going to be making changes slowly through the rest of the winter, and hopefully by Daytona, I’ll have it fixed.  Thank you for your patience. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Life: Is it Unfair?

Yes it’s true.  We’re all going to die.  I hate to bring you this bad news, but it’s indeed true.

A few minutes ago on the local news, a local college professor said, and I quote, “Any parent who feeds their children meat is sentencing them to death!”

What kind of parent would sentence their children to death?  How horrible.  The Department of Social Services should step in and remove these poor children from the clutches of their murdering parents.  These parents should be sentenced to what?  Maybe death?  Does that sound about right?  Would death be too good for parents who willfully kill their children by feeding them meat?

I also recently heard on the radio an expert who said that every time you inhale second hand tobacco smoke, you’re shortening your life by 5 years.  Yep, he said it.  I have to argue with that one though.  If that were true, I should have been dead by age 4, unless I’m going to live to be 692 years old.  That’s only counting other people’s second hand smoke, much less my own.  Maybe I’m going to live a lot longer than 692, if the experts can be trusted.

On another radio station, a NFL type expert said that the only thing NASCAR accomplishes is killing people, both drivers and fans.  He said people get killed every year driving around in stupid circles, killing and maiming others as they go.  He told his audience that “untold numbers of fans die every year as the direct result of watching drivers going around in circles.”  I have news for you, buddy.  Untold numbers of people die every year from crossing the street to get in a cab or catch a bus.  A lot of people die when they slip on their steps.  Some people choke at restaurants eating salads too.

Every NASCAR driver, as well as any racing driver period, knows that every time he straps on that car or bike or boat or airplane, or whatever, that he or she might die.  That’s a given.  It’s always in the back of their minds.  They choose to take the risks anyway.  Some do it for the thrill of living on the edge.  Some do it for the money.  Some do it to become celebrities, whether it be on a worldwide basis, or just in their own communities.  There are as many reasons to race as there are potential racers.  I don’t know the exact stats, but I would guess there are anywhere between a few thousand to a few million people who wish they could sit in the driver’s seat that’s currently providing a place for the butt of their favorite driver to make a living in.

I’m not making fun of vegetarians here.  I have some very close relatives who don’t eat meat for religious reasons.  I can respect that.  Beliefs are beliefs, and they have theirs and I have mine.  I’m as likely to give up my beliefs as they are, so there’s no reason to contest our beliefs.  They are family, and I love them just as much as anyone else in my family.  I eat meat.  I like it.  To me, it’s protein that helps invigorate my body quickly, and I like the way most meat tastes.  Yes, I’m a steak and hamburger kind of guy.  I’ve never forced anyone to eat a hamburger.  I’ve tried to smoke alone or only around other people who smoke.  I don’t want nonsmokers to be violated.  I respect their wishes, and only hope they can respect mine as well.  That’s all I ask.

I have to laugh at people with PhD’s that try to scare people about how deadly life is though.  I mean, how deadly is life?  If you’re born, don’t you die?  Isn’t birth your one way trip to death?  As far as I know, the only person who once died who is still around is Jesus Christ, but that’s another religious thing, isn’t it?  That’s a matter of belief.  I suppose the belief that kids will die way early from eating meat is what?  A belief?

Kids get killed in traffic accidents every day.  Kids get killed by hitting curbs on their bikes.  Kids die.  That’s a fact.  I don’t know of anything sadder than hearing that a child died.  It’s not fair, it’s unjust, but so far, the human experiment has shown that sometimes kids die.  Sometimes.  One absolute is this:  All human beings die too.  It’s hard for many of you to imagine, but it’s true.  You’ll die one day.  So will I.  Whether it be from second hand smoke, eating meat, or turning stupid circles around a track, it will happen to each and every one of us one day.

In The Green Mile, a movie I would highly recommend if you haven’t already seen it, there is a quote.  “We all have a life to give.”  My theory about life is to give it all you’ve got.  It won’t last forever, no matter how much meat you don’t eat or how much smoke you don’t inhale.

Dysfunctional Families

Hola, and Happy Holidays here from snowy South Carolina.  Yes, we actually had a white Christmas, the first I’ve ever seen here.  The last one was a few months after I was born, but I didn’t live in this part of the state then, and wouldn’t have remembered it anyhow.

I, like probably some of you, am a fan of the Discovery - TLC series American Chopper.  The show first aired back in the early 2000’s, featuring a father and son team that built custom choppers.  Various theme bikes have often been the subject of the show.  The combined talents of Paul Tuetul Sr. and Paul Jr.  made them famous in the motorcycle industry, and Discovery Channel made them famous worldwide.  Both father and son have histories of substance abuse in their past, but overcame their problems to build a very successful motorcycle business in Orange County, New York, which is about 60 or so miles upstate from New York City.  The show was originally based on showing how custom motorcycles, literally works of art are fabricated basically from scratch.  Another factor soon overwhelmed the technical aspect of the show.  The Tuetul family squabbles and fusses among themselves, often heatedly, and sometimes treats the audience, as well as other shop employees to the spectacle of father and son smashing furniture, doors, windows, etc. in their moments of anger.  What started out being a typical reality series about motorcycle fabrication quickly became a real drama series, a reality soap opera if you will.

A couple of years, Paul Sr. fired Paul Jr., and ended up suing his son for a variety of reasons involving ownership issues of the company, which is called Orange County Choppers.  Paul Jr. struck out on his own, starting up a company called Paul Jr. Designs, and he now builds choppers practically next door to OCC’s original shop.

The former father and son team have not spoken to each other in about 2 years, at least as of the latest episode.  For those of you who have watched the show, you probably have your own opinions about the issues that the family faces.  I will share with you my opinion about the family fight.  I feel that though Paul Jr. has often acted as a bit of a diva on the show, his design prowess is what put OCC on the map.  Paul Sr. certainly had a lot to do with the company’s success, and is a fairly good designer himself.  Since Sr. and Jr. parted company, Paul Sr. has actively tried to sabotage his son’s budding business.  Paul Sr. has talked to various vendors of motorcycle parts and apparently has attempted to bully them into avoiding doing business with his son.  Paul Sr. keeps playing the part of the victim, but it is lately becoming disturbing to me to see the lengths a father will go to in order to see his son fail. 

Are the Tuetuls unique?  Not really.  Probably just about everyone who bothers to read this has experienced disagreements in their own families.  I know my family has had it’s share, though for the most part, my immediate family is rather close knit, and I’m very lucky in that way.  My father and me have certainly had our share of disagreements, but we managed to get over it, or at least I have.  My father is now on the other side of 85, and he needs more and more assistance from his children, no matter how independent minded he is.  With the recent loss of my mother, my brothers and sister worry about our dad a lot these days.  Regardless of any past disagreements, I hope that my dad and I never stop speaking to each other.  I can’t imagine not speaking to my father for months, or even weeks, and then hearing that he had passed away before I could talk to him.  Life is just too fleeting to hold a grudge, especially with a family member.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. could probably relate to this sort of thinking.  He and his father often argued and disagreed when Jr. was a teenager, and there is no doubt that Dale Earnhardt could be a difficult man to deal with at times.  Fortunately, before Dale passed away in 2001, Jr. and Sr. seemed to be getting along better than they ever had.  That peace of mind must mean a lot for Dale Jr.  Had he and his father been on the outs as of February 18, 2001, Jr.’s father’s death would have been even harder for him to deal with.

Happy New NASCAR Year

I hope all of you had a good Christmas.  I'm not wishing you happy holidays, because it was Christmas, darn it. 

Here's to a good 2011 season, and hoping that your favorite driver, no matter how lame he is, wins.  I hope we make a few new year resolutions soon, and my resolution list says:

1. I resolve to write more often.

2. I resolve to write even oftener.

Does this make sense?  I will do my best. The 2011 season is just around the corner, and I'm guessing it's going to be great.  During my time off, I've written some great stuff, and I hope to put some of it on here soon. 

Take Care!