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!