Start Your Engines: Preseason

Start Your Engines: An Introduction and the First Look at Racing Season

2/14/13 in NASCAR   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blog Photo - Start Your Engines: PreseasonHello, and welcome to a new racing feature around here: Start Your Engines. This is a weekly, or at least close to it, roundtable discussion of all the big news in racing. This will mostly mean NASCAR, of course, but also IndyCar, Formula One, NHRA, and anything else that's causing people to talk in the world of motorsports.

Joining me are three of the Q's biggest race fans: Scott, Debi (JrCanuckFan), and Jen (JenX63). We will each alternate as the "leader" of the discussion, so to speak, while the rest of us chime in on the topics of week. We will look further into the NASCAR season and Daytona 500, but this week serves more as an introduction of where we're coming from as race fans, as well as some other odds and ends. What that, let's get to it.

What are your fan origins, so to speak? How did you become a race fan? Who are your favorite drivers past, and present?

Eric: As we all have known for some time now, I'm an IndyCar and open wheel guy. The origins of this for me actually come from an F1 racing game from the early 90s with Nigel Mansell on the cover. This led to me watching F1 races and thinking it was cool I could recognize people from the video game. I'm not just talking Mansell and Schumacher. I'm talking Erik Comas and Ukyo Katayama as well. Not long after, I realized there was a form of open wheel racing in America that didn't mean waking up at 7 am to watch. I was pretty hooked to start, and when Zanardi made The Pass I was hooked for life. I would have to be given I was essentially a child of The Split (the first Indy 500 I remember watching for beginning to end was 1995), and the sport hasn't exactly gotten more stable or popular in the years after.

My favorite driver is and will forever be Alex Zanardi. Currently, my two favorites and new KV Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Simona de Silvestro, although admittedly I like most of the current IndyCar paddock.

Debi: My origins??

Well, you only have to read any one of my profiles on any one of my fan sites to know that I grew up with racing. As a very young girl I used to ride with relatives (whoever was going) to races at the "InterValley Speedway" for stock car races.  My cousin ran a street stock car called the "Dill Pickle" number 53, painted Dill Pickle green. My dad taught me anything and everything I wanted to learn about motors as a young kid, and when we started to attend the races, my cousin invited me to the pits.  Without thinking, I offered to help change something in the car I was familiar with (for the life of me I don't remember what) and my "job" as a pit crew member was born. The guys were always talking about the "Big Boys" racing and their dreams, but it wasn't until 1989 that I actually watched a NASCAR race.  It was the Daytona 500 and "Jaws" won and did the Icky Shuffle in Victory Lane.  I was hooked.
 
That same year, I watched anything and everything racing I could find on TV.  I'd watched the Indy 500 with my dad in years past, loving 1985, when Danny Sullivan (swoon) had won it, and absolutely hating 1986, when Bobby Rahal won. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I dislike Rahal.  I'd really enjoyed Indy racing, but after the Daytona 500 I was totally hooked on racing in any form.  I've been that way ever since. 
 
In short, I love racing, pure and simple.

Jen: NHRA 3 day event in 1977/78, not sure which year. I got to see Shirley Muldowney and Big Daddy Don Garlits..it was very exciting to say the least. I then started going to the local race track on Saturday nights. Watching Dale Jarrett win the Daytona 500 in 93 while his dad called it  got me hooked for good on Nascar. Jarrett will always be my favorite Nascar driver, Pedregon brothers over in the NHRA, Tony, Kevin and Matt for current drivers in Nascar....in the Truck/Nationwide series, I always seem to pull for the underdog, but have no favorite to speak of.

Scott: My fan origins for auto racing in general go back to the mid 80's, when my uncle raced on the local dirt track in my home town.  Today, my brother in law is one of the best racers on the dirt track series in the Midwest and quite frequently you can find me watching him race on the weekends.  As for Nascar, it wasn't until the late 90's when I started to pay attention to the sport.  When fantasy nascar leagues and then FanIQ came along, I took it upon myself to study up even more on the sport and learn more about all the "quirks" that come with it.  I'm not going to lie, I may be a fish out of water on some of the things that will be discussed but I'll do my best to not sound like an idiot...LOL.  When it comes to Indy Car, I've always paid attention to the Indy 500 because IMO, it is the Super Bowl of auto racing.  Only recently though, have I gotten into more and more of the sport.

As for my favorite drivers, the local boys of Rusty Wallace and Ken Schrader will be always be near and dear to my heart.  I've met them both and they are both really good guys.  Currently, I like Carl Edwards...another local boy... and Matt Kenseth. 

Blog Photo - Start Your Engines: PreseasonContinuing with our race fan tendencies, what are the five races you'd most like to attend in person?

Eric:

1. Indianapolis 500 - I know I've been there, but Indy is always #1
2. 24 Hours of Le Mans

3. Any of the European F1 races, or Canada, Brazil, or Austin - Yeah, I couldn't choose just one
4. Any of the other current IndyCar ovals - Ditto
5. The night race at Bristol - I can't think of a better atmosphere for stock cars

Debi:

1.  Indianapolis 500 OF COURSE!!! It is on my "Bucket List" of things I MUST do before I die.  I've had a couple of opportunities throughout the years, but honestly, my kids have been my priority for going on 20 years, and I refused to be one of those "oh my parents/friends/relatives/whoever can watch the kids while I gallivant off to explore the world" parents.  Luckily the youngest will be 15 this year, so the possibility of it happening sooner rather than later is looking gooooooood!
 
2.  I really want to attend one of the 24 hour races, but I think the Rolex 24 at Daytona is the one I'd attend first, just because of the Daytona thing.  Le Mans? I'm sorry, but it just doesn't hold the same attraction.
 
3.  Oh, I definitely want to attend an F1 race, but honestly, I couldn't choose which one.  I think I'd want to attend one that is the absolute furthest from home I could possibly get, probably Australia.  A close friend attended the Montreal race years ago and was so disappointed (he couldn't see squat and paid big money to see......squat). I want to be as far away from home as possible, so if the race is disappointing I will have the rest of the experience to remember.
 
4.  Pocono.  I know.  #weirdestracingfanintheworld  I LOVE Pocono and I really want to go there.  I want to do one of those trips where I can see the NASCAR Pocono Race, and the IndyCar Pocono race.  Yep.  I'm definitely weird like that.
 
5.  F***AWESOME!  Another of those races on the Bucket List.  I wanna see my sis, my friends, my driver and the race track.  I just want to experience the whole thing.
 
Jen: Races I would like to attend in person:

1. Daytona 500
2. Watkins Glen
3. Agree with the night race at Bristol
4. Pocono
5. Dover

Scott:

1. Indianapolis 500
2. Daytona 500

3. Any race at Bristol
4. Talladega
5. Any road race for either Indy Car or Nascar

Now that you know more about us, turn the page for the first look of the 2013 racing season.



Blog Photo - Start Your Engines: PreseasonWe'll preview the Daytona 500 more in-depth next week, but what are you looking for in the early part of Speedweeks?

Eric: The further development of the new car would be first, my continuing concern about pack racing second, trying to figure out what the heck the Bud Shootout or whatever is called now works third, and Danica and Stenhouse 490th.

Debi: I definitely want to see the car in race form.  We've see it at testing, but in race trim, under race conditions, we all know the circumstances change.  It appears the two car tango is gone (thank God) and we will have pack racing again, which can be entertaining, IF we get some decent coverage on TV.  The problem is that they seem to show too many looooooong shots to get a lot of the cars in the shot.  From far away you just don't see how dicey it can be.  If FOX can give us some great on track racing shots we do get to see how close the racing is. Everyone says it is boring, but try being a driver, in that car.  Show us more of that and we will be entertained, I guarantee it. 

Eric, the format for the shootouts and the overall qualifying procedure for the Daytona 500 would take this entire column to explain.  Just know when it gets to the actual 500 we will have the best of the best starting up front. They may choose not to stay there, but they will start there.
 
And Danica who??

Jen: I am curious about the changes to the cars. It is now called the "Sprint Unlimited"....Nascar is trying to get the fans more involved (ugh) and I say that because I know there is going to be some stupidity. Nascar should of left it alone.

Scott: Outside of what Eric has said...minus Danica and Ricky....I'm interested in seeing how Matt Kenseth copes with his new ride and how Kevin Harvick fares in what could be his last year with RCR. 

Debi: It is definitely Kevin's last year at RCR. It has also been confirmed that he will be with Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. I think he will be left out of the mix somewhat at RCR

Finally (for this week), is there any other more "under the radar" news that you would like to discuss?


Eric: Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time is asking for government money, specifically $100 million of current state taxes to pay for improvements, which many are speculating mean lights. I'm very much against the use of public money for sports facilities, and I always admired IMS for never taking any public money, and building such a gorgeous place (albeit one showing its age) without it. It's not surprising given the way things are run now at IMS, but it's still saddening to see.

Debi: I'm torn in the IMS thing, because I believe lights would be a huge benefit to the speedway, but I agree that it is very sad they are having to appeal to the taxpayers to do so.

For some reason, I have a suspicion that substance abuse is going to be a bigger issue this year than it has in the past.  I'm not sure exactly WHY I feel that, I just do.  I sure hope I'm wrong, but I've read a few things here and there that have me wondering.  
 
I've become a lot more interested in NHRA in the past year.  I used to follow it almost religiously back when the events were on TBS, but we don't get to see much of it.  I'm hoping that will change as we seem to be getting more coverage of more motorsports again.  Oh joy, just what I need, another form of racing to follow.  NHRA has a LOT of women competing though, and most of those women are beautiful, so I can definitely see that sport gaining in popularity, even as DP becomes just another driver.

Jen: I only know about because you mentioned Eric. Really don't know how I feel about it. Would ticket prices be cut? Would any amenities be offered to the fans? Those things would make me lean towards it's ok, but really...hmmm, maybe not.

I am wondering if anyone else heard about Hass/Stewart Racing and some kind of "test" car for this year. I have been looking for the article and have not located it yet.....I know everyone has new cars, but this was something different or I read into it, something that wasn't there. 
 
Scary/Eerie, I am with Debi on the "bad" feeling about drug use....I think it has been going on for awhile, only now folks are getting caught and penalized.....

Eric: Debi, yeah, NHRA is always a good show on Sunday nights. The one negative is Paul Page won't be commentating anymore, and in fact is currently out of a job anywhere in racing.

Jen, I doubt ticket prices would be cut (although I think prices for the 500 are reasonable). All the rumors are is that IMS wants lights for the Brickyard 400. I'm pretty agnostic about it. It could be nice if there's rain in the afternoon on 500 day. What I don't want is a night start for the 500.

Thanks guys for your input, and thanks to all of you for reading. What are your thoughts as the 2013 racing season gets set to begin in earnest. See you next week for another edition of Start Your Engines.
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2/17/13   |   kramer   |   11003 respect

Debi_L wrote:
LOL thanks Bryan.  It's more of an experience, I think, than the actual race.  I'd want a motorhome with satellite TV so I could watch most of the race from there. ;)

Fair enough, in that case I guess the view doesn't matter.wink

2/17/13   |   Debi_L   |   11281 respect

kramer wrote:
After tonight's Busch Clash/Bud Shootout/Whatchamacalit, I'd say the cars handle about the same as the "car of tomorrow" did, evidenced by Tony Stewart trying to wreck himself twice and not.  That said, however, Daytona isn't exactly the best test.  We'll all get a better sense of how the new car races when they start going to the other tracks.

Debi, you don't want to go to Pocono.  The only seats are on the front stretch and I've been told by several people who have gone to a race there that the view sucks.  Because of the track's shape, it juts out so far that you can't see anything but the front stretch.

LOL thanks Bryan.  It's more of an experience, I think, than the actual race.  I'd want a motorhome with satellite TV so I could watch most of the race from there. ;)

2/17/13   |   kramer   |   11003 respect

After tonight's Busch Clash/Bud Shootout/Whatchamacalit, I'd say the cars handle about the same as the "car of tomorrow" did, evidenced by Tony Stewart trying to wreck himself twice and not.  That said, however, Daytona isn't exactly the best test.  We'll all get a better sense of how the new car races when they start going to the other tracks.

Debi, you don't want to go to Pocono.  The only seats are on the front stretch and I've been told by several people who have gone to a race there that the view sucks.  Because of the track's shape, it juts out so far that you can't see anything but the front stretch.

2/16/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blame me for not steering things towards the new car. I'm sure it will get more play in next week's edition, once it's been seen in race conditions. For the record, saying we're not "door to door race lovers," that's accurate in regards to me, but probably not for my co-writers.

2/16/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

The level playing field brought us the COT and template racing... The new cars will have more of a stock look up front and a smaller spoiler.... It looks like they got rid of the spoiler...The drivers don;t know what these cars can do.. But 200 mph at Daytona is a possibility.....

The Lowes will be yellow for tonights race....The cars tonight are not last years cars bt the new Gen6.. So there may be some interesting racing .. Especially if Kennseth listens to his spotters and doesn't take out half the bunched up field...

It does appear that tandem racing may be a thing of the past based on the new rear bumpers... So bump drafting attempts may spin these guys out.. Watch for JR to forget that!!!!

2/15/13   |   JenX63   |   31548 respect

Viewer alert. If you are looking for something to watch Monday evening about 8ish. Richard Petty Special on Speed! yesheart

2/15/13   |   JenX63   |   31548 respect

orangemen90 wrote:
To be honest I am a mathematician not a writer... i would only write what is written someplace else...Bt what is interesting is the change for the COT template to the Gen6 template... Why Nascar did this and what they would accomplish or hope too.. 

They successfully chased off millions of fans the past decade and they will never return... ole DW was a fan favorite. Now we have a Patrick soap opera...That ain't gonna work....

Lets have a good season and see what tandom racing will be like this weekend...

I'm horrible at Math and I write as if I am having a conversation with someone, which sometimes means I make no sense, but, what can I do?

Nascar in all of it's (little) wisdom, is trying to bring the cars on a more level field across the board. Which in my mind, takes it farther from it's roots. They went from the cars all looking alike to bringing some features of the individual models back. They have been quite wishy washy with quite a few things in the last few years, I agree with you about the fans. Patrick was not so much in the news last year, and if she was I did not notice, because I stayed away from where she might be, ie: Nationwide.
I am not sure I would have to check, but either the fans or drivers or both wanted a car that could draft without having the huge wrecks. From all that I have seen and heard so far, the new car does not draft well, which will make racing on the super speedways difficult. 
I am waiting for the first race and maybe it will take a few more to see how the cars run, then I might have another or the same opinion.

2/15/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

To be honest I am a mathematician not a writer... i would only write what is written someplace else...Bt what is interesting is the change for the COT template to the Gen6 template... Why Nascar did this and what they would accomplish or hope too.. 

They successfully chased off millions of fans the past decade and they will never return... ole DW was a fan favorite. Now we have a Patrick soap opera...That ain't gonna work....

Lets have a good season and see what tandom racing will be like this weekend...

2/14/13   |   JenX63   |   31548 respect

"A discussion on the new Nascar Gen6 would be appropriate."

This is exactly what we are looking/asking for. If you are a fan of the sport, give us any/all suggestions you have. I didn't see a favorite driver/type of racing on your profile.

In the past, there have only been a handful of people that talk racing and I know personally, i would love to have more folks chime in.

What exactly are you wanting to know about the Gen6 car?

2/14/13   |   Debi_L   |   11281 respect

orangemen90 wrote:
A discussion on the new Nascar Gen6 would be appropriate..... But you both are not door handle to door handle race lovers....Nascar is much more than lights and who Danica is sleeping with ot on this case not sleeping with.,,Nasca is the heart beat of America and it has lost that.. and until it finds that it will never  be to the point it wants to be....
Paul Page just retired or was retired,.... ESPN keeps some pretty bad announcers.. see Brent Mus......

thanks for the column...

Who are you referring to when you say "both"?  There are four people participating in this round table discussion.  It appears to me that we are all pretty serious fans, and I'm not sure what you mean by we aren't door handle to door handle race lovers.  My collection of collectibles and the amount of time I've spent at local racetracks, and the number of TV hours I've logged watching anything NASCAR related  lead me to believe I'm pretty serious.

Not one of us cares about Danica Patrick, her love life (or her minimal talent).

I believe that NASCAR is trying to bring those life long fans back to the sport.  Yes, we acknowledge they were trying to target new fans - that was abundantly clear by the "lessons" we have been subjected to during broadcasts.  But losing the long time fans at the cost of newer fans, who may not be spend the money the lifers would is not what they wanted.  I believe the Gen6 car is a step NASCAR is taking to bring back those fans who quit watching because the COT was butt ugly and drove like a tank.

I don't know if it will do any good, but I believe they are trying.

2/14/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

A discussion on the new Nascar Gen6 would be appropriate..... But you both are not door handle to door handle race lovers....Nascar is much more than lights and who Danica is sleeping with ot on this case not sleeping with.,,Nasca is the heart beat of America and it has lost that.. and until it finds that it will never  be to the point it wants to be....
Paul Page just retired or was retired,.... ESPN keeps some pretty bad announcers.. see Brent Mus......

thanks for the column...