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Danica and the Pole. [Updated ... And how about the race?]

She did very well indeed. Like everyone she felt out the new car, particularly for the first half of the race. Was alert to opportunities but sensibly conservative to her reaction to them. The lead offered itself and she claimed her place in history. (Janet Guthrie had led the 500 but under a yellow.) Perhaps Danica’s “rookiness” showed most in the pits but she made no mistakes—just maybe didn’t elbow hard enough coming out. Tony will tell her. It’s difficult out of that first pit to go from a dead stop to the speed you need to compete with cars approaching with momentum.)

So what happened that last lap? She earned third – had it at the white flag. Then the reason I don’t like Daytona and Talladega much is “circumstances” put their whimsical cat’s paw into it.

The cars in the lower lane got that last fraction of closeness and suddenly the hook-up went really operational. The same foot on the same pedal at the same pressure now meant a leap forward. That’s brilliance? No that’s circumstances. Were Dale jr. and Mark Martin suddenly more clever? Were the drivers in Danica’s lane suddenly inept? Why are they going backwards? The Daytona Circumstances!

And Little E, NASCAR’s favorite child of good-luck/bad-luck, takes a happenstance second. And Danica a perplexing 8th. But she took it well. Puzzled, annoyed just shy of damned-mad and her competitiveness unfazed. A new record for a woman is nice but not enough because that is not what it’s about.

Just remember, racing at the super-speedways has that coin-toss thing built in. (Consider: Jeff Gordon – in it all day—ended up 20th.

Back to my normally-scheduled post ...

So a woman driver, a punch line in jokes since the first carriage chugged down the road without a horse pulling it, turned in a faster time than anyone else that day thus winning the pole position in NASCAR’s biggest race of the year. Perversely, one that opens the season rather than closes it. She becomes the first woman ever to do that. Out of the scant handful, one might point out, who have been allowed to try.

Ah, let us search for deep meaning in this; everyone else seems to have.

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Splash/Dash. Make that: Nope/Hope.

[Published on The Detroit Bureau

Is it just me or are there more fuel management problems than usual in racing?

Take Chip Ganassi’s team at Indy’s 100th anniversary run. A one-two finish looked to be a lock with either Scott Dixon or Dario Franchitti crossing the line first. Dario had set fastest lap of the race; Scott the fastest lap while leading. Combined they were assured of having led more than half the race already. At worst, with the pair on different fuel strategies, Chip was confident that one or the other of his drivers would be guzzling milk in Victory Lane.

Then the one-two finish turned to five-twelve as the checker dropped. Thanks to bloody running low on gas!


Quotable ...

“I love any race car whose last name is ‘Special’.”
— Thomas McGriff

Classic CarsRacing

Racing, The Great Authenticator

[Published on The Detroit Bureau

Sam Mitani made a point in his May Road & Track column that resonated through me like a temple gong. I’ll get to that but first you’ll welcome some background. Trust me.

In the first running of the Indianapolis 500 in 1911 Ray Haroun strapped a mirror in his race car instead of toting the usual swivel-necked riding-mechanic to keep him informed on conditions to the rear. That rear-view mirror found its way into road cars and was about the only thing we could cite as argument that “racing improves the breed”.

Classic CarsRacingUSA

SO, here I go ...

I always have opinions, sometimes even insights. I find as the train picks up speed and the ties click by ever faster that more and more opinions keep elbowing their way into my ken. My once-a-month 500-600 word column in AutoWeek (a.k.a. A/W) isn’t space enough to express them. And thoughts, like a cutting bed of flowers, respond best to being clipped, bundled and shared.
Anyway I certainly hope so because my intention is to keep all the odd vases of this website filled with whatever I clip from that garden. End of metaphor. No wait – one more: likely some will be weeds but you are all capable of forgiving and coming back again armed with hope.
And some of my McBlogs I hope will contain some insights that will set heads nodding and replies clicking. That’s what keeps the word processor processing.
Mostly I’ll write about cars, those I like a lot and a few I can’t understand at all. (There’s a piece here about some cars I’ve driven lately – brief notes on brief encounters. Those quick takes will sometimes be followed up with more extended impressions. And impressions will be what they are. “New car reviews” with details of 0-60 and gear ratios and others technical matters are plentiful on the Internet. I have written some myself. And they’re easy to find. What you’ll find here is something not widely available—my personal take on what it’s like to drive these cars, which ones speak to me and which one’s put a question mark  in the balloon over my head. Not everyone gives a rodent’s posterior about “my take.” Nor do I expect them to put on their favorites list. But you? I’d be right pleased if you did.   

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Classic CarsNew CarsRacing

Keeping Your Cool In The Snow.

[Published on The Detroit Bureau

Thirteen Vermont winters and a class win in the Monte Carlo rally might lend me cred as a driver in snow. However, probably even more useful, and certainly more concentrated, are a number of sessions I had over the years at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs CO.

Learning to drive in conditions of limited traction is the most valuable experience for acquiring car control on any surface. Go take a day’s basic lesson on snow. Or if you’re already hot on the cold stuff stretch your skills with the session suitable for winter rally wannabes. Then treat yourself to a day on the welcoming slopes of Steamboat and make it a winter holiday for the books. Or Facebook.


Driving Tips!

PROBLEM: Winter’s short days mean that more people are driving when the sun is low on the horizon. The car’s sun visor is often inadequate to keep the dazzle out of your eyes.

SUGGESTION: Keep a baseball cap in the car and wear it while driving. Tilting and turning your head to keep the bill between you and the sun is a more flexible way than the rigid visor to keep from being dazzled by the glare.

SUGGESTION 2: Join the Racing Images of the Month Club and receive a MEMBER’S SUITE cap. Here’s how.



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