Tums Fast Relief 500 - October 30, 2011 - Martinsville Speedway

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Friday, May 28, 2010

NASCAR - Team or Individual Sport?

Almost a week after the clash between Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch during the All-Star race, the story is still a buzz in the media.  I’ve read numerous articles and blogs on the topic, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus on who was right or wrong in the situation.  Should Denny Hamlin have let Kyle past him since they are teammates? Is the All-Star race different and should all drivers look out for themselves?  There are no clear cut answers to these questions…if you ask 5 different people, you’ll probably get that many answers.

The most interesting question to me is…should NASCAR be treated as a team or individual sport?  With all the attention the driver gets, racing seems like an individual sport. But now that NASCAR allows owners to run more than one car, the sport has evolved into more of a team sport.  It’s a bit confusing because even though the drivers race as part of a larger team, at the end of the season, only one driver can be the champion, not the whole team like in most sports.  So should drivers race differently on the track when they’re around their own teammates?  Should they race less aggressively if it will benefit the team?  Or should they focus on their own success and the championship at the end of the season?   There are no concrete answers to these questions, and each driver probably views the sport a little differently….if they didn’t, clashes like we saw during the All-Star race and other races this season wouldn’t get nearly the media attention they do!

What do you think?  Share your thoughts with us – we’d love to hear them!

Until next time, happy racing!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

NASCAR Traditions

Traditions are good.  Family traditions can be even more special.

In my family we have traditions such as fresh seafood for Thanksgiving Dinner. Another is taking the ‘Tacky Light Tour’ during the Christmas holiday while we enjoy a thermos of hot chocolate and singing Christmas carols. Even a simple tradition of how we all say goodnight like the Walton's when we are fortunate enough to be sleeping under the same roof, is a family tradition I will always treasure.

The first year my husband and I dated we started our own special traditions.  Some we have preserved and continue today.  Some have changed, and others have become fond memories.

One tradition is the love of automobiles …. Corvettes especially!  My husband grew up around generations of Corvettes and was destined to own one in his lifetime.  He did one better - he purchased his second Vette when we first started dating. It was a beautiful black over black convertible that purred like a kitten - yeah, right!  Maybe with earplugs in!

As a proud owner of his new black Corvette, we joined the Black Sheep Squadron, an elite group of more than 1,100 members worldwide. Most members are located in the United States, but they also have members in Austria, Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and The Netherlands. Members pay no dues. You just have to own a Black Corvette to join.

This group of enthusiastic Corvette owners gets together several times a year in different locations across North America.  One of our first outings with more than a hundred of our new friends was to Daytona.  After a great lunch at one of the more popular restaurants, we headed to Daytona U.S.A. for a private tour and a little racing!  This included laps around the famous Daytona Speedway in our Corvette.  Well, our Corvette and the other 75 that showed up for the fun!

I have to say, I never really knew how steep the banking was in each of the turns until driving around the course that day.  Although our speed was contained by a pace car, the memory of all those Corvettes on the world’s most famous speedway is a sound and sight I will never forget.

Here are some photos from that day.

Meeting of the Vettes outside the track.

Ferrari club leaving the track as the Corvettes take over!

Gentlemen, start your engines!

Oh, and ….Ladies start your engines!

Birds eye view of turn 4.

Not a person in the grandstands that day, but from the level of noise the Corvettes made, you would have thought you were at the speedway in February for the Great American Race….the Daytona 500!

Nascar has its own traditions.  From kissing the bricks at Indianapolis to Richard Petty’s signature hat and sunglasses, to all-star racing in May and earning a stripe at Darlington. These traditions have become important as they connect the fans with the sport and remind us why we love Nascar.

A new tradition is under way with the opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina. The NASCAR Hall of Fame will induct the five members of its inaugural class May 23. I am fortunate to be a part of this highly-anticipated event.

So come back next week to read about my evening with some of the most respected founders of NASCAR.  I will post up-close pictures of the museum and the evening of the inauguration.  A dream comes true for me!

Until then….

Happy Racing!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dale Jr. To Reach Make-A-Wish Milestone at Charlotte

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation since 1999 and is now closing in on granting his 200th wish!  Here is some info from The Dale Jr. Foundation and the JR Nation about the events scheduled to commemorate this exciting milestone.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (April 22, 2010)

In specific terms, the wish is simple - meet Dale Earnhardt Jr., share a few laughs and stories, ask questions like "What is your favorite hobby?" or "What video games do you play?" and enjoy a NASCAR experience that on any other weekend would come through a television.

In broader terms, the wish is even simpler - escape reality.  And through the Make-A-Wish Foundation over the past decade, Earnhardt Jr. has helped kids diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions do just that by giving his time at the track each weekend with a Make-A-Wish family.

Earnhardt Jr. began his relationship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 1999 as a driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.  Now more than 10 years later, the seven-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is closing in on his 200th wish granted, a milestone shared by only a handful of America's top athletes.  Earnhardt Jr. will facilitate No. 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway during Sprint All-Star Race weekend.

"To meet these kids and families is a privilege, " Earnhardt Jr. said.  "A lot of times the Make-A-Wish meeting is the best part of the whole weekend. It's amazing that when you talk to the kids and learn about their lives, you learn a lot about yourself as well."

To commemorate Earnhardt Jr.'s 200th wish milestone, AMP Energy and the National Guard have donated the hood of the No. 88 Chevrolet to The Dale Jr. Foundation for the Sprint All-Star race on May 22.  The predominantly black paint scheme was designed by Earnhardt Jr., and it prominently features the logo of The Dale Jr. Foundation.

"I want to thank AMP Energy and the National Guard for donating the hood of the car, " Earnhardt Jr. said.  "It's their advertising space, they pay for it, and for the second year in a row they were gracious enough to give us prime location on the car and help bring exposure to my foundation and the charities we support, like Make-A-Wish. I think the fans will embrace the paint scheme and help us continue to grant wishes for kids dealing with these medical setbacks, whether it's sending them to Hawaii, hiking the Grand Canyon, or getting a computer to stay connected with their friends. Whatever they want, they should get."

In conjunction with the All-Star paint scheme, TDJF is ramping up fundraising initiatives and calling on fans to raise awareness and money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  The Dale Jr. Foundation will make a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina from its sale of the 2010 NASCAR Day pins, as well as from sales of the 1:25 scale die-casts and T-shirts of the All-Star paint scheme.

Additionally, The Dale Jr. Foundation is honoring the 200th wish celebration by hosting a special All-Star Race hospitality event exclusive to members of the JR Nation Crew, Earnhardt Jr.'s free-of-charge fan club. The hospitality is sponsored by Suave Men and AMP Energy and features a pre-race appearance by Earnhardt Jr. It also includes food, drink, pre-race pit tours, pre-race access to the Creed concert, race tickets in Grand National Tower, souvenir gift bag, and the opportunity to win raffl prizes. The package is valued at $400, but sold exclusively to JR Nation Crew members for $188. Proceeds from the ticket sales will benefit TDJF and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina.  To become a member of JR Nation totally free of charge, visit www.jrnation.com.

"This is a unique opportunity for fans to have an awesome All-Star race experience, see Dale Jr. up close and personal, and contribute to the Make-A-Wish Foundation," said Camille Thompson of The Dale Jr. Foundation. "We take pride in our direct line of communication with Dale Jr.'s fans, and this type of hospitality event was something that was well-received by fan club members. We've done this in the past, and Dale Jr. was fantastic in donating his time before the race to visit his fan club members. We look forward to another strong turn-out on May 22 for the All-Star race."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Darlington - Track Fast Facts

We’re gearing up for this weekend’s race in Darlington!  In anticipation of Saturday night’s race, here are some fun track facts about Darlington:

1.    Nicknames:
“The Track Too Tough To Tame” – rookie racers who hit the wall during the race are said to have earned their “Darlington Stripe”

“Lady In Black” – this nickname came about because the walls around the track are always painted white prior to a race, but are always mostly black by the end of the race because of all the tire contact during the race

“A NASCAR Tradition” - the track is often advertised using this phrase

2.    The track’s unique, somewhat egg-shaped design came about because of a minnow pond located near one end of the track – the owner refused to relocate when the track was built and the track builders promised not to disturb the pond.

3.    The shape of the track makes it challenging for the drivers and crews to setup their cars’ handling in a way that will be effective at both ends of the track since each end is a slightly different shape.

4.    The track is built on an old peanut and cotton field.

5.    In recent years, the track has been reconfigured – the old front stretch is now the back stretch and the turns have been renumbered as well.  Lights were also installed in 2003-2004 to facilitate night races to beat the daytime heat.

6.    Seating capacity for the track now sits at 65,000, but has always been limited by the location of a highway behind the back stretch of the track and the location of another pond (the original minnow pond no longer exists).

7.    Darlington has a legendary quality among drivers and older fans – it has a long history compared to other NASCAR speedways of its era.  Because of this, it’s also the track where many drivers first learned truly how fast stock cars could go on a long track.

Until next time, happy racing!