Monday, August 31, 2009

Georgia on my mind.

Heading to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams race under the lights Saturday and Sunday. Couldn't imagine a better way to spend a Labor Day weekend! I've been itching to get back to the track since May, and it's finally here! I'll be at the track all day Saturday, and will be Tweeting & updating as much as I can, with qualfying for both series, practice and the Degree V12 300 on the schedule, I'm counting on a day full of action!

But, if your idea of a great Labor Day weekend isn't quite as fastpaced as mine, if you'd rather hit the links, take a leisurely Sunday morning stroll, or ride your two wheeler instead of watching other people drive on four, Atlanta is still the place to be this weekend. You can do all of these things while helping some really great causes!

On Friday, join Reed Sorenson, Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, Juan Pablo Montoya, Rutledge Wood,Bob Dilner and Larry McRenyolds and others at the Eagle's Landing Country Club in Stockbridge, GA for the Reed Sorenson Charity Golf Tournament.

The Reed Sorenson Charity Golf Tournament presented by will kick off the Pep Boys Auto 500 Sprint Cup race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway and will also begin a weekend of charitable fundraising events benefiting Speedway Children’s Charities.

Registration begins at 10:00 a.m. and will be followed by a shotgun start at noon. Entry for individual players starts at $250.00 and foursomes begin at $800.00. Sponsorship opportunities are also available by contacting Birindelli at

A box lunch will be provided and a rewards reception, silent auction, dinner and entertainment will follow the conclusion of play.

Saturday morning, hop on your motorcycle and ride to the track with your fellow race fans:

Presented by Thunder Roads magazine and starting at Motorheads in McDonough, motorcycle enthusiasts can participate in a motorcycle ride benefitting Speedway Children’s Charities and get admission to the Degree V12 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. On Saturday, Sept. 5 at 11:00am/et. The event costs $40 for one rider or $60 for two riders and includes admission to Nationwide and Sprint Cup practice, Nationwide and Sprint Cup Qualifying and the Degree V12 300. More info at

and finally, Sunday morning, take a walk around the "Fastest Track in NASCAR" with Speedway Children's Charities, Motor Racing Outreach and NASCAR stars David Ragan, Joey Logano and Robbie Loomis.
This is your chance to experience racing from a whole new angle and help MRO and children's organizations throughout the Atlanta area. Pre-register at through August 28th and save $10. At track registration is $35. Children under 16 are free!

Trackside registration begins Saturday, September 5th for $35 per person. All participants must sign a waiver to receive an armband to walk on the track. You do not have to have a ticket to the Pep Boys Auto 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race to participate in the track walk.

2009 Track Walk participants can pick up their wristbands, t-shirts and sign waivers during the following times at the yellow registration tent located next to the Speedway Children's Charities Rig located in souvenir row by Gate 13:
Saturday, Sep. 5 from 9:00 a.m. till 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, Sep. 6 from 9:00 a.m. till 11:00 a.m.

Please note: Participants must pick up wristbands, t-shirts and sign waivers before 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 6.

*Children 18 and under must have a legal guardian present to sign waiver form

This event will occur rain or shine. Cancellation will occur only due to extreme circumstances, in which case there will be no refunds. Starting time may be affected by inclement weather or other circumstances.

More info at

Great times for a great cause! Get out and participate!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Writer's Night At Victory Junction

What a cool opportunity to support the Victory Junction Gang Camp, and hear some incredibly talented people! An easy drive from Martinsville, VA, so head down after the truck race!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Making the Montreal Nationwide race more interesting..

Ladies, if you need a reason to tune into the NAPA Auto Parts 200 next weekend, here is!

Stock-Car Montréal announced that Quebec driver Alex Tagliani will run in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race scheduled August 29-30 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Parc Jean-Drapeau. The veteran racer from Lachenaie, Quebec is entered in the NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented by Dodge to drive the #81 Dodge owned by Canadian Randy MacDonald. The Quebec Dodge Dealer Association is sponsoring Tagliani for the Montreal race.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sponsors, are you getting your dollar's worth?

I came across this release today, as I was considering where to start on my study of sponsorship effectiveness.

FanLab Wades Through the Clutter of NASCAR Sponsorship
Atlanta, GA (July 27, 2009)– The phrase “win on Sunday,
sell on Monday” has been associated with NASCAR for decades, with
high-profile brands spending millions of dollars to associate themselves
with the most successful drivers and teams on the track.

However, a new study by sponsorship measurement firm FanLab reveals that on-track success does not necessarily result in top-of-mind awareness among NASCAR fans.
“During the 2006-2008 seasons, the Lowe’s sponsored team won three straight championships and 22 out of the 108 races, yet our study shows that Home Depot has higher top-of-mind consumer awareness despite winning less than half the amount of races,” explains Brian Evans, co-founder of FanLab.Furthermore, FanLab’s study shows that several companies spending millions of dollars in NASCAR, including Dewalt, Toyota, Ford, 3M and Red Bull, struggle to connect with fans on basic,
top-of-mind awareness measures.
Among sponsoring manufacturers, only Chevrolet placed in
the top 25 mentions— four percent of fans mentioned Chevy
when prompted for NASCAR sponsors, compared to 11 percent for title sponsor Sprint and 23 percent for team sponsor Home Depot.“Our findings show that fans don’t view the auto manufacturers as ‘sponsors,’” continued Evans. “While fans know that they are involved in and contribute to the sport, they don’t think of manufacturers the same way as they think of team sponsors like Budweiser or M&M’s.” The sponsorship study was conducted in June 2009 and included a
national random sample of 1044 consumers.

Participants were recruited through an online panel, and were asked first about top-of-mind sponsors of NASCAR and then about their interest level in NASCAR and other professional sports. Time in the sport, personality of the driver, activation by the sponsor and other factors all play a role in a brand’s connection to NASCAR. For example, sponsors like Tide and Viagra that have been out of NASCAR for several
years were frequently referenced by fans.“Many sponsors rely on
media exposure and awareness metrics like these to evaluate the success of their sponsorship. But these metrics tell us little about whether the
sponsorship is changing the way fans think, feel and act toward the brand,” says Evans. “If you want to know what brand is king in NASCAR, do an awareness study. If you want to know whether your sponsorship is paying dividends, you must dig deeper. We have looked at sponsors with low awareness levels, but found significant returns on their investment.”

Find more at

I think the idea that Tide and Viagra are still so entwined into the minds of even casual NASCAR fans says a lot about the quality of their efforts when it came to sponsorship activation. Will Extenze, Kevin Conway's sponsor that he promotes in numerous completely inappropriate commercials shown numerous times during most Nationwide Series broadcasts that most fans have tried hard to erase from their memories, be thought of as anything but the company that had the unfortunate commercials played over and over in years to come? Not likely.

Also noteable, I think, in the study is the success the Home Depot has found in propping themselves ahead of Lowes when their ontrack success hasn't merited the same results. Aside from economy, this alone should answer the question of why Lowes has chosen to opt out of their long-standing sponsorship of the Concord, NC track.

What do you think? Are you a brand-loyal NASCAR fan? What companies do you most closely relate to the sport? What companies should step up their efforts?

Think you've got what it takes to design a NASCAR race program?

Here's your chance!
Las Vegas Motor Speedway wants to give you the chance to show off what you've got! If only I had any creative ability at all, I'd be all over this! Get on it, my talented friends!
Las Vegas Motor Speedway is inviting all artists, designers, photographers and race fans to enter a contest to design the cover of the Las Vegas 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Race souvenir program. The contest will run from Aug. 1-Sept. 1 and the winning entry will become the cover of the souvenir program for the Saturday, Sept. 26 event.
The winning contestant also will be a VIP guest of LVMS and will receive four suite and Neon Garage passes for the Las Vegas 350 and will be photographed with the race winner in victory lane.
Contestants must submit a high-resolution 8 ½" x 11" vertical (a.k.a. "portrait") color or black-and-white design by Sept. 1. Artwork must depict themes pertaining to Las Vegas and racing. Open to any medium, including, photography, drawings and paintings. If you incorporate photographic images in your design, you must certify they are yours or you have the photographer's rights to use them.
All entries will become property of Las Vegas Motor Speedway and cannot be returned. The winning entry will be used in the promotion of the event.

Please submit all electronic entries to: Aubrey Hall, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 7000 Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89115. Entries also may be e-mailed to Please include your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address.
Tickets for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Las Vegas 350 are on sale and may be purchased by calling (800) 644-4444 or online at

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Think Pink for Marcy Scott!

I was so saddened to read this morning that Marcy Scott has been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Before moving on to become the current Marketing and PR Director at Atlanta Motor Speedway, she worked for Scott Wimmer at Bill Davis Racing, and she always has been so friendly, and such a joy to talk with!

A benefit will be held in her honor on August 8th and the organizers are seeking donations for the event.In addition to her daily responsibilities, Ms. Scott meticulously organizes media operations for two NASCAR races each season.
“Think Pink” is an event planned for Saturday, August 8th at Opera in Midtown Atlanta from 7:00pm-10:00pm. They will have a raffle, a “mini” fashion show for the best pink outfits, pink cocktails and pink hors d’oeuvres.The biggest portion of the fundraising efforts will be the silent auction.
They are currently seeking donations in that regard. For example, signed memorabilia would be a great auction item. The deadline for submitting auction items is Monday, August 3rd, 2009.This would be a great opportunity to give your organization exposure and help to raise money for a very worthy cause. They would like to make it clear that they are first raising money to help Ms. Scott offset her out-of-pocket medical expenses and any amount over and above that she is donating to a cancer-oriented non-profit organization.Please contact them with any questions or concerns you might have or if you would like invitations sent to your organizations.
Contact event organizers Corey Anderson or Michelle Dauble through their event email:
Follow the event here:
You can follow Marcy's story here:
This is such a great opportunity for such a great lady! Please get involved, if you can!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

X marks the spot!

X Games 15 officially kick off today! You follow alll the action in (pretty close to)real time here..
And, if you're lucky enough to be in the LA area, there are still tickets available for nearly all the events!
The X games always fascinate me, because to be quite honest, they give a glimse into sports I usually don't follow (those of the non-motorized variety, at least).The dedication and passion these athletes show really can't be matched by any stick-and-ball sport around....and the competition is always intense! Love it!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Third time the charm?

-Jimmie Johnson won the 16th running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, holding off his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and pole sitter, Mark Martin. It was his 3rd win at the historic track in four years, bringing Hendrick's total to 7 (four from teammate Jeff Gordon!) His win helped him edge Gordon into the second spot in points, 192 behind Tony Stewart.
- As promised by many NASCAR officials and drivers (especially Gordon), tires proved not to be an issue, although the race wasn't without controversy. Juan Pablo Montoya, who started P2, clearly was the dominant car throughout the entire race, until he was nabbed for speeding down pit row on the final cycle of green flag pit stops, .1 mph over the maximum. After being out front all day, Montoya struggled in traffic, finishing a disappointing 11th. Having been very vocal pre-race about how he was "points racing" and wouldn't press an issue that would knock him out of contention to make the Chase, the only bright spot for the team has to be that he finished 3 spots ahead of where his team has estimated they need to finish in the races leading up to the Richmond cut off to secure their spot, regardless of where everyone else finishes.
-I usually don't agree with most of the fashion choices Chandra Johnson makes, but she looked totally fashionista-y today. I can't decide what I like more, the shoes or the belt, but overall, Jimmie wasn't the only winner in their family today, in my opinion.
Across the city, at O'Reilly Raceway Park, Friday night and Saturday night, the Camping World Truck series and the Nationwide Series drivers put on the best two shows of the weekend, by far.
- Friday night, Ron Hornaday broke a long-standing Truck Series record, becoming the only driver in the history of the series to win 4 races in a row! As competitive as the Truck Series is, winning 4 races throughout the season is a huge accomplishment, but winning them in a row is outstanding. Congrats to Horn and his entire KHI 33 team.
- In doing so, he extended his points lead to 174 over the second place finisher Mike Skinner, who jumped past Matt Crafton who had a disappointing night, finishing 16th after struggling from the green flag to get a handle on his truck.
- Congrats also to Aric Almirola and Dennis Setzer who both had great runs through the field after pitting late to take on new tires to find themselves in the top 5.
-Pole sitter Colin Braun rounded out the top 5!
-Caitlin Shaw made her Truck Series debut Friday night for Red Horse Racing, finishing a respectable 24th at a track that has proven tricky time and time again for even the most seasoned veteran. We hope to see her again on track soon!
- It'd be a mistake to not mention that Johnny Benson had a successful surgery on 7/20, and is expected to begin physical therapy this week! For those JB fans wanting to send get well cards to Johnny as he recuperates you may send them to: JBFC - PO Box 150619, Grand Rapids, MI 49515.
With Cup Series qualifying held (and delayed) on Saturday at IMS, the double-duty drivers were forced to start in the back of the field Saturday night, but it didn't take long for Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, or David Reutimann to find their way to the front once the race was underway. And as what has seemingly become the story of the season, the race for the lead became a two man show between the two title contenders.
Edwards was able to outrun Busch in the end, scoring his second win of the season, but with Busch's substantial lead, he barely made a dent in the championship run.
-With the Cup drivers away, the qualifying session gave the Nationwide drivers an opportunity to shine, and Trevor Bayne took full advantage, capturing the pole, and leading the opening laps until the caution flew for a spin by Michael Annett and the over-eager pace car driver darted onto the track. Bayne checked up to avoid passing the pace car ( a big no-no) and was spun by Steven Wallace. Although the field is supposed to be frozen at the time of caution, and although the pace-car driver was at fault, both drivers lost track position, but both battled back to respectable top 10 finishes.
-Props to Scott Wimmer, driving for JR Motorsports in the #5 Fastenal Chevy, who led early and often as well, before losing the handling on the car as the sun went down. With his top 10 finish, though, he climbed up to 16th in the standings after running in only 17 races of 20, the majority with the underfunded Key Motorsports 40 team. At Richmond this spring, he mentioned that the team has only 5 fulltime employees aside from himself, so to be as competitive as he's been many times this season is an accomplishment. Saturday night, Aric Almirola followed up his CWTS 3rd place run with 14th place finish filling in for Wimmer.
Why am I mentioning this? The 40 team is unsponsored for the Iowa race this coming weekend.
As hard as they work, and as much as they do with so little compared to the larger teams, I'm sure putting your logo on their hood would be well worth it.
SPONSORSHIP UPDATE – For the first time since February, Key Motorsports heads into next weekend’s race at Iowa Speedway without a primary sponsor for the No. 40. If you are interested in more information regarding sponsoring Key Motorsports, please call (704) 663-1670.
Update: Sorry, I'm a doofus, Wimmer actually will again be in the 5, and Almirola will be in the 40, but it's stil a great opportunity!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Who's your MPD?

Voting for the 2009 Most Popular Driver Award for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opened today, and will continue through October 31st.

You can vote daily for your driver, and the award will be presented at the championship banquet in November.

Vote early, Vote often!

(and if you don't have a favorite Truck driver...well, there are some...not-so-subtle hints as to who I think you should vote for. So do it!)

Monday, June 22, 2009

What goes around comes around, right? and Other notes from the weekend.

-Apparently not entirely.

I know I've probably exhausted all of my energies (and your nerves) with my opinions of Joey Logano following the January running of the Camping World East/West Series Toyota All Star Showdown, where, on the last lap, Logano retaliated against Peyton Sellers' pass for the lead, sending him into the wall in turn four, just feet from the checkered flag (and from the biggest celebration of Sellers' career.).

Logano argued that the move was unintentional, and many compared it to a similar bonzai pass Carl Edwards tried (but failed) on Jimmie Johnson at Kansas Speedway last fall, but NASCAR wasn't up for Logano's games, and penalized him by disqualifying his efforts, placing him 40th in the 40 car field and handed the win to the second car to cross the S/F line, 2008 East Series Champion (and all around good guy) Matt Kobyluck.
But, that was January, so why am I bringing it up?

This Saturday at Infineon Raceway, the Camping World West Series took to the track, with now Cup Series regular Logano, again in a Joe Gibbs Racing entry, joining in the fun.
As the laps ticked off, it became the Logano/Patrick Long show at the front of the field, with the duo leading 57 of the races 64 laps. On the final lap in turn 11, Long spun Logano from the lead, which Long held on to for the remaining distance to the checkers, and the length of time it took NASCAR to decide the contact was intentional and to assess the penalty. Long was pushed back to 23rd, the last on the lead lap, Logano was 17th, and Long's teammate Jason Bowles was declared to victor.
I'm never disappointed to see Bowles in victory lane, and NASCAR needs these rules in place to keep the drivers from punting each other out of the way to keep the series from becoming bumper cars instead of the leading developmental series for the Big 3, so I won't for a minute argue that Long's penalty was unnecessary. And since Long isn't a series regular, his placement won't have any impact on his points standings, much like Logano's penalty in the All Star Showdown, a non-points paying event, didn't have any impact on him points-wise. Where I find fault in the ruling is in this: NASCAR set a precedence in January by penalizing Logano so severely, which had many shaking their heads, as rough driving has always incurred, if after the event, as the last car on the lead lap. So why was Long given just a slap on the wrist in comparison?
Guess what's good for the goose isn't good for the gander this time. Sorry, Joey.

-Ron Hornaday won the rain delayed Copart 200 Saturday afternoon at the Milwaukee Mile driving the Kevin Harvick Inc 33 Copart Silverado. With the victory, on his 51st birthday, nonetheless, Hornaday takes over the points lead from fellow Chevy driver Matt Crafton, leading him by 36 markers heading into Memphis this Saturday. Don't know for sure what other presents Ron got on Saturday, but this was probably his favorite.

- Carl Edwards made the trek from Wine Country to Beer Country worth it Saturday evening, coming from the back of the pack due to the driver change, to take the win in the 250, also at the Milwaukee Mile. Major props and a shoutout to Colin Braun, Roush's Truck series driver, who dialed in and qualified the 60 Save-A-Lot Ford before turning over the reigns to Edwards an hour before race time.
An additional shoutout to Roush's other two drivers in the field, rookies Erik Darnell, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr, who put on one heck of a show, and finished 4th and 5th respectfully. If only Roush can be that dominant in the coming weeks, and not have Kyle Busch finish 2nd, we might actually have a battle for the championship on our hands.

-Speaking of the Roush Nationwide teams, Edwards plans to drive full time yet again in 2010, and Roush plans to promote Braun to the series, as according to Geoff Smith, president of Roush Racing, they've been losing money in the truck series and have only dedicated to this season because of their commitment to Braun and sponsor Con-Way Freight. Stenhouse and Braun expected to compete, at least on a limited schedule in 2010, although the details haven't been made clear. Not sure what that means for Darnell, as his name was decidedly left out of the article, but hope it was an oversight on the reporter and/or Smith's part, and not a sign of Darnell's limited future with Roush. We've spoken with Erik numerous times, and he's a genuinely nice person, not to mention a very talented racecar driver, and I'd hate to see him face the same fate as former Roush drivers Todd Kluever and Danny O'Quinn.

- Kasey Kahne won the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway in an impressive fashion, holding off charges from two of the best road racers on the circuit, Tony Stewart and Marcos Ambrose despite numerous opportunities for the two to take advantage of the new double-filed restarts. Kahne's previous best roadcourse finish had been 14th at Watkins Glen International, and each of his previous attempts at Infenion had resulted in finishes outside the top 20.

-The win was also the first for the newly minted Richard Petty Motorsports, and if there's anything better than seeing The King back in victory lane, I can't think of one. The team has a lot to celebrate, as Kahne was the first of 3 RPM drivers who left Sonoma, CA with a top 10. After struggling for a large part of the season, with the four teams having combined for only 11 top 10s in 16 outings, the team is probably looking forward to Watkins Glen more than any other team on the circuit. AJ Allmendinger and his 44 Best Buy came home a respectable 6th, and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top 10 in his 19 Stanley Tools Dodge.

-As the Camping World Truck, Nationwide and Sprint Cup teams head to Memphis and New Hampshire this weekend, our thoughts are with Nationwide Series 16 Citi Financial Ford crew chief Eddie Pardue, and his family, especially 4 year old daughter Lani who is battling kidney problems. Props to Eddie for understanding that daddy duties always should take prescendence over crew chief duties. In this sport, families often take a backseat to team responsibilities birthdays and anniversaries, recitals and concerts missed all in exchange for chasing this (crazy) dream. And Prayers for a speedy recovery for Lani!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Making room for Kentucky

It seems all but inevitable that Kentucky Speedway will be adding a Sprint Cup series event to its schedule in the very new feature. Although SMI owner Bruton Smith seemed pessimistic that 2010 will see the blue grass track make its Cup debut, it seems the track is poised to take over hosting duties from one of the other 8 SMI owned properties.

But of the current Cup SMI-owned tracks, where is this race going to come from?

Bristol and Lowes Motor Speedway ,two tracks high in history and fan support are as likely to lose either one of their two Cup points-paying events as Humpy Wheeler is to be named the new president of Kentucky Speedway.

After a long and hard fought battle with NASCAR to put a second date on the schedule for Texas Motor Speedway, it's not likely that TMS would be willing to share.

While many fans (and Matt Kenseth) would be happy to see Infineon and Watkins Glen, the two road course tracks on the schedule, both disappear, with the sights and tastes of Sonoma, CA second to none on the circuit, many would be reluctant to leave the rolling hills of Napa Valley for the rolling hills of northern KY.
The tourist appeal of the riverboat casinos along the Ohio river not far from KY Speedway are no match for the bright lights of Las Vegas.Atlanta and Richmond are likely to squeak by unscathed as well, although the low attendance at Atlanta Motor Speedway this spring was well documented by the drivers and media alike. Their proximity to such major metropolisis, especially when compared to Sparta, KY will likely keep them safe.

That leaves only New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a staple of the series since the early 90s, but unfortunately a track best known by many new-school fans for the two tragedies during the 2000 season that took away first Adam Petty and then two months later Kenny Irwin far too soon. While NHMS is currently the only track in New England to host a NASCAR Sprint Cup event, and they boast, these events host the largest sports attendance in New England, is that enough to save the track from losing (at least one) of its events? Probably not.

Luckily for the fine folks at NHMS, they still have two opportunities this season to prove their value to Smith and SMI, and for their sake, I hope the motor-enthusiast New Englanders rally around the track.

Kentucky holds a special place in my heart, as it has played host to many of my favorite track memories: the 2002 Nationwide (then Busch, of course) race was my very first in-person race experience, and the pre-race autograph session led to my very first television appearance (but that's for another time), I skipped my senior prom to go see the likes of Benny Parsons, Jamie McMurray, Larry Foyt, Jeremy Mayfield, Sterling Marlin and Ricky Craven, and my mom and I witnessed the first of many acrobatic performances by a certain driver we've come to appreciate over the years, about 30 rows up right by the start finish line at the track.

Needless to say, like so many others, I believe KY Speedway deserves a Cup race more than other current NASCAR sanctioned track. The fans and the community deserve it, and although the original owners did pass the torch to SMI in an effort to make their dream of the track hosting a premier NASCAR event a reality, their passion and dedication shouldn't be ignored.

I just hate to see their dreams become a reality at the expense of another's dream.

What do you think?

Get well, JB!

Johnny Benson's week gets worse....
As mentioned in my last post, he lost his Camping World Truck Series #1 ride with Red Horse Racing to sponsored Timothy Peters earlier this week, but that doesn't come close to being the worst thing to happen to him.
Involved in an accident on the second lap of the supermodified race at Berlin Raceway, in Marne, Michigan Saturday night, Benson is currently in serious but stable condition at a local hospital, with burns and at least a few broken ribs.
When it rains, it pours.
Best wishes for a speedy recovery, JB!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sponsorship woes, or something else?

Earlier, this week, Red Horse Racing announced that due to lack of sponsorship, 2008 champion Johnny Benson's number 1 Toyota Tundra team was 'regrettably' ceasing operations. With the cost of running 2 successful and competitive team primarily out of their own pockets adding up quickly after just 8 of the series 25 races, and no sponsorship-relief in sight, team owners Tom Deloach and Jeff Hammond pulled the plug on Benson's hopes of a repeat championship run, and unfortunately , his opportunity to shine in front of his home-state supporters this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
With partial backing, TJ Bell's 11 team was left unscathed.
After last weekend's WinStar World Casino 400at Texas Motor Speedway, Benson sat 7th in points, just 155 markers back from leader Matt Crafton, Bell 20th, 335 outside the top spot.

Benson's predicament surprised and disappointed many fans, as the veteran is a fan favorite, evidenced by his back-to-back Most Popular Driver awards in 2006-2007. But if they thought this was the most surprising announcement to come from the Red Horse stables this week, they were wrong.

That came when the team announced that Timothy Peters, driver of the 17 Toyota, was slated to fill the void filled by Benson in the team's roster. Peters currently sits 19th in the standings, 46 points head of his new teammates, with 2 top 10 finishes while driving for Premier Racing, a team he has particial ownership of. Throughout his career, Peters has shown he can make good use of less than stellar equiptment, but most importantly for the Red Horse Racing executives, he's garnered support for the remainder of the season from That financially backing most likely had a much larger impact on their decision than his on-track performance.

Noone can blame Peters or the RHR team for taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them, but it does bring into new light a serious problem facing the CWTS.

Touting by many (myself included) as the most competitive and enjoyable of the three upper NASCAR divisions, the truck series has attracted fans for years because of the close racing, competitive spirit, and fan accessibility. But the lack of sponsorship dollars has always plagued the series, leading many team owners to run their teams out of their pockets, putting every bit of the team's winnings back into the organization.

To put into perspective the prize money awarded to the truck teams, points leader Matt Crafton's 88 team has won $156,680, the result of 7 top 10 finishes. Todd Bodine, having won the two highest paying races so far this season (Daytona and TMS), has collected $286,875. In the Nationwide Series, Jeff Burton has won $154,115 for the 7 of 14 events he's competed in, and currently sits 26th in points, with 5 top 10s. Morgan Shepherd, 24th in points brought home $319,998. And in the Sprint Cup Series, after making his first points paying race of the season at Pocono Raceway, Dexter Bean's season earnings are $93,425.

It was announced this weekend that GM has pulled their factory support of all of their Nationwide and Camping World Series teams, puttign an even larger financial stress on their Chevy-dedicated team owners.

Obviously, the economy has hit NASCAR as hard as the rest of us, and the results can just be attested to 'a sign of the times.' But with rumblings amongst those in the garage that Benson's release wasn't completely due to the financial well having run dry, you have to wonder where the truth lies.
Peters isn't the first driver to use his sponsor's checkbook to find a ride, and he surely won't be the last, but for the integrity and well-being of the sport, we should all hope this isn't a sign of things to come for the beloved series.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What Not To Wear, NASCAR Style.

I'm not one to heavily criticize other people based on what they wear to the track, but ladies, we need to talk.

Any female NASCAR fan knows that when it comes to find fashion-forward,figure-flattering, attractive clothes that let you support your favorite driver (especially if he's not one of the most popular drivers), pickin's are pretty slim. Track Couture, a NASCAR licensed retailer specializing in women's trends f0r a select number of NASCAR teams including Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing and Roush Racing, has brought style and feminity to the sport with charming 'I heart' and 'Miss' tanks and tees, as well as my personal favorite, a lavendar tshirt with 'I party in the Infield' and a retro motorcoach screenprint.
Motorsports Authentics, the top NASCAR licensed merchandiser, has scrambled to keep up with the trends , and has, for the most part, provided some great options for women as well, with tanks, tees, shorts and even jewelry! Who wouldn't want to sport a Tiffany & Co inspired necklace with a lovely '24' charm dangling from it?

But girls, if you'd rather not wear your heart (or your favorite driver's mug) on your sleeve (or chest, as the case may be), or your inner fashionista just won't let you leave the house dressed like a billboard for Dupont, AMP, AFLAC, or your favorite home improvement store, don't let the stress of what to wear spoil your weekend. As any frequent track-goer can attest to, anything goes. From preppy twinsets and dress pants, to a classic tshirt and jeans, to the newest trends, there isn't much you won't see throughout the weekend.

If you're looking for inspiration, don't look farther than the most prominent and visible women at the track, the NASCAR wives and girlfriends. Pit row during prerace festivities has long been used as a catwalk for the ladies to show off their latest fashion-finds. Tom Ford and William Rast are just as popular as Dale Jr among this crowd. Unless you have feet of steel, you'll probably want to avoid the 4' heels they seem so fond of though. Perfect for a stroll from the motorcoach lot to the team's pit box, but not so much for the half mile trek from the parking lot to the grandstand.
If packing for a NASCAR weekend still has you scratching your head, the lovely NASCAR Fashionistas some great splurge and steal options of ultra-trendy, and gorgeous clothes, great for every day, and raceday.

Your options are nearly endless, as by now, but never forget, one of the most important parts of being a fabulous Race Girl is feeling like a fabulous Race Girl and the easiest way to do that is to be comfortable. No matter what you choose to wear, make sure it makes you happy (and also make sure you're wearing sufficient undergarments, but that's another issue all together.). To quote my favorite fellow Tiffany fan, I believe the happiest girls are the prettiest girls. And Race Girls should be happy girls!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

They don't call it Hotlanta for nothing!

Like I mentioned before, we headed down to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck races last weekend, thanks to a victory by Matt Kenseth and the generosity of the fine folks at AMS.

We headed out early Friday morning to stop by the Golden Corral in McDonough, GA to visit with Travis Kvapil, driver of the #28 Golden Corral Ford and all around good guy, and to support Golden Corral's efforts.
After a short chat with him and some lunch, we headed on our way to the track. We'd planned on getting to the track early Friday to explore the exhibit, merchandise trailers and see who else was scheduled to come out throughout the weekend for autograph sessions.

I was completely delighted to see so many drivers make an effort throughout the weekend:
Carl Edwards,David Stremme,David Ragan,Robby Gordon,Sam Hornish,AJ Allmendinger,Reed Sorenson,Casey Mears,Michael Waltrip, David Reutimann Scott Speed, & Brian Vickers on the Cup side and Chevy truck series drivers Ricky Carmichael (yes, THAT Ricky Carmichael) Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Chad McCumbee, and JR Fitzpatrick.

During Cup practice it was obvious that we were in for a slip&slide show as all the driver seemingly were struggling with incredibly loose conditions on such a fast track.

After pratice ended, we headed over to the Speed stage to catch Trackside. It was pretty obvious from the already dozen or so Kasey Kahne fans milling around that Kasey would be one of the show's guests, but we had no clue who the others were. We were pretty excited to find out that it'd be RC! (as well as David Reutimann, but that didn't excite us nearly as much.) As anyone who has been a part of the Trackside crowd can attest to, between the people desperate to get on the show and those desperate to not be on the show, and the Speed folks encouraging the crowd to make as much noise as possible, you don't really come to Trackside to watch Trackside. That's for all of the unfortunate people stuck at home! So needless to say, aside from an akward moment when Jeff Hammond shouted 'Speaking of making it, you have a wife and two kids..' at RC, when seemingly nobody was speaking of making anything, I really can't tell you a single thing that was said on the show.

I can tell you that, aside from his tendencies to akwardly stare at people (namely me) to the point of uncomfortability, RC is pretty much awesome (They don't call him the Greatest of All Time as a joke, I guess.). Having spent a great deal of time in the CWES garage last year focused on other teams, I don't think I realized exactly how cool it is that RICKY CARMICHAEL has come to NASCAR, because he was just Ricky, another CWES driver, but NASCAR really is lucky to have him. (sidenote: I hope the reason he stared at me akwardly was because of our extensive time in the garage at the CWES races..and not for another reason)

After Trackside, we headed back in for qualifying, where we faced a mix of emotions including disappointment (for slow qualifying times from some), exasperation ( for the people sitting near us) and delight/relief for Travis making the show! Feeling good about Sunday, we headed out to find our hotel and get a good night's rest, since we had to be at the track at 9 to help sell NASCAR Day Pins!

As a big fan of volunteer work as it relates to Atlanta Motor Speedway, I'd signed us up to sell NASCAR Day Pins for the NASCAR Foundation from 9-1 on Saturday morning. After picking up our lovely blue smocks and our pins from Elenor and Sara (who were both wonderful!), we were set, and off towards the trailers to garner some support from the shoppers (and possibly the drivers signing?) Carl was supposed to be at his trailer from 9:15-9:45 and David Stremme from 9:30-10, so our plan was to start with Carl, then sneak over to see David. Would have worked out perfectly, except that with the misty weather Saturday morning, truck qualifying bumped back Cup practice, and Carl's schedule. When he finally did arrive with Angela, his PA, and Randy, the PR guy, (at 9:45, but I'm not judging) he was in good spirits, and his firesuit. We've joked about it previously, but he wears a microphone during the sessions to hold Q&A's for the people who didn't wake up at 4 in the morning to come get in line to get his autograph, and they really are enjoyable. The things people ask him (or he randomly thinks of to share) are always funny, and there isn't much he won't share.

Most of the questions revolved around Kate and married life, and his poor qualifying efforts. (One of these things he seemed to enjoy talking about..I'll leave it up to you to determine which.) A small boy in line had fallen and broken his leg trying to be like 'Backflip', and got a pretty good teasing from Carl about that.

Since we hadn't had the greatest reception from people rushing to buy our pins before Carl showed up, I had the great idea of selling one to him, (since I wrongly assumed that if he had one, others would want one too) and in a lull in conversation,when he asked if there were any more questions, I chimed in with 'Hey Carl, wanna buy a NASCAR Day pin?' Nothing like putting him on the spot. He, of course, obliged..'Of course I'll buy one!' Except, as I mentioned, he was wearing his firesuit, and for some reason, apparently he doesn't carry his wallet with him. He tried to bum the $5 off of Randy, who didn't have it either. While he was scrounging for money, a man in the line passed me the cash and handed him the pin..which in return earned him a diecast car, and gave us a free commercial for the pins.

Unfortunately, as much fun as Carl is, his late arrival meant we missed Stremme, but we knew we'd see him the next day at the PRN Up to Speed Event. We cruised the souviner trailers and sample displays, selling our pins. Conveniently, (and completely intentionally on my part) I led the charge over to the Chevy display just about the same time as the truck drivers arrived, and so we got to see Mr.Carmichael again, as well as the others. Since we hadn't gotten there early enough to get in the line, we stood right behind the line and just observed, and although I'm biased, I'm also confident in saying that there's a lot the others could learn from RC about the fact autograph sessions aren't contests to see who can sign the most cards without acknowledging the people in front of you (Johnny and Matt, this might mean you.)

Our shift was just about over once they were done, so we turned in our smocks, cash and pins and headed into the track. The race ended up being more than mildly disappointing for us, as Ricky and then Colin were both wrecked, and Kyle Busch continued his efforts to singlehandedly kill the Truck series.

After the race, we were pretty worn out and decided to head back to the hotel to nap and get ready for a night of a nice dinner and relaxing before what was sure to be an even longer day on Sunday.

Serafino's Italian Restaurant was recommended to us by a frequent patron, and we're surely glad that it was. The staff was very friendly, and everything from the salad and garlic rolls to the baked spaghetti was wonderful (Mom also recommends the lasagna) were wonderful. We usually try to eat at local restaurants compared to chains, and Serafino's definitely didn't let us down.

Like we'd expected, Sunday morning came early, and after a continental breakfast and a long trek from the parking lot, we arrived at the Speed stage for PRN Up to Speed. Allmendinger, Stremme, and Busch were all in rare form, and the experience was interesting, but unfortunately the format wasn't a Q&A with the fans, as the emcees controlled the conversation, asking questions that any long time (or enthusiastic) fan would know the answer to ( specifically about Lynne (AJ's wife), Cindy (David's mom) and Eva (Kurt's wife)) I know a lot of people really enjoyed it, though, and I think it is a great idea and am excited that MRN is going to host similar events at non-SMI tracks.

After Up to Date, we headed over to the trailers, saw Scott Speed, David Ragan, Joey Logano, (and Tom, does Joey go anywhere without him?), Robby Gordon, Sam Hornish and Brian Vickers. I know that for various reasons, a lot of NASCAR fans don't like Robby Gordon, but he's one driver who will time and time again go above and beyond for the fans, and I think he needs more credit. A lady and her daughter who was handicapped wanted to get a picture with him, but the girl couldn't climb up onto the stool he has for people to step up on to take a better picture. Instead of just shrugging them off or just leaning over the edge for the picture, he came out and around to the front of the trailer, posed with just the daughter, then both the mom and daughter. He also got a hat from his trailer, signed it, and traded the daughter's Dale Jr hat for it, even pulling her ponytail through the back for her. He's been controversial and abbrassive on the track and with his competitors for years, but he really is one of the good guys when it comes to fan relations. We always seem to stop by his trailer and he never fails to impress us.

After buying my new RC tshirt and changing into it for the race, we headed back to the car for lunch, and picked up our scanner bag and headed into our turn one seats.

Before I say what I'm about to, I'd like to preface it with the fact that AMS is a great track. The races are almost always really exciting, and there's not a seat at the track that you can't see most of the track from.

But, after buying our $17 tickets, we expected to be crammed into a section with the 998 other lucky people. What we weren't planning on was being packed in like sardines in one area, while there were such noticeable gaps in filled seats throughout the rest of the grandstands. We barely lasted through the first 100 laps with all the seats filled in our row before we moved up to sit under the grandstands. We ended up listening to PRN on the scanners and watching the race on the TVs mounted by the concession stands, something I've never done at the track (and never plan to again!) We were almost enticed into moving down to the seats by the start finish line by the strong runs by Mr. Gordon and Mr. Edwards, but it was obvious that not even the wall was going to stop Kurt Busch from taking home that checkered flag. With a 4 and a half hour drive home, we made the tough decision with about 80 laps to go, to head out.

Luckily, we missed a great majority of the race traffic on our way out.

All in all, a great weekend full of NASCAR Day Pins, blistered lips, and GOATs.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

PRN Up to Speed (Update!)

Probably noone will be excited by this as much as I am, especially considering the fact Vegas' group included Mr.FourTime himself and the other Busch boy,but apparently somebody loves me because:

Kurt Busch, A.J. Allmendinger & David Stremme are scheduled to headline the "PRN Up To Speed" event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a question-and-answer session at the SPEED stage in the Display Lot near gates 13 and 14 on Sunday, March 8, 2009 from 9:00 - 10:00am/et.

I try to stay pretty un-biased when it comes to blogging, but I can't lie. I love David Stremme. I know a lot of people (for reasons that make absolutely no sense to me) don't, but I do. I have since 2003. If only he had better taste in 'women', I'd invite him back to be my imaginary boyfriend. But, yay! Stremme!

Other notable appearances during the weekend:

Travis Kvapil driver of the #28 Golden Corral car, is scheduled to sign autographs at the McDonough, Georgia Golden Corral on Friday, March 6, 2009 from 11:00am -- 1:00pm/et. In addition to signing autographs, the first 200 fans in line will receive an autographed hat. Address is: 1755 Jonesboro Road, McDonough, GA.


David Stremme is scheduled to sign autographs at the Penske Racing souvenir trailer on Saturday, March 7, 2009 beginning at 9:30am/et. The Penske Racing trailer is located along the front stretch at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Team Chevy NCWTS Drivers are scheduled to sign autographs for fans on Saturday, March 7, 2009 in the morning [check display area for time] at the Chevy Racing Display in the Midway at Atlanta Motor Speedway.


#31 Cat Racing Pit Crew Members are scheduled to sign autographs at the Chevrolet display, located on Atlanta Motor Speedway property just outside Turn 3 on Sunday, March 8, 2009 beginning at 10:00am/et.

Kurt Busch, A.J. Allmendinger & David Stremme are scheduled to headline the "PRN Up To Speed" event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a question-and-answer session at the SPEED stage in the Display Lot near gates 13 and 14 on Sunday, March 8, 2009 from 9:00 - 10:00am/et.

Sam Hornish is scheduled to sign autographs at the Penske Racing souvenir trailer located in the display area at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 8, 2009 from 10:30 -11:00am/et.

David Ragan is scheduled to sign autographs at the UPS Souvenir Hauler located in the display area at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 8, 2009 from 9:45 - 10:15am/et.

Monday, March 2, 2009

PRN Up to Speed!

Kicked off this past weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway,
Speedway Motorsports Inc. recently announced they'll be hosting fan forums with 'top' NASCAR drivers and personalities as a part of each of their 13 race weekend festivities at SMI's 7 tracks across the country, including Atlanta, Bristol, Infineon, Lowe's, New Hampshire, Texas, and Las Vegas.

PRN Radio personalities will emcee the Q&A events held at the SPEED stage at each track. Las Vegas' 'allstar' line up included hometown hero and eventual race winner, Kyle Busch, four time Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, and legendary team owner, Richard Childress.
These events promise access not given to most fans to the biggest stars of the sport, and if their Vegas line-up is any indication, that's exactly what they'll deliver.

I applaud SMI for thinking of the fans who don't have $100+ to spend on pit passes,(Neon Garage Passes for Vegas are $250 a piece), or who aren't able to make it to the limited number of autograph sessions throughout the weekend, but I'm not sure that this is the solution. Great in theory, but having seen how loud and crowded the Speed Stage can be during Trackside and other Speed shows throughout the weekend, I can't imagine it wouldn't be the same at these events, especially if they continue to have top drivers like Busch and Gordon, whose accessibility is even less than lesser known drivers.

I might be completely wrong though, and this might just be what NASCAR needs to to keep ticket sales up in these economic hard times. I guess we'll just have to take it as it comes. I know I can't wait to see who they manage to schedule for Atlanta!

Listen to Lori, Get screened!

If anybody in the NASCAR community knows the pain suffered from watching a loved one fight a losing battle againts cancer, it's Lori Hamilton, widowed wife of former NASCAR Cup and Nationwide driver, and 2004 Truck Series Champion Bobby Hamilton.

Now, she's encouraging fans visiting Atlanta Motor Speedway this coming weekend to get screened. Lori Hamilton urges fans to attend free oral, head and neck cancer screenings on Saturday and Sunday from 9-1:30 prior to the green flag for the truck and Cup races. The screening will be conducted by medical professionals from the Georgia Chapter of the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA]. Screenings will be performed in the vendor area of the track. For more information, please visit the OHANCAW website.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Atlanta Bound!

Thanks to a little help from our friends (Mr. Kenseth and Mother Nature), we've ordered our SPRING ATLANTA CUP TICKETS! (Nationwide and Trucks too, but that's because we're spoiled, not because of our friends.) I guess I'll have to edit my world tour post, because it keeps growing!

Thanks to the fine folks at Atlanta Motorspeedway, the tour kicks off a couple weeks early, since they (ingeniously) devised the plan to sell 1,000 tickets for the value of the '500 winning car number. ( I bet Martin Truex has never been quite so popular!)

The 500 had its share of very good, good, bad, ugly, and very ugly, but in the end, I'm sure glad Kenseth pulled it off, if no reason other than I get an extra trip to the track!

Now Matt, unless other tracks plan on offering a similar promotion, I'm okay with you being a one hit wonder this season. But thanks for this one. It looks good on you, and my pocketbook!

Friday, February 13, 2009

My 2009 Race Schedule

The World Tour..
Southeasterm US tour, same difference.

I’ve been working on our race schedule for the past few days and here’s how it’s looking so far:

Lowes (all)
Martinsville (both)
and Richmond (maybe!)

Lowes (both)
Dover (?)
Bristol (fall)
Atlanta (fall!) (thanks penni!)

Martinsville (both)
Lowes (both)

East Series:
SoBo (if not Dover)

Rockingham (Both)

See you there?