Dad would have been Proud 
Friday, February 28, 2014, 11:15 PM
Posted by Administrator
There's no denying it, Junior's Daytona win will surely serve to amp up a career that's experienced many ups and downs. The 88 team never gave up on their boy and winning the 2014 Daytona 500 somehow makes up for all those days when there wasn't much to talk about after a long Sunday afternoon.
Momentum has a way of slipping through your fingers. Let's hope Earnhardt finds a way to see that it doesn't.

J.R. Andres/SMM

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NASCAR's Qualifying for 2014---NEW & IMPROVED 
Friday, January 31, 2014, 06:06 PM
Posted by Administrator
I'm glad that NASCAR has been paying attention. The "Boys of Daytona Beach" have not always been in tune with changing the status quo but someone must have been listening. Qualifying had become rote and somewhat boring and something was needed to spice it up.
In a move aimed toward enhancing the fan experience, NASCAR recently announced a NEW group qualifying format for it's three national series that is, if anything, more compelling, more closely emulates the on-track competition and underlines the sport's commitment to innovation.

This is how it all breaks down:
1) The first qualifying elimination round will be 25 minutes long and includes all cars. The 24 cars that post the fastest single lap will advance to the second round.
2) The remaining cars will be sorted based on their times posted in the first round of qualifying in decending order.
3) The second qualifying round will last 10 minutes and the 12 cars that post the fastest single lap here will advance to the final round. The fastest remaining cars will earn positions 13 through 24 based on their times posted in qualifying in decending order.
4) The third and final round will last only 5 minutes and the fastest single lap time will determine positions 1 through 12 in decending order. The fastest driver in the final round will earn the pole position.
5) There will be a 5 minute break between each qualifying round.

It will be interesting to see how this new qualifying format actually translates to the real world. Whatever the outcome, NASCAR deserves credit for their openess to change.

J.R. Andres
SMM Editor-in-Chief
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The Eternal Brand 
Thursday, December 26, 2013, 10:43 PM
Posted by Administrator
On any given NASCAR weekend you'll see the crowds lining up in front of the No.88 souvenir trailer where fans can satisfy their cravings for everything and anything Earnhardt. The other trailers attract a few buyers here and there, never quite attaining fever pitch sales and the interest this family's name conjours up, even now.
The groundwork was laid when Sr. was at the apex of his career, winning almost everything in sight, setting the stage for his place in stock car history. He seemed the heir apparent to equal, if not surpass The King, whose reign was rapidly coming to an end. He was "The Intimidator", "The Man" and it appeared that his son, still standing in the wings, was going to continue in his footsteps when the elder Earnhardt decided he had had enough. His untimely death thrust Jr. into the spotlight and with it, the expectations that he too, would be equally successful.
Over time, it became clear that Earnhardt the Younger wasn't the driver his father was and for years he struggled to make a decent showing, trying to live up to the legacy of his father. It was frustrating for fans and more importantly devastating to a racing organization that wasn't used to seeing the Earnhardt name out of the top ten finishers.
Winning races is one thing but winning the hearts of the fan base is another. Even during those times when the Earnhardt clan was looking to move on, the fans stuck by Jr. through thick and thin and his winning of the 2013 Most Popular Driver by the NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) remains as a testament to the popularity and the reverance for a family that has traveled the highest mountains and the lowest valleys stock car racing has to offer.
Jr. has come to this place honestly by hard work and perseverence...and he did it on his own.

J.R. Andres/SMM Editor-in-Chief

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One year ends and another is about to begin 
Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 07:39 PM
Posted by Administrator
It didn't seem very long ago that I was making use of superlative terms to describe the upcoming 2013 racing season. The teams, the fans and the car owners were looking forward to another round of racing and like other sports teams, most were sure that this was going to be their time to bask in the glow of victory. I suppose one has to be an eternal optimist to maintain the costs in machine and human terms to endure the rigors associated with this sport.
From my perspective, I suppose there's an unexplained post partum feeling that comes when the excitement of covering these events abruptly comes to an end and the prospects of a long winter without the sounds and the sights of cars and individuals trying to out do one another begins to stare media types in the face.
On the other hand, the memories of what was and what will be somehow seems to serve as a consolation. Like the teams who have already begun planning for the 2014 season, we maintain our focus and look forward to the coming year, understanding and believing it will be even better than the last.

J.R. Andres/SMM

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ON THE STARTING LINE 
Sunday, July 28, 2013, 02:27 PM
Posted by Administrator
There was a time when sitting in the stands was everything I thought it could be. I was able to see the rails and the stockers and once in awhile we were lucky enough to get a wisp of nitromethane and rubber smoke if the wind was blowing just right.
I began to attend pre-med classes at Michigan State University in 1966 and my goal in life was to become a doctor, so my mind was wrapped around things like microbiology, organic chemistry and anatomy. Cars were kool but I couldn't see the advantage or importance of turning wrenches instead of saving lives.
My roomate was a journalism major and he used to entertain us all with stories about the places and things he'd seen...places reserved for reporters and law enforcement. It was sexy and enticing, the old forbidden fruit syndrome.
The Detroit News had a marginal interest in auto racing which is surprising considering the fact that Motown was the center of the universe for all things automotive.
My roomate had made a commitment to the News in late 1966 which involved him taking pictures at a big event at Detroit Dragway one Saturday. He said there were going to be "funny cars" there. After a very convincing period of begging, I agreed to take his place even though I knew NOTHING about photography. I wanted to do him a favor because he was sick or so he said. After a very short session of instruction, I knew everything I needed to know, which wasn't surprising since his camera was a Kodak 126 Instamatic, the one that used the little blue flashbulbs.
Things then were so simple. With just an honest face and assurances that I was a real NEWS photographer, I received permission to shoot on the starting line. In those days you really were on the starting line...the one without a k-wall or any barrier to hide behind if something exploded or someone went sideways.
By the end of the evening, I had had enough. Nicholson was using hydrazene, which was a popular addition to the usual concoction of methyl alcohol and nitro. I had a headache for days following my first sojourn into the advanced world of starting line photography. Funny thing though, it was pretty neat being so close to the action. Now I was able to tell interesting stories like my roomate, only mine were about cars instead of car accidents and dog shows.
All of that was 47 years ago but one thing has never changed. The excitement and the exclusivity of being able to go where few tread has never lost its appeal and its likely it never will. Everytime I go out to a wall at a NASCAR or IndyCar race or brave the walls at a NHRA event I remember how lucky I am to be there. I look up to the crowded stands and know most, if not all, would give alot to be where I am.

J.R. Andres/SM Magazine
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