You Meet the Nicest People in a Hyundai -- by J. R. Andres 
Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 12:04 AM
Posted by Administrator
This song line (with a few changes) from the mid 1960ís motorcycle commercial was a portent of things to come when Honda and several other Japanese manufacturers began to promote their two-wheeled products in the U.S. The English were already here at that time with Norton, BSA and Triumph and of course, there was Harley Davidson, a time honored American company that eventually saw their once secure market share slip away with each passing year. It took a while but the populace in North America became accustomed to names like Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha, and that was just the beginning.

Over in the four-wheeled world, VW, Simca and Renault led a similar invasion but their numbers were small and the radar screens of the Big Three hardly even noticed the blips. There was a lot of denial then about the long term impact these brands would eventually have upon the automotive industry in this country and most of the car buying public continued to remain true blue to the Dodges, Fords and Chevys that were made in the good old USA in spite of it all. No harm/no foul or so they thought.

In light of the subsequent inundation of off shore products, it wasnít surprising that in 2006 Toyota became involved in NASCAR, a racing fraternity of cars and individuals who cut their teeth on name brands manufactured domestically. After all, Toyotas are made here now so why shouldnít they be allowed to race alongside Impalas, Chargers and Fusions? Donít you know that theyíre built by Americans and they pay taxes and they help the economy?

There are a couple of ways to look at this issue since Toyota is already a part of the scene and the hue and cry against their inclusion in NASCAR has already waned but a larger issue remains that no one seems to notice on their radar screens. Once again, it appears that another door has been opened by NASCAR to the likes of VW, Mercedes, Honda, BMW and Hyundai. Will Daewoo be next? What about Opel and Fiat and Lexus?

Sure, GM and Chrysler need to cut back their sponsorships because itís hard to justify that kind of expenditure when youíre laying off people and dealerships are rapidly closing, but are the powers that be in NASCAR so misguided that they are willing to (once again) dilute a staple of the American landscape even further with brands so far removed from what this sport is all about? If you do, you might as well align yourself with Formula One, a series without a people and a country to call its own.

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He Thinks it's Cool -- by J. R. Andres 
Sunday, June 14, 2009, 09:09 PM
Posted by Administrator
This story has been hashed and rehashed over and over again by the media since the recent meltdown in Nashville but itís something that just wonít go away, sort of like a trick birthday candle that refuses to be blown out. And why is that? Itís because a person of prominence in the NASCAR world continues to demonstrate an inability to recognize that the course of behavior heís chosen doesnít make him the hip ďhappeningĒ leading edge bon vivant he considers himself to be. His boorish and tiresome behavior doesnít seem to bother Gibbís Racing, his Mars Candy sponsor or Toyota, either. If theyíve said something, it doesnít seem to matter. After all, why squeeze a winner? They couldnít bear the thought of him jumping ship. Think of all the money involved. Think of the lost revenue.

So the ship continues to sail along, undaunted and never wavering with ďK the Youngerí at the helm, completely oblivious and unaware of the fact that he wonít be able to steer clear of each and every iceberg that looms before him. Convinced that heís unstoppable and unable to sink why slow down, who cares about the warnings of the navigator? Full speed ahead!!

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Setting Records with Only 358.17 Cubic Inches -- by Ira Ostenheimer 
Thursday, June 4, 2009, 07:19 PM
Posted by Administrator
Records were set this past Tuesday in Charlotte but they werenít the ones Carl Long has been trying to set for many years in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Circuit. Long, part-time driver and independent car owner, was tagged with a 12 race suspension and a 200 points penalty along with a $200,000.00 fine levied against his crew chief, Charles Swing, who was recently admitted to a hospital with heart problems on or about the time of the ruling by the National Stock Car Racing Commission.

The saga began on May 15th at Charlotte during practice for the All Star Race when the engine let go, prompting an inspection by NASCAR, who found it to be 0.17 over the maximum of 358 cubic inches. Itís interesting to note that Long, at that point, could have packed things up and left instead of allowing the officials to spec out the engine.

Rules are rules but one has to wonder if Long is a scapegoat, unlucky or merely a person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. NASCAR is very clear about powerplant size (350 cubic inches with 8 cubic inch leeway to allow for variances) and for the first time in 18 years an engine was found to be over the limit. Itís also the first time a driver was sanctioned in such a way even though some feel he was thrown a bone by the Commission allowing him to still compete in the Nationwide and Camping World Series.

Traditionally, rules are instituted to insure compliance and when necessary, provide guidelines for corrective action. In the view of this writer they are not intended to sentence someone to life imprisonment for a simple assault. Sure he should have checked the engine himself even though long time builder Ernie Elliot certified that it was correct but by no measure of fairness and reality should a ruling, any ruling, be so stiff as to threaten the very existence of a team that had already been struggling just to make ends meet week in, week out.

All of this raises an interesting question. Does anyone really believe the Commission would have enacted the same ruling if the driver had been Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch or Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

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Does Earnhardt Deserve our Pity? -- by J. R. Andres 
Monday, May 18, 2009, 01:16 PM
Posted by Administrator
He was the guy who was going to pick up where his father left off. He was the guy positioned to attain greatness. He was the guy who had the talent and the means to carry on the Earnhardt tradition for yet another generation. If this were the case, then what happened to the driver and the expectations for success the racing world have saddled him with for the past eight years?

Living in the shadow of Dale Sr. hasnít been easy. There was the messy divorce from DEI and then the honeymoon with the Hendrick organization that now seems frazzled and rudderless. There have been calls for the removal of cousin and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. as a possible solution but RH hasnít decided to go there yet. Junior seems distracted at times and with one win in the last 103 outings, even with decent equipment, there seems to be more than meets the eye and now even the Junior Nation is pressing him for an explanation of why he has become their hard luck kid, week in and week out.

The truth of the matter might lie within Junior himself, the victim if you will, of the pressure and the never-ending hype he has had to contend with. NASCARís most popular driver is expected to consistently perform at a level far above that of his teammates, and his peers and the fans want him to be everything they imagine him to be; the reincarnation of his father.

Itís not unreasonable to say that the fame and mystique associated with the Earnhardt name has in some ways been a curse for Dale Junior. Even the fact that heís called Junior means he has to prove himself in ways the drivers of the other 42 cars donít. If they and the fans and the media could view things through the same set of glasses he does, the concept of pity would never be mentioned. Dale doesnít want it and he sure doesnít deserve it.

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Is there a Dodge in NASCARís Future? -- by Ira Ostenheimer 
Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 11:04 AM
Posted by Administrator
There have been times in the past when automobile manufacturers have moved in and out of NASCAR competition based upon either costs or rule changes but never has there been a time when a brand stepped out of line due to bankruptcy. Such is the dilemma facing Dodgeís parent company, Daimler-Chrysler, who recently filed for protection under Chapter 11.

The timing couldnít be worse for Kurt Busch who presently occupies the number one position in the Sprint Cup Series driver standings, his Penske team, Gillett/Evernham and Richard Petty Motorsports. Everyone has been told by Dodge that itís business as usual but youíve got to think that in the back of their minds thereís a lot of doubt about what the future holds. What about engine and aero development? What about sponsorships? What aboutÖ? The list goes on. The situation isnít much better on the GM side either, with plant closings and workers being laid off. How will that affect their participation in NASCAR?

Thereís no point in re-hashing the reasons why things are the way they are because thatís already been done. What is important is how the proposed merger with Fiat will affect Dodgeís involvement in motorsports. Will there be a desire on behalf of the Italian automaker to continue fronting the cash necessary in light of the economic crisis or will a decision be made to pull the plug? That would trim the field to Ford, Chevy and Toyota. If GM decides to do the same, weíre looking at Ford and Toyota.

The fans look at this situation from a very different standpoint than the manufacturers: brand loyalties and variety vis-ŗ-vis profit from sales. Itís always been this way and up until now they have been able to live next door to one another when times were good. Today thatís not the case because the bottom line was always in possession of the trump card. Letís hope it doesnít get thrown down.

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