Friday, August 23, 2019

Time for Motorsports to Advance On Its Catchfence Issue

So here we are again motorsports… yet again we’re back at it for, what most people don’t realize is, our decades long debate about the danger of motorsports, specifically cars getting into catchfencing above the walls, what a danger it poses and how we can or can’t fix this.

In case you haven’t noticed, the insanity definition applies here, everyone keeps talking about what they think is the problem, how they think it can be fixed, and then nothing really gets done, or tried; then another accident happens and we start all over.

We talk about what is at fault:

  • Bad drivers
  • Bad tracks
  • Bad safety standards
  • Bad car specs/technology
  • Motorsports itself

What can be done about it:

  • Get rid of oval tracks
  • Get rid of superspeedways
  • Invent clear plexi-walls strong enough to hold cars in
  • Invent post-less catch fencing
  • Close the cockpits
  • End open wheel racing outright
  • This is a 1 solution endgame
    • there is a limit to how many advancements can be done
  • Nothing can be done, people should just accept this is the way things will be
    • Catchfencing is working as intended

First let’s start by saying that Pocono is just the latest track to take the brunt of this debate.
The track itself, the layout does not cause what happened, in fact this most recent incident started on a straightaway. How Pocono goes about repairing or maintaining their catchfence might be a topic for another day, but not entirely irrelevant. Frankly I’d hate to see Pocono removed from schedules, as a parent who lives in the northeast it’s easily THE best track to go to for a race weekend with the family because it’s surrounded by indoor waterpark resorts and is generally a lovely area with good food to visit and within a reasonable driving distance, plus it’s a cool and unique track (not a cookie cutter D-oval).

Having listened to people debate this topic yet again, what I think comes so starkly here are a few points that it appears are not registering.

Much of the above problems and solutions are often built on one or more flawed logics:

  1. Assumptions that all motorsports accidents can be pinpointed to a similar common denominator/cause
    1. Don’t account for the vast variety of incidents we’ve seen
  2. No concept of Level of Effort or Level of Impact/Benefit
    1. Things aren’t tested or feasible either technologically or financially
  3. Operate under the false assumption that only a perfect solution is a viable solution, this is all or nothing, small progress is unacceptable
  4. This MUST be a complex issue and thus require a complex solution
    1. Something extraordinary must be done
  5. Failure to do much (if any) research

That last point is really the big one for me here because I feel like if people really stopped to look at some data points it could help drive a better conversation and also point out that a potential advancement/solution that could account for the majority of incidents may not only already exist, but it may have existed for over 20 years at a racetrack both used by IndyCar and NASCAR before.

Though my background is in the tech industry, I’ve worked in operations, procedures, training and fixing problems/solving puzzles for almost 2 decades now. My experience is that often times when there are continual problems that plague process/results, that its human education, motivation and change management that tends to be the largest contributor/component and I believe the same applies here. Everything above is easy to say and walk away, it takes time to solve a problem…

So let’s take the operational approach. To tackle any problem the first thing you have to do is define the problem and then collect historical data on it.


Define the problem scope: 

Many get stuck defining the problem, instead looking at what motivates drivers, causes them to be aggressive, causes cars to go airborne etc. and while much of that is tangible and related elements to the story, I don’t think they composite what is the problem that overarches those things.

If you use the broadest definition I think we can all agree that the thing that worries us so much and want something done about is this:

  • What happens when racecars get above a retaining wall: be it SAFER, Armco or concrete.  
    • Sub-problem now being, what happens when a racecar comes into contact with catch fencing and/or support poles.

Many tend to point at cars getting airborne as the only solvable problem, but I think we can all agree that basic physics says if objects are travelling at high speeds that when impacts are added to the equation, that upward deflection via Newton's 3rd law is a very real possibility and one that can’t be eliminated.

The real problem is how we have been dealing with this fact. There was a time when tracks had nothing above the wall and cars just exited the track, we’ve lost countless drivers and spectators due to that fact  (and this even still mind-bogglingly happens at some local levels) but these days most/if not all major league tracks have catch fencing installed, but catch fencing as many will often say “is performing as intended.” And you have to remember that catch fencing was invented to keep cars and car parts inside the track and nothing else; it was not designed to keep drivers safe, or to reduce impact Gs, simply to keep stuff in the track.

What is the data set?

There are actually a vast number of incidents in question where a racecar has gotten above a wall, this isn’t just an IndyCar issue, or oval issue, or superspeedway issue. I am sure I may have missed an accident in my research, let me know if I need to update but by my count:

Starting in 2000 with Geoff Bodine’s insane incident at Daytona, between the NASCAR and IndyCar sanctioning bodies, we’ve had a car during an accident get above the retaining wall 26 times (or 1.4 times a year). This is not a rare enough occurrence to call it a fluke, but also keep in mind 1500+ races took place from those sanctioning bodies in that time, this is not an epidemic that demands a draconian solution.

IndyCar sanctioning accounts for 17 (16 IndyCar, 1 Indy Lights) and NASCAR the other 9 (Cup 5, Trucks 3, 1 the mid level tier whatever we call it these days).

In those 26 accidents:

  • 23 were on ovals 
    • 18 of the 23 oval accidents happened on super speedways
  • 3 on permanent road courses 
  • 1 on a temporary street course

Within the track itself where on track did the accidents take place?

  • 15 within a turn
  • 2 in a short kink/dogleg
  • 6 on a D-oval’s front “straight”
  • 3 on straight

So eliminating ovals won’t solve everything, eliminating open-wheels doesn’t solve everything, and eliminating super speedways doesn’t quite solve everything… not to mention, are any of those solutions really feasible; are we really going to eliminate Indy, TMS, Daytona and Talledega from motorsports?

Some track’s must be more inherently dangerous than others right? Well yes and no. While some tracks account for more incidents, those 26 incidents span 14 different tracks:

Count of Incidents Above the Wall Since 2000:
5 - Daytona
5 - IMS
4 - Pocono
2 - TMS
1 - Homestead-Miami
1 - Gateway
1 - Las Vegas
1 - Houston Street Course
1 - Road America
1 - Talledega
1 - Watkins Glen
1 - Chicagoland
1 - Fontana
1 - Kentucky

So this moment is where I expect folks to point and say “See Superspeedways/ovals are clearly the issue,” and the data shows that tendency, but again keep in mind that’s 26 incidents over 1600+ races… Solving an issue that has impacted 1% of the races run in the last 19 years by eliminating 35% of the races doesn’t make sense. Not to mention it involves getting rid of 2 motorsports most iconic races/venues, it’s not exactly feasible. Especially when something else all these incidents have in common could allow for a better, cheaper advancement that allows fans and drivers who like that sort of racing to continue.

Different cars/series, different aero configurations, track shapes, temperatures… so what do the incidents all have in common? Every incident had cars travelling at fast speeds getting into accidents… and every incident had a 3-4 foot retaining wall. All but 1 had a catch fence installed on top of it…   The 1 incident that didn’t fit that bill was actually Kasey Kahne at Pocono in 2010 (pictured above) when there still wasn’t fencing or anything above the wall at all on the back stretch… but Pocono has a fence there now, so all the major tracks at present have a 3-4 foot wall with a catch fence on top… and that has been the norm for all major tracks on the schedules… except one to my knowledge...

Going back to catchfences, one of the most common phrases from track operators and officials is that catchfences operate as designed. The problem is that their purpose/design comes at an obvious cost of danger to the driver/car. One could even make a case that that catchfences actually DON’T work as fully intended as there are several incidents where the fence failed to keep all the pieces/parts of the car inside the track and many where the incident resulted in injury to spectators and workers. Now could they have been worse without a catch fence? Absolutely.  Catchfences are certainly better than nothing in so many regards.

But more to the point on the pros/cons of catchfences, the obvious con when reviewing the incidents is that catchfences make things drastically worse for a driver/car. In every single incident in the dataset, accidents got drastically worse for the driver once the car came into contact with the catch fence adding G-forces and additional impacts to the accident. So can that be improved upon, and can we even improve on the fact that catch fences don’t always do their job of keeping parts inside the track?


So what advancement am I proposing? Well I’m not taking credit at all because it’s not my idea, my “advancement” is to expand someone else’s advancement… something already done, just not replicated at any other tracks for some odd reason… and unlike many of the proposals brought up in debate, it DOES apply to 100% of the incidents.

Proposed Advancement: Make walls higher 

Justin Wilson back in 2015 talked about this very idea with Fox Sports; his total vision was a bit more radical (included enclosing all the fans within the track) but it was, at heart, the same premise to raise the walls.

Sam Schmidt actually got into the idea of raising walls as well after Mikhail Aleshin and Robert Wicken’s incidents, and nothing really came of it… in fact his premise is more on track where I’m going to go:
“what I've asked for since then is that in the turns where there is no grandstand so no spectator sight-lines are affected, they should go double-high with the SAFER barrier.” 
"If you looked at a replay of Mikhail's accident, at Robbie's accident, and others - including NASCAR - another three feet of SAFER barrier would have contained the car within the track without this cheese-grater effect that catchfencing has."
"I don't know if that's a long-term fix, I don't know the level of investment required, but certainly on turns where spectator viewing isn't an issue, the oval tracks need to do something like that."

Felix Rosenqvist mentions the idea of taller walls just this last week after he was the most recent driver to come into contact with a catch fence:

But what is more interesting is that this idea, taller walls, isn’t even a hypothetical advancement, we can’t say its not feasible because its already been done before...

For those who may not know/remember, Twin Ring Motegi in Japan is dual track facility: a road course and an oval that run within each other. The 1.5 mile oval track first appeared on the major racing scene in 1998 starting in the CART schedule until 2002 and then moving to the IRL/merged IndyCar schedule from 2003 until 2010. It also hosted a NASCAR race in 1998, (actually the first race Dale Sr. and Dale Jr. raced in together).

IndyCar fans probably most remember Twin Ring Motegi for being unique in that it was egg-shaped (cue Jack Arute holding up an egg), meaning turns 1&2 were different turn angles/banking than 3&4. There is something else that differentiates turns 1&2 from 3&4 that was mostly unnoticed. Turns 1&2 have catchfencing but turns 3&4 do not.

What turns 3&4 have instead are massive tall gap-less steel walls “disguised” as advertising, meaning if a car were to get higher than the 3 foot SAFER barrier, the car would not get grabbed, caught and spun by a catch fence; instead would simply cross above SAFER barrier to another flat surface. Wilson actually mentioned Motegi when he was interviewed.

We can’t say a tall wall is hypothetical when a track that was used by the sanctioning bodies for 10+ years had it. What about feasibility? Can similar types of tall walls be implemented all over every inch of every track? No, but do we even need to do that? Reminder this is about making progress and the most impact to safety without impacting motorsports as we know it. The majority of accidents found where a car got above the 3’ walls at tracks happened within the turns.

In fact, many of the accidents actually took place in sections where there are no grandstands behind the fencing and in some cases (Ryan Briscoe @ Chicagoland 2005, Pablo Perez @ Homestead in 2007, and Mikhail Aleshin Fontana in 2014) billboard advertising is already behind the catchfence anyway; so this means nothing would be lost for sightlines/seating. If anything tracks could spin it as a way to get advertising dollars and help pay some of the cost.

But its not all perfect and easy, lets be clear, a Motegi style 20’ tall wall solution doesn’t solve everything, but it would solve the vast majority of spots where these incidents took place. On a minor side, there is a sacrifice in aesthetics or adding walls/advertising to a spot where there wasn’t anything previously.

But what do you do about the 4 turns at Indy, or some of the spots at TMS where adding a 20 foot tall wall would severely impair grandstand views or eliminate them altogether? This is where you go to analysis of each incident. Looking at each of the crashes in slow motion to pinpoint a very important detail. If a car got over the wall, how high was it when it initially got over the wall? Essentially how tall would a wall have needed to be to stop that car from being grabbed by the catch fence?

This is an important detail because in 100% of the accidents that involved a car getting into the catch fence, the catchfence every time made the accident worse for the car/driver, and in most case escalated the height. So we’re not asking how high did the highest point of the car ever get in course of the incident, but how high would a raised wall need to have been to prevent the interaction with fencing/poles from ever starting.

As an example, Robert Wickens 2008 crash at Pocono, the car actually initially makes impact with the SAFER barrier, then rises up and rides the wall for a few hundred feet until it finally gets caught in the catchfence and that’s when the car gets pulled up vertically due to the friction. If you replaced the first 3-6 feet of catchfence with a solid Motegi-style wall, or even just made the SAFER 3-4 feet taller, does that accident even escalate the same way it did?

Of the 26 times a car got over the wall, how high were they when they initially went over the wall?

  • 14 of them 0-3 feet above the wall
  • 8 of the 4-6 feet above
  • 3 of them 7+ feet above the wall

Now my measurements are not exact as I’m scaling based on video/object reference but it’s safe to say the mass majority of the incidents the car initially got over the wall within a 6’ range. The reality is that a Motegi 20’+ tall wall may not even be required.

Take Mike Conway’s famous incident at Indy, his car impacted within the 6’ height range above the wall, but more importantly the grandstands in that area don’t even start until 8’-10’ above the wall. Why is there even catch fence for those first 8 feet? Adding wall there would not impact anyone in the grandstand’s view…

So let’s say we just want to do taller walls in general, the height is determined by what the area can accommodate, where would taller walls be viable/effective? Would raising the wall be doable without majorly impacting/obstructing any grandstand viewing? Of the 26 accidents analyzed:

  • 16 of the accidents, the spot of the incident a taller wall is 100% doable, no issues, no grandstands behind the fence
  • For 4 of the accidents – It’s viable but the track may lose a small insignificant amount of seating/views, I’d argue the benefit far outweighs the loss, as in all cases its low level seats that are often empty anyhow.
  • For 1 incident not viable at all, but that was the Houston street course that doesn’t even exist anymore anyway
  • For 5 of the incidents it’s not as easily viable because we’re talking about Daytona and Talledega’s front D-shaped straight stretch, you may not be able to add 6 feet of wall, but would 3 more hurt that bad? But for arguments sake lets count those as a no.

This means that without changing the cars, the tracks, the drivers, or asking tracks/fans to sacrifice seating, you could have likely prevented 15-19 of those accidents from escalating due to eliminating catchfencing/poles playing a part. Really the question would by why not do it? Clearly drivers want added safety for themselves for when an accident does get out of bounds, they’ve never liked catchfencing and the danger it poses, what is there to lose to implement something another track has already done especially in the areas where no views get blocked.


So where do we go from here? 

I think the biggest and most important next step is to get people to talk about and acknowledge these facts and questions. For many of us, we’re not in a position within a racing body or working at tracks, but most of us are on social media, and at tracks and events where those people are. Ask track workers, track operators, drivers, team owners, engineers, series officials etc. what they think of taller walls, ask them what they think of the Twin Ring Motegi design in turns 3 & 4.

Ask people to look into this and don’t let people ignore that taller walls already exist, don’t let people think this is an extraordinary problem that requires an extraordinary, absolute or draconian solution. Advancements to fix some spots at tracks is better than fixing nothing. The more people talk about this idea the more pressure there is for those in the right positions to at least have to acknowledge the idea and hopefully work out its feasibility, much like the implementation of SAFER barriers in the early 2000s, you need one big domino/track to participate and then its likely that others will follow… put the pressure on for people to stop brushing this off.


Appendix: I anticipate some folks might want to see the list/data of the incidents, so I wanted to be sure to provide this. You can find video of just about all these incidents on YouTube if you'd like to double check my analysis on impact heights etc. but be forewarned, once you look up 1-2 of these on YouTube, its gonna think you like this sort of thing and start recommending all the most horrible crash videos people have uploaded. Alas here is the info I compiled:

Motorsports accidents above the wall 2000-2019

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

GBS Movie Roundup

Below are the movies that I have live-blogged here on this site over the last five years or so. I've rated each movie out of 10, and as you'll see, Blue Chips is really the only decent film of the bunch.

The funny thing is that I've also grabbed the IMDB ratings as well. Typically, I find IMDB's ratings to be a decent and somewhat consistent guage. I ran a movie podcast for years, and we always referenced IMDB's ratings. Usually, a film with a rating of 5 or higher is somewhat decent. (To me, a 5/10 is the level of "I would watch this again.") But here, the IMDB ratings are so wacky, especially when compared to mine.

I can't explain it. But trust me! Aside from Blue Chips, you do not want to watch any of these movies unless you have a special interest of some kind (or some idiots are live-blogging about them during a blogathon or other event).

Here is the GBS movie list so far:

3: The Dale Earnhardt Story (2004) - 3/10 (IMDB = 6.9)
Blue Chips (1994) - 7.5/10 (IMDB = 6.1)
Crackerjack (2013) - 1/10 (IMDB = 6.6)
Driven (2001) - 2.5/10 (IMDB = 4.6)
Fumbleheads (1997) - 1/10 (IMDB = 6.0)
Hockey Mom (2004) - 1/10 (IMDB = 5.2)
Kart Racer (2003) - 2/10 (IMDB = 5.8)
My Dad's a Soccer Mom (2014) - 1/10 (IMDB = 5.4)
Superdome (1978) - 3/10 (IMDB = 2.6)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Blogathon 2019 Pick 'Em Challenge Results

Well, I somehow managed to win this thing again, probably cause of the rain. But I'll take it. The final standings came out the same as last year. Below are the final scores:

Mike - 107
Speedgeek - 75
Wedge - 67

Sunday, January 27, 2019

2019 Daytona 24 Hours - 23.5 Hour Update

Just kidding, the race is over. Red flagged for the last hour or so, and with the conditions not really getting any better, the race was called with about 10 minutes to go. Fair enough, because every time they restarted, it was obvious that the track was a complete skating rink. So, with that, we've got our final standings:

1) #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac (Mike - 12 points)
2) #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac (Speedgeek - 8 points)
3) #7 Penske Acura (Wedge - 4 points)

1) #25 BMW M8 GTE (Speedgeek - 6 points)
2) #62 Ferrari 388 GTE (Mike - 4 points)
3) #67 Ford GT (Wedge - 2 points)

1) #11 Grasser Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (Mike - 6 points)
2) #29 Montplast by Land Audi R8 GT3 (Speedgeek - 4 points)
3) #12 AIM Vasser-Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3 (Speedgeek - 2 points)

24 Hour Points:

Mike - 22 points
Speedgeek - 20 points
Wedge - 6 points

And the overall total:

Mike - 59 points
Speedgeek - 38 points
Wedge - 22 points

So, the racing portion of the Blogathon is wrapped up. There's maybe not a ton to talk about, since there was only like 40 minutes or something of racing in the last 7 hours of the 24 hours, but we did get a guest overall win by Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi, BMW winning GTLM basically out of nowhere, and the Grasser Lambo winning GTD for the second year in a row (shoutout to my dude Aaron Telitz, who was in the Lexus that finished 3rd in GTD on his sports car debut).

We'll have a bit more in a bit, with the curling results. We've got a couple of tense games through two and four ends!

One Hour To Go!

And we are enjoying the furious action of....

The jet dryers going around the track. I have serious doubts that we're going to see race cars in motion under their own power again today. Hopefully, I'm wrong.

Meanwhile, Mike has placed one team into the curling semifinals (skipped by Kirk Muyres), I've got one (skipped by Reid Carruthers), and Allen has two (skipped by Jason Gunnlaughson and Rich Ruohonen). Allen has teams in both halves of the semis, so he could place one, two or zero teams into the finals. We will be monitoring that, while the race stays under red flag.

Five Songs for a Rolex 24 Playlist #4

1. The Beatles - Drive My Car

2. Belle and Sebastian - I Love My Car

3. Ronny and the Daytonas - Little GTO

4. Size 14 - Rollin' in the 5-1-0

5. Jan and Dean - Dead Man's Curve

Blogathon 2019: Limerick #5

I didn't want to fight with Rossi,
But then he decided to cross me.
I said, "OK, bro"
And got ready to throw,
But that's when I saw his whole posse.

3 Hours to Go...and IT'S ALL HAPPENING

We've finally gone back to green flag racing with right around three hours to go, and all three main classes are up for grabs, with the #31 Whelen Engineering Caddy taking the lead from the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Caddy just before Jordan Taylor brought the #10 in to hand over to Fernando Alonso. Also, four manufacturers (Porsche, Ferrari, Ford and BMW) are in the running for GTLM and like 10 cars can still win GTD. Meanwhile, the quarterfinals of the Ed Werenich Golden Wrench Classic Presented by The Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen is in the quarterfinals. Mike, Wedge and I managed to pick 7 of the 8 teams that made the quarters, with Allen squaring off against me in one, Allen and Mike playing in two quarters and Mike against the one team we didn't pick in the last one.

IT'S GOING DOW- oh, wait, we're back under yellow again in the race.

Famous actors from The Dale Earnhardt Story

If you watched the Blogathon movie with us, not only did you learn a lot about Dale Earnhardt and his famous quotes, but you also probably recognized some actors. If you're trying to remember where you've seen those actors before, I've put together this nifty chart to help you out. On the left side is the way each one appeared in 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story. On the right side is a picture of the actor that may be more familiar to you.

8:36 a.m.: The Mike Story

Like Dale Earnhardt, I can also see the air flowing over the cars. And out the back of the cars. And from the sky on top of the cars. And the air looks wet.

2019 Daytona 24 Hours - 18 Hour Update

The race is still red flagged, as it has been for over an hour now. As such, even though the IMSA Results webpage hasn't updated yet, Timing and Scoring has essentially been frozen except for the race end countdown timer, so we can still do this update.

1) #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac (Mike - 6 points)
2) #6 Penske Acura (Speedgeek - 4 points)
3) #7 Penske Acura (Wedge - 2 points)

1) #62 Ferrari 488 GTE (Mike - 3 points)
2) #912 Porsche 911 RSR (Mike - 2 points)
3) #66 Ford GT (Wedge - 1 point)

1) #86 Mike Shank Racing Acura NSX (Mike - 3 points)
2) #29 Montaplast by Land Audi R8 LMS GT3 (Speedgeek - 2 points)
3) #540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R (unselected)

So, the score for the 18 Hour mark:

Mike - 14 points
Speedgeek - 6 points
Wedge - 3 points

And the grand totals:

Mike - 37 points
Speedgeek  - 18 points
Wedge - 16 points

Barring something fairly crazy happening in the last six hours (which would also require the race to, you know, start back up again), Mike is looking awfully hard to beat here. BUT, it's racing, so we shall see (Mike probably trounce us again in 6 hours' time)!

Blogathon 2019 Beer #3

Jokes. It's coffee.

2019 Daytona 24 Hours - 12 Hour Update

OK, so this is going back a few hours now, but I didn't quite make it to the 12 hour mark before I needed a little sleep...BUT, I'm now up and ready to push through to the end. Um, even if Mother Nature is not on board with anybody pushing anything.

So, at the 12 Hour mark, this was our rundown:

1) #7 Penske Acura (Wedge - 6 points)
2) #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac (Mike - 4 points)
3) #6 Penske Acura (Speedgeek - 2 points)

1) #911 Porsche (Mike - 3 points)
2) #912 Porsche (Mike - 2 points)
3) #62 Ferrari (Mike - 1 point)

1) #33 Riley Mercedes AMG-GT (Mike - 3 points)
2) #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari (Wedge - 2 points)
3) #96 Turner BMW (Wedge - 1 point)

For the 12 Hour mark:

Mike - 13 points
Wedge - 9 points
Speedgeek - 2 points

And, the running total:

Mike - 23 points
Wedge - 13 points
Speedgeek - 12 points

And with the race currently under red flag, we're only a few minutes away from locking in Hour 18. We'll be back for that shortly.

Blogathon 2019: Limerick #4

They're just partying along the track now.
I can hear "Wipeout" play in the background.
Until each pit dismisses
Let's admit that this is
Just 24 hours of snacks now!

Five Songs for a Rolex 24 Playlist #3

1. Fountains of Wayne - Survival Car

2. The Clash - Brand New Cadillac

3. The Cure - Mint Car

4. Bruce and Terry - Custom Machine

5. Parasite Diet - Cutlass Supreme

Djokovic secures the win

Well, Djokovic just finished the sweep, winning the Australian Open in three sets at 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. The ESPN announcers said they've never seen anyone play this well on this court (particularly when factoring in the opponent). And as a huge fan of listening to sports on the radio, I switched to the official Australian Open radio broadcast for some of the last set, and the guy there had the great quote: "Oh, when will this master class end?!"

And so goes another Blogathon with another fantastic Djokovic performance. He continues to amaze me every time I watch him in a big match.

And hey, this is just in time to switch over to the race as it returns to NBC Sports!

If our jobs were like tennis...

If our jobs were like tennis...

- Every time we went to write something, we'd take out two pens, inspect them, and then just toss one behind us for the trash-pen boy to scurry over and pick up for us.

- When we typed an email, every time we hit send, we'd go, "UGH!" really loudly.

- We'd dump out the old coffee, set up a new pot, turn it on, wipe our face with a towel, throw it on the ground (or to the trash-pen boy), and walk away back to our desk.

- We'd get one thing accomplished and then go sit down, stare into space, and eat a granola bar. Oh wait... Lots of people actually do this one...

Anything else?

(In actual important news, Djokovic just won Nadal's serve to go up 2-1 here in the third set. If he wins his serve here, it could be basically over.)

Djokovic wins first two sets

If you're missing this tennis match, it's unlike any I've seen between these two guys. Djokovic won on Nadal's serve to take a 5-2 lead in the second set, and then in the final game, Nadal watched the last three serves go right by him without taking a swing. Djokovic is one set away from his 15th major title and his 7th Australian Open championship.

I don't have a crush on Djokovic. You do.

Back to the topic of Djokovic being in great shape...

Look, I'm not saying Nadal has a belly. I mean, I have enough belly for me, you, these two tennis dudes, and Santa Claus, OK? But when you look at him, he has just the normal belly of a fit guy. You can see it in his shirt. He's a fit dude.

But Djokovic has like a NEGATIVE belly. His shirt goes IN. I almost want to share some of these donuts with the guy, cause I feel like he must just never eat. Yet he has the energy to just zip all over the place, Snoopy style. (Seriously, I think he's the first tennis player who could play against himself like Snoopy does in the Peanuts Thanksgiving special.) I called Djokovic a robot before. But maybe he's an alien?

Hey! Did you know it's like 4 in the morning here in Nashville?! Happy Blogathon!

Djokovic is a robot?

Imagine a Blogathon without Djokovic... I know, right? It's difficult!

And you'd think that, after a solid 10 years or so, we'd see him slowing down by now, maybe not making it to the finals so often. But here, he is in top form and looks as good as I've ever seen him. Now, I know enough to be aware that there are always twists and turns, as the person who starts hot usually hits a rough patch along the way, and we typically end up with pretty long and extremely competitive finals. But so far, Djokovic barely appears to be sweating, winning his serves with relative ease, while making Nadal work extremely hard for wins on his own serve. In his dominating first set win, Djokovic grabbed 20 of 21 service points.

Blogathon 2019: Limerick #3

Nadal is a colorful fellow.
Today he woke up and said, "Hello!
Now what shall I wear?" -
As he tied back his hair -
"Oh! A shirt, shoes, and racket of yellow!"

Five Songs for a Rolex 24 Playlist #2

1. All Girl Summer Fun Band - Car Trouble

2. Presidents of the United States of America - Mach 5

3. The Tigers - GeeTO Tiger

4. Everclear - Speed Racer

5. Dishwalla - Counting Blue Cars

Blogathon 2019: Limerick #2

We're nearly halfway through the race,
And though my car's not in 1st place,
LSU got a win,
I've got donuts again,
And now I know Earnhardt's birthplace!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

24 Hours of Daytona - 6 Hour Update

Uh...we are well past the 6 hour point of the race (8 1/2 hours in, as I write this), so...I am past due for the 1/4th mark update. At 6 hours, our overall top-3 were:

1) #31 Whelen Cadillac (Speedgeek - 6 points)
2) #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac (Mike - 4 points)
3) #6 Penske Acura (Speedgeek - 2 points)

The GTLM top-3:

1) #4 Corvette (Wedge - 3 points)
2) #62 Risi Ferrari (Mike - 2 points)
3) #911 Porsche (Mike - 1 point)

And the GTD top-3:

1) #33 Riley Mercedes AMG (Mike - 3 points)
2) #29 Montplast by Land Audi R8 (Speedgeek - 2 points)
3) #57 Caterpillar Mike Shank Acura NSX (Wedge - 1 point)

And, for the sake of the pick-'em game, we're ignoring the LMP2 cars.

After the first 6 hours, our point totals:

Mike - 10 points
Speedgeek - 10 points
Wedge - 4 points

We'll be back with more updates in a bit!

GBS at the Movies - 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story

Join us here for all the fun! I've never seen this movie, and I know nothing about Dale Earnhardt.

Since LSU/Missouri went to overtime, I'm backing the movie up by 15 minutes. When this clock says 9:15, I'm pressing play... See you soon!


Here we go!


Well, first of all, YouTube bootlegger man spared no expense or pixels when illegally uploading this one!


I'm gonna assume that this movie is to race nerds what that awful 2000 Beach Boys TV movie was for Beach Boys nerds. Produced by Uncle Jessie or not, it was BAD.


It ain't enough not to wreck. Gotta have a car won't quit on you too.


"Grades don't matter on a race track, Daddy." - 34-year-old Barry Pepper


If we did shots for every time his dad has already said he wouldn't be a racer, this Blogathon would be over by now.


Hmmm... Super mean dad telling his son repeatedly that he will never amount to anything, further inspiring the son to prove him wrong and become the biggest star in his field... Wait! I think I accidentally put on that Beach Boys movie!


It feels like the years are going by so fast. Oh wait, it's cause they are! The dialogue in that last scene was like, "Hey." "Hey." "Got him to settle down?" "What about me? Do you need me?" One year later...


I like to think that JK Simmons improvised some of his lines here. He was like, "Hey, I know. What if I tell him right here that he'll never be a man, like I did in the last 13 scenes?" And the director was like, "Yeah! Perfect!"


The winner ain't the guy with the fastest car. It's just the one who refuses to lose. And if he has the fastest car, he can definitely refuse to lose. Cause his car will go really fast.


Son, they can't put it in you. And they can't take it out. I'm not gonna tell you what I think they're talking about in that scene.


Wait if the dad dies, who's gonna spread all this wisdom? Who's gonna tell him he's not a man?


"It's cause you got two families, Dale. You've got us, and you've got..." The other kid he had?? His mom?? "" Dammit. Almost had it.


OK, look. The first THIRD of this movie is baby and baby mama drama! Keep it in you pants, Dale!


How cool would it be if this whacky sidekick guy was actually Kramer instead?


"Who was that idiot in the 96 car?" Sips cheap can beer. Dale quietly sips different cheap can beer. How many awards did this movie win again??


SECOND PLACE IS JUST THE FIRST LOSER. He said it. In a movie full of cliches, they just said the biggest cliche of all time.


OK, I'm just gonna come out and ask it. How many calls do you think were placed to Matthew McConaughey to play this part before settling on Barry?


When he told his kid to drive around and come between him and the rail, he forgot to tell him he'd never be a man!


Somebody scan that QR code up there. I dare you.


Oh man! I knew I recognized this girl. She's the wife in The Santa Clause series, and she was in the recent Purge: Election Year movie.


We just skipped five years. And I don't even care.


Dude is Charles Manson in this Beach Boys movie, or what?


I know I'm being funny here, but I'm also kind of sad that they made this whole movie, and I feel like I'm learning nothing about this guy. I feel like he deserves an actual movie.


I like how he says "school." Skeey-ewl.


"Hey, I'm a musician."

"Really? Have you done anything I've heard before?"

"Yeah! I played all the little guitar licks after every scene in this Dale Earnhardt movie!"


I swear I just don't understand Hollywood. Why is it so hard for them to make decent movies based on true stories?

Barry Pepper in Saving Private Ryan: "Be not that far from me, for trouble is near; O my strength, haste Thee to help me."

Barry Pepper here: "Durr durr durr screwdriver."


Oh man, you know what this movie needs?? Three Doors Down! Oh good, there it is. Perfect.


Crappy movie, crappy movie, crappy movie, halfway decent final scene! Makes sense. Of course, we'll follow it all up with some truly awful music, just to make sure you remember how pathetic this whole display really was.


Well, thanks to SpeedGeek for helping out here. Honestly, as bad as this movie was, it was still way better than every other Blogathon movie, unless Blue Chips was a Blogathon movie of course. I'm gonna actually go read the true story now. Also, YouTube just auto-played something else called "Dale the Movie," which seems much better.

2019 Blogathon Bad Sports Movie Beer

After a brief "Child Bedtime Delay", we are getting set up for our annual Blogathon Bad Sports Movie. This will be a treat. Also a treat: my Official Blogathon Bad Sports Movie Beer. Joining the ranks with a delectable Terrapin Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout from a couple years ago, we have...Shiner S'mores Ale:

So, crack open some S'mores, sit back and enjoy some cinematic excellence.

LSU Miraculously in Overtime Here

I've spent most of the last hour complaining about how poorly my LSU Tigers are playing in Missouri. However, in the last two minutes of the game, LSU cut out a 14-point deficit to send this game to overtime. I think we can take them now. I'm hoping to be in a good mood while suffering through an awful movie!

 Edit: There is Blogathon magic. LSU wins.

Dale Earnhardt vs. Barry Pepper

As we inch closer to this year's terrible sports movie (3: The Dale Earnhardt Story), let's take a look at some known facts in order to compare and contrast the movie's star and its subject.

Dale Earnhardt
Barry Pepper
North Carolina
Has won
76 races
0 Oscars
Typically moustachioed
Helped save Private Ryan

Tune in tonight at 9:00, and stream the movie with us on YouTube to have some fun.

Curling is HEATNG UP!

As many of you (OK, like, both of you who are following us) may have noticed, we have incorporated professional curling into our pick-'em game this year. This is likely due to two items: 1) I took the game up about 10 months ago, and 2) Mike writes a mean curling song. Anyway, we've all selected three each from the teams that are participating in this weekend's Ed Werenich Golden Wrench Classic Presented by The Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen (seriously, this is the actual name) that's going on in Scottsdale, AZ this weekend. Right this minute, there's a titanic Group Round battle going on between Kirk Muyres's team from Saskatoon (Mike has them) vs. Karsten Sturmay's team from Edmonton. Into the second end, Sturmay is up 1 to 0, but Muyres has the hammer.

Curling fever! CATCH IT!

P.S. Also, the Chupacabra car is ON MY TV SCREEN RIGHT NOW, MIKE!!!

Blogathon 2019 Beer #1

Greetings to all from Blogathon West HQ. We're already into the second half of the first hour of the 24 Hours of Daytona, and it's already a cracking good race, with the Acuras chasing the lead Mazda out front, and the second Mazda and Action Express Caddys in hot pursuit. Our 2019 All Racing Fantasy Draft went off without a hitch this morning, in probable record time (125 minutes, first pick to the last), and NBCSN has already made a strong debut with their IMSA coverage with a fantastic graphic package that shows the top cars in every class, with gaps to the leader. It's good times here.

Meanwhile, Blogathon Beer #1 has been opened. Something a little tropical, as a tip of the hat to the good folks down in Florida this weekend...and a tip of the hat to our dude in KC, Tech N9ne:

We'll be checking in periodically here and there, as events dictate (and childless minutes allow). Enjoy!

Five Songs for a Rolex 24 Playlist

1. Gary Numan - Cars

2. Big Star - Back of a Car

3. The Beach Boys - Cherry Cherry Coupe

4. The Zatopeks - We Wanna Cruise Around With You

5. The Rip Chords - Hey Little Cobra

Blogathon 2019: Limerick #1

I know you've heard of Allmendinger.
But did you know he's a good singer?
Catch him at karaoke,
He does "Strokin'" and "Stroke Me"
And Whitesnake and Warrant and Winger!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Blogathon 2019: Pick 'Em Challenge

This is a new post to place the table in here.

Rolex 24
(6-4-2              Prototype
3-2-1               GTLM
classes)          GTD

5, 10, 55

911, 912, 62

86, 33, 71, 11, 9 

31, 6, 85

24, 3, 25

48, 29, 12, 44, 88

7, 77, 84

67, 66, 4

57, 63, 8, 96, 73

6-hour mark     Overall/P



12-hour mark   Overall/P



18-hour mark   Overall/P



24-hour mark   Overall/P
(double points) GTLM



time when Pruett says "hi to family at home" (5, 3, 1)

2:13 pm
4:00 PM EST (He's back!)
2:30pm as he gives the command



NFL Pro Bowl: NFC vs. AFC (5)


Touchdowns (5 minus # incorrect)  -- 4 total

Australian Open
Women's winner (5)


Men's winner (5)








PBC (1)

Booker/de Angel

Basketball (1)

Kansas State at Texas A&M
Texas at Georgia
South Carolina at Oklahoma State
Marquette at Xavier
West Virginia at Tennessee
Vanderbilt at Oklahoma
South Florida at East Carolina
Kansas at Kentucky
Arkansas at Texas Tech
LSU at Missouri
     LSU✓ LSU✓
Tulane at SMU
Syracuse at Virginia Tech
Arizona State at USC
Utah at California
Colorado at Stanford
Auburn at Mississippi State
Arizona at UCLA
Georgetown at St. John's
Rose Hulman at Transylvania (men)
Rose Hulman at Transylvania (women)
Marshall at USM
Spurs at Pelicans
Pacers at Grizzlies
Warriors at Celtics
76ers at Nuggets

Curling (1)

Quarters (1)  Semis (2)
Finals (3)  Win (5)
Yuta Matsumura (x)
Reid Carruthers (6)
Jason Gunnlaughson

Kirk Muyres 
Karsten Sturmay (1)
Rich Ruohonen

Jim Cotter
Fred Maxie
Jeremy Harty
Soccer/Futbol (1)

Cruz Azul/Tijuana
       TJ CA
Guingamp/Stade de Reims
Excelsior/De Graafschap
Dock Sud/Ituzaingó
D (T)
I (T)
I (T)
Crystal Palace/Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea/Sheffield Wednesday
Caykur Rizespor/Akhisar Belediyespor