February 27, 2006

F1: why?

Recently, I've been exchanging e-mails with a long-time friend of mine. While we've known each other since grade school, in recent years we've mutually fallen off each other's maps (hey, it happens to the best of friends!), and other than about six hours total of visiting the past two summers, it's probably fair to say that we're out of the loop on each other's hobbies and pasttimes (and other things, too... he had no idea about my October Cardiac Event, for example).

So anyway, He Who Shall Remain Nameless Until He Comments On The Pond and I were e-mailing, and he brought up Formula 1 (logical, since he glanced at The Pond), and how he knew little about it (other than he thought of them as "Indycars," and NASCAR as "muscle cars"... which isn't all that far from the truth, actually).

Which got me to wondering... why do I enjoy F1 so much? I think I figured it out while I was munching on some sweet & sour chicken (not so good, but it was better than a couple of granola bars for dinner).

It's different.

Which, I admit, sounds really weak. But consider: Grand Prix racing has been around for 100 years (LeMans, France... they're throwing a Centennial event this year during the French GP, which might actually make this year's race worth watching), but here in the US, it barely makes a ripple in the racing waters.

NASCAR gets the lion's share of attention over here, with Indycar/CART garnering the rest, and F1 barely getting noticed, even during the USGP (last year not withstanding). Those of us who are F1 fans are something of an elite (l337?) group, in other words... because there are so few of us around.

Lets face it, deep inside all of us, there's a little place that's proud to be fans of something nobody's ever heard of. Official First Reader Mallory and myself formed the unofficial Zsolt Baumgartner fan club, for heaven's sake... if that isn't "something nobody's ever heard of," I don't know what is!

Yes, F1 is the most technically advanced form of motorsport on the planet, with the cars being more closely akin to jet fighters than to my Camry. Yes, the drivers are probably the best on the planet (insert Jordan joke here). Yes, the tracks are often the most challenging around (note: lose Hungaroring, please). And, yes, the locales are exotic and far-flung (like... um... Indianapolis).

But, darn it, it's FUN to be unique, too. And F1 Fandom here in the US is certainly that... I'd be willing to bet that the most knowledgable US racefan, when asked to name as many F1 drivers as he can, would say "Schumacher... um... er...."

So, yeah, there's a bit of elitism involved. But, durn it, the sport is so cool, too.

I'm rambling, and I have no idea how to finish this entry. Nothing to see here, move along.

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February 26, 2006

"Welcome to Bahrain: Don't Blink, You'll Miss It!"

Earlier, I was looking for Bahrain on my 4" diameter globe... and I couldn't find it. Now, I'm pretty good at geography, but this was odd. I mean, this globe, small though it is, shows Monaco, shows Slovenia/Croatia/Bosnia/Serbia AND prints the names to boot, even though they're jammed into a space smaller than the end of a Pocky stick, heck it even shows Azerbajan... and shows the full spelling, too. On a tiny little globe!

So why no Bahrain on this thing? And then I looked Bahrain up.

Someone once said "There's no there there." I think they were talking about Cleveland, but they may as well have been talking about Bahrain. It's situated just off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf... and covers a grand total land area of 665 square kilometers.

That's about three times the size of Washington, D.C.

The distance around the perimeter of Bahrain is 161 km. The F1 race length is just over 308 km. "Hey, twice around the country, loser buys the drinks!"

Two weeks and counting... I can't wait!

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February 22, 2006

Klein's Bar Fight.

Klein Denies Nightclub Scuffle

Christian Klein yelled "Red Bull for everybody... it's on me!" A weak cheer went up from the people gathered around the bar.

As he drained another can of the energy drink, he noticed a dark figure sitting in the corner of the bar. Disengaging himself from the pneumatic blonde that had wrapped herself around his arm, Klein stood and walked over. "You're not drinking, friend. Here," he said, putting a Red Bull on the table. "Enjoy, it's good for you."

"...it gives you wings," quoted the seated the dark man. "It gave YOU a drive. How good could it be?"

Klein, confused, said "Uhm... uhh... er...."

"Just give away cans of the stuff, and everybody'll love you, right?" The dark figure viciously swept the can off his table and stood. "Meanwhile, real drivers lose out when your boys buy up all the teams. And they still gave you a ride... their own Austrian ubermench, that's you."

"Uhh... I think I'll be going now," said Klein.

"Scuderia Torro Rosso, what the h*ll sort of name is that? You idiots took away the last chance I had to drive in F1, and now you want to give me a can of your precious energy drink? Pfaugh," spat the dark man. "I'll show you energy. I'll show you how a real driver works."

"Wait, I know you... you're..."

Klein never saw the fist that decked him, or the kicks that made his ribs groan, or the blows that broke his hands.

The next morning, Klein awoke, wondering how he'd explain this to his superiors. Then he saw his face in the mirror, and knew it just got more difficult. There, on his forehead, was carved the letter "Z."

Baumgartner was back... and he was angry.

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February 15, 2006

Super Aguri names their drivers!

Took 'em long enough... the season only starts in 21 days, after all. Anyway, the expected Takuma Sato is the primary driver, and former Formula Nissan driver Yuji Ide the secondary.

I put the over/under on points for SA this season at 6.

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February 14, 2006

22 days and counting...

...and then I don't have to come up with stuff to write about anymore! The F1 Circus will start it's annual world tour, yayyyyyy!

Of course, we know about Spa being dead this year, but now we're beginning to find out that Hockenheim may be on its last leg as well. Good job, Bernie! Kill off the good tracks, leave France and Hungary untouched.

Next up, Silverstone... the track that Darth Bernie despises. I'm not sure why, exactly, but if Silverstone fell off the planet, he'd not be sad at all. Probably because of Sir Jackie's pants.

Ah well. At least we've got Daytona on Sunday.

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February 10, 2006

Gee... that's purty!

All right, I'm doing things out of order from how I expected. Today is news of F1... more specifically, the new McLaren paintjob.

Take last year's white & black livery (seen here), add a splash of red...

...then turn the white to CHROME...

...and the result is THIS: the hottest looking car on the track. I had thought the Midland MF1 was going to take the honors this year... I was wrong.

The Johnny Walker logo seems to hearken back to the era of the old John Player Special logos of the '70s, too...

People often have said "If it looks good, it is good." I dunno if that's the case, but if nothing else McLaren have gotten the first part down pat.

(thanks to grandprix.com for the picture)

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February 08, 2006

Swimming Pool is OFF!

Now, once again, the Belgian 200m Breaststroke Grand Prix at the Swimming Pool at Spa-Francoamerican is officially off!!!

Check grandprix.com for the article, I'm taking a quick break from inventory to post this.

Boo-hiss!

(update: the link to the grandprix.com article is HERE. The Belgian National Sporting Authority apparantly pulled the plug on it, in effect saying 'if we race there, someone's gonna die.' Track won't be ready. *sigh*)

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February 05, 2006

Swimming Pool Saved!

The official F1 event calendar came out this weekend... and there were no surprises on it. Except one.

The Belgian 100m Freestyle GP at Spa-Francopants is on the calendar.

This despite the fact that the track will supposedly be unfit for racing in September... I dunno what Darth Bernie is thinking, but kudos, really, to him for saving the Swimming Pool and keeping it on the calendar. All kidding about "swimming pools" and "lake track" and the like, Spa is one of the truly legendary circuits on the schedule (along with Monte Carlo, the Nurburgring, Monza, and others) and losing it would put a big hole in the F1 Experience.

Besides, who can forget the image of Vitantonio Liuzzi lapping whilst wearing a life-preserver last year?

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