Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Maybe I suck; but I'll be back

Fortune cookies lie to us. Those little rectangular slips of paper impart nothing but vaguely encouraging but highly unlikely possibility. And we know it.

They never read, "That cough might be cancer," "the newspaper industry has lost its way," or "you'll struggle to maintain a barely middle-class existence." That might kill business at the Golden Dragon, anyway.

But after I'd indulged in a First Workless Monday of the Rest of My Life wallow at my local Chinese place, almost exactly 72 hours after my editor at the St. Petersburg Times called me into a boardroom, told me I was doing well, was liked, bright and laid off effective now, the little gem above was the first thing I'd smiled at in awhile.

I've been heartened every day since by the literally dozens of emails, texts and calls from my friends. I thank you all very much for that.
Sadly, I still find myself right in the sweet spot of the rage phase - depression and acceptance are getting impatient - which might explain how I was able to power-wash the back deck in record time this morning. The garage may need sweeping again, now that I think about it. And the rake still isn't hanging right.
I'll resist the urge to lash out. I'll save that for late-night beer bottle-throwing against the fence.
But I'll say this: that fortune cookie goddamn nailed it. See you soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Biffle didn't mind Tom Logano's finger as much as Joey Logano's alleged thumbed nose

Greg Biffle said on Thursday that Tom Logano's obscene gesture toward him on pit road after a Nationwide race last week was overblown.
Logano, the father of 19-year-old Sprint Cup driver Joey Logano, has not been reissued his permanent "hard card" credential by NASCAR following the incident at Fontana, Calif. He's been granted a weekend pass for racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Biffle seemed far less offended by Tom Logano's flipped finger than Joey Logano's perceived dismissiveness in a chat about their on-track scuffle two weeks ago at Kansas Speedway. Biffle said he probably shouldn't have run into Logano in the race last week, but said Logano needs to learn respect.
"I think you need to pay a little more respect to the veterans in the sport," Biffle said. "He chopped down in front of Tony Stewart at Dover (in the Sprint Cup race) and that didn't work out for him. And I was pretty angry over (their contact at Kansas). And so I just squeezed him out of room (at Fontana). I didn't run him into the fence on purpose. I just meant to put a little squeeze on him like he did to me at Kansas. I had nowhere to go. I had absolutely nowhere to go. I wanted to put him in that situation and see what he thought about having nowhere to go. ... We made more contact than I certainly expected."
Logano won both races.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It seemed like a good idea at the time

A group of young females dressed all in black, sporting 80s-vintage oversized dark sunglasses and mustaches were handing out invites to a Dale Earnhardt "champagne toast" hosted by his widow Teresa Earnhardt on Wednesday night. Wondering if she signed off on this?
Indeed, yes. The motif is the hook of a new Dale Earnhardt Foundation ad campaign featuring the tagline, "Everyone's got a little Dale in them."
At the reception in the presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton on Wednesday night, Teresa Earnhardt admitted she'd even tried on one the mustaches when the idea was being spit-balled.

Petty: Pearson got shafted; other pioneers deserve more credit for sport's development

Richard Petty was a virtual certainly for inclusion in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's inaugural class.
All-time wins leader, 200.
Co-all-time championships leader, seven.
But Petty seemed almost reticent in being named to that exclusive five-man group on Wednesday, especially when it came at the expense of the sport's pioneers not named France and his friend and foil, David Pearson.
"As far a I was concerned, when I saw the list of the deal I sat down and made a list of my own and Pearson would have been my number one pick," Petty said. "Look at all he accomplished. He came up in the early 60s as I did. We drove a bunch of cars that probably weren't near as safe or wasn’t near as good as what some of the later guys came up in.
"Anyone who 105 races and didn’t make the cut, somebody ain’t adding right."
Pearson, a three-time champion, was among the three top vote-getters not among the inductees, according to NASCAR. He said he wasn't upset by the omission, abut lacked his usual swagger.
"I told them before that I always heard they wanted Junior (Johnson) in there. Of course, you know that (Dale) Earnhardt and (Richard) Petty would be in there," he said. "When I saw that the two Frances (founder, Bill Sr., and son and former CEO, Bill, Jr.) were in there, I knew I didn't have a chance."
Current NASCAR chairman Brian France said he was "surprised, but very, very proud" that his family comprised two-fifths of the first class, noting the effort his grandfather and father used to build, then transform the sport into a major league. League spokesman Jim Hunter said that while the moment would have been a proud one for both Frances, Bill Jr., likely might have preferred to defer to a driver "because he said the promoters behind the scenes are not the ones who pay the bills, it's the actors up on the stage."
Richard Petty, though admittedly pleased at his impending induction, suggested his spot should have gone to his father, Lee, a three-time series champion who is ninth on the all-time wins list with 54. That selection would have satisfied his desire to see both a driver and pioneer enshrined.
"Without Lee Petty there probably wouldn’t have been a whole lot of what NASCAR is today," he said. "And he’s not the only one. There were a bunch of guys who came along at that time. If they hadn’t went and sacrificed and done their deal, then Richard Petty would never have been able to accomplish what he accomplished because there wouldn’t have been anything there for him."
Petty credited Harold Brasington's investment in building Darlington Raceway and the hosting of NASCAR's first 500-mile event in 1950 with the emergence of superspeedways on the sport's schedule.
"You think he didn’t gamble on that?," Petty asked. "Those are the people I think maybe should have been looked at a little bit harder.
"Some of us that made it, we've been in the limelight 15-20 years. What about those guys in the limelight 50-60 years ago which really made it all happen?"

Hall of Fame rounding into massive venue

NASCAR Hall of Fame officials led a tour of the new, as-yet-incomplete megafacility on Wednesday before the announcement of the members of the first class. It's still naked down to the drywall and wiring, but it portends to be a stunning venue. Think hall of fame meets museum, meets X-Box, meets Best Buy audio visual department.

One of the most popular spots is sure to be "Glory Road," a massive rotunda with a simulated track wrapped around the outer wall that mimicks the banking at several races.

Seen here, the entry way to "Glory Road."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Montoya: 'when I’m racing it’s all about me'

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya still contends with the notion that everything he does in NASCAR either reflects upon or promotes the cause of Latin Americans in NASCAR, American culture, the universe beyond. Danica Patrick faced much the same scrutiny when she became just the fifth woman to enter the Indianapolis 500. Certainly, their presence in regimens traditionally dominated by white males is a novelty, a curiosity, and possibly an exploitable resource for marketers and promoters.
Sure, Canadians and Californians have fielded questions about how their success could generate interest in NASCAR back home, but the continued line of reasoning seems just a little obtuse in the cases of Montoya and Patrick.

But they've handled it the same. It's about them. All the rest is a bonus. And they're right.

Said Montoya recently:

"It’s great that I’m a Latino. It’s great that people are paying attention to what I’m doing. It’s great I come here and set an example for children. I have a foundation with my wife and we give to charity. We try to keep the kids in school and off the streets and give them things. All of those things are great, and I do that in my time off, but when I’m racing it’s all about me. It’s whatever it takes to get the job done. When I’m racing hard and I’ve got a chance to win, I’m not thinking, 'Oh, the Latinos are going to be so happy when I win this race.' I’m going to be happy when I win this race. It’s great that I can bring the Colombian name out and the Latinos out and show people it doesn’t matter where you’re from if you can get the job done, whatever you want to do. But it doesn’t mean I live by them."

Photo courtesy NASCAR