Tagged: Auto racing

Trying to spend today watching auto racing, emphasis on word “trying.” 

Well, after starting the day watching the Grand Prix of Bahrain won by Lewis Hamilton, I tried to watch the NASCAR Food City 500 race from Bristol, TN today, but unfortunately the weather has not co-operated and we are in a rain delay. Anyway, that’s fine, it frees up my afternoon — and all the other race fans’ afternoons — to tune in to the IndyCar race going on in Long Beach

Makes me wish I were in California. Oh, and as an aside, it is now officially safe to travel again to Southern California because the measles epidemic is over.

Update: Good news, we got the race in!

Lewis Hamilton wins the F1 title. Now it’s on to the offseason for auto racing fans.

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The worst part about the end of the Saskatchewan Roughriders CFL season last week is that I cannot tune in to auto racing anymore as “alternative programming.” The NASCAR season ended last week at the same time, and now the F1 season is done, too, with the win today by champion Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi.

As an aside, why is it that the F1 racetracks in places like Abu Dhabi, China, Singapore et. al. look so good on TV? These places look like they are loaded with money, just based on the racetracks. The tracks look like spaceports, practically — they spared absolutely no expense.

That’s what I like about F1 — its excessive opulence compared to these other second-class competitions out there.

Unfortunately, I’ll have to put my interest in fast cars on ice for the next while because that’s pretty much it for auto racing for 2014. Time for me to move on to all the other football full-time.

Sports rants: thoughts on two Texas auto races, plus the World Series TV ratings

I am wasting this snow-filled day at home watching sports on TV. After catching the end of the Aston Villa-Tottenham soccer game, I am now tuned to NFL and CFL football until the start of the auto races later today.

Yes, there are two big races going against one another this afternoon, and both are in Texas. One is the United States Grand Prix from Austin, while the other is the NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Fort Worth. USA Today did a whole piece on how these two Texas races are up against each other. Personally, I think this is terrible for the fans, especially the ones in Texas.

Seriously, there are race fans who would have wanted to attend both races, and there are 52 weeks of the year in which to avoid a conflict. But these organizers forgot to look at the calendar, and so, instead of attending both of these races on separate dates, the race fans in Texas must either pick one or the other. This is going to drive down the attendance at both races, in my view.

It also stinks for me because I finally have a free weekend to be able to watch auto racing, after I spent last weekend working, and after going to a Riders game the weekend before. But now I am going to have to pick which one of these races to watch live.

Well, I’m going to watch Formula 1, because I don’t get an opportunity to do enough of that anyway, but the glitz and glamor of F1 is more my style than what you get from these good ol’ boys, these deep Southerners, in NASCAR anyway. Besides, the F1 race should be over before the NASCAR one, so I should be able to catch that one, too.

Also, I should comment some more on the TV ratings for the World Series that just ended. I notice the usual “baseball is dying” stories are out there again, with the Daily Caller the latest to declare the sport unpopular and in decline, declaring the audience as too old.

In truth, Game Seven between the Royals and the Giants got a big audience, but admittedly, these sorts of ratings don’t happen for baseball very often. I know it absolutely drives baseball people crazy when some ordinary regular-season NFL game on a Sunday or Monday night gets better ratings than the World Series.

And yet, a lot of people who have written about this point to the fact that the regional TV ratings for baseball are excellent. This is exactly the problem. Lots of these writers are saying baseball has become too regional a sport: people care about their local area teams, but they couldn’t care less about most of the other teams.

Part of the problem is the national media, who seem to fawn over a small number of big-market teams, like the Yankees and Red Sox as a really good example. But you’d never know the Minnesota Twins or the Colorado Rockies existed based on the coverage they get. As for the San Francisco Giants, they are particularly ignored year in and year out by the national media because they’re on the West Coast and their games are too late to get on the nightly highlight shows. It’s a lazy excuse, but that is what’s happened with them.

As a result, no one knows who Madison Bumgarner is, and no one cares about the Giants, a team that’s won the World Series three of the last five years!

With the NFL, their whole TV approach is totally different, with their national TV deals aimed at having fans care about the entire league, not just the local team. It seems like every team in the league gets on national TV at least once, no matter how bad they are — including even the crummy Detroit Lions every year on Thanksgiving.

Because there’s coverage of pretty much every team, a SF-KC game in the NFL becomes one people will watch and care about. But in MLB, with their focus on regional TV deals, and with the national media focused mainly on the major market East Coast teams, the local fans will have already lost interest the moment their team was eliminated — so a SF-KC matchup in the World Series becomes one they don’t care much about.

It’s not just Major League Baseball that has this problem — the NHL has the exact same issue in the USA (though people in Canada will watch any hockey game anywhere, I notice.) Also, I notice it’s getting to be a real problem with the CFL where people seem to care only about their local teams (ie. Saskatchewan) but increasingly could care less about any of the others.

Anyway, it would really help baseball if there were more attempts to showcase the other teams in the league on a national basis. They need to step up their national presence in a bigger way than what they have been doing. MLB needs to do more to market and hype up the whole month of October similar to the NCAA’s approach to basketball’s “March Madness.” That seems like a good plan to me, because honestly, most people couldn’t name most of the players in March Madness. Yet they still watch, just because it’s the NCAA Tourney.

I think this is a strategy worth pursuing. Seriously, this year’s playoffs were excellent, and there is no reason baseball couldn’t do better with its ratings in the future. They might as well hype it up and try and get people more excited about it. Anyway, those are my thoughts, and that’s all for the moment.

A very rain-soaked and tragic F1 race in Japan

Well, after that 18-inning playoff baseball game yesterday, I decided I was not done watching sports on TV, so I stayed up late to watch the Formula 1 race from Japan live.

Like a scene out of the movie Rush, this race was completely rain-soaked due to the typhoon approaching the country. Conditions were so bad they had to red-flag it early on, and then when they re-started the race, the lousy weather was obviously not conducive to good racing, or for that matter good spectating. So this racing fan finally gave up in frustration and went to bed.

Unfortunately, the F1 teams and organizers didn’t give up. They probably should have, because there was a big wreck later in the race and racer Jules Bianchi was seriously injured with a head injury.

That incident marred the entire race and put an early end to the proceedings. The recap of the day here.

Now, just watch as the Americans once again do what they usually do, and use this incident as their big launching-pad to call for auto racing to be banned now, along with football. It wouldn’t surprise me.

The Honda Indy in Toronto is a big rain-soaked mess

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This has been a big week of auto racing for me personally. I went to the Canadian Tire series race in Saskatoon this week (and even wrote a story about it), and then this weekend I was hoping to tune in to the Honda Indy races in Toronto on TV during any downtime from my reporting assignments. But it has been weather-plagued from beginning to end.

Yesterday, the rain was so bad that not only did Will Power wipe out, but even the pace car was wiping out too. So they postponed the first race to earlier today, won by Sebastien Bourdais.

Now the second of the two races is running, and the rain is falling again in Toronto. The race just went under caution because Juan Pablo Montoya’s car wiped out and landed on driver Mikhail Aleshin’s head. Literally, his head.

Now the race is back on, but it is just a rain fest down there. All I have to say is that these are miserable conditions for the fans. I used to like going to the Indy in Toronto back in the day, but what I really liked was the good weather at those events! Rain and auto racing just do not mix — for the fans, and especially the drivers. Too bad.

Before anyone starts to blame Mayor Rob Ford for the weather problems at the Indy, keep in mind weather is a federal responsibility. (That is a very old joke.)

NOW, AN UPDATE ON THAT SCARY INDYCAR CRASH IN HOUSTON INVOLVING DARIO FRANCHITTI

This was not a good weekend for auto racing. We saw back-to-back Indycar races at the Grand Prix of Houston and it was in the second race that we almost lost Dario Franchitti.

In a scary incident at the end of the race the former Indy 500 champ’s car went airborne and hit the fence, smashing into pieces. The crash was so scary and Franchitti’s car was such a wreck that people were genuinely fearing for the guy’s life.

Fortunately the word came back soon after from owner Chip Ganassi that Franchitti was “going to be OK” — although I suppose that is really auto racing language for “he’s going to live” or “he’s not dead.”

In any event, Franchitti broke his back and suffered a concussion. 13 fans were also injured from the debris – reminding me of the incident in Daytona in NASCAR this year when there was also a big end-of-the-race wreck on the track, prompting debris to be hurled right into the grandstand.

Fortunately, nobody died in either incident, but that shows you the risks of auto racing even for those fans in attendance.

That is why whenever I go to an auto race I always try and stay far away from the fences. Even so, there are no guarantees when it comes to situations when debris flies right over top of them.

This has been a bad year in general for auto racing injuries and deaths, with a NASCAR driver dying and a racer being killed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Indycar itself has had a terrible recent history after what happened a couple of seasons ago at Las Vegas when Dan Wheldon was killed. This latest incident is going to prompt another round of discussion about safety concerns, for sure, though I notice some talk out there that maybe some of the recent safety changes may, in fact, have saved peoples’ lives down in Houston on Sunday.

In any event, it’s another reminder about the risks associated with auto racing in general and with Indycar in particular. Scary business.

ON THIS, AMERICA’S DAY OF AUTO RACING, TONY KANAAN HAS FINALLY WON THE INDY 500

NORTH KOREA ANTICS, CYPRUS CHAOS, AND THE REST OF THE NEWS FROM NOWHERE

Welcome to the “World is Going to Heck” edition of News from Nowhere. Seriously, what is going on? Financial chaos, tinpot dictators, Jarome Iginla traded — you name it.

First I want to talk about the financial mess in Cyprus, with the bank accounts being raided by up to 40 percent to bail the country out. The banks are now back open but under tight controls.

I don’t know nearly enough about this mess because I’m too busy covering provincial balanced budgets in our recession-free jurisdiction (what recession?), but all I have to say is this is not the kind of thing that is going to inspire confidence in the banking system. Banks ought to be places where you have confidence in placing your deposits there. If you put your money in a bank and then lose a hefty chunk of it because of other peoples’ incompetence and bad decisions, why bother putting money in a bank? You’re better off hiding it under the bed.

Next I want to talk about Kim Jong-un, the crazed dictator of North Korea who has been busy tearing up peace agreements with South Korea and threatening all week to attack the United States. So far the Americans are treating this guy like an annoying bug who deserves to be squashed, but isn’t.   

Obviously this calls for some shuttle diplomacy, from the hilarious Dennis Rodman.

Seriously, though, I worry this nut Kim could do some serious damage and inadvertently start World War III. Hopefully this latest sabre-rattling will end the same way all the previous sabre-rattling ended, with nothing happening, but I have to wonder.   

Other news:

Lots of rumors going around that Jay Leno could be leaving the Tonight Show to be replaced by Jimmy Fallon.  

As well, the possibility is that the show could end up moving back to New York after, oh, 40-some years in beautiful southern California. Word is the show could move to take advantage of some New York film-and-TV tax credits. 

I have to say — wow, wouldn’t this be Leno’s final come-uppance after what happened to his other rivals over the years. Still, nothing’s official yet and we will keep you posted on this developing situation.

The other thing I have to say is why don’t we do something here in Saskatchewan like what New York is doing with film and TV tax credits? Then maybe we’d be in the running for Jimmy Fallon.

Ha ha ha — my big unfunny joke of the day. Right now we’re barely in the running to attract Punxsutawney Phil, let alone any TV shows.

Did you hear about the story about that Ohio prosecutor who wanted to have Phil criminally indicted for his lousy early spring prediction? And then some handler for Phil fell on his sword and took responsibility for “misinterpreting” Phil’s prediction? I don’t buy it.

Phil got it wrong and and this is nothing short of a cover-up. Phil should go to jail. All these groundhogs need to spend some time in the slammer for getting all our hopes up. Right now it’s still minus temperatures where I am, not to mention plenty of snow, and in fact the forecasters here say it’s going to be cold next week, too. We’re going to be seeing minus temperatures in April. This weather here is terrible. Anyway, it’s too bad the indictment was dropped, because Phil is a fraud and he should go to jail.

In other legal news, the Jodi Arias murder trial continues to lurch and get great ratings for HLN, and this is where you can find out all the latest and be caught up. Mind you, I have not been able to follow much of the trial due to my work commitments. So I have plenty of catching up to do myself.

The trades are ramping up in advance of the trading deadline in the NHL next week, and the biggest one just happened this week as Jarome Iginla has been traded from Calgary to Pittsburgh. 

Of course, TSN ended up with egg on its face when they reported all day Wednesday that Iginla was going to go to the Bruins. It turns out the Bruins were definitely in the running, but the deal never got done.

While this was going on our local Saskatoon Blades were melting down in Medicine Hat. And with the  Swift Current Broncos also punted in Calgary last night, it means the WHL playoffs are over for all the teams in Saskatchewan.

All I have to say is the Blades’ performance this week was a disgrace and yet another humiliation inflicted on the hockey fans of Saskatoon. People should definitely be fired over this. What is stranger still is the fact that the Blades will play again in the Memorial Cup tournament in May, just because they are hosting the tournament. That’s the only reason they are there – they’re certainly not there on merit. If the Blades wind up winning the Cup after this week’s debacle, you can bet the knives will also be out to change the Memorial Cup format.

In horse racing news, the Dubai World Cup runs Saturday and here is a Forbes article talking more about that richest race in the world. 

In auto racing, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe is a national hero now after winning in St. Petersburg, and the NASCAR race in Fontana ended in wild Mike Tyson-fight fashion. In golf, his win in Bay Hill means Tiger Woods is back on top — likely due to his love life picking up again. What Lindsey Vonn sees in this guy, I don’t know.

Finally in Saskatchewan news, bye bye to retiring CBC Saskatchewan news anchor Costa Maragos. His final newscast was Thursday evening and you can read more about his final day here and about his appearance on the Morning Edition show that morning.

That is all for now.