Curtis Turner for 2016 HOF

Curtis Turner for 2016 HOF

Friday, December 31, 2010

Ethanol Odds and Ends

I was going to write a piece about ethanol but The Daly Planet beat me to it.
So I’ll just add a few things I’ve found regarding ethanol.
E-15, unfortunately. is also part of a Federal law. The Renewable Fuels Mandate is mandating more alcohol mixed into gasoline, and sadly, it even destroys small engines too. NASCAR is having to buy the E15 that's part of this stupid law. So don’t think they’re doing this out of the goodness of their hearts or for their genuine concern for the environment. One thing that was mentioned to me was that it shouldn’t cause any problems with the fuel lines. If the lines are purged both before and after the race with gasoline like the Indy cars do, then it won’t be a problem. But once again, will NA$CAR and the team owners ensure that the purging is done? And even if the lines are purged, you still have all the ethanol that’s trapped in the sponge-like material inside the fuel cell. So the problem with the NA$CAR vehicles isn’t totally solved unless the fuel cells are broken apart, the inside materials removed, and then replaced by fresh material. Just think of how much cost that will add up to after a 36 race season. Not to mention how much gasoline will be used in the purging process. Not very “green” is it?

By the time the grain is planted, grown, harvested, and made into ethanol, that it takes about 1,600 gallons of water to make a gallon of alcohol. Not so good when you consider water run-off from fertilizers, some of which use petroleum by-products, and especially not so good if they’re doing this in an area where there’s a water shortage, like southern California for example.
E-85, ethanol, biobutenal, etc, contain alcohol which requires use of ColdFire or similar special agents to put out fires, since they burn much differently. I’ve seen footage of alcohol fueled cars on fire and outside of the waves of heat produced by the burning alcohol, the flame itself is not visible. Some of the drivers did the old “stop, drop, and roll” because they were on fire despite the flames not being visible. It took a fireman who was closer to the driver than the wrecked race vehicle to realize what was going on and he extinguished the flames on the driver. Are NA$CAR’s all volunteer firemen at each track going to be able to extinguish the ethanol flames or to recognize the fact that a vehicle or driver is burning? A dedicated traveling safety crew would like what the IndyCar Series uses. And since there don't seem to be any provisions right now for a fireman in each pit stall, what NA$CAR should do is take the former catchcan personnel and have them spray water or ColdFire on the the fuel inlet and overflow valves to reduce the odds of a fire on pit road after refueling takes place.  

Ethanol also is creating a lot of problems with outboard motors and well as two stroke engines, like dirt bikes, weedeaters, and other products. One thing that’s mentioned in the link is the problems that ethanol pose to aviation fuel and why it can’t be used. The problem being that of water, which I stated before. In aircraft, the water will freeze in the fuel lines causing the aircraft to run out of fuel and if the pilot isn’t good or lucky enough, the plane will crash. Ethanol also increases the risk of injury to the passengers in the event of a fire because they cannot readily see the flames and avoid them.

The late Don Hamm and myself were checking our gas mileage after the switch came to the current E-10 ethanol mix. I lost 4-6 mpg. That may not sound like a lot but when you’re driving 700 miles one way that 4-6 mpg can be the difference between me arriving safely at my dad’s home or running out of fuel on I-95 in the middle of the Okefenokee Swamp. If we’re forced to use E-15, we’ll lose about another 2-3 mpg. This means a loss of 6-9 mpg if and when E-15 becomes mandatory for passenger vehicles. So just how is that saving fuel and the environment when you’re having to burn up more of it? It’s not.
Then there’s a question nobody in the media seems to want to ask. Ethanol is being passed off as an American product. Is it really an American product made totally from American alcohol mixed with American petroleum, which would make it an American product, or is it American alcohol mixed with Saudi petroleum products, which would make it an American-Saudi product? In order for it to be a totally American product, the petroleum would have to come from Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Texas, or California. And having done some reading of the Wall Street Journal, I haven’t found where there’s been an increase in the production of American crude to be used to make this supposed American ethanol.
Here’s hoping everyone has a great 2011 and always keep our service members in your prayers because without them we wouldn’t have the freedoms that we do.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Harlow and Joe Short Stories

Today we have 2 short stories about Harlow and Joe regarding a trip to Charlotte and Martinsville. The first includes their buddy Gene. As fans, I'm sure we've probably seen at least one person like Gene in the grandstands. Perhaps today it would be somebody yelling "Junior". The second story is about fan adoration. I have been at Martinsville when a politician showed up with his entourage shaking hands and trying to be seen with every driver in the garage area. For a 1/2 mile track in a small town, it sure holds a lot of political importance.


Time for my last stories about our race trips and I'll start off with two short ones about a trip to Charlotte and Martinsville. We took some trips to Charlotte on a bus with about 30 other people which at the time was the best way to travel because the bus ride and seat ticket only cost $35 and you had no worry's dealing with traffic and we all could drink which leads to this story. On a trip to Charlotte which was in June at this time and hot as a boiler room all of us were having a good time on the way back home and this one person named Gene (who looked so much like Santa) was getting pretty gassed because his favorite Richard Petty had won that day and every time he took a drink he would yell “King Richard did it again”. Gene was really sensitive in his neck and if touched he would jump like a bee had stung him and every time he yelled “King Richard”, the guy behind him touched his neck and Gene jumped.

As luck had it that day the toilet on the bus stopped working so the driver stopped and all of us relieved ourselves wherever we could find a place far off the road and this one place was overlooking a 50 foot drop from the top of a bank. Well there were at least 10 of us, including Gene, standing at the top of this hill taking a whiz and Gene has a grip on his beer with one hand and whizzing with the other when he cut loose with his King Richard yell again lost his balance (which is easy to do when you're drunk) and fell down this 50 foot drop still holding on to his beer and tool. When we could stop laughing we went down the hill after Gene and all he said was “Don't worry I'm alright” so we got him up, helped him up the bank, and on the bus and that was the end of the King Richard yelling. Every time we saw Gene in the lounge we all hollered King Richard and Gene would let loose with a “Hell yeah I'll drink to that”.


Harlow and I decided one Saturday to drive over to Martinsville to watch a modified race and when we got our seats and were watching the parade lap of visitors one couple was a well known movie star named Liz and her hubby at the time named John (former Senator John Warner of Virginia-MM) and they were campaigning for John's run for the senate. I was talking to a guy next to me when I noticed everyone was laughing and looked around and Harlow was gone. The guy next to me pointed out Harlow hanging off of the fence waving at Liz and yelling "Oh Liz can I be next" and she was waving back laughing and grinning like a mule chewing briars. That was another one of those “never a dull moment” time's. Joe

Friday, December 24, 2010

On The Road To Rockingham with Harlow and Joe

Joe’s been a race fan since the 1960’s and has been going to a number of races with Harlow Reynolds, a man who’s a legend among some fans and drivers from the good old days and is friends with some of the greats like David Pearson, Rex White, and the Wood Brothers. Joe’s agreed to write a few stories about some of the road trips that he’s taken with Harlow and some of his friends to give us old fans some fond memories of the good old days and to give the newer fans some idea of what it use to be like going to the races and some idea of what they missed.
Here's the first story of our race trip's and this one start's in the 70's headed to Rockingham. Harlow myself and Charles left Lynchburg on a Saturday about midday headed for Rockingham to see the race and be in the parade lap's before it started, We all had a change of clothes, booze and a room waiting at a motel about a half hours drive from the track, on the way Harlow asked us if we were hungry and of course we both said yes and thought we were going to stop at a burger joint but Harlow spotted a mom and pop store and pulled over goes in and comes out with a 10 pack of hotdogs and a 16oz block of cheese which we passed among us. Back on the road drinking vodka eating chunks of cheese and raw hotdogs (you know the saying anything taste's good when you're starving) Harlow asked for another hotdog which Charles handed him and I decided I wanted another piece of cheese but Charles tells me there's none left because he had finished 3 quarter's of the block off along with 5 raw hotdogs and washed it down with almost half a fifth of vodka. We finally arrived at the motel around nine that night and go in to register Charles was feeling no pain or anything else while sitting in a chair in the lobby and asked me where his checkbook was because he had decided this place is nice so he was going to buy it. We got charles out of the chair and found our room on the upper level of the motel and decided to take a shower before we go down to the dance club in the motel. Harlow finished his shower and i took mine and charles wouldn't take one because he felt he didn't need to sober up before wobbling down to the club. We spent some time in the club ordered drinks and by this time Charles was getting numb so after Harlow looked over the women in the club and decided he couldn't find his "next victim" to be the love of his life we decided to head back to our room but on the way we spotted the swimming pool with a nice coat of algae floating on top of it so over the fence Harlow and I go and jumped into this mess which was pretty cold since it was march. Harlow hollered for Charles to join us but Charles tells us hell no I’m not getting wet so we climbed out of the pool and headed for the room with Charles staggering along in front of us. Charles never noticed the 6 foot mud hole in the parking lot and stepped into it and fell flat on his back, he looked at both of us laughing and says “Damn I must be drunk“. We got him out of the hole with both of us on each side and up the steps and into the room and Charles decides he needs to sleep it off but we wanted to get him in the shower to wash the mud off and get his wet dirty clothes off but Charles falls backward onto the bed rolling all of the mud all over the bed and harlow tells me guess where you're sleeping tonight. I pulled Charles off the bed along with the top mattress for him to sleep on and I'm on the box springs which felt great the next morning. Got up early took a shower shaved got dressed and woke harlow up to do the same and finally got Charles awake to clean up which he did then Harlow and I waited and waited for Charles to come out because we had the beer on ice and paid the room bill and loaded the car. Harlow went to the bathroom banging on the door for charles to hurry up we need to leave now well half hour later Charles finally joins us in the car with Harlow cussing about being late. Sure enough we got caught in traffic backed up from the race track which we creeped along for another hour before we got to the track. When we drove through the gates and down to the track we find out the parade lap's are long over and we missed seeing one of Harlow’s idols Mickey Mantle so Harlow cuts loose on Charles and tells him, “I hope you have a good radio because you sure as hell aren't going to another race with me, we came all this way and missed being in the parade and meeting Mickey Mantle because you took all morning taking a dump“. Charles tells him “I couldn't help it that cheese locked me up” and Harlow keeps fussing while driving through the pits so I told him “If you would quit fussing and stop the car you just passed Mickey Mantle“. He says where is he with his head turning every direction trying to spot Mantle I said “Back up he's in the garage lane between the pits”. So he throws it in reverse and thankfully there wasn't another car behind him and rolls up to where Mantle is standing starts talking to Mantle like they are old time buddy's then hands him a baseball to autograph. Well this makes his day and we head to the stands to watch the race which Donnie Allison won driving for Hoss Ellington. Charles is deceased but nothing take away my fond memories of him. I hope all who read this enjoy it and there's some more I'll send Mike, think I’ll write about the Darlington trip with Rolaids Ray and Boyd next. For all of you that are new to nascar racing I'm really sorry you never got to see racing back in the early years because this crap today is next to nothing. See you next time on the Laidback Lounge so drive carefully that might be me in the next lane. Joe

Friday, December 17, 2010

2012 IndyCar Season Will Impact NASCAR

With the announcements of changes coming to both bodies and power plants for the 2012 IndyCar season, the momentum is on the upswing for IndyCar while NA$CAR continues on it’s downhill slide. Swift, Lotus, and others are fielding all new bodies that go along with the new aero packages that IndyCar plans to use for the 2012 season. Along with this, there’s also the new power plants that will be run.

 Honda appears to still be interested as being a power plant provider but they’ll have to contend with GM, Lotus, Fiat/Chrysler, Ford and possibly some others. The power plant manufacturers plan to field engines which incorporate current state of the art turbo-charged V-6 engines, some based on their street counterparts, which is what the auto manufacturers are looking for. Meanwhile, NA$CAR continues to drag its heels on going to an antiquated form of fuel injection, purpose-built engines, and barely returning some form of bodylines, outside of some new decals and a couple of new plastic noses, to the much maligned and heavily fan despised Car of Travesty. NA$CAR won’t be introducing a really major change until 2013, which gives IndyCar a full season to build up even more momentum in picking up new fans (possibly some disgruntled former NA$CAR fans among them), maybe fans that were lost due to the IRL-ChampCar split, and more than likely new sponsors because of the embracing of new technology by IndyCar.

 And while some of the lamestream media types (who are biased towards Focks and BSPN‘s “wonderful" commercial-filled coverage) have blasted the network coverage that IndyCar has had in the past on Versus , things will improve for Versus since NBC has bought about 51% of Versus. Their coverage should improve and expand into the open airwaves on NBC, which is something that is missing from about half of the Cup Series season because it's on cable thus excluding some segments of the TV viewing market. Plus IndyCar isn’t locked into any long term contracts that are set in cement like NA$CAR so there is some flexibility with their coverage. No changes have been announced about dumping the split-screen coverage which every NA$CAR fan at home has been screaming for since the return of BSPN but was nixed by His Royal Highness saying that NA$CAR’s sponsors, not the team sponsors, wanted their particular type of "branding" to be done so we get stuck watching the cursed plethora of commercials weekend after weekend during racing season. By keeping the split-screen coverage, IndyCar increases their odds of viewership and expanding their fan base. By staying with the status quo that is driving fans away, NA$CAR’s ratings will continue to suffer and go downhill.

 So just how far has NA$CAR sunk? Based on some market research, on the last survey that was conducted by a shopping survey company, folks were asked what sports do you enjoy watching? And the results were Football 59%, Baseball 35%, Basketball 33%, NA$CAR 23%, and Golf 19%. So this is very telling about these results. Two years ago, according to this same company's surveys, NA$CAR was the most watched sport on TV. Now they are barely ahead of golf. I’d like to use the late George Carlin’s analogy about golf but I’m trying to keep this at least PG rated. To put it politely, George Carlin found golf to be about as exciting as flies engaged in the act of reproduction.

 By dumping the I$C tracks, IndyCar is also improving the odds of pulling in more fans from the ranks of F1 and sports car racing. More road courses and tracks which aren’t cookie-cutters tend to keep fan interest up. Plus they put money into the coffers of I$C rival Bruton Smith, which you know has got to hurt at least on an ego-damaging level. NA$CAR on the other hand continues to have a schedule heavily dominated by the cookie-cutter 1.5 miles tracks which have turned fans off instead of going to some other venues like Road Atlanta, VIR, or maybe even returning to places like Rockingham, North Wilkesboro, or giving a second date back to Darlington. Tracks that have some flare, uniqueness, and history to them. And while only the Busch Series looks to be racing outside the US borders in Canada for one race, the IndyCar folks are looking at going at going to various parts around the globe like Canada, Brazil, and Japan thus increasing their fan base and market. And by cutting out the I$C tracks, IndyCar finds themselves saving some money and being properly promoted by Bruton and the other track owners in their racing efforts instead of being a poor cousin to the Truck Series which hardly gets any promotion by I$C despite it being the best racing NA$CAR currently has. It seems that IndyCar was lucky to be promoted at all by the I$C tracks they raced at, especially on weekends when any of NA$CAR's 3 major series were racing at the same track.

 So while NA$CAR basically sits stagnant with the exception of some new nose pieces, new decals that are supposed to give some brand identity, and the introduction of an obsolete fuel injection system around the middle of next Cup season, the Indy Car folks are busy putting together they’re launching of the new cars, aero packages, and engines packages to really send them back into orbit in 2012 in hopes of recapturing their former glory. And it’s really amazing that while all of this is happening, NA$CAR seems to think they can rest on their collective backsides because they believe their own propaganda. Even with the possibilities of a lockout next season in the NFL, NA$CAR shows no interest in trying to improve themselves or their “product”.

We’ll see how that works out next season after the e-mails I got from a large number of fans within 30 minutes of the finish of the race at Homestead who are heading for greener pastures on Saturday nights and Sundays between February and November 2011.

 To answer some folks questions, I will continue to write for Laidback Racing. With Race Mama's work schedule and trying to keep the site updated so you folks who camp out and tailgate at the track can get the most up-to-date information, she suggested I do some blogging to give her the extra time she needs on keeping the Laidback Racing site current. So don't worry. I'll be writing as usual for Laidback racing and also blogging next season.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Lynchburg Flash

Today's story is about the beginning and end of Harlow Reynold's driving career. Back in the mid-seventy's, four of us decided to fix up a ‘67 Ford Fairlane painted and numbered 21 like the Wood Brothers car to race at Natural Bridge Speedway which was a little over a half mile dirt track. Our division couldn't run anything but a six cylinder motor so we found a 240 motor(same motor UPS ran in their trucks) which was pretty wore out but stayed together at the time. We started our first race which was going well until some drunk from Rockbridge that had a dale Earnhardt attitude put our car up on the fence which ended the day for us. This aggravated me so much I decided to have a talk with Mr Mast (Rick Mast's dad) who was running the track at the time about letting this drunk get on the track but when I went into the little office he had in the infield I found one of the other local's by the name of Harold already ahead of me because the drunk had wrecked his car also. Harold had his rug on which looked like somebody had shot a squirrel and sat it on his head well I was pretty mad when I went in there but seeing Harold with this funky rug it was all I could do to keep a straight face and not laugh. Mr Mast started talking to Harold and the madder he got and shaking his head the rug started turning on his head until it was completely sideway's sticking out like a bat's wings. Even though I agreed with everything Harold said I was thinking "Dam I wish I had a video camera" because Mr Mast was trying to keep from laughing also. After I talked to Mr Mast he told me he would tell "the drunk" he wasn't getting on the track if he showed up gassed again but the next week he was juiced again so Mr Mast came by and said tell your driver to put his ass in the fence hard enough to kill the car and we will be rid of him and this happened 5 laps after the start of the race and the guy was so gassed he fell on his face as soon as he climbed out of the car. Well he informed Mr Mast he was gonna get his gun and shoot all of us but when he got the gun the local sheriff's deputy handcuffed him and off to the cross bar motel he went. Following week was the race Harlow was making his driving debut which started great until he decided he would be better able to pass other cars on the bottom of the track but he found out this was a bad move because no one was running down there and it was rough and rutted and Harlow spun out threw it back in gear and spun out the other direction which by then looked like a dust devil with so much dust flying off the wheels. He finally got it righted and took off again made a lap spun out again and had the car spinning in a circle trying to get it righted again. After this comedy show and finishing 5 lap's down Harlow tells me you can drive next week but I told him nope I know I can't drive and there's no use for me to make a fool out of myself to prove it so that was the start and end of the Lynchburg Flash's driving career. I found out later on one of our many beer joint trips that Harlow’s drinking buddies thought I was Ralph because Harlow had turned his car over on it's top and told the police his pal Ralph had been driving and took off running away in the woods and got away with this BS excuse, so every time his buddies would see me they said how you doing Ralph. Never a dull moment with the Lynchburg Flash. Joe

I want to thank Harlow for the use of his photos and his friend Joe for a great story. There's more to come.