• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TAKING THE HEAT

SETTING THE PACE: USA Today published a special section last week in recognition of the 35th anniversary of Title IX, the act widely regarded as having opened the door for greater participation by women in sports. Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500, was prominently mentioned. Today, Mazda is a leader in providing opportunities for female racers in a variety of road racing classes. This nicely-composed image from Mazda PR rep Dean Case, taken at Road America, shows (left to right), Kristy Kester, Star Mazda; Deborah Loth, MX-5 Cup; Natalia Kowalska, Star Mazda; Laura Olson, MX-5 Cup; Simona De Silvestra, Atlantic; Ashley Frieberg, Skip Barber series.


Sports Illustrated called-out Kyle Busch last week. In a story by Mark Beech, noting that Busch bolted from New Hampshire Motor Speedway "without comment," Beech took up the popular notion that Kyle has matured now that he's with Joe Gibbs Racing. In his story, headlined "Adults Only," Beech wrote: "For all of Busch's claims to personal growth . . . he has yet to completely shed his reputation as a punk on wheels."

Tough stuff.

Engine failure put Kyle into the garage at Dover. While waiting to see if enough repairs could be made so he could make laps, Busch did emerge from the hauler to speak with ABC and gathered reporters.

In his Friday media session, four-time champion Jeff Gordon was asked why he always makes himself available post-race. According to a Chevrolet-provided transcript, Jeff answered:

“I don’t know, it is just the way we have always done it. While there are moments that your frustration level gets the best of you and you may need some time to cool down before you say something that you wish you could take back. With that in mind, we have just always done it that way. I think you have respect for the media; they are a big part of this sport. Whether you have a good day or a bad day, you have got to talk about both sides. You can’t just only come out when you have a smile on your face and everything is going your way. Sometimes you have to answer the tough questions too, whether you like it or not. I think we have always tried to respect the media. They have been good to us and we try to give them that same courtesy back.”

Meanwhile, Busch fell to last in the Chase standings, while Tony Schumacher's record-setting run in Top Fuel came to an end in the final round in Texas. Busch did dominate Saturday's Nationwide race at Dover. While I believe Scott Pruett -- who clinched the Daytona Prototype championship Saturday -- deserves Driver of the Year consideration, along with Scott Dixon, it's more likely that honor will go to either the NASCAR or NHRA driver. In the last two weeks, the momentum has shifted to Schumacher.
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Boy, am I GLAD I wrote last week's blog, "Taken for Granted." It triggered some E-mails from some unexpected corners of the media universe. People told me their own stories of what one high-powered journalist called "neglect" from the president and publicist of the track she frequently works.

I would politely suggest scrolling below for a re-read. It obviously should be a BIG wake-up call for a LOT of people. More than I realized.
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I was out at Manzanita Speedway Saturday night to see Jim McGee's induction into the Arizona Motorsports Hall of Fame. I worked with Jim at Newman/Haas Racing in 1993 and '94 during the days of "Mansell Mania." As one who was behind the closed garage doors, I can tell you, Nigel could not have won the '93 PPG Cup without Jim as team manager. It was Jim who talked Nigel through the elements of oval racing (Mansell won four consecutive ovals) and how to compete within the CART system. Jim has long ties to Arizona, including his time working for Clint Brawner and Bob Fletcher. That's Jim (left) and his Hall of Fame plaque with writer Mark Armijo, a member of the Hall committee.
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Congratulations to Cathie Lyon, who becomes executive director of CARA Charities effective Oct. 1. Cathie takes over for Mary Lou Bogner, who is retiring after serving as exec director since 1993. Cathie (along with Billy Kamphausen and a few others) served greatly and loyally to CART/Champ Car for many years -- and should have had a job in the IRL after reunification.

I'm sure Cathie's positive energy will benefit the good work of CARA. Learn more at http://www.caracharities.org/
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Check back here next week for some important news about an exciting new element we'll add to the January 10 AARWBA All-America Team ceremony, presented by A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. New location is the Hilton in Ontario, Calif.

I will be contributing to the Arizona Republic's advance and NASCAR race-weekend coverage at Phoenix International Raceway in November.


[ more Blogging the Chase next Tuesday . . . ]