• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

POST-VEGAS

I don't agree with conservative commentator and former presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan on everything. But I enjoy listening to what he says, and reading what he writes, because Buchanan obviously is a brilliant thinker and communicator. He has a new book out, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? In brief, Buchanan cites numerous factors for America's decline, including a stunning lowering-of-standards within our society. Conduct that, a few decades ago, would have been widely considered unacceptable is now routine.

I thought of that last week in reading the grotesquely inappropriate chatroom post by a so-called "fan" of Indy Car racing after Dan Wheldon's death. The poster, blissfully anonymous and thus immune from the direct scorn he/she justly deserves, noted a National Public Radio segment about Wheldon's accident. I quote from the post:

"A story about IndyCar would not be on NPR if not for Dan. I'm of the opinion that any publicity is good publicity. I think this is Dan's last gift to a sport he loved. After the Interview I just said, thanks Dan. "

That's sick. Almost enough to make you vomit. This is what your liberal and union-protected American educational system has wrought -- and makes me afraid Buchanan might be right; our nation might not endure because of people like this.

Unlike the chatrooms, this blog carries my name. If this "fan" is man enough to reveal his true identity, my contact info is easily available. If not, I've finally thought of a legitimate purpose for the bouncer the series employs: Investigate and learn the real identity of this "fan" -- then make sure he/she is permanently banned from all your races.

For the record, here's a re-link to what people who actually know anything about publicity know: http://www.competitionplus.com/drag-racing/editorials/19210-drags-dollars-a-sense-not-all-ink-is-good-ink

The information below was provided by the IndyCar series:

The Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund has been established for the financial security of Wheldon's family. The public can make contributions to the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund starting Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the following address:

Fifth Third Private Bank
Attn: Dan Wheldon Family Trust
251 North Illinois St.
Suite 1000
Indianapolis, IN 46204


This also deserves to be reported: Longtime Associated Press photographer Ed Reinke died last week. He had been hospitalized since Oct. 2, when he fell and suffered a head injury while covering the IndyCar race at Kentucky Speedway.

I find it necessary to post this blog before the conclusion of the public memorial service for Wheldon Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis. Out of respect, I will stop on this subject now. That will change in the next few days -- before next Monday -- when enough time will have passed to have shown proper respect, let emotions cool, and add much-needed context.
************************************************************************** This was the blog I had ready to post last week until I learned of Wheldon's death:

I had NHRA on my mind last week, which certainly was not a bad thing.

I was out at Firebird International Raceway to cover the Arizona Nationals. Mark Armijo joined me in the writing for the Arizona Republic. Here are links to some of my stories and I especially point you to my now-traditional Q&A, this one with legends Don Garlits and Shirley Muldowney:
Friday notebook (Mike Neff, Matt Hagan, etc.):
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2011/10/13/20111013nhra-mike-neff-driver-crew-chief.html

Saturday notebook (Tony Schumacher, future of Firebird track, etc.):
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2011/10/14/20111014nhra-tony-schumacher-firebird-international-raceway.html

Sunday notebook (Force Hood unlikely to race in 2012, NHRA's new drug testing policy):
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2011/10/15/20111015nhra-ashley-force-hood-unlikely-race-in-2012.html

Sunday Q&A with Don Garlits and Shirley Muldowney:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2011/10/15/20111015nhra-q&a-don-garlits-shirley-muldowney.html

Monday notebook (Pro Stock, bike winners, etc.):
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2011/10/16/20111016nhra-rookies-vincent-nobile-hector-arana-jr-arizona-nationals.html

Nitro fumes and the feel of 16,000 horsepower under my feet as Top Fuel and Funny Cars thundered away from the starting line dulled my senses, at least in terms of paying as much attention as usual to other series. Sorry, NASCAR and Bernie. I even had to beg-off my usual post-Formula One segment on SiriusXM but, as Arnold famously said, "I'll be back."

There's one constant for me when it comes to drag racing: I had more fun, interesting and informative conversations last weekend than happens yearly in all other series combined. I've said it before and I'll say it again: NHRA's Full Throttle series is under-covered by the mainstream national media. The so-called and self-thinking "Big Time" columnists who look down on drag racing as too blue-collar for their tastes, and thus have never bothered to talk with the likes of John Force, Kenny Bernstein, Jack Beckman, Antron Brown, Ron Capps, Tony Schumacher, Melanie Troxel, Bob Tasca III, et al do their readers a journalistic disservice.

There's a much more friendly atmosphere -- and, generally, more cooperation from PR reps -- than I find anywhere else. (There are always exceptions, of course, like the PRer who answered my E-mail of a week earlier late Thursday afternoon, and asked if I was coming out to the track. Nothing like knowing who-is-doing-what, media-wise, in the race market!)

Friday afternoon, I sat with John Force in his trackside motorcoach with his daughters Ashley and Courtney as he held his new grandson, Jacob John. Try doing that in NASCAR. The lesson to be learned is NHRA drivers (and publicists) know their sponsors want and NEED the publicity, and they are willing to work for it!

And, it's always nice to break some news as I did with the story on NHRA's upcoming new drug testing policy, which I had in the Republic and a more extension version on CompetitionPlus.com.
http://www.competitionplus.com/drag-racing/news/19352-nhra-to-adjust-drug-testing-procedure

Yes, sure, I'll get back into the Chase and the rest of the F1 season. But the people of the NHRA pits provided a welcome "vacation." Thank you.


Dollar General officially announced its extensive 2012 NASCAR sponsorship, upping its ante to include part-time sponsorship of Joey Logano in Sprint Cup. Of its decision to drop IndyCar, DG CEO Rick Dreiling said: "Being in victory lane at Kentucky with Sarah Fisher Racing was wonderful, but our customer base leans toward NASCAR. Our demographic is middle America. A lot of our customers have cars, they work on their cars, and they can relate to these guys. They have a passion for car racing." What say you, Randy Bernard and Terry Angstadt?


FAST LINES: Special thanks to NHRA's super-hard-working Anthony Vestal for his extra help to me at Firebird . . . Read all the details on CompetitionPlus.com, but the NHRA's handling of Don Schumacher Racing's Top Fuel shield design was a credibility-and-PR fiasco . . . If Jimmie Johnson doesn't win his sixth straight Sprint Cup, remember the infamous Sports Illustrated cover jinx. JJ was on the cover last week. To be honest though, I would have put Al Davis -- a profoundly historic figure in America's most popular sport, the NFL -- on the cover . . . Sign of the times -- Matt Kenseth in victory lane at Charlotte admitting his team has no sponsors for next season . . . ALMS was quick to issue a release explaining a conflict with Le Mans testing meant Grand-Am gets to join IndyCar at Belle Isle next June. Not so fast -- unless Penske gets the deal to run Porsche's upcoming factory prototype program, he's got more to gain by scheduling Grand-Am -- remember, it's owned by the NASCAR holding company . . . I'm definitely not a member of the Grassy Knoll crowd, but seeing Danica Patrick listed as the fastest during Thursday practice for IndyCar's self-promoted Las Vegas race reminded me of the years when Ferrari didn't have a competitive car, but somehow would always be fastest on the opening day of practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

[ more in a few days . . . ]