• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Monday, November 25, 2013

DEC. 10

More urgent priorities this week. Please come back Tuesday, Dec. 10 when I'll wrap-up 2013.

If you didn't already see this in Saturday's Arizona Republic, CompetitionPlus.com or on Twitter ( @SpinDoctor500 ) here's my story on the half-million dollar plus repaving and fan upgrades going on at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in preparation for next February's NHRA national event. ISC, please take note.

http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/20131122upgrades-expected-make-wild-horse-pass-motorsports-park-faster.htmlja

Sunday, November 17, 2013

GREATNESS

Scott Dixon is my Driver of the Year for 2013. But Chad Knaus is my MVP.

If Knaus isn't a first-ballot NASCAR Hall of Famer, there should be a Congressional investigation.

I'm not interested in any complaining about Jimmie Johnson's sixth Sprint Cup championship in eight years being "boring." I say enjoy GREATNESS while fortunate enough to be around to see it first-hand. I know I wish I could have seen Babe Ruth becoming Babe Ruth.

My feeling upon hearing the news of Dario Franchitti's retirement was the same as when the great Emerson Fittipaldi's career ended due to a crash at Michigan in 1996: I find it sad when athletes of this elite level are not able to go out on their own terms. But I cheer Dario for doing the right thing -- what doctors believe is medically necessary. I'm one of those who passionately believes that when a driver feels he must stop, that should be the end of it, no comebacks. The risk is not worth the reward, certainly in the case of Franchitti, with his many IndyCar and sports car successes. I've known Dario since he first came into CART and have always considered him one of the real Good Guys. Thanks, Dario, for your great professionalism. Congratulations on a great career.

The harsh Business of Racing reality for the IndyCar series is Franchitti's retirement means one less "name" driver to promote, one less media-friendly interview, and a subtraction of one of the precious few drivers actually capable of selling tickets.

Franchitti would be an instant upgrade in the ABC TV booth.

Last week's chatter by the chatroom "experts" only proves -- again -- what a short attention span people have these days. In response to a question during a Phoenix International Raceway news conference about its 50th anniversary season (I was there), track President Bryan Sperber gave his standard answer about an IndyCar return to the Avondale oval. Absolutely nothing new. (I had broken actual new "news" earlier in the week with my report that IndyCar's Mark Miles had never even called Sperber about a 2014 race.) But Sperber's words generated a few "news" stories. Anyone interested should Google the detailed stories I've written for two years on this subject in the Arizona Republic, including financial numbers and date issues. Too many of these "experts" still don't even know the correct facts about the track since it was repaved/reconfigured two years ago! And then there's the "breaking news" that Sam Hornish Jr. isn't interested in returning to open-wheel racing. He's been saying the same thing for five years!

I've been a patient in the Mayo Clinic system for over a decade. The customer service has often not been what one would expect, especially given the high fees charged for services. Last week I called to make a routine appointment, only to be told the first availability wasn't until MARCH. Those of you still not certain of the ripple effects of ObamaCare, take note.

[ more next Monday . . . ]

Monday, November 11, 2013

CARL EDWARDS, ROLE MODEL

While it was professionally challenging and rewarding to work the Mark Martin story last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway -- see my Sunday Arizona Republic/AzCentral.com story based on an exclusive 35-minute interview with Mark in his motorcoach last Friday morning and my Monday notebook follow-up -- my best memory of the PIR weekend came courtesy of Carl Edwards. In an era where many athletes would have put on a big physical and verbal show of frustration, Edwards handled himself with great class after running out of fuel coming to the white flag in the lead. Edwards was more than calm and polite in talking with me and other media people. A few times, he even smiled. See my story on him in Monday's paper and on the site. Well done, Carl. I sure wish the Powers-That-Be in all of sports would put together a video of Edwards in this situation and make it required viewing in locker rooms around the country.

[ more next Monday . . . ]

Sunday, November 03, 2013

NASCAR IN THE VALLEY

Other life priorities means just a reminder Mark Armijo and I will have full coverage of NASCAR in Phoenix this week in the Arizona Republic and AzCentral.com . Here's a link to my Sunday story on why fans are fans:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/20131031reasons-vary-each-nascar-fans-favorite.html

Mark and I will be in the paper daily starting Tuesday with features and my notebooks. See my notebook Tuesday for reaction to the latest Brad Keselowski controversy -- and why Phoenix International Raceway isn't on the 2014 IndyCar schedule. (You just might be surprised.) Later in the week I'll have updates on Tony Stewart and changes coming to the Gen-6 car and a Thursday feature on Jeff Burton. He'll hit a historical milestone at PIR. By the way, PIR's grandstands are again sold-out for Sunday's AdvoCare 500.

Follow me on Twitter -- @SpinDoctor500 -- for other updates and news alerts. There will be some announcements of interest and (hint) I'm pursuing a few other stories.

[ more next Monday . . . ]