Tuesday, December 13, 2016


MEMORABLE MOMENT: Michael Andretti (left), me, Berni Haas and Mario Andretti at Carl Haas' memorial service. Mario, Michael and I all had the honor of being speakers.

2016: What a challenging year.
For me, personally, it was 12 months of emotional and physical pain -- grief, profound and prolonged sadness as a sole family caregiver, non-stop stress, attempts at heartfelt help for another seriously-ill loved-one, disappointment in the lack of understanding and support of "friends," maximizing my organizational skills in preparation for major surgery, embarrassment at being seen in public as physically compromised, and setbacks en route to what I hope will be a meaningful recovery by next spring.
People keep saying they are sure I'll be glad when this year is over. What they seem to not grasp is the calendar will change, but not many of the issues and situations. As I always say, however, millions have it more challenging than I do.
In motorsports, the best example of overcoming challenge can -- once again -- be found at Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 48 Lowe's team. In the summer months, Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus seemed to be nowhere on speed, and Rick Hendrick later admitted to pondering if it was time to split-up his six-time NASCAR champion driver-crew chief pairing. He didn't. After Homestead, they had gone from last-to-first and Cup title No. 7, tying Johnson with record-setters Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
Traditional and social media didn't even give the champions time to think about, appreciate or celebrate the seventh, immediately turning the conversation to the possibility of a historic eighth Cup championship. I have to say, in that sense, I felt sorry for Hendrick's Heroes.
I apologize to loyal readers of this blog for being off-the-air so long in what was the 10th anniversary of these writings. Quite simply, I had higher priorities, and could not devote the time to think and write to produce a blog that I felt was worthy of your time. Thank you for your understanding.
Let me announce that, in the final tallying of the weekly "Power Players" rankings of racing's Most Influential People, the 2016 winner is Roger Penske. In his team's 50th anniversary season, Penske won another IndyCar championship and came close in Cup. Joe Gibbs, leading what at times was Toyota domination, was second. World of Outlaws champ -- for the eighth time -- Donny Schatz (25 A-main wins) completed the top three.
This year I'm going to end with some awards, as determined solely by me, for whatever you may think they are worth. My hope is they will stimulate some thought:
Most Valuable Player:  Jay Frye. Shifted from Hulman & Co. chief revenue officer to IndyCar's competition president, Frye got Phoenix back on the schedule, added Watkins Glen as a last-minute replacement for the Boston street race, established an effective and largely uncontroversial stewards' panel, began the process away from aero kits to a universal body for 2018, and -- perhaps most amazingly of all -- kept the notoriously unsettled paddock area relatively calm. Quite a job by the longtime NASCAR team boss. There will come a time when NASCAR is in need of a senior executive, and Frye's outstanding 2016 in IndyCar will put him on the short list of candidates. Well done. No. VERY well done.
Most Loyal: Jeff Gordon, for agreeing to Hendrick's outreach for help and subbing for the concussed Dale Earnhardt Jr. Impossible not to admire Gordon's loyalty to the man who gave him what he needed for a historic Hall of Fame career. But . . .    
Worst Idea: Gordon returning to the track after a season-long celebration of his greatness in 2015. It seemed so anti-climatic and a footnote to all that had been remembered and cheered the year before.
Best Idea (co-winners): Gordon's authorized biography, Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive & Destiny. And Linda Vaughn's heavily-captioned picture book: Linda Vaughn: The First Lady of Motorsports. A long overdue tribute to a great lady. 
Best Moment: Gordon and Tony Stewart's side-by-side celebration lap after the Brickyard 400. One for the heart.
Feel Good Moment: Ron Capps finally -- FINALLY -- winning a much-deserved NHRA Funny Car championship.
Most Inspirational Person: Holly Cain, the wonderful NASCAR.com writer, who reported and wrote greatly while dealing with everything one has to deal with as a cancer patient -- and more. All the while remaining a very nice person.
Most Hype: The 100th Indianapolis 500. All the pomp and circumstance -- and an announced sell-out crowd that generated enormous profits for Hulman & Co. -- once again -- at least for one day -- made Indy Indy.
Biggest Disappointment: The 100th Indianapolis 500. All credit to owner Michael Andretti and the fantastic strategy call of Bryan Herta to coach Alexander Rossi to the checkered flag. He might have been the most surprising race winner in decades. But it was a fuel mileage -- not flat-out speed racing -- finish. And, at year's end, nobody beyond IndyCar's most passionate fans can tell you who won the 100th Indy 500.
No Hype (co-winners): Tony Stewart's final Sprint Cup season. Sprint's final season as Cup series title sponsor.
Best Race: The 56th Knoxville Nationals, as Jason Johnson fought-off Schatz for his first victory in sprint car racing's and the World of Outlaws' most prestigious event.  
Worst Race: As usual, the meaningless NASCAR Sprint All-Star event.   
Best Sight: IndyCars back on-track at Phoenix International Raceway.
Best Decision: The International Speedway Corp. Board of Directors FINALLY authorizing the budget to modernize Phoenix International Raceway, which has fallen way behind other sports venues in the Valley of the Sun.
Keep Your Eyes On (co-winners): Alex Bowman, who qualified and raced very well -- he almost won Phoenix from the pole -- in the No. 88 as substitute for Earnhardt. And Austin Cindric, who showed plenty of talent in various series, and has a full-season ride in a Brad Keselowski NASCAR truck for 2017.
Congratulations: T.E. McHale and Dan Layton, of Honda, winners of the Jim Chapman Award for Excellence in Motorsports Public Relations. Well deserved. The honor came on the centennial of Mr. Chapman's birth and unveiling of the permanent Jim Chapman Award, currently displayed in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center. 

Personal Thrill: Going 180 mph at Indy as Mario Andretti's passenger in the Honda IndyCar two-seater a few days before the 100th Indy 500, which was my 38th Indy 500. Thanks Mario, Jay Frye, Mark Sibla, Alivia Mattioli and the crew. 
Greatly Missed: My longtime boss, Carl A. Haas. We won three PPG Cups together with Mario and Michael Andretti and Nigel Mansell. What an honor to speak at Carl's memorial service. Bill Alsup, a great guy and strong ally of mine when I was CART's communications director. Media guy Bob Margolis, quite a personality and another inspiration for his own lengthy fight against cancer. And, above all, my mother. 
[ please check back here in January 2017. Thank you. ]

Sunday, September 11, 2016


At least in theory, this is the most exciting time of the racing year.

The Chase for the (last) NASCAR Sprint Cup championship begins Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway. NHRA's version for all four of its Mello Yello pro classes, the Countdown, goes green Sunday at zMax Dragway, across the road from Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Verizon IndyCar Series takes its season checkered flag with a double-points (I don't like that gimmick) finale at Sonoma Raceway -- not much excitement there as Simon Pagenaud should add to his and team owner Roger Penske's trophy cases. IMSA has just Circuit of the Americas and Road Atlanta events left. Mercedes' boys Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have the most work to do, seven more Grands Prix to determine the world champion. Difficult to see Donny Schatz not collecting another World of Outlaws' crown.

So, it's the time to be enthusiastically engaged in the action, not heading back to the garage area with the hood up. But that's what I have to do.

Circumstances are again directing me down one of life's roads that I didn't plan on traveling. So this will be the last blog for awhile as higher priorities demand my time and energy. Those who should know tell me 6-8 weeks from when some fixes get done later this month.

What I hope to do is Tweet a shortened version of "Power Players" @SpinDoctor500 . 

However it all works out, I'll take this chance to say thanks to those who use a little of your valuable time to visit here each week. If nothing else, I plan to post my traditional end-of-year thoughts come December. 

Thank you and enjoy the championship runs.   

POWER PLAYERS for the week of September 11:This week's 10 most influential
people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

  1. Joe Gibbs -- His Toyotas are the hot ticket in both Sprint Cup and the Xfinity Series. Could all four of his Cup drivers -- Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards -- qualify for the Cup finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway?

  2. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick -- Let's call them the Sprint Cup championship co-favorites as the Chase takes the green flag in Chicagoland.

  4. Antron Brown and Ron Capps -- The top seeds in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively, as NHRA's six-race Countdown begins at zMax Dragway.

  6Simon Pagenaud -- All-but-disaster at Sonoma should clinch his first IndyCar championship in the season finale.

  7. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg -- Hamilton needs victory under the lights in Singapore to re-open points gap over his Mercedes-Benz teammate. 

  9. Cole Custer  -- After controversial second-place finish to John Hunter Nemechek in last race, needs to win Chicagoland to clinch spot in Camping World Truck Series' first Chase.

 10. Rico Abreu -- World of Outlaws' win at California's Silver Dollar Speedway another notch for this rising star.


Monday, September 05, 2016


POWER PLAYERS for the week of September 5:This week's 10 most influential
people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- Concussion KOs him for the rest of the season, and while Junior says he plans to return in 2017, the NASCAR industry and Hendrick Motorsports are forced to ponder what to do if their most popular driver can't make a comeback.

  2. Tony and Don Schumacher -- NHRA Top Fuel's winningest driver wins his record 10th U.S. Nationals while father and team owner doubles at Indy with Matt Hagen taking the Funny Car
class victory.

  4. Greg Zipadelli -- Stewart-Haas Racing's competition VP must fix the Kevin Harvick pit crew problem -- slow stops likely cost Harvick the Southern 500 win -- before the Chase begins.

  5. John Hunter Nemechek and Mike Helton -- The driver set a dangerous new precedent by pinning Cole Custer against a wall to win the Truck series race in Canada. Upon review at NASCAR's weekly competition meeting, will the sanction's vice chairman let this stand?

   7. Will Power -- After observation for concussion-like symptoms after Watkins Glen, will the only driver left who can beat Simon Pagenaud for the IndyCar championshp be able to participate in Thursday's test session at Sonoma, site of the season's final race?

  8. Nico Rosberg -- Italian Grand Prix victory pulls him closer to Mercedes' teammate Lewis Hamilton in world title standings.

  9. David Gravel  -- Sweeps the World of Outlaws' doubleheader at Skagit Speedway.

 10. Chris Windom -- Daring outside-line line pass of Jeff Swindell with three laps to go earns him first career USAC Silver Crown dirt win in Ted Horn 100 at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.

more next week . . . ]


Sunday, August 28, 2016


POWER PLAYERS for the week of August 28:This week's 10 most influential
people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

  1. Kyle Larson, Michael McDowell, Brett Moffitt -- In a NASCAR first, the three earn their first NASCAR Sprint Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series wins on the same weekend, at Michigan International Speedway and Road America.

  4. Graham Rahal -- In a spectacular last five laps, he leads only the last few hundred yards to win the restart of June's IndyCar rainout at Texas Motor Speedway. This weekend: Watkins Glen.

  5. John, Courtney and Brittany Force -- It's NHRA's Big Go, the U.S. Nationals, where stars shine and legends are made. A Force victory, or Funny Car-Top Fuel double, would do much to get drag racing into the college football-crowded Labor Day weekend headlines.

  8. Jeff Gordon -- He's back in the No. 88 for Dale Earnhardt Jr., at Darlington, where Gordon is a seven-time Cup series winner at the track too tough to tame.

  9. Sebastian Vettel  -- It's the Italian Grand Prix at mighty Monza, where fans treat Ferrari like a religion, with Vettel the best chance to beat the Mercedes-Benz duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

 10. Kevin Thomas Jr. -- Wins two of three at Kokomo Speedway to claim USAC's Sprint Car Smackdown V.

more next week . . . ]


Sunday, August 14, 2016


I've never told this story before.

In November 1981, Bill Alsup was scheduled to do some Indy Car testing at Michigan International Speedway and also had some corporate meetings in the Detroit area. Alsup, second in the PPG Cup point standings to Rick Mears that season, drove from his Vermont home to Michigan and stopped by the CART offices with gifts of jugs of real Vermont maple syrup. While there, he got word bad weather meant testing would have to be pushed back a couple of days. So, Alsup a member of the CART Board of Directors, hung out with us in the small sanctioning body offices. I was there as director of communications and was able to schedule a few telephone interviews which Bill -- as always -- gladly did. It was good for him and good for the series and it also helped pass the time. He took us out to lunch.

But, mostly, Alsup observed. He was there when we (meaning Kirk Russell and me) would get calls from other Board members -- Pat Patrick being No. 1 on the list. Such calls were often to push an agenda or to ask why we, the staff, were doing certain things or why we were doing them a certain way. Our answer typically was because Chairman John Frasco (who was out-of-town when Alsup visited), our boss and high-powered attorney who worked in a large suite of offices down the hall in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., told us to do it. I wish I had $1 for every time Patrick told me: "F*** Frasco. I'm the founder, the president, the treasurer of CART." Usually these things got sorted out OK, but let's just say such calls contributed to our organization operating less-than-efficiently, and didn't do much for overall morale.

In January, 1982, there was a regularly scheduled Board meeting held in a conference room at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport. The routine was the directors -- Patrick, Roger Penske, Bobby Hillin, Bob Fletcher among them -- would meet behind closed doors. Frasco would pass out printed agendas at the start and collect them at the end. Russell and I would sit in the hallway outside, and wait to be summoned inside to make a presentation, answer questions and get the direction from the Board. Then we'd go back outside and wait in case we were again beckoned inside.

At this particular meeting, this is what happened, as described to me by a few friendly directors. After a couple of opening matters were disposed of, Frasco said: "Bill Alsup has asked for a few minutes." Alsup then recounted his experience in our offices, what he observed, and expressed great concern. "Our organization is being run in a way we would never allow our own businesses to be run," he said. And, later, "What are we doing to our guys (Russell and me)?" His words, his concern, came from the heart.

When Alsup was finished, Frasco said: "Thank you, Bill" and immediately pressed ahead with other agenda items. There was no discussion of the concern Alsup expressed. Well, actually, there WAS "discussion." After the meeting, Frasco said to Russell and me, "Have you guys been talking to Directors? Don't talk to Directors unless I tell you to."

Alsup -- who contained his displeasure at being dissed by the chairman -- also observed this and was alarmed. When Frasco walked down the hall, Bill came over to Kirk and the PR guy and said he was sorry. He tried. And now he was worried what he did would actually have the opposite effect and create a backlash against us. Right then, he was more worried about us, as the staff and as a couple of guys busting-butt and working VERY long hours. 

Bill Alsup was worried about me, as a person.

That's who Bill Alsup was. And that's why news of his death last week has left me profoundly sad.    

POWER PLAYERS for the week of  August 14:This week's 10 most influential
people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

   1. Jason Johnson -- Beats Donny Schatz, who had won sprint car racing's most important event nine of the last 10 years, in a classic 56th Knoxville Nationals for $150,000.

  2. Steve O'Donnell -- OK, what will NASCAR's executive VP and chief racing development officer have to say about racing in the rain after the Mid-Ohio Xfinity series event?

 3. Roger Penske -- Still working on an IndyCar and/or Cup championship for his 50th anniversary season, but already says he'll field a second Xfinity series team next year. Anyone want to bet on Austin Cindric being fast-tracked? 
  4. Justin Marks -- Will the Mid-Ohio racin' in the rain winner now become the most sought-after road racing coach for Sprint Cup drivers? 

 5. Kyle Busch --  Will his hot streak continue with a sweep at Bristol? 

 6. Brandon Igdalsky -- Pocono Raceway boss re-ups with IndyCar for two more seasons . . . now how many paying customers will be in the grandstands this Sunday?

 7. Courtney Force and Alexis DeJoria -- After big wall-bangers in the last two Funny Car races, will the NHRA drivers compete at Brainerd? 

 9. Donny Schatz -- Knoxville runner-up still leads World of Outlaws standings by 237 points over David Gravel.

10. Kyle Larson -- Marks won in Larson's usual Xfinity series ride while Kyle went from 21st to fifth at Knoxville.

more next week . . . ]


Sunday, August 07, 2016


I'll pass on the blog I had planned for this week due to the injuries and big crashes of the past weekend.

POWER PLAYERS for the week of  August 7:This week's 10 most influential
people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

   1. Donny Schatz -- He's the main man leading up to sprint car racing's most important event, the Knoxville Nationals. Schatz has won the World of Outlaws showcase the last five years and nine of the last 10. 

   2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- Visits Watkins Glen and says he has no plans to retire, but doesn't know when he'll be able to resume racing as he continues to experience issues from his latest concussion.

 3. Barney Visser -- Furniture Row team owner signs Martin Truex Jr. to two-year extension and adds Erik Jones and 5-Hour Energy for a second Cup team in 2017.
 4. Del Worsham -- Defending NHRA Funny Car champion leads the list of national record breakers at Pacific Raceway, going 3.832 seconds at 330.88 mph.

  5. Rico Abreu --  Wins the Outlaws' Ironman 55 to add to his place among American racing's new hotshot generation of drivers. 

   6. Tommy Milner -- Races his Chevrolet Corvette from fifth place to the win in the last seven minutes at IMSA's annual Road America run.

   7. Claire B. Lang and Dave Moody -- It's an off-weekend for Sprint Cup but the SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90 hosts will find a way to entertain and inform their listeners.

    9. Graham Light -- With driver injuries two straight weeks after Funny Car side impact with the wall, NHRA's senior VP, racing operations will be looked to by fans and competitors to investigate and seek more side driver protection.

10. Scott Atherton -- IMSA president announces 2017 schedule which includes no new venues

and some future class realignment.

more next week . . . ]


Monday, August 01, 2016


POWER PLAYERS for the week of July 31:This week's 10 most influential
people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon -- Junior's return from concussion-like symptoms for Watkins Glen seems unlikely, giving one of NASCAR's all-time best road racers another second act at the Glen.

  3. John Force and Jon Schaffer -- NHRA win number 145 at Sonoma gives Mr. Funny Car a chance to be the only driver in that nitro class to sweep the Western Swing twice, if crew chief Schaffer hits on the right tuning combination.

   5. Simon Pagenaud -- Opens up IndyCar series championship lead by winning Mid-Ohio from the pole . . . and with a bad back.

  6. Chris Buescher and Bob Osborne -- Xfinity series champion gets his first Cup series win as a rookie when veteran crew chief Osborne keeps him on the track at Pocono instead of pitting as Monday race is stopped 22 laps short due to fog. The Front Row team remains just outside the top 30 in points, a must to qualify for the Chase.

   8 Lewis Hamilton -- Opens up world championship lead by winning German Grand Prix as Formula One now takes its annual summer break.

   9. Greg Anderson -- Pro Stock win number seven this season ties him with Bob Glidden with 85 victories, second all-time in the class.

 10. William Bryon -- Sets Truck series rookie record with his fifth win of the season, this time at Pocono.

more next week . . . ]


Sunday, July 24, 2016


Please see @SpinDoctor500 for some interesting quotes from my 1-on-1 time with Mark Miles in his Indianapolis Motor Speedway office last Friday.

POWER PLAYERS for the week of  July 24:This week's 10 most influential people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

   1. Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs, Adam Stevens, Chris Gayle -- Historic double poles/double wins in Indy Xfinity and Sprint Cup series events for driver, team owner, Cup and Xfinity crew chiefs. Great showbiz? No. Great performances? Yes. 

   5. Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon -- P11 and P13 in last and "second last" Brickyard races for two of NASCAR's all-time greats. They didn't win, but in many ways, they made the Crown Royal 400 event. Including Gordon leading a standing ovation for Indiana native Stewart in drivers' meeting, and side-by-side salute cool-down lap, one of the Speedway's greatest moments and images. 

   7. John Force -- NHRA's all-time Funny Car champion beats daughter Courtney for class win in sanction's first live broadcast network event. 
    8. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner -- Lime Rock win 100th for Chevrolet Corvette team, an IMSA first. 

 10. Lewis Hamilton -- Takes world championship lead from Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg with Hungary Grand Prix victory.

more next week . . . ]


Sunday, July 17, 2016


When this spec in cyberspace was unveiled for public viewing on July 10, 2006, I wrote that one of my goals was to "point out a few issues not discussed elsewhere. I'm one of those people who believe it's essential to keep learning and my wish is this blog will be a vehicle to stimulate thought for all of us in, or with an interest in, the industry."

To repeat: ". . . it's essential to keep learning . . . "

While sooooo much has happened and changed in the last decade, I must report with sincere sadness that what I am thinking about the most on this 10th anniversary is that way, Way, WAY too many aren't interested in learning. They are only interested in hearing or reading what echoes or reinforces their own opinion.

At least, that's the impression I get.

Never in history have we had so many different ways to communicate. At first thought, that seems like a great thing. But let's dig down a little deeper to HOW those ways of communicating are being used. In Big Time Auto Racing, at least, it sure seems to me an alarming percent is personal attacks and over-the-top negativity. (No doubt at least one someone will post a criticism of me for writing that last sentence -- proving my point.) So-called "fans" -- a good number who portray themselves as "experts" or "insiders" -- hide behind the anonymous shield provided by site hosts and rip away freely at those they disagree with.

Question: How does that foster LEARNING? 

Everyone with a smart phone now can take pictures and video and write and too many who should know better call this population "citizen journalists." That is flat-out bogus wrong. Taking a picture or a video or ripping someone isn't necessarily journalism and those who do it aren't necessarily journalists. That is a professional activity done primarily by those educated and trained in techniques and standards. Quick! Yes! I know, in the current generation, there are a lot of professional journalists who prefer to think of themselves as "personalities" -- ESPN's Around the Horn, the worst show on television -- being the showcase example. Too often opinion is presented as if fact. Standards? It seems in all areas of our society and our culture what is acceptable would have been considered garbage not all that long ago. Celebrity and entertainment have taken the place of professionalism and education.

Central to journalism is the role of an editor. I've had the pleasure of knowing, and working with, some very good ones in my career. Who edits the anonymous poster who personally attacks another with another point-of-view? Who checks for accuracy? Who adds context?

Some years ago there was a regular Internet site poster who I easily identified by his chosen online "name." Said poster would often tell of a positive meeting he just had at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or conversation with some motorsports Biggie. And these posts would always lead to others thanking him for sharing this "inside" info and "great news." I knew the person . . . the real person. The only meeting he was having was at the bottom of a vodka bottle. Oh, the countless lemmings who were duped. And who didn't stop and question why this person would give out supposedly confidential information from a closed-door meeting or private talk?  

I was late coming to Twitter -- I'm still not completely comfortable with it -- but did so at the urging of several people I respect. For someone like me, there is a business component to it, so I agree that is useful. But here's my experience: I've had people tell me they no longer follow me because I wrote something they DISAGREE with. And that is the massive problem at hand here: If you only consume information from outlets you like, how will you ever learn there just might well be more to the story, other data points that might actually CHANGE your opinion?

I've been personally attacked on Internet forums a few times. Not because my facts were wrong. Because the other party didn't agree with me. Mostly this has been from those still fighting the USAC-CART-IRL-Champ Car wars. I've been labeled a "CART guy" because I was that organization's first communications director. I've been labeled "pro IRL" because I worked on Arie Luyendyk's and Robby Gordon's Indy 500 programs. Yep, sure, it all makes sense. Nope, what it is is outright irresponsible and stupid. The writers should be embarrassed but, today, there no longer is shame.

When IndyCar returned to my home track, Phoenix International Raceway, earlier this year I wrote most of the stories for the Arizona Republic and by any objective measure personally accounted for at least a third of all coverage in this state. On the it's-not-a-good-day-unless-we-have-something-to-complain-about site, where I've been inaccurately blasted (but, hey, why worry about the facts?) many times, there wasn't a word from the haters about the effort and quality and knowledge and substance represented in that coverage. Oh, I think someone said the stories were "pretty good." The attackers couldn't be honest enough to acknowledge what was counter to their bias. I would say they should have asked Mark Miles and Jay Frye and Graham Rahal what they through about my stories, but I doubt some of the Internet "experts" know who Miles and Frye and Rahal are.

I actually learned something in doing all those stories that I believe will help me be even more effective next time. And I learned something about the Business and Politics of Racing while at Indy for my 38th Indianapolis 500 that I think will help me do better on that front, too.

Do you understand the problem here? I do and it worries the hell out of me.

That's why I say, in the last decade, the most significant development has been we have too many ways to communicate, giving too many uninformed people the ability to wrongly influence others. That is dangerous -- for everyone.

In that first blog, I wrote that this undertaking would be a "Great Adventure." In some important ways, I think it has. (The most significant example being my "Untenable" blog in the aftermath of Dan Wheldon's death, which accurately forecast the demise of Randy Bernard and the Las Vegas race. Weeks later, at the Sprint Cup awards, many NASCARites spoke to me about it.) Going forward, I would prefer this to be a "Great Adventure in Learning."

For that to happen, however, a lot of people will actually have to decide they will be open enough to WANT to learn right alongside of me. Or they will prefer to wallow in the laziness of ignorance.

I'd like to conclude by writing I think the next decade will be better.

I can't. The high-percentage bet is it all will get much, Much, MUCH worse. 

And we all will be endangered.

POWER PLAYERS for the week of  July 17:This week's 10 most influential
people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

   1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon -- If Junior can't race at the Brickyard this weekend due to concussion-like issues, Rick Hendrick says five-time Indy winner Gordon will emerge from retirement to drive the No. 88. 

   3. Donny Schatz -- Bags the $50,000-to-win Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway, his 15th win of the season, and opens an almost 200-point World of Outlaws lead over Brad Sweet. In American open-wheel short-track racing, the name to know is spelled S-C-H-A-T-Z.

   4. Tony Stewart-- Coming off successful tripleheader World of Outlaws at Eldora Speedway he owns and hosts NASCAR Trucks this Wednesday night. Oh, in his day job, Stewart bolsters his Chase place with second place at New Hampshire, and now on to the Brickyard for the last time, where he's a three-time winner.
 5. Dave Moody -- Properly blasts ESPN for not including Jeff Gordon in tribute to retired athletes at the ESPYs and his afternoon drive-time SiriusXM Channel 90 show remains THE place for NASCAR fans to sound off. Sometimes, Moody even sounds off at the fans.

  6. Doug Boles -- Indianapolis Motor Speedway president takes another swing at improving NASCAR attendance issues.
   7. Holly Cain -- Indy = Big Week for NASCAR.com with inspirational writer Cain on-site to bring fans the stories they want and need to know. 

   8. Jon Asher -- Drag racing's most influential journalist pens a column for CompetitonPlus.com calling on NHRA to end the troubled Pro Stock class.  

   9. Rahn Tobler -- Can tuner for Ron Capps' Funny Car championship-leading NAPA Dodge find the right high-altitude combination in Denver as NHRA begins its Western Swing? 

10. Nico Rosberg -- What will be his story with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton this Sunday in the Hungarian Grand Prix? Will they try to take each other out -- again?

I'll be at the Brickyard this weekend for the NASCAR happenings. Whatever I find out you can read on Twitter @SpinDoctor500

more next week . . . ]


Sunday, July 10, 2016


POWER PLAYERS for the week of  July 10:This week's 10 most influential
people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

   1. Brad Keselowski and Paul Wolfe -- Two consecutive Sprint Cup series wins for Team Penske Ford driver and crew chief. Right now they are the championship favorites.

   3. Josef Newgarden -- Dominates IndyCar's Iowa race for his first oval win. Will he graduate to a ride at Penske, Andretti or Ganassi?

   4. Don Schumacher-- NHRA's most important team owner sweeps Top Fuel and Funny Car classes at his home NHRA track, Route 66, for fourth consecutive year.
   5. Mark Miles -- IndyCar CEO says he expects to announce 2017 AND 2018 schedules in next couple of weeks.

   6. Maurizio Arrivabene -- Ferrari team principal surprisingly retains Kimi Raikkonen for 2017 F1 season, apparently because he and Sebastien Vettel get along so well.
   7. Charlie Whiting -- FIA race director stands firm on restrictions on radio communications between teams and drivers. If a Mercedes team appeal fails, Nico Rosberg will lose second place in the British Grand Prix due to instructions from team how to overcome shifting problem. 

   8. Tony Stewart -- Good Kentucky finish solidifies his place in the Chase and the Eldora Speedway owner expands World of Outlaws' prestigious Kings Royal to a tripleheader with more than $320,000 in prize money. 

   9. Max Verstappen -- Red Bull's 18-year-old Formula One sensation finishes on the podium in difficult and changing weather conditions during British Grand Prix. 

10. Greg Anderson -- Sixth NHRA Pro Stock win of the season, in eight consecutive final rounds, keeps the Ken Black Summit Chevy Camaro team undefeated.


more next week . . . ]