Television ratings and attendance for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continue to drop, and the series heads this weekend to one of its few flops as a new race market, Los Angeles. Then again, Tinseltown is the worst pro sports market in America, so is anyone surprised?
But never fear, a solution to NASCAR’s woes is here, courtesy of Auto Club Speedway: THE HOFF.
David Hasselhoff, famous from “Knight Rider” and “Baywatch,” being booted after the first round of “Dancing With The Stars” and one of the most legendary videos ever on YouTube, is singing the national anthem before the Nationwide Series race Saturday at the track.
BOOM goes the dynamite! NASCAR’s problems are solved thanks to The Hoff. Remember, he’s huge in Germany.
The Nationwide race at California also will be significant because it will the first of six consecutive Nationwide races for Danica Patrick, with no IZOD IndyCar Series race commitments. The stretch will mark her first back-to-back races in the series since February and March.
Aftershocks from the off-track soap operas so far during the Chase still will be felt this weekend in Southern California. Jim Pedley of RacinToday.com thinks the affair over Clint Bowyer’s car and NASCAR’s subsequent double-denial of Richard Childress Racing’s appeal have put a damper on the Chase.
Gentleman Jim has a point: Is anyone talking about the racing during this Chase? Well, maybe if the racing involves wrecking.
The racing Richter scale continues to chatter over the Carmageddon bump-and-runs between Chaser Kyle Busch and non-Chaser David Reutimann last weekend at Kansas. Rootie is unrepentant, and Kyle’s brother, Kurt Busch, has entered the fray by saying non-Chasers should keep their heads when racing around drivers participating in NASCAR’s postseason.
That’s fine, Kurt. But Chasers also should treat non-Chasers as more than speed bumps or bumper car crash-test dummies. Your little bro Rowdy never has received that message and probably never will.
Meanwhile, that Bearded Man of Mystery is back in the points lead heading to his home track, a place where he normally puts the boot into the behind of his rivals. Then again, if Jimmie wins this weekend at California and extends his points lead, fans will yelp that the Chase is boring, needs changing and is responsible for their shrinking 401K despite eight of the 12 Chase drivers being within 85 points of the lead entering this weekend.
NASCAR can’t win. Yet the racing has been pretty good.
It usually takes awhile for Silly Season to crank up in the IZOD IndyCar Series. But this year is different. Announcements and rumors — good and bad — are flying like Justin Bieber dolls will off shelves this Christmas shopping season.
First, the good. Simona De Silvestro may not have won the Rookie of Year title this year — Alex Lloyd did — but she easily was the most pleasant and talented surprise in the series in 2010. She’ll stay at HVM Racing for the 2011 season.
KV Racing Technology is helping a new team, SH Racing, field a one-car entry for the 2011 Indianapolis 500. No driver has been named, but a sponsor, REDLINE Extreme energy drink, is lined up.
Is it just me, or are energy drinks the new dot.com’s of the racing sponsorship world? Let’s hope the long-term viability of those fizzy, yellow drinks to pay the bills is better than the Internet firms that sprouted and disappeared like crabgrass about 10 years ago.
Two-time American Le Mans Series champions Highcroft Racing aim to run a limited IZOD IndyCar Series schedule in 2011, with an eye on a full-season ride for 2012. Highcroft and team owner Duncan Dayton are the real deal, so this team looks like a solid prospect for IndyCar in the future.
Now for the bad news, and it continues to swirl around one team – Andretti Autosport.
Just a few days after AA announced Tony Kanaan was free to look for a ride with another team because primary sponsor 7-Eleven wasn’t returning in 2011, Michael Andretti’s team announced it needs a primary sponsor for Ryan Hunter-Reay. Series sponsor IZOD picked up RHR’s tab in 2010. AA officials have indicated one company already has made an offer as a primary sponsor, so that’s a proverbial silver lining.
It should be one of the more active Silly Seasons in recent IndyCar memory. VERSUS IndyCar announcer Jack Arute offers his opinions on what might happen.
And speaking of silly, ’tis the season for a good highlight reel of IZOD IndyCar Series bloopers.
MotoGP continues its Asian tour this weekend with the Grand Prix of Malaysia. 2010 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Dani Pedrosa will miss his second consecutive race with a broken collarbone suffered last weekend in practice at Motegi, so Jorge Lorenzo only needs to finish ninth or better to clinch his first World Championship.
Put the mortgage on it. Jorge’s worst finish this season is fourth, twice. He’s been on the podium at every other race.
One of those fourth-place finishes for Lorenzo came after an epic battle with Fiat Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi last weekend at Motegi. The Doctor and Jorge aren’t on each others’ Christmas card lists, and Rossi has no regrets about racing Lorenzo hammer and tongs over the final laps.
And why should he? Rossi may be a happy-go-lucky guy off the bike, but he’s an assassin on it. Plus that battle sent a clear message to Lorenzo: You don’t own me, kid.
Beating Lorenzo must have done wonders for Rossi’s ailing shoulder, as he’s leaning toward finishing the entire season with Yamaha instead of skipping the last two rounds, at Estoril, Portugal and Valencia, Spain, for shoulder surgery.
Then again, Rossi is a master of mind games. Maybe he’s just trying to butter up Yamaha to let him test his new Ducati ride for 2011 the day after the season finale at Valencia.
Rossi’s replacement for 2011 at Yamaha, American rookie phenom Ben Spies, did an interesting video interview with OnTheThrottle. Check it out in two parts here.
Formula One and its raging championship battle are back in action this weekend at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, one of the world’s greatest tracks. But all eyes in F1 remain on Japan’s neighbor to the west, Korea, where the inaugural Korean Grand Prix remains in doubt for Oct. 22-24.
The final layer of asphalt is being paved for the race, and the FIA’s Charlie Whiting is supposed to inspect the circuit Monday. But even if the track passes muster, this race is a disaster in waiting. Come on: Just two weeks for the asphalt to cure?
Yet despite this joke of a race, F1 continues to look east to banana republics as proper spots for races while ignoring places with history, tradition and completed infrastructure like Imola, Magny-Cours and … Indianapolis. Thailand is the next target. At this rate, more than half of the races in the World Championship will take place in the Middle East or Asia, where dictators, despots and oil barons are more than willing to play Bernie Ecclestone’s financial parlor games.
Syracuse, N.Y., is a far distance from Thailand or Suzuka, and the Syracuse Mile doesn’t have the infrastructure of any of Bernie’s speed palaces. It doesn’t have a pavement problem, either, because there is no pavement.
But the Moody Mile is playing host again to one of the most balls-out racing events anywhere on Earth, Super DIRT Week. The SEF Small Engine Fuels 200 this Sunday is the showcase event, the Super Bowl for dirt modifieds. Much like the Knoxville Nationals for sprint cars, it’s roots racing at its hardest, purest and finest.