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interview: discussing ‘in the red’ with dale earnhardt jr.’s former publicist, jade gurss

I’ve been pretty clear about the fact that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the reason that I became a NASCAR fan and subsequently a NASCAR blogger. I’ve chronicled what it meant to me to get to stand in on one of his press conferences and how the MTV documentary “True Life: I’m a a race car driver” is what piqued my interest in racing.

2011MediaDay_JeffGordon_Featured

shortcuts: espn the magazine focuses on speed

How excited are you that tomorrow is the Budweiser Shootout? I, for one, am thrilled. The season is starting again and for this website, and me personally, a lot more stories to share with you guys. I’m planning on road tripping it to Phoenix and Las Vegas later on this month. I’m really looking forward to getting back to the one place in the world that I know ALWAYS makes me happy, NASCAR races of course.

I’m also super excited to crown the first ever Hottest Driver Tournament winner on Sunday. It’s between Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth. Be sure to cast your vote now because voting ends Saturday night (at midnight).

In other news…

ESPN The Magazine - Speed issue 2011– The latest issue of ESPN The Magazine, on newsstands today, focuses on speed. Not Scott Speed, but just speed in general. It features articles on how to survive a crash, Hendrick Motorsports pit crew combine and spotlights Ricky Carmichael and Kevin Harvick.

Jimmie Johnson will be the subject of a segment on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. The show airs Tuesday, Februay 15th. I’m looking forward to this as Real Sports is one of my FAVE shows.

– Rock band Good Charlotte is set to perform live before the start of the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 27th. I’m totally looking forward to the performance and hopefully the band’s lead singer Joel Madden will bring his wife, Nicole Richie, along for support. Auto Club Speedway has special ticket packages available for starting at just $55. For an additional $25 you can have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Check out ‘Fabulous’ News for more news like this.

Michael Waltrip has been doing a lot of media interviews in support of his new book, “In the Blink of an Eye: Dale, Daytona, and the Day that Changed Everything.

While talking with the New York Times Michael revealed that he had never watched the 2001 Daytona 500, the race that he won and took the life of his team owner at the time, Dale Earnhardt. That is until this past July. Michael’s sister Connie tapes all of his races, and he came across the DVD — decorated with hearts and stars and the words “2001 Daytona 500 Winner!” that she’d written on it before Dale’s death had been announced — and watched it for the very first time, commercials and all.

Michael hadn’t been able to talk about the 2001 Daytona 500 for many years but in watching the entire race and then writing a book about that day in Daytona he was able to deal with his feels and find peace with everything that happened.

Andrew Giangola has a review of Michael’s book here, and I was told that Mikey’s book will debut at No. 11 on the New York Times’ Bestseller list when it makes it’s debut on February 20th, the same day as the 2011 Daytona 500.

– Yesterday was NASCAR Media Day down at Daytona International Speedway. The whole thing reminds me of a combination of the first day at school and picture day all wrapped up into one. The drivers spend what looks to me like all day walking around in their new firesuits answering all sorts of questions from the media from all over the place, taking new photos and shooting video spots. I really need to experience that whole thing for myself one day. Anyway, here are photos:


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano speaks to ESPNs Nicole Briscoe during media day Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano speaks to ESPN’s Nicole Briscoe during media day Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya answers questions from the local media Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. during media day.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya answers questions from the local media Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. during media day.

2010 Daytona 500 Champion Jamie McMurray poses during media day Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
2010 Daytona 500 Champion Jamie McMurray poses during media day Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson poses for photos Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. during media day. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson poses for photos Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. during media day. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne reads liners for MRN during media day Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.(Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne reads liners for MRN during media day Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.(Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle talks with Pete Pistone and Mike Bagley from The Morning Drive on Sirius during media day Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle talks with Pete Pistone and Mike Bagley from The Morning Drive on Sirius during media day Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tony Stewart and 2010 Office Depot Foundation Teddy B Caring Bear

christmas gift ideas for racing fans

Teddy B. Caring and Tony StewartChristmas is fast approaching and I thought I’d share with you some ideas I had for great gifts for NASCAR fans.

– Let’s start things off with two Tony Stewart-related gifts. First is the 2011 calendar I gave you guys a preview of last month that features exclusive photos of Tony. I love calendars, I think they make great presents because they last all year with something new to stare at (and daydream about) each month. The second gift is the 2010 “Teddy B. Caring Bear” from the Office Depot Foundation. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of the bear will go to children and families in need around the world. Teddy B. Caring was made by Gund (so you know he’s well made), costs only $9.99 and can be found at Office Depot stores.

“Working with the Office Depot Foundation on its National Backpack Program is one of the most important and rewarding things I do,” Stewart said. “It’s amazing to see the look on a child’s face when they receive a new backpack and are able to head back to school with an extra boost of confidence. Every child deserves that, and I would like to encourage everyone to consider giving a Teddy B. Caring bear as a gift this holiday season in support of the great work the Office Depot Foundation does all year long.”

racing and the single girl

I was walking through a bookstore the other day, something that has become a routine for me these days, and I caught sight of the book “Become Your Own Matchmaker: 8 Easy Steps for Attracting Your Perfect Mate” by Patti Stanger.

Patti is a professional matchmaker and she has her own company called the Millionaire’s Club, where as the name pretty much says it she finds love for dateless millionaires. She’s also got her own reality show on Bravo, called “The Millionaire Matchmaker,” which is how I came to know of her.

Anyway, Patti is known for being super straightforward, cutting to chase and being sort of Simon Cowell when it comes to telling people what’s holding them back from finding true love. It’s one of the reasons why I like her show so much, she’s just honest with people whether they like it or not.

So the reason I’m bringing up Patti and her book is because I started to flip through it and came upon the page that you can see below. It’s from her section on where to find dateable single men. This is of EXTREME interest to me since I’m a single woman who is always on the lookout for eligible bachelors that don’t act like the dudes you see on the show “The Bachelor.” Ya know, a guy that actually wants to be in a relationship, but I digress.


An excerpt from Become Your Own Matchmaker: 8 Easy Steps for Attracting Your Perfect Mate by Patti Stanger

review: the weekend starts on wednesday

The Weekend Starts on Wednesday by Andrew GiangolaMy review of Andrew Giangola’s book, The Weekend Starts on Wednesday: True Stories of Remarkable NASCAR Fans, isn’t really a review, review. I think it’s more of a bunch of paragraphs telling you that you really need to add this book to your NASCAR library. I’m just being honest.

:)

I was actually miffed that during that rain delay at Martinsville FOX didn’t include Andrew’s book when they were treading water waiting for the race to start again, but whatever.

When I say that I laughed, cried and cringed, I am not kidding. This book has it all. It’s truly a book about NASCAR fans from all walks of life. It tells the history of NASCAR through the eyes of NASCAR fans, which is what I think sets this book apart from so many others. It’s great to hear the facts of what it was like to be there on the beach at Daytona when NASCAR was coming together, but it’s totally different to read a person’s memories of it. It’s a fresh perspective on the sport we all love so much.

It’s just a really fun read. Ditch that Jackie Collins novel and take this sucker with you to the beach this summer.

I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting Andrew and so I loved reading about his tales of being a newbie in the Talladega infield and his other hilarious mishaps. I cannot believe he used dry erase markers to hide holes in his pants! I LOL’d at that one. You’re brave for laying that one out there, Andrew. He’s a funny guy and knows how to tell a story. This book isn’t dry, or boring or any of those bad words.

If Andrew ever decides to do a follow-up to this book, my plan is to be in it. Hopefully I can think of something insanely cool to do that would warrant inclusion. Hmm. Maybe I’ll name my first born child NASCAR, or something. hehe.

Buy this book, you won’t regret it. It’s the embodiment of the NASCAR tagline: Yours. Mine. Our NASCAR.

dale earnhardt jr. would totally watch this show

Tomorrow night HBO airs the first episode in a 4-part series that follows Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s team as they prepare for the 2010 Daytona 500. I’m very excited for this show. I think it’s going to be awesome, especially if it’s anything like HBO’s other sports series “Hard Knocks,” which follows a different NFL team through training camp each season (I love that show so much I wish I could be an intern for it or something, I mean really, looooove it). I love, love a true reality series and from the looks of it “24/7 Jimmie Johnson: Race to Daytona” will deliver. Check out the clips below!

hello! tony stewart is giving serious bedroom eyes

Gather ’round for I have news…

– So I Googled myself the other day, as I often do when I’m bored, and found out that I’ve been chosen as one of 101 Women Bloggers to Watch in 2010 by WE Magazine for Women. Check it out! It’s super cool. I’m totally honored to be on the list!

The Weekend Starts on Wednesday: True Stories of Remarkable NASCAR Fans by Andrew Giangola– A new book written by NASCAR’s Andrew Giangola titled “The Weekend Starts on Wednesday: True Stories of Remarkable NASCAR Fans” will be hitting store bookshelves on February 10th and I highly recommend it. It’s all about you and me, the fans of NASCAR. I got to read a couple chapters before it was complete and I think this is a book you’re going to want to pick up. There are stories that will make you laugh and others that will touch your heart. Plus, Tony Stewart wrote the foreword and Kyle Busch wrote the afterword. You can pre-order the book right now over at Amazon.com. And check out this article Texas Motor Speedway posted today about the book, highlighting some of the stories that took place at TMS, along with an excerpt.

Tony Stewart– And speaking of Tony Stewart. I have yet another fantabulous photo of him to share with you courtesy of Office Depot. I am loving Tony’s partnership with Office Depot because they keep making him take all these photos in suits where he looks all snazzy and slick. Like, George Clooney slick. It’s cool, he’s making getting organized sexy.
:)

Anywhoo, enjoy the picture and then check out Office Depot’s Facebook page where you can find tips from Tony on how to get organized for 2010 AND get a 10% discount coupon on qualifying organization products and services at Office Depot. Don’t delay; the coupon is only valid through January 16th!

– For my day job I work for a company called Lowepro, a product design company that builds protective gear for photography equipment and portable electronics. They recently launched a new camera sling bag that is absolutely awesome. I used the Passport Sling™ last year at Infineon and Auto Club Speedway and it is the PERFECT bag for carrying all of my raceday gear. So I wrote up a testimonial and they’ve included it on the Passport Sling™ series page on the Lowepro website. It’s pretty neat, if I do say so myself.

liz clarke interview: the jeff gordon effect

:: This is part two in a series of four posts (to see all of the posts on one page, click here) ::

Me: You talked about Jeff Gordon and his entrance into NASCAR and how that kind of signaled the entrance of, ya know, guys who grew up racing and learned about the whole corporate aspect of it and knew how to answer questions and all of those kinds of things. I’ve always thought of Jeff Gordon as the face of NASCAR, at least to the outside world, or to people who never NASCAR ever or haven’t in their lives. He usually the most recognizable person, I mean, obviously Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty are big too but Jeff Gordon kind of like in the 90′s was like, the guy. Do you think that’s changing as far as, ya know, other people coming through? Like Dale Earnhardt Jr. is so popular and Carl Edwards is like, camera ready.

Liz: Yeah, he is, isn’t he?

Me: And he’s so good at it. It seems like its part of his personality actually.

Liz: Yeah, and it seems very natural and authentic. Not like he went to some school to learn how to talk. I guess there are a few more characters that people associate with NASCAR. And I think, I totally agree with you regarding Jeff being the face of NASCAR in the 90′s. Ya know, it really helped too because his car was so special. Ya know most of those cars then were one solid color. Ya know they were a color and then a number. And he had the rainbow. I mean, it’s different now but I mean kids loved that. It was like the rainbow car with all the colors and it just looked so sparkly. And he was so sparkly.

I live in D.C. which is hardly a hotbed of NASCAR but this Halloween I had two little Tony Stewarts and one Lightning McQueen come to my door. They were in the like little miniature Home Depot suits and it was really adorable. Now, Joe Gibbs of course owns that car so a lot of Washingtonians follow Joe Gibbs, but I do think Tony in that orange car that’s kind of become iconic.

I’m really not at all a fan of Dale Jr. having this two car sponsorship and two car look. Not because I’m opposed to either sponsor or either look.  But I just think in NASCAR it’s such an extension of the driver’s personality is his car. And when you keep switching it, it just muddles the message. I don’t think it does either sponsor a service. Who was it? It was Kyle Busch at California he was back to Interstate; he wasn’t the M&M’s car. It was annoying to me and I love Interstate, don’t get me wrong, but for little kids or new fans part of the way you come to know a driver is the black number 3, the rainbow colored 24 or the orange number 20. I mean I understand the business reasons for it, it’s too expensive, you need multiple companies to pay the freight, but I really think people are missing how serious this is to keep switching the uniform of the guy. It’s basically his uniform.

Me: Yea, I know what you mean. ‘Cause it’s the same thing with Clint Bowyer, he’s doing DirecTV and Jack Daniels. And then he has that switch happening at some point. Greg Biffle has a switch happening. It’s hard to remember which car they’re in, “Oh, wait, that’s so and so.”

Liz: And by extension it’s hard to care. I mean, it sounds silly but it’s just hard to care because that’s not my guy. You’re just more conscious of oh, he’s selling this product this week. You sort of don’t believe, like, “does he really like that product?” It’s not like you get that detailed in your thinking but the guy should look the same. You cheer for the car because you know who’s inside. I love that M&M’s car. I don’t like Kyle Busch, I’ll tell you that, but I love the M&M’s car. It should be in the race all the time.

Me: That’s one point where we totally agree. I don’t like Kyle Busch either. Well two points actually, I totally agree on both of those points.

That’s another thing that’s getting hard. Sometimes at the beginning of every season I have to go through the roster and say “Ok, this guy is with this team now and he’s driving this car, and he’s in these colors now so look for that if you’re looking for him.”

Liz: It’s hard enough as it is, with the regular changes.

Me: It’s one thing if the guy changes sponsors but then he’s changing his entire team, changing his number. I’m like “Oh wait, that’s not David Gilliland anymore, that’s Kyle Busch, so yea, don’t cheer anymore. If you see the M&M’s car just walk on by.”

liz clarke interview: one helluva ride

One Helluva Ride by Liz ClarkeA couple months ago I was given the opportunity to read Washington Post writer Liz Clarke’s new book about NASCAR entitled “One Helluva Ride: How NASCAR Swept the Nation.” I mentioned once before, when I was close to finishing the book, how emotional it made me feel. If you’re new to NASCAR or have been a fan for all of your life you should definitely pick up One Helluva Ride. It gives great insight, from one reporter’s unique perspective, on how NASCAR began and evolved over the years.

Luckily for me I was also given the opportunity to speak with Liz about the book and ask her some questions. I’m posting the results of our conversation here and in subsequent posts. Enjoy!

:: This is part one in a series of four posts (to see all of the posts on one page, click here) ::

Me: Why did you want to write the book and how did it come about?

Liz: I think that my experience was different than a lot of peoples in that I was approached by an editor, a book editor who was familiar with my work at the Post and asked if I had ever thought about writing a book.  She suggested one on gymnastics or tennis, which I was also covering at the time. She emailed and I said I’d love to write a book, I’ve never written a book but if I wrote one I really would feel more comfortable writing one about NASCAR. That’s the sport I know the best and would probably have the most to say and I thought she might go running, ya know fleeing and hanging up, I didn’t know how this would go over but she was open minded. She said “Well I’ll listen to that.” So that forced me to give some discipline to what was the book that I had in mind, I mean what is it that I wanted to say about NASCAR. Ya know and put that in written form, and do a proposal. Ya know one option would have been to focus on one driver’s story. Or to focus on a season in the life of the sport and I really wasn’t drawn to do either one.

I looked at this as the only book that I would ever write in my lifetime and I wanted sort of to say everything, just like say everything that I knew that I felt most strongly about and that there never was room for in a newspaper story or you edit your own self and you think “Well that’s not appropriate for a newspaper story, nobody really cares what I think, or nobody really cares about this funny conversation I had with so and so.” It’s invariably when you talk to people and they know you cover sports the questions they ask you are often the stories you never write, like “What is that person really like?” “What is Bill Elliott like?” or “What is Dale Earnhardt really like?” It’s odd how you never write those stories.

Also I was acutely aware of how rapidly the sport was growing and changing in obvious ways, the closing of several small tracks, the move west to new markets but also the change in the basic driver. The drivers were getting younger, they were from all over the country, they had a certain polish, ya know PR training was new and ya know some of this is easy to admire NASCAR for and really applaud their growth. Some of it made me sad. And so I just felt this overwhelming need to capture all of this before it kind of went away, before it was lost forever. And my, I hope this is not to vague, but my idea was to start the book in 1992 with the first night race at Charlotte. It was the first night race I recall seeing in person when it just knocked my socks off. And then I talked to some smart people and they said “No, no, no, you have to start where the sport starts. You have to start in the dirt.” And I thought “Oh god that’s going to bore people, I won’t get them through that to get to the part that I know.” But I think that was right.

I tried to cover a ton of history really in a compressed way and ya know certainly the book doesn’t stand up as this definitive history of NASCAR. I mean, I skip tons of champions. I ignore big chunks of the sport’s history but it was my version of the sport’s history in that it was to me what was important. To me what was important was the individualism of the people who ran moonshine and then raced stock cars, and the power of Bill France Jr., the unbelievable power that he had, and the warmth of Richard Petty. To me those are the three themes of the first thirty years of stock car racing. So I took some liberties in focusing on that.

Me: Which I think is really great because when people ask you “why do you like NASCAR?” It’s hard to say, because everyone always says “isn’t it just them driving around in circles?” And I’m like, “It’s so much more than that.” It really is the personalities of the drivers that make it so interesting and figuring who your favorite is based off of personality traits or how they interact with the other drivers.

Liz: Yes, I totally agree. And so, I can certainly understand why people change the channel as fast as they can when they see it. If you can’ tell, if you don’t know who’s in the cars, it is just kind of cars going around. It’s hard to explain to people that the people stand for something and that fans feel this connection.

Me: That’s what I liked about Richard Petty’s introduction in your book, which I thought was really cool that you got The King to write an introduction to your book. That’s awesome.

Liz: Oh, I was honored. I was so honored. So you liked that?

Me: Yea, and I liked how he said that if you’ve never been to a NASCAR race you should just go and then, ya know, you watch the cars, pick one out that you’re going to focus on for the race. And then as you keep watching you’ll learn more and then you’ll figure out ok, maybe I want this other driver, and you’ll figure out which one you like and then it can grow into something more. You have to kind of just pick one and go with it. Which is really true, that’s what I did. I started out with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and then I found out about all of these other drivers. I was like “Hey, Carl Edwards is really cool,” and I like the way he handles himself. You broaden your horizons as you keep watching. So, speaking of personalities, do you think that there is less personality in the drivers or different characters? Or do you think it’s about the same?

Liz: Based on what we can see as viewers, whether you’re watching on TV or listening on the scanners whatever, to me there’s definitely less personality. I’m not convinced the drivers themselves are less interesting, but there latitude for expressing themselves is so narrow now, they’re so scrutinized, ya know primarily by their sponsors who are paying the bills. They have to be the corporate pitchman all the time. Ya know, NASCAR probably gets and probably deserves some criticism for muzzling drivers’ personalities, with being very quick to fine and penalize for expressions. I mean, the one that just rankled me to death was when Dale Jr. was so excited after the win at Talladega. Ya know the “it don’t mean shit because my daddy won here ten times” or something. And ya know that use of “shit” wasn’t offensive. The vernacular [was used as a] huge compliment to his dad.

Me: Yea, that got me too. It was like, the moment he said it, it didn’t even phase me, you’re just so happy for him you’re not thinking about what he’s saying. Not the word he used at that particular moment.

Liz: Exactly. Yea, because the whole spirit was: I’m nothing compared to my dad. I mean what a great thing to say. He is something, he is emerging. But it was just a great tribute and a great moment and it was so dour and lame of NASCAR to react to that. I just wish the drivers words and behaviors after winning were not so scripted. I mean I understand corporate money makes the sport go and that these people are in the sport not only because their logo is seen but because their company logo is said by the driver. But I would find any driver who wins a race and gets out of the car and mentions his sponsor before he expresses one authentic emotion. I mean lets have the emotion and then, ya now, fulfill your contract. It’s a long way of saying I don’t think the drivers are boring personalities and you can’t find an interesting guy in the garage with an interesting opinion. I just think they’re almost in a straight jacket about how they behave, whether it’s all the, what are those Gillette drivers? What are they called? (Me: The Young Guns) Yea, Whether it’s all the Young Guns have to shave, ya know. Certainly decorum is called for but ya know and also the whole thing about being fearful of criticizing NASCAR or even questioning NASCAR. I was elated when Dale Jr. said on Sunday this track wasn’t ready to race; it was not a good move. Now that’s perceived as criticizing NASCAR. To me that’s a totally legitimate comment by a guy who was in the car and just got wiped out. I can’t believe more drivers didn’t say the same thing. I was thrilled that Denny Hamlin said it. To me it just bothered me to death that the broadcasters were not already discussing this on TV. Ya know, is this a good decision? You can talk about issues in the sport without slamming NASCAR.

Ya know but people, there’s this culture of you can’t question the Car of Tomorrow, you can’t question any, the length of the races, you can’t question the timing of the starts, ya know, whatever. The sport would be better, I mean Kyle Petty can do it, he can do it.

Me: Do you think there’s a fear amongst the drivers of retaliation from NASCAR? Is there a real, valid fear that if I say something they’re going to dock me points?

Liz: I think that that specter certainly was very palpable when I started covering this sport 15 years ago, 10 years ago. That was a real fear because there was so much more grey area in the application of the rule book. Getting through inspection was a real black box, I mean no one really knew quite what it took. And now I mean under Robin Pemberton and Gary Nelson before him, NASCAR has gotten quite specific and quite literal about what it takes to get through inspection, so there’s not that murkiness. It’s more above board; it’s more on the up and up. But that said, there’s still this vestige I think in the culture of, ya know, this is one man’s sport and he makes the rules and we can play by his rules or leave. That’s the way Bill France built it. It’s not so much the way they run it now but it has, that effect is still in the air.

not another “hello newman” headline

Ryan Newman does a burnout to celebrate his Daytona 500 victory (Photo Credit: Marc Serota/Getty Images for NASCAR)What can I say about the Daytona 500? I’m serious… What can I say about it? I’m stoked that Ryan Newman won, I’m pretty sure that no one was expecting that. I know everyone is saying that Hendrick Motorsports got off to a bad start for the year, which is kinda true but 1.) It’s one race and 2.) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 9th so that’s a win as far as I’m concerned. hehe.

I’m shocked that I’m about to say this, I really, truly am shocked, but Kurt Busch is kinda growing on me. I know! I can’t believe I just said that. I still don’t dig his little brother Kyle, but Kurt showed some real maturity on Sunday and I have to give him props for that. He could have tried to go after the glory for himself but he didn’t, he helped his teammate instead. I so totally respect that. This is freaking me out I have to stop talking about it.

In other news…

How great was it to have Fox back covering NASCAR? Getting to watch the race with Darrell Waltrip, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds is seriously like coming home. No, it’s like coming home with a Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte (with whip cream!) from Starbucks, lounging on the couch with a big blanket and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. It’s that good. :)

I’ve been reading the book “One Helluva Ride: How NASCAR Swept the Nation” by Washington Post writer Liz Clarke. I’m this close to finishing and I have to say that this was the perfect time to read it. The Daytona 500 brings up memories of the past, NASCAR’s beginning and it’s heroes. “One Helluva Ride” is the perfect companion. I wanted to get out of the house yesterday, so I took the book with me to Starbucks. Once I got to the parts about Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001 I was crying — I’m sure the people around me were like “What’s her deal??” At any rate, I hope to get the chance to speak with Liz and ask her some questions. More on that later.


Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images for NASCAR

Actress Amy Smart was a guest of Kyle Busch, who ran the second Gatorade Duel 150 race at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images for NASCAR)

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

Teammates Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch chat prior to the 50th running of the Daytona 500 (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR

Carl Edwards scans other drivers on his radio during Gatorade Duel practice. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)

nascar gifts: how to marry a race car driver

The GirlFinally I am able to write my review of Liz Allison’s latest book “The Girl’s Guide to Winning a NASCAR Driver: Secrets to Grabbing His Attention and Stealing His Heart.”

When I heard that this book was coming out I referred to it as The Holy Grail. I now know that that was a bit much. This book is great and I love the fact that Mrs. Allison wrote it at all, but it’s not an exact how-to guide. It does a great job of separating the “good” girls from the “bad” (aka helmet lickers, groupies, etc.) It’s the perfect book for young women like me who wouldn’t mind it in the least if they could go out on a date with their fave NASCAR driver but aren’t busy hunting them down like prey at every race.

While the book does give some practical do’s and don’ts when it comes to meeting a driver, it also provides the story behind how some of NASCAR’s most famous married couples met. This was hands down my favorite part of the book. I could read a book of just stories of how ANYBODY met their significant other really. I think that if I read more of those then it’ll help me figure out where I should go to meet the man of my dreams. But I digress, back to the book.

There are quizzes that can tell you if you could handle dating a NASCAR guy (I totally passed) and which currently single driver is the right kind of guy for you.

With Christmas right around the corner this is yet another great gift for that special female in your life. If you’re getting this for your wife I dunno what message you’re trying to send.

Just kidding, but really you could get it for anyone. There is practical information in this book for fans in general on the type of manners you should have when meeting the drivers, whether you want to jump their bones or otherwise.

missing infineon, shirtless marco found

I walked into my local grocery store last night and saw Dale Earnhardt Jr. I did a quick double-take but it was only a cardboard cutout of him. I was seriously tempted to find the store manager to see if I could put down dibs on taking the cardboard Junior home with me. If you could live in my brain you’d be adequately entertained by some of the thoughts that run through it.

Anyway… It seems that the real Dale Jr. is feeding his love for Elvis by hosting the first night of the “Elvis Music & Movies” series at Graceland on August 13th, 2007 (that’s a Monday for those of you thinking about going). They’re going to show one of Elvis’ movies “Viva Las Vegas,” which happens to be my favorite Elvis movie. Not so much because of Elvis but more because of Ann Margaret and her song “My Rival.” I love that part, you should rent it.

So Infineon is this weekend and I’m not going to the races. This is the only race that comes to my area but I have to pass on it this year so that I can attend my youngest nephew’s birthday in La La Land (aka Los Angeles). This is how great of an aunt I am, I am sacrificing the chance to see my fave drivers up close in order to celebrate the day my nephew turns 6. Family is important to me and honestly I can get better views of this particular race by watching it on TV.

Infineon is a very fun place to watch a race, but you really have to be in shape in order to get around that place. It’s hilly and only certain locations around the track give the best views. And if you’re going to try and track down the drivers after the race for autographs, be prepared to hike up the hill to the helicopter pad.

I’m sad that I can’t go, and I’ll be extra miffed if Dale Jr. manages to pull out a top 5 finish and I wasn’t there to see it. I like this quote from him about Infineon:

“This weekend is important to me because I’m sick of hearing people say ‘oh, he can’t drive on a road course.’ We’ve been so close here before and have always come away with some sort of issue that takes away from what we can really do. I want a top-10 so bad here, I can taste it. We finished 11th two years in a row and led some laps. It broke my heart that I didn’t get to race the Corvette there in 2004 because of the crash during the morning warm-up. I was angry because it cost that team a chance to race after they had been so good to me, but also because I was really learning a lot and had improved my road racing skills.

Then, in 2005, we had a car I thought had a chance to win the Cup race but we were trying a new transmission and it locked-up on the first lap and I was in the wall. That was so disappointing – and it was even worse when we fixed the car and I went back out and was still as fast as anyone in a car that was beat-up and taped together. It was frustrating, but it was another sign that I can do this. Last year, we passed more than 15 cars on track, moved into the top-10 and then got taken out by a ringer who was driving like a madman. We tested for a day at VIR (Virginia Intl. Raceway) a few weeks back, and I think this is the weekend we get can get a finish that this team deserves.”

In other news…

– Here are the things I wish for AJ Allmendinger: 1.) He qualifies for the race at Infineon this weekend and 2.) He places somewhere in the top 10 at the very least.

courtesy of Red Bull Racing

– NASCAR.COM’s Duane Cross writes about Liz Allison’s soon-to-be-released book (September 7th to be exact) The Girl’s Guide to Winning a NASCAR Driver (Secrets to Grabbing His Attention and Stealing His Heart)… The book provides info on how drivers met their wives and how to grab a drivers attention. Check out the article it’s a fun read, especially the part about Kurt Busch and a horse’s behind.

– Thanks to a reader I now have a link to a photo of Marco Andretti Shirtless… Your endless Google searches can end here.

– Another Infineon bit… Wanna meet Clint Bowyer? Here’s the lowdown on how you can this Friday, June 22nd in Petaluma, Calif.

On behalf of Jack Daniel’s, Bowyer will appear on the mezzanine above the Tolay restaurant at the Sheraton Sonoma County – Petaluma Hotel on Friday, June 22 from 7-8:30 p.m. The hotel is located at 745 Baywood Drive in Petaluma. Bowyer will be on hand to greet race fans and sign autographs.

the holy grail

Good news!

Liz Allison, widow of NASCAR driver Davey Allison, has a new book coming out in September of this year entitled “The Girl’s Guide to Winning a NASCAR Driver.” The book is a follow-up to her 2006 release “The Girl’s Guide to NASCAR.”

I immediately ran over to Amazon.com to see if I could pre-order this sucker but alas it’s not listed yet. I’m dying to know what advice Liz gives on how to lasso your own NASCAR hunk. If anything I’m sure it’ll be a fun read. Until the book comes out check out Liz’s new blog over at the Prilosec OTC Girl’s Guide to NASCAR site.

on the edge

Now that I commute to the City (aka San Francisco) everyday on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, for those of you not in No. Calif. that’s our version of the Subway system in New York, ours is waay better btw) I make sure that I have a book to read during the ride.

This week’s BART book was “On The Edge” by Pamela Britton. I’ve written about Pamela before, even did a mini email interview with her last year, talking about how much I enjoyed her first book in the new Harlequin/NASCAR partnership called “In The Groove.”

These books are romance novels set in the world of NASCAR racing. Being a woman, a single woman at that, reading these books is so much fun for me. There are never any bodice-ripping sex passages but there are enough details to make me grin a little while pouring over the books on BART.

You could say the books are a “guilty pleasure” but there’s nothing to really feel guilty about. Pamela writes with clarity and attention to detail. She’s done her homework on the mechanics of racing so you’re also learning about the sport as well as whatever romantic entanglements the characters find themselves in.

So for whatever its worth — and that’s a lot — I give “On The Edge” two thumbs up!

xmas everyday

Merry Christmas Eve!

I had intended on posting an entry about great Christmas gifts for those racing fans on your list this year, but of course I was sidetracked by other things (work). I’m in La La Land (aka Los Angeles) and finally have some time to sit down and knock out at least half of the list.

1.) “Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby” DVD — This movie is an instant classic. Will Ferrell is hilarious as Ricky Bobby, a cocky NASCAR driver who gets knocked down a few pegs by newcomer, French race-car driver Jean Girard (played brilliantly by Sacha Baron Cohen of “Borat” fame). It’s a fun movie, full of jokes that poke fun at NASCAR. There are tons of memorable quotes, but my personal fave comes from Ricky Bobby himself “Hi. I’m Ricky Bobby. If you don’t chew Big Red, then f%&! you.” The movie also includes cameos from Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, and Darrell Waltrip amongst many others.

2.) “Cars” DVD — I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t actually seen this movie yet. I know, I know, where have I been? I know this movie is good, I mean duh it’s from Pixar. Has there been a bad Pixar movie yet? Plus I’ve heard from very good sources (my three nephews) that this movie is a winner and that’s good enough for me.

3.) Calendars — I have to have calendars, and in different sizes. I have a small one for work and then a big one at home. Since Dale Earnhardt Jr. is my driver of choice, his calendars are the only way to go. But you can find them for pretty much any driver you happen to love. Some new things I’ve found this year is a calendar that honors women in motor sports. It’s called the 2007 Women in the Winner’s Circle and proceeds will go to charity. For those Dale Jr. lovers out there, there is a cool new calendar that shows his life “Off the Track.”

4.) “Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Inside the Rise of a NASCAR Superstar” Book — Love photos? Love photos of Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Well then look no further, this is the book for you! I have personally checked this book out for myself and it’s great. There are awesome photos of Junior in and out of his #8 Chevrolet.

That’s all for now, I’ll post more great racing related items you should own later.

speed dating in daytona

I squealed with delight when I checked my email the other day. There was an email from Harlequin, the publisher of romance novels, touting a special Speed Dating event at Daytona International Speedway in Florida during next year’s Speed Week.

Here are the details from the Harlequin site: (link to it here)

On Friday, February 16, at the Daytona International Speedway®, we invite you to heat up your Speed Week with Harlequin and NASCAR. Get your heart racing with Speed Dating — NASCAR style!

What is Speed Dating? How can I get involved?

Speed dating is a fun way of meeting people with similar interests — did someone say NASCAR?!! If you will be at the Daytona International Speedway® and are interested in connecting with new people who share the love of NASCAR then this is a do-not-miss event. Spend an hour on our SPEED DATING track, racing through 5-minute mini-dates with other singles!

Just sign up at the e-mail address below — you will be contacted with more information in the coming weeks.

Click [email protected] to register for this exciting event. Please be sure to include your name, daytime and evening phone numbers and your email address. We will be contacting you shortly with details of the Speed Dating event.

I’m more than interested in this event. Being a single woman that’s into racing it’d be nice to meet a guy who shares my love for NASCAR. I can’t tell you how annoying it is to meet someone and have their face scrunch up when I mention Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The likelihood of me getting the chance — the most amazing, glorious and wonderful opportunity — to trek down to Daytona for Speed Week and the Daytona 500, is pretty low.

But nevertheless I urge all of you single ladies in the Daytona area to attend this event and then tell me all about it.

buy the book

My mom loves mystery. She loves Perry Mason (she freaked when she found out the series is out now on DVD). She read Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys when she was a kid, and now she’s an avid reader of whodunits by female authors.

One such author is Janet Evanovich. Apparently Evanovich has written a couple books that feature a character that falls in love with a NASCAR driver. The first is Metro Girl, followed by the just released, Motor Mouth. My mom told me about Metro Girl when it came out but of course I forgot, which if you ask her is a normal occurrence.

At any rate, I’m intrigued and I may have to borrow her copies. Check out the first sentence from Metro Girl: “Just because I know how to change a guy’s oil doesn’t mean I want to spend the rest of my life on my back, staring up his undercarriage.”

Nice!

Also out now is Pamela Britton’s latest NASCAR/Harlequin romance novel, On the Edge. In this story a NASCAR widow inherits her late husband’s racing team and falls for the unknown/unproven NASCAR driver she’s just hired.

Read an excerpt from On the Edge.