Monday, February 19, 2018

The No. 3 Returns to Victory Lane to Revitalize NASCAR Nation



No. 3 Chevrolet Burnout at Daytona 500
Austin Dillon Burns it Down After Winning the Daytona 500
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 The No. 3 Won the Daytona 500!  

 Did you notice something about that statement? It's missing a driver's name.  And yet it isn't. While Austin Dillon was the driver behind the wheel when the checkered flag flew on Sunday, it is actually a legend that is still driving the sport 17 years after he died. That is why we now know that NASCAR made the right decision in refusing to retire that mythical No. 3.

When Dale Earnhardt Sr. lost his life in the 2001 Daytona 500, he enjoyed the support of a legion of wildly loyal and vocal fans. In fact, NASCAR Nation was pretty well split down the middle as Jeff Gordon and Earnhardt went toe to toe week after week in an effort to prove just who had the bigger--um-- following.  

After the tragic accident, the sport swayed in shock, but we carried on. We mourned. NASCAR dusted off their focus on safety.  New tracks joined the circuit. New faces were welcomed into the garage.  But the roar of the Goodwrench No. 3 remained a palpable presence in the lingo of our sport.

After a year there was discussion over whether the car number should ever run again--after all, there would surely never be another Dale Sr.  But NASCAR stuck by their stance that they don't retire numbers, and both the Childress and Earnhardt families agreed that retiring the number wouldn't actually do any good.  

 Still, the No. 3 remained under wraps for a while longer.  Those loyal Senior fans remained true, but as time passed the loss of the Intimidator lost its brutal sting. We as fans moved on.

The Return of the No. 3 in 2009 Credit: Mark Odor/SpeedwayMedia.com
Finally, in 2009 Austin Dillon, the grandson of Richard Childress, brought the Black No. 3 back to life when he made his debut in the Camping World Truck Series.  Do you remember how those loyal to the memory of Dale Sr. made some noise? Nobody could drive the No. 3. Never. Why?

Once again, the tales of the Intimidator were brought back to life. NASCAR enjoyed a sense of nostalgia amidst the protests as that No. 3 truck rolled into the track in Iowa.  And so the conversation moved forward, teaching the next generation of racing fans about a driver who pushed the boundaries of right, wrong, champion, and villain all at once.

The No. 3 had become more than a number painted on a wall, or hung on a banner in the Hall of Fame. It now represented the blue collar roots of auto racing. The No. 3 continued to take laps on tracks across America, and in doing so kept Dale Sr.'s entire story fresh in our minds.

So, when Austin Dillon took his No. 3 Chevrolet and executed a bump and run on the No. 10 of Aric Almirola on Sunday afternoon only one thing came to my mind.

That is the NASCAR that racing fans came to celebrate all through the 80's and 90's when Senior and the California Kid created a phenomenon worthy of prime time television. Now, with the No. 3 sitting in Daytona USA for another year, not only will new NASCAR fans get to make some noise about how wrecking ain't racing, but their aging parents and grandparents have a chance to relive all the moments that created Sunday afternoon magic for them over the years.

The story isn't about the drivers this year.  It's about how after all the tweaks and changes to our sport, the Daytona 500 still comes down to who has the biggest bumper and the guts to use it on the last corner of the last lap.  Just as Dale Earnhardt Sr. taught us all those years ago.

The No. 3 could never be retired.  It's not done telling the story of NASCAR in America, yet.  



Monday, February 5, 2018

Sorting Through the Debris Left from NASCAR Silly Season

So, it's only 13 days until the Daytona 500.  Do you even have a clue who is driving which car this year?  Even with extremely popular young drivers enjoying a year of media-driven frenzy behind them, it's not going to be a walk through the park to find your new favorite among the starting lineup on February 18th.

Here's a quick rundown of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars that have new pilots behind the wheel this year. We'll check up with familiar faces in their regular rides as the season goes on.

  Chase Elliot and the No. 9: Elliott took his entire No. 24 team and slapped a new badge on it to honor his father, Bill Elliott. We can expect to see Chase in Victory Lane this year--finally!

 Aric Almirola and the No. 10: After performing exceptionally well in the second-tier No. 43 team (for how many years?) Aric is finally getting his shot at the big time in the car vacated by Danica Patrick over at Stewart/Haas Racing. I totally expect more out of this machine under Almirola's guidance than she ever managed.

Ryan Blaney and the No. 12: While we all really wanted the Wood Bros. No. 21 to rise out of single-team mediocrity with this rising star, the fact is that economics will always drive a winning team.  So, Blaney is heading off to Penske to flesh out the Keselowski-Logano combination.

Erik Jones and the No. 20: A bit like the Blaney story, a lack of funding prevented the stable that won the 2017 Cup to continue to field a second team with possibly the most talented driver that has risen out of the developmental series in the last three years.  Over at Roush, Erik will have his chance to shine.

Paul Menard and the No. 21:  See, Blaney didn't have a sponsor. Menard comes to the Wood Bros. team with his family's bank account funding the season--well, 22 races. Why did they leave Childress? Who knows?...Who cares?  That might be why.

William Byron and the No. 24: This is the King in the chess game that Hendrick has been working toward for the past four years. Jeff Gordon's heir apparent--no, that really was NOT Chase--is stepping into the storied number for his rookie season. The cars and crew have been rebadged from the No. 5 garage. Hold your breath. This could get exciting.

Michael McDowell and the No. 34: Front Row Motorsports is still managing to bodge together enough funding, drivers, and crew to keep filling up the field. If you are a fan, it's one more year where you can get an autograph!

Bubba Wallace and the No. 43: Honestly, this is all serendipity.  Wallace brings an energy and intensity to the track that always translates to his aggressive style behind the wheel. He will be able to maintain the momentum Almirola has been building in this car while placing his own unique personality on the team.

Alex Bowman and the No. 88: While Bowman totally earned this ride after years of scrapping and scraping, he is stepping into a machine that is larger than life. Unfortunately if he doesn't make it to Victory Lane this year, there is a good chance he could slip back into anonymity once again. Bowman lacks the off-track showmanship other young guns possess that helps to leave them in the spotlight.

Kasey Kahne and the No. 95: He's still cute (even though he is 37) And all the girls can still find him at the track, just don't expect for a miracle.  That machine is still powered by guts and determination, but not much else.


NOW IT'S YOUR TURN:
Who do you think will make the most out of their new ride in the 2018 season?

Tweet out your answer and mention me @laregna
Find me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Author.SDGrady/
or Comment below.



Monday, January 29, 2018

Sitting in the Stands Lives On!

No. 24 NASCAR hauler heading home after the race
Heading Home after the Races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Are you ready for race day?  I'm certainly prepared to see our favorite teams roll into Daytona for some serious racing.

In years past you have found my thoughts on everything NASCAR over at Frontstretch.com, but this year I'm heading out on my own.  Believe me, it's all good!

Every week I'll be sharing my thoughts on the latest happenings in our favorite sport right here. I'll be sharing links on social media so you will always know when a new column appears. And just like the headline says, this blog is about us--the fans. I don't repeat what all the big sports outlets are saying, but what I as a fan think and feel. It's the good and the bad.

I'm also a huge New England racing fan, so don't be surprised to see updates on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Stafford Motor Speedway, and Lee USA Speedway among others.

I love hearing from you--the people who sit next to me.  While I might show some love for my favorite drivers, I won't begrudge you the right to cheer for your own guy, even if I don't like them very much.  I simply ask you to do the same.

As the season goes on and I get back in the game of keeping an eye on the racing scene 24/7, let me know what kind of info and fun you would like to see on this page and I will see what I can do.

Ready? Set? Race!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Why the CTRL+ALT+DELETE Exists in Daily Life




What is it that we are actually doing when we do that monstrous Spring Cleaning?  Is it removing bacteria and dust from all surfaces? Is that the important action?  Not at all.  If that were so, in this world of germophobia, our homes would never accumulate the layers of clutter and dust that is typical in most houses.  But we do allow the clutter...

Until we have no freakin' idea where we've put anything.We know that there is the coat by the door, where we place our purses when we get home, normally a somewhat organized food storage system and a general idea of where to find clothing for the day.  But the rest of it? The bills, letters from relatives, keepsakes from short daytrips, the new collar we bought Fido, the bag full of picture hangers because we always intended on putting up that framed photo of Grandma in the hall...it's all important, just not top priority. It gets lost in the redundancy of daily life, vanishing at the bottom of so much irrelevant mental detritus.

Until we get to clean.  Sort through the debris in the horizontal filing systems, inspect the shopping bag tossed in the extra room and rediscover the collection of gifts you bought last summer at that craft show.   As each room unearths its intended purpose once again, so we manage to discover and refocus on plans, goals and actually take a moment to think about what we want to accomplish next.  Oh yes, the cupboard that needs to be reinstalled, the pile of clothes to go to the donation center and a reassessment of paint/repairs and other projects.  If we have time to clean, we have time to work on finishing thoughts, afghans, stories and visiting friends. Spring Cleaning is in fact the equivalent of a biological reboot.

I am by no means preaching that we would all benefit from a spartan life. That would be unexciting.  Boring. Predictable. However, an annual observation of that which we've collected about us is worthwhile.  Otherwise, in this day and age of 90 second attention spans, how are we ever to manage to build upon those fantastic ideas we collect over time?


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

RaceDay Recipes: Sissy's 7-Up Cake

This is truly a recipe passed from my great-aunt to my grandmother and on to me.  It was a holiday tradition to have the foil wrapped cake delivered as part of our Christmas time celebration.  It is a heavy cake, not to be iced--it's plenty sweet as it is.

Ingredients:

 1 1/2 cups butter
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups flour
2 Tbsp lemon extract
3/4 7-Up  (yes-the soda)

Preparation:

 Preheat Oven to 325F


  • Cream sugar and butter together. Beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
  • Add flour, 1 cup at a time and incorporate well
  • Beat in lemon extract and 7-Up
Pour batter into well-greased and floured jumbo fluted mold (I used an angel food pan)

Bake for 60-75 min. 

Serve either warm or cooled. It's delicious any way.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Guest Post: Why I Write Steampunk by C.V. Madison/ Book Giveaway!



There is something fantastic about writing Steampunk. We take the prim and proper world of the 19th century and dial it up to eleven. We take the style of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne and add a little modern nuance. We make our characters push the limits of the world they were born in. It is speculative fiction at its finest.  

There are no cell phones or high powered rifles. No television. You might be lucky to have a radio. Books are all the rage. Your characters have to walk or ride a bicycle. Depending on your timeline, cars weren't invented yet or too expensive for most people to own. Clothing is classy. Stylish. Women often wore bustles and layered gowns. Men wore smart trousers and detailed vests. Hats were removed when indoors. Manners were paramount. Gentlemen offered calling cards before paying a visit. Ladies had sewing circles and ice cream socials. The world was a simpler place.

Setting the stage in the past gives us a wealth of limitations. Limitations we can push the boundaries on. Take social mores and tip them on their ears. Homosexuality was frowned upon, but that didn't stop men from taking lovers under covers. Women were expected to wear skirts and act like ladies, but that doesn't stop them from being like their male counterparts. You like ships? They're steam powered and can fly. How do they fly? You decide. The industrial revolution, as impressive as it was, takes on a whole other burst of ingenuity. It's a bygone era we can use as fuel for fanciful flights of fantasy.

Not as much for the historical? No problem. Steampunk has you covered. Take a fantasy world created from scratch and drop in your steam powered contraptions. What if society collapsed and in its place, a world of steam power crops up? Water is a renewable resource and if we've stripped the planet of its coal and oil, steam seems a suitable power source.

Steampunk allows your mind to wander onto the what-ifs and make them fantastic.

Displaying CVMadisonHeadshot.jpg~~~


About the author
            C.V. Madison is a licensed massage therapist, author, feminist and gamer full of schadenfreude pie and Mountain Dew. She pens urban fantasy, horror and steampunk with a side of heavy romance. Her characters are straight, LGBTQIA and some shades not on the spectrum. She has been published in both fiction and non-fiction anthologies.
            Through the month of November, she can be found in local coffee houses, over caffeinated and armed with her trusty laptop as she strives to bang out 50,000 words in 30 days for National Novel Writer’s Month. She serves as a Municipal Liaison for Columbus, Ohio.
            She is a writer for the Caffeine Crew and does book reviews and promotion for the Yeah Books! Blog.


~~~~

C.V. Madison is celebrating the release of her new book "With Proper Maintenance"

Release date: 09 October 2014
Publisher: Jupiter Gardens Press

Blurb:
Named the youngest head engineer in the history of his company, Ethan Cole’s first voyage on the Platinum Bow is his chance to stand out from his father’s shadow. His dream is dashed by the roguish Cecil Goode, promoted to Ethan’s position just before the ship sets sail. When the Bow is hijacked by pirates, Ethan and Cecil have to work together to bring the pirates’ nearly wrecked ship to safety. Will they make it to port before the ship plummets from the sky? And what will become of the combustible passion between them? Will it outlast the pirate attack?

Book buy links:


 
 ~~~~


Check out the giveaway for "With Proper Maintenance"

Giveaway codes: