Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rivalries Great and Small

I'm chatting with a guest today, while Simon Wood recuperates from a bicycle mishap. Welcome, Steve Ulfelder!

What would sports be without rivalries? To the true fan, which side you're on says something about you as a human being. Yankees or Red Sox? Lakers or Celtics? Raiders or ... well, any other team?

Motorsports has known its fair share, as well. Consider Foyt v. Andretti (Mario, that is). Senna v. Prost. Dale Earnhardt (Sr.) v. Wonder Boy (aka, Jeff Gordon). GM v. Ford. Bridgestone v. Goodyear v. Michelin. So here's the question, what's your favorite rivalry?

TAMMY: I'm a recent convert to motorsports fandom, so I don't know much about great rivalries of the past. But of the current or recent scene my favorites are the following:
  1. Porsche v. Ferrari in sportscar racing. I may be new to this, but I'm going to bet you've rarely seen last corner action quite like Sebring 2007, Flying Lizards v. Risi Competizione. Unbelievable wheel-to-wheel action after 12 solid hours of racing! The plucky Porsche just couldn't stay ahead of the evil Ferrari ... well, you see where my sympathies lie.
  2. Audi v. Peugeot at Le Mans. I admit, the Peugeot diesels look cool. But I've been an Audi fan since I started watching racing, so I've got to go with Audi here. The two marques have gone back and forth for years at the big races around the world (see photo at top of page). But I loved, loved, LOVED seeing Audi win at Le Mans this year with the first ever female race engineer to win the event, Leena Gade. That rocked!
  3. Hamilton v. Alonso, McLaren, 2007. I've stated it here before: I'm not a fan of Fernando Alonso. Brilliant talent for driving, whiny git in personality. The bloom is off my Hamilton rose a bit this year, but in 2007, his first year, he was phenomenal and unspoiled. The comparison--and the friction--between the two team drivers was amusing to watch.
STEVE: You’ve got to love a rivalry, especially when there’s genuine bad blood beneath it! Here are a few that spring to mind for me:
  1. Carl Edwards v. Brad Keselowski, 2010. These NASCAR stars hated each other’s guts. The rivalry stemmed, I think, from the fact that Keselowski did not yet have a fulltime Sprint Cup ride. Stuck in the Nationwide Series, he had to watch each Saturday as pretty-boy Edwards grinned his way to his own Nationwide car – which, for Edwards, constituted slumming – and raced (hard and well, I might add). The two never cut each other an inch of slack, and indeed often ran their own personal demolition derby in the middle of a NASCAR race. But after one especially horrifying wreck, Keselowski and Edwards were called to the principal’s office, and the rivalry has since been dormant.
  2. Ford v. Ferrari, Le Mans. In the 1960s, Ford Motor Co. (under the leadership, if memory serves, of Henry Ford II) tried to buy Ferrari – and damn near did. But in the end, Enzo said no. Furious, Ford responded by pumping cubic dollars into a crash program with one goal: beat Ferrari at Le Mans. The resulting car was the legendary GT40, which indeed dominated the world’s greatest sports car race with four wins in a row.
  3. Ferrari v. McLaren/Senna v. Prost, F1. For me, the golden age of Formula One is the early 1990s battle between these two marques. The other manufacturers might as well have stayed home, so superior were McLaren and Ferrari. The fact that Ayrton Senna (Ferrari), the greatest driver I ever saw, was going at it hammer-and-tongs with Alain Prost (McLaren) only made it better.
And I haven’t even mentioned THE rivalry: Ford v. Chevy! But let’s open the floor to others …

TAMMY: Thanks, Steve! What do the rest of you think? What's the greatest rivalry of all time, or just your favorite?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Watching Races … It Ain’t What It Used to Be

Computers, wireless communication, and the Internet have changed our lives, no doubt about it. A case in point that I find interesting is how we fans now experience racing.

Once upon a time, certainly, the only chance you had to be a race spectator was to attend a race in person. The first big change was when races started being televised—at least the big races. Then qualifying was televised. And practice. And other less-known forms of racing. And as much from-the-paddock commentating as possible, if you’re covering or following NASCAR. Much of this coverage comes from the second big change: the proliferation of specialty cable stations. Even when I was growing up, all we had was the basic broadcast channels—yes, I’m older than “cable TV."

But today we have IndyCar and other sports on Versus, lots of types of racing and other sports via two broadcast channels of ESPN, and all-motorsports-all-the-time on the SPEED Channel. Plus major races carried by the major broadcast channels: ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. And I understand—though I haven’t yet succumbed to this level of following or fandom—that one can subscribe to specific cable channels to follow NASCAR drivers’ in-car cameras and radio communications continuously throughout their races.

Of course, the advent of the DVR (TiVo and the like) is the third big change. Now I don’t have to schedule my day around the race schedule—or I don’t have to miss my favorite racing if I have another commitment I can’t break.

And this year, my experience has changed even further. For one thing, I’ve gotten up to speed (forgive the pun) on Twitter (@tkaehler), and I’ve made new friends through it who are also big fans of racing. So first of all, when I’m able to watch a race live, I keep Twitter (or TweetDeck) open and I chat with other fans around the country who are as crazy for racing as I am.

In addition, now that the ALMS broadcast this year is live online (streaming on with a broadcast summary some hours later, I can do even more. For instance, I’m writing this blog with three windows open: Microsoft Word, for writing; a browser with the race streaming live; and TweetDeck, where I’m chatting with race fans. In the #ALMS feed I caught a photo of another fan’s setup: a laptop open to the ALMS race and a TV on for the IndyCar race. That’s multi-tasking I approve of!

There’s nothing like being at a race, to be sure. But if you can’t be there, at least you can be sure you don’t miss a minute of the action, the commentary, or the fan reaction. I’m certainly a fan of that.

How do you all typically do your race watching, and how has it changed over the years?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trusted Voices

SIMON: I love commentators. They are the custodians of the sport. Competitors, teams, coaches and owners can come and go, but commentators are a constant. For they're the trusted voices. They reflect our love of the sport and they keep that love burning. Motorsport is lucky enough to have a number of great people to voice the game. For me I have three standout individuals.

As far as I’m concerned, Murray Walker is Mr. Motorsport. He’s been commentating on motorsport in the UK, since the end of the 40’s. from 1978 – 2001, he commentated on Formula One, traveling to every venue the Grand Prix circus traveled to. Not only that he voiced the commentary for everything that the BBC aired whether it be rally-cross, touring cars or Formula Three. He knew the sport and the drivers. His trademark was his excitability. His voice would climb into a high-pitched wail when the action reached a crescendo. It was fantastic because it was something that matched the excitement of the viewer. He was always respectful to the drivers, which endeared him to them. The other trademark that endeared him to the public was his ability to get something wrong or jinx a driver whenever he endorsed their success. He’d say something like, “With two laps to go, nothing can stop so and so from winning.” A lap later, that driver’s car would be at the side of the track after being struck by lightning or something. He is a character like no other. I thought it was very cool that when he retired from F1 broadcasting, the owners of Indianapolis Speedway gave him a brick from the original track. I believe he's one of the few non drivers to be given one.

The US doesn’t have someone like Murray Walker, but America does have Paul Page. Paul covered Indy car racing for nearly twenty years and he was brilliant. When I came to the US, it was his commentary I wanted to here. Paul Page has a voice of authority like a racing equivalent of Walter Kronkite and Tom Brokaw. When he talks, you know you're hearing something worthy of hearing. Sadly, ABC dumped as an anchor in 2004. I don’t know why and to be honest, their coverage has been the same. The last time I saw Paul Page, he was commentating on the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating competition, which I found very sad. I very much miss him.

Lastly, I’m a big fan of ex-driver, Scott Goodyear. Of all the “color” commentators out there, he's the best. He's not only someone who knows what he's talking about because he's done it, but also because he brings an insightfulness and intelligence that no one else brings. If Scott is talking, I listen.

So who cuts the mustard for you, Tammy.

TAMMY: I have a lot of favorites, but the one who tops the list is the guy I think is the hardest working talker in motorsports: John Hindhaugh. He's the voice of Radio Le Mans, and as such he covers the 24 Hours of Le Mans and all of the American Le Mans races (he does much more, including work for Eurosport, MotorsTV, ITV, XM Satellite Radio ... but I hear him streaming on Radio Le Mans or on the PA live at the ALMS races). This man knows a ton about racing, knows all the drivers, and just flat out loves what he does. You can tell. He's always excited about the action he's seeing, whether it's the first hour or the 12th. And let me tell you, he has stamina. I've seen him do a 10-hour Petit Le Mans all by himself, and then hustle to the Winner's Circle for those ceremonies as well. He's not a bad driver either; I've had the pleasure of a lap around the Long Beach Grand Prix track with him in a Corvette street car, and he knew what he was doing.

I have to also give a shout-out to Leigh Diffey, Calvin Fish, Brian Till, and Dorsey Schroeder. They were the team of SPEED commentators in 2004 when I was involved with an ALMS sponsor, and they're friendly, fun-loving guys who like to tell tall tales. It's no secret that they inspired the SPEED commentators in my new mystery novel.

Beyond them, I find Brad Daugherty fascinating, because he had a career in pro basketball, then owned a NASCAR truck team, and now commentates for ESPN. And I have a new favorite: Rutledge Wood, SPEED motor racing analyst and co-host of the new US version of Top Gear. I'm absolutely biased by the fact that I recognized him in an airport a couple weeks ago and introduced myself. He couldn't have been nicer. Not only did he let me give him a copy of my book, but he claimed to be excited about it!

What about the rest of you? Who do you trust and look forward to hearing? We've been pretty nice here ... is there anyone who you won't listen to?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What Do Drivers Do During the Week?

Races take place during the weekend, so what happens during the rest of the week? Well, teams test their cars. Teams and drivers can rent track time from circuits. This allows the teams to experiment with the cars and the drivers can learn the track and more about their car.

The reason I mention midweek testing is because Tammy likes multi-class sports car racing. Well, midweek testing is the nearest thing to multi-class racing I ever did. I don’t know how they do test sessions in the US, but it’s a little rough and ready back in the UK. Except for Formula One, every kind of racecar will go out on the track at the same time. If a lot of cars have signed up, open wheel cars and tin tops are separated, but if the day isn't too busy, it’s a free for all. I have to say I loved mixed testing sessions because it was so wild. I raced Formula Ford and the cars I competed against were other Formula Fords, so the difference between the cars’ performance is measured in inches. Not so in mixed testing. My Formula Ford could be sharing the track with Formula Renaults, Formula Threes, Formula 3000 (back then), but also Porsche Cup and Ferrari Challenge cars as well as a touring cars, Miatas and anything else that had race series dedicated to it.

In these situations, you got to know where you stood in the automotive evolutionary scale. My little Formula Ford would make mincemeat of most production car based series. I could give the Porsche Cup 911s & Ferraris a run for their money. The F3s and F3000s made me look arthritic in comparison. I remember a Porsche sports prototype getting in some laps before setting of for Le Mans. That thing was stunning. I could be halfway down a straight and that thing could come up out the corner behind me, catch me and leave me in its wake before I reached the next corner. We were warned to keep an eye on our mirrors at all times. But with a car like that, you didn't need to. It made the ground shake under you when it got within a hundred yards of you. Midweek testing was sometimes as exciting as an actual race.

Like I say, I never got to race in a multi-class event, but my midweek testing experiences taught me that I would have liked it. :-)

Yours in the pit lane,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Are Racecar Drivers Athletes?

It's a question that pops up now and then, mostly, as in this case, posed by the uninformed. With disdain.

Last week, during the ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Awards, a football player for the Seattle Seahawks, Golden Tate, unleashed a firestorm in Twitter, which quickly made its way to the media. The spark? In response to five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson’s nomination for Male Athlete of the Year, Tate tweeted “Jimmy johnson up for best athlete???? Um nooo .. Driving a car does not show athleticism.” (There's Jimmie with the ESPY he did win for best driver.)

Now, part of the problem with this situation is the source. Golden Tate (no disrespect to his ability on the playing field) is, perhaps, easy to make fun of, having recently broken into a donut shop because of an overwhelming need for maple bars. Really. Not to mention the bad grammar, spelling, and punctuation of his tweets (hey, I’m a writer, these things matter to me).

And in our current age, it’s really easy for anyone with a computer to toss out an opinion—often vituperative—whether in an article, blog, tweet, or comment. So the twitterverse quickly responded to Tate—and it wasn’t just NASCAR fans responding, but fans of all kinds of racing, amateur and pro drivers, and reporters who cover the sport. Plus, of course, those who agreed with him.

In the end, Tate backtracked, saying “I'm not saying NASCAR isn't hard I'm just saying u don't have to be athletic to do that...” and following it up later in a radio interview, saying, “I did read up and educate myself, and I will say this: They are incredible people to do that. After reading up on it I do have respect and I do want to apologize to NASCAR nation.”

Here’s my take. I think of drivers and golfers the same way. Does being professional driver/golfer require being an Olympic-level decathlete? No. Will you be better at it if you’re fit and strong and have a lot of endurance? Absolutely, yes. I have seen plenty of drivers with pot-bellies or who look like they’d have trouble running a couple miles. But the drivers I know, both pro and amateur (and I’ve met quite a few), are some of the fittest people I’ve ever seen. They run marathons and triathlons in their spare time. (Oh, and do you see that photo of Tony Kanaan, IndyCar driver? Tell me he’s not an athlete.)

Do they have the dexterity and athleticism of a top-level basketball player (the comparison Tate was making)? Perhaps not. But for two, three, or four hours at a time, their heartrates are raised, they’re withstanding high g-forces, they’re sitting in a 100-degree sauna, and they’re maintaining the kind of focus required of a fighter pilot—where the slightest lapse of attention can have dramatic consequences. All while they’re going up to 200 miles per hour, just inches away from dozens of other cars.

You can call it athleticism or not. But I certainly do.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Racing Bucket List

Today we're talking about races and tracks we most want to see.

Tammy: I've been lucky enough to see a lot of great racetracks, though my viewing has been biased to the sportscar racing that I write about. But there are still a number of must-dos on my list ...
  1. The 24 Hours of Le Mans. That's absolutely at the top. I've been following the American Le Mans Series and talking to drivers, teams, and friends who've gone to participate or see it. I've watched it for years. I want to write about it. I just can't wait for the real experience! (Next year, I hope.)
  2. NASCAR at Bristol Motor Speedway. I attended a NASCAR Cup race at a longer racetrack (Fontana), and the sights and sounds blew me away. But I want to see short-track racing, particularly at the track drivers describe as "flying a jet fighter in a toilet bowl."
  3. Formula 1 at Monaco. It's the crown jewel in racing worldwide, isn't it? I want to see the spectacle of the series, the location, and the attendees every bit as much as I want to see the race.
  4. The Nurburgring. I don't care if I see a race or just get to drive around the track with the hundreds of other people who queue up and pay their fee. I have got to see the 13-mile extravaganza of a track!
  5. Formula 1 at Spa. I want to see the fastest cars in the world dealing with the complex of Eau Rouge and Raidillon, launch into the steep uphill of the Kemmel Straight, and trust skill and luck over the blind rise into the corners of Les Combes.
I know there are more, but those are the ones that leap out at me. Simon, what's at the top of your list to see?

SIMON: I have to be a copycat but I would agree with you on 1, 3, 4 & 5 on your list. I want to do them for the exact same reasons as you. We may have to take a joint trip for items #1 & #4.

But I would replace Bristol with Black Rock Desert where the land speed records go to be broken. I’d love a chance to blast across that hot and dusty service.

If I can, I’d like to add a 6th item to my bucket. I’ve never driven on an oval track and I’d like to have a go. If I could have my pick, I’d like to a whip around Michigan International Speedway because it’s a two-mile super oval with crazy steep banking. It’s a case of go big or go home (via the hospital, probably).

That's us, what's on your bucket list when it comes to your driving ambitions??

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lime Rock Love Fest

Being at Lime Rock Park this past weekend to officially launch my new mystery novel reminded me why I set the book there in the first place: it’s a lovely and inviting place.

Racetracks come in many flavors. Speedways are usually monuments to concrete and steel (though some, like Daytona, have a water feature in the middle of them). Street courses are, of necessity, made of asphalt, concrete, and temporarily decommissioned streetlights. And road courses, can be dusty and sun baked (out west, where I live) or lush and green (other parts of the country).

Most of the time, fans watch from grandstands, and at road courses in particular, they see only one or two corners of the track—when the course has as many as 14 turns, it’s a small percentage. We’ve already chatted about the view of all the racing action being part of the appeal of oval courses. But I’m a road-racing fan … so what am I to do?

The cheapest answer, of course, is “watch it on TV” (and I do, whether I’ve also attended the race in person or not). But there’s nothing like being at a race. The sights, sounds (that roar as they come to the green!), the smells (race fuel, exhaust, and tire rubber), and the feel of going home that night knowing you’ve been at an event.

My preference when attending a road course is to roam the track, sitting in different corners at different points of the race—and being sure to get a view of the pits for some portion of the action. The roaming concept is how I approach the famed Laguna Seca course in Monterey, to which no visit is complete without a stroll up the hill to stand next to the Corkscrew—that truly must be seen in person to comprehend the magnitude of that piece of the track!

If we’re talking about the great American road courses, Laguna Seca will be mentioned, as will Watkins Glen and Road America. But one of my all-time favorites is Lime Rock Park, in Lakeville, Connecticut. It’s a short, quick course for drivers, in which there are few breaks. I’ve heard it referred to as a bullring of a track, or the Bristol of road racing (that’s a description owner Skip Barber doesn’t care for much, he explained to a group of fans this weekend).

From the fan perspective, Lime Rock is small, easy to navigate, and has no grandstands. It’s a park with a racetrack in it, and as such, attracts a lot families and groups out for a fun day. I found people on this trip to be universally pleasant and friendly and enthusiastic. I met track volunteers who drive as many as three hours to contribute their time on race weekends, and I met a man who has lived right around the corner and has volunteered for nearly three decades.

It’s a great place to watch a race, and it’s a great place to be for a day. If you get the chance, I highly recommend getting there for a race or two. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

And Don't Spare the Horses...

SIMON: Maybe it’s because I’m from gentile Europe, but personally, I’m not all about the power when it comes to cars. BHP for BHP’s sake doesn’t turn me on. Don’t get me wrong. I likes the power, but it’s got to be more in combination with the car’s weight.

I’m with Colin Chapman when it comes to a car's power to weight ratio. Keep the weight down and maintain the power and all is right with the world. Muscle cars are nice, but they have to lug around all that weight too. That negates the point of the power. There's some classic footage from the 60’s of Minis beating Ford Falcons in the British Touring Car Championship. They didn't have the straight line speed, but they could carry it through the corners. Now that’s what I’m all about. Power with agility. That’s why I have no interest in a Bugatti Veyron. It has an awesome amount of power, but there are so many bells and whistles hanging off it to make it work that the car isn't that quick on a track. Me, I’d rather have a Caterham Seven. It weighs as much as most carry-on luggage and has the power to weight ratio to turn your hair white. It’s simple, effective and fun, fun, fun…

So where do you stand on the power equation?

TAMMY: As I'm not a drag racing fan, straightline power alone isn't interesting to me. I like cars to turn well. That said, I'm not interested in a motor strapped to a skateboard--I like a little more meat on a car. I'm really a fan of the grand touring car, aka, race cars that look like street cars. Those are going to carry more weight than Simon wants. Basically, I'm willing to compromise some performance and agility for some more "carness," so long as there's a good balance between acceleration (the technical sense of "performance") and braking and handling. I guess it should surprise no one that I feel this way, given that I chose to write about a Corvette....

SIMON: I blame the single seater experience. If it doesn't help the car performance, then it's not needed. :-)

Oddly, my current car is the first car to have air conditioning. In the past, I've turned the option down as it drains the power and adds weight. I suppose there is a little compromise in me after all. :-/

TAMMY: I live in Los Angeles, so air conditioning isn't an option! But really, Simon, giving up AC for more power in your street car ... are you racing people down the highway?! If there's one thing I've taken away from my experiences with racetracks and racecars, it's that a streetcar isn't ever going to be a racecar, and there's just no place on the street to really let a high-powered car loose. Unless you have a location I don't know about. :-)

SIMON: I take pleasure in the little things and sometimes I'll discover a sweet curve somewhere and that little bit of extra power is worth every penny. And with a Caterham, it's air-conditioning all time. :-D

It's down to you lot now. What do you think, race and car fans, about the power/weight equation? Would you choose a Veyron over a Caterham Seven? A Corvette over an open-wheel single-seater?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green

I try to be green. I recycle. I reuse and repurpose. I keep my travel local. I even cycled to work (when I had a day job). I grow fruits and vegetables. I even have a beehive in my garden. I do all these things to keep my carbon footprint on the petit side. That said, I love motor racing and fast cars. My car has a V6 for no practical reason. I went with a V6 over a 4-cylinder for the simple reason I liked the sound and the fact that it pulls like a train from lower down on the power band.

So okay, okay, maybe I’m not that green all time, but at least I try. Kinda.

As someone who cares about the environment, it’s hard to reconcile my love of motor racing some times. Yes, motorsport has improved automotive safety, aerodynamics, engine outputs and bunch of other things, but that only occurs at the top level of the sport where it’s a living, breathing R&D exercise. Not so much in the lower levels of the sport where I used to dwell. On any given race day, there's at least two to three hundred cars competing at any one circuit. Throw in all the vans and trucks transporting those racecars too and there's a lot of petrol being burned at every event. The only positive contribution my fellow brethren and I ever made was towards the country’s GDP and not the environment.

The same applies to my road car, I could get by with a Smart car, but I do love to drive something that eats a little more gas and punts out a little extra CO2. To offset my guilty pleasure, I drive less than 5,000 miles a year.

I suppose it comes down to that fact that I need to nourish my soul as well as my environment. Driving on a winding stretch of road fills me with a glow. That glow can be seen from space when I’m in a racecar.

I could do everything thing minimize my impact on the environment, but it wouldn’t be much fun and life is about living and not punishing yourself. We maybe condemning ourselves to an early grave, but it’s inevitable really. We have to consume to exist. Depressing, but true.

I do plenty of things to conserve, but you're going to have excuse this one vice of mine. Like that wise old sage, Kermit once said, “It’s not easy being green.”

Yours conflicted,

Monday, July 4, 2011

Holiday Book Recommendation: Sunday Money

Long, holiday weekends … perfect for overeating and, when you’ve worked up a sweat from outdoor fun and games, perfect for sitting in the shade with a book. In honor of the long weekend, and our nation itself, I wanted to share one of my favorite racing books, and the best thing I’ve ever read about NASCAR.

The book is Sunday Money, A Hot Lap Around America with NASCAR, written by Jeff MacGregor, a senior writer with ESPN. The basic facts are that MacGregor and his wife got themselves a small motorhome and cris-crossed the U.S., following the NASCAR season, trying to understand how and why the sport has become so popular and pervasive.

The time was 2002. The nation was reeling from the September 11 attacks, and a certain subset of the nation was reeling also from another blow: the death of Dale Earnhardt. MacGregor is a man who gets how sports tap into our collective human psyche, but he doesn’t really yet understand NASCAR, so he sets out in search of enlightenment. The journey I took with him gave me a new level of insight into racing and the fan experience.

But all of this makes it sounds hifalutin and boring—which it most definitely is not. In fact, the book is freaking hilarious. MacGregor is a great writer, regardless of topic or genre. I've read the book three times, and I laughed out loud at a couple scenes every single time. And then again when my husband read them. (I’ll pay you a dollar if you don’t laugh at his description of driving the motorhome for the first time.)

So if you're curious why more than 75 million Americans have joined "NASCAR Nation" or why you see race car drivers emblazoned across commercial product packaging, read Sunday Money. You'll be entertained and enlightened ... about NASCAR, of all things. I’d like to hear what you think.

Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Who Don't You Love?

We’re talking drivers. Let’s hear it.

TAMMY: I don’t actively dislike many drivers. Mostly I like a few and feel ambivalent or mildly supportive of the vast majority. But there are two I really, really don’t care for.

1. Fernando Alonso, Formula 1. Nothing summarizes my feelings for him so much as the phrase “whiny git.” I don’t deny his mad racing skills. I simply find the personality and behavior he’s chosen to display to the public to be arrogant and complaining. No thanks.

2. Kyle Busch, NASCAR. Again, a guy who’s crazy-good behind the wheel. But a loose cannon and devoid of class. If he’s winning by a large margin, I turn off the race. My hopes for NASCAR races are ABK (anyone but Kyle).

SIMON: The driver I have an issue with these days is Danica Patrick. I'm not sure I'm allowed to say that. My issue with her is that the way she presented herself to the public is that she gives off an air of entitlement and that's one thing really gets me huffing and puffing. I know there's a lot of expectation around her because she is the sport's number one female driver, but expecting the world to fall at her feet because of it, I find quite annoying. If she was a little more humble, I'd like her a lot more.

But I don't want to focus on the negative. Who do you like?

TAMMY: How positive of you, Simon! (And I find it hard to argue with you about Danica. Part of me thinks, "work it while you can, girl," and another part of me is just annoyed with her.)

Who DO I love? Hands down, my favorite driver ever is someone few people have
heard of: Patrick Long. He's Porsche's only American factory driver, and has been for seven years now. He dabbles in stock cars on off weekends (and does well), he's won Le Mans (twic
e in class), and he took the Australian V8 Supercars series by storm when he visited with a number of other "international" drivers for an event last year. He speaks a bunch of languages, is polished and articulate at all times to all people, and is simply a nice human being. And no, no crushing here, more like a proud older-sister. He was the rookie driver for the team I was involved in back in 2004, and I've kept in touch with him and watched his career skyrocket. He deserves any success coming his way, as he's just one of the good guys.

In other series, I liked Lewis Hamilton more last year than this. I like Tony Kanaan (not sure why, because of same initials?). I like Tony Stewart for being a pure racer. How about you, Simon?

SIMON: My all time racing hero is Jim Clark. His racing stats speak for themselves. I've read his autobiography and a number of biographies and he seemed like a very humble and honest man who loved racing for racing. I wish I could have met him. I'm a big fan of Nigel Mansell too. I loved that he was a total animal with his cars. They will bow to his will. I have a real soft spot for Johnny Herbert. I knew a couple of mechanics that worked with him in F3 and said he was an absolute star in the car. He could make an absolute crate fly, but was an awful test driver because he couldn't tell you word one how to make the car better. I admired Ayrton Senna. Probably the most intuitive driver who ever lived. The BBC did a documentary series about McLaren. He left me slack-jawed when he predicted an engine problem before the computer did. Amazing ability. Also I have a soft spot for all British drivers in the sport. I want them all to do well, but I may be a little biased. :-)

TAMMY: I won't argue with either of us being biased. What about the rest of you? Who do or don't you love?