Racing's off-season (that of any sport, for that matter), is always an interesting time, and this year is no exception. At least one historic team is closing up shop (Newman/Haas Racing in IndyCar), and at least one championship driver is out of a job for bad behavior (Kurt Busch in NASCAR). There is good news, too, with different teams expanding to new series (Dempsey Racing running both Grand-Am and ALMS), new cars (the Corvette DP for Grand-Am), and new sponsors coming on board.
I watch all of the news reports with lots of interest and no little concern, because I write about a fictional driver and race team in the real racing world. That means I'm constantly hoping nothing dramatic happens to the races and series I'm writing about between one season and the next. For instance, while I was selling my first book, Dead Man's Switch, which is set at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, not only did the track get renovated and restructured, but so did the ALMS class structure (I decided to keep those as written and hope the reader understands).
Another for instance: last year at this time I was worried that the ALMS wouldn't return to Lime Rock for 2012, which would have ruined my plans for launching the book at the race it was written about (fortunately, all systems were a go). At least the race schedule is set for 2012, so I know that the races I'm writing about for the second Kate Reilly Racing Mystery (Road America and Road Atlanta; publication in March 2013!) will stay on the schedule at least this year.
Of course, even if there's the possibility for changes in the racing world messing up my careful plans, there's equal opportunity for more real-world stories to inspire Kate's adventures. A driver fired for swearing and temper? A championship-winning team that fires its crew chief? Sponsor dollars dictating which young driver gets a job over more-qualified (but unsponsored) colleagues? Golden. (And what always happens, for the last one.)
So these days, I'm writing, but I'm also watching the racing world carefully, ready to see what other funny business comes to light. What stories are making you the most interested or excited for the 2012 season?