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.

Friday, June 29, 2012

See Us Saturday!

TAMMY: We're not conversing on the blog today because we'll be talking live and in-person tomorrow in Southern California ... and you're all invited to join us. Come talk mysteries and racing--and help celebrate the release of Simon's second entry in the Aidy Westlake series, Hot Seat.

Saturday, June 30, 2 p.m.
Book Carnival
348 S. Tustin Avenue
Orange, CA

(Maybe we'll even take a better photo together.)

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


By Simon

I'm pleased and proud to announce that the second of the Aidy Westlake mysteries, HOT SEAT, is out in the US a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.

Things are looking good for Aidy Westlake. He's Pit Lane magazine's Young Driver of the Year, which has earned him a drive in the European Saloon Car Championship. But his good fortune ends at a race car show when he discovers Jason Gates, a mechanic from a rival team, with his throat cut. The murder sets off a disturbing chain reaction - someone is breaking the rules in the ranks of saloon car racing, on and off the track.

"Racing scenes enliven the action as Aidy tries to extricate himself from trouble by trapping a killer."
~Publisher's Weekly
"You can't stop reading."
"Watch Aidy get into one jam after the next."

The book should be in bookstores across America and Canada. It has been available in the UK since late March. For direct links to some of the stores carrying the book, pop over to

Saturday, June 30th, 2:00pm
348 S. Tustin Avenue
Orange, CA 92866

I hope you'll pick up a copy of the book.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Road Course in NASCAR's Chase

by Tammy

During NASCAR's race at a road course in Sonoma, CA, today (can we call it Sears Point again? I think so), the broadcasters posed the question: Should there be a road course in NASCAR's chase to the championship. And they asked people to respond with #roadyes or #roadno on Twitter. (I was shocked when they showed response percentages mid-race and 74% were voting yes.)

None of you will be surprised my answer is a resounding YES. In fact, I think NASCAR should race four road courses every year, and one of them should be in the chase. I'm not arguing with ovals (what would be the point?). But when you're talking about the best driver in a series, I want to know that they're the best across types of tracks. I understand the drivers are tested across superspeedways and mid-distance, and short tracks. But that list should also include road courses.

And I'm sorry for the person who tweeted "Jr is in 23rd.. this is why I vote #roadno" ... but Junior and the rest of the drivers will just have to get better at road courses.

Though I did appreciate one #roadyes respondent who pointed out, "NASCAR's been racing on roads since inception and bootleggers did make right turns. It's true to the sport."

I submit for consideration the idea of stock cars in the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca (top map). Or sending the Cup cars with the Nationwide cars to Road America (right).

What do you think? Should there be a road course in NASCAR's 10-race Chase? And where would you love to see the Series run?

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Simple Life (According to IndyCar)

SIMON: A couple of months ago I moaned about the British Touring Car Championship and their overly complicated racing regulations which include weight penalties and reverse grids and lottery draws for grid spots. Well IndyCar is getting in on the fun with the race in Iowa this weekend. The second practice session will determine qualification groups for qualification races. The 1st qualification race one will then be made up of even-numbered positions starting from the 10th-quickest practice time, and will decide the grid from 10th downwards. The 2nd will feature the odd-numbered positions and include the 9th fastest time down. The 3rd race will feature the top eight drivers from practice and they will duke it out for the top eight places on the grid. I hope some of this makes sense to you as it made my head hurt.

I understand IndyCar is trying to inject a little extra drama into the race weekend, but I shouldn’t need a slide rule and a responsible adult to explain it. This is racing. First passed the post wins. We don’t need the razzmatazz. It’s got enough already. Do you agree or disagree Tam Tam?

TAMMY: Well, in theory, I agree with you. However, IndyCar has an image problem, and they're trying a lot of different approaches to lure viewers. I think it actually sounds kind of exciting, you know, a chance to see four races instead of one--and given the (short) length of an IndyCar race, that's kind of cool. Though you're right, the formula for all of this seems ... arcane. At least it's better than the random-draw starting grid from the Texas doubleheader last year. The drivers hated that.

I suppose my feeling is sure, give me variety. I like when NASCAR runs road courses (yay for Sonoma this weekend!). I like that ALMS race lengths vary from 2:45 to 4:00 to 6:00 to 10:00(ish) to 12:00. So I like the idea of shaking things up and seeing how the drivers and teams respond ... writing that makes me think of my Monday blog where I wrote that part of what I like about watching endurance racing is seeing how teams and drivers fare when pushed to their limits. Well, this is pushing IndyCar teams and drivers out of their comfort zone. So let's see how they do.

What do the rest of you think? Looking forward to the show? Or do you think it's all a big gimmick the racing series doesn't need?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

LeMan's Top 50

By Simon

I know Tammy loves her sports cars, so this is for her. Autosport has done a great little feature. They have compiled the top 50 cars ever to compete at Le Mans. I might re-arrange the running order and I might substitute a couple of cars for some overlooked cars. However, they have nailed it with a couple of cars that I love. Two of my all times fav sports cars are the curvy Ferrari 330 P3 and amazing Ford GT40.

I wish I could embed the slideshow here, but you're welcome to check out the Top 50 here.

Autosport are looking for people to list their people on their Facebook page, so join the argument, but if you'd like to start a fight here, I'll be more than happy to tustle. :-)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why Le Mans?

by Tammy

I spent a lot of time this weekend watching (sometimes on 2x forward on the DVR) the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I was disappointed that Patrick Long and the Flying Lizards didn't finish (they can't hardly buy a break at that race), that the Corvettes weren't competitive (their worst year in modern memory, save one, perhaps), and that Tom Kristensen (Mr. Le Mans) didn't win his 9th race. But I did love seeing Audi engineer Leena Gade direct her team to a second consecutive victory. You go, girl!

Every year that I watch this race, I am more astonished at the effort, expense, and emotion associated with it. Teams spend millions of dollars and an entire year preparing for this 24 hours of competition. Some teams, such as Audi, spend weeks drilling the crew on car repairs, and run 30-hour tests. All so that they're prepared for anything.

The reality of a 24-hour race, however, is that you won't be prepared for everything. But what can set you apart is how you react to what goes wrong. That's true in life, as well as racing.

I know that most of what speaks to me about racing is a love for the stories of the people involved (this is why I make some up). So it shouldn't surprise anyone that the drama of the number one sporting event in the world (so says National Geographic) thrills me to no end. Because there's no end to the stories, and no end to the human struggle to overcome.

I watch the race thinking, "Can they keep the car running that long? Can they stay awake? Can they fix it?" Above all, I wonder, Can they do it? And watching those competitors climb their own mountains inspires me to climb my own.

What do you all get out of watching Le Mans or any other of your favorite races? Why do you love racing?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Austerity in F1

By Simon

A couple of things caught my attention in the last week and they both centered on the same thing—money. If you hadn’t heard the news, in 2014 F1 will be going back to the turbo-charged cars in what is likely to be a 1.6 liter V6. Also the cars will have to be hybrids—kind of. The big change is that the cars have to run on electric power in the pit lanes and on gas on the track. This is all part of a campaign to make F1 a tad greener. We can argue the merits of turbo/hybrid cars another time. The big issue is here is money. F1 will essentially have to go back to the drawing board with their design which means massive investment. Unfortunately, we’re in the middle of a global recession and in the words of the Valentine Brothers, money’s too tight to mention. I don’t know if the 2014 regulations are cast in stone yet, but if they are, there are rumblings that there’ll be cutbacks in F1 budgets in some shape or form and salaries might be the place where it happens.

Another indicator that the boom times might be over in F1 came in a comment that Ron Dennis (McLaren’s head honcho) made at the Canadian Grand Prix at the weekend. He was asked about contract negotiations with Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton is in the last year of his contract. It’s been speculated before that McLaren could lose Hamilton to the likes of Red Bull. The interesting comment Ron Dennis made was that he’d like to have Hamilton stay, but Hamilton needed to remember that he signed a contract before the economic crash and people needed to be realistic about salary demands. Was that a public reminder to Hamilton that he shouldn’t expect a pay boost? It seemed like it, but it could also be a McLaren negotiating tactic. Either way, it’s the first time I’ve ever heard that F1 one was feeling the economic pinch.

All I can say is that we live interesting times. :-)

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Why of NASCAR

by Tammy

(I picked up this book recently, to read it for, I don't know, the third time? And I still love it. Partly it's his writing style, partly it's the reminder of why fans are they way they are. So I'm rerunning my review, hoping to prompt other people to check it out.)

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: Speed! Lust! Madness! Death! 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.

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.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Canadian Roulette

By Simon

Hi all,

Just me today. Tammy is a little tied up, so like most days, I’m just talking to myself. Anyway, onto the Friday thought.

The Canadian Grand Prix is up this weekend and people are wondering whether we’ll have a 7th different winner in seven races. Formula One is proving to be a tricky playground this year. There's no dominant team or driver like there has been over the last 20 years or so. Tires seem to be the leveler this year. They aren’t kind to anyone.

So is this a good thing? Do you like the fact that any driver can win?

Personally I like the unpredictability of F1 this year. This really is anyone’s year and that adds some real excitement to the sport. If this trend continues, F1 could end up as fun as IndyCar. :-)

I do have a quick follow-up question: do you think Michael Schumacher was wrong to come back to F1?

Undoubtedly, he's a great driver, but I think it was a mistake to come back. You can’t trap lightening in a jar twice and this come back will only diminish his achievement.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bad Behavior

by Tammy

I complain about Kyle Busch a lot. I haven't said much about his brother, Kurt (KuBu for Kurt Busch). But he's got his own issues, namely, anger management and an inability to bite his tongue.

Last September, he charged a reporter, as if to fight him (because the reporter asked if he could win the championship). At the last race of the season, he raged against a reporter trying to ask him about being forced out of a race (which seems like what reporters are supposed to do, right?). For the latter, NASCAR fined KuBu and put him on probation. And KuBu lost his job at Penske Racing, though I'm not sure anyone has ever said his temper was the cause (though it has to be).

So this year, KuBu is with Phoenix Racing (no, I hadn't heard of them either), and many comments were made about him trying to repair his image.

Then on Saturday, another reporter asked if some bumps with another driver were a problem because KuBu was recently put on probation (again) for poor behavior with another driver at another race, he responded, "It [the probation] refrains me from beating the s&*% out of you right now, because you ask me stupid questions."  (Here's the video, if you're curious.)

What's generated the most hilarity, of course, is the fact that in the same interview, KuBu said, "I'm on probation, so I can't even pick my nose the right way." The twitterverse has had a field day with that one.

Apparently, NASCAR is considering further action against KuBu when they have a Tuesday hand-out-penalties meeting.

So here's my question: how is it that he's still racing? I get it, he's good, he's got experience. But there are so many good racers out there begging for a chance ... surely there's one who's 95% as good as Kurt Busch and 300% more personable. Wouldn't that make more sense for a team?