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.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Ultimate Starting Grid

By Simon

I finally got around to seeing the Senna documentary and it sent me down memory lane. I replayed all the years I’d watched F1. I thought about drivers I hadn’t thought about in years. And watching Senna again made me think of all the powerhouse drivers throughout Grand Prix history and how glorious it would be to have all the greats compete in one race. The problem is who would make it to the grid. Ask ten people who is the greatest F1 driver of all time and you'll get ten different answers. But I’m not asking ten people. I’m just asking me. So if I could have a Field of Dreams, this is who would make my starting grid.

1. Jim Clark
2. Ayrton Senna
3. Nigel Mansell
4. Michael Schumacher
5. Jochen Rindt
6. Alain Prost
7. Juan Manuel Fangio
8. Sterling Moss
9. Jack Brabham
10. Jackie Stewart

Now this list doesn’t represent my ten favorite drivers. Several of the drivers I was never a fan of. However, I believe this starting ten does represent titans of their time who either changed the sport forever or inspired it. I believe this is the ultimate starting grid. You may not, so who would you switch out and who would you bring in on this Circuit of Dreams?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Indy Report: Two Winners and a Sponsor

by Tammy

I'm sure you all know the big news from Indy yesterday: that other TK finally won the Indy 500. My sense is that almost no one doesn't like Tony Kanaan, so it seemed like a pretty popular victory ... in that way of "if it can't be me, then I'm glad it's him." I imagine TK winning Indy would be like Mark Martin winning Daytona. Not many people would mind.

Anyway, the Indy 500 was an epic race, with not too many cautions but so many lead changes you couldn't type a social media update before the lead changed again. And a great result, even if the last two laps were under caution.

But there was another big winner in Indy this weekend, though he won't be making the media tours this week or picking up a check the size of TK's (sorry, Rick).

He will, however, be receiving a nice prize package from me and Team Kate. Yes, that's right, someone won the grand prize in the Team Kate Contest: which includes a Team Kate shirt, signed books, and an official Kate Reilly special edition Kreisel Timepiece!

So kudos to Rick Hunt, who found a member of Team Kate and a racing driver sponsored by Glass Hammer Racing (hi, Jessica Bean!) in the Indy social media garage and tweeted this photo. I'm pretty excited to send out a prize pack.

And let's be honest: I'm just pretty freaked out and excited that members of Team Kate were running around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And that other people, like Rick, recognized and cared who they were.

It's one thing to think about my words out there in the world (hopefully) entertaining people, but to have my fictional world come to life in a real-world setting is really, extremely astonishing and thrilling.

Oh, and the sponsor I mentioned in the title? Kate picked up a real-world sponsor over the weekend also: Glass Hammer Racing. Full details in the official release: It's For Real: Fictional Race Car Driver Gets Real-World Partnership with Glass Hammer Racing. 

Good times from Indy! Did you like the weekend?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Win Team Kate Prizes

(from Kate Reilly, guest blogger)

If you're at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, you could win one of three fantastic prize packages. Details, photos, and requirements to win below:

Team Kate: Basic Prize
Number available: 3
What you need to do: Tweet a photo to @katereilly28 and @GlassHamrRacing by Monday, May 27, of
  * You
  * Someone in a Team Kate shirt (see right)
What you can win:
  * Signed Dead Man’s Switch
  * Signed Braking Points
  * Team Kate book bag

Team Kate: Premium Prize 
Number available: 2 
What you need to do: Tweet a photo by Monday, May 27, to @katereilly28 and @GlassHamrRacing with #beatbyagirl of
  * You
  * Someone in a Team Kate shirt
  * Someone in a Glass Hammer Racing shirt 
What you can win: 
  * Team Kate shirt
  * Signed Dead Man’s Switch 
  * Signed Braking Points 
  * Team Kate book bag
  * Team Kate bookmarks, earplugs

Team Kate: Grand Prize 
Number available: 1 
What you need to do: tweet photo by Monday, May 27, to @katereilly28 and @GlassHamrRacing of
  * You
  * Someone in a Team Kate shirt
  * A Glass Hammer Racing–sponsored driver (in race or street clothes)
What you can win: 
  * Kate Reilly Special Edition watch (man’s or woman’s)
  * Team Kate shirt
  * Signed Dead Man’s Switch 
  * Signed Braking Points 
  * Team Kate book bag
  * Team Kate bookmarks, earplugs
Tweet away and good luck!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Is it Time To Say Goodbye To Monaco?

By Simon
The Monaco Grand Prix is this weekend and I’m going to say it—is it time to put a fork in this event?

Yes, the Monaco GP is a fantastic spectacle…
Yes, the Monaco GP shows off a driver’s talent…
Yes, the Monaco GP tests a car to its limits…
Yes, the Monaco GP is romantic…
Yes, the Monaco GP is challenging…

But it doesn’t make for open racing.  Qualifying determines the winner more often than not because passing is nearly impossible.  In its worst case, Monaco is high speed gridlock, not a race.  Mechanical reliability is also major contributing factor.  F1 cars have long since outgrown and out-muscled the limitations of Monaco's tight street course.  Nelson Piquet described driving a Grand Prix car in Monte Carlo as like trying to ride your bicycle around your living room—and that was back then.  I will say Monaco is a great demonstration of driver skill and concentration.  There's no physical or mental respite and for those reasons alone may justify the race’s existence.   But for me as much as I love the glamour and glitz of Monaco, I’m not sure it deserves its spot on the F1 calendar anymore.  I think romance has overwhelmed practical racing sense.

What do you think?  Am I wrong?  Let me know.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Indy 500 Planning

by Kate Reilly (special guest blogger)

I can't tell you how exciting Pole Day for the Indy 500 was on Saturday ... well, maybe I don't have to, because maybe you were watching. But I can assure you, it was a hell of a lot more exciting from the pits!

Then again, it was also depressing, because I wanted to be in one of those cars so badly I could taste it. Jack just smirked when he looked at me, but that was because he wanted to be there too, with a team on the wall and a stopwatch in hand.

I was really excited for Women of Pressdog® Pippa Mann, Simona de Silvestro, Ana Beatriz, and Katherine Legge to ALL make the field! You go, girls! That's some #SteelOvaryNation action, especially for Katherine, who had almost zero practice time. I expect to see those women be patient at the back and work their way carefully forward during the race.

And damn, but I wanted to be in there trying to be the fifth woman (and only American) in the field. What racer doesn't want a chance at the greatest spectacle in racing? Maybe next year ...

In the meantime, Jack and I are both fired up to talk with some teams and sponsors over the next couple days. He keeps saying, "You never know what can happen."

Well, I know two things that're going to happen for sure this week.

  1. I'm going to have a pretty cool announcement to make later this week. That's all I'm going to say, except that it's a partnership and a mission I can really get behindor in front of, with the boys behind me? (HINT)
  2. I'm going to get some wheels on that track. I'm not sure how soon or in what car exactlyor how many timesI might get out there, but it's going to happen. So you just keep your eyes peeled! There are plenty of cars that'll be circling the track, between now and 12:12 p.m. next Sunday. 

As Gramps would say, I can guaran-damn-tee you some excitement in the coming week. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Team Kate at Indy

by Kate Reilly (special guest blogger)

This is unexpected. I didn’t realize at the beginning of this week that by the end of it, I’d be in Indianapolis. But here I am.

I didn’t even realize that Jack (that’s my boss at Sandham Swift Racing, Jack Sandham) had planned to be here to “check things out,” as he put it. But he called me Monday and told me to get my butt on a plane Tuesday, so here I am.

Turns out, Jack’s always dreamed of bringing a team to the Indy 500, so he’s at the Racing Capital of the World to talk to Series officials and teams. I’m here because “I have buzz” (Jack’s words). I asked him if that meant I’d be part of a team he brought to the Indy 500, and he told me anything could happen.

But I’m also here because of Corvette. You see, the new (gorgeous!) 2014 Corvette Stingray is the official pace car this year, in honor of the car’s 60th anniversary. And, well, let’s just say that there will be a lot of other Corvettes putting rubber down on that oval this weekend and next—and I’m not supposed to say much more….

Just keep your eyes peeled at the track this weekend. You never know who you might see!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Stopped Watch

by Simon

I was reminded of a unique pit crew experience the other day and it’s how the stopwatch can tell the pit crew –without radio communications and TV coverage—of something that’s gone wrong. Drivers tend to lap pretty consistently. There’s never more than a second or two’s difference between lap times. So the pit crew has a good idea when the driver will be coming back around. The tension rises for the pit crew when the car doesn’t appear on time. There's a moment of panic because it’s impossible to know what's happened. So the stopwatch becomes the guide.

If a car is five seconds late, something’s happened. Time to worry.
If a car is ten seconds late, possible engine problem.
If a car is twenty seconds late, it’s a spin and recovery.
If a car is a minute late, there's a big problem.
If a car is two minutes late, it’s time to wait for the recovery vehicle, because the car isn't making it back under its own power.

It’s amazing what the passage of time, even just a few seconds, can tell you. :-)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Team Kate Goes National

by Tammy

I posted last week about giving my fictional racecar driver protagonist, Kate Reilly, her own fan club (read it). What started out as a fun thing for me and a few friends to do at the Long Beach race is starting to spread--apparently, because other people think it's a fun thing to do also.

First, there's @KelseyUSA, social media guru, who tweeted the photo below of her dressed up in Kate's gear for a day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday.

Then there were my friends up at the ALMS race at Laguna Seca (which I couldn't attend, because of another event that conflicted). Michael (@Mfriedman_63) even showed off the shirt to my friends at Corvette Racing.

I'm still awed and grateful (and a little in shock) about this. To think that people are wandering around a prep day for the Indy 500 and an ALMS race (neither of which I'm attending!) wearing team shirts for my fictional racecar driver just blows my mind. I can't thank everyone who's gotten behind Team Kate enough, from founding fans Barb and Mary, to Kelsey and Michael and Kevin, to Shea and the #SteelOvaryNation, and to real-life sponsor Pressdog.

If you'd like to join us in the silliness and fun, just sign up for my newsletter via my Web site (Join Team Kate) and follow Kate on Twitter. We'll have some exciting news coming soon (hint: working on a new real-life sponsor!), contests with some pretty awesome giveaways. I hope you'll join us!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

There Is No Substitute (But I Beg To Differ)

What does an old warhorse do when there's no war to fight, but still holds the stink of the battlefield in its nostrils? I’m not sure, but I bet it’s frustrating.

I do understand the frustration though. And while I may have packed away my racing desires at the back of my brain, they tend to leap to the fore when I barrel into a juicy curve on our President’s highways. I’m not one of those people who clings to their glory days like a life preserver. One, it’s sad and two, it’s really sad. The past is the past and the future is open to new opportunities. I filled the gap left by racing. Like I mentioned last week, there's no room for it nowadays.

However, in the last couple of years, I’ve really gotten stuck into cycling. I used to do it to keep my cardio going. Now, cycling is a full-blown hobby. This year, I’ll probably compete in a dozen organized rides with distances ranging from 65miles to 100miles. They're rides and not races because there's no official championship or anything. That said, some of the rides are timed and/or feature time trials at some point in the ride. Even if there's not, it’s me verses my clock and my personal best. I’m not really bothered how well I do against everyone else. I’m only interested about how well I do against myself, which was the same when I did race. If I improved, my results would. Worrying about what everyone else is doing is a distraction.

Oh gosh, I am a competitive one. Yes, guilty as charged.

The competitiveness aside, cycling has allowed me to satisfy my racing desires that lurk at the back of my brain. The rides usually include heart-bursting climbs, which means there are heart-stopping descents on twisting hillside roads. Yummy. As sad as it sounds, I come whipping down this hills and I’m looking for turning points and apexes. I try to take care of braking before the corner so I can pedal or power through the bend. When I hit the bottom of a hill and go into the next climb, I’m thinking power, power, power as pedal like mad to carry some momentum up into the next climb and keep my speed up. And there's no finer feeling than motoring by another rider on a hill section or out braking someone going into a corner on a descent.

Childish and juvenile? Hmm, possibly. Does it make me feel good? You betcha.

So yes, cycling has become my surrogate for motor racing. I’m glad I’ve found something that gives me pleasure and makes up for the size fifteen carbon footprint I’ve left behind.

So what does an old warhorse do when there's no war to fight, but still holds the stink of the battlefield in its nostrils? I now know the answer. He joins a war reenactment society.

Happy pedaling,

Monday, May 6, 2013

Team Kate

by Tammy

Those of you who've read Braking Points know that Kate now has her own Twitter account: @katereilly28. I've now gone one step further (to crazy, you might say), and given Kate her own official fan club.

To join, just sign up for my newsletter via my Web site (Join Team Kate) and follow Kate on Twitter. I'll be running contests with giveaways such as earplug packs, signed bookplates, stuff bags, team shirts ... and maybe something even more spectacular later this year.

Details to come if you join Team Kate today!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Open Wheel...There Is No Substitute

By Simon

As regular readers know Tammy and I have friendly rivalry when it comes to open wheel racing cars.  I think they're better and Tammy doesn’t know what she's talking about.  :-)

While I was at the Long Beach Grand Prix someone asked me why I liked single seaters.  I had a think about for a minute, but I had my answer.  I like open wheel racing cars because they are cars in their purest form.  There isn't anything extraneous about them.  The cars aren't about what you can strip out, but what is necessary.  It’s an engine, gearbox, gas tank, wheels, rubber, aerodynamics, driver and a seatbelt.  There aren't luxuries like a windshield, power windows, power steering, power brakes, airbags or a roof.

The end result is an elegant design, skeletal in nature, but so efficient and smart.  It’s simple engineering, but clever.  So when I’m behind the wheel, I know exactly what's happening around me.  I know what the car is doing.  I know when it isn't working.  And I can fix the problem or change the setup quickly.  No plowing through unnecessary bodywork or combating redundant production car electronics.  This is why I love single seaters.  Here endeth the lesson.  :-)

That said, I’ll race anything if you put it in front me.  Single seaters are perfect.  I didn’t say I was.