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.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Racing Year in Review

by Tammy

Simon and I are taking a blog hiatus for the end of the year (going dark for 2 weeks over the holidays), and when I return, it will be January 6, 2014. Leaving aside that I'm not prepared for the new year, at that point, we'll be less than two weeks to the 24 Hours of Daytona, the first race of the year and the first race of the TUSCC (the Tudor United Sports Car Championship). Big stuff.

So it's time to reflect on what I thought was significant about 2013. Chime in with your thoughts and anything I've missed....
  • Daytona 24: I was embedded in a race team, and it was fabulous.
  • Daytona 500: Danica on pole, which set a bar too high for her to meet the rest of the year. By the stats, I think she did well for a rookie, but of course, the Danica lovers or haters will believe what they believe, no matter what. We'll see if she improves in 2014.
  • Long Beach Grand Prix: the introduction of Team Kate! And the start of the long good-bye to the American Le Mans Series (the merchandise trailer was absent from this race, for instance).
  • Indy 500: Kanaan wins!
  • Le Mans: the death of Allan Simonsen (which, as I noted in a blog post, eerily reflected a plot idea I'd hatched just the night before), the triumph of Audi. Leena Gade as a rock star.
  • Baltimore GP: what a bus-wreck of accidents.
  • IndyCar: A more contentious year between drivers and Race Control? The oval races were mostly uninteresting? Dario retires.
  • Petit Le Mans: farewell to the ALMS. Hello to the Corvette Stingray. A great time had by all.
  • Formula 1: a total snoozefest. I'm not sure I watched more than 10 laps of a single race.
  • NASCAR: Jimmie wins 6. Danica receives hate mail. Smoke breaks a leg. 
What did I miss? What do you remember as being the most significant racing events of 2013? Overall a thumbs-up or thumbs-down?

Hey, while you're ending the year and prepping for 2014, make sure you're following me on Facebook and Twitter (@tkaehler and @katereilly28)!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Game Show or Grand Prix?

By Simon

F1 is going to have a big change next year.  No, I don’t mean the engine change. I mean the points change.  25 points will go to the winner of a race with a sliding scale down to 10th place which gets a point, but the last race of the season will be a double points round.

What!?!  Is this F1 or Final Jeopardy?

I don’t like the current points system in F1, but this double points score thing is just too gimmicky and something Grand Prix racing doesn’t need. I know the points system has changed over the years, but I preferred when only the first six drivers got points and not many at that. The points from 1st to 6th used to go 9-6-4-3-2-1. With points going down to 10th place for the modern race, it means half the starting grid will come away with a point and that comes off a little weak to me.

When points are that hard to come by, even a single championship point feels like a win. It meant something. It meant you got a point and you earned it. It meant you were a driver of note.

Now, I’m not trying to be curmudgeonly (but I kind of am) but I don’t want points easy to come by. I want it to be a battle. If this stuff was easy, everyone would be doing it. With so many people in the running for points, it kind of dilutes the significance. If Grand Prix racing is the pinnacle of the sport, then awards need to be few and far between, don’t you think?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Book Title Needed!

by Tammy

Finding the right title for a book is tough. For the Kate Reilly Racing Mystery series, it's got to be a term that relates to racing, but also sound vaguely menacing—and if it can vaguely relate to the theme of the book, so much the better. (For example, Braking Points reflected how overwhelmed Kate was and how she struggled to cope with everything.)

I've got a couple ideas for Kate Book 3, but I'm not in love with them. So I need help, and I'm offering prizes. 

If your is one of the three best title ideas, I'll send I'll send you any three items from the premium Team Kate prize pack (that's a Team Kate shirt, a signed copy of Dead Man's Switch, a Team Kate bag, earplugs, and even a book-cover belt buckle). And if I use your title now, I'll name a character after you (in either Book 3 or Book 4).

What do you have to do?
Post your book title suggestions here, on Facebook, or Tweet to @katereilly28 (follow me there, while you're at it).

Remember, book titles need to:
  • relate to racing, or be a racing term/phrase
  • relate to murder and bad things happening (e.g., no "Kittens and Rainbows Race Team")
  • reflect the book's story/theme
What's the book about?
It's set at the 24 Hours of Daytona, starting on the pre-race grid, and ending with the checkered flag (same team and car, now in the United Sports Car Series). Key aspects of the story: hidden secrets from the past; situations, events, or people that aren't what they seem; family relationships (especially siblings and cousins); big money teams versus small, one-car efforts; and just how long a 24 hour race really is.

Throw me any ideas you've got, I beg you!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


By Simon

The interesting bit of F1 news over the last months has been the developments surrounding Ross Brawn at Mercedes—namely that Mercedes were debating whether to replace him as team principal. Well, the decision has been made—he's leaving. Some reports say Mercedes wanted him to stay and he wanted away.

This might not sound like much until you consider that Brawn created the team. Before Mercedes F1 was born, it was Brawn GP (although you could argue that the team’s origins belonged to Honda before that). However, Mercedes gobbled up Brawn GP after they won the world title.

So it has to be an odd feeling to see something that you built from the ground up is potentially being taken away from you. Okay, when Mercedes came knocking with a big check in hand, Brawn and his partners did take it, so you can argue that he put himself in this vulnerable possible where he effectively went from boss to employee. Still, it has to suck to lose control of your team, as it were.

I can see why Brawn has been living under one of Mercedes’ silver arrows for awhile. Since the takeover, the team has declined in both results and performance. Nobody is in F1 for the fun of it so I can see why Mercedes want changes.

Now that's he out, I don’t think Ross Brawn will be short of job offers, however it’ll be weird for him to wander down pit lane and see someone else running your creation. I suppose the truth of motor racing is that you're trying to keep control of your environment under extreme conditions and if you don’t, you're finished—and that applies on and off the track.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Planning the Racing Year

by Tammy

When the leaves are off the trees (except here in Southern California). When the last racing champion has finally been crowned. When there's nothing on television on Sundays but football ... you know what time it is, right?

Time to plan what races you'll get to in 2014!

So let's talk. We've got NASCAR, IndyCar, and the new United Sports Car Championship. Oh, and don't forget the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The givens for me in 2014 are Long Beach and Le Mans. I'm considering at least a pre-race trip (is that a travesty?) to the 24 Hours of Daytona to double-check some last details for the next book and lay eyes on the new C7.R, so I'll add that one in.

Then there's talk about a trip to Indy to hook up with some of my new racing besties, Glass Hammer Racing ... and that's more likely to be the IndyCar road race, given the proximity of the 500 to Le Mans.

Then I start getting tempted by all kinds of other options ... Laguna Seca's just up the road (USCC May4) . We have family in the Detroit area (USCC May 30-31—wait, too close to Le Mans). Petit is always an E-ticket ride (USCC October 4). NASCAR's out here March 23 (nope, I'll be in Monterey at a mystery convention). IndyCar's out here August 30 (doable).

And that's not even considering Houston or Austin (family, friends, and a great mystery bookstore in the state) for any number of types of racing. That's not considering F1 at all. But I don't think it's the year for either the Indy500 or F1. Maybe 2015.

Because the big one is going to be Le Mans. June 14-15. Wahoo!

So here's my schedule so far:

  • January 24-26, Daytona 24 (USCC
  • April 11-13, Long Beach (USCC/IndyCar)
  • ?May 10, Indianapolis? (IndyCar)
  • June 14-15, Le Mans
And the rest, TBD. So tell me, what am I missing? Where are you going in 2014?