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, January 27, 2014

What I Learned At Daytona

by Tammy

I spent Thursday through Saturday noon at Daytona International Speedway last week, doing some final research for Avoidable Contact (aka, Kate Book 3). I came home with a ton of notes and ideas—for the book, but also about the cars, drivers, and approach of the new Tudor United Sports Car Championship.

1. Fans like TUSCC. Combining two series worked for pulling in the fans. The paddock/garage was packed even on Friday—and everyone I asked agreed they'd never seen so many people there. There were even (gasp!) quite a number of people in the stands as the green flag flew.

2. The C7.R is awesome. Corvette fans are legion, and they love their new racecar. There was always a crowd around the garage for the #3 and #4 cars. And they're pretty. To hear the drivers tell it, they're also fantastic to drive—more like a prototype in terms of stability and handling, per Ryan Briscoe.

3. Thumbs-up on the competition. On-track traffic is intense—and the competition is going to be good this season. Over and over, drivers referred to it as a "nightmare" on track, admitting with the next breath that fans seem to like it. And none of the drivers were really complaining (or complaining much), which, as a fan who does like seeing drivers have to be strategic in navigating multiple classes, I appreciate.

4. Sportscar racing has gone corporate. The ALMS was a small, grassroots, startup company. More like a family. TUSCC is definitely part of a corporation. Maybe that has to happen, at some point, for an entity to get bigger (I know that's often true in the business world). And maybe I feel that because I no longer know anyone at the Series level (most of them have scattered to teams and manufacturers).

But the vibe in the paddock was different. More removed. More professional? Maybe, maybe not. It'll be interesting to see how the paddock feels at Sebring, Long Beach, and Road America—tracks that aren't as steeped in the NASCAR corporate culture as DIS. But ultimately, some of the charm is gone.

I'll stick with the Series, because I still think the on-track racing is the best out there (sorry, all-oval NASCAR and all-dull F1). And I'll still argue that in theory, it's better for there to be only one sportscar series in the United States. I believe all that. But I think I'm going to find TUSCC a bit less fun than the ALMS was.

Change is inevitable. And hey, now I can be one of those people who wax nostalgic for the old days.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Buckle Up at Daytona

by Tammy

I'm Daytona bound this week! Time for some last-minute research for Kate's book 3, Avoidable Contact (look! it's on Amazon!), and time for a first-look at the Tudor United Sports Car Championship.

Time also for another Team Kate giveaway, now including book-cover belt buckles. Just tweet a photo of yourself and someone in a Team Kate shirt (most likely, me) and "Buckle up, Team Kate" to @tkaehler and @katereilly28, and you'll win two items from the Team Kate prize list, PLUS a belt buckle of your choice.


  • Team Kate book bag
  • Team Kate shirt 
  • Signed copy of Dead Man’s Switch
  • Belt buckle featuring Dead Man's Switch or Braking Points cover

How to Find Me
I'll be at the track Thursday through Saturday about noon, and then I'm heading home—I know, I'm flaking on the race itself. But I'll watch what I can from home and get my fingers back to the keyboard. After all, my research is about talking to people and verifying car and track details ... which can't be done when everyone's absorbed in the race.

I'll be checking Facebook and Twitter, so hit me up for my location. I'd love to chat with friends and fans!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Formula E: The Silent Racer

By Simon

Eco racing seems to have gotten a big boost in the guise of Formula E, an FIA sanctioned race series to start in 2014 featuring electrically powered cars.  The FIA is hoping to have ten teams with two drivers to each team.  The races are likely to take place on street courses around the world, with Rio and Rome being two such cities.  The cars are capable of 135mph and battery powered.  The cars are little heavy, weighing around 100kgs more than a F1 car on account of their batteries. 

The only problem with the series is the cars themselves.  The races are an hour long, but the battery packs only last 25 minutes, so drivers don’t have tire changes, they have car changes.  The plan is for the drivers to jump from one car then run a 100-metres and get in their second car.  It sounds a little hokey, but not as hokey as each team being lumbered with having run four cars for two drivers.  For me, it’s a really bad selling point.  It shows how far we haven’t come with electric vehicles.

However, I’m interested to see where this championship goes.  As much as I love my gas-powered cars, I know something’s got to change.  I think electric vehicles will be the future, but I don’t think the “battery pack” approach is the way to go.  I hope developments like this will lead to technological developments that will mean we’ll have an alternatively powered vehicle that is just as flexible their gas powered counterparts.
Here's the car in action:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Racing News and Experts

by Tammy

This is another survey blog, meaning, I want to pick your brains for resources. The topic: where you get your racing information, whether it's websites, blogs, or journalists.

I'll share mine, if you tell me where you go, and what my lists are missing!


So as we head into the season of racing news ... who am I missing? Admittedly these resources are sportscar and IndyCar biased. So tell me where to get even more news!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hard to Believe

Over the Christmas break there was quite an amazing story in that Michael Schumacher is in a coma after a skiing accident.  It’s one of those things that I find hard to wrap my head around that the most successful F1 driver in history could possibly die from a non racing related injury.  What makes it especially tough to understand is that he was such a machine on the track and seemingly invincible and indestructible that how could something like this even happen.

I kind of feel the same way when Senna died at Monza.  I was watching the live broadcast and thinking, he’ll be fine.  He’s Senna!  The Schumacher thing is slightly different in that I keep thinking: skiing, really?

Sadly, Schumacher isn’t the first driver to be injured in an off the track incident.  Mike Hawthorn was killed driving his road car (albeit on the limit).  Mike Hailwood and his daughter were killed by a truck making an illegal turn. Colin MacRae crashed his helicopter killing everyone aboard including his son.  Graham Hill died in a plane crash.  And Alessandro "Sandro" Nannini lost a hand in a helicopter crash.  So it happens and more often than anyone would like to see.

I suppose racing doesn’t protect you from what can happen off the track.  Life is out there and anything can happen.  I wish Michael Schumacher a speedy recovery.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Team Kate Awards and Rogues Gallery

by Tammy

Welcome to 2014 ... and the official start of the racing season in 16 days (or maybe it's already started, with the Roar before the Rolex 24?). I wanted to start the year with my favorite Team Kate shots of 2013 and some totally made-up "awards."

Newest member: Jim Strong.

Farthest traveled: Gail Vann (in Myanmar/Burma).

The coldest: Roger Kaehler (arctic circle).

Best selfie: Erin Charlton at Petit Le Mans.

Best track placement: Honestly Sherry on the starter's stand at Fontana.

Best shot with a hero: Barb and Mary with Leena Gade.

Best groupie shot (I'm not wearing the Team Kate shirt, but it still counts): me with Jay Leno.

Do you have any recognition or favorite photos I'm missing?