Sunday, March 2, 2014

Greeting from Hays, Kansas

I've never been here before. 

I haven't blogged in many months, but I've decided it's time to get back to it.  It also saves time in catching all of you (who happen to care) up with my crazy life.  My illustrious business partner is not a fan of my writing.  He finds my style lacking, and he's not wrong.   But so many people tell me I should write a book and I think I should at least remember these stories so that when I'm old and slow I can remember that I was once a little more fun.  I know I've gone grammatically wrong several times in that paragraph but I just don't care. Read along with that disclaimer.

So how did I end up here?  And what the heck was I thinking setting out on this adventure by myself?

We've been searching for just the right truck for the team, and we finally found her in Knoxville, TN.  I flew into Nashville, as it was much cheaper on SouthWest, I ended up killing some time there before driving over to Knoxville since they didn't have her ready (of course).  I wandered downtown Nashville and went to a place called Etch where I ate Roasted Cauliflower with Smoked Pea Pesto and Gingered Grits with Cranberries.  Wow.

When I made it to the truck she wasn't quite road worthy, so I had to run around and sort that out before getting on the road hours late.  The tractor is 2009 Volvo with the big Cummins engine and holds 300 gallons of fuel (do the math)!  And yes, I've named her Bessie, because she is a pretty big girl (for those of you who don't have a family history in dairy cattle as I do, this is a common name for a cow).  She's been a little neglected, but so far has run like a trooper.  In our research we decided Volvo was the way to go, and I know now that was the right choice.  The dash and seating position are much more comfortable and adjustable, and the auto-shift works really well. 

I knew there were a couple of big storms so I stayed south and then tried to make a run north between them.  This didn't entirely work, but looking at the weather maps today I don't think there was any avoiding things.  I made it to I-70 after dealing with freezing rain, snow  and ice for about 10 hours and only making about 400 miles.  It felt good to be able to run Bessie at 70 mph after going very, very slowly most of the day.  While I've driven in the snow a lot, I've never seen freezing rain like this.  It came down as large balls of slush that instantly froze to the truck.  Early in the day the washer fluid froze, forcing me to stop frequently and knock the ice of the blades and windshield.  I could barely stand up in the truck stop parking lot.  As you can imagine I get a lot of weird looks when I get out of the truck and put my gloves on to get to work, but more on that another time.

I had the option of heading all the way north to I-80 from Wichita, but turns out I'm darn sick of I-80. I also really dislike Nebraska.  Sorry Jason Lowe—cows, corn and football just don't do it for me.  I will be making a drive through Nebraska again on Friday as we travel to Sebring, once in a week is more than enough.  Also once I yelped the situation and found there was better food on the 70 I was definitely staying south.

So that's how I ended up in Hays.  It's a very small place, but I just had a good meal at Gella's Diner and LB Brew Pub—which was voted small brewer of the year at the Great American Brew Pub Festival.  And now I am happily working on my Hilton Diamond points for 2015.

Only 860 miles tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Girl Power at Indy

Just in case you haven't heard here's the release on Reuters:

(Reuters) - The 33 car field for the Indianapolis 500 was set on Sunday with women drivers claiming three of the nine spots on offer on Bump Day.


Brazil's Ana Beatriz and Britain's Pippa Mann and Katherine Legge joined Swiss Simona De Silvestro, who was among the 24 cars that qualified on Saturday for next Sunday's race.
"I'm much happier than I was this time yesterday (Saturday)," said Mann, who failed to earn a spot on Pole Day at the famed Brickyard. "This was a nice, clean run.
"We almost had four really nice clean laps... I'm happy right now, much less stressed than I was yesterday."
Beatriz qualified 29th and will start in middle of row 10 while her Dale Coyne Racing stable mate Mann will go from 30th spot on the grid.
Legge, whose deal to race at Indy came together just before qualifying, was 33rd fastest and then waited nervously to see if she would be bumped from last spot by a faster car.
"Relief," summed up Legge after the Bump Day action came to an end. "Obviously it's not nice to do it in that manner; I feel bad for Michel (Jourdain Jr.). It's not nice for him to not have the opportunity.
"However I am happy I am in the field. I'm not going to lie about that.
"I'm going to sleep tonight for the first time in a few days."
American Ed Carpenter upstaged IndyCar's biggest names and teams on Saturday beating out an eight car challenge from Team Penske and Andretti Autosport to grab pole for the 97th Indianapolis 500.
Carpenter, IndyCar's only owner/driver, delivered the big surprise at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, clocking a four-lap average speed of 228.762 mph in his Chevrolet powered Dallara around the sprawling 2.5 mile oval to take first spot in the front row ahead of another surprise package rookie Colombian Carlos Munoz.
Munoz, who currently leads the Indy Lights (IndyCar's development series) drivers standings will do double duty with the Freedom 100 and Indy 500 next week.
Starting on the outside of row one in next Sunday's race is a more familiar name, Marco Andretti, grandson of former-Formula One champion and Indy 500winner Mario Andretti.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Austin!

We've made it to Texas!  The cars made it uneventfully, but with a long detour to Mexico (Juarez, that's close enough!)  I-40 was closed to traffic in both directions due to weather.  The worst part of all that was that our internet and phones didn't have service most of the way. 

COTA looks like a great facility, what we've seen so far.  Our house is wonderful, we're at the Hancock Modern just north of town.  I'm taking a 5 minute break to eat a delicious muffin left by our hosts, after unloading a car full of groceries from Costco.  The great thing about having a house is that we can relax at night and eat in.

Austin, or so far Texas has the craziest drivers yet, if they can gain 6 inches by changing lanes, then they do—sounds like Grand-am racing!  I've decided if you can't beat them, join them.

I'm off to the airport and then the track to move in!

Here's to Texas!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pre Austin Press Release: Have the belt. Need the buckle.

Following the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in Grand Am's Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, Skullcandy Team Nissan is ready to get back to business at America's newest and  coolest facility in Austin, Texas, for the second round hosted by the Circuit of the Americas.  The state of the art facility has generated a lot of publicity and has the entire field excited about the opportunity to show their go. The factory supported team has a bit of living up to do as well, having won the first round and leading the manufacturer championship for Nissan.

The 33 car will have Daytona standouts Vesko Kozarov and team owner Lara Tallman behind the wheel.

The 34 car will be driven by Mickey Miller and Bret Spaude.   Mickey, a standout in other formulas over the last decade and an old friend of the team, comes with a storied resume, including an impressive 5 wins in NASA's 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Bret joins the team following a 3 year stint with Subaru in the series. A Grand Am regular and the winner of the New Jersey round in last year's championship, Bret is ready for a new challenge and an opportunity to show his colors.

Look for plenty of sparks as the colorful outfit that is Skullcandy Team Nissan makes some more noise Texas style.

Quotes:

"It's awesome that in Austin we will be on the grid with an experienced and strong line-up. I have the very best co-driver in Vesko, and I want great drivers in the 34 car as well. When the opportunity to have Mickey and Bret came up, I was not going to miss it.   It seems like everyone is excited to visit this new track and I'm no exception, but while in Texas I'd also love to find a little seat time of the equine variety since that's where I started long before motorsports."
team owner, Lara Tallman.

"I am stoked to get back to the grind and get in the war that is this series. Grand Am is one of the most competitive championships anywhere and it will be no easy task to repeat Daytona, but this team is as good as any. Everyone has been working tirelessly to make sure we are in the sharp end of the field. Nissan will no doubt provide us with the best equipment so it will be down to us to execute on track.”
driver, 33, Vesko Kozarov

“I have been following this team and the series for some time. I knew I had to get out there and when the chance came I jumped at it. I will do my best to support them and deliver a strong result.”
driver, 34, Mickey Miller

“Having raced in this series for the last few years, I know how competitive it is and how difficult it is to succeed. The quality of the team and the platform are crucial. I feel confident I am in the right place for success and hope to show that in Austin. It is an awesome opportunity for me.”
driver, 34, Bret Spaude

Skullcandy Team Nissan
Based in Salt Lake City, UT Skullcandy Team Nissan is a factory supported professional motorsports team competing in GRAND-AM's Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.  Skullcandy Team Nissan is supported by:
Skullcandy, Stance Socks, RageTank, Albion Financial, Pfadt Race Engineering, Motul, OS Giken, Up Rev, Enkei, StopTech, Rugged Radios.
Contact: Skullcandy Team Nissan at 877.804.8778 or media@ca-sport.com For driver inquiries please contact: drive@ca-sport.com

RageTank
RageTank Inc was founded in 2012 to revolutionize the racetrack experience by connecting and engaging the community with innovative mobile technology. Based in Mt View, CA near the heart of Silicon Valley, the company's first product, the soon-to-be-released RageTank, is a social networking service built around tracks, laps and YOU. RageTank creates a community between its users based around the idea that you want to share your on track achievements with your friends, family and the world. The goal of the project is to create a set of social features specific to racing lifestyle and culture, and deeply integrate those into existing social networks, applications, and mobile devices.

Bret Spaude is supported by:
Xtreme Xperience

At Xtreme Xperience, you’ll hop in the driver’s seat of a 420+ horsepower exotic supercar such as a Lamborghini LP560, Audi R8, Ferrari F430, Porsche 911 Turbo, Mercedes SLS AMG or Ferrari California for three or more laps on a road course-style racetrack. If you’d rather leave the driving to a pro, you may also choose to ride passenger to a professional driver for a pedal-to-the-metal, high-speed, adrenaline-pumping experience. Before getting behind the wheel, drivers participate in an instructional class to learn racing fundamentals and safety. A professional instructor remains in the passenger seat to enhance the experience by providing real-time feedback to enhance your driving. To bring your memories home, you can also purchase high definition in-car video and photos of your driving experience. Additional information can be found at: www.thextremexperience.com.

P1 Groupe
P1 Groupe Inc. is a motorsports management company representing drivers and teams from around the world. P1 Groupe offers its high-speed clientele an array of options designed to allow a dedicated focus to the most important task at hand: winning races. Through marketing, management, branding and design, P1 Groupe provides quality solutions with speed and efficiency. For more information, visit www.p1groupe.com.

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 Auto Manufacturer Numbers


This morning I was listening to NPR and I heard the numbers for 2012 auto manufacturers.  It was a good year overall!  VW sales were up 35%!  Wow and all because they made their cars more bland (our opinion).  Toyota was up 27% and Honda 24%, mostly because they had such a bad 2011.  Nissan was up 9.5, but Nissan had a great 2011.  You can see that the Altima rocked, but we know it's a great car.

Here's their press release, you can read the complete release here.

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) today reported record U.S. calendar year sales of 1,141,656 units versus 1,042,534 in 2011, an increase of 9.5 percent and the first time that the Nissan brand sold more than 1 million units in a calendar year. December Nissan North America sales were 99,290, down 1.6 percent from the prior year.
NISSAN HIGHLIGHTS

  • Nissan Division sales in 2012 of 1,021,779 set a new record, and were up 8.2 percent versus last year’s 944,073.
  • Nissan Division sales for December were 86,663, down 3.6 percent from the prior year at 89,937 units.
  • Multiple vehicles set sales records in 2012, including:
    • Nissan Altima, up 12.6 percent with 302,934 sales for the calendar year and the first time the nameplate has exceeded 300,000 sales in a calendar year
    • Nissan Rogue crossover, up 14.3 percent with 142,349 units in 2012
    • Nissan Versa, up 13.6 percent with 113,327 deliveries. Versa sales also set a new December record with 10,618 units.
    • Nissan LEAF, up 1.5 percent to 9,819 with December sales of 1,489 units.
    • The Nissan NV commercial van, up 58 percent to 10,179 sales, with 1,250 units sold in December, its best month ever.
“Nissan had a record-breaking 2012, led by strong totals for Altima, Rogue and Versa,” said Al Castignetti, vice president, Nissan Division. “Our aggressive product launch schedule with five new core vehicles in under two years positions us well for a successful 2013.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Changes in SPEED's Coverage

Here's today's Grand-am headline:

GRAND-AM: Varsha To Lead SPEED’s Rolex 24 At Daytona Coverage
Bob Varsha leads 10-person broadcast team At season-opening endurance classic. SPEED.com to stream multiple in-car cameras for entire 24 hours.

Last night I finally had a minute to watch the last F1 Wrap-up which was an interesting show. They mentioned that Leigh Diffey would be covering F1 next year so I wondered who would take his place during our races, and now we know. According to the article we'll be seeing the always entertaining Justin Bell as a roving reporter, so that should ad some fun!

See you in Daytona!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Video from Skullcandy Team Nissan!

Updated link! This weekend we were excited to share our new video with our fans!  Just in case you didn't catch it on Facebook or Twitter here it is:


Thanks to Morgan from Journey Blue Films for filming and producing this video for us!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Videos, Videos, Marketing and Motorsports

It really is the silly season in so many ways.  I' feeling a little silly myself this morning after a couple weeks of sleep deprivation.  This morning we launched the site YogaGlyphs, a fun new yoga apparel company and great client.  I promise this post is about motorsports, but the longer I'm involved in motorsports, the more I believe that motorsports is marketing.  And this is the time of year when it happens in earnest.  Drivers are promoting themselves and looking for their place for the next year, teams are marketing themselves both to potential sponsors and drivers.  I find it ll very interesting and challenging, but that's why I love motorsports!

Morgan Rhodes of Journey Blue Films has been working on a video of the team at Laguna.  Below is a teaser from the final project featuring the cool new Shadow Works brand by driver Geoff Reeves.  Impressive work by Morgan, can't wait to see the rest!

Marussia F1 Team is also working on their marketing with Monster, together they've created cool event called the Social Media Driver.  People like me who have social media skills and love motorsports were invited to apply to be their Social Media Driver.  (On Twitter at: #SMDriver).  I saw the benefits of this at Laguna Seca since Morgan was along and in addition to filming everything she also gave us much social media support.  I find that as much as I try to tweet, post and video at the races I just don't have time to do much!  I thought going to a race where that's all I had to do would be simply awesome, so yesterday when I saw a post about this I quickly (and I do mean quickly) threw together a short video for Marussia, as the deadline was yesterday. How incredible would it be to go to an F1 race as part of the team?!

Besides launching commerce sites, I've been spending my days preparing the team for next season.  I've spent a lot of time on the phone talking with potential sponsors and drivers.  (Not to mention ordering parts, that is a never ending job! ) I've also designed an album cover, and now I need to create the website to go with for Brad's new album "Just Struck" - you can listen to a sample in the box to the right.

It's good to be busy!



*This video was cut by Geoff as a Shadow Works promotional teaser for Morgan's upcoming video. Morgan wanted to give him the credit - the official STN video has not been posted anywhere (yet).  We can't wait to see it!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Post Laguna, Looking forward to 2013

Photo: Morgan Rhodes • Laguna Driver Change


Laguna Seca was not our best race of 2012.  If you've seen the TV coverage you saw that the #33 car ended up in the gravel.  However, there were some high points.  The #34 car finished 16th with first time Grand-am driver Geoff Reeves and pro driver Andy Lee.  They dealt with the very difficult carnage filled race well and we look forward to driving with them again.

Geoff brought along Morgan Rhodes of Journey Blue Films to film the weekend.  It was great to have such a skilled member added to the team.  We are excited to see her final project, but in the mean time check out her blog about the race:
Journey Blue Film's Blog

Photo: Cathy Babcook •  Laguna Seca Pre-race
As of today the 2012 season is over and the silly season is in full swing.  There are a million things to be done to prepare for 2013, but we can't help but be excited about yesterday's announcement of the 2013 schedule.  The schedule just gets better and better each year, and now the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge has 11 races included in the season.

2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Series Schedule
Jan. 26-27            Daytona International Speedway
March 2               Circuit of the Americas
April 6                 Barber Motorsports Park
April 20               Road Atlanta
June 1                  Detroit Belle Isle
June 15                Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
June 30                Watkins Glen International
July 26                 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Aug. 10 *             Road America
Aug. 17                Kansas Speedway
Sept. 8                 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Sept. 28               Lime Rock Park
*Combination event with American Le Mans Series
2013 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Schedule
Jan. 25                 Daytona International Speedway           
March 2               Circuit of the Americas
April 6                 Barber Motorsports Park                                   
April 20               Road Atlanta                           
June 15                Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
June 29                Watkins Glen International                     
July 26                 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Aug. 10 *             Road America
Aug. 17                Kansas Speedway                    
Sept. 8                 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca               
Sept. 27-28          Lime Rock Park
*Combination event with American Le Mans Series

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pomona, CA back in the day. . .


I've just watched the press conference for the merger of Grand-am and ALMS
Hosted by SPEED and:
Jim France - Vice chair of NASCAR and Grand-am
Don Panoz - founder of ALMS
Scott Atherton - President and CEO of ALMS
Ed Bennett - President and CEO of Grand-am

Here are a few points I came away with, other than:  Nothing has been decided, too early to be definitive, hasn't been decided!

•  2014 Daytona 24 will be a combined championship of North American Sports Car Racing. 

•  Class structure - too early to be definitive. . .

•  There will be a merging of schedules including the  24 hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring.
Jim France mentioned both types of cars competing for the championship.

•  Panoz believes that at least one type car can still be eligible to compete in Le Mans.  But his is the American Sports Car Series, addressing our sponsors, our manufacturers and our teams.  Less focus on European racing.

•  Tires - Continental is an important contributor.

•  Most likely 12 races with one being dropped for points if a team wants to go to Le Mans and miss a race.


My take is that while both series are trying to make this a joint effort that Grand-am is the power player and will have the final say on how this happens.  Which, as a super successful sanctioning body is how it should be—ALMS has some strengths, but they were fading fast.

Jim France stated that when his dad Bill France created NASCAR he said something like, "We think stock car racing has potential, we don't know how big it can be, but we know we can improve it."  He believes the same of what they are doing now, so here's to American Sports Car Racing!