I can't recall exactly the first time I ever saw the Goodyear Blimp in the sky. I'm pretty sure it was for the Daytona 500 in 1962 or 1963, maybe even 1964, but it was an impressive sight to behold as it hovered over the speedway. Perhaps, although I don't recall this either, I was considering what it would be like to hitch a ride in that blimp. After all, after watching the Hindenburg explode in the newsreels in the '30s, I had learned enough to know that blimps were no longer kept aloft by that exploding gas. I'm thinking that I was probably enthralled by the good view I expected to have from the blimp's vantage point. Back in those days there was no chance I would get invited to go along for a ride so I didn't give it too much though.
Over the years, due to a very traumatic event in my life while in the Navy, I developed a deep fear of heights. This fear became so intense that I once, not that long ago, turned down an all expense paid trip with two very wonderful people, for both Ann and me, to California. I simply could not stand the thought of flying although I had logged literally hundreds of thousands of miles on airlines over my younger years. Frankly, when I see overhead views of the race tracks now from either a helicopter or a blimp, I mostly look away because of that fear of heights. If I am two steps up a ladder, my knees are shaking. Three steps up, my heart is racing. Four steps up and I'm on the verge of passing out. Five steps? Well, frankly I don't know because I haven't done that in years.
But it was Goodyear and the blimp that brought all this to mind for this week. Now seriously, Goodyear, do you think I would consider getting on YOUR blimp even if the ride was free and I was not afraid of heights? Come on! You folks have been building racing tires for how long? And been the sole supplier of NASCAR racing tires for how long? So, what is going on with you folks?
It seems to me, that Goodyear has experienced problems with the racing tires, not counting the debacle at Indianapolis a few years ago, that should not be present in a company who brags in their commercials during the race how their engineering has developed the epitome of racing tires. I know Bopper brought up this subject a few weeks ago and a short discussion ensued during this show that night. I know the discussion ranged from the supposed radical set up some teams use and some blame went to Good year, but the problem wasn't solved, and is not likely to be solved anytime soon.
Did you see the problems Goodyear was having at Richmond Saturday night? Not just one car, one team, or one make, but several including the team of "bounce off 'em Bowyer" and "Six Time" both of whom experienced the unraveling of the new "super tire" Goodyear has recently developed for just this type of racing. There were several instances where the tires unraveled and the flying rubber, according to the "expert" analysis from the booth, would hit the headers and start a fire. Melted the front end off the Bowyer Toyota and almost caused serious injury to Reed Sorensen when the fire roared out of control. This is past the point of being curious now, it is flat out dangerous.
Do you not think that if this was a problem being caused by "radical set ups" than NASCAR would have stepped in to require specific set ups to prevent that? Do you fall for the first explanation from the mouth of the all knowing D.W., that it was air pressure issues? Then why did it become the norm for 50 to 60 laps when the issues would arise on average? Surely the air pressure was up to par by that time. Just another example of D.W.'s mouth far exceeding the ability of his brain to correlate information.
We all know that Larry Mac always reminds us that the drivers pit for Sunoco Racing Fuel and Goodyear Tires. Not sure what kickback he gets for such mention of product names, but you can be sure it's adequate to compensate Larry Mac and the kickback to NASCAR for such endorsement is bound to be good. But what are we missing here? If Goodyear technicians and engineering are as good as they are held out to be, then why does this problem continue? Frankly, I've never seen racing tires do what the Goodyears were doing Saturday night. Something needs to be done and done quickly to rectify that situation.
Let me tell you my personal Goodyear story. I realize this is more the Goodyear dealer perhaps, than the manufacturer, but this actually happened to me. In the early 70s, remember when Goodyear had the white-lettered polyglass "belted tires? My Plymouth came with those tires from the factory. Got the car in January and drove it to Daytona for the 500. Coming back from Daytona, picked up a severe vibration throughout the car. Took it to the dealership and after a test ride, the mechanic said it was a tire issue. Since it was brand new, the dealer sent the car down the street to the Goodyear store where they installed four new poly glass tires. Things went along fairly well until April when I went back to Florida for a visit. Coming back, same vibration. To make a long story shorter, after going back to Goodyear and talking with the local store, they refused to replace the tires although they had less than 800 miles on them. The claim was, and get this now, that driving in Florida the highways were hotter and it caused the poly glass belts to slip out of place and thus the vibration. I replaced the Goodyears with another brand and have pretty much stayed with that brand. Since then, the only belts that have slipped are the power steering belts from time to time, and my belt when my belly got far too big for the belt to fit around it. So, you see, Goodyear, as do all manufacturers of any products that do not live up to the hype, have ready-made excuses to cover malfunctions. Often wondered, but never checked, if those white-lettered poly-glass belted tires were even sold in Florida.
So, Goodyear, don't even offer me a ride in your blimp. In fact, if I see it overhead, I'm leaving before it starts to unravel and come crashing down on my head.
Now, let's talk about the races this weekend. I did manage to last out the rain delay and see the entire Nationwide race. It was a good race although dominated by a Cup driver, being one Kevin Harvick. Another example of Junior Motor Sports being on their game for that race. But, as in the previous two races, Texas and Darlington, the class of the field was Chase Elliott. No, he didn't win Saturday night, but he ran second and ran a really awesome race throughout. It is my considered opinion, from watching every race run on the Richmond track since the current configuration was opened, that it is a difficult track to drive. I base that on watching turns one and two mostly. It is a competitive track where they run close and it always seems the first and second turn forces the issue of who is the better driver. Chase was not intimidated and clearly undertook the mission to prove he could win there. He fell short Saturday night but watching him sort of make it clear that he will not be denied in his return to that track. Impressive. I feel I need to keep reiterating that statement as I was less that complimentary on the young man from a truck race I witnessed where I thought he showed lack of class. He has come a long way. I may end up a Chase Elliott fan after all, but please don't tell Cody.
Saturday's race? Well, I missed the first 47 laps because of a prior commitment but I did get to see the replay where "Bouncing Bowyer" messed up Kyle Larson's day on the green flag. That was almost funny in that several posts on social media sites earlier in the day were more or less betting on the fact that Larson would never lead a lap. The most vocal of those seemed to be the Bowyer and Kenseth fans.
Ok, speaking of Kenseth, I have never really cared for the guy. He always seems to be the "goody two shoes" type of guy who will wreck you to win, block you to win, or have his spotter shoot your tires out to win but heaven help you if you do any such to him. He is always "sorry" when he wrecks someone of causes an issue on the track. He is about as sorry as the apologetic condemned man heading to the execution. Sorry he got caught. I'm tired of looking at his pathetic face with its phony look of regret as things happened that get his Toyota all banged up as it did Saturday night. The "brake check " move on the restart, that D.W. went to such lengths to state did not happen but was later admitted by Kenseth himself, is chicken-crap racing. In Matt's opinion, it is ok for him to block by driving all over the track in kamikaze style, but let someone do that to him and if he fails to wreck them, he will complain about it in post race interviews. If you're a Kenseth fan, I'm sorry, but that is simply my opinion. He is sort of like Cousin Carl. Fake whatever it takes to appease the sponsors and look good to your fans. Not my cup of tea.
I will let the Waltrip duo off the hook, to an extent this week. I did, as I did for Darlington, listen to their commentary just to verify in detail, what I have espoused many, many times. It has not changed with them. Never will. D. W. contradicts himself so much during a broadcast, that if I felt the need to keep a written record of all the contradictions it would fill a notebook. He has passed his prime in knowing what is going on. He defended Kenseth several times on the brake-check restart only to have Kenseth admit afterwards that he did exactly that. "Whatever it takes to win" was Kenseth's response. He forgot to check with D. W. before that comment. Too bad D.W.
As for Mikey, well, there is nothing left to say. Everything I read, every thing I hear, people are sick to death of him and his antics, opinions, and comments. Still FOX and NASCAR do nothing. I do expect I will try another race or two listening to them. Sort of like Laurel and Hardy. Oh wait, I take that back. Laurel and Hardy were entertaining.
And what about the Marcos Ambrose-Casey Mears altercation? I'm writing this early Sunday afternoon so I don't know what NASCAR may do about that. It would be in NASCAR's best interest to leave that alone. After all, how can you make the statement "have at it boys" and then penalize or fine a driver when they "have at it"? It is going to be interesting to see how that goes down. Frankly I always thought Ambrose was so easy going it would be difficult to rile him but Mears made it happen. UPDATE. About 5:15 this afternoon, Tuesday, I received notification from NASCAR that Ambrose is fined $25,000.00 and Mears $15,000.00 although it was Mears who shoved Ambrose and Ambrose punched him. In infamous "actions detrimental to stock car racing" was used as part of the reason for the fines. I've said it before and I'll say it again, such bull crap rulings by NASCAR are the most detrimental actions possible. Obviously the "Coke 600" does NOT refer to the soft drink. You bunch of double-talking, scumbags in Daytona need to make up your minds how you want to reach the fans. You sure as hell aren't reaching me with rulings like that. Now back to our regularly scheduled Legendtorial for tonight.
So we look forward to Talladega. Should be an interesting weekend in both series. My prayer will be that no one gets hurt and that maybe, just maybe, the BIG ONE, if it must happen, will take out ALL the Toyotas in one fell swoop. Would be nice.