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Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2003

A few notes on cells, sponsors and ‘Seabiscuit’

July 31, 2003

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If I ran NASCAR, when the teams unload at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend I'd go through the garage and make the teams take out their fuel cells. I'd stack them in a pile in the middle of the garage and give one back to each team, at random, so nobody would know who brought the one they wound up racing.

Fuel mileage is becoming so important in Winston Cup races these days that the temptation to "fudge" on the 22-gallon fuel cells has to be mounting. Nobody ought to be messing with fuel cells in any way, though. There's just too much of a safety risk involved. One team's cell should be exactly like another's, and pulling an exchange like I'm proposing would help make sure that's the case.

  • There's merit to the idea of banning tobacco products from sponsoring NASCAR teams once R.J. Reynolds leaves the sport at season's end.

It's not a loyalty issue or a slap in RJR's face. The fact that NASCAR would consider such limits is, in fact, another clear sign that RJR will be getting out of the racing business altogether after 2003. If RJR wanted to sponsor a team through its Winston or any other brand, I don't think NASCAR would stand in the way of that.

NASCAR has stayed behind the title sponsor of its top series through some rough water in recent years, and despite what some people think, RJR is not being forced out now. But once RJR is gone, regulatory hurdles of tobacco sponsorships and health issues raised by being associated with their products make taking dollars from tobacco companies a less-than-attractive proposition.

  • Didn't hear it myself, but somebody told me comedian Robin Williams said the Tour de France was "like NASCAR without the explosions." Good line. Williams is apparently buddies with five-time champion Lance Armstrong. Armstrong, by the way, is the man.
  • Ricky Rudd's 8-year-old son, Landon, did a nice job designing the paint scheme his dad's car used in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500, Rudd's 700th straight start. If his school has show-and-tell anytime soon, Landon's a cinch to get a good grade.

The next time M&M's wants to do a special paint scheme, it might want to think about giving Landon a call.

  • I know this isn't my department, but if you're inclined to go a see a movie anytime soon, "Seabiscuit" wouldn't be a bad choice. It reminds me of the first "Rocky" movie. Both take a while to get all of the characters' back stories in before the real action starts, but once the bell rings the action really picks up.

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