ON THE STARTING LINE 
Sunday, July 28, 2013, 02:27 PM
Posted by Administrator
There was a time when sitting in the stands was everything I thought it could be. I was able to see the rails and the stockers and once in awhile we were lucky enough to get a wisp of nitromethane and rubber smoke if the wind was blowing just right.
I began to attend pre-med classes at Michigan State University in 1966 and my goal in life was to become a doctor, so my mind was wrapped around things like microbiology, organic chemistry and anatomy. Cars were kool but I couldn't see the advantage or importance of turning wrenches instead of saving lives.
My roomate was a journalism major and he used to entertain us all with stories about the places and things he'd seen...places reserved for reporters and law enforcement. It was sexy and enticing, the old forbidden fruit syndrome.
The Detroit News had a marginal interest in auto racing which is surprising considering the fact that Motown was the center of the universe for all things automotive.
My roomate had made a commitment to the News in late 1966 which involved him taking pictures at a big event at Detroit Dragway one Saturday. He said there were going to be "funny cars" there. After a very convincing period of begging, I agreed to take his place even though I knew NOTHING about photography. I wanted to do him a favor because he was sick or so he said. After a very short session of instruction, I knew everything I needed to know, which wasn't surprising since his camera was a Kodak 126 Instamatic, the one that used the little blue flashbulbs.
Things then were so simple. With just an honest face and assurances that I was a real NEWS photographer, I received permission to shoot on the starting line. In those days you really were on the starting line...the one without a k-wall or any barrier to hide behind if something exploded or someone went sideways.
By the end of the evening, I had had enough. Nicholson was using hydrazene, which was a popular addition to the usual concoction of methyl alcohol and nitro. I had a headache for days following my first sojourn into the advanced world of starting line photography. Funny thing though, it was pretty neat being so close to the action. Now I was able to tell interesting stories like my roomate, only mine were about cars instead of car accidents and dog shows.
All of that was 47 years ago but one thing has never changed. The excitement and the exclusivity of being able to go where few tread has never lost its appeal and its likely it never will. Everytime I go out to a wall at a NASCAR or IndyCar race or brave the walls at a NHRA event I remember how lucky I am to be there. I look up to the crowded stands and know most, if not all, would give alot to be where I am.

J.R. Andres/SM Magazine
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The Allure of Drag Racing 
Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 11:11 PM
Posted by Administrator
How can anyone not enjoy going to the drags? Sure its loud and sure its Plebian and surely it will tax your sense of smell, with all that leaded fuel and nitromethane but dollar for dollar there's not a better show anywhere in town.
We cover a lot of racing events from this office but when the NHRA circus comes to Sonoma we all look forward to three days of unadulterated mayhem, administered in large doses at 300 MPH.
These events don't attract the wine sippers or champagne officianados, they attract the beer drinkers, the hamburger and hot dog eaters...the people we all identify with...people like ourselves.

Ira Ostenheimer - Leonard Gelardi/SMM
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Detroit's Free Fall 
Sunday, July 21, 2013, 01:39 PM
Posted by Administrator
It didn't seem that long ago I was cruising the streets of Detroit in my new 1965 Plymouth Street Wedge. I had a regular route from Telegraph Road south to Michigan Avenue. Once there, I headed east towards Dearborn ending up downtown to catch Woodward Avenue. At the foot of Woodward I'd make a left turn and head north, driving through such places as Highland Park, Ferndale and then up to Royal Oak, where I'd turn around and head south until I hit 8 Mile, which would eventually take me back to Telegraph Road. I never thought twice about making this journey because it presented opportunities to show off my car, meet girls and pick up a few street races along the way. Things were different in 1965 and never once did I ever fear for my safety or worry about losing my ride to a car jacker.
Fast forward to 2013. The thought of doing the same thing 48 years later scares the bejeezus out of me. The streets I once drove have become nothing more than a war zone and the institutions we all looked up to have become fraught with corruption, fueled by greed.
I didn't realize it at the time but Detroit was a great town to grow up in. Downtown businesses were thriving, the streets were safe, the police and fire department came when you called them and everyone, all 1.8 million of us, seemed to have a job.
Thursday's announcement marked a new low point for a city that has been on the ropes for decades. The theories of how things got that way are not as important as the human costs that will continue to be realized until someone or something comes along to make it better. For a native Detroiter, it seems incomprehensable that it has come to this.

J.R. Andres/SMM Editor-in-Chief



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Petulance Doesn't Look Good on Moody -- by John R. Andres SMM/Editor-in Chief 
Saturday, May 29, 2010, 01:07 AM
Posted by Administrator

He has a lot going for him. He's glib, knowledgeable and witty, and sometimes he's even insightful. He has the connections and the inside line on what's happening in the immediate world of NASCAR. He's worked hard to get where he is and in most cases he's the 'go to guy' for the inquiring minds that comprise his nationwide daily call-in audience. I often wonder how he does what he does and the ease with which he fields calls from individuals who sometime say things that would test the patience of a saint.

He says he doesn't expect the callers to agree with him and he always respects their standpoint even if they go against his but today (Tuesday, May 25th at 2:15 PM) he exhibited something that was in conflict with what he professes and petulance doesn't look good on him no matter how he tries to spin it.

It all began when a caller said he was concerned about the 'health' of NASCAR, based upon his understanding of this year's lowered TV ratings and the empty seats he saw at the recent Dover race. Moody tried to explain that even though there were a lot of empty seats, the numbers there would actually fill a Super Bowl, or so many NBA games or so many MLB stadiums. The caller went on to ask if Moody was aware that Jimmie Johnson's sponsor, Lowe's, was the only sponsor that has not jumped to another car or driver in the last three years. Once again, Moody tried to explain that Jeff Gordon still had DuPont. I agree that the caller was wrong; he wasn't listening and uncompromisingly convinced he was right. Even so, Moody made a fool out of him, saying indignantly 'You're right, NASCAR is in trouble and Lowe's is the only sponsor with the same car and driver for the past three years', much like a yammering child. The caller eventually hung up, much to the surprise or perhaps even to the delight of that MRN commentator. If Moody was surprised he shouldn't have been. After all who would ever dare to do that to the 'Godfather', the one who holds the key to the truths as defined by Moody himself?

For all his positive traits, Moody was boorish and out of line today, although he'd probably just chalk it up to a caller who was in need of some form of reality update. Even the exalted need a reality update of how they come across to others from time to time and this is his.

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It’ll never be far away from Bowman-Gray -- by John R. Andres/SMM Editor-in-Chief 
Monday, April 26, 2010, 02:47 PM
Posted by Administrator
Funny thing about “roots”. Some celebrate them and others try to keep them buried. In the case of NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series, it seems the mothership is unsure what to do with the History Channel’s “Madhouse” program that depicts the events transpiring at Winston-Salem’s very own Bowman-Gray Stadium.

To hear it being described by the pundits at Sirius NASCAR Radio who maintain an unbroken umbilical connection to the aforementioned sanctioning body, it represents something that most would rather forget -- something that doesn’t represent the corporate mantra of clean living and altruistic inspired sportsman racing because it brings up all of those nasty stereotypes of the South they have worked so hard to eliminate, either through repackaging or denial. After all, these things happened over 50 years ago. Let’s forget about it and move on to a more genteel world, one that doesn’t offend, one that is beyond reproach.

Contrary to this belief, “Madhouse” offers its audience an unsanitized dose of reality of the behind the scenes drama that racing has always been about. The characters are real and the names have NOT been changed to protect the innocent. Central casting could never surpass creating the individuals who comprise the core of this series: Bad Brad, Junior, Rocket Brown, Eric, The Show Stopper, the K-Ville Mafia, “Jon Boy” and the Myers Brothers. Some of this may sound like the WWF but these guys play for real and their quest for a trophy, peer recognition and a take no prisoners reputation often comes before family and their ability to exercise better judgment.

Week in, week out, the major networks serve up the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series events that seem like a world away from the “do it on a shoestring” grass roots racers who risk it all on the ¼ and ½ mile short tracks across this country. It’s easy to get lulled into a semi-vegetative state watching the “made men” of racing, with all their high dollar corporate sponsorships, cavort around the track in an endless parade, usually interrupted only when it’s time for the omnipresent commercial break.

We’ve become too accustomed to prepackaged and processed programs, sports, foods and ideology. We got there because we forgot how to cook and to think on our own. It’s too easy to throw in a TV dinner or a frozen pizza. Sure, times have changed but whether we like it or not we’re still, NASCAR included, connected to the roots that we may or may not be proud of and no matter how hard we try to erase or discount them, they’re never far away from us or Bowman-Gray. In this age of diversity, who we are or where we came from should be celebrated and the boys from Winston-Salem deserve our praise for being true to their ideals and their chosen way of life. NASCAR’s lucky to have them whether they choose to admit it or not.


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