Thursday, February 23, 2012

Auto racing here and there

The way to make a small fortune in auto racing, is to start with a large fortune.
Ancient auto racing proverb

Racing season is almost here and there's some news and non-news to catch up on.


AG at Dullard Mush alerted me to an ad on Craig's List about someone looking for help in promoting auto racing in the Reno area. At first I thought it was one team looking to find a sponsor, but it turned out to be an entire league; Dwarf Cars.

dwarf cars
Photo credit D.A.R.T.

It sounds like fun and I gave it serious consideration, (I'm still thinking about it) but I can see a number of problems. The biggest problem is the location of Reno/Fernley Raceway. Asking potential customers to drive nearly 100 miles round trip for some entertainment is a lot to ask. I don't know what a good location would be, but 10 miles south of Fernley ain't it.

In order to get people to make the drive, you'd need a good headline race. Club racing just isn't a big enough attraction. Their best bet, I would think, would be to attach themselves to a larger and more popular series and race at bigger tracks.

We can also add the mud parking lot, dilapidated grandstands, and only a 1/3 mile oval, and let's face it, it's not the best place to impress your girlfriend on a Saturday night in Reno. The league operates in northern Nevada and parts of California. I'm no marketing guru, but if Reno isn't the main draw in this area, then what is?

Contrast the Fernley track with what the Reno Aces did and it's easy to see why baseball is popular in Reno and dirt track racing isn't. Old Moana Park and the Fernley track have at least one thing in common; I visited them both once and never went back to either.


So for the time being, I'll remain an ALMS fan. The economic crunch has been tough on the series and many of last year's problems persist, but there are some interesting additions. (Note: Driving 600 miles round trip once a year is still worth it).

Last year's Aston Martin has moved to GT and for the most part, gone back to Europe. The Muscle Milk team picked up Honda which returns after a one year absence due to the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. Still, with the Dyson Lola/Mazda, LMP 1 is only a two team class.

LMP 2 has two new additions for a total of three teams now. On shorter, curvier tracks like Laguna Seca, both classes are competitive so we could get a pretty good race between them. The most interesting of the LMP 2 entrants is the Conquest Endurance Morgan/Judd prototype.

The Morgan Motor Company is best known for the iconic three wheeled cyclecar. They've been building them by hand since 1909.

1912 Morgan
Photo credit Wikipedia

They make four wheel cars also, including this one.

morgan prototype
Photo credit Racecar Engineering

Aside from their long history of innovation, what's especially interesting is the choice of the Judd engine. English sports cars traditionally focus on being light weight, and Judd is best known for their monstrous V-10. They'll certainly have something smaller, being an LMP 2, but the combination of Morgan and Judd make this the car to watch this year.

In the GT class Jaguar is out and Lotus is in. After three years, Jaguar never saw much success and I don't expect Lotus will either. But I have to admit, that's a good lookin' car.

Lotus Evora
Photo credit American Le Mans

The BMW's, Ferrari's, Porsche's and Corvettes will all return for another year. The GT class has been by far the most competitive and this year will be no different.

There are some new teams in LMPC and GTC. The cars in these classes are all from the same manufacturers, Oreca and Porsche respectively, so the focus is more on the drivers. We'll see if any new stars emerge.

All in all the series seems to be hanging in there. With only five teams in the marquee LMP classes, it's difficult to see the series gaining new fans. Still, there's enough that's new to keep the regular fans coming back.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wild horse photography

I have a new post at This is Reno about wild horses.

The Misfits of Eagle Valley

Coming in contact with wild horses has been an education. Part of that continuing education not mentioned in the post is how to get a decent picture of them. You never know where they're going to be or how many you'll see.

After taking a lot of pictures of little dark spots on the hillside, I decided to just wait until I happen upon them when they are near the road. Stopping does no good though as they are very skittish, so I'm now trying just slowing down and aiming my camera out the window. Here is a picture of my first attempt at a quick drive-by wild horse action photo:


Staying on the road, downshifting, rolling down the window and getting my camera ready all at the same time is pretty tricky. But, I have a system now so hopefully I'll do better in the future. Of course, the one time I thought I had a good one, they were on the wrong side of the road and I was aiming into the sun.

wild horses 1

Most of them are dark brown and black, which doesn't help either. In any case, I'll be posting more photo's of them here as I go along.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A less than stellar performance

I went to vote at the Nevada Republican Party Caucus last Saturday and wound up being "elected" precinct chairman. (Follow the link).

Mr. Chairman, I propose we cut the hoo-haw