It’s official. The NBA is locking out its players for the 2012 season, unless the players decide to take a few less million dollars’ salary out of the goodness of their heart so that some of the smaller teams can actually turn a profit.
The NFL is well into their lockout, which (I hope) ends when the team owners agree to compensate the poor players who are getting their brains turned into jelly.
So that leaves baseball (slow), hockey (where’s the puck?) and NASCAR (shudder) to fill up 24 hours/365 days of gab-gab-gabbing on ESPN next year.
Hey! Show the American people some rally and F1!
That would break up the all-baseball Top Ten Play compilations, at least.
One can dream!
I hope the NBA hurries up, because I can’t wait to see “World Peace” on the back of this man’s jersey.
Those are in quotes, because if you aren’t familiar with rallying, they should really be called a super special stage and rallycross, respectively. Now that we’ve got the semantics out of the way…
I remember the very first running of the rally event in 2006. It seemed that the only spectators in the Home Depot Center were curious looky-loos drawn by the sound of engines. Even in 2007, I was able to hang around the service area long enough to eavesdrop on a drivers’ debrief, while everyone else was watching the skateboarders.
Gone are those days. Travis Pastrana reigns supreme over a nation of adrenaline junkies. Ken Block rules the neighboring kingdom of You Tube, with a notable diplomatic visit to Top Gear. The crowd in the Coliseum today? Tens of thousands! I would have been annoyed with all the crowds if I wasn’t utterly amazed by how rallying has exploded.
Not only are the fans out in numbers–they’re dedicated. Ken Block shirts, 199 tattoos, Subaru Rally Team USA hats–these aren’t just looky-loos anymore. The guy behind me was even up to date on Rally Finland (which I’m waiting to see on HD Theater next weekend, so don’t give away who won!).
(Side note: If you’re here and you’re like, “whattheFinlandwhosywhatsit?” Boy, are you in luck! Head on over to my “What is World Rally?” page and catch up on one of the most amazing motorsports ever conceived. You can thank me later.)
Because you can find a recap of the exact proceedings elsewhere, I won’t get into it. Anyway, it was really hard making sense of all the action from the stands. All I know for sure is that Tanner Foust won two, very well-deserved gold medals. Cars jumped, and people liked it. Three cars jumped at once, and people loved it. A car rolled, and people screamed. Then all mayhem ensued–donuts, jumps, running over foam barriers–and the crowd went wild!
However, despite all the good news, the rallying was marred by poor organization. From the confusion over the course, to the rallycross final that ended one lap early, the organizers need to impose the same decorum that the FIA bestows on the World Rally Championship. In fact, they should call up Marcus Grönholm (he’s not busy, right?), lure him over with a crate of ketchup, ask him to consult on the rulebook, and then push him into a car and order him to drive! Perfect plan.
I’m also frustrated at the lack of professionalism by the drivers. Even without co-drivers, they should have been able to find their way around one stage. An itty-bitty one, at that. There’s no panacea to this problem, but as the fan base expands, so does our talent pool. So if you’ve got any talent at all, get off your bum and get in a car! That’s how all the best rally drivers got started. Even Seb Loeb used to slum it up in a Citroen Saxo.
Back to the X Games: the rallycross event was a huge success. In fact, with the super special stage being such an underwhelming mess, it might be a good idea to make a full transition and drop the traditional rally format. As much as I love rallying, the very nature of a three-day time trial is not spectacular enough to entrench itself into American sports culture. Rallycross, however, has amazing potential. NASCAR on dirt? It’s something we can relate to. One can tune in for the first time and know what’s going on. That’s how the future looks, in my humble opinion. And until Ken Block wins a WRC event, that’s the way it will be.
If you’re not already sick of seeing banner ads for the WRC app on the official WRC website, try it out!
Is it perfect? No. (I want real-time splits on every stage, dangit!)
Is it really nice when I want me some portable Rally Radio? Oh, yes.
So go download it. It’s free! If it were a free pretzel, you would’ve done it already.
Surprise! I’m back.
I’m trying to ease back in and get updates going, but I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and precious little time to do it. After all, I’ve had to deal with a huge earthquake centered a few miles from my house that caused havoc and mayhem! OK…well, maybe the worst thing that happened was my Pirelli air horn falling over.
Anyway, before I rush off for a conference call, here’s a random link to a case study of weirdness in Finland. No, it has nothing to do with Rally Finland. But if Finns are crazy enough to drive rally cars, then they’re crazy enough to do THIS.
Update: holy cow! They got ahold of our national anthem! You’d better watch it now, because I don’t know how long I can keep this video up, out of good conscience…
I promise, I’m perfectly healthy, I haven’t been abducted by aliens, and I haven’t abandoned blogging. It’s just that by the time I’m done listening to the recorded Rally Radio coverage, it’s far too late for anyone to care what I thought about the rally. Besides, there hasn’t been anything spectacularly fascinating about Mexico or Argentina. There were barely any drivers left at the end of the rally to comment on!
So right now, I’m listening to Rally Jordan coverage and hoping to post something juicy in the near future.
Alrighty…back to work. Meh.
The snow we needed for Sweden somehow ended up in Athens.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t stay around for the Acropolis Rally. What a mess the planet’s in…
Ah, the cruelty of time.
At the tender age of 25, I’m finding it impossible to stay up all night for the live rally coverage. I’ve resorted to recording it so I can listen to it during the day. Problem—my days are crazy as well, so just FYI, I’ll still be sharing my thoughts on each rally. It’s just now being subject to delays. I could get it out sooner by watching the TV broadcasts and reading articles, but it just isn’t enough to get a true feel of the rally.
I’ve got a long drive through LA traffic today, so maybe I can finish listening and post something by Friday.
Sorry, folks. I was an airplane during day one of the rally and couldn’t get over the 16-hour jet lag to listen to the other two days on Rally Radio. Still, I got to see the TV coverage and catch up on press articles. From the looks of things, it was a fresh start to a new season. There were plenty of changes (no-mousse Pirelli tyres, seeded running order, etc.), but the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Of course, Sebastien Loeb won. He’s won five times now–seven, if you count the rallies nearly won in 2002 (time penalty) and 2006 (black ice). They could just go ahead and name the rally after him now. Anyway, everything seemed smooth as usual for Loeb. Yes, this is good tidings for his fifth world title. But having two specialist rallies at the start of the year–Monte and Sweden–we really won’t get a clearer idea of how the season will progress until the gravel rallies hit.
Therefore, we still don’t know if second-place finisher Mikko Hirvonen has risen to the top level. Marcus Gronholm couldn’t have fared better than Mikko did here. And while Mikko may win the Swedish Rally, that doesn’t prove his speed overall. It’s kinda frustrating as a fan: the season has begun, but it really hasn’t begun.
Would-be second-place finisher Dani Sordo was again plagued by bad luck. Even his usually calm demeanor was undone. He’s put in a lot of work, traveling, doing two days of recce and competing on eleven stages in good faith–all that to waste. But for heaven’s sake, don’t leave poor Marc Marti behind! Everyone, take a moment and appreciate the thankless job of being a codriver. Despite putting in all the hard work keeping timecards, making pacenotes, and making the driver happy, he still gets left alone while the driver is whisked away to a cozy trailer by a helicopter.
Of all people, a beach-loving Aussie on the podium! Chris Atkinson’s making it a tradition to do battle on the Monaco harbour super special. Which is good–it was the only real nail-biter all weekend. I wonder if he does so well because he drives the stage on the way to buy groceries…
Francois Duval did himself a favor by finishing in fourth. In his only secured drive for the season, I hope he impressed Malcolm Wilson enough to get a callback. If he does, that’d be a sweet deal!
Fifth place for Petter Solberg is usually a disappointment. But in Monte Carlo, that’s great news! His best finish here before was sixth all the way back in 2002. Honestly, I think he’d count himself lucky if he finishes the Monte at all. Remember my psychic ability to predict Petter’s results? Well, I’ve got the feeling that he’s finally turned the corner and gotten over his horrendous luck. I hope I’m right, cuz I’d really like to be psychic!
With great pleasure do I write this sentence: Gigi Galli finished in sixth place in his ’07 Focus! All I have to say is that I’m happy. With Gigi and Toni Gardemeister in works cars, all is right with the world again. 🙂
Also, good job to Jean-Marie Cuoq and PG Andersson, keeping Peugeot’s and Suzuki’s names in the game. The prize for most eventful rally goes to Jari-Matti Latvala, proving the pitfalls of no-mousse tyres. Good thing the boy has training in the PWRC in changing tyres on the fly! I hope the other drivers have practiced their tyre-changing skills, because they’re gonna need ’em!
PS: Note to all Monegasque policemen–hurry it up a bit when crossing the road in front of the world’s fastest rally driver.
Summary: 2008, good. 2009 and 2010, bad.
2008: Gigi Galli at Stobart! Toni Gardemeister at Suzuki! Jari-Matti Latvala at Ford! Markko Martin as a Subaru test driver! Heikki Kovalainen at McLaren…oh wait…
2009/2010: Rally Indonesia? Seriously? Doooooom…
That’s kinda it in a nutshell. Life’s incredibly busy, so I’ll most likely get back to the keyboard during Rallye Monte Carlo. Ciao!