Behind the scenes at the 100th Indy 500: Day Two


Castroneves Goes Down

Building off the momentum of Day One, we squared off against three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves in the Verizon hum remote control car race. He asked for the directions on “how to use this thing” and I pretended not to hear him.


I got off to a hot start and smoked the entire field, H.C. included. I snapped this pic for posterity.

race results

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Volvo to Race its V8 Supercars in an Attempt to Conquer Australia

We’ve already talked about how the Volvo C70 is one of the best values out there. It’s luxurious and practical – the C70 has earned awards from multiple automotive research companies:

– Vincentric’s 2012 Best Value in America
– IntelliChoice 2010 Best Overall Value Luxury Convertible class
– J.D. Power: Top-Ranked Model in its Class

Proving its overall value through trial with minimal error, the C70 is a vehicle that any everyday driver can thoroughly enjoy. However, what we normally don’t think about when we look at a Volvo is pure speed. Power. The essence of the vehicle and that thing that makes all of us giddy inside to feel the pull of the engine. Can an individual race with a Volvo?

Well, the C70 is a Sedan, so you’d be hard pressed to hit top speeds over a BMW with one. The truth is, it usually isn’t the car that defines a win on the drag strip – it’s the skill and knowledge of the driver, coupled with superbly crafted Volvo auto parts, that determines a victory. It often takes the perfect launch and correctly-timed shifting to win a drag race – and those skills can only come through experience.

So the C70 may not win any Grand Prix’s, but when Volvo unleashed the S60 at Global Tuner Grand Prix in Denver Colorado, the company found a win back in 2010. It wasn’t their first win, and two years later the same racing team would bring home another win using the c30 touring car. Impressive in retrospect, but the 2010 race took place on Laguna Seca, relevant because it is one of the only tracks in North America with lap times that are actually reported seriously by manufacturers and car journalists alike.

But Volvo didn’t stop after their wins in North America. After besting names like Ford and Mitsubishi, the company set its sights on an old winner’s podium determined to reclaim their number one spot. They are slated to race in Australia during the 2014 season, this time with a V8 supercar model S60 run by the Garry Rogers racing team. For the makers of Volvo, Australia represents something of a return to glory. 15 years ago, the company was able to claim top spot in the country’s Bathurst race.

Known as the Bathurst 1000, it is a grueling 1000 mile circuit that Australians refer to as “The Great Race.” A victory at Bathurst means, definitively, that you’ve done it as a car maker. A win in the great race showed durability, reliability and stamina. Manufacturers saw the win as something of a branding tool, no doubt part of what motivates the auto company to proudly market genuine Volvo parts year after year.

The eEuroParts site notes that the S60 has a five-cylinder engine, among the other variable Volvo parts, capable of about 300 break horsepower from a stock model. Available in 5-speed manual or automatic, the car is relatively lightweight and has heavy boost. Not what some would call beastly out of the gate, but the Polestar model is based off of the long lineage of race cars from the same name. The racing edition will have an inline six-cylinder engine, with a larger turbo intercooler than its consumer cousin, and revamped racing exhaust for added power.

The Polestar hits 0-60 within 4.9 seconds–that’s comparable to the much vaunted 2009 Mitsubishi Evo from Top Gear (we all remember that beautiful comparison with the Subaru Imprezza). The question isn’t whether Volvo will be taken seriously as a motor car in a racing circuit. That answer has been proven time and time again. The question is whether or not Volvo’s show of power will be enough to climb the podium to number one.


Jonathan Rea Profile Bio

Superbike racing is a real test of how man can harness the abilities of a machine – many would say no more so than the illustrious Moto GP, which is faster but perhaps less testing. Jonathan Rea is one of the stars of the Superbike field and one of those sportsmen who have graced the scene for a number of years due to their prodigious talents. Still only in his mid-twenties, Rea’s career could be about to really take off.

Rea cultivated his talents on the Motocross circuit where he learned the invaluable arts of balance and handling – essential in managing a bike’s varying dynamics. A move to the racing circuit was inevitable for a rider of his talents.

He competed in the British Superbike Circuit where he achieved 2nd place overall in 2007 and was named Irish Motorcyclist of the Year in 2008. Rea competed in the final race of the World Supersport calendar that year and in 2009 he moved on to complete a full season in in the World Superbike Championship.

He took two wins in his first proper season and an impressive four wins the season after. He’s been a steady presence in the World Superbike field since then, and a much respected member of Pata Honda’s team.

2012 was a good year with Rea finishing fifth in the World Superbike Championship and won the Suzuka 8 Hour. Rea goes into 2013 as a confident and more experienced rider and has already taken a victory at Silverstone. He’s well placed to compete for a top 5 finish, chasing after the breakaway pack of Guintoli, Sykes, Laverty and Melandri.

Rea rides the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade and is a stable mate of the legendary Casey Stoner. Because of the recent rider test ban in Moto GP, Rea worked on the testing of Honda’s 2011 RCV which Stoner rode to victory in that season.

There are firm links between the worlds of Moto GP and Superbikes as the two sports move technically closer together. Anyone who admires the Moto GP season would do well to watch the exploits of their Superbike counterparts. Valentino Rossi is a known enthusiast of the sport.
Like any sporting talent, Rea is much in demand when it comes to sponsorship. Honda, RedBull, Oakley, and motorbike insurance specialists Carole Nash, are all proud to back one of sport’s most promising talents.

You can catch Jonathan’s blog on the Carole Nash website for an insight into his character and all round profile:


Over the Wall: The Job and Workout Regime of a NASCAR Pit Crew Member

New Hampshire is quite an idyllic place in the fall, full of trees with changing leaves, mild weather, and sleepy small towns; until the baritone crackle of NASCAR V8’s roll into town that is.

Twice a year, the NASCAR circus comes to New Hampshire to race at the Sylvania 300. However, unlike most other tracks, New Hampshire Motor Speedway special is the fact that is a 1-mile oval. Because of this, the racing action is condensed as opposed to the larger tracks like Talladega. Imagine putting 50 angry bears into one boxing ring, and letting them loose, that is what NASCAR racing on a short oval looks and sounds like. While here as guests of Sylvania, had the opportunity to find out the type of physical dexterity needed to be on a racing team as well.

Many people might think NASCAR and fitness should not be in the same sentence. Images of beer bellies and Cheetos fill their heads as they think of some man named Bubba screaming himself to near cardiac arrest for his favorite driver. However, that belief isn’t true.

Behind the scenes of every NASCAR team, there is a group of dedicated individuals that work on and off the track to achieve a race win. These individuals are the pit crewmembers. I spoke to TJ Fleming, front tire carrier of the Menards 88 truck in the Camping World Truck Series, on just how a pit crew member prepares for his job.

For those unfamiliar with racing, think of a pit crew like an offensive line, and the driver as the quarterback. Although the quarterback shoulders pressure from the media and responsibility for executing plays, it’s his offensive line that protects him so he can be effective. Just ask Jay Cutler of the Bears on how important a functioning offensive line is.

A pit crew does the same job. The driver goes out and collects the attention and race wins, but without his crewmembers, he would never have a chance to reach the podium. A pit crew keeps their driver competitive by completing a driver’s pit stops. During a pit stop, tires are changed, gas is refueled, and a car may be slightly repaired (usually with the delicate tools of hammers and duct tape). The faster a driver can get in and out of the pits, the greater his chances of winning. To get out fast, a pit crewmember must be well trained and in good shape.

Changing a tire may not seem like an activity to train for, but you probably have never had to change a tire in less than 30 seconds in front of a screaming crowd with a race win on the line. Not to mention, these tires way anywhere from 45-75 lbs. each that need to be lifted and fitted in a moments notice after sitting on the wall waiting for a driver to pit. Like an offensive linemen, you need to immediately and quickly spring into action to get the job done.

The person I spoke to about the importance of fitness for a crewmember was T.J. Fleming. T.J. and his teammates are responsible for keeping Matt Crafton’s truck competitive on the track in the Camping World Racing Series. Instead of cars, the Camping World Race Series features pickup trucks hauling ass on the racetrack that you would normally find at Home Depot hauling lumber.

Unlike NASCAR pit crews, whose teams have more money and resources, he and his crew pull double duty both working on the truck at the shop, and themselves in the gym. Since his job requires double duty, his workout regime focuses on all around strength. If you want to stay in shape like a crewmember, focus on these lifts:
• Squats
• Romanian Deadlifts
• Core Training
His exercise regime focuses around functionality, not necessarily what makes you look like a greased Guido.

Off the cameras, and out of the spotlight, is where pit crewmembers do their jobs. Pumping gas and changing tires is easy during a daily commute, but doing it quickly and effectively in a racing setting takes and hours of preparations. Without their help, the wins won’t come for the driver and neither will the spotlight or attention. Just like without an offensive line, your quarterback is just an expensive smear on the football field.