Saturday, May 25, 2013

Start Your Engines!

It's Indy weekend!

The Indianapolis 500 is a big deal in my household, since my husband is a life-long motor sports fan, so he will be glued to the TV most of the weekend. Indycar is his favorite venue, but it's not the only race this weekend. NASCAR has two races: the Nationwide on Saturday and the Sprint Cup on Sunday afternoon from Charlotte, NC. And Formula 1 is running the fabled Monte Carlo Grand Prix Sunday AM. 4AM on the West Coast, to be specific. That one will get recorded, of course.

The Indy speedway was built in 1909 and the first 500 mile race was run on Memorial Day, May 30, 1911. In those days, there were two men in the cars: a drive and a riding mechanic who checked oil pressure and kept an eye on other traffic. The winner that year was Ray Harroun, who was considered a hazard on the track because he was the only driver without a mechanic. The photo to the right shows Joe Dawson winning the 1912 race. (Photo from Wikicommons via Wikipedia)

Auto racing has been around almost as long as automobiles, and the early races provided a chance for the carmakers to show how well their products worked (or didn't) and built public enthusiasm for the new horseless carriages. Nowadays, race cars are designed for racing and most are not street legal. The days of racing in production cars are long over.

Unlike most racing circuits, which started as gentlemen's competitions, NASCAR has its roots in bootlegging, with moonshiners souping up their cars to outrun the federal revenue agents. It's the common man's motor sport, which probably accounts for its continuing popularity. It's also a darn good show, and the drivers are highly competitive and not always gentlemanly, including the occasional after-race fist fight. In most racing sports, the announcer says, "Gentlemen, start your engines," but at NASCAR, it's more often "Drivers, start your engines." Which is a good thing since women are finally making inroads into auto racing, Danica Patrick being the best known woman drive.

The premier racing circuit is Formula One, also known as Grand Prix Racing, as every event in the circuit is called a Grand Prix. Very upper class, jet-setting kind of circuit with races all over the world, from Europe to Australia to China to Abu Dhabi. For a long time, there was no American GP but there will be a US GP in Austin, Texas this coming November.

The hero of Worth The Risk, the romance I wrote with Anne Farrell, features a former Formula One driver as hero.

An ex-race car driver's life spins out of control when scandal hits a small California town. Will love come at too high a price?

I won't be watching all the races with the hubby, since that is prime writing time, but I'll catch some of it. What race, if any, will you be watching?

And if you're one of the millions on the nation's highways this weekend, drive safely!


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