Writing about racing. Most of it is NASCAR, but occasionally I write about other series too.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Where Love of a Sport and Artistic Expression Become One

There has been a lot of media coverage surrounding my favorite driver, Clint Bowyer, over the past month or so. First we start off with the “will he make it into the Chase?” storyline. Then upon making it into the Chase, Clint wins the race in New Hampshire.

That spawned this image, which I posted on my Facebook page:

Unfortunately, as anybody who follows NASCAR knows, the sanctioning body had issues with Clint’s car, and on the following Wednesday, they hit Clint, his Crew Chief Shane Wilson, and RCR with some hefty fines, points reductions, and in Shane’s case, a 6 race suspension.

I disagree with the judgement, and I disagree with anything that casts a pall on the integrity of this team & organization. Wednesday was a fairly sleepless night for me. When I woke up Thursday morning, before I even had a chance to make coffee, I had to create this:

I utilized a ribbon vector graphic created by Niki K and pulled from a free image site, removed the gradients, and changed the colors. The 33 is the trademark of RCR for the car that Clint drives (so I take no credit for those pieces at all).

But what does it mean?

I had to do some research on the meanings of the various ribbons. Many colors have multiple meanings. This one is a color scheme that I hadn’t seen previously, so I made up the meaning. An all white ribbon means Innocence. Black & White stand for Justice. Black alone stands for mourning. I added the grey there because in some cases there needs to be some grey area. Tried to get the yellow & red as close to what they use on the car (and Cheerios box?) as possible.

I posted this image on my Facebook page, the Clint Bowyer fan forum, and my Twitter accounts @PhoenyxArts & @CheckrdPhoenyx. I pretty much gave the “have at it” on this image, and its gone pretty viral. Can’t really say that about anything else I’ve created. What has been amazing to see is how many people have embraced it as their profile pic, avatar, etc. on places like Facebook & Twitter. People I don’t even “know”, and to me this is an amazing thing.

One member of the forum contacted me to ask if she could use this image to make stickers to pass out at the fan club party. Fantastic!

I conspired with another member of the forum in creating a poster that she would have printed out and signed by many fans then presented to Clint at the fan club party on September 30. The poster graphic:

Printed at 2x3 feet. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the party this year, but by all accounts, Clint loved it.

The poster with some of the signatures on it (Photo credit: Kristen Boschen-Stock):

Lynda (the woman who had it printed) and her husband holding the poster (Photo credit: Kristen Boschen-Stock):

It was positively FILLED with signatures (Photo credit: Debbie Mott Bozeman):

Lynda presenting the poster to Clint (Photo credit: Kristen Boschen-Stock):

I had one more last minute inspiration of putting together necklaces for my friends on the forum to wear at the fan club party & race at Kansas too:

It was a perfect opportunity to experiment with shrink plastic as a valid medium in jewelry making. Yes, shrink plastic. As in Shrinky Dinks. The very stuff I used to play with as a kid, only its all grown up too. Still have some kinks to work out with it, but what a lot of fun to work with again! Used Sharpie markers & colored pencils to render them, then a simple wire wrapped link with a red czech fire polished bead & a yellow swarovski crystal for the bail.

It is amazing what can become a Muse, isn’t it?

Sunday, July 4, 2010


I was revisiting some of the posts I had written on my Rowdy.com blog, and this one stood out. Granted this was written in October of 2007, but it still holds true. Slightly edited for some rewording I want to do, but the message is still the same...

There was a post on a driver forum that I frequent that got me to thinking today about 'fanmanship'. You know, sportsmanship, only for fans instead of the players.

The post was a link to an ebay auction for one of those decals... naughty boy done up in said driver's colors urinating on the number 24. Ok, maybe its a guy thing and it ties in with marking territory (gotta give my friend Shelly props for that anaology), but for some reason I found this decal very offensive. Not just because I actually like Jeff Gordon even if he isn't my favorite driver. I'd still be offended if it were a driver I didn’t care for. 

WWhy did this offend me so much? I think it has much to do with the same reason I was infuriated when those idiot Dale Jr. fans were chucking beer cans at Jeff Gordon at Talladega back in 2007. It all boils down to bad fanmanship. 

Its ok to be vehement in your support for your driver (or your baseball team, or your football team), but is it really ok to be so insultingly vitriolic against a driver (or team) you don't like (hate)? Does hating a driver make it ok to have such crude and hateful references agains them? Personally I don't think so. Sure, we're all going to have drivers we really can't stand... but is it necessary to have a naughty boy in your driver's colors pissing on the number of the driver you hate? Or chuck beers, or write scatalogical references to them on certain fan forums, or write false references to their sexuality? Those beer chucking fans are like the fans of a certain football team here in the bay area... and they both scare the hell out of me.

I think of the guys who are my favorite drivers, I think of what I know of their personalities... would behaving in this way towards other drivers really be a way to support them, or would it embarrass the hell out of them? Personally, if I were a championship quality Cup driver and saw my fans posting/behaving in that way... I'd be embarrassed! 

Another thing to ask oneself would be "how would I feel about my favorite driver if he were to act in the manner that some of his fans do? Would I still be a fan of his, or would I be so put off by the behaviour that I'd look for another driver to support?" I sure as hell wouldn't be a Clint Bowyer or Matt Kenseth fan if they behaved that way. Overall these guys tend to conduct themselves as true sportsmen. Sure they may get fired up from time to time, or make mistakes... they're human and adrenaline makes humans do strange things. 

So maybe there needs to be an 'unwritten standard of fandom ethics' that some people need to think about. Support your driver passionately, dislike other drivers just as passionately... but don't be vulgar about it. Don't live up to the 'stereotype' of the NASCAR fan. These guys are out there driving their hearts out, even the ones we think shouldn't be behind the wheel... they deserve at least a little respect in how you dislike them.

I'm interested to "hear" the opinions of others on this subject.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thinking about the Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski Incident

It has been a week since the Atlanta race, and the now infamous “Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski” incident. There has been numerous articles on the subject from pros and fans alike. So now after thinking on it (and the help of a little Jack Daniel’s), I am giving my opinion and views on the matter.

1. There is no denying it, Brad Keselowski is an unapologetic little punk. I used to like Brad. Really. Even after flipping Carl Edwards at Talladega last year, I was still ok with him. But as the season progressed, I began to notice a side to Brad K that I do not like. There is driving competitively (which will involve putting the fender to somebody), and there is driving like an Ass. Way I see it, Brad drives like an Ass.

Sorry, Brad, there is a fine line between not letting yourself get pushed around by the veterans to establish that you are serious about driving with the big boys, and driving like a punk. You crossed that line last year. You need to learn to respect the other drivers on the track. That doesn't mean let yourself be a pushover, but you need to learn respect. I hope you do. I’d like to start liking you again. Right now, I can’t.

2. Carl Edwards has had anger issues in the past. We have seen it. I spent most of 2008 hating Carl because of the Matt Kenseth incident in 2007, and the Kevin Harvick incident in 2008. Since I believe in giving all drivers a “clean slate” at the beginning of the season, I was able to put all that in the past and actually cheer for him in 2009.

Was he justified in deliberately going out to spin Brad K in the race last weekend? I can’t answer that. However, I did cheer for Denny Hamlin for spinning him out last year.

I have mixed feelings in that incident. Part of me is livid pissed because thanks to that stunt, Clint Bowyer got screwed out of a great chance for a  top 10 finish after struggling with a Beast of a car all day. The following Green White Checkered attempt caused a wreck involving Jamie McMurray and collecting Clint along the way. Thanks to Clint’s 23rd place finish, he went from possibly gaining a lead in the points to dropping 3 positions to 5th.

There is also the argument that Carl exhibited really poor judgment in trying to take Brad K out at 190mph, which helped the car take flight. That he took it too far. Did he? I don’t have that answer. However, whether I like a driver or dislike him, I do not like seeing anybody getting airborne like that.

Did NASCAR do the right thing in only giving Carl probation for 3 races? Considering that essentially makes him a moving target for the next 3 races, 2 of which are short track, I would have to say yes. It would be incredibly hypocritical of the sanctioning bodies to give the drivers the green light to “have at it” only to hand down a severe penalty for this incident. Totally not taking into consideration that the car flipped. That is a separate situation that I am hoping will at least be partially fixed by the introduction of the spoiler over the wing.

Brad really needs to learn respect for the other 42 drivers out on the track. His current attitude has gained him no friends out there, and what he will need to see is having ‘friends’ out on the track can ultimately help with his success out there. Sometimes that is a hard lesson to learn.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Oh No! Not another NASCAR Blog!

Another NASCAR Blog? Really?  

Yes, and why not?

While I am still a fairly “new” fan to the world of NASCAR, got serious about following it mid 2006, I have a very deep love and enthusiasm for the sport. I haven’t agreed with or liked everything I have seen, but there is always hope that things will improve. 

With what we have seen in the beginning of the 2010 season, it looks as if things may be looking up.

Favorite Drivers.
I like a lot of drivers, and I have a “Top 5” list of drivers I like. My #1 favorite is Clint Bowyer, with Matt Kenseth following a close 2nd. Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick round out my top 5. Others that are “up there” in my list of favorites are Mark Martin, Max Papis, Tony Stewart and Joey Logano. 

Least Favorite/Drivers I Dislike.
It is a new season, therefore all drivers start out with a Clean Slate. I decided last year that I don’t need to waste my time with hating a particular driver just because of something he may have done 3 years ago. So, EVERYBODY gets a clean slate. 

The 2010 Season
This looks to be an interesting year. RCR is showing signs of life, which is continuing from the end of the 2009 season. Last year was painful to say the least. Going from having all the RCR guys in the Chase in 2007 and 2008  with Clint finishing 3rd in 2007 and 5th in 2008, to none of them making the Chase last year. Painful to watch. I have a lot of hope riding with the #33, #31 and the #29. Oh, and the #3 in the Truck series, of course. 

The Obligatory Danica Commentary
One thing I have learned to view with a lot of distaste over the past few years is the media hype and sensationalism that will center around one driver. I rapidly became tired of Juan Pablo Montoya in 2007, bored with Joey “Sliced Bread” Logano in 2008 and 2009… do NOT get me started on the hype around Dale Jr. every time we turn around. 

Now we have Danica. Well, there has been some hype in the “will she, won’t she join NASCAR” over the past few years. But now that she is actually in some races in the NASCAR world? The media won’t shut up about her! 

Don’t get me wrong, I would like to see her succeed. If anything, it will help open the door of possibility to more women in the sport if she does. I was impressed by her driving in the ARCA race. That was one hell of a save when she was spun. Now that she has the ride for the Nationwide race this Saturday (which I still feel for Kelly Bires on that one. Ouch!) let’s see how well she handles the car and racing with some of the big boys. 

So For Now…
The intention is to update this blog at least 1-2 times a week. What reality dictates will remain to be seen.