Saturday, March 29, 2014

Evo School Day 1

Today I completed phase 1 of the Evolution Performance Driving School. This school is hosted at sites around the country and co-sponsored by the local SCCA chapters. The school is taught by former autocross champions on the national level and is designed to teach performance driving using the context of autocross. 

Since we started our adventures in this sport/hobby, I've heard a lot of great feedback about the school and it just happened to line up that I could participate this year (a big thanks to mom and dad for giving me some funding for it for my birthday a few weeks ago!).

Unlike a typical autocross event, these schools really focus on getting you lots of seat time under the expert guidance of their instructors. This has made all the difference in identifying and correcting some of the problems I've had for the last few events. 

For anyone interested in either learning a ton about car control or who wants to improve at autocross, I would HIGHLY recommend the school. In one day I think I learned more than I could have all season otherwise.

Today's extra challenge was my first time in wet conditions, but in the end it only helped to better learn the techniques. At the beginning of the day, before instruction, I drove a 37.1 second lap. By the end of the day I put in a solid (no cones hit) 35.9.  

Good progress, a  LOT learned, and a whole second day to come!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekend Plans?

Well let's see, it's Friday, so what is going on this weekend?

NASCAR is up the road in Martinsville VA, so that will be an interesting race. The half mile track there is mighty small compared to other big tracks, and with no banking I don't know how those drivers can stand it!  Brian and I drove a few laps for charity up there a few years ago, and that was fun, but no where near the high speed of the banking like at Charlotte.

Here in Columbia SC the monthly Cars and Coffee folks have shifted from Saturday to Sunday due to rain in the forecast, so head out to the Village at Sandhill shopping center Sunday morning for a huge pack of cars to look at and chit chat. Since they have a Starbucks and a Panera there for coffee, all you have to supply is the car.

Brian will be driving in Charlotte in a two day EVO driving school, so I'm sure he will be telling us all about that in the near future.  After that he should have no excuses on the autocross schedule the rest of the year!

If none of those are close by, here's a list of the car related shows on NBC Sports Channel this weekend, highlighted by the second race of Formula 1 in Malaysia. If 4am is too early on Sunday to get up and watch it live, you can see the repeat airing at 2:30pm.  The weather in Malaysia is hot, humid, and with a good chance of rain every afternoon, the qualifying and race should be very unpredictable. I'll still pick the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers to be in the thick of it, and I'll just predict two of the three drivers on the podium at the end will be from those two teams!

If you are looking for information on car shows on TV on all channels, check out the website TV RACER

These times are all Eastern.

Fri., March 28
Mecum Auctions: Kissimmee (Encore) – Midnight, NBCSN
Malaysian Grand Prix Practice – 2 a.m., NBCSN
Road To Ferrari – 4 p.m., NBCSN
F1 Countdown – 5 p.m., NBCSN

Sat., March 29
Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying – 4 a.m., NBCSN

Sun., March 30
Malaysian Grand Prix – 3:30 a.m., NBCSN
F1 Extra – 6 a.m., NBCSN
Malaysian Grand Prix (Encore) – 2:30 p.m., NBCSN
F1 Extra (Encore) – 5:30 p.m., NBCSN
Sebastian Vettel: On Road and On Track – 6 p.m., NBCSN

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Three days to the next autocross, and I'm sure by now the media, TV networks, and all motor sport journalists are packing up and heading for Darlington, home of the NASCAR race on the track that is "TOO TOUGH TO TAME"!  More specifically, they are heading to the parking lot behind the main grandstand for the autocross event on Sunday, in the "PARKING LOT TOO TOUGH TO TAME"!

Meanwhile in the real world, drivers from around SC and even parts of NC will be in Darlington, without any media coverage, where they will have a fun day of driving, trash talking, and comparing notes on their cars and driving techniques.  Everyone that drives also spends part of the day in a work assignment, whether it's registration, timing, picking up all the cones I knock down, or another one of the many jobs it takes to have a smooth running event.  The payoff for the work assignment is driving, and judging from the 84 folks that showed up in Charleston last month, it works out to be a good deal!

Exciting news (if you drive a Fiat), is that right now we have 3 Abarths entered for Sunday, so I'm happy to see more Italians entered, especially the two other guys that will be out there Sunday since I've met them at other autocross events.  They have a few more mods on their cars than I do, so even though they will be in STC class, the interesting thing will be to see how we compare on raw time, as well as comparing our PAX adjusted times.  Since I'm in a slower class (G Street), I might be close to them on PAX, but it still comes down to driver performance for the most part. One bit of trivia in this case, I know that all three of us will be driving on the same model  Dunlop Direzza ZII tires, so while that may not really mean anything, at least in that part of performance we're on the same foot, so to speak!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Darlington Results

Andre did an awesome bit of driving, with his first run in the 43 second range, and then from there he just started cranking it up every time for 6 runs, ending up in the mid 36s!!! I was riding with him most of the time, and it was incredible to see the gain in speed as his time dropped on every run. By the last run, he was in the 35s, but hit two cones, so his fastest clean run is below.

You can see I'm in 4th place, slowest Fiat on the day! But the good news is that I managed to totally go too fast and lose control on one run, with a massive spin before coming to a stop. That's the first time I've pushed the Fiat and lost grip, so let's call that a learning experience!

As far as our class goes for the year, right now I'd have to say it's going to be a battle between the Focus ST and everyone else! The two drivers sharing the Focus took 1st and 3rd, and while Andre and I in the Fiat took 2nd and 4th.

Our next autocross will be April 27th at the Michelin Proving Grounds in Laurens SC, so that should be a great one. Before then, Brian will be in Charlotte this coming weekend for a two day autocross driving school, so we will see him in autocross competition up at Michelin.

In the photo below Andre is walking the course before the competition. We were lucky enough to walk with Patrice back there in the blue shirt too. He was the fastest PAX time of the day out of all 73 cars, driving his Fiat Abarth in the STC class. All in all a great day, lots of fun, and a fellow Fiat in first, with Andre really driving smoothly in his first time out!

(you can find more photos at our Flickr site at the link over there on the right of this page)

gs - 'G Street' Total Entries: 7 Points Event #1 at Darlington
Justin Robinett
2013 Ford Focus ST
Andre Goncalves
2013 Fiat 500 Abarth
Zach Bohach
2013 Ford Focus ST
Robert Nixon
2013 Fiat 500 Abarth
Terry McClure
 VW Scirocco
Johathan Clark
Lexus GS300
Robbie Solesbee
2004 Ford Mustang

Sunday, March 23, 2014


(This post was written before the competition at Darlington today, so for now I'll share the first photo of three Fiat Abarths that competed above.  Full results will come later, but Patrice the driver in the middle took overall fastest PAX time on the day out of about 75 competitors, and my co-driver Andre was faster than me and took 2nd in GS.  Not sure if we will get total PAX results for all Street category...more to follow)

To get ready for today's autocross, last night I changed tires, checked the oil, coolant, and brake fluid levels, and then loaded up the mighty Fiat.  Next I tweaked my digital tire gauge and got it going again, so my best guess is that the two watch type flat batteries in it just aren't the greatest. As a bit of insurance, I threw a cheapo tire gauge into the car just in case the gauge has a bad hair day today.

Check list wise, all the basics are ready to go, including a hat for being outside all day, and some food and water.  Today I'm hauling the big 10 by 10 awning and some chairs, just in case we get the wet half of the 50% chance of rain. After driving the pick up truck most of Saturday while hauling some stuff to where it needed to go (trash to dump, excess stuff to Goodwill, extra bed frame to a friend's house), it will be great to steer the #77 Abarth around some cones today.

The on line registration currently stands at 73 entries, and 17 of them are in our Street category.  Later tonight or Monday I'll get around to posting some results and hopefully some photos from the Parking Lot Too Tough To Tame at Darlington Raceway.

In the mean time, here are the before and after shots of the car in the garage last night, going from the 16 inch Pirelli to the 17 inch Dunlop tires.

Hey, just for fun, can you find 5 differences between these two photos?  I'll give a free NMS t-shirt to the first person to comment on this blog and list 5 correctly!

Saturday, March 22, 2014


One day before Sunday and our first event!  As of right now there are 72 drivers entered, with 16 of them in the Street Class.  Cars include a BMW M3, BMW Z4, Nissan 370Z, Mazda Miata, Dodge Challenger SRT8, Ford Mustang GT, Ford Mustang V6, Scion tC, Toyota Corolla S, and a Ford Focus.  Some of the cars have a 2nd driver, so we have a wide variety of 4, 6, and 8 cylinder cars all set to compete!

I don't know what the pro drivers do on the day before an event, but being a regular guy I have some chores to do around the house.  Today's list includes a glamorous ride to the dump to clean out some garage space. While it would be fun to drive over there in the Fiat, this is where the mighty awesome power of my 97 Ford Ranger and all 4 cylinders will be hauling the load!  Other than the fuel gauge that has never worked, the only other issue is the door that controls the heat doesn't work. What's great about this particular feature is that while the AC works, and the heat works, you can only use them at full blast 100%.  There is no partly chilled or partly warmed air.  Lucky for me it's usually hot enough in SC to only use max AC, so that works out pretty well.

As far as tomorrow goes, we have a 50% chance of rain, so I've got to admit that a wet course will certainly make things very interesting!  In my vast experience of almost a year of doing this, (please laugh at that one!), I haven't had to drive an autocross in the rain.  Getting wet all day I can handle, but trying to drive quickly and brake hard will be a good time all around!

Besides the Street category, I hope to get all the three Fiats together for an Italian Family Photo, and also get some shots of Andre driving my car too.

That's it for now, gotta head to the dump!

Friday, March 21, 2014


Happy Friday everyone!  That means we now have two days to go before the first autocross for points this year. The number two also stands for our huge number of cars in the NMS stables, our world wide global presence motor sport team (and entirely made up entity) that in fantasy world is competing in NASCAR, Indy car, and Formula 1 races around the world every day of the year. Well, as soon as we win a bazillion dollar lottery, and build up the team to that level anyway.  For now, it's two guys in their second year of autocross with a blog!

What makes autocross fun is that you can get started with just a couple of items you probably already have, or you can even borrow them, and get started!  Let's start with one thing you have to have (or borrow), and that is a car. Pretty much any car will do, as long as it has four wheels and runs, and can run safely.  To make sure everyone is safe, each event starts with registering, determining what class your car should compete in, and then the tech inspection to ensure that the car is safe. Just some basic checks to make sure you have a helmet, nothing loose in the car that might get thrown around and hurt you, and to make sure the wheels are not going to fall off and the brakes work.

Beyond the car, you will need to wear a helmet, and if you don't have one then our South Carolina region of the Sports Car Club of America will loan you one.  Then about the only thing you need is a number on your car, and you can even do that with painters tape!  As long as you don't put  blue tape on your blue car, it's pretty simple.  Last year I upgraded my tape number to a simple magnetic sign that sticks on the side of the car.  Brian has gone one step further and had some vinyl graphics and his race number of 86 applied to the car full time. He wrote about that on the blog a few days ago HERE.

Speaking of numbers, my #77 will also be co-driven this weekend by my friend Andre, since he is coming out to Darlington to enter his first autocross. So that the officials can tell which of us is driving, we'll stick an extra number 1 in front of #77, so Andre will be driving the same car with #177.  If that's not confusing enough, I talked to the other two Fiat drivers that are entered, and it turns out that they have picked numbers 78 and 79. We'll see if we can get a photo of the three Italians together.

So far we have 56 drivers entered for Sunday, and I'm sure there will be more before the first car fires up two days from now.  The number 77 and 177 car will be in the Street category, and at last check there were 12 of us in our class.  With points awarded to the top 8 drivers as we kick off the season, I'm shooting for a top 5 finish.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Four days to go until the first points autocross of the year, so things are pretty exciting around the Nixon Motor Sports garage.  While Brian will be out of town visiting Chicago and miss this event, he will be driving in a two day EVO driving school in Charlotte the following weekend.  I'd say the smart money is on him coming back strong after that and blowing my doors in!

The week before an autocross it's fun to go on line and check out how many other drivers have pre-registered, scoping out the competition, and anticipating getting behind the wheel and going full tilt thru the course. With our South Carolina Region combining all Street classes into one big group this year, we'll both be competing against each other too.  As of right now there are a total of 11 entries in PAX, and I'm sure there will be more in the next few days, and a couple more folks will show up the day of the event.

Other than checking fluid levels and just maybe getting around to washing the car, I think I'm in pretty good shape for Sunday.  Will have to change tires some time, but that's not too hard to do with the light weight Fiat, because if you jack it up on the side near the front tire, the car is small enough that you can get both wheels on the same side up in the air at the same time. When you use floor jacks like I do, this cuts down on time about 50%!

For some reason my digital tire pressure gauge is having a bad hair day this month, so I'll have to check that out or just go with a regular one.  I know I just replaced the battery in this thing not long ago, so it shouldn't be dead yet, so who knows.

If you want to see current registration for this event, check out the link HERE

To sign up yourself, (on line registration closes at midnight this Friday night) go HERE

Friday, March 14, 2014

Car Branding

We've set our goals to improve our driving skill, but I can't help but want to also look the part.  Today I picked up and applied the few more pieces to the Miata's graphics package.  Big thanks again to Panic Motorsports for working with me to create and apply some of the vinyl in the midst of kicking off their own busy racing season.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bob's 2014 Autocross Goals

This is kind of strange to put my goals on paper, but here goes.

Win a million dollars.  Wait a minute, I'm not going to win any money at autocross, rats! Back to reality.

1. Compete in all the South Carolina Region events this year.   Last year was my first year, so I only entered 4 events for points, 1 other one in Novice class, and 1 other one that I drove Brian's car in a different class.  Driving in every event hopefully will result in more experience, more points, and naturally more fun!

2.  Finish each event safely, with no mechanical issues.  Whew, that sounds easy enough since my car is less than 2 years old, but still a good reminder to always check the fluids, brakes, wheels, tires, and etc. to make sure things work how they should.  At least it's much easier to see if the car is working OK than to make sure the driver's brain is properly engaged.

3.  Score points at each event.  With the combination of all eight Street categories into one this year, there will be a lot of competition. Last year sometimes we only had three people in GS, but this year it will be a lot more and tough to always score points.

4.  Most points for GS cars.  There you have it, that's my goal.  Last year I had the 2nd most points, so I pretty much have to crank it up a notch and shoot for 1st place in GS.

5.  Top 5 in Street.  This will be much harder than #4, just by the much larger number of cars that will be competing.  We had 28 entries at the non-points event a few weeks ago, and I was 5th there.  Over the entire season, I know there will be more drivers coming out to compete, and a lot of drivers that were faster than me last year, so this would be a pretty good accomplishment against tons of competition.

6.  Improve RAW and PAX places.  At each event, besides competing against our class, we also get to see our raw and adjusted times to ALL drivers regardless of class.  In our first event last year we were in the bottom 20% of the field, and gradually improved our skills and by the end of the year were managing to finish in the top 50% of the field, so this is a good way to really see where you stack up against everyone.  With some of our events having over 100 or even over 200 drivers, that's a pretty large pool of talent to go up against and see where you rate.

The first event will be on March 23rd, so we'll see how things go from here.

Stay tuned as we autocross once a month for the rest of the year!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bob's 2014 F1 Predictions

You've seen Brian's F1 predictions for 2014, so I guess I better set the record straight on how things will really finish this year! Before I dive in though, since it's March 12th, let's all sing Happy Birthday to Brian!

OK, now, predictions for F1..., right off the bat this is going to be really funny, because there are so many rule changes this year that no one knows how the season will turn out.  Just a few of the changes from last year include a smaller  engine size, the addition of turbo, lower fuel limit, change of energy recovery system, change of aerodynamic limits of wings, change of car body front nose sizes, and different tire compounds. Add to that a few rookie drivers, a few drivers that switched teams, a few new tracks (Austria and Russia), a bunch of team changes to key engineering personnel, new sponsors (look for the awesome Martini Williams team!), and the addition of drivers keeping their racing number (77 my favorite number will be on Valtteri Bottas' Williams), and you've got a lot of variables.

First off, for driver's championship, I'll point out that we have several former champs that should be in the running, so starting with Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, Jenson Button of McLaren, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, and both Kimi Raikkonen  and Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, I'm going to call it a dead heat, and the winner will be the team with the best car, something like this:

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
3. Felipe Massa (Williams).

I picked those three due to one thing: they all have the Mercedes engine, and after the 12 days of pre-season testing, it looks like Mercedes has the best engine all around.  Once in a while you get those seasons where one team has the best car and the best drivers, and they just totally dominate for a full year or more, and I'm saying that 2014 will be one of those years.

1. Ferrari
2. Williams
3. Mercedes
4. McLaren
5. Marussia
6. Sauber
7. Lotus
8. Force India
9. Red Bull
10. Caterham
11. Toro Rosso

My favorite team is Ferrari, and I have to put them first, especially with both drivers being former world champions.  Their engine did probably 2nd best in the testing laps, so that is why I also put Sauber and Marussia higher up in the standings. 

The first practice at the first race in Australia starts this Thursday night on NBC Sports Network, so we'll start seeing who can talk the talk and walk the walk when the cars fire up!  All the pre-season estimates and guessing will likely go right out the window and make for funny reading at the end of the season.  It's been fun playing the guessing game, but now it's time for reality.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Brian's 2014 Autocross Goals

As a whole at NMS we're always working to improve ourselves and a big part of that is setting goals.  Last season I set out with a goal to just try autocrossing once, and that quickly escalated into running as many events as I could.  Over in GS, there was a good chance for a class victory and that drove our #77 to a very close 2nd place finish for the season.  I was glad to be 4th overall and beat a few regulars a couple times, but I always want to do better.

This season, with the change from just class competition to an overall PAX competition among street-tire wearing street class cars, I'm hoping to finish in the top 5.  I'd like to finish at least 2nd in ES.

I'm disappointed to miss the first points event for the season while I'm on vacation this month, but I am really looking forward to the larger field of PAX competitors to keep me on my toes.  I love tough competition and I'm looking forward to another season of strong improvement from NMS.

From my perspective, I'd like to see NMS into the top 25% of PAX drivers in the SCR by the end of the season.

Here we go...2014!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Brian's 2014 F1 Predictions

Alrighty then...2014 F1 is only days away!  I'm getting pretty excited for the Thursday kickoff events for the season and the first practice in Australia.  With this year's massive rule changes and pre-season testing showing results all over the place, it should be a really exciting season with a lot of unknowns, but here's my prediction for how it'll all go down...

1. Mercedes
2. Ferrari
3. McLaren
4. Red Bull
5. Williams
6. Sauber
7. Marussia
8. Force India
9. Toro Rosso
10. Caterham
11. Lotus

1. Fernando Alonso
2. Lewis Hamilton
3. Nico Rosberg

My thinking here is Mercedes and Ferrari are going to really be duking it out all season. McLaren is going to be strong this year, but will not quite be up to the top two.  Red Bull is going to make a dramatic late-season comeback, and will be poised to dominate again for the next few years.  Williams is really strong and will be ahead of Red Bull up until the very end.  Sauber, Marussia, and Force India will all be battling out the mid-field and the occasional podiums.  I might be a little biased and overly-optimistic here for Marussia, but who cares, GO MARUSSIA!  Lotus is going to struggle with Caterham and they'll trade places but eventually sit at the bottom of the field.

The top 3 teams are going to trade a lot of podiums, though I can see reliability and the other usual factors coming in and we'll see a good number of other mid-range teams sharing the spotlight throughout the season.  I see a lot of potential with Mercedes building on a really strong team they had last season with Lewis and Nico. Fernando is going to do really well and I could probably pick Kimi to take a strong 4th.

Seb is going to come close behind, but it's going to be a building year for the Red Bulls.  Watch out for them next season again.  Williams will be bringing a lot of fight during the first part of the season, but Red Bull will turn it around for the second half and edge them out.  Sauber is going to stay strong with consistent points to hold that predicted position.

I have been watching Marussia steadily progress for the last few years and with the support of the Ferrari power units this year, I think they're really going to surprise a lot of people.  They've been consistent in making progress and they're keeping on their driver lineup, who I think made great progress for rookies last season.  I really admire the underdogs who do more with less and really work hard to build up the new drivers they've invested time in and continue to support their careers.

It's going to be really close in points between most of the teams in the bottom 2/3 of the field.  As much as I like to see Marussia making improvements and out-doing their main rivals, Caterham, I do really like Kamui Kobayashi and I really would love to see them pick up some points this season.

I've downloaded the NBC Sports Live Extra and Official F1 apps for my iPhone, so I'm set to catch all the details starting this weekend while I'm on vacation and the rest of the season.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

North American Motorsports Expo

Today we drove up the road to Charlotte for the final day of the 2014 North American Motorsports Expo, or MSX.  The MSX was basically a bunch of motor sport related exhibitors that are here at the same time as the Sports Car Club of America national convention.  If you've been to any kind of convention, no matter what kind of business you are in, you've seen a large convention hall filled with all the manufacturers and retailers that sell you the stuff you need to do business or enjoy a particular hobby.  That's what we saw earlier today, and everything was car related!

The SCCA convention and MSX also both had various guest speakers and educational classes, but to be honest we just wanted to check out what gear was on display!  There were various brake companies, racing fuel folks (Gulf is back!), and even these folks in the photo below from Crawford Composites ((LINK) that Brian talked to about their carbon fiber cars.  If you buy one of their spec racer cars, they'll throw in a carbon fiber Telecaster type guitar for free!  I picked up the guitar and it was ridiculously light weight!

One very impressive bit of technology we saw was the Braille car battery.  Batteries are not the most sexy part of a car, but what if you had a high performance battery that also cut 30 or more pounds of weight from your car?  That's what is so amazing about these little dudes!  One they had on display is the battery used in some F1 cars, and it weighs 1 pound!  They cost more than regular batteries, but if you're looking for high performance at low weight, check them out at their link HERE

The Mazdaspeed folks had this white car on display, fully prepped for racing, as well as a couple of simulators that were very popular with the crowd.

Overall it was fun to see some new stuff, pick up some literature from various places, and talk to other car nuts, so now we're getting much more fired up for autocross season.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Next Best Thing to Driving

What could be better than driving?  How about watching the pros do it from the comfort of your own home?

NASCAR is already in season, and next week the Formula 1 teams will kick it off in Australia.  Here at home we will be tuned in to NBC Sports Network (NBC Sports TV Schedule LINK) starting on Thursday March 13th to see not only the first practice, but also a few other F1 related shows.  Then if you like to stay up late (or not so late on the west coast) you can even catch practice 2 in the middle of the night.

F1 weekends typically have two practice sessions  on Friday (free practice 1, free practice 2), and then a practice session on Saturday.  Then also on Saturday are the three rounds of qualifying, which starts with all 22 drivers randomly trying to set their fastest lap.

After the first qualifying session, only the fastest 16 advance to Q2.  In the second qualifying round, you start all over again and the times from Q1 don't count!  Again, each qualifying session is random, and could have a period with either no cars on track, or even ALL cars at the same time trying to get that fast lap right at the end of the time limit for the session.

After Q2, only the top 10 drivers advance to the final session, throwing out all the previous times.  Fastest driver in Q3 will be on the pole position for the race, and in a great position to get a good start and take the lead right off the bat.

Sunday will then be just race day, so you might say that F1 really starts on Sunday March 16th.  With the live broadcast on NBCSN coming from Australia, you just might enjoy getting up in the middle of the night to watch live.  If that's not your thing, NBC usually re-broadcasts the race at a more reasonable time too.  And if you're smart enough to figure out how to record or DVR the races, then you're way ahead of me.

Here are the highlights on NBCSN next Thursday, times are Eastern, as long as you remember to change your clock THIS weekend.


8:30PM  Sebastian Vettel on Road and on Track
9:00PM  Countdown to F1
9:30PM  F1 Racing Australian Grand Prix Practice 1
11:00PM Road to Ferrari

1:30AM  F1 Racing Australian Grand Prix Practice 2

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Born to Drive

This week is the 7th of a 12 week training program to get ready for running my first half-marathon here in Columbia, SC on April 12th.  To be on the safe side, I went to a local running store this weekend to get fitted for some new shoes.  Two hour runs are long enough that I want to make sure I'm taking care of my feet, so an investment in good shoes seems well worth it.

"Brian, what's the deal?" you say, "Did you also cut out the floorboards of the Miata and plan to drive around Flintstones-style?  Why do we care about running?"

Running has been my main source of exercise and I've managed to shed almost 10 pounds in 2014 so far, which to me, is the cheapest way to take weight out of the car.  Also, while having my feet measured, I can now officially confirm my right foot is larger than my left.  SCIENTIFIC evidence I was born to drive.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Formula One Conspiracy or Brilliant Strategy?

This weekend concluded the pre-season testing for all of the F1 teams.  The first race will be on Sunday, March 16th from Melbourne, Australia.   The coverage of the pre-testing seems to suggest that Red Bull Racing (four-time constructors' champion), who have absolutely been dominating the sport in recent years is really struggling with reliability.  This is uncharacteristic of the team who regularly have mathematically won the season with a good number of races left on the calendar.

To help keep all the teams in the fight through to the end, this year they decided to implement a rule change where the last race of the season will count for double points.

I believe Red Bull is taking a rule change that was designed to make the competition more fair for their rivals and use it to their advantage to swoop in at the end of the season and catch up to win a fifth constructors' championship (and possibly Sebastian Vettel's fifth consecutive drivers' championship).  Here's my guess on their strategy:

RBR has built a car with superior performance right out of the gate, but in the pursuit of performance they had to sacrifice reliability.  They are betting that most teams will want to take the safe route and focus a little more on reliability and lose performance out of the gate.  This is a good bet with such a large rule change this year as we can probably expect to not see one clear team picking up all the points in the first few races.

RBR is going to use this time, while the points are more scattered amongst the various teams to build the reliability element into their car, knowing they have a huge opportunity to re-gain those lost early season points in the final race.

Brilliant.  Sacrifice reliability when you know others will struggle and design a car you know will have the out-right performance you need in the long run.  Other teams will struggle to alter their cars to try and add in the top end performance, which could prove more more challenging that just figuring out how to keep that already high-performance machine running consistently.

That's just my guess, but I'm dying to see how this season pans out.  I'm no technical expert but I really admire those guys that push the engineering and rule book RIGHT up to the limit.

If you'd really like to nerd-out with us, feel free to check out this excellent summary of the key rule changes for 2014 on the Formula One official website here.