The Byron Bet

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I wish I had gone to a university that sponsored a NASCAR team.

After Jeff Gordon departed from NASCAR, the number 24 car was left open in the Rick Hendrick stable. While Chase Elliott was chosen to fill that seat immediately, everyone knew Chase would go on to pilot the 9, like his dad, so everyone wondered who would eventually take the wheel of the 24. When the dust settled and the ink dried, William Byron, at the age of 20, was going to be driving the iconic number 24 Chevrolet Camaro.

Now, after 2 years, he has no wins, only 22 top 10 finishes, and 5 poles. Sadly, he has not been all that successful even though he has Chad Knaus as his crew chief. Chad helped another driver at Hendrick, Jimmie Johnson, win seven championships. William has the best racing equipment money can buy with one of the best crew chiefs and yet he can’t seem to put it all together to get the car to victory lane.

William reminds me of the third Cars movie. He is very good at virtual racing and training on simulators. We saw during the hiatus that he is clearly good at iRacing. He won twice during the break for the pandemic. But, he isn’t quite like the Cars movie in regard to the digital talent translating to the real-life track. Maybe he should simply stick to virtual racing? NASCAR might be branching off in that direction someday sooner rather than later, and he could be a star that transitions from real life to virtual.

I don’t want to speak ill of him though. He might simply be in a situation like Joey Lagano was. Even though Joey had top tier equipment at JGR in his first few years, he certainly wasn’t showing the results of having it. Once he moved to Penske, he has won numerous times and even has a championship to his name. Could Byron still be getting his legs in the sport, and need to move to a different team to experience success? Only time will tell with that. but I do think that this might be the case. I think he still needs time and potentially a new team or manufacturer in order to start experiencing success. That is what I am betting on. The real question will be if he will ever leave Hendrick?

Lastly, but more of a side note. Byron attends Liberty University, that also sponsors him. I wonder if he pays tuition? I am also somewhat jealous because I went to Regent University, a rival to Liberty. Regent is not anywhere near Liberty in regard to campus size, student population, sports, or anything else, except maybe the televangelists that founded each of them, and they are both in Virginia. I would have loved to have gone to a school that sponsored a NASCAR team, even if it was a non-winning driver.

Did Kyle Really Wreck Chase?

Last Wednesday we saw towards the end of the race at Darlington, Kyle Busch slide up and bump the left rear of Chase Elliott causing him to slide into the inside wall and take him out of the race. That has since exploded into the headlines and has caused quite a stir among fans and non fans alike.

It is understandable that Chase was not a happy camper. Kyle claimed it was a mistake on his end. Even though he owned up to it, it didn’t make Chase or his crew chief feel much better. Many people believe Kyle intentionally wrecked Chase. While I am a fan of Kyle, and I’m not going to defend him exactly, I want to look at the situation and point out a few things

First, no matter how professional someone is, they are human and can still and do make mistakes.

Second, it has been a while since they have been in the cars. They have been doing iRacing, which is vastly different than real life.

Thirdly, the spotters are not in their normal positions. If you’ve ever stood in the top row at one of the tracks, it’s very hard to see the front stretch when the cars are up against the wall. Considering that is where the incident occurred, it makes sense the spotters might not have been much help there.

Fourth and lastly, really look and watch the footage. If you watch, when Chase and Denny pass Kyle who goes to the inside in/off turn four, they are bumper to bumper and cruising. Since Chase was so close to Denny coming off turn four, then as they went down the front stretch, Chase does not seem to stay connected to Denny. He slows down and begins to put a full car length gap in between them. At that point I think Kyle is mirror driving to make sure Kevin Harvick is not coming up too fast to prevent him from going up and getting in line. The problem really is that it seems that the entire top line slows down at the same pace. Kyle continues the pace he was holding and simply moved up into a gap he thought was there. You might see it differently, but I have simply shared my view and opinion of the situation.

Look closely at the shadow gap between Denny and Chase. It gets much larger as it goes down the front stretch.

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I find it interesting that probably the most controversial drivers, Kyle Busch, has created a huge ripple with the sports most popular driver, Chase Elliott. It makes for great entertainment and a YouTuber that I follow, David Land, sums it up well in his video. I’m so glad NASCAR is back and this situation, regardless of which side you are on, has elevated the sport into everyday conversation. That type of marketing is priceless.

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You can’t quite see Chase’s left headlight.
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Now you can see the left headlight. Kyle is now moving up.
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Look at the gap! That is a whole car length behind Denny.

Let me know below what you think.

Buffet of Topics for Today

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I didn’t get this post done ahead of time or scheduled on my regular Thursday at 10 time, but that is ok. There are a lot of topics I would like to cover quickly in the blog. Some are new thoughts and some are follow ups so hopefully you enjoy.

A week or so ago was Ford week on the blog, at least that is what each topic was about that week. Since the blog about the Ford Bronco, Ford has announced that they will not debut the Bronco until 2021. That is painful. I am tired of all these car companies “jumping the shark.” Make the car and we will give you money. That is not a hard equation. Side note to the Ford topic as well, my wife and I still haven’t filled out our paper work to get $20 for our Ford Focus issues. Maybe I should get on that.

Next up, NASCAR is BACK! It has been a little different than normal. No fans are in the stands, not even the announcers are present at the track. There is very limited crew and drivers must wear masks when not in the car. Last night Kyle Busch (my favorite driver) caused a bit of anger filled drama when he bumped Chase Elliott causing Chase to wreck. I am not going to defend Kyle, I am simply going to say, it really does look like he was driving by his mirror. Ryan Newman is back in the car after his crash at Daytona. Matt Kenseth has replaced Kyle Larson in the number 42 after Larson said a bad word during iRacing. I am excited for the next race at Charlotte this weekend.

I am finally getting back to Hot Wheel hunting and have been thrilled to find some really nice stuff on the pegs. I am hopefully going to be making videos of all the find that I have acquired, so keep tuned to the All Out Octane YouTube channel for the latest Hot Wheel and Matchbox finds! Both the blue and orange brands have some amazing cars coming out this year, along with great recolors of old cars, and it is nice to be able to share them with all of you!

 

*For fun- Comment below, would rather have a 2020 Chevy Camaro, a 2020 Ford Mustang, or a 2020 Dodge Challenger?

Automotive Literature

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It was during a study hall my junior year of high school that a huge aspect of my automotive passion grew into something far larger than just being a kid who liked cars. I wanted to do something with that passion. The pivotal moment was seeing the January 2007 Automobile magazine with the Nissan GT-R concept on the cover. After picking it up and soaking in every bit of information about that car, along with all of Ezra Dyer and Jean Jennings article, I made up my mind. I wanted to be an automotive journalist.

Upon going into my senior year, I took all the journalism classes in high school I could. I was late to the party on most, being that many were designed to be taken as a freshman so you could write for the school paper by your senior year. So, I didn’t get to do that. But every class assignment I wrote was car related some how.

I wasn’t keen on going to college but my parents wanted me to, so I went. I was accepted into Regent University, the first and only college I applied for. They didn’t have a journalism program for undergrad when I arrived, but by my sophomore year a bachelors journalism program was created and I immediately declared that my major. All throughout college I wrote about cars for every assignment that was students choice to write about. The school had no newspaper, and was pioneering the digital media segment. I wasn’t on any of those teams or classes, so there was not a lot of potential from my school to really get a solid foundation towards a career in journalism.

Even though the internet was becoming a large source for up to date automotive content, automotive magazines were some of my favorite things to get information from. It was also a lot of fun to get things in the mail. Plus they could be had for so cheap, that even as a college kid, I could afford them. Automobile, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Motor Trend, and Hot Rod, showed up on my doorstep faithfully every month. Flipping through the pages, seeing the wonderful images of cars in hand, smelling the paper that was freshly printed, it was wonderful.

Sadly, I never took the necessary steps to get into the automotive community. My passion was still primarily a dream. I didn’t own a cool car, I never applied for internships (the economy was really sucky from 07-11 while I was in college), and sadly, I didn’t utilize the internet to my advantage. I blame myself for a lot of missed opportunities and not working hard enough to become an automotive journalist. I never really believed in myself to achieve my dream.

Regardless of what happened in the past, automotive literature has kept my spark alive. I was able to write for Barn Finds for a while, which was an awesome opportunity. Now, I am taking my automotive passion and actually applying myself. These blogs will hopefully keep coming. I appreciate all of you who read them.

Kyle Larson-NASCAR-and BAD words

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Breaking over the weekend is the news that Kyle Larson, driver of the number 42 Chevrolet Camaro for Chip Ganassi Racing, has recently been suspended indefinitely, without pay, for using a racial slur in an iRacing event on Sunday evening.

I do not support cursing, vulgar, or derogatory language. That is uncalled for and shouldn’t be used in any circumstances. While I don’t support that or do that, I know that race car drivers, under pressure tend to spout things off. Radioactive clips have lots of bleeps. If you go to a race, you can hear many things live on scanners between drivers and crew. While, they might use specific words that Kyle used, they still use foul language. When is NASCAR going to start holding the drivers accountable for what is said on their radios during a race? Clearly it matters to them when words are said outside of their jurisdiction. Maybe they should work on cleaning up their own mess? Again, I do not support what Kyle said. I am just trying to state that the issue at hand is in NASCAR already, it just has been emphasized by this circumstance.

NASCAR has their driver for diversity program and it doesn’t look good for them and their image when the two most current drivers in the news are ones that NASCAR is trying to increase the amount of and appeal to fan based wise. Then there is the whole is this a video game or not debate. Maybe we just need to get back to real racing as soon as possible because it seems like iRacing is hurting NASCAR more than helping. We won’t have a whole lot of drivers or sponsors left, regardless of the worldwide pandemic issues that are already making things difficult.

The small, sad ending to all of this is that, it is said that Kyle didn’t even know he was invited to the race on Sunday and he wasn’t quite sure if he was going to even attend the race. He said he was most likely going to be spending time with family. At this point, I am pretty sure he wishes he had just stuck to family instead of getting on to go race.

The 411 of the 944

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Being an automotive enthusiast, I know I should have some crazy obsession with Porsche, but I have never found them to be appealing. It is not that I dislike them, and no, I have not driven one. Their styling has never caught my eye and I tend to like things that everyone else doesn’t. Porsche doesn’t fit that mold. I have sat in a few. My 6’4″ height makes the ergonomics of the ones I’ve sat in less comfortable than a shorter person might find.

However, there is one Porsche that I have always had a fascination with ever since high school, and that was back in 2007. That Porsche is a 944. It has not always had the love and admiration as other models. The front-engine layout does not give it the performance capabilities that the most iconic Porsche cars have either. Those are exactly the qualities that drew me to it. That and the price, especially over 13 years ago. Although, I couldn’t afford one then and sadly, I can’t yet now either, even though I  wish I could. It would be a good investment and a great car, especially and entry Porsche, to drive.

Now, in 2020, the 944 is becoming a star. The prices are going up, the popularity is increasing, and it is finally becoming a Porsche that people appreciate. One of the coolest ways to acquire one at the moment without breaking the bank is by buying the new casting for 2020 by Hot Wheels. I currently have one in red, which is the launch color for the casting and a gold one is on the way. While it would be nice to own one in real life, I can at least be satisfied in this one for the time being.

Weighing In

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After watching the Netflix documentary Formula 1 Drive To Survive, I became a casual fan of Esteban Ocon. Wanting to learn more about him, I did some Googling and found out that he isn’t in a car for the 2019 season, and that he is apparently going to “transform” himself to try to get a ride for next year. This had me perplexed, so I kept digging.

The reported issue is that Esteban needs to work on his physical attributes, specifically his weight, in order to better his chances of achieving a full-time driver position. According to the 2019 Formula 1 rules package, the car with the driver must weigh in at 740kg, or roughly 1,631 pounds. Then, separately, the car must weigh in at 660kg  (1,455 lbs) allowing a driver to weigh anywhere up to 80kg (176 lbs). Any less than 80kg and the teams can put in ballast weight to bring the car to full combined mass.
*Moving forward height and weight will be in inches and pounds.

Esteban is the tallest driver in Formula 1 at 6’1″ and weighs in at 145 lbs. According to BMI charts, that is underweight. While it is safe to consider Formula 1 drivers to be some of the most physically fit athletes in the world, defining personal physical health and safety has to be left respectively up to the individual. The fact that Esteban might have to cut more weight (he has already done so before the 2017 season) in order to compete against the other drivers, might be a hard thing for fans to watch.

I can relate to Esteban. I am 6’4″ and currently 233 lbs. Three years ago, I weighed in at 180 lbs, and personally, felt I was at a physical peak. Yet, many people thought I looked too thin and not healthy. Surprisingly, for my height and weight at the time, I was smack in the middle of a healthy zone according to BMI charts. Now, at 233 lbs, my BMI is considered overweight and my body reminds me often that physical tasks are not as easy as they once were. Yet, people tell me I look healthy and I don’t look overweight.

Everyone is different and physical fitness is something that only each individual person can determine, but the scientific generalities are a good start though to get everyone in sync with how to determine and define physical fitness. I support BMI charts and eating healthy and exercising. Hopefully, those general tools can be interpreted and understood better by all, in order to understand each person’s best physical fitness.

 

 

What to do about NASCAR

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NASCAR is a subject that could fill endless blog posts. As a long time invested fan, I, just like all other fans, have opinions on what to do about NASCAR. The 2019 season has been a roller coaster according to some fans, but I do not think that. I have enjoyed the start of the 2019 season. To me, I appreciate and respect the sport enough to cherish that it is still happening. I’d rather have some NASCAR than no NASCAR. With that said, below are some things in no particular order that I think would bring more life to the sport.

  • Reduce the cost of the sport
    • Millions of dollars are spent by the teams to get their car to victory lane. Yet, the cars are not much faster than they were over two decades ago. While safety should always be invested in, a racecar that does not exceed any milestone that a previous one could (in many cases NASCAR is making the cars less powerful than older cars) that it seems silly to be spending more on them.
    • Sponsorship is getting harder to come by because it doesn’t always give a return on investment. If the cost is reduced, it opens up the possibility for both large and small sponsors to take a chance at advertising more.
  • Add charters and allow any manufacturer
    • Allowing more manufacturers to get into the sport would provide some healthy competition.
  • Shorten the schedule and add new tracks
    • Diehard fans don’t just happen, they have to be made. Go to new places to get new fans.
  • Try to get away from cable deals
    • This one hits close to me. Growing up my family did not have cable. We were able to watch races using the antenna. As a young adult who is budget conscious, I still do not have cable and still watch the races using an antenna. I think that more people would watch NASCAR if it were more available to them on non-cable channels and that with a shorter season, it would be more appealing to newer audiences.
  • If you don’t qualify, you start from pit road
    • It should be if you don’t qualify you go home, but this is the next best thing.
  • Make the cars resemble more closely consumer roadworthy cars
    • Viewers, especially new ones, might be more inclined to want to “buy on Monday” if the cars resembled more what they could actually purchase.
    • I think NASCAR should mandate that in order to compete with a particular model of a car, manufacturers would have to produce at least 20 street legal versions of the car. This would mimic the rules the FIA implemented in the late 90’s for their GT cars. If Toyota wanted to race the Camry, there would have to be 20 V8, rear wheel drive, roll cage equipped, no back seats, street legal Camry’s on the road. This will start to help put the “Stock” back in the acronym. It would also start to produce a bunch of highly sought after collector vehicles which spurs interest in both racing and in the general consumer market
  • Create an easy to explain point system
    • It is getting easier, but if I can’t explain it to my wife in less than a minute, then it is still too hard. Racing should be very simple, you cross the line first you win. If points are needed then it should be simple to explain and calculate by an average, casual viewer/fan.
  • Have a digital connection element
    • In today’s digital age, younger potential fans are looking at screens. In order to engage them, some sort of digital element should be implemented. Whether that is some sort of driver digital ranking gets an extra point at the end of the race, or gets an extra lap back, something that fans can be on their phones and directly affect some sort of aspect about the race. (Think about those power boosters on arcade games. Drivers get a “boost of speed” from the viewers.)

I could go on and on about NASCAR and I might have more in-depth blogs later about the specific subjects highlighted in this post. If you want to hear more NASCAR talk, listen to Undisputed, hosted by myself and my friend Clay. It is a weekly show that recaps the latest race, comments on any of the latest news, and making picks for driver positions in the upcoming race. If you love NASCAR as much as we do, you will enjoy the show.

Jimmie Johnson’s Freaky Fast Forthcoming

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NASCAR has been a sore subject for many people in the last few years. While I have not been thrilled at every moment, I have not been disappointed. My approach and interest in the sport is far deeper and greater than the product produced on Sundays. For instance, the case of Jimmie Johnson.

Jimmie is a 7-time NASCAR champion that has won in many of the variables of point systems in the sport. His primary sponsorship for the last 18 years, his entire NASCAR career, has been Lowe’s. He has been with Hendrick Motorsports and has driven a Chevrolet his entire career. He has had a steadfast and loyal career for both he and all parties surrounding him.

However, earlier this year, news leaked that shocked the sport. Lowe’s would be ending their sponsorship of the number 48 car driven by Johnson. As if that has not been difficult enough to dwell on, Jimmie has not won a race yet this season and is currently 12th in points. This year has also shown the potential strain of having two rookie team mates to teach as well. His third team mate is only in his second year. There is not much experience to go by and all three might rely heavily on Jimmie’s experience, leaving no one for Jimmie to sharpen against. Lastly, for the 2018 season, Chevrolet introduced the Camaro body to replace the SS body. It is an amazing looking vehicle, but any new body style means new aerodynamics and handling. Jimmie and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, have been re-writing the notebook this year in almost every way, instead of referring to the notebook.

I will admit, I have not always been a fan of Jimmie. I used to think all he did was win and I used to prefer the rival sponsor Home Depot to his sponsor Lowe’s. For me, shopping weighs heavily on “which NASCAR team am I sponsoring when I buy here?” However, time has changed my view. I have grown to respect and appreciate Jimmie. He is a true champion. He is humble and calm and has not let success go to his head. He has statistics that rival or better drivers such as Richard Petty or Dale Earnhardt. Only this year have I really understood just how much Jimmie has done. I have incredible respect for him. He might not have the public’s or the fans’ true favor as the hall of fame company he has hard fought and rightfully gained status with. That to me is quite baffling.

All of that has me concerned that Jimmie might end up the way Matt Kenseth found himself at the end of the 2017 season. Matt was left with no sponsor, no ride, and not retired. He was simply left, in essence, jobless. While one can speculate as to how and why that happened for Matt, doesn’t it seem at all possible to speculate the same could happen to a 7-time champion? No sponsor at the end of the season, no wins yet currently in the season, 18 years in the sport, the oldest of the team, no experience to draw from, and a newer car that needs time to be dialed in, could be the recipe for a champions swift end in the sport. I am really hoping that is not the case.

Side note. My wife always asks me “Why doesn’t Jimmie Johnson drive the Jimmy John’s car?” There might be hope yet.

 

Automotive Thoughts and Topics 2

In the diecast part of my automotive passion, I have a follow up on the black and gold series of Hot Heels I mentioned in my last vlog/blog. There have been two pictures of two cars that have been displayed and they are nothing like how I imagined them looking. The 67 Camaro I predicted was not one of the cars. While I still don’t know if it will be, based on the color schemes of the cars that debuted, I am leaning towards a no. See for yourself below.

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In the real automotive world, I took a trip  a few weekends to my wife’s parents home in Maryland. My wife was a bridesmaid and because she had to be with the wedding party all day before the wedding, I spent time with her family. Her dad took me to see a friend of his who has a 1963 Ford Galaxie. He told me the story of the Tasca Ford badge he had on the car. I was not familiar with Tasca before, but the story he told me about their tuning of Ford vehicles had me riveted. I looked then up further when I got home and I was fascinated at their legacy and story. If I had a Ford product, (someday I will get my wife her dream car, a red convertible Mustang) I would certainly consider having Tasca tune it. If you are not familiar with them you can check out Tasca here.

If you have not heard, there is a very big scandal being exposed in the steel industry. A Japanese steel manufacturer and supplier, Kobe Steel, has been discovered to have lied about its steels strength. This could have catastrophic effects on the safety of automobiles, planes, and other people moving things. What I find fascinating about the whole situation is that this is really as common now as it ever has been. In my time on this planet I have seen the Firestone tire scandal, the Takata air bag scandal, the VW diesel scandal, and a host of others that just are not at the top of my mind. All that to say, eventually, it will all be in the history books and show up on lists like this in another 10 years.

Lastly, and this topic is actually the one I am most opinionated about this week, is the sponsorship of the Number 24 car in NASCAR for the 2018 season with William Byron behind the wheel. That sponsor is Liberty University. I am excited for the rookie driver to take his skills to the Monster Energy series. I have nothing against William, Hendrick, or Chevrolet (how about those Camaro’s for 2018?). I actually don’t have anything against Liberty University either. It is a great school. My cousin graduated from there and I have known many people who have attended and graduated.

The truth is that I am a bit sore, maybe jealous, that they are sponsoring a NASCAR team. You see, I attended Regent University. It is known to those who are familiar with either of these universities, or the culture that surrounds them, that Regent and Liberty are rivals. In recent years, Liberty has been leaving Regent in the dust in just about every way from a collegiate standpoint. Beyond academia, their promoting power is extensive, and it became very real to me when they are going to be a full time sponsor for a NASCAR team in the highest series. I am not sure of the complete budget, but based on this article here, in 2013, a primary sponsorship could cost anywhere from $5 million to $35 million. An associate sponsorship is anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million. That was in 2013. That means, Liberty University is shelling out, at minimum of $250,000. To be honest, we all know that it is MUCH higher than that. Liberty is sponsoring one of the most iconic numbers with one of the most successful teams, with one of the brightest rookie drivers in the sport.

The fact that Liberty has that much money in their advertising budget, or any budget, is INCREDIBLE. They must be doing incredibly well. My alma mater can barely house their student population, they have no cafeteria, no gym for their newly formed soccer team to train in, or really any other facility to provide for all the things on campus students need. To build those, Regent has to have money. Regent can barely provide for the needs of students and here Liberty is able to sponsor a NASCAR team. Gosh…I wish I could say the college I went to sponsors a NASCAR team. I so wish I could. Oh well. I will be rooting for William in the number 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro. I will be rooting for him to win and to have as much success as he can. I want him to win because the whole story situation is just awesome.

It is like any other rivalry, where you have someone in your camp, that really isn’t for your side at all. It is comparable to living in either Ohio or Michigan and rooting for the opposite states college football team. I will gladly root for Regents rival in NASCAR, because I like NASCAR. But I will NEVER root for the team up north. Go Bucks!