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A Moment Of Silence

dale earnhardt

Green Bay Packers 31     Pittsburgh Steelers 25

I’ve very likely said this before, but I will say again. There is too much information and not enough knowledge. We are, for the most part, wallowing in a spew of information that despite the use of the word information, is hardly informative, especially when one takes into account the signal to noise ratio contained therein. It’s the greatest challenge we face as the years race on with, within us, and at some point, without us. Everybody with even the most modest of technology can fashion themselves up as a media critic, a journalist, or a commentator…you can’t even read the newspaper or other media outlet these days without an endless parade of nabobs weighing in at the end of a story. CNN, BBC, The Guardian, The Mirror, The Capitol Times, ESPN, NASCAR. In a sense, it might be all well and good because it has democratized journalism to a greater extent, and opened the world to the voices of the world….but it’s a big pendulum swing from the old print media days  when the only way to comment was to fire off a letter to the editor. ((I make the sound like it’s a long time again, when it was only yesterday I was reading a few of the aforesaid letters to the editor in the print version of The Isthmus)). And like all pendulum swings, the pendulum swings way too far in the other direction, giving either side a false illusion of reality.

I’m perhaps just as guilty of this as anyone, I suppose, since I ofttimes say that I’m never one to let the facts get in the way of the truth, but I honestly try very hard to glean and impart some knowledge from the overload of information out there. Also, it is very likely I’m abusing the word information here, since what I’m really on about here perhaps should be more accurately described as data….data that masquerades as information, knowledge and ultimately, analysis, which is man’s way of bringing meaning to the world around them.

Allow me to amend what I’ve been saying.

The is too much data, not enough information, and very little knowledge.

And perhaps the greatest mistake of all, and it is one that is made more and more every day, is to mistake analysis for knowledge, information, or data. Analysis is neither of those things and too often it has come to be taken as all of the those things, as the only thing. And instead of being enriched by analysis, we’ve become more and more impoverished….we’ve become more ignorant and more lazy and as a result we’ve almost turned the greatest of human pursuits, the search for knowledge and understanding of the universe, into one of it’s very worst.

I mentioned, in passing that the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl. I’m a lifelong Packer’s fan, and at the start of the season I called the shot ((as I always do, being a lifelong Packers fan)), and this time it went in from beyond the arc, nothing but net. My wife asked me the other days why I haven’t written about the Super Bowl. One of the reasons is that everybody else on the planet has that story covered…that’s also why I rarely write about the NFL. There is no real need for me to use the Green Bay Packers success this season to tell a tale of overcoming adversity against all odds….everybody else is covering that in abundance here in America. What I like to do a go for a story that does get as much coverage…cover sporting pursuits that get a bit less attention ((and I don’t imply here that NASCAR and the English Premier League are neglected by any stretch. ESPN’s website has some great coverage of NASCAR and motorsports by some great NASCAR writers like Ed Hinton, David Newton and Marty Smith. In fact, I’ve turning to ESPN for NASCAR info lately far more often than I’ve been going the, although my favourite NASCAR writer is’s Mark Aumann whose Retro Racing column is always interesting and insightful)). The other reason, I guess, is that it’s just going to take a little while to it took sink in, to seem like it’s real. And when it does, I will be the first to explain it, and y’all will be the first to know.

Meanwhile, let’s have a moment of silence…

Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Sr.   April 29, 1951 – February 18,2001

I remember exactly where I was when Dale Earnhardt was killed. I remember it as vividly as if it were just a few moments ago. For some reason that I day, I went to Gordie’s Bar on the corner of Iowa Ave. and Cora St. in St. Francis WI to watch the race. Gordie’s was not really a NASCAR bar (more on this in a moment), but it was someplace different to go….the race was on. So there I was when the race wound down to it’s final fateful lap. The came around turn 3 with Michael Waltrip, and Junior battling for the lead. Earnhardt was in third and appeared to be blocking for his son and Michael Waltrip. Although the patrons of the bar weren’t quite as excited as I was about the finish….Michael’s brother Darrell in his first season behind the mike at Fox was brimming with excitement. As they came around turn 4, there was a wreck…Marlin got into Earnhardt and he spun up into the wall as Michael and Junior took the checkered flag 1-2.

The wreck didn’t look like much. And moments after the exciting 1-2 finish for the DEI cars, the bartender at Gordie’s, at the request of several of the patrons, switched the TV to the NBA basketball game. I finished my beer, settled up, and left. It was a nice sunny day and I was pleased with the result….it was good to see Michael Waltrip win and Junior finishing 2nd made it a nice touch. So I decided to head over to the Port Of Hamburg for a little post-race celebration.

Now for some reason I still can’t quite understand to this day, the Port hadn’t had the race on, nor did anyone there seem to know what had transpired on the final lap. And as I sat there with my liter of PAULANER Salvator, the only leg-up I had on my drinking companions was that I knew Waltrip won the race, Junior was second, and Earnhardt had a wreck on the final lap that didn’t seem very serious. It was as if we were all sitting there in dreamland.

Around 6:15, 6:30…something like that, my buddy Jay Herriges showed up with tears in his eyes and shattered the dream with the words that still, to this day, makes me catch my heart in it’s hands, “Did you hear what happened to Dale Earnhardt?”

10 years later, the new Daytona 500 is about to begin…

You might have caught a glimpse of it if you had watched this past weekend’s Bud Shootout. You might a have even read a bit in passing about it, but honestly, if you didn’t watch the entire race, and see it with your own eyes, you can’t even begin to grasp the weirdness of what this year’s Daytona 500 will be all about. Never in the history of NASCAR has there ever been anything quite like this.

What I’m talking about, for those of you who’ve spent most of today (Tues 15 Feb as I write this sentence) in the boozer celebrating Tottenham’s 0-1 win over AC Milan in the Champions League, is the two car drafts and that dominated the Bud Shootout at Daytona. It was very strange and weird to see pairs of cars not only drafting together, but pairs of cars racing other pairs of cars. Two drivers in a symbiotic relationship for endless laps.

I was the oddest thing I’ve ever seen in NASCAR.

Pairs of drivers.

Symbiotic relationship.


It reminded me of something.

Regan Smith and Kurt Busch lead the final lap of 1st Gatorade Duel last Thursday

In 2006, Studio Deen produced a wonderful SF show called Simoun, It was broadcast in Japan from April-September of 2006 and it truly is a classic, must watch show. And as always, I will not let the facts get in truth’s oncoming  way here…you can summon the facts for yourself.

In Simoun, pairs of girls, most of whom are under the age of 17 and thus have not chosen their ultimate gender, drive airships called Simoun which are powered by two helical motors. In the Daytona 500, pairs of men, most whom are over the age of 21 (with the exception of Joey Logano) and for most part have no choice in their ultimate gender, drive cars powered by ethanol fueled 8 cylinder motors.

In both Simoun and the Daytona 500, one driver steers and the other provides back-up ((in Simoun, the back-up is navigation and guidance when creating Ri-majons, the magical formations that are used to attack the enemy; in NASCAR, the back-up pushes the driver car and creates a draft that increases the average speed by at least 5% which can allow the pair of men to vanquish their enemy ((in this case, the other pairs of cars, and betwixt the two of them, win the Daytona 500.)). The driver is in the Auriga position, the back-up in the Sagitta position.

In Simoun, Auriga and Sagitta always remain in sync, as one, until the sweet or bitter end. In NASCAR, the Auriga and Sagitta will switch roles during the race (since the paired drafting can overheat the engine of the Sagitta car) but will essentially remain paired until the final lap. Then, unlike in Simoun, Auriga and Sagitta will or can break apart and fend for themselves as separate entities.

Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth seal their deal.

In the Gatorade Duels on Thursday, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick paired up as Auriga and Sagitta. It was very good set-up, they were in sync and ran brightly together. It was as if the men and their machines were as one…..well, until Matt Kenseth’s spotter fucked up and forgot that Matt and That Lout were, like a pair of lovers, dancing together in the hallucinogenic roar of the engines. Unlike Simoun where the Sagitta provides all the navigational guidance, NASCAR is new to this, and little communications glitches will need to be fine tuned.

It’s not certain as of this writing on the day before the great American Race if Harvick and Kenseth will be Auriga and Sagitta again tomorrow. It’s  likely, but you never know. The same holds true with the other pairings from the Shootout and the Duels. Regan Smith and Kurt Busch seemed to synchronize very well, but….tomorrow might be another day. Also, in NASCAR unlike Simoun, pit-stops and maintenance breaks the Auriga/Sagitta connection. Pit-stops in the Daytona 500 will have a new twist this year as well.

The duels and the shootout, with their limited pits stops, really didn’t give the fueling system rules and the elimination of the catch-can man a real test. Only when the green flags drops tomorrow, will we see the first test of how this all will work.

The switch to ethanol this season means a whole new fueling system for the cars. The connection from the gas can to the fuel cell is entirely different and will take a bit of work; trial and error no doubt; to get pit-stop times back to where we’ve been used to seeing them. No catch-can man means one less crew-member over the wall…but this will not save the team the wages they paid the catch-can man since they’ll still need a fueling assistant on the other side of the wall to help the gas-man (or should we say ethanol-man). We can expect longer pit-stops and a few screw-ups to be sure. But I certainly will miss the hysterical comedy of a car toddling off pit toad with a catch-can still stuck in the tank. Nothing in NASCAR provides better comic relief than that, unless, of course, it’s YOUR favourite driver toddling off with the catch can stuck in his ass.

But getting back to men kissing men for a moment….pits stops will alter the Auriga/Sagitta relationship on the track. Aurigas and Sagittas will, or should, pit together ((but will they??)), and when they do, the Auriga will have to wait for the Sagitta so they can hook back up ((but can they??)) since they could very well be pitting on the opposite end of pit road from each other.

It will all make for a interesting and unusual Daytona 500….a race that will be very strange to behold.


I’m sure if Dale Earnhardt were still around to see the Daytona 500 tomorrow, he would call it the Gaytona 500. Pairs of men in a symbiotic relationship?? I’d wager ALL of mother-in-law’s money on that. I’m quite sure he would not like the look of it all that much…and he definitely would not be a good Sagitta.

And when the checkered flag drops, I’m really not sure who will stand tall in victory lane. It would be poetic justice, of sorts, if Junior or Michael Waltrip were to hold the Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 Trophy aloft. It would be fitting….more so if it were Junior. But truth and justice are ofttimes at odds with one another. So if not Junior, maybe Kurt Busch will do the impossible and take the checkers in the Auriga position and be the first driver in history win the Bud Shootout, the Gatorade Duels, and the Daytona 500 all in the same season. Stranger things have happened. And trust me, stranger things will.

But if any of you, tomorrow, during the 3rd lap of the Daytona 500, do not stand up, take off yer hat, shut yer facking mouth, and hold 3 fingers in the air in honour of Dale Earnhardt, I will not bother sending Ron Hornaday. I will personally come to your house myself and kick yer ass.


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