Header image

Author Archives: Amy

Sometimes publishers bring books to my attention or offer me a copy to review and other times when I am reviewing books it’s because I found a book that I had come across that fits with this column. This is the case with Start Your Engines by Jim Cangany.  I am not to proud or too embarrassed to say that while I read a lot of different genres (pretty much everything except SciFi/Fantasy because for some reason I just can’t get into those kind of books). This book falls into the romance genre which I have been reading a lot more of lately for whatever reason.

Start Your Engines by James Cangany

Start Your Engines is what would be called a second chance romance within the racing world. Ten years ago Brad Thomas and Gabrielle Marquez were friends who were just starting to explore the beginnings of a romance while also being fierce competitors on the track, when a crash killed a mutual best friend, and injured Brad bad enough that his career as a driver was over. Gabrielle left the United States to pursue driving in European series while the guilt that she caused the wreck that killed one and ruined a career ate at her.  Fast forward ten years and Brad Thomas is a race director for a smaller struggling team with a driver that just doesn’t seem to be working out.  When the owner of the team hires Gabrielle as a replacement driver will the two be able to work together for the sake of the team? And will the budding romance between the two rekindle?  Add in some possible sabotage into the book and you have the story. Will Gabrielle end up staying in the States or taking the offer of a lifetime in Europe to drive with an elite team?  You will have to read the book to find out what happens.  This isn’t a smutty romance- more along the sweet lines.  With some awesome racing action that I think drives the story along with it.  You will like this story if you are a racing fan, a sweet contemporary romance fan or both.  I enjoyed this story and I think you will too. It looks like this might be a first of a series of books- I can only hope that is the case because I would definitely be interested in reading more of these racing romances.

About The Author: Jim Cangany is a Hoosier through and through. He works in the legal field while looking for ideas for his next book.  You can find him online at JimCangany.Com or on Twitter @JimCangany.

For Full-Disclosure purposes (I am looking at you FTC):

I purchased my copy of Start Your Engines by Jim Cangany for Kindle- it was not provided to me by any entity. As with all my reviews on BadGroove, the words and opinions on this book are my own.

Click here for other installments of Amy’s #NASCAR Reading List

The Seventh Man

Posted by Amy in General | NASCAR - (0 Comments)

It seems that everywhere I look everyone is in a rage about Matt Kenseth being parked after the wreck towards the end of the Hollywood Casinos 400 at Kansas last weekend.  There seems to be much confusion over WHY did they park him when NASCAR seems to look the other way when other drivers seem to regularly have seven men over the wall during a pitstop and not get penalized.

I am going to say right here and right now- I totally agree with NASCAR’s call. Does it suck for Matt Kenseth? Hell yes. I am not saying that it doesn’t. I am not saying that I don’t like Matt Kenseth. When they showed the crew working on Matt Kenseth’s car I said WAIT I THINK I SEE SEVEN MEN over the wall.  I said this BEFORE they mentioned it on the national broadcast, before they put up the graphic where they super imposed a number over each crew member. The seventh man- whomever he was actually called attention to himself because he hesitated, sat back down on the wall and then decided to go back towards the car.  This hesitation is what drew my eye to him in the first place. It’s like he knew he wasn’t suppose to be over the wall but he just couldn’t help himself.

The thing that most people don’t seem to be understanding is that Matt Kenseth wasn’t making a pit stop at this point. He was pulling into his pit to repair crash damage, thus putting him and his team on the 5 minute clock.  When the cars come in for crash damage the rules clearly state that only 6 men can be over the wall at any one time to assist in the repair of the vehicle or the car is automatically done for the day. Why? They explained it on the national broadcast…because without this rule the crew chiefs could send 10 people over the wall to help fix the car and gladly take the penalty. They even stated on the national broadcast that this was a rule that the OWNERS asked for- not NASCAR. That was something I didn’t know.

A regular six person pit stop performed by Brad Keselowski’s crew at Kansas Speedway. (photo source: 352494Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

During a regular pit stop six members are allowed over the wall to service the car and teams CAN have a seventh man who comes across the wall to service the DRIVER. What that means is that the seventh man is there to pull a tear off, give water or ice to the driver, etc.  This is during a pit stop NOT during the 5 minute crash damage clock.  The penalty for too many men over the wall is end of the longest line or a pass through (I think).  Even IF Matt Kenseth had been performing a regular pitstop and not on the crash damage clock they would have at the least seen a penalty. Why? Because the seventh man wasn’t servicing the driver with a sawsall in his hand- which video clearly shows.

I do not understand why this is unclear. Matt Kenseth wasn’t on a regular pit stop he was on the crash damage clock. The seventh man over the wall wasn’t there to service the driver he clearly had a sawsall in his hand and when he decided to go to the can he went right to the wheel well- not to pull a tear off or give the driver water.  Yes it totally ruined his play off hopes and yes that sucks but there is the rule there for a reason. There is a clear difference between being on a pit stop and being on the playoff clock. I am sure the person who ruined the playoff hopes for his driver feels terrible. This is not a new rule- it was quite clear by crew chief Jason Radcliffe’s comments he understood the rule.  Play-off’s require everyone to be on the top of their game- and one person who either wasn’t paying attention or just really thought he could slide past the rule made a mistake and at this point in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series play-off’s mistakes mean mean the difference between making a cut off and falling below the cut.

Two races into the playoffs and I am just now making my predictions as to who will win the cup.

Speaking of the cup- surely by now you have seen the new trophy? I have seen and heard both positive and negative comments about the trophy. Personally I like it- I love the section at the top that at a glance to the non-NASCAR trained eye just looks like a random squirrelly design but is really comprised of the outline of the tracks. I LOVE that part of the trophy the most.  I have no problem with the new series sponsor making a new series trophy.

Back to my predictions though. I am going to say that Martin Truex Jr is going to win the championship. I feel that is pretty safe bet to take don’t you? He has all those championship stage win points to carry him through to the final four so unless he has a pretty disastrous stage two I do not see a “final four” in Homestead-Miami without Martin Truex Jr in it.  So since my bet on Martin Truex Jr is so safe- who should I say will be the other drivers he is up against in that last race? I would put my money on Kyle Busch for sure but who else? As much as I would love to see Ryan Blaney or Kasey Kahne or one of the other one win underdogs in the final four I think the other two drivers will be Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.

The Stewart-Haas Racing fan in me would love to see Harvick take home the cup but I really think that the Toyotas have something that the Fords just do not seem to have under the hood. Not sure what it is not being a technical person with my nose under the hood of either car but it is quite obvious to this race fan that there is something that is favoring the Toyotas this season while leaving the Chevys and Fords in the dust. I also wouldn’t mine seeing Kyle win the Championship- I have always liked Kyle as a driver. He’s got a certain something. And I wouldn’t mind seeing Jimmie Johnson win- if only to get that mythical championship number 8. You can say what you want about Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus and that Lowes 48 team but this is a legacy in the making.  (more…)

It’s not often I can tell you that I heard about a book from a racer. Books for this column come to me by various ways. Some are by authors I already love. Some books are ones that are recommended to me by friends who know I like to read and have a thing for motorsports books. Some are offered up by publishers or publishing companies who think that they are something I will enjoy and would like to review here on the Reading List. But then there are the ones I find on my own. This one can kind of be categorized like that. I follow racer Pippa Mann on Instagram (and twitter) because I love her positivity in her posts.  She posted a photo several months ago of a book called “Chasing Checkers” that she was reading poolside and I admit that I was curious about the novel especially when the last name of the author caught my eye so I decided to look it up on Amazon. After reading the synopsis I one-clicked it immediately however I didn’t get to read it until last week. I figured at the least it would provide good fodder for the Reading List. But I am pleased to say that I am excited to bring you the review of this book.

Chasing Checkers by Christopher Hinchcliffe is a young adult novel that tells us the story of Teddy “Chex” Clark- a teen who has been racing since he was 7 years old. Teddy has always dreamed of being a racer. The book details young Teddy’s racing career in GoKarts, through a racing school series, to what will be the biggest race of his career. A race that brings with it the opportunity of a seat in the series the next year and purse money that would make paying for races much easier for Teddy and his family.  However just like real life, it’s not all about racing.  Teddy is faced having to deal with life beyond racing while staying focused on the task at hand. Teddy learns to deal not just with issues that race up in the cockpit but out of the cockpit as he balances expectations, family drama, and friends (old and new) along with his chosen passion of racing. All while learning the ins and outs of new car and a more competitive series than he’s ever been in before.

Readers don’t need to have motorsports knowledge to enjoy this book. It’s definitely an easy read for an adult and would likely be appropriate for children ready to jump from beginning chapter books to regular chapter books. The language is pretty easy and would probably work for newish chapter book readers. As an adult I enjoyed this novel and hope that we will hear more about Teddy. I recommend this book for young and old race fans who want a good novel about a young driver working his way through the motorsports world.

About the author: Christopher Hinchcliffe is a Canadian author from Ontario Canada who teaches legal and political philosophy on the side. He also happens to be the brother of INDYCAR driver James Hinchcliffe. You can find out more about him on his website: ChasingCheckersBook.com or twitter handle @CMHinchcliffe.

For Full-Disclosure purposes (I am looking at you FTC):

I purchased my copy of Chasing Checkers for Kindle- it was not provided to me by any entity. As with all my reviews on BadGroove, the words and opinions on this book are my own.

Click here for other installments of Amy’s #NASCAR Reading List

(Photo source:Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Unfortunately when things go busy for me in the real world blogging here can suffer.  Doesn’t mean I am not paying attention to what is going on in the NASCAR world- it just means that I have trouble getting time to write it all down.  I have been suspiciously absent for a month- but I haven’t missed a race. I just missed writing about them. I am back and I am going to use this post as a catch all for some things I have been wanting to write about but haven’t yet had the time. So here is a list of things I have been wanting to discuss: (more…)

(photo source: Zimbio.com/Sarah Crabill/Getty Images North America)

The race at Michigan was just that- a race. There wasn’t anything too exciting about said race other than the debris caution thrown towards the end of the race. Martin Truex Jr added to his collection of segment wins collecting two of them during the race’s first two segments, however it was Kyle Larson, who was as Mike Joy ironically pointed out during the national broadcast, was driving a Cars 3 inspired paint scheme and firesuit who won…on opening weekend of a movie that was number one in the box office.  For me personally the race was just an eh on the excitement meter but as a long time race fan I know that these things just work out that way sometimes.

Drivers that disappointed: Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne

Drivers that impressed: Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliot, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

However, what I am more drawn to writing about this week is something that was brought to my attention actually via IRL and now Sportscar driver Pippa Mann. For those who aren’t familiar with Pippa- she is a British open-wheel driver who started in karts in Europe and worked her way up through the open wheel ranks in Europe before moving to the United States in 2009 to race Indy Lights and then transitioned to IndyCar in 2011. She is currently the fastest female driver on record at Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 230.1 mph set this year during May’s “Fast Friday” precursor to the Indy 500. This year she is also making her debut into American Sportscar Racing driving with Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor racing. If you have followed my Amy’s NASCAR Reading list posts you might remember me mentioning author Tammy Kaehler and the Kate Reilly Racing Mystery series- Pippa Mann provides Tammy with the technical/research assistance needed to write a series from the view point of a driver without being a driver.

(Photo source: Zimbio.com/Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images North America)

Anyway, I enjoy following Pippa on social media and it was through that that I found out that there is talk in Europe about creating a female-only racing series to give “girls” a place to race instead of with the young men. Pippa wrote a brilliant post about it on her blog- that I just want to highly suggest you read called The Handmaid’s Racing Series.  The points she makes are spot on in her post but there is one specifically that caught my attention and I will point that out to you here by paraphrasing the last couple of sentences in Pippa’s blog post. Why would you want to strip away the ability for females to compete in one of the few sports out there in which women and men can complete against each other equally, instead setting up a special “sideshow series for girls only” as Pippa so eloquently called it? Honestly the whole idea of it kind of insults me as a female motorsports fan.  I want to watch all drivers compete in the same series with the same opportunities for sponsorships and support.

(photo source: Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Over the last several years the cup series in NASCAR has suffered as some of the elite drivers retire or just disappear (Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle) and for me the excitement behind NASCAR started to wane significantly – especially since “my” driver retired last year.  This year the writing of the posts don’t come organically as they use to when I always had a horse in the race, a dog in the show, however you want to term it.  Sometimes I struggle for what I want to write about and I am sure that it shows in my posts. However that is not the case this week. This week after the race I sat down with my notepad and it flowed naturally like it use to. Why? Because I was excited with that race in Pocono- which is slightly odd because if you go through my archives  I refer to this track as evil on multiple occasions.

Why was I excited by Pocono? How could you not be?  You had a pole sitter who lead a hundred laps or so and won a segment in Kyle Busch. You had Kyle Larson who had been strong all day win a segment. You had a seven-time champion and most recent race winner suffer a brake failure and slam the outside wall quite hard while another Chevy driver suffered a simultaneous brake failure a few seconds later and end up catching fire near the inside wall and had to jump out of the car before safety crews arrive. This fire caused a red flag.  You had mother nature heating up the track and the drivers. You had at least drivers with shifting problems- which caused the most popular driver in NASCAR to go home early.  You had a first time cup series driver get nailed for speeding twice during the same pit stop sequence. Oh and don’t forget one of NASCAR’s most prominent teams had three of their four drivers suffer incidents causing them to be unable to continue. Oh and that doesn’t even take into account that finish and boy howdy was that a finish.

(Photo Source: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

So let’s talk about that finish: First Ryan Blaney has to fight to pass Kyle Busch. And everyone knows Kyle Busch isn’t going to be easy to get around nor should he be. Kyle fights to retain his position hard including some incredible blocking from the inside up to the wall.  But Ryan Blaney eventually is able to get his nose underneath Kyle and get by him.  But then you have Kevin Harvick- who is also known to be one of the best at wrapping up a race.  Darrell Waltrip doesn’t call Harvick “the Closer” for no reason afterall. So Blaney now has to keep Harvick behind him, awhile continuing to drive a flawless race because you know that the minute Ryan Blaney so much as wiggles Harvick will get by him. But alas Blaney was able to hold off Kevin Harvick and take the checkers. So that was a great ending. But what I left out- is that Ryan Blaney did all this with out being able to communicate on the radio with his team. While he could here them- they couldn’t hear him and had to result to hand signals to let them know what kind of issues he was having. And the best part of all? Was that during the pre-race show Chris Myers asked Jeff Gordon and Darrell Waltrip if he would win this year and they both said NO!! HA!

This wasn’t a fluke and it was just a matter of time before Blaney won. However he was not alone! The younger drivers all really flaunted their stuff during the race at Pocono. I mean look at these finishes: Ryan Blaney (winner). Erik Jones (3rd), Chase Elliott (8th). I mean it- the young guns are coming.

Drivers that impressed (besides winner Ryan Blaney): Erik Jones, Chase Elliott

Drivers that disappointed: Clint Bowyer, Danica Patrick

 

(photo source: Zimbio.com/Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images North America)

They don’t call Dover International Raceway the Monster Mile for nothing… and Sunday provided the NASCAR Monster Energy Series with quite the challenges.  The concrete mile presents its own unique set of racing issues…and it always has. Have you seen the trophy? It’s of the concrete monster mascot, Miles.  (more…)