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Author Archives: Amy

Now that the dust has settled on the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series I wanted to take a stab at explaining just why many Smoke fans including myself feel that Tony wasn’t given the farewell season he deserved.

(photo source: @StewartHaasRcng Twitter account)

When Tony announced his “retirement” (and I use that term loosely because I am sure that he will race more this year than he did last year) he made it absolutely clear that he did not want the rigmarole that Jeff Gordon was given week in and week out. He didn’t want to be drug into the media center every weekend and presented with gifts ranging from the thoughtful to the truly bizarre (not that he escaped that- since he got a bigger than life-size bobble head of himself from Texas Motor Speedway). All Tony wanted to do in his last season is what Tony has wanted to do since he got behind the steering wheel of his first goKart- he wanted to buckle in and race. And for the most part that is what he got.

His fans, however, voiced their discontent all season long about the lack of Tony recognition. Some might be thinking, well he got what he asked for.  While I don’t think what a majority of fans wanted was Tony paraded through the media center pulling gifted ponies and poker tables behind him- they wanted something.

What the fans wanted, expected, hoped for were the things they saw tracks doing the year before with Jeff Gordon. Fans wanted the opportunity to feel engaged and made to feel that not just that their driver was recognized but that they had a part in that recognition.  Case in point: I have no fewer than three Jeff Gordon towels each from different tracks that were dispersed to fans during the 2015 season for fans to wave during lap 24. I went to one race more in 2016 and I don’t have any Tony Stewart towels. Fans wanted to see things like a race named after him like Phoenix did for Jeff Gordon.  They wanted to see Speed Limit 14 MPH when the drove around Las Vegas Motor Speedway although that would be a pretty damn slow speed limit and technically Tony wasn’t driving at Las Vegas because of his back injury. You get my drift though.

Some tracks did do things for Tony fans. Some had Tony’s likeness gracing program covers, posters, and even a coveted (normal sized) bobbleheads. But subtle signs on backstretches, wall of fame presentations and a rock in his honor not withstanding tributes denoting Tony and engaging fans in celebrating their driver were actually far and few between at the track.  Fans at home missed out too- many times lap 14 was not even televised let alone mentioned showing fans standing in celebration of their beloved driver.  They wanted Tony mentioned occasionally during races despite his less than stellar performances most races.

Ultimate what was missing for Tony’s NASCAR fans was the sense of community that the track promoters and sponsors created during Jeff Gordon’s farewell season. Sure they can claim it is what Tony wanted but what he wanted was to be subjected to constant distraction. What Tony fans wanted and perhaps needed by and large could have been done without going against Tony’s wishes. THAT is why SMOKE fans feel slighted by the treatment of Tony’s retirement.

As my readers know, I will occasionally post a book review here and there when I come across something race or car related that I think my readers will enjoy.  I have been lucky enough to read several this year but I have three more that I would like to present to you as my three most standout books from 2016 as the year draws to a close today. These books are all for the car enthusiast and are of the coffee table variety.  Here are my standouts in reverse order: (more…)

MERRY CHRISTMAS from BOBBLEHEAD Tony Stewart under the Tree…and your friends at BADGROOVE (aka- AMY & MISTY)

And a New Year filled with love and laughter for all our readers.

Tony’s award at the Myer’s Brothers luncheon: Terry Dolan(left), Manager of Chevrolet Racing, and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Chevrolet, pose with the Chevrolet Cross Flags Award during the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon at The Wynn on December 1, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. David Becker/NASCAR via Getty Images

For someone who doesn’t like to fly – I have logged more air miles in the last 13 months than I have in my entire life up to that point.  Just within the last 13 months I have flown to Homestead Miami for Jeff Gordon’s last race, to Indianapolis Indiana for Tony’s last Brickyard. I flew to Phoenix for Tony’s last Phoenix race, and I flew to Vegas for Champions week (I also attended the Vegas and Sonoma races but didn’t fly for those).  The thing about flying to Vegas for champions week- is that direct flights to Vegas run from my local regional airport only twice a week- on Thursday and Sunday mornings.  Sure I could drive to the nearest BIG airport over an hour away and fly to Vegas nearly any day of the week- but the point was to not drive. Because fan fest is always on Wednesday I decided I would have to fly out Sunday and return home the following Sunday- luckily my best friend and co-blogger Misty lives in nearby Henderson so I didn’t have to worry about paying to stay in a hotel for a week…I could just kick back at her place and love on her dachshunds.  Of course I would make my plane reservations before finding out that there would be no Fan Fest this year- so technically I could have flown out on Thursday morning and been fine.  Oh well- as mentioned before Misty is my bestest friend and has been since junior high so I just had more friend time than I had anticipated. It was also the longest consecutive days I have gone with out being at work because I flew out to Vegas the Sunday after thanksgiving and didn’t fly back until the next Sunday which meant that was 11 consecutive days without work. It was a tad bit glorious I won’t lie about that.

I have been going to Champions Week in Vegas every year since they moved the festivities from New York.  Boy has it changed since that first year. That first year my favorite part- “Fan Fest” was held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. While the track is kind of “out there” from the main downtown Las Vegas that everyone loves and thinks of when they hear “Las Vegas” it was fun being at the track when it wasn’t really operational. The fan fest red carpet was right in the neon garage (which was open for free to all) and when they did the “game show” portion of fan fest which also contained a Q&A if you couldn’t fit in the room- you could sit and watch it on the screens in the garage area- which is what we did. The track is also quite near Nellis Airforce Base and I had fun watching the jets perform maneuvers in between activities and listen to the band and special guests who were on stage. Now everything has been moved so it’s more centrally located on the STRIP which is fine but the last few years it’s gotten worse.

Last year we were bummed out when they dropped doing driver intros before the Victory lap.  It was very unceremonious last year and not worth standing in the cold for hours just to watch the drivers get in the cars and take off. There was no ceremony or hooplah.  They did most of that during fan fest before the Game Show (last year it was Jeopardy) on Fremont Street. (more…)

(For those not aware- a little over a year ago I undertook a project here on BadGroove that we lovingly called Project Smoke In My Eyes.  The concept started out as a way for fans to submit their own stories about Tony Stewart and ended up being put into a book that is currently on it’s way to Tony for delivery sometime in December.  The book is pages of fans stories about Tony Stewart. While I was compiling the submissions I worked on creating my own submission for the book.  I went through several versions and finally at the end of my own self-imposed deadline came up with the following. It appears as the last entry in the Smoke In My Eyes book- the only thing behind it being The End- But Really Just The Beginning.—- AMY)

This is what seems like my one millionth attempt at writing my own entry for “Smoke In My Eyes.” My most recent previous attempt was pages and pages of me waxing on poetically but as I edited it, I realized that while it said a lot- it wasn’t actually what I wanted to say.

Mostly what I want to say is thank you Tony. (more…)

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

Start: 25th

Finish: 15th

Points: 2192 (15th in points)

(photo source: zimbio.com/Sean Gardner/Getty Images North America)

Dear Phoenix- it had been too long. I hadn’t been at your track since November of 2014 and I forgot why I love you so much. Last year I forsake you to attend my first race in Homestead-Miami because Jeff Gordon was retiring and since it’s so close to the Phoenix race there was no way I could attend both.  This year- I thought I would miss you. I had decided in the shadow of my driver Tony Stewart retiring to attend my first and his last Brickyard 400 at IMS. I assumed that I would again forgo Phoenix. For no other reason than for me to drive the crazy trek to Phoenix is a taxing one- first to Vegas to pick up my friend which is about 500 miles door -to-door from where I live and usually takes me between 7 and 8 hours. The drive from Vegas to Phoenix is another nearly 5 hours. That’s a lot of time in a car- to then have to turn around and do the same thing in reverse order the Monday and Tuesday after the race.  Especially when you consider I would likely be doing the same thing just a few weeks later for Champions Week in Vegas (minus the trip to Phoenix). But then I got a text from Misty asking if I wanted to do something a little bit crazy. See when we went to Indiana for the Brickyard we were caught up in the major meltdown Southwest suffered when it had issues with it’s reservation software in late July. Our outgoing flight to Indianapolis was cancelled with 3 hours notice (not delayed but CANCELLED completely).  Despite the stress of us having to figure our own way out to Indiana (because if we stayed with Southwest they MIGHT be able to get us to Indiana on Saturday when we were suppose to be there on Thursday) on another carrier who was more than willing to get us there on Friday- Southwest gave us vouchers for flights to prove they can indeed provide us with the service we expected.  Misty’s crazy idea was for me to drive to Vegas and then together we would hop a flight from Vegas to Phoenix stay just long enough to see the race and then fly back to Vegas and I could drive back to my central coast home.  That flight ended up being approximately 45 minutes.  And let me tell you it was worth every penny. Flying was so so much easier than the long, desolate desert drive between Vegas and Phoenix that I since have a hard time seeing myself doing that drive again.  Ever. (more…)

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

Start: 23rd

Finish: 31st, 5 laps down

Points: 2166 (14th in points)

Ahh you have heard the saying everything is bigger in Texas right? Well that is also true of the NASCAR race- because was was suppose to be an afternoon race stretched into a HUGE rain delay…and then a rain shortened race.  When it started to rain right after the drivers got in and all buckled up there was a lengthy (six hour) rain delay.

Way to stick it out Texas race fans by the way. Rain delay coverage was the usual…I don’t know if they talked about it during the coverage- because I actually left the house for a bit when it was clear that the race wouldn’t restart for at least another couple hours and that was the Team Hendrick pit crews doing the Mannequin Challenge (where you hold still like a mannequin). You can see it here on the Hendrick Motorsports website. I thought that was awesome- it can not be easy to hold those poses like that.

When they finally called the drivers to their cars at just after 7:00 pm local time- I started to get excited. Then we watched the longest warm up laps in recent memory as the drivers ran around the track for twenty something laps before the race trying to help dry the track. Then the race started under a Green/Yellow as that continued for several laps until the track was finally deemed dry enough and the cars were allowed to race.  (more…)

(photo source: zimbio.com/Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America)

Start: 6th

Finish: 26th, 4 laps down

Points: 2156 (14th in points)

Tony’s weekend started out with awesome practices and a solid qualifying effort but unfortunately it didn’t end up so swell. After the first caution when a majority of the field pitted and Tony’s team did not he ended up falling back in the field to fresher tires.  The car sustained damage when Ryan Blaney came across the nose of Tony’s car as well. Between battling a car that wouldn’t turn and the loss of track position he was unable to make up any ground and eventually ended up loosing laps to the leader and finishing 26th. Tony was discouraged. The team was discouraged. The fans were discouraged. It wasn’t the best of weekends so why dwell on it I say. (more…)