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Last year, I gave a glowing review to Christopher Hinchcliffe’s debut novel Chasing Checkers, a book I had stumbled across in my social media and decided to give a read. I had closed my review with the hope that we would hear more from young racer Teddy. I was giddy last week when I found out that the next novel chronicling Teddy Clark’s journey as a racer was not only available but that I was offered a copy for review.   Of course, I jumped on the opportunity and dove right into reading it when it arrived in my inbox on Saturday morning.  It’s now Sunday afternoon, just a little more than 24 hours later, and I finished. And you know that I watched every single lap of the Bristol race yesterday afternoon which of course meant a bunch of time watching racing instead of reading about it. A good measure of my enjoyment of a book is measured by the length of time it takes me to finish the book (the faster I read through it, the more I am enjoying it). That said, really enjoyed the section installment of young Teddy’s adventures in Hinchcliffe’s Chasing Checkers: Acceleration.

Chasing Checkers: Acceleration follows Teddy through the dreaded offseason and into the new racing series in what he is sure will be his make it or season.  He is hoping that he will make it up to the next level by the end of the season. But life starts to get in the way before the season even starts. He’s given a specific training regiment to follow, plus he has his group of friends (many of whom are now in a band together), and of course his studies. This is what I love about this book (as well as the first Chasing Checkers book). It’s Teddy’s very real struggles to balance everything in his life. How more realistic can it get? Hell, some days I still have trouble balancing everything in my life, and I have had far more practice at it then Teddy. The book is not without the exciting racing action as well which adds to the story. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but anyone who loved the first Chasing Checkers book will most definitely love Chasing Checkers: Acceleration. Racing fans and non-racing fans will enjoy this young adult novel and should consider giving it a read.

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 was offered a review copy of Chasing Checkers: Acceleration by the author for the purposes of this review. As always, the words, thoughts, and opinions on this book are my own. The links provided in the review are not affiliate links, and I make no money off of the links.

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

I don’t have to tell you it’s been some time since I blogged about a race. You may be left wondering what is going on. Have I stopped watching racing? How goes my quest to find a new favorite NASCAR driver? Just what the heck is going on with Amy and Badgroove.

Well, let’s play catch up on the overly exciting (yes I am being facetious) life of Amy of BadGroove.

Have I stopped watching racing? No. I still watch pretty much every weekend- although I am less upset if something is happening that I want to take part in during a race that doesn’t have to do with racing.  This year, however, I have already attended my races for the season- one. The Vegas spring race.  I decided not to go to Sonoma in June not because I don’t love the race, on the contrary – I love Sonoma immensely. It’s one of my favorite tracks. The problem with Sonoma is that it’s too far from where I live to make it easy to go back and forth from the track from my home. Hotels near the track are super expensive (in Napa, Sonoma, even nearby Santa Rosa) and I am usually left staying somewhere in the south bay which in itself isn’t cheap.  Plus there is Bay Area traffic and bridge tolls to deal with.  So we decided to skip Sonoma this year.  I am also skipping the Vegas fall race because I already have a long-standing vacation planned for that week and frankly the vacation plans I have are something I have been looking forward too for quite some time.

However, there is something on the racing horizon that does excite me. The fact that INDYCAR’s season finale for 2019 is going to be at Laguna Seca. My first race was Indycar at Laguna Seca. So I am so excited about this race that I already put in for vacation.  This track is 10 miles from my house.  I will do what I can to make sure that I am at the track that weekend.

My quest for a new driver is still ongoing. I don’t know that I will ever find a driver like Tony to be a fan of. That’s not to say I am still not a Tony fan. I am, and I follow him in his driving as well as I can on social media.  As a Tony fan, I am also happy when any of the SHR drivers win.  Watching their success this season has been impressive and fun, and I am so excited for Tony Stewart as a NASCAR owner.  I still have my eye on Ryan Blaney but the connection him so far is nothing like what I had with my driver. I will not be getting Ryan Blaney ink anytime soon.

My thoughts on Kasey Kahne’s recent decision to leave NASCAR doesn’t surprise me. He is ready to get back to dirt as well as spend time with his son. The quality of Kasey’s rides has continued to go downhill since he was let go from HMS years ago. More and more of the NASCAR I watched is retiring, and it makes me feel old.

This blog has always been something I loved to do. It started years ago as a place to keep in touch with friends on what I was doing- and a lot of that was watching racing. It’s how I processed my feelings about what is going on the track.  It’s where I talked about the excitement surrounding going to a race. But right now it’s the mechanics of writing weekly about each race that is hard for me and I am struggling to decide if it’s something that I want to continue to do. So for right now, I come here when there is something that I want to say or a book I want to review (part of me wonders if I should change the focus of BadGroove to be a book review blog and review everything I read- motorsports related or not). So keep coming by- I am still here. I still have things to say. I am just trying to decide what the next incarnation of BadGroove is going to be.

I usually don’t watch all of the Monaco race. I usually, as a west coast race fan, get up in time to watch the last half of the race. But this weekend for some reason, one of my dogs (Abbie) decided that she needed out at 5:15 am.  Usually when she has such an early morning call to nature on a weekend (any weekend) I let her out, let her in and then go back to bed.  But I thought to myself Sunday morning, I am going to see if I can find the Grand Prix on tv and just leave my tv on and maybe I will sleep and maybe I won’t. Which was silly of me- I don’t sleep with the TV on. Once my brain becomes engaged in something, forget going to sleep.  So Sunday I watched all three major races, flag-to-flag.

My favorite part of watching the Grand Prix of Monaco was the new halo roll bars. I haven’t seen them in action before and noticed them straight off. I would think that having the bar down the center of your field of view might be irritating but my internet research about them tells me the drivers do not find it so. I assume that it’s to keep the car from crush the driver in the case of an event such as a crash in which the car may become air born and/or flip. I wonder if this isn’t something that we will see in the utilized in the IRL series?

During the Grand Prix of Monaco and then during the Indy 500 however, my mind kept wandering towards missing James Hinchcliff and Pippa Mann during the race. I watched ALL of the Indy500 pre-race coverage. I love all the tradition and hoopla that surrounds the race, however I did find it interesting that what was glanced over was the fact that a fairly major competitor in James Hinchcliff not even making the field wasn’t even mentioned.  I was disappointed that James and Pippa Mann weren’t in the field thanks to the change in bump day rules. I will admit- I am a Pippa Mann fan. While already familiar with the name before, several years ago, the author of the Kate Reilly Racing Mysteries brought my attention to her in a wider scope, as she started mentioning all the help that Pippa gives her as an advisor on her books (which follows a female racer protagonist). I started following Pippa more closely on social media and found her to be such a positive and open person. I highly suggest you read her post on her blog titled Bumped…it’s an open, honest look at what being bumped is like for a driver and a team that puts ALL their work and dedication into making ONE race. If you read ONE thing about the Indy500 this year- I highly suggest you read this.

After a few hours break in race watching it was time for the Coca-Cola 600. During the race, Abbie (yes the same dog that had the early morning potty call) decided she was done with all this race watching and decided to jump on my lap and sit on me until I paid attention to her. I kindly obliged and while watching the race. The funny thing about Abbie is that between the two dogs, she actually watches TV. Although we learned the hard way not to let her watch Grizzly Gauntlet on NatGeo because she gets scared of the bears and then tries to crawl on our heads (she does this whenever she is scared about anything).  My favorite thing about the Coca-Cola 600 is how each car is tied to a specific fallen service member and each driver seems to know about their service member. I LOVE that they give real meaning to the Memorial Day holiday.

 

The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star race is upon us already. It seems like the season just started and we are already onto what use to be one of my favorite weeks of the year- the All-Star race.  I always loved the pageantry that came with the race. Plus there is the fact that it’s not a points race, it’s a let it all hang out because there is million dollars on the line race. Over the recent years though, the race for me has started to lose a little of it’s viewing luster.

For me it started when they stopped the pit crew competition. It was always a favorite of mine. I enjoyed watching the teams in their bracket like competition, a lot of time the drivers were there cheering their team members on.  It showcased that NASCAR is a team sport.  Then there is the fact that the format never seems to be the same two years in a row.  I can honestly tell you that I didn’t even know much about the format this season so I decided to investigate it.

The format will be a four stage race: Lap 30, Lap 50, Lap 70 and Lap 80 and that they are making it so that each stage can go into overtime- which I hope is something that is just for the All-Star race- because that seems like it would just drag out your standard 400 mile race.

The biggest difference I found for the All-Star race this year is the package the cars will be running. The cars will have a six inch spoiler that will have a 12 inch “ear” extension on each side (I don’t know about you but I am picturing bunny ears) and a splitter configuration from back in 2014 and there is talk that this is just a testing ground for a major package change for next year.  From what I read the hope is there will be more side-by-side racing with record number passes for the lead kind of thing. I guess we will find out soon enough.  But there was a reason we moved away from the 2014 splitter and ducting package from back in 2014.

I guess we will find out what happens with the package.

I hope the race has the sparks that NASCAR is looking for. I’ll be watching. Will you? Who do you have your money on? Who do you think will get the fan vote? I have been voting since it opened (but I won’t tell you for who).

I have to tell you I am in love with the new Speed Read series by Motorbooks/Quarto Publishing. I was offered the first two books of the series to review- and what you should know is that I will own the entire series (which as it stands now will include six books- but personally I am hoping for more).  That is how much I love these books.

I will start with the first book- Speed Read Car Design by author Tony Lewin.  It’s a lovely, no-nonsense, no extraneous fluff, information book that gives readers the history and concept of modern car design.  The book is broken up into seven easily digestible sections (think chapters) starting with The Birth Of Car Design then moving quickly into a Century of Changing Shapes, then into Innovation, The Elements of Style, and then into Engineering, Interiors and Space. It then takes on The Creative Process and closes with What Comes Next, which as the title suggests is the future of car design. Each subsection with in the section has relevant and beautifully clean matte “old school” illustrations and each section ends with a topic glossary- which as a word nerd I absolutely adore.  I admit that my favorite sections personally of car design is the Creative process- specifically the subsection “The Step-by-Step of Car Design” which literally  breaks up the entire process of modern car design into six steps.  I also rather enjoyed perusing both the subsections “Techniques and Tools” subsection which goes briefly into specific modeling tools used in the process of car design and the subsection on “Fashion, fads and Corporate Styles” which details the specific designs and styles that are expected by certain auto manufacturers.  Speed Read Car Design was put together by Tony Lewin, writer and editor for Automotive News Europe, who it’s quite obvious has spent most of his  life driving cars, analyzing them and reporting on the ups and downs of the manufactures that build them and global cultural factors that influence them.  He has also authored several other books on automotive car design.

The next book in the series that I got to review was Speed Read F1 by Stuart Codling.  Much like Car Design, F1 is also split into seven sections (chapters) and filled with beautiful matte illustrations and relevant sidebars in each subsection.  Also each section also ends in that lovely glossary- which I love even more in the F1 book than I did in the car design book because sometimes racing terminology in F1 is different than I am use to and it helps this NASCAR and NHRA lover figure out what is being discussed.  The sections F1 is broken up in order are: Technology, Drivers, Rivalries, Racing Circuits, Flag To Finish, Staying Alive, and Taking Care Of Business.  As someone who has watched F1 on multiple occasions or but not closely enough to know all the intricacies this particular form of motorsport, I found this book refreshing as a crash course in the particulars of F1 and what makes it unique in the motorsports world.  Much like Car Design, F1 is also written in a clear, easy to read manner.  My favorite section in this book was Rivalries, which lists a several of the sports stand-out rivalries. Especially with some of the more historic rivalries, while I likely recognized the name of at least one of the drivers I was able to read through the particulars of what makes that specific rivalry contentious.  My second favorite section was the Staying Alive section as it detailed safety and how it has evolved with F1 through the years. Speed Read F1 was written by Stuart Codling, who you may know as a broadcaster and F1 expert if you already follow the sport. He has also been featured before in Amy’s #NASCAR Reading list for his Lamborghini Supercar book.  You can find out more about Stuart on his website StuartCodling.com.

The Speed Read series are kind of like a combination guide book and textbook (and I mean textbook in the most loving bookophile, booknerd way).  They are beautiful high quality paperbacks that measure approximately 6.9 x 8.9 inches.  Speed Read Car Design and Speed Read F1 are available now for purchase. I know I mentioned this before but I absolutely love these books and I am greatly looking forward to the future editions of Speed Read- which will include Speed Read Mustang and Speed Read Ferrari to be released soon and also will include Speed Read Supercars and Speed Read Porsche 911 to be released later in the year. I would like to see even more books in the series- including ones on different racing forms like NASCAR, NHRA, INDYCAR, etc but there is nothing in the works for that that I know of.

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

I received both books (Speed Read Car Design and Speed Read F1 from the publisher in hopes I would reveiw the books. As with all my reviews on BadGroove, opinions on this book are my own. The links to purchase the book provided in this review are NOT affiliate links and I do not earn anything off of this review.

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

Ahh- did you hear that? It’s the sigh of a happy race fan girl now that cars are officially back on track for the beginning of the 2018 NASCAR race season.

Keselowski takes the checkered flag at Daytona Speedway on February 11, 2018. (photo credit: Getty Images)

And can you believe that Jimmie Johnson crashed at the Clash yet again? The clash and Jimmie just don’t get along well.  Before his bigger incident at the end of the race he actually had a narrow miss earlier in the race when a car decided to split the difference in the middle. I was impressed though by the power that team Penske seemed to exhibit in the Clash- finishing 1 (Brad Keselowski) ,2 (Joey Logano) and 4th (Ryan Blaney) with fellow Ford Kurt Busch coming in 3rd- a strong showing from last year’s Daytona 500 winner from Stewart-Haas Racing. Winner was

After watching the clash though I have to admit- I am reconsidering some of my drivers that I was going to pick for my first race using the new NASCAR Fantasy Live for certain. I haven’t officially picked my roster yet because it was my understanding that you can’t really select your roster until this week anyway. I am thinking of waiting until the results of the duels. I will miss watching the duels because I am stuck in training sessions most of the day.

One driver I was considering having on my fantasy team that I think I will remove is McMurray. I wasn’t impressed with his performance even before he had his on track incident.  One driver that I wasn’t the least bit considering and now am thinking twice about is Chase Elliott.  He was strong and aggressive at the beginning of the clash. I was impressed I admit.  Although then again at the end of the race he fell back and never really recovered ending up 13th in a field of 17 cars.  So I am kind of wishy washy about selecting him although maybe I could use him as my garaged driver and put him in (before the final stage).

So tell me- did results of the Clash and other on track activity this last weekend make you change your mind about who you will include on your race team this week?

Oh by the way- I have my own league in the NASCAR Fantasy LIVE edition…wanna join? Leave a comment with your email address and I will contact you with the information for joining us.

I guess since the last superbowl is officially in the books and the foosball season is over- we can now officially state it’s the beginning of the NASCAR race season. Thank goodness.

The Daytona 500 is 12 days away.  Anybody have any thoughts about it right out of the gate?

I am seriously considering getting back into the NASCAR fantasy game playing.  I have dabbled with it on and off with variety of different NASCAR fantasy leagues. The ones that seem to hold me best don’t have me going in and changing my driving team on a weekly basis…but that said- I am thinking of trying the new NASCAR.COM Fantasy league. The format seems simplified this year  all you do is pick five drivers for the race as well as a sixth “garaged” driver. Best part this year is that you can dump one of you existing drivers and switch to your garaged driver live during the race as long as you do it before the beginning of the final stage of that race.

You can sign up for their new fantasy league season starting now at NASCAR.COM/fantasy and you can set your driver roster for the Daytona 500 as soon as the official driver entry list is announced next week.

Anyone else going to play?  Even if you aren’t going to play tell me, who are you all thinking of putting down as your must have six driver roster (five active and one garaged) for the 500- tell me now before cars hit the track.

Have a NASCAR fan in your life and struggling to find the perfect gift? Let me give you a few suggestions!

  1. Memorabilia (the gift of Christmas Past): Do you know your fan’s favorite driver? Maybe get them some memorabilia! You can check their driver’s website because if they have their own shop sometimes you can fine unique or autographed memorabilia that way. Or check the Fanatics NASCAR shop and get everything from socks to jackets to license plate frames. Us NASCAR fans love to rep our favorite drivers. Help your favorite fan support their driver with the gift of merchandise!
  2. Donate to their driver’s foundation (the gift of Christmas Present): Many drivers have charitable foundations that support organizations near and dear to the driver’s heart. These organizations are as diverse as the drivers are and support a wide variety of needs on our community now!  For instance The Kyle Busch Foundation focuses on empowering children, families and communities to overcome hardship, The Jimmie Johnson foundation focuses on supporting K-12 public education, and Ryan Newman supports his Rescue Ranch.
  3. Race Tickets (the gift of Christmas Future): Give the gift of race tickets! NASCAR races are likely your favorite NASCAR fan’s happy place. Go large and get them some tickets!  Check the nearest track (or their favorite track)’s website and speak with the box office about purchasing tickets or giftcards that can be used for tickets if tickets are not yet available. I find that when I am going to a track I have never been to before my favorite way to buy tickets is to talk to the box office- the ticketing agents can work with you to get you the best tickets in your price range and may have suggestions for visiting their track if you never have been there before. Better yet go with your favorite race fan TO the race! If your not a fan yet you might find out at the track that NASCAR is much more that just driving in circles! If you want to go really big make it a destination race- remember that Vegas will have a second race this coming year – the usual Spring race in March and the new Fall chase race!
  4. Books! Who doesn’t love books? Do you have a NASCAR fan who is a bookworm on your list? (Maybe that is just me). If so check out my NASCAR Reading list for suggestions of books your motorsports loving fan may enjoy!

So tell me NASCAR fans- what gift are you hoping for this season?