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Shock and Yaw

Posted by Amy in General - (1 Comments)

I love cars. Not just race cars but I am a fan of cars in general. If I had unlimited funds (or was insanely wealthy at the very least) I would have a classic car collection. I know I have mentioned this before and am pretty darn sure I went into gory details as to which cars I would have in my collection  (split window vette! Nomad!) and why somewhere on this blog before. Unfortunately I an not insanely wealthy or have unlimited funds…so I have my every day car, a 2008 Chevy HHR LT and that is it. I actually was originally going to buy a Toyota pickup (ie a Tacoma). I had a Toyota Rav4 that was perfect for me it was fairly reliable for most of it’s life (200,000 miles). But then it started to have some issues starting.  Personally I think it was a problem with the fuel pump or filter but damned if they would listen to me at Toyota…they played the hunt and peck and change this thingy and that doohickey to the tune of 300+ bucks at a time and by the time I was nearly $1 grand into trying to fix the problem and still having the same freaking issue I decided it might just be cheaper for me in the long run to go for a new car.  About that  time I needed to drive to southern California.  Because the Rav decided it would only start *sometimes* I rented a car.  I ended up getting an HHR from the rental company and I fell in love with it.  Thus a couple months later- I went to my local Chevy dealership and drove off with a silver HHR.

I take very good care of my car: A loving car wash often enough to keep her shiny, an oil change every 3,000 miles and all the recommended services (yeah I know I am getting gouged at the dealer but…I am a girl and while I know just enough about cars to have a sense when I am getting bs’d about something, I honestly don’t know that much about cars and their, um working parts).

A couple of weekends ago the weather turned from dreary to lovely.  I gathered up my parents and a bazillion tons of camera equipment and we went for a drive to take pictures.  We ended up going over a fairly steep grade in our adventures and on the descending side of the grade my car developed a nasty vibration every time I applied even the tinest bit of brake.  The HHR had nearly 50k miles on it.  My dad said it was probably brake related. I called when we got to our destination and made an appointment to take the HHR  in to be fixed.  The problem was indeed the brakes and had a brake job.  All better right? Well kind of.

A week to the day later from the brake job? I am circling the parking lot at work like a shark working a school of anchovies as I look for a spot to open up when my car start dinging at me and a warning light on my dashboard comes on and my digital read out kindly states SERVICE ESC.  Well being the PANIC! PANIC! THE WHEELS ARE GONNA FALL OFF!!! kind of person that I am…I called OnStar and they ran a diagnostic (awesome they can do that while you are driving around looking for a parking spot).  I mean that is what I pay them the big bucks for right? So they can tell me what’s going on with my car and send help should I crash or something.  Well OnStar told me I needed to take my car in because there was a problem with the stabilitrack on the car (the electronic stability controls- you know the system that keeps you from sliding all over in slippery conditions- ie the bane of wanna be drifters everywhere).  So again because I am a PANIC! PANIC! THE WHEELS ARE GONNA FALL OFF!!! kinda person I call Chevy and make an appointment for the next day to take it back to have this looked out.

Diagnosis: Malfunctioning yaw rate sensor.  I nearly asked when I traded in my car for a freaking sailboat.  Because doesn’t a yaw sensor sound like it belongs on a sailboat?  Anyway thanks to what I have learned watching NASCAR my entire life I had a fairly good idea what that probably did just based on the name alone.  But I asked my service adviser anyway.  He chuckled and said “I had a feeling you were going to ask that!” (I think he could sense that I am a PANIC! PANIC! THE WHEELS ARE GONNA FALL OFF!!! AND ITS GOING TO COST ME A FORTUNE TO FIX! type of person when I brought it in right away).  He tried to put it in a way I could understand…which was nice. So if you are wondering? The yaw sensor on an HHR with ESC is what tells the ESC when the back end is scooting around on you (as if you are a loose race car).  Luckily for me it was covered under the extended warranty (yey extended warranty). But yeah…so here’s to hoping nothing else on my car wants to go haywire for a bit.

Mostly? I had to tell you the story because, well, is that not the coolest title for a post? I hate titles and usually have a hard time titling them.  But this post was all about the title.

As some of you may know, I have this other writing gig over at Racing In America where once every two week or so I have to come up with a new entry.  During the off season it’s been hard to come up with relevant stuff.  Here at BadGroove I don’t feel as badly if I post stuff that really isn’t motor sport relevant especially during the off season because well…it’s my blog and I’ll stray if I want to.  I don’t know why I let myself get stressed out about the RIA stuff…it’s not like they pay me and pretty much I can write about whatever I want in the motorsports world (although in my mind they like it when I write NASCAR and I might as well write about a world I know more about then say…NHRA- which I do write about sometimes). But lately, I feel like I let the looming deadlines over at RIA get to me and then I rush out a post that isn’t my best.

Anyway- for my last post over at RIA- I totally copped out and came up with my own top ten  list of races I am looking forward to watching in the 2011 racing season (as a reaction to this article over at scenedaily.com).  I thought it would be easy but it actually took my two days (which is a long time for me) to come up with a list I was happy with and then promptly typed* it up and sent it over to my editor/publisher over at RIA for posting.  Then I breathed a sigh of relief that it was done and went about my business. Until I decided to actually read the entry over at RIA.  Um…I forgot a very import race that I look forward to every season. And it was on my original list. I somehow had two number three’s and ended up dropping this race from the version  I sent over to RIA.  So I will share it here as originally written for the article and then expound upon it after:

Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas- I always LOVE watching the Vegas race because it hold a special place in my oval-loving heart.  It’s the first NASCAR race I had ever gone to AND the first oval track I had ever attended.  I actually attend this race every year since the first time in person.  I love the facilities and really think that the track is underrepresented .  I love the Vegas race and think this track above many others deserves a second race and a night race would be awesome there.   This is another track that Tony has never won at so I always watch it with great hope.

While technically it was suppose to be number three in my original article that is only because I ranked those races by the schedule not by their importance to me.  This one would be number one if only for the sentimental reasons that this was my first NASCAR race attended in the flesh.  I have written about it several times here and over at RIA. I still remember the awe when we started pulling up to the speedway- seeing the grandstands get bigger and bigger and the excitement in my heart as we got closer and closer that first time and do not feel that I have ever adequately described it yet.  This track may be one of those cookie cutter 1.5 ovals that everyone talks about but it’s MY cookie cutter 1.5 mile oval that holds fond memories that make me nearly giddy just thinking about them. The Vegas race holds a lot of firsts for me and I LOVE it for that.  I am sure every NASCAR fan who has ever been to a race has a track that they love and hold dear to them. This one is mine (although Phoenix holds a very very close second place in my heart).

I will be attending this year although I have not even purchased tickets yet (which is so out of character for me since I tend to be an excessive planner- usually purchasing my race tickets several months in advance) and right now-at the peak of what one of my facebook friends called “off season depression” looking forward to going to the Vegas race is a huge bright spot in the near future to look forward to.

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*Yes…I do sometimes write my entries long hand.  I actually find that my entries come out better written long hand and then typed up.

Did I ever SLACK in writing here over the holiday or what? Sorry- but my “real” job gives me the week after Christmas off. Don’t be jealous- it’s really just the holidays we don’t get off during the year that everyone else does.  So I got home and comfy and LAZY and totally did not feel like writing more than I had to. I did write this over at Racing In America- but it was like pulling teeth…I really didn’t want to do it. See how I get all lazy when given the chance. Anyway I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas filled will family and love and a prosperous New Year.  Hopefully you didn’t spend your New Year’s Eve the way I spent mine- trying to calm a very freaked out Roxy while our neighbors set of fireworks and bottle rockets….at least that is what I hoped it was…either that or they declared war- because it was LOUD and Roxy hates loud.

So Tony is racing sprint cars in Australia and is doing pretty good so far- placing second in one race, and third in another.  He races more down under on Jan. 14th and 15th! I hope he wins on the 14th. It’s his number and my birthday so it would be a doubly good time to win.  While Tony is on his Australian racecation I have found some fun NASCAR related things to tell you about.

2011 Hottest Driver Tournament

First off is the 2011 Hottest Driver Tournament over at The Fast and The Fabulous.  It’s a random seeding of 38 drivers where YOUR voting will determine the “Hottest” driver.  Of course you will want to go over there and vote (FOR TONY) for your favorite driver…it’s something fun and Valli is really excited to bring it to you! Do it now!

Also- you might want to check out Jeff Burton in his cameo on television this Saturday night.  He will be playing himself in a cameo in the fourth installment of Fox’s Family Movie Night offering “Change of Plans.”  It has a star-studded cast including American Idol’s Brooke White, Phylicia Rashad, and Joe Flannigan.  It sounds like one of those good solid heart warming stories…with a small cameo by Idol Judge Randy Jackson and NASCAR’s Jeff Burton, playing…Jeff Burton!  Check it out on your local Fox affiliate January 8th at 8 pm.

When my brother and I were young my parents would give us a set amount of money to spend on Christmas. We were expected to budget that money fairly evenly and buy the other three people Christmas presents. They would then take us to the mall and we would split up.  My mom would take me and together she would assist me in purchasing a present for my brother and my dad while my dad was with my brother helping him buy a present for my mom and I…then we would swap and my dad would help me buy for my mom and my mom would help my brother buy for dad.  One year- I was probably about 7 or 8 I had my budget (it was probably no more than 10 dollars a person at the most) and I had my heart set on buying my little brother a smurf for christmas. My mom and I wandered all around the mall – but smurf toys were extremely popular that year and most smurf toys were out of my price range- which was quite firm.  My mom says I looked up at her and said “I never knew smurfs were so expensive!”  I  did get him a smurf that year but he had to settle for a teeny plush one- the smallest one they had.

Flash forward this year. I was with Misty in Vegas and we were cruising the mall.  Macy’s was selling a big stuffed smurf – only $14.99.  It reminded of walking all over the mall looking for that dang smurf so I bought it. Misty bought one too. She named her smurf Schmeil and she named my Shuster.  I  left Shuster Smurf at home and went to work this week…when Shuster apparently got into the Christmas spirit  or my father smurfnapped him and forced him into scenes for photography…which isn’t clear.  However- I present to you A Very Smurfy Christmas the pictorial: (more…)

I recently posted over at the Racing In America Blog! Check out my article:  West Coast Fan Feels the Squeeze in the 2011 NASCAR Schedule! I would love to know what you think!

If you have been reading here for any length of time, you know I like love to take pictures. I really do.  I have even taken a couple of online photography classes trying to better my techniques.  It was in one of my classes that I decided that I do not like taking pictures of people…especially when they are posed or posing.  They usually end up with monkey grins or looking like they are wearing the world’s most uncomfortable underwear.  Plus, when you take a picture of a car or a horse or something, they don’t tend to bitch about having to stand still while you take just one more shot.  Portraiture is just not my bag I guess.  I would much rather take pictures of flowers or animals or whatnot.

However when I was at the NASCAR Champions Week celebration and festivities in Las Vegas I got some of the BEST pictures of PEOPLE that I have ever taken.  That is when it dawned on me-  I can take good pictures of people as long as they don’t know I am taking their picture or at the very least aren’t posing for me.  So my best three photos of Champions week are:

Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson

Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson talk during a break at the 2010 Stewie Awards in Las Vegas. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Tony Stewart smiles at the 2010 Stewie Awards in Las Vegas, NV

Probably the best picture of Tony Stewart I have managed to take...because most of them manage to blur because I get nervous and move the camera. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Jimmie Johnson smiles on the red carpet at the Chasers for Charity Fan Fest in Las Vegas, NV

Now I know that here it looks like Jimmie is posing for me but he's NOT! He is actually smiling at a little boy who is sitting on his father's shoulders behind me. The little boy kept calling out "Jimmie Johnson...Jimmie Johnson!" (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Now you might be wondering where on earth Clint Bowyer fits into all this, since clearly my “best” photos were NOT of Clint.  Well as a result of After The Lap and The Stewies, I found out that Clint  is a really funny guy.  Honestly I have never really given Bowyer much thought before but he really is a funny guy and spent most of the time laughing and cutting up at both After the Lap and The Stewies.  But damned if I can get a picture of the man where he doesn’t look grumpy.  I present to you all my pictures of Clint Bowyer as evidence:

My very first picture of Clint Bowyer...grimacing in the garage at LVMS three years ago. Ok so maybe he was working and this is Clint's "race" face...but really he just looks annoyed. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

So that isn’t that bad BUT he looks kind of ticked off right? Well trust me…they only get worse. Check out this picture of Clint signing autographs on the red carpet at Fan Fest:

Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer on the red carpet at Chasers for Charity Fan Fest. (photo credit: Amy K. Marbach)

See? This is NOT Clint Bowyer’s personality- I would know since I was there- he is not the grumpy gus that my camera catches…it’s my apparent inability to catch him in a flattering way.  I am sad to admit that  have an even worse picture of Clint from the Stewies:

Clint Bowyer at the 2010 Stewie Awards

Clint Bowyer at the 2010 Stewie Awards. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

So why I can’t get a decent picture of Clint Bowyer I don’t know. It use to be that I could never get a decent picture of Tony Stewart because he would make me nervous and I would move the camera so all my pictures of the man would be blurry. But that has changed. With Bowyer it’s different…I can’t caught a flattering image of him for the life of me.  I have no explanation for it really.

Also I just wanted to include a side note that while taking pictures to document NASCAR Champions Week 2010 I felt like a paparazzi, especially during the red carpet walk for Fan Fest and during the Stewies.  It was kinda weird.

I do a majority of my souvenir shopping at the track on qualifying day (Friday) because on race day I am usually bogged down with my cameras and backpack full of race supplies on race day and I don’t want to add my souvenirs to my already crammed full backpack and honestly I worry I will lose track of them if I just carry them in bags.

What you also need to know is that since the last race I was at (spring Phoenix race) is that I also went through the rigmarole of changing banks. I use to bank with US BANK…but had become increasingly disgruntled with them. I was concerned after a friend with the same bank had some issues with a fraudulent charge on her account- their policies did not instill confidence in me if my identity should be stolen. Then they spent a good 3 to 4 months calling me twice a day every day to get me to buy some sort of insurance or whatever. I am not exaggerating either. I was usually polite but after awhile even I got downright nasty. I finally unloaded on the poor telemarketer and told her in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t interested last month, I wasn’t interested last week, I wasn’t interested yesterday and I am still not interested today…and if they called back I would be closing my account as soon as possible. Needless to say? The phone calls never really stopped until I finally threatened to call the police on them for harassment. Needless to say I signed up with Bank Of America for three reasons. First- they are everywhere. US Bank is not so easy to find in some places. Secondly, I am impressed with their identity theft policies. Third, they finally got a Tony Stewart debit card for their NASCAR Banking.

That being said when I was at the Auto Club Speedway on Friday, I shopped at the Tony Stewart Hauler like I always do. Misty shopped that the Jeff Gordon Hauler.  I bought a couple things at the Chevy Racing hauler (gifts) and in the gift shop for the track.   As we were leaving that day though we wandered by the Junior Nation Hauler because it was on our way out and a cute little Whiskey River cowgirl hat caught both of our eyes.   When I go to the tracks and shop I usually use cash because it’s an easy way of budgeting myself.  But I had to have this hat and purposely had not brought all my cash with me on Friday.  So I pulled out my trusty Tony Stewart Debit card to pay for my cute little hat and handed it over.  The salesman at the hauler chuckled at my card and jokingly said “I don’t know if I can accept this card!” (its a gray card with the #14 Chevy Impala on it).  He grabbed the hat I desired and asked if I wanted a bag and then ran my card. With a very straight face he said: “Yeah it’s not accepting your card.” The minute he said that I started to panic just a little bit because this is the first time I have traveled using my new debit card…what if there was something wrong with it?  Then a few seconds later he said “Yeah…it says invalid driver…” Ha! Funny guy! Not! Misty laughed and laughed.

I did not take this picture…but it was taken on that Friday…so I thought it was fitting:

FONTANA, CA - OCTOBER 08: Tony Stewart, driver of the  Office Depot Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi Max 400 on October 8, 2010 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

FONTANA, CA - OCTOBER 08: Tony Stewart, driver of the Office Depot Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi Max 400 on October 8, 2010 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

I am home! Actually I have been home several hours now. I came home to one very happy beagle…who did her happy dance for like two minutes…sniffed my luggage for a couple more and then wandered off unimpressed. But that is just Roxy for you.

Oh wait…you didn’t know I was gone did you? I think I failed to mention that I was on my way down to Autoclub Speedway for the race. It was a great time…made even greater by the fact that Tony Stewart…WON (and at track he hadn’t won at before). I have pictures to download, an interview to transcribe (yes we interviewed Tony again- he was very gracious to grant us another interview before his autograph session on Thursday afternoon) and tons of laundry to do. Oh and a beagle to feed.

I need you to be a little patient with me…I will do my race recap soon, as well as the points thing I have been doing and of course the Interview with Tony himself.

Until I get a chance to get all that stuff done, you can read my latest Racing In America blog post about my general analysis of the points in the Chase and how removing the seeding system would change things up.