Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

I experienced the kindness of a stranger today -- a stranger driving a heavy-duty diesel snowplow.

Like most of us living in the upper midwest, I've spent a good portion of yesterday and today with a snow shovel in hand. The snow is the heavy, crusty variety that requires lifting instead of just pushing to the edges of the driveway, the kind of shoveling that leaves one with sore muscles and a feint despondency about the temporary nature of the work. The mail carrier drove by with spiked tires to handle our stll-unplowed steets, causing me to stop and wonder... why bother shoveling the snow when there's no way to go anywhere?

I was about half-way through clearing the driveway -- again -- when I noticed an unmarked white Ford F-350 with a dark red Western plow carving a path through the streets. The driver slowed in front of my driveway and called out, "Want me to pull the rest of this off for you?"

It was temping. There's always a certain amount of pride in finishing the driveway without pulling my wallet from my pocket, but since I'd already finished this job before -- a few times, actually -- I was willing to treat myself.

"How much?" I asked.

The man smiled and lifted his fingers slightly from the steering wheel. "No charge."

I thanked him profusely and immediately banked my shovel as he slipped his truck into gear. He was done in 3 passes and about 30 seconds, and before he left he introduced himself and said he lived in the other side of the neighborhood.

Maybe he's some sort of snow angel, or maybe just he's a guy who likes to use his 4X4 in the snow. Maybe both. I like to think he's a race fan, maybe one of the TrackForum regulars -- but hey, what are the odds. But as he headed down the street, I noticed his brake lights as he approached another of my shovel-weary neighbors. I probably can imagine their conversation being very similar to ours, as another driveway was cleared in another 3 quick passes.

Who knows how many neighbors that snow plow owner helped today.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Penske Taps Power, Fans Want Hunter-Reay

In the wake of Roger Penske's hiring of Will Power as an insurance policy to cover trouble-laiden Helio Castroneves' driving responsibilities, fans of other available drivers are disappointed -- and in some cases, scratching their head.

Certainly the Aussie-born Will Power is talented, as his wins in ChampCar demonstrate. It's not that. It's just that you got a couple of proven Indycar winners on the sidelines.

Guys like 2008 Wakins Glen champion Ryan Hunter-Reay. He ran near the front all season in so-so Rahal equipment. Guys like 2004 Indy 500 Champion Buddy Rice.

So I put the question to the community: Who *Should* Roger Penske have hired? After two weeks of voting, Hunter-Reay is the top choice with 40% of the vote. Will Power, Penske's choice, trailed behind at 26%.

The fans wanted Hunter-Reay.

With indications that Buddy Rice may end up at Rubicon/Pacific Coast Motorsports, all eyes now turn to Hunter-Reay. The team that signs him may find themselves finishing races higher on the pylon than they thought.

Or the Indycar Series might let this talent get away.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Audi Confirmation

Audi Sport’s head of engine technology Ulrich Baretzky has now confirmed the information I posted on the 11th, although they are targeting 2011 instead of 2010. You can read his statements over at

It will be interesting to see if this initiative will come to fruition amid these tough economic times.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Audi Indycar Engines in 2010?

You heard it here first: The latest information from Germany is that Indycar officials met with Audi racing recently about supplying engines to the Indycar series.

There were similar rumors last June about Audi's interest in the Indycar series. Waiting for supporting information about this one.

UPDATE (1/13): I have info from another source now to corroborate the recent discussions between IMS and Audi.