PGA Tour & Champions Tour Drug Testing

If you follow golf you've heard that the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour (over 50 years old but still darn good) are implementing a drug testing policy.

If you've watched a Champions Tour event...you'd realize as I do that the tour would be much better served by instituting mandatory cholesterol  and gin testing.

"We do use a lot of Advil out here," tour spokesman Michael McPhillips said.

I'm teasing of course because these guys on their worst days are 100x better than I at the game.  Additionally, if I'm 50 and can play golf professionally...on a somewhat limited schedule...for the chance to win about $400k every Sunday....yeah...

Golfing & Global Warming

Well...at least LOCAL warming.

Here's a piece from Golf.com explaining how a guy set fire to acres of land on accident when his club struck an object in the rough.  The sparked ultimately burned 15-20 acres.

The key question was asked at the end of the piece.

The course itself went almost completely undamaged, with all of its holes still playable. Which begs the question: did he finish his round?

I'd go further and ask for the score!

I'm writing the "Racing Fans" blog on the Des Monies Register's "Juice Blogs" now

Hi all.  I may begin pointing you elsewhere for your Iowa Speedway/NASCAR fix from the Moments of Clarity blog.  Yours truly is now a Des Moines Register volunteer blogger.  My blog is called Racing Fans.  I look forward to your comments there.

Or...here's the RSS feed link.

US Open and Business

Yesterday, we saw the most difficult course in the world managed by a good but not "super star" golfer Angel Cabrera.  The best in the world could not over take him.  You see, he was a disrupter.

He probably had his heart in his throat the entire time but he kept his head down and worked.  He was dedicated.

Despite the mob of people discussing the courses difficulty and borderline unfairness, he simply tackled it, sharpened his game.  He executed on a strategy regardless of the naysayers and detractors.

The best moment for me was when asked through an interpretor (see, he only speaks Spanish but has not let that get in his way of the number one spot in golf), "What were you thinking while watching the other players finish out their rounds?"  To which he honestly replied, "I was hoping they wouldn't make any birdies.".  Exactly.

Be a dedicated disrupter letting nothing stand in your way...and execute while being honest with yourself and those around you...and you'll be a major champion in business too. 

Dale Jr. Creating the Dream Team?

OK race fans...it's the dream team many of us hoped for.  The dream team that has the Southern US spittin' their grits and biscuits!  Dale Jr. is holding a press conference today to likely announce that he's signing with Hendrick Motorsports.  Yes, that will make Dale Jr. a team mate with Jeff Gordon.  I know the bottoms must be flying off of the Levi's right now, but Jeff and Dale are going to be working together (breathe North Carolina....inhale deeply Alabama). 

I'm sure this will spawn nothing but more hatred for the best racer in the sport this year but I love it.  It's the move we Hendrick/Johnson/Gordon lovers club members thought impossible but held out hope for.  (Sorry for leaving out Kyle Busch and/or Kasey Mears but they're really getting squeezed by the guys that win races here.

The press conference is being streamed via the web and on TV via the Speed Channel at 10AM EST today.
Get ready to race boys.  Imagine Johnson, Gordon, and Jr. going 3 wide into turn 4 at Daytona next year!!!         

Iowa Speedway: ARCA/REMAX Prairie Meadows 250

Dsc_0030_editedIt was another awesome night of racing in Newton at the very special Iowa Speedway. The ARCA/REMAX series is a stock car series similar to NASCAR for reference.  Unlike the last NASCAR East/West race, this race did not have a back and forth dual all night long between a few drivers.  In this race, 8-time ARCA champ Frank Kimmel won after overcoming a late race penalty and long pit stop.   

Here are some photos from the race provided by the excellent camera of Matt Owen.

Dsc_0092_edited_4 Dsc_0132_edited_2

Top 10 Things Missing From Public Golf In the Modern Era

Beer_golf Top Things Missing From Public Golf Courses








Why don't golf courses have:

  1. Honor system beverage/food stations at key holes like every 3rd one? (The US government has an honor system border crossing with Canada...did you know that?)  Put cash in the cash box, make your own change, etc. One could even put a safe box with a key lock that only golfers have to avoid dash and grabs from locals if they can easily gain access to the course.
  2. Pay with Paypal mobile phone for your food/bev while on the course.  I don't carry cash. Please someone do this for me. 
  3. "Swing view cams" or "cable operated shot following cams" that record your round and some swings for you. 
  4. Live streaming web cams on key holes to check weather and watch others shots into greens, etc.  I'm interested and if I can get streaming web cams to work (even weather proof ones)....literally anyone can.
  5. Credit card mobile swiper machine (maybe the one attached to the Sprint/Nextel phone?).  Another payment option.  It's not like your beers are cheap anyway, add $.50 to the price and within no time, you'll make back the monthly investment in the service/equipment.
  6. Tabs.  Why doesn't a golf course let me run a tab while on site?  For the love of Pete...I just paid $50 to play and I'm likely to spend another $20+ if you make it easy.  Buying a round for friends, the "great shot Jim!" celebratory beer, and the "I'm feeling some tightness in my back beer" are so much easier to BUY when you let me do what EVERY other drinking facility does, pay later and trust that I will pay.
  7. Golf ball vending machines.  Make the prices a bit better, give me selection, wire in electricity and give me a machine at a few holes on the course. 
  8. Have a roving teaching pro day once per month.  Have the guy just stationed at a hole and have him "quick tip" you into doing better.  It may save your round.
  9. Post-golf massage.  I was treated to a "while playing blackjack massage" in Vegas recently....give me the same options post golf and I'll do it, I promise.
  10. Caddies.  Bring this back to more courses and figure out the business model.  I need local knowledge and encouragement!

Keep swinging!

If you're a race fan...get to know this name: Joey Logano

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with Tom Blasko and fellow Iowa blogger Matt Owen of US Rodeo Supply out at the Iowa Speedway and what a day it was.  I think we solved the world's problems and agreed that it's very exciting to build businesses...and not so exciting to have a "job".  Spending the day with Matt also inspired me watch a PBR event on TV when I got home too. Between the 3 of us, we vetted another 3-5 spin off business concepts too.  Is cloning perfected yet?

We watched a fantastic NASCAR Grand National series race (the series just below NASCAR Busch series) in which a 16 year old kid beat Kevin Harvick.  Fox Sports full report here. Mind you, this is the same Kevin Harvick who the night before won over $1 million in the Nextel Cup All-Star race in Charlotte.  For Harvick's second place finish, he landed a whopping $9,500. 

I admire racers because most seem to be absolute fanatics about it.  They spend their rest days flying in the corporate jet to little old Iowa Speedway (which by the way held nearly 25k people yesterday) to bang and grind and fling rubber bits all day long...for $9,500.  Heck, even Joey Logano as the winner received a mere $14,300.  (Way below what we guesstimated Matt!)  It's not about the money as much as it is a passion for winning and doing what you love...and money is a nice by-product.  (warning: rule applies to business too).

I think Iowa Speedway has really done things right and the fans get a wonderful short track, close, 3-wide racing experience that is tough to match.  I'd highly recommend the smoked sausage from Kin Folks Bar-b-Que as well but don't tell my trainer that.  Reading blogs yet Steve?



Race Fans - Last Minute Cancellation Open: 1 spot for TODAY's NASCAR East/West Race

I'll bring the ticket with me.
3PM is race start time.  Call my cell if you want it.  714.357.8330.
Harvick just won the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge last night.  Now come see him race in Newton!

My Newton Club Seats Available For Saturday Night At Iowa Speedway

Hi all.  Scheduling doesn't permit us to head out to the ASA Late Model and Super Truck races out at Iowa Speedway Saturday night. (There's a big race Sunday also that I am going to.)  Gates open at noon so you can spend the entire gorgeous day and night out there if you want to. 

Thus, my tickets are available.  These are on the start/finish line in the Newton Club section (middle) and they afford you access to the club, the patio, the Fan Walk (effectively a tram that takes you on the backside of the pits affording you access to the garage area and the backside of the track. 

It's a fantastic experience and I'd recommend ear plugs.

If anyone is interested, they're $35 each and I have 4. (First $100 takes them though)
If you are taking small kids, everyone does need a ticket so no "lap kids", etc.  First come...first served.   Below is the schedule.

Please call my mobile if you're interested and we'll arrange a drop. 714.357.8330

   
2007 Events

   
   
May 19th, Saturday
ASA Late Model Challenge
Presented by TMC and Northland Oil
Super Trucks

Triple 50's
Grandstand Gates Open: Noon
ASA Final Practice Session: 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
USST Final Practice Session: 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM
ASA Qualifying (2 Laps): 3 PM
Pre-Race Concert (Standing Hampton): 3:30 PM - 5 PM
USST Qualifying (2 Laps): 4 PM
NASCAR Practice: 5 PM - 6 PM
ASA Triple 50's Leg 1: 7:15 PM
USST Feature #1 (25 Laps): 8 PM
ASA Triple 50's Leg 2: 8:30 PM
USST Feature #2 (25 Laps): 9:15 PM
ASA Triple 50's Final Leg: 9:45 PM
  Click here for more information
  Click here for entry list
  PRE-RACE CONCERT: STANDING HAMPTON

Dale Jr's Business Decision

If you aren't into racing, leave now and spare yourself.

Unless you've been hiking in the Himalayas, you've heard that Dale Earnhardt Jr., the driver of the DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.as in his dad's company) number 8 Budweiser Chevy, has opted to leave DEI at the end of the season.  This is some of the biggest news in auto racing history. 

The bottom line seems to be that he wanted 51% controlling ownership of his dad's company.  Of course, most folks feel that Dale Earnhardt senior wanted this but he died before the formal plans were laid out.  Dale Jr.'s step mom obviously favors the control more than she desires her step son's driving abilities and the legacy fulfillment that we crave.

Pundits are giving their opinions and most believe this was the right thing to do.  I agree.  This is not about the money.  Dale Jr. has plenty yet still lives in a nice but modest home in NC.  He could probably buy a small island yet opts to race karts and play xbox with his buddies.

He made the same business decision that most of us have faced.  He chose to walk away from a "job" where he would constantly be second guessing his decision to stay.   He opted to feel some short term pain and angst over leaving his "legacy" in favor of creating his own legacy.  I think it was a great move.  It's the same move that entrepreneurs make when they turn down the 24 month massive comp package to go and do their own thing. 

Where will he go race now?  The NASCAR soap opera for men has many story lines to choose from.  If he goes to Hendrick, he'll be partners with Jeff Gordon.  (gasp from the crowd east of the continental divide). Imagine the parties with Budweiser and Jeff Gordon Chardonnay. Would the Gordon hating fans convert? 

If Jr. goes to the Richard Childress racing stable, will they bring back the black #3 car that Jr.'s dad drove?  Imagine the constant comparisons between father and son...and the thrill of seeing that car on the track again!

My belief is that he should go to Childress for 2 years while he builds his own JR Motorsports team infrastructure, but drive his own car and not the #3.  Childress would probably let him have the flexibility to accomplish this goal since he views Dale Jr. as a son anyway.

I can't wait to see how it unfolds.
Like sands through the hourglass...so are the Days of Thunder.

Race Fans Banned From Talladega For Life

Jeffg Love him or hate him, Jeff Gordon is one of the greatest racers of all time.  In fact, he just passed Dale Earnhardt Senior's all time win count...and he did it at Talladega, the racing mecca of the south.  Dale Jr. even instructed his adamant supporters to "throw toilet paper vs. beer cans".  No one listened. 

His car and the track were pelted with everything you can imagine.  I've been to Talladega and experienced those Talladega Nights (my most popular post ever) and I can tell you that the track allows a small cooler with the beverage of your choice to be brought in by each fan.  You can barely get Disneyland to allow water bottles for your kids.  Thus, each member of the "Gordon hater Junior lover" club had a quiver of malted missiles available for post-race shenanigans.  Too bad.  Fans were warned that they'd be arrested and the threat was acted upon.

Fourteen fans were arrested and banned from the track for life. I say good work.  It's time that the fans at Talladega are held a bit accountable but not for the protection of Super Gordon.  There are safety and cost reasons that this behavior cannot be tolerated.  Someone could be pelted in the head with a 12oz bomb and I'm certain that the additional clean up ads hours that will come through in ticket prices eventually. I think the hatred, angst, and general dislike for one driver or another is really good for the sport.  Lord knows I besmirch Tony Stewart whenever possible.  But this violent expression of Southern Gentlemanliness should not be tolerated.

Fans often boo Gordon and flip him the bird from the stands...something I've witnessed personally.  Conversely, there is a strong supporting contingent that cheer him on in spite of the Budweiser toting "brew crew" that love Dale Jr.  In racing, both sides seem to get along on and off track.  Even with more than 100k + fans, I've never even seen a scuffle between the dueling factions.  So let's revel in the drama of NASCAR (soap opera for men).  Get out there and shout some expletives at your driver's nemesis, have a group hug, and sing kumbaya over a 12-er of Miller Lite.

Miller Lite!...I'll never support Kurt Busch you @#[email protected]#%$^&$#


2007 Season Opener - Iowa Speedway

Today is the big day in Newton...the start of the 2007 Iowa Speedway schedule with the Grand AM  KONI Challenge.  I just received a flier from the speedway in the mail offering additional Newton Club tickets (they didn't sell out yet), for about $150 each.  The seats would not be next to ours, but they would provide you full access to the Newton Club (and all of its rights and responsibilities :) including the 10k sq. ft. clubhouse, the patio area, etc.

If anyone wants to have "the best possible racing experience like a true VIP" for any other race, please let me know and I'll forward you the information.  A few NASCAR stars like Kevin Harvick and Mark Martin will be racing at some key events soon.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the BLOGS are BUZZING out there since it was announced that Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey will be racing today.  I'm twittering with anticipation.

Everything's Turning Green In Iowa

On Sunday, Iowa's own Zach Johnson won The Masters.  The entire state is buzzed with excitement and the newspaper plastered the news on the front page: IOWAN WINS MASTERS! 

If any of you have seen Zach Johnson give his interviews or discuss his history, his humble, God fearing, Midwestern roots come shining through.  Even in his moment of glory...the first words he shared with the TV announcers paid homage to his family and to his savior on Easter Sunday. 

Zach Johnson exemplifies traditional Midwest values.  He didn't attend the University of Iowa, become a golf star, and make his way easily onto the tour.  Johnson played for Drake, a small liberal arts college in downtown Des Moines. 

(I really wanted to buy that plot of land to plant my crops but someone got to it first.  I'll go ahead and make the best of this plot just outside of town and with a little extra work, we'll be just fine.)

Zach was only the 2nd or 3rd best on the Drake golf team from everyone's recollection...however anyone interviewed today adds the footnote that Zach, "Made up for whatever skills or polish he lacked with hard work and determination.

(My tractor is a bit rusted and I'm not the best farmer in the state, but I'll work from dawn 'til dusk to ensure our success)

Zach climbed his way through the minor league tour, got his shot, has stuck to his guns, and has now reaped golf's most glorious prize.  When he reached the pinnacle, he gave thanks to those who'd gotten him there and humbly accepted the green jacket.

I'm proud to be an Iowan.







RAGBRAI Confirmed!

  My buddy Luke Manohan just called me and said "I'm in for RAGBRAI".  Actually, he's in for the last few days since he'll just be getting done with a ride ACROSS THE UNITED STATES and can't get here in time to do the whole thing.  Yikes!  Have you ever conceived of riding from say Oregon to Boston?  Want to?  Who'd a thunk there was a way to see America By Bike.  In September, he'll be doing the Oregon to Newport Beach, CA ride so I may find an excuse to visit my former stomping grounds for the last few hundred miles of that. 

I'm in the market for a road bike now too since last year's Mountain Bike adventure nearly killed me.  Granted I have a killer Mt. Bike, it's a very light Trek w/disc brakes and such...but at the end of the day, the riding position and lack of efficiency really got me. (Lack of training was no factor :).  I didn't get any flats...that's for sure.  I did elicit quite a few, "Dude...you're riding a mountain bike on RAGBRAI...woahhhhh".  That made me nervous.  It was not until my left hand was numb for about 4 months that I appreciated their banter.

This year I'm going for the motor home or "chase vehicle" approach.  No more tent crap here.  Last year we ended our trek in Waukee, IA (near my home) and drove to the house about 16 seconds before the sky opened and put on a lightning show that forced all participants into shelters.  I felt as good then as I do when say every flight is canceled except mine...and oh the upgrade came through Mr. Mitchell, Mimosa and a hot towel?...and all we have left today are convertibles and its 72 and breezy.

So, if you're interested in running the last few days of RAGBRAI this year and God willing I get a vehicle pass of my own, and you want to join up, let me know.  This year is supposed to be the flattest on record and that's fine by me. 

Can anyone recommend a stationary bike trainer?  Bike World has a few that look good and I think magnetic is the highest end choice...but I'd love to hear an opinion on what made you happy. 

NASCAR Unleashes Technology To Further Enhance the Brand

48 As the NASCAR nation readies for its Daytona 500 fix, more details are emerging on the technology and coverage enhancements for your viewing pleasure.  Full article in USA Today.

These guys and gals really know how to do things right.  As NASCAR's viewership began to taper a bit last year and new broadcast mediums, marketing channels, and demographics were explored, all parties seemed to spare no expense to ensure growth for the next 10 years. 

Here's a sample of what's deployed this coming season:

  1. 60-75 cameras used to shoot the NASCAR Busch Series races (does the NFL use that many?)
  2. Carl Edwards will act as an "in-car reporter" as he races.
  3. HD In-Car cameras.
  4. 3-D virtual coverage using black box telemetry in real-time with 3 virtual views available including above, behind, and front of cars.
  5. DirecTV is offering 10 "Hot Pass" channels allowing the viewer to see and hear everything from 10 teams per week in a "select a driver" format. 
  6. Sirius is offering 10 in car channels each race as well.
  7. NASCAR.com offers "track pass" where you can get much of this real-time telemetry and team communication via the web.
  8. Finally, you can now purchase Sprint-Nextel's FanView for $415 (or rent one at the track) that give an LCD screen with real-time audio communication from all the team pre-programmed for your convenience.

Now with all of the pre-season cheating drama and all of this glorious technology...I think most NASCAR fans are sweaty and waiting.

Go Jimmie.   

Rally Racing Aficionados...Peep This

Pastrana never stops figuring out stuff to amaze us with.  If you saw his triple motocross flip you surely lost it.  Here's a 160 foot jump in a Subaru Impreza Spec Rally Car.  Oh yeah baby.  I'm sure video exists but here are stills from SpeedTV.

Iowa Speedway...Here We Come!

If you're into racing, you know that Iowa has its very own world class racing facility called the Iowa Speedway.  This track is a 7/8 mile, variable banked, tri-oval.  It was designed and partly funded by the NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace. 

During it's inaugural season, the track had a couple race weekends and a concert.  However, 2007 is packed with 11 events and 3 stand alone concert events TBD.  The track isn't big enough to attract NASCAR Nextel Cup series races...but it could land Truck Series and possibly Busch Series races (two subsets of NASCAR if you're not into the sport) by 2008.  It seats about 22k people now and they have space to bring that number way up if they start selling out.

Yesterday the family and I drove the family out to Newton, Iowa to check it out and to speak with someone about The Newton Club membership options.  This is the speedway's "Country Club" type membership that affords members:  the same great seats for every race, entrance into an air conditioned 10k square foot private club facility with food, beverages, entertainment, etc., a private patio area to mingle, special close up parking, and "front row seating" for their concerts.  The net result.....I DID IT!  I have 4 seats, right on the finish line stripe, for the rest of my life!  Now the family and I (and of course friends) can enjoy my favorite pastime in complete comfort.  See below for my seat location.  If you need to know where I am...I'm at the races baby!  Ka Chowwwwww!  My boy is very excited to visit Lightning McQueen's house on a regular basis....and daddy can't wait to smell the exhaust! 

Race_seats
 

Sunday's are Free Again

I guess my passion for NASCAR is like others passion for football or baseball  Here in Iowa, it's been tough finding rabid race fans.  It's NOT difficult finding Iowa vs. Iowa State fans. Get a Hawkeye and Cyclone fan in the same room and sparks fly for sure. 

This past Sunday, the driver that I've supported and picked as "my driver", Jimmie Johnson of the Lowe's 48 team, won the NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship to end the racing season. This was a glorious moment that I'm still buzzed about.  I've followed JJ since his start in NEXTEL cup...and was there to see his first win at California Speedway back in 2002.  For me, this is up there with Phil Mickelson winning his first major. 

Do you think it's worth Lowe's spending over $100 million a year to sponsor #48?  That tiny sum provides great ROI from everything I've read.  Personally, I spend all of my home improvement DIY dollars at Lowes.  I've likely spent $5k there this year.  I didn't even know where the Home Depot was until my contractor told me.  NASCAR fans have more brand loyalty than anyone else and marketers know this.  My kids wear #48 hats and shirts.  My boy's room has a clock, banner, and die cast cars.  Heck, even my wife has pajamas with the team colors and logo. 

NASCAR fans put their money where their brand is...and in quantities that blow other forms of advertising away.   

Race_021crop

Frustration!

Argh!  I sent this email to the Marketing Manager, Laura Manatt at the Iowa Speedway, our new and wonderful raceway here in Newton Iowa. 

Hi Laura:
Do you have any plans to offer RSS feeds of news and upcoming events on the site? It would extremely helpful and is a great marketing tool.  Thanks for letting me know.

Below is the response I received:

Please sign up for ou fan club out on the website.  We will send you updates from time to time regarding activities out here at the track.

Laura

I understand the response and I'm not angered at it's simplicity and redirect...but it didn't answer my question...and I'm sharing the way in which I'd like to be marketed to!  How valuable is that?  I have signed up for the "Fan Club" already anyway and I've not received jack since I did.  I don't want to sign up again...besides email updates are NOT the preferred method of receiving information for me, nor is it for throngs of hungry bloggers and others that had NO IDEA that NASCAR Nextel Cup teams were practicing at the Speedway today and through this week!  I found out from a friend who visits Jayski.com daily (even though they don't offer feeds...he still goes there religiously which is more than I'd do)  It's so darn simple to capture an additional stream of people's attention if you use a tiny bit of nearly free technology to market yourself. 

Rusty Wallace, please find this post in the blogosphere and get a blog and some RSS feeds going...I want to spend money and attend your facility...but I don't know what's happening there.

Arnold Palmer...Flying High

One of golf's living legends, Arnold Palmer, still flies himself around the U.S. to engage in his golf and business activities.  Palmer says in the Sports Illustrated piece that, "It's a convenience, it's a business tool for me and it's also one that I enjoy doing," Palmer said. "I've been doing it 18,000 hours. That's almost a lifetime in itself."

Every time I go to the airport for a 1 hour flight (I just requalified platinum on American again darn it), I think about becoming a pilot and flying myself.  There's something magical about flight and taking this ultimate responsibility into your hands.  I must say I'm always edgy and nervous on flights and I think that taking my destiny into my own hands could really help that.  After all, who has time to be nervous in the cockpit when one is so busy making sure things are going right, on course, and out of harms way.  I read a blog called Flight Level 390 maintained by a commercial airline pilot.  I'm just drawn to the conversation, decision making, problem solving, and "cool factor" of flying big jets.  If I'm so interested in something...and that something could be a time saver and efficiency tool...then why not do it? 

I'll contemplate this through the holidays as the weather turns cold and I envision getting stuck in a snow storm and using instruments to land while sweating through my clothes.         

Tiger's Mind Control

If you watched most of the World Golf Championship's Bridgestone Invitational over the last 4 days, you saw Tiger Woods step up again and perform complete domination over the field, and execute his 4th straight win.  But sometime during Saturday's round, Tiger had serious issues, posting 4 bogies in a row, something he's not done in 10 years when he had barely turned pro.  Additionally, on Sunday, he struggled at times losing a multi-stroke lead to end up in a playoff with Stewart Cink.

Here's the bottom line.  I believe it was possible yesterday to clearly see the mental intensity that kept Tiger going even when his shots were completely off.  He said something after the 3rd round that I've heard quoted.  I'll paraphrase here...

When my body failed me, my mind kept me going.

Tiger seems to be able to wear competitors down mentally...almost playing mental chicken with them to see who'll blink first.  Until someone comes along that has spent a lifetime cultivating that killer instinct, Tiger will continue to simply allow others to have a comfortable lifestyle while playing golf.

Most amazing to me though is the golf media...pouring gravy all over Tiger about how no one has a chance again, etc.  It wasn't that long ago that those same folks were proclaiming that the field had caught him and that his reign was over.

       

Finally, 2007 takes shape

To My Family:

We're now 100% complete on figuring out our 2007 family schedule.  NASCAR just announced the 2007 race schedule..and the PGA tour has already let us know when the majors are happening.

Love Me.       

Fishing...Dangerous?

Read this story about the ocean angler who's fishing tournament went from good to nearly deadly, "As the 14ft blue marlin leapt out of the water across the vessel and speared Mr Card through the chest with its spiked bill."   I have never been ocean fishing and I may never go now.

Next, read the comments.  The public hath no mercy.

Another NASCAR Home Run

NASCAR is quite possibly the greatest marketing vehicle of all time. Read this piece in the Hollywood Reporter and you'll understand.  It highlights the marketing and product placement coming up in the Will Farrell flick, "Talladega Nights:  The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"

If you think NASCAR is for rednecks, think again.  It's a massive marketing juggernaut that's willing to liberate big dollars from the wallets of those wearing tank tops or top hats.  After seeing this movie, everyone is going to smell like Old Spice...and I'm going to have to switch back to High Karate.

Iowa Is NOT Flat!

I formulated my grand strategy to ride in the U.S's most celebrated bike ride soon after moving to Iowa.  I'd get in shape, see the state that I now call home, and learn how to become comfortable in spandex biking shorts.  The ride is called RAGBRAI, the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. 

Now in its 34th year, RAGBRAI attracts over 15k people from across the United States, and some from other countries.  I personally saw folks from the U.A.E, Italy, and from the most exotic of countries...Southern California.  RAGBRAI is really a melange of stimuli:  25% bike ride, 25% state fair, 25% camping trip, and 25% Mardi Gras.

The ride's route changes annually but it tends to cycle from Northern, to Central, to Southern Iowa.  It begins on the Western half of the state and moves Eastward every time.  The reasoning for this directional choice seems to be a belief (misbelief?) that prevailing winds are Eastward this time of year.  This year the route was through Central Iowa stopping in the town next door to mine.  This gave me an excuse (and probably a life saving one) to stop after the 3rd day versus going the full 7.   The idea is that towns host "stopping points" along the way...some mild some wild.  The big draw of pie and pork chops was not overblown in the media.  Every church and senior center in Iowa prepared delicious pies and a bevy of other food and goodies to keep riders right as rain.

This year, Lance Armstrong decided that he'd been wasting his time all those years by spending July in France.  He rode the last 4 days of RAGBRAI giving talks along the way as an advocate for cancer research spending.  He's committed to doing the entire ride next year and has hinted that he may bring along some celebrity friends.  Surely this will become the Sturgis of the cycling world.  Get ready for Lance-a-pa-looza.

Day 1
54 Miles:  Sergeant Bluff to Ida Grove (Map)

My first day I took special care not to overdo it and try to outrun my ability.  I was warned by the newspaper, websites, and other blogs that the first few days had hills.  If you've only been to Central Iowa, you'd have a tough time believing this as did I.  Much to my chagrin, all of those sources were right.  I often found myself peddling just a bit faster than some were walking their bikes. I refused to get off my machine...opting for granny gear, head down, no talk, sweatiness to reach the next peak. Other times, I was blazing downhill at 35 mph.  This route was balanced.  Ups led to big downs and a cool off and welcomed rest period.  Amazingly, 54 miles went pretty quickly.  I never peddled to exhaustion, rather I seemed to be in cardio heart rate mode for about 8 hours of the 10 it took to get there.  Upon arrival and set up of our campsite, my buddy and I began to find a prone position out of the sun.  Prone yes...out of sun no.  For 4 hours I lay there sweating through clothes and trying to understand my physical condition.  I felt "off"...I had trouble completing thoughts.  I was exhausted mentally and physically.  My water/Gatorade/fruit smoothie consumption was very high all day so I knew I was not dehydrated.  Additionally, I had eaten about 5000 calories to keep me going all day so "bonking" was not an issue. I was simply SPENT of all energy.  Weighing in at a scale tweaking 250lbs on a 6ft. 1in. frame was the core problem and I was paying the price for my penchant for 20oz rib eyes and dipping pizza in bleu cheese dressing.  We spent a night of tossing and turning in my 2 man tent trying to find comfort in the hot Iowa night.  Rain drops cooling my skin at 5AM woke me and day 2 was on.



Day 2
77 Miles: 
Ida Grove to Audubon (map)

I will never forget this day.  Just the ride out of town began with leg paralyzing hills that never seemed to go back down.  This day provided the most feet of elevation climb of all.  Top this off with a stiff headwind that was gusting to at least 20 mph.   A rider's reward for this hilly pursuit was a robbery of downhill speed and rest due to wind resistance.  There was little conversation between main stopping towns, only pain and sweat.  Riders cursed under their breath.  A man from Illinois was heard saying, "Does Iowa have a headwind in every direction? #[email protected]#%$$%@"  There was simply no relief.  We began this day at 6:30AM and arrived at our destination town at a little before 8PM.  I had spent 10+ hours on a bike and had the redness to prove it (in more than one spot).  Again I had more trouble moving, thinking, and doing.  Another buddy of mine Tom met us at the campground that night, hooking up so we could do the last leg together.  We had a couple of beers, walked the town square, ate as much as possible and headed back to our mobile domicile.  At 1AM, I woke again, scrambling along with many other campers to put our rain fly on. It looked clear when going to bed and the forecast was for "partly cloudy skies".  That's Iowa speak for "It could downpour but we really don't know."  I should have gone with my gut but my body and mind would not execute.  After some frustration we simply draped the rain fly over the tent and by then, the rain had stopped. We woke at 6AM and began to tear down.  On the way out of town, we were again met with grinding hills.  Gerard quipped, "Is every town in Iowa built in a sink hole expletive expletive expletive!"

 







Day 3
68 Miles: 
Audubon to Waukee (map)

Ah the home stretch but not so fast.  This day like all others began with more hills.  Mike legs ached and burned as though I'd been riding for over 100 miles.  Just getting to the outskirts of the town where breakfast was being served hurt badly. A raspberry white chocolate latte and some muffins procured from the local Methodist Church and we were on our way.  Tom was fresh and spry but that would all change.  The route notes indicated that the first 26 miles of this 68 mile day were as hilly as before..but HUZZAH!!!, the wind had subsided a bit and there was little net elevation change, i.e. downhills follow uphills that allowed for rest.  The first 26 miles didn't pack the severe punch of day 2 but tell that to "The new guy", Tom.  Eight miles into this day, Tom's bike somehow broke a spoke and we spent nearly 40 minutes at the mobile bike repair station getting a new wheel.  Imagine a corn field, a bunch of bike riders, and a truck with everything one needs to get fixed up.  What a sight.  The prices were exactly what you'd pay in their shop too.  Thanks to good Midwestern values and a desire to help its fellow man, the bike shop got us on our way again with no complaints.  At about mile 40, Tom began to get annoyed with Gerard and I.  His physical discomfort was obvious, no longer praising his cycling shorts and seat for comfort, rather cursing most things including Gerard and I for "Just leaving him behind, etc."  I recognized this behavior since I had done it with Gerard the day before.  Step 1, anger.   We began to pace each other, trading off the lead position, and began to make some progress.  The last 20 miles or so were FLAT.  Even with our energy stores depleted, we could maintain a 15mph pace.  Oh the joy!  If Tom had moved past the anger into acceptance, I think we really could have cruised.  I had energy again...the inevitable boost one receives from knowing they're nearing the end.  This leg ended on my "home trail" west of my town of Clive.  I felt like a confident tour guide at this point, sharing my local knowledge with Gerard.  My wife called and arranged to meet me along the route with the kids.  As we got closer, Gerard and Tom pulled back in true Tour de France style allowing me to bask in the glory of my home town.  They gave me my moment.  Approaching the mini-van, I saw the kids and they were holding signs!  The signs read "Go Daddy" and had hand prints all over them.  If not for the emotional exhaustion of the ride I surely would have crumbled and wept.  In an instant my pain and strife were gone and I'm standing in front of my beautiful wife and children. The thoughtfulness of my wife never ceases to amaze me and I'm truly blessed to have her.  After plentiful hugs, kisses, and greetings from fellow riders, we set out to reach the final destination.  We arrived, met the wives, loaded our gear, and it began to downpour.  Mother nature winked at me just then and put a tick mark in the Doug column.  That night as lightning lit the sky and thunder rumbled across the heartland, we broke bread together (topped with cheese, sauce, and toppings) and had plenty of liquid bread (beer) to nourish our bodies.  We sat around and told tall tales of our adventure while the kids played..and life was good. 

Although our bodies were weak, our spirits had already been lifted by friendship, love, and the buzz from achieving a physically and mentally demanding goal. I hadn't felt that physical sense of accomplishment in a very long time and I'm craving it again already.  Bring on the hills.  Bring on RAGBRAI 2007!

 

Marketing the Master

I'm a big golf fan, and during the Open Championship today, I saw the Nike Swing Portrait commercial.  It caught my attention, made me stop cold in my tracks (I am watching on my PCTV and was typing away), and brought chills down my spine.  I could feel the grace and power of Tiger's swing and this advertisement conveyed it expertly.  The call to action at the end of the message was simply a web address that went to immediately to re-watch this piece.  Here, the ad highlights all of Tiger's gear, clubs, etc.  The commercial was shot using a military technology digital imaging system that can take 4000 digital images per second.  Sit back and experience Nike's (or Nike's agency's) excellence...and don't forget the box of tissue to dab your eyes.) Put your credit cards at least 50 feet away so you don't immediately start buying Nike equipment on line.

Click here then select your mode, then start the commercial.  It's self-explanatory.  Turn your speakers up.

Lefty's Regression Analysis

Yesterday, we saw Phil Mickelson implode on one of the toughest courses in US Golf major history.  Going into the last 3 holes, Phil had a 2 shot lead.  He could have literally limped home like I play with lay ups and wedges.  Phil did no such thing.  Phil wasted numerous shots trying to be the "shot maker" versus "taking your medicine" like Johnny Miller says.  This was a flashback to the Old Phil.  The old Phil took chances and tried to win majors his way.  His way involves magical shots, taking chances, and abandoning traditional course management for a blast away mentality.  His 3 major wins showed a side of Phil that harnessed his talent into a winning strategy.  What we saw yesterday was a regression to the Phil that was the best pro to not win a major.  It was actually sad to see it.  It's as though Phil knew he was doing it...but couldn't help it.

The entire tournament is a testament to Phil's skill.  He can fire away with his errant driver at will...and recover somehow to make pars.  His talent is indisputable.  His decision making will either give him 20 more majors...or leave him pulling his hair out and shaking his head as his did on 18 last night. 

This is the ruling of the century for most golfers I know

The Hawaii state supreme court has ruled that a golfer cannot be held liable for hitting another golfer with an errant golf shot...and you're not required to yell FORE as long as you don't have intent (or a bet to see if you could actually do it for example).

FORE!

Iowans and NASCAR

As an Iowan, NASCAR fan, and a dreamer who would give anything to spend a week as a crew member on a team, I was happy to see an article on Foxsports.com tonight that highlighted some Iowans who's Midwestern dedication has paid off..putting them on winning teams and living the NASCAR life.

This article took a bit of the glamour away from the job, but it didn't cure me.
Dream on.

Those Talladega Nights

Part Mardi Gras…part trailer park…that’s the best way to describe my experience. I’ve just returned from a weekend spent camping outside the Talladega super speedway. The race was rained out but I did get to see the last 6 laps on an airport TV in Dallas

…just in time to see my favorite driver Jimmie Johnson win yet another race.

Visiting Talladega is something that is now “checked off the list” of things I’d like to do before I die. The Louvre just moved up a notch now that I’ve experienced Those Talladega Nights

 

The camp

I didn’t just get tickets to see the race, I communed with 250,000 other red blooded American’s who are not afraid to wear tank tops and say what’s on their minds. My campground was slightly upscale (you had to pay about $130 for it). It provided grass on top of the red mud, port-a-potties that were cleaned daily (not early enough in the morning for us early risers), and an easy walk to the track. I was lucky enough to be invited by some friends and colleagues who provided my ticket, and the “couch” to sleep on in Uncle Bubba’s motor home (No names have been changed to protect the innocent or enhance this story’s appeal. He’s really called Bubba.) We ate hot wings, smoked sausages, and drank copious light beers with brands I’ve not seen since my fraternity days and below poverty level annual income. I made the time to enjoy 4 cigars during my stay which pleased me greatly. In
Alabama, cigar smoking is still allowed outdoors at campsites with 300 campfires burning simultaneously. Try that in California. There are multiple campgrounds around with names like “Sodom
and Gomorrah” and “Wazoo”. The free sites resembled a blend of Mardi Gras and Spring Break. I saw a few things there that I’m still trying to forget….and about every 15 minutes on cue, someone would scream “wooooooooooooooooooo…….’Dagaaaaaaaaaaa” in their best party voice.

The Track

Talladega Super speedway is immense. At 2.66 miles, it’s the largest of the NASCAR tracks. Since I’d been to California speedway (2.0 miles around) I had a good idea of the scope of this track. It’s THAT MUCH Bigger to behold. During our 3 hours at the track, we endured on and off rain and wind gusts that probably hit 30mph. Small beer coolers are allowed, so literally everyone there had a can in hand. (authors note: I don’t think I saw a single regular full strength beer the entire weekend. All of it was Light beer. The volume of consumption must be the mitigating factor to help amass the incredible mid-sections I was forced to endure. No sexism here. Beer bellies do not discriminate between man and woman.) People all around were joking, laughing, and sparring about their driver being the best and Jeff Gordon being a (fill in foul words here).

 
The People

This will be my favorite section to write because it comes from the heart. The people at these camp sites around the race in Alabama are good people. I saw only a few raging mullets (One guy was a ringer for Dog the Bounty Hunter) but there were plenty of red necks and tank tops. One hirsute gentleman could have actually been the Sasquatch in the famous video we’ve all seen on the Discovery Channel. Aside from the visual spectacle, these are some of the nicest people you’ll meet. No one treated me different even though I talked funny and like Jimmie Johnson. Through all of the “Tony Stewart sucks” calls, no one got rowdy or took offense. Everyone kept their sense of humor and good nature. Typically, a case of beer per person does not inspire such passivity…but Talladega Nights seemed to bring out the best in everyone.

Next stop is California speedway for sushi and chardonnay.

Fan View, What Tobacco Didn't Do For NASCAR

When Nextel (now Sprint/Nextel and soon to be just Sprint) took over from Winston as the premier sponsor of NASCAR, I knew that this was going to be good.  I expected driver themed phones and the "Dale Jr. airtime plan".  But they've hit a homerun with Fan View, a personal viewing device, race scanner, in-car camera monitor.  This device rounds out the "Total NASCAR Experience" and makes those times when "They're just turning left in a circle" far more interesting.

Last 3 of 9

Phil Mickelson won his 2nd Masters Championship yesterday and his 3rd major in his last 9 attempts.  So, right now, Phil is literally winning 1 of every 3 majors he tries. 

Not so long ago, the discussion was the he was "0 for 42 in majors".  My how quickly we change our tune. 

Phil has figured out the recipe for winning in majors and that's steadiness...not 1 or 2 brilliant shots.  But most importantly, he did it on his own time without giving much credence to what the reporters would say after his "devastating defeats".  He's one of the winningest players around, is nearly always at the top of the money list, has a seemingly fantastic family, and plays golf for a living.  I'd say he "Won a Major" victory a long time ago.  These are just icing on the Mickelson cake.

I still believe that him winning his first Masters is the sporting highlight of my life.  I was driving in a car, watching on a 1-inch LCD TV, on the way into the Des Moines metro area...and I literally screamed like a little kid. 

Isn't golf wonderful...you can play until you're well past the prime of any other career, then start another career (Senior Tour/Champions Tour)..then just keep modifying your swing until you can't swing anymore period if that even happens.  We saw yesterday that the last surviving player from the first Masters ever is 95 and still plays.  He looks like he's in his 70's (compliment). 

If I could travel w/my family the entire time...I'd like to be in the top 50 lets say and you know...somewhere like 100th on the money list.  I could squeak by living in Des Moines.