Saturday, January 31, 2009

Super Bowl Predictions

No. 82 gas man Mike Metcalf was nearly spot on in predicting last year’s Super Bowl. He called for the streaking New York Giants to take down the mighty New England Patriots 24-21. The actual final score was 17-14.

So what does Metcalf, a former college football player at Appalachian State University, think about Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIII between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals?

“The Cardinals have decent talent,” Metcalf noted. “They have one star receiver, but if the Steelers can get Troy Polamalu to shadow Larry Fitzgerald, their receiving game is done. And if Pittsburgh can stop the run, it’s over.”

Metcalf’s final? Pittsburgh 24-14.

Here’s more Super Bowl analysis from Red Bull Racing Team:

Scott Speed, driver, No. 82: “I went to my first NFL game a couple weeks ago when the Panthers played the Cardinals in the playoffs. The Panthers lost really bad because Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught everything that got thrown in the sky. I’m pulling for the Cardinals to win the Super Bowl for sure. Fitzgerald is the man — he has sticky fingers. I don’t like the Steelers, not for any particular reason, I just don’t like them. I think they’re bullies.”

Jay Frye, vice president and general manager: “The Cardinals are scary. They’re playing well and have nothing to lose because no one thought they would make it this far. Both quarterbacks have won Super Bowls before. The smart money says take Pittsburgh. That’s why I am going with the Cardinals and the points.”

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tour Hits the Tables

Red Bull Racing Team entertained NASCAR scribes and TV personalities in style during Wednesday night’s media tour event in Concord, N.C.

It was the team’s first spot on the tour, which is held annually and gives media members a chance to meet, greet and chat with drivers and team personnel. And, in this year’s case, gamble at a casino.

After a 2008 season-in-review video clip, sit-down dinner of steak and snapper and one-one-ones with Brian Vickers and Scott Speed in Red Bull cabanas, room G at the Embassy Suites came alive with music, cards, craps and roulette.

Casino night, it must be noted, was for amusement only, and the proceeds from those who bought back in after losing their fake money went to charity.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Terrain Takes Out Sainz

Red Bull athlete Carlos Sainz, a two-time world rally champion, abandoned the Dakar Rally after his Volkswagen careened into a ravine during Thursday’s 12th stage.

The Spaniard (pictured above) had won six stages this year, including the previous four, and held a sizeable advantage entering the 159-mile trek to La Rioja, Argentina. Sainz, driving with French co-pilot Michel Perin, was not seriously injured and was taken by helicopter to the stage’s starting point in Fiambala.

Red Bull, however, still has strong representation in the South American edition of the Dakar.

Sainz’s Red Bull Volkswagen teammates, South African Giniel De Villiers and American Mark Miller, sit 1-2 in the overall car standings, with Miller less than three minutes behind. In the bike category, Spain’s Marc Coma leads France’s Cyril Despres by less than 90 seconds. Both are Red Bull-backed KTM riders.

Only two cross-country stages remain, with Friday’s stage 13 running from La Rioja to Cordoba. The Dakar ends where in started, in Buenos Aires — the first time the event has left the deserts of West Africa.

For results, visit

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mad Science in the Lab

Right about now, Red Bull Racing Team usually sets up shop in Daytona for the second week of preseason testing. But because NASCAR put the kibosh on all official testing and teams have agreed to stay away from race tracks on their own, RBRT is bringing the test to Mooresville.

“We’re always going to try to get better. That’s just the nature of the business,” said John Probst, the team’s technical director. “If you can’t go track testing, you find other ways to do it. You bring the track to the race team.”

The track, in this case, is building No. 3 on the campus of Red Bull Racing Team. Probst prefers the building be called “the lab” because it houses all sorts of fancy, multi-million dollar gadgets that make the Red Bull Toyotas go fast. Now more than ever in the lab and the adjacent engineering offices, more emphasis has been placed on aerodynamics, simulation, dynos and the seven-post shaker rig to test the handling of Daytona or the tricky transitions of Charlotte.

“We used to answer a couple of questions at the track,” Probst noted. “One was if new parts will last. The next question was is the part better. The ‘will-it-last’ question we’ve moved to the lab. I don’t think by any means people are going to stop developing parts. The answers are going to come from the testing you do in the lab.”

Track bar mounts, track bars, spindles, lower control arms, truck arms, chassis — all are under the durability gun in the lab.

“We don’t have time to put 1,500 miles on everything before we say, ‘Go ahead and run this on a race weekend,’” Probst said. “We’ll have it on the seven-poster and run five Bristols or whatever it might be before we release it to the team.”

The lab, however, is insufficient in one area.

“You can’t duplicate the race environment,” Probst said. “We’re not banging up cars here, hitting cars, scraping walls. You can’t predict that sort of thing.”

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Jamaicans Race at Dover

JUST OUTSIDE OF BROWN’S TOWN, Jamaica — Anyone who’s crammed into a tour bus and dared the roads of Jamaica knows that driving is no joke down there. Overtaking is allowed wherever a driver deems safe — in the oncoming lane to the right, on the shoulder to the left or simply in the gravel. Side view mirrors sometimes graze pedestrians’ ears while chickens, goats and wild dogs scramble for cover.

So it comes as no surprise that they race cars in Jamaica, and the island nation holds one race track called Dover Speedway. It’s nothing like the high-banked, concrete oval stuck in the middle of Delaware, but a 1.6-mile road course halfway into the hills.

With Bull Rider sitting shotgun with bus driver Paul Garvey, we took a trip up from the coast, and Dover Speedway was our first stop. Expecting a rinky-dink track where they ride pedal bikes, Dover Speedway was pretty impressive.

We navigated nasty roads to get there, and upon entrance, there was a sign saying “No Infield Parking.” Weeds and grass grew up in parking lots, and the gate was wide open. Nobody was there because the most recent race was last October.

The racing surface was decent. Sometimes smooth, sometimes choppy, sometimes gravel, sometimes dirt. The safety was abysmal. Seems like Jamaicans sacrifice health for speed around the road course. There were tire barriers, nearly 20 turns, elevation changes and an upward corkscrew. There were two crossover walkways — one sporting a Toyota banner. There was a garage, much like the average Saturday night short track.

Jamaicans part of the JRDC (Jamaican Race Drivers Club) battle in souped-up cars from Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Mitsubishi, among the many other foreign automakers. They race hard, too.

For a race lap, click here. For an all-alone lap, do the same.