Wednesday, 14 January 2009

My tribute to Nelson Piquet Sr

(I wrote this for a competition being held on RLB. It asked for a roleplay in tribute to Nelson Piquet Sr, so here it is and I hope you enjoy!)

Look about the Formula 1 paddock and all you really see are drivers who are never really interested in the media or do nothing but working with and for them just to keep the sponsors happy. Nowadays, drivers don’t seem to have a real sense of personality or humour about them. Some do, but decide never to show it when they’re at work. Kimi Raikkonen is a classic case in point. So where have all these characters gone? What happened to them all? Sponsors is what happened to them. That and a hectic schedule of briefings and track time. Back in the days some 20-25 years ago, drivers were at least allowed to show off a lighter side to their role. And no-one did or ever has done it better than Nelson Piquet.

This man who could not only drive fast but also probably make it as a comedian is known as one of Brazil’s finest ever talents to grace a racing car. But even growing up, it was never easy. His father was strongly against him taking up a career in motorsport so in order to hide it he chose to race under his mother’s maiden name purposely misspelt so he could develop his skills without him finding out. But that’s not what we remember him for. That does beg the question – what is it about this charismatic clown from Sao Paulo that will stick in our minds forever and be the first that comes through when his name is spoken?

His racing career was certainly one to be highly accredited for. His rise from karting through the lower formulas to a drive with Mo Nunn’s Tissot-backed Ensign was meteoric. The initial effort one weekend in Germany in 1978 got him a few races in a private McLaren before Bernie Ecclestone offered the young gun a ride at the last race of the year in the BT46 Brabham. This transformed into a 7 year long partnership that would bring Nelson 2 of his 3 titles. The amazing Gordon Murray-designed BT52 was one of the most difficult and powerful F1 cars of all time, yet Piquet made it look as easy as driving a hatchback. To be fair, driving a car that has a power to weight ratio of almost 3000hp/tonne is something that would probably scare any normal person to death. But not Nelson. After Brabham came Williams and title number 3 in 1987. His achievement put him in that prestigious elite group of drivers who have won the crowd at least 3 times. But that’s not what we remember him for.

He raced alongside and against the some of the greatest of his era – Lauda, Villeneuve, Prost, Senna, Mansell, Rosberg, Schumacher. He was sometimes one for rivalry, particularly that 2 year grudge with “our Nige”. Reportedly making bad remarks about his wife with Mansell returning with the same against his. Who can forget the dummy Nelson was sold by Nigel at Silverstone ’87 for the home race hero to claim the win the whole country wanted. He won the battle that day, but Nelson won the war. What about the fist fight with Salazar at Hockenheim, the way he added a karate kick in there for good measure. His exploits back in 1981 where he produced his first title – at the last round by a single point. He was always quite an exciting driver to watch. The way he could storm to the front and sometimes completely dominate a race. One moment on the racetrack that always sticks is that unbelievable manoeuvre on Senna at Turn 1 at the Hungaroring in 1986 around the outside. The way the Williams-Honda’s rear end squirmed sideways under braking, Nelson staying cool. He truly was a driver to be feared. But that’s not what we remember him for either.

No. What sticks in our minds about him was unbelievable charisma. The way he would joke around in the pitlane with the other drivers. Getting into a prank war with one of the mechanics at Williams, such as rewiring the windscreen wash to come through the dash. Having his expensive shoes filled with food, only to have the guy's own superglued to the side of the team transporter. He was always one to be smiling and making funny faces when the camera was on him. Whether it be being interviewed after his ’87 Imola shunt or in the drivers briefing, he would always bring out the cheeky little boy in him. He was always joking around. Wearing one shoe on the podium after winning the 1984 Canadian GP because he had a blister. Collapsing from exhaustion on the top step after winning a race. Making fun of Alain Prost by bending his nose to look like the Frenchman’s while being interviewed. Making bunny ears and trying to hug Jean-Marie Balestre on the ’91 USA GP podium. Fooling around with Murray Walker and Mansell while the BBC commentator tried to record the intro of the TV coverage.

These are all little things that make an everlasting impression on us. When you see the group photo of Prost, Senna, Mansell and Nelson, the latter was always the one who would seem to be enjoying himself the most. Sure, the latter part of his career wasn’t as successful as before, but it doesn’t matter. Seeing Nelson with a cheeky smile on his face would bring even the most downbeat person in the paddock to do the same. As we’ve asked at the beginning, why can’t there be more personalities like this in the F1 world now? Why does everything have to be so serious? If they want to know how to inject a little fun into the pitlane, perhaps they can look to the past and see how it was done – the Piquet way.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Holy Smokes....Toyota?

With Ferrari launching their brand new car for the 2009 season, the F60, we now have our first official championship contender unveiled for the world to see. Next comes Toyota, and judging by their launch page, is it going to be a case of living up to the hype or failing to reach expectations?

I was directed to the "TF109 Premiere" page which features a dramatic looking background featuring clouds emblazoned across a sunset and a striking silhouette of what looks to be the TF108 rushing towards the screen. A timer counting down towards the official launch of their 2009 car finishes the page, but it does kind of leave you wondering - what does it all mean?

Are they just looking for attention? Or could it really be the signal of something big about to happen? The way the silhouette looks suggests there could be another Toyota-Batman tie-in. If some of you don't remember, the team joined up with the new Batman movie The Dark Knight for a promotional stunt involving their F1 and the Batmobile at Silverstone before and during the British GP. Both vehicles ran on track together prior to the race weekend for a promotional display and the TF108 featured black rear wing endplates and aerodynamic side pieces (or whatever they're called!) with the Batman logo on them. It did seem overall a rather pointless stunt. But could this be the sign of a new movie for the franchise and a new partnership. If it is, you'd be wise to expect Batman and Robin running round changing tyres.

We've seen news stories with Toyota pledging their future to Formula 1, targeting perfect reliability and claiming Timo Glock will be the key to their further development and progression up the grid. How they've decided to interpret the new for 2009 aero regulations remains to be seen, but we do know their KERS system will not be expected any sooner than mid-way through the season. Judging by how Ferrari's car looks after today, it would be wise not to expect anything too pretty. One thing which would be welcome though is a different paint scheme. Since 2002, their car has looked virtually the same up to this point. Please Toyota, do something different! Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing them become Lexus and going with something striking in black and gold. Now that for me would look awesome.

What are your thoughts and expectations on what Toyota have up their sleeve? Will we see a radical interpretation of the rules from Japan? Will we get anything better looking than what we've had so far? And will they ever change that livery?

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

RLB - Taking a stroll down the grid

"Wow, look at those crowds" was the first thing to come to mind as I walked out of the AGR pitbox and up towards the grid. The sun was beating down, warming up my overalls which were already making me quite hot due to the many layers of fireproof material. Clutching my helmet with gloves and balaclava inside and HANS device in one hand and a drinks bottle in the other, I wander down the paddock, my attention is caught my the many flags and banners waving in the gentle breeze. The atmosphere at a place like this simply has to be seen and experienced to be believed. The fans who come here year in, year out are some of the most devoted and die-hard Indy supporters you could ever meet.

I acknowledge a few people as I near the gap in the wall which opens up to the pit apron and then across from that the main pitwall where the circuit lays just beyond it. As I cross, I look to my right and see the blue and white car of Ryan Carter. He gives me a scathing glare as he goes by, obviously still bitter after the exchange we had before qualifying. Walking out on the circuit to find my car, a cheer from the stand goes up. I wave to them to show my appreciation. It's only fair to do that. These people give up their weekends to come and watch 20 cars and 20 drivers run round in circles for 200 laps, so saying thanks that way at least gives me satisfaction.

I find Bradley, my race engineer who came over from Force India with me, making some final checks on his laptop. He tells me everything is good to go and the car has a clean bill of health so to speak. That's what I like to hear. I take a sip from my drinks bottle and set my things down on the sidepod. From the corner of my eye I notice Daryl Wickham, my fellow compatroit from Norwich coming over.

Daryl: Sup bitch.
Scott: What's goin' on, slag.
Daryl: You know I'm starting behind you right?
Scott: Yeah I know. Hopefully you'll stay there for all 200 laps.
Daryl:Me? Stay behind you? You crack me up sometimes, Wiss.
Scott: Nice to know someone finds me funny for something.
Daryl: So what's your strategy?
Scott: Run on one set of tyres for 200 laps and just come in for fuel all day.
Daryl: Good luck with that then. You know that's impossible.
Scott: I know. I that's why I'm giving you a fake strategy to throw you off.
Daryl: You b**tard, Wiss.

I laugh as Daryl walks back to his car and take another sip of drink. Daniel then runs over for a chat.

Daniel: Hey Scott.
Scott: Sup Daniel my teammie *we shake hands*
Daniel: How's your car running?
Scott: Brad says it's all good in the hood here. What's the deal with yours?
Daniel: Same, same. Strategy's all set then.
Scott: Oh yeah, I'm all set.
Daniel: Good good. What do you reckon our chances are today?
Scott: I say we're gonna smoke 'em all and get a 1-2.
Daniel: Sounds like a plan. Catch you out there.

Before I get a chance for another swig of drink, one of the ESPN pit reporters comes over and asks for a chat.

Reporter: Scott, you're starting 5th, what are your chances?
Scott: Yeah I think where we are on the grid gives us a great chance to go for the win. Top 5 is where you want to be and I'm there so I'm happy.
Reporter: What kind of strategy are you looking to run today?
Scott: We've decided on something that's for sure. *smiles*
Reporter: Can you tell us anything about it?
Scott: *smiling* Errr, it's top secret. You'll have to wait and see.
Reporter: Before qualifying yesterday you had an altercation with Ryan Carter who starts 18th. Can you tell us any more on that?
Scott: No, not really. I don't want to go into that if you please.
Reporter: 'K, thanks Scott. Good luck today.

Man, am I busy with people today or what? Can't get a chance to relax. Sure enough, I don't. Over the tannoy the words "Would all drivers please get into their cars" is heard. Ah well, it's showtime!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Prepare to Launch

The off-season. When it comes around at the end of every season, from November to March it's normally seen as a hive of activity for all the teams down the F1 pitlane in order to assess new drivers, cars and regulations. Or in some cases, rather the lack of. So far on this occasion, the only notable things to talk about have been the 3-way driver shootout at STR and the new regulations for this year especially regarding the new wings. In most cases, the reaction to them has been a negative one. Quite substantial at that.

Although, let's continue on with the theme of the new regulations. today revealed that Ferrari will be launching their new car next week, followed by Toyota and McLaren with Renault, Williams and BMW Sauber hot on their heels. We also have a date for Red Bull who have said their 2009 challenger will been unveiled at Jerez on February 9th. As for the remaining teams - not a dickie bird. But to be fair apart from Force India, the other two teams are already occupied with other things to be concerned with.

So, what has each team been up to so far in the period between post-Brazil and pre-Melbourne?

McLaren - Most recently the Woking-based team have been testing alongside Ferrari at the brand new Algarve International Circuit. Before that, they became the 3rd team to unveil a 2009-spec piece of aero with a new nose and front wing. What they will do with their rear wing remains to be seen. Have also been testing their KERS system via Gary Paffett.

Ferrari - Nothing in terms of new aero pieces but they have been sighted running an F2008 with large sculpted hums around the cockpit which was said to be a temporary housing for their KERS system. Reports have said they struggling with the development from theirs.

BMW - What haven't they been doing?! Officially the first team to be running as full a 2009 car as possible without giving everything away. Their front wing, however, does seem overly large compared to those from other teams so far. Also running a flat-edged raised nose and the tall rear wing. KERS development has been continuous and strenuous at every test so far with plenty of testing miles achieved.

Renault - Nothing much to report from France. No new parts have been announced or seen from them. Piquet and Alonso have both been on track in testing working on 2009 aerodynamic data and also developing their KERS system. How far along they are with it remains to be seen.

Toyota - Have been seen performing at tests, but informed us early on their KERS won't be ready until halfway through this season. Still, they've partaken in some development testing of it. Again, no 2009 aero parts seen from them as of yet.

Toro Rosso - Their focus has been on selecting their drivers. Sebastiens Buemi and Bourdais and Takuma Sato have been locked in a 3 way duel for the two race seats. Buemi has been all but confirmed bar an official announcement but all the signs are pointing to an obvious outcome. As for the other drive, Sato is looking likely to be sat alongside the young Swiss. Although between a couple of F1 fans I know, that would see that as the wrong choice. Their car? Well, just look at Red Bull's is all.

Red Bull - Vettel and Buemi have been behind the wheel 9 times out of 10 due to an unfortunate accident for Webber during the Tasmania Challenge in which a head-on collision with an SUV saw him break his leg. He's expected to be fully fit for Melbourne though, so a speedy recovery is wished to him. Apart from that, it's pretty much the norm - no new aero parts and a small portion of KERS development.

Williams - Officially revealed the first 2009 spec wings to the F1 world. They've done a lot of running with them alongside BMW. Haven't heard very much about their KERS system although logic dictates they'll get Toyota's as well. Could be disadvantaged due to their mid-season delay however.

Force India - Has been some kind of hoorah about their drivers. Speculation included Pedro de la Rosa and Paul di Resta taking over from Sutil and Fisichella. Mallya also pulled the preverbial rabbit out of the hat by forming a technical partnership with McLaren to be supplied with Mercedez-Benz engines, transmissions, electronics and KERS. A lot of slick tyre testing but nothing in terms of aero.

Honda - Well what else can you say about them? Promised so much throughout last year boasting they would spend the whole of 2008 concentration on 2009, and then comes the shock announcement they are pulling out. Buyers have been speculated including Mexican Carlos Slim and David Richards. An insider to the team, however, has said the deal to save the team has been done and an announcement is expected sometime soon, probably this week if not the next.

So for some teams, it's all about 2009 and adjusting to the new regulations and trying new things out. Every team at some point has run the new specification Bridgestone slicks and more than half the field has developed KERS on track. Only 3 teams have revealed and begun testing 2009-spec wings and BMW is the closest to running a full 2009 car already. Teams like Ferrari, Renault and Toyota are keeping their cards very, very close to their chest as we have yet to see what their interpretation of the rules will be. Nevertheless, it's going to be a busy couple of weeks for the press reporters.

RLB - The said confrontation (Indy)

(Just to make it clear, this isn't real. It's just something I wrote to go along with my qualifying RP for Indianapolis. Also, even though it's blanked out, there is a bit of bad language.)

Scott: *shouts* Hey Carter!
*Ryan looks over*
Scott: *shouts* Get over here.
*Ryan dispondantly walks over ignoring the request to "leave it" by team boss Kalvin Filarski*
Ryan: What do you want?
Scott: I just wanted to say what everyone else hasn't been able to.
Ryan: Oh yeah and what's that?
Scott: Change your attitude, Ryan. It stinks.
Ryan: What?!
Scott: You heard.
Ryan: Where the f*** do you get off saying that to me?
Scott: I watched you towards the media. I've seen you in the paddock. The way you act, it's like you don't care how serious this business is.
Ryan: F*** you man, you don't know me.
Scott: Wouldn't want to either.
Ryan: Hey if you don't like it, you can get lost, a**hole.
*Scott begins to walk away*
Scott: Just don't come crying to me when that attitude of yours makes you incompotent.
Ryan: What the f*** did you say?!
Scott: You see? What I'm talking about happening right in front of me. You get angry too easily, Carter. You need to control yourself better. Otherwise, no-one will want you. You'll be all washed up.
Ryan: Hey, I have more points than you. That means I'm the better driver. You got that?
Scott: 8 points ahead. That's nothing. It's how you act as a driver that matters, just as much as how you perform. Though looking at you, I'm thinking you're more focused on whether you're inbred or not.
*Ryan grabs Scott by his overalls*
Ryan: Alright, that's it! You and me, right now, punk!
Scott: If I was a punk, I'd listen to Sum 41. Now get your hands off me, would you?
Ryan: What? You too chicken to fight?
Scott: No, I'm just not that stupid.
*Members of Forsythe pull Ryan off and hold him back*
Ryan: Get the f*** off me!
Forsythe Mechanic: Leave him, Ryan. He's not worth it.
Scott: Hmph, typical Americans. Can't resolve a problem by talking so they have to use their fists.
*Scott begins to walk away, but stops*
Scott:...And another thing - lose the cap. You're not 10 years old. Although sometimes, it's hard to tell.
*Ryan tries to go after him but is held back. Scott walks off while Ryan is ushered off, still red with anger.*

RLB - Top 10 for AGR despite Woodwiss-Carter confrontation

Qualifying for tomorrow's Indianapolis 500 will see only two teams have both cars starting inside the top 10. Vision Racing is one of them and the other will be the home team Andretti Green Racing. Although it could so easily have been different for AGR after team driver Scott Woodwiss was seen getting into an altercation with Forsythe Racing's Ryan Carter.

Woodwiss has been quoted in press conferences as saying he isn't a fan of the British-American driver's attitude as a whole and insiders from both teams tell us this was the subject at hand during the said confrontation. Nevertheless, it didn't seem to affect Scott as he firmly put his Lola-Honda 5th on the grid for the classic 500-miler. Carter, however didn't seem to have recovered from it too well as a major mistake on his first lap seriously damaged any hopes of a good starting place and he will start from 18th. The second AGR Lola of Daniel Quick also showed speed, although not as much as he had done in practice, and planted himself 9th.

Scott Woodwiss:
"5th is brilliant for myself and the team, we've really worked hard as you know to keep the car in top form off the back of our 2nd place in Nazareth and so far it's going all to plan. I had a small slip on the 2nd lap when the rear end slid out wide coming off Turn 2, but nevertheless an excellent result. I'm happy that Daniel could join me in the top 10 and I hope we'll both have good races tomorrow."

"As you guys probably will have seen, there was an exchanging of words between myself and Ryan (Carter). Basically, I just told him what I've been saying about him before and that was to rethink how his attitude is perceived by others. I remember when I tried acting all high and mighty like that and it only got me into trouble. Still, it's his choice whether to ignore it or not, I was just trying to help. If he wants to be an a***hole then good luck to him."

Happy Birthday, Franck Montagny!

Today is French racing driver Franck Montagny's 31st birthday. Why am I singling this out in particular. Over my time at Sidepodcast, Christine has taken a liking to him after seeing him at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2007 when he was still with Toyota as a test driver and noting he was just wandering about not doing anything special in particular because, well, I guess no-one really knew who he was.

Still, since his F1 testing days, he has gone on to bigger and better things. He produced a fantastic drive at last year's Le Mans 24 Hours for Peugeot, driving long stints at a brilliantly fast pace. His car could have even won the event had it not been for the incompetence of Christian Klien putting it in the gravel during the night. Still, he managed 3rd which is something to be proud of. He also came 2nd in his first Champ Car race last year as well, which was ironically the final race for the formula ever before the IndyCar Series took over, been a race winner for Acura in the American Le Mans Series AND raced for Team France in A1GP! Boy, does he get around or what!

Next season, we all hope it will be success all the way for Franck, who I actually class to be one of the best French drivers in the world right now, second only to Sebastien Loeb who quite frankly can drive anything with 4 wheels and beat the pants off of anyone around. But for now, here's to Mr Montagny reaching 31 years on this earth. Many happy returns, Franck, and all the best for 2009!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

RLB - AGR set initial pace in Indy practice

It is known to many people that when it comes to the Indianapolis 500, anything can happen. It is such a prestigious race that every single driver on the grid is fighting for one thing, which is the chance to get their name on the Borg-Warner Trophy. And judging by practice results alone, right now it seems this season the next face to be cast upon it might just be the face of an Andretti Green Racing driver.

Daniel Quick, who on occasions like to live up to his name, decided that this was one of those times to do so. The team he drives for is based just up the road from the famed Brickyard and with home support he knew it was his chance to make every second count around the 2 mile oval. That he did as he ended the practice session fastest of everyone with teammate Scott Woodwiss managing 6th best time to make sure both AGR Lolas were firmly inside the top 10. Both drivers posted average speeds of over 225mph with Quick even managing just over 230! But practice can only tell the teams so much. It is merely an experimentation session. To see who can find the perfect setup for what they hope will be the perfect weekend. Can both Andretti Green pilots keep this turn of pace up with the 4-lap aggregate qualifying imminent?

Scott Woodwiss:
"Daniel did an awesome job today to manage fastest around here. To be fair though, we did some private testing here and he actually did more laps than me so it's no wonder he's higher up the sheets than I am. Still, we see it as a team result, not a personal one, and I'm sure we can both make a substantial impact in qualifying later on. It's quite different than what we'd normally prepare for at any oval.

Here at Indy you run 4 consecutive laps and the thing which matters the most is keeping a constant and consistent pace throughout all 4 in order to achieve the highest average speed possible with the setup you have. Our work today has given us quite a solid setup on mine and Daniel's cars so I think that on paper we're both in the hunt for pole. But whether it's just all talk and no actions remains to be seen. I'm confident we can pull something out of the bag but just making the front row is going to a challenge, let alone securing P1."

RLB IndyCar Round Preview - Indianapolis

(Starting from today I will be posting all of my roleplays which I have written for the RLB. This first one is a preview at the upcoming race, the famous Indy 500)

So here we are. The big one, the grand daddy, the jewel in the IndyCar calendar. And now for the first time, it's a point-scoring event. The RLB IC convoy has arrived at its next scheduled stop in the championship and it couldn't get any more prestigious - The Indianapolis 500 at the legendary "Brickyard".

So what can we say about this historic mainstay of racing, the mecca of motorsport? Well it started live as an oval made of wooden boards constructed in 1909 and initially hosted motorcycle events before moving onto the first 500 two years later
in 1911. Since then the surface has changed to bricks (1909) and then the tarmac we now have (1935). Whoever takes victory here joins will join greats such as Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, AJ Foyt, Al Unser Jr and Bobby Rahal. The circuit also features a road course configuration which has hosted Formula 1 and more recently MotoGP, while NASCAR have also made their mark on the oval alongside the open-wheelers. What still survives from its past is the sacred yard of bricks directly after the start/finish line. Winners are traditionally known to kiss them and also drink from the famous bottle of milk.

After a weekend of fantastic fortunes for the team, Andretti Green Racing are going to the 500 on a massive high. The speed shown throughout the sessions at Nazareth made a considerable impact on the rest of the IndyCar field with Scott Woodwiss coming back from a driver error which put him down to last place, due to a pitstop to repair damage, to take the 2nd place step on the podium by the end. Now with the team at their home circuit, Scott feels that they could the dark horses of the Brickyard this weekend.

Scott Woodwiss:
"You know, we're really psyched up about coming here. Everyone in the team is still buzzing from that 2nd place last time out in Nazareth and we were all laughing and joking when we came here started unloading the transporters. But seriously, I think we now know where we feel at home and it's on the ovals. The speed we were able to produce in the previous weekend brought us up to a new level which we need to try and stay at for as long as possible, hopefully the remainder of the season. Plus, we are literally racing on our doorstep! This place is just a few miles away from our team factory so the short journey made a nice change."

Scott also rate his own chances for the weekend ahead.

"I scored the pole last season in the all-star event when it wasn't part of the championship and that's still something I regard as one of the highlights of my career so far. Whether I can do it again remains to be seen but I'm pretty confident. We don't want to seem too optimistic though because anything can happen here at Indy. But I'm sure we'll have a trouble-free schedule. Whether we can get that illusive win here remains to be seen. Do I think we can? If everything goes according to plan, yes I think it's possible."

Fantasy Racers - The start of out Title Defence!

Over at Sidepodcast, we partook in an online Fantasy F1 game last season called Fantasy Racers. If you're familiar with the concept, you pick a few driver with a set budget and you can't spend more than what's been allocated. I joined the league by the time the game was at the Spanish GP and didn't do too badly. By the end of the season, I was in a private battle with SPC's Christine to see if I, who started late, could beat her, who had been in it from the beginning. Alas, I missed out on overtaking her in the standings by less than 100 points.

Upholding our Honour
Today, FR has opened its doors so to speak once again and we at Sidepodcast have already created our private league. For us there is a lot at stake this season. Why? Well, it's the small matter of us being the reigning private league champions. What makes it more prestigious is that we were able to beat the league set up by the forums at the one and only Autosport magazine. Yes, you've read that right - we, a community centered around a humble F1 podcast, managed to pip the UK's number 1 weekly motorsport magazine! Christine and Mr C, her husband and partner in crime, received a nice trophy for our success and Jordan Allen got the prize for winning our private league.

What's That Name Again?
Now of course me being a member of the SPC community, I am participating although this time at the beginning of the game instead of joining mid-season and playing catch up. One thing which any fantasy F1 game lets you do is give your team a name. Last season, I went with Neg's Urban Sports F1 in honour of the hilarious segment on the comedy show Balls of Steel. This time, I decided to go with something that was rather unique and quite frankly genius. We're used to silly team names, but one in particular was Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers, which I know is a reference from an episode of The Simpsons. So I thought to myself - what could I call mine this time around to try and top it? To gain inspiration, I looked for things synonymous with Sidepodcast. After some careful decisions and a bit of experimentation, I came up with the FR name to end all names. Ladies and gentlemen, the team I have entered this season is called noneother than....

Dumbo-Flugel'd Kung Fu Marmots!

I can quite imagine you're staring at that thinking "What in the name of all that's holy is that supposed to mean?!" Well, I'll explain:

Dumbo-Flugel - The German name for the weird nose attachments on the front of the Honda F1 car last season. It translates in English as Dumbo Ears.

Kung Fu - After watching the new Sidepodcast Diaries video on YouTube today (the series making a welcome comeback), Kung Fu Panda was mentioned and from there it just stuck.

Marmots - Christine at SPC thinks they're cute after she saw them on track during the Canadian GP these past two seasons.

Come and Have a Go if You Think You're Hard Enough!
So, maybe you want to have a go at this and take part, huh? No problem. Simply head over to the Fantasy Racers website (, join up for free and enter Private League 6 with the password "franck". I would recommend doing it now though and not later on when the 2009 F1 season has already started as you might just get left behind. Anyway, I hope I see some of you from here over there. It is quite fun and competitive once it gets into full swing. Who knows, you could even win it!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

I am a Racing Driver (Sort Of)

As mentioned in my introductory post, I am a member of the Real Life BATracer community. It involves playing the browser-based racing simualtion game BATracer. But if you're wondering what it's all about, then wonder no more. Everything will be come clear as I open the doors to the RLB world.

Finding Your Feet
When you decide you want to be part of the fun, you first of all need to write an introductory roleplay. Roleplays, I hear you ask? Yes, you heard correctly. A roleplay is where you write a fantasy news story or personal account of an event such as a qualifying session, a race, a team launch, etc. The RLB is more centered on your RP capabilities than how you perform in the game itself. On-track results do obviously matter to an extent, but your ability to translate those results and happenings into words matters more, especially when it comes to finding a drive for the following season.

An introductory roleplay gives the other members of the community a chance to assess your potential as a top flight driver. Therefore it is recommended you put a lot of thought and effort into it to make the best initial impression possible. You'll get some comments about it and some friendly welcomes out of it too. The RLB community is an altogether friendly and supportive one, so don't be afraid to ask questions if you have any.

Moving up the Ladder
So, you've announced your arrival. Your next objective is to find a place on a team in the starter series we call Formula Trinity. The way to do this is to sign up for tests and roleplay on the results as best you can. Obviously the more work you put into it, the better your chances are of securing a drive for the upcoming season. Currently, RLB has 3 championships which all ascend in such a way that it's like climbing up the ladder to the top flight. Here is a typical RLB journey:

Formula Trinity --> IndyCar --> F1

You'd typically run one season in FT to begin with and gain experience. You'll start off with an Amatuer licence but if the Licence Commitee feel your RP quality over the season is good enough, they will upgrade it to a ProLicence (allowing competition up to IndyCar) and finally a SuperLicence to allow entry to Formula 1. But to maintain these licences, you have to keep your roleplay quantity and quality up. Let it slip too much and you'll find it being downgraded.

My Racing CV
So what's my history in the RLB? Well, I'll be honest - it's a turbulent one. That's certainly the best way to describe it. I started with Davidson-Rees Motorsport in the first ever FT championship and came joint 8th on 74 points. That season also saw me fill in at Toyota for the last 2 races and score a surprise 6th in Brazil. I started the 2nd season of FT before grabbing an opening at Spyker where my best finish was 9th twice. I only lasted until Monza where I lost my licence altogether over a fairly minor issue (which I won't go into detail about). I came back for FT Season 4 with Petronas Concept Racing and won my first RLB race at Mid-Ohio from 13th on the grid. This performance was good enough for 2 seasons at Force India, which sadly was a complete letdown. From a total of 36 races for the team, I scored no more than 3 points altogether.

Right now I am racing for Andretti Green Racing in the IndyCar series and so far I place 9th in the standings with a best qualifying of 5th and a 2nd place at Nazareth to my name. The next race coming up is the legendary Indy 500 and qualifying will advance in a couple of days time. I'm hopeful this season I can get back to F1 as I've drastically improved and strengthened my commitment to the RLB. Over the course of the rest of the season, I will post my thoughts on it all as well as my RPs for each session. I want to let you into this community and let you see what I do and how I do it. I hope you enjoy.

Let's Try This Again, Shall We?

Greetings everyone, Scott Woodwiss here venturing on my second blog since the first one kind of faultered and came to a halt. But, no matter. It's a new year so a new start for me writing one of these things.

If some of you recognise my name, then you'll have heard of it either from the excellent F1 podcast/blog site Sidepodcast, where you'll find me there on a regular basis hanging out with the other members of the community, or from the Real Life BATracer site where I'm currently taking part in the IndyCar series.

So what's the purpose of this blog? Well, it's a chance for me to express my views on the latest F1 and motorsport news as well as keep you guys up to date with my fortunes in RLB and my roleplays there, which I'll post here as and when I do them and also my opinions on the latest racing and driving simulation games and maybe even a review of one or two.

So, let's see if I can keep this going for the rest of the year. Although knowing me, I'll need a kicking every now and then to be reminded if I lose interest. Still, here's to a new start, eh?

Real Life BATracer