September 25th, 2009



Twice A Day

Most days that I drive to WMU I take US-131, so twice a day I pass by the US-131 Motorsports Park dragstrip at Exit 55 in Martin MI. Most days it's empty, but when the weekend approaches, the place can fill up. Every now and then coming home northbound, I can either see a race or see elapsed times / top speeds on the big boards.

I seem to recall that management changed a few years ago and they seem to be doing everything right these days. Very popular place and some of my students have told me it's a well run track.

I've always had mixed feelings about car racing over the years. On the one hand it's wasteful of resources and polluting. On the other, it's a small number of cars and there's a lot of technical achievement going on. I have to say that people doing their own race cars for themselves ends up being a fine hobby. So be it.

Taking It To A New Level

Speed Channel's show Pinks featured 2 people with their cars willing to race for pink slips on a drag strip. It was an interesting show, but too often I was pissed off by the underhanded way the competitors tried to cheat and sandbag the other. Then they did a revision of the show to Pinks: All Out, where cars are asked to run "all out" or maximum performance, and then a field of 16 or 32 cars are selected which have the closest times -- the fastest cars overall are not automatically the chosen ones, so you get to see all kinds of "hobby" drag cars. Most of the competitors are so happy to get a chance and to race and show off what they've done, that winning is just icing on the cake. Indeed, this overall happiness and enthusiasm is one of the reasons I'll watch this on late night, much preferred over the original Pinks format.

Putting It All Together

This summer Pinks: All Out came to US-131 Motorsports in Martin MI. Several hundred cars snapped up the first registration spots, and then I guess they did a weekend of qualifying for the rest of the spots. Lots of interest. All told there were over 500 cars entered. And if there was a non-American branded car there, I sure didn't see one. Top cars were all Chevy, Ford, Mopar and a Pontiac. One of the cars featured was a Kaiser!

Last year rains did in a big weekend event in Martin, but the weather was never a problem. Indeed, in the newspaper article, host Rich Christiansen said everything was going too smoothly -- no problems. Of course, the first of the best-of-three final runs had the whole timing system fail AND the two cars were bumper to bumper at the quarter-mile. They had to re-run the first race because they couldn't tell who won. The final was great -- Ford versus Chevy. The Ford took the second run (third actual), but went too fast, forcing the final and decisive race. What I love about Pinks: All Out is the systematic way they want (a) the best competition and (b) the most consistent performances -- a triumph of technical measurement and statistics. (grin) Which is not to say the car builders and racers don't do their part. (double-lane-grin)

Anyway, late Thursday night I caught the repeat of the latest episode and it was the Martin MI races. Yay. It was fun recognizing most of the West Michigan and Northern Indiana towns where most of the cars came from. I missed the first two minutes or so -- they made a big deal of this being Michigan, but I'm not sure they pointed out they were on the opposite side of the state from Detroit. The episode has some re-run times on like Sunday and Monday, I think. Eventually the full episode will be up on Hulu.

Well done, everyone.

Dr. Phil
  • Current Mood
    bouncy bouncy