How To Make Good Independent Racing Games???

Posted by imelda sovzky on Monday, October 31, 2011

And a good October 31st to you.  Here's a programmer's joke:  Why do programmers always get Christmas and Halloween mixed up?  Because Dec 25 = Oct 31.  Haha, go eat your bag of Tootsie Rolls and candy corn.


So I want to say that it's good that fans are talking about Daytona USA again.  And Scud Race.  And Daytona USA 2.  And other Sega games.  We're getting emulators, fan projects (like Daytona Universe), strategy guides, loads of new media, this is very good.  Keep working at it, people.


But here's what I was really going to say.  Here at FIEA, the second and third semesters are devoted entirely to working on large capstone games.  Each game will have about 12-15 people working on it, maybe more as the semester moves on.  So which games do we work on?  The ideas are funneled through an American Idol-style voting system to find out the Top 3 games to make.

The first step is to deliver a 5-minute pitch/presentation to the class.  All producers (about 22) must present an idea to the class.  Then any programmers/artists who have a good idea may present their ideas too.  This means there will be, give or take, 30 ideas out there to choose from.  Students and instructors vote for their Top 5 games.  Games get narrowed down to Top Ten: five chosen by students, five by instructors.  Oh yeah, these pitches are scheduled for a week from now (Monday/Wednesday) so better get ready soon!

And that's just the first round.  The second round is where you pull all the stops.  You must give a 20+ minute presentation (Good Lord, everyone will fall asleep) devoted to the game.  Then the Instructors poll the audience again and they meet in their top secret lair to determine the Top 5 games and who works on what team.  This is at the end of the semester in December.

If your idea has made it that far then good job.  You actually get to start "working" on the game.  Well, for a little while that is.  You get up to around April/May EDIT: end of February (my birthday!!!) then you go through the "vertical slice."  The instructors bring a bunch of professional game designers from EA, Bioware, whatever (it's stupid) and then they determine the final cut.  Two games are cut so only three games actually get finished.  Everyone on a losing project must assimilate into another team and ride out the rest of the semester that way.


I want to pitch a racing game.  Oh Lord Jesus please have mercy on me.  I'm not surprised that the marketplace is hostile to racing games in general.  But the whole idea behind this presentation is to get the students to "feel it."  To want to make this game with me.  Cause they trust me or that nonsense.

Here's my idea.  It's really easy to say, "Make a Daytona USA clone" but that won't fly.  The idea is to come up with something new.  So the first thing I did was ask a crowd of producers what they would like to see in a racing game.  They actually came up with some good ideas.  This was some of them that I recall:

* Didn't like Gran Turismo or boring sim racers.  Stick with games like Ridge Racer (hell yes).
* Make games with wacky environments.  They need to look varied and pleasing to the eye.  I wholeheartedly agree with this.
* Needs strong competitive multiplayer.  Something like Mario Kart.  Or anything you can have fun with.
* Needs non-traditional powerups/items.  When this person was asked to come up with an example, he couldn't think of one.  This one is dicey for me.
* When making a racing game, try to come up with a more complicated system than just "go from start to finish."  Some producers want to produce more convoluted ideas and be challenged that way.  A traditional racing game would be too linear for his taste.
* Lastly from somebody who doesn't "like" racing games.  He pointed out some non-traditional racing games he liked such as Jet Moto and Wave Race.  Main reason he loved Wave Race was because of the way the jet ski bobbed in the water.  That's very interesting to point out--the way the vehicle "moves."

Well, I learned some interesting things.  But here's my idea and part of the things I want to include in the presentation:

* Racing games ARE a reasonable genre these days.  Mario Kart Wii sold over 20 million copies.  Forza 3 and 4 are critically acclaimed games.  There are also many other relevant racers such as Need for Speed, Burnout, Split-Second (I'm going to bite my tongue on that one).

* The problem with racing games is that no one really knows how to make them perfectly.  There's two categories of racers--simulation and arcade.  Here's some typical problems with each:

Simulation: too boring, too difficult, too reliant on intellectual properties, constrained to real life physics/visuals.
Arcade: too easy, too slow, too gimmicky/obnoxious, too many crashes.

But we can take the best of both worlds (swap parts) and make a superior racing game done RIGHT!

* I was thinking of a Stunt Race FX/Micro Machines-style game.  It would borrow many aspects from Daytona USA, OutRun, and maybe Mario Kart.  Hey, read my superb article on why Sega racers are so good.  Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V everything from that list.  Make use of drifting and manual transmission to win!  Drive your car faster than you ever have in Mario Kart/Sega All-Stars Racing!  Watch the way the car rocks back and forth on the suspension!  The way it trembles at top speed!  The way it turns on every bend!  You don't get this kind of adrenaline rush from sim racers when the car just turns left and right like a brick, demonstrating no emotion whatsoever.

Put all good racing games in the blender!

* Environments NEED to be colorful!  It's an uplifting, almost therapeutic game.  It should retain a cartoony atmosphere while throwing elbows here and there (should be some demerit for losing).  I think that track selection should go for the more absurd.  For instance, remember California Speed?  You drive through malls, roller coasters, super-computers, UFOs, volcanoes, golf courses, and so forth?  This is great stuff and would allow artists & level designers to flex their creative muscles.  While the courses are a bit crazy, they need to stick to some coherent theme--that is, they must be rational in whatever universe we're in.  Blue skies forever, baby!

* How about music and sound?  Most games go for the cheap dubstep music & tinny engine effects which don't do justice.  Let's get some intense rock & roll and deep sound effects in here and add icing to the cake! Any good sound producers here?

* I was thinking about some car customization options (with performance upgrades) in order to give the user an sense of ownership over the car.  Make it deep--give him things to score points and achieve.  Add various multiplayer modes with awards and whatnot.  This is where I begin to draw a blank so it's best if I talk it over with a few people and see what I can do here.

If I go in there, polish my presentation, and actually have the guts to present this, I may sway a few people.  If I have the only racing game in the room (and I most likely will), some people will get behind this because they want to work on something nice and clean without some overbearing plot/gimmick.

Well, there's two problems with this contest.  First, assuming I do manage to get past the first round into the Top 10, then that means I have to put a lot more work into this game concept.  I need to come up with a lengthy presentation and discuss this with other producers.  That's going to take more time away from other assignments that I may have due.  And should I somehow get to the Top 5, then I can't be the Lead Producer on the project.  Someone else will.  While I can talk with this person, there's no guarantee he'll keep in touch with me.  He may take this in the completely wrong direction so who knows.  Plus I'll have to work my ass off (even during the Christmas break) trying to avoided the dreaded "vertical slice" so my game makes it to the Top 3.

And the second problem is that I'm probably not going to win.  I mean, I got into this GameFAQs "Win a Private Message Board" contest about a year ago and I was all stoked cause I had a good video but was let down when I didn't even crack the Top 3 entries.  So let's not pretend that I have a good shot at this one either.

But if I have that attitude going into this project, then why bother in the first place?  Even if I only make it one or two stages, at least I'll have tried.  I'd much rather work on a racing game for a few months and have it canned than never to work on one at all.  If I have to see another Tolkien/sci-fi adventure story of epic proportions for the 1,672,278th time (or even work on one), I'm going to kick a puppy through the uprights.  Maybe my fallback project will be decent, I sure hope so...

Also, I read somewhere that the best time to embark on grandiose projects is while you're in college.  You have the time and resources on your hands (you're at college, duh).  You don't have to disrupt the norm of your average career to work on petty side projects.  So if I'm going to make a racing game, now's my best chance.  I hope I catch lightning in a bottle.  That is all.  Let you know if I get any ideas as they happen.  Wish me luck that I give my Winston Churchill speech next Monday, haha.

"Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." - Winston Churchill, 1940.
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NASCAR racing should return to its roots more often

Posted by imelda sovzky

The Cool Down Lap: NASCAR racing should return to its roots more often
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(October 31, 2011)
MARTINSVILLE, Va.—A race at Martinsville is a reminder and a revelation.
It’s a reminder, because, in watching an event at the .526-mile track, we recall the roots of NASCAR racing.
It’s a revelation, because we come to the traditional short tracks so infrequently that a steady diet of intermediate speedways dulls our sense of what racing is really like when it returns to those roots.
Sunday’s rock-’em-sock-’em Tums Fast Relief 500 was overflowing with the kind of action that can’t be duplicated at a bigger track.
“I think if we raced at more short tracks, I might be considered a dirty driver,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was involved in more than his share of fracases on the racetrack.
Joey Logano was a victim of Earnhardt’s bumper.
“He just dumped me,” radioed Logano, after his Toyota spun in Turn 3. “I’m sick of this (expletive).”
Greg Zipadelli, Logano’s crew chief, wasn’t particularly sympathetic.
“You’d better grow some balls and take care of it,” Zipadelli radioed back to his driver.
Rivalries and emotions ran high throughout the race. After racing David Ragan door-to-door for three laps, Earnhardt took the position by shoving Ragan up the racetrack. Chase driver Matt Kenseth settled a dispute with Brian Vickers by running Vickers’ Toyota into the Turn 3 fence.
Vickers, whose car looked like a demolition derby loser after five separate wrecks, dumped Jamie McMurray early in the race. McMurray destroyed his car against the backstretch wall in an attempt at revenge that went awry.
Kenseth, who wrecked with 36 laps left, returned to the track late in the race after repairs. Vickers was waiting. He went after Kenseth like a heat-seeking missile, one battered car applying the coup de grace to another. In all likelihood, that incident changed the outcome of the race, giving Tony Stewart a chance to pass Jimmie Johnson for the win after a restart with three laps left.
You can’t write that kind of script at a high-speed racetrack because the sort of banging that occurs at Martinsville is simply too dangerous at a downforce speedway.
Drivers know the value of racing at short tracks, of being able to express their emotions in their cars. Drivers also know that short-track racing in the Sprint Cup Series is bucking a trend.
In 1991, 15 of the 29 races on the Cup schedule—more than half—were contested on tracks shorter than 1.5 miles, but the speedway building boom that began later in the decade radically altered the complexion of the schedule.
Ultimately, Rockingham and North Wilkesboro, two action tracks, lost two races each. Darlington lost one. Of the 36 points races on the schedule, only 13 are held on tracks shorter than 1.5 miles.
“I’ll admit that when we went through this big building process of all these mile-and-a-halfs, nobody considered building something more like a Bristol or a Richmond or something like that,” third-place finisher Jeff Gordon said after the race. “I think that we need one or two more tracks like that on the circuit.
“So, yeah, Martinsville is a little extreme. This place is tough on brakes. Tempers flare. It’s a narrow place to race on. It can be tough, but it’s very entertaining. So you’ve got to like that.”
Short-track racing provides the sort of closeness and immediacy that’s not available at larger tracks.
“There’s two places where, when you take the lead, you absolutely know it,” Stewart said. “It’s Bristol and Martinsville. To pass Jimmie Johnson on the outside with two laps to go and to watch the crowd on the backstretch, then watch them on the frontstretch when we cleared him, you swear people are going to fall onto the racetrack.
“You feel that energy. You sense that. It’s not that you need extra motivation, but it’s cool to know you’ve got that kind of support. It’s just that extra drive that gets you the rest of the way that last lap. It’s cool.”
Cool indeed. And, accordingly, it’s time for Cup racing to consider a return to the sorts of venues that built NASCAR racing in the first place. After a seven-year absence from the NASCAR schedules, Rockingham Speedway will host a Camping World Truck Series race in April 2012. In a perfect world, a Sprint Cup date would follow shortly thereafter.
Iowa Speedway, an .875-mile vision of Rusty Wallace built in the image of Richmond International Raceway, is another short-track candidate for a Cup race. In the Nationwide and truck series, the action there has been exceptional.
Those sorts of venues give NASCAR a chance to reconnect with fans who grew up watching Saturday-night races at short tracks—and still do. Sunday’s race at Martinsville was a pointed reminder of how desirable a goal that is.
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Earnhardt enjoys dishing out punishment at Martinsville

Posted by imelda sovzky

Earnhardt enjoys dishing out punishment at Martinsville
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(October 30, 2011)
MARTINSVILLE, Va.—In a wild race that featured drivers trading shots—some deserved, some cheap—Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave better than he got in Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Earnhardt was the catalyst for the race’s first caution, when he bounced off the curbing in Turn 1 and sent Kurt Busch spinning. He also was involved in an incident with fewer than three laps left, when he knocked Denny Hamlin into Brad Keselowski and sent Keselowski’s No. 2 Dodge spinning.
Earnhardt also battled with David Ragan, trading numerous blows in a four-lap battle that ended with Earnhardt moving Ragan up the track and passing his adversary.
It was short-track racing in its purest form—and Earnhardt loved it.
“I felt like I was doing more of the beatin’ on people than I was getting beat on myself,” said Earnhardt, who finished seventh. “There was definitely some fun stuff happening out there, and a lot of times you just kind of have to laugh it off. It was fun.
“It was a lot of beatin’ and bangin’ right from the drop of the green flag, but I think the fans really enjoy that. I’m sure it was great fun to watch on TV and in the stands, and it was great fun in the racecar—the most fun I’ve had in a really long time.”
Keselowski might demur. The chain-reaction contact on Lap 498 dropped him out of the top 10 to 17th at the finish and left him fourth in the standings, 27 points behind Chase leader Carl Edwards.
“We got some good racing in the middle section of the race, got the good lanes that we needed, but at the end, we just didn’t catch a break,” Keselowski said. “We ended up on the outside for the last few restarts, and that wasn’t the place to be.
“That’s just this style of racing. You can’t control your own fate.”
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Late wreck puts major dent in Kenseth’s title run

Posted by imelda sovzky

Late wreck puts major dent in Kenseth’s title run
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(October 30, 2011)
MARTINSVILLE, Va.—Matt Kenseth was 36 laps from a respectable run Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, a track that has treated him unkindly in the past.
He restarted 12th on Lap 463 of the Tums Fast Relief 500, three positions ahead of Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards, the driver he is pursuing in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
A lap later, however, Kenseth’s race went haywire. His No. 17 Ford collided with Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota. In a chain-reaction wreck, Kenseth clobbered the Turn 3 wall. He finished 31st and fell from second in the standings, 14 points behind Edwards, to fifth, 36 points down.
“I don’t know what happened with the 18,” Kenseth said. “I felt like I left him some room on the outside, but everybody was kind of slow and checked up. I had a run under him and was almost to his door, and all of a sudden we just got together.
“I honestly don’t know if it was my fault—if I squeezed him or if he came down—because there were some slow cars on the straightaway, but I almost think he must have come down, because we hit really hard, and then I must have had a flat tire and didn’t know it. I went into (Turn) 3 and couldn’t steer or couldn’t stop it and wrecked all those guys (Joey Logano, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya).”
That, more than the running battle Kenseth had with Brian Vickers, proved Kenseth’s undoing.
It also dropped Busch to a 27th-place finish and all but ended his hopes for a first Sprint Cup title.
“The 17 got into us coming off Turn 2—I don’t know if he cut his right front (tire) or not,” Dave Rogers, Busch’s crew chief, said after the race. “Then he got into Turn 3 and 17 had his tires locked up and drove into our left-rear quarter.
“I’d like to think it’s good, hard, clean racing at Martinsville, and we’re a victim of circumstance at a short track. It caught Kyle by surprise, and he didn’t know he was going to take a shot in the left rear and he did.”
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Spending Time With Family, Saints, Go-Karts, Ghost Squad, F***in' Fast & Furious, Disney Sucks

Posted by imelda sovzky on Sunday, October 30, 2011

First of all, this was a good weekend because I had no homework and my parents drove over to Orlando to spend a few days with me.  But let's get to the Saints next.

I'm going to be like Joe Beningo here in a few minutes so little kids, please cover your ears.  All I have to say is that thank the Lord that I didn't actually see this Saints vs. Rams game on TV (I instead watched updates).  Because this has to be the MOST EMBARASSING DISPLAY I have ever glazed upon in my life.  No excuses to lose this game.  What a disgrace!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There are two types of teams in the NFL.  Teams that should win and teams that shouldn't.  The Saints are a good team (I think so, anyway).  They should be in charge of their destiny.  There's a reason the Rams were 0-6, because THEY STINK!!!  They had their backup QB in!!!  And then the Saints go to St. Louis and do what all dumb teams do and that is suck ass.  F***ing suck ass.

Compare the Saints to the Packers.  Let's just get this out of the way now--the Packers are probably going undefeated and are getting the #1 seed.  Why?  Because the Packers ARE WINNING GAMES THAT THEY SHOULD BE WINNING.  The Saints aren't.  And don't give me this "the team has to lose to learn to play better" nonsense since that just means they are undisciplined in the first place.  This sequence of "embarrassing" Saints losses goes back to last year when the Saints blew the games to the Cardinals, Browns, and Seahawks (first team to lose to a sub .500 postseason team, choke away 10-point lead, humiliating Marshawn Lynch replay).  Shame on you guys.  The Saints should've played with fire under their asses in order to keep up with other NFC teams but they look like they didn't give two s***s about it.

Oh, BTW, you know how awesome it was that ESPN gave the 62-7 victory over the Colts zero air time?  Well, expect ESPN to run a million stories about the Saints' 31-21 chokejob (most of those were garbage points) loss to the Rams with stories like "SEE I TOLD YOU SOOO SAINTS ARE ONE-AND-DONE ROFL" and "FALCONS WILL WIN NFC SOUTH CAUSE THEY HAVE MATT RYAN AND RODDY WHITE, TWO GREATEST PLAYARS EVER HAHAHA."  Good work, Saints.  Enjoy the embarassment.  Just suck it in and feel good about yourselves.  Really good.

Man-crush on Tony Gonzales!!!

And also don't give me this "Rams were playing passionate football," or "parity exists in the NFL" crap because it also applies to the Saints too.  If the Rams were playing tough, then the Saints should've played tough too.  AT WORST the game should've been tied by the half, but no.  The Saints scored ZERO POINTS in the first half.  That is completely indefensible.  You all are incredibly mediocre and deserve ZERO credit for today.  Sean Payton should take a paddle and just whip everyone with it.  Even Drew Brees since he's been throwing lots of dumb interceptions lately.  Seriously, just beat their asses with it.

Or maybe a ruler, you know...keeping with the Catholic theme.

This reminds me...I've said this before (in the Call of Duty: Max Performance post) that the day you underestimate the competition, you will LOSE.  Don't care if it's some dumb kids on XBL or your mom, you give it 100% all the f'n time.  This is true especially in professional sports.  Consider that a wounded animal WILL fight back when threatened.  Rams may be winless but they will get desperate at some point.  So you let 'em off the hook.  Good work Saints for playing down to the competition! 

And bear in mind that the Saints lost to a franchise that put out this video instructing its fans on "how to cheer" during the game.  Really?  This is absurd.

Seems like ever since "HAKIM DROPS THE BALL!!", the Rams have been the Saints' kryptonite.  Cause this is the second time a winless Rams team has gotten its first win against the Saints.  Sweet Jesus, this is bad.  So bad and I won't hold back.  I'm not going to "bail" from this team cause I still bleed black & gold but dammit I am just gonna call it like I see it.  Especially when I'm trying to enjoy time with my parents.

Know for a fact that someone will post this eventually so let's get it out of the way now.  And Rams fans, don't take this personally.  I'm mad at my team, that's about it.  There's still time for us to peak during the playoffs but enjoy playing on the road!  Geez.

Hey, it could be worse.  At least I'm not a Rangers fan.  Otherwise, I would be hospitalized right about now.


Okay, now I've gotten that train wreck out of the way, let's talk about what happened in real life.  On Sunday, me and my family are traveling down International Drive in Kississimee, FL., the big line of attractions/tourist traps near Disney & Universal Studios.  And we're looking for a go-kart track to drive on.  We find this three story wooden go-kart track and it was fun.  Just like the ones in Pigeon Forge, TN.  DAMN was the ride bumpy as I bobbed all over the place on those poor wooden planks which ate my dirt.  But, nonetheless, I continued on.  I lapped everyone too.  Kids were driving slow so I cut them off...all without bumping into them, of course!  Otherwise, those bums would've yelled and me and dragged me off the premises for "threatening to kill everyone."  No one's allowed to have fun anymore.

There was also an arcade at this place.  The arcade was decent--that is, if you enjoy Fast and the Furious very much.  I counted TWO Fast & Furious bike cabinets, FOUR Fast & Furious Drift cabinets, and THREE Deluxe Fast & Furious cabinets?  I mean, s***, do you really need THAT MANY FAST & FURIOUS GAMES???  No one was playing these games too.  Also, just for the lulz, I saw that one of the deluxe cabinets was missing a brake.  And none of them had manual gear shifters.  Not like you need either of those things, HAHA!!!  Seriously, I think I have more fun picking lint out of my pockets than I do playing this game.

The arcade did have Ghost Squad (2004) there and I played it for about six minutes.  I wasted two credits on it cause I accidentally shot the hostages (well I didn't know you had to hold the "special" button!).  Seriously, what an interesting game.  I played that cabin level and it was neat.  The machine gun controller was cooler than the traditional pistol weapon.  Main problem is that the screen wasn't in good was faded and the attract screen logo was burned in there too.  The same thing can be said about the 18 Wheeler game right adjacent to it.  So is it just me or is EVERY Sega arcade cabinet in poor condition???  Does anyone even bother with these arcade games anymore???

And why oh why does there have to be a Guitar Hero cabinet at the arcade too???  Do we really need MORE GUITAR HERO GAMES???  Go away, Raw Thrills, just...go away.  Can't take it anymore.  Friggin Fast and Furious & Guitar Hero in every arcade.  Well, at least we got Daytona 1/2, Scud Race, OutRun 2, etc. at home so it's not too bad.

I should mention there was a twin Sega Race TV cabinet there too and I played through it just once.  It was just as mediocre as my first experience was.  Game still makes zero sense to me this time.  I picked the Plymouth Hemi Cuda which has low top speed which meant that the AI would just sidle up to me near the finish line so I lost that way.  Man, this game is pissing me off too.


Oh, and it gets even better!  So me and my family decide to go to Downtown Disney.  It's this boardwalk-style attraction with a bunch of stores with blaring Radio Disney tunes (including Aaron Carter who is apparently still relevant) everywhere.  We checked out the Lego store they had.  Nice store, but no Xalax Lego Racers so no dice--Lego sucks now.  Yeah sure, just make a bunch of Lego dragons & Toy Story characters and we'll be on good terms--ooookay.  Then they had all these purple lit-up bars with dubstep music.  Another EPAC FAIL LOLOLOLLO.  And this "section" of Downtown Disney was called "Pleasure Island."  Geez, hide the kids.  Cause I imagine there was booze and hookers all around there.

Then I discover this store (or section of a store) called Ridemakerz.  Yes, it has a "z" on the end.  And you go there to make your own RC car.  Oooooo, gotta check it out!  So you pick up a plastic frame for your car (it's about a foot long & six inches wide), give it to the guy, and he outfits it with parts.  I picked a blue & white stock car.  Oh hell yes, after all these years, I finally get a "decent" RC car to play with.  Should be fun to drive around FIEA and whatnot.

So I read somewhere on the shelf that each car costs $22 at bare minimum.  I'm not interested in purchasing the shiny rims or the red tires--I just want a normal RC car shaped like a standard stock car.  Guy puts the thing together and says "Would you like a remote control with that?" and I'm like "Huh?"  The remote control is an "optional" accessory that costs an extra $25.  Wait, so I was about to buy an RC car without a controller??  What the f***ing s*** is that all about?  So the price of my car just doubled from $25 to $50.  Oh silly me, I thought I was getting a good deal on something at Disney World.  HA, forget about it.  So I just left after waiting for 15+ minutes.  Hate this crap.  TBQH, the car actually looked pretty good so it's a damn shame I had to give it up.  Maybe for $40, I'd give in but $50 is too much.

Anyway, I kissed my mom and dad goodbye and now I'm back at home, ready to take on the world by myself once again.  Thanks Saints, thanks Fast & Furious, thanks Disney for ALMOST ruining my day.
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Tony Stewart takes home his third win in the chase

Posted by imelda sovzky

Tony Stewart took home the win this afternoon at Martinsville after passing Jimmie Johnson with two laps to go. Most people came into this race today expecting either Jimmie Johnson or Denny Hamlin to take home the win. Tony Stewart fought with his car early when it wouldn't work for him, he finally got the car to work for him a little after halfway through the race. Tony was also fighting Denny Hamlin a little after halfway to stay on the lead lap.

The race was filled with many cautions today, i'm not going to talk about every caution because a few of them were payback for earlier incidents and some were for spins and only a few were for major crashes.

Brian Vickers played a big part in a few of the cautions today, mostly the ones in the later half of the race. Even Jimmie Johnson wasn't to thrilled he brought out so many cautions. Johnson said that Vickers cautions might have costed him(Johnson) the win today.

Jamie McMurray was involved in one of the major wrecks today. Brian Vickers hit McMurray which sent him spinning and made him hit the wall. McMurray attempted to give Vickers payback by turning into him as he went by, but that barely left a mark on Vickers' car. (McMurray accident video)

Vickers also got into a accident with Matt Kenseth towards the end of the race. But Matt Kenseth was the one who spun Kenseth out. You can basically call Kenseth vs. Vickers bumper cars. (Kenseth Vs. Vickers video)

The points were really scrambled up after today's race at Martinsville. Matt Kenseth dropped to fifth in  the points and is now 36 points out of the lead. Carl Edwards has an eight point lead over second place Tony Stewart. Kevin Harvick also moved up two spots to third and is 21 points out. Brad Keselowski dropped one spot to fourth after spinning on the final laps. And Jimmie Johnson is in sixth 43 points out of the lead.

Next week we head to Texas Motor Speedway. Don't miss the race on Sunday at 3pm/ET on ESPN and/or Race Buddy.


1. Tony Stewart
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Jeff Burton
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
8. Martin Truex Jr.
9. Carl Edwards
10. Ryan Newman
11. A.J. Allmendinger
12. Casey Mears
13. Regan Smith
14. Kurt Busch
15. Greg Biffle
16. Travis Kvapil
17. Brad Keselowski
18. Joey Logano
19. Clint Bowyer
20. David Reutimann
21. Ken Schrader
22. Juan Montoya
23. Dave Blaney
24. Paul Menard
25. Kasey Kahne
26. Hermie Sadler
27. Kyle Busch
28. Mark Martin
29. Marcos Ambrose
30. Brian Vickers
31. Matt Kenseth
32. Bobby Labonte
33. David Ragan
34. David Gilliland
35. Jamie McMurray
36. Reed Sorenson
37. Scott Speed
38. David Stremme
39. Michael McDowell
40. J.J. Yeley
41. Joe Nemechek
42. Landon Cassill
43. Mike Skinner

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Stewart nips Johnson in shootout at Martinsville

Posted by imelda sovzky

Stewart nips Johnson in shootout at Martinsville
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(October 30, 2011)
MARTINSVILLE, Va.—Tony Stewart passed Jimmie Johnson on a restart with three laps left in Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway and held off Johnson’s desperate bid for the win on the final lap.
The victory was Stewart’s third in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and vaulted him into second place in the standings, eight points behind leader Carl Edwards. Stewart won for the 42nd time in his career.
“He’d better be worried,” Stewart said of Edwards after the race, “that’s all I can say. He’s not going to have an easy three weeks.”
Miraculously, after twice being lapped on the racetrack, Edwards salvaged a decent run and retained his lead in the Chase standings with a ninth-place finish, as his two closest pursuers entering the race, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski, both experienced late trouble and finished 17th and 31st, respectively.
Jeff Gordon ran third, followed by Kevin Harvick, who climbed to third in the standings, 21 points behind Edwards. Denny Hamlin came home fifth, with Jeff Burton sixth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. seventh.
After a wild first half of the race had settled into a 97-lap green-flag run after the midpoint, Hamlin squeezed past Gordon on Lap 320 and stayed out front in traffic until Burton’s spin caused the 10th caution of the race.
That started a spate of cautions that gave Harvick and Stewart a chance to move to the front with two-tire calls—and allowed Edwards to return to the lead lap under the 12th caution with a free pass for the highest-scored car one lap down.
Note: At the drivers’ meeting before the race, NASCAR announced that any driver intentionally causing a caution by stopping on the racetrack will be penalized three laps. The rule is in effect for at least the rest of the season, though the number of laps could vary according to the size of the racetrack.
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Motor Bike Crashes Are Terrifying

Posted by imelda sovzky on Saturday, October 29, 2011

I thought this was a sad story pertaining to motorsport...:

I didn't hear about this until now.  You thought the Dan Wheldon wreck was the end of it all--well, it's not.  Italian Moto GP driver Marco Simoncelli died in the Malaysian Moto GP on Oct. 23.  He fell off his bike in the second lap and was struck by two other drivers, taking his helmet off as he laid there in the middle of the track.  The wreck also sent another driver flying into the grass although he is hopefully okay.  Simoncelli was unconscious as paramedics took him to the hospital.  He was declared dead hours later.  No idea if he was killed instantly or he was in great pain for some time.

I'm not even going to bother posting pics or videos of this.  Just look at the picture on that site.  At least in the Dan Wheldon wreck, you didn't "see" Wheldon die, he was just caught up in the wreckage.  In this bike wreck, the man was just lying there in the middle of the road.  It's chilling.  Jesus, I can only imagine if you were watching it live on TV.  What's sad is that Simoncelli was only 24 years old.  Dan Wheldon was 33.  He was so young and so good at what he did.  It's one thing for adults to die, but young people...give them a break.

I admit that I don't watch a lot of motorcycle racing.  I'm not that crazy about bikes.  But these guys truly got guts.  At least in a car, you have some sort of roll cage/buffer to absorb the hit when you crash.  But on bikes, you got nothing but your helmet & racing suit to protect you.  Riding so close to the ground too.  And when they fall down, they usually get back on their bike and continue racing.  Insane...

I guess the idea is if you lose control of your bike, in most conditions you won't "fall" to the ground but instead slide/roll on the concrete into the grass or whatever barriers they've constructed.  Yes, that would hurt but it's better than crashing face-first into the pavement.  That doesn't protect you from getting tangled up with your bike or being struck by other drivers.  Bear in mind these bikes go over 200 mph/320 kph and that is scary fast.

So, what am I saying.  So we can go on about NASCAR, Formula 1, Rally Racing, Touring Car, etc.  But some people like bikes--Moto GP, Dirt Bikes, etc.  They share the same passion for racing and that should be commended.  Just drive, baby.

I've hardly mentioned Hang-On (1985) and Super Hang-On (1987).  Yu Suzuki loved riding bikes so that's why he made Hang-On.  The idea of a cabinet that leaned back and forth was awesome.  This game was Suzuki's "break-out" title.  Bear in mind OutRun (1986) was released a year later so if Suzuki hadn't made Hang-On, would we even have OutRun, Virtua Racing, or Daytona USA??  Maybe I should put up a Hang-On picture on the right side of the screen...yeah I'll do it later.  My bad.

Not to detract from Marco's death but now you know why motor bikes are a big deal.  Just say a prayer for Marco's family and for other racers that everyone is safe.  Can't stand drivers dying like this, especially when they are so young.  I promise I'm not going to turn this site into an obituary.  Much better news coming up soon.  Too much stuff to talk about in too little time...
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Notebook: Biffle, Harvick trade shots and insults

Posted by imelda sovzky

Notebook: Biffle, Harvick trade shots and insults
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(October 29, 2011)
MARTINSVILLE, Va.—Kevin Harvick apparently didn’t like the shot his No. 29 Chevrolet took from Greg Biffle’s No. 16 Ford during Sprint Cup practice on Saturday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway.
Biffle and Harvick traded bumps on the racetrack, then stopped beside each other at the bottom of the backstretch, apparently expressing displeasure with each other.
Later, as Biffle’s crew was pushing his car in the garage, Harvick blocked their progress with his car.
After climbing from his car, Biffle strode to Harvick’s garage stall, and, surrounded by crew members and NASCAR officials, the drivers had an animated discussion about the incidents. The discussion did not get physical.
Biffle and Harvick have a history. In 2002, Harvick was placed on probation for an altercation with Biffle at Bristol Motor Speedway that did get physical. Less than a month later, while still on probation, Harvick was parked for the Cup race at Martinsville for retaliating against Coy Gibbs in a truck series race at Martinsville.
Harvick is fifth in the Sprint Cup Series standings going into Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500. Biffle didn’t make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and is 15th in the standings with four races remaining in the season.
Cup practice portends wild scramble
It’s always best to take practice speeds with a grain of salt, but if Saturday’s only Cup practice is an indicator, there’s a wide disparity between the cars that will start Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500 at the front of the field and some of the cars that are behind them.
The problem is that the cars at the front are slower. At least they were during a practice session in which drivers ran as many as 107 laps.
When inclement weather forced cancellation of Saturday’s Cup qualifying session at Martinsville Speedway, the field was ordered according to owner points, putting Chase leader Carl Edwards on the pole, with his closest pursuer, Roush Fenway racing teammate Matt Kenseth, beside him.
Neither Edwards nor Kenseth was particularly fast in practice. Edwards posted the 29th best time, and Kenseth was 24th fastest. Brad Keselowski, who will start third, was 28th quickest. If form holds—and that’s a big “if”—slower cars will start the race at the front of the field, with faster cars deeper in the field and eager to move forward.
That’s a recipe for action at a track where battered racecars and bruised egos are commonplace.
Earnhardt won’t be riding at the back again at Talladega
So much for riding around at the back at Talladega Superspeedway and trying to stay out of trouble.
Less than a week after getting skunked by that strategy, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates had learned their lessons. With no time to improve their positions in a two-lap dash at the end of last Sunday’s Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, drafting partners Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson finished 25th and 26th, respectively.
Jeff Gordon, who lost his help when Trevor Bayne left his bumper to work with Matt Kenseth, finished 27th.
Earnhardt was asked Friday at Martinsville Speedway what his father, 10-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt, would have thought about drivers riding around at the back of the field.
“Well, I don’t really want to answer that because I think you know the answer,” Earnhardt said. “So, I was part of that team decision. I wasn’t a victim of it. I bought into the same idea that the two crew chiefs and Jimmie had, and we all did that together; and we all made the choices that got us our poor finish together. And no one person outruled or overruled the other. Everybody sort of collectively sunk the ship as the race went on.”
It didn’t take Earnhardt and the Hendrick brain trust long to reevaluate the approach to the race.
“At the end of the race, we collectively decided that we learned our lesson and that we won’t do that again. Given the opportunity to run that race over, we would have just thrown ourselves into the fight and tried to run as hard as we could and taken whatever risks needed to be taken to stay toward the front. Hindsight is 20-20, but when we get that opportunity again, I don’t think that’s a strategy we’ll ever use again.
“But I’m certain that a lot of things would be different if the old man was still around. We might not even be having to ask that question of guys riding around in the back.”
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Wet track forces cancellation of Martinsville Sprint Cup qualifying

Posted by imelda sovzky

Wet track forces cancellation of Martinsville Sprint Cup qualifying
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

(October 29, 2011)

MARTINSVILLE, Va.—With the racing surface at Martinsville Speedway still wet from overnight rains, NASCAR and the track had to adjust Saturday's schedule of events, and Sprint Cup qualifying was a casualty.

With qualifying canceled in favor of a Cup practice at noon—a postponement from a planned 8:30 a.m. ET session—the field for Sunday's Tums Fast Relief 500 was set according to owner points. That puts the 12 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, led by series leader Carl Edwards on the pole, in the first 12 starting spots for the seventh Chase race.

Sharing the front row with Edwards is Matt Kenseth, who is second in the standings, 14 points behind his Roush Fenway Racing teammate.

It also gives Edwards the right to pick pit stall No. 1, closest to the exit from pit road at the head of the backstretch. That pit box, with an unobstructed return to the track, is worth two to three positions, in the estimation of most drivers.

The starting spots and pit stall are boons to Edwards, whose best qualifying effort at the .526-mile short track is a seventh in 2010. (He started fourth in 2008 because of a rainout.) To say Edwards was happy about the turn of events is an understatement.

"Qualifying, I think, is one of the most important parts of this race, and it's no secret that's been a tough thing for me and Matt as well," Edwards said after the cancellation was announced. "So I think it's a best case for us that we get to start on the front row, and even better is the pit stall selection.

"I think that's going to last all day. No matter how much we have to work on the car or things we have to do, that first pit stall will be great. This is my first time having it, I believe, so it's the best qualifying we could have hoped for."

Kenseth may have gained the most with the washout, given that his average starting position of 23.3 in 23 attempts includes only one qualifying result better than 10th (second in last year's spring race).

Kenseth, though, can be a glass-half-empty kind of guy, and he did see a negative in the favorable starting position.

"Certainly, it's easier when you start up front," said Kenseth, who earned the second of his two top fives at Martinsville in 2007. "The only aggravating part about it is you don't have anywhere to go except backwards, so it gets aggravating if your car is not real fast, and you're losing positions."

Both Edwards and Kenseth will have a chance to lead a lap and earn a bonus point early in the race. Kenseth expects Edwards to pick the outside lane for the start of the event.

Brad Keselowski, 18 points behind Edwards, will start third beside Tony Stewart, 19 points back in fourth. Kevin Harvick, fifth in points (26 back) and the winner of the April race at Martinsville, starts on the inside of the third row beside Kyle Busch (40 points behind).

Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman will take the green flag from positions seven through 12, respectively.

Dennis Setzer and Derrike Cope failed to make the field under rainout rules, based on number of starts in the series this year.

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Gordon: Bayne may have cost himself a win

Posted by imelda sovzky

Gordon: Bayne may have cost himself a win
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(October 28, 2011)
MARTINSVILLE, Va.—In retrospect, Jeff Gordon can empathize with Trevor Bayne’s decision to abandon him and go with Ford teammate Matt Kenseth late in last Sunday’s race at Talladega.
But in doing so, Gordon said, Bayne may have deprived himself of a victory.
After the race, Gordon criticized the Daytona 500 winner for promising to work with him on the final restart, then leaving Gordon’s bumper to help Kenseth, who lost his drafting partner when David Ragan’s engine blew on the restart with two laps left.
On Friday at Martinsville Speedway, following several conversations with Bayne throughout the week, Gordon tempered his remarks.
“I spoke to Trevor numerous times,” Gordon said. “Poor guy. I felt for him, to be honest with you. I think that it was sort of an at-the-moment call that he had to make based on what was happening in the Ford camp during the week of saying, ‘Hey we’ve got to help one another out the best we can.’ I think that when the No. 17 (Kenseth) lost his drafting partner … he (Kenseth) got right in there behind Trevor and put himself in the right position and Trevor had to make a decision.
“It was unfortunate for me, and really it was unfortunate for them because they fell back also trying to get connected. At that time I definitely questioned what the intentions were and maybe what the radio transmission was and whether their intentions were never to work with me. After talking to Trevor, I feel confident that was not the case, that it was ‘The No. 17 lost his drafting partner, he could use your help or he needs you,’ whatever, and he had to let me go at that point.”
Gordon felt, however, that the sort of mandate that restricts drivers from working with other makes of cars can be detrimental.
“I unfortunately think it took away an opportunity for Trevor Bayne to win that race by doing that, and I told him this,” Gordon said. “I said, ‘Listen, one way you can think about it, OK, yeah, the No. 17 is trying to win a championship. I don’t know if that helped him or hurt him by connecting with you.’ But from a Ford standpoint, if he had pushed me all the way … and we could have battled those two guys up there for the lead (Jeff Burton and race winner Clint Bowyer) and then he could have dumped me coming to the line like Clint Bowyer did and finished ahead of me and got possibly a win or a very good finish for that team.
“I think this whole manufacturer thing, all of us have to be careful with saying we cannot work with them because you might take away the possibility of you winning the race for your manufacturer by being too strict with those guidelines. That’s just the way I feel about it. I mean, if I feel like on the last lap restart I can push a Toyota to get to the front and then leave him out coming to the line, I think that’s a win for me and for our manufacturer—and I feel like I used them to get me there. So I think that’s even an added bonus.”
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Somewhere In A Buffalo Wild Wings In St. Louis...

Posted by imelda sovzky on Friday, October 28, 2011

Texas Rangers are up 7-5 in the 9th inning.  The Cardinals are reeling with two outs and two strikes...All the Rangers need is one more strike to win the World Series...

Cardinals fans: Gee, we don't want to go home yet.  Is there any way you can make the World Series longer?  Sure thing!

*David Freese hits ball deep, fielder misses the catch by inches, two runners come in, extra innings*

Then the Rangers hit a two-run homer in the tenth, go up 9-7.  Cards in the same scenario as before--two outs, two strikes, lots of bitten nails.

Cardinals fans: No, that's no good!  We want to stay for real!  You got it.

*Lance Berkman drops ball in center field, two runners come in again, another extra inning*

Cardinals fans: Okay, finished eating our wings.  We're ready to go home now.

*David Freese hits walk-off homer in 11th to win the game, the Rangers deflate knowing they have a 0.000001% chance of winning Game 7...which is exactly what happened*


You did it, Tony!  Your team won The Big Game!  That reminds me, weren't you the cover of a Sega Genesis game I played as a young man?

But wait.  Do you see what I see?

This game was made by Electronic Arts.

Pssshh, Rangers should have won.

And the Saints are visiting the Rams in two days...enjoy winning while it lasts, St. Louis.
EDIT: S*** I'm gonna go punch a baby now.
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NASCAR plans to take 48 car to tech center for rest of season

Posted by imelda sovzky

NASCAR plans to take 48 car to tech center for rest of season
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(October 28, 2011)
MARTINSVILLE, Va.—The NASCAR research-and-development center in Concord, N.C., will have a regular customer for the rest of the season—and a familiar one.
There’s a high likelihood NASCAR will take the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson to its tech center after each of the remaining four races this season. NASCAR’s move is a reaction to crew chief Chad Knaus’ instructions before last Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Talladega, where Knaus told Johnson to make sure he damaged the rear of his car in a postrace burnout, if he won the race.
In a conversation recorded on’s RaceBuddy, Knaus told Johnson, “If we win the race, you have to crack the back of the car—got it?”
“Really?” Johnson replied.
Knaus later explained that the instructions weren’t meant to cover up an intentional violation of the rules but to account for the constant pushing and bump-drafting at Talladega that could knock the car out of tolerance.
Knaus, however, has been known to push the envelope when it comes to NASCAR’s tolerances. After the second Chase race in 2009, at Dover, NASCAR deemed the No. 48 of Johnson and the No. 5 of Mark Martin precariously close to the limits allowed for the position of the car body on the frame. For the rest of the season, the No. 48 and 5 were regular visitors to the tech center.
After NASCAR met with Johnson and Knaus on Friday morning at Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp issued the following statement:
“We had the opportunity to visit with Chad and Jimmie this morning at Martinsville. As the sport’s governing body, we were doing our due diligence to look into this and gain some insight into the comments Chad made before the race at Talladega.
“We have a responsibility to the rest of the garage area to ensure that everybody is competing on a level playing field with the inspection processes we have in place. The 48 organization knows that from this occurrence their car is likely to be a regular customer at the R&D center for post-race inspection the balance of the season.”
Johnson came to Knaus’ defense on Friday morning.
“That car passed inspection multiple times throughout the course of the weekend,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, while Chad was trying to protect himself postrace, he made a foolish statement. That’s truly it. At the end of the day, that car passed inspection multiple times at an impound race and was pushed out onto the grid.
“It was certainly something that we did not want to take place. You can tell from my reaction it was something I had never heard in the car from him before, and it is what it is. The car passed tech at the racetrack multiple times, and people have to build faith in that. Chad and I certainly respect NASCAR and their inspection process, and unfortunately it happened for really no reason at all, and now we have to put it behind us.”
For accuracy’s sake, it should be noted that Clint Bowyer’s winning car from last year’s Chase race at New Hampshire also passed all inspections at the racetrack but was deemed out of tolerance after it was taken to the tech center and measured with lasers.
In Bowyer’s case, NASCAR rejected Bowyer’s defense that the car was knocked out of tolerance by a push from a tow truck.
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King Keselowski?

Posted by imelda sovzky

King Keselowski? Wild Card Makes Case As Next In Line To NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Throne

October 27, 2011

Guest Column By Cathy Elliott

The art of eavesdropping is highly underrated. It seems people will only express how they really feel when they think no one is listening.

Case in point: While watching the race at Talladega Superspeedway on October 23, a guy sitting next to me felt compelled to blurt out to no one in particular that "I can’t believe THAT guy might actually win the championship."
THAT guy in question was Brad Keselowski, who finished fourth in the race and moved up three spots in the championship standings, heading to Martinsville ranked third in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Keselowski hasn’t really been the type to quietly work his way into the world of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing. He came in with a bang and has gotten increasingly louder ever since.
He got his first Cup win as a part-time driver in 2009, basically knocking Carl Edwards out of the way to take the checkered flag at Talladega. Since then, he has earned a reputation as being a take-no-prisoners kind of guy, not above a little bit of fender-smacking, or a lot of smack-talking.
He finished the 2010 season 25th in the driver standings. Ordinarily that would be considered a forgettable number, but everyone remembers Brad.
This season, he has elevated himself from being the equivalent of the loud-mouthed new kid in the schoolyard to the guy who, back in August, gutted it out to win a race with a broken ankle, and who scratched and clawed his way to one of the two wild card positions in the Chase. Thanks to a competent and dedicated support system, he has not only snuck his way into the dance, but now he has caught the eye of the prince.
Or has he? Of the top five in the standings – Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Keselowski, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick – the driver who seems to be getting the least amount of love and attention is perhaps the best story of the lot.
Granted, Edwards, Kenseth, Stewart and Harvick hardly fall into the category of unpleasant stepsisters, but when did we stop rooting for Cinderella?
The Cinderella story is one of the coolest experiences in sports, a moment in time when the team or athlete from which people expect very little goes out and kicks some tailpipe, advancing much further than anyone ever anticipated.
Their story goes down in history, used again and again not only as incontrovertible proof that the underdog really can rise up to lead the pack, but as an inspirational tool for all of us. It reminds us that regardless of what ladder you are attempting to climb, it looks an awful lot higher from the bottom looking up than it does from the top looking down.
Who, after all, would ever have dreamed that THOSE guys, the unconventional upstart Texas Western men’s basketball team, would beat the mighty Kentucky Wildcats to win the NCAA title in 1966? In the 1980 Olympics, accomplishing a "Miracle on Ice" against a dominant Soviet team seemed simply impossible, but THOSE guys, the U.S. men’s hockey team, made it happen.
Who would have predicted that when leaving Talladega, five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson would be practically out of the discussion and that Brad Keselowski would be among the top three?
Well, for starters, THAT guy would. "That was exactly how we needed to leave Talladega, with a strong finish. We gained points on the leader and gained points on really all the Chase cars," he said. "I’m very proud of the effort that everyone on this Miller Lite Dodge has put forth thus far. We’re still in contention, and we have a damn good shot at winning this championship."
Sometimes we chase things, and sometimes things chase us. As the story goes, the prince chased Cinderella down, and as he held out the slipper, he found that it went on very easily, almost as if it had been designed for her particular foot.
We still don’t know what the ultimate outcome will be, but we do know this: We have seen THAT guy, Brad Keselowski, win with a heavy foot, and a canny foot, and even a broken foot. So as far as the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup goes, if the ultimate magical shoe fits, he might not only wear it. He just might win it.

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Electronic Arts: What It Means For Daytona USA & My Future Career

Posted by imelda sovzky

Okay, there's still a few things on the stack for me to talk about but this is one of 'em and it's sort of relevant.


Here at FIEA, there's this HUGE wave of advertising for Electronic Arts.  EA has studios all over the country.  Speakers show up on occasion to talk about stuff.  Even my programming teacher worked at EA for some time.  The main reason why is because EA is probably one of the most accommodating to entry-level game designers.  Clearly, one of their goals is to stroll by the building, advertise, and hire as many new employees as possible.  Then assign them to Madden, FIFA, Rugby, whatever the hell there is.


But I'll get to careers at EA in just a second.  We had a speaker from EA today who has 17 years worth of experience with them.  What his name was, I forgot...I'll probably update this if I find out.  EDIT: It's Dave Ross.  He was talking about licensed content.  About how you must balance working within the demands of the license's owners come hell or high water.  He was talking about Madden, NCAA Football, Lord of the Rings, all that good stuff.  Also, he mentioned EA is bringing back NFL Blitz...awesome, though I thought NFL Street 1 & 2 were awesome too (though NFL Street 3 and NFL Tour sucked ass).

He got to the subject of NASCAR (this is when the vast majority of the audience groans).  He was talking about the hoops they had to jump through to get the games made.  They needed the actual NASCAR license which also came with the drivers & teams.  Then they needed advertisements and all that crap.  They also needed to license the tracks which were separate from the NASCAR name.  It costs about $10,000 per track to license.

Now this is where things get dicey.  We all know that Sega made Daytona USA (1994), Daytona USA 2 (1998), and Daytona USA 2001 (uh...2001).  Now I actually asked this guy after the presentation what he knew about the Daytona license and how it pertained to EA.  Now some may have a hunch about what happened, but this is what I got out of this.  I think I'm right but I'm not 100% sure.  Please correct me politely if I'm wrong (with proof, of course).

Sega got exclusive rights to the Daytona name back in 1994.  How did they pull it off???  I don't know...but basically, EA couldn't put the Daytona track in their NASCAR games until 2001.  That's right--Sega basically denied EA the Daytona track.  So while we hate on EA for taking the Daytona name from us, bear in mind that Sega did the same thing back in the day.

Yeah, TAKE IT EA!!!

This also explains why Sega had an influx of Daytona games in the late 90's.  Daytona 2, Daytona DC, Daytona CCE/Deluxe.  Sega was sort of "obligated" to make an arcade sequel to Daytona 1 so they went ahead and did it.  Scud Race (1996) was originally some Daytona 2 prototype but they changed it to the touring car them we know today.  Then they went ahead and made an actual Daytona 2 (1998) based off the engine they used for Scud Race.

This game did not have Daytona in it thanks to Sega.  Hmm, would you rather Daytona USA 1 & 2 OR a Nascar '98 game with Daytona in it?  The choice is obvious.  Although I am eternally grateful to EA and NASCAR '98 for introducing me to Flirting With Disaster by Molly Hatchet.

By 2001 (give or take a year), after the license had run its course, Daytona struck exclusive rights to three companies--EA, Papyrus, and Monster Games.  This meant that Sega couldn't make another "Daytona" game even if they wanted to.  So basically, EA returned the favor with a haymaker to Sega's face.  But that's to be understood since EA made a friggin official NASCAR game WITHOUT the hallmark Daytona International Speedway.

Then again, even if Sega could've used the Daytona trademark, odds are they wouldn't have because they're incompetent like that.

After EA made their last NASCAR game (2009), the Daytona licensed was liberated.  Then anyone could get it.  Which explains why NASCAR: The Game (made by Eutechnyx) and Daytona USA (XBL/PSN) both held the same license.  So the Daytona trademark owners were just stingy like that.  Now they've loosened up a bit which is good.  No excuse now for Sega to make more Daytona games!  I guess.  Once Nagoshi-San wakes up from the tanning salon.


Speaking of the great gods of gaming over there at EA, let me describe this drive for EA to hire new students.  Like I said, they do a lot of advertising over at FIEA.  You know they're gunning for us newbies.  When entering the marketplace, it's like the NFL draft.  Except that EA owns two-thirds of the picks.

In the eighth pick of the FIEA draft, EA selects...Eric (last name excluded).  You'll begin working on Need for Speed immediately.  Have fun!

Other companies that have expressed interest in new students is Xynga (oh boy, love working on gimmicky games like Farmville), Interactive Studios (Epic Mickey), and uh....I think Bioware (Dragon Age, Mass Effect, OMG ROXOR MY SOXORS).  They had a couple of FIEA alumni from Bioware come back to speak so maybe this means they're hiring...?  I don't know.

Compare that to companies like Blizzard and Valve who have little interest in "newbies"--they go for experienced employees more than anything.  Though that's not set in stone--if you're a good student and you strike gold, you MAY get lucky.

Anyway, I'm not going to come on here and bash EA more than I do.  Yeah sure, many of their games are mediocre.  Yeah sure, Origin is spyware in a box.  EDIT: They're going over the line pressuring game journalists over Battlefield 3 reviews.  Way too easy to take pokes at "evil corporations" these days.  Although if you hate EA for that reason, then you might as well hate Sega too since they're on par (sort of...Sega isn't as strong as they used to be).

Though my main goal is to work Sega.  Well DUH, you know that.  But Sega is risky business.  For one, they're located in California...San Francisco to be intact.  Is that good for me to travel that far to an economically-reeling state where you can smoke pot all you want but can't even get toys in your Happy Meals anymore?  EA has studios everywhere in North America so they're much more flexible to work for.  They're even opening a studio near Baton Rouge (an hour drive from my hometown of Slidell, LA).  It's a stable company and working for them would be easy sailing.

But is that why I entered the game industry to begin with?  To work on perennial Madden titles for the rest of my career?  I don't think so.  We're here to HELP SEGA.  That's one of my primary goals.

Take the blue pill, go work for Electronic Arts.  It's an easy job with a decent salary but hardly rewarding at the end of the day.
Take the red pill, try to work for Sega.  Travel half-way across the country and be forced to live a different lifestyle.  Possibly get fired and are stranded from home.  But you get a shot at flying to Japan, meeting the Sega crew & Yu Suzuki, and working on a new Daytona title.
So what's it gonna be???

Though EA is prevalent here, not everyone kisses up to them.  Some say that EA is a good place to begin working at to gain experience but it's not someplace that many people want to stay.  While EA publishes a lot of self-made sports titles and coolio games like Mass Effect, they're stale when you think about it.  So if I do work for EA, just consider that it's not permanent at all.  Though this makes EA sound like a revolving door of good little drones and that's not fun.

Anyway...not much else for me to say.  EA is EA.  Haters gonna hate.
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Kenseth knows Martinsville will test all of his patience

Posted by imelda sovzky on Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kenseth knows Martinsville will test all of his patience

By Jim Pedley
Special to Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

(October 27, 2011)

You wouldn't think that maintaining a calm disposition would be a problem for Matt Kenseth. Ever. Like, those drinks designed to keep people energized for five hours don't get the Roush Fenway Racing driver through breakfast.
But, Kenseth says, there are a couple of occasions during the Sprint Cup season when even his cyborg-like demeanor is tested. And with Sunday's race being at Martinsville, this weekend is one of those occasions.
"Probably over the years," Kenseth said, "besides the challenge of getting around Martinsville at a competitive pace, probably the most challenging part for me is being calm and using my head and thinking through things and not doing something because you are mad. More so than any other track."
And more so than in recent years, Kenseth may want to detour around Starbucks on raceday this weekend. Because this fall, the 39-year-old driver from Wisconsin is in prime position to win his second Cup championship.
With four races left to go in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kenseth sits second in points. He is just 14 points behind Carl Edwards, his Roush Fenway teammate.
And after Sunday's Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville
where he has never won
Kenseth will head to three tracks to where he has won.
So, while Kenseth's team has horsepower and setups on its mind, the driver has his mind on his mind.
"The first thing is getting the car to go fast all the time, be smooth and drive it like I am supposed to there," Kenseth said of Martinsville. "After that, it's being patient and using your head to get the best finish you can."
The reason that Martinsville becomes such a big test of patience is the track itself. At .526 miles around, it is the smallest
and hence, most crowded
circuit on the schedule.
Its shape also presents calmness-robbing aggravation: Its paperclip configuration, with relatively long straights leading to tight corners, tends to "accordion" the field and make passing difficult. "It is like racing around two light poles in the parking lot somewhere," Kenseth said.
And with 42 other cars.
"For me," Kenseth said, "a lot of times I get credit from (the media) about not doing something stupid. That is probably a place I have done more stupid stuff than any other track. I don't like getting run into and I don't like running into other people. It is bound to happen there and it is such a small little track.
"There is no room to move and there is not an outside groove where you have another choice to pass. It is one of the tracks that takes all the patience that I have usually. Especially when your car isn't running good because I hate getting passed and you feel like you are getting passed all day and you are in the way and that is frustrating."
Kenseth has only two top-five finishes in 23 Martinsville starts. He knows he needs to do much better than his average finish of 15.8 on Sunday.
Hence his answer when asked if he has allowed himself to think about becoming the 2011 champion.
"You can't help but think about it a little when you are asked about it," Kenseth said. "You realize you are in the Chase and running good but I honestly don't spend much time thinking about it at all. I am glad we are in the mix but … there is a ton of racing to do and it really doesn't matter until we get to Homestead where we are."
Spoken like a true cyborg.
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Daytona USA Port Impressions/Review

Posted by imelda sovzky on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Final Score: 10/10.  Did you expect anything less??  Well, forget about the number, here my impressions that I'm just throwing out there.

Game looks great in widescreen.  Sweet framerate and awesome colors.  Handles just like the original arcade.  I'm playing this with my regular Xbox controller here and I didn't have any apparent problems with sensitivity.  It's fine as is.  Some of the AI cars have fairly blocky textures but that's just a slight issue at best.

Now about the gameplay.  Well, at first, I was sucking pretty bad.  Took me some time to get used to it.  My best advice for drifting is to keep the brake/lower gear held down for slightly longer than usual until the car kicks out from underneath you.  Then don't be eager to step on the gas again.  Let the car slide without gas/brake held for a little bit until you regain stability.  Like pretty much every Sega racer, I can't just tell you what to do--you'll have to play it a few times to get a hang of it (like I did).  The game also includes a subtle rewind mode (think Forza) for standard Arcade races if you are getting frustrated (access it from the pause screen).

About online play.  Well, I got to play online about seven or eight times, most on Beginner.  There's two "modes," Type A and Type B.  Type A has Catch Up on, Type B does not.  I played on Type A a lot and Beginner races were very intense.  People can nudge each other quite a bit (not like Forza though where the slightest contact means death).  Sometimes you will get smashed against the wall and fall back.  However, with Catch Up on, I got back in the race rather quickly.  Racers were four-wide on the back straightaway!!!  Crazy!!!

 Scene just before the Sonic turn

I got on a little winning streak here on the Beginner course.  You have the worst chance of winning though if you were to wipe out on the final lap, of course.  Early wrecks aren't that big of a deal since you can rebound quite easily just in time to finish.  When playing for real, turn handicap off...Real Players Only!!!

You can also enable AI cars online.  A motorcade of purple 99 cars that basically serve to aid (draft/slipstream) or hinder (rear-end) you.  Your position against the AI is irrelevant--you're only overtaking other XBL players.

I do have four minor complaints about online:

One, you cannot use the Player 1 thru 8 cars in single player.  Heck, when you join the server, you have no choice over what player you are, period (top of the lobby list descending is P1, P2, P3, etc.).  But I'm nitpicky like that.

Second, the other players' cars can jump around due to lag.  This isn't new to racing games but still worth mentioning.  The AI cars don't jump around as much but I've still accidentally collided with them because the lag made them appear farther away than they really were.

Third, there's no option to race tracks backwards (I think so anyway).  You can however race them mirrored (left is right and vice versa).  When playing courses with the Random option selected, I ended up racing mirrored Advance...a huge mind f*** if I ever saw one.  The game still has the options for Endurance races (with tire wear) so that's a plus.  But a two-hour Daytona run...geez, that can get tiring quick.

Last and certainly least, once you press Start in the lobby menu, you can't go back and change your transmission.  Got stuck with AT once and had to live with it.  Yeah, it's stupid, I know.

Then there's three special modes, none of them are that life-changing.  The first is Challenge mode, which is basically thirty Gran Turismo license tests (ten per course).  None of them are super-hard but are a decent way of learning the mechanics of the game.  Stuff like pass cars and keep your speed above a certain level.  If you've played this game before, it's fairly easy to plow through the whole thing in an hour.  Forget the star difficult ratings--the hardest challenge is #7 on Advanced with the 180 downhill turn (your speed can't drop below 140 mph...or maybe I just suck at that particular corner).

There's one thing about the Challenges that's strange.  In #8 of Beginner, the goal is to hit ten cones before the time runs out.  Okay, super-easy.  But the cones are laid along the black strip in the pit lane which means that--yes--the pit stop exploit is back!!!  You're still forced to pit if you don't drive on the strip.  The developers must be aware of this and chose to keep it in.  That's something I disagree with but it's a touchy issue--I know.  Just strange how it works.

Your goal for beating all the Challenges is a sense of pride and a Hornet XBL Gamerpic.  You only need to beat one challenge for the achievement.

Survival is basically an endurance race around a given track with EXTREME tire wear in effect (can't drive more than a few minutes without losing control).  Pass other cars, drive through checkpoints, and do other good things to add more time to the clock.  Fun for some people.  Karaoke is rather pointless.  The words of the song appear on the screen during an free drive session (no AI or timer) and that's it.  King of Speed (Beginner course) is basically a bunch of "Ah"s after the first thirty seconds.  Still good for the laughs.

One more general complaint and I know to some this will sound stupid...but there's not a whole lot of record keeping in this game.  Sure, there's the Time Trial modes for the two cars and three tracks but that's just about the only thing that's recorded.  EDIT: Okay, there's a online leaderboard for "Miles Driven," I must've overlooked it.  I already got 200/200 gamerscore within the first hour of playing so what's to keep someone really glued to this?  A Call of Duty/World of Warcraft-style XP system, that's what!!!

Another thing came to mind.  Since this is the same people that ported After Burner Climax, I was hoping that this game would include more little fun cheats/switches.  Like how about a Daytona To The Max mode with turbo boosts and bigger tires?  Or how about the Horse from the Saturn games?  Oh, this is stupid.

After playing this game for about two hours, I had to stop since my fingers were hurting from all the intense action-packed racing...geez.

So the game is great, but obviously it's a small game.  Reviewers may pass it off as another ho-hum arcade title with little content (although I will boycott any sites that review it less than a 9.9).   It also makes me want a Daytona USA 3/Sega Racing Megamaix even more.  But I don't know.  A lot of people will be very happy with this.  I'll jump into some online races again soon.  That's it, buy this game.  Only ten bucks.  This game should really be worth sixty, but you're lucky it's only ten, ha....
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