Views from the Grandstand

Kay Bell | December 01, 2009

The Perfect Gift Ideas

Special presents for both racers and racing fans


giftDear Santa,

It’s that time again. I’m sure you and your garage elves have been fine-tuning the old sleigh so you can circumnavigate the globe in record time. And I’m sure you’re well aware which drivers, teams and series bosses have been naughty or nice this year.

Still, I wanted to offer a few suggestions. Some of these proposed gifts aren’t exactly what the recipients want, but they are what they — and fans — really need.

Kyle Busch: Yes, Santa, I know he’s NASCAR’s resident bad boy, but he still should get something more than a lump of coal. I have the perfect gift for young Mr. Busch. He needs a track mommy. I know he seemed to get his act together as the season progressed, but I’m not convinced. If he had a mom there for every race, she could listen to his whining, dry his tears and straighten him out as only a mother can.

Joey Logano: He needs the flipside of the parental coin, a new track daddy. Unfortunately for the quiet and disarming young racer, his real daddy has a temper. I don’t begrudge any parent the right to be protective, but Tom Logano’s run-in with Greg Biffle after a Nationwide race was uncalled for. Yes, the Biff put Joey into the wall back in the October California race. But it was just a racing deal, and Joey came back to win. If your child is going to hold a full-time job in a big-league sport, you need to back off and let him handle the on- and off-track incidents himself.

Kyle Petty: Racing fans would love to see Kyle back in a car, but he’s doing a nice job as a TV race commentator. We’d just like you to give him more airtime — as a Project Runway guest judge. For real. Kyle told us via Twitter that he likes the show. And during his appearance, the contestants could design motorcycle apparel that could be spotlighted during Kyle’s annual cross-country trek that raises money for his Victory Junction Camp.

Richard Childress and Kevin Harvick: Please bring both men a case — OK, two cases — of aspirin. They’ll need the medication to ease the pain of the forced smiles they’ll be wearing in 2010 as they soldier through the last year of their contracts. Yeah, yeah, both say all is good, but no one’s seen a happy Harvick in a while. And there was way too much smoke coming from that garage in 2009 for there not to have been some fire.

Tony Stewart: Speaking of smoke, I know it seems as if Tony got his Christmas present early, what with such a successful inaugural year for his new Stewart-Haas team. But please, Santa, bring us fans the old Tony, not this responsible adult wearing the Old Spice-Office Depot firesuit! Tony, we know you’re the boss now, but throw us a bone by throwing a tantrum now and then!

Danica Patrick: The “it” girl of racing desperately needs some dignity, so, Santa, please help her drop the GoDaddy affiliation or at least demand the URL registry company lose those tacky, tasteless commercials in which she appears. And as a stocking stuffer, Santa, help Danica pick a series. She’s been flirting with NASCAR but has also indicated she’ll be back in IRL next season. Running races in both series is a recipe for disaster. If you don’t believe me, take former open-wheeler and current NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya’s advice for Patrick: “You’re going to get comfortable in one thing and then you’re going to get to the other thing, and every time it’s going to be like night and day.”

Dario Franchitti: A set of nice hairbrushes would be perfect since his flowing locks obviously gave him Samson-like ability to claim his second IRL championship this year. Of course, being back in open wheel didn’t hurt the Scot. He definitely was much more comfortable in IRL, and it was great to see Dario rebound from a disastrous detour into NASCAR.

Chase for the Championship contenders: Santa, remember that voodoo doll you brought Jeff Gordon last year to help him try to stop the 48 juggernaut? Well maybe if you give one to all the other 11 Chase competitors, the

Jimmie Johnson-Chad Knaus train could be derailed in 2010. Black magic appears to be the only thing that will stop this dynamic NASCAR duo.

Everyone: Santa, all of us — drivers, team owners, officials and fans — would certainly appreciate anything you can do to help end the current economic recession. A better economy would allow teams in all racing leagues to secure sponsorships, and fans would be able to afford to go to more races.

Well, that’s my racing wish list, Santa. I hope you can find a way to get at least a few of the items under the appropriate tree this Dec. 25. Have a safe journey, and we’ll look for you at the track during your off-season.


LOOSE LUGNUTS

Powerhouse of a woman? Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of International Speedway Corp., was named by Forbes magazine as the “Most Powerful Woman in Sports.” Really? Interesting. Forbes said it focused primarily on individuals “whose decisions affect the largest sports-related revenue streams, be they from teams, leagues or corporate sponsors.” But Kennedy’s sport has been struggling more than most of late because of its dependence on sponsors affected by the sluggish economy. I think the magazine’s choice says more about the state of women in sports than it does about Kennedy’s ability or power.

F1 soap operatics If you don’t follow Formula 1 racing, you really should, for the on- and off-track action. The latest example of high drama comes from new-in-2010 Ferrari teammates. Felipe Massa told Autosport.com he believes Fernando Alonso, who will join him at Scuderia Ferrari next season, knew about a deliberate plot to cause the crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix that ensured Alonso’s championship. The FIA’s official investigation cleared Alonso of any involvement. Despite his “hunch” about the crash, Massa swears it won’t affect his future relationship with the Spaniard. Yeah, right.

$8 million for 8 races? All us female race fans are aware of the higher-priced hair product that justifies its cost with the tagline “because you’re worth it.” It looks like Danica Patrick is appropriating that motto. Reports have surfaced that Danica and her agents are asking for $8 million for eight races in NASCAR Nationwide and possibly ARCA RE/MAX Series events. Hey, if you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

Happily ever after That’s what I wish Erin Crocker and Ray Evernham, who tied the knot in Las Vegas at the end of August. Despite the location, it was a traditional wedding, not a quick event presided over by an Elvis impersonator. The couple, who caused a stir when they dated while Ray was Erin’s boss, has shifted to a lower-gear life. Erin’s driving sprint, not Sprint Cup, cars. Ray sold most of his Cup team and is an ESPN analyst. And now they are newlyweds. Congratulations!

Kay Bell is an Austin, Texas-based writer. When she’s not yelling at her television during NASCAR races, she blogs about taxes and other financial topics at www.dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com.

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