No Time For Champagne

Not long after the last few champagne corks popped at Eastern States Championships at Road Atlanta, I was buckled in my rental car, blasting back to the airport to make my flight, and not by much.

The NASA Championships are a huge production for the host region and NASA staff all around the country, and, of course for the racers. If you read Jim Pantas’ column a few pages ahead of this one, you get an idea of how much it takes to put on an event of such scale.

Never having competed in a Championships event, I can only speculate the kind of commitment, hard work and planning it takes to get a car ready and get out the door and have what you need to succeed. Maybe one day.

However, when NASA staff and racers are winding down after grinding through the Championships, we’re just getting fired up here at Speed News. It’s one of those instances where you sit and look at everything that needs to be done and think to yourself, “Where do I even begin?”

First, there was the matter of getting our art director, Ashley Horne, moving on things other than the Championships feature, so I started there. I assembled the story about understanding air flow from contributor Neil Roberts. I know we’ve done stories on aerodynamics before, but the one in this issue is excellent, with new information presented in a simple way that’s easy to understand.

I then turned in the Motorsports Tourist story on Sonoma Raceway written by NASA General Counsel John Lindsey. There’s lots of great information there, with suggestions for places to stay, eat and drink. If you ever thought about taking some vacation time after a Championships event, Sonoma would be one of the best places to do so.

Before you leave for Sonoma, be sure to study the instructional feature on getting around Sonoma Raceway the fast way. 2013 GTS3 Champion and NASA NorCal racer Tony Colicchio holds the class track record there — and at a few other tracks — so there is lot to learn from his feature.

Then of course there was the 800-pound gorilla, the story Eastern States Championships. First, I had to transcribe all the recorded interviews I grabbed after each race was over. I wish there were an application that would take people’s spoken words and reliably turn them into words on a screen. The ones I’ve tried result in gibberish, so the only way to do it is the old-fashioned way.

Then I had to sort through and select all the images of the winners from the races and Time Trials. Lucky for me, I got a major assist from Chris Schutze of Finish Line Productions. If you’re looking for images from the Championships, he’s got a bunch of great stuff. Look him up at

Once I got all the interviews transcribed, it was time to write the stories, which is quite a process. First, I have to make sure the people I interviewed on the podium were still winners after tech inspections that I never witness. In the case of this year’s Honda Challenge 2 race, that turned out to be several people, so be sure to read that one. Then I have to write the stories as best I can, cross-referencing starting grids with official results, racer quotes and past Championships to provide the reader with any relevant background, such as past Championships and the like. It’s an enormous task.

As I write this, we’re getting close to putting this issue to bed, and I hope you really enjoy it. As I’ve said before, it’s a mountain of work, but for me it sure beats math and heavy lifting. I’ll have time for champagne later — probably after we finish the Western States Championships issue.

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