Santa Pod Hosts European Drag Racing Finals

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For most normal people in the British Isles, chugging to the shops in something dull, the idea of drag racing conjures up images of glamorous Yanks, sun-drenched desert airfields and blingin’ USA style showmanship, as ridiculously powerful nitrous-methane fuelled drag cars launch their sacrificial pilots into mind-numbingly fast races which are over in seconds.

drag carWell, small English village Podington in Bedfordshire may not be Arizona, but Santa Pod lives up to the image in every other respect. Between 8-11 September around 300 race teams and up to 25,000 spectators will descend on this normally peaceful corner of England for Europe’s most prestigious high-stakes drag racing meet for the 45th European finals.

The event plays host to the Top Fuel class of drag racer – the sport’s answer to F1, but with the horsepower of a NASA launch rocket under every bonnet. Top Fuel ‘cars’ can unleash an incredible 8,000bhp to hit top speeds of over 300 miles per hour in just a quarter of a mile of acceleration. The investment is astronomical, as are the prizes.

Although these vehicles have more in common with the Space Shuttle than a family hatchback, it is the challenge of staying on the ground that must be overcome. Rather than challenging Earth’s gravitational pull, a drag racer’s life depends on staying firmly attached to the runway.

For the race teams striving to confidently thrust their implausible monstrosities beyond the reach of the competition, victory is all about walking a fine line between safety, possibility, and disaster. Fine-tuning these awesome examples of engineering, success relies on finding the absolute maximum acceleration possible without just burning rubber.

As many drag racers have sadly found over the years, these vastly expensive machines often spin out, flip or explode along with their brave (or insane?) drivers due to the same pulverising vigour that’s meant to win races. Since the days of American pioneers drag-racing on normal roads were put to an end and sportsters were made to comply with safety rules, the numbers of accidents have steadily declined – but don’t we all have a memory of seeing one of these things blow up on telly?

So far so lucky, Britain’s biggest drag star (not Dame Edna) is a four time FIA champion. Last year Andy Carter achieved the fastest winning run in Europe; crossing the 1/4 mile finish line at 320.19mph after just 4.572 seconds.

Just don’t make any jokes about stamina – you know when these bad boys are on their way… and then it’s all over.

Gerry Bern

 

 

Gerry Bern 2011

Although Gerry’s 13 mile journey to work would only take about 150 seconds in Andy Carter’s Top Fuel land-rocket, the author plans to save a lot of money and his skin by finding a used car on Autoweb.co.uk instead. Let’s assume nitrous-methane powered beasts are out of the question – a used Audi is more my style!

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"Welcome to Big 40 College Football"

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football

It isn’t that bad yet but nothing is out of the question. What we seem to have is a Conference game of musical chairs. Every NCAA team wants to be sure it gets a seat in a better conference (and of course the money that goes with it). Every NCAA Conference seems to be wooing schools in other conferences to come join them.

* The Big 10 may not be able to count (there are 11 teams) but now they want to go to 12 or maybe 14 or 16.

*The PAC 10 (they can count) is looking to move to 12 or maybe 14.

*The Big 12 is just trying to hold on to their teams but would like to take in 2 more as well.

*The Big East and ACC are hiding under a blanket hoping other conferences won’t find them there.

The Big 10

According to the rumors floating around, the league has invited Missouri, Nebraska, and Rutgers to join the league. They have been courting Notre Dame for years but the Irish have their own TV deal with NBC and think they are too good to become a member. Nebraska is not likely to leave their rivalry with Oklahoma but both Missouri and Rutgers are likely to join.

But that leaves an odd number of teams at 13. If those two join look for the league to recruit either UConn, West Virginia, Pittsburgh or Syracuse to get to 14.

The Big 12

If Missouri leaves the league will be 1 short. TCU would be the most likely candidate to replace the Tigers. But if the Big 10 goes to 14, the Big 12 will want to follow. That would bring TCU, SMU, and either Rice or Houston to the fold. TCU, SMU and Rice were all part of the Southwest Conference that got raided by the Big 12.

SEC

If both the Big 10 and Big 12 got to 14 teams, the SEC will be forced to follow. There are rumors that the SEC is trying to lure Florida State and Miami out of the ACC to join their league. That would gut the football aspects of the ACC and force them to steal teams from the Big East or Conference USA.

Pac 10

The Pac 10 will want to expand as well to keep up with the other leagues. The most likely to join it are Utah and BYU. If they decide to go to 14 they would look at Utah State and either Wyoming or Colorado State.

That leaves a number of leagues with not enough teams and would undoubtedly lead to more raiding. The Big East would probably disappear unless they can raid Conference USA for teams like Memphis and Marshall. The ACC would go after South Florida (Big East) and UCF (USA).

The bottom line is that no league is safe as long as the big 3 are sniffing around for more teams. It will change the landscape of college sports and not for the better. Bigger conferences will lead to more bowl games. After all, the NCAA was thinking about having 96 team in the Basketball Championship Tournament. So what is wrong with having 48 bowl games?

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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What to look for this weekend in football

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football

College

Pac10 Championship—sort of

Oregon beat Oregon State 37-33 for the league title and the Rose Bowl ticket. In the end, it was the running and passing of the Ducks that won the game. The Ducks will give Ohio State all they want.

SEC Championship We finally get to see #1 Florida against #2 Alabama. It should be a defensive struggle again this year like it was last season. However, Bama seems to have a little more explosiveness to their O than the Gators. The game will be determined by turnovers and will be low scoring and close. The Bama D is as good as the Florida D so the game will depend on the QB’s ability to move the ball on the opponent. Most experts think that Bama will win but I can’t go against Tebow. When the game is in the balance he always seems to find a way to win.

Big12 Championship

#3 Texas will have their way with a good but too young #22 Nebraska team in this game. The game will be the showcase for QB Colt McCoy and should elevate him to a Heisman award as much for his body of work as for this season. The Huskers are a year away from challenging for a B12 title.

#5 Cincinnati @ #15 Pitt

The Bearcats are playing for a BcS game and should win. Pitt looked very ordinary last week in a loss to West Virginia. I expect the Cats’ D to be too much for the talented but turnover prone Panthers.

USA Conference Championship

If you haven’t seen Houston QB Keenum, take a look at this game. He is fun to watch. The Houston O is a wide open passing game that will throw the ball all over the East Carolina D. Nobody is going to want to get paired with Houston in a bowl game.

NFL

Eagles @ Falcons

QB Vick makes his return to Atlanta but won’t be a factor. Both teams are chasing after a playoff spot. The loser will likely be out of the race. The Falcons play well at home but the Eagles should win.

Titans @ Colts

QB Young will have his winning streak ended with a thud but most likely it won’t be his fault. The Titan D has been playing better with Young at QB because he has been able to keep drives alive with his legs. The problems in the pass D of the Titans will be exploited by Manning. The Colts won’t blow them away because they tend to play down to competition but the Colts will win.

Cowboys @ Giants

Well, it’s December and time for the Boys to take their annual dive. Everything points to a Boys win but Romo doesn’t play well after Turkey day. The Boys need a win to keep up on the Eagles. I have to think that the Boys will find a way to lose rather than Giants winning the game.

Vikings @ Cards

IF QB Warner plays, this should be a good close game filled with offense. But I don’t think he will and the Vikes will win. QB Leinart couldn’t beat the Titans last week and folds under a good pass rush. The Vikes turn up the heat on D and win the game.

Ravens @ Packers

The Ravens have struggled in the last couple of weeks but should find the Pack D a little easier to run on. But in the end, the Pack O will be too much for an aging Raven D. Pack wins in a close game.

Seattle fires their GM.

Tim Ruskett, the GM that replaced Coach Holmgren in that role. Some people are assuming that Holmgren will come back to take that job along with the Presidency of the team. I don’t think that will happen. Holmgren didn’t have a great history drafting players. Check out my analysis of his draft history on NFLDraftDog.com.

Browns lose all hope.

The Browns lost their best player on D—NT Rogers and best player on O—RB Lewis to the IR. What will hurt even more, their best player overall in Mr. Everything, Cribbs. Cribbs let a kickoff free ball lay in the end zone against the Bengals. That was not a brain cramp; it was a signal that he has given up on the team, the coaching staff and his chance for getting the contract that he was promised. Again, I will comment on this more in my weekly article on NFLDraftDog.com.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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