The Truth About Racing

The new season of Formula 1 racing is upon us. The F1 Grand Prix at Melbourne, Australia will start this year’s festivities. I became a fan about 4 years ago or so and I have to say that I could not be happier. Now, if you live in the US, you probably have a tainted view of racing on account of the whole NASCAR abomination. Let me start off by saying that it is my opinion that NASCAR is a disease to the racing world.

You may be thinking to yourselves, “Isn’t that a little harsh?” ┬áThe easiest answer is NO!

The basis of racing is the skill of the driver. Please, tell me how much skill it takes to have the gas on full throttle, turn the steering wheel the same direction, and sweat for three hours. An F1 driver, on the other hand, must actually use the brakes to slow down for upwards of nearly 20 turns per lap and know the optimal speed and angle at which to take said turn.

The “series of turns” are what makes a race interesting. They are also the true test as to whether a driver is worthy to race in the first place.

WARNING: I am about to lay down a harsh insult to any paved oval track racer (I will mention how Indy racing is slightly, and I do mean slightly, better than NASCAR later). I realize that some F1 drivers have made the transition to NASCAR, but I am unable to respect them as a result.

The insult in my own words: “Any monkey can drive an oval track.”

This is an insult because I am implying that a monkey could do a better job behind the wheel than the driver (I know, you really did need the explanation, right?). The curves on an oval track are so big, they’re practically straightaways and they easily run three-wide on them. If you don’t have to down-shift at least one gear, then it’s not a curve. Therefore, oval track drivers are (un?)glorified drag racers. Drag racing surely takes more skill by the way.

Next, comes NASCAR’s concept of “bumping.” I’d be lying if I knew the strategy behind it, because frankly, it doesn’t make sense. Basically, it just involves cars hitting each other, many times this results in crashes. I will note that crashes are the only thing that make NASCAR worth anything to watch, but bumping boils down to lack of respect for the car. You bump, you crash, you wreck a car worth more than most people’s lives (no offense), and these driver’s don’t care. For an F1 car, if you scrape against anything, car or wall or whathaveyou, something important (e.g. nose wing) will probably break off your car or the car may be beyond repair all together to remain in the race. I’d say that’s an incentive to pay strict attention to where you are.

Cautions, those dreaded cautions. There’s a piece of dust on the track, looks like we better put out a full course caution. Give me a break. The beauty of an open F1 course, there are almost exclusively local cautions. That means you don’t have to stop the race and waste precious laps because of the forementioned piece of dust. In fact, in the about four years I’ve watched F1, I have seen between two and four full course cautions. It has to be a bad accident for that to happen, but at least you get to watch an awesome Mercedes safety car drive around the track.

Weather almost goes hand-in-hand with the cautions. How can you not let the cars race in the rain. Tire companies make tires with tread. F1 gives its fans that satisfaction. A couple years ago, I saw an F1 Grand Prix at Hungary where the entire race took place during a rain storm and it was awesome! Only half or so drivers finished the race, but at least they let ’em give it the old college try.

I’m not even going to go into depth about NASCAR fans.

I mentioned earlier that I would explain why Indy racing is slightly better than NASCAR. Indy is cursed from the get go by racing on the oval. However, they do have the open-wheel factor in their favor. Indy drivers must also be careful to not hit each other. They also get props from me for not driving in a huge pack the entire race. Therefore, F1 > Indy > NASCAR.

Remember, if the race you want to watch has turns that go both directions, it’s okay to continue watching.


Thoughts About Sound

I started reading “Tell No One” by Harlan Coben last night (it was adapted into a great French movie by the way), and I came across this paragraph in chapter one that really got to me:

“But I remembered how the laugh and the howl and the splash would ripple and echo in the stillness of our lake, and I wondered if ripples and echoes like those ever fully die away, if somewhere in the woods my father’s joyful yelps still bounced quietly off the trees. Silly thought, but there you go.”

It was only the first chapter, but it stuck in my brain deep enough that I had to stop reading after I finished the chapter.

Now, I know that it is kind of a silly thought knowing that sounds do in fact dissipate, but what if conditions are ideal. What if you make a sound in a perfect room that does not absorb any of it; will the sound keep going forever? The sound will bounce off the walls, but what will happen next?

Will it bounce back as the same sound that bounced in?
Does it just expand enough that it’s so faint that we can’t hear, but still exists?

No matter how cool I think it would be if every sound ever made was still floating around somewhere, in one way or another, up in the sky, I think it could be possible if conditions are perfect.

First, sound is a wave, but it also emanates in every direction from the source. So, the sound is expanding in every direction and therefore losing intensity just by being emitted.

Next comes the point when the sound is reflected. Now, we are assuming that the room is ideal and the wall will not absorb any of it. I believe that there is a least one example that could keep the sound alive. This is shown in my brilliant picture below.

Sound Diagram

Imagine that the circle is actually a sphere with all the “sound” lines coming from every point except from the point of attachment. When it hits the wall is where things get tricky. If the wave hits at the crest (top of the wave) or trough (bottom), it should bounce back directly to the source and then back and forth forever (in my mind) as long as the source is of ideal material.

Now, if the wave hits the wall when it’s at some other point in between the crest or trough, it will bounce in any number of directions. That’s when the sound wave gets diffused by contact of various wave pieces going in those different directions and therefore the wave is eventually destroyed.

From my example, it all depends on the relation of the distance of the wall from the source and the frequency of the sound wave. Conditions have to be extremely ideal, so I would say that even with ideal material, it is unlikely for the sound to continue. And even though this could never happen for real, the nerd in me enjoyed thinking about this problem.

I would love to hear what everyone thinks about my theory or what your theories might be.

New Baseball Season

MLB spring training is in full swing and that means I’m as excited as a little school girl for the regular season to start.

I am a huge baseball fan in case you weren’t able to gather from my earlier post about NFL’s Pro Bowl. I am a Chicago Cubs fan to be specific (again, in case you weren’t able to gather, this time from the banner image though). The Cubs hold priority, followed by the Kansas City Royals. More importantly, however, I am a fan of baseball as a whole.

So, I want to give you all a few hopes I have for the upcoming 2009 season.

First, I would love to see the Cubs win the World Series. I know that is a little biased of me, but I’m a lifelong Cubs fan and the analysts’ comments on the 101 years and counting since a championship are getting a little old to say the least. So the Cubs winning is the ideal situation, the one thing I always hope for is a competitive Series. Nobody wants to see the Series be decided in four games (unless it’s their team winning), nobody. A long, competitive series, is good for baseball.

Second, I hope the World Baseball Classic (WBC) doesn’t have any ill effects on the season, mainly from injuries, but also from the time frame. Big injuries are never good for the game and you always want the teams to play to their full potential. Also, the WBC has pushed the start of MLB’s season back by a week, and subsequently the end of the season. We all saw how weather became an issue last year and that applies to precipitation as well as temperature. I just pray they don’t require the Series to be played in domed stadiums.

Third, I wish nothing but the best for the MLB Network. I wish I had access to it myself, but chances are high that it will be a long time before that happens in good ‘ole Springfield, MO. Regardless, the network is a good idea considering the success of NFL network, and the length of the season compared to the NFL.

Last, I know this is a vain hope, but I wish the steriod scandals would go away for good. It taints the game. Period. News of steriod use can make you wonder about anybody and everybody, even if the said party vehemently denies the accusation/suspicion/witch-hunt. That is why the news of A-Rod’s use saddened and angered me at the same time. Let it be known that I am far from a fan of the New York Yankees, but I had dreams of A-Rod’s legacy. He was going to wipe away Bonds’ tainted home run record. Who can I believe in now?

Well, those are some of my hopes for the season. I might have more later. If I do, I might even share them later. I can never quite tell what I am going to write about until I’m about to sit down and write it.

P.S. – Go Cubs!