The Driver Suit Blog-An Announcement For This Week

By David G. Firestone

Just a real brief one this week. It’s more of an announcement. I’ve been working on a project that has come to fruition. This week, I’m going to spend a few days in St. Louis working on a few projects. I’m going to go on a few tours, shoot a few videos, and have some fun. I’m going to talk about my trip next Friday.

Unlike in past years, when I’ve gone to Tuscon, I’m going to keep the regular rotation going. There will be a Tracker, and Grades this week. I can do this because I’m only on the train for 5 hours, as opposed to three days. I’m going to be able to watch the races, and I’ll be able to work on the website without much hassle.

I’ve been working on this for a while, and I’m going to have some fun with it. See you next week!


The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On One Of The Worst Moves In NBA History

By David G. Firestone

On June 5, 1981, a seemingly insignificant trade between the Indiana Pacers and the Portland Trailblazers took place. The trade of Tom Owens to the Pacers from the Blazers in exchange for a first-round draft pick a few years later would unintentionally set in to motion a moment of infamy that, 30 years later Blazer fans are still fuming over. When that draft pick in question came to pass, it shocked the sports world, and changed the NBA forever. This change would involve the Owens trade, a stand out center from Kentucky, two front office heads who would play critical roles in the beginning of the situation, and a point guard from UNC who would change the sports world forever.

Let’s look at the center of the trade first, Tom Owens played from 1971-1983 in the ABA and NBA for a number of teams. He had a rather unremarkable career, never playing in an all-star game, but he did end up winning a championship in 1977 for the Trailblazers. His season in 1981, prior to the trade was just as unremarkable. The Blazers traded Owens to the Indiana Pacers on June 5, four days prior to the 1981 NBA Draft. The Blazers got a pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, the Pacers got Tom Owens, who played one season, got traded to Detroit, and then retired.

During the 1980-81 Kentucky Wildcats season, a center had attracted a lot of attention, and was quickly added to the 1980 United States Olympic Basketball team, but the United States would boycott the Olympics, and he would never see Olympic competition. He would return for a second season, and he was still an impressive player for his sophomore season. What happened next would have a major impact on the events to come, and would help leave Blazer fans with terrible nightmares for decades to come. He began to suffer injuries to his shin bone, including a stress fracture. In total, he missed two seasons with this injury. He would come back for the 1983-84 season where his stats were somewhat less impressive, but he did earn a cover on Sports Illustrated. After that, he decided to turn pro, and enter the draft.

Two of the key players are General Managers for the two NBA teams that would make decisions that would make the legend, and destroy the franchise. The first GM, for the Chicago Bulls, was a former player who had been a stand-out rookie, and worked his way to GM by the histocial event. The second GM at the time was the Trailblazers not great in the draft. He was drafted by the Chicago Stags, but never played in the NBA. He helped bring the Trailblazers into existence, and helped draft players from the ABA after the league folded. He is not remembered for the right moves he made, but he is remembered for the move that we are discussing.

The final player in our cast of characters is a young point guard from UNC, who would change basketball and sports forever. He was a standout at UNC, a first-team All-American, who during the summer of 1984, went to the Olympics, and won a gold medal. His stats were amazing and he won numerous awards as well has having numerous accolades, and memorable moments in his college career.

With the cast of characters in place, the stage was set for one of the most infamous events in sports history, the date: June 19,1984, the location: Madison Square Garden in New York City, the event: The1984 NBA Draft. As a direct result of the Tom Owens trade 3 years prior, the Blazers had the 2nd pick in the draft, and the Bulls had the 3rd pick. The first selection went to the Atlanta Hawks, who selected Hakeem Olajuwon. The stage is now set for the event that would change basketball. The 2nd pick goes to Portland, where GM Stu Inman used this pick to select the Kentucky center who was plagued by injuries, Sam Bowie. The Chicago Bulls GM Rod Thorn had really wanted Bowie, and had to select a different player for the third pick. In a move that ensures that he never has to buy a drink in the city of Chicago again, Thorn selects the UNC standout and former Olympic Gold Medalist, Michael Jordan. The Blazers were thrilled with their pick, Sam Bowie who wound up being named the worst first-round draft pick in American sports history, and is really nothing more than the answer to a trivia question. Jordan is one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA, and has become a living legend.

But there is one more twist to this story…a twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan happy. Speaking to reporters after the draft, Rod Thorn, the Bulls GM made a comment that has been lost to history, but would prove a point that before the season started Bowie was still the coveted pick. Speaking to a group of reporters, Thorn said that “I only wish he were 7-1. The fans will enjoy watching him play and we expect we’ll have an easier time signing him than we have had in signing other draft choices.  We would like to sign him as soon as possible. If we had received good offers for a trade we would have made it, but it would have taken an overpowering offer.”

The trade requests never materialized, and the Bulls had a dynasty, whereas the Trailblazers still to this day are bitter. And to think, it all began with a trade on June 5,1981 between the Trailblazers and the Pacers!

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On The Atari Dragster Controversy

By David G. Firestone

I’m not as into video games as I am into racing. I’m not into racing games at all. The games I have tried didn’t impress me. I’m a first person shooter man myself. But I learned about a drag racing game I didn’t realize existed until last week.

Released in 1980 for the Atari 2600, Dragster was released by Activision. Depending on who you ask, it may or not be the first third party game in video game history. The premise is that you are racing a dragster, and to play, is as follows. You take control of a dragster, and when the race starts, you hold the button, and move the joystick to shift gears. You are competing for a low elapsed time.

I became aware of this game because of a controversy that erupted last month, that I completely missed. There are professional video gamers out there, and there are guys who have made a career out of setting video game records. The video game records are kept on a site called Twin Galaxies. The oldest video game record was in Dragster, where Todd Rodgers earned a 5.51 ET, after he “started the race in second gear.”

I say it WAS the oldest record in video game history, because last month, it emerged that a 5.51 ET on Dragster was impossible. After examining the coding, and using various methods, it was determined that the lowest possible score to get on Dragster was 5.57. Rodgers’ claim of starting the race in second gear was also proven to be impossible.

This revelation opened the floodgates, and all of Todd Rodgers’ records were examined. His records were either improbably high, or impossible. After this news broke, Twin Galaxies, under pressure, removed all of Rodgers’ records, and banned him from the site for life. His 1700+ video game records, and his Guinness World Records were all lost, and he’s been exposed for the fraud he is.

If these records were impossible, why were they in place for so long? Well because Rodgers’ knew how to cheat the system to his advantage. He had a “referee” who was supposed to be an independent third person enter his scores. The problem is that Rodgers’ referee was a man by the name of Ron Corcoran who was in Rodgers’ pocket. It also alleged that Rodgers added in his own scores to Twin Galaxies.

The fact that this fraud has been exposed for the cheater that he is, and has lost every one of his ill-gotten gains makes me smile. I love watching frauds getting exposed. He isn’t a legend anymore, and now he’s just a middle-aged guy who plays video games. He has to get a real job now, and he can’t coast by. I hope he spends the rest of his life working at Walmart for minimum wage.

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On Daytona, Toys, and Singing

By David G. Firestone

I’m not going to talk about what happened in Parkland, Florida this week. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? I’m not going to talk news, or politics on The Driver Suit Blog. I don’t like writing about it, nobody wants to read it, so I’m going to do my normal article.

Yesterday, I watched the Daytona 500. The race was great, as Daytona races are. As a Dale Earnhardt Sr. fan, it was nice that 20 years after Dale piloted the #3 to his only Daytona 500 victory, Austin Dillon won in the #3. I also watched the Xfinity Series and the Truck series this weekend. NASCAR is back at Atlanta and the NHRA is at Arizona. I’m also waiting for Formula 1 and IndyCar to start, which they will do in March.

I recently discovered something, and for the life of me, I can’t understand it. When did Funko Pop figures become a thing? Why are Funko Pop figures a thing? I don’t go to toy stores, I don’t pay attention to many things besides racing memorabilia, so I tend to miss these things. I don’t get why these things are popular. They look strange, they don’t appear to be pose-able, they are expensive, and they make scary characters, such as a Xenomorph, and Pennywise.

Toys for children make sense. Toys for adult collectors make no sense. Let’s make a toy that you can’t play with, and you can’t even take out of the box, and sell it for more than a parent would ever pay for a child’s toy. How is this profitable? Apparently it is profitable, but I still don’t get it.

Lastly, while I’m not a die hard basketball fan, I did watch and enjoy the NBA All-Star Game, with the exception of the National Anthem. Fergie sang an awful rendition, complete with odd hand gestures, questionable pitch changes, and odd dancing. To paraphrase someone on Twitter, it sounded like a drunk aunt singing at a backyard cookout. As soon as she finished, she then took the opportunity to awkwardly shout “Let’s play some basketball!” which just made things more uncomfortable for everyone.

While many say she sang the worst rendition in history, I wholeheartedly disagree. Christina Aguilera sang a bad version at the Super Bowl a few years ago. John Michael Montgomery and Scott Stapp both had bad renditions, however John Michael Montgomery can be forgiven, since at the time, he was suffering from acoustic neuroma, an inner ear nerve condition. Track star Carl Lewis, whose ego stretches from sea to shining sea sang a horrific version. One of the oddest versions was Madison Rising’s rendition at the 2014 DRIVE4COPD 300, which has to be heard to be believed. But the all-time worst was Roseanne Barr. While Roseanne was trolling the fans, Fergie was taking it seriously. So, to all singers…JUST SING THE ANTHEM, AND STOP GETTING CREATIVE. I’m David G. Firestone, and I approve this message.

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On Recent NHRA Safety Issues

By David G. Firestone

The NASCAR and NHRA seasons started up again. The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series started their new season with the Winternationals at Ponoma, and The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series had the Advance Auto Parts Clash. The Clash was a pleasure to watch, and I had a great time watching it, and the qualifying for the Daytona 500.

But the NHRA was marred with a decent amount of engine explosions and crashes. On Friday, John Force suffered an engine explosion, and was taken to the hospital for observation. The worst one of the bunch was Brittany Force. On Sunday, during her first elimination round against Terry Haddock, Force suffered a scary crash. While she escaped serious injury, she was taken to a local hospital for observation.

While both are fine, it should be noted that the NHRA made the correct decision to err on the side of caution, and send both to the hospital for observation. The safety culture of racing is always improving, and this is another example. Concussion protocol needs to be in all sports, not just contact ones. Brain damage is a dangerous thing, and the will to compete can and will override the fear of further damage.

The ability of race car drivers to compartmentalize has been well documented. When the driver climbs into the car, every other worry goes out the window. The driver is solely focused on the race. In a situation where a driver has a concussion, whether they realize it or not, that mindset can be dangerous, and maybe even fatal. In some situations, the driver has to be forced out of the car, for their own good.

Let’s go back to 1996, specifically the Save Mart Supermarkets 300 at Sonoma, then Sears Point. Ricky Craven had suffered a wreck at Talladega the previous week. While Craven suffered a concussion, he decided that racing for the championship was more important than being healthy. The original plan for Sears Point was for Craven to race the first lap, and was supposed to be replaced by Ron Horniday Jr. after the first lap. He raced a second lap, and was promptly black flagged, and was replaced. Similarly, in 2014, Angelle Sampey suffered an off-track injury in Las Vegas, and the pain and damage forced her to withdraw from the event, and she missed the rest of the 2014 season.

Auto Racing is one of, if not the most dangerous sports for competitors, and safety should be the main focus. Don’t listen to the fans, do what is best for the drivers. No real race fan wants to see a driver die. IndyCar and F1 have learned this lesson the hard way in the last few years, and I hope that most sanctioning bodies do what they have to to keep from learning the hard way.

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On Some News Stories

By David G. Firestone

Got a few news items I want to discuss this week. First, I need to discuss the NHRA Summernationals situation. I discussed the shuttering of Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J. Last week. I even got a statement from Cruz Pedregon. At the time, he thought that there wouldn’t be an event added to the NHRA schedule for 2018. I thought that it might be too soon to add to the 2018 schedule.

Within hours of that being posted, it was announced that the NHRA would be adding the Virginia Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, Va., to the schedule on June 8-10. So instead of a week off after Route 66, the teams will travel to Virginia Motorsports Park. The drive from Route 66 to North Dinwiddie, Virgina is about 13 hours, and since many teams are headquartered in Indiana, they could stop at the shop and refill parts and equipment. Virginia has hosted NHRA national events before, so it isn’t that difficult. The one thing I’m wondering is how well the teams can adapt to a track that they haven’t raced on since 2009.

Moving on to IndyCar, I learned recently that IndyCar is testing a windshield. With the new car being debuted this year, safety is the focus, and the windshield is 20 years overdue. The less of a driver that is exposed, the safer the car is. This new test is a major step in the right direction. I’m glad this has finally been addressed

The next thing is there was a news story that Formula 1 has decided to eliminate the so-called grid girls. Grid girls would stand at each spot on the grid, wear a sexy outfit representing the host country, and hold signs indicating which spot on the grid they are. According to Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations at Formula 1: “While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms. We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

It’s nice to see that Formula 1 finally figured out that in 2018, women are more than sex objects. With women becoming more involved and having more success in auto racing, it’s time to start treating them as racers as opposed to bikini models. Granted that racing is a male-dominated sport, but more and more women are getting involved. It’s only a matter of time until a woman races in Formula 1, and I’m glad they joined the rest of the racing world.

Finally, I have to take Dodge to task for their ill-advised commercial at the Super Bowl. Who in their right mind thought that using Martin Luther King Jr., one of America’s greatest citizens, to sell trucks was a good idea? It came across as tasteless, and given King’s thoughts on capitalism, it’s amazing to me that this even made it past the idea stage.

What really amazes me here is that King’s family, who is very protective of King’s speeches and trademarks, allowed this to happen. Documentaries and historical museums can’t get to use King’s speeches because the family has a tight grip, but a freaking Dodge commercial can? Why in the world did this happen? Dodge should be ashamed, and King’s family needs to focus on his legacy, not profit off of it.

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On A Great Sporting Weekend

By David G. Firestone

So I spent the entire weekend watching sports, including the Rolex 24,  and the NHL All-Star Game. While I watch racing on a regular basis, I don’t always get to watch IMSA, so I’m not as polished with the rules and regulations and nuances of sports car racing as I am NASCAR, and the NHRA. I do enjoy it when I watch it.

I was perplexed when the officials executed what was termed “the nuclear option” on one of the race teams. “The nuclear option” is a five minute stop and hold penalty. This was apparently executed on the #29 Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 because the refueling time was shorter than allowed.

According to Autoweek, IMSA’s stance is as follows: “To measure refueling times, each entrants autonomous fuel tank is fitted with a mandated IMSA fuel level sensor and refueling restrictor, which are inspected and sealed prior to the race. During a standard, in-race data review, IMSA observed a consistent and beneficial variance of the No. 29 car’s refueling times compared to the GTD class average. Based upon IMSA’s current and past event refueling data, this was deemed to be unacceptable. The entrant was informed of IMSA’s position and a penalty was administered.”

It should be noted that while 5 minutes seems like an eternity in many forms of racing, the #29 only lost a lap. Due to the lack of full-course yellows, they never got the lap back, and their day ended with 29 minutes to go, due to a tire issue. Not the best end to a race, but it could have been different.


Then I watched the NHL All-Star Game via DVR. I have to say that because NBC and the NHL royally messed the All-Star Game up. On Sunday afternoon and evening, the Pro Bowl, the Grammys, and the WWE Royal Rumble, in addition to the NHL All-Star Game. The NHL is not going to win that ratings battle. Why wouldn’t you have the All-Star Game on Saturday night? Instead of fighting a battle that you couldn’t win, why not move it back a day, and be the top dog in the ratings? Unwinable fights aren’t worth fighting, so instead, make the move to Saturday night, move the skills competition to Sunday, and everyone wins.

Another thing I noticed about the All-Star game was the jerseys. The NHL has four divisions, Metropolitan, Atlantic, Central, and Pacific. Why was the main crest an NHL logo? Why wouldn’t you have the division logo as the crest, and the NHL logo on the shoulder, as opposed to the other way around? This is not a minor issue, because the game is three 20 minute 3-on-3 games between divisions. Who thought that the NHL logo worked better than the divisions? It just looked odd.

I thought that the games were good, but there are a lot of places for improvement in them. I hope these problems will be fixed.