Thursday, June 26, 2008

Project CRX Part Deux

Some time ago I started Project CRX, with the noble intention of acquiring and hopping up a second-generation Honda CRX and making a true thing of beauty. And I did the first part, way back in 1999 - I acquired a black 1988 Honda CRX Si with about 160,000 miles on it, for $1500. It was the fixing-up part that I failed to do, sadly. Still, I really - and I mean really - liked that car.

The Honda CRX was an unsung hero of automotive history, in my opinion. When they came out, I thought it would be the ideal commuter car - great gas mileage, small, agile, and fairly good performing. This lasted for four years, 1984-1987, the CRX's first generation. Then came the second generation, with a much better looking body style and even better performance, especially if you got the Si. And if you fix them up - well, just look at the picture; need I say more?

My little black CRX was not a good looking car. The interior was shot, seats were torn, and there was a big hole in the dashboard where someone had stolen the stereo from the previous owner. Outside, there were a number of rusted panels, and the paint was faded in almost every place. The one upside was that the paint was such a dull, lifeless black that I'm pretty sure it absorbed all of the radar, and so I never got a speeding ticket.

Even worse was the fact that the driver side window did not really roll up and down easily. I tried to adjust the inner window tracks but I couldn't get them to align properly. After I'd already spent the money to install a pretty decent stereo system, I was trying to roll the window up one time and in the process the window bound and shattered all over the place. I replaced it with a door from a junkyard, which was unfortunately white. Now I had a black CRX with a white driver-side door. I didn't think it would matter much, because I always intended to paint it. I drove it that way for probably three years.

It may have been an ugly car, but it was a blast to drive. Even though it just had the stock D16 inline-4 that came with the Si, it had plenty of horsepower for the size of car, and I really loved to drive it - so much, in fact, that I didn't really care what it looked like.

I put 50,000 miles on that car and was pretty pleased with the fact that it had over 200,000 miles on it. I even did get the chance to install an AEM intake and a Greddy cat-back exhaust on it. Even with 200,000 miles on it, I was getting 44 miles to the gallon on the highway at 75 mph.

One of my best memories in that car was driving home by myself along this back road to my home called River Bottom Road. I was taking the road at roughly twice the posted speed limit as it wound around the curves following the river and the hillsides bordering the river bottoms. Like always, my CRX went exactly where it was pointed as fast as it could. It was like driving that road in a go-kart. Days like that were almost like the car's gift to me for taking care of it.

One day Todd and I were going golfing and were on the freeway, about one mile from the golf course, when the CRX just died. It shut off right there on the freeway at 70 mph. I coasted over to the side of the road, tried to restart the car but it wouldn't start. After several futile attempts, I called a tow truck and had it towed home.

Later that day I went out and tried to start the car again, but still no luck. I decided to start by pulling the plugs to see if they were sparking, thinking that perhaps the distributor need replacing. As I pulled the first plug out I saw that it was covered in oil. It ended up that two of the four plugs were completely coated in engine oil when I pulled them from their sockets.

At that point I knew my CRX had died a catastrophic death. Either the oil had leaked in through the head, requiring a new head, or the oil had leaked past the piston rings, which would require a completely new rebuild. My CRX was dead. It was a very, very sad day.

My intention all along had been to eventually swap a B16 or (ideally) an LS-VTEC into my CRX. At that time, however, I did not have nearly the coin for such a swap, and couldn't afford to go without a car. I had to let the CRX go for basically nothing.

Since then I've been driving my 2002 Grand Prix. It's not been a bad car, not at all. But it doesn't offer the fun that the CRX did. And now, with gas prices where they are, I'm thinking it might be a good time to get another CRX, which would not only help me save money in gasoline but also be a dang good time to drive again. Since I'm now driving about twice as far to get to Mozy as I had to to get to Novell, it seems like a reasonable idea.

So we're back to the beginning again, Project CRX Part Deux. As before, the first task will be to acquire a CRX. I'm going to be a bit more picky than before. Here's what I'm looking for:
  • Second-generation (1988-1991) Honda CRX.
  • Preferably an Si, and in particular I'm not all that interested in an HF.
  • It should be in drivable condition and must pass inspection and emissions tests.
  • Ideally it should already have the B16 or LS-VTEC swap done. If not, it pretty much has to have a ZC or D16 in it.
  • I'd like the body to be in really good condition - no rust would be great.
Just about anything else I can deal with. For example, I can deal with a suboptimal interior. I can deal with little to no stereo system. I can deal with lame wheels and tires. I can deal with faded, worn, scratched, or chipped paint as long as there is little to no rust.

I'm not willing to sink a lot of money into one of these, because with the age who knows how much money I'll end up putting into it anyway. But I'll keep the blog updated, because if I find a deal that can work for me, perhaps I'll be initiating Project CRX Part Deux.

(Image credit: via Google)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Noise Reduction is for Sissies

Lately I've been rocking these Skullcandy Skullcrusher headphones and I gotta say they are pretty sweet.

These are the first headphones I've ever had with an actual built-in amplifier and subwoofers that you can actually feel vibrating against your ears. Sound quality is pretty good, the cups are comfortable, and they also look pretty half-bad, considering the title of the blog and all.

Downfalls? Well, the cord is awfully short, and there's no volume control on the cord. No noise reduction, although I'm not sure why you need it when your headphones kick tail like these do.

Oh, and you can't actually get these anymore. Try the new Skullcandy Hesh headphones instead, I suppose. But be sure to not get the white and pink ones, unless you can back it up big boy.

(Image Source:

Chris Cannon Defeated - Thankfully

I'm relieved to say that Chris Cannon was defeated in the Utah primaries yesterday. Those of you who are faithful readers of this blog (as far as I can tell, the only person in that group is myself) will recall the condescending letter I received from Congressman Cannon in response to a letter I mailed him before, and my reply to him, telling him that just because he is a congressman and I'm not doesn't mean he is smarter than me. Well, I didn't actually say that, but I meant to, and I hope the point came across.

Whether the new guy will be any better is hard to know. As hard as it may be to believe, he is even more conservative than Cannon - meaning, even Cannon was just not conservative enough for Utah County, amazingly.

Now if we could just figure out how to get rid of Orrin Hatch - then things would be much better.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fyngyrz on Privacy

Fyngyrz writes a cool article discussing privacy. Check it out.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cult of the Mac Blood Brother @ WWDC, Day 5

I really like these black Dockers. They match perfectly with my black belt and my black t-shirts I've received all during the conference. And I must say I think I look quite stunning with my black shoes and white socks.

First thing this morning, after the wardrobe improvements, I walked down Market St. to the Apple Store. I bought a new Macbook Pro with several performance upgrades. I placed it gently in the beautiful, sleek, new laptop carrying bag that I was provided when I registered for the conference.

I'm still not significantly overweight, nor do I have enough hair for a ponytail, yet. But I'm working on it. I didn't even shower today.

I walked into Moscone West this morning. It didn't take me long to find the Black Ponytails. I approached them resolutely. They regarded me with some reservation as I opened my laptop bag, intentionally displaying the new laptop I had purchased that day, which I hoped to be able to pay for later, and extracted the document they had left with me the night before.

I handed it to the leader of the group. He took it with suspicion, and immediately scanned his sight to the bottom of the page, where he saw my fingerprint, imprinted upon the document in my own blood.

He smiled. "Welcome, brother." I smiled back, then turned and walked away.

A calming, satisfied smile settled across my face. Paraphrasing Winston Smith, I thought to myself, "I love Mac."

An Apple n00b @ WWDC, Day 4

Day 4 was a pretty interesting day. For starters, I took this picture. This guy's name is Mike; he works for Apple's developer relations program. His job is akin to what I did for many years at Novell. Except, Mike is successful at his job, whereas I could never get Novell to do the things that would have made Novell successful. Or me. Now you know one of the reasons I am not at Novell anymore.

Anyway, I took this picture not for that reason, but for another reason. I can't tell you how many times people have e-mailed me asking, "Matt, what would your brother look like if he gained 40 pounds?" Well, stop asking and just take a look at this picture. Now you know.

Sort of. It is rather grainy, I admit.

Later that day I went by Dan's hotel to see what his room was like. Dan called the St. Regis Hotel and somehow managed to score a room rate of about 1/2 the normal $500-$600 per night rate. I called the same hotel within about 10-15 minutes and could not get the same rate - in fact I was told it was not possible.

Apparently they have a different understanding of "not possible" than what I have. Anyway, Dan had a corner room with an incredible view of downtown San Francisco:

The second picture is just to the left of the first, showing a great view of the Moscone Center and Yerba Buena Gardens. WWDC hosts a big bash in Yerba Buena Gardens on Thursday night, which was tonight, in the gardens. It was a great frolicking time. In fact, I was having such a great time that I lost track of where I was and forgot to take what you by now would assume would be my normal precautions. Instead, I suddenly found myself alone in a dark and remote corner of the gardens, surrounded by none other than the Black Ponytails.

I once heard that the reason Metallica kicked Dave Mustaine out early in the band's history was because when the other guys would get drunk, they would just get really silly, but when Dave would get drunk, he would get angry. Well, suffice it to say that the Black Ponytails would also not get along with Metallica when they are drunk. When you combine free alcohol, the Black Ponytails, an Apple n00b like me, and the darkest, remotest corner of Yerba Buena, you end up with a dozen substantial embodiments combining to form about 3000 pounds of black Mac fury. Believe me, I was petrified.

"Well, if it isn't the Linux baby," one of them taunted as they surrounded me and backed me into the corner.

"Now, guys, I'm not meaning to cause any trouble here," I said, before I was blasted upside the head with a copy of Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X, 2nd Edition that had been hurled at me.

"Shut up, Linux baby. You don't get to talk," one of them hissed from the other side.

The leader continued. "Look, you freak. Nobody invited you here. Nobody wants you here. You think you can just show up here because you paid?!? You don't have true devotion! You don't truly love Apple! You aren't dedicated to making Steve Jobs ridiculously wealthy! We can see it in your eyes."

As he spoke, they all opened up their black backpacks and pulled out USB mice and stylish thin Mac keyboards. Those with the mice held onto the end of the cable while the mouse itself dropped down, dangling from their hands. Those with the keyboards grabbed one end with both hands and held it up in front of them, like a baseball bat. They were closing in, closer and closer. The air reeked of fear and 3000 pounds of body odor. I tried to remain calm, but panic started to set in. Didn't anybody see me? Didn't Zach and Dan know I was gone? Was there nobody to help me?

"You aren't one of us. You don't belong here. And now you are going to pay."

With that the blows started coming, harder, harder, and faster. Mouse and keyboard buttons were flying everywhere as the blows came in. I crumpled to the ground. My head was throbbing from the blows of the mice hitting my head, being used like medieval maces. I raised my hands to try to deflect the flailing mice, but then I felt the hard, crushing blows as the keyboards hit my ribs and back, held sideways so that I was being struck by the edges and corners, thus inflicting maximum damage. I felt bruises turn into welts, then blood blisters, and finally open, bleeding wounds. I could hear the occasional sickening crack of ribs when a particularly well-aimed keyboard struck exactly right. I curled up, drawing my legs up towards me, which elicited numerous jeering cries of "Linux baby! Linux baby!" Still, the hurling mice seemed to find their way inside my defenses. Now partially broken apart, the remaining plastic fragments on the mouse bodies would cut, grab, and tear at my flesh, leaving small stabbing and cutting wounds all over my face, head, hands, and back.

After what seemed an eternity but was probably only five to ten minutes, they finally stopped and stood back a pace. I lay immobile for some seconds, trying to determine if it was finally over. But just as I'd determined they were done, just as I moved to start to get up, the leader snapped his fingers loudly, and on that signal two of them stepped in, pinned me down and forced my hands behind my back, tying them tightly together with mouse cables. They stood me up and held me between them.

The leader bent down and pulled my laptop out of my case. He looked it over with an air of superiority and disdain. Then he finally looked at me. "You see this laptop?"

"Yes," I panted. "Please. Come on, just leave me alone. I'll leave."

He laughed a short, scoffing laugh, and took a step toward me. "This laptop is a..." - he cocked his arms back, ready to swing - "PIECE" - he struck me forcefully with the laptop across my head where I immediately felt warm blood gushing from the newly opened wound - "OF" - the backswing caught me full in the face as the taste of blood flooded my mouth - "CRAP!" - he brought the laptop up and shattered it over the top of my head.

My head was throbbing like nothing I had ever felt before. I was so dizzy I could hardly stand or even retain consciousness. I spat blood from my mouth just for it to fill up again. It hurt to breathe against the wounds in my back and sides. I could barely see past swollen eyes and cheekbones. My hands ached where I knew bones were broken. Blood ran freely down my face and pooled on the ground below.

The two Black Ponytails continued to hold me upright while the leader turned and went back to his backpack. He pulled out what appeared to be a piece of parchment paper. Between the throbbing in my head, the intense blackness of the darkest regions of Yerba Buena, and the lights flashing in my eyes from the blows to my head, I really could not tell what it was.

The leader came back. With a smug grin on his face he strutted up to me. He grabbed my hair and lifted my head up, shoving the paper in front of my face. "You see this paper?" he said. "You wanna read this paper. You wanna do what it says, and sign it. And you wanna find me tomorrow and bring it to me. You wanna do it, Linux baby. Or we're gonna finish what we started here tonight."

Keeping hold of my hair with his left hand, he dropped the paper on the ground in front of me. Then, suddenly, he pulled back and punched me with the full force of his fist right in the nose. I felt the bones break as I struggled to breathe, my nasal cavity filling up with blood.

The two that were holding me up finally let me go. I collapsed to the ground as the Black Ponytails dispersed into the night. Just before I lost consciousness, I was barely able to make out the words atop the paper on the ground in front of me. They read:

To Be Signed In Blood

Thursday, June 12, 2008

An Apple n00b @ WWDC, Day 3

Day 3 at WWDC, well, I was admittedly a little bit afraid to even head back there today. It seems like I keep running into those Black Ponytails. Usually it is only just one of them at a time, but I was a bit concerned what might happen if I ran into all of them at once.

However, it seemed that the day would go pretty well. I walked in to Moscone West and noticed that nearly all of the slobber had evaporated off of the bust of Steve. I attended some great sessions and picked up some ultra-top-secret software provided to all attendees that I can't discuss or even admit publicly that I have. I even stopped at the Apple Store and bought myself an Apple T-shirt, wondering aloud at the fact that Apple could get people to buy their t-shirts at their own conference when at Novell we had to give them away to get anyone to take them (with the exception of the awesome "Got Linux?" t-shirts, those were really special).

It was the last session of the day and I'd done pretty good at keeping myself out of trouble. My final session of day 3 had to do with scripting on the Mac. When we got to Q&A, I stood up to ask my question:

"Eric is a really great Python IDE available as open source on Linux. Have you considered providing and supporting Eric on Mac in your developer tools? That would really be awesome."

About the time I muttered the word "Linux," every head in the audience turned on a swivel to scowl menacingly in my direction. Displaying obvious disdain and exercising the greatest of patience, the presenter took a deep breath and then replied measuredly: "Xcode is already a great Python tool. There is no need for Mac to attempt to copy anything that is being done by Linux."

I apologized and turned to sit down, but not before I noticed the Black Ponytails sitting a number of rows ahead of me.

I tried to leave the session quickly but my exits seemed blocked at every turn, almost as though it were a coordinated effort. Finally I exited and started my long walk up the corridor toward the common area. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by Black Ponytails.

"Hey, check it out, it's the Linux boy!"

"Yeah Linux boy! Maybe we should make the Mac more like Linux! Lol!" (Yes, he really said "lol".)

They all laughed as the started shoving me back and forth between them. Mockingly, one said, "Ooh, check me out! I compile my own kernel!"

"Looky what I can do! I know how to use a command line!" sneered another.

Then with another shove they got serious. "Look here, you Linux baby! You infant! Linux is nothing compared to FreeBSD! Compared to Darwin, the core upon which heaven's own OS is based - Mac OS X!"

"Hey, guys, I know! I like FreeBSD! I just come from a Linux background, that's all!" I protested.

"Shut your hole, Linux baby. Who invited you here anyway?" With that, I felt a huge shove in the back and fell into the sizable girth of the guy in front of me. "Who said you could touch me, Linux baby?" he threatened.

Just when I thought all hope was lost, I heard Dan and Zach call out to me, "Hey Matt!" The Black Ponytails looked around casually, then dispersed as if by a signal. I had escaped certain demise.

I spent the rest of the evening at the Apple Design Awards and the Stump the Experts night. I thought perhaps if the Black Ponytails saw me there they would realize that I really wasn't such a bad guy. Unfortunately, I'm not sure they saw me; they were on the other side of the very large room, engaged in what seemed to be a very intense coding session. But maybe they caught a glimpse; maybe they will still give me a chance.

An Apple n00b @ WWDC, Day 2

Anyone who has seen Wayne's World knows that you never want to be that guy that wears the shirt of the band to the concert of the same band. I thought the same rule would apply at WWDC. I mean, of course by day two I had already received two new black Apple t-shirts, but I did not think that I would be expected to wear them during the conference. I found this not to be true, however, as I arrived at the show the second day and found that everyone was wearing one of their new black t-shirts, except for me.

So I guess it goes without saying that the Black Ponytails spotted me without problem. I had not even noticed them as I sat down in the session I was attending that afternoon. I pulled out my Dell laptop. I mean, I know it is an Apple conference. But surely they don't expect everyone to have a Macbook, do they?

Well, apparently they do. I hadn't even finished logging in to my laptop when I was struck in the back of the head by something small and hard. At first I thought it was a rock, but when I turned around and looked I saw it was a small USB thumb drive. Not far behind me were the Black Ponytails. One sneered at me and suggested, using unkind words not appropriate for polite company, that perhaps I should put my laptop away. I obliged, wondering why these people just could not be accepting of someone new.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An Apple n00b @ WWDC, Day 1

Day 1 of WWDC was Monday, June 9, and it started of with the keynote by Steve Jobs. Even though we checked in on Sunday night, we decided to risk it and not get in line for the keynote until about 6:00 a.m. the following morning. So we showed up Monday morning at 6:00 a.m. for the 10:00 a.m. keynote. We found our place in line in a dark alley behind the Moscone Center, hundreds of yards from the door, but fortunately we were there in time to see the keynote anyway.

After some time they started letting us in to the building as we progressed through the various waiting locations. When we entered the building, everyone had to stop and kiss the bronze bust of Steve in the lobby entryway. I was reluctant, in part because it seemed a bit zealous, and in part because by the time I got there it was already dripping in saliva. But everyone was doing it so I just gave in.

It was at this point I saw some guys not far ahead of us in line. One of them happened to look back right as I offered what must have been an obviously obligatory, insincere kiss to the bust of Steve. He glared at me and then started whispering to his friends.

They all looked roughly the same: Each was quite substantially overweight; each wore black cotton slacks with a black belt and a black t-shirt that declared devotion to Apple in some way; each wore black shoes with white socks. Each had long hair pulled back into a ponytail, with a smattering of dandruff scattered notably on their shoulders. Each carried a laptop bag and an iPhone. I smiled weakly as he pointed me out to the other five or so in his little group. They just glared back at me.

Just then the line started moving. They left me alone as the line progressed. Here you can see a picture of all the people less devoted than we were:
Our group rustled our way up the stairs as we drew ourselves closer and closer to that mecca known as Presidio. It is admittedly hard to walk quietly when you are wearing a sanitary undergarment for the relief of incontinence. Personally, being a n00b, I had chosen not to wear one, failing to see the need. But the others felt it necessary; who knew what would happen at the keynote?!?

Finally, after hours of waiting, we arrived!

We were really inside the WWDC Keynote! And, we could almost see the stage from where we were. Those around me struggled to contain their emotions as the starting time approached, while I struggled to locate a place where I could get a snack.

Finally, Steve Jobs himself walked out onto the stage. Many thoughts filled my brain, such as, "His voice is a lot higher-pitched than I imagined." Everyone managed to maintain control until he announced the new price of the iPhone: only $199. People all around me burst into tears and into their sanitary undergarments as the room filled with a grateful chorus: "Thank you, Steve! Oh, thank you!"

I was also pleased; the new iPhone was only 1/2 as unaffordable to me as it was before. In fact, I began to feel some inklings of devotion to Apple plant themselves into my heart. It made me nervous, so I quickly uprooted these tiny seedlings. Still, I was oddly feeling compelled to purchase a brand new MacBook Pro, so I would have something to put into the laptop bag I had been given at conference registration.

I walked back to the hotel amidst the rustling throng of exuberant, delighted conference attendees. Each emanated a happy smile from their face and the smell of byproduct from their nether-regions. It made me glad that they were so happy. Then I caught site of the Black Ponytails again. They glared at me as I walked by. Perhaps they could detect a distinct lack of rustle as I walked? Perhaps they could detect the distinct lack of odor wafting out behind me? Perhaps they could tell that I took a shower that morning? Whatever it was, apparently I was not fooling anyone. I tried to ignore them as I walked by, but I'm looking over my shoulder now.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Provo's "Freedom" Festival

It came to my attention today that the America's Freedom Festival (in Provo, Utah) committed has chosen to recognized Jack Thompson as a Freedom Award Recipient at the Freedom Awards Gala on July 2.

I live in Utah and generally like most things about it. I do not agree with the giving of an award to Jack Thompson for any reason, primarily because I think he is preying upon a frantic conservative populace in order to enrich himself personally for a cause he would otherwise not care about. However, I am willing to concede to any other organization the right to recognize Jack Thompson for things he's done.

What is ridiculous, however, is that he is being recognized at what is presumably a celebration of freedom. Jack Thompson is not about freedom. He is about government censorship of free expression as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Furthermore, in the opinion of at least Judge Dava Tunis of Florida, Jack Thompson is guilty of 27 different charges of inappropriate conduct from the Florida Bar, including such things as knowingly making false statements to a tribunal. In fact the Florida Supreme Court will no longer accept any filings from Mr. Thompson unless signed by another lawyer.

It is hard to believe that a festival of freedom, held in Provo, Utah, which is probably the most conservative city in the United States, holding a gala to recognize champions of freedom, would have a committee, presumably made up of locals, that would select such a person as being deserving of this award, if in fact they are aware of what Mr. Thompson is really all about. My guess is that they really aren't aware of anything other than the fact that he fights against video game companies for releasing and distributing video games that include nudity, sexual content, graphic violence, and adult themes.

I'm not advocating such games nor am I championing the cause for even more games of even more extreme natures to become available. I do find it interesting, however, that we have such strong, organized opposition to video games when there is no similar opposition of this magnitude against other media, such as books, magazines, music, or movies. I suppose each of those media went through their own battles as well earlier in their history. But I do find it interesting that we basically do nothing to prevent or curb pornography, which has a documented association to sexual deviance and violence, but some would raise Jack Thompson up as a champion of freedom for fighting against video games, which as yet have not been shown to cause violence.

It is especially surprising on another front. Consider the case of CleanFlicks, the DVD rental company that rents edited versions of mainstream movies. At least it used to; I'm not sure what their business model is now and how it is different from what it was in 2006, when they were ordered by court to cease their business model. You probably know that CleanFlicks is a Utah-based company, and you can imagine how many upset people there were around here when this ruling came down.

Apparently people don't see these issues as two sides of the same coin. Apparently, the Freedom Festival folk don't realize that it is the same line of thought that took CleanFlicks away that they are championing by honoring Jack Thompson. One cannot simultaneously champion the cause of someone to take freedom of legal expression away from one group and lament having a similar freedom removed from them.

I'm willing to grant that some video games today are inappropriate or even evil. It is one thing for an individual to make personal choices about the type of entertainment they will pay for, or that they will allow into their home. It is another altogether to attempt to circumvent the constitution in order to stop something you feel is evil, and yet another thing to decide to take the freedoms of others away for the purpose of stopping evil. Choosing to keep content that I find inappropriate out of my home is my right and responsibility; even Playboy would not argue with that position. It is when I determine that since something is wrong for me, I have the right to take away the freedoms of others to stop the evil that I'm standing on a slippery slope.

We've fought too hard to obtain freedom to treat it so lightly. And there have been too many champions of true freedom for us to so tarnish it that we would choose Jack Thompson, of all people, to honor at the America's Freedom Festival in Provo. What a shame. What a disgraceful, embarrassing shame.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Daytona Motorsports Group - Planning To Destroy AMA Roadracing?

When the AMA selected the Daytona Motorsports Group to manage their professional racing series, it seemed like a reasonable thing. DMG would be in charge of racing and promotion, and the AMA could focus on the casual rider.

At least, it has seemed reasonable, until recently. Things changed when the DMG (motto: "We Make Cool Things Suck!") decided to make wholesale changes to the AMA road racing class structure that seem utterly ridiculous. Roger Edmundson tried to defend their decisions but ended up showing that he really knows nothing about AMA road racing at all; just read the link above and notice some of the boneheaded things he says. Roger, have you ever even seen an AMA street race?

One big problem I see with this is that it will completely separate AMA riders from the world series, namely World Superbike and MotoGP. How can we expect North American riders to be picked up for 1000cc World Superbikes and 800cc MotoGP prototype bikes if the premier class becomes a dumbed-down restricted-ability 600cc class?

Hey Roger. I have another idea. While you're at it, why not put restrictor plates on all of the motorcycle carburetors? We could drop the horsepower down to lower than what you can buy in the showroom, literally starving those engines for air and fuel! Lets weigh the riders with their bikes, so the fit riders don't have any advantage over the fat ones who look like, say, Tony Stewart! Then, instead of having them run on all of these "dangerous" street circuits, lets have them ride around and around in circles on oval tracks! Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun to watch.

Troy Bayliss Has Some Dance Moves

Former World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss got the unfortunate chance to show off his awesome dance moves right after a hair-raising high side exiting Release during race 1 at Miller Motorsports Park. My heart was in my throat as I watched him, sitting there in the middle of the racing line, with bikes racing by on either side. I couldn't help but exclaim, "Troy - get up! Get out of there!!" as I watched him try to make his way off the track.
I'm glad you're ok, Troy. Awesome dance moves there on the straightaway by one of my favorite riders ever.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Comparing Lap Times at MMSP

I've wondered for a while what the difference is between World Superbike bikes and AMA Superbike bikes. Are the World Superbike bikes faster, and by how much? Or is it mostly the riders?

Now that they've come to Miller Motorsports Park this year, I at least have some anecdotal evidence. AMA Superbike ran the entire course this year, instead of the outer course only, which the World Superbike guys ran. So I went back to last year's AMA data for Miller Motorsports Park to get my data.

In 2007, the top AMA Superbike Qualifying time was by Ben Spies, at 1:49.405. This year, the top World Superbike Qualifying time was by Carlos Checa at 1:48:193, putting Checa just about 1.2 seconds faster than last year's top qualifier.

Even more interesting is to take an average of the top 10. In last year's AMA Superbike qualifying, the average time of the top 10 qualifiers was 1:50.271. This year, the average time of the top 10 World Superbike qualifiers was 1:49.007, again about 1.2 seconds faster.

Another interesting comparison was to look at the slowest qualifying times. This year in World Superbike, the slowest qualifier qualified 29th at 1:52.601. Last year's 29th-place AMA Superbike qualifier logged a time of 1:58.232.

Until Ben Spies or Mat Mladin race World Superbike, we'll never know for sure how they compare to the likes of Troy Bayliss, Troy Corser, Carlos Checa, Nori Haga, and the other World Superbike folk. Mat Mladin, being from Australia, surely could have gone on to race World Superbike by now if he wished - he's won six AMA Superbike titles after all. Methinks he enjoys cherrypicking in AMA Superbike and so I won't expect him to move up soon. The rumor is that Spies will be moving on to MotoGP next year, not World Superbike. Personally, I'd sure like to see at least one good US rider in World Superbike, so we can find out if the World Superbike riders are really that much better, or is it just that the bikes are that much quicker.

Personally, I think the bikes are probably about one second faster. I have a very high opinion of World Superbike rider abilities. This especially shows up in the slower riders, as there was not nearly so much dropoff in times toward the end, which supports my other hypothesis, which is that World Superbike riders are generally more evenly-matched across the board.

Freddy Spencer explained a bit in the World Superbike broadcast that the differences between the bikes are subtle; the main thing he mentioned was that World Superbike bikes are allowed to run more aggressive camshafts and timings than AMA Superbike bikes. I suppose that could explain about a second per lap advantage on a 3 mile circuit. But I'm guessing that, overall, World Superbike riders are much better across the board than in the AMA.

Two big questions though. First, why is it that the factory Rockstar Makita Suzuki team so completely dominates AMA Superbike (I don't think they've even lost a race in almost two years) but the bikes in World Superbike are much more evenly matched? And second, could Carlos Checa or Troy Bayliss win in AMA Superbike on a brand other than Suzuki?

World Superbike at Miller Motorsports Park

It was an awesome weekend; World Superbike joined the AMA for a racing event at Miller Motorsports Park this weekend. Derrick and I went yesterday and had a pretty good time.

When we got there we first spent some time in the vendor area and the paddock. We saw a bunch of really awesome custom choppers there; this was one of the coolest ones:

As we wandered through the paddock we saw some very clear reminders that we were really at a World Superbike event. Notice the names of Troy Bayliss and Michel Fabrizioso, the factory Ducati riders:

We stopped at the Scorpion USA booth and saw Bubba the Scorpion there:

In the Yamaha tent they were displaying Valentino Rossi's MotoGP bike. Okay, I realize it probably was not really Valentino's real MotoGP bike. Still, it was cool to see:

We watched most of World Superbike qualifying on the front straightaway, about 500 yards from the turn. This is literally the fastest part of the track, as they would get of the throttle and start braking for the turn right in front of us. Sorry for the pictures; apparently my camera phone distorts the pictures at 190 mph. Actually, with the delay between when I press the capture button and when the picture actually gets captured, it requires quite a bit of timing to even get a shot with a rider in it; it is amazing I even got any at all.

We also saw the World Superbike practice and Superpole event. I captured this shot of eight different riders making their way through Tooele Turn:

We also got to watch the AMA Supersport race and the first AMA Superbike race of the weekend. The superbike race featured some great racing between Aaron Yates, Neil Hodgson, and Jamie Hacking:

Mat Mladin was challenging for the lead until lap 3, when he went off the track right near us in an awesome high-speed lowside:

That left Ben Spies to take the win, which he did convincingly, thus making us a pretty happy bunch (we are all big Ben Spies fans):