Friday, June 14, 2013

Jason Leffler, dead two days ago

There's a huge Bass Pro Shop on Islamorada, one of the big keys you hit on your way to Key West.  It's on the right side of the road if you're headed south, but you don't need such specific directions since it's about the size of a WalMart and has a huge sign.  I stopped in there once on my way from Miami to Key West to meet my friend Chuck and his brother Harvey for some fishing.

Wow, what a place.  I was on a schedule, but I could have walked around staring at the doo-dads for an hour, easy.  And I'm a guy who knows almost nothing about fishing.  I only pretend to like it so Chuck and Harvey can enjoy themselves without feeling like I'm bored.

But all that aside, even if I'd never heard of a Bass Pro Shop, I'd certainly be a big fan if I ever saw this car race ...

This is a sprint car (not to be confused the the Generation-6 cars that race in the NASCAR Sprint series) similar to the one Jason Leffler died in the other day.  Leffler, widely-liked, was a bottom-tier stock car racer who sometimes raced in NASCAR but more typically was doing dirt tracks.  He died in a race at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey after hitting the wall.  Bridgeport, if you don't know, is a six-tenths mile, highly-banked dirt track located in Swedesboro, NJ.  Manoman, I'd like to drive on that thing just once, just to see.

The cars themselves are crazy looking, what with the massive airfoils above the cockpit.  What I hadn't realized is that they are churning out about 800 horsepower.  Which is quite a bit.  I would have said it was significantly less.  Shows you what I know.  The driving style is a lots-of-gas, lots-of-reverse-lock, lots-of-drift kind of a thing.  You turn left by turning right, if you catch my drift.

Rest in peace, "Left Turn" Leffler.

p.s.  I once owned an Infiniti Q45, which I really liked until Daughter #1 hit it with her mother's Toyota.  Don't ask.  Anyway, the Q45 was Nissan's effort (just as the Lexus 400 was Toyota's) to steal some boojums from Mercedes' and BMW's domination of the lucrative high-end performance sedan market segment.  Which, history tells us, they did.

The point of the story is that the Q45 had a high-performance Japanese V-8 that produced a good bit of horsepower, and big wide tires.  And when you took the thing out in the snow and turned off the ride-control electronics, it took barely a blip of the throttle to make the back wheels spin like crazy.

So I'm amazed a Sprint car can put all 800 bhp on the ground, given the big fat tires and all that dirt.  I suppose there's a technique to it.


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