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Tom Bihn Bags: All About the Red, White and Blue, While Being Green (Video)
Tom Bihn

The brand tag on every Tom Bihn bag reads “Portable Culture,” and that’s the founder’s philosophy.  The care labels strongly reinforce this with the Latin phrase “Siquid mantica non capit, domi relinquendum est.”  Roughly translated, “if it doesn’t fit in your bag, leave it behind.”  But chances are, their extensive product line of backpacks, camera bags, laptop bags and messenger bags will allow you (or your canine pal – dog bags are also available) to tote nearly anything.

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Ideas That Changed NASCAR: iRacing Video
iRacing

If you’re like me, more than likely you endured a few family road-trip vacations in your formative years.  And if your dad is like my dad, he had the route and timing planned out days in advance, accounting for refueling, food and bathroom stops.  There were multiple folding maps and a few pages of handwritten notes stored somewhere within arm’s reach of the driver or front-seat passenger.  Yes, this was back in the dark ages before smartphones and talking GPS map devices.  There was little or no technology to help us strategically map our route and time our stops.  Before there was TomTom, we navigated by MomMom.

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Ideas That Changed NASCAR: The Hauler Video
hauler

Telecommuting is the best thing since sliced bread.  No more fighting traffic all the way to the office and all the way home, usually arriving at both locations tired and angry.  No more distractions from the account execs who hold impromptu meetings in the hall outside your cubicle.  No more having to restrain yourself from beating a misbehaving printer into submission.  Do your job without going to work – what a concept!  As long as you have all the equipment and supplies you need, can’t you really do your job anywhere?

NASCAR race teams take this concept to an entirely different level.  They employ massive tractor-trailers to transport the team racecar and gear from track to track from February to November.  Excuse me, racecars.  There are two cars in each hauler – the primary car and a backup.  But the cars occupy less than half of the space in the trailer.  Beneath the cars one will find an astonishing array of tools, parts, uniforms – even entire replacement engines – AND a command center room, where team members gather to monitor weather forecasts, plan raceday strategy or just grab a quick bite. The hauler drivers must have honorary PhD’s in logistics because they are master planners and packers – they know exactly where to find any item in the hauler, right down to each tiny nut, bolt or screw. 

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Ideas That Changed NASCAR: HANS Device Video
hans

In the universe of licensed drivers, I am in the extreme minority.  The few. The lucky. The blessed. I’ve been driving for over 20 years and have been in only a few traffic accidents, never suffering significant injury.  When I was 14, I was a backseat passenger in a car that struck a telephone pole hard enough to whip the top half of it across the street.  That one left me with only a red mark on my cheek.  I live in a major metropolitan area, braving a gauntlet of nearly 50 miles of freeway in my daily commute – each direction. Thankfully, I haven’t been in one of those terrible accidents we hear about on the radio several times per rush hour.

NASCAR drivers are not as lucky as I have been.  I’d guess that by the time each of them hit the Sprint Cup circuit, they’ve been in at least one of those multi-car accidents that makes the nightly sports highlight reel.  It’s a simple function of speed, proximity, human error and mechanical failure – eventually, one or more of these factors will cause one car to collide with another.  It happens every race, and we as fans can only watch, wait and hope that when the mangled cars come to rest and the other vehicles are safely beyond, the drivers emerge from twisted metal and walk away.  Read More »

Ideas That Changed NASCAR: Night Racing Video
Night Racing

Some people have the gift of thinking “out of the box.”  Surveying a situation or problem, they have the ability to view it with a perspective which borders between brilliant and crazy.  They always ask, “why can’t we make it bigger/better/stronger/faster?”

Humpy Wheeler knows a lot about doing it bigger and better.  As President and General Manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, now known as Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Humpy became famous for his outlandish at-track promotions.  Believing that fans expected – and deserved – to be entertained from the moment they arrived at the track until the time they left, Humpy made it his mission to keep thousands of fans on the edge of their seat.  Whether it was military re-enactments, stunt drivers jumping cars in school buses or the mechanical menace “Carasaurus,” he always delivered in a big way. 

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Ideas That Changed NASCAR: Race Control
David Hoots

I wasn’t on the high school prom committee, but I knew several people who were.  I heard horrific tales of hours spent planning the big dance at the end of the school year.  Choosing the theme; selecting the venue; hiring caterers, valets and a photographer; decorating the ballroom…all for the entertainment of a few hundred people for a few hours.  Now try and imagine planning and executing a multi-day event 38 times in 10 months.  And your guest list will have approximately 42 performers, dozens of judges, hundreds of photographers and tens of THOUSANDS of attendees!

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Ideas That Changed NASCAR: Pit Stops Video
Pit Stop

Unless you’re a die-hard NASCAR fan, you probably don’t pay attention to the pit stops during a race.  Even then, you probably don’t truly notice a pit stop unless something goes wrong – the car gets stuck on the jack, a lug wrench breaks or maybe one of the crew members slips going over the wall.  The racing pit crew is much like the offensive line in football – you generally don’t know their names unless they get called for holding.  The simple expectation is that each pit crew member performs his job in a matter of seconds (14 or less) and that he performs it perfectly.

Back in the day, a race team was much smaller than the modern versions.  There was a driver and the guys who worked on the race car in the garage, and that was pretty much it.  They would all travel to the races together and those mechanics were the pit crew.  These guys were not quick or agile, for the most part. When the driver came to the pit for fuel or tires, a guy would just grab whatever was nearest to him and they’d get to it.  Pit stops  – even in the mid-80’s – were timed in the 25- to 30-second range!

Then Ray Evernham came along, and changed the game. 

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