WFO Radio Show Archives

Friday, December 26, 2008

Gold Medals

Bernie Ecclestone is pushing a new points system in Formula 1, medals. Gold for the winner, Silver for second place, and Bronze for third. The driver with the most Gold medals is the champion. On the surface, it seems too different from what we’ve been watching to make sense. After all, the past two seasons in F-1 have come down to the final race and were ultimately decided by just one point. How can things possibly get better than that? There are some good points that have been made by Ecclestone in a recent interview on which is included at the bottom of the page.

First, I do agree that winning should ultimately be most important. While consistency has been a huge part of every point system (NASCAR, INDY, NHRA, etc.) they all leave the possibility for the average driver to beat the spectacular driver over the long haul. An example that I’ve given over the years is of a driver who finishes 2nd in every race. Is that driver championship worthy? Over the years, I have always said, “yes.” Bernie says “no.” In the case of Formula 1, I can understand Bernie wanting his champions to be winners. F-1 is the pinnacle of motor sport, where every position is contested. Why not make it winner take all?

Possible problems do exist with Bernie’s plan. A dominant driver could close out the season by its halfway point, killing any drama for fans. On the other hand, a team could go on a run late in the season and make up ground because “points” racing will be totally eliminated. There would no “safe play” for a driver. Every race would be a “win at all cost” exercise, making life at the top very cutthroat. I can see many battles for the lead ending in carnage. After all, why should any driver yield to someone faster if there is no real prize for second place other than a tie breaking silver medal. The teams that have no chance of winning races have the constructor’s title, which would retain the old points system, to shoot for.

Bernie wants to change the nature of his motor sport to better reflect the world we live in. Nobody really cares about the guy who is always a solid runner. People who watch racing for entertainment want winners, not drivers who played it safe. I think we should let Bernie try it out and see what kind of mess ensues. If it doesn’t work out, they can always change things back. If it works perhaps it could be a model for other series to follow. One thing is almost certain, Formula 1 has proven they are not afraid to test new ideas on people. People who, especially Americans, love winners.

Here is the link: At least they want to know what fans think. Don’t forget to vote at the bottom of the link.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Parts and Pieces

Just go away?

By now I’m sure everyone has read the blog piece by Robert Weintraub ( that was made famous by David Poole on That’s and then spread to AOL. If not, it’s not a big deal. I can get you up to speed quickly. Weintraub say NASCAR should shut down because it is no longer relevant environmentally, technologically, economically or as entertainment. Clearly, this was a “stir the pot” piece intended to piss some people off while evoking some worth while discussion. Something, I know a little bit about. Good points can be made on both sides of the argument. What is more important to take from this discussion is that we are even actually having the discussion. Could you imagine a story like this being taking seriously only five years ago? Of course not, and yet, here we are. The world is going to continue moving forward and NASCAR needs to move forward with it or it will continue to face a growing number of Weintraubs who offer only complaints and no solutions.

Big Three

I am happy to hear that the Big Three are going to get a portion of the bridge loan they requested a few weeks ago. It is amazing to me how many people actually wanted to let the domestic auto manufacturers fail. I’m sure that they will get something additional when our new President takes office. For now, it’s important that we use this extra time to think about whom we are and what we stand for. Other countries stepped up and backed their auto industries right away, while Americans debated allowing a collapse. How will we ever compete in the global market if our companies have to compete against foreign manufacturers that get governmental subsidies? Once they come out, I think we should all show our support by purchasing a new Camaro, Volt or insert your preferred American cars here. Too bad nobody can get a loan right now.

Don’t do it!

Petty Enterprises is still on the verge of a merger with GEM. A message to the King, “Don’t do it!” If Petty Enterprise cuts a deal now they will never be the same. There is no going back. I’d rather see Petty Enterprises run a partial schedule as a one car team until the economy comes back. Hopefully, NASCAR realizes they need to cut costs, big time. In the future, once NASCAR trims the fat, the Petty’s will be able to compete again. A merger now will seal the fate of NASCAR’s most legendary team at their lowest point.

Belle Isle

The bad economy has taken another victim, the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. I’ve been there the last two seasons since the race returned to the schedule. It is a beautiful venue that makes for a very fun day of racing. It’s sad to see they didn’t have the opportunity to keep the ball rolling. Hopefully, it will return in 2010.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Back Behind the Wheel

Palm Beach International Raceway

This past weekend, I finally got the opportunity to go see the Palm Beach International Raceway known simply as PBIR. First, I must give some background. PBIR is the track formerly known as Moroso Motor sports Park. Everyone in the racing industry knows the name Moroso. You see the stickers on nearly every race car. ( Dick Moroso bought the track in the early 1980’s and it’s one of the places that I grew up.

My first drag race experience occurred at Miami Hollywood Speedway, a track that was later purchased by Moroso, before it was demolished to make way for houses, thanks to Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Other than that, Moroso Motor sports Park was my home track. In fact, both of Moroso’s tracks were my home tracks. I watched races at both as a small child and I worked at both as a track announcer which was the prelude to my broadcast career. Most importantly, though, I raced there. Between 1991 and 1997 I was at one of the two tracks nearly every weekend. After Miami Hollywood closed, it was all Moroso from 1993 on.

As you can imagine, I have thousands of stories of all kinds with Moroso as the backdrop; races that I won and lost to friends and foes, good times and bad. It was at Moroso that I accomplished the top two feats on my racing resume, the Super Pro track championship in 1995 and finishing 11th overall at the Moroso 5-day race, also in 1995 (highest finishing door car, by the way). The point is…this place has been very important in my life and now it has new ownership and management who have changed everything!

As my father and I rolled through the gate in our 2005 GTO, it hit me. All the memories of my past were just that, memories. We had several preferred places that we used to park for a night of racing. All of those were now gone because they have changed the side of the race track drag racers pit on. There was no going back! To the left, where everyone used to pit for a night’s racing, now sits a go kart track (which has been there for some time) and the road course, which was being used by a driving club. To the right is the drag strip. In the past, the drag strip and road course shared the same area and had to run one at a time, now, they can run independently. As you look around you can tell that the new owners have spent a TON of money. The track is an all concrete quarter mile and the pits are completely paved with spectator grandstands on the right side of the track. In fact, it looks to me like the new owners spared no expense during the renovations. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things that I would change, like the 6 foot fence that obstructs the spectator’s view of the track from 1000 foot on or the teeny, tiny win lights in each lane. Honestly, though, those things can be polished over time. PBIR is for real!

On the track, the GTO ran a 13.777 at 101.90 mph first time down the quarter mile in the right lane but my starting line RPM was too low. For the second run, I moved to the left lane and raised the starting line RPM a bit too much and spun the tires running a 14.008. The third run, I ran the left lane again, red lighted big time and spun, running a 13.918. I was getting a little nervous at this point because the car was very inconsistent. How the heck was I going to bracket race later that night? Thank goodness for open time runs! The fourth run was perfect. I had a .055 reaction time and ran 13.590 at 101.98 mph. I needed that run, over and over for the rest of the night. Just in time, too. That was my last time run before the first round of eliminations

First round, I lined up in the right lane behind my friend Harry Morgan. He runs a Ford Escort in stock eliminator at NHRA national events. He was there testing his stocker which came from the factory with 65 horsepower and yet somehow it runs in the 17 second zone. We talked for a while before the eliminations started, but then realized we had to race each other because there were far more cars wanting to run the right hand lane. The first car in line gets lane choice, so I was going to have to race the left lane. Great. First time out in a long time, in a new car, at new track; I get kicked out of my lane first round and have to race a friend of mine who is 4 seconds slower than I am. He’s dialed in at 17.86. I’m dialed in at 13.65 so I’m going to have to wait just over 4 seconds before my side of the tree comes down. After we stage, his tree comes down and I watched his reaction time, which was good. I turned my concentration to my side of the tree, when it was time, I went. I had a good launch but then the car spun. I looked out the windshield to see him and he was half way down the race track. The GTO fought through the tire spin and I was able to catch him and nose him out at the finish line and win. I ran 13.708 at 89.78 to his 17.92 at 72.99 mph. I had a near perfect .002 reaction to his .053 light. Yeah baby!!! Castello’s back! The triumphant return of a former track champion!! Caesar is returning to Rome!! It felt great to go out there and have a good first round win.

Second round, I lined up in the right hand lane, again. But, again, I ended up racing in the left, this time against a Camaro dialed in at 13.29. I was dialed 13.64. We took off nearly together but I had him beaten in reaction time .050 to .063. I tapped the brake at the finish line and ran 13.707 at 89.94 mph to his 13.356 at 105.84. I got to the finish line first by .0120 of a second, hitting the brakes. Another win!!! This is great. I was back and winning rounds just like the old days.

Third round, I red lighted, -.035. And the night was over.

Overall, I had a great time at PBIR. Bracket racing is a great sport. I wish more people knew about it so they could give it a try. It was a fun night of racing and hopefully the first of many memories at PBIR.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Moving forward

The first week without Power Shift from 8 – 10 PM ET on XM 144 is over and the Earth still turns. In the radio business that is exactly how it happens. Normally the audience will find something new to listen to within a few days. In this case, I have received hundreds of e-mails in support of the show, myself and Thom. It is good to know that the Power Shift audience is a very motivated bunch. In the spirit of the Power Shift show I have already begun several projects that I believe will benefit the sport we are all so passionate about.

Tough Times

This week has been a total bummer on all fronts. There has been so much bad news that anything positive has been completely overshadowed. Next year, there will be no DirecTV Hot Pass. This is a terrible step backwards for the sport of NASCAR. Can you imagine going to a race and not renting a scanner? If you can, it’s because you probably never have before. Once you have it, it’s tough to go without. You know everything that you are missing. The drama of a last second pit call, the eerie silence as the cars come down pit road and those fantastic streams of profanity from our driving heroes all have become part of the experience. To go without them is going to change the viewing experience. I understand we are in a very tough economic time and to be honest, I might not have renewed next year for economic reasons, being unemployed and all, but it’s still a sad step backwards. Things are moving backwards so fast the next move will be a black and white television broadcast.

Petty Enterprises has parted ways from Bobby Labonte in a move that both feel is beneficial to them. Another, sad step backwards. Petty Enterprises have spent the last five years trying to pull themselves out of the ditch and just when they get close, they have to let it all go, just to survive. Richard Petty, an icon of American sport is now forced to scale back in the most dramatic of ways, possibly becoming a fourth team at GEM. If that merger occurs, even when the economy comes back, Petty Enterprises will never be the same.

Revell Models is no longer going to make NASCAR related model cars beginning in 2009. Big deal, who cares? As a child, whose original interest in motor sport was forged building model cars, even though my friends would destroy them, I can’t imagine today’s children not having that option. The reason given was the extreme licensing rights fees of NASCAR. To me, if you are in the car racing industry and they won’t make model kits of your race cars because the rights fees are too expensive, you have probably priced yourself out of the market.


Right now, motor sport needs leadership. The problem is basic, in that, everything is WAY too expensive. Everything, including cars, engines, transportation, human resources, licensing, all the way down to hot dogs and tickets is overpriced. People just don’t and won’t have the same money to spend in 2009 that they have in the past. Those that control American motor sport could wait and see what will happen or take a more proactive approach. The NASCAR testing ban is a great start, but it is just that, a start. Our government and our citizens are all taking major actions in the wake of this financial crisis. Motor sport must step up and cut costs across the board if it wants to survive this downturn. Fans don’t care if it takes $25 million to run a season or $10 million; they just want to be entertained for a couple of hours. I have often heard people in the racing community say we’ve had tough times before. That may be true, but this time, economists are predicting something far worse.

In future blogs I will outline some cost cutting measures I believe make sense.


Congratulations to The Driver of the Year, Tony Schumacher! The motor sports media got this one right, even if it was only by one vote. I wonder what the others were thinking? Great job, Tony, and thanks for coming on Power Shift at least 15 times this year.

It’s Frank Sinatra’s birthday. Happy birthday, Frank!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A New Beginning

Power Shift on XM 144

By now, I’m sure many fans and listeners of the Power Shift show, 8 – 10 PM on XM 144, have realized the show is no longer being carried on the Sirius XM platform. While I’m disappointed by the fact, I do not intend to allow this to be the end of my commentary on motor sports. Racing is a passion of mine and I believe that now more than ever, racing needs people who are willing to speak their minds regarding the sport. While I continue to pursue other broadcasting opportunities, I am entering the blogosphere. Thanks to the internet, which I still believe is one of the greatest inventions of all time, I will be blogging my thoughts regarding NASCAR, NHRA, Formula 1, Indy Car, the ALMS as well as whatever issues of the day are important to me. I invite you to bookmark my new, fancy blog page and check back often. I have found that if I don’t have two hours a night to vent about the issues that are important me it becomes a lot easier to get motivated to write things down.

The Terminator

I admit, I was not watching NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series awards banquet Friday night. It was the night of my final Power Shift show on XM and I was far more concerned with making sure my listeners had an outstanding final show to remember. While I was “on the air” I received an instant message that Kevin Costner had called Dale Earnhardt Sr. “The Terminator” by mistake. On the fly, Costner got ripped for his mistake and I moved on to wrapping up the show. Days later, this HUGE mistake is still bothering me. How could this happen? Sure, everyone makes mistakes, even the star of the best golf movie ever, Tin Cup (They should make part II, by the way) and the worst movie ever, Water World. This, however, is truly unforgivable. How can someone come into the inner circle of NASCAR and not know that Dale Earnhardt was “The Intimidator?” While Costner is to blame for not doing research or simply being unprepared, the real responsibility lies with NASCAR.

This is the ultimate example of how NASCAR has tried to sell its soul to the mainstream while forgetting its roots. Why was Costner there, anyway? Is he really that big of a fan? Obviously, not! He doesn’t know “The Intimidator” is not “The Terminator.” He was there to prove to the mainstream establishment that NASCAR draws “star power.” But instead of star power NASCAR got a kick in the teeth. Imagine if the NFL hired someone that was unaware that Vince Lombardi was the Packers head coach. You can’t, because it wouldn’t happen. The NFL is far too protective of their product. It appeared that Costner was reading from a teleprompter. If true, that means that there were multiple opportunities to catch and fix the mistake. And yet, thousands of fans and NASCAR insiders heard the sport’s ultimate hero’s name spoken in error at the sport’s own awards ceremony. Is it too much to ask that the people within the sport actually be fans of the sport? NASCAR is on the wrong path and this mistake is clearest example of it. To make good, Kevin Costner owes us a kick ass NASCAR movie, more along the lines of “Field of Dreams” but I’m afraid we may get another Water World.

Jeff Gordon

There has been an ongoing battle among fans regarding Jeff Gordon. Many fans love, respect and appreciate the four time champ while haters try in everyway to downplay his accomplishments and discredit his ability. Some have questioned his character over his 16 years in the sport. This week, Gordon, once again, has proven that he is NASCAR’s most valuable diplomat to the mainstream sports world. During an economic crisis that is, say it together, the worst since The Great Depression, Gordon has offered to take a cut in salary to help keep valuable team members employed. While he certainly won’t be missing any meals anytime soon, Gordon’s gesture is what stands out. Have you heard anyone else make that offer, yet? Once again, Jeff Gordon is showing those of us who support him as a driver and a person that our support is justified.

Backing the Wrong Horse

As the Big Three are in search of a “bridge loan” to help keep them afloat during this economic crisis, I find it interesting to see who is siding with whom on the subject. It is widely understood that NASCAR personalities and fans consider themselves Republicans more often than they do Democrats. We could examine the donations to each of the parties in order to prove this, but I believe it is unnecessary because unless you live on Mars you probably agree. The question is, where has that support gotten them? The facts are, that if the Big Three don’t get this “bridge loan” they will have to file for bankruptcy. Many top economists believe that this alone will throw our country into a deep depression with the loss of nearly 3 million jobs, many of whom are NASCAR and racing fans. These jobs have little chance of being replaced anytime soon. The millions of dollars the Big Three spend in NASCAR will go away, too. So what benefits NASCAR more: a bail out (bridge loan!) or bankruptcy? The answer is obvious, bailout. If they do get the loan there may be strings attached that effect various forms of spending. We have already heard that the Big Three will have to get rid of private jets. Perhaps support of NASCAR racing will not be part of the loan anyway, but right now, this is all about survival.

The Big Three automakers have helped our country in many ways, from employment of middle class workers nationwide to winning World War II. They have also helped promote and sponsor the sport of NASCAR for years. Chevy, Ford, baseball, apple pie and NASCAR are as American as anything out there and yet many politicians that have benefited from the support of NASCAR dads, fans and driver’s are the ones who would let the Big Three fail. If this does in fact happen, history will show that the sport of NASCAR chose its own executioner.