Bobby Orr had such a short career but he transformed the game of ice hockey. I feel privileged to have watched him play. The book, I fear, may be another thing altogether.
For decades, pit releases in Formula One were the province of one crew member holding a sign on a pole in front of the car and driver. Appropriately (and affectionately) known as “the lollipop man,” they choreographed the whole pit stop ballet, were a fixture in F1 racing and often — like Peter Windsor in 1991′s Portuguese Grand Prix, when Nigel Mansell’s FW14 Williams was let out too quickly, allowing a wheel to fall off in the pit lane — the subject of intense controversy.
The lollipop man was responsible for indicating to the driver (1) where his pit box is, (2) when to put his car in first gear, and (3) when to leave the pit box, when the driver came into the pits during the race. They were also well in danger’s way, as Jenson Button’s lollipop man experienced first-hand in 2006. And it was a frightening job.
My abiding memory is one of fear. It was terrifying, not only for myself, but because you’ve been entrusted with the safety of the crew — and your actions could contribute to the result. It was one of those things where you’re thinking “don’t put anyone in hospital” and “do the best job you can.” The first time you do it, it’s not a pleasant feeling. I really can’t remember the driver, whether it was Johnny Herbert or Eddie Irvine, but I do remember it being a long walk out to get ready for the stop. You’ve got all these scenarios going through your mind. And you’re almost playing through the pit stop before you even take part in it.
But all things in F1 must change. By 2013, nearly all the teams, such as Mercedes AMG Petronas and Ferrari (below), except for the backmarkers, have now switched to a system of automated lights. Sometimes they hang from the overhead superstructure and sometimes they are affixed to the front jack apparatus. The austerity of lights removes some of the human element from the sport, which we’ll miss. (For a longer historical view of the evolution of Formula One pit stops, check out this nice post at the F1 Framework blog.)
Ever on top of things, the official Formula1.com site still says: “The car is guided into its pit by the ‘lollypop man,’ named for the distinctive shape of the long ‘stop/first gear’ sign he holds in front of the car.” Pit Stops | Formula 1® – The Official F1® Website. Get with it, Bernie!
To honor the memory of all those old lollipop warriors, here’s a collection of some of the best lollipop man photos we’ve seen.
Dubbed as the “Manning Bowl III,” yesterday’s match-up between the Denver Broncos of Peyton Manning and the Giants, led by his little brother Eli, was not just a 41-23 rout. It exposed the dark underside of the New York offense, which has been utterly incapable of running the ball, as well as the failure of its vaunted defensive line to put any pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Some of this is attributable to age, but a lot of its is the odd reality that the GMen have for several seasons now lived or died by the big play. 50+ yards at a shot is doable — and done several times a game — but simple stretch plays and screen passes are just beyond the competence of this year’s squad.
The saving grace is that the 2007 Giants are one of just a few teams to have started an NFL season 0-2 and gone on to win the SuperBowl. But as NFLNation commented:
After a stinker of a loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday night dropped the 2013 Giants to 0-2, you knew you were going to hear and read all about ’07, because in the NFL it’s always about one thing that’s happened in the past that’s a little bit like the thing that’s happening now. It’s hogwash, though. Straight-up hooey. The Giants can’t be trading on yesterday in an effort to fix today’s problem. This right here is a whole new challenge for Tom Coughlin and the Giants’ veterans, and one of the few positives
Way to go, Phil.
This man is a warrior, a survivor, and a risk taking legend. He has faced inner demons most of us would shy away from and come back stronger. He’s an incredible father — taking the red-eye to the East Coast for the U.S. Open to be at his daughter’s 8th grade graduation. And he’s one incredible golfer. Three consecutive birdies to close out the best round of the day and come from five strokes back to win the British Open at Muirfield by three. A satisfying and well-deserved result.
It was 19 years ago today that the legendary Ayrton Senna was lost at Imola. RIP.
F1 engineers are hard at work again exploiting gaps in the FIA technical regulations. Last season’s double DRS (DDRS) systems are banned, so designers like the famed Adrian Newey of Red Bull are developing “passive stalling devices,” not driver controlled, to stall rear wing downforce and increase straight-line speed. Very cool.
The importance of this system, if implemented correctly and a balance can be found is potentially huge. With limited DRS usage now in force throughout an entire Grand Prix weekend, a passive system that can stall the rear wing effectively will give any team a great advantage throughout an entire lap — not just in the DRS zones as the DDRS was solely being used for.
But as the astute Craig Scarborough observes:
One issue facing the FIA and other teams is that the Mercedes DDRS solution will be banned in 2013, via wording to prevent secondary use of the DRS opening. But being passive, the Lotus system does not employ this solution to stall the wing. As it stand the Lotus will be legal for 2013, but the FIA are likely to find some wording to also outlaw this method of drag reduction.
This back and forth between designers and sanctioning bodies has been a part of Formula One for decades. Think back to Colin Chapman’s dual-chassis Lotus 88 or the infamous Brabham BT46B “fan car” from Gordon Murray. Both banned, of course. And the eiptome of all, the six-wheeled Tyrell P34. Formula One likes to say that it is the ultimate in technology and engineering. That’s not the case and never was. But the game is fun to watch.
After three of the most exhilarating consecutive seasons in Grand Prix history — although some believe Red Bull’s utter dominance of 2011 was on the boring side — Formula One seems headed for changes this year. The biggest issue, as typical in today’s post-recession global economy, is money. F1 takes enormous amounts of capital and it’s just not around that much any more. Despite a resource restriction agreement that is designed to level the playing field and allow smaller teams to remain financially solvent (whether or not competitive), the gap between the sport’s leading organizations and grid backmarkers is as large as ever.
The signs of this situation are evident. Marussia, which started back in 2010 as Virgin, released Timo Glock in favor of yet another sponsored “pay driver,” who basically purchased the seat. Caterham let Heikki Kovalainen go in favor of a second paid seat alongside Charles Pic. Paying for F1 drives is not new, going all the way back to Juan Manuel Fangio’s backing by the Argentine government of Juan Péron in the 1950s. But this time it feels different. The difference is that the F1 grid is shrinking, looking today like a far cry from the halcyon era of the early 1990s, when “pre-qualifying” was required to whittle the field to a “mere” 26 cars for Saturday qualifications. Former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari, yet another casualty of the paid driver trend, complains that ”F1 has become an auction.”
For some years now, there have been whispers in Formula 1 that all was not well financially with some of the teams. Finally, one of the most senior figures in the sport has put a public voice to them. McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says “of the 11 teams, seven of them are in survival strategy.”
This helps explain, in part, the relentless pursuit in recent seasons of new venues in developing nations (China, India, etc.) where government-subsidized circuits and rising consumer demand are hoped to help attract new commercial sponsors to the sport. But it is unsettling at best and scary at worst. With the advent of sporting regulation changes requiring engines, transmissions and other vital car parts to last for many races, the demise of special qualifying tires, spare cars and in-season testing, the basic parameters of F1 are shockingly different from its historical roots. Some see these as making competition better; others, like this author, see them as a threat to the fundamental nature of F1 as the epitome of automobile technology and engineering.
The New York Giants have an NFC East best 6-3 record, but their MVP quarterback has been struggling. Against Pittsburgh last Sunday, the 4th quarter magician managed a feeble three series, each three-and-out, as the Steelers came from behind to win.
Manning is the Giants’ guy who was busy making his own regular-season MVP case last month. The guy who has two touchdown passes and four interceptions in his last four games, and who has no touchdown passes and two interceptions in his past two. The guy whose quarterback rating has plummeted from 87.4 against San Francisco, to 78.9 against Washington, to 58.4 against Dallas, to 41.1 against Pittsburgh.
In 1967 — 45 years ago this June (the race was held earlier in the season in those days) — American Dan Gurney drove his own F1 car to victory in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. It remains the first and only US-built machine to win in the modern Formula One era, and was one of the prettiest F1 cars in history.
Watching Dan Gurney take his now-classic All American Racers Eagle-Weslake car around the slick circuit at Spa, while listening to him recant racing, and winning, back in 1967, makes this video really special. A machine of simplistic beauty, it’s amazing how much drivers accomplished back then with so little.
Gurney set a new lap record to catch and pass Jackie Stewart eight laps from the end and gain a maiden victory, by more than a minute, for the magnesium and titanium Eagle car. The light weight and advanced aerodynamics of the Eagle made it very fast, and Gurney shattered Tony Brooks’ record Grand Prix average of 143 mph (set some eight years earlier) on his way to victory. The Eagle was timed at 196mph on the straightaway, an extraordinary speed for a car with an engine producing (at that time) something less than 400 hp.
Spa was the first and only time in the 100-year history of Grand Prix racing that an American had driven a car of his own construction into the winner’s circle of an F1 World Championship event. No one has since duplicated this effort and is unlikely to do so as it has become far too expensive for an individual and a small, independent racing organization to attempt the feat.
As I said last season, when they made that impressive late-season run from Wild Card to Superbowl champions, the New York Giants are the new cardiac kids of the NFL. In 2012, they’re at it again already. Even Tiki Barber agrees!
Has this become so routine now? Are we to the point where we just expect Manning to do something like complete 8-of-13 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter? Manning had one of the 10 highest yardage passing games in the history of the league Sunday, finishing the game with 510 yards of which his team needed every single one to complete its comeback victory over Tampa Bay. But it was his fourth-quarter brilliance that once again brings into focus what Manning means to the Giants. Which is absolutely everything.
It’s 2012 now, and this is G-Men 2.0, which means nothing means anything until the fourth quarter, whether it’s a single game or the season as a whole. NFL teams are usually defined by their head coach, and Tom Coughlin has proven to be a great one. But this team belongs to Eli. A bad call, an injury bug, a ridiculous loss to the Dallas Cowboys or three interceptions in 30 minutes, it doesn’t matter. The feeling is the same: Just wait for the fourth quarter.
It’s probably maddening to Giants fans, who must spend two and half hours cursing or biting their nails before the real game begins. But if they look at Manning, they’ll see a ho-hum calmness that should give them comfort. Eli reminds me of the quiet kid you never should have messed with.