Zanardi inspires – again; hockey disappoints – again; randomness

Posted: September 5, 2012 in Hockey, Racing

First and foremost, Alex Zanardi won Paracycling gold today at the Paralympics in London.  His horrendous Champ Car crash in Europe in 2001 was a fatal accident in all respects.  The ferociousness of the impact itself, the loss of blood, the injuries – if you’ve ever read or heard the information from the doctors who were involved in the situation there is no reason to believe that he stood a chance of survival.  But, survive he did.  Not only did he recuperate to a normal life without his legs, he went on to compete again in racing thanks to his prosthetics.  As if that weren’t accomplishment enough he proceeded to win races again, win another championship and now a gold medal.

He has already written one book and is now almost assuredly necessitated into writing a second.  Alex is my number one example of inspiration and a never give up attitude.  If anyone in the world is in a state of their lives where they need a role model to look up to, Alex Zanardi is their guy.

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The Grand-Am series and the American Le Mans Series announced today that they are merging beginning with the 2014 racing season.  This is a great step forward for sports car racing in this country but I am very cautiously optimistic.  In my opinion, sports cars are the purest form of four wheeled racing that there is.  From distinctive manufacturers to the challenge of racing through all hours of the day and night no matter what the weather conditions are.  That is why I lean toward ALMS more than Grand-Am.  The latter is essentially owned by NASCAR and it shows: cars look identical with the only difference being engine manufacturers, races are on (slightly) smaller tracks, rules packages created to cause close racing.  Where ALMS on the other hand displays very distinguishable differences amongst the manufacturers, races tend to be a bit longer and are done on tracks that really test man and machine.

With that said, the way in which this merger transpires is extremely crucial for the success of the series.  While sports car racing is my personal favorite, it’s not suited for the typical American race fan.  That’s why NASCAR is so popular in this country: it’s straightforward, designed (and in my opinion sometimes “scripted” – for lack of a better word) for close racing and easy to follow.  Sports car racing has been solid but not overly successful in this nation with two separate series.  However, this stretches beyond our domestic boarders and has international concerns.  ALMS is named after the world’s most famous race: 24 Hours of Le Mans.  Depending on what rules packages the new series incorporates, that could jeopardize American based teams getting invites to compete every June in France.  That would be a massive heartbreaker and killer for the potential growth of the series.  I certainly don’t think any of the powers-at-be are stupid enough to ignore that aspect of the merger, but I have my concerns.  After all, it basically includes NASCAR involvement and I don’t trust that organization one bit.

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The first game of the NFL’s regular season was played tonight.  What’s my favorite part about football season?  The fact that it means it’s damn near hockey season.  The purest, most beautiful team sport in the world is at risk of losing yet another season from its premiere league.  The NHL needs to get its crap together.  The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires next Saturday and for all intents and purposes from a fan’s perspective absolutely zero progress has been made.  Now I know I’m just a simple man who doesn’t fully know the true extent of the negotiations, but I do know the whole situation stinks.  I know there should be more efforts being made to get meetings put into session.  I know Gary Bettman is a horrible commissioner.  Seriously, in my opinion he’s brutal.  Shouldn’t his primary concern be not having a repeat of the last lockout in which an entire season was lost?  What has he done to this point to prevent that?  Again, I know I’m just a dullard when it comes to the current CBA situation but from my perspective he hasn’t done nearly enough to get the two sides together to hash out an agreement.  He is the commissioner.  It’s not his job to pick a side; it’s his job to make sure a new CBA gets done.  Period.

I absolutely love hockey.  It’s my saving grace.  When I’m having a bad day or needing a “pick-me-up” in life and Bon Jovi’s music isn’t available, I know that a hockey game will do the trick.  With that said, I will lose an incredible amount of respect for the NHL if a lockout happens yet again.  I will in no way look at the league the same and won’t hesitate to distance myself from it.  Those who know me need look no further than my life growing up in racing to understand that I mean it when I stand up for what I believe in and denounce the people, places and things that I don’t believe in.  If this lockout happens, I will lose a lot of belief in the NHL.  Almost as much as I’ve lost in Bettman.  Almost, but not quite.

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I’ve never really gotten too personal on these pages before.  Yes, everything I type is a personal chunk of me but I’ve always tried to keep it professional.  However, in my personal life next week something very incredible is going to happen.  My cousin and absolute best friend is getting married and I get to be her Man of Honor.  Yes, that’s right.  I’m standing on her side of the wedding party.  I cannot stress enough how incredibly honored and insanely proud I am to have such a role.  To even be told that you get to be in a wedding is quite the experience that not everyone gets to enjoy, but to be a Man of Honor?  How many men get to say that?  Yes, I have faced a lot of laughs and weird looks when I’ve told people my title, but I just beam a huge smile back and tell them to screw off.  It will for sure be an absolute highlight of my life – not just for the obvious selfish reason, but because I get to be standing up there with my best friend to watch her enter into the new chapter of her life with her soul mate and true love.  I can’t wait!

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