Lets Go Nitro!!!

Oh yeah!!! Just got back from having way too much fun at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals.

Two years ago I had never been to a race, and had exactly zero interest in going to one either. But then I booked some photo shoots with a few of the teams, shooting promo pieces and sponsor stuff, and after my first day at the track I was hooked.

Funny Car driver Tony Pedregon nailed it when he said that until you actually go to a race, you really don’t get what its all about. I try to explain to people that you actually can feel the sound, but only those who’ve been, get what I’m saying.

Anyway, this past weekend was strategically very important for the teams, as it was the penultimate to the big daddy finals in Pomona California November 12 – 15.
It was a crucial weekend for those drivers and teams in the chase for the championship, and every round was tension filled (and wild and exciting!!!).

I was lucky enough to be there with some really fun friends. John Amorosano is known nation wide on twitter to NHRA fans as @NitroJohn. Every weekend he calls the plays, live, and the NHRA nation is able to keep up with the scores as its all happening.

NitroJohn and Jeni Amorosano – two of the most fun people I am lucky enough to know!

We were guests of Don Schumacher Racing (D.S.R), home to 7 of the most exciting teams.
I hadn’t expected Don to be there greeting guests as we arrived. I was so impressed with his friendly and fun demeanor, and really thought him the most gracious host!

Don Schumacher – fabulous host, great guy.

My job for the day? Keep twitter updated

after each round we’d come back and I’d fill the twitter gang in on the goings on. I was also tweeting the races for NitroJohn, who was working the cameras.

We spent most of our non race time in the NAPA hospitality suite, and that’s where one of my favorite Funny Car drivers, Ron Capps is.

Capps warming up the engine pre-race.

The Napa Autoparts Capps-mobile, post burnout, ready to tear it up at, oh, 300 mph!

He is such a character! If you follow my blog you’ll know that I’ve posted a few of the hilarious NAPA commercials that Ron does with fellow NAPA sponsored racer, Nascar’s Michael Waltrip.

D.S.R is also home to Funny Car drivers Matt Hagan, and Fast Jack Beckman, who made it to the finals on Sunday, and although he went 303 miles per hour with a 4.15 second run, was just edged out of the win By Robert Hight who went 304 miles per hour and got there in 4.12 seconds.

This is Jack Beckman. Really funny cat! I cheered so hard for him in the final, but evidently not hard enough, because Hight managed to slither by him. By .03 of a second

This is Jack’s funny car doing his burn out. He and his main sponsor, MTS did this fab thing where we all got postcards to send messages to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. MTS is delivering them for free.
I wrote nice stuff, not my usual nonsense…

This is Matt Hagan. He rounds out the DSR Funny Car Team.

and this is the Hagan-wagon. Doesn’t it look cool?

There are 3 Top Fuel Dragsters at D.S.R.
Tony Schumacher drives the US Army car, and is in the leader in the points.

Tony Schumacher in his US Army pit.

Tony’s top fueller, during burnout.

Cory Mac drives the Fram car, and in fact, drove it all the way to the semi finals on Sunday.
I’m always cheering for Cory. He’s on twitter @Cory_Mac_TF

it only looks like karaoke. Really its driver intro’s in the Napa suite

Antron Brown raced motorbikes for DSR before heading off to drive a top fueller elsewhere, but as of this past week (or so) he and his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster are at DSR

Here’s Antron at the driver introductions

…and here’s his ride. He swept the Western Swing this summer, which is crazy hard, crazy cool!

DSR also has Matt Smith, who rides motorbikes for them.

US Army hospitality suite

It was such a fantastic day, and I really do have to thank DSR for being such amazing hosts!

You can follow them on twitter @shoeracing

And, of course, I can’t write about Ron Capps without posting yet another of his hilarious Napa commercials with Michael Waltrip.



Here Comes The Weekend…

So one of my absolute favorite blogs is the Racing Fashionistas. These girls have it down! They are all about fashion, fun and racing – three of my most favorite things in life. They mostly seem to write about Nascar, which I know very little about, but am learning all kinds of fun info from their blog.
If I lived in the same town as these three, I would want to be their BFF – they are just so cool!
Anyway, on Fridays they do a Happy Hour post, and each week they feature a different drink. Its pretty cool to see what they come up with each week.

I am not much of a drinker, even though I am a Kiwi. However, here and there I do stumble upon aperatifs that look fab, or maybe I’ve been out and imbibed something that is fab, so from time to time I will shamelessly rip off the Fashionistas and give you a new cocktail to make or to order. And it will probably end up being in a Friday post too.

This weekend in Phoenix we have ridiculously searing heat that just defies all belief, so I will be cooling off and enjoying the final outing of the Western Swing (via ESPN), with a big, cold Lavender Lemonade in my hand.

So here’s the recipe:

Lavender Lemonade

You will need:

1 cup sugar (divided)
4 tsp dried lavender (divided)
2 lemon wedges
12 oz vodka (I use Grey Goose)
3 oz lemon juice

Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water and 2 tsp lavender in a small saucepan. Boil til sugar is dissolved (only a couple of minutes). Cool down and strain syrup, removing the lavender.

Grind remaining sugar and lavender in a spice grinder until fine. Moisten the rims of your glasses with the lemon wedges and coat lightly with the mixture (like salting a margarita glass).
Fill a pitcher 2/3 with ice. Pour in vodka, cooled sugar syrup, and lemon juice.
Stir to mix, strain and pour.

Then kick back and see who wins funnycar, with a nice cold Lavender Lemonade in hand…



Oh and by the way, thanks for all the comments on the Sonoma*A*Go Go blog! It is so much fun reading about who you want to win. Some of you are just plain hilarious!!!
The race isn’t over til Sunday, so keep ’em coming!

Lovin Those Locks!

This weekend there was a Locks Of Love charity event put on by Tony Pedregon Racing at the summit Racing NHRA Nationals in Norwalk Ohio. Supporters lined up to have 10 inches or more cut from their hair to be used to create wigs for those who have lost their hair due to medical ailments. There were also auctions etc to raise money for Locks Of Love. The idea for this event came from Tony’s young daughter, who gave something around 10 inches of hair herself!

This got me thinking about a trip to India that I was supposed to take in March of last year. Seems like a stretch I know, but stay with me here.

One of my brothers lived in Bangalore for 3 years, running operations for an international bank. I had planned on taking my little guy for a visit at the end of that 3 years, thinking he would better remember and absorb it all if I waited til he was 7. We were all set to go after months of teaching my boy about India, feeding him the cuisine, and getting him all prepped, when wouldn’t you know it, my brother had to move back to Sydney a month earlier than originally planned. The trip had to be cancelled, and we didn’t get to go.

I have had a fascination with India for many years. I find the culture intriguing, love the food and the people and the history. From an artistic point of view I think the women are incredibly beautiful, I love their saris, their make up, the inner strength and peace in their faces. And I love Bollywood.

Anyway, with my great love of rituals and pageantry, one of the things I had planned to do while in India, was to travel to Andhra Pradesh to Tirupati, to Tirumala, the world’s most visited site of pilgramage.

Everyday between 50, 000 and 100,000 take the 2 1/2 hour walk up the mountain to the temple, and wait hours for a 5 second viewing of the sacred Idol.

There are some 3000 steps to take. (like I would have ever survived that!)

I may have some facts confused here, but it is my understanding that Lord Venkateswara, one of the forms of the hindu god Vishnu is in residence at the temple.

Many of the pilgrams top the visit off with what is called “tonsuring”. The women wear their best saris, in shades of bright pink, orange and turquoise, and line up for hours outside the temple’s tonsuring room to have their heads shaven, in the belief that by doing so the God will grant them their wish. Some get tonsured as a sign of gratitude for blessings in their lives, and historically the act of tonsuring is done as a sign of completely surrendering one’s ego at the feet of the lord.

Both men and women get tonsured, and little kids too.

This family sits patiently after being tonsured. (I would still be complaining about the walk up…) Sometimes after the weight of such long, thick hair is removed the women get dizzy and have a hard time standing back up.

The hair is collected, washed and treated and sold to become wigs and hair pieces. Temple hair as it is called, is considered to be the highest quality hair available. The glossy, healthy, waist length hair has never been treated with anything harsher than Ayurvedic soaps and oils, and becomes the most lush, exquisite hair extensions and pieces.
There is such a huge market for temple hair that approximately 500 tons of it is harvested and sold at auction from Tirumala each year at top prices. The temple consequently has extraordinary wealth, which it pours back into the community.

I am sure some of the wigs and falls that I own must have come from temple hair. Maybe not from Tirumala, but from any of the temples in India that perform tonsuring.

So I missed the trip to Bangalore, missed staying at the Leila Palace, missed staying at my brother’s beautiful home, missed touring the sites with my sister in law and their much loved driver, Ramu. Seeing it all thru pictures just isn’t quite the same.

I know that the spectacular visual impact of India and its people would have left me so inspired.

But inspiration can also come in the form of a pint sized little girl who not only was willing to give up her own hair to help another, but also had the drive to make an event out of it, get her family involved and raise money and collect hair for Locks of Love.

I don’t know if they are still taking donations, but if you would like to help check out www.tonypedregon.com

If you would like more information about Tirumala check out this great blog by Esben Agersnap at www.eagersnap.blogspot.com