Monday, November 29, 2010

LOORRS 11/28/10 Ratings--Now That's What I'm Talking About!

OK, so it might be a bit of hyperbole to say that is was a great weekend of ratings for LOORRS but the result certainly beats a kick in the pants!

The 1.2 rating on Sunday equates to 1.2% of the 115.9 million TV households in the US were tuned to the LOORRS broadcast.  Yup, that means that 1.39 million TVs were replaying the Las Vegas LOORRS race at 5 PM Eastern yesterday.  As always, using my conservative estimate of 1.1 actual viewers per TV set ends up at an estimated 1.53 million viewers.

This rating is the highest for a short-course offroad event in well over two years.  The recent peak was a 0.7 rating garnered by a TORC broadcast on ABC back in 7/09--this was 71% higher than that!  Additionally, this broadcast, in comparison to recent "rally focused" broadcasts of the World of Adventure Sports on NBC grabbed triple or quadrouple the number of eyeballs as those shows.

The broadcast was not competing against middling competition either with the Eagles-Bears game being broadcast over on Fox and grabbing an 18 rating at the same time.  While ice skating (!) also drew a 1.2 rating at the same time, this is obviously not the same marketing target group as short course.

Factors in favor of the LOORRS broadcast were the late starting time (more of its core audience in the West were up and available to watch than if it were at 1 or 2 PM) and the "holiday" weekend that saw full couches around the nation looking for entertainment.

At the very least this represents a high water mark for the sport likely not reached since the CORR days (if even then, I'll have to try and check) and introduced a lot of new people to the sport and its sponsors/advertisers...

"The NFL Today" 11/25 CBS 12:00-12:30pm 7.8
"NFL on CBS": Patriots-Lions 11/25 CBS 12:30-4:00pm 15.0
"Fox NFL Special" 11/25 Fox 4:00-4:30pm 7.9
"NFL on Fox": Saints-Cowboys 11/25 Fox 4:30-7:30pm 14.7
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 11/25 NBC 9:00am-12:00pm 12.8
National Dog Show 11/25 NBC 12:00-2:00pm 5.0
NCAA Football: West Virginia-Pittsburgh 11/26 ABC 12:00-3:30pm 2.5
NCAA Football: Colorado-Nebraska 11/26 ABC 3:30-7:00pm 1.6
"Best of College Football 2010" 11/26 CBS 1:30-2:30pm 1.6
NCAA Football: Auburn-Alabama 11/26 CBS 2:30-6:00pm 7.5
NCAA Football: Michigan-Ohio State 11/27 ABC 12:00-3:30pm 4.8
NCAA Football: (regional) 11/27 ABC 3:30-7:00pm 3.8
NCAA Football: (regional) 11/27 ABC 8:00-11:30pm 5.2
"College Football Today" 11/27 CBS 3:00-3:30pm 0.7
NCAA Football: LSU-Arkansas 11/27 CBS 3:30-7:00pm 4.2
NCAA Football: Grambling-Southern 11/27 NBC 2:00-6:00pm 0.8
"The NFL Today" 11/28 CBS 12:00-1:00pm 2.4
"NFL on CBS": (single) 11/28 CBS 1:00-4:05pm 10.8
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (taped) 11/28 CBS 5:00-6:00pm 1.2
"Fox NFL Sunday" 11/28 Fox 12:00-1:00pm 3.6
"NFL on Fox": (regional) 11/28 Fox 1:00-4:15pm 12.3
"NFL on Fox": Eagles-Bears (73%) 11/28 Fox 4:15-7:30pm 18.0
Aspen Winternational (taped) 11/28 NBC 1:00-2:00pm 0.5
ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (taped) 11/28 NBC 2:00-4:00pm 0.8
Pandora Unforgettable Moments on Ice (taped) 11/28 NBC 4:00-6:00pm 1.2
"Football Night in America" 11/28 NBC 7:30-8:15pm 5.3
"Sunday Night Football": Chargers-Colts 11/28 NBC 8:30-11:45pm 13.0

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tell No One: A Book Review...

As much as I disparaged my wife for her poor film selection last week in making me watch Away We Go, so I must credit her with introducing me to this book.

She has picked it up at a local used book store and left it around the house while she was finishing up another novel.  I don't know why I picked it up, I usually have little to no interest in the books she reads which are mostly non-fiction accounts of drug users and/or abused children (that's what you get when you marry a Sociology major...).

This however was a great interlude in my more snobbish reading material.  Almost 400 pages in length, Tell No One reads about 1/2 that length as I chewed through it in the span of one afternoon and one evening.  You're not going to learn much here, nor are you going to remember the details...but you will be entertained.

If ever there was a summer/beach book primer, this one and I suspect this author, would be on the required reading.  The language is simple and cliche yet descriptive enough to feel like Coben isn't just throwing garbage down on the page while the plot takes numerous twists though none really unexpected.

The story revolves around a widowed pediatrician who carries a large amount of guilt regarding the murder of his wife some eight years earlier.  The good doctor one day receives a message on his computer that only his long dead wife would have known--and thus begins the trip down the rabbit hole that reveals numerous hidden truths about the doctor and his life.

In truth, this is the literary version of a Summer blockbuster.  Lots of lights, lots of action, lots of special effects and quite entertaining...just don't expect it to feed the soul.  If you just need to relax and enjoy some mindless entertainment this thriller will do the trick.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pearl Jam Quote of the Day...

"If not for love I would be drowning

I’ve seen it work both ways, but I am up

Riding high amongst the waves"

From the 2009 album, Backspacer and the song "Amongst the Waves"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Silver Fern Rally - EX Fiat 124 Rally car

Before starting the rally

Only in Rally...

In looking for more Nissan/Rally competitors at recent events I came across this...

No, not the 1991 240SX of Martin Walter and Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff that finished 13th in a field of 36 National level competitors at the recent Rally of the Tall Pines, and looking spectacular I might add...

But the 1991 Lada Samara of Bryce Baker and Derek Vincent...

The Samara was called the Sputnik (Satellite) in Russia and thus this Canadian team's name:

Another item you don't see every day in Stage Rally is a competitive passing move...but with the low powered Lada being followed by a more powerful and AWD Subaru, I guess they should have known this would happen...

Monday, November 22, 2010

epay Silver Fern Rally--Old School Rides Again... be on the other side of the world...

The epay Silver Fern Rally may concentrate on classic rally vehicles but I don't see anywhere that excludes more modern cars (and there was a new Toyota involved and I think a few other newer vehicles). Despite that this Rally was 1,059 kms in Special Stages ALONE, contested over seven days with an additional 1,859 kms in transit driving, totalling 2,909 kms in Rally length. Oh, and no pace notes or reconnaisance. Now that's a real Rally.

The event also included a shorter, three day, "Baby Fern" event for those who couldn't commit to the longer event and all in all it looks like some fantastic scenery, racing and classic racers that are still running all out some 20-30 years beyond their birth.

Best finishing Nissan/Datsun? 3rd Place in the Silver Fern Challenge (the non-Historic class) for the #53 Datsun 1600 of Brad Goldbrough and Aaron Topliff. Other Nissan/Datsun's included a Pulsar GTi, a 240Z, and a Bluebird Turbo. Enjoy the pics!

Silver Fern Rally...


Sunday, November 21, 2010

The North Face: A Film Review...

First off...don't believe the cover seen above...

The film (German language based, foreign, subtitled) really contains very little reference or involvement of the Nazi regime and certainly not enough to deserve the swastika shown here.  Secondly, the line "a true story" is also misleading.  Though based on true events a number of characters and events contained here are entirely fictional.

That being said, the film is still well done and takes a number of turns that would not be typical of a Hollywood movie.

The basic story behind the film is one that I was familiar with and surrounds the multiple efforts made in the '30's to climb the North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland.  Numerous attempts were made and a number died (60+ to dated) in trying.  Heinrich Harrer (he of Seven Years in Tibet fame) would succeed in scaling this wall in 1938 while this film deals with a 1936 effort, also by Germans.

An overall solid effort with good acting, a compelling story and well shot climbing scenes, the viewer doesn't ever think "I'm watching a "film" of people climbing" and instead one is able to suspend their disbelief for the duration and buy into the fear and tension of hanging onto the side of this mountain.

If you enjoy climbing and outdoor films in general, in the vein of Touching the Void this film will not disappoint.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Off to the Builder...

And away we go...

Project Retro-Runner was picked up this AM and headed to the builder's shop for its cage work.

Chris Howard (the cage designer/builder) estimates that it will take two weeks for the build, though, given I am also going to be awaiting the BTF front suspension pieces before the engine cage is done, I am not anticipating the trucks return until late December or even early January at this point.

Chris does the cage work for an outfit by the name of Dent Sport Garage from Norwood, MA.  The normally deal with either track or unibody Rally vehicles (Subarus, Mitsus, etc.) so this is a new deal for Chris who will be updating me with pictures as it moves along.  Additionally, I will need to go down to his shop to assist with the fitting of the seats at some point and will get shots of the progress at that time as well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Caswell BMW Heading to Mexico...

So Caswell got it done...whatever "done" means.

The Baja BMW completed its build and is now on a trailer heading out of San Diego to Mexico.  It still looks like its going to fall apart less than 10 miles into the 1000 mile race but you can't fault the guy for trying...again, I think he'll find that racing Baja is a WAAY different prospect than running even a WRC event...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Just the Facts...

The Overnight Nielsen Ratings from 11/14...

The numbers after each show represent ratings points.  1 point equals 1% of the 115 TV households in the US.  Conservatively figuring 1.1 viewer per household, the 0.4 rating for World of Adventure Sports means 460,000 viewers watched this show (approximately).  The ratings were up from a 0.3 a few weeks ago for the Travis Pastrana Mt. Washington Hill Climb show and was still up against some serious viewing competition including NASCAR and football.

In my opinion it could have been worse and any gain is a good gain.  I just hope it keeps building on this and if it can reach a 0.6 by the final RallyCross showing that would be a significant achievement.

"College Football Countdown" 11/13 ABC 3:00-3:30pm    0.9

NCAA Football: (regional) 11/13 ABC 3:30-6:45pm    4.2
NCAA Football: (regional) 11/13 ABC 8:00-11:45pm    3.4
NCAA Football: Ole Miss-Tennessee 11/13 CBS 12:00-3:30pm    1.8
NCAA Football: Georgia-Auburn 11/13 CBS 3:30-7:00pm    5.4
NCAA Football: Utah-Notre Dame 11/13 NBC 2:30-6:00pm    1.7
"The NFL Today" 11/14 CBS 12:00-1:00pm    2.5
"NFL on CBS": (single) 11/14 CBS 1:00-4:05pm    11.5
CBS Sports Spectacular 11/14 CBS 4:30-:5:30pm    1.7
"Fox NFL Sunday" 11/14 Fox 12:00-1:00pm    3.3
"NFL on Fox": (regional) 11/14 Fox 1:00-4:15pm    8.9
"NFL on Fox": Cowboys-Giants (83%) 11/14 Fox 4:15-7:30pm    17.6
"The OT" 11/14 Fox 7:30-8:00pm    10.3
World of Adventure Sports (taped) 11/14 NBC 3:00-4:00pm    0.4
ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Skate America (taped) 11/14 NBC 4:00-6:00pm    1.2
"Football Night in America" 11/14 NBC 7:30-8:15pm    5.1
"Sunday Night Football": Patriots-Steelers 11/14 NBC 8:30-11:45pm    14.2

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Away We Go: A Film Review...

I watched two films this weekend, one on Friday night and one on Saturday night.  Friday night I watched Moon, mentioned in an earlier post, and on Saturday night I watched Away We Go.  Guess which one I put on our Netflix queue and which one my wife put there...

This remarkably bad film is the product of Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and possesses none of the twists or intelligence of that film.  It does share a disparaging view of American society and Americans in general however.  One wonders if there is anything good to be found within American society from Mendes' point of view and if there is, it evidently lies within the over educated, snarky, under achievers found here in the main couple.

Its not even that I don't agree with many of the targets of Mendes' skewering found within Away We Go.  From white trash alcoholics to self indulgent parents to academically cloistered neo-hippies, I detest these groups with likely the same passion as Mendes--its just his lens through which he filters these views in this film is so poor, both in writing, structure and acting (oh the acting!) is so badly distracting that his points get lost.

John Kraskinski (The Office) and Maya Rudolph (SNL and Grown Ups) are so god awfully uninteresting and stupid as characters and just deadpan vanilla to the point of wondering if they were mentally impaired as actors that there is no way one can care about what they are going through.

I had three beers while viewing this film...the only way to enjoy this film for me would have been if I had consumed about a dozen more and blacked out...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Looks Like Bill Caswell Found Some Help...

From the guys at Strategic Racing Designs.  Looks like its coming along and is supposed SCORE tagged already (how I have no idea given its far from finished).  Regardless, Bill now has a ton of help and a great shop to work in.  I'm hoping he makes it out of Ensenada at the very least!

Moon: A Film Review...

Moon is one of the most enjoyable Sci-Fi movies I've seen in a while.

I love District 9 and there has been a decent number of solid Sci-Fi films of late but this is a whole different animal.  Moon is a far more introspective film that really deals with what it means to be human, what memory is, and other existential/philosophical issues.  As the film's director Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie by the way) was a philosophy major in college I guess this doesn't come as much of a surprise.

Jones has specifically created, and stated, that Moon is purposely derivative of the great Sci-Fi films of his youth including 2001, Alien, Silent Running, Outland, etc. and it shows.  The mood, look, feel, sound, tension and texture are all out of a different era of film making.  Additionally, one of the other creators of this film has worked extensively with Tony Scott, Ridley Scott's (director of Blade Runner, Alien, etc.) brother and the film was produced by Sting's wife Trudie Styler so the movie, despite its minimal budget and Indie cred has a solid foundation.

Sam Rockwell puts in an excellent performance in two (three?) roles and is virtually the sole actor in the entire film.  It says a lot about both the actor and story that a single actor/character can be on screen for nearly every moment of a film and take up 90% of the dialogue and yet the the film remains intensely interesting and enjoyable throughout.

Kevin Spacey is present here in voice only as Gerty, the AI possessing computer system in place to protect and manage the Moon station in which Rockwell's character is located.  Spacey's tone and dialogue marginally reference HAL from 2001 (how could they not) but differentiate themselves so that you are not constantly thinking about how HAL would have sounded in Gerty's place.

The special effects here are also well done and were created almost entirely with model miniatures vs. most current films that would just use CGI to make the Moon/vehicles/etc. come "alive".  These were done by the same fellow who created the Nostromo for the original Alien.  Again, Jones has drawn upon some of the best in the business to create a wonderful film.

If you are a Sci-Fi fan and/or enjoy more introspective, moody films this will rate as one of the better films of the past few years.  If you demand lots of action, characters, "witty" dialogue, quick edits, and other trappings of most modern films then this will not be for you...and you'll be missing out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pastrana Says Goodbye to Subaru, Hello to NASCAR and Toyota...

yup...sad as it is, after many years with Subaru, Travis Pastrana has evidently hung up the AWD and will now take to the roundy rounds of NASCAR under the guise of Michael Waltrip Racing...

There have been numerous hints that this would happen and the likely driving force is Red Bull.  It is truly a shame as Pastrana brought money and attention to Rally in the US.  With that gone it leaves Dave Mirra as the only factory Subaru effort at this point and if I was Dave I'd be looking elsewhere at this point given his lack of wins/solid performance despite the top shelf ride.

My personal opinion?  This is the dumbing down and vanilla-ization of TP.  He is getting into NASCAR right when its ratings are tanking, the sport couldn't be more boring, offers lots of low brow marketing opportunities and is completely outside his sphere of influence.  Does Red Bull really think a legion of NASCAR fans will switch from Bud to Red Bull and Vodka?  Do we really expect the flat billers to start showing up at Martinsville?  This has corporate marketing douchebags written all over it...

Good luck TP, you just lost a fan and the niche you created...
Pastrana Leaves Subaru...
Pastrana to join NASCAR/MWR

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cool H.P. Lovecraft Art...

The one above is based upon the novella At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft. If you haven't read it, go get it. Really an excellent work and the inspiration for sooooo many movies, TV shows, novels, cultural references, etc. that its ridiculous.

Other cool H.P. Lovecraft art worked up recently by the students at the RI School of Design can be found here:

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Well, the interior of my truck at least...

95% complete now I have only the airbags (passenger dash and steering wheel) left to tackle before the truck is ready to be dropped off for its cage.  In truth this has been the one part of the process thus far that has gone off without a hitch, easier than expected and in less time that I anticipated.  Beyond a Phillips and Flathead screwdriver and a handful of sockets the only "specialty" tool that was required was a window crank removal tool that cost $6 and facilitated the removal of a little C-clip on each crank to allow the door paneling to come off.  Otherwise the gutting of the vehicle has been a breeze.

I still have the two airbags to do so problems could certainly arise but I feel good thus far.  Lastly, I have to say I get a little perverse pleasure in seeing the giant pile of parts that have been removed from the truck.  Watching the pile grow bit by bit as newly removed parts were tossed onto it made me smile over and over again...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

World of Adventure Sports: 10/31 Ratings...

Formerly the "Jeep" World of Adventure Sports, the Aura 360 produced (a great little Portland, ME based marketing/production company that also produces Baja 500 and 1000 programs for NBC as well) aired the first of its four "rally" focused shows on 10/31/10.  While the remaining three episodes will devote substantial segments of its one hour time slot to the RallyCross events that have taken place in New Jersey over the past few months (last of the three events occurring this weekend) the 10/31 show contained extended coverage of Travis Pastrana's recent record breaking run up the Mt. Washington auto road.

Over the past year or so I have documented the ongoing ratings success or lack thereof, of the various shortcourse off-road series (CORR, LOORRS and TORC), the Baja 500 and 1000 as all have been fortunate enough to be featured on network TV during prime weekend sports viewing time periods.  None of the three could be considered to be rousing successes as one series has folded, LOORRS seems unable to grow its audience (but at least has been consistent in its ratings) and TORC has been relegated to HD Theater (though its series there is ambitious and extensive) for now.

I am not going to claim that network TV is the be all and end all of broadcast marketing.  With the  quality and speed of Internet video improving by the day and more and more TV channels (SPEED, Fuel, HD Theater, etc.) broadcasting "dirt" sports like Rally and shortcourse offroad, there are certainly many viable options for a motorsport series to get its product in front of viewers.  Network TV (particularly weekend afternoons) remains, however, the most widely available, free, over the air, traditional method with which one can reach said viewers.  That being said, its not cheap.  In fact, in most cases (XGames excepted) the occasions that these events are broadcast on network TV it is not the network paying the racing organization to broadcast its events (as would be the case with football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, etc.) and instead these racing organizations and their partners (read advertisers/sponsors) are paying the network for access to their signal in order to get exposure.

So we get to last weekend's World of Adventure Sports, 3PM Sunday broadcast.  Could a non-stick and ball broadcast have a worse airtime?  I doubt it.  Running up against a number of NFL contests the World of Adventure sports offered a nice alternative for viewers but there just weren't that many viewers to be had.  Below is the weekend sports ratings for network broadcasts.

"NFL on Fox": Vikings-Patriots (89%)
"Sunday Night Football": Steelers-Saints
World Series: Giants-Rangers: Game Four
"NFL on CBS": (single)
"NFL on Fox": (regional)
World Series: Giants-Rangers: Game Three
NCAA Football: (regional)
"Football Night in America"
NCAA Football: Georgia-Florida
NCAA Football: (regional)
"Fox NFL Sunday"
"The NFL Today"
NCAA Football: Tulsa-Notre Dame
PGA Tour Special: Best of 2010
ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (taped)
"College Football Today"
"College Football Countdown"
"College Football 2010 Special"
World of Adventure (taped)

Additionally, the NASCAR race broadcast on ESPN that afternoon garnered a 3.1 rating and had 5.18 million viewers.

Personal opinion?  While certainly not a rally only program (Parkour anyone??  come on...), Pastrana's run up Mt. Washington was the advertised highlight of the show and the one upon which the most focus was placed and was outviewed by 266% by figure skating and was the lowest rated sports broadcast of the weekend--not good, especially if you are already paying the network just to broadcast to begin with.

How does it compare to other recent "offroad" broadcasts?  The most recent network broadcast of a LOORRS race in May garnered a 0.5 rating and the previous four shortcourse offroad broadcasts on CBS, NBC and ABC all getting either a 0.4 or 0.5 rating with only a TORC event back in mid '09 grabbing a 0.7 rating on ABC and diverging from the trend.  If this were an apples to apples comparison you could likely draw some conclusions--unfortunately it is not.  None of those shortcourse broadcasts had to go up against competition like the NFL and those broadcasts were also solely devoted to the offroad motorsport of choice, unlike the World of Adventure Sport, which only concentrated on Pastrana's run but ran other segments as well--splitting its target viewership.

So was it a good result??  No, anytime you are outdrawn by some sad sack skating exhibition its not a good thing...but given the lack of promotion, niche of a niche of a niche motorsport focus (offroad>rally>hillclimb) and substantial competition, the results are not surprising.  It will be more interesting to me to see if the ratings climb even marginally (is a 0.4 too much to ask?) when the World of Adventure Sports broadcasts (in whatever form it ends up taking) the head to head racing of RallyCross that has taken place in New Jersey.  We will see...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Global Vehicles Officially Announces Mahindra Truck Ambiguity

Following in the infamous missteps of Crosslander and other foreign truck manufacturers trying to break into the American market, Global Vehicles, the supposed US rights holder for Mahindra vehicles has again announced that their trucks should be available...soon...

Now the date has been pushed back to next spring, despite the fact that Global Vehicles and Mahindra are in a nasty legal spat and Mahindra has stated flat out that it intends for Global Vehicles will never sell a single vehicle on its behalf.

So excuse me if you've heard this silliness before, but here is the latest release from Global Vehicles:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More SEMA Silliness...

Out of all the things I've seen pictured from SEMA so far, the above is by far and away the one I want the most.

I have a Traxxas Slash at home already and love it.  Grown up toys for grown up boys.  I still love remote control vehicles like this which are far beyond any mere toy due to their complexity, expense and adjustability.  They allow you to have tons of fun right out of the box and yet provide plenty of customizable options for those who want to take their vehicle to the next level.  You won't be handing these vehicles over to your three year old.

Also note at the bottom that Bill Caswell has begun his BMW Baja 1000 build and DAMN, those are some large shocks for an itty bitty will be interesting to see what this ends up as...