(Double) Weekly Roundup: BMX Gold Edition

Congratulations to Niek Kimman, the Dutch pro BMX rider who came back from an unpleasant and unnecessary injury caused by a careless track official earlier this week to win the gold medal at the Olympics. Although he’d been a favorite to win the gold beforehand, the crash put him on the back foot and then some. I’m sharing the story of his resilience and courage with my son, and encourage you to share it with your children.

For Hagerty in the past two weeks, I wrote about John Mayer, considered the phenomenon of the overrated non-racing racer, and collaborated with Abimelec Arellano on two What If? articles: Crown Cobra and Cadillac truck.

I want to thank my readers for their patience with me. I’ve been traveling a lot with my son in the past few weeks, hitting mountain bike trails everywhere from New Hampshire to New Mexico. Expect a few standalone articles here starting on Monday. I cherish your readership and would like to be worthy of it.

38 Replies to “(Double) Weekly Roundup: BMX Gold Edition”

  1. stingray65

    Jack, I enjoyed your column about racing driver qualities. At the highest levels of racing it seems to me that a major driver of rising costs is the desire of the manufacturers and sponsors to build a car that can overcome the limitations of their driver. Natural driver talent that is head and shoulders above most rivals (i.e. Foyt, Andretti, Clark, Donahue, Prost, Pearson, Schumacher, etc.) is extremely rare and someone with lesser natural talent is never going to acquire equal ability by extra practice, weight training, or better nutrition, etc., but a large budget and creative team of expensive engineers can design a car that pushes the envelope of the prevailing rules to overcome lesser driver deficits and put the sponsor’s name in the winner’s circle. This is something that can’t usually be done is “cheaper” sports, where no Nike engineer will ever design a shoe that can turn an ordinary fast runner into a Usain Bolt beater. This of course leads to shifts in what becomes important in terms of evaluating driver talent, and explains why being fast in race car has become less important than being good on video and a good schmoozer with sponsors because those are the talents that bring in the money to buy the fast race car. Yet having very good talent in actual driving and ability to work well with the team is still somewhat important, because if it wasn’t there wouldn’t be any white male heterosexual drivers in top cars given today’s PC world and the consequent increasing sponsor preferences for people of color, women, and people who aren’t sure what gender they are or like. In other words, if a pink haired lesbian with a slick rebellious attitude during interviews showed even a hint of driving talent she would no doubt find a selection of top cars/teams available and sponsors eager to pay big money to slap their logo on her car.

    Public Relations ability becomes a duel edged sword in todays world of YouTube millionaires and other avenues to turn decent driving skills and track records into highly paid and physically safer alternatives to driving. The rare exceptional driving talent who wins consistently will continually be tempted by sponsors, advertisers, networks, etc. to provide well paid non-driving content that leads to less and less time being spent on the driving that maintains the fine edge on your ability and relationship with their team, which may lead to slightly less winning and even more temptation to become a media personality. If your talents in driving are somewhat lacking but you have great talent in front of a camera, you may decide that starting your own YouTube channel or working as the paid driving talent on Top Gear or Motor Trend is a more profitable way to spend your time. The days when a Jim Clark or A.J. Foyt would in race multiple series not only because they loved driving, but because that was the only way they could earn a decent living are mostly long gone.

    Reply
  2. -Nate

    Yesterday I was in Inglewood, Ca. and a pristine 1969 Cadillac flower car (pickup truck) passed me ~ it was beautiful .

    I’d have thought your ’69 Escalade would have used the ’69 Suburban upper body….

    I still like it but looks a bit off .

    Too many of my buddies didn’t make it home and many who did were damaged beyond imagination .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      The idea was that Cadillac would have early access to the so called squarebody platform.

      Reply
      • -Nate

        That’s plausible Jack .

        I just thought it would have looked better, more contemporary .

        I do understand how you have to construct the stories after the art so to speak .

        I don’t grasp how the images are created but I read the 1957 Tesla story and thought it looked great .

        -Nate

        Reply
  3. hank chinaski

    My first thought as well from those ‘chops was ‘service car’.
    There’s a lot to unpack from that most entertaining vignette…. I’m guessing your own dad in there, the Nam/Affie exit thing, and of course a hot chick violently buys the farm (thump, whoosh….hey, isn’t a bug’s tank in the front?). How many does that make?

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      It’s true that my father volunteered for Vietnam and served in the Marines with distinction… but my ultra-sharp Eldorado-driving grandfather supported him and he did become a recruiter after DEROS. There was a female WAC captain at the same recruiting station who didn’t meet either of Cheap Trick’s criteria… and the rest is history!

      Reply
  4. Wi Tu Lo, Co-Pilot

    Re: ’69 Escalade
    Thanks, great story. Now we know a little more about the early days of retired Senator Barbara Boxer from Brooklyn.

    Reply
  5. Eric L.

    After almost seven years in paradise, I left San Diego for Boise–following all the other libertarian Californian exiles up to the mountains. If you and Small J make it up here, holla at yo boy. I need him to tutor me and my 8-year-old!

    [I saw an ad on PinkBike for mountain biking in Idaho in March. Visited Boise in May. Bought a house sight unseen in June, and here we are.]

    Reply
    • Newbie Jeff

      “After almost seven years in paradise, I left San Diego for Boise–following all the other libertarian Californian exiles up to the mountains”

      You always come across as a really nice guy, so please take this as good faith advice. Congratulations on your move. I would tread VERY lightly as a California refugee. Californians are vehemently hated in my state, and I’m guessing it’s the same in Idaho… whether that feels undeserved or not. Remember that the locals built their towns into the places that you and many others decided was better than whatever California has become. If things in Idaho start changing and seem familiar to how things are in California, you can be absolutely sure that you and the other exiles are doing it wrong.

      Reply
      • stingray65

        If a Californian wants to dispel the perception of the natives of their new state that they intend to support policies that turned California into a dystopian nightmare, they should make sure to be very clear that they support gun rights, free speech, cheap and reliable energy, low taxes, enforcement of vagrancy and immigration laws, and while wearing a MAGA hat tell their new neighbors that they believe Pelosi, Newsom, Feinstein, Schiff, Swalwell etc. are all idiots and/or traitors, and should be taken out and shot for the good of the country. They might also wish to demonstrate that they like a good burger, steak or pork chop, clearly vocalize a belief that transgenders should get the mental health help they need but should stay out of the locker rooms, bathrooms, and sports of the gender they have delusions of believing they are, and attend school board meetings where they can show their support for making sure 1619 projects, CRT, and other false Leftist narratives stay out of the classrooms. If most of these issues and actions are in conflict with your values and beliefs, then you should turn your Biden-Harris bumper stickered Tesla around and drive back to California where you belong (or keep moving along to NYC).

        Reply
        • Newbie Jeff

          “…and while wearing a MAGA hat tell their new neighbors that they believe Pelosi, Newsom, Feinstein, Schiff, Swalwell etc. are all idiots and/or traitors, and should be taken out and shot for the good of the country”

          Ha! I was trying to be polite and subtle… but, yeah, this. The whole Swalwell thing is fascinating to me. Nothing illuminates the Orwellian quality of California’s one-party political totalitarianism like Eric Swalwell going on TV accusing Trump of sedition and insinuating his supporters are traitors. California is a clown world.

          Reply
          • Ronnie Schreiber

            They tried to smear Matt Gaetz as a sex trafficker because he apparently would cover the airfare for the young women who flew to visit him, something many men would do if they had the means, but Eric Swalwell was banging Fang Fang, a likely CCP spy and gets a pass.

  6. Newbie Jeff

    On the pro-driver piece:

    “Spanks are often as good as pros, and nobody likes to talk about that…”

    I’ve always wanted to compare myself to a pro… late last year, I got my chance. I’ll be as honest as my memory serves…

    I bought a seat on a WRL team for the series championship weekend at COTA (fun fact: I’ll never do that again). I had never driven COTA, or a FWD race car (a Civic factory-built race car), or WRL. The car was very slow, even in our class, thus a lot of workload went towards managing faster traffic from behind.

    Of the three amateurs, I was the fastest… until the owner sold seat time to a NASCAR pro driver on the second day. If I recall correctly, I managed a 2:40.1… the NASCAR guy managed a 2:39.6.

    So I got my benchmark… I was within half a second of a pro. Other factors: the pro had also never driven COTA, he was getting seat time because COTA was on the Cup schedule. I laid down my lap on fresh tires, in the morning when track and ambient temps were lower. The pro laid down the team best on the same tires hours later, under warmer (but still relatively ideal) temps. The pro had a busy racing schedule… I had only done one track day in the previous 6 months, and hadn’t raced W2W since March of ’20 thanks to… well, you know.

    I’d like to think that all things being equal – meaning same car, same conditions – I could match the pro’s fast lap… IF I’d be able to get as much regular seat time as he had, thus having peak proficiency. But results are results, and it was nevertheless pretty impressive to watch a pro jump in and almost immediately lap faster than the team’s amateurs.

    Reply
  7. benjohnson

    The “managing car wear” hit home:

    During my stints on Track Night In America, I can sometimes keep up with my betters but my poor Buick pays the price of my lack of finesse: while I like the smell of hot brakes and chewed-up tires it does represent about $300 in extra wear.

    Business is a lot like this: I’m not the best coder out there, but I have learned to run a business smoothly and that has made all the difference. The ‘meta-game so to speak.

    Reply
    • sgeffe

      Which one?!

      The fact that the younger went in with the “Sch(m)i(d)t-show” told me everything I needed to know!

      Reply
      • Tom Klockau

        Honestly don’t think about that clan much, but reading the end of Jack’s column it just popped into my head, ha ha.

        Oh and I meant the old one. The newer one, I never had any run-ins with that one…

        Reply
  8. CJinSD

    Have I been banned from commenting on Hagerty articles? I keep getting a request to complete my profile before commenting that goes nowhere.

    Reply
  9. Disinterested-Observer

    I would absolutely love a counter-factual world where “spanks” or anyone could take an infinite number of goes at the old “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” or for that matter any car on the old Top Gear Track up to and including the un-bewinged Koenigseggggggg. I don’t mean a simulator/video game because you don’t get teh g’s and the danger, the actual cars. Hey, I said it was counter-factual.

    Not to toot my own horn, but at the local Kart track, I am somewhere north of the 95th percentile. I totes would have took the ‘eggg (as I like to call it because of our close relationship) past whatever corner the Stig spun on. However, as the saying goes, if you’re one-in-a-million there are 7900+ people just like you.

    Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      For some reason, I find “Everyman takes a spin in a supercar” to be more interesting than celebrities slumming in a mass market car. I’d love to put an average Camccordata driver in a McLaren or Koenigsegg.

      Reply
  10. Rob

    Re: the article on the skill level of racing pros. I am reminded of an article I read many, many years ago in Car & Driver about a then brand new telemetry system. You could put this system in a car and it would show your line and speed around a track. This was beyond the bleeding edge back before GPS.

    Anyway, they set the system up in a Tbird and did some laps around the Ford test track. Then Ford’s test driver – who happened to be former F1 champ Jackie Stewart – did some laps. Stewart’s laps were much faster. Using the data from the telemetry system, the C&D guys then proceeded to duplicate Stewart’s line. At the end of the day, Jackie was faster but the gap had narrowed considerably.

    My guess is back in The Olde Days, racing pros had a body of knowledge that was difficult to articulate even if they had been inclined to share their secrets. Now, GPS knows all.

    Rob

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Yeah there’s a potentially apocryphal story about Bob Bobdurant driving wacky lines during a race so people wouldn’t copy him. Certainly if you look at any footage of racing prior to 1970 it’s a lot of geometric lines and long, gentle braking going into corners.

      Reply
      • stingray65

        Geometric lines and long gentle braking are about the best you can do when your race car has 3 inch wide tires made of rock hard rubber and mounted on fragile wire wheels that are slowed by drum brakes that fade to nothing after a few heavy uses, and the fuel tank surrounding the driver is made from tissue strength aluminum as he navigates a circuit lined with trees and stone walls.

        Reply
        • Jack Baruth Post author

          Absolutely! But if you put Carroll Shelby in a modern SCCA American Sedan race with no preparation he’d get lapped.

          Reply
          • stingray65

            I’d say that still being able to get around a circuit at all would be a pretty excellent performance from a guy who has been dead since 2012. I wonder who ole Shel voted for last November.

  11. silentsod

    I’d be interested to hear more about your time in Denver.

    In my eyes it’s degraded notably over the past two-three years and I am no longer going down there for anything other than a necessary trip.

    I find it a shame.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      My kid and I had some negative interactions with street people there. It’s being taken over by a group of people who have nothing to lose and who apparently cost the city over $190k a year each in services.

      Reply
  12. silentsod

    That is similar to my experience.

    I find it difficult to believe it’s acceptable to the residents and yet they keep voting (maybe) for it. Seems cruel to people who need genuine help and to the people who must live nearby.

    Reply

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