Sunday, October 9, 2011

Laughing Myself to Sleep

I indulged in a Sports Saturday, no college football. I didn't really start up with the sports until evening when Game One of the American League Championship Series began in Texas.

Even though my San Francisco Giants didn't make it into the Post-Season, I still like to watch September-October baseball when everything is on the line, and the best teams are playing their best ball. They don't call it the Fall Classic for nothing!

I wasn't paying that close of attention...I was having a ball on the internet watching the streaming snarkyness skewering the Occupy Wall Street protestors...that is until I saw the tarpaulins being pulled onto the diamond in a deluge! It wasn't that long until the ground crew was back on the field, rolling up the tarps. The skies opened up again, and the tarps were redeployed, and I began to worry that the ballgame might run late enough to interfere with the Grand Prix of Japan.

All up, the rain delay totaled 93 minutes, and the game didn't go into extra innings, so I was looking good Formula 1-wise. About 10 minutes before the Pre-Race, I tuned in SpeedTV. They were still showing something called The Bathurst 1000, a live Australian V8 Supercar road race from Bathurst, Australia. Speed had been hyping the event for a couple of weeks. It appeared to be running long, but it was entertaining.

It was running long! I looked at my racing Twitter stream...a long stream of Q&A from fans to SpeedTV trying to see the GP LIVE...contractual commitments were butting heads, and as always, American F1 fans had to pound sand.

In the internet age, if you get the race live on TV, you can get real-time Timing & Scoring via the internet. This really enriches the experience for serious gearheads...say if your favorite racer is back in the pack, you can monitor his movement up through the field even though he's escaping the TV camera's view.

Alas, the sublime synch-up was not to be tonight. Fortunately, my guy was on the pole and never got below third place, so no come from behind drama was missed. As a matter of fact, my guy Sebastian Vettel finished third, and clinched his second World Driver's Championship in a row...with four races still to run!

As usual, I was pretty invested in the Japanese GP. I caught practices P2, P3, Qualifying and the race. Something bothered me this race weekend though...the sound. Suzuka Circuit is a favorite of F1 drivers, fast and sinuous, with sell-out crowds of engaged fans. In practice sessions, there's usually less cars on track at the same time, than is typical during the race. With less overall cacophony, you can hear each car. The cars sounded awful! Off throttle they sounded like Harley-Davidsons with straight pipes on trailing throttle. Ouch my ears!

This year's F1 cars are all employing "Blown Diffusers", aerodynamic body structures that accelerate the airflow away from the underside of the car at the rear. Most of the rear downforce on the car is generated by the  diffuser. The Blown part was an in-season development by the teams that increase the efficiency of the diffusers. It works by rerouting the exhaust gasses into the diffuser itself, adding that little extra bit of airflow to the diffuser for that little extra bit of downforce. On the throttle it works like gangbusters.

It didn't work very well in the corners, where you need the most downforce, so the engineers devised an engine mapping solution where the throttle wouldn't close all the way when the drivers lifted, but the electronic engine control would still feed some fuel into the combustion chambers while turning the spark off. The air fuel mixture would pass through the engine, enhancing engine braking, only to ignite when it entered the hot exhaust headers, accelerating the exhaust gasses through the diffuser, creating more downforce just when it's most beneficial. What an elegant solution...that sounds awful!

The Japanese GP broadcast was provided to the world by NHK the Japanese Public Television Network in High Definition. For years I've been reading about how technically great Japanese TV is. I guess they don't spare a single Yen on their microphones either.

Blown diffusers will be illegal next season under the Sporting Regulations, so I'll only have to endure the aural assault for four more race weekends.

After the race and the champagne spraying podium ceremony, I restarted my Twitter feed and found an amazing story from Venezuela. In an effort to shame the wild drivers in Caracas' Sucre district into behaving like civilized motorists, The Caracas Police Department is deploying 120 mimes dressed in clown suits, white face makeup, and white gloves to wag their fingers at scofflaws!

You can't make this stuff up! I laughed out loud, and thanked God I wasn't having a beverage! Minus the potential spit take my mind raced...I imagined the Mime Corps in Al Capone's Roaring Twenties Chicago...oh the humanity...bu-bump, bu-bump...Brooklyn...Philly...comedy blood in the streets, Heaven Help Me!

Look out for that clown!

Good Night!

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