Daytona opens the national racing season for the new year. IMSA and the ROLEX 24 and the Daytona 500 for NASCAR are big, traditional markers as calendars start to open for racing on tracks across the Country. National series and local short tracks are getting the off season turned on for the new season.

Locally, where I am in Virginia, the MDA Car Show opens the season for so many “car” options around SW Virginia (all over Virginia, but I’m in Roanoke). There are more shows coming up and some even have coffee available! Racing, of course, is on the doorstep. NASCAR is just weeks away at Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway. South Boston has the SMART Mods as an opener. Franklin County Speedway has a season opener coming up. Virginia International Raceway has their season on tap. Natural Bridge Speedway also has practices coming up and racing on for April.

My plans are a bit different for early season events than has been the norm for previous years and schedules. I am checking NASA club racing at VIR and the SMART run at SoBo for March. However, NASCAR at Richmond and Martinsville are in a “conflict zone”. It’s covered. A very knowledgeable photographer has my back for keeping Missed Gear in the game.

The wife and I have a major trip on and it was set before the NASCAR schedule was finalized. In short, we’re going to Wales in the UK. Now, as it is that I’m missing two of the signature events I enjoy, I’ve convinced the best half to do something a bit more “carry” once we get there. We are doing a “Grand Tour”, such as it is…

From Heathrow in London, we will proceed in a standard issue rental car to Stonehenge. We will “Oooh and Aaaah” at old rocks and then proceed to the Royal Oak (Swallowcliffe) for the overnight stay and, hopefully, some dinner and a gin & tonic. The next day is travel north to Diddly Squat Farm. I’m not even sure the shop will be open but, if so, we’ll stop and get some provisions. We may stay over in town or drive on but the next stop is west at a car shop known as The Smallest Cog.

Yes… Somehow I’ve convinced the woman who planned the trip to take the first few days to visit the business locations of James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond who, of course, are the famed “Top Gear” and “Grand Tour” trio. Will I meet any of them…? Odds are likely not as there really hasn’t been any advance contact. It would be a fascinating bonus to meet them and compare some notes and stories but, as they say, I’m not holding my breath.

But who knows…?

Here in Virginia, racing is going green. Car shows are gathering. The season is turning and events are there. Support the shows. Support the tracks. It is appreciated. Go driving, Virginia!

I’m a little stuck now…

BBC America air(ed) Top Gear on Monday nights. I don’t know what to do with Monday now…

It is out now that host Jeremy Clarkson has been “sacked” by the BBC. It is the result of a “fracas” which, apparently, involved some verbal and physical confrontations aimed at one of the “Top Gear” producers. There was a cancellation of the remaining episodes in the current season, an immediate suspension of Clarkson, an investigation and the the final report and result.

Clarkson himself did, from what accounts can be put together, the right things (mostly) in the aftermath of the “fracas”. He called and acknowledged the incident. He made apologies. He cooperated and kept his mouth off of commenting on the investigation, mostly. He did make some colorful comments at a fund raiser he was already booked into. People laughed. Money was raised.

Now that the BBC has taken the step of pulling Clarkson what happens? Co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond have not talked much, either. The common thread from the two is that the show is a package with all three and the question of making “Top Gear” with them and without Clarkson is a grey area neither has put a foot in. It is Clarkson that opens the show and welcomes the audience. He is the engine that has driven it with May and Hammond being the fuel and the spark.

As for the BBC… They have pulled the rug from their own gold mine. The show generates a bazillion dollars (pounds, if you like) and is aired with licensing all over the world. It is quite possibly the most watched TV show out there and certainly so for the BBC. Obviously they had to do some kind of thing but was that thing necessarily shooting themselves to make a point. Yes, Jeremy Clarkson certainly earned himself sanctions and or fines, community service and a giant helping of humble pie. He could have been forced to do the next season from the driver’s seat of a Morris Marina. There were, fans believe, other options available to address the seriousness of Clarkson’s actions.

Now the future of “Top Gear” hangs in the balance. The show could go on with May and Hammond and perhaps a new somebody. Fans, and Hammond and May, know it will not be close to what it was. The playful tension that makes the show work would be forever warped and likely broken.

Let’s also examine the money again. Not only is the cash flow to the BBC put down a hole but also the cash flow for the many people involved in making the show. Clarkson, May and Hammond have enough bank to be quite fine but what of the camera crews, logistics personnel, producers (including the one with the swollen lip), assistants, back stage crew, and all the others who made their living making sure those three idiots went to air?

What will become of the crew that maintain the Stig….? And what of him…? Will he put out in front of a Vauxhall dealership waving at passing potential customers…?

Jeremy Clarkson screwed up. It is possible, even with all the political correctness and fairness in the workplace considered, that the BBC has screwed up also.

Will there be a “Top Gear” going forward? Can there be any combination of personalities that will generate the devotion and following that has made the show what it is… or was…? Have you seen American “Top Gear”?

Uh…….. Yeah…. It is like “American Idol” doing a Beatles show… It isn’t necessarily bad it just suffers from the same thing that happens whenever American TV tries to do “British” TV… Americans.

Face it, “The Office” was unwatchable if you had ever seen the British original…

Can the BBC ride this out with millions of outraged fans instead of dealing with one “Jeremy C;arkson”?

How hard can it be…?


The first race of the season… OK – In reality it was the second race but does the ROLEX 24 really count?

Sure, team points and such come into play but the ROLEX 24 is such a hooplah of drivers mixed in from other series and it throws a wrench into the works for the Grand-Am regulars who open their seats for these interlopers. After all, Juan Pablo Montoya was in the seat of the Ganassi 01 Telmex BMW when it crossed for the win. The rest of the season is on the shoulders of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas while Montoya chases the NASCAR circuit.

So – The Circuit of the Americas was the first race of 2013 that put all the season regulars on the track without distraction of visitors. It was also a big run for Grand-Am as the course in Texas is brand new with barely a scrape following the Formula 1 Grand Opening in 2012. (more…)

The opinions and thoughts on Facebook and other sites concerning the American debut of the USA version of the popular British automotive show “TOP GEAR” were rather harsh but reflected the enthusiasm car folk often display when it comes to their cars.

“I’ll watch it – Give it a chance…” to “No way – Can’t touch the original…”

So… How was it? I watched it. Despite my love of the British original I sat down at the TV and flicked on the History Channel at 10:00PM Sunday night and tried to pry open the mind to what I suspected would be a distilled version of the original. I was, as much as the pre-show opinions reflected, as much entertained as disappointed. (more…)