Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “racecar”

Let’s Hear It for the Girls – Roger Ingalls

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard by now that Danica Patrick has won the pole for this year’s Daytona 500 stock car race. Yes, a female drove her racecar faster than all the boys in NASCAR’s premier event at its premier level of competition.  The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s equivalent to the NFL’s Super Bowl. In the automotive racing world, this is a big deal.


Danica has driven in ten Sprint Cup Series races (NASCAR’s premier series) and is considered a rookie for the 2013 season. She will also become the first woman to compete in a full season of races at NASCAR’s highest level and has already established herself as the most successful female racer in Sprint Series history. Danica is not the first woman to race at this level. In 1949, Sara Christian participated in NASCAR’s inaugural race and three women drove in the second official event (Sara Christian, Ethyl Mobley and Louise Smith). However, it would take 27 years for the first professional female racer to competitively race at NASCAR’s highest level when Janet Guthrie became the first woman to qualify and race on a superspeedway (Event: World 600). She would finish 15th.


Janet Guthrie should be considered American’s First Woman of Automotive Racing. She was the first female to qualify and compete in both the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500; the worlds biggest racing events. Janet would go on to race in 33 of NASCAR’s premier events finishing as high as sixth. She also went on to compete in eleven Indy car races including three Indianapolis 500s. Between 1955 and 1976, no women competed at racing’s highest levels until Janet Guthrie reopened the door. It wasn’t easy. During the 70s, the big boys in NASCAR did not hide their opposition to female racers. For her on track accomplishments and success maneuvering the off track barriers, Janet Guthrie is a true racing pioneer.

Should Danica Patrick win this Sunday’s Daytona 500, it would be pretty cool. Let’s give a shout out to the racing ladies: Danica, Janet Guthrie and the original gals of the late 40s and early 50s.

Hypermiling App – Roger Ingalls

Out of necessity, I’ve become a hypermiler. I am now commuting up to seventy miles a day in a 5,000 pound Ford F250 pickup truck powered by a V10 engine. In the city, I get approximately 11 miles per gallon and about 13 on the highway. It’s safe to say this vehicle is not a gas hog; it’s a fuel sucking Tyrannosaurus rex.

Hypermiling is the practice of driving using techniques that maximize fuel economy. Those using these techniques are referred to as hypermilers. It gained popularity as a result of the rise in gasoline prices during the late 2000s. A month ago I was getting about 380 miles per tank of gas but now I’m hitting close to 470 miles. As a former racecar driver, it is difficult for me to drive in a manner that conserves energy over distance; my instinct is to save time over distance. I’m learning that it takes a lot of awareness and concentration to optimize fuel efficiency.

With all the computers now in our vehicles and in the smart phones we carry, where is the app that can help me hypermile? These devices have GPS and accelerometers so they should be able to coach us with voices commands and advice. Examples: 1) “Given the speed limit on this road, you are accelerating too fast, back off the gas pedal, 2) “The next traffic light will turn red in 5 seconds, left off the gas pedal and coast”, or 3) “the next two traffic lights will stay green for 45 seconds, increase speed to 5 miles per hour over the limit to avoid breaking for a red light”.

All the technology exists to help us save millions of gallons of fuel per day across the country. We just need to apply it in a smart way.

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