Eighty-nine days and counting

Until Daytona. No, not the Cup race. I hate the COT, now the full-time, boring ride that makes the Cup chase an IROC race. At least IROC pitted champions from all kinds of racing against each other, which made for some excitement. Me, I'll be going truck racin'. Yep, the series where the Old Dogs like Skinner, Sprague, and Hornaday drive like demons, and the youngsters like Chad McCumbee try to figure it all out. NASCAR Cup has become the vanilla pudding of racing for me. I'll keep my season tickets for a while longer, but only because it's fun to meet the fans in the parking lot where we all tailgate and chat, swapping hamburgers and favorite race stories. I have a feeling the COT edict is driving out the nuts-and-bolts men like Robert Yates and Ray Evernham. Creativity isn't allowed, and technical edges are squelched by NASCAR faster than you can say "suspension." It's sad. Money men will run the teams and bring in drivers based on demographics and marketing (can we all say Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Carpentier, oh, and Juan Montoya...), not guts and sheer talent. Where's Danny O'Quinn, Busch series Rookie of the Year in 2006? Todd Kleuver, former protege of Mark Martin? Only Joey Lagano is getting a free pass, and that's because he's so talented, the Powers that Be can't ignore the kid. Plus, he already has a lucrative marketing deal in place.

Sounds a little like the publishing business, doesn't it? Marketing can make or break an author so fast it isn't funny. Thousands of books pour into the box stores, and how many get that fancy, eye-catching set-up as you walk in the front door? Sure, I know publishers pay for that square footage, but who gets to be the chosen one? No matter how great your book, if you don't have marketing behind you, bonne chance. It's the same in racing - your sponsor's money puts you in the best equipment, if you have a good one like Budweiser writing the checks. The #4 car has State Water Heaters on its hood. I can only imagine the disparity in dollars. It's the same with a book that hits the market. Remember that the next time you pick up the first book that catches your eyes as you enter the bookstore. Marketing money paid to put it there. Take time to head for the back racks where everything is spine-out, and check out a few of them. I think you'll be surprised at how wonderful those non-supported books are.

The munchkins are home for the holiday, buried in homework and theses, which keep them glued to their laptops writing. Wish I could say the same. I need to finish The Golden Oars with my buddy, Kat Jorgensen, before the end of the year, our self-imposed deadline.