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Sports Then and Now



A Look At Some Of the Weirdest Races in History 1

Posted on February 15, 2016 by Scott Huntington

Racing is a pastime shared around the world, although the form it takes may differ depending on where you are. From NASCAR to rally cars, from cross-country to the 100 meter dash, we’ve found a huge variety of ways to race. Of course, some races are stranger than others.

Robot Camel Racing

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Camel racing in the Arabian Peninsula is akin to horse racing in Europe. It’s a tradition that goes back hundreds of years, and it’s fiercely competitive. The United Arab Emirates in particular has a strong camel racing community, but in recent years the tradition has undergone a transformation. In the 80s and 90s, it was common to train children as jockeys due to their lighter weight. However, camel racing is a dangerous sport, and injuries were common. That’s where the robots come in. Read the rest of this entry →

The Difference Between Race Cars and Street Cars 3

Posted on January 13, 2016 by Scott Huntington

Stock car racing got its name from the early days of the sport, when racecars were strictly stock cars from the factory that had a few performance and safety tweaks. The stock cars we watch today have come a long way from their ancestors, constantly improving and resetting the standards of racing.

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How do today’s stock cars differ from what you can buy from the factory? There are several major differences:

The Engine

For comparison, we’ll use a NASCAR engine. NASCAR engine blocks are custom-made, not modified from the original engine block. They do, however, share some similarities with the original. They have the same number of cylinders, the same base displacement and the same cylinder bore centerlines. Where NASCAR engines stand in stark contrast to regular engines is in the power – they’re consistently modified so they can produce the maximum.

One main difference comes in the NASCAR engine’s cam profile. It’s designed to keep the intake valves open longer, which means more air can be packed into the cylinders. More air and fuel is let in through the use of carburetors, unlike street cars, which mostly use fuel injection. Read the rest of this entry →

Get Into Racing With These 5 Affordable Cars 10

Posted on September 08, 2015 by Scott Huntington

You may be the biggest racing fan on the planet, and you want to try your hand at the circuit. What it all comes down to, though, is money. You can’t run with the big guns until you get a car and dedicate it to racing.

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With all these souped-up racecars around, you may think it costs a fortune to get a car up and running for racing. This simply isn’t true. You can start with any basic, affordable sporty car – even a factory one, right off the assembly line. The point is, racers add to their cars as they go.

How do you think great racers started in the first place? That race-ready Volkswagen Jetta didn’t just fall into their hands – they worked hard to get it there. You can, too; but you’ll need to pick a set of wheels first. Here are some cheap and reliable suggestions:

Volkswagen Golf GTI

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If you’re looking for the perfect starter, look no further than the Golf. Hailed by racers for a little more than a decade, this is a modder’s dream car. It’s a hot little hatch with some screaming power – 210 horsepower and a 2.0 liter turbocharged engine.

While the car’s acceleration is a tad slow at 8.5 seconds, it makes up for it with its unrivaled agility. Read the rest of this entry →

A Brief History of the Pocono Raceway 8

Posted on August 07, 2014 by Scott Huntington

For NASCAR fans, summertime means it’s time to load up some camping gear and head to the Poconos. The home of a pair of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races held in June and August—the Pocono 400 and the GoBowling.com 400 respectively—the Pocono Raceway is one the most storied tracks in NASCAR history. Also home to the Pocono Indycar 500 and used by Sports Car Club of America along with motorcycle clubs and driving schools, the track gets a lot of use throughout the year.

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The track is famous for its shape. Often described as a tri-oval, the track is actually closer to a triangle than an oval. It is unique in that its three turns are all different and modeled after turns from other tracks. Turn One has 14 degree banking and was based on the turns at the old Trenton Speedway. Turn Two, which has 9 degree banking and is also known as “The Tunnel Turn,” is similar to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while the 6 degree banking of turn 3 is based on The Milwaukee Mile.

But though NASCAR wouldn’t be the same without it today, there was a time when the Pocono Raceway nearly closed down for good. The raceway held its first race in 1968 on the three-quarter mile track. Three years later, the first 500 mile Indy race came to the Poconos on the two and a half mile rack and the first 500 mile NASCAR race at Pocono Raceway was held in 1974. But just as Pocono Raceway was getting its NASCAR start, the owners of the track, the Mattioli family were having some financial problems. Read the rest of this entry →

The Early Years of the Melbourne Cup 18

Posted on July 14, 2011 by Rod Crowley

Although now known universally as “the race that stops the nation” the very first Melbourne Cup was raced at Flemington Park in November 1861 and was an absolute spectacle which saw one horse bolt before the start and three fall during the two mile race, two of which had to be put down. That first race was eventually won by a horse from Melbourne’s rival city of Sydney named Archer an unfancied outsider. He had allegedly walked from Sydney to contest the race but whether he had or hadn’t became academic as he romped home by six lengths from the Victorian bred favourite and champion Mormon. That win by an ‘outsider’ fuelled the interstate rivalry that helped to develop the popularity that the race still holds to this day in Australia. The win earned Archer’s connections the equivalent to $1,000 AU.

Somewhat amazingly, the New South Wales bred Archer was entered into the Melbourne Plate the following day and won that two mile event too taking back to Sydney another good sized purse.

Mormon returned to Flemington 12 months later, this time with an eight length success a winning distance that has never been bettered since. The unfortunate Mormon had to content himself once again by finishing in second place. Archer’s entry was the reason why the crowd had doubled in size that year with plenty of home supporters hoping to see him beaten but wasn’t to be the case and the result consigned his name into Melbourne Cup folklore.

Unfortunately, that was to be Archer’s last run in the increasingly popular race. It had been hoped that he would turn up in 1863 but due to the fact that his entry for the race arrived during a Victoria State Public Holiday he was never entered and despite protests by his connections, he was subsequently scratched.

The withdrawal of Archer caused much consternation for both Victorians and those from New South Wales and in a show of support for Archer’s trainer, Etienne de Mestre, plenty of owners withdrew their entries from the race, leaving just a field of seven runners. It would have been a minor miracle however if Archer had won the race for a third time as he would have been carrying 11st 4Ib over a stone more than the next highest in the handicap.

De Mestre also became a name synonymous with the Melbourne Cup, before retiring he trained three further winners of the race, Tim Whiffler in 1867, Chester in 1877 and Calamia in 1878.

The victory by ‘Tim Whiffler’ was particularly amusing as he was one of two horses that had turned up for the race with that name. They had received the names courtesy of a verse in a poem written by Adam Lindsay Gordon in 1865 where he predicted that a horse called Tim Whiffler would win the Melbourne Cup. The stewards and the connections agreed that they both needed to have their names tweaked, so for the purpose of the race, the De Mestre entry was called “Sydney Tim Whiffler”, while the other, which was bred in Melbourne was called “Melbourne Tim Whiffler”. The crowd of course thought this was a great idea but only until the ‘Sydney’ version got up to win!

The Melbourne Cup ahs gone on from strength to strength since those early days and is now the number one horse racing in Australia attracting a crowd of over 100,000. The 2011 Melbourne Cup takes place on 1st November.

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