Monday, May 30, 2011


What alien has taken over Danica Patrick’s body?
Her interview following her tenth-place finish in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 revealed a much different person from the one I have seen in the past.
In the past Danica has whined about other drivers getting in her way and her team’s inability to adjust her car to her liking. If anything went wrong, it was never her fault.
Sometimes it wasn’t, of course, but there is much more of a team aspect to racing than may be apparent to the average person. If a car isn’t getting set up the way it should be, maybe it’s because she isn’t giving her crew the correct information.
Even if that isn’t the case, it’s never good form to throw your crew under the bus. (My apologies for the cliche; I usually try to avoid them like the plague.)
But Danica, who had to give up the lead late because of fuel considerations, didn’t do that this time. No whining about people getting in her way or cutting her off. No complaints about her car’s handling.
She backed the team’s decisions on late-race strategy, and she didn’t second-guess anything her crew did throughout the entire month, even with the drama that accompanied her qualifying effort the week before.
She even had kind words for winner Dan Wheldon, with whom she has had run-ins in the past.
“Dan Wheldon -- he’s a great winner,” she said in the interview on ABC. “And what a great story. He hasn’t run this year and to come here with Bryan Herta, only in his second Indy 500, and to win. That’s really cool. He’s a great winner.”
Not only that, Danica did the entire segment without uttering a single “you know.”
She is either maturing or getting great counseling from her PR folks. Maybe both.
Either way it’s a great improvement.
Of course, we are still going to be given large doses of Danica media coverage in the future, and that will continue to be tiring. But it’s not her fault TV cameras and reporters’ recorders are thrust in her face. That is the decision of others.
I’m just glad her behavior is starting to live up to her image.

Friday, May 27, 2011


If you like to read about cars and are familiar with bylines, you may recognize the name William Jeanes.
Jeanes has been writing about automotive issues and news since 1972, when his first article appeared in Automotive News, and he has written for Car and Driver and other publications and Internet outlets ever since.
He also was the first editor-in-chief of AMI Auto World, the publication that got me started in the business a decade ago, though I came aboard after he had given up whipping what later proved to be a dead horse.
Not that that has anything to with much.
Jeanes recently wrote a piece that appeared in the website in which he announced that at age 73, he was turning to other pursuits. I won’t get into all of his reasons here -- in the piece he said he liked to writer longer articles than is usually allowed these days, and this piece is evidence of that -- but will mention a couple.
Here is what he wrote that caught my attention:
For years I’ve been convinced that cars have become too good to support meaningful criticism. Hybrids and electrics have provided some diversion, of course, just as they did in the early 1900s, but that does not change my conviction that the industry has improved and refined itself to the point of dullness. I and my peers have been reduced to the undignified picking of nits.
I agree wholeheartedly with his first point about improvement in the industry. I have seen that myself even in the short time I have been writing reviews. You won't find the kind of junk you used to see in some showrooms even as recently as the late 1990s.
Yugo is gone, and so is Daewoo. Hyundai and Kia, once on the verge of going out of business in the U.S., now put out quality and high-end products that often match the best in the business.
Domestic manufacturers, particularly GM and Chrysler, have upgraded the interiors of their models from the cheap plastic-filled cabins they once tried to foist off on the public. (Ford never really had the problem.)
Yes, you can still run across lemons, but overall I most assuredly agree with Jeanes' point about improvement in the industry.
But I do think that reviewers are left with more to do than simply nitpick.
For one thing, one man’s nit may be another’s deal breaker. I think it’s up to reviewers to point out things he likes and/or dislikes about a particular model, not so much to discourage someone from buying it but at least to provide the information that this may be something a car shopper may want to look into before deciding himself.
For instance, the size of a navigation screen display is important to me. Map details should be readily seen, and a screen anything less than seven inches in diameter kind of defeats that purpose -- for me. If a five-inch screen is OK by you, fine. But at least you know about going in.
Take the Nissan Rogue I happened to be driving at the time Jeanes’  blog appeared.
Certainly, it is an example of improvement in the industry, especially in a segment (compact CUV or SUV, depending on how strict you want to be in nomenclature) that has shown marked improvement in particular over the last decade-plus.
The Crossover Utility Vehicle (i.e., an SUV-like vehicle built on a sedan platform instead of having truck underpinnings) once was pretty much a novelty and one that wasn’t too safe at that. Now, however, the CU is a legitimate alternative for someone looking for a vehicle that has more flexible hauling capability than a sedan but also is fun to drive.
Pricing in the segment usually starts in the upper teens and runs into the mid-20s. The Rogue starts at just over $21,000 for “S” trim to just under $24,000 for “SV” and just under $24,500 for the S Krome Edition.
So the Rogue fits comfortably in the segment on those counts. This is not a vehicle someone in construction would want, but it certainly is capable of handling the weekly grocery trip and runs to Home Depot or Lowe’s for the handyman’s needs.
It’s fun to drive, too. Perhaps my opinion was influenced by the fact I had ben driving a Chevy Tahod the week before, which is like handling a battleship to the Rogue’s destroyer, but even with just a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine, the Rogue is a sprightly performer.
In fact, you’d never know you were driving a crossover if there wasn’t that big open space behind the backseat.
So, what nit would I pick?
That 4-banger (rated at 170 horsepower, 175 pound-feet of torque, and 22 mpg city/28 highway with front-wheel drive and 22/26  with all-wheel propulsion) is mated to a continuously variable transmission, and that is the only gearbox offered.
Rather than a tranny with a fixed number of gear ratios, the CVT is constantly adjusting the gear ratios depending on your speed, acceleration, etc. There is no shift from first to second, second to third and on up because there are no first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth gears period.
And I miss that.
Every once in a while, I like to stay in say third or fourth gear on a hill or curve or merging on an expressway so I can have the little extra oomph you can get when from the higher revs a lower gear can provide. I like to use the gearbox to get to engine braking as well.
You don’t get that from a CVT. Oh, some models with CVTs have artificial shift points that provide a similar experience, but this one didn’t.
To me, that is a deal breaker with the Rogue, because there are other choices out there in the segment that offer similar assets. But that it is a nit with you (and you’re shopping for a small CUV), the Rogue should be on your list.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


You know what’s wrong with sports journalism today?
Actually, there are many things, but I’m going to limit myself to just one here.
Few are willing to admit they were wrong.
Take an interview I heard on the radio this morning. Ric Bucher, an NBA reporter, said he “loved” what Derrick Rose had done at the end of the Chicago Bulls’ loss to the Miami Heat in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference final playoff series.
In case you missed it, no, Rose did not make the winning basket or make a key pass to a teammate for the winning shot or even make a defensive play that kept the Heat from a win.
No, what Rose did was miss a couple of late shots, one of which could have provided the winning points for the Bulls and one that definitely would have won it for Chicago in regulation, and then make a big turnover that helped the Heat pull away to the overtime win.
And Bucher thinks those plays prove Rose is not only the MVP of the NBA but also the league’s best player. The reason, Bucher said, is that Rose didn’t back down from the challenge he faced and the load he has to carry of being by far his team’s best player.
OK, I’ll grant him that. Rose didn’t back down. But if you’re an MVP, aren’t you supposed to do a little more than just that? Don’t you have to make the key play every once in a while, not just try to?
In a later interview on a Miami radio station, Bucher went even further. Asked who was better, Rose or Miami’s LeBron James, who happened to be the Heat player who shut down Rose with his defense over the last 17 minutes or so, Bucher went with, yes, Rose.
So given a second chance to explain himself and perhaps temper his statement at least a bit, Bucher instead doubled down on the inanity of it. (Interestingly, less than a hour before that, Rick Barry, rated one of the NBA’s top 50 all-time greats, had told the same local radio host that he would put Rose among the top 10 current players but definitely not at No. 1.)
I guess it doesn’t come as a surprise when I tell you that Bucher works for ESPN. The network seems to love to fill its studio with people who will make outlandish comments just to get the attention.
Frankly, that seems to be the way a lot of newspaper columnists get ahead these days, too. Making stupid claims or saying something outlandish is what gets them ahead these days. I’ve worked for editors who followed that philosophy.
When you say these things, you must do so with conviction and at the top of your voice. There’s no room after that, though, for acknowledging that maybe, just maybe, you may have been wrong, even when the evidence is right in your face.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


So we’re not going to have a Triple Crown winner this year -- again.
Shackleford took care of that by holding on to beat Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom in Saturday’s running of the Preakness.
Not since Affirmed won the Derby, Preakness, and 
Belmont Stakes in 1978 has one colt managed to win the
Crown, the longest such dry spell since Sir Barton became the first Triple Crown winner in 1919.
It got me wondering about something.
With the care and attention giving the breeding process for thoroughbreds with sires carefully chosen to be mated with equally carefully selected mares, why can’t they come up with a super horse capable of winning all three races?
Either the breeders and owners aren’t doing their jobs very well -- hence no super horse like Secretariat has emerged -- or they are doing it too well. The progeny being spawned are so evenly matched no one horse is capable of dominating the others.
Or maybe we’re just in an era of specialization where thoroughbreds are bred for distance or for speed and not both. The former doesn’t have the early speed, the latter doesn’t have the endurance for the grueling mile-and-a-half of the Belmont.
I think there is another factor in the long drought of Triple Crown winners.
That is, the same horses don’t run in all three races. It isn’t the case this year, since Animal Kingdom saw his bid fail in the Preakness, but more often than not the race that foils a horse’s Triple Crown bid is the Belmont.
Since Affirmed’s Triple Crown 33 years ago, 11 colts have gone into the Belmont after logging wins in the Derby and Preakness and come up short. The last five times it happened the Belmont winner hadn’t run in the Preakness three weeks earlier.
Of the seven other horses that have won at least two legs of the Triple Crown, only two have lost in the Preakness after winning the Derby. Five others have bounced back from losses in the Derby to win the Preakness and Belmont.
It will be interesting to see if either Animal Kingdom or Shackleford winds up in the corresponding group.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Forbes recently published a list of the “most influential athletes,” basing it on a survey conducted by some outfit called E-Poll Market Research along with Nielsen Media Research.
The two companies polled more than 1,000 adults, asking them what athletes they considered most influential and also considering their likability and awareness levels. They then filtered the list to include only those athletes known to at least 20 percent of the respondents.
Here were the results:
1. Jimmy Johnson
2. Tom Brady
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Shaquille O’Neal
5. Michael Phelps
6. Troy Polamalu
7. Peyton Manning
8. Jeff Gordon
9. LeBron James
10. Tim Tebow
Some observations:
-- You’ll note three race car drivers -- Johnson, Earnhard, Gordon -- all NASCAR stars. Endorsements play a part in making this list, and race car drivers, especially those in NASCAR, have some built-in advantages. Their sponsor agreements often get them into many advertisements for products, and their cars and uniforms are rolling billboards. Many of their endorsements are for auto-related products, and they have some added credibility there. Even someone like Martin Truex, known among NASCAR fans but not so much the general public -- has a national TV ad for NAPA Auto Parts.
-- Tim Tebow? Where do these 1,000 adults live, Gainesville, Fla.?
-- No Tiger Woods. No golfer at all, in fact. I would have thought Phil Mickelson would have been in the Top 10.
-- No baseball players either.
I was getting ready to jump on this last one. In fact, it was the first thing I noticed. How could any list of influential athletes not include at least one player from our “National Pastime”?
But then I did a little thinking, and, frankly, I really couldn’t come up with a good rant over the omission. About the only players I could make a case for are Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, both Yankees, of course, and pretty well known to even non-baseball fans.
Well, at least Jeter.
Go around the league and who else do you come up with?
Nobody stands out for the Red Sox the way Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Rico Petrocelli, and Roger Clemens once did. Nobody on the Mets either.
The Phillies have some great pitchers (Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt) along with Ryan Howard, but I don’t think they should make the list either.
Evan Longoria is a possibility. But he labors for the Tampa Bay Rays. That’s almost like being an offensive lineman in the NFL.
Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins probably should get some consideration because of the commercial he does for Sony’s Playstation. But the theme of the ad -- actor Jerry Lambert’s character refers to him as a guy with no talent whatsoever -- pretty much says it all.
Other potential stars, like Chipper Jones in Atlanta, Albert Pujols in St. Louis and Josh Hamilton in Texas -- have more regional appeal than national status.
When it comes to players on the West Coast, unless you’re a Dodger you might as well be playing on the moon. People in the FBI’s witness protection program are better known than someone playing for the Seattle Mariners.
It could be we just are in a brief lull when it comes to “national” baseball stars and next year’s results may be completely different. I can’t see Shaquille O’Neal sticking around the list -- or the NBA -- much longer.
I don’t know how much more shampoo Troy Polamalu can sell either, so he could drop as well.
The longer Tim Tebow rides the bench in Denver the less “influence” he is going to have, though he does rate high in the character category.
That could open up a few spots for a baseball player to move in. Not sure who it would be at this point, but if somebody has a big postseason, endorsements usually follow, and that brings recognition.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has just announced the results of voting to determine “The Greatest 33,” that is, the top 33 drivers in Indianapolis 500 history.
My reaction?
Are you kidding me?
Given that any process that involves fan voting is going to have serious flaws and result in some unbelievable oversights, I have to think that a lot of people who voted in this process aren’t aware there even was a race before, say, 1970.
That’s the only way to explain drivers like Danny Sullivan, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Scott Dixon getting in and people like Jimmy Bryan, Sam Hanks, and Pete DePaolo being left out.
Now before I go further, I acknowledge that any list of so-called all-time greats in any sport is going to be subject to criticism and include controversial choices. But really. Couldn’t people have done some research before voting?
I wasn’t aware this was being done, but from what I gather a panel of media and racing experts came up with a list of the Top 100 drivers. Fan voting winnowed the field to 33, matching the number of starters for the race itself. The fan vote totals determining a “starting order.”
The problem begins with the list of 100.
Danica Patrick was among the nominees. Okay, she has three top six finishes in six races, so I guess you could make a case for her, though there are many others with records to match.
But how in the hell does Janet Guthrie (three races, one top 10 finish in the 1970s) make it as one of the Top 100 Indy drivers of all-time? A pioneer, most certainly, as the first woman to make the starting field, but out of the 732 drivers who have turned a lap at Indy she ranks among the top 100?
I don’t think so.
And in case you think I’m being sexist, here’s another big question mark in the Top 100.
Marco Andretti.
Yes, the “expert” panel put Marco Andretti up in among the top 14 percent of all-time Indy 500 drivers.
Mario, yes. Michael, OK. But Marco?
At least the fans didn’t make him one of the Top 33. But they did get in Michael, whose greatest distinction is that he has led the most laps at Indy (431) without actually winning, which, you  know, is kind of important.
Now we come to the Top 33.
How did Dan Gurney make the cut?
Gurney was an excellent racer in his day and an innovator in car design. He finished well -- two seconds and a third -- in the last three of the nine Indy 500s he drove in, but he never won. I have a feeling those who voted for him were looking at his overall career, not his time at Indy. He led a total of two laps at the Speedway.
As for non-winners who didn’t make the Top 33, how could the voters overlook Ted Horn (10 races, 9 top six finishes) and Rex Mays (12 races, 7 front-row starts, 266 laps led, and three top six finishes)?
Well, the answer to that is that Horn and Mays raced in the 1930s and ’40s, which means that a significant portion of their prime years was eliminated when the Speedway sat idle during World War II.
Fans also passed on former winners Bill Holland and Johnny Parsons but voted in Tony Bettenhausen, a popular and talented driver but a non-winner and contemporary who lost his life doing a favor for a friend in 500 practice in 1961.
Compare Holland (297 laps led in five races with four top six finishes) and Parsons (131 laps led in 10 races with three top six finishes) to Graham Hill, who was 28th in voting.
Hill won one of the three 500s he drove in but led a total of only 10 laps. He won because he managed to avoid a big late crash that took out just about everybody else. He was a great driver worldwide, but not wasn’t an all-time Indy great.
It’s hard to quibble with the “front row” of finalists with four-time winners A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, and Al Unser Sr. doing the honors, but Wilbur Shaw at No. 8 and Bill Vukovich at No. 9 are rated way too low.
Shaw won three 500s over a four-race span from 1937-1940 and likely would have had a fourth in five years before the war had it not been for a fire in the garage area before the 1941 race.
Water from fire hoses washed away chalk markings from a flawed tire that wasn’t to be used in the race, but as luck would have it, that tire got put on his car and when it inevitably blew, he crashed while leading.
Shaw never raced again but played a vital part in the revival of the Speedway after the war and if you want to read a great book about auto racing back in the day, get a copy of his autobiography, Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.
And Vukovich? Vukovich not only could have been the first four-time 500 winner, he should have won four in a row! In 1952, he dominated the race, leading 150 laps before a cheap part in his steering broke and sent him into the wall with a huge advantage over his closest pursuer.
He won the 1953 and ’54 races and looked to be on his way to the ’55 win as well when he got caught up in a crash in the backstretch. His car flipped and he died in the resulting fire.
Shaw and Vuky definitely belong up there in the “second row” ahead of Bobby Unser, Helio Castroneves, and Johnny
I have some other favorites as well who were in the Top 100 but didn’t make the list of 33, but I can understand how voters might not favor drivers like Jim Hurtubise, Pat Flaherty, and Jack McGrath. Johnny Thompson was another one I rooted for back in the ’50s.
But as for the others like Montoya, Sullivan, Hill, and Gurney? Sorry, but they simply shouldn’t be in that starting field of all-time greats.
On a closing note, you can find more info on “The Greatest 33” at or

Saturday, May 14, 2011


The Miami Heat has reached the Eastern Conference finals of the NBA playoffs, and I’m sure that if you live outside of South Florida, you are probably rooting for the Chicago Bulls.
Because of what LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh did last summer, which essentially was to coordinate their contract signings so they all wound up with the same team, the Heat has become the team everybody else loves to hate.
I can understand the city of Cleveland’s anger with LeBron, whose departure left the Cavaliers in a shambles, but why the rest of the country has its knickers in such a wad over this is somewhat of a mystery.
It’s not like they are the first stars in a professional sport to forsake one team for another because it enhanced their chances of winning.
Sometimes the players jump directly to another team. Other times they force their current team to trade them. I hardly see the difference.
I suspect some, if not most or even all, of the animosity expressed toward the Heat overall and James in particular has to do with the way James, who was a free agent, announced his decision.
He went on ESPN last summer for a one-hour special (I think it was an hour long) to do it. The whole show was a bit over the top -- no, make that a lot over the top -- and even he said he was sorry for it the other night after the Heat beat the Celtics for win their second-round series.
The response to that apology, by the way, was predictable. A poll conducted on the Cleveland Plain Dealer website showed more than 80 percent opting for “no” when asked if they accepted it. Even by non-scientific standards, that’s a pretty big margin.
Nothing I’m going to say here is going to change that perception.
There is one thing I would like to comment, however, something that kind of bugs me.
When James said he was leaving Cleveland to sign with the Heat, he said he was taking “his talents to South Beach.”
My immediate reaction: Damn. The Heat is going to have a helluva time winning then because the arena is on the other side of the bay.
The South Beach area is at the south end (where else?) of Miami Beach. AmericanAirlines Arena is near downtown Miami on the mainland.
I realize this is a distance of only three or four miles as the crow flies (a little longer by car, and hardly any of us takes a crow these days), but if he had signed with the Knicks, would he have said he was taking his talents to Times Square?
I think not.
This “South Beach” theme has even carried over into television coverage of the playoffs. I heard one announcer say we would return to South Beach after these announcements.
Most aerial shots at sporting events show the arena or stadiium and the surrounding area, but at least one the other night showed South Beach.
Well, sort of. It was shot with the bayside, where there isn’t any beach at all, in the foreground. First-time viewers must have wondered what the fuss was all about because the glamourous side of South Beach is oceanside.
You won’t hear much about South Beach during the first two games of Heat-Bulls because they will be played in Chicago. I suspect next Sunday (June 22) when the series comes to Miami you’ll hear South Beach mentioned quite often.
Maybe there will be a couple of camera shots as well.
Unfortunately, the game will tip off at 8 p.m. so it will be dark. You may catch items from the club scene, but you won’t be able to see all the “charms” South Beach has to offer after the sun goes down.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Enlarge to check out bugs!

Just got back from a weekend trek to the north (pretty much everywhere is “to the north” from where I live in South Florida) and have a travel alert for those of you who are looking at a motor trip down this way.

It is bug season in Florida.
By the time I had completed the stretch on Florida’s Turnpike from Fort Pierce near the coast to Orlando in the middle of the state I could barely see through my windshield, so covered was it from the bug splatter.
The front grille (see picture) also was covered. I couldn’t wait to get to one of those do-it-yourself car washes to clean it off. It actually stunk from all the residue.
Of course, I had to go through the same procedure when I got back home. Orkin should be as efficient in sending bugs to their doom as I was this past weekend.
The purpose of the trip was to bring back some of my son’s personal belongings. There wasn’t enough to justify renting a trailer or even a small van, but there was too much for my wagon or a sedan.
The 2011 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid proved to be just right for the job. Everything fit fine.
With time out for sleeping, I pretty much spent the majority of three consecutive days driving and living in the Tahoe, so I got a pretty good feel for its accommodations.
The biggest plus is the upscale interior with its comfortable leather seats. It has more the feel of a luxury SUV from Cadillac than the truck from Chevy it is. It is a great highway cruiser and easily maneuverable in tighter quarters despite its overall size.
But the bugs on the grille and windshield weren’t the only ones I encountered.
Let’s start with the third-row seats. I had to remove them, of course, and unlatching them was simple enough. But they weigh a ton and are extremely bulky. It’s not all that easy to get them out of the vehicle. Suffice to say if they were airline baggage, you’d be paying as much for them as you would your ticket.
I also wanted to fold the second-row bench seats (bucket seats also are available for the second row), and again, folding them is a simple operation. Simply lift up on the latch at the side and the backs fold forward. When folded, they are flat, but are not level with the floor in the back, so you lose some stowage space.
Second row seats folded only.
The second-row seats also tumble forward easy enough to provide more flat floor space, but if there is a way to secure them after that, I couldn’t find it. The result is that unless there is cargo smack up against the back of them to keep them in place, the second-row seats rock back and forth and bang against the backs of the front seats depending on the motion of the vehicle. They can deliver quite a jolt.
Second row seats folded and tumbled forward.
My other major complaint was with the navigation system. Starting off, the screen (about 3 X 5 3/4) is too small. That figures out to roughly 6 inches diagonally. I suggest 7 as a minimum. I may not have the sharpest eyes, but my vision isn’t all that bad either.
Second row tumbled forward.
The bigger problem was that after typing in a destination, the screen split, giving me a map on one half and some information I really didn’t care about on the other. Possibly I would have cared about that information, but trying to read it while you are at highway speed isn’t all that easy. Again, if there is a way to get rid of that half of the screen, I couldn’t find it. Simply pressing “FULL MAP” on the touch screen didn’t do it.
Next, the voice commands really didn’t give me a heads-up as early as I would have liked when a turn was was coming up. Had there been more traffic on the expressway, say during rush hour, I may have had more of a problem getting from the left lane to the right in the less than a mile-and-a-half warning that I was given. It also didn’t give me street names for my turns, just that they lay a half-mile away.

Finally, when I arrived at my destination, I found I wasn’t actually at my destination but on the other side of the main road. I was told later that this a problem that others have had with their GPS systems for this particular address, so can’t put the blame on Chevy for that.
Those peccadilloes aside, I did enjoy my time in the Tahoe.
Third Row seats folded.

As noted earlier, it’s a great interstate cruiser, and the hybrid power train delivered a enough oomph that I was never in danger of being a highway laggard. Combined, the 6.0-liter V8 engine and pair of 60 kilowatt electric motors deliver 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque to either the rear or all four wheels (depending on what setting you have selected) to move its 5,629 pounds.
For just over 2,100 miles of driving, I averaged just over 20 miles per gallon of fuel consumed, which brings up a point. Is the hybrid setup really worth it?
According to company figures, the 5.3-liter V8 in the standard Tahoe is rated at 15 mpg city, 21 highway. The hybrid is rated at 20/23, which means you could do better than my figures (I pretty much kept the tach steady at 2,000 rpm) but probably not by a whole lot.
If the difference is mileage is not that significant, the difference in price is. The base LS Tahoe starts at under $38,000 and runs up to a starting point of $51,465 for the top-of-the-line LTZ. The price tag on the Tahoe Hybrid I had was $56,430 including a $2,390 option package and $950 destination and delivery.
You get a bit more horsepower with the hybrid and more torque, but not all that much. The one thing you do get from the Hybrid that you don’t with with the standard Tahoe is brownie points from the Green crowd. If they are worth it to you, then go ahead and write the bigger check.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A $60,000 HYUNDAI? YEP!

A little more than a decade ago Hyundai was nearly out of business in the United States, its lineup of cheap entry-level cars scorned for their shoddy quality.
Now the South Korean company is putting out a $60,000 sedan that is worth every penny.
Read about the new Equus at You’ll also find some other interesting reviews and news on the website, which is sponsored by the Southern Automotive Media Association based in Miami, Florida.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


You have probably heard it said there is no such thing as a dumb question.
But that is not true.
Even people whose business it is to ask questions often let out a real clunker or two. Here are just a couple of examples.
From time to time a good friend of mine who happens to be a University of Kentucky basketball fan sends me links to articles about the Wildcats he comes across seeking my comment. He knows that I covered the ’Cats for a couple of years during my stay with the Courier-Journal in Louisville back in the 1970s.
One of his recent submissions was an account of the Derby Classic All-Star basketball game that featured a high school prospect who had signed a letter-of-intent to play for UK rival Louisville.
In the story, the writer noted that the all-star game gave the reporters the opportunity to ask the Louisville signee if he wanted to beat Kentucky next season. Turns out, to no one’s surprise, he did.
Now in the writer’s defense, I know that some times a reporter has to ask an obvious question on occasion to get the right quote from the person being interviewed. The constant “how do you feel?” following a big win or loss can wear you out.
Frankly, though, in this case I don’t see what possible point the questioner was trying to make. Did he really expect a prospective Louisville player to say he didn’t want to beat Kentucky? If a player admitted something like that, I would say that coach Rick Pitino would have yanked the kid’s scholarship and been justified in doing so.
So this ranks pretty high on any list of dumb questions from reporters.
But I wouldn’t put it No. 1 because it’s possible that the question wasn’t actually asked the way the writer wrote it in his account. Maybe the question went more along the lines of did playing in the game in Louisville give him a feel for the rivalry and make him want to beat Kentucky even more, or something similar to that. Lame, yes, but not high on the “dumb” list.
I’d have to say the dumbest question a sports writer ever asked in an interview was posed by a friend of mine who was working in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, some years back. At that time, the Hattiesburg Country Club held an “unofficial” PGA Tour event the same weekend of the Masters.
For those golfers who didn’t qualify for an invitation to the Masters, the Magnolia Class offered eager up-and-comers the opportunity to gain more experience and veterans on the downside of their careers the chance for an easier pay day in the somewhat limited field.
For example, Payne Stewart, who would later add PGA and U.S. Open championships to his record before his death in a plane crash in 1999, got his first win there in 1982. He was an up-and-comer.
Another year, Orville Moody was in the field. Moody, who had won the 1969 U.S. Open, was in the other group, definitely on the down side of his career by then by the time of his appearance.
Still, my friend (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) figured correctly that Moody would be a good subject for a story for the local Hattiesburg readers. 
Naturally, Moody’s 1969 Open win came up during his interview.
That’s when, during a lull in the conversation, my friend popped the question:
“Was that your biggest win?”
You have to understand one thing. Not only was this Moody’s only major title in his golfing career, which began after he spent 14 years in the Army, it was his only victory period on the PGA Tour. He finished second five other times and won some tournaments in Asia, but that U.S. Open was his only win on the regular Tour.
So, yeah, it was his biggest win all right!
I don’t remember what my friend said Moody’s answer was (“Hell, yes” would be my guess), but my friend said he couldn’t believe what he had just asked and immediately looked for a hole to crawl into.
So, yeah, there are such things as dumb questions.
As a footnote, Moody did have some success after joining the Seniors Tour after he turned 50, winning 11 events that included the U.S. Seniors Open. He died in August 2008 at the age of 74.