I went to a NASCAR auto race!

15 11 2012

The truth is, this one of the last sporting events I ever thought I would attend. But it turned out to be pretty memorable.

NASCAR isn’t just the Sprint Cup Series with all the big name drivers. It is the Nationwide Series on Saturdays and the Camping World Truck Series on Fridays. So it’s really just an entire three-day weekend of auto racing at one track from Arizona to Florida, Indianapolis to Talladega.

Millions watch races on TV. Thousands pack the tracks. I was there in Arizona on Nov. 11, it was real.

Check this video:

I expressed some concern over a perceived lack of diversity in the sport when I wrote about it for Fox Deportes. This a pretty “white” sport overall, but in fairness, Juan Pablo Montoya is the only Latino driver in Sprint Cup but there are at least six Latinos in the Nationwide and trucks.

The pit crews, the folks behind the scenes that are so vital to the cars and drivers, are also sprinkled with people of color. I even met a major player in the engineering of Chevy vehicles, who is from Puerto Rico.

Below is a collection of photos from the Advocare 500 race in Avondale, Ariz., on Nov. 11. The last race of the season is this coming weekend in Florida.

The Inception Motor Sports No. 30 car has three different drivers.

Victory Lane at the Phoenix International Speedway.

Danica Patrick’s car

Rounding a turn.

Driver Kasey Kahne introduced.

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The return of Ozomatli to Arizona

21 02 2012

The new battleground for La Raza is Tucson, where the school boarded recently voted to ban Mexican American Studies classes in the district. Since last month, titles of those classes have changed and curriculum has changed so that no ethnic studies courses can be taught.

To that end, Ozomatli, one of my favorite bands who also happen to be very politically conscientious, set feet back in Arizona after about two years of avoiding the state because of anti-immigration legislation. The band came to raise awareness and support the cause of SaveEthnicStudies.org, which was started to fight this government oppression and now has plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by 11 Tucson teachers.

As one who minored in ethnic studies in college, this is a fight close to my heart. The state superintendent has banned ethnic studies from being taught. BANNED. Seriously? So helping students of color better understand their identity is not allowed. Opponents say it promotes hatred and resentment of whites and others.

Laughable. Confusing. But I digress.

My wife and I went to the show last Saturday to show our support for the cause. And as usual, Ozomatli — I’m an Ozohead por vida having seen them perform live 7 or 8 times — brought the house down. And band member Raul Pacheco preached to the choir, so to speak, telling a sympathetic audience that this fight and these educators need our support.

Photos below.

The Rialto Theater in Tucson AZ


Stephanie and I after the show


Writers write, and I did a lot of it this week

17 09 2011

Can’t stress the title of this post enough. If writing is what you do and what you like, you do it as often as you can. So I write during a lot of whatever spare time I find when not editing or teaching.

Allow me to share with you a look back on my week of writing.

On Monday it was Arizona State football. QB Brock Osweiler is fantastic with the media. Read about his roommate on the road in this early preview of the ASU-Illinois game. 

Wednesday, my short story about Vancouver Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey appeared on Soccer by Ives. He looks exactly like former Portland Trailblazers center Joel Przybilla. Here’s what Joel looks like:

Thursday I got kind of fired up about the Dodgers-Diamondbacks, Clayton Kershaw-Gerardo Parra flap. So I took this view for SB Nation Arizona. 

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Fotos y videos

20 12 2010

The holidays are here. I’m going to get pretty busy over the next three weeks. So why not take this opportunity to go visual?

Soccer fans BTW: Hoping to be at that Portland Timbers MLS opener on April 14. Just putting it out there.

Alright, photo time. Fog in Arizona. Seriously. Thick.

Strolled over to the Tempe Marketplace today, saw a giant Xmas tree.

Check out this fight between two Mexican winter league baseball teams. This just got ugly fast, and then out of hand. Fans were throwing stuff. And a lively little musical number was playing in the background. Thanks to Jaime Cardenas, who shared this originally.

And here’s one I shot when I was in Canada last month and I went to a Maple Leafs hockey game.

Christmastime in the Valley of the Sun

14 12 2010

I’ve been here before around this time of year but never so close to Christmas. So these high-70s temperatures are a bit strange. Very nice, but different than what I’m used to.

The countdown to the three bowl games in the Phoenix area is on, and I’m hoping to attend at least two of them if not all three. I’ll keep you posted. We got the Insight, Fiesta and BCS national championship.

Went to the post office today and the line was long, but it got longer after I was already in it. And I actually did do some freelance work today.

Saw a small real Christmas tree outside a store today and wish I would have gotten a real one. I miss that pine scent I knew as a kid in Oregon. Oh well, at least I have a tree.

Almost all of my ornaments are sports-related. Charlotte Hornets (yup Charlotte), Seahawks, Super Bowl XLII, Dodgers candy canes and about four different Oregon Ducks decorations.

Speaking of the Ducks, how about those new uniforms for the BCS championship game? They’ll do. Hope they win in those. That yellow is bright but looking good counts, right? Auburn’s are just so blah.

Got one of these.

Because you know I gotta represent. If you see me in Scottsdale the week before the game I might be wearing it.

OK let’s wrap this up with a trip back in time to when music was better. For all the poppers and break dancers from back in the day – man I remember how amazed I was when I heard this music and saw backspins and all that — this one’s for you.

It’s hard to live in Phoenix

4 11 2010

This is coming from someone who was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, who lived there all his life until about nine months ago.

In the past nine months, I’ve seen the short-sighted and racist SB 1070 further divide this state. Shook my head as cities and high-profile individuals boycotted and made fun of Arizona. Wondered why in the world a person like Joe Arpaio can wield such clout and be so popular. Only here, I guess. Where I come from, he’d be put in check and would never be allowed to treat innocent human beings the way he has.

And then it got worse. On Election Day, Republicans (conservative ones at that) dominated in this state. Jan Brewer, the inarticulate, bumbling governor whose overseeing of the state budget was so bad that she had to temporarily raise the state’s sales tax, cruised to victory again. She still has a huge budget deficit to address and the legality of SB 1070 in the Circuit Court to deal with, and I can only hope she and her cronies fails miserably.

For the time being, education spending will be cut. An absolute shame. And we have a ranting lunatic leading the state senate, a man so out of touch that he wants to deny birth certificates to children born to illegal immigrants in this country. Really? Good luck in the Supreme Court with that one, pal.

This state was once a part of Mexico. Mexicans were the first non-indigenous people here, and they remain, and yet many of those in the state government want to target and persecute an entire community. Why? We’re all hard-working, family-minded people trying to make a living and survive. We are all human beings. We can all be, and already are, part of the solution and not the problem.

Sun setting over South Phx.

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Time to get the “hail” outta this storm

5 10 2010

Today in the Valley of the Sun, it felt like home.

Cloudy, cooler, rainy. A fall day in the Northwest, only in Phoenix. And then at around 4:30 p.m, the clouds got really dark over my neighborhood, darker than even Seattle clouds.

When the rain started to fall, I went in the house. Then the sound of hail stones hitting the roof of the house came, like cannon fire.
Weatherpeople on the local news are talking about not having seen a storm like this ever.
Here’s what I’m talking about:

Happy to report that other than a flooded back yard and some yard debris scattered around, the house and ourselves are OK.