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Conrod, Straight: Issue 5

5/1/2006 9:19 (Michael Shaw) - In wondering what to write in this issue of Conrod, Straight, it was pondered whether now is a good time to switch to fortnightly issues for the off-season Ė after all the information pool is definitely drying up. And now the holidays have been and gone Iím sure that you all are in need of some ideas on how not to go crazy while we await the start of season 2006.

With Dick Johnson and Larry Perkins both having already announced their new sponsors for next season and most of drives already settled, everything has finally settled down into that long wait until the cars hit the streets of Adelaide in March.

This leaves a dilemma for the hard-core fan, who needs a regular fix to stay sane. In my house, the off-season is less of an issue, being as I tend to tape everything, and well, I donít exactly get through it all during the season. ChampCars tends to suffer the most from this affliction, along with any events that I have attended. To give a couple of examples, I still havenít finished Bathurst from 2002 and I still donít know who won the 1996 Super Touring Car Championship.

But for those of you without my stack of entertainment awaiting perusal, youíll be needing some ideas on how best to keep yourself busy, which donít include mowing the lawn. This issue, I plan on helping out and giving a few suggestions.

Obviously, the first suggestion on my list is to have a chat to fellow sufferers on Conrodís forums. Reminisce about the 2005 season, predict the future, lament the loss of Marcos Ambrose or celebrate the loss of Marcos Ambrose (whichever you prefer).

This alone is never enough, so have a visit from V8s past and watch an old tape from a previous race. Not everyone keeps theirs, so step outside, find a good store and purchase one of the Bathurst DVDs or season reviews. The cost of said DVDs, while not exactly inexpensive, is worth the ability to keep ones sanity Ė and you can always flog it on E-Bay later.

There is also the option of reading the V8 Supercar Yearbook, useful for those without a back-catalogue. Another reading idea that can be fun is re-reading old issues of magazines (Yes, Iíve a collection of those too). This past year or so, I have fallen behind in F1 Racing magazine and spent a while catching up. This meant that I was reading predictions for 2005 well after they hadnít happened. For instance, Ferrariís predicted dominance. For V8 Supercars, the mags of choice would be both Motorsport News and Auto Action. Unfortunately, this isnít something that can be done for too long as the game is short-lived.

Car and Racing movies are always a favourite of mine. There are a quite few to choose from as well: Le Mans, Grand Prix, Gone in 60 Seconds (both editions), the Italian Job (also both editions) and Bullitt are just a few. If you want your car action in shorter bursts, then Iíd have to recommend the Dukes of Hazzard, as seasons 1 and 2 are out on DVD. You could even watch some movies that are only closely aligned to cars. The Blues Brothers is a movie I can watch time and again until the end of time, if only for the long, record-breaking car chase.

If you are still in need of some on-track action, then you cannot go past Speedway. Every state will have a visit from a Sprintcar series in January. While Iíve only attended one night of speedway, it was still memorable and I will return. Itís a totally different world to V8s. The cars slide around the small dirt oval spraying mud and gravel over anything and everything. The sights and sounds are overwhelming and well worth watching. But please remember to keep your food and drinks covered at all times; muddy Coke is not your friend.

For those of us who are rallying fanatics, then there is no real off-season. Not only does the World Rally Championship start in Monte Carlo in late January but there is always Dakar. Generally the first motor race of the year, Dakar has been run since 1979. It is a rigorous and arduous journey over 15 days, covering thousands of kilometres from Lisbon to Dakar. The event has competitors racing on bikes, in numerous types of cars, from stock to prototypes, and of course the trucks. SBS is currently showing a half hour long highlights show each day at 6pm, covering the previous days trek. I strongly recommend the coverage, so if you arenít home at that time, record it.

Finally if youíre still in need of a bit of racing fun Ė and none of the above have managed to satisfy your itch Ė get a bunch of mates together (or gather a bunch of Conroders if your mates arenít around) and head for the local Kart track. If that bunch of mates happens to be around 32 or so, then you could always go to the trouble of pretending that you are season 2006 Ė and use your results to tell Conrod how itís all going to pan out later this year.

Whichever activity it is that you find suits you best, we wish you luck and hope that come March you havenít gone too insane. Donít forget to keep checking in on the forums, and to read the next issue of Conrod Straight (in 2 weeks).

Release Date: 5/1/2006