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Even Hall of Famers have differing views with new style of Daytona racing




Taking sides

Even Hall of Famers have differing views with new style of Daytona racing

By Joe Menzer, NASCAR.COM February 19, 2011
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Richard Petty was so upset, he really didn’t even want to talk about it. Yet a few feet away in the garage at Daytona International Speedway, Robbie Loomis stood and adopted an opposite position. Loomis happens to be the director of competition for Richard Petty Motorsports and one of Petty’s closest confidants and advisors.
Johnson and Allmendinger work in tandem during the Duel. (Autostock)
Johnson and Allmendinger work in tandem during the Duel. (Autostock)
The debate was over the style of racing that has presented itself this past week at Daytona, particularly that which was on display during Thursday’s two 150-mile Gatorade Duel qualifiers. Up and down the garage and in the media center, the debate over whether it was good racing or not proceeded to rage as Thursday spilled over into Friday and anticipation continued to build for this Sunday’s 53rd running of the Daytona 500.
Shortly after Thursday’s first Duel, Petty was asked innocuously what he thought of all the two-car drafting that made up the 500 qualifying race. Petty replied tersely that he couldn’t stand it and that he was “ashamed to be a part of it.” Loomis tempered Petty’s criticism by saying he slowly was getting a feel for what he has been watching unfold on the 2.5-mile race track. Cars teamed up in two-car drafts, but most were repeatedly forced to switch who was running in front and who was running behind every handful of laps in an effort to keep their engines from overheating (those driving Fords, apparently because of a superior cooling system in their new FR-9 engines, appeared to be the glaring exceptions). “You know what? The other night, I wasn’t sure about it when I watched the [Bud] Shootout,” Loomis said. “But I’m going to be honest with you. Looking at it from a car owner’s perspective, I almost like it a little bit better because the cars get a little bit more separated and it’s more of a thinker’s chess match of making sure you’ve got someone you’re working with right and switching [which car is in front and which is in the rear, pushing in the draft]. “I saw when [RPM driver A.J.] Allmendinger was working with Jimmie [Johnson] and we got up to the front pack, there are some things you have to do as a real driver to keep yourself in that position. Because we lost it one time and A.J. learned from it before getting back up there.” Petty didn’t go into great detail about why he was so upset with it. He said only, “I wasn’t upset with our car. I was upset with the whole thing. Did you watch the race?” And he wasn’t alone. Fellow car owner and former crew chief Frank Stoddard didn’t like it at all, either. “You want the truth?” Stoddard said. “I’ve been coming here since 1985, and those were the worst two 150-mile qualifying races I’ve ever watched down here.” Pressed on why he felt so strongly that way, Stoddard added: “I just don’t think it’s racing. It’s not even that. Guys are switching positions out there on the pace laps to get with who they want to get with and stuff. You’ve got multi-car teams [whose drivers] are talking on the radio to one another. I mean, you’ve got three or four guys talking to each other; they’re not even talking to their spotters. That’s just not what I was raised to go and do. I just think it’s a ridiculous form of racing.” But others fell more on the Loomis side of reasoning, including former driver and longtime race broadcaster Ned Jarrett, who recently was voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “It was a little surprising, honestly, to come here and see what’s happening,” Jarrett said. “But no one really knew what to expect with the new pavement. The track was paved back in 1979 and I don’t remember it being that big of a deal back then. But back then, [the repaving] didn’t take out a lot of the characteristics of the track — all the bumps and everything — that it did this time. “It has so much more grip than it’s ever had before — and that’s why they’re able to do what they’re doing out there. Apparently it’s the best way to get around the race track now. Racers will always find a way to get around the race track fastest. Whatever the circumstances are, they’ll find a way to do it. And now it looks like two cars hooking up together are the fastest way to get around here.” Jarrett said he enjoyed watching Thursday’s Duel races. “What will it do for the overall race team? Well, first of all, it’s fascinating. It’s interesting. And certainly very challenging to the drivers and the crews — and that’s what racing is all about, a challenge,” Jarrett said. “I sort of like a change, but I also like to see the big bunches of cars running together. We’re still seeing a lot of lead changes and a lot of strategy involved.” Jarrett was on hand Friday with others from his Hall of Fame class which will be inducted this May. True to form, not even all of them could agree on whether Thursday’s racing could be classified as good or bad. “The people I’ve been talking to, none of them like it,” David Pearson said. “Some of the drivers say they like it, but deep down they don’t. The only one I’ve heard who really likes to run like that and said he really enjoyed it was Kyle Busch. And you know how he runs anyway — wide-open. But I think if somebody got behind him that he didn’t know that well or didn’t have that much experience running that fast, even he won’t like it. If the guy in front has to slow down for anything at all, the guy behind has already hit him and that’s going to spin both of them out. “I wouldn’t have enjoyed this kind of racing. And if I was doing it, I would want to be behind and not in front — at least until the last lap.” Former car owner Bud Moore added: “Well, to me, I don’t like the new style of racing we’re seeing this week that good and I don’t think the spectators are going to like it too good. But we’ll have to wait until Sunday to see how it all comes off, and it might be better than you think it’s going to be. I think this two-car deal, the way they’ve been running it, I don’t think it’s the way to go. “I don’t think it’s racing the way it should be — because the guy that’s behind the guy in front can’t see because of the rear spoiler and stuff in the back. That’s blocking his view, so he can’t tell what’s happening out in front. He could be pushing that car right into a wreck and he wouldn’t even be knowin’ it.” * Sound Off: Jarrett, Allison on today’s NASCAR, Hall of Fame class Loomis contended that it merely is different than what everyone is used to seeing, not necessarily a sub-standard form of racing. “Right now it’s just more of a calculated race,” Loomis said. “It reminds me of Bristol before it was paved to after it was paved, when it was concreted. It used to be you’d go to Bristol and you were on the edge of your seat every lap. And after it was concreted, from a car owner’s standpoint, it’s better racing. [Thursday’s] deal was real calculated, the way you had to do these two-car drafts and really put yourself in position to do it. “The unique thing about it is you can be working with the best teammate in the world and doing it right all day long, and then you get a restart and all of a sudden he’s on the inside row and you’re on the outside row and it changes the whole dynamic of the race. All of a sudden you’re working with somebody else. It’s just, to me, a lot different. In the past you always had a real good feel for how the race was going to play out, and this is just different.” Carl Edwards said Loomis is right about having everything possibly change in an instant during Sunday’s 500. “That’s likely to happen Sunday,” Edwards said. “You might work with a guy for three hours. Then it could change all of a sudden — and you’d better learn to like that other guy real fast.” Jarrett added that he believes the form of racing on display Thursday that is expected this Sunday could actually turn out to be a blessing for the sport. “I think that the drivers and the crew members, the spotters … everybody who has a part in that car on race day, or even building up to race day, it has presented a special challenge for them. And I think that’s good. I don’t see anything wrong with that,” Jarrett said. “The unexpected is what causes things to be great, or to be good. I know I keep using the word ‘challenge’ but I think that word best describes what their facing to put on the best show for the fans, along with the challenge of beating everyone else on the track. I think it’s going to go down as one of the more memorable Daytona 500s.”]]]]> ]]>

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No toilet? No problem!



A shovel and toilet paper (in a waterproof container) are vital aspects of any backcountry privy construction. (Photos by Leon Pantenburg)

One of the most intimidating aspects of the outdoors for novice campers or beginners is very basic: Where’s the bathroom? Where will you do No. 2?

Story by Leon Pantenburg

When you gotta go, you gotta go. It doesn’t matter if you’re at the shopping mall or in the backcountry – when nature calls, you must answer. Generally, if you’re in established permanent campsites, there will be some sort of toilet available, so that’s probably not an issue.

If you’re camping, or setting up a campsite, one of the first and most important tasks is to set up the latrine.

Here’s how to build one, using re-cycled or commonly available stuff. This “technology” has been around Boy Scout and hunting camps for years.

This composting toilet is located near Cultus Lake, in Central Oregon.

Toilet seat: One of my favorite places to shop for building materials is the local Re-Store, where discounted building materials are for sale, with the proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity. Look around – scrap lumber and other things you need are easily found.

Plastic lawn chair with four straight legs: This can be the basis for the “throne.” Cut the middle out of the seat and replace it with your toilet seat. A box made out of scrape lumber is also popular. Make the height whatever you want. Dig a hole and place this structure over it. I could have gotten a toilet seat and lawn chair for $5 last week at the Re-Store.

Posts or some sort of uprights to attach tarps: This is the basis for the privacy structure that goes around the throne. Drive the posts in around the toilet structure and string the tarps on them. Obviously, trees, rocks or whatever can be improvised into the screen. If stormy weather is possible, you might want to rig a tarp over the whole setup to shed rain.

Small shovel: Use this to dig the privy hole and throw the dirt outside. Privy rules state that after each use, a shovelful or two of dirt should be thrown in. This eliminates smells and keeps the privy from attracting flies.

Waterproof toilet paper holder: This can be a coffee can with a lid, or large plastic bag. You really don’t want the rain to soak the toilet paper.

Your camp will establish its own privy use protocol, but here is one that works.

The shovel and toilet paper container are left on the path to the privy. Participants take these items with them as they go to use the facilities. When these items are gone, that is a sign the toilet is occupied. All campers call out when within hearing distance of the privy .

Once everything is done, the participant uses the shovel to toss some dirt in the hole. Then, all the implements are returned to the path for the next person.

When it’s time to move camp, the structure can easily be removed and the hole filled in.

Building a privy structure is easy and doesn’t take much time. In addition to keeping your camp more sanitary, the privy is also a comforting thing to newcomers. It can also provide one more familiar aspect to an unfamiliar environment.

Author’s Note: Here’s a quick backcountry toilet story:

In 1977, I was about four days into a 14-day backpacking solo through the Thoroughfare Creek area of Yellowstone’s backcountry. I hadn’t seen another person in two days, and the frequent bear tracks on the trail were making me really edgy. I got to the established campsite that evening, and found a nice picnic table, a brand new, immaculate Porta Potty and enough fresh bear prints to scare the crap out of me.

It was approaching dusk, so moving on was out of the question. I ate supper quickly and hung everything on the bear bag racks. But I still had to find a safe place to sleep.

A strong smell of antiseptic hung around the toilet. Reasoning that the smell would cover up my scent, I went inside the Porta Potty and twisted the latch to “occupied.” I got into my sleeping bag, sat down on the closed toilet seat, and leaned up against the wall to sleep. I dozed and slept fitfully until dawn, awaking at every imagined noise.

This story would be better if I had heard bears moving around all night, but thankfully, I didn’t hear a thing!

This story first appeared on Leon Pantenburg’s blog, Survival Common Sense. It has been reprinted here with permission from the author. Photos and video are courtesy Leon Pantenburg.

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Lessons from the past: Surviving an economic meltdown



Hallowell-great-grandparents (All photos courtesy Leon Pantenburg)

Story by Leon Pantenburg

When the stock market crashed in 1929, the economy tanked, farm prices dropped, and my grandfather, Peter Pantenburg, lost the family farm in central Iowa. My people have been in that area since my great-great-grandfather, James Hallowell got a land grant after the Civil War and homesteaded in the late 1860s. My great-grandpa, Charles Hallowell, plowed the prairie for the first time in the 1870s with a John Deere breaking plow.

Leo Wirth moved his family to Wesley, Iowa, to find work. Here’s some of the kids, in – I think – the mid-1930s: Vincent, Alina, my mom, Mary, and Eldon.

My dad’s family went from being prosperous farmers to homeless in a matter of months.

My mom’s family had a similar story. Grandpa Leo Wirth also lost a farm, and he had a large family to feed.

Both families were destitute, but they weathered the storm and stayed intact. There were a lot of lessons learned about coping with economic disaster.

To put this in context: By 1930, according to, four million Americans looking for work could not find it; that number had risen to six million in 1931. Meanwhile, the country’s industrial production had dropped by half.

My grandparents, Peter and Harriet Pantenburg, on their wedding day in June 1917.

By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its nadir, some 13 to 15 million Americans were unemployed, and nearly half of the country’s banks had failed, according to

The United States didn’t come out of the depression until 1939, at the beginning of World War II.

Despite the hard times, both families stayed intact. All their children turned out to be upstanding, successful people.

Here are some of the lessons learned:

Never give up: Leo moved his family to Wesley, Iowa, because he found work managing a gas station/garage at a Standard Station. Pete and Leo took whatever work they could find and did any jobs that were available. Neither sat around waiting for someone to help them out. Nobody expected any government help, and both men would have felt it demeaning to take assistance from anywhere.

My uncles Eldon, Vincent and Fredrick, and Grandfather Leo Wirth, probably in the late 1930s in Wesley, Iowa.

Figure out your resources and come up with a plan: Even though it was a good crop, Pete’s corn was not worth harvesting in 1930 with the low prices, so the family burned corn for heat one winter.

Some of the displaced farmers headed west or to other areas to look for work. Others tried to stay in place. Take an inventory of your resources and assets and use that list to decide what to do next.

Subsistence hunting and fishing: My dad was 11 in 1929. He was too small to be much help farming, but he was an excellent small game hunter. Dad hunted all the time, and frequently, the rabbits and squirrels he killed became the main course for the evening meal.

His marksmanship got really good. Years later in the Army, that skill got dad a job training troops and teaching rifle and pistol. Dad’s primary hunting firearm was a single shot .22 rifle. He used .22 shorts, because of the low price and noise, and he only shot once before moving along. (It’s difficult to locate a single shot by sound.) Still, he got caught poaching once.

My dad and his sisters, Agatha (left) and Edna, sometime in the 1920s.

But don’t depend on hunting or fishing. Hunting and foraging can supplement the food supply, but heading for the hills and “living off the land” won’t work. Have other ideas and plans to put food on the table during emergencies.

Have a skill or supplemental job: All farmers, it seemed, had some sort of side occupation. Leo was a butcher, and he would travel to farms to process cattle and hogs. He frequently got paid in meat. (Leo died when I was 7 or 8, but I remember him skinning a pig and tending his bees.)

Charles Hallowell and his daughter, Alice Johnson, used their musical skills to survive. Charles played the violin at bars, dances, parties and other social events. Alice accompanied him on the piano or played another violin.

They made enough to keep ends meeting and to take in Pete’s family temporarily. (It’s in the DNA – today, I play Charles’ fiddle in an old-time string band. We do some of the same tunes Charles did. Check out how grandpa’s fiddle sounds on “Over the Waterfall.”)

Leo’s butcher knife is a treasured heirloom my sister Karla still uses.

Everybody, including the kids and old folks, had a job they could do based on their abilities. These tasks could be anything, from gathering eggs to snapping beans to helping with the harvest to working in the garden. Every little bit helped.

Stick together: Pete’s family moved to another farm north of Ames and got a new start. I grew up on that farm, and my dad bought it in the 1960s. (I hunted the same hills and timber he used to hunt as a kid, but I never had the pressure to be successful!)

Other neighbors were not so fortunate, and many of them had to hit the road (think “Grapes of Wrath”). Our next-door neighbor, Jo Stahlman, was born in Foley, Ala., when her family moved south to find work.

Make do: Fix, repair, recycle and reuse. Clothing was patched, handed down and used up. When it finally reached the rag stage, it might be made into a quilt.

My great-grandfather, Charles Hallowell, sometime in the 1940s.

That went for just about everything. Money was scarce and fixing or mending something didn’t cost anything.

Garden: While millions of Americans went hungry, my relatives gardened like they always did. Every farm had a large plot, and many families were largely fed off the produce. Fruit orchards and berry patches were common.

There was virtually no market for livestock, but farmers could and did raise animals for their own tables. As far as I know, places like Iowa and other Midwest states, which didn’t have the severe droughts of the dust bowl areas, fared better than many other areas.

Raise chickens and rabbits: Farms back then were more diversified, with a variety of food-raising activities. Every farm had a flock of chickens for the eggs and meat.

Rabbit meat is one of the most nutritious meats available, according to Rise and Shine Rabbitry, and rabbits can produce six pounds of meat on the same feed and water as it takes a cow to produce one pound of meat.

Both animals can be raised in small spaces and are productive and prolific.

Preserve food: Every farm wife knew how to can and preserve vegetables, and every farmer had a pantry. My relatives, being of mostly German extract, made lots of sauerkraut and pickled many other vegetables.

My grandmother, Sophie Wirth, with my aunt and uncle, Irene and Eldon, probably in the middle 1930s.

Canned and smoked meats were also important. Just about every farm had a smoke house, where meat was preserved by smoking. This included hams, of course, but bacon, sausage and other smoked meats last a long time and could get you through the winter.

This probably explains why bratwurst and sauerkraut is one of my favorite comfort foods. That’s also in my DNA.

Build a root cellar. These were the family’s food insurance policy. They were generally an area under the house, like a basement, where canned foods could be stored. The temperature, being underground, was pretty consistent, and it allowed for long-term storage of root vegetables. Hence the name.

The root cellar was an essential way to keep carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, potatoes and other root vegetables fresh through the winter months. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, to work properly, a root cellar must be able to hold a temperature of 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and have a humidity level of 85 to 95 percent. Ground temperature stabilizes at 10 feet deep, according to the almanac.

My aunt Irene, 86, recalls that Grandma Sophie Wirth frequently ended up feeding extra mouths at the table.

“He (Leo) was known for supporting siblings in any way he could,” Irene told my cousin Lisa Faust Swenson. “On weekends, anywhere from one family to all his siblings’ families would show up for dinner. Grandma would just keep taking food from the root cellar to make sure all were fed.”

It took World War II to bring the country out of the Great Depression. There are still arguments over what caused it, and who is responsible. That discussion can take place somewhere else.

We’ve all heard that cliché: Those who don’t learn from the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them. I think the lessons learned from my families’ survival of the depression are valid today.

Here’s the bottom line: You have to be part of a tribe, family or larger group that cares about the individual. Stick together. Learn how to produce, preserve and store food. Learn job skills and how to get by.

And maybe the most important lesson: Never give up!

This story first appeared on Leon Pantenburg’s blog, Survival Common Sense. It has been reprinted here with permission from the author. All photos are courtesy Leon Pantenburg.

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Your old cellphone isn’t a toy, plus: tips for emergencies



(Photo by Jaskarn SH SD - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Several times each week, area first responders are dispatched on calls when children dial 911 from disconnected cellphones.

By law, phone carriers must allow these calls to go through. This allows people whose service has been disconnected a way to call for help.

Unfortunately, many people give their old phones to children to play games or use as a toy. Remember: If they dial 911 on your old phone, you could get a visit from law enforcement and be held responsible for a false alarm.

Here are some tips on using cellphones in an emergency:

Use a landline if possible. Cellphones can’t accurately pinpoint your location. FCC rules require nationwide carriers to provide tracking capabilities to 911 dispatchers that are accurate within 50-300 meters (164 to 984 feet), depending on the technology the carrier uses.

That could mean up to a 984-foot radius (not quite three times the length of a football field), which could result in a difficult search in high-density areas. FCC rules also allow up to six minutes to determine a location. If you can imagine how far a car can travel in six minutes, you’ll see how that could be problematic.

Recent updates to Android and iPhone operating systems have improved smartphones’ ability to automatically share exact locations with emergency dispatchers, but this technology doesn’t cover older or non-smart phones.

If you call 911 from a cellphone and hang up, operators will attempt to return your call to follow up. If they can’t retrieve your number, they are likely to send an officer to your estimated location, which may not be accurate.

If you do use a cellphone to call 911:

  • Provide your location as near as you are able and the type of assistance you need.
  • Try to stay calm and speak clearly.

If you need to call 911, you can use any smartphone even if you can’t unlock it. Here’s how:

  • Press the home button to launch the screen that asks for a passcode or fingerprint.
  • In the bottom lower left of the screen, tap “Emergency”
  • Dial 911

In some areas, you can text 911. Hinds county added the service in 2015. If you think you might need to text 911, contact the local police department to see if the service is provided.

Smart speakers, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home cannot call 911, but iPhone’s Siri and Android’s Google can. Check with your carrier or vendor to see if you have tie-in options for your home system.


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