Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

Total Experience: Formula V8 3.5 World Series in Jerez 2016

October 31, 2016
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The Circuito de Jerez was completed in 1985.

Formula V8 3.5 World Series in Jerez de la Frontera was a spectacular success that began with the impromptu exhibition on Calle Alcade Álvaro Domecq.  The main avenue leading the center of the small city was choked with tire smoke instead of cars during what would normally be rush hour.  Around 7 pm on Thursday a day before the racing car festival began a lone Formula V8 team pilot, Alfonso Celis, Jr., was doing donuts in the street as throngs of unfettered bystanders gawked.   The thought of being merely meters away from an intensely powerful vehicle didn’t instill fear into the people of Jerez.  Onlookers gathered behind temporary metal barricades sheltering only their ears from the din of a roaring V8 engine opened full throttle while ignoring the high-speed pelts of pebbles kicked from the tires.

Everything portended well for the Formula V8 3.5 World Series from the beginning.  No one was injured in the promotional and the steadfast crowd was energized and excited to spread the word that this year was not to be missed.  Thousands of people from Andalusia turned the Circuito de Jerez into a small metropolis of its own on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as motor heads filled the stands to watch various categories of races.  The Circuito de Jerez was open, accessible and free during the Formula V8 3.5 World Series Festival, which stands in stark contrast to other racing platforms.  With games and rides for children of all ages as well as racing drama in the penultimate affair in the calendar of Formula V8 events had all the makings of a good time.

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Jerez de la Frontera was ready for Formula V8 3.5 World Series well before the start in 2016. [Photo from RPM Racing]

The premier events also aired on local television and it was also obvious that Jerez appeared more filled than usual the entire weekend.  More English conversations could be heard in hotel lobbies that are frequented by those in the know and looking out for the latest happenings or the best service.  The more populous capital of Andalusia is Seville, a short car ride away from Jerez, but afterhours establishments must have felt the surging pulse that added multitudes bring if only for a weekend.  Tapas bars and nightclubs were also at capacity and the usually intimate town of Jerez succumbed to the pressures and desires of racing fanatics seeking fun.

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Matevos Isaakyan signs autographs with his SMP Racing teammate Matthieu Vaxiviere in the background. [Photo from RPM Racing]

RPM Racing who sponsors the Formula V8 3.5 World Series should be very pleased with the outcomes at the Circuito de Jerez.

Add this to your calendar next year if you are of the adventurous sort.  Jerez might be to Seville what Philadelphia is to New York, but if are searching for a modern tradition in old Spain, look no further than motor sports.  Peaceful coexistence between two close municipalities relies on the ability of each to maintain their own identity and stay in their lane.

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Beitske Visser is applauded by La Alcadesa, or mayor of Jerez, Mamen Sánchez Díaz. [Photo from RPM Racing]

The Circuito de Jerez is a major attraction and the focal point of racing in Andalusia that provides a distinctive contemporary flare that most of antiquated Spain cannot claim.  Jerez is a special place.  The name, itself, is from a wine produced 5,000 years before Christ but the people have embraced racing of all sorts with the type of fervor that compares to Talladega, Indianapolis, and Daytona.

 

The Circuito de Jerez is one of the more famous and problematic tracks in the world for cars and completely different than racing in a left-turn-only oval.   The course is known for being unusually narrow requiring top-level skills for navigation.  Beitske Visser is the only female driver in the Formula V8 3.5 series and she explained the intricacies that make Jerez unique and her leap in performance.

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Beitske Visser is with team Teo Martin after switching from team AVF in 2015. [Photo from RPM Racing]

“Every year you improve.  I thought today we were super strong on race space but unfortunately it is not easy to pass here.  The race is very difficult on tire management,” Visser added sounding wise beyond her twenty-one years and excited about her gains.

It was difficult for Beitske to hide her happiness at her results after the festival even though she didn’t place.  Visser is moving past the initial attention since joining the tour in 2015 and has shown her followers that she is ready to challenge leaders with her strongest race finishes of the season coming in 7th and 5th in the two races in Jerez de la Frontera.  As one of the more popular drivers on the tour Visser has broadened the appeal of the sport and the Netherlands native has formed a solid base of supporters.

Even in Europe the thrill of raw power emanating from a revving supercharged engine is infectious and embodied by unique fans that sometimes like to take their shirts off in the racing stands.  Racing fans here are just like the Americans!  The weather for the Formula V8 World Series Festival was a warm 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the waning days of October and a fabulous afternoon for racing.  This part of Andalusia has the ideal climate for baring flesh and amplifying the atmosphere in autumn.   The Circuito de Jerez was already buzzing from the increased competition in the overall Formula V8 3.5 series points standings.

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Tom Dillmann is from France and at 27 years of age, one of the oldest drivers in the Formula V8 3.5 World Series. [Photo from RPM Racing]

Hot temperatures provided the perfect setting for the inevitable showdown between Tom Dillmann and Louis Delétraz.

 

After the events concluded Louis Delétraz took a narrow three-point lead over Dillmann after being penalized in the first race on Saturday for forcing the previous overall individual leader into the gravel during their battle for position.  Dillmann sits at 197 points headed into the season finale that will be held in Barcelona the weekend of November 4 and one of the most consistent Formula V8 3.5 drivers is in a funk.  At only nineteen years old Delétraz absorbed his worst finish of the year in the first race on Saturday by claiming second place in his final race on Sunday to give himself a slim lead.  The Rookie of the Year Delétraz was cool in the post-race interview with the knowledge that Dillmann didn’t make the podium in four out of the last four contests.

When asked about his most recent performance Louis Delétraz declared, “I try to keep calm because that is how you win championships.”

Delétraz was also stately in the reference to the penalty decision for illegally contacting Dillmann’s car on Saturday.

“My main focus today was to just take that poll position and try to take a win because I think that is the best answer as a driver to something that you don’t agree with,” he added.

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Louis Delétraz races for Fortec Motorsports and hails from Switzerland. [Photo from RPM Racing]

With 200 individual points Delétraz is already playing with house money and confident that he has already claimed the rookie title and frustrated veterans like Tom Dillmann who is now in second.  Matthieu Vaxiviere is the nearest competitor to the pair with 175 to complete the likely top three in driver points standings.

First place in the Formula V8 3.5 series in Jerez on Saturday went to Matevos Isaakyan with Egor Orudzhev and Matthieu Vaxiviere taking second and third place, respectively.  Dillman, a former Formula 3 champion, was still the overall points leader going into the final day at the Circuito de Jerez but he couldn’t withstand the onslaught of youth and finished 8th on the final day of racing.  The pressure that built up by Sunday led to a very quick start and a display of expert skills that left Egor Orudzhev, Louis Delétraz, and Matthieu Vaxiviere standing on the podium 1,2, 3.

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Formula V8 3.5 World Series podium from the race on Sunday, October 30. [Photo from RPM Racing]

Egor Orudzhev tallied his fourth win of the year, giving him the most in Formula V8 3.5 in this season so far.  Egor credited practice to his victory in the press conference.

“Yeah, we worked on the starts,” confessed the twenty-one-year-old Orudzhev deflecting the credit to his team Arden Motorsports.  “We always work quite hard on that part because you can win a race by [doing] that, like today.”

Orudzhev, a team Arden driver, declined to reveal much else.  “We just cruised,” the Russian driver remarked.

Louis Delétraz agreed, “Today I had a not-so-good start but Egor had a really good one.  I could see him fly by and I just couldn’t do anything about it.”  In the overall team standings Arden Motorsport is in the lead with 337 points and team Lotus is a not-so-distant second with 322.

With only Barcelona left on the schedule all the other racing teams are out of contention for the team championship but racing is a sport where there are many story lines to follow.  Different countries, teams, and personalities are a fascinating mix and part of the global appeal of motorsports.  The entire Formula V8 3.5 World Series is covered in multiple languages at GPUpdate.net in detail.  Also, check out this short video recap of the racing weekend below.

The allure has captivated a dedicated following that enjoyed unprecedented access in Jerez with constant pit crew walk-throughs and autograph signings each day of the Formula V8 3.5 World Series Festival.  Racing at the elite level has something for everybody so don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in the total experience if you are ever given the opportunity to visit the Circuito de Jerez.

[Featured photo from RPM Racing]

Formula V8 World Series is in Jerez

October 26, 2016

My October surprise this US election year was completely unexpected: Europe has their own version of the World Series.  (For the free.)  October 29th and 30th.

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Just trust me, this is official and they mean that you can bring your family for free.

I must be turning into my father because the words “free for the family” are like sweet music to my ears and command my full attention.  This weekend the Formula V8 World Series Festival is in Jerez de la Frontera and they have extended an invitation to all of the families in this wonderful city to participate in two days of racing.  You can download your free invitation and take as many as you need from here but my guess is that if you were in town, I would have known about it and already told you.

Jerez de la Frontera, Spain is really a city that loves their motor sports.  At first I thought that it was just motorcycles and bicycles but now I realize that the people aren’t afraid to let loose on their main avenues.  Jerez isn’t just the city of horses that happens to be named after the fabulous wines of the region.  Xerezanos-Jerezanos have also embraced some cool modern traditions.  Motor sports have been a big deal in Jerez for a while and now I am contemplating a whole new tag in my sports section.

Anyway, rock out to my self-filmed hype video when team AVF and pilot Alfonso Celis, Jr. took over the main street leading to the center of the city.  Enjoy this treat!

Is Basketball Emerging as the New World Sport?

October 21, 2016

It is October and that means that all true sports fanatics in my home country are fixated on baseball.  For some that means making a subtle adjustment in their feelings towards teams that they are willing to root for and the process can be remarkably pragmatic and rational as far as emotions go.  Often times baseball fans will use this time of year to switch allegiances of sorts from their hometown or favorite team to a team that actually still has a shot at winning the World Series grand finale -if only temporarily.  Much like the “holiday” of Halloween, these agonizingly deep and tortuous spirits of October don’t elicit too much attention considering all the people on the planet.  Baseball is one of those great American inventions that has largely been confined to the Americas, Caribbean, Japan, and the Philippines despite the lofty titles that the ultimate prize bestows. However, basketball is the treasure to the world presented by the United States that shows the most persistence in spreading.

When trying to explain the intricacies that can aptly surmise the fascination with a pastoral game without time limits even the most expert baseball aficionado may fall well short.  The marketing just hasn’t been the same for baseball since Babe Ruth, but basketball has an angle that is blatantly apparent.  Instead of trying to explain that accurately hitting a spherical ball with a cylindrical bat is arguably the hardest skill in professional sports through physics examples try showing a highlight reel of a top level basketball player.  Virtually any variety of shots in basketball will leave the viewer with a sense of awe instantaneously.  Pictures of distance shooting with incredible accuracy and powerfully graceful slam dunks have spellbound us all and are suspended in time on the internet.  Even dribbling and passing a basketball can invoke a kind of Magic that can enchant a casual observer.  A novice could watch 1000 home run at-bats before ever glimpsing why the seemingly simple task of knocking the ball over the fence is amazing, every single time.

Basketball cuts to the chase, and you don’t need a history lesson on antebellum Americana and the abundance of yeoman farmers to understand the new world sport.  Basketball started out as a team game that could be played indoors.  Later basketball evolved into a sport that would thrive in urban spaces especially when played by individuals that faced more economic hardship than merely bored farm workers.  Historian and Associate Professor at the State University of New York, Justin Turner referenced that the first baseball squad ever recorded playing a game was none other than the New York Knickerbocker Club that also published the first rule book in 1845 in his post doctoral dissertation.  (BASEBALL DIPLOMACY, BASEBALL DEPLOYMENT: THE NATIONAL PASTIME IN U.S.-CUBA RELATIONS, page 14)

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The New York Knicks (1946 – 1947) Basketball Team

Thanks to modern agriculture we may never see the likes of the conditions that created baseball again but human beings keep reinforcing the circumstances that founded basketball.  The impact that each game has played in the global economy is quite astonishing but the blueprints for additional wealth seem to be divergent.  Indeed, the future looks brighter for one of the games.  The increased development of the world is leading towards larger populations living in denser cities where the disenfranchised and marginalized dream of a nontraditional means of escape.  What is more, the equipment for playing basketball is more along the lines of the most popular world sport of soccer and the purest form can be embraced by both sexes.  All you really need is a ball and people start to come together.

Baseball might be the official American pastime but it just hasn’t been all that infectious.  The established realm of baseball can only claim the Netherlands as the only foothold in Europe.  Basketball has been full on sick since before the time it saw Doctor J and it still has a chance to go viral.  In the modern era that also includes the highly chronicled legends of Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Pete Maravich, and LeBron James so there may be no end to more stories like these running whatever courts that they want.  The youth of the world have taken up basketball on all inhabited continents due to the inspiration and excitement from striking visual cues that align with prevalent social themes.  This is the secret to the health of the game of basketball.  The culture of globalization is perhaps inadvertently breeding basketball lovers at a feverish pace.

The International Baseball Federation began six years after the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and they no longer sanction a culminating event that unites the world for a true championship since the Baseball World Cup folded in 2011.  Basketball was invented by James Naismith in 1891 some fifty years after sports resembling baseball were being played and the FIBA championship trophy and basketball Hall of Fame still bear his name.

The sports that we all play have a certain potential to reveal more about our increasingly interconnected and technical society than we may care to admit.  International participation in sports can certainly coincide with the rise of entire regimes and there is a hardly an upstart political movement that wouldn’t leap at the chance to appropriate such successes.  Popularity matters but total world domination is still like a jump ball in basketball: completely up for grabs.  In other sports it can be more like a forgone conclusion but the courts at least seem like the more egalitarian alternative than the diamond or the fields.  The United States has enjoyed a significant head start on the rest of the participants but the FIBA Basketball World Cup results show that the medal count isn’t lopsided.  Besides, things are known to change.

Spain was the last basketball team to win the FIBA tournament other than the USA in 2006 and the country will be the subject of further coverage on the phenomenal organic growth of the sport on The Chronicles of Six.  This author believes that the next basketball legend will speak Spanish as a first language which would dramatically extend a broad appeal.  Three English-speaking countries ultimately went into the creation of the sport of basketball as Naismith was Canadian born eventual citizen of the United States of immigrant Scottish lineage.  Currently the majority of the basketball innovators are from the USA because the sport is still an evolving invention 125 years after James Naismith recorded the first game in Springfield, Massachusetts.  In this series several Spanish athletes have been chosen for the spotlight in order to give interested readers insights into the emergence of basketball anew, and from a different perspective.

These stories are important and so expect more at a later date.

Epiphany 2016

January 6, 2016

Get out there and share the good news in 2016 that Spain has decided to include actual Africans in some of their parades for Three Wise Kings Day, also known as Los Reyes Magos.  I wrote about my general disgust for the practice of donning blackface last year, but my opinion about this particular Spanish tradition is evolving now.

Largely, I look at the event as celebratory and the incidences of changing one’s appearance to resemble the most striking African features is crude flattery.  My argument to have someone black play Balthazar is still firmly rooted in tact, but the levels of inclusion for the large numbers of Africans that find themselves in Spain is encouraging.   Participation in the parade festivities is a very big deal in Spain, and I was pleased to see cultural sharing and exchange rather than the usual cultural appropriation.

I hate to start out in a new year on a sour note, so Happy New Year to all of you out there.

Spread love!

Pregaming La Feria in Jerez de la Frontera

May 10, 2015

This was certainly something.  Samuel and I keep it real and show you how it is about to really go down at the biggest event of the year in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.  Again, the thing to remember is that La Feria hasn’t officially started yet but stuff like this has been going on for at least a week…

Party in the Street: Andalusia Edition

April 11, 2015

I am told that in all of Andalusia people like to party in the street.  Andalusian people are festive and they don’t need much reason to throw down at a moment’s notice.  Dancing in the streets is common and the Flamenco style is apparently in their blood.

My family and I were walking down the street, minding our own business, and this elderly gentleman just started playing the guitar.  Another stranger started to bang out a beat on a box that he found.  Two ladies that were having lunch nearby started dancing.  My wife joined in but I pretty much started filming like a tourist, even though the entire scene was reminiscent of African cultures.

People all over the world aren’t really that different, I suppose.  If you are ever travelling through Spain, you might want to take part.  The next big party in Andalusia is La Feria in Jerez and Seville in May.  The people have been warming up since March, when this video was taken.  The orange blossoms are filling the air with a sweet smell and the weather is already quite warm in the South.

We are going to get with you at a later date.  You have got to come to Spain!

My son, Samuel, and I.

We stay on the primrose path at Jardín Escénico, Jerez De La Frontera.

Motorcycle Grand Prix in Jerez: For the Free!

February 19, 2015

Xerez is serious about wine, horses, and motorcycles.  The ancient city was founded by the Phoenicians and became synonymous with the type of wine that the chalky soil and the palomino grapes produced.  Sherry will always be special in Jerez but the city also became famous for the fabulous dancing horses.  You may add to that rich legacy a modern twist, because Jerez de la Frontera also has Moto X, or motorcycle Grand Prix races at a magnificent track.  The test runs and many qualifying events are free in Jerez, because they can afford to stoke the action until the world Grand Prix makes their annual trek here, completely taking over the city every Spring.  I brought the whole family.  How cool is that?

If you come to Jerez, or if you are just planning a trip to Spain check the schedule of events for Motorcycle Grand Prix because you don’t want to miss out on a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  If you have ever wondered, “where do they do that at?” then look no further than Spain for producing the best motorcyclists in the world.  The current world and two-time defending champion is Marc Márquez from Cervera, Spain. (A feat he achieved despite merely being born in the year 1993.)  Now I know that some American cities, like Washington DC think that they might know a little something about bikes because of the subculture but let me warn you that it is nothing like Jerez.

Everybody here lives with the motorcycle racing whether they like it or not because at least one event is held on cordoned-off city streets.  I can’t say that I have been a lifelong enthusiast of motorcycle racing, but if I grew up here I might have had the chance to become one.  (You will notice that several of the rotundas of Jerez are racing themed from a giant motorcyclist pumping his fist to an even bigger Michelin Man holding a motorcycle helmet.)  As soon as you pull up to the parking lot of the stadium you are able to hear powerful bikes roaring down the track.  The backdrop in my video doesn’t really do it justice, but if you haven’t ever been to one of these race tracks then you might be surprised at the sheer size of it.  The track was definitely reminiscent of video games that I have played in the past, but when observing the motorcycles make those broad, leaning turns you really feel the forces that enrich the experience.  The bonus was the fact that this great family fun experience was totally free.  Again, qualifying events are for the free.  It was a little too loud for my son, so we cut the trip short.  I managed one good shot, though.

American Goring Advice: But None Too Much

February 17, 2015

When 20-year-old Benjamin Miller decided to leave his native state of Georgia in the United States and travel to Denia, Spain I bet that he wasn’t planning on life-threatening injuries.  One extra hazard of running with the bulls for Americans is the likelihood that you will make international news if you are unfortunate enough to be gored.  Like how do you pack for that?

NY Daily News, Benjamin Miller is gored by a bull in Spain.

NY Daily News, Benjamin Miller is gored by a bull in Spain.

I have written about running with the bulls before, and my training for the event began in earnest in 2008.  I quickly got off track and later broke my ankle but I should be able to make my first run at the age of 41, or 42 because I’m a gangster like that.  Trust me, it is still going down now that I have a foothold in Spain but the naysayers should never be completely ignored.

I have come across some magnificent gems of advice as a result of listening attentively.  My official bull running mentor is from Valencia and he has a Ph.D in astrophysics, so I feel like I’m more hip to the game than the average American.  Nevertheless, my wife has seen fit to give me this one final last warning not to attend next month so I’m sharing it with you.

Anyway happy Mardi Gras!  Somebody out there should send your boy some king cake or hot sausage or something…  (We are literally celebrating my son’s probable conception date because New Orleans is a really fun time during carnival.)  I’m going to be sure to pass along Kipling’s advice that “all men should count with you, but none too much.”

Without Explanation

August 6, 2014

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