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Rear View Mirror 11-27-17

John Schommer
Monday, November 27, 2017


It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and if I see another hunk of turkey, a spoonful of green bean casserole (my personal favorite), or stuffing, I am going to have a fit. I hosted a family gathering of 28 people at my home, and we had enough food to feed a small army. The cleanup from the party meant no post-turkey induced nap for me, but it did provide an abundance of leftovers that I grazed on all weekend.


Between bowls of turkey soup and finishing off every biscuit and dessert, I found the time to build my LEGO VW Beetle that I got for my birthday back in September. The 1,167-piece model was easier than the 1,334-piece VW Bus I built a couple years back. That said, it was still a seven-hour build. That means I could have easily rebuilt my real Bug engine in the same period of time.


Building a LEGO model is way less greasy though, and since I have a newly rebuilt motor in the Bug already, my path was clear. You can follow the progress of that build in a series of photos I posted on the Johniwanna Facebook page if you are interested. Oh, and it was worth every minute, see for yourself.



Now let’s get on to coverage of the final races of the 2017 Formula 1 and V8 Supercars seasons.


Formula One Abu Dhabi

Perhaps it is just sour grapes, but both Kimi Raikkonen, who finished fourth, and Max Verstappen, who finished behind him, called the race at Yas Marina “boring.” Verstappen went to far as to say, “If I had a pillow in the car I could have fallen asleep.” For Formula 1 fans it was anything but, if for no other reason than this being the last race of the year.


Both drivers talked of a barrier in the 1.5-second zone behind a driver that makes it hard to pass at the amazingly lit Abu Dhabi track. Maybe this obstacle is just one more thing that the Silver Arrows of Mercedes-Benz are immune to, as Lewis Hamilton got into that zone several times as he chased his teammate Valtteri Bottas in what was without a doubt a gripping battle.



Bottas had obviously set his sights on a win after taking pole. Despite the already-crowned champion starting next to him on the front-row, Bottas held off Hamilton for all but two laps during a pit stop cycle. The Mercedes’ were dueling far ahead of the pack, and while Hamilton pulled within a half-second of Bottas, the Scuderia never challenged the silver pair.


After the 55-lap race, Sebastian Vettel was 19-seconds abaft Hamilton for third, and Raikkonen another 25-seconds further back. Verstappen challenged Raikkonen to get within eight-tenths of him, breaking through the proclaimed 1.5-second barrier, but never putting Raikkonen’s position at risk.



Both drivers were promoted a place when Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull lost hydraulic pressure and he retired the RB13 on the 21st lap. This was also Felipe Massa’s last race after 16-years in Formula 1 and he collected the final point of the race with his 10th place finish. A well-suited end to an amazing career. Buena suerte Felipe!



V8 Supercars Newcastle

It was the first ever 500-mile race weekend at Newcastle in New South Wales. The V8 Supercars finale attracted 192,000 race fans to the city. Under a backdrop of ocean waves, yachts, and beachfront property, the championship was up for grabs. Would Red Bull’s veteran Jamie Whincup take his seventh championship? Or would Shell’s 24-year old Scott McLaughlin earn his inaugural title? The way it played out will go down in Supercar history.


Entering the race weekend, Whincup held a point lead that was well within McLaughlin’s grasp. The pair were the only two drivers in contention. After Saturday’s 91-lap race, that McLaughlin started from pole, the tables would be turned when Whincup got into it with Michael Caruso. That incident left Whincup hobbled and led to a 21st place finish. McLaughlin won that race and in turn went from being 30 points behind to 78 points ahead.



Going into Sunday’s final 95-lap race of the season, McLaughlin again started from pole with Whincup five cars back. The Shell driver couldn’t have asked for more, but his day had just begun. First he was penalized on lap 15 for speeding on pit-entry. Then officials penalized him again for spinning Simona De Silvestro on lap 45. This dropped McLaughlin outside the top 20 with 70-laps remaining.


To win the title McLaughlin would have to finish 11th or better should Whincup win the race, and Whincup was in the lead. In a series of dramatic passes McLaughlin worked his way to 11th by the penultimate lap. Then, he slid wide on Turn 1 of the last lap, giving Craig Lowndes a slight advantage. As Lowndes closed the gap and dove to the inside McLaughlin tried to block. Lowdes hit the wall and spun out; his race was over.



Before the checkered flag flew, McLaughlin was stung by a third penalty that moved him from his 11th place finish to 18th. In a matter of seconds, he went from taking the title, to giving it back up. It was a hair-raising spectacle that had fans screaming on their feet and an appropriate end to an amazing season of racing.


#TuesdayDrive with Johniwanna

Tomorrow on the #TuesdayDrive I am going to show off a few cars and tunes that members of the community have made for me. For one, NendoShisu made this awesome re-done Martini livery that will get a test in our drift session.



Then we will try out the tune CWheelz24 made for my Ford Thunderbolt. I’m hoping it can turn this all-out drag racer into a retro-road racer. We will see, since this thing was a three-wheeling beast in out last race and topped out at 140 mph in third gear. I hope to see you on Mixer and Twitch at 1 p.m. Pacific.


Formula 1 and V8 Supercars photos courtesy of Red Bull Media and Getty Images.