Tooned – Episode 1: Wheel Nuts

This is a brilliant idea. If you are a team with a reputation as being staid, distant, corporate and boring, what do you do to change that external perception and let people know what thteam is really like? There’s little better than starting a cartoon!

These great little shorts are from a new division called McLaren Animation, a partnership with Framestore who I’d honestly never heard of before. They sound like one of those companies who do work you’d recognise but is branded by someone else for their promo so you never really know it is them.

Over the last couple of years we’ve learned of the dynamic between Jenson and Lewis in other videos over the last couple of years, it’s good to see the team get a bit of love too.

Here is the first episode which debuted during the British GP weekend two weeks ago:

[ McLaren Animation / Vodafone McLaren Mercedes (McLaren Racing) ]

This isn’t just a great idea, it is also well-executed. It shows the humour of the team whilst also being sponsor friendly (perhaps still a little too clean and corporate – every team ‘partner’ is clearly on show) and perhaps most importantly it gets across the message that McLaren is a high tech company… even if some of the gadgets are a bit ‘out there’!

Secondly, a quick word for the Lotus F1 Team. Keep an eye on their Twitter account (@Lotus_F1Team) during races, as for some weeks now they’ve been tweeting live drawings produced as the race progresses! Here is an example posted on lap 33 during Sunday’s German GP. Theirs is also one of the most active and funny accounts among all the F1 teams so do give them a follow.

[I’ve not been contacted by anyone from either team so this isn’t a promo piece, I just thought they were cool ideas worth sharing]

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IndyCar hits Las Vegas

In the best bit of pre-race build-up I’ve seen in a long time, the IndyCar Series took their impressively large field of 34 cars entered in this week’s Las Vegas round and drove them up and down ‘the strip’ in Las Vegas, complete with the legend that is Mario Andretti leading the way in his two-seater IndyCar (with some pop star I don’t know in the passenger seat).

What a fantastic idea!

IndyCar released this great video, complete with interviews, on their official YouTube channel:

And unbelievably the Daily Mail website based here in the UK as a nice spread of big pictures on the event, as well as a video of the action which you can see here.

Kudos to the IZOD IndyCar Series for becoming the first racing series to not only do a street demo in Las Vegas but also run their entire grid at once in it, AND rope in Mario Andretti and famous non-racing names!

I have never seen IndyCar-related promo activation of this level, this beats the stuff Red Bull, Renault and McLaren get up to with their F1 demos and those are very good indeed. I am impressed. They are making the Las Vegas season finale an Event with a capital E. So many of their races have lacked Event status, the series just pitching up in a town and expecting people to show up. I am so glad to see this turning around.

Combine this with the recent Baltimore event as well as existing successes like Toronto and of course the Indy 500 itself, the series looks set for a positive future. I’m also pleased they are able to do this for an oval race outside of Indy. I hope it shows with crowds appearing in the stands on Sunday. More big events please, Mr Bernard.

DW at Bathurst

NASCAR champion and commentator Darrell ‘DW’ Waltrip took a ride around the Mount Panorama track at Bathurst last weekend – at speed in a V8 Supercar driven by Jason Bright. This is hilarious!

I can’t decide whether he is hamming it up, it is genuine, or a mixture of the two!

If you were watching the SPEED coverage in the US, keep watching this clip for the interview afterwards because this clip was taken from 7 Network.

I actually haven’t seen the race yet, I understand it was an absolute classic so I hope to catch up with it over the winter.

[Video found on the Midweek Motorsport Facebook page]

Blogathon 2011 is This Weekend!

I can’t believe it has come around so soon, this weekend from 8pm GMT it is the 3rd Annual Blogathon at Grab Bag Sports!

Previously known as Furious Wedge, GBS will again be hosting the 24.5-hour blogging marathon. The original was set up ostensibly to follow the Daytona 24 Hours but also to check in with a bunch of other sports happening the same weekend, including the Australian Open, basketball, even cricket.. anything vaguely sports-related happening over the weekend. The focus is generally Daytona, tennis and American sports but really anything goes, if a way can be found to watch it or talk about it, it’ll be watched and talked about. Don’t forget to follow that link and leave your guess for when Scott Pruett says hello to his family – prizes are at stake.

This year’s event is bigger and better than ever, featuring as it does these special guests:

– IZOD IndyCar Series driver Alex Tagliani (#77 FAZZT Racing), one of the most ‘social media’-aware drivers from possibly the most SM-aware paddock in the world, and also a great guy.
– ESPN senior writer Ryan McGee who covers motorsport and college football, which seems an odd combination but there you go.
– NZR Consulting’s Tony Cotman, he’s the man charged with bringing in the 2012 IndyCar rules, did the same for Champ Car, and is also the chief steward for the Firestone Indy Lights series.

There will be Q&A chat sessions with each, check the site for times as well as a schedule of sports occurring this weekend, a slightly different schedule is here for UK/European-types and those elsewhere who find a way to watch.

A regular feature has become the guest bloggers posting throughout, this year includes (but is not limited to):
– Steph and Paul from More Front Wing;
– Tony from Pop Off Valve;
– James from 16th & Georgetown;
– Shane from Australia (regularly contributing to Curt Cavin’s Q&A and radio show);
– and… me. While the above are IndyCar fanatics I can struggle to keep up with it so I guess I’m there to provide a different dimension.. or something? Er. Thanks for the invite!

We’ll be posting regularly alongside our esteemed hosts: Allen Wedge, Mike Furious, and Andy ‘The Speedgeek’.

There will be a blogger Q&A too, come along and ask questions. Primarily ask them to Tags and Cotman, but if you get there at the wrong time ask us blogpeople instead.

Let’s not forget the Mario Kart tournament featuring a live chat room! It may be a bit late for me, it didn’t stop me staying up until 5am last year but I may not go that far this time.

I really do hope you join us, even if you have no idea about Daytona, NFL, the Aussie Open, or whatever else might crop up. It’ll be fun!

Head to http://www.grabbagsports.com/ from 8pm GMT Saturday until 9pm Sunday for much fun and merriment.