AutoMatters & More: Memorial Day Weekend Racing, Science Fiction at the Fleet and “Alice”


Reflections on Memorial Day Weekend 2016 Racing

No doubt like many other auto racing fans, I too was glued to the T.V. for much of the Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend. From before the sun rose to well after dark, with the help of a DVR, it was back-to-back racing heaven (Spoiler Alert: I am about to reveal the winners of three major races).

First up was Formula One and the iconic Monaco Grand Prix. Following closely on the heels of their disastrous weekend in Spain where championship leader Nico Rosberg and race-win-hungry Lewis Hamilton took out each other’s series dominant Mercedes in a first lap crash while leading, one could not help but wonder if that might be repeated again on the tight, barrier-lined streets of Monaco – especially given the added variable of rain.

That did not happen. Nico had an uncharacteristically uncompetitive race; the unexpectedly resurgent Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull Racing) led, only to have a likely victory snatched away from him by his team’s poor pit stop, where they did not have tires ready for him when he came in as he was instructed to; and emerging victorious, from third place where he had won before, was Lewis Hamilton.

Next up was the historic hundredth running of the Indy 500, held in front of a huge crowd of over 350,000 – the first total sellout in the race’s history. Indy 500 rookie Alexander Rossi came from seemingly nowhere to cross the finish line first with a fantastic finish, after his car began to run out of fuel on the last turn of the last lap.

Rossi will be forever immortalized for his dual accomplishments of being a rookie and the winner of the 100th Indy 500, similar to how Ray Harroun is remembered as being the first.

This should not have been such a surprise, given how well Rossi drove for a back-marker team in Formula One last year; the brilliant race strategy of former IndyCar driver Brian Herta, which played to the strengths of his team; and to the vision, support and recognition of great talent by team owner Michael Andretti.

American Rossi should have been offered one of the two new U.S. Haas F1 Team seats for this year. Now other major F1 teams will surely give him a serious second look, as they should. He will have great choices no matter which racing series he decides to pursue.

Last up was the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race. Admittedly I was getting raced out, so I fast-forwarded my DVR through the race, expecting to play it in real time often when there were changes on the track. Surprisingly that did not happen.

Martin Truex Jr. led an incredible 392 of 400 laps – a record – and won. It was one of the most emotional victory lane celebrations ever, as even his fellow competitors were genuinely happy for him and his girlfriend, who have endured a great deal of hardship on- and off-track, with dignity and continued resolve.

“Science Fiction, Science Future” at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

The newest exhibit at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego’s Balboa Park combines science fiction and future science tech. What used to be the stuff of science fiction is now becoming real, or at least reasonably possible.

Now through September 5, 2016, in a variety of interactive exhibits, you will be able to compete with someone else to move an object with your mind, design a cyborg, interact with robots, experience holograms and even see yourself dematerialize on a monitor, while you stand on a (simulated) transporter pad from the Starship Enterprise!

“Alice Through the Looking Glass”

Visually exquisite describes this new Disney film very well indeed, as it turns the familiar and much loved Lewis Carroll classic on its ear and sends Alice (Mia Wasikowska) off on a new adventure through the looking glass to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). The opening scene of sailing ships in a raging storm at sea had a great and totally unexpected plot twist. The preview at Disney California Adventure is in 4-D, complete with rain!

I was skeptical that Sacha Baron Cohen could pull off a leading role (Time) in a fairy tale but he was an excellent fit, as were all of the other principal actors.

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Copyright © 2016 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #439r1