OK, OK, so NASCAR’s got its good side

It’s been a wild week. I’m currently getting moved into town so right now, my world consists of cardboard boxes and the stairs I have to climb to get them into my new bedroom. Hopefully, this column will be a little more coherent next week when I’m all settled in and have a bit more time to work on it.

Right off the bat, I feel that I didn’t do an adequate job of conveying my respect for all racers, including NASCAR pilots, in my last column. And while my open-wheel rant didn’t generate a pile of hate mail (thank you very much), I have received a couple of emails from a very nice woman who suggested a couple of dates to circle on my calendar in the way of attending a NASCAR event.

And I think I’m going to give it a shot. To repeat what I said to my friendly emailer: Racing is racing and it’s all good. The sound of an engine running at over 10,000 RPM, whether it’s the high-pitched scream of an F1 machine or the guttural roar of a stock car, is music to my ears.

My correspondent did advise me that the Las Vegas weekend would be a great first experience but cautioned me to stay away from the one-armed bandits. No problem. It’s not the slot machines I’m worried about. I used to host a regular Texas Hold ‘Em game in my living room when I lived in Merced. Given that I haven’t played poker in more than two months now, I shudder to think about what would happen to my meager bank account if I were to take a seat at a Vegas table any time soon. Seriously, I’m going through withdrawals here. I see a deck of cards and my hands start shaking.

Yes, it’s going to have to be Daytona or bust for me, I’m afraid.

Meet the Sockers

Another thing that’s been on my mind this week is the state of the Hollister boys’ soccer team. I’ve been to quite a few of their games this season and I just can’t figure out what’s going on. There are capable players on this team. Anybody who has seen the likes of Mauricio Campos, Jaime Torres and Christian Mercado in action knows that the squad’s level of talent and heart isn’t reflected by its record. Just this Monday, the boys were beaten 7-0 by a Gilroy High squad that’s admittedly finally running on all cylinders, but which probably isn’t seven goals better than the Balers.

I don’t think the team’s problems can be blamed on first-year coach Juan Carlos Martinez. He’s been playing the game since he was five and he knows what he’s doing. Granted, he’s been red carded twice so far this year and has had to miss a couple of games for arguing calls with officials. But even those indiscretions show his passion for the sport and for his team – and I think his players see it that way as well.

The Haybalers have shown flashes of the brand of play they are capable of a couple of times so far this season. Like in their 5-1 drubbing of Salinas earlier this month or in a tough 2-1 loss to Palma the following game. I’m confident that Martinez and his team, only a season removed from finishing second in the Tri-County Athletic League standings, will get things turned around before too long.

If not, they’ll be one of the few disappointments in a school year that’s so far seen tremendous athletic achievements at San Benito High.

Catch him if you can

Now, back to things that go vroom. I had a great conversation with Hollister’s Bobby Grewohl on Tuesday and, believe me when I say that this kid is going places. Quickly.

Grewohl is about to embark on a fresh season on the track, kicking off with this weekend’s USAC Western Midget Car Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. If all goes as planned, he’ll find himself behind the wheel of an Infinity-Pro Series machine next year as he prepares for a ride in a Chip Ganassi car in the Indy-Racing League circuit for 2006. Look for a story on Grewohl’s upcoming challenge here tomorrow.

Josh Staloch is the Sports Editor of the Hollister Free Lance. E-mail him at [email protected]

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