NASCAR youngsters enamored with Batman’s rides on film studio tour

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With NASCAR setting up shop this weekend in Southern California, it was only natural that a group of their rising stars took advantage of a time-honored tourist “to-do”: Visiting the movie studios in Hollywood.

It was also natural that they particularly enjoyed an up-close and personal look with some famous film vehicles – the Batmobile and the Batpod from the recent Batman “Dark Knight” trilogy.

We figure Sprint Cup rookie Austin Dillon would make for an intimidating sight if he could take the Batpod on the high banks.

Nationwide drivers Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott, along with Camping World Truck racer Darrell Wallace Jr., also made time to check out the Batmobile.


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But they did manage to take themselves away from the sweet rides and head down to “Central Perk,” the famed coffeeshop from the legendary NBC sitcom “Friends.”

And they even managed to get some face time with Ashton Kutcher on the set of “Two And A Half Men.”

All in all, not a bad way to spend some down time away from the garage.

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”