Phanfone upgraded to Super Typhoon, but Japanese GP start time not set to change


The start time for the Japanese Grand Prix looks set to remain unchanged despite the threat of Typhoon Phanfone, which has now been upgraded to ‘super typhoon’ status.

Phanfone has been lingering the Pacific for some time, and it was confirmed earlier this week to be heading towards Japan across the course of the grand prix weekend.

The worst of the weather is thought to be hitting Suzuka on Monday, which could seriously compromise the planned logistics of getting the paddock to Sochi in Russia for next weekend’s grand prix.

Heavy rain is set to affect tomorrow’s race, with some even speculating that it could be reduced to two laps behind the safety car to avoid being cancelled altogether. In such an instance, half points would be avoided.

One option raised was to bring the start time for the race forwards from 3pm local time, given that sunset is at 5:30pm. However, the plan is to go ahead with the race weekend as originally scheduled, and to deal with the weather as it comes.

The typhoon has today been upgraded to a ‘super typhoon’ by the US Naval Observatory, which will only further concerns about the logistics of getting to Russia over the next few days.

Speaking to Forbes yesterday, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said that there were no plans to make any changes to the schedule in spite of the incoming typhoon.

“I’m not moving anything anywhere,” he said. “Nothing is changing at the minute. If it rains the teams will race.

“Nobody knows what it’s going to be like. I asked somebody a few minutes ago and they said that the weather is nice. It rained on Thursday but otherwise it’s okay. Maybe there’s going to be a storm.”

You can watch tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix live on NBCSN from 1:30am ET.

UPDATE – 2300 ET

In a very interesting twist, veteran F1 journalist Adam Cooper has reported that the FIA actually asked the race organizers – Honda – to bring the race start time forwards by as much as four hours, only to be refused.

NBCSN’s Will Buxton confirmed that the weather was as expected, albeit bearable at the moment.

After eating just one chip, NHRA drag racer says: ‘I seriously thought I was going to die’

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Editor’s note: Due to rain, Sunday’s final eliminations of the NHRA Carolina Nationals have been postponed to Monday morning at 10 a.m. ET. In the meantime, check out this rather unusual tale:

Remember the old Lays Potato Chips commercial from back in the 1980s that bragged “No one can eat just one”?

Well, ask NHRA Pro Stock driver Alex Laughlin and a few members of his team, and they’ll tell you they learned a very valuable lesson that there indeed IS a chip that you can only eat one of.

According to NHRA’s National Dragster, Laughlin and Elite Motorsports crew members Chase Freeman, Kelly Murphy and Brian Cunningham took part Friday night in the Paqui One Chip Challenge.

If you haven’t heard of the Challenge, Paqui Chips has produced a tortilla chip that the company boldly claims is the hottest chip ever made anywhere in the world. The secret is the “Carolina Reaper” pepper, considered the hottest chili pepper in the world, with a rating of 1.9 million Scoville units, according to PuckerButt Pepper Company.

How hot is 1.9 million Scoville units? Let’s put it this way: the Devil might even have a hard time taking this kind of heat. By comparison, a Jalapeno pepper only reaches 10,000 units on the Scoville rating. 

So while they were enjoying some downtime Friday night after the first two rounds of qualifying for the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina (suburban Charlotte), Laughlin and Co. paid $30 for one chip – you read that right, $30 for one chip, it’s THAT hot – and thought they could take the heat.

They thought wrong.

“This is the hottest chip in the world,” Laughlin said on an Instagram post that documented the entire experience, adding a warning, “What to expect: Mouth on fire, short-term loss of speech, impaired vision from tears, extreme profanity — or death.”

View this post on Instagram

Never. Ever. Again.

A post shared by Alex Laughlin (@alexlaughlin40) on


Laughlin’s post also includes several reader comments that Laughlin and his crew should have had milk on hand instead of water to try and cool things down because milk has a natural antidote to cool your mouth down after eating hot food.

Sunday morning, with his mouth and throat still a bit sore, Laughlin recalled the red-hot episode to National Dragster’s Kevin McKenna:

Never again. Never. Ever. Ever,” Laughlin told McKenna. “It was definitely not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

One of our guys showed me a You Tube video and it looked like it wasn’t going to be too bad. I like spicy food and it’s usually never a problem. I’ve been to those places with hot wings where you have to sign a waiver before you eat them and that’s never been a problem.

But this? This is on a whole different level. I thought it might last ten minutes. Fourteen hours later, I was still in bad shape. I woke up at 3 a.m. and Googled “internal bleeding.” I seriously thought I was going to die. We all did.”

So if the heat from the chip was off the hotness Richter scale, where did the stunt rank on Laughlin’s own personal Richter scale?

I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.

Well, I really didn’t think it would be that bad,” Laughlin told McKenna with a shrug. “I mean, it’s just one tortilla chip. Like I said, I can usually eat stuff that other people won’t eat, but I had no idea what I was in for.

“I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.”

If you’re up for another challenge in the future that involves eating hot food, Alex, here’s a suggestion: Even though it’s a few years old now, maybe you should try the Ice Bucket Challenge (but fill it with milk) to cool down quick. Just a thought.

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