Friday, March 27, 2009

What do Helio Castroneves and Kyle Busch have in common?

A Special Report by Mrs. Wedge.

They were both beat by D.C. radio personality "Flounder" in a rush hour race around the city beltway.

Three years ago, Helio Castroneves raced and lost to Flounder in the first "Smell My Face Beltway Race". A 64 mile race around the D.C. beltway during rush hour traffic, presented by Elliot in the Morning on DC 101.

This year it was Kyle's turn. On March 26th, Kyle Busch raced Flounder in the "Smell My Face Beltway Race 2". Kyle was driving a yellow Toyota FJ with DC101's Roche commentating as a ride-along passenger, and Flounder driving a red FJ with radio DC101's Hennessey as his passenger.

The race began at the DC 101 station in Rockville, MD around 8:30 am and "went green" starting at Rockville Pike & I-270 to access the I-495 beltway, doing a lap around the beltway, and back to the station. This provided almost 2 hours of rush hour racing entertainment, and sure made my commute much more enjoyable.

As for the rules of the race, Kyle was informed that the collision clause for the rental car is "you break it you buy it", and the station agreed to pay any traffic tickets he might get.

As the race started, Flounder gained a quick lead by driving on the shoulder of the road (Kyle protesting that he was not informed that this was an option). Soon after Kyle passed Flounder and both cars ended up in the HOV lane.

The cars are going 70 mph in rush hour D.C. traffic! At one point, Roche reported from Kyle's car that they had just passed a cop going 80 and the cop just waved!

Beltway drivers kept calling in to the show to report the cars passing them, and to give details about where Kyle & Flounder were, how the traffic was, and how far apart the cars were. Keep in mind this was just a normal Thursday morning rush-hour drive and traffic they are competing in.

Somehow as they were passing I-66 in Virginia, Kyle got a police escort (no lights or sirens) and gained a 1/2 mile lead on Flounder.

The DJ in studio, Elliot, asked Roche if Kyle had made any moves that would suggest he is a professional driver? Roche simply responded "A move!! A MOVE!!! I've been white knuckled this whole time!" He reports that Kyle is constantly squeezing into spots he never thought they could fit in and that Kyle refuses to flash his brights at slower cars in front of him because he thinks it's "rude".

As they round the other side of the beltway Flounder is a good mile behind Kyle and thinks he's out of the race, but then suddenly gets a police escort of his own for a bit, which helps.

It is amusing to listen to Kyle and Roche refer to the traffic on the interstate as "lapped traffic" in a race. At one point they end up "drafting" behind a minivan & we even got Roche reporting that Kyle was driving through traffic with one had on the wheel while drinking a soda. Which gave us the priceless: "what kind of soda?". Roche responding, "a coke" and then Kyle yelling in the background, "MONSTER! I'm drinking Monster!!!... you're killing me smalls!"

Around 10:15, Kyle pulled off the beltway back onto I-270 for the final stretch to the finish line only to get pulled over by 2 state police officers, who ticket him for going 57 in a 55 (after everything he just did on the beltway, THAT is what they get him for?!?).

As the officers are talking to Kyle (they did eventually let him go with a warning), Flounder passes Kyle laying on the horn as he goes by and soon, an officer is pulling him over too. He is being pulled over for "unnecessary use of a horn", haha.

They let him off with a warning as well. However, the officer blocks traffic to let Flounder merge, and blocks Kyle in the process. Flounder pulling into the station for the win... but just barely!

In the end, Kyle was a good loser, and even signed Flounder's trophy, who is now 2 for 2.

For those interested in this event: click here for a live-blog of the events, and definitely check out the broadcast here with commercials edited out! (which I highly recommend listening).

We were not living in DC for the first beltway race with Helio, but Roche did report that Helio did not take nearly as many risks as Kyle did. It was a great race and a great broadcast. Fans lined up at overpasses to cheer on the drivers, and a guy dressed in M&Ms even showed up at the finish line.

Hopefully they won't wait another 3 years for the next Smell My Face Beltway Race

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