Multimedia

September 17, 2000

Road Trippers

If any sport needs a good gossip columnist, it's auto racing.
Silly season--the time of year when drivers scramble to line up
rides for the next season and when rumors circulate faster than
Bill Elliott at Talladega without a restrictor plate--used to be
confined to the period from November to February, downtime for
Winston Cup racing. Now there's off-track buzz year-round. The
negotiations that led to Awesome Bill from Dawsonville's move
from Ford to Dodge for the 2001 season (this year's hottest
story) took five months. The news would have been much tougher to
follow without Jayski, a cryptic fellow who's equal parts
gearhead and Walter Winchell and who runs the definitive
clearinghouse for NASCAR rumors on his Web site, Jayski's Silly
Season (jayski.com).

As for his identity, Jayski offers only tantalizing hints on the
site. He served in the Air Force. He has a dog named Barnee who
likes to drink from birdbaths. Jayski likes the occasional Jack
Daniels and Coke, but he also enjoys a Zima now and again. Beyond
that, the man is shrouded in mystery. We can't determine his real
name, let alone if he's actually Polish. What is certain is that
if you've got a question about NASCAR, his site has an answer.
Probably even the right one.

Jayski culls information from a host of sources, including
newspapers, other Web sites and his own men on the inside
(writers, team members and owners, but no drivers), and dumps it
onto a site that has more than 400 pages. You can find detailed
race statistics (e.g., the last driver to win from the 43rd
starting spot was Fonty Flock at Raleigh in 1953); information on
every NASCAR team, including possible changes for the 2001 season
and a relatively easy-to-decipher guide to how NASCAR awards its
provisional starting spots--a system so arcane it makes the Bowl
Championship Series selection process look like a game of
rock-paper-scissors. Moreover, if you want to see the special
Bass Pro Shops paint scheme on Dale Earnhardt's car at the 1998
Winston, there's a link to a picture of it.

For fans of open-wheel racing, seventhgear.com provides a similar
service. Edited by Australia's Aaron Irvine, who moved from
Warrnambool, Victoria, to Gold Coast, Queensland, in 1996 so he
could live in a home overlooking a CART track, the site provides
breaking news and gossip. Seventhgear classifies its rumors by
degrees of b.s., ranging from "fact" to "pure speculation" to
"won't happen." Meanwhile, Formula One dirt is dished at
f1rumors.net.

Neither site, however, is as comprehensive as Jayski's--and that's
not just pure speculation.

--M.B.

COLOR PHOTO: SIMON BRUTY Jayski.com tracks everything NASCAR, from the shift of Elliott (above, leading) to paint jobs.

DECONSTRUCTING DENNIS

A Web site helps you understand what Miller might mean

In one of his patented rants on his late-night HBO show, Dennis
Miller said, "Stop me before I subreference again," an admission
that his encyclopedic riffs can get obfuscatory. Enter the good
folks at britannica.com, the Web site of the Encyclopaedia
Britannica, who have taken it upon themselves to compile and
explain the references of the rookie Monday Night Football
analyst in "The Annotated Dennis Miller," accessible from a link
on the site's home page.

The posting, updated the afternoon following each week's game, is
erudite and tongue-in-cheek. Take Miller's remark, during the
Sept. 4 Broncos-Rams game, that "I think the reason you're seeing
so many flags is that everybody's having to communicate in
semaphore." First, britannica.com writer Locke Peterseim gives a
brief definition of semaphore ("a method of signaling with
flags"), pointing out that the word was coined in 1794 by a
Frenchman to describe a method of communicating between
revolutionaries during their battles with royalists. Under "What
Miller Might Have Meant," Peterseim says, "Perhaps the referees
were not really penalizing Denver for delay of game, but were
trying to let Paris know Conde-sur-l'Escaut had been captured
from the Austrians."

The site devotes a page to each quarter of every MNF game, as
well as a page to the pregame. As long as "The Annotated Dennis
Miller" is on line, Miller is welcome to subreference his heart
out.

--M.B.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)