Motorsports Feed

The NASCAR drivers are turning left and right today on the road course in Sonoma, Calif. The sport's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is driving a car with National Guard decals. But some of Junior's fans, as well as those who support other race teams, are worried about a report that Congress will again attempt to end military sponsorship of motorsports. Specifically, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) is expected to introduce an amendment to next year's Pentagon appropriations bill that would reduce money going to advertising for motorsports, fishing, wrestling and ultimate-fighting events. When McCollum introduced similar legislation in... Read more →


Racing reflects the economy

This is one of my favorite days of the year. The last Sunday in May usually means three fantastic auto races. It starts early with the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco. This is one of the greatest races in the world. Not only do the streets of Monte Carlo provide great racing, the location itself offers fantastic gawking opportunities at both the scenic locales (all those ginormous yachts in the harbor!) and all the celebrity hangers-on, party-goers, driver girlfriends/fiancés, spectators (Kim Kardashian reportedly popped in for a look-see). Formula One cars take a curve near the Monaco port during... Read more →


GE and 14 other tax dodging companies

It's been a week since we all learned about General Electric's innovation in the corporate tax realm. The company's vice president for communications and public affairs, Gary Sheffer, responded to the New York Times' story breaking the GE's tax saving situation via a letter in today's newspaper: "It was significant losses at GE Capital in the financial crisis, not 'tax avoidance' strategies, that reduced General Electric's 2010 overall tax rate below historic levels. Without these financial crisis losses at GE Capital, G.E.'s tax rate would have been near the average of other multinational corporations. Our tax rate will return to... Read more →


The National Hot Rod Association's tax-exempt status could soon be under IRS scrutiny. An anonymous complaint was filed with the agency's Exempt Organizations Division contending that the drag racing group's activities are identical to those organized by for-profit automobile entertainment companies. "Public information reveals that the NHRA operates like a commercial business by providing specific services to its members --whether in the form of prize money to winners or payments to race track operators or other private groups benefiting from the racing events," said Marcus S. Owens, a senior member in the Washington, D.C., law firm Caplin & Drysdale. Photo... Read more →


Dealing with my double payment

In connection with my post yesterday about end-of-year checks and which tax year such income should be reported, some folks are wondering about the exact resolution of my specific double payment situation. The extra payment, which arrived in my snail mail box last week, was in connection with my regular motorsports column, specifically for the piece that will appear in a couple of Randall-Reilly trucking industry magazines in January. (In case you happen to be at a truck stop, check out the Truckers News or Changing Lanes magazines for my thoughts on Dale Jr.) I was about to send the... Read more →


Watching folks parse election results is almost as much fun (or pain, depending on how your candidates did) as watching the voting tallies come in on those fateful Tuesday nights. Every sector has a take on what the political change in the House of Representatives might mean to it. Today, I ran across an automotive industry perspective in the post-election edition of Autoline Detroit. Nolan Finley of The Detroit News and Edward Lapham of Automotive News joined host John McElroy to discuss Politics as Unusual, or how the midterm election affects the folks who make the cars we drive. Click... Read more →


One of our July 4th holiday weekend traditions is watching what the hubby and I still call the Firecracker 400. It's the NASCAR night Cup race down in Daytona held on the Saturday closest to Independence Day. This year, though, we paid added attention to NASCAR's junior varsity series. Our interest was piqued not because Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was in the Friday night field, but because he was behind the wheel of a #3 Wrangler Chevy like the one his dad drove many years ago. The throwback paint scheme and resurrection of the #3 was to honor Dale Earnhardt, Sr.'s... Read more →


There I said it! Despite the new edict from General Motors, I, a life-long Chevy owner, will continue to call my car and all others bearing the Bowtie logo, Chevies. In case you missed it, the new ad agency for General Motors says the company needs to present a consistent brand message by referring to the automobile make as Chevrolet, not Chevy. Big fat chance of that happening. As the story in today's New York Times notes, Chevy is ingrained in the American automotive consciousness, in part by previous acts (and ads) by the automaker itself. Then there's the music... Read more →


With Toyota's troubles, General Motors and Ford are hoping to get new customers who now want to give the domestic car makers another shot. And some of those who might have had their hearts set on a Prius are perhaps looking at other hybrid options. If you are a Blue Oval fan, then you might want to go shopping for a fuel-efficient Ford sooner rather than later. Remember that tax credit for hybrids? The one that dwindles as a manufacturer sells more and more of the vehicles? Well, the hybrid tax credit is phasing out on eligible Fords. In fact,... Read more →


Yesterday would have been The King's 75th birthday. I thought of you Elvis, but this Jan. 8 was a crazy day and I just never got around to wishing you all the best. I'm sure if you're alive, you'll understand. Things kind of got out of control for you now and then. And if you're dead, I hope you're not spending eternity worrying about such inconsequential earthly issues. Regardless of whether you believe Elvis is rocking out on another plane of existence or still enjoying fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches (for energy in his battles against an ancient evil... Read more →


Miles and miles of Texas traveling taxes?

As regular readers know, I've blogged ad nauseum regularly on the fiscal troubles of many of our 50 states. One of the common themes in these struggling state posts is the creative ways tax officials and lawmakers are coming up with to pay the bills. OK, California's IOUs were more sad than ingenious, but you know what I mean. Now it looks like my native state, which had a couple of European banners among the six flags that variously flew over us, is taking a cue from another transatlantic country. I wrote a couple of months ago about The Netherlands'... Read more →


In my preview of the tax extenders bill last week, I noted that the provision that gives special tax relief to motorsports complex owners could cause some problems with passage of the bill. As it turned out, it wasn't enough to derail the package that continues expiring tax breaks beyond Dec. 31. The measure, including the so-called NASCAR tax break, passed 241 to 181. Under the law, facility owners can use a quicker seven-year depreciation schedule for new construction and improvements to racetracks, grandstands, parking lots and other facilities. That's certainly a nice early Christmas present for the race track... Read more →


Lost in all the hoopla about the just-extended first-time home buyer tax credit is the fact that the clock is ticking down on another stimulus-created tax break. In addition to tweaking the home buyer credit, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included a deduction for state and local sales and excise taxes paid when you buy a new vehicle. This includes cars, light trucks, motorcycles and even motor homes. The auto-related deduction became available when the stimulus act became law, meaning you can deduct the sales tax on qualifying vehicle bought between Feb. 17 and Dec. 31. That gives you... Read more →


The stock market has been creeping upwards, which is great news for folks like me, who are hoping one day to kick back and do exactly what we want, not what we have to do in order to pay bills. But there's still a lot of retirement planning work to be done by all of us, regardless of where we are on the road to our hoped-for golden years. When you combine the recent market crash with the fact that many folks used whatever retirement funds they had, both IRAs and company 401(k)s, to live on when they encountered day-to-day... Read more →


Blogging program note

I know I promised in yesterday's post on the 2010 e-file testing that I'd elaborate on electronic return submission today. The best laid plans … . Life has once again overtaken me and my editorial calendar. I have a story I must finish today, amid the chaos of repairs (well, actually demolition before repairs) of our post-water-heater-leak kitchen. Then I go and find a story (actually, the hubby found it and passed it along; thanks, honey!) in today's New York Times that bears a bit of a timely blogging mention. Hint: It's about what is probably the world's most famous... Read more →


How's your Labor Day holiday going? If AAA is correct, fewer of us are on the road this year, primarily because the 2009 long weekend fell after most schools started. The hubby and I are sitting at home not because of school (we have no kids), but because we are lazy. But that's another blog post (or not). If you, however, are more energetic and are in the midst of an end-of-summer road trip, you're probably paying less for your gas than you did last Labor Day. AAA says the 2009 nationwide average price of self-serve, regular gasoline should be... Read more →


Based on participation numbers, the cash for clunkers program has been a great success. In fact, it was almost too successful. When the program, officially known as Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), took effect on July 24. It was scheduled to run through Nov. 1 or when the funds are exhausted, whichever happens first. Last week, the money clause kicked in -- almost. Looking at a dwindling CARS account and shoppers still heading to dealerships, the House on July 31 approved an additional $2 billion to continue the program. The Senate is expected to follow suit next week. For car... Read more →


In addition to all of today's more important and meaningful celebrations, July 4th also has a special place in the hearts of racing fans. It's the weekend when NASCAR runs the Firecracker 400, as it was originally dubbed before we had sporting event naming rights, at Daytona International Speedway. The old-time moniker still fits, especially since the cars now run at night, when any on-track pyrotechnics are even brighter. And you know there will be some. The July event is one of four restrictor plate races. More often than not, the two plate races at Daytona and the two at... Read more →


I grew up in a small, off the beaten track West Texas town. That meant that just about everything that made it into our local stores got to town via truck. With the creation of the interstate highway system in the '50s, trucking got a boost. But even without that spider web of bigger roadways, in blue in the image below (which you can click here to see in a larger, and clearer, size, and then enlarge even more once the PDF opens), truckers found their ways to the wilds of West Texas and other harder to reach communities. Those... Read more →


From IRS clutches to top of the IRL

Congratulations to Helio Castroneves, winner of today's Indianapolis 500. That headline is borrowed from a comment by one of ABC's race announcers. It's a perfect assessment of how Castroneves' life and career has turned around in just a month. I know the cheers from the crowd were for the driver. Helio, who also won new nonrace fans with his winning steps on Dancing With the Stars, is one of the Indy Racing League's most popular competitors. But I suspect a lot of folks urging Helio home during the final laps also were yelling in joy that he had already captured... Read more →