Ryan McGee, ESPN.com
1. Bar Patrons Go Old-School For Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - For years now, NASCAR execs have struggled with relocating the sport's "core fans."
Good news. I found them.
On Friday afternoon, as the next-to-last Daytona 500 practice session took place, Racing's North Turn Beach Bar & Grille was standing room only.
A group of women dressed in Dale Earnhardt GM Goodwrench gear drank Buds in a booth decorated with Intimidator gear. One wiped a tear from her eye, and it wasn't because of the onions on her burger. A group of thick-around-the-middle lawyers draped in motorcycle leathers described themselves as "Jeff Gordon fans and the original Wild Hogs." A tour bus of NASCAR tourists, all dressed in "Swedish Daytona Tour 2013" T-shirts, posed out front for a group photo with the North Turn neon sign.
In the middle of it all, a grandfather held his young grandson's hand as they slowly walked along the walls of the lobby, reading aloud the wallpaper-like newspaper clippings from the 1950s. "See this photo here?" the man said with a point to an autographed black and white photo of a white-helmeted Tim Flock, '52 and '55 NASCAR champion. "Your granddaddy saw him win a race right out here behind this restaurant."
"On the beach?"
"Yep, on the beach."
The North Turn Beach Bar & Grille has been at this location for more than 60 years, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and Atlantic Avenue in the town of Ponce Inlet, just south of Daytona Beach. Back then, it was the Sandpiper Bar and Restaurant. The towering condos that surround it now weren't there. The only structure of note was a wooden grandstand that nearly leaned up against the Sandpiper. It was the grandstand for the 4.1-mile Daytona Beach and Road Course.
The sands of Daytona Beach hosted racing for nearly a half-century. To the north, land-speed records were set by a pair of Sirs, Henry Segrave and Malcolm Campbell. Soon, everyone and everyman started trying their luck against the clock. Eventually, it turned into racing. One of those beach racers was a young mechanic named Bill France. He led the formation of NASCAR. And in 1948, the fledgling sanctioning body was running the races that had moved down to Ponce Inlet.
The Sandpiper fed fans and competitors. It also served as Bill France's makeshift office. From there, he sold tickets, paid purses and sent employees out into the palm bushes to post "Warning: Snakes!" signs to drive freeloading fans off the dunes and toward the ticket booth.
"It was sight, man," Richard Petty recalled on Friday afternoon, standing in the garage of the Daytona International Speedway. When the big track opened in 1959, it spelled the end for the Beach and Road Course. "Daddy [NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty] and those guys would come flying up that beach, like 80 of them, at 130 mph. Then, as they got to the North Turn, they'd throw those big ol' cars into these huge slides for like a quarter of a mile. They'd hit that hairpin turn, throwing sand all up in the air, get back in the gas and then drive back south on the highway. Tires squealing. It was awesome."
Thousands of fans lined both sides of the "highway," which was actually just a narrow two-lane asphalt country road. They also packed the wooden grandstand, gasping whenever a driver would miscalculate his slide, overshooting the sandy banking and banging into the pillars below.
No matter where they sat, a large majority of those fans munched on boxed lunches they'd bought from the Sandpiper. Now, from the North Turn Beach Bar & Grille, they look out over a much more peaceful scene, enjoying sandwiches named for those racers, such as the Ray Fox Shrimp Salad or Russ Truelove Prime Rib.
"There are a lot of old-timers who worry that people have forgotten about how racing used to be," says Truelove, who returns to Daytona Speedweeks each year as director of the Living Legends of Auto Racing. "All I have to do is bring them here to the North Turn and they realize that they are still remembered and loved. These are real race fans in here."
In 1956, Truelove's No. 226 Mercury was, as they say in his hometown of Waterbury, Conn., "wicked fast." As it turned out, a little too fast. As he approached the North Turn and threw his steering wheel to the left, a tire dug into the sand and sent the car airborne. It flipped six times. Once it came to rest, the door flew open. To the cheers and screams of the crowd, Truelove ran across the beach to safety as the rest of the 76-car field bore down on him.
A Life magazine photographer was there that day and captured the entire wreck. It appeared in a two-page photo spread one month later, and a copy of that issue is on display at the restaurant. Sitting in the parking deck next door was Truelove's rebuilt '56 Mercury, painted up exactly as it was the day it did the 100-mph pirouette.
"We've started a new tradition of having the old racers come back and drive the original course," Truelove says, citing a renewed enthusiasm for the old track, thanks to a decision by local officials to mark the original North and South Turn locations with checkered flag beach gates and historical plaques. "Last year, we could only drive down Atlantic Avenue. This year, they let us on the beach, too."
It took place last weekend, the morning before the Sprint Unlimited. NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood was there. So were Ray Fox and Marvin Panch. They were all back behind the wheel of restored beach racers. And afterward, they did just as they did 60 years ago - they walked into the Sandpiper-turned-North Turn Bar & Grille and got something to eat.
"It really is something being back out there and driving my race car with the people lined up to the left and the ocean to my right," says Panch, who raced on the beach from 1956-58 and won the big race at the then-new Daytona International Speedway in 1961. "It was a real case of déjà vu. I think we all wanted to just take off and race. But the speed limit out there is 10 mph now."
Not fast enough to race, but plenty fast enough to go back in time.
2. Hitting A Wall
The morning after his accident at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, Jeff Gordon woke up sore. Too sore. Fresh off his 701st career start, he knew that this much pain shouldn't be lingering in his neck and back. So he sat down and watched the video of his Chevy crashing along the frontstretch. As he hurtled toward the wall, Gordon remembered bracing himself but also being comforted by the thought of a Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barrier absorbing most of the impact. Upon further review, however, there was no SAFER barrier there at all.
"I didn't quite understand the pain I was feeling that night until I watched the video," Gordon said about one week later, visibly exhausted from the discomfort and resulting lack of sleep. "I had no idea there was no SAFER barrier. I was kind of shocked."
Although NASCAR does require SAFER barriers to cover retaining walls at oval speedways, stock car's sanctioning body doesn't mandate 100 percent coverage, leaving gaps of exposed, bone-crushing concrete. Track owners cite the cost (roughly $1 million per SAFER mile) and claim that research shows the areas left uncovered are those least likely to be hit. Gordon knows that the safety changes made since the death of friend and rival Dale Earnhardt in 2001 have repeatedly saved lives. But he also knows firsthand that those gaps are real vulnerabilities. As evidence, he cites Richmond, Las Vegas, Dover and now Charlotte, all tracks where he's hit bare retaining walls over the past five years.
So Gordon has started lobbying for more aggressive coverage, calling out track owners and NASCAR on Twitter with the hashtag #Saferbarrierseverywhere!
If Jeff Gordon, the sport's living legend, is screaming for change, then for the life of me (and the lives of the racers I cover), I can't understand why so many refuse to listen, especially in light of the past two months. On May 24, sprint car racer Josh Burton, 22, crashed at an Indiana dirt track and died a day later.
On June 12, former NASCAR driver Jason Leffler, 37, died after a wreck at a dirt track in New Jersey. On June 22, Danish racer Allan Simonsen, 34, crashed barely nine minutes into the 24 Hours of Le Mans and later died. All three accidents were as vastly different as the venues where they occurred, and there is no guarantee any of the men could have been saved. But each incident spurred questions about whether all available means had been used to protect them.
Unfortunately, those questions aren't always welcome. Randy LaJoie, a former Nationwide champ who tirelessly conducts safer-racer inspections and education programs at short tracks, faced backlash when he suggested Leffler would have survived if his seat had the correct full-containment headrest used in NASCAR. Meanwhile, NASCAR chairman Brian France bristled a bit at concerns about gaps in SAFER coverage: "When we need to put in additional SAFER barriers, we will do it. We think we have them in all the right places."
NASCAR is considering SAFER barriers inside the fourth turn at California's Auto Club Speedway, but only after Denny Hamlin wrecked March 24 and suffered a lower-back compression fracture. Sadly, that's how this process works: a road of safety innovation lined with the wreckage of those who paid a far greater price than $1 million per mile. In 1964 it took the deaths of NASCAR's two biggest stars, Joe Weatherly and Fireball Roberts, to implement roll cage and fuel cell reinforcement. Earnhardt's death was the fourth in less than a year, all from skull fractures, but it took the Intimidator to spur a safety revolution.
Not a single driver has died across NASCAR's top three series since 2001, the longest fatality-free stretch in stock car history. But big league body counts can't be the lone unit of measure. Hard truths can be found within close calls like Gordon's too. When asked why NASCAR hasn't required complete SAFER coverage, Gordon audibly scoffs: "There's only one reason: cost. That's it."
Had he died at Charlotte … or Las Vegas … or Richmond … or Dover, every racetrack in the world would have been blanketed with SAFER technology. That's what troubles me most: Gordon's voice, while very much alive, seems to have much less impact than his life would.
3. Richard Ben Cramer: A hero missed
I did not want to work with Richard Ben Cramer.
OK, I did. I adored him as a writer and journalist. I'd devoured his works, from "Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life" to "What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?" to "What It Takes: The Way To The White House." The latter had been assigned reading, widely considered one of the greatest political books of the 20th century. The other two I'd bought for permanent placement in my office bookcase.
So yes, of course, I wanted to work with the Pulitzer winner. I had dreamed of working with him on some project at some point in my career. I just didn't want to work with him on this particular project at this particular time. This one was mine.
What an idiot I was.
It was August 2006 and I was editor-in-chief at NASCAR Media Group, then called NASCAR Images. We were in the midst of producing what I believe is still the company's ultimate work: a film titled "Dale" – a biographical documentary of Dale Earnhardt produced in conjunction with – and via the checkbook of – CMT Films.
Everything about "Dale" was huge. His widow, Teresa Earnhardt, and car owner/best friend Richard Childress were on board. We were shooting on genuine film. We had a composer orchestrating an original score. Paul Newman had signed on as narrator. I was writing the script. And I wanted no help.
But CMT, and rightfully so, wanted that script to be "big enough" to fit its subject, voice and expectations. I, they felt, wasn't big enough. So they hired Cramer to work with me. He boarded a plane to Charlotte, N.C., strode toward my desk, dropped his leather bag on a chair and extended his hand.
"I'm Richard Cramer," he said in his growly Mack truck of a voice, smiling, as his eyes darted around the tiny corner office, taking inventory of its contents and, thusly, me. "Ryan McGee, here's what I already know about you. You have a Richard Petty fetish. You have a beautiful wife. And …" He motioned toward the center shelf of the nearby bookcase, pointing to one specific volume among the auto racing titles and reference materials. "You have damn good taste in books."
It was "DiMaggio."
"Now, Ryan McGee, there's something you need to know about me that you can't learn by reading the inside of that book jacket. And it's the one thing you don't want to hear."
"I don't know a damn thing about NASCAR, and I surely do not know a damn thing about Dale Earnhardt."
For four days we sat together in that office. The first day was a feeling-out process. Cramer knew I wasn't happy about him having been hired to steal away my script. And he later confessed that he wasn't happy about being there but needed to pick up some projects to stay busy and bring in a little income while he was getting his Alex Rodriguez book off the ground. We accomplished little.
Day 2 we hit the ground running, chunking out Earnhardt's life on a marker board. I taught him about stock car racing and the Elvis-like following that surrounded "The Intimidator" during his life, but particularly following his death. In turn, Cramer talked to me about writing. He flooded my office with knowledge on "depth of words," the "gift of someone telling you his secrets or the secrets of others," and why it is important to "strip the bull---- away from the people that we worship as heroes." He loathed the casual use of that word. Hero. Not necessarily to tear them down but "to actually know them like we only thought we knew them in the first place."
It was rapid-fire journalism school. "Write sentences that are absolute. … Don't be afraid to ask open-ended questions that will put some of the thinking back on the reader. … Don't deify this damn guy; humanize the hero!"
I have pulled these quotes from the notes that I took during those days. Notes I never took in front of him. Instead, I would scramble them onto paper whenever he went outside to burn a cigar, which was often.
By Day 3, I was finally writing the script. Furiously. I wrote nearly the entire two-hour piece in that single day. I would read it aloud line by line as I typed, and he would verbally challenge me at every turn of phrase. "You tell me Earnhardt's greatest fear was to never be trapped inside a textile mill. We know Ralph [Dale's father] quit that same mill because he couldn't take it. But why, Ryan? If it was so horrible, what was so horrible about it? What did this prison feel like? What did it sound like? What did it smell like? We need to call someone who knows firsthand."
So we did. My father grew up on the mill hills in and around Rockingham. Soon we had him on speakerphone. Dad told us it was hot. The machinery was unbearably loud. And everyone working with those infernal looms – including my grandparents – left work with their hair and lungs full of lint. We thanked my father, hung up the phone, and Richard slammed his fist to the desk.
"That's the kind of hell that makes a man want something better. Even if it means doing something that might kill him. Now take me somewhere to get some good barbecue."
At Bill Spoon's BBQ on Charlotte's South Boulevard ("We cook the whole pig, it makes the difference"), we talked for three hours. He told me about standing on the beach at Beirut in wartime. I told him about racing on the beach at Daytona. We talked baseball smack about his Yankees and my Red Sox. We talked about the beauty of raising daughters, his being nearly an adult and mine being only 20 months old.
"All this talk about heroes," he said, referring to DiMaggio, Williams, Earnhardt and, admittedly, himself. "Ultimately, no matter what they accomplished, in the end all these heroes were most desperate to know if they had been good fathers. They weren't. But they all tried to be at the end. That's the greatest lesson we can learn from them."
Our fourth and final day in my office was spent doing little writing at all. "You know what you're doing," he told me as we made a run to a cigar store in my truck en route to the airport and his flight home. He told me to massage the script over the weekend and call him to read it over one final time. "But don't turn it in right away," he said with a smile as he shook my hand and said goodbye. "Ryan McGee, my friend, we need them to think this was really hard and we really struggled with it. Tell them that we had no fun. That we fought all the time and lost sleep over it."
He winked and he was off, back to Maryland.
Over the next six years, I leaned on my friend Richard a lot, even shamelessly asking for a blurb to put on the cover of my '09 book on the College World Series. ("Ryan McGee made me feel like I was there in the sunshine at Rosenblatt Stadium …")
However, looking back, I should have called him more. Just as I was afraid for him to see me taking notes back in '06, I refrained from calling too often or asking too many questions, despite his repeated invitations to do both. I was too busy trying to play it cool.
The last time we talked was early last fall. I called to let him know that I was going to be at the Dover International Speedway for a Sprint Cup race weekend and that I wanted to finally stop by his house on the Eastern Shore. He said that he was going to be out of town, but we agreed that we'd meet up this May when I returned to Dover. Because of our time together, he confessed that he'd developed a casual interest in NASCAR, particularly Dale Earnhardt Jr. He joked that if he ever got to a race he wanted to make sure that he did it with me, because I was his "redneck interpreter."
Now that will never happen. On Monday, Cramer died at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 62. Lung cancer. Those damn cigars. Tuesday night I pulled my copy of "DiMaggio" off the shelf with the intent of doing a little tribute reading. When I opened it, I discovered that he'd inscribed it during our week together without me knowing.
"For Ryan, Who has strange taste in ball teams (the Red Sox?) … but good taste in books. R.B. Cramer, 8/9/06."
I sat at my desk and I wept for my hero.
4. Shepherd's Life About Purpose And Passion
Morgan Shepherd was grinning. It was a big ol' face-splitting grin that harked back to 1993. Or 1983. Or 1973. Impressively, that face was pretty much devoid of any wrinkles, save for some signature crow's feet around the eyes.
Not bad for a 71-year-old.
On Sunday, Shepherd will make his 515th career Cup series start and his first since 2006. As soon as the green flag is waved, he will set the record for oldest driver to race at NASCAR's highest level, breaking a 26-year-old record set by Jim Fitzgerald, who was 65 when he raced at the since-razed Riverside International Raceway.
"Aw, that's not no big deal," Shepherd said about the record. "My life is about encouragement to people, and this is for the race fans that help keep us here, that support us. Cause I couldn't be racing without it. I don't operate on sponsorship. I operate on friendship, and that is the reason I'm here."
He's made plenty of friends, many of whom were lined up to shake his hand and welcome him back as the crew wrenched away on the No. 52 Toyota Camry. Ken Schrader, 58, relished the opportunity to stop by and, for once, get to call someone "old man."
No, Shepherd is not going to earn his fifth career win. He likely won't even make it to the first round of pit stops. The man who once won races for Hall of Famers Bud Moore and the Wood Brothers will be driving for poor-but-proud Brian Keselowski Motorsports (the older brother of defending Sprint Cup champion Brad).
But winning isn't really the goal. His effort is bringing attention to SupportMilitary.org, a not-for-profit gateway that gives military personnel and families easy access to support organizations. The car also features a decal dedicating Shepherd's weekend to the lives of the 19 firefighters killed fighting Arizona wildfires one week ago.
Shepherd made his first Sprint Cup Series start before it was even the Winston Cup Series. Heck, it wasn't any kind of Cup. It was still the NASCAR Grand National Series.
That was June 20, 1970, at the Hickory Motor Speedway. Richard Nixon was in the White House. Mark Martin, typically the oldest driver in the Cup garage these days, was 11.
Shepherd, 28, finished 19th of 22 cars in a 276-lap race won by eventual series champ Bobby Isaac. Like most of the men in the field that day, Isaac is long since gone. So is the way Shepherd used to race.
"In 1970, I could go to a Chevrolet place and buy an engine for $735," he said. "Tires was $25 apiece, and I could go out and win races that paid $1,000. I could make a lot of money then. Now these engines, they lease them for $70,000, some of them $100,000 or whatever."
He pointed to a nearby stack of tires and continued: "In 1969 [in late-model racing], I won 21 out of 29 races. The left-front tire was on the car all year long. I changed the left-rear one time. The right side twice. So yeah, there's a little bit of difference now."
I motioned toward the end of his perfectly pressed black slacks, calling attention to a pair of well-shined, red-dyed cowhide boots. He said they were at least 20 years old. That's right. His footwear is likely older than fellow Cup series racer Joey Logano.
I asked him if he would be wearing his roller skates on Sunday. For years, it was a staple of the prerace show at the Martinsville Speedway for Shepherd to glide through a roller routine to Mel McDaniel's "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On" on the frontstretch.
"No, and I'm a little disappointed about not having my skates," he said. "This deal came together so fast I jumped on a plane and flew up and we didn't get a chance to get them loaded on the truck."
So what's the lesson in all this? What should other 70-somethings take away from a grandpa trading paint with a field of 42 other drivers who largely weren't born when he made his first series start?
"Get your hind ends off the couch and do something," he said. "Make a difference in the world. That is one of our deals. We have a charity that has been going on for 27 years where we help handicapped people. If you are healthy, you need to get up and help somebody else. That is what my life is about."
Shepherd paused, started to walk away and then turned back.
"Purpose and passion," he said. "This is passion. You need to find your purpose and do something about it."
5. The Generational Shift Is On ... Again
Before the first week of the Chase arrived, before Richmond and the madness of SpinGate overtook the NASCAR world, there was another quiet trend developing that seemed to have some race fans increasingly on edge.
It's nothing new, but rather an unstoppable, inevitable happening that sweeps over the Cup Series garage every decade or so. It's that period of transition when one beloved generation of racers is pushed out the door by the next hungry group in line. It has happened before, over and over. It will happen again, over and over. And yes, it is starting to happen right now.
Aug. 21: Sponsor AdvoCare inadvertently informed us that 23-year-old Austin Dillon would be moving up to the Sprint Cup Series in 2014, driving for his grandfather and Richard Childress Racing.
Aug. 28: Former champion Bobby Labonte was injured in a cycling accident, the final excruciating period at the end of a summer during which the 49-year-old had already been ousted by midpack JTG Daugherty Racing, snapping a streak of 704 consecutive starts, and landing him in the third-tier ride of Phoenix Racing.
Aug. 30: Chip Ganassi announced that 21-year-old wunderkind Kyle Larson would be taking over the No. 42 Chevy in the Cup Series in 2014.
Sept. 1: Chase Elliott, teenage development driver with Hendrick Motorsport and son of Bill, earned his first NASCAR national series win via a controversial crash with fellow young gun Ty Dillon, 21-year-old little brother to Austin.
Sept. 4: Jeff Burton called a surprise teleconference with the motorsports media to announce that he was leaving Richard Childress Racing at season's end, one full year before his contract was up. During his comments he openly, painfully acknowledged that yes, at the age of 47, his best racing days are likely behind him.
Sept. 7: At Richmond, Jeff Gordon once again found himself racing for his postseason life. When the checkers fell, he'd been left out of the Chase field for only the second time in 10 years. The night and its results were certainly not without controversy, but the larger truth is that the 42-year-old living legend has had his statistically worst season since his rookie year.
That year was 1993. Gordon won the coveted rookie of the year award by outrunning Labonte. The following season those honors were won by Burton. The garage they arrived in was still powered by cigarettes, had just discovered it could put lights around a speedway, still raced at North Wilkesboro and Rockingham, and still fielded Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs.
They also showed up in the middle of one those generational shift changes. A series of tragedies took the lives of Alan Kulwicki, Davey Allison and Neil Bonnett. But, though no one could have known we were seeing it at the time, Darrell Waltrip earned the last of 84 career wins in '92, Dale Earnhardt won his seventh and final championship in '94, and Terry Labonte won his second and final title in '96. Harry Gant, Morgan Shepherd, Geoff Bodine and Kyle Petty were all going to Victory Lane for the last time.
"You look back now and think, 'Man, the starting grid really was changing in a hurry, wasn't it?'" Gordon recalled at Darlington in May, about to make his 700th career (and also consecutive) Cup start. "On one hand, I feel so fortunate to have been able to cross over these different generations. But on the other hand, being one of the young guys leading that change …" He started to chuckle. "Man, that got rough."
Rough as in booed. A lot. Rough as in anger because the sport was changing, gliding by on the sands of time, and the new, young guys were the ones who caught either the shouts, or worse, the silence, from old-school fans. As in, How dare you take wins or a ride away from the guy I've been rooting for my whole life!
"I remember all of that very well," Darrell Waltrip recalled earlier this summer. "You think it was painful for the fans? How about those of us that had owned the sport for years and then it was like, poof, the victories stop coming and you're getting passed by kids who were in grade school when you were winning championships. You think you're going to win forever, but you don't. It makes you mad at the ones who show up and start doing it."
To Waltrip, it felt sickeningly familiar. In the late 1970s, he was Jeff Gordon, a brash, good-looking, 20-something racer who showed up running door-to-door with Richard Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison. At the same time that those legends stopped winning championships and saw their annual win totals trimmed from double digits down to one or two per season, Waltrip led a group of young guns that included Earnhardt, Terry Labonte, Bill Elliott and Ricky Rudd.
These days, we remember that group as the beloved pillars of the good old days, eventually unseated by Gordon, Burton and Bobby Labonte. At the time, Waltrip & Co. were anything but.
"It certainly wasn't as bad for me as it was for Dale or Darrell," Ricky Rudd said during this year's NASCAR Hall of Fame ceremonies. "But we all got that pushback of, 'How dare you guys come in here and make it hard for these older guys that we love so much.' Eventually, if you win, they come around. Then one day you show up for work and realize, 'Uh oh, I'm the old guy now. Where did all these kids come from?'"
And that is where Burton, Labonte and Gordon find themselves now. Tony Stewart, looking like a mere mortal for the first time in his career, likely isn't too far behind. At some point Mark Martin is going to run out of part-time opportunities.
"This is just how it goes," says Richard Petty, who was the face of NASCAR's first real generation shift, when he, Pearson, Ned Jarrett and Fred Lorenzen seized the baton from the sport's original superstars, such as Petty's father, Lee, Buck Baker, Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly and Fireball Roberts. "If all you do is cling to the way it used to be, you're gonna miss out. The future will pass you by and you'll be mad that you didn't enjoy it more when it got here."
The King's warning echoes the word of The Mayor. As Burton wrapped up his announcement teleconference, he was asked about the suddenly large wave of young talent that is about to roll into the Sprint Cup garage. Everyone knows that veteran drivers don't want to be pushed aside. But is this generation at least leaving the sport in good hands?
"Oh my god, yes," Burton replied without hesitation. He specifically referenced the Dillons, Larson, Ryan Blaney, his nephew Jeb Burton (son of Daytona 500 champion Ward) and his son, 12-year old Harrison. "Our sport needs young drivers. It needs new blood. The tide's got to run in, and it's got to run out, right? And with that new tide comes new stuff. It's time."