Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The history of rally racing

Traditionally considered a gentleman's sport, rallying is a form of motorsport that takes place on public or private roads with either modified or specially built cars that are road-legal. This type of racing is unique in that it is not performed on a circuit, but rather is a point-to-point race in which the competitors and their co-drivers drive between two set points. Rallies are won either by speed or by driving in stages within a predetermined journey time.

Motorcar rallying can be traced back to 1894 to the Paris-Rouen Horseless Carriage Competition which was sponsored by Le Petit Journal. This rally attracted tremendous interest and heralded the start of this very popular motorsport. The term "rally" came into being in January 1907 from the first Monte Carlo Rally. Even then, up until the late 1920's, very few events used the term "rally" even though that is what the event would be considered under today's definitions.

The Paris-Rouen Horseless Carriage Competition led to a period of city-to-city road races in many European countries. These competitions introduced many of the features that are found in rallies today individual start times, cars running against the clock as opposed to other drivers, time controls, and entry and exit points of towns, use of road books and maps, long distance driving, and facing hazards such as everyday dust, traffic, pedestrians and even the occasional farm animals.

One of the absolute greatest races during this time period was the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris Rally of July 1895. Won by Emile Levassor, his time for the 732 mile course was 48 hours and 48 minutes which was at an average speed of 15 mph!

When you take into consideration that just eight years later, the Mors of Fernand Gabriel, running the same roads, won the Paris-Madrid race in just under five and quarter hours for 342 miles at an average speed of 65.3 miles per hour, it is a testament to how quickly technology was advancing in motorcars.

At this point, speed far exceeded safety. The roads were mostly farm roads that were primarily dirt or gravel. It was a very dangerous sport. During these early races, there were numerous crashes with many injuries and even deaths to spectators and competitors. In 1903, the French government stopped the races and banned these events due to safety reasons.

However, road racing would not go away!

Despite the ban in many parts of Europe, road racing in Italy continued to thrive, and the country's first motorcar race was held in 1897 along the shores of Lake Maggiore.

Subsequently in April 1900, the tides turned, and the Thousand Mile Trail was organized in Great Britain linking Britain's major cities. There were 70 vehicles taking part, most of them sponsored by trade organizations. Each entrant had to complete 13 stages of the route varying in length from 43 to 123 miles at average speeds up to the legal limit of 12 miles per hour! How things have changed!

In 1905, the German Herkomer Trophy Trail was held. The first event only allowed amateurs, but in 1906 professional racers were allowed and the win went to Dr. Rudolf Stoess who actually won driving a car with the smallest engine!

In 1905, France literally got back in the race when L'Auto sponsored the Coupe de l'Auto for small sporters.

WWI brought a slowdown to rally racing.

The Monte Carlo Rally, which had been terminated, was subsequently brought back and has continued to thrive except for a short time during WWII. It is an annual event and remains part of the World Rally Championship. Due to tough winters, in the 1930's it became the number one European rally.

In the 1920s, numerous rallies sprung up that were run through the Alps in Austria, Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany most notably Austria's Alpenfahrt, which continued to 1973, Italy's Coppa delle Alpi, and the Coupe Internationale des Alpes (organized by the automobile clubs in Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France.

In the UK, the first Ulster Motor Rally was held in Ireland in 1931 and was run from multiple starting points. Eventually, it transitioned into the 1,000-mile Circuit of Ireland Rally.

In Italy, after WWI, Mussolini's government encouraged motorsport, and in 1927 the Mille Miglia was founded and was run over a 1,000 mile loop of highways from Brescia to Rome and back.

The Lige of August 1939 was the last major rallying event before WWII and became a symbol of defiance. Germany was determined to secure a victory for the Reich, but were thwarted by two talented drivers in French cars - Ginet Trasenster of Belgium and Jean Trevoux of France who tied for first place.

Again, rallying was slow starting up again after WWII. However, the 1950's were the Golden Age of the long-distance road rally. The Monte Carlo Rally, the French and Austrian Alpines, and the Lige were joined by a host of new events that quickly established themselves: the 1947 Lisbon Rally in Portugal, the 1949 Tulip Rally in The Netherlands, the 1951 Rally to the Midnight Sun in Sweden (now the Swedish Rally), the Finnish Rally of the 1000 Lakes started in 1951 (now the Rally Finland), and the Acropolis Rally started in 1956 in Greece.

The challenge of rally races was addictive, and the rallies became more and more dangerous and difficult.

In South America, The Gran Premio del Norte of 1940 was run from Buenos Aires to Lima and back. Repeated in 1947 and 1948, subsequent rallies were even more daunting. This event was repeated in 1947, and in 1948 an even more ambitious one was held, the Gran Premio de la Amrica del Sur from Buenos Aires to Caracas, Venezuela where a driver was actually killed.

The Carrera Panamericana was held in 1950 and was a 1,911 mile road race performed in stages to celebrate the opening of the asphalt highway between the Guatemala and United States borders. This fast and dangerous race ran until 1954. Due to the extreme expense of putting on these types of races, they were eventually discontinued.

In 1950, the first French-run Mditerrane-le Cap, in Africa was run. This race was a 10,000 mile rally from the Mediterranean Sea to South Africa and was run sporadically until 1961 when political constraints ended it.

In 1953, the Coronation Safari in East Africa was started which eventually became the Safari Rally and World Championship round. This was followed by the Rallye du Maroc in Morocco, and the Rallye Cte d'Ivoire in the Ivory Coast. Australia's RedeX Round Australia Trial dates from 1953, although this race has remained somewhat isolated from the rest of the rallying world.

Types of Rallies:

Stage rallies. Stage rallies have been the predominant type of professional rallies performed since the 1960's. They are based on a straightforward speed over roads that are closed to other traffic. Often these stretches of road can vary anywhere from asphalt mountain passes to rough forest tracks, ice, snow, desert sand each picked out to provide specific challenges to the crew and the car's performance.

Road rallies. These are the original form and are held on highways that are open to normal traffic. The emphasis is not on speed, but on accurate timekeeping, navigation and vehicle reliability. These tend to be more for amateurs.

Rallying is a very popular sport a sort of grass roots of motorsport. Interested individuals should contact their local automotive clubs which can be found online. Club rallies tend to be run on public roads emphasizing navigation and teamwork.

Source : Helium

Monday, March 22, 2010

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Monday, March 8, 2010

A Few Quick Soccer Tips


When you move into the professional level it becomes even more important to communicate on the field. Simple directions or alerts, such as 'man on' and 'turn' or 'you have time' make playing so much easier and become more important as the game speeds up at higher levels.
Give it and get the ball - play the ball quickly with one and two touches. You should also be prepared to receive the ball at all times, and want the ball! This kind of energy, wanting to always be involved in the play, puts the other team that much more on their heels. So play simple soccer, get the ball and play it. Look to go forward.

Try to attack the space when you have the ball. See if you can draw a defender in, and then release the ball just when they're about to close you down or get the ball.


A simple and great exercise is to dribble in a small square and have an opponent try to take the ball from you. Use your body to shield the ball from the defender. Always keep your body between you and the defender. Tell your friend or the person who is acting as the defender to fight for the ball with a game like intensity, pushing you and playing so hard they are almost fouling you. You can add more players and if the defender wins the ball you switch roles. This game can eventually build into a possession game that focuses on shielding. You can call out to stop play now and again which ever team doesn't have the ball has to do push-ups or a few sprints.

When you can, carry the ball into the open space - all the while shielding the ball from the defender. Carrying the ball with the inside of your foot, this is the where you will get the most control, kind of dragging the ball along as the defender pushes against you. Make sure to bend your knees and have a strong sense about you that this person is not going to get the ball from you. Then, try to work on cutting the ball back and forth. Practice shielding the ball using all parts of both of your feet.

Try shielding the ball for a few yards with the inside of your right foot and playing it to your left and carrying it in the other direction. Next, you can use the sole of your foot to turn or switch directions. Try to use all the different surfaces of your foot without letting the defender get a touch on the ball. Chop and cut the ball back with the inside and outside of both feet. Keep the defense honest by turning and taking the defender on from time to time.

Freeze the Defender

Fake like you’re going to make a long pass or about to take a shot, before receiving the ball – this will freeze the defender who is rushing towards you and give you more time. Simply pull your leg back as if you’re going to play the ball down the field, or, get more animated with it, and throw your shoulders and whole body into selling the fake kick. Either way, this simple move will freeze the on rushing defender. Again, just before you receive the ball (and control it), fake like you’re going to shoot or make a pass by drawing your leg back in the shooting or kicking motion to momentarily freeze the defender.

Switch Play

As a team keep the game flowing by ball swinging the ball from one side to the other to find the best ratio of numbers and the most space. Release pressure by switching the ball.

The Quick Switch - Blind Pass

Dribble to the right with your right foot and then swing a ball to the left, send almost a blind pass. Do the same for the left. Dribble to the left side of the field and swing a ball back to the right side of the field with your left foot. The defender on the other side will not expect the pass. Hopefully you will catch the opposing team sleeping. You are selling the idea that you're going to the side you're dribbling towards when in fact you are swinging the ball over to the opposite side. Team mates will adjust to the expectation that a switch is always coming.

Sometimes you can dribble a few times in the opposite direction you really want to play the ball - to throw the defense off - then you swing the ball to the other side of the field. It doesn't have to be a long switch, just a quick cut back to the other direction can buy you time.

Get the Cross In

As a rule almost, when you have the opportunity, swing in the cross. Do this the next two or three times. Then the fourth time, or when you see the opening, you can take that player on the dribble, beat him or her down the line and cut the ball back to a teammate. Of course, you can always go to goal yourself if the opening is there.

Play with Older Players

Try to find the best game possible near where you live when you are training. To become a great player you should push yourself, and there is no better way to do this than to play with more experienced players.

You can pick up all of their tricks and skills that they have learned over the years. This kind of mentoring process is a huge part of improving your game and often you won't even realize what subtle skills you'll pick up, just by watching and playing with better and more experienced players.

Challenge yourself by playing with experienced players when you can. It will speed up your play, make you play stronger, and you will learn from their experience - where to play the ball, when, and where to make runs.

Slow Down

Essentially this is making the easy pass to the open player. It doesn't mean necessarily slowing down your speed of play, rather it's letting the ball do the work, and not forcing the play. Keep your mind moving fast and focused. If there is an open player play them the ball. Then when they get closed down they play the ball back to you.

As a young player one of the difficult things to learn is patience. This means things like letting the ball do the work through one and two touch play. Each time you make a pass the defense changes their position and new things open up at different angles on the field - new spaces to run into, dribble, and pass are created when you move the ball.

Quick Decisions

As a professional or collegiate player you won't have time to dribble or think after getting the ball. Try to know what you are going to do with the ball before you get it. Eventually, playing simple soccer will become automatic when you are involved in the rhythm of the game, wanting and always asking for the ball trying to find the player in the most advantageous position. Two or three short simple passes can lead to someone who is open in a position to make that goal scoring pass or score themselves.

You will need to use your body to shield the ball. Play simple give and goes with your teammates to get out of pressure. Be aware of where you can move or how you can position yourself to help out your teammates. Using your body means dribbling with your left when there is a defender on your right and dribbling and shielding the ball with your right foot when there is a defender on your on your left. If you don't know you can turn or have time, keep your body between the ball and the defense and get your head up and take a look around. You should always try to know where you are on the field by taking quick looks before you receive the ball.

Hold the ball for a second while I get open or in a better position where I will have more time and can see the field better. This is one of the greatest aspects of the game of soccer, where you work with your teammates to ping the ball around the other team and through the other team, where they can't even get a touch on the ball before you score a goal.

The Half Turn

When you are in the midfield you should position your body so you can connect with the forwards. You can accomplish this by not having your back to the forwards, that is usually their role, midfielders should try to be half-turned and facing one of the sidelines. This way you can view both the back line, if they are trying to make a pass to you, and the forwards to see where they are making a run.

When you play on the wing or in a position along the touchline you should open yourself to the field - in a position to see the whole field and receive the ball. Again instead of having your back facing the forwards you can turn your shoulder towards the outside touchline in this way you are open to the field.

Source : soccer-training-info

Tips to Block in Volley Ball

The block is the first line of defense against the smash. It is usually performed by more than one front row players and is used to stop the the smashed ball from crossing the net and to deflect it into the opponents court.


As mentioned before you can have one two or three front court players blocking. A good block should be able to move along the net quickly and efficiently, jump in the right place, at the right time and be able to read the smasher.


The player should be close to the net and shoulders parallel to the net, feet shoulder width apart, back straight and hands in front of the shoulders.

Blockers need to be ready to move along the net to be in the correct position. This should be where the attacker is anticipated to hit the ball across the net. To move laterally, side stepping is the quickest and best form of movement.

The jump should include the player jumping vertically with the extension of the legs and the hands vertically and slightly forward. The arms are extended over the net with the elbows locked. There should be no gap between both hands and the fingers of each hand should be spread.

The timing of the block depends on the characteristics of the individual smasher. The basic rule is that the blocker should jump just after the smasher.

Source : vball.org.uk

Trick to Smash in Volley Ball


The smash is the main attacking shot used in volleyball and is probably one of the hardest moves to master.


The smasher can vary the smash by smashing cross court, down the line, hitting of the block and hitting a controlled speed block. As always the players tactical ability to decide which one to execute will determine whether they are an effective attacker.


To prepare for the smash the player must drop off of the net so the setter can set the ball in front of the smasher.

When jumping, both feet should be together to stop the player from jumping forward into the net. The four step approach is usually used as shown on the left. The arms are swung forcefully backwards and the knees are bent.

The power of the jump is a mixture of the arm swing and straightening of the knees and hips.

The approach should take the smasher to the place where the jump will be made before jumping.

The hitting arm is drawn back behind and to the side of the head, the arm then straightens at the elbow when jumping with the hand moving from the side of the head to the position of above and slightly in front of the hitting shoulder.

When making contact with the ball it is important to remember the hand should be slightly cupped and contact with the ball is with the palm of the hand slightly in front of the hitting shoulder.

Source : vball.org.uk

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