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North Carolina Competition Dining Series Reaches Final Fire

North Carolina Competition Dining Series Reaches Final Fire


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The fire in North Carolina is heating up for the "Final Fire" series this weekend in Raleigh.

The evening of Wednesday, Nov. 20, saw the first round of North Carolina Competition Dining's "Final Fire", where chef John Bobby of Noble's Grille in Winston-Salem and chef Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill in Charlotte went head-to-head to determine who will compete in Thursday evening's battle. Bobby defeated Fortes by just less than 0.3 points.

Wednesday night's event featured secret ingredient was Cheerwine, the cherry-flavored soft drink from Salisbury, N.C. It had to be incorporated into all three courses, in addition to Cackalacky's Sweet Cheerwine Sauce, which only had to be included in one dish.

Judges last night included Michael Foreman of Bistro Roca in Blowing Rock, Michael Lee of Sono Sushi in Raleigh, and Scott Crawford of Herons at The Umstead in Cary.

For every competition, judges and diners use a point system on their smartphones to score the chefs’ dishes on taste, creativity, and appearance.

Bobby won the first course with a charred veal loin, Cackalacky Sweet Cheerwine sausage, black garlic gnocchi, Cheerwine ricotta, Cackalacky gastrique, and crispy Brussels sprouts leaves.

Fortes won the second course with a Cheerwine-infused pork trilogy featuring braised Cheshire pork shoulder with sweet potatoes, Cheerwine-glazed pork confit with Brussels cream, Cackalacky sweet Cheerwine barbecue pork loin, and a chive biscuit with fennel and apple.

For the final course, Bobby won out with a double chocolate torte, cherry Cheerwine compote, dark chocolate Cheerwine ganache, and chocolate streusel.

Bobby advances to Nov. 21's battle against Dean Thompson of Flights Restaurant in Raleigh. The winner will compete in Nov. 23's finale — their opponent will be determined Nov. 22. It is between Gerry Fong of Persimmons in New Bern and Adam Hayes of The Red Stag Grill in Asheville.

All rounds of the Final Fire series take place at the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel. The battles are sold out, but @CompDiningNC live tweets every battle with photos, so for those unable to attend, follow the fire there.

The winner will receive $4,000, a hand-forged set of knives from Charlotte-based Ironman Forge, and a trip to Napa Valley, Calif. to the pro chef program at the CIA Greystone campus, compliments of Kikkoman. The runner-up gets $1,000.

Last year's Final Fire champion was Ryan Payne, chef of Weathervane in Chapel Hill, N.C.


List of Moonshiners episodes

Moonshiners is an American docudrama television series on the Discovery Channel that dramatizes the life of people who produce (illegal) moonshine in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The series dramatizes their liquor production efforts, law-evading techniques and lives. [1]

The series premiered on December 6, 2011. The ninth season premiered on November 19, 2019. [2] As of May 9, 2020, [update] 185 episodes of Moonshiners have aired.


Denny Hamlin wins NASCAR iRacing Series’ finale before regular competition restarts

Denny Hamlin closed NASCAR’s iRacing Series with a victory at a simulation of throwback North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway.

The Daytona 500 winner was instrumental in organizing his fellow Cup drivers for the invitational series that started after the regular series was suspended. Hamlin, who races barefoot on a top-of-the-line simulator, won the opening iRacing event March 22.

He also gained national attention three races ago at virtual Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway when his daughter, Taylor, tried to ask him a question during the race and accidentally turned off the screen on his simulator with a remote control she was holding.

To win at North Wilkesboro on Saturday, Hamlin on four fresh tires chased down leader Ross Chastain and nudged him out of the way. Chastain retaliated by hitting Hamlin’s car after the checkered flag.

“Two guys going for the same spot,” said Hamlin, who said Chastain tried to block his move.

Hamlin closed the iRacing Series with two wins in seven races. William Byron led the series with three victories but did not compete Saturday.

NASCAR is scheduled to resume racing May 17 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, where the series will compete without spectators.

“Can’t wait to get back,” Hamlin said. “Can’t wait to see you guys in the real world starting next week.”

NASCAR closed out its virtual series at North Wilkesboro Speedway, an original venue on NASCAR’s schedule in 1949 that was abandoned after the 1996 season as NASCAR began to expand outside its Southern footprint.

Jeff Gordon won the last race at the 0.625-mile short track that featured a unique uphill backstretch and downhill frontstretch. After years sitting idle, the track has been badly damaged by weather and neglect and overgrown with weeds.

How the Lakers rebuilt from their three-peat era after dispatching Shaquille O’Neal, losing in the 2004 Finals and retaining Kobe Bryant.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., an early iRacing enthusiast, recently led a cleanup effort of the iconic speedway so that iRacing could laser scan it and add it to the tracks on the virtual platform. It is not yet on iRacing for public use but was made available for NASCAR’s final race of its invitational esports venture. The track has been simulated as it was in 1987 and will be available for the public to race in June.

NASCAR quickly pivoted from real racing when its season was suspended March 13 during the COVID-19 pandemic to the virtual platform. Its broadcasts set several esports viewing records for broadcast partner Fox, but the novelty wore off after Bubba Wallace was fired by a sponsor for rage-quitting a race and then Kyle Larson used a racial slur while on the platform Easter Sunday. He was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing for the incident.

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North Carolina Competition Dining Series Reaches Final Fire - Recipes

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Say goodbye to the show with a farewell feast of epic proportions.

The Final Harvest

Vivian visits one of her favorite farmers and a restaurant known for its fried livers.

Liver Lover

Vivian plans a respite from the road during the holidays, but finds herself busy at home.

Chasing Trout

A Chef's Life is a new half-hour character-driven documentary and cooking series that takes viewers inside the life of Chef Vivian Howard, who, with her husband Ben Knight, left the big city to open a fine dining restaurant in small-town Eastern North Carolina.

A Chef's Life is a new half-hour character-driven documentary and cooking series that takes viewers inside the life of Chef Vivian Howard, who, with her husband Ben Knight, left the big city to open a fine dining restaurant in small-town Eastern North Carolina.


Unique, exhausting season reaches finale with FCS title game

The longest college football season in history comes to a close this weekend after a grueling, haphazard stretch that saw the Football Championship Subdivision push the majority of its games into the spring for the first time because of the pandemic.

While Bowl Subdivision teams staged a shortened season last fall, the FCS took the unusual step of putting off its games until spring even though some teams had been preparing since last summer. Players and coaches alike say the constant specter of a sudden shutdown for coronovirus protocols made for a mentally exhausting season and one that athletic directors said only slightly mitigated the revenue lost.

But, they add, at least they got to play the games.

South Dakota State and Sam Houston will play for the FCS championship Sunday in Frisco, Texas, capping an abbreviated season marked by high level football and some historic performances, but also dozens of games lost to COVID-19 outbreaks.

The day will also start a countdown that has raised concerns: Many programs will be idle for less than two months before reconvening to prepare for fall football. Coaches have tried to adjust.

South Dakota State played as many as 10 true freshmen, coach John Stiegmeier said, and made concessions on physical contact in practice.

“Our staff decided to really limit the amount of contact we have during practice,” he said.

So, too, did Sam Houston, though coach K.C. Keeler said the toll on his players has been far from just physical.

“We came back in June thinking we were going to be playing in September and then, all of a sudden, that was not on the table,” Keeler said. “And then we’re kind of getting ready for a spring season but now there’s a lot of questions: Are we going to get to a spring season? Are there going to be spikes? It’s been physically and mentally exhausting going through all those ups and downs from June.”

Daily or three-times-a-week testing for the coronavirus provided a constant threat to players hoping they could play and coaches hoping they could field a team. Many programs didn’t play at all and those that did became familiar with postponements or cancellations.

For James Madison, ranked No. 1 for most of the season, a period of five weeks toward the end of the regular season resulted in four cancellations because of the virus. A twice-postponed game with Richmond rescheduled for the final day of the regular season allowed the Dukes to qualify for the Colonial Athletic Association’s automatic berth in a truncated 16-team playoffs. The Dukes won 23-6 on April 17, the day before the playoff field was set.

The cost of the pandemic won’t be known until fiscal years end in June, several athletic directors said, but the Dukes’ Jeff Bourne had a dire guess at what the coronavirus has cost his program.

“Suffice it to say, the revenue was down 90%-95%, so that’s a tremendous hit,” Bourne said. James Madison not only lost a $600,000 guarantee for a game at North Carolina in the fall, but they were allowed only 250 fans for their first two home games.

They averaged 3,616 fans for five home dates, nearly 22,000 below capacity.

Joe D’Antonio, commissioner of the CAA, said the cost to the league just for COVID-19 testing during the playoff rounds of the CAA’s winter and spring sports was at least $500,000. Schools had to pay for the mandatory testing during the season.

One bonus for spring football: exposure. With no Power Five games to compete with, the FCS got more time on television, providing “a real showcase for FCS football,” Richmond AD John Hardt said.

And it rewarded the players who stuck with it. Hardt recalled attending Richmond’s first practice in the spring.

“The joy that I saw behind those masks on players’ faces and then in their eyes and coaches, the spring in their step being able to do what they love and they enjoy so much, I think it was a real, real valuable experience.” he said.

And a respite from the relentless uncertainty.

“We’ve been going at it mentally since last March when we all got sent home for COVID when our school got pushed online,” SDSU senior linebacker Logan Backhaus said. “Then we ramped it up in the summer when we came back, were doing COVID checks every single day. We were about ready to start fall camp and then our season gets canceled.”

With the Jackrabbits one win away from their first national title, they’ve also heard talk that the championship will carry an asterisk because some leagues and teams opted out of competing altogether.

“We’ve proven that we can win on the road, we’ve proven that we can win from behind, so the people that are saying there’s an asterisk behind this championship … they don’t know the mental and physical work we’ve been putting in for over a year now,” Backhaus said.

On Sunday, that struggle will have all been worth it for a first-time national champion.


The Mill Rebuilders.

While World War II raged, they restored the mill. From left: A.N. Hylton, C.A. Goad, Scott, Ken McCarter.

The history behind the Blue Ridge Parkway's most visited and renowned landmark--Mabry Mill--is as fascinating as the mill itself is delightful to visit. It was nearly lost when its builder died in 1936, and then threatened again in 1938.

The water-powered mill and its adjoining blacksmith shop were completed in 1910 by Edwin Boston Mabry, a hard-working enterpriser who had earned and saved his wages in the West Virginia coalfields. When he left the coalfields, he built a mill in the pastoral community of Meadows of Dan in southwestern Virginia. For the next 25 years he operated a forge, gristmill, sawmill and wheelwright shop, welcoming all who came by on horseback to bring a sack of shucked corn to be ground into meal.

At least one local grandmother happily recalls her days climbing atop the gristmill and pouring corn into the hopper while "Uncle Ed" turned a grist.

After the meal was sacked and tied, there was always time to visit and gossip with Ed Mabry's wife. Aunt Lizzie.

Mabry Mill's small stream provided Mabry with sufficient power for his gristmill, but less for his sawmill. Sawing a length of log was hard, slow work.

Logs were placed on a platform that moved to and from a large rotary saw. Mabry accumulated a head of water in his millrace and then released it in a rush pouring onto the millwheel.

Mabry was locally renowned as a man who could fix most anything, utilizing his skills as a blacksmith and wheelwright. Wagon wheels were his specialty. The rocky, eroded mountain roads shattered many a hub, splintered spokes and sprang ties loose from their rims.

Uncle Ed's best years were 1910-1925.

During this time he built a comfortable two-story frame house for himself and Lizzie, replacing their log cabin.

Then times turned hard. His back began to give out and a series of dry years diminished his water supply. He couldn't keep his mill in good repair or patch leaks in his millrace. He died a tired man in 1936.

Aunt Lizzie kept the gristmill going for a while, but old mills and waterwheels were taking their final turns.

But Lizzie Mabry got lucky. In 1936 land was being acquired by the Commonwealth of Virginia and deeded to the federal government for the Blue Ridge Parkway. The man in charge of parkway plans development was Stanley Abbott, a landscape architect of romantic horizons.

"I can't imagine a more creative job than locating the Blue Ridge Parkway, near the moss and lichens on the shake roof of Mabry Mill measured against huge panoramas that look out forever,” he said.

Abbott and his hand-picked chief-of-staff, Ed Abbuehl, traveled extensively over the lands designated for the parkway. From first sight they made certain that Mabry Mill be included in the land purchase and be preserved as a local cultural exhibit.

All that Mabry Mill has come to be-a grandfatherly welcome to stay awhile a gentle peek into the past a vine-draped paragon of greeting cards, calendars, photographs, paintings and letters to the folks at home-was saved, at least for the present time.

The early years of the parkway were a ferment of plans and projects with few guidelines. Despite inter-agency participation, slip-ups occurred. One involved Mabry Mill.

Abbott and his staff selected the more appealing and representative of the vacated buildings for preservation along the parkway. Mabry Mill was easily in this category. The remainder were designated for razing and removal, with the task assigned to the state. Road crews were still removing abandoned buildings in 1938 when the first park rangers reported for duty on the parkway.

The late Mac Dale came as the first ranger in Virginia south of Roanoke. His district extended from Tuggle's Gap in Floyd County, 52 miles southward to the North Carolina state line. Only the northern 20 or so miles had been graded and covered with crushed stone. Fortunately, this included Mabry Mill.

The mill fascinated Dale. “The more I saw of it, the more I explored and looked at it, the more certain I was that this was something really extraordinary,” he said. “The place did have an unkempt appearance weeds grew…the paths got a bit overgrown and not used and it looked pretty forlorn.”

Dale's daily routine required a constant presence to represent the parkway in everyday dealings with the community. One area of mutual benefit involved fire control-an aspect of Dale's job that had a coincidental bearing on the Second Saving of Mabry Mill.

He was busy during his first months training and working with volunteer fire fighters. Most fires were small affairs in woodlots and fields and Dale's method of clearing a fireline of exposed soil just ahead of the creeping fire proved superior to the prevailing practice of igniting a back fire.

The day Dale saved Mabry Mill was a "half past September morning with a feel of fall in the air.” He left his quarters in Hillsville and drove east on Route 58 to his entry on the parkway at Meadows of Dan.

“Two things were bothering me,” he has written. "One being that fire report I had to make out with some information I needed from the ranger office at Rocky Knob, and the other having to do with an access road south below the Pinnacles of Dan.”

If Dale had decided to head south, Mabry Mill would have been lost.

Luckily he decided to address the fire report first and turned north, with Mabry Mill en route.

"When I got to Mabry Mill I did a double take and a fast stop,” Dale wrote, "because right there in front of the mill was a state maintenance truck and a group of men with crowbars and sledgehammers-just going through the door into the mill. And this startled me and I climbed down ready to do battle. I said to myself. 'Hey boy, cool it. Let's find out what goes on. So I 'howed' at them and they 'howed' me back and I inquired and they told me that their orders were to knock down all of the buildings of the group and have them ready so they could be set on fire and out of the way the first snow. "

Dale asked if there might have been some kind of mistake. "The foreman reached in his pocket and said, 'Yes, today's orders, and when my boss says to do something he means for it to be done, and I'm sorry but I'm going to have to do what he said.’ Well, it took some convincing to have him decide, as I suggested, that he wait a bit and just go and clean a culvert and give me a chance to drive over to Hillsville-the nearest exchange-and get in touch with Roanoke and his office, and have them call his boss at Hillsville and confirm that this was not to be torn down. And he agreed to do that and with their tools, sledgehammers, axes and crowbars, they piled back into the truck and took off. I also took off. I made one of the fastest trips from there to Hillsville.

"Now the switchboard in Hillsville was located in the home of the nice lady who operated it. And when I got there and told her what I would like to do, gave her the Roanoke number and all, miracles started occurring. She managed almost immediately to get a circuit to Roanoke just going through Floyd and I think one other switchboard to do it. And then to add to the wonder of it. I got Sam Weems [the foreman's boss] on the line right away and he arranged a conference with Ed [Abbuehl] and Stan [Abbott] at that end and I explained the situation . and they told me to stand by right there and they'd call back."

Dale spent several long hours sweating out the return call. Finally, it came through, directing him to go to the Hillsville office of the Virginia road department and pick up an order cancelling the demolition. Mabry Mill was saved again.

Dale's timely arrival rescued Mabry Mill, but the effects of weathering and neglect were edging it into oblivion. Aunt Lizzie had sold all of Uncle Ed's tools and iron equipment to a junk dealer. This included the millwheel shaft. Thus bereft, the mill was a slowly melting shamble, with its waterwheel leaning against its side.

Then World War II began and most of the parkway staff, including Abbott, Abbuehl and Dale, joined the military service. Ken McCarter, a landscape architect and veteran park service employee, was assigned to manage a parkway program that was almost on total hold.

Ironically, the war may have served to save Mabry Mill again. ·

"Things were rather slack during the war years," according to Abbott, "and apparently Ken decided to make drawings of the mill for the Historic American Building Survey. The survey had certain guidelines for preparing these drawings which Ken followed, measuring all aspects of the old mill including the big paddle wheel. The mill was restored under Ken's guidance and the drawings are in the Library of Congress.”

When Abbott. Abbuehl and Dale and all the other staffers who loved Mabry Mill returned to the parkway after the war, they were greeted with a wonderful sight at mile 176.2. The mill was completely rebuilt. The wheel was turning in operation so true to its day and time that you almost expected to see Uncle Ed Mabry just inside the door turning a grist of meal.

Bill Lord is the author of the definitive two volume "Blue Ridge Parkway Guide." He lives in Pittsburgh. Pa.


Nascar Ready To Race Into The Future With Its Next Gen Car

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 05: NASCAR unveils the seventh generation of the NASCAR Cup Series . [+] Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota cars during the NASCAR Next Gen Car Announcement on May 05, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Nascar finally unveiled its next generation racecar in Charlotte, North Carolina, last week. What had only been seen in testing with camouflaged or generic wrap designs while testing was finally shown to the world.

The debut of the car is a year overdue but is the final piece of sort of a rebirth of the sport. Some of those pieces were intended, some not, but when combined could be setting Nascar up to reach new heights.

The new car began as the “Gen-7” in 2018 at Nascar’s Research and Development Center as a collection of ideas, and dreams, that would combine safety and style into a racecar that has not been seen on a Nascar track for many years. During its development the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) that race in the sport came together in an unprecedented alliance.

“At the very beginning of this journey, when we were trying to draw lines around what we wanted with Next Gen, one of the things that all three OEMs agreed on is more styling relevancy,” David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, said. “We wanted to get away from that big, boxy greenhouse. To do that we had to accept the challenge that we're going to have cars that aren't as neatly in that aero box that we've been used to over the years.”

The cars submitted by the three OEMs, a Toyota Camry TRD, Ford Mustang, and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, represent not only the latest in safety advancements, but look closer to their street counterparts than any stock cars raced in the sport in decades.

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In its early years Nascar gained popularity by racing cars that mirrored those seen in showrooms across the country. The automotive manufacturers reveled in the action on the track and the phrase “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” was very relevant in Nascar’s early years.

As the sport evolved however, and racecars got faster, safety dictated that the product seen on the track change. The death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 motivated Nascar to make the racing as safe as possible. Softer walls were added and advancements in the car did indeed lead to safer racing on the track. But those advancements didn’t allow for much in the way of styling. It was a tradeoff that Nascar was willing to take to keep its drivers safe.

During the ensuing decades Nascar’s popularity waned. Aided in part by an economic crisis and an overall change in the way fans digest sports, once packed grandstands saw sparse crowds many tracks were even forced to remove stands and look for creative ways to sell tickets and fill what seats were left.

In its early years, Nascar gained popularity by racing cars that mirrored those seen in showrooms . [+] across the country.

ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

Nascar made changes to the schedule, dropping once popular tracks, moving, and even eliminating dates for races, and even the way its champions were determined. They introduced a new points system and a playoff format in hopes of creating “ninth inning” moments like were seen in other sports. Finally, they added “Stage” racing, manufactured cautions during a race that allow for more strategy.

Despite all the changes, Nascar’s popularity fell from the highs it enjoyed around 2006 and there seemed to be no momentum to move it forward. Fans still bought tickets, but the sellout races that were once common became a rarity, and the once high TV ratings the sport enjoyed plateaued. Nascar was trudging along in the slow lane it seemed and was searching for an entrance ramp back to the superhighway.

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world, and sports, early in 2020. Like other professional sports, Nascar was forced into exile. They didn’t sit idle, however. Behind the scenes executives and others inside the industry worked on getting its product back on track. It did so only a few short months later returning to racing in May of last year.

Nascar would build a blueprint that other sports would look to and it became the only professional sport in America to complete its entire schedule, crowning a popular Cup champion in November. To get there Nascar had to pull off what once seemed impossible, shifting dates, and tracks, sometimes racing at the same one in succession. They created a “bubble,” ditched practice sessions and qualifying, greeting the world with the bizarre sight of a full field of racecars charging by completely empty grandstands.

But in the end, they did it. And with no other sport in play for much of the first part of that return, more eyes then ever watched, and stayed until the end.

There were of course those who lost out in the COVID 19 madness. Tracks lost races, and of course fans could only watch from afar, at least until later in the year when limited numbers were allowed back in, socially distanced of course.

And the debut of the Next Gen car was forced to wait for another year.

The safety advancements made to the cars after the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. didn’t allow for much . [+] in the way of styling. It was a tradeoff that Nascar was willing to take.

Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“It was the right thing to do,” Nascar president Steve Phelps said. “Obviously, we couldn't get parts. We didn't know when we were going to be able to test, and so the timeline initially… the timeline was tight. Do I think we would have made it without COVID? I think the answer is yes. Has the extra time and development been helpful for us? I think so.”

Had the car made its original debut this past February at the season opening Daytona 500, it would have been big news. But prior to COVID Nascar had not been sitting idly by. Already a new schedule had been planned. One that included new tracks, more road courses, a new venue for the All-Star Race moving it from its normal track, and even a race on dirt. In normal times that announcement would have been big news, and while it was big when it was finally revealed, the thunder had quieted a bit after COVID showed that Nascar could turn on a dime the All-Star Race had been forced to move already, and in order to make up a race in August, Nascar raced on the famed road course at Daytona for the first time, something that was originally supposed to happen this season.

There was something else that happened during the COVID ravaged season As America had a reckoning with racism, Nascar did as well. The sport, steeped in traditions born in the South, some from the Jim Crow era, embraced diversity rallying around its lone Black driver in a display of unity seen around the world. They followed up by banning the Confederate flag and pushing for a sport that was more inclusive than ever. And that seemed to pay off handsomely. By the end of 2020, NBA legend Michael Jordon, and entertainer Pitbull were team owners. And with more eyes on the sport, and the new display of diversity NFL star Alvin Kamara was a team partner, and NFL player Bernard Pollard was himself a fan watching races and interacting with other fans on social media.

Now comes the final piece, the Next Gen car. Underneath the composite body are elements found in many high-performance street cars rack-and-pinion steering, independent rear suspension, wider, lower profile tires mounted on aluminum rims and a new transaxle that will accommodate a hybrid engine combination in later models.

Most importantly for fans, the cars look the part. They are closer in appearance than ever before to the same cars seen in showrooms.

The new racecars are closer in appearance than ever before to the same cars seen in showrooms.

“We've been saying this for years. This time it actually looks like it,” driver Joey Logano said. “We did a video shoot in Hickory, North Carolina. It had the race car right next to it, parked side by side. That's it, finally we got it. It looked like a GT 500. It looked mean, aggressive the grille looked right. It looks like you can drive it down the road. The cops might pull you over, but it has the same look. To that point I say, Finally. We always said it looks closer. I think we got it finally.”

And that look makes the OEMs smile as well.

“That's always been an important part of the sport, an important part of NASCAR, win on Sunday, sell on Monday,” Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance said. “Now that we've got more relevance, anybody that wants to go buy a Mustang, it just resonates even more for them.

“We think even for an F 150 customer, if it looks more like a Ford Mustang, it is more clearly Ford to them, and they're going to be happy and proud of Ford on track in that Mustang and go buy a F 150 on Monday. It is good for the brand, just not that nameplate.”

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 05: (L-R) Host Shannon Spake, NASCAR President Steve Phelps, Steve . [+] O’Donnell, Chief Racing Development Officer and John Probst, SVP, Racing Innovation unveil the seventh generation of the NASCAR Cup Series Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota cars during the NASCAR Next Gen Car Announcement on May 05, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Nascar has come full circle, a full lap if you will. From the heights of popularity to the lows of the last few years. They have been responding, however. Some of it intentional: new tracks and a new schedule, some of it unintentional, brought on by COVID 19. Now the final piece is in place, the Next Gen car will take the green flag at next year’s Daytona 500. It will lead a sport that has never been more inclusive, more diverse, and more competitive than ever.

“You look at the competition on the racetrack over the last year and a quarter, it's arguably the best racing we've ever had,” Phelps said. “10 winners in 11 races, the competitiveness that exists, the cars are racy, and the drivers are driving the wheels off these cars.

“I'm excited to see what our drivers are going to do when they climb into these cars at the Daytona 500 next year. I do believe we're going to see some phenomenal racing just based on what we know about this car and the features that are in this car that would allow for really great racing.”

Nascar is racing into a still somewhat uncertain future. But has it has shown in the last few years they aren’t afraid to take chances and respond to changing conditions. With the lessons learned from COVID and led by the most relevant race car it has had in recent memory, the green flag should be waving for many years to come.


More people died than were born last year in more than half of NC’s counties

By Hannah Critchfield

The news during 2020 was filled with tragic scenes of families visiting their senior loved ones through windows, health care professionals breaking down over the lonely deaths of patients in intensive care wards, and funerals carried out without families receiving the caresses and comfort of loved ones.

There have been some points of hope. For one thing, the Tar Heel state still experienced more births than deaths overall last year, according to provisional resident data provided by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. In total, 115,076 residents of North Carolina were born, while 87,987 community members died.

But the numbers belie a grim reality that for the first time in a century – perhaps ever – more people died than were born in 64 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, driven by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The actual number may be higher. Local data suggests even more communities may have been impacted by this troubling trend.

The North Carolina data mirrors an increased rate of death at the national level. In 2020, approximately 3,358,814 resident deaths occurred in the United States, compared to 2,854,838 deaths in final data for the previous year. It’s unclear how many people were born in the country last year, as the CDC is still gathering data.

Provisional death data suggests the country’s death rate increased by 16 percent from what it was in 2019, with COVID-19 as the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer, completely pushing suicide out of the top 10 causes of death.

Age-adjusted death rates for the 10 leading causes of death in 2019: United States, 2018 and 2019. Data/ graph: National Center for Health Statistics/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Provisional number of leading underlying causes of death — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2020. Graph, data courtesy: CDC/ National Center for Health Statistics

In the United States overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported an excessive number of deaths last year, which the agency largely attributed to the impact of COVID-19. Provisional death data suggests the country’s death rate increased by 16 percent from what it was in 2019.

Looking local

Part of the reason for the uncertainty around each county’s death rates has to do with bookkeeping. Most North Carolina counties track death and birth information by place of occurrence – where the person was at the time of the event – rather than by the person’s place of residence.

“How birth and death works is that you can live in a county all your life, have a house and a family there, but the county where you are born is where that birth certificate will be recorded – and wherever you die is the same way,” said Crystal Gilliard, register of deeds for Union County. “Because that’s never going to change.”

In contrast, state health departments and the CDC collect this information by county of residence – which can be a bit more murky, county recorders who deal with death and birth records on the local level said. Existing state-level data additionally does not include people with out-of-state residency.

In Union County, among the 10 largest counties by population, 1,562 people died and just 914 people were born. In Gaston County, another top-10 jurisdiction, 2,658 people died, while 1,794 were born. On the state DHHS data, both counties are listed as having more births than deaths, however.

“We’re kind of a bedroom community to Charlotte,” explained Gilliard. “A lot of people, especially on our western side, go to Charlotte for their doctor’s appointments or to have children, but they live in Union County. If Atrium Hospital here in Union cannot accommodate a person, if they need a little bit more help than they could give them here, they would be taken to Mecklenburg County to one of their hospitals. You have a lot of that dynamic as well.”

For many rural counties with aging populations, it’s become normal to see more deaths than births in a given year, especially as the average age of the population increases. This was the case for Union County as well, but according to Gilliard, the trend significantly worsened in the last year, with a sharper uptick in deaths than usual.

“Our number of deaths does increase a little bit each year, by about 30 annually,” she said. “From 2019 to 2020, it went up by 248 people. According to the Union County Health Department, 206 of those deaths were from COVID.”

‘I don’t think it accurately reflects the strain’

Other counties experienced this excess loss of life for the first time.

Buncombe County, a western area containing the large HCA-run Mission Hospital in Asheville, also reported more deaths than births for the first time in its recorded history. That didn’t even occur during the 1918 flu pandemic, according to the county register of deeds, Drew Reisinger.

“It took a pretty substantial event for that to happen,” Reisinger said. “In Buncombe County alone, our excess deaths were entirely made up of COVID deaths.”

The county had 4,114 people die within their jurisdiction in 2020, according to his office’s data, while 4,055 people were born. The state figures also show there were more deaths than births in Buncombe County, but report a significantly smaller number of each – with just 2,312 births and 2,671 deaths – assigning those other deaths to the decedents’ home counties.

“The CDC and public health departments break it down by county of residence, which is frustrating,” said Reisinger. “Because I see a lot of COVID deaths happen in Buncombe County, and then they get traced back to being a Florida death, or a Connecticut death.”

In addition to North Carolinians, people from Tennessee, Wisconsin, Georgia, West Virginia, Ohio and Washington died in Buncombe County last year, according to death certificates reviewed by North Carolina Health News.

The county has the largest health system in western North Carolina, meaning many in-state residents from other counties found their way to Buncombe for more complex care during the pandemic – a phenomenon that has been the case for births among people with high-risk pregnancies in years past.

COVID-19 placed an unprecedented burden on the county, however, Reisinger said.

“When they’re complicated COVID patients, they often got sent to the regional hub that has more specialists, better heart doctors, and a bigger ICU with more beds,” he said. “Locally, Mission Hospital and our local health care providers saw a massive uptick in deaths that were instead reported back to other counties.

“I don’t think it accurately reflects the strain that we’re seeing on our local nurses and our local health systems in these metropolitan areas that have these big hospitals,” Reisinger added.

Defining someone’s place of death or birth by the place that they reside can be subjective.

A University of North Carolina student may die within Orange County, for example, but their parents may live out-of-state. Funeral directors and physicians filling out death certificates often take their cues from family members, county registrars of deeds said, who may opt to list their loved one’s place of residence as whatever they view as their more “permanent” home.

“We see different funerals draw up death certificates in different ways,” said Reisinger. “But it’s usually how the decedent’s family views it.”

Looking to 2021

Early in the pandemic, jokes about a “baby boom” as a result of sheltering in place flourished. But an influx of “corona-babies” in 2021 is unlikely. This year will likely see trends of lower births, according to early research by economists and pollsters.

A June 2020 report from the Guttmacher Institute found that almost half of surveyed cisgender women of childbearing age changed plans to have children due to the pandemic. A third said they wanted to get pregnant later or have fewer children. A Brookings analysis conducted in December of that year, which looked at the rising unemployment rate during the pandemic, predicted 206,000 fewer births in 2021 in the U.S.

“We incorporated this into our forecast by examining the experience of the 1918 Spanish Flu,” authors Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip B. Levine wrote in the study. “Back then, every spike in the death rate attributable to the flu was associated with a dramatic reduction in births nine months later.”

The availability of safe vaccines that appear to be effective against existing COVID-19 variants will hopefully stem the rise in deaths experienced over the last year. It’s thus hard to predict if similar trends will continue in North Carolina into 2021.

State-level data for North Carolina is provisional – meaning we won’t know the true death and birth toll for last year until DHHS has finished gathering all official certificates filled out in 2020.

This process will likely take a good deal of time, as North Carolina still relies on a paper-based death and birth registry system, one of just three states to still do so.


The Fiver – Five British Things to Look Forward to in 2021

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2020 is a year that seemed to take forever to end. The COVID pandemic resulted in lockdowns that shut out most of the ways we would pass the time, including travel. Fortunately, the new year brings with it new hope, as the rollout of vaccines may perhaps get us back to life and opportunities that were denied to us in the preceding months. Britain certainly offers a number of things to look forward to this year from culture to games that we couldn’t experience under COVID. There’s no telling yet how the lingering effects of the pandemic will affect the following events, but at least they give us something to expect.

Coventry City of Culture

The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport designates one UK city per year as a City of Culture. This designation not only highlights the art and culture of that area with festivals and events, but grants it a greater opportunity to host such arts awards as the Turner Prize, Brit Awards, Man Booker Prize, Stirling Prize, and more. Hosted by a city every four years, Coventry’s year as City of Culture will begin in May 2021 due to the pandemic and will be sure to be a much-needed boost to its economy.

Monopoly

This live-action version of the board game that normally leaves you and your mates hating each other gets a live-action series of challenges in 2021. Hasbro and Gamepath have teamed together to turn “Park Lane” and “Mayfair” into an immersive gameplay experience at a presently undisclosed location in the West End. Timed to last roughly 75 minutes (as opposed to the hours that the came can normally take), teams will need to race across the “board” to complete challenges and buy up properties. Due to launch in Autumn, exact dates seem to be up to the end of the pandemic, at which points tickets should go on sale.

Rugby League World Cup

The 2021 Rugby League World Cup (separate from the Rugby Union World Cup in New Zealand) will mark the first time that the men’s, women’s, and wheelchair competitions will be brought together in one location and at one time instead of being spread out. This year’s final is set to take place in Manchester at Old Trafford in November. Other venues for the competition matches include London’s Emirates Stadium, Liverpool’s Anfield, St. James Park in Newcastle, and both Headingley Stadium and Elland Road in Leeds, amongst others.

Theater and Cinemas

One thing that many people are looking forward to regardless of whether they’re traveling to the UK is the return of live theater and new movies. With the tier system expected to expire in March 2021, the West End and cinemas throughout the UK are preparing to reopen with plenty of shows and new movies to greet audiences. Blockbuster films set to come to cinemas in 2021 include The King’s Man, James Bond’s No Time to Die, Peter Rabbit 2, and Death on the Nile.

UEFA Euro 2020

Yes, you read that right. Much like the Summer Olympics that were due to take place this past summer, the Euro Cup football competition had to move its matches from June and July 2020 to June and July 2021 due to the Coronavirus. The cup will see twenty-four teams from UEFA member countries play in twelve cities throughout Europe to find out who represents the continent in the world’s great sport. For countries like Scotland, this is especially momentous as it will be that nation’s first appearance in 25 years. What’s more, Gareth Southgate’s 2018 England squad that made it to the fourth place in the World Cup will be back to improve on their success.

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About John Rabon

The Hitchhiker's Guide has this to say about John Rabon: When not pretending to travel in time and space, eating bananas, and claiming that things are "fantastic", John lives in North Carolina. There he works and writes, eagerly awaiting the next episodes of Doctor Who and Top Gear. He also enjoys good movies, good craft beer, and fighting dragons. Lots of dragons.


Fresh Off WarnerMedia Merger Reveal, Discovery Touts 2021-22 Streaming And Linear Programming

Discovery, a day after announcing a landmark, $43 billion merger with AT&T’s WarnerMedia, delivered its first upfront presentation in two years to tout 2021-22 programming.

The virtual presentation promises a record investment in content for the company’s linear and digital outlets, including recently launched streaming service Discovery+. In taking the wraps off the WarnerMedia deal Monday, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said the combined company will be spending $20 billion a year on programming. Today’s upfront news didn’t come with a specific budget attached.

Cable TV brands under the Discovery tent include Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Magnolia Network, Animal Planet, MotorTrend, Travel Channel and Science Channel.

Related Story

Barry Diller Dubs AT&T's WarnerMedia Sale "The Great Escape," Flays Telco For String Of Business Flops

Zaslav hosted the event along with Jon Steinlauf, Discovery&rsquos Chief U.S. Advertising Sales Officer. Jim Keller, EVP of Digital Ad Sales and Advanced Advertising, presented Discovery&rsquos Advanced Audience Solutions, a combination of advanced ad products and cross-platform measurement capabilities. The goal of those tools is to optimize audience reach beyond the usual metrics of age and gender.

Lisa Holme, Group SVP, Content and Commercial Strategy, is highlighting Discovery+ originals. Kathleen Finch, Chief Lifestyle Brands Officer, is covering Discovery&rsquos lifestyle brands, including the top three networks for women, HGTV, TLC and Food Network. Nancy Daniels, Chief Brand Officer, Discovery and Factual, is introducing shows for Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel.

Here are new originals, with descriptions provided by Discovery:

Celebrity IOU: Joyride (new series premieres July 26) On Celebrity IOU: Joyride, master mechanic Ant Anstead and car guru Cristy Lee team up with celebrities Renee Zellweger, Mary J. Blige, Tony Hawk, Octavia Spencer, James Marsden and Danny Trejo as they roll up their sleeves to create automotive masterpieces for someone special in their lives. In each episode, viewers will hear the inspiring story behind the star&rsquos relationship
with this person and the reasons why they are so deserving of a one-of-a-kind car transformation. In the end, audiences will be just as blown away as the recipient when they receive the ultimate joyride.

Drew&rsquos Dream Car (new special premieres Q4 2021) Drew&rsquos Dream Car with Ant Anstead will bring viewers along for the ride as Property Brothers&rsquo Drew Scott enlists the help of master mechanic Ant Anstead to design and build the custom car of his dreams. Inspired by Drew&rsquos childhood fascination with classic 60s sports cars, the final build evolves into a true marriage of old and new as it looks to a greener future. Roles are
reversed as Drew becomes the client whose dreams must be realized. With Ant&rsquos guidance and expertise, and some creative input from the entire Scott family, Drew rolls up his sleeves to create his very own piece of motoring history.

DOCUMENTARIES

My Name is Bulger (new documentary premieres June 17) – My Name is Bulger weaves its way through the stories of Boston gangster James &lsquoWhitey&rsquo Bulger and his bother Bill Bulger who served as State Senate President in Massachusetts for nearly 20 years. The film strips away the hysteria of news headlines to tell the story of a unique American family who crave to be judged for who they are and what they&rsquove done, not what their
infamous relative did.

Smartest Kids in The World (new documentary premieres August 16) – Chronicling the journey of four American teenagers who study abroad in countries that dramatically outperform the United States in education, Smartest Kids in The World gives voice
to students, hearing first-hand their discoveries and insight about how to reform U.S. high school education.

Generation Growth (new documentary premieres August 23) – Health and educational outcomes in low-income areas across America are staggering low. Stephen Ritz, a Bronx educator, is on a mission to change all that. He developed an incredibly successful indoor gardening curriculum that allows children to grow vegetables in the classroom,
helping them eat better, be more engaged with school and give them pathways for jobs.
Generation Growth follows Ritz as he expands his program throughout the country, bringing hope, health and opportunity to those communities and students who need it the most.

Crutch (new documentary premieres October 18) – Crutch chronicles the gravity-defying life of Bill Shannon, an internationally renowned artist, break-dancer and skate punk&mdashon crutches. The film follows Shannon&rsquos extraordinary journey: the history of his medical odyssey and his struggles with chronic pain, the evolution of his crutch dancing and skating, his rise to become a globally-known performance artist, and his transformation from angry skate punk to an international hero.

Lily Topples the World – Lily Topples the World is the coming of age story of 20-year-old Lily Hevesh, the world&rsquos most acclaimed domino artist and the only woman in her field who has over one billion YouTube views. Filmed over three years across countless cities and featuring appearances from Jimmy Fallon, Katy Perry, Will Smith, YouTuber Casey Neistat and exciting Gen-Z creators, Lily Topples the World highlights an unlikely American tale where passion and artistry make dreams come true.

No Responders Left Behind This feature documentary follows 9/11 responder and activist John Feal who, along with comedian Jon Stewart and FDNY hero Ray Pfeifer, fought U.S. Congress to ensure that thousands of terminally ill 9/11 First Responders got the health care they deserved. But when Ray is diagnosed with brain cancer from his exposure to those Ground Zero toxins, John finds himself in the fight of his life to guarantee that the legacy of all 9/11 Responders like Ray, is kept alive forever.

40 Year Old Property Virgin (new series premieres May 26) – From free laundry to mom’s home cooked meals, the perks of living with parents have kept some prospective homebuyers in their childhood bedrooms far longer than originally planned. In the
new discovery+ original series 40 Year Old Property Virgin, a unique set of house hunters are finally ready to give up their rent-free lifestyle and search for their first home. The series follows an array of first-time buyers as they try to find their first place all while navigating the opinions of family, friends and nosy neighbors.

The House My Wedding Bought(new series premieres June 16) – Designer and real estate expert Breegan Jane (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) will help engaged couples tackle two of life&rsquos biggest decisions in the new discovery+ series The House
My Wedding Bought. Available to stream starting Wednesday, June 16, the series follows
Breegan as she helps couples on a budget who want to pay for a dream wedding and put a down payment on a house. During the series, Breegan and her clients tour wedding venues and potential homes at different price points to help determine the smartest way to divvy up the budget and get the best of both worlds.

Martha Gets Down and Dirty (new series premieres July 1) – Trusted lifestyle expert Martha Stewart will let her hair down as she showcases her seasonal gardening know-how, lifestyle and entertainment tips from her Bedford, NY property in new discovery+ series Martha Gets Down and Dirty. During the eight-episode series, the Emmy award-winning television personality and The New York Times bestselling author will prep her farm for spring and summer, as well as share fun summer decor and entertainment ideas with help from her longtime friend and Creative Director Kevin Sharkey and right-hand gardener Ryan McCallister. Martha&rsquos superfans and celebrity friends also will reach out for video check-ins to get her valuable and cheeky counsel on their home projects.

Cheap Old Houses (new series premieres August 11) Ethan and Elizabeth Finkelstein, founders of the addictive social media phenomenon Cheap Old Houses that touts more than 1.5 million followers and counts A-list celebrities among its fans, will star in a 10-episode series of the same name this summer. Cameras will follow Ethan and
Elizabeth as they visit cities and small towns across America to tour low-priced older houses available for under $150,000 and share stories of the homes&rsquo historical significance and architectural uniqueness. With Elizabeth&rsquos background as a historic preservationist and their shared passion for saving old property gems, the couple will imagine what the houses could look like with proper restorations&mdashand ultimately will choose which houses to feature on their famous Instagram feed.

Selling the Hamptons Selling the Hamptons follows seven Hamptons-based Nest Seekers real estate agents–Bianca D’Alessio, JB Andreassi, Michael Fulfree and Peggy Zabakolas, Kenny Arias, Mia Calabrese, Hanna Coleman– as they showcase the enclave&rsquos stunningly luxurious properties. The series spotlights the region’s top selling season as the agents hustle to make their mark in the super-exclusive East End market.

Weekend Getaway with Michelle Buteau(new series premieres June 10) – Michelle Buteau is a hilarious comedian, talented actor, accomplished author, and loving wife and mother of twin toddlers &ndash and she hasn&rsquot had a moment to herself in years. In Weekend Getaway with Michelle Buteau, executive produced by Queen Latifah, she takes a break from home life and hits the road for a few weekends of much-deserved fun, food and wild times with her comedian pals. In each episode, Michelle and a friend take a no-judgment, potentially debaucherous journey to locales across the country, from the gulf coast of Mississippi with Tig Notaro to New Orleans with Sasheer Zamata to Malibu with Chelsea Peretti.

PARANORMAL & UNEXPLAINED

The Haunted Museum (new series premieres Q4 2021) – The creepy collection of haunted artifacts housed inside Zak Bagans&rsquo Haunted Museum are getting the spotlight in The Haunted Museum, a new horror anthology series produced in collaboration with filmmaker Eli Roth. The series will present the frightening and hellish tales behind the spooky relics on display in Zak Bagans&rsquo (Ghost Adventures) Las Vegas museum.
Bagans, a devoted collector of the macabre, is opening his museum vaults and sharing the secrets and stories behind a curated selection of his most prized haunted items – by way of scripted shorts produced by Roth and his accredited team, and with featured commentary from Bagans himself.

Ghost Hunters (new series premieres Q4 2021) – The revival of the series that started it all is here. Ghost Hunters original team leader Jason Hawes, joined by Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango and Shari DeBenedetti are taking back the paranormal reins in epic haunted locations. And don’t be surprised to see some familiar faces and special guests join the team on the hunt in this all-new season.

Curse of the Chippendales (new series premieres Fall 2021) – Curse of the Chippendales tells the story of how the famous dance troupe took the LA nightclub scene by storm and ended with international fame, untold wealth, bizarre murder plots and multiple deaths trapped in their legacy. Their brand became a multi-million-dollar global venture,
successful beyond their wildest dreams. But of three unlikely dreamers who were there at the beginning, only one would make it out alive. Driven by extensive video and photo archive, including never-before-seen footage and a nostalgia-filled soundtrack, viewers will be directly transported back to the &lsquo80s, into one of the most unexpected true crime stories of the decade. And all fueled by one thing: greed.

Chasing Ghislaine (new series premieres Q4 2021) – From executive producer and international best-selling author James Patterson and New York Times best-selling author and journalist Vicky Ward comes an explosive investigative documentary series, Chasing Ghislaine. Ghislaine Maxwell is many things: a fallen socialite, an alleged sexual abuser and an accused sex trafficker of minors. But with the spotlight often focused on her employer, one-time lover and accused accomplice Jeffrey Epstein, the full
breadth of Maxwell’s alleged crimes and the many vital secrets she still keeps have remained closely guarded – until now. Chasing Ghislaine will change everything we think we know about the Epstein saga and the woman at the center of it all.

Confessions of a Crime Queen (new series premieres Q4 2022) – From executive producer Curtis &ldquo50 Cent&rdquo Jackson, Confessions of A Crime Queen is a first of its kind true crime anthology series that brings to life riveting, headline-making stories by
combining documentary and scripted genres. Each season of the anthology will focus on the true story of one larger-than-life woman who created and led a multi-million-dollar criminal empire before a dramatic fall from power, portrayed by an A-list actress who will also interview the real life female crime lord at the center of the story.

DISCOVERY CHANNEL

Getaway Driver An event like no other, Michelle Rodriguez brings the ultimate driving fantasy to life in Getaway Driver. This eight-episode competition series features 24 elite drivers from drift champions to street racers to hotshot YouTubers who compete to prove they have the skill behind the wheel and the mental toughness to outrun and out-drive the competition in a massive nearly 60-acre compound filled with obstacles. Part Baby Driver, part Grand Theft Auto, the Getaway Drivers will put it all on the line &ndash sacrificing their own cars for the opportunity to be the wheelman in a real-life car chase. The rules are simple… evade the pursuers and escape the compound to score
some cold hard cash.

Mating Season (w/t) (Discovery+) – Mating Season brings together the fun of relationship competition shows with the mating rituals of the Animal Kingdom, spotlighting what happens when humans look to the natural world for help in the love department. Animals have courtship down to a science with tried and true techniques for finding a mate that are far removed from any of the distractions or complications
of modern human dating. Following eligible women and men as they leave behind their human habits and attempt to find true love animal style, Mating Season asks the question: Can mating like animals help find love as humans?

Mountain Love (Discovery+) Mountain Love follows five people from cities and suburbs who decide to move-in with their long-distance partners who live way off-grid in some of the most remote corners of the country. Will their relationships survive this real-world experiment as they take the ultimate plunge to leave civilization – and indoor plumbing – behind? From an off-the-grid couple looking to become a “throuple” with the addition of a sister-wife, to a mountain mama who’s convinced her younger, city-loving man to join her in the remote ranch in Arizona, these complex relationships will need to endure more than just the elements. They&rsquoll need to survive each other in the process.

Naked & Afraid of Love (Discovery+) – Today, dating has become filtered &ndash through the clothes we wear, jobs we have and lives we share on social media. But what if it was all stripped away leaving room for only our most primal wants and needs, and exposing who we really are in the process? Discovery seeks to answer these questions and more on Naked & Afraid of Love, a groundbreaking take on modern dating that is the ultimate blend of survival and romance unlike anything viewers have seen. By stripping it all away – beginning with the clothes – Naked & Afraid of Love sets out to uncover
what happens when complete strangers attempt to find true love while working together to survive the elements and each other on an unforgettable island paradise.

On the Roam(w/t) (Discovery+) – Actor Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Aquaman, Dune) has blazed a path of his own in Hollywood, fearlessly taking on new challenges and roles as an artist. On The Roam follows Momoa as he searches for the fearless artists and dreamers who are the masters of their craft.

Serengeti II –Discovery journeys back to the vast, nearly untouched plains of Tanzania revisiting some of our favorite faces and meeting new ones along the way in Serengeti II. The ground-breaking series highlights the majestic animals who call the Serengeti their home and their day-to-day lives living together. Created and produced by Emmy®-winner Simon Fuller (American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance) and directed and produced by Emmy®-winning wildlife filmmaker John Downer (Penguin: Spy in The Huddle), the continuation of the six-part series gives unrivaled access to one of the most pristine and unspoiled corners of Africa. Narrated by Academy Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actress Lupita Nyong&rsquoo, the revolutionary series follows the heartwarming stories of a cast of African wildlife showcasing the dramatic moments
that make each day of survival on the Serengeti a feat.

Shark Academy (Discovery+) – Shark Academy follows eight men and women who will compete to secure a coveted crew spot on shark scientist, Dr. Riley Elliott&rsquos next great shark diving expedition. It&rsquos an opportunity of a lifetime for these shark enthusiasts with non-traditional backgrounds to leap ahead in the competitive world of shark research, embarking on the adventure of a lifetime in hopes of making their dreams a reality. The recruits will work and live together on a research vessel for six weeks, as Riley and his crack team of pros put them to the test to see who has what it really takes.

The Hop (w/t) – The Hop will follow a loud and diverse set of builders and mechanics from four elite custom lowrider garages in the country as they devote their lives to making their lowrider-builds dominate the world of lowrider building and car hopping. This team will add in super-sized hydraulics, so their custom lowriders launch eight or ten feet in the air. Viewers will watch their custom cars, from building all the way to their trash-talking hop competitions, that can happen at huge car shows&mdashor at a downtown LA street corner at midnight. These garages must juggle the everyday business of running their shops – building lowriders for customers while also crafting vehicles to face off against rivals in hop contests. against rivals in hop contests. Because in the
lowriding game, winning equals business with tens of thousands of dollars at stake in each vehicle.

Who Wants to Be an Astronaut? (w/t, Discovery+) – Have you ever looked up at the sky and wondered what it would be like to travel to space? Discovery has ordered Who Wants to Be an Astronaut?, produced by Boat Rocker Studios through Matador Content and BoomTown Content. This one-of-a-kind series offers ordinary people the chance to do something extraordinary &ndash travel from Earth into space where they&rsquoll live aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for eight days. The 8-part competition series, set for
2022, will be the first of its kind to feature the real-life adventures of space tourism.

My Lottery Dream Home (new episodes premiere Fridays) – Superstar designer David Bromstad will share his top tips for luxurious living with lucky homebuyers in new episodes of HGTV&rsquos My Lottery Dream Home, Fridays at 8 p.m. ET/PT. David will travel the country to tour for-sale homes with the suddenly rich. In each episode, he
will show them how to maximize their windfall and live their best lives in a new place that fulfills their wish list. The new episodes of My Lottery Dream Home also will be available to stream on Discovery+ each Friday.

Property Brothers: Forever Home (new season premieres May 26) – Home renovation superstars Drew and Jonathan Scott will rework humdrum houses into enduring family dream homes in the new season of popular HGTV series Property Brothers: Forever Home. The fresh episodes, which also will be available to stream the same day on
Discovery+, will follow the Brothers as they unlock a home&rsquos full potential through renovation and redesign to create the perfect place that families won&rsquot want to leave. With reimagined floorplans, creative storage solutions, stunning kitchen and main bedroom suite reveals, the Brothers will reignite homeowners&rsquo passion for their forever home.

Christina on the Coast (new season premieres June 3) – Endless opportunities and exciting adventures are on the horizon for real estate expert and designer Christina Haack in 14 new episodes of her hit HGTV docu-series Christina on the Coast. The new season will follow Christina, a busy mom of three, as her SoCal design business expands with a new team and a booming client list of homeowners seeking renovations that
spotlight her sought-after style. While she juggles a busy family life and a flourishing business, the author and entrepreneur also will face personal challenges head on and place a special emphasis on her wellness journey and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Vacation House Rules (new season premieres June 5) – Contractor and real estate expert Scott McGillivray proves that homeowners don&rsquot need a million bucks to own the vacation home of their dreams in HGTV series Vacation House Rules. Relying on his years of smart real estate and renovation experience, Scott will teach families how to take their vacation property and unlock its full rental potential. With his guidance, even the most neglected and unlivable properties will be transformed into unique, gorgeous&mdashand profitable&mdashvacation homes for visitors to enjoy. In season two, a gloomy cottage is transformed into a family-friendly retreat, a lakeside cabin is elevated to a five-star winter sanctuary, an abandoned art studio gets upgraded to a chic vacation rental.

Two Steps Home (new series premieres June 16) – Home renovation experts Jon Pierre and Mary Tjon-Joe-Pin will take a two-step approach to guide clients through the oftentimes daunting process of selling their current house and buying a new one that perfectly fits their needs in Two Steps Home. In step one, Mary, a designer, will employ creative and budget-conscious design ideas to ensure the client&rsquos house sells for top
dollar. For step two, Jon Pierre, a real estate agent, will use his savvy know-how of the Houston market to find the client a new property that meets most of their wish list but needs a few renovations to make it perfect. Once their current home sells, Jon Pierre and Mary will invest the extra profit to buy and overhaul the family&rsquos new home.

Hot Mess House (new season premieres June 17) – Organization expert and coach Cassandra Aarssen will deliver more life-changing home transformations for disorganized clients suffering from clutter and messiness in a new season of HGTV&rsquos Hot Mess House. Six fresh one-hour episodes will spotlight Cassandra as she tours the
unruly spaces with her clients and identifies their personalized organizing style. As she helps them clean out, Cassandra also will advise how to best manage the underlying emotional attachments that often lead to over-cluttering. Together with builder and craftsman Wendell Holland, they will update the rooms with customized renovations to set up the homeowners for tidy success.

Celebrity IOU (new season premieres June 21) – HGTV will deliver more feel-good stories of gratitude that inspire, entertain and bring fans to happy tears in eight new episodes of its smash hit series Celebrity IOU. The popular series will return with a new slate of Hollywood A-listers who&mdashtogether with the network&rsquos famous twins, real estate and renovation experts Drew and Jonathan Scott&mdashare ready to create surprise, stunning home renovations for the individuals who&rsquove made a lasting impact on their lives. In
addition to airing on HGTV, each episode of Celebrity IOU will be available to stream on
discovery+ early each Monday beginning June 21.

Good Bones (new season premieres June 29) – HGTV&rsquos popular mother/daughter duo Mina Starsiak Hawk and Karen E Laine are taking new risks in unchartered territory in a new season of HGTV&rsquos Good Bones, premiering. The series follows Mina, a real estate agent and new mom of two, and Karen, a lawyer, as they buy the most dilapidated properties in their home town of Indianapolis, demo them down to the studs, and
renovate them into dazzling family homes.

Renovation Island (new season premieres June 20) – Home renovation experts Bryan and Sarah Baeumler star in the new ten-episode sophomore season of Renovation Island as they couple faces the rollercoaster ride of business during the first year of their Bahamas resort, Caerula Mar, including the most unexpected challenge of all: a
global pandemic. Forced to reckon with the realities of the international health crisis, Bryan and Sarah must reassess their business and family plans as they quarantine on the island and take the necessary steps for their eventual reopening.

Battle on the Beach (new series premieres July 11) – HGTV&rsquos newest competition series, Battle on the Beach, will feature network stars Taniya Nayak (Restaurant Impossible), Ty Pennington (Rock the Block), and Alison Victoria (Windy City Rehab) as they each mentor three teams of up-and-coming flippers while they renovate identical beachfront properties. The mentors will put their reputations on the line each week while star judges Mike Holmes (Holmes + Holmes) and Mina Starsiak Hawk (Good Bones) will
choose which team wins the featured weekly challenge. The team who adds the most value to their home will walk away with a $50,000 grand prize to use towards their next flip, and their mentor will have ultimate bragging rights. The new episodes of Battle on the Beach also will be available to stream the same day on discovery+.

Breaking Bland (new series premieres August 19) – The Charleston, South Carolina-based HGTV series Breaking Bland introduces designer Mary Welch Stasik. During each episode, Mary Welch will break any design boundary and encourage clients to eschew traditional looks to create a truly personalized space.

Curb Appeal Xtreme (new series premieres August 23) – HGTV&rsquos popular outdoor renovation show Curb Appeal will get a fresh spin in Curb Appeal Xtreme. The new series will combine the architectural and design savvy of John Gidding, the horticulture and landscape design genius of Jamie Durie and the custom carpentry and furniture
wizardry of Rachel Taylor. The six hour-long episodes will follow the talented trio as they
dramatically overhaul the front and backyards of homes in Nashville, Tennessee, creating
breathtaking outdoor living spaces that include features such as playhouses, yoga pavilions and open-air kitchens to maximize each property&rsquos potential and value.

FOOD NETWORK

BBQ Brawl (new season premieres June 14) – The Brawl is back and bigger than ever! The brightest and most-buzzworthy BBQ minds in America are ready to battle for the coveted title of Master of ‘Cue. Bobby Flay and Michael Symon face off again and this time they’re joined by a third team captain, Eddie Jackson, who’s ready to take the competition to a whole new level. In this high-stakes battle, a captain could lose
his entire team and get knocked out before the finale, so they’re ready to do everything they can to stay in the game.

Battle of the Brothers (new series premieres June 17, Discovery+) – In the ultimate case of sibling rivalry, Battle of the Brothers pits Bryan and Michael Voltaggio against one another as they each lead a team of aspiring chefs through a culinary gauntlet
designed to impart the wisdom earned over a lifetime in the restaurant industry. Only one chef will win the priceless opportunity to take the keys of one of the Voltaggio restaurants in a guest-chef takeover to introduce their own vision and put their name on the map.

Grill of Victory (new series premieres June 21) – Sabin Lomac hosts a thrilling competition that brings America’s best backyard grillers to the ultimate backyard grilling arena as hardcore home cooks with a passion for barbecue go head-to-head to prove their talents over three rounds of intense cooking battles. A rotating panel of judges, including Susie Bulloch, Darnell Ferguson, Tregaye Fraser and Christian Petroni, will
help determine who grilled their way to the top. In the end, one home cook will take home the ultimate culinary prize – a customized, outdoor kitchen and entertaining space of their dreams designed by Cristy Lee.

Chopped: Alton&rsquos Maniacal Baskets (new tournament premieres June 22) – Alton Brown, returns to the Chopped judges&rsquo table to confound sixteen bright-eyed chefs with
the zaniest and brainiest baskets ever in the new five-part tournament Chopped: Alton&rsquos
Maniacal Baskets. Hosted by Ted Allen, each episode features Alton harnessing the power of his broad social media following, as he joins forces with his fans to come up with maniacal ingredients the competitors must utilize to create unique and delicious dishes over three rounds – appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Joining Alton at the judges&rsquo table are Maneet Chauhan and Marcus Samuelsson to determine which chef goes home with the $50,000 prize.

The Pioneer Woman: Ranch Wedding(new special premieres June 26) – Join the guest list to the fabulous frontier wedding as Ree Drummond&rsquos daughter Alex Drummond marries her college sweetheart Mauricio Scott. Viewers will have a front row seat to
these dream nuptials and all the planning and preparation for the spectacular day. With only 10 days left until the big day, the Drummond family is working to get everything set up not just for 500 wedding guests, but for a big bash in the middle of their isolated ranch. Ree has a lot on her plate, from deciding which mother-of-the-bride dress to say yes to wearing as her eldest daughter walks down the aisle, to navigating thunderstorms as they threaten the wedding timeline, the special documents all the highs and lows leading up to the wedding. It&rsquos a one-of-a-kind celebration not to be missed!

Buddy vs. Duff (new season premieres this summer) – In this epic competition, the two biggest titans of cake – Buddy Valastro, the “Cake Boss” and Duff Goldman, the “Ace of Cakes” – are back for the ultimate tie-breaker season and the stakes have never been higher. It&rsquos a new battle and a new battle ground to see who ultimately will be
named the &ldquoKing of Cake.&rdquo

Buddy vs Duff: Bakers Battle (new series premieres this summer) – When Duff and Buddy are away&helliptheir teams will play. For this exciting new battle, the famed bakers&rsquo teams will take over their bakeries and compete in their own fierce but fun competition.

The Globe (Discovery+) – Robert Irvine hosts as four chefs compete across three rounds of culinary challenges as they make stops around the world via The Globe, a set made up of LED screen projectors that transports the competitor and the viewer anywhere on earth. At each stop, they will not only be faced with that location&rsquos premiere cuisine, but will be limited to local ingredients in preparing their dishes. As chefs &ldquoland&rdquo at each destination they are assigned ingredients and utensils as they compete to cook the most inventive, delicious and truly global dish possible.

No Recipe Road Trip with the Try Guys (w/t, Discovery+) – Inspired by their hit web series, Without a Recipe, the Try Guys, Ned Fulmer, Keith Habersberger, Zach Kornfeld and Eugene Lee Yang, are hitting the road to do what they do best – TRY! In this all-new competition meets travelogue, the Try Guys visit great American restaurants and attempt to recreate their signature dishes without a recipe. In the end, only one Try Guy is crowned the week’s winner by the restaurant owner and a guest judge.

90 Day: Caribbean Love (new series premieres July 18, Discovery+) – 90 Day: Caribbean Love is a sexy new docu-soap from the producers of 90 Day Fiancé, following people who found love in the Caribbean. The tropics will provide the backdrop for relationships in various phases &mdash from a couple who met online but will now meet for the first time, holiday flings that turned serious, and even a one-night stand that turned into a pregnancy. Will romance in paradise last once the suntan fades?

You, Me & My Ex (new series premieres June 20) – How close is too close when it comes to staying friends with your ex? You, Me & My Ex explores just that. Viewers follow along as five different couples navigate some choppy waters when an ex is still in the picture and a little too close for comfort. These complicated love triangles are redefining the rules and offer a different look at relationships.

So Freakin Cheap(new series premieres June 21) – So Freakin Cheap follows four unique families as they go to extraordinary lengths to save money and live their most frugal lives. Whether it’s dumpster diving for freebies, planning a wedding on a $700 budget or painting an entire home using free paint samples, these families
will stop at nothing to spend nothing!

Addicted to Marriage (new series premieres August 29) – It’s one thing to always be the bridesmaid and never the bride, but it&rsquos quite another to ALWAYS be the bride. This brand new series follows “serial” brides and grooms who have been engaged
and married many, MANY times, including someone who is about to walk down the aisle for the twelfth time! Will these “marriage addicts” really say “I Do” again? Or, will secrets, drama and judgement from family and friends steer them otherwise?

Put A Ring On It(new season premieres June 25) – Will Packer&rsquos newest unscripted relationship series Put A Ring On It returns this summer with all-new episodes featuring longtime couples who embark on the ultimate relationship test. With help from master relationship coach Dr. Nicole LaBeach, the couples are pushed outside their
comfort zones to confront the question they&rsquove been too afraid to ask: why haven&rsquot they walked down the aisle? While the couples work to confront their deepest fears, they are also given the chance to look outside their current relationships by dating other people. Will they decide it&rsquos time to go their separate ways, or is it finally time to put a ring on it? The series is produced by Will Packer Media and Lighthearted Entertainment.

Love & Marriage: Huntsville(new season premieres July 17) – Love & Marriage: Huntsville follows the lives of three successful and powerful couples in the thriving city of Huntsville, Alabama. The series features longtime friends Melody and Martell Holt, Marsau and LaTisha Scott and Maurice and Kimmi Scott, whose goals are to put Huntsville on the map, but reality sets in as they struggle with the highs and lows of balancing friendships, marriage and business. The series is produced by Kingdom Reign Entertainment and ITV America.

ANIMAL PLANET

Otter Dynasty (w/t) – Meet Singapore&rsquos rare, utterly adorable smooth-coated otters. Declared locally extinct in the 1970s, this species has since made a welcome comeback to this exciting sovereign island city-state that they now call &ldquohome.&rdquo Since their return from the brink of extinction, multiple otter families have shown their desire and determination to reside in the prime otter real estate of Marina Bay. The catch? There&rsquos only room for one dominant &ldquoroyal&rdquo family. In this urban wildlife story, audiences will be mesmerized as three urbanized otter clans make it their business to fight for their turn to be on top while continuing to adapt to their concrete jungle. This is the ultimate clash of the otter clans, and there can only be one ruler.

The Mighty Underdogs (w/t, Discovery+) – The absolute pinnacle of the fierce world of dog show competitions are the AKC National Championship and the Westminster Dog Show, but it takes countless hours of practice, grit and determination to get there. In this all-new coming-of-age competition series, The Mighty Underdogs, brings a never-before-seen look inside Junior Dog Shows where preteen and teen handlers compete among thousands for one of the limited, and highly coveted spots at the Westminster Dog Show and AKC National Championship. And at the center of the action is
world-renowned coach, Jody Davidson, who not only builds junior champion handlers, trained to win with her strict rules and no-nonsense attitude, but also offers guidance on their road to self-discovery. As the competition heats up and the rivalries and tempers flare, friendships are forged, and audiences learn who really is &ldquobest in show!&rdquo

MOTOR TREND

Bitchin&rsquo Rides – Some great artists work with oil on canvas, others with clay, but for Dave Kindig, iron and chrome are the tools of his creative self-expression, and he is an artist at the top of his craft. From his sprawling 27,000-square-foot custom fabrication shop, Kindig It Design, Dave and his team use cars as their canvases to create extraordinary works of art for serious car lovers nationwide. Bitchin&rsquo Rides, one of MotorTrend TV&rsquos highest-rated series returns to give audiences another glimpse into the imaginative, creative genius of Kindig&rsquos self-made business.

Faster With Finnegan – Hobbyist mechanics and car lovers across America are in search of more speed from their project car. But can you make significant upgrades with limited funds and limited time? If so, will the upgrades made on your car outperform a newer or pricier model? In the all-new season of Faster. With Finnegan, streaming on the MotorTrend App, Finnegan and his friends David Newbern and Mike Cotten seek answers while sharing with viewers the knowledge, the technology, the
real-life problems and the hard work that come with adding speed within a limited time frame without breaking the bank. Every week the series will feature a different vehicle, a different build, a different form of racing and a new challenge.

Kevin Hart&rsquos Muscle Car Crew – In the MotorTrend TV debut of the new series Kevin Hart&rsquos Muscle Car Crew, Kevin Hart and The Plastic Cup Boyz seek answers to the questions around being a devoted automotive fan, learn to navigate the challenges of owning classic vehicles and make us laugh along the way. Kevin Hart&rsquos Muscle Car Crew is a lighthearted, hilarious journey into the car collecting world.From finding a trusted, skilled mechanic in Lucky Costa from MotorTrend&rsquos Hot Rod Garage to customizing, racing, and experiencing the highs and lows of no reserve classic car auctions, Kevin and his friends settle internal debates with the help of automotive experts while gaining hard-earned knowledge in fulfilling their newfound passion. The debut of the series on MotorTrend TV follows its launch on MotorTrend’s streaming service this summer.

Motor Mythbusters – Looking to answer the biggest questions on every car fan&rsquos mind, MotorTrend is melding science with the street in a joyful search for truth behind popular automotive myths in the MotorTrend TV debut of Motor Mythbusters. Starring Mythbusters alum Tory Belleci, mechanic Faye Hadley, and engineer and professional race car driver Bisi Ezerioha, each episode tackles stories generated by viral videos, urban legends or pop culture. In a quest to separate fact from fiction, Tory, Faye, and Bisi put cars through extreme tests to confirm or debunk everything from extreme Hollywood car stunts to everyday questions that bug car owners.

Roadkill – Hold onto your lugnuts! Ride along with David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan as they search for their next gearhead adventure. In Roadkill, Freiburger and Finnegan have created a cult hit taking on a wide variety of fun automotive projects including all types of gassers, &ldquobarely-legal&rdquo street machines and high-strung performance vehicles.

Top Gear America – Top Gear America delivers a uniquely fresh take on classic &ldquoTop Gear&rdquo, the world&rsquos biggest motoring show, by following the motorized mischief and supercharged adventures of Dax Shepard, Rob Corddry and Jethro Bovingdon across America. In season two, premiering on the MotorTrend App, Dax, Rob and Jethro return to their mission of driving the wheels off whatever they can get their hands on celebrating all the things they love about cars and arguing about the things they don&rsquot. Top Gear America takes an irreverent look at the auto industry each week as Dax, Rob and Jethro tackle challenges with comedy, class and commitment.


Watch the video: Fire in the City Final Results


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