Sunday, August 21, 2011

Racing On Saturday? WHY NOT!

First some reaction to this past weekend's racing.

The 4-hour Road Racing Showcase held at the famous Road America circuit just outside of Madison, Wis was excellent and even better for me personally that Risi finally broke through and took their first victory for the F458 with the CEO of Ferrari SpA on site.

That's the good news, the bad news is that DNF@Mid Ohio just two weeks ago really hurts their chances at a Driver's (3rd), Team's (3rd) and all important Manufacturer's Title (4th).

But wait, as they say its not over until the fat lady sings and basically Risi has to win out to have any chance at the title. In their favor as many as 5 Ferrari's will be entered at Petit. Its possible for more Ferrari's to show up at Laguna Seca since its after Silverstone as a buffer between the #62, the BMW's and Corvette's.

I really hope Ferrari pulls out all the stops and puts in the best drivers they can find, share information, setups, whatever going into the last two endurance events.

Also racing this weekend was NASCAR at Montreal and I have to say that I'm glad Ambrose has finally got the monkey off his back. His win at Watkins Glen on Monday and this weekend's victory at Montreal despite being spun by Jacque Villeneuve of all people in what can be described as the "Bone Headed" move of the year, ruining his chances for victory (he lead the most laps) but almost killing Ambrose's chances. But lucky for Ambrose his car wasn't damaged too much. Maybe that's what it takes to win at Montreal, it continues the stat that the leader with less than 7 to go wasn't the winner...

There's talk that the funding for this race was lost, but with the general fan turnout being excellent, I think they'll find some funding and continue to race there.

Finally this weekend was the first International meet at the newly opened Slovakiaring and it featured SRO's FIA GT3 Championship as its headlining event. Turn out was very good and even the Slovakian President showed up on Sunday to watch some racing.
I would embed the races here but until people start commenting on what I am saying on his blog I will suspend embedding videos for at least a month.

I also won't tell you who won, you'll have to find that yourself, there's an RSS feed on the broader to the left of your screen.

Now about racing on Saturday....

This topic came up during Mid-Week Motorsports I believe this week and last week. I think its an excellent idea and the ALMS should look at having its events on Saturday. There isn't much going on TV wise during the summer months and many channels are looking for "filler". Usually showing local programming or old movies as that's cheap. This is where the ALMS can spread its wings. By putting more races on ABC instead of ESPN2, you expand the reach of the series and also move it away from larger series like Indy Car and NASCAR Sprint Cup on Sunday's. I watched a bit fo the truncated race on ABC this afternoon and while I haven't watched it this season because I know (a) the outcome and (b) I know its shorten (90 mins vs 4 hour stream for example) but for those that are unwilling or can't access the races online, that's perfectly okay.

The landscape of TV is changing and some fans have to accept that expensive to broadcast events like a typical ALMS race are not affordable to put on National TV. At least not without some structural changes to the ALMS. The ALMS has lost from Acura and Audi. They haven't replaced it. Nobody's sure of what roll Patron plays in funding as well. But this is easily solved by making the GT class the top class, full stop.

Some people are resistant to make this change and poo-poo the recent LMS announcement of no LMP1's next year in Philip Peter's series. These people assume that with so many low funded LMP efforts not looking to run the WEC next season would automatically run the LMS series with little to no TV coverage... People want to complain about the ALMS coverage, at least its available to most people around the world as long as they have an decent internet connection, you can't say that about the LMS or even the ILMC...

The ALMS belongs on Saturday whenever possible. Petit Le Mans is on Saturday, what difference does it make if the rest of the races are on Saturday????



Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why Does The Continental Tire Cup Series Get No Love?

On 10-Tenths, there's a regular poster named "Speed King". He lives in Germany but watches American racing. Anyway we often agree on many subjects especially the Continental Tire Grand Am Cup. I refuse to link to Grand Am so you'll have to use Google.

The origins of this series go back to 1980's. It was originally the IMSA Firestone Firehawk series which was a rival to the SCCA Escort Endurance Championship. Both series features current Speed TV color analyst Calvin Fish and Dorsey Schroeder.

Calvin who came from a middle class background in Britain couldn't afford to continue his single seat career in Europe, decided to come to the States in the early 80's and has been here every since winning the Formula Atlantic Championship in 1987. He eventually linking up with Ford Motor Company and raced Saleen Mustangs in the Escort Series, along with Mustangs in IMSA GTO for Jack Roush.

Dorsey was a struggling Formula Atlantic driver in the late 70's. Forced with quitting racing or trying another more affordable series, he was able to take his last few dollars and purchase a Renault Spec Racer; He won the championship. He credited the series with changing his driving style which allowed him to succeed in the Firehawk series for Chrysler (Eagle), IMSA GTU (with Dodge). Later become IMSA GTO race winner and SCCA Trans Am Champion for Jack Roush.

A short history lesson, if you want to know more about Dorsey's early career, just Google his name with Renault Spec Racer, he did an interview back in the early 00's about this phase of his career which was make or break, its very interesting.

Anyway, the Firehawk series was enthusiastically supported by the manufactures. Chrysler Corp at the time used the series to promote its version of the Mitsubishi Eclipse; The Eagle Talon which Dorsey drove back when he was connected to Chrysler. Porsche even built factory prepared 944 Turbos for the series. They had two divisions and fields of 40-50 cars. The series was often featured on The Nashville Network (Diamond P Sports).

I used to find Eagle Talon ads in Car & Driver featuring the pictures of the Dynomax (Walker Exhaust) sponsored two-tone Blue and White Eagle Talon AWD's.

When Don Panoz bought IMSA in the late 90's from a ousted Andy Evans, changed the name back to IMSA from PSCR (Professional Sports Car Racing) and signed a deal with fledgling Speedvision Channel. With that partnership and Firestone leaving as series sponsor, it became the Speedvision Cup Series.


About the time Speedvision was bought by Fox and the name shorten to Speed, they sponsored the series for I think one more season (1998). Also about this time a faction of IMSA broke off and became USRRC. The management of the Speedvision series decided to go with this group instead of sticking with IMSA. SCCA entered in a partnership with USRRC and the series then became the Motorola Cup when it merged with the Motorola Cup Series out of Canada.


It then became the Koni Challenge Series where ITT/Koni supplied the teams with Koni dampers, the first series I think that had a single damper supplier. Finally at the end of the 2009 season it became the Continental Tire Cup, a spec tire series back to its origins (Firestone Firehawk).

With close racing and manufacture support you think this would be more popular than NASCAR. After all one of the main complaints of NASCAR Nation is that the Sprint Cup Series, Truck and Nationwide have nothing in common with the cars and trucks they drive everyday. This series has you covered, many people bought and owned Mazda MX6's, Honda Preludes, Honda Accords, Ford Mustangs, Pontiac Firebirds, BMW M3's, etc, etc.

I think lack of promotion to the base was part of it. The internet at the time wasn't broadband and mature yet. But I really think they could have gotten the grassroots, the owners of the street versions of these cars to support the series. The manufacturers didn't seem to leverage their dealer network to attach fans to the races or even watch it on TV.

This still continues, because most dealers have NO IDEA what your talking about if you mention Continental Tire Cup Series. Some of the forums reminisce about cars raced in this series by posting pictures.

I think a major problem is the series has no high profile drivers. Over the years drivers of other series would "moonlight" in this series but they were not high profile drivers and never became series regulars. One of the most famous drivers of these series is Randy Pobst. Hardly a house hold name but if your a hardcore road racing fan like myself, then his name is not foreign to you at all.

No major series is without its high profile drivers. Even Indy Car with most of its winning drivers of the last decade being born in South America, Canada or Europe they still have large fan followings in the States. Grand Am Cup has had occasional well known drivers drop in for cameo but seldom stayed in the series, usually at the request of a manufacture. Boris Said has found himself racing in this series do to his connections with Ford and BMW.


How can they solve this problem, is it even solvable?

Promotion -

Every manufacturer should be promoting this series through its dealer network by putting posters in the waiting room of the service center at the very least. They should also be sending out promotional items for the series, including videos.

My father worked for one of the larger Chevy dealers in the Los Angeles area for 13 years and didn't remember anybody mentioning any of the various names this series has been called.

Which is shocking since this series has been around in one form or another since 1986, making it 25 years old. The ALMS is 11 years old, SCCA World Challenge is about 25-26 years old.

Why aren't they promoting it?

TV -

Is tape delay really an option in this date and age of the internet? What are people suppose to do ignore web sites like Speed TV? Now if I haven't seen a race for example but recorded it, I will avoid web sites I know will have the results. This includes avoiding my own blog as I have RSS feeds on it and sometimes results of races are posted since I have feeds directly from Auto Sport Magazine and a few FIA series.

Internet Streaming is an option at least for those that want to watch it live. Since they are on Speed, I believe the races are shown live on Speed 2, but they have limited reach at the moment.

The product -

Get away from throwing Yellow Flags for even the slightest incident! In years past they would use local yellows to remove broken cars close to the racing line. Seldom is there a reason to throw a yellow unless the track is blocked. But even Grand Am Cup is guilty of throwing the debris caution!

The biggest problem is self promotion. They regularly have fields of 50-60 cars. I don't know what the entry fees are per event or for a season, but fields that large allow the series to stay afloat clearly.

I understand this is a feeder series to other Touring Car and GT series like the ALMS, World Challenge or Rolex Grand Am, but there's no reason for poor fan turnout, no promotion from key players and tape delayed TV broadcast.







Just beyond the half way point....

In Sports Car Racing, the half way point is usually Le Mans in a season. However that's not quite the case. The ILMC has 3 events left (Silverstone, Petit Le Mans, China). The ALMS has 5 events left (Mid-Ohio, Road America, Baltimore, Laguna Seca, Petit Le Mans). International GT Open 4 events (A1/Red Bull Ring, Portimao, Monza and Barcelona).

The FIA/SRO series have 3,2 and 2 events left between its three biggest series.

In any case we're far from finish and Championships are far from settled. But some news about 2012 is starting to trickle out. LMS recently announced it will drop LMP1 cars from its Pan-Euro series and add a ALMS-type GTC class but expanding it to include Ferrari Challenge cars. This is sort of a problem Ferrari Challenge Teams and a boon ($$$) for Michelotto who must develop an aero package for these cars since FC cars have no aero package to start with. Why not just allow the Grand Am version of the Ferrari F458 GT3 car???

For the ALMS I think this gives them the opening to make the changes they need to stay relevant. Grand Am was able to talk Michelotto into building a Grand Am spec car for the series. Thus far its only been Michelotto who builds these race cars for Ferrari that has committed to the new cars. Audi and Benz are being talked too, but I think they are in a wait and see what the ALMS does.

This is the time for the ALMS to be aggressive and allow FIA spec GT3 cars in GTC. You won't have to change anything or built special models These cars are only slightly more than Porsche Cup S cars which make up the GTC field now.

There some grumbling among the fan base that BMW leaving the ALMS is all but a done deal because of their commitment to DTM and DTM coming to America. They think because DTM is backed by the current Grand Am brain trust that this will automatically succeed and put the ALMS on the defensive. I say is WAY too early to make those assumptions and also know that by BMW dropping F1 can run several series and still not come up to the budget they spent on F1 every season.

They get vastly more value out of running GT cars and DTM than just F1 alone.

We can count on at least 99% of the current field of GT cars/teams to return in 2012. Beyond that, its anybody's guess, but I think BMW and Jaguar are SAFE for the moment. That means 16-17 cars per event and about 8-9 car battle for the podium = GREAT!

The problem is the drop off in the prototype classes. One part of me says drop Prototypes all together including LMPC and just run GT cars. You would have fields of 30-35 cars every event and if you have seen FIA GT3 or International GT Open races I have posted on my blog, you'll see its close, hard fought racing with very little domination by one car or one team.

FIA GT3 has seen the biggest growth in the past few seasons and continues to grow. This is the time to make the change and make it stick. I personally don't care if you keep LMP2 and LMPC as these classes will always be in the single digits. But I think when it drops to only two cars, it time to kill it, we did it with GT1 a season before the ACO did it, but we did it.

Making hard choices is why I have continued to support the ALMS.

Memo to Scott Elkins -

If you do nothing else but open GTC to FIA spec GT3 cars, it will move the series forward. It will increase fan support, you'll hear less about the availability of the "Stream" and the product or action on track will be BETTER if that's even possible.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bitching about FIA World GT1 Championship

As honorable Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said "Everybody is entitled to their own opinion but not his/her own facts"

Does this championship reflect poorly on Sports Car Racing? No and how in the hell should you know anyway? Because five of your friends agree with you, that's now fact??? They have no evidence of this and should state up front that this is OPINION, not FACT.

It seems Marc VDS is bent out of shape because Roush Engines didn't send them their order of replacement engines until after the 4th of July weekend. Okay so basically Belgian Holidays are more important than American one's? In the United States Independence Day is a Federal Holiday meaning most things are closed. Even if they were ready to ship, nobody was shipping on July 4th even if it was a Monday.

So these two issues combine to give people that never liked the series to start with fodder to kill it in the court of public opinion.

While I might agree that going with outdated GT1 cars MIGHT have been short-sighted, the concept of sprint races is just fine. It leads to hard racing, risky maneuvers and pushing on every lap. That makes the racing exciting and generally good.

With the recent announcement of the realignment of Sports Car and GT racing by the FIA, the types of cars allowed in the GT World Championship might expand. What I find interesting is only 2011 GT3 cars and 2009 GT2 cars will be allowed to run with the current GT1 cars.

Speaking of Marc VDS, they recently announced they will run what I believe is one of BMW Z4's currently ran by Shubert Engineering who fields Z4's in the European GT3 Championship. They have entered cars into the Spa 24hr race later this month. Marc VDS will also enter the Ford GT they normally use in GT3 competition and the updated Ford Mustang GT3 which showed promise last time it was seen during qualifying last season. They have stated they are investigating the GT3 version of the Z4 not only for this race but also the because of the recently announced changes in 2012 as they may drop the Ford GT and the rest of their Ford hardware. It would be a shame as they are the only Ford team left in International Competition besides the Roberston Racing Ford's currently in ALMS GT2 and the occasional RPM Ford GT that appears in some GT Open and Brit GP races.

When Matech's founder died suddenly, most of Ford development on the GT1 Ford GT's stopped. The Mustang program was taken over by Marc VDS last season. The car is built by Larry Holt and company at Multimatic in Canada with Ford's blessing.

Anyway, the point is the series is not bad for sports car racing (1) and (2) will be expanding. As long as they continue to have close competitive racing, people will watch, fans will show up and more fans will find out about the series.



Saturday, July 9, 2011

Another Good ALMS Race In The Books

I've been waiting for the 2nd half of the season to start, though its more than half the season's races to run, including two opportunities for double points at Laguna Seca and Petit Le Mans.

Risi's DNF doesn't hurt not nearly as bad is it could have but does point to the gremlins still in the F458 even if its been victorious all over Europe. It also lead the majority of second half of the 24hrs of Le Mans only to fall to second with electrical problems in the final hour or so.

That is the only car in the field that can beat the BMW's on pace alone. I think what you have seen at Lime Rock is just a track well-suited to the Porsche 911. There aren't many of those left on the calender.
Next up is Mosport where Risi and the F430 has been really strong the last four races with podium finishes in all four including two victories and three victories in the last six races there. I expect for them to bounce back there. Also be on pace at Mid Ohio two weeks later since Toni Vilander was on pole last year.

GT is better than ever and any fan that's against a complete switch over to GT only series has rocks in their head. The best racing in America or Europe has GT cars in it with all the variety that fans always claim to desire.

The ILMC will take all the prototype entries, leaving only GTC, GT and LMPC. I wouldn't mind leaving LMPC as-is because it has been good for the series. GTC needs/has to expand to GT3 cars. Look at all the great cars in the FIA European GT3 series, all mostly competitive as well with Audi, BMW, Benz and Lambo all with victories this season. Even the Porsche's are competitive despite only having two cars the entire season.

If you really want to see GT3's battle tooth and nail and didn't see N24, the Spa 24hr race will kill any doubts you have remaining though you shouldn't have any. That will be a all out sprint race, battle royal for 24hrs around one of the best circuits on earth.

July will be an great month to be a GT fan with all the major series having at least one race this month.

Is anybody reading these things? Oh well, I'll keep posting.


Friday, July 8, 2011

More Web TV: International GT Open

The World never stands still and for those still stuck in the 1990's in terms of TV (Liner TV ie: Cable, Sat, Over The Air) more GT racing moves to the Internets...

International GT Open has a new web site just for the series and Web TV (Live/Replay Streaming) - http://www.gtopen.net/

As I have said before, I watch 95% of my racing via the internet. Speed 2 would be the next best option, but having said that, its has limited reach currently, only four major carriers but they just added their largest one Dish Network - http://www.speed2.com/ If you have a Dish Network DVR and its connected to the internet (this is key) than you'll have access.

Amazingly after almost three months off since Long Beach, there still some bitching from the ALMS fan base.

Streaming has never been problematic for me, especially since we switched to AT&T U-Verse. Always smooth as butter (unless its a technical problem with the web site). Even the latest updates to Internet Explorer 9 have improved streaming performance. There was a slight issue with dropped frames before but since Flash 10.3 and another update to IE9, is better than ever as I watched qualifying for the ALMS race at Lime Rock = Perfect

Other News and Opinions -

Now that I am done with A+ training, only thing left is to take the test which will happen around August. I will be adding a Windows Home Server to our network so I get started on learning how to admin a server and also great way to backup all my files and media. All the PC's on the network will have their own log-in and my Recorded TV content will be automatically archived to the server. I can finally get back some of the disk space that's been more than 80% full, which impacts disk performance.

I'm also going to upgrade the network to wireless N (802.11n) as its four/six times the speed of wireless B. This will improve data transfer between PC's and between all the PC's on the network and the server.

I find all this complaining about the ALMS streaming really funny. I am unemployed currently yet I can afford to make these upgrades. Not that expensive actually and even 25Mbps internet is not that expensive, especially if you aren't a big watcher of stuff on cable/pay tv. Even if you are, I will share my setup here soon, after I make the upgrades. Some people would like to think I'm on the cutting edge and I'm not.

When I show my setup you'll see that its not high end at all, but some smartly purchased items, usually discounted heavily or discontinued.

Until next time...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Every Once In A While...

I have to knock back ridiculous thoughts about Sports Car Racing in America and the fantasy land people seem to live in.

I originally posted this on Murphy's blog but I thought I would share it with you -

(1) Philip Peter who runs the LMS series for the ACO has stated that due to low turnout of LMP1/2 cars at the opening round of the LMS in France and the impact of ILMC on his series that he is considering going without LMP1/2 cars next season.

(2) As Murphy stated Prototypes are hardly more popular in Europe. You just have better quality privateers see RML and Strakka. Henri won’t go anywhere without support from a manufacturer like those that support RML and Strakka (Honda) or Rebellion (Toyota). You can’t keep dumbing down the competition to the level of those that are hardly paupers to start with but just don’t have the cubic dollars/euro/yen of the larger teams.

(3) The quality of privateers in America are generally terrible. The only team worthy of praise over the years is Dyson. But even their roots are in GT cars, how come they can’t go back? Chris is a good enough driver to buy two cars, a brand new GT2(e) and a year old GT2(ProAm) car to run with at the ILMC rounds. He would still score points under that system if he’s a season competitor and its more affordable to take a GT car over to Europe than to bring a Prototype with massive odds against you doing well. A GT car will at least give you a chance to win, look at Tracy Krohn… Wouldn’t you say Chris Dyson is a better driver than Tracy Krohn?

(4) When the economy can support Prototypes they are fine. Clearly with world wide austerity, flat car sales and high unemployment you clearly see the rich did no suffer in the economic downturn but the FAN did. I don’t know how you can link what happen between the IRL and CART. IRL was idea of a Rich Man with too much money to spend. But once the family took away his wallet there was no more IRL. For CART a series of bad moves and a jingoistic culture doomed CART from the split onwards. Its fortunes really went down after key teams like Ganassi and Penske left for the IRL just because they wanted to be at Indy.

Sports Car Racing in America doesn’t have that. Don’t bring up Sebring. Sebring just happens to be around the same time of Spring Break and unlike much of Florida who don’t like College Co-ed’s invading their town Sebring seemingly doesn’t mind and benefits from it several ways, especially in the coffers. A majority of those fans are not regular followers of the ALMS or ILMC. There just happens to be a convergence of heavy beer drinking, general party environment and a good race (not always a good race…).

That said Autocon and Intersport are TERRIBLE teams. They are not poor so don’t give m that tripe that they are some fellas running this out of their garage. Even if that were true, have you seen RJ Valentine’s Garage? Its featured on the Lista web page – http://www.listapersonalspace.com/personal-spaces/peers/case-studies/rj-valentine.aspx

That still doesn’t diminish the fact that they are reluctant to spend money. Compare this with Highcroft’s approach which has often been talked about –http://www.gordonkirby.com/categories/columns/theway/2010/the_way_it_is_no256.htmland you’ll quickly understand why Robert Clark picked Highcroft and not one of the other teams in the paddock…

(5) Specialty manufacturers like Lola and Riley do keep Sports Car Racing afloat but I wouldn’t call that high quality racing. How many times has Lola been the Giant Killer? It seems to me only a quality outfit like Dyson was able to pull that off. How many of those types of teams exist? Not many, I’m still puzzled by Toyota’s decision to support Rebellion when they haven’t proven anything as Rebellion or as Speedy Sabah. They have won the occasional GT race and class victory (LMP2) but that’s it. Dyson has defeated Audi fair and square, only Panoz has been able to accomplish that. But these are teams run by people who aren’t concerned about what it cost to win, within reason.

The ALMS is designed to be a manufacturer friendly series and wants to stay that way. If that’s the case you go where the money is and for now and the foreseeable future the choice for national series will be to go with GT cars. Those ambition to take the fight to companies like Audi can battle it out on the world stage where its not cheap to start with and should be the least of your concerns if you want to beat them.

(6) I propose that the ALMS go with GT-e, GT3 and LMPC for 2012 to 2014 and reevaluate at the end of 2014.

LMPC cars are generally faster anyway, you can put them back to 2010 specs where they are equally as fast as current LMP2 cars. Its spec racing Fox but that didn’t seem to bother you watching Champ Car and IRL.. They are prototypes. Maybe in 2014 you can start considering other brands of engine say from Ford or Chrysler.

GT-e as Hindy is often fond of saying is PERFECT AND DON’T TOUCH IT. The only thing I might add in the future is ABS. Why not they already have Traction Control. It won’t make the racing any worst…

GT3 is where you’ll see the explosion and biggest expansion in the ALMS. There will still be some Porsche as there some loyalist already in the paddock such as Alex Job and TRG, they’ll just buy GT3R versions of the 911. But outside of that you’ll have mouth watering prospects from BMW, Benz, Ferrari and Audi. Not to mention Lotus and McLaren.

I like Prototypes too but not to the detriment of the series. Having uninteresting, poorly funded efforts that even Dyson can’t dominate because of a history of reliably problems does not and should not excite the fan base. Because of Muscle Milk AMR’s DNF at Sebring, Dyson only has to keep finishing races to win the Championship and even they are capable of screwing that up some how, but that’s no way to handicap a series…

Merging of Ideas, Tiered Internet and Geo Blocking

Looks like the FIA has officially jumped behind ACO's ILMC. Details are few at the moment with all to be explained in a week's time during the run up the Le Mans race next weekend.

This weekend however the FIA GT1 World Championship and FIA GT3 European Championships comes into the popular Tourist Trophy weekend at Silverstone not without making news of its own... The FIA again announce that changes were coming to the championship going forward. Its been rumored for a few months now that because of the massive manufacture support for GT3 cars that the logical move for SRO would be to move to those cars for its world championship. Well that's happen, sort-of... Again details are light and we don't know how it impacts the other championships yet, but in 2012 all 2009 and older I believe spec GT2 cars and all current GT3 will be allowed to race with the current GT1 cars. Performance balancing will ensure the playing field is level.

This should be interesting because last year at larger tracks like Spa and Nurburgring GT3 cars often turn competitive times with GT2 cars, even though GT2 cars won both events overall when all was said and done. It seem to this blogger that GT3 cars are only slightly slower than GT1 down the fastest parts of any track but the GT2 cars have more cornering power than either car so it makes up its time in the twisty bits, while loosing out on the straights. In other words balancing performance for cars built for different rules should be easy.

Some will signal the failure of the World GT1 to get the required cars for another season going forward. Vitaphone wasn't allowed to compete with just their two car team since Alfred Hager dropped out at the end of last season. While Corvette who's future was in doubt because all the GT1 cars available are in private hands was able to get two cars on the grid in Dubai from two different teams but only one Corvette and one team since. I smell hypocrisy even if Vitaphone moved over to the Blancpain Endurance Series for this season and keeps its Italian links by running 458's this season.
I always thought this was going to happen given that nobody is currently building GT1 cars besides Aston Martin. Nissan is planning a raft of GTR GT3 cars for next season, the death of Martin Birtek before the start of this season likely signaled the end of the GT1 version of the Ford GT and the on going problem of finding a Corvette to race can't continue if the collectors just don't want to damage the cars anymore.

I think by 2013 GT1 cars will disappear all together and we'll be left with this -

  • Select GT3 National Championships (Germany, France, Britain, Japan and to a lesser extent Spain)
  • The World Championship with GT2 and GT3 cars or all GT3 cars with the sprint format
  • Blancpain European Championship for GT3 cars

What does this mean for the ALMS and LMS???

Well I think the writing is on the wall... The ACO and FIA will go hand and hand with this Sports Car Championship, a World Championship. I think the ACO still feels they have to link events to the ALMS and LMS but away from the world spotlight what do these championships do? I think they going GT racing!

Just look at the facts on the ground. The best news coming away from Le Mans Test day is that Highcroft will not compete in the 24hr Race and likely won't race again this season. HPD owns the Acura chassis and I believe it will be returned to HPD here in California if it hasn't already as both HPD and Highcroft have agreed to dissolve their fairly successful relationship. Autocon has announced their intentions to complete in a few events this season and is likely Intersport a local team to the Mid-Ohio sports car course may pull their LMP1 car out of the shop for one more run. I hardly call this something to look forward too in 2011.

This is terrible! Especially on the heels of no LMP2 cars besides Level 5 and they have already expressed the desire not to race themselves too hard. Sure it could have had something to do with the Long Beach street circuit but honestly I doubt we'll see the paint swapping we saw with the Corvette teams in 2008.

All the Prototype zealots don't have much to cheer for and their high point this season is likely going to be Le Mans and Petit Le Mans at the end of the season. From that point I think its bye-bye Prototypes in ALMS and LMS as Philip Peter has expressed the same concern for his championship.

The LMS however is a Pan-Euro series competing with International GT Open and GT Sprint championships in Europe for GT2 entries. Yes the LMS has the true endurance format for GT2 cars and I'm positive the winner of the GT2 championship will get an automatic invite to Le Mans, so maybe that's enough of a carrot for some teams. I would highly suggest that event planners work HARD not to have clashing dates.

Fans like myself and even some in the media have come to the conclusion that the ALMS if it wants to continue to be a manufacturer supported series, needs to go where the action is and that's GT cars, specifically GT2 and GT3. You could keep the LMPC cars if they wish and I think the LMS having round filed its separate Formula Le Mans Championship after seeing how well these cars went when racing with the other classes in the big show will keep this format instead of spending more money for a separate championship.

ALMS fields could easily be 25-30 cars every event and when the ILMC comes to town, it could be 50-60 cars! The ALMS can also link to the FIA World GT Championship with cross competition at shared events like Laguna Seca.

In other news, I woke up this morning to watch the FIA GT1 World Championship Qualifying Race from Silverstone, the Tourist Trophy! Only to find it Geo-Blocked. Now it was mentioned on GT1's FB page that the stream would not be available in North America. They never really spelled out why and never posted it on their web site or twitter either. I'll have access to the race regardless but I got some information awhile ago that Time Warner would start offering Speed2 to its Sport Package customers. The moderator of the GT1 FB page said that it would be on Bloomberg. For those of you that have tried to set your DVR or Windows Media PC to record the races on Bloomberg, after the first couple of races of the season, Bloomberg is no longer listing it on its North American stream. I did find the last year's Spa race streaming live on Bloomberg's international feed on their web site. I am setup to receive Bloomberg's feed from their web site but I wouldn't call that a solution.

In the past I have praised and been critical of the ALMS for its streaming program and now its time to become critical of SRO for taking this tactic as well. We are moving closer and closer to a tiered Internet in America. In Canada there are only two major carriers that own a majority of the market up there, Telus and Rodgers. They are introducing data caps as well. This is not good as the companies that control the pipes want to offer more services and seeing the explosion of streaming content online will want to get in on that and turn it profitable.

Having an open and free internet is one of the most important issues of our time, but gets little public support due mostly to the poor title of the movement - Net Neutrality and the fact that people don't know what they'll miss when its gone. Sites like Netflix are taking up the bandwidth on the internet and that's just in the US. This will only increase as more content moves online and in the near future you'll have Blu Ray quality streaming available to one and all. The problem is your standard issue cooper DSL connection, which is how a majority of Americans get broadband internet will not support high bit rate HD content. The internet will have to be upgraded to more fiber to home services. Right now Verizon (FiOS) and AT&T (U-Verse) have stopped rolling out the service due to increase cost and not having enough potential customers in some lower population areas. This means this will effectively make certain parts of the internet a ghetto. Where you'll have access to basic services and web sites but won't be offered access to high bandwidth content, even if you can afford to pay the higher cost of a faster connection, its just not available to you in your area.

I have a feeling the fan base of the SRO related series is half that of the ALMS as there isn't much promotion of the series in America yet. So there won't be much push back against decisions like this.

There isn't much push back against tiered internet in America either... I'm not sure what the answer is.

But in the meantime you can support Save The Internet if these issues concern you...




Saturday, May 7, 2011

Lots of Racing This Weekend!

With the Lakers down now 0-3 in the 2nd round of the NBA Western Conference Series, it looks like I might be focusing on racing from here on out.

Oh well, anyway there's ILMC this weekend. Of course if your in North America you won't be able to see it. But I have a work-around, so I'll see it sometime between race finish and Monday Afternoon. Also this weekend is the FIA World GT1 at Portimao, FIA European GT3 at Algarve, F1 in Turkey and Nascar at Darlington.

The focus around here is of course Sports Cars so its wall to wall this weekend, only the Blancpain Endurance Series isn't running, not until Round 2 at the end of the month.

More to come later...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Future of Sports Car Racing?

The Blancpain Endurance Series kicked off its season this past weekend as well with 35 (34 took the start) cars. I think many are slowly coming around to the idea that the ALMS should expand the GTC class to all GT3 cars.

I submit to the court the entire 3 hour race on Daily Motion -

ALMS/Indy Car/World Challenge Weekend At Long Beach







Thanks to an insider at the ALMS, I was given free VIP access to the ALMS paddock and race this past weekend. The race though the PA was hard to hear when the cars went roaring by was good otherwise. It was slowed by an early and long yellow period and finally killed by in the last 10 minutes as it finished under yellow.

You can find the results of this past weekend's race elsewhere on the net.



Sunday, April 3, 2011

More fall out from Sebring/Start of Season Ver.2

Since I can't post on the larger forum(s) anymore (Ten Tenths) and I don't feel like posting my opinions on smaller outlets(Speed TV, ALMSFans), I guess I'll be posting to my blog much more.

Anyway there seems to be same discussion on both sides of the Atlantic - "Do We Need Prototypes?"

The ILMC was clearly designed for the manufacturers (OEMS) and they have responded with supporting that over the national series be it the LMS or ALMS. Philip Peter in what could be termed as a "thinking out loud" moment said this weekend that he's considering dropping LMP1/2 cars from his LMS series since the field is weak (4 LMP1 cars, 6/7 LMP2 cars) compared to his GT-E/GT-E AM field.

Our LMP Classes are weak, need proof? Long Beach GP Entry List - http://americanlemans.com/files/events/2011/2/ALMS_LB_Entry.pdf

LMP1= 2 LMP2= 2 LMPC = 6 GT = 14 GTC = 7 Total = 31

Need I say more?

Murphy, myself and TWK of LTC and others have called for the ALMS to cut the support cord from the LMP's and focus on the GT class. A few people seem to think we have reached a peak in the class. Nonsense! We see new teams entering (Paul Miller and West Yokohama) or current teams constantly improving (BMW, Extreme, RSR Jaguar, Robertsons). Its time to promote this class to be the center piece of the series.

If the ILMC is to be a World's Championship that everybody seems to want (according to Daily Sportscar), what does that mean for the national series, especially the ALMS? Stephen Ratel's SRO rescued the 24hr race from its irrelevant status in the early 90's. When they announced the ILMC and new rules they threw Ratel under the bus for dropping the GT1 class for 2011, claiming the SRO and ACO were moving in different directions. Really? Not from where I sit!
Does the ALMS need any more examples of the ACO looking out for number #1 at all times? Sure the lack of commitment from Audi North America means no R15++ for the ALMS this season and maybe never again, but that doesn't mean we should wait for another manufacturer to commit to the ALMS' Prototype classes before doing what needs to be done.

We already have the best by any measurement you want to make, GT series on the planet.

Why not build and expand on that?

As I have posted before on Ten-Tenths (since deleted), GTC could easily mean 10-12 additional cars if not more. Alex Job is on record saying he buys cars every season, if GTC became a FIA/SRO spec GT3 class he would have bought a GT3-R instead of a GT3 Cup car for 2011. BMW has started to win on a regular basis with its Z4-GT3 hardtop including this winter's Dubai 24 hour race. Benz debuted its SLS racer late last year and its been competitive right out of the box. These cars would easily be on the expanded ALMS GTC grid, including all the Porsche Cups being replaced with GT3-R versions of the 911.

Even as we stand currently there's a 7 car battle for 3 podium positions every single race weekend. The pace of the Jaguar's have improved and the Robertson's have continued the Ford GT's development. Its not hard to conceive a 7 car battle could be a 9-10 car battle by mid season and I haven't even mentioned the Lambo(s) yet...

If the ALMS is committed to the GT classes, it could easily have grids of 20 GTE cars and 10-12 GTC (GT3) cars.

Isn't usually the best race at any ALMS weekend the GT class - Yes
Wouldn't having a 10-12 car tussle for the podium be better than watching underfunded operations circulating at the front - Yes

Here's another reason for making the move.

During the winter it was rumored and confirmed that Greg Pickett's team was looking at all its options including becoming a Porsche supported customer team. Instead Pickett bought an Aston Martin-Lola and a 2011 GT3-Cup car for the Patron series. He's clearly looking to advance and expand his operations. He could easily become not only a Porsche GT-E team with the factories' blessing (Factory Drivers) but also a GTC (GT3) team. He could go from running a single car in the big show, to running as many as 3 cars in the big show.

I have no doubt the ALMS would become stronger without Prototypes. You would force the media to cover the more hotly contested GT classes by default. The races in GT are always much better, even if you occasionally have a dominating performance by one team as each track the ALMS goes to favors one type of car over another, ever so slightly.

After this month's Long Beach GP, the ALMS has some big decisions to make with its long break.

The easy things it could do -
  • Expand Online Coverage to Everybody (partner with a site like Daily Motion)
  • Commit to GT/GTC for the Future (2012)
  • Expand GTC to SRO/FIA Spec GT3 cars
  • Eliminate LMP-1 at all regular season events

Its likely Scott Tucker will take his LMP2 toys and run them in Europe next season, leaving the LMP2 class empty and the LMP1 class on life support, which it is currently. The only question marks are -
  • Does Dyson continue supporting the ALMS
  • Does Highcroft return as a series regular
Dyson I believe will continue in with the ALMS and I think will be competitive in GT-E, the family's history does have GT cars in it, it would be a return to GT racing for them.

Highcroft I believe is on to bigger and better things. Will they return to the ALMS? Maybe but some other things will have to happen and I'm not talking about this season which I'm afraid the chance of seeing Highcroft full time in the ALMS this season are slim and none. I think they'll focus on the ILMC races in Europe that don't clash with Brabs FIA GT1 schedule. Then return to the States to run Petit but that's it. In 2012 they will be the lead team for Wirth/HPD's new closed top LMP1 and also expand to either a single or two car Indy Car team.

Everybody else is making their move, the ALMS needs to make theirs.




Thursday, March 17, 2011

I wouldn't normally do this...

In fact, never mind

Graham Goodwin of Daily Sports Car is giving access to his page for Sebring Coverage starting today and throughout the weekend for free.

Here's the link

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Sneak Peak At GT2 World War 2011

I've always called ALMS GT2 a War because the battles are serious and heads may roll if your not victorious. Which is what happen at Risi this year when the guy that called for the splash and dash at the end of Petit Le Mans while leading resulted in them coming up 1/4 of a lap short of not only victory but locking up the Manufacturer's title for Ferrari. That man is now unemployed or at least not working for Risi this season.

This is some serious competition and I have have begged the ALMS to rebuild their series around this class. I am supported in that call by various outspoken critics and fans of the ALMS both here and abroad.

But anyway, here's a preview and introduction to Walker Racing who is now running Falken's updated 2010 911 GT3 RSR. I always felt the team entrusted with Falken's GT program even if they are fellow Californians where in over their heads. Walker Racing, an experienced team who's members have won in all sorts of Open Wheel series including the Indy 500 and F1. You see how Rahal-Letterman BMW has responded, that proves Open Wheel teams are well suited to ALMS racing.

Maybe we'll see more in the future instead of chasing NASCAR drivers to run the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400...


More to come as we gear up for Sebring ILMC 20011


Ever Wonder Why The ALMS Has Done What They Have Done With TV?

I for one am a follower of Tom Kjos and his friend Murphy the Bear . This is the ALMS fan base version of JaySki, even though JaySki has mostly stuck to reporting the facts or rumors that are general paddock knowledge not anything really "juicy" anymore since he was brought out by ESPN Networks a few years ago.

Can't out scoop the boss can you?

Anyway Tom has explained several times how the ALMS does what it does and why. Some of the fan base however regard his reporting as all doom and gloom. Well friends, Tom loves the ALMS as I do but he's not about to blow sunshine up your rear end.

Neither will I...

Let's face facts for a second. The ALMS has seen a stead decline in revenue and ratings since their peaks in 2006. 2006? You say. Yes 2006 at the start of Porsche and then 2007 Acura's involvement in the series LMP2 class, giving us some of the best racing this series has ever seen. Penske-Porsche' very public ass kicking of Audi throughout the 2007 season and their triumph over Audi at Sebring in 2008 was just the icing on the cake. It shook Audi's falsely built up self confidence since they've never really be challenged since perfecting its R8 now R10 race car. They got punched in the mouth by one of the best prepared teams in the world with the support of one of the most ruthless sports car builders in the world. It shouldn't have come to no ones surprise but that didn't translate into higher TV racings. It did translate into more fans than every attending races.

Now I personally don't have any theories on that, Tom has a few but I really don't think its the element of danger has been removed from racing. That's implying the casual fan base just wants to see crazy looking accidents/death. He might be right, but the hardcore fan base has never been that way.

So with a viewer ship steady at about 500,000 homes in America. It is no surprise at all that the ALMS had decided to partner with ESPN2/ABC and ESPN3. They figure the majority of the fan base is loyal enough to follow the series to the internet. I tend to agree. The casual fan might still regard streaming video as not ready for prime time, likely because its not something widely available even on TV's with built-in connectivity. But I would say a majority of the hardcore fan base is technologically oriented, educated and in some cases affluent. So its likely they already have some form of high speed internet. But like most people they aren't taking full advantage of the speeds they get. You can easily cut the cable bill with download speeds of 10MB or higher. That's good enough to get 720p content on a standard sized LCD or Plasma TV. In fact if you have Verizon FiOS or AT&T U-Verse (which is what I have for Internet) TV then that is actually streaming or IPTV.

I also based this assumption over the arguments I have been having on ALMS Facebook Page and Ten-Tenths forum. Most of the griping about this decision is coming from the veteran part of the fan base shall we say. I wrote the primer to specifically get people up to speed on the technology that's available, some people already own something they can get the ESPN3 stream with. I can confirm that with the PlayOn Media Server, Nintendo Wii and Boot Camp on a recent MAC computer will allow you to stream ESPN3 through your Wii and onto your TV. So even if you have MAC you can do this (as long as it runs on Intel hardware). I believe the majority of the fan base is enterprising like this or willing to listen to advice instead of gripe about how their traditional methods of watching the racing has gone the way of the dinosaur.

I would argue that when the Versus Indy Car TV contract is up that Versus will opt not to re-up and Indy Car will find itself in nearly the same position. I do believe moving to a new chassis and having a few different engines will be a boost to the series in 2012 when the playing field will be leveled. But what happens with the Ganassi's and Penske's start shutting out all the other teams from victory again? They might see a slight rating boost from the excitement in 2012 but by 2014 they might find themselves back in familiar territory, a series no where near as popular as Sprint Cup and almost neck and neck with the American Le Mans Series in terms of popularity.

To Indy Car's credit they are already streaming races at the same time they are being shown on Versus or ABC.

As I keep telling anybody that will listen about the ALMS decision, the landscape of TV is about the change forever and will be drastically different by 2015.

Shows too expensive to do for normal linear TV which includes Cable/Sat TV will just move the internet, it has already started...


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The ALMS Web Streaming Primer Is Up!!


View it here as well -

The delay was caused by the hope to get funding for some hardware so I can show people how easy this is. I'm still hoping I can post some videos soon.

If you have any questions contact me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Updating My Blog and Adding Important Information

I have mentioned elsewhere on the internet that I will have a complete FAQ and Primer about the American Le Mans Series Internet Streaming and the best ways to get it.

I will be using this blog to explain this and to also keep people updated on the products you can use to access the ALMS stream from anywhere including track-side.

Here is Scott Atherton laying it out for everybody in case you haven't watched it.


Carefully watch Part and pay special attention to what Scott is saying at 6:20, you will have access period and its live, I want the rumors of anything but to stop and it will stop RIGHT here.



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