Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pickett to Indycar? We'll know before Petit Le Mans: Updated!

 Not surprised at all, but given the myopic, self-indulgent reactions to this story by some, it seems they are surprised Pickett sees no value in -

  1. Running WEC which is poorly attended and only carried live flag to flag on a channel similar to Speed TV but with far less reach (Motors TV). Only available in the United States via Speed2 Online Channel or WEC's web site.
  2. Is not enthralled with P2 and its restrictions of having a silver driver unless USCR goes around the FIA/WEC and allows 100% Pro line ups.
  3. No possibility of a P1 program from HPD or Porsche in 2014
These are all reasonable to bail on the USCR. The new series sees no value in P1 and wants to ensure its Daytona Prototypes even if they have to battle with P2 cars is still the top class and the fastest cars on track.

 While there's no driver restriction in DP's, they are largely devoid of the challenging aspects that P1 and Indycar offer.

 Lots of moving pieces remain for 2014 but the picture is starting to become very clear as we head into the final three races of the last ALMS season.

 Update (9/25)

 Marshall Pruett on Mid-Week Motorsports when I asked for updates on what Pickett might be doing next season, dropped a bit of a bombshell when he suggested they might do a GT-D program with a certain Tri Pointed Star brand (Mercedes Benz). 

 This isn't shocking really considering Klaus Graf has been racing with Rowe Racing in VLN series and N24 the last two seasons. In case you didn't know Rowe is one of Mercedes Benz SLS Customer Sports supported teams.

 The pointed star has dominated endurance racing this season among the GT3 cars (N24, Dubai, Bathurst, Spa 24 and Blancpain Finale 1000km race). It also has at least one victory in every major GT3 championship but I think Super Stars. But it has victories in GT Open including an overall victory at Jarma, at Zandvoort with the FIA GT Series and I think in British GT. Buk and Gotz are also second in the ADAC GT (Germany) championship with a race coming up this weekend.

 My guess is this would be a stopgap until a decision could be made either on IndyCar or LMP1 for WEC, maybe USCC (2016) and Le mans.

 They said in Oct they would announce their intentions... We'll see.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Just a blurb I've heard/saw, limited coverage so I'll do it!

Looks like Jaime Alguersuari is looking at an Indy Car seat next season with chassis builder Dallara keen to see him get a seat (pay for his seat?).

 Read about hurr

 I don't like calling these drivers "rejects" like some F1 elitist try to do. That is disrespectful to the highest degree. F1 is more about being in the right car, at the right place and right time in history. Just like it looks like Hamilton jumped shipped as he knew MCLAREN might be struggling with cars and with a new engine supplier (Honda) as the relationship with Mercedes had broken down.

 I find it interesting that Bumei took a seat at the Toyota LMP1 team and Hartley (former test driver as well) is in Grand Am (USRC).

 F1 is awfully crowded to get a good seat. With Mark Webber leaving to take the Porsche LMP1 seat (likely lead driver status as well), that leaves one quality seat open with all the current drivers being considered.

 Its pretty safe to assume no matter who wins GP2, GP3, any F3 series or World Series By Renault Championships, he will not get a front  line drive. 

 The last GP2 Champion to get a front line drive? Lewis Hamilton.... (MBZ teammate Nico Rosberg as well but who's counting?) 

 When I cover what's wrong with F1, that will be one of the main topics, stay tuned...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Serious Changes Coming!

I have been working on the layout of this thing for over a month.

Look for nice new look coming in Sept, but until then enjoy.

Currently I am working on two post and the second of my series of videos How we fix racing in North America.

One of the new post might cause some controversy as people really like to use sports as an escape for their personal problems and the world's problems. That however is totally impossible and very naive.

 That post will highlight how societies problems appear in motorsport for all those that want to look.

 A few nuggets -

  1. Why lack of diversity should be one of racing's biggest concerns
  2. How the widening income disparity could doom racing in the long term
I see the writing on the wall and unless we the fans and the track owners don't do something about it will be all over by the time I'm 60 (I'm 43).

 Update #1

 I can now confirm the next Let's Fix Motorsport in North America will also focus on the problems in Europe and in Australia. It will be a Live Google + Hangout, so if you're interested in attending, let me know.

 This means I may need to ramp up the other changes I need like the Twitter page for this site, Facebook fan page and all the associated graphics to with it for a "professional" look :)


Friday, August 23, 2013


 Ah A1GP all over again, no seriously -

 A European group called World Series Operations with links to the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in 2005-09 and subsequent attempts to relaunch the championship is known to have put forward plans for a winter series under the IndyCar Global Challenge banner.

Read more:
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 Boy would I love to see this happen. Andretti is in support of this, which shouldn't surprise anybody. 
 They took over the Team USA A1GP operations and ran it in 2008 with Marco, Charlie Kimball (recent winner) and J.R Hilibrand.

 Clearly there is some interest in a winter racing series. GP3 runs a series in Asia in the winter time, mostly in the middle east. A1GP is where the idea for a winter series in modern times was born and did very well. In fact when the merger between IRL and CCWS happen and the Surfer's Paradise round was dropped, A1GP picked it up.

 They never made it, as the owner of the series Tony Teixeira was unable to get his cars and equipment out of a London impound yard and the Nikon sponsored race at Surfer's was canceled 5 days before practice was to start.

 That was was eventually taken over by a V8 Supercars event that features usually Indy Car drivers sharing a car with V8 series regulars.

 I loved A1GP, it was a good idea that should return.

 Let Derrick Walker and Indycar know if you support this move -


GT-D will see the most changes in USCR's debt season

 A continued discussion from this post, I hope your enjoying it and find it easy to follow along, I understand it can be confusing at times.

 Now where were we...

 Actually it was suggested by Cory over at that I shorten my blog post a bit, he believes many readers suffer from ADD. I don't think you can be a sports car racing fan and have ADD, it just wouldn't work.

 Anyway, we'll finish up with the ALMS GTC teams and I'll give you a final count of what the grid will look like next season.

 Last time I talked about the TRG and its switchover from Porsche to Aston Martin. I also talked about Alex Job Racing and the possibility of them switching from Porsche as well.

 If that happens, like it did in 2008 when Porsche was in triage mode and expanded support to Flying Lizard to three cars after Tafel Racing (there's a blast from the recent past huh?) left to join Ferrari (and give them a mighty run to the 2008 GT Championship). Porsche could be again in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar spot in the United States that they are not the prefered brand for endurance sports car racing.

 Especially with Mercedes Benz dominating the Endurance races this season. Bernd Schneider has had an unbelievable string of successes this season. Not only did he win the Nurburgring 24hr race, but the Dubai 24 to open the season, Bathurst 12 hr and finally the Spa 24 a few weeks ago.

 In fact if you don't count Porsche's victory at Le Mans which honestly was a bit tainted by Aston Martin's valiant run and death of Allan Simonsen, Porsche has not won a major international race this season. In fact they may not win any national championships of note this season. At least Manthey is defending International GT Open Champion but they aren't racing in that series this season, to focus on WEC and the factory Porsche effort.

 That just means there are several competitive marks/brands and all of them are interested in the merged series next year. In fact the only momentum towards next season seems to be in the slowest class, GT-D.

 With that in mind, where does that leave Flying Lizard, Patrick Dempsey and JDX Racing?

 I think we're about to see how deep Seth Neimans loyalty runs toward Porsche. Since they were not picked to run the Porsche factory effort in the WEC and Porsche was not going to release the 991 based car to customers yet, Flying Lizard severed their ties and for 2013 moved down to GTC where ironically you are forced to run Porsches. That mean losing the services of not just Jorg Bergmeister but also Patrick Long, as he scrambled to find work and landed rides with Park Place in Grand Am and Core Autosport in the ALMS.

 As the preeminent Porsche Semi-works team since 2007, it would be hard to imagine them going another direction.

 For Dempsey-Del Piero, entering GTC was viewed as a stopgap measure to keep his team together while Mazda sorted out its SkyActiv Diesel program that was originally slated to be installed in Dempsey's Lola Coupe. But that was not to be as the birth of the SkyActiv racing engine was difficult and that part of the program with Dempsey was scrubbed. They decided instead to reskin Speed Source's Mazda RX-8's to make them Mazda 6's since that was the car the SkyActiv diesel production engine was going to debut in.

 It was a failure from the start and thankfully will be shelved next season. But what does that mean for Patrick Dempsey for USCR and Le Mans?  If GX lap times are any indication, I don't think that is the direction they are going even if they go back to P2.

 He could just opt to stay in GT-D and this is where I believe a few Cup cars might make their way onto the GT-D grid next season.

 JDX Racing has no connections to Porsche but could be in line for one of the many Semi-works programs slated to be in GT-D next season. I know Audi, Bentley, SRT, Nissan and Benz are actively seeking partners (you buy the car, they supply the pro drivers  and tech support).

 The same goes for N-GT, even if they run in Yokohama Cup as well, that doesn't not signal any allegiance to the brand.

 My prediction is that one of these teams will not return for 2014 and that if there are less than 3 teams that want to run Cup cars next season, then there will be no Cup cars next season.

 No reason to balance what is possibly a of minimum of ten GT3 cars to one or two Cup cars

 As it stands I have at least 10 confirmed entries in GT-D, all FIA or upgraded Grand Am GT3 cars (Fall-Line, AJR, Black Swan, AIM, Scuderia Corsa & TRG-Aston Martin) based on present car count and historical norms.

 Its likely more and here's why -

  •  Fall Line has fallen back (no pun) to a one car effort (was two) in order to continue to develop the cars for next season (committed to USCR and GT-D). Its likely they will return with a two car effort and support from Audi (drivers/tech support). +1
  • Black Swan hasn't made it official yet but has expressed interest in at least a partial USCR schedule next season. +1
  • Peter LeSaffre (Green Hornet) has sold his SLS GT3 according to John Dagys. An announcement is expected soon +1
  • Global Motorsports Group (GMG) has competed in the ALMS GTC class before, they switched to Audi R8's this season in World Challenge, so I am going to assume we will see them a few times next season +1
  • Ben Keating is first buyer of the soon to be built SRT Viper GT3 car +1
  • Nissan is likely to enter a car for its current US GT Academy Winner Bryan Heitkotter as it has been doing with its other drivers in Blancpain and FIA GT +1
  • Bentley is actively looking for partners (semi works) +1
  • Elton Julian's Dragonspeed team has a Audi R8 LMS Ultra. Given Julian's history in the ALMS and the fact that he runs a LMPC car for somebody, I'm sure he would like to enter his Audi into GT-D

 Out of those seven, six are likely full season entries, well GMG is the likely part-time entry focusing on World Challenge.

 That means of the current total of 18 cars in GTC/Rolex GT combined, we'll have a field of at least 17-18 regular season entries, that could easily double for Sebring, Petit, Daytona and Watkins Glen.

We'll just have to see what happens...

FIA GT3 in USCR: How do we get down to 35-45 entries as John Dagys has mentioned? I'll Show You....

 When John first said that, I was taken aback as I didn't see how that could be possible, but then I thought about it more and as rumors have turned into reality; Its very possible to get a combined field of 60+ cars down to about half of that plus a few more.

 Let's take stock of what we have in GTC and Rolex GT currently. 

 At Kansas last weekend, 10 GT cars showed up and raced.

 Next weekend's ALMS@Baltimore, 9 GTC cars are entered.

 For a grand total of 19. That will fluctuate 1-2 cars in either series because Grand Am has only two races left, while the ALMS has three including Petit.

 What has been confirmed by several sources is that the GX class which was initially thought to be folded into the new GT-D class will not happen. I think this forced the hand of Stevenson Motorsports who bowed out of the series next season to focus on the Continental Tire series.

 Also factoring into this is: Confirmed by Will Turner of Turner Motorsports, that BMW will not support his Prep 2 (Tube Frame) BMW M3's next season. 

 The 4 Series is the sport coupe that BMW will be promoting next season as they just announced that the current M3 bodyshells will be replaced by the 4 series coupe in 2014 DTM.

 So in effect no tube frame cars at all. Mazda I assume will make a formal announcement soon about its intentions, which are rumored to be moving to a customer support roll.

 60 cars, minus 5+3 = 52 or broken down by series -

 All GX cars, both Turner BMW's and the Stevenson's Camaro

 *I am not counting the Marsh Racing Corvette because its been already announced they will be moving up to a DP Corvette.

 That's not all the carnage, that's just the beginning!

 I believe all the Porsche GT3 Cup cars are in jeopardy as well. They might now all disappear from the series but they will not be competitive and will drop away completely by the end of the season in 2014.

 This is mostly from my personal belief that nobody buying a brand new FIA spec GT3 wants it to be dumbed down to Grand Am Porsche GT3 Cup/ALMS GTC speed.

 So with that, let's talk about what will happen to the teams that currently run these cars.

 From the Grand Am side of things, that is two regular season entries; Park  Place Motorsports and Magnus Racing.

 Nobody knows these teams intentions for next year at the moment but I expect something next month as both series start to wind down. That said John Potter spoke to John Hindbaugh on Mid-Week Motorsports about the history of Magnus and the possibilities of next season. Potter didn't confirm anything or really tip his hand, but from what he said. I believe he'll be in the USCR next season and in a FIA GT3 spec car, maybe a Porsche, maybe not.

 Park Place on the other hand is a Porsche specialist out of Dallas, TX. Similar to Turner Motorsports with BMW, they live and breathe the cars they specialize in and that's what they race. Weather that is their current Cup car modified to roughly World Challenge spec (larger engine inlet, ABS) or soon to be announced 991 based Porsche 911 GT3-R is unknown.

 So that's Magnus confirmed, Park Place unconfirmed and not on the entry list at Laguna Seca in two weeks.

 Things are a bit more firm over in the ALMS paddock...

 TRG (The Racer's Group) announced they would be the US representative for Aston Martin Racing late last year (2012). We haven't seen much from this, only a flash here and there, mainly in SCCA World Challenge GTS with modified GT4 Vantages.

 I personally saw the cars at Long Beach earlier this year (2013). 

 However that is changing with the official US competitive debut of the Vantage GT3 car at this weekend SCCA World Challenge round at TRG's home track (where they are based) Sonoma. I am going to assume TRG will finish the ALMS GTC season with Porsches but at Daytona next Feb they will have Aston Martins.

Testing at Sonoma

 Buckler himself will return to the cockpit for this race, I am not sure if that will carry over into next season, I sort of doubt it.

 Alex Job Racing can go in one of several directions. Since they broke out of their Porsche specialist mold a few years, they have successfully run an Audi R8 LMS Grand Am (Winners at Daytona 24) and run a Ferrari in the very competitive ALMS GT class with Yokohama tires. 

 I am fairly sure, they will be defending their Daytona 24 class victory but with what is the question? They have connections to Audi via Brad Kettler, Bill Sweedler owns the Ferrari F458 GT and of course AJR are defending GTC class champions in the ALMS. Alex Job himself is on record saying he would buy whatever car was competitive and give him the best chance of winning. In the past, that usually was a Porsche, but that might not be the case any longer and here's why.

 The Ferrari F458 GT3 car is extremely easy to get a good lap time from. This has been echoed around the world if you bother to listen. The latest to sing its praises is former Indycar driver Alex Tagliani who liked it so much, he put it on the pole at Kansas last weekend and has had only limited running in the car. He said it reminded him of his days in Toyota Atlantic with Anthony Lazaro who also drives a Ferrari F458...

 Now that AJR has a connection with Ferrari and is currenting running two cars in two classes, its is not much of a stretch to assume he could run both the GT3 and GT versions of the cars. In fact, I think it would be idea. Sweedler and McNeil can run Ferraris in GT-D with a Pro co-driver, while Townsend Bell and Leh Keen can continue to drive the GT-LM car.

 If you're reading this Alex, be sure to put a check in the mail or at least invite me into paddock next season at Long Beach...

 From there its a bit muddy and I talk about the possibilities here



Nevermind The Bollocks.... Here Comes FIA GT3!

 More pressure on the USCR to accept FIA GT3 and I think its working.... Pirelli World Challenge Series announced  two weeks ago, they would allow full FIA GT3's into the series next year, no changes.

 Bentley has stated publicly on two occasions, here at official public showing at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and here on Racer via Marshall Pruett; That they would NOT build a version of their new GT3 car just for US regulations. 

 That means the trial balloon that Scot Elkins launched in a press release to John Dagys and said in an interview with Leo Parente on Drive/Shakedown that FIA GT3 cars would be balanced to current Porsche Cup performance, caused Porsche NA to also play the press release game by announcing a US only Porsche GT3 Cup "America". Of course that was a fishing expedition, I wonder how many interested parties have contacted them?

 Its very likely that the USCR will also accept unmodified FIA GT3 cars (ie: No Spec Wing), they MAY get a air restrictor but I don't think the data set I have supports that. Even if the FIA spec Audi R8 GT3 LMS Ultra as tested by Brad Kettler (Audio Customer Sports NA) is four seconds a lap faster than the Grand Am spec car, it still 2-3 seconds slower than the other classes.

 For the teams currently in the GT class of World Challenge that run non-FIA GT3 cars (Cadillac, Volvo and the Porsche Cup) their cars have Traction Control and/or ABS already. 

 The Volvo being AWD is not legal for any FIA/SRO run series. But the Cadillac could possibly be homologated as Cadillacs are sold in Europe and the CTS-V's direct market competition is BMW (M3) and Mercedes Benz (C63).

 Memo to the brass at GM:

 Why not?

 With North America finally getting on the FIA GT3 bandwagon it opens up possibilities for the USRC which has lost all its momentum after its announcement last year. The slow drip of rules and regulations has not helped because many teams really want to compete in the series next season but want to know what the regulations will be for each class.

 The main question marks are:
  • Daytona Prototype BoP vs ACO P2
  • Adjustments to FIA GT3 cars
 We'll focus on GT3 cars because I don't find the new class structure for Prototypes all that exciting, it's often not even the best race on-track.

 You are about to see an explosion of GT3 cars in America and many teams will run both World Challenge AND the USRC, especially when the Le Mans break comes up. So it's KEY for Scot Elkins and the braintrust at USRC to just allow FIA GT3 cars as-is with MAYBE a air restrictor to slow them down.

 This will save the teams money and I am not one usually to say something like this. But the fewer changes that have to be made between teams that want to run World Challenge or European teams that may come over to run Daytona or Sebring, the better.

 The potential for both series grids to be huge just got a massive boost.

 Right now both ALMS & Grand Am are averaging between 30-32 entries for the shorter races (24 for Grand Am in Kansas) that make up the majority of the season. 

 John Dagys who currently blogs for Foxsports/Speed says to expect 35-45 full season entries in the new series.

 But didn't I just say both series (Grand Am and ALMS) average 30-32 entries per event save for Sebring, Daytona? Put another way, that's 60-64 cars if you combined both fields since no Rolex GT cars have run in the ALMS this season.

 How does it get pared down to 35-45 cars? 

 Read how here


Monday, August 12, 2013

The beginning of a Fan Forum?

 A few days ago, Leo Parente and some of this staff at Drive Network/Shakedown got together to tackle the mammoth task of repairing the sport of auto racing in America, which is
badly needed.

 I also made a video reply to their 30 mins video. 30 mins is not enough time to get to all the problems, not just in America but around the world. So I plan on making a series of videos in the hopes of generating interested in a fan forum.

 The only way to keep this opaque sport from self-destruction and that's for the fans that watch the races on TV and attend the races in person to speak up!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Thoughts on this weekends racing action

1) Props to fellow Californian Charlie Kimball for his first victory in the Indycar series

 He drove a great race, was fast all day.  Another caution-free run at Mid-Ohio and the decision to split the strategy from the other Ganassi cars benefited him greatly. But he had to make make a daring pass on Simon Pagenaud to secure the victory. Pagenaud actually had a enough of a lead to beat the pit lane/stop delta time needed to stay ahead. 

 He came out ahead of Kimball but with cold tires couldn't hold him off.

 Not sure what happen to Sato as his weekend went from bad to worst. I believed he finished 1 lap down with transmission issues but finished the race.

 2) What happen to BMW in Moscow?

 Only Farfas managed to make it into superpole qualifying only for it to be cancelled because of President Putin's plane flying in the airspace required for the helicopter to take aerial shots.

 Farfas finished on the podium (3rd) and Derek Werner finish 7th.

 Anyway the short of it is; Spengler's chances of defending his title took a serious blow when he was bullied off the track by Mortara and finished 1 lap down in 19th. Being 27 points behind with four races to go; Rockie is one victory and Top 10 finish ahead of Spengler and doesn't appear ready to start having reliability problems since he dominated most of this race and won with ease.

 Joey Hand got another Top 10 (8th) finish which is more than I can say about Andy Priaulx. He continues to struggle even with a car change for 2013 (He driving Hand's car from 2012). Andy has had one bright spot during his time in DTM, one top ten finish last year. He was never a dominant driver in WTCC, he was consistent points scorer with about 3 victories on average since 2004.

 I guess he's not cut out for DTM, which isn't surprising, plenty of former F1 drivers have tried to win in DTM and haven't. It will be very interesting to see if he's continues in DTM next season because the only other outlet for Priaulx might be 3rd driver duties in USRC with RLL Team BMW. 

 Of course its possible BMW might decide that Hand needs to focus on DTM, which would open up a seat for regular driving duties in USRC, but I think John Edwards is vying for that spot.

 With four races left in DTM and four races after this weekend's ALMS@Road America combination race with Grand Am, the silly season could start in earnest a bit early and people's lives could be drastically different by Christmas.

 If you haven't seen the race, check it out -


 3) Remember Jose Maria Lopez? 

 In 2007, he was recruited by Peterson/White Lightning who was partnering with the new Corsa Motorsport team who was also fielding a Ferrari F430. Brand new tub from Italy.... In opening qualifying, he managed to wreck a two race old car. We wouldn't see Corsa again until the Utah race and then a year later when they tried to run a hybrid electric car for the first time in the ALMS.

 Lopez was tapped in the media for the US Formula 1 team that was to be based out of the Charlotte, NC area.

 When that failed, Lopez was a regular in the Argentinian Touring Car Championship (TC2000), where's he's two time champion ('08-'09). He also made some appearances in the final years of the FIA GT series before it moved too its GT1 World format. 

 I'm fairly sure he's done some Blancpain races as well, but don't quote me on that.

 In any event he won race #2 at the WTCC race in Argentina where he was a guest driver. Even though he benefited from a reversed grid, he steadily increased his lead and was helped out tremendously by a stop-n-go penalty given to Yvan Muller who was running him down after starting 8th but was already 3rd after one lap.

 Race #1 was another whitewash by Yvan Muller who increased his point lead yet again. He could actually quit now and nobody would catch him. I don't know what the magic number is, but I may send a Tweet out to Martin Haven to see if he has any idea.

 Rumors are swirling that Muller might be a teammate of Seb Loeb when he makes his WTCC debut next season in a factory backed Citroen.

 Update #1

 Muller has signed with Citroen -

 There are new regulations for 2014,  stay tuned as I hope to have a Touring Car expert to explain it not only to me but the rest of you. All we know thus far is the cars will be drastically different and all races will be standing start. Its believed BMW will not return to the championship next season, leaving only FWD cars to compete in 2014.

 Next top for the WTCC, Sears Point! I would love to support the series but the truth is, I am saving up for a trip I will discuss very soon and it's too inconvenient to get to the track without a car.

 4) Another interesting weekend for the British Touring Car Championship.

 All the races were very active, lots of close racing. I guess these new championship specific cars are a success.

 The results and standings are here

 If you want to watch any of this stuff in the United States, you have to wait until the off-season on Speed. But Speed is going to be defunct August 17th, so where will you be able to watch this?

  •  If you have access to the Speed 2 web site, both the BTCC and WTCC are shown there I believe both live or time-shifted.
  • DTM streams their races live on YouTube and its not Geo-Blocked so you can watch it here.
 Failing that you have another way to access this and all the racing you can stand. I will discuss that soon, so stay tuned.



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