Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gnashing of Teeth - Fan Reaction to USCC Schedule

 Somehow I knew we wouldn't get through a complete day with the announcement of the long awaited 2014 USCC schedule; without the gnashing of teeth from some fans especially those not hosting a race at a nearby track.

 As I said in my previous post from all the information I gathered from sources around the web, I came up with the schedule I thought we would see and guess what? I was RIGHT!

 I had to make a small revision and move Laguna Seca to mid May and IMS to mid August, but I had the right number of venues and even some details about the split races.

 Enough patting myself on the back. I was hoping Mid Ohio was back on the schedule but its not, I know why and I guess if Mid Ohio wants to use a round of the USCC in the future they know what they need to do. This dilemma also faced Lime Rock a few years ago. There was rumblings that the series did not what to race there unless some improvements were made to the track itself. 

 Nonetheless Lime Rock is gone and you can read about why here

 I really wasn't shocked at the reaction to losing a couple of iconic circuits but saying because these track were off the schedule made it worse somehow is just emotional, magina garbage.

 There are legitimate reason why did add them and I covered some of these in previous post, but I don't mind repeating myself...

 1) Cost: The ALMS paddock is adding 30 hours of racing too its schedule and that does not include Le Mans which all of the factory teams will be going plus a few privateers.

 The Grand Am paddock is adding at least 22 hours as we don't know the time and race lengths for Laguna Seca which is often 4-6 hours or Road America which has been 500 miles/4 hours in the past as well.

 Teams are now getting budgets based on hours the car runs. The cars have become so bulletproof that many key parts don't need to be replaced unless damaged and some only after a certain number of hours have been run on it.

 If you remember Gunnar Jeannette father's team ran G-Oil recycled Synthetic Oil in its LMPC Chevy small block for the entire season and only opted for a refresh for Petit Le Mans because they had been losing hp over the course of the season, despite winning some races.

 That's just one example. 

 Ryan Dalziel and his team owner Peter Baron have both said carbon brakes which are on all the ALMS cars but GTC; the rotors can go for one complete season, while you're only replacing the pads for every race. That is a dramatic cost savings compared to the steel brakes Grand Am runs on all its cars.

  Again under cost, Grand Am DP team will be forced to upgrade their cars to get closer to LMP2 performance. The final specs have not been announced but according to Ricky Taylor who drives one of the DP Corvettes, it will consist of -

  •  Rear Carbon Diffuser
  •  Dual Element Rear Wing
  •  Longer splitter
  •  Paddle Shifting (available to Pro Am drivers currently)
  •  Increase in restrictor size (more air = more power)
  •  Carbon Fiber brake system

 While not cheap, its not overly expensive for a professional racing team but must be factored into the increased running cost (more hours run than before).

 2) Historical Connections and dated facilities

 Marshall Pruett said on Mid-Week Motorsports this was the reason why Mid-Ohio was left off the schedule. I have heard some of the same criticism coming from the Indycar and Pirelli World Challenge paddock too.

 The USCC by merging the two series envisionsions itself as the premiere sports car series in North America. Think I am lying? Bruno Senna is looking to do more races here and I know more than a few drivers and teams are considering running the North American Endurance Championship part of the schedule (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans) along with their Europeans commitments.

 Not that Mid Ohio is apart of that, but as I said with woeful bathroom facilities, unpaved portions of the paddock (especially when it rains) and the timing tower that dates back to the late 1970's; its time for the family to pony up some money to upgrade if they want back on the schedule.

 Now Lime Rock is a different case because as I said previously (I believe this was around 2007) LRP management (Skip Barber, et-al) was told by the ALMS it would not return to the track next season unless upgrades were made to the facilities and the track itself. Skip asked people who use the track for HPDE mostly to invest back into the track, which they did. So various upgrades and safety improvements where made.

 However with the potential of entries nearing 40-45 and having already planned split events elsewhere; the movers and shakers at IMSA felt the track just wasn't up to par anymore.

 This lead to quite a bit hurt feelings on the interwebs (Facebook, Racer and I'm sure elsewhere) especially those that live in the Tri-State area (NY, NJ, Conn) who had grown used to seeing Camel GT, then Grand Am and ALMS all come to the track.

 As I said I feel bit sorry for Skip and all the gang, but that's how the cookie crumbles and he had a plan B just in case he wasn't included, read the link above.

 I am looking forward to 2014 even more and keep saying to the disbelief of some, that the ALMS community will come out of this much better than the Grand Am community does. As soon as the Grand Am fan base comes to terms with this, the quicker the healing can begin, but I doubt that will happen, especially despite the upgrades to DP's, P2's end up dominating the series, which I think might happen.

 That's for another post however.

 PS - 

 Further changes are coming to the site especially as the ALMS season comes to a close and more announcements from teams coming, going, changing classes or leaving the series.

 My post will be forward to as soon as they let me know that will start happening. To make this more seamless, I will be switching to Wordpress.

 Stay tuned...

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