Archive | May, 2012

Master Debating

30 May

Week in week out someone seems to always bring up the Nascar vs Indycar debate. Each and everytime it ends with the Nascar fan or media member giving a “oh yeah well look at the scoreboard-esque” answer of “look at the ratings”. Let’s face it folks Nascar is a juggarnaut when it comes to motorsports in America. To the sponsors on those cars like Budweiser, Pepsico, and Lowe’s to name a few that’s all they want to know. Take Rheem Manufacturing Company for instance on the side of Kevin Harvicks car. They’ve closed plants, laid off thousands, moved lines to Mexico. Yet the name and races they sponsor his car seems to get bigger. Why, you ask? Because the numbers say they are still reaching 75 million people.
75 million…..seems like an almost made up number to appease the accounts on justifying sponsorship vs layoff.

I like Nascar, I’m not going to lie, but truthfully….I like any form of motorsports. My obvious bias is toward Sports Cars, I was born and raised on them. Grandpa raced and sold Porsches, and other German makes. Relatives worked on them, other relatives raced them in the SCCA. Dad was a Course Marshall, so its in my blood. The thing sports cars produce is close racing. I enjoy watching a driver go door-to-door with another driver lap after lap. Making a chess game of sort out of the race. No fake debris caution, no Chase format, just all out no holds barred racing from green flag to checkered flag.

All that brings me to this point. Last weekend, Indycar showed the world what the true meaning of racing was all about. It just wasn’t because oh golly gee its the Indy 500. It was about drivers over coming adversity, as cliché as it may sound, leaving it all on the track. Ya big effing whoop a Ganassi car won. Wahhhh cry me a river. Who cares! It was a great race all the way till the chute between 1 & 2 on the final lap! “But uhh Dario won again under caution after pushing him down there” Hello? Are you listening to your mindless dribble? It’s the Indy 500! If my own kid, grandparent, or parent were trying to dive under me and take my win I’d be hard pressed to not take away thier line.

For Nascar folks to bring up “Well look at what more people watch”, uhh ok ya. I watched your Coke 600. Nascar throwing a debris caution when the racing was getting fantastic between Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle, was pathetic. A huge chunk of rubber was on the backstretch in Indy and Beaux Barfield wasn’t quick to pull the yellow for the reason “they ran it over it’s in smaller pieces now”. Should Nascar do what they have to to make a show? Dear God no. They’ve tried to up to this point and several have not gone well.

Indycar maybe behind on sheer numbers, but on Sunday they most certainly showed who can truly put on a better show.

On a serious note though, after the events of the past year, I couldn’t think of a better way to get closure.

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Where Are They Now

14 May

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When Peugeot Sport shut down it’s LeMans Prototype program it sent a huge shock wave through the paddock and the worldwide race scene. For the first time since 2007 the Audi Sport team would not have it’s archrivel to compete against. The Velizy based team made the announcement to shutter the team on January 18, 2012. Leaving many to wonder what would happen with thier talented roster of drivers.

The two time 24 hour of Lemans champion, Alexander Wurz had already left the team to drive for the newly formed Toyota factory prototype. Wide speculation started that something was a miss with the French squad. Wurz was a teammate in Car #7 with Anthony Davidson and Marc Gené. Davidson, since the disbanding of Peugeot Sport is once again a teammate with Wurz at Toyota. Davidson is also the simulator driver for McLaren-Mercedes-Benz in Formula 1. Due to a testing accident the Toyota did not make it to it’s projected debut race the 6 hours of Spa. The car has received several aerodynamic changes since it’s official debut. Should know more in a few weeks when it rolls out of pit lane in La Sarthe, if it’s on par with the Audi’s.

Marc Gené however doesn’t have a full season ride. After Porsche works driver Timo Bernhard had a horrible shunt in Sebring while testing the Audi R18. For the Spa round of the WEC, Gené was called in to sub for Bernard. In the #2 Audi R18 Ultra he teamed with Loic Duval, a Peugeot driver with the Oreca team and 2011 Sebring winner. They took overall honors as the debut of the technological masterpiece R18 e-Tron Quattro didn’t go as expected. Loic Duval takes over the third driver spot with Bernhard, and Romain Dumas. Mike Rockenfeller has moved on to concentrate on driving the DTM arm of Audi Sport. With the addition of BMW and American sportscar ace Joey Hand. The DTM should be fun to watch.

Peugeot #9 drivers Sebastian Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud, have ventured back into the land of yard of Bricks. Bourdais landed a ride with Jay Penske’s Dragon Racing squad shortly before the Peugeot announcement once again ramping up speculations. Bourdais will be making a return to his hometown in June with the Dome-Prescarlo team, when they run the 24 hours of Le Mans. Teaming with Bourdais at Dome is another former Peugeot teammate Nic Minassian.

Simon Pagenaud has taken the helm of the Sam Schmidt #77 car. You may recall the #77 was driven by Canadian Alex Tagliani to a pole in the 2011 Indy 500. It was also driven by the late Dan Wheldon in his last race at Las Vegas. Pagenaud has proven to be a worthy advesary to Will Power on the road courses this year in what was an out powered Honda. The Honda Rocket as I’ve nicknamed him, had a good run going at Sebring in the Muscle Milk HPD ARx-03a. As the race went into the last hours, the fuel buckeye (where the refueling hose hooks too) fell off on the bumpy 17 turn course in central Florida. The mechanical failure ended what would’ve been a podium finish, at the 60th 12 hours of Sebring, thusly showing the petrol cars had started matching the performance of the Diesels.

Bourdais and Pagenaud teammate in the #9 Peugeot, Pedro Lamy will be running in the World Endurance Championship with Larbre Competition. He will be piloting the Pratt-Miller engineering twin to the ALMS Corvette Racing C6-ZR1 in the GTE-AM class. Talk about a contrast. The quiet woosh of the Peugeot 908 to the make-you-deaf-after-a-stint C6-ZR1. But hey beats the alternative of watching the race.

Peugeot #8 teammates Stéphane Sarrazin and Franck . Montagny, will both be piloting HPD ARx-03b’s this year from American based squads. Sadly they won’t be on the same team. Sarrazin will be teamed with another fast Scot, not named McNish or Franchitti, Ryan Daziel (Dee-El) and Enzo Potolicchio of Venezuela at Starworks Motorsports in the WEC. Starworks fresh off a 2nd place finish at the 24 hours of Daytona in the Daytona Prototype class, with Daziel, Potolicchio, Allan McNish, and 2011 GT1 world Champion Lucas Luhr (Muscle Milk HPD). Finished Sebring with a 3rd overall behind the Audi’s. Not bad for a car that showed up the week of the race. Unfortunately the HPD of Daziel, Potolicchio, and Sarrazin finished a distant 14th in P2 at Spa.

Franck Montagny was a surprise late edition to the Level 5 Motorsport squad for the 3rd round of the ALMS season at Laguna Seca. Luis Diaz, team owner Scott Tucker, and Montagny, brought the P2 class Level 5 HPD home in second overall to its P1 class big brother of Muscle Milk. They finished ahead of the PC class Oreca FLM of Core Autosport with Colin Braun at the wheel.