Tag Archives: Dan Wheldon

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.

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The Darkside to Collecting Diecast

29 Apr

In the weeks after Dan Wheldons fatal accident, when all of the wonderful tributes came rolling in, I pondered. I pondered several things, why do I love racing so much, what’s next for the Izod Indycar Series. The collector side of me wondered will this be like when Dale Sr. passed and the market was flooded with cars from his past. While it’s taken some time I’ve been able to pick some of those up because the price and interest waned considerably.

Now, there’s something new, something fresh for the diecast companies to latch on to and make a buck. But, this time it’s different. Dan didn’t own a collectables company like Dale did, Dan had a relationship with Hot Wheels. See while waiting for a ride to become available in the off season Dan did a voiceover for Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 animated series on Cartoon Network. Ok, while this may not be a role on the Simpsons or Family Guy, this did further the relationship between Indycar, Wheldon, and Hot Wheels.

Indycar diecast has always been a really odd road. Back in the 90’s we had companies like Onyx, Matchbox, and Racing Champions to select our favorite driver. The one I remember the most is the Scott Brayton #22 Amway car and flatbed semi. I have a couple of older diecast from those days Vasser, C. Fittipaldi, Papis, Sullivan, and Mario’s last ride.

Now we have Greenlight Collectables and Hot Wheels. Greenlight makes an excellent product, of course being based in Indy helps a lot. Hot wheels makes a decent very mass produced Indycar. I wouldn’t write home about it, but it does capture the paint schemes perfectly. I hunted down a Graham Rahal McDonald’s car because I was a huge Newman-Haas fan. Soon Hot Wheels will have some more cars added to it’s Indycar resume, including what will be undoubtedly rare by the end of the season…..a Lotus. These will be part of the Hot Wheels Racing Series.

Indy 500® Oval (National Guard)
Indy 500® Oval (Dad’s Root Beer)
Indy 500® Oval (Izod)
Indy 500® Oval (Lotus)
Indy 500® Oval (Sarah Fisher)
Indy 500® Oval (William Rast)

Table and info from 1stopdiecast.com

With all that it brings me to this. Greenlight released the Indy 500 winning William-Rast Dallara in 1:64 and 1:18. The “matchbox” car sized one can be picked up for as little as $8 on the internet. It’s the Hot Wheels tribute that has me up in arms. Let’s face it, as with all collectables the value is whatever it’s worth to whom ever buys it. This has been a bone of contention with me over the course of the 10+ years that I went from rolling  Hot Wheels on the floor to truly collecting. While working at Wal-Mart in the toy department I was introduced to a whole diffrent culture, and that’s when I made the move to collecting. I’m not one of those guys that show up at Walmart right as the pallets are brought out so I can get the overhyped, in my opinion, treasure hunt. I absolutely refuse to put more than one of single style of car in my cart, unless one of my family is getting one also. I hunt and collect 1:64th diecast. I DO NOT horde them or believe that by getting all of the one off paint schemes that I will put my children through college. That is a completely asinine assumption.

With that in mind when I saw that Hot Wheels was releasing a Dan Wheldon tribute I thought it was absolutely fitting. Crimson metalflake red, Lionheart flag on the side pods, Lionheart on the Real rider tires, signature an DW symbol on the front wing. It was a perfect tribute to such a great racer and two-time Indy winner. Proceeds from the car were to go to the Wheldon family, just a perfect situation. Knowing the collectors in my area, it’s going to be a 50/50 shot on me getting one. Reason being? Yes it is a special edition, I haven’t seen a driver specific tribute in the mainline series all my years of getting Hot Wheels. There are the driver or rider designed vehcles of Dale Jr., Danica, and Jorge Lorenzo but not a driver tribute. The other reason is I know what these guys around here collect alot of, Volkswagen and muscle cars, so my chances were decent.

I went on ebay a couple days ago to see if they had hit there yet. I was apalled to what I was seeing. An .88 cent car (walmart current price) with Dan Wheldon was going for $49! Now I can see the validaity in it, if it was an auction to raise money for the Wheldon’s but sadly it is not. This is the type of thing that embarrases me as a collector. If I’ve calculated this right a 5000% profit on a car because of his death seems a bit shitty at most. It makes me sick to think of myself as a collector of what truly is just a kids toy. Will I stop buying Hot Wheels? No. But I will abolutely refuse to buy, anything from the sellers on ebay that are trying to make a profit.

This is the new place I will start uploading blogs. Be sure to check me out on Twitter @Fujis123, friend me on Facebook (Ross Fujibayashi) so we can talk racing or whatever.

Finally,

Dan Wheldon was so much for so many people, I for one didn’t get to have the experiences others had with him. Although, after seeing the tributes, I now have a better understanding of what he meant to the fans. A great man, a great father, a great racer and teammate. This little bitty 1:64th scale tribute may not seem like much to people, well obviously the ones trying to make a buck. But, to those that knew him, the car is just like he was……perfect.