Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's About Time...



Cannot say how  'Uber satisfying I found this story, especially being totally cognizant of this subject for years...

And even if I'm a dyed in-the-wool Petrolhead,  cannot say for how many year's I've been forced to continuously breathe the never ending nauseous, toxic fumes 'O Diesel's everywhere I walk! Busses, Semi's, Delivery Vans and most annoyingly, the explosion of high 'N mighty PickemUp trucks, A-L-L of whom not only fowl the air with their nasty particulates, but also are gross noise pollution contributors as well...

Shooting Stars - 2014 edition: Road to Indy Hot Schues'



Continuing with this theme of profiling just some of the myriad 'O Rising Stars, primarily in Open Wheels,  with my original draft weighing in at 5-pages, per my usual, I've decided to split I-T into another two-part harmony. This time focusing upon the Stateside feeder series, with a last minutes nod to a current Sports Car BAD ARSE Hombre still dreaming of  winning the Indianapolis 500!

INDY LIGHTS
Although this theme is getting a 'Wee bit long in thy tooth, nevertheless not as near as long as the current chassis/engine package has been 'round, but it's become  quite redundant hearing how even though the series is lacking in quantity, it's not lacking in quality when it comes to driver talent.

Yet, I'd have to agree with this assessment, even if getting tired of hearing I-T, like isn't this true in a-L-L of the Feeder series? But just ask Open Wheel Standout Mathew Brabham how stiff the competition is, after the 'Aussie had simply walked away with the lower Mazda Road To Indy ladder rung series, claiming both the  FF2000 and Pro Mazda championships in convincing fashion.

Alas, Brabham, albeit in his Rookie season, a la Bloody Jack Harvey, has found the heavier  Indy Lights chassis more difficult to drive, and hence, it's been somewhat of an uphill battle to adapt to the 'Ol School Dallara IPS V-8 chassis which apparently still utilize, GASP! manual shifting; aye Karumba!

Meanwhile Gabby Chaves and Brabham's team-mate, the affable (and funny) Zach Veach, who's in his second Lights season have run up front all year long, with Veach scoring his breakout victory at  the season opener in St Pete, while ex-GP2 and Formula 1 hopeful Luiz Razia has constantly been at the sharp end  of the grid this year too.

As Brabham continued his winning ways by "Breaking his 'Duck" upon becoming the debutant Indy Lights winner during the Indianapolis Grand Prix weekend upon the  newly repaved road course, with Razia also claiming his inaugural Lights victory at Mother Speedway's Round-2 of the Double Header race weekend.

Hence, all five of these drivers, with NO disrespect to the other competitors are surely potential rising Open Wheel stars, albeit it was somewhat disheartening to hear Mikey Andretti say he wasn't  gonna buy any of the new Dallara IL15/AER Turbo-4 chassis next year. (As obviously somebody found Mikey some Dinero since Shelby Blackstock's just been announced graduating to Indy Lights to drive for Andretti Autosport next year...) Whilst it's been GURR-REAT! Seeing  a new name added to the championship conversation with the emergence of Balardi Auto Racing this season...

MID-OHIO
The Bloody Brit' Jack Harvey had his breakout weekend by winning both rounds of the Double Header format at the storied Mid-Ohio permanent road course venue, vaulting himself into second place in the points behind front runner Gabby Chaves, not Pedro; Hya! And third place Zachery Veach...


Point Standings
1) Chaves: 431
2) Harvey: 413
3) Veach: 407

MILWAUKEE
Going into the penultimate round, Zach Veach ultimately got his wish of winning on the famed Oval, albeit Andretti Autosport team-mate Mathew Brabham led for quite awhile before a late race restart after Luiz Razia caused a yellow-flag to be unfurled, saw Veach pass Brabham for the lead and  hold onto win with Gabby Chaves third, while Harvey had a somewhat quiet day, finishing P5...

Point Standings
1) Chaves: 466
2) Veach: 459
3) Harvey: 443

SONOMA
Had NO idea I'd be there live  in person, albeit I missed Saturday's Race-1 when attending the IndyCar 'B-I-G BOYZ autograph session, as it took us nearly the entire  Lights race  to get up to Turn-7 where there's NO loudspeakers or video  screens following collecting half of the Indy Cars field's "John Hancock's!" So really don't know what happened and couldn't hear the results... Which on Sunday I'd discover that Jack Harvey had walked I-T! (Saturday) With NO mention of Zack Veach; Hmm? Having now found out he finished seventh.


Watched Jack Harvey simply run away 'N hide on Sunday, although Gabby Chaves did what he needed  to do, running all alone in second place, as the two championship protagonists disappeared from the rest of the field, with all of the fighting being over the podium's final step... And although Harvey did everything possible, i.e.; starting from Pole, leading wire-to-wire, fastest lap, etc, Chaves  won on the title via (second) tiebreaker, due to his propensity of second place finishes, as that was fun watching both drivers doing their jobs! While apparently Veach had a lackluster weekend and  was never in the championship title fight...

Final Point Standings
1) Chaves: 547
2) Harvey: 547
3) Veach: 520

PRO MAZDA
Only two names I know in this series is points leader Spencer Pickett and Shelby Blackstock who's the son of Big Time Country Star Reba McEntire...

And having re-read Ryan's MRIT Mid-Ohio update, it's good to hear that there's two aspiring 'KuhNucks in the series, both being winners - with Scott Hargrove and Garett Grist  standing atop the podium, as we need  more than just thee Mayor 'O Hinchtown (James Hinchcliffe) flying the maple leaf in Indy Cars...

USF2000
Unfortunately I DON'T follow this MRIT feeder rung at all, and thus, won't even pretend to know who any of the rising stars are, which after all, is why there's always Junior Open Wheel Talent to fall back upon, even if Ryan's currently busy changing diapers, as Congrat's Daddy! But now get back to work and post some more news 'bout the Up 'N Comers; Hya!

SPORTS CARS
Originally wasn't in the plans to feature this category, since after all this is  a story 'bout single seaters! Yet, then again, there's so many single seater Feeder Series Boyz, aka Toyota Atlantics, etc who got squeezed out from progressing to IndyCar during that 'lil thingy called "The Split!"

Thus,  upon listening to a very entertaining Speed Freaks interview with a name I've heard of before, nee 19yr old Shawn Rayhall, whom I'd originally wondered if he was an unknown Rahal bro, Hya! I decided to include this BAD ARSE racer along with "the Taylor Brothers," while who knows whom I'm forgetting on the European side of the ladder, eh?


With another pair of Up 'N Comers being the "Brothers Taylor," aka Jordan & Ricky who are also pretty BAD ARSE Sports Cars piloto's on their own right, as the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree, eh? As in Y'all may have heard of their father Wayne Taylor, right?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Shooting Starz' - 2014 edition: European lads'



Otay, I'll confess up front that I really haven't paid much Attenzione to A-L-L of the numerous Feeder Series or their Rising Stars this year, as HELL! I can barely keep up with Formula 1 and IndyCar these Dazes; Crikeys Mates! As here's last year's riveting edition;


Thus I'm doing this in a slightly different format this year, as there's just simply too many names to chronicle, not enough time to do the necessary research, nor desire to do any cursory bio's right now. As the series are in NO particular order; Hmm? Perhaps I should go alphabetically, eh?

Nah, but I'll let Y'all figure out my method 'O madness, while I've gleamed some of my candidates from the following Mid-season review story below, especially since the European side  of the ladder seems to be missing entirely from television coverage Stateside. As I think "Peacock-lite" showed a total of two GP2 Feature Races this year? Having only seen Austria and Russia on thy 'Telie; Aye Karumba!

And I tend to miss out/forget about the Mazda Road To Indy (MRTI) shows, and when I do try to watch one, the JACKALOPES at "Peacock-lite," nee NBCSN decide Golf's more important than showing the advertised Indy Lights race; SHEISA! Can Y'all say Milwaukee...


GP2
Like aspiring American F1 hopeful and current GP2 Team Lazarus pilot Conor Daly recently said upon Autosport Radio, there's currently five Formula 1 reserve drivers competing in its ranks, as  I could only name one off hand: Felipe Nasr, (Williams Martini Racing) before learning of Stoffel Vandoorne ((McLaren Mercedes) when scribblin' about second generation F1 hopefuls.

Thus, painstakingly researching the current eleven Formula 1 Constructors, ('Whale, at least there were eleven Formula 1 Constructors when I began this, pre Caterham and Marussia's respective implosions...) I've unearthed the following additions. As Davide Rigon was the name that came to mind when trying to conjure up past GP2 champions not making the leap into F1 race seats, with the Italian being part of Scuderia Ferrari's reserves; while I've never heard of the 'Dane Marco Sorensen, a Lotus F1 reserve driver, as NO idea who the fifth F1 Reserve Hombre is? Unless Conor was speaking of Alexander Rossi, who's recently left his Caterham GP2 seat for the rosier confines 'O Marussia; OOPS! As what a true shame that he wouldn't get his deserved Homecoming debut at Austin; DAMN

So who knows how many of this aspiring crop will land in Formula 1 or perhaps IndyCar in the near future? While I haven't even mentioned the then runaway GP2 points leader Jolyon Palmer who's since clinched the championship title with a fine win in the Feature Race on the Streets of Sochi, so congrats Jolyon!


As the young Nasr, lying second in the championship prior to "Abu Double," wasn't far off the mark, with Sauber having announced the Brazilian as a Sauber F1 driver alongside Sweden's Marcus Ericsson just prior to this year's Brazilian GP, albeit causing quite the storm of controversy with two other Sauber drivers who thought they had contracts for 2015 to be the team's pilots...


FR 3.5
A few more Formula 1 Test/Reserve Drivers have found their way into this somewhat potential Feeder Series with Malaysia's Jazeman Jaafar (Mercedes AMG PETRONAS) and the much lamented 'Rooskie Sergey Sirotkin *Sauber) on the grid. As amazingly, the Russian driver has won this year in Formula Renault 3.5 along with making his  Formula 1 Friday FP1 (Free Practice) outing in his home country's Russian Grand Prix.

And a late season addition to the Formula 1 "simulator Jockey" (Test/Reserve Driver) ranks was Will Stevens, who drove this season for Strakka Racing. As Stevens was hoped to be on the F1 Grid for Friday practice in Suzuka at the very least but couldn't get his  necessary FIA Superlicense paperwork ironed out in time - as now the Russian-flagged F1 Constructor has gone into Administration a la rival back-marker Caterham F1...

Yet thanks to  Caterham's controversial crowd funding scheme, along with the FIA finally signing off on his mandatory  Superlicence, Messer Stevens  made his debutant Formula 1 race drive at season's end at "Abu Double" behind the wheel of one of the "Green Cars."

Meanwhile, Red Bull Junior Driver Carlos Sainz Jr. was the clear championship leader entering the final races with a  39-point advantage, along with five  wins to date, while Red Bull's got  another iron in the fire with French newcomer Pierre Gasly also being impressive, while I haven't even touched upon title contender Roberto Merhi.

The 23yr old Spaniard Merhi, a part of Mercedes "Junior team," and Mercedes DTM driver from 2012-13 made the leap back into single seaters for the Russian Zeta Course Formula Renault 3.5 team, which gave eventual champion Sainz a good run for his money, before wrecking in the season finale and slipping to third overall in the title standings.

Roberto has moonlighted as a Friday morning Free Practice driver for the struggling Caterham F1 team, having made his debutant outing for the beleaguered squad at Monza, with further outings this year, and is possibly sniffing around for an F1 seat in the future...


GP3
Continuing the theme of F1 "Simulator Jockeys:" Err Test/Reserve Drivers, Tio Ellinas (Marussia) is currently contesting this championship, while another Red Bull Junior Academy driver Alex Lynn from Britain is apparently running away with the show and is tipped to win this year's championship - which he led by 31-points ahead of 'Kiwi Richie Stanaway. (At the time of this story's writing...)

Going into the season finale at Abu Dhabi, Alex Lynn held a comfortable points lead of nearly 50 markers (185-points) ahead of the runner-up logjam, including the likes of: Dean Stoneman (138) Marvin Kirchhofer, (137) Jimmy "NOT MARCUS" Eriksson (127) and Richie Stanaway. (123)

As Lynn clinched the title at Abu Dhabi during qualifying thanks to GP3 rival Kirchhofer taking Pole and claiming the 4-bonus points associated with it, while Stoneman needed a clean sweep for any chance of winning the title...


F3
Otay, so the only name I know out of the 439 Formula 3 variations is the much Ballyhooed Max Verstappen, as we'll see  how far he can go up the ladder now that he's another of  the myriad of the hopeful "B-I-G BULLS" lads - whom I scribbled 'bout briefly in;


OTHERS
Along with 'Kiwi Richie Stanaway, I also know a little 'bout GP2 Hotschue Mitch Evans, especially since kidding about him not being Cornfuzed as the Unlimited Hydroplane chauffer instead; Hooah! (As I'd say I did pretty good here, having unwittingly picked the second & third place GP3 runners going into Abu Dhabi...)

As I'll confess I know Nothing about Ferrari Junior GP2 driver Raffaele Marciello or German GP3 driver Marvin Kirchhofer, other than I like his name...

While another name I know 'bout is Dean Stoneman, if memory serves me right? Stoneman was the winner of the 2010 F2 championship, ironically beating somebody named Jolyon Palmer to the crown, as I first heard of Dean's name upon getting a test outing for Williams F1 as part of his championship prize.

Unfortunately Stoneman's career hit a major speed-bump when  being diagnosed with testicular cancer and I lost track of him; so was glad to read he'd won both of his Porsche Supercup races upon his return to the cockpit and has won a very impressive five rounds (2 Feature & 3 Sprint races) of this year's GP3 championship...

And that's all I'm gonna scribble here, since after all Ryan of JOWT is the master of this domain, while I just like to try 'N dip my "Balls" in the water, Seb' Vettel; Oh Never Mind! As perhaps I need a 'bwankie like Seb, eh? Hur-hur-hur...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sorry Greg...




No Fenders "B Team" Boyz Claudio' and Tomaso Schlepping with the McLaren Boyz on Halloween Nite this year in Austin, Texas. (N & C' Photos)
And as typical in life, especially here in Nofendersville, I totally forgot 'bout the late Greg Moore's anniversary this Halloween, which commemorated sadly, the 15th anniversary of his death at Fontana  Raceway during CART's 1999 season finale.

As I was simply purusing racer.com's IndyCar section to see what the latest news was on November 6th, after my return from COTA, and stumbled into thee Mayor 'O Hinchtown's most excellante tribute to his Hero, Greg Moore...


But that's not to say that I don't  remember the irrepressible 'KuhNuck, nee Messer Moore, albeit my strongest memory is always his absolutely "CRACKERS" Banzai Dive-bomb move at Portland Int'l Raceway!

Along with casually asking Mad Max Papis at Mother Speedway during Legends Day 2013 if he still wore red gloves? To which I can still hear Massimiliano in his Italiano brogue, saying I will always wear red gloves, as red gloves  RULE!

Yet feel somewhat relieved that I was none other then first at the racetrack on his anniversary and then celebrating downtown in Austin, appropriately having my picture taken multiple times with Formula 1 Show car's, etc on Halloween nite, which seems like the proper way to honour the Kuhnaidiun driver, eh?

As I did commemorate his tenth Anniversary in;

Or Y'all can skip directly to my personal reflections upon a Greg Moore weekend, where Tacoma Bureau Chief Mary Ellen took me to many of his past haunts in;


Then again, while Greg Moore's getting A-L-L of the Attenzione here, let's NOT forget just some of the other fallen Open Wheel Racing Drivers, i.e.; Paul Dana, Jeff Krosnoff, Jovy Marcelo, Tony Renna, Gonzalo
Rodriguez, Henry Surtees
and Dan Wheldon, to name just a few...


Not to mention Jules Bianchi who recently was airlifted home to Nice, France to continue recovering from his horrific coma inducing accident at Suzuka...