Monday, April 30, 2007

Milkshakes and Indy

LOOK OUT Danica… There’s a new Woman in town. And she’s gunning for you.

By now you’re well aware of the fact that Robin Miller’s new “squeeze” Milka Duno took center stage, err BACK stage at Kansas City.

Duno qualified dead LAST for yesterday’s KC LOTTERY 300, ending up 21st. GEEZ! Even Marty “The Back marker” Roth qualified ahead of her. And Danny B. pointed out to me, Duno was 6 ½ miles off the pace. Then again its funny thinking about how qualifying at 208mph is SLOW!

There were also three females competing in the ARCA race as well as a lone female competing in the Craftsman Truck event, all taking place in KC this past weekend...

And you know you’re really desperate for racing when you make a conscious decision to sit down and watch an entire Indy Car race… But it looks like Tony “Ronnie” George is once again laughing all the way to the bank… Since the stunt worked? I mean it got me to pay attention to the (GASP!) IRL. Or should that be “Days of our Lives?”

Talk about your perfect segway… As High School Cheerleading proceeded the Indy Car race. And the Firestone pre-race show seemed more like a fashion gala then a pre-race show as all of the “big name” drivers preened for the cameras.

Top billing went to Dan “Spike” Wheldon, whom seems to always play up the cheeky Brit along with wearing the latest sunglasses. And I’m surprised that he doesn’t have L’Oreal as a personal sponsor…

Then over to TK (Tony Kanaan) who had a super great attitude prior to the race… Before cutting over to the Penske boys. Going to commercial break the announcer boomed “There’s Milka!”

In this “Made for TV” segment, the travails of Milka duno’s ordeal to pass her rookie test at KC were chronicled, before going live to Milka. Yet I found her interview pleasing as Milka seemed pretty down to earth about her day’s objectives.

Yet not to be outdone, they immediately interviewed Danica… Asking her about whether or not this was going to be the race that brought her momentum for the Month of May? And perhaps it’s just me, but Danica seemed a little bit “Bitchy!” (I’m supposed to be the lead female interviewee)

And then it was time to go racing… With “Spike” thoroughly dominating the event. Yet I sat there laughing heartily out loud as none other then Danica and TK tangled in the pits! Scott Goodyear pointed out, you never have teammates running into each other during a pit stop!

TK was so upset by the lack of communications, that Jack “I Wanna Nap” Arute (Stupid segment with Arute talking up the Jet Lag issue of flying back from Motegi) claimed that he’d come over the radio, furiously telling the team that if that ever happened again he’d NEVER drive for them again!

And later on they played the pit stop via Danica’s radio. And you hear Go-Go-Go-Go-Go, Whoah- Whoah- Whoah- Whoah- Whoah… (OOPS!!!)

Danica rode around on-track while Kanaan went down 8 laps during pit work to replace broken suspension parts. And where’s Sarah Fisher? She’s 2 laps down in 13th while Duno’s 4 laps down in 16th…

And they pointed out how Duno’s spotter Pauncho “Villa” Carter was religiously reminding Milka to keep her foot planted on the floor! Keep your speed up!!! As Duno soldiered on running some 5-8mph slower than Wheldon. Milka’s top laps were in the 207mph range while her average speed was 203. With Wheldon blitzing the field at 211+!

And yet Duno finished the race (14th) which is much more than can be said for Marco andretti. Who once again retired due to handling issues, as it was way too SCARY out there for Marco… Perhaps AGR will want to borrow Milka’s set-up notes for Indy?

Next up, the Indy 500

Leader of the Pack?

Yeah, so it was mostly a way of getting television exposure and came largely due to the different pit strategy that PKV Racing employed. But rookie FrenchmanTristan Gommendy has now led the Long Beach and Houston Champ Car races.

And although I appreciate Robin Miller’s satirical nickname for the young paying driver, labeling the Frenchman as “Christian Comedy” largely due to his unknown abilities, could Robin have to change his tune?

At Long Beach Gommendy led 13 laps before having to pit for fuel, while his countryman the “Hamburglar” was unwilling to attempt passing for the lead, secure in the knowledge that Gommendy needed petrol.

In Houston, once again at the tail end of the race Gommendy found himself leading due to PKV Racing’s alternative pit strategy. At first it appeared that Gommendy would indeed try to stretch his fuel mileage, going the distance and possibly taking the win?

This caused Bourdais to “turn up the wick,” heavily attacking Gommendy for the lead of the race before backing off when it became apparent that Tristan couldn’t go the distance. And shortly thereafter, the camera’s panned onto Gommendy’s stricken Panoz.

The rookie Frenchman’s car had run out of fuel on track, yet it was impressive how Gommendy had once again held off his fastly superior countryman for the lead in only his third Champ Car race. Especially when it was revealed that Tristan wasn’t strong enough to man-handle the Panoz chassis around Laguna Seca during his initial pre-season outing.

In a post race interview, Gommendy claimed that there was 4 gallons of Methanol left in his tank when the car sputtered to a stop. (This still wouldn’t have been enough to complete the race…)

Could “Christian Comedy” get the last laugh?

”MAC” ‘N Cheese

Ok, so I know I should really stay away from stories like this, but I just couldn’t resist upon hearing the news about MAC Montoya’s latest escapades.

I find it hilarious that MAC got caught via in-car camera giving a fellow competitor the “BIRD” in a recent RASSCAR event… OOPS!

And not to be outdone was MAC’s new dancing partner Tony “FUCK the Interview” Stewart. Apparently “Smoke” thought he could skip “Dodge” after getting pipped by “Pretty Boy Floyd” (Jeff Gordon) for the victory in Phoenix.

And then shockingly Smoke told his Serious Satellite audience that he believed that Nextel Cup had indeed become RASSCAR “WWF RASSLIN” with all of its PHANTOM cautions to bunch the field back up prior to the checkered flag…

Both drivers were fined $10,000 and put on probation for the remainder of the year for their outbursts during the Phoenix race weekend. Perhaps it was the desert heat that got to them? Then again they’re both lucky they didn’t decide to tangle with Sherriff Joe of Maricopa County!

Ah Shucks “Oscifer” I didn’t mean it…

Friday, April 27, 2007

KC (Duno) and the sunshine Band

Nope, that’s not a nod to some long forgotten ‘70’s band. But I just wanted to let all of “Y’all” Milka Duno fans out there know that she’s “passed” her rookie test

Duno has earned her rookie stripes for this weekend’s upcoming Kansas LOTTERYy 300 Indy Car race. And I don’t think that they could have picked a better event to start off at. As according to Robin Miller it’ll be a total crap shoot for those trying to run in a pack with her.

And perhaps Miller will be interested to note that Duno told IRL “scrutineer” Kevin Blanch that she could feel the track through her bottom side…


I may have to break down and watch another IRL race just to see how soon Duno causes the “Big Juan!” (Crash) Nah, I’ll just wait to get Miller’s forthright, clear and unbiased report on the action Sunday night.

And look out Mr. KISS (Gene Simmons) Milka just used your most pathetic moniker,

“I Am Indy” to describe her rookie indoctrination. And she’s definitely a HELL of a lot better looking, so perhaps if her Indy driving “gig” doesn’t work out, she could always become the Brickyard’s new spokesperson….
You can watch Milka, Sarah, Danica & Co. Sunday on ESPN2 @ 1:30PM Pacific

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Another tepid Bump Day

As predicted, the Indy 500 has once again managed to scrape up enough entries to fill its traditional field of 33 starters… But as “Derr-Wreck” Daily would say: “Hang on to your Holly-Hocks!”

Because with an extremely LOW entry list of 38 participants, there will once again be HUGE gaps of TV filler time as this would see only 5 cars attempting to potentially “boomp” their way into the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing…”

And that’s only after Milka Duno passes her rookie test and nobody wads up their chassis during testing or the first weekend of qualifying.

This weekend’s Kansas City IRL race will determine Duno’s outcome for the upcoming Indy 500 as she’s scheduled to make her Indy Car debut. Speculation suggests that so much wing will be cranked onto her Dallara that even a novice could comfortably “cruise” around the high banks ‘O K.C.

One of the more interesting entrants for Indy is Luczo-Dragon Racing, which is co-owned by Roger Penske’s youngest son Jay. The younger Penske owns Dragon books which sells rare first editions. (DAMM! I didn’t know that selling books could be so lucrative…)

And is it just me? But it seems almost a little too pre-arranged that this team is leasing equipment from Penske along with running Ryan Briscoe who’s currently driving a Porsche RS Spyder in the ALMS for Penske.

Another story that makes for slightly odd bedfellows is the rumours of “little Al” (Al Unser Jr.) driving for AJ Foyt this year. Unser Jr. says that his current legal problems shouldn’t keep him from landing sponsorship.

Hey! If things got really bad little Al and AJ Foyt IV could do some “Tastes Great – Less Filling” commercials for Miller Beer…

Then again look for the female trio of drivers to get plenty ‘O air time as ABC will need something to focus upon during the countless hours of NON existent Bump Day…

Stirring the Pot

The “Split’s” obligatory conjuring of controversy is ripe once again with the story penned by Robin Miller on how Tony “Ronnie” George has let Kevin Kalkhoven standing at the altar.

Miller states that Champ Car’s tycoon Kalkhoven offered George the “plumb deal” of having some of Champ Cars biggest names come and compete at this year’s Indy 500 in efforts to spice up the show. And all that Mr. George had to do was provide free Honda “lumps” for Kalkhoven’s “All Stars.”

Yet in another pathetic media bantering of “He said, She said.” George claims that he didn’t think Kalkhoven’s offer was serious… Or more likely wasn’t interested in throwing Champ Car a “Life Line” as the series has barely managed to put 17 cars onto its grid for the first three races.

Yet Champ Car did put a monster hole in its schedule to accommodate running at the Brickyard, but with its team owners wanting Roger Penske’s set-up sheets along with testing and “top flight” equipment… Don’t expect any Open Wheel series co-mingling anytime soom!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Racetrack Oasis

Without delving into politics… I find the notion of not only building a new racetrack in Kuwait ludicrous. But even more unbelievable is the thought of hosting a Grand Prix in this region of the WAR torn Middle East.

This idea seems totally outlandish to me! Especially upon reading the story about Rioter’s attempting to disrupt the most recent Bahrain Grand Prix.

Yet Bahrain has just announced plans to build an industrial automotive/technology complex adjacent the race circuit, with plans to build a university there. This school could even have links with an UK or US institution.

This was coupled with the opening of a new RUF factory (on the circuit’s grounds. The grand opening of RUF Automobile’s Herman Tilke designed factory featured the unveiling of RUF’s new Supercar, the CTR3. Founder Alois Ruf has been producing AWESOME Porsche aftermarket vehicles for the past 20 years and is the AMG of Porsche’s.

So the Middle East’s automotive connections seem to be thriving regardless of the instability of the region with two Grand Prix’s on the calendar for 2009. Yet what is the hurry to build all of the new circuits? I mean what’s wrong with the existing venues in Europe? Even if a few are outdated, they have history and ambiance on their side. Yet again I suppose everybody wants a piece of the pie…


I found the article “Call an Ambulance for Germany” to be pretty funny… About the Huns crying in their Bitburger, since they play “God Save the Queen” after McLaren wins a Grand Prix. “Ja, butz ze McLaren iz powered bys ze Mercedes-Benz!”

Of course there’s a rookie crop of young Germans on the horizon awaiting their chance in F1. Sebastian Vettel is keen to see “Quick Nick” depart to Toyota, while Nico Hulkenberg is poised to make the jump from A1 GP directly into Formula 1. And I suppose it doesn’t hurt having Willi Weber as your manager.

And causing even more grief for the devoted Deutshlanders… Is the fact that this year will be only the third time in history that there’s NO German Grand Prix on the F1 Calendar. Although I’d heard about Germany possibly sharing racing venues, I missed the announcement that this had actually happened. Hockenheim which owns the rights to the German Grand Prix’s name, seems reluctant to give the name away to its rival Nurburgring race track, hence this year’s German Formula 1 round will continue on as the European Grand Prix…

Albers gets beaten again

OK, so it was a publicity stunt. Or more likely a PR exercise for the little Dutch team… And yes the competition should of won, but if I was Cristijan Albers I’d be getting slightly tired of constantly drawing the “short straw…”

Recently Albers in his Spyker F1 race car went head to head with a Dutch F16 fighter plane and the results were typical as jet planes are faster than Formula 1 cars.

And there appears to be even more scuttlebutt over Albers future with the Spyker team. Although Albers has “mega” connections with the Dutch outfit, he appears to be struggling with this year’s chassis and the switch to Bridgestone tires. And with Spyker’s appetite for cash, anything is possible to happen if Albers continues to muddle about…

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

F1 Personnel on the hook?

With the month long break between Grand Prix’s and the F1 circus returning to their European home bases. Speculation suggests that teams will not only be busy updating current chassis with new developments, but also shaking up their staffs in hopes of rectifying poor performance.

Obviously the team most in the spotlight currently for lacking pace is Honda, followed closely by Renault and Toyota. I’d expect Honda to have the biggest potential “shake-up” as their “Design by Committee” approach is currently failing.

And although the current Technical Director has direct ties to Mr. Honda, his lack of Formula 1 experience seems ill-suited towards leading Honda out of its grasping at straws aero-tuft’s approach.

Renault has fallen off of its championship winning performance this year, but I think people are tending to overlook the importance of (GASP! _ Fernando Alonso. At least “Flavour Flav” (Flavio Briatore) seems to have learned his lesson this time.

Upon Michael Schumacher having secured his second World Championship with Benetton, “Schuey & Co.” departed for the Suderia. (Of course the suitcases full of Lira didn’t hurt) Yet Flavio said it was NOT the driver but his cars that had won the championship.

Yet Benetton managed to win only one race after Schumacher’s departure, before being sold to Renault. (Gerhard Berger’s final victory, 1997 German GP) Hence Messer Briatore was fired, with David Richards filling in briefly before Flav’s return.

And to me the ironies of Alonso’s departure under similar circumstances makes me wonder just how much of an ASSHOLE Flavio is, as he’s just lost his second double world champion. (Of course both drivers left for larger retainers…)

Meanwhile the team with one of the largest budgets in Formula 1 continues to flounder about mid-pack. Toyota seems completely off the pace and I presume Ralfie is licking his wounds over claiming to be one of the top three drivers in F1? As I’d have to disagree with Ralfansoe about driving for the fourth best team in F1, which I’m sure isn’t exactly where Toyota wishes to be.

Yet unless these three “contender’s” make miraculous strides, I think fourth place in the championship is the best they can hope for in 2007! And will the arrival of Prodrive to the grid next season, cause these various staffs to decide to jump ship?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Lone Star (“J.R.”) Race weekend

And then there were 16… Champ Car entrants that is. Pacific Coast Motorsports Alex Figge decided to withdraw from this weekend’s Houston Champ Car race due to lingering back pains resulting from his crash in Long Beach.

And once again the “Hamburglar” (Sebastian Bourdais) stole the show on Friday by capturing the provisional pole ahead of his main rival opposition. Team Australia’s Will Power, who was just .05+ second adrift of “Sea Bass.”

Third fastest was Bourdais’s rookie teammate Graham Rahal ahead of the two RSPORTS teammates, with Justin Wilson finally regaining his rightful spot as team leader ahead of “TAG.” (Alex Tagliani)

On Saturday Will Power was awarded the pole 3 hours after qualifying, as Bourdais was deemed to have been blocking an opponent. Yet “Sea Bass” sounded like a CRY-BABY when learning about his penalty. Guess all of that time with “Whiney Bags” rubbed off on the Frenchman…

And I’m happy to report that Justin Wilson is finally getting up to pace. I was unaware that he had a brand new engineer this season, along with all of the other changes that have occurred. Wilson wound up in P3 in final qualifying.

And lost in all of the whimpering was the fact that 48 year old Roberto Moreno came out of retirement after 4 years to once again race in Champ Car, substituting for the injured Alex Figge. Unfortunately Moreno’s exuberance to be back racing caused him to loose his fastest lap after staying out on track one too many laps!

I was unaware that the counter clockwise race was run on a parking lot next door to Reliant Stadium. Although diamond grinding was done prior to the event, with up to ¾ inch of concrete being removed in places. The track surface was still quite rough with portions of the bumpy course still being overly “lumpy.”

Sunday’s “Good Timing” award went to Jon Beekhuis. As they went onboard Matt Halliday’s “42 Below” (Gotta get those sponsor names in, right Rick?) Beekhuis said “Oh, he’s got a problem…” And then wall-lah, SMACK into the retaining wall! And Rick Benjamin said, “Now he’s got an even bigger problem!” As it turned out Halliday had been “punted” by Moreno as neither driver wished to lift for the corner…

Yes, that’s right, we’re back to our primary announce crew of Rick “Insert $ponsor names Here” Benjamin alongside perennial Champ Car reporter Jon Beekhuis, who’s a much admired replacement for Derr-Wreck” Daily…

And Mr. Benjamin seemed a tiny bit subdued as he didn’t have the #27 WALLMART du Canada/Tide entry of Andrew Ranger to call out 79 times during the broadcast.

Yet Benjamin had NO trouble picking out and announcing each racer’s sponsor as they briefly passed thru the frame.

And after another aborted start, “Sea Bass” straight-lined the chicane, jumping ahead of pole sitter Will Power. Then Wilson got around Power as Power’s team boss Derrick Walker claimed that he’d been brake checked… by the McDougal’s car. Then Champ Car told bourdais to give up one spot handing the lead over to Wilson…

Interestingly it was pointed out during the race that Robert Doornbos had gone running in the desert in his nomex fire suit 10 miles in order to try preparing for the heat of Houston. Does anybody still not believe that race car drivers are atheletes?

And not that it was a total “snoozer,” as it appeared that several of the competitors were trying out there best “Cole Trickle” impersonations… But it was mentioned several times that 18yr old rookie Graham Rahal was skipping his High School Senior Prom in order to go racing…

And was that embarrassing or what when “Speedy-Dry” Dan Clarke walloped into the rear of Katherine Legge’s stricken chassis during a yellow flag period! This was after Legge had taken out her boss’s primary driver, rookie Neil Jani. And then Kevin Kalkhoven’s mug appeared on the screen saying he was gonna go kill somebody… Yet Jon Beekhuis pointed out how Kalkhoven’s funding Legge’s ride, so he doubts anything’s going to happen.

Unfortunately the Ham burglar’s penalty in final qualifying served only as incentive for the Frenchman to once again wax the entire field, leading his teammate across the finish line for a N/H/L Racing 1-2 with who’s car was that Rick? Oh yeah it’s the Oz Jet Minardi Team USA of Robert Doornbos coming in third.

Race Report

DAMM! Will I be glad when Bourdais departs for Formula 1 next season…

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Driving Indy

Have you ever pondered the idea of driving a “full blown” race car around the hallowed banks of Indy? And although it just seems like one more way to line Tony “Ronnie” George’s pockets… Hey, Indy is the OLDEST track in existence.

Recently I received and interesting story “penned” by “Danny B.” from Indiana: “Sinden Racing Hits a Grand -Slam“ .“ Who’s just taken the plunge and driven The Brickyard. (LUCKY BASTARDOE! Talk about pouring Salt in the Wounds…)

The closest thing I can relate to this story is the time I got to ride around Phoenix International Raceway 10 years ago. You see I was on hand to witness my brother taking part in the Bob Bondurant “Lap the Oval” experience. (Which was held after the RASSCAR event weekend) And it was pretty cool as they let me “shadow” my brother from getting suited up, the driver’s meeting and then onto the track.

Unbeknownst to me, I got to ride along in the pace car for one stint while the participants followed behind us in their identically prepared Formula Ford 1600cc race cars to learn the “line” around the track.

Prior to getting aboard the Ford Taurus SHO, a fellow instructor came up to me and said. “Ok, after you’ve done two laps around the track tell your driver you heard he crashed a Viper…”

You see, I was riding with race car driver/instructor Tim Moser, whom at the time was racing a Dodge Viper GTS/R in the fledgling American Le Mans Series…

Taking my cue, Tim laughed and said who told you that, we had an excellent chat about racing in general and what it was like hammering a Dodge Viper about, before the way too short ride around the Phoenix oval ended.

Unfortunately as is the case for many aspiring race car drivers, as far as I can tell. Tim Moser NEVER got the right break to make the leap into “Big Time” motor racing.

At that time Moser was competing against another American hopeful named Mike Borkawski. And according to Moser, he was kicking his ASS in Toyota Atlantics.

Yet Borkawski got his “15 minutes of Fortune ‘N Fame” being selected to pilot one of Bobby Rahal’s Champ Cars after a short stint in Trans Am. Borkawski was a brief “flash in the pan” at Rahal as he seemed to either not be quick enough or crash. I believe he was replaced with another American hopeful named Bryan “High Speed Hurdles” Herta. Interestingly both Borkawski and Herta are now plying their trade in the rival Sports Car series, but I digress…

The Indianapolis drive the oval opportunity sounds fantastic, and I’ll leave you to read Danny’s story to get the full details. (And yes that’s Danny at the controls of ‘Ol Yellur” above, prior to lapping at 101mph) Of course Danny didn’t mention whether or not he held off Sam Hornish Jr. on the final lap. Or if you get to drink the milk in victory circle. (I suspect that drinking the milk costs extra…)

Danny has also told me that the IRL has a two seater option available, which sounds like a much more viable option than Champ Cars current two seater program. (C’mon Champ Car. Pull your HEADS OUT!)

As you may be aware of, this year Champ Car is running the Minardi Team USA F1 X 2 seaters, which commentator and ex-CART driver Jon Beekhuis had the privilege of sampling at Long Beach. Beekhuis was estatic about the ride, which says a lot for a former driver. Afterwards Beekhuis had them show the data, indicating a top speed of 182mph…

And then the catch. Beakhuis said if you had an extra $10,000 burning a hole in your pocket… Then the ride aboard the two seater would definitely be worth it!

This seems to be one more sad example of how divided the two Open Wheel series are, as they now even have competing two seaters. Yet Champ Car seems to be getting more and more out of touch with its remaining fan base…

(And I NEVER thought the day would come when I'd be promoting Indy!)

Hopefully we’ll hear more from Danny in the coming months towards the build-up to the Month of May…

Friday, April 20, 2007

Orient Surprise?

Oh NO! Look out… Here she comes, as I just spotted a headline claiming that Danica was fastest in practice in Motegi, Japan followed by Kosuke “Kiss my Grits!” Matsuura…

Holy Catfights Batmann… Can you imagine the media drubbing that’ll occur if Danica actually manages to win this event? Of course I’m certain that the “Red Menace” and “Peskey” squads will have something to say about the matter.

Then again what will either of the IRL’s feline duo fortune cookies say? Or perhaps Danica won’t wish to read her tea leafs as she may throw another TANTRUM if things DON’T go her way…

Yet contrary to popular belief, I’ll be busy watching the Champ Car race on ESPN this Sunday at 12 PM (Pacific) which hopefully won’t be another “Hamburgular” run-away…

Matchett’s Tea Tray

Ah, those “BLOODY Brits” and their love of tea… Yet leave it to the ingenious mechanics to use part of a Formula 1 chassis as a serving instrument.

Recently I noted during the Bahrain GP that “Professor” Matchett began a long dissertation on the subject of flexing floors that put his elder commentator David Hobbs to sleep.

For those wishing to read the lengthy article, see Steve Matchett’s:
The importance of a correctly supported tea tray

Long Beach’s dancing partners

And in all of the hubbub over the Bahrain GP, I managed to miss the Saturday American Le Mans race that was part of the double billing for the Long Beach weekend.

This race featured a little of everything, with the Cration-Judd LMP1 entry garnering the “Un-Smooth Move” of the week on The Speed Report. The driver managed to crash on the parade lap… Which was apparently the second time that this car has made an error prior to the green flag being dropped. OOPS!

And the tight and twisty confines of the Long Beach circuit apparently suited the lighter and more nimble LMP2 prototypes, with the Andretti Green Racing Acura driven by Dario “REO Speedwagon” Franchitti taking pole.

The Audi R10 turbo diesel’s unbeaten streak of 9 races came to an end, with the Porsche RS Spyders taking the first three places overall. Roger Penske’s team captured its second 1-2 finish with Rob Dyson taking third.

Yet apparently there was some sort of controversy as a protest was filed against the winning Penske. The dispute centered over whether or not the Penske drivers had exceeded the 70 minute maximum time allotment. (Per driver) Ultimately the protest was denied and the results stood.

There’s still absolutely nothing to write about in the GT1 category as its merely an intra-squad “scrumb” between the two factory backed Corvettes.

Meanwhile in the GT2 category the Risi Competezione Ferrari F430GT with Mika Salo behind the wheel won its third consecutive race of the season, which must have the Porsche teams scratching their heads a little…
This weekend the ALMS will once again be part of the Houston Lone Star GP weekend, racing on Saturday with the Champ Cars racing on Sunday. Yet the ALMS race won’t be available on TV until April 29th on CBS

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Open Wheel Pundits (Part 2)

And not to be forgotten is Robin Miller who also had a few interesting tidbits to mention about Champ Car on wind Tunnel.

Apparently there seems to possibly be some unrest between the current owners of Champ Car. Originally Dan Petitt was the “P” in PKV Racing alongside Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser.

Kalkhoven and Petitt made their fortunes together in Silicon Valley, yet there have been rumours of Petitt filing a potential lawsuit against Kalkhoven in regards to the parting of ways from PKV. Of course this is all conjecture as Miller claims that Gerry Forsythe said “NO, they're just kids who hate each other 6 months out of the year…”

Then there’s the part about Paul Stoddart wanting to run his precious two seaters in America. But Forsythe said I’m not gonna pay $2.4 million to run a bunch of obsolete Formula 1 cars… Which Kalkhoven replied: “If you don’t pay for half of it then we’ll only have 15 cars instead of 17!”

So Miller claims that there appears to be a mild tussle in Champ Car’s hierarchy with Petitt, Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi ganging up on Kalkhoven. “And that’s why it’s such a Wonderful, Happy Open Wheel series…”

Ron Le Masters asked Miller if there was a report card on the new Panoz? “Yeah, the mechanics would probably give it a “D” for Difficulty to work on. There’s been problems with leaky fuel cells, refueling equipment and a bunch of tubs cracking.”

“I don’t know if this had anything to do with Tracy’s accident, but you’ve got to remember that in 2005 Buddy Rice, Paul Dana and Bruno Junqueira all broke their backs in a Panoz IRL chassis.”

“Is it the seat, the seating position or the way things are mounted? Or is the nose simply not giving enough? The Panoz DP-01 is fast, looks good and I hope it’s just a fluke with Tracy, but you’ve got to wonder about the Panoz when the star of your series gets injured at 35mph…”

It was great to see Miller interviewing Cristiano da Matta, who as Miller noted has made a remarkable recovery. In fact Da Matta has recovered so quickly that the doctor’s don’t know when to release him to return to racing. Da Matta also waved the green flag for the start of the Long Beach Grand Prix, so may be that’s why the field was so strung out?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Open Wheel Pundits

Perhaps you caught this past weekend’s episode of Wind tunnel with Dave Despain. As always the show seemed entertaining and provocative with featured guest Jacques Villeneuve and Robin Miller sounding off about the current plight of Open Wheel racing.

JV got the featured billing with Miller getting the caboose car portion of the show. Yet I found JV refreshing as he seems to be a totally “straight-up” interviewee, answering questions openly and straight to the point.

Villeneuve was being interviewed from his restaurant/night club New Town in Montreal where business was a little slow due to the recent snow storms in April. Villeneuve said “Everybody’s tired of the snow.” As for the nightclub Jacques commented that he’d always wanted to open a small cafĂ©, but I ended up with 4 floors and dancing.

And how serious are you about the singing, Despain inquired? JV said I’m real serious about it. Since I’m married you’ve got to show the accounts at the end of the month and you’ve got to be serious about it when your moneys invested. (Villeneuve has just released his first album)

Of course the top question was focused upon his impending RASSCAR intentions… But Villeneuve seemed pretty reserved saying that he had NOTHING to report at the moment and that he wanted to take his time to do the right “deal.”

In the latter stages of the program, Despain asked his co-host Ron Le Masters about why all of the “Stick ‘N Ball” owners were getting into RASSCAR, Despain pointed out that a Montreal hockey owner was close to a deal with Ray Evernham… So perhaps Jacques will be driving a Dodge shortly?

But Villeneuve seemed pretty cognizant that you just don’t jump in a Nextel Cup race car and show the series regulars how it’s done. Yes, I’d definitely need to do some lower series racing like Juan Pablo to get experience before stepping up to RASSCAR.

Despain then asked, but wouldn’t it be a natural fit for you to race this August in Montreal? (Inaugural Busch Series race that replaces Champ Car) JV commented that he’d be busy driving for Peugeot at Le Mans so it wouldn’t really be right since he’d have no preparation prior to the event. Then again Villeneuve commented that he was stupid enough to do such a thing… As he’d always done in his career.

Despain read some quotes from the latest F1 Racing magazine where Jacques states that: “Giancarlo will never be a team leader like Alonso. Raikkonen doesn’t give a FUCK about set-up and Scott “nose” Speed hasn’t shown anything to justify his being in F1.”

And on the subject of F1 I found it entertaining to hear Jacques being conciliatory towards Michael Schumacher as Despain seemed to be goading him on…

But c’mon, he tried to knock you off track in 1997 and everyone criticized you for passing him on the outside in 1996.

JV said, yeah I’d been telling the team I was going to do that, so they kept egging me on. But I was able to pull the move off since I’d been used to racing ovals in CART. It was kind of a game…

We’re certainly not friends and I haven’t done anything social with him and we had our differing opinions of what is wrong & right on track.

And what are your thoughts on him being a great Formula 1 driver? It’s too bad that history spits on you. People only seem to remember the negatives…

And in regards to current day F1, Villeneuve found it tiring and not as fun as he says you get to drive a little bit and then you spend your whole day in meetings. Like 12 meetings with Engineers over things not even related to the race car. It’s a bit like going to the office…

And do you have any opinions on the current state of Open wheel racing in the US. Well CART, err Champ Car used to be really excellent in the mid-90’s before the split. But now there’s NO credibility. I mean RASSCAR is the place everybody wants to be and there's no ability to get sponsors. Basically you have two HALF series with NO credibility and Europeans aren’t interested…

And what about the Indy 500? Well the 500 to Europeans is what Le Mans is to Americans… (Virtually UNKNOWN)

And would you like your 5 month old son to become a race car driver? I don’t care what he is as long as he’s passionate, works hard and isn’t a BUM!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Race Report

Of the two races I watched over the weekend, the Bahrain Grand Prix had to be by far the better of the two as Louis “Jaguar” Hamilton continues to be the story of Formula 1 to date.

Hamilton accomplished something that hasn’t been done ever before by claiming his third consecutive podium in his first 3 races. While only two drivers before have ever managed 3 podiums in their first 4 starts: Jacques Villeneuve and Luigi Fagioli.

And even more impressive is the fact that Hamilton is tied for the championship lead along with Kimi Raikkonen and Fernandoe Alonso.

Yet I too, like Steve Matchett would have loved to see the look upon Ron Dennis’s face after “Quick Nick’s” (Heidfeld) brilliant overtaking maneuver of Fernando Alonso for 4th place! So what do you think now Ron about those “lightweight” BMW Sauber’s…

It was nice to hear Bob Varsha give a “shout-out” to Dan Gurney who just turned 76 years “young,” as it was 40yrs ago that he won the Belgian Grand Prix in the only American made chassis.

And fellow commentator David Hobbs said don’t forget Phil Hill who’ll be turning 80 shortly. Yet I got a good laugh over Peter Winsor saying that Sir Frank Williams is turning 65 today but DON’T tell anybody…

And it was really nice to see Felipe Massa so ecstatic after his victory… I mean he looked really pumped as he’s gotten the monkey off his back for the moment, basically controlling the race from start to finish…

Bahrain GP Report

Meanwhile in Long Beach, Champ Car muddled along in a fairly boring processional fashion. If you can call flying down Oceanside boulevard at 185mph muddling along… Yet the start seemed extremely hap-hazard, but they did manage to avoid a 5 car pile-up into turn one…

The “Hamburgular” (Sebastian Bourdais) simply ran away and hid from everybody, building up a lead of over 23 seconds before getting nabbed by the yellow flags. And these weren’t none of those mysterious RASSCAR debris caution flags… As first Mario Dominguez and then Alex Figge both slammed hard into the walls.

The story of the race was Oriol Servia leap frogging from 14th to finish 2nd behind Bourdais while filling in for Tracy. I really liked Servia’s quote on Saturday about “Crash’s” steering wheel being so big that it felt like driving a bus. Will Power and Justin Wilson both passed Alex Tagliani on the final lap…

Long Beach Report

NOT so green at Honda

I’m sure that everyone by now has heard about Honda’s massive struggles this season to get up to speed with the rest of the F1 frontrunners.

Yet Honda seems to be walloping in the hinterlands towards coming to grip with its Planet Earth RA107 chassis as driver Ruben Barrichello has called it a “Parachute!”

And Jense doesn’t have much good to say about the wayward chassis himself as its given him nothing but grief… Especially during the Friday practice when the “Lump” went “KABLAMOE!”

Apparently Honda’s “Design by Committee” seems to be not working very effectively as its little Sister’s team, “Super Best Friends” continues to outshine the mighty Honda factory team with last year’s RA106.

And it seems a long time ago when Prodrive’s David Richards brought respectability to the BAR squad by clinching second in the Constructor’s championship. Also the firing of Technical Director Geoff Willis seems to have not been such a wise decision…

Champ Car rolls on in Long Beach

And I forgot to mention the excellent Easter day birthday gift Derrick Walker received in “Los Wage$” as he notched his first Team victory since Portland, 1999. DAMM! That was a long time ago… And Will Power became the first “Aussie” to win a Champ Car race, so Kudos to Team Australia.

And never fear if you were worried about Rick “Insert $ponsor Here” Benjamin. As I was scribbling furiously during reviewing the tape of Friday morning’s Bahrain GP action, I found ‘ol “Ricky-boy” calling the action for the Hooters Pro Cup race as the VCR sat in pause mode…

Continuing on a high, Will Power seems to be the strongest driver to challenge the might of N/H/L Racing at the moment as he “pipped” Sebastian Bourdais for the provisional pole on Friday. Actually “Sea Bass” was the meat of a Team Aussie Bit-O-Mite” sandwich…

And what the HELL is wrong with Justin Wilson? I mean, c’mon. Getting out qualified by a Dale Coyne entry? Ok, so it was “Whiney-Bags” behind the wheel, but still you’d expect Wilson to be further towards the sharp end of the grid! As it appears that his new teammate “TAG” is getting the better end of their technical partnership, eh?

Of course I have to wonder if Wilson is having his own personal “New Car Blues?” I believe he’s the tallest driver in Champ Car at 6’3” and I wonder if he’s having trouble inserting his lanky frame into the Panoz DP-01 cockpit.

Interestingly on race day they noted how Wilson had stayed late inserting extra foam padding into his “office” the day before. So I just hope that the Panoz designers didn’t make the cockpits too small…

It was also noted that the gearbox manufacturer had brought new software updates for this weekend’s race and that the paddle shifting is getting quicker. Of course it’s not as quick as the seamless shift transmissions in Formula 1. Yet the software changes are the same for all drivers in Champ Car and the drivers have to make the difference on track vs. “unfair” technical advantages.

And speaking about New Car Blues, Champ Car court jester “Sand Dune” Tracy will now be known as “Crash” as he had a “weird” accident during the Saturday warm up session...

Tracy had a “huge” impact with the jersey barriers at 35mph and suffered a compression fracture of a lower back vertebrae. “Crash” will be out of action for 3 months.

This led to Forsythe’s scrambling to find a replacement. Fortunately Oriol Servia was on hand and jumped into PT’s Panoz late Saturday to once again fill in as “Super Sub.” (This title previously belonged to Roberto Moreno before he landed a quality full time CART ride in the late 1990's. Hopefully the same will happen for Servia)

As Robin Miller interviewed Gerry Forsythe about Servia’s “audition” Forsythe answered that if he wins a race he’ll be pretty assured of a drive…

And on the flip side it was wonderful to hear Cristiano da Matta’s voice being interviewed during the beginning of the race. Da Matta definitely sounded like he’s ready to get back into the cockpit, yet still needs doctor’s approval in regards of another potential head injury before being allowed aboard a Panoz…

Friday Qualifying Report
Saturday Qualifying Report

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Black Magic


I forgot to mention in the Bahrain practice notes the comments made by Steve Matchett about camber angles. “Professor” Matchett noted that most teams will do very little towards the rear end of the car, about .5 degree negative camber with the majority of tweaking to the front wheels. Teams typically work between 3 to 3.5 degrees negative camber (top of tires tilted inboards towards driver) in attempts to get the tires to stand up in the corners, searching for maximum contact patch adhesion…

Peter Winsor broke in, saying he had a smile (smirk) on his face thinking about all of the RASSCAR viewers tuning in… thinking about how “dare cars” run 10 degrees of positive camber.

And it appears that once again tires are a crucial piece of the performance puzzle as Winsor noted how teams are concerned about getting off the line first.

Interviewing Jarno Trulli about supposed “launch control” which is now banned, Winsor asked who’s the best car currently? Renault responded Trulli. Yet interestingly it was pointed out by various “Techies” (Engineers) that although tire compounds aren’t that different, it’s more important to have the tires at their optimum temperature range to achieve maximum grip.

As Bob Varsha noted, this is why all of the drivers do the burn outs every time they return to the pits prior to being pushed backwards into the garage. A la Top Fuel NHRA style, as “Flat-liners” learned long ago that rubber on rubber gives you the best traction…

(Of course having your “lump” stay together in one piece also helps immeasurably… “Right Jense?”)

Also I found it interesting how the “Heavy Hitters” or “Top” teams typically go out on the “hard” compound tires during “Q1,” wishing to save their allotment of “soft” tires for the final two rounds of qualifying…

And speaking of qualifying, the hubbub over “Louise Jaguar” Hamilton goes on. And I found it quite enjoyable to hear his brother Nick being interviewed by “Peter Webber” as Mr. Varsha nicknamed the effervesent Peter Winsor. It was nice to hear such jubilation from a brother in regards to the superb success his sibling is demonstrating. And how ‘bout qualifying, as “Jaguar” knocked off his teammate Fernando… Who’s NO slouch since he’s the two time defending World Champion!

Yeah I know its only qualifying… But it’s really refreshing to see a teammate giving Alonso a handful, eh?

And the battle of customer cars continues with Renault’s “Fishyfella” barely beating out the real Mr. Webber, with the other tussle being even bleaker. “ANT” (Anthony Davidson) out qualified one factory Toyota and BOTH factory Honda’s…

Qualifying results
Also you may want to tune into or set the VCR for the opening round of this year’s GP2 season. The Bahrain round will air on SPEED prior to the Grand Prix at 2:30 AM (Pacific)

This is the racing series Lewis Hamilton won last year before moving up to McLaren and where many future F1 stars will come from…

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bahrain Practise

To parrot Bob Varsha’s really bad impression of Martin Sheen, “I love the smell of Bridgestone’s in the morning…” As the camera focused upon Jarno Trulli locking up a set of the “soft” tires in Friday practice.

Varsha: Welcome to the Bahrain Grand Prix, now in its fourth running. Bahrain’s an interesting country. With less than 700,000 residents of which 1/3 are foreigners. And the tiny Island nation is smaller then neighboring Saudi Arabia’s airport…

Peter Winsor brought up the disappointing story about David Coulthard’s retirement in Malaysia which was due to a binding brake pedal against the steering rack.

Winsor noted that DC had complained about this very issue to the team on Friday and apparently nothing had been done about it, which is why DC was a bit curt with the team on Sunday.

David Hobbs rightly pointed out that this seemed quite illogical and that perhaps the team’s focuse was a bit skewed? As they’d reported last week about how Adrian Newey had requested Mark Webber switch over to Arai helmets as he claimed they gave better aerodynamic results…

Steve Matchett chimed in how that was inexcusable. These are the very top professional teams in motorsports. Ok if it happened on race day, but there’s NO excuse for not curing this immediately after a practice session. They have everything available to modify the cars with them…

(C’mon guys! All they need to do is drink a few Red bulls and get on with it!)

Matchett: Talking to Renault’s chief engineer Alan Fermat, he told me that last year’s R26 was generating 5.1 G’s braking at the end of the straight entering turn 1! This is approx. 350 kilos of force being applied to the driver…

Panning to an in-car camera of “Jense” (Button) Varsha noted that the G-Meter graphics seemed awfully light?

Matchett: I don’t think the meter’s wired in.

Hobbs: Or that explains why the Honda’s are so SLOW? (OUCH!)

Varsha:”Having a “senior” moment, oh what’s that driver’s name? My favourite memory about G Forces is that Ferrari driver. French-Sicilian... Professor Matchett: Alesi! Yeah how could I forget Jean Alesi.

Anyhow when he was coming into the corner for his last lap of the one and only race he won at Canada. He said as he started crying tears of joy while braking they splattered upon his visor…

Matchett: I’ve just done some calculations. Assuming the Driver is 75 kilos, with a G force of 5.1 there’s approx. 845lbs of force being applied to the drivers seat belts entering turn 1…

Hobbs: Now that G-Meter’s working. 3.8 G’s while turning into a corner. And 5 G’s going into turn 8!

Varsha: And there’s still journalists out there who claim that race car drivers AREN’T athletes!

Varsha: Cristjian Albers is having an absolutely miserable time getting to grips with the Bridgestone tires (recall last weeks massive tire blow out during practice) as he’s stone last. He’s 3.86 seconds behind Fernando Alonso’s leading time…

(Albers may regret his slam against “Quick Nick” Heidfeld last year as if he keeps plowing along he may wind up on the beach playing volleyball himself?)

The Spyker team tried a novel sponsorship idea over the past week. They put sponsorship opportunities on eBay. For $500,000 Euros you could put your logo on the nose. “What’s that Hobbs? About $650,000.” Three million euros would get you the engine cover! As of this past Thursday there had been no bidders. Perhaps they’ll want to think about dropping the price?

Hobbs: Now that is amazing! Young Adrian Sutil is leading not only his teammate, he’s ahead of Ralf Schumacher in the factory Toyota and poor ‘ol Rubens Barrichello in the factory Honda… I mean that’s embarrassing as Ralf gets paid $20 million by Toyota while Sutil probably has to pay around $5 million to drive the Spyker…

Coming back from commercial Varsha noted that there’s a driverless Honda rolling backwards on the track… Then showing team boss Nick Fry in excruciating misery in the pits!

Next they showed multiple views of the reason why. “KABLAMOE!” said Matchett as the camera showed first pieces of schrapnel flying everywhere along with a massive fireball… Err flames and oil smoke spewing everywhere… And even more exciting was the onboard view from Felipe Massa’s Ferrari as he got showered by “Jense” as he came upon the hapless Honda…

Yet in the waning laps of practice while the boys slobered on about the dress code portion of various F1 Team Bosses… i.e.; Flavio and Jean Todt. Barrichello apparently bolted on another set of “soft” tires, drained the tanks and went on a flyer as he leapt to 10th on the time sheets…

Hobbs: Barrichello has just leapt ahead of Anthony Davidson in the Super Aguri…

Matchett: I always said the Honda’s were quick!

(And although it was only practice, it was interesting to note that both Super Aguri’s outpaced both factory Toyota’s)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

New Formula 1 TV show

In case you missed last week’s Malaysian Grand Prix or simply cannot get enough Formula 1 TV coverage… Then you may want to check out the new SPEET TV program Formula 1 Debrief.

This 1hr show features Speed TV’s commentary crew in a round table discussion format analyzing the previous Grand Prix.

You can check it out this Friday night at 9PM Pacific…

Mikey’s Half Gainer

”Oh What a Feeling!” Or perhaps that should be pass me the Goody’s Headache Powder instead?

Aw shucks… I just couldn’t resist passing up this story… Talk about your self inflicted wounds… Mikey “The Beaver” Waltrip has managed to add insult to injury after the much reported travails of NOT qualifying and getting caught with some “Slippery Liquids” under the hood…

As you may recall the much ballyhooed incident of the “Beav” CHEATING at Daytona this year which I wrote about in Mikey’s Moonshine. Now comes word that Mikey has further tarnished his reputation by rolling his Land Cruiser over the weekend near his house…

“Momma DON’T let your babies grow up to be RASSCAR Team Owners…”

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wanna buy a Grand Prix?

Talk about you’re never ending Horse Race. It’s amazing how much current jockeying is occurring over attempts by various nations to potentially land one of Messer Ecclestone’s prized Grand Prix’s.

In the recent weeks much speculation has arisen over who’s possibly in the running for one of the “non-existent” calendar dates, with Singapore leading the charge.

Of course one cannot forget India or Russia, with Valencia in the queue. This along with reports of Korea having a deal while Cancun is hopeful of boosting its economy with a Grand Prix.

Interestingly Valencia’s city council has just approved funding to create a new street circuit a la Monaco, along its boardwalk where the America’s Cup is currently being held. This is in hopes of landing a 2009 calendar date.

And Singapore is also poised to host a race on its city streets, having just unveiled its planned racetrack layout which also sports a Monte Carlo waterside theme.

Meanwhile speculation focuses upon France moving its Magny Cours event to Euro-Disney or a second venue near Paris. (While it appears to be OFF the 2008 F1 Calendar) And there also appears to be rumours of Australia changing its Grand Prix location?

Of course this doesn’t bode well for any of the current European Grand Prix venues as there are only so many dates possible on the schedule. Then again with the demise of the Concorde agreement on the horizon, perhaps Bernie “The Muppet” will have his cake and eat it too?

“Show me the Money!”

Chassis cloning remains unsolved

During last weeks Malaysian GP Spyker filed a protest agains Toro Rosso over the still red hot issue of chassis cloning. And as in Australia the race stewards refused to rule upon this, saying it’s a Concorde issue.

Perhaps the 2008 Sporting Regulations will shed some light upon the thorny issue? Yet as Mr. Ecclestone tried to arrange a meeting between all of the Team Bosses in Sepang, Super Aguri and Toro Rosso weren’t available…

F1 and Wall Street

On the surface that sounds a little bit like “Oil ‘N Water?” Then again it is the colossal influx of cubic dollars that powers the world of Formula 1.

So I guess it shouldn’t be too shocking that Wall Street has created a Grand Prix index to measure the various components of F1. Yet interestingly it almost sounds like a “slush fund” for the Engine manufacturers who are given 60% of the index…

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Indy struggling with entries?

In what seems to have become a new yearly tradition, once again reports are suggesting that this year’s Indianapolis 500 may be shy of its traditional 33 starters.

Yet for the past few years the naysayer’s suggest that this May will be the year that Indy doesn’t field 33 cars. But somehow Tony “Ronnie” George always seems to manage to dig far enough into his pockets (or the Family’s piggybank) to ensure that there’s eleven rows of three cars taking the green flag after “Gomer Pyle” sings Back Home in Indiana Again.

And the biggest problem I noticed about the entry lists floating around was that they did NOT mention ANY Chip Ganassi entries. Surely “Cheep” will be fielding at least two cars?

Or if we’d be gullible enough to believe Robin Miller… “The Red Menace” as he’s nicknamed Ganassi: “Will Finish 1-2-3” at the Brickyard this Memorial Day with “MAC” Montoya in the third chassis.

And don’t forget Milka…

Kosuke gets censored


I know its still way too early into the season for this, but until the elder court jester, Mr. Paul Tracy makes his presence felt, Kosuke Matsuura gets my vote of interview of the year…

And although I suppose it had to happen… I can’t recall if Janet Jackson had to pay an undisclosed fine for her wardrobe “malfunction?”

Yet in the theoretical vacuum off squeaky clean “PC Friendly” television on ABC’s “Family” of networks… (Can you say Disney?) They’re most definitely hoping for “Goo-goo” baby talk…

Yet it seems to be a common source of discussion that is the world of corporate media speak vs. neutering driver personalities. As I guess we’re expected to NOT use foul language, cuss or show our emotions

And is it just me, or how FUCKING frustrating is it trying to figure out just exactly which network is hosting either the Champ Car or (GASP!) IRL races…

I mean is it on ABC? NOPE! ESPN? NOPE, ESPN2? Well it was there last week but now it’s on ESPN! NOPE it’s on NBC. I mean as Robin Miller has pointed out, how does either Open Wheel series plan to build any new fan base?

In previous years the media actually published the season previews prior to the first race. And Champ Car was even smart enough to publish the TV schedule for its fans to follow along. Never mind actually televising both days of qualifying…

So needless to say, I’m rooting for “Kazuki” to win the pole at Indy this year, so he get’s another interview. Better yet, wouldn’t it be hilarious to have him WIN the Indy 500…

“Go Kosuke!”

French train sets record

This is amazing… As our beleaguered and falling apart rail system can only dream of such a thing. While we’re lucky enough to have the Talbot high speed trains running “Express” service from Seattle to Portland and Seattle to Vancouver, BC. These train trips aren’t exactly “Express! Well OK, they’re express compared to the traditional NEVER on-time “Normal” Amtrak service…

While our Talbot is allowed to hit top speeds of 79mph, the French TVG has just set a new speed record for trains. The specially prepared TVG hit a top velocity of 357mph (574kph) You can watch the video of this amazing run in the article: French Train sets new World Speed record

Yet, while the French are busy setting speed records, their Motorsport governing body is busy dismantling the “Ugly Duckling” French GP with plans to cancel the 2008 French Grand Prix at Magny Cours…

Monday, April 9, 2007

F1: Malaysia Sound Bites - 2007 edition

Actually that’s STEAMY Malaysia. Or perhaps it was the Sepang Sauna… With ambient temperatures of 93+ deg f. and track temps. Of 133+ deg f. Here’s a few interesting sound bites gleamed from this weekend’s SPEED TV coverage of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Most entertaining radio comment of the week: From our esteemed Americano Scott “nose” Speed: They’res somebody speaking Italian on my radio! Just what a driver wants to hear while trying to scream down the straight at 180+ mph. But as Bob Varsha noted: “I thought you drove for an Italian team””

And Steve Matchett had an interesting point to Speed’s other lengthy radio transmission.

Speed: “Touching on corners X & Y. Feels like there’s something under my heel stop? What else… Oh yeah, when I went to try warming up the brakes I got massive lock-up from all four wheels and the brake pedal feels a bit spongy compared to the other car!”

Matchett: Touching refers to the “Plank.” That’s about right, for maximum down force you want the ride height plank to be just touching at the end of the straights. The plank is a FIA legality device to ensure that the teams aren’t running their chassis too low, since if you wear off 1mm you can be disqualified. These planks are made out of a composite material. (Jabrock)

(This is the famous “plank” that cost Michael Schumacher a victory in 1994. So perhaps the 2005 USGP Michelin tyre DEBACLE was some sort of a “payback?”)

Matchett: As for Toro Rosso’s drivers both having brake issues, it almost sounds like they’re (drivers) are not keeping the brakes “hot” enough. As the brakes will grab badly at just 800 deg f and they’re probably getting too cool on the long straights. Matchett claimed to go through an enormous amount of braking issues with Gerhard Berger…

Matchett: The drivers have NO excuses about being able to overtake at Sepang as the circuit is 70’ wide in places…

Varsha: The teams are given 8 sets of tires for Friday, (4 sets of each soft & hard compound) which are then returned for Saturday’s allotment. For Saturday they’re given 10 sets (5 sets of each soft & hard compound) with a provision that they have to return one set each of these tires. Confused? Stick with us and we’ll explain it over the weekend…

And Peter Winsor brought up an interesting point about tires while on the subject. Now that Bridgestone is the sole supplier of F1, Bridgestone produces four various compounds of the control tire. For Australia they brought their soft and medium compounds. For Malaysia they’re using the medium and hard compounds. (Due to the much more abrasive race surface and heat?)

While David Hobbs was giving the track layout description he mentioned how it was the Germans’ Herman Tilke’s very first Grand Prix race track design and it was a real shame that his subsequent tracks didn’t turn out as nicely… (This was the 9th year of the Malaysian GP with the track being completed 10yrs ago)

Winsor: And you know the reason why the drivers like the circuit so much? Because it’s a real drivers circuit as you really feel like you’re going somewhere, as it has really good rhythm. In fact this is most likely the BEST circuit they race on now that Suzuka is off of the calendar…

Varsha: “OOH! Even better than Spa?” David Coulthard is absolutely “Gaga” over the newly remodeled Spa Francorchamps that’s back on the calendar this year…

And I’m not sure that Malaysia would be my first pick for vacation spots as the camera panned in on Mika Hakkinen “chumming” about in the McLaren garage on pit lane. Hakkinen made a “bold” statement, declaring that “McLaren’s Back!” (Uh DUH!!!) He also has pronounced that he’ll win this year’s DTM championship…

Varsha: It’s absolutely amazing that they average 48 gear changes per lap around Malaysia… (So may be paddle shifting isn’t such a bad thing after all?)

Winsor asked if anybody had any thoughts about the floor flexing issue. Which prompted a very long dissertation by “Professor” Matchett.

Matchett: Using the telestrator, he tried drawing on screen while the picture kept changing upon him. “Right!” Now in my days at Benetton we used to call it the “Tea Tray” since it looks like a tea tray and we used it to ferry our cups ‘N saucers about.

Anyhow it appeared from his telestrator drawings that the item was the floor mounting above the front splitter just behind the front wheels. Matchett explained that if you could induce the floor to move up then you could lower the ride height of the car (front suspension) by 2-3mm which would give you a significant increase in lap times, i.e.; .03-.04 second per lap. This is what the new “seamless” shift transmissions are supposedly gaining…

Hobbs: That seems like a much more cost effective way of increasing lap times vs. the new transmission.

Matchett: You’re absolutely right David.

Hobbs: Is that that really really long article of yours I tried reading last night?

Matchett. You mean the one you read 4 lines of and got up?

Hobbs: Well I fell asleep trying to read it… Laughter from Matchett: Thanks Hobbs!”

Matchett claimed that if you went to keyword search F1 it would send you to the portal with all sorts of Formula 1 info. So I naturally assumed that this would be where the article is hidden? But I CANNOT find it on their website, so good luck!

Upon an interesting segment with Professor Matchett in regards to the exercise of packaging in Formula 1 with his ex-Benetton “croney” where they used last year’s Red Bull/Ferrari chassis to discuss radiator/cooling requirements, this segment led to another quip from Peter Winsor…

Winsor: You’d think that Adrian Newey would be too busy with the design of the RB3 to be off racing? And perhaps some of his employers would prefer he didn’t! Yet Newey plans to compete in this year’s 24 Heurs du Mans in a Ferrari. And this is after he wrote off a vintage car (Newey’s GT 40) during last year’s historic Le Mans…

Varsha: Actually he’s written off two important vehicles…

Matchett. What is going on at Honda? They ran a chassis with the rear wing covered in wool tufts… Isn’t that what they used to do in your days David?

The car had a rear facing mounted camera on the roll hoop to observe what the tufts were doing. But if they’re at the stage where they DON’T trust their wind tunnels then they’re obviously grasping at straws!

Matchett & Winsor further debated Honda’s woes by claiming that it was more of a “Harmony” issue where the “aero guys” and mechanical engineers will always be at odds with each other.

While doing the packaging segment it was noted how not only would aero dynamists want there to be NO cooling ducts, they’d also prefer to loose the drivers, steering wheel, tires, etc.

Varsha: My story line is how Honda, Toyota and Renault: All Factory teams were out qualified by their customers…

(Nico Rosberg drove the wheels off of his Williams-Toyota and was “ROBBED” of a 7th place finish! Interestingly Toyota is running the Williams transmission this season, while Alexander Wurz suffered a transmission failure during the race…)

Hobbs: My story line is how everybody is absolutely mushy over “Louise” Hamilton… I mean you hate to keep hyping the guy because usually when something’s too good, it is. And I hate to jinx the ladd…

Yet you would have to say that the highlight of the race was Lewis “jaguar” Hamilton’s absolutely stunning drive of holding both Ferrari’s at bay… I mean Felipe looked really ragged!

And if the weekend’s scuttle-butt was true about Kimi’s damaged Ferrari engine? As first they claimed he’d be taking a 10 grid spot penalty for changing “lumps” prior to qualifying… Then that they’d run simulations of low revs and tried wrecking a motor with low coolant levels…

If this really happened then it speaks volumes for Kimi’s opportunity to finally become a world champion as his “Achilles heel” at McLaren was the over abundance of race motors going “KABLAMOE!”

Next up this weekend is Bahrain. So with new motors installed for the majority of the grid, watch out McLaren…”

And by the way Ron Dennis… “How ‘bout those BMW Saubers!” So much for running on light tanks, eh?

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Vegas Crap Shoot

Champ Car finally kicked off its 2007 season on the streets of “Sin City” today...

And I was pleasantly surprised to have the “Peacock’s RASSCAR” crew (minus recently departed Benny Parsons) filling the announce booth alongside Jon Beekhuis. Yeah, that meant I didn’t get to listen to Rick “Insert $sponsor here” Benjamin who must have been busy hunting for chocolate eggs…

Unfortunately the Panoz DP-01 is struggling thru some “New Car Blues,” as all nine Champ Car teams thrashed to make repairs to the fueling system. Apparently Elan Motorsports flew in brand new fuel cells/venting systems for replacement, which took approx. 11 hours to swap out. And several teams had troubles during the actual race with refueling as they simply couldn’t get the race car tank to fill completely. (This had something to do with venting of the tank)

Also the DP-01’s had troubles with gearbox issues, taking Justin Wilson out of the race. And the new onboard starters refused to work on-track. This appears to be a heat related issue. Yet overall the new Panoz looked pretty damm good for its race debut!

And I squealed in delight when they announced that Sebastian Bourdais had made an uncharacteristic mistake in qualifying… “Sea Bass” would be starting 16th… While Will Power took the overall pole away from “homeboy” (Paul Tracy)

I hope it’s not a sign of Champ Car’s future but I found it a bit embarrassing that NBC couldn’t clean-up the pre-race “canned” features as I swear it sounded like a “Cossie” (Cosworth) being warmed up thru half of the Wally Dallenbach Jr. on-track race course segment…

This was followed by a cheesy segment of Jay Leno “playing” for the cameras as the “Big Man” was on hand along with Bon Jovi (Bon who?) for race weekend activities. And what’s up with the movie Red Line being a race sponsor? I’d think they’d wanna be promoting a RASSCAR event instead! (Of course I’m sure the advertisement prices are MUCH HIGHER for Nextel Cup airtime)

And it was funny to hear Bill Webber giving Dallenbach Jr. some “Shtick,” about pronouncing drivers names… As he gave Scotsman Ryan Dalziel a new moniker, calling him Ryan “Diesel.” Or was it “Deezhaul?”

There was also a quick segment on the new seven speed paddle shifting steering wheels costing $10,000 a piece, which is far less than the spaceship steering “instruments” used in Formula 1. As I recall Bob Varsha discussing how the steering wheel that the “Iceman” had flung across the garage went for a cool thirty grand a pop…

And even though I’m not a fan ‘O “Whiney-Bags” (Bruno Junqueira) it was great to see him doing so well for Dale Coyne. The little team “That Could” appears to have a brief chance of actually winning a race…

Then it was time to start the race. Well OK, may be? As previously mentioned, standing starts have been abandoned for now and Champ Car asked the drivers to begin the race in a staggered start. Whatever that means? As I enjoyed Dallenbach Jr’s comments that race car drivers are NEVER gonna hang back on a start.

And what gives with Champ Car events being timed races? I mean this is just plain LAME! I thought this was “top level” racing? So today’s event was a 1 hour 45 minute timed event and they had to wave off the first start as “Sand Dune” Tracy wasn’t in formation.

Then Graham rahal got “squeezed” by “Speedy-Dry” Dan Clarke off into the marbles… Or as David Hobbs would call it, “Clag!” Rahal ended parked against the wall and they couldn’t even get one green flag lap in… After finally getting his car removed several laps later, the camera showed rookie Alex Figge parked sideways on the track as they threw the green flag. Uh, you might wanna throw another yellow before the entire field runs over the stricken Panoz…

For a full race report including who WON, see: Vegas Grand Prix. Overall it was a pretty good event, although Champ Car still needs more entries…

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Ranger gives up on Champ Car

With the 2007 Champ Car season set to begin only hours from now, sadly another promising Champ Car driver has thrown in the towel on the possibility of landing a ride for the upcoming season.

Canadian ex-Ice racer Andrew Ranger has given up hopes of returning to Champ Car this season and has signed to compete in CASCAR “Lite,” the newly acquired Canadian racing series now owned by “RASSCAR.”

It also appears that Nelson Philippe, Jan “Van Haggar” Heylen and Oriol Servfia won’t be back this year either, with the drivers still unannounced for Dale Coyne Racing.

I particularly liked Robin Miller’s nickname he stated on last week’s The Speed Report, for the new paying driver at PKV Racing. You know, “Christian Comedy.”

And as Miller snorted towards where would Katherine Legge land at? Most likely Dale Coyne, but HELL! Why make ANY announcements since there’s ONLY six days to go…

Meanwhile the struggling Conquest Racing. Team just confirmed the driver of its single entry only three days before the engines roar to life. “Kiwi” Matt Halliday will pilot the #34 with sponsorship backing from 42 Below. Yet curiously both Halliday’s and Mario Dominguez’s deals are firm for the first three races only.

The worst part about Ranger’s lost ride is who will Rick “Insert $ponsor’s name here” Benjamin talk about now? I mean last year the Benjamin sweepstakes award went to Ranger’s #27 WALLMART du Canada/Tide, as Benjamin would say this at least 7 times per broadcast…

Guess Mr. Benjamin will have to do his FREE shopping somewhere else now? Then again with WALLMART du Canada and Proctor & Gamble set to also sponsor Tagliani, we may get an earful of the #8 car, eh?

Bridgestone’s whitening stripes

Although Bridgestone had hoped for some media exposure with their different tire compounds, apparently after all of the bashing of their quarter size white dot to differentiate tires at Australia. Bridgestone has announced plans to colour the grooves white instead for the upcoming Malaysian Grand Prix.

The softer tires will now feature a painted second inside groove, which were tried on “Taku’s” Super Aguri in recent testing and are much more clearly visible then the white dots previously used…

Bell comments on floor issue

Interestingly I seemed to have miss this FIA rules clarification, although I did mention how Ron Dennis had complained about the Ferrari’s underside.

Renault’s Technical Director Bob Bell claims that the ruling to curtail the use of springing to move F1 chassis floors means that Ferrari and BMW Sauber will have needed to redesign their 2007 challengers prior to the Malaysian Grand Prix…

Toro Rosso’s new Technical Director

Scuderia Toro Rosso has just announced Giorgio Ascanelli as its new Technical Director. Ascanelli moves from Maserati and was previously Gerhard Berger’s race engineer at Ferrari…

Spyker to run Aero upgrades

While you may have thought that Spyker was only busy preparing its legal briefs for its upcoming arbitration. The squad’s design staff has been busy rushing forward a revised “aero” package for the Spyker F8VII, which to date has languished on the very last row of the grid.

Will Mike Gascoyne’s aerodynamic tweaks help the F8VII fit into the glass slipper or will the Orange cars simply turn into pumpkins at midnight?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Racing goes Green?

And while the retortive “sound bites” continue to flood mainstream media, as the “hype” over being environmentally “clean” continues to be a “wedge” issue. David Phillips has once again written another great article towards the subject of how “RASSCAR” isn’t as “Squeaky Clean” as it would like “Y’all” to believe…

NOT so “Super Best Friends”

With Spyker heading for arbitration against Super Aguri (and Toro Rosso) Giedo Van der Garde appears to be the odd man out. You may recall that Van der Garde spurned Super Aguri in favour of a Spyker testing role. And with Super Aguri holding a contract on him, they’re in NO hurry to release him to Spyker.

And the rub for Van der Garde is that without being released, he’s unable to secure his Super License that’s required prior to driving in Formula 1…

Bourdais’s speedy Peugeot

Prior to this weekends Champ Car season opener, Sebastian Bourdais took part in the European Le Mans Series (LMS) test day held recently in France.

“Sea Bass” led the way at Paul Ricard in the LMP1 Peugeot 908 turbo diesel, giving Audi notice that they’ll actually have some competition at Le Mans this year.

There were 34 cars taking part in the test day, and it also appears that the GM Factory backed Corvettes may also face some stiffer competition besides their intra-squad “scrums” from a few Saleen S7R’s and privateer Corvettes at the Circuit de la Sarthe. And the LMS appears to be more closely contested than the ALMS…