Thursday, May 31, 2007

Monnocoe Madness

Now that I’ve finally finished watching the tape. It appears that all of the fuss over the Scuderia’s new paint scheme and suitcases ‘O dinero from Marlboro didn’t do much good for Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying!

Peter Windsor pointed out countless times that Phillip Morris is rumored to be shelling out $200 million to the Scuderia in order to have their “Bad Habits” livery adorn all major signage space for effectively three races. (Bahrain, Monaco, China and possibly Japan?)

And speaking of the red cars, why did they get completely WAXED in Monte Carlo? Although Windsor brought up an interesting story about how Ferrari’s wind tunnel belt snapped during testing just prior to the Spanish GP. I can only assume that it has something to do with Ferrari’s longer wheelbase not being conducive to a down force only track? Especially if you take in the fact that Scott 'NOSE Speed finished just one place behind Raikkonen in ninth. While piloting his Ferrari engine customer Toro Rosso, Speed was heard via the radio saying his brake pedal was going completely to the floor!

Without a doubt the highlight of the weekend was Louis “Jaguar” Hamilton’s scintillating driving performance. And even though he did make a mistake in practice. His car control was magical!

Uh, how many times did he hit the wall with his tires Peter? As I found the barb thrown during the post race interview at Kimi excellent! Hamilton replied. Actually I hit the wall several times, but fortunately McLaren builds a strong car that doesn’t break.

Yet perhaps before we’re too harsh upon the “Kimster” one should possibly ponder if the Iceman was distracted, wondering if Paris Hilton would be showing up for the weekend? Of course, this year Kimi had his own $3.5 million yacht in the harbour, so I’m sure the ice box was properly stocked…

Otherwise the race seemed pretty abysmal to me as the two McLaren’s simply checked out. I mean when was the last time the Ferrari was 69 seconds slower with Felipe Massa the only car not being lapped!

Although the back markers did offer some amusement. As “Ralfie” did little to help in his contract negotiations by being thoroughly “dusted off” by Adrian Sutil in the “lowly” Spyker.

And I think David Coulthard managed to adhere to the blue flags during the race after blocking Heikki Kovalainen. in qualifying. Although I still think that DC should have been dropped to 16th and Kovalainen starting ahead of Coulthard. Of course DC was probably busy at the moment wondering if there was any occupancy’s at his hotel…

INDY 500: The Greatest Spectacle?

Ah, after having been thru a three hour Rain Delay. (Not to be confused with a three hour cruise…) I think the “Buzz” of the Indy 500 has finally subsided for me. And many would say I’d gotten it all “ASS-Backwards” as I focused upon the “indee 415” instead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

But there were a few reasons for this programming switch. Mainly since for reasons unknown my “Old School” (circa 2005) Panasonic VCR will now NO longer record sound on two channels. (ABC & NBC) And has also run afoul of the Government’s switching of Daylight Savings time. So now needs to be manually manipulated twice a year to adjust to the correct time Yet, so far SPEED is unaffected.

And many, well ok a few seem confounded that Rusty “L.T.O.” Wallace bothered me so badly that I turned the TV completely off and just staired at the paint on my ceiling instead while listening to The Greatest Spectacle in Racing live via the internets. Well Ok, at least Tony George, the King and Mr. I Am Indy think its GREEATTTTTTTTT!
But hey, I noticed that I wasn’t alone, as I read that Rusty made a pair ‘O Golden Retriever’s HOWL in Protest!

Scottish Sentiments

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bagpipes ‘N Thunder

While I’m sure that Danny B’s post race thoughts will be much more insightful than mine. (Which hopefully he’ll write after drying off) Nevertheless I’ll give my 12 cents worth…

Talk about a wacky way to end the Month of May. Was it an omen of things to come with Jimmy Neighbors NOT singing Back home in Indiana for the first time since 1986?

Obviously the most heart broken driver of this year’s “Indee 415” has to be none other than Tony Kanaan, whom most definitely deserves to taste the milk in victory circle. And I sat there torn between Kanaan winning in what would have been the shortest race in history vs. the fact of barely going half distance.

Yet ironically I made a lucky guess when picking Dario “REO Speedwagon” Franchitti as it seems fitting that the number 27 would find it’s way to victory circle on the 25th Anniversary of Gilles Villeneuve’s death... Along with what must be some sort of payback for the Speedway’s torture on Pole Day. Snatching P1 away from the Scotsman after waiting a ridiculous five hours to see it all slip away.

“Wundering” if the weathermen had been correct? I tuned in via the internets early and listened for the first hour plus via WIBC. It was kind of funny listening to the interview of “The King.” No, the other king. (Richard Petty) and AJ Foyt. Then I switched over to the TV broadcast just prior to the green flag being dropped.

But I elected to TURN OFF ABC immediately and return to the “live” IMS radio broadcast instead. As there’s just something about Rusty “Left Turn Only” Wallace’s voice that sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

And I found it entertaining that the first yellow waved on lap 12. “Whoa Nellie,” this could be a long day. Which I guess was a major understatement? As the first caution flew for John Andretti who’d LOST one of his mirrors.

Doing their best George Foreman “Rope-A-Dope” impersonation, Andretti’s pit crew sent him back out without making the mandatory mirror replacement. As supposedly the team couldn’t find a spare and ended up borrowing an extra from AJ Foyt.

And speaking of “Super Tex,” what in the HELL was WRONG with Little Al (Unser Jr.) today? That seemed to be a really PATHETIC driving display as ‘lil Al ran LAST for the majority of the race. I mean c’mon! Even Marty Roth was way ahead of him.

Adding insult to injury was John Herb’s impatience to pass the #50 Unser chicane, causing Herb to hit the wall instead. And although Unser trundled along, ‘lil Al ran over a crew member’s foot during the ensuing caution flag pit stop! And if I was Unser Jr. I’d be really embarrassed to have moved up to third overall in most laps completed at the Brickyard by today’s performance.

Then “Milk ‘N Doughnuts” as Danny b. nicknamed her before Robin Miller used the moniker during his OTB interview with Tom sneva HIT the wall on lap 65 while running in 22nd. Yet Duno was just one of the slower drivers to succumb to Indy’s Safer barriers. Other drivers suffered the same fate while trying to move off line to let the leaders go by.

Barely passing the halfway point, Tony Kanaan swept past Marco andretti, whom in turn led Princess Danica. And then the skies opened as the rainfall came down hard ‘N heavy, causing a nearly three hour rain delay. And I sat there hoping that this wouldn’t be the end of the race, since it had only gone 113 laps and I really didn’t want to hear all of the accolades that would be bestowed on Princess for finishing third!

And the post race interviews were pretty entertaining, with Kanaan being most gracious in defeat. Along with Marco just happy to be uninjured after barrel rolling down Indy’s straightaway, bringing out the yellow before the rain returned. Marco claimed he’d never seen Dan Wheldon when they hit due to having no mirror.

By the way Princess, who’s that finishing three places AHEAD of you in 5th! Looks like your friend Ryan Briscoe whom you said crashes a lot and won’t go the distance?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Women in Racing


(Eliska Junkova; source: grandprix.com)

It seems that most of today’s mainstream media attention falls upon the IRL’s Princess Danica Patrick. Having been noted as a Danica supporter… I thought I’d shed some light on the REAL women of motorsport, who paved the way for Danica to live the “Good Life.”

Interestingly the first women racers were in Grand Prix, prior to the modern day Formula 1 championship which began in 1950. As the earliest reports of female race driver’s centers upon a trio of women, with Eliska Junkova and “Helle Nice” being the most flamboyant. While Kay Petre made her impression due to her small stature behind the wheel of the day’s monstrous vehicles.

Junkova caused quite a “stir” when it was discovered that a woman led the opening laps of the 1928 Targa Florio. While the lady behind the wheel of the Bugatti leading the event was quicly named the “Queen of the Steering wheel” by the adoring press.

The Czechoslovakian is the only woman to have ever won a Grand Prix which she accomplished at the Nurburgring in 1926. Junkova retired from racing immediately after her husband was killed in 1928 at the Nurburgring while piloting the vehicle the couple were co-driving in the event.

Helle Nice was Mariette Hélène Delangle’s stage name, as she made her fame and fortune as a Paris “Show Girl.” Amassing wealth and popularity as a dancer, she reportedly enjoyed “Life in the Fast Lane.” As rumours suggest she had a long list of multiple suitors including Philippe de Rothschildand Jean Bugatti. She competed in several Grand Prix’s during the early 1930’s.

Yet sadly after the war, Louis Chiron accused Helle Nice of being a Gestapo agent which effectively ended her career. (Along with ruining her life!) Helle Nice died “penniless” in Paris in 1984.

Kay Petre stood 4’10” tall, making many marvel at her physical ability to manhandle a 10.5 liter V-12 Delage while setting speed records at the famed Brooklands circuit. Petre was most likely the first female to compete in the 24 Heurs du Mans, finishing 13th overall in 1936. She competed in three Grand Prix’s in 1937 before being injured. Petre went on to become a motor journalist along with being an automotive fabric designer.

After two decades of no women participants, Maria Teresa de Filippis contested three Grand Prix’s between 1958-59. While it would be almost another two decades before a quartet of female drivers attempted participating in various Formula 1 races from 1974-1992. (Lella Lombardi, Divina Galica, Desire Wilson, Giovanna Amati)

Lombardi raced twelve times, becoming the only woman to have ever scored a World Championship point in 1976. Finishing sixth in the rain shortened Spanish GP, Lombardi was awarded a half point. Lella also finished seventh at the Nurburgring.

Galica, Wilson and Amati were entered, but didn’t qualify for their races. With quite a fuss caused when multiple females were entered for the 1976 British GP. Amati was the last female to enter a Formula 1 event for the struggling Brabham team before being replaced by Damon Hill. Amati’s F1 test came courtesy of playboy Flavour Flav… (Flavio Briatore)

Meanwhile Janet Guthrie began her racing career in Sports Cars and won two class victories in the 12 Hours of Sebring, prior to getting her big break. In 1976 Rolla Vollstedt gave her a test drive at Indianapolis, although she didn’t qualify for that year’s race. Yet in 1977 Guthrie would not only become the very first female to race in the Indianapolis 500, but also make history as the first woman to race in the Daytona 500.

Guthrie would compete at Indy three times (1977-79) with a best finish of 9th in 1978 before disappearing from the Speedway’s horizon. It would be a further 13 years before a second female would arrive at the Brickyard, with Lyn St James making the first of her seven appearances. St James became Indy’s first female rookie of the year in 1992. This debut race would also become her best finish of 11th place at the Speedway.

In 1999 the third female to crack the Brickyard’s entry list was Sarah Fisher driving for Derrick Walker. Fisher has since gone on to become the only woman driver to win a pole and podium places in the Indy Racing League.

Then in 2005 Princess Danica burst upon the scene, causing instant Danica mania while flirting with capturing the pole at Indy and finishing 4th in her rookie year. Now once again history is about to be made when the Brickyard will see three females take the green flag for this year’s running of the Indianapolis 500.

As Virginia Slims would say, “You’ve come a long way Baby…”

(PS: If anybody has seen Danny B’s Milka Duno lunch box laying around the grandstands at Indy, please turn it into Lost ‘N Found…)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Monnocoe misery

Of course, once pen has gone to paper… Those involved usually do something foolish, eh? As I sat watching the second practice session of the Monaco Grand Prix, the SPEED crew chimed in various comments about the F1 drivers I’d just written about.

Although I thoroughly enjoy Peter Windsor’s insights on a whole. Why is he all in lather over Louise “Jaguar” Hamilton? As I found it really ANNOYING to hear him once again blather on about how special Hamilton is. As Windsor made the cardinal mistake to me, upon saying that Hamilton was having Senna like moments around the confines of Monte Carlo… Earth to Windsor, He ain’t NO Frilling Ayrton Senna!!!!

Then it came to me, Hamilton has become Windsor’s new British Hope. Ah, those “cheeky” Brit’s. Always in search of the next great British driver to bring them the trophy. As for some reason they believe the universe of Formula 1 is situated in Bloody ‘ole England. Looks like “Jense” has lost his luster.

And then the moment was over, when Hamilton took it a little too far and SMASHED into the barriers… As Windsor was quick to point out that its Jaguar’s very first mistake.

And it’s not hard to understand how a driver can make a mistake at Monaco as the cars go screaming around the country in one and a quarter minutes at 100mph! Hitting speeds of 185mph thru the artificially lit tunnel!

Professor Matchett pointed out that the drivers were making 57/58 gear shifts per lap! With 76 second laps equating to an average of shifting every 1.3 seconds.

And of course Windsor had to talk down ‘ANT’s” performance of late, saying he’s fast but seems to crash a lot. Hmmm? Sound familiar to a certain female’s comments about one of her competitor’s? This was prior to Davidson crashing against the Armco and being shown walking back to the pits alongside Hamilton.

And of course Adrian Sutil crashed hard against the barriers along with “Fishy Fella” and Mark Webber having incidents. So it appears that street racing is harder then it looks. Although I did enjoy David Hobbs comments about Mario Andretti. Hobbs said that Andretti claimed if you didn’t come back into the pits from Indy with white paint on your tires, then you weren’t trying hard enough…

And finally, Bob Varsha noted that Michael Schumacher was on hand for his second race in a row. In case you were wondering why more than the 32,000 residents don’t take advantage of the tax haven. Keep in mind that Schuey has been asked to leave the Principality due to the fact that he wasn’t spending enough time living there!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hamilton Mania

Nope, not Davey Hamilton, who deserves all of the hoopla… Yet with all of the OVERHYPE about Louis “Jaguar” Hamilton. And don’t get me wrong, as he’s been simply brilliant to date, as I’m totally IMPRESSED by his performance. But is the over sensationalism getting too far out of hand?

And although I witnessed it “live” via the television screen at several hours of the wee morning over a decade ago. I cannot recall if there was a similar crescendo towards Formula 1 “rookie” Jacques Villeneuve’s arrival.

Yet apparently there was, according to Bob Varsha during the Spanish GP weekend. Varsha noted that Villeneuve had sat on Pole his very first race out, finishing second behind Damon Hill, before winning on his fourth start.

Yet it appears that all of this has been purged from my “Way Back Memory Machine.” But I’m quite certain I took great glee in the fact that it was one of “ours” as a Champ Car Champion made good against the “hoity toity” of Grand Prix racing.

But it seems a bit contrite to already be picking Hamilton as World Champion in his rookie season as the odds are definitely against him. (It’s NEVER been done in Formula 1) Perhaps Peter Winsor’s accolades upon the youngster will be realized, but will Hamilton truly become a multi World champion?

And I find it bothersome that Hamilton is getting all of the media’s attention for this year’s rookie crop of F1 drivers. Heikki Kovalainen isn’t exactly a “slouch,” even if Flavour Flav gave him a dressing down after his Formula 1 debut Down Under. Yet the massive drop in the Renault’s performance doesn’t seem exactly confidence inspiring towards winning titles this season.

My personal favourite for “Rookie of the Year” is none other than Adrian Sutil, who was a teammate to Hamilton in their earlier days. Yet Sutil has been experiencing a steep learning curve aboard the Spyker F8VII chassis, along with multiple crashes. But Sutil has outshone his “veteran” teammate Cristijan Albers, whom seems completely lost upon the team’s mandatory switch to Japanese rubber.

And what about Anthony “ANT” Davidson, whom for all practical reasons is in his rookie season and has been making life tough for his more experienced teammate Takuma Sato. You may recall that greatness was expected from “Taku” upon his arrival to F1 a few seasons ago. Yet Taku was effectively “sacked” from the “Works” Honda team and installed at the satellite operation of Super Aguri, which came about after a massive ground swelling by the Japanese public over Taku’s demise.

Perhaps I’m off base here, but Hamilton’s performance to date seems to mirror another star struck Formula 1 pilot, who’s traded his super license for Oval Track credentials. Does anybody remember the stir caused over Juan Pablo Montoya’s arrival to F1 and being brash enough to pass Michael Schumacher during a Grand Prix.

Hopefully Hamilton’s career will be more rewarding then MAC’s tenure in F1. Then again it all depends upon how “Jaguar” decides to handle the pressures placed upon him and how large his ego becomes…

Hopping up Indy

So it might not be quite as exciting as “WWF RAW,” Or the Nextel Cup All Star races. But while Indianapolis has the three ring circus, better known as the Danica, Sarah and Milka show. Formula 1 is hopeful that Spyker will fly Paris Hilton into Monte Carlo this weekend to pitch its newest bubbly…

Yet I found it most amusing that the Indy Racing League has a little scandal of its own to contend with. Originally Robin Miller broke the story on Wind Tunnel last Sunday night, when he told Dave Despain that some IRL teams had been caught running Methanol in their Ethanol fuel to try boosting performance. In the immortal words of Bobby Unser: “I think there’s some Slippery Liquids on track!”

What’s that? Sound a little bit like Mikey “SQUEAKY CLEAN” Waltrip’s incident at Daytona this year? And has anybody noticed how poor ‘ole Mikey hasn’t qualified for a race since. But I digress…

Since Miller’s report, IMS’s Brian Barnhart originally tried not naming names, but has finally divulged who the IRL has fined for this incident. With one of the little teams getting either nabbed, thrown under the bus or both.

Dreyer & Reinbold have been fined $25,000 by Indy Car along with having to pay for damages to the Honda “lump.” (Estimated between $70-100K)

But perhaps the extremely high exhaust temperatures that tipped Honda off to this concoction of Jet Fuel were instead caused by the team using George Foreman grills. You know the ones that will cook anything? Since the flashy ex-Heavyweight Champion boxer has just agreed to become the team’s newest co-owner.

Does this mean that he’ll KNOCK OUT Tony George if Panther Racing doesn’t win the race? And talk about your ultimate tail gaiting party as John Andretti has the perfect cooking utensils to take camping with him while the team listens to Gomer Pyle on the starting grid.

Meanwhile, Danica is apparently nervous about being knocked out of the feline limelight at The Brickyard and has been “Trash Talkin” about Ryan Briscoe. Danica claims he’s quick but crashes way too much and “wunders” if Briscoe can go the distance this Sunday. Uh “Princess” who’s that starting next to you?

Coincidently Roger Penske possibly views the “Aussie” as another young Paul Tracy? (Is Danica jealous?) Which made it even more interesting to read that Briscoe could be in line for Sam Hornish Jr’s seat when he bolts for RASSCAR…

Quick! Somebody go wake up Jimmy Neighbor’s. I think it’s almost time to sing about the Sycamores…

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dyno Testing

Here is an interesting video link a friend sent me featuring the Renault F1 “Boy’s” busily testing one of their Formula 1 engines. Check it Out!

Renault Dyno Test

The Flying Tomas brothers

Hoorah! “Juan ‘O” my namesakes have successfully made his return to motor racing, while the other is still on the mend. Yet perhaps the Flying moniker isn’t the best choice of words as both drivers were badly injured.

Not to be confused with the Brundell Brothers. (Martin “Billy bob” Brundle & Mark Blundell) Nope, I’m talking about none other then the Tomas brothers, err Tom Kristensen and Tomas Enge who were both injured in racing accidents earlier this year.

Enge had a major shunt while piloting the Peterson/White Lightning Ferrari F430GT at St. Petersburg. Yet Tomas has made an amazingly fast recovery and returned to competition last weekend in Salt Lake City’s ALMS event.

Kristensen was involved in a crash during the Hockenheim DTM (German Touring Car) race and is still recovering from his injuries. Which may cause him to miss this year’s 24 Heurs du Mans.

If you wish to view the carnage of Tom Kristensen’s accident, check out this U Tube clip: Kristensen Crashes at Hockenheim.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Big MAC Attack

“Cheep” Ganassi’s drivers seemed to be the common theme of this past weekend’s Wind Tunnel on SPEED TV. As first up was an entertaining interview with Dan Wheldon. As part way thru the first segment Dave Despain broke out in laughter upon noticing the button “Spike” was wearing.

Is that your Chip Ganassi button or are you borrowing it from Robin Miller? Wheldon replied, I’m borrowing it from Mr. Miller. Although I must say Chip looks a lot younger on the button. I must have really caused him some stress…

And although I didn’t see the wreck live, I did find it quite bemusing to see how many people (both drivers and spectators) MAC Montoya managed to infuriate with his first lap “shahmozzle” during the RASSCAR “All $tar” race at Humpy Wheeler’s house.

This follows on the heels of listening to the in car radio exchange last week when his crew chief pleaded with Juan Pablo to pull over and let his teammate pass by. Montoya in his best Southern “drawl” repeated several times “HALL NO!”

MAC appears to have become Nextel Cup’s newest Charles Barkley… As in you either “Luv him or Hate ‘em.” And the majority of callers to Wind Tunnel seemed to “Hate ‘em.”

Yet I found the “Tunnel Head” who got the Last Call to be hilarious. He started off by asking Despain if he knew where he could get a Juan Pablo Montoya bobble head. Despain said NO, I don’t have “Juan” here, nor do I know where you can find one…

You seem to be in the minority of caller’s tonight, why do you want a Montoya bobble head? And the caller retorted. “Cause I want to SMASH IT with a cast iron skillet…”

Bourdais tests Toro Rosso

Sebastian Bourdais has just completed testing for Scuderia Toro Rosso during last weeks Paul Ricard Formula 1 test. And this test along with a further evaluation at Spa Francorchamps later this season will most likely see the Hamburgular signing a contract to drive for Toro Rosso in 2008.

Of course the arrival of “Sea Bass” would require the departure of one of STR’s current drivers, with rumour suggesting Scott Speed is “On the Bubble.” Yet David Coulthard’s contract expires this year, so could Vitantonnio Luzzi be moved to Red Bull in order to make room for Bourdais?

Monday, May 21, 2007

New Formula 1 races

And although Indy’s “Boomp Day” garnered the majority of media attention. In case you didn’t hear the news, during the recent Spanish Grand Prix. It was announced that Valencia and Singapore had both been awarded Formula 1 races beginning in 2008.

Both of these venues will be held on newly created street circuits, a la Monaco and there seems to be some confusion towards whether or not Singapore’s event will be a night race. Emperor Ecclestone would prefer the night race simply to give him prime time TV exposure in Europe vs. the typical ‘O Dark 30 we routinely experience stateside.

Also announced was the contract extension of Barcelona, following on the heels of recent extensions of Turkey and Malaysia. These contracts will help Bernie fulfill his aspirations towards a 20 race schedule for next year’s calendar.

The Valencia event is expected to be held towards the end of the season in October with Singapore most likely in the beginning when the F1 circus makes its sweep through Asia…

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Three card Indy

While my esteemed Indiana Bureau Chief Danny B. was busy drinking creame soda’s inside the IMS media center, I couldn’t resist putting in my two cents worth on today’s coverage of Indy’s Day 3 Qualifying.

And I have to say that its interesting how different the media coverage was as once again for humour I tuned into the IMS Radio Network for hour one of today’s action, since it wasn’t on TV. It was great to have the radio coverage go PAST their allotted time to cover John Andretti’s run completely, including a live interview immediately afterwards. Even better was getting to hear the wave of emotions flowing over Andretti as he tried to answer all of the questions after a 13 year absence from Indy.

And then I started laughing again while pondering if it was “Groundhog Day?” As I feared a repeat of last weekend’s travesty when the LPGA overran the final hour of Day 2 Qualifying on ESPN2.

These thoughts came about since “The Deuce” once again had another scintillating round of Women’s golf preceding the Speedway TV coverage. And once again since NOBODY was trying to qualify during the “Heat” of the day, ESPN2’s announce crew (MINUS Rusty L.T.O. Wallace) quickly got us “Up to Speed” upon the day’s happenings.

“Sure ‘Nuff” there was Milka Duno getting prime billing as she was the very first competitor to qualify. With the TV coverage showing her getting instructions before leaving, both warm-up laps along with all four qualifying laps and an extensive interview afterwards. Yet John Andretti got third rate billing, showing only 75% of his run and NO interview.

Recently I’ve been “Wunderin” how much does it cost to run a limited program at Indy? So I enjoyed the venerable pit reporter Jack Arute throwing out the following figures while awaiting qualification attempts, as the “Heavy Hitters” AGR, Ganassi and Penske were busy circulating in race day trim.

If you sign-up for a full month program then you’re allowed to run 1,200 laps for the entire month, while second week only contestants are limited to a lower lap count. (No figure given) All entrants are limited to 35 sets of “Flinstones” (Firestone tires) for the entire month of May which cost $64,000.

A full month Honda engine lease will cost $225,000 vs. $95,000 for a second week only package.

A preferred current spec Dallara chassis will cost you $300,000 vs. $145,000 for a year old G-Force/Panoz chassis.

I found all of this extremely interesting after the big “guffhaw” over the NFL forbidding PDM racing to run their #18 entry painted blue & white with the words Go Colt’s emblazoned on the side pods. This was after a sponsor had paid $7,000 for the paint job.

Yet the Playa Del Racing team secured Indiana Ice sponsorship for it’s #21 Jaques Lazier piloted entry. The two full width side pod logo’s cost a cool $150,000. Today ESPN2 made a big deal out of it by pointing out how the Indiana WNBA & Pacers were both quick to jump onboard Lazier’s entry.

And Arute further chimed in on the costs of Indy in regards to rookie Phil Giebler’s crash during qualifying. Unfortunately the rookie crashed on his final lap while making a solid 221+ mph attempt. Stating that the wrecked rear wing would cost $30,000 while the damaged gearbox would set the team back a further 85 grand.

During Robin Miller’s OTB video segment on SPEED TV this week, Jimmy Kite’s owner quipped to Miller. “You know the drill, its $30,000 a corner!” (For repairs)

Yet the days best TV highlight came after the 6PM gun had been nervously fired as pit reporter Sam Welch helped set-up Dario “REO Speedwagon” Franchitti on his 44th birthday. Innocently beginning the interview with birthday wishes while Dario’s teammates came racing in and completely plastered Dario’s mug with a chocolate cake!

And Franchitti stood there completing the interview with his wife Ashley Judd eating cake off of his face, while telling the story about cutting Tony Kanaan’s custom made bicycle in half while TK was in the midst of an interview for ESPN a few years ago. Dario promised that paybacks would be forthcoming, especially to his rookie teammates Marco and Danica…

Friday, May 18, 2007

Italian Spin Job

Ah, those feisty Italians! You may have heard about Ferrari having just been voted the best place to work in Europe?

Well in typical Italian fashion, the Ferrari employees have decided to strike after some apparent “strife” with the management. So perhaps not all is perfect in Maranello? Does this mean Ferrari has to give the award back?

“Mama Mia, That’s a spicy Meatball!”

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Stirling Moss Speaks (Part 2)

(Editor’s Note: Not to be outdone by my new Indiana Bureau Chief Danny B. I thought I’d better include a photo of Sir Stirling along with the final installment of Stirling Speaks. Yet I must say that Dan has much better taste…)

Next Dave Despain put a caller “on-air: to speak with Sir Stirling, asking for Moss’s thoughts upon today’s “ultra-safe” race cars and lack of passing, etc. To which Moss replied “Well I am definitely the WRONG person to ask…”

“Motor racing is a dangerous sport.” Look when I was and Idiot at 17 or 18 I wanted to have a go at it because it was dangerous! When you’re young you want to put your life on the line…

If a man wishes to risk his neck than I think he should be entitled to that, but as a driver our main concern has always been for the safety of you the fans and of course the marshals.

A modern day Formula 1 car is a fantastic machine… (Did you know that they’re ultra safe?) I recently had the chance to drive one. And I was doing around 180mph and I simply lifted off. And the deceleration (G-Forces) from simply lifting was more then I ever had in my entire career of 525 races with the brakes FULL ON!

We’ve got so much safety today that almost nobody dies in F1, which is a good thing. And I don’t want to say it’s easy, because it’s certainly not, but an element is missing as there’s almost no contempt of danger.

Today’s cars are a bit like an automatic focus camera. Now if you’re just an average fan taking a picture then all of that’s good, but if you’re a professional photographer then you enjoy having to play with film speed, F-Stops and the like to take your own pictures. And these modern Formula 1 cars are a bit like an auto-focus camera today…

Coming back from commercial break a second caller asked Moss to name who he thought was the greatest Formula 1 driver? (And feel free to include yourself, the caller interjected) Stirling paused for a second and then said.

That’s impossible! You just simply cannot compare drivers side by side. I mean I think you need to break it down into two categories. One would be when it was “Bloody” dangerous, like from beginning to the mid 1960’s (I’d disagree there as drivers still routinely perished thru the early ‘80’s) And Two would be from the mid ‘60’s to present.

Of course I’m biased, so I’d say Fangio, Jimmy Clark or Tazio Nuvolari. Now I drove against Nuvolari towards the end of his career and he wasn’t that great, but Nuvolari was simply a “Magic Man…”

Then in today’s era I’d have to say Senna. Of course many people would say Michael Schumacher, but for me he simply wasn’t as good as Ayrton Senna!

But you simply CANNOT compare Senna to Fangio as they raced in different periods. They’res a lot to be said about when you’re racing and you know if you go off in that corner you’ll be dead vs. if I go off in that corner I’ll just simply go back to the pits and get another car…

Despain then inquired if Stirling liked the title of greatest driver never to win the World Championship or does it bother you? Oh NO! I guard that title jealously! It may sound like I’m touting my ego, but there were lots of World Champions I could beat and a few who’d beat me.

I mean there’s several drivers who never won the World Championship that I deeply admire like Dan Gurney or Tony Brooks.

Despain then asked if he had the story correct where Moss could have become the first British World Champion but defended his rival instead?

Yes, I could have won by a half point or something but I told the Stewards that Mike Hawthorn had done nothing wrong and should be re-instated as it was clearly a rules technicality only.

Mike was my friend and I knew I could beat him… And he’d simply gone down an escape road and done nothing wrong. Re-instating him to second place as I’d WON the race gave Mike the championship…

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Stirling Moss Speaks

Known as the “Best driver to never WIN the World Championship,” Stirling Moss was previously a guest on Wind Tunnel. And I found this to be a superb interview, as Moss’s resume read’s like a “Who’s Who” of Motorsports, finishing runner-up in Grand Prix four times, winning nearly 40% of events entered and driving 84 different marques over a 14 year Open Wheel and Sports Car career.

Sir Stirling was speaking from Amelia Island where he was part of the entourage taking part in the Concours de Elegance. The “Hit Parade” included such luminaries as John Surtees, John Fitch, Vic Elford, Brian Redman, Herschel McGriff and legendary mouth piece Chris Economacki…

Dave Despain’s first question was in regards to how large were the stories ‘O yesteryear? Moss replied, “Which One?” Despain rephrased by saying he’s noticed that when a bunch of past drivers get together and reminisce the stories tend to get a wee bit embellished.

Moss replied saying that there was always plenty ‘O lore to be had, but it was a different time back then as I NEVER wore a seat belt!

But I must tell you a story about the “Econo-Meister” as I was there. I believe it was the 24 Hours of Daytona and in those days we had to run across the track at the start of the race. And as they dropped the green flag Chris was still standing there interviewing me… As I said, excuse me but I have to dash off!

Despain noted that Stirling’s backdrop was the all conquering Mercedes Benz W196 which won the 1955 Mille Millia, Targa Florio and the Tourist Trophy. Despain asked what was so special about that “Golden Era” of motor racing.

Moss commented that in those days the atmosphere was much friendlier, I suppose like your RASSCAR is today. And it was also much more dangerous as I raced in short sleeves, no seat belt, etc. And there was something special about racing upon the open roads which were sometimes closed off, sometimes not! Yet we didn’t hang about as I believe I finished the 1,000 kilometers in 10 hours, 4 minutes traveling at 179-180mph…

Despain noted how the 1955 24 Heurs du Mans was also probably the “Blackest Day” in racing. While Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio were leading the race, their sister car collided with a back marker, careened into the grandstands and killed 80 spectators. Moss was very diplomatic about the incident explaining how it was nobody’s fault. And although it led to Mercedes Benz withdrawing from competition and Switzerland banning racing, the sport did manage to live on…

To continue reading, see: Stirling Moss Speaks (Part 2)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bernie Spice?

Not to be confused with “Old Spice.” Emperor Ecclestone has been causing great buzz over the past few weeks with his latest visions of Formula 1’s future.

First Bernie caused a tither over the possibilities of starting up a rival Asian GP2 series. Cynics suggest this is an attempt to crush the rival A1 GP. Yet with the excruciating delay between rounds of Messer Ecclestone’s prized jewel, (Formula 1) Bernie “The Muppet” decided to drop by and cast his shadow over the paddock of Brands Hatch during the recent A1 GP season finale.

This sighting in turn led to speculation that Ecclestone was possibly giving the rival series a “Test Drive.” Or perhaps seeing if any deals could be had at “Flea Market” prices, as Bernie’s always looking for new entities to add to his mushrooming portfolio. (Perhaps Bernie was merely shopping for some new threads?)

Interestingly it has been reported that the “Death Star Bernie” (F1 Empire) has just filed for patent approval of the term GP3, complete with flashy race car logo. So could a new Feeder series be in the offing?

Then there’s the current takeover of the Istanbul Park Circuit, where’s Messer Ecclestone wiped away the punitive fines levied against the previous race organizers in order to ensure a Turkish Grand Prix until 2021.

And as Peter Windsor so rightly pointed out, it seems a bit hypocritical of Bernie to levy a $5 million dollar fine against Turkey for a political wrangling upon the race podium, yet stipulate that the Valencia event is dependant upon the current government win upcoming elections.

Apparently Ecclestone was too busy rubbing elbows with the King of Spain and Herr Schumacher in Barcelona last weekend as others had wondered aloud if Bernie’s passport would soon be adorning a Singapore stamp. (Not to be confused with Singapore Sling's...)

This was in regards to the announcement of Singapore being granted a Grand Prix for 2008. Joining new race venue Valencia on next season’s calendar. Yet Singapore’s deal was only dependant upon the Government’s funding of facilities, while the region’s Real Estate Czar will also ante currency into the project.

This means that after no temporary street circuit races being added to the calendar since the long forgotten Iceberg Grand Prix held in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. (1989-91) There will now be three street races next year with Valencia and Singapore joining Monaco. And with Valencia landing the title of European Grand Prix, it appears that the rival German venues will be forced to share the German GP moniker beginning in ’09.

It appears one of the reasons for Bernie spending “quality time” in Barcelona was to announce the Spanish Grand Prix circuit’s contract extension, as the venue will host races thru 2016. Thus making Spain the newest two race Country on the F1 calendar.

So where will Mr. Ecclestone show up next? And what further changes will he cause in his quest for a 20 race Grand Prix calendar? As India seems assured of a new event, along with rumours of South Korea in the mix. And Japan wants to join the two race crowd with a return to Suzuka…

Monday, May 14, 2007

Another Brick in the Wall

Yeah, I know many of you are probably getting sick of me beating the proverbial “Dead Horse.” But here’s a few more comments from Sunday night's The Speed Report in regards to the vaunted Brickyard’s Pole Day weekend.

Was that Speed TV’s Dudley or Dynamic Duo live from the Speedway? As Drew Johnson claimed if he’d seen Robin Miller in person he’d have turned him in to Tony George for the $20 reward...

Playing the role of the “Boy Wonderer.” Or most definitely, the Dudley portion of the duo was Derr-Wreck Daily, chiming in with his 12 cents worth. And although he didn’t say anything earth shattering. I suppose you’d have to find it slightly bemusing when Miller asked him who’d the final 11 entrants would be?

Daily quipped it would be “Harem Scarem” time as some of the persons trying to put rides together were pretty scary. Mentioning that one even had a 1-800 number on his garage to help him buy an engine…

And I’m told that contrary to the constant media drubbing of how attendance was “GRRRRRRRRRRRRREATTTTT!” It was actually pretty sad. Compare this against Barcelona having 67,000 adoring Spaniards for Friday F1 Practice vs. how many for Indy’s “Fast Friday.” Or Pole Day vs. the Spanish GP qualifying…

In fairness to Indy, Portland, Oregon’s largest G.I. Joes 200 race day attendance was only 65,000+ during the pinnacle of Champ Cars popularity during the mid-1990’s.

But for me, by far the best quote of the show came from none other than ex-Beauty Queen Nicole Manske while reading off the Indy 500’s grid. “In row three is “The Princess” and Marco.” (As in none other than Danica…)

Spanish GP Weekend

Anxiously awaiting the long overdue return to Formula 1 racing, I must say that this weekend’s TV coverage towards the build-up of the Spanish Grand Prix was a bit sanguine.

There seemed to be less than normal to reflect upon. (Or was I simply too distracted over the melodramatic Indianapolis TV coverage?( It was mentioned routinely how Michael Schumacher was making his first race appearance since retiring. And Herr Schumacher’s Barcelona statistics are quite impressive, having won six times, taking seven poles and 12 Podiums.

David Hobbs mentioned how Schumacher had been absolutely brilliant in his win for Ferrari back in 1996. Demoralizing his competition by running 4 seconds a lap faster then the rest of the field in the rain.

But this didn’t seem to matter much as Bob Varsha quipped that Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen were less than impressed with Schuey’s appearance for the weekend. Ah, so much for yesterday’s news, eh?

I did find Varsha’s comment about the weight of Grand Prix machinery interesting. Stating that current Formula 1 chassis minimum weight equals 1,322lbs including driver. This compares very favorably with Indy Racing League chassis weighing in at 1,800lbs. Thus implying that a Formula 1 race cars power to weight ratio is superior.

And perhaps it’s just me, but I took certain glee in Felipe Massa spoiling Fernando Alonso’s parade by capturing Pole position on the Spaniard’s home soil, as the air was let out of the massive Spanish audience.

The venue was a sell out, with 142,000+ attending on race day, with a projected 3 day total of 310,000. Which isn’t too shabby for a country that Alonso claims you couldn’t even watch Formula 1 on TV a few years ago…

Qualifying Results

And then what can I say about the actual race? I mean talk about your fireworks. The race action certainly made up for any lacking of excitement of the prior two days.

Although I suppose I should be impressed by Jarno Trulli’s excellent qualifying results, splitting the more superior BMW Sauber’s. Yet it was all for not, as fuel pressure gremlins robbed Trulli at the start.

And then all mayhem occurred with multiple retirements. With the most perplexing race incident involving Nick Heidfeld and a front wheel nut, or has Messer Hobbs said “Three Nuts…”
And like Professor Matchett repeated several times. “I still don’t know how that front wheel stayed on?”

And I’m even more perplexed over the intricacies of the off mentioned Seamless Shift gearboxes. Peter Winsor reported that David Coulthard would be forced to turn his off sometime during the duration of the Grand Prix. This was in effort to ensure gearbox reliability as Red Bull Racing’s Seamless system is still relatively brand new. Apparently these gearboxes are similar to some street car driver aids that can be activated or disconnected.

And I know I probably shouldn’t mention the fact that I was rooting for Taku-San (Takuma Sato) to overtake “Fishy Fella” (Giancarlo Fisichella) for the final points scoring position. But I found it absolutely wonderful for Taku to score “Super Best Friends” (Super Aguri) very first Grand Prix championship point. Which I’m sure only adds even more pressure onto Honda’s “Works” team…

Race Report

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Four!


And I continue to “wunder” What’s WRONG with Open Wheel Racing? I’m pretty sure I now know the answer…

For humour I decided to tune-in for Indy “Happy Hour” Day Two qualifying “live” on The Deuce. And it was really PATHETIC for the show to be pre-empted by the LPGA…

Yes that’s correct, Woman’s Golf “BUMPED!” Indy off the air as a two way playoff was covered in EXCRUTIATING stroke by MISSED stroke action. With the two finalists trying to give the title away to their competition for three extra holes.

(“Isn’t it Ironic?” But hey! Danica’s already “safely” in the show… So who cares?)

So I found it WOEFULLY humorous as the ESPN2 announcers tried to OVER HYPE the sensationalism (?) of The Brickyard’s new qualifying format… As Rusty “Left Turn Only” Wallace expounded: “How cool is it that we went all the way down to the wire to see who’d “Boomp” their way into the Top 22!”

Uh, “Earth to Rusty!” The whole “FRILLING” final 60 minutes was NOT seen because of some STUPID playoff golf!

Is it any “wunder” why Open Wheel Racing is on life support? I mean, C’mon that’s supposed to be “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Then again what can you say about Indy when one of the "top" story lines is John Herb getting “boomped” out of the days field twice in one afternoon…

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Indy Commercial Day

So I know its part of the DREADED Price ‘O COMMERCIALISM… In order to bring us “Live” racing action. But what in the HELL is up with the OVERSATURATED COMMERCIAL FEST on ABC’s Family ‘O Network’s coverage of Pole Day from Indianapolis. (Quick it’s been 6 1 /2 minutes since our last break… And we all know that Americans have really short attention spans…)

I mean is this the sordid state of affairs, when the “Deuce” (ESPN2) hosts the opening two hours of Indy qualifying sponsored by Go Daddy. (Although I know who that is. How many of you know who they are?) And I wonder how much it cost them to have Danica on their “team.”

Yet I’d have to say that the classiest move of the whole day came early during qualifying when TV Announcer Marty Reid paid homage to Tom Carnegie by having him call AJ Foyt IV’s qualifying attempt. It was really nice to hear the REAL voice of Indy once again. You may recall that “Baritone Tom” was the official track announcer for 61 years! (Yet Mr. Carnegie is suffering health-wise lately)

Today finally marks the first time in three years that Indy gets to try out its much vaunted “New” qualifying format of having only the fastest eleven cars “locked” into the starting grid. As in desperation over the LACK of entrants making the much ballyhooed Bump Day into “BOOMP Day.” Now each car has three qualifying attempts per day… Which as Robin Miller pointed out, assures EVERYBODY of making the field…

And it was pretty funny to see the #12 Luczo Dragon “Penske B Team” entry driven by Ryan Briscoe sitting on Pole briefly while “The Captain” (Roger Penske) elected to pull both of his entries out of the qualifying line during the early heat of the day.

Briscoe’s time was faster then both of Chip Ganassi’s first attempts with Scott Dixon 4th and Dan Wheldon 6th. While the only female taking a shot at qualifying was Danica Patrick who wound up 8th. (Ahead of both Andretti’s) As all five of the Andretti Green entries squeaked thru first day qualifying with the “Boss” (Michael) holding onto 11th place.

After the fury of initial qualifying during the first hour and twenty minutes, Dario “REO Speedwagon” Franchitti sat atop the Indianapolis scoring pylon, with Briscoe in P3.

And then the doldrums of the waiting game set in as the track went silent during the hottest portion of the day. Upon switching networks after a 1hr break, the first hour of ABC’s coverage was just recaps of the day’s action before going to a live interview with Milka duno in street clothes. Duno stated that her team would now focus upon practice on Wednesday, before going for second week qualifying. And I found it funny how they had to go immediately to Danica after talking with Duno.

Then another “filler” interview with Billy Jean King who really laid into the gender issue… Before Jack Arute cut her off!

And then finally the action picked up, as there’s some added drama about how your car goes into a “Parc Ferme” involuntary impound condition with 1hour 45 minutes remaining in the days action.

Helio Castroneves made his first qualifying attempt at 4:15PM, (EDT) yet wasn’t quick enough to bump Dario off of pole. And then Sam Hornish Jr. took not one but two shots at Dario. On both runs Hornish was ahead of Dario’s time before making one minor mistake in each run to end up with a slower 4 lap average.

And then the ultimate “Chinese Checkers” game began when Dixon put his #9 into the tech inspection line with 37 minutes left.

This opened the proverbial “floodgates” on the minuscule amount of last minute qualifiers, as everybody left standing took one last shot at Franchitti. I mean the pole position pays $100,000 as well as short lived bragging rights.

And I enjoyed Reid’s comment, claiming it was a “Maalox Moment” for Dario as Castroneves “stole” the ple away with 10 minutes left. The gun was fired to signal the end of qualifying as Tony Kanaan started his last gasp effort… Falling just short of Castroneves on the final lap…

And what the HELL was the deal with interviewing Danica at the end of qualifying? As I’m getting really tired of hearing her “Hissy Fit” interviews. (Because she didn’t get another chance at the Pole…)

And was the outcome of Pole Day overly surprising to anyone? With ten of the top eleven grid positions being captured by Ganassi, Penske and Andretti Green. As Tomas Scheckter of Tony George’s “Vision” Racing was the lone interloper.

(Perhaps its just me, but I believe that the Indy Racing League needs to go back to the drawing board as 6 hours for qualifying is simply TOO LONG!)

So did the new format work? Was the “New” Indy qualifying format akin to Formula 1’s “Knock-Out” qualifying. Or was it simply a way too long stringing out of too few entrants vs. WAY TOO MANY Commercials!

You make the call…

Top 11 INdy Grid Positions

Friday, May 11, 2007

Fast Friday

Upon penning today’s quips about Milka Duno’s accident. I did the “Unthinkable.” (Being a devoted Champ Car fan…) For the very first time ever, I listened to a live IMS Radio Network broadcast via the internets... And funny enough, I tuned-in “Just-in-Time" to hear this year’s media darling Milka Duno being interviewed about her CRASH! “I... I think I went a little too high into turn 1 and had a big crash.”

Johnny Parsons (JP) who’s moonlighting for Davey Hamilton in the booth this year had an interesting observation in regards to Duno’s crash. As Milka stated that the plan was for her team to fix the car and then qualify on Sunday. Parson’s pointed out how he was amazed how many teams were lacking back up chassis in their garages this year. (Perhaps the IRL is a little cash strapped also…)

Towards the tail end of “Happy Hour” they interviewed Hamilton who sounded really down to earth. And I was amazed with his willingness to discuss his chassis set-up with Parsons.

Davey told JP what rear wing angles he was running, claiming he'd just slapped on negative 3 degrees in order to run a 222mph + lap and was now ready to throw negative 4 onto it. Hamilton said he'd been running 0 degrees the whole week which was his race set-up which was giving him a comfortable run at 218-219mph!

(That's “Frilling” amazing to comprehend how somebody can be comfortable running around Indy in EXCESS of 225-230mph!!!)

And it was fun to hear them interviewing Ryan Briscoe alongside some legend named Mears. As in Indy 500 four time winner Rick Mears, who chimed in about seeing Briscoe’s “loaned” Penske painted in “Pennzoil Yellow,” evoked happy memories of the past.

Don’t forget that PJ Jones will also be running in a chassis harkening back to the “Glory Days ‘O Yesteryear. As PJ will be qualifying on the second weekend aboard the number 40 painted in STP “Day glow Orange.” This is a tribute to his father’s 40th Anniversary of almost winning Indy aboard legendary team owner Andy Granatelli's Turbine car.

But the highlight of “Happy Hour” was Scott Dixon throwing down the gauntlet with a lap of 227+ mph in fairly warm conditions, as the weather is expected to drop 10 degrees on Pole Day…

Milka’s Doughnut

Perhaps it’s just me, but does anybody else find the timing of “Little E’s” (Ironhead Jr.) press conference a bit surprising? I mean why was this bombshell “dropped” just two days prior to Pole Day at Indianapolis.

And in RASSCAR lingo, when drivers collide with the wall at “Juan” famous track, it’s referred to as earning your Darlington Stripe.”

Ok, so I shouldn’t be jumping on the band wagon. But how could I refuse after getting the news from Danny B. that the wait is over… In his best Tom Carnegie voice, saying “Milka’s HIT the Wall!”

And although Duno’s not the first person to crash this month at Indy, with John Herb claiming the first lick. (Or would that be a “French Lick?”) I’m sure that Duno’s crash will receive far more media attention. Coming one day after Danica “flirted” with the day’s top speed, before settling for second. (Ahead of Dan Wheldon, etc.)

Yet at least Danica was honest and admitted her speed came courtesy of a tow. And before you think I’m being too harsh on the female Indy rookie, Duno can at least take solace in the fact that she’s been faster than ‘lil Al all month long. Yet again, I’m not sure if this is what The Brickyard has in mind in regards to earning your “Rookie Stripes…”

Thursday, May 10, 2007

F1 Video du Jour

As previously mentioned, BMW Sauber dispatched Nick Heidfeld to the Nurburgring to evoke memories of the Nordschleife’s greatness in front of 45,000 adoring Germans.

“Quick Nick” has just completed running three “Demonstration” laps around the utterly fantastic “Green Hella” during the unbelieveably long Grand Prix’s hiatus.

Although I had previously planne to pen an exquisite story about this, I will defer to the article posted at Full Throttle instead. As Marc has already done the “heavy lifting” by reminiscing about “Chez Armco.”

The story also Includes a brilliant 6+ minute video link of Heidfeld sauntering about the Nordschleife at roughly seven tenths. Unfortunately Team Principal Dr. Mario Theisen was unwilling to unleash Heidfeld in his quest for ultimate lap times…


Shelling for FerrariAs previously mentioned, Scuderia Ferrari celebrates the 60th Anniversary of road car production this year. And while the celebrations have already begun, the much anticipated

Shell Oil TV commercial has made its debut.

Hopefully this video clip plus the Heidfeld bit will help “rev up” your throttles for this weekend’s long awaited return to Grand Prix racing.

So turn up those computer speakers, sit back and enjoy!

Back home in Indiana

Hoorah, it’s the month of May, which means it’s that time again. When the engines roar to life at The Brickyard. As I can almost hear “Gomer Pyle” (Jim Neighbors) singing ‘bout the Sycamore.

And while Indy has definitely lost a lot of its luster, nevertheless the hoopla over the event is most entertaining as the media desires to create a three ring circus over Las tres hembras… (The Three Females) Better known as Danica, Sarah and Milka.

And perhaps it’s just me, but the publicity stunt appears to be working as everybody wants to know what Milka thinks about driving at Indianapolis. (Well almost everybody. Probably not Gene “I AM INDY” Simmons) as the media watch proclaims. Will Milka go faster today?

And Indy traditionally has a “Feel good” story of the month, although some aren’t really that great. But I’m happy to say that this year’s candidate is Davey Hamilton, who’s making his return after six plus years out of the cockpit. Hamilton was forced onto the sidelines after a massive crash in Texas, so it’s really good to see a driver return from devastating injuries, with Hamilton getting up to speed fairly quickly.

The on track action came to earnest when full field practice opened on Tuesday with 25 cars taking to the track. This was a far cry better then the pathetic Opening Day action which featured seven cars and two Rookies.

Speaking of which, this year’s crop of Rookies is the smallest since 1979 with only two contestants. And I’ll let you guess who one of them is. (Hint, She’s from south of the border.) While the overshadowed counterpart is Phil Giebler whom I’m told is from a Sprint Car background. Yet we won’t see anymore of Giebler until week two, as his team has selected the “cheaper” second weekend Honda engine lease program.

Yet the man to beat undoubtedly is Dan Wheldon. Hell Robin Miller even had a “Cheep” Ganassi button (circa 1982) affixed to his lapel while co-hosting Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain. And Despain took the bait, inquiring what’s the deal with the button? Miller replied that it’s when Chip had a skinny face and he’s just “Showing the LUV!” (For the Red Menace.)

And would you be shocked to learn that Wheldon has led the time sheets since practice began? Wheldon has “cruised” around The Brickyard at 225-226+ mph prior to Pole Day. Yet Penske’s Helio Castroneves hasn’t let Wheldon run away, nipping at his heels each session while their teammates are close behind.

Day One saw the top five drivers less than one second apart with Tomas Scheckter pulling off a surprise lap of 223+ mph to grab the third quickest speed on Tuesday. Yet perhaps Scheckter is a “Dark Horse” candidate as he’s remained solidly in the top five during practice.

And Tony Kanaan’s set-up must be pretty good. After shaking down both Danica’s and Marco’s “mounts,” they’ve both posted top ten times. Danica finished seventh (ahead of Sam Hornish Jr.) with Marco finishing fifth fastest on Day Two. Kanaan quietly motored about in sixth, sandwiched by his two younger teammates.

And I know its way too early to get downtrodden on ‘lil Al, who’s had very little seat time, but c’mon “Junior.” Unser Jr. cracked 206mph on his first day, then managed to improve to 215mph on Day Two of practice.

While Milka has improved to 219mph and Hamilton is just one spot ahead of the rookie, “Super Tex’s” entries are languishing at the bottom of the time sheets once again. As foyt’s primary driver Darren Manning is last on the speed charts, I think its time for Foyt to quit limiting mileage on his equipment and turn his drivers loose.

Meanwhile the Ganassi and Penske squads play the never ending game of chess in search of securing their place upon the Borg Warner trophy on Memorial Day weekend. As Pole Position and race victory will most likely be decided between the top three teams: Ganassi, Penske and Andretti Green. Then again will Indy disappoint these prominent outfits with the triumph of an unexpected victor?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Champ Car “All Roses”

While their counterparts swing into full practice for the upcoming Pole Day competition, the “Hits just keep on Coming,” as everything is fine in Champ Car… (NOT!) Yet the flowery theme of Champ Car refers largely to the six week hiatus the Open Wheel series is taking before its next round at Portland, Oregon on June 10th.

At Houston, The Four Mouseketeers err Musketeers… Messer’s Kalkhoven, Forsythe, Gentilozzi and new round table member Dan Petitt held a 36 minute press conference with selected journalists to answer questions regarding the current state of their series. You see this meeting was in keeping with Champ Cars new timed format and therefore could not be given a certain number of (laps) questions…

And while Kalkhoven repeatedly assured his audience that “Everything’s Fine,” Gentilozzi noted that in the absence of a race he expected all of the teams to use up the majority of their testing mileage over the break.

“I expect almost everybody to participate in the upcoming test days at Portland.” Drivers should use up to 400 miles of their allotted 600 test miles before the Portland event.

(Yet only five teams made the trek to PIR for the three day test, held on May 1-3. Taking part were: Minardi Team USA; Newman/Haas/Lanigan; Pacific Coast Motorsports; PKV; RSport. And while the weather was a bit inclement, once again the Hamburgular was atop the time sheets with his rookie wingman securing second place.)

This extended break also gives the drivers extra time to either heal from their injuries or hopefully find much needed funding to continue their drives.

Perennial series star Paul “I can’t drive 35” Tracy is hopeful of returning at the 100th Anniversary weekend of the Rose Festival, which serves as this year’s G.I. Joes 200 backdrop. With Alex Figge planning to be totally mended by the time the Transporters are parked alongside the Columbia River.

And two drivers will be busy working overtime scrounging for funds to continue their Champ Car careers as both Mario “Boom-Boom” Dominguez and Matt Halliday’s three race deals expired at Houston.

Of course without these two drivers returning, Champ Car will sink to 15 entries, yet Forsythe has a dilemma on his hands with “Super Sub” Oriol Servia’s two race performance as PT’s stand in. (Good thing Servia didn’t sign up as Tracy’s stunt double, eh?)

And the trouble with Servia’s performance is that he clearly outperformed Dominguez who Forsythe and Champ Car desperately need for their Hispanic audience. If I was Forsythe, I’d cut Dominguez loose, and replace him with Servia.

Then the “4 Horsemen” could start up another new operation named Team Chihuahua, err Mexico and run Dominguez and David Martinez in a two car effort. That should make the “Guacamole Heads” more then happy. CI?

And speaking of which, whatever happened to Gentilozzi’s South American backer’s who were going to purchase his operation and re-name it Team Brazil? Wait a second, is it just me or is this beginning to sound a bit like the A1 GP?

Meanwhile three current Champ Car “stars” decided to keep their helmets on and go racing during the holiday break. Alex Tagliani co-drove a Ford Mustang in the Grand Am GT race at Virginia International Raceway. (VIR)

Ironically Ryan Dalziel was named as Milka Duno’s replacement for the SAMAX DP (Daytona Prototype) entry at VIR, as “Y’all” know Duno was busy testing the “spin-dry” cycle at KC.

Bruno “Whiney Bags” Junqueira decided to hop a jet “Across the Pond” in order to compete for Team Brazil at Brands Hatch in the A1 GP season finale. It was Junqueira’s third time of driving for his home country’s entry and perhaps he wanted to “rub elbows” with the Czar of Formula 1…

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Nose Jobs

As I’ve mentioned before, “Formula 1 never sleeps.” And with the unusually LONG one month gap between Bahrain and Barcelona, it should come as no surprise that the various Constructors have been busy concocting new bits to debut in Spain.

Interestingly, during last week’s testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in preparations for the forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix. Honda and McLaren showed up with radical nose (“Snauzages”) treatments.

Upon the McLaren teams return from a brief “Holiday” on the isle of Menorca, Ron Dennis sent test driver Pedro de la Rosa to Barcelona to test drive a MP4/22 chassis with a “biplane” front wing. The extra wing element is mounted to the top of each front wing endplate and spans across the nose of the chassis.

These chassis developments are part of what has become critical for the entire F1 grid as a greater demand is put upon aerodynamics. Each Constructor spends countless hours in the wind tunnel searching for the slightest “aero” improvement, which are crucial towards increasing their team’s lap times. Yet then again the aero-gains must be balanced with mechanical grip in order to achieve maximum output on track as evidenced by Honda and Toyota’s mid-pack performance.

And can Honda claw its way out of its grasping at straws design by committee attempts to cure the woefully “SLOW” RA 107 with upgraded “aero-bits.” I suspect NOT. As Steve Matchett has stated before. “Son you’re gonna need more than just some fancy new piece’s of kit.” (Once a bad chassis, almost always a bad chassis)

Yet it will also be interesting to see if the FIA lets the Biplane noses become “de-rigueur” in Formula 1? Of course these new appendages would offer extra billboard space.

Now comes reports that McLaren will take the “"Bi-Nostril"” MP4/22 to the upcoming Spanish GP, while Honda’s “Dumbo Wings” will be scrapped. And while every bit helps, it doesn’t hurt having the reigning World Champion and the hottest Rookie on the grid as your current drivers either…

The newest Foyt

And although it’s been long speculated, and I heard it first from Robin Miller on The Speed Report. (As he also broke the news on Davey Hamilton’s return) It’s now official, Al Unser Jr. will partner AJ Foyt’s primary driver Darren Manning at this year’s Indy 500.

Yeah, we just don’t know what Indy means to “lil Al.” (Can you say “Greenback’s?”) But I suspect it will be a refreshing change of pace for Unser Jr’s off track problems. And how many times has Indianapolis been the theme of the two time winner’s rejuvenation?

Hopefully AJ Foyt will provide both of his drivers with decent equipment, as last year Unser Jr. struggled to come to grips with the under financed Dreyer & Reinbold team.

And with this being “Super Tex’s” 50th Anniversary in motor racing, we really don’t want to see AJ pounding on little Al’s cockpit surround with either a ratchet or lap top. Then again perhaps we do?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Schuey sets Sail

After staying out of the media’s spotlight upon his forced retirement, seven times World Champion Michael Schumacher has been busy making the rounds lately.

After finishing playing golf in Abu Dhabi, Willi Weber called upon his ex-client to hand out the A1 GP Championship trophy hardware. Where Schuey presented the shiny “cup” to the fledgling teenager Nico Hulkenberg.

The “stunt” was totally unplanned and seems to have ruffled some feathers of those whom have been on Schumi’s “Dance Card” for several years.

Next Michael made a surprise visit to America Cup challenger New Zealand to go for a “Three Hour cruse.” It seems a little surprising that Herr Schumacher rode aboard the opposition to Ferrari’s native country +39 Italian challenger.

And although Mary Ellen and Ginger weren’t present, I’m happy to report that the “Kiwi’s” didn’t have Gilligan at the helm either as the Emirates backed yawth defeated the Italians.

Was Michael simply hoping to either get a lift or go for a “walk about” his Isle ‘O Schumi? Since I suspect that the man made Middle East donated island isn’t large enough for Michael’s G5!

Yet I’m happy to report that Schuey & Co. safely returned to port…

Bourdais and Toro Rosso?

.With the Hamburgular threatening to once again steal the Vanderbuilt Cup for a fourth successive year in a row, speculation suggest that Sebastian Bourdais could all ready have a deal in his back pocket with Scuderia Toro Rosso for 2008.

And if the 28 year old Frenchman is true to his words, then he’ll pack his bags and move abroad next year to chase his dreams of being a Formula 1 pilot.

Its worth noting that Sea Bass’s manager is Nicolas Todt, son of Ferrari head honcho Jean Todt. And since Toro Rosso is currently a Ferrari engine customer, it’s not too far of a stretch to imagine this occurring, although I think it would be wiser for Renault to install Bourdais as David Coulthard’s replacement.

Then again if the Hamburgular departs, he won’t be able to get all of those free Big Macs anymore. While Champ Car will be left with another gaping hole to fill in it’s never ending driver roulette…

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Future Formula 1 Star

There are several second generation “Names” out there currently cutting their teeth in the various “feeder” series, with aspirations of Formula 1 “grandeur.”

Names such as Sennaa, Mansell, Piquet, Rosberg, Andretti, Rahal and Tambay are just a few of the luminaries setting their sights on the pinnacle of motorsport.

Lamenting the demise of the Red Bull young driver talent search, which brought us current American Formula 1 “Torch Bearer” Scott Speed. I’ve noticed that Linksheaven has its own adopted “Young Gun.”

Jean Michelle Cousteau, err Jan Michael Vincent. Nope, that’s NOT it… It’s John Michael Edwards, who currently competes in the Champ Car Atlantics for the Forsythe/Red Bull team. And best of all, I see that Messer Edwards has finally passed his Driving test!

Thus I’m happy to say that No Fenders has just named the very first recipient of the newly created “NiFStaR” (No Fenders STAR of Tomorrow) Driver) Trophy; Err Award... As we DON’T HAVE NO STINKIN’ BUDGET FOR ANY DAMN TROPHIES HERE AT NOFENDERZ!!!

And the award would have included a scholarship, but No Fenders is a “Schue-String” operation, hence there’s not enough in the Piggy Bank to pay for our selected candidate’s engine rebuilds. Let alone sponsor an entire race season.

So just who is the *NiFStaR* Trophy winner you ask? It’s none other than Marcus Wilkinson.

The 15 year old Mr. Wilkinson is a New York native whom is busy preparing for the upcoming season and will compete in Mini Indy League karts at Batavia International Motorsports Park. (BIMP) Where Marcus has just finished inspecting his leased mount as well as doing a track “walk about” during orientation. This was the prelude for the season’s impending “Kick Off” event.
With the upward progression to the faster Kart, Marcus begins his third season of racing, after having begun his career behind the wheel of his very first race car, a 1987 Microd.

And Marcus was quick out of the box, finishing second in his debut at Starlite Speedway in 2005. In his second season, Marcus won the 2006 Starlite Invitational Trophy as well as finishing 7th in the Tri County Championship.

NO Fenders eagerly await's Marcus’s first Mini Indy League karting victory as well as his continued success. Now I must scramble to have the Trophy created...

Good Luck!

Grey Bar du Hilton



OOPS! It appears that Paris Hilton may not be able to make the rounds in “Monnaquoe” after all, as the starlet has just been sentenced to 45 days in jail.

And the headline notes that they hope Paris “Likes Chicken.” As the blonde strumpet has been ordered to “Not Pass Go!” Nor try finding a swank, secluded “Celeb’s Only” minimum security prison to do her time. “Excuse me Guard. Does this Orange jump suit clash with my hair? And I really need to have a manicure…”

No, Paris is going to have to do “Hard Time? As it depends on whether or not there are bunks available at “Chez Grey Bar du Motel.” (And I’m sure her lawyer’s will be working overtime on preparing her briefs…)

Meanwhile in Holland, Spyker is pushing forward with the launch of its newest facility, The F1 Sports Bar. Along with tapping Heineken as their “Official Brew.” So, perhaps they’ll delay the Grand Opening ceremony until after the chagrined Ms. Hilton returns from solitary confinement. Then again what better way to endorse your newest “bubbly.”

Cheers Paris…

Friday, May 4, 2007

What’s wrong with “RACIN”

Watching my favourite Motorsports “talk show,” Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain a few week’s ago, I was left pondering if “Juan” ‘O his callers from California was reading Robin Miller’s script?

The caller claimed the problem with Champ Car is that there’s NO consistency, while comparing the Long Beach Champ Car race to Talladega Nights, err Nextel Cup at Talladega, Alabama…

Now I’m not exactly sure that any responsible track owner/operator would wish to be currently compared with Talladega. After the “Deep Fried Yea-Hoo’s” got carried away with throwing cans and bottles onto the race track! (Can you imagine Bernie Ecclestone letting such a thing happen?)

Yet, as this was prior to the recent RASSCAR flare-ups over “Pretty Boy Floyd’s” passing of ‘Ol Ironhead’s career victories tally, the caller pointed out the obvious.

“I mean there’s NO fan involvement in Champ Car. NOBODY’S wearing any team merchandise. I mean not only do the Nextel Cup fans wear Dale Earnhart T-Shirrs, but they’ve also got matching No. 8 red “BUTT-WIPER” team jackets…” (Ok so I added the Beer reference, but I think you get the point?)

I find the “guilty fans” behavior totally DISPICABLE at RASSCAR’s last two events… Perhaps I just haven’t been to enough “real racin.” But I’ve NEVER been to a facility that ALLOWS you to bring your OWN ALCHOLIC BEVERAGES!!!

And while I’ll agree with the fact that the entire race attending public shouldn’t be penalized for these Drunken “Buffoon’s” behavior, there’s absolutely NO room for such a display of STUPIDITY!!!

(Perhaps we’re too civilized in the Pacific Northwest? Since I got really carried away at last year’s Portland Champ Car race and Booed the Hamburglar during the driver parade! But ALL OF THE VENDOR beverages at the track come either in “Plastic or Paper”)

Yet this led me to “Wunder” if the caller’s logic added up or not? As I’ll agree that Champ Car has had an identity crisis since the current owners bought the sinking ship. Each season has seen a massive influx of new drivers as teams are forced to scramble for drivers who can provide a suitcase or two of dinero to go along with their seat fitting.

As Robin Miller notes, there’s NO Stability in Champ Car, making Fan loyalty an effort of perseverance. And it seems quite obvious that “The Split” has been hugely detrimental to the stock of Open Wheel racing. While I certainly hope that Champ Car will survive, I just don’t see how either side can fully recover without merging race series…

And I have nothing against temporary street circuits, as long as they’re done correctly and have some entertaining scenery to go along with them. As one of my favourite events was the Vancouver, BC Molson Indy race. Yet the city felt the need to displace this great event in favour of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

But I’m NOT in favour of Champ Car going 100% towards “Concrete Canyon” (Street circuits) vs. permanent road courses, as Champ Car sees this as a quick fix towards solving attendance problems. Although I realize that a profit does need to be made, but if you “Build a great product, then Fans should come…”

And as David Phillips has recently “penned,” there’s much to be said for low key, medium attendance permanent road course facilities, as these tend to be sought out by the true enthusiasts! Of course part of the appeal of CART was its diversity of race venues.

So, while the Open Wheel community fights to find its true identity, perhaps RASSCAR’s rowdy Tag-Team behavior will actually wound the 800lb Gorilla? Then again isn’t Nextel Cup supposed to be a “Squeaky Clean” Family Affair. Perhaps, just perhaps some of the “Shine” will rub off of RASSCAR and Open Wheel racing will make a slight resurgence…

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Dolling Up “Monnaquoe”


Current news abounds over Formula 1’s architect Herman Tilke’s recent visit to Delhi to envision India’s potential Grand Prix circuit. While plans have already been unveiled for Singapore with Valencia also hoping for a seaside event.

And with all of the current “hype” over Formula 1’s future makeover towards glitzy waterfront street circuits… Monaco is looking for ways to keep itself in the media spotlight.

You may recall previous full blown media blitzes involving various moguls of the film industry, as Hollywood uses F1’s crown jewel to pitch its latest products.

In the past Jaguar ironically ran with Terminator T3 logo’s plastered on its flanks as well as having Mr. Terminator “AWNIE” stalking the paddock. While my personal favourite was when Mr. Ecclestone unleashed his “Storm Troopers” on the principality, while busily trying to untangle himself from Princess Lea’s hairdo...

Then again there was the dubious diamond “heist” performed by the struggling Jaguar team. You may recall that the nose of their chassis was diamond encrusted and the diamonds were “lost” when it shunted into a wall. This farcical Hollywood script was part of the Oceans 11 weekend promotion.

Now comes word that Spyker is on the verge of signing up Paris Hilton for the upcoming Monte Carlo weekend as spokesperson for the newest “bubbly.”

Don’t tell Kimi, eh? As he may become distracted... Yet you have to admire a Formula 1 driver walking away from his stricken McLaren, picking the largest yacht in the harbour and watching the rest of the race shipside while indulging in a glass or two of mineral spirits…

To counter Spyker’s media darling, along with telling the Dutch squad to go FUCK yourselves… Gerhard Berger has instructed the Toro Rosso mechanics to donn Jessica Simpson wigs for the entire weekend…

And while Renault will be busily trying to improve its on track performance, team boss Flavio Briatore may be a bit distracted. You see, also joining the festivities will be Flavour Flav’s former strumpets Naomi, Nicole, Elle, Christie, etc. Which means that the cat fighting may be better than the Grand Prix itself?

Now all we need is for Tom Cruise to show up as the Grand Marshall…

Prodrive’s McLaren?

And in a further sign of watering down Formula 1, comes speculation that David Richards will simply purchase a “turn-key” F1 chassis from McLaren for Prodrive’s entry into Formula 1 in 2008.

Does this mean future Aston Martin’s will be propelled by MB power units? Or will Richards become the McLaren road car producer? Better look out AMG…

This comes on the heels of Bernie Ecclestone’s “Whipping Boy” and FIA President Max Mosely’s repeated urgings for customer cars in Formula 1. And I assume that this will indeed occur for next season, yet I find it denigrating to the sport of Grand Prix racing…

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Bernie bags Turkey

Ah, it must be nice to be the emperor of Formula 1, reach into your pocket, pull out $2.5 million and buy off a race track! This appears to be exactly what Bernie Ecclestone has done in acquiring the rights/ownership to the Istanbul Park circuit.

Recently during the (Final) MotoGP round held in Istanbul, Bernie announce his taking control of the venue’s management and securing a Turkish Grand Prix thru 2021. As for the afore mentioned dinero, you may recall the major foopah that occurred on the winner’s rostrum last year?

The Turkish motorsports club running the Grand Prix had major egg on its face and was facing insolvency over punitive fines levied against them by the FIA. Yet it appears that Ecclestone has paid the fine in order to keep Formula 1 in Turkey for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile Messer Ecclestone is busy plotting how to further
line his pockets by derailing the rival A1 GP series. Bernie “The Muppet” is busy scheming over starting an Asian GP2 series. This winter series would be used to promote aspiring drivers in Bernie’s newest region of Motorsports, as well as hopefully poaching teams from the A1 GP…

And while Ecclestone is busy plotting his new Asian racing venture, comes word that senior RASSCAR executives )Henchmen) have just completed a one week “fact finding” mission in China, perhaps Messer Ecclestone will wish to launch his own rival Saloon Car series in order to poach away rival Speed Car teams?

Hey, I know! He could get Tom Walkinshaw to be his whipping boy of the new “Bernie-Car” series, since I’m positive Ecclestone will fill the need (for Speed) for a superior racing series.

Just think of the possibilities of an international Bernie-Car V8 championship, with all of those V8 powered Super Cars out there… Perhaps they could borrow MAC Montoya and have him spin out competitor’s on his way to the checkered flag!

Of course one can only wonder if the news of Turkey pulling the plug on its MotoGP event is part of Bernie’s takeover…

Toyota becomes Number 1 (Off Track)

With first quarter sales numbers in, Toyota Motor Corp. has finally vaulted past General Motors as the Number One producer of automobiles.

Meanwhile in Colone, Toyota’s beleaguered F1 operation has announced that current Formula 1 team boss Tsutomu Tomita will step down in June and return to Japan for new duties…