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Posted on November 7, 2014 Comments (0)

F1

COTA track diagram

If ever there was an argument for road courses over street sources, the US grand Prix at COTA (Circuit of the Americas) made it. Here, in a race where the finishes of the first two cars was pretty much determined in qualifying, an entertaining race took place largely due to the race track on which it was held. The two Mercedes are not identical in set up and Hamilton made the right setting decisions and Rosberg did not. Bravo Hamilton. Behind the two of them, some fantastic scraps took place, the likes of which we haven’t seen in many moons. Ricciardo cleverly drove the fifth best car to third place and the Williams cars both finished ahead of the top Ferraris of Alonso in 6th and Raikkonen in 13th.

Lewis Hamilton COTA Voctor

But it was the track that was the star. It is the most interesting F1 track on the circuit and we predict, where Spa has held that unofficial title for decades, given not too much more time, COTA will be just as highly regarded. Why? Well, for one thing it is wide enough to encourage three abreast driving and for the same reason makes blocking difficult. The straights are long enough to allow trimming and tuning for high speeds and that hurts grip in the twisty bits. And, most important, it rewards aggressive driving and good set-up decisions. Strictly from a spectator’s viewpoint, this may have been the best race of the year. Bravo COTA!

Lewis Parc Ferme COTA

Noteworthy

Sergio Perez Force India

“The Force India driver (Sergio Perez) was involved in a collision on Lap 2 at the Circuit of the Americas that forced him and Adrian Sutil into retirement.” He ruined both their days and was penalized by the stewards. In questioning immediately after the incident, Sutil, was asked if he was going to go over to the Force India pit and confront Perez. No, he said that he expected Sergio to come to him. With an apology? He was asked. Well, at least an explanation, he said. (Read NASCAR below for comparison.)

Adrian Sutil COTA

Caterham and Marussia, who both missed the race, were hardly missed on TV because they are so uncompetitive that they are rarely seen on TV anyway unless someone who is really racing is passing them. Proving F1 doesn’t need a full grid to be entertaining, it needs competitive cars.

Ferrari Factory

Fiat announced that they will sell Ferrari. From an F1 viewpoint, an independent Ferrari company can only afford to compete in F1 if they are winning. The Manufacturers Championship purse is huge. The winners share can finance the F1 racing program with some left over. A future independent Ferrari could not afford to race in F1 if they finish fourth, as they will this year. And some argue, with reason, that F1 without Ferrari has a huge problem.

NASCAR: Another Battle in Texas

Ferrari Factory

Hollywood has set an absurdly high standard for how fist-fighting should look! The staged fistfights in early cowboy movies were humorous by today’s standards. Good guys and villains absorbed haymakers that should have disfigured them for life, yet never lost their hats. Let alone a tooth. Current movie fights are more graphic but equally unreal. In the real life NASCAR fight we featured last week, tough looking Cale Yarborough actually hit Allison with his helmet, not his fists. It’s not up to Hollywood standards but it is far smarter. Head bones are thicker than hand bones.

Jeff Gordon

Sunday’s brawl after the Texas 500 race involved gentleman Jeff Gordon, annoying but talented Brad Keselowski and the proud inheritor of Dale Sr’s less admirable traits, Kevin Harvick. Gordon knows better and Harvick hit Keselowski in the back. But again, lots of hugging but no real punches thrown. And the film shows that Gordon had every right to be disappointed but no more than that. He gave Keselowski an opening and the kid took it. For his troubles, Keselowski got his face scuffed a little but he probably won thousands of fans that Gordon and Harvick lost. Next week’s second to last race in Phoenix will determine which four drivers will be eligible to win the Championship in the final race at Homestead. This is turning out to be a lot of fun.

Kevin Harvock


 Michael Furman image is a 1938 Horch 853A from his book Automotive Jewelry, Volume One

Our Michael Furman image this week is a 1938 Horch 853A from his book Automotive Jewelry, Volume One.


Artist Chris Osborne painting of the driving legend John Fitch and his Fitch Phoenix.

Talented artist Chris Osborne sent us this image of a recently completed painting of the driving legend John Fitch and his Fitch Phoenix. I think you will agree that Chris has captured the essence of both.


The next chapter of Marshall Buck’s story about building a model of a Ferrari 250 SWB is now available.

In My Word:Tread Lightly, Denise McCluggage suggested that readers may want to join her on a Tin Cup Trek. Several of you have mentioned an interest to me. If you keep in touch with Denise, we will keep everyone updated on progress.

This weekend the F1 circus goes to Brazil and, as mentioned, NASCAR is at Phoenix. Please share us with your friends and have a great weekend!

Peter Bourassa


Racing

Posted on August 13, 2014 Comments (2)

There is an argument to be made that racing is all about the first and last three laps of any race and that the remainder is just driving. Sometimes, even hardcore enthusiasts will agree, it is not even that.

Watkins Glen International

NASCAR’s annual pilgrimage to upstate New York’s Watkins Glen is the exception. Perhaps because it is so different from the ovals on which they normally run, each team deals with unfamiliar factors differently. Set-up, brakes, transmissions, tire pressures, tire wear, fuel consumption, and sometimes drivers, are all different. And if the quality of the racing is measured by its entertainment factor, take away the hype of Indy and Daytona, the glamour of Monaco and the technology of Le Mans, and this is the best pure race on the planet.

And lest any feel that the driving is only the best of NASCAR, consider that while experienced road course racers are always brought in, Jeff Gordon has won four times, as has Tony Stewart, Mark Martin three, and Kyle Busch has won it twice. My point is that these guys are very good and the cars they are racing allow them to lean on or rub against each other and that makes for an excellent show.

dtm racing alfa

Just to give this a broader perspective, we tend to think of European racing as Formula 1 and the Le Mans fast plastic prototype cars. But, Europeans have a huge appetite for “touring” car racing, as they call it, and several series exist in which factory prepared cars rub against each other rather strenuously on road courses across Europe. It is not rare to find former F1 drivers out there banging around with the best of them. The Australian V8 Supercar series is a cross between NASCAR and Europe and from time to time we hear of them testing the waters with their series on American road courses. If they could be like the Watkins Glen event they would be successful.

Joey Hand race car

Speaking of Tony Stewart; the incident at Canandaigua on Friday night will not go away quickly and may have much greater consequences than ever imagined. At this point, commenting on the incident itself is not in order. It is fair to say that if the other driver involved had not been a famous NASCAR driver, this would not have garnered so much attention. But either way, a young man is dead and that in itself is extremely sad.

Sprint Cars Dirt Track Racing

By way of background, it should be noted that Stewart is but one of many NASCAR drivers who dirt track. They do it because that is often where they began racing and because it is fun. Dirt tracks are simple and devoid of the regulations and hoopla that surrounds other forms of racing and these guys love that. I was at a small track on a weeknight in Connecticut several years ago and Carl Edwards, a NASCAR star even then, flew himself in to drive someone else’s Super Modified car. Al Unser Sr. was there talking to the racers and fans and wandering among the cars. This is grassroots racing in America and nobody, promoters, track owners, or drivers make a ton of money at it.

An unanticipated consequence of the incident has already begun to surface and here Stewart, the driver who loves dirt tracking, may be instrumental in bringing about safety measures and track design changes that will greatly alter the sport he loves. Ironically, Stewart is also the owner of Eldora Speedway, one of the more fabled dirt tracks in America; close scrutiny of the sport brought on by this issue may well affect how his and other such tracks deal with safety and emergencies.

Either way, these incidents give an uninformed public a less than positive view of our sport as a whole.