Tuesday, April 22, 2008

So Long Champ Car

I wanted to wait until the LBGP and post a little something about the event before ending this blog. But what's to say? The race was only special in that it is the Champ Car opening and only event of the 2008 season. And so it is also the very last Champ Car Race forever.

I've seen a few racing series collapse over the years, IMSA and CanAm are two which come immediately to mind but none was harder to reconcile in my mind than Champ Car.

So as this BLOG represents everything Champ Car it too must come to an end.

Because there are a few posts here that continue to get a lot of hits, particularly the Ethanol vs Methanol post, I plan to leave the blog up for as long as Google allows.

Thanks to all of the readers!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

IRL CCWS Amalgamation Headed for Failure?

In my last post I suggested that TG now has half of what he needs to take open wheel racing to a new level and hopefully save it from oblivion. The half I referred to was my notion that OWR requires a single leader if it is to survive. The other half is strength, that leader must be strong and dictator like in order to grow the business.

After watching the Speed TV interview last Sunday TG's response to Robin Miller’s question, - would he now become a full time manager and get out of the team ownership business and conduct the business like Bernie E does in F1, - I began to realize that my prediction of failure might be accurate. TG answered Robin’s question after some thought by saying basically no, me and my wife are team owners and we like what we are doing.

This attitude shows me that he has hardly, if even at all, recognized that strong leadership is a must for any business to succeed. This just seems incredible to me that he cannot recognize that his own IRL is on the brink of failure and that it desperately needs strong leadership.

At today’s press conference both he and KK were claiming that the amalgamation of the two series would begin to solve their issues of sponsorship and other problems that have faced the two series since 96. Although both admitted that it would take a lot of work and time get where they envisioned, this joining together would be was the best way to proceed to that end. I don’t disagree but it will require a strong leader and I don’t see that in TG.

Another thing I saw nearly absent during the press conference was the idea of best practices. When two companies join together one of the greatest things that happen is recognizing each others best practices. The only mention of that was Barnhart’s bit about bringing some of the safety folks onboard because CC had a recognizably superior group that the IRL could take advantage of. It was incredible to me that when asked this specific question TG deferred it Barnhart. The CEO had better know everything that goes on in the company and my impression is that TG is giving up to much responsibility to his underlings.

OWR in this country is a niche market, that market was split between two series until last Friday. Neither series has shown any signs of growth since the split in 96. It is my opinion that both series were on a death course which might have possibly been nearing the end. Now with the amalgamation of the two what will happen? Well it’s still a niche market, can it be made into market big enough to support OWR. Maybe, but that is a tall order, one that I have seen better leaders than TG fail at.

I can’t predict the future but I suggest that Open Wheel Racing fans prepare themselves for life without open wheel racing. It may not happen soon but if someone doesn’t figure out this leadership thing it is very likely to happen eventually.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

OWR Now One...... Will it Survive?

I’ve been waiting for the big announcement to post this. As I said in my last post I believed that open wheel racing in this country is dying. I offer as my first piece of physical evidence the collapse of Champ Car as announced today. Now we can all await the demise of what remains, time frame unknown but surely coming.

I believe that the ashes of Champ Car and the dwindling businesses formerly known as the IRL and the Indy 500 cannot be combined to make a series that will ever return to the “good old days”.

Furthermore the often referred to “good old days” may not have been quite what everyone seems to think they were. Many have said that if only there were some way to return to the 90’s when CART was at its peak then things would be good.

Let’s judge series on its financial merit only. I agree that it had a huge following in those days but if the company “CART” was to prosper it needed to grow and once you see how the company’s finances were managed I think you will see that things were not as you might have thought.

Let me offer as more evidence that things might never have been what they seemed to be, some information I gathered from the SEC EDGAR data base when I when looking for public information about CART.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a good amount of information about CART finances before they were public. I suppose they had to divulge that information as a part of going public. Seldom does one have a chance to see a balance sheet of a private company.

The numbers are rounded to the nearest major amount for presentation.

In 93, 94, 95 and 96 revenues are listed as 30, 25, 30 and 41 million dollars and expenses are listed as 30, 25, 30 and 42 million dollars. Two things stand out here, revenue for 96 was up 35% over 95, not a bad 1 year increase and 93, 94 and 95 were basically flat. But where is the profit, how does a company spend exactly what its top line is? The answer can be found in Dan Gurney’s white paper where talks about the teams sharing in the profit.

The founders of CART were some of the owners and the company was set up with certain favorable teams being franchise teams. Roger Penske, Pat Patrick, Jim Hall, Tyler Alexander, Bob Fletcher and Dan Gurney. I could be wrong about some of these names but it isn’t important who they were as much as what they did.

By now you’ve probably realized they distributed the profits among the franchise team owners. To the extent that net income for those same years was 272, 426, 800 and (300) thousand dollars. -Numbers in parentheses are negative.-

This doesn’t strike me a way to grow a business rather it seems more like communism.

Contrast this with the data for 98, 99 and 2000, 98 being the first year of the public company. Revenue for these three years was 63, 69, and 75 million dollars and expenses were 42, 44 and 59 million dollars. They actually had funds left over even though the blessed few still took from the pot the “let’s take what’s left over mentality’ seemed to be limited. The net income from those same years was 15, 19 and 15 million dollars. Not necessarily growth but not giving away the store to the blessed either.

There were still funds being shifted to the blessed but not the balance of earnings like in the early days when there was no public accounting. Gnassi, Penske, McCaw, Haas, Rahal and Horne all managed to own the company to the tune of about 800,000 shares each.

From 2001 on there are more parenthetical numbers on the balance sheet than not and of course it ended in bankruptcy after the 2003 season. Can you see now why the blessed left?

Sponsorship fees peaked in 2000 at 21 million and television receipts peaked in 2000 at 5.5 million, neither number excites me as being large for the time, especially TV.

These are just a few of the many examples of how a few ruined a good thing for the rest.

So how will the latest iteration of open wheel racing fair? Gurney had it right 30 years ago in his white paper when he said about the FOCA, they appointed Bernie Ecclestone as the chief of operations officer and negotiator and they made a solemn pledge to abide by his decisions 100 percent.

Perhaps it is presumptive to assume before the official announcement scheduled for later this week that TG will be the sole leader of the newest iteration but if he is he will have half of what he needs. The question to be answered is will he have the other half. And if turns out that the leadership is shared, well we all know how that works!

Time will tell.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Open Wheel Racing is Dying

As many of you who have read my columns over the years may remember I have never been a proponent of any form of joining together of the two series. It has been my opinion that the two operate as businesses and that one or the other would flourish and grow and the other would wither and die. The survivor would be strong and would pick up the pieces of what was left of the other and OWR would flourish as before - before the split that is.

I've always been a supporter of Champ Car and have openly hoped that they would be the growth winner, and have said so. Well, reality is suggesting that I have been wrong. Actually my entire premise that one would grow and one would wither is being proven wrong, at least the one would grow part. Neither side has grown, it can be easily argued that in recent years they have both continued to shrink.

Indy is showing its skeleton like an emaciated horse. The old pole day audiences are no longer there. They struggle to get 33 cars for the event. Race day reveals many aluminum fans. And this is the IRL's premier event. I suspect that the profit from this event and the brickyard 400 support the IRL.

At Champ Car things are no better. Although we can never know, I doubt if profit is a familiar term at the headquarters. The gang of three has failed to raise this phoenix from the ashes. They have wandered aimlessly through the meadow of OWR without consistency or direction and 2008 will show the results of that. Walker racing suggesting CCWS might not be the place to be in the future and considering to pulling one entry this season. Matos is foregoing the 2 million dollar prize he won in atlantics and will return to Indy Pro. The TV schedule is in shambles with tape delays and 1 hour summaries. Tony Cotman is reported to be leaving. These are not growth examples these are withering examples.

So where are the sponsors, neither side is able to land enough sponsors to support their series. Neither side has a series sponsor. The IRL appears to have an edge on CCWS for recognizable sponsors and that is largely due to the Indy 500. The industry manufacturers are non-existent save for Honda and they are doubtful after 2009.

So what happens when one dies? Half of open wheel racing is gone. There will be very little for the other to salvage. It wouldn't help much if there was because after 11 years of negative growth there isn't much left on either side to work with and I doubt the remaining one will be able to save themselves.

I would love to hear what the old Cart guys say when they first see the weeds growing up through the cracks in the track at Indy a few years after the implosion!

Yes, I think open wheel racing is doomed. Damn you Tony George!

Monday, December 31, 2007

Mario Doesn't Work Here Anymore

From the archives: 4-20-05

Old but still applicabale as Mario continues to try and convince us that he has all of the answers!

I never thought I would ever say this but it time for Mario, yes Mario Andretti to take a vacation. Time to quit meddling in the IRL/CCWS controversy. Time to leave the racing business to them. One of the greatest racing drivers ever should leave the new business of racing alone and let open wheel racing evolve as it will.

I had the opportunity to listen to Mario twice, both times at Road America, and each time I came away thinking, boy Mario has an opinion about everything. Both times he dominated conversation to the obvious dismay of the other panelists.

Yes he saved the 2003 Road America event………or did he, now I wonder. Mario is becoming a lot of hot air.

Mario go make wine or something or if you really want to become involved dust of the old wallet and buy your right to interfere.

We still love you …….for now!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hey Champ Car, What is the Mission?

This isn’t the first time I have asked this question. What exactly is the CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES mission? I’ll bet if you asked a dozen fans you’d get a dozen different answers, same is likely true of a dozen CCWS employees. It is unthinkable that CCWS employees wouldn’t know what the company is trying to accomplish.

So for 2008 I will once again lay out what I think should be the next (should have been the first) step for the business of CCWS. You cannot start to fix something if you cannot identify the problem. It is my opinion that CCWS is broken and surely has been since the CART bankruptcy. Since the three amigos raised this Phoenix from the ashes the single biggest disappointment to me has been inconsistency. As far as I can see they have not been able to describe what it is they are trying to accomplish.

This is why I ask, what’s the mission? If a business is to be successful it must have a mission, something everyone in the company can grasp and work towards. A simple mission statement can achieve this and more. The Best Care in the Air, my favorite mission statement which just happens to come from favorite airline is simply perfect. It easily fits on the back of a business card and describes what the company is trying to achieve. How could anyone in that company get it wrong?

Simply put if you don’t have a stated mission how can you ever expect to achieve it? And to me Champ Car feels like a company without a mission.

A mission statement can become the most important sentence a company will ever pen. Every business decision must be tested by the mission statement as to relevance. If some department manager is trying to run his own agenda you will soon know, when his decisions are put to the test. Every budget, every hire, every fire, even salaries must meet the relevancy test. When this is done from the top down you will then have an organization in which every employee is working towards a common goal.

So who is responsible for developing the mission statement? The man in charge who every that is, it is ultimately his responsibility. I would think the owners of the business would drive this issue and make sure that their subordinates live by it.

All departments in the company can have mission statements and they should dovetail nicely into each other and the company mission statement. This can even make planning easier by separating the must haves from the discretionary.

All employees should have written goals and objectives that will all fit together as one and drive the company mission. They would be developed from the top down so that there is no doubt about the reason for having them. When I read the lowest level employees G’s and O’s I should be able to then read his managers and see how they are intertwined and so on up to the top.
A tightly organized company like this is more likely to be successful than a loosely organized one like I see in CCWS.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

PT vs Forsythe Pettit

Just when it starts to "feel good" we get this!

Quote from Vivian Tracy - PTs Mom - who occasionaly posts on the Champcar Fanatics forum.

Here's the heart of the matter from a real "insider".

PT has a binding four year contract with Forsythe Racing, with no "out" clauses and no "performance" clauses on either side, and with both parties committed to the contract until the end of the four years.

As far as PT is concerned, he is prepared to honour his commitment to this contract. He is not sure FCR has the same aspirations.Where this will end up no one knows, but if PT gets released from Champ Car, he will continue to race somewhere, be it IRL, ALMS, NASCAR wherever, as this is what he does .

Second post after many were claiming this to be a rumor started by rumor mongers...........

Quoting PTs Mom:

Believe me, these are no idle rumours. I started this thread at the request of PT. The original draft was a lot longer and a whole lot more bitter. However we decided to tone it down so as not to burn bridges, As anyone can imagine, PT is pretty steamed about the whole affair, feeling badly betrayed after his loyalty to the series through thick and thin .


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Future of Champ Car and the IRL

May just depend on a very few!

What if Penske, Gnassi and Newman Hass Lannigan all decided to fold their OW tents.

Why didn't I name Andretti in this lot?.................you know why.

Think about it, it's not as unlikely as you might imagine.

Monday, November 05, 2007

2008 Schedule Confirmed

April 20 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Long Beach, California
April 27 Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston at JAGFlo Speedway, Houston, Texas
May 18 Champ Car Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, California
June 1 Champ Car Belgium at Circuit Zolder, Zolder, Belgium
June 8 Champ Car Spain at Circuito Permanente de Jerez, Jerez, Spain
June 22 Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio
June 29 Champ Car Mont-Tremblant, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
July 6 Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
July 20 Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
July 27 Champ Car Portland, Portland, Oregon
August 10 Road America Grand Prix, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
September 14 Champ Car Holland at the TT Circuit Assen, Assen, Holland
October 26 Gold Coast Indy 300, Surfers Paradise, Australia
November 9 Gran Premio Tecate Presentado por Banamex, Mexico City, Mexico

Champ Car 2008 Schedule ?

Rumor or fact?

Perhaps we will know for sure this week!

Source ESPN

INDIANAPOLIS - The Champ Car World Series is expected to release a 2008 season schedule Monday 11/5 that includes the formula's first ever event in Spain. However, absent from the 14-race slate is the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which debuted to mixed reviews in 2007. Las Vegas and the stillborn Phoenix Grand Prix (the intended 2007 season finale) were promoted by a group that included Arizona Diamondbacks co-owner Dale Jensen. The 2008 Champ Car schedule is broadly similar to this year's 14-race line-up with a couple of key exceptions.

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach kicks off the season April 20, followed by the Grand Prix of Houston, the first of three twin bills with the American Le Mans Series.

Only one race is scheduled in May (at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on the 18th), leaving the slim chance some Champ Car teams could enter the IRL Indianapolis 500. The series will then leave the country for June races at Zolder, Belgium and Jerez, a 2.752-mile road course in southern Spain that hosted the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix from 1986 to 1990.

The rest of the summer is business as usual for Champ Car, aside from a date change for the race at Portland International Raceway to late July. A trio of Canadian dates remain intact, and the series returns to Europe in September for a reprise of the popular race at Assen, Netherlands. A fourth European race could be twinned with Assen with FIA approval.

Long gaps in the schedule remain in the latter part of the season, with only four races currently scheduled between August 10 and November 9, when the championship will again come to a close in Mexico City.

Champ Car's Atlantic Championship development series is set for growth, with an expected return to the historic Trois-Rivieres street circuit in Quebec and a new venue for the championship finale -- Utah's Miller Motorsport Park. Out: Las Vegas, Phoenix, Zhuhai In: Laguna Seca, Jerez (Spain) Still in question: 4th European race. (British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch Or Donnington.)Champcar Atlantics new races at Troi Rivieres and Miller Motorsports Park.

Monday, October 29, 2007

México, Finalmente

México ascendente siguiente, que ganará, que se estrellará, que cuida! CCWS finalmente va a terminar esta estación pathetic y a conseguir encendido con procurar tener una estación 2008.

CCWS consiguen su acto juntos!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

CCWS 07 Good Bad Ugly - You Decide

Here are SOME of the high/low lights of 07. You categorize them.

KK cavorting with penguins.
GF cavorting……..somewhere since the Houston event.
Turmoil in the front office?
Steve Johnson’s duties adjusted, Tony Cotman assumes day to day responsibilities.
New car introduced and successfully debugged.
Two teams merged, resulting in 1 car less than before the merger.
Only 17 cars show up on race day.
3 races cancelled - Phoenix China Denver.
Attendance down Edmonton up at Cleveland.
Overall attendance up - down?
Las Vegas success questionable.
Las Vegas in question for 08.
CCWS rumored to be in negotiations to buy Vegas.
Musical drivers continues.
Pay for ride continues
Teams continue to struggle for sponsors.
Schedule for 08 not finalized.
Fan base growing or getting smaller.
De-credentialed Robin Miller - 1 less to write about CCWS.
Where are the sponsors SJ has been working on.
CDW rumored to be out.
New venues for 08.
08 schedule rumored to have only has 5 US races.
Two more Europe events rumored for 08.
One less street race in 08 San Jose gone.
Portland gone for 08 – one less road course.
Laguna Seca back for 08.
Team owners rumored to be questioning the direction of CCWS.
Rusoport call it quits.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Another Race this Year

Anyone else heard the rumor, there's another race this year. In Australia yet! Holy cow I've forgotten the drivers names from the last race. I'm told it won't matter some teams have new ones!

Friday, September 28, 2007

CDW Leaving Rusport

So sez Mr. Rumor --------Yikes!

Champ Car Schedule in Two Weeks

So says SJ in a Mexican Paper interview, and everyone will be happy!

Hum, let's see if they hit this date - wonder what will make everyone happy?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Champ Car Planning to Invade Indy 500 in 08

Champ Car has been working on a plan to go to Indy in 2008. The plan involves a super team that will be made up of a sort of all star cast determined by 2007 performances of drivers and crews. The exact method of determining who would be selected to this all star team has not been released.

It is rumored that there could be a many as 2 cars entered in the 08 event but that it will likely be only 1 in 08 with the number expected to grow in 09.

The chassis will be purchased just as the current IRL teams do but the engine will be a reworked Cosworth based on the one supplied to the IRL teams before. Robert Clarke was heard to say YES finally some engine competition.

When asked if this was just a PR ploy officials said, hell no we plan to win – we need the money.

Champ Car hopes to make this “Win and go to Indy” an integral part of the series and hopes to eventually dominate the 500. They are hoping this will help them to reclaim their dominance in open wheel racing. They estimate the exposure will be worth millions in sponsorships to the Champ Car teams……… Then I heard the alarm clock ……ugh!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More Trumoil in Champ Car Schedule

Champ car has decided to abandon the San Jose Street race and return to Laguna Seca in 08. Event is rumored to be in mid May. Can anyone say Zoom Zoom? Is there a connection to the event and a possible engine badge deal?

The event will also feature the Grand Sham cars, like in Long Beach a couple years ago.

Hard to tell if we are coming or going isn't it?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

More Paper,,,,,,

Ok, as promised here's my take on what "Paper" was trying to say.

"First, the advesarial aspect of two entities who DO have the power to make the next step of Champcar extremely difficult are working. One is american, the other outside america. NEITHER involve TG."

The two entities are likely the FIA and NASCAR or the ISC. Apparently his contact has suggested they somehow interfered with the Phoenix operation causing it to fail. A second possibility is that financing dried up due to the current credit crunch. So Paper believes that CCWS should stand up and fight back.

Fight what, the way I see it if there was interference and it is believed to be tortious then they need to decide if they could win their claim in court and if so proceed. However it's possible they simply got out maneuvered by a competing business. If that the case then shame on them and let's hope they file it in lessons learned!

Now why is that? As weak as we may be we are on a precipice to reach a very substantial level as a series. WHY? we do something neat for less.

Not trying to put words in his sentences but I think if we substitute a word or two here we come up with what he intended to. So delete precipice and reword to include brink. Now I think it means that the series is about to become a force to be reckoned with.

Perhaps but only a seriously fanatical fan would think so, of course that would be how you would describe "PAPER",,,,,,,, and his patented commas,,,,,,

Herewith another post where he is defending his sources and his right to keep them confidential.

Quoted from Fanatics Forum:

I emailed in the morning when this was leaked on TF by someone in INDY. My response came when someone was not in a plane. I then asked if I could say whats up on our forum as it was goofy on others. So yeah I knew most of the day, this was only a half a day past the promoter bailing. I chose not to run here saying anything without permission. Some of what caused this is a banking industry situation that Im sure anyone reading the news will understand. When there are independent promoters contracted theres always a chance things can be interupted. The series and the most popular scapegoat in most frustrations took on nascar and the ISC earlier this year and won, this time by another avenue things got railroaded. The endless demands for me to spill every last detail to anonymous screen names ., some insulent , is never going to happen. I have no idea who some of you are, and then theres the very public viewing. Some things cant be shared until theres a feeling of trust. So shoot the messenger ,,Im used to it. Hopefully and its mandatory in my opinion there will be a group statement when all can sit together . Right now the main breifing is in the air on a 12 hr flight. For those who jump to thinking CC owners waited until everyone was out of the country.. You have pinned the tail on the wrong donkey. paper

A Champ Car Fan Named Paper,,,,,,


Originally Posted by paper
this may be merged, but Ive waited for a go ahead. The series WILL NOT be over or jeopardized by the Phoenix cancellation, It is in NO way a mess or foulup on series management. IT became out of all hands, JUST LIKE china. Now you can believe me or you can not. The most important thing that is upon us it two fold, I said TWO FOLD. First, the advesarial aspect of two entities who DO have the power to make the next step of Champcar extremely difficult are working. One is american, the other outside america. NEITHER involve TG. Take a breath there. Now why is that? As weak as we may be we are on a precipice to reach a very substantial level as a series. WHY? we do something neat for less. NOW , one can get behind this or freak out posting a bunch of bunk about who is at fault bla bla bla, and some yesterday crap. SECONDLY,, save your boos for IF and when our series leaders dont come out of the pouting spell and stand the **** up against this. IF they dont and soon, then boo, ITs gone on to long. Kevin,, Gerry, Dan, Paul,, kick ass and take no prisoners ,,,,,,, After all some of you are beyond ready. Mods.. please let this thought stand alone. Ive waited ALL day to post it. I needed permission. and CCF, lets endorse kicking ass of the assassins who seek our demise, not each other or anyone wearing our colors. If we dont, we fickin screwed. are you with that? Not are you with frickin "paper" are you with that? This has been a very frustrating day. make it better by getting behind this series. pat

This was posted by "Paper" on the fanatics forum, a frequent poster of everything good about Champ Car. This post set of a flurry of posts by the fanatics loyalists and others over the canaellation of the Phoenix event.

There are more different opinions about this than MONK has issues, ranging from CCWS immediate demise to everything is wonderful.

Many have criticized paper, a self procalimed fan with certain connections, for being cryptic.

What do you think he is saying here?

My guess later!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hey CC - Denver, China, Phoenix Three Strikes You’re Out………08?

Let’s hope not, however Champ Car just cannot seem to string much good news together these days.

Many are calling for Steve Johnson’s hide, blaming him for the latest news dump indicating that the Phoenix Grand Prix won’t happen. In today’s press release CC has stated that the Phoenix GP has been cancelled mostly due to a lack of interest of businesses in Phoenix and their failure to embrace the event with sponsorship.

The promoter of the Phoenix event, also the promoter of the LVGP, spent a reported 15 million on infrastructure to be used at both events an amortized over both. The Promoter is now saying that the decision to cancel Phoenix will not have any effect on the LVGP. Well if you believe that I have some – well you know the rest. I couldn’t disagree more, how in the world can a promoter expecting two events to provide economies of scale for a profit say that only one will continue and it will be OK.

If Vegas happens in 08 it could be the last time unless the promoter finds another event the restore the economies of scale he so badly needs to remain in the business. Look for the Vegas 08 rumors to start soon.

As for SJ, I didn’t like him as a pick when he was announced and here’s why. I have never met the man, never interviewed the man but one thing on his resume would have had me putting it on the bottom of all the rest of the applications, his propensity to change jobs! I don’t like someone that moves around job to job as much as he has. I believe strongly in the adage, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior”. And now we are told that SJ has not moved to the location of his job but has chosen to commute from, Kansas I think it is. That is a huge no no in my opinion.

In a company, large or small, private or public, the performance of the company is directly tied to the leader, the number one in charge. For CCWS that could be said to be Kevin, we can’t really be sure without being there but whomever it is they had better check in at the office before this thing gets away from them.

It’s going to get interesting!

PS How about communicating with us a little more!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Champ Car Indy 500 2008 Tony Cotman Holy Cow

The latest who ha over on the Fanatics Forum is a heated debate over the notion that CC might be interested once again in running the I 500. This latest debate was set off by Robin Miller on the latest Wind Tunnel program on Speed.

There Miller said that Tony Cotman had told him that he had dinner with TG and suggested that he would be trying to convince CC to keep the upcoming 2008 schedule open in May as well as convince the teams that they should try to run Indy. Also telling TG that this wasn’t going to be a charity deal, meaning that cc would pay their way.

So the disclaimer is, if there is one, he will be trying to convince basically everyone in CC. Good Luck TC.

CC Teams have difficulty obtaining sponsors and adding the money needed to run Indy to the mix could make it even more difficult. When I look at the field of sponsors in the IRL it just doesn’t add up. There are some big names and some little names. Big like 7-11, primarily a Japanese company, - wonder how that works? The NYSE, what is the NYSE doing sponsoring a team. The point is this league runs Indy and their sponsors aren’t exactly what could be expected so how in the hell is CC, whose sponsors are even less prominent going to get funding for Indy.

However perhaps CC should make the Indy a part of their schedule and here’s why. From a business stand point participating in Indy could in fact make the sponsor thing go a little easier. And IF the project is taken seriously and funded well it might be possible to dominate Indy. If that domination is grand enough it could change the way some think and who knows what happens after that.

How many and which CC teams go to Indy isn’t important, what is though, is that it’s the crème Del la crème. Maybe an all star team or two made up of the best we have! The object is to win and win convincingly. I believe this could lead to an eventual end to the stalemate in OWR.

So how does CC go about making this happen, hey don’t ask me I just blog. But I have some ideas. CC give me a call, I’ll fill you in!

Anybody care to guess what year a CC entry will participate again at Indy?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Doornbos Out Strategizes Field at San Jose

RD decided to use the latest in Champ Car race strategies and out witted the rest of the field to win the San Jose Grand Prix.

After crashing into a fellow competitor at the first turn of the first lap he went on to win the race thanks to the timing of a few well placed yellows and a new front wing. Sound familiar?

The new front wing must have had some magic in it as he eventually ended up being the class of the field in the last few laps.

Tracy’s dismal year continued when the he and the team missed the pit call for fuel and he ran out on the track. I see a big story coming from all this! By the way where is Gerry these days?

Bore – day’s point lead has shrunken to a manageable 10 points, perhaps Robert or Will can actually beat him, - but don’t count on it!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Bore-day regains points lead at Edmonton

HO HUM..................................................!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Champ Car vs Mother Nature

As evidenced in the latest crash fest Champ Car has the potential to be a more exciting series if only we would wet down the track at some point during the race. Perhaps we could provide a few fans located strategically around the course with garden hoses and radios so that race control could instruct them on when to use them.

Well of course this is nonsense but my how the chase has changed since Mother Nature has volunteered her services lately. My prophetic question in the Cleveland column when Bourdais DNF’d, ”Is there more to come” seems to have been answered in the affirmative.

With Bourdais out of first place, but certainly not out of the chase, the championship is only in question if Mother Nature continues to Rain on the Champ Car parade or if the fans get their hoses!

Bourdais claims to have been “taking it easy to avoid problems” but it looks to me like is a less skillful mudder than some of the other drivers. Is this a chink in is armor?

I still cannot give a good grade to the most recent effort for two reasons: The first lap shenanigans that put PT in the wall and the reckless abandon that some showed on the rain slickened track. The series must find a way to get race started with all cars running for at least one lap, I for one am not interested in the NASCAR like bump and crash racing.

Bourdais must have gone to anger management class last week; he didn’t seem upset with the take down that Doornbos scored that took him out of the race. So now I guess we will have to watch to see if the Wilson/Dalziel tangle will develop into something more exciting.

Coyne’s team might have had an even better day had Kat not been taken out in the PT incident, with Bruno finishing fifth. Both he and Kat had found something that must have had pit row buzzing when Bruno finished P1 and Kat P4 in the morning warm up. I was really looking forward to seeing how both would do in the race.

When I spoke of others trying alternates strategies in my Cleveland column it was tongue-in-cheek , hopefully Rahal didn’t take it seriously even though he did try to repeat Tracy’s three wing win as he went about creating a shortage of front wing spares in the NHL transporter.

All in all the race was OK, given there is now at least some hope that a championship race will be more than a single driver wide. Still, if the remainder of the events are dry look for the championship morph back into a one man show.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Doornbos Conquers The Mont

Rookie Robert Doornbos managed to out drive everyone at Champ Cars latest event in at the beautiful Mont Tremblant circuit Sunday. The Rookie notched his first Champ Car victory over a very unhappy 2nd place Champion Sebastian Bourdais with some excellent driving on a very slick rain soaked track. The race started on a dry track but ended wet.

Bourdais was livid when complaining about the blocking he was certain that Doornbos had done to him during the latter part of the race after the rain started. He was soundly booed by the crowd during the post race interview for his rant.

Bourdais reportedly said “If race control did not see it, OK. But Robert knows what he did. He told me after the race, ‘You’re going to see a lot of this in formula 1.’ And that’s just the point. This is not Formula 1. The rules here are very clear about blocking and we are all supposed to play by the rules. If the rules said we are allowed to block it would have never come to this because he would have never gotten past me in the first place.”

So did he or didn't he? A little controversy never hurts!

The start saw three cars stall on the grid, what was that all about? I thought the software geeks had that under control. Every software engineer I have every dealt with said they could write software that would fix anything. It will be interesting to see if these latest issues can actually be corrected in software!

Race time temps were not ideal either, could there be a connection to the stalled cars at the start? Temps reminded me of my days in Milwaukee where I kept a jacket in my car all year round because when the wind came of the lake in the summer it was very uncomfortable without a jacket. I don't know about the norms for the area but it would seem in July it should have been warmer.

Steve Johnson is reporting there were more than 42,ooo clicks recorded on his turnstile for the weekend and calling that a success. Well, OK I guess success is subjective at least for now. I sure the cash register content cannot be counted as successful after they do the count Monday morning. Wonder what the TV rating was?

Next up Toronto!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Paul Tracy's Unusal Formula a Winner

Paul Tracy utilized an admittedly unusual formula for taking home the victory at the Cleveland Grand Prix Sunday. Goes something like this: Crash + Replace front wing + Splash of fuel + Crash again + Replace front wing again + Another splash of fuel + resume race on lead lap at back with full tank = WIN.

Odd - yes but sometimes you just win in spite of yourself!

Then there's second, Doornbos was sent to to pit lane for a drive through an wound up second.

All of this makes me think that the others missed out on the perks of crashing and penalties. Perhaps Jani, who took third, could have won if he would have bolcked or something.

Still in all it was a good race filled with enough action that being correct on any early race predictions was going to be unlikely.

The start was super, I'm really liking this standing start thingy.

The crowd looked good from what I could see on TV.

Coverage was not up to my liking, in one case just as they came back from commercial I'm sure I saw a spin at the rear and never heard anything about it.

With Bourdais a DNF the points lead is tightened up, a sign of things to come????

Bring on the Mt.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Portland Good Portland Bad - Portland Gone?

Starting with the good, the standing start was awesome. Everyone got away, no one stalled and and turn one was clean. I say bring on the standing starts!!!!

Newman Hass (L) won their 100th race after a dismal weekend that saw Sebastian struggle in both practice and qualifying then go on to win.

No yellows the entire race but then Portland in known for a dearth of yellows, still it was nice to see everyone except Legge finished without fuss!

Rookie Doornbos on the podium again.

The ESPN/ABC coverage was really pretty good, at least an improvement over what we have seen in the recent past.

And the bad, how did Wilson give up such a big lead to lose this race........unbelievable.

Why did Kat spin and stall on the next to last lap?

Oh and the weather - yuk. Race day was without rain but the Saturday rain and Sunday rain prediction might have just scared off the race day crowd.

So how big was the crowd, I would be surprised if there were 20k for the race. Mucho empty seats!

Will the poor showing scare off any future promoters, have we seen the beginning of the end of CCWS at portland?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Would Champ Car’s Switch to E85 Be Green?

Before we can begin to answer that we have to define green, a term we hear a lot about in reference to preservation of the planet. It is sometimes used in reference the amount of man made CO2, which is often blamed for the current climate change with respect to global warming. There’s no doubt that CO2 is a green house gas and that it can cause the earth to warm. But how much is the subject of much debate depending on which side you take. Frankly I think the IPCC estimates are way off but that is another discussion. I’m for anything that will reduce the amount of pollutants we humans generate.

So for this discussion let’s determine the amount of CO2 produced by the fuels currently used and those that are proposed to be used by Champ Car.

If you don’t care to see the math or the method skip to the bottom for the results, you may be surprised!

Methanol – currently used by Champ Car.
E85 – 85% Ethanol 15% Octane (gasoline) proposed to be used.

When these fuels are burned the by product is carbon dioxide and water. For this discussion we will consider only a stoichiometric combustion.

First let’s determine the weight of a gallon of each of the fuels. I’ll use gallons and pounds here for the metrically challenged. If you search the internet for this information you will find many different answers so in order to be as accurate as possible I will use the information given in the handbook of Chemistry and Physics from CRC press.

Conversion factors
3.785 l/gallon
453.59 g/lb

Octane C8H18 density at 25degrees C = .6986 g/ml
Ethanol C2H6O density at 25C = .7873 g/ml
Methanol CH4O density at 25C = .7872 g/ml

When converted to grams per gallon:
Octane) = 2644.201 g/gal
Ethanol) = 2979.9305 g/gal
Methanol) = 2979.5520 g /gal

Divide grams per gallon by 453.59 to get pounds per gallon
Octane) 2644.201/453.59 = 5.829 lbs/gal
Ethanol) 2979.9305/453.59 = 6.5696 lbs/gal
Methanol) 2979.5520/453.59 = 6.5688 lbs/gal

Next find ratio of CO2 molecule mass to fuel molecule mass.
Hydrogen = 1
Carbon = 12
Oxygen = 16

Carbon Dioxide [C = 12 and 2O’s = 32] 12 + 32 = 44
Octane C8H18 [C8 (8X12) = 96 [H18 (18X1) = 18] 96 +18 = 114
Using the same process for Ethanol and Methanol gives:
Ethanol = 46
Methanol = 32

To find out how many CO2 molecules are produced from each fuel simply count the carbon atoms in one molecule of each fuel.
Octane = 8 for a total mass of 8 X 44 = 352
Ethanol = 2 for a total mass of 2 X 44 = 88
Methanol = 1 for a total mass of 1 X 44 = 44

So the ratio of CO2 molecule mass to fuel molecule mass is:

Octane = 352/114 = 3.0877
Ethanol = 88/46 = 1.913
Methanol = 44/32 = 1.375

We're almost there, multiply these ratios by the weight per gallon of each fuel to see how many pounds of CO2 each one produces when combusted.

Octane - 5.829 X 3.0877 = 17.998 lbs CO2/gal
Ethanol - 6.5696 X 1.913 = 12.567 lbs CO2/gal
Methanol - 6.5688 X 1.375 = 9.058 lbs CO2/gal

To find CO2 in lbs/gal for E85 find the sum of .85 X 12.567 and .15 X 17.998
E85 produces 13.380 lbs of CO2 for each gallon combusted, Over 4 lbs more than Methanol.

There you have it, by our standard E85 is not green………….but if CCWS decides to use it a big oil company might pony up a different kind of green as a series sponsor! Like I said first you have to define green.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Champ Car Going to E85 in 2008?

From Gordon Kirby’s – The Way It Is -

[Forsythe laid the groundwork by commissioning Cosworth to conduct a technical review of what's required to switch to ethanol. "I made the investment on my own in research and testing to show them what the facts are," he commented. "It cost me $350,000 with Cosworth and they did the due diligence on running the engine on ethanol. They did some dyno testing to see if their theories worked."

Cosworth's chief engineer Bruce Wood designed the XD turbo V-8 and oversees the XF series Champ Car engines. Wood documented the work Cosworth did in researching a switch to ethanol. "The biggest thing we felt might be an issue were the cooling circuits because ethanol doesn't have the same latent heat vaporization as methanol so it doesn't cool things down as much when you evaporate ethanol," Wood explained. "So we spent some time looking at the cooling circuits to establish that they were going to be big enough. Somewhat to our surprise, that turned out not really to be a big problem, although our testing was finally cut short by an overheated exhaust valve seat.

"We put a different piston in to be more comfortable with the characterstics of ethanol and the increased the boost was needed to recover the power loss with E85. That was really the bulk of the changes, as well as re-mapping the fuel system and introducing a different injector spray pattern. But essentially, it was not a huge amount of work."

Cosworth ran an ethanol-fueled XFE engine on the dyno for 980 miles before the valve seat problem. "We were aiming to run 1,400 miles," Wood commented. "Although we fell short of this, we were fairly comfortable we could fix the seat issue and make the engine completely robust at 1,400 miles.]

I believe Gerry is correct when he says E85 will dominate the future. So it makes sense for CC to change to E85 as their fuel. Perhaps some big oil might eventually pony up a major sponsorship.

I would hope that CC doesn’t try promoting a change as a “Green” thing, leave that to the politicians.

Will it happen, who knows, I think it makes sense!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Anne Proffit Journalist - Say What?

Anne my dear, a journalist at Paddock Talk.com, who’s drinking the kool-aid?

Your latest rant about the lack of Kalkhoven’s willingness to “pony up”, pun not intended, to have some of the CCWS drivers entered into this years Indy certainly reveals your lack of understanding about the business of racing.

Oh sure there would be benefits to both series if some of the CCWS boys were circling the big rectangular oval called Indy come race day this year. But at what price? You seemed to think that KK’s offer to bring some talent to the race was………well here’s the [quote]…… “Horse pucky, Kevin, my man! Why on earth should Tony give you engines when he doesn’t do that for his regular followers? (And if he does assist Indy entrants, that’s his business.)”

I disagree with Kevin too but for quite the opposite reason, I say let Indy be what Indy will be. Grow your own business and mind your own business.

My, my how things are changing. It was only a few months ago when your boss was advocating that CCWS should just ignore the IRL and get on with their business and now you are allowed to post this strange rant on the state of the split.

Let me remind you the source of the OWR problem was TG’s idea to spilt. Nothing changes that no matter how sick of it you have become. When and until you accept that and direct your ire towards him you will forever be wrong in your criticism of CCWS for not participating at INDY.

[Quote] …. “That's just my opinion; I could be wrong, but I have to admit I've grown tired of IMS and IRL being brow-beaten by Kalkhoven and his predecessors just to keep the Champ Car series in the papers in May. Countless others have paid their own way to race in the May Classic on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.5-mile oval.] “

You said it Anne and I agree completely…………….You are wrong, get over it!

In case anyone would like to read the entire article.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Houston Grand Prix

Let me hear a big ho hum for the winner Bourdais and the NHL crew. Bourdais had everybody covered again with more speed than he really needed. Where oh where does that speed come from? Is NHL that good? Is it a combination?

Actually the real winner may have been young Rahal. The youngster took second behind his team mate Bourdais. This was only his second race in not counting the first which ended in a first turn crash. Perhaps he can beat Bourdais some day.

The crowd appeared to be good. The main grandstand appeared 80-90% full.

The TV coverage was reasonable. Did see a commercial for the upcoming IRL race though. Couldn’t help but wonder how that all works. If CCWS paid for the TV time would that be like paying for the IRL commercial? Did the IRL pay to advertise during the CCWS race? Did ESPN self promote the upcoming IRL race? Just seemed odd!

State of the series is still difficult to determine. Kate’s car still has no primary sponsor and some others may change or be dropped before Portland. Perhaps it won’t all be clear until 2008 or beyond.

Ok everyone it’s break time, plenty of time to rest up and track the rumors before Portland.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Long Beach Grand Prix Alive and Well

From my observations I would have to say the LBGP is very much alive and well. As I walked about Sunday the crowd seemed much bigger than any time in the last 4 years. Getting around required some patience because of the number of people. The stands, for the Champ Car race, I estimate were about 90-95% filled.

All of this bodes well for Champ Car, the owners of the LBGP, especially considering that they have to take in at least what they would normally receive as a sanctioning fee a before making any profit.

I wonder how the sanctioning fee’s are paid for the other series that are at the event. The Speed GT and ALMS.

The number of vendors and exhibits was up from years past. There was little doubt that the practice of charging the vendors handsomely for the right to do business at the event was I full force when I paid $10.00 for the burger and fries I had for lunch.

Another indication that the event is growing was the price of parking. Four yeas ago the little out of the way spot where I parked was 5.00 for the event…….and not far from the gate either. Last year it was $10.00, this year it was $20.00. I drove past when I saw that wondering where to park and found a garage on the next corner for $15.00 and it was even closer to the gate! I’ll bet you that next year that garage will be $20.00!

The Minardi two seaters were popular even with their $10,000 per ride price tag. Some how though I have trouble reconciling having F1 ride at the champ car event. No doubt there’s some politics involved.

As for the main event, looks like Newman Hass Lannigan have worked out their issues with the car. Bourdais easily had the rest of the field covered. So much so that the only thing I watched for was who was going to pass who on the restarts.

As for the state of the series, it’s still a head scratcher. All of the entries except Katherine Legge had side pod sponsorship. Still better than last year if it’s true the subsidy spigot is turned off, something I don’t necessarily believe given that Legge is driving for Coyne and Forsythe is selling rides.

I believe that the grid will have to grow, even if only one car, before the end of this season if the health of the series is to improve for the 08 season.

We badly need 20 starters with solid sponsorship for 08.

Watch for more big changes!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Las Vegas Grand Prix - Good and Bad

Well, the opener is over and not surprisingly the winner was not Bourdais. Many preseason observers opined that this year might yield a more level playing field given the new car and all that entails.

And so it did with Will Power winning and outpacing the field most of the weekend. Add that with a couple of rookies in the top five, Doornbos 2nd, Gommendy 5th, and we may have set the stage for some exciting racing the likes of which we haven’t seen for a long time.

It’s only the first race of the season and I’m sure that the old guard isn’t going to let the new guys run away with the Championship.

The problem with fueling will be solved which had it not existed, the outcome of this race might have been different.

As for the attendance it would be hard to estimate, from where I sat it looked like grandstand 1 was about 60 to 70 percent full. I would expect that not to be enough to give the promoter a profit. One of the two pit suites was filled but the other was nearly empty.

There was not lack of promotion as I saw many commercials on television and much signage throughout the city. The TV stations eagerly reported on the activities but disappointingly referred to it as the Las Vegas Grand Prix leaving out any references to Champ Car for the most part.

The track seemed to draw praise form the participants but access for the fan was limited. The view from GS1 was too narrow.

The paddocks were inside some very large and unique structures used by the World Market Center as exhibition centers. Oh yes they were air conditioned. Access was great but not fan friendly. The transporters were parked such that the work areas were the length of the transporters away where we had access making picture taking difficult for the average camera owner.

The pits were not accessible except during specified times when only a walk through was allowed. If you have ever been to Road America you would say there is no comparison. Extremely disappointing to me!

There were many volunteers stationed throughout the event doing their usual wonderful jobs. Every one saw I thanked for being there and helping. BOO-YA to all the volunteers!

What’s the state of the series? Well all the cars had some sponsorship on them. There were seventeen starters. If it’s true they are not on welfare then I am encouraged for the future. What does the future hold? The picture will become clearer in 08!