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!