Like most American kids that grew up in the 80's I watched the Indy 500 every year and became interested in motorsports thanks to that race, but I didn't really get hooked until I started watching Formula 1 racing in the late 90's. My favorite era were those years with the great Mika Hakkinen/Michael Schumacher battles. (I was a Mika Hakkinen fan) So my fondness for Formula 1 waned once Mika retired and Schumacher started winning everything, even at the expense of his teammate Rubens Barrichello. My interest in F1 has only been lukewarm since.

Then I turned to Champ Car racing here in the US for my motorsports fix. However that was quickly extinguished once Champ Car and Indy Car merged and we were stuck with Tony George and his many foibles. (It was entertaining to watch the Hulman/George drama I'll admit.) My interest has been less than lukewarm with Indy Car lately, even without Tony George at the helm.

Over time however, the excitement I once had for motorsports has slowly gone. Maybe it has to do with my age, I don't know. But I think I will pour my efforts into my Trooper and my interests in the outdoors to add excitement to my life.

Thanks for checking out my blog, I hope you enjoy it. I will still post racing news when I find something interesting or noteworthy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mark Webber celebrates victory in Hungary

Jeez Mark, could you show a little emotion?

Monday, August 2, 2010

World Cup Fever: A1GP to make a comeback?

(by Noah Joseph 7-7-10)

Until its demise, A1GP had an intriguing, original formula. (At least once it took its place as a feeder series and not a competitor to Formula One). The idea, for those unfamiliar, was to pit teams representing their home countries against each other in identical F1-style single-seaters on famous race tracks around the world. Unfortunately, like so many things, the execution failed to live up to the idea.

With the series financially supporting each team, the whole proverbial house of cards came tumbling down last year, its creditors (including Ferrari, which had designed and built their new spec racer) seizing the series' assets.

Now it seems that the self-styled "World Cup of Motorsport" may have another chance to see the light of day. A group of investors is reportedly working out a plan to get the cars and other assets out of hock and field them once more. But instead of the original doomed formula, the re-inaugurated series would demand each team secure its own financial backing, while the series organizers would coordinate the races and provide spare parts trackside. An off-season calendar could see the series run 10 races in 2011-12, if the plan comes to fruition.

Brickyard decline not good for IRL

(by Anthony Schoettle 7-31-10)

Motorsports insiders think the Brickyard 400’s declining fortunes will hasten the Hulman-George family’s decision on the future of the Indy Racing League, which the NASCAR race has helped subsidize.

IMS CEO Jeff Belskus, who replaced Tony George in June 2009, said the Brickyard 400 remains “very profitable.”

“It’s a strong event for us,” he said.

Few dispute that, but racing analysts now think the IRL’s losses exceed the Brickyard 400’s profit, and that could be a major rub for the board that controls the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IRL.

Since the IRL’s inception in 1996, the board, which is four-fifths Hulman-George family members, has used Brickyard 400 profits to support the open-wheel series. But now the Brickyard’s raging revenue stream has slowed considerably.

A feud among board members over money following the 2009 Indianapolis 500 led to the departure of former IMS and IRL boss Tony George. Now there’s speculation the diminished financial firepower of the Brickyard 400 could lead to other changes.

“The balance sheet is what led to Tony George’s ouster, so you know the balance sheet has [the board's] attention,” said Zak Brown, president of Just Marketing International, a local firm that represents some of the biggest sponsors in motorsports.

“All the money goes in the same bank account, and they’re writing a lot of checks for IndyCar. You have to believe they’ve set a firm amount on what they’re willing to spend on the open-wheel series.”

Most with knowledge of Speedway finances think that amount is directly related to what the Brickyard 400 generates in profit.

Belskus said the Brickyard 400 and IRL are “evaluated separately,” but, he added, “a healthy Indianapolis Motor Speedway is good for the Indy Racing League.”

The Indianapolis 500’s hefty profit is a big component of the track’s health, but the Speedway’s flagship race doesn’t throw off enough money to underwrite the IRL.

It’s not clear how the Brickyard’s diminished profit could affect the league and, by extension, the Indy 500.

“The problem is, now that Champ Car is gone, what’s the prospect for the Indianapolis 500 without the Indy Racing League?” said Larry DeGaris, director of academic sports marketing programs at the University of Indianapolis, who has conducted several studies for motorsports business enterprises. “It’s difficult to imagine they could just abandon the [IRL]. But who knows?”

IRL CEO Randy Bernard, who took his post on March 1, is hopeful the open-wheel series can break even in 2011 and reach profitability in 2012.

“I’d like to believe that, but it sounds optimistic,” said Tim Frost, president of Frost Motorsports, a Chicago-based motorsports business consultancy. “I like what Randy is doing, but he has a steep hill to climb.”

George, before his ouster, said the series must be profitable by 2013 or there would be no 2013.

Though the tight-lipped Hulman-George clan has never divulged financial information, motorsports business experts have estimated the IRL has lost more than $400 million since its inception in 1996.

Sources close to the IRL said the series lost $22 million in 2009 and is headed for another eight-figure loss this year. IRL officials have cut $2 million in overhead in the last year, have raised $3 million in cash annually with a new title sponsorship deal with Izod, and tallied $2 million in profits from the series’ popular Brazil race, said motorsports business experts. That still leaves a $15 million hole to close.

Bernard is busy trying to find new markets and raise sanctioning fees to keep the series above water.

The Speedway board, meanwhile, is dedicated to continuing with all current enterprises, including the Brickyard 400 and IRL, Belskus said.

And Belskus is bent on reversing the Brickyard 400 decline that has seen attendance spiral from 270,000 in 2007 to 140,000 this year. While the Speedway won’t spend more on marketing, he said, most ticket prices will be dropped $10 to $20 and features will be added to next year’s race weekend in an attempt to draw more fans.

“We’re going to invest money into enhancing the experience at the track for people,” Belskus said, “and making this more of a destination.”

The local NASCAR race certainly isn’t the only one losing traction, but it’s leading the field in its rate of decline. Fourteen of NASCAR’s first 19 races have seen attendance declines, with an average drop near 20 percent.

Though Brickyard 400 attendance has been halved since its inception in 1994, it’s still one of the biggest races on the NASCAR circuit, with its 140,000 attendance far outpacing NASCAR’s 2010 average of 99,853.

The Speedway reaps $7 million to $10 million in TV revenue from the race—second in NASCAR only to Daytona. That allows most revenue from ticket sales, sponsorships, corporate hospitality and concession sales to fall to the bottom line.

Motorsports business experts estimate the profitability of the race for the IMS is still around $10 million to $13 million. But less than five years ago, it was more than double that.

Ticket revenue has declined more than $10 million and the loss of All-State as title sponsor cost the IMS another $2 million annually, motorsports business experts said. Factor in revenue declines in concessions, parking and other ancillary revenue and the drop is approaching $20 million.

Recent comments made by NASCAR CEO Brian France, who said Kentucky Speedway’s desire for a race could affect Indianapolis’ future, certainly haven’t soothed IMS officials’ nerves. For now, NASCAR is dedicated to having a race here in 2011, but since the contract is year-to-year, the long-term prospects are uncertain.

NASCAR officials could be using Kentucky as a threat to leverage a better deal in Indianapolis, but Brown said IMS officials should be concerned, nonetheless.

“Even if [NASCAR] decides to schedule Kentucky on another weekend, that would have a big impact on the Brickyard 400’s profits,” Brown said. “I’m sure the race here gets a big draw from Kentucky, and NASCAR is risking oversaturating the market."

Schumacher still out of control

( 8-2-10)

In the eyes of the foreign language media, Michael Schumacher was the bad-boy of Sunday's Hungarian grand prix.

In English, British tabloids called for the 41-year-old to return to retirement after pushing his former Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello towards the pitwall at the Hungaroring.

And even the Daily Telegraph said the Mercedes driver's "arrogance can no longer be tolerated in formula one".

In Italy, La Gazzetta dello Sport said the German finally "went too far" with the violent defence of tenth position.

"The arrogant Schumacher showed no remorse but is the same as ever; never his fault. It was a miracle that this manoeuvre did not end badly."

The Italian sports daily referred to the fact that the seven time world champion is an ambassador for the FIA's road safety campaign.

"A little advice for those starting their holidays; if someone tries to overtake you, please to the exact opposite of what the celebrated ex-champion did in Hungary."

La Repubblica and Corriere dello Sport called the move "madness", Il Secolo XIX said it marked his "demise", and Tuttosport said it was "dangerous".

"Barrichello just avoided crashing into the wall and landing in hospital, if not worse," added the report.

Corriere della Sera added: "Schumacher the villain, as he has always been."

Spain's sports newspaper Marca said: "Schumacher's return to formula one is one of the darkest chapters in the history of the sport."

At the same time, Schumacher posted an apology on his website, after viewing replays of the incident.

"I have to say the stewards were right in their decision. My move against him was too hard," he said.

"I clearly showed him that I didn't want to let him pass but, looking at it rationally, I wasn't seeking to endanger him (Barrichello) with my manoeuvre.

"If he feels I was then all I can say is sorry, this wasn't my intention," he added.


Barrichello slams 'crazy' Schumacher

(by Pablo Elizalde 8-1-10)

Rubens Barrichello slammed Michael Schumacher's driving during the Hungarian Grand Prix as 'horrendous' after the pair nearly crashed.

Williams driver Barrichello came within inches of touching the pit wall at around 300 km/h after Schumacher swerved to the right as the Brazilian tried to overtake along the main straight.

The duo came very close to making contact and Barrichello had to put part of his wheels on the grass to avoid a crash.

The Brazilian nonetheless passed Schumacher for tenth and went to score a point, but he was unimpressed with his former team-mate's driving.

"I have a lot of experience and usually with a crazy guy like that I would lift off, but not today, absolutely not," Barrichello told Spanish network La Sexta right after the race.

"I think it has been one of the most beautiful manoeuvres I've done and one of the most horrendous from him. At the end of the day we don't need that.

"To stop for three years and then come back and do something like that, we don't need it."

He added: "What I'm saying is that it wasn't necessary. The safety car came out at a time when it didn't help me, but it was a great race. I'm happy."

Schumacher shrugged off the incident, however.

"This is F1," Schumacher told Italian television RAI when questioned about his move.

"I think I left him too much room because he passed."