Tag Archive: Nascar



Generally speaking I stay away from the subject of Nascar. Obviously a blog named Roadracepartsman.wordpress.com isn’t primarily about stock car racing. However today I want to change that policy a little bit.

Today Ganassi Motorsports made the announcement that next year they would be leasing engines from Hendricks Motorsports. So what is interesting about that? After all its just an engine deal right?

No, its way bigger than a simple engine deal. It is a signal that GM has finally decided to follow in the footsteps of  Ford and Toyota with the engine programs. Both of those manufacturers have realized that in an age of “parity” there is nothing to be gained by having multiple programs. Its much more efficient, read less expensive, to pay one shop to build all your engines. GM as is their style has been slow to start down that road. But now started you can bet that its only a matter of time. And as for RCR claiming that they would have several new customers to take Ganassi’s place – its hard to see who they may be given the lack of teams coming in to Sprint Cup racing over the past several years. So it seems to me that it will only be a matter of time before they accept the inevitable and also begin to get their engines from Hendrick’s.

But lets not stop there, imagine this if you will. As we all know the auto companies operate large plants which produce millions of cars every year. They do that for reasons of ease of distribution as well as economies of scale.

So, with the engine operations consolidated, how long before one of the manufacturers has all of the chassis for its various teams built-in one location? You could say that Ford is very close to that now, Toyota slightly less so. Interesting thought isn’t it?

So for all of you that want “old school” racing, you may be on the verge of old school Nascar. A Nascar of Holman-Moody and Petty Enterprises.

The times are changing right in front of our eyes.

Of course this is only my opinion, I could be wrong. (apologies to Dennis Miller)

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We all know that racing costs a lot of money. And to an outsider it sometimes seems that the large professional teams are almost swimming in it. f course that brings the inevitable chorus of “I hate them, they only win because they have the best drivers, the best equipment, blah, blah, blah”.

That complaint ranges from the club racer in SCCA road racing, or your Saturday night short track right up the ranks. Well, today there was an interesting article on the PlanetF1.com website which I have shamelessly copied. Here are the thoughts of the chief executive of the Sauber F1 team. An interesting comment of a form of racing that we think is immune to financial woes. Check it out:

Sauber throw weight behind budget cap

Tuesday 3rd April 2012

Sauber throw weight behind budget capSauber throw weight behind budget cap

Sauber chief executive Monisha Kaltenborn has backed Bernie Ecclestone’s calls for a budget cap in F1, saying it would make the sport “more interesting”.

Formula One commercial rights holder Ecclestone recently re-opened the debate about a budget cap as he felt there are still too many people “running around with rose-tinted glasses” when it comes to the spiralling costs.

“The teams have to learn to be competitive without tonnes of money,” he said.

“They have to refocus again on the basics – on racing, spending on the sport – and not on baronial motorhomes and all kinds of entertainment.”

Kaltenborn says the Hinwil-based Sauber is in favour of limiting the spending by teams.

“We started it with the Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA), and that in itself was already an important step, but of course it is far from the only one you need,” she told the official Formula One website.

“We now have to evolve it to the next step, and in my view the future should indeed lie in some kind of budget cap under which each and every team could do what they want to, because we all have different strengths. Looking at our team, for example, we have a good infrastructure and a good wind tunnel, so it would allow us to benefit from that.

“Others have other assets. Overall I think it would make Formula One more interesting as it would also mean that we would all use different strategies and take different approaches to the business and the sport.”

Ecclestone suggested cap could come into force from 2013, and Kaltenborn also feels it should be introduced “very soon”.

“I think we should have the next step already in place for next season and take it from there,” she said.

“Next season for me should already see a major step forward in the financial feasibility of a team.

“When the current Concorde Agreement comes to an end at the end of this season, I think it would be a good time to set some kind of rules.”

When the budget cap idea was first mooted by former FIA president Max Mosley a few years ago, some of the big teams refused to back it with Ferrari even threatening to pull out of the sport.

Kaltenborn, though, believes all teams know that something has got to give.

“By now even the big teams should appreciate that Formula One with four teams would not be overwhelmingly attractive to fans,” she said.

“That would be a very wrong message.

Perhaps there are other forms of racing (Nascar?) that would do well to heed her comments. Preparing a Plan B before you need it isn’t a bad idea.


Obviously the title for this article is a cheap shot at Nascar’s oft stated claim that its drivers are the best in the world. Many people have rolled their eyes or snickered about that statement, in the 20 laps between caution flags sometimes. But for the sake of argument we’ll let it slide for today.

So what did we see at Martinsville yesterday? Was it another in an ever growing list of boring races? Or, were you excited at what you saw? How did it compare to the F1 race in Malaysia a week ago?

What does it say about the sport when the only excitement is, arguably, a staged caution flag which brings out a manufactured finish. And then the two cars that have led virtually the entire race get spun out and somebody who hasn’t during led the entire race is handed the win.

NOW, before the flame wars start let me say, Nascar did not stage the caution flag this time. David R. in the TBR #10 did. He had to know it wasn’t going to make it to the end, so why not pit? Was he given the Black Flag, and if so when?

But is it real when the leader gets taken out? I guess it depends on what your definition of racing is. But it seems that the wrecks are the only excitement left.

Just saying.


This past weekend provided a variety of action for the sports fan. NCAA tournament, preseason baseball, free agency signings in the NFL, and of course Motorsports. Since motor sport is what we talk about, that’s what we will do.

F1 had its season opener in Melbourne and it was a pretty good race. Button beat his teammate to the first corner and was never headed. But behind him it was wide open. Although the top five were the same characters as last year, the order was jumbled, and a couple got there by attrition. Then you had a pretty exciting race among the mid packers, Maldanado had a solid 6th for Williams until he put it in the barrier with half a lap to go. Kimi’s return went pretty well, salvaged a 7th from a poor starting position and made some great passes.  Michael outqualified his younger team-mate and was lying third when the gearbox decided that less gears would be a better idea.

All in all it looks like a great year ahead, and great entertainment. Six World Champions in the field can’t hurt either.

A last point on F1. The teams want the FIA to start enforcing the Resource Restriction agreement more closely. This is an agreement whereby the teams agreed to limit the amount of money that could be spent by a team during the year. In addition there are limits on testing, as well as a mandatory factory shutdown during the year. Two teams did not sign the letter to the FIA. Red Bull and Torro Rosso, you can make of that what you will.

Nascar was at Bristol, and what can you say. I can’t say much because I didn’t watch it as I had to work. But when I saw the highlights last night I was shocked. Not by the racing but by the crowd.  It appeared to be far from the announced 102,000. Why so small? Gas prices? Hard to believe that’s really the case. Even if you use 50 gallons round trip, and its up .50 a gallon that’s a  $25 increase. So you don’t buy the tee-shirt and cap.   Is it the racing? Or just a general malaise about the sport. I couldn’t say, but I would love to hear your thoughts.

On a more positive note, it appears that every week we are hearing about a new car and driver going to participate in the Trans-Am series this year. Hopefully the folks running it now have the right formula. They certainly have the experience to know what is needed. I think this could be a breakthrough year for the series.


This is going to be a great weekend. The winter is finally over, F1 is back! And in between sessions there is NCAA basketball.

The season opening Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne Australia is underway. The first two practices have been on a damp track, so its hard to tell who has what. However, the usual suspects are on top so far – McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari. Seems like McLaren is as usual pretty good, Mercedes has improved, and Ferrari may not be as bad as we were led to believe. The midfield looks close, and Williams looks better. The question is how good is Red Bull? They havent shown brilliance so far, but that was the pattern last year, nothing on Friday, but come qualifying look out.

More and more manufacturers are entering hybrids in international road racing. Audi and Toyota have entered prototypes in the 24 hours of LeMans. Honda and Toyota will go head to heat in the GT class. Makes sense as more and more hybrids appear on the street. I’m really interested to see the result of this one.

Nascar will be at Bristol, Tenn. this weekend. The first Nascar race I traveled to see was at Bristol back in 71. Used to look forward to it, but haven’t been in years. But I dont think that is why they haven’t had a sell out in 3 years.

Just a thought: What would you think about Nascar loosening up some of their rules, and do this. Allocate every team enough gasoline that the cars would have to get a certain mileage to finish the race. Say, 20 miles per gallon?  Anything you want to do, but this is the mileage you have to get. Put some real world engineering back into it again.  Dont do away with the templates, or safety stuff just mandate a mileage.

Crazy huh? It may take something like that to turn it around.

Lastly, name one major sport, other than Nascar or another form of  auto racing, that isn’t run by a commissioner appointed by the team owners.


Several quick things this morning before we go try to earn an honest living.

First, F1 testing is over and the teams have a short time to get ready for the first race in Melbourne. And not all is well with several of the teams. Two of the newer teams, HRT and Marussia, were unable to get their 2012 challengers ready in time to do the test. Obvious they will do some testing in the form of “filming days” or straight line tests, but hard to see where they wont be way behind at the start of the season.

A couple of the major players dont appear to be in that great a shape either. There are continuing whispers about how bad the new Ferrari is, and Red Bull is saying they will have a “B” spec car at Melbourne. The surprises of the testing have to be Lotus, (formerly Renault) and Sauber. But we will see the truth come the first race as to who has what. My money is on McLaren, while no fan of theirs they have the organization to take it to Red Bull.

On the Nascar front, to me the big news is not that ratings and attendance are back down to 2010 levels. Rather to me its this: the announcement that HMS has signed a Chinese Solar Panel Manufacturer to a sponsor deal on the number 5 car driven by Kasey Kahne. Think of the precedents this sets. To my knowledge there aren’t any other foreign sponsors. Multinationals sure, foreign no. But a interesting move nevertheless.

Speaking of sponsorship was the case of Kenny Wallace pleading for sponsors for his RAB Nationwide series car. Saying that they were broke, and that they could race on a 100k a race where others were getting 150-200k per race. Wonder does this show us why the Nationwide series is struggling? Many small and medium size companies just dont have that kind of money to spend on a race car, far away from their home market, unless they get a LOT of TV exposure. At some point Nascar, or the teams themselves, are going to have to address the issue of cost control.

Wonder is Aurora having trouble supplying rod ends these days? Have gotten a lot of calls both internationally and domestically from people I hadn’t heard from before.

Still trying who was the voice on the telecast from Phoenix last week who, right before Harvick “ran out of gas” came on the radio and said “we have a problem”. Remember according to the rules the teams are not supposed to be monitoring telemetry from the cars during the race. So, whose voice was it? Inquiring minds want to know.

 

 


Much has been made in the Nascar world recently about the fact that the Hendricks Motorsport car driven by Jimmy Johnson failed inspection at Daytona. As a result, Nascar reacted in their typical manner, fines and suspensions for the crew and car chief, as well as a deduction in points for the driver and car owner.

Of course there was the predictable reaction from the Nascar fans. Those who dislike/resent the success of/hate HMS and its efforts were not satisfied. The usual wailing and knashing of teeth followed about Nascar being in lockstep with its most successful team. On the other side of the coin there was the equally predictable response that “cheatin'” was a part of racing, it was basically boys being boys and it was much ado about nothing.

So which camp do you fall in? The “if you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying” group? or the one that prefers the enforce the rules to the letter group?

As for myself I have a foot firmly planted in both camps. I understand the desire and maybe need to be successful which will drive people to bend the rules. On the other hand, I favor zero tolerances. If a C Pillar or fender is supposed to have this configuration – no deviation. Measure it before the race, if it fails it fails, passes it passes. There is no need then to do anything postrace. But thats only my opinion.

While at it I have a question for you. We all know that the Nascar Sprint Cup car  is a spec car, right? So why not contract out to some metal stamping company, and there are thousands out there, the job of stamping out the body parts? Everybody gets the same parts, they add their manufacturers nose fascia and rear bumper cover. That way they put an end to all this nonsense. Zero tolerance before the race, if it isnt like you got it you’re out.

That of course assumes they really want to stop it. Which I doubt.

 


The has been a fairly interesting thread over on the GT1DA.com website recently. In the forum section an individual posted that, in essence, it was time for the SCCA’s GT1 class to be returned to the amateurs. That the class had been hijacked by the Trans-Am racers and had become so skewed that no amateur had a chance of winning. In the article he, to my surprise, named Tony Ave and Jim Derhaag as being the main perpetrators of this theft.

While I found it a little difficult to follow, it appears that he had three main complaints with the rules. One. The weight breaks were such that you had to have a 358 engine to compete. Two. The cost and complexity, of adjustable sway bars. Thirdly. The cost of a three link rear suspension, where the upper link extends up into the driver compartment.

Then, in a move that I really dont understand, he complained about the cost of a HANS device and the requirement that it be made mandantory. These were all items which he suggested should be rescinded for the good of the sport and the financial well being of the competitors.

Now I have no idea how you feel about this matter, or if you even care. To me however it appears to be so same old argument. “Racing is too expensive for the average competitor, and something needs to be done about it”. And you know that is correct. However, there is no turning back, once the technology is out there you cant do a Vulcan mind meld and force people to unlearn it. Short of that its probably a thing where if you cant afford it, you need to look for an alternative.

I do think that the SCCA and similar groups should examine ways to reduce the costs to the competitors. At the same time we dont want GT racing to become a spec series. If you really want to see out of control costs look no further than Nascar. There with basically a spec car series, teams are spending increasing amounts for really small returns. Why? because in a spec class it only takes a small advantage to seperate the winners from the losers.

In GT road racing, we are fortunate to have vintage racing. There the older cars can still be competitive with their peers long after their time of glory has passed them by. Maybe instead of trying to keep the times from changing, those who would advocate that, should give vintage a try.

But to quote Dennis Miller: “thats only my opinion. I could be wrong”.

 


First my apologies for not having the time to write something this past week. I wont bore you with the details, but over the years I have come to realize what it is about work that I hate so much. It just takes way too much time.

So with that out of the way, just a couple of things to quickly comment on.

The news that two drivers who arguably made their name driving for Roush Racings Trans-Am program are returning to the series. Interestingly enough it will supposedly be in the TA2 class. In addition I had a conversation with a friend who was building a TA1 chassis. I say one because he is going to instead build a TA2 Camaro. As I listened to his reasoning it was hard to find an argument against it. As much as I love the “big” cars, it makes more sense perhaps to go down the TA2 route.

Its good to see that Williams F1 was atop the time sheets yesterday at Barcelona. That team which is has fallen from the top of the sport to mid pack certainly needs to have a good year. A note of caution creeps in though when you remember all the years that they were really fast in winter testing. Unfortunately as soon as the season started reality reared its ugly head, and they went straight to the mid pack. Hopefully this year will be different.

Now that Nascar has returned to Daytona, how do you feel about it? Is it living up to the Barnum and Bailey style hype, or will it quickly return to the ho-hum of recent years?  If you take away the wrecks in the Bud shootout, it was hard to find excitement. I must admit seeing Kyle Busch save it a couple of times was pretty amazing. How much of that was the car high centering on the banking?

Lastly, as most of you know, a fair amount of competitors buy hand me down Nascar parts. With the introduction of EFI the supply of carbs will be finite now. So if you can find a good road racing carb for a reasonable price, you may want to snag it.

As I said a quick burst, but I warn you I should be able to find more to write about this weekend.