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A giant bowl of Not Good.
This “cooking the sales numbers” situation comes as no surprise to me, whatsoever. As someone who was granted access to the inner sanctum at FCA on many occasions, I was able to witness first-hand the willingness of some the top executives you talk about often, to lie and cheat as if it was second nature. Sometimes it would leave those of us sitting at the table dumbfounded in astonishment. The month-after-month sales increases have always struck me as bogus and now we're seeing the truth come out. I just feel sorry for all the people who will have to pay the price at that once-great company for the misdeeds of leadership.
I've always said “knowledge is good.” This time, it's gonna really hurt, too. Buh-bye, boys.
On a "new" IMSA.
The top level GTLM cars that ran two minutes flat around Road America were the old GT1 cars and from your column you're seeking something similar to those but on steroids. In addition to the cost containment measures you outlined, how else would you reduce the likelihood of the class pricing itself out of existence like what happened to the GT1 class in 98/99 with the Porsche 911 GT1, Mercedes CLK-GTR, McLaren F1 GTR, etc.?
Editor-In-Chief's Note: Those cost control measure I put forth will do everything to control the costs of the series from getting out of hand. First of all, Porsche made less than a handful of GT1 911s - total - and no manufacturer would be able to get away with that in the "new" GTX class. If a manufacturer can't produce the documentation for 50 cars being built, then they're simply not going to be approved for competition. Let's take the new Ford GT for discussion purposes. The rumored sticker price for the car is around $450,000. It would seem that an all-out "R" version limited to a $650,000 sticker - $200,000 over the "stock" car - would work nicely to comply with the new GTX rules, if Ford can build 50 of them. As for the idea of "packing" the car with ingredients that Ford wouldn't charge for, Ford would be crazy to put costs into the car that can't be recouped. Make no mistake, "ROI" would still matter, even at those prices. -PMD
Don't leave out the independent racers.
I'm entirely down with your idea of a GTX-ish class for American road racing. With a straight-up specification for high performance GT cars, and scrapping the ACO/WEC spec-car LMP2s. I'm also entirely down with manufacturer support of GT racing, as long as it's legitimate. No M3s with fictitious V8 engines or Ford GTs with “future” street versions can apply. I totally agree with your rule that only lets manufacturers race the cars that they've already built.
But I believe that it's important to make sure that privateers can play in this league. Double the production quota to 100 cars a year, and cut the cost ceiling to $300K. That significantly undercuts the ~$375,000 cost of an IndyCar rolling chassis, and eliminates the need for an engine lease to race it. There's enough of a rich-boy/track car market to take up the slack and sell out the rest of the production run. Ask Ferrari and Porsche. It also allows competent race teams without a factory link, so Ford/Ganassi and BMW/Rahal would have legitimate competition. If the manufacturers want to support the series, let 'em bring in support trucks and engineering talent to back up all teams racing under their banners.
And let 'em take this show on the road. The ACO may capriciously rule Le Mans, but the 24-hour races at Nurburgring and Spa have open classes/rules which would let these cars run hard twice around the clock. Rather than let the ACO give American road racers the high, hard one, let IMSA bring this class to Europe, Latin America and Australia/Asia the same way CART took it to 'em in the 1990s.
With the right encouragement, I'll bet you could even get the Frances to play Henry Deuce's part and make it personal. Wouldn't that put the cherry on top of beating this ACO shitshow?
Delray Beach, Florida
Oh, we don't know, was it... Satan?
FCA/Marchionne being investigated for cooking the books, Tesla/Musk potentially getting called on the carpet in front of congress. Who would have seen this coming and why does it make me smile?
Yes to GTX.
Wholeheartedly agree with the GTX idea. 99% of the fans at the races care about the GT classes anyway, talking with others at the track it's always, “How are the Porsches doing?” "What happened to the Corvette?" “Damn those Ferrari's are awesome.” I've never heard “How is the Spirit of Daytona doing?” “What happened to the Lola chassis/Mazda?” “Damn that Whelen Corvette is awesome.”
Most of the passionate fan base loves the GTs and the racing is already phenomenal. It would be awesome to have an open rules package that doesn't need to worry about being able to step in line once a year for the ACO. It's been so long since we've had such a series and I think your GTX idea could work, especially if it was the top class.
As far as prototypes it would be awesome if we could get the LMP's back here, but with the budgets I don't see it happening anytime soon.
Oh, nooooo... not joltin' Joe!
Chrysler shoving inventory down dealers' throats? Huh, I didn't realize they re-hired Joachim Joe "please, I'm just folks” Eberhardt.
Maybe he just didn't do it hard enough last time.
From the "Plausible Scenarios" File.
Guangzhou Automobile Group!? Actually, I guess it makes sense… they are already in one joint venture with Fiat (making a version of the Alfa 166) and have big ambitions. If GAC wants entry to the US market, FCA offers a network of dealers and recognized brand names with Chrysler and Dodge. Heck, there is even a well-regarded international brand at stake: JEEP. The only loser in this scenario would be the US auto work (and worker) as I assume they would use this as an opportunity to start importing Chinese Cars.
Laguna Niguel, California
A classic CSS* race.
The Toronto Indy race was a credit to driver skill. Fortunately the incredibly bumpy surface, multiple surface changes that made braking more difficult, and narrow canyon wall visibility did not result in any serious accidents. For fans there were poor sight lines, ugly track walls, and dirty porta-potties; (Montreal, with a bigger crowd, was more spectator friendly on Sunday than Toronto on Friday). They really need to invest in new pavement and a better layout.
Los Angeles, California
Editor-In-Chief's Note: *As I refer to 99.9 percent of street races. It stands for Can't. See. Shit. -PMD
Comin' in hot.
Sergio & the cooked (sales) books… It just makes me feel really sad for all the True Believers and loyal employees in Auburn Hills plus the retirees and loyal fans of their products. First, Daimler Chrysler, then the idiots from Cerberus followed by the espresso-swillers of Italo-American Motors — Chrysler folks have suffered so much. Puts me in mind of the campaign bumper sticker I saw the other day for “Giant Meteor 2016 — Just end it already.”
Grosse Pointe, Michigan
The Awesomeness of it all.
I just read Elon's Master Plan. I found one part fascinating: “A first principles physics analysis of automotive production suggests that somewhere between a 5 to 10 fold improvement is achievable by version 3 on a roughly 2-year iteration cycle.”
See, there is a Moore's Law associated with automobile production. The simple passage of time will yield must faster and cheaper ways of manufacturing. Honda and Toyota and Hyundai production engineers don't know shit! Only the self-anointed savior that is Musk The Great knows this.
We shall all stand back and watch in awe.