No. 919
October 18, 2017
 

About The Autoextremist

@PeterMDeLorenzo

Author, commentator, influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established Autoextremist.com on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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Fumes


Monday
Oct162017

THE STUPID 500.

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. I'll start out bluntly today with this: The Alabama 500 run on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway was such a despicable display of stupidity masquerading as a "race" that it defies all logic and common sense. I am not going to detail the race, except for the fact that there were three red flags - three - in the last seventeen laps, and that's all you need to know. The fact that NASCAR continues to allow the devastation and carnage at Talladega to go on unabated after all of these years is simply incomprehensible. But it's understandable, too, because the powers that be who run NASCAR are not only apparently powerless to get out of their own way, they adamantly refuse to do anything about the restrictor-plate races at Talladega because, well, they've always done it that way. And besides, the "fans" love it.

Really? The "fans" love it? I'm not so sure about that. Yes, there are always people who go to - and watch - races to see wrecks. That has remained unchanged since the chariot races in ancient Rome. And "we've always done it that way" has been the NASCAR operating mantra almost since the days of Big Bill France. But that doesn't make it right, and it isn't an excuse for the kind of ridiculousness that transpired at Talladega last Sunday.

It's easy to assign blame to the resident brainiacs in Daytona Beach in this, because their head-in-sand approach to well, everything, is well documented. Let me briefly remind everyone that the reason for the restrictor-plates on the "big" tracks in the first place was Bobby Allison's crash at Talladega in 1987, when it was only sheer luck that his car didn't go up into the grandstand and take out scores of people, which would have been the biggest disaster in racing since the horrific crash at Le Mans in 1955.

The reason Allison's crash at Talladega was so shocking to the NASCAR brain trust was because they knew if it had gone the other way, their sport - and business - would have been crippled for years, if not destroyed. So, the use of restrictor-plates was the solution.

But since NASCAR incorporated restrictor-plates on the "big" tracks, everything else has remained pretty much status quo for 39 years. As in no changes. The teams and drivers show up, crash, someone survives to win and then the circus moves on, collectively shrugging its shoulders while saying, "that's just Talladega." Except that excuse doesn't work anymore. In fact it hasn't worked for oh, at least 30 years or so.

I find it simply amazing that with all the world-class talent in the NASCAR garage - and I'm talking talent equal to any form of racing on the planet, yes, even including F1 - and with all the gifted and brilliant engineers and aerodynamic specialists available, that NASCAR hasn't been able to come up with a solution for racing on its "big" tracks that progresses beyond restrictor-plates into something else. Again, it's simply incomprehensible.

Doing things because "we've always done it that way" will be the death knell for NASCAR. The sport is already headed in a downward spiral that seems to be irreversible. In fact, things are going so poorly that the end result could be that NASCAR devolves into a regional sport. And allowing the carnage to continue at Talladega and calling it a "race" isn't helping. At all.

The ugly reality in this situation is that nothing will change unless the drivers - backed by the team owners and the manufacturers - step up and refuse to run at Talladega unless a new solution is found. Yes, as I've said repeatedly in these pages, "drivers will race through a shit storm for twinkies" they want to do it so badly, but if they truly care about their sport and their livelihoods, it's time for them to wake up and step up instead of shrugging their shoulders and saying, "that's just Talladega."

And that's the High-Octane Truth for this week.

 

 

Editor's Note: Many of you have seen Peter's references over the years to the Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation (HERF), which he launched in 2007. For those of you who weren't following AE at the time, you can read two of HERF's press releases here and here. And for even more details (including a link to Peter's announcement speech), check out the HERF entry on Wikipedia here. -WG

 

Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Photo by Dave Friedman, courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Riverside, October 13, 1963. Dan Gurney in his No. 97 Shelby American Cobra on his way to a fourth-place finish in a special 1-Hour GT race. Cobras swept the top four places with Bob Bondurant (No. 97 Shelby American Cobra) first, Allen Grant (No. 96 Coventry Motors Shelby Cobra) second (crewed by George Lucas, yes, that George Lucas), Lew Spencer (No. 98 Shelby American Cobra) and Gurney. Zora Arkus-Duntov was already hard at work on the new lightweight Corvette Grand Sport because of earlier races when the lighter, more nimble Cobras spanked the new production Corvette Sting Ray. But this race was further proof that unless Duntov did something, Shelby's Cobra would bury the Corvette once and for all. Duntov planned to introduce the potent Grand Sport at Nassau. The rest is history.