By Peter M. De Lorenzo
Detroit. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race during the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend was 100 minutes long, on a street circuit the series probably has no business running on, with a field comprised of just seventeen cars - yes, you read that correctly - seventeen cars. Now to clarify, the PC and GTD cars were not in attendance, which makes sense at least somewhat, given the cramped confines of the circuit, but still the refrain of "why?" could be heard wafting up from the claustrophobic IMSA paddock, even though the series will remain in California for its next stop (May 2-3, at Laguna Seca in Monterey). "Why?" as in WTF are we doing here, besides filling out the IndyCar-dominated schedule over the weekend? "Why?" As in why are we running on a street circuit when there are still some natural-terrain road racing venues out there that aren't on the schedule?
Long Beach has been billed as a "happening" for years, with the actual racing secondary to the food stand hordes and those with casual interest - at best - wandering around the premises. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but with major league sports car racing on the ropes in this country, one would think that a serious reevaluation would be undertaken, because IMSA playing Sideshow Bob at Long Beach just isn't working. Watching North America's (alleged) major league sports car racing series continue to justify its existence on dictates from the French racing overlords across the pond has become tedious beyond words. And the fact that the opportunity to present a pure GT road racing series in this country unifying the best that IMSA and the World Challenge series has to offer continues to be missed in favor of propping up a few prototypes - Daytona or otherwise - is a travesty. Oh well, here's to IMSA acquitting itself well at Laguna, let's hope.
(John Thawley ~ Motorsports Photography @ www.johnthawley.com ~ 248.227.0110)
For many of the people in attendance, the food stands at the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend are as interesting as the racing going on on the other side of the barriers. Perhaps even more so, in fact.
After the embarrassing debacle at New Orleans, IndyCar managed to right its own ship - at least somewhat, anyway - by running a clean, quick race on Sunday (see more coverage of IMSA and IndyCar in "The Line" -WG), which was a relief. Was it the star of the weekend? No, not even close. Neither was Formula 1, even though there was a modicum of interest in both open-wheel series this past weekend.
No, the real star of the racing weekend was the MotoGP from Argentina. The brilliant young champion, Marc Marquez (No. 93 Repsol Honda) and one of the sport's all-time greats, Valentino Rossi (No. 46 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), engaged in a scintillating duel that eclipsed every other form of racing that went on this past weekend. Rossi (who was on the hardest rear compound tire), hunted down Marquez (who was just on the hard compound rear tire) over the course of the race and when Rossi caught up to Marquez the two men went at it elbow to elbow in a viruouso riding display that was simply breathtaking to behold. Marquez ended up banging off Rossi's rear tire and going down - unhurt (it was ruled as one of them racin' deals, in the parlance of NASCAR) - and Rossi emerged victorious.
With too much of racing in this country in a high state of flux, or in a limbo caused by bad decisions or non-decisions, it's good to see that at least one racing series in the world is delivering unrivaled excitement and suspense.
(Photo courtesy of MotoGP)
The great Valentino Rossi at speed in Argentina.
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)
Indianapolis, Indiana, 1965. Crew members attend to Mario Andretti's No. 12 Al Dean/Dean Van Lines Brawner Hawk Ford at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Andretti would qualify fourth and finish third in the "500" that year, and was named Rookie of the Year. Jimmy Clark (No. 82 Team Lotus/Lotus Powered By Ford) would win in dominant fashion, while Parnelli Jones (No. 98 J.C. Agajanian Hurst Lotus-Ford) finished second. Watch a cool video here.
Publisher's Note: Like these Ford racing photos? Check out www.fordimages.com. Be forewarned, however, because you won't be able to go there and not order something. - PMD