No. 781,
January 28, 2015

About The Autoextremist

What do you do when when you've been immersed in all things automotive since before you took your first steps? When you're the scion of an automotive family in an automotive town in its very own automotive universe? When you've forgotten more about cars and motorsports and everything and everyone involved in the business than most people will ever know? When cars aren't just in your blood, but also in your bones and your brain and the very air you breathe? If you're Peter M. De Lorenzo, you ramp it up a bit further. National commentator, industry consultant and author (as well as former superstar ad man), De Lorenzo's daily (and nightly) focus for the past 15 years has been Autoextremist.com, a weekly Internet magazine devoted to news, commentary and analysis of the auto industry and the business of motorsports. Translation: De Lorenzo likes to tell the truth about what's really going on behind the scenes in the car business. And sometimes, things get ugly. Real ugly. But he is as passionate with his praise as he is with his critiques, and Autoextremist has become a weekly "must read" for leading professionals in all industries. De Lorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today. It's the very definition of a high-octane life. And it's what fuels De Lorenzo to keep the pedal down - hard. He won't stop because he can't stop. A bit tired, perhaps? No way. De Lorenzo is one of the most untired people we know.

De Lorenzo's latest book is Witch Hunt (Octane Press  witchhuntbook.com). It is available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle formats, as well as on iBookstore. De Lorenzo is also the author of The United States of Toyota.

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Fumes


Monday
Oct132014

The State of Racing: Where we’ve been, where we are now and what’s next.

Editor's Note: Peter's speech last week to the N. Lake Drive 100 MPH Club in Delafield, Wisconsin - about the state of racing - generated a lot of discussion and comments in the motorsports world. Some of our AE readers missed it, so we're running it again this week. Check out The Line for this week's racing news. - WG

 

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Delafield, Wisconsin.
I’m honored to be with all of you, it’s nice to see many old – and new - friends here tonight.

I know everyone in this room has some personal connection to racing and high-performance machines. Whether you raced in the past, still race now, attend races for fun or follow racing intensely whenever you can, racing is part of everyone here. And so are great high-performance cars. And all of you harbor experiences and indelible memories from your lifelong involvement with cars and racing, just as I do.

Some of you only know me from Autoextremist.com, and some of you know me personally from the many weekends I’ve spent at Road America - “America’s National Park of Speed” - the greatest natural-terrain road racing circuit in the U.S.

I think it’s only fair that you get a little better picture of who I am, and why I’m so passionate about the sport of racing and the auto business itself. In case you're wondering, my Wisconsin roots run deep. My mom's family was from Madison and my dad's family was from Racine, so I spent a lot of time in Wisconsin growing up. I'm not a native, but I have a spiritual connection to this state that's undeniable. Oh, and though I root for my beloved Detroit Lions, I love the Packers too!

My father was in charge of General Motors Public Relations from 1957 to 1979, pretty much the Golden Era for that company. Some of the industry legends you’ve heard or read about – like Bunkie Knudsen, Ed Cole, Zora Duntov – were more than legendary figures, they were on a first-name basis with our family. And I’m happy to say that we had access to some of the finest cars of that era.

A few highlights? When Bunkie Knudsen was running Pontiac, he’d send my mom a bright red convertible to drive every summer, with the hottest engine available at the time. Think 421 Bonnevilles and Catalinas.

I remember Ed Cole loaning my older brother Tony his personal driver for the weekend – a 1961 409 Chevy with a 4-speed manual – and we spent the weekend kicking ass up and down Woodward Avenue. Ed also loaned us his fuel-injected, four-speed, 1963 Corvette Sting Ray coupe – in gleaming Sebring Silver - for the weekend, weeks before the Sting Ray officially made its debut. I don’t think there was a more memorable new car introduction than the Sting Ray, by the way.

The cars went on and on and I have a million stories to go with them. Remember what a blast “announcement day” used to be? Back when the anticipation for the new models reached a fever pitch every September and the business was so much more fun? Our household was a little different on announcement day, because each GM division would send over their latest and greatest model to our house. I shake my head in wonderment about that to this day.

And oh, by the way, Bill Mitchell, the brilliant and mercurial head of GM Styling (they didn’t call it “Design” back then), the industry legend who showcased concepts and future production cars at Road America every summer? He lived on the next block over from us.

Some of you have read my book where I talk about this, but Mitchell would have several of his latest concepts and custom styling jobs delivered to his house every weekend so he could drive a different one according to his whim at the moment.  

I started to hang around Mitchell’s house a lot just to look at these magnificent machines and if he felt like it, he’d let me accompany him up to the grocery store or on an errand. Because of that I had the privilege to ride in every significant concept car that GM had at the time, including the original Sting Ray racer (my favorite all-time car, by the way), the famed Mako Shark, the Corvair Sebring Spyder, the Monza GT and SS, and many more. It’s one thing to read about that era, it is quite another to have experienced it in person.

Needless to say, I’ve led a charmed car life.

I attended my first race at the age of ten with my older brother Tony, at a challenging little local road course north of Detroit called Waterford Hills. I know some in this room have probably been there, and it’s still very active today. Attending races at Waterford opened an entirely new world to me.

And that world was expanded even further when I was able to attend the USRRC weekend at Meadowdale International Raceway in September of 1964, where I watched in awe as the vaunted Shelby American team – led by Ken Miles and Bob Johnson – kicked everybody’s ass in their all-conquering Cobras.

That was followed by seeing Jim Hall and Roger Penske spank the USRRC field in the feature race that weekend in their Chaparral 2s. Dick Thompson finished third in his McKee Chevette racer, and Ken Miles – after removing the full windscreen and making other minor tweaks to his Cobra – stormed to fourth overall in the same car that he had won the GT race with earlier in the day, humbling the rest of the field of sports racers.

The images from that weekend have remained with me to this day. Before I depart memory lane here, I thought you might like to know of one other connection I have to the roots of the sport, specifically the early days of sports car racing in this region.

My uncle worked for the Peter Hand Brewing Company, eventually becoming head of their marketing department. As you know, the Peter Hand Brewing Company sponsored the famed Meister Brauser racing team featuring the beautiful Scarab sports racers – and later, the front-engined Chaparral 1s - driven by Harry Heuer, Augie Pabst Jr. and Dan Devine. Needless to say, having an opportunity to see those racers and that team in action is yet another very special memory.

From there it was a very fast blur, as my older brother Tony embarked on his own foray into sports car racing. Having accompanied him when he went through his SCCA driver school at Watkins Glen earlier that summer of ’64 in a Black Corvette Sting Ray coupe (specially-tweaked by Zora Duntov, by the way. Yes, really) the racing began in earnest in 1965, with a Corvair in the SCCA’s “A Sedan” class.

I remember that we flat-towed that car all over the place for the next year and a half. Tracks like Mid-Ohio. A SCCA national race on a temporary airport circuit up in Grayling, Michigan, where Ralph Salyer showed-up with his Cro-Sal Cheetah with the roof chopped off, but I digress. Then there was Lime Rock and of course, the “bucolic” Nelson Ledges. And on and on.

Then things changed dramatically.

The film “Grand Prix” made its debut, and along with countless other young men of a certain age, I fell in love with the sport – hard. The bigger picture of racing was opened up for all to see, and you could sense that things were changing, just as our country was experiencing fundamental change.

After pounding around in the Corvair for a couple of years, my brother talked Hanley Dawson - who was a friend of our father and who back then ran a Chevrolet dealer in Detroit - into sponsoring an “A Production” Corvette in SCCA racing for the 1967 season. We then ordered a brand-spanking-new 1967 L88 Corvette. It was one of only 20 L88 Corvettes built that year, and one that has changed hands with ever-escalating prices over the years since. (It just recently sold for a cool $1 million.)

The first race for the L88 Corvette was at Wilmot Hills in Wisconsin. And then there was Blackhawk Farms, Mid-Ohio, Nelson Ledges, Milwaukee and of course, the June Sprints at Road America. That was my first time at Road America, and I’ve been in love with the place ever since.

My brother went on to a great career of dominant SCCA and endurance race wins with his famed Owens Corning Corvettes, enjoying considerable success. From there we had the good fortune to experience the 1970 and ’71 Trans-Am seasons up close and personal first with Camaros and then two ex-Bud Moore factory Mustangs. It didn’t get any better for American road racing than those glory years.

But now is a good time to set those personal reminiscences aside, and talk about the sport we love.

The sport of racing in this country has evolved. We went from the magic of the 50s and 60s, when sports cars, Indy cars and Formula 1 cars experienced their golden eras, to today, where things are considerably different.

Along the way we experienced the Can-Am and the aforementioned Trans-Am series firsthand, still the finest road racing – along with the Formula 5000 years – this country has ever seen.

We saw the pursuit of the magical 200 MPH lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – this country’s cathedral of speed – and even though that pursuit came with triumphs and brutal tragedies, it was a quest that captured the public’s imagination.

What made the era so special? The sport – just like the country - was on an upward trajectory. It was about going faster, pushing the envelope and breaking records. It was about the concept of racing “unlimited” machines, as best expressed by the fantastic machines of the Can-Am era.

It was about Phil and Jim, Dan and Roger, Mario and A.J., Jimmy and Jackie, Bobby and Al, Mark and Peter. It was the Bruce and Denny Show. It was Parnelli and George – Ford factory teammates - slamming into each other all around Mid-Ohio. It was Lotus, Porsche, the Cobras and Mustangs, the Corvettes, the Chaparrals, the Shadows and the McLarens and more. Much more.

It was everything all the time, all at once.

It was about Henry Ford II getting pissed-off at old man Ferrari for backing out of the deal at the last minute whereby Ford would buy Ferrari, because Enzo refused to give up control of his race team. And then Henry saying those famous words, “I’m going to kick his ass on the racetrack, I don’t care what it costs.”

I don’t think ol’ Hank the Duece gave a rat’s ass about ROI, unlike today, where everything is scrutinized to the point that it’s monetized to the nth degree.

It was a wonderful and at times magical era, there is no doubt.

So what happened? Technology and politics, that’s what happened.

Technology swallowed the sport whole. By the mid-70s we had arrived at a point where the capabilities of the machines - augmented by dramatic discoveries in aerodynamics, advanced materials and tire development - accelerated performance by leaps and bounds, to the degree that the cars had to be held back by artificially restrictive measures such as power reductions and aero limits, as well as track alterations. And it has been that way ever since.

Indy cars and the Indianapolis 500 were the most glaring examples of this, with The Speedway becoming an exercise in aero logarithms and restrictions so that the cars couldn’t go any faster. The magic of the Indianapolis 500 was still there – it’s still the greatest single motor race in the world – but the allure of ever-increasing speeds and the unknowns that came with it was relegated to the past.

And then the tracks became anesthetized and neutered as well. The most heartbreaking example of this? When they instituted the chicanes on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans. Yes, I know the cars were going 240 MPH plus and the danger was indeed ever-present, but the moment those chicanes went up, it just wasn’t the same.

But the real culprit in the decline of racing? Politics. And as much as I hate to say this, the sport is in a downward spiral because of it. How so?

Let me count the ways.

Politics is Tony George trying to crush the team owners from CART by establishing his own series. He felt that he and his family controlled the biggest race in the world and the world’s most famous racetrack, and that because of that he could – and should - take control over Indy car racing. And of course he enlisted his chief enablers – aka GM Racing, along with Nissan (Infiniti) – who supplied engines, and he was off and running, and to nowhere good, I might add.

And his timing couldn’t have been worse or more devastating, either.

That ill-fated move played right into NASCAR’s hands and frankly the sport of Indy car racing has never recovered. Yes, Indy car racing eventually stumbled back together, but long after the permanent damage had been done.

It’s funny, but way back when the team owners first formed CART it was because they felt that USAC and The Speedway did nothing to nurture the series beyond the Indy 500. So in order to attract sponsors and justify full-season budgets, they hammered out a series of their own. It worked for a while – quite nicely, I might add – but just look where we are today.

The last IndyCar race of the season in California – the race that would determine the 2014 IndyCar Championship – was an abject embarrassment. Maybe 15,000 spectators in attendance – let me emphasize the word maybe – and a .2 television rating. I don’t need to remind you of just how miniscule that rating is, do I? It’s almost non-existent. So we’re effectively right back where we were when CART was formed. It’s the Indy 500 and basically a bunch of “.2” races that mean nothing.

It’s called racing in a vacuum, and it stinks. I’ll have more to say about this racing in a vacuum business later.

And politics is what has become of major league sports car racing in this country too. Let me say right up front that what has happened to my favorite type of racing is despicable, unconscionable and unforgivable. The High-Octane Truth about it is that Don Panoz had the right idea way back when, and the American Le Mans Series had all of the potential to sustain itself over time and grow even further. But that didn’t sit well with Jim France and the so-called brain trust in Daytona Beach.

Using eerily similar logic to what Tony George applied, Jim France felt that if he controlled the biggest race – the Daytona 24 Hours – (at least in his estimation, although Sebring will always be more prestigious) – and the biggest track – the Daytona International Speedway, then he had every right to run major league sports car racing in this country. It didn’t sit well with him - at all - that there was an entity out there racing sports cars that wasn’t NASCAR-owned or controlled. Because make no mistake, folks, NASCAR is about control, pure and simple.

The France family knew they couldn’t get their hands on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but they’d be damned If Don Panoz was going to control major league road racing in this country. So Jim France formed the Grand-Am series, which for all intents and purposes was designed to keep control of the Daytona 24 Hours – and keep Don Panoz from controlling major league sports car racing in this country - and not much else. An attempt was made to grow the series, but who’s kidding whom? The rest of the races on the Grand-Am calendar could have been operated as non-spectator events for reduced insurance rates, it was that pathetic.

But Jim France went to his chief enablers at GM Racing – again – and his NASCAR-fueled road racing series was off and running. It survived on fumes and because France was bankrolling teams out of NASCAR’s considerable – make that damn-near unlimited - coffers. It was smoke-and-mirrors racing the likes of which had never been seen before.

Unfortunately, however, France prevailed. He waited out Panoz and ended up buying the ALMS lock, stock and barrel – plus Sebring and Road Atlanta too – and now we’re left with something called the United SportsCar Championship, which was supposed to be a blend of the best of the two series, but which has turned out to be something resembling Grand-Am Light.

As a good friend told me this week, “I went to Petit Le Mans and a Grand Am race broke out.”

The series’ unannounced mission – although that was lost in all the kumbaya bullshit at the press conference when it was announced - was to prop up Jim France’s beloved Daytona Prototypes, and the racing has suffered exponentially because of it.

There was one P2 entry at Road Atlanta. Count ‘em, one. And the series Championship was won by a Jim France-subsidized DP team. And the series made a complete joke of the entire “Balance of Performance” charade, keeping the Viper team in the GTLM class mix – making sure they won the championship - even though everyone and his brother knew that they wouldn’t have even been close to a championship without that extraordinarily favorable BOP, and that Fiat-Chrysler would be pulling the plug on the program at the end of the year. (Chrysler announced its withdrawal from racing on Monday, by the way.)

Now, some longtime ALMS stalwarts are bailing from the new operation, because they literally hate what has happened to major league road racing in America.

I do too.

Jim France bought out his competition thinking he’d simply inherit the ALMS fan base, but racing enthusiasts aren’t dumb and they can smell stupidity from a mile away. The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

Just for the record, if I won the Powerball tomorrow I would announce a new GT road racing series the next day. It would have three classes: GTLM, GT3 and a new “run what you brung” top class called GTX – basically GTLM without the restrictors.

Racing enthusiasts in this country deserve better, and a proper, major-league road racing series that is open to all manufacturers – and most important, free of any France family involvement - would be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Before I get into what’s next for racing, while I’m on the subject of the France family I have a few comments to share with you about NASCAR.

Let me be clear right up front here, I have nothing but the utmost respect for the teams, the drivers, the technical people and the “doers” who make that sport hum today. There is a tremendous amount of talent in the NASCAR garage area and in and around Charlotte, and they deserve recognition.

The rest of the NASCAR circus? Not so much.

Where do I begin?

The NASCAR death march of a schedule simply is the most ridiculous season schedule in all of sports, and that’s saying something when you factor the NBA and the NHL into the mix.

With too many races and too many repeat visits to the same tracks, it’s the very definition of insanity, with even some of the drivers dropping hints that maybe it’s too much. Gee, do you think?

And how about the interminably long races? Unable to edit themselves, the powers that be in NASCAR think a never-ending series of 400-mile races on cookie-cutter tracks that drone on for hours on end is a good thing. Instead it’s flat-out stupid. And there isn’t a more elegant way to put it either.

The two most popular races to watch on the NASCAR schedule – other than the Daytona 500, of course – are the two road races at Watkins Glen and Sonoma. I’ve advocated for years that NASCAR could reduce its schedule and add at least three additional road races to the schedule – for a total of five – by applying some simple logic, as in don’t have two races at the same track within six weeks of each other. Right off the bat you could delete a half-dozen second races (Pocono and Michigan just to name two), which would improve things considerably, add a little breathing room to the schedule and add a visit to tracks, like, oh, I don’t know, how about Road America for starters?

But no, this is NASCAR we’re talking about, The Land of Excuses and Moribund Thinking that’s rumbling, bumbling and stumbling on their way to mediocrity. And oh yes, still aided and abetted by their longtime professional enablers, GM and GM Racing. Did you know that NASCAR has hired several senior ex-GM executives to help manage things down in Daytona Beach? Why do you think that is?

I’m often asked this: If NASCAR race attendance has been on a downward spiral since 2007, and the TV viewing numbers have been in steady decline, why don’t they make any substantive changes to help things improve? And how do they keep landing those ridiculously overpriced TV contracts?

And the answer is, in this 24/7 content-driven world we live in today there are still TV networks out there that are willing to pay the very definition of stupid money for the privilege of broadcasting NASCAR races. Unfortunately the NASCAR brain trust thinks this is because they’re doing something right and that they don’t need to change anything, but the reality is that it’s only because the TV network conglomerates have become omnivores on the prowl for anything they can get their hands on to satisfy their insatiable programming needs. Thus we live in a world of NASCAR oversaturation, while the idea of watching a live sports car race is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Will NASCAR change anything? Not unless it’s by gunpoint. Remember the fiasco with the much-ballyhooed “Car of Tomorrow” – the idea that single-handedly turned off NASCAR’s hard-core fan base because the cars were identical save for the decals indicating headlights and grille openings?

Well, NASCAR had no intention of changing that car, it was only because two of the four participating manufacturers at the time threatened to pull out of NASCAR if Daytona Beach didn’t allow for more differentiation between the cars.

That’s a true story.

So what does NASCAR do? They take two years to get their shit together and then announce with great fanfare the new NASCAR-approved “Gen-6” racecar, which lo and behold has production appearing bodywork from the various participating manufacturers, at least somewhat anyway. And then of course NASCAR proceeded to take all the credit for their incredible foresight and having come up with the brilliant idea.

And so it goes. Now we’re stuck in this horrible limbo that has the “stick-and-ball” mainstream media thinking that NASCAR is the only racing that exists in this country. And boy, does that stink.

So, now what? Where does racing go from here?

Well, as you’ve probably noticed, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

As I said, racing is on the decline for a lot of reasons. Politics, technology creep and the overall boring sameness that comes with “spec” car racing are all strong, contributing factors, but there’s more to it than that.

There are countless entertainment choices and countless battles for people’s entertainment dollar today. And big-time racing has a hard time competing with that except for the big, signature events like Le Mans, Indy and the Grand Prix of Monaco.

We grew up in an era that revolved around cars. We cruised in them, we raced them, we bought and sold them, we collected them and we loved them. And still do. But we’re all heading off into the sunset, and what happens then?

Everything about our society has changed, and I think we’re on the cusp of change when it comes to the automobile as well.

When we were coming up if you wanted to get anywhere you needed a car. If you wanted to socialize with friends, well then you absolutely needed a car, preferably a hot one.

But those days are gone forever. The days of kids craving and relying upon cars are over. The instant communication era we live in today has changed all that. They don’t have to gather some friends together and pile into a car and go to the local drive-in to see what’s happening, they just text a bunch of friends in an instant and go from there. I know this is not news to anyone in this room, but it’s important to remember it.

Cell phones and handheld devices are the new social currency, there’s just no getting around that fact.

And our society has changed dramatically in other ways too. Remember when we grew up, we couldn’t wait to get our driver’s licenses? In fact most of us, like me, started driving a few years before we actually could apply for one.

But it’s all different now. I can’t tell you how often I hear of young people in their late teens or early twenties who still don’t have their licenses yet. Why? Because they haven’t felt the need to get one. After all, we’re talking about a coddled generation that has been driven everywhere since they were babies, so that urgent need to drive just isn’t there, in fact it is slowly but surely fading away.

That’s not to say that when young people reach a certain age and the realities of jobs and families surface they don’t go out and get vehicles that fit their needs, but that overwhelming urgency just isn’t there.

When you combine those societal shifts with the inexorable march to a green lifestyle that’s gathering momentum with each passing day, it’s not hard to understand that the pressure on “the car thing” is becoming intense. And the interest in racing is dwindling too.

It’s frightening to go to some racing events and realize that there are just not enough young people there. Racing is fighting a losing battle to lure younger people to the sport, and the only glimmer of hope I see that looks to have a shot at reversing that trend is the Global Rallycross series.

The rest? As I said we’re marching into the sunset, and where are the legions of enthusiasts who will take our place? Yes, there are still enclaves of intense auto enthusiasm around the country, but it’s not like it has been and it’s unlikely to be that way ever again.

Before I take some questions, I have two more things to talk about.

People ask me a lot about Formula E, where it’s going and what it all means.

The FIA created Formula E so that they could say that they were being responsive to the green power movement. But it's also clear that they did it as a diversionary tactic so that the green power movement would keep its hands off of Formula 1. Will it appease the "greenies" enough? That's anyone's guess. But that's the real story behind Formula E's existence.

I still view Formula E as Slot Car Nostalgia as brought to you by the FIA, but it exists, at least for now.

Some of you in this room might remember that I proposed an all-new racing series in January 2007 and I presented it to a gathering of industry and racing heavyweights in Detroit. The Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation (HERF) was going to attack the developmental issues associated with making hydrogen-fueled electric cars feasible for mass production.

I proposed that the issues of hydrogen fuel storage, re-fueling, the controlling of the intensely high temperatures and other details could be more quickly solved if we let the racers have at it. So HERF was going to provide a forum for that in a series of demonstration races that would take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the week before the 500.

How was my proposal different than Formula E? It differed in several ways, actually, particularly in that there were no rules other than the cars had to fit in a dimensional box and had to ride on four wheels. Everything else was “free.” I wasn’t interested in cookie-cutter spec cars. The idea was to promote a competition among the manufacturers, unleashing the full force of the talent and creativity on their technical staffs.

And one other crucial distinction? I wasn’t interested in glorified slot-car sounds on the race track. To me, racing without noise isn’t racing. So every manufacturer had to design a “sound signature” that could be generated electronically and augmented by the airflow rushing over the bodywork.

Alas the manufacturers got cold feet, and the proposal died a silent death, fading away in the gathering economic gloom.

Since that time I have pulled back from the idea quite a bit. Though I do believe we have to solve the problems associated with the mass-production of hydrogen-electric vehicles, I’m not sure racing is the answer.

As I said, racing without noise is slot car stuff, and for someone who watched the Can-Am cars in period – with those brutal big-block V8s echoing in the trees down through the Moraine Sweep, the sun glints glittering off of the massive rear wings – well, slot car nostalgia is not for me.

I’d like to close with this: What’s happening in racing now just isn’t sustainable.

I see IndyCar conducting their races for the participating owners, drivers and sponsors, with a smattering of fans in the stands and a gaggle of viewers out in TV Land thrown in for good measure. That’s what I mean by “racing in a vacuum” and it simply has no future.

I can see the Indianapolis 500 becoming an annual invitational race, because I don’t see how a series can continue selling its sponsors exclusively on the business-to-business potential of their involvement.

And major league sports car racing in this country needs a clear-eyed savior with the financial wherewithal and racing savvy to create a compelling national road racing series that people can get excited about, because the France takeover of American road racing has been an unmitigated disaster.

As for NASCAR I don’t much care, when it comes right down to it. But if they were smart, they’d cut their schedule and embark on a more realistic racing cadence, with no more than 25 race weekends a year. And five of those races should be on America’s premier road racing circuits, first and foremost being at Road America.

They’d go to smaller engines, take the restrictors off, and remove about 30 rows of seats at every superspeedway they run on. That absurd nastiness called restrictor-plate racing has to stop, before somebody gets killed.

Of course all of this would be predicated on NASCAR getting serious about the realities of its declining fortunes, and that’s not going to happen anytime soon, I’m afraid.

The participating manufacturers could get together and pound some sense into NASCAR, but that would require them to act like real automobile companies instead of NASCAR’s compliant enablers, and that’s not going to happen anytime soon either.

As for Formula 1, I figured I’d save my comments on that for the Q & A. My short answer? It’s an exercise in unrelenting greed that has successfully purged any romanticism from a sport that once oozed it in the era of “Grand Prix.”

The cars are ugly, the tracks are sanitized facsimiles completely devoid of authenticity, and the racing is predictable, when it’s not relentlessly boring.

I’d watch a MotoGP race over an F1 race any day.

That’s the Bare-Knuckled, Unvarnished, High-Octane Truth on this beautiful October evening.

Thank you very much.

 

 

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, California, October 26, 1969. Mario Andretti (No. 1 Holman & Moody McLaren M6B Ford 429) qualified sixth and finished third in the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix Can-Am race at Riverside International Raceway. Denny Hulme (No. 5 McLaren Cars, Ltd. Reynolds Aluminum McLaren 8B Chevrolet) qualified on the pole and won the race by over a lap. McLaren team leader Bruce McLaren (No. 4 McLaren Cars, Ltd. Reynolds Aluminum McLaren 8B Chevrolet) qualified second but suffered a DNF due to an accident. Chuck Parsons (No. 10 Carl A. Haas Racing Team Lola T163B Chevrolet) finished second and Dan Gurney (No. 48 All American Racers
McLaren 6B Chevrolet) finished fourth after qualifying fifth. Other notables? Peter Revson (No. 31 Robbins-Jeffries Racing Team Lola T163 Chevrolet) qualified seventh and finished fifth, Chris Amon (No. 16 Formula 1 Enterprises Ferrari 612P) qualified third but was disqaulified due to a push start, and Jackie Oliver (No. 22 Autocoast Ti 22 Chevrolet) qualified fourth but suffered a DNF due to suspension failure. Love details about historic races? Go to www.racingsportscars.com.

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