No. 792,
April 15, 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 - and analysts - 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
Jan192015

HERE WE GO AGAIN.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Detroit. The 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship kicks off this weekend with the 53rd running of the Daytona 24 Hour race (commercially presented as the Rolex24). The historic season opener for major league sports car racing at Daytona marks the official beginning of another racing year here in the U.S. And as much as I'd like to say that things will be different, the stark reality is that it means more of the same for racing enthusiasts in this country. NASCAR is NASCAR and all that entails, INDYCAR is the Indianapolis 500 and an assortment of other races to fill out the schedule, and IMSA's (NASCAR-owned) United SportsCar Championship continues to operate on the margins when it comes to motorsport coverage by the stick-and-ball media in this country.

Do I wish things were different? Yes, of course. I wish that NASCAR had no more than a 25-race schedule that eliminated at least some of the repetitiveness and tedium. I wish that INDYCAR had more engine manufacturers, more creativity and diversity of thought, and a legitimate reason for being that went beyond the Indianapolis 500. And I wish major league sports car racing in this country would garner more than a footnote of attention beyond the woeful mentions it gets after the Daytona and Sebring endurance races. But that is indeed the quintessential definition of wishful thinking, unfortunately.

The absurdities of professional motorsport in this day and age are debilitating to document and tiresome to write about. But there's enough of a glimmer of hope and promise at this time of year to set aside all of that for a moment and look forward to a cracking good race at Daytona, hopefully. The Balance of Performance Quagmire continues, I'm sorry to report, but as long as NASCAR executives are calling the shots for the USCC that is not going to change. Making the Daytona Prototypes and the new P2 prototypes compatible in many ways is a fool's errand, but it's even worse in the GTLM category, where the BoP battle is aggravating in its slights and outright favoritism.

The fact that the FIA has deemed its World Endurance Championship as the only sports car racing that matters and continues to treat North American racers and racing interests like second-class citizens is a flat-out insult. The result is that the U.S. racing calendar continues to be ignored, meaning North America's two premier sports car endurance races - at Daytona and Sebring -  are left unattended by the WEC, which simply stinks.

Again, do I wish all was righteous and perfect, or at least riveting and fair? Yes, but it is what it is, and that's the reality of this modern racing era we live in.

Do the drivers care about the politics? Oh hell no and I doubt that will ever change, refreshingly enough. They scurry around in a desperate dance during the fall and through the end of the year lining up a ride - any ride - for Daytona and beyond. It's just what they do. As Dr. Bud once famously said, "Drivers will race through a shit storm for Twinkies" they want to have a ride that bad. And that is so very true.

So here's to a great race this weekend, and we'll have coverage - including John Thawley's superb photography - next week.

2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Schedule:

(Date/Event/Competing Classes)
*Jan. 24-25 - Daytona International Speedway (ALL)
*March 21 - Sebring International Raceway (ALL)
April 18 - Long Beach Street Circuit (P/GTLM)
May 3 - Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (P/GTLM and PC/GTD)
May 30 - Detroit Belle Isle (P/GTD)
*June 28 - Watkins Glen International (ALL)
July 12 - Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (P/PC/GTLM)
July 25 - Lime Rock Park (PC/GTD)
Aug. 9 - Road America (ALL)
Aug. 23 - Virginia International Raceway (PC/GTLM/GTD)
Sept. 19 - Circuit of The Americas (ALL)
*Oct. 3 - Road Atlanta (ALL)  

* Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup Event - See more at: http://www.imsa.com/



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)
Daytona Beach, Florida, 1966. The race-winning No. 98 Shelby American Ford Mk II driven by Ken Miles/Lloyd Ruby leads the No. 95 Holman & Moody Ford Mk II driven by Mark Donohue/Walt Hansgen, followed by the No. 96 Shelby American Ford Mk II driven by Bruce McLaren/Chris Amon on Sunday morning of the Daytona 24 Hour race at Daytona International Speedway. The Miles/Ruby machine would sit on the pole and win the race by eight laps. It was the first time that the sports car opener at Daytona was contested for 24 hours. The Dan Gurney/Jerry Grant No. 97 Shelby American Ford Mk II would finish second, followed by the Donohue/Hansgen Ford Mk II. The Amon/McLaren Ford Mk II would finish fifth behind the No. 21 NART Ferrari 365 P2 driven by Pedro Rodriguez/Mario Andretti. Watch a short video here and see a Flickr set of images here.

(Photo by Dave Friedman, courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
The Mark Donohue/Walt Hansgen Ford Mk II in for a pit stop during the night.

(Photo by Dave Friedman, courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Dan Gurney in the cockpit of his Ford Mk II during practice for the Daytona 24 Hour in 1966.