No. 1018
October 16, 2019
 

About The Autoextremist

@PeterMDeLorenzo

Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." 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


Tuesday
Oct012019

A BIGGER IDEA.

Editor's Note: Since this column is still reverberating through the racing world, we thought we'd leave it up another week. Peter will return next week with a new "Fumes." -WG

 

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. The High-Octane Truth be told, my interest in F1 will never increase, no matter what they do for 2022. Actually, since we already know that the powers that be are stumbling around with only a few modifications to the cars as we know them today, expecting F1 to deviate from what they've been doing for the last decade is a fool's errand. The litany of glaring transgressions that sucks the life out of contemporary F1 is long. It's too political. It's too commercial. It's too sterile. It's too predictable. And other than a few races that register fleeting interest because an actual race broke out, it's too boring. Much of that - at least for me - has to do with the grossly unappealing cars, and the uninspiring sounds emanating from them. 

The fact that the FIA and the powers that be in F1 - specifically, the manufacturers involved - insist that the cars have some engineering relationship with the automobiles we buy contributes mightily to that fact, but it is a failed strategy. People are growing less fond of spending their hard-earned money to travel to an F1 race to hear machines that sound like turbocharged UPS trucks; it's boring and unimpressive. And besides, with many manufacturers going all-in for BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles), what are they going to do next? Have F1 become Formula E for the technology transference? That's a nonstarter as well from where I sit, because FE is singularly unappealing; in fact, it's the most moribund racing series of the last several decades, hands down.

Why do you think people line the fences at vintage events when older F1 cars make their way around a race track? The visceral appeal of those racing machines is undeniable. What is that about? They sound like racing machines should, pure and simple. My favorite open-wheel racing machines (besides the V8 and V12-powered F1 cars of yesterday) were the F5000 cars of the 70s. I spent many a delicious moment at Road America watching Andretti, Unser, Redman, Hobbs, Oliver, Gethin, Ongais, et al. wringing every last bit of speed out of their fuel-injected V8-powered open-wheel monsters, and I'll never forget it.

It seems that others feel the same way. In fact, some racing True Believers in Australia have started a new S5000 Series, which uses a contemporary chassis with modern safety standards powered by 560HP fuel-injected V8 engines. The first race for the new series was held over the weekend at Sandown International Raceway, In Melbourne, and you can read about it here. The fan reaction was enthusiastic, apparently, with the "fence-leaners" growing exponentially as the race weekend progressed, even though the first feature race was cut short by an accident that damaged the track.

If I were King of Racing I would start by mandating that all F1 teams build specific cars for the Grand Prix of Monaco that would adopt the specs of these new S5000 machines. These cars would be perfectly suited to the limitations of the Monaco circuit, and they would provide racing enthusiasts with a jolt of excitement as well. And from there, I would slowly but surely change the F1 formula to these machines over time.

Something has to give when it comes to F1, because for that circus to continue to do what it has been doing - even though it seems to only appease the participants and the manufacturers involved - is racing in a vacuum at its most egregious. And it is simply not sustainable. F1 needs to abandon the pretense that the cars have to have some relationship with the vehicles we drive and focus on increasing the visceral appeal of the racing machines in every way possible. To do anything less is starting to look like a giant bowl of crazy.

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

 

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, July, 1976. Brian Redman's No. 1 Carl A. Haas Racing Lola T332C Chevrolet (above) in the pit lane at Road America; and Al Unser (No. 51 Lola T332 Chevrolet) crests Turn 6 at Road America that same weekend.