There is only one American driver who went across the Atlantic to beat the Europeans at what they perceive to be their game – Phil Hill. Although Mario Andretti is American by the most practical interpretation of the label, he was born in Italy so he doesn’t really count. The last American driver, Scott Speed, was dropped by Toro Rosso after 1.5 seasons in the cockpit, now finding marginal success in NASCAR. And before him…? An overweight and overhyped Michael Andretti, who seemed to DNF more races that I could bother to remember.
And when it comes to the constructor / supplier end of things, Ford had good success with their program but it really wasn’t Ford considering it was Cosworth Engineering who was buildng all the engines. And Goodyear was a single supplier of tires to F1 for many years, but bowed out in 1998.
So you can say the red, white and blue hasn’t seen much return-on-investment when it comes to Formula 1 racing.
Over the last few weeks, there has been quite a bit of hype around USF1. Supposedly, the new team will unveil itself for the 2010 season, headquarted in (gasp!) Charlotte, North Carolina, with an operational base somewhere in Spain. All fine and dandy, I suppose, but I have some questions for the two gentlemen who are putting together this team:
– Where are you going to find the money to foot the hundreds of millions of dollars required to run a competitive team? With the global economy in shambles, current F1 sponsors not reupping their contract after 2009 and motorsports in a state of crisis, where will the $$ come from?
– There are reports that Danica Patrick is a contender for one of the drivers’ seats. Danica Patrick? Excuse me? She was competitive in the former Champ Car Atlantic Series, but hasn’t done much in the Indy Car series. For her to be a high-midpack driver in a spec series doesn’t say a whole lot about her potential in the highest (and toughest) form of motorsport in the world. And her only victory to date was at Motegi, a circle jerk track owned by Indy Car series engine supplier Honda (which, ironically, has dropped out of F1). Formula 1 is on courses where there are both left AND right turns… and they brake, accelerate and shift all day long. If you want to see how sad some of these Indy Car drivers are, just watch some of the road / street course races this year.
– Do we even need an American Formula 1 team? Americans are preoccupied with NASCAR and even that’s dropping in the ratings as we speak. The Indy 500 isn’t what it used to be. Open wheel racing in America as whole isn’t what it used to be. ALMS doesn’t seem to be in particularly good health. So why bring yet another distraction for motorsports fans? Sure, I’d love to see the F1 circus come back to America, but the existence of an American F1 team isn’t going to elevate my enthusiasm for it whatsoever.
– Aside from Danica – who said she doesn’t want to be on the other side of the pond to race – what other talent do we have that could fill these drivers’ seats? Certainly no American drivers pop into my mind… save for Marco Andretti. He certainly has the pedigree and the youth to develop into one hell of a driver, but I think it’s an awful lot to risk to put in a driver without the required European open wheel experience. And why do they have to be American drivers anyways? There are plenty of drivers from the GP2 feeder series that could do quite well.
So I’m still confused as to why USF1 even needs to exist. Or what their mission / plan is. The coming weeks will hopefully answer these questions.
A possible murder-suicide incident with well known UFC fighter Justin Levens and his wife Sara McLean-Levens has been uncovered today. Current investigations assume that Justin may have been the potential killer. Authorities are not ruling anything out at this point, as there is much more to unravel.
The two were found Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 PM by McLean-Levens’ mother, who stated it had been about five days since she last heard from her 25 year old daughter. Both were found in their Laguna Niguel condominium with a handgun on sight, but no suicide note.
The fact that Levens was convicted of spousal injury back in 2003 makes the suicide suspicion a strong possibility. More on this is to come after the full autopsy is completed today.
NASCAR has finally settled a $225 million lawsuit with a former official who felt she was racially discriminated and sexually harassed. Mauricia Grant served the organization for 2+ years and was illegally singled out.
You know she must have been discriminated and harassed because NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston released a statement stating “We’re glad to have the case settled on mutually acceptable terms”. There’s no way NASCAR would’ve settled for that much $$$ if she hadn’t been tapped.
In other NASCAR news, the organization has decided to test drivers for performance-enhancing drugs starting next month. NASCAR will take tougher actions by testing before seasons begin and continue random testing throughout the year. NASCAR hopes to conduct testing on 12-14 drivers per series each weekend in 2009.
Skrybe – Keep it Fly
Admittedly, I am no fan of NASCAR. Never have been. Racing shouldn’t involve only going left. Racing shouldn’t involve only drivers from the States, save for a few Canadians and one Colombian. Racing shouldn’t involve tires that are taller on the outside than on the inside. Racing shouldn’t involve old, fat guys – look at Le Mans endurance drivers, look at Formula 1 drivers; they’re fit and they also have a work out regiment. So there are these things that are wrong with NASCAR in my opinion. With that being said, I also respect NASCAR. It’s a pretty brutal racing series where crashes are the norm. And running that engine at redline for 500 miles is pretty buff as well. And they have done a hell of a job marketing, especially the drivers and their personalities, to the legions of fans in the States.
NASCAR has been growing by leaps and bounds in the States and commercial sponsors have been throwing money at it like there’s no tomorrow. But as the global economic crisis has hit Formula 1, it’s affecting NASCAR as well. Here’s the difference, however – whereas international level motorsports, such as ALMS and Formula 1, are not completely brutalized by the economic downturn as they are supported by an internatinal consortium of companies and brands, NASCAR’s primary funding comes from American companies and brands. And American companies are the ones feeling the biggest brunt of the downturn. European and Asian governments & economies have been quicker to react and / or don’t have the same level of fundamental economic problems – do you see Honda, BMW, Porsche, Ferrari and the like asking for a multi-billion dollar bailout from the government?
So the very reason why NASCAR grew so fast – “American pride,” “USA,” “Made in America” and all that good stuff – is ultimately the very reason why the NASCAR’s bubble is bursting. All three Detroit brands are in trouble and I certainly hope that if the government grants the bailout aid, they’ll have to nix NASCAR altogether. (Let’s face it… unlike other motorsports series, NASCAR isn’t used as an R&D platform so it doesn’t contribute anything except “brand awareness”) American brands like Home Depot and Lowe’s are facing a downward spiral, as new home starts, let alone home sales, continue to drop. People aren’t buying clothes, so Wrangler, Lee and all those other brands are going to hurt as well. NASCAR’s driver line up, made up of good old boys, isn’t going to attract international sponsors. And since NASCAR has acted and branded itself much like a xenophobic American, international broadcasters aren’t going to pay the rights fees to carry it on their airwaves. Hell, why would a French station carry NASCAR when the closest thing to anything French in NASCAR was the movie Talledega Nights (insert “Perrier”).
Frankly, I wouldn’t shed a tear if NASCAR went away permanently. Perhaps then Speed would start carrying some real racing, like WRC, ALMS, FIA GT, DTM and so on. And not air them at 4am Wednesday mornings so no one bothers to watch it. Perhaps with the demise of NASCAR, we can also finally get rid of those stupid Chrysler Hemi commercials, “Is that a Hemi?” Let it be known, it’s been a long time since Chrysler made an engine head with true hemispherical design.