Sportsfly.com’s Blog

Various Sports Mutterings from Sportsfly.com!

Another One Bites The Dust

subaru-wrc-prodriveWell, it’s official Subaru has dropped out of the FIA World Rally Championship. Citing the global meltdown of car sales, Subaru said so long to a motorsport in which they were successful in the past, but not so much in the present, with the late Colin McRae and the late Richard Burns bringing home the championships. This departure, of course, leaves David Richards of ProDrive with little to do, except run the Le Mans GT1 team. Perhaps this will clear some bandwidth for him to return to Formula 1 by buying the very team he used to manage in the old BAR days.

This isn’t all of it, however. Subaru isn’t the only team to leave WRC. Suzuki has left town as well, citing the same economic reasoning. Frankly, Suzuki was a non-factor in WRC so I won’t shed any tears over their departure.

So this leaves Citroen and Ford as the only manufacturer teams to remain in WRC. Mitsubishi left a while ago. Peugeot left a couple of seasons ago. Seat did the same. And now Subaru. I certainly hope all this “departing” will not damage the series so much that it will crash and burn the whole thing.

But wait… THERE’S MORE! Both Audi and Porsche have announced that they are pulling out of the American Le Mans Series. Although both were incredibly successful in their respective classes (LMP1 and LMP2), no reasons were officially cited for the pullout.

I suspect that there will be other manufacturers to follow the long list of these escapees – Honda, Subaru, Suzuki, Porsche, Audi… Expect one of the Detroit 3 to pull out of NASCAR. If you want to trim the budget, racing seems to be the first to go. And with GM, Ford and Chrysler in a ton of trouble, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

December 16, 2008 Posted by | ALMS, Features & Opinions, Formula 1, Motorsports, News, WRC | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bursting the NASCAR Bubble

nascardriversAdmittedly, 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.

Suckers.

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, Formula 1, Motorsports, NASCAR, Talkin Trash | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

LA Auto Show Overshadowed by Big 3 Collapse

In past years, consumers used to love visiting auto shows because they could envision themselves in roadsters, racing the streets as if they were competing in Cruisin’ USA. Additionally, automakers were known to include James Bond style technology in each vehicle. This year however, none of that was on anyone’s mind as the first big auto showcase took place in Los Angeles. The only two things consumers pondered were longevity of vehicles and how green-friendly they will be. Automakers on the other hand, namely the Big 3, were more focused on layoffs than pitching cars. The challenge was to showcase efficient vehicles to consumers who don’t want to buy from failing automakers.

Skrybe – Keep it Fly

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment