Reports from Europe today indicate that the Formula One team, Toro Rosso, is for sale for a paltry $30 million but if that’s true, it’s more of a dump than a sale.
Jacques Villeneuve, Canada’s only F1 world champion, tried for an entry in the 2011 championship but, when rebuffed, said he would try to buy into an existing team.
Now, perhaps, he could wind up owning the whole Toro Rosso organization.
Unless he squandered it away (unlikely), Villeneuve should have millions salted away from his time at BAR, when he not only was the driver (for a $20 million yearly retainer) but a silent partner in the ownership of the team with his former manager, Craig Pollock.
Whether the team is actually for sale is not known. Owner Dietrich Mateschitz, who owns the Red Bull energy drinks company and the Red Bull F1 team in addition to Toro Rosso, says the reports are not true.
But the rumours started a week ago and haven’t gone away. In F1 circles, where there’s smoke there’s usually fire.
Owning a team, of course, is one thing. Keep it running is another. You can take that $30 million and multiply it by at least three to come up with the budget for Year One. Then there would be Year Two, Year Three and so-on.
I once wrote a newspaper column about all the F1 teams that had been started since 1970 and there were dozens. Of those dozens, only a few are still in business.
You have to know what you’re doing and have deep, deep pockets to get into that game.
If Jacques is sampling the bait, good luck to him. But I still think he’d be better off to concentrate on NASCAR.
— The 10-hour Petit Le Mans will start tomorrow morning shortly after 11 a.m. (Speed TV) and the big guns — Peugeot and Audi — will be there and are expected to dominate.
Three Canadians — Tony Burgess and Mark Wilkins from Toronto and Kyle Marcelli from Barrie — will be competing in the race at Road Atlanta in Georgia.
The championships in all four American Le Mans Series classes will be up for grabs when the green flag drops at 11:15 a.m.
Current LMP class leaders, the Patron Highcroft trio of David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti, can clinch back-to-back titles.
Mosport GT class winners Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister in their Flying Lizards Motorsports Porsche head into Saturday’s race with a sizeable lead, while Green Earth Team Gunnar drivers Gunnar Jeanette and Scott Tucker own a slim six-point advantage in the LMPC class.
Tim Pappas and Joern Bleekemolen are on top in the GTC category.
Burgess, a 10-time Petit Le Mans participant, is coming off his best series finish to date, placing third overall and in class at Mosport in August while driving for Autocon Motorsports.
Marcelli is new to the American Le Mans Series this year, but is no stranger to sports car racing. He made the successful jump from the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites program and hasn’t looked back.
“This season has been a learning experience for sure,” the 20-year-old said. “It hasn’t been as easy as I anticipated, but so far it has been a dream come true.”
The prototype pilot will be making his first appearance at Petit Le Mans.
Wilkins, normally a driver in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series, will team up with Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut in the Le Mans Prototype Challenge class, just as he did at the 12 Hours of Sebring and the six hour race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The trio won their class in both those events and have also had strong overall results. This will be the first Petit Le Mans for Wilkins.
— A year ago, Australian driver Will Power was in a California hospital, wondering if his racing career was finished. He’d suffered a serious back injury at Sonoma and the future looked bleak.
Tomorrow (Saturday) at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Floria, Power could very well win the 2010 IZOD Indy Car Series championship. He’s 12 points ahead of second-place Dario Franchitti of Scotland and can win his first series title by finishing in front of Franchitti, who’s seeking his third championship.
Pre-race activities will start on TSN at 6 p.m. (or whenever the Argos football game ends) with the green flag set for closer to 7. Twenty-seven cars will start the race, but Paul Tracy won’t be in any of them.
— Jimmie Johnson continues his drive for five consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championships this weekend at Kansas Speedway as the Chase for the Championship continues. You can watch the race on TSN on Sunday at 1 p.m.
— And the 2010 Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Subaru and supported by Yokohama, continues with the fifth of six events in the series, the Pacific Forest Rally, at Merritt, B.C.
The event will see nearly 30 cars take to the forest today (Friday) and tomorrow for over 150Km of competitive distance.