It’s amazing, what with all the media out there these days (Twitter, blogs, news sites, TV, radio, magazines, et al), that people have such short memories.
The Daily Telegraph in Britain is reporting that Bernie Ecclestone has admitted paying Gerhard Gribkowsky hush money so the German businessman wouldn’t tell the tax people in Britain about some of the things going on with an offshore trust that Ecclestone set up so his ex-wife Slavika won't have to pay through the nose when he dies.
All sorts of motorsport websites are linking to the story, or rewriting it so it looks like their own, and treating it as news.
The problem is, it ain't news. It's old news.
The German news magazine Focus reported three months ago, in April, that Ecclestone, who’s being investigated for bribing Gribkowsky over the sale of Formula One, told prosecutors that the German was extorting money from him and that he’d paid him off so that he wouldn’t go to authorities and spread rumours about some of his other business dealings.
This means two things. 1, Bernie might really be backed into a corner, this time. 2, Even with all this media around, people still aren't really paying attention to much of anything.
Daniel Morad of Markham has a ride in this weekend’s Firestone Indy Lights race in Edmonton. I consider Morad to be as good as Robert Wickens of Guelph and Toronto, who’s been tabbed as Canada’s next great Formula One hope.
Maybe Morad, who’s been having one-offs in Europe this season, is doing the smart thing. I suggest that he – and Wickens, for that matter – stand a much better chance of going to the top in North American single seaters than they ever will trying to survive the shark tank that’s the road to F1 overseas.
Is the career of a pretty high-profile IndyCar driver about to suffer a setback? Just wondering.
Scott Atherton is bullish on the future of the American Le Mans Series, which is racing in this weekend’s Mobil 1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport at the historic and storied road-racing circuit north of Bowmanville.
He has every right to be.
Atherton has watched the fortunes of the racing series ebb and flow — like just about everything else in life — since it was founded by Dr. Don Panoz late in the last century.
It’s been hugely successful at times, with upwards of 16 prototypes smashing track records just about everywhere the series has raced, and not so successful at others.
This season is one of those interesting ones in that the GT class (production sports cars) is solidly healthy, with Corvette, Ferrari, BMW and Jaguar – among others – doing serious battle every race weekend while the glamour-puss LMP1 prototype class is down to three or four.
But success is just around the corner and, in a year or two, the ALMS may very likely be on top of the mountain again.
In fact, it might very well be the darling of North America’s racing series as Formula One wanes and the manufacturers, who are being stifled to death in what very quickly is becoming a “spec” series, will move to sports cars in order to carry out their revolutionary research and development.
Now, all that is a couple of years away. What’s on the immediate horizon, however, is the Delta Wing and — fingers crossed — we should see it in action at Mosport next summer.
Now, the Delta Wing concept is an aerodynamic marvel that will have half the horsepower, half the fuel, half the weight and all of the performance of a conventional LMP1 racing car.
It was in the mix to be the next-generation Indy car in 2012 but that was rejected by a committee in favour of a more conventional-looking race car.
Shortly after the rejection, the racing world was delighted to hear that the concept has been invited to Le Mans next June. When Atherton and I had a phone conversation a few weeks ago, he talked about the Delta Wing.
“We have been very involved with this project for a long time now,” he said. “Our hope and expectation is that the car will make its racing debut at Sebring next March, to be part of the 60th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring. It would then go on to Le Mans. And then it would return to the American Le Mans Series and run a full season in the LMP1 category
“If our plans come to fruition and our hopes and expectation come true, that car will be on the grid next year at Mosport.”
Atherton said the Delta Wing fits right in with the ALMS “green” philosophy.
“If it (the Delta Wing) does what the engineers claim it is capable of doing, keeping in mind that this is what you came up with when you threw away all the conventional wisdom and started with, literally, a clean screen and you said, ‘Okay, if we were to design a car to optimize everything we know about aerodynamics, lightweight material, about environmental fuels, about down force, drag, etc. etc., what would the shape be and what would the results be? That was the criteria and that's what they ended with: the Delta Wing racing car.
“When it races with us, it will be in an LMP form so it'll have a duel cockpit configuration, as is the case with all of our prototypes. But you can imagine the paradigme shift that is potentially in play here with what I just described. At a time when the auto industry is being mandated by government to achieve unprecedented mileage numbers — 27 mpg in 2016 and 56 mpg by 2025 — and when you talk to the engineers at General Motors and Ford and all the big ones, they say that that technology doesn't exist today; the ability to get to those types of numbers doesn't exist. It will have to come from unprecedented innovation.
“And that's where I feel our series delivers. Back in the early days of auto racing, it was all about improving the breed — Louis Chevrolet was racing Henry Ford to demonstrate who had the better combination when it came to performance and reliability. in its earliest forms — and yet when you come forward to today, most of racing is dominated by ‘spec’ — spec tires, spec chassis, spec engines, spec fuel. Everything’s the same. It just completely kills all innovation and that's where the ALMS stands out.
“The Delta Wing got away from IndyCar and their loss is our gain.”