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Sebastien Vettel is back where he belongs – on the pole for a Formula One race.
After an "off" weekend last week in Germany, Vettel put the hammer down in Hungary today and took the pole away from Lewis Hamilton for Sunday’s Grand Prix (7:55 a.m., TSN).
"Yes, yes!" said the world champion to his crew over the team radio. "That is what I was talking about."
Jenson Button will line up third, with Felipe Massa fourth, Fernando Alonso fifth and Mark Webber sixth.
The difference between the pole time of Vettel and the sixth-place time of his Red Bull-Renault teammate Webber was 6/100ths of a second.
Alonso had been the pace-setter most of the weekend and it was a huge surprise to see him drop to fifth in the final shootout, even finishing behind his Ferrari teammate Massa, who’d nearly lost his life at the Hungaroring several years ago but is obviously not cowed by the place.
Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil, Michael Schumacher and Sergio Perez are the other drivers in the top ten.
– F1 teams have learned that even if they object to F1 races going to pay television (see post below), there’s nothing they can do about it. Having said that, the teams are all going to get a lot more money out of this deal and so, as you can imagine, are all quite happy about it.
The World of Outlaws raced in Brockville last night (Tony Stewart won the race at the Brantford-area Ohsweken Speedway Wednesday night) and the victory went to Tennessee driver Paul McMahan with Jason Meyers second and Craig Dollansky third.
A lot of Canadian 360 sprint cars made the show, led by 14th-place finisher Rick Wilson of Joyceville. Many of those guys (and girls) run with the SOS series and I would suggest it would be a big thrill for them to be out there running against legends like Sammy Swindell and Steve Kinser.
That got your attention, didn’t it? (The F1 report is down below.)
Several days before NASCAR star Tony Stewart took on the World of Outlaws sprint car regulars at Ohsweken Speedway and beat them (that happened Wednesday night at the Six Nations Reserve track near Brantford), another Sprint Cup regular, Kasey Kahne, was racing with the Outlaws at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania.
This is what happened: watch video here
Kahne survived but it was a close call and his NASCAR employers might be having a talk with him, even as we speak, considering that the NASCAR circus is in Indianapolis for a race Sunday.
Stewart and Kahne are throwbacks to the old days of barnstorming racing drivers, or "Outlaw" drivers, who didn’t race regularly at a particular track or in a particular series but showed up now and again to beat the regulars and make off with the prize pot, which was usually large, which attracted them in the first place.
The locals didn’t like ‘em in the old days and – if truth be told – the regular Outlaw tour drivers today probably don’t really like ‘em all that much either. I mean, Tony and Kasey might be okay guys but Stewart won $10,000 at Ohsweken Wednesday night and that’s a pay packet any one of the other tour regulars would have been very happy to pocket.
The World of Outlaws series is at Brockville Speedway tonight and in Drummondville, Que., tomorrow night. Stewart and Kahne won’t be there.
By the way, an aside: If Kahne is not in the NASCAR Chase for the Championship, it is a good bet he will be in an Indy car at Las Vegas in mid-October for that final IZOD IndyCar Series race in which a $5 million bonus will be paid to any outsider (or "Outlaw") who can beat the regulars.
FORMULA ONE GOING TO PAY TV
I have been suggesting for some time now that as more and more countries balk at continuing to pay extortion money in the millions to Bernie Ecclestone for the pleasure of presenting F1 races on their home soil, the chances of making you and me pay to watch the races on special pay TV channels has been increasing.
Well, the penny dropped today when it was revealed that Britain’s BBC (where TSN gets its signal) will only carry half the races next year and the rest will go on Sky TV, which is a pay TV channel in Britain that charges more than 30 British pounds a month ($45 a month Canadian) for its sports package of soccer, rugby and – now – F1 races.
Canada was the first to call Berni’s bluff and is now paying a sanctioning fee that is significantly lower than it was previously. We lost our race for a year but it paid off (at least in the short term). Other countries are starting to follow suit. Australia has served notice it no longer will pay up, as has the local and state government where the Nurburgring is located in Germany, and so-on. Even Malaysia, Singapore and China have been rumbling about the costs. (It seems that only the newbies, India and the U.S., are willing to fork over outrageous amounts, but give them a few years and they'll see the light.)
F1 is going to have to get the money from somewhere, so guess what? Get ready to shell out.
It’s too early to say what the implications are for Canadian fans in the short term but I’ll bet you right now that within five years (and maybe a lot sooner), you’ll have to pay Rogers or Bell a pretty penny to watch those races.
They already have Major League Baseball packages you can buy, and NHL and NFL packages, and WWE wrestling pay-per-view and MMA pay-per-view.
How does F1 pay-per-view sound?
Meantime, it’s still free (okay, you have to pay a cable fee to get "free" TV, but you get my drift) and you can watch qualifying from Hungary tomorrow at 7:55 a.m. and the race on Sunday at the same time – all on TSN. Lewis Hamilton’s still hot, with Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Mark Webber and Sebastien Vettel rounding out the top five in practice today.
NASCAR, of course, is in Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400 (TSN Sunday at noon; green flag at 1 p.m. approx.) The Camping World Truck Series will race on SPEED tonight at 7:30 – they’re at Lucas Oil Raceway (which used to be Indianapolis Raceway Park) – and the Nationwide Series will race on TSN2 Saturday night at 7:30, also at the Lucas Oil track.
No IndyCar this week. They go to Mid-Ohio next weekend for a double-header with the ALMS.
Posted at 11:36 AM in American Le Mans Series, Auto racing, Camping World Truck Series, Formula One, Grand Prix of Canada, IZOD IndyCar Series, NASCAR, Racing, Racing on TV, Sports, Sprint cars, World of Outlaws | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
If anybody ever asks how come NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers are the most popular racers in North America, here’s the answer.
Tony Stewart was having so much fun racing sprint cars at Ohsweken Speedway over on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford Tuesday night that he told the sellout crowd that he was going to stick around and run a race with the World of Outlaws Wednesday night.
Which he did — and not only did he race with the Outlaws, he beat them.
Stewart won the annual Six Nations Shootout over Steve (King) Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Jason Sides, Craig Dollansky and the rest of the Outlaws regulars.
And he did it with style.
Stewart is a short-track racer at heart (the Indy cars are his natural home in the big leagues but NASCAR is where the money is) and has raced lots of times with the Outlaws but had never won a feature till Wednesday night.
Here’s what he had to say afterward click on video here.
Stewart originally went to Ohsweken for a Tuesday night show featuring the Corr/Pal Sprint Car Series, which stars his girlfriend, Jessica Zemken of Syracuse.
A Meet & Greet Tony Stewart reception attracted 300 people (at $50 a pop) and then Stewart started 24th in the feature, fighting his way up to third at the checkers.
Zemken had difficulties and finished mid-pack. Wednesday night, she made it into the Outlaws feature through the B Main and was 14th.
When Stewart told the assembled fans on Tuesday that he wanted to stay and race on Wednesday, he explained that one of the reasons was his relationship with Zemken.
“There’s nothing she likes more than to beat me at places like this,” he laughed.
The Outlaws are travelling along the 401 today to Brockville for a race there Friday night. From there they go to Drummondville, Que., before heading back to the U.S.
Here is the finishing order of the race at Ohsweken last night.
A-Main — (30 Laps) — 1. 14S-Tony Stewart  [$10,000]; 2. 1-Sammy Swindell  [$5,500]; 3. 14-Jason Meyers  [$3,200]; 4. 9-Brad Sweet  [$2,800]; 5. 7S-Jason Sides  [$2,500]; 6. 15-Donny Schatz  [$2,300]; 7. 83-Paul McMahan  [$2,200]; 8. 6R-Bill Rose  [$2,100]; 9. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr.  [$2,050]; 10. 11-Steve Kinser  [$2,000]; 11. 7X-Jamie Collard  [$1,500]; 12. 32-Justin Barger  [$1,200]; 13. 6-Kraig Kinser  [$1,100]; 14. 1Z-Jessica Zemken  [$1,050]; 15. 77X-Wayne Johnson  [$1,000]; 16. 63-Chad Kemenah  [$900]; 17. 2M-Dustin Daggett  [$800]; 18. O1-Mikey Kruchka  [$800]; 19. 91-Cody Darrah  [$800]; 20. 5-Keith Dempster  [$800]; 21. O-Glenn Styres  [$800]; 22. 5W-Lucas Wolfe  [$800]; 23. 80-Chris Steele  [$800]; 24. 7K-Kyle Moffit  [$800]. Lap Leaders: Brad Sweet 1-9, Tony Stewart 10-30. KSE Hard Charger Award: 15-Donny Schatz [+14].
See the video below
One of my favourite writers is the American, Tom Wolfe. He wrote a story one time in the Sixties about the California car culture and the title was, "There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby" and anybody who can write a story with a title on it like that is all right with me.
Like Wolfe, I sometimes write in the present tense, mainly because I’m too lazy to stick to the rules of grammar when I write in the past or the future tenses. It’s easier to be now, as he would say.
Wolfe’s trademark is his white suit. Many years ago, when I was young and skinny, I dressed in a white suit once and I thought I looked like him but then some woman told me I looked like Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice so I put it away and I never wore it again. (That’s kind of how Wolfe writes, if you’ve never read his stuff.)
There’s a point here. Tom Wolfe wrote a lot of sentences that ended with an exclamation mark! He wrote a story once called "The Last American Hero is Junion Johnson. Yes!" and the reason I’m bringing this up today is because I really, really would have loved to see what Tom Wolfe would have done with a guy like Joe Nelms to write about.
Nelms is a Nashville pastor who delivered the invocation before a NASCAR race last Saturday night and he gave thanks to God for Goodyear and Sunoco and every thing and everybody in between, including his "smokin' hot wife!"
I can tell you right now that the name of the Tom Wolfe article on Joe Nelms would have been, "The Best NASCAR Pre-Race Invocation Ever. Yes!"
Watch the video below:
On Monday, Nelms, of Nashville’s First Baptist Church, said he didn’t want to do "cookie-cutter prayers (a shot at NASCAR’S many ‘cookie-cutter' race tracks, incidentally)" and told Serius Satellite Radio’s Tradin’ Paint program that, "I want to get somebody’s attention, so that’s been our desire every time we’ve been up there, to try to make an impact on the fans and give them something they’ll remember and maybe they’ll go home on a Friday night or a Saturday night and say, ‘Maybe I ought to get up and go to church in the morning.’ "
Some people would say Amen to that, but I just say Yes!
When you’re on assignment at one race (the American Le Mans Series race at Mosport, see post below), it’s a challenge trying to keep up with what’s going on elsewhere. But here goes.
Formula One: When I turned on my recording equipment Sunday night to watch the race, I wondered if I’d somehow (or it somehow) made a mistake. There were three guys on the podium, all right, but Sebastien Vettel wasn’t among them.
There was Lewis Hamilton, the winner, with Fernando Alonso second and Mark Webber third. I had to go back further to watch Vettel cross the line in fourth, with Felipe Massa fifth.
Good grief! That’s the first time Vettel hasn’t been on the podium in eons! And as I rolled the recording backwards even further, I actually saw him spin!
What is the world coming to?
I refuse to believe there are chinks in that guy’s armour. Maybe he didn’t like the chilly weather in Germany (unlike the sweltering heat at Mosport). Maybe he got out of bed on the wrong side.
Whichever, he will be back in form again soon and at the end of the season we’ll find out what was really going on this weekend (maybe his girlfriend dumped him, or Red Bull racing czar Helmut Marko didn't say good morning to him. Or something).
Anyway, a fast-forward review of the race showed Hamilton deserved to win and it was a fighting Alonso who managed to make it into second. The championship is over but those guys are showing that they’ll go down swinging.
Three things to chew on between now and the next race in Hungary next weekend . . .
– Although there is a contract to hold this race through 2016, the government has informed B. Ecclestone, et al, that this was the last German Grand Prix to receive a huge public subsidy. So add Germany to the growing list of countries where the government has said enough!
It won’t happen for a few years but every time there is one of these announcements, the closer F1 is to going on pay television. Trust me. It’s coming and it will happen sooner than anybody realizes. Regardless of what Bernie says.
– Timo Glock has signed a contract to race for Virgin F1 through the 2014 season. Is that nuts, or what? Glock finished 17th on Sunday, three laps behind the winner. Just the kind of guy you want to sign to a long-term contract, right?
– Although he sat out the German Grand Prix, Lotus insists it wants to sign Jarno Trulli to a contract for 2012. Is that nuts, or what? Trulli finished 23rd in the last race, the British GP. And his replacement for this weekend, Karun Chandhock, finished 20th, four laps behind, in Germany. Why would Lotus want to keep either one of those guys?
IZOD IndyCar Series: So after not calling any penalties for avoidable contact in Toronto two weeks ago, when there were a whole bunch of avoidable accidents, the IndyCar race officials were handing them out left, right and centre in Edmonton on Sunday.
Alex Tagliani, Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay received drive-throughs for plowing into people. E.J. Viso would have received one also but Race Control determined that since he lost a lap in his accident it was penalty enough.
Somebody else who would have qualified was Graham Rahal, who was knocked off the track on the first lap and proceeded to drive right back on and into the path of Canada’s own Paul Tracy. The ensuing collision put them both out - so no penalty.
Tracy would have had every right to be boiling over with anger at Rahal’s stupidity but since he did the same thing at San Jose a few years ago (and drove into the side of fellow Canadian Tagliani at the time) he probably figured what the hell: what goes around comes around.
In any event, Will Power won the race Sunday on the newly configured City Centre Airport circuit with last year’s winner Helio Castroneves second (what? He didn’t win last year? Oh, yeah – that’s right. They penalized him for blocking. The phantom block; maybe that’s why he was on his best behaviour this year . . .) and Dario Franchitti finished third.
Top Canadian was James Hinchcliffe, who finished 15th, while Tag was 17th and Tracy was officially 26th and last.
Top woman was . . . guess who? Danica Patrick in ninth.
Next race is in two weeks on a twin bill with the American Le Mans Series at Mid-Ohio.
Question: should the ALMS race in Toronto with the Indy cars or should the Indy cars race at Mosport with the ALMS?
They had a whopping big crowd at Mosport for the ALMS. I suggest records could be broken if the Indy cars returned to their natural road-course home. Put those two series together for a weekend and it would be like the grand old days of Formula One out there.
One last observation. I don’t recall race promoters ever getting as many pats on the back as Octane Motorsport Events has as the result of the Edmonton race. It strikes me as being a bit over the top when newspaper columnists as well as the sanctioning body positively gush over somebody doing their job.
Is there something going on? I mean, there have been rumours that Octane would like to take over promotion of the Toronto Indy. So is this part of the campaign?
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series: Scott Steckly of Milverton, Ont., driving a Canadian Tire-sponsored Dodge, won the NASCAR Canada race Saturday night at the Motoplex Speedway and Event Park in Vernon, B.C., a race he won a year ago. It was Steckly’s 10th career victory and his first since he won the season opener at Mosport Speedway in May.
Defending series champion D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas, who led a race-high 135 laps, finished a close second in his familiar Castrol Edge Dodge while Kerry Micks of Mt. Albert, Ont., was third in his Dickies/Beyond Digital Imaging Ford.
Ron Beauchamp Jr. of Windsor and Mark Dilley of Barrie completed the top five. Don Thomson Jr. of Hamilton was sixth with Pete Shepherd III of Brampton seventh and J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge eighth. Nathan Weenk of Lethbridge was ninth and Jim White of Kamloops completed the top 10.
The race was slowed 12 times by caution; the race lead exchanged hands eight times among three drivers. In the point standings, Steckly increased his lead over Kennington to 97 points. Fitzpatrick remains in third followed by Thomson and Micks.
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will race at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon on Wednesday.
Other racing: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series had the weekend off and drivers will next saddle up for the Brickyard 400 at Indy next weekend. The "400," by the way, represents the number of fans they’re expecting at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. . .
Even the Sprint Cup guys like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who own teams in the Nationwide and Camping World Trucks took the weekend off and put other drivers in their vehicles.
One guy who should have taken a weekend off was Kasey Kahne, who decided to do a little World of Outlaws sprint car racing and went flying right out of the ballpark at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania.
Kahne won’t be running with them but the Outlaws will be at Ohsweken Speedway on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford on Wednesday night. From there, they go to Brockville Speedway and to race tracks in Quebec before heading back to the U.S.A.
Meantime, it was not the greatest of days for Canadians in the Grand Am Series races in New Jersey.
In the Rolex Sports Car race, the AIM Autosport of Woodbridge No. 61 Daytona Prototype normally wheeled by Mark Wilkins of Toronto and American Burt Frisselle was MIA from the race won by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.
In the Continental Tire race, Paul Dalla Lana of Toronto finished sixth in the race won by Billy Johnson and Jack Roush Jr. Karl Thomson of Toronto, driving for his Compass 360 Racing team, finish 21st overall and 9th in the ST class. Scott Maxwell of Toronto was 46th overall and classified 20th in the GS class. Ashley McCalmont of Dundas was 49th overall and 23rd in GS.
Posted at 12:04 AM in American Le Mans Series, Auto racing, Camping World Truck Series, Formula One, Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series, IZOD IndyCar Series, Mosport International Raceway, NASCAR Canadian Tire, Racing, Road racing, Sports, Sprint cars, Truck racing | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
German drivers Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf might have won the Mobil 1-sponsored Grand Prix of Mosport on Sunday but the story of the race was the short-lived charge of Barrie’s Kyle Marcelli, the Canadian hero of Saturday’s qualifying session.
Graf, driving the second stint of the race for the Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing team in the Prototype 1 class, covered 129 laps of the 2.45-mile Mosport track in the two-hour, 45-minute timed feature. Second overall, and on the same lap, came the P1 Lola/Mazda of American Chris Dyson and Englishman Guy Smith.
Third overall and first in the Prototype Challenge class, was the Oreca FLM09 raced by Gunnar Jeannette of Salt Lake City and Ricardo Gonzalez of Monterrey, Mex., who finished two laps behind the overall winner.
Marcelli had qualified fourth overall, and first in the Prototype Challenge class, with a stunning run on Saturday. However, the team opted to have his teammate, Chapman Ducote, of Miami, start the race and he quickly fell back to seventh overall and third in class.
Marcelli replaced Ducote at the first available opportunity (every driver in an ALMS endurance race has to drive at least 45 minutes) and was mounting a charge when he was clipped by a spinning GT Challenge Porsche 911 being driven by U.S. driver Chris Cumming.
Interestingly, Cumming was spinning because he`d been hit by Marcelli`s Intersport Racing teammate, Jon Field, of Dublin, Ohio.
The accident ended Marcelli’s day and any promise of a good finish by the talented young Canadian.
“I guarantee that we would have been one of the cars to watch for the (class) win in that race,” Marcelli said later at his transporter office. "I did my job in qualifying yesterday (a class track record of 1 minute, 11.331 seconds, which translates into 124.103 miles an hour) to show everybody what we can do.
"Then in the race, I got in the car and immediately set the quick lap of the race and was catching up with the leader when, unfortunately, I ran into some circumstances that put us out. But we`ll regroup and we know what we can do and we`ll go on to the next race (in two weeks at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course)."
The start was ragged – the first six rows were way ahead of the rest of the field – but Luhr, who drove the first stint of the race for the winning team, wasted no time taking the lead and was well in front by the end of the first lap. He set a torrid pace and was lapping some of the tail-end GT Challenge cars shortly after starting his fifth circuit.
After that, the delight of watching sports car racing came when either Luhr or Graf would come upon a gaggle of GT and/or GT Challenge cars fighting it out in their own race and start picking their way through.
Sometimes, there would be miscommunication between a much faster and slower car. For instance, on Lap 29, the LMP1 car being driven by Toronto’s Tony Burgess and Johannes Van Overbeek’s GT Ferrari collided and brought out the safety car.
Nobody was hurt but the full course yellow closed up the field and mixed up the order. In fact, because of ALMS regulations, prototypes and GT cars have to pit on different laps and Luhr was forced to stay out longer than he would have liked.
But the time he pitted and emerged with fuel and fresh tires, he was last for the restart and had to tip-toe his way through the field, all the way to the front. It was interesting to watch him do it, to say the least.
Said Luhr: "It was the first time it happened to me (being shuffled all the way to the back) but there`s always a first time for everything in motor racing. I was very angry because I knew now that we were dead last. I was screaming on the radio (he thought ALMS officials had screwed up by opening the pits after he'd gone past the entrance) but they said on the radio (his team) that everybody should calm down and put the hammer down and see where we end up.
"I was very aggressive in traffic. When it came time to take the lead, I said to myself, 'I'm going through, no matter what!` I passed Chris Dyson on the hill up to Turn 2 and that was it." He handed off to Graf soon afterward.
Said the driver who brought the Aston Martin Lola to Winner`s Circle for the second time in two years: "Lucas did an awesome job but we both had to push very hard today. You have to have a lot of experience to drive a race like this. The speed differences are so high that you really have to anticipate what the other driver is going to do. Over the years, you get that kind of second sense."
Jan Magnussen of Denmark and Oliver Gavin of England won the GT class for Corvette Racing and Spencer Pumpelly and Duncan Ende of Los Angeles won the GT Challenge class in a Porsche 911.
Earlier, Don Panoz of Atlanta, Ga., the multi-millionaire inventor of the nicotine patch who’d owned Mosport since the late 1990s, officially passed the torch to new Canadian owners Ron Fellows, Alan Boughton and Carlo Fidani, who purchased the facility in May.
Panoz thanked “the Canadian fans for their friendship and enthusiasm” and wished the new company, Motorsport Ventures Ltd., the best of luck.
Notes: Both Graf and Luhr celebrated birthdays in the days leading up to the Grand Prix. . . Other races Sunday at Mosport: In the U.S.-based IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge, Tim McKenzie took the checkered flag for the second day in a row. 6th Gear Racing’s Marco Cirone was the winner for the second consecutive day in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada. . . In the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship, Jonathon Gore won the second of the two races that took place over the weekend, with a total time of 30:18.333. . . João Victor Horto of Brazil won the Star Mazda Championship race after qualifying in fifth position the day before. . . In the Castrol Touring Car Championship, Ashton’s Arek Wojciechowski edged King City native Richard Boake with an exciting last turn pass to win the Super Touring Class by a mere 0.014. Amherstburg’s Dean Fantin finished third. Trois-Rivieres, Que., resident Luc Lesage won in the Touring class.
Germany’s Klaus Graf might have won the overall pole for Sunday’s American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Mosport but the hero of the afternoon on Saturday was 21-year-old driver Kyle Marcelli of Barrie.
Marcelli set the fastest lap and won the pole in the LMP Challenge class with a time of 1 minute and 11.331 seconds (124.103 miles an hour), which smashed the lap record for the class of 1:11:455 that was set at Mosport a year ago.
Marcelli will start the two-hour, 45-minute timed race from the fourth position.
Graf’s time of 1:08:679 (128.895 mph), set in a Porsche Spyder Prototype, was fastest of the four LMP1 cars entered in the Grand Prix. Chris Dyson of Pleasant Valley, N.Y., will start second overall in an LMP1 Lola/Mazda.
Marcelli, who’s in his second year of ALMS competition, was thrilled to be fastest in his class and fourth overall.
“We unloaded off the trailer quick,” he said in explaining that the car was fast right out of the gate. “That was the key. With these cars, there’s a window and if you’re in that window you’re golden and if you’re outside of it you’re lost. We pulled up this weekend in that window.”
In June, Marcelli won his class in a European Le Mans Series race at Imola in Italy (he finished on the podium at Lime Rock, Conn., two weeks ago) and acknowledged that he was on a bit of a roll.
“We brought a lot of momentum with us this weekend,” he said. “I think it gave me a lot of confidence coming back to the ALMS.”
Sports-car racing of the American Le Mans Series variety is made up of four classes, running from the sleek LMP1 Prototypes (cars designed especially for the race track) to the Grand Touring Challenge class (GTC) – souped-up versions of automobiles that the buying public can purchase off the showroom floor entered by privateers rather than factories.
In between are the Prototype Challenge class (LMPC), which is made up of slightly less-powerful prototypes while the GT class is made up of factory teams representing Corvette, BMW, Jaguar, Ferrari and Porsche.
In addition to Graf and Marcelli, pole winners were Dirk Mueller of Switzerland in GT and Damien Faulkner of Ireland in GTC.
Although impressive, all times were significantly slower than the all-time qualifying record set in 2008 by Italian driver Dindo Capello, who drove an Audi R10 diesel around the 10-turn, 2.45-mile Mosport circuit in 1 minute and 4.094 seconds, which translates into an average speed of 138.116 mph – scary fast.
The speed of the circuit was not lost on Graf, who will be partnered in Sunday’s race by another German, Lucas Luhr.
“We only brake hard about twice the whole lap,” said the driver who not only won the pole for last year’s Grand Prix but the race itself.
“There are a lot of fast places; if you look at the speeds, you say to yourself, ‘This is unreal.’ So it takes a lot of experience and a lot of confidence in the car to go fast here.”
Graf, who suffered a crash during practice earlier in the day, said Mosport suits his style of driving. “I have a feel for high-speed corners,” he said. “I’m not the biggest fan of slow chicanes so a fast track like this one is suits my natural driving skills.”
Graf also let be known that while many of the spectators and other drivers were sweltering in the Southern Ontario heat, he was quite comfortable because his enclosed racing car has air conditioning.
“It is a rule (of the French automobile club that establishes the rules for Le Mans-style racing) that the temperature inside an enclosed cockpit has to be within seven degrees Celsius of the ambient temperature.”
He explained that there is a thermometer inside the car and if it gets too hot the team can receive a penalty.
Sunday’s feature race will go to the post at 3 p.m. and 30 cars are expected to take the green flag.
In addition to Marcelli, two other Canadians will drive in the race. Tony Burgess of Toronto will start eighth in an LMP1 Lola and Ken Wilden of Toronto will go off 24th in a Jaguar XKR.
All drivers have co-drivers. Wilden, for instance, will be partnered by Indy car driver Bruno Junqueira.
Mark Webber, driving his Red Bull-Renault, was the surprise winner of the pole at the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring Saturday, with Lewis Hamilton a surprise second for McLaren-Mercedes and Webber’s teammate, Sebastien Vettel, a surprising third.
Fernando Alonso was a surprising fourth in a Ferrari and his teammate, Felipe Massa, was fifth.
Everything and everybody was surprising (except Massa) because Vettel was expected to win the pole and Alonso, the winner of the last GP in Britain, was expected to challenge him.
The race goes Sunday morning on TSN at 7:55 a.m.
In the IZOD IndyCar Series race at Edmonton, Takuka Sato of Japan was the surprise pole winner (what's with all these surprises this weekend?) with Will Power of Australia second and Scott Dixon of New Zealand third.
Series defending champion Dario Franchitti goes off fourth while E.J. Viso (all together now: what a surprise!) qualified fifth.
Top Canadian is James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, who will go off 10th. Alex Tagliani starts 17th and Paul Tracy will start 25th out of 26th.
In the first Indy Lights race of the weekend, won by Esteban Guerrieri of Argentina, Maple's David Ostella and Markham's Daniel Morad were eliminated early when they crashed into each other.
Other Mosport races Saturday:
Tim McKenzie of Madison, Wis., won his fourth race of the season from pole in Round 8 of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada held the first of two races this weekend. Marco Cirone of 6th Gear Racing was the winner.
The Cooper Tires Prototype Lites also held their first of two weekend races. Toronto’s Robert Sabato was the winner after starting from pole positon.
For Sabato, leading the Lites 2 championship with four straight victories, the race was a lesson in survival as his No. 22 6th Gear Racing West WR1000 started giving him problems right at the start.
“I had a great start,” said Sabato. “Then the car stopped shifting. I was having a good time chasing the guys in front of me then it just wouldn’t shift anymore, I kept thinking I was going to lose it. The yellows helped because it cooled things down but I had to get a good jump on the restart because I saw my teammate behind me. It was close!”
Windsor native Michal Chlumecky finished second. 6th Gear’s Max De Angelis, also from Windsor, finished fourth, just missing a 6th Gear podium sweep.
Saturday's racing also saw the Castrol Touring Car Championship run the first leg of their weekend doubleheader. After winning the pole in qualifying, Mississauga's Sasha Anis took the checkered flag in the Super Touring Class. The Markham duo of Gary and Tom Kwok finished one-two in the Touring Class.
Ontario driver Scott Steckly won the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race in B.C. and Jason Meyers won the World of Outlaws feature at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania. The Outlaws will be at the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford next Wednesday. Don't miss that show. It'll blow your mind.
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.”
BORIS SAID RECOMMENDS HIM TO NASCAR TEAM OWNER
Fantastic news today about a talented young Canadian racing driver.
Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond., Que., who won the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race at the Honda Indy Toronto several weeks ago, has signed to drive the No. 32 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owned bv Frank Stoddard’s Fas Lane Racing team in the Aug. 14th Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Ranger, 23, previously drove for two seasons in the Champ Car World Series following two years in Formula Atlantic. Since switching to stock cars, he’s a two-time Canadian Tire Series champion and the winner of races in other NASCAR regional racing series.
Stoddard is in his first season as a team owner and has relied on seasoned veterans like Terry Labonte, Mike Skinner, Ken Schrader, Mike Bliss and another Canadian, Patrick Carpentier, to keep his team in the top 35 in owner points.
Now he says he wants to give a young, promising driver a chance to show his stuff and has chosen Ranger.
“I’ve followed the progression of this young and exceptional driver for a few years,” Stoddard said in a release. “Then veteran Boris Said recommended Andrew as one of the top prospects in motor racing. His two NASCAR Canada championships, his wins in K&N East, K&N West and ARCA convinced me that he’s the best driver to tackle that road course for us.”
Said Ranger: “I am truly overwhelmed that Mr. Stoddard is giving me that great opportunity. It’s been five years now that I left single seater racing to undertake a challenging stock-car career. To drive in the Sprint Cup series is a dream come true and a huge step. I want to show him he made the right choice.”
Now, it’s going to be interesting to see how Ranger conducts himself in Sprint Cup competition. In the Canadian Tire Series, he has been observed – and accused by other drivers of – racing rough. He has too much talent for that nonsense but that hasn’t stopped him in the NASCAR Canada series.
It’s my bet that he won’t be trying any of that nonsense now that he’s in the big leagues. Can you imagine Kevin Harvick’s reaction if he did to him what he’s done previously to drivers like Scott Steckly and Alex Tagliani?
Let’s hope it was all just youthful exuberance and now that he’s arrived at the top of the mountain he realizes he’s going to get ahead further and faster if he races clean.
You want proof of that? Look no further than Ron Fellows.
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