Since NASCAR was the only major world series in action this weekend, and since the Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire was somewhat boring (not totally; just somewhat), this week’s Monday Morning Roundup will be more of a general notebook column.
But first, before we get to car racing, I have to take a moment to tee off on the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross officials for not insisting that leading rider Chad Reed go for a checkup before allowing him to rejoin Sunday’s race following a huge crash at the Spring Creek MX Park in Minnesota.
Reed was involved in one of the most incredible motorcycle crashes you will ever see. He came off his bike about 30 feet in the air, landed on the side of a hill, whacked his head something awful, and then got up, started his motorcycle and rejoined the race.
Watch the video below:
He was dead last when he got going again (I don’t like using that term in this context, but . . . ), passed more than 20 other racers and eventually finished 14th.
Reed is a nice guy. I’ve interviewed him twice in recent years and it’s been a pleasure talking to him. I’m appalled that he was allowed to get up and to keep going after that crash.
Remember Natasha Richardson? She was the actor who banged her head while skiing on a beginner’s hill in the Laurentians several years ago. She refused medical treatment, went back to her room and lapsed into a coma several hours later, eventually dying.
That’s what can happen when you whack your head. Reed should have been black-flagged and made to submit to an examination. Just because he’s apparently fine is no excuse.
Okay, let’s get down to business with . . . Formula One.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has been taking a hammering the last couple of weeks over the yellow journalism practiced by some of its publications.
You will recall that News Corp. (Rupert Murdoch, Prop.) has been jockying, with partners (the Exor Fund) to purchase Formula One group (which owns the commercial rights to the FIA F1 World Championship) from current majority owner CVC Capital Partners.
Some analysts have suggested that the difficulties News Corp. has been facing (the shutting down of the News of the World newspaper and the withdrawal of a bid to purchase BskyB, Britain’s biggest pay-TV broadcaster) will strangle its efforts to purchase F1.
I suggest nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, now that it’s got some extra billions to invest elsewhere, F1 could wind up as the prime target.
Now, some people associated with F1 – including the disgraced Max Mosley (see following item about his role in this saga) – vow that the sport will never have anything to do with Rupert Murdoch and News Corp.
But I am currently read a fascinating book called No Angel – The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone by investigative reporter Tom Bower, who has written unauthorized biographies of a number of successful, wealthy people including Richard Branson and Conrad Black, and if I’ve learned one thing from this book, it’s that Formula One people are fascinated by money. And the more of it, the better.
I’m not going to review the book here (that’s something for another time), but Ecclestone took a bunch of 1960s amateur enthusiasts who didn’t have a pot to urinate in – Ron Dennis, Frank Williams and Ken Tyrrell (Eddie Jordan came along later) – and made them rich beyond their wildest dreams.
In fact, except for Tyrrell, who died, they are all so wealthy and enjoy so much celebrity these days that it's all gone to their heads and they think that they are really smart. But at end of day, they’re still just a bunch of uneducated, unsophisticated garage mechanics and if you walked in front of them waving a fistful of $100 bills, they’d follow you just about anywhere.
So do not be surprised if News Corp, and partner Exor Fund (owned by the Agnelli family, which controls Fiat, which owns Ferrari ) make an offer to CVC that will be just too good to refuse. As well as cash that will eventually go to the teams, it might even include equity.
Of course, it’s all about pay TV now (or soon) and digital delivery of F1 races going forward and that, in the long run, means even more money. Partnering with a content delivery service is a no-brainer for F1.
Instead of being out of the F1 game because of the scandal, I suggest News Corp. is now even more into it.
– Okay, here’s an interesting tidbit about Max Mosley. You will recall that it was the News of the World that wrote the story (and put the video on its website) of Mosley cavorting with prostitutes. Mosley sued, claiming invasion of privacy, and although he won and was awarded damages, he was not satisfied.
Now, although the News of the World is dead and buried, it settled prior to its demise with several telephone hacking victims (I hope you’ve been following the story, because I don’t have time to explain it all here).
It turns out that Mosley, seeking even more revenge, has been underwriting legal costs and paying some court fees for some of the people who went after the newspaper. You can sum Mosley’s actions up in five words: "Don’t get mad, get even."
– Speaking of hacking, columnist Keith Waltz, writing in the late, lamented National Speed Sport News on Aug. 18, 2010, wondered: "If a driver is fined for something he posts on Twitter, is he or she then known as a nit-twit?"
I was reminded of that because of the continuing saga of Paul Tracy and the phantom Tweet on his Twitter account that accused IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard of bullying race officials at the Honda Indy Toronto into not giving Dario Franchitti a penalty for running into Will Power.
Tracy denies sending the Tweet and said his account was hacked. IndyCar is investigating and Tracy is reportedly cooperating.
– Okay, Ryan Newman won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Sunday. His boss, Stewart-Haas team owner Tony Stewart was second and Denny Hamlin was third. Jimmie Johnson spun and was still able to come back and finish in the top five.
It was not exactly thrilling. Everybody just about ran out of gas in the closing laps, as usual, and that seems to be the excitement trigger in NASCAR these days. Wow.
Newman and Stewart started one-two and finished that way. Wow.
Newman won the NASCAR Whelan Modified race on Saturday and the car was impounded afterward. It was sent to the NASCAR R & D centre in Charlotte for a once-over.
Newman had his usual Coca-Cola with him for his TV interview except it was a can this time instead of the usual bottle. He had the "Coca-Cola" label pointed directly at the camera, of course and as usual. Every time I see that, I run out and buy a Pepsi.
– Fox Sports was reporting that our own Jacques Villeneuve was at New Hampshire to shop around for a race ride or a race team. Said the 1997 World Champion: "There's two things: if I can get a good ride, I probably would not be looking at (buying a team) but the way the budgets are right now you might as well bring it yourself."
The Red Bull team is For Sale and if JV is going to get completely involved in Cup racing, that would be a good investment. And he’s got the money, so why not go for it?
Of course, not everybody would be happy to see him out there. After the Nationwide race at Road America a few weeks ago, when Villeneuve got a little crossed up and piled into a bunch of people, Kevin Harvick Tweeted:
"No respect here in NASCAR for @27villeneuve same reason they kicked his dumbass out of f1"
I don’t know if Jacques responded, but if he did ,it could have been something along the lines of:
"maybe if @kevinharvick ever won a big championship we could talk about the meaning of respect."
– Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que, who won the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race last weekend at the Honda Indy Toronto, didn’t have such a good result this weekend.
In the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Hampshire Friday, Ranger qualified a poor (for him) 25th in a field of 36 and then crashed out on Lap 55, officially finishing 33rd.
In the Nationwide Race Saturday – in which Kyle Busch won his 100th NASCAR career victory – Ranger (driving for the new GO Canada team in place of J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge) qualified 21st (out of 42) and was classified 28th after colliding with Mike Wallace late in the running.
– Steve Arpin of Fort Frances, Ont., started 13th in the NASCAR Camping World Series truck race at Iowa Speedway Saturday night and finished 13th. He’s being sponsored by Mike’s Hard Lemonade of Vancouver for five truck races.
– The World of Outlaws sprint cars will be at Ohsweken Speedway a week from Wednesday (the 27th) but the bad news today is that Joey Saldana likely won’t be in the saddle for that race. Saldana suffered a shattered right arm and broken ribs in an accident at Eldora Speedway in Ohio at the weekend and will likely be out for some time.
– Antoine L’Estage of St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and Nathalie Richard of Halifax won the New England Forest Rally in a Mitsubishi at the weekend but still finished second in the Rally America standings.
- And the American Le Mans Series will be at Mosport next weekend. More about that on this blog all week, starting Tuesday.