Fernando Alonso won the German Grand Prix (details here), Helio Castroneves won the IZOD IndyCar race in Edmonton (details here) and Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr won the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Mosport (details and rolling blog here).
I was at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park all weekend for the ALMS, so didn’t see the F1 or IndyCar races, other than watching the highlights on TV. So here are just some meanderings on a Monday morning about what took place over the weekend.
1. The ALMS race ended on schedule at 2:45 p.m. and the podium ceremony was held immediately after. Jorge Bergmeister and Patrick Long stood on the top step of the podium as winners of the GT class in their Porsche 911 GT3.
They got to spray the champagne and were interviewed by three different television reporters as well as the track’s PA announcer. They went with the other winners to the post-race press conference and answered questions. Then, presumably, they went off to celebrate.
At a little after 5 p.m., more than two hours later, I was putting away my computer after filing my race story to the Star’s sports department and putting the finishing touches to the online blog I’d kept going most of the weekend when a photographer hurried into the media room and said these words to an ALMS official:
"What’s the 45 car still doing in tech?"
The "45 car" was the winning car in the GT class.
The ALMS official said he didn’t know but would go and find out.
"Mind if I tag along?" I asked, and away we went.
Half way to the tech centre, we ran into the series’ main tech inspector who looked at my official friend and shook his head.
"DQ’d," he said, meaning disqualified.
What was the problem?
"Failed the stall test," the tech inspector said.
The stall test on a normally aspirated engine is done by blocking off the air-intake valves and trying to start it. If there’s no air getting in, it can’t start.
It started – which meant air was getting in somewhere; Bergmeister and Long might have had an advantage from the extra air during the race.
So the second-place car in GT – the Ferrari of Van Overbeek and Sharp – moved up a notch and the car that finished fourth in class on track, the BMW of Joey Hand of Sacramento, Calif., and Dirk Muller of Germany, became third in the official results.
2. The podium ceremony at ALMS races is nuts.
Twenty six cars were entered at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park this weekend and each car had two drivers so there were 52 drivers in the race. There were five classes of cars — P1, P2, PC, GT and GTC. Each class rewards the first three cars (see where this is going?)
So 28 drivers showed up for the podium ceremony. There would have been 30, except there were only two cars entered in P2.
Anyway, more than half the drivers in the field were on the podium and that seems – to me, anyway – to be a little much.
3. Klaus Graf has won the pole for this race the last three years and has gone on to win the race each time and good for him. Muscle Milk Pickett Racing is a top-notch team and his co-drivers, Lucas Luhr this year and last, and Romain Demas the year before that, have been formidable teammates.
But, you know, Graf doesn’t have any real competition. It’s been a walk in the park. If the ALMS wants to grow, and to thrive, it’s got to talk someone – Roger Penske, maybe? – or some manufacturer – Audi, maybe? – to step up and take this guy and this team on.
Otherwise, it’ll get boring.
4. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, like all the other motorsport entities around, won’t issue attendance figures. But there was a big crowd on hand for the race. On driver’s left, going from turn four down to where the track starts to sweep up into Moss Corner, people were standing shoulder to shoulder behind the fence and I haven’t seen that for years.
And that was the road course. As I drove out of the place Saturday night, I was surprised to see the Mosport Speedway stands were packed solid (much like Merrittville’s were when I was there three weeks ago. Who wants to say that short-track racing isn’t thriving in southern Ontario?)
In any event, the big draw Saturday night at the Mosport oval was the OSCAAR late model stock cars and they, my friends, are rockets. You should check to see where they’re running next and take in a show. Those guys in those cars were well worth it.
5. It’s plain that the new owners of the old Mosport are hot on the trail of a NASCAR race (will it be the trucks, or the Nationwide stockers, or – dare I dream – the Cup cars that come?)
In any event, there have to be 43 pit stalls to accommodate any of those series, which means the old control tower that has stood since 1962 will either have to come down or be moved and that could happen sooner rather than later if a NASCAR race is to be reality in 2013.
The new corporate centre is being built as we speak. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is lookin’ pretty good.
5A. If a NASCAR race becomes reality, will the Grand Am Rolex Series be far behind? And will the Grand Am and the ALMS be able to co-exist at the same facility? Just wondering.
6. When I heard about (and later saw) Sebastien Vettel’s off-track pass of Jenson Button near the end of the German Grand Prix Sunday (he was subsequently penalized 20 seconds, moving him from second to fifth – although, like Bergmeister/Long at Mosport it was after the podium ceremony – the first thing I thought of was Alex Zanardi’s pass of Bryan Herta in a CART race at Laguna Seca in 1996.
In Germany, they had stewards to look at the circumstances and determine a penalty, if any. In California in the Nineties, Zanardi’s audacity caught everyone by surprise and it was only much later that people were saying that it shouldn’t have counted, that Zanardi left the race track to make the pass.
Even today, Herta will tell you it was illegal (you decide: take a look here).
7. I don’t know what D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas has been putting in his coffee but at Edmonton Sunday he won his fourth consecutive NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race – the 15th victory of his career.
Kennington was running third when, during a late-race restart, the first and second-place cars of Scott Steckly of Milverton and J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge collided, allowing Kennington to take the lead.
Jason Hathaway of Dutton, Ont., finished second – he’s having a great year – while Trevor Seibert of Williams Lake, B.C., was third. Steckly recovered to finish fourth.
8. Jordan Szoke of Brantford won the Mopar Canadian Superbike Championship round at Atlantic Motorsport Park at the weekend, with Jodi Christie of Keene, Ont., second and Frank Rombino of Kleinburg third. The motorcycles will be at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in August.
9. Rinaldo (Dindo) Capello has called it at a day. The sports car racer with an astounding record - two-time ALMS champion, 23 ALMS victories, three 24 Hours of Le Mans victories, five Sebring 12 Hours wins (including 2012) and three ELMS triumphs - is 48 and says his work is done.
Hey, maybe he'll be able to enjoy life a little. Years ago, when Mosport announcer Jim Martyn and I had a radio show on the Fan, Capello arrived for an interview and said he was starving. An aide was dispatched to a nearby restaurant to pick up a chicken caesar salad. Capello wouldn't start to eat it until he'd picked out every single one of the croutons.
10. Speedtv.com is reporting that Lotus will withdraw from the IndyCar series at season's end but CEO Randy Bernared says they have four years remaining on a five-year contract and will have to negotiate a settlement. Oh? If Lotus hasn't been able to afford to put any additional moneys into its dismal engine program, who thinks it will have any to buy its way out of its commitment?