ChampCar Commentaries

All about the Champ Car World Series (CCWS)

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Post by mlittle » Wed Sep 07, 2005 9:55 am

We'll get to see them after they conduct the test session. If it goes well, there should be plenty of photos. If it doesn't go well, there might not be so many. It's a two-day session, so by the end of the second day, they'll know whether or not the session was a success. Who knows, Katherine might have another rival to look out for, julian.
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Post by Julian Mayo » Wed Sep 07, 2005 10:22 am

mlittle wrote:We'll get to see them after they conduct the test session. If it goes well, there should be plenty of photos. If it doesn't go well, there might not be so many. It's a two-day session, so by the end of the second day, they'll know whether or not the session was a success. Who knows, Katherine might have another rival to look out for, julian.
I am all for true glamour in the "glamour" sport of motor racing :lol:
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New Americans in ChampCar?

Post by mlittle » Sat Sep 10, 2005 2:15 pm

Quick...name the two Americans I'm talking about here. They were champion shifter-kart racers, they both won Stars of Tomorrow scholarships, and both had great debuts in the Atlantic series this year. One's a laid-back 17-yr. old California dude, and the other's an agressive 23-yr. old Midwestern guy from the Badger State. And both have the same goal...to make it into ChampCar. To think of it, both Alan Sciuto and Bobby Wilson are exactly what Champ Car needs to bolster its' American fanbase. They're a couple of red, white and blue kids who love the open-wheel sport and have zero interest in following others into NASCAR.

Granted, neither has a lot of money, nor do they have a top-name sponsor(like some other young Americans in NA motorsports :wink: ), but both of them, from what I've heard, are loaded with talent and desire and that might just land them in the Atlantic Championship and above. Let's start with the California kid. When Sciuto showed up in San Jose, a had a couple of Barber Dodge and Star Mazda races under his belt and 1 day of Atlantics testing. Yet he still posted P2 in the first practice session, P7 in qualifying and finished 4th in his first race for PR-1 Racing. In Denver he bcame the youngest racer to ever win an Atlantics pole, and he backed it up with a 2nd-place finish. "I was a little surprised but I was happy to make a splash in Atlantics and I think it was because I had a great team and a great driver coach(Jonathan Bomarito),' said Sciuto, who concluded his three-race stint for the team with a 7th at Road America. "I really enjoyed driving that Atlantic car and next year it's going to have more power and pay that big prize ($2 million and a 1-off ChampCar ride) for the championship. That's where I want to be next year."

Wilson, on the other hand, was at the end of his driving string, and had all but given up on racing, working as a driving instructor in Florida. "I seriously thought about quitting. I was instructing in Florida and wondering if I was ever going to get another chance when Dan Cobb called me." Cobb, whose team concluded a successful Atlantics season w/Tonis Kasemets finishing 2nd overall, invited Wilson to race at Road America in a second Dan Cobb Racing Toyota-Swift. He took the ride and, upon the first practice, took off like a rocket. "I anticipated him to be quick, but not that quick. He was smooth, smart, clean and fast and I was impressed. I mean, he'd never driver that kind of car and it was a new team and he was second-fastest right out (of the gate)." However, a three-car accident damaged his car too much to race that weekend, but Cobb pointed out something, though, about him. "He's the kind of kid that comes around with a lot of talent and no money. Bobby wants to run in Atlantics next year because he wants to race against the (best) and I'm going to do everything possible to find the funding to run him. I'd love to see him make it Champ Car." Now, why are these two special to ChampCar fans?

The answer...either at the end of this year or 2006, the series' "elder statesman", 1996 champion Jimmy Vasser, will retire, leaving A.J. Allmendinger and Ryan Hunter-Reay as the sole Yanks in the series. (That number would be three if Rahal-Letterman Racing hadn't switched series, for Danica Patrick would be on that list w/Flattop(Allmendinger) and RHR.) Of the current crop of Americans in the top-developmental series', Sciuto and Wilson look to be the best of them. On that, well, I'll let them speak....

Sciuto:"Formula One or Champ Car, that's what I want to do."
Wilson:"I'm not a stock-car guy. I've always wanted to run ChampCars."

For them, a successful 2006 Atlantics campaign would be a good way to start. Good luck to both of them. :up:
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Thoughts on Las Vegas

Post by mlittle » Tue Sep 13, 2005 2:37 pm

With the ChampCar World Series traveling to Sin City, USA(a/k/a Las Vegas, Nevada) for Round 11--the Bridgestone/Corona 400k, here's my own predictions on who should do well at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway....

If the last race, back in June at the historic Milwaukee Mile, is any indication, then two names come up immediately--Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy. Vasser, who drives for PKV Racing, won the pole for the race, while PT, who drives for Forsythe Championship Racing, dominated from the drop of the green, winning the time-shortened race(221 laps instead of 225 laps). The two have 14 oval wins in their ChampCar careers(Vasser w/six, Tracy w/eight) and are always dangerous on ovals. Another driver that has won on ovals in ChampCar is 2002 champion Cristiano Da Matta(Vasser's PKV teammate), who has 3 oval wins to his credit. The man to beat, though, on the long ovals(1.5-mile or longer) at the moment, is none other than the current series champion, Newman-Haas Racing's Sebastien Bourdais, who, despite having only 5 oval races under his belt, has won the last 2 long-oval races(EuroSpeedway-2003 and Las Vegas-2004). Considering the nature of Las Vegas, these would be anyone's safe bets for who could win on Sept. 24th.

So, are there any long shots or upsets lurking out there?? Certainly. Let's begin with 2004 Milwaukee winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has had an awful year for the Rocketsports team this year. Back last year at the Mile, he had the most-dominating performance by a CCWS driver ever on an oval, leading all 250 laps in a wire-to-wire victory. Another driver on the list is PT's stablemate, Mario Dominguez, who fought a stunning late-race duel with Bourdais at the EuroSpeedway in 2003 that saw both drivers put wheels into the grass at the end. Another driver who can't be discounted here is Alex Tagliani. While Tag has only 1 win(at Road America) to his credit(and has never won on an oval), his rookie year in 2000 saw him place on the podium in Rio after winning the pole there on the "ro-oval" in only his third-ever ChampCar start. Last but not least are the duo from RuSport, A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson. While neither of them has much oval experience(in Wilson's case, none), both of them had top-10 finishes at Vegas last year and both were competitive at Milwaukee this year, especially Flattop, who gave Tracy a stiff challenge at the Mile in June.

As for the rest.....they're all long shots, at best. But this is Vegas...anything is possible.
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How Deals Fall Apart..the short course

Post by mlittle » Thu Sep 15, 2005 2:18 pm

By now, you've digested the IRL schedule for 2006 and noticed that it does not contain a race in Quebec, despite protestations from everyone involved. How did it fall apart? Here's the timeline....

1}When Champ Car held its' Molson Indy Montreal, a couple of things became apparent to me...where were the fans? The race had the lowest attendance for a 3-day weekend(around 94-95K people) in its' 4-year run, and several thousand grandstand seats(especially around the front-straight btwn. the "wall of champions" and the Senna curve) were missing.

2}Compounding this was the stone-cold fact that neither Montreal promoter Normand Legault nor the venue's race director were "available" for media inquiries.

3}Soon afterwards, word began to leak that the Indy Racing League was pursuing a race in Quebec, notably at Gilles Villeneuve. Then, at the IRL race at Chicagoland, the paddock was abuzz with rumors that ChampCar would be exiting Montreal and that George and Co. would be going in 2006.

4}It was believed that Legault would try to void ChampCar's contract with Molson Sports & Entertainment using some sort of "performance" clause(either revenue OR attendance) in order to bring the IRL there.

5}Then, ChampCar announces that they're returning to Montreal for a late-August date as specified in their 2006 schedule. At the same time, sources inside CCWS HQs' say that senior CC officials, most noticibly ChampCar's VP of Operations, Joe Chrenlich, express their anger and displeasure at Legault for trying to void their legal AND binding contract to run there in 2006.

6}Tuesday, 2 things happened...1--Circuit Gilles Villeneuve announced that ChampCar, not the IRL, would be running there in 2006, and 2--the IRL announced their 2006 schedule, which did not include a race in the province of Quebec. Naturally, Legault reminded everyone that more money was spent on this year's Molson Indy Mtl. than in the three years prior. :arrow: :bs:

What's known is this: there was a contract(all but signed) between Legault and the IRL to run an IndyCar Series race at Gilles Villeneuve in 2006. Not only did ChampCar threaten to sue the IRL over this, but now it's rumored that the Quebec City promoter who tried to bring the IRL to Quebec in the first place is all but ready to follow suit. Now why would Tony George risk everything to do this?

My guess....since Legault(who also promotes Formula 1's Canadian Grand Prix) is a good friend to Bernie Ecclestone, this would have given Ecclestone incentive to help George out(especially following 1--the fiasco at the USGP, and 2--Ecclestone's bone-headed remarks concerning IRL driver and fan favorite Danica Patrick). All I know is...once again, George and Co. had something "blow up" in their collective faces. However, this time, there may be legal ramifications to the George/Legault "fiasco".

There is a bright side to this...If I were one of the three wise men(Forsythe, Kalhkoven or Gentilozzi) I'd consider moving the race out of Quebec and staging it elsewhere. Toronto was a success, Edmonton was a great success, so there is a fanbase for ChampCar in Canada. It should be a top priority for ChampCar over the next 11 months.

That's my say.....what's yours?
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Post by Julian Mayo » Thu Sep 15, 2005 2:29 pm

Shoot the whole damned pack of them. Then let all the fans reload and do it again.One by one. :twisted:
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Post by mlittle » Thu Sep 15, 2005 2:32 pm

My sentiments on that one. I'm still trying to figure out why George and CO. would try that? I mean, they lost in bankruptcy court trying to steal CART's assets, they couldn't take Long Beach, or Cosworth, or...you get the picture. If KK and Co. really want to punish George and Co., here's a solution--take away all those Chev-Worth(after 2005, Cosworth) engines from the IRL and see how they feel. :twisted:
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Post by Julian Mayo » Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:04 pm

Speaking of financial punishment, I just read that 25 on-track crashes this season have cost Team Ganassi $US 4 million this year, and they are having to hire tubs etc from other teams to complete the season!!
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Post by mlittle » Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:07 pm

They're not buying them from other teams, julian...what they're doing is buying them from Panoz in Braselton, Ga. and just a few weeks ago, when Morris Nunn auctioned off all of his IndyCar equipment, guess who was there to buy the man's Panoz chassis'? Yeah, that's right...the Chipster bought them. What a sad sight that was..... :oops: :oops: :( :(
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Post by Julian Mayo » Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:14 pm

How much of the 4 mill is Briscoe single handedly responsible for ??? 8)
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Post by mlittle » Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:16 pm

Well, poor Ryan's had 7 DNF's this year(6 plus the DNS at the Mile)..It costs around $300K USD to repair/replace an IndyCar, so I'd say Ryan's due about a $2 million USD bill from Chip. Provided, of course, Chip keeps him for 2006(read the Silly Season, IRL-2006 thread...).
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Strange Bedfellows(and other musings from Vegas)

Post by mlittle » Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:20 am

Q:What do you get when you sight Honda Performance Division's boss, Robert Clarke, PKV Racing(and CCWS co-owner) Kevin Kalkhoven, Ford Racing Development's Dan Davis and CCWS VP of Race Control, Tony Cotman?

A:If you're Tony George....lots of Maalox and water, plus temptations to cancel Clarke's Christmas Party invites.... :wink: :wink:

The buzz in the Champ Car paddock on Friday was centered around HPD's Clarke schmoozing with KK and the others when, in theory, you'd think he'd be at the Glen for the IRL race there. When asked about it, he simply said he was discussing "reunification" with ChampCar. The reality, though, is a lot stranger and forboding for Clarke. After 2006, Honda will be the only IRL engine manufactuer in town(GM Racing departs after Fontana, and TRD's bailing after 2006, if not sooner) and they want competition. On top of that, Clarke's not happy with IRL President Brian Barnhart's decision to keep in 2007 the current engine-specs, meaning that HPD's purpose-built H-I5R indy V8 for 2007 is, well, useless, unless HPD wants to use in Rolex or ALMS action. So what were they discussing?

Sources say that Clarke wants HPD to return to ChampCar in 2006 on the proviso that CC switches from the current 2.65L Ford-Cos. turbo engine and uses Ford-Cos.'s 3.0L normally-aspirated engine(the Chev-Worth engine used in the IRL). After Clarke left, reporters asked Cotman about it, and Cotman said that ChampCar's main concerns were cost containment and competitive balance. In other words, they're concerned about keeping the engine-specs in place in containing cost. Or, as Cotman put it:"ChampCar is currently the only major open-wheel series in the world where a new team can come in, buy the same equipment as the top teams and become successful immediately with the right personnel." He's got a point; look at PKV and RuSport for that evidence. On the other hand, Cotman also implied that KK did not want Cosworth to be in the position of "competing" with HPD in the IRL if costs couldn't be kept in check, which is exactly what Champ Car is worried about if Honda returns in the future.

On another front....the odds are(hey, it is Vegas, isn't it :wink: ) about 40-60 that Chip Ganassi will field a CCWS team in 2006 along with his IndyCar team the way Bobby Rahal fielded the same in 2003. Why? For starters, the Chipster, it's said, hates the 2006 IRL schedule and is under pressure from his team's sponsor, Target, to run more races that the IRL schedule has; thus the reason to run the CCWS races w/in the U.S. The other reason is that Ganassi's finally grown tired of visiting his racers in either an infield care center on-track or at Methodist Hospital in Indy. Finally, it's been reported that Chip's bought several 2004-spec Lolas from some of the CCWS teams and is getting his crews back to work on using those chassis' rather than on their current IRL-spec Panoz'.

After everything that happened this weekend....I think I'll need some of that Maalox, too. Enjoy, and don't hesitate to comment....
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The Wayward Tarheel I'm even in the blogosphere.... :shock:

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Post by Julian Mayo » Tue Sep 27, 2005 8:00 am

Cosworths commitment to F1 may have some bearing on matters too.
We had a split in our premier category some years back also. Everyone suffered, especially the fans. Then the fans started voting by keeping their wallets closed, and sanity eventually prevailed.
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Post by mlittle » Tue Sep 27, 2005 9:23 am

Good point, Julian. Still, I'd love to see George and Co. asking Clarke, Just what were you doing there? 8) :lol: :lol: :lol: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
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Post by Julian Mayo » Tue Sep 27, 2005 9:35 am

I suspect he might get a short sharp reply, suggesting he carry out an action involving a "sexual act and travel" combined :shock:
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