ChampCar Commentaries

All about the Champ Car World Series (CCWS)

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Post by mlittle » Tue Sep 27, 2005 9:40 am

Possibly, although if I were Clarke, here's how I would scare the living s---out of them...I'd say to them, keep talking and not only will I take your Honda engines away, I'll take your fan-favorite driver to the other series as well. That'd make George and Co. snap to attention in a millisecond.
:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
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Post by Julian Mayo » Tue Sep 27, 2005 10:12 am

If it caused some sensibility to come into play, it could be a good thing. Mind you, with the split, we do get to see more driving talent on display. If reunification happened some good drivers would lose a seat. :cry:
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Post by mlittle » Tue Sep 27, 2005 10:41 am

I still can't figure out why Clarke would bring up reunification. I mean, unless you can figure out how to convince George to give up majority ctrl. of a unified series, it's not going to happen.

You're right, though; if there is a bonus to two separate series in NA motorsports, you do get a broader talent pool, but I'd still love to see Danica and Katherine on the track at the same time, at, oh, I don't know...Long Beach, Surfers, Indy? Wouldn't that have been a heck of a late-race duel, hmmm?
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Post by Julian Mayo » Tue Sep 27, 2005 11:09 am

I imagine there would be little love lost on the track between the two. A real battle for female supremacy. At a place like Surfers they would probably put each other into the wall rather than come second :shock:
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Post by mlittle » Tue Sep 27, 2005 11:13 am

You never know; I mean, can you imagine the PR depts. trying to advertise the race. Imagine, "Fire vs. Ice" at Long Beach or Edmonton or....Bathurst, maybe?
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Post by Julian Mayo » Tue Sep 27, 2005 11:15 am

mlittle wrote:You never know; I mean, can you imagine the PR depts. trying to advertise the race. Imagine, "Fire vs. Ice" at Long Beach or Edmonton or....Bathurst, maybe?
BATHURST...I would like to see that !! And so would the 140,000 other male fans on The Mountain.
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Post by mlittle » Tue Sep 27, 2005 11:17 am

Then, after the race there, they can have round 2 at Sebring for the 12 Hrs. there....all I'd say to the other drivers is.... :arrow: :danger: :danger: :danger: :argue:
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Strange Bedfellows, Pt. 2

Post by mlittle » Sat Oct 01, 2005 2:21 pm

You know, I still can't figure out why HPD boss Robert Clarke was in Vegas' last week. Whatever the reason, it garnered a ton of media attention and probably gave the IRL brass headaches galore. Why?

It's no secret that, unlike Toyota's departure from CART in 2002, Honda was still trying to convince CART leaders not to play "follow-the-leader" politics and give in to TRD's efforts at foisting on CART an IRL-style engine program. When they failed, they also followed TRD(Toyota Racing Development) over to the Indy Racing League, albeit late to the dance.

For HPD, 2003 wasn't pretty. Honda won just two races in 2003(Tony Kanaan at Phoenix, Bryan Herta at Kansas) to Chevy's three and Toyota's 11 wins. In addition, only two HPD drivers(Kanaan-4th, Kenny Brack-9th) finished in the top-10. When they caught up to TRD and the "bow-tie" brigade(Chevy).....

Since Homestead 2004, HPD has 25 wins, Toyota 6 wins and Chevy just 1 win, with Honda's factory teams, Andretti-Green Racing and Rahal-Letterman Racing leading the charge. However, with TRD and Chevy set to depart the IRL, Honda faces the question, What shall we do? HPD(and I've said this before) craves competition, and will do anything possible to find competition; hence, Clarke's visit to Vegas. But what should ChampCar do about this?

That is a very difficult question. Without question, a key ingredient to ChampCar's revival/resurgence has been the adoption of a spec-engine, the Ford-Cosworth XFE-2 2.65L turbo engine, that all teams are required to use. Coupled with a near-spec Lola B0/02 chassis, and CC has a nearly-even playing field. The key is nearly even. Ask yourself this--Why is Newman-Haas Racing, using the same equipment Forsythe, RuSport, PKV and others have, doing so much better than they are? The answer...they have the best race engineers in CC(Craig Hampson and Rocky Rockelin), the best crews and two of the better drivers(Bourdais and Servia) in the series. They also, ironically, have the most resources to spend(which probably irritates Messrs. Forsythe, Kalkhoven and Gentilozzi), something that would be negated if the other teams would spend more money on their teams. And there lies one of the problems that, ultimately, felled CART. Remember in one of my earliest commentaries I mentioned that CART had 4 engines makes(Mercedes-Ilmor, Honda, Toyota and Ford-Cosworth) back in the late 1990s'? While it was all well and good that it was so, the flip side was that costs began spiriling upwards at an increasingly scary rate as the engine cos. spent, spent and spent untowards amts. of money trying to better the competition(which is starting to catch up to the IRL :shock: ).

So, what would a Honda return do for ChampCar? Well, on the positive side, look at all the collateral benefits, in terms of sponsor-partnerships that Honda has in the IRL(w/cos. such as Pioneer, Motorola, Panasonic, etc.) and all the advertising money that HPD spends during the year(there's at least two of their ads in USA Today every week, at a minimum). Th eproblem, though, is as I stated above. Honda spends its' money to win, just as TRD, Ford Racing, Cosworth, etc. do. If Honda were to return, those engine costs would go up. And eventually CC would have to do one of two things:1--either accept a yr.-by-yr. "caste" system of one side doing better than the other, or 2--force HPD and FC to use the same spec-setup on their engines. Neither sounds appealing at the moment.

In the final analysis, I would argue that the biggest challenge facing both the ChampCar World Series and the Indy Racing League is this--they should figure out how to bring their car counts up from the current levels to a larger no., say 22-24 at least. Do this, and even if their isn't reunification, at least both will be secure, especially ChampCar.
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PT vs. SeaBass--The Rivalry

Post by mlittle » Tue Oct 04, 2005 8:40 am

There's a scene in the movie "Cobb" when Cobb's character, played by Tommy Lee Jones, is asked about his big rival, Babe Ruth. Cobb looks at the writer and says to him, "He ran okay for a fat guy." In auto racing, there's always going to be a rivalry that keeps people in suspense, that keeps them watching and wondering, What's going to happen next? Every decade or so in NA motorsports there's always a new rivalry.

--Back in the 1960's, A.J. Foyt, Jr. had such a visible disdain for Mario Andretti that it gave USAC's Championship Series a very tinged, visible edge to it;
--In the late 1970's-early 1980's, NASCAR legends Darrell Waltrip and the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr. traded paint, wheels, and barbs(verbal and otherwise) for years;
--In the 1980's, the Unser family(Bobby, Big Al, and Little Al) made it no secret their distaste towards Tom Sneva;
--In the 1990's, Michael Andretti and Paul Tracy were sometimes(almost literally) at each other's throats.

Teams, too, aren't immune. Ask anyone in the IndyCar Series paddock which teams should be kept at arms' length, and two come up immediately--Andretti/Green Racing and Rahal/Letterman Racing.

The current "big" rivalry in the ChampCar World Series is between the two top drivers in the series, Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais. The two couldn't be more opposite. :argue:

Paul Tracy's a 35-year old Canadian who speaks his mind, isn't afraid to touch wheels/sidepods with his opponents, and isn't afraid to let loose a verbal barrage at anyone. Case in point...he once referred to fellow Canadian Alex Tagliani as a "crybaby" after the two wrecked in the infamous "tunnel" turn at Cleveland in 2004. He's also not afraid to use the "chrome horn" on his opponents, and it, at times, has cost him races and a championship or two. It's also helped him to win 30 races in his career and lead 4165 laps in his 15 yr. career.

Sebastien Bourdais, on the other hand, is so soft-spoken and introverted that, when he first arrived at Newman-Haas Racing in late 2002, everyone, including his race engineer, Craig Hampson, thought he was the team's new date acquistion specialist, not the guy who was replacing 2002 champion Cristiano Da Matta. He's a 25-yr. old with Ben Franklin-style horn-rimmed glasses who drives like the proverbial bat outta h---, especially when he's ticked off on-track, like at Denver in 2004. He's also not afraid to verbally spar with others, although SeaBass likes to do his talking on the track.

While eventually, this rivalry, too, will pass, hopefully it won't. I mean, this is one reason people follow auto racing(irrespective of whether it is Formula 1, IRL, Champ, etc.). They want to see the rivalries in action, each protagonist fighting each other for racing supremacy. We just wouldn't want it any other way. That's my say....what is yours?
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ChampCar Rookie Spotlight: Timo Glock

Post by mlittle » Mon Oct 10, 2005 3:33 pm

From the drop of the green on Shoreline Dr. in Long Beach back in April, it's been no secret that ChampCar rookie Timo Glock is a talented driver. The underappreciated 23-yr. old German began his racing career like many in NA motorsports--he began in karting, then proceed through the various formula series, and then made it into Formula 1....briefly. Debuting at the Canadian GP in mid-2004, he finished 7th for the Jordan team, running thrice more for the privateer F1 team before winging it across the pond to join Paul Gentilozzi and Rocketsports Racing for 2005. With a 40-pt. lead over fellow rookie Ronnie Bremer, it's also certain he'll win the Roshfrans Rookie Award for 2005. Yet Glock, in his own words, was hoping for more from the season. "In pre-season testing we were in the top-five every time so we went to the first race(long Beach, finished 6th) with probably a different view. I thought we had the chance to be consistantly in the top-five, but racing and testing are two different stories. The team is doing a great job but I had to learn all the racetracks this year and that makes it really difficult for me and for the team. Sometimes we went in the wrong direction on set-up, but I learned and the team and I learned together and we made the best out of it, and that's important for next year."

After a 6th at Long Beach, Glock had some rough races, including an 11th at Monterrey after being in the top-5 most of the race, then 9th at the Milwaukee Mile and a pair of 10ths at Portland and Cleveland, he rebounded for a 7th at Toronto. At Edmonton Glock was in contention for a top-5 until contact with Justin Wilson(another ex-F1 racer) ended his day with a 13th. The high point of the year, though, was at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, where an alternate pit-strategy gave Glock the chance to win...until he short-cut the 14-15 chicane at the very end of the race, and then being told by race control to allow eventual winner Oriol Servia to pass and take the lead. "Our car is really fast in the race and that is the problem for us. In qualifying, we can't (seem) to find the last six- or seven-tenths, so we end up in eighth, ninth, or tenth. In Montreal, I had to start in eleventh and I lost three seconds in the first pitstop but the laptimes were consistantly quick. I led for eighteen laps without the push-to-pass(boost), which was really difficult, but the car was quick. Everything came together in Montreal. It was a shame that we lost the race on the last lap, but things like that happen. I learned that you can't a shortcut two times!"

He also had some thoughts about the upcoming race in Surfers Paradise, another venue he's never been to. "I watched the in-car camera from Australia and I saw so many chicanes and so many possibilties to take a short cut in Surfers Paradise....(That) may be a difficult race for me!" :wha: Ironically, he had some nice comments for CCWS co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven; the two spoke before Montreal and KK had an interesting comment for Glock. "Kevin told me before Montreal that it would be a good racetrack for me. He said to me you need a driver with big balls there and he was right. Then in Las Vegas he told me that Mexico City will be another good racetrack for me because it's another driver's circuit that takes big balls, and maybe he will be right and we will be on the podium again." As for his fans....Glock says that he's enjoyed the coverage Champ Car gets in Europe and that many German fans have followed the CCWS season primarily to follow him. "It's really interesting how many people watch the races on Eurosport in Germany. Together with Klaus Graf(2005 Trans-Am Series champion), (we're) the only guys racing in the United States from Germany so we have pretty good coverage in Germany and in Europe. A lot of people have told me that the Champ Car races are more interesting to watch than the Formula 1 races because there are a lot of battles going on and the racing is really close together." As for his future plans....while Glock says he intends on returning to Rocketsports in 2006, he also says a return to F1 isn't out of the woods. "For sure, I'd like to go back to Formula 1, but it's so difficult to find anything in Formula 1. If I go back I'd want to go with one of the top teams. But another step in the learning process would be to race for a top team in Champ Car and try for the championship, Is that Rocketsports, or Newman-Haas, or anybody else? I don't know at the moment."

In the current racing climate, while Michael Schumacher could be on the first step of a long slide from the top of the F1 ladder, and Ralf Schumacher's the likely "poster child" for F1's most overpaid pilot, Timo Glock could well be Germany's top racer in years to come. I'm sure, though, that he'll gladly take rookie honors for 2005.
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ChampCar Musings....

Post by mlittle » Thu Oct 20, 2005 10:07 am

Until this year, any discussions involving CART or ChampCar usually have involved either A)moaning and groaning over the future, B)defections of certain people(and drivers!), C)"circular" firing squads, and/or D:all of the above. But the recent announcement concerning ChampCar's new Panoz DP01 chassis for 2007 is the latest in a long line of smart business decisions by CC co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe. From saving the series itself, to buying Cosworth, to preserving Long Beach and Toronto, they've done some pretty good things. Now they're actually starting to get a grip on the costs of OWR itself. Case in point, the new 2007-spec chassis. Instead of paying $350,000 for a stock Lola/Reynard/Swift chassis without electronics, teams can now buy the new Panoz with Pi electronics for about $250,000 now. (Pi electronics supplies the electrical wiring and equipment for ChampCar teams to use, and, like Cosworth, is owned by Messrs. Kalkhoven and Forsythe). Not to be outdone, they've also helped the Atlantics series with cost-containment as well, with the new 2006-spec Cosworth-powered, Swift 016.a chassis, that costs, fully assembled and prepared, around $700-850 thousand.

When you think of it, this is what should have been done a long time ago. Of course, back in CART's heyday the chassis and engine manufauteurs were doing everything possible to rape, pillage and plunder the teams....but, at least the teams were paying top dollar to have the above things happen.Now teams can buy a stock Cosworth-Panoz for about $950,000($250-300K for the chassis and the rest covers an engine lease with Cosworth) which makes things very affordable for once. Just ask Derrick Walker, co-owner of Walker Racing/Team Australia:
It's what the price should have been for a long time. It's a massive change from how we did business in the 1990's when everybody had a lot of money and we bought new cars every year. We've had to change the way we look at business and full marks to Champ Car for taking this step. They spent a lot of time analyzing it and it's amazing. The car looks right, it fits our need and it costs less.
Bottom line....for once, Kalkhoven and Forsythe looked at the economics of the sport and put the brakes on runaway spending. In turn, it gives all the teams a fighting chance at the top of the ladder, which in turn makes the series more competitive. Along with a revived Atlantic Championship, it portends good times for the Champ Car World Series.
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ChampCar Musings....

Post by mlittle » Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:13 am

Well, I'm back with the ole' notebook for this week, and its' kinda full at the moment....Let's see what's inside! :shock: :shock: 8)

1}New idea on reunification? Okay, Chip Ganassi's latest idea doesn't "technically" count as reunification, but it doesn't hurt. His idea is that the top teams in each series(Andretti-Green, Penske, Rahal-Letterman in the IRL; Newman-Haas, Forsythe and PKV Racing in ChampCar) adopt a "ride-sharing program to allow teams and drivers in each series to race in either series. Or, as the Chipster puts it....
Let's take three teams and four races for the sake of argument. My team (for instance) would take two spare cars and prepare them for Kalkhoven and his team to use at Indy or St. Pete and his team could do the same for us at Long Beach and Toronto. Forsythe (and) Rahal could do the same and (so on).
Now, Chip isn't just whistling "Dixie"; he has five series titles(1996-1999 CART and 2003-IRL) so his words carry weight. And his idea has the support of NA motorsports' reigning patriarch, Mario Andretti. With the departures of Chevrolet and Toyota in 2005 and 2006 in his mind, he added that,
Right now the thing needs help, (because) both series are on the gurney and added together they don't equal the (NASCAR) Busch Series. I've talked with Kalkhoven, Forsythe, Gentilozzi, Penske, Russo{Carl Russo, owner of RuSport}, Rahal, and (Mario) Andretti about this and I think it's a good idea and a great first setp towards getting this thing back where it needs to be.
Forsythe likes the concept, but....
I haven't talked with Kevin about it yet because he's not come back from Australia but I don't know where else we'd eant to be other than Indianapolis.


There's just one problem.....the CC schedule. With May 13 in Houston and May 21 in Monterrey, that leaves only May 14(second-day qual. at Indy) and what CC team wants to risk a mid-grid start? This is one story I'll be following in the weeks to come. Meanwhile...

2}A PKV Shootout? With Mexico City likely Jimmy Vasser's final ChampCar series start, he began discussing at Surfers what life after JV will be like for the team. He reiterated that one of the two PKV seats in 2007 would likely go to Katherine Legge, but for 2006....he wasn't so sure, except to say that the team would have a "shootout" for the seat currently held by teammate Cristiano Da Matta. Da Matta, along with Ryan Dalziel, Bjorn Wirdheim, Michael Valiente, Darren Manning, Timo Glock and possibly Ryan Briscoe, would test for the seat in the off-season, with the winner likely getting Da Matta's seat and a second person getting Vasser's seat.

3}Three Cars for NHR? Carl Haas, by all accounts, wants a third car for the team and would like to slot either Cristiano Da Matta, Bruno Junquiera, and Oriol Servia. The problem, though, is that Servia's done such a sterling job subbing for Junky that no one is sure what the off-season will bring. It sounds as though we're likely to see a "Musical Chairs" type of situation at NHR, and even with two additional cars alongside 2-time champion Sebastien Bourdais, someone is going to be left out in the cold.
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Post by rah » Thu Oct 27, 2005 2:22 pm

Hi mate, I like the sound of the new car/engine's for 2008. Twin turbo, smaller, lighter and more push to pass. Sounds good if it happens. I like the cheaper bit too. But not as much as the teams i bet.
Ok, Lewis may win the WDC in 07, but Sato will beat him in 08.

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Post by mlittle » Thu Oct 27, 2005 2:27 pm

Agreed, though it's 2007, rah. It will be interesting to see if Cosworth does increase the "boost function" on the engines from 50 to 75 hp. Other than that, the cost-containment of the chassis/engine package, not just in ChampCar but also in the Atlantic Championship should attract more teams to each series.
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Post by rah » Thu Oct 27, 2005 2:33 pm

Indeed, thanks for the correction. Who knows, if they could just reduce the amount of time the safety car is on the track, I might try and watch it more often. I did enjoy Indy, although the team aus acco was a bit silly.
Ok, Lewis may win the WDC in 07, but Sato will beat him in 08.

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