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Bernie wants more US #F1 races does he?

News that the diminutive one is up for more races in the US seems a but strange given that he has been willing to turn his back on such a large market for the last few years.

But never mind, things are looking up a bit with the prospect of having two GPs in the US soon, a bit like the old days of the US GPs East and West.

The problem that we have is in the venues; Monaco is Monaco, but other city street races are a bit of a nonsense. Valancia and Singapore are not really that good, the Aussies make do, but if we want to run on a decent track down under why not Bathurst? (OK we have our tongue in cheek a bit there, but at least it’s a good circuit).

The US has some cracking venues; the Indy GP circuit is a bit of a mishmash maybe, but it is Indy, and then there are Road America, Sears Point, Laguna Seca or Road Atlanta all of which are good tracks. Heck, we could even take the US GP back to its old home in Sebring! Any of those would be better to watch than plugging away around the grid road system of a US city (remember the lunacy of the car park grand prix?).

Toggle and I would love to see F1 back in the US, but if we truly want to grow the market surely we have to present F1 at its best, and scrabbling about the back streets is not the way to go. F1 is at its best on flowing circuits with a couple or three decent places to pass. We can’t let them have Spa perhaps, but, with the exception of Sebring, all of the US tracks named above do have elevation changes and a good range of corners.

For Bernie to be talking about having the Manhatton skyline as a backdrop is all very well, but we want people watching cars.

Good to know Mr 500 is still going strong at 88

There’s a link below to a NASCAR item on Andy Granatelli, legend of the Indy 500, STP Oil Treatment, Studebaker, Paxton Products, Grancor and more. The man is a fantastic character and it’s great to hear that he is still with us and as irrepressible as ever.

Stories about him are legion (and he maybe wrote most of them), but as a salesman, promoter, innovator and all round showman the world of  motor sport would have been a lot less fun without him.

The feeling of excitement when I first saw the pictures of his 1967 STP Paxton Turbocar is with me still. It was an awesome device, and, like the innovations from Midland, Texas in Can-Am, you somehow knew that a ban would come. It did, but not before further efforts to castrate the beast had yielded the 1968 Lotus 56 STP Turbocars that also almost pulled off the win. A great shame that both of these cars never made winner’s circle, and somewhat ironic that the 1969 STP Lotus entries were pulled so that Mario Andretti had to start in his back up car, and won!

The Italian connection of Andretti and Granatelli had some rotten luck at Indy, and their one win between them is that 1969 race in the second string car. Never mind, they tried. Boy did they try. Happy memories.

Read the article here.

indy 500 round up 2011

So Dan Wheldon picks up a second Indy win after JR slaps the wall at the final corner. Not really the result I would have expected, but differing strategies contrived an unusual looking results table.

After all the fun of pole and carburation days,with quick people bumped, old rivals teaming up to get one of the latter into the race (imagine that it F1), the race unfolded with what looked like a fairy tale finish for Panther, but, running on fumes, the car got away from JR within sight of the flag and Dan picked up his own fairy tale result for Bryan Herta’s team. Quite reminiscent of Jack Brabham at Monaco back in 1970 is many ways with a last corner call on where to take a back marker.

The magic of Indy, still strong 100 years on.

Good also to see Tony pick up a good fourth; the guy deserves to still be full time in the series. As for the championship trail, all of the top guys finished poorly, so back to regular action soon at Fort Worth where, probably, normal service will resume.

weekend round up – 16 May 2011 #NASCAR #DTM #Indy #NHRA

#NASCAR – Who else but Mark Martin could stay out on old tyres and hold off for around 35 laps of the Monster Mile all bar one of those who had stopped for two or four new ones? That was skill and experience at its best and a joy to watch. Another good run for the Digger to third and also a good top 5 for Brian Vickers as his comeback rolls on.

#DTM – Mike Rockenfeller wins Zandvoort for Audi as Bruno Spengler misses the pit call. I miss the GP from the Dutch Dunes. Not one of the great tracks maybe, but it was part of the F1 calendar that I grew up with.

#Indy – rain stopped play in Indiana as the 500 run up begins in earnest. Who will make up the field come Memorial Day? All the tension, excitement, relief and heartbreak coming up.

#NHRA – I don’t normally comment on events from the quarter mile, but whenever I am in the US I do like to watch the drama unfold. Drag racing has a format that fits well with TV and I am always impressed by the action. Watching the crews tear down and rebuild an engine after a run is pretty amazing as is the spectacle of the cars running after darkness falls. OK, in the top classes the race is over in less time that separates first and last on an F1 grid, but getting one of those beasts off the line and down the track takes some skill, and the terminal speeds leave F1 standing. Respect!

AJ Foyt to drive the 2011 Indy 500 Pace Car

So the Trumpster has pulled out of driving the pace car to focus on his Presidential campaign. Well, I suppose parking it in the wall might have damaged more than just the paintwork.

Seriously, the pace car job is not for amateurs, so this scribe is very pleased to see that 4 time 500 winner AJ Foyt will be handling the job. AJ, winner in 1961, ’64’ 67 and ’77, will drive the pace car on the 50th anniversary of his first win. My only thought is that it seems slightly ironic that a man so associated with the Blue Oval should be driving a Bow Tie pace car, but AJ was always pretty versatile and I have no doubt that he’ll work it out.

This blog celebrates two of AJ’s Indy500 wins in other posts if you’d like to check them out.

Parnelli Jones, Silent Sam and the 1967 Indy 500

In 1967 Indy 500 legend Andy Granatelli made another off the wall attempt on the race with his STP Paxton turbine car. It came within 7.5 miles of the win before a small proprietary part failed and the car rolled to a stop.

AJ Foyt picked up the win, his third in the 500, having avoided last corner carnage amongst the lapped cars.

See exerpts of the race plus interviews with Foyt, Jones, Gurney and Andretti here: Parnelli Jones, Silent Sam and the 1967 Indy 500

The 2011 Indy 500 wil be with us at the end of this month. Sadly all of the innovation that Andy Granatelli and his team brought to the race are long gone, but it’s still the 500, one of the world’s greatest races.

Indy 500 2011 – Not too long to wait now

There was a time when the fun would have started next weekend and we would have spend the month of May at the speedway settling in, tuning, testing and readying the cars. These days things have been comressed on necessity, but somehow the approach of May still means one thing to me; The Indy 500!

I still recall the thrill of seeing the 1961 race film (in about 1966/67), the first Indy race footage I had seen. One day, maybe, I’ll get to see the speedway for real and maybe even the race. Who knows, but I’ll be following the news from Indiana over the coming weeks. The current incarnation of Indy cars are not what they used to be, but they’re what’ll be racing and all the drama, disappointment or glory will still be the same. Who’s in, who’s out, who will last the distance, who will drink the milk? All will be revealed next month.

100 years of Indy. Here’s to the next 100 years.

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