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The Future of LMP2 is in IMSA’s Hands

While the future of IMSA is now tied to the successful implementation of the new FIA/ACO LMP2 rule, it is ironic that the future of the LMP2 formula itself is in IMSA’s hands. They are inseparably bound together due to many of the same forces which have F1 in the mess it currently stands.  The talks are ongoing, and we are all hoping to finish up the final rules soon.  It has been a chaotic rollout of information.

I was shocked by the the initial rules that rolled out in April of 2015.  Honestly, I thought it was some kind of late April Fool’s joke!  The choice of 4 chassis manufacturers surprised me, but it was the single engine manufacturer that threw me to the ground..

Later we found out that Jim France and Scott Atherton negotiated the IMSA variation, called DPi (for Daytona Prototype International), which allowed a level of manufacturer support not allowed in the FIA version.  “WhooHoo!!!” I said. Now that is in doubt, and a number of teams and manufacturers are in limbo, with decisions for 2017 needing to be made NOW.

The issue at hand is the cost to compete and who should compete where.  Regardless of which series a team is involved, anybody involved in sports car racing want to be able to race in one race, The 24hours of LeMans!  The goal of the LMP2 rules is to allow cars from the four international series the ability to race against each other, including at LeMans.

The ACO and FIA have very definite opinions as to who they feel should compete in which class.  The automobile manufacturers will be in LMP1, with its bespoke hybrid systems and totally custom cars. Rebellion and ByKolles LMP1 Privateer efforts are  notable exceptions.  Professional privateers will be in LMP2.  LMP3, the future of Prototype Challenge, is the spec prototype series with significantly lower cost.

The reality is something very different.  To compete with Audi, Porsche and Toyota, F1 levels of money are required to meet the formulas complex hybrid requirement, whose technology is at, or above, F1’s level of complexity.  Even the LMP1 Privateer formula are so restrictive that there are only 2 team participating for the LMP crumbs. For the long run, this is not beneficial for the sport.  Jim France, Scott Atherton and company see that, and understand the long term implications.  As we speak, IMSA searches to find the fine line where manufacturers and privateers alike could join IMSA’s ranks AND race at LeMans.  That seems to be proving difficult.

In my humble opinion, the FIA and ACO are sticking to an belief which continues to prove troublesome.  Nissan, the most recent entrant into LMP, quit after single season due to poor results.  There is more to their leaving the series than meets the eye.   It is in part due to an extremely aggressive (revolutionary?) vehicle design by Ben Bowlby, and Renault/Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s purchase of the Lotus F1 team for a true factory F1 presence.  In the end, it was not financially productive for Nissan to spend F1 money in LMP1 when that money could actually be spent in F1!

On this side of the pond, we have a different set of requirements.  At the 2016 Rolex24, we had 7 different motors in 6 different Prototype chassis’s. LMP2 is our top tier, and we have manufacturers interested in prototype racing in the US.     If the manufacturers wanted to spend F1 levels of money on racing, they would, and there is little we can do about it.  But Ford and GM, for example, are not going to spend millions of dollars in either top level series.  They are already spread thin in motorsports.  Honda, Mercedes and FIAT/Chrysler, through Ferrari, are already in F1.  As such, I don’t see any new manufacturers entering into LMP1.  Worse, Audi looks set to leave the sport in the near future, possibly for F1.  With only two manufacturers and two privateer teams, that might spell the end of the currently LMP1 formula, making the new LMP2  rules even more important.

Now think about this, has anyone wondered why Ford, with its history of success in all forms of motorsports (F1, LeMans, IndyCar and NASCAR) decided to build a new road car for GTE rather than a prototype for LMP1?  Why is Ford focusing on a LeMans class win rather than go for the overall win, as it did over 50 years ago?  Look at the Audi LMP1 and Mercedes F1 budgets.  Building a new road car from scratch, and racing it, is cost competitive to the cost of LMP1/F1, especially when you can sell the road car in the showroom!  Does anyone get the hint here?

Now back to IMSA here in the US.  As I understand it, the DPi rules allowed any manufacturer to put it’s homologated GT3 motor into any of the 4 approved chassis’s, along with model specific bodywork.  With that in mind, we could see a Cadillac prototype, using their V6TT from their ATS-V!

There seems to be more manufacturer interest in IMSA’s prototypes than anytime since the late 1990’s!  These rules have piqued the interest of several manufacturers not currently in US prototype racing, including Audi, Bentley, FIAT and Nissan!  The possibilities are spectacular!  Especially if they can go to LeMans!  It would be very fan friendly.

With that being said, this indecision between the FIA, ACO and IMSA has put worldwide  prototype racing in limbo. The current teams can not go forward with their plans to tie up with a manufacturer until the rules are settled upon.  And potentially new teams will have an even more difficulty getting up and running.  And this effects those other series, as they too are waiting on the rules to be finalized.  Many of those teams, such as SMP, are interested in doing the Daytona/Sebring/LeMans trifecta.  The rules must be flexible enough to allow this.

Time is running out, and it’s the fans who suffer for this.

Too Many Questions…. My Rant About F1

I woke up this week and to my surprise, I realized I have become a casual F1 fan.  There, I said it!  I am.  I haven’t watched an entire F1 race all season.  Actually, I can’t remember when the last time I actually did!  I’ve had them on, but didn’t really focus on any of them, except maybe Monaco and COTA.  Even then, I really can’t remember much…

I used to get up at 2:00AM to watch the races live. On ESPN, no less. I got CompuServe to get the up to the minute news before everybody else. Then, I got Autosport, imported from the UK, to learn the latest from McLaren, Ferrari, Tyrell, and Brabham.   What happened to me?  What have I become?

I have lost interest.  It’s that simple.  I just realized that I no longer care what happens.  To me, it has become a kind of parade, like a vintage race.  Theres some passing, but…. not a whole lot.

So I ask myself, what is racing and why do we watch it?  It’s a very simple question, but one that, over the years, I feel many a series seem to have overlooked, including F1.

What is a race? In its simplest interpretation, it is to see who the fastest driver/car/team is over a set distance or time for a given set of design rules.

Why do we watch?  That’s easy.  TO SEE WHO WINS!

Now back to F1.  I commented on a couple of motorsport news sites (, and Jalopnik) that I didn’t see racing in F1.  I got blasted!  I was told that there was great racing, for 5th, 6th and 7th!  And there probably was.  I don’t watch racing to see who’s 5th, 6th or 7th!  I don’t watch racing to see who’s 2nd, 3rd or 4th, either.  I watch to see who wins and I want to be surprised.  I want a reasonable expectation that anybody COULD win on any given day.  There is NO fun in a forgone conclusion.  I can’t watch expecting the leader to fail or to crash, therefore somebody else wins.  I want to see people racing each other for the win.  Is that too much to ask for?

And, frankly, that doesn’t happen in F1 any more.  It hasn’t happened for a long time.  I’ll go back to the Schumacher/Barrichallo days of domination with Ferrari.  Hell, I could go back even further, to Senna/Prost winning 15 of 16 races.  No, I really did not enjoy that, and I am still a Prost fan!

Now the big question I have is why?  Why is Mercedes winning every time they finish? Why can’t Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Willliams even come close?  Most importantly, why doesn’t someone in F1 realize their show is sub-par?  Why do we accept a Michael Schumacher/Sebastian Vettel level of domination as “normal”?  What happened to a team coming up with a lightning strike idea that beats everybody else, then only to have another team one up them?  Why do so many drivers look like they barely made it out of drivers school?

I want drama on the track, not on the side lines.  I want to be surprised!  I want my guy to win!  I want my guy to lose a close one!  I want better racing at the front of the pack.  I want everybody fighting and clawing for a win, not 3rd place.  And most importantly, I want to feel that someone there cares for the end product and feels my pain.  I want someone who will say that it’s the racing that brings in the fans, not the advertisers or the manufacturers or the technology. Someone who realizes that while all these are important, its not that the cars are on the track, or even how many cars are on the track, but what they ALL do on the track that I am interested in.  And it is simply not happening!

There it is.  I have found a way to blame someone else for my problem (my wife would be so proud).  But, there are too many whys and too few answers from those who should know better.  And that, my friend, is a story for another time.

Open Letter to IMSA

Dear IMSA,

I am a lifelong sportscar racing fan.  My earliest memories are of Al Holbert dicing it with the Rob Dyson, Bayside Disposal car, the Group44 Jag and the Kreepy Krawly March.  I have been to many a race, ate many a hotdog, been rained on and got sunburns that lasted weeks.  I climbed the fence on Daytona’s front stretch to get a better view of the Nissan’s flying underneath me at 200+MPH.

As a lifelong sportscar racing fan, I found the 64th running of the Sebring 12 Hours simply confounding. Like Charles Dickens Tale of Two Cities; It was the Best of times, It was the Worst of times.

Daytona, we have a problem.  More than one, actually.

I am personally very enthusiastic about the “Merger of (in)Equals”. That being Grand-Am and ALMS joining under the IMSA banner, bringing together a pair of very diverse racing series, each with its own unique history, under a very historic banner.  I truly feel that this new series may be the most technologically advanced, diverse and compelling racing series in the world.  More so than NASCAR, IndyCar and F1.  You have all the keys to making it work. However…

At Sebring, I saw a large number of doubters, many camped in Green Park by Sebring Pit Crew’s “Shrine of Extremely Low Expectations” containing among other things, a dart board framing a picture of Jim France, blaming the NASCAR family member for all problems, both real and perceived.  Let us not forget history: it was a France (specifically Jim Frances father Bill France Sr.,) who, along with John and Peggy Bishop, started it all to begin with and formed IMSA in 1969.  Jim France is following his passion.  He has invested a great deal of money into road racing.  For the sake of fairness, I am from Daytona Beach and when a France screws up, it’s in the paper.  We in DB do have a Love/Hate relationship with the France family, but by and large, it has greatly benefitted Daytona Beach and Volusia County and it has also benefitted the racing community as a whole.  Enough on that.

After Sebring, here are my personal observations.  There is more of everything!  There are more people at the races then I have seen in years.  That’s good.  Last year was the last chance to see the mighty Audi’s and I expected a great turnout.  This year with the combined series, I expected a lot of people, and got them.  However, it was a much more tamed group than recent years, though I did see a number of sofas and recliners ablaze by the end of the race!

There are a lot more cars on the track, which is both good and bad.  Good because it’s good for the series and makes for constant racing.  With as many cars on track as there were, with vastly different speeds and racing experience, (suggestion here) I would like to see the “No Contact” rule reviewed and possibly dropped.  There is going to be contact, whether we like it or not.  The Bronze level drivers racing among Platinum drivers can be a recipe for disaster. Don’t get me wrong, we need them as they directly sponsor or pay for the drives they get, keeping many of the cars on track.  But we may have to expect some ugliness from time to time, and the rules need to reflect this.

The officiating has been extremely embarrassing to fans of the sport.  As if the “No Contact” rule alone is bad enough, its implementation has been horrendous.  The officials need to allow time for teams to challenge a call.   Ask Alex Job!  An overall poor level of officiating along with a refusal to not only review the available material but to not allow him to challenge the call, caused him to lose the race.  Yes, I said “caused him to lose the race”! This “No Contact” rule I don’t like was wrongly applied.  Again.  After the debacle in Daytona, someone should have learned by now, only weeks after Rolex24. Had there been room to challenge a wrong call, he would have at least had a chance to win.  IMSA and Sebring track official’s took that opportunity away.  So they cost him a win and the financial benefit of winning.  To add insult to injury, the cars which actually caused the infraction were never punished and were allowed to win the race.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Alex Job took his cars to the Pirelli World Challenge!  Now that would be bad for the sport!

The racing has been close.  The balances of performance (BoP) are good, not perfect, but close enough to be fair.  This takes time and it is a moving target.  As IMSA changes the BoP, the teams find an advantage that may need another BoP.  And on and on.  However, it was a good sign that of the top 5 Prototypes, 3 were P2.  There was no run away as there has been when the P1 Audi’s were racing.  There was some close racing that was very enjoyable, and some bone headed moves by some of the Bronze drivers.  But I enjoyed much of the racing there actually was.

Which brings me to my next officiating issue: the full course cautions.  Let’s face it, the red Corvette pace car lead the most laps.  While 3 of the cautions are understandable, running 5 of 12 hours under Yellow is unacceptable.  It’s not called Race CONTROL for nothing.  Control the Race.   Realize the impact cautions have on the final product and use more local cautions.  This was where everybody makes a NSACAR connection with the mysterious cautions for “debris” on the track.  If rules need to be changed, change them.  While the race was closer than expected, it’s the second time in two races a caution impacted the outcome of the race.  If you’re going to call a full course caution at the end of the race, I have a suggestion.  There’s enough traffic to go through during the race.  Why lock it in during cautions?  The current way benefits only the leader. Group them by class, so the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place cars have a clear chance to challenge for a win. From my point of view, THAT would have been an even better race!

Oh, lastly, on the North American Endurance Cup, scrap the points system.  It’s confusing and contrived.  There is no logical way the winner of a race should get less points than the 2nd loser (third place finisher).  You will lose fans with it.  You’ve lost me.  At this point, I really don’t care how close it’s supposed to make the final race.  F1 is doubling points and did a good job of annoying both their fans and the teams.  You’re making the same mistake.

Now don’t let the above listed issues get in the way of the fact that I really had a great time at Sebring.   The atmosphere was fun, the weather was great and I saw some very entertaining racing, saw some very state-of-the-art machines and met some of the world’s best drivers.  I will be back!  I will be watching all the races too (I’m not even getting into the TV/Radio thing….) Despite the problems, I still feel that IMSA is off and running in the right direction.  Changes do need to be made, but…  I look forward to the sprint portion of the series.


A Sportscar Fan


State of the Art

2014 Audi R18 E-Tron testing in Sebring, FL.The new Audi R18 E-Tron being tested this week at Sebring International Raceway is arguably the most advanced race car ever built.  I would hazard to say it is more advanced than then Sebastian Vettel’s World Championship winning RB9.  Yes, I said it! More advanced then the most successful F1 car ever built.  (I am starting to like where LMP1 is going, but more on that later.)

What I find interesting is that the technology on the Audi is very applicable to the cars we drive now.  It’s a hybrid system designed to win races, but I have never been a fan of hybrids, always a proponent for good-old-fashioned internal combustion engines.  More cubic inches, bigger turbo’s, faster rev’s; any trick to get more power (Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, enter stage right). Then the Prius comes along and  “hyper mile-ing” becomes an obsession.

The goal is to win but with a set amount of fuel.  The rules for 2014 put a higher importance on fuel economy than it has in the past and Audi has responded with what is essentially a whole new car.  Like the previous R18 E-Tron, it still has the V6 turbo diesel powering the rear wheels and a Williams Hybrid Power Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), just like the one used in F1, at the front.  This gives the car 4 wheel drive at points during the race.  New to the car is an electric turbocharger utilizing a heat-to-energy recovery unit (I am guessing on the exhaust) for power.  This helps reduce turbo lag and allows the motor to run more freely.

This is a truly impressive vehicle.  With competition from Toyota and now Porsche, the race is on!

Why I love sportscar racing!

I am sitting here watching the last race of the year, the WEC in Bahrain.  While it is still 11:00AM here, the 6 hour race still has 2 hours to go!  Yes, I love the racing.  Why?

It’s the cars!  and there are a lot of them.  The GT’s are real cars but the Prototypes look like something from the Jetson’s.  And there is so much variety.  This year in GT alone there will be at least 7 makes At Daytona: Porsche, Audi, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Corvette, BMW and Viper.  In Europe, Bentley can be added to that list too.  In the mix and match world of the prototypes, we’ll have engines from Ford, BMW, Acura, Nissan and Mazda (a diesel, by the way) in chassis’ by Riley, Lola, Oak, Oreca and Acura.  And this is just in the US.  The WEC has kept the P1 top level prototype class with the hybrid Porsche’s, Audi’s Toyota’s as well as the gas powered Lotus’s, Oaks and Morgans.

It’s the teamwork! Yes, I said teamwork.  During most races, each car has at least 2 drivers.  For the long races, the 24 hour and 12 hour races, there can be as many as 4 drivers.  They have to set the car up so not only are they comfortable for 2+ hours of seat time, but so the other drivers are comfortable  too.  And if all goes well, the engine is never shut off.  The tires, brakes and any other wear part are changed during pit stops by a crew of mechanics that have to deal with the long hours and potentially inclement weather.  These are the hardcore guys who keep the cars on the track and are usually up for the entire race!

This years IMSA  has the Tudor Championship,  the “normal” 13 race schedule.  Four races,  the Rolex24 at Daytona, the Sebring 12 hours, The 6 Hours of the Glen and the Petit Le Mans, are also the North American Endurance Championship (NAEC).  With these, several European based teams are planning on coming over to race just these marque events.

So, my plan for this year is to attend The Rolex24 and Sebring with the possibility of Petit Le Mans at the end of the season.  I will have many pictures and some reports of the happenings at those races.

The “Merger”

So, the 2013 season has ended and both Grand-Am and ALMS are officially no more.  Grand-Am bought the ALMS from Don Panoz for a lot of money.  Green saves the day, not just the environment….

This is good!  For many years I was an open wheel fan, but the split killed it.  I went the ChampCar way and sorely missed the Indy 500.  The IRL folks missed the competition.  It was not good.

But it was, in many ways, similar to the sportscar’s separation.  The IRL had Indy.  They had what amounted to spec cars (they still do!). ChampCar had the names and the variety of makes, both in chassis and engines. Grand-Am had a very tight control of specs and it had the Rolex 24 at Daytona.  ALMS had the killer cars.  I’ll eventually work my way through those tracks that shared both series, but I digress.

With the merger, we have lost P1 and GX.  We kept those classes that had exciting racing.  The new rules package is going to be interesting when it is finalized, but if the testing at Sebring and Daytona show anything, they may be on the right track.  OK, I am not a fan of flying cars, so there are going to be tweeks.

In all honesty, ALMS’s P1 class was dying. Not enough participants.  Audi and Rebellion were WEC teams who party crashed on select races and somehow made it work, sort of.   There were not enough teams.  I hazzard to say the same holds true for the WEC p1’s, even though Porsche is joining.

GX just didn’t take off.  There were 3 cars for most of the season; the 2 factory backed Mazda diesels and the lone privateer Caymen by BGB.  BGB won through sheer determination against a major corporation making it’s comeback in motorsports.

So we have the Daytona Prototype’s, P2’s, PC’s and 2 GT classes.  We have a great mix of the high tech, high horsepower, true street machines and pure racers, it really is the best mix in racing, the best of both worlds.  Imagine F1 meeting IndyCar!  Yes, we now have it!


This is a website devoted to racing in general and sportscars in particular.  I love racing.  Any kind of racing.  Do you have midgets on emu’s?  I’ll watch.  Then comment on it!  I have definite opinions, so beware!  This is, after all, a fan site!  I’ll post news when it happens, but I may throw in a curveball with it!

Also know, I do want your thoughts to!  If you don’t like what I say, be nice (it is my site!!!) but post your thoughts.  Let’s have some fun!