Home :: News

Statt Mann Scatt

This is the Statt Mann Baby. Time to Scatt a little bit.

Max VerstappenI’m more than sick of the apologists who say Max Verstappen is hamstrung because he’s so fast and everyone around him doesn’t know what they’re doing. Verstappen is the Grand Wizard of that club.

Esteban OconSunday in the Brazilian Grand Prix Verstappen took the best car in the race and crashed it into Esteban Ocon while leading. He then called Ocon all sorts of names because Ocon didn’t get out of Max’s way.

I guess once Verstappen gets into the lead everyone else should pull over and park.

Five-time World champion Lewis Hamilton, Sunday’s eventual race winner, told Max after the race that Max had more to lose than Ocon in the incident.

It’s implied that all Verstappen had to do was lift, let Ocon go by and pass him further down the road. Instead he banged into the slower car then cursed and complained because Ocon was on the track with him.

Max won the last race and appeared to be beyond his early career aggression. But maybe not.

Racing’s more than being fast. Maybe Max will learn that one day.

Peace.

This is the Statt Mann Baby. Time to Scatt a little bit.

The death of Mari Hulman George means another piece of racing’s golden past is gone.
First, she was chairman emeritus of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The facility and The 500 are global icons in motor racing.

Mari Hulman George

I didn’t know her but, from what I read, Hulman George didn’t have a personality that would tolerate tokenism. She didn’t seem like anyone’s pawn.

She had a compassion to help. While reading about her death Saturday at the age of 83 I read about her helping African American drivers at a time when so many wouldn’t.
She put Joie Ray in one of her sprint cars when nearly everyone else didn’t want him at the track at all. Joie Ray was a brilliant driver who was shut out when slower drivers got chances in faster cars.

She also helped Willie T. Ribbs become the first Black driver to make it into the Indy 500 field. Ribbs this week called her genuine. Her passion for diversity in racing will be missed.

Peace.

This is the Statt Mann Baby.  Time to Scatt a little bit.

Lewis HamiltonIn a week about speech and words I was surprised today to read: “Whatever one thinks of Lewis Hamilton or his sometimes lurid off-track antics, this is a rare and precious moment in the annals of sport.”   It was written a week ago before the U.S. Grand Prix by a Texas writer.

I’m willing to accept the fact that World Champions of any sport can have different lifestyles.  There’s money and fame and celebrity we’ll never know first-hand.  I didn’t write the sentence so I don’t know what was meant.

But lurid means: “very vivid in color, especially to create an unpleasantly harsh or unnatural effect.”  What has Lewis Hamilton done to bring that description to mind?  Wear a different hair style?  Date celebrity women?  Have a night life?

Jenson Button wrote in his book that his relationship with Hamilton was weird when both were at McLaren ten years ago.

Maybe the great ones like LeBron or Michael or Ali are different but lurid or weird is a step toward a place we don’t need to go.  Or maybe we do.

Peace.

This is the Statt Mann Baby. Time to Scatt a little bit.

If you’re listening to The Freaks, there’s a chance you know the name Huffaker Engineering and Joe Huffaker.

Huffaker Engineering’s been around since 1960 and winning races and championships almost ever since. Included are three Trans-Am titles and all kinds of Sports Car Club of America titles in Jaguars, sports racers, and little F Production MGs. Joe raced anything with engines he built and developed.

In fact, racers took numbers and stood in lines to get his engines.

Huffaker MG SCCA SonomaWell, Saturday the son, Joe Huffaker, Jr. won his tenth SCCA national championship in another black F Production MG Midget. He won by more than 34 seconds. In Little League they would have called it a mercy win.

We don’t talk about amateur racing much but the Olympics of American amateur racing, the SCCA Runoffs, happened this week at Sonoma Raceway. Huffaker has been at the track since it opened. He lives ten minutes away.

I’m sure Joe had customers in the field behind him. And, I bet, even they were cheering for him to get the gold.

Peace.

This is the Statt Mann Baby. Time to Scatt a little bit.

For years I’ve argued that motor racing began suffering when factory budgets strayed from research and development to marketing. Engineers weren’t trying to learn things for your driveway. Instead, pencil pushers were trying to learn things to put in your kitchen or closet.

Well, the people who run global sports car racing are back in the R&D business. We’ve already seen hybrid and electric race cars. Now they’re testing hydrogen powered race cars with the plan to put them in world sports car racing by 2020.

H24 Hydrogen Prototype

The technology is brilliant. The engineers are looking at breaking down water into oxygen and hydrogen and converting the hydrogen to fuel. Automakers evidently like the technology to put in your driveway in the near future.

If the automakers like it, they’ll be behind it with leaps in R&D money just like they’ve been behind the battery improvements for Formula E.

You wonder why sponsors and automakers are looking for escape hatches in their NASCAR commitments. The technology there is barely beyond carburetors.

Peace.

This is the Statt Mann Baby. Time to Scatt a little bit.

It’s amazing how championships can come together in motor racing. Last year Sebastien Ogier won the title with only two wins in 13 events all over the world.

It was his fifth title all won consecutively from 2013.

Sebastien OgierThis weekend Ogier won his fourth event of the year, the Wales Rally in Great Britain. It’s his record fifth win in Great Britain. And tonight he’s just seven points from a sixth straight championship with two events to go in the season.

That’s a lot of numbers that mean this: Sebastien Ogier, the second most dominant driver in World Rally Championship history is on the doorstep of another title. If I was Thierry Neuville, the driver in front of Sebastian, I wouldn’t be buying any green bananas for the celebration party.

Maybe the best part of Ogier’s run is the way he’s done it. He won four straight titles with Volkswagen before switching to an M-Sport Ford last year. He’s still with M-Sport and could win it again. In other words, it’s isn’t superior equipment behind the domination.

I love it when human excellence gets a chance to reveal itself.

Peace.

This is the Statt Mann Baby. Time to Scatt a little bit.

It was an empowering week for women everywhere. And that includes 17-year-old Hailie Deegan who became the first woman to win a NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race last night in Idaho.
Hailie Deegan 1st Win
She only led one lap at Meridian Speedway but it was the only one she needed to lead, the last one.

Deegan’s finished second twice in the series so this wasn’t a case of winning because of someone else’s misfortune. The win includes records in both the East and West K&N Pro Series. The West records date back to 1954.

In Victory Lane Deegan said: “It’s just amazing … this is the happiest day of my life.” I can only imagine her excitement.

I sat with Deegan once while interviewing her famous father Brian Deegan. She was intense. Engaged. And very observant. Brian said she’d win one day. She obviously brought those traits into the race car with her. This won’t be her last win in her career.

Peace.

This is the Statt Mann Baby. Time to Scatt a little bit.

SVRAWe don’t talk much about vintage racing in The Freak Nation. Sometimes we talk about drivers who won’t go home when they’re not fast enough to compete anymore.

But the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, the SVRA, was at Virginia International Raceway this weekend with great names and great cars in the field.

I mean great names like Boris Said, Willy T. Ribbs, Dorsey Schroeder, Max Papis, Al Unser, Jr., Greg Biffle and Ray Evernham. Yes, the championship winning crew chief was driving as an amateur turning times faster than nearly all the pros.

The field was full of Camaros, Corvettes and Mustangs. But the car that caught my eye was the 1964 Ford Falcon driven by Schroeder who won the TransAm title as a rookie in 1989.

And yes, there was some young blood in the field. Ward Burton’s son Jeb Burton left his VIR simulator long enough to win the ProAm Pole Friday. He had to share the Young Gun spotlight with Matt Brabham, someone else who is fast enough to be in the majors if the old farts would go home and stop buying seats that fill the fields.

Peace.

This is the Statt Mann Baby. Time to Scatt a little bit.

Ott TanakToyota’s Ott Tanak won this weekend’s Rally Turkey. It’s his third win on the season and leaves him second in the fight for the 2018 World Rally Championship.

Tanak capitalized on the retirement of points leader Thierry Neuville in a Hyundai and Sebastian Ogier who is third in the championship in a Ford. It was a tough, three-day gravel event, the first in Turkey since 2010.

It was Tanak’s third straight victory after wins in Finland and Germany. What’d you do this summer!

Now 24 points cover Neuville, Tanak and Ogier for the championship with three events left including Great Britain October 4th through the 7th.

The event drama included retirements, cars crashing and burning to a crisp and Tanak, the winner, falling back to ninth before surging to the victory. Friday’s competition was ultra close. Neuville and Ogier ended the day split by three-tenths of a second. But Neuville destroyed his suspension to maintain that lead and couldn’t continue on Saturday morning.

Amazing how much drama can happen if drivers are forced to compete without a made-up playoff format

Peace.

This is the Statt Mann Baby. Time to Scatt a little bit.

It was cool to see IndyCar racing again in Portland last weekend. There were great races in the past with passing into turn one and through the Esses and going into the last turn before the long drag strip in front of the grandstands.

2018 Sato Portland

We didn’t see a lot of that in this race though. The downforce on the current IndyCar allows anyone to drive it but it also makes passing difficult.

My racing tastes lean more toward drivers who can navigate anything and don’t need aero aids to help them keep the cars planted.

Still, it took me back to a different time when drivers drove and passed each other when they wanted and raced for wins. They didn’t outlast the competition with fuel strategies and tire maintenance.

But, I’m an old man!

Portland International Raceway had surrendered itself to SCCA regionals and rally weekends in recent years. Good to see someone dust off the memories and get the major leagues there again. Hopefully Portland can be back again next Labor Day and start another tradition in American racing. We need it.

This one felt good.

Peace.