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Statt Mann Scatt

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.

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

The people at Formula E are selling their first generation electric race cars. And, for you cynics, there’s no extension cord or toaster for buying one.

Formula E

You probably laughed when word of the championship was announced in 2011. These full-sized RC cars weren’t good enough to make it through a full event. Drivers had to swap cars to make it to the checkered flag.

Well, after five seasons of racing, the Gen2 cars will be plugged in by December when the new season charges into 2019. And the Gen2 cars can make it through a full 45 minute timed race without losing battery power.

The old cars will be sold for about half their original half million dollar price tag. No balloons. No used car salesmen with checkered suits. And no gaudy no-down-payment bait-and-switch deals.

All 40 cars built for the first race in 2014 changed racing history. They were all built identical so any provenance will be for victories and things like sentimental value.

Car builders in the electric car business love the cars and series. It helped advance battery development. That only helps us, the car buyers. And that’s what racing should be about: research and development.

Peace.

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

Word of Kasey Kahne’s desire to end his full-time NASCAR career took me back a few years. Kahne was an unknown talent when he was a guest at a SpeedFreaks party at Irwindale Speedway one Saturday night maybe 15 years ago.

Kasey KahneHe was a shy kid then. You almost had to put your hand in his back to force an answer to questions.

Obviously he grew to the sport and was a star at one point. He’s had more than 500 starts until now and won 18 of them.

He does have some options. He has family and owns a sprint car team, Kasey Kahne Racing. He’ll probably be back behind a wheel either in his sprint car or in a NASCAR race vehicle sooner than later.

I’m on record wishing that retired drivers stay retired. And after watching the events at Pocono today, you can see and understand why. What they do is dangerous and so very few in world history have been able to do it safely.

I’d hope retirement is a welcome sight for drivers once they’ve earned the right to get there.

Peace.

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

There’s a trend here worth noting. NASCAR has had 39 drivers win at least one of its 68 championships through last season.

Of those 39 drivers, only seven have been 40 or older. The oldest? 45-year-old Bobby Allison, leader of the Alabama Gang, who won the Cup title in 1983.

That means more than eight in ten champions have been younger than 40. That’s another way of saying Cup racing is a young man’s game.

Kevin HarvickAfter the weekend, the average age of the top ten in Cup points was 33 years. The youngest were Chase Elliott and Erik Jones at 22. They’re fifth and seventh. The oldest is today’s winner Kevin Harvick at 42 and he’s dominating the season with seven wins.

In fact, when Kevin took his six-year-old son Keelan into Victory Lane today it triggered another problem. A six year-old rolling into Victory Lane in a beer branded car is problematic for the front office.

Yes, Interim NASCAR Boss Jim France has a lot of work ahead of him. But maybe he has larger vision than his predecessors. He made Grand-Am work against the American Le Mans Series.

Peace.

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

I had questions this week when I saw a Top Ten survey that put Watkins Glen on top for NASCAR racing. Watkins Glen is a road course and NASCAR makes its bones on oval racing tracks.

I thought it was curious that NASCAR’s race this weekend was at The Glen. Funny how that works. But I digress…

Bristol LogoThe real Best Track in NASCAR racing is at Bristol Motor Speedway, especially the night race at Bristol coming up August 18th. Bristol was fourth in this Top Ten list. What do they know?

But there’s absolutely no comparison and I’m a road racing fan over oval racing. There’s so much happening at the Bristol night race. The 36 degree banking allows for some great speeds on a halfmile track.

There used to be more than 150 thousand fans in the stands; so many you could feel the breeze when they cheered. And putting all that under the lights just added something special to the entire proceedings.

The Glen is just another race unless you get off on watching the drivers do something they don’t like like turning right instead of left all afternoon.

Peace.

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

Four-time World Driving Champion Lewis Hamilton scored an important victory in Germany Sunday.

Lewis HamiltonIt was the first time Hamilton drove through the field from fourteenth to the win. And it was a first Mercedes one-two finish in Germany, the home event for the manufacturer.

The win also lofted Hamilton back to the top of the Formula One points after his chief rival, Sebastian Vettel, nosed his Ferrari into a wall and out of the race. Hamilton’s now up 17 with one race before the Summer Break.

Hamilton, though, had to survive a summons from officials who questioned his dart toward pit lane late in the race only to be waved back by his team. The radio call was insane. How Hamilton avoided the pits is testament to his skills. Even he responded: “Hey guys!”

The team apologized. But, for me, this calls into question their handling of Hamilton. When someone has superior talent you tend to lean on that to cover your own mistakes.

Where Hamilton’s concerned Mercedes mistakes are many during the course of a season.

Peace.

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

Lots of troubling headlines these days but one that got through the darkness this week was word that Patrick Dempsey has broken through a ceiling in making the film The Art of Racing in the Rain.

Patrick DempseyIt’s been a passion project for Dempsey for maybe ten years. The book is wonderful. Dempsey and I talked about the story shortly after he obtained the film rights. It became a topic of conversation every time we saw each other after that.

Through the years there were problems with getting a script and director linked together. There were problems getting racing photography shot. But significant racing was shot last weekend during the IMSA stop at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park outside Toronto.

If you have a passion for racing like Patrick does, read the book. I did it in one afternoon and evening when a storm took out my power. It was worth the flashlight batteries! It’s even easy to suspend the disbelief of reading a story told through the eyes of a great dog named Enzo.

You have to wish someone you like gets their dream fulfilled. I want that for Patrick.

Peace.

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

You had to see last night’s NASCAR Cup race at Daytona coming from far away. The crashes were wild even for a restrictor plate race.

Brad KeselowskiJust as predictable was the finger pointing by drivers taken out in the crashes. Brad Keselowski had the most talked about comment or threat really: “I’ve got to wreck more people,” Brad said. “We’ll go to Talladega, and we’ll wreck everybody that throws a bad block like that.”

Curiously, Rick Stenhouse, Jr. was around most of the wrecks in one way or another. Officials gave him a security escort out of the track after the race. He finished 17th. Erik Jones won the wreck-a-palooza. It was his first Cup win. Oddly the only lap he led was the only one that mattered, the last one.

For years we’ve talked about NASCAR officials allowing drivers to block others without fear of penalty. A lot of that was going on Saturday night in Daytona. Now, if you believe the heated comments after the race, the drivers will take matters into their own hands.

Maybe cooler heads will prevail by the time the schedule gets to Talladega in October. Otherwise, it could get uglier.

Peace.

It was nearly ten years ago that I talked with Monster Tajima about his switch to electric power at Pikes Peak. He was already the King of the Mountain and had been for many years.

It was Tajima who first told me that electric power was the mountain’s future and that electric cars would be going up the hill is less than ten minutes. That was a magic ceiling at the time.

But, with the road fully paved now, ten minutes is nothing for the highly backed cars. Volkswagen last weekend proved that, taking an electric powered prototype up the hill in an unbelievable 7m57.148s.
VW EV Pikes Peak 2018
Think about that for a minute. We thought Sebastien Loeb’s record of 8m13.878s in a highly radical Peugeot 208. Even the Peugeot computers thought it would take 30 seconds longer.

Now Volkswagen Motorsport is popping its collar saying it’s record showed the World Rally Championship “what’s possible” with electric rally cars.

That may be a long way off until after battery storage improves greatly. But what I love is a manufacturer using motorsport to show us what’s possible again. We’re seeing what could end up in the driveway instead of the refrigerator or closet.

This is a step in the right direction after VW’s diesel mess.

Peace.