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

Between workouts, walks and bike rides I’ve become a pretty good consumer of podcasts.

The Los Angeles Times, in fact, did a great series called Dirty John. I understand it’s even becoming a television show. Now the LA Times Studios have a series made for The Freak Nation. It’s called Larger Than Life and that’s the only way to describe Big Willie Robinson, the founder and president of the Los Angeles County Street Racers.

Larger Than Life

Long before TV’s Street Outlaws in the 405, there were street racers ON the 405 in Southern California.

I discovered Big Willie one night in 1968, standing in a pickup bed screaming to the assembled throng in a shopping center at Crenshaw and Slauson at 3 AM. If a large muscled black man in a black derby hat screaming at that time in the morning with the LAPD watching and doing nothing didn’t get your attention you needed to move along and wake up later.

The Larger Than Life podcast describes how Big Willie saved LA streets from illegal racing and rioting at a time when everyone wanted nothing more.

It’s a Larger than Life story about a Larger Than Life man at a time when LA streets were making Larger Than Life headlines. Listen and learn.


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

How do you do a 19th anniversary show without first saying thank you to the Freak Nation. Without you no one would care about The Freaks. Thank you.

SC_FreaksIt’s crazy to think about where we’ve come from. One hour. One station. And one night we only had one mic to share between us.

We’ve been in studios where the trash wasn’t emptied until we emptied it ourselves. We had giant crows camped outside one studio. Now I’m in a studio where I can watch deer amble by the window.

There have been drivers who’ve become friends. Drivers who are no longer with us. Drivers who were so lengendous you had to pay attention that they were actually talking to us. Nineteen years of life changing memories.

One of the biggest memories for me? The people who thought we wouldn’t make it 19 weeks much less 19 years. A couple of them are in jail now and we’re still spending Sunday nights with you.

The Freaks are 19 years down the road and still grabbin’ gears still accelerating and still looking for 19 more.


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

I’m not sure I understand all the drawing board rules of the new world sports car category for what’s called hypercars. But I do understand that hypercars will expand hybrid technology, electrification and production-based machines at the top of world sports car racing.

I think that’s a wonderfully good thing and, evidently, manufacturers are seeing it that way as well. Toyota has committed along with Aston Martin. McLaren is studying the new rules along with Ford.
2020 Hypercars
This top class will replace the uber expensive LMP1 class with lap times approximately equal to what is now LMP2. That alone indicates the rule book will tilt toward production-based machinery even though prototypes will be allowed.

Ford’s departure from GT racing to consider a hypercar program will tell you that manufacturers are interested in less expensive machinery that somehow makes people think showroom and not wish worlds.

Now, if only the NASCAR-based IMSA program would get on board.


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

Earlier this week I noticed a Tweet that moaned the sponsorship woes surrounding two young and brilliant IndyCar drivers, Colton Herta and Patricio O’Ward.

Patricio OWardColton HertaTheir money problems were supposed to be an indication of growing troubles in the sport.

But upon further review, you might look at the drivers themselves and the state of all racing in 2019.

A very quick look at the Social Media presence of O’Ward and Herta shows there are far less than fifty thousand fans following both drivers even when you combine their published Twitter and Facebook followers.

Certainly, that’s a lot when you consider public accounts. But looking at celebrity accounts that’s a minuscule number. Sponsors these days want to audience return for their investments. Winning, losing and performance are secondary considerations.

Now, if you want to argue the value of that, then have it. But if you want sponsor support today, you need to create a universe the sponsors want to visit.


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

I was part of the world media banging the drum when Estonian rally driver Ott Tanak out dueled Sebastian Loeb and Sebastian Ogier to win the World Rally Championship round in Chile two weeks ago.

Loeb and Ogier represent the last 15 world rally titles. Tanak? He’s just entering the world stage spotlight. Hands were wringing over the thought of another shootout this weekend.

2019 Tanak Portugal

Tanak , though, doubled down on the Chile success winning in Portugal this weekend. Ogier was third but Loeb showed some age crashing out after a difficult event that found him fighting off backmarkers all weekend.

Tanak, in fact, had wisdom in Portugal. You get bonus points for doing well in the last stage of a World Rally Championship round. The Power Stage is largely for television and the extra points encourage drivers to do well in front of the cameras.

Tanak, though, slowed at the end making sure Ogier won the Power Stage. He surrendered the points but Ogier’s success means he’ll start first on the road at the next event in Italy. First on the road means you get to clean away the gravel so all the cars behind you have a faster track to follow. Smart.


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

Zak  BrownMcLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown shouldn’t buy any green bananas.

The American was hired on promises that he’d find a full-time sponsor for the McLaren Formula One program while making the brand competitive and, possibly, a winner at Indy. So far, neither has worked out.

The McLaren brand does more than race cars. It builds and sells road cars and bids on technology contracts around the world.

But it’s hard to ask for a nine figure technology contract or sell a seven figure road car on Monday when you can’t get into a famous motor race on Sunday.

IndyCar chassis are spec made by the Italian company Dallara. But some changes are allowed to make the chassis respond the way the teams want. McLaren’s massaged spec chassis was written off in a crash Wednesday.

McLaren found a chassis already massaged by another team but couldn’t get that chassis into the 500, even with their own engineers and a two-time Formula One champion behind the wheel.

McLaren is losing money in F1 under Zak Brown’s leadership. Now they’ve failed to make it into the Indy 500, a success that was promised by Brown when he was hired nearly three years ago.

Tough to sell that on Monday or any other time.


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

You probably didn’t hear much about it but there was masterful win by Ott Tanak at Rally Chili this weekend.

Ott TanakThe Estonian driver led most of the event in his Toyota to move within ten points of the lead in the World Rally Championship.

Stunningly, Tanak held off talent that represented the last fifteen WRC titles. Current points leader Sebastian Ogier, the six-time defending champion, finished second this weekend. Third was Sebastian Loeb who won the nine championships before that dating back to 2004.

The crazy thing about Loeb this year is that he’s in a Hyundai. He won his nine consecutive titles in a Citroen. Last year, when Loeb indicated he wanted to return to the WRC, Citroen said it didn’t have room for him. Now Loeb is nipping at Citroen’s heel finishing only seven seconds behind Ogier in what might be Loeb’s former ride.

That last point might be a stretch but seeing the Frenchman climbing back into the rally spotlight in a Korean car gives one pause and makes you think crazily.


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

Lots of noise these days about the falling attendance and TV ratings in NASCAR. Here’s some more.

Looking at the Top 20 in points going into Dover, there are only TWO drivers with less than five years experience. TWO. Alex Bowman is fifteenth and William Byron is nineteenth in points.

Chase ElliottEven 23-year-old Chase Elliott, who’s seventh in points, has been around five years and 123 races. There’s little room for new drivers and new fans that would rebuild popularity.

The average age of a NASCAR Cup driver was 34. That’s older than F1 and IndyCar.

Maybe a title run by Chase Elliott this year would reinvigorate the fan base. But knowing the media, they’d spent all the available time lauding Chase’s Dad Bill Elliott, himself a former champion.

Sounds like there’s only room for old guys on the track and in the stands. Sounds like a Presidential field instead of a motor race.


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

I saw a great 60 Minutes Sports piece this week. It was a feature on the Jackson Wink MMA gym in Albuquerque. The gym has trained champions including Holly Holmes who helped send Rhonda Rousey into wrestling with an upset win in 2015.

Among other training methods the gym sends fighters up a mountain seven times in the 6500 foot elevations of the Sandia Mountains outside Albuquerque. It teaches fighters to focus when they’re uncomfortable.

Jimmie JohnsonMy mind drifted to racing drivers who must focus in the most uncomfortable of environments. Some don’t, obviously. Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson certainly has.

I don’t know if Johnson’s training methods include mountains but he’s been a champion in off-road racing and that’s the definition of focus in a difficult environment.

And April 15th Johnson ran the Boston Marathon in three hours, nine minutes, seven seconds. A fantastic time and an example of focus in a difficult environment. Maybe more drivers should be training in the gym or on a mountain instead of just a racetrack.


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

The people who run World Rallycross, IMG, are bending to pressure from global car makers. They’re demanding a showcase electric and hybrid machinery, the kinds of vehicles manufacturers want to sell in showrooms.

2017 Ken Block Rallycross

This week IMG announced Projekt E, an initiative for electric car competition. It will be part of the World RX weekend by 2021 at the latest.

IMG says this is an acknowledgement of “a future that embraces sustainability, responsibility and advanced technologies.”

That sentence, however, ignores threats from manufacturers to withdraw from racing series unless something is done to create new technologies they can embrace.

Rallycross might be the perfect vehicle for electrification. The races are short and demand quick power and torque, all benefits of a battery powered machine.

Let’s hope it flies.