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

Some thoughts on Saturday’s 12 hours of Sebring.

Sebring 12 Hr logo

A great weekend! An eight-hour World Endurance Championship race on Friday and the IMSA Sebring 12 Hour on Saturday. We need more weekends like that.

Eleven drivers did both races. Just a great show.

My hat’s off to NBC Sports or IMSA for building a video promo that didn’t feature a crash of any kind. Somebody should get an award; certainly a raise.

I like that no one has bothered to repave the Sebring track. It’s bumpy, just short of an off-road race. The drivers complained but they drove on it anyway, not like some who complain for a living. Saturday they raced in the rain in horrible conditions and still put on a great show.

I continue to be amazed that Mazda hasn’t been able to make their prototype work for an entire race. Even the German Team Joest hasn’t been able to make the thing get to the end at speed at the front of the line.

Finally at the end of the race only two cars didn’t finish and one of those went out with less than nine minutes to go. What an incredible show!

Peace.

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

The Long Beach Grand Prix goes back to 1975 but there’s a problem.

There’s a proposal that could take the east end of the track, including the famous Shoreline hairpin, and turn it into a baseball stadium for the Los Angeles Angels Major League Baseball team.

LBGP 2019

The Angels lease at Anaheim Stadium runs out after the 2020 season. So the talk now is about renovating Anaheim Stadium or building a new one, maybe in Long Beach.

The Grand Prix is considered America’s most popular street race with IndyCar and IMSA headlining the weekend. The city’s latest contract with the race runs through 2023. But the city might have some opt outs in there.

Whatever happens I’d put my money on Race President Jim Michaelian. He’s fought off many efforts to shut it down.

The race saved Long Beach. The city was a dump before the race came. I’d put my money on Michaelian to keep it going.

Peace

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

A report this week said Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas lost some twenty million dollars in state support for the Formula One race last fall.

The Austin American Statesman newspaper said COTA failed to submit a required human trafficking prevention plan in time and that killed the state funding.

Nu F1 LogoState funding has been an on-going problem between COTA and the state of Texas. COTA says the state funding is necessary to meet F1’s seven figure sanction fee.

The state reimbursed COTA $27 million through an event reimbursement program in 2017, $26 million in 2016 and $22.7 million in 2015 for the only F1 race in the United States.

This doesn’t look good. An American based corporation buys F1 and the only American race might have financial problems meeting F1’s financial demands. And the promoters might have no one to blame but themselves.

There’s hope this can be resolved in the coming months.

Peace.

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

NASCAR brags that it’s Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, opens the season.

That pride, though, should be tempered with some embarrassment. The inexperienced shouldn’t be allowed to run in the biggest race of the year.

Monster NASCAR logoThere needs to be a commitment to upgrade the product even if it means reducing the size of the field. NASCAR’s current president Steve Phelps says he wants to improve the product. Let’s see if he will.

All this is the residue of today’s Daytona 500 where two inexperienced drivers triggered a major accident while trying to slow down for a pit stop with 42 laps to go in the race. The accident gathered, among others, one of the sport’s biggest stars and a threat to win today, Jimmie Johnson.

No other major league sport is so cavalier about their biggest event. You just can’t have something so important be determined by inexperienced participants.

Saying this is the way we’ve always done it just isn’t acceptable. Maybe I’m not supposed to understand.

Peace.

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

It’s disappointing to learn that the World Rally Championship has pushed hybrid and electric technology at least five years down the road.

Automakers say they were promised five years of stability with the current regulations first. I hope that’s not just something to table discussion. And what’s wrong with a demonstration class of five or ten cars?

Here in the U.S. Ford is leading the crossover to more hybrid and electric choices in the showroom. To make that step the product lineup will be cut and that makes sense. The marketplace is demanding the changes.

The World Endurance Championship and F1 have made the moves. I’m sure there is something that will crossover to rallying.

Rallycross is supposed to make the change soon. Ice racers already have an electric category. But racing with batteries in a circle is far different from sending them out into the woods for several hours. After all, that’s the way it’s done every morning going to work.

We can all agree that sitting around talking and meeting about it won’t get it into our driveways any quicker.

Peace.

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

Of course there was disappointment in this camp at the way the Rolex 24 ended being called in the rain.

19-0127 Rolex RainI can imagine there were only four teams really happy with the decision from IMSA to call the race after two long Red
Flag periods to wait out the storm. Obviously, those teams were the class winners who inherited the victories.

As a fan at home, though, there was also some disappointment at the way the 24 hour race was handled by NBC Sports.
Half the time I couldn’t find the broadcast anywhere on my web enabled television.

At least FOX Sports would parcel out the mid race programming to any of several cable or internet streaming services.
But you could watch the race almost from flag to flag somewhere.

That wasn’t the case with NBC, at least not for me. Maybe I just didn’t have the latest information but isn’t that the
point? How do you build an audience if the audience can’t see the show?

Here’s hoping the upcoming season will be a little more visible.

Peace.

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

In a world where sponsorships are coveted like your next breath, we’re told it was a simple phone call that brought IndyCar its next series partner.

An executive at Chip Ganassi Racing had been working with NTT Data, a Japanese corporation, when he suggested that IndyCar officials give them a call. He said NTT Data sounded like it would listen to a sponsorship pitch for 2019.

NTT Data logo

We’re told it all came together in only three months, something unheard of in the motorsports business world.

NTT Data already sponsors one of Ganassi’s cars so it wasn’t tough to sell the company on the value of IndyCar’s growing brand.

NTT Data is a major communications company in Japan that grosses nearly $110 billion annually. It seems a natural to have a high tech company at the reins in the high tech world of motor racing.

Activating the sponsorship and l etting people know that they’re in charge shouldn’t be a tough task.
Peace.

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

You wonder what’s going on at NASCAR.

NASCARlogoA report this week said dozens of employees were let go. Sports Business Journal said the layoffs amounted to less than five percent of NASCAR’s workforce.

Unless you’re one of the “dozens,” this may not be much of an alarm. NASCAR doesn’t need a lot of people in the home office to conduct business. Much of its work force shows up at the racetrack to run the weekend events.

But when you send people home that’s always cause for concern. Connect some dots in the business picture. NASCAR isn’t in the racing business as much as it’s in the advertising business. Its product is audience.

NASCAR sells ratings or eyeballs and butts in seats to advertisers who want to sell something to those eyeballs and butts. If there are fewer eyeballs and butts, the billing invoices are smaller.

Smaller income means less money to spend on everything including salaries.

And still, NASCAR won’t change the way it builds its ultimate product. Odd times.

Peace.

 

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

For more than a decade I was a complete fan of the sport rallycross.  I loved the short races, the high horsepower cars, the pavement and dirt tracks and the drivers who could navigate all of it.
Rallycross photos © QNIGAN.COM 2014
Early on, though, I noticed that promoters here in America were selling the sizzle and not the steak.  Action stars like Travis Pastrana, Ken Block, and Tanner Foust were the draw.

But as those stars dimmed, the sport dimmed with it.  Now the TV is gone, the heat around the hype is gone and efforts to promote the sport in America are more difficult.

There was a big blow this week when the World Rallycross Championship decided to take away the points from its event at Circuit of the America’s in Texas. The event is still on the calendar but it’s unlikely the European stars will return without a points incentive.

Sad.  Selling stars works as long as the stars stay important.  When they don’t, what do you have left?  Just something to do.  There’s a lot of that in motorsports these days.

Peace.

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

It’s easy to miss Toyota’s domination in NHRA drag racing. You don’t see Camrys or Corollas in any of the classes after all.

JRToddBut Toyota sponsored drivers and teams won ten races this year. J.R. Todd won three of the last five races in the NHRA Countdown on his way to his first Funny Car title. Todd won six races in all, most of any driver in the 2018 season.

It’s taken several conversations through the years to learn what Toyota Racing Development engineers do in drag racing. Considering the speeds, the aerodynamic design work in Funny Car and Top Fuel might be the most important contribution.

2018 Todd Toyota NHRAThen there’s the engineering involved in reading the race track conditions. That helps team crew chiefs get ten thousand horsepower down the drag strip.

I was laughed at a few years ago when I suggested to a team affiliate that Toyota could make some hay putting its NASCAR engine into Pro Stock. Too expensive was the reply and that was after they already had the engine!

Engineering in drag racing might be overlooked in the sport. We get caught up in numbers but Toyota’s found a way to shrink the numbers to their favor.

Peace.