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

Jari-Matti LatvalaI try not to get emotionally involved with drivers in motor sports. But I am human and several are special to me.

One of those is Finnish driver Jari-Matti Latvala who won Rally Sweden this weekend in only the second event of Toyota’s return to world rallying after 17 years on the sidelines.

When Latvala was at Ford four years ago we had memorable conversations mostly about his love of the U.S., especially Las Vegas, where he could go and relax without being stalked by world rally fans.

This weekend was Latvala’s 17th career win. It leaves him atop the World Rally Championship points, the first time someone other than Sebastien Ogier was leading the series since 2014.

In addition to Latvala I also cheer for his Toyota boss, Tommi Makinen, a four-time champion who brought the Toyota team online this year with cars he developed at his shops in Finland.

A lot happened in Sweden this weekend, not the least of which was watching some pretty great people experience success after months of hard work and dedication.

Peace.

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

Saturday night I was watching Supercross in Anaheim, watching Ryan Dungey run away with his first win if the young season.

FansAnd it came to mind that Feld Entertainment and Supercross have cornered the market on an audience that NASCAR is drooling over, Millennials. Young families. And children who just love to scream and spend Mom and Dad’s money.

NASCAR hopes it can tap into some of that audience through its new relationship with the Supercross sponsor, Monster Energy Drink.

But let’s look at this a moment. The Supercross show on a Saturday night packs eight races and qualifying, into far less time than it takes NASCAR to run one race.

Think about that for a minute. I’ve seen Millennial audiences leave motor racing events before the final of the night not to beat the traffic, but to get on with their lives. They have better things to do with a three or four hour window.

Something tells me the NASCAR Monster Energy relationship will wake up in a few years like Don Draper. Completely unsatisfied and looking for another affair.

Peace.

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

The San Diego Chargers move to Los Angeles bothers me. Greatly.

FansIn the 80s I came to the realization that the real final score in professional sports is the bottom line. The real scam in the whole thing is convincing the fans they have a part to play in the entire vaudevillian process.

The fans in San Diego supported poor ownership and bad decisions for more than 50 years. They came and shouted and cheered and now are left with nothing but memories that are turning bitter by the minute.

I live in Los Angeles. I was here when the Rams left. I was here when the Raiders came and left. I was here when the Rams came back. And now the Chargers ownership wants its bite of the Orange.  You have to wonder about the intelligence of building two billion dollar palaces when fans all over the world are trying to figure out how to take their experience home in high definition, 3D virtual reality comfort.

Most LA fans don’t want either team. They don’t want hundred dollar parking. Nor TV blackouts. Nor twenty dollar hot dogs. Nor profane fans who drunkenly include you in their mania.

What’s this have to do with racing? Nothing unless you count ownership greed, fan contempt, and prices that build a barrier between the promotion and the spectator.

To coin a phrase: “Those deaf, dumb and blind owners sure play a mean shell game.”

Peace.

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

Ford logoIt would appear Ford is plugging into the hybrid and electric car business with passion.

This week the global carmaker announced plans to invest seven hundred million dollars into an existing Michigan plant to build autonomous and electric vehicles.

Ford also announced thirteen new global electrified vehicles in the next five years. That includes a hybrid F-150 pickup, a hybrid Mustang and a fully electric SUV with a range of at least 300 miles.

Ford says it’s putting $4.5 billion behind this electric bet. That’s a lot of money going into cars that don’t turn left at Bristol or Daytona.

Now, I’m not an insider but I do understand that Ford’s better idea is selling cars and that includes the kind of cars the public – AND government – indicates it wants in America’s showrooms. If fans don’t care about turning left, neither will Ford.

Ford’s been downsizing it’s racing budgets for several years. Don’t be surprised if they leave racing as we know it altogether.

Peace.

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

Motor racing is filled with drivers and teams who paid their bills with illegal money.

For example, Don and Bill Whittington, two brothers who raced at Indianapolis, faced drug smuggling charges running a business out of South Florida. According to the government they won at Le Mans in 1979 with a car paid for with drug money.

Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 hour winner John Paul Sr. did 15 years for drug smuggling and shooting a Federal witness. When he got out he disappeared on a boat while being sought for further questioning.

Scott TuckerNow there’s word that Level Five Motorsports team owner Scott Tucker is facing four more charges in connection with his payday loan business.

Tucker and his attorney thought setting up the business on Native American reservations could skirt U.S. federal laws. They’ve been ordered to pay nearly $1.3 billion to the Federal Trade Commission for business practices that allegedly defrauded customers.

Tucker faces trial next April.

When we wish we could be out there, maybe we should think again. We never know what’s behind those shiny haulers and flying race cars, do we?

Peace.

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

I’m trying to make up my mind on electronic sports or video gaming competition.

Nissan has had great success moving drivers from the couch to the race track with its GT Academy partnership with PlayStation. Several Nissan racers have had success at Le Mans and elsewhere in the World Endurance Championship.

Now Porsche is in the game with a Porsche-themed Rivals competition event in Forza Motorsport 6. There’s a wild video of a driver all but out of control going around Road Atlanta using Forza software.

As you can imagine Red Bull is also in the program with Porsche. The Red Bull 5G competition features gamers doing battle across multiple titles with Project Cars joining fantasy games League of Legends, Street Fighter V, Hearthstone and Rocket League.

I’ll admit I don’t know much about those programs. But I’m not the target audience for the marketing.

This latest push is probably geared more toward holiday gift giving instead of getting someone ready for Le Mans. Maybe we’ll learn that what worked for Nissan may work for Porsche and we’ll find a less expensive way to get drivers ready for the green flag.

Peace.

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

A special chapter in motor racing history closed this weekend in Bahrain. Audi left the World Endurance Championship with a one-two victory in its last race, the Six Hours of Bahrain, Audi’s 107th WEC win.

It could be argued that Audi wrote its own book on top-of-the-line Le Mans prototypes. Audi unveiled its R10 prototype in December of 2005 then won its first two races at the 2006 12 Hours of Sebring and the 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans.

It continued winning with the R15 and, now the R18 all-wheel drive, diesel powered monster that’s the epitome of Audi technology.

WEC Austin 2014

But, alas, the worldwide Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal hit Audi hard. VW owns Audi and once the fifteen billion dollar settlement was announced, Audi said it was pulling out of the WEC to concentrate on Formula E.

Personally I like the call. Audi is looking to bring electric power to more of its road cars. Formula E is the place to develop that technology.

But we can thank Audi for showing us a commitment to excellence and changing the way we think about diesel power.

Maybe they’ll also do that for electric power now.

Peace.

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

Something happened at the Circuit of the Americas TransAm race Saturday.

Championship contenders Paul Fix and Amy Ruman were battling early in the sprint race when Fix regularly left the track, all four wheels of his Corvette off the track on the exit of turns , as he battled with Ruman in her Corvette.

16-1105_TA_Fix_COTA

There were Social Media comments as people watched the highlights over the weekend. Ruman fans complained. Fix fans argued that’s racing.

I tend to be on the side of the Ruman fans. And for full disclosure, I am a Ruman fan. She’s one of the best spots car drivers in America. But why define a track if you don’t enforce the boundaries?

Fix went on to win the race and knock Ruman from the points lead with one race left at Daytona next weekend. If Ruman wrestles the championship from Fix it would be her second straight in TransAm.

But here’s hoping someone does something about track borders. If it’s good enough for Formula One, I think it’s good enough for American TransAm.

Peace

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

The Red Bull Global Rallycross series will add competition for all-electric vehicles starting in 2018, two years from now.

2015GRCFtLaud_BlockFliesIt’ll be a distinct standalone series separate from the Supercars and GRC Lites currently competing.

I love this idea. The GRC is the perfect series to highlight all-electric power. The races are short bursts of energy meaning the cars can compete eight or ten laps on one battery charge.

For a change, the GRC will have significance for auto makers. Tearing up machines isn’t as valuable as proving machines can perform outside of our wildest dreams. That could open up new cars for us to buy.

There’s already an electric GT series coming on line. Now stepping up the idea to the rough and tumble world of rallycross is an excellent way of proving the performance of electricity.

Let’s hope this week’s announcement isn’t someone’s pipe dream, that this actually happens and automakers give it their full-throated support.

Peace.

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

Pay attention to the biggest business headline of the week: ATT has offered more than eighty billion dollars to buy Time Warner. When a distributor buys a content producer it’s massive news.

FansThere’s another broadcast story, though, that involves computer generated advertising during live television broadcasts.
It was big news several months ago when ESPN put ads into the World Cup hockey tournament.

Motor racing has done this for years. In drag racing you’ll see corporate logos super imposed on the lane surfaces for television.

Formula One goes even further by creating posts and signs that drape OVER the track with sponsor logos. IndyCar broadcasts featured CGI advertising on posts during the Indy 500 years ago. One looked like it was on the entry to pit lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It’s important on international broadcasts when some sponsors want consumers in one country and not in others.

Get used to it. Rights fees are going up and broadcasters spending the money need more and more ways to get that money back. Especially when fewer viewers are out there.

Now, what happens when promoters start using CGI to put fans in the empty seats?

Peace.