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

Kyle LarsonIs six months enough time for Kyle Larson to return to the NASCAR Cup Series? I don’t think so.

It was April 13th when Larson let slip a racial slur during an iRacing event being streamed live. Within a couple days he’d lost his ride with Chip Ganassi and his sponsorships including McDonalds and Chevrolet.

But I don’t think six months is enough time to get the counseling and self-awareness help he clearly needs. Maybe Larson needs it more than most with his mixed ethnicity. His father is white and his mother Japanese American.

His career even benefited from diversity programs that opened doors for him.

I liked Kyle when he was in The Freak Nation. My disappointment was real last April.

At this time in history, some mea culpas and celebrity good wishes aren’t enough to cover the casualness of what he did. A return now would make NASCAR’s diversity efforts look amateurish.

Peace.

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

Before Saturday night’s race on the Charlotte Roval they called it a street course on steroids. It was that and more.

20-1010 IMSA Charlotte Roval

Normally I like to see drivers stretched to their limits. Drivers should be able to drive on any kind of track in any conditions in any direction.

But driving in the dark through a river of water between walls that challenged water drainage? That’s not racing. That’s random.

Saturday night I kept trying to be reasonable with my own expectations. Drivers should drive, right? But cornball tracks in cornball conditions is something else.

The rain did let up a bit to let some water drain away. That allowed the two IMSA GT categories to race legitimately. But there were only six cars in one class and 12 in another. Only three finished in the faster GTLM category.

Normally I love IMSA racing. But Saturday night was just that, a Saturday night gimmick. I hope it doesn’t become a norm but maybe I’m the only one who thinks random action is racing.

Peace.

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

If you’re a regular here you know I love Formula Drift and the business-like way the founders run the series.

2020 FD WAshington

The Covid issues this year forced Ryan Sage and Jim Liaw to make some changes in the event format. This weekend was the second doubleheader weekend of the year. State officials in Washington added another wrinkle, they did it without fans for the first time in the series 17-year history.

I read an analysis by veteran drifting journalist Joey Redmond that suggested doubleheader weekends might be the wave of the future. Qualifying falls from the schedule but, apparently, it’s not missed.

The 2020 pandemic will force most of us to consider a different way to do things in the new normal. Formula D shouldn’t be any different.

Last week The Freaks talked about the money saved when event weekends count for more than one chunk of race points. And saving money might become the bedrock foundation of whatever new will be. Ryan and Jim have led motorsports through dark valleys before. Maybe they can do it again.

Peace.

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

Sports IllusionWay back in the middle ‘80s, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I read a wonderful book “Sports Illusion, Sports Reality” by Leonard Koppett.

He rightly argued that fan interest waned and even disappeared unless promoters created the illusion that it mattered who won and lost the contest. I always likened it to pro basketball. The Globetrotters and Lakers have the same skill sets but it matters who wins and loses Lakers games. Globetrotters? Not so much.

I consider myself a sports car racing fan but I had the same feelings about this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Normally it’s a rite of summer for me watching Le Mans even throughout the night on television.

But this year the production waned and the announcers couldn’t make the outcome matter to me. Toyota winning its third straight race wasn’t as impressive as the Audi run of things in the early 2000s. Competition was much stiffer then but Audi started a run winning 13 of 15 races.

Maybe it was a different sensibility this year. Some people like parades. Maybe next year get Macy’s to string up balloons.

Peace.

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

Six-time World Driving Champion Lewis Hamilton won Sunday at the Tuscan Grand Prix in Italy. Post race he wore a t-shirt supporting Breonna Taylor while he talked with media.

Hamilton’s anti-racism efforts have been strong. This week he showed another interest launching X44, a team that will compete in the all-electric Extreme E off-road series.

Lewis Hamilton

It’s Hamilton’s first adventure into team ownership. He said this is a step towards raising awareness of global environmental issues.
Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport have announced teams as well. Hamilton says he will not be part of the X44 driver lineup and he won’t take a direct operational role in team.

Extreme E will race electric vehicles in five remote locations that are already damaged or severely threatened by melting ice caps and deforestation among other things damaging the planet.

The series is scheduled to begin in Senegal in January.

Peace.

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

Years ago, I heard of a Scandinavian medical study that looked at the inner ear balance in world class rally drivers.

The study said the best usually had more inner ear fila that allowed them to feel balance in the car that much quicker than a mere mortal. That split second advantage allowed them to drive faster on bad roads, the matrix for rally success.

I’ve bumped around on Google looking for some kind of confirmation with no success but the idea does make sense.

Lewis HamiltonI bring this up in conjunction with a Netflix interview involving David Letterman and Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton who won again Sunday in Belgium.

Someone in the audience muffled a sneeze and Hamilton dutifully offered a “Bless You…” without missing a beat in the conversation with Letterman. While the audience laughed, Hamilton apologized with a smile: “I have great hearing.”

Could also be his inner ear. He’s favored for a seventh world championship this year.

Peace

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

Lots of drama in Sunday’s Indy 500. Takuma Sato the winner over Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal. Sato is the 20th to win a second 500, the first in 2017.

But what I’ll take away from this is what Arrow Electronics revealed during a commercial.

Arrow logo

By far racing isn’t what’s at the top of its priority list. The exoskeletal Sam Suit for team owner Sam Schmidt looked like something from a sci-fi movie.

Schmidt has been in a wheelchair since his IndyCar accident in January 2000 during off-season testing in Florida. The accident rendered him a quadriplegic, and put him on a respirator for five months.

But in the last five years Arrow, one of Sam’s sponsors, has tricked out a Corvette that allows Sam to control the car at speed with his eyes. And now it’s working on the exo suit that allows him to walk.

Arrow says this is just the beginning. What this means for victims of spinal cord injuries is just wonderful. If you don’t find this stunning, check your pulse.

Peace.

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

Bruce Flandeers

Brian Nieman Photography

We’ve met some legends in the past 20 years of Freak. One of the largest: track announcer Bruce Flanders, the voice of the Long Beach Grand Prix for forty plus years.

Bruce died this week. A respiratory ailment. He died at home. He was 74. Bruce and his silky baritone voice made a race fun for fans. And I promise he took his craft seriously but not himself.

The one thing I won’t ever forget, though, is some Freak fun at the Long Beach Grand Prix. We had a promotion involving Boris Said and a rickshaw on Shoreline Drive.

He let us know to be ready by announcing to the throng: “Top Fuel Rickshaw to staging lane three.” Still brings a smile.

I’ve been in many booths with Bruce. Even shared a shot of rye or two with him. Bruce was special. A Vietnam Vet. Speedway bike rider and announcer who made me a Speedway Bike fan. Google Bruce Flanders. He was so good that fans stayed away when he wasn’t on the mic.

The next time you hear thunder in the sky, smile. Bruce is calling something.

Peace.

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

Many memories in twenty years of Freak-dom. One is meeting Gary Scelzi one night outside his motorhome. He was grilling for all comers and that included The Freaks. So, Scelzi fed me and that’s not forgotten easily.

But there’s another reason not to forget the four-time NHRA champion and that’s three in Top Fuel and one in Funny Car. We had a chance to watch his newborn son Giovanni grow up and become a more than competent driver himself.

Giovanni ScelziGiovanni started making a name in open-wheel Sprint Cars but he’s now moved to stock cars with one of the great ladder teams in racing, Bill McAnally Racing. The 18-year-old is one of four rookies on the team this year and this week finished a career best third in the ARCA West race outside Seattle Friday night.

Takes me back to a night at Irwindale when Giovanni was racing a Ford Midget Sprinter, I think. He won the race and I was calling Gary to let him know. But he was trying to rush me off the phone because he wanted to know how Giovanni did. Once he figured out the reason for the call Gary became a proud Dad and was almost (almost!) speechless.

Still a Scelzi in a stock car doesn’t make sense. Should be a Funny Car. But a Giovanni in a Cup Car would be great to hear. Here’s hoping.

Peace.

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

Formula One this week said it wasn’t bringing races to the Americas this season. That means events in Canada, the United States, Mexico and Brazil were done for this pandemic year.

Nu F1 LogoIn fact, the F1 paddock expressed some concern about coming to America and going to Brazil, two countries that don’t have a handle on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Letters went out this week triggering a rebuttal from the promoter in Brazil. He said the contract has a force majeure provision but the pandemic doesn’t meet that standard.

In fact, this might be an ongoing problem. And the issue might be F1’s new owners Liberty Media. It wants to race in Rio. The current contract puts the race in Sao Paulo. But that contract runs out this year and a new deal isn’t on the table.

Making matters worse Brazil hasn’t paid any fees since 2017, a going away present from Bernie Ecclestone.

If the pandemic isn’t something that’s out of everyone’s control, I don’t know what is. But the bigger issue might be the money. Always follow the money.
Peace.