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

First a disclaimer: I love IMSA sports car racing. But with that said, I can see some thinning of the herd in IMSA.

A new tire sponsor coming in 2019 will probably raise costs sending more teams to less expensive sports car programs like World Challenge and TransAm.

IMSA logo

World Challenge and TransAm continue growing year over year with starting grids made up of more and more drivers and teams fleeing IMSA.

And, make no mistake, those costs are enormous with races from 100 minutes to 24 hours inflating budgets enormously. For example, there are nearly more hours of racing in the Daytona 24 Hours than a full season in both World Challenge and TransAm COMBINED.

Those extra hours mean more drivers, more support personnel and more overall resources than either of the other two series. Add room, board and travel vouchers to all that and you can see where IMSA racing won’t be for the budget challenged. You’re largely out of luck unless you are spending factory money.

Going forward, this means there’ll be even more fantastic racing in World Challenge and TransAm and it’ll happen in a lot fewer than 24 or 12 or 10 hour blocks of your day.

Peace.

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

Several drivers started Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix like their hair was on fire.

Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen were on the front row when the green flag fell. Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen were in row two.

Vettel, Verstappen and Raikkonen launched toward the first turn. The three came together sending cars spinning. Fernando Alonzo who’d passed five cars at the start, wound up in the middle of the chaos and eventually had to retire.

In the middle of all of this was a wet track from a rainstorm right before the start.

2015F1Japan_HamiltonCelebs

Lewis Hamilton came out the big winner. He started fifth and dodged everything to find himself in first place by lap four. He stayed there in front of Ricciardo to win the race and jump from three to 28 points up in his championship fight with Vettel. Six races are left in the season.

In Singapore, during the two hours of the race there were some funny radio transmissions. Drivers were telling their crew to leave them alone or, from one driver, a curt “shut up!” when the engineer was trying to tell him something about the car’s performance.

Apparently an evening shower in the streets of Singapore will do that to you.

Funny what’s happened to F1. An American based company buys the series and, inside a year, the so-called best drivers in the world have all become stock car personalities.

Peace.

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

We haven’t talked about Formula Drift much but that doesn’t mean the series isn’t growing. Not by a LONG shot!
James Deane
Last night was the seventh of eight rounds in the 2017 championship. Irish driver James Deane (On the left) won at Texas Motor Speedway over three-time champion Chris Forsberg. Deane’s fourth event win of the season ties a Formula Drift record and puts him in the driver’s seat with one event left at Irwindale Speedway October 13th and 14th.

The only person with a mathematical chance to catch Deane at Irwindale is 2015 champion Frederic Aasbo from Norway.

Notice a trend? The guys who started Formula Drift in 2004 built a global brand in the midst of a global recession and emerged on the other side with millions caring about who wins and loses.

According to Formula D the event in Texas was at capacity and the live stream had more than one million views Friday and Saturday.

Obviously tire makers care about the tire shredding sport. But auto makers are represented strongly. From the top ten at Texas there were four Nissans, three Toyotas and two Mustangs.

PLUS five of the top ten in points are from Ireland, Norway, Lithuania, Latvia and Japan. Formula Drift is strong with a defined audience and market. One of the few in racing who can say that.

Peace.

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

FansIt’s amazing how much time we spend ruminating over who will win or lose and why.

Then there’s weekends like the one I just had sitting on a beach bench with a lifelong friend and watching a seven-year-old fly his first kite.

Imagine the kite store and watching him fight anxiety with all that untamed breeze outside. He finally chose the delta kite that looked like a B2 bomber. It flew easily but, still, it was the excitement in the eyes that you don’t see in everything.

You watch kids at a hundred-dollar a seat race and once the oppressive noise is gone the next excitement comes in the concession line. A hot dog here, a soft drink there. Tasteless nachos…

But nothing beats watching the child learn enough to turn to his Mom to try and teach her the nuance of flight; until she drops the string and everyone has to run after the escaping kite.

For a couple hours he forgot about nachos.

Try it sometime. Look into a child’s eyes and see something he or she wants instead of something you wish you had or want again.

Peace.

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

Support this week for electric vehicles in the Red Bull Global Rallycross championship.

Michael AndrettiThe series announced plans, or maybe hopes, for the cars starting in 2018.  Now Michael Andretti is on record liking the idea.
Andretti Autosport already campaigns in Formula E and may partner with BMW when the German manufacturer enters that championship next season.

Scott Speed2The team dominates GRC with Volkswagen now. Scott Speed could win his third straight title this year. Tanner Foust led the championship this year until Speed jumped ahead at the last stop in Atlantic City.

Rallycross is perfect for big torque race cars and that describes battery power. The short format races also lend themselves to battery power without recharging during the race.

Not mentioned is the fact that the GRC needs an infusion of factory cash as quickly as possible. Helping carmakers show off electric power to car buyers could get that support sooner than later.

Peace.

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

I heard one of the dumbest ideas for NASCAR this week.

Andrew Murstein, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, threw out the idea of a spending cap to level the playing field in the sport. Among other things he said it would increase fan interest because more teams would have a chance to win.

FansThese are odd comments in a season that’s seen ten straight races with different winners heading into this weekend. Nine different teams have won Cup races this year with no organization winning more than four of the previous 21 this season.

And let me add that spending caps haven’t created that kind of diversity in stick-and-ball sports championships. Look it up. Good management creates success in any business not caps on staff salaries.

It’s frustrating that NASCAR refuses to deal with the biggest impediment to audience growth: There’s too many races and they’re all too long. Both of those ideas, though, mean fewer TV commercials and that means less money for NASCAR’s front office.

Like I said, someone needs to consider better management of the sport.

Peace.

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

More evidence that motor racing can’t escape larger world headlines.

2016 Porsche LeMans

Porsche this week said it’s leaving the World Endurance Championship at the end of this year. Reports said Porsche was spending more than $200 million annually on its highly successful Prototype program. That includes wins in the last three 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Fellow German carmaker Audi left the WEC after years of domination to run in the Formula E championship.  In fact, Audi driver Lucas di Grassi is the 2017 Formula E champion after a win Saturday and a seventh on Sunday in Montreal.  It’s thought Formula E is where Porsche will end up after showroom competitors Audi, BMW and Mercedes made that transition earlier.

But you can’t ignore another headline brewing in Europe where all of the above including VW are drowning in a controversy surrounding charges of collusion in all their diesel car programs.

We know VW is fighting in America to overcome charges of cheating US smog tests with its diesel car software.

The stories in Germany accuse German carmakers of being a cartel amid allegations that far exceed those facing VW here in America.

Billions in fines could be on the horizon. That might find little left for motor racing, financially or emotionally.

Peace.

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

IMSA racing on Saturdays is pretty common. But whenever IMSA races at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, as it did this week, a Saturday race is sort of mandatory.

More than fifty years ago homeowners surrounding the track won some regulations that banned racing on Sundays and the number of annual noise days. Motorcycles were banned altogether.

The No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R driven by Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, races to a eighth place finish Sunday, July 22, 2017, during the IMSA Weathertech Mobil 1 SportsCar Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut. (Photo by Richard Prince for Chevy Racing).

The track itself is idyllically beautiful in equally beautiful countryside. No freeways come close to the track. Even villages with common amenities aren’t close.

A small church across the road near the start finish line gets blamed for the No Sunday Racing. But Trinity Episcopal Church says it’s coexisted with the track for four decades.  It’s the homeowners that stay in court to keep fifty year old rules in place.

All of this seems strange for one of the most famous ports of call in motor racing history.

Makes you wonder how reasonable you have to be with people who move next door to a race track and expect the track to be quiet to meet neighbor needs.

Peace.

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

Like many things in life the concept of “class” is pretty difficult to define but you know it when you see it.

Scott Speed2The Red Bull Global Rallycross Series made its first visit to the Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis this weekend. Scott Speed won with his Andretti Volkswagen teammate Tanner Foust tannerfoustfinishing second. Tanner leads Speed in the season points.

Only ten drivers were in Indy. We’ve already talked about the problems in the GRC. Manufacturer support is down. Sponsor support is down. Driver entries are down.

Exorbitant fees charged car makers is one reason. The costs approach a half million dollars. Ford left the series last year and, now, the Ford name isn’t even listed among the drivers who run Ford Fiestas in the series.

Volkswagen, Subaru and Honda are all mentioned. But no Ford in the results. M-Sport, a Ford performance house in the UK, is on the website but not the results.

I guess those three drivers in Fiestas were on bicycles. Like I said, you know class when you see it. Or don’t.

Peace.

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

The NASCAR Cup series was a shining light this week. Saturday night at Daytona the end of the race found new names competing wheel to wheel for the win. It wasn’t a situation where the big names like Harvick or Johnson or Busch were in the battle and lost.

This time some new names like Ricky Stenhouse and Paul Menard and David Ragan were in the battle and Stenhouse came out ahead for his second win of the season.

It could be because Ford has put together a great season for guys like Stenhouse, Clint Bowyer and Ragan. But for the sake of NASCAR’s Cup future some new people are learning race win craft and that’s a good thing.

Joao BarbosaAnd speaking of race craft and wins, if you didn’t see the pass for the lead and ultimate IMSA victory today at Watkins Glen you missed something special.

I just don’t understand people who call themselves race fans but spit at sports car racing.

Joao Barbosa drove around Stephen Simpson on the outside of turn one, something that’s supposed to be impossible but he did it anyway. Barbosa then held off Simpson to get the six hour win at The Glen.

Seeing guards change and impossible things unfold is what makes racing, or sports in general, special.

Peace.