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

MoneyMany in racing drool over the possibility of manufacturer money in the sport.

But manufacturer’s deep, deep pockets bring deep, deep danger. I say constantly that car makers’ first priority is selling cars and not winning races. They’re all in when racing meets that need. They’re not when it doesn’t.

We see that now in IMSA with Chip Ganassi Racing. The Ganassi garage has been one of IMSA’s most successful operations. That includes six overall wins in the Rolex 24 and two additional class wins with Ford in 2017 and 18.

But Ford’s four-year program ended in October and efforts to partner with a privateer team have failed where Ganassi’s concerned. We’re told Ganassi packed up everything and moved on in recent days.

We might see them back in two years when new rules take effect.

Ford’s commitment to its own future was evident in 2018 when it announced billions for hybrids and electrification in its showrooms. The Freaks were told no racing programs would be affected. How’s that working out now?


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

The death of former NBA Commissioner David Stern brought back memories during our break.

David Stern

In the mid-80s I was doing a daily TV show called The Business of Sports. Stern and I talked during a five-part interview and later about an economic forecasting model I’d created.

The NBA was looking at expanding into several markets like Miami and Minneapolis. My model would have forecast success in those markets.

We had several phone calls but Stern came to this: “I like your presentation but I just can’t justify paying you fifty thousand dollars when I’ve already paid someone $150,000 to tell me the same thing.”

The point is this: Stern listened to out of the box ideas. That’s why the NBA exploded worldwide under his leadership.

Racing executive could learn from listening. When fans scream weekly by staying away from races and TVs you have to wonder about executives who won’t listen to those screams.

Happy New Year. Peace.

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

First of all, this isn’t a movie review. The last time I reviewed a movie I told the truth and was never invited back to review another one.

Ford vs Ferrari logo

I paid to go see Ford vs. Ferrari on Friday at noon. For me, it was excellent.

But it’s not a documentary. For example, the producers wanted us to believe that Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California was Daytona, including signage on the front straight.

For me, the story was about the friendship between Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. The film could have been called Carroll and Ken but some might have confused that with a romantic comedy. So, even if you don’t like racing, the story is worth a couple hours of your time.

A Ford won Le Mans in 1966, ’67, ’68 and ’69. But the factory effort failed miserably in 1965. The movie details some of that but the video below details a lot. Take a look.

As for Ford vs. Ferrari? Take the time especially if you like good stories about larger than life characters.


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

Roger PenskeSo Roger Penske bought everything IndyCar. The announcement came this week proving it is possible to keep a secret in modern media.

But we’re told the actual deal doesn’t become official until January.

The largest headline, though, might be what wasn’t announced: the money. The Speedway and Penske are both private companies so they’re not obligated to say anything.

Roger said he hasn’t paid any money yet and he spent much of the week looking over his purchase.

A respected piece of media this week valued that purchase at anywhere from 300 to 350 million dollars.

If a top ten race at a top ten venue in a top ten series is only worth a .275 hitter in baseball, motor racing is more niche activity than anyone wants to believe.

Here’s the point. Imagine if your house was valued at $500 million and your neighbors dumped their house in a distress sale at $250 million; you’d be spitting nails. In short, any stakeholder in the racing industry should be spitting nails tonight.

The biggest question is why Tony George dumped his house on the market now. Yes, Virginia, secrets are possible in modern media.


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

Six championships. That was hard to imagine for Lewis Hamilton back when he started F1 in 2007. His great times in winter testing were encouraging but six title?!

Lewis Hamilton

Then he won in Canada and came within one point of his first title in his rookie season. That includes records for consecutive podium finishes and wins in a debut season.

He won his first title a year later by passing Timo Glock’s Toyota on the last lap in Brazil to get the championship by one point.

The unbelievable run, though, started when he went to Mercedes in 2013 and the championships started in 2014, ’15, ’17, ‘18 and, now 2019.

It doesn’t matter that he has the best car. He’s the best driver able to get 25 percent more from the tires than even the manufacturer recommends. He often knows more about the car than the engineers speaking to him in his ear.

Six championships. An incredible string. Like the NFL’s Bill Belichick: On to seven.


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

The Freaks don’t talk a lot about drifting in our 20th year but there is some news going on in that world.

Irish driver James Deane is the Formula Drift champion for an unprecedented third straight year. He joined the series in 2017 and has been at the front of the line every year since.

19-1025 Deane Wins

Some call Deane the Machine and it’s hard to fight that notion. Not everyone knows how to win championships but Deane appears to know the secret sauce recipe.

For example, his only win of the year came in St. Louis, one of six top three finishes on the season. He earned the 2019 title finishing third at Irwindale, the final event of the year.

His three Formula D titles follow seven European championships and one in the Mideast this year. Maybe Deane is a Machine.

I’ve seen him drive and he’s one of those athletes who seems to be going better the slower he goes. He’s that smooth. And maybe the best anywhere.


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

My mind was bumping around this weekend. The fight after the NASCAR Xfinity race amused me. When they fight in a stick and ball game we complain about the thugs in those sports.

When they fight after a NASCAR race the drivers are considered passionate about winning. Unless, of course, Darryl Wallace throws water on a driver then he needs some talking too by NASCAR officials.

Funny how all that works in that sport.

Then I heard a conversation about the wind during the Cup race today in Kansas. All the talking heads had an opinion about what the wind does to a car traveling at 200 miles an hour.

It reminded me of a conversation I once had with NHRA Funny Car driver Gary Densham. He described how he had to compensate for the break in the grandstand as he traveled down a drag strip at 300 plus. All it took was the break. Forget fighting the winds on race day.

Funny where the mind goes when you actually listen to people talk.


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

The Freaks last week spent a few minutes talking about the 2020 Formula One calendar that includes Hanoi, Vietnam as the third race on the schedule.

Nu F1 LogoThose of us of a certain age still can’t separate Hanoi from the divisive realities of the 1960s when the United States was at war with Vietnam. But that’s what that government wants us to do.

If you can, take a look at this entire issue with some objectivity. The Hanoi race would be the fourth street race on the F1 calendar equal to Monaco in some categories.

Hanoi is a city of more than eight million people. And it’s easy to see how the Vietnamese government would be eager to display a city open for business especially tourism.

Formula One is one of the few bridges to the world’s tourism business rated at more than $1.25 TRILLION five years ago.

Spending fifty million dollars to get five or six times that in tourism dollars is a no brainer. Even if it means opening Hanoi for a look at what we used to call The Hilton.


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

Formula D logoPart of the SpeedFreaks history includes Formula Drift. In fact all three of us happened to be at the back of an SUV when Formula D co-founder James Liaw explained to us how he was going to start a series like none other in America.

Then American motorsports knew little or nothing about motor racing that’s judged and not competed wheel to wheel. Well that’s Formula D and it’s found an audience that loves the activity and, more to the point, loves the lifestyle.

Formula D started second to a Japanese drift series. Now it’s the world’s largest with series on other continents in addition to North America.

Now a significant milestone. Formula Drift had reached one million fans on Instagram. For context, that’s the same number listed for NASCAR.

It’s an important mark. Formula Drift is popular with young, tech-savvy fans who buy things that advertisers want to sell them.

So, in fifteen years in a Freak World, Formula Drift has become one of the most popular motorsports out there. Good on ‘em.


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

Every driver wants to win. It’s the way they’re wired. But team drivers have priorities. The first is beating their teammates.

Sebastian VettelFerrari had trouble with all of it today in Russia. Apparently the team had a plan for pole sitter Charles LeClerc to lead teammate Sebastian Vettel — behind him in third — to lead Vettel around Lewis Hamilton who qualified second.

But Vettel was able to take the lead in LeClerc‘s draft and he wouldn’t even give it back even when the team asked several times on the radio.

The real fun came when team officials kept Vettel on the track after his tires were worn out. That let LeClerc back in the lead. Eventually Vettel’s power unit gave out and put him out the race for good.

Funny how that works.

While all this was going on points leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes was moving to the lead and HIS teammate Valtieri Bottas was second holding off LeClerc. In fact, the Bottas drive might have been the drive of the race.

So, quoting Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. Or, in the case of Ferrari in Russia, until you get punched in the race.