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

Michele MoutonWe’re remembering Women’s History Month here in the U.S. but let me take a minute to remember French rally driver Michele Mouton.

In 1982 Mouton won three of 12 events and finished runner-up in the world rally driver’s championship. Her efforts helped Audi to its first manufacturers’ title.

Mouton, though, did more than rallying. In 1975, before rallying, she won her class at Le Mans.

But rallying was her first love. In fact, when she signed with Audi in 1981, she won in San Remo. In 1985, she set a record winning the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in an Audi Quattro.

In 1986, while driving for Peugeot she won the German Rally Championship, the first female driver to win a major championship in rallying.

In 1988, she co-founded the international Race of Champions. Now, in addition to running the Race of Champions she’s working tirelessly to help girls into the upper levels of world motorsport.

They have an incredible legacy to follow.

Peace.

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

Ryan  NewmanI’m one of the millions who’ve watched in amazement at the recovery road being traveled by NASCAR driver Ryan Newman.

I’m even more satisfied that Newman isn’t at the racetrack in Las Vegas this weekend. Newman did send a written statement read today by his Roush Fenway team executive Steve Newmark.

The statement said Newman is being treated for a head injury. I’d like to think the new car spec from NASCAR saved Newman’s life. Just being further away from the door probably helped limit Newman’s injuries when he was slammed by Corey LaJoie’s racer on the last lap at Daytona .

There’s concern, though, that no one’s saying what the head injuries are. We can assume concussion but that’s just an assumption.

Newman’s medical injuries are none of my business certainly. I’m just glad he’s still here, recovering and not at a racetrack or in a race car today. Hopefully the doctors will keep him out, with no external pressures to return, for as long as it takes to get him completely recovered. And maybe playing with his daughters.

Peace.

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

Noah GragsonThe TV guys made a big thing about the celebration antics of Noah Gragson after he won the Xfinity race at Daytona Saturday.

It was a popular victory with Gragson driving for Junior Motorsports and coming from behind to get the close win in the final five laps.

It was his first major win in NASCAR. He made a big deal throwing his water bottle into the crowd. It took several tries! Then he slid across the hood of his race car Dukes of Hazard style and waved repeatedly at the crowd.

This was all after the usual burnouts and spinning in the grass.

The genuine glee at a win was refreshing. The sparse crowd must have appreciated the demonstration as well. They stayed and cheered for a driver who looked like he actually was satisfied with something.

Who knows if Gragson will win again. But he was happy with this one and that might bring fans back to buy a ticket or watch on television. And that would be a massive win for NASCAR.

Peace.

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

Testing NASCAR’s Next Gen Cup car ramps up in 2020. A lot is riding on this effort. It won’t show up until 2021.

Next Gen NASCAR

NASCAR wants it to look more like showroom cars. That’s a plus.

Some big talking points. The chassis will be a spec chassis. That not only cuts down on costs but it also cuts down on cheating.

The new car will have an independent rear suspension.

It will get an 18-inch wheel and tire. That’s up from 15 inches creating a lower profile sidewall.

Refueling will change from a guy carrying a can to a clamp-on hose during pit stops. There’ll be a six-speed sequential gear box not the old four-speed.

And the Next Gen Car could have some spec hybridization.

Expect Ford, Chevy and Toyota to stay. But there’s talk Honda, Hyundai, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen could be there too.

Let’s hope.

Peace.

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

I’ve never understood why Americans fought against global racing rulebooks. But I’m glad motor racing’s new economic order has forced everyone to agree on some common racing formulas.
2020 Rolex 24

Friday IMSA and the people who run Le Mans announced new rules that will converge global Hypercars and IMSA’s new LMDh category starting next year.

The smaller field at this weekend’s Rolex 24 will tell you why. Entries are down 30 percent in the last five years.  Manufacturer disinterest in expensive rules speaks volumes.

What’s more, any rules that ignore electrification and hybrids could actually drive away auto makers. Again, car makers – especially their stockholders – want to sell cars not just support motor racing with big budgets.

Marshall Pruett at RACER has considerable analysis on Friday’s announcement.

Just understand that pragmatic people are being forced to make pragmatic decisions going into racing’s future. And we’ll all benefit as we head down this motor racing road less traveled.

Peace.

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?

Peace.

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.

Peace.

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.

Peace.

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.

Peace.