Thursday, January 10, 2008
As a relatively new fan of the sport -- having only followed it for roughly the last five years or so, and most closely since the end of the boring Schumacher era -- I was aware of some of the back-room politics that led to the mess that was the 2005 U.S. Grand Prix.
We read in the press that the last minute race team pull-outs were perhaps just as closely related to the ongoing feud between many people involved with F1 and the silver-haired geek with the sweet car collection and transvestite bride, as it was based on the Michelin tire issue.
The idea was that maybe by making the only U.S. race a total flop -- by claiming the track/tire combo was unsafe for competition and bailing on race day -- they'd splatter egg on old Bernie's face and somehow drive him away from his place in the sport.
Instead they just killed off the race.
Afterwards, the Mini Me of Motorsport told the press that F1 didn't need the U.S. to be successful or profitable, which is obviously true, but damn him to hell for punishing the fans and Indy track reps for reacting to the debacle that so clearly lay at his feet. And the position displays an incredible amount of arrogance and lack of business acumen on his part. Yes F1, doesn't necessarily need to be in the U.S. to draw fans worldwide, but Americans love racing and could love F1 if it was presented to them properly.
Since then he appears to have softened-up his comments (perhaps because the U.S. is the biggest market in the world for Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and Honda, along with a number of other high-profile F1 sponsors) but the fact that nothing has been done to bring a race back Stateside appears to prove that he just doesn't give a damn about us.
However, in reading a recent article on ESPN.com (which does not a bad job of covering F1 for the small amount of attention they appear to give to it) I realized that the damage done by Bernie runs much deeper, and that Indy Speedway head honcho Tony George really had good reason to tell F1 and Bernie to F off in his own right.
As described by ESPN:
"In the early '90s when former Formula One champions Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi were dominating CART, the Champ Car series began to rival (and even threaten) F1 on the world stage. Ecclestone's response was to help cajole George into starting up the IRL as an all-oval series while at the same time convincing him to spend an estimated $35 million on an infield road course at IMS, which would host the revived United States Grand Prix starting in 2000.
We all know now how that turned out -- after taking George's money on an exponentially increasing basis for seven years, Ecclestone sold Indy's spot on the F1 calendar to the highest-bidding Middle Eastern government. If anything positive came out of Indy's F1 experiment, it was that George now recognizes the appeal that road racing holds for U.S. open-wheel fans -- road races now make up almost a third of the IndyCar schedule."
So the little rat bastard pretty much set us up for failure by convincing George to make the investment, and then failing to make sure that his side of the equation was in good steed to keep the race running smoothly.
And then he sold our spot off to the Arabs! Fucker!
Now maybe all the dissident parties involved in the 2005 display decided to screw us over because they knew that the USGP was one of the least important races on the schedule, and saw it as an opportunity to hit Bernie in his man purse. But, from what I've read it certainly seems like he had the chance to make things right but refused to do so, at our expense of all of us fans of course.
I can see why so many American fans are turned off by F1 from the standpoint that it doesn't involve U.S. auto OEMs or drivers, but that's mostly because they're not willing to make the investment, or simply cannot compete, respectively.
But damn, the underhanded nature of the whole scenario just makes me loathe Bernie even more than before. Dude set us up and made the IRL boring as shit in the process.
Let's hope for a day when he steps back and we can hope for a new F1 director who values us as a market and fans.
Until then, it's nothing but CART and IRL for open wheeled enthusiasts in the U.S.A.
Friday, January 4, 2008
As if it wasn't bad enough that we here in the States can't get through airport security in less than an hour's time, stop worrying that our warhawk government entities are busy spying on us with no checks and balances (while carrying out a completely senseless war in Iraq, mind you), or cross the border into Canada without our passports anymore (doesn't sound like a big deal, but for those who travel to Canada regularly, it is a dramatic shift), but now the whole damn badass Dakar Rally has been scrapped due to concerns over potential terrorist attacks.
I know, I know, having a race cancelled pales in comparison to the horrors being experienced by those people caught up in the ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan wars, or killed in the 9/11 or London bombing attacks themselves, among many others, but to me it's just sad that this (relatively) small group of extremist individuals is having such a dramatic impact on all of our lives.
You can't blame the race organizers however, what with a lot of trouble brewing in the area, including the recent random killings of an innocent French family on holiday in Mauritania, which was scheduled to host multiple legs of the race.
If I was a competitor I might not welcome the idea of fleeing armed vigilantes in one of those massive Dakar support trucks, or even on a motorbike. Of course, if you mounted some massive fucking cannons on said trucks that might make for some interesting interplay, and a whole new level of inter-squad competition!
I've actually wondered for years how no one has managed to find their way onto a landmine at this event, considering the area it travels through.
So, 30 years of amazing racing tradition goes down the drain simply because these sad sack fuckers want to prove to the world that they are somebody, and that we should care about their Jihad, Israel and all their other fn bullshit.
This, and above complaints on life in the States post 9/11, really make me think that the terrorist types are winning the battle sometimes with their (relatively) pathetic little attacks. We as a free world cannot let the actions of a few intimidate us all and force us to change our lives. Then we all lose.
Sorry for the first 2008 post on this blog to be such a downer, and not even related to F1. There is so much great stuff to talk about looking ahead to F1 '08, I can't wait for the season to start already.
But maybe in the meantime some of our friendly Middle Eastern counterparts in Bahrain could go track down these Al Qaeda asshats and put them out of their misery for the rest of us.
Unfortunately, I won't be holding my breath for that to happen.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Here at AmericanF1FanBlog we may slightly disdain NASCAR, but only because it is boring to us, not because we think rednecks are silly and corny (they *are* silly and corny -- but we love that about them, plus young redneck chicks are sometimes hot).
The thing is -- I find NASCAR boring for the same reasons that I find IRL and Champ Car boring, or dirt track racing, or horse racing, or indoor bicycle racing… I just cannot get into the go fast -- turn left oval racing format, despite all the high speeds and passing.
I certainly understand why some people prefer it -- clearly it does take a lot of driving skill to go that fast for that long in such close proximity to others.
There's no doubt that it takes a lot of engineering skill to make your car better than all the others since they are so innately similar (unlike F1). There is obviously a lot of strategy on the part of the crews, drivers and directors to plan pit stops and the like.
But, on a basic level, it just doesn't speak to me like F1 -- even though I'd agree with some NASCAR-loving types who complain that F1 doesn't have enough passing (I'm with that, bigtime) or parity (F the Tifosi is right!).
All that said, it has been truly interesting to see the reverse immigration going on from F1 to NASCAR.
Montoya was immediately relevant (especially on the road courses -- I've often wondered why NASCAR doesn't run a full time road racing series???), and my boy JV did himself admirably in his debut at Talladega (despite all the "rookie" concerns by other drivers).
And you could easily imagine why drivers who can't get an elusive seat in F1 decide to leap into the sport… there's a lot of money, a lot more chances to get on the grid, and it must still be a lot of fun to go around.
But I am not ready for this.
In this ESPN.com story we are told that His Majesty DC, the Scottish Seraph of racing, he of the granite chin that attracts women like a terrestrial body, will mull a move to NASCAR when he's done in F1.
Ach, no, say it ain't so! This man is far too noble a beast to end up wearing a Hooters T-Shirt and driving a Chevy. Good god, doesn't this man own a hotel in Monaco and make international supermodels wet their pants merely by looking at them?
This is David Coulthard we're talking about here! Not only is he my favorite driver for my favorite F1 team, but this is a guy who seems like he speaks 40 languages and hasn't ever eaten at a Shoney's buffet in his life. He is a Beluga caviar and Dom P. kind of guy, not Coke and McDonald's! (In fact maybe he prefers shepherd's pie and a pint, but he sure doesn't act like it.)
I suppose there is some fittingness to it as I know that Innes Ireland, another wonderfully colorful, classy Scots driver, turned wheel at the Daytona 500 near the end of his driving days.
But not DC. It just doesn't seem right. It'd be like Toyota running in NASCAR or something (oops).
I realize that I am making little tangible sense as to why he shouldn't do it (I certainly don't begrudge him the opportunity if Red Bull decides he's not the right man to have in their car and he wants to keep driving)… but it is such an affront to the cultured, rarified air of F1 that it strikes me as wholly inappropriate.
Would Mansel have ever raced NASCAR? Schumie? Moss? I think not (but then again, I'm not sure at all if any of them did at some point, we know that Super Mario did, but he's American so it doesn't count).
Seeing David Coulthard driving a big bloated sedan covered in cheeseburger ads around a ring would make me a very sad boy indeed. It would be like watching one of the aforementioned race horses pulling the Budweiser wagon. (although admittedly if RBR had fired him to make room for Alonso it might have hurt less, and you might not hear me whining…)
But, alas, I suppose it's not for me to say in the end…
Even so, I will beg ...please, please, don't do it DC! (but if you do, win!)
It will be the end of an era when DC's time in F1 is over.
Don't desecrate the memory by driving a car that's better fit as a taxi!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
After a year during which we saw the cancellation of the U.S. Grand Prix, the firing of Scott Speed from Toro Rosso -- the lone American-born pilot in the class, and repeated quotes from F1 head honchos to the effect that the sport doesn't care about or need America, we still find ourselves in love with the fastest, most thrilling race car driving in the world.
After all, as anyone who has ever been around the sport can attest, how can we not be smitten as such?
So what do we do?
Do we cry, gnash our teeth, beat our hairy man breasts or force ourselves to try and love NASCAR, IRL or Champ Car?
Fuck no! Not a chance. Doing so would only compromise our limited integrity.
Instead, we hope.
We hope that the elderly Harry Potter clone and Tony George find a way to get the Indy race back together (I still blame Michelin, you froggy bastards, it's not our fault that Olivier Panis sucked like a cold air induction system).
We hope that Graham Rahal or one of the other emerging young American drivers finds a chance (and a good chance, not a seat for Team Super Best Friends Last Place Aguri, but we love ya Sato!) to race in the sport in the next few years.
We hope that Red Bull decides to sponsor an all new event at Laguna Seca, or somewhere else, just as it has taken over the GP motorcycling races (more on my love of all things Red Bull in later posts).
We hope that Speed TV begins programming more F1 coverage during normal U.S. waking hours, and that they finally get a say in the broadcast direction so we can actually see the leaders passing eachother instead of another shot of Flavio Briatore's sweating armpits.
We hope that more of our countrymen realize that F1 racing is truly the creme-de-la-creme of autosport, forcing the aforementioned honchos and TV networks to cater to our revenue-driving selves in the name of gaining our advertising-loving eyeballs and merchandise-buying clout.
And we write -- at least that's what I'll be doing here on this blog. Putting a face, or more accurately some words, behind the reality of what it means and feels like to be an American F1 fan, abandoned in so many ways by our favorite autosport, but still loving it because it kicks so much otherworldy ass over all other forms of racing.
(And most importantly since we can still go to Montreal for the GP du Canada, where the women are hotter and the parties much better than they were in Indy anyways...)
So, let the silly season rage on in Europe and elsewhere in the world where F1 is still a living, breathing concern...
We'll try to keep it on life support here in the old US of A where we've been left alone to wallow in our own personal pity party, like so many backmarkers watching the Schumies, Alonsos and Hamiltons fly by while the slow boys struggle with ceaseless hydraulic issues...
To the grid!