No. 1001
June 19, 2019

About The UjianNasional

Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. So, they ran the premier sports car race in the world over the weekend - the 24 Hours of Le Mans - and the FIA and its chief enablers in the ACO proved yet again that their idea of running a race doesn't quite jibe with the rest of the world. After years of trying they can't seem to figure out how to use a safety car, apparently, to the point that the race stewards' incompetence in that area negatively affected ongoing battles throughout the race. That, coupled with the "virtual yellows," arbitrary penalties and other annoying quirks that come with the French-controlled event, and it's a wonder that the race itself was as compelling as it was. Yes, the 24 Hours of Le Mans was still worth watching, even thought the TV coverage left a lot to be desired, but then again given the choice of the coverage we had to endure vs. no coverage at all, we had to suck it up and deal with it (we have more coverage from Le Mans in Horizon -WG).

The result of this orchestrated mayhem by the French and the confounding way they go about their racing is that it usually elicits a response combined with a shoulder shrug that goes something like this: "that's just typical for the French." Only that whimsical commentary doesn't cut it for me and it hasn't for a long, long time. I've railed for years in this column about U.S. racing interests acquiescing to the FIA/ACO at every turn. First it was the American Le Mans Series kowtowing to the French; then when the new IMSA series emerged, the same stale air of acquiescence punctuated the proceedings. At every opportunity, the FIA/ACO barely acknowledged its U.S. counterparts by dismissing the cars (not allowing the DPi to run at Le Mans), and relegating the entire U.S. sports car racing scene to an afterthought by refusing to put the two premier U.S. endurance racing events - Sebring and Daytona - on the WEC racing calendar. To add insult to injury, the FIA, in its infinite wisdom, insisted on running its own WEC endurance race in IMSA's backyard, at Sebring, the day before the 12 Hours. That should have been the final insult and the last straw for IMSA, but once again it went right along with it, fearing that if it didn't, the invites to its American teams to race at Le Mans might not be forthcoming. This has guided IMSA's thinking from Day One, and it's beyond tedious.

And what has this go-along-to-get-along approach with the French accomplished for IMSA? Exactly nothing. Especially when you consider that the FIA/ACO announced on Friday that its 2020 sports car racing rules package would replace LMP1 prototypes with road car-based "hypercars," and that in effect, they had zero interest in discussing running IMSA DPis at Le Mans in the future. This announcement came after months of discussions between the FIA/ACO/WEC and IMSA, discussions that actually leaned toward having the IMSA DPi regulations become the guiding framework as the replacement for LMP1. That all ended last Friday.

What does it all mean? IMSA will work on its DPi 2.0 rules package for 2022, knowing full well that the connection to the FIA/ACO/WEC has been emphatically blown up by the French racing overlords. And the FIA/ACO will replace LMP1 with $2-3 million () "road-based" hypercars that realistic estimates suggest will cost five times what the next generation DPi 2.0 will cost. But one positive result from this new development is that I expect that Jim France, Scott Atherton & Co. will have finally gotten religion over this latest outrageous insult from the French. I expect them to move the IMSA WeatherTech SportCar Championship in a bold new direction not beholden to the French, or anyone else for that matter. It's long overdue.

And that's the High-Octane Truth for this week.


(Ford Racing Archives photos)
June 11, 1967. Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans in their No. 1 Shelby American Ford Mk IV, going into the lead after the first 90 minutes and winning by four laps. The European racing press openly dismissed Gurney and Foyt before the race, suggesting that they didn't have the discipline to win the French Endurance Classic, but they proved otherwise. Gurney came up with a plan for the rev limits, shifting and braking points to run - and win - the race with the discipline needed, and Foyt followed that plan to the letter, and they won the race going away. It was one of the greatest days in American motorsports history. 
Standing on the victory podium afterwards, Gurney shook the champagne bottle given to the winners and sprayed everyone nearby, establishing a tradition re-enacted in victory celebrations the world over ever since. "What I did with the Champagne was totally spontaneous. I had no idea it would start a tradition. I was beyond caring and just got caught up in the moment. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime occasions where things turned out perfectly… I thought this hard-fought victory needed something special.” Gurney autographed the bottle and gave it to Life Magazine photographer, Flip Schulke, who used it as a table lamp stand for 30 years. Schulke later returned the bottle to Gurney, who placed it in the boardroom of his All American Racers team headquarters in California. One week later Gurney would win the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in his No. 36 Anglo American Racers Eagle T1G Weslake V12. It was and remains the first and only time that an American citizen built and raced a car of his own construction and put it into the winner's circle of a World Championship Formula 1 race.

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