No. 984
February 20, 2018

About The UjianNasional

Author, commentator, influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. 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. Some of my colleagues have chastised me for my "Fumes" columns of late, suggesting that I dwell too much on racing's past and that it is somehow irrelevant in the Big Picture of things in the racing world as it stands today. It has also been suggested that I don't appreciate what's going in racing on today. I don't share that perspective, obviously. 

I certainly appreciate the driving talent and the innovative technical minds in today's racing, and I've often written about it. I have often commented that NASCAR has some of the most creative minds and driving talent in the world, but that the series is continually hamstrung by the lack of leadership emanating out of Daytona Beach. That's all supposed to be fixed, and substantive changes are said to be coming fast and furiously to this form of motorsport, which is well and truly on the ropes; but given NASCAR's track record, I am just going to relegate those promises to the "It Won't Be Long Now" File, and it will be a giant "we'll see" until further notice.

As for contemporary motorsport, I think Formula 1 needs an enema because it has become borderline unwatchable. And I have no confidence that the powers that be who are charged with the task with the next-gen regulations will be able to balance the burgeoning "green-tinged" perspectives with the need for real racing with visceral appeal. I really like what IMSA has done with American sports car racing but I do not like the WEC version of the sport. At all. The French have an uncanny knack to mess things up, and judging by what I've seen of late, that's not likely to change anytime soon. And I like IndyCar, although my disgust with temporary street circuits hasn't ebbed one bit. And for the record, I think Scott Dixon is one of the greatest drivers the sport has ever seen, and that's across all disciplines and series too.

I think a lot of contemporary racing has been swallowed up by the pursuit of money. No, of course that's not news, but just this week we saw Pato O'Ward, a potential future star talent, get sidelined out of an IndyCar ride due to the team's lack of resources. Yes, I know, thus it was ever so, but it still sucks and it's still the most distasteful side of contemporary racing. But then again, there are vintage racers with million-dollar budgets, so any chance of reducing the cost of going fast is slim, and none.

do appreciate contemporary racing, but I am also a firm believer in that in order to know where you want to go, you have to understand where you've been. Historical context is important, no matter what arena you're in. With my presence on (@PeterMDeLorenzo), I spend a lot of time reminding people about racing's past: the personalities, the giants, the tracks, the series, etc., etc. And much to my surprise, it has become very popular. I often receive comments about the memorable moments in racing that first captured the imagination of now lifelong fans. And it never gets old. So, I thought I'd share one of mine today...

My brother Tony (before he was a famous Corvette driver) and I and some friends traveled to the famous and now long gone Meadowdale Raceway back in August of 1964 to see the USRRC series (United States Road Racing Championship) race weekend, which was the pinnacle of American road racing at the time. This was the first professional road racing I had ever seen in person, and it was Tony's second (he had been to Meadowdale the year before). The USRRC race weekends consisted of a GT race (Corvettes and Cobras, etc.) as the opener, followed by the big sports cars (Chaparral, Cooper, etc.) as the feature. 

We watched as the factory Shelby American Cobra team led by Ken Miles (No. 98) and Bob Johnson (No. 99) dominated the GT field, finishing 1-2, followed by three independently-entered Cobras. The best Corvettes in the country were there and they were utterly humiliated, not only racing seconds a lap off of the pace, but none of them finished. Then something fascinating happened. We watched as the crack Shelby American crew swarmed over Miles' Cobra immediately following the GT race. They took the full windshield off, replacing it with a tiny plexiglass bubble windscreen, put fresh tires on it, filled it up with racing gas, and rolled it to the very back of the USRRC sports car race grid in 27th position. Dead last. It seems that the officials had allowed the team to enter Miles in the race with no qualifying time.  

We were then treated to one of the most dazzling displays of race driving we had ever seen, and it still resonates to this day. Jim Hall (No. 66 Chaparral 2A Chevrolet) dominated the race, followed by his now-legendary teammate, Roger Penske (No. 67 Chaparral 2A Chevrolet) for a memorable 1-2 for the Texas Road Runners. Dick Doane (No. 29 McKee Chevette Mk 1 Chevrolet) finished third (sound familiar? Chevrolet would buy the rights to the Chevette name from McKee for the production car of the same name), and George Wintersteen (No. 12 Cooper Monaco T61M Chevrolet) finished fourth. And Mr. Miles? He would charge from the back of the field in a jaw-dropping run that would see him finish fifth - in his 289 Cobra - just one lap behind the winners. Believe me, this isn't a case of appreciating something from the past more now. No, we appreciated what we were seeing, in real time. It was simply fantastic and amazing, in the true sense of that overused word.

There's a lot to learn through historical context, I just wish more people involved in contemporary racing would spend a bit more time learning about it and taking lessons from it.

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

(Photo by John McCollister/Courtesy of )
After dominating the GT race during the USRRC race weekend at Meadowdale Raceway in August of 1964, Ken Miles rolled his No. 98 Shelby American Cobra in position at the very back of the USRRC sports car feature race grid, in 27th position. Dead last. Miles would charge from the back of the field in a jaw-dropping run that would see him finish fifth overall, just one lap behind the winners.