No. 968
October 17, 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 Ujian-nasional.info 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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Fumes


Monday
Dec012008

FUMES

December 3, 2008

Editor's Note (12/10): Peter will update Fumes next week, or, if news warrants, later this week. - WG

Publisher's Note I: In a stunning move, Honda announced today (12/5) that it would be pulling out of Formula 1 immediately, citing the deepening deterioration in the global economy and the need to focus on its core operations. "We have come to the conclusion that we will withdraw from all Formula One activities, making 2008 the last season of participation," Honda CEO Takeo Fukui told a news conference Friday. "This difficult decision was made in light of the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry brought on by the sub-prime problem in the United States, the deepening credit crises and the sudden contraction of the world economies." "We will enter into consultation with the associates of the Honda racing team and its engine supplier Honda Racing Development regarding the future of the two companies. This will include offering the team for sale," Fukui added. This, of course, is a massive blow to the sport of F1 and could be just the beginning of a wholesale upheaval that might just mean the end of F1 as we know it. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was quick to suggest that Honda's withdrawal from the sport provided a "wake-up call" to overspending teams. Ecclestone told Sky News television today: "This is a wake-up call. Max and myself have been campaigning for quite a long time to reduce the vast amount of money spent to be competitive." Ecclestone said fans don't care how many cylinders the car has or the capacity of the engine - they just want entertainment on the track. This is rich. Ecclestone suggesting that somehow it was the manufacturers' fault that the costs of F1 has spiraled out of control (for the record Honda was spending $294 - $300 million annually, while Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz are spending $400 million). This after Ecclestone (with Mosley's acquiescence) has repeatedly escalated promotional fees, sponsorship fees, television rights fees and other money-generating scams and schemes that have pushed F1 to the brink. For these two carpetbaggers to suggest that they were utterly blameless in all of this and that it was the auto manufacturers - the very lifeblood of the sport itself - who are to blame is completely ludicrous. The Bernie and Max show has been based on a foundation of unbridled greed since they took over the sport. Their constant drive for new streams of revenue, new venues that would blindly pay the outrageous fees demanded, and new corporations who could be duped into spending untold sums of money to be a part of the F1 circus knew no bounds. I hope that Honda pulling out of F1 is the beginning of the end for this sport as we know it, because F1 has been corroded and corrupted by piss-poor management and the emphasis on greed for greed's sake for far too long. Honda has fired just the first shot in this battle. The real war is only beginning. - PMD

Publisher's Note II: In a stunning move, Part II, Audi announced today (12/5) that it would not be entering its factory backed team - Audi Sport North America - in the 2009 American Le Mans Series. The manufacturer will still compete in the 12 Hours of Sebring next March, where it will debut its totally new Audi R15 TDI prototype - entered by Audi Sport Team Joest - in their usual formal R&D test run for the 24 Hours of Le Mans
, but after that they will be gone from the ALMS. The company said it would redirect its motorsport energies to concentrate on the new R15 TDI sport prototype and its run for yet another victory at Le Mans, as well as competing with its newly-developed A4 in the German Touring Car series (DTM), and developing its R8 LMS for customer use in the European GT3 class. “The decision to withdraw was a very difficult one for these reasons. Furthermore, with the Champion racing team, we had a partner that operates at the highest level. The extraordinary dedication and precision of Team Champion was the key to Audi’s victories over the last few years in America,” said Wolfgang Ullrich, the head of Audi Motorsport. “We achieved an unprecedented winning series together. Since the 2000 season, Audi has won the LMP1 title nine times in succession in this high-caliber sports-car championship. Our brand dominated the circuit last season by taking seven wins in 11 races.” Audi - along with Chevrolet and Porsche - has been instrumental in the development and growth of the ALMS since 2000. “I cannot say enough about how great a partner, competitor and participant Audi has been since it first competed in the Series in 1999,” said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the ALMS, about the auto manufacturer that literally rewrote the record books for the world’s premier sports car series. “We understand that the economic climate is forcing many companies to make very difficult decisions. We will welcome Audi back to the American Le Mans Series stage at the appropriate time to compete against our world-class group of race teams and manufacturers." “Audi, along with Dave Maraj and his Champion Racing organization, have established the benchmark for how a motorsports organization should be run,” Atherton added. “They raised the game for all our competitors with their innovation, work ethic, professionalism and accomplishments, which are major reasons why the American Le Mans Series enjoyed its most successful season ever this year.” Everyone knew that the Audi freight train would eventually come to an end in the ALMS, but it's still a shock that the time has come now. The burgeoning economic meltdown has a lot to do with Audi's decision, there's no question about it, and racing is on the verge of upheaval at all levels of the sport because of the economic shock waves careening around the globe. The ALMS still provides a pathway to the most important road racing event in the world - the 24 Hours of Le Mans - and its embracing of advanced alternative technologies and fuels is a critical differentiator going forward. And I expect manufacturers will continue to find it an intriguing forum to display their technical prowess. But there's no question that things are going to get much tougher for motorsport in North America before they'll get better. - PMD

 



Nine-and-one-half years later, racing still needs a new idea.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Detroit.
In the very first Fumes column that appeared on June 1, 1999, I brought forth the idea of the "Hydrogen 500" and the notion of bringing genuine automotive design and engineering innovation back to the forefront at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two years ago this coming January, my associates and I introduced "The Future of Racing" to a group of auto industry and racing heavyweights by forging the idea of reinventing the racing car of the future, machines that would pioneer the development of the alternative propulsion systems that would eventually power the production cars of the future. Subsequently, that new racing entity, the Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation, has become the Electric Racing Federation, as interested manufacturers felt that the idea of racing hydrogen-powered electric vehicles was too far down the road, but that racing pure electric vehicles would dovetail nicely with their advanced R&D programs.

I still believe that racing advanced propulsion technology is the only way to accelerate the development of that technology for use in our future production vehicles. And a broad spectrum of automotive designers, racing engineers, race promoters, sanctioning body principals and myriad others wholeheartedly agree with me.

And while we continue in our quest to make "The Future of Racing " a reality, I can't help but think that racing has blown a golden opportunity in the last few years, and here's why.

Racing has lost its mojo, period. The classic, time-honored quest of developing advanced technologies by pushing the envelope has been overwhelmed by a kaleidoscope of limitations that seem to get more oppressive at every juncture. Racing has actually devolved because of its addiction to limitations and regulations, with this relentless obsession to "level the playing field" resulting in motorized boredom, frankly, and it's absolutely killing the sport.

But how do we get around this? And what can be done to get the sport moving in a direction that will pay dividends in new excitement and new interest down the road?

The simple answer to that is that it will take a heroic combination of vision and cojones, two items that are in desperately short supply these days. It would require the powers that be in racing to stand up and put a stake in the ground and declare that "business as usual" would no longer be business as usual at all, and then set a new course for racing that would propel the sport into the 21st century.

But who could do that, really? The Bernie and Max show is clearly only about the money. Old markets "underperforming?" Then we'll just go to new markets and soak the salivating hordes until they can't pay anymore! Nice business model. And another reason why North America lacks a single Formula 1 race.

How about the France family's money, I mean, marketing machine? We all know the answer to that one, don't we? After all, this is the same racing organization that just recently switched from leaded to unleaded racing fuel, and that has converted to full-on common body template spec racing cars. I can safely say that "vision" isn't a word that's bandied about much in Daytona Beach.

And how about the American Le Mans Series? Though they've demonstrated the most willingness to embrace new technologies, until the organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans changes the game completely and starts over - demanding a wholesale switch to advanced propulsion specifications - then I'm afraid that series will always be a case of "wait until you see what we've got coming next year."

And that leads us to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Tony George. As I said nine-and-one-half years ago, Tony George is the one man who could set the racing establishment on its ear. He is the one man who could declare that the 2011 Indianapolis 500 - the 100th Anniversary of the event - would be open to all comers and all propulsion ideas. He is the one man who could throw away the rule book and start over, setting the stage for an entirely new chapter in racing that would captivate racers, manufacturers and the public alike.

Unfortunately, Tony has demonstrated that he will listen to all ideas, but he will only act in the smallest of increments of change, so those racing enthusiasts longing for a new beginning, those hoping for an atmosphere at The Speedway full of blue sky notions, "why not?" ideas and wildly divergent creative solutions will just have to wait for...well, at this point, who knows how long?

Until then racing will be stuck in this holding pattern of same-old, we've always done it this way, it's all about the show, commonality is bliss mediocrity.

Not Good.

Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Ford Racing Archives)
Indianapolis, Indiana, 1966. Jackie Stewart gives a few pointers to Graham Hill before Hill takes his first practice laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while Lola cars designer Eric Broadley looks on. Hill would go on to win the Indy 500 in his Lola-Ford that year - as a rookie - from the 15th starting position. Hill would become the only driver in history to win the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1972) and the Formula 1 World Championship (1962, 1968).