No. 946
May 16, 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. I will reiterate yet again that I have the utmost respect for the drivers, teams and team owners competing in the IndyCar series, but what went on at the Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night was sheer lunacy. Pack racing has no business in an open-wheel racing series, especially at 220 mph, and the fact that IndyCar found itself in that position in Texas is simply inexcusable. I'm not really interested in the pundits and commentators who say that "it's crazy but it's undeniably compelling to watch" because that is inexcusable too. We have progressed far beyond the ancient "racers as gladiators" perspective - at least I hope we have - so what went on Saturday night was completely unacceptable.

It is stating the obvious that touching wheels in an open-wheel racing car is not sustainable, and the hoary "rubbin' is racin'" adage from NASCAR is simply not applicable here, but yet there were the IndyCar drivers putting their lives on the line lap after lap, banging wheels like they were in full-bodied stock cars. What part of this is acceptable? What part of this seems rational? Yes, I get it, as we've said many, many times in these pages "racers will race through a shit storm for Twinkies" they all want to do it so bad. And that is still very true. But IndyCar playing Russian Roulette with its star drivers by competing at a speedway they simply have no business competing at is flat-out stupidity. And excruciatingly so too.

The ridiculousness of NASCAR with its restrictor-plate races at Talladega and Daytona is well documented, and the powers that be in that series have demonstrated repeatedly that they are simply incapable of doing anything about it, even though at any given moment tragedy could strike. You would think - and I would hope - that the powers that be in IndyCar would bring a little more smarts to the proceedings, but by continuing to keep the Texas Motor Speedway on the schedule they are demonstrating a level of irrational thinking that is almost comprehensible.

Genuine enthusiasts inside and outside the racing industry read this column regularly every week, and I am quite certain that none of you want to see another fatality in IndyCar, or in racing, period. Yes, racing is one of the most dangerous pursuits out there, and of course there is only so much that can be done to prevent a tragedy from happening. But by racing at a venue that is simply wrong for its drivers and cars, IndyCar is tempting fate, and eventually its luck will run out.

Shifting gears, the greatest endurance race in the world - the 24 Hours of Le Mans - happens this coming weekend. One of the crown jewels in all of racing (along with the Indianapolis 500 and the Grand Prix of Monaco), Le Mans is simply one of the most magnificent challenges in all of motorsport. But it's clear - and not news by the way - that the ACO, the organizers of the event, is guilty of manipulating the playing field and playing politics in order to bestow favor on selected competitors, according to their whims and the financial expediency of their decisions. Nowhere is that more evident than with the games the ACO plays with the GTE-Pro class, the top factory-supported GT class competing in the 24 Hours.

This week, the ACO reduced the air inlet for Corvette Racing, which is a head-scratcher, at best, especially since the team didn't run with any clear-cut advantage on the official Test Day. But there's more going on too. The inside word is that the organizers want a Porsche vs. Ferrari battle in GTE-Pro this year and, since they always favor the manufacturers who compete in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) as standard operating procedure, you can expect that Aston Martin will get "blessed" by the ACO too. It's clear that the American contingent, Corvette Racing and especially Ford Racing - who got "blessed" last year - are not favored competitors in the GTE-Pro class this year.

As I said, is all of this is a surprise? No. But Bush league Bullshit is Bush league Bullshit, no matter what the language*.

And finally, heartfelt congratulations must go out to the Wood Brothers this week for their huge win at Pocono with their 23-year-old future star driver, Ryan Blaney. The Wood Brothers are the nicest people in racing, but make no mistake, they're smart and savvy too. I expect we'll be hearing a lot from Mr. Blaney and the resurgent Wood Brothers in the future. Well done, ladies and gentlemen!

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

*Editor-In-Chief's Note (6:00 a.m., Friday, May 16th): Well, the rumors were wrong about the GTE Pro class at Le Mans, as the Aston Martin team went to the fore in qualifying, with Ferrari close behind. And why is that, you might ask? Let me explain. As is our wont here at AE - and you won't read this anywhere else by the way - the ACO, in conjunction with the FIA, pushes a political agenda that plays out every year at Le Mans. Those two entities strongly believe that the World Endurance Championship (WEC) should be and is the only legitimate sports car championship in the world. Yes, they make allowances for Jim France's IMSA because of the money involved, but they barely conceal their contempt for American racing by steadfastly refusing to put Daytona and Sebring on the WEC calendar, even though those races were previously part of the FIA racing calendar for decades. Make no mistake, the ACO/FIA favors teams that run the entire WEC season when it comes to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And which GTE Pro teams run the entire WEC season? Aston Martin, Ford and Porsche. A year ago at Le Mans, representatives of the ACO had the temerity to threaten GM top management with a "run the factory Corvette Racing team in the full WEC season, or else." What was the "or else" they were threatening? They actually suggested that Corvette Racing, which had been competing at Le Mans for fifteen years, might not be invited back for the 2017 race. That didn't happen but you get the political realities at play here. The ACO/FIA liberally messes with the "Balance Of Performance" specifications at Le Mans to favor certain teams. That's a fact. And if you're not one of the chosen WEC teams, you're out of luck. As I've said repeatedly in this column, "Politics sucks, but politics in racing really sucks." -PMD


Editor's Note: Many of you have seen Peter's references over the years to the Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation (HERF), which he launched in 2007. For those of you who weren't following AE at the time, you can read two of HERF's press releases and . And for even more details (including a link to Peter's announcement speech), check out the HERF entry on Wikipedia . -WG


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

(Courtesy of the GM Archives)
Le Mans, France, 1960. Just before the start of the famous 24 Hour of Le Mans, with Briggs Cunningham's Corvette team in the foreground.

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