No. 924
November 22, 2017
 

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
Oct232017

THE FUTURE OF RACING? A CLEAR DEMARCATION.

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. It's no big secret that racing as we know it is heading for change and upheaval. The auto companies' push into electrification is having them look for ways to justify their massive investment in R&D, which is why you're seeing major moves into Formula E by multiple manufacturers. Is Formula E going to replace Formula 1? No, but that avenue of racing is going to be making a lot of noise - not on the track, unfortunately - especially in its fifth year of existence, when the cars will be able to complete the entire race distance on one charge.

I used to be more bullish on Formula E than I am now. I don't discount the efficacy of developing electrified powertrains through racing, after all, my proposed just that more than ten years ago, only with the added component of hydrogen, which I still believe will be the ultimate power application for electric vehicles down the road. But one crucial part of the rules package for the HERF series was that every manufacturer had to develop their own "sound signature" through electronic amplification, or using the air flowing over the car, or both. Because it was obvious to me that racing without the visceral appeal of sound would be seriously lacking. And that's why Formula E has only limited appeal for me now. Yes, I get it, the research and development of future electric powertrains is best accomplished by pushing them to the limit in racing, but without sound - the glorified slot car noise of Formula E is not compelling in the least - it doesn't work for me.

Where does that leave the rest of racing? I think we all have to get used to the fact that conventional racing - using internal combustion engines - will become a variation of "vintage" racing. Make no mistake, the ICE will be around for another 40-50 years, because the fact of the matter is that electrification just will not work for all transportation applications. But a large chunk of our future transportation fleets will be electrified, which means that ICEs will become an anachronism, whether we like it or not.

And if you think about it, we're already halfway there. Formula 1 is reviewing its engine rules package for the next decade right now, and there's a strong push to not have those engines be directly linked to current passenger engine standards. And why should they? With Formula E occupying the electrification/green space, why should Formula 1 go down that road too? Here's to a new, unapologetic engine package for Formula 1 that is more than a nod to previous generations of power. After all, if ICEs are going to fade from view in a few decades, the visceral appeal of a screaming F1 car will become magnified and a huge draw.

The same can be said for Indy car racing. Without the shriek of ICE engines at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where would we be? I don't see that changing either, although Turbo V6s are not my cup of tea. If the Indianapolis 500 becomes the biggest single nostalgia/vintage motor race in the world, so be it. (I proposed a "Hydrogen 500" to be run the week before the "500," not to actually replace "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing.")

As for NASCAR, the reality is that it has been its own vintage racing series for years. And I don't have a problem with that. I do have a problem with a wide range of issues associated with NASCAR (as longtime readers of this publication know) that I won't go into today, but the sound of booming V8s isn't one of them.

And IMSA? Remember when Audi showed up with their TDI engines? I distinctly recall being at Road America and thinking that, yikes, they may be fast but they sounded like shit. There, I said it. I am in favor of IMSA having engines that sound like racing engines, and I am confident that will be the case for a long time to come. (The sound of the factory Corvettes, the factory 911 RSRs and the Chevy-powered "Cadillac"-branded DPis are my current favorites.)

So as we go forward, the future of racing will have a clear demarcation. On the one hand, there will be forms of electrified racing that will hold varying degrees of appeal. On the other hand, most of racing will continue to be a celebration of ICE power because there's just no getting around the fact that those engines deliver a visceral appeal that can't be duplicated, electronically or otherwise. In fact, as the years go by, attending a proper motor race will largely be appealing because of the sound, especially as those sounds slowly but surely fade from being part of the American landscape.

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

 

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, this week's image is from the DeLorenzo Racing Archives. - PMD

(The DeLorenzo Racing Archives)
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, June 15, 1968. Tony DeLorenzo (No. 50 Hanley Dawson Chevrolet Corvette 427 L88) on the gas and on his way to the win in "A Production" in the biggest SCCA National back in the day - the June Sprints at Road America. This was the last appearance of this machine in our preferred black racing colors. The next time the car appeared was at an SCCA National at Mid-Ohio in August, where we debuted the Owens/Corning Fiberglas sponsorship and distinctive racing colors. You can read more about those days in "The Glory Days, Part I."