No. 984
February 20, 2018

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Horizon #429


arrowdown.gifNASCAR. The powers that be in Daytona Beach say that they will be more reluctant to penalize drivers for transgressions such as swearing or shoving. "There's no question it can restrict the drivers expressing themselves," France said on Monday. "We want to see more of that." Yeah, right. We'll send that to the AE "We'll See" File.

arrowdown.gifarrowdown.gifarrowdown.gif NASCAR, Sprint. Trouble in River City? You betcha. Sprint announced last Friday that it was losing customers more rapidly than expected and that it planned to lay off 4,000 of its 60,000 workers and close stores to trim costs as its customer base shrinks. Industry analysts had estimated that Sprint lost about 350,000 contract subscribers in the fourth quarter - ­ a carrier’s most valuable customers, the ones who had signed up for contracts of a year or more. Instead, Sprint announced that it had a net loss of 638,000 contract customers. Sprint said it would also close 125 company-owned retail stores, about 8 percent of the nearly 1,400 in the Sprint chain. The total labor savings, the company said, should be $700 million to $800 million a year. We have talked about Sprint's troubles in the past and the potential threat to NASCAR's title sponsorship, but now the situation is starting to look truly grim. Don't think that Daytona Beach isn't worried, because if the Sprint sponsorship blows up, the next sponsorship deal would take a substantial hit because of NASCAR's flagging fortunes. Not to mention the fact that it would be beyond embarrassing for the France camp.

arrowup.gifarrowup.gifarrowup.gif Toyota. The Toyota-GM battle is going to extend to the racetrack, and we're not talking about NASCAR. Toyota announced that it plans to compete again in the Le Mans 24-hour race in 2010, this time using racing cars with hybrid assist. This move by Toyota is designed to exploit the new rules being put into effect by the ACO for the 2010 race, which will showcase a new class of cars called "EVO." This new class will replace the prototypes that we know today and will be the only cars eligible for the overall win. Toyota last raced at Le Mans in 1999, finishing second. Toyota has never won the world's most prestigious endurance road racing event. Le Mans - and the American Le Mans Series - is now offering the world's manufacturers the most relevant racing arena in which to compete in when it comes to advanced green technologies, so Toyota's move is not unexpected. GM Racing is already developing a new "EVO" class racer, which revolves around a new, mid-engined Corvette racing machine being developed, as you read this. Toyota has stated that it intends to win at Le Mans, first time back. And GM isn't planning on running second. Not to mention the fact that Audi, BMW and other manufacturers are all targeting the new Le Mans rules too. This will be the on-track battle to watch in just two years' time.


(Image courtesy of Highcroft Racing)
Highcroft Racing announced that Scott Sharp will be joining the team and partnering with Le Mans-winning driver, David Brabham, with Patrón Spirits as the team's title sponsor. Patrón Spirits is the distiller of Patrón Tequila, the world's number-one selling ultra-premium tequila (and ahem, our favorite here at AE). The team will be known as Patrón Highcroft Racing. Highcroft Racing is a factory-backed team, which campaigned an Acura ARX-01a in the LMP2 class in the 2007 ALMS season. Duncan Dayton, Team Principal of Patrón Highcroft Racing, said, "I am truly excited to announce the partnership between Patrón Spirits and Highcroft Racing's Acura program in the ALMS. Our ability to attract Patrón Spirits is a testament to the hard work that Highcroft has put in over the past 18 months and our results on the track. This partnership represents a significant milestone for this young team and for the ALMS." Sharp has won nine IndyCar events and has 35 top-five finishes in the Series. He holds the record of 138 consecutive IndyCar starts. In 1996, he was the IndyCar Series co-champion and also won the 24 Hours of Daytona.  He is also a two-time Trans-Am champion, winning 15 races over three seasons. Stefan Johansson, who was David Brabham's teammate last season, will be joining the team again for the two endurance events - the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans. 

Publisher's Note: John Thawley took his son ("Why my 5 year-old doesn't know who Alan McNish is," as John said) to the Monster Truck Jam at Ford Field last Saturday and brought back these images. Awesome stuff! - PMD