A fair, All-American assessment of what Manor just did

Manor didn’t sign Alexander Rossi. They did sign Rio Haryanto. This is fine EVERYTHING IS FINE CALM DOWN R.J.

Today, Manor Racing completed their driver lineup for the 2016 Formula 1 season. With new Mercedes power units, a revamped technical staff and management, and two new drivers, it’s expected to be a big year for both Manor and their drivers, the reigning DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein, and the American driver who impressed in his five race slate at the end of 2015, Alexander Rossi. They’re expected to surge up the running order this coming se-

Wait. Wait. Wait wait wait wait WAIT. Hold up. They signed WHO!? 

DAMNIT MANOR

OH GOD DAMNIT! Continue reading “A fair, All-American assessment of what Manor just did”

Not a Good Day For Racing

One Formula 1 team folds. Another is crowd-sourcing a one-off entry just to keep their dim hopes of survival alive. Meanwhile, up the continent from where Formula 1 is racing this weekend, a former NASCAR Cup Series champion now faces some of the most damning charges of domestic violence ever levied against an active competitor.

It’s not a good day for racing. Let’s go in ascending order of seriousness. Continue reading “Not a Good Day For Racing”

Frustrated Isn’t the Word For It

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The two smallest teams in Formula 1 won’t be in Austin, Texas this weekend. Caterham F1 Team was placed in administration last week, and now today, it has been confirmed that Marussia F1 Team was also placed under administration. For the American reader, think of “administration” as a very kind way of saying what it really means deep down – “bankruptcy”. They’ll miss the United States Grand Prix. They’ll almost surely miss the Brazilian Grand Prix after that, and while they can come back in time for the finale in Abu Dhabi, there is a worrying possibility that neither of these teams will race again.

And it’s made me so extremely upset. Frustrated, even. Actually, no. Frustrated isn’t the word for it.

You see, when most people want to express their outrage at something via a video clip or a reference to a piece of popular performance art, there is one long-standing, dependable source. The rant from fictional news anchor Howard Beale, in the four-time Academy Award-winning film Network. One of the all-time great motion pictures, best remembered for Peter Finch‘s performance as Beale, and his delivery of the famous line, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!” For this instance, though, I’ll pull from something slightly more contemporary, and from a much more low-brow form of entertainment: Professional wrestling. From a 1997 episode of WWF Monday Night Raw, after a main-event match in which former champion and long-serving veteran Bret Hart snapped on live television, shoving announcer/owner Vince McMahon to the ring mat and launching into a scathing tirade expressing his frustration with the way his career has progressed in recent months. A tirade that started with his most famous line, which contained just a little bit saltier language:

And that sums up exactly how I feel about the plight of Caterham and Marussia. This is bullshit. Pardon the language. Continue reading “Frustrated Isn’t the Word For It”

The Hypothetical Champ Car World Series Drivers’ Club of 2014

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On this date in 2004, Indianapolis bankruptcy judge Frank Otte ruled in favor of a bid placed by the collective of Gerry Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven, and Paul Gentilozzi – known as Open Wheel Racing Series, LLC – to acquire the assets of what was known, from 1979 to 2003, as Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART). Their bid was accepted over a competing bid from Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League (IRL) owner Tony George, which would have effectively ended the American open-wheel racing split that had been in existence since the formation of the Indy Racing League in 1996.

I thought about this anniversary yesterday, of all things, when the upstart Formula E series added eight new names to their pool of available drivers known as the Formula E Drivers’ Club. And looking at the list of freshly added talent that includes five IndyCar Series drivers, ten former Formula One drivers, and one driver from GP2, it didn’t look that impressive to some people. Zero F1 victories between all sixteen drivers, and out of them, only Takuma Sato won a race in a major series this past year. But I looked at it closer and thought to myself, “You know, this roster looks like the lineup for a reboot of the Champ Car World Series.”

And it’s not hard to see why – CART/Champ Car had a knack for attracting a lot of ex-Formula 1 talent and decent prospects from the European open-wheel ladder, and turning them into stars. Not just former F1 champions like Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi, or future F1 winners like Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya. Drivers like Alex Zanardi, who washed out of F1 before going onto mega-stardom in CART, or the likes of Dario Franchitti, Gil de Ferran, and Sebastien Bourdais, all accomplished drivers who all cut their teeth in the European ladder only to be passed up by F1 teams when it came time for them to move on, were a major part of the lifeblood of CART/Champ Car in the 1990s and 2000s.

So I thought to myself, “What if there was a reboot of the Champ Car World Series? And which active drivers from today would I place in the series’ pool of talent?”

I went out to pick twenty drivers (OWRS-era Champ Car, for all of its strengths, could never push the car count above 20) for a hypothetical “reboot” of the Champ Car World Series. My strategy for selecting drivers was to focus primarily on younger talent with loads of upside, both within the IndyCar Series and elsewhere. Only five out of the twenty drivers in this hypothetical drivers’ club are either in, or will be in their 30s by the end of 2014, and none are above the age of 35. I ensured that I had to pick at least six drivers that competed in at least one IndyCar Series race last season, and I had to pick at least one person in the second-tier Indy Lights series. I stayed away from anyone currently in F1 that wasn’t a race driver or a primary reserve driver. I could pick anyone I wanted under those parameters.

Click the link below to read my selections and my rationale for each.

Continue reading “The Hypothetical Champ Car World Series Drivers’ Club of 2014”