Archive for the ‘Ferrari’ category


Daybreak

Nightshift Sports:

The Latest Word:

The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona is currently in progress. The race started yesterday afternoon and will finish this afternoon.  The teams who have come through the night unscathed (and many did not) now face the daunting prospect that a third of the race is yet to be run. This piece was originally published as part of Nightshift Sports coverage of the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s just as relevant today because it addresses a specific time in a 24 hour endurance race, and not a specific race. 

“In a 24 hour endurance race, it’s only 24 hours for the car. For the crew and drivers, it’s a minimum of 32 or 36 or even 48 hours.”–Miles Geauxbye

Daybreak.

There is a trick that the night/day cycle plays on participants in around-the-clock, 24 hour endurance races.

It is called Sunrise and although the racers naturally feel that racing into the sunrise means the end of the race is very near, that is not the case.

The legendary 24 Hour races start in early afternoon, at 2:00 or 3:00 or 4:00PM and when a team makes it to sunrise–safely and still in the game–there is still approximately a third of the race to left to go.

Sunrise is a signal that, having made it through the night, you are now simultaneously required to do things: turn up the wick to close strongly and keep it all together on the track and in the pits so nothing derails your run to the finish line.

Go fast, but don’t go recklessly.

Do your very best work on the track and off at the precise time of day at which you are the most compromised in terms of energy, attention, strength, focus because you have been up all night and working longer than that.

Sunrise is a marker of progress but it’s also a false horizon: you might think you’re almost there, but you’re not.

You made to morning. Congratulations.

But a third of the race is yet to be run, and this is–like all of the race–yet another strategic point.

The next goal is to make it to twelve noon, the point at which –at Le Mans–you have three hours left.

And once you make it to twelve, you get to turn up the wick and race full blast all the way to the end of the race.

Enjoy the sunrise. But it’s not the natural end to the race, just the unnatural beginning of the end.


The Fastest Lap Ever at Le Mans.

Nightshift Sports:

Records are made to broken, and this year at Le Mans, a Toyota Hybrid driven by Kamui Kobayashi broke the lap record at the famed Le Mans track.

Even better, there’s terrific  footage, great graphics, and very informed commentary. The video is just the thing to get you ready for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but for full impact, kick it to the big flat screen.

A couple of viewings will definitely put in the mood for some LDR (long distance racing).

Enjoy.

 

The Fine Print: Embed courtesy of our friends at YouTube. Posted by the guys at MotorsportManiac. All rights reserved by their respective parties. 


Original Tastes

The perfection of imperfection; it's a trend.

The perfection of imperfection; it’s a trend.

Editor’s Note: this post was originally produced in 2015 but the story line is still accurate..perhaps even more so..and the link is still good. It’s repeated here as we move into the major season(s) for Concours shows. 

Paying Attention: 

Not so long ago, I was at the Pebble Beach concours, primarily to see a client’s car through the auction process but also to look after another car that a friend had entered in the show. The car was a Ferrari 250 SWB, a very desirable model from one of Ferrari’s great periods and it was beautiful in every way. It had undergone a complete restoration by Ferrari’s internal Classiche Department, and was, for all intents and purposes, brand new.

In a show that prizes perfection, one would think that particular car would have won.

It did not.

It did not even win  its’ class.

And when I tracked down one of the judges to ask why the car did not perform better in the judging, he said something that was a bit startling: “It’s too perfect. The car looks like a new showroom model. There’s no patina at all.”

I understood his point about the car being “too new” although I certainly don’t  agree with the idea that the car should be downgraded because it was a perfect specimen in a beauty contest that traditionally) prized perfect specimens.

The bigger point, however, was that at Pebble Beach (and at other big concours shows now) there is a movement away from engineered/renovated perfection and towards perfected preservation of a car in it’s original state. It’s a serious movement and it’s here to stay;  just a few weeks ago, the New York Times picked up on this significant cultural shift with this very fine article on the rising value of collector cars in “original” condition. It’s a terrific article by Robert Yeager and is going to provide much food for thought for collectors over the next few years.

 

The Fine Print: Photo (C) 2015, Donald Pierce. All rights reserved. 


The Zen of Street Racing

A Risi Comp Ferrari GT racer at the Long Beach Grand Prix. Photo (c) 2014, Regis Lefebure. Regis is the Official Team Photographer for Risi Comp. He’s good.

Editors Note: This post originally ran on the Risi Competizione website in April of 2009. It describes a race meeting at the Long Beach Grand Prix, among other topics. The Long Beach Grand Prix(now known as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and also as the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix) is a sports car race conducted on a city-street course in Long Beach, California. There’s a sports car race and an open wheel race. It’s a bit of a classic. The 2017 race is this weekend. The piece is repeated here to set the mood (if you follow racing; if you don’t follow racing, we’re also setting the mood for golf in other posts. Your weekend, your choice.). 

From The Racing Archives: 

(Dateline: Los Angeles, 14 April 2009)……….

“One of these nights
One of these crazy old nights
We’re gonna find out
Pretty mama
What turns on your lights
The full moon is calling
The fever is high
And the wicked wind whispers
And moans
You got your demons
You got desires
Well, I got a few of my own”

One of these Nights, Eagles

Why is it always rock n’ roll and speed? Why is it that a certain song can capture a certain speed and mood with such perfection?

Why does loud and fast and fast and loud appeal so much to me….and to most of those who read this column?

It’s primal, it works at the cellular level, it’s rebellious, it’s us, and we’re not going to change. Ever.

Downtown Chicago. More than a decade ago. A Rosso Rubino Ferrari 275GTB/4 is rolling down Michigan Avenue, the sound from the exhausts ricocheting off the stone and glass-walled skyscrapers as the big four cam 12 cylinder engine housed in,  arguably, the most beautiful production coupe that Ferrari ever produced, emits the purest tone imaginable, a rumbling, threatening, dangerous wave of sound that makes this particular car, at this particular moment, the center of the city.

The sun is just coming up over Lake Michigan as EE and I make the turn out of downtown Chicago and head onto the Dan Ryan Expressway for Lake Forest and the rest of the weekend. We have been up all night, partying, living for The City, and now we are headed out to Lake Forrest to decompress with our friends.

The five speed, competition gate gearbox, with its’ delicate thin chrome shift lever and black shift knob, is fully heated now (the tolerances on the 275GTB/4 gearbox are so fine that if the oil that lubes the box has not reached operating temperature, there will be a bit of a grating sound as gears are changed), and the gearshift clicks through the gates with a sweet type of precision that is almost erotic as I work up the scale, the Ferrari twelve cylinder engine singing a song of rebellion and speed and pride.

First is a memory, second not far behind, we are in third and climbing and then into fourth and past the massive RR Donnelly printing compound, a huge production facility where the Yellow Pages are printed for America. There is a big sweeping curve, a right hander as you go out of town, by Donnelly and EE looks over at me with both trust and trepidation, because we are booking 145 plus and still accelerating as I click the gearshift into 5th and continue the ride up the rev chain, out of town, in a Ferrari, invisible, invincible, too fast to be found, too young to know the consequences of a mistake. We were immortal and we loved it.

Last year, at Laguna Seca, EE and I revisited that moment and laughed all night about it, the fun, the danger, the adrenaline, the pure experience of speed in the city and the sheer, cocky attitude that comes with driving a Ferrari that fast on city streets.

This year, at the Long Beach Grand Prix, Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer will take the Risi Competizione F430Gt and drive much faster, on streets much tighter, with traffic much denser. They will be seeking and living their own type of immortality as they do so.

Think of it this way: one hundred fifty-five miles an hour in the Risi Comp F430GT on city streets tightly bounded by concrete barriers, with no room for error, even less room for the faint of heart.

True racing drivers—the ones with the deepest possible well of courage and daring—love city circuits because these circuits are dangerous, technical, demanding, penalizing. They are racing’s equivalent of a knife fight—one mistake and you’re out. We have two of those types of drivers racing for Risi Comp this year, Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer. Last year, we also had two: Melo and Mika Salo, an equally dangerous combo.

The Long Beach Grand Prix (Officially known as the 2009 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach) is a major race on the ALMS circuit. It typically attracts one of the biggest crowds and has the largest TV audience. The sponsors lineup for this one like banks working for a TARP bailout: Toyota, Firestone, Patron Tequila, Korbel, Canon, Tecate, Coca Cola, The Orange County Register, The Port of Long Beach, etc., etc., etc. It’s a big race, a hugely popular race, and a very difficult one.

The track is tight, 1.968 miles and 11 turns. It’s a temporary course, like all street courses, and technical. The fastest part of the course is a long, curving straight right in front of the very crowded pits. That straight leads to a 90 degree lefthander, a little juke-and-jive right hand u-turn up to turn 4, another 90 degree right hander. Then it’s down a short straight to turn 5 (90 degrees, turn right—it’s a street course, there are lots of 90 degree turns) down a quick straight to a left hander, up a short straight with a left-hand kink about 1/4th of the way through, then a right-hander (you guessed it, 90 degrees), a blast down the Seaside Way straight to another 90 degree righthander, then a short straight followed by a sweeping left hand semi-high speed curve into the slowest turn on the track, a hairpin! And then onto the curving front straight again. GT1 and GT2 cars don’t have too much trouble with the hairpin curve (officially Turn 11) but it’s a bit of a problem for the P1 and P2 cars that lumber through it, in the automotive equivalent of gasping for breath.

Rick Mayer’s excellent preview of this race should be your guide to what to expect from an automotive dynamics point of view. The field of ALMS cars will be down again this week: Audi and Peugeot have gone away from the ALMS circuit for this part of the year to do battle in Europe and the Porsche RS Spyders are but a memory. It’s Hollywood, however, and this week the surprise guest is Corvette, who bring their wonderfully organized and super-competitive GT1 program to Long Beach for the fans. I said in my Sebring writing that I didn’t think we’d see a GT1 Corvette race again in America this year because Corvette was pointing for Le Mans and a showdown with Aston Martin; their plan was to return to ALMS in the GT2 category, with a new model now in development. But I was, thankfully, wrong.

Hey, it’s Hollywood! And Corvette will be running and Corvette fans should show up and support them, in mass. These are good guys and their program is superb. If the rest of GM was run as well as the Corvette Racing program is managed by Pratt & Miller, GM would not be in trouble.

The real action at Long Beach will be in the GT2 category, where 12 different cars will be entered. Flying Lizard will be there with their two car Porsche 91 GT3 RSR program; Rahal/Letterman, feeling rather spunky after a podium at St. Pete, will bring in a pair of the still-in-the-development-stage BMW E92 M3s; Panoz will bring in an Esperante, the only car in the series to podium in both of the first two races. Lou G will line up his Chevrolet Corvette C6 (he was fourth at Long Beach), and the Dodge Viper Competition Coupe from Primetime Race Group will also be present. VICI Racing, new sponsorship deal with T-Mobile in place, will return to the circuit with their new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, this year racing on Michelins. Welcome back, guys.

Risi Comp will, as the legendary University of Texas Football Coach Daryl Royal once said, “dance with who brung us”, which means Melo and Kaffer handling the driving chores for our Rosso Corsa clad Ferrari 430GT. We had a brilliant start to the year with a win at Sebring and a rather inglorious second race at St. Petersburg, where we DNF’d after leading early (we also had the pole) due to suspension failure. Analysis complete, the  team doesn’t expect THAT to happen again and does expect to be very competitive at Long Beach.

We have had success at this track before. Winning  in 2007 with Mika Salo and Jaime Melo driving. . We did not do so well in 2008, but two races later we won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so……not a bad year, that 2008.

Practice time at Long Beach, like St. Petersburg, is severely restricted, a mere 90  total minutes of pre-qualifying practice, so we will count on Rick Mayer’s legendary memory of how to set up the car up for this particular circuit and Jaime Melo’s ability to dial it in quickly (he was the development driver for the 430GT project at Ferrari). Kaffer is a very quick study in the 430GT (he is also a mechanical engineer) and his input adds immensely to the Risi Comp braintrust. A quick path to the optimum setup is a key to victory here and I believe we will get to the proper setup and race pace very expediently.

Here is what expect: it’s a tight track and passing spots are few and far between. It is not a tough track on brakes because there are enough straights to keep the brakes cool. The track is uneven because it’s a street course. There will be celebrities in the stands and in the pits but we will be unable to fulfill their requests for new Ferrari California convertibles because they live in Los Angeles and not in Houston. The stands will be packed. The atmosphere will be electric. Jaime Melo will put on an amazing show during qualifying. The pits will be crowded and jammed and the yellow flags will be few, because the car count is down and there are fewer things to hit on the track. The hairpin will equalize P1 and P2 cars. The Zone may be achieved, again.

Here’s what not to expect: another DNF due to suspension problems for the Ferrari 430GT. Last place on the grid due to poor qualifying speed. An inability to take advantage of the course and the strategy. A lack of competitive zeal from the Porsche and BMW factory teams (they’re here to win, too). It will not be a walkover for any team.

“One of These Nights” by The Eagles was the opening cut in their seminal “HOTEL CALIFORNIA” Album. It’s a song written about Los Angeles and it pretty much sums up the sentiment at Risi Comp as we get ready for battle at the concrete jungle that is the Long Beach Grand Prix.

We’re here. We’re pumped. Let’s race.

“You got your demons

You got desires

Well, I got a few of my own”

One of These Nights.  Eagles

You got it.

 


String Theory and Lime Rock Race Park

 

Yesterday, Risi Competizione, the top North America Ferrari GT racing team, ran at Lime Rock in Connecticut. Lime Rock is and always has been a tough track for the Ferrari; it’s traditionally been much better suited to the Corvettes and Porsches and BMWs that also race in the GTLM class. Risi Comp finished the race P4; they had qualified Q4 and were, at one point in time, leading the race. Watching the race on TV brought to a mind the race report filed about the team’s day racing at Lime Rock several years ago;  here, direct from the archives at the Racing Bunker is the infamous “String Theory” report on GT racing at Lime Rock. 

PART ONE: LOST DOCUMENTS AND EQUATIONS FROM THE RISI COMP LAB


18 July 2009

 

“You better watch out, you better beware.

Albert says that E equals MC Squared…”

Einstein A Go Go, by Landscape.

 

Physics is a never ending source of amazement to those who managed to get past the mangling of the topic often delivered by high school teachers. Looking for an appropriate framework for this week’s recap of the ALMS race at Lime Rock, it seemed that a visit to the land of theoretical physics might just do the trick and so…open the door, Alice…we’re off to Wonderland.

As everyone who reads this particular blog knows, matter is made up of atoms, tiny particles that were once believed to be the smallest forms of matter. Further investigation of atoms revealed that within their tiny form, even smaller particles (protons, neutrons, electrons and, some believe, political ethics) were dancing around and causing all kinds of material mayhem when combined/decombined in the wrong combination (i.e. nuclear weapons). These elements were given the name “subatomic particles” because they were smaller than an atom but—believe it—bigger than another type of particle known as the quark. Quarks live by their own rules—as do all of these elements of the universe and yours truly—and those rules can found in the study of Quantum Theory, if you have the time to do so. I don’t today, because I’m on deadline.

Time does not stand still and neither does investigation of the physical limits, elements, and compositional makeup of our universe and soon yet another hot new mathematical model of theoretical physics was developed. This model was called “string theory”.  The base belief in string theory was that all particles and even energy in the universe were constructed of “strings”, infinitesimally small elements that have, as their physical characteristic, only length (stay with me…it’s theory and it’s going to be dense). They have no height or width but could have up to 10 “dimensions”.  It’s a bit of a hard concept to grasp because it runs counter to our embrace of a universe that has dimensions of height, width, and length. And, of course, one more dimension that has everyone’s  interest,  which is that of time.

String theory advocates believe that there are even more dimensions to the universe than the four just cited (perhaps as many as 10) but that we cannot experience  or detect them. One of these dimensions is probably a hidden gate into the galaxies where the keys to your car disappear when you cannot find them, but that’s another story entirely. Filling out the  string theory overview is a concept that says that says the strings vibrate and the frequency with which they vibrate determines how they appear to us; typically  as a manifestation of one of the Big Three: Gravity, Light, or Matter.

 

Amazingly, a whole series of differing string theory equations were developed that seemed, at first, to be at odds about such elementary issues as what are the true rules of molecular construction and action in the universe but, overtime, the differing theories converged as physicists discovered that each of the variant theories was actually describing the same thing but from different perspectives. Columbia University Professor Brian Greene notes that the two main schools of theoretical physics (quantum mechanics and relativity) each have different areas of “coverage”. Quantum mechanics handles the small stuff: atoms, subatomic particles, molecules. General Relativity is used to sort out the big issues: galaxies, stars, etc. String theory has the ability to combine these two very different areas of study into one coherent “theory of everything”.

PART TWO: PHYSICS AND FERRARIS ON A STRIP OF ASPHALT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

Which brings us to Lime Rock Park Racetrack, a place with not a lot of length, no height, and marginal width. I.e. A string of asphalt upon which to race through time.

Lime Rock is not our favorite track, despite it’s importance in the history of Risi Competizione and the current generation of mid-engine Ferrari  race cars. It was at Lime Rock, in 2004, that Risi Comp (running a Ferrari 360GTC) broke Porsche’s long-running wining streak with a victory.

Since then, we have been 5th & 10th in 2006, 3rd & 9th in 2007, 3rd  in 2008 and, ultimately 2nd in 2009. We love the area (Connecticut in the summer is just beautiful), the fans are smart and enthusiastic and knowledgeable and it’s a totally different world from Texas. This year, coming off a major heat wave that had the thermometer pegged at over 100 degrees for almost three straight weeks (and no rain to cool things down) the team was glad to be back on the upper East Coast for a race.

But there are problems with racing really fast cars on such a short (1.5 miles) track as Lime Rock. The lap time for GT2 cars is in the 55 to 56 second timeframe; for the P1 and P2 cars the lap times are in the 46 to 48 second area and, as noted previously, this means the Prototypes lap a GT2 car after 9 laps and so the track gets crowded. Lime Rock is one big right hand turn…. plus it’s not too wide, which reduces the number of great passing spots to…..one (turn 1 at the end of the main straight).

This year, ALMS decided to thicken the field by bringing in 5 Porsche Cup Cars from their ALMS Challenge series. These cars were lapping in the 59 second and up timing range and—don’t take this the wrong way all you Porsche Cup drivers—taking up valuable track real estate at a place where there is not really enough track real estate to go around.

ALMS has, in my opinion and to their credit, outgrown Lime Rock. The track is close to NYC and the East Coast has a lot of great, long time Ferrari and race fans, but it is dangerously crowded these days and was designed and built for a time when cars did not have the sheer velocity that every car running in ALMS today can produce. ALMS needs a presence on the East Coast, close to New York and the major media (networks, publications, etc.) but it just cannot be at Lime Rock for too much longer. It’s amazing to me to see that there is such a paucity of options available; there was a time when Bridgehampton, on Long Island, was the center of racing on the East Coast and that was a track much better suited to ALMS style racing than Lime Rock.

The Bridge was a 2.85 mile long , 13 turn circuit.  It was a classic. Sterling Moss and Mark Donohue—a couple of the best drivers who ever lived—both called it “the most challenging racetrack in the world”.  It’s gone now; developers turned this hallowed speed ground into a golf course with luxury housing and today a good drive means something entirely different than it did thirty years ago.

But that’s what we need in the East—a track that brings out the absolute best in the cars and drivers, like Bridgehampton once did. Maybe one day……….

Now to business. The weekend started off great. Jaime Melo snagged another pole with a 54.665 lap in qualifying, pushing Bergmeister (Porsche No. 45) to second at 54.729 and Henzler (Porsche No. 87) to third on the grid with a 55.026. When we say Porsche, we’re referring to the Porsche model 911 GT3 RSR, the Porsche RS Spyders now out of the series. In fourth, BMW was feeling good, as Joey Hand delivered a 55.049 in the No. 90 BMW E92 M3, followed by teammate Dirk Mueller in the No. 92 BMW E92 M3 with a 55.050 lap, which placed him in 5th.  If you picked up on the notice I wrote in the blog prior to the race, you got to see qualifying live, over Speedtv.com’s internet feed.

Qualifying went off at precisely 3:35PM on Friday, 17 July. Jaime Melo decided to set the bar and five minutes later he logged a 54.774 for the fastest lap and the pole, then immediately went to the pits to see how the field played out. Patrick Long, teamed with Bergmeister in the No. 45 Porsche, then put up a 54.729 to snatch the pole away from Melo.

Or so he thought.

Melo, who plays the waiting game rather well, went back on the track at 3:48PM, 13 minutes into the session. Three minutes later he tore off a 54.665 lap, which secured the pole for the No. 62 Ferrari 430GT and pushed Long/Bergmeister back to second. Melo delivered the lap by making the little “s” turn at the exit of turn one into a straight line—a move that was soon picked up by everyone else on the track; Melo’s straight line tactics turned that portion of the circuit into part asphalt/part dirt track and along with his usual edgework of adhesion artistry, it was enough for him to grab the pole.  The whole qualifying drama was wonderful to watch on SPEEDTV.com.

Race day was the New England summer at its finest, temperature in the high 70s, some humidity, and lots of expectations. The warmup rolled out at 10:05, had a quick red flag when the Doran Ford GT started  blowing  water and steam out of the rear of the car—where the engine is located—and then the flag went back to green at 10:11. Kaffer warmed it up for Risi Comp, put in a 57.796 and the drivers then traded bragging rights for the rest of the session by showing off their warmup times. In the end, it was Bergmeister who was quickest in warmup, with a 55.730.

At 2:07PM the race was started under the yellow flag as the cars were not properly lined up for the green. One minute later (it’s a short track!), at 2:08, the green flag dropped unimpeded and the race was on.

Kaffer took the first shift for Risi Comp, grabbed the lead in GT2, and held it until 22 minutes in, when he was tapped in the rear bumper by Patrick Long, who then took the lead in the class as he knocked young Pierre just enough off of line to get by. It was a racing incident and thus no hard feelings.

At the  43 minute mark, Long had extended his lead to 5 plus seconds over Kaffer.

Risi Comp’s chances for a win at Lime Rock vanished  at approximately the one hour point in the race when a yellow flag came out. Four minutes later, Long went into the pits for tires, fuel, and a driver change (Long out/Bergmeister in). Bergmeister returned to the pits, again, at the one hour, 10 minute mark of the race for more fuel. Meanwhile, Kaffer had stayed out and went in late at 1 hour 12 minute mark for fuel, tires, and the insertion of Melo into the driver’s seat.

However, the timing was off just enough that the car lost an entire lap because at 1:13 in, the pace car passed while the Ferrari was still in the pits,  the green flag dropped and the Rosso Corsa Ferrari was now down a lap. Ooops

Melo pushed the Ferrari hard and pulled within 20.991 seconds of the Porsche at the 1 hour 37 minute mark. BMW had their moment of glory (1 minute to be precise) when Joey Hand passed Jaime Melo for second position at 1 hour, 41 minutes, at turn 1, but that glory didn’t last long as Hand spun the BMW one minute later and Melo blew by as did Hand’s team mate, Dirk Mueller. Fame is fleeting.

Melo remained solidly in second, but time was running short and closing the gap on such a short track was an almost impossible task.

At 4:29PM, the Risi Comp Ferrari F430GT encountered another difficult situation, again in the pits. Melo had pitted for fuel (it was that time again) and left to rejoin the chase, but the electronic pit speed limiter failed, and he exceeded the 30MPH limit set by ALMS on cars in pit lane. So after a lap, Melo was back in the pits for a stop and go, and all hope of closing down on the lead Porsche had vanished.

Sixteen minutes later, at 4:52PM, the checkered flag came out and the GT2 finishing order was: Bergmeister (No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR); Melo (No. 62 Ferrari 430GT, and Hand (No. 90, BMW E92 M3. Overall winner was Simon Pagenauld/Gil de Ferran in a P1 Acura ARX -02a; the durable and consistent Butch Leitzinger took P2 in a Lola BO9 86 Mazda and, Bob Faieta in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup was tops in the Challenge class. Well done, all.

It was another podium for Risi Competizione, but certainly not the return to action that the team had hoped for after their complete dominance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the second year in a row.

Up next: Mid-0h. What will  we see at Mid-Ohio? Lots of surprises await. Renewed fight, perhaps, from BMW  for being spared the program ax like their F1 brothers in Europe. New to GT2 at Mid-Ohio will be the Corvettes, now running in GT2. Book it: they will be fast.

As the top classes thin, GT2 has become the meeting place of the major brands in sports car racing—Jaguar is planning on joining the gang later in the year, perhaps at Petit. GT2 has always offered the very best racing and now also offers something even more valuable in this environment: the most economical racing as well (in comparison to racing a prototype…racing is not cheap, at any level).

Will the Rosso Corsa Ferrari find ALMS form again on the track at Mid-Ohio? Will Corvette revitalize itself by racing in GT2 against Ferrari, Porsche, and BMW? Will BMW finally make it to the top of the podium?

Only one way to find out. Stay tuned.

Oh, and one other thing for you to ponder. The next great area of theoretical physics is this: What if time and space are actually made up of something? Little tiny particles of some type, like……..strings. Dive into that while running a pitcher of margaritas and report back. With the equation.

 

 


The 24 Hours of Le Mans: An Entire Race Covered in Just 4 Press Releases

Paying Attention: For over a decade, I have worked at/with/for Risi Competizione, the top American Ferrari racing team. This year, they went, again, to race in France, at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, a race they have won three times (1998, 2007, 2008) in two different models of Ferrari race cars (333SP and F430GTC). As a part of the media coverage the team produces, they do a series of press releases, four in total, on race day. These releases are preceded by a series of pre-race releases that cover the race, team expectations, and, most interestingly, a look at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from an Engineer’s perspective. The race was held one week ago, and the team finished second, officially a minute and change behind the winning Ford GT; unofficially 10 seconds behind the winner (the difference between official and unofficial is the difference between end-of-race administrative penalties put on both teams by the ACO, the organizing body of the race, and the official timing of the race). Below, the story of one race team’s 24 hours at the most famous endurance race in the world; told in four press releases, each released at six hour intervals (first 6 hours, 12 hours in, 18 hours into the race and a final report). The reporting for Le Mans was produced by Barbara Burns, who is the season Public Relations Representative for Risi Competizione and by British Press Agent Anne Bradshaw, a legend in racing public relations, who stepped up and in to assist Barbara when a personal situation required Barbara’s presence elsewhere. Most remarkable is the way the PR pros handed off one of the toughest intercontinental assignments in sports seamlessly. The whole story is amazing, and it’s below for your enjoyment and education. One race, four press releases, and a lot of unanticipated drama(isn’t that always the way it is with sports)?

 

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The Annotated History of Sebring, Part 3

(Note: the 2016 running of The 12 is over, now, but the series on Sebring’s incredible history continues. Here’s Part 3).

The Plastic Fantastic: How Chaparral Changed Sportscar Racing.

Continuing our look into the cars, companies, drivers, and personalities who have made the 12 Hours of Sebring a legendary race.

 

[table]

Year, Car, Entrant, Drivers

1965, Chaparral 2 Chevrolet, Chaparral Cars Inc., Jim Hall, Hap Sharp

[/table]

 

 

Chaparral changed the status quo at Sebring in 1965.

 

The Chaparral was the product of the driving/racing team of Jim Hall and Hap Sharp. Jim Hall was a west-Texas oilman and “Hap” Sharp (official name James Sharp, he got his nickname because he was born on New Year’s Day in 1928, i.e. “Happy New Year”), who was also in the oil business. They were ambitious, fearless, well-funded, and innovative.

 

Sharp and Hall started racing initially using “Chaparral” cars built by the famous racing team of Troutman and Barnes. Troutman & Barnes were builders and designers of good reputation. They had enjoyed great success with front-engine/tube frame race cars. Among their clients was a wealthy young man named Lance Reventlow (Lawrence Graf von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow), for whom they developed the Scarab race cars (There were both race car and F1 designs under the Scarab name plate, but the F1 car campaigned by Reventlow in Europe cars was never successful, coming as it did at the end of the era for front engine Formula cars). Reventlow’s mother was Barbara Hutton, the heir to the Woolworth fortune, who would eventually be wed seven times.

Troutman and Barnes also produced the Mustang 1 prototypes that were used to judge public interest in building a production Mustang. They did two versions, one which was essentially just a show model with little or no mechanicals and another that ran and was used for demos, press exposure, and testing. The Mustang went on to be one of the great hits of the automobile world.

Hall and Sharp teamed up with Troutman and Barnes on the first “Chaparral” design; the original production run was to be five cars and Hall & Sharp’s deal was that they would purchase two of the cars and Troutman and Barnes would sell the other three to clients. The purchase of two cars by Hall and Sharp made the production economically feasible. It was a typically savvy and fair business deal, not unexpected coming from a pair of Texas oil men.

 

The combination of Hall’s engineering expertise and the craftsmanship of Troutman and Barnes produced a beautiful, brutally effective race car with a big front engine V8 and full independent suspension. Coming after the experience Troutman and Barnes had developed working on the Scarabs, the first Chaparrals were more powerful, had a vastly improved suspension, and better weight distribution (because of the mid-front engine chassis design). Grateful for the contributions of Jim Hall and Hap Sharp, Troutman and Barnes gave them “naming rights” (maybe the first such deal in sports!) and the new race car was called the Chaparral. Soon the pair started building the cars at their own workshop, and to differentiate the next generation of cars, they were called Chaparral 2s.

 

Jim Hall was both a talented driver and a very good engineer, and for a decade, the Chaparral designs and innovations greatly influenced motorsports. Chaparral’s Hall and Sharp broke new ground in aerodynamics, race car handling, tires, and transmissions (a Chaparral innovation was the use of an automatic transmission for a race car).

A trained engineer, Hall brought a new level of engineering design and testing to race car development. It has long been believed that Chaparral and Hall had significant access to the engineering department at General Motors via “under table” or “backdoor” support. What ever the arrangement, it was brilliant and it worked. The situation was a win-win deal for both parties. For Chaparral, they had the research resources of one of the largest automobile companies in the world; for GM, they could test and try new concepts in competition against the best car companies in the world, but there would be no hit to GM’s reputation if the cars did not win because they were racing under the Chaparral name.

 

The Chaparral cars produced by Hall and Sharp were given the numeral 2 followed by a letter of the alphabet, from 2A through 2K. The race car livery was typically white and cars often ran sporting Texas license plates. Chaparral’s were famous for the size and the sound of their big Chevy V8 engines, which gave rise to one of the most famous quotes in racing : when Hap Sharp was asked (in Nassau, for the famous Tourist Trophy sports car race, I believe) if the secret to winning in sports cars was cubic inches, he quickly responded, “No, the secret is cubic money”. It was true then, and it’s still true.

 

The Chaparral made its race debut at Riverside in 1963; it was auspicious, as Hall took the pole and was a half-mile or so in front when an electrical issue took the car to a DNF. In 1964, Hall won the U.S. Road Racing Championship (7 Wins, 6 Seconds, and 2 Thirds) and again in 1965, with 16 wins in 21 races.

 

The car that won Sebring was a 2 with an automatic transmission, front spoilers, a 5.4 liter aluminum block Chevy, mounted mid-engine, and a GRP chassis. Ferrari, Porsche, and Ford were gunning for a win at Sebring and the Chaparral faced long odds. The word in the paddock was that the Chaparral’s couldn’t last (there were two entered) but Jim Hall and Hap Sharp had tested at Sebring for a couple of days in February, and they believe the cars could go the distance and compete. The team was the beneficiary of a rule change that would allow large displacement engines (i.e. the Chevy) to run against prototypes from Ferrari, Ford, and Porsche. It was be on display at Sebring last year (2015) driven by Jim Hall II.

 

When the checkered flag dropped, Hall and Sharp were first in the Chaparral; Miles/McLaren second in a Ford GT40 and Pipper/Maggs third in a 250LM. You can read a full and incredible history about this race at Sports Car Digest, where historian Louis Galanos has produced the definitive piece on the times and the race. Galanos also produced a five part video series on the 1965 Race, which we also feature elsewhere on this site. Both the article and the videos are highly recommended.

 

The 1965 race was historic in a lot of ways, and while many remember it as a turning point in automobile racing because of the Chaparral win and others will recall that part of the race was contested in a roaring rain storm that created havoc all over the track.

 

Chaparral continued to evolve and the model line extended up to the Chaparral K which in 1980 won the Indiannapolis 500 and the CART National Championship with driver Johnny Rutherford.

 

Jim Hall stayed active in racing up through the mid 90s, although not always with cars of his own design. He lives today in California, Colorado and Texas; in Midland, where he and Sharp started out, there is a Chaparral museum (a part of the Petroleum Museum) which has the Chaparral 2, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2J, and 2K on display. I have been told that the private track the two built to test their cars—the infamous “Rattlesnake Raceway”—is still operable.

 

Hap Sharp, who also ran in some F1 races, retired after the 1965 season. He took up polo and continued to work in the motorsports industry. At the time of his death, Sharp was running a cattle ranch in Argentina. He committed suicide in 1993 at age 65 after being informed that he had a terminal disease.

 

 

[table]

 

1966, Ford GT40 X1 Roadster, Shelby American, Ken Miles/ Lloyd Ruby

1967, Ford GT40 Mk IV, Ford Motor Co., Bruce McLaren/ Mario Andretti

1968, Porsche 907, Porsche Automobile Co., Jo Siffert/ Hans Hermann

1969, Ford GT40 Mk 1, J.W. Automotive Engineering, Jacky Ickx/ Jackie Oliver

1970, Ferrari 512S, SpA Ferrri SEFAC, Ignazio Giunti/ Nino Vaccarella/ Mario Andretti

1971, Porsche 917K, Martini Racing, Vic Elford/ Gerard Larrouse

1972, Ferrari 312PB, SpA Ferrari SEFAC, Mario Andretti/ Jacky Ickx

1973, Porsche Carrera RSR, Dave Helmick, Hurley Haywood/ Peter Gregg/ Dave Helmick

1974, No Race Due to Energy Crisis

1975, BMW 3.0CSL, BWW Motorsports, Hans-Jochim Stuck/ Briand Redman/ Allan Moffat

1976, Porsche Carrera RSR, Hobert Porche-Audi, Al Holbert/ Mike Keyser

1977, Porsche Carrera RSR, George Dyer, George Dyer/ Brad Frisselle

1978, Porsche 935, Dick Barbour Racing, Brian Redman/ Charles Mendez/ Bob Garretson

1979, Porsche 935 , Dick Barbour Racing, Bob Akin/ Rob McFarlin/ Roy Woods

1980, Porsche 935K, Dick Barbour Racing, John Fitzpatrick/ Dick Barbour

1981, Porsche 935/80, Bayside Disposal Racing, Bruce Leven/ Hurley Haywood/ Al Holbert

1982, Porsche 935, JLP Racing, John Paul Sr/ John Paul Jr

1983, Porsche 934, Personalized Autohaus, Wayne Baker/ Jim Mullen/ Kees Nierop

1984, Porsche 935J, De Narvaez Enterprises, Mauricio de Narvaez/ Hayes Heyer/ Stefan Johansson

1985, Porsche 962, Preston Henn, A.J. Foyt/ Bob Wollek

1986, Porsche 962, Bob Akin Motor Racing, Hans-Jochim Stuck/ Jo Gartner/ Bob Akin

1987, Porsche 962, Bayside Disposal Racing, Jochen Mass/ Bobby Rahal

1987, Porsche 962, Bayside Disposal Racing, Klaus Ludwig/ Hans Joachim Stuck

1989, Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo, Electramotive Engineering, Geoff Brabham/ Chip Robinson/ Arie Luyendyk

1990, Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo, Nissan Performance Technology, Derek Daly/ Bob Earl

1991, Nissan NPT-90, Nissan Performance Technology, Derek Daly/ Geoff Brabham/ Gary Brabham

1992, Eagle MKIII-Toyota, All American Racers, Juan Manuel Fangio II/ Andy Wallace

1993, Eagle MKIII-Toyota, All American Racers, Juan Manuel Fangio II/ Andy Wallace

1994 Nissan 300ZX, Clayton Cunningham Racing, Steve Millen/ Johnny O’Connell/ John Morton

1995, Ferrari 333SP, Team Scandia, Andy Evans/ Fermin Velez/ Eric van de Poel

1996, Riley & Scott Mk III Oldsmobile, Doyle Racing, Wayne Taylor/ Jim Pace/ Scott Sharp

1997, Ferrari 333SP, Scandia Motorsports, Andy Evans/ Fermin Velez/ Yannick Dalmas/ Stefan Johansson

1998, Ferrari 333SP, MOMO Doran Racing, Didier Theys/ Gianpiero Moretti/ Mauro Baldi

1999, BMW V12 LMR, BMW Motorsport, Tom Kristensen/ JJ Lehto Jorg Muller

2000, Audi R8, Audi Motorsport North America, Frank Biela/ Tom Kristensen/ Emanuelo Pirro

2001, Audi R8, Audi Sport North America, Rinaldo Capello/ Michele Alboreto/ Laurent Aiello

2002, Audi R8, Audi Sport North America, Rinaldo Capello/ Christian Pescatori/ Johnny Herbert

2003, Audi R8, Infineon Team Joest, Frank Biela/ Marco Werner/ Philipp Peter

2004, Audi R8, Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx, Allan McNish/ Frank Biela

2005, Audi R8, ADT Champion Racing, JJ Lehto/ Marco Werner/ Emauele Pirro

2006, Audi R10 TDI, Audi Sport North America, Tom Kristensen/ Allan McNish/ Rinaldo Capello

2007, Audi R10 TDI, Audi Sport North America, Frank Biela/ Emanuele Pirro/ Marco Werner

2008, Porsche RS Spyder, Penske Racing, Timo Bernhard/ Romain Dumas/ Rinaldo Capello

2009, Audi R15 TDI, Audi Sport Team Joest, Tom Kristensen/ Allan McNish/ Rinaldo Capello

2010, Peugeot 908 HDI FAP, Team Peugeot Total, Marc Gene/ Alexander Wurz/ Anthony Davidson

2011, Peugeot 908 HDI FAP, Team Oreca Matmut, Loic Duval/ Nicolas Lapierre/ Olivier Panis

2012, Audi R18 TDI, Audi Sport Team Joest, Tom Kristensen/ Allan McNish/ Rinaldo Capello

2013, Audi R18 e-tron Quattro, Audi Sport Team Joest, Marcel Fassler/ Benoit Treluye/r Olivier Jarvis

2014, Rile Mk XXV1-Ford, Ganassi Racing, Mario Fanchitti/ Scott Pruett/ Memo Rojas

[/table]

 


The Sebring Film Festival: The Seventies

Press Clippings: Sebring Film Festival Part 3. The final video in a three-part series produced by ALMS covers Sebring through the Seventies.  During this era, Ferrari won 2 of the first three races (1970 and 1972) but Porsche eventually ended up dominating the decade as Ferrari re-focused its racing resources to F1, winning four titles in the period.

The Fine Print: All rights belong to their respective rights holders. This video sourced through YouTube and was produced by ALMS (IMSA). Thanks for sharing. 


The Sebring Film Festival: 1967

Fast Films: Nice period piece on the 1967 running of The 12. The Battle was Ford vs. Ferrari and it became increasingly serious and very personal. Ford never quite got over it (neither did Ferrari).

The Fine Print: This video by “old SCCA Guy yah” . Embed  via YouTube. All rights belong to respective owners. Thanks for sharing. 

 


The Sebring Film Festival: 1965, Part 5

Fast Films: The final installment of Louis Galanos series on the 1965 Sebring race. Thanks again to Louis for sharing.

The Fine Print: Originally posted on YouTube by Louis Galanos, who we we thank for his efforts in both print and film. Mr. Galanos posted this video as well as the other four featured videos on the 1965 race.