Friday Favourites: 13 May 2011

Hello everyone, here is another in the irregular series highlighting some of the best of the motorsport web.

There is a lot of good stuff out there at the moment so I’m a way behind with my reading, apologies if I’ve not mentioned yours, and do feel free to follow up in the comments with anything worthwhile that you think people should see.

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20 Years On: The Cat That Owned The Cream
 – Adam Cooper / Autosport Plus (subscription required)

Even if you don’t like sportscars you should read this for the sheer number of F1 crossovers. you’ll be amazed as I was, I like sportscar racing but my knowledge of that era is limited to say the least. Just look at it though. The Jaguar XJR-14 is one of the best-looking race cars of all time, all classes. Adam Cooper relates how succesful it was and how it lead to a certain group of people to work together with great success not just in sportscars, but beyond..

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F1 Photographers Versus The Democratisation Of Media
– Mr C / Sidepodcast

The modernisation of written media is covered regularly, as print gives way to web and that in turn opens the way for good quality bloggers and amateur writers to get themselves noticed. It seems, in a motorsport context at least, the same hasn’t been spoken about when it comes to photography. Mr C explores the issue here, and a lively conversation ensued in the comments when an F1 photographer turned up to debate the issue.

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Centennial Interview Series

– More Front Wing

Steph and Paul have been pumping out an interview every day in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. It is a remarkable effort and there are some fantastic names involved from both past and present of Indy racing: Scott Dixon, Bobby Rahal, Mario Andretti (yes… Mario Andretti), Gil de Ferran, Danny Sullivan, the list goes on. I must admit I’ve not had the time to delve into these properly yet but I certainly will be doing so soon.

Whilst there you should go back a couple of weeks and check out the interview with Keith Wiggins explaining the teams’ perspective on aero kits, and also this superb Twitter guide which should be read by every Twitter user, IndyCar fan or not.

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Formula INDYCAR

– Eric Hall / Another IndyCar Blog

Found on a blog I have only just discovered, this post from April raises the fascinating issue of IndyCar following the model set by Formula 1, which is essentially a European series expanding outwards. Eric suggests IndyCar should be a North American series expanding outwards, to a sustainable limit. I agree with him, I’ve often thought that’s exactly what IndyCar racing should be like, most of the races in North America with several elsewhere. Not only is this is a great idea, it is also well-argued in this post. I’ll be paying more attention to Eric’s writing!

He followed it up with a couple of posts about the ‘dream schedule’, part 1 and part 2.

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World of Sportscars, 5.10

– John Dagys / SpeedTV

A round-up of news from the ILMC/LMS round at Spa-Francorchamps, including a great 3-minute video from Level 5 Motorsports, an American Le Mans Series team who have made the jump to race a car in Europe this year as well as their ALMS campaign. Note this article is spread across two pages and it can be easy to miss the page divider on the Speed site.

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There have been many blog posts this week about the DRS wing in F1, I plan to join them over the weekend so I will link to some of them then. Do also keep an eye on the blog for a quick review of the Donington Historic which I ought to have written 10 days ago.

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Tony Cotman Talk About the 2012 IndyCar

The sanctioning body INDYCAR and their IZOD IndyCar Series are becoming one of the most open championships in the world in terms of fan access, both at the track and in terms of changing the product based on fan feedback, and explaining their thought processes, although clearly the recent fracas over decisions in race control shows there is still a long way to go.

This is a remarkable cultural shift if you think about the introverted nature of all flavours of North American open-wheel racing over the previous 15 years or more. That’s not to say others aren’t open, the ALMS and the BTCC are pretty good at it too, and so it is nice to see a topline open-wheel series following suit.

Noted motorsport bods NZR Consulting are also good at fan availability, just this week their people have been tweeting from Sao Paulo about the build-up of that street venue and the changes made there since 2010, a job tasked to NZR. Their most pubically-visible ‘name’ is Tony Cotman, who works with the IndyCar Series in race control and is also in charge of stewarding the Indy Lights series. He used to perform a similar function with Champ Car and whilst there he oversaw the transition from the then-old Lolas to the new Panoz DP01.

Cotman and NZR are now in charge of overseeing the IndyCar Series transition from the old Dallara IR7 to the new Dallara IndyCar body with “aero kit” add-ons provided by other makers, as well as the change from a sole supplier (Honda) to competition between 3 makes (Honda, Chevy, Lotus), all  under the direction of the INDYCAR ICONIC Committee.

In this short video made publically available via the official IndyCar YouTube channel, Cotman explains the progress they have made to date and lets us know the timescale they are working toward.

I must say I was very sceptical when I first heard this plan which seemed like a letdown over full chassis competition, and it is still disappointing they didn’t take that route, but now I’m very excited to see how this turns out because it is far better than a single-spec series. The new car with engine competition is something really to look forward to, and the added extra of what should hopefully be a variety of aero kits adds an interesting dimension to the mix. Let’s hope those designs don’t converge over the following years to all look the same.

I’ve not asked IndyCar or NZR, but I assume as it on an open channel with a ‘share’ option that I’m allowed to repost the video. Thanks to the @Newman_Haas team for tweeting the original link and do also follow NZR Consulting and IndyCar if you don’t already.

Friday Favourites: 22 April 2011

A series highlighting the best around the motorsport web.

I feel like I’ve given up writing race reviews and opinion posts. Just don’t seem to have it in me any more to write a long treatise about why X is Y especially when others do it so well. Much more fun to read their excellent words and then join the conversations on their sites or on Twitter. What I am good at is picking up news and opinion from elsewhere and sharing it with other subsets of fans. That’s why I started this series of posts. Cross-pollination. Learning from what others are doing.

  • Sidepodcast: An Aside With Joe – This Is Way Above All Our Pay Grades
    F1 journalist Joe Saward’s latest appearance with Christine and Mr C is, as ever, very much worth spending an hour of your time. Even his off-topic divergences are good to listen to! Unlike some, Joe is actually willing to do a some digging in paper trails to work out what is going on with the bigger picture of F1 ownership, and as part of looking things as a bigger picture that he keeps a good eye on what is happening in other forms of racing too. Joe is a great listen and also a great read. I assure you, even if you know a lot about F1 and racing, you will feel much smarter after listening to this.
  • Sidepodcast: Hands On With Fanvision’s Portable F1 Interface – Part 1 and Part 2
    Staying with SPC, guest-writer Amy Fulton has attended two of the three F1 races held this season and at both she tested out Fanvision’s brand new device. You may know Fanvision by their old name KangarooTV, and their G2 model has been a feature at F1, Le Mans and NFL events for a while now. Amy’s got her hands on the new-generation, much-improved G3. Now you have to check out this device, because you’ll wish they covered every racing series on earth with the data they provide!
  • Motorsport Musings: Time For F2 To Deliver
    Dan takes a look at Formula 2 and asks how the series has fared now it is in its third season (wow, that went quickly). Is it living up to the original billing or should it refocus?
  • Motorsport Musings: TT3d: Closer To The Edge
    Another post from Dan, who does ‘too much racing’ far better than I can, sees him review this new documentary film about the Isle of Man TT and rider Guy Martin. Do check out the included video clip, that alone is breathtaking so I can only imagine what the full feature is like. The TT has always scared me somewhat and sometimes when watching the coverage I have to look away, so close are they to hitting solid objects and causing themselves and others an injury. The talent and bravery – and stupidity? – of these riders is astonishing. This documentary looks like a must-see.
  • Oilpressure: Stop The Gender Comparisons
    George makes the great point that TV coverage, reports, the written media, fans, and even the drivers themselves should stop acting as though women racers are taking part in a sub-class of the main race. It is time for driver comparisons to be based on ability alone.
  • Brits On Pole: Could Holding A Road Race Become Easier In Future
    If you hadn’t noticed, BoP has quietly started blogging again – about time too! Last year they kept up with developments to allow road races* to be held in the UK without having to seek the currently-required Act of Parliament. It seems as those things are progressing well, could we see more events on the roads of Britain soon?
    * North American readers in particular may not know that ‘road racing’ here doesn’t refer to ‘road course racing’ (as obviously most tracks here are road courses) but instead to the closing of public roads for the purposes of racing. There are no street circuits in the UK and most rallies take place off-road or on private land.

That’s all this week, apologies for the double-mention for two sites but sometimes that’ll happen when sites put out more than one good post in a week! I’ll be back next Friday with more, do let me know if you spot anything interesting in the meantime.

World of Racing: 16 Jan 2011

Links posts. Often useful, these can sometimes be seen an easy route to blogging, simply sharing what’s around as a way to have something on your own blog. Never one to shy away from stealing a good idea which lazily gives me content, I present ‘World of Racing’, my interpretation of the ubiquitous links post!

I’ve noticed many posts in this style focus on one championship, so you’ve got F1 sites sharing F1 links and IndyCar sites sharing IndyCar links, which great and these blogs do it very well indeed, but I don’t see many cross-motorsport blogs doing the same which I think is odd. Whilst it is true many fans focus on one series as their preferred championship and they might not watch all the races of other series or read the dedicated blogs/news sites, perhaps they are interested enough in other championships to watch the occasional race, catch up with a bit of gossip or read an interesting post on the topic. That’s where I hope to come in.

Let’s get started with the first set of links!

Continue reading “World of Racing: 16 Jan 2011”

I’m Watching… #6

I watch too much racing. Here are the races I watched in the few weeks before going away to Belgium, back in August. Sorry I’m late with this post!

American Le Mans Series
Mid-Ohio 2010

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What a great race! The GT race was the undoubted highlight, multiple lead changes among several cars throughout the 2 hours and 45 minutes. Just as it looked like someone had settled in for the win there would be a twist and another car would be leading, great stuff. Ferrari, Porsche, Corvette, BMW – no matter what it was it seemed to take a turn at leading. The GT2 class in the ALMS is arguably the best GT class anywhere in the world at the moment. The class battle was won by the Risi Ferrari team of Melo and Bruni.

The Prototype field was sparse and on a clear track probably would have been terrible, but on a narrow track with a large GT entry it became a fascinating test of who could work through the slower classes more effectively. Even with so few cars there was a good level of passing and strategy and it too was a good race. Dyson eventually won to take it’s first outright ALMS victory and beat the Highcroft entry by just half a second after 2hrs 45 minutes! Intersport’s Lola led much of the running but lost out with a poorly-timed driver change under yellow, dropping them to third. I get the Fields confused but one of them was very irate on the team radio when he realised the outcome of that decision – that frustation surely became insignificant when the car retired from the race with mechanical failure.

GTC was quite entertaining and LMPC seemed to be a case of nursing the cars home from what I recall. There was some good racing but I’m not a fan of spec series in endurance racing and particularly ACO/IMSA-sanctioned endurance racing. Open these classes up to competition – under heavy restriction if necessary – and I may well become a fan.

I watched this live on the ALMS website with video streaming complete with Radio Le Mans commentary – all sportscar races should be available this way.

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IndyCar Series
Mid-Ohio 2010

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For an open-wheel race at Mid-Ohio this wasn’t too bad. I’ve seen some pretty dire ones over the years and this was among the better ones. You can hardly complain about a race when the top two finish half a second apart, the second major race at this venue in two days to achieve that feat, as Dario Franchitti managed to hold off a challenging Will Power all the way to the end. Justin Wilson was involved in a crash which was a shame as he was doing fairly well. The Andretti suite of cars were all generally quite slow for some reason, they seem to be getting worse on road courses.

The race was led for a large chunk by Alex Tagliani who’d switched to a different strategy to the rest of the field, he stopped early and was helped when a yellow followed not long after. Having started outside the top ten, the strategy worked and he wound up 4th. Tony Kanaan tried something similar but couldn’t make it work and had to make an extra stop.

I watched this live on the IndyCar website which seemed to be having a rare good day with a decent quality stream throughout.

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MotoGP
Brno 2010

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Pedrosa took the lead after his now customary good start, this time from pole – that was until Lorenzo from the outside of the front row jumped both Pedrosa and Spies, knocking Dani to 3rd. A couple of laps later Pedrosa got his way past Spies and set about chasing Jorge. Dovisioso had a scary fall when he dropped it in front of a chasing pack of bikes who somehow missed both rider and bike lying on the track, luckily he was able to pick it up and continue but had to pit the bike as it had apparently been too damaged in the fall.

The Finn, Kallio, ran into the gravel just seconds after the BBC team praised his good performance – the curse of the commentator. Stoner took 3rd from Spies in a fairly straightforward move and that was pretty much it for the remaining 13 laps, though there was a nice battle for 8th in the closing stages – when Bautista fell at the very last corner. Lorenzo had the legs of Pedrosa and held him back to take yet another win.

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GP2 Series
Silverstone 2009

Feature – Romain Grosjean took an immediate lead off the start as most of the field had to avoid the stalled 4th-placed qualifier Jerome d’Ambrosio. There were a couple of spinners on lap one, Chandhok picked his way through the opening lap melee to move from 11th to 6th. It all settled into a rythym for several laps until Grosjean seemed to slow a little and allowed Valerio to challenge. Grosjean had speed on the straights but was slow through the corners and Valerio eventually made the pass into the Abbey chicane when Grosjean left the door wide open. This became the story the cameras followed as Grosjean did his best to fight off car after car.

Lucas di Grassi moved alongside Grosjean through Maggotts/Becketts and they tried to make it side-by-side through the sequence, but Grosjean couldn’t hold on and took to the grass. After the stops, Grosjean found himself heading a train of cars in 6th with Chandhok leading the chase. This became 5th with attrition and that was his position at the flag. Near the end, di Grassi and Perez raced a struggling Hulkenberg who seemed to have his own tyre troubles (the Perez battle was superb, he switched from side to side trying different lines through almost every corner as he tried to pass). Valerio held the lead to the end to take his first GP2 win, di Grassi 2nd and Hulkenberg 3rd with Perez a very close 4th – Perez was largely unseen but came from the very back with an early pitstop to almost reach the podium.

Sprint – After an extra formation lap for stalled cars, Maldonado took the lead from Zuber at the start with Chandhok 3rd. Di Grassi’s car wouldn’t move off the start but he eventually got going in 24th, but spun while setting fastest laps trying to catch the field. On the 3rd lap Petrov put a great move on Fillipi at Stowe, flying past him. Parente was making up lots of places. There was a long stint with no action until half distance when Razia tried to pass Clos for 13th but the cars collided, Razia retired on the spot and Clos had to pit for new tyres. A few laps later Fillipi seemed to lose pace completely, everyone started passing him. Drama at the end as Mortara’s engine blew and Clos spun into the middle of the track on the oil, causing a Safety Car with 3 laps to go, race over. Positions at the top remained unchanged as Maldonado won from Zuber and Chandhok.

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That’s all for now, I’ll be back soon with more racing I’ve been watching.

Goodwood: Video Special

I want to share a few of the videos I recorded during my day at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, before I write up my final instalment (yes late, I know). I spent a bit of time playing around with videos after trying and failing to take photos of moving cars through the small gaps in the crowd.

I want to share a few of the videos I recorded during my day at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, before I write up my final instalment (yes late, I know). I spent a bit of time playing around with videos after trying and failing to take photos of moving cars through the small gaps in the crowd.

Here are the unedited results – they aren’t really good enough for the write-up posts because some are short and the camerawork is not steady, but equally they really are worth sharing because firstly there are some good car/driver combinations, and more importantly they get across the actual experience of being there. If you are looking with your own eyes it is the same as with the camera, you sometimes only get glimpses as the car passes faster or slower than expected or you don’t know it is there at all. That, and the sights and sounds are fantastic at Goodwood so the more chances to show that off, the better!


So I was finishing up my walk around the paddock when a truck drove by with a band on it.


I’d then moved to the small sheltered area between the collection area and the pedestrian bridge to watch the F1 cars leave the paddock. It wasn’t quite as good a vantage point as I’d hoped and then I’d got bored of the gaps between cars, but it was great fun to guess what was coming next.


A little later I was trackside between the main paddock and the next corner, on the paddock side of the track (drivers’ left). This is a McLaren Can-Am – what a noise.


I mentioned the NASCAR presence before, and like many American stars they were keen to put on a show. This is Mike Skinner peforming a mile-long burnout on the entire course! Despite the gentle rarified ‘garden party’ atmosphere of the place, sometimes you do need a bit of agricultural noise and power – and I do love the smell of tyre smoke..


Bruno Senna in his uncle’s iconic McLaren. I was looking forward to this and even for a child who grew up disliking Senna it was a very poignant moment. It was a bit of a shame to see him go so slowly but I’m guessing he was giving a photo op to everyone, which is commendable in itself.


Sir Jackie Stewart in Jim Clark’s Indy 500-winning Lotus which has only recently been fully restored. In tribute to his friend, Jackie wore a black helmet similar to that worn by Clark for that famous victory.


Karun Chandhok in the Williams FW08 driven by Keke Rosberg in 1982.


Sam Bird in the 2010 Williams. I’d moved slightly further up the hill to another little enclosed area here.

If you missed them, I posted more videos along with photos from my walk around the Cathedral paddock, the F1 paddock and also one of a 1929 Bugatti. I’ll be concluding this series on Goodwood soon with one final post, featuring a few closing photos and videos from trackside as well as a write-up of my day as a whole.