Friday Favourites: 15 April 2011

A series highlighting the best around the motorsport web.

After a trial run in January (wow, that long ago?) I’ve decided to make a links post a weekly feature, and it has a new name purely to make sure I do it regularly. I’ve found if I leave things free-form they never happen again so I need to create a weekly schedule. I started posting TMR Game results exclusively on a Tuesday evening, and the new Start Times series will be posted on a Thursday night.

Items I list here aren’t necessarily up to date but they are always, in my opinion, worth a read or a listen. Whilst I have over 1000 items in my Google Reader, many of them are news articles so in terms of true blog posts and podcasts it is probably nearer 200. That’s still a hefty backlog so if your thing appears here a couple of weeks late, please don’t take it personally. I will take suggestions whilst retaining the right not to include things, I want these to be concise updates!

On to this week’s links.

  • More Front Wing: MFW Podcast Episode 36– I’m going to be honest, I struggle to stay up to date with podcasts, people release far more than I ever have time to listen to and I always feel bad for not keeping up. This is one such show, and one that had dropped – not purposely –  from my rotation in 2010 when I got snowed under with content. I won’t be making that mistake in 2011.The episode I highlight here is the show after the St Pete IndyCar race, with special guest Shane Rogers who is ridiculously knowledgeable about IndyCar and F1 (and who knows what else)!
    His input is fantastic, particularly since he’d attended the Australian Grand Prix that weekend and was able to offer a direct comparison of F1 cars and IndyCars – and events – from the perspective of the stands at the track. Steph and Paul put together a great show and subsequent shows feature Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe, I’m listening to Ed’s show as I write and I can’t wait to hear the show with Hinch!
  • Oilpressure: Randy Bernard Interview Part 1 and Part 2 – Even if you are not a fan of IndyCar racing you should still read this interview. Randy Bernard, CEO of INDYCAR, has been a real breath of fresh air in his just-over-a-year in charge of the series. Such a huge change from the fighting, dictating attitudes of the 90s to early 00s and the introspection and cluelessness of the mid-00s – and I count all flavours of Indy racing in that: CART, Champ Car, IRL.  The unified IndyCar Series is now led by a man who is not just open to listening to teams and drivers, but also to fans and bloggers. This is just one of many Q&As he’s granted to bloggers, but what’s good about this one, is that it was Randy’s idea! He saw George at Oilpressure ask his readers for questions ‘should I bump into Randy’ at the Barber round, and Randy came back and made it a meet-up in person for a real Q&A. And it is a top notch Q&A as well, good questions (as you would expect from the learned readers of Oilpressure), great answers – not banal PR fluff.
    Do also take a look around the rest of the site to see more photos and words from George’s weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.
  • Sidepodcast: F1 in China – Christine has questioned why F1 still races in China when it seems there isn’t a single person in the world who wants it to happen. The personnel don’t like it, there are no fans in the place.. why bother?
  • VivaF1: The Prince of Motorsport (Part 1) – A great guest post at VivaF1 from The F1 & Motorsport Archive’s Leigh all about the life and times of the man recorded in the F1 history books as Prince Bira, or ‘B Bira’. Check out Part 2 later this weekend and do have a look at the other articles at both VivaF1 (some really great F1 articles in the past few days) and F1&MA (coming live from Monza for British F3).
  • Neil Hudson: New BTCC Regulations: Who is the fastest? – This season the BTCC has added new technical regulations alongside the existing S2000 and BTC cars. NGTC is a new spec for both chassis and engine, but there’s also the option to fit NGTC engines to existing S2000 cars. But which is faster? Neil checks the lap times from the opening round at the 1.2 mile Brands Hatch ‘Indy’ short circuit and graphs the results. I hope he does the same later in the year so we can see how the cars develop. (Sadly my comment appears to have been moderated).
    Note – This article appears on Neil’s own blog, he also writes for Touring Car Times which I urge you to add to your RSS rotation immediately for superb coverage of WTCC, BTCC, STCC, CCTCC, DTM, V8SC and more.

Do let me know of any interesting articles and podcasts you find around the web, and I’ll have more here next Friday.

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Guest Post at F1 Archive

It occurred to me earlier that amongst watching the Rolex 24 at Daytona last weekend I forgot to mention here the guest post I wrote for Leigh at The F1 & Motorsports Archive. It was written a little late but was for the previous weekend’s 3rd VivaF1 Blogger Swap Shop.

You can read my post here “Are Pay Drivers Getting Better?” and the rest of the articles in the 3rd Swap can be found in this bundle including RubberGoat’s post here.

Thanks to Leigh for hosting and to VivaF1 for the swaps.

Swap Shop: Too Much Racing?

Too Much Racing?

I am really excited to be guest writing for Pat’s blog as part of the Bloggers’ Swap Shop series as I am a regular reader of this blog – like Pat, I’m not just a Formula 1 fan, but a big fan of all Motorsports.  It’s amazing how different each form of Motorsport is and what makes these series so enjoyable for different reasons.  The long-term strategy of Endurance Racing, The wheel banging of Touring Car Racing, the ‘Maximum Attack’ opposite lock slides of Rallying and the madcap daring of MotoGP to name a few.  If it’s got wheels and an engine then I will probably like it…

Back when I was a kid, when I lived in the UK, we watched F1 on Sundays only (no qualifying sessions were shown on TV) and the RAC Rally.  Then when Nigel Mansell moved to America, we started watching Indycar.  Then the BTCC started getting really popular too.  Then a chap called Carl Fogarty started looking quick on a motorbike and so we started watching Superbikes.  But with most of these series showing half or one hour highlights and usually at the weekends, so these were quite easy to watch and didn’t take up too much time.

Then in my teens, I moved to NZ, which back then was a Motorsports moratorium! F1 was on Sky only, no WRC, no bikes and not even any V8 Supercars coverage except for Bathurst itself! Thankfully this situation slowly improved, and Sky in particular started to show more of the series I was used to – including Indycars, as soon as Scott Dixon had a ride…

So now I live in Europe again and I have access to all of these Motorsports if I want to.  But the main difference is that the way they are shown on TV has changed – while they used to be short highlights packages, we now get full live coverage, Not only that, but we have access to the whole season of racing, so for example the RAC Rally expanded into the WRC, Le Mans into Sebring, Petit Le Mans, ALMS and LMS, MotoGP has the 125’s and Moto2’s, Indycar has the  Lights series, plus F1 has all the practice and qualifying sessions live on TV.

Being a Motorsport fan has changed a lot with the advent of satellite/cable TV and the internet – seeing a short highlights programme and maybe reading a small clipping in a newspaper (or Autosport if you were lucky enough).  Can you imagine following the sport like this now?  We spend hours watching footage, reading articles on the web, writing blog posts and arguing the toss on various internet forums – we analyse, scrutinise and opine in ways we never dreamt of before.  As a viewing pubic we have welcomed this move with open arms and consider that if you don’t watch the whole coverage, then you aren’t following the sport properly.  These have been big changes over the last 10 years.

Another big change has been the number of series – I have mentioned some of them above, but you can add A1GP to that mix, along with the IRC to supplement the WRC, DTM, WTCC, Superleague Formula and various other Feeder Series like GP2, GP2 Asia, F2, F3, AutoGP, GP Masters, Formula Renault 2.0 and World Series, and many more.  All of these have unprecedented TV coverage and it’s hard not to feel as a racing fan that you should be watching these.  All racing drivers say they want to get to F1, but I wonder if there are those who wouldn’t mind a career where as long as they get sponsorship, they are happy just to compete year after year in this multitude of series having a laugh?  They’d never admit that to though as it would surely upset their sponsors…

I do wonder where all of these series have come from – and they keep coming too.  Granted, some of the above have failed as quickly as they have started, but plenty of others have happily taken their place.  You do feel as though there is critical mass now and at some point that the bubble will burst, a lot of sponsors and money will just disappear from the sport and we will be back to the old days again.  I feel sorry for the young guys wanting to get to F1 – in the old days it was simple how to get there, but now there’s no clear path at all.  It’s especially hard to see drivers with talent not doing as well as they should do just because of a lack of funding, but that’s another story…

One can only conclude that there are simply aren’t enough hours in the day to follow all of the Motorsport we want to any more, which means that we have to pick and choose what we follow and what we don’t because we just can’t watch them all.  And as I said earlier, with no clear path to F1 any more, it’s hard to prioritise which ones are more important to watch.  At the end of the day this can only be a bad thing – there are so many series all competing for the same turf that they are taking fans and sponsorship monies away from each other.  This is why I said earlier that I think the bubble will burst – and that a consolidation of the many series on offer is just over the horizon.

So I leave you all with a question: Do you think we have too much racing?

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Rubbergoat is the author of the popular stats blog Making Up The Numbers, is a regular commenter across the motorsport blogosphere and Twitter, and is a regular caller/emailer on multiple podcasts. This post appears as part of the 3rd instalment of the fantastic Bloggers Swap Shop by VivaF1. Thanks to Gavin for writing it!

Book Review at VivaF1

I’ve been reading a book this week for a review for VivaF1.com, as part of their week of book reviews.

You’ll find the review here:  MotoGP: An Illustrated History

I hope you check it out because it is a really interesting book even if you are only casually interested in two-wheeled racing, and please do also look at the other reviews posted since Monday.

Blogger Swap Shop: Perception

As part of the VivaF1 Blogger Swap Shop, I was given the honour of writing for the host blog of the Swap.

Please be sure to head over to VivaF1 to read my thoughts on the perception, talent and prestige of racing drivers both in and out of Formula 1, and where I question what could have been. Enjoy.

If you missed it before, Leigh from the F1 & Motorsports Archive was guest blogger on this very site, you can read his excellent post right here.