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Category: General
Posted by: Mike
Saw an interesting story on the business side of NASCAR on CNBC a few nights ago called Inside the World of NASCAR. See the link for show times.

In my opinion NASCAR reached a peek a few years ago and is now on a decline. A part of this is obviously the economy, but another is once you are on the top, it's just much more difficult to grow more.

I think NASCAR can continue to stay relevant in the future of racing, but I think they'll need to make some changes, potentially major changes like they never have before, and it sounds like they are prepared to. Even though NASCAR is a tried-and-true kind of deal and on the surface it appears they archived most of their success but maintaining the status quo, in reality they've changed things when they needed to in order to maintain and grow market share. The statistics say they've done this much better then any other motorsport sanctioning body in North America including USAC, IRL, CART/Champ Car, SCCA, IMSA, etc. etc.

However, If NASCAR is not successful in staying relevant, then that's a great opportunity for other motorsport to come in and pick up.

Finally, here's an interesting article comparing NASCAR's current state to CART/Indycar in the 90's and NASCAR's role in the CART/IRL split:

Is NASCAR ready to weather storm?
Category: Karting
Posted by: Mike
Here's a neat video of Ayrton Senna, Alan Prost and several other former F1 drivers at an invitational karting event in 1993.

Ayrton Senna Racing Karts Paris Kart Masters 1993

Included is some screencaps of Senna and some commentary on his technique.

The site also has some other good karting videos and tips too.
Category: Budget
Posted by: Mike
Here's an interesting clip during a broadcast of the 1985 PPG Indycar Series:

1985 CART Indy Car Team Cost Featurette

The price they come up with for a competitive single car team is $2.3 million, which includes purchasing new chassis, engines, transporters and equipment, hiring a team and a "test team" budget. See the video for the breakdown of costs.

I ran that figure through an online "inflation calculator" and it comes to about $4.54 million in 2008 dollars.

Interestingly, that's not too far off this 2006 estimate of $5.47 million to run one car in the current IRL Indy Car series. Of course, that's after numerous cost cutting attempts by the IRL. As of 2009, the series still uses the same cars and engines as 2006 and there has been more cost cutting but who knows how effective.

During CART's peak in the mid to late 90's, budgets were rumored to be $10 million + for a car.
Category: General
Posted by: Mike
Ten years ago, Speed World Challenge Touring Car typically averaged up to 40 cars a race. In recent years, that number has trailed off dramatically. I'm no expert, but I'm guessing rising costs played a big factor. The rules changed to allow more modifications - sequential trannys and unlimited aero come to mind. This year, both the touring car and GT classes have been struggling to run 10 cars each per race.

SCCA has announced a new TC2 class in an attempt to boost the touring car count. Will it work? Well, at Watkins Glen this weekend there is 1 TC2 car in addition to the 12 regular "TC1" cars.

Perhaps SCCA should have just announced one lower cost formula at the beginning of the season? Or have not let cost escalate so high in the first place? Then again, maybe the rising costs were just an effect of a growth in prominence of the series? Maybe one of the requirements for "professional racing" is professional budgets!

Still, spending hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, who knows, to develop a "production" racing car seems excessive.
Category: Racing Books
Posted by: Mike
Going Faster! Mastering the Art of Race Driving by Carl Lopez was the first book on race driving I read. I read it before attending the Skip Barber and Bertil Roos schools.

If you only read one book on road racing, you can't go wrong with this one. The book is very comprehensive, covering all aspects of racing in moderate detail. A large chunk of the book breaks down how to drive the car, from the racing line, to changes in surface grip, to road camber and elevation changes, to threshold braking and trail braking, etc. The book explains the theory from an analytical standpoint and uses data graphs and diagrams to help. It is easy to understand and easy to read.

The rest of the book covers pretty much everything you need to know to become a good racecar driver. An important section of the book focuses on how to "learn" a track, use reference points, build up to speed, and figure out where you are loosing time. Another section focuses on racecraft - how to pass cars, starts, etc. There's also chapters on mental preparation, rain driving, and a few other topics.

The book uses the Skip Barber Formula 2000 car in all the examples, but all of the info can be transferred to most other cars. There is one chapter that describes the differences between common classes of road racing cars.

There is one chapter on setting up the car, which covers all the main aspects, but doesn't go into deep detail, as that's not the focus of the book.

Going Faster is written in such a way that even if you don't know anything about racing, you won't be overwhelmed. When I read the book, I found that I already understood a lot of the material, but there were still some more advanced ideas I hadn't even thought about. It is concise and informative, but not necessarily exciting.

I've also been reading Drive To Win by Carrol Smith. That book is similar, but not as comprehensive, a little more detailed a little more technical on some topics, a little more opinionated and perhaps a little more interesting to read. I'll follow up with a full review of that book sometime.