Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Josef Newgarden And Team Penske - American Dream Becomes Reality

Josef Newgarden as he sits in his Ed Carpenter Racing prepared No. 21 Chevy Dallara at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach pit box. Newgarden seems just perfect this year to be tapped for Team Penske since he finished the year at P-4 ... just behind P-1 Pagenaud, P-2 Power, and P-3 Castroneves - his new teammates for 2017. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

Josef Newgarden And Team Penske - American Dream Becomes Reality

The rumors that began to crop up around the paddocks during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma season finale of the Verizon IndyCar Series held at Sonoma Raceway September 18th had many scenarios bandied about. One of the more far reaching was that the new American Driver of the series, Alexander Rossi (2016 Rookie of the Year | INDY 500 Winner | finished season at P-11) was seen coming out of a Team Penske transporter during the previous race at Watkins Glen.

This rumor was put to bed recently when Andretti Autosport was able to retain Rossi as Bryan Herta's agreement with the Andretti organization became more formal for the 2017 season. American Driver, American Team ... American Dream.

Cresting the highest point of the Sonoma Raceway road course, Newgarden enjoys blue, blue skies as he sews up P-4 in the 2016 championship points race. The fact remains that only Team Penske drivers were the only drivers to lock out Ed Carpenter Racing and Josef Newgarden from placing higher in the Verizon IndyCar Series points chase. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2016)

Today, the announcement that caught everyone's attention that involved American Team Penske and the pursuit of the American Dream was the confirmation that American Driver Josef Newgarden (finished season at P-4) was signed to drive the No. 2 car for the 2017 season. He will replace last season's INDY 500 winner and season points leader Juan Pablo Montoya, who ended last year in a tie of points after the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma season finale and lost out on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship through the pre-established tie-breaker to Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and finished P-2.  This year JPM finished P-8.

The rumor of Rossi had some plausibility since his career had been rather extraordinary with his early rise through to an F1 ride, to signing with the Bryan Herta / Andretti Autosport combo team and winning the INDY 500 first time out. When one thinks about it, this would be all too soon since landing a seat with Team Penske is never a gamble for the team - they always have the patience and the time to pick just the right fit and talent for the organization.

Josef Newgarden in his Ed Carpenter Racing pit stand following practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. Image Credit: Chris Owens - VICS

A look at Josef Newgarden's rise through the ranks through these last five years, points out how focused this determined driver really is - Tony DiZinno's NBCSports review HERE.

It’s not very often you meet a driver coming up through the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder system and immediately think, “this kid just gets it.”

A Penske Racing conference call interview with:

October 5, 2016

MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Welcome to today's media teleconference introducing Josef Newgarden as Team Penske's newest Verizon IndyCar Series driver.  Along with Josef, we have Team Penske president Tim Cindric joining us today.

Earlier this morning we announced that Josef Newgarden is joining Team Penske as the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet beginning in 2017.  This obviously comes on the heels of one of our most successful seasons ever in IndyCar where we earned 10 wins, 11 poles, our 14th IndyCar championship with Simon Pagenaud and a 1-2-3 sweep in the points standings, something we had not done since 1994.

Josef Newgarden as he bangs across the rumble strips in the off-camber Turn 5 at the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach. He finished the race through the concrete canyons by the sea at P-10. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

Josef, you've been able to spend some time in the shop this morning.  What are impressions of Team Penske so far?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, it's been a whirlwind for me.  It's all happened a bit fast, which is great.  It's just like racing.  Everything goes quickly.

So for me, it's been a pleasure to try and meet a lot of the guys this morning within Team Penske. You know, trying to absorb as much as I can.  It's almost information overload for a guy like me.  Really excited to be here and hopefully add some more value to the group, which is going to be hard to do. They have got a lot of amazing people here, whether it's the manager, the ownership, sponsors, all the crewmen, the drivers.  It's really a lot to get your head around.

So I think for me, I'm just trying to absorb as much as possible and taking in the experience and being prepared for the long off‑season that we're going to have before we get to St. Pete next year.

THE MODERATOR:  Tim, can you tell us why Josef is such a good fit to drive for Team Penske?

TIM CINDRIC:  Yeah, I think that from an historical perspective, you look at it, and you know, he's the first American that we've had driving in IndyCar here since Sam Hornish, so it's been ten years. That's not the reason we hired him.

Obviously we look for the guys that can drive the car and that's what we've always looked at, but it's a bonus, for sure.  The fact that as we look at it, we wanted somebody that we could build on for the future.

It's no secret that he's bringing the average age of our drivers down a little bit, so I think it's somebody that we can build with and I guess the most important thing is showing that he can be successful at this level.  He's somebody that we met with when he was the Indy Lights champion.  I remember meeting with he and Rick and Roger after he won the Lights Championship, and he's somebody we've kept our eye on from that point in time.

No different than when we signed Simon, you have to decide if you're going to make a place for somebody like that, or if you're going to race against him for awhile.  So we figured he was better off being on our side than on the other side.

Q.  You're coming off an amazing season, given what transpired in June at Texas.  How does it feel to be driving for Penske now?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, it's amazing.  I think for me, as a still hopefully, relatively young guy in the sport, it's an amazing opportunity.  It's something that I think you really have to take a hard look at and make a decision on, and for me, it was difficult to look the other way at it.

I think it's a great place where I can learn new experiences, try and grow as a driver, and kind of open up my whole role within the group and try and just become better within the sport.

So I mean, just to put it simply, it feels amazing.  It's an amazing honor, just for me, I just want to be able to integrate into the team and be a part of the whole system that obviously works really well together already.  Had a very successful year in IndyCar and they are very hard to compete against. It's fun for me to be a part of that now and hopefully add some value to the whole group.

Q.  And for you, Tim, with Josef taking over Juan Pablo Montoya's seat, is it pretty safe to say that JPM is leaving the team after this year?

TIM CINDRIC:  Well, it's something that we're still working through.  You know, when we sat down with Juan around Toronto, and had told him at that point in time that we weren't prepared to make any decisions on what we were going to do going forward until the end of the season.

And we wanted to understand, really, what our options were, and we were very up front with him about that whole situation.  And all along, we said that we'd like him to be part of our team in the future.

That doesn't necessarily mean driving our No. 2 car full‑time.  We've talked to him about, you know, we've got a seat for him at Indy if he wants one, and if we do the sports car program, we'd like him to be involved in it.

You know, at that point in time, he said, look, I really want to drive at least another season of IndyCar.  I don't want this to be my last season.  If it was last year, it would be a little easier to take, but this year, I still feel like I have some unfinished business.

And we agreed to just explore different options at that point, which is really what he's trying to do right now.  Finding out if there's a full season ride available, and we said that our offer is open to him and we'd love for him to continue with our team.

It's just something that we needed to decide whether we were going to position ourselves to do that for another year and miss the opportunity to have Josef as part of our team for the future.

So, a really difficult decision for us, because Juan has really been a big part of our success.  Despite where he finished this year, he pushed our guys very hard.  He's been a great guy to work with and would continue to love working with him in the future.  Really, the ball is in his court. It's not the first choice for him, but we'd like to continue some association with him if it makes sense for him.

Q.  When you were at Ed Carpenter Racing, that was always known as the little team that could. Now you're at the big super power team that always does.  And the resources that you have at Team Penske when you go around their shop and all that, now that that's going to be at your disposal, what goes through your mind?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, I think pressure is always present wherever you're at.  I always put pressure on myself with any situation I was in driving in IndyCar.  I think we had high expectations at ECR, and rightfully so.

I thought we had a lot of talented people there.  We had a really great process, great ownership and great partners.  Really had a lot of tools to be successful.  With that, there was a lot of pressure there to do a good job, for everyone involved, our partners, our ownership.

I don't foresee that shifting too much.  I think you're going to have that sense of responsibility anywhere you race, but it certainly is hard to not be inspired, I guess, or overwhelmed when you walk into the Penske establishment.  It's filled with a lot of great people, as well.  A lot of great partners. Tremendous support from the ownership.  I think that same type of pressure that I felt at ECR is really going to actually translate pretty well to what I feel here, as well.

Q.  Two of your teammates live in the area, live in North Carolina; Helio lives down in Miami.  Will you be relocating to North Carolina?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  You know, I would think so.  I'd like to be close to the team and to be able to absorb as much as I can over the off‑season.  I think that's really important.  You've really got to integrate yourself well and give yourself the best shot to help the group, especially for me going into 2017.

So I haven't really had much time to go over that stuff.  This has been a pretty fast process and we're trying to just hit the ground running real quick now and today, and I'm absorbing everything I can as fast as I can here at the shop.  I'll try and sort out a living situation later on, but I would think at some point, yeah, I'm going to have to locate down here so I can be close to the team 100 percent.

Q.  Josef for you, when I look at it from a teammate situation, it's been a rotating door.  You either haven't had a teammate, you've had one‑off teammates, you've had sometimes road course, sometimes oval teammates.  How nice is it going to be having the consistent, not just one teammate, but three of the best drivers on the grid as your teammates?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Yeah, I think it will be great.  It's going to be a different challenge for me, I think, from an establishment standpoint.  You've got more guys to work with.  That brings more engineers to talk to.  It changes the discussion, the whole dynamic that you go through on a race weekend.

I'm excited for that.  It's going to be a shift for me, something I've not been used to.  But I don't want to discount what I've been up against in the past.  I've had a lot of help from my previous owner, Ed Carpenter.  He was a great teammate to me, very strong on the ovals, J.R.  Hildebrand, Spencer Pigot, Luca Filippi.  There's been a lot of camaraderie in the past for me and I've had a lot of great guys to work with and bounce things off of.

What's really going to change is there's going to be more of that.  There's going to be more available here at this group, which I think you can see why they operate at such a high level, when you get that many talented people together, it really helps elevate the whole program and you push each other a lot more.  It's going to be different.

I don't know what that's going to be like.  I'm excited for it.  I hope it pushes me to a new level.  I'm probably going to figure some things out about myself I didn't know and hopefully those are good things; the bad things, I'll try and fix them pretty quick.  But I think it's going to be a great change.

Q.  When would you expect to see Josef make his first test in the car?

TIM CINDRIC:  Monday morning in Elkhart Lake.  We'll be taking all four guys to Road America on Monday, so he'll get a chance.  It's really a unique opportunity because a lot of times when we make a change like this, it's a while before they get in the car.  We had scheduled a test independent of whether we made a driver change or not.

So that's not really the catalyst; the catalyst for us is to get some permanent road course testing in before the winter months, because we feel like it's something that we need to understand a bit better before we go into the off‑season.

So the timing was good for him and he will also be doing a test at Gateway later that week, as well. He's going to get some seat time right off the bat and be able to get in the trenches with our guys and get acclimated very quickly so that in the off‑season we can, I guess, speak from experience.

Q.  Congratulations.  You're a Detroit guy now.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Absolutely.  It's the Motor City.

Q.  Tell me, the makeup of the team, you have an Aussie, you have a Brazilian and a Frenchman.  Are you going to be able to merge with these guys?  Got a lot of competition up here with Team Penske.  How do you think the synergy will be and how tough is it to tell Ed that you were leaving and how did he take it?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, I think to take your first question, I don't know.  I mean, I've not had this type of dynamic with personalities before like we're going to have.  But I think you can definitely see there's a strong work ethic and a strong sense of team work here within Team Penske.

So I think the challenge aspect of having three other really talented drivers around me is only going to be a positive thing.  There's guys from all over the world that bring a little something to the table, and I'm going to try and do the same.

I'm going to try and bring a little something extra that these guys haven't seen before which helps the whole program.  And in return, I'm expecting to get a lot of that from those guys.  I'm excited for that mix.  I don't know what it looks like.  Don't know what it feels like yet.

Like Tim said, we're going to have an opportunity to do that really quickly, which is unique.  It just kind of worked out, great timing.  Excited to see what that brings.

On the inside, you know, it's very difficult.  It was really difficult ‑‑ it was almost easy up until the end of the season, because I didn't really put much time into it.  We really just focused on trying to win the championship, get back in the hunt after the whole Texas deal.

We had a great effort going all year with ECR, and so I didn't really spend much time thinking about it.  I waited to spend a week and take some time after the season finale to really assess everything; and I came to the conclusion of where I wanted to go and where I saw things and where they probably needed to head.

And when I had a conversation and made the decision with Ed, it was difficult.  I mean, it was a great partnership.  It was a great, great environment for me and to do something different is never easy, but I think at this point, it can be a very positive thing for the growth of my career, and I think ECR is going to come out great from it, as well.

Q.  Jokingly, in the spirit of the political season, I wonder if you can offer an endorsement for who might replace you at ECR.  You've worked with Spencer and J.R. and there's some interesting candidates out there for sure.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  You know, fortunately I'm not in the position where I have to decide those things.  So you know, luckily that's down to the different people.

Like I said, Ed's got a great group with the ownership they have over there, so I'm sure they are going to make a great choice.  They have got a great team.

So I expect to be chasing hard to beat them.  I know what it's like on that side and they have a really good product.  I don't think it's going to be easy coming to the other side trying to beat them now.  So I have no idea.  I hope they make the best choice, and I'm sure they will, and we'll see where they land.

Q.  You mentioned this came together rather quickly.  But you also knew that the Penske organization had sort of been watching you for a few years there.  What's that dynamic like, and when did you kind of get the sense that if the numbers and the contract stuff could be worked out, that this was going to be the place that you wanted to be?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, you know, I don't think I did.  I think it was ‑‑ fortunately it was a short, but it was a short period of time where I was in limbo.  I actually didn't have a job.  So you hope it's going to work out.  But like I said, I didn't have much time to think about it during the season because we had such a great effort going.  We all really wanted to focus on trying to win the championship, which was the most important thing.

And then when I finally did start to think about it after Sonoma, really aggressively ‑‑ I knew there would be other opportunities.  I knew there would be other interests and I knew I wanted to try something different.  I knew that was something that I was looking at heavily, and I think at that point, you try and go a different direction and hope it all works out and fortunately this time, it did.

Q.  Josef seems a bit against the grain for some of your recent hires in that he's a little younger than Simon and Will and didn't bring two championships like Sam did.  What made him the guy even back when you spoke to him several years ago that you thought he was going to be a guy that you had to have eventually in your lineup?

TIM CINDRIC:  Well, he's shown me he's a winner.  He's shown me he can handle himself on the racetrack and off the racetrack, and that's really the core ingredient for us, is somebody that can work in our environment, because our environment is not for everybody.

But at the same time, as Roger has always said, it's hard to run a driving school with the expectations that are here and we need to also have somebody that we feel like can work within our group, our teammates and that kind of thing.

When you look at who we've hired over the years, it's been an important part of our structure, although it's not the No. 1 requirement, we want people that can drive race cars and represent our organization and those that we represent in the right way.  Felt like he fit that mold.

Obviously he's got a longer runway in terms of age than maybe some of the hires have or what‑have‑you, but that's really not the motivator, either.  It's more about how do we build the strongest team we have for the upcoming years.  We felt like, as I said, there's never a good time to make a change, especially when you've had success with the guys we've had.

You know, replacing Juan Montoya with anybody, that's a difficult call.  I'm sure if he doesn't end up racing for us in the future, he'll still be winning races and he'll still be one of the guys to beat.  You know, he's not done for sure.  So it's just a matter of us trying to understand what's best for us, and short‑term and long‑term, I guess that will all play out, but this is where we are.

Q.  Have you identified a potential long‑term partner or whether we can expect a sponsorship partner or whether we can expect to see the No. 2 in the kind of like variety that we have seen the last year like PPG, Verizon and DeVilbiss?

TIM CINDRIC:  Yeah, I would say there would be a few exceptions to that, additions or subtractions possibly.  Our 2017, our total lineup for every race isn't totally defined.  We needed to get this piece of the puzzle out there first.  But I don't see it being dramatically different.

Q.  Do you think that Joseph's personality, and obviously now reputation for sheer speed, do you think that that will help attract a more long‑term partner?

TIM CINDRIC:  We've got a lot of personalities around here, as you know (laughing).  I think he'll bring a different dynamic for sure, and I certainly see it as a positive going forward.  I think it helps the potential.  I don't think it hurts the potential in any way.

Q.  I wanted to ask whether you feel like, as someone referred to earlier, you're the only American and you're suddenly in a prominent position; whether you feel like kind of an almost patriotic sense of pride ‑‑ not just pride, but actual dependency, like the future of IndyCar is depending on you.  So many people say that IndyCar will spring to even greater prominence once we have an American champion again.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, I think a great championship is going to be built on a lot more than one person.  I can't see that coming to fruition.

There's definitely a sense of pride in being American, especially joining a team like Penske.  I think it's one of the most successful teams in the world and a team you dream about being a part of.  It really is, it's kind of the American dream, the team itself.

So to be a young, American guy; to get an opportunity to drive with this type of group, it's everything you could ask for.  It's everything you could dream of.  And I'm sure that's going to resonate well with some people.  I don't know how much that moves the needle or not.  I'm not the right guy to ask that.

But I think, yeah, I think for sure, you know, there's a lot of things that are going to help move the needle in IndyCar Racing, and I think you've already seen a lot of them.  I think we are on a good trajectory right now and there's a lot of excitement within the sport and what we are doing with IndyCar Racing.  I hope to add to that.

Winning races is all I care about.  It's my focus for the team and trying to help them win championships and the Indy 500 and I think if there's people that are interested in an American doing that and Team Penske, maybe it will help the cause.  But I don't know if that's the whole equation.

Q.  I know it's probably premature, but could you give a status update on Helio Castroneves?

TIM CINDRIC:  That's a broad question.  He's down there trying to fight the hurricane today.  If you're asking about our driver lineup for next year, this is the only change.

So yeah, he's a guy that as I've said before, he's been a big part of our team.  When you look at the definition of kind of team work and leading by example on and off the track, he's certainly done that. He's a guy that, like anybody else, his career is not forever, either.  He'll be the first one to tell you that.  He's a big part of where we've been.

He and I started with this team at the same time, so certainly a lot of loyalty there and on both fronts.

Q.  Everybody gets into racing and they know who Roger Penske is and they know that that name is synonymous with success.  Did you ever dream of driving for Roger?  Did you ever dream about this or envision this?  Did that ever enter your mind?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  I think for me, I watched everything when I grew up.  I saw NASCAR, Formula One, sports car racing, IndyCar racing, numerous Indy 500s on TV.  Never really got to the race to see it in person until later on in life.

But you always knew who the Marlboro cars were back in the day and they always had those iconic liveries and they always were well kept and they always were distinct within the field.  If I was going to give you the best answer, that's what stands out to me when I was younger, and I always thought, those are the coolest cars out there and I want to drive one of those.

You know, I got into racing actually relatively late.  I didn't start racing, truly, until I was 13.  So you know, it doesn't date back to me being four or five that I had this dream to drive for this team or that team.

I think the more and more I got immersed into racing and really started trying to learn about it and get my hands around everything and understand where I wanted to be; I think the more respect and history that I learned about Penske Racing and how amazing it would be to be able to drive for an organization like this; it's a huge honor to get this type of opportunity and to be a small piece of it.

So to answer your question, yes, it's probably just in a different way for me.  I think my career was a little different in the way it progressed up.  It's an honor.  I think this place is the American dream, and it's one of the best teams in the world.  So it's crazy to be a part of it now.

Q.  Just a quickie.  Roger likes to get on the phone and talk to drivers.  Did he actually get on the phone and offer you the job, and what was your quick response?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  You know, I don't think I've talked to Roger on the phone until like 24 hours ago.  That was the first time I ever had a phone conversation with Roger, really, which was great.

Really, this team has been so easy to get immersed with, in such a short period of time.  I've had a lot of help from Tim in a short amount of time and Roger to try and sort through something and see if it would work and it was a very easy decision to make when it came up.  It was a quick process but it was very easy to see this was the direction I wanted to go.

So yeah, to answer your question, I think I've had help from a lot of people, Tim and Roger have just been great to me.  I don't know much about them to be honest with you.  I'm still learning.  We talk about just being here today trying to take everything in; I'm like trying to tread water right now as a young guy.  I don't know much about it and I'm trying to learn about everyone.  But they have been nothing but gold to me so far.  I can't tell you how easy it is to get to know these people and how well they take care of you.

Q.  Will Brian and Myron and the rest of the crew pretty much stay the same on the No. 2?

TIM CINDRIC:  I don't think our off‑season will be any different than in the past.  We'll sit down and consider all that stuff in the off‑season.  We'll have plenty of time after this testing.  So you know, certainly a believer in continuity to whatever extent makes sense.  But we'll evaluate things in the off‑season like we always do.

So I guess nothing is etched in stone.  But there haven't been any decisions made to make any changes, so I don't know if that really answers your question.  But first thing we need to get in place was who is going to drive the car, and then we'll go these next couple tests, and really after next week, we don't run for, really, probably until next year.

So we've got a lot of time to think about it and try and understand what's the best way forward.

Q.  I know loyalty is a big part of who you are and you've been with Ed and Sarah and that group for a long time.  Was there anybody, drivers, anybody else within the sport, that you sought for counsel to help you make this decision?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, I think you're always assessing things.  You're always talking to people that you're close to.  And for me, it wasn't a matter of, you know, this team, that team.

I think for me it came down to:  Do you ever want to do something different than what you're doing currently, and if you do, is that the right or wrong decision.

I think it would have been very easy for me to continue with ECR and have a lot of success and be very comfortable, and just have a great team behind me.

But for me, it came down to trying to make a decision if I wanted to try something different, and specifically, doing that while I was young still in my career.  If you're given that opportunity, do you want to take it?  That for me was the hardest part.

And there's a couple people that were close to me that I tried to bounce things off of and figure out if that was the right thing to do.  I don't want to get into who they were, but yeah, you always have people that are close to you that try and help you try to sort things mentally.

THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, everybody, for calling in.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports ...

Nice conference call this morning ... Josef Newgarden mentioned dreams but was not overly dreamy. Always focused.

American Driver, American Team ... American Dream.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Josef Newgarden, Penske Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing, Tim Cindric, Sonoma Raceway, Alexander Rossi, INDY 500, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Helio Castroneves, The EDJE, ECR, Roger Penske, 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mazda's Symphony Performance At The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

Mazda Motorsports "Conductor" (John Doonan) stands behind the prized Le Mans class 1989 Mazda 767B which appeared in Class C in the Mazda Pavilion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion during Monterey Car Week August 15-21, 2016. Image Credit: Edmund jenks (2016)

Mazda's Symphony Performance At The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

What happens when one takes three of Mazda's iconic 4-rotor IMSA prototypes and one of its 4-rotor IMSA GTO Le Mans Class C cars, and give John Doonan, the brand's motorsports manager, a conductor's baton?

A warm-up of epic proportions ensues.

During preparations warm-up at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca's Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, the first-ever 16-Rotor symphony was performed on a foggy morning when the 1990 Mazda 787, 1992 Mazda RX7-92P, 1991 Mazda RX-7, and the 1989 Mazda 767-B all lined up in front of their special paddock/pavilion facing John Doonan at a large music stand (presumably with the full score, which contains the musical notation for all the instruments and/or voices) with baton in hand waiting for the initial downbeat instruction.

For four action-packed days, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosted the finest collection of historic automobiles, gathered together for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. As the constant heartbeat of the Monterey Classic Car Week extravaganza, the Reunion brought 550 vintage vehicles to life in their natural racing environment. Rolex shares the event’s appreciation of motor racing history and authenticity, which underscores why the leading brand of the Swiss watch industry has been Title Sponsor of the event since 2010.

Every morning the eerie fog hanging over the undulating raceway on the Monterey Peninsula cleared to reveal a hive of activity on the infield; owners, drivers and curators enthusiastically tinkering in the garages and pit lane. As the Californian sunshine began beating down on the asphalt and the sound of engines reverberated around the hillside, the cars captivated onlookers as they battled out on track, speeding down the renowned and challenging Corkscrew turn, tackling blind crests and tricky apexes, all the way to the checkered flag.

The Reunion brought together 15 classes of cars from every era of motor racing history. Each year the event also features a brand, a specific model, a type of vehicle, or even an accomplished racing driver. The featured marque for 2016 was BMW as the German manufacturer celebrated its centenary. An impressive 64 BMWs entered the Reunion, from the 1937 BMW 328 to a 2001 BMW M3 GTR, all adding to this distinctive rolling motoring museum.
[ht: Racer & MRLS]

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Monterey Car Week, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Mazda, 1990 Mazda 787, 1992 Mazda RX7-92P, 1991 Mazda RX-7, 1989 Mazda 767-B, John Doonan, MRLS, BMW, Rolex, The EDJE

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mercedes Benz Of Arcadia Is Previewed By MercedesBenzTechTalk.Com

Victoria Rusnak, president and CEO of Rusnak Group (right) describes the AMG Performance Center concept to members of the press as Rusnak Group founder Paul Rusnak (L) and Mercedes Benz of Arcadia general manager Brian Beatt look on. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

Mercedes Benz Of Arcadia Is Previewed By MercedesBenzTechTalk.Com 

Mercedes-Benz Of Arcadia is the redesigned new dealership of the Rusnak Auto Group which had its first preview to the press on July 11, 2016 after opening its doors in June. Mercedes-Benz of Arcadia replaces a smaller facility at an adjacent site.

This hallmark luxury dealership is the first LA Basin location to utilize the latest Mercedes-Benz facility image program, known as AutoHaus2.

Alysha Webb, editor and publisher of Automotive Buy Sell Report, shakes hands with Rusnak Auto Group founder, Paul Rusnak, as general manager Brian Beatt (R) looks on during the Press Day tour of the newly opened Mercedes Benz of Arcadia. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

This excerpted and edited from Automotive Buy Sell Report -

New Arcadia facility opens new business opportunities for Rusnak Group’s Mercedes-Benz dealership
Posted By Alysha Webb, Editor and Publisher - July 20, 2016

The Rusnak Auto Group in June opened a huge new Mercedes-Benz dealership in Arcadia, in the San Gabriel Valley northeast of Los Angeles.

The showcase facility took more than a decade to realize, but now Rusnak has new product lines and much more space. That should mean a nice bump in the group’s business.

“It was hard to get the full potential out of the market [in the old dealership],” Brian Beatt, general manager of Mercedes-Benz of Arcadia tells Automotive Buy Sell Report. “We will have opportunities to grow considerably in the next 24 months.”
The new dealership covers over 241,000 square feet, including 40,000 sq. ft. of indoor showroom space and a bit less than 43,000 sq. ft. of service area. It has ten times more showroom space than the former building and seven to eight times more total space, says Beatt.

The new building will have 64 service bays when completed, and will stock over $1 million in parts. “We just keep growing,” he says.

Construction took several years, but getting the project off the ground was 15 years in the making, Victoria Rusnak, president and CEO of Rusnak Group tells Automotive Buy Sell Report.
With the additional space, Rusnak has brought in two new business lines — a Mercedes AMG Performance Center and Sprinter vans.
According to the Mercedes-Benz USA website, there are fewer than a dozen of the AMG Performance Centers — which offer a personalized retail experience – in the U.S.

Museum grade space of the Mercedes Benz of Arcadia showroom floor. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2016)

Adding the Sprinter brand did add construction costs to the new facility, however. To accommodate the tall vans in the service center, the entire building’s ceiling had to be raised by three feet at a cost of $1.4 million, says Beatt.

The facility cost $40 million to build, not including the cost of the land, says Paul Rusnak, the Group’s founder.
Rusnak was able to use local vendors for some of the materials, but other materials, such as the tile, could only be sourced from Mercedes-Benz-approved suppliers [as per Mercedes-Benz corporate Autohaus2 template], says Victoria Rusnak.
Rusnak wants to maximize business at her existing dealerships before adding more, she says. They are “a lot to manage with the cash intensity of the facilities right now.”

For example, the Mercedes-Benz of Arcadia hasn’t begun to realize the full sales potential in the area, says Beatt. For the past two years, as the new facility was being built, the old dealership operated out of around 40 percent of its original footprint, he says.

“This created severe operating conditions, with a severe shortage of space for over two years for new vehicle display, pre-owned display, service parking, and customer parking,” says Beatt.

In 2015, Rusnak’s old Arcadia dealership sold 2,270 new cars and light trucks, and 636 pre-owned used cars and light trucks. This year it aims to sell between 2,500 and 2,700 new and 700 pre-owned.
[Reference Here]

The Rusnak Group was founded in 1961 when Paul Rusnak opened a Triumph dealership (British) in Pasadena. The Rusnak Group now includes 14 makes at 15 locations.  It is primarily a foreign car luxury automotive sales and service group (Germany, Great Britain, Italy, & Korea) with locations that feature Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, Jaguar, BMW, Bentley, Land Rover, Rolls Royce, Maserati, Volvo, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Sprinter, and Hyundai franchises.

Mercedes-Benz Of Arcadia will become known as the museum display showcase in Southern California for current and newly released automobiles of Mercedes-Benz which is a global automobile manufacturer and a division of the German company Daimler AG headquartered in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Mercedes Benz Of Arcadia, Mercedes Benz, Arcadia, Rusnak, Alysha Webb,, MercedesBenzTechTalk, The Rusnak Group, AMG Performance Centers, Sprinter, Mercedes-Benz facility image program, AutoHaus2, Paul Rusnak, Victoria Rusnak, Brian Beatt, The EDJE 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Justin Bell's Cheeky Drive In The New Audi R8 V10 At Lime Rock's WeatherTech Northeast Grand Prix

Justin Bell's Cheeky Drive In The New Audi R8 V10 At Lime Rock's WeatherTech Northeast Grand Prix

I love this car like a bikini model with a trust fund!

Here for the IMSA race at Lime Rock I got to drive the new Audi R8 Plus for our Fox Sports Show! Just a quickie but a fun one!

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Audi Tech Talk, Audi R8 V10, WeatherTech Northeast Grand Prix, FOX Sports, Justin Bell, The EDJE

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

BMW Moments Captured In 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion Poster

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Bill Patterson

BMW Moments Captured In 2016 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion Poster

MONTEREY, Calif., July 19, 2016 —This year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion celebrates the distinguished racing history and centennial of BMW with a full array of racing machines and personalities Aug. 18-21 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. To illustrate some of the action, artist Bill Patterson skillfully captures four moments in time with key cars that will be present at the gathering.

Patterson led with a big moment in BMW’s illustrious racing history, the winning of the 12 Hours of Sebring with Hans Stuck, Sam Posey, Allan Moffat and Brian Redman in the 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL. Following behind is the 1938 Mille Miglia-winning BMW 328 and the BMW V12 LMR that captured the overall win at the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans. Cresting the Corkscrew is the Jeff Koons BMW Art Car that raced at the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans. As a tribute to the Warhol Art Car, Koons selected number 79 - the year Warhol created his BMW Art Car for his M3 GT2.

Jim Busby built, drove, and now has restored this Cory Muensterman owned 1979 #3 Coors/Ocean Motors BMW/COX NEWSPAPERS BMW 320 L4 2000 cc Turbo for the 2016 Rolex Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Image Credit: Cory Muensterman via Facebook 

“We are thrilled with seeing these four iconic BMWs powering through The Corkscrew in Bill’s fantastic painting,” said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “But just wait until these cars make their actual descent during the weekend where enthusiasts can enjoy their true sights and sounds.”

Rear-angle view of the Busby built, restored 1979 #3 Coors/Ocean Motors BMW/COX NEWSPAPERS BMW 320 L4 2000 cc Turbo for the 2016 Rolex Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Image Credit: Cory Muensterman via Facebook 

As the official artist of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Patterson gets to see and paint some amazing cars, but it was especially satisfying to paint this year’s cover art. “Thanks BMW for the inspiration, and for building such great cars. I’m proud to have a part in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the brand. Here’s to the next 100,” Patterson said.

The full-size 24” x 36” poster is $25 (tubed) and will be available at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Souvenir Store in the paddock and its satellite store in the Marketplace during the event.

For more information on the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion or to view the full array of ticketing and hospitality packages, contact the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Ticket Office at 831-242-8200 or visit

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Bill Patterson, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Souvenir Store, 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL, 1938 Mille Miglia-winning BMW 328, BMW V12 LMR, Jeff Koons BMW Art Car, 1979 #3 BMW 320, Jim Busby, Cory Muensterman, The EDJE

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The New Audi R8 Spyder V10 Is In The European Market Starting Blocks

Audi R8 V10 topdowning. Image Credit:

The New Audi R8 Spyder V10 Is In The European Market Starting Blocks
Audi MediaCenter - 07/13/16 - Ingolstadt - Models

Audi unveiled the new R8 Spyder V10 at the 2016 New York International Auto Show in March. Pre-sales are starting in Europe tomorrow. The base price in Germany is €179,000/$198,799.00.
The new Audi R8 Spyder V10 combines breathtaking performance with the thrill of open-top driving. Its freely aspirated 5.2 FSI engine serves up 397 kW (540 hp) of power and delivers 540 newton meters (398.3 lb-ft) of torque to accelerate the high-performance supercar from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.6 seconds and bring it up to an impressive top speed of 318 km/h (197.6 mph). This means the R8 Spyder isn’t just more powerful, but also faster than its predecessor. Its driving performance is supported by the brilliant and typical sound of the aspirated

V10 engine – an intensively palpable experience when driving with the soft top folded back. The newly developed Audi Space Frame also makes its own contribution to the improved performance. It features a combination of interconnected components manufactured from aluminum and structurally-integrated carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. Its torsional rigidity has been improved by 50 percent in comparison to the predecessor model. The curb weight of the mid-engined supercar is just 1,720 kilograms (3,792.0 lb), whilst its dry weight comes in at a mere 1,612 kilograms (3,553.9 lb). Both the intelligent lightweight construction and the freewheeling mode reduce consumption: compared to the previous model, the new Audi R8 Spyder V10 is content with using ten percent less fuel.

With lightning-fast shifting, the seven-speed S tronic transmission transfers power to the newly developed quattro drive system. The electrohydraulic multi-plate clutch distributes drive torque fully variably depending on the driving situation – up to 100 percent of it can even be directed to either the front or rear wheels in extreme situations. The result is particularly dynamic and precise handling.

The various driving modes of the Audi drive select system influence the character of the R8 Spyder. They turn this top-level athlete from a superior motorway cruiser to a cornering hotshot on mountain passes.

The driving dynamics system is controlled using the standard satellite buttons on the R8 sport leather steering wheel with multifunction plus, which is also where the driver can start or stop the engine. Two additional control satellites are optionally available – one for the performance mode, and one for controlling the exhaust flaps. All functions are driver-oriented and thus the driver’s hands remain firmly on the steering wheel whilst their eyes stay focused on the road. The 12.3-inch fully digital Audi virtual cockpit displays all relevant information in elaborate 3D graphics.

A special performance view delivers information on torque, power, oil and tire temperatures, as well as lap times and G-force. The R8 Spyder is the first model in which selected mobile phone content can also be displayed directly on the Audi virtual cockpit via the Audi smartphone interface – just one of many infotainment features available. The best possible visibility and thus an increase in night-time safety comes in the form of the LED headlights with newly developed laser technology. They are recognizable by a blue anodized band which is also illuminated. An impressive range of personalization options for the interior and exterior round off the extensive product offer.

The Audi R8 Spyder V10 is almost entirely hand-built at the “Audi Böllinger Höfe” purpose-built production plant near Neckarsulm. The pre-sales of the high-performance sports car bearing the Audi Sport label begin on July 14, 2016 in Europe with a base price of €179,000/$198,799.00 for Germany.

Audi R8 Spyder V10:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 11.7 (20.1 US mpg);
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 277 (445.8 g/mi)

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Audi Tech Talk, R8 Spyder V10, 2017, New York International Auto Show, European Market, The EDJE

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

66th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance To Include Giotto Bizzarrini’s First Automobile

This Car will be among several Bizzarrini, non-Ferrari developed cars featured at the 66th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Image Credit: Courtesy of the archives of Tom Fischer 

66th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance To Include Giotto Bizzarrini’s First Automobile

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (June 29, 2016) — The very first car made by Giotto Bizzarrini when he was a mechanical engineering student at the University of Pisa will be among the many Bizzarrini automobiles featured at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this coming August.

Side view of the Bizzarrini Macchinetta. Image Credit: Courtesy of the archives of Tom Fischer

Bizzarrini built the car, nicknamed The Macchinetta, in the year 1953, and it was the foundation for the start of his career. Based on a Fiat 500 Topolino chassis and drive train, it had an aluminum body formed over a lightweight steel frame. Despite the fact that the engine had a capacity slightly smaller than that of a standard Fiat 500 unit, Bizzarrini was able to fit a SIATA high performance cylinder head with twin carburetors, boosting its output to around 30 bhp. Bizzarrini also integrated The Macchinetta into his graduation thesis, a piece that was highly commended by all of his professors.

Rear View of the Bizzarrini Macchinetta. Image Credit: Courtesy of the archives of Tom Fischer

Bizzarrini later drove The Macchinetta to a job interview at Ferrari, and once Enzo Ferrari saw it, Bizzarrini was hired without hesitation. He went on to develop some of the most-loved Ferraris in the world today. The list includes the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB and the Ferrari 250 GTO. He also designed the Lamborghini V-12 engine and worked with Alfa Romeo, Iso and American Motors.

The automobiles to be featured at the forthcoming Pebble Beach Concours are those that Bizzarrini built under his own name, such as the Bizzarrini P538 Barchetta, the 1900GT Europa and the rare 5300 Spyders. The Macchinetta was restored and shown at a small collection of European events, but this is the first time it will appear in the United States.

Front view of the Bizzarrini Macchinetta. Image Credit: Courtesy of the archives of Tom Fischer

“Although Giotto Bizzarrini was a remarkable engineer,” said Ken Gross, the Selection Committee Member who helped assemble the class, “he wasn’t afraid to choose Chevrolet Corvette V-8 power for his own cars.” Author Winston Goodfellow quoted Bizzarrini as saying, “The first time I tried one, I was shocked. It was superior to Ferrari’s engines, offering the same power with immediate throttle response.”

Pebble Beach Automotive Week begins on Wednesday, August 17 and includes car debuts, the Tour d’Elegance, the Classic Car Forum speaker series and RetroAuto — all preceding the Concours held on Sunday, August 21 on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links.
(ht: Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance)

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: 66th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Giotto Bizzarrini, The Macchinetta, P538 Barchetta, 1900GT Europa, 5300 Spyder, Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, Ferrari 250 GT SWB, Ferrari 250 GTO, Lamborghini V-12 engine, Tom Fischer, Chevrolet Corvette V-8, The EDJE