Monday, September 22, 2014
The Cadillac booth under construction at the 2012 L.A. Auto Show. GM's luxury arm has confirmed the high-performance ATS-V sedan will make its world debut at the 2014 L.A. show in November. Image Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times
60 Total Reveals, 30 World Debuts, Confirmed For The 2014 LA Auto Show
Here's the breakdown of the 2014 Press & Trade Days (Nov. 18-20) at the Los Angeles Convention Center:
** Half of all unveilings will be never-before-seen global premieres
** More than 63 percent of global debuts are luxury and performance vehicles
** Technology announcements expected from OEMs across the board
** Important statements regarding several brands' evolution of their design language
** Several brands entering into new market segments
** Fastest growing SUV/CUV category to represent one-fifth of this year's global debuts
The Los Angeles Auto Show confirmed today that 30 world debuts (totaling 60 vehicle unveilings overall) will be introduced in front of a global audience during its 2014 Press & Trade Days at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Almost every manufacturer has news to make in Los Angeles, but several automakers stand out with multiple global premieres of significant new vehicles.
Audi is planning one of its biggest LA Auto Shows to date, with up to eight total debuts, three of which are global, all to be presented by chairman of the board, Rupert Stadler. Mercedes-Benz will feature three world premieres, which will be showcased alongside the brand's two North American debuts, while Porsche will hold several world reveals. Mazda will feature three global premieres, one of which is an all-new vehicle. BMW has confirmed two world debuts and three North American debuts, and Chevrolet has also committed to two global premieres.
Details on the 2015 Chrysler 300 are light, but the American automaker is expected to update the sedan with new styling along with numerous upgrades to the interior. Image Credit: AutoGuide/Fiat Chrysler
Cadillac has already announced its world reveal of the high-performance 2015 ATS-V, while Chrysler plans to introduce its completely refreshed 300 and 300C models.
An effort to establish a greater luxury perception upon Acura by Honda was the theme at a recent Motor Press Guild meeting at the Honda Collection Museum in Torrance. Michael Accavitti, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Acura Division delivered a keynote address on the launch of the all-new TLX luxury performance sedan. The Motor Press Guild (MPG) is the sponsoring association for the Los Angeles Auto Show where the MPG honors innovation with it's Innovation Vehicle of the Year, or IVY Award. The IVY recognizes vehicles that represent segment-busting technology, engineering, and other significant factors that move the industry in a notable direction. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)
Scion also recently announced its plans for a global premiere of an all-new vehicle. Other brands making big statements with world premieres include Acura, Lexus, Toyota and Volkswagen. A few other brands that are keeping their plans under wraps are expected to add to LA's roster of global premieres.
There's little doubt that the 2015 BMW i8 is one of the most radical and groundbreaking performance cars this industry has seen in a long time. From its unique carbon-intensive construction to its 1.5-liter, three-cylinder and electric motor plug-in powertrain to its concept-car originated appearance in 2009 , the flagbearer for BMW's new i venture challenges the very notion of what it takes to be a supercar. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)
At least a dozen manufacturers have confirmed North American introductions, including Land Rover, who will reveal its all-new 2015 Discovery Sport crossover. Also expected are the MINI hardtop four-door and the Superleggera Vision concept, a redesigned Kia Sorrento, the convertible versions of the 228i and M235i from BMW, the Mitsubishi XR-PHEV concept vehicle and a dramatic statement by Volvo, who is re-launching its entire brand with the introduction of the second generation XC90, the company's first model in four years. Fiat, Infiniti and Nissan are also verified to make North American debuts.
Volvo's "Drive Me" autonomous vehicle will also make its North American premiere on the Connected Car Expo (CCE) show floor on Nov. 18, with executives discussing the car's progressive autopilot technology. For the second consecutive year, the LA Auto Show's CCE will take place in conjunction with Press & Trade Days and will feature 80 presenting experts, 20 conference topics and executive interviews, multiple news conferences and an expanded 50,000 square foot exhibit space. Breaking technology news from Audi, Hyundai, KPMG and several other exhibitors will highlight a full day of expert presentations. Additional information HERE.
"With this debut lineup, Los Angeles will deliver the best of what's to come in the automotive space and we're eager to see how it all unfolds," said LA Auto Show President, Lisa Kaz. "The automotive landscape is ever-changing and we continue to be at the forefront of the groundbreaking news."
(ht: LOS ANGELES AUTO SHOW)
... notes from The EDJE
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Final Practice Nets Tragedy For SMP Racing And Aleshin
A crash involving three drivers happened in the final practice for the MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana California.
The three drivers were Snapple Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti, NovoLog FlexPen Ganassi Racing's Charlie Kimball, and SMP Racing's Mikhail Aleshin. Two of the three drivers were able to walk away but the rookie driver from Russia, Mikhail Aleshin (pronounced Ah-lotion), needed to be helped through the efforts of the Holmatro Safety Team out of the Dallara DW12 and onto a stretcher.
The first report issued at the track is that Mikhail is conscious and being transported by Helicopter to Loma Linda Hospital in San Bernardino County complaining of right shoulder and right foot pain/injury. He is listed in Serious Condition.
The photos from the video feed at the track suggested something a bit more tragic than the first reports on Aleshin's condition because one of the cars was seen as flying up into the air into the catch fence.
Further images showed that a tire from a car was embedded in the fencing material with the car Aleshin was driving in shambles further down the track exiting Turn 4.
The last time cars flew into fences at an oval IndyCar event, the results cost us all with the life of Dan Wheldon which also happened at a season ending event.
The initial reports are promising and we all pray for a positive, and life affirming result from this final practice crash.
... notes from The EDJE
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
|Auto Club Speedway’s President Gillian Zucker shares a moment with Penske Racing’s Helio Castroneves during a media PR stop with the LA Galaxy at StubHub Center, Carson, California. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)|
Auto Club Speedway's President Gillian Zucker Talks All Things ACS
For those of you who may not be familiar with folks who run and manage racetrack venues, Auto Club Speedway President Gillian Zucker is the first female president of a track that hosts auto racing’s most popular event, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and was recently named by FOX Sports and MSN as one of the top five most powerful women in motorsports.
The Verizon IndyCar Series will be holding their third championship season ending, double points paying, 500 mile race at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, with the MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships - this coming weekend, ending at night, under the lights, Saturday, August 30.
Gillian Zucker, Welcome ...
|Gillian Zucker, Auto Club Speedway with IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves and players from LA Galaxy promote the MAVTV 500, August 30, 2014. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)|
1) First off, what training and background does one have to have to become a person to occupy a position as president of a major racing facility? What road did you travel to get at this point?
2) Just what was the interest in this challenge - are you a fan? a good business manager, both?
3) In this economic climate ... what are the challenges to drawing fans from the greater Los Angeles/Orange County basin for NASCAR and IndyCar?
4) There are other forms of racing held at Auto Club Speedway - for example, most people seem to think the only drag-racing that takes place in the greater Los Angeles/Orange County basin is another Auto Club sponsored facility in Pomona, but there are actually a couple more ... and Auto Club Speedway is one. Please tell us more about the drag-racing program at Auto Club Speedway's Auto Club Dragway - how professional is the activity?
5) Another program at Auto Club Speedway is a bit more fan interactive - Exotics Racing gives one the opportunity to drive their choice of exotic super cars on a race track with 1-on-1 coaching from driving instructors! How has the Ëxotics Racing¨venture worked out so far?
6) The facility at Auto Club Speedway has a large infield, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the Indy 500 is held, has successfully transformed its infield into a very compelling road course race track reminiscent of the layout pace found at the track in Portland Oregon ... is Auto Club Speedway planning on attracting professional sport-car racing through a road course addition as IMS has done?
7) The IndyCar competitors resoundingly enjoy testing and racing at Auto Club Speedway but for 2015, the series management is considering different options for a venue to hold the season finale ... given the banter in the broadcast booth during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma -
Do you see the Verizon IndyCar Series remaining on the calendar as the season finale? ... or any date, for the foreseeable future?
8) Lastly, what do fans need to be on the look out for while attending MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships - this coming weekend?
... notes from The EDJE
This was written by Tony DiZinno at NBC Sports Network - Aug 27, 2014, 1:23 AM EDT - about the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season schedule where ACS President Gillian Zucker states what she said in the interview above at ... notes from The EDJE:
Lastly we come to Fontana, to come full circle from where this post began nearly 900 words ago. Frankly, and despite a strong and committed level of promotion from Auto Club Speedway, ISC, and track president Gillian Zucker, INDYCAR has done ACS zero favors in terms of a consistent date for date equity since its return to the calendar after a seven-year absence.
Yeah, it’s been the last date of the season for three years. But that last date has been September 15, 2012, October 19, 2013 and now August 30, 2014 in three consecutive seasons. How can most locals know when the race is if it changes on them three straight years?
This year, Zucker has justifiably spoken out, confirming to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin that a Labor Day date – one Miles has held firm the IndyCar Series needs to end by – won’t work for the track. It’s going to be a challenge because the NBCSN race telecast doesn’t start until 9 p.m. ET Saturday night, with the race scheduled to start at 7:20 p.m. local time (10:20 p.m. ET).
So suddenly one of the big things we have to watch this weekend is how Fontana deals with the date, and what could happen about its date changing again for the following season.
Essentially, here’s where we’re at for the IndyCar 2015 schedule.
Confirmed dates, as announced either by the track or series include:
March 16-17, Barber open test, March 29, St. Petersburg, April 19, Long Beach, May 9, Grand Prix of Indianapolis, May 16-17, Indianapolis 500 Qualifying, May 24, Indianapolis 500, May 30-31, Detroit Belle Isle, June 6, Texas Motor Speedway
Likely dates, based on projections and similar weekends as in 2014:
June 20, Iowa, August 2, Mid-Ohio, August 23, Milwaukee, August 30, Sonoma
Question marks, where the date or venue could change:
Barber (should be either side of Long Beach in April), Houston (currently last weekend in June, not yet confirmed for same date in 2015), Pocono (possible from either last weekend in June through second weekend in July), Toronto (as mentioned above, neither venue nor date is confirmed), Fontana (date TBD; we’ll see how this week shakes out)
Wild cards, either new venues and/or the proposed international races:
Canada’s date du jour. Assume the Canadian Grand Prix occurs June 7, and with IndyCar at Texas June 6, that potential Toronto-Montreal date conflict is averted. Either late June or one of the July weekends could work for a CTMP, Mont-Tremblant or other random Canadian venue date. Toronto’s streets could work June 13, potentially, but that seems a likely off weekend.
New Orleans is possible for 2015 – Michael Andretti’s group seemed keen on it happening next year during his Milwaukee pre-race media availability.
The two locations mooted for the spring international races, likely in February or early March, are Dubai and Brazil. Details on those would need to be forthcoming, but they wouldn’t feature the new-for-2015 aero kits as they’re not delivered to teams until March 1. Of course, we’ve been down the “international race” path before without it actually going anywhere.
Road America. As mentioned above, unlikely for 2015, but we can dream, right?
Friday, August 22, 2014
|Ed Carpenter - Driver, Team Owner, Oval Track Specialist. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)|
Ed Carpenter Talks MAVTv500, ECR Team Performance, & CFH Racing 2015
Ed Carpenter has been racing since he was 8 years old and balanced racing and education throughout much of his career. Carpenter graduated from Butler University with a degree in Marketing in 2003, a few weeks before he won the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carpenter always has been interested in things with engines.
Carpenter started Ed Carpenter Racing for the 2012 season and is the lone team owner/driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He is driving in the oval races for 2014, while Mike Conway is driving the street and road courses. In their second event together, Conway won the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
This past weekend in Milwaukee Ed Carpenter finished in the top 10. Carpenter is successful at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. He won ACS's 2012 MAVTV 500 INDYCAR Race. Last year, he came in 2nd for ACS's 2013 MAVTV 500 INDYCAR race (lost to Will Power). He also won the pole position for back-to-back INDY 500 races - May 2013 & 2014. As an INDYCAR driver and team owner ... over last weekend, he announced that that his team (Ed Carpenter Racing) is merging with Sarah Fisher Hartman racing for the 2015 season.
As we go into the final two races of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series (VICS) championship season, Ed Carpenter answers a few questions and expresses his hope that Ed Carpenter Racing team ends the VICS season in the Top 5 in points accumulated.
|One and a half weeks before the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season finale MAVTv500 race at the AutoClub Speedway, Ed Carpenter attends a USC Football practice and attempts a Field Goal. Image Credit: Albert Wong (2014)|
(1) This year has been a pretty good year for Ed Carpenter Racing if one looks at the points the Fuzzy's Vodka DW12 has been able to post up with only 2 races left - Mike Conway's road course at Sonoma and Your Auto Club Speedway's super oval. The two of you are ranked right next to each other - Mike Conway is sitting at P22 and you are at P23 ... but the car's total points have the effort ahead of 3 out of 4 drivers on the two 4 car teams - Ganassi and Andretti - at P7 with 1 Pole and 3 wins.
A) Has this unusual team mix of specialists delivered the results that you expected? B) Has this mix of fielding a car with specialists for a season been done before?
(2) How do you see the team/car finishing the season with these two races that are left? - First, Mike Conway's road course at Sonoma and Second, Your Auto Club Speedway's super oval performance.
Last weekend, before the race was held in Milwaukee, the announcement came out that Sarah Fisher Racing, a team you use to race for and Ed Carpenter Racing were going to merge to compete in the 2015 season and form a 2-car team.
(3) With announced merger forming CFH Racing, what do you see as the advantage in a multiple car team over your present one car/two driver efforts which are impressive on their own? (4) Did the use of the new aerodynamic kit packages for 2015 enter into your decision to merge and grow the team? (answered in context of previous question - skipped)
(5) Does this merger forming CFH Racing allow your current sponsor Fuzzy´s Vodka to gain more exposure?
(6) Do you see the multi-car teams having an advantage in this area of sponsorship and racing platform changes?
(7) Sarah Fisher's driver, Joesef Newgarden seems to be becoming a hot commodity right now in the paddock. Do you intend to try and retain Joesef Newgarden as a driver on this new 2-car team?
(8) Will you continue with the 2-driver line up in one DW12 with Mike Conway taking up duty on the road courses as part of this 2-car team? ... or will you eventually join Sarah in a team management role?
MAVTv500 Tickets >>>
... notes from The EDJE
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
|Crowd of motor culture enthusiasts gather to see the premiere screening of “Racing Through the Forest – The History of the 1950-56 Pebble Beach Road Races”. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)|
Spoken word documentary "Racing Through the Forest" at Pebble Beach delivers a 'Must See'
Boxes that contain photographs arranged in albums (not just images) of times shared in a lifetime are nothing more than just books with photos. It takes other humans who have courage, patience, acumen, and heart to attempt to capture context and tales associated with the lives and times of a bygone era so important to our modern day motor culture ... here, and throughout the world.
Race car driver, Rick Knoop is one such person who, with the support and talents of film-maker Dean Kirkland, Rick's wife Cydette Vikander Knoop, and the rest of the organization at K&K Productions, who stepped up to the challenge to bring forward the stories behind the images stored in book placed in a box then conducted and edited over 50 interviews, 100's of photos, and archive film into one 1 hour 16 minutes piece of informative movie entertainment.
|Fred 'Frosty' Knoop as he appeared during an interview in the film presentation of "Racing Through the Forest" at Spanish Bay. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)|
For those who may have been unfamiliar with Rick, he is the son of Fred 'Frosty' Knoop who also happened to be a driver of sport cars while ranching, raising and judging horses in Northern California. Rick came by his skill through his DNA, in that Frosty raced sport cars in the formative years of modern road racing through the woods of the Monterey Peninsula.
For Rick's contribution to motor culture, as a driver, Rick consistently won and placed in the world’s most challenging and prestigious sports car races that include his victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans to winning at Daytona.
|Rick Knoop as he winds up the V8 engine of the 1972 Can Am McLaren M8F on the front straight of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the 2014 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Image Credit: Thomas Stahler (2014)|
Today, Rick still straps on his similarly colored Bruno Junqueira helmet (or should this be stated the other way around) in an effort to keep alive race cars from past series so that the memory of these engineering marvels never fades.
|Movie Poster - Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)|
This excerpted and edited from KSBW.com -
Pebble Beach race track remembered in 'Racing Through The Forest'
By Amy Larson - Aug 15, 2014 - UPDATED 11:48 AM PDT
"Racing Through The Forest," which premiered at The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach on Wednesday during Monterey auto week.
The film revealed never-before-seen footage of the Pebble Beach Road Races, held from 1950-1956.
Before there was Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, young brilliant mechanics in California who had dreams of becoming race car drivers wanted to compete in their Jaguars, Ferraris, MGs, and Alfa Romeos, and they needed a place to race.
|Photo of the track shown in the film presentation of "Racing Through the Forest" at Spanish Bay. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)|
They chose 17 Mile Drive to be their dangerous track.
The public road had sharp turns and dramatic elevation drops. Del Monte Forest's dense pine trees lined the road and created a strobe light effect. Dark shadows from the trees sharply contrasted against a bright white sky, and the visual effect distracted drivers.
The 1950s is now considered the romantic time of American racing, before the sport became a business for car manufacturers and competition between athletes for sponsors. The Pebble Beach Road Race's entry fee was $15, and drivers were only semi-professional because sports car racing was just being born in America.
|Graphic of the original track layout as shown in the film presentation of "Racing Through the Forest" at Spanish Bay. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)|
Each race, the men behind the wheel got better, the pits become more innovative with designs, and some drivers went on to become world champions (In 1961, Phil Hill became the first American to win the Formula One World Drivers' Championship. Carroll Shelby went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959 and design Shelby Cobra and Shelby Ford Mustangs).
Crowds of fans were nine-people deep along some parts of the Del Monte Forest track, and the only barriers between fans and the track were a few bales of hay. There was always an undercurrent of adrenaline and danger, fans said.
|Crowds and the track as a Triumph TR2 misses a corner as shown in the film presentation of "Racing Through the Forest" at Spanish Bay. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)|
Pebble Beach's race track ended in tragedy, when driver Ernie McAfee crashed a Ferrari into a tree and died instantly. A race in Pebble Beach never happened again.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was built on Fort Ord in 1957 and became the modern day successor.
The goal behind making "Racing Through The Forest" was to unearth what these pioneering, fearless young drivers did in the 1950s and gather film footage that would otherwise be lost over time. The film was written and directed by filmmaker Dean Kirkland and produced by renowned race car driver Rick Knoop.
|Invited guests watch the screening of "Racing Through the Forest" at Spanish Bay. Here, Bill Pollack imparts some memories in the movie as Bill Pollack (end of front row) watches. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)|
This seminal set of races also placed in motion the process of finding lighter, faster, more powerful, nimble cars from around the world and helped to fashion a racing resource template used today that has its motor culture roots firmly based in the forest around Pebble Beach.
"What began as a tribute to my father, Fred Knoop, has evolved into a celebration of one of the world’s greatest road races," Rick Knoop said at the Spanish Bay movie premiere. "We’re thrilled to share this incredible story with audiences at the Pebble Beach Concours. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to explore this incredible history, especially just feet from the road where the men and machines did battle."
Rick Knoop and Dean Kirkland delivered on the promise these photographs stored in an album and held in a box to be brought back to life with heart in a way an image could never do ... through film.
A must see film where the heart of the making of the presentation comes through in every frame and leaves an indelible and permanent impression.
... notes from The EDJE
Friday, August 8, 2014
|Helio Castroneves explains to fellow Brazilian and 3rd year L.A. Galaxy midfield player #8 Marcelo Sarvas where a driver needs to look in order to key the Dallara DW12 to a corner ... the tires are the frame. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)|
Helio Castroneves visits SoCal to promote MAVTV 500
With only three races left in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Auto Club Speedway teamed up with their sponsored driver Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves. The last race of the season is a double-points paying event that is scheduled to run for 500 miles at Auto Club Speedway in just 21 days on Saturday, August 30.
The event is called MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships and rightfully so. Helio, who currently is in a strong position to get his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship, sits only four points behind points leader and team-mate Will Power who is also looking for his first title.
It turns out that with only three races left in the 2014 season - Milwaukee, Sonoma, and Auto Club Speedway - roughly 11 drivers are within mathematical striking distance of capturing the Verizon IndyCar Series World Championship Trophy, the Astor Cup. Helio felt that a driver would need a 75 point lead to feel safe ... that would be 75 points ahead after the next two races of the 1 mile bullring at Milwaukee and the 2.52-mile road course at Sears Point near Sonoma.
At StubHub Center, formally Home Depot Center, in Carson California, a group of Brazilian athletes came together to draw media support to have folks become aware of the L.A. Galaxy soccer season and the end of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Three-time INDY 500 winner, Helio Castroneves was joined by L.A. Galaxy players Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho along with Auto Club Speedway President, Gillian Zucker.
The next two home games for the L.A. Galaxy feature the first Friday Night Fireworks & Lights Show, presented by Best Foods tonight with L.A. Galaxy meeting the San Jose Earthquakes - 8/8 7:30PM PDT and Back to School Night where the first 15K fans will receive a tin lunch box courtesy of The Flame Broiler with L.A. Galaxy meeting the Vancouver Whitecaps FC - 8/23 7:30PM PDT.
|The joy of GOOOOOOOOOAL was expressed by Helio Casterneves (flying off of the pitch) as he placed the ball through the upper right corner of a protected practice net. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)|
Helio Castroneves started his day showing his interest in Little League Baseball at the opening of a contest in San Bernardino. He met with the teams gathered and threw out the first pitch prior to the Southern California/Nevada Little League Western Regionals at Al Houghton Stadium in San Bernardino.
|Here, Helio Castroneves follows tradition as he removes his cap in observance to the pre-game playing of the National Anthem. Image Credit: Albert Wong (2014)|
This excerpted and edited from Press Enterprize -
Instead of entering Al Houghton Stadium in a single file line, Bonham said players will walk in more as a group and closer to the stands. Instead of the usual picnic the night before the opening ceremonies, this year’s regional teams have a planned night out Thursday at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino for a professional minor league game involving the Inland Empire 66ers of the California League.
“This is showtime for these kids,” Bonham said.
In the West Region, teams come from California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and Utah to compete. In the Northwest, teams hail from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Most arrived Wednesday and will stay at the on-site dormitories during the duration of the two tournaments, which wrap up with championship games Aug. 9. The Little League World Series begins Aug. 14 in Williamsport.
|Image Credit: Albert Wong (2014)|
|Encinitas Little League catcher gives Helio some tips on throwing out the first pitch. Image Credit: Albert Wong (2014)|
After his So Cal MAVTV 500 Auto Club Speedway promotional swing, Helio participated in a test at Sonoma Raceway.
This excerpted and edited from San Jose Mercury News -
Eleven IndyCar drivers completed a one-day test session at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday.
Participants included Team Penske's Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Juan Pablo Montoya, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan and this year's Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport. Power won last year's Sonoma race.
It marked the final test scheduled for the 12-turn, 2.38-mile course before race weekend. The Grand Prix of Sonoma is Aug. 24.
"Driving a Verizon IndyCar here is a rush. There's really no comparison to driving a stock car here," said Montoya, who won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma in 2007.
Then after the Grand Prix of Sonoma, the season comes to an end ... in August ... at Auto Club Speedway ... Saturday, August 30.
Come one and come all to see just who will celebrate winning the new 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Astor Cup.
... notes from The EDJE
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Oval gauntlet necessary/mandatory in Verizon IndyCar Series
To many fans of American open-wheel racing, the entertaining draw of a street course event weekend is the venue that had been created converting an everyday urban environment into a racetrack, followed by a weekend festival of cultural events (motor and otherwise), and consistency on the timing on an annual basis that adds to the cultural experience. Everyone enjoys something to look forward to on a "same time next year" basis.
In Los Angeles, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has been a success for 40 years and it has done so observing and deepening the above formula elements regardless of which sanctioned racing series was to headline the actual Grand Prix competition test that was to take place on Sunday afternoon.
What American open-wheel racing has yet to perfect is to answer the event draw question, how does one replicate the success of a Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach event weekend at an established oval racing venue and assure fan interest while being able to fill the stands that are a permanent part of the established track experience?
If the question could be answered through the nature of the racing competition itself, the races held at Texas Motor Speedway, Pocono, and last weekend's small and tight oval race in Newton, Iowa ... the problem would be already solved. The competition could not be any more unpredictable or professional. The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series is even attracting drivers/rookies that have beat some of the best drivers in European professional racing of F1 and DTM on the way to perfecting their craft.
This still does not explain, then, why the attendance for these type of racing venues (outside of the Indy 500) is down from their pinnacle of standing-room only to a mere fraction - ranging from 30% to 60% fall off.
American open-wheel racing needs to be able to showcase all forms of racing from all of the venues it has performed through the decades because, besides racing that includes Yellow Flag caution periods and planned pitstops, it is the breadth of racing venue experience (road/temporary street courses, super-speedway oval/tri-oval, banked oval, small bullring oval) that separates the American experience from all other series of open-wheel racing.
|Iowa Speedway during the Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn Indy 300. Image Credit: Iowa Corn|
This excerpted and edited from Racer -
Why IndyCar must make ovals work
By Robin Miller - Racer - Sunday, 13 July 2014
The dichotomy was front and center Saturday night at Iowa Speedway: great racing with another disappointing fan turnout.
That's the sad but true tale of oval tracks in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Once the pillar of the most popular form of motorsports in this country when USAC and CART were on top, ovals have become an endangered species. Other than Indianapolis, it's tough to draw anything resembling a crowd.
Texas Motor Speedway, once a stronghold that put 75,000-80,000 people in the stands to watch the Indy Racing League's version of Russian Roulette, has been sliding recently and withered down to 25,000 (at best) last month. After an encouraging return of an estimated 25,000 in 2013 following a 24-year absence, Pocono slumped to maybe 15,000 a couple weeks ago. Iowa, which packed the grandstands the first few races for IndyCar, looked about half full last Saturday evening. Fontana, a big ticket back in the late '90s when CART was cooking, went away after embarrassing crowd numbers for its IRL races and has struggled since returning to the schedule three years ago. Ticket sales are supposedly down for next month's finale.
And the conundrum for Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles and IndyCar is that it needs ovals to retain its heritage, maintain its status as the most diverse series in the world and remind people why many of them fell for Indy car racing.
Michael Andretti, who stepped in to rescue The Milwaukee Mile, echoes The Captain's thoughts. "We can't ever stop running ovals," said the former CART champion who was a badass on the short ones as well as superspeedways. "It's what sets us apart from everybody else."
So what's happened to the culture that thrilled us with A.J., Parnelli, Mario, Ruby, Rutherford, Johncock, Mears and the Unsers? Why doesn't anybody care to attend anymore? What needs to change?
First and foremost, the oval-track model for IndyCar isn't working and hasn't for quite some time. Two-day shows are a waste of time and money for teams and promoters alike.
Other than Indy, every oval needs to be one day – practice, qualify and race just like the old days and besides saving money, it ramps up the intensity and maybe draws more interest. Pocono's Brandon Igdalsky, for instance, said he had no problem with that concept.
Secondly, ovals have got to change their approach. Texas, Pocono and Iowa had nothing on track except the Honda 2-seater and pace car rides prior to their IndyCar races. They've got to start giving the paying customers a lot more for their money – a la street races and road courses. There is always something going on at Long Beach, Detroit, Barber, Mid-Ohio, St. Pete and Toronto, be it Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000, drifting, TUDOR sports cars, Pirelli World Challenge or Robby Gordon's truck series.
You can't start a race at 3 p.m. and give the fans NOTHING beforehand. That's ignorant and arrogant.
Scheduling also needs a makeover and some common sense. You can't run Fontana on Labor Day when it's 100 degrees at 6 p.m., Pocono wants off July 4th if it sticks around and Milwaukee needs to be re-instated to the week after the Indianapolis 500.
But there is one oval interested in giving IndyCar another shot. Curtis Francois, who owns Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., wants to talk to Miles about a date and maybe a potential partnership. And that may be the key and answer to keeping ovals on the schedule. Instead of charging a sanction fee that scares potential tracks away or puts them instantly in the red, IndyCar might need to be partners with the five ovals still in play. Share expenses and promotion and tap into Verizon's wealth of available assets to control your destiny and take the message to the people.
A good example: there wasn't ONE LINE about the IndyCar race in last Thursday's Des Moines Register – 48 hours before the green flag (and that paper does a nice job of covering the race). Last April, nothing in Thursday's editions of the Los Angeles Times about the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and only one TV station mentioned the race on Saturday night...with polesitter Ryan Hunter REEAHAY. Fans from Philadelphia swore there was nothing about the Pocono 500 in their market.
Of course the tracks have to help shoulder the load but if IndyCar was 50-50 partners in selling tickets, marketing and promoting the event it could make a difference – especially with Verizon on board. IndyCar needs to go Barnum & Bailey and pull out all the stops to try and save the ovals.
Watching the non-stop wheel-to-wheel action at Iowa and listening to the excitement in Paul Tracy's voice in the NBCSN booth reinforced how vibrant a short track IndyCar race can be and how vital that little oval in the Corn Belt is to this series.
"Before I passed all those cars at the end, it had been a helluva night of racing people all over the track," said 2014 Indy 500 winner RHR following his 10th-to-first miracle Saturday night. "It's fast, it's close and it's what IndyCar racing is all about. We can't ever lose places like this."
Improve the formula which services established oval track venues by offering MORE in a shorter period of time for each event capitalizes on what is common to most motor culture events (racing, or otherwise) ... overload.
Just as with Autoweek in mid-August held at the mouth of the Salinas Valley in California ... Concours de Elegance, Pebble Beach and the Rolex Motorsports Reunion, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ... expand the points of interest of fan draw at the venue to where no one person could take in all of the event. No excuse to NOT attend should be the available prescription to the motor culture fan.
... notes from The EDJE