Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chuckwalla Valley Raceway Opens To The Press, BBQ, & Stellar Rides

Maserati MC12 Stradale driven by Douglas Magnon, President of the Riverside International Automotive Museum, with The EDJE riding in the shotgun position. This image was captured while Doug was negotiating the most challenging series of corners (description below) of Track No. 1 ... the off camber turn #9 [ctrl-click to launch video impressions taken around the track]. Image Credit: Steve Munch (2010)

Chuckwalla Valley Raceway Opens To The Press, BBQ, & Stellar Rides

A new road course race track operation is opening just off an airstrip down California's Interstate 10 between Coachella Valley (Palm Springs) and Blythe. Desert Center had been famous for mining, a fuel and food stop on the way to either LA or Phoenix, and Palm Trees planted in a circle (gone fallow) to attract attention to passing motorists. Get off and head North toward Highway 62 at the intersection of Interstate 10 and 177 and after four miles turn right at the sign heralding the "Chuckwalla Valley Raceway - Bringing the Future to you!"

On April 23rd, members of the automotive press from all over the Southwest were invited to preview this new private racing facility and learn first hand what might be involved in starting up a new racing operation when some tracks might be shutting their doors in economic hard times. First impressions and the attentions to detail leave one with the feeling that this effort will be a resounding success.

Chuckwalla Valley Raceway - Phase 1: Front straight at bottom of graphic. While acting as an observer, speeds were getting pretty close to 110 mph at the end (a racing club BMW driven by Matthew Kogan). Most straights are moderate in length. The most challenging section are in turns 8, 9, and 10 where one encounters and off camber slope to the right as one has to make a hard left to a blind apex ... then the turn drops in elevation into turn 10 on to a slightly uphill straight. It is a corner that once one learns how to enter it, one can muscle and control the corner as opposed to having the corner dictate terms to the driver (ctrl-click image to enlarge). Scanned Image From Media Guide: CVR (2010)

Chuckwalla Valley Raceway (CVR) is planned to be Southern California's premier automobile and motorcycle racing, training, and testing road course race track facility. CVR occupies 1,100 acres that is completely fenced and secured. The facility currently has one road course track operational that is 2.68 miles long (a little longer than the old Riverside International Raceway) and features seventeen (17) turns, is 40 feet wide, multiple elevation changes, a couple of double apex turns, a long banked turn, and a tricky three turn off-cambered section that mimics (to a lesser degree) the famed corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The track was designed by internationally known motorcycle racing school operator, designer, and author ("Features of Race Track Design") Ed Bargy.

Jason Pridmore's Star Motorcycle School transport showed up to introduce their program which will make appearances here, Streets of Willow, Thunderhill, High Plains Raceway, and Oregon Raceway Park. For this year, the Star Motorcycle schedule will be at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway more than at any other venue ... one might say CVR is it's home track! Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

This connection to racing motorcycles is no accident, the President of CVR, Micky Grana, has been working to build and run a first class racing facility for about 15 years and this dream and drive came from his love of having talented drivers pilot sophisticated two-wheeled vehicles in very fast competition on curvy roads ... safely. It is a passion that comes through every aspect of CVR including the black and yellow roll curb that is at every turn on the track, one that can be run in either the traditional clockwise as well as counterclockwise operation safely because of the design and execution of the track build.

Chuckwalla Valley Raceway Upon Completion (ctrl-click image to enlarge) - Scanned Image From Media Guide: CVR (2010)

Over the next 18 to 24 months, Chuckwalla Valley Raceway plans to develop into a complex that will have two more operational tracks. Track No. 2 can be combined with Track No. 1 to form a long track of 4.3 miles, making it one of the largest single road course racing and testing track available outside of Road America (14 turns at 4.048 miles) at Elkheart Lake Wisconsin ... pretty ambitious. Track No. 3 is in a preliminary design specification to be a stand-alone road course that is 2.2 miles long.

Ralt RT5 Super Vee once campaigned by Roger Penske in the early 1980's. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

Since one of the corporate officers is a pilot, CFO Matt Johnson has done some investigation into the prospect of holding airship races around the complex ... after all, there is an airport (Desert Center Airport [L64]) right next door that has a 50 foot wide runway that is 4,200 feet long. According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the rental of the small space to put up the large air filled pylons for the airships to guide on for the racing course is minimal. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship event was discussed, along side the main pit-wall that separated the front straight from the paddock, by one of the owner/drivers of a vintage open-wheel formula car (A Ralt RT5 Super Vee once campaigned by Roger Penske) and Matt Johnson. It turns out that this owner/driver was a competitor in the Red Bull "challenge" and felt that CVR would make a perfect venue, in that, it would be one of the few courses that would be run on dry land - most are run on courses set up in large ocean harbors (Perth, AU / San Diego, CA, USA).

Maserati MC12 Stradale parked on the paddock at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

The business end of a Maserati MC12 Stradale pictured here with Doug Magnon getting ready to take the course at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway [ctrl-click to launch video impressions taken around the track]. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

One of the cars that was attracted to the event, and garnered the most attention, was an extremely rare Maserati MC12 Stradale of which only 50 street legal models were produced and of those ... only two have ever made it to North America. The very proud and capable owner of this beautiful and rare piece of automotive performance art, Douglas Magnon, just happens to be the President of the Riverside International Automotive Museum (RIAM) which houses one of the largest collections of Maserati automobiles anywhere. As the RIAM site puts it - "RIAM's MC12 is the centerpiece of its 28 example Maserati Collection, one of the most complete assemblages of production Maseratis in North America ... Supercars, racing cars, and a couple of Maseratis!"

Lunch offered some of the best BBQ sandwiches, served up from several lengthwise-cut 55 gallon drum BBQ pits, to be had this side of Kansas City. Big T's BBQ (an operation run by Tony), the on-site caterer, chief, and evening security guard contractee, had chicken and pulled pork open-faced sandwiches with a side of beans and potato salad ready by noon and all of the participants gathered in the paddock tent area. The talk about the nuances of driving (or riding) Track No. 1 filled the air as the moist and tender BBQ was raved about between bites.

SolFocus solar cell collector array. A solar energy collector farm will be installed upon which CVR will get its power. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

It turns out that CVR will contribute to the electric power grid here in Riverside County. Those in the paddock tent area were treated to a short presentation by SolFocus about how the CVR facility was to be powered . A farm of high-tech solar panels are to be put in place that will generate enough power to where CVR's needs will amount to only a fraction of what will be produced allowing CVR to sell the rest to the County of Riverside to distribute as the County sees fit.

Chuckwalla Valley Raceway will be run as a membership operation where memberships in the race track will be similar to a membership in a golf course. Memberships are designed to give members additional privileges and unlimited access to the facilities. Better race track amenities equate to more exclusive membership. Monthly membership rates will vary depending on amenities and CVR memberships are available for individuals, families, or corporations.

Maserati MC12 Stradale running down the straight between turns #3 and #4 before the nice double apex of #'s 4 & 5 at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. What a beautiful racing venue. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

As this author first wrote to his Facebook page wall after arriving back in the Coachella Valley/Palm Springs area for the balance of this excellent desert springtime weekend - "Just came back from spending an incredible day at the debut of a race track located near Desert Center on out the 10 ... halfway between Indio and Blythe. What a perfect track, day, cars, and group of attendees!

The track is called the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway and most motorsports enthusiasts will hear about this 2.68 mile dedicated road course (with a mini corkscrew feature and a long banked turn) before the year is out. Motorcycle clubs are already all over this place but it is a grand automobile venue as well."

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, Douglas Magnon, Ed Bargy, Maserati MC12 Stradale, Micky Grana, Red Bull Air Race World Championship, RIAM, Riverside International Automotive Museum, The EDJE

Monday, April 19, 2010

Toyota GP of Long Beach: Owner Andretti Predicted Hunter-Reay Win

Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport becomes the first American born driver to win a race in this 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2010)

Toyota GP of Long Beach: Owner Andretti Predicted Hunter-Reay Win

With the confidence that comes from being a multiple time race winner here at motorsports premiere temporary street course race at Long Beach, Michael Andretti predicted that his recently signed driver (a test for a few races to begin), Ryan Hunter-Reay, would win the race.

What makes this prediction almost astounding is that none of the cars had set a tire anywhere on Shoreline Drive and he made this prediction at a post induction ceremony interview on Thursday, April 15, 2010, where he, along with Danny Sullivan, was honored with an achievement medallion in the sidewalk along the Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame located in front, and the West side, of the Long beach Convention Center along Pine Avenue.

As for the race itself, Will Power was able to hold on for third place on the podium and increase his early season points lead. On the 17th/18th lap, his car experienced a transmission performance interruption (stuck in gear after turn 11 along the front straight) allowing the P2 and P3 qualifiers of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Justin Wilson respectively to get by along the 190 mph Shoreline Drive. For Ryan's part, he showed why he is one of the most respected drivers in the series when he exhibited extreme patience having to follow the Boy Scouts of America sponsored car of Alex Lloyd (Dale Coyne Racing) all the while Justin Wilson and Will Power whittled away at the margin of time between these chasing cars Hunter-Reay had built up during a rather flawless Green Flag first half of the race. After about five laps, in a "Be Prepared" moment, Ryan muscled past Lloyd, and when Wilson tried to do likewise, the standout Dreyer & Reinbold driver wasn't prepared for Lloyd who turned across the front of Wilson's car and wiped off half its front wing.

Wilson had to come in for a pitstop and a wing change and, of course, this placed him behind the early season IndyCar Series point leader from Penske, Will Power.

On Green Flag restart from a late full course caution track condition - caused when Conquest Racing's Mario Romancini pushed Graham Rahal (Sara Fisher Racing) into the tires on turn 1 - Justin Wilson got the jump on Will Power to reclaim second with a brilliant dive at Turn 1, and while he could not catch Hunter-Reay, the brilliant former CCWS driver from England had no trouble resisting the the fellow former CCWS driver's retaliation attempts, as a Team Penske driver (any Team Penske driver) was thwarted from winning a race for the first time in 2010.

Add the fact that in the post race interview in front of the gathered press, Ryan Hunter-Reay cited his previous Formula Atlantic (2002) and CCWS experience with his positive feelings for the track (which he considers his "home" track) at Long Beach ... one could say Champ Car has never left ... in this, the sophomore year for IndyCar at the famed streets in Long Beach ... for at the end of the race it was P1, P2 , and P3 on the podium for former ChampCar World series experienced drivers!

With the prediction becoming a matter of fact, we, at The EDJE, now wonder if we can tag along with the Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame inductee (he joins his father with this exclusive honor), and IZOD IndyCar team owner, Michael Andretti, to a night at touring the tables in Las Vegas.

How They Fared (** denotes past Driver|Team CCWS ladder affiliation):

Pos Driver Team Gap

1.  Ryan Hunter-Reay**   Andretti                85 laps
2. Justin Wilson** Dreyer & Reinbold + 5.6031s
3. Will Power** Penske + 8.5864s
4. Scott Dixon Ganassi + 10.6287s
5. Tony Kanaan Andretti + 11.7732s
6. Mario Moraes** KV** + 16.5171s
7. Helio Castroneves Penske + 16.8928s
8. Ryan Briscoe Penske + 18.2214s
9. Dan Wheldon Panther + 19.4575s
10. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold + 19.9307s
11. Vitor Meira Foyt + 27.4005s
12. Dario Franchitti Ganassi + 28.1352s
13. Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas/Lanigan** + 28.6037s
14. Marco Andretti Andretti + 30.0120s
15. EJ Viso** KV** + 31.6182s
16. Danica Patrick Andretti + 32.1804s
17. Simona de Silvestro**HVM** + 33.1652s
18. Takuma Sato KV** + 1 lap
19. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne** + 1 lap
20. Raphael Matos** Luczo Dragon/de Ferran + 1 lap


Alex Tagliani** Fazzt 65 laps
Graham Rahal** Sarah Fisher 58 laps
Mario Romancini Conquest** 58 laps
Bertrand Baguette Conquest** 45 laps
Milka Duno Dale Coyne** 10 laps

Final note - A tweet observed on twitter from someone attending the race went something like this:

Danica must have a THING for me / she has driven by, like, a 100 times already, geeeez!

... notes From The EDJE

Friday, April 16, 2010

Surprise Swift Tour Yields A Look At "Concept 66" Platform

Swift Engineering's 2012 IZOD IndyCar design concept 66 CAD image with California Speedway background. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

Surprise Swift Tour Yields A Look At "Concept 66" Platform

If the folks at the IZOD IndyCar Series are thinking with a level head, given what we, at The EDJE, were exposed to at a surprise tour of the Swift Engineering facility in San Clemente, they will soon be singing "We get our kicks settling on Concept 66" as their way of the future of open-wheel racing.

Swift Engineering's 2012 IZOD IndyCar design concept 66 artist rendering. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

We were invited by the Publisher of The Motorsports Report, Dicken Wear, as an impromptu field trip after checking in at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Credentials area to pick up our Photo Vests for this weekends event. What a bonus since the major motorsports events of the day would be background shots taken while the IRL, ALMS, World Cup Challenge, and Firestone IndyPro Series cars practiced so the teams could dial in for the races ahead.

Swift Engineering's 2012 IZOD IndyCar design concept 66 CAD image without background. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

A group of about 20 people (writers, drivers, engineers, and photographers) gathered and were treated to a tour of the facilities at Swift that included a look and demonstration of their on-premises 140 mph wind tunnel, driving simulator, and composite fabrication areas. We were led on the tour by Program Director, Casper Van Der Schoot originally from Holland by way of Hogan Racing.

Casper enlightened the eager crowd with the concept of designing to reduce the effects of the vortex "dirty air" so that the platforms could race nose to tail with greater safety and, of course, greater competitiveness. The design concept of how to do this came in the development of a rear wing and forward rear wheel pod shapes that turn the Concept 66 into a "Mushroom Buster"!

One can not totally eliminate the shroom effect, but by shrinking the width of the shroom plume, and raising the "cap" of the shroom so that it is moved away from the following platform ... the mushroom is effectively busted.

... notes from The EDJE

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2010 Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame: Andretti & Sullivan

Michael Andretti (talking with last year's LBMWOF inductee) and Danny Sullivan become the latest inductee's to the Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame. They join other inductee's of renown like Michael's father, Mario ... who was pushed aside by inductee Al Unser Jr. to win a Long Beach race in the 1989 LBGP (who was later pushed aside by teammate Danny Sullivan for his win in the 1992 LBGP), Bobby Rahal, Paul Newman & Carl Haas, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Brian Redman, Chris Pook, Parnelli Jones, and Long Beach's own Bonneville world land speed record holder Gary Gabelich. Combo Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

2010 Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame: Andretti & Sullivan

Hummmmm, Andretti & Sullivan ... Andretti & Sullivan ... Andretti & Sullivan - sounds a little like a big Broadway show production but actually these are just the last names of the most recent inductee's to the Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame.

The City of Long Beach and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach honored racing legends Danny Sullivan and Michael Andretti at the fifth annual Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame induction ceremony. Both men have won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach during their illustrious careers. The ceremony took place on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 11:00 am on Pine Avenue in front of the Long Beach Convention Center.

4th Annual Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame inductees Bobby Rahal and Al Unser, Jr. share a word while standing in front of Parnelli Jones just before the medallion unveiling ceremony. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

In only its 5th year, the LBMWOF Thursday late-morning ceremony has quickly become the traditional kickoff event to signal the beginning of the annual (36 years) Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach week.

The late-morning sun was bright and the large crowd ... sunny.

“Both of these driving legends certainly left their mark here at Long Beach and we are delighted to welcome them into the pantheon of existing honorees,” said Jim Michaelian, President/CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.

Danny Sullivan raced 11 times at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, winning in 1992 when he set a record with an average speed of 91.945 mph. In 1985, he made world-wide headlines for his incredible “spin and win” victory at the Indianapolis 500, where he spun around 360 degrees going 200 mph and went on to win one of the most memorable victories at the Brickyard. In addition, he was the 1988 CART World Series Champion and the Can-Am Rookie of the Year in 1980. Throughout his career he took a total of 17 checkered flags. He continues to contribute to the sport by helping to develop the next generation of Formula 1 drivers.

Michael Andretti has carved out a very impressive career as both a driver and owner. Andretti’s first checkered flag was the 1986 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and his final victory as a driver was also in the Toyota Grand Prix, in 2002. Along the way he became the winningest driver in CART history, with 42 victories, including the season championship in 1991. He received the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award in 1984. After leaving the cockpit in 2003, Andretti went on to become the winningest owner in Indy Racing League history, with Indy 500 victories in 2005 and 2007, 34 IndyCar Series wins as well as consecutive IndyCar Series championships in 2004 and 2005.

The Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame medallions include renditions of the racers' cars and their major achievements in motorsports. 2008 inductee Mario Andretti's medallion above. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (The EDJE) 2008

"I'm delighted that we are adding two more legendary drivers to the Motorsports Walk of Fame – Danny Sullivan and Michael Andretti," said Mayor Bob Foster, who will be presenting the medallions to the honorees. "Every year the Walk of Fame kicks off a great week of Grand Prix events that brings thousands to Long Beach."

... notes from The EDJE

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Driven To Race Screening At Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach

Driven To Race - A feature length, documentary film, Driven To Race follows ambitious, young male and female drivers (and engineers - pictured, Kate Gundlach - now fulltime with the Star Mazda racing series) Peter Dempsey who struggles to find enough funding to stay in the race - even as he’s winning races; 17 yearold American John Edwards, the youngest person ever to win an open wheel race in North America (at 12 years old!); JC and Kristy Kester - the only brother sister team in professional racing; and 28 year-old Charles Hall who was on the verge of a promising career in Europe before a major auto accident kept him out of racing for nearly 2 years. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

Driven To Race Screening At Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach

Cargo Productions, in concert with MAZDASPEED Motorsports, have created a documentary style film depicting the process, competition and commitment of drivers, teams, sponsors, and culture displayed through the course of a 12 race season in an open-wheel automobile racing series.

Driven To Race - Screening at the The Art Theatre of Long Beach - Thursday, April 15th - Two showings - 2:00 PM and 9:00 PM - Admission: $7 with flyer (below) - Get in FREE with your IRL, ALMS & SCCA Hard Card, MPG and AARWBA members also FREE!

For the record - Cargo Productions produced the film independently and had complete creative control. Mazda USA and MAZDASPEED Motorsport was pleased Cargo Productions chose one of the many racing series Mazda has a commitment to for automobile technology and driver development, but did not fund or influence the film. It is largely due to this distinction, Driven To Race stands on its own as one of the best documentaries about a competitive pursuit, any competitive pursuit, ever made.

The "Premiere" screening was held for a select group of invitees to the 2010 MAZDASPEED Motorsports pre-season media gathering held at the The District @ Tustin Legacy about a month ago to rave reviews. The evening was introduced by Mazda Sr. VP Robert Davis who gave an update as to what was new and expectations for the 2010 racing season and the famed MAZDASPEED Motorsports ladder series development and participation.

Joel Miller gets the green light to run on the streets at Long Beach. The Firestone Indy Lights schedule for the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach weekend shows practice sessions on Friday, April 16 at 12:15 p.m. and Saturday, April 17 at 8 a.m. followed by qualifying at 12:55 p.m. Saturday afternoon. There is a warm-up session at 8 a.m. Sunday, April 18 before the 45-lap race gets underway at 10:40 a.m. It precedes the IZOD IndyCar race that will get the green flag at 1:15 p.m. All times shown are Pacific Time Zone. Image Credit: Andersen Racing

One of the key players in the Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear 12 race season featured in "Driven To Race", was upcoming driver from Hesperia, Joel Miller. Joel will be driving at Long Beach in the next rung up the ladder for open-wheel motorsports, the Firestone Indy Lights Series ... this is first season on this platform toward his ultimate goal of getting a fulltime ride in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Driven To Race attendance authorization - one must CTRL-CLICK and then print this flyer to bring to one of the two offered screenings at The Art Theatre of Long Beach - Thursday, April 15th - 2:00 PM or 9:00 PM - and Admission: $7.00 ... with flyer! NOTE: Flyer does not guarantee admission if all seats are taken. See you there. Image Credit: MAZDASPEED Motorsports

Some of the most notable reactions to Driven To Race are as follows:

This excerpted and edited from Automotive .com -

Movie Review: Driven to Race by Mazdaspeed Motorsports, Cargo Productions

Posted March 15 2010 04:18 PM by Joel Arellano

The film showcases what happens to each team as they compete through the requisite twelve races. Director Brian Spillane breaks the two hour film into bite-size chunks, each focusing on a particular driver or aspect of racing. Hall, for example, had been involved in a horrendous non-racing auto accident that shortened his legs. Driver John Edwards, on the other hand, enters the series one race short.
In my opinion? Cargo Production did a bang up job in providing an insider’s look into the little documented world of “grassroots” racing. I found the film entertaining, highly educational as well as absorbing. Both serious racers as well as the general public will enjoy the film.
Reference Here>>

This excerpted and edited from The Motorsports Report -

“Driven To Race”

... or The best Documentary that every wannabe Race Driver should see
By Dicken Wear - The Motorsports Report - Thursday, March 11, 2010

“Driven To Race”, is by far one of the best documentaries ever made about open wheel racing, and where the world finds these new up and coming drivers.
Many movies, some with major stars and multi-million dollars budgets, have failed to covey to the viewer what this great independent film has accomplished, on a budget that most productions would have spent on “Craft Services” (snacks) .
The people at Cargo Productions hit the nail on the head. You only hope it will be this good, but above all else, this is the real story of what it takes. Luck, Money, Talent, Desire and Dedication.
Reference Here>>

For our money here at The EDJE, we could not have become more informed or entertained about all of the surrounding aspects of what it takes to be a part of the disciplined pursuit of motorsports competition.

Driven To Race is a must see (and when it is available on DVD or Blu-Ray), must have film to view and share over, and over as it is the best effort of its type to ever be produced ... a hallmark of honesty, information and entertainment!

Screening at the The Art Theatre of Long Beach - Thursday, April 15th - Two showings - 2:00 PM and 9:00 PM - Admission: $7 with flyer (above) - Get in FREE with your IRL, ALMS & SCCA Hard Card, MPG and AARWBA members also FREE!

... notes from The EDJE