NASIR CONTINUES TO TAUNT THE HOST WITH ALONSOISMS AS HE PREPARES TO ATTEND THE DAYTONA 24 HOURS HAVING SECURED A FEW MOMENTS WITH JUAN PABLO MONTOYA!
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 21, 2020) – The 58th running of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA sports car endurance classic is five days away. The rhetorical clock is ticking, leading up to Saturday afternoon when the real clock comes into play.
The Rolex 24, the season-opening race for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, starts at 1:40 p.m. Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Competitors will then face one of motorsports’ most challenging events, a twice-around-the-clock excursion on the 3.56-mile DIS road course. Four WeatherTech Championship classes – Daytona Prototype international (DPi), Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) – will vie simultaneously for the overall and the separate class titles.
Beneath that overview of one of motorsports premier races lies a plethora of storylines supporting the undeniable resurgence of the Rolex 24 in recent years. That resurgence has coincided with a reimagined IMSA, which has made the 2014 merger of GRAND-AM Road Racing and the American Le Mans Series a sparkling triumph, to the benefit of North American sports car racing fans.
Each season, it all starts amid the consummate backdrop: the “World Center of Racing” in the city where IMSA was founded in 1969.
Every year at the Rolex 24, the buzz inevitably begins with the entry list. This race is renowned for attracting an all-star field featuring drivers from other racing disciplines such as NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula 1. This year fits the mold as two-time and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch heads the must-see list, co-driving the No. 14 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Lexus in the production-based GTD class, making his Rolex 24 debut.
CLARK AND NASIR SHARE F1 MEMORIES, WE PREPARE FOR DAYTONA 24 HOURS, ANOTHER GREAT MOTORSPORTS MONDIAL FEATURING THE 1973 F1 SEASON AND HERE IS THE 2020 RENAULT F1 DRIVER ESTEBAN OCON INTERVIEW…
F1Weekly’s exclusive interview with Esteban Ocon at the 2019 Abu Dhabi GP.
“Future is so bright I need some shades.” Things are going great for the young Frenchman. With a little help from Toto and Renault he is back on the track in 2020.
Q. First of all, welcome back to the world of Formula 1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you or do we need a bigger scale?
A. “Bigger scale, I think. Thank you for the welcome back but I never really left this F1 world. I was always here as soon as there was an engine firing up. I was here waiting and ready to jump.”
Q. In your brief Formula 1 career so far you were already king of consistency. Moving forward what is the game plan, maximum attack on Daniel Ricciardo or keep calm and carry-on to score many points?
A. “Well, it will be to score as many points as possible. You know that is important in the championship. There are sometimes when you need to take a bit of risk. But you need to think about what you are going to win and what you’re going to lose from that. So, there is always a thought going behind risk-taking.”
Q. Sounds like you are learning from Sebastian and Leclerc?
A. “Why? No, I always thought myself about this, no, no, no. I’ve been driving since a lot of times so I take the experience in obviously.”
Q. We all know Formula 1 is serious dog eat dog world, in terms of driving style are there many similarities between you and Danny, and do you expect any help from him in terms of set up and data sharing?
A. “I don’t know his driving style yet. But for sure I think we will work together with all the engineers, data sharing and all those things will be, of course, normal things. And I hope we can make the team move forward from that.”
Q. Renault won the very first Grand Prix in this world. Are you extra happy to be with a French team?
A. “Yes, yes, more than happy. It’s the team where I grew up with in Enstone since 2010, I was part of the program till 2014 so I really grew up in the factory there and it felt like a story which should not have ended, so I am pretty happy to continue it now.”
Sparks fly when young guns clash. The famous Sao Paulo Samba between Esteban and “force of nature” Max during the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Q. You and Max were in the news after the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix. Will there be exchange of Christmas cards in December so we, the race fans, know that everything is cool between the two of you?
A. “We actually had a cool race with the road car on the Pirelli hot laps yesterday. We had two laps of racing, we had good fun and then we had a good laugh when we came out of the car. So, no problem between us.”
Q. Success has been part and parcel of your racing life. From Karting to F3 and GP3, was there a particular season or series where you felt you improved the most?
A. “I think every year has been useful for me to develop myself, of course, some years have been more difficult than others. All in all, I think the more categories you do, the more things you see the more useful it is before coming to F1 because it’s more experience. I don’t think one year is less useful than another, I think they all have been useful.”
Q. Among all the drivers you have raced against from Karting to Formula 1, who stand out as real tough competitors?
A. “I think Max and Charles really. They were the ones where we raced the whole time together. Of course, quick competitors but tough ones also on the track. I think we pushed ourselves forward all our career, basically that helps bring the level up when we arrive into Formula 1. It’s been quite a few years with them.”
Q. From your Karting days what events stand out?
A. “I have been three times French champion. I finished second in the World Series Karting which is like the world championship and those are my main wins.”
Q. When you moved from Karting to single seaters how challenging was the adjustment or did it come naturally to you?
A. “No, it took some time. it took a year to really get very, very comfortable. Of course, I was against a very quick teammate, who was Daniil Kvyat who had three years of racing in single seaters (experience). As soon as I was in my second year I was fighting for the title. From there on it was good.”
Q. Before you got picked up by Gravity management who was guiding your career?
A. “My parents. Then it’s always been Eric Boullier and Gwen, who still works for Mercedes now, still manage the junior program. So, we’ve come a long way since that time.”
Q. In 2020, you remain under Mercedes management. How did this deal happen? Did Toto call you or did you send him a case of French wine?
A. “No, it’s a bit more complicated than that. In 2014, I won the Formula 3 championship and the program got lost a bit, and they ran out of money so I had no program for 2015.
“So, I called Toto and said look, because I met him in that year, I don’t have any possibilities for next year at the moment can you find me something? He said if Lotus can’t do anything for you, I take you under the Mercedes star.
“I waited couple of months and that’s what he did. Definitely thankful for Toto and everything he has been helping on since 2015.”
Q. How was your time in DTM?
A. “I choose back in the day to do that. I wanted to be a professional driver straight away coming from, you know my background. Of course, there was no secure thing if I was going to go to F1. or not and I wanted to be professional straight away.
“In the end it was a fantastic step up because it has good preparation for Formula 1. Back in the days they had tire blankets, full on engineers, cars they were very complicated. Yeah, I went from there to Formula 1 and felt more or less I was doing the same. So, it has been good to do that.”
Q. For 2020, has Renault set any goals for you to achieve?
A. “I think you can probably ask Cyril on what the objective are? In my opinion what we want to achieve is improving from where they are this year and just do better than what they have done. That’s the target, of course, I want to score podiums, that would be fantastic but we will see. Let’s start first and see later.”
Q. Your favorite tracks? I’m guessing Spa is there?
A. “No, Spa is not. I am a bit different than any other driver on that; Suzuka, Budapest, Monaco.”
Q. Do you enjoy racing in the wet?
A. “Yes, very much, very much. Enjoy? Yes and no. But you know when I’m on it I feel at ease really. It’s a condition I like.”
Q. Sadly, grid girls are gone from F1, in your time in F1 which Grand Prix had the best looking chicas de pista?
A. “That was before my time so I don’t know. I can’t really tell you. We still have some kind of grid girls sometimes. It’s good that we also have kids that can have the chance to meet us and all that. I think we probably could have both all in all.”
Q. Do you enjoy meeting fans?
A. “I don’t mind. It’s awesome to see the support. A lot of fans give gifts to me.”
CLARK AND NASIR ARE STUNED BY THE CARLOS GHOSN ESCAPE STORY AND, THIS WEEKS PODCAST BRINGS YOU A GREAT INTERVIEW WITH AUDI SPORT FACTORY DRIVER LOIC DUVAL
NEWS ON DAKAR RALLY STAGE 4…PETERHANSEL WINS STAGE, ALONSO UP TO 20TH
Stephane Peterhansel, known as Mr.Dakar for his 13 wins over the years, overcame the challenges of taking English instructions from Portuguese notes man Paulo Fiuza and a tough couple of days in the office, to move his Mini buggy into the lead midway through the day’s stage.
He then stormed to a powerful Day 4 win over 2019 Dakar winner Nasser Al Attiyah’s Gazoo Toyota Hilux and double world Dakar champion Carlos Sainz in another Mini buggy.
The rally legend emerged unscathed from the dangerous fourth stage, conceding a mere seven minutes to stage winner Peterhansel despite having to open the special. The Spaniard still leads the general classification by three minutes over Al-Attiyah.
Sainz said of his day, “The last 100 kilometres were the toughest sector I’ve ever faced in the Dakar. It was insane. There were rocks all over the place and I could not see the tracks, it was devilish. At times like these, making it to the finish without running into trouble already feels like a win.
THE 2019 FORMULA 1 SEASON REVIEW PART 2 COMES YOUR WAY. NASIR IS CONVINCED THERE WILL BE NEW GRAND PRIX WINNERS IN 2020 BUT CONCEDES LCH WILL WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP.
HERE’S SOME NEWS ON THE F1W LOCAL FRONT… SONOMA SPEED FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES DATES FOR SECOND ANNUAL EVENT.
Sonoma, Calif. – The Sonoma Speed Festival has announced its second annual event, set for May 28-31, 2020 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. The event will feature the rarest authentic racing cars spanning the history of motorsports from the Brass Era to the modern age competing on track, along with world-class food and wine options, motorsport exhibitions, car shows and more.
The 2020 Sonoma Speed Festival follows a successful inaugural event in 2019, which featured over 200 cars that could be viewed up close and at speed, including two rare Ferrari 250 GTOs competing on track; demonstration runs by the only winning McLaren F1 GTR Longtail; two ex-John Wyer Gulf Racing Porsche 917Ks and two Gulf Racing Ford GT40s in competition. Drawing cars from Le Mans, Sebring, Formula One and more, the original works drivers include Jack Brabham, Niki Lauda, Mario Andretti, Jacky Ickx, Emerson Fittipaldi, Derek Daly, Jody Scheckter and many others.
The single most successful chassis in the history of Formula 1 – the 2016 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport F1 W07/04 – made several demonstration runs with team simulation and test driver Esteban Gutierrez. Thrilling the crowd, Esteban pushed his car to the limit and recorded a spectacular lap of 1:15.430 on the “full-course” configuration, breaking the lap record by over five seconds.
Outside of racing action on the track, guests will enjoy a variety of activities and displays along with a craft beer garden and the Sip & Savor Pavilion featuring wine tastings from an array of world-class California wineries with gourmet food pairings. Open air picnicking on a sprawling turf family area, curated historic vehicle displays, comedy routines by the Ragtime Racers and more make the event a must for hardcore race fans and families alike.
“Our inaugural event was a smash hit with both fans and participants,” said Ryan R. Turri, General Manager of the Sonoma Speed Festival. “We look forward to making this event even better for 2020.”
Ticketing and registration information will be available soon online at www.sonomaspeedfestival.com, along with additional information on special attractions. Learn more on the event website and follow the action on Facebook and Instagram.
THE HOST REGAINS HIS COMPOSURE AND GETS BACK TO THE BUSINESS AT HAND NASIR IS ALREADY GIDDY ON THE PROSPECTS OF THE 2020 F1 SEASON
THOUGHTS ON THE PASSING OF BILL SIMPSON…
Indy 500 Veteran, Racing Safety Pioneer Simpson Dies at 79
INDIANAPOLIS, – Veteran racer Bill Simpson, who made one Indianapolis 500 start and was renowned in global motorsports for his development of groundbreaking safety equipment, died Monday, Dec. 16 in Indianapolis due to complications from recent health problems. He was 79.
Simpson competed as a driver in drag racing, sports car racing and open-wheel formula racing, including in SCCA and USAC Indy-car competition. He made 52 career Indy-car starts between 1968 and 1977. He produced 11 top-10 finishes, including a career best of sixth in the 1970 Milwaukee 200.
Southern California native Simpson qualified 20th and finished 13th in the 1974 Indianapolis 500 in the American Kids Racer Eagle-Offy owned by Dick Beith. It was his only career start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” but competing in that race was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and the pinnacle of his varied driving career.
Another noteworthy highlight of Simpson’s career was providing four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears with a car to make his first career Indy car start, in the 1976 Ontario 500.
Simpson’s racing career ended during an Indianapolis 500 practice lap in May 1977, when he realized he was thinking more about a phone call he needed to make for his racing safety products business than driving a race car at nearly 200 mph. That realization caused him to hang up his helmet for good on the spot, with Formula One veteran Clay Regazzoni taking his seat.
The colorful Simpson started his driving career in drag racing as a teenager in Southern California. His work in motorsports safety started inadvertently when he crashed his dragster as an 18-year-old in 1958, suffering two broken arms. During his recovery time, Simpson devised and developed more sophisticated, purpose-built parachutes – through trial and error on a rented sewing machine in a garage – to slow dragsters after the finish line, starting a company called Simpson Drag Chutes.
Those humble beginnings evolved and grew into Simpson Performance Products and Impact! Racing, highly successful companies that designed, developed and produced more than 200 motorsports safety products used by drivers in all series worldwide, including helmets, gloves, fire-retardant driver suits, seat belts and more.
Perhaps Simpson’s biggest racing safety breakthrough came in 1967. He was introduced to a temperature-resistant fabric called Nomex through NASA astronaut and racing enthusiast Pete Conrad.
Simpson created the world’s first racing suit made of Nomex and brought it to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that May, where it became a safety sensation quickly used by nearly every driver in the starting field and now is standard equipment for every race driver. Donning his Nomex suit and a helmet, Simpson set himself on fire during demonstrations to prove the suit’s effectiveness on several occasions over the years.
Those tireless contributions to motorsports safety led to a host of accolades and honors, including enshrinement into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2003 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 2014.
Simpson chronicled his colorful and substantial life in racing by writing two books, “Racing Safely, Living Dangerously” and its sequel, “Through the Fire.”
Despite the vast success of his motorsports safety companies, Simpson never forgot his magical year of qualifying for and competing in the Indianapolis 500.
He annually returned to the Speedway during the Month of May for veterans’ activities, including appearances at driver autograph sessions for fans on Legends Day presented by Firestone. Simpson often attended these sessions with fellow colorful motorsports mogul and Indianapolis 500 veteran Chip Ganassi, and he was a passionate supporter of the IMS Museum.
Simpson is survived by a son. He also was a devout animal enthusiast, whose menagerie included his beloved dog, Maia, camels and other pets. A celebration of his life is being planned for this May at the IMS Museum, with details pending.
THE HOST IS HAPPY THE F1 2019 SEASON IS DONE BUT NOW SHIFTS HIS CONCERNS TO THE LAGUNA SECA FIASCO! NASIR IS BACK FROM ABU DHABI WITH A FULL REPORT FROM THE F1 PADDOCK.
Monterey County’s board of supervisors voted to hire the A & D Narigi, LLC (A&D) firm as the new track manager in charge of the county-owned park that contains WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The five-person board voted unanimously to enter into contract negotiations with A&D. Provided both sides come to terms, the company led by former Monterey Plaza Hotel general manager John Narigi will replace the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) at the onset of 2020.
The board’s decision serves as the second time SCRAMP has been on the losing end of a management contract vote. Following a scathing grand jury report compiled by the county in 2016 that documented systemic problems within SCRAMP’s business practices under a former CEO, the county spearheaded a worldwide search for new management firms.
The board ultimately chose the Friends of Laguna Seca group to replace SCRAMP, but was unable to conclude a deal with the management team. As a result, SCRAMP was given a new three-year contract to continue its management of the park, and with the term reaching its end, a new search began that promoted A&D as the county’s preferred vendor.
Assuming negotiations between the county and A&D are successful, SCRAMP’s 62-year tenure as Laguna Seca’s manager will come to an end ahead of the new racing season.
Separate from SCRAMP’s business infrastructure, the non-profit organization’s volunteer base is considered to hold the greatest value. Assembled over decades, SCRAMP’s volunteer group has facilitated the track’s major events throughout its tenure.
In SCRAMP’s pending absence, it’s unclear whether the hundreds of volunteers who’ve provided physical support, and allowed those events to operate without the vast expenses a paid staff would demand, would shift their allegiance to A&D.
Without the volunteers, it’s also unclear whether A&D would be able to form a similar volunteer base required to hold large events and meet its budget targets.