Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Silly Season

As the racing season enters the second half of the year, the rumors traditionally start flying about who's going where and when.

In Formula1 Jaguar kicked off the game early by firing demoting Antonio Pizzonia and bringing Justin Wilson over from Minardi, presumably by paying a largish fee to the Minardi team owner Paul Stoddart. Minardi in turn have promoted Nic Kiesa from F3000 to F1. An odd choice, given that so far his season in F3000 hasn't been particularly distinguished. But he is probably fairly cheap since his team owner has just shut down half his operation. In the meantime it is looking more and more as if McLaren aren't going to introduce their 2003 car until 2004, leading the team principal, Ron Dennis, to comment that they should just have renamed the MP4-17/D (last year's car in its fourth significant step) the MP-4/18 and shut the press up that way.

In CART Player's has confirmed that they will be out of racing after this year, in accordance with Canada's new anti-Tobacco laws. They look as if there is a good chance they will be going out on top since Paul Tracy is mounting a strong campaign this year. But losing the tobacco companies (and NASCAR has just lost RJ Reynolds as well) is going to be a major financial blow to the sport. This is probably a good thing in the end, although there will be some turmoil in the immediate future. Pulling out a lucrative source of sponsorship will lower the financial barriers to entry to smaller teams and may succeed in promoting more diversity in drivers, teams, and sponsors at all levels of motorsports.

I don't follow NASCAR as closely as open-wheel formulae, but so far there doesn't seem to be too much activity there. I did see a silly story, however, which says that at the last race Morgan Shepherd, pretty much a moving chicane, was not racing to win but just to pick up his appearance money ($48,500 for placing last) and scuffing tires for another, unidentified, team. Now that is the spirit of entrepeneurialism at its best.