Friday, February 06, 2004

The Week in Racing

The week started promisingly with the Rolex 24 12 hours of Daytona. It was meant to be a 24 hour race, but astoundingly heavy rain put pretty much 12 of the hours under either the yellow or the red flag &mdash no racing! That made it much easier to watch on the TiVo, however, since I skipped a solid 3 hours of morning coverage in less than 5 minutes. As a result of the lack of racing, attrition was surprisingly low, and the race was close enough that when the leading car from Howard-Boss developed suspension trouble (well, its wheel fell off) some 20 minutes from the end of the race, the next four cars on track passed them and they were bumped off the overall podium, although they still took 3rd in class. For a race that has been won by a solid 30 laps (maybe 45 minutes on the track) that's considered very close indeed.

CART has decided to follow NASCAR's lead and go for a Special Olympics-like points system &mdash everybody scores a point! Yesterday a new points system was unveiled that gives points all the way down to 20th place, up from the 12 points scorers under the old system. I am somewhat doubtful that any of the races this year will field 20 cars, so that is essentially an appearance bonus for even the slowest of drivers. But I could be surprised by the field. Officially there are 13 teams listed on the CART web site, but only 19 cars.

Meanwhile over in F1-world, silly season is continuing long past its regular use-by date. Bernie Ecclestone, normally referred to as the "F1 Supremo" has suggested that the series will be leaving Europe for good. Why? Because tobacco companies are finding it harder and harder to advertise there, and too many teams are sucking at the hind teat of big tobacco. Since all the teams are based in Europe, and most of them in England, this would lead to significant additional travel costs and stresses for them, so it is unlikely to happen soon. In the meantime, Imola is apparently hosting its last race this year. That makes sense however &mdash if the series is trying to expand its global reach, the first place that cuts should be made is in the countries that have two Grands Prix already, Germany and Italy. Imola was Italy #2, and I would expect the Nurburgring to follow it soon.

Finally (for F1,anyway) Eddie Jordan and Jos Verstappen are still playing footsie, even though it was announced that talks between the owner (Jordan) and the driver had broken down. During testing last week, the EJ-14 was displaying advertising for Jos's main sponsor, which suggests that Eddie is still trying to woo him.

Over here in NASCAR land, the season kicks off this weekend with the non-points race for last year's pole sitters, the Bud Shootout. It's at Daytona, I think it's at night, and I'll probably watch it because by this time of year any racing is good racing.

Update: Well that didn't take long. It's only a few hours after I wrote the above, and Verstappen is stating that all talks with Jordan are at an end. This leaves Jordan with only one of it's two drivers named, and just a month until the team needs to be in Melbourne qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

I also edited for sense and a couple of typos.