Global RallyCross Secures New Investment. WHAT?!

15 Jan

Was I the only person who was living under a rock and missed this last November?!

http://openpaddock.net/2012/11/22/grc-gets-new-investors-and-ceo/

That’s kind of a big deal.Right?!  Or is this NBD…..?

There’s no mention of it on the GRC website in their news section..

http://www.global-rallycross.com/category/news/

New Ownership. New CEO. Influx of $$$$ money. Potentially HUGE impacts on the business moving forward. Yet no mention of it, virtually ANYWHERE.

Thanks to Oscar Jackson Jr. (Twitter: @OscarJackonJr) for IM’ing me a link to the OpenPaddock item above.

Global RallyCross is arguably the BIGGEST thing to happen to alternative motorsports since the launch of Formula Drift.

I’m a HUGE fan of the sport, and have been for many years. I’m a huge fan of the Series as well. The Series has a ton of momentum heading into 2013 with their best event EVER taking place at the SEMA Show last year, and the expansion via XGames this year. So for this news to pretty much be swept under the rug and left COMPLETELY off the radar…..  begs some questions. Is this what we should expect from the new ownership/management moving forward? I certainly hope not….

Again, maybe it’s just be having a conniption fit over nothing here.  You’ll have to let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

NEMO Coming to the USA?!

13 Jan

I saw my Facebook timeline blowing up Friday with people talking about the possibility of the famed NEMO Evo coming to the USA to compete in a time attack event.

I remember hearing/reading an interview last year with the owner of the car/team where he mentioned coming to the USA to compete in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

With the World Time Attack Challenge event being moved to the month of October (which is a GREAT move by Ian and team by the way), I cannot see NEMO competing in the Super Lap Battle/Global Time Attack event in November. WTAC trumps the biggest event USA has to offer at this point in time.

Now, will NEMO compete in another GTA event that is conveniently scheduled around the time of the PPIHC event? That is a possibility. But I’d guess that if NEMO does compete in a time attack event here in the States, that it would be AFTER the PPIHC event, as I can’t see the team owner risking the car/engine/driver ahead of the bigger and more notorious event: PPIHC. It simply isnt’ worth it in my opinion.

Taking a quick peak at the GTA schedule over at http://www.GlobalTimeAttack.com, there isn’t an event between PPIHC and the WTAC event, that would provide enough time for transport BACK to AUS for WTAC.

There is a Redline Time Attack (www.RedlineTimeAttack.com) event taking place at Buttonwillow in the middle part of July. This event could work out for NEMO, and give them a chance to set an official time on North America’s most-famous time attack course. Albeit with the higher ambient temps compared to the typical November SLB weather.

My money is on seeing NEMO compete at PPIHC, and no other time attack events.

I’d say there are also odds on seeing NEMO compete at a time attack prior to PPIHC, but at about a 8:1 chance….

Perhaps there is a slightly better chance at seeing NEMO compete at Buttonwillow in July… at about 6:1

But I just cannot see NEMO competing in the GTA Texas event in September, thereby missing, or at least foolishly increasing the risk of missing,  the WTAC event only a few weeks later…  This is the longshot … 80:1 or some other ludicrous chance.

Would NEMO miss WTAC?  Hell No.

All in all, I think there is a pretty decent chance of time attack fans having their hearts broken by team NEMO when the team chooses not to compete at a time attack event here in the States.

We’ll have to wait and see! 🙂

A New Year’s Resolution: More Blogging!

2 Jan

I hope the New Year is off to a great start for all of you! I’d have to say that my New Year is off to a great start so far, and I’m looking forward to a vastly more successful and eventful year compared to 2012. Let’s just say I am VERY glad to have last year behind me! 🙂 It was turbulent, to say the least.

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2013 is to commit to updating my blog on a consistent basis. I’m sure I’ve attempted to make this commitment in the past at least once, but never followed through on it. :-/

I will be focusing on motorsports and automotive industry related topics on my blog this year. For those of you interested in my other activities (gardening, soccer, sports, politics, etc.), I guess you’ll simply need to follow me on Twitter.

My plan is to update the blog 2-3 times per week featuring themed “columns”. Ideally I will consistently release new articles on the same days each week, like Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The columns and articles will feature driver interviews, event coverage and analysis, industry insights, opinion pieces, video interviews and perhaps some guest blogs as well. We’ll kinda have to see how it all begins to take shape, and what my blog’s visitors provide feedback on.

The reason I’m trying to do this is because I still do not believe the niche of the “industry” I am a fan of receives the amount of quality, insightful coverage as I expect it should be receiving. Am I the best or the most talented person to be attempting to fill the gaps? Who knows. Maybe not. But so long as nobody else is trying, or at least, nobody else is putting in the proper effort in their attempts, then somebody else has to. And that somebody else is me. 🙂

I hope to make it out to as many events that are local to me this year as possible. Look for event coverage, driver interviews and commentary for series like the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championships, Global Time Attack, Global Time Attack – Pro/Am, Just Drift, US Touring Car Championships and others.

As we go along with this, be sure to provide feedback on the articles and columns in the comments section.

Here’s to a great 2013 for all of you!

Nikolas

FIA WTCC at Sonoma

26 Sep

When it was announced that the FIA World Touring Car Championships (WTCC) series was coming to Sonoma, CA this year I was genuinely excited! I’ve been a huge fan of touring car racing going back to the 1990’s North American Touring Car Championships when Dodge and Honda were duking it out in Stratuses and Accords.

The touring car scene here in the US has had its ups and downs. In the early 2000’s, the Speedvision World Challenge Touring Car division was STACKED with tons of cars. I remember there being races at Limerock where they had to limit the car count! My wife and I also were thrilled to watch Roger Foo driver his Honda Civic to a commanding victory over the factory teams at Laguna Seca in 2001.  I can say that shortly thereafter, my wife became a fan of Mazda (due to their involvement in World Challenge), and since we’ve owned 5 of them (Protege5, Mazda6i, Mazda6s Wagon, CX-9, Mazda6 Wagon).

As Grand-Am started to become more popular with the professional and semi-pro racers, car counts in World Challenge began to fall. I was and remain to be more of a fan of the World Challenge touring car spec than of the GrandAm ST class cars.  GrandAM ST cars are simply too “stock” for my liking. I know why they are doing it (keeps costs down), but it makes the cars less appealing to the fans IMO.

I was hoping to make it up to Sonoma for the WTCC race this year, but it simply wasn’t in the cards to do so. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the FIA and Sonoma agree to bring the series back for 2013. I realize the spectator numbers may not have been huge, but this was the first year visiting the facility. If the WTCC consistently returns to Sonoma, and both parties involved do a good job of promoting the event, fan counts will increase.

As fans of this type of racing, we should all send an email to Sonoma, thanking them for hosting the WTCC and encouraging them to bring the series back in the future. Shoot them an email here:

trackinfo@RaceSonoma.com

For some additional coverage of the event, be sure to check out TunerPlayground.com:

http://www.tunerplayground.com/blog

And for a driver’s perspective, check out the coverage and photos from Larry Chen at SpeedHunters.com:

http://www.speedhunters.com/2012/09/interview_with_charles_n/

I know that many of us like to complain about SPEED mostly featuring NASCAR races and themed shows. So when we have a race like the WTCC air on SPEED, we need to do our part to make sure the decision-makers know there ARE fans out there who want to watch racing other than NASCAR.  Take a few minutes to send some emails out today! 🙂

Global Rally X – Las Vegas

25 Sep

As visitors to my blog know, I am a big fan of the sport of Rally Cross and the American series, Global Rally Cross (www.Global-RallyCross.com). Having attended the first GRC event in 2011 held at Irwindale Speedway, I was impressed with the potential of the series, and what I hoped/thought it could become.

I haven’t been able to attend any of the 2012 events so far, but I have made sure to watch all of the races on ESPN.

One of the things I’ve been a bit disappointed with is the general design of the courses used for the events held at NASCAR super-speedways. I realize that through GRC’s relationship with Speedway Motorsports, and the goal of showcasing the action in front of the largest crowd possible, the course designs are going to be somewhat limited using the existing oval asphalt and pit-lane in front of the main grandstands.

The biggest issue I have with the course designs is that they favor the driver who gets the hole-shot at the start of the race. With next to no opportunity to perform an overtake any where else on the course (too narrow, no high speed or double-apex corners, lack of gravel).. if you are the first car to the first turn, barring any mechanical issue or serious driving mistake, you will win the heat/race.

As a passionate motorsport fan, I’d love to see the courses offer the opportunity for talented drivers to attempt overtakes at several locations. I believe this would make the racing more exciting and unpredictable and help to draw more fans to this sport.

Take a look at the graphic of the LVMS course layout below:

 

I have to assume the course will be run counter-clockwise, as I can find no markup that says otherwise.  I am happy to see dirt/gravel for Turn 1, but I am hoping the “shortcut” section is also of dirt, and not asphalt. If it is, that would make this course the one with the highest percentage of dirt of all the courses so far in 2012. Ideally, I’d like to see GRC courses have 50% dirt/gravel. This forces the teams to set the cars up differently, creates additional challenges for the drivers and opens the door to more passing and lead-changes… all good things for rally cross.

What are your thoughts on the LVMS course, and of the 2012 GRC season so far?

Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it to this weekend’s event, but I will be watching on TV! be sure to tune in as well. Motorsports like this need as many viewers, both in person and on TV/Internet as possible!

Getting my car running again!

3 Jul

One of the things I am looking forward to the most  is getting my car running again! It has been MUCH too long since I last tracked the car. It hasn’t even been taken onto the street for nearly 2 years now.

For those who don’t know the car, it is a 2003 Ford Focus ZX3 with the 2.3L Duratec engine.  As it sits right now it makes just over 160whp with I/H/E. I have it setup with some KW Variant 3’s and a huge Eibach rear anti-sway bar in the back.  One of the biggest things I had to take care of was a re-valving/rebuild on the shocks, which Chris Marion over at KW helped me out with! Thanks Chris!

I’ll start off slow with the project, with some new tires, fluids, etc.. Then take the car out to Streets of Willow for a warmup event. Hopefully whatever skills I used to have come back quickly! This will give me a good baseline for where the car and I stand, before I dive into future upgrades.

And it is a DECENT upgrade list, that will be addressed in stages:

Driveline: 4.06:1 final drive (compared to current 3.41); Quaife, Kaaz or Torsen LSD; and maybe a “Stage 1” clutch

(the final drive and LSD will help TREMENDOUSLY on a tight track like Streets of Willow. I’ve driven another 2.3L NA Focus with 4.06 final drive and LSD and the car pulled out of corners considerably faster than mine does now)

Engine (external): Cosworth Intake Manifold (unless FSWerks begins to offer an ITB setup…);larger throttle body;Crower Stage 2 cams w/Ti springs and retainers; ECU tune/programmer

I’m hoping that by this point, the engine will be producing just around 200whp.

Engine Internal: 12:1 Cosworth Pistons, aftermarket rods, bearings, etc

I hope to have the engine producing 215-220whp on 91 octane.. we’ll see if that is doable or not.

The project is going to take some time to complete, but that is part of the fun! I’ll be sure to blog all about it here!

My goal is to have the car be in the top tier of NA FWD cars out there, on STREET tires of course. R Compounds are not in the game plan until the car becomes dedicated to W2W racing.

Global Rally Cross @ XGames

2 Jul

I always look forward to the Rally Cross segment of the annual X Games carnival. Especially the last two years as the format and organization of the Rally Cross racing has improved dramatically. I love the downtown setting of the racing, and truly wish that more of the GRC events could be held in such locations.

I was hoping that this year’s X Games stop would be more of a departure from the first two GRC events of the year (lacking dirt, too-tight of a race course, wanting of racing excitement, etc.)  Sure, there were dirt sections, a small dirt bump as well. I think it would have been great to see 50% of the total length of the course be dirt/gravel. The loose, low-traction surface would have provided some VERY interesting racing action.

I was bummed to see they turned the gap jump into a table-top jump, but I completely understand GRC management chose to do it. As a race event organizer for the better part of a decade, I’ve been in similar situations where the absolute priority of driver safety took precedent over “excitement” or cool factor.

I was stoked to see Sebastian Loeb racing in the event, my wife and I have been HUGE fans of his for many years. I think the fact that GRC was able to lure the 8-time WRC Champion to this event speaks volumes for the series and the fledgling sport here in the United States. It should be quite interesting to see how ESPN and GRC are successful or not as they both go global with their brands and events in 2013. I wonder how many of the U.S. based GRC teams have the budgets to attend all or most of the global X Games/GRC rounds…..?

I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the GRC management will be able to address my biggest criticisms so far this year over the remaining 2012 events (lack of gravel sections, courses too tight, lack of passing, first guy to turn 1 at the start of the race wins the race, etc.). But who am I and what does my opinion matter….?   😉