There should be a flash banner here. There are 2 main reasons why you may not be able to see it:
  • You do not have the required version of Flash MX installed (v8.0+) in your browser
  • JavaScript is disabled in your browser

Observations from a Distance

For the second year in a row, I was forced to miss the ALMS race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – last year was due to previously made Mother’s Day Commitments and this season was due to the graduation of my youngest daughter from college.  While I truly have missed being at the circuit – one of my favorites - I feel I’ve made the correct choice both times…

P1 will be missed – Yes, we know that P1 is going away.  It hasn’t been a success.  We all know that, but the Muscle Milk vs. Rebellion battle at Long Beach and at Laguna really brings home how much these cars will be missed.  The whole package of these cars – the speed, the sound, even the feel of these cars - is what sportscar racing is all about. 

While the lead battle did not go the distance at Laguna, thanks to the two protagonists coming together in traffic, which caused a cut LF tire for the Rebellion Lola.  While it lasted, the show was entertaining, even if it was between only two cars. 

Dyson Racing had yet another miserable race.  But one odd thing came out of the weekend – they are working for the future.  The team disclosed after the race that they were indeed running an evo (direct injection) Mazda/AER motor, one which they had previously tested and practiced with.  Unfortunately very early in the race problems rose, which the team was not able to diagnose at the track.

“We have always prided ourselves on running equipment that other people do not have,” stated Dyson Racing team principal Rob Dyson.  “There are plusses and minuses to that but we prefer to have control over our racing destiny and develop our own equipment. Our engine and chassis combination is unique in the world.  In a racing world that is going more and more down the restrictive path of spec racing, we prefer to give race fans the excitement of the latest technology.”

Earlier it was stated that Dyson Racing was working on the future, but what future?  Earlier it was thought that the future was P2 in the USCR.  But this motor is not eligible for that class.  So what gives?  I guess we’ll know in the next few months…

Pickett Racing – the word is that Greg has basically stopped talking about the future.  He more than stated his opinion of the future at Sebring, which obviously is not with a DP.  Could it be that all three of the P1 contenders are no-shows in the USCR next season?

Notably and purposely left out of the P1 discussion is the Deltawing.  Good for the Dave Price led team – they almost made it to the end of the race, but really – is this a suitable candidate for the P1 category?  They were barely faster than the GT cars.

Not a knock towards the P2 category, but they don’t hold a candle to the P1 cars, especially at Laguna.  Imagine Road America without the P1 cars – it’s not something I’m looking forward to.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – one of the (dozens of) rumors circulating at the track was whether this was the last race for sportscars at the track.  Given the other rumors circulating that the schedule is likely to be at around 10 races next season, that doesn’t leave much room for non-NASCAR governed tracks.  Daytona, Sebring, Road Atlanta, Watkins Glen, Kansas City, Sears Point (or whatever it is now called…) all have NASCAR heritage.  Could Laguna be lost for the new series?  I certainly hope not – it hurt enough that I couldn’t attend the last ALMS race at Laguna, but if it is the last of the era, I’ll truly be devastated.

One of the problems though with Laguna is the kitty litter that lines the circuit.  Cars get stuck in it or they bring it back on track – either way it usually is a yellow waiting to happen.

Oddly, it was not the nitty gritty stuff that caused problems late in the race, but the late caution for the dead Deltawing brought forth what was hoped to be a two-lap dash to the checkered.  Instead, the pace of the pace car was miscalculated and when the race went green again, there was also a white flag shown.  Sure enough, when the Pickett Racing HPD was shown the checkered, the race length was not yet the full four-hours.  There should have been an additional lap – whether it would have mattered on track doesn’t matter.  There should have been an additional lap.  To their credit, IMSA did admit that they messed up, but it wasn’t a very satisfying end to an era.

Rumors – Standard practice at ALMS events had been that once a transporter is in position, it is time for the crew to go to work; but since 2012 the rules have stated that no one can start working until the last transporter is in place.  That leads to a bunch of down time, which in the view of a friend is the perfect petri dish for growing rumors.

Besides the rumor about this being the last race at Laguna, another one discussed was a carry on from the John Dagys article from Road Atlanta concerning the attitude of the DP teams.  In his article, the general consensus was that the DP teams did not see why they should have to pay to make their cars faster.  Instead the P2 cars should be dropped and DP should be the premier class.  Well, now it appears as if the DP teams are, if the rumor is true, against having the elaborate and professional looking paddock layouts like are common in the ALMS.  What’s worked for them, in their opinion and in the past has been fine – why should they have to change?

At this point, I’m really beginning to dread the first race at Daytona.  Who wants to place money on how long it will take for a major on-track DP on P2 incident?

GT – can it get better?  From the looks of it at Laguna, the answer is yes.  The addition of CORE, the emergence of Falken, SRT Viper and the AJR/West Ferrari have added considerably to the depth of the field.  In fact, if it wasn’t for the incident late at Long Beach and the no-points finish at Laguna, Falken would be a significant player in the points chase; in fact, they could easily be leading the points chase heading into the Le Mans break.  Who would have thought that a Porsche could be that competitive this season?

The GT is truly what is world-class about what the ALMS has been through the years.  Is it too late to make the future USCR GT only?  If the P2 cars aren’t wanted, maybe there are some saying the same thing about the DPs…

No disrespect to the competitors in PC and GTC, but GT is where it is at.  While P1 will always be the focal point of the racing, it is and will continue to be the GT class that is showcasing what sportscar racing is all about.

Next?  Le Mans of course, but there are expectations of further announcements from the USCR, hopefully something that addresses the future regulations.  That is really needed, but you know that when the announcements are finally made, they will spark yet another round of complaints.

Part of me really wants to see this season come to an end, but that is just the constant complaining.  I’ll savor what I can of what’s left and hope for the best in the future. 

Gary Horrocks