The way to make a small fortune in auto racing, is to start with a large fortune.
Ancient auto racing proverb
Racing season is almost here and there's some news and non-news to catch up on.
AG at Dullard Mush alerted me to an ad on Craig's List about someone looking for help in promoting auto racing in the Reno area. At first I thought it was one team looking to find a sponsor, but it turned out to be an entire league; Dwarf Cars.
Photo credit D.A.R.T.
It sounds like fun and I gave it serious consideration, (I'm still thinking about it) but I can see a number of problems. The biggest problem is the location of Reno/Fernley Raceway. Asking potential customers to drive nearly 100 miles round trip for some entertainment is a lot to ask. I don't know what a good location would be, but 10 miles south of Fernley ain't it.
In order to get people to make the drive, you'd need a good headline race. Club racing just isn't a big enough attraction. Their best bet, I would think, would be to attach themselves to a larger and more popular series and race at bigger tracks.
We can also add the mud parking lot, dilapidated grandstands, and only a 1/3 mile oval, and let's face it, it's not the best place to impress your girlfriend on a Saturday night in Reno. The league operates in northern Nevada and parts of California. I'm no marketing guru, but if Reno isn't the main draw in this area, then what is?
Contrast the Fernley track with what the Reno Aces did and it's easy to see why baseball is popular in Reno and dirt track racing isn't. Old Moana Park and the Fernley track have at least one thing in common; I visited them both once and never went back to either.
So for the time being, I'll remain an ALMS fan. The economic crunch has been tough on the series and many of last year's problems persist, but there are some interesting additions. (Note: Driving 600 miles round trip once a year is still worth it).
Last year's Aston Martin has moved to GT and for the most part, gone back to Europe. The Muscle Milk team picked up Honda which returns after a one year absence due to the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. Still, with the Dyson Lola/Mazda, LMP 1 is only a two team class.
LMP 2 has two new additions for a total of three teams now. On shorter, curvier tracks like Laguna Seca, both classes are competitive so we could get a pretty good race between them. The most interesting of the LMP 2 entrants is the Conquest Endurance Morgan/Judd prototype.
The Morgan Motor Company is best known for the iconic three wheeled cyclecar. They've been building them by hand since 1909.
Photo credit Wikipedia
They make four wheel cars also, including this one.
Photo credit Racecar Engineering
Aside from their long history of innovation, what's especially interesting is the choice of the Judd engine. English sports cars traditionally focus on being light weight, and Judd is best known for their monstrous V-10. They'll certainly have something smaller, being an LMP 2, but the combination of Morgan and Judd make this the car to watch this year.
In the GT class Jaguar is out and Lotus is in. After three years, Jaguar never saw much success and I don't expect Lotus will either. But I have to admit, that's a good lookin' car.
Photo credit American Le Mans
The BMW's, Ferrari's, Porsche's and Corvettes will all return for another year. The GT class has been by far the most competitive and this year will be no different.
There are some new teams in LMPC and GTC. The cars in these classes are all from the same manufacturers, Oreca and Porsche respectively, so the focus is more on the drivers. We'll see if any new stars emerge.
All in all the series seems to be hanging in there. With only five teams in the marquee LMP classes, it's difficult to see the series gaining new fans. Still, there's enough that's new to keep the regular fans coming back.