Monday, June 15, 2015

Musings From the Weekend: Brunch and More

Records fell at Le Mans. IndyCar had another wet-to-dry race. NASCAR had races in two different states hampered by rain. Marc Márquez has suddenly morphed into Takuma Sato. And World Rally was in Italy and I genuinely have no clue what happened there. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

Rapid Fire
First, I will be taking a week off after Monday. Fresh off Le Mans and with IndyCar finally taking a week off and NASCAR taking a week off, I am going to take a week off. No posts for a week. Twitter will be mostly quiet for a week. I am taking a break. But I will be back.

This week I am just going to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. If you like anything you read below, let me know on Twitter.

Most IndyCar races should begin at 11:00 a.m. local time. Why? Because it would be unique. IndyCar would become the brunch series. When you think brunch, you'd think IndyCar. Plus, people love brunch. I dare you to find someone who hates brunch. IndyCar needs something positive to associate with and brunch would be the perfect partner.

Races would be completed before NASCAR races start and that is crucial as NBC picks up the latter half of the NASCAR schedule. The Mid-Ohio IndyCar race will be on CNBC because NASCAR at Pocono will be happening simultaneously. If the Mid-Ohio race began at 11:00 a.m. it could be completed by 1:00 p.m. and could lead into Pocono on NBCSN, which could go green a little after 1:30.

What about support series? Run a few before and a few after. Take Toronto for example. Have U.S. F2000 and Pro Mazda prior to the IndyCar race. Then have the IndyCar race. After the IndyCar race could be Indy Lights, GT3 Cup Canada and Stadium Super Trucks. There could be a post race autograph session for the fans. Race would be over by 1:00 p.m. At 2:30 p.m., have a post race autograph session, fans could be out of there by 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. and home at a reasonable time for dinner.

Think of the sponsorship opportunities for brunch races. Pillsbury, General Mills, Tropicana, Folgers, Keurig, etc. And it would benefit viewers around the world. Instead of making European fan wait until 9:00 p.m. for a race to start, a race such as Toronto would begin at 5:00 p.m. in Europe. West coast races, such as Long Beach, would begin at 2:00 p.m. ET and 8:00 p.m. Central European. Texas and Iowa could still be night races. The Grand Prix of Indianapolis could still be Saturday afternoon and the season finale could be at another time but the remaining races should be held at brunch time.

Can IndyCar get rid of the morning warm-up session? It's an unnecessary 45-minute session and if the teams really wanted to save money they would support it being dropped as well. The morning warm-up is just another chance to damage equipment. There is nothing else that can be learned between qualifying and the race because no one is going to take a risk and try an entirely new setup at the last minute. Get rid of it. You would have more time for support races and the IndyCar race could start earlier.

We all know Ford is return to sports car racing with the Ford GT and Chip Ganassi is fielding the cars. I don't know if there are going to be two IMSA teams and two WEC teams or if it's going to be like Porsche where drivers run both IMSA and WEC but here is my idea for what Ford and Ganassi should do next year:

Have the full-time drivers be Joey Hand, Ryan Briscoe, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Kevin Éstre. All are solid drivers and experienced in GTE competition. For Le Mans, bring in Richard Westbrook and Andy Priaulx, two more drivers with loads of GTE experience. Then, depending on if the ACO gives Ford an invitation for a third Ford GT, run a car of Scott Pruett, Scott Dixon and Jeff Gordon. This would be a final hooray for Pruett before retirement. Dixon is a no brainer because he is a New Zealander and it will be the 50th anniversary of New Zealanders Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon winning Le Mans in the Ford GT40 Mk. II. Gordon is poetic. We know he has said he wants to run Le Mans and he says with Corvette because he has been in NASCAR and brand loyalty is shoved down everyone's throat. But offer him a chance to drive a Ford GT in its return to Le Mans and dare him to say no. Plus, it would be poetic because over two decades ago Gordon was driving for Ford and Bill Davis Racing and they let him go to Hendrick Motorsports and the rest is history. Money wouldn't be the issue, Ganassi and Ford will just have to be willing to part with it.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Josef Newgarden and everything that happened at Le Mans but did you know...

Jorge Lorenzo won the MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix, his fourth consecutive victory. Johann Zarco won in Moto2 and Denny Kent ended his winless streak in Moto3 at two.

Spencer Pigot swept the Indy Lights weekend at Toronto. Florian Latorre and Canadian Garret Grist split the Pro Mazda race. Jake Eidson and Nico Jamin split the U.S. F2000 races.

Kurt Busch won a rain-shortened NASCAR Cup race at Michigan. His brother Kyle won the second division race in his return to the series after suffering his leg injury at Daytona. Cole Custer won the Truck race at Gateway, which was significantly delayed by rain.

Sébastien Ogier won Rally d'Italia Sardegna.

Coming Up This Weekend
Formula One heads to Von Trapp country.
Blancpain Endurance Series will run 1000km around Paul Ricard.
V8 Supercars will spend the winter solstice at Hidden Valley Raceway.
The British Empire looks to continue their World Superbike domination at Misano.
Super GT makes their second trip to Thailand.
WTCC will be in Slovakia.