Leo Parente on how to stop F1 + IMSA Screwing Up Racing

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Because of the insanely early broadcast time and the fact that I forgot to PVR it, I didn’t watch the Australian Grand Prix. Then, last Monday all I saw on my various social media streams were complaints of penis nosed cars that sounded like pregnant lawn equipment. Oh, there were also discussions about a Red Bull F1 driver I have never heard of who was disqualified for some technical infraction that sounded like it was at least partly the FIA’s fault. Sounded like I wasn’t missing anything.

I did however watch the excellent internet feed from Sebring, where the IMSA folks seemed to finally figure out how to properly broadcast a race online. I got to watch some monumental incidents that were caused by pay-to-play drivers with limited talent that damn near killed a couple of pros. I did have to get out of the house for a while, so I missed the incidents that led up to IMSA race control’s colossal blunder. In case you missed it, IMSA assessed an 80 second stop and go penalty for avoidable contact to a car that was nowhere near the incident in question. The penalty most likely caused a dramatic change to the podium at the end of the day. This marked two events in a row where IMSA officials had made major gaffs that affected the outcome of the competition.
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Red Bull pits Daniel Ricciardo against Aussi fighter jet

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Media stunts. Some folks hate em. Others, myself included love them, at least when they are super cool. Think back to the Tony Stewart/Lewis Hamilton seat swap a couple of years ago. This was just plain cool.

The gang at Infiniti Red Bull Racing think so too, because they have just release this video of Red Bull hotshoe Daniel Ricciardo having a heads up drag race against an Australian air force F/A 14 fighter jet.

We all know the outcome without even having to watch the video. The F1 car leads off the start, until the Hornet gets moving and blows the doors off the pavement bound four wheeler. Who cares? All I know is that there are fewer things cooler than a Grand Prix car, a fighter jet and an empty runway!

Revson’s Last Formula One Victory: Rebuilding a Race Lap By Lap

A wet start to the 1973 Grand Prix of Canada would prove an omen of what was to come.

A wet start to the 1973 Grand Prix of Canada would prove an omen of what was to come.

It remains to this day one of the most controversial and fiercely debated Formula One Grand Prix races of all time.  Coming up on the fortieth anniversary of the legendary 1973 season that saw Jackie Stewart win the World Driver’s Championship, there’s still the controversy of who should have won the Canadian Grand Prix, which took place on September 23, 1973 at Mosport International Raceway.  What should have been a routine race ended up being anything but, with the race marking the first time in Formula One history that a Safety Car was deployed and the resulting confusion over who the actual winner of the race was.

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Shutter Speed: Returning Home

It was Tuesday before I could get a flight home. I had planned to stay over for Monaco. By then Gilles had been home several days and was lying-in-state in the vestibule of the local arena in Berthierville. The lines to view his body just went on and on. He was dressed in a white, what I thought was a driver’s suit, but I have heard conflicting reports since. When I went to pay my respects, there were so many people there I almost turned for home. I was undergoing such a range of emotions I had never felt so intensely before. I wanted to comfort the family, but was not sure it was just me I wanted to comfort. Gaston was in hospital under heavy sedation. He had lost the son he never had. He and Gilles were closer than a Father and son. Like many Fathers, Gaston had pulled Gilles out of many of life’s ditches. I drove directly to Berthierville from the airport. After paying my respects I headed for home in Ottawa. I had seen my friend for the last time.

I am still in a fog about most of that week. I am not sure if it was the Thursday that the funeral was held, but I drove to Berthierville with my good friend David Morgan-Kirby, an avid race fan and sometimes journalist who, like I, had watched the rise of Gilles from Formula Fords to Formula One. He had taken the time to interview Gilles when he was in the lower ranks and still would get a good reception from him even though Gilles was now at the top of his game. David and I and my wife at the time sat in the loft to the right of the chequered flag draped coffin. We were within fifty feet of Jody when he gave the eulogy. David, a stoic Englishman was rock solid. My wife was a blithering mess. I was just stunned. In less than a week I had done the final negotiation for our Grand Prix book, received a significant advance against royalties, ventured overseas and returned home broken, but I was in better shape than my friend who was now the centre of a different type of attention.

After it was all over Gilles’ body was taken to Montreal to be cremated. Joanne would then take the ashes back to Monaco. We followed the black Cadillac to Montreal on our return to Ottawa. I thought of the ‘Red Cadillac’ on this drive. David and I reminisced about all we had seen. There was a lot of laughter and tears on that drive. We got seriously drunk that night. [Read more...]

Shutter Speed: They all hoped for better things…

The usual squabbling between the FIA and FOCA was noticeably absent at the start of the 1982 season. Alan Jones had become disenchanted with the almost suspension-less cars and had gone home to Australia. The rumour mill was rampant with as many as three former World Champions to appear on the grid for the season. Jackie Stewart, James Hunt and Niki Lauda were all reported to have been offered large sums of cash to put on a helmet again. Only Lauda appeared at McLaren with John Watson as his backup.

Carlos Reutemann had intended to retire but reconsidered when Jones left the team. Keke Rosburg was his second at Williams. Mario left Alfa-Romeo to return to America and IndyCar racing. Gilles and Didier remained with Ferrari. Piquet teamed with Recardo Patrese at Brabham while Prost and Arnoux returned to Renault. Mansell and de Angelis took up the cores with Lotus and March retained Jochen Mass alongside newcomer Raul Boesel.

Gilles thought 1982 was going to be his year. Ferrari would win the constructors championship, but things would be very different in the drivers race.

South Africa started the season and a rift over the new driver’s super license which the drivers felt they could be traded like cattle at the whim of the team owners. Once this got straightened out the race got underway. Gilles had qualified third behind Arnoux and Piquet. Didier was qualified sixth. Both Ferrari would drop out of the race with Gilles blowing a turbo and Didier having a misfire and finishing in eighteenth.
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Shutter Speed: Two in a row

After the drama in Zolder everyone packed up, lock, stock and barrel and moved to the shores of the Mediterranean…Monaco. Long known as the crown jewel of Grand Prix racing and a serious favourite of the drivers and spectators alike, Monaco remains a very narrow, dangerous circuit that would not pass the required safety standards now in force in Formula One. It is like Kitsbuhel in downhill racing. It is iconic and will continue to be run.

It was felt the turbo-charged cars would be ineffective on the slow, twisting streets of both Monaco and Long Beach. Gilles proved them very wrong by putting the 126C on the front row with Nelson Piquet in his Brabham on the pole. Pironi had a more difficult time taming the powerful Ferrari and sat seventeenth on the grid.
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Shutter Speed: Terror in Zolder

There had been many changes to the driver line-up in the off-season. Andretti now drove for Alfa-Romeo. Emerson Fittipaldi retired from Formula One and left Keke Rosburg to carry the Fittipaldi colours. Rene Arnoux was still at Renault with newcomer Alain Prost. Formula Three star Nigel Mansell shared the driving orders at Lotus with Italian Elio de Angelis. The Williams team remained unchanged with Carlos Reutemann and Alan Jones, the new World Champion. Only Ferrari and Renault had the all-powerful turbo until the new Toleman team appeared with a Brian Hart turbo. It was entered in the Italian Grand Prix with Brian Henton at the wheel. It started twenty-third and finished tenth. Derrick Warwick was unable to qualify the sister car.

At the Belgian Grand Prix, again held at Zolder, Gilles qualified seventh, over a second and a half behind Reutemann’s Williams on the pole. Pironi out-qualified Gilles in third.

Reutemann had an unfortunate incident which put a damper on the weekend and his solid qualifying run for the pole. As he set out for his final qualify attempt on Friday, Osella mechanic, Giovanni Amadeo, fell from the pit wall into Reutemann’s path. Reutemann was unable to avoid him. Amadeo died from extensive injuries the following Monday. A second incident, also involving a mechanic, occured at the start of the race.
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Shutter Speed: The new kid on the block

The 1981 Formula One season continued with the on-going dispute between the FIA, the sports governing body and FOCA, the Formula One Constructors Association. At the first race it came to a head and only at the insistence of the principal sponsors of the teams would any kind of reconciliation take place and the season got underway at Long Beach.

At Ferrari there was a new kid on the block. Jody had retired having achieved his goal of the World Championship in 1979. He stuck around for 1980 with the T5 disaster falling down around him. Some drivers would have just thrown up their hands and called it a day, but Jody showed his class by sticking to Ferrari so they could capitalize on his achievement. The new kid was Didier Pironi who had moved over from Tyyrell.

“When I joined Ferrari the whole team was devoted to Gilles. I mean he was not just the top driver, he was much more than that,” recalled Pironi. “He had a small family there…he made me fit right in. I felt at home right away. Gilles made no distinctions. I was expecting to be put in my place. I was not number one. I was number two yet he treated an equal all the way.”
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James Hunt and “The Punch” at Mosport

This is a guest post from friend of The Garage, Jeremy Sale. It was originally published in this month’s edition of the VARAC newsletter.

I came across a report of the Canadian GP in 1977 the other day. It reminded me of a story I wrote which included a report of the infamous incident when James Hunt punched out a marshal. Here’s the context of the episode:

“By lap 60 Andretti was still leading with Hunt in hot pursuit. In fact, so quick was their pace that they had lapped everyone except Hunt’s team mate, Jochen Mass. As the two leaders came up behind him Mass managed to impede Andretti at Moss Turn and Hunt quickly took advantage, getting by Andretti and into the lead. But Hunt was still behind his about to be lapped team mate Mass and somehow at turn three the two came together and Hunt was put out of the race. Hunt, after standing trackside, angrily shaking his fist at “Herman the German” as he called his team mate, tried to cross the track and was restrained by a marshal. Still furious, Hunt punched the marshal, who went down for the count. Hunt was fined $2,750. Mass went on to finish third.”
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Tom Cruise peddles the Red Bull F1 car and then loops a chopper

Aside from being a bit of a whack job, Tom Cruise is also a bit of a gearhead. After working with Paul Newman in the Eighties, he took up road racing for a few years.

As part of a promo stunt to build some hype for the 2012 US Grand Prix, Red Bull enlisted David Coulthard to coach Cruise in the art of driving an F1 car. While I’m sure a bunch of the lessons featured how to leave the pits without destroying a clutch, Cruise seems to have done a decent job. Then again, editing is a wonderful concept! The camera work from the low flying helicopter is stunning.
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