2013 Season Starts With Hurt Feelings And News

New Berlin, WI – March 9, 2013 – Hamlin’s mad, NASCAR’s upset, another Hobbs is coming and so is the Delta Wing. That, and more, as the 2013 season is on its way.

• The tumult by NASCAR fans over the censure and $25,000 fine levied on Denny Hamlin has seen hundreds of comments left on various websites and Twitter posts. Though 98% of the feedback sides with Hamlin and his post- race Phoenix diatribe regarding the lack of the Gen. 6 car’s race-ability, NASCAR must be smiling. They have often taken the “it doesn’t matter what you say about us as long as you spell our name right” attitude regarding matters like this; upset on the outside, but counting ratings points in the office. And just like the Gordon-Bowyer excitement of last season, the TV ratings should be higher as fans and non-fans alike tune-in this week for the Las Vegas race to see what the fuss is all about. Enough has been said about the lack of passing by the latest NASCAR vehicle, and Hamlin is just the latest driver to voice his frustration-perhaps too publicly. But two races don’t make a season and the passing ability of the car is a work in progress. Perhaps NASCAR didn’t schedule enough testing in the off-season and the lack of on-time parts delivery to the teams probably slowed the development of the racer. But these things take time to get right, and with thirty-plus events still to be run, the car will get better and the complaining will hopefully lessen. In the mean-time Hamlin’s fine for expressing his opinion needs to be rescinded and the teams/drivers need to show some patience. BTW, the “comment” and “fan community” sites on the NASCAR website are “temporarily unavailable.” Wonder if the volume of fan comments was too much for it to handle?

• On another NASCAR note, have you noticed the smaller than usual number of cars on the entry lists for the first three races? Daytona (46), Phoenix (43) and Las Vegas (44)? Several observers have blamed lack of sponsorship and the general state of the economy, but with the introduction of the Gen. 6 car,costs for teams to field an entry have likely gone up to the exclusion of some. Or, have the “start and park” teams been given the message?

• The SPEED Channel will cease to exist after August 17 as Fox Sports 1 is introduced to the cable TV world. Seemingly modeled after the ESPN brands, NASCAR racing will be just one of many sports featured on the channel. Most NASCAR race programming will remain among the host of NFL, MLB and college sports that will be available in 90 million homes. But missing from the list of NASCAR shows in Fox’s press release is the much-watched “Wind Tunnel” show hosted for years by Dave Despain. The show seems to have been reduced from its one-hour format to a quick thirty minutes this season, and Despain’s displeasure showed through last Sunday as a technical glitch, combined with the shortened format, canceled a scheduled segment and lessened the show’s usual biting commentary and interviews. However, Fox Sports 1 did announce that ageless Regis Philbin will host “Rush Hour,” a 60-minute weekday show where “Regis leads the charge along with a panel of sports professionals in this brand new and unpredictable talk show.” The Speed Channel didn’t always please racing fans as it morphed from the majority of its original format that centered on motorsports, to the general car programming provided recently. Let’s hope Dave’s show does survive the cut and that it returns to its original time frame. Regis Philbin ? Weekdays ? Save us all!

• When Don Panoz’ Delta Wing project was being considered for the design of the new Indy Car several years ago, the reception by the racing community was tepid at best. The design seemed too radical for the Indy ovals and tight street courses. Panoz’ original team included Dan Gurney, Ben Bowlby, and Duncan Dayton (Highcroft Racing), but having competed at Le Mans and Road Atlanta last season under Nissan power, Panoz has switched his radical narrow wheel-based arrow design to a two-litre turbo engine based on the Mazda MZR powerplant from Elan Motorsports; another of Panoz’ interests. With Gurney et al having left the project, Panoz will send the car to Sebring this week, after testing earlier at Road Atlanta, with its black exterior having been replaced with silver (chrome) and red livery. Frenchman Olivier Pla and Andy Meyrick will man the cockpit for the 12-hour ALMS endurance classic. The prototype entry will run in Florida with an open cockpit but will feature an enclosed driver compartment for at least two more races scheduled for the car likely at Laguna Seca in May and Baltimore later in the season.

• Eighteen-year-old Andrew Hobbs, grandson of legendary British pilot David Hobbs, will compete in the Mazda Road to Indy Cooper Tires US F2000 series in 2013. “I’m incredibly excited to announce that I will be running for Arms-Up Motorsports this year,” said the Milwaukee native. “I’m so happy to be a part of their program that will hopefully take me to the IZOD IndyCar Series.” “Like his grandfather before him,” said the senior Hobbs, “open wheel racing is his first choice and what better goal than the most famous and biggest race in the world.” “We tested Drew straight out of his first three-day racing school where he made a great impression on the team,” said Gregg Borland, owner of the Milwaukee-based team. Andrew Hobbs has competed in karts and in the Skip Barber Summer Series prior to signing with Borland. The team’s first F2000 event is scheduled for the weekend of the Sebring 12-hour race.

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