Mixed Reaction to Newly Formed RTA

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Consisting of Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Richard Petty Motor Sports, Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and Roush Fenway Racing, the newly formed nonprofit Race Team Alliance (RTA) reportedly aims to investigate ways to cut costs and promote the sport to a wider audience, while presenting a unified voice on issues facing racing teams. RTA chairman, Rob Kauffman of Michael Waltrip Racing, stressed the group’s intention for collaboration with NASCAR and racetracks, with the goal of attracting more spectators. Kauffman also noted that, although teams compete on the weekend, they face common challenges, such as risk, revenue and expenses, and there is a lot of common interest among RTA members.

Reaction to the formation of the RTA has been mixed. Some teams have shown interest in joining the group and, it been reported that they will be eligible to do so if the team has attempted to qualify for 95% of the 72 Sprint Cup races in the past two years. Some have suggested that the RTA aims to push NASCAR for a larger cut of a ten-year $8.2-billion TV sponsorship deal. The RTA insists it is being, and will continue to be, transparent in what it hopes to achieve. The response from NASCAR to the formation of the RTA was an announcement by president Mike Helton in which he stated that NASCAR “will continue to do business the way we’ve done business.”

Officially founded by William France Sr. in February 1948, NASCAR has gone through various changes over the decades and today the family owned and operated business oversees more than 1500 races held at over 100 tracks located in 39 US states and Canada. Series sanctioned by NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) include the Sprint Cup Series, Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series, Whelen All-American Series, Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Local Racing and the NASCAR iRacing.com Series. NASCAR’s current CEO is the grandson of founder William France Sr., Brian France.

St Petersburg Festival of Speed 2014

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The 11th Annual Festivals of Speed St Petersburg Motorsports Collection & Luxury Lifestyle Jet Port Reception will benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Guests will have the opportunity of viewing a fantastic display of vintage and contemporary aircraft, exotic cars, customized motorcycles, high performance boats and an array of luxury lifestyle products. For more information visit www.festivalsofspeed.com

Date: 4-6 April 2014
Venue: Vinroy Park
City: St Petersburg
State: Florida
Country: United States

NMPA Hall of Fame Honors NASCAR Legends

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For the past four decades members of the National Motorsports Press Association have been reporting hot-off-the-press motorsport stories through print, television, radio and the internet to millions of fans. When the NMPA started more than forty years ago, it consisted of a small group of journalists and broadcasters who focused mainly on NASCAR and stock car racing in the southern states of the USA. Today it has both national and international members and represents all forms of motorsports.

An interesting feature of the NMPA is its Hall of Fame in which notable figures in the motorsports industry are honored. In January 2013, three of NASCAR’s legends will be the latest inductees into the NMPA Hall of Fame – namely Ken Squier, Jim Hunter and Dr. Joseph Mattioli, with the latter two being honored posthumously. All three spent their careers contributing to the sport of auto racing, and the general consensus is that their induction into the NMPA Hall of Fame is well-deserved.

Jim Hunter started his journalistic career in South Carolina before moving into the field of public relations and later being appointed as track president at Darlington Raceway. Hunter fulfilled corporate roles with both NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation during his career, remaining an integral part of NASCAR for the rest of his life.

Dr. Jospeh Mattioli was the founder of the very popular Pocono Raceway which opened in 1971 and currently hosts both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races, as well as IZOD IndyCar Series and ARCA Racing Series, among other events. The track is owned by Mattco Inc. which also owns the South Boston Speedway in Birginia. Pocono is also the home base of the Sports Car Club of America and some motorcycle clubs and racing schools. Known as “Doc” in the NASCAR community, Mattioli trained as a dentist at Temple University, but his passion lay in racing and he supported the sport whole-heartedly, which is he well remembered for.

Ken Squier started offering lap-by-lap commentary in the world of auto racing as a 14-year-old from the back of a logging truck at a stock car dirt race track in Vermont. His father, Lloyd Squier owned and operated the radio station WDEV based in his home town of Waterbury, Vermont. When his father passed away, Ken Squier took over ownership and running of the station, which he continues to do today. Squier was the co-founder of the Motor Racing Network in 1969 and filled the role of auto racing announcer for a number of years. He joined CBS Sports in 1972 and over the following years auto racing fans came to know his unique broadcasting style as he delivered lap-by-lap accounts of the action on the racetrack. Today Squier contributes to NASCAR coverage on the Speed Channel.

IMIS: Showcasing Innovations in Motorsports

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With the slogan of “The Business of Winning Starts Here”, the International Motorsports Industry Show is set to take place in Indianapolis on December 6-8, 2012. Representing all types of auto racing, including circle track, road racing, drag racing and carting, the IMIS 2012 invites racing enthusiasts to view the very latest innovations in equipment and technology on offer by the various sectors of the motorsports industry. In addition to more than 500 exhibitors, the program includes technical seminars, countless networking opportunities, banquets and special events to keep the pace running at full tilt in this popular annual event.

Exhibitors at the IMIS will include suppliers of products, equipment and services to the motorsport industry. New products will receive special attention, both online and at the show, with displays featuring high quality automotive specialty products including a wide range of accessories, performance enhancers, restoration products and more.

Aimed at players in the auto racing industry, the IMIS program includes a safety and technical conference at which NASCAR crew chief Ray Evernham will feature as the keynote speaker. Other knowledgeable experts making presentations at the event include John Melvin, Jim Downing and Tom Gideon, the latter being the director of NASCAR’s research and development center. Engine Builder magazine will be hosting a seminar on Friday December 7, entitled “Race Engine Roundtable: Real World Tips to Take the Checkered Flag”. Participants will include Matt Dickmeyer of Dickmeyer Automotive Engineering; Tony Bischoff of BES Racing Engines; Jim Feurer of Animal Jim Racing; Jeff Taylor of Jeff Taylor Performance; and David McLain of McLain’s Automotive Machine, among others. As with other seminars at IMIS, this roundtable discussion is free of charge to show attendees.

Other events taking place in conjunction with the International Motorsports Industry Show include IndyCar‘s awards ceremony and celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday December 6. Moreover, Andretti Autosport will be unveiling its 2013 IndyCar lineup, which reportedly will include Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Zach Veach.

With the Indiana Convention Center as the venue, the International Motorsports Industry Show hours for the public are 10am to 5pm on Thursday and Friday and 10am to 4pm on Saturday.

A Tale of Two Motorsports: Comparing NASCAR and Formula One

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Comparing NASCAR and F1 racing is a popular topic on the Internet. NASCAR is simple. All left turning in bulky, simple cars. F1 is complex. Left and right turning in sleek, technologically sophisticated cars. NASCAR is rough and tumble. Bumping and jostling add to the excitement. F1 is refined and elegant. Contact between cars spoils the precise aerodynamics and handling. As for the drivers, it is said that the best race in F1 and the rest race elsewhere. The comparisons by bloggers and racing analysts, no matter how erroneous, go on and on.

As shown in the table below, there are clear physical differences between the two motorsports. Less clear is whether there exists performance differences – that is, differences tied to the drivers’ and their teams’ performance – between the two sports. To address this question, we look back at the results from the 2009 NASCAR and F1 seasons.

Physical Differences: NASCAR and F1 Racing in 2009

Characteristic NASCAR F1
Number of Drivers 43 20
Number of Races 36 17
Design of Cars front-engine, “stock” car, heavy (3,300 lbs) mid-engine, open-wheel, light (1,322 lbs)
Technological Sophistication of Cars relatively simple mechanical engineering advanced electrical and mechanical engineering
Racing Tracks and Circuits oval-shaped speedways circuits and road courses
Width of Tracks and Circuits relatively wide, side-by-side racing is common relatively narrow, side-by-side racing is rare
Length of Tracks and Circuits relatively short (0.53 mi to 2.60 mi) relatively long (2.08 mi to 4.35 mi)
Location of Races 23 locations in USA 17 countries in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America
Turning all left turns 34 of 36 races left and right turning
Overtaking and Lead Changes relatively common relatively rare
Final Practice occurs after qualifying occurs before qualifying
Ability to race in wet weather cannot race in rain under any circumstances can race in rain with tires designed for this purpose

What is the relationship between a driver’s performance during the final practice before a race and his finish position?

Former NBA star Allen Iverson’s rant aside (“We’re not talking about the game, we’re talking about practice!”), coaches and sports psychologists say that athletes should practice like they play. The same is true for the 43 drivers who normally start a NASCAR race. An analysis of these drivers’ ranking in final practice and their finish positions throughout the 2009 season revealed statistically meaningful correlations or relationships between their practice performance and their finish positions in 81% of the races. The better someone performed in practice, the better his finish position. This was not the case for the 20 drivers who make up the starting field of an F1 grand prix. These drivers’ performances during final practice and their finish positions were related in only 41% of the grands prix. Interestingly, there was an even less reliable relationship between a driver’s practice performance and finish position if the results from only the top 20 points-leading NASCAR drivers before a race are considered. For these drivers, practice performance and finish position were related in only 22% of the races.

What is the relationship between a driver’s performance during qualifying (and thus his position at the start of a race) and his finish position?

“Qualifying is key” is a phrase that is heard often by drivers, crew chiefs, and racing analysts. The better a driver performs in qualifying, the closer to the front of the field he will start a race. For the 43-driver starting field of a NASCAR race, a statistically meaningful relationship between their performances in qualifying and their finish positions occurred in 75% of the races. For F1 drivers, the correlation between qualifying position and finish position was even stronger and occurred more often. But, for the top 20 points-leading drivers in NASCAR, a meaningful correlation between qualifying performance and finish position was uncommon.

What is the relationship between a driver’s points-standing (a measure of his performance in previous races) and his finish position?

Historians remind us often that the past is the best predictor of the future. This appears to be true for the 43 drivers who start NASCAR races. The higher a driver’s position in the points standings, the better his finish position. In contrast, a statistically meaningful correlation between F1 drivers’ performance in previous grands prix and their finish positions occurred much less often, and even less often for the top 20 points-leaders in NASCAR.

What is a more reliable predictor of a driver’s finish position: His performance during a practice, his performance during qualifying, his overall success prior to a race or a combination of these variables?

Overall, the best predictor of a NASCAR driver’s finish position was his points-standing. For F1 drivers, the best predictor of their finish position was their performance during qualifying and thus their position at the start of a grand prix. For the top 20 points-leaders in NASCAR, there were no reliable predictors across the races held in 2009.

Based on the analyses of the 2009 NASCAR and F1 racing seasons, we can now build a new table that summarizes performance differences in these two motorsports. Surprising, perhaps, is that the most noticeable differences were not between NASCAR and F1 drivers, but between the best NASCAR drivers and everyone else.

Performance Differences: NASCAR and F1 in 2009

Characteristic NASCAR F1 NASCAR (Top 20)
Finish position generally correlated with practice performance Yes, 81% of races No, 41% of grands prix No, 22% of races
Finish position generally correlated with qualifying performance/starting position Yes, 75% of races Yes, 82% of grands prix No, 28% of races
Finish position generally correlated with overall success in season Yes, 86% of races Somewhat, 59% of grands prix No, 19% of races
Best overall predictor(s) of finish position Points-standing before a race Qualifying performance (starting position) None of the performance variables studied

Article written by Kathleen Silva and Francisco Silva

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