Brake Glow

An aspiring motorsports journalist’s personal blog.

Tag Archives: Racing

Road America Returning to 2014 IndyCar Schedule?

As reported yesterday on Twitter, George Bruggenthies is expected to attend the Long Beach round of the IndyCar series in April.

George Bruggenthies, the President of the 4.048-mile Road America circuit, has long been in talks with the IndyCar series to return to the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin track. The two have been unable to come to an agreement since IndyCar merged with Champ Car in early 2008.

Sources suggested Bruggenthies plans to meet with IndyCar officials at the legendary street-circuit layout in Long Beach but would not speak publicly as the information is not yet public.

Road America and IndyCar last hosted talks with then-CEO of IndyCar, Randy Bernard, looking to replace the Chinese round of the calendar that fell through. Talks posed a combined weekend of the American LeMans Series and IndyCar in August of 2012. Ultimately, Bernard decided to do away with the round altogether and, instead, extend the distance of the 2012 season finale at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, CA, to 500 miles.

With the recently finalized plans to merge the American LeMans Series and the Grand-Am Championship to form United Sports Car Racing in 2014, one can only ponder the massive opportunity Road America may have to host a United Sports Car round alongside of IndyCar next year.

Road America last hosted a major open-wheel race in 2007, the final year of the now-defunct Champ Car series. 4-Time Champ Car champion, and current Dragon Racing driver, Sebastien Bourdais won the race on his way to his final championship in the series.

Check back for more updates as they become available.

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The Only Way Most of Us Live Our Dream: Video Games

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. With its arrival, comes the end of this horrible time for racing fans known as the off-season. I trust most racing fans are a lot like me in that their best way to cope with the downtime between seasons is to turn on the PS3 (or xBox, if you’re one of those), and have at it in a virtual racing world.

For me, I have been a PlayStation boy since its arrival some 15 years ago with only a few PC exceptions. So, for this piece, PS will assume the default medium. Also, with the longevity of a piece like this, it will be broken into multiple segments.

Every year around this time, I find myself wondering what game(s) drivers have in their personal collection, which provides the experience closest to reality. There is little out there that provides insight into this topic, thus why I decided to tackle it. With an interview request pending with Codemasters, the developers of all Formula One games for the past few years, I hope to gather a considerable amount of information on the topic to relay to anyone interested. For now, an examination at the evolution of racing video games must suffice.

For me, I first remember playing various IndyCar and Formula One games on the original Nintendo before the arrival of Nigel Mansell’s World Championship Racing for Super Nintendo. From there, it was IndyCar Racing 2 by Papyrus for PC. That game brought on my first bout with video game addiction. The time I spent, despite my youth and unfamiliarity with the technical aspects, learning every variable was a bit ridiculous. My brother thought he’d screw me up and cover my eyes during one lap. To his surprise, after learning the rhythm of the virtual Long Beach, I never made contact with the wall. I am still proud of that fete.

After IndyCar 2, PlayStation finally arrived. CART World Series was the initial game. The CART game came as close to reality as anything in its time. I always enjoyed it but I was heavily biased towards the game since it lacked Road America. Road America was/is my home track and much love remains for the venue. Luckily, Newman/Haas Racing’s video game provided the track but lost much of the realism that CART had.

Then the F-1 games came back to life. F-1 1998, I marveled at the graphics of rain hitting the screen. F-1 2000 brought back the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis. Hitting the track before drivers were able to was something a kid can get arrogant about.

In between all of the series specific games came Gran Turismo. The Gran Turismo series deserves an article to itself and for that premise will be largely left out here.

F-1 2000 marked the final PlayStation game I had purchased. Then came PlayStation 2. The graphics revolution that came with the new console sucked me in. I was addicted to F-1 2001. And then TOCA Race Car Driver 2 and 3. And then F1 Career Challenge where, for the first time, the player was immersed in the role of a F1 driver new to the series. Starting off at back-marking teams and slowly working the up the hierarchy of teams.

Then, came F1 2009 for the Wii. I reluctantly purchased a Wii simply for that reason. Shortly after my purchase, Codemasters announced the next F1 games for the foreseeable future were to be released primarily for PlayStation 3. So, as one would expect, I purchased a PS3.

So far, the PlayStation 3 has proved to be my best gaming purchase. The quality of graphics remains top-notch even in comparison to xBox 360’s.

The current gaming setup. Amidst a normal cloud of a baby toys sits Daddy's toy.

F1 2010 was the first video game purchased for the new console. That game now compliments the newly added F1 2011. Both games’ purchase led me to purchase my Logitech steering wheel. Ultimately, they will lead to a purchase of a PlaySeat. A PlaySeat is essentially a racing seat with the ability to mount a steering wheel and foot pedals to it. In other words, it is a racing fan’s dream personal arcade.

This evolution of gaming has led to in-home simulators. Games are getting closer and closer to allowing the gamer to enjoy a real-life experience from his home. Games like iRacing provide cutting edge realism, not only in the driving sense but also in the setup of a gamer’s race car. To find out just how real games are going to become and to see what goes into the development of current games, check back here for the next feature. (Provided the interview request is approved.)

Peugeot Axes Sports Car Program; Bourdais Full-Time in IndyCar

In a surprise announcement, the French automaker Peugeot pulled the plug on their factory effort for the 2012 World Endurance Championship.

The iconic Lions will be absent on the 2012 24 of LeMans grid and all other events held by the World Endurance Championship. In their official announcement the marque said “Peugeot prefers to concentrate its 2012 resources on its commercial performance” as a result of a “challenging economic environment in Europe.” The car maker also cited the launch of several new vehicles this year as another factor in their decision.

Interestingly, Peugeot factory driver Sebastien Bourdais announced a surprise move to a full-time IndyCar ride with Jay Penske’s Lotus-powered Dragon Racing team. Bourdais had a part-time effort with Dale Coyne Racing in 2011 while competing in all of Peugeot’s International LeMans events.

Bourdais will partner with former DTM and fellow Champ Car driver, Katherine Legge. Legge plans to drive a TrueCar sponsored entry. Bourdais’s sponsorship is still pending.

Sebastien Bourdais last drove full-time in America in '07 with Newman/Haas Racing in the championship-winning McDonald's car.

 

 The switch to full-time in 2012 will mark the Frenchman’s return to full-time American open-wheel racing since 2007 when Bourdais won his fourth and final Champ Car championship driving for the now defunct Newman/Haas Racing team.

 

Notes and Observations After Detroit

Sorry again for my absence.  I have moved back to college, so I’ve been getting settled in and starting to fall back into a routine outside of the racetrack (unfortunately).  With all the chaos surrounding the move back, I haven’t found much time to blog. So, following today’s race, I’m trying to get back on it.

Without further adue, my thoughts and notes on today’s race at Belle Isle.

Broadcast Errors: ESPN/ABC’s broadcast team is simply terrible. The most obvious indication of this from today’s race was their information on injured Enrique Bernoldi’s replacement at Conquest, Alex Tagliani.  Scott Goodyear noted that Tagliani, during his tenure in CART/Champ Car, had scored a win at Mid-Ohio. That was the first piece of wrong information. Tagliani scored his only win at Road America in 2004 driving for Paul Gentilozzi’s Rocketsports program. The second piece was saying that Tagliani, after his win at Mid-Ohio, ran around the course naked with only a checkered flag to cover up the areas where the sun don’t shine. Anyone that has been following racing longer than the past five years knows immediately that was actually Patrick Carpentier when he drove for Gerry Forsythe.

Wilson’s Win: Justin Wilson put in a stellar drive today to win the last points-paying street race of the year. Newman/Haas/Lanigan needed a good finish from both cars to gain back some of the confidence that had been lost through the course of the year, and they came through. Unfortunately for NHL, the ABC broadcast team failed to give them as much credit as they deserved when they said it was NHL’s first trip to victory lane this year. What happened in St. Pete, then?

Justin Wilson finessed his way to his first win of his Indy Car Career today in Detroit.

Justin Wilson finessed his way to his first win of his Indy Car career today in Detroit. (Photo: Zach Wenzel stock photo.)

On to Chicago: After last weekend’s dismal performance at Infineon and today’s 5th place finish, Scott Dixon finds his once commanding lead in the points championship down to just 30 points. Granted, that is still a long way to go for Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, the amount is not insurmountable coming into the finale in Chicago.  Probably safe to say, Dixon will not finish in Chicago the same way he finished there a year ago. (Recall him running out of fuel exiting turn 4 with Dario Franchitti going high to take the win and the championship?)

Conspiracy Theorists, This is for You: Personally, I think the race was run cleanly and honestly by both championship contenders and IRL officials. But, we all know there are those out there who won’t buy it. So, for them, let’s add a little fuel to their fire. First of all; Wheldon’s spin. We all know Scott was trying to make fuel. Did teammate Dan Wheldon make an “error” to bring out a yellow to stretch the Kiwi’s mileage a bit? You can decide on that one for yourself.

Then, the IRL’s call for Castroneves to give up the lead to Wilson following Castroneves’s supreme block job. Usually, a warning is handed down before a judgement of that sort. This left Team Penske asking, “what gives?” Did it lose Castroneves the race? Absolutely not. Wilson was significantly quicker lap-to-lap than Castroneves. The only thing the IRL’s call did was make it so Castroneves could not delay the inevitable any longer.

Again, sorry about my absence as of late. Hopefully I can start to get back at this on a regular basis. Make sure to check back often, and thanks for reading.

Zach

Nashville and Mid-Ohio Wrapup

Now that I’m home from Nashville and Mid-Ohio, let’s reflect on the past two weekends of Indy Car racing.

Danica, look out: Indy Lights driver, Ana Beatriz, scored her first victory in Nashville. Her showing was not quite as strong at Mid-Ohio, but she drove a solid race on Sunday and posted a 5th place finish amidst all the carnage plaguing the field. This girl is good. If she makes it to Indy Cars, Danica will really have to work to maintain her spot as top female. And, in case you’re wondering, Ana (or Bea, as she’s known through the paddock) is running third in points in Indy Lights.

Weather: Both races these past two weekends have been affected by weather. But the rain is not the problem. It was the heat. Mid-Ohio’s date is fine because pleasant days are possible in Ohio in July.

Nashville, on the other hand, is ridiculous. While Nashville is basically DOA for the ’09 schedule, if by some miracle it does return, the date needs to be changed.  Granted, it is a night race but most of the weekend’s activities take place in the afternoon and Nashville in July is way too hot. I was there from July 10th to the 17th and the coolest day was 88 degrees with 60% humidity. It is nothing short of remarkable that one of those Tennessee Indy Car fans did not collapse from heat stroke. Nashville is an interesting track with its concrete surface and Indy Car gets more attendance than Nashville’s Nationwide and truck race, but if it comes back; please, change the date to a cooler month.

On Danica and Milka: I’ve seen enough of it already. All sports programs, please stop looping the footage. It’s giving me a headache.

(Just wishful thinking. I know, I know… publicity for the series.)

On Rahal: I must admit, I was surprised Graham Rahal did not have a stronger showing at Mid-Ohio. The 2.4- mile course is Graham’s home track, and with the changing conditions at the beginning of the race, I figured he would burst through the field. Instead the Newman/Haas/Lanigan driver only managed a 16th place finish. Oh well, Edmonton’s next.  And Graham has had some good luck on street circuits adjoining with airports.

History repeats itself: AFS-Andretti/Green Indy Lights driver, Raphael Matos, has won the first race of every Indy Lights double-header. This weekend was no different. Last year’s Atlantic champion led from the pole on Saturday, and never let it go. If Kanaan were to leave AGR next year, Matos will almost certainly replace him. Matos is second in Indy Lights points, only one point behind.

What the…?: In case you haven’t already heard, Sunday’s Indy Lights race was chaotic, to put it mildly. Most noteworthy is Johnny Reid and James Davison.

For a little background, Davison was running second at Nashville when Reid moved up on Davison on the backstraight. The two made contact, and the incident ended both of their races.

In race 2 at Mid-Ohio, Reid was leading when the yellow came out towards the end of the race. The race was going to end under caution, and it looked to be Reid’s win. However, water got into Reid’s radio before the race even started. He had no contact with his team. As they were coming to take the checkers with Reid in first and Davison in second, Reid pulled in to pitlane expecting the others to follow him. They did not.

Davison went on to take the win. Reid would wind up ninth.

Later on, Davison remarked how he wondered if this was Reid’s way of making Nashville up to him.

Lastly,

Red Domination: Once again this weekend, the podium was basked in red driving suits. Briscoe, Castroneves, and Dixon claimed the top three spots. Chances are it will continue again next weekend.

Will it ever change? Of course. But probably not until the new chassis arrives.

Up next is the Rexall Edmonton Indy. This will be the first and only race with Atlantics as a supporting event. Hopefully, in ’09 they will have a prominent presence at Indy Car races, but don’t hold your breath.

Zach