Veteran motor sport journalist and Motor Sport Magazine US corespondent, Gordon Kirby, has posted a story on his bog in which Chip Ganassi’s sports car team manager Tim Keene and Extreme Speed’s director of operations Rob Hill share their opinion on the newly-merged TUDOR United Sportscar Championship or TUSC. Be sure to read Gordon’s post…It’s scathing!  Check it out here.

The debacle that was the Rolex 24 was the topic of our conversation here but this article goes beyond the yellow flag and late-race penalty, it gets tot eh very core of what these two gentlemen feel is a patented lack of direction or understanding of real sportscar racing. Perhaps the most heated comment was:

“I don’t think the series has a longterm plan,” Hill said. “I can honestly see sometime next year we’ll be running some kind of restrictor plate and they’re just going to continue messing with the cars trying to equalize everyone. I think that’s going to be their MO for trying to bring a fan base to this series.

“A DP is nothing more than a late seventies Trans-Am car with more bodywork. They’re an antique, tube-frame car and the mentality of the people we have to deal with is equally antique. They don’t want change, they don’t want technology. They’re not interested in selling technology and I think it’s going to kill them in the long run. They’re just hurtling toward the cliff and they don’t seem to realize it.”

Ouch! As Gordon himself laments:

“But the fact of the matter is NASCAR has won the battle for control of American motor racing and if people want to race in the TUSC they’re going to have to accept NASCAR’s constant rule tweaking and ‘performance balancing’. The traditional form of racing as we knew it with some type of interesting, forward-looking formula and a clear rulebook set in stone for a few years and has passed into history. “

Is it too early to cast aspersions? Well, possibly. Sure there will be teething issues but that from our vantage point on the outside but if teams have been giving the NASCAR boys a head’s up for several months, one has to ask why they didn’t listen and will they listen going forward? Could Hill be a singular voice in the paddock? Obviously not as Keene also offered equally indicting commentary on Gordon’t blog post.

It has to be said that the concept of the TUSC is brilliant but NASCAR’s heavy hand isn’t. They may know stock car racing better than anyone, and they do, but road racing sports cars is something different and so is their fan base. As I argued in the race review post I offered, NASCAR would do well to hire professionals and get out of the way. Savor their investment but stop trying to micromanage it and play politics with the series. At this point it feels incredibly self-serving and France family centric.

They should stick to NASCAR and be the investors and benefactors of the TUSC and leave the running and regulations to professionals in the road racing world. Unfortunately, judging by Hill’s comments, their egos may prevent that from happening. I feel bad for the teams and drivers because this should be a great series to rival WEC.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • S Gross

    Great article, shame the P2 cars weren’t more competitive at Daytona. This shines a little light on why they weren’t.

    • Agreed, I was disappointed they seemingly chose ego over practicality in that they wouldn’t let their precious DP cars be outclassed. You bought ALMS, who cares? What would it have mattered if the P2 cars were faster? I miss ALMS already but hope TUSC can get their details ironed and get the big egos out of the way.

  • Rapierman

    Well, then, go find new investors to buy out NASCAR’s share, and then they can kick them out and make up their own stuff. As the saying goes “He who has the gold makes the rules”.

    • GTurner38

      The problem is the people making the rules seem to have a disconnect not only with the teams that have to live by them (assuming they can figure out what the rules actually are). They also have a disconnect with the fans they should be trying to serve. Grand Am didn’t have some massive share of the US and global sports car audience that would indicate that their way of doing things was what fans wanted to see. If that had been the case, they wouldn’t have had to buy out ALMS or subsidize DP teams. If they aren’t careful, they’ll alienate the US sports car fan the way they’ve killed interest in AMA road racing. With internet streaming, it’s not as if TUSC is the only viewing option available to fans.

  • Isn’t there a new LeMans prototype in the pipeline? Until it arrives, I don’t know why they didn’t just let the DPs and P2s run in separate classes until the new prototype rules come into effect. Save everyone a lot of money and trouble and put on an even better show. I guess they just couldn’t stand the thought of the old DPs getting smoked.

    • Tom Firth

      The P2/DP regulations in america are frozen until 2017 in an agreement between IMSA/ACO.

      Initially the plan was for the ACO to develop new regulations as early as 2015 for LMP2 in Europe and for the current regulations to be frozen until then but it does seem that it will now be the end of 2016 , Not 2015 to coincide with the regulation changes in the US for 2017.

      Oreca – Onroak have already stated that a new P2 will be built for 2015. Closed Cockpit, which would then be homologated for two seasons internationally with one more season of the revised Oreca 03 before then.

      Oak Racing will be running two different LMP2 cars in the future. The OAK Morgan seen in america at Daytona and currently in the WEC and a new closed cockpit Oak-Ligier which will apparently be aimed at the American market to debut it seems at Le mans.

      • Tom Firth

        Sorry just noticed I put Oreca – Onroak.

        Onroak is Oak racing. Typo.

  • xlr8r

    I’m about as frustrated as I have ever been with the future of domestic US racing as a whole, after watching that race. I really enjoyed ALMS the last 5 years since I discovered it, and I came to accept Grand Am for what it was in the last 2 years. I enjoyed both series for what they were, but this merger seems to have turned everything upside down, and TUSCC as a whole is far less the the sum of its 2 parts. Its less than either series on its own IMO so far. I can enjoy a race of P2 cars in their own class, and I can enjoy a race of DP cars in their own class. But combining them has ruined it all for me.

    P2 should be technologically advanced, with relatively open rules for things like downforce. DPs on the other hand should be close to spec racing where the best teams and drivers make the difference between winning and losing. Combining them makes no sense. Also DPs really are antiquated next to a P2. GTLM is awesome, but it barely got any coverage this weekend. The cameras seemed to be fixed on a DP car 90% of the time during the broadcast.

    The late yellow was atrocious, and who ever threw it does not deserve to be a race official. In road racing local yellows should be used unless a car is stuck in a dangerous position, or there is debris on the track. That Porsche was off track for only a couple seconds, and was always under its own power, but they threw that yellow as fast as possible. It made me fume as a sportscar fan.

    And last but not least the coverage on Radio and TV. The lack of Radio Le Mans coverage really hurt my enjoyment, and understatement of the race. MRN was entirely clueless as to what was going on. And the TV coverage had almost more time covering commercials than the actual race. There needs to be a dedicated 100% race stream on their website for those that really want to see the entire race, not half of it.

    Right now I do not have much hope for this series, hopefully Sebring will help change my mind. But at least this race really got me more excited for my trip over to England this year to see the WEC at Silverstone. Hopefully that will deliver as a real sportscar race instead of this series.

  • @Tim and xlr8r- I agree with both of you and so does Mr. hill in Gordon’s post. :) I agree on MRN, xlr8r, they may be good at covering NASCAR but why would TUSC not use a proven sportscar broadcast team like John and the boys at RLM?

  • Tom Firth

    I read this article and I agree with most of what Gordon Kirby wrote.

    The series was far too slow at the uptake of sorting out key decision making points, The Calendar, Technical regulations, Sporting Regulations etc went very quiet after the initial launch of the merger. Granted it was going to take time with everyone involved having vested interests on the machinery they ran and making sure that it made it to the merged series and the teams have had issues with costs, parity etc throughout.

    Now, what I don’t agree with is that this is Doomsday. The series has great potential to survive and succeed, The final 30 minutes of the Daytona24 where ridiculous, I don’t think anyone can argue that with the convenient yellow but the other 23 and a half hours where a decent showcase for the launch of a new series for american Sportscar racing in terms of actual racing action at least.

    I’m not saying the first round was perfect by any stretch of the imagination but the BOP was reasonable. Everyone expected DP’s to be in control here with the additional power the cars had upon the 2013 Daytona Prototypes. To be honest all the P2 teams had issues during the race too which added to the DP domination. The layout of Daytona was always going to make BOP difficult too but the P2 cars on the infield looked strong. In a vote of confidence Olivier Pla set a comparable lap in the OAK LMP2 entrant to the leading DP’s. The car had alternator issues which dropped it out of contention but it showed that LMP2 in this race had potential even if the Corvette DP did have an advantage. If anything it’s the Corvette DP’s that I think need abit of a slowdown because the other P2 and DP cars where closer to level.

    Yes it’s not ideal that everything has to come down to balance of performance and it can never be entirely perfect but no other way exists on how the organisers can possibly run two completely different styles of regulations on track together. to be honest, Performance balancing and performance breaks happen throughout the world of sportscar racing, including in the FIA WEC in all classes including LMP1. GT3 is entirely based on a Balance of performance concept. The PC cars do need more speed against the GT D cars also in my opinion.

    The series has issues I agree with that but it’s going to take more than one race to sort them, give it two seasons and see what happens. I’m just worried as to what alternative exists if this doesn’t work for the americas when it comes to national Sportscar endurance races.

  • Fred

    I’ll be more patient but it is a mess and I’ve never liked the DP cars. Calling them prototypes is some kind of insider joke that is not funny.

  • It may be a simplistic view for a relationship, but the first thing that came to my mind when having read “they don’t want change, they don’t want technology” was the only recent move to fuel injection. How can a premier racing series, regardless of what the fans understand, want, and were traditionally familiar with, still operate on carburation after 2010? most of the people watching the series at the time of conversion were not driving vehicles without fuel injection, and many were likely born after carbonation was abandoned in consumer vehicles.

    The series will change, and it obviously plans on doing so, eventually. With the rate they are going and the direction that owners want to go, there may not be anyone left to have a sustainable series to see that change. Just think of what they cars will be able to do with carbon fiber monocoques.

  • mimi69

    More nose stuck in air snobbery. Fact is EVERY TIME the so called technology path has been taken it has failed and failed miserably. Even in Europe where this type of racing is king the ACO format does not work in a single county or regional series. Following a failed concept over and over again is not the answer. Let’s look at the facts. ALMS sold due to massive amounts of red ink and dwindling car count numbers that saw them having to add two spec classes in order to even have enough cars to run. ALMS their sanctioning body, two tracks and a hotel complex sold for less cash money than the Hotel complex is worth alone. Panoz and ALMS were so far in debt that this was the only way to get out from under it. ELMS had to cancel the last part of their season due to no cars. Asian Lemans failed teh first time it was tried, then when it was brought back it was running non ACO classes in order to have enough cars to run. Truth is there were more DP cars running in Grand Am in 2013 than P2 cars running in ALMS, ElMS and Asian Lemans COMBINED. Even when you add the WEC P2 cars their numbers are only 6 more than the number of DP which ran in Grand-Am.WORLD WIDE there were only 6 fewer DP running in a single series than P2 in ALL THE SERIES IN THE WORLD COMBINED. Even worst is that if the title sponsor of the ALMS did not switch their cars from GT to P2 there would not have been a single P2 running in the ALMS. Sports Car racing makes up the smallest portion of US auto racing. It is so out of touch with the rest of the US racing world that it cannot comprehend just how small it is. The organization which runs the top Sports Car series in the US changes every 8-12 years. There is no stability in US sports car racing. When it looks as if there may be some the snobbish minority denounces it and does what ever they can to destroy it. No the TUDOR USCR will not succeed but it will not be because of NASCAR. It will be because the same foolish thinking and practices when drove the ALMS deep into red ink is now in charge of the TUDOR USCR.