Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Kinder, Gentler Sebastien Bourdais - Interview With Three 2015 IndyCar Races Left

KVSH Racing, Hydroxycut Hardcore® Elite, Mistic® electronic cigarettes, Chevrolet-powered and aerodynamically outfitted Dallara Verizon IndyCar Series driver Sebastien Bourdais as he gets instruction from the pit box during the MAVTv 500. Always improving, SeaBass finished the race as the last car on the lead lap - started at P15 and finished P11. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2015)

A Kinder, Gentler Sebastien Bourdais - Interview With Three 2015 IndyCar Races Left

Sebastien Bourdais, who currently races for a person he competed against in ChampCar, Jimmy Vasser at KVSH (formally KV Racing Technology), is one of the most successful championship drivers currently competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series with four season championships.

Between 2004 through 2007, he beat out the likes of Bruno Junqueuira, Oriol Servia, and Justin Wilson as runners-up for the ChampCar season title ... while Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon, Sam Hornish, Jr., and Dario Franchitti were becoming champions in the separate Indy Racing League.

Bourdais re-joined the fight in open-wheel racing after the merger between the IRL and ChampCar by joining Dragon Racing and driving, the new Dallara DW12, outfitted with the short-lived Lotus Engine effort, but proved that the Lotus Power was up to competition on street and road races courses that featured a lot of corners.

In his second year with KVSH, driving the Chevrolet-powered and aerodynamically outfitted Dallara, Bourdais has two wins, one on the road/street - Race 2 at the Dual of Detroit, and one at the world's oldest racing course, the Milwaukee Mile oval. With 34 wins, Sebastien ties Al Unser, Jr. for seventh on the all-time list of American open-wheel career wins.

Also, in 2015, Sebastien Bourdais has a win at the Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring in the Tudor United Sports Car Championship with team drivers João Barbosa, and Christian Fittipaldi driving the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype.

KVSH Racing, Hydroxycut Hardcore® Elite, Mistic® electronic cigarettes, Chevrolet-powered and aerodynamically outfitted Dallara Verizon IndyCar Series driver Sebastien Bourdais at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. A good outing where SeaBass was able to qualify 9th and finish 6th. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Welcome Sebastien Bourdais ...

1)   Last weekend, during the race broadcast of the INDY Corn 300 in Iowa on NBCSN, we were treated to a video package that reviewed the tumultuous competitive relationship between you and Paul Tracy, that at times looked to almost come to physical blows on and around the track.

The two of you were shown being reflective and chummy, cruising around the Iowa countryside in a beautiful Corvette – one question, were you able to drive the Corvette that the two of you were taking a ride in?

2)  3-time champion Scott Dixon, after the Indy500, said the trailing turbulence, when one is behind 3 or more cars, makes it nearly impossible to charge toward the front - whereas, former team-mate Graham Rahal mentioned after the MAVTv500 at Auto Club Speedway, that the Chevy Turbulence was unpredictable but the Honda trailing turbulence was smoother and allowed for a better draft.

What has been your experience on the issue of trailing turbulence?

Is there a difference between Chevy to Honda?

What happened at the Milwaukee Mile and trailing turbulence? ... it appeared that since you had lapped the field at one point, this was never an issue as it may have been for others.

3)  It is good to see you at #6 in the 2015 championship points race after 13 races, with just three races left - the road course at Mid-Ohio, the superspeedway tri-oval at Pocono, and the double-points finale on the road course at Sonoma Raceway. Please tell us your planning and anticipation for these three races beginning with;

Mid-Ohio -

Pocono -

Sonoma Raceway near San Francisco -

4)  We believe we know how difficult it is to form a winning combination of sponsors, team mechanics/engineers, ownership, and driver testing. Will you be able to keep what has worked for you this year, in 2016?
What element do you think you could use more of, or would like to modify in any way?

5)  On a personal level, the folks at IndyCar put the word out that unlike a lot of competitors in the series; you enjoy driving your own coach to the racing venues. It stated in the public relations document that sometimes you are known to travel with wife Claire and two children, Alex and Emma, in tow. What do you enjoy most about traveling from race to race in a motorcoach?
What are you and Claire able to teach your kids?

Well, Sebastien Bourdais ... good luck for the rest of the season and we hope to see you on the podium again soon.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Sebastien Bourdais, Verizon IndyCar Series, KVSH, Jimmy Vasser, Bruno Junqueuira, Oriol Servia, Justin Wilson, Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon, Sam Hornish, Jr., Dario Franchitti, The EDJE, Race Talk Radio, Hydroxy Cut, Mistic

An Automotive LIfestyle POV: Big Red - The Original Outlaw Racer Rides Again …

Big Red Z/28 - Image Credit: NBCSN via

An Automotive LIfestyle POV: Big Red - The Original Outlaw Racer Rides Again …
by: James Groth, Miles Ahead Communications

Now as a new series on NBCSN - premiering Monday July 27, 9:00 pm EST.

This is the real life story of a 1969 Camaro SS, muscle car and a father and son taking on all comers from high price European to American modified racers. Not just beating them, but embarrassing them at the most serious open road racing competition. So legendary is Big Red that this car is credited with starting the Pro-Touring class of muscle cars. 

Santa Monica, CA - Tonight I am at the sneak preview of a new eight-part series, spending quality time with Executive Producer, Josh Oliver. He's giving me an overview of his Documentary Series on the most famous Muscle Car in competition, Big Red. Via eight episodes Oliver's documentary will chronicle the some of most serious road races of the past 25 years from the Silver State Classic to the Le Carrera in Mexico were Big Red blows away the competition at over 200 mph on highway roads. 

This is one of the most dangerous forms of racing there is because the drivers do not benefit from guard rails, smoothly paved surfaces or the emergency services of race tracks like Indy or Daytona Beach. Given the length of these two road course 94 and 120 miles, there is no way to learn each turn, one misjudgment or lack of focus and you are over the side of the mountain.  There are horrific crashes and fatal casualties at these high speed events including one by R.J. in Big Red.

Also hanging out with us is David Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief Hot Rod Magazine.  Hot Road Magazine being the industry bible of hot rodding, calls Big Red "The Baddest Camaro Ever".  In the theater we screen the opening and fourth episodes of the series. Oliver gives us the  behind the scenes interaction of this very small dedicated crew, historic footage and exceptional aerial views.

The production value of the television series was exceptional, studio quality not often found in documentaries.  As I question Oliver on the filming he speaks of the challenges of trying to keep up with Big Red since at 200 mph it's faster than the usual aircraft used for filming events and commercials.

So you have to wonder what kind of car guy pilots Big Red?  If you were to look around the restaurant hosting the pre-party most likely you would not be able to pick out the race car driver.  Thanks to my corporate days with Jaguar and other British marques I have been privileged to meet or work with some of my hero drivers from Phil Hill, Mario, Sterling Moss to Bob Tullius. However, I didn't immediately realize R.J. Gottlieb as the driver of Big Red. He's not like some NASCAR guys or animated like John Force. I found R.J. to be unassuming and a true old school gentlemen racer without the false bravado you might expect given his early and continued success. 

R.J. along with father, Dan Gottlieb are Los Angeles businessmen that had a dream to be the best at open road racing and accomplished these goals setting world records and scoring victories at every significant race entered. For me what make this even more noteworthy is these guys are not a full time race team with a load of sponsorship money.   We have grown accustom too 'he who has the most dollars often wins'.  There are no sponsors decals on Big Red or R.J's driving suit. This a great Americana, young boy has desire to try racing, dad backs him and works with him to win.  Talk about father-son bonding this is it! 

Ask yourself what were you doing at age 19? Probably dreaming of getting a chance behind the wheel of a friend or relative's Camaro for a brief drive. At age 19 R.J. enters the Silver State Classic and sets the world record over the 94-mile course in 27.34 minutes with a average speed of 197.99 m.p.h. Radar recorded a top-end velocity of 222 m.p.h.

In the TV series we get to see in the thanks to the aerial coverage how near impossible and dangerous it has to be to average almost 200 on twisty roads with rough surfaces. This is the kind of road racing Juan Fanigo did with a 1939 Chevy through South America, dangerous yes, but at no where near these speeds.  It's one thing to race at 200 in the controlled environment of a closed course, but Mexican roads are in a league of their own and so is R.J.'s driving.

In order to win at this level you usually come from one of the well know race families like Unser or Andretti. So for local businessman Dan Gottlieb to recognize and encourage his son's talent as a teen and even allow him to race at this level is rare.  Considering the well heeled competition from the Italian Supercars to the 'good old boys' out of the South and your beating them with a American Muscle, Carburetors and a few crew.  Granted Dan Gottlieb knows how to find the most talented engine builders as with John Lingenfelter and tube chassis builder Bill Osborne to name a few.

Big Red Z/28 - Image Credit: NBCSN via

To put things in perspective, most people know the famous Mustang 'Eleanor' from the successful film series. Big Red made its film appearance in 'Fast & Furious' #4. 'Eleanor' is a movie car, while Big Red wins at the highest level of flat out open road racing ... that's 'American Badass' at its best.

Reminder: Series Premiere Monday July 27th NBC SC 9:00 EST

Check out web site for the spec on the various Chevy V8 Lingenfelter and Donavan motors use for the various events and gear ratios.

TAGS: Big Red, NBCSN, Camaro, Chevy, V8, Lingenfelter, Dan, Gottlieb, R.J., American Badass, Donavan, James Groth, The EDJE

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Post #MAVTv500 & #CokeZero400 Superspeedway Event Observations

Ryan Briscoe has a moment of personal conversation with his helmet as he prepares to be a competitive factor in the MAVTv500 superspeedway five-hundred mile race held at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday June 27th. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2015)

Post #MAVTv500 & #CokeZero400 Superspeedway Event Observations

This was NOT a good week for ‪#‎NASCAR‬. Last week they ask fans not to fly the ‪#‎ConfederateFlag‬ and we see more Rebel Flags at Daytona International Speedway than we have seen in years.

They pull the hard cards of the crew guys who should have been celebrated as heroes for rushing to help Austin Dillon after his crash and have to explain they just wanted to talk to them, they will not fine them at all.

Subway is the presenting sponsor of the Xfinity Series race and is at Daytona ... this week Jared, the face of Subway advertising, had his home raided as part of a child pornography investigation.

But all of this serves as a distraction to the real issue at hand - Pack Racing.

Pole sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. held off the pack (a very good view of the definition of "pack racing") to win the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.  Earnhardt led 96 laps en route to his second win of the season.  Jimmie Johnson finished second, while Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch completed the top-five. Image Credit: NASCAR via

This weekend's heavily promoted race on NBC at Daytona, the Coke Zero 400, was delayed from its normal broadcast window and pushed way past midnight on the West coast was won by Dale Earnhart Jr. in a journeyman display of restrictor plate, raceline control, superspeedway PACK RACING.

If it were not for a couple of incredibly hairy Pack Racing crashes where everyone survived and about three spectators (it could have been a lot worse) were injured due to debris from a car flying into the catch fence ... the race was a total bore as are most NASCAR oval racing restrictor plate events.

The week before, a race that was also on a NBC broadcasting property (NBCSN), but not heavily promoted, the Verizon IndyCar Series held a race at Auto Club speedway.

The MAVTv500 would have been a good news event for the series if the race was able to draw spectators because the racing was anything but just a pack of cars playing "Follow The Leader" behind a very experienced driver/tactician. The product on the track and the lack of spectators attending the event show a dichotomy of efforts between the teams and drivers versus the Verizon IndyCar Series (VICS) management.

The product is the best it may be in years from top teams to the bottom of the points paying order ... this may be the most professional and talented to ever be assembled - the VICS management, however, may be the second worse ever (2015 explained here) with the worst management team being the last years of the Tony George regime, many of whom occupy positions in this current management team.

No.5 Ryan Briscoe (L) and eventual MAVTv500 winner No.15 Graham Rahal approach the Auto Club Speedway Start/Finish line side-by-side as a sparse crowd witnesses one of the best, most competitive races held in the annuals of open-wheel racing - world record 83 changes for the lead. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

This reaction to the MAVTv500 was posted by a friend of a longtime NASCAR fan on Facebook - this reaction has to see the light of day:

Geoff Gray (posted to facebook timeline)

One of my best and oldest friends came to visit us for the fourth of July weekend. He is a good ole boy NASCAR fan from Arkansas. We got to having a drink or two with dinner and he asked me what all this "business" was regarding "those crying tea and crumpet" Indycar whiners ... I told him that I had recorded the race so just sit back and watch. His response was the NASCAR fan typical "Why would I want to watch follow the leader IndyCar racing?" crap but I was able to convinced him regardless...

To say the least , from the drop of the green flag he was transfixed ... after 20 laps he was cheering and had already decided on a driver he wanted to see win ... Merican of course ... by the end of the race he was on his feet cheering on the race like a true fanatic. And then .... yup ... the after race whining began ... the Wheldon name was slung about wrecklessly as though there were even some semblance to that tragic day at all. 

Then my friend pointed out, most astutely pointed out, that:

(1) This not even remotely "pack racing" like them-thar "restrictor races" as there were rarely any one following or side by side for any length of time at all! In fact most of the time they were jumping out of line to actually pass one another!

(2) Don't these guys get paid a lot of money to do just that?

(3) Why wasn't there anyone there in them grandstands?

(4) Was it because it was a 500 mile race scheduled to run in the middle of the desert in the middle of summer?!?!?

(5) Who the hell was officiating when that fuel buckeye got ripped off .... Ain't that a penalty? It ain't like Rahal couldn't have made the time up ... hell, that crazy Brisco guy got a "drive through" and damn near won ifn' he didn't get wrecked!!!

(6) By the way ... I kinda like that Brisco guy ... he was Mr Spectacular and didn't cry boo after the race ... now that's a driver ... he oughta' drive NASCAR!

At the end of evening my good friend said to me " That was probably one of the best races I ever saw ... Maybe the best ... Ya'll got a good thang goin' there if they keep on drivin' like that and the management would shut those clowns up"! "Yup ya got a good thang goin there ... just dont tell anybody" ...


Long Time Coming: Rahal, Andretti Names Share Podium Again: Drivers with two of the most recognizable surnames in IndyCar racing shared the podium following the exciting MAVTv500 at Auto Club Speedway on June 27, when Graham Rahal won and Marco Andretti finished third (Tony Kanaan in P2). Surprisingly, it's the first time in their Indy car careers that the two - who each now drive for teams owned by their fathers - have celebrated together in Victory Circle. The last meeting on the podium for a Rahal and an Andretti was Sept. 1, 1996, in the Molson Indy Vancouver street-course event. Marco's father, Michael, won that day and Graham's dad, Bobby, finished second. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Inside the box score - MAVTv500: Numbers to note following the MAVTv500 at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval - the 11th round of the Verizon Indy Car Series season:

6 - Positions gained by Stefano Coletti in the final 25 laps of the race (18th to 12th). ... Podium finishes in his last seven starts at Auto Club Speedway by Tony Kanaan, who was the race runner-up.

7.77 - Average running position of winner Graham Rahal for the 250 laps.

14 - Drivers who led at least one lap, the most to lead a race at Auto Club Speedway since November 2001, when a track-record 19 drivers led.

18 - Positions improved by Rahal (19th to first), most of any of the 23 starters.

21 - Indy car wins for cars owned by Bobby Rahal, who won 24 times as a driver.

74 - Top-three career finishes by Kanaan, tying Rick Mears for 13th on the all-time Indy car list.

76 - Laps in which rookie Sage Karam improved his position, most of any driver.

80 - Lead changes in the race, an Indy car record. The previous was 73 at Auto Club Speedway in November 2001.

124 - Starts between Indy car victories for Graham Rahal, the longest streak between wins by an Indy car driver. The previous record was 97 starts between wins held by Johnny Rutherford.

244 - Consecutive starts by Kanaan, extending his all-time record.

2,537 - Total on-track passes for position. Kanaan had 204 (in 250 laps), most of any driver.

3,173 - Total on-track passes. Of the 6,248 total on-track passes this season, 51 percent occurred in the MAVTV 500.
(ht: VICS)

As the Verizon IndyCar Series heads to race on "the oldest speedway in the world" known as the Milwaukee Mile, let's hope that the attendance gap closes up so that folks can actually witness competitive open-wheel racing on a flat oval venue and come away with the appreciation for the toughest competition in motorsport. NBCSN Race Broadcast - Sunday, July 12, 2015 - 5:00pm ET.

Regardless, it is still time for a change in management to one that actually has someone who drove a car in competition as opposed to a committee of people who occupy Race Control who make most of their decisions, post race, in a vacuum of direct competitive track knowledge driving in open-wheel cars.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: #MAVTv500, @ACSUpdates, Auto Club Speedway, Brian Barnhart, Country Club, Derrick Walker, Mark Miles, MAVTV 500, Race Control, The EDJE, Verizon IndyCar Series, NASCAR, Coke Zero 400, Daytona, Pack Racing