Friday, December 18, 2015

Dean Batchelor Awards Banquet - 2015 MPG AWARDS WINNERS




The 2015 MPG Awards were held at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, CA last night and winners were recognized in each category for Excellence in Automotive Journalism. Top honors were awarded to Micah Muzio & COTU Productions, winners of the 2015 Dean Batchelor Award, for their "2015 Polaris Slingshot Review" on
Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Doug Stokes with Harold Osmer
Doug Stokes was recognized for his exceptional behind-the-scenes public relations contributions to motor sports and the racing industry. A member of the Motor Press Guild since it was renamed from IMPA-West in the mid-1980's, Doug has supported motor sports for more than 25 years, representing such notable and iconic clients as Mickey and Trudy Thompson, Gale Banks, Stuart Rowlands, and Steve Ford, and supporting racing efforts for Honda, Suzuki, the Kazarian Brothers, and Lucas Oil. Doug has served as Vice President of Communications at Irwindale Event Center since 2013, and has previously been honored with the Chapman Award for PR by the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association.


2015 Best Feature Article of the Year: Larry P. Vellequette and Luca Ciferri
"The Coming Squeeze" [view pdf] - Automotive News
2015 Best News Article of the Year: Hans Greimel
"Confessions of a Price Fixer" - Automotive News
2015 Best Vehicle Review of the Year: Basem Wasef
"Review: The Ferocious New Corvette Z06 is an $80K Ferrari-Killer" - Wired
mpgawards-article-wasefBasem Wasef & wife, Anna

2015 Best Audio Program of the Year: Charlie Vogelheim and Shawn Meyers
"#35: The Best and Worst 'Cars and Coffee' Ever" [click to find podcast on iTunes] - Motor Trend Audio
mpgawards-books-vogelheimL-R: John Clinard, Charlie Vogelheim, Ed Kim (head judge - audio)

2015 Best Book of the Year: Sam Posey
Where the Writer Meets the Road - David Bull Publishing
mpgawards-books-poseySam Posey and Eric Dahlquist, Sr. (head judge - books)

2015 Best Feature Video of the Year: Adam Carolla (Director/Producer), Nate Adams (Producer/Additional Direction), Mike August (Producer), Matt D'Andria (Executive Producer), Norm Pattiz (Executive Producer)Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman - Sontalia, Mollette
L-R: Nate Adams, Peter Starr (head judge - video), Matt D'Andria
2015 Best Video Vehicle Review of the Year: Micah Muzio and COTU Productions
Micah Muzio

2015 Best Photo of the Year: Dale Kistemaker
"24+30" - Porsche Panorama [view pdf]
 [ht: Motor Press Guild]

TAGS: Motor Press Guild, Dean Batchelor Award, 2015 MPG Awards, Doug Stokes, Adam Carolla, Nate Adams, Mike August, Matt D'Andria, Norm Pattiz, Sam Posey, Charlie Vogelheim, Shawn Meyers, Micah Muzio, COTU Productions, Hans Greimel, Larry P. Vellequette, Luca Ciferri, Basem Wasef, Bob D'Olivo Award, Dale Kistemaker, The EDJE, Porsche Panomara, Wired, Automotive News, Sontalia, Molette, David Bull Publishing,, Motor Trend Audio, 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Naughty Or Nice For 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Placed Under The Tree

Scott Dixon on 'pit-out' at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach ... a race he finally won for the first time in his IndyCar career. This race win helped Dixon to achieve his fourth American Open-Wheel Racing championship secured on lap 51 by never giving up the lead for the win of the final race, GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma held at Sonoma Raceway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Naughty Or Nice For 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Placed Under The Tree

To many who have followed professional American open-wheel automobile racing over these last fifty plus years, in terms of talent in the paddocks on both teams and drivers, the 2015 season would easily rank in the top five all-time seasons.

The 2015 season was the first season that featured the new rules governing aerodynamic body panels manufactured by Dallara but utilizing input and designs dictated/negotiated by the manufacturer of the engines used by each team - Chevrolet or Honda. Once each team was given the solution of body and wing parts to use on the racing platform, within limits, the teams could decide upon the configurations and settings allowed.

One million possible adjustment combinations with the Honda/Dallara aero-package. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Early in the season, the cars that ran Honda seemed to be a bit behind Chevrolet on in and out cornering speed ... to wit Honda put forth, (paraphrased) our wing and body panels can be configured in about a million different ways given all of the options available. The problem with this potential breadth of choice options, once a proper engineering set up has become competitive with the more simple approach settled on by Chevrolet, about 999,000 options for adjustment become useless or irrelevant.

So on this issue ... who's Nice or Naughty?

The manufacturer, the engineering staff who figured out the best set-ups?, or the overall rules package crafted by the Verizon IndyCar Management?

In an effort to place the gifts of this season under the tree, Josh Farmer's Championship Racing Radio in show #4, with Edmund Jenks, seeks to discuss the Best (Nice) and Worst (Naughty) of this 2015 breakout season that began with an out of country race cancellation in Brazil without having a make-up race be run at any time for the balance of the season.

The discussion in show #4, however, will not focus on Verizon IndyCar Management but, rather, the races run, teams, and drivers.

Management, for the most part, may qualify for a lump of coal beginning with their policy of "Race Control By Committee" which had the person who was in charge of this policy - Derrick Walker - resign from the position after 2/3ds of the season had been put to bed ... with cookies and milk.

Championship Racing Radio 4: Naughty or Nice?

Time of show: (45 minutes at the maximum)
Intro: (Less than 5 minutes) introduce ourselves.
Rest of show: Best/worst of the 2015 IndyCar season in the theme of Naughty or Nice list. We both talk about who we think is the best driver

●    Nice List

○    Best Driver – Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon - The driver from Auckland, New Zealand kept his cool and capitalized on an unbelievable mistake by Team Penske midway through the race. That allowed Dixon to win his fourth Verizon IndyCar Series championship with a victory in season finale's Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma race (ht: Bruce Martin)

○    Best Race – Farmer - MAVTv500, Auto Club Speedway | Jenks - Honda Indy Grand Prix Of Alabama, Barber Motorsports Park (road/street course) - MAVTv500, Auto Club Speedway (superspeedway, oval course)

○    Best Rookie – Farmer - Bryan Herta Autosport's Gabby Chaves | Jenks - Bryan Herta Autosport's Gabby Chaves – Total Laps was 2nd best after Ryan Hunter Reay (2211 – RHR 2218) - Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Sage Karam - Honorable Mention 12 races – 2 Top 5 / 2 top 10 – excitement generated – No ride this season with 3 seats open – SPM / KV Racing / Dale Coyne

○    Best Move –  Penske Racing's Will Power – Sonoma for the Verizon P1 Pole Award - Will Power saw the performance CFH Racing's Josef Newgarden was able to do by placing Black sidewall tires on his Dallara so Will ordered up a set be placed on his Chevy and with the last seconds of qualifications winding down, snatched the Verizon P1 Pole Award away from Newgarden.

○    Most Improved driver – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal – He improved so much as a driver, it made him marriageable – Courtney Force and Graham got married Nov. 21, 2015 and are honeymooning in Fiji and New Zealand.

Ryan Briscoe before he took to the track at the MAVTv500, Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2015)

○    Best underdog – Farmer - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Conor Daly (points for Detroit) - Dale Coyne Racing's Tristan Vautier (showed great promise behind substitution runs) | Jenks - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Ryan Briscoe – 8 Races – ½ season – 1 Top 5 / 4 Top 10 / 2 DNF … one DNF at ACS on last lap caused by Ryan Hunter Reay

●    Naughty List

○    Worst Driver – Farmer - Dale Coyne Racing's Francesco Dracone (never finished in the Top 20) | Jenks - KV Racing Technology's Stefano Colitti – 16 Races with 5 DNF / Dale Coyne Racing's Francesco Dracone – 5 Races with 2 DNF - Josh Farmer compared Francesco Dracone as being "as slow as Milka Duno." Edmund Jenks asked Josh, "So you believe that Dracone is Milka Duno without the mascara? ... as far as we know, right?

○    Worst Race – Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana "NOLA"

Penske Racing's Simon Pagenaud leaves the track after contesting space with Ryan Hunter-Reay and take a mud ride. This image, with Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti in the foreground, was taken at the beginning of an accident that colored the late stages of the shortened race at NOLA. Image Credit: Bret Kelley - VICS (2015)

○    Worst Move - Farmer - Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay (2015 P6) - The final full course YELLOW Flag came from a massive incident between Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Hunter-Reay (RHR), and Simon Pageneud (on the outside) as the drivers attempted to go three-wide in turn 3. RHR ended up pushing Pagenaud off of the track | Jenks - Penske Racing's Will Power - Diving move in Turn 10 at St. Petersburg on teammate Juan Pablo Montoya with many laps remaining in the race. It turns out that these two drivers got together during the final race of the season at Sonoma Raceway. Given that both drivers were in the hunt for the championship, one wonders if these points were able to be retained, would Scott Dixon have his 4th IndyCar crown.

Pageneud slid off the track into the mud, and then back on the track in the next right-hand corner 4, collecting Hunter-Reay and Bourdais sending all three cars across the grass.

Bourdais slides to the tire wall and hits broadsides cracking the hull of his No. 11 Dallara (all preceding crash images by Bret Kelley for IndyCar)

Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves in the pits at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Qualified well at many 2015 venues but just could not make the performances stick. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

○    Most disappointing driver - Farmer - Penske Racing's Simon Pagenaud (high hopes not realized - 2015 P11) - CFH Racing's Ed Carpenter (better set up with Conway last year - 2015 P27) | Jenks - Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves (2015 P5) - What was more surprising: Helio going without a win for only the second time in the past 16 IndyCar seasons, or his comparative disappearance at Indianapolis, where he's always expected to vie for the win? It's probably his not visiting Victory Lane, especially considering it was one of Helio's best-ever seasons in terms of qualifying. His four poles were complemented by the fact he never started worse than fifth through the first 11 races and his average starting spot was a dazzling fourth for 16 races. He lost Long Beach only because of a long pit stop to avoid contact. As for Indianapolis, other than his thrilling duel with RHR in 2014, the three-time winner has not been a factor at IMS the past few Mays but this year was more puzzling because of Chevy's obvious advantage. Finishing seventh and leading only two laps is not what three-time Indy kings are made of and it was the only oval he never really looked like a factor (ht: Racer, Robin Miller)

●    Anything else that we might want to cover - If anyone finds themselves in the Los Angeles area over the holidays, make a special trip to the newly renovated and re-opened Petersen Automotive Museum which resumed operations December 7, 2015.

Named 10 best automotive museums in the world by CNN.

Precious Metal display room at the Petersen Museum. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

The Petersen Automotive Museum



(323) 930-CARS (2277)

Here's hoping that all who happen to follow Verizon IndyCar Series never see a lump of coal and are always thought of by Santa Claus as ... Nice!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Verizon IndyCar Series, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Stefano Colitti, Francesco Dracone, Will Power, Verizon P1 Pole Award, Barber Motorsports Park, Auto Club Speedway, Derrick Walker, Josh Farmer, Championship Racing Radio, Edmund Jenks, Petersen Automotive Museum,

Thursday, November 26, 2015

124 Spider By Fiat Seeks To Recapture Imagination And Space

Welcome the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider with top up.  Image Credit: FCA (2015)

124 Spider By Fiat Seeks To Recapture Imagination And Space

A 2-seat convertible roadster from Fiat was introduced at the LA Auto Show with the aid of the re-imagined platform that had held the lead in this class for decades and fueled the first rung of many racing ladder series efforts ... the Mazda Miata.

In today's vernacular, where millennials mash together two or more names (from people, places, & things) or concepts into one word, the Fiat 124 Spider becomes the Fiata.

This name ... Fiata, has a touch of fun, but ultimately, minimizes the heart and effort to re-establish Fiat back into the American and world motor culture when this proud Italian mark owned the imagination and space of the affordable and stylish 2-seat roadster sports car.

This excerpted and edited from CarScoops -

A Visual Comparison Between The Fiat 124 Spider And The Mazda MX-5
Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Posted by Bogdan Zoltan 

We knew for quite some time that Fiat was prepping to build a small, sporty roadster on Mazda’s ND platform, but we didn’t expect such a divergent result from the original MX-5. 

Even though the new Fiat 124 is technically a Mazda MX-5 with Italian-tailored clothes and a turbocharged engine, it manages to adopt a completely different character than its Nippon counterpart. But how can two cars built at the same plant (at Mazda’s Hiroshima facility) look so different?

2017 Fiat 124 Spider “romantic motoring” rear deck/quarter-panel line, badge, and tail-light are far different than the modern, non-nonsense euro-style of the Miata MX-5.  Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

While the MX-5 appears to be a sharp, driver-focused roadster, the 124 Spider appeals to the forgotten art of “romantic motoring”, centering its existence on driving as a form of delectation, instead of performance. 
The Italians did a pretty good job of (almost) completely masking the original design. 

Fiat’s vision mirrors the original 1974 Sport Spider, especially the later, Pininfarina-marketed Spider Azzura, both designed by the Italian coachbuilder. In fact, the similarities between the two are so striking, it actually seems like Fiat brought the Azzura in the 21st century. 

Fiat’s brand new roadster is on a completely different visual pathway compared to the Mazda’s approach. Even the proportions are somewhat changed on the 124, as it’s a bit longer with more extended overhangs; or at least it looks that way, since its back end isn’t slightly raked and the front end doesn’t slope towards the tarmac like the MX-5’s aggressive, pointy design.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider “romantic motoring” front grille.  Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Mazda’s front end is clean, clear and crisp, with a very unique and original style. Fiat’s front fascia, on the other hand, has a familiar vibe to it (especially the grille), even though you can’t pinpoint where it got it from. It kind of resembles Mini’s current style philosophy, even though we know it’s a very good interpretation of the original Azzura. 
At the back, the Fiat takes a trip down to memory lane once again, almost plagiarizing the Azzura. There’s no doubt the simple, gimmick-free approach, along with the slightly tilted taillights were taken from its ancestor, as the new 124 was sketched as a safe, evolutionary approach to the old car that left its distinctive mark on the US market. 

2017 Fiat 124 Spider side view has the look of a larger, more mature roadster than the 2016 Mazda Miata MX-5. With the top up, a "class effect" is imparted and adds to the sense we are entering a re-newed age of "romantic motoring."  Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

And yes, it looks markedly different than the MX-5, which appears to be at least 10-years younger than the 124 Spider.

In the cabin, things take a 180 degree turn, because there are practically no differences between the two models. Both the 124 Spider and the MX-5 have exactly the same layout and design. In fact, the only major game changer is the badge on the (slightly thicker) steering wheel. Perhaps cash-strapped Fiat couldn't, or wasn't prepared to, fork out for a new interior. 

Fiat’s classic approach may have cleared Mazda’s path and appeal to potential buyers, but its somewhat dated design can still spawn its very own cult of followers.
[Reference Here - Includes Photo Gallery]

In only one small way does the effort feel that Fiat, in its re-purpose of the Mazda Miata MX-5 into the 124 Spider, did not go far enough to differentiate itself from the original platform so as to make the term "Fiata" irrelevant ... like the simple addition of a factory made, integrated snap-on, hard top, for example.

Of course, this becomes a perfect SEMA segment company opportunity for product of the year in Las Vegas come 2016.

... notes from The EDJE

 LA Auto Show - OPEN TO THE PUBLIC//NOVEMBER 20-29, 2015

TAGS: Fiat, 124 Spider, Mazda, Miata, MX-5, Miata MX-5, romatic motoring, Azzura, 2015 LA Auto Show, The EDJE

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Runway Racing Top Speed Challenge Delivers Two World Record Runs & More

Steve Huff of Steve Huff Motorsports posts a second world record top speed run of 1/2 mile 167.0, 1 mile 193.7, and 1.5 mile 202.8 with his 2007 80ci/1,339cc Destination Harley Davidson Buell XBRR. Steve was heard hollering, "Explanation Point!" as he checked in with the starter post run. Image credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Runway Racing Top Speed Challenge Delivers Two World Record Runs & More

Runway Racing Top Speed Challenge, an invitation only straight line racing event, was held during this last weekend in September at Mojave Air and Spaceport, also known as the Civilian Aerospace Test Centre, located in Mojave, California, at an elevation of 2,791 ft. The predicted late afternoon temperature of 99 degrees was met with little wind (flowing from West to East) to aid in pushing the vehicles to even higher marks.

Several recognizable speed organizations showed up to see what could be achieved on the Spaceport runway used by Virgin Galactic/The Spaceship Company, National Test Pilot School, Scaled Composites (which conducted the first privately funded human sub-orbital flight with SpaceShipOne on June 21, 2004), and other aeronautics enterprises located on-premises for testing.

Big Red has it's hood opened for one last visual check before posting fastest run of the Runway Racing Top Speed Challenge event.  Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

The fastest vehicle to post a very high speed was put up by the famed specialty competition 1969 Camaro SS known as Big Red. Big Red is a featured star of a cable TV program aired on NBCSN titled "Big Red - The Original Outlaw Racer" - Mondays and Wednesdays.

Big Red Camaro crew complete with videographer and audio engineer for the NBCSN cable TV program - Big Red - The Original Outlaw Racer - to capture team's reaction to the run. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

A photo posted by Edmund Jenks (@the_edje) on

After taking to the runway track for a few shake-down runs, the parachute outfitted Chevy was able to check-in with a mile and a half speed of 243.5mph. To place this into perspective, the world speed record in an open wheel race car happened during qualifications (Auto Club Speedway) is 241.428mph (388.541 km/h) set by Gil de Ferran, October 28, 2000. This mark stands as the fastest lap speed ever recorded by a racing vehicle at an official sanctioned racing series event meeting (this includes Formula 1).

Steve Huff, piloting the only motorcycle in attendance, made two world record setting top speed runs at the Runway Racing LLC Event held at Mojave Air and Spaceport.

Those gathered at the event witnessed the two run, with Exclamation Point, world record 200 mph barrier breaking runs by Steve Huff Motorsports with his 80ci/1,339cc Destination Harley Davidson Buell XBRR.

The first run, a shakedown run, Steve hit the NOS boost at 3rd gear giving the motorcycle a record run at 200.5mph before 10:00am PT - the second run, after adjustments and applying the NOS boost at 2nd gear gave the Buell-powered, aerodynamically-wrapped bike a pass at 202.8mph, besting the previous run and giving an "EXCLAMATION POINT!" (Steve's term) to all who attended the invitation only Runway Racing Top Speed Challenge event.

In a post first run interview, Steve was most happy with the fact that besting this 200mph hallmark was a milestone for any motorcycle powered by a sub 1500cc size push-rod technology engine (as stated in the interview audio - YouTube included below). “Being the first 80-inch push-rod motorcycle to go over 200mph is something I am really proud of,” said Steve Huff. Those who are familiar with Steve Huff and his multi-year quest of hitting the 200mph mark, know it has been a long hard road of development and fighting through injuries suffered in his unrelenting pursuit.

Steve Huff Motorsports 202.8mph World Record Run & Interview

This excerpted and edited from Steve Huff Motorsports Press Release - 

Huff breaks 200 mph barrier at the Runway Racing LLC event in Mojave, CA last weekend.

Surrounded by blown GT 40's, Porches, Ferraris, GTRs, and the like; Steve Huff Motorsports on the Destination Harley Davidson Buell XBRR executed a top speed at 202.8mph on the 1.5 mile course.Runway Racing LLC put on a great invitational event at Mojave Air and Spaceport.

A Ferrari, 5 liter Mustang, and a Ford GT40 await the go-ahead by the starter to make the long mile and a half plus drive to the Top Speed Challenge runway starting line. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Huff says, “The bike did everything it was supposed to do and we still have room for more.  We came off the trailer with a 200.5mph pass and did our service turn around and backed it up with the 202.8mph pass.”

Steve Huff Motorsports will be attending the rescheduled Mike Cook’s Shootout the second week of October at the Bonneville Salt Flats, giving Huff the opportunities to break the records for AMA 1350APS-PF, AMA 1350APS-PG and FIM World Record.

“We were running into a slight headwind and we used all the gear that we had.  Our sponsor, PBI Sprockets, is sending us another rear sprocket with one less tooth along with new bearings from Worldwide Bearings; should get us to 205mph on the salt and 200 at El Mirage.”  

Huff and the team will be at El Mirage Dry Lake Bed October 17 – 18th for the SCTA event.
(Reference Here)

While the organizers had expected that the limit of 30 invited vehicles to be taking runs at the event, about only 18 vehicles took runs leaving those in attendance with a lot of extra time to look at and investigate the different cars and how they might have been set up.

The pace seemed slow but the action on the runway was anything but ...

Two world record motorcycle runs and a top speed of 243.5 by Big Red to be seen on a NBCSN Cable TV program made for a very fulfilling event.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Runway Racing Top Speed Challenge, Mojave Air and Spaceport, Runway Racing LLC, Top Speed Challenge, Steve Huff, Steve Huff Motorsports, Destination Harley Davidson, NBCSN, Big Red, Big Red - The Original Outlaw Racer, The EDJE

Friday, September 25, 2015

Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance - An Automotive Lifestyle POV

Hood ornament 1937 Cadillac V16 90 Aero-Dynamic Coupe.  Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance - An Automotive Lifestyle POV
By: James Groth, Miles Ahead Communications for The Motorsports-Report

If you ever dreamt of going back in time to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance to experience how things were in the 1950’s, the closest you can expect to come to that era was at the 23rd Palos Verdes Consours d’Elegance. This was the first year for the Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance in their excellent new setting at the Los Verdes Golf Course.

The course provided a wonderful backdrop of the Pacific Coast and a tremendous amount of space allowing for easy viewing and a chance to photograph the cars without spectators in the photo. That only happens at dawn at Pebble Beach and Pebble is ten times the cost Palos Verdes to attend.

Easy viewing on the Los Verdes Golf Course. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

Ferrari South Bay Hospitality Tent ... & friend. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

I also was fine with the off site parking and rapid shuttle service from the Peninsula Shipping Center to the event site compared to parking outside and returning to a car covered in dust. September 20th broke heat records across Southern California with temps at 100 degrees or more, perhaps keeping the crowds down. However, being on the coast with a light breeze it was still comfortable.  

1930 Cadillac Roadster Convertible, Fredrick Law, Malibu, CA.  Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

This year’s theme was “Automotive Standards of the World”. Ferrari was one of the marques being honored along with Cadillac and Darrin.  We were happy to see that Ferrari South Bay had a tented area for their merchandise, where my lady friend found a gift and we enjoyed unique cold drinks. The hospitality was open to all attendees and was appreciated.

For most of us it all about the opportunity to view up close spectacular, rare and sometimes one-of-kind cars of every decade from the first automobiles manufactured. There were an abundance of World Class examples starting with “Brass” from 1898 -1915 to “Cars of Special Interest Pre-1990”, a total of twenty-four classes and about 200 entries.

Ferrari 365 GTC /4. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

Some of the cars displayed were also at Pebble Beach one year or another so the feel and flavor of the event was a bit of a pleasant time capsule for some of us that regularly attend these events. It was no surprise to see the exceptional Fly Yellow 365 GTB Ferrari of LA’s best know car collector, Petersen Checked Flag member Bruce Meyer on display

Ferrari 365 GTB, Bruce Meyer. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

The Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar, CA has a world-renowned collection and showcased some of their Ferrari and Cadillac collection for the event.

1967 Ferrari Spyder California, Nethercutt Collection. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

They also brought what I found to be a most interesting auto, a 1937 Cadillac V16 90 Aero-Dynamic Coupe representing the Cadillac marque at perhaps its pinnacle of style and power with its V16 power plant and dramatic lines.

1937 Cadillac V16 90 Aero-Dynamic Coupe. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

While most of the people entering automobiles are car collectors there was one man who is a car constructor and designer unique in every manner, Gary Wales of Woodland Hills, CA. Gary had on display his La Bestioni #6, built on a fire truck chassis that pays tribute to the grand era of car constructors who took chassis from Bentley, Rolls Royce and many American car companies and created custom car bodies with unique drivetrains. 

La Bestioni #6 - Gary Wales, Woodland Hills, CA. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

Gary is a friend who’s home I have had the pleasure to visit and see first hand where he and his mechanic Andres Aranda build Gary’s creations from scratch. His restoration of the 1947 Bentley Paris show car B 20 BH won over 50 international awards.

Interior, La Bestioni #6 - Gary Wales, Woodland Hills, CA. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

Gary does not just build his cars for show he also competes in races with them.  Gary won the 1984 Great American Race from Universal City to Indy for the 500 in a Boat-tail speedster built from a total wreck. I saw first hand how grueling that race was in 1985 when Jaguar participated with a 1936 SS 100. I had it easy compared to the drivers of cars built prior to 1936. As they struggled with the mountains and heat for ten hours or more, I drove ahead of Jaguar Cars Inc. sponsored team setting up the advance PR and corresponding with CBS radio in the comfort of a new XJ6. To win the Great American Race you and the car have to be equally strong and prepared and Gary certainly is that person.

Prize winning Packard. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

The judges always are challenged at these concours to find a way to determine the award winner’s since all of the entrants are worthy of merit. The winners in my opinion are the entrants for the camaraderie and the overall experience with follow collectors and us attending.

"1950s American Hip" Packard 1953 Caribbean Convertible. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

Perhaps sometimes overlooked is the cause related side of putting on this marvelous event. In this case the proceeds of the 23rd Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance benefit local non-profits via the Palos Verdes Peninsula Rotary Foundation and included the Boy & Girls Club, Palos Verdes Art Center’s disadvantaged children’s programs and the Green Vets Los Angeles.  According to Chairman Ray Johnson the Concours has donated over $670,000 to as of 2014. 

1937 MG VA Tourer, Bob Hanselman, San Marcos. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

Congratulations and thanks to all the entries for the exquisite automotive art on display and to the many sponsors and volunteers for providing a fine way to spend a Sunday afternoon for great causes.

2015 Winners -  23rd Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance >>>

Looking forward to next year’s event on September 18, 2016.

TAGS: Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance, Los Verdes Golf Course, Palos Verdes Peninsula Rotary Foundation, Miles Ahead Communications, James Groth,

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dixon/Ganassi Triple-Down & Double-Up To Wrest Control At The GoPro GP of Sonoma

Chip Ganassi and 2015 Indy Car Champion Scott Dixon in Winners Circle at Sonoma.
(Photo by Ed Jenks)
Race Winner Scott Dixon enters Winners Circle
at Sonoma Raceway 8-30-15. (Photo by Dicken Wear)
Scott Dixon in Winners Circle at Sonoma Raceway
(Photo by Dicken Wear)
Teammates Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball Congratulate 
Scott Dixon on Winning the Indy Car Race and Championship at Sonoma Raceway.
(Photo by Dicken Wear)
Scott Dixon thanks his Engineer Chris Simmons for helping him Win the Race
 and the 2015 Indy Car Championship (Photo by Dicken Wear)
A Very Happy Chip Ganassi with Mike Hull and Scott Dixon.
(Photo by Dicken Wear)
Steve Page with Ganassi Teammates, Charlie Kimball and Scott Dixon
 in the Winners Circle at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by Dicken Wear)
2015 Indy Car Champions, Team Ganassi
at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by Dicken Wear)

Dixon/Ganassi Triple-Down and Double-Up To Wrest Control At The GoPro GP of Sonoma

In the media room, around the paddocks, and campgrounds around Sonoma Raceway at Sears Point, there were speculations as to who would win the Verizon IndyCar Series 2015 season finale race and, due to a double-points award, potentially win the season championship.

At no point in the lead up to this final race was there a story line that included Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, who sat at P3, 47 points behind Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya (JPM), not just winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma ... but further, the 2015 American open-wheel racing championship.

Almost all of the pre-race chatter centered on "just who" had what it would take to get the most points through qualifications, bonus points, and win the race (obviously, Will Power) ... or who had the charge to grab the championship and maybe the race from Penske Racing and JPM (obviously, Graham Rahal).

Scott Dixon, and the PR Department of Target Chip Ganassi Racing were the consummate ghosts. Little was being speculated about in pre-race press releases and interviews from this organization about their chances at the Sonoma Raceway finale and the IndyCar season.

However, at race's end and at post-race press conferences - the floodgates of strategic possibility thinking opened up ... and a few folks were surprised at the final tie-breaking results.

Target Chip Ganassi's race strategist, Mike Hull in the Winner's Circle with race winner and 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Astor Cup winner, Scott Dixon. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Post Race Press Conference:

THE MODERATOR: The mindset going in, [describe] what you needed to accomplish today.

MIKE HULL: I'm sorry, I can only do two things at once. We knew we had to win the race. We knew that before we arrived here. We did get the opportunity to come, IndyCar extended the opportunity with the rule book for us to come here and test two weeks ago. We spent half a day with Scott on the racetrack, and Friday we used all day and we virtually wore the tires out trying to understand what we would need today, and that's what we did today, and we worked on what we call the mechanical balance of the race car to achieve what we achieved today.

It just really is important when you have a driver like Scott as an owner like Chip and people that work for us and a sponsor like Target that you do get the most out of every day, and I think that's what we did today, but it started well before today in terms of having a race-able product.
Q. Mike, a couple of drivers told me it's very difficult to overtake here. Was your strategy before the race built on pit stops to bring Scott to the front?

MIKE HULL: [Mike pulls out a sheet of graph paper - and waves it - with three pitstops noted on it] ... Pit on lap 61, that's what ‑‑ well, we came in on 62, so even we make a mistake.

We wanted it to be a three‑stop race, so what we did was we worked really hard from the very beginning of the weekend to create a three‑stop event for us this weekend, and we knew we had to get to 61. If we could get to 61 as everybody thinned out on the racetrack with the track position gained throughout the stops, we thought we had a chance to win the race. We didn't think it would turn out quite the way it did in terms of we thought there would be two or three other guys there trying to make it hard on us, and at the end it was a little easier than what we thought to be honest about it, but it was still very difficult. I think what you do as a race team when you deal with strategy is you look at what you have. If you know you have a driver and car capable of winning the race, then what you simply do is work for the pit windows that you need to have to achieve something at the front.

But the bottom ‑‑ the denominator is we had to win. We had to win the race.
(ht: VICS)

During the race broadcast on NBCSN, Mike Hull was interviewed at the TCGR pit box immediately after the second round of pitstops where Scott Dixon was able to leap-frog pass from P3 (behind P1 - Will Power and P2 - Josef Newgarden) to the lead of the race on a 6 second timed pit stop - (paraphrased) "All I asked from our pit crew before the race was 18 seconds of work. We train for hours and hours for just this circumstance and I needed for them to give me three pitstops at 6 seconds apiece - two down, one to go!"

Now that's a Triple-Down.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal as he follows TCGR's Tony Kanaan up the drag strip straight after exiting the Carousel turn during the early part of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. 
Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)  

This excerpted and edited from Tribute Racing -

Dixon takes victory and championship after wacky race in Sonoma
By: Josh Farmer - AUGUST 30, 2015

After a two hour Wild West showdown, Scott Dixon eventually emerged as the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion after taking the win in the GoPro Grand Prix at Sonoma Raceway.

Pole sitter Will Power picked up from where he left off in qualifying yesterday as he jumped into an early lead over Josef Newgarden. The drama started early as the leaders made their first pitstops on lap 15. Newgarden came in right behind Power but was blocked by Power’s Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud as stopped right in front of Newgarden. Newgarden sped out through Pagenaud’s pit stall and only lost a small amount of time to Power.

Meanwhile, a few teams including Sebastian Saavedra and Marco Andretti, elected to roll the dice on strategy and stretch their fuel longer than the lead contenders before the lead cycled back around to Power on lap 25.

Penske Racing's Juan Pablo Montoya is running P4 on Lap 9 with Target Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon closing in from P5 to track him down in the Bus Stop complex of turns. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

A yellow flag for Luca Filippi’s throttle failure on lap 33 brought the field down down pit road. At this point, Scott Dixon’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing pit crew saw that it was time to go to put their driver in position to take the championship and performed a trademark Ganassi pitstop to get the Kiwi to the front of the queue.

A number of drivers on an alternate strategy stayed out which put the drivers had been leading the race down the leaderboard. The race would get dramatic as Juan Montoya rear ended Power, damaging his front wing and bringing out a yellow while Tony Kanaan would take the lead.

Kanaan held the lead on the restart but the same strategy that put him in the lead took him out of it when he pitted on lap 51, which handed the lead over to Dixon.

With Montoya burried in the field, Dixon assumed the points lead and would need a clean final pitstop and no mistakes on the track. On lap 63, the crew did exactly that and was perfect while his closest rival Newgarden stalled on pit road, taking him out of contention.

With Dixon up front, Montoya’s efforts were beginning to shrink but drama involving his season long championship rival, Graham Rahal.

Rahal had been struggling to find the handle on his car for much of the day but found himself in seventh place, his hopes still alive.

His hopes came to an end when Sebastien Bourdais rear ended him at the end of the dragstrip and spun him out. With Rahal out if the picture and Bourdais assesed a penalty for avoidable contact, Montoya soon found himself in a tiebreaker scenario with Dixon.

He would still need to pass one more car to get the points lead: Ryan Briscoe.

Montoya’s black tires would seem to prove better than Briscoe’s red tires and he chopped a few tenths a lap off his lead while Dixon was smooth sailing up front.

Dixon crossed the line 6.1115 ahead of Ryan Hunter Reay and it was enough to take the championship as Montoya couldn’t get to Briscoe.
Hunter-Reay claimed his second straight podium while Charlie Kimball capped of the season with his third podium of the year.

Tony Kanaan claimed fourth and Ryan Briscoe completed his fill in duties for James Hinchcliffe with a fifth place finish.

Montoya would have to settle for second in the championship, followed by teammate Power and Rahal, who entered the race second in points. Helio Castroneves made it three Penske cars in the top five. A strong end to the season lifted Ryan Hunter-Reay to sixth in the standings while Josef Newgarden’s pit miscue dropped him to seventh in points.
(Reference Here)

The transporter for Penske Racing's Juan Pablo Montoya was located right across from the garage station of Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon. Here, Montoya is sitting on the stoop, watching the garage across the way (see reflection in mirrored door behind JPM). Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Sour grapes flooded the wine country racetrack's paddock area with the talk about the influence of having this race be awarded with twice the number of points given out for the results of the season finale race.

This excerpted and edited from STUFF -

IndyCar runner-up Juan Pablo Montoya questions Scott Dixon's series triumph
By: - Last updated 11:20, September 1 2015

IndyCar series runner-up Juan Pablo Montoya has questioned whether Scott Dixon was a deserved winner, saying the Kiwi had a "s**t" season.

Montoya was furious the crucial final race at Sonoma on Monday carried double points.

Dixon won, and his Colombian rival finished sixth at Sonoma, so lost the championship on countback [tie-breaker] after leading all season.

Montoya did not take it in good humour, lashing out at the post-race press conference.

"Dixon had a s**t season all year and had one good race, and we paid the penalty."

Montoya wants the double-points system reconsidered, though he holds little hope that it will be changed.

"We'll see if they [IndyCar] change it, but they like the excitement for the last race," he said.

"Is it fair? No, but we go into the last race of the year knowing it's a double‑points race.

"Is it fair for a normal championship? No, it's not fair, but it's the rules they want to play with, and if you don't like the rules, don't race."
"It sucks, but when you make the last race double-points on a road course and you change the tyre and you do everything you did for this weekend and you put so many variables, it doesn't even matter what you do all year."

Dixon, who was one of six drivers still in with a title chance, won the 2003, 2008 and 2013 series.

He has finished runner-up in the series twice and has been third four times in a 13-year IndyCar career.


Actual championship standings

1 Dixon 556
2 Montoya 556
3 Power 493

Standings without double score for Sonoma

1 Montoya 528
2 Dixon 506
3 Rahal 478

Standings with no double scores at all *

1 Montoya 478
2 Dixon 474
3 Rahal 448

* Montoya got double points for winning the Indianapolis 500
(Reference Here)

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal had a season for the ages. Driving the troubled Honda-powered and aerodynamically outfitted Steak 'N Shake Dallara, he entered the race just 34 points behind Juan Pablo Montoya in P2 and finished P4 in the season championship after his car was pushed off of the track by four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais. Here, Rahal finishes the Bus Stop complex of turns on his way to finishing P4 in the VICS championship. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

For Graham Rahal's part, he agrees with JPM on the assessment about double points being awarded for any race (from post-race transcript):

Q. Graham, Juan came in here and not a fan of the double points. He was not, at least. But aside from that, how do you think the championship from that standpoint is going?  Should they drop them from Indy or keep them just at Indy and drop them from the end?

GRAHAM RAHAL: I don't think any race should have double points.

Q. What about the double‑header part?

GRAHAM RAHAL: Those are two races. Just like Indy, why there's points for qualifying is stupid. I know what they're trying to do, trying to make it more interesting, trying to get everybody ‑‑ but everybody is already hanging out on the line, and all you're doing is benefiting the big teams. Like for instance, us, it killed us this year. Definitely is not to our advantage.

Obviously there's two sides to me here on this weekend because obviously if it had been single points or normal points, I'd have been in trouble. I think it made it interesting, you know, at the end. If I look, I finished fourth. If I'd finished one more position up, I think I would have tied Power for third and fourth, and obviously the No. 1 and 2 tied, and I think we would have beat Power on a head‑to‑head on a tiebreaker, I think. But it was interesting.

However, I don't think any race should be valued above another. I know people will say the Indy 500 should, but I think every race is equally important if you're looking at a championship. Anyway, just my take.

Just like we tried the double‑file restarts and all that stuff. We don't need gimmicks in this sport to make it exciting I don't think.
(ht: VICS)

The No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda Dallara driven by soon to be 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Rookie-Of-The-Year Gabby Chaves as it negotiates the Bus Stop complex of corners (with wheel up) at Sonoma Raceway during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma season finale race. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Besides that it was a great day for Scott Dixon and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship, it was also a great day for Bryan Herta Autosport and their rookie Mazda Ladder Series driver, Gabby Chaves.

Post Race Press Conference:

GABBY CHAVES (No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins / Curb Honda): "It was a very eventful race for us. We barely made it to the start.

Actually we didn't even make the starting grid, so we started about half a lap back. We had a battery problem so that was unfortunate. We think we had the right strategy and had the right pace, but once we started being it was just like we didn't really know where to go and it was hard to get rhythm behind other cars that we were much faster than.

Twice we got caught out by a yellow flag, right as we were pitting and had to bail out from pitting. We obviously lost position trying to do that and screwed up our strategy.

It was just a rough day all around, but I think our pace is good and we have to work on a few things.

I am happy with the way our Bryan Herta Autosport team worked out this year and we couldn't do it without our sponsors, Bowers & Wilkins, Castrol Edge, Deltro Electric,, and of course having Honda in our car. It was a fun season and I look forward to what 2016 has to bring." (ht: VICS)

Scott Dixon signs a hat during the post race - post championship press conference.
 Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Post Race Press Conference:

Q. You made both championship, first Champ Car and then IndyCar later on when it was founded. Is there anything in those championships from the technology point of view, you're very impressed, aero package, engine, whatever?

CHIP GANASSI: Well, I mean, all of it is. It's a matter of ‑‑ I think from our point of view, we're just the race team. I mean, we look at the rule book, this guy to my right and I, you look at the rule book each year and you figure out what the rules are, and you go out and try to win races with what the sanctioning body gives you, what the drivers give you, what the engine manufacturers give you, what the tires give you. You've got all these sort of inputs and you've got to take all those sort of inputs and you have to make something of it, and whoever makes the best of that package, whatever it is, is going to be the champion at the end of the year. And that's how it's been for every championship.

Each one ‑‑ none are the same. None of the championships are the same because the rules are different, a little different each year. The points systems are different. You know, the technology is different. We've done it with different engine packages, we've done it with different tires, we've done it with different cars and we've done it with different drivers.

My hat's off to Mike here on my right for putting the team together so many times over the years that just takes all these inputs that you have from different constituencies in the sport. In actual fact we have very little control ‑‑ teams have no control over the sanctioning body, we have no control over the rules, we have no control over the engines, we have no control over the tires.

We give our opinion, but I think rarely ‑‑ if we give our opinion, they do the opposite, you know. But it's just a matter of taking all those things that they give you and putting them in a ‑‑ I refer to it as baking the pie.

You put all those ingredients together and you put it in the oven and at the beginning of the season. You hope at the end of the season the pie comes out good, and fortunately it did here today.
(ht: VICS)

What a fitting end to an arguable Top 5 best ever competitive season, in the history of American open-wheel racing championship seasons.

With a "Triple-Down" strategy on 6 second pitstops combined with a "Double-Up" on awarded race points for bonuses and finishing place, we are able to crown and add a rare 4-Time open-wheel series champion through a tie-breaker, based on winning three races, during this 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship season.

BRAVO ... that was one great pie!

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, Scott Dixon, Sonoma Raceway, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Mike Hull, Chip Ganassi, Chris Simmons, Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power, Graham Rahal, Penske Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, The EDJE, Dicken Wear, The Motorsports Report,

Josh Farmer, STUFF,