American F1 team formed; locals prepare to hit the track |

American F1 team formed; locals prepare to hit the track

Roger Diez

This week’s big news is the announcement of the formation of an American Formula 1 team. Briton Peter Windsor (the Energizer Bunny of SPEED TV’s Formula 1 coverage) and American Ken Anderson are the principals in the new team, which will use American technology and drivers to compete in F1 in 2010. The team is currently named USF1 and is based in Charlotte, N.C. They will have a satellite operation in Europe as well.

Windsor is not only a TV commentator, but a former team manager for the Williams F1 organization. His title with USF1 is sporting director. Anderson will be technical director with the new team, a position he held with the Ligier F1 team in the 1980s.

The partners feel that this is an ideal time to field a new team, as Formula 1’s new cost-cutting regulations greatly reduce the capital needed. They have financing plans in place, which do not include a major auto manufacturer or a multi-billionaire “angel.” They have not yet chosen an engine supplier, nor have they selected drivers, although the names of Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick, Scott Speed and A.J. Allmendinger have been mentioned as possibilities.

If I were in management at Richard Petty Motorsports, I would get Allmendinger signed to a multi-year contract and get him a full-time schedule before he has ideas of going back to open-wheel. Speed appears to be locked in with Red Bull, and both drivers are now competing in the most successful series in motorsports. Indycar drivers Andretti and Patrick, on the other hand, are more likely to suffer the adverse effects of the sour economy. Scarce sponsor dollars are gravitating toward NASCAR, and Indycar owner Tony George, who has been subsidizing teams for years, must be running low on spare cash by now. Marco’s view of F1 may be affected by his father Michael’s disastrous year in the sport in the early 90s, although grandfather Mario did quite well 30 years ago, winning the F1 driving championship for Lotus.

The NASCAR circus is in Las Vegas this weekend, giving the Cirque de Soleil a run for the title of wildest show in town. Matt Kenseth will be attempting to make history as the first driver in NASCAR to win the first three races of the season, after becoming only the fourth driver to win the first two. And my December prediction of reduced fields for the 2009 season seems to have been a bit off the mark, as there are 51 drivers attempting to qualify for the Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. As I mentioned last week, the closing of Bill Davis Racing as well as the mergers of DEI with Ganassi Racing and Gillett-Evernham with Petty Enterprises have provided equipment and personnel to a number of startup teams. I guess it’s the silver lining in the cloud. By the time you read this, the eight cars that didn’t make the field will be on their way home or heading for Atlanta for next week’s race.

Local racing activity starts up next weekend, with a play days for Dwarf cars at Thunder Bowl Speedway in Mound House on Saturday, March 7, March 14, and March 21. TT motorcycles and quads have a play day Saturday, March 28. Gates open at 11 a.m., and the events are free to spectators. Sunday, March 29 will be the first test and tune for Stock Car and Modified classes at Reno-Fernley Raceway. For more information call Ed Brandenburg at Thunder Bowl Speedway, 775-450-7167, or Rob Daly at Reno-Fernley Raceway, 775-291-8908.

In the Red Bluff winter series, area Outlaw Kart racers current point standings are as follows: 250cc class – Mason Millard 4th, Tanner Thorson 8th, Zachary Heinz 15th, and Samantha Schultz 24th. Open class – Daniel Thorson 16th, Cameron Millard 22nd, Chris Rytting 23rd, and Mackena Bell 30th.

Finally, there is some sad news from the local racing scene. Joe Ross, also known as Joe the Chromer, passed away last week. He was a fan of racing and a long-time sponsor and supporter of Mackena and Kellcy Bell. A memorial service for Ross will be held this afternoon at 3 p.m. at Fitzhenry’s Funeral Home.