Time to start offseason musings
November 29, 2014
Well, the 2014 racing season is over, and it has put me in a literary mood. It's a long way until the 2015 season opens at Daytona, and to quote the Bard, William Shakespeare, "This is the winter of our discontent." At least that's true for me, and probably for most ardent race fans. So until the next season starts, I'll be addressing things like Christmas gift suggestions for racers and fans, profiles of local racers, and speculation on what 2015 will bring.
To continue in the literary vein, the Formula 1 finale at Abu Dhabi reminded me of a famous quote from poet T.S. Eliot, "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper." What everyone expected would be a knock-down, drag-out fight between the two Mercedes teammates evaporated at the start, as Lewis Hamilton rocketed away from pole sitter Nico Rosberg. Then, in an almost mirror-image replay of the season opener in Australia, Rosberg had problems with his energy recovery system and began falling backwards through the field while Hamilton dominated the day. Rosberg won in Australia while Hamilton finished out of the points. The situation was completely reversed at Abu Dhabi, and Hamilton stretched his 17 point lead coming into the race to 67 at the finish. Hamilton became the first British citizen in 43 years to score two world titles, since Sir Jackie Stewart notched his second championship, driving a Tyrell. Hamilton has also won more F1 races than any British driver, surpassing Nigel Mansell this season.
Mercedes is anxious to retain Hamilton, and he has said he plans to be with the team for the long term. But it's going to cost Mercedes. Reliable rumor has it Lewis is asking for a $100,000,000 salary for 2015, and he has an excellent chance of getting it. Add that to endorsements, and you're talking some real money! And as a resident of low-tax Monaco, he'll get to hang on to most of it (unless girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger wants a really big engagement ring!
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I recently caught an interesting race on ESPN. It was the Formula E event from Malaysia, featuring electric-powered single-seat race cars. Looking a bit like GP3 cars, with a lobster-claw front wing covering the front of the tires, these cars are capable of under 3 second 0-60 miles per hour times and 140-plus miles per hour speeds. The race featured a number of familiar names in the cockpits, many of them former Formula 1 and IndyCar drivers. Nelson Piquet Jr., Nick Heidfeld, and Karun Bruno Senna from F1, Oriel Servia and Katherine Legge from IndyCar, and a number of others. The racing was excellent, although there were several crashes and the safety car was deployed at one point. An interesting twist is that each driver has two cars, because the batteries won't carry the car the whole race distance. So instead of the lengthy process of changing batteries, the driver simply leaps from the first car into the second one, straps in, and continues the race. Is this the future of racing? If so, perhaps we'll see a Tesla Formula 1 team based in northern Nevada!
Fernley 95A Speedway held their annual awards dinner at the track last Saturday. In addition to the competitor awards and staff presents, the track did something I've never seen in my 45 years of involvement in racing. Seven loyal fans received plaques of appreciation for their dedication in attending every race and being the first ones in the stands on a given Saturday night. Congratulations to Don and Sharron Bailey, Frank Garnick and Joanne Cornell, Andy Scott and Kristen Newman, and Mark Erickson. And although the weather for the celebration could have been a bit more pleasant, track owner Dan Simpson announced that next year's awards celebration would take place the day after the final points race in September, ensuring warmer temperatures.
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