Sunday, February 18, 2007

Volume 32 - It's Finally Race Day

As I watch the Daytona 500, although it’s 17 degrees with another 4” of snow from last night and from the outside of my windows the view is Antarctica, I realize that Spring is somewhere ‘around the corner’. Five crew chiefs suspended for cheating, 'comments' from a distinguished car owner, the entry of Toyota into the Nextel Cup Series, the saga of DEI, and the likes of Juan Pablo Montoya. Great upcoming season is upon us!

From the business angle, one of the most prestigous car owners, Jack Roush, just sold 50% of Roush racing to Boston Red Sox owner, John Henry, head of Fenway Investment Group to form Roush Fenway Racing to "raise more money to race." This move will also certainly line the pockets of Jack personally, and will draw tremendous funds into the developmental side of racing. Don’t be surprised if this turns out to be the first IPO for the racing industry. Isn’t Capitalism great! I certainly think so, and it is one more reason why it was such a surprise to hear Jack Roush complain again about the entry of Toyota into the Nextel Cup Series.

Roush, the loudest critic of NASCAR’s decision to allow the Japanese automaker to enter the Nextel Cup series this season, has stated such idiotic statements as 'Americans shouldn’t buy foreign cars because it hurts the economy.' Another example why an engineer should stay within his world of expertise, pocket his money, create great racing endeavors, but certainly keep stupid remarks to himself. Jack, for the record, your Ford Fusions as well as the Dodge Chargers are made in Mexico; the Chevy Monte Carlo’s are made in Canada; and therefore, the only American made car in the Daytona 500 is the Toyota Camry, made in Kentucky!

The entry of Toyota has certainly created more pressure to break the rules; five crew chiefs suspended, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and certainly some embarrassment for Toyota as a manufacturer. After millions of dollars into this venture, Toyota had better reconsider who is in charge of development and factory assistance both in operations as well as marketing. Only 4 of 8 cars into the big race with controversy surrounding them doesn't bode well with those results. Sponsorship of the two ‘Red Bull Teams’ should also be screaming bloody murder with neither car being able to qualify. Without some strong leadership infusion into this project, Toyota will face a very long disappointing year.

The drama continues with DEI, Stepmother with ‘Star’ son; but doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Junior will win this messy battle for control. Dale Jr. will do it himself with his own team or, more likely, it will be someone like RCR who will help Junior, with his own team development, as well as pay this talent a super figure that will lead to a Cup championship.

The new talent base of NASCAR is one of it’s greatest assets so, with the addition of individual like Juan Pablo Montoya and other open-wheeled athletes, this is going to be a great season; can’t wait to have a few ‘brews’ with friends of mine at the track!