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  • Inside Inside Jul 11, 2008 21:06 Flag

    Franchitti to F1 in '09?

    This time last year Dario Franchitti was on his way to winning the IRL World Championship. In '07 he won the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" the Indy 500 and was on the top of a very small pile.

    Or another way of putting it THE KING of a very small country. Except for INDY attendance was poor, ecept for winning the Indy 500 and very few blue sponsors.

    So having done all he could do he made the jump with owner Chip Gannassi to NASCAR. (Gannassi already having a couple of teams in NASCAR). DF was going to be a third team, which pretty much has turned out to be like a 5th wheel.

    Like every open wheeler before him, he struggled. Not to say that DF would not become a world standard driver in the big show, but lack of performance, sponsor $, caused Ganassi to close up shop on DF's team and dream.

    DF will race in the Nationwide Series for Ganassi in Chicago, but he really wants to run with the big boys.

    With the IRL/Champ Car merger huge blue chip sponsors are jumping on board and maybe the increase in $, great competition and huge national tv contract will hold DF's interest once again. Add to the equation the turbo-charged engine possibly being reintroduced into the IRL, which opens the door to 5 or 6 other major manufactures and the revenue opportunities will increase.

    I think the fact that he's Scottish, growing up in the world of F1, so to speak, a great open wheel driver, with deep roots in other open wheel series, the move would not be all that foreign to him. (Driving an F1 car, not culturally speaking.)

    It is highly unlikely that Ganassi will be able to fund another team properly for DF to be competitive. Corporate America has not experienced or seen great results from the open wheel crew in NASCAR. (Sam Hornish, Patrict Carpantier(sp?) and even JPM has a bit of an uphill climb).

    Plus there is a great deal of uncertainty in our economy and NASCAR is going to have to pull in it's belt, there is little or no room for under-achievers and that is clearly the latest round of open wheelers that have made the jump. What I mean by that is the unrealistic expectation that because a driver is a World Champion in one form of racing, he should be right there with the best of the best in another series. Don't work that way.

    So now the IRL has gotten this huge shot in the arm, look for the possible return of last years defections. And they will have no trouble finding great rides.

    So why DF to F1, well in addition to returning to a world he is comfortable in, his wife, Ashley Judd, is more the champagne/bubbly type then the beer can queen. Why NASCAR then, she is a C&W artist, good for sales, us redneck, beer drinkers.

    Suffering severly from delussions of grandure and an I'm better than you are complex, at any price it's doubtful that the Queen will make her return to the IRL. Being the duty bound hubby, DF will follow, at least he has in the past.

    The biggest disadvantage in F1 is not enough racing. By that I mean former open wheelers that have made the jump to NASCAR is they can race as much as they like, (37 NASCAR races plus 35 Nationwide races, plus Craftsman Truck series) and race car drivers love to race.

    Word on the street is, some (more than 1 team) boys from across the pond have invited DF to come play.

    My guess is he will at least test and my money is still on hold as to the jump is actually made to F1. But he sure has the credentials and the capability to do it.

    Will see what the summer holds.

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    • Never happen, BECAUSE he is scottish, and there would be no way, a scotsman would dip in his own pocket to race, when there will be plenty of paid drives, as for ashley, she won't want him spending the bubbly money so HE can enjoy himself....LOL.

    • I get the idea, thanks, SA
      On p44 & no more questions yet :o)

    • PB, NASCAR has made a real effort, even though that it's a bit different then your Concord Agreement.

      The Top 35 cars in the points standing from the prior year are automatically in the 1st 5 races of the new season, plus past champion provisions etc.

      After those 5 races its the current top 35 that get the free pass plus all unsed provisionals.

      NASCAR also works closely with providing opportunities w/NASCAR sponsors and teams and drivers.

      Not nearly the same, but that's NASCAR's way. NASCAR feels like if they mandated the Top 43 must run, that would leave little or no room for anyone who didn't run the year before. It does assure that the fans know they will see, for the most part, their favorite drivers each week.

      The other thing that keeps teams on the line are their sponsorship agreements. For the most part, sponsor $ are prorated by races. Don't qualify or don't show up they get some payment relief.

      Kinda like no work...no eat.

      Right now both ways seem like they work, but honestly I like the F1 method better. You always know where you stand and who owns what. Not that you have to agree with who owns what, but at least you know.

      NASCAR is forever famous in changing rules during the season to further their own causes or profits as the case might be.

    • Many thanks, SA. Yes that was exactly what I meant.

      It sounds pretty much like the set-up F1 had prior to Bernie`s Concorde Agreements.
      One reason the CA`s came into existence was the very fact that teams used to turn up &, subsequently, find they weren`t paid.
      On the other side of the coin spectators would turn up & find a team wasn`t there.
      The contracts made that impossible other than for reasons of force majeure.... going bust being one of those.

    • PB, sorry to have missed your post yesterday, but last night was a very full race night. Both NASCAR and the IRL were racing. I tivo'd the IRL and watched NASCAR in Chicago, then watch a rain shortened IRL race.

      To your question, I think I understand. There are really two parts to the question: "...teams over there could opt in & out."

      1) Most racing in the US is a pay as you go proposition. The only thing that keeps a car entered is funding and prize money.

      In order to be elgible for year end money a Team must compete during all races in the series. Which means if they fail to qualify there pretty much out of the hunt.

      However there are several other bonuses available so teams can a restricted or limited schedule and still qualify for those bonuses.

      2) Funding determines a lot. In the PCM deal they just have run out of money. They actually started at INDY. There for a full month of prep and trials, a lot of money for that month. If you make the 33 car field I think this year a team was guaranteed a minimum of around $250,000. If not your taking the hicky.

      But as far as anything other than an organized schedule of dates and locations there is no contracts between teams and the series. Show up to qualify, good luck. Don't show up, the race will go on, someone else will fill the position, see you when we see you attitude.

      Example, Ganassi shuts down DF and his team, they were out of Chicago, last night. If a sponsor popped back around they could go racing again.

      Pretty much the same for the IRL boys.However, it is going to take a couple of years before qualifying is for more than just track position. 33 car limit 22-26 teams at the most right now.

      Close as I can tell, F1 is closer to baseball or football. Players have contracts with teams, teams have contracts with their leagues, the leagues have contracts with tv, sponsors, etc.

      Now teams and players all can have sponsors on their own and many teams also have additional tv contracts, but by in large you know there will be a game in Dallas on this specific date and the Dallas Cowboys will be playing the St. Louis Rams.

      Hope this answered your question.

    • Ok I get that, thanks, SA.
      Much as it used to be back when qualifying really was qualifying in F1.

      I think you misunderstood what I was asking, though.
      F1 teams are contracted (by the Concorde Agreements) to appear at every event. They can`t pick & choose which races they enter.
      My PCM question was from reading p.8 "This just in". It made me wonder if it was different in the US series & the teams over there could opt in & out.
      Apologies I wasn`t more clear first time around.

    • Actually teams enter to qualify. Except at the INDY 500 where starters are limited to 33, pretty much they don't turn you away in the IRL, so long as you have the proper licenses.

      NASCAR takes 43 starters and there are always more qualifiers then there are places. The top 35 drivers in the points race have a pass into the field, however the must start where they qualified or fill the spot of the driver they bumped. So however many qualifiers there are over 35 race for 8 spots.

      No there not contracted to race with the tracks. In NASCAR it's all based on car numbers and they are owned by the team, so if a driver is hurt or injured the team can put in a provisional driver. The team gets points but if the regular driver does not take the green flag and complete one full lap he does not get the points.

    • Yea, I`ve started reading it & ..... so far..... I understand what I`m reading so there`s hope, eh? :o)

      One question has cropped up, though (Can I hear the groans from here?).
      It seems like the teams can dip in & out - "PCM takes a breather".
      I guess they aren`t contracted to appear for whole seasons, or indeed years, like F1 teams are? Is it all on an individual entry basis?

    • No there is some cool stuff like imbedded footage. You can click on a picture and see live footage, interviews, graphics.

      Not a techy deal more of a fan look.

    • Oooo, OK, thanks, SA.
      I`ll start brushing up :o)
      You may regret it, though. I`ll probably come up with loads more dumb questions! ;-)

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