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February 18, 2012

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Patrick Head

This is just bullshit. I know that IndyCar didn't plan this engine shortage, but still, as you have stated, shunning Sarah Fisher? REALLY?

I wonder if just until Lotus can come up with enough engines, the series could allow last years engines or something?

Also, I REALLY do not get the "we committed to 10, and don't have the money for 11 (or 20 even)." I probably just don't understand the economics of these current racing engine programs, but it seems to me that adding additional engines would actually reduce the cost of each engine. You know, economies of scale, etc. Usually, for development programs, it's all the engineering, testing, tooling, etc. that makes up the bulk of the costs. It might take $10 to build the first of anything, only a $1 a piece thereafter. And, yes, the manufacturers would have to support additional engines, but once again, the bulk of the support system is already in place, and adding a person or so (at $650,000 per year) should be manageable.

I just don't get it. Maybe it really does cost more than $650,000 per engine to produce just one, and each additional engine still costs more than this figure, but I can't possibly imagine this to be true.

Anyway, I'm sorry for the long ... well question really.

GO Sarah!!! Go SFHR!!! And, IndyCar get off your collective butts and get Sarah an engine, LAST week, not 5 minutes before the first race.

This is one fan that is REALLY not going to be happy if Sarah can't contend for the whole season, especially considering that her driver is THE guy from the ladder/scholarship program. THAT part really doesn't make sense.

Rob

While I see this as an opportunity for a profanity laced rage against Indycar and Lotus, instead I will contain myself and say this (stern voice): Indycar, get it taken care of. Sarah deserves better. Her fans deserve better. It's in your own best interests to get it done.

redcar

I realize there's a lot going on in Indycar right now, but getting SF and JN an engine --for all the reasons you listed, P-Dog, should be the number one priority of Randy Bernard. And sooner rather than later.

Dylan

And people question why some of us (myself, for instance) are critical of Indycar? It's really concerning that a team with an American Indy Lights champion, a win last year, and a popular owner (three rare things in Indycar) cannot get an engine. Pretty sad. No wonder NASCAR get's more drivers and sponsors...

DZ

Pressdog, again you've illuminated concisely what many of us are working through in our methanol-addled brains.

Rob, I like your approach. I will also submit the next phase for consideration - if an engine isn't available for Sarah for St. Pete... Vesuvian eruptions of displeasure seem both appropriate and justified (to whom they should be directed is up for debate, but the fans' voice needs to be heard clearly on this one).

I don't consider myself someone who succumbs to the Indycar hysteria du jour, yet for all the lucid points above, I can't help but feel some serious Indycar angst over this.

It may not make one iota of difference due to the facts of the case, etc... but for fans of the sport and especially fans of Sarah Fisher and her family/team, SOMEONE needs to do SOMETHING to correct this.

This also reminds of that tired old adage 'life is not always fair'.

Boy, ain't that the truth, and it seems Sarah's had enough of that for 4 careers already.

Martin Sovik

Nice piece, Bill.

One quibble, though. Shirley Muldowney always seems to get omitted from the "Mount Rushmore list." Wrongly, I think. Check out her record: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Muldowney

Martin

Rob

DZ
As they say, they ball is in Indycar's court. If they get an engine for SFHR before the first race, great. I'm not going to applaud them (Indycar) for doing what should have already been done. If they don't however, then yes, fans (you, me, P-dog, and everyone else) should very loudly voice our displeasure with this situation.

pressdog

Good quibble, Martin. I was thinking "female open-wheel drivers" when I wrote that so I have amended. For drag racers, Cha-Cha probably has the mountain to herself.

Mark Wilkinson (@newtrackrecord)

Not much I can add to what has already been written. I simply wanted to concur that this is exactly what IndyCar does NOT need to happen to an owner and driver who the series needs on the grid. I assume that we are not telling RB and his brain trust anything they do not already know. FUBAR and, since it's what we've come to expect from IndyCar, SUSFU, too.

DZ

Rob,
It's a complicated bit of wrangling with a seemingly simple solution.

The problem with a mass vent is that it has no real direction other than 'out there' on the internet basically.

I'm certain I have nothing but abt 1.5% of all the information needed to understand all the whys and wherefores, but it ultimately becomes a "group problem". Individually, everyone may be well within their rights and abiding by all contracts etc, etc, but the net result is beginning to appear horribly bad for everyone involved.

As much as I am excited at the prospect of Lotus as the underdog and resident script-flipper, I'm also beginning to see them as the one with the "most blame" thus far, yet understand the cause of delays from their massive organizational upheaval and 'lawyerin' over true ownership of the team and companies.

A brief (yet still damned confusin') summary of Lotus legal battle last year:
http://www.autoweek.com/article/20110527/F1/110529831

A brief (yet still damned confusin') graphic of the Lotus racing heritage:
http://jalopnik.com/5750992/the-tangled-paternity-of-lotus-racing-simplified?tag=formulaone

More about Lotus paternity stuff:
http://jalopnik.com/5856533/lotus-is-the-new-lotus

While there is no direct mention of Indycar, all of this relates and the outcome is similar for Indycar teams with Lotus branding this year. No green and yellow Lotii will exist and the reason their branding has been black and gold.

Surely confusion will reign for months in Indycar for even the most die-hard of racing fan but all of this gives an insight to just how nutso everything has been at Lotus and also over there at Lotus... :p (phew)

DZ

... oh and finally, the reason I mention all that Lotus stuff is because I don't see an outcome currently where Sarah gets Chevy or Honda. I hope I'm wrong, but like the magic 8-ball says, "outlook not so good".

*ends rant, takes nap*

Marty

There have to be spare engines somewhere. I doubt there is only one engine per driver. If that is the case, it is really stupid.

Can't one of the teams with a bunch of drivers like Ganassi, Penske, or Andretti loan one of their engines to Sarah's team? It is doubtful that a team of 3-4 drivers will need 3-4 backup engines every weekend. What are the chances of everyone having their engine grenade during a weekend?

Jack Squat

Sarah will make a great NASCAR owner one day.

She should tell the ICS to kiss her ass (even though she is not like that) and take her team to NASCAR to join just about everyone else of note from AOW backgrounds who is already there.

Leave the ICS to the F1 flunkees and wannabee's, lame-ass street races and .6 ratings and jump into the big leagues of American racing. With so few American drivers in the ICS, its not like anyone is going to be watching this mess anytime soon anyway. Maybe they can replace her team at Indy with a 7th entry from KV Racing with some no-name from Bangladesh to fill the field.

Simply put, the IC Series doesn't deserve Sarah Fisher.

And e-mailing Randy isn't going to make any difference. He has no power in this deal. The engine companies and car owners have him and the sport by the balls now. He is just doing whatever they tell him to do. I am sure he knows this is a horrible deal and its awful PR for the sport (even if they find SRHR a lease by St. Pete it still looks awful it got to this point in the first place) but what is he going to do? Tell the engine folks what to do? Hell yea, he will. Its CART 2 baby! And Randy is the new Bill Stokkan.

TJ

I'm sorry she doesn't have an engine,
but yelling at Randy won't change the fact that this problem was caused by Sarah herself.
She was offered a Lotus engine in January,
but declined it (hoping for a Chevy or Honda).
This screw up seems to be ignored by her hysterical fans, who are pointing their fingers (and shaking their fists) at everyone except the person responsible--Sarah Fisher.

pressdog

Hard to ignore what you've never heard before, TJ. How do we know you're not just making it up? Link? Source?

Balls Out

Sorry TJ, but you are plain wrong.

So if Sarah takes that LOTUS deal in January, would they have an engine in their car right now? The answer is NO. There is only one working LOTUS engine. ONE. Sarah would have done the same number of test laps with a LOTUS contract as she has done so far with no contract. NONE.

And the ONLY teams working with LOTUS are being compensated to do so. Would Fisher be a "factory" team like HVM or Herta is? Nope. Hence them not taking that "deal".

So, they'd be going it alone with a clearly inferior engine and a rookie driver. Good luck making the Indy 500 (which is the only reason SFHR exists in the first place) with that combo.

The "screwup" was made by Honda and Chevy not owning up to the agreement they made to furnish 40% of the field. 40% of 30, is 12. Neither one have 12 full-time entries yet. Fisher rightfully so thinks her team should be able to get into one of those available slots.

And LOTUS is so far behind, they are nowhere close to fielding their % of cars.

Don't blame Sarah and Andy for being good business-folks. They are the last ones that should be blamed for this mess.

TJ

Pressdog:
My source is a post on TrackForum. He received his info from an email by Randy Bernard.

Balls Out:
The Lotus engine program is running behind.
However, they expect to have engines available for their teams at St. Pete.
If Sarah had signed, she would be one of those teams. Because of that, she bears some of the blame (along with Lotus).

Honda and Chevy are not the villains here.
They agreed to supply a minimum of 20% and a maximum of 40% of the engines. They have met their contract requirements, and are working to increase the number of engines to cover Lotus's shortfall.

I hope that SFHR receive a Chevy (or Honda) engine, but they need to be realistic. They knew the risks when they decided not to sign with Lotus.


Ron Ford

It's gotta be true if it was posted on TrackForum.

Simona Fan

While I've read all the posts from Oilpressure, Robin Miller, and here, I have to admit I haven't seen any solutions proposed. Yes, it's a bad situation, but sometimes bad situations happen. When you're talking about a manufacturing program that has been put in place over a year ago, you're talking about several long lead-time items. As someone who works in manufacturing multi-million dollar vehicles, I can tell you that you don't just "decide" to produce more with a couple of month's notice. Sometimes you can do it, but you need to get creative and often it's much more expensive.

I'd like to see some creative solutions here rather than a bunch of foot stomping, "INDYCAR needs to fix this!", tantrums. This situation was caused by a confluence of two unexpected events; the failure of Lotus to get to 10 (probably should have been anticipated) and the excessive amount of funded teams that need engines (which no one saw coming.).

Maybe they can take a test engine and rebuild it for Sarah. Maybe they can let her run an old car just to get Josef and her sponsor some exposure. Perhaps she can enter with someone's back-up engine with the understanding that she has to return it if the owner needs it.

I also have to wonder if this isn't the result of having suppliers who are losing money. Basically Chevy, Lotus, and Honda (not the engine builders Ilmor and Judd) are in this at a loss to get the advertising exposure. Not making money off the engines means they don't have much motivation to supply that 11th and 12th engine. They're in the show and they have their front runners trying to win. Building engines at a loss has to be a contributing factor here.

Jack Squat

"Maybe they can take a test engine and rebuild it for Sarah. Maybe they can let her run an old car just to get Josef and her sponsor some exposure. Perhaps she can enter with someone's back-up engine with the understanding that she has to return it if the owner needs it."


Maybe they can line up and hit Sarah over the head with a nightstick too.

How about this...just treat her team like a professional racing team. How about running your sport like a PROFESSIONAL racing entity, instead of some club series?

And you wonder why nobody cares about or watches this crap series anymore, outside of Indy? This is exhibit A. This is a bunch of donkeyshit (which Robin Miller clearly spells out today in his column at Speed.com).

Best part of Robin's column is the fact that IC CEO and Grand Pooh Bah Randy "Make My Day" Bernard, is powerless in this deal. What a revelation! John Frasco, Bill Stokkan and Andrew Craig are laughing at you.

Again, Sarah should tell the sport to kiss her ass. They don't deserve her or her team.

Chris Lukens

I think there is a disconnect between what the owners think and what the fans think, and make no mistake, it’s the owners that run Indycar now. What does Sarah Fisher have going for her.

She has lots of fans. Yeah, but what kind of fans, people who watched her win in her midget or set the track record at Winchester in a sprint car. That’s right, oval track fans. The owners could not care less about them, this is road race series now.

She won a race last year. At Kentucky, an oval, a race the owners cared so little about that they got it removed from the schedule because this is a road race series now.

This whole thing smacks of a not so subtle shot across the bow by the owners to any other potential teams thinking about entering the their private club racing series. You WILL follow our political agenda or you WILL be excluded.

I think the owners would consider the loss of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing to be no big deal, after all, this is a road race series now.

Patrick Head

One day later ... I've had time to think on this matter a bit more, and usually in these situations, I calm down a bit. Not this time. I'm just flat out disgusted. I have been a life long IndyCar fan. I'm so upset with this situation, that I have lost a LOT of interest in the series at this point. I don't care if Sarah decided not to choose Lotus at the first(last?) chance. Considering there is supposedly exactly ONE running Lotus engine at this point, can you blame her? I don't care if the manufacturers were surprised by the number of cars. I don't care if the owners are now in charge again (which ultimately can't possibly be true because they don't own the series anymore). This is disgusting. Sarah is EXACTLY the storyline that can make this series interesting to more fans, both past and present. Her team announced their plans and financing before almost all other teams. Now she is waiting for some last minute, or possibly Indy last minute "save the day" hero alms from the givers of life??? Sorry, I'm not buying this. Whatever it takes, whomever it takes, fix this. Tommorrow, literally.

Leigh O'Gorman

Hmmm....

While Fisher Racing going without an engine is a bit sad, it's not the end of the world, but I can obviously see why her fans are upset.

Personally I'm far more interested in what details we do not know as opposed to the details Robin Miller has been allowed to spew. I believe there's more going on here than is shown on the surface.

@TJ
Trackforum? Seriously..?

Titus Pullo

The only worse travesty than this is that Derrike Cope doesn't have a ride in the Daytona 500.

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