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“‘It’s become increasingly difficult
for a car-building company to
justify its on-track activities as
simply a marketing exercise”
Formula E is amping up for a 2014-’ 15 debut. While it’s a little
early to book tickets, we’ve no doubts that its stored potential
will eventually be converted into kinetic energy. Many thanks,
by the way, to Michael Koelsch for the superb cover illustration!
showed the diligence
of an accountant as
he sifted through
facts and figures to
paint a true picture
of the cost of going
racing in America.
However much some of the traditional
motorsport fans may resent it, racing –
and manufacturer involvement in racing
– is under ever-increasing pressure to be
“relevant.” And it’s unrealistic to think
that this expectation will ever go away.
Just as manufacturers have always
been criticized for their racing programs
if they were simultaneously letting go of
factory workers, so, too, it’s increasingly
difficult for a car-building company to
justify its on-track activities as simply a
marketing exercise. The “win on Sunday,
sell on Monday” philosophy holds as
true as ever, but car buyers are more
sophisticated, more questioning
and more environmentally conscious.
They want to know what won on Sunday,
and how that has a bearing on their
potential purchase the following day.
NASCAR’s the anomaly, seeking to provide
pure entertainment. But be in no doubt that
it, too, will evolve into something more
technically relevant and socially acceptable
than iron block V8s. The public and, in turn,
the manufacturers will demand it.
But for now, it’s road racing that leads
the way in the relevancy stakes. Formula E
intends to build its campaign around its
alternative technology credentials.
Formula 1 is about to introduce small-capacity turbocharged engines allied to
energy recovery systems (ABOVE). Sports
car racing’s adoption of hybrid technology
continues to set a fine example of how
advances in racecars can transfer to the
cars we all drive each day. Closer to
home, IndyCar’s adoption of smaller,
turbocharged, direct injection engines is
light years ahead of its pre-2012 spec.
Costs are the other theme to this, The
Business & Technology Issue of RACER.
Much of what we’ve unearthed is genuinely
eye-opening, and reinforces just how much
the privateers put into this sport we love.
Fifty years ago, one such privateer was
Bruce McLaren. Don’t miss Pete Lyons’
appreciation of the Kiwi’s Can-Am cars.