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Bill Oursler On Doing The Right Thing

  Sometimes the hardest things to remember are the most simple. In the case of
the motorsport industry a prime example is that one needs to learn from history if
one is to avoid repeating its mistakes. Several years ago Bernie Ecclestone and
Max Mosely decided to take matters into their own hands and rewrite the Formula
One rulesbook in an attempt to keep Ferrari and Michael Schumacher from totally
dominating the F-1 scene. And, while Schumacher and Ferrari are at times
struggling today to keep up, it is because of the advances made by others rather
than any effective countermeasures by Mess. Ecclestone and Mosely. Indeed, the
legacy of their actions has done little other than to make the Grand Prix universe
nearly incomprehensible to anyone but the most diehard fan, while at the same
time making it likewise far more expensive than it was previously.

  Agendas in racing are something we all have learned to live with, but hopefully
not accept. As for F-1, one has to wonder, not so much about its short term future,
but rather its longterm success. Clearly, it has not caught on here in North
America, in part because it is so difficult to comprehend for a country used to
simplicity. Yet, the issues brought forward by the actions of those at the FIA who
are in charge of its welfare did not have a positive effect, quite the opposite as
what they did nearly led to a disastrous revolt by the manufacturers who are the
foundation of the sport.

Give ‘em the shut out
  In the mid 1960’s the then French-oriented FIA decided it had enough of the
American-built Fords at Le Mans and elsewhere, changing the rules to impose a
three-liter displacement cap on the World Manufacturers’ prototype division in the
ridiculously short time of just six months. And, why three-liters? The suspicion
than and the suspicion now is that the figures just happened to match the size of
the new French Matra team’s V-12s. It was an attitude bolster by the fact that after
Porsche and Ferrari found a loophole in the regulations which permitted them to
run five-liter cars, the FIA shut the door on those machines, outlawing them after
1971, leaving the Matras to win Le Mans for three years straight from 1972 through
1874, and thru World Makes crown in both those latter two seasons. The fact that
the governing body ruined the sports car scene in the process appeared to matter
little to it as this once solidly popular form of motorsport began a steep decline
which many will are argue has continued nearly uninterrupted ever since.

  Of course, there have been bright spots along the way including the
aforementioned five-liter Makes era. Among the others are the original Can-Am,
and IMSA’s Camel GT series. Unfortunately, as was the case with the 917s and
512s, these were forced into early graves before there time by agendas resting on
less than sound foundations. In the case of IMSA it was a desire to curb the
performance of Porsche’s 962, whose owners parked their cars and left the IMSA
scene, a move which nearly ended the existence of not only IMSA, but professional
sports car racing in North America during the latter part of the 1990’s.

Carling Black Label vs. Budweiser
  As for the Can-Am, there it was a case of the rank and file competitors, most of
whom had hopelessly outdated Chevrolet-powered McLarens and Lolas who got
the Sports Car Club of America to changes its regs at the end of 1973 to cripple
the turbocharged 917 set, something which brought the original championship to
a premature, but permanent halt due to a lack of interest before it had completed
its 1974 schedule.

  These days, sports car racing, especially in North America is enjoying something
of a revival with both the American Le Mans and Rolex tours gaining in popularity.
Now, however, the question is whether or not those in charge will cause history to
repeat itself, particularly since the latter championship is administered by many of
the same folks who oversaw the original IMSA parade.

  For the most, age and experience appear to have worked their magic among the
Grand Am universe where stability reigns, no matter who anyone might feel about
the rules. The ALMS, though, is still a work in progress as the Panoz crew
continues to refine its product looking towards an ever expanding independent
horizon within a basic structure defined by the rulesbook laid out for the annual
Sarthe 24-Hour classic.

And once upon a pair of wheels….
  And that, dear readers, brings us to the heart of the matter.

  The ALMS has had as one of its principles “fan satisfaction.” But, how can the
series keep its fan base happy if the competitors don’t come? Car counts have
fallen off for the ALMS during the past several seasons, a trend which in recent
months seems to be reversing itself, at least marginally. Yet, some of those
newcomers have tilted the playing field, particularly the turbo diesel Audi R10s in
LMP1 and to a degree, the Porsche RS Spyders in LMP2.

  Although there have only been hints that the ALMS brass is not totally overjoyed
having the Roger Penske run Porsche clean house on an overall basis as they did
at Mid Ohio, where they finished one-two, there is little question that IMSA’s
officialdom wants the diesel R10s to have the same superiority when they return
for the Mid July Miller Motorsport Park round in Utah as they did when they
stomped the field at Sebring this past March.

  To combat such runaways, the ALMS, though its IMSA sanctioning organization,
has developed, in cooperation with its manufacturers and sponsors, a
“performance balancing” system intended to keep things in check, a laudable and
valiant, and perhaps even brave move on the ALMS’ part. What is worrisome,
though, is the matter of inappropriate pressure, such as was present in the Can-
Am of 33 years ago, from unhappy competitors threatening to leave if the
regulations are further modified to move they playing field’s angle more in their

Scoot down the road…
  Don’t get me wrong. There has been no suggestion of that so far. But, given the
past, it doesn’t seem totally unreasonable that it could happen. Certainly the most
recent failure of the SCCA’s Trans-Am championship which sank at the end of
2005 after several years of being a “play toy” for its participants should serve as a
warning that inwardly focused agendas are as destructive as ever. Those
pressures haven’t gone away in either the ALMS or the Grand Am. Like a volcano,
they are merely dormant, and they can erupt at any time.

  So, the hope is that in this case the responsible parties will remember history’s
lessons rather than repeating its disasters.

                                                                                          Bill Oursler
                                                                                           July 2006

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Features on or from Guests
No. Class Team Drivers Car Sponsors
0 DP Tuttle Team Racing Brian Tuttle, West Palm Beach, FL; Jonathan Cochet, France BMW Riley Tuttle Team Racing
01 DP CompUSA Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Scott Pruett, Auburn, CA; Luis Diaz, Mexico City, Mexico Lexus Riley CompUSA
3 DP Southard Motorsports Shane Lewis, Jupiter, FL; BMW Riley Southard Motorsports
4 DP Howard - Boss Motorsports Andy Wallace, England; Butch Leitzinger, Rebersburg, PA Pontiac Crawford The Boss Snowplow
04 GT Sigalsport BMW Gene Sigal, Los Angeles, CA; Peter MacLeod, Bellevue, WA BMW M3 Motul/ enVista/ OMP
5 DP Essex Racing Rob Finlay, Charlotte, NC; Michael Valiante, Vancouver, BC Canada Ford Crawford Make A Wish/ Z-Line Designs/ Finlay Motorsports
05 GT Sigalsport BMW Matthew Alhadeff, Los Angeles, CA; Bill Auberlen, Redondo Beach, CA BMW M3 Alhadeff Motorsports/ Motul/ enVista
6 DP Michael Shank Racing/ Mears Motor Coach Mike Borkowski, Miami Beach, FL; Antoine Bessette, St Bruno, QC Canada Lexus Riley Michael Shank Racing/
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8 DP Synergy Racing Burt Frisselle, Kihei, HI; Brian Frisselle, Kihei, HI Porsche Doran GlycoMax
09 DP Spirit of Daytona Racing Doug Goad, West Bloomfield, MI; Larry Oberto, Seattle, WA Pontiac Crawford Spirit of Daytona Racing
10 DP SunTrust Racing Wayne Taylor, Apopka, FL; Max Angelelli, Italy; Jan Magnussen, Denmark Pontiac Riley SunTrust
11 DP CITGO Racing by SAMAX Milka Duno, Venezuela; Marc Goossens, Belgium Pontiac Riley CITGO
12 DP Lowe's Fernandez Racing Adrian Fernandez, Mexico City, Mexico; Mario Haberfeld, Brazil Pontiac Riley Lowe's
14 GT Autometrics Motorsports Cory Friedman, Charleston, SC; Gordon Friedman, Charleston, SC Porsche GT3 Cup Mill And Textile Supply/ Mac Papers
17 GT SAMAX Robert Bell, England; Porsche GT3 Cup SAMAX
19 DP Playboy/ Uniden Racing Guy Cosmo, West Palm Beach, FL; Michael McDowell, Monroe, NC Ford Crawford Playboy/ Uniden/ Palms
21 GT Matt Connolly Motorsports Jeff Altenburg, Ellicott City, MD; John Angelone, Bridgewater, NJ; Matt Connolly, Bethlehem, PA BMW M3 23 DP Alex Job
Racing/ Emory Motorsports Mike Rockenfeller, Monaco; Patrick Long, Las Vegas, NV Porsche Crawford Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team
24 GT Matt Connolly Motorsports Bill Cotter, Seattle, WA; Todd Hanson, Atlanta, GA BMW M3 Matt Connolly Motorsports
31 DP Team Cytosport Greg Pickett, Benicia, CA; Scott Sharp, Tequesta, FL Pontiac Riley XCYTO Energy Drink
38 GT Bernheim Racing Steve Bernheim, Beverly Hills, CA; Dwain Dement, Laguna Hills, CA Porsche GT3 Cup
39 DP Crown Royal Special Reserve/ Cheever Christian Fittipaldi, Brazil; Eddie Cheever Jr, Orlando, FL Porsche Crawford Crown Royal Special Reserve
40 DP Derhaag Motorsports Chris Bingham, Clyde Hill, WA; Randy Ruhlman, Greensboro, NC Pontiac Riley PLP/ Preformed Line Products/ Coyote Closures
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47 DP TruSpeed Motorsports Charles Morgan, Little Rock, AR; Rob Morgan, Ladera Ranch, CA Porsche Riley Querencia Golf Club/ Wright Motorsports
50 DP Rocketsports Racing Paul Gentilozzi, Lansing, MI; Tomy Drissi, Los Angeles, CA Ford Crawford X-MEN 3 The Last Stand the Movie
56 GT Beachman Racing Bruce Beachman, Woodinville, WA; Rick Delamare, Snohemish, WA Corvette Beachman Racing/ Sunset Chevrolet
57 GT Stevenson Motorsports Tommy Riggins, Jacksonville, FL; Vic Rice, San Rafael, CA; John Stevenson, Swansboro, NC Corvette Stevenson Automotive
58 DP Red Bull/ Brumos Porsche David Donohue, Westchester, PA; Darren Law, Phoenix, AZ Porsche Fabcar Red Bull/ Brumos Porsche
59 DP Brumos Racing Hurley Haywood, Ponte Vedra, FL; JC France, Ormond Beach, FL Porsche Fabcar Brumos Porsche
60 DP Michael Shank Racing Mark Patterson, Bronxville, NY; Oswaldo Negri, Aventura, FL Lexus Riley Flight Options/ Nett App Lexus Riley
64 GT TRG Paul Edwards, Nipomo, CA; Kelly Collins, Newport Beach, CA Pontiac GTO.R TRG
65 GT TRG Marc Bunting, Monkton, MD; Andy Lally, Dacula, GA; RJ Valentine, Braintree, MA Pontiac GTO.R TRG/ F1 Air
70 GT SpeedSource David Haskell, Plantation, FL; Sylvain Tremblay, Coral Springs, FL Mazda RX-8 Mazdaspeed Motorsports/ Mazda USA
71 GT SAMAX/ Doncaster Racing Greg Wilkins, Toronto, ON Canada; Dave Lacey, Toronto, ON Canada Porsche GT3 Cup Minestar Solutions/ Tim Hortons72 GT
Tafel Racing Robin Liddell, England; Wolf Henzler, Germany Porsche GT3 Cup NEC
73 GT Tafel Racing Jim Tafel, Alpharetta, GA; Andrew Davis, Bogart, GA Porsche GT3 Cup NEC
75 DP Krohn Racing Tracy Krohn, Houston, TX; Nic Jonsson, Sweden Ford Riley Krohn Racing
76 DP Krohn Racing Jorg Bergmeister, Germany; Colin Braun, Ovalo, TX Ford Riley Krohn Racing
77 DP Feeds The Need/ Doran Racing Terry Borcheller, Gainesville, GA; Harrison Brix, Campbell, CA Ford Doran Kodak/ Amp'd Mobile/ Sirius
80 GT Shoes for Crews/ Synergy Racing David Murry, Cumming, GA; Leh Keen, Dublin, GA Porsche GT3 Cup Shoes for Crews/ Synergy Racing
81 GT Synergy Racing Steve Johnson, Bristol, VA; Robert Nearn, England Porsche GT3 Cup Comfort Systems USA/ Johnson Commercial Development
89 DP Pacific Coast Motorsports Alex Figge, Vail, CO; Ryan Dalziel, Orlando, FL Pontiac Riley Playboy/ Vonage/ Palms Casino
97 DP CyberSpeed Racing Tony Ave, Mooresville, NC; Skip Cummins, Houston, TX Pontiac Riley CyberSpeed Racing
98 GT Pacific Coast Motorsports David Empringham, Toronto, ON Canada; Ross Thompson, Phoenix, AZ Pontiac GTO.R Pacific Coast Motorsports
99 DP Gainsco/ Blackhawk Racing Jon Fogarty, Portola Valley, CA; Alex Gurney, Irvine, CA Pontiac Riley Gainsco Auto Insurance

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