JVO: TV should focus on the best racing, whether it's in GT2 or P1 or P2, factory team or private. In the end, if racing is going to be successful, it's about entertaining the fans at the track and at home. People want action from their motor racing--passing, bumping, and dive-bomb passes. The last lap of the 2007 12 Hours of Sebring in GT2 is an example of TV being focused on the best racing. That last-lap battle between the Flying Lizard Porsche and the Risi Ferrari has roughly 100,000 views on YouTube. The fans ate it up then and are still having it as leftovers long after the race ended. Looking at the current list of participants in all of the ALMS classes, it appears that the GT2 class will be the hotbed of excitement in 2009. Wouldn't it be nice if the P cars complained that they weren't getting enough airtime for a change?
Duncan Dayton is the mover, shaker, and owner of Patron Highcroft Racing and surprised the racing world when he signed with Acura as part of its factory program for ALMS. The team quickly became a force in 2007 and throughout 2008 challenged the Penske Porsche Spyders right down to the wire.
EC: After a season of intense competition where you challenged not only Porsche but also Audi for the top spot on the podium, how difficult will 2009 be for Acura without that rivalry?
DD: Having to raise the game last season against Penske helped us prepare in the off season for going head-to-head against Audi. They would have pushed us, we would have pushed them, and it would have been great for the sport. We're disappointed that we won't have that opportunity against Audi except for their one race at Sebring. One aspect of Audi not competing this season is that not as much money will be spent on car development on a race-by-race basis. We had to last season to keep up with the Porsches. With the current situation, lack of development in order to save money will probably be good for everybody. Beyond that, the Chinese word for crisis is the same for opportunity, and if you can get the pedal down, you can be that much further ahead. It's a golden chance for Acura, for Patron Highcroft, and for the ALMS when everyone comes back.
Rich Walton is co-owner of Jerry Woods Enterprises, an independent Porsche facility in Campbell, Calif.
EC: How has the current economic slow-down affected your business? When did you first feel that something was going to happen and how does the immediate future look?
RW: We're fortunate that we are a diversified shop and have a fairly solid customer base. A tightening economy usually hits the standard services and people stretch it out by another couple of thousand miles, especially on the majors that involve belts, axles, etc. However our club racing clientele is going strong, as for many this is a serious hobby and they budget accordingly for each season in advance. Within that sport, the signs are obvious early on if the money is drying up. You have to have a car that is properly prepared and going racing with a car that isn't will cost considerably more at a later date simply from abuse and neglect.
There's so much information out there that most can figure out what they can and cannot do. The trick is not to be overextended in any area.