Grid Fillers
Random Happenings in the World of Motorsport
Formula One: When the going gets weird in motorsport, it usually means something involving F1, and in keeping with current tradition, it's the antics off the track rather than on. Anyone with even a casual interest no doubt has heard of "The Crashgate Affair." Basically, a driver was ordered to cause an accident, which brought out the safety car, in order to help his teammate. The FIA, which on a good day is still a nuisance, decided to investigate. The results were predictable: The team boss and chief engineer were found guilty and given lifetime bans. Predictably enough, the team was basically given a pass. The players were Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Renault. One need only to go back to the McLaren saga, and the FIA imposing a fine of a hundred million, to wonder what the hell is really going on. Maybe a few town hall meetings are in order. I doubt the ban will remain.

The most annoying aspect of the F1 and FIA circus is the way that the media has covered it. Worst of all are some of the old guys who should know better. Many have become as absorbed with themselves as with what they're covering-a ridiculous amount of self-importance. This is racing, motorsport, et al. Rules and decisions as handed down by the FIA should and need to be scrutinized in the present, not in the past. Many F1 hacks have crawled out of their caves to attack Briatore and company now that punishment has been handed out. Hands down, the winning bit comes from a British scribe who refers to Crashgate as the biggest scandal in motorsport history; it has few equals in any other sport other than boxing and horse racing. I will leave it to you, dear reader, to come to your own conclusion.

But where are these same clowns who should be looking into F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone's endorsement of Ferrari's Jean Todt to replace Max Mosley? Anyone who knows Bernie should be highly critical of his personal choice for President of the FIA. Every other aspect of worldwide motorsport (except in the USA) has suffered since Bernie and Max have been in charge. The decision to elevate F1 above everything else has come at a cost. There was a time when sports cars and prototypes led the way in development. True, F1 has contributed a great deal in terms of engineering brilliance, but they are hardly the only ones involved. They just want you to think so.

BMW: The decision for Munich to reinvest the funds it spent on F1 with a return to production platforms has already shown great promise. The GT2 effort has chalked up success in the ALMS and the corporate decision to add WTCC heavyweights Andy Priaulx and Jörg Müller for the occasional race aboard the GT2 simply ups the game. BMW's involvement in the U.S. has been one of the few bright spots in what has been a difficult season.

Grand Am & ALMS: Something's gotta give, as the saying goes. As CART and the IRL have shown, nothing lasts forever. Both GA and the ALMS have seen their grid numbers fall considerably. GA started out the season with far stronger fields, especially in the prototype category, but has seen its top car count drop alarmingly. With the ALMS decision to allow slower GT3 cars in, such as the Porsche GT3 Cup cars, GA teams will have another playground option. Insiders expect both series to chug along but eventually the bottom line will force the issue.

Audi R8 LMS GT3 Class
Aluminum space frame with bolt-in steel roll cage, aluminum and carbon-fiber composite bodywork

5,200cc V10, 90-degree cylinder angle, dohc, 32-valve, naturally aspirated, direct-injection with Bosch MED 9.1.2 Motronic

Six-speed sequential manual with paddles and traction control

Front and rear double wishbones with Bilstein coilover adjustable shocks and Eibach springs

Audi ABS race system with ceramic rotors

Length/Width/Height (in.): 176.0/78.1/47.1
Weight: 2,756 lb
Fuel Capacity: 31.7 gal

Peak Power: 500 hp
Peak Torque: 369 lb-ft

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