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Old 19 Oct 2012, 14:25 (Ref:3154377)   #1
Greg Cozier
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Historically speaking: the commercial relevance of non-production-based motor sport?

I dream of the day the top levels of international racing return to the 'cars we can buy' mantra but I doubt it will ever happen. The whole argument that prototype and F1 racing are 'engineering development platforms' is hogwash. Touring cars (with loose regs like DTM) and GT are easily as productive.

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We're going OT here, but I totally agree. The Le Mans 24-hrs should be for production cars, as originally envisaged in 1923, and it would be a chance for all the supercar makers to prove their products in public view, That'd shut a few of them up.

Every Sunday motoring supplement has a preview of the next "big thing", all claiming to go 2mph faster than the last one. All pipe dreams. Let's see them up against each other, a sort of expanded Blancpain series, with cars in varying classes, according to engine size or price (shock horror), so the paying public know what to buy.
From my thread on 'prettiest sports cars'.

For years I've maintained and debated that the commercial relevance of racing 'prototypes' like GroupC and F1 cars has faded to just about zero. Likewise the commercial relevance of rallying cars on gravel roads decades after most car-market countries paved their public roads.

I think Ford are credited with the 'win on Sunday, sell on Monday' mantra, where did we go wrong? Obviously NASCAR hasn't but both the DTM and British Touring Car series has. Why don't we have supercars at LeMans? Why isn't the DTM formula international?
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Old 19 Oct 2012, 14:36 (Ref:3154387)   #2
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I couldnt agree more and have said as much many times,drop this ridiculous 2 litre BTCC format and go back to the 80's format with classes and production based cars, look at the interest in this era on the internet now and especially here and on FaceBook and its obvious its what the public want! IMHO current touring car racing is as relevant as NASCAR where they use tube framed cars with stick on headlight decals (ridiculous and irrelevant), as a promotional tool for selling the actual model its daft.
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Old 19 Oct 2012, 15:02 (Ref:3154402)   #3
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I'm off to work in 5 mins so I'll return tomorrow with my 2-pennorth. But yes, the Touring Cars should be just that, suitable for touring, 4 seats, and luggage space. There's no point to what we've got at the moment, they're not an advert for the maker if they have no realtionship with what you can buy.

Nascar is a joke, but then if that's what the yanks want? It's just spec-car racing. I know tens of thousands of us go to Le mans and love it, but I can't see the harm in returning to its roots. It's be cheaper for everyone, and might encourage more entries.

(Since this is on the historic forum, hopefully none of the BTCC fanboyz will see it!)
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Old 19 Oct 2012, 20:39 (Ref:3154541)   #4
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And rallying - back to the modern equivalent of Jaguar Mk 7, Saab 96, Mini Cooper S, Lotus Cortina, Peugeot 404 etc
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Old 19 Oct 2012, 21:23 (Ref:3154549)   #5
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Discussion like this come up periodically on the Australasian Touring Cars part of this forum.

There's a pretty current thread about whether a modern Group A would work here:http://tentenths.com/forum/showthread.php?t=134836

Touring Cars have been the big kid on the block downunder for a long time so there has been a lot of focus on them for decades.

In all honesty I don't see a fully production based format for big series or big events (like Le Mans) getting up as it doesn't suit manufacturers or teams. The reason it doesn't suit them is they're all looking for a chance to be competitive without being ambushed by a homologation special.

For teams in particular, the staff and organisation revenue is largely from sponsors and if they are competing with a BMW M3 but Ford bring out a Sierra Cosworth, the team with the BM go from competing for race wins to running at the back of the top ten. Sponsors lose interest or at least want to cut payment levels etc.

This is what has driven the development of many "spec" categories world wide, such as DTM, V8 Supercars, BTCC etc. In effect, it's taking an approach similar to open wheel classes such as F3. Even when there are different chassis the differences in performance are minimal. The differences come from engine choice, driver ability and team organisation / race tuning.

So, is it likely to happen? No.

I reckon it would be good though - for a couple or three years anyway. If you look at Group A touring cars, it was pretty good with variety for the first few years but then tended to be dominated in any given year by the make with the smartest homologation special and the others made up the numbers.
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Old 20 Oct 2012, 07:33 (Ref:3154704)   #6
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Talk of Le Mans and you think of Jaguar D-Types, and yes they were production based but they were still the prototypes of the day. They weren't a road car modified, they were an out and out race car. Or 917/GT40/512 of the 60s/70s - all the classic battles have been with prototypes.

Who remembers when Le Mans ran to GT only rules when the McLaren F1 ruled the roost? "Autosport" was full of condemnation and moaning. GTs don't stir the blood in the same way as a proto.

I reckon in future years we will see a lot of hybrid and diesel racing technology trickle down into road cars, so it is pretty relevant. Many of the works teams use road car engineers so they can cut their teeth on racers before refining their ideas for the rest of us. Not so much "win Sunday, sell Monday" as "win Sunday, sell in a couple of years time."

LMP2/C2/2-litre technology isn't relevant, it's mainly wealthy people with expensive toys and long must it remain so!
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Old 20 Oct 2012, 10:43 (Ref:3154779)   #7
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Well, I'm back. This is one of the many bees in my bonnet. For some time now the industry has been moaning about the cost of competing - the cars, preparation and development. But they've allowed it to run away unchecked, and it's time the FIA took control and laid a foundation for change. This recesssion isn't going to go away in a hurry and nobody wants to see teams and prep shops go to the wall, and sponsors decide they can't afford it any more.

By all means keep the top echelon of the sport (F1) for innovation and development of ideas, but everyone would benefit, surely, from a "back to basics" initiative. Lower costs = more entrants = more interested sponsors. Racing is racing. Doesn't matter if it's "state of the art" cars or Moskvich 412s if there's close racing. The great days of Touring Cars, GT cars and rallying were back when manufacturers could enter almost standard cars and have a chance of a class win, and the public loved it then,, because they could relate to the cars they were watching. It's the only way to get the makers back into the sport - they're scared stiff of the costs today.

I would definitely like to see endurance racing for production cars we can all reasonably expect to buy. (I do realise that sticking to my rules would mean that the Ferrari 250GTO would never have run, sigh). It would be a proving ground for new models and new technology which would be applicable to road cars. Class divisions meant that anyone could take part - outright wins aren't everything. Sebring 12 hours 1962 - a guy called George Waltman entered in a TR4. He drove it himself from New York, finished the race 30th overall (4th in class), took the numbers off and drove home. At the Nurburgring 1000km race, there were many instances of American servicemen entering their own "Lil Sports Cars" for the fun of it, and then taking them home after their stint in Germany. Why not today? (Safety equipment taken into consideration).

The British Saloon Car Championship was once divided into price divisions - the endurance races could have a similar theme. So if a Jaguar XK was outclassed for speed, but finished say 6th in engine class, at least Jaguar could claim "against cars costing twice as much" - there's nothing to be ashamed of.

I'm running out of time here... So it's over to the FIA. The big names in sport can't afford it, and the private entrants can't afford it - something has to give. Back to basics please.
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Old 20 Oct 2012, 10:46 (Ref:3154781)   #8
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Talk of Le Mans and you think of Jaguar D-Types, and yes they were production based but they were still the prototypes of the day. They weren't a road car modified, they were an out and out race car. Or 917/GT40/512 of the 60s/70s - all the classic battles have been with prototypes.

Who remembers when Le Mans ran to GT only rules when the McLaren F1 ruled the roost? "Autosport" was full of condemnation and moaning. GTs don't stir the blood in the same way as a proto.

I reckon in future years we will see a lot of hybrid and diesel racing technology trickle down into road cars, so it is pretty relevant. Many of the works teams use road car engineers so they can cut their teeth on racers before refining their ideas for the rest of us. Not so much "win Sunday, sell Monday" as "win Sunday, sell in a couple of years time."

LMP2/C2/2-litre technology isn't relevant, it's mainly wealthy people with expensive toys and long must it remain so!
This. Completely agree.

As a slight aside, even when McLaren won in 1995, there were still prototypes running (the second-placed car was a Courage). They just weren't as reliable as the GT1 F1 GTR.
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Old 20 Oct 2012, 13:37 (Ref:3154839)   #9
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There's four reasons in favour of spec-ization of major motorsport: safety, parity, speed and cost.

Road cars aren't safe at 200km/h. You need to reforce them quite a bit. That's why the WRC and Super TC2000 cars look nothing like road cars in the interior. To increase safety even further, the only way is to have purpose-built chassis.

If you allow road cars with actual engines and aerodynamics, you end up tuning this and that every race to promote parity (which is key in touring car racing and GT racing). To solve that, it's easier to have spec chassis and engines, plus controlled bodykits.

Road touring cars aren't that fast. The typical C-segment car has small engines and it's hard to make them really fast. That's why Super GT and Super TC2000 use purpose-built engines, so the Corollas can have 400hp. Moreover, to have rear-wheel-drive cars, you can't use road cars, you need a purpose-built chassis and drivetrain.

If you have road cars, either you forbid development or you change rules every few years to stop budget wars. Spec cars solve that.

Of course, having actual road cars is better for a fan, but also for brand promotion. Top Race and Solution F cars look weird, and Nascar cars look nothing like the road cars. You can do good silhouettes (see DTM, Super TC2000, Super GT), but sometimes promoters don't care about that.
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Old 20 Oct 2012, 19:31 (Ref:3154996)   #10
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Road cars aren't safe at 200km/h. You need to reforce them quite a bit. That's why the WRC and Super TC2000 cars look nothing like road cars in the interior. To increase safety even further, the only way is to have purpose-built chassis.
So slow them down a bit, watching a club race can be as exciting as an F1 race (more so in most cases) even though the times are probably half that of the F1's.
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Old 21 Oct 2012, 10:32 (Ref:3155333)   #11
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So slow them down a bit, watching a club race can be as exciting as an F1 race (more so in most cases) even though the times are probably half that of the F1's.
Absolutely my point. It's possibly all about the old question - is the sport for the participants or the spectators?

This whole rationale about safety/speed is not relevant. Naturally production cars would have to be fitted with adequate safety equipment, but the strength of cars is already subject to severe testing before they pass the required standards. There's no real danger, any more than the usual "expected" danger - "Motor racing is dangerous" etc..

If we start to expect high speeds/cornering power above all else, we're risking alienating the entrant for the gratification of the spectator. Is that what the sport is about? I still reckon there's more in it for the manufacturers if there is an increase in production-based events, not least the lower costs for the teams, and the increased public awareness of the value of the product.

Slower cars= closer racing=exciting spectacle.
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Old 21 Oct 2012, 11:09 (Ref:3155344)   #12
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Absolutely my point. It's possibly all about the old question - is the sport for the participants or the spectators?

This whole rationale about safety/speed is not relevant. Naturally production cars would have to be fitted with adequate safety equipment, but the strength of cars is already subject to severe testing before they pass the required standards. There's no real danger, any more than the usual "expected" danger - "Motor racing is dangerous" etc..

If we start to expect high speeds/cornering power above all else, we're risking alienating the entrant for the gratification of the spectator. Is that what the sport is about? I still reckon there's more in it for the manufacturers if there is an increase in production-based events, not least the lower costs for the teams, and the increased public awareness of the value of the product.

Slower cars= closer racing=exciting spectacle.
i dont thinks so, We have in australia the APCC runned since 1987, completley stock cars, and theyre not as exciting as you would think, 1 or 2 cars like the evo's and the subaru's wipe out the competition and then leaving no chance for the other teams to win , the falcon and commodore used in the V8's wouldnt stand a chance against them (although an XR6 turbo won one year).

my point is theres a stock car racing going on but only a man and he's dog attends these type of races.
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Old 21 Oct 2012, 11:24 (Ref:3155350)   #13
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in saying that I still watch Group A videos on Youtube, I liked the variety in that series.
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Old 21 Oct 2012, 12:09 (Ref:3155369)   #14
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I played a significant part of a race championship years ago that used stock based cars but allowed modifications to the engines but the crunch was we had to run on stock roadcar List 1a tyres. I remember a headline in one of the comics, "Too much power and not enough grip = Exciting racing", how true was that and how successful was the championship, also Falken Tyres attracted by fact that we used a tyre they could sell to the public not some trackday or slick fast wearing thing, gave us very generous support for a number of years. In the same way I believe manufactures of the cars could also benifit from production based races with classes. incidently the championship was named Modified Production Saloons which kind of summed it up in a nutshell.
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Old 21 Oct 2012, 12:20 (Ref:3155373)   #15
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I played a significant part of a race championship years ago that used stock based cars but allowed modifications to the engines but the crunch was we had to run on stock roadcar List 1a tyres. I remember a headline in one of the comics, "Too much power and not enough grip = Exciting racing", how true was that and how successful was the championship, also Falken Tyres attracted by fact that we used a tyre they could sell to the public not some trackday or slick fast wearing thing, gave us very generous support for a number of years. In the same way I believe manufactures of the cars could also benifit from production based races with classes. incidently the championship was named Modified Production Saloons which kind of summed it up in a nutshell.
exactly- it can be exciting for driver and spectator alike. I get the point about "one model" domination, but that's a risk to be run. It can be overcome in any case by separate classes, based on engine size or list price. Something for everyone.

I'm fed up with people who whine about costs today- the answers's there in front of us. Maybe we expect too much these days, and aren't easily satisfied. Huge crowds loved the saloon cars back in the 50s/60s, and they were more or less "stock". Ditto GT racing - why not enforce GT4 regs for all?
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