Lime Rock’s F1 April Fool

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Lime Rock’s claim to have agreed terms with Bernie Ecclestone to host a second round of the world championship in America was one of yesterday’s better April Fools jokes.

The operators of the 1.5-mile course in Lakeville, Conneticut, put out a press release yesterday attributing some amusing quotes to Bernie Ecclestone about circuit owner Skip Barber:

“I met Skip in Monaco back in the mid-70s, when I was running Brabham and Max [Mosley] was trying to stick Skip into that crap-can March. When I heard from one of my many minions that America’s New England region didn’t have an F1 race, well, I was shocked. So I rang up Skip.”

The release continued:

“Ecclestone, who had gathered 241 racing reporters around his feet inside his quaint $650 million cabin in Askwith, Worchestershire-on-Gloucestershire-no-thanks-to-Shropshire, England, also revealed that Formula One Management will not charge Lime Rock Park the normal one-year rights fee of $21 billion. ‘Instead, Skip’s going to buy me dinner at Mizza’s Pizza – and he has to change the oil in one of my Range Rovers,’ Ecclestone said.

“On the other side of the Atlantic, Barber said, ‘As much as I would like an F1 race at Lime Rock, my handshake agreement with Bernie does not include an oil change. We’re still negotiating. I think rotating the Hankooks on his Wolseley 16/60 is sufficient, really.’

“Because of this groundbreakingly different business case, Barber said he will set ticket prices accordingly.

“‘I’m thinking $12.50, plus the 10 percent Connecticut Amusement-Admission Tax, for a three-day pass,’ Barber said.

“Ecclestone was quoted further as saying, ‘I am also very excited to bring my 75-meter motorhome, Helga’s Revenge, to the infamous Lime Rock infield camping area for the Formula One race. I personally love the painfully passé ‘No Fear’ bumper stickers you see on the campers. I mean, literally, they’re stuck to their arses. As well, the plush pigs along the camping area’s roadsides really do make me feel at home. Well, at least one or two of them.'”

Cramming 22 F1 cars onto a circuit that’s more than half a mile below regulation length would definitely make for entertaining racing – certainly enough to justify a $13.75 entry fee!

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.