Leafs’ David Clarkson has Clarky’s Corner featured on Wilson’s IndyCar

Leave a comment

The words “Clarkson” and “power” go together like bread and butter.

Ordinarily, that’s a reference to the BBC’s Jeremy Clarkson of “Top Gear,” and his undying love for more ponies under the bonnet.

This weekend in Toronto, the combination was new Toronto Maple Leafs wing David Clarkson and the power of an IndyCar on the streets around Exhibition Place.

Clarkson, who recently signed a 7-year, $36.75 million deal with the Leafs (linked via ProHockeyTalk here), served as Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.

More important than that from a charity standpoint, Clarkson’s “Clarky’s Corner” foundation was featured on Justin Wilson’s No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.

source:
Justin Wilson and David Clarkson. (Photo credit: LAT Photo USA)

It was the latest in a partnership Wilson has had all season to highlight nonprofit groups. So far this season he has had personal foundation decals onboard for Bo Jackson (he even came back and rode in Bo’s charity bike ride), UCLA head football coach Jim Mora and the Dyslexia Institiute of Indiana. Upcoming groups featured Nolan Ryan Foundation and Patrick Dempsey’s cancer foundation in Maine.

Clarkson got to know more about IndyCar racing at Toronto in 2012, through a partnership with driver Graham Rahal and his own foundation.

“I got to know him on a personal level,” Clarkson said in an interview with MotorSportsTalk Sunday in Toronto, before the race. “Both of us have charities. For me now, coming to play here for the Leafs and wanting to start something new, I wanted to do something big. When you’re lucky enough to do what we do, you always want to give back.”

As part of his weekend experience, Clarkson had a hot lap in a two-seater IndyCar.

“It was my first time; I’m not going to say I was scared, but it is pretty fast how quick they go!” he said. “You know they will, but you wonder if the guy will hit the brakes before making a quick turn.”

Clarkson added that like hockey, the reality of being on the ground at an event translates so much better in person than on TV.

“It’s 100 percent like that,” he said. “I’m impressed with the video here too. After a game we look at a lot of video and see where we could have been. It’s similar here with Graham or Justin looking over things.”

More on Clarkson’s new digs in the NHL can be found here, via ProHockeyTalk.

Street race in Vietnam could lead Formula One’s Asia expansion

Formula One logo
Leave a comment

TOKYO (AP) — Formula One is expected to add more races in Asia, including a street circuit in the capital of Vietnam, a country with little auto racing history that is on the verge of getting a marquee event.

“We think Hanoi could come on in the next couple of years, and we’re working with the Hanoi government to that end,” Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, told the Associated Press.

There is even speculation it could be on the schedule next season, which Bratches rebuffed.

Vietnam would join countries like Azerbaijan, Russia and Bahrain, which have Grand Prix races, little history in the sport, and authoritarian governments with deep pockets that serve F1 as it tries to expand into new markets.

“This (Hanoi) is a street race where we can go downtown, where we can activate a large fan base,” Bratches said. “And you have extraordinary iconography from a television standpoint.”

A second race in China is also likely and would join Shanghai on the F1 calendar. Bratches said deciding where to stage the GP will “be left to local Chinese partners” – Beijing is a strong candidate.

Bratches runs the commercial side of Formula One, which was acquired last year by U.S.-based Liberty Media from long-time operator Bernie Ecclestone.

Formula One’s long-term goal is to have 24-25 races – up from the present 21 – and arrange them in three geographical segments: Asia, Europe and the Americas. Bratches said the Europe-based races would stay in middle of the calendar, with Asia or the Americas opening or ending the season.

He said their positioning had not been decided, and getting this done will be slowed by current contracts that mandate specific places on the calendar for several races. This means eventually that all the races in Asia would be run together, as would races in Europe and the Americas.

The F1 schedule is now an inefficient jumble, allowing Bratches to take a good-natured poke at how the sport was run under Ecclestone.

“We’ve acquired an undermanaged asset that’s 67-years-old, but effectively a start-up,” Bratches said.

Early-season races in Australia and China this year were conducted either side of a trip to Bahrain in the Middle East. Late in the season Formula One returns to Asia with races in Japan and Singapore.

The Canadian GP this season is run in the middle of the European swing, separated by four months from the other races in the Americas – the United States, Mexico and Brazil. These three are followed by the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, which means another trip across the globe.

“With the right economics, with the right structure and cadence of events across territories, 24 or 25 is probably where we’d like to be from a longer-term standpoint,” Bratches said.

Big changes are not likely to happen until the 2020 season ends. This is when many current rules and contracts expire as F1’s new owners try to redistribute some income to allow smaller teams to compete.

“There’s more interest than we have capacity in the schedule,” Bratches said, firing off Berlin, Paris or London as potentially attractive venues. “We want to be very selective.”

“Those cites from an economic impact standpoint would find us value, as do others around the world,” Bratches added. “It’s very important for us as we move forward to go to locations that are a credit to the Formula One brand.”

An expanded schedule would have to be approved by the teams, which will be stretched by the travel and the wear-and-tear on their crews. The burden will fall on the smaller teams, which have significantly smaller revenue compared with Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull.

Bratches also envisions another race in the U.S., joining the United States Grand Prix held annually in Austin, Texas. A street race in Miami is a strong candidate, as are possible venues like Las Vegas or New York.

“We see the United States and China as countries that could support two races,” he said.

Liberty Media has reported Formula One’s total annual revenue at $1.8 billion, generated by fees paid by promoters, broadcast rights, advertising and sponsorship. Race promotion fees also tend to be higher in Asia, which makes the area attractive – along with a largely untapped fan base.

In a four-year cycle, F1 generates more revenue than FIFA or the International Olympic Committee, which rely almost entirely on one-time showcase events.

Reports suggest Vietnamese promoters may pay between $50-60 million annually as a race fee, with those fees paid by the government. Bratches said 19 of 21 Formula One races are supported by government payments.

“The race promotion fee being derived from the government … is a model that has worked historically,” Bratches said.