Andy Granatelli, who passed away at 90 years old yesterday in a California hospital, will always be remembered in the open-wheel world for helping to revive the Novi engine in the early 1960s, rocking the Indianapolis 500 with his turbine-powered cars, and kissing Mario Andretti on the cheek after their famous Indy victory in 1969.
But in the NASCAR world, his biggest claim to fame will always be the $250,000 deal he struck as chairman of STP with seven-time Winston (now Sprint) Cup champion Richard Petty, which effectively transformed the sponsorship aspect of the sport.
From the beginning of the partnership in 1972 through the end of Petty’s driving career in 1992, STP was there to back NASCAR’s “King” on his car, which often sported both STP’s day-glo red and the famous shade of “Petty blue.”
The car became iconic to millions of race fans, and it is still one of the most important representations of NASCAR today; recently, the Smithsonian Magazine named a 1984 Pontiac Grand Prix version of Petty’s No. 43 as one of the “101 Objects That Made America.”
And even now, STP continues to back both Petty himself and the Richard Petty Motorsports team that currently races in the Sprint Cup Series – ensuring that a key part of Granatelli’s legacy endures.
“Andy was one of the best at public relations and marketing in all of motorsports,” Petty said Monday to NASCAR.com’s David Caraviello. “He was ahead of his time and set the standard for selling his products. We still enjoy our relationship with STP today and it was our meetings with Andy that started it all.
“He was really determined about how he wanted to market his product, and he never stopped wanting to get his way, but that’s what made him successful too.”
Diaz (right) is another prototype class veteran, with recent PC experience (8Star Motorsports and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports) added to his LMP2 days with Fernandez Racing.
All three of them also competed in Champ Car World Series races in Mexico City, with Gonzalez and Diaz part of a six-Mexican driver entry in the 2003 race (Adrian Fernandez, Michel Jourdain Jr., Mario Dominguez and Rodolfo Lavin).
Ricardo Gonzalez co-drives the No. 43 RGR Sport Ligier JS P2 Nissan with Bruno Senna and Filipe Albuquerque in the WEC.
Around two-thirds of the Formula E grid also race in the WEC, with the two championships preventing clashes so that drivers do not have to pick between them. As a result, it seems inevitable that one of the races will have to change date.
Jolyon Palmer felt “gutted” after a likely top-10 finish in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix was lost following a spin in the closing stages, costing him his first Formula 1 points.
2014 GP2 champion Palmer joined Renault for its return to F1 as a constructor in 2016, but arrived in Hungary without a point to his name from the opening 10 races of the season.
Palmer was left disappointed on Saturday after a red flag knocked him out of qualifying at the first hurdle, but a long first stint brought him into contention for points.
Palmer moved into the top 10 after jumping Nico Hulkenberg in the pits, only for Renault’s hard work to be undone when he spun off at Turn 4, losing three positions in the process.
The Briton was ultimately classified 12th after Esteban Gutierrez’s time penalty, extending his points drought to 11 races.
“I’m gutted as my first points in Formula 1 were there for the taking,” Palmer said.
“The car was good and I was driving well within myself in P10. I turned in the same as normal at turn four – I wasn’t hanging everything out and I was looking after the tires – but for some reason I lost the car in a massive snap.
“I need to look at everything with my engineers to see if there is anything we could have done to prevent it.
“I was running tenth, we had completed all our pit stops, we had good pace relative to those ahead and behind so it looks like we’ve made a real step forward this weekend.
“It was the best drive of my career today and just one small spin took away those points.
“I’m gutted today but I’ll be fighting to get in the same position or better in Hockenheim.”