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.”
Williams Martini Racing will announce its line-up for the 2017 Formula 1 season on November 3 following the Mexican Grand Prix.
Williams will change its line-up for the first time in three seasons next year when Felipe Massa retires from F1.
The Brazilian will be replaced by 17-year-old Lance Stroll, who won the FIA F3 title in 2016 with Prema Powerteam.
Stroll is set to join Valtteri Bottas, who, despite being subject to interest from Renault, is set to extend his stint as a race driver with Williams into a fifth season.
Stroll will become the second-youngest driver to make his F1 debut at the start of the 2017 season, and the youngest since the FIA introduced a lower-age limit of 18 to F1. The Canadian turns 18 this Saturday.
Williams currently sits fifth in the constructors’ championship with three races remaining in the 2016 season, with one podium to its name so far courtesy of Bottas in Canada.
Marcus Ericsson says that a move to Force India for the 2017 Formula 1 season is “definitely an option”, but is also excited by the prospect of remaining at Sauber.
Ericsson is currently embarking in his third season in F1 and his second with Sauber, having scored nine points during his stint with the Swiss team.
Sauber currently sits at the foot of the constructors’ championship, with neither Ericsson nor Nasr scoring a point after a turbulent financial period for the team.
Sauber’s long-term future was secured over the summer when Longbow Finance completed a takeover, its backers allegedly having links to Ericsson.
However, the Swedish driver is open to a move away from the team at the end of the season, and believes that the vacant seat at Force India is the most lucrative on the grid.
“I think all the drivers that don’t have a contract for next year yet are looking at the [Force India] seat,” Ericsson said.
“Force India is a competitive car at the moment so it’s definitely an option.
“Sauber is an exciting option for me for next year because they have a very strong project building.
“Hopefully sooner rather than later I will know what’s happening next year for me.”
Esteban Gutierrez says that he is strongly considering alternative options to Haas for 2017 as the American team continues to wait before making a decision on its Formula 1 line-up.
Gutierrez returned to F1 full-time in 2016 after one year away, joining NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ new racing operation.
Gutierrez has failed to score any points in the opening 18 races of the year, while teammate Romain Grosjean has 29 to his name.
Haas is known to be currently considering its line-up for 2017, with Grosjean poised to stay.
Gutierrez’s future is less clear, but said in Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix that he wanted it to be resolved in the next two weeks.
“I think Gene has been very clear in the media. They want to wait a few races,” Gutierrez said.
“Fortunately we have other options which we are now considering strongly.
“I think it would be important to close something soon because we cannot risk to just wait a few more races to the end of the season, and risk falling between two chairs.
“Things are looking good for next season.”
When asked if he had a personal deadline for firming up his 2017 plans, Gutierrez said: “The deadline should be in the next two weeks.”
Should Gutierrez leave Haas, drives at Force India and Renault are likely to be on the Mexican’s radar, with both teams having one free seat.
Tony Kanaan and wife Lauren have welcomed a new baby into the world, with “TK” announcing the birth of son Max on Thursday.
Max joins other sons Deco and Leo in the Kanaan family. Kanaan reported both mom and baby are doing well.
This is the latest new arrival to the Verizon IndyCar Series, with Ryan Hunter-Reay and wife Beccy welcoming their third son Rhodes (after Ryden and Roczen) in September, and with Will Power and wife Liz expecting their first child in December.
Kanaan has re-signed with Chip Ganassi Racing and will drive the team’s No. 10 NTT Data Honda once more in 2017.