Eddie Gossage: “Nobody wins” in NASCAR-F1 November overlap

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Still frustrated over having his track’s NASCAR weekend go head-to-head with Formula One at Circuit of the Americas this fall, Texas Motor Speedway president/GM Eddie Gossage said yesterday that “nobody wins” in the scenario.

On Nov. 2, TMS will stage a Chase for the Sprint Cup event at their Fort Worth facility, while Austin-based COTA hosts the United States Grand Prix.

“I can’t say I was surprised because Bernie Ecclestone does a lot of foolish things,” Gossage said according to the Austin (Tex.) American-Statesman while attending a TMS-hosted function in Austin that featured Daytona 500 champ Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“But the thing he unfortunately doesn’t realize is that he isn’t the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to American motorsports. The 800-pound gorilla is NASCAR.”

The American-Statesman also reports that Gossage said COTA didn’t have the experience or strength to move their USGP date, saying that “if it were the other way around, you bet your ass I could stop it and get a different date.”

Meanwhile, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has come out to defend the USGP’s placement on the 2014 World Championship schedule.

In comments to the British Press Association, Ecclestone noted F1’s massive logistics effort to move around the world – saying that Gossage is “extremely lucky” he doesn’t have to deal with that in the domestic-based NASCAR.

“We’ve a small problem they [NASCAR] don’t have – we have six jumbo jets to move around all our equipment, and we have to find the most sensible way to use them to do that,” the British billionaire explained. “We have to be efficient, and bear in mind we may also encounter problems at an airport.

“There are issues that can occur, but he and other people do not realize these things. The race prior to the one in the US is in Russia, in Sochi. We’ve never been before, and we have to get out of there and into Austin. That is probably a lot easier than trying to get into Brazil, and then we have to get out of there [Sao Paulo] to go to Abu Dhabi.”

For his part, Earnhardt himself said he was excited about F1 having an American round but that he was there in Austin to help garner support for the TMS event in November.

“I think [the USGP] is a good thing, and I hope they do well,” he told the American-Statesman. “But we have a lot of fans in the Austin area, and I want to remind them that NASCAR puts on the best show.”

Cooper solidifies PWC GT presence with Callaway Corvette

Callaway, Cooper, Gill. Photo: PWC
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Pirelli World Challenge could use a “face” of the series from a driving standpoint, and American Michael Cooper is a good candidate to fill that role for 2018.

Cooper, 27, has won PWC Touring Car, GTS and, most recently the SprintX GT titles within the series and has quickly blossomed into one of the series’ top GT stars.

It’s been a rapid rise for the Syosset, N.Y. native, entering into a world filled with series stars and champions such as Johnny O’Connell, Patrick Long, Alvaro Parente and a host of others.

But under O’Connell’s tutelage, Cooper admirably filled the rather gaping shoes vacated by Andy Pilgrim at Cadillac Racing, steering the Cadillac ATS-V.R to multiple race wins in the last two years – including a sweep of this year’s season finale weekend at Sonoma.

Cooper and Jordan Taylor were the model of consistency in SprintX this year, winning once at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and surviving contact at Circuit of The Americas to take that title.

With Cadillac withdrawing its ATS-V.R program at the end of the year though, Cooper was left a free agent for 2018. Fortunately with one door closed another opened, in the form of the GM-blessed but full Callaway Competition USA effort with its Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R that will come Stateside next year. Cooper and Daniel Keilwitz will be in the team’s two cars for the full season; the car was fully unveiled last week at the PRI Show in Indianapolis.

The Callaway is a proven commodity in Europe but couldn’t run in the U.S. unless the path was cleared by one of GM’s factory programs to end a direct, potential head-to-head competition.

Moving from the Cadillac to the Callaway Corvette should be a natural transition, Cooper said last week.

“It worked out incredibly well that GM decided to allow Calloway to run the car in the United States and it created an opportunity for me that wouldn’t have been there otherwise,” he told NBC Sports. “I talked to a lot of other GT teams and at the end of the day, I felt like this was the best direction for me to be competitive next year and to also continue furthering my career with General Motors.”

Indeed Cooper has graduated from the Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R in GTS to the Cadillac and now to the Callaway Corvette. Cooper hailed the Cadillac team for what they did for his career growth.

“Working with Cadillac Racing has been instrumental in developing my abilities both on and off the track,” he said. “So I’m definitely a much more well-rounded driver now and have a lot of experience in the World Challenge GT field, so I kind of know what to expect going into that first race and going into that first corner in St. Pete.”

As noted, the car’s success in Europe means it’s a well-oiled machine by the time Reeves Callaway has worked with PWC to bring it Stateside next year. And as Cooper explained, discussions had been underway for a bit of time to ensure his presence in this car and team.

“I think the car is going to be extremely capable. It’s already won championships and races in Europe. I think, in bringing it over here, we’re going to hit the ground running straight away,” he said.

“Calloway had wanted me to come drive for them in July or August. We always kept in touch since then, and there was a lot of work trying to put together a program before they decided that they were going to do a fully fledged factory program. So once they made that decision, I think the pieces were kind of in place already, and the conversations had been had to be able to say ‘You’re going to be our guy.’”

December is late for IMSA programs to get finalized, but it’s relatively early for PWC, with the season not starting until mid-March in St. Petersburg. An extensive testing program should follow, as Callaway establishes its U.S. base and infrastructure.

“It’s definitely early for a Pirelli World Challenge program to be announced in December when we start racing in March. So that’s very good,” he said. “But, the team has a lot of work ahead of them in terms of getting infrastructure set up here in the United States, because a lot of their racing program has been in Europe. So, there will be a testing program, but they have to get the infrastructure in place first. But, we’ll be well prepared for St. Pete, I’m certain of it.

“Last year was the first year when I could sit back, kick my feet up, and know what I was doing next year. So, to be able to have everything done and be able to announce it this early on makes my life less stressful and now I can just focus on preparing myself and my team for next year.”