Minardi dismayed by Monza’s uncertain F1 future

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Former Formula 1 team owner Gian Carlo Minardi has expressed his dismay at the uncertain future faced by one of the sport’s most iconic circuits: Monza.

Located on the outskirts of Milan, Monza has hosted all but one Italian Grand Prix since the formation of the F1 world championship in 1950, and welcomes Ferrari’s loyal ‘Tifosi’ fan club to the race in their thousands each year.

With the sport taking a more global approach to its scheduling, the race at Monza is at risk of being cancelled upon the expiration of its contract in 2016.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said last July that the race had been “disastrous for us from a commercial point of view”, paving the way for events such as the Qatar Grand Prix to take its place on the calendar.

A number of figures within F1 have spoken out against such a move, with Minardi – owner of the popular Minardi team that raced between 1985 and 2005 – becoming the latest to express his dismay following the demise of the German Grand Prix.

“We are talking about circuits that are part of a nation at the height of motor racing, not only in sport,” Minardi said, referring to Hockenheim and the Nurburgring in Germany.

“However, they will not have a grand prix. This should make us think.

“Formula 1 represents a real economic benefit for state assets. Precisely for this reason, Formula 1 must be treated like the World Swimming Championships, the Olympics or World Football Championships – events in which not only the Sports Federation but also the Government can intervene.

“Do not forget that Italy has the number one cultural heritage in the world, which is envied by all. Therefore, we should use Formula 1 as a magnet to attract tourists, including holiday packages, before and after grand prixs, with worldwide tour operators. Besides, we are talking about a city which is easily accessible by plane and high-speed trains.”

Minardi continued to wish Ivan Capelli, the man tasked with saving the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the best of luck in his challenge.

“I want to wish the President of Milan Automobile Club, Ivan Capelli, good luck for the start of negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone and our ACI President Sticchi Damiani, who cares about the existence of Italian Grand Prix and Monza’s security,” Minardi said.

“He will make every effort to find the right funds and agreements. Monza, along with Silverstone and Monte Carlo, is Formula 1.”

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?