Photo courtesy of IMSA

Sports cars: DeltaWing, van der Zande, Acura and more in news

Leave a comment

There’s quite a bit of news that’s come down in the land of sports cars in the last 24-48 hours or so.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • The DeltaWing won’t race at 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Despite Dr. Don Panoz’s announcement to the contrary at the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Petit Le Mans, which seemed to catch most off guard, the radical DeltaWing will not in fact race next year’s season opener. The car had got a one-race grandfathering extension but opted not to pursue it. “We have decided not to race in the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. It has been an incredible four years racing the most innovative car on the track, but as a lean organization Don Panoz decided to focus our efforts on other DeltaWing and Panoz projects.”
  • Panoz has still hired Tom Milner though to lead Panoz Racing. Veteran team owner and manager Tom Milner has been hired to spearhead Panoz Racing’s development of a GT4-spec racing program based on the Panoz Avezzano, the company’s new two-seat aluminum-intensive sports car powered by a front mid-engine mounted American V8. He has worked with Panoz before. A full release is linked here.
  • Van der Zande joins Visit Florida Racing. Renger van der Zande will replace Ryan Dalziel as Marc Goossens’ full season co-driver in the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing prototype, which is a new Riley Technologies Mk. 30 Gibson. This is a good move for both parties; although van der Zande hasn’t driven either DP or LMP2-spec cars the last few years – he’s starred in PC with Starworks Motorsport, and won this year’s title – the Dutch driver is a natural to step up given his evolution in sports cars, and he’s renowned as very quick.
  • Acura has confirmed its endurance drivers. Mark Wilkins and Tom Dyer will be the respective third drivers for Michael Shank Racing’s Acura NSX GT3 program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup (four races) and will also run with RealTime Racing in their Acuras in Pirelli World Challenge SprintX races, along with Ryan Eversley and Peter Kox. Specific driver groupings haven’t been determined yet; MSR’s four full-time drivers are Andy Lally, Ozz Negri, Jeff Segal and Katherine Legge, and Honda could opt for IndyCar drivers as their fourth drivers in either the No. 86 and/or No. 93 Acuras at the Rolex 24.
  • Mazda, Porsche reveals set for Wednesday in L.A. The Mazda DPi and new Porsche 911 RSR will be revealed on Wednesday at the Los Angeles International Auto Show.
  • Land Motorsport, Ebimotors set for Daytona. Connor De Phillippi strongly hinted at it when we spoke earlier this month, but now his Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi team is confirmed to run the Rolex 24 at Daytona (more here from DailySportsCar and more on site from Daytona from Sportscar365). It’s cool to see this as one of several European teams set to run next January. Ebimotors, additionally, is also set to run (more here from Sportscar365).
  • Daytona testing for some, Sebring testing for Ganassi. Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull posted a photo on Tuesday of the team set to test its pair of Ford GTs at Sebring International Raceway. This test is separate from the IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona, which takes place today and tomorrow.
  • Amy Ruman wins another Trans-Am title. We don’t cover the Trans-Am series here on MST; however, we would be remiss to not mention Amy Ruman has won another Trans-Am title, her second in a row. This past weekend she won her third straight race at Daytona and overcame a nine-point deficit to Paul Fix to win the title, in this, Trans-Am’s 50th anniversary season. “I woke up thinking ‘you know anything can happen, it’s racing,’” said Ruman. “Mechanicals happen. Traffic can play a role.  Paul could win; I could win.  When it boiled down to one race, anything can happen.” More info is linked here.
  • PWC scholarship program expanded. Corey Fergus took advantage of winning PWC’s Touring Car title in 2015 to advance into GT Cup this season via a driver scholarship program. Next year, WC Vision will offer the same opportunity to all three TC class champions (TC-Toby Grahovec, TCA-Elivan Goulart, TCB-Tom O’Gorman) to advance up a step in 2017 if they so desire. More information is linked here via the PWC website.
  • Mazda MX-5 shootout starts today. Today and tomorrow, the 11th annual Mazda Road to 24 Shootout for a $100,000 scholarship into the 2017 Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires takes place at NOLA Motorsports Park. Here’s breakout links to the eight candidates and six judges taking part.

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
Leave a comment

Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter