In Dave Mathers’ Monday Motormouth Blog for December 6, 2021, Dave weighs in on Sunday’s wild F1 race in Saudi Arabia and updates us on Canadian contingent who took part in the Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100, in Florida, this past weekend. And much more…
FORMULA ONE: Wow, the World Travelling Circus, also known as Formula One, was at Saudi Arabia yesterday for their ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ inaugural race. Where to start?
Everybody was concerned before the race about human rights issues in the Kingdom, but those concerns were quickly forgotten as they got to the track.
It was BAD fast track, with BRUTAL ‘blind’ corners. The problem seemed to be that forward visibility was almost zero approaching corner entrance.
Several cars both in practice and during the race had ‘Close Encounters of the Worst Kind’ with the wall… a wall that appeared to be much more forgiving than at other tracks.
Lewis Hamilton grabbed the pole over teammate Valtteri Bottas and points leader Max Verstappen. Max was on a ‘banzai’ run for the pole but overcooked the final corner and hit the wall.
On the initial green, it appeared that all the pre-race worries were baseless as everybody seemed to ‘play nicely.’ Well, that didn’t last long.
Lance Stroll and Russell had an ‘incident’ and they were the first to pit. A caution came out and Hamilton pitted along with Bottas. Complaints were registered by the leaders about how slow the pace car was running, but nothing changed.
Max had stayed out and did not pit. Mick Schumacher had hit the wall and due to the damage, the race was red flagged. And this is when the circus began. Every other racing series will NOT allow work to be done on the cars during a red flag situation.
But not F1. Change tires, fix damage, whatever… go for it. Wow!
On the restart, on Lap 16, chaos resulted. Max went wide forcing Lewis high, and Ocon grabbed the lead. An accident at the rear of the pack, on the restart, brought out another yellow.
This brought about the ‘Let’s Make a Deal,’ head scratching. Race Director Masi, clearly NOT wanting to get the race-wrecking stewards involved, ‘negotiated’ with Red Bull so they would accept a third spot on the restart, behind Ocon and Hamilton. The interaction was laughable, in my opinion.
On the restart, Max made a kamikaze move from third and had the lead. More wall encounters ensued and after Lewis drove into the back of Max as Max was slowing to let Lewis retake the top spot because Max gained the position by going off-road (it was as confusing as it sounds!). Lewis apparently wasn’t aware that Max was going to slow, which caused the collision. It’s likely both of them were playing games leading up to the DRS zone line and wanted the other to lead, there, so they could quickly re-pass in the next DRS zone.
Following the hit, Max started having ‘problems’ (tires, battery?) with his car and Lewis got past him for the win. Apparently, the stewards were going to ‘review’ some of the incidents after the race. D’oh! In the wee hours, they ended up giving Max an additional, irrelevant 5-second penalty.
So after all that, Max and Lewis are now tied for the points lead, but Max has a slight edge due to having nine wins to Lewis’ eight. Mercedes has a 28-point lead over Red Bull for the Constructors Championship, and that lead appears to be pretty secure.
The Drivers’ Championship will be settled in Abu Dhabi, this weekend, the last race of the year. I should be a great race.
THE SNOW RACES: Several Canadians headed south to Florida to compete in the ‘Snow’ races this past weekend. They included racers and fans.
In the Snowball Derby 300, at Pensacola, Canada had a couple of competitors in the race. Cole Butcher from Hantsport, Nova Scotia finished third in a very tough field. Brandon Watson from Barrie, Ontario finished 14th.
There were three other Canadians entered in the Snowflake 100, on Saturday, including Treyton Lapcevich from Grimsby, Ontario (finished 14th), Austin McDonald from Pictou, Nova Scotia and Jarrett Butcher from Porters Lake, Nova Scotia.
Meanwhile, at the 50th annual Snowbird Outlaw Nationals, at Bradenton Motorsports Park (the old DeSoto Memorial Dragway just south of Tampa), a couple of BAD *SS Outlaw Pro Mods from Stratford, Ontario qualified near the top of the very stout field.
Scott Wildgust’s beautiful ‘67 Mustang ran a 3.638 for #5 and Spencer Hyde’s trick ‘69 Camaro qualified 7th with a 3.652. The number one qualifier had a 3.616 to show how close the field was.
Scotty won Round One with a 3.679 at 206.13 but lost a VERY close Round Two with a 3.661. Spencer also won in Round One with a 3.687 at 203.95 but lost in Round Two. They knew our boys were there!!
NASCAR CUP SERIES: All three series were in Nashville last week with car shows, displays and the BIG one – ‘Burnouts on Broadway’!! And the crowd went wild!! Kevin Harvick was declared the winner of the ‘contest,’ his first win of 2021.
As well, the Championship Banquet was held on Thursday night, but that seemed to be a well-hidden fact as I saw nothing in the days leading up to it. Not sure what happened there as NASCAR is usually great at promoting these.
Cup Champion Kyle Larson gave a moving speech and thanked his wife, Rick Hendrick (his fourteenth championship!!), his crew and even Chip Ganassi who gave him his start nine years ago. Very classy.
As well, Daniel Hemric, Xfinity Series Champion and Ben Rhodes, Camping World Truck Series Champion were honoured. Chase Elliott continued the family tradition by winning the Most Popular Driver Award again, his fourth win in a row.
I think holding the banquet(s) in Nashville makes much more sense than New York, Los Angeles or Las Vegas. Just my opinion.
NASCAR returned to Nashville Super Speedway this year with all three divisions and there are plans afoot to reopen the Nashville Fairgrounds track in a potential 30-year lease with Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Thus, the town is openly embracing everything NASCAR these days. I used to love going there for the All American 400, a race that Junior Hanley won one year. He sold the winner’s guitar before he left the track!!
The next race for the Cup series is at, wait for it, the Los Angeles Coliseum. It will be the ‘Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum’, a non-points race on the tight little one quarter mile track. The track could fit into the grassy area between the track and pit road at Daytona International Speedway!! The points racing will begin in earnest at Daytona on Sunday, February 20 at 2.30 P.M. I can hardly wait!!
Did You Know?…
Ownership for a legendary race team appears to be changing. Richard Petty Motorsports has sold a majority interest in its team – along with their two NASCAR ‘charters’ – to Maury Gallagher, of GMS Racing.
GMS will be fielding a Cup car for the first time in 2022 with Ty Dillon the driver. I think we can safely speculate where they will get motors? Erik Jones will stay in the 43-car next year.
Rick Ware Racing had been renting RPM’s second charter this year. I have watched Richard Petty race in the 43-car literally hundreds of times. He was always a pleasure to watch especially when battling with David Pearson.
Until next week!!