Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Formula One "Skunkworks" In NASCAR Country?


The interesting saga of an American-based Formula One team played out on Tuesday with the formal announcement carried live on SPEED. The network is clearly caught-up in the fact that Peter Windsor, longtime SPEED F-1 analyst, will be a team principal.

Windsor is a bit hazy on the details but insists that by using the available motorsports personnel, facilities and infrastructure of the Concord and Mooresville, NC areas he can put togther a "super saver" of an F-1 team.

The role of SPEED in all of this is just a little bit strange. While the network does not have a financial stake in the project, there has been an incredible amount of time and effort invested to carry this announcement live and distribute media releases about the project.

It almost seems that Windsor and his partner Ken Anderson, pictured above with press conference host Bob Varsha, have hired SPEED as their public relations company. The flip side of the coin of course is that SPEED is the home of Formula One in the US and the network attraction to this open-wheel sport runs very deep.

Windsor made some good points in his TV appearance. Many Formula One parts and pieces are already created in the Mooresville area by the numerous specialty shops for motorsports. Shaker rigs and wind tunnels do not care what kind of car is in them, they just yield data when asked.

In terms of logisitics, Windsor essentially said he was going to use FedEx or UPS for shipping and his F-1 team would always be traveling very light. In the days of the Lockheed-Martin "skunkworks," the best minds worked on new projects with minimum assistance and still came up with some wonderful machines.

Windsor's idea is to keep that concept alive by using the manpower and materials available after the recent NASCAR contraction. There are certainly plenty of engineers and team shops available around the area, but once again Windsor offered no specifics.

There was no driver named and the financial partner or partners were also not disclosed. This leads to some speculation about the reality of this effort to begin racing in 2010. If Windsor had been alongside a high profile investor, it may have made for better TV. Instead, the on-camera personalities appeared to be just generally discussing this concept as if things were still very early in the planning stages.

One thing Windsor did make clear is the impact of both SPEED and TV in general on his team. Following the NASCAR model, Windsor is planning to make his shop fan-friendly with tours and open access areas for easy viewing of team activities. There will also be a TV studio in the facility. The NASCAR model is apparently a strong influence for Windsor who will certainly find himself surrounded by examples of both racing success and failure once he relocates to Charlotte.

If you watched this press conference live on SPEED or would like to add your comments about this American Formula One team concept, please feel free to do so below. Just click the comments button.

This is a family-friendly website, so profanity and hateful speech will cause your comment to be deleted. Thanks again and happy posting.

18 comments:

The J said...

im glad an american f1 team is happening. ever since indy lost the usgp and there was no american driver ive felt like this country was exiled from f1. and if speed has a part in this team will it cause f1 to tell thm to stop broadcasting because they might be biased to their team? or could f1 care less.

Lesley said...

What Peter and Ken dont understand,is that F1 does not have the roller derby aspect to racing that Nascar has...Americans want action in there racing..Not techno Parading around the track...Granted,Nascar is headed in this direction..But we still have the big one..(Crash that is)on some tracks to please the fans..Sorry Peter..I used to believe the best drivers were in F1..I dont think that holds true anymore..To do what the cream of the crop in Nascar has to do week in and week out is simply incredible..Other than maybe the top Rally driver in the world..The best pure drivers are the top 5 dudes in Nascar!!Yet I support your effort and your task at hand..good luck to both you and Ken..(ps)Kyle Bush? Buy out his contract,And maybe change our look at F1 Forever...It just might work!!

Tom said...

I was really glad to watch this, although as you correctly point out there was very little info that wasn't discussed on WT on Sunday. For a "press conference", I found the format somewhat unusual. It felt more like an interview with a few reporter questions, although I got the impression there would be more actual "press time" after the broadcast. Your point about SPEED as a PR tool is well taken, and I will be curious to see how that plays out. Considering how well connected both men are, and what is going on in F1 right now, and the recent changes, I do believe they probably are in the best position to do a team start up. Although they didn't mention it last night, on WT Windsor said he would continue as the on-site reporter for the coming season. I will be curious how that will work out, and if we see any teams or personnel treat him any differently knowing he is a potential competitor the following year!

cvt said...

Skunkworks is right, this half hour stunk to high heaven.Contrast the announcements by NASCAR teams when they've taken a big decision: Roush brings in John Henry;Richard Childress brings in Chartwell;even Mikey bringing in Rob Kauffman - all serious,accredited investors.When Ray Evernham goes solo, he brings Chrysler/Dodge to the table.

As they say "where's the beef?"

Anonymous said...

Peter Winsor was on "Wind Tunnel" the Sunday evening before the press conference. On the show he said the USA F1 team was fully funded and ready to go. The fact he didn't repeat this at the Tuesday press conference doesn't leave me with warm fuzzys this team will make the starting grid in Austrailia in March 2010. And I agree, Scott Speed, an American with F1 driving experience should and likely will end up with the team in some capacity. I don't think NASCAR is his forte. He was pulled out of the F1 seat by Red Bull screaming and told its NASCAR or no car. I think he would jump at the chance to return to F1.

Anonymous said...

I watched this press conference yesterday. I think it makes sense for USF1 to team up with SPEED. Maybe there will be some sponsorship involved in the future??

This will be great for the Charlotte community, and hopefully put a lot of jobless NASCAR folks back to work.

Also, the audio and the makeup were outstanding.

Colorado said...

Verrrryy interesting....Jayski has some reports posted that link Kyle Busch as a potential driver, with several other high profile NASCAR stars attached with "interest". What is interesting, to say the least, is that both former F-1 stars Juan Pablo Montoya and Scott Speed were very adamant about NOT going back to F-1. JD, when you say "skunkworks" I really believe that. Why would Kyle Busch, and even AJ Allmendinger be interested if there wasn't something there? So here you have two NASCAR drivers that aren't associated with F-1 express interest(although I think Allmendinger was), but yet former Champions don't want to be involved? Me thinks me smell smoke and mirrors.....

diane said...

I'd love to see it happen, but I'm not going to hold my breath. It sounds like Speed may have some type of tie-in program planned for this company.

I would bet that their silent partner/partners are just jock sniffing type who want to be part of the glamor of F1. I suppose that's fine, lord knows most of the NFL owners are just rich guys who never got picked first for the neighborhood pick up game.

It will be interesting to see if any of the Nascar people start trying to position themselves to work for the new F1 team.

Grover said...

I wish him all the best. Sure would be nice to see an American F1 team again.

But the phrase show me the money comes to mind.... Whats F1 cost to run a year? 100 mil with all the travel?

Photojosh said...

I wish I could care about an american F1 team. I consider myself a "racing" fan with respect for a motorsports across several genres. But I just can't care. I hate F1. Staggeringly overpriced, no passing, cars that fall apart if they so much as brush the wall, stuck up pompous drivers, no respect for any other forms or racing, outright disrespect for everything american, the list goes on and on.

Like I said, I want to care. But other than the simple fact that F1 is at it's core, auto racing, I can't find a single redeeming feature of the whole darn thing. Give me Nascar, give me GP, give me indy/cart, give me sprint cars at the local dirt track, heck, give me NHRA. Anything but the useless pile that is F1.

Julie said...

I thought it was one of the strangest press conferences I've seen - the production value was very high. I enjoyed the vignettes, but I don't usually expect to see those at press conferences. As you say, it was almost like Speed was this team's marketing arm - hyping the history and the potential significance of the team.

This kind of coverage certainly won't hurt them.

Anonymous said...

reading between the lines, it appears to me the background is obvious: bernie ecclestone desperately wants an F1 race in America, and he's now banking on the france family to help him out. and the frances have probably told him -- you get us a US driver running for a US F1 team, and we'll consider it.
Jim France could do at Daytona just what tony George did at Indy -- build a real F1 course in the infield. Bernie gets the Frances' political clout, he gets the Daytona mystique....and the Frances might push bernie to help out with their Grand Am series too....nothing else really makes any sense in this deal....

Dot said...

@ Photojosh and Anon 4:27, Ditto.

I am far from being a religious person, but I am praying that KyB goes F1 racing. He's already got the personality for it.

I wonder how the European teams will feel about the fans crawling all over the gargage area? They seem a little stuffy for that kind of stuff.

Gymmie said...

I wish Ken and Peter well. I hope it does work for them but will watch and see how it turns out.

Anonymous said...

i think they will have to get a big name driver to make it work in the U.S. and they'll have to do well right out of the box. i doubt kyle busch would go, but then again if my memory is correct, he bailed on jack roush before going to hendrick.

p.s. glad to see this site back. thanks for all your hard work you put into this.

p.p.s. seeing a replay from jeff gordons crash at vegas last year brought me back to the truck race at daytona with brent raymer. HOW IN THE WORLD DOES DAYTONA NOT HAVE SAFER BARRIERS ALL THE WAY AROUND IT??? IS IT GOING TO TAKE ANOTHER FATALITY TO GET IT DONE???

Knightmare said...

I, myself, would love to see an American F-1 team succeed.

I think Winsor has been around the sport long enough to have a pretty good idea of what will work and what won't. I also think his idea for making the American garage " fan friendly " is a good idea.

Think about it. One of the main reasons, in my opinion, that F-1 ( although it has a ' core ' following here in the States ) hasn't really caught on is because a lot of the racing fans in this country find F-1 to be too elitist. No, or very limited, contact with the drivers. No access to garage areas to see what goes into making one of those cars tick. That kind of thing, for American racing fans just doesn't work. Especially when we can go to the local short track and walk through the pits and check out the cars and meet the drivers.

As far as JPM and Scott Speed saying they don't want to go back to F-1....well...Juan has already proven himself in that venue. He moved on to NASCAR and is happy doing what he's doing. Scott Speed didn't exactly have a great experience there, so I can't really blame him for not wanting to go back.

By all means, bring an F-1 race to Daytona. Change the infield course there to be more F-1 friendly. let's get a couple hundred thousand people there to watch a really good race.

I wish the best of luck to the new American F-1 team.

Richard in N.C. said...

I was disappointed that there really was very little information that had not already been disclosed. I did find it interesting that Ryan McGee was there, so there should be some quality reporting. I was disappointed that no one tried to really pin them done as to whether or not they do already have full funding committed. The mainstream news reports I have seen have been uniformly skeptical of USF1's prospects, often short on real facts, and failed to mention Windsor's experience with the Williams and Ferrari teams. Since many have written that one of the prime reasons for limited US interest in F1 is the lack of American drivers, I can understand SPEED's interest in reporting on the possibility of a US based team with US drivers.

Vicky D said...

This was almost a NON-information press conference.