So once again I had the pleasure of attending the Edmonton Indy this year and, like a baseball game, I seem to go to these for everything but the actual main event.

My favorite part of the show is the amateurs from the NASCC (Northern Alberta Sports Car Club) competing in 4 different classes at the same time. GTP2 was ridiculously competitive this year, with 9 placing on the same lap and the top 5 being within 10 second laps of each other. Being closed wheel and amateurs, the odds of screw-ups are spectacularly higher and the crashes are rarely ever at speeds which seem dangerous. There will be of course breakdowns, but that’s a small price to pay for seeing some really enthusiastic racers put on a show using cars whose capabilities are unknown.

Then there’s CASCAR, I mean NASCAR Canada, and the open wheel guys, who put on a really remarkable display of follow-the-leader. I have nothing against IndyCar, I think they put on a good show, but it’s not my cup of tea.

That is all. There was no point. If you feel let down, please let Jack Thompson know, because surely my video game obsession has something to do with the quality of this post.

When I went to Montreal last year, one of the things that struck me was just how prominent the tire squeal was on the lower classes of cars, like the Formula 1600 and Formula BMW. It gave you a bit better appreciation of how much they were fighting for grip, whereas it was completely drowned out by the engines on the higher classes.

I attended the Houston Grand Prix last year, mainly to see the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race, but they had some local racers there too. They put on more of a demo than a race, but they were very fun to watch.

I will soon be headed to Road America to see the ALMS, as well as the Speed World Challenge racers and a number of other races. I am pretty passionate about the ALMS. Like the NASCC you describe, they race 4 classes at once which means there is plenty of passing as traffic stirs the pot. In general I strongly prefer the tin-tops over the open-wheel racers…the closer the car is to production the happier I am.

I will say racing sims on the PC give you a good appreciation of the difficulty of putting a car on the limits, without all that personal danger or extreme $$ for real-wrld cars and parts. You may or may not know (I didn’t) that every tire’s max grip occurs when it is sliding a bit (creating the screech). Depending on the tire type/make, the max typically occurs somewhere between about 2 and 10 degrees drift. The best drivers are putting the car right into this window lap after lap, on braking, accel, or cornering, and in traffic.

Wow, did you see the ALMS race at Montreal today? Seems like some teams need to work on their fuel strategies a bit…

(For those that didn’t, the DP leader and ‘obvious’ winner by a fairly good margin wound up running out of fuel and getting passed by two other cars just meters away from the finish line, for the new record for closest finish in ALMS history. Something similar happened in GT as well, slightly farther away.)

I taped it as I was packing for my trip, but the race was a Grand Am not ALMS. Te next ALMS race airs on Speed on Sunday 8/10 at 1p CT.

Grand Am is also sports cars, but with some differences. I’m going to generalize below, but it should give you an idea of the two series.

The Grand Am prototypes (DPs or Daytona Prototypes) are very strictly regulated. This is why the cars look very much alike, and produces close racing as the cars are pretty evenly matched. This also keeps costs in check for the teams.

THe ALMS prototypes are less regulated, so you see more experimentation and variation (and $$ spent). For example, a big deal in ALMS and LMS right now how well the turbo diesel cars are doing relative to traditional gasoline powered cars. This variation leads to some interesting matchups. For example, the Audi diesel prototypes have incredible torque which results in awesome speed off the corners, but are heavy which hurts the handling. The Acura and Porsche prototypes are lighter and more nimble, but do not have as much power and speed. This leads to some very interesting race strategies playing out. The ALMS protos are not far removed from being a F1 cars with a larger body.

In Grand Am, the GT class allows both production-derived racers (like the Porsche 911s) and frame-built cars (like the Mazda RX7 and the Pontiac). The frame-built cars are funny-cars, ie the look like what you could buy on the street but under the skin they are purpose built racers within nothing even production-like except the engine. What Grand Am then does is basically rules-lawyer the cars into rough equality. This car is too fast so it gets a weight penalty, this car is too slow so it gets to add a bit more aero or whatever.

The ALMS GT cars have to be production-based. The governing board (in France, actually) approve cars into the series, but they rarely make adjustments. They expect the manufacturers and teams to find the extra speed if they aren’t doing so good. This does mean the GT cars are all strictly sports cars, like the 911, the Ferrarri 430, and the Vette. Last year Ferrarri dominated. This year its pretty even between the 430 and the 911. Next year, the BMW M3 will be back and they are usually very good.

If you are like me and prefer the production based cars, you should keep an eye out for both the Koni challenge series and the Speed challenge series (both on the speed channel, but often at strange times). Both are a bit lower on the professional ladder, but both series run a much wider variety of production-based cars. Mustangs, Vipers, Vettes, Minis, Acuras, Subie WRX, BMW Z4 and M3, etc.

I tape and watch the Grand Am, but in general I prefer ALMS.

Duh, right, I somehow got them mixed up in my head between watching and posting… And whoops, I hope I didn’t spoil anything for you. :(

As follow-up, Road America was a excellent place to see racing. The track had an incredible number of excellent viewing places, and the food was reasonably priced and tasty. The ALMS race was good, once they got past a few cautions at the beginning. My pleasant suprise was how friendly the Speed World Challenge drivers and racers were. We got repeated pulled into thier workshops in the paddock and allowed to look at the cars close up and ask questions. My son got offered to sit in several of the cars. Plus I think the TC class race was the best race of the weekend…it airs on Speed at 1p CT on Weds for people who are interested.

I am hoping to go to Mosport this weekend (where the main event is ALMS and there are about 10 support races). I went last year and it was the best racing weekend I’ve ever been to, which I guess is not saying all that much.

I’ve been to two IndyCar races this season (Indy and Richmond) and basically your problem is you saw them on a road course. IndyCars are far more entertaining in person at an oval because the speeds are so high, higher than NASCAR by a massive amount, especially at a place like Richmond.

Still, the Edmonton race had a reasonable amount of action and it’s the rare road course where you can see a lot of the track. Also, Paul Tracy’s run was a good one.

I highly recommend any race fan making at least one trip to the Speedway to see the Indy 500 once in their life. There is just nothing like it anywhere. I go every year.

I do have going to the Indy 500 on my list of to-do…probably in year or two.

The only thing I really like about road courses and sports cars over Indy cars on ovals is you can really see the cars slipping around. Indy cars seem glued to the track due to the downforce they generate. I know they have some serious driving to stay in the groove in the corners, but watching sports car drivers fight traffic and slip and slide the cars around is really exciting.

Yikes, I only just realized now after looking at my PVR’s schedule just how packed tomorrow’s television coverage is. GP2, F1, Grand Am, ALMS, and Indy…

Tomorrow? Bristol is happening right now!

Last weekend’s racing was packed, as Fugitive mentioned. The ALMS race at Mosport was very exciting at the end.

Tomorrow the Speed Challenge races are on Speed, then we get ALMS at Detroit on Saturday, and Grand Am at New Jersey on Sunday.

FYI, this site is how I try to keep up:

Phil Hill, R.I.P.

F1 is gay.

I can’t believe a bunch of suits think they can strip someone’s win hours after he crosses the finish line due to a controversy that had no effect on the final outcome of the race.

What a retarded racing series.

Yeah, the decision has been almost universally hated at all the usual spots I check. The move did look a bit dodgy to me – I’d prefer if they had to go at least one car length back to give up the position, not just dip the nose back slightly – but it seemed within the rules as they are.

Political fallout from last year? Who knows, but it’s kind of disheartening that it’s even plausible to suspect so…

F1 is often not the most exciting of sports, and then they get a fantastic race like this with an astounding duel that had pretty much everything.

And then they ruin it for all involved by deciding after the race that Hamilton shouldn’t have the victory. Pathetic, really.

The violation by Hamilton isn’t really the part worth arguing about, it’s the form of the penalty. Just dock some points, levy a huge fine, and get on with racing.

Spa is too historic to go screwing with the podium after the fact. Winning there means something for drivers.

It was a terrible decision by the stewards, but the +25 sec penalty is clearly stated in the rules of the FIA. Obviously with no regard as to how the public would view the application of said penalty. Then again, when has the FIA ever been concerned about appearing to favor Ferrari or tweaking results to create a closer championship?

As for Lewis’ move, it was a close call. Once you cut a part of the track, you put yourself at the mercy of the stewards and should make it very clear that you’re letting your opponent retake his spot. Lewis gave Kimi the smallest possible advantage as they crossed the start/finish line. I thought it was amazingly well timed and executed, but it wouldn’t have pleased the trackside judges. Heck, it even surprised Kimi, as you could see from the twitching of his car. But I don’t believe Lewis should’ve been penalized in light of the circumstances i.e. track conditions, Kimi’s own moves, and, yes, consideration of the public outcry.

Max Mosley deserves to be whipped for this.

By a Nazi dominatrix, perhaps? :)