Sunday, October 12, 2014

V8 SUPERCARS - What Next?

So, Ford will pull out of the V8 Supercar Series at the end of 2015? Well, duh!!

Ford Australia will no longer manufacture any sort of Falcon after 2016, and the company has indicated privately to the V8 Supercar Series, that it is not interested in replacing the Falcon (or any financial support) with cars like the Mustang.
Where does this leave the series and its owners - the teams themselves and sundry investors?
Despite the herculean task of attracting Nissan


 The series is still really only about the homegrown rivalry between the Holden Lion and the Blue Oval.

Mind you, the three interlopers don't even make the cars which race in the series as genuine production cars, they are cobbled up racecars intended JUST for this series. Well, to be factual maybe Mercedes has a production version of its car.

And, on the weekend of the 2014 race you would have to ask if there is ANY future for this franchise?
Don't get me wrong, I am not creating a Scrooge complex here. I know there are hundreds of thousands of V8 Supercars fans with their eyes glued to the TV screens for hours this weekend, and I really don't intend this diatribe to be spoiling their fun, but really!
The V8 Supercar Series is a "Silhouette" race series! For the edification of anyone who has never heard this term before, this means that of the five makes you see racing in this series, the only things which are different about each car are:
1. The engine block
2. The bodyshells
3. The artwork and paint colors
4. The Drivers

That's it. The bodies are 'silhouettes' of the make they represent, fitted over absolutely IDENTICAL mechanical components. This means every single car uses the identical mechanical components:
1. The cylinder heads, induction/exhaust methods
2. The transmission
3. The rear axle and differential
4. The brakes
5. The steering
6. The aerodynamic package
7. Overall vehicle weight

This is intended for ONE reason only, and that is to deny every and any team the opportunity to exploit any advantage, by using their own, or 3rd party components. All these mechanical components are what are called "Control Parts" - stipulated by the managers of the franchise, which means they must all be identical from car to car.

So when the fans up on the mountain or at the Clipsal 500 are cheering on their favourtite 'local' V8s, they are cheering for the team, the sponsors and of course the driver! Because every car on the track is mechanically IDENTICAL. This is the only way, to make sure the racing is close.

The best precedent for this is NASCAR racing in the USA.

I know a lot of people can't stand Formula One as it presents itself today, but really, the facts are that despite animosity towards the FIA, Bernie, and particular drivers with their attitudes and egos, F1 DOES push mechanical research, development and innovation to the highest level, and despite similar overall specifications (engine type/vehicle weight/chassis dimensions), each team has its own solutions to the challenge of going faster than fellow competitors and winning.

Whereas, V8 Supercars is the greatest motor racing 'con job' ever pulled on Australian motor racing enthusiasts. It is nothing short of a total sham! The field is comprised of totally identical mechanical vehicles, with individual body panels, grafted over the top of identical chassis and painted in different colors and sponsor graphics. That's it. End of story.

The poor old punters get to have their emotional brand loyalties exploited so these teams can make money.

So where does the V8 Supercar franchise get the income to run the series? It comes from huge TV fees, sponsors, paying public and linked advertising. When you take away one of the main Australian-sourced contagonists, it's no longer a Ford-Holden battle, the very lifeblood of the series.

Then this so-called TV spectacle begins to look pretty shaky as a revenue generator, and business model. If I was an investor I would have done what IMG did a couple of years ago, and pulled out. They were really smart guys, led by one of the smartest guys in the money business, James Ingram!

Like all 'con jobs', the perpetrators get found out in the end, so I give V8 Supercars five years, at the most. I hope the owners/investors in the franchise have their thinking caps on!

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