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Author Topic: Where have all the Americans gone?  (Read 1522 times)

Offline Chameleon

Where have all the Americans gone?
« on: August 11, 2007, 01:01:43 PM »
I looked for a more accurate board to stick this on but there doesn't seem to be one.  It's sorta related to F1 and fairly relevant with Scott Speed's departure so I guess it'll be okay here.  Also, I was thinking of doing it for the blog but I doubt I know enough about American racing to carry it off successfully so it's probably best to throw it at you guys and gals and see what answers you come up with.

It is my contention that Scott Speed is probably the quickest American driver at the moment.  Although that looks like a wild statement, consider what competition he has - virtually none.  There's the next Andretti waiting in line, of course (there's always one, isn't there?), but from what I've seen and heard, he's not that impressive.  And who else?  This is where my knowledge gets a bit thin so I could be wrong, but I can't think of anyone offhand.

And Scott managed to keep up in F1, at least.  Liuzzi isn't useless and Scott raced better than him this season.  So I reckon I'm fairly safe with my outrageous statement.  But it begs the question: where did all the quick Americans go?  Take a look at Stateside series and what have you got?

Champ Cars is almost solidly European or South American as regards drivers and Bourdais (French) has walked away with the championship three years in succession.  His closest rival this year is good old Robert Doornbos, who couldn't hang on to his toehold in F1.  Doesn't say much for Bourdais, does it?  But that's not my point.

The IRL has quite a few Statesiders driving but they're very used to going in circles on ovals, of course.  And I don't see any outstanding talent there either.  NASCAR looks a bit more hopeful in that Montoya is only now beginning to win a few whereas theoretically he ought to have made them look silly by now.  But it's a very different form of racing, the cars are a bit primitive and, once again, they prefer ovals.  And when did a NASCAR driver ever make it into F1 anyway?

So where are the quick Americans hiding?  I can't believe that there just aren't any.  And why aren't they popping up from the lower formulae (and the States has some good ones, I believe) and taking Champ Cars by the scruff of the neck?  Is there so little competition in the States that foreign drivers can walk in and take all the seats just like that?  It seems weird.

In doing a bit of research for this, I came across an astounding fact that says it all.  Over here, especially in the south and west, you aren't really a man unless you drive a pick-up truck.  And they race the things in a series that is almost as big as NASCAR.  Would you believe that there's even a foreigner involved in that?  It's true, there's an Englishman who somehow got lost and ended up in truck racing in America!

We know that there is an over-supply of quick young drivers in Europe and that's why so many of them cross the pond and race in the States.  But, if there were a reasonably healthy supply of young American drivers, it wouldn't be so easy for foreigners to get seats, would it?  So where the heck are they?  What are the Americans doing that either discourages the growth of new talent or directs it into other streams that I haven't noticed yet?

Has anyone got any answers?  Come on, Dare and Cozzie, you must have thought about this a bit.  What the heck is going on?


Never mind me - read http://f1insight.madtv.me.uk/ :D

Offline johnbull

Re: Where have all the Americans gone?
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2007, 05:49:16 PM »
Strange that you must be writing this right now.

Only this morning I was reading a lovely article in Motorsport by Nigel Roebuck on Mario Andretti. It was a recent interview with perhaps North America's most successful racer.

Isn't he a character. From such humble beginnings. He is as keen to see young Marco succeed as I am to see Josh succeed.

His anecdotes about Chapman and his days at Lotus are superb. And he's such a charming person with it.

I haven't bought Motorsport since Dennis Jenkinson stoppeed writing in it years ago. I bought this one a few days ago - something to read at the airport, and it has some extremely interesting, well written articles.

I might get another one next month.
Joe M. Anastasi.
JOHN BULL RACING.   MALTA.
www.johnbullmalta.com

Offline pvbpoet

Re: Where have all the Americans gone?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2007, 12:34:28 AM »
Where have all the Americans gone? By the time our ins companys and sanctioning bodys don't allow drivers to drive until they are past their prime. If you don't get in an open wheel car in your early teens it just to late. It's been that way for years, I first drove a car (any car) in '62 at fifteen years old, running on my dad's SCCA license and qualified third at a national! If only I'd been able to keep at it...........
Onward and upward

Offline Chameleon

Re: Where have all the Americans gone?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2007, 01:09:53 AM »
Now that is very interesting, Pvb - I hadn't realized it was so difficult to get into open wheel racing at an early age over here.  That could well explain a lot.  But they do have youth karting series, don't they?  I would have thought that there'd be talent coming through from there.

Perhaps there's a gap between the time they need to move on from karts to when they're eligible for single seater racing.  That might explain why they wander off to other series like sportscars or NASCAR.
Never mind me - read http://f1insight.madtv.me.uk/ :D

Offline cosworth151

Re: Where have all the Americans gone?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2007, 03:26:58 PM »
Oh, where do I start. First, the pick-up truck thing is a myth. I'm as big an Appalachian hillbilly as you're likely to find, and I've only owned one in my 53 years. The pick-up truck racing is part of NASCAR. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is two steps down from the Cup. It's NASCAR's version of Formula 3.

There aren't many Americans in Champ Car because it gets very little notice over here. About the only stories in the media about it over here is speculation that it will soon go under. The IndyCar/Champ Car split has really hurt the standing of open wheel racing over here. NASCAR gets all the press and all the money. It's much easier to get into oval track racing over here because there are so many ovals and so very few road courses. There are 7 ovals withing an hour's drive from my house. I can only think of 2 road courses in the entire state, and one of them is in very bad shape. There aren't even many karting tracks. Road racing just isn't on the radar over here.

Most of the American road racers go to the American Le Mans Series or the Grand American Series. I think Marco has shown great promise. Remember, he's still quite young. Boris Said and Bobby Rahal's son, Graham are also out there.

As for no NASCAR drivers ever making it in F1, here are two pix of drivers early in their careers: Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney.

“You can search the world over for the finer things, but you won't find a match for the American road and the creatures that live on it.”
― Bob Dylan

Offline Chameleon

Re: Where have all the Americans gone?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2007, 05:34:20 PM »
Point taken re NASCAR drivers, Cozzie - I hadn't realized that Mario and Dan started out in that series (great pics, by the way).  It's been a while since they made the jump into F1 however.  And thanks for reminding me about Graham Rahal and Boris Said - had forgotten about them.

The real clincher is the lack of road courses, by the look of it.  Without road courses, it's difficult to see how America could ever become interested in a more European way of going racing.  The ones they do have are so good, however.

Obviously, it would take an enormous amount of investment to build up the number of tracks and that's not going to happen overnight.  I guess we just have to accept that there will only be the occasional American in F1 for the foreseeable future.

That about the pick-ups was a little tongue in cheek, of course.  I lived in Oklahoma for my first year in the States and down there the pick-ups outnumber the cars by about 4 to 1!
Never mind me - read http://f1insight.madtv.me.uk/ :D

Offline cosworth151

Re: Where have all the Americans gone?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2007, 05:49:21 PM »
There has been an upturn in new road circuit construction over here in the past few years. The closest new course around here is the Beaver Run circuit over by Pittsburg. Most of the new places are multi-layout circuits that can be configured in several different ways. Some of the configurations are meant to be for novices. I certainly hope the trend continues.

I tried to find a pix of my old pick-up. A 1969 Ford with one side caved in where it had been side-swiped by an overhanging load on a train! (before I bought it.) No shocks (dampers) to speak of. I used it to tow the race car until the steering box rusted off the frame.

Then I sold it to a friend. ;)

Cos
“You can search the world over for the finer things, but you won't find a match for the American road and the creatures that live on it.”
― Bob Dylan

Offline Chameleon

Re: Where have all the Americans gone?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2007, 05:54:38 PM »
Ah, there is hope for the future in that case.  Here's to the next American F1 champion!

A friend who will buy your old worn out truck is a friend indeed!  :D
Never mind me - read http://f1insight.madtv.me.uk/ :D

Offline johnbull

Re: Where have all the Americans gone?
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2007, 05:55:34 PM »
That pic of Dan Gurney must be a few years old.
Joe M. Anastasi.
JOHN BULL RACING.   MALTA.
www.johnbullmalta.com

Offline Chameleon

Re: Where have all the Americans gone?
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2007, 05:58:00 PM »
Well, Dan was in F1 in the sixties and it must have been taken before that.  The helmet is the dead giveaway, however.  Sometime in the late fifties, I'd guess...
Never mind me - read http://f1insight.madtv.me.uk/ :D

Offline cosworth151

Re: Where have all the Americans gone?
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2007, 06:18:39 PM »
Gurney is standing beside a 1963 Ford Galaxie in the pix. This was after his F1 stint with Porsche but before his Eagle days.

Back in the early 60's, NASCAR held an yearly race on the famous road course at Riverside, California. the Wood Brothers team would always field a second car for the race with a road racing driver in it. The Wood's used the number 21 on their car. (They still do.) The second, road racer car would be numbered 121. Both Gurney and Andretti drove the 121 in different years.

For the race at the Glen Sunday, Eddie and Len Wood put Boris Said in the 21 car.
“You can search the world over for the finer things, but you won't find a match for the American road and the creatures that live on it.”
― Bob Dylan

Offline Steven Roy

Re: Where have all the Americans gone?
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2007, 02:26:58 PM »
This question has been asked for decades now.  I remember when Mario retired peopel were asking where the next American potential champion whould come from.  Next year it will be 30 years since Mario won his championship.  (That's impossible surely..JPS Lotus, ground effects.. 30 years ago???)  In that time no American has looked like doing anything special in F1.

Red Bull spent a lot of money on their get an American into F1 program and they have scrapped it because they could find enough talent to get a return on their investment.

Offline cosworth151

Re: Where have all the Americans gone?
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2007, 07:46:53 PM »
Red Bull spent a lot of money on their get an American into F1 program and they have scrapped it because they could find enough talent to get a return on their investment.

The entire Red Bull Driver Search was a giant waste of time and money. Liuzzi and Klien haven't set the F1 world on fire. Others, such as Colin Flemming and John Edwards, completely vanished.

Open wheel road racing has completely dropped off the radar oveer here. Thanks to Bernie and Flavio's spoutings, there is much open hostility towards F1.
“You can search the world over for the finer things, but you won't find a match for the American road and the creatures that live on it.”
― Bob Dylan

 


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