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The TACH Report: No French GP in 1998; Mexicali Grand Prix Set; Pro SportsCar, Where are You?

9 October 1997

The F.I.A., in Paris, France, has announced that the June 28, 1998 French Grand Prix at Magny Cours has been dropped from the Formula One schedule, due to hassles regarding the TV rights for the event. The FIA/FOCA guys don't screw around: pulling the plug cost some TV network a bundle of dough. The Portugese Grand Prix--which did not run this year--is provisional for 1998. Safety stuff and course conditions have to meet FIA specs.

Stateside, Tecate Beer has said it will be the title sponsor of a three race, California-Mexico border, road race series featuring Porsches, sports cars, baby grands, and sportsman stock cars. March 19 they will race in Tijuana, May 15 in Mexacali on a 1.5 mile course, and October 9-11 wil be the Tecate GP, celebrating the town's (What town? We don't know.) 105th anniversary. All this in 1998.

The Pro SportsCar premier events for 1997 take place at Sebring, FL on Oct 18 and Laguna Seca, CA the following week. European FIA Touring cars will invade the U.S. to take on the cars like Ferrarri, R&S Olds and Fords, Spice, Panoz, and Viper. On paper it should be a fantastic racing weekend, IF it comes off. We can't get our hands on an entry list at this late date, though SportsCar does have a schedule of events prepared. In view of Andy Evans' troubles with the USRRC, who knows what will happen? When you figure all teams involved are running for championship points (I wonder what they really mean), I guess the cars will make the races.

As you would figure, Mercedes, with typical Tuetonic thoroughness and aplomb, are moving half of the Stuttgart plant to Florida and California to care for their two $1.5 million CLK racers. Feature this: the four race cars will be flown over to the U.S. One transporter (the things are about two city blocks long) left Bremen on a ship to Jacksonville, FL, and a second hauler went from Antwerp, Belgium to Florida. Then everything heads for the airplane hangers at Sebring. One loaded with tools/spares truck weighs 70 tons. After Sebring, the German contingent tows 2,900 miles to Monterey, CA.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway, this weekend's site of the final IRL race for 1997, has tied in with the American Dairy Association and opened a Kids Car Zone at the race track. It will be free of charge to kids and will feature 11 interactive attractions. Milk will be featured in Victory Lane and kids will be able to pose for pictures with the car of Davey Hamilton.

King of Speed Kenny Bernstein--who was shut out in NHRA competition at Memphis last week in Top Fuel but copped the title at Topeka a week previous--is headed for the scene of his bigget racing accomplishment, Dallas, TX, Oct 18. Bernstein will try to better his 319 mph world record run. Kenny is in fifth place and only 13 points out of number four spot.

Federal recalls of passenger cars and trucks include:

1996-97 GMC Safari    
18,972 units         Faulty outboard safety belt webbing

1988-91 Buick Regal, Chevy Lumina, Monte Carlo, Olds Cutlass 
676,580 units        Faulty rear cradle bolts on car sub-frame

1991-96 Nissan  G-20          
85,000 units	     Fuel filler tube can corrode

1997 Toyota Previa 
707 units	     Faulty oil seperator plate in differential housing

There's a new car book--a real book--getting rave revues: the history of the design, production and launch of the new Ford Taurus. It's titled "CAR: A drama of the American workplace," and written by Mary Walton. If you like cars, the car industry and all the machinations, sweat, hair pulling and just plain talent and perserverance that goes into bringing a completely new automobile to market, this is the book for you. If you go to the library you'll find there is a waiting list. No one, not even someone in the car industry--which, in one way or another employs 1 out of every 7 Americans--could conceive the scope of the 10,000 tasks that go into design and decisions, electronics to environment, pricing to production. The book goes coast to coast letting you sit in strategy meetings: should we or shouldn't we bring out a new model? It looks at engineer/designer/legal and sales department interaction. It describes hot and cold weather tests, focus groups, component testing, advertising/public relations strategy, and the auto show introductions--which in some cases cost over $1 million for a couple hours of sow biz hype. This book should be made into a TV mini-series to substitute the usual vapid soap opera romances for a look at how the families of the 80 hour per week launch team members were effected. Good, good stuff.

Bill Maloney The Auto Channel