In following sports car racing, one of the trends that is watched with interest is the constant change of cars from season to season. It can be both fun and heartbreaking to watch as you anticipate what car various teams will be using from season to season. Different manufacturers rise and fall in prominence each year, and you feel a bit sad if it’s one of your favorites that begins to fade. This is also true of series and regions. Cars that are widely raced in Europe, may have a smaller presence in the U.S. and vise versa. At one time Aston Matins were few on most grids, now they are pretty much ubiquitous.
Myself as a Ferrari lover, had noticed a downward trend in their use here as compared to Europe and Asia. 2022 saw a bit of a change in trajectory compared to the last few years. In part this can be attributed to the emergence of Triarsi Competizione. With two to three entries per race in Fanatec GT World Challenge North America, and as a major player in Ferrari Challenge, they seem to have ignited renewed interest in the 488 GT. I can’t help but feel the the new 296 GT3 will spark even more interest in the brand, and we should see the prancing horse once again prominent on many future grids.
Sample of entry prominence by Series (in no particular order)
– FANATEC GT Europe: AMG, Audi, Mclaren
– FANATEC GT North America: AMG, Lamborghini, Acura
– FANATEG GT Asia: Audi, AMG, Porsche
– IMSA: Porsche, AMG, BMW,
– British GT: AMG, Aston Martin, McLaren
This may not be 100% accurate, I’m just doing it from memory. It is just meant to show the variety of makes, and where they are popular. We are now in a new year, and there have already been announcements of teams switching to different brands. And so it goes on, and will continue to.
Change is a natural part of motorsports. Every year brings new cars, new teams, new drivers etc. However sometimes these changes are quite large, and ushers in a new era for a particular series. The last time this happened in IMSA, was 2017 with the entry of the DPI Prototype class. After the mishmash that came with combining the original P1 class and Daytona prototypes of the old Grand-AM, it was an exciting and welcome change. Since it’s inception it has provided a consistent number of entries, and some of the best prototype racing we have had on this side of the pond for some years. Gone were the days of only 2 or 3 prototype cars per race. Sure, even in DPI, cars came and left, and so did teams, but the field size remained healthy and consistent.
So with that said, we now bid a very fond farewell to the DPI era. Having brought us many hours of great racing, it will be missed. But it is not a sad farewell as what comes next promises to be every bit as exciting. The new GTP (LMDh in Europe) looks to be a new chapter in prototype racing which will carry the series forward worldwide for many years to come.
This however is not the only class leaving next year. I will cover that in the next post. I will leave you with a few of my favorite DPI shots through the past years.
I’ve known about the Vintage Indy Registry for some time now, but had never seen it in person. Members of the registry painstakingly preserve vintage Indy cars between the years of 1930 and today. Like most who witness this spectacle, you wish the the cars would go a bit faster than parade speed. However you have to remember many of these cars are one of a kind, or the only one left in existence. To spin or wreck one would be an immeasurable loss. So like me you overlook this, and feel privileged just to see them at all.
This brings me to my point. I was 12 in 1968 when the STP Lotus Turbine made its debut at Indianapolis. I was so enamored with this car that I had pictures from magazines, built models of it, and even had the Hot Wheels version. At the SONSIO Indy Grand Prix, I got to live a dream. I not only was able to see and photograph it, I also got to hear the turbine in person for the time. A lot of fond memories of my childhood came flooding back, and I am still savoring them today.
If you attended an American Le Mans series race in 2010, the one thing you couldn’t avoid seeing was the name Tequila Patron. As series sponsor there name was everywhere. They were also team and car sponsors throughout all of the different classes. While they relinquished the series sponsorship to TUDOR in 2014, they remained a big part of the series as a team sponsor. First sponsoring the Highcroft Honda HPD ARX-01e, it would later be Extreme Speed Motorsports who would become the primary benefactor of their sponsorship dollars. In hindsight I guess you could say it was inevitable. After being acquired by the Bacardi corporation who has never shown any serious interest in U.S. motorsports it has been decided to no longer sponsor the EMS prototype team after this season.
One of the unavoidable facts of racing is that sponsors come and go as the need suits them. After all it is their money. Teams are in a constant struggle to find the dollars needed to keep going and remain competitive. We can only wish Scott Speed and his EMS team the best of luck in finding new sponsorship, as a consistently competitive and winning team, it should be possible. We hope they will return to the series in 2019.