Ron Dennis: Comprehensive Interview

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how important tobacco money has been to F1 and the lack of it is making the pinnacle of motorsport a bit laughable at times.

Well, I happened upon this comprehensive interview with Ron Dennis, the man who made what McLaren was – until the consortium led by Mansur Ojjeh booted him. It’s a thoroughly pleasurable viewing experience, going way back to the days of the Brabham team, and onto the days of Senna, Mikka and more. It’s also very interesting that Phillip Morris was the primary source of funding to grow the team into what it ultimately became – multiple constructor and driver champion.

Huge props to the American Academy of Achievement for the interview that we share above. Also check out their YouTube channel for more scintillating interviews with other overachievers.

Hot Import Nights: Los Angeles (March 30, 2019)

In what I can describe as a flashback moment, Chris and i decided to visit the first Hot Import Nights of the year. Not to date myself, but I was at the original HIN way back in the day, shot many iterations of this show – HIN, Hot Import Daze, Import Revolution – and so on. Glad to see that there are still some souls passionate about upgrading their car game from the very basic bolt-ons to full engine swaps.

Chris shot some video but you’ll have to wait a bit for that. In the meantime, enjoy the photos below!

F1 Steering Wheels: We Have It Way Easy

Maybe I am getting old. I don’t like all these damn buttons on steering wheels these days. On my Lexus, there are so many buttons that do all sorts of things it seems – voice command (which, by the way, is the worst system ever made… and not just based on my opinion), lane departure warning, “back’ button, volume control, media “mode” and on and on. In my Evo IX, there’s one horn button. Nothing else. Not even a cruise control button because, well, it doesn’t have cruise control.

While I long for days of simplicity in passenger cars, motorsports continues to innovate and revolutionize. Nearly every aspect of performance can be tweaked from the steering wheel, even engine maps – is this why I have an “economy” mode, a “normal” mode, “Sport” mode and a “Sport+” mode for my car? Compared to the typical steering wheel on an F1 race car, however, we have it easy. Way easy.

The Steering Wheel, as Explained by Valtteri Bottas

Donut Media did a fantastic job of visualizing the evolution of the F1 steering wheel in this video for those who are completely green to current racing technology.

Tobacco Advertising in Formula 1

Fernando Alonso in the Renault R25
Ayrton Senna in the Williams FW16
Ayrton Senna in the McLaren MP4/4
Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari F2002
David Courthard in the McLaren MP4/14
Ayrton Senna in the Lotus Honda 99T

Just take a look at those gorgeous F1 cars from years past. My first memories of Formula 1 go back to 1988 in the old turbocharged era, when those 1.5L V6 engines were producing an excess of 1,000 horsepower. Oh yeah… cast iron blocks, 9:1 compression ratio and so on. Sorry, I went off on a tangent there.

So what do you see when looking at all the racecars above? Sure, lots of Senna but what else? Simply, there were all sponsored by a tobacco company. Marlboro, West, Mild Seven, Camel, Rothmans and many more. And it’s in this commercial era where we’ve had some of the best racing in memory and the most radical rate of development and innovation.

Based on “health & safety” concerns, tobacco advertising was banned from Formula 1 in 2006, effective with the start of the 2007 season. it effectively halted the biggest stream of sponsorship dollars to the sport and left teams scrambling to find new title (or otherwise) sponsors.

Last year, Ferrari tried to get around this advertising ban by integrating Phillip Morris’ Mission Winnow “initiative.” Even after going through their website, I still have no effin’ clue what it is that they do. Interestingly enough, PM has never stopped being a Ferrari sponsor. They just couldn’t use any of the livery space on the car. The Australians apparently weren’t very happy about this ploy, as Ferrari has been forced to remove Mission Winnow branding from the car for the upcoming Australian GP.

Wait…! What about the other “sin product” that’s been given free reign over the years to advertise as much as they want? Johnnie Walker, Martini, Heineken, Molson, Foster’s, Labatt’s, Chandon, Singha, Kingfisher. What’s taking so damn long for the same talking heads to address banning or limiting advertising by alcohol producers? Hell, Heineken is the title sponsor for the Chinese and Italian Grands Prix in 2019. And Johnnie Walker is the title sponsor for the Belgian Grand Prix. How the hell does this make sense?

But it’s not just tobacco and alcohol companies that are “killing people.” Let’s take a look at the general records of current Formula 1 sponsors:

And this isn’t even the whole list! What about all those tech companies, such as Lenovo and HP, making their computers through vendors like Foxxconn… who pay their employees the equivalent of $200 US per month… indentured servitude. Suicides. These don’t count, right?

You may counter that the companies above aren’t directly killing people like cigarettes. That it’s false equivalency. On the contrary, all of these companies are doing real damage to the global society at large, directly or indirectly. Why should they be given a pass when it comes to advertising in F1? How is it okay to spill hundreds of millions of crude oil into the ocean which starts an extremely dangerous chain reaction from contaminating sea life (and birds too!), destroying ecosystems, YOU eating that contaminated seafood and eventually getting cancer.

I am NOT a fan of smoking in any shape or form. I find it disgusting. I WAS a smoker for 10 years but I quit cold turkey almost 9 years ago. It stinks and makes me sick. But it’s completely wrong for the “elites” at the WHO to determine that tobacco advertisers can’t advertise in F1, yet plenty of other industrial and consumer brands, that kill just as effectively, can go wherever and do whatever they want. It’s a farce.

Paddy Lowe Takes Leave of Absence From Williams F1

Williams in Deep Shit Yet Again

The car was absolute shit last year. Williams was late to the party this year, launching their 2019 challenger nearly 2 days late for testing at Catalunya.

Is this a surprise to anyone?

But is the problem Paddy Lowe? Or is it Claire Williams? Ever since Patrick Head retired and Frank delegated day-to-day running of the team to his kids, the team has gone down hill. No coincidence.

Polska! Robert Kubica Reppin Hard in F1

If this happened in the age of Hunt & Lauda, he’d be DEAD

Long time fans of F1 will remember the absolutely horrific crash in 2007 at the Canadian Grand Prix. Kubica bounced around the circuit pretty much like a pinball, his BMW Sauber disintegrating before our eyes. Amazingly enough, he walked away relatively unscathed by the whole thing. Guess he couldn’t be bothered by it. Hell, he came back to the same circuit a year later and won the race.

Luck (or lack thereof) bit Kubica hard the next time around, doing some serious damage this time around

Then in February 2011, Kubica suffered a huge accident at a rally event in Italy. It did some serious damage to his right arm and no one thought at that point if he would ever race – let alone drive – ever again.

But this guy is about as indestructible as any superhero, as he is set to start a Formula 1 race yet again in the seat of a Williams. And while doing 70% of the driving with his left hand.

If THAT isn’t repping yourself and your countrymen hard, then I have no clue what it’d be. Mistrz Kubica is.