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Old 06-21-2006
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John Greist on the New Skippy Car

The New Skippy Race Car


Reading the newsletter that just arrived, reminding us all that the final decision on the new car(s) has not been made, I thought it worth another round of discussion. That missive wisely recognized that price is pivotal for success of the racing school and several race series programs. While combining East, Midwest Regional and Masters National race series generates large fields, the overall number of racers is substantially smaller than it was 10 years ago with separate East and Midwest series (there was no separate Masters National series) that came together only once a season at Mid Ohio for a shoot out. A similar pattern occurred with Southern and Western Series.

What attracted these large fields? Close racing in the Formula Dodge cars that were virtually as fast overall and decidedly quicker and better drafting on the straights than the RT-2000s. The Formula Dodges were more challenging (ask Jim Pace to show the DVD of Barry Waddell and him with big lifts at the Kink at Road America before restrictor plates) and fun to drive (that’s where Gerardo earned his moniker about comedic slip angles).

What’s my point? The new cars we’ve been seeing are appealing in appearance, but almost everyone acknowledges they’ll cost more and will raise the cost of racing. The present weekends are already about 50% masters drivers, far more than 10 years ago, probably because of discretionary income. There’s little if any apparent problem with pricing for racing school, but getting graduates to become season long racers is another matter and I think cost is the determining factor. If the new car led to a freeze in race weekend costs – better yet, a figurative roll back – I believe more graduates would become long-term Skip Barber Race Series regulars.

What car would accomplish these goals? A mix of the ideas being considered now, with contained cost the primary objective. Fast (but not faster), fun, fixable, equal and safe cars that reward skill. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a tube frame or carbon-fiber tub; nor do wings, which add more crash damage cost than down force; nor slicks that delay the program when it rains – and all but the National Kids series have been wisely put back on treads. Quickly movable pedals; a larger cockpit; increasing power as one moves from School, to Regional, to National Series; bigger fuel cells to permit longer races; whatever design features would make the cars easier and quicker to repair; less expensive transmissions; and slicker bodies would be high on my list – finesse wings except perhaps for the National Series which might support a cost premium.

What keeps us coming back to Skip Barber Racing? Affordable cost, superb staff, great race tracks, and fun fellow racers ¬- not newer and more expensive cars. The middle two features make Skip Barber Racing unique; without affordable cost, there will be fewer fellow racers.

- John Greist

Last edited by sydude; 07-10-2006 at 04:02 PM. Reason: Fixed ownership of post for John Greist
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Old 06-21-2006
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I threw my newsletter away. Anyone got a copy they can scan and upload?
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Old 06-21-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

I've been saying it for years. If SBRS continues on its present course a race weekend will eventually consist of two racers. Sy and Peter will each pay $150,000 (per weekend) to sit in carbon fiber cars with paddle shifters and full electronics, brake bias control and all the bells and whistles.

Guys like me and others who can afford a weekend or two (unless we crash in the first weekend) will be doing other things or possibly racing karts. This is my 10th year with SBRS and it gets harder and harder to keep-up. While my salary increases 1 to 3% per year my Skippy costs are increasing 10 to 15% per year.

I could be wrong, but I think the school will be only a memory in a few years.

OLDMAN
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Old 06-21-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Great letter John! As always you hit the nose nipple on the head. We're seeing the West Coast Series increase in numbers but we're still a long way from having the strength that puts the Skippy higher ups minds in a state that leads to booking some of the great but somewhat remote racetracks in the west. I fear an increase in the cost due to a sexy, high tech car would just compound this problem. It's not an easy decision for them. On the one hand they want to attract young drivers like Marco Andretti (you may have heard of him) so they have bragging rights for marketing. But in reality, it's the old farts like us that keep coming back each year that really fill the grid. I may be wrong but I think most of us don't care that much the design of the car as long as it keeps running, is consistant car to car, is reasonably comfortable and very safe. Racing is by no means cheap, but I agree that a major goal in designing this car should be cost containment. The RT's are not a great car and need to be replaced. But to significantly increase the already high price of racing to create and maintain a fleet of new, state of the art vehicles will likely lead to a greater loss of drivers than it will attract. Bit of a rock and a hard place. How about detachable wings that can be removed after the photo shoot. Later, Tom Roberts
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Old 06-21-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

I much appreciate John taking the time to start ("restart" may be more appropriate) this discussion.

One of the things I would like to add regarding the economics of racing has little to do with the new car per se, but can have a dramatic effect on the cost of racing. The issue is crashes. Racing is a dangerous sport and crashes are inevitable. I've crashed. And everyone of us has been involved or caused a crash at one time or another. Those of us silly enough to race need to budget accordingly. However, I believe that there is far too much tolerance for crashes and for drivers who crash regularly. This is a managable issue that needs to be addressed (beyond the obvious safety issue) to remedy one of the more "costly" oversights of the racing series. Tolerence in the series of the rich and infamous is, to my mind, bad business.

And for the record, if this means that I get moved out of a particular class, are required to take more training/lapping days, or get thrown off the track altogether, so be it. With rare exception, no one at Skip Barber Racing is that malicious to abuse such a policy. But without a policy, there is anarchy.

Interestingly, last week when a bunch of us were at Racing America in Foxboro, the manager there (Yury Lyako) spoke of the discipline of the youngest driver groups that race there (and in subsequent outdoor series). He said these kids learn from the get go about what it means to be a good race car driver and, more importantly, they inculcate (internalize) the need to control themselves when out on a race course. Yury said there are less "incidents" with these young drivers than any other group. Moreover, they police themselves both on and off the track. Given that the majority of Skip Barber racers have already been imprinted psychologically such a prospect is daunting. However, there are several lessons in these facts that represent an opportunity to keep the cost of racing down (not eliminated, but more managable). One is that these kids make the sport safer for one another. The other is more of them participate, demonstrated by the number of girls getting into the sport these days (yes Dana has something to do with it as well). To my mind, women are very good market demographic if you're running a race series. If a race series relies on rich, old men who act like spoiled rotten teenagers, with little regard to the distructive potential that a race car represents - than the future of that series will die with the ageing of those drivers.

There are creative ways to make a race series work. One is to make bad drivers "pay" by requiring more training days and personal instruction (good for the instructors and the series). I'll leave some other thoughts for another time. Success in running any business, is not just about generating top line revenue, it's about managing to the bottom line at the same time. Addressing the crash damage issue would go a long way to satisying both.
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Old 06-21-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

DON i dont like it when you get all serious CUT IT OUT
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Old 06-21-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

The point about the old FD vs. the Rt is telling. I would go with a car similar to a Van Dieman FF, same size wheels, no wings. Means good drafting, netural handling and nice fourwheel drifts.
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Old 06-21-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

How about lapping days in a new Formula Dodge equivalent for $ 795 and correspondingly reduced costs for practice and racing? Would that make it attractive to give up wings and revert to an H pattern transmission that we have to shift?
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Old 06-21-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

A Van Diemen Formula Ford is intriguing.

Do most people agree the R/T 2000 should be replaced? If not, what does the R/T 2000 need?

If the R/T should be replaced, John Greist has a nice list of items, many of which I believe have been or are being considered, but my boss would rather I didn't get into details.

What has not yet happened is a cost presentation from SBRS. Until the information is calculated and presented, we won't really know what the costs will be. I too want to see a price reduction to attract more drivers.

That said, if cost containment is the top priority (along with safety and equality), then you guys should be writing letters to SBRS asking for just that. The guys in the field hear you, but make sure the corporate leadership hears you too.

Donald, on your crash containment point, believe me, they tell us ALL THE TIME to help drivers not crash. It happens to the best of us. Behind the scenes, when you're not watching, we do the right thing.
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Abhi Ghatak the senior VP of Operations at SBRS spent some phone time with us today addressing concerns raised by John (The voice of reason) Griest, Bob (Cassandra) Manzella and Tom (Left Coast) Roberts. J

First… You can’t speak with Abhi and not feel his excitement and passion for both racing and the new racecar. He is very clear about his mission to design a smart fun multi use platform that will stand up to the heavy week in, week out abuse that SBRS gives its racecars at a cost below that of the current car.

Abhi would like those going to Road America to know that he will have both prototypes there for viewing. He will be taking small groups of customers (about 10 at a time) to visit the cars for brief focus group sessions to find out what they like and don’t like about the cars. Sadly, you won’t be driving them but you will be able to sit in them and discuss the features that are most important to you as a driver & racer. We recommend you read this article and prepare yourself to contribute feedback that will help shape the car you race in the future.

“Have you ever driven a Crossle Formula Ford, that the RT was based on, in its original configuration?” Abhi asked. “No” we had to admit. “Well it’s a very sweet handling racecar, quite different from the current RT whose handling was compromised seriously when many pounds of structural steel were added to the nose and other areas to make it more crashworthy”.

Abhi explained that the RT evolved over time in a manor that gradually reduced its handling to a state that is currently, by most standards, rather unforgiving. As many of you know the RT doesn’t transmit a lot of warning before swapping ends and the new car should give much more warning of trouble coming on. Softening the car enough to tell you it’s spinning is well within the performance envelope of the new car and long gone from the old one. So you will have a more stable and predictable racecar with the fringe benefit of fewer surprises and less crash damage.

BTW… Jason H.’s tester feedback on the prototypes forgiving handling was, “Wow, it talks to you for 10 seconds before it spins! “ Enough said.

In terms of cost reduction for the new car Abhi explained his method using an ABC model.

All car components and parts are seen in 3 categories: “A” “B” & “C”

“A” parts are proprietary parts unique to the car and it’s manufacturer such as the tub and certain body parts. The rights to those proprietary parts will revert to SBRS at a specific negotiated date so they can control those costs going forward.

“B” parts are commercial racing or production car parts such as engines, tires, brakes, drive shafts, shocks, radiators etc that can be reduced in expense through bulk purchases and with sponsorship from manufacturers.

“C” parts are non-special parts (nuts, bolts, clamps etc.) that can be purchased in highly discounted bulk form from any supplier.

Some of the ways the prototypes are likely to change from their current configuration:

• The lovely and expensive ovoid aero suspension tubing will become stock round tubing.
• Front and rear uprights will be simplified and less expensive to replace
• Crash boxes will be simple aluminum.
• Wings manufactured in durable cheap easily replaceable extruded plastic are being investigated.
• Inexpensive nose sections are a high priority.
• Side pods with higher ground clearance so that crossing stones and high curbs during spins won’t damage pods and radiators.
• Throwaway Kevlar panels to protect the tub from damage by suspension parts in front end crashes.
• All motor equalization done electronically using drive by wire throttle technology. (No more Super Traps!) Cars can be easily tuned up or down for school events or race series events.
• Every car will have a GPS based data acquisition system that will allow you to download lap data tracking your line for every lap you drive. In all likelihood you will insert a memory card into a slot on the dash at the start of your session and remove it at the finish for instant feedback.
• The cars will likely be submitted for FT3 certification (The FIA crash worthiness test) to make them true “World” cars that can be certified for race series in other countries.

The goal is to have the new car cost 10% below the current car to build while also designing it to be repaired after crashes much more cheaply and easily. A $650 drive shaft currently required might become an over engineered Jetta drive shaft that costs $60 off the shelf. Abhi bubbles over with creative low cost solutions to problems that currently strangle us all with high crash damage bills. They reckon if the crash damage costs go up any higher 60% of their customers will go away. Given those figures there is high motivation to lower crash damage expenses with smart engineering and parts selection while keeping the cars fun to drive.

This week two mechanics with no prior seat time will be sent through a three-day racing school driving both prototypes to give their five speed transmissions appropriately ham fisted school abuse conditions to see how they hold up.

When Abhi was first contacting manufacturers about building prototypes one of them turned up their nose when he said, “I don’t want you to build an exotic racecar, I want you to build a taxi cab.” What they weren’t grasping was that SBRS racecars cover more track time in a week than most purpose built racecars do in an entire season and the design parameters have to be different as a result.

We were impressed with the depth of thought and action being given this project by Abhi and SBRS. We were also saddened to learn that Abhi will leave his full time position, as VP of Operations on July 5th. The good news is that he will continue to monitor the birth of the new car as a consultant to SBRS after returning to the Boston area and his former life as a strategic level IT consultant. In the times we’ve spoken to Abhi his fierce intelligence, enthusiasm and communication skills never fail to impress. The company will be hard pressed to find his replacement but thankfully he will also have a hand in breaking in whoever fills his shoes. If you see Abhi at RA or anywhere else you might want to thank him for devoting himself so wonderfully for the past two years to the development of a racecar we will most likely be enjoying for years to come.

While you can't really go back to the old cars, it looks like the new car is being developed with a view of growing the SBRS racing community into the future with an affordable vehicle that will attract big sponsorship, up and coming race series, and the masters, grand masters and great grand masters we all know and love, with equal relish. The job of building it is well on its way. We know better than to assume anything before it happens but all indications at this time are pointing in a very positive direction. Yee Ha!

Thanks to Abhi for the info and to all at SBRS who are making it happen!
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Last edited by dalyduo; 06-22-2006 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Here's the newsletter from Skippy that John referred to and that started this discussion (it's on page 2):

skippy newsletter.pdf

Thanks to LimeRockRacer for sending it in.
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Pat,

Thanks for your lucid update on the thoughtful development of the new car. Everyone is concerned about cost and it's reassuring that concern is recognized and in the foreground of new car design considerations.

Management of perceptions is at least as difficult as controlling actual issues. No doubt in my mind that SBR is the best bargain in racing, but I still worry cost increases will undermine the entire enterprise. Other cost factors we seldom discuss are differerent but uniformly increasing venue costs, including hiring flaggers.

If certain venues are very costly, we may have to forgoe them, though most of us given the choice would pay more for Road America, Watkins Glen, VIR, Road Atlanta, Daytona, Sebring, Laguna Seca and Mt. Tremblant than Grattan, IRP, Las Vegas, and Moroso with Putnam and Barber Parks intermediate in desirability. If doing corner work cut cost by $100 a day, it would be worthwhile, but I bet it'd be nearer $10 a day - and I expect some tracks require their professional workers be used and no argument they do a better job and having drivers flag slows the program. Combining Series is an obvious economy regarding venue fees and staffing, but if cost was lower, more should race and that revenue would support the series and profit.

We started on Crossle Fords - I crashed one big at the Kink at Road America. They were great racers and we all learned a lot more in them than in the RT-2000s. It took Revere and me 4 years with the FFs and Formula Dodges to go flat through the Kink at Road America, and we were better for the learning along the way.

I'm characterologically optimistic - how else could one keep climbing into a race car - and I'm encouraged that everyone's best efforts will produce a new car that will take us back toward the intrinsically better driving characteristics of the pre RT-2000s while controlling costs so more can afford to race and we'll all have more and better competition and fun.
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Not sure if this is a drivers training session or the third prototype in testing... either way it works for me.

Donald I respectfully disagree that there is no policy to deter crashing. Damage assessment goes up, percentage of responsibility is assessed and instuctors review and discuss driver behavior regularly with each other and with the offenders. No one wants to be on the AP list but some people can afford it more than others. Do those who have deep pockets get special treatment? I don't know? From my perspective anyone who crashes a lot and can continue to race has deep pockets so its a self selecting group! I guess you are suggesting a penalty box where your enjoyment of racing is diminished or removed to make you think about your offenses. The only problem with that is that if you can afford frequent crash damage, you can also afford to go somewhere else if they put you in the penalty box. Perhaps that's your point... How about a Scarlet Letter racing suit and helmet that labels you a menace!

Quote:
Originally Posted by macdod
One of the things I would like to add regarding the economics of racing has little to do with the new car per se, but can have a dramatic effect on the cost of racing. The issue is crashes. Racing is a dangerous sport and crashes are inevitable. I've crashed. And everyone of us has been involved or caused a crash at one time or another. Those of us silly enough to race need to budget accordingly. However, I believe that there is far too much tolerance for crashes and for drivers who crash regularly. This is a managable issue that needs to be addressed (beyond the obvious safety issue) to remedy one of the more "costly" oversights of the racing series. Tolerence in the series of the rich and infamous is, to my mind, bad business.

And for the record, if this means that I get moved out of a particular class, are required to take more training/lapping days, or get thrown off the track altogether, so be it. With rare exception, no one at Skip Barber Racing is that malicious to abuse such a policy. But without a policy, there is anarchy.
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Last edited by dalyduo; 06-22-2006 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

John,

Though I may sound like one, I'm certainly no spokesman for the company and only reporting conversations I've had with Abhi and my sense of what is happening there. So everyone should take my ramblings with a grain of salt and most already do.

Having said that... My post may not have done full justice to how much attention is being paid to having the car be affordably crashable. They are keenly aware of the ways crash damage costs limit everyone's enjoyment and threaten the future of the company. They want the new car to be vastly cheaper to repair without making it less safe, fun, up to date or instructive to drive. I'd call it skinning the cat without gutting it. A very tall order that we'd all like to see perfectly executed. If they do pull it off they'll probably experience unprecedented growth again as the whole school and racing experience will qualitatively increase by a quantum leap. Everyone benefits from better cars for less money.
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalyduo
So everyone should take my ramblings with a grain of salt and most already do.
yes - that's salt in the picture - suitable to accompany your CWC (crushing word count) ..........you know I'm kidding DD (and watertown),
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalyduo
No one wants to be on the AP list but some people can afford it more than others. Do those who have deep pockets get special treatment? I don't know? From my perspective anyone who crashes a lot and can continue to race has deep pockets so its a self selecting group!... if you can afford frequent crash damage, you can also afford to go somewhere else if they put you in the penalty box.
You aren't suggesting that crash damage is higher for those with more disposable income, are you?
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Here is a question that should open a can of worms....

WARNING... OLDMAN (AKA CHEAP BASTARD) SHOULD NOT READ THIS... HE'LL FAINT.

Ok, without suggesting that the price of SB racing should rise (I would obviously like to see larger fields), you have to ask what the alternative is. The ones to which most people 'graduate' are Mazda and Grand Am. Those series are 5 to 10 times as expensive as SB. Also, the 'serious' kids pay nearly double for the Nationals.

Racing is surely an expensive hobby... but Skip Barber is a bargain.
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Absolutely not. Only that some use a higher percentage of their disposable income on crash damage than others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJAmok
You aren't suggesting that crash damage is higher for those with more disposable income, are you?
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Even Bob "Cheap Bastard", "Cassandra" Manzella would acknowledge its a great deal... And then he'd probably also add that if its the best deal in town but only 18 people can afford it, it doesn't matter how good a deal it is because the company won't survive. The lower the cost to participate the more people will try it and keep coming back. I would imagine this is vital to a business with as many locations and varied services as SBRS offers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJAmok
Here is a question that should open a can of worms....

WARNING... OLDMAN (AKA CHEAP BASTARD) SHOULD NOT READ THIS... HE'LL FAINT.

Ok, without suggesting that the price of SB racing should rise (I would obviously like to see larger fields), you have to ask what the alternative is. The ones to which most people 'graduate' are Mazda and Grand Am. Those series are 5 to 10 times as expensive as SB. Also, the 'serious' kids pay nearly double for the Nationals.

Racing is surely an expensive hobby... but Skip Barber is a bargain.
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Just a touch more required to get the seasoning just right!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdh
yes - that's salt in the picture - suitable to accompany your CWC (crushing word count) ..........you know I'm kidding DD ,
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Sorry Pat... but I have to throw you under the bus!


In addition to CWC... Pat has added to his repertoire CPC... 'Crushing Post Count'. The theory? Why post once, when you can post three times?!
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Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

It's been pretty crowded under there recently...

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Sorry Pat... but I have to throw you under the bus!


In addition to CWC... Pat has added to his repertoire CPC... 'Crushing Post Count'. The theory? Why post once, when you can post three times?!
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  #23  
Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Now that's real ground clearance but the turning radius sucks and I thought the new cars were black.
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  #24  
Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Many of you guys are too eager to flaunt your wealth. To me framing a car is a major expense. To many at SBRS it's something to brag about. I can always tell the new money from the old money.

OLDMAN
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  #25  
Old 06-22-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Easy ladies...whoah..lets back this up a bit without getting personal here. It must be the moon, the heat or something in the air on this website lately...

At WGI, a few of us were discussing the merits of car changes and costs blah blah blah. We took a look at the various time sheets and one thing was abundantly clear... Over 60% of the drivers in many if not all of the groups were at least Masters, if not grand masters. John's original point was spot on that racing cost, even in SBRS, is causing less participation in general and our population that regularly participates is older now than it was as compared to even a few years ago.

We are not attracting and keeping the younger drivers. If we move to a new series of cars without at least maintaining current cost levels we will see the demise of this series overtime. I for one agree the series probably needs to update equipment and find an economical way to consolidate the cars used between the school and the series to one base model. However, I would love to see us get performance with costs that are lower than they are now.

For those of us that have been around for at least a few years, lets not forget the accounting strategy that was put in place a couple of years ago to keep the base line costs of the races down. Remember when they raised the cost of parts on crash damage as a strategy to keep the base costs of the weekends down? Crash damage bills are hurting the series whether we admit it or not. A lot of the younger and drivers with less resource to fall back on, reel when they get a bill for 3-4 times what it should be in the real world. The inflated costs of these damage bills takes them away from doing more races and ultimately takes them away from the series.

Lastly, I am glad to see they are looking for feedback at RA. The rest of the story about our discussions at WGI revolved around the apparent interest of the instructors to listen to what we were concerned about, but sadly, we were suprised at the lack of interest from upper management to seek our opinions as customers on this and other issues.

At the risk of being banished to the land of the lepers, (perhaps I am already there and dont know it) we were quite surprised at a conversation we had with one management level person, who was noticeably upset with our questions and was basically trying to convince us that we should have blind faith and not question nor input into the process. This was quite surprising to many of us.

The conversation went on with others that we wished upper level mgt. would spend more face time with customers finding out what is on their minds. There are a good batch of regulars, many on this web-site, that spend a great deal of time and money participating and honestly just want to make this series more successful than it already has been. I think that bringing the cars to RA and hopefully to some of the other dates, is a good start. Feedback and hearing the concerns of the customer can only make the series more successful.
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  #26  
Old 06-23-2006
AlDelattre AlDelattre is offline
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Just getting back to the car itself - and trying to be brief -

The cost and "basic elements" of any car, as described above, are CRITICAL to the overall experience - SBRS fills a niche between karts and more expensive stuff, with an extra value point of the instructors and support model....have to keep that in place.

Personally, I'd be fine with Formula Dodges - IF the cockpit was bigger!

"Total Cost to Driver" is definitely a metric that needs to be optimized, especially to grow out the portfolio of driver demographics that we want, and SBRS needs..but that is more than just purchase price of the car and crash damage..

On the car itself, with respect to the post about Abhi, SBRS really needs to focus as much, if not more, on the "back shop" (eg factory, spares, operations) since that drives more of the cost long term than the acquisition of the cars....(has anyone toured Lakeville?)

Last, on the car, I encourage SBRS to take the long view - eg a carbon tub might be more pricey up front, but have you seen all the written-off tube chassis sitting in Lakeville, or added up the cost to repair/test broken chassis? I"m fine either way, as long as it works, its "cost effective" and drives as described by others...

Think Total Cost of Ownership...acquisition cost, service/operation cost, loss rate, etc. One chassis part (carbon tub) that is almost unbreakable vs dozens and dozens of parts that break, have to be stocked, etc....

A lot of my clients are airframe companies, and this is what we help them with. It's still a religious argument, but comparing a Premier I (all composite bizjet; 6000 total parts) with a BeechJet (old metal airplane, 25,000 parts). Acquisiton costs are more for P1, but over 5-10 years, total cost is WAY lower. Plus, you can repair a carbon plane after all but a real augering; bent metal = huge cost

just some thoughts

To pull something like this off, SBRS would need to be able to arrange the financiing (pay now, save later) - that is probably an area where they are hurting and might result in a cheaper-now but more-expensive-later situation.
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  #27  
Old 06-23-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

WoW, can I even say anything that has not already been set in stone in the mind of the giver of the oppinion? Probably not, but that is why this site is just oh so exciting! A few hundred people who (assuming of course) are just like me, always want to be first, and if they can help it, right at the same time.
I've taken some time to sit back and "spectate" on the posts of this and many different threads to see that most oppinions can be somewhat connected to ones finnancial status (congrats to those who are more fortunate at this point in time than myself ) I will reserve my right to reiderate, and produce callus' on my fingertips, just to repeat what everyone has already said, just in my own words. hehe
Fom this end of the finnancial/un-aged food chain though,something does come to mind;
Quote:
I fear an increase in the cost due to a sexy, high tech car would just compound this problem. It's not an easy decision for them. On the one hand they want to attract young drivers like Marco Andretti (you may have heard of him) so they have bragging rights for marketing. But in reality, it's the old farts like us that keep coming back each year that really fill the grid.
I must attribute the
Quote:
old farts
to most of my humbling as I first started, as well, quite enjoyable were the fri. night west coast dinners. As for myself I am currently attempting to get sponsors to help curb the cost for the rest of the National series. Would it be easier to sell a sexier car to obtain sponsorship? Probably. Would a more "high tech" car raise the current price of the series? I'll go with yes, for $100 Bob. But if in cahoots (slang I know) this sexy, high tech racing machine ment more marketable drivers, or even, dare I say the series in whole it would keep younger, eager drivers like myself very active with S.B.
To end the misery of anyone who spent the time to read my ramblings on, a personal note; I remember when I was turned on to racing, and going fast in general, and (at the time) looking at what then was just about eye level at the picture inside the skippy building at Laguna Seca of the old Barber Dodge Pro Series, and thinking that I may one day get a taste of what it would be like to be a professional race car driver (or @least something of the sort) and I have never forgotten about that. So yes, this does seem to be a make, or brake deal for skippy, lets just hope it is done right. Over and out, Mr.Quik (a.k.a. Mr.4-off, wait, I dont think it counts 'cuz none of his tires are actually touching the ground at this point )
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  #28  
Old 06-23-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Having watched this post with interest, I would like to add my 2 cents, even though the Series has long since passed me by. Which is ironic, because you would think I would be a perfect candidate.

When I ran the series in 1977, I had two choices - run in the Series, or run in the SCCA. In those days you needed about $10,000 for a regional effort, a good car was about 1/2 of that. You could run the entire East Series (only one at that time) for less than $5000. And in 1977 (oops - corrected date) there was NO crash damage, and I might be suffering from Alzhmeir's, but it seemed like less crashes...

So the main selling point of the Series was you could race a National Formula Ford without the hassle of owning a car. At some point the cost of Series gets so high that people start saying, "Gee, the hassle of owning my own car is not too bad", hence the number of drivers who race SCCA Spec Racers, rented from SCCA CSRs.

Right now one FV Team, Stuwart Performance (http://fvrentals.com/) is renting Formula Vees for about $1000 - $1300 per race. (They recently lost some customers to Spec Miata, another class drawing drivers away from SBRS, so they might do some deals.)

At the current cost of the Series, they will not make a dent in the SCCA ranks, Endurance Karting is so cheap so very little potential there, so right now the only market I see is the Car Clubs. Porsche, BMW, Ferrari drivers etc who are looking to do more than tear up their cars.

So rather than focusing on the car, I would look at the business model. I figure the Eastern series should be around $15,000 complete. That might mean street radials, no wings, less hospitality etc., Keep the new cars for the National Series (which should be priced around $50,000 as an alternative to Formula BMW). Comparing the cost to Pro Mazda or another pro series is the wrong market.

Now I have no idea if this business model would fit with the current administration, or if it is practical in this day of employee health insurance and 401K plans and astronomical track rent.

It just seems that the driver count at weekends is going down and I am not sure a new car is the sole answer.

Chris Zarzycki

Last edited by ORBlues; 06-24-2006 at 01:17 AM.
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  #29  
Old 06-23-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Wow Chris, great photo and observations. Hope you'll come on back and race with us too.

John
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  #30  
Old 06-24-2006
jdc916 jdc916 is offline
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

The new cars ( carbon fiber tubs ) appear to be heading the way of the old pro series and look what happened to it !

I for one would be back if the costs would come back down. In fact I think a lot of us from back in the 90's would be back if the costs came down.

A race weekend now is $2500, to me thats about $ 800 too much. While renting a Spec Miata is about 1450, it's no where near as much fun as the old FD's where. And I had a lot of fun in the FD.

SBRS used to be and may still very well be the best bang for the buck, I've been away so long I'm not sure.

But bring down the costs and I'm sure the series fields, including the Eastern, Western, Mid Western and Southern will all grow.

Just my 2 cents.
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  #31  
Old 06-24-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

There's clear consensus on lower cost being better to achieve many goals for the series, but no certain single method for achieving them. Solutions suggested include cheaper venues, driver flagging and lower cost cars, with the largest and most controllable potential savings from the new cars which have been the focus of everyone's attention.

Are there other factors that could be manipulated - other than another "bank job" that one former runner tried and is probably still serving sentence on?
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  #32  
Old 06-24-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Not sure what else would save dollars... As for things we wouldn't want to give up...
Could not give up instructor feedback as it is a unique and vital part of the process. Big add on the comaraderie and quality of race weekend life.

Wouldn't give up the hospitality area because it's a useful gathering spot with amost no budget.

Requiring flagging by drivers again would be a usefull throwback but wouldn't lower the cost of a race weekend.

No one wants less seat time...

Seems many corners have already been cut. Making that new car cheap to build and even cheaper to repair will be a big one.
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  #33  
Old 06-24-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

LIke the airlines, SBRS has a large fixed set of expenses for each race weekend it runs (track rental, instructor and mechanic salaries, equippment transportation costs), and relatively small incremental expenses for each driver that actually races (tire wear and engine wear, fuel expenses). As such, the race weekend "load factor" must make a huge difference in SBRS's bottom line performance.

You can see by the number of "combined" events over the last couple of years that SBRS is seeking to minimize the number of race weekends (while still having a set of coherent regional series), and maximize the number of drivers at these events. Don't know if this is this is a thought process that can be extended further. I also don't know if last minute discounts for undersubscribed race weekends would be a good business decision (the down side of this is that it might encourage some drivers to delay signing up for a weekend in hopes of getting a last minute price break).

One thing I hope the school does NOT do is bring back overrev charges. Up until the mid-90s, they would check your tach after each session, and charge you $10 per each 100 RPM over 6000, with a substaintial extra charge if you exceeded 7000 RPM. With the old 4-speed box, it wasn't hard to miss one shift per each 1/2 hour session, and end up owing an extra $300 at the end of each weekend. It was incredibly annoying if you were on a budget, and trying to avoid extraneous charges. In some sense, the decision a few years back to raise the price of parts to keep the base price of a race weekend down has the same effect on budget minded drivers -- you budget for the series, and then live in constant fear that a "big one" (or several smaller hits) will knock you out of the championship early. . . . which definitely takes some of the fun out of it. While its true that I don't want to be subsidizing the AP drivers with my entry fees, at the same time, I want my spending on racing to be as predictable as possible given the inherently unpredictable nature of the sport. As such, I'd like to see crash damage charges reflect actual cost, not some inflated number that makes up for cut rate pricing in other parts of the program.
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  #34  
Old 06-24-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Financial rev limiters! Who knew? I'm guessing it predated the current electronic rev limiters that make those $100 fines irrelevant.

In fact (according to Bruce M.) the current policy is that you win a thousand dollars if you can grenade a motor. Haven't seen anyone collect in the past three years. Guess those limiters are pretty good.
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  #35  
Old 06-24-2006
jdc916 jdc916 is offline
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

The over rev fees served a purpose. It was to make you a better driver... just like everything else in the series. If you can take care of the equipment you can drive the car fast. Anyone can hold their foot to the floor and wait for the electronics to help them out.
Besides it made you more aware of what was going on with the car. If you were smooth with your foot work and shifted when you were supposed to, you wouldnt have an over rev.

Want help knowing when to shift ? Put in a cheap light.

But over rev fees are not something to bring back to help cut costs.
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  #36  
Old 06-25-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalyduo
... win a thousand dollars if you can grenade a motor. Haven't seen anyone collect in the past three years.
During my 3-Day last July, I was coming out of Turn 4 at LRP and heading down No-Name. Those blasted H-pattern shifters kept moving from side-to-side, and I could never get the hang of what was where. Anyhow, I go to shift into 4th gear and make a nice smooth shift into 2nd. Can you spell instant high revs?
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  #37  
Old 06-25-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Did you break the motor?
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  #38  
Old 06-25-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

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Originally Posted by dalyduo
Did you break the motor?
Not that I know of. As soon as I heard the high-pitched whine, I knew what I'd done, and I got off the throttle and shifted (either into 4th or perhaps 3rd by that point -- I don't recall). It sure did get my attention!
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  #39  
Old 06-25-2006
jdc916 jdc916 is offline
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

The trick to the old H pattern was keeping enough pressure on the gate. Yea some of those 4 banger boxes are and were a mess but a quick orientation of the box and it's individuality before you even started the engine was usually enough to give you a feel of what you had.
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  #40  
Old 06-25-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Don't know if I'm commiting heresy or not, but why must a new car be designed and built by SB?
SCCA has already completed the job with their FSCCA car that competed in the Formula Atlantic class until enough were bought to form their own racing group. The car is sold in the mid $30K and can also be configured with an interchangeable body as a CSR, which may be appealing to new drivers who are put off racing open wheels.
The option of running a closed wheel group may also reduce some of the crash damage by reducing wheel to wheel contact.
And speaking of wheel to wheel contact and subsequent crash damage, while we all fancy ourselves as "race drivers", most of us are AMATEUR RACE DRIVERS and just looking for some FUN out of life! Give up the corner if you need to and get 'em the next time around. We don't get paid to win; we "pay" ourselves to finish cleanly. The professional wanna be drivers also need to control their aggression; you don't make points crashing out.
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  #41  
Old 06-25-2006
jdc916 jdc916 is offline
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Two good points Andrew !
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  #42  
Old 06-25-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

here is a link - is this the chassis you were referring to? Would need less engine, that would mean less $$ also, but even this setup would need lots of mods to make it durable enough for SB racing.

I love the idea of closed wheel bodies styled after some GTP / Can Am type cars, how cool would that be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
Don't know if I'm commiting heresy or not, but why must a new car be designed and built by SB?
SCCA has already completed the job with their FSCCA car that competed in the Formula Atlantic class until enough were bought to form their own racing group. The car is sold in the mid $30K and can also be configured with an interchangeable body as a CSR, which may be appealing to new drivers who are put off racing open wheels.
The option of running a closed wheel group may also reduce some of the crash damage by reducing wheel to wheel contact.
And speaking of wheel to wheel contact and subsequent crash damage, while we all fancy ourselves as "race drivers", most of us are AMATEUR RACE DRIVERS and just looking for some FUN out of life! Give up the corner if you need to and get 'em the next time around. We don't get paid to win; we "pay" ourselves to finish cleanly. The professional wanna be drivers also need to control their aggression; you don't make points crashing out.
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Last edited by cdh; 06-25-2006 at 02:47 PM.
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  #43  
Old 06-25-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdh
here is a link - is this the chassis you were referring to? Would need less engine, that would mean less $$ also, but even this setup would need lots of mods to make it durable enough for SB racing.
Wow! Great looking car, need to slow it down a bit but that's easily done. With SBR toughening and equalizing, a version of this car could be the ticket to the lower costs everyone wants.

Last edited by sydude; 08-20-2006 at 12:17 PM. Reason: fixed quoting
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  #44  
Old 06-25-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdc916
The trick to the old H pattern was keeping enough pressure on the gate. Yea some of those 4 banger boxes are and were a mess but a quick orientation of the box and it's individuality before you even started the engine was usually enough to give you a feel of what you had.
And what a lovely part of race craft an H pattern is - or an H+ for 5 speeds. They cost less that sequentials and are at least a rugged. Another way to lower cost in a new car.
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  #45  
Old 06-25-2006
AlDelattre AlDelattre is offline
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

The FSCCA car is actually a "one-make" attempt, and the car is marketed in the US by the SCCA (SCCA Enterprises, actually).

Have never actually seen one, but here is the site link http://www.scca-enterprises.com/fscca_srscca.html they have a weak "build your own" configurator.

Interestingly, SCCA just announced they have put this division on the block for sale.....hmmmm...with stipulations about support for like 10 years.

Could see subbing a Dodge engine for the Mazda - SPEAKING of which, I had heard that the Dodge deal expired this year.....and Daimler isn't exactly doing well right now...any rumors on that front?
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  #46  
Old 06-25-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalyduo
Not sure what else would save dollars... As for things we wouldn't want to give up...
Could not give up instructor feedback as it is a unique and vital part of the process. Big add on the comaraderie and quality of race weekend life.
Glad you emphasized this again Pat. The feedback is priceless - and often quotable (I miss your Ziegler quote).

One money maker for SBR that's well worth the price is lead-follow. We spend seasons on our own getting better gradually and often being confused and discouraged. A session of lead-follow brings us up our optimal learning curve. Even without radios lead-follow is worthwhile; with radios, it's a real-time religious experience.

Last edited by sydude; 08-20-2006 at 12:16 PM. Reason: fixed quoting
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  #47  
Old 06-25-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlDelattre
The FSCCA car is actually a "one-make" attempt, and the car is marketed in the US by the SCCA (SCCA Enterprises, actually).

Have never actually seen one, but here is the site link http://www.scca-enterprises.com/fscca_srscca.html they have a weak "build your own" configurator.

Interestingly, SCCA just announced they have put this division on the block for sale.....hmmmm...with stipulations about support for like 10 years.

Could see subbing a Dodge engine for the Mazda - SPEAKING of which, I had heard that the Dodge deal expired this year.....and Daimler isn't exactly doing well right now...any rumors on that front?
Very interesting. I expect this has been vetted by SBR and found wanting. Probably another of the many things that seem too good to be true, but would be good to have SBR perspective.
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  #48  
Old 06-26-2006
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Greist
Glad you emphasized this again Pat. The feedback is priceless - and often quotable (I miss your Ziegler quote).
You can hear Bob's inimitable words anytime.....

Cleveland - 14 sec.

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Last edited by cdh; 06-26-2006 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 06-26-2006
Andrew Andrew is offline
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Sorry to disappear from the FSCCA discussion, but had to go.
Yes, the links provided describe the car. I was a little optimistic on the pricing; it's actually $39900. open wheel configuration and a little north of $42K as a closed wheel.
SCCA is considering putting SCCA Enterprises on the block if the right buyer comes along.
I don't know SBRS business philosophy but I sense an opportunity to not only buy into a developed car suitable for SB with some downward tweaking, but to also have a market (SCCA drivers) to sell new and USED cars allowing SB to keep upgrading the fleet. SB would also have complete control over production and QA/QC.
Just a thought.
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Old 06-26-2006
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dalyduo dalyduo is offline
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Re: John Greist on the New Skippy Car

Certainly not heresy to suggest an already existing design Andrew ( btw thanks for your first post...) and perhaps the advantage of designing your own car is having features like data acquisition and designed in quick low cost crash damage repairs that will serve everyone in a school and series situation. One thing I forgot to mention when speaking to Abhi was his mention of an interchangable sports racer body for the new car. I didn't ask him if they'd looked at existing designs but hard to imagine they haven't. Part of the prototype process is evaluating how creative in design and responsive to deadlines the vendors are with SBRS needs. The other part of cost reduction is ultimately owning the car. That could be problematic with an already existing design. All good things to bring up and discuss. Love the way this thread is progressing.

Opps, just saw your last post and that adresses some of the ownership questions. Still good stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
Don't know if I'm commiting heresy or not, but why must a new car be designed and built by SB?
SCCA has already completed the job with their FSCCA car that competed in the Formula Atlantic class until enough were bought to form their own racing group. The car is sold in the mid $30K and can also be configured with an interchangeable body as a CSR, which may be appealing to new drivers who are put off racing open wheels.
The option of running a closed wheel group may also reduce some of the crash damage by reducing wheel to wheel contact.
And speaking of wheel to wheel contact and subsequent crash damage, while we all fancy ourselves as "race drivers", most of us are AMATEUR RACE DRIVERS and just looking for some FUN out of life! Give up the corner if you need to and get 'em the next time around. We don't get paid to win; we "pay" ourselves to finish cleanly. The professional wanna be drivers also need to control their aggression; you don't make points crashing out.
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