Things are starting to get Silly

Posted by Dale Nixon | 8/04/2009 | , , , , | 12 comments »
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It's that most magical time of the year.

No, not Christmas.

August officially marks the start of the silly season, that time of year when racing seats can be had for a much smaller bag of sponsorship dollars, and drivers that were seemingly happy with their teams a week ago no longer have cars to drive.

Robert Doornbos, aka Bobby D, has seemingly run out of money and thus his prized seat at Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing. Doornbos leads Rafa Matos in the Rookie of the Year standings, inexplicably qualifying for "rookie" status despite years in Formula 1, A1GP and CCWS, despite his best finish being ninth place (I'm not going to go off on that tangent again, although I am also on the record as stating that RHR should not have been RoY even if the alternative was giving it to Milka).

"We had the option to leave the team after 12 races which I made use of. I want to stay in IndyCar Series and I will announce my future plans very soon. I like to thank the team and especially Mike Lanigan and Carl Haas. I wish them a bright future."

Notice how he didn't mention teammate Graham Rahal, who apparently didn't share many McDonald's apple pies nor setup notes with the Flying Dutchman.

Doornbos is tipped by Robin Miller to join EJ Viso at HVM; although I'm not sure how possible that is if the Bobster is indeed out of euros. The fate of the N/H/L seat is also unclear, with former shoe Sebastian Bourdais hitting the open market after his release from Scuderia Toro Rosso; although the return of the SeaBass would not be a cheap fix for the gang; he'd demand to be paid. Like say, Mike Conway.

LATE EDIT: The word on the street as of Monday evening is that Oriol Servia will be in the other N/H/L car at Mid-Ohio, proving once again that the CCWS was the ultimate recycling program.

Also in the full-blown silly mode are Conquest Racing, who split from Alex Tagliani in favor of Nelson Phillipe and old friend Kosuke Matsuura for Motegi.

Finally, Gary Watkins at Autoweek lifts the lid on the silliest thing of all - three new Acura teams in the IRL next year. The much rumored deFerran Motorsports switch appears on, and Gil will apparently be joined by Connecticut-based Highcroft Patron Racing and Scott Sharp (who could end up with a native Connecticut teammate in free agent Jeff Simmons), as well as Adrian Fernandez's squad I've been told by a reliable source that contrary to many reports, F1 refugee Takuma Sato will not be in the IRL unless as a last resort; Sato's people apparently are looking for a placement in one of the new F1 teams.

The defection of Acura does not bode well for the ALMS, which has been teetering with low car counts as it stands now, and increasingly vocal criticism from team owners about the payouts.

Stay tuned for more silliness, after all it's only August 4.


  1. Andy // August 04, 2009 11:47 AM  

    I'm finding it puzzling why everyone's assuming Doornbos was kicked out after running out of money - the team explicitly says it wanted to re-hire him once his initial dozen races ended, and he says he chose to leave. Sounds to me like he still has money, and thinks he can get better value for it from the team that is, more or less, the one he won with in Champ Car.

    And if he's taking money with him there'll be no replacement at N/H/L unless it's someone with a chequebook. Doorknobs' old team-mate Dan Clarke, who was thought to have bought his way into A1 Team GBR, is Tweeting that he's on his way to Ohio and hopeful of a drive...

  2. Migue // August 04, 2009 12:09 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  3. Migue // August 04, 2009 12:10 PM  

    Don't expect Bourdais back in the USA any time soon. He made it in very harsh words clear in a Dutch F1 magazine that AOWR is a closed book for him, telling lies like that IndyCars drive on NASCAR tracks and such bullshit.
    Stupid Frenchman.

  4. RatPunk // August 04, 2009 12:54 PM  

    I agree with Andy. I don't know where all this "Doornbos is out of money" stuff is coming from. Everything I'm reading elsewhere says it was his decision not to stay at NHL. I haven't read anything about money being a factor.

  5. Dale Nixon // August 04, 2009 12:57 PM  

    True, from what I was told that Doornbos' deal was the 12 races @ a specific amount of money. It seems like the devil is in the details of whether Bobby got equal equipment and/or engineering to Graham, or if that even was a obligation. He obviously feels that it wasn't the case, and I would guess he wouldn't be silly enough to orchestrate his own exit without another ride in waiting. Then again...we all believed Alex Lloyd when he said he'd be in a car...

  6. Anonymous // August 04, 2009 3:24 PM  

    Bourdais did a lot of whining after Junky got hurt at Indy a few years ago. Unsafe cars, unsafe tracks, etc. If he never sets foot within a hundred miles of an Indy car race for the rest of his life that would be OK with me. Typical french douchebag.

  7. Sean // August 04, 2009 4:57 PM  

    I wouldn't expect Bourdais to be in IndyCar based on what he said. He's going to the European Le Mans Series.

    I DO expect N/H/L to continue to run the second car, because they have a history of running unsponsored second cars and because according to 16th and Georgetown, they won't get any TEAM money for that car until they reach 14 starts (they're at 12), and they'll only get half the TEAM money for that car if they don't run the full schedule. For that reason, I think they will. I would think Servia, Tracy, and Junqueira would be the favorites (unless they settle for a ride buyer, easily possible). Servia probably won't do it because he's probably holding out for an AGR ride now that he's their driver coach. Bruno deserves it, but I think he's been forgotten, and he may now be seen as not being a team player after trashing Coyne last year in Texas. I think they're going to go for PT.

  8. AZZO45 // August 04, 2009 7:22 PM  

    Andy: Why so puzzled brother? Doornbos' sponsor is not GoDaddy... its THANKS Daddy!!! :) :) :)

    His Dad is flipping the bill & there is no corporate logos to be found on his red #06... please excuse the people jumping on the "No $$$" theory.

    "...Typical french douchebag." - Mr Anonymous

    Wow... nothing like calling a man a DB while hiding behind the ANONYMOUS tag. The measure of CLASS eh? Yeah right...Geez!!!

  9. Ryan // August 05, 2009 6:33 AM  

    Also in the full-blown silly mode are Conquest Racing, who split from Alex Tagliani in favor of Nelson Phillipe and old friend Kosuke Matsuura for Motegi.

    So I take it that since the possible Canadian sponsorship tied to Tagliani didn't pan out, he was dropped once Toronto and Edmonton came and the whole "Junqueira dropped at Indy in favor of Tagliani for sponsorship reasons" came to nothing.

    Wow... nothing like calling a man a DB while hiding behind the ANONYMOUS tag.

    Is "Anonymous" any more anonymous than "AZZO45"? It's not like AZZO45 was the name your mother gave you.

  10. Ryan // August 05, 2009 6:35 AM  

    I think [Newman-Haas] are going to go for PT.

    He's expensive.

  11. AZZO45 // August 05, 2009 1:54 PM  

    Hey Ryan: I post under AZZO45 at many of the racing blogs (idea) so AZZO45 can be recognized as a guy with interesting thoughts or as a total JERK!!!

    "Anonymous" is just a gutless turd on the internet stopping by to verbally defecate my man!!!

  12. AZZO45 // August 05, 2009 2:56 PM  

    Ryan: Add regular, non racing blogs too... Check out the Auto mailbag for my comments on the new ALMS Corvette GT2 debut