F2000Series.com and F1600Series.com sit down for an unedited game of 21 questions with Series Managing Director Michael Rand.
Q: You haven’t put on a race since before Labor Day, but the off-season has been filled with positive news and press. What’s been the highlight so far?
Every season, and every off-season, has its ups and downs, first the relief, and let down, of the end of the season, then wishing there was another race to go to. I kind of expand the race season with my own racing which typically ends early October. But the planning never starts or stops, it is a continuous process.
This time around there was some intense politicking and planning as we were very close to announcing the creation of a companion series for F1600 Formula F cars to run alongside some F2000 events.
Not exactly a moments work with many details in need of investigation, scheduling issues, what-ifs and how-abouts to work through.
In the end we announced the F1600 Formula F Championship Series, for what has been called Formula Ford for over 40 years but now referred to as Formula F due to the inclusion of Honda’s modern 1,500cc Fit motor to run alongside the traditional 1,600cc Ford Kent [or Cortina] engines.
Without a doubt that announcement would qualify as the highlight of our little world since Mid Ohio F2000 finale over Labor Day weekend.
The response from the existing entrant base has been gratifying, to say the least, as well as numerous drivers who will be new to F1600 Formula F.
Q: Why start a second series? Isn’t one enough?
We, the ownership partners of the F2000 series, known internally as GRW Racing Enterprises LLC [GRW stands for Al Guibord Jr, Mike Rand and Robert Wright] realized we have created certain resources and relationships that could lead to an expansion of our activities. So, in the desire to capitalize on our resources, a second series made sense. At least as much as any of this makes sense !
Q: It seems like there are some major players behind the F1600 deal – Honda, Hoosier, Mid-Ohio… why are they throwing support behind a new open-wheel series?
Obviously each has their own goals but one constant is the desire to offer an entry level open wheel series that will assist each in those goals. Honda/HPD want to expand their presence in grassroots motorsports, The Mid Ohio School sees this as a natural fit for future driver training for graduates of their programs, Hoosier of course is in the business of building and selling racing tires, and GRW is run by racers for racers, so everyone has a platform for their end goal.
Q: How long had F1600 “been in the works” prior to the October announcement?
I guess we, the partners, have been talking about doing this almost from the start of F2000, that was in 2006. As a current F1600 Formula F club racer I certainly had the opportunity to keep my finger on the pulse of the entrant base at the amateur level.
And as one of the two co-promoters of the 40th Anniversary of FF at Road America in July of 2009, along with longtime FF competitor Steve Beeler, we realized there is a huge number of dedicated racers at every level still competing. Whether SCCA Nationals/Regionals or Vintage/Historic FF, there are literally hundreds of cars and drivers with the desire to race competitively and safely in single class races.
Q: You went through the process of getting F2000 off the ground, does that experience help with bringing F1600 on-line?
Without any doubt it helped immensely. The relationships we have established with tracks, clubs and sanctioning bodies over the past 5 seasons are central to our ability to put together the schedule. Also, the good will we have developed in the F2000 competitor base has helped. The open wheel road racing world is pretty small when you think about it, and the F1600 people all know and talk to the F2000 folks.
Q: Are there any things you will do differently this time around – or won’t do?
Sure, but I am unlikely to be spilling any secrets to the likes of you. Or anyone else for that matter. Let them figure it out for themselves. Seriously though, since I started in single seaters in 1968 the ensuing 40 plus years had better had taught me something.
Spending 35 years in the business in one capacity or another has certainly helped between the people one meets and the mistakes one sees others make, as well as makes oneself. Like any business, it is always a learning process.
Q: Will you be buying any new equipment, infrastructure or be bringing in additional staff for F1600?
Well, in all honesty, no new equipment should be required, but certainly we will need to staff up with the doubling of cars, drivers and teams. We see the distinct possibility of some of the double-double weekends [those with both series each having 2 races] hosting 60-70, or more, cars !
Q: Let’s talk about F2000: What’s new and exciting? It seems there is more buzz around that Series this winter than in past years?
Really neat stuff going on within the F2000 community currently. New cars, new teams, new drivers, it is going to be a banner season.
Q: Fallen off any roofs recently?
If you mean since the millennium, then maybe.
Q: What’s up with F2000 – there are new cars, a new tire, new teams…?
Are you listening to me ? I just said there are new cars and teams and drivers, what’s the matter with you ?
We know of at least 3 new chassis expecting to be debuted in 2011, several new to F2000 multi-car teams, fresh talent behind the wheel, the season is wide open with many of our standouts from 2010 and before returning, it is going to be more than interesting.
Q: Word Association: I say RADON… you say…..?
Really ? We need to discuss this ? OK.
You say Radon, I say indigestion. Headaches. Controversy. The jury is out what form the car will be approved in or if it even works, stand by.
Q: Do you think any of the F2000 teams will take advantage of economies of scale and run F1600 programs?
It would make sense, just as it makes sense for the series administers and staff, but can create its own problems. Team staffing and transportation need to be looked at very carefully maintain appropriate levels of preparation and avoiding burn-out.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge heading into 2011 for both F2000 and F1600? Anything keeping you awake at night?
Other than inane questions from alleged media hacks, not really. Just trying to get lots of rest before the season opens up at VIR in April, because there won’t be much from then through October.
Q: What is your favorite color? Is it true purple is the new green?
Someone has been watching Monty Python again……
Purple equals green ? Maybe in the amphibian world. Ask Eakin.
Q: It seems as though F2000/F1600 are solidly positioned while not being aligned with a ladder system. What do you say to the critics?
Critics ? Really, we have critics ? I was unaware.
OK, so there are a few, no surprise, no one series can be all things to all people. But we try to walk a tight rope between what works for the series financially and what works for drivers and teams. Certainly our goal is to offer every competitor a large field of competitive cars at great race tracks with excellent track time and times as well as a friendly paddock and helpful staff. Remember, I did say we are walking a tight rope, but it seems we succeed more than fail.
Q: …or are you creating your own ladder system?
The ladder system is a myth, talent will be recognized and advance as long as money is available to fund the progress.
Q: You’ve been to all the F2000 races over five seasons – does one stand out? What has been your favorite or most noteworthy race weekend so far? Any you want to forget?
Yes. And yes.
Most memorable, the inaugural weekend of 2006, our first event, then I think Road America in 2008 with a 41 car field, incredible, and Mosport in 2009, two green flag to flag races at one of North Americas fiercest race tracks, the gang made us proud.
Forget ? Well, one Mid Ohio race where EVERYONE was mad at everyone else after the second race, even the winner.
Q: Are you worried with the addition of a second series, you will tormented even more via practical jokes in the paddock and wherever your hotel room may be?
Of course, as long as the likes of Mark Defer and any Guibord are there as ring leaders I can never feel safe. I figure I’ll look like a grade school janitor with a ring of about 50 keys hanging off my belt keeping anything and everything locked up tight.
Q: You manage the operations for both Series, and are a partner, but there are two other owners as well. How does that dynamic work? Can a race series be run by a vote?
Wait, did you hear the three of us at our traditional post season dinner meeting this year ?
For the first time since we created this entity the 2 over-rules 1 vote was rescinded by a recount of the popular vote. For the first time, but it happened. And we are still partners and friends. Usually…….
Q: Any plans for an IPO? What investment bank would you…
Q: Are you planning to enjoy the comforts of commercial air travel to any races in 2011? Can you recommend any frequent flyer programs?
If and when Alleghany starts flying again, otherwise, no.
Thank you for your time, Mr. Rand.
Mr. Rand ? Really ? If the teenage drivers in the paddock call me Mike, at least to my face, can’t you ?
I have always thought one of the wonderful things about motor sport is the absolutely equal footing every participant starts on. Then performance on, and sometimes off, the track make the only significant difference.
We don’t stand on formality or ceremony, we just race.