Massa

Strange F1 Rumors Of The Past

18 posts in this topic

I've always been fascinated by rumors/speculation that were popular for a time in the past and never came to fruition. I'd love to know some of the ones from days gone by.

I was reminded of this topic (I'd explored it before in American racing for a blog entry on another site years ago) after reading about a Jochen Rindt rumor on another forum today (I don't want to link to the other forum because I got in trouble for that once years ago, but I do want to give credit to the poster, "Big G 94" for sharing this information).

What I didn't know: when Jim Clark raced in the NASCAR event at Rockingham (North Carolina, not Corby, England) in 1967, he was actually going to hand the car over at some point to Jochen Rindt. Clark raced his way from twenty-fourth to twelfth before a mechanical failure sidelined him, and thus Rindt never drove.

Anyway, it is being alleged, I think in a book about Rindt, that he had bet with Bill France, Jr., then the guy in charge of NASCAR, and was going to switch to NASCAR in 1971 had he lived. Apparently, he felt the pay for the amount of risk involved in NASCAR was much fairer than in F1 at the time, and there was seemingly a Ford connection (Holman-Moody was the team Clark drove for...big Ford team at the time), so he agreed to France's offer. To this day, NASCAR still solicits drivers/riders in other disciplines that they find marketable in hopes of enticing them to join, so it's not a surprise.

I found that really interesting, maybe someone knows something about that, or any other really interesting rumors from any era of F1 (though telling us rumors from 2011 like Petrov to Marussia is probably not what I'm really looking for :P). I'd love to hear some, since most of mine are U.S.-centric (either F1 drivers coming here to race, or drivers racing here going over there) and I'm sure there were some really interesting ones.

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Some ones that are less interesting than Rindt:

Bryan Herta, who tested with Minardi in 2002, was rumored to replace Alex Yoong starting with that year's Hungarian Grand Prix. Herta was 32 and racing in ALMS at the time; though he had won two races at Laguna Seca, he had done little of consequence in CART, and didn't exactly have these massive backers to help out. It would have been the strangest thing had he raced. Minardi also looked at fellow American Townsend Bell, which makes me wonder if some sort of American partner was in talks with them. Herta and Bell would later find Honda in their lives. Herta drove for Andretti Green, the big Honda team, in IndyCar and then again for the Acura program in ALMS. He now owns an IndyCar team of his own, which has a Honda engine, and did all the initial testing for the new IndyCar with Honda. Bell would become a test driver for BAR-Honda in 2004 after finishing ninth in F3000; his teammate, Bjorn Wirdheim, won the title.

Greg Moore was well-liked by Mercedes. He drove them in CART, after all, and was an incredible young talent. Moore was offered David Coulthard's seat at McLaren by Norbert Haug for 2000. Though Moore passed on October 31, 1999, he had already made his decision: he would stay in CART, driving the Reynard/Honda for Roger Penske. He also indicated he was more inclined to go to NASCAR than F1, which is too bad, because he had so much raw talent and car control (he actually used ice racing in the winter to learn how to control a frisky racecar, particularly for the 900 horsepower monsters they were running on speedways at the time. He was a great oval racer, and many, like Tomas Scheckter, who have driven both F1 cars and Indy-style cars, say the oval racing in Indy is much more similar to F1 than the road/street circuits are, because of how the cars handle in the corners and how you drive them). Moore's passing led to his manager, Alan Miller, getting Hélio Castroneves in the Penske seat; Miller was later involved in Castroneves' tax evasion issues in 2009.

When the USGP location was being decided upon for its 2000 return, Indianapolis was not the only candidate. Here's one in Las Vegas:

lasvegas.jpg

Also considered was Road Atlanta (needed major safety improvements). Brandy Station, Virginia; Dallas, Texas; San Francisco, California; and Los Angeles, California had bids, too, for undetermined tracks. Disney also considered expanding their Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, then an oval track, to include F1, but decided against it (not sure how far their bid went; Disney owns ABC and ESPN, which televised F1 in the U.S. for a while. At that time, I think races were on Speedvision and FSN, though ABC did air races again in 2002-ish).

There you go. Now give me some to read.

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This topic deserved more but I guess if everyone's memory is as bad as mine that would explain the lack of replies.

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I've always been fascinated by rumors/speculation that were popular for a time in the past and never came to fruition. I'd love to know some of the ones from days gone by.

Oh yes, like the one that Max Mosley's heart was not really made of stone :)

Seriously...

What about Rossi getting a seat in F1?

Or girly drivers that were alleged to be coming in and never quite made it e.g. Sarah Kavanagh

Or F1 tyres to be filled with custard....

:D

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I know the one about Greg Moore going to McLaren in 2000 is not true, before his death he has signed to go to Penske in the IRL, the drive that was taken by Helio Castroneves. Moores name was crossed out on the contact and replaced in ink with Castroneves, as that was the cause of the legal problems he had a couple of years ago

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Struggling to think of any at the moment. The Mika Hakkinen comeback (to the BAR team) floated around for a while around 2004.

Valentino Rossi was indeed a stupid idea and I'm glad it never gained much strength!

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Eric, you have an amazing capacity for information...unfortunately it just tires me out...

and thats my contribution to the thread.....

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Congratulations for the info... Great time reading it

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I never believed that one, rossi moving to F1controller.gif

It was just for the press from day one

Edited by Massa
Spam

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I wonder if a Jacques Villeneuve return is still an active rumour, seems to have popped up a few times over the years. He just won't ever completely go away...

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I wonder if a Jacques Villeneuve return is still an active rumour, seems to have popped up a few times over the years. He just won't ever completely go away...

Sato as well. Every year since he left F1 he's been linked with a team :P

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Last I heard of Sato he was crashing into Dario Franchitti a few weeks ago, and then Franchitti broke his spine...or have I misunderstood that?

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Last I heard of Sato he was crashing into Dario Franchitti a few weeks ago, and then Franchitti broke his spine...or have I misunderstood that?

Not quite.

Sato brushed the wall on corner exit a lap before, damaging the toe link.

This made it impossible for Sato to keep his car in-line in one of the corners, so it drifted up into Franchitti's path.

Franchitti was launched over Sato.

The track failed to meet safety standards, and the catch fence flew right off. Thankfully, the car didn't land in the stands, though 13-16 people were injured.

Franchitti was left with fractured vertebrae, a concussion, broken ribs, and a broken ankle.

Less of a Sato incident and more of an IndyCar having disastrous safety standards for the level of speed incident.

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Not exactly and old rumor, but a throwback to the first of a few Red Bull Driver Searches in the U.S. The search was ultimately controversial, with Red Bull electing to take Scott Speed, who was by no means the fastest or most experienced, as they wanted to prove their program could "build" a champion "from scratch," rather than develop an already high-potential driver.

So, who was turned down?

http://www.grandprix.com/ns/ns07116.html

And where are they now? Some of the more interesting ones:

A.J. Allmendinger went on to win a few Champ Car races before switching to NASCAR. He was arrested for DUI, and then briefly suspended for failing a drug test. He has since returned, and will run the full Sprint Cup season in 2014.

Bobby East became a top NASCAR prospect for Ford and Roush-Fenway Racing, but never developed into a contender. After being unable to make the top series, East has returned to USAC midget/sprint racing on the short ovals of America, where he is a regular winner.

Paul Edwards joined the sports car ranks, most notably in Grand-Am, where he was the 2008 GT class champion for Banner Racing.

Phil Giebler would represent the U.S. in A1GP, taking a podium on a wet Zandvoort. He'd also hold the distinction of being Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year by virtue of being the only rookie in the field. He now concentrates on karting, and distributes Fernando Alonso's karts in the U.S.

Joey Hand is a factory BMW driver in both DTM and sports cars. He's an overall winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and class winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Ryan Hunter-Reay won the 2012 IndyCar Series title for Andretti Autosport. His father's story is more interesting: http://articles.latimes.com/1988-11-15/news/mn-172_1_cocaine-distribution-charges, though that all happened well before the Driver Search.

Patrick Long is a Porsche factory driver. He has class wins at Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring, and Petit Le Mans, and is widely regarded as one of the best GT drivers in the U.S.

Rocky Moran, Jr. showed up in the failed Jaguar factory GT effort, disappearing since. He partnered P.J. Jones; his father, Rocky Moran, also co-drove sports cars with Jones.

Boston Reid became a development driver for Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR's top team. He did not succeed in that role, and is now a real estate agent.

Bryan Sellers races for Falken Tire's factory GT effort in the ALMS. He just won Petit Le Mans in that class.

Bobby Wilson had some success in Indy Lights, but never made it to IndyCar due to allegations about his hard partying.

And Scott Speed? Well, he's now a rallycross driver after his brief NASCAR career stalled.

What an odd trail of alumni. It's amazing to think of some of those drivers getting to F1 instead of Speed; some because they may have performed better, and others because it just would have been bizarre.

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Very interesting read Massa, thanks for sharing. Guess we know now how hunter-reay made his way into the expensive world of motor racing, drug money.

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