The signing of the US partnership agreement with German Touring Car and Japan SuperGT [GT500 class] was one of the 1st press events of the 2013 NY Auto Show. And I was there.
After 5 years of negotiation the plan is real, the papers signed AT the Press Conference, the 3 DTM Manufacturers - Audi, BMW, AMG Mercedes Benz - present and supportively speaking, with a US OEM rep [or 2] lurking in the back of the room.
The fun started immediately as the on-stage logos were 'DTM', 'SuperGT', 'IMSA', and.... 'Grand-Am'. But, every time an executive for DTM or one of the 3 German brands spoke, THEY invoked the 'NASCAR' name. Because they want the world AND their Executive Boards to know THEY are doing business with the most successful motorsport professionals in the US. And those other US names on the screen weren't those guys!
Awkward laughter moment was when Scott Atherton, representing IMSA, mentioned to the audience how ALMS in the midst of the last 5 years tried to steal the DTM initiative from NASCAR [Oops....Now his Boss]. Pretty sure I caught a dismissive euro eyebrow to the idea of an ALMS alliance. And then the next DTM speaker went right back to the "We love NASCAR" compliments / comments / rant.
Some NASCAR media hack asked how the rules would equalize tube-chassis with uni-bodies, "Since, you know, there are so many different types of racing sedans". Hans Stuck politely explained the DTM carbon fiber tub concept [and more here].
I assume the guy next to the guy then schooled him on WHAT carbon fiber IS ["It's the same process that gets your hand towel all stiff an hour after you.....happy end"].
Anywaaay...... Here are the facts, to date -
So, as BMW in particular wanted all along, there is now a unified single-spec giving manufacturers the efficiency to build 1 global racecar for the 3 major markets US, Europe, Asia.
Why Australia V8 SuperCars wasn't brought into this is open for your input, dear readers.
And yes, some engineering rules-making details still need to be worked-through. eg; DTM has their V8's, GT500 in Japan is moving to Turbo 4-cylinder power with KERS.
* IMSA will sanction the 75-minute sprint races. The races could run with NASCAR, USR sports car, other racing series like IndyCar, or as a stand-alone feature event.
* Racing starts in 2015 OR 2016.
* There is NO series! Yet. Right now we simply have a signed letter of intent, committing everyone to work together to give DTM US that American 'Can Do' vibe to make it happen!
Hence, the Press Conference before the NY Show, giving us all opportunity to watch the entourage of NASCAR / IMSA / DTM officials trekking from one US OEM display to another - Taking meetings, telling the story, and seeking commitments. The NYC results, not surprisingly, were typical AmeriCAN'T - aka "We can't commit right now, but we will study".
* Hey, Cadillac! Really? What's to study? The corporate suit Cadil-lacky that once told me they race the North American-ONLY, somewhat wankerifically-run, SCCA World Challenge because "You know, 'World' is in the series title" should set aside that GM PowerPoint deck, get up from the GM staff meeting, man-up to the logic, and put a CTS or ATS on the true global map - In DTM US and in DTM Germany. While Corvette fulfills destiny in USR sportscar racing [and the WEC, dammit].
* Fiat-Chrysler / Ford DO have a decision to make, too [PS - Don't expect me to mention Lincoln. Uh, they still can't make / launch roadcar tech. This racecar sh*t is way beyond their 'pay-grade' capacity].
The OEM decision 'Elephant-in-the-Room' is THIS - Does the US market really NEED another racing series? eg; Who's going to fund all this racing? OR better said, how many racing projects CAN / WILL a Manufacturer be able to support?
* Only a few days ago, weren't we all trying to get everyone behind the idea of supporting the new 2014 United Sportscar Racing series [official USR website here]? Even Audi explained THEY can't race everywhere. So, will DTM US limit Audi's commitment to USR?
* And when asked, DTM US officials said the new series is currently modeled after the home-market DTM, meaning big OEM tech bucks, factory teams, AND an OEM Marketing / Ad spend commitment to add-in, too. Real $$ heavy-lifting.
At the press event, DTM showed a great video -
As did SuperGT.
But, if Ford was at the Presser all their eyes probably saw was NO Ken Block Gymkhana ["What DTM and SuperGT? NOT 44MM views for you, like us? Ehhh."].
And Dodge remember is $-short for even NASCAR right now - Bet THAT would be their sedan racing Job 1?
Still, the DTM cars ARE cool.
The Germans seem serious to use DTM to strengthen their US footprint.
NASCAR has a ton of good business reasons to do this. Not the least is, via SuperGT, they get Honda and Nissan to join Toyota in the NASCAR family of racing opportunities.
Plus, NASCAR now can bring / sell a full weekend of THEIR racing to an event promoter. Cha-Ching$.
Except when DTM US runs with IndyCar. Well, until NASCAR goes to their ATM to withdraw the funds to buy [like they did ALMS]......IndyCar. And THAT story got to my ears at the NY show via 2 good sources.
So, what do you think? Does the US need DTM? And which brands, US or other, should race?