Muscle Milk Pulls Plug on TUSC Program

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Muscle Milk Pickett Racing has pulled the plug on its TUDOR United SportsCar Championship program, with immediate effect.

The two-time ALMS P1 champions previously announced that it would skip the Long Beach and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca rounds in order to focus on further development of its Oreca 03 Nissan package.

However, a team representative confirmed to Sportscar365 on Thursday that they will not take part in any further races this year. No reason for the withdrawal has been given.

Pickett joins Level 5 Motorsports and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing that have ended their TUDOR Championship programs early.

The team’s future remains unclear at this point, with no firm direction pointing towards the possibility of any new program.

It’s understood Pickett was the front runner to campaign the Nismo-supported Nissan GTR GT3 in GT Daytona, but the status of that initiative is unknown.

54 Comments

  1. jj

    April 17, 2014 at 9:13 am

    LET THE COMMENT WARS BEGIN!!!!!!!!!

  2. Christian

    April 17, 2014 at 9:24 am

    LEL

  3. Ian

    April 17, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I am just sad that I don’t get to see them at Watkins Glen.

    • Mike

      April 17, 2014 at 9:46 am

      Me too, I was excited to finally see an oreca chassis run by my favorite team, but oh well.

      • Ian

        April 17, 2014 at 9:56 am

        I have been a huge ALMS fan since the beginning and have always wanted to go to Watkins Glen. Now I get a chance and my favorite team won’t be there

    • Matt

      April 17, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      Same, Watkins Glen was shaping up to be killer this year but now all the teams are dropping out. The loss of Aston is the biggest shame. I feel like I’ll never get to see their GTE car now.

  4. Jeff

    April 17, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Day-by-day a P2 team pulls out. Hope that don’t happen to ESM.

  5. jj

    April 17, 2014 at 9:34 am

    WELL!!! this is a great week for me the only racing the personely knows me goes te PWC, MMPR withdrwals and i dont have enough money for skip barber

    • Jim

      April 17, 2014 at 9:50 am

      What language do you speak?

    • Bob

      April 17, 2014 at 10:03 am

      What the heck are you typing about? Can’t understand you. Is English your first language?

  6. jj

    April 17, 2014 at 9:35 am

    *the only racing team^

  7. Nuno Rosario

    April 17, 2014 at 9:37 am

    i am really not surprised by this…i will be if ESM also pulls out

    • jack

      April 17, 2014 at 10:08 am

      ed brown wants to race, so the team wont pull out, they are also rumored to buy the new honda p2

  8. Kirk

    April 17, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Pretty soon the Mazdas will be the only P2 cars left so IMSACAR will have to BoP the DP’s by making them drag around battleship anchors.

    Seriously though, this is just sad. The only ALMS prototype team left is ESM, and who knows how long they’ll be around? After one or two more races IMSACAR can probably just bring an end to this facade and change the series name back to Grand-Am.

    • jack

      April 17, 2014 at 10:08 am

      oak racing is still here….

    • Bob

      April 17, 2014 at 10:23 am

      Everybody had their worries & concerns and we’re supposed to be happy for the unification. But not everything is all roses behind the scenes for some teams. And this negative stuff is going on. Some ppl don’t believe the NASCARification of the new sports car series is a valid point. They say it’s still being run by IMSA. But IMSA is now headquartered in Daytona & tell me how many ppl from the old IMSA out of Georgia actually still work for IMSA today? Probably few to none. The whole thing is sad. What’s the fix? I thought the new Prototype class would be flourishing with 18+ cars. But it’s struggling with a dozen entries. The Grand-Am DP class had easily ~14 cars per event. Combine the P2 cars from the ALMS and today’s P class should be a lot stronger. But it’s not.

      • Anthony Thomas (@djfourmoney)

        April 17, 2014 at 5:52 pm

        Here’s the deal and I have said it from day one since this nonsense started at the tail end of 2008.

        GT3 was clearly the direction the world was going. But the ACO doesn’t like GT racing. Since they run the most important event in sports car racing, this is a similar case to what destroyed open wheel racing in America.

        A handful of people only want to run Prototypes, period. However the cost of mounting a P1 program is astronomical, even more expensive than to run a two car Indycar team.

        I said before Dyson had GT roots and can easily go back to those if presented with an opportunity and has done so. This story with Pickett is not done. Having forged ties with Nissan, he could easily switch up put both his drivers in GT cars and go run in the Pirelli World Challenge without much out of pocket expense.

        Klaus Graf also has connections with Mercedes Benz who is underrepresented currently in PWC.

        The issues is BoP and increased cost. Both of these issues would have been wiped away with a two class GT3 series, period.

        Only Porsche doesn’t have a new GT3 solution, only the previous car that has been rendered largely uncompetitive in GT3.

        With all these resources tied up in getting Super Cup/Cup cars, GTLM customer cars built and developing the LMP1 car, something had to give and it was the GT3 customers.

        We’ve seen this movie before with the Porsche LMP2 car, a company’s resources are not infinite but finite. There are reports of staff on the LMP program being overworked and dropping out of the team.

        Trying to fuse two completely different philosophies when our political system suffers from the same problems was not going to work. The country is divided, in many ways, even in sports.

        The complicated thing to do was trying to merge these philosophies into a series.

        The easy thing to do was go the GT route and the only people that would have suffered is Porsche and maybe HPD.

        In fact, I would go half way, two classes, one GTLM the other GT3. This is done in International GT Open and is fairly popular though many teams are not running GTLM/GT2 car but GT3 cars instead.

        That route meets all the criteria of diversity, quality equipment, competitive fields and factory involvement.

        Its easy to police because much of the BoP is taken out of the series hands and put into the hands of the FIA/ACO. There is a few things they can change but overall BoP is already baked in.

        That means you have a stable rules package.

        In two years you could re-evaluate with new rules being introduced for both GT and LMP cars in the next two years.

        If you want to bring back prototypes at that time the GT classes would have been stable, fan interest would be high, less complaining and you would have great racing, not impacted by non-Professionals.

        But as with many things, the simplest answer is ignored.

        In the end, I think Tudor will end up going with enclosed LMP2 cars across the board and then allow full FIA GT3 cars and maybe go down to two classes with an average entry of about 30 cars for the entire season.

        However until that time its going to be bloody and messy.

    • Tucker

      April 17, 2014 at 10:51 am

      I agree with Kirk and have said from the beginning that this is NASCRAP’s (or IMSACAR’s) plan.

  9. Bob

    April 17, 2014 at 10:08 am

    This is disappointing! What’s going on behind the press? Is this just a simple situation where the P2 cars aren’t competitive in this current BoP situation & the Muscle Milk team just doesn’t see the point in competing? Or is it another reason? I feel bad for the team & the 2 drivers who now have no ride.

    • jc

      April 17, 2014 at 11:20 am

      Honestly, is this a surprise? What is the point in continuing once they suspended their operations for 2 races?? They were already disgruntled so why would Pickett keep hitting his thumb with the hammer is all I am saying. I will be interested to see the direction they choose to go from hereon out. I don’t think they will come back to TUSC anytime soon though.

      TUSC, meanwhile, is going to grind on. For non-DP likers, it is shaping up to be the predicted, dreaded, Ganassi versus Taylor/Action Express versus rest-of-lesser-DP-field scenario, with Oak being the only non-DP team that has any sort of a shot at a podium. Next year too probably, if Oak chooses to continue and ESM doesn’t get updated equipment for Dalziel.

      • Anthony Thomas (@djfourmoney)

        April 17, 2014 at 6:10 pm

        I believe Oak will mount a challenge, starting with Laguna Seca. That track suits a LMP2 car especially turns 5-4-6-9 and 10. The key will be getting the pole.

        There are two section of track where the extra power of the DP’s will come into play, coming ou out of Andretti and the final turn onto the front straight (11), maybe out of 3.

        The P2 will also have an advantage coming into the corkscrew under braking.

        In the early part of the run, some of the factors that have allowed the DP’s to run away with the championship thus far will come into play, which is bring the tires up to temp sooner.

        They will also benefit from the increased downforce in the same sections P2’s will have an advantage. Being a low grip surface however, I think the P2’s less weight and overall less tire wear will start to come to the fore.

        Without the GTC and LMPC cars to get in the way, its very possible we might have another caution free run, the key will be getting the P2’s head of the DP’s.

    • Anthony Thomas (@djfourmoney)

      April 17, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      Klaus has a ride in the VLN series (Rowe Mercedes) and does does Luhr (Schubert BMW), I wouldn’t feel too sorry for them.

      For Pickett that money already set aside for the Tudor series can be easily transferred into a couple of GT cars for Pirelli World Challenge…

    • racefan101

      April 17, 2014 at 11:00 pm

      That’s pretty much it. I’m a race fan and as such I hoped this series would work. however, the first 3 races didn’t show a good balance of performance in the P class, favoring the DPs in my opinion. The officials at Daytona and Sebring made way too many mistakes, and that ruined both races. So I did see this coming. I just hope the other P2s stick around for the sake of sports car racing in the US.

  10. Anonymous

    April 17, 2014 at 10:19 am

    This is disappointing, MMPR out. I fear Oak may be next, ESM will be here for at the year as the sponsor of the NAEC but after this year who knows.

  11. Sam

    April 17, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Would love to see MMPR take the NISMO backed GTRs to Pirelli World Challenge with Luhr and Graf.

    • Ernie2492

      April 17, 2014 at 11:07 am

      I wonder if they will make an alliance with the European team which also using the Oreca..?

  12. Ernie2492

    April 17, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Alright, who’s next..?

  13. Gabian

    April 17, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I find tube frame dinosors B0P’d to make them as fast as handicapped, real prototypes, an abomination. You don’t build something up by dumbing things down. i can’t blame them for quitting, seems to be an exercise in frustration. I’ll watch real racing with the WEC.

  14. Mark

    April 17, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    What a complete and utter joke this series has become. The only good thing that has come of it is the increase in GT cars, namely GTD. As a GT series alone it would be ok for North American standards. Tusk Tusk so I guess I’ll move on to WEC and PWC

    • Jason

      April 17, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      I think GTD as it is will be costing the series entries too. Bentley for instance picked PWC so that they can stay in GT3 spec. I think IMSA is in a bind in a couple ways. One being the Porsche GT America is so invested so that might prevent GT3 from being adpated.

      As far the talk of ESM leaving. I laugh at that for now. I’ll believe it when I see it.

      • Anthony Thomas (@djfourmoney)

        April 17, 2014 at 6:16 pm

        Porsche is focused on winning Le Mans. That means other things have to take a back seat. They had to build Super Cup cars, Cup cars for Championships like the British series and GTLM cars for CORE, Falken Tire and Proton.

        M-Sport who builds the cars for Bentley, Malcolm Wilson said under no circumstances would they build a car to IMSA GTC spec when the FIA GT3 was still in development, making its Blancpain debut last weekend with two top 10 finishes.

        An all GT series was the obvious answer with Porsche and HPD/Wirth being the biggest losers for at least a couple of seasons.

        In the end IMSA will have to ditch its own GTC specifications and go with FIA GT3, but I think they’ll wait until GT and GT Plus is hammered out.

  15. Steve

    April 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    The writing is on the wall, the Tudor series is catered only to the DP’s. Why ESM and Oak remain in the series is beyond recognition. I was quite surprised why Oak committed to this series over the WEC, maybe to get a NA fanbase.

    After the failed BoP at Daytona and the failed SC rules at Sebring…I gave up on Tudor. WEC and ELMS is on this weekend so we get to see some great sportscar racing finally!!!

    • Anthony Thomas (@djfourmoney)

      April 17, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      Oak wants to sell cars in the US and already won the other regional championship in the ELMS.

      Since the cost of doing either WEC or Tudor are about the same, they opted to come to America.

      Others were considering the same thing but the instability over the DP/P2 BoP kept them in the ELMS for the time being, one being Murphy Prototypes and Greaves who was linked to Dyson before the Bentley deal was completed.

    • racefan101

      April 17, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Where can we see the WEC race?

  16. Logan

    April 17, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    :( ouch!

  17. jj

    April 17, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    all you cribabys don”t know wen we americins hav a god sereis

  18. Russ

    April 17, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I bet they will be in PWC sooner than you think.I hate this for tusc , i hope they can realize its sportscar racing not nascar. I HAVE SAID FROM THE DAY I SEEN THE SCHEDULE THEY HAVE LEFT THEMSELVES OPEN FOR ANOTHER SERIES TO START UP . To many tracks with no races.

  19. Adrian

    April 17, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    I’m glad he left this ridiculous series. I hope ESM leaves as well. They should both go to GT and race in the PWC series. I can honestly see this series dying sooner rather than later.

  20. Jason Elliott

    April 17, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    The balance of power is a complete joke. They should have done something after Sebring to bring the P2 cars back to the Grand Am cars. Looks like Grand Am got their own way which I think they wanted from the start of this. Very disappointed, coming over from the UK to Petit LeMans in October. Don’t really want to see just Grand Am cars challenging for the lead!

  21. Joe

    April 18, 2014 at 12:53 am

    The current DP cars will still be running 5 years from now. Bet on it.
    Nascar paid too much for them, and the are going to make them last for a long time. Just get used to them.

  22. jenner

    April 18, 2014 at 4:40 am

    In the corporate world, you eliminate the competition by buying them out, then laying everyone off. In this case, NASCAR and the ALMS “merged” to become one company. Unfortunately, we all know what “merge” means in the business world.

    We know what happened when the IRL and Champcar merged. Have you seen Pole Day at Indy lately? And do they even have Bump Day anymore? Yeah, the 500 still draws a crowd on race day, but ask any hotel owner in Indianapolis what their revenue is now during the month of May compared to what it was back in the CART days. I’m pretty sure they will tell you they were rollin’ in the bucks back in the heyday. Open wheel racing hasn’t been the same.

    Anyways, careful what you wish for, it may come true. Once the ALMS fans stop attending races, all TUSC will have is the GA fan, and we all know how many of them attended races. Soon, sponsors will be the next to go, followed by teams either closing their shop doors or switching to another series. We’re only four races in and more teams have left the series than joined.

    I’m still hoping and praying, but like someone said earlier, it looks like the writing is on the wall. Time for me to finally make that trip to the LeMans next summer and party with the Brits, Germans, Danes, and Aussies.

    • jenner

      April 18, 2014 at 4:46 am

      I mean three races in. Let’s see what happens after Laguna next week.

    • Jason Elliott

      April 18, 2014 at 5:19 am

      Hey Jenner, your welcome to come party with us brits at lemans. We know how to party!

      • Jenner

        April 18, 2014 at 1:05 pm

        I’ve never met a Brit that didn’t know how to party. Can’t wait to visit Sportscar racing Mecca.

      • Iamthey

        April 19, 2014 at 1:54 am

        Can I come? Turns out that some of us yanks actually want to see some racing where you can actually distinguish between the cars that are racing. I’ve always wanted to attend LeMans, but have always had ALMS instead. Now that that’s obviously gone, better figure out a way to get to a place where they know how to do racing properly! First round’s on me!

  23. aaron

    April 18, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I’m going to start this out by saying I am not coming to the defense of the DP, I have never really liked the formula, but what I do think can be proven true is the level of competition of the grand-am teams. There were at least 5 DP teams capable of winning on any week in that series. The ALMS was the Muscle Milk playground for the last several years. There was really no prototype competition in the ALMS for about 3 years. Dyson was there, but I don’t think their funding level was up to par. There were a couple of P2 teams, but it wasn’t the competition level of Grand-am. The Grand Am teams had to come every week with their best game or they would be beat. Ganassi had a terrible 24 hour, their pitstops were bad, the car was not fully sorted, etc. But they went back and regrouped, and look what has happened. Ganassi teams come to win and they are funded to win. The Ford engine is only 3 races old when it won, it didn’t finish its first race. I believe if you were to put Ganassi or Action Express, WTR, or Spirit of Daytona in a P2 car, they would still be at the top. They are just better prepared teams, I hate to say it, but that is where the Grand-Am was better. Now, look at GTLM, those cars carried over from ALMS and that was the most competitive class there, and it is still probably the most competitive class in TUSC. Those teams had to show up ready to run every week and they did, and it shows. There are definitely still some BoP issues and competition rules that need to be looked into, but I don’t think this is all down to one car versus the other car, or this tire versus that tire, there are some teams who need to step up their preparation and race strategy too. Until that happens, the better prepared teams will continue to win and unfortunately, right now, that seems to be the DP teams.

    • Kirk

      April 21, 2014 at 8:41 am

      I agree. Although I don’t like the DP for a number of reasons, the top of the DP heap definitely had to work harder to get there than did their P1 counterparts. While over the last few years the DP teams have been racing, during that time all the Muscle Milk guys had to do was show up to get overall wins. On the odd occasion when they had any real competition (i.e. the Rebellion car) they lost.

      We all bemoan the fact the DP’s are winning all the races, but I think much of it has to come down to the fact the DP squads are simply better prepared.

      • Iamthey

        April 21, 2014 at 11:08 pm

        Better prepared by being given ,over last years dp cars at least, lots more hp and gobs more downforce when they need it. Don’t get me wrong, the dp teams are top notch. Ultimately, the problem seems to be that, over the course of this inaugural year, with these tracks, last years dp’s vs last years p2s would end up being much more evenly matched. At least at the end of the season, when the titles are being handed out.

  24. Rick Baker

    April 19, 2014 at 9:09 am

    When the merger was first announced, Jim France assured the DP teams they would be the top class. He has kept his promise.

    • Joe

      April 21, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      Look for the DP’s to be with us for a long time, too. …..that’s their MO.

  25. Rob Gonzalez

    April 20, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Well if you noticed or not they were the best lmp team the last 2 yrs. When they joined Tudor and changed engine dev. To Nissan they weren’t competitive any longer. Just saying…

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