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DATE News (chronologically 3/16/01 to 3/26/01)
Stallone on Jay Leno tonight  UPDATE Commercials were also shown for the movie during the show.  Earlier - Sylvester Stallone will be on the Jay Leno show tonight talking about, among other things, his upcoming CART movie called DRIVEN
CART might learn a lesson from NASCAR  While we don't agree with what Tony Stewart did to Jeff Gordon after yesterday's race at Bristol (he spun him out on pitlane because Jeff Gordon got into him on the last lap), it certainly got the fans ranting and cheering in the grandstands.  The rivalry between Gordon and Stewart is just another in a long history of rivalry's along NASCAR's road to supremacy.  Petty vs. Pearson, Earnhardt vs. Gordon, The Allison's vs. Yarborough.  The list is long, and the names famous.  Rivalry.  Every great sport has it.  Without rivalry, fan interest dies away.  Remember the days of Foyt vs. Andretti vs. the Unser's vs. Gurney?  What about the days of Jimmy Bryan, Vukovich, and the many greats of the past.  Those were the days of great rivalry's, the days when Indy car racing was #1 in the USA.  Today, CART and the IRL are almost too nice, too courteous.  Rivalry like the Tracy vs. Andretti, or Little Al vs. Mikey days seem to have waned, and with it fan apathy moved in.  Will CART drivers going back to Indy, though outnumbered 28 to 5 this year, rekindle a much needed rivalry in Indy car racing?  To put it in perspective, while NASCAR officials were handing Tony Stewart a $10,000 slap on the wrist after yesterday's altercation with Gordon, the NASCAR marketing folks were probably patting him on the back for a job well done as he walked out of the officials office.  OK, so we made that up, but do you think it's possible?  
Andretti and Fittipaldi in the news Newman/Haas Racing driver Christian Fittipaldi and his former teammate Michael Andretti appear in the current issue of American Health & Fitness magazine in a feature about their fitness routines titled "Racer's Edge."  Did you know that Christian Fittipaldi carried the Olympic Torch, or that Andretti will appear in Lifestyle Magazine?  Story
Basketball Star looking to start Winston Cup team According to USA Today, Phoenix Suns forward Rodney Rogers is looking to start a NASCAR Winston Cup team with Barry Dodson, crew chief for the Eel River racing team.  Rogers loves automobile racing and would like to become the first black Winston Cup team owner.  He needs $15 million in sponsorship to start the team. 
Sadler and Harvick lead NASCAR youth movement Elliott Sadler and Kevin Harvick, the two most recent drivers to earn their way into the starting field for the May 19 running of The Winston, NASCAR Winston Cup racing's annual all-star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, are also the youngest drivers qualified for the no-holds-barred special event. Sadler and Harvick, born April 30, 1975, and Dec. 8, 1975, respectively, lead a youth movement that has seen the average age of the current starting field for The Winston drop more than two years-to 34.5 years from last year' s 36.7. Interestingly, both Harvick and Sadler were in elementary school when Darrell Waltrip won the inaugural running of The Winston in 1985. "The number of young drivers currently making an impression on our sport is simply amazing," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway. "In fact, looking over the list of 18 drivers currently eligible for The Winston, it's interesting to note that 10 of them had yet to reach their 18th birthday when The Winston was introduced." Even though it seems as if he's been around forever, Jeff Gordon has yet to reach his 30th birthday and Dale Earnhardt Jr., last year's winner of The Winston, is only 26. Tony Stewart doesn't turn 30 until the day after The Winston while Matt Kenseth celebrated his 29th birthday earlier this month and Jerry Nadeau turned 30 in September. Ward Burton (39), Michael Waltrip (37), Bobby Labonte (36), Jeff Burton (33), Steve Park (33) and Jeremy Mayfield (31) will represent the 30-something crowd in Winston Cup racing's premier special event. Bill Elliott, winner of The Winston in 1986, is the oldest driver in the field at 45 while Dale Jarrett (44), Terry Labonte (44), Rusty Wallace (44) and Mark Martin (42) are also part of the over-40 gang.
Tony Stewart fined $10,000 NASCAR officials announced today they have penalized NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Tony Stewart for intentionally running into the car driven by Jeff Gordon during the cool-down lap of the Food City 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn. Stewart, driver of the No. 20 NASCAR Winston Cup Series team, was fined $10,000 and placed on probation until Aug. 29th. Stewart was penalized under Section 12-4-A in the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series rule book: "...actions deemed by NASCAR Officials as detrimental to stock car racing..."
Robinson to test Shawna Robinson and MK Racing will be testing Monday, April 2, and Tuesday, April 3, at the California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in advance of the team's debut in the NASCAR Winston Cup race at the speedway in April 29's NASCAR Winston Cup event. Robinson will become the first female driver in more than 20 years to attempt a regular NASCAR Winston Cup schedule when she enters and competes in six events this season, and runs the full season in 2002. 
Wood Brothers back on the job It was barely 8 o'clock, so early on Monday morning that the sun hadn't begun to knock the chill off the early morning air in the Martinsville Speedway garage area. It was so chilly, that every time Eddie Wood laughed, a wispy puff of condensation rolled out of his mouth. And this morning, Eddie Wood was doing a lot of laughing. Not more than 15 hours earlier, with Elliott Sadler behind the wheel of their Motorcraft Ford, the Wood Brothers had snapped a seven-year winless streak and broken out of a nosedive that had taken this venerable Winston Cup team about as low as it had ever been. The 25-year-old Sadler took the lead with about 70 laps to go in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway and never faltered on the way to his first Winston Cup victory. "I think it's the biggest thing that's happen to our race team, ever," Wood said early Monday morning as his team geared up for a two-day testing session at Martinsville Speedway in preparation for the April 8 Virginia 500. "I mean we've had big moments and milestones, but this win, I think, got us back to where we belong now. "We've been struggling so long and trying to get back to where you were competitive every week and actually get to the point where you could finish in the top 10 or top five, much less winning a race. This means everything to us because so many people had gambled on us. Ford Motor Company, Motorcraft, the Air Force, they gambled on getting on our car. It just feels really good to pay them back for taking that gamble." In the time since Sadler took the checkered flag at Bristol, Wood said he's been slapped on the back so many times, he's sore. There have been more interviews than the co-owner of the Wood Brothers Racing team can count. But before all the celebrating, as the final laps wore down late Sunday afternoon, it was eerily quiet on the team's two-way radios. "It was just very quiet," Wood said of the last laps. "We let the spotter do the talking. We wanted Elliott to concentrate because he had the heat on him. Pat (crew chief Pat Tryson) just told him it's 30 to go, 20 to go, counted it down to 10. He didn't say a lot." While there was still plenty of back-slapping and smiling going on amongst team members as the sun slid up over the grandstands at Martinsville Speedway this morning, it was quickly back to work for the Wood Brothers. After a visit to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, it will be back to the .526-mile track that's only about 30 minutes East of the Wood Brothers Stuart shop. "It's no secret to the whole world this is our toughest, our toughest endeavor is racing here," Wood said from inside Martinsville Speedway's new garage. "It's our home track and for some reason we've always struggled here, even back 10, 20 years. It always seems it doesn't matter what kind of car we bring over here, who works on it, what kind of motor, who drives it, if it's got 21 on the side of it, we're just gonna have a hard time. Hopefully we can turn that around. "We've got a lot of new things that Pat has brought us. In fact some of the things we did at Bristol this weekend should apply here. We've got two new Roush cars here and hopefully we can work some of that stuff out, because Elliott's run well here in Late Models. It's kinda up to us to get it going, because he's proved he can get it done over here." 
TMS dispels race cancellation rumors  Once again there have been rumors circulating by CART detractors saying the CART race at Texas Motor Speedway is in jeopardy because some of the bumps and other safety concerns that were raised by some of the drivers had not been addressed.  A track spokesperson (and CART) said the issues are being addressed and they recently met with CART to iron out the advertising plan for the last 5-weeks before the event.  We assume there will be some advertising around the DRIVEN movie as it is due to be released the weekend of the race. MC
Johnny Benson interview Transcript of Johnny Benson's appearance at Winston Breakfast Saturday in Bristol.  Interview
Salo in Toyota test crash  Testing of the new Toyota Formula One car at Circuit Paul Ricard ended early today after Mika Salo's car suffered a mechanical failure. His car went off while braking at the end of the main Mistral straight, hit the soft wall at around 135 mph, suffering only nose damage, and all four wheels remained on the car.  Mika left the car unaided and was examined by team doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli. As a precaution he was immediately flown by helicopter to La Timone hospital in Marseille for a full check up. "Mika has no injuries, just some back pain and I recommended he take some rest before continuing with testing" said Riccardo Ceccarelli.  Mika returned to the circuit within two hours. He will later fly to his home in Finland to rest for a while and will continue with his scheduled fitness program before recommencing with testing.
Updated DRIVEN website  In case you haven't been back to visit the revised DRIVEN website lately, they have new previews, many new interactive elements and a contest to win a trip for two to LA for the Hollywood premiere.  It's worth a return visit. Here are the previews (2:27 min):
Windows Media Player Previews Real Player Previews
High Resolution (700K) High Resolution (300K)
Medium Resolution (300K) Medium Resolution (100K)
Low Resolution (100K) Low Resolution (56K)
Big demand for Australia tickets means sale starts early  Tremendous demand for tickets for this year's Honda Indy 300 has encouraged the earliest "on sale" date in the Queensland event's 11-year history.  Tickets for this year's Honda Indy 300 will go on sale across Australia beginning Monday through Ticketek and one lucky fan and a friend will have the chance to get closer to the action than most at the October 25-28 event.  Any adult fan who buys a four-day ticket before September 30 will go into the draw to watch the race with a friend from the pit bay of one of the leading Champ Car teams.  Honda Indy 300 Chief Executive Officer, Mr Geoff Jones, says that the phone has been "ringing off the hook" with people wanting ticketing details for this year's race, which will again be the penultimate round of the FedEx Championship Series.  "We have never experienced this much interest in the race this far out and so we have decided to go on sale to take advantage of that," said Mr Jones. "People have their favourite vantage spots all around the track and they want to ensure they get their reserved seats as soon as possible. "The opportunity to become part of a Champ Car team on race day is an extra bonus which we are hoping will encourage fans to get in early." This year's event is set become another record-breaking spectacular which will provide a week of entertainment on and off the track on the spectacular Gold Coast. "The Honda Indy 300 grows bigger and better every year and I am sure this year's event will again provide the world's most spectacular race and biggest party," said Jones. "We have been flooded with ideas for our off-track event program by tourism bodies, community groups, major hotel, business groups and local promoters. "Our on-track schedule is also shaping as one of the most entertaining in world motorsports, not only including the Champ Cars, but Australia's own V8 Supercars. "More than ever, I think we are going to be in a position to provide something for everyone." Tickets start at just (AUS) $25.30 (inc GST) for a Thursday general admission ticket, while a four-day flexi ticket will cost (AUS) $133.10 (inc GST) and will allow access to 12 unreserved grandstands round the circuit. All your Honda Indy 300 tickets can be purchased through Ticketek on (011) 61 300 303 103. 
Total team concept for the Winston All-Star race  Drivers garner much of the spotlight in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, but when the series reaches its all-star break in May, the emphasis shifts to the entire team. Qualifying for The Winston, NASCAR's all-star race, will feature a four-tire pit stop at the beginning of each team's qualifying attempt. In the past, qualifying has included a two-tire stop somewhere within the multi-lap qualifying process. The Winston is set for Saturday night, May 19, 2001.  Story
Lowe's to host open house  Officials of The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway will open the gates Friday evening, April 6, so race fans can experience the new sight lines in the reconfigured main grandstand while watching the cars and stars of the Advance Auto Parts Modified Super DIRT Series prepare for the Eckerd 100 on Saturday night, April 7. DIRT Motorsports' premier drivers will be on the track from 7 to 9 p.m., fine-tuning their big-block powered machines for Saturday night's twin 50-lap program. Fans will be admitted free to the main grandstand area beginning at 5 p.m. "This practice session for the DIRT modifieds will be an excellent opportunity for fans to stop by The Dirt Track and see first-hand the improvements that have been made to the grandstand during the winter," said Roger Slack, director of short-track events for Lowe's Motor speedway. The Eckerd 100 will be run in conjunction with the April 5-8 Food Lion AutoFair, one of the nation's largest automotive swap meets and car shows. Advance tickets for the Eckerd 100 are $15 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. The reserved tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at Other events on the 2001 schedule at The Dirt Track include four nights of Pennzoil World of Outlaws sprint car racing (May 25-26 and Oct. 5-6), the $10,000-to-win Southeastern Dirt Late Model Championship on June 30, the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championships on July 28, the Aug. 18 Back to School Monster Truck Bash and the 600 Racing Legends Car Dirt Nationals on Sept. 20-22.

Proposed new Mid-America track

Sepang (middle) and Melbourne (bottom)are wide

Why is it?  UPDATE We received new information today on a track planned to be built in the USA that will be the proper width road course that perhaps CART should take a serious look at.  It's called Mid America Motorsports Park and we believe it is being planned for somewhere outside of Washington DC, in Virginia.  The 3.59 mile (not much less than Road America which is 4.0 miles) track will vary in width between 85' and 100' (by comparison the new Monterrey, Mexico track was just under 50' wide), will initially seat 75,000 people plus have seven spectator mounds, a state-of-the-art media center, have 65' of elevation change, 35 pit stalls, and 30 FIA garages and camp grounds. The track is 75% funded (Jerry Forsythe - want to invest in another track?).  We hear they will make a bid for both a CART and F1 race.  We like the layout - lot's of long straights and hard braking for passing, and the track width is perfect for those standing starts CART really must take a look at. That would be three tracks where CART could have standing starts - three 'special' races each year for fans to look forward to.  CART prides itself on variety - short ovals, superspeedways, road courses and street circuits.  Perhaps three 'standing start' circuits each year would add to the diversity. Stay tuned for more news. 3/19/01 - Why is it that CART will accept racing on narrow road courses while F1 insists that its tracks be a minimum width that is far greater (see Malaysia, top right; and Melbourne, bottom right).  With wide tracks, especially the Start-Finish straight,  F1 is able to do standing starts so the entire field is together on the main straight when the flag drops. The standing are starts are not only fair, the spectators in the grandstands go absolutely wild over them.  CART's rolling starts, necessitated by very narrow tracks, are erratic and strung out.  Rolling starts also carry a lot more speed into the first corner, so when something goes wrong, it goes wrong in a big way.  At Cleveland and Portland, the S/F straight is very wide, two ideal venues for CART to try standing starts.  With falling TV ratings, making the product a little more exciting for TV and the paying customers in the grandstands wouldn't hurt.
Racing For Kids Named Official Charity Long time supporters of Racing for Kids, a charity that raises awareness of children's healthcare issues from coast to coast, the Barber Dodge Pro Series today names the organization its Official Charity. Founded by Dr. William Pinsky, a Skip Barber Racing School graduate as a way to raise awareness for Children's Hospitals in 1989, the charity really got its legs when Dr. Pinsky met 1989 Barber Pro Series Champion Robbie Buhl. Since then the relationship between the Pro Series and Racing for Kids has continued to blossom. "I have always admired the Skip Barber organization," said Racing For Kids founder Dr. William Pinsky. "This relationship with Skip Barber Racing allows us to be involved with young racers who will carry this understanding of the needs of children healthcare with them throughout their careers. In addition, it affords us the opportunity to spread our message to additional racing venues across North America." A cornerstone of the Racing for Kids program is the hospital visits made by the drivers at the pediatric wards of hospitals in race markets across the country. Since its inception, Barber Dodge Pro Series drivers have been counted among the CART, IRNLS, NASCAR and sportscar drivers who have brought a dose of auto racing right into the hospitals. In 1998 Racing For Kids and the Barber Dodge Pro Series created a points fund for drivers who participated in Racing For Kids programs. Drivers who ran a Racing For Kids decal on their Dodge Reynards were eligible for a contingency awarded to the highest finishing driver in the final standings. The Barber Dodge Pro Series will continue to support the hospital visits along with greater Racing For Kids branding on all of the Barber Dodge Reynard racecars among other placements. Racing For Kids mission is to raise public awareness for the healthcare needs of children. In addition, the Barber Dodge Pro Series will team up with Racing For Kids in selected fund raising efforts. All fines levied during the 2001 season will go directly to Racing For Kids. Learn more about Racing For Kids at
CART and IRL TV ratings similar   Both on ABC, Both CART (Monterrey) and IRL (Phoenix) had exactly the same final TV rating of 1.0.  CART had a 3 share while IRL had a 2 share. Both drew 1.022 Million households.  We are told by people who do the TV surveys, that for the most part the same fans watch both series (yes, there are some fans who refuse to watch the other series out of sheer hatred, but they are in the minority).  This indicates that the split has driven fans away from Indy Car racing as CART routinely drew ratings twice what either series gets now.  Some people blame CART because they have too many road courses, but the IRL has all ovals and their track attendance is far lower than CART's road races indicating that fans have very little interest in Indy Car oval racing. CART's oval attendance is dismal as well.  Some people blame the abundance of foreign drivers, but the IRL has many American drivers and their grandstands are empty.  The problem appears to be a general dose of fan apathy brought about by the split.  The sooner CART and the IRL start a little feud/rivalry (see Hatfields vs. McCoys) the sooner we will see a spark that will ignite fan interest. Every successful sport has a fierce rivalry.  Those that don't wither and fade away.   Until then, we suspect the majority will continue to sit on the sidelines.  One has to look no further that the Yarborough vs. Allison wrestling match in the 3rd turn of the Daytona 500 in the 70's or the Pearson vs. Petty, or Gordon vs. Earnhardt rivalry's to see how effective they are at sparking fan interest.  One reason NASCAR fans are so rabid is the intensity by which they cheer their favorite driver and boo the ones they don't like.  The rivalry extends from the race track to the grandstands.
Quote of the week  Dario Franchitti to journalists gathered at Rockingham Speedway yesterday where he made a guest appearance to check out the track, "The force of the cars passing is shocking," he said. "For example, two guys who really know what they're doing, David Coulthard and Alan McNish, both came out to Fontana last year and were blown away. DC stood there with his mouth open for most of the time and Alan went to watch from the outside of the track and just came back shaking his head." Autosport
Oriol Servia tests F1 car again  UPDATE Servia improved today to turn a lap just 2 seconds slower than fast man Michael Schumacher and faster than both Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button.  It should be noted last year's sensation Jenson Button, who the European press marveled over, is nowhere this year and is being outrun by his teammate. 3/21/01 - A surprise driver at Barcelona today was Champ Car driver Oriol Servia, who was testing for the Prost team due to a lack of test drivers for the Paris-based outfit.  He was some 4 seconds slower than fast man Luca Badoer in a Ferrari.
How NASCAR race cars work  The website 'How Stuff Works" now has a new section called 'How NASCAR Race Cars Work'.  Check it out, it's worth a visit.
Watkins Glen names official TV Station Watkins Glen International President, Bryan R. Sperber, announced today that WETM-TV/Channel 18 has been named the official television station of the historic road course and the 2001 racing season. “With the new television contracts NASCAR has put in place for 2001, it is very exciting to develop this partnership with WETM,” said Sperber. “NBC is the home of our NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Busch North Series’ events and with the extensive coverage this relationship provides, area residents will be able to follow the events at The Glen more closely. “ WETM is the first official television station of Watkins Glen International in the track’s history. Channel 18 will provide exclusive coverage of the racing season at The Glen, with live coverage during many of the season’s events. The station will once again broadcast the Global Crossing @ The Glen Winston Cup race preview show prior to the race. "WETM is thrilled to be the official television station of Watkins Glen International and the 2001 racing season,” said Jim Berman, general manager of WETM. “NASCAR's popularity has been growing exponentially in the Twin Tiers region, and we are delighted to work with Watkins Glen to make this season the best ever." .
NASCAR announces rules change for Talladega NASCAR officials announced today modifications for the Ford and Dodge teams to be used in the Talladega 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on April 22, 2001. The width of the Ford's rear spoiler will be decreased from 59 inches to 57-inches wide. The Pontiac's rear spoiler will remain at 59-inches wide, while the Chevrolet's rear spoiler will still be 57-inches wide. The Dodge teams will still use a 1 3/8-inch tall roof mounted air deflector. However, the deflector will now have to form a straight line, which will raise the outer edges' height. Prior to this modification, the deflector had a shape similar to the contour of the roof. Measurements for the Chevrolet and Pontiac models remain unchanged.
New online Team Rahal, a franchise member of Championship Auto Racing Teams, officially re-launched RAHAL.COM, the team's popular Internet site today with a new design and added features for the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series. The website was redesigned by Columbus, Ohio based Resource Marketing (resource), Team Rahal's official integrated marketing partner. The fresh look for the site includes the addition of several new features designed to keep visitors updated on the happenings of Team Rahal and CART throughout the 2001 season. "Racing and technology have always gone hand-in-hand," said Team Rahal owner Bobby Rahal. "That is one of the reasons our sport has embraced the Internet so warmly. RAHAL.COM serves as a news and information source to our fans around the world, and it was with those fans in mind that we undertook this project. I think fans of Team Rahal as well as the sport of open wheel racing will enjoy the new site and the features that our partners at Resource Marketing have developed." According to resource president Christopher Celeste, every aspect of the site was redesigned with the racing enthusiast in mind. "Our goal was to continue to deliver on Team Rahal's objective of exceeding the fan's expectations without impeding their experience. We feel that we have developed a truly intuitive evolution of the site through the thoughtful use of new technology and the optimization of the user interface. Technologies such as PHP, FLASH and rich media along with a greater amount of content enable us to make the fan's experience consistently better and more valuable." Among the new features visitors to the site will encounter: 
  • Daily audio feeds from the track keep the fan abreast of driver reaction to the day's events. 
  • Re-designed home page enables the user to quickly engage and become more educated about the team. 
  • PHP Programming Language allows for greater functionality through less code resulting in a faster and easier user experience. 
  • Expanded administration tool brings the most important information to the fan in real-time. 
  • New video tour of the Team Rahal headquarters in Hilliard, OH. 

Additional features will be added to the site in upcoming months.

Tribute to Dale Earnhardt at Lowe's Motor Speedway Lowe's Motor Speedway will pay tribute to seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt with a special commemorative display featuring several cars from the local hero's racing career during the April 5-8 Food Lion AutoFair, one of the nation's largest automotive swap meets and car shows. The centerpiece of the commemorative display will be the blue and yellow No. 2 Oldsmobile Earnhardt drove to victory in the 1980 Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway. The second-generation racer led a freight train of cars around race leader Darrell Waltrip on the final lap and held off Neil Bonnett and Cale Yarborough to win the second running of the early-season special event.  More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the four-day Food Lion AutoFair, which will feature more than 4,000 cars with 7,000 vendor spaces offering a full array of automotive parts and accessories. Food Lion AutoFair hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Ticket prices are $8 for adults; children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5. For more information on the four-day event, contact the speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit the website at
Free Eckerd 100 Tickets @ Lowe's Motor Speedway Area race fans have the opportunity to meet several top DIRT modified drivers and receive free tickets to the April 7 Eckerd 100 Advance Auto Parts Modified Super DIRT Series event at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway. Eckerd officials will distribute 50 free tickets to the Eckerd 100 DIRT modified event during each of six in-store driver autograph sessions beginning Wednesday, April 4, and continuing through Friday, April 6. The autograph sessions and ticket giveaways are scheduled to take place at Eckerd stores in Charlotte, Kannapolis, Concord and Huntersville with Team Eckerd drivers Brett Hearn, Jack Johnson, Steve Paine, Kenny Tremont and Andy Bachetti sharing the autograph duties. An ambitious slate of 26 show car appearances is also on tap, starting Sunday, March 25, and continuing through Friday, April 26. The cutaway Eckerd show car gives fans a rare glimpse at the inner workings of a DIRT modified. The Eckerd 100 marks the first Carolina appearance for the New York-based sanctioning body that has presented modified racing throughout the Northeast for more than 25 years. Tickets for the Eckerd 100 can be obtained by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at
Eckerd 100 In-Store Driver Autograph Appearance Schedule 
April 4 10:30-2:30 8532 University City Blvd. Jack Johnson Charlotte, N.C. Steve Paine 
April 4 10:30-2:30 2215 Arrowood Road Kenny Tremont Charlotte, N.C. Andy Bachetti 
April 5 10:30-2:30 1250 S. Cannon Blvd. Jack Johnson Kannapolis, N.C. Steve Paine 
April 5 10:30-2:30 1560 Concord Parkway Brett Hearn Concord, N.C. 
April 5 10:30-2:30 738 Cabarrus Ave. Kenny Tremont Concord, N.C. Andy Bachetti 
April 6 9:00-1:00 14120 Statesville Road Jack Johnson Huntersville, N.C. Brett Hearn
Da Matta featured in USA Today ad Make sure to check out today's USA Today for a Toyota ad celebrating da Matta's victory in Mexico. It is on the back page of today's USA Today Sports section.  The ad contains a full side view of the car as well as a head on shot of da Matta with the trophy. Newman/Haas Racing hopes to make it three victories in a row in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 8. 
CART FedEx Series Happenings With the season opening Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Presented by Herdez now in the rear-view mirrors, the focus has switched to Round Two of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series and the 27th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, scheduled for April 6-8.  Story
Ribeiro Holds Lead in USAC Formula Russell Championship Sonoma, Calif. - Fernando Dias Ribeiro maintains his lead after the first two rounds of the 10 round USAC Formula Russell Championship. STAART scholarship winner, Phil Carlson has moved into second with 55 points, and Russell Graduate Run-Offs winner and SKUSA champ Scott Speed is in third with 49. Ribeiro, in his third season in the series, has two wins, a second and one third, also leads the "Masters Division" for drivers in the series between the ages of 40 to 49. Carlson and Speed are in their first year of formula car racing and are showing well. Carlson was one of three kart drivers to receive scholarships to the Jim Russell program from the Series to Advance America Racing Talent, (Robbie Mott listed sixth with 43 points and Dominic DeJacomo is 23rd with 20 points are the other two.) Speed could have scored more points had it not been for a faulty spark box that side lined him on lap 9. At the time he was running fourth in Saturday's race after starting at the back of the grid. Second in the Masters Division is Steve Hill, currently fourth overall with 46 points. Third is Mike Schuster with 36 points. Schuster in holds onto eighth with two podium finishes. 
NASCAR continues to get good TV ratings (For March 18th Source: Speedvision)

• NASCAR Winston Cup (FOX, 3/18) 5.2 rating / 12 share (overnight)
• IRL Phoenix (ABC, 3/18) 1.2 rating / 3 share (overnight)
• NASCAR Busch (FX, 3/17) 1.3 rating / 0.755m households
• NASCAR Cup Happy Hour (FX, 3/17) 1.2 rating / 0.704m hh
• NASCAR Cup Qualifying (FOX SportsNet, 3/17) 0.70 rating / 0.494m hh
• NHRA Qual (ESPN, 3/17) 0.60 rating / 2 share / 0.486m hh
• NHRA Rain Delay (espn2, 3/18) 0.45 rating / 1 share / 0.340m hh
• NASCAR Trucks (espn2, 3/17) 0.39 rating / 1 share / 0.292m hh
• IRL Qual (espn2, 3/17) 0.29 rating / 1 share / 0.222m hh

Penalties handed down for harness infractions  UPDATE Melling Racing Responds to NASCAR Penalties - According to a NASCAR news media release issued today, Melling Racing crew chief Chad Knaus was fined $5000 and suspended two races for rules infractions under section 12-4-A "Actions detrimental to stock car racing" and section 12-4-Q "Any determination by NASCAR officials that parts and/or equipment used in the event do not conform to NASCAR rules: shoulder harness" of the NASCAR Winston Cup rulebook. Melling Racing owner, Mark Melling, issued the following statement in response: "I stand soundly by the safety record of Melling Racing over the many years that we have been participating in this sport. We are one of the first teams to use a neck restraining device (developed in conjunction with associate sponsor Autoliv, the number one automotive safety company in the world). That device was in place prior to this year's Daytona 500. From owner to driver to crew chief to mechanic â€" safety truly is our utmost concern. We are appealing this penalty immediately. For NASCAR to call us out on a "technicality," two weeks after the discovery of the alleged infraction, is just wrong. We have been a leader in the safety area long before it became the recent "buzz" word in NASCAR. I'm deeply troubled that NASCAR chose to make an example out of us." Melling Racing crew chief, Chad Knaus, made the following statement: "NASCAR's concern is that safety belts are up to current standards. The belts in question are brand new belts, and we can prove that. As a matter of safety, we trim off excess shoulder belt material," continued Knaus. "If we did not discard the extra 16 to 24 inches of material, the unused part of the belt would hang free in the cockpit. We don't believe rolling up the excess material provides as safe an alternative as trimming off the excess. When we trimmed off the excess belt material, we also cut off the tag. However, the other belts from this set still had their dated tags, which indicated that this set was new. If NASCAR fined and suspended every crew chief because only one belt was not dated, then every crew chief would be fined and suspended because not every belt is dated. Only three of the five belts that make up a safety restraint system have dated tags, and Simpson even makes a set of belts, harnesses and hardware that come in one box and has only one date tag. So how does NASCAR know the other belts or harnesses are up to spec? They look at the other belts or harnesses that are dated, and they judge the system as a whole. They didn't do that in Atlanta." "It's unfortunate, because I personally make sure that our team goes above and beyond the industry standard to ensure the safety of our cars," said Knaus. "Let me add that I'm glad that NASCAR leaves the choice of safety equipment to the teams. I want that responsibility, and I think NASCAR generally does a very good job policing the safety equipment in these cars. In this case, however, I feel like we are being made an example of." During his absence, the No. 92 Kodiak Racing Team will operate under a "crew chief-by-committee" structure for the Food City 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and the Harrah's 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Race-day-calls will be made by team owner, Mark Melling, car chief, Dean Johnson, and mechanic, Cory Stott.  3/21/01 - Harsh penalties were handed out today for rules infractions concerning the shoulder harness for two Winston Cup teams. The violations were discovered in the preliminary inspection prior to the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The penalties affect Chad Knaus, the crew chief of Stacy Compton's No. 92 Dodge Intrepid and also Matt Chambers, crew chief of Kurt Busch's No. 97 Ford Taurus. NASCAR officials announced they have penalized NASCAR Winston Cup Series crew chief Chad Knaus for rules violations (shoulder harness) under Section 12-4-Q in the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series rule book: "Any determination by NASCAR Officials that parts and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform... or have not been approved by NASCAR..."  Knaus, crew chief of the No. 92 NASCAR Winston Cup Series team, was fined $5,000 and suspended from the next two NASCAR Winston Cup Series races (suspension ends April 4, 2001). The nature of the infraction was that the "date of manufacture was not visible" on the shoulder harness. Also penalized for a similar infraction was crew chief Matt Chambers, the crew chief for Kurt Busch and the No. 97 NASCAR Winston Cup Series team, was fined $5,000 and suspended from the next two NASCAR Winston Cup Series races (suspension ends April 4, 2001).  While the date of manufacture was visible on the shoulder harness, the belts "were past the expiration" date, hence the fine and suspension.
Frazier Named Crew Chief For Georgia-Pacific Dodge  Bryant Frazier has been named crew chief for driver Buckshot Jones and the #44 Georgia-Pacific Dodge team. The announcement was made this morning by Petty Enterprises CEO Kyle Petty. "We're fortunate to have someone like Bryant to move into this position," Petty said. "He is a real team player who knows the ins and outs of this sport, in the shop and at the track. He and Buckshot are going to work very well together."  Frazier, 36, is no stranger to winning. The Alabama native began his racing career with driver Steve Grissom in NASCAR's All-Pro Series and Busch Grand National Series, winning national championships in each division. Since 1996, he has been working - and winning races - with drivers Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart in NASCAR Busch Grand National racing.  "I'm pretty excited with what they have here at Petty Enterprises, and with the chance to work more closely with Buckshot," Frazier said. "With his talents and the backing of the Pettys and Georgia-Pacific, we can go places with this team. "I've known Buckshot for two or three years now. We would park next to him a lot in the Busch garage last season, and we got the chance to know each other pretty well. He's a winner; so are these guys at Petty Enterprises and so are the folks at Georgia-Pacific," Frazier added.  Frazier has already begun his new duties. His first NASCAR Winston Cup race as crew chief will be this weekend's Food City 500 at Bristol, Tenn.
Elliott Sadler, # 21 Motorcraft Ford Taurus, said before Darlington that the reason he liked the South Carolina track is that patience is rewarded there. He echoed those thoughts when he talked about this week's Winston Cup race at Bristol. YOU SAID LAST WEEK THAT ONE OF THE REASONS YOU LIKE DARLINGTON IS THAT YOU ARE A PATIENT DRIVER. WHERE DOES PATIENCE GET YOU AT BRISTOL? "Bristol is such a tight racetrack that if you try to push and bully your way through there you are going to knock your front end off, or knock the steering out so you would be pretty much done for the day. So you have to use a lot of patience there also picking and choosing and finding the right holes and going with them. If you get too anxious, you're going to be in trouble." SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE MORE AGGRESSIVE AT BRISTOL? "More aggressive? No, I just think you might hold onto your area a little harder or whatever you've got. But as far as pushing and beating on whoever is in front of you, I don't believe in that. I think if you've got a fast car you've got to work on somebody to be able to pass them. Anybody can go up there and knock the heck out of somebody to pass them, but to be able work somebody like you are supposed to and be able to pass them and save your car then you'll have something to win with. You're not going to win at Bristol with your whole front end tore all to pieces." YOU HAD YOUR BEST FINISH AT BRISTOL LAST YEAR (SEVENTH IN THE 2000 NIGHT RACE). WHAT MAKES BRISTOL A GOOD TRACK FOR ELLIOTT SADLER? "I don't know. I just like it. It's just one of those places I went to when I first started and I adapted to it very well. Just always ran good there, there and Darlington. I always had good success running there. There are just some places a driver adapts to and some places they don't. Bristol is my favorite place to race at. I like going there. I like running good there. 
Some attendance facts to ponder - what do Indy/Champ car fans prefer?  Numbers based on approximate weekend attendance at first two venues for CART and the IRL.

First two CART races (Road Courses)

First two IRL races (Ovals)

Monterrey, Mexico 


Phoenix, AZ *40,000
Long Beach, CA   


Homestead, FL *25,000

Total Attendance


Total Attendance *65,000

* Estimated 

Why Honda does not want 'dumbed down' CART engines  Honda makes no bones about it, they use racing to train their engineers to be the best in the car design and manufacturing business.  There are many who believe they are. Honda feels pushing the design limits in racing with cutting edge engine designs makes them better at designing street-legal cars. We urge you to read our latest car test review on the Honda S2000.  The small little high revving 9,000 RPM 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine (not much smaller than a CART Champ Car 2.65 liter engine) in this car is an engineering marvel with piston speeds previously thought to be impossible for a street-legal car that can run for 200,000 miles and then some.  One has to wonder if Honda will stay in CART should the soon-to-be announced new CART engines not challenge their engineers.   Worse yet, will they lose their loyal fans?  Take our poll.
Gurtis named Darlington President  Andrew Gurtis, who has served as Vice President of Daytona International Speedway for the past four years, has been named to become President of one of motorsports original superspeedways - Darlington Raceway in Darlington, S.C. Gurtis replaces long-time president Jim Hunter, who has served as president of the International Speedway Corporation (ISC) facility since 1992. As president Gurtis will be responsible for overseeing all strategic and daily operations at "The Track Too Tough to Tame." He assumes his duties in late March.  Gurtis will report to Hunter, who will remain with ISC in his current position as vice president and continue his duties as regional director of the company's Atlantic Division, overseeing Darlington Raceway, North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C. and Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va.  "Like Jim Hunter, Andrew Gurtis is talented, experienced and respected within the motorsports industry," said Lesa Kennedy, Executive Vice President of ISC. "Darlington Raceway is very fortunate to have someone who will continue to address the challenges and opportunities at the facility. "Jim Hunter is one of the very best in this industry at what he does. We look forward to his continued leadership and strategic industry experience."
Dodge sales remain flat  According to Brock Yates, despite all the money Dodge is spending on NASCAR, and given the company is losing a lot of money, the fact that Intrepid sales remain flat must not sit too well with the bean counters at Daimler Chrysler.
TV shakeout  If rumors are to be believed that CBS/TNN/Speedvision might get the new CART TV contract, perhaps this is how the TV alliances will shake out.  Then perhaps we will see which TV broadcasters do a better job of promoting their series, without having to worry about playing favorites.



CBS/TNN/Speedvision - CART

We remember when NASCAR and ESPN started out on the bottom rung of the ratings and grew together.  Perhaps Speedvision, which is trying desperately to get into more households, will assume a similar role with CART and give them nightly 30-minute news shows dedicated 100% to CART, live qualifying and practice, etc.  And perhaps together with CBS and TNN, CART and Speedvision can grow the CART TV ratings and popularity of the series with aggressive marketing and co-branding.

Who do you believe?  Reports say that Mike Helton, of NASCAR, said that NASCAR has had an expert look at the Earnhardt autopsy photos and they are conducting an investigation.  
That was followed up by the Volusia County Coroner's office saying, nobody has looked at the autopsy photo's and if NASCAR had an expert in to their office, that was certainly news to them.  Hmmm.......
Qualifying Still On Friday At Martinsville Speedway  There have been plenty of changes at Martinsville Speedway for the 2001 season, like a new garage area, a wider pit road and more comfortable seats on the backstretch. But some things always stay the same at Martinsville and that's certainly the case with qualifying for the April 8 Virginia 500 Winston Cup race. While a couple of tracks have moved their qualifying to Saturday morning this season, time trials at Martinsville Speedway will remain the same - on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. "Friday afternoon qualifying is a long-standing tradition with many of our fans," said Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell. "We know that because our front-stretch stands are always packed for qualifying." As many as 20,000 fans normally turn out for Friday's Winston Cup activities at Martinsville which culminate with qualifying at 3 p.m. "It's a big deal for a lot of fans," Campbell said of Friday time trials. "A lot of local folks take the afternoon off to come out. Out-of-town folks get to town a day early for it. We want to keep the tradition alive." 

CART, F1 and NASCAR fans  Check out ECM Motorsport Illustration's quality, limited edition, fine art prints for NASCAR, CART and F1. We are not in the business to offer free endorsements for any products, but these prints are some of the best we have seen.
NASCAR drivers on Larry King Live  Tonight at 9PM and again at midnight, Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty, and Darrel Waltrip will be on Larry King Live. It looks like the recent tragedies in Nascar will be discussed.
Student newspaper wants to see Earnhardt photos  A student newspaper joined the dispute regarding Dale Earnhardt's autopsy photos, requesting that it be allowed to see them. The Independent Florida Alligator, which is run by University of Florida students but is not an official university publication, filed a motion in a Daytona Beach court Friday.
Food for thought - CART would very much like to have a successful race in Florida on their schedule.  Downtown Miami was a huge success, Homestead was not.  As we see it, CART has two possibilities in Florida 1) work with Ralph Sanchez to get a CART race back on the downtown streets of Miami, or; 2) Race at Sebring on the Sunday following the 12-hours of Sebring race.  Why Sebring?  The 12-hours of Sebring had an attendance of 168,000.  That's 168,000 people, many of which camp out at the track, that would stay over until Sunday to watch the Champ Cars (the 12-hour race ends at 11:00 PM Saturday night).  Sebring gets a great attendance for two reasons - tradition and Spring Break.  The race attracts many college students who go to Florida for their break.  We are told as many as 50% are college students in attendance, a perfect demographic for CART to capture.  CART has talked about doing a joint weekend with the ALMS.  We can't think of a better venue where success is already guaranteed.  What's needed to make it happen?  Parts of Sebring need to be repaved, it's much too bumpy for the Champ cars, and with its very wide runways/straights, that's an expensive proposition.  However, offset that with setup and breakdown cost of a street race in downtown Miami, and quickly the numbers work.  Which track would feature more passing?  Sebring of course.  Which would have more glitz?  Miami of course.  Either one would be a huge success.

Sebring - People everywhere, many of which camp out overnight.  Imagine what a great race weekend 
it would be to hold the 12-hours of Sebring and a Champ Car race on the same weekend!

Coleman To Present Commemorative Gold Lantern To Kevin Harvick  The Coleman Company, Inc., presented its commemorative Gold Lantern to first-year Nascar Winston Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick, acknowledging his first career Winston Cup win. The presentation took place inside the Darlington Raceway media center. The Coleman Gold lantern rewards Nascar Winston Cup teams and drivers involved with the Coleman family of Licensed products for their Extraordinary accomplishments throughout their careers. For Harvick, the Gold Lantern represents his thrilling victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway March 11. "It is an honor for us to present the Coleman Gold Lantern to Kevin." said Jim Cormier, senior director of consumer marketing at Coleman. "His win in Atlanta Exemplifies the winning determination of the whole Richard Childress Racing Team" PAST GOLD LANTERN RECIPIENTS:
Rusty Wallace- 50th career NASCAR Winston Cup Victory at Bristol Motor Speedway, March 2000
Dale Earnhardt, JR. 1st Career Nascar Winston Cup Victory at Texas Motor Speedway, April 2000
Jeff Gordon - 1st NASCAR Winston Cup Victory as a member of the Coleman family licensed drivers - Talladega Superspeedway, April 2000
Dale Earnhardt, Sr. 1st Nascar Winston Cup Victory as a member of the Coleman family of licensed drivers - Atlanta Motor Speedway, March 2000
Coleman is an official sponsor of Richard Childress Racing and the official outdoor gear of Daytona International Speedway, Lowes Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Michigan International Speedway, and Kansas Speedway. The Coleman Company manufactures and distributes a wide range of outdoor products for camping, outdoor recreation and leisure-time activities. Coleman products can be found at sporting goods stores, mass merchants, hardware home centers, and food and drug stores across the United States, Canada and more than 100 other countries around the world. -Karen Courcy
Gericom signs on with Minardi  European Minardi has signed Gericom AG as its newest sponsor and technical partner, marking the first-ever involvement in Formula One for the Austrian company. Gericom prides itself on developing products that incorporate the latest trends in technology and, as a result, has become known within the IT industry as an innovative market leader in the area of notebooks and web appliances. Reflecting that, the company focuses on special promotional activities, and Formula One, with its global exposure and computer-driven, high-technology outlook, provides an ideal platform for the company to showcase its products and expertise.  "It is difficult to imagine a better fit than Formula One and Gericom," comments Hermann Oberlehner, company founder and CEO, "Formula One is a high-profile, high-technology activity that represents the pinnacle of endeavor in motor racing. It demands clear minds, innovative thinking, and an understanding of how the latest developing technologies can be applied to gain an advantage over your rivals. We like to think these are exactly the same qualities that underpin Gericom's whole approach to business. "The company and its products are already well recognized in the market place, but we want them to be even better known. We believe that an involvement with the European Minardi team in the Formula One world championship will help us to accomplish just that. This is a young team with collective ambition, skill and a will to succeed against its established rivals. It is a situation with which we at Gericom identify closely, so we are very pleased to be involved." MC
Statement From Jim Smith, Owner, Ultra Motorsports "There apparently have been some 'reports' on the Internet this week stating Ultra Motorsports and the #7 NationsRent team had lost three crew members within in the past week. The Internet being what it is, we normally just go on with our lives knowing what the truth is. Since this particular rumor has begun to pick up some steam, I wanted to go ahead and cut it off. "We did have one crew member who found another job this week. People move around in this business and no one found it particularly unusual. Actually, there have been a total of three people, including this one gentleman, who have moved to other jobs since the first of the year. That, too, is certainly not unusual. In fact, I believe you would find Ultra Motorsports has some of the lowest employee turnover in NASCAR Winston Cup racing. "We are in this to be competitive and we're in this to win. Because we are a company of a few hundred employees, there is going to be change every once in a while. One person find another job doesn't change that desire and it doesn't change our goals. These kind of Internet rumors are not true but they are not going to distract us from our goal to win races." 
Historic Barber-CART Alliance Picks Up -The relationship between Skip Barber, Inc. and Championship Auto Racing Teams that began in January 2001 has with the first round of the Barber Dodge Pro Series gone into full swing. Now the Official Entry Level Professional Race Series of CART, the first Barber Dodge race under the CART sanction has now fully bridged the ladder from the grass roots of motorsport all the way to Champ Cars.   "This historic alliance with CART provides a phenomenal opportunity for these drivers to progress and for the karters today who will join them in the years to come to progress all the way to the FedEx Championship Series," said CART President Joseph Heitzler.  "Skip Barber is the obvious leader in his field and CART is proud to be associated with someone of his caliber." Although more than a hundred amateur racers have competed in 2001 in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Regional Championships, the Official Regional Amateur Championship of CART, today's Barber Dodge Pro Series race saw the professional portion of the ladder system activated.  In accordance with the CART rulebook everything was run to those specifications.  Overall the event went off without a hitch. "We've been extremely pleased with the smooth transition to the CART sanction and the highly professional level of officiating and competition that we have seen this week," said Timothy Mayer, Senior Vice President of Racing Operations for CART.  "We're excited about the rest of the season and working closely with the entire Barber Dodge Pro Series organization and its drivers." The drivers and staff of the Barber Dodge Pro Series are subject not only to the CART rulebook, but will henceforth be availed of the benefits of CART which include CART Medical Support and the CART Ministries at all events. The next event for the Barber Dodge Pro Series will take place at Phoenix International Raceway on April 28 for the second round of the 2001 season.
Rockingham Construction update (February 18th - photos by Runmedia)

The impressive Rockingham Building dominates the circuit complex

Looking toward the Start Finish Complex

The surfacing of the Road Course Complex now clear

Barber-Dodge: Sperafico takes first win  It was a day of firsts at Sebring International Raceway. Alex Sperafico of Toledo Parana, Brazil finished off a perfect weekend by winning Round 1 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series. Sperafico took the provisional pole on Thursday and followed up on Friday by keeping it and setting a qualifying record in the process. The win means that he walks away with a perfect 21 points and his first career win. The victory also makes Sperafico the first to win a Barber Dodge Pro Series race under the CART banner since the Pro Series became the Official Entry Level Professional Race Series of CART. Sperafico led Barber-CART Rookie of the Year Ryan Hunter-Reay and Frenchman Nicolas Rondet to the checkered flag. Full Story
Bodine going to the dogs  Ralston Purina Company announced today that the Purina Dog chow brand dog food will be an associate sponsor on the No. 66 Route 66/Kmart for Taurus, driven by Todd Bodine. Dog Chow along with the Purina flagship red and white checkerboard logo will be displayed on the rear quarter panel of the car. this sponsorship allows Purina Purina to reach new audiences, while expanding business opportunities to the racing community. "Purina Dog Chow is excited about this new relationship with Kmart and Haas Carter Motor" says Jennifer Condren, a spokesperson for Purina. " this relationship was a Natural fit for all parties"
Max Mosley upset with speed increase in F1  Speaking out in Malaysia again this weekend, FIA Max Mosley is quite upset that F1 speeds have risen dramatically since last year, even though F1 implemented new aerodynamic rules to slow the cars down.  Mosley says he is ‘intensely irritated’ that the aerodynamic changes implemented in 2001 to counter the effects of a tire war have proved ineffectual. No Max, they were not ineffectual, didn't anyone tell you that a tire war would cause speeds to go through the roof.  You should have known that before you allowed a tire war to occur.  We hear Michelin might be eyeing the CART series next, to do battle in the American market against Firestone, where they sell a lot of tires.  Will we see lap times in CART drop 3 to 4 seconds per lap each year like we have in F1?  Probably.  Then CART will be forced to implement significant rules changes to slow the cars, costing the teams millions of dollars for new cars, or significantly modified engines. MC
HANS Device saves Elton Sawyer's life  During the recent Atlanta race Elton Sawyer hit the wall so hard he broke the HANS Device's shoulder pieces.  "It was the hardest hit I ever had." he said, "but it saved me.  It's designed to break under 1300 pounds of pressure so it does not break your collarbones.  If I hadn't been wearing it, my head would have been wearing the steering wheel.  It probably saved me from serious injury."  Privately, Sawyer told colleagues it saved his life.
NASCAR calling on its Goobers to cover up Earnhardt death?  Ben Blake of Speedvision wrote an interesting article about the fiasco surrounding the death of Dale Earnhardt.  While he does not make any friends with the NASCAR fans by calling them Goobers willing to believe anything NASCAR feeds them, he does point out one very important thing - the sooner we all know the truth, the sooner changes can be made so it won't happen again.
Bob Wollek killed on bicycle  Officials of the American Le Mans Series have just announced that 57-year-old veteran sports car racer Bob Wollek was struck and killed this afternoon while riding his bicycle on a highway near Sebring International Raceway. He was at Sebring to compete in the 12 Hours of Sebring.  In their brief statement, ALMS officials said that an investigation was underway and no further statement would be made this weekend.
CART had better act fast on China  UPDATE We did some more research on this track.  The 2.68-mile Zhuhai International Circuit lies in Jinding Town of Zhuhai city. Zhuhai International Circuit (ZIC) is an 888-acre integrated resort development located in Zhuhai, China, a one hour ferry ride from Hong Kong and a thirty minute drive from Macau. This planned community has outstanding qualities, with its two major features being the private Lakewood Golf Club with 36 holes of championship golf and the Zhuhai International Racing Circuit, the first Formula One ready race circuit in China. Complementing ZIC are custom home sites, golf villas, fairway homes and serviced and family apartments. Additionally, two hotels make ZIC the first resort destination of international standards to be established in Southern China. Hong Kong is said to be competing with the southern Chinese coastal city of Zhuhai to win Disney's second Asian theme park after Tokyo.  Zhuhai International Circuit was put in use on October 31, 1996.  The first endurance race at this track drew 100,000 people.  The attendance doubled to 200,000 the 2nd year.  If a BPR Endurance race can draw 200,000 on race day, we see no reason why CART would not get 300,000 on race day.  The question CART has to ask itself is - does it prefer to race in front of 30,000 fans at say Milwaukee, or 300,000 fans in China?  We think the answer is obvious.

(L to R) Well lit garages.  Note the massive main grandstand.  There is seating for 100,000 and a total capacity of over 200,000 spectators.  Note the raised victory podium centered midway down pit road which contains F-1 style garages.  As can be seen from these photos, a rather impressive facility.

When it was thought that ZIC would get a F1 race in 1998 a bidding war between tobacco giants Philip Morris and British American Tobacco (BAT) erupted in anticipation of China hosting a round of the Formula One Championship which organizers there were saying could be realized within three years. . . Joe Lim, director of the Zhuhai International Circuit (ZIC), said . . . "China is a big market and the tobacco firms will be interested. You will need big money to sponsor such an event. If there are less tobacco sponsorship restrictions, the more likely it is we can host it. We will try our best." It is believed that China has re-drafted its tobacco legislation to clear the way for cigarette manufacturers who invest more than US $1 million in an event to advertise their wares at the venue.  Currently Philip Morris pays $1 million annually to sponsor the Zhuhai International Car Race in China.

Tracks like the one in Zhuhaï, China were built to F1 standards but never got a F1 race.  Click to see large crowds and it was just a BPR GT race.

3/16/01 - Yesterday, FIA President Max Mosley said that he would like to have more races in a year and less testing so that F1 could go to places such as China, India and the Middle East. He said: "We keep pushing for more racing and less testing but you can never get the teams to agree and you can't do much without the teams agreeing. If they were rational, of course, they would change because it would be the same for everybody and there would be a bigger income if they raced more in public."  As CART is finding out, they can cut testing and race more.  The Zhuhaï track built in China never got a F1 race.  As the pictures to the right indicate, does CART realize how many people would attend a Champ Car race at the state-of-the-art track in Zhuhaï, China?  200,000?  300,000?  400,000?  We suspect it would be that big given the size crowd that shows up for the 4-hour endurance race each year.  China is becoming an economic powerhouse.  Will CART be reactive or proactive in China?  Slowly many of CART's sponsors are making inroads into the potentially lucrative China market.  We ask, therefore, when will CART race in China?  The majority of CART's future growth will be outside the USA borders (witness their success in Mexico, Canada, Australia, etc.), not inside.  F1 can't satisfy the demand of all the countries that want a top-level race, even if they do cut testing like CART did. With careful planning, Australia, China and Japan can be a back-to-back-to-back 3-week Pacific Rim swing.  MC 

White Knight To some he might seem like a knight in shining armor, arriving just in time to save the castle from anarchy. But this "white knight" doesn't ride a horse, but instead rides the 650 horses tucked under the hood of his Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Kevin Harvick's entrance into the NASCAR Winston Cup ranks has been sudden and unexpected, and after only three races he is leading the Raybestos Rookie Of The Year point standings, and is also in 11th place in the Winston Cup points chase. Kevin Harvick only led 18 laps last Sunday at Atlanta, but what a wild ride it was. Besting Jeff Gordon at the line by .006 seconds, it was the closet margin of victory since Dale Earnhardt beat Ernie Irvan by a scant .005 seconds to the checkered flag at Talladega in July 1993. Harvick won in just his Winston Cup start, making him just the third driver in the history of NASCAR to do so, he joins Bob Flock (1949), Johnny Mantz (1950), Bill Norton (1951), and Dan Gurney (1963). Currently sitting in 11th place in Winston Cup points; Harvick is also leading the Raybestos Rookie Of The Year point's race. In the three events he has run, Harvick has averaged better than a top ten finish (7.66 position) and has also been the top finishing rookie at those events. Harvick is currently leading by seven points (46-39) over Ron Horn day entering this weekend's Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway. Mike Marue
Deal reached on Earnhardt photos  Lawyers for Dale Earnhardt's widow and the Orlando Sentinel agreed Friday to allow an independent expert to see the autopsy photos of the racing great before they're permanently sealed.  Teresa Earnhardt leaves the room in which she spent most of Thursday in mediation with attorneys of The Orlando Sentinel.  Court-appointed mediator John Upchurch will choose the medical expert who will view the photos. Representatives of the Sentinel will be allowed to ask the expert three specific questions concerning Earnhardt's head injuries and cause of death. The photos will then be sealed. The agreement came after 18 hours of negotiations over two days.  "We never said we wanted copies of these," said Sentinel attorney David Bralow. "We wanted to decide what was the cause of Mr. Earnhardt's death. We have made these concessions in respect to the Earnhardts."
Hornish leads first day practice in Phoenix
Driver Car No./Sponsor/Chassis/Engine Time/Speed MPH
1) Sam Hornish Jr.  No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Aurora  20.7551/173.451 
2) Eliseo Salazar  No. 14 Harrah’s/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora  20.8909/172.324
3) Stan Wattles  No. 92 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Aurora  20.9074/172.188
4) Eddie Cheever Jr.  No. 51 Excite@Home Dallara/Infiniti  20.9164/172.114
5) Buddy Lazier  No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light Dallara/Aurora  20.9231/172.059
6) Billy Boat  No. 98 CURB Records/Beck Dallara/Aurora  20.9277/172.021
7) Greg Ray  No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Aurora  20.9626/171.734
8) Sarah Fisher  No. 15 Walker Racing Dallara/Aurora  20.9683/171.688
9) Helio Castroneves  No. 68 Penske Auto Centers Dallara/Aurora  21.0079/171.364
10) Jeret Schroeder  No. 9 Summit Packaging/PDM Dallara/Aurora  21.1714/170.041
11) Jeff Ward  No. 35 Heritage Motorsports GForce/Aurora  21.2220/169.635
12) Robby McGehee  No. 10 Olympus/Cahill Racing Dallara/Aurora  21.2352/169.530
13) Scott Sharp  No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Aurora  21.2599/169.333
14) Buzz Calkins  No. 12 Bradley Food Marts Dallara/Aurora  21.3248/168.818
15) Felipe Giaffone  No. 21 Hollywood GForce/Aurora  21.3336/168.748
16) Airton Dare  No. 88 1-800-BAR NONE GForce/Aurora  21.3416/168.865
17) Robbie Buhl  No. 24 Team Purex GForce/Infiniti  21.3417/168.684
18) Stephan Gregoire  No. 7 Tokheim/Nasa Guides Dallara/Aurora  21.4082/168.160
19) Mark Dismore  No. 28 Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Aurora  21.4329/167.966 
20) Gil de Ferran  No. 66 Penske Auto Centers Dallara/Aurora  21.4572/167.776
21) Davey Hamilton  No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Aurora  21.8959/164.414
22) Tyce Carlson  No. 6 Tri-Star Motorsports Dallara/Aurora  21.8988/164.393
23) Shigeaki Hattori  No. 55 EPSON Dallara/Aurora  21.9149/164.272
24) Al Unser Jr.  No. 3 Starz Super Pak/Galles GForce/Aurora  21.9532/163.985
25) Casey Mears  No. 31 GForce/Aurora  22.1916/162.224
26) Brandon Erwin  No. 30 GForce/Aurora  22.3175/161.308
27) Didier Andre  No. 32 Galles Racing GForce/Aurora  22.9396/156.934 
Scott Pruett to replace Chris Kneifel  After gaining his release from Winston Cup team owner Cal Wells, Scott Pruett has signed on to replace Chris Kneifel on the factory-backed Corvette C5-R team of Pratt & Miller. Kneifel, appointed the new chief steward of Championship Auto Racing Teams, will drive at Sebring, Fla., in the 12-hour race on Saturday, and Pruett will join the team as it prepares for the Le Mans 24-hour. MC 
Bob Sprow leaves Patrick Racing  Effective March 13th, Bob Sprow( Team Coordinator) for Patrick Racing has left the team to pursue other opportunities in the motor sports field.  MC 
Recommended Mexico track mods  Before the race weekend in Mexico we put up an image recommending CART insist on changes to the Mexico track next year to open up some passing zones.  However, after hearing from the drivers during the weekend, who said the track has some passing zones and was technically challenging, we removed the diagram, assuming they knew best. The event was fantastic in every other way and we did not want to appear like we were throwing darts.   Unfortunately, our prediction came true, the race was rather processional, but the drivers are still saying that passing will be possible if they can get more rubber down off line and get the track cleaner.  Unfortunately, the track is located in a very arid dusty environment so every year it's going to be dirty when CART arrives.  Given that, we stick by our original recommendations as shown in the diagram to the right.  The Mexico organizers should remove the turn 2-3 chicane, and the turn 6-7 chicane.  Removing the turn 2-3 chicane will give the cars a fast run down to what is now turn 4.  The tight turn 4 will require heavy braking and this should be a good passing zone.  By removing the turn 6-7 chicane, that entire turn will become a medium speed sweeper.  The cars will then carry more speed down to what is now turn 8.  This will require heavier braking, and again, another passing zone should open up. The average qualifying speed was just over 100 mph, and this with Firestones softest rubber.  That tells us the existing track is too tight, and getting the average speeds up in the 110-115 mph range should be a target. While the existing layout puts a premium on driver ability and conditioning, as we witnessed several drivers totally spent after Sunday's race, we feel these changes will make Monterrey an even better venue for the fans than it already is.  The name of the game is excitement.  Passing is excitement.  Processions are not. MC 

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