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DATE News (chronologically 4/24/01 to 5/1/01)
5/1/01 Tracy and Franchitti talk about Nazareth Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti share a common goal heading into the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix on May 6: to give Team KOOL Green its first CART FedEx Championship Series victory at Nazareth Speedway. PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD: "I've probably run more miles at Nazareth than any other track on the CART schedule, and I've had a lot of good results there (two wins - '97, ‘94, two poles - '97, ‘96). It would be great to get Team KOOL Green's first win at Nazareth and at the same time win the last CART race there. We would score some big points and it would give us tremendous momentum heading into the race in Japan. We've got these three ovals in a row (Milwaukee follows Japan) and it's important to do well at each of them if you're going to contend for the championship." DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD: "Nazareth is a very unique oval that can be fun to drive, especially when the car is working well. But on race day, with 28 or so other cars out there, it's like rush hour on the L.A. Freeway at 180 mph! You've really got to anticipate traffic and stay on top of what's happening ahead of and behind you. There is absolutely no room to relax and concentration is critical. Paul and I would both like to give Team KOOL Green a win at Nazareth…one of our famous 1-2 finishes would be even better, with me out in front, of course!" 
NASCAR shows huge increase in ratings  While Sunday's NAPA 500 at the California Speedway marked the start of the second-quarter of the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup season, first-quarter television ratings averaged a 6.8 and are up 39% compared season-to-date with last season. The week-by-week household share is averaging a 17, a 31% increase, compared to the same time last season. Television ratings numbers are based on information and numbers provided by Nielsen Media Research. The schedule has included an unprecedented nine consecutive broadcast network appearances on first-year rightsholder FOX Sports, comparatively last year's schedule included five events on two different broadcast networks and four on cable among two different rightsholders. Each race in the first quarter of the season gained significant year-to-year ratings and significantly more household reach with each event having been on broadcast network television. FOX Sports' NASCAR Winston Cup Series coverage is the only broadcast sports package that is enjoying year-to-year growth. Through Talladega, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series total viewer comparison in millions is 191.7 (2001) vs. 103.9 (2000), an 85% increase in viewership season-to-date.
5/1/01 Americans in Europe - Edwards puts in good showing at Donnington  American Paul Edwards experienced highs and lows in the Green Flag British Formula 3 Championship double-header at Donington Park this weekend. Following a solid run to fifth in the first race, the 22-year-old Californian fought his way from 15th to seventh in the second race only to have fuel pump problems drop him down the order late in the race.  Starting sixth in race one, Edwards emerged in fifth from a hectic scramble at the green flag. With Edwards' Alan Docking Racing team still developing a dry set up to match its strong wet weather package, Edwards was unable to mount an attack on fourth place man Derek Hayes' Manor Motorsport-run entry. Race two was a rather more dramatic affair. Edwards' Doug Mockett-sponsored machine battled up the order from 15th on the grid to seventh by the closing laps. "I made some good passes and was feeling relieved to have gotten some points out of starting 15th," Edwards said. "Then three laps from the end, the engine died when the fuel pump cut out. I moved out of harm's way and switched on the back-up pump, but I lost six places in the process. I regained a couple of those, but not enough to get back into the top ten and the points." With a quarter of the races run, Edwards is looking forward to the rest of the season. "It's getting tough now. Carlin, Jaguar, and Manor are better funded than we are and do more testing, but we're pulling out all the stops at ADR to make the most of what we've got and stay with them. My teammate's won a race and I'm hoping it's my turn next." Edwards' first race result kept him eighth in the points standings after six races, within striking distance of the series leaders. Compatriots Jeffrey Jones and Alex Gurney opened their F3 points accounts at Donington, scoring a sixth and a ninth respectively. Round four takes place next weekend at the scenic Oulton Park circuit. Japan's Takuma Sato and German racer Andre Lotterer made it five different winners in six races by taking a victory apiece in rounds five and six at Donington Park.   Lotterer finished 2nd in the race Sato won, so he was the overall winner for the weekend.  Lotterer is still looking at running in CART in the future.
Doing something NASCAR probably wouldn't, CART was willing to take the heat  While NASCAR is being criticized almost daily for allowing four drivers to die of the same injury yet still taking no mandatory action to improve safety, CART is to be commended to taking a stand and doing what's right on a phenomenon that had never happened and was, therefore, unforeseen.  To compare just how much more proactive CART is toward safety than NASCAR - CART mandates the HANS Device on ovals, CART has crumple zones built into their cars (front, side and rear), CART has a highly professional medical and safety staff that travels to every race, and CART was willing to take all the ridicule right on the chin for canceling a race and most likely losing millions of dollars. They do this in the name of safety for its drivers, and anyone who criticizes CART for taking the action they did, is way off base.  Bravo CART for doing the right thing and avoiding another possible Dale Earnhardt travesty.  Would NASCAR ever cancel a race for the drivers safety?  Witness Talladega last weekend.  The drivers all came out alive, but let's just say they dodged another real big bullet. While NASCAR drivers threaten boycotts, they never have the guts to carry them through against NASCAR's wishes.  It took CART and its drivers more guts to withstand the ridicule they are now getting than to have gone out there and put on a show and possibly having a driver killed.  Sometimes there is more to human life than making money. Thank you CART. Mark C.
4/30/01 Explanation of G-force threshold  After Texas some people have inquired as to why the IRL drivers were OK at 220+ MPH yet the CART drivers were experiencing problems at 230+ MPH. They asked, could there be that much of a change in 10 to 15 MPH?  The answer is yes, and here is why.  With vertical g-loading the blood is pushed from the head down into the lower extremities.  In fact, the only thing that holds blood in your head against the earth's gravity is your blood pressure.  Since every driver/human has about the same blood pressure (for all intents and purposes), they all begin to experience the effects at around the same loading, the g-forces eventually winning out over the heart pressure pump. The extra g-force loading in a champ car vs. an IRL car was just enough to overcome the human heart/pump and prevent enough blood from reaching the head.  In fact, if a driver has high blood pressure, in theory they should be able to withstand the g-forces a little bit better.  Going one step further, a driver who is scared out of his wits and has a VERY high heart rate and hence slightly higher blood pressure, might not feel the effects as much as a driver who is calm, cool and collected. If the CART drivers were to wear fighter pilot pressurized g-suits that squeeze the lower extremities and help keep the blood up in the head, they probably would have been fine. First the HANS Device, next will be g-suits......NOT!  Mark C.
4/30/01 CART and TMS exploring options CART and Texas Motor Speedway officials, including speedway general manager Eddie Gossage and CART president and CEO Joe Heitzler, continue to discuss possible options regarding the postponed April 29 CART FedEx Championship Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.  CART officials made the announcement to postpone the Sunday event prior to the start of the Firestone Firehawk 600 presented by Pioneer citing concerns for driver safety. Drivers were reportedly experiencing dizziness and lightheadedness as a result of the high G-force loads on the 24-degree banking of the track. CART exhausted every available option to address the drivers' safety concerns, but were unable to find a suitable and safe solution to the problem in time for Sunday's event.  "We want to do what is right for our fans," said Gossage. "At this time, we have not decided exactly what that might be, but we are continuing to sort it all out. We want to have something worked out as quickly as possible so our fans will know what their options are." "Our highest priority is to recognize the inconvenience to the fans of Texas Motor Speedway and CART," said Heitzler. "We are working in every way possible with the speedway to satisfy the fans."  In the meantime, fans should hold onto their race tickets until further information becomes available. 
Wheel goes into stands again. Are high-banks too dangerous for CART and the IRL? UPDATE The IRL is now looking into adding a 3rd Wheel Tether to each wheel assembly to reduce the chances of another wheel flying into the stands. George Carter and I talked today about adding some sort of pressure relief valve to the wheels that would immediately deflate the tires upon heavy impact. This way, instead of the loose tires bouncing like a basketball into the grandstands when hit by another car,  it would be like bouncing a deflated ball.  As Mr. Carter pointed out, other parts of the car don't fly into the grandstands, it's just the inflated tires which take off like a rocket ship.  Earlier today -  CART had to postpone its race at Texas Motor Speedway this past weekend because the g-forces were so high the drivers were experiencing dizziness, lightheadedness and tunnel vision - symptoms experienced by jet fighter pilots.  However, that may be minor compared to what might have happened at the IRL in Atlanta.  If you taped the IRL race, check the wreck carefully on slow motion.  One car's rear tire took off like a rocket and landed in the TOP ROWS of an empty section of the grandstand. It's a good thing the IRL had very little attendance (the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported 19,000) or a bunch of spectators would have been killed.  It would have been the second time spectators were killed at a Bruton Smith owned facility during an IRL race.  Spectators were killed two years ago at Charlotte.  The race was since cancelled. A similar fate befell CART at Michigan Speedway.  Wheel tethers have helped, but have not eliminated the problem. If more spectators were killed in Atlanta last Saturday night, it most likely would have meant the end to open wheel racing on high-speed ovals; the insurance companies would stop it. Mario Andretti, a man who has seen it all and raced and won on every type of circuit imaginable, has said on numerous occasions that Indy cars are too dangerous to race on high-banked ovals.  Perhaps he is right.  And that is really quite unfortunate as the Texas facility we were at this weekend was magnificent. MC
Tire blamed in Alboreto accident  The crash that killed Italian racing driver Michele Alboreto was caused by a damaged tire, the Audi car company said Monday. Alboreto was killed Wednesday on a high-speed straightaway of the EuroSpeedway circuit at Lausitz. The 44-year-old driver was behind the wheel of an Audi R8 he was testing for this summer's Le Mans 24-hour race. "Our investigation so far has determined that a sharp object penetrated the left rear tire, leading to a gradual loss of pressure," said Audi, quoting an expert from a German inspection group. Prosecutor Petra Hertwig said Monday there were no grounds for criminal charges. "There are no technical faults in the car," she said. "A mistake by the driver or the aerodynamic construction of the car did not cause the crash." AP
Driven doing well at the box office  UPDATE From Inside Magazine ( BOX-OFFICE REPORT: Stallone's on Top and Beatty's a Flop on a Down Weekend Ticket sales drop 19.7 percent from the year-ago period. Driven grabs $13.1 million for Warner and Franchise, while New Line's Town & Country does a disastrous $3.1 million.   These were the top 12 films at the motion picture box office for the weekend of April 27 - 29, according to estimates from Exhibitor Relations Co.:1. Driven (Warner) $13.1 million.2. Bridget Jones's Diary (Miramax) $7.5 million.3. Spy Kids (Miramax/Dimension) $5.7 million.4. Along Came a Spaider 
(Paramount) $5.7 million.5. Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (Paramount) $4.7 million.6. Blow (New Line) $3.3 million.7. Town & Country $3.1 million.8. The Forsaken (Sony) $3.0 million.9. Joe Dirt (Sony) $2.7 million.10. Freddy Got Fingered (Fox) $2.5 million.11. Kingdom Come (Fox Searchlight) $2.0 million.12. One Night at McCool's (USA Films) $2.0 million.The top 12 films had total ticket sales of $55.2 million, down 19.7 percent from $67.5 million in the year-ago period, Exhibitor Relations said  4/28/01 - Saturday morning estimates for "Driven" indicate that the film is dominating the other movies that opened on Friday 4/27. "Driven" grossed an estimated $4,500,000 on Friday night and the projection as of now is for a $13,000,000 to $15,000,000 gross for the full weekend. "Driven" looks to be Sylvester Stallone's first #1 grossing film since "Copland" debuted with $13.51M in August of 1997. Recent sports-themed movies "The Whole Nine Yards" and "Any Given Sunday" had opening-weekend grosses of $13.73M and $13.58M respectively. "Days of Thunder" opened with $15.49M and Rocky 5 opened with $14.07M. 
4/29/01 Drivers/owners have closed door meeting, race cancellation averted?  7th UPDATE Race is postponed, see separate story.  6th UPDATE A press conference has been called for noon. 5th UPDATE Ganassi and others are loading their equipment into the transporters.  This race may now be cancelled.  4th UPDATE Michael Andretti came out of the meeting and changed into his drivers suit and went back into the meeting.  3rd UPDATE One team owner walked out of the meeting and told us they would run, but an impromptu press conference has been called, so stay tuned.  2nd Update -  It's now 10:10 AM and this mornings practice has been delayed.  The drivers are still behind closed doors and there seems to be a problem.  We assume the drivers are still not happy. We understand there are two major concerns, the drivers getting dizzy and possible wheel bearing or other component failure under the high loadings of 5+ G's in the banking.  Stay tuned. Earlier today Long meetings last night with all three engine manufacturers, team owns and drivers have resulted in a proposed solution to slow the cars for today's race.  As a result, Ford/Cosworth, Honda, Toyota and Phoenix (Ilmor) agreed to reduce the turbocharger boost by one inch (to 36 inches absolute), to reduce power, and speed.  On the aero side, a 1.5–inch wickerbill will be added to the Handford rear wing. These changes will be tried today at 10:00 AM for 15 minutes. That will be followed by a half–hour of discussion, during which any additional or alternate changes deemed necessary will be decided upon. If there are no changes, the drivers will then be sent out for a final 15 minutes of practice and testing, and the race will be run as scheduled. If more changes are needed the drivers will be given more time, as much as necessary to get the cars reasonably happy. The engine folks have to change their engine management software at the race track, rather than on the dyno.  Hopefully this will not lead to a rash of engine failures. The teams will have to also balance the cars because of the Handford Device changes.  It was either this or the race was going to be cancelled.  The drivers were that upset.  Hopefully now that all the drivers are sufficiently scared, they will take care of each other out there today...much like Talladega last night.  4/28/01 - We understand there was a closed door meeting today at Texas after qualifying between the drivers and the owners.  While we don't have first hand knowledge of what was said, we understand the drivers basically laid it on the line with the owners and said the Champ cars are too fast and, therefore, too dangerous for the Texas track.  They didn't go so far as to boycott, but we hear the atmosphere was a bit tense. 
Earnhardt's seatbelts were intact Dale Earnhardt's seat belts did not break during his crash at the Daytona 500 according to one of the first rescue workers on the scene.  Tommy Propst said he found Earnhardt strapped into his seat when he arrived at the car.  In fact, he was strapped in so tight he had to tug hard several times to get then undone.  While he was tugging, another worker said, "wait I'll get a knife and cut them."  This of course explains why the left lap belt was found severed, the other rescue worker had cut it.  Earnhardt died from a Basilar Skull Fracture and likely would still be with us today if he was wearing the HANS Device or if Cup cars had a properly designed Crumple Zone in their cars.  It's time NASCAR admit what happened so everyone can make changes to make the cars safer, rather than trying to be silent.
4/29/01 Mario speaks out again on CART/IRL situation  Mario Andretti was quoted in this mornings Texas Star Telegram that he sees the IRL and CART staying separate.  "That's what I see, and that's unfortunate," said Mario.  "I wish I could see some reasoning that would lead us to believe that maybe it's not hopeless.  That part is too bad."  He said his opinion of the IRL has not changed after 5 years.  "Why would I change my stance when the IRL, five years later or whatever, has not really progressed.  "The IRL is does not draw and still has not established itself.  If it wouldn't have been for the Indy 500, that series would have gone under in 2 years.  But by continuing, its taken the Indy 500 down with it.  And nobody can argue with me.  I was there last year on carburetion day and there's nothing going on by comparison of what it used to be before CART left."  "To me, it's a travesty.  The travesty is that an American institution has been diminished because of the fact that you don't have the best available drivers there.  It's unfair to all the drivers.  And I will not change my mind and I will continue to say what I think, because we need to bring it back on track.  Tony George is saying, 'well OK, we are both going in different directions.'  Fine.  How long does it take to see that you've lost and it's time to turn it around."  His son Michael does not totally agree with his father.  He thinks the IRL will continue to get stronger, though he is not happy that there are two series.  Michael has accepted the fact there will be two series, and does agree with the IRL on one matter - they have the right HP for the big ovals.
More on CART's move to Las Vegas
Tophie Stewart led the Formula Dodge  National Championship race only once today and that was good enough to take  the season opening win over a determined Grant Maiman and Julio Campos.  Stewart used a last lap run out of turn-17 to set up Maiman for an inside  pass in turn-1 en route to a season opening victory at Sebring International  Raceway. The majority of racing on the 3.61 road course featured an epic  battle between Maiman and Campos, both sharing the lead for 10 of the 11-lap  race.  "Going into turn-1 at the start, everybody went wide and I found myself in  P2. I couldn't believe I was up there," said a surprised Maiman. "I figured  I would drop back shortly."  He never did. The freshman maintained second position for the first two laps  before an aggressive pass of Campos for the lead. Meanwhile, Stewart settled  into third, often scrapping with Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winner A.J.  Allmendinger. Landon Yee was also in the mix, pressing hard to uproot  Allmendinger. Remarkably, this is Allmendinger's first car race having come  to the series as a championship-winning karter.  Stewart, out of California, was determined to stay near front and seemed  extremely poised, waiting for the right opportunity to challenge.  "I knew I wasn't the fastest throughout the race. I just tried to hold on to  their tails and not let anyone get away. I was also checking my mirrors a  lot to make sure the guys behind me didn't get into the race. I tried to  drive a smart race and keep equal distance between cars."  Nearing the end of the race, Stewart prepared to make his move. With only  Maiman between him and a season opening victory, Stewart focused on setting  him up.  "Coming down the second to last lap, I think I could've passed him [Maiman]  going into turn-1, but I wanted to hold on till the last lap because I knew  I was faster between some of the intervals."  Stewart's exit speed in turn-17 was phenomenal.  "I knew I had a lot of momentum going. The draft was really sucking me up  real quick. I went to the inside and I think I surprised him. I was able to  get a good lead out of it. Luckily, he was dicing w/ Campos real hard and I  was able to pull away. From there I just tried to avoid mistakes the rest of  the lap. I knew if I just drove a good lap, I could probably hold them off.  "  Maiman was pleased with his podium finish and sees the result as a momentum  generator heading into tomorrow's Round 2 action.  "It's a huge confidence builder," said the Wisconsin racer. "I had no idea  I'd be running up front. I would have been happy with a top-10 result. My  game plan going in was to have fun and not make any mistakes."  Similarly, Stewart hopes his win is a harbinger of the 13 round season.  "It's a great way to start the season," said the winner. "We'll see how it  goes. I hope I can continue. I'm starting from 13th so I'm looking to stay  out of trouble and come to the front quick."
4/28/01 Gugelmin accident explained better  It seems that Gugelmin's right foot got stuck between the brake and throttle pedal after yesterday's first impact with the wall and the throttle was wide open as he pirouetted down the back straight, finally hitting the turn 3 wall at 116 G's. 
Gossage talks about Texas attendance  "The best thing about Texas Motor Speedway," says Eddie Gossage general manager of TMS, "is that it is huge. The worst thing about Texas Motor Speedway is that it is huge. "We're expecting an attendance of between 50 and 60,000 on Sunday. That would be a good crowd at Milwaukee and some other tracks, but here it will look like the place is empty." 
Mauricio Gugelmin has withdrawn from Texas race  Too sore from his crash yesterday, Mauricio Gugelmin has withdrawn from tomorrow's Firestone Firehawk 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. 
IRL to start its version of Indy Lights - Maybe! 3rd UPDATE A good source writes to say   that "Tony George does in fact own the name Indy Lights and licenses it to the American Racing Series...which is wholly owned by CART.  This is the reason that CART integrated the CART logo into the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship logo, but were not granted permission by George to incorporate it into the Indy Lights name and/or logo....again, because Tony George owns it. If the Indy Lights name is no longer used, it defers to George. However, I hear 2nd hand from a very senior IRL/IMS marketing official about 2 months ago, he said that plans were under way to create an IRL development series, whether Indy Lights did or did not continue. Either way, it would not be called Indy Lights. It will most likely be the Indy Racing INSERT SPONSOR NAME HERE Series, similar to the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. I do not foresee CART working with IMS on Tony's new series." However we have since learned that CART is going to make every effort to work a deal for Lights with the IRL, but if Tony George ultimately says no, CART has every intention of continuing Indy Lights.  Earlier today - Let's not forget that Tony George Licenses the name 'Indy Lights' to CART.  We don't know the details of that agreement, but will try to find out. Tony could choose to someday use that name for a support series he would run.  4/28/01 - Tony George made it official today, that the IRL was just putting out feelers to see if there would be enough interest in a support series to warrant it.  We feel that CART and the IRL should share the Indy Lights series as there is not enough demand for two such series.  Earlier today Although there have been reports circulating that the IRL will start their own support series, we are hearing that is not the case.  Stay tuned while we try to track down what's really going on.  CART has yet to announce their new Indy Lights specs and perhaps it was delayed because of those negotiations.  The Indy Lights series is already hurting for teams, and an announcement such as this will not help matters.  Our sources say that CART and the IRL will try to continue to work together with Indy Lights.
Cristiano da Matta crashes in morning practice  Cristiano da Matta crashed coming out of the 2nd turn and spun down to the 3rd turn and then up into the outside wall in this mornings practice.  He was not injured. 
Big Mo to sit out Texas  We checked with the PacWest Team and they confirmed today that Mauricio Gugelmin is sore but OK.  He has decided not to run the race this weekend in Texas and there is no indication the team will run someone else in his car. 
Lights: Falkner wins Lights pole  In his oval track racing debut, rookie Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) won the pole Friday for Saturday's  inaugural Dayton Indy Lights Championship race at Texas Motor Speedway. The  race is Faulkner's first on an oval in any auto racing category and comes in  just his third race in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship.  The reigning European Formula Palmer Audi champion, Faulkner established a  track record average speed of 183.593 mph (29.060 seconds) in the first  appearance of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship at the high-speed Texas  track. He will share the front row with his Dorricott Racing teammate and  Dayton Indy Lights Championship co-leader Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) who  clocked in at an average speed of 183.55 mph (29.066 seconds). It is the  first all-Dorricott front row since Houston last year where Bell gridded  alongside polesitter and eventual race winner Casey Mears.  "Driving Indy Lights cars from a driver's point of view means understanding  that they are much less powerful than the Champ cars," Faulkner said. "That  makes this a 'flat out' track for us. It's much or more down to the team  than it is the driver. Nonetheless, a driver still has to run a smooth lap  or else the team's work is wasted. We worked well together on this.  "I guess the only thing I've done to prepare for a really fast oval like  this was when I once flew in the cockpit of an airplane. It was a little  space-framed plane. That's as close as I've come to running that fast. On a  serious note, it's a lot different. The constant left turn and the high  banks combined with a set-up that feels like you've already hit the wall  makes this a different sensation. I'm enjoying it so far. Qualifying went  well but I've got to keep my head down and prepare for the race. My obvious  goal in coming to Texas is to win the race. Winning the pole is a good  momentum builder event though I have my work cut out for me."  Bell qualified on the front row for the first time this season. He co-leads  the Dayton Indy Lights point standings with 36 points, tied with Derek  Higgins (Mexpro/ Lola).
Single-sided turbos the norm in Texas  Most Honda teams and all the Toyota teams are running or will run the single-sided turbos this weekend in Texas.  Toyota has said to their teams they are free to run the SST in the race, whereas Honda seems to be discouraging it.  Ford still has no SST. 
Nazareth extends ticket office hours  The Nazareth Speedway ticket office will be open for extended hours this week starting Saturday, April 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The hours Monday through Wednesday will be from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The box office will open for window sales at 7:30 a.m. each day next Friday through race day on Sunday. Tickets are still available for the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix presented by Toyota. Tickets for practice on Friday are $5, with children 12 and under admitted for free. Saturday is a G.A. ticket ($30) for CART and Toyota Atlantic qualifying and the USAC race. Kids 12 and under are also free on Saturday. Ticket prices for Sunday range from $45-80 and kids' tickets in rows 6-10 are only $15 as long as at least one $50 adult ticket it purchased. For more information, call 610-759-8800 or 1-888-729-6223 or visit
Lola unveils new sports car  The dramatic MG Lola EX257 sportscar was unveiled in Birmingham yesterday (26 April) by four of the six British drivers who will be spearheading MG’s attack at the Le Mans 24 Hours race in June. Mark Blundell, Julian Bailey, Jonny Kane and Kevin McGarrity revealed the 2001 Le Mans challenger alongside the MG ZR EX258 rally car, while their team-mates Anthony Reid and Warren Hughes took the cover off the MG ZS EX259 touring car. Lola played an integral part in the design of the two racecars. The experience gleaned from Lola’s historic class win at Le Mans last year, coupled with information learned from a season’s racing with the company’s radical top-category B2K/10 SR1 sportscar, has been put to good use in the design of the all-new MG Lola Le Mans entry. The car will be powered by a new AER-developed two-litre turbo charged MG Rover engine. Meeting the 675kg weight limit permitted by the LMP675 class regulations has been a key challenge for the Lola designers and many F1 technologies have been incorporated to enhance the stability and structure of the car. As Frank Dernie, Chief Engineer of Lola Cars International, points out, reliability and endurance are key at Le Mans: “It’s a real challenge to build such a lightweight machine that’s capable of racing non-stop for 24 hours. It’s a bit like asking a Grand Prix car to complete an entire F1 season during a single weekend.”
Driven movie reviews Here are two links to movie reviews from Driven
Detroit Free Press
Detroit News
Team owner does spotting Sigma team owner Tom Wieringa is doing the spotting all weekend at Texas for his driver Oriol Servia.  In case you have not heard, spotters are mandatory for this race and possibly all oval races going forward.
Richard Petty on Wide World Of Sports Richard Petty will be among the athletes, and the only stock car driver, featured in ABC's Wide World of Sports 40th Anniversary show. The show will be broadcast nationally at 4 p.m. (EDT).  Petty was interviewed a couple of weeks ago as a staple of the well-known sports show, which broadcast events such as the Southern 500 from Darlington, S.C.  "I'm just glad they are using me in the 'thrill of victory' part, instead of the 'agony of defeat,'" Petty laughed.  "For a long time, they were all we had if we were going to be on television," he said. "For a long time, if you were going to watch sports on television, that's pretty much all there was. Just about anybody who has been around for any length of time knows the show." Will Petty watch himself Sunday?  "Maybe on tape," he said. "We'll be finishing up the race at California about the time it starts."
Sarah Fisher on TV  Indy Racing standout Sarah Fisher is scheduled to appear on the "Live! With Regis and Kelly" television talk show May 4 in New York. Fisher will talk with co-hosts Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa
Here's to you Mrs. Robinson On Friday, No. 84 Shawna Robinson attempts to qualify for Sunday's NAPA Auto Parts 500 and become the first female Winston Cup driver to race 12 years. NASCAR on FOX lead analyst Darrell Waltrip: "We've had a number of women try to compete in Winston Cup racing, and certainly we love to see Shawna make it, she's probably the best woman driver I've seen in years, maybe ever. But she's just like everybody else, she's got to qualify this weekend. Forty-six cars will be trying to qualify for 43 positions, and, just like everybody else, she's going to have to be one of the fastest to get in the race."
NASCAR TV ratings on FOX stay strong FOX Sports' NASCAR Winston Cup race from Talladega Superspeedway (4/22) earned a 6.4/17 this past Sunday, a +21% improvement over last year's 5.3/14 for the same race on ABC. The 6.4/17 once again crowns NASCAR on FOX the highest-rated sporting event of the weekend, despite competition with the NBA playoffs. Airing head-to-head against NBC's early game (Raptors/Knicks), NASCAR on FOX outrated the NBA by +100% (6.4 vs. 3.2), +97% among M18-34, and +138 among M25-54. Season to date, NASCAR on FOX Winston Cup races are averaging a 6.8 rating and a 17 share, a +39% improvement over last year's broadcast and cable races, 4.9/13.
Lights - drivers quotes from Texas MARIO DOMINGUEZ - # 17 DEL VALLE CORONA TELEVISA PACWEST LIGHTS  “We had a pretty good practice,” said Dominguez. “I believe we had the fastest car out there running alone. The two quickest cars in the session were drafting, so I’m happy that our car is performing so well. The track is good as well, although there are a few bumps that we have to work on. Tonight we will concentrate on improving the car more for the bumps, but it’s really a hard track to set-up for. We’ll be back in the morning to see how we run with the changes, and hopefully we’ll qualify well tomorrow afternoon.” DAN WHELDON - # 1 GEMSTAR PACWEST LIGHTS   “My car is running well so far and I’m pleased with our performance at this stage of the weekend,” said Wheldon. “Our main intention this afternoon was to stay out of traffic and work on the car – and that’s what we did. The high banks seem to give the car more support, which is useful mid-corner. I like the track a lot although there are a few bumps that we need to think about overnight. Everyone is flat out all around and we’ll definitely be running two-wide for the race. So far, so good.” .
CART Autograph books available  The popular Fan Appreciation activities held at every FedEx Championship Series event will be enhanced once again in 2001, as FedEx Racing has produced autograph booklets featuring all Champ Car drivers. Continuing a program that was started during the 2000 season, FedEx has provided 60,000 autograph books for fans beginning with this weekend's Firestone Firehawk 600 Presented by Pioneer. "FedEx is pleased to provide Champ Car fans with the opportunity to bring a piece of the FedEx Championship Series home," said FedEx Vice President U.S. Marketing, Brian Phillips. "Again this year, FedEx will supply souvenir autograph books--the perfect solution for the age old dilemma of where to preserve sought-after signatures from their favorite FedEx Championship Series stars. In our fourth year of partnership with CART, FedEx is proud to bring you the most fan-friendly professional sport in the world." The colorful autograph books feature images of each driver on individual pages, as well as biographical information. Fans can obtain copies of the book at the CART Merchandise Trailer, CART Registration, CART Hospitality, all CART Winners Circle Fan Club meetings, and at all Fan Appreciation activities. "We are pleased that FedEx has decided to continue to provide autograph books for our fans," said Ron Richards, CART Vice President, Corporate Communications. "We believe that these books not only provide the fans a great keepsake from the weekend, but they also help to educate the fans about our drivers and the series. We know that our fans are some of the most passionate in all of sports, and are grateful to FedEx for giving us this opportunity to give the fans a token of our appreciation." The Fan Appreciation activities at every event feature 30-minute autograph sessions with every FedEx Championship Series driver, and take place at the conclusion of on-track Champ Car activities on either Friday or Saturday of race weekends. Series champions such as Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi, and Gil de Ferran - as well as all of their competitors on the track - are available for autographs during the Fan Appreciation activities.
CART hires Emmy Award winner Charlie Stark  Veteran television producer/director Charlie Stark, who has won five Emmy Awards during a distinguished television broadcast career, has joined Championship Auto Racing Teams as the open-wheel racing sanctioning organization continues to expand its efforts to enhance the entertainment aspects of its sport. Stark, who won Emmy Awards for programs that focused on baseball's California Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers, college football's UCLA Bruins and the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, has been a mainstay on the Southern California television sports and entertainment scene since the mid-70s. As an executive producer of CART racing, he will focus on development of broadcast profiles of the drivers in the FedEx Championship Series. "I am really looking forward to telling the story of the drivers of CART racing," said Stark. "These men are so approachable, so willing to cooperate in telling their stories and they all have great stories to tell to our national and international fan base. "Once more people have the opportunity to meet our drivers and get to feel that they better know them, they will begin to follow our sport and cheer for their successes. They are the stars of the most exciting and competitive open-wheel racing series in the world. I am very excited to have the privilege of telling their stories and help grow CART racing." In addition to his awarding winning productions, Stark directed international coverage of the World Super Bikes competition from Laguna Seca Raceway in 1999. He also has worked on a wide variety of live sports events and taped sports programs. Additionally, he has produced and directed numerous entertainment programs, stories and segments. His credits include several programs for the Disney Channel; America's Most Wanted; Hard Copy; Make Me Laugh; several specials for Los Angeles' KCBS Television; and a variety of syndicated television programs during the past 20 years. Stark, who has a bachelor's degree in radio and television broadcasting with an emphasis in film from San Diego State University, will be working out of CART's newly created Los Angeles-based sports entertainment office, which is headed by CART Senior Vice President of Sports Entertainment Jay Lucas. Stark, who will carry the title of executive producer, also will be working closely with CART Vice President of Broadcasting Keith Allo on various projects. "Charlie has a rich and extensive background in all aspects of television production and his story-telling ability will be a key element in building and growing CART racing," said Lucas. "We look forward to adding his insight and expertise to the CART team."
26 drivers prepare for Skip Barber Formula Dodge  Twenty-six racers are preparing for first-round action in the 2001 Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER this weekend at Sebring International Raceway. Elevating the profile of the series was an off-season move that resulted in the Formula Dodge National Championship being tapped to be the Official Amateur National Championship of CART. The densely packed field will include nine returning drivers, four Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winners and some of the brightest and quickest young talent in North America. Returning to contest a second season are Kevin Christensen, Damian Della-Santina, Dan DiLeo, Craig Duerson, Leonard Maia, Juan Manuel Polar, Scott Presti, Tophie Stewart and Landon Yee. The Barber-CART Karting Scholarship winners, A.J. Allmendinger, Tommy Contino, James Gue and Ben Moore, represent the four most deserving karters selected in the Barber-CART Karting Scholarship Runoff. Each earned a fully-funded season to contest the Formula Dodge National Championship, a cumulative value package worth over $160,000. As originally intended, the series will contribute to the health and prosperity of American open-wheel racing with driver development to remain its focus. Grouping these talented racers fosters competition and ultimately raises each driver's game. Entering its second year of action, the identically prepared Formula Dodge R/T 2000 will run with wings, slicks and a five-speed sequential gearbox. Drivers will make their statement with raw talent. It is competition at its purest form throughout the 13 round series. "Raising the level of competition was the goal we set in order to better prepare aspiring drivers for the next step," said Skip Barber last year when the series was formed. "There is no question that racing with a high caliber of competition improves driver development." All racers are eyeing the top prize to be awarded at season's end. The winner receives the Formula Dodge National Championship Barber- CART Scholarship, a fully-funded season to contest the subsequent Barber Dodge Pro Series, a value estimated at over $185,000. 
Wallace fastest at 2-day Sears Point test  Rusty Wallace was the fastest driver during a two-day test session at Sears Point Raceway as track officials opened up the modified Chute for the first time. Wallace, a two-time winner at Sears Point Raceway in 1990 and 1996, turned the 10-turn, 2-mile road course in 1 minute, 17.31 seconds to record the fastest lap over the two-day session. He was followed by Kevin Harvick (1:17.70) and Ron Fellows (1:18.10). The modified Chute, which connects Turns 4 and 7 on the road course for all NASCAR-sanctioned events, will be used for the first time in competition at the Dodge/Save Mart 350, June 21-24. "We're trying to get a grip back on our road-race program and that's why we came out to Sears Point," Wallace said. "We want to start winning road races again and that's why we're testing." Other drivers who competed in the two-day test were Terry Labonte, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jason Leffler, Matt Kenseth, Mike Skinner and Bobby Hamilton. "I think we might now have three places to pass," said Hamilton, who placed second at Sears Point in 1998. "We won't have to wait anymore for just Turn 11 now. We'll be able to pass in a few areas." The Chute was originally constructed in 1998 with the intention of giving fans better visibility of the road course. The original move also shortened the course - from 2.52 to 1.95 miles - and provided fans with 40 additional laps, meaning more opportunities to see the stars. The third objective was to provide better competition. The first two objectives were met, but the third didn't work, which is why officials are now correcting it, with the aid of drivers. The modified Chute features the following elements: 
a. A 300-foot straightaway from Turn 4 to what will become the new Turn This segment will feature straight-line braking before entering Turn 4a; 
b. A sharp 70-degree right-hand turn from Turn 4a into the Chute. There will also be 150 feet of runoff room available outside Turn 4a; 
c. Once out of Turn 4a, drivers will navigate an 870-foot pure straightaway, which will feature speeds in excess of 110 mph. This will be one of the fastest segments of the track; 
d. Turn 7 will boast a 90-degree right-hand turn placed 100 feet beyond the current Turn 7 apex. The turn will feature 120 feet of runoff. 
e. The modification will increase the length of the road course from 1.95 to 1.99 miles. The number of turns remains the same (10). 
The entire segment will span 1,170 feet, nearly 300 feet more than the original Chute (890 feet). Drivers expect the new Turn 7 to be a passing zone, and some even said Turn 4a could be another passing zone, adding to the excitement of the race. Other top times for the two-day test session were: Hamilton (1:18.10); Labonte (1:18.20); Kenseth (1:18.39); Skinner (1:18.51), Earnhardt Jr. (1:19.41) and Leffler (1:19.45). "I like what they have out here much better," Kenseth said. "I felt a lot more comfortable out there now than I did last year." "So far I like the changes I'm seeing around here but I need to get some more time out here," Skinner said. "I'm just real pleased that the track is dedicated and is making all these changes. I can't believe all the work they've done out here with the new seats and the garages and everything." The original 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course will still be used for all road-racing events at Sears Point Raceway that are not NASCAR-sanctioned.
Miami RV spaces on sale  Reserved recreation vehicle parking spaces are now on sale for the November 9-11 Pennzoil 400, the third annual NASCAR Winston Cup race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. By purchasing a RV space, fans can experience the excitement of the Pennzoil 400 weekend while staying in their own RV at the Fleetwood Camping Area, a short walk from the Homestead-Miami Speedway. A limited number of reserved RV parking spaces are available at the Fleetwood Camping Area. The spaces are 20 feet by 50 feet (wide enough to accommodate most campers and their awnings) and are limited to self-contained recreational vehicles. The reserved RV area opens on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 9 a.m., and closes at noon on Monday, Nov. 12. The price for each space is $175, and includes shuttle service to and from the speedway. Group tickets are also available. For the benefit of all guests, spaces are only available to fans that have purchased a minimum of two tickets for the Pennzoil 400 weekend that includes Saturday's Miami 300, the NASCAR Busch series finale, in addition to the Winston Cup race. To reserve a RV space, call the Homestead-Miami Speedway ticket office at (305) 230-RACE. 
Ford Texas Preview  Ford-Cosworth heads to the Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) for the third CART race of the 2001 season with the inaugural Firestone Firehawk 600. The event marks the first of four consecutive races on oval tracks as the Champ Cars make their first-ever appearance on the banked 1.5-mile circuit. Although Kenny Brack managed a second straight front row qualifying effort at Long Beach three weeks ago, Ford-Cosworth looks to rebound from an otherwise disappointing result as just one Ford-powered driver managed a top 10 finish.  Story (PDF)
Further explanation for Hal Whiteford's departure  Joe Heitzler said today that they are looking for an individual(s) with more of a technical background who can respond and work with the manufacturers more closely when they present new ideas.
CART announces replacement for Pat Leahy  Richard Henley, who most recently played a leadership role in the business growth of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, has joined Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) to head up the auto racing sanctioning organization’s Marketing Division. The announcement was made by CART President/CEO Joseph Heitzler, who said that Henley, who has served as Royal Caribbean’s Director of Marketing and Strategic Alliances, will be CART’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and commence his duties May 14. “Rich is a tremendously talented individual who has an excellent track record in building and growing brands,” said Heitzler. “He comes from an industry that is very focused on providing a high level of customer service. He also has a very comprehensive understanding of how to effectively build awareness and demand for products. He is a superb addition to our team at CART and we are pleased to have him joining us.” In his position at Royal Caribbean, Henley led the Marketing Division with a business volume of over $2 billion. He led the effort to create a new brand positioning and essence for Royal Caribbean that integrates all aspects of the marketing mix, including broadcast and print advertising as well as strategic alliances with IBM Computers, Coca-Cola, Crayola Crayons, Johnny Rocket Restaurants and Discovery Communications. During his tenure, brand preference has increased more than 20 percent. “People who attend CART racing find it to be an incredible experience,” said Henley. “Our challenge is to expand that experience to make it even more exciting and entertaining, both on-site and through the media. “I have a real passion for sports, a passion for cars and a passion for brand building and marketing,” added Henley. “All those things combined – coupled with the dedicated team at CART – will help us move our product ahead. During the interview process with CART, I was particularly invigorated by the passion and desire Joe Heitzler has for CART’s transition from a pure sports property to a sports entertainment entity.” “Our challenge is to grow our sport and educate future fans about the exciting sports entertainment experience that CART’s racing technology offers. We need to put forward our incredibly skilled drivers as racing personalities. This is key to helping CART grow into a more mainstream sports property.” Prior to joining Royal Caribbean, Henley served as Global Group Marketing Manager for Polaroid, Inc., where he launched and marketed numerous global products. Henley spent more than six years at Black & Decker in various sales and marketing roles. In his last position as National Sales and Marketing Manager, he increased sales by over 30 percent for his division. Henley has a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Boston University’s Graduate School of Business.
CART releases 1st Quarter Earnings  Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) today announced revenues, expenses, net income and earnings per share for the first quarter ended March 31, 2001. The number of events held in a particular quarter will affect the comparability of earnings information from quarter to quarter. CART conducted one event in the first quarter of 2001 and 2000. Indy Lights conducted one race in the first quarter of 2001 compared to zero races in the same period in the prior year. Toyota Atlantics conducted zero races in the first quarter of 2001compared to two races in the same period in the prior year. Total revenues for the first quarter of 2001 were $6.4 million, a decrease of $1.4 million, or 18%, from the comparable quarter of 2000. “While our revenue performance was hindered by the loss of guaranteed income from our former sponsor partner, we are building our infrastructure in order to produce additional sponsorship revenue,” said Thomas L. Carter, CART CFO. “Sanction fee revenues, however, showed a significant increase due to our successful inaugural race in Monterrey, Mexico, where a record 318,000 spectators experienced our racing product over the three day race weekend.”  Full Report
Mark Martin finally wears HANS Device Mark Martin wore the HANS Device for the Talladega 500 last Sunday. Martin has previously been a staunch opponent to the Head And Neck Support systems and other head restraint devices. Martin stated earlier this year that he would never wear the HANS, and would not even test it or try it on. What brought the change of heart? Perhaps it was a recommendation from his primary sponsor Pfizer, who uses Martin to promote men's health, or perhaps Martin finally realized saving his life is more important than being macho. 
Cheever hits 222 at Indy  Eddie Cheever Jr. turned an unofficial lap at 222 mph yesterday (Tuesday), and rookie Shigeaki Hattori also participated in the final private test session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the 85th running of the classic auto race on May 27. Cheever, in an Excite@Home Indy Race Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone machine, brushed off the significance of the speed. "Unless we're all here, it doesn't mean anything," he said. "I look at those (previous) 216's people have been running and know the conditions are different. Every time we've run, there's been different wind conditions."
Atlanta Motor Speedway Part of the Indianapolis 500? Strange as it sounds, many of the drivers in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series consider Saturday night's running of the Atlanta 500 Classic as part of the Indianapolis 500. The April 28 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway is the final event preceding the Indianapolis 500, so it takes a special position in the schedule as the last opportunity drivers and teams have to test their vehicles in a competitive situation. But what can be found in Georgia on the 24 degree, high-banked oval that can be taken to the flat track of the Brickyard? In short -- momentum. "Atlanta is probably the most important lead-in to Indy," said Buzz Calkins, 1996 Indy Racing co-champion. "You will get all of your momentum from Atlanta, either positive or negative momentum. If it is negative, then that will affect you the first few days at Indianapolis, at least. If it is positive, you can carry that all month long." "I'm telling everyone on my team to just consider Atlanta part of the Indianapolis 500," said Eddie Cheever Jr., 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion. "It is vital. We need more power, better aerodynamics, better driving and more focus. It is a very good way to focus on the (Indianapolis) 500." The 2000 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter, Greg Ray, concurs. "Though the tracks (Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway) are very different, a win, good pit stops, or a pole position right before the Indy 500 certainly is a great enthusiasm builder for the team. The guys work so hard, but it is possible to build that momentum and build that confidence. When you get right to the end of the rope, and you are really doing things that are important -- confidence and rhythm and momentum -- then all those things pay big dividends. We definitely want to come away (from Atlanta) with a good weekend." Continued.......
Con't from above  One driver who knows how important the final race leading to the Indianapolis 500 can be is Al Unser Jr., two-time winner at the Brickyard (1992 and '94). "Atlanta is a very big event for us because we want to have good momentum going into the Indianapolis 500," Unser said. "I finished well here last year (third), and I really like the track configuration. It is very conducive to wheel-to-wheel racing, and I think the fans are going to see an unbelievable show. Of course, racing at night is always fun for the drivers and the fans, and I am looking forward to the entire event." Several other Northern Light Series drivers echoed Unser's enthusiasm about Atlanta Motor Speedway, a track where the 220-mph draft plays a key role deciding who visits victory circle. "I love the high-banked tracks like Atlanta," said Scott Sharp, the other 1996 Indy Racing co-champion. "In the past we haven't always had the most power, but it's been clear evidence that no matter where you qualify, if you have a car that will draft well you're going to have a good race. I love those tracks and what the draft does for our cars. You really alter your strategy. Instead of working on a car where you're trying to get the most grip out of it and trying to get a car that's not so disturbed in traffic, you really switch gears and start thinking about nothing but drafting with guys and fuel strategy. Those are the two things that separate you from someone else." "Atlanta is our version of Talladega, and you have to be extra careful not to touch anybody," explains Eliseo Salazar, driver of the No. 14 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone car. "When race time comes, that is when the qualities come into play such as the drivers knowing how to utilize the draft. It makes good racing for the fans, but I also think the drivers are more aware of treating each other with respect and that is why we have had some pretty good races." Though the track is well lit for a night race, the 7 p.m. (EDT) starting time brings some special concerns for the drivers. "The biggest thing at Atlanta is not racing under the lights so much as it is the sunset," explained Calkins. "The way the sun sets in Atlanta is the biggest part. You start at dusk and end in the dark and that makes your choice of visor -- clear or tinted -- important. You have to decide when to see." "My biggest concern is the start of the race," says Felipe Giaffone, driver of the No. 21 Hollywood G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone vehicle. "I understand the sun will be setting at the start and that I will be looking directly at it coming down the frontstretch into Turn 1. That might get a little tricky, but hopefully I will have a chance to work on it during the practice session." But once the lights are on, Ray claims the spectators are in for a treat. "It's like an amphitheater," he said of Atlanta Motor Speedway. "You're seeing a Las Vegas show unfold in front of your eyes. It is really more of a 300-mile sprint race. You find yourself pretty flat-out and very aggressive in traffic protecting your track position."
Light's cars test at Kansas  England’s Dan Wheldon tested at the new 1.5 - mile oval at Kansas Speedway for the first time at the end of last week in preparation for round six of the CART Dayton Indy Lights Championship which will be held there on 8th July this year. Along with Wheldon, eight other Indy Lights drivers participated in the test session. While times were not officially recorded, Wheldon posted one of the quickest laps of the day – an unofficial time of 30.7 seconds, 0.4 seconds faster than his team-mate, Mexican Mario Dominguez. The PacWest Indy Lights team now stays in Texas in preparation for round three of the 2001 CART Dayton Indy Lights Championship which is being held at Texas Motor Speedway this Saturday, 28th April.
Sigma's Howatt Hopes to Return to Winner's Circle at Texas Motor Speedway Sigma Autosport is new to the FedEx CART Championship Series, and has not yet tasted the fruits of victory entering the Firestone Firehawk 600, however one key member of the team has experienced not only a win, but at the Texas Motor Speedway. Tom Howatt, crew chief for Sigma, returns to the Texas Motor Speedway, the site where as lead mechanic for Panther Racing of the Indy Racing League (IRL), he helped in getting Canadian Scott Goodyear to victory circle in 1999. "It was a great feeling," said Howatt. "It's something you don't forget and that was a truly special night for all of us. I'm hoping that I get the same feeling again come Sunday." For the first time, the FedEx CART Championship will race at the Texas Motor Speedway. The racetrack is the only one in the country to host CART, IRL, Busch Grand National, and NASCAR races. One of the big questions concerning the race is how the CART drivers and racecars will do on the 24-degree banking, the steepest track in the CART series. "I think everyone will be very cautious," said Howatt. "These guys are pros and they will be extra careful and behave. We'll do the necessary adjustments if we have to, but the main thing is that the guys are safe and have a great race." Howatt said that IRL cars have more downforce than its CART cousins, with bigger wings, fewer constraints and are a little easier to drive. He also expects the tires to take a beating on the track, but believes Firestone will have a durable tire. "This may be a race of attrition. Not only will the guys have to be careful on the banking with the high speeds that are expected, they will have to factor in fuel mileage and hope for engine and component reliability, just like an IRL race." Howatt also likes his driver, Oriol Servia's chances in the race. "Oriol is really good and can do the job," said Howatt. "I think he can have a great day as long as everything falls into place, good pit stops, a great strategy and a clean run. With team manager Phil Howard directing us, I believe we'll have an excellent race." Everything is supposed to be big in Texas, and a big crowd is expected at the Texas Motor Speedway. That, and a big race that has some wondering if the cars can stay off the wall and out of each other's way. "This race is going to be a classic," continued Howatt. "It's going to be competitive and exciting, and whoever wins will have the drive of his life. "There's going to be a lot of passing and a lot of action for the fans to see."
NASCAR Tests Aerodynamics at Talladega The following are comments from Gary Nelson, NASCAR Winston Cup Series Director, regarding Monday's test by NASCAR at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Sterling Marlin, driver of the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge, participated in the test. Several ideas were experimented with that included various width and height changes to the rear spoiler and front fenders. The concentrated effort was on the greenhouse area in which a steeper-higher angled windshield and higher and wider greenhouse were used. The greenhouse is the area above the door-tops, cowl and deck-lid and contains the roof and all of the windows. "What we did today was a continuation of a test we conducted last year and actually several tests we've conducted over the last couple of years, where we tried a wider green-house area. Many well-respected teams offered a few suggestions to try and (Chip) Ganassi's team and Sterling (Marlin) did a great job in preparing the parts and components needed to conduct the test. "We ran about 50 laps with speeds ranging from 182 to 187 mph. The test was conducted without the use of the current aero-package that the teams used in last fall's race at Talladega and both restrictor-plate races this season (Daytona 500 and Talladega 500). "As we move along, the theory behind putting a wider and taller green-house area on the cars, should have given us another step in our ideas of enhancing the safety of the cars, while keeping the level of competition on the same playing field. However, the results we received were not promising. While the test did not provide us with any immediate answers, we will still study what we learned and possibly regroup to organize another test to continue to build on the theory of a bigger, less aerodynamic green-house."
Said to replace Pressley on Road Courses  Jasper Motorsports President Doug Bawel and Driver Robert Pressley announced today that long time road racer Boris Said will take over the driving duties of the #77 Ford for the two NASCAR Winston Cup road course events run this season. Said's first appearance for the Jasper team will be in June at Sears Point Raceway. He will also pilot the car during the event at Watkins Glen International in September. "Boris is a road course specialist," said Pressley. "We need to do what's best for this Jasper team. That has always been our goal. When we needed a strong leader a couple of years ago, we went out and got (Crew Chief) Ryan Pemberton, because that's what we needed to do to make this team strong. It's my turn now to do what's best. I have every confidence that Boris's experience will make this worthwhile. And, I promise I'll be cheering on the team, because they are there every week rooting for me. "Said, who competes full time in the SCCA Trans Am Series as well as the Speedvision World Challenge Series and the American LeMans Series, has seen the twists and turns of both Sears Point and Watkins Glen before. In 1998,he qualified fifth in Winston Cup regular Jimmy Spencer's car before relieving him during the race and finishing 20th. At Sears Point in 1999,Said posted the fastest time in practice but experienced engine failure in both qualifying sessions and was thus unable to make the field. He also encountered bad luck during last year's event when suspension problems put him out of the race on lap 26 of the 112-lap event.
Bryan Herta Texas happenings  Herta will be featured on and off of the track in the May edition of Maximum Golf Magazine. The magazine visited Herta at his karting track in Las Vegas (The Las Vegas Karting Center) where he taught journalist Max Lark the basics of karting, and also at his home in Valencia, California.  On the Ovals: Herta earned his first CART pole position (he now has seven to his name) in 1995 at Phoenix International Raceway. Herta's pole time of 19.785 set a new track record at "The world's fastest one-mile oval".  "Texas can't come soon enough, it's been a while since I have raced on an oval, and this oval will be a little different from the others that we race on, so I am not sure what to expect. I know the speedway is a state-of-the-art facility, and obviously it is a high-banked fast oval, but I have never been on the track before, so I can't wait to check it out for myself in that first session Friday morning. I hope a lot of people come out to watch, it will be good show and we should be able to create some new CART fans in the Dallas area this weekend."
Sarah Fischer's first goal out of High School is to win Indy  While most of her classmates are still trying to figure out what to do with their life, Sarah Fisher's main goal -- in her first job out of high school -- is to win the Indianapolis 500. "I want to be as accomplished as I can in many areas, but right now my dream is racing," said Fisher , who will pilot the No. 15 Walker Racing/Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone Indy car in the Atlanta 500 Classic at Atlanta Motor Speedway April 28. The race is the final tune-up for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series teams prior to the Indianapolis 500 May 27. Story (PDF)
NASCAR truck drivers have a tough job  Barry Sheppard, truck driver for the #21 Motorcraft Racing Team hauler, talks about how this week differs from his "normal" weeks on the road to and from Winston Cup events. The trip to Fontana is 2807 miles one way from Stuart, Virginia, to the California track. Story (PDF)
Indy Racing Drivers Ready to... Meet & Greet  The drivers of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series are hard to catch under the lights of Atlanta Motor Speedway at more than 220 mph. Fortunately for the fans, several of these drivers will slow down long enough to be at Planet Hollywood on Thursday, April 26 for a meet-and-greet session. The autograph session will run from 7-8:15 p.m. Drivers scheduled to appear at Planet Hollywood (218 Peachtree St. N.W.) include*: Sam Hornish Jr. -- The winner of the first two Northern Light Series races at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Jeff Ward -- The former AMA Supercross champion has won two poles in Indy Racing Competition, including the last race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 
Robby McGehee -- Finished second last season at Texas Motor Speedway, losing to Scott Sharp by .059 second, the closest finish in Indy Racing history. 
Felipe Giaffone -- The Treadway-Hubbard Racing driver currently sits third in the Northern Light Series point standings. 
Greg Ray's Indy Racing car will be on display to give fans a chance to see an Indy 500 machine up close. The Atlanta 500 Classic is the final event before the Indianapolis 500 and takes on special significance for the teams as the last opportunity to shake down the cars in a competitive situation. The race takes place Saturday, April 28 at 7 p.m. Qualifying takes place Friday, April 27 at 8 p.m., with practice sessions beginning earlier that day at 2:30 p.m.
Texas Preview The FedEx Championship Series kicks off its first of four consecutive oval events in grand fashion this weekend with Championship Auto Racing Teams’ inaugural foray to the spectacular Texas Motor Speedway for the Firestone Firehawk 600 Presented by Pioneer (3 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ESPN). Story | Pre-Race quotes
Food for Thought The Texas Motor Speedway is gearing up for its inaugural CART FedEx Championship Series race, the Firestone Firehawk 600, presented by Pioneer, and race fans aren't the only ones anticipating the event. The North Texas Food Bank's "Hunger Link-Prepared Foods Program" will benefit from the race in the way of a food donation. Approximately, 5,000 meals will be delivered to the food bank following the Firestone Firehawk 600 weekend through the Newman/Haas Racing Team.  The North Texas Hunger Link program was developed in 1986 to rescue surplus perishable and non-perishable foods from hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, entertainment venues, and other food service kitchens.   "As the North Texas Food Bank has had the Prepared Food and Rescue program for many years, we really target entertainment venues and have had a relationship with Texas Motor Speedway for a few years now," said Eric Cooper of the North Texas Food Bank. "This is a wonderful, wonderful new opportunity and it's great because they [Newman/Haas] called us. The food product is much needed." The donation is slated for more than twenty shelters, primarily those for battered women. The donation is estimated to be eight-to-ten thousand pounds of food. During a 1985 CART FedEx Championship Series race in Long Beach, California, Newman/Haas Racing chefs Peter and Mary-Lin Murphy witnessed several homeless persons rummaging through the garbage bins, searching for the food which had been disposed of by each teams' chefs. The Murphys found this to be a common occurrence at many of the cities visited on the CART circuit.  "We were shocked, I'd never have imagined it," Mary-Lin Murphy stated. The Murphys then decided that they could package all of the food left over from the Newman/Haas hospitality tent each race weekend and donate it to area food pantries in each of the cities they visited. Other teams' chefs saw that it was a great idea and, realizing how many people it would benefit, began sending their leftovers to the Newman/Hass duo. "It's awesome," said Ted Reader, chef for the Patrick Racing Team. "Now we're not just aware of managing how we order food, we know that we should save it and store it here as quickly as possible. At the end of every working day here, we've brought leftovers to the storage trailer." As much as five tons of food have been delivered at a single venue, and it has been estimated that at least 5,000 meals are donated to the food pantries after each race, which is greatly appreciated by recipients. "Our fully prepared meals will be on tables quickly after race day, but items such as fruit and cereals can be served long after we leave, " Peter Murphy said. The food donated isn't the typical fare traditionally prepared for fans at the speedway, but rather gourmet cuisine normally found at five-star restaurants. For example, the Murphy's prepare meals such as Parisian Pork Chops (Cotes de Pork) with Long Grain Wild Rice and Porcini Mushrooms, Haricots Verts in Lemon Butter sauce and Tortillini in Palmermatana Sauce with tossed greens and grape tomatoes in Newman's Own "Oil & Vinegar;" and a Lemon Tart with a pecan crust for dessert. Although a portion of the food prepared for this weekend's event will be uneaten, the unwavering efforts of the Newman/Haas Team and Peter and Mary-Lin Murphy, it will not go to waste. 
Target boys ready to have at it in Texas  Target Chip Ganassi Racing rookie drivers Bruno Junqueira and Nicolas Minassian will search deep in the heart of Texas for their first Champ Car checkered flag Sunday at the inaugural Firestone Firehawk 600 in Fort Worth. Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile oval, with its high-banked corners, will provide a challenge for all drivers, and especially for the Team Target duo, which makes its oval debut. Despite the tricky track and the drivers' lack of oval experience, both Junqueira and Minassian are confident they have a chance to christen victory circle. Team Target heads to Texas Motor Speedway with momentum on their side, following a strong showing on the streets of Long Beach. Junqueira charged through the field from his 28th starting position to place ninth, tallying the highest number of cars passed since former team driver Alex Zanardi charged from 26th to fourth at Rio in 1997. Minassian also moved forward in the field at Long Beach, climbing from 14th to eighth. Junqueira, last year's Formula 3000 champion, is eager for his Champ Car education to continue on Sunday with his first oval race. "We've done a lot of off-season testing on oval tracks," Junqueira said. "Our test at Las Vegas gave our engineers a lot of good information that will translate over to this track. I feel very comfortable on the ovals so far, but I've never raced on an oval with other cars. I'm going to have to learn how the car will be with other cars on the track. The practice sessions will be the place for me to find out about that. It's going to be a long race, and it will be important to stay out of trouble during the first half of it. If we can do that, I think we'll have a good chance to win on Sunday." Junqueira's teammate, Minassian, is also looking forward to his third Champ Car challenge. "This is going to be a very exciting race for the fans," Minassian said. "But I'm not so sure how exciting it will be for the drivers. With 28 cars racing side-by-side at over 220 miles per hour, it will be a little nerve-wracking for me. I'm looking forward to the challenge. I've never raced on a track like this before, but I'm confident our team will give me all of the information I need to succeed. I've seen pictures of Texas Motor Speedway and it looks like a beautiful place. It will be even more beautiful if I can win the race." Team Target managing director Mike Hull believes his team is prepared for Texas Motor Speedway's 24-degree banks. "This is a very challenging track from an engineering standpoint," Hull said. "We'll be able to use most of the information we acquired at the winter test in Las Vegas. This track, however, has a higher banking and will produce faster speeds than Las Vegas. We have some of the best engineers in the business and I'm confident they will find a fast set-up for our cars. I'm also confident that Team Target has the ability to challenge for a win on Sunday afternoon."
Ecclestone signs 100-year TV deal with F1  At a meeting held today in Paris the FIA World Motor Sport Council confirmed the 100-year agreement for the commercial rights of the FIA Formula One World Championship with the company SLEC. SLEC was today represented by Thomas Haffa (Kirch) and Dieter Hahn (EM-TV), and Bernie Ecclestone was there representing the Formula One Association (FOA) / Formula One Management (FOM).  This agreement will not affect in any way the current Concorde Agreement, which expires on the 31st December 2007. This is a further important step by the FIA towards complying with the European Commission's requirement to separate commercial and promotional activities from the sport. SLEC and the Kirch Group have confirmed that the Championship will continue to be shown on free-to-air television.
We stand corrected A reader writes, NASCAR open engines (un-restricted) turn around 9,200 rpm. The plate engines (restricted) only turn 6,750 rpm; they run out of air and can't spin as high. Plate racing is BAD! Just ask Jack Roush how much money he spends per horse power for a plate engine, compared to an open motor.  CART, then, would be better off not using an orifice to restrict HP, but instead use the identical IRL bore-mandated engine but remove the rev limits.
Industry News
Sirius to broadcast FOX News Channel and Speedvision on Satellite Radio Sirius Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI), the satellite radio broadcaster, and FOX News Channel today announced that the FOX News Channel will be carried nationally on Sirius Radio. FOX News Channel will be a simulcast of the television news programming service of the same name featuring such widely acclaimed shows as The O'Reilly Factor, Special Report with Brit Hume, The Edge with Paula Zahn and FOX News Live. FOX News Channel is a general news service covering breaking news as well as sports, entertainment and business news. FOX News Channel is available in more than 60 million homes and is owned by News Corp.  Speedvision too. Speedvision Radio signed on to Sirius Radio. Matt Zako the voice man for Speedvision's television promotions will manage the radio network. Matt worked for 20 years in the New England radio market before signing on to Speedvision. Matt also traveled the country marketing for Speedvision during the early years when there were only 14 million viewers. Traveling from racetrack to racetrack marketing the network. Many of you out there may have met the Speedvision crew and models. The amount of viewers has more than doubled since then. Now you will be able to listen to Speedvision Radio anywhere in the USA. On Sirius satellite radio  Sirius has begun broadcasting and is now conducting a comprehensive quality assurance program. Following the completion of this program, we will begin commercial service for consumers later this year. In the meantime, be sure to visit the listen section of our web site to hear some samples of our service.   You will need a 3-band (AM/FM/SAT) radio and a subscription to Sirius. If you are not purchasing a new radio, you will need an adapter for the radio in your car. The subscription fee is $9.95/month, billed via credit card.  AM/FM/SAT radios, as well as adapters, will be available later this year at mobile audio stores and national retailers.  AM/FM/SAT radios are being developed by Alpine, Clarion, Delphi Delco, Jensen, Kenwood, Panasonic, Pioneer, Sony and Visteon.  Sirius’ national broadcast studio complex is located in New York City. It is one of the largest, most sophisticated digital radio broadcasting facilities in the world, with production studios for its 100 radio stations, 4 performance spaces, 150 miles of cable, a complete digital automation system, and a comprehensive digital library that will contain millions of pieces of music.   They have partnerships with Ford, DaimlerChrysler and BMW to allow inclusion of Sirius-ready radios in their vehicles. Ford is expected to provide cars equipped with Sirius for all of its lines, including Ford, Lincoln, Mazda, Jaguar, and Volvo. DaimlerChrysler is expected to offer Sirius in all brands, including Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner and Sterling trucks. BMW is expected to offer Sirius in all BMW models sold in North America.  All radios will also have AM/FM. But, Sirius is completely different from conventional radio. All our music channels are 100% commercial-free, and are created in-house with world-renowned musicians and great on-air personalities. The news, talk, sports, and entertainment channels will offer a variety of content not available on conventional radio. They are being created by some of the best people in the business, including CNBC, NPR, A&E, Discovery, SCI-FI Channel, and the BBC.   They are working with an eclectic group of music experts that have three things in common: they know the music, they know the people who make the music, and they know what listeners want to hear. Their music programmers are musicians, music historians, and composers, among others. They are constructing a network of 94 ground repeaters that will augment the satellite signal in tunnels and dense urban areas where tall buildings can interfere with our satellite signal. This will ensure seamless, coast-to-coast reception. This network will be completed shortly.
Team Motorola Texas pre-race - Michael Andretti and the crew at Team Motorola are ready for their inaugural visit to the high-banked oval at Texas Motor Speedway. On Friday, April 27 when practice begins, it will be Andretti's first time driving on the famed oval in preparation for the Firestone Firehawk 600K to be held Sunday, April 29. "I'm looking forward to running this track", said Andretti. "Open-wheel cars have run here and the racing has always been exciting so I'm anticipating a good show on Sunday." After an engine failure on lap number 3 at the last CART event in Long Beach, California Andretti and the team have been itching to get back to business. "After our short race in Long Beach we are ready to get back on track, literally and figuratively", said Tony Cotman, team manager. "Texas is a bit different configuration from the other ovals we run so we've spent our time preparing for a different approach to this race weekend. We also did some extra pit stop practice since we were a few short from Long Beach." Despite their early finish in Long Beach, Team Motorola still stands in sixth position with 12 championship points and is on target for their season goal of a CART FedEx Championship. "We feel like we've used our time between Long Beach and Texas well", said general manager Kim Green. "The next four races are 'Andretti type tracks'--ovals. Michael has always been competitive on an oval track and it's nice to be racing with Michael and not against him at these venues." Preparation for Texas Motor Speedway began in March when Team Motorola's technical partner, Team KOOL Green and their driver Dario Franchitti tested the 1.5-mile oval and gathered engineering data. Andretti explained the information advantage that Team Motorola and Team KOOL Green have from this partnership. "Dario tested here in March and was able to provide a good baseline for the set-up. I think we will be able to unload the car on Friday and be competitive. That is the great thing about our technical partnership; we're able to share the knowledge from Dario's test and hopefully start off the race weekend a step ahead of the competition." The inaugural Texas event will be a 600K race and there will be a variety of strategies that come into play for Michael and Team Motorola. "This is a long race," said Andretti. "This is a 600K, which is a lot of miles. Fuel mileage and pit strategy will be very important and the bottom line is you need to be there at the end of the race which is going to take patience and a lot of luck!"

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