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DATE News (chronologically 5/2/01 to 5/9/01)
5/9/01 Toyota about to announce big profit?  We like to think it's because of their involvement in CART.  Toyota Motor Corp. is likely to post the biggest group pre-tax profit ever for a Japanese firm of eight billion dollars for the fiscal year just ended  in March, a report said Wednesday. The nation's leading automaker, due to release its annual results next Wednesday, was expected to see its pre-tax profit soaring 22 percent to 970 billion yen (8.08 billion dollars), the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported. The record-setting figure is due to brisk sales of new cars at home and abroad, as well as tough cost-cutting measures, the business daily said. "It seems that the yen's depreciation towards the end of the fiscal year (to March 2001), inflated the pretax profit level by tens of billions of yen, that is for sure," West LB Securities senior analyst William Nestuk said. "But, I just cannot explain the rest of the elements that drove the profit line that high," he added. A Toyota spokesman declined to confirm the report. "We cannot make any comment until the announcement (of the financial results)," said the spokesman Shigeru Hayakawa. If confirmed the figure would easily surpass Toyota's record group pre-tax profit of 838 billion yen in 1990, which is also the biggest figure yet for any Japanese company, the paper said. Sales were seen rising five percent to 13.5 trillion yen during the year, benefiting from a 6.0-percent increase in its global output to 5.87 million units, the report said. Toyota shares climbed 40 yen or 1.0 percent to 4,170 yen in morning trade on the back of the report.
Reader speaks out on article 'Many feel 500 is bigger than ever'  Dear - This load of revisionist bollocks was on I sat down and wrote how I would respond if a) ESPN allowed you to respond, b) I didn't have professional reasons for biting my tongue publicly or c) I didn't have an increasing desire to agree with Luyendyk's view in this article that I wish both sides well for the betterment of the sport. Still, this kind of bollocks does little to heal the wounds.  Attached are excerpts from the article that I feel are disinformation and do a great disservice to the sport.  The statements which I take exception with are in bold followed by my response in italic. Letter
5/9/01 Bid on two NASCAR experiences   NASCAR fans can be a part of a Winston Cup pit crew or experience the thrill of a road course at more than 120 miles per hour. Currently, RPM Auctions (, presented by eBay, is offering guests the opportunity to bid on two exclusive NASCAR experiences. To summarize, the first experience gives bidders the opportunity to join the Jasper Engines & Transmissions NASCAR Winston Cup Pit Crew. The winner will have his/her own pit crew uniform and join the other group members on pit row for the entire Dodge/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Winston Cup event at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. on June 24, 2001. The second experience that fans can bid on is a chance to join Boris Said, driver of the Jasper Engines & Transmissions racing team, for a ride around Sears Point Raceway. The winning bidder and a guest will ride with Said around the Sears Point racing circuit and attend the Dodge/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma, Calif. on June 24, 2001. Bidding for both packages ends on May 17, 2001.
5/9/01 PacWest picks up associate sponsor for Dixon  PacWest Racing Group has announced that Men's Health magazine will become an associate sponsor on the #18 Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota, driven by Scott Dixon. Men's Health will be represented through car signage on the engine cover of Dixon's car beginning with the race at Nazareth Speedway, and will continue through the 2001 CART FedEx Series. "Men's Health is pleased to become a sponsor of the PacWest racing team," said Paul Turcotte, Publisher of Men's Health magazine. "When Men's Health made the decision to join the world of motor racing sponsorship, we wanted to find a racing team that shared our goals."  The sponsorship was developed to expand Men's Health magazine reader awareness and provide an elite platform for building relationships with readers and advertisers. Dixon, who follows a rigorous training schedule, is the perfect fit in forming a partnership with Men's Health. His training regimen consists of swimming, biking, running and rock climbing. Dixon trains six days a week for approximately 2 1/2 hours each day. He also follows a tough strength-training program and runs every morning during a race weekend. "I train pretty hard," said Dixon. "Because of my extensive training, handling a Champ Car has not been physically difficult. It especially pays off while racing in the longer races, which are physically demanding." Men's Health magazine is the world' definitive guide to improving men's physical and emotional lives. Men's Health reaches 8.3 million readers within the US monthly, and over 20 million readers worldwide through its 24 international editions. Bruce R. McCaw formed PacWest Racing Group in 1993 and currently fields two cars in the FedEx Championship Series and also competes in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship. 
5/9/01 NASCAR drives FX ratings record  FX's telecast of the Pontiac Excitement 400, the network's first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race, delivered the highest viewership of any program in its seven-year history. It ranked #1 among all basic cable programs on Saturday, May 5, finished #3 among all basic cable programs for the week ending May 6 (household rating and HH impressions), and also was the #1 show for the week among Adults 25-54 and Men 25-54. In addition, the FX Pre-race show (7:30-8 PM) ranked #4 among Adults 18-49 and #8 in HH rating/impressions for the week. The 2001 Pontiac Excitement 400 (8-11:25 PM) earned a 4.03 HH rating, which was 14% above ESPN's HH rating of the same race one year ago. The telecast averaged 2.6 million homes and over 4.5 million viewers. Race coverage peaked at a 5.22 HH rating and over 6 million viewers (11-11:15 PM), and the final hour-and-a-half averaged a 4.4 HH rating. The Pre-race show posted a 2.6 HH rating or 1.7 million homes. While carried in 12.7 million fewer homes than ESPN was in May 2000, FX delivered increased impressions in every key demo versus ESPN's 2000 telecast - Adults 25-54, +9%; Adults 18-49, +19%; Adults 18-34, +33%; Men 18-34, +13%; Men 18-49, +9% and Men 25-54, +5%. "The performance of our first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race continues the momentum of FX, " said FX President Peter Liguori. "As with our NASCAR Busch Series races, the ratings and demo delivery show our strategy is working. Promoting NASCAR on FOX and FX can migrate the core fans, while attracting the new fans and continue to grow the sport. We believe these results validate the value of this property and our other programming for cable operators, advertisers and our audience."
5/9/01 Smokey Yunick dies  Legendary Indy and NASCAR car builder and engineer "Smokey" Yunick passed away this morning after a struggle with leukemia.  "He was perhaps the most creative racing mechanic of the 20th Century, who not only thought outside fo the box, but way up in the ionosphere," said Lowe's Motor Speedway president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler.  "To say he was a genius is not enough. His unique exploits in both Indy and NASCAR are legendary but his uncanny brain worked best when challenged by extra horsepower. From his renowned "secret" room at his Daytona shop where he let no man enter, horsepower of impossible levels came forth and scored may victories for legendary drivers like Roberts, Thomas, Rathman, Goldsmith and Turner," said Wheeler."
5/9/01 Texas Motor Speedway sues CART  4th UPDATE We have just learned that the lawsuit against CART is for $22 million.  Seems quite high, but then again lawsuits are typically filed much higher than what they are ultimately settled for. Earlier - Just read on an investor release regarding Speedway Motorsports stock that the actual fee was $2.1 million (and remember that the old sanction agreements had 10 - 20% annual increases).  It also said that ticket sales exceeded $5 million. When you add all of the race expenses, Texas was probably looking at a profit, but a small one when compared to the bundles of money that Winston Cup races make.  We are not sure what a Winston Cup race sanction fee is these days, but can you imagine selling 150,000 tickets at an average cost of, say $60 = $9 million dollars, and you make money from the television broadcast and the million-dollar-plus entitlement. So Mr. Gossage is probably happy to get out of his entire contract, but they probably are suing because the lost sanction fee, the expenses that they incurred, and revenues that could have potentially been developed elsewhere if Gossage's staff did not have to work on sales (like hospitality) for the CART event. That still of course does not answer why an alternate date was not negotiated, with CART making good for the extra expenses to put on a race twice that TMS was faced with.  It seems to us that scenario would have cost CART less money.  It's still strange that a lawsuit would be filed that quickly, almost as if it was planned the day of the cancellation as Mr. Gossage alluded to in his press conference. This entire mess is quite unfortunate, and now brings to three, the number of lawsuits against CART.  Earlier - What you are about to read is all unofficial, but we are told the real reason behind the lawsuit is because the sanction fee is too high for TMS to make a profit. Rumor has it that they paid the highest fee of all North American promoters...somewhere between $2.25 and $2.5 million. We are told that ticket sales were pathetically slow, and there was zero interest in title sponsorship. Gossage lowered the fee he was seeking for a title sponsor on several occasions, and what started out as a million dollar package was rumored to be as low as $200,000 in February and March when Firestone finally signed on. Gossage was also stumped by the fact that the constant questioning over the speeds at the track, complicated by most teams' refusal to test there in December, caused serious doubt over the future of the race...causing uncertainty with race sponsors and ticket buyers. By suing CART without giving much effort to negotiating a new date, TMS is hoping to get out of what was a 'bad deal'.........all three years of it. In looking back at it, perhaps it's better for all parties that CART does not race there.  At those speeds it's very dangerous for the drivers and, with wheels flying into the stands at the IRL races at Atlanta and Charlotte (similar tracks), it's dangerous for the fans too.  Speedway Motorsports stock dropped 20% on Tuesday.  Perhaps word is out that not only won't they make any money form CART races, they might be forced (by the insurance companies), on the grounds of fan safety, to cancel any future IRL races as well (at Texas and Atlanta.  Speedway Motorsports previously cancelled IRL races at Charlotte and Las Vegas due to huge losses).  This would mean that any hope for profits from open wheel racing in the years to come may be gone, and with new Winston Cup dates impossible to come by, the chance for future growth is limited to higher ticket prices for its Winston Cup events.  5/8/01 - CART has issued this statement - CART has learned that a legal action has been filed against it by Texas Motor Speedway. Apparently the complaint stems from CART's postponing of the Firestone Firehawk 600 April 29 in Fort Worth, Texas due to CART's concerns for the unprecedented physical demands placed upon its drivers.  CART finds it curious that Texas Motor Speedway apparently has decided that focusing its energies in a lawsuit against CART for hyperimaginative damages is more important than accepting the seriousness of the driver safety issues raised at its track. In fact, Texas Motor Speedway's legal action seems to belie its own statements immediately after the race was postponed. In a press release issued April 29, a Speedway executive was quoted as saying, "Driver safety is the number one concern for everyone. There are certainly enough tragedies in our sport and nobody wants anyone to get hurt." Naturally, CART intends to defend itself against this counterproductive and meritless action and believes it will prevail. CART also believes any legal action that trivializes driver and fan safety must be defended against at any cost. Earlier - Texas Motor Speedway announced today that they are suing CART for the cancellation of last weekends CART race.  This definitely ends any hope of CART ever racing at that track again.  During Eddie Gossage's press conference on the day of the cancellation, everyone listening could sense the adversarial tone in his voice that had already developed.  One would think the two sides would have attempted to work toward a new race date.  Texas Motor Speedway today filed suit in the 393rd District Court in Denton County against CART and several CART officials as a result of CART’s last-minute cancellation of the Firestone Firehawk 600 scheduled for Texas Motor Speedway on April 29, 2001.  “We wanted to avoid this suit, but CART has not been very responsive regarding the losses and damages suffered by Texas Motor Speedway and its fans,” said Eddie Gossage, speedway general manager. “The Speedway has begun the process of refunding millions of dollars worth of tickets held by fans. Unfortunately, CART has refused to refund the purse and sanction fee paid by the Speedway. Our fans deserve to get their money back, and the Speedway deserves to get its money back as well.  “Moreover, CART has not been responsive to our claim for reimbursement of millions of dollars in expenses for organizing and staging the event or for any damages Texas Motor Speedway has suffered as a result of CART’s wrongful cancellation of the race,” said Gossage.  The suit seeks the return of the purse and sanction fee in addition to compensation for expenses incurred by the Speedway, lost profits and other damages.  CART executive officers said that its drivers were suffering from a condition similar to vertigo due to the high speed of the cars that resulted in significant G-forces.  “The symptoms suffered and the G-forces are caused by driving too fast,” said Gossage. “CART is totally responsible for regulating the maximum speed of its race cars, not Texas Motor Speedway, and CART refused to regulate it. CART’s Chief Executive Officer addressed the speed issue and also told the media that Texas Motor Speedway was ready. In fact, both the Speedway and the fans were ready.”  In the suit, Texas Motor Speedway says that it urged CART as far back as October 2000 to schedule testing to make sure there were no problems with the speed of the cars. “We urged CART to adjust their rules so that the speeds would reach no more than 220-225 mph, the same speed the IRL cars have safely driven at Texas Motor Speedway for years,” said Gossage. The suit goes on to claim that CART’s race car speed issue was raised by a CART driver in March. CART CEO Joe Heitzler responded, claiming that the concerns of the CART driver had been addressed and would not pose an obstacle to proceeding with the race as planned. Heitzler stated that, “CART is ready, willing and able to hold the (race)…on April 29.”  In addition to CART, the lawsuit named as defendants Joe Heitzler, CEO of CART; Kirk Russell, Vice president of Competition for CART; Chris Kniefel, Chief Steward of CART; Wally Dallenbach, former Chief Steward and current consultant to CART; and Hal Whiteford, former President, Racing Operations for CART.
5/9/01 Bristol covers its track with dirt  Bristol Motor Speedway began covering its concrete surface with dirt yesterday in preparation for the facility's Dirt Weeks 2001. Over the course of the next few days, more than 14,000 cubic yards of dirt will be dumped onto the track for the UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series "Battle of Bristol" Presented by Free Service Tire and Advance Auto Parts (May 30-June 2) and the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "Channellock Challenge at Bristol" (June 8-9).

5/8/01 Team Rahal to run MGD colors again  A Miller Genuine Draft-sponsored car, featuring a black, red, gold and white design, will be driven by Papis at traditional events in Motegi, Japan (May 19) and Surfers Paradise, Australia (Oct. 28). The MGD champ car will also appear at two new events in Lausitz, Germany (Sept. 15) and Corby, England (Sept. 22). Papis' champ car will continue to campaign Miller Lite colors in the other 17 North American events on the 2001 CART schedule, including 14 in the United States, two in Canada and one in Mexico. "We are very pleased to bring the Miller Genuine Draft brand back into motorsports with these four international events," said Victor Chua, Miller Brewing Company's Vice President International. "MGD is our flagship brand internationally and has been growing rapidly throughout the world -- just like the CART series. Our plan to feature the MGD race car in these events will enable us to take advantage of an outstanding international marketing opportunity in these four countries." The new MGD race car will feature a familiar black paint scheme that made the Miller Genuine Draft racing cars of the early 1990s extremely popular with fans and won several awards for paint design. Miller Genuine Draft-backed cars won the 1992 CART championship with driver Bobby Rahal, as well as 25 stock car events with driver Rusty Wallace. A MGD-sponsored dragtser, driven by Larry Dixon, also won the prestigious U.S. Nationals drag racing title in 1995.  "We, at Team Rahal, are very excited to have Miller Genuine Draft back in motorsports and especially with our organization," said Bobby Rahal, the three-time CART series champion and 1986 Indy 500 winner. "The MGD colors will always have a soft spot in my heart after winning the 1992 CART championship for the brand. MGD was instrumental in my ownership of a team in CART and the formation of Team Rahal. Having MGD back in racing is a treat for me personally as well as Max and all of our CART operation."
Casey Mears crashes at Indy  Rookie Casey Mears was taken to Methodist Hospital for observation after crashing into the 1st turn wall during practice Tuesday.  Mears was quickly out of the car but complained of back pain. The 23-year-old driver had just completed a lap at 216.573 mph when his car spun out coming out of the first turn. He made a half-spin and struck the wall with the rear of the car. Former winner Arie Luyendyk, following Mears on the track, also spun to avoid the debris but did not make contact with Mears or the wall and was not injured. 
5/8/01 Scott Dixon on RPM2Night  PacWest Racing Group driver, Scott Dixon, will appear tonight on RPM2night at 7:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2. Dixon, driver of the #18 Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota, will be on hand to discuss his big win at the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix Presented by Toyota at Nazareth. With his win, Dixon became the youngest driver ever to win a major open-wheel racing event on Sunday. Dixon became the first CART rookie ever to win his first FedEx Championship Series start on an oval. His victory from 23rd starting position represented the second-deepest point on the starting grid from which anyone has driven to victory.
5/8/01 Bodine and Spencer fast in Lowes testing  Todd Bodine and Jimmy Spencer topped the speed charts Tuesday as testing hit high gear for the Coca-Cola 600, The Winston and the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Bodine was fastest among 13 NASCAR Winston Cup teams preparing for the 600-mile run on Sunday, May 27, and NASCAR’s annual all-star battle on Saturday, May 19. Driving the No. 66 Ford Thunderbird, Bodine posted a lap of 29.9 seconds, 180.602 mph, on the unofficial stopwatches. Young Ryan Newman, who set the overall Lowe’s Motor Speedway track record last October in an ARCA car, was second fastest among the Winston Cup contingent at 179.104 mph. Rounding out the top-five on the stopwatches were Dale Jarrett (178.336), Casey Atwood (178.218) and Ken Schrader (178.100). Fresh from his Busch Series victory Saturday night in Richmond, Va., Spencer was quickest on the unofficial stopwatches as 20 NASCAR Busch Series teams prepared for the May 26 running of the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300. Spencer’s team had both a Chevrolet and a Ford in the garage, but his lap of 29.97 seconds, 180.180 mph, came in the Chevrolet. Spencer left the test early due to a prior commitment and Matt Hutter drove the car during the afternoon. Defending Busch Series champion Jeff Green was second fastest at 179.820 mph with Bobby Hamilton Jr. third at 179.401. Randy Lajoie (178.218), Joe Nemechek (177.223) and Ricky Hendrick (176.991) rounded the top five. There were no spins or accidents during the 13 hours of testing.
New TV technology for Indy  A revolutionary form of television technology will be used during coverage of the opening weekend of time trials for the 85th Indianapolis 500 on May 12-13, bringing a new and exciting element to viewers.  Dartfish's stunning SimulCam(tm) images will be produced in conjunction with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and used during the ABC Sports and ESPN/ESPN2 telecasts of the first weekend of time trials.  In addition to MBNA Pole Day on May 12, the SimulCam(tm) technology also will be used during coverage of second-day qualifying May 13. Much of the elite 33-car starting field for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" will be determined on those two days.  The SimulCam(tm) technology makes it possible for the qualifying laps of two different race cars to appear on the screen at the same time. Using the technology, the television producers will be able to demonstrate to viewers the varied paths that drivers take around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.  "This technology will give the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League the edge in communicating to the viewer a clearer understanding of exactly how the greatest racing drivers in the world vie for the richest pole position in auto racing," said Buddy McAtee, Indianapolis Motor Speedway assistant vice president of broadcast communications & business development.  "In short, the technology clearly illustrates the different line each driver takes to find the quickest way around the world's greatest oval. For the first time in Indy history, the viewer will see it on the screen. The Indy Racing League is all about fan access, and we want that access to extend to our television audience, as well."
5/8/01 Minardi technical director jumps ship to Toyota  UPDATE Minardi says they will now sue Toyota for snatching Brunner.  5/8/01 - Minardi's technical director Gustav Brunner has left the team to join Toyota as it gears up for its Formula 1 debut in 2002. The 50-year-old Austrian has joined the Toyota Motorsport team as chief designer. The move comes days after the Toyota's technical director Andre de Cortanze left the project. "We are extremely pleased that Gustav has agreed to head up our design team," said Toyota Motorsport GmbH president Ove Andersson. "He brings to us extensive Formula 1 experience, working for over 20 years with various teams. Having covered just about every technical aspect of Formula 1, he is a guy who can contribute significantly to our project." Brunner said he was sorry to leave Minardi, just as the team was humbling the likes of Benetton-Renault at race weekends with its star driver Fernando Alonso. "I feel a little pain leaving my existing team," said Brunner. "But this is a fantastic opportunity not to be missed. To join Toyota from the start of their project is fantastic. From what I have seen so far, TMG has a good team of people and all the facilities to really push forward the positive development. I'm looking forward to what will be a busy, but very exciting time ahead."
5/8/01 Mansell to drive Champ Car again  Rockingham England has announced that Nigel Mansell will get behind the wheel of a Champ car again on May 26th for the Grand Opening of Rockingham Speedway in Corby, England.
5/8/01 Ovals, a dying breed?  A reader writes - when is CART going to see that oval track racing for 'Indy cars' is dead?  Nazareth was the latest example of the complete collapse of open wheel oval track racing. 25,000 - pathetic.  CART looked like a loser series on TV.  The IRL is no better.  Their grandstands are just as empty.  Attendance at oval tracks has decreased for the last 10 years with no end in sight.  Let the IRL have the ovals.  Let them deal with the financial blood bath and safety concerns.  CART should race where it's cars excel, the road courses.  I vote for getting rid of the oval tracks and becoming the premier road racing series in the USA.  Let's see a race at Sebring, Watkins Glen, Road Atlanta, downtown Miami, San Francisco, etc.  Race on the real road courses in Europe, not the ovals.  They have beautiful road courses in Europe, the best in the world.  Ted from California
5/8/01 Lights: Dan Wheldon writes  Texas Motor Speedway is one of the best facilities I have ever been to. I had been there only once before, just to watch a tire test take place, and I was very keen to get on the track after listening to the drivers comment about it. A fast, high banked, bumpy oval was certainly going to be a new challenge for me, which I was looking forward to. The final result at Texas was not the result I or my team was looking for. However, looking on the positive side, we were one of the quickest cars on the track in every session, which makes us feel confident for the rest of the season.  Texas was not a particularly busy race, as far as sponsorship commitments go, so that allowed my engineer and I plenty of time to go over our weekend plan. Unlike the previous two races, we had a great deal of track time before qualifying. This extra time allowed us to be able to work on our case the amount of banking in the corners makes it very easy to be flat-out all the way around the lap.  On Friday, we had two half-hour practice sessions and then qualifying. Both practices again went very well. I spent the majority of the practice sessions running on my own, without being in the draft. I found the qualifying format on an oval to be very enjoyable. The three warm-up laps, followed by two timed laps, is very similar to how we used to qualify for kart races, both in England and Europe. In the 2000 season of the CART Dayton Indy Lights Championship the previous winners on the Super Speedways had started from the pole or on the outside pole, so we knew it was very important to qualify right at the front of the field. However, qualifying did not go as expected. I knew, from the moment I completed my first warm-up lap, that we had made a wrong call on a certain element of the car set-up, but I had to maximize what we had so I de to rest against the wall. This was a sad end to what I thought was turning out to be another high-scoring points finish for me and the PacWest Lights team.  When I have disappointing weekends like I did in Texas, I can’t wait to get back in the car again. In the middle of this month, I have a two-day test coming up on my favorite oval, the Milwaukee Mile. In the meantime, I will be training hard with the crew from PitFit. Now that the weather is nice here in Indianapolis, we train outside quite a bit, which I really enjoy. The Indianapolis 500 is also coming up, so I will definitely be there watching the practicing, qualifying and the race. That is one race I would love to have the chance to compete in and it is certainly on my agenda for 2002. 
5/7/01 With no HANS Device, teenager dies driving in Washington  A NASCAR style car is perhaps one of the most unsafe race cars one can drive. Built like Sherman tanks using 1950's 'tubular steel' technology, with no state-of-the-art materials like those found in the higher forms of motorsport, and with no crumple zones front or side to speak of, crashing in one can be fatal, instantly.   A 17-year-old girl is the latest fatality from violent head movement in a stock-car crash.  The investigating coroner said Saturday he “would want to say” that a head-restraint device might have saved Ashley Bergman, a high school senior from Everett, Wash., killed Thursday while participating in a race-driving school at a NASCAR track near Yakima, Wash.  Yakima County Coroner Maurice Rice said Bergman died of massive head injuries, including “a fractured skull."  Speculation is that her head apparently pushed the window netting out far enough for her head to hit the concrete wall when her car side-slapped the wall, though that has not been verified.  The HANS Device would have helped there too.  But Rice described the injury as somewhat different from the specific basilar skull fractures that have killed four NASCAR drivers, with a fifth dying of similar injuries, in the past 12 months.  Whether a HANS or similar device might have saved Bergman, “I don't know,” Rice said Saturday. “I would want to say maybe it would have.”  It has not yet been determined whether the car she was driving was built to NASCAR specs, but given she died just as quickly as Adam Petty, Tony Roper, Kenny Irwin and Dale Earnhardt, it's likely her car was just as unforgiving as theirs. Like all the other accidents, including Dale Earnhardt's, her impact with the wall was estimated to be around 50 MPH.  Our heartfelt wishes go out to Ashley's family, and our prayers to all current 'stock' car drivers worldwide. Ralph Nader coined the Chevrolet Corvair 'unsafe at any speed' back in the 60's.  Stock cars are earning that title these days.  Full story
Rain ends Indy practice early  There have been two constants in the first two days of practice for the 85th Indianapolis 500: Rain ending practice early, and Greg Ray leading the speed charts.  Defending pole winner Ray was the fastest driver at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the second consecutive day, leading the speed charts May 7 with a top lap of 40.363 seconds, 222.976 mph in the No. 2T Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. He was fastest on Indianapolis Star Opening Day on May 6 at 224.301 in the same car.  "We've only ran two cars so far," Ray said. "Really, we're just trying two different setups. I was pleasantly surprised this afternoon. I had a feeling like I really wasn't going to like the setup. But I was pleasantly surprised."  Ray also was third fastest overall at 221.130 in the No. 22 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, the other Team Menard entry for this race. No driver has been assigned to that car.  Strong winds slowed the cars on the 2.5-mile oval before rain washed out practice with approximately three hours remaining in the schedule. Rain ended practice about 10 minutes early Sunday.  Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk was second fastest at 221.340 in the No. 5 Meijer G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Eliseo Salazar was fourth fastest at 220.634 in the No. 14 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, while Scott Sharp rounded out the top five at 220.340 in the No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.  While today's top speed was slower than Opening Day, more cars found speed in the blustery conditions. Seven cars exceeded 220 mph; only four broke that barrier Sunday.  Michael Andretti turned his first official practice laps at the Speedway since 1995, ending up 19th overall at 217.636 in the No. 39T Motorola/Archipelago Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.  In the major off-track story of the day, Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi announced that 1996-97 Indy Racing League champion Tony Stewart and 1996 CART champion Jimmy Vasser will replace his CART rookies, Bruno Junqueira and Nicolas Minassian this year at Indy.  Stewart also will drive in the NASCAR Winston Cup race in Charlotte, N.C., on May 27, the same day as the Indianapolis 500, for his full-time owner Joe Gibbs. Vasser rejoins his old boss at Indy after they parted company in late 2000 after six seasons together. Vasser now drives full time in CART for Patrick Racing.  Ganassi's new drivers wasted no time after the announcement, each turning laps. Vasser was 10th fastest overall at 219.381 in the No. 44T Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Stewart was 26th at 215.474 in the No. 33T Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone.  The first incident of the event occurred this afternoon, as rookie Cory Witherill nudged the inside wall between Turns 1 and 2 after performing a full spin in the No. 16 WSA/MOTORS/Indy Regency Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. He was unhurt. A total of 39 cars and 32 drivers turned 1,070 laps today. Day 2 Practice Quotes
Soft Wall and soft car demo planned  UPDATE It looks like our suggestions (article 1 | article 2) are getting some serious attention by the NASCAR community.  Speedway Motorsports Inc. president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, and others, have been working over the past several months on developing an impact absorption system for NASCAR race cars and plans to present it to the public within the next two weeks.  The system would utilize a yet-to-be-named material to be placed in the front end of cars to help absorb the energy of a frontal impact. Winston Cup series director Gary Nelson said Saturday that NASCAR has been involved in a project of its own regarding a front-end impact absorption system, as well as additional testing of new "soft wall" technology.  4/19/01 - Safari Associates Inc. of Amsterdam will conduct a live demonstration of its new "soft wall" technology at the Indianapolis Raceway Park. The wall is constructed of molecuthane, a patented, energy-absorbing material originally developed for the military. It is designed to reduce impact G-force by as much as 70 percent. The crash demonstration is planned for early July (2001) using NASCAR Craftsman-type trucks.  Related article
5/7/01 Texas update  UPDATE A Texas reader writes - The talk of how hot it gets in TX in June is true, but I have been at races just as hot at MIS, and it's a 500 miler. Last year's IRL night race was rained-out and run the next day in the TX heat. If a double header ever happened, it seems to me it would have to be a Sat. night and Sun afternoon pair of races. 5/7/01 - In talks we have had with various personnel throughout the weekend in Nazareth, we don't get the sense that the Texas race will be rescheduled.  Although the road course wings, such as those used at Road America, will likely do the trick to slow speeds enough, it doesn't look as though a suitable date will be found to satisfy CART and Texas Motor Speedway. In addition, CART does not know what effect the changes to the track that will happen this summer, will do to their cars. It leaves a lot of uncertainty, and with CART's tight schedule, the only date we see is a doubleheader with the IRL on the weekend of June 10th.  However, it is so hot in Texas in June, it would have to be a night race, and with the IRL already running on Saturday night, they would have to shoehorn in two races on the same night, one starting, say, around 6:00 PM, followed by the other one at around 8:30 PM.  That would give the fans a full night of non-stop action. Don't hold you breath though. MC 
5/7/01 Audio from Nazareth (check back throughout weekend)
Scott Dixon Post-race press conference (16:56 min.)
Tom Michaels
Race re-cap (0:44 min.)
Scott Dixon
post-race comments (0:23 min.)
Paul Tracy
post-race comments (0:27 min.)
Dario Franchitti
post-race comments, note New Zealand anthem in background (2:13 min.)
Kenny Brack
post-race comments (0:07 min.)
Michael Andretti post-race comments (2:37 min.)
Keith Wiggins
talks about team success, hopes for 2-car team & Texas (4:05 min.)
Michele Jourdain Jr.
talks about recent success and chance in Nazareth (2:21 min.)
Pole Conference
various comments made during the pole position press conf. (12:06 min.)
Bruno Junqueira
says he was happy with car in qualifying (0:11 min.)
Kenny Brack talks having his troubles behind him now (0:12 min.)
Kenny Brack
talks about his qualifying being too conservative (0:53 min.)
Kenny Brack says he can't predict who will win race (0:21 min.)
Max Papis talks about how spin put himself in difficult position in qualifying (0:25 min.)
Max Papis talks about his qualifying result and the race (0:17 min.)
Tom Michaels
summarizes CART qualifying (0:37 min.)
Roger Penske talks about Nazareth situation and CART/IRL split (27:30 min.)
Adrian Fernandez
talks about new team, Texas and more (2:35 min.)
Michael Andretti talks about a whole host of CART issues (5:37 min.)
Paul Tracy talks about tricks to Nazareth (1:41 min.)
Michael Andretti talks about car problems Nazareth (1:00 min.)
Dario Franchitti talks about Nazareth so far and Texas cancellation (2:39 min.)
Gil de Ferran talks about getting Penske's 100th win last year at Nazareth (0:37 min.)
Tom Michaels gives Nazareth preview (0:44 min.)
5/7/01 Fittipaldi drops in on fan  While Fittipaldi was on his way home from the track on Friday, he stopped at the house of an apparent fan who had a life-size standup of him in one window and posters in others. No one was home though so Fittipaldi had a photo taken of himself in the front yard before leaving a note at the door. The photos are now on his website. The fan, Jessica Heckler, contacted Fittipaldi via the email address he left at her door and also appeared in his line during the all-driver autograph session at the track on Saturday. She told him that it was her lifelong goal to meet him and invited he and his wife Andrea to stop by again at the end of the day but Fittipaldi was scheduled to attend a party at Mario Andretti's house that evening and could not stop by. 
5/5/01 Atlantics - Tony Ave races to win from pole Polesitter Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) won today's Toyota Atlantic series race at Nazareth over Hoover Orsi with Rudolfo Lavin rounding out the podium positions. 
5/6/01 Dixon spins in warm-up

Scott Dixon lost control coming out of the 4th turn in morning warm-up (Photo by D. Belliveau)

5/6/01 Single Probe refueling now mandatory

(Right) Starting with Nazareth, single probe refueling is now mandatory. (Photo: Jim Yeager)
(Left) Air jack hose is now behind the car (Photo by Doug Belliveau)

5/6/01 CART seriously considering return to Nazareth CART President Joe Heitzler issued a press release this morning saying "following our race in Japan (May 19), Rich Henley, our new Senior VP of Marketing, and I plan to meet with Craig Rust, President of Nazareth Speedway, and other International Speedway Corp. officials.  At that time we will review the options relating to CART racing at Nazareth Speedway."
5/5/01 Atlantics - rain washes out qualifying Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) won the pole by virtue of a rainout, for Round Two of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship at the Nazareth Speedway in Nazareth Pennsylvania. With rain washing out the qualifying session, the starting grid and pole were determined by combined practice speeds from Friday and Saturday sessions.  Ave turned the fastest lap during Friday morning's practice session with a speed of 146.648 mph (23.223 seconds) earning his first career Atlantic pole. "I feel really good," remarked a satisfied Tony Ave. "We've been competitive all weekend. David (Bruns) has really done a good job with the car. So hopefully, we'll have a good car tomorrow because at a place like this, the man with the best car wins. I hope that man will be me." Ave will be gunning for his first win since 1996 where he won in Miami/Homestead. Even though Ave won the pole, he was not awarded the bonus championship point since there was no official qualifying.  Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) will line up on the outside of row one for the third time in his career with other shotgun starts at Miami/Homestead and Road America in 2000. "We're going to be starting second which is not bad," said the Brazilian driver. "It's really a good position to start. We think we have a good car for the race and I'd like to keep myself close in the championship. I feel a little disappointed with no qualifying because I thought we had a good chance to win the pole." Orsi, also set his fastest speed on Friday morning with a lap of 146.522 mph (23.243 seconds). Rodolfo Lavin (Michael Shank Racing/Corona Swift) earned his best Atlantic starting position on Saturday morning with a speed of 145.794 mph (23.359 seconds). "I'm pretty happy and the team is pretty happy also with the third starting position," quoted the first-year driver from Mexico. "The team is looking forward to winning the race and I am as well. We're going to try and make it a clean and consistent race, try to finish on the podium, and get some points for the championship."  Long Beach winner and series point leader, David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) has struggled most of the weekend here at Nazareth and will start 9th after dominating most of event at Long Beach. "We are pretty disappointed not being able to qualify," said the Vancouver, Canada driver. "We felt we could have been much better than what we had shown in practice because we have been fighting the setup all weekend, but were making gains. I feel we have a good shot at podium. It's a long race." Rutledge sits six points ahead of Hoover Orsi, in the Championship with 22 points.  Tomorrow's 65-lap event will start at 10:30 a.m. EST as Sunday's opening race of the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix Presented by Toyota. The race will be preceded by a 15-minute warm-up session starting at 8:30 a.m. EST. Weather forecast call for clear skies but temperatures are expected to be much cooler than what the teams practiced in throughout the weekend.
5/5/01 Clarence Cagle to miss Indy 500  Clarence Cagle, who supervised rebuilding of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after Tony Hulman purchased the famed racetrack in 1945, this May will miss his first Indianapolis 500-Mile Race since the end of World War II.  Cagle, who will be 87 on July 29, suffered a stroke in his Ormond Beach, Fla., home on April 18. His doctor advised him not to make the trip to Indianapolis.  He and his wife, Gladys, have moved to an assisted living facility in Holly Hill, Fla.  Cagle, a native of Terre Haute, Ind., was working for Hulman when the Speedway was bought from Eddie Rickenbacker for $750,000. Cagle assisted in getting the decrepit track - neglected for four years during World War II -- ready for the 1946 race. Later as superintendent, he directed the constant construction that turned the Speedway into a modern racing palace over the next 25 years. His final task was erecting the infield Hall of Fame Museum, a pet Hulman project.  "He worked 'em, but I don't think he saw any of 'em," Gladys Cagle said about the races. "We're going to miss it."  Cagle retired in 1977. But he continued to work as a consultant for racetracks around the country into his 80's, always returning to his roots at Indy each May.  The Cagles' new address is: 6 Flagler Lane, Bishop's Glen, Holly Hill, Fla. 32117-2525. The phone is: (386) 226-9339.
5/5/01 Nazareth may widen Turn 1  In talking to the press today at Nazareth, Speedway President Craig Rust said he has talked to CART and to NASCAR about widening the kink (turn 1) in front of the pits.  The widening, if done, will be to the inside, which will shorten the lap distance, already just under 1.0 miles.  The idea is to open the track up a little to enhance the chance for passing. Right now the kink is a major lift, and needs a slight tap of the brake to get through. MC 
5/5/01 Helton - we have no vendetta in Earnhardt case  NASCAR president Mike Helton reiterated Friday that Dale Earnhardt's seat belt was found separated right after his fatal crash and said NASCAR isn't interested in outside opinions. "We have no vendetta. We have no masterminded cover-up," Helton said at Richmond International Raceway. Helton declined to take questions during a news conference, which followed his meeting with Winston Cup drivers and car owners about safety. He also met with the Busch Grand National teams Thursday night. "There's no question in our mind that at the end of that accident, that that belt was separated," Helton said of Earnhardt's 180 mph crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500 Feb. 18. "This investigation is to find out why, when and what, if any role, it played in the accident." 
5/5/01 Super Speedway still playing  "SUPER SPEEDWAY," which opened in 1997 but is still showing in several theaters around the world: Niagara Falls IMAX Theatre in Niagara Falls, Ontario, the Tombaugh Space Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and the National Geographic IMAX Theatre in Victoria, British Columbia. 
5/5/01 Notes from Nazareth II  Mario Andretti was driving a new 2001 Z06 Corvette at the track today. He also bought a 2000 Lamborghini Countach too.  He says the Corvette is the best sports car for the money. The Z06 is the high-performance model. The feeling around the Paddock is that if CART goes back to Texas (big if) they will run the road course wings and bodywork.  It's expected that speeds would be in the 205 to 215 MPH range.  The cars will definitely be wide-open all the way around, but they would be planted to the track and put on an IRL-Type race, which should be enjoyable to the fans.  IRL cars also run very high downforce.  We suspect the road course wings will make the engines quite thirsty, putting fuel management at a premium.
5/5/01 Wallace considering Playboy sponsorship Winston Cup driver Kenny Wallace obviously believes so. Wallace, driver of the financially strapped No. 27 Eel River Racing Pontiac, acknowledged that the team recently discussed the possibility of accepting a sponsorship from Playboy magazine. Wallace defended the decision to pursue sponsorship from a pornographic magazine by stating that Playboy offered a "cleaner" form of nudity. "It was Playboy, not Penthouse. That's a lot better, because Playboy is a little bit cleaner magazine than Penthouse," Wallace said. "(Playboy publisher) Hugh Hefner is a pretty cool guy."
5/4/01 Ads on Wheels Track observers at Nazareth were worried that the Newman/Haas cars of 
Cristiano da Matta and Christian Fittipaldi were having brake problems when they noticed an orange glow coming from within the wheels. But they were actually noticing a new advertising technology developed by UK firm Adflash Limited. The WheelFX technology allows a constantly visible logo to be displayed on each wheel of a race car as it moves at speed. It utilizes LEDs which, when correctly placed and programmed, display a clearly visible static logo on the car's wheels whether it is braking, accelerating or cornering. "I think WheelFX will revolutionize motorsport sponsorship, giving sponsors a new way of standing out from the crowd," remarked Newman/Haas co-owner Carl Haas. Adflash wants to introduce the WheelFX technology to Formula 1 later this year. 
5/4/01 Dee Zee to sponsor Cope Dee Zee, Inc. has signed on as a major sponsor of Derrike Cope and his #37 Pontiac. Cope's inaugural race with Dee Zee's colors will be the Winston NASCAR Open, May 19.  Cope, a past Daytona 500 winner, races his Pontiac in a limited schedule in the NASCAR series. He is the driver/ owner of Quest Motor Racing team, an analyst for Fox Sports television's Sunday pre- and post-race shows. "Derrike is the right driver for us," says Ron Shivers, Dee Zee, Inc. president.  The leading light truck accessory manufacturer will back its first title sponsorship in national motorsports with a new television ad campaign, posters and POP materials featuring Cope. "NASCAR enthusiasts are growing faster than any other sport audience," adds Shivers, "And the fans are a perfect match-up, market-wise, with Dee Zee." Cope's #37 will carry Dee Zee as a primary sponsor at the Winston Open in Charlotte and will run Dee Zee identification as a major associate sponsor throughout the remainder of the 2001 Winston Cup season. 
5/4/01 Fashion model to drive pace car at Indy 500  Fashion model Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp will drive the Oldsmobile Bravada Official Pace Vehicle at the start of the 85th Indianapolis 500 on May 27. Irwin-Mellencamp is the first woman to pace "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," while Oldsmobile's all-new 2002 Bravada becomes the first Sport Utility Vehicle to pace the world's most famous auto race.  "I am delighted to have the opportunity to drive the Official Pace Vehicle at the Indianapolis 500," said Irwin-Mellencamp, wife of music legend and Indiana native John Mellencamp. "The start of the race, with thousands of spectators in the grandstands and the roar of the engines, will be a very dramatic moment. I am excited to be involved."Irwin-Mellencamp continues the legacy of celebrities that have paced the Indianapolis 500, the world's largest single-day sporting event. Other celebrities to pace the "500" include James Garner, Jay Leno and Anthony Edwards. "The Speedway has always been about innovation and breaking new ground, and we are very excited that a celebrity of Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp's distinction will become the first woman ever to pace the Indianapolis 500," said Tony George, president and chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Elaine is a fan of Indy Racing, and our entire family of employees is excited that she has chosen to join us for the 85th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
5/4/01 Notes from Nazareth Dario Franchitti said he was dizzy for quite some time after getting out of the car at Texas on Friday, that after only 12 laps.  Paul Tracy said he never felt the symptoms but he never ran more than 15 laps. Both said it was the right thing to do to postpone the race.  Dario thinks the cars need to be slowed about 15 MPH to go back there and race.  Michael Andretti said his car is way off so far today at Nazareth.  Dario said the he was just trying to get the car comfortable for the race.  All said that passing will be hard, like it always is at Nazareth.  Jeff Andretti still might be able to put a deal together for Indy......last minute.  Everyone one we have talked to so far this weekend says it was the right thing to do to postpone Texas.  Many people feel a CART/IRL doubleheader at Texas would be interesting.
5/4/01 Gugelmin's son dies 2nd UPDATE We are told by the team, that at this time the team will not run the car this weekend out of respect for Big. Mo. Full Story  Earlier - We are sad to report, this story is true.  Our condolences go out to the Gugelmin family. Big Mo is not here in Nazareth and we are waiting to hear who will drive for him this weekend.  Earlier Unconfirmed reports say Giuliano, 6-year-old, son of CART PacWest Team's racing driver Maurício Gugelmin, died yesterday, in Miami, a victim of pulmonary disease. There's nothing confirmed if Gugelmin will take part or not at Nazareth, this Sunday. This is one report we hope is not true.  Stay tuned.
5/4/01 Marco Andretti wants to drive Champ Cars We spoke to 14-year old Marco Andretti (right) today at Nazareth as he was watching his father Michael practice.  He said he is racing 100 cc go-karts around the country.  We asked him if he wanted to drive Champ Cars someday.  He said, yes, he hopes so.  He was pretty much winning everything locally and not he's finding the competition a little tougher on the national scene, but that's exactly what he needs to see if he has the 'right stuff'.
5/4/01 IRL benefits from DRIVEN too Below we reported that NASCAR tracks are taking advantage of the movie DRIVEN by giving away ticket discounts to movie goers.  Now we get a report that Atlanta Motor Speedway staff was giving out free tickets to the IRL race last weekend at the DRIVEN premier in Atlanta last weekend. 
5/4/01 Fan sponsorship chance at The Glen Watkins Glen International is once again offering fans the opportunity to make their mark at New York’s largest sporting event through lap sponsorships at this year’s Global Crossing @ The Glen NASCAR Winston Cup race, August 12, 2001. The lap sponsorship program will offer fans a chance to put their family or business name on one or more laps around the 2.45-mile circuit and all lap sponsors will be highlighted in the official Global Crossing @ The Glen souvenir program. Each lap sponsor will receive two reserved seats in the Turn 10 grandstands, two passes for access to the Turn 10 Hospitality Village, one official race program and two race day Pit Tour passes. Fans wanting to take advantage of this opportunity should contact the Watkins Glen ticket office at 607-535-2481. 
5/3/01 Scenes from Texas

(Left) Bryan Herta waits to qualify.  (Right) Paul Tracy was looking a bit cocky on this day
Photos courtesy of JD Hamilton

Wheel goes into stands again. Are high-banks too dangerous for CART and the IRL? 2nd UPDATE Indy Racing League officials now say eight wheels broke free in last weekend's fiery 11-car accident at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Seven landed harmlessly on the race track. One did not. "We got lucky because this could have been a lot worse," said Brian Barnhart, the IRL's vice president of operations who is responsible for this month's Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "In terms of damage, that was the most spectacular we've had in our history."  4/30/01 - 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
Atlantics: Rookie Grant Ryley sets pace  Nazareth, Penn. (May 3, 2001) - World Speed Motorsports driver Grant Ryley topped the time sheets for today's open test session at Nazareth Speedway, in preparation for this weekend's second round of the 2001 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Ryley, in his first appearance on Nazareth's one-mile oval set a fast lap of 23.407 seconds (145.495 mph) to claim the top spot during today's final round of Atlantic testing.  "This place is just awesome," said Ryley, who drives the #14 Northwest Speedwerx/ Cupertino Electric/Velocity Ventures/Del Monaco Specialty Foods Swift. "Case (Montgomery, who won the St. Louis round of last year's Atlantic series for World Speed) told me I'd like it…and he was right. It's a driver's oval, not just flat all of the time. The biggest trick is passing. It's a single groove track and it's hard to get a run on someone, but we did alright. The car is excellent. We were running third quick for most of the sessions, then Mike (Doyle - Ryley's engineer) made a few changes that were perfect. We think we'll be in good shape for this weekend. After Long Beach, we're ready for a strong finish."  Joining Ryley on the two-car World Speed squad is rookie Tom Wood, of Calgary, Canada, who is making his series debut this weekend. Wood's introduction to Atlantic racing resulted in a visit with the Turn 4 wall as he began to familiarize himself with the Nazareth oval.  "I think I learned what not to do until the tires have warmed up," said Wood, who will campaign the Atlantic oval events this year for World Speed with support from Super 8 motels. "I was just coming up to speed and the rear swapped ends. I did some damage to the wing and gearbox, but we'll be fine for Friday's sessions. I know the team can put me up front…I just have some learning to do with these cars, and I can learn a lot from Grant and Chuck (West, team owner).  Ryley was followed by Hoover Orsi and Tony Ave during today's sessions. He most recently captured second in the 2000 Star Mazda Pro Series - Western Division championship while driving for World Speed. His record included three wins, six podiums and three poles, as well as third overall in the Best Western National Championship series. In 1999, Ryley finished second in the rookie championship by virtue of one win, three podiums and two poles. For 1997 and 1998, he competed in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Western Series and continues to serve as an instructor at the Skip Barber Racing School. 
Skinner joins Cup crowd at Loudon  Mike Skinner has joined fellow NASCAR Winston Cup Series stars Kevin Harvick, Steve Park, Kenny Wallace and Jimmy Spencer in the field for the May 12 CVS/pharmacy 200 Presented by Bayer NASCAR Busch Series race at New Hampshire International Speedway. Skinner will pilot the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Rockwell Automation Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Skinner was the first champion of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 1995. In 1996, Mike won the pole in his first start at "The Magic Mile". He went on to lead nine laps in the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at NHIS. An engine problem forced Mike out of the race early. Richard Childress moved Skinner from his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team to the brand new No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet NASCAR Winston Cup Series team in 1997. Mike has registered one top-five finish in his eight NASCAR Winston Cup Series starts at "The Magic Mile". Skinner believes a trip to Victory Lane might be in his future. "We are optimistic about Loudon," Skinner says. "The Rockwell team always gives me a great handling car right out of the box. If you handle well at Loudon, chances are very good that you will win at Loudon."
NASCAR refuses to meet with Simpson  Bill Simpson flew into Daytona Beach today to meet with NASCAR and ask them to issue a statement that his seat belts were not responsible for Dale Earnhardt's death.  Simpson felt that was justified once someone came forward with a video tape showing one of the EMT's going into Earnhardt's car with a knife and another EMT admitting publicly that 1) the belt was not cut when he reached in to undo Earnhardt's belts and 2) someone yelled to get a knife to cut the belts.  NASCAR made Simpson wait in the lobby of their offices, and then told him they would not meet with him because no meeting was ever scheduled or agreed to.  Simpson feels NASCAR has ruined his business and made him endure numerous death threats because they issued a statement saying the left lap belt was found broken the day after the accident and they implied that contributed to Earnhardt's death.  We have a feeling this battle is just beginning and it's going to get a lot uglier before it is over.
Childress joins with Foyt for Indy 500  NASCAR Winston Cup team owner Richard Childress will be the co-owner of A.J. Foyt’s No. 41 Dallara/Oldsmobile to be driven by Robby Gordon in this year’s Indianapolis 500. The four-time Indy 500 winner revealed that he has filed an amendment to his entry for the No. 41 listing Childress as a co-owner.  "I was talking to Richard at Talladega," Foyt said, "and asked him if he wanted to be my partner in the second car at Indy this year. Richard and I have been friends for many, many years and I know he has enjoyed coming to Indy in the past, so I figured I’d give him a reason to come again. The difference is he’ll be a team owner this year."  "Being involved in some way in the Indy 500 is something I've always wanted to do," said Childress. "A.J. and I have been friends for a long time, and there isn't anyone else I'd rather be a co-owner with for that race. We have both been fortunate enough to get to Victory Lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and I think we have a real shot at getting there together this year with Robby, who is a very talented driver."
NASCAR benefits (more than CART) from CART's DRIVEN movie  We have yet to see a similar effort from any CART race promoters.  Moviegoers of the movie "Driven" will be offered a special ticket price for the November 9-11 Pennzoil 400 weekend, the return of NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series racing to Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Regal Deal begins Friday, May 4 and runs through Friday, June 8. The Regal Deal allows moviegoers of the movie "Driven" at any of ten participating Regal Cinemas in South Florida the opportunity to purchase a two-day Pennzoil 400 weekend ticket and receive a second two-day ticket at half price. In addition, moviegoers of 'Driven" at participating Regal Cinemas will be eligible to enter a drawing for a Richard Petty Riding Experience. The November 9-11 weekend features the Pennzoil 400 for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series on Sunday, and Saturday's Miami 300, the NASCAR Busch Series season finale. Friday's events include practice and qualifying for both the Pennzoil 400 and Miami 300. Miami fans had the opportunity to see the NASCAR Winston Cup champion crowned in the two previous running's of the Pennzoil 400 with Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte celebrating their respective 1999 and 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup titles following either race. Tony Stewart won both races. To order the best available reserved seats, call (305) 230-RACE, visit the Speedway's official web site,, or any Ticketmaster Ticket Center. 
5/3/01 Technical Director for Toyota F1 team leaves.  Technical director Andre de Cortanze has left Toyota's Formula One team and Toyota F1 officials say there are no plans to find an immediate replacement. In a statement released on Thursday, Toyota said de Cortanze and the team had "mutually agreed" to leave immediately. De Cortanze had been with Toyota the past four years having previously worked on their Le Mans effort. The technical directors position will be handled by a committee headed by Toyota Motorsport president Ove Andersson. Andersson says the changes will give the team "a more solid foundation" on which to build the F1 race team. Andersson added that despite de Cortanze's departure, the F1 project is on still on schedule. 
5/3/01 Is Lausitzring under a curse?  Just a week after Audi driver Michele Alboreto was killed during testing at the Lausitzring, a marshal has also lost his life after being struck by a car during testing.  The 43-year-old marshal was hit by Sandro Vogel’s Super Production-spec Opel Astra when he ran on to the track to recover a front spoiler which had come off a BMW during an open test session today. He was struck while he was running back to his post and was killed instantly. CART runs on the oval at this venue in September. Autosport
5/3/01 AJ Foyt, Tony George and Brian Barnhart were at TMS to watch CART race  We wonder why AJ Foyt traveled to Dallas-Fort Worth with IRL president Tony George and vice president Brian Barnhart. The three gathered in Foyt's TMS condo overlooking Turn 2. Like everyone else, they planned to watch a race. "The bad thing is, look at all the speedway did for them," Foyt said, referring to several changes for safety requested by the drivers. "CART owes the speedway a lot of money."  Foyt says lower speeds could have been achieved with a strict fuel ration, which would have forced drivers to use a lean fuel-air mixture and pace themselves, or with a rev limiter, which would have lowered horsepower by containing RPMs. Greg Ray said, "if you look back to 1998, Billy Boat and I did 225s and 226s all night long. Is 10 mph that much faster?" Foyt doesn't think so. "I could understand it if they were breaking suspensions or wheels, or the tires wouldn't stand it," he said. "But they didn't have those problems. They were just talking about fatigue on drivers. Well, they ought to never run on ovals then." Dallas News
5/2/01 Nazareth Notes  Papis and Tracy to appear: CART drivers Max Papis and two-time Nazareth winner Paul Tracy will appear at Starter's Pub in Bethlehem on Thursday at 8:00 p.m. for the live national radio broadcast of The CART Hotline Show. Fans can win race tickets, merchandise and ask Papis and Tracy questions. Starter's will run food and drink specials- for more information, call 610-997-5454. Fans who are unable to participate at Starter's can call into the show at 888-408-CART or email questions to Weather forecast!!!: First, no snow! Seriously, the weather forecast is terrific!  According to today, we will have partly sunny skies each day of race weekend with highs of 82 on Friday, 75 on Saturday and 74 on Sunday. Martin Guitar to sponsor pole award: World-famous guitar manufacturer Martin Guitar of Nazareth will once again present a hand-crafted Martin Guitar to the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix presented by Toyota pole winner. The pole winners for the Speedway's Nazareth 200 NASCAR Busch Series race on May 20 and Chevy Silverado 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on May 26 will also receive Martin Guitars. Time change: The USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series race on Saturday will start at 3:40 p.m. instead of the original time of 3:15 p.m. The race will be broadcast live on Service Electric TV. All-CART drivers' autograph session: For the second consecutive year, CART will hold a free all-drivers autograph session in the Nazareth Speedway paddock. The autograph session will begin on Saturday, May 5 and last from 5:00 to 5:30 p.m. Also, CART will offer free autograph books, complete with images of each driver and 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. 
5/2/01 Alex Zanardi talks about Nazareth  "There are obviously concerns in the sense that we know that the cars at Nazareth are not going to work as well as we want because we are going to run a lot less downforce than what we really need due to the rules that CART is imposing concerning wings. So it's left to be seen how different cars will react to these changes. Other than that, I am excited about going to Nazareth and trying to have a good race, and most of all to try to see the checkered flag, which has been something of an elusive target in our first two races. In reality, it was nice to have a decent qualifying in Texas (sixth), but unfortunately, we couldn't have a race. The scenario is going to be different at Nazareth on the small oval, of course. "We didn't race at Texas. On one hand, you can say I did my winter oval testing. Certainly I thought before the start of the season if I was going to have problems this season it would be from Texas onward because I didn't do any testing on ovals over the winter. But, I went to Texas and my fifth lap out I could stay flat all the way around the track. It proved once again that on the oval it's a question of letting the car do the job and making the car perform well. This is what we'll try to do at Nazareth, and if we're good enough to achieve a good setup, and we have the car running good, then you're likely to see me smiling at the end."
5/2/01 Tony Kanaan talks about Nazareth  "The best thing about going to Nazareth, at this point, is to be able to say that for sure we will race this weekend ... unless, of course, there's snow on the ground when we wake up on Sunday morning! (Note: Last year's originally scheduled race in early April was postponed until Memorial Day weekend due to snow.) I'm glad we got out of Texas in one piece. Everybody in the CART community got together and agreed to do something that was very sensible. It will be a bit of an uncertainty at Nazareth for us because we never tested on a mile oval with our current package. But we've been competitive everywhere we've gone this year. I've been in the top four in every practice session so far this year, so I'm very confident we'll be in good shape at Nazareth. It's a cliché, but we're taking life one race at a time. Let's see what we can do to really make the team more successful. And, finally, Alex got back with his luck in practice and qualifying at Texas, and I think he's going to be strong at Nazareth, too. "I guess, people in the beginning of the '98 and '99 season said I wasn't capable of racing on a mile oval, that it wasn't my kind of track. I proved them wrong last year when I had the car to do it last year. At Nazareth and Chicago and Milwaukee, I had never finished a race in the points on a mile oval. But last year, we did well at all three small ovals. This weekend, we have to keep our heads straight. It's not rocket science to find a setup, but you have to work together as a team."
5/2/01 Mo Nunn talks about Nazareth  "I'm looking forward to going back to Nazareth. We managed to get Tony quite comfortable in a 1-mile oval setup there last year. And the last time I was there with Alex, he and (then-teammate Jimmy) Vasser brought us a 1-2 finish. It doesn't get any better than that. It would be nice if we could pull that kind of magic with Tony and Alex this year! Tony's been solid all year and it's just a matter of time before we get to his breakthrough race. Alex did a great job getting acclimated to oval racing again at Texas (after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus). Overall, the team's working together better all the time. We didn't have a chance to get in any live pit stops at Texas, but the guys have been practicing a lot. It's all starting to blend well together. "The Lolas will be very, very competitive at Nazareth. I'll be very surprised if they're not quicker than the Reynards. But, obviously, we'll have to wait and see. People keep asking me what we might have gained at Texas, even though we didn't race. Well, it's such a unique track with the high banking that nothing really will translate to any of the tracks we'll be going to the rest of this season. That banking works so well, you could probably go around there without any wings on your car at all. That would be an interesting exercise, wouldn't it? But that's behind us. It's time to go racing at a good, old familiar track."
Last weeks TV ratings (source Speedvision)
• NASCAR Cup Fontana (FOX, 4/29) 4.8 rating / 12 share (overnight)
• NASCAR Busch Fontana (FOX, 4/28) 1.9 rating / 5 share (overnight)
• NASCAR Cup Qualifying (FX, 4/27*) 0.91 rating / 0.574m households
• NASCAR Cup Happy Hour (FX, 4/28) 0.85 rating / 0.533m hh
• IRL Atlanta (espn2, 4/28) 0.62 rating / 1 share / 0.472m hh
• NHRA Bristol (espn2, 4/29) 0.57 rating / 1 share / 0.434m hh
• NHRA Bristol (espn2, 4/28*) 0.56 rating / 1 share / 0.426m hh
• Indy Lights Texas (espn2, 4/29*) 0.19 rating / 0 share / 0.143m hh
• CART Qualifying Texas (espn2, 4/29*) 0.15 rating / 1 share / 0.111m hh
• AMA Supercross (ABC, 4/29*) pending
TV and radio coverage for Indy 500 increases  Fifty-two hours of television and more than 21 hours of radio coverage will originate from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the month of May, keeping fans informed of daily activities leading up to the 85th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on May 27. This marks a 14-hour increase of coverage compared to 2000. Full story and schedule  MC
Delphi to sponsor Chicagoland race  Delphi Automotive Systems' title sponsorship of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series event on Sept. 2, 2001, at Chicagoland Speedway was announced at a press conference May 2, as the event will be titled the Delphi Indy 300. The Delphi Indy 300 will take place on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. The new state-of-the-art, 1.5-mile, D-shaped speedway will provide grandstand seating with excellent sight lines of the entire track for 75,000 spectators, more than 650 recreational vehicle spots in the infield, 32 corporate suites and many other fan amenities. "We are proud and excited to take part in this venture with Delphi Automotive Systems," said Joie Chitwood, vice president and general manager of Chicagoland Speedway. "We know the Delphi Indy 300 will show the racing world that racing fans in this area are second to none. We are very excited the Indy Racing Northern Light Series will be part of our inaugural season, and know our partnership with Delphi Automotive Systems will grow this event as our season progresses." A staple in racing, Delphi has sponsored other events, including the Delphi Indy 200, an Indy Racing event in January 2000 in Orlando, Fla. Delphi is the Official Electronics Provider to the Indy Racing League and has been instrumental in enhancing driver safety. Some of Delphi's racing products that have created safer racing include accident data recorders, track condition radios and radio telemetry modules. These instruments are essential in transmitting and recording race data. "The commitment underlines the company's ongoing belief in the future of motorsports as a proving ground for a new generation of leading-edge Delphi products," said Bill Lafontaine, Delphi director of marketing and customer development. "There's no harsher testing environment for the development of truly breakthrough products than racing. For that reason, we've made a deliberate effort to foster our relationship with the Indy Racing League. Additionally, this sponsorship agreement is a great way to build and enhance the Delphi brand." Delphi has sponsored the No. 8 Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone driven by 1996 Indy Racing co-champion Scott Sharp since 1998. The company also is the primary sponsor this season of the No. 28 Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone driven by Sharp's Kelley Racing teammate, Mark Dismore.  MC
Finally, CART and IRL RPM2Night broadcasts to get done out of Indy  We at have called for this for quite some time. It's about time RPM2Night start focusing more on CART and the IRL, and less on NASCAR, a series that has shunned ABC and ESPN in favor of FOX and NBC. This is hopefully the first step in moving RPM2Night totally to Indy someday.  ESPN2, home of the popular motorsports show "RPM2Night," has started to use IMS Productions, the production company owned and operated by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation, for live segments used during the show. Using VYVX Broadband Media Services, a fiber network recently installed at IMS Productions, it is anticipated that at least three live reports per week will air on "RPM2Night" from the studios of IMS Productions with ABC/ESPN broadcaster Bob Jenkins, ESPN reporter Marlo Klain and commentator Robin Miller, who are all based in Indianapolis. This marks the first time that live reports on the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, Formula One and CART for "RPM2Night" have originated from Indianapolis on a regular basis. "Indianapolis is the 'Racing Capital of the World,' and it will be helpful to all of open-wheel racing and 'RPM2Night' to originate regular reports from our city," said Fred J. Nation, vice president, corporate communications and public relations at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Rather than booking satellite time, the VYVX fiber network allows IMS Productions to form a direct link between Indianapolis and Charlotte, N.C., home of "RPM2Night's" weekday studios. This fiber-optic connection, which is available to all IMS Productions clients, allows a link to be established in about 10 to 15 minutes. "The arrangement between IMS Productions and 'RPM2Night' enhances our already strong relationship with ABC and ESPN," said Buddy McAtee, assistant vice president, broadcast communications & business development. "This also increases exposure for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series." The Indy Racing League is in the second year of a five-year contact with ABC/ESPN to cover the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, and ABC has broadcast the Indianapolis 500 since 1965. "Any time we can get access to the Indy Racing League and its drivers, it enhances our coverage," said Barry Sacks, senior coordinating producer for "RPM2Night." "Having access to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is great for a daily motorsports show, and any time we can expose the masses to open-wheel racing and expose them to the (Northern Light Series standout) Sarah Fishers of the world, it's great for everyone involved."  MC
Great Winston All-Star Quotes  The Winston, NASCAR’s annual all-star race, will return to Lowe’s Motor Speedway Saturday night, May 19, for the 17th edition of the winners-only special event. Since its inception in 1985, the unique format of The Winston has produced some of the sport’s most exciting racing, and has generated some of the most interesting and entertaining quotes in stock car racing history. A selection of the highlights.
NASCAR officials announce penalties  NASCAR Officials announced today the suspension of a NASCAR Winston Cup Series crew chief for rules violations discovered in inspection prior to Sunday's NAPA 500 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Mike Beam, crew chief of the No. 32 Ford Taurus, received a two-race suspension (until May 22, 2001-suspended from the next two NASCAR Winston Cup Series Championship or Invitational Events) and a $5,000 fine for not having the manufacturer's date visible on the seat belts. Beam was penalized 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..." Along with the above-mentioned penalty, Beam was issued another $500 fine for rules violations (roof camera shell not within the proper dimension) discovered in inspection prior to the Talladega 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala. He was penalized under Section 12-4-Q, "Any determination by NASCAR Officials that parts and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform... or have not been approved by NASCAR..." Robin Pemberton, crew chief for the No. 2 NASCAR Winston Cup Series team, was penalized for rules violations (fuel cell top rack) discovered in inspection prior to the NAPA 500 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Pemberton was fined $500 and penalized under section 12-4-Q in the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series rule book.
Bobby Hamilton already looking forward to Daytona  Bobby Hamilton has found his restrictor-plate magic. Two weeks ago at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Hamilton, driver of the No. 55 Square D Chevrolet for Andy Petree Racing, captured his first career restrictor-plate race. With two laps remaining, Hamilton soared past Tony Stewart on the outside for the victory in the Talladega 500, which had a NASCAR record 29 cars on the lead lap and had 26 different leaders, which tied a NASCAR record.  The victory gave the 1991 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year his first top-five finish in restrictor-plate races, which are held at both Talladega and Daytona International Speedway. Entering the 43rd annual Pepsi 400 on July 7 at Daytona International Speedway, Hamilton, who equaled his best finish at Daytona with an eighth-place run in this year’s Daytona 500, can now be considered a threat to win his first race at the “World Center of Racing.”  “This season has been a tremendous one for the Square D Racing team and we look forward to showing what we have to offer at more of these tracks,” Hamilton said. “The Pepsi 400 is a way for the teams to show once again, like Talladega that we all can race another good, clean race. “Our Talladega win was a tremendous building opportunity for both Square D and Andy Petree Racing. At the season opener in Daytona, we had a good car and held our own for the competition. We're looking for a repeat performance in July.”   Before joining Andy Petree’s organization this year, Hamilton drove three seasons for Morgan-McClure Motorsports, which dominated restrictor-plate races with the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet. Sterling Marlin won two Daytona 500s (1994 and 1995), the 1996 Pepsi 400 and two victories at Talladega for Morgan McClure, while Ernie Irvan won the 1991 Daytona 500 and earned two Talladega victories. Hamilton was never able to duplicate the restrictor-plate success of Marlin and Irvan with Morgan-McClure Motorpsorts. At Andy Petree Racing, he’s confident in his restrictor-plate program. “Right now, I think we can go anywhere and win,” Hamilton said.
IRL Statistics Here are the latest IRL Detailed 2001 statistics after 3 of 13 races.
1. Sam Hornish Jr. 136
2. Eliseo Salazar 105
3. Scott Sharp 96
4. Jeff Ward 82
5. Felipe Giaffone (R) 80 MC
5/2/01 Lot's of CART live chats today  This is a busy day as far as chats are concerned. We've got Joe Heitzler chatting on at 5:00 p.m. ET, Mauricio Gugelmin at 6:00 p.m. ET on, and Alex Zanardi on at 8:00 p.m. ET today.
Eurointernational ready for F3 season opener Eurointernational Inc. announces today the line up for the 2001 United States Formula 3 Championship. John C. Antonino from Bakersfield, California and Luciano Gomide from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will be behind the wheels of the two Eurointernational Dallara F3, powered by Volkswagen, at Mosport, Canada, on May 20, for Round one of the 2001 USF3 Series. Rookie American driver John C. Antonino has already completed over 1000 miles of pre-season testing at Moroso, Las Vegas, Buttonwillow and Putnam Park with the Eurointernational Dallara F3 VW and is eager to start the new season. “ I have learn a lot on F3 cars in the last 4 months of testing, improving my times and my consistence; now I feel ready for my first F3 race. The Team has done a fantastic job preparing my new Dallara and I am looking forward to my USF3 debut at Mosport”. John C. Antonino’s new Dallara will carry number 7 and is sponsored by GrapeKing (Finest California Grapes), Arra and Uptown (Quality California Fruit), under the management of R.L.C. Ltd. Luciano Gomide returns to the familiar number 50 Eurointernational Dallara hoping to continue his incredible series of seven wins, seven poles and seven fastest race laps during the 2000 USF3 Series. “Last year my Team did a fantastic job and my Dallara was always perfect” said Gomide.”This year the car has been further improved and I hope to continue to win at Mosport working with my teammate and crew” Eurointernational will complete the final tune-up testing at Mosport next May 15, and has confirmed the 2000 winning structure with Nicola Sgotto as Crew Chief and Patrick Moriet as First Mechanic. The Eurointernational Dallara have been further developed for the 2001 USF3 Season with new exhaust systems by F.W.R.C., new oil/water radiators by Docking Engineering, new Penske shocks and will use the updated 2001 Volkswagen USF3 engines by Bertils Racing Engines.

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