Hot News

Thanks for visiting our Hot News page - news snippets from the world of Auto Racing.  Please visit our Rumors page for all the scuttlebutt.  If you have some news, or can supply more information about one listed here, e-mail us with as much supporting information as possible and we may post it.  User agreement & disclaimer. Newer rumors supercede older ones of the same topic.  Go to our forums to discuss any hot news.  

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DATE News (chronologically 06/04/01 to 06/11/01)
6/11/01
Industry News
Emmo and other big names inducted into Hall of Fame Update We have added this story about Emerson Fittipaldi.  6/9/01 John Hammer filed this report from the recent induction ceremonies into the Motorsports Hall of Fame.  Inducted on Wednesday night were, among others, Emerson Fittipaldi, Andy Granatelli, Ken Miles, Freddie Spencer, Earl Cooper, Fred Lorenzen.  The who's who of motorsports were in attendance, including Tony George.  The proceedings were hosted by Benny Parsons. Listen (MP3 format Note - file will play with Real Player and Windows Media Player) (1:48 min 1.68 MB)
6/11/01
Sam Schmidt team issues statement on Hamilton  Davey Hamilton, the Indy Racing League’s Ironman was injured in an incident at Texas Motor Speedway during the Casino Magic 500. He was airlifted to Parkland Hospital and received initial attention for injuries sustained to his feet and legs. A decision was made early Sunday morning to move Hamilton to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis where he will be under the care of Dr. Henry Bock, Director of Medical Services and Dr. Kevin Scheid.  Team Owner, Sam Schmidt was at the hospital on Sunday to meet with the doctors prior to the transfer. “Davey has broken both lower legs, but it is his feet that are of the greatest concern at this time. His feet have multiple fractures and soft tissue damage. Dr. Scheid has already begun reconstruction surgery and will continue procedures throughout the week. Dr. Scheid was the same doctor that treated Sam when he injured his feet at the season-finale Texas event in 1999.  At this time the family has requested privacy at the hospital. Well-wishes can be sent to Sam Schmidt Motorsports/LP Racing at 7355 South 50 East, Lebanon, IN 46052 or E-mailed to Davey@SamSchmidt.org. “There is nothing more inspiring than letters of encouragement from family, friends, and fans. I certainly have drawn from their strength many times and know that Davey will be able to do the same,” states Schmidt. As for the team, Schmidt commented that, “this has been a difficult time as an owner, but we will go on to the Pikes Peak Event in Colorado Springs. We have obligations to many paralysis patients who will be joining us trackside and a fundraiser for the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. No decision has been made at this time with respect to a driver. Our first focus has been on Davey and his needs.”
6/11/01
Montoya in hot water with Frank Williams  According to the British newspaper The Sun, team owner Frank Williams was reportedly "livid" with Montoya's behavior during a driver's meeting which escalated into a physical confrontation with Villeneuve. According to TSN F1 analyst Gerald Donaldson, Montoya warned Villeneuve not to "brake-test" him again or he would "put you into the f****** wall". Villeneuve answered in kind, saying "I'll put you into the f****** trees". At this point, Montoya brought up the incident at the season opening race in Australia, saying "You've already killed somebody this year". A Williams team source tells the Sun that owner Frank Williams felt the comment was "out of order" and made it perfectly clear to Montoya that he will not tolerate a repeat performance. Formula One officials have also warned both drivers that they face further sanctions if the situation arises ever again. www.tsn.ca
6/11/01
Liz Allison to Join TNT's NASCAR Broadcast Team  Liz Allison has reached an agreement with Turner Sports to serve as an on-site reporter for TNT's NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Busch Series races, it was announced today on NASCAR.com by Turner Sports executive producer Mike Pearl. Allison, the widow of 1987 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Davey Allison, will join TNT's NASCAR broadcast team on July 8, for the NASCAR Busch Series race at Watkins Glen. Allison will do her first NASCAR Winston Cup Series event on July 29 at Pocono. As a roving reporter for TNT, she will report on the personal aspects of the lives of drivers and other personalities, and will also do live interviews throughout the day from around the track. Allison will also contribute to NASCAR.com. "Though a newcomer to television, Liz has all the attributes to make it big in this medium," said Pearl. "Her knowledge of the sport and her personality will endear her to NASCAR fans everywhere."
6/11/01
Final standings from Texas changed after protest  The official results of the Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway were released today after Indy Racing League officials reviewed timing and scoring data and video of the race. The No. 21 car driven by Felipe Giaffone officially finished second, while the No. 4 of Sam Hornish Jr. finished third. The No. 98 of Billy Boat finished fifth, and the No. 11 of Donnie Beechler finished sixth. All other positions remain the same. "After reviewing timing and scoring data and video footage, we have adjusted the results of the Casino Magic 500," said Brian Barnhart, vice president of operations for the Indy Racing League. "The No. 4 car passed the No. 21 during a caution period, and the No. 11 car also passed the No. 98 car under a caution. As a result of two protests filed Saturday night, we have reversed the finishing positions of each of those cars." The adjusted Indy Racing top-10 driver points are: Hornish (187), Eliseo Salazar (157), Scott Sharp (147), Giaffone (140), Buddy Lazier (117), Boat (115), Buzz Calkins (104), Greg Ray (103), Jeff Ward (102) and Robby McGehee (86). Beechler is 28th with 33 points.
6/10/01

Tethers alone are not going to work?  We have learned that in many accidents the wheel spindles are breaking on the car, allowing the wheel to fly off.  Since the tethers are attached to the spindle and not the wheel itself, when the spindle fractures, no amount of tethers are going to hold the wheel on.  The tethers are useful when the spindle does not break, so we are not advocating that they should not be used.  They just won't work in many cases.  The Indy Car racing industry is going to have to address this, or the insurance companies will address it for them and not provide insurance for oval track races in the future.  Since the IRL is an all-oval series, this would affect them more than CART, which is more diversified and can survive quite well as an all road course series.
6/10/01
MIS mulling over CART or IRL  A reader writes - My local Michigan paper reported in today's paper that the decision over who will race at Michigan in the future, CART or IRL, has not been made yet, but will be decided in the next 90 days. They stated they are looking closely at both series to see which can do more for the track and attract the most fans.
6/10/01
Montoya vs. Zanardi, food for thought  In the first 8 races of 2001 season Juan Pablo Montoya has out qualified teammate Ralf Schumacher one time, in at Austria.  In 1999 Alex Zanardi out qualified Teammate Ralf Schumacher 3 times by this point in the season. For the entire season, Zanardi out qualified Ralf five times!  Montoya has crashed out of the last two F1 races.  Is he unraveling?
6/10/01
Wheels fly again in Texas  UPDATE Go to this multimedia page and click on the lap 73 incident (as well as the race finish accident and just below that, the accident at Atlanta on lap 52 that saw a wheel fly into the grandstands.)  Note wheels flying everywhere, and how at the end Sarah Fisher punted a wheel which could have easily cleared the fence and killed a spectator. Watch the race finish video as well.  You will again see wheels flying.  More importantly, look how devastating the crash was, even at 215 MPH.  Imagine at CART's 236 MPH. The as yet unanswered question is - will the tracks be able to continue to get insurance for these obvious very dangerous races, or will the insurance companies put an end to the carnage before someone else is killed.  Time will tell.  6/9/01 - A third wheel tether still isn't working.  Wheels flew off cars in several accidents in the Casino Magic 500 in Texas, one being punted by the nose of Sarah Fisher's car, which could have easily killed her or flown into the stands.  The IRL dodged a bullet this night.  Will they next time?
6/10/01
More info on the Humpy Bumper  Although reports are that NASCAR is rejecting the idea of a crumple zone type bumper for Winston Cup cars, this link will tell you more about the concept.  We feel the idea has merit.
6/10/01
Hamilton and McGehee suffer fractures in Texas UPDATE Reports are now surfacing that Hamilton's leg and feet injuries are really bad, possibly career ending. "Davey's injuries are three to five times worse than mine were," said Sam Schmidt, who owns the team Hamilton drove for. "It was pretty devastating. "I can't say I've ever seen something like this. From the thigh forward, the car is gone."  He said it was equal to the wreckage Stan Fox rode out in the 1995 Indy 500, although Fox miraculously did not injure his legs or feet.  Hamilton, from Las Vegas, had surgery at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas to assess injuries to both lower legs and to determine further surgery. His vital signs are good, said Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League director of medical services.  Two-time Indy Racing League runner-up Hamilton will be transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for further evaluation and surgery, possibly as early as today, Bock said.. "His right foot is coming along," said Schmidt, "but his left foot is definitely worse."  "It's really bad," said team manager Larry Nash. Hamilton will be 39 years old on Wednesday. He has started all 48 races in league history. His season, and perhaps his career, is in doubt. Our best wishes go out to Davey Hamilton. McGehee, from St. Louis, had surgery at Parkland Memorial Hospital to repair a broken lower left leg, a compound fracture in two places. He will stay at Parkland for a day or two before being transferred to either St. Louis or Indianapolis for further care, Bock said. He is in fair condition, Bock said. Go to this multimedia page and click on the lap 73 incident.  View it a few times to appreciate how bad it was.  Meanwhile, it looks like CART's postponement at Texas wasn't so foolish after all.  It ashamed it takes devastating accidents like this to make everyone realize how dangerous open wheel racing is on high speed tracks.  We hear Eddie Cheever was pretty shaken up in his accident as well.  6/9/01 - Davey Hamilton is reported to have suffered multiple fractures of his legs and feet in one accident and Robby McGehee a broken leg and concussion in separate accidents in tonight's Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.  One reader writes "After CART cancelled their race at Texas Motor Speedway a fan posted a sign CART = Cowards Aren't Racing Today.  After tonight's IRL race where two driver's were injured I think the IRL = Injured Racers League.  After what I saw tonight, CART was wise to postpone their race.  Indy Cars are too fast for that track.  When something happens you have no time to react.  Just ask Eddie Cheever who saw his life pass before his eyes on lap 196"  This discussion thread in our forums is quite enlightening.  It tells a story no one saw on TV.
6/9/01
Michigan observations  Our Tim Wohlford filed these tidbits from Michigan today:  IROC - According to the results today it’s obvious that the best drivers run at Indy. Tony Stewart put on a driving exhibition, taking the lead on lap 3 and rarely lifting the throttle as he ran away from the pack. He was followed by Al Unser Jr, Kenny Brack, and Eddie Cheever in a sweep for the pointy-nosed crowd. True, Stewart runs a mean stock car at Michigan, but the Indy driver sweep was difficult for the crowd to ignore (provided they didn’t fall asleep during the event).  If you can, put your tape of last year’s Michigan IROC in the VCR, relive the glory days, and forget about seeing this one on TV.  ARCA - It’s said that “luck” is the result of preparation meeting skill. In auto racing victory often involves luck, but that term often downplays the preparation and skill of those who get lucky. Today’s ARCA race proved that old engines and beaten chassis can’t overcome skill and preparation, but that skill and preparation can lead to a little bit of luck and a visit to victory lane.  In a race slowed by only two cautions Kerry Earnhardt got lucky today, winning his first ARCA race. A badly timed caution flag on lap 72 put his only real competition, David Keith, on the tail end of the lead lap for the restart. The two cars were the class of the field, and it was apparent by the halfway mark that it would be a two-car race. Bolstered by an all-star cast of Winston Cup pit crewmembers he easily was the fastest out of the pits. Luck put his main competition a lap down, but Earnhardt and his team did the rest, and in a season of horrible luck for the Earnhardt's it was a crowd pleaser to see Kerry in victory lane. The first caution flag, involving Todd Shafer in the Cunningham Motorsports Ford, marred the race when his car erupted in flames going down the backstretch. He slid into the outside wall in turn 1, only to have the still-flaming car take a dive into the inside wall in turn 2. Unfortunately he had already unbuckled his belts before that final impact in an effort to escape the flames, impacting the steering wheel with his body. He was able to jump out of the car under his own power, but was later airlifted to the University of Michigan hospitals for treatment of minor facial burns and smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
6/9/01
Low car count a problem?  2nd UPDATE Several cars were wrecked in Texas where 24 started.  Two drivers have broken legs.  It will be interesting to see who and how many start the next race at Pike Peak.  6/4/01 - A reader writes - The next month will be a big test for the IRL.  Not only did they spend the month in Indy (those who had cars that didn't make the field have to be in serious trouble - Simon, Galles, McCormick), but they will now have to look at doing three races in four weeks - something the series has never tried before - including back-to-back races at Dallas (where crashes tend to do a lot of damage) and Pikes Peak. If only 23 cars are entered for Dallas on June 9, how many will be in place at Richmond on June 30? If those same 23 aren't in place - with the same drivers in the same cars barring injury, it will be a sign that the IRL is still struggling and hasn't reached stability.  6/4/01 - We are hearing that the car count for this weekends IRL race in Texas may be in the low 20's.  Dick Simon announced Monday that he would be pulling his No. 7 GForce/Aurora out of this weekend’s race due to lack of sponsorship.  He said he will miss the next two races and hopes to be back in time for the Richmond race at the end of June.
6/9/01
IROC
Tony Stewart wins easily in Michigan  Tony Stewart led a caution free race from lap 3 until the end to win today's IROC race in Michigan.  He beat Al Unser Jr. by over 2 seconds.  Kenny Brack was third and Eddie Cheever was 4th.
6/9/01
Atlantics: Rutledge wins in Montreal  David Rutledge and Michael Valiante, both of Lynx Racing, finished first and second, respectively, in today's Toyota Atlantic race in Montreal. Argentina's Martin Basso inherited third place following Joey Hand's retirement late in the race.
6/9/01

Indy Lights News  2nd UPDATE We told you this probably belongs on the rumors page.  Now we hear Tony George got tired of waiting for CART to make a decision and is going ahead with his own support series. It seems what I described earlier was exactly how things were proceeding, but not any longer.  We would assume that the IRL Indy Lights series will probably take one of the three proposals we described below, and the June start date is probably to give the manufacturer time to be ready for for 2002. So does this mean CART has definitely abandoned the Indy Lights series, or will they have one of their own?  Stay tuned.... Earlier - Perhaps this belongs on our rumors page, but here is what we think Joe Heitzler is up to regarding Indy Lights, while the rest of the world is badmouthing him for taking no action on the Indy Lights series. He told us he was trying to work out a deal with Tony George for both CART and the IRL to share Indy Lights.  What we hear that is/was being batted around is a 14 race schedule, 7 on ovals in conjunction with IRL races, and 7 on road courses in conjunction with CART races.  We proposed exactly that in our 2004 schedule shown in this article. In that article we called for CART and the IRL to work together in this very manner.  This would give the drivers oval and road course experience they need.  We also here the races will have proper prize money and  two of the 14 races will be 'big' races to help sell sponsorship.  One would be a support race to the USGP at Indy and the other, perhaps, as a support race to.......the Indy 500.  With 300,000 people already in town, an Indy Lights race on Saturday, the day before the Indy 500, makes a lot of sense.   We assume one of the bids mentioned below will be chosen. There were two hurdles as we understand it.  The first, CART wanted the IRL to pay $5 million for their half of Indy Lights.  CART bought it for between $7 and 10 million and felt if the two are going to share it, a 50/50 split on cost is justified.  We hear the IRL was balking at that price for a series with five year old cars.  Second, is the 2002 season.  With only 12 cars racing this year, and with new cars not ready until 2003, what do the existing teams do in the interim?  CART has offered existing Lights teams free cars for one year for them to step down into that series temporarily while the new cars are prepared. The teams have balked at that.  Another remaining piece of the puzzle to resolve are what tires they will use (currently Dayton Tires, a division of Bridgestone/Firestone, but we hear two other manufacturers may be interested).  Again, none of the above is 'fact.'  6/8/01 - Long-time Indy Lights team owner Brian Stewart is not fielding a team right now because, he tells us, there are no drivers available.  He said it's not about money, there simply are no drivers out there looking for a ride, choosing to go into Atlantics, the IRL or overseas.  They may not want to run Lights thinking it's possibly going to die.  We quizzed Brian Stewart about our idea that perhaps Indy Lights cars should be IRL cars with less HP.  He said "it works for me."  After further discussion he said the cost of the IRL chassis would have to be brought down a little lower than it is now.  The three recent bids for the new Indy Lights chassis ranged from $70K+ to the low $90K+.  We have heard that Reynard, Lola and G-Force submitted bids.  Did you know that the Lola bid was with an AMG Mercedes engine?  The G-Force bid was with a Zytec engine.  We hear the Reynard bid was with Judd (?) F1 engines, several years old, but rebuilt like new.  They apparently had bought 150 of the engines at some point and were looking for the perfect place to use them.  We hear the Reynard bid was was one of the lowest and that all the bids included the latest data acquisition technology and full digital steering wheels just like you see on IRL and Champ cars.
6/9/01
Did you know?  That CART President Joe Heitzler and his wife takes a group of disadvantaged kids on a big vacation between Christmas and the middle of January each year?  This past year they took the group to Hawaii.  As Joe put it to us, "I work my butt off 49 weeks a year, but nobody messes with me those three weeks"......the kids are that important to him.
6/9/01
IRL teams and drivers continue to take the low road with trash talk  While CART teams and drivers continue to take the high road, saying nothing bad about the IRL talent even after cleaning their clocks at Indy (and taking all their money), the IRL teams, especially AJ Foyt and Eddie Cheever, continue to spew trash talk about CART.  This article in the Dallas News is a prime example to the jealousy and insecurity the IRL feels toward CART.  This trash talk does nothing but pull down the sport of Indy Car racing, it makes the IRL look like a bunch of whiners, who are never able to beat the CART teams and drivers on the track, so they try to do so in the press.  Very unprofessional.  Eddie Cheever calling Helio Castroneves Fidel Castro...neves on prime time TV was the sort of trash talk/prejudice that may have led to Cheever losing his Excite sponsorship.  What sponsor really wants to be associated with such unprofessionalism in today's politically correct environment?  And they wonder why fans are not buying their tickets and one race after another gets cancelled due to poor attendance.  We tip our hats to the CART teams and drivers who were most gracious to the IRL teams and drivers at Indy after what had to be one of the worse days in IRL history.  As one reader put it - on May 27th the man upstairs said to the CART teams and drivers - today I'm going to make right for all the trash talk spewed upon thee"..........and he did."
6/8/01
Atlantics Montreal  Tomorrow's Round 4 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race at Montreal will be David Rutledge's (Lynx Racing Swift) to lose. The Vancouver driver set a blistering pace on the 2.747-mile Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, breaking Alex Tagliani's two year old track record. Rutledge's lap of 1:36.117 seconds (102.887 mph) was over a half second faster than rookie teammate, Michael Valiante (Lynx Racing/Italian Motors/Diagem Swift), who helped Lynx racing complete the sweep of the front row.   Full Story
6/8/01
NASCAR tops TV ratings again (Source: Speedvision)
• Winston Cup Dover (FOX, 6/3) 4.8 rating / 13 share / 4.906m households
• CART Milwaukee (ABC, 6/3) 1.0 rating / 2 share / 1.022m hh
• NASCAR Busch Dover (FX, 6/2) 1.41 rating / 0.975m hh
• NHRA Joliet Finals (espn2, 6/3) 0.80 rating / 1 share / 0.617m hh
• NASCAR Trucks (ESPN, 6/2) 0.42 rating / 1 share / 0.342m hh
• NHRA Joliet Qual (espn2, 6/2) 0.41 rating / 1 share / 0.313m hh
• USAC Knoxville (espn2, 6/3*) 0.36 rating / 1 share / 0.279m hh
6/8/01
Gerry Forsythe CART Stock News  Gerry Forsythe has purchased another 20,000 shares of CART stock between $14.50 and $15.00 a share.  His position is now 1,203,000 shares.
6/8/01
Industry News
Skip Barber Comes to Mont Tremblant   Marking its first venture north of the border, Skip Barber Racing School will host four days of Advanced Activities at Le Circuit Mont Trembant in Quebec. A Skip Barber Advanced Two Day Racing School will take place at the newly refurbished circuit on August 23-24 with Lapping to follow on the 25th and 26th of August, 2001. "Coming to Mont Tremblant gives us the chance to offer Canadian drivers a fantastic opportunity to experience the World's Biggest and Best Racing School on Canadian soil for the first time and drive the most advanced racing school car - the Formula Dodge R/T 2000. It also gives our existing American customers the chance to come to the beautiful Quebec region and drive on a great racetrack," said Darren Marshall, Chief Operating Officer, Skip Barber, Inc. 
6/8/01
AutoRacing1.com Forums just got better  Or maybe not, depending on how you look at it.  You will now notice there is a new section called News Groups.  They are all auto racing related, but as you may or may not know, news groups tend to be pretty much wide open, say anything you want kind of thing.  People post in the news groups from all over the world.  Enjoy, or read with caution, depending on how you look at it.  Forums 
6/8/01
Jaguar takes out injunction against McLaren over Newey  Jaguar Racing has issued the following statement: Jaguar Racing has obtained an injunction at the High Court in London on behalf of Ford Motor Company and Jaguar Racing Limited against McLaren International Limited. The terms of this injunction restrain McLaren International from entering into or continuing any contract of employment with Adrian Newey post 31 July 2002. 
6/8/01
New website dedicated to Indy Lights and Toyota Atlantic series  The CART online community is about to get a new neighbor in Wicked Racing News. After months of preparation and planning, founder of Wicked Racing News, David Martinez is proud to announce the launch of the new online magazine, scheduled for June 18, 2001. Seeing the lack of adequate coverage for the Dayton Indy Lights Series and the Toyota Atlantic series it was realized that the need to educate people on these wonderful series existed. The official Dayton Indy Lights and Toyota Atlantic websites are great and provide much information, but other than that, the only other sites out there are mainly oriented towards the CART Fed Ex Championship series, and thus have to share the spotlight, Wicked Racing News is all about these 2 wonderful series", remarked David Martinez, who is realizing a dream in covering these two series. "I honestly feel that there are truly wonderful people involved in these series who have wonderful stories, experiences to tell and are newsworthy, unfortunately many don't get the recognition they deserve. Wicked Racing News is about to change that!", states Martinez. Wicked Racing News will contain daily race reports, pre / post race comments, photos, team shop tours, current championship standings guest columns, and former driver interviews. In addition to this Wicked Racing News will provide the following entertaining components: Online Polls, viewer mail, contest giveaways, "20 Wicked Questions" feature, technical tidbits, and "Did you know?" features.  Known in the CART community as "FannaDellaPenna", Mr. Martinez brings with him years of experience as a reporter with the newspaper "Voces De La Raza", an independent newspaper dedicated to the Northern California Spanish speaking population. Mr. Martinez's contribution to reporting in the CART FedEx Championship Series has included several interview pieces and editorials as the News Desk Editor for Race Family Motor Sports website.  For further information on Wicked News Racing, please contact the online magazine founder, David Martinez, at david@wickedracingnews.com. The URL of the Wicked Racing News will be at www.wickedracingnews.com. For more information about the CART Toyota Atlantic series, visit www.ToyotaAtlantic.com, and the Dayton Indy Lights series website is located at www.indylights.com
6/8/01
Is it really CART's fault?  Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage reported today that ticket sales are off for this weekends IRL race.  TMS officials and members of the media have blamed the economy and CART's recent postponement at TMS for confusing the fans into thinking this race might be cancelled too.  In reality, here is how we see it.  Attendance for all CART and IRL oval track races have been dropping for years.  The first IRL race at Las Vegas had a great attendance.  After that it was all downhill from there until the race was finally cancelled.  Ditto for New Hampshire, Dover, Charlotte, and Atlanta, all cancelled for poor attendance (and in some cases for fear of more wheels flying into the grandstands).  Attendance at the first IRL at TMS was announced as 107,000 (if our memory serves us correctly).  It's been downhill ever since, so to blame CART that it's down again this year is questionable.  If you want to point a finger, point it at 1) The CART/IRL Split, 2) Over saturation of motorsports in the USA, 3) CART's clean sweep at Indy.
6/7/01

Chevy to sponsor Texas races  They do things big in Texas, from cattle ranching to building race tracks. In keeping with the expansive spirit of the Lone Star state, Chevrolet will sponsor two events at Texas Motor Speedway in a single weekend: the Silverado 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday, Sept. 15, and the Chevy 500 Indy Racing Northern Light Series event on Sunday, Sept. 16. "As part of our recently announced return to open-wheel racing and the Indianapolis 500, Chevrolet is proud to take on this significant sponsorship role for these exciting events at Texas Motor Speedway," said Chevrolet general manager Kurt Ritter. "Chevrolet has a strong partnership with this great facility that every race fan can appreciate. We feel that the addition of the Silverado 350 and the Chevy 500 further solidifies our relationship with the fans, the track and the sanctioning organizations." Chevrolet's sponsorship of the season finale of the 13-race Indy Racing Northern Light Series is a preview of things to come in open-wheel racing. In 2002, Chevrolet will step into the IRL arena as an engine manufacturer with a new Indy Racing engine wearing the famous red Bowtie. 
6/7/01
Eddie Cheever has a bad day, loses sponsor  UPDATE We reported back on April 20th that Cheever's sponsorship was probably in trouble.  Today it was made official.  Excite has terminated their contract with Cheever's IRL team.  The team said they will continue without a sponsor.  We assume that means with assistance from Nissan or possibly Tony George, although that's pure speculation on our part.  What this does underscore is the over saturation in the USA motorsports market and why, we have urged CART, who is perfectly positioned, to become a true global series so it can attract the bigger sponsors, not just ones from the tapped out USA market. There is also speculation/rumor that Excite was not too happy with Eddie at Phoenix for calling Helio "Fidel Castroneves" on prime time TV.   Word has it that the company made it clear they don't tolerate such racism.  Perhaps they waited until after Indy to pull the plug.  4/20/01 - Eddie Cheever had a very bad day today.  First he made a fool out of himself on RPM2Night by saying there are only two 'open' wheel series in the USA, NASCAR and the IRL.  Maybe he was still in shock about his sponsor news and had a bit of, shall we say, brain fade.  AT&T, the US telephone and cable television operator, said it would take a charge of $740m to $780m in the first quarter as a result of the financial difficulties at Excite@Home (Cheever's sponsor), the internet service provider. AT&T, which owns 23 per cent of Excite, said the charge would reduce first-quarter earnings by between $280m and $320m. The charge was disclosed in an SEC filing after the market close on Thursday. Excite on Tuesday warned that first-quarter revenues would be lower than expected due to weakness in the online advertising sector, and said it was running out of cash faster than had been forecast for the rest of 2001. The company said it expected to report a per share loss of between 14 cents and 15 cents in the first quarter, a steep slide from the one cent per share loss in the year-ago quarter. 
6/7/01
More news on Brack's popularity in Sweden  A reader from Sweden writes - After his first victory in CART, he was on the front page of many nationwide newspapers here in Sweden. Lately I've also seen a lot of him on TV and radio. When asked "Will you go to F1 if they call?"  He answered, "I think F1 is to caught up in technology and money, so that the young talented guys have no chance unless they're the #1 driver in teams like Ferrari or McLaren.  CART is more about the driver and puts him first, not money or technology/material superiority.  This Sunday they will show the Milwaukee race on TV.  I'll be watching. Kris
6/7/01

Comparing CART & IRL G's at TMS  The first practice session for the IRL at Texas is over.  Cannot compare CART to IRL speeds because they use different track lengths. However, we can compare times.   Mark Dismore turned a 24.35 sec. in practice #1 compared to CART's Tony Kanaan 22.85 sec. in practice #1. The difference is 1.5 seconds per lap, or 6.6%.  Because acceleration is a function of velocity squared, the acceleration G goes up by 13.6% from the IRL to CART.  Thus if its, say, 4 G's in an IRL car, its 4.6 G's in a CART Champ car.  Our assumptions are assuming both cars are 100% throttle the entire lap.
6/7/01
Larry Curry sentenced to prison  Larry Curry, co-owner of Tri Star Motorsports, was sentenced this week to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty in March to charges of mail fraud against his former employer, Team Menard. Curry was John Menard's team manager from 1996 to 1998, winning the IRL's title with driver Tony Stewart in '97. Curry was fired by Menard at the end of the 1998 season. Menard later learned of irregularities in billing approved by Curry. Curry falsified invoices that were submitted to the team, which paid more than $1 million in fraudulent bills to MJB Chrome. Curry will spend at least 21 months confined to a minimum security facility, possibly in his home state of Florida. A judge in Wisconsin has not determined when the 49-year-old's punishment will begin. Star News
6/7/01
Hattori and Krumm run 1-2 Former CART drivers Naoki Hattori and Michael Krumm finished 1-2 in last weekends Formula Nippon (F3000) race at Mt. Fuji in Japan.  Hattori beat his teammate Krumm by 0.882 sec.  At the end Krumm caught Hattori, but Hattori never put a wheel wrong and Krumm could not find a way past over the final 39 laps.
6/7/01
CART looks to slow cars at Michigan and Fontana UPDATE CART just released this official statement - Defending FedEx Championship Series champion Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske will be one of five drivers who will participate Tuesday in a CART Special Test at Michigan International Speedway to evaluate Champ Car performance levels as well as newly mandated engine and aerodynamic changes. De Ferran will be joined by Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green, Max Papis of Team Rahal, Christian Fittipaldi of Newman/Haas Racing and Bryan Herta of Zakspeed/Forsythe Racing to test engine and aerodynamic changes that have been mandated for performance containment in the FedEx Championship Series’ preparation for the Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota set for July 22 at the 2-mile superspeedway. “The on-track activity from this test will verify the results of testing by teams and manufacturers to contain the race car’s performance in the best interest of our drivers and the sport,” said Kirk Russell, CART vice president of competition. “The test will allow us to receive valuable input from the drivers on the changes and evaluate if any further changes will be warranted. We greatly appreciate the cooperation of the teams and their drivers for this special test.” The one-day test will be divided into two sessions and encompass five hours of on-track activity. The first session will run from 9:30 a.m. – noon ET and the second from 2-4:30 p.m. CART Timing and Scoring will be working the sessions. Due to the nature of the test, it will not be open to the general public. The engine alteration will involve reducing the maximum manifold pressure (boost) from the current standard of 37 inches to 36 in an effort to contain power output. On the aerodynamic package, the backplate on the Handford MkI device, located on the rear wing, will extend downward an additional three inches, increasing it to nine inches in length. The move is expected to reduce downforce and improve the handling of the car in traffic. CART also will mandate that all FedEx Championship Series teams terminate all bodywork and aerodynamic devices 11 inches aft of the differential centerline, the lone exception being the rear wing. This change will remain in effect for the remainder of the season in an effort to limit specific development in this area that could potentially reduce drag and/or improve rear-wing efficiency. 6/5/01 -  On June 12th at Michigan, as part of a special test (allowed by the rulebook) CART will test three means to slow the cars at the high speed Michigan and Fontana tracks.  They will reduce boost pressure from 37" to 36" (to reduce HP), they will add 3" to the vertical back plate of the Handford Device (increase drag), and they will eliminate any bodywork that extends beyond 10" behind the rear wheel centerline. At the time the CART race at TMS was announced we proposed at bigger Handford Device back plate to create more drag to slow the cars.   CART is going to test that concept on June 12th.  However, we cautioned back then that the turbulence created by the larger vertical plate may be so great the driver's vision in the car that is following may be blurred.  I guess we will find out on June 12th whether that concern was valid. We view all this as a band-aid solution, and not a long-term plan to control speeds and improve the 'racing.'   In this article, back in July of last year, we proposed an idea to Dr. Mark Handford to come up with a long term solution to CART's aero problems and make the cars race better. He agreed it was an excellent idea worth studying.  It was there that we recommended to CART to increase underbody downforce and reduce the reliance on the wings to generate downforce.  The 'theory' is that underbody downforce may be less affected by turbulence, making the cars stick better when right behind another car.  We recommended that CART do the proper wind tunnel and track testing before implementing such measures, but we feel, based on how well the Toyota Atlantic cars race with big underbody tunnels, that the idea will work.  CART.  Are you listening?
6/6/01
Sears Point NASCAR preview show on FOX  For the third consecutive year, Northern California motorsports fans will be treated to a television show previewing the Dodge/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Winston Cup event at Sears Point Raceway. The "Dodge/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Preview Show" will air on six occasions in June on FOX Sports Net, debuting on Thursday, June 14, at 7:30 p.m.* The 30-minute program will be highlighted by an in-depth feature on the return of Dodge to NASCAR Winston Cup racing. The feature will include interviews with Ray Evernham and seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Richard Petty. The five remaining shows will air as follows (please check your local listings for the FOX Sports Net channel in your area): 
· Friday, June 15, 11 a.m.* 
· Saturday, June 16, 3 p.m.* 
· Sunday, June 17, 1 p.m.* 
· Thursday, June 21, 7:30 p.m.* 
· Friday, June 22, 1:30 p.m.* 
6/6/01

Reader feedback on joint CART, ALMS or NASCAR weekends  UPDATE We continue to get more feedback and have updated the feedback page.  We will do so for the next 2 days.  Earlier - We have received some very positive feedback on our proposal for joint CART, ALMS or NASCAR weekends.  We thought you might enjoy what people had to say.  Feedback
6/6/01
NASCAR News (from Jayski.com) Geoffrey Bodine will soon be back behind the wheel. He will be the new driver for the Phillips 66 team, replacing Tim Fedewa. Bodine will start driving at the Outback Steakhouse 300 in Kentucky. Jim Julow, who heads the Dodge motorsports program, said he's looking for competitive changes in his Winston Cup fleet of Intrepid R/Ts. The Dodge engine weights more than 25 pounds more than a Ford or GM motor. We think we got some weight in the engine we can take out, we think there are design changes that will help us in terms of making the car a more credible competitor, said Julow. We're pursuing those . . . I think there are some we can incorporate this year, assuming NASCAR agrees they are not significant or wholesale changes, that they are in the realm of continuous improvement. Daytona Beach News Journal)(6-5-2001) Wally Dallenbach Jr. is in the running for the third chair in NBC's racing broadcast booth. Dallenbach received high marks after auditioning for the job and will be part of a mock broadcast of this weekend's race at Michigan. NBC and TNT start their coverage of Winston Cup and Busch Series racing with the July 7 Pepsi 400 at Daytona(Daytona Beach News Journal)(6-5-2001). Darrell Waltrip was invited by Stacy Compton and Melling Racing to help the #92 Melling team during testing at Chicagoland Speedway this week. He will be an advisor and will also drive some of the cars.
6/5/01
Scott Pruett back in Winston Cup for Sears Point  One of the top road racers from the CART series, who proved himself on the road courses of stock car racing last year, will pilot the #33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet in the NASCAR Winston Cup road course race at Sonoma, Calif., on Sunday, June 24. Scott Pruett, the Sacramento, Calif., native who is one of the few to transition from professional sports car racing to CART to NASCAR, will drive the #33 Andy Petree Racing entry in the first of two road course races for the series this season.  "Scott showed what he could do last year at Sears Point," said Petree, who also owns the #55 Square-D Chevrolet of driver Bobby Hamilton. Pruett qualified ninth for the race at Sears Point Raceway last season before a broken transmission put him out of the race while he was leading. Pruett will run for Joe Nemechek, regular driver of the Oakwood Homes Chevrolet. Nemechek broke his right scapula and right arm at the elbow during a crash in Busch Grand National testing at Dover Downs (Del.) International Speedway last month. He is expected to return to the car soon after the Sonoma race. "We had a pretty good car a year ago at Sears Point and think we can put another good car out there this year," Petree said. "Couple that with Scott’s expertise on the road courses, and I’d say this Oakwood Homes bunch has a great shot at doing something pretty special in a couple of weeks."
6/5/01
NASCAR News  It was announced after practice for the Coca-Cola 600 that Dale Jarrett had a fractured rib. Later, it was reported by his team that the rib was not broken. At Dover, Jarrett confirmed the rib is broken, in addition to a torn muscle. He has undergone treatment for his medical condition.

A Daytona International Speedway doctor testified in a deposition Monday that the Dale Earnhardt autopsy photos were very graphic and disturbing. Dr. Steve Bohannon, one of the doctors who worked on Earnhardt after his fatal crash Feb. 18, was the only person outside Volusia County's medical examiner's office who viewed the photos before they were sealed. He told attorneys on Monday that he talked to Earnhardt's widow about a week after she filed a lawsuit to stop the photos from being made public. He described the photos to Teresa Earnhardt as graphic and said they showed Earnhardt's naked body and its dissection. Full AP story at CBS Sportsline(6-5-2001)


When she starts the 400-miler this Sunday, Shawna Robinson will become the first female driver since Patty Moise competed at Talladega, AL., on July 30, 1989, to start a NASCAR Winston Cup event. With the addition of four more races currently on her schedule this season - Chicago (July 15); Indianapolis (Aug. 5); Kansas (Sept. 30); and Atlanta (Nov. 18) - she will become the first female to run a regular schedule of NASCAR Winston Cup events since Janet Guthrie in 1980. The last female driver to finish a NASCAR Winston Cup race was Janet Guthrie at Pocono, who was 28th and running at the finish on July 27, 1980. Robinson entered and attempted to qualify the NASCAR Winston Cup race at California Speedway on April 29. Apparently headed to a very quick lap, the rear end gearing broke in her Aaron's Sales and Leasing Taurus, ending her lap - and her shot at making the race. With no points, she is driving the final car eligible for a provisional starting position. Aaron's Sales and Leasing of Atlanta is sponsoring MK Racing and Robinson in the races at California, Michigan, Indianapolis and Atlanta. MK Racing is owned by former Ford Racing executive and winning NASCAR Winston Cup car owner Michael Kranefuss. The team is planning on following its six races this season with a full NASCAR Winston Cup schedule in 2002, and Robinson competing for Rookie of the Year honors.


Team Consultant Phillippe Lopez will remain with the #90 Hills Bros. Ford team with driver Hut Stricklin for the remainder of the season.


Bill Davis is not expected to return to his regular schedule for several weeks. The owner of Ward Burton's and Dave Blaney's teams went into the hospital with kidney stones last week. He underwent a treatment process to break up the stones and was released but developed pain late that night. Davis' kidneys were bruised in the process. He remains in a High Point, N.C., hospital undergoing treatment.

6/5/01
Joe Heitzler to also become CART Chairman  UPDATE  We knew about this on June 2nd, but could not publish it until today. As we have said, if there was unhappiness with Joe Heitzler by some of the board members, this would not have happened.  This is a sign there is widespread support for him by the leadership of CART....contrary to other reports you may have read.   Joseph F. Heitzler has been named Chairman of the Board of Directors for CART. The announcement was made by acting CART Chairman and Board member James Hardymon. "I am very pleased to be able to make this announcement," said Hardymon. "I view Joe's commitment to building the CART organization and its racing product as an asset to the company. We look forward to Joe's leadership and direction at the Board level." Story  6/2/01 - Look for a major announcement concerning Joe Heitzler soon.  It will be a positive announcement and is a vote of confidence in Joe from CART's board members.
6/5/01
Chevrolet returns to Indy Car racing  Chevrolet General Manager Kurt Ritter announced today that Chevrolet will compete in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series in 2002. "Beginning next year, Chevrolet will return to open-wheel racing and the Indianapolis 500," Ritter said. "We are very proud of Chevrolet's record in Indy-car racing, which includes six straight Indianapolis 500 victories from 1988-93. We are looking forward to continuing that winning heritage when we return." Said Tony George, president and CEO of the Indy Racing League: "The return of Chevrolet to Indy Racing competition is another sign of growth for the Indy Racing League. There is no brand more identified with American racing than Chevrolet, and as we continue to grow the Indy Racing League, Chevrolet will be an important partner to us." George also noted the strong contribution of General Motors to the Indy Racing League. "General Motors was there when we began the Indy Racing League, and Oldsmobile has been very important in getting us to where we are today. We look forward to this continuing relationship with the GM family." Chevrolet will return to the arena of open-wheel racing after an eight-year absence. Chevrolet competed in Indy-style racing from 1986-93, winning 86 races, 80 poles and five series championships. The red Bowtie has long been a symbol of success in American motorsports. No other car or truck manufacturer can match the number of NASCAR, NHRA, road racing and off-road championships that Chevrolet has won. "Chevrolet's return to open-wheel racing is great news for racing fans who have missed Chevy's presence in this very prestigious race circuit," said Ritter. "We're proud to be back ... and we look forward to powering future winners of races like the Indy 500 for many years to come." There will be a new Chevrolet engine specification in 2002 and an all-new engine in 2003. "GM Racing is developing a new Chevrolet Indy Racing engine for 2002 based on GM Powertrain's Premium V engine platform and on the series' current technical requirements," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL/Road Racing Group manager. "The Chevrolet Indy Racing engine we will introduce next year will be significantly different from the current Oldsmobile IRL engine, with improved efficiency and higher output. This project will also accelerate our development program as we make the transition to the new IRL engine rules that will take effect in 2003." General Motors has been an engine supplier in the Indy Racing League since the series introduced its naturally aspirated engine formula in January 1997. Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 engines have won 41 of 42 races (including five straight Indianapolis 500 victories) and have swept the series championships for the last four years. Oldsmobile will continue to race in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series through the end of the 2001 season. GM is committed to the Indy Racing League as an engine supplier through at least 2005. "Oldsmobile will continue its full participation in the Indy Racing League's 2001 season," said Debra Kelly-Ennis, Oldsmobile general manager. "Oldsmobile intends to continue as the dominant force in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series for the remainder of this season, and we plan to finish in winning style with a fifth consecutive Engine Manufacturer championship."
6/5/01
Industry News
Promising new soft wall to be tested  Safari Associates Inc. announced today that it will conduct a live, controlled crash demonstration of its revolutionary, new soft wall at Indianapolis Raceway Park in early July. Constructed of Molecuthane TM, a new, energy absorbing material originally developed for the military, Safari's soft wall reduces impact G-force by as much as 70%. Tests performed by a leading independent testing lab verify that Molecuthane not only has 3 times more load capacity than equivalent polystyrene, but it is also extremely durable and returns to its original shape after impact, making it reusable, without requiring trace interruptions for barrier repair.  Full Story (PDF)
6/5/01
Lola's 100 Champ Car wins  Lola’s 100 CART wins broken down into Engine manufacturers, Teams, Drivers and Driver Nationalities can be found below. 
Engine manufacturers: 
1. Ford-Cosworth 48 
2. Chevrolet 44 
3. Toyota 5 
4. Honda 3 
Teams: 
1. Newman/Haas 55 
2. Galles-Kraco Racing 9 
3. Domino’s/Team Shierson 7 
4. Rahal Hogan 4 
5. Target/Chip Ganassi 4 
6. Galles Racing 3 
7. Patrick Racing 3 
8. Tasman Motorsports 3 
9. TrueSports 3 
10. Kraco Racing 2 
11. Vince Granatelli Racing 2 
12. Team Rahal 2 
13. Jim Hall Racing 1 
14. Budweiser King Racing 1 
15. Walker Racing 1 
Drivers: 
1. Michael Andretti 28 
2. Mario Andretti 18 
3. Al Unser Jr 13 
4. Bobby Rahal 10 
5. Nigel Mansell 5 
6. Danny Sullivan 4 
7. Arie Luyendyk 3 
8. Emerson Fittipaldi 2 
9. Scott Goodyear 2 
10. Juan Pablo Montoya 2 
11. Andre Ribeiro 2 
12. Paul Tracy 2 
13. Kenny Brack 2 
14. John Andretti 1 
15. Cristiano Da Matta 1 
16. Adrian Fernandez 1 
17. Christian Fittipaldi 1 
18. Scott Pruett 1 
19. Jimmy Vasser 1 
Driver Nationalities: 
1. USA 76 
2. Brazil 6 
3. England 5 
4. Canada 4 
5. Netherlands 3 
6. Colombia 3 
7. Sweden 2 
8. Mexico 1 
6/5/01
Lola hires Tate  Lola Cars International announced the appointment of Christopher Tate as Group Marketing Director. Tate will work closely with Managing Director, David Bowes, to create new opportunities not only in further sales in motor sports, but also in Lola’s new markets for its extreme technology in the wider automotive industry, in sports equipment, the defence industry and in telecommunications. Tate, 48, comes to Lola after six years as co-founder and Marketing Director of Britain’s all-new motorsports complex at Rockingham, near Corby. He will be developing a new in-house capability at Lola to cover the rapidly expanding Group’s wide range of marketing and communications needs. “I was delighted to have been asked to create this new position at Lola,” said Christopher Tate. “Martin Birrane (Lola’s Executive Chairman and owner) and I first met at Le Mans, way back in 1977. I have always had tremendous respect for him, and now for his achievements in the four years he has owned Lola, and for his integrity, determination and future plans. David Bowes, I met whilst we were creating Rockingham; David’s track record at Rover, and now at Lola, has brought solidity and skill to the race car industry and has meant this company is now buzzing with enthusiasm and is enjoying major investment. I’m really looking forward to working with a world class team of talent.” David Bowes, in confirming Tate’s appointment, pointed out that Lola has been growing very fast.
6/5/01
Detroit proposes new track...again  Less than a year after opponents killed a plan to relocate the Detroit Grand Prix to the Michigan State Fairgrounds, state fair officials are again angling to host the Belle Isle-based race. Unlike previous proposals, Michigan State Fair General Manager John Hertel is pitching a one-race deal. Instead of building a permanent oval track for multiple races, he wants a temporary, serpentine track on the fairgrounds next year for the Grand Prix. On Sunday, Hertel said he will pitch his idea to the Grand Prix's owners this week. [Editor's Note - with Mexico City, China, Monza or Imola, Washington DC, New York City, Sebring, Watkins Glen, etc. out there, CART is going to have to determine what fits their long term goals best] Full Story in Detroit Free Press
6/4/01
Atlantics: Management changes at DSTP  Dede Rogers, owner of the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic championship-winning DSTP Atlantic team, today announced that she has taken a proactive step toward ensuring the future of DSTP in the Atlantic series via the restructuring of several key management positions. Following the release of vice president Jim Griffith, team manager Pam Griffith and data specialist Bruce Potter, Craig Perkins fills the role of interim race engineer, while DSTP Atlantic championship-winning driver Buddy Rice and S3 Racing principal Kent Stacy serve as team advisors. "I consider this to be the finest team in the Atlantic series," said Rogers. "I felt it was in the best interest of DSTP and to all of the guys on the crew to implement these management changes effective immediately. My commitment is to focus on the Atlantic series and to seek further Atlantic victories and championship titles. We have a great driver in Joey Hand and some terrific people supporting us. Jim, Pam and Bruce have served us well over the years and I certainly wish the best for them and their future endeavors." Perkins most recently served as Mike Conte's race engineer at Lynx Racing during the 2000 CART Toyota Atlantic season after several years of Indy Lights, sports car and Ferrari Challenge experience. As a team owner, Stacy has been instrumental to the careers of several young drivers in Formula Mazda, sports car and NASCAR competition. Stacy also fielded Hand's 1999 Star Mazda Series Best Western and West Division championship-winning efforts. Rice re-joins DSTP in an advisory capacity on race strategy, car set-up and vehicle dynamics. Bud Wilkinson, who also worked with Hand at S3 Racing, takes over as data specialist. 
6/4/01

Paul Ricard circuit in southern France getting major upgrades  UPDATE We have added an image of the Paul Ricard circuit.  Note the long Mistral Straight, ideal for passing, something CART certainly needs more of. It is an ideal circuit for CART.  The track is located 34 km east of Marseille, 200 km west of Nice, and 20 km north of Bandol. The nearest Airport is Marseille Marignane. It measures 3.610 miles in length (full course), and 2.369 miles (short course).  Toyota has said this will be their primary test track for their F1 car. Mario Andretti can tell you all about Paul Ricard, he won two (?) F1 races there. Slipstreaming was quite common when the F1 cars raced there.  Earlier - We learned over the weekend that Bernie Ecclestone is investing a lot of money into the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France.  The entire track is being repaved, safety is being brought up to the latest FIA standards, etc.  With its warm climate, it will be a hot bed of F1 testing, especially during the cold winter months.  Bernie Ecclestone still needs a 'big' race there and with Magny Cours having the French GP date locked up, perhaps we will someday see CART race there.
6/4/01
Indy Lights/IRL  UPDATE Bobby Rahal said over the weekend in Milwaukee that he feels the creation of the IRL has caused the Indy Lights fields to shrink drastically. There is certainly a lot of truth in that statement.  For years we suggested that IRL replace Indy Lights as the support series for Champ Cars.  Of course that wasn't going to fly with Tony George who wasn't about to have the IRL viewed as a step below CART (which is where just about everyone else agrees it is and in fact was proven by the results of the last two Indy 500's).  With that said, there is still a lot of merit in using IRL equipment as Indy Lights cars, with real purses, various manufacturers, and a big step up from Toyota Atlantics.  Joe Heitzler said this weekend that CART is planning on a long-term formula for Indy Lights, but not until 2003 (there may be no Lights series in 2002).  Might that long-term formula be IRL equipment with detuned engines and very controlled rules to keep costs down?   6/2/01 - We spoke with one car manufacturer this morning in Milwaukee who submitted a bid for the new Indy Lights contract.  We asked his opinion about the idea of CART adopting the IRL chassis, and a detuned version of the IRL engine for Indy Lights (and then use those same cars to run the Indy 500 each year). He said "that was the bloody best idea I have heard yet, but that makes too much logic for CART to do that!"  We then immediately proceeded down the paddock to talk to one of the leading Indy Lights car owners.  We asked him the same question.  He too agreed that would be a good solution.  He agreed the Atlantics to Light step is too small.  Either Atlantics has to go down in HP, or Lights has to go up.  As a team owner he would like the chance to have cars that he can go to the Indy 500 too.  The consensus of many we spoke to in the paddock was that more Champ car owners would look at fielding a Lights team if they can sell a package deal to a sponsor that included the Indy 500.  This would mean that Lights would not be as much a 'spec' series as it is now, but that means more diversity and more interest in the series.  Cost would be higher yes (currently around $1.1 million), but rules can be put in place to keep the cost below an IRL effort (about $3 million per year) by making the detuned engines last longer between rebuilds and not allowing aero updates, or engine updates from year to year.  They would only be required for the Indy 500 where an owner would buy or lease an IRL version of the engine and any aero upgrades that came out since the previous year.
6/4/01
IROC NEWS
Unser to replace injured Goodyear  Al Unser Jr., a full-time driver in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series and two-time True Value International Race of Champions (IROC) series champion, will substitute for the injured Scott Goodyear in the True Value IROC race June 9 at Michigan International Speedway. Goodyear suffered a lower back fracture in an accident on Lap 8 of the 85th Indianapolis 500 on May 27 and will spend the next few weeks recuperating. "We'll miss not having Scott with us at Michigan," said Jay Signore, president of IROC. "He's been a joy to work with, a great competitor and representative of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. He needs to take care of himself, listen to Dr. Terry Trammell, and hopefully, we'll see him back for the finale at Indy. "Unser has a great track record in our series, and we're confident he'll do a great job. We're grateful to have Al back and thank him for jumping in for Scott." Unser has competed 13 times in the True Value IROC series and won the championship in 1986, his rookie year in IROC. He repeated as champion in 1988. Four of his 11 wins have come at Michigan International Speedway. Unser drives full time in the Northern Light Series for Galles Racing in the No. 3 Starz SuperPak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. The IROC race is scheduled to get underway at noon (EDT) on June 9, and once that race is completed, Unser will fly to Texas Motor Speedway to compete in the Northern Light Series' Casino Magic 500, which will be run under the lights at 8 p.m. (EDT). Eddie Cheever Jr., Mark Dismore and Buddy Lazier also will complete the IROC-Indy Racing daily double June 9. "The most important thing to me right now is that Scott Goodyear has a speedy recovery," said Unser, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner. "As always, it is a great honor to be invited to race in IROC, and I am looking forward to a very competitive race in Michigan." The IROC race at Michigan is the third of the four-race 2001 series schedule, and will be broadcast at 5 p.m. (EDT) June 9 on ESPN. The final race of the season will take place Aug. 4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
6/4/01

Creation of IRL has caused enormous fan confusion  A reader writes - I am writing about the articles from the Dallas Morning News regarding the Tony George interview and the IRL "education" seminar at TMS. There was something about those two pieces that kept bothering me and until yesterday, I was unable to put my finger on it. The Tony George interview and the TMS press conference is by far one of the greatest examples of the damage done to open-wheel racing since the inception of the IRL. The seminar and interview are not really "newsworthy" in terms of national coverage, but they speak volumes about the confusion and disenchantment of the average fan. Here you have the IRL coming off (one week) it's showcase event, granted the results were not in their favor but to the average fan, there should be no mistake that the Indy 500 is an IRL event. ABC and IMS made sure "IRL" was mentioned a thousand times during the telecast. The fact that TMS/IRL had to have a "education" seminar at a track they been to several times tells me that the creation of the IRL has done much more damage than I really thought, even after 5 years of racing, the IRL has been unable to distinguish itself and their formula in an area they claim to have so much success. Also the fact that IRL had to put out a full page add in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to explain how much success IRL has had at Texas shows that the average fan is just not catching on (also shows Tony George is not leaving promotion up to the track). I may be reading more into this than I should, but I try to read in between the lines and personally I feel this is a great example of how real and serious the open-wheel problem has become. I have read several commentaries how the last Indy 500 helped bridge the riff between CART/IRL and after reading these two articles, I am not so sure. If anything, there may be more confusion than ever.

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