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8/3/01 to 8/11/01)
Audio from Mid-Ohio
Press Conference (Real Media)
Gil de Ferran on
winning pole after flipping last year
Gil de Ferran on the team's tremendous success at Mid-Ohio
Castroneves, who qualified second, on being upset after getting caught in traffic late in qualifying, preventing him from catching de Ferran for the pole. Last year, Castroneves also started second and wound up winning the race.
Patrick Carpentier on qualifying third after a problem with his primary car
wrap with Tom Michaels
Gil de Ferran after turning top
practice speed on Friday
Helio Castroneves after
turning 2nd fastest time on Friday
Kenny Brack after struggling
somewhat on Friday, and CART in Sweden
Bryan Herta after turning 6th
fastest time on Friday
Max Papis after struggling on
Audio Highlights from Friday
Fan Forum with John Hammer
Article on Mexico City race Here
is a very poorly translated (Spanish to English) article from the
newspaper Reforma in Mexico City about the soon to be announced Mexico
City race. We think you can still make out what it says. - By Sandra
Becerril / Reforma Daily newspaper of City of Mexico, Mexico (31 July 2001). - The advice of owners of tax exemptions and teams of CART now approved the project for the accomplishment of a date of the championship in the Federal District during the 2002 and only lack that the Mexican organizers and the serial sign corresponding contracts to confirm the second race in Mexico for the following year. Then, there is an 80 percent of possibilities that in Aztec
soil will have two CART races in the 2002 are celebrated, since Monterrey already counts on a date from the present year. A source that was present during the meeting deprived in Chicago last Thursday, said that the project presented/displayed by Ron Dickson to name of the Inter-American Corporation of
Entertainment and Gerald Forsythe, was approved unanimously by the 19 members of the group of directors of CART. Dickson, who works for Forsythe, and that designed the track of the Fundidora Park where in last March the inaugural date of CART in Monterrey was run, has been living in the Federal District for more on a month, in which there is been preparing the project of remodeling of the Automobile race track Brothers Rodriguez, where has itself thought to make the event automobile. In the meeting a scale model of the Automobile race track was presented/displayed, where to the improvements and changes are detailed that will have to do to the capital circuit, works that will have a total investment, along with the promotion of the race of between 25 and 30 million dollars. According to source, CIE, corporative of the Mexican company of spectacles OCESA, presided over by Alexander Soberón, still it must reunite the corresponding permissions for the race with the government of the
DF and the rest of construction contracts and these must as well be approved by CART, so that a contract can be signed and the competition can be announced officially. The race will be made between September and October of the 2002, is to say in the final part of the calendar CART. " I have understood that it would be in October and it is thinking that he is in the Automobile race track Brothers Rodriguez, in fact already one is working in a project for the remodeling of the automobile race track ", said the source. " This approval does not mean that already the race can be given like a fact, but that the central negotiations are very near and that in a moment a great official announcement will be made of the race, if CART and CIE reach an agreement for the company/signature of contracts ", added. In the society he invited himself to Cuauhtémoc Brewery, but he has not confirmed himself yes will be in this new project, as well as there are other companies like Herdez that are bound to CART and which they are eager to participate in the subject.
Attendance up at Mid-Ohio Although
Mid-Ohio will not release any official attendance figures, they did admit
to us that attendance was up over last years crowd. The hill in the
esses at the end of the long back straight looked almost as full as it
does on race days. We talked to a local newspaper wag who does
estimates each year and he told us it was probably close to 50,000 today.
Townsend Bell wins pole for Mid-Ohio Series points leader Townsend Bell
(DirecWay Lola) earned his fourth pole in the last five races and his second in a row in final qualifying Saturday for Sunday's Dayton Indy Lights Championship race at Mid-Ohio. Bell has now built a full-race 20-point lead in the championship heading into tomorrow's race that runs at 2:45 p.m. ET. Although neither Bell nor any other driver in the top four managed to improve on Friday's provisional lap times, the championship leader still posted his second-straight series pole and track record based on Friday's lap of 110.133 mph (73.809 seconds). Bell broke the 2000 track record of 109.092 mph (74.513 seconds) set by his former Dorricott Racing teammate Jason Bright. Bell was also on the pole with a new track record one race ago in Toronto, and the second-year Californian also earned the top qualifying spot in June's races at Milwaukee and Portland. The pole run has only been interrupted by last month's race at Kansas Speedway where he still managed to grid in the second starting position.
More on CART TV numbers We had
the opportunity to speak with CART's Keith Allo here in Mid-Ohio, in
charge of doing CART's TV deals. He said, "There are a lot of
rumors out there that are not correct. The fact is we will have a TV
deal and it will be better than we had in the past. The final deal
can go one way or the other, and it's really not too hard to guess what
the options are. He said "I think it will be done in about three
weeks, but I said that three weeks ago, it will be done when i is
done." We then asked him about TV ratings. He said
"we hope to commission a new study after this season is over, but it
is a very expensive proposition." We asked him how real the
near 1 billion TV viewers per year numbers were that CART published two
years ago. He said "the 1 billion per year number was very
conservative". He said "it's very hard to get accurate
numbers in some countries, so we had to be very conservative. The
number may have been 2 billion per year, but I could not substantiate that
so we did not say that." He was very confident that he could
stand up to any challenges on the 1 billion number. Assuming he is
correct, than 1 billion/200 countries/20 races = 250,000 viewers per race
per country. Compare that to the very low 50,000 per race we have
been using recently and it becomes quite clear CART has something to sell
to sponsors, but all we see published in the USA press is how bad CART's
TV numbers are.
Updated HP Numbers (F1
numbers from http://www.jacques.villeneuve.com/express)
have some updated HP numbers for F1 and CART. Note how close the F1
engines are to the Champ Car engines, given F1 cars weigh so much
less. And you wonder why F1 cars blow Champ Cars away? Wait until
CART takes some 200 HP away. Note that some Champ Car engines are now
cranking 17,000+ RPM in qualifying according to one engine rep, while the
F1 engines are turning 18,000 to 19,000 RPM. Note, these numbers
were gathered from talking to various folks and may not be exact as nobody
wants to give away what they really might be cranking out for fear others
will try harder to catch up.
Example of high F1 costs What's
it take to finance a F1 team, just to have a presence with no chance of
winning? Here is what the BAR team sponsor contribute to their
$167.5 million budget. McLaren and Ferrari are rumored to both be
well over $200 million per year.
Honda $110.0 million
BAT (Lucky Strike) $50.0 million
Tiscali $5.5 million
Bridgestone $5.0 million
Intercond $2.5 million
Multimoda/K-Way $2.5 million
Sonax $2.0 million (Source http://www.jacques.villeneuve.com/express)
News about 2002 Honda F1 engine Some interesting news has emerged on the 2002 Honda engine. According to the latest reports, the engine Honda will supply BAR and Jordan next season will have a wide V-angle - though not as wide as this season's Renault 111-degree RS21. News about Honda adopting a wider V-angle for their engine had already started filtering last month but it now seems a dead certainty that the Japanese engine manufacturer will take this route with engine architecture. Honda's RA002E engine should have a V-angle of 96 degrees. This season's motor has an 85-degree V-angle compared to the 90 degrees of the BMW and Ferrari engines.
Having a wider V-angle helps reduce the car's overall center of gravity, which improves the handling. However, Honda's 2002 engine will not be excessively wide as this year's Renault RS21 so as to avoid having problems with the exhaust system, aspiration and reliability problems that are created with this type of
Branding the CART name outside the
USA. As we have stated
often, CART hasn't 'branded' the CART name in the USA, and it gets
even worse outside the USA. You might be interested to know that neither " CART " nor " Champ Car " are
internationally protected and registered brandings. In Europe they are the
registered commercial property of individuals. Therefore we can understand that no
European promoter wants to display these names as they might run into lengthy
and costly legal difficulties. This peace of information probably does not
alter our view on the question about CART branding 'CART' or 'Champ Car'.
How could they brand and protect something they actually "de facto" and "de jure" do not
own? Which puts us back to our recommendation that CART should do a
very long term deal with FedEx to call their cars "FedEx
Cars." The FedEx name is protected worldwide and it is
branded worldwide. As we have stated repeatedly, the deal would have
to be for 25 or, or even perhaps 50 years to ensure CART would not lose
any investment they made with advertising that name. A post in our CART Forum pointed out that the FedEx logo
our Paul Josephson was referring to in his recent CART branding article is actually the FedEx Championship Series logo (hereafter, Champ logo). That's true. FedEx is the name that stands out in the Champ logo which also contains the CART logo. Admittedly,
he didn't see the CART logo when he looked at the Champ logo because the CART logo is such a small part of it that it is almost unnoticeable. (If
he missed seeing the CART logo in the Champ logo, we imagine that other people don't see it either unless they study it.)
we still say that this adds to the confusion and that some form of stronger branding is needed for the series.
Sperafico fastest at Mid-Ohio After a 30-minute qualifying session that
saw the provisional pole change hands ten times, it was Brazilian Alex Sperafico who fought the good fight to hold onto the overnight pole.
Lapping the sinuous 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1:24.185 sec.
for an average speed of 96.559 mph in his Bauducco Dodge Reynard, Sperafico
waited until the 26th minute to post his time. Previously, the pole had been
held by six different drivers among them Davy Cook and Sepp Koster who ended
the session second and third respectively. "The car was good at the beginning of the session and then it began to understeer a lot. I made some changes to the car at the end of the session
I was able to find a lot of grip in turn-1 and some other corners where I previously couldn't go faster," said Sperafico who has previously driven in
the Brazilian F-3 series. "I had lost radio communication midway through so
I didn't even know I had the provisional pole until it was over. The track
should be faster tomorrow with more rubber down but if it's still hot, I don't know what will happen."
F1 engine materials info Honda
tells us - The principal metals employed in the construction of a Formula One engine are aluminum, magnesium, titanium and steel alloys, albeit in a specialized format, while other materials, such as carbon composites and ceramics, feature to a lesser extent. Aluminum is the most common material and its inherent stiffness means that all the major components such as the cylinder head, cylinder block and the pistons are built from it. Many of these components are constructed from special aluminum alloys such as Metal Matrix Composite (MMC), an advanced material which is starting to be adopted in F1. An added benefit of using aluminum is its excellent heat transfer characteristics, resulting in the heat generated within the engine being moved to the exterior quickly and dispersed efficiently. Magnesium is lighter than aluminum but has less stiffness and is used in parts such as the cam covers, while the connecting rods (between the piston and the crankshaft) are made of titanium as well as some parts of the valve train. Although it is slightly heavier than aluminum, titanium is significantly stiffer. Steel alloys (composed of several metals eg. nickel and chromium) are used for the crankshaft, as the high-energy component requires a high-strength specialist material. Although carbon composite is a staple material in chassis construction, it has limited application in an engine, most visibly on the coil covers. The lightness and insulating qualities of ceramic mean that it has wider benefits but its relative fragility means that it is still very difficult to apply to an F1 engine. Some manufacturers use it as a coating in the exhaust ports to prevent heat transfer from the exhaust gases to the cylinder heads, while several teams use a ceramic coating on the exhaust pipes. The exhaust system itself is made from inconel, a special nickel-zinc-chromium alloy developed for the casings of aero engines. It is a very thin and light metal but extremely stable at high operating temperatures, around 800-900 degrees Celsius, and during the rapid heating and cooling process an exhaust undergoes on an F1 car.
Herbert will drive in CART if deal is right
We spoke with Dale Coyne today about a lot of things. One was
how well Johnny Herbert did when he drove a Champ Car for the first time
at Rockingham. We asked Dale if he thought Herbert was sincere when
he said he would not drive at Rockingham. Dale said, "no he
would drive but he does not want a 1-race deal. If we can do
something for the rest of the year starting with Germany, then I think he
would be interested." We also asked him what he thought
about international expansion for CART and he said that for his team,
there has been more interest from outside the USA then within for
sponsorship. He said sponsors want to know about next years TV
package before committing to anything, so the pressure is on Joe Heitzler
to produce......not only for Dale Coyne Racing, but for all the team.
Heitzler still working on TV deal Joe Heitzler, wasn't on hand for Friday's opening round of practice for the Miller Lite 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course because
he was talking to network executives about next year's television schedule for the series.
``We want to make sure we have a television package that will enable us to properly cover all aspects of our races,'' Rena Shanaman, CART's vice president for promoter relations, told about 300 people who filled an infield tent for
today's Fan Forum. She said CART officials hoped to extend coverage of all races by at least 30 minutes to allow more pre- and post-race activity to be shown.
``Stay tuned and we'll hopefully have something definite in the next couple of weeks,'' she said.
CART gets 5 share on TV in Sweden Did
you know that of Sweden's small 9 million population, 500,000 watch each
CART race. That's a 5 share, which is not too bad and is far above
our estimated average of 50,000 viewers in 200 countries.
CART Insider stock trading 2nd UPDATE
Here's more - Mr. James Grospart of Copart Auto Auctions is also something of a
philanthropist... Lynx Racing driver Michael Valiante's CART Toyota Atlantic car was sponsored for several races by
Copart. 8/10/01 - Some research on James
Grospart - he is one of the officers of Copart, a Nasdaq listed company that is doing very well. Unfortunately, the description of the company, from the Forbes site, is as follows: Founded in 1982, Copart provides vehicle suppliers -- primarily insurance companies -- with a full menu of services to process and sell salvage vehicles through auctions, principally to licensed dismantlers, rebuilders and used vehicle dealers. Salvage vehicles are either damaged vehicles deemed a total loss for insurance or business purposes, or recovered stolen vehicles for which an insurance settlement with the vehicle's owner has been made. Operating 83 facilities in 37 states, Copart also provides services to other geographic areas through its national network of independent salvage vehicle suppliers.
Although an auto salvage business, there is an automotive connection
there, so who knows what Mr. Grospart's intentions are. Will CART someday
be sponsor by an auto salvage company? 8/9/01 - We
thought you might like to see some recent insider
stock trading for CART's Stock (MPH). Also, a check with
the SEC reveals that Jerry Forsythe is no longer the largest single
shareholder of CART stock. That distinction belongs to a James
Grosfeld who has been buying up stock, but it's unclear what his interest
in CART is. He now owns 1,352,200 shares to Forsythe's 1,203,000
shares. Between the two, they own about $40 million in CART stock at
Heritage and Mellencamp team up Heritage Motorsports is teaming up
with the Indy Racing League and its "Take a Ride with Us" advertising campaign, which features legendary rock star John
Mellencamp. The team's new red, white and blue John Mellencamp-themed car will help
promote the Indiana rocker's new album and summer concert tour and will be featured in the "Take a Ride With Us" campaign for the remainder of
the season. The new paint scheme debuts this weekend at the Belterra Casino Indy 300 and will remain on the car for the final three races of
the season. Another key element of this promotion is the opportunity for both the
Indy Racing League and Heritage Motorsports' sponsors to reach thousands of fans at concerts throughout the summer. A Heritage Motorsports/"Take
a Ride With Us" Indy Racing car will be on display at all of Mellencamp's concerts on his "Cuttin' Heads" 2001 tour through
September. The team is looking for additional sponsors to take advantage of this multimillion-dollar marketing
Rain shower did not catch Barron out in Germany We spoke with
Dale Coyne today about Germany. We asked him what happened to cause
Alex Barron's spin. It turns out it was not a rain shower that
caught him out, as reported by Autosport. The team was trying
different downforce levels and it was simply a lack of grip that Barron
was not expecting that caused the car to snap around.
Lights: Townsend Bell continues dominating ways at Mid Ohio Dayton Indy Lights Championship points leader Townsend Bell
(DirecWay Lola) got off to a fast defense of his 2000 victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Friday with a new track record in first round qualifying for Sunday's race on the famous Buckeye road course.
Bell, who has a 19-point lead in the championship over teammate Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola), drove one-lap around the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio layout at an average speed of 110.113 mph (73.809 seconds). He broke the 2000 track record of 109.092 mph (74.513 seconds) set by his former Dorricott Racing teammate Jason Bright. Bell, who passed Bright for his first Indy Lights win at Mid-Ohio last year, is in his second season with the Dorricott team.
"The DirecWay car was totally hooked up", Bell said. "It was perfect from the get-go. We made an adjustment on the pit stop and then changed tires. The car was rock solid from that point. We started running track or near track record laps so I couldn't be happier."
Dan Wheldon (Gemstar Communications/PacWest Lights Lola) was also under Bright's former record, lapping at an average speed of 109.607 mph (74.163 seconds). The British rookie, who won a 1999 U.S Formula Ford 2000 race at Mid-Ohio in 1999, also paced this morning's practice session.
Rahal reiterates ISC threw CART out of MIS
In the CART fan forum today, Bobby Rahal once again stated loud and clear
"when I was CEO last year ISC told me they were not going to renew
CART's contract at MIS after 2001." So do not blame CART that
they will not be back at MIS. Place a call to ISC in Daytona Beach
and tell them how you feel. With that said, we still think it's
possible CART will rent the track and promote the race themselves in the
Cheever tops charts in Kentucky Eddie Cheever Jr. put on an amazing
display of consistent speed during practice for the Belterra Casino Indy 300, leading both sessions with times separated by just six
ten-thousandths of a second. 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Cheever led the second session with a top
lap of 25.1826 seconds, 214.434 mph in the #51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. That was a near-mirror image of his
session-leading morning best of 25.1820, 214.439. "The car felt good, and we were able to run a 214," Cheever said. "I stick to my guns: I wish we'd go back to 6 degrees of wing. It was really fun last year because you had to really drive the car. Now we
have just a little too much downforce. "With 12 degrees of wing, whoever is in front is at a disadvantage
because he or she is punching a hole in the air big enough to drag 10 cars around, not just three."
The Indy Racing League is mandating a 12-degree rear-wing angle at this event instead of the 6-degree rear-wing angle used last year for this event. Past Indy Racing champions Scott Sharp and Greg Ray also were consistent, taking the second and third spots, respectively, in both
sessions on the 1.5-mile oval. Sharp's best lap was 25.2688, 213.719 in the No. 8 Delphi Automotive
Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, while Ray's top lap was 25.3611, 212.925 in the No. 2 Johns
PacWest in engine dispute with Toyota UPDATE
The issues between PacWest and Toyota have been resolved. They will
be on track starting Saturday morning and for the remainder of the
season. We hear the issue was money. Earlier - The
PacWest cars of Mo Gugelmin and Scott Dixon sat idle this morning in
Mid-Ohio over a dispute with their engine supplier, Toyota. The
details were not forthcoming at this time. Stay tuned.....
New sponsor for Arciero Blair Arciero-Blair Racing, its owner Larry Blair
and co-owner Matthias Czabok announced today the number 25 Arciero-Blair Racing Lola will debut and carry a new design this weekend at the Mid-Ohio
Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The Ford-powered entry will display
prominently the logos of the "World's Fastest Driving Experience," Driving
101. "Driving 101 and its owner Robert (Bob) Lutz will join us as a sponsor and
gives us a platform to entertain our sponsors and clients while helping them
to relate to the actual experience of driving a Champ Car. We are a marketing driven team and that is our focus. The association between our
team and Driving 101 is a product of that focus," said Blair. "This collaboration is a work in progress for both our team and Driving 101,"
said Czabok. "They wanted to be part of an actual CART team to help with branding, awareness and sales of their available programs. With the number
of fans that watch the CART broadcasts worldwide, web sites exposure and exposure to the many fans attending CART races, we know we are a real venue
that will provide them with the three dimensional advertising program that
are looking for."
Driving 101, founded by Lutz in 1999 is the first and only driving experience
in the world to offer a fleet of 20 full-sized Champ Cars. Clients range from corporations that use the innovative driving school to reward employees,
celebrities or race fans. It has also been used as a popular birthday or special occasion gift by many of the over 6,000 students that have attended
one of Driving 101's four locations. Driving 101's mission statement is: "To offer the most professional and
technically advanced driving experience in the world and to bridge the gap
between fantasy and reality in this once-in-a-lifetime driving experience."
Highlights from CART Fan Forum CART
held their annual Fan Forum at Mid-Ohio today. Here are the
1. Bobby Rahal is looking to probably renew both Brack and Papis,
but still talking
2. Rahal thinks CART should focus on just ovals overseas (we
3. Derrick Walker thinks CART should start with a clean sheet of
paper with their new car and not adopt IRL's made-for-ovals car.
This coming from an IRL team owner
4. Joe Heitzler met with MIS President last Friday to talk about
CART possibly returning to the track in the future. Don't be
surprised if CART promotes the race themselves.
5. CART committee is getting closer on a new engine formula.
Derrick Walker said if CART were doing better, they would be able to
dictate to the engine manufactures what the formula should be. As it
is, CART must try to find a formula everyone can be happy with.
6. CART looking at getting promoters to offer 3-day ticket packages
on ovals like we see for road and street circuits.
7. CART still looking serious at more big city events, but no
serious talks with ALMS
8. Walker does not want Sarah Fisher to even think about CART until
she has mastered the IRL
9. CART working hard at standardizing how and where CART logo is
shown. They recognize CART is not branded.
10. Bobby Rahal likes the fact that CART is all about winning on all types
11. Bobby Rahal still thinks CART can only race on ovals overseas. (Note -
he must have missed the FIA press release stating CART can race on any
12. CART owners are meeting tomorrow to discuss ways to change how and
when pit stops occur so different race strategies can be employed to make
the races perhaps more exciting.
13. Paul Page is looking forward to CART going to a longer TV
format. That will give TV more time to present 'stories' other than
just the on-track action.
14. One fan asked how to make heroes out of the CART drivers like
NASCAR drivers are. Page stated we need more rivalries between
drivers. They are too nice - exactly what we have been saying for a
long time. CART must also market their drivers.
15. When asked if he would like to drive the Champ Cars again, Rick Mears
said, "heck no, those young guns are too fast. I have been out
of it too long."
16. Bobby Rahal thinks CART will be popular on the ovals in
Europe. We think they would be more popular on the road
courses. We'll have to wait to see who is correct.
Lynx signs new driver Lynx Racing announced today that it will
field a car for Jason LaPoint, currently running second in the U.S. F2000 Championship, in three of the final four races of the CART Toyota Atlantic
season. LaPoint, 24, of Woodburn, Oregon, will be teamed with David Rutledge, 23, of Vancouver, B.C., who is currently second in the Atlantic
championship with three wins from the pole. LaPoint will drive the #32 Lynx Racing / Infinity Racing Swift 008.a at the Motorola 220 at Road
America on August 19, the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston on October
7, and the season-finale Honda Grand Prix of Monterey on October 13. #32 is the number used by CART FedEx driver Alex Barron when he won
the Atlantic championship with Lynx in 1997, and is the number currently used by Patrick Carpentier (who won the Atlantic title in 1996 with Lynx)
on his Player's/Forsythe Reynard. Lynx alumni also include Memo Gidley, now driving for Target Chip Ganassi. "To say I'm jazzed about the opportunity is a complete
understatement," says LaPoint, who hopes to move into the championship points lead in this weekend's U.S. F2000 race during the Miller Lite 200 at
Mid-Ohio. "Every young driver in my position would give anything for a shot at the Lynx ride, and I'd like to thank Alan Green of Infinity Racing
and all the other people who helped make this possible. I've raced at Road
America recently in the U.S. F2000 race where I won the pole and set a track record, so even though this will be my first-ever Atlantic race, I'm
hoping to make a good impression on the team and help support David's battle for the championship."
Penske pair pick up from last year They
dominated last years Mid-Ohio race. Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran paced the Friday morning practice session for Sunday's Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Driving the Marlboro Honda/Reynard, Castroneves, the defending race winner, had a top lap of 1:07.301 seconds, good for an average speed of 120.783 mph. De Ferran was next at 1:07.779 seconds (119.931 mph). Rounding out the top five were Christian Fittipaldi at 107.895 seconds (119.726 mph) in the Kmart Toyota/Lola; Adrian Fernandez at 1:08.041 seconds (119.469 mph) in the Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Reynard; and Cristiano da Matta at 1:08.108 seconds (119.352 mph) in the Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota/Lola.
Racing helps to save lost child NY
Times writer Kevin Ma reports that Trans-Am driver Don Sak put an oversized
photo of a missing child, Tori Lynn Wollangur, on the hood of his
Chevrolet Camaro in conjunction with his sponsor, Valvoline, for the
recent race at Belle Isle in Detroit. Miraculously, that very photo
led to public attention and Tori was found in Mexico soon after and able
to come home. We tip our hat to Mr. Sak and Valvoline.
CART NY City venue If
CART is to race in NY City, we reported earlier it will likely be on
Randalls Island. Here is a link to an aerial
view. You can zoom in and out to get an idea where it is in
relation to Manhattan. It is in the East River off the NE edge of
Manhattan. The City has big plans for this somewhat rundown locale,
but the race may figure strongly in those plans. We apologize for
the two shades of the image, but we didn't take them. Notice the
footbridge across the East River from Manhattan to the Island. Also
notice Downing Stadium that is being torn down as part of the major
reconstruction soon to take place. While part of the island leaves a
lot to be desired, some parts are very park like. It's hard to
envision a race track there right now, but we suppose if it was built
totally new from scratch with a very wide (Adelaide-like) track width, one
might be able to construct a reasonable track layout. It somewhat
depends on how much the City is willing to tear up the island.
Sebring now host a CART race? A major resurfacing project is underway at America’s oldest sports car racing circuit. The historic Sebring International Raceway is being repaved from Turn One through Turn Nine of the 17-turn, 3.7 mile circuit. Other smaller segments of the track are also being resurfaced, and the pit area of Sebring’s test circuit is being expanded and improved.
Other improvements slated to begin this summer include new safety barriers at various locations around the track.
Despite the extensive enhancement program, Sebring’s famous concrete front straight, originally part of the Hendricks Field WWII airfield, is being left unchanged.
“While improving the circuit is a top priority, we are maintaining the historic character of the track,” stated Raceway Director Tres Stephenson.
Besides above layout, here is an aerial
map view of the track from 1994. A lot has changed since then.
Sears Point soon host a CART race? Phase
two construction will bring this track much closer to CART standards,
including better run-off, improved safety, and a wider track
surface. Perhaps we can add this track to the list of additional
Natural Terrain Road Courses CART can race at (along with The Glen, Road
Atlanta, and Sebring)
1. Construction of 30,000 hillside terrace seats alongside Turns 7-9, bringing the total to 64,000 hillside terrace seats.
2. Construction of a go-kart track on the south side of the property.
3. Construction of a 10,000 seat permanent grandstand at Turn 7.
4. Construction of a 15,000 seat permanent grandstand along the west side of start/finish line, bringing the total to 25,000 permanent grandstand seats. Twenty-two suites will be built along the top of the grandstands.
5. Creation of a 660-foot concrete launching pad for drag racing and separation of the road course from the drag strip. Construction of drag strip return road.
6. Increased run-off on the road course at Turns 8, 8a, 9 and 10.
7. Enlargement of pit road to accommodate a 43-car starting grid for road-race events.
8. Repaving of the road course and drag strip. The width of the road course will also increase from 40 to 50 feet.
9. Expansion of paddock by more than 70 percent.
10. Pedestrian tunnels under start/finish line and Turn 10.
11. Remodeling Trackside Tower, Media Center and Driver's Lounge.
Denver Council approves CART race for
7-years On Monday night the
Denver City Council gave final approval for a CART race. The
contract with CART is for 7-years. The only thing holding up the
announcement is the date. Denver wants a Labor Day weekend date but
CART is currently under contract with TMS for those dates for the next two
years, pending the outcome of the pending lawsuit. See report
Herbert to test IRL car Former Formula One race winner Johnny Herbert will test an Indy Racing car with Heritage Motorsports on Aug. 13 at Kentucky Speedway, the team announced Aug. 9. Herbert, 37, retired from F1 at the end of the 2000 season after a 12-year career in that series. He had three career Grand Prix victories, the latest in a Stewart-Ford in 1999. Herbert also drove on the winning Mazda team in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1991. "I'm looking forward to testing with the Heritage Motorsports team," Herbert said. "This is an opportunity that will be beneficial for everyone involved. We're both working on putting ourselves in the best position to fulfill our future goals." One of Herbert's lifelong racing goals is to win the Indianapolis 500. "I have one major challenge left to accomplish in motorsports; winning the Indianapolis 500," Herbert said. "Racing at Indy has been a goal of
mine since I was 10 years old. It is the greatest race in the world, and I'm taking every opportunity I can to get to Indy." Last month, Herbert got his first experience on an oval track at Rockingham Motor Speedway in his native England, testing a Champ car. He logged 175 miles at Rockingham and pushed the car to 198 mph. "That was the first time I had ever run on an oval, and I thoroughly enjoyed it," Herbert said. Herbert drove in the Le Mans 24 Hours this year for the Champion team in
an Audi continues to drive for that team in American Le Mans Series races. Heritage Motorsports, a first-year Northern Light Series team, fields the No. 35 Heritage Motorsports Firestone Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone for Indy Racing veteran Jeff Ward.
Turkey also wants a F1 race As
we have stated repeatedly, F1 can't satisfy the world demand for top level
open wheel racing. Yet, CART sits by and watches the IRL underbid
it on the oval scene in the USA, ALMS underbid it on VERY KEY street race
markets, and countries are begging for F1 races while CART still tries to
figure out if it wants to an American series or a World Series. Turkish Automobile Federation chief Mumtaz Tahincioglu has promised that he will do everything within his power to get Turkey a Formula One race. He told the BBC: "We will
realize this project in Istanbul. The FIA looks on this project very warmly. But somehow Turkey has not taken this project to heart. My aim is to take on this project and overcome all obstacles." Plans for a circuit in the Lebanese capital were announced in June and the project is expected to cost over
$57 million. While we don't see Turkey as a key market for CART, we certainly
do see places like China, Italy, and others as key venues. Has CART
contacted all the countries that stated they want a F1 race to offer them
up an alternative, or are they still trying to decide if 25,000 - 35,000
Chicago or Milwaukee is a better fit?
ALMS beats CART to punch in Washington DC This
in the Washington Post talks about the ALMS race planned for Washington DC
starting in 2002. The 10-year deal (yes, you read that right) will
be run on a 1.7 mile circuit around RFK Stadium (Aerial
Map). It's interesting to
note that the ALMS has beat CART to the punch in both the Washington DC
and Miami markets. Although CART is still interested in both
markets, the likelihood of having two street races a year is not
high. Here is a link to a Baltimore Sun article
about the race. Tickets, organizers said, are on sale and can be purchased by calling 888-456-8448, or on the Web at
Earnhardt report to be submitted Aug. 21st NASCAR will release its report on the crash that killed Dale Earnhardt on Aug. 21 and experts who took part in the investigation will be present to answer questions.
A NASCAR source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed on Thursday the news conference will be held in Atlanta at a site still to be determined.
The story was first reported in Thursday's News-Journal of Daytona Beach..
TMS Lawsuit puts Denver Labor Day date in
jeopardy According to this article,
Texas Motor Speedway Inc. received promises from the race's sanctioning body, Championship Auto Racing Teams, to hold races on Labor Day 2002 and 2003. Further muddying the water is Texas Motor Speedway's $22 million lawsuit filed against CART for the last-minute cancellation of an April 29 race in Fort Worth. "While this lawsuit is pending we are not going to sign anything over to the city of Denver to use those dates," Eddie Gossage, Texas Motor Speedway's CEO and president, told The Dallas Morning News. "Our lawyers tell me that's really all I can say about it at this point."
Here is another article
in the Dallas Morning News
Terrace ticket holders at Glen to get a
treat Watkins Glen International announced today that all pit terrace customers will be treated to an exclusive question and answer session with three NASCAR Winston Cup drivers on August 12, the morning of the Global Crossing @ The Glen. Robby Gordon, driver of the No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet, Dave
Blaney, driver of the No. 93 Amoco Dodge and Scott Pruett, driver of the No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge will be available from 10:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. in the pit terrace hospitality village, located directly behind the grandstands. A very limited number of pit terrace tickets are still available for fans wanting to get into the action for just $225.00 and includes four-day reserved seating.
Fellows named Grand Marshall Ron Fellows, a five-time winner at Watkins Glen International and road racing ace, is taking on a different role Friday night, serving as the Grand Marshal for the Bully Hill Vineyards 250 Grand American Rolex Sports Car race at The Glen. Fellows, driver of the No. 87 Bully Hill Vineyards Chevrolet in both NASCAR races this year at The Glen, will recite the four most famous words in motorsports, "Drivers, start your engines," to the participating drivers during pre-race ceremonies on August 10.
"Ron has won so many races at The Glen flying the Bully Hill Vineyards colors, we thought he would be the perfect choice to start the Bully Hill Vineyards race," said track president Bryan R.
Sperber. "We are delighted to welcome him as Grand Marshal for this event."
Frentzen and Alesi swap seats It
was announced today that Jean Alesi moves from Prost Grand Prix to Jordan effective immediately, and will take part in the Hungarian Grand Prix in less than two weeks' time. Alesi rejoins his old team owner from Formula 3000 days, when he won the 1989 F3000 championship driving for Eddie Jordan. "There has not been a year which goes by when Jean does not come to talk to me about driving for us," Jordan said. "But we only struck this deal once Jean was free to join Jordan. Alain Prost and I are also very good friends and it is important to make clear that there is absolutely no animosity over the course of events which have lead to Jean joining Jordan."
Alesi's seat at Prost will be filled by Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who had been dismissed by Jordan just days before the German Grand Prix. "I'm happy that Alain Prost offered me to drive for the last five Grands Prix, said Frentzen. "It was very difficult to turn down the opportunity to tackle this new challenge."
Arciero Blair team back at Mid-Ohio The
Arciero Blair team will be back in action this weekend at Mid-Ohio with
their driver Max Wilson. Both of their damaged cars have been
Concerns at Kentucky for IRL race this
weekend In this
article, Robin Miller writes about some apparent concerns with the
roughness of the Kentucky Speedway track for this weekends race. In
response, the IRL has increased the rear wing angle from 6 degrees to 12
degrees to plant the cars to the track even more than they already are,
and the track is applying a sealer.
Brickyard 400 tops Indy 500 TV Ratings Well
the transformation is complete. The Indy 500 is no longer the best
attended auto race, nor the most watched at the famous Indy
Speedway. Speedvision.com reports - "For the first time ever, the Brickyard 400 topped the Indianapolis 500's final national television rating with a stunning 6.2 and 16 share. That's half a rating point above the 5.7 overnight reported yesterday by Nielsen Media Research for the NBC Sports telecast.
The 2001 Indianapolis 500 on ABC pulled a 5.8 final national rating with a 17 share in May up from a 5.3/14 overnight. So both programs – the Brickyard and the 500 – received half a point boost from the small markets that are not counted by Nielsen in compiling the overnights."
With the creation of the IRL and the split of the open wheel ranks, and at
the same time bringing NASCAR into what was once open wheels hallowed
ground, Tony George has helped NASCAR surpass Indy Car racing in every
imaginable measure possible. If Indy cars are not as popular as
stock cars on their home turf, is there really any hope anywhere
else? You decide.
Racing 101 with Larry McReynolds One of NASCAR's premier crew chief-turned-TV-analysts will be the special guest on this week's edition of Track Talk, heard Thursday nights at 7:00 p.m. on WPGI 100.9 FM "The Pig". Larry McReynolds, who's first win as a crew chief came at Watkins Glen International in 1988, will give race fans an inside look at what it takes to prepare a car to race at The Glen.
McReynolds is currently serving as a consultant for Petty Enterprises' newest driver, Buckshot Jones and is expected to also help the efforts of drivers Kyle Petty and John Andretti. Last year, he decided to turn the wrench in for a microphone and joined the FOX Broadcast team.
Hosted by Chris P. Bacon, Pete Dowd and Julie Giese, Track Talk will get the inside scoop from one of the best in the business. Fans are encouraged to send in their questions via email to either Chris P. Bacon at
email@example.com or Julie Giese at
firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Alex Barron runs into problems in Germany, twice As
a follow-up to last weeks test at Rockingham, England, Alex Barron and the
Dale Coyne team ventured over to the Eurospeedway in Germany this
week. On Saturday, before 15,000 spectators, Barron was asked to do
some donuts like Bryan Herta did last year when he did the demo runs on
the 2-mile Eurospeedway. However, Barron lost control of the car and
nosed it into the wall. Today, during regular practice, Barron put
about 100 laps in before a sudden rain shower caught him by surprise and
he spun backwards into the wall. He still collected some good data
for CART, but the end result was not exactly what he had hoped for.
Mr. Barron - Alex 'The Donut Man' Zanardi is giving donut lessons tomorrow
at 5:00. They're free! Mark C.
If CART fails in Rockingham, will Bernie
buy it and install the IRL? Alan Henry writes in his latest
that he fears the CART Rockingham ticket prices are too high (at around
$100 each) and says "I don't wish to be a doomsayer, but I worry about Rockingham's long-term future. If this superbly imaginative and ambitious project doesn't prove a commercial success, five years down the road I can see it being purchased at a knock-down price by Bernie Ecclestone – and the FIA being persuaded that, if oval track racing is to be allowed outside the USA, then it can only be for his mate Tony George's Indy Racing League. I'm not saying it's right. I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm just saying it's possible. And I'll bet Bernie thought of it long before me."
As we have said repeatedly, CART must succeed in Europe. Does it
know how to? Does it realize the consequences if it fails? Mark C.
CART not branded, the world is confused James
McNamara of the Manchester (England) Evening news wrote an article about
CART Indy Lights driver Kristian Kolby of nearby Knutsford that appears in
today's edition. Just to show you how confused the world is about
CART vs. the IRL, this is what he wrote....."Indy Lights is an
introductory league where drivers cut their teeth before graduating to the
Indy Racing League's Champ Cars - the US equivalent to F1. It is one
of the world's most closely watched motor racing series and showcases the
sport's future stars. Over the years some of the biggest names in
the business have raced in the IRL including Nigel Mansell and Jacques
Villeneuve.......It is understood that the Danish born-ace is already in
talks with team bosses to negotiate a contract to drive Champ Cars next
season." It seems even Kristian himself is confused. In
the same article he states "If I keep winning, I could get a shot at
Indy Racing. I will be testing a couple of cars out at the end of
the season." That folks, is how bad everyone is confused over
the IRL and CART split, not only in the USA, but also abroad. They
interchange IRL, CART, Indy Cars, Champs Cars at will, oblivious of the
difference. It is holding both series back, while Bill France laughs
hysterically all the way to the bank. If CART truly wants to be
unique, and separate, truly distinguished from the IRL, it almost needs to
run a heavy marketing campaign educating the public of the
difference......unless of course there is still hope for
reunification. And when the Champ Cars get engines similar to the
IRL, in effect the two series will be even more alike.........and the
confusion will rage on while both series tread water. 'CART' is not
branded, and 'Champ Cars' is not branded and we doubt CART has the
marketing budget to ever make that happen. Their only hope was to
latch on to an already 'branded' name, that of FedEx, its series
sponsor. Now if they were called 'FedEx Cars.' only ran on road
courses, and competed for the FedEx World Driving Championship,
then perhaps the average person on the street would differentiate them
from an Indy Car that races at Indy and only on ovals and only in the
USA. The FIA now officially recognizes CART as a World
Championship. The sooner CART brands itself as a World
Championship, the sooner it will be able to establish its own
identity, separate and apart from the IRL USA Oval Championship.
What carries more weight, is more prestigious, a FedEx World Driving
Champion or a USA-only CART Champ Car or IRL Driving Champion? CART
competes worldwide, with drivers from around the world. It is
a World Championship. It's about time it started to act like
one. As long as it wants to be known as an American racing series,
the public will never differentiate the IRL from CART and vice
versa. Never. Mark C.
Eurosport TV ratings One of the best CART
TV ratings of the year, the CART race from Chicago, got 100,000 viewers for the UK,
tied with the Tour de France. NASCAR got one of its best
UK ratings, shown in the hour before the CART race. Although CART
drew 30% more than NASCAR, this is an example of why CART needs to be on terrestrial
TV in certain key markets. Not enough people subscribe to Eurosport in
England because it is only available from Satellite or in some cases cable
TV. CART ratings in England have not been so good for some time.
Although still above our estimate of 50,000 per country, compare that with
the millions in Mexico and Brazil. The primary reason? Not enough
British drivers to cheer for. CART is also shown on Channel 5 in
England, a small terrestrial channel that shows the races delayed at 1am on
Tuesday mornings. Viewing figures for Channel 5 are unavailable, so
we don't know how much that adds to the total. Check their website www.channel5.co.uk,
maybe they might have more info. (This is directly from www.barb.co.uk)
British Eurosport Millions Viewing Program Total
1 TOUR DE FRANCE 0.10
1 CART (SUN) SERIES 0.10
3 CYCLING 0.09
4 SUPERSPORTS 0.08
4 TOUR DE FRANCE (WED) 0.08
4 TOUR DE FRANCE (THU) 0.08
7 JUDO (SAT) 0.07
7 NASCAR SERIES 0.07
9 CYCLING (SAT) 0.06
9 TOUR DE FRANCE (FRI) 0.06
Is open wheel history repeating itself? As
they say, in order to know where you are going, first you must know from
where you came. Could the current death of open wheel oval-track
racing in the USA have been predicted by looking at history?
Perhaps. Here's a little history for you. While oval dirt
track racing started in the USA in 1905 on the dirt at places such as
Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Harlem, racing on banked tracks did not
start in the USA, but rather in Europe. The first ever banked oval
racing track was built in Brooklands, England on the estate of Mr. H.F.
Locke King near Weybridge in Surrey. Brooklands opened in 1907 and
held its first proper motor race on July 6th 1907 and was won by H.C.
Tryon. It was organized by the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club,
today known as the British Automobile Racing Club. Speeds
rapidly increased as cars became larger and more powerful. The
first 100+ mph lap was set by Felice Nazzaro in the giant 21-liter (yes
you read that right) Fiat 'Mephistopheles' in 1908 at 125.45 mph. As
Brooklands developed as a major sporting and social venue, with the
unofficial slogan 'the right crowd and no crowding', British racing
drivers became celebrities for the first time. Drivers such as Henry
Seagrave, Malcolm Campbell, and John Cobb became household names. It
was Cobb, who set the fastest-ever lap at Brooklands in 1935, averaging
143.44 mph in the 24-liter aero-engined Napier-Railton, the car sliding on
the banking and destroying its tires in just two laps. Cobb later
described the drive as like "leaning rather too far out of an open
upstairs window." Cobb's record marked a swansong for British
oval racing. Already road racing had become established on a road
circuit at Donnington Park. Later there was racing on the banks of
Monza Italy in the 1960's, but for the most part open wheel oval track
racing gave way to road racing (which puts more emphasis on driver skill
rather than sheer bravery) in Europe, much as it is now in the
USA. There appears to be four reasons for its most recent
failure - 1) NASCAR has sucked the oval track market dry and there's
nothing left for the open-wheel series; 2) the rise in speeds is a
real concern, just like they were way back in 1935 and again later at
Monza in the early 1960's; 3) the cost in terms of damaged equipment,
driver injuries and deaths can break the back of even the best teams; 4)
The creation of the IRL and the splitting of the Indy Car fan and sponsor
base literally in half (Bill France is laughing all the way to the
bank. Tony George's idea is playing right into NASCAR's
hands). Can open-wheel oval-track racing make a comeback in the
USA? In order to know where you are going, first you must know from
where you came. We are not certain where open-wheel oval track racing is
going in the USA, but we certainly know from where it came by the list of
failures outlined in this article.
If not for NASCAR, it would probably have survived the other two reasons
for its failure in the USA, and as it is in Japan, CART on the ovals in
Europe might be the right novelty at the right time.
ASCAR collapses, Stock car racing not
popular outside of
USA 2nd UPDATE A reader writes - I just wanted to point out that your story about
ASCAR collapsing is a little out of date, following major funding from Rockingham Motor Speedway a new company called Oval Racing Management has been setup to run the new series. New teams are now joining the series
(only 3 races) and the grid for the next race on the 27th August will have over 20 cars running so it is
alive (though barely). If you go to www.rockingham500.co.uk and then to
ASCAR news, you will see the details that were in Autosport and you can also
go to the new official ASCAR web site at www.ascar.co.uk where there is details of the new teams joining the series.
8/7/01 - Although ASCAR has
failed, the team owners were able to scrounge up some ASA Chevy engines so
the stock cars will be a support series for both CART European races this
year. They will run just a shortened 3-race series this year, 20-some odd
cars and 100-miles in length. We hope CART is wise enough to
schedule these races immediately after the Champ car races at Rockingham
and Eurospeedway, or, because of the incompatible rubber, risk putting on
another-no-passing affair as we have seen at other venues when the stock
cars run first. 7/10/01 - NASCAR was a total failure when it tried to race in
Japan. Now comes word that ASCAR, Europe's version of NASCAR, has
collapsed and is out of business. Open wheel racing rules worldwide,
except in the USA. It is the preferred form of racing around the
world and CART will be well received because of it.
It may have been an off-week for CART, but
not for Gidley It's been an off-week for the Champ Car guys, so what did Target Chip
Ganassi Racing driver Memo Gidley do with his time off? Get back into a go-cart, of course. But instead of pounding around in his beloved
Trackmagic 125cc shifter, Memo instead spent last Tuesday at Speeds Indoor
Karting in Columbus, OH as part of Mid-Ohio's promotional swing for this weekend's Champ Car event. Memo did an interview for CBS affiliate WNBS
before taking the stick-and-ball journalists onto the track and showing them
what the sport's all about. According to Speeds proprietor Ross Kuhns, "our
track champ who works here wanted a go, so we went out for a second race and
they went at it for another 10 minutes. Memo had the fastest time, so our guy jumped in Memo's cart and they started taking turns beating each other.
I think Memo was having a good time!"
courtesy Sue Balmer/BRG
Another Piquet on the rise? In
Sunday's Brazilian F3 race run in Brazilia, Brazil, former F1 champion
Nelson Piquet's 20-year old son, Nelsinho (Little Nelson) Piquet, finished in 2nd place.
NBC gets highest Brickyard ratings to date
This past weekends Brickyard 400, broadcast by NBC for the first time, got
a 5.7/13 share overnight TV rating as the NASCAR Winston Cup series
continues to steamroller over all other forms of American motorsports,
leaving behind crumbs for everyone else. Because NASCAR has been
able to brand itself, whereas all other forms of American motorsports has
not, to the average person on the street, NASCAR is auto racing.
Whereas 20 years ago, if you asked an American kid to draw a race car,
they would likely have drawn an open wheel car, today they would draw a
stock car. Such is the success of NASCAR.
Cleveland airport to eventually be no more?
UPDATE This link
takes you to a story about a group called APOA that is warning all
political candidates in Cleveland not to close the airport. Even if
it is closed, one would hope that the redevelopment would somehow work the
race track into their plans. With proper planning of the road
network for the redevelopment, one would hope that would be
possible. 7/19/01 - We doubt it will happen, but this
article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer talks about turning Burke
lakefront airport into a park. Hopefully it would still include a
Panoz finally beats Audi's
The race in Portland goes into history as the most exciting event of the
American Le Mans Series (ALMS): During the entire race of 2:45 hours, the leaders showed a thrilling exchange of blows with the lead changing almost
every lap. At the end the best placed Audi, that driven by Frank Biela and Emanuele
Pirro, had to leave victory to
the fastest Panoz driven by David Brabham and Jan Magnussen by only a good three tenths of a second. Johnny Herbert
and Andy Wallace in the 2000-spec Audi R8 of the Champion team completed the
success of Audi with third place while Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen gained fifth position after shifting problems.
Atlantics: Orsi wins yet again
With only four races left on the 2001 schedule, Hoover Orsi
is trying to stamp his name on the Championship trophy months before the season ending event at Laguna Seca. Orsi snatched the lead right from the start of the race and cruised on to a 1.849 seconds victory over Martin Basso. Orsi collected 22 Championship points after leading every race lap along with winning the $1000 "Toyota Pole Award" after yesterday's qualifying. The victory allowed Orsi to extend his lead in the points over David Rutledge (Lynx Racing/Keg Steakhouse Swift) to 25 points for a total of 134 points.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Sunday's Round 8 race from Trois-Rivieres on Saturday, August 11, at 5:00 p.m. ET.
NASCAR a monopoly? UPDATE
Two readers have written to say that Atlanta is happy to get an early
race date in the hope the weather will be better. Earlier -
We have alluded to the fact on a number of occasions that NASCAR may have
reached monopoly status. This article
by Jonathan Ingram discusses the control the France Family has over NASCAR
and the the people who do business with NASCAR. Is NASCAR a
monopoly? That's not for us to decide, but it certainly exhibits
many of the same traits as, say, a Microsoft. Are you surprised that
NASCAR announced that the season finale will be moved from Bruton Smith's
Atlanta Motor Speedway to ISC's Homestead Speedway to bolster ticket
revenue at Homestead?
Atlantics: Orsi on a roll
With the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship heading into the final stretch of the 2001 season, Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) is trying to distance himself from his nearest competitors. The red hot Brazilian driver took another step toward his Championship goal, winning the pole on Saturday for the Grand Prix de
Trois-Rivieres. After being relegated to start second four times this season, Orsi has now claimed two poles in a row, winning his first of his career last week in Chicago. Orsi broke Buddy Rice's 2000 track qualifying record of 1:00.804 seconds (90.053 mph) with a time 1:00.663 seconds (90.263 mph). The session started slowly for Orsi and he did not claim the top spot on the time sheets until the final moments of the 30-minute session. "We started the session on old tires because we did not want to put too much mileage on the new tires we are going to use in the race tomorrow," said the CTAC points leader. "Right when we put on the stickers (new tires), the car responded with much more grip and then we made some fine-tuning adjustments. We still need to do some work for the race but I think we are going to have a really quick car for tomorrow." With the pole, Orsi extended his Championship points lead over David Rutledge (Lynx Racing/Keg Steakhouse Swift) to 18 points. Rutledge's run was good enough to start third in tomorrow's 1:40 p.m. EST race, but he brought out the only red flag of the session after running into the turn six tire wall. "I'm not happy with qualifying third, but I'm not dissatisfied, said Vancouver's David Rutledge. "This is a tough track and there are some really good drivers here, so the fact that my time from halfway through the session stood up all the way to the end is a good sign. The car is actually quite good, but I carried a bit too much speed going into turn six and put it into the tires. The suspension is bent, but there's no real damage and we'll be in good shape for tomorrow. We have a few things we want to try in the morning warm-up, and this is a chance to show that I can win a race even when I don't start from the pole."
Food for thought. CART team owner David Letterman's show is on CBS.
Letterman has a lot of clout with CBS. Joe Heitzler has a lot of
connections at CBS from days gone by. Is it really any surprise then that
CBS is the leading candidate to do a deal with CART for 2002 and
beyond? We think not. Another TV note - ESPN International
very well may be part of the new TV deal. They are negotiating to
put the two European CART races on as many network TV stations as possible
in Europe this year. We hear CART might make a push to move toward
more network TV deals in Europe in the coming years, and off of
Kentucky Speedway Observations A
reader writes - The Louisville Courier - Journal newspaper sports section published an
article last spring about the current marketing strategy of the Kentucky Motor Speedway. The article noted that the speedway was not drawing the
number of people it expected form the metro Louisville area for their events.
The KMS claims to be stepping up their advertising budget for the greater Louisville area, I have yet to note any elevated advertising for KMS events
this year. Moreover, I saw in the local paper this weekend that a Ford / Nissan dealer
on south west part of the city was giving way IRL tickets. The KMS pre-sold
seats like the Fontana, CA track did, but with the aid of Darrell Waltrip.
The speedway implied that they were going to have a Winston Cup race on their
schedule when they opened, with this line spewed repeatedly from mug of D.
Waltrip on local TV. The speedway about a year later casually mentioned that
they were still trying for the Winston Cup event to no avail, but stay tuned,
and buy tickets. I have noted sense the opening of KMS, that a number of their press releases
to not match the reports in a number of reliable motor sports publications.
The one item in particular was how they repaved the track after the first year of operation to insure a quality racing surface. I later read a short
article on the first IRL test conducted there, post resurfacing, it was noted
that the track surface rough, and patched, not resurfaced. I have not attended an event at KMS, but the people I have talk to, who have
attended KMS events have implied they will not return. The one reoccurring
remark is that getting in and out of the speedway is nightmare. The last person to make a remark about traffic is a close friend, he said it took over
2 hours to travel about a mile from the track parking lot to the interstate,
after a Bush event that let out at 11:00 at night. The KMS speedway has one way in and out to the Interstate highway, there are
no suitable secondary feeder roads to disperse the traffic. I might mention
the lack of any direct state highways from KMS to any major metro areas. KMS
is also 20 miles, if not more from a super market, much less a place to get a
decent meal or find respectable lodging.
Patrick Racing picks up UK sponsor TOTAL
for Rockingham UPDATE It turns
out TOTAL will only be an associate sponsor on the Patrick Racing cars,
Visteon will remain the primary sponsor. The announcement was
premature by the TOTAL folks. 8/2/01 - TOTAL is breaking new ground by becoming the first UK company to announce it will sponsor a team in probably Britain’s most exciting motor race of the year – round 19 of the CART Fedex World Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway on Saturday, 22 September. The Patrick Racing team’s 220mph Reynard cars, driven by American Jimmy Vasser and Brazilian Roberto Moreno, will both carry TOTAL livery throughout the event. Around 100,000 spectators are expected to attend the race – the first ever in the UK for the CART series. The opportunity to become involved was just too great to miss, says TOTAL UK’s Managing Director Gary Jones. He commented: “Everyone on both sides of Atlantic has been talking about this race for a long time. We just had to be involved and there is no better place to put your name than on the track.” Pat Patrick’s team is a previous winner of the CART title and has also won the world famous Indy 500 race. Its past drivers include racing legends Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi, who also both won the world Formula One world championship during their careers. This year, its drivers, former CART champion Vasser and ex-F1 driver Moreno, have both figured heavily in the top 10 and at Rockingham have a genuine chance of being the first winner on UK soil. Team boss Pat Patrick said: “This is something of a homecoming for TOTAL and Patrick Racing. In the early 1990s, TOTAL was a Patrick Racing sponsor in the CART series. We are proud to again be associated with such a well-known and respected company as TOTAL.”
CART Europe Races to air on Network TV in
Italy Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc., and ESPN International, its worldwide television rights holder and partner, have completed an agreement with leading Italian television group Mediaset for the airing of CART's two European races on Italian national television.
Italia 1, the leading national Italian television outlet for the 15-45 age group, will carry both the German 500 from the EuroSpeedway at Lausitz on September 15 as well as the September 22 Rockingham 500 from Great Britain's Rockingham Motor Speedway.
The Italian television outlet is one of three networks owned by Mediaset, which also owns Canale 5 and Rete 4. Among the three, they reach an average of approximately 45 percent of the country's total TV audience.
Italia 1 also is one of the top Italian networks for sports events. Its programming includes Champions League soccer, the Ski World Series and, in 2002, the Motorcycle World Championship Grand Prix.
“As the exclusive global television representative for CART, I am pleased that ESPN International was able to broker this agreement to bring the excitement of the CART FedEx Championship Series to Italian fans,” said Mark Reilly, vice president and general manager of international sales for ESPN, Inc. “The involvement of a major media group like Mediaset in this agreement is further validation of CART's status as an internationally recognized motor sports competition.”
CART's events in Germany and England mark the first time the open-wheel racing sanctioning organization is visiting the newly built, oval tracks.
“This agreement will allow us to reach a whole new audience with CART racing and we are excited to be working with Mediaset and Italia 1,” said CART Vice President of Broadcast Keith Allo. “This relationship will help us as we build CART worldwide television in the years to come.”
“The CART Series represents America, a world with which we have a link through motor sports,” said Giorgio Terruzzi, Editor in Chief of Mediaset Motorsport. “The fact that Mediaset is able to accompany the debut of the two CART European races is a matter of great pride for us and it is an extraordinary stimulus for us to be able to open the horizon for all the Italian people that follow motor racing.”
Of the 26 drivers in CART's FedEx Championship Series in 2001, two are Italians. Max Papis hails from Como and Alex Zanardi from Bologna.
“CART showed a lot of courage by organizing two oval races in Europe, which is traditional road racing territory, but I believe in the end that it is a gamble that will pay off,” said Papis, who has earned two victories in Champ Car racing. “This TV arrangement and commitment with Mediaset proves that it is moving in the direction to be a success. I know CART and Italia 1 will work together to provide the Italian audience with two very enjoyable racing afternoons.”
Italy actually hosted Champ Car oval racing in 1957 at Monza. Jimmy Bryan was the winner of the Monza 500 after Tony Bettenhausen had qualified on the pole.
“I want to congratulate both CART and Mediaset for offering to the passionate Italian ‘tifosi' (fans) the great wheel-to-wheel racing we have on oval tracks,” said Zanardi, the CART champion in 1997 and 1998. “I am sure that CART and Italia 1 will develop a new passion for CART racing among Italian racing fans through these two broadcasts.”
Promotion of the broadcasts will occur across all three Mediaset Networks and both Papis and Zanardi will be featured in promotional materials that build toward the broadcasts.
CART vs. IRL radio ads The IRL is heavily promoting the Kentucky Speedway race next week. Yesterday alone, over a dozen radio commercials were aired on a Dayton Ohio rock station. Compare that a few CART Mid-Ohio commercials, on a Cincinnati talk/sports radio station. There were two interesting things about the CART commercial, though: One was they mentioned that the top 5 finishers from this year's Indy 500 are racing at Mid-Ohio. The second was that the very end mentioned that it was 'partially' paid for by CART. The only notable feature of the IRL commercial is that the engine sounds in the background were clearly CART engines (probably because the sound of the IRL engines are not as appealing).
Tampa CART track gets OK 2nd
UPDATE Here is a link
to the Tampa Tribune with all the details. It will be interesting to
see which Florida gets a CART race, Miami or Tampa. We doubt there
is room on the schedule for both. Let the bidding begin. One thing
to note - Chris Pook opted out of the Tampa deal early on. Our guess is
that Miami is a better fit for the type of big-time 'happening' events
CART is looking for. Miami is what we would call an idea location
for CART. It has it all, so Tampa has an uphill battle ahead of it. As
nice as Tampa is, it doesn't have the diversity and the cosmopolitan
atmosphere that Miami and nearby Miami Beach have. Earlier - Correction on our previous report - it was the fairgrounds authority, not
the City Council that approved the race. Given the track would be on
the fairgrounds, that makes sense. 8/3/01 - A news story on the local Fox station, Channel 13, in Tampa
reports that the City Council has approved a project to build a CART track in
Tampa at the state fair grounds. The first scheduled race would be run in 2003. The report went on to say that the race would bring drivers
such as Michael Andretti to the track.
Tickets still available for Brickyard 400
Bear Stearns reports "there were still some seats left for the Brickyard 400 Winston Cup event at the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway this weekend. While this track is not owned by any of the publicly owned track operators, it is interesting to
note that one of the three or four most popular events of the season still has availability this close to race day.
Nevertheless, available seats are limited (only one section had available seats and we couldn’t get more than about five
seats together) and we have seen all season long that tickets are selling out closer in to race day. In our view this has
some reflection on the level of demand when compared to years past."
McDonalds to cut back NASCAR sponsorship
McDonalds announced today that they will cut back their sponsorship with
the PPI NASCAR team to that of an associate level on the Craven car.
They will drop all sponsorship on the No. 97 Andy Houston car.
Bradley Racing signs Richie Hearn for 2002?
Bradley Motorsports says it has signed former CART driver Richie
Hearn as a 2nd driver with the hope to run a 2-car effort in 2002 if
sponsorship materializes. Hearn will test today with the team in
USA TV ratings for last weekend UPDATE
CART's final TV rating is in - down to a
1.1/3 share, which was to be expected. CART's final number usually
goes down from its overnight because it is more popular in the big markets
whereas NASCAR is popular everywhere. Although CART can outdraw NASCAR in
am LA market, it can't touch them in the rural areas. Part of that
problem stems from CART's complete lack of coverage in local newspapers -
it's completely off their radar screens. CART is not reaching the
grassroots of America. 8/2/01 - Last
weekend's USA-only TV ratings are in and everything is pretty much status
quo, with NASCAR Winston Cup again getting a 5.2 rating, the 2nd in two
weeks. CART came in with a 1.3 overnight, which is slightly above
its average so far this year. CART's problem is going to be the 2nd
half of the year where instead of being on network TV, most of its races
will be broadcast on cable. With over 4.2 million households tuning
in, Winston Cup continues to show it has become a mainstream sport in the
USA. CART, although it gets better TV ratings than the IRL (when
both are on either cable or Network TV), the fact remains it's far from
mainstream and has a lot of work ahead of it. Worldwide, CART's TV
numbers continue to be stout, but because many of CART's existing sponsors
pay for their sponsorship out of USA marketing budgets, most care more
about the USA numbers than the overall numbers. Until CART can
attract more sponsors that fund their CART sponsorship out of a global
marketing budget, the USA numbers will continue to be more important to
them. This is the strength of F1, where a company like Compaq
computer (a USA company) sponsors a F1 team for the worldwide exposure it
brings. A Compaq computer would value CART's worldwide TV ratings a
lot more than its USA numbers, whereas a Philip Morris USA, the Team
Penske sponsor, puts more value in the USA TV numbers because the USA arm
of Philip Morris is funding that effort. Ditto for a number of other
sponsors in CART. CART's marketing and CART's team marketing
departments are going to have balance the fine line between trying to
attract more sponsors who care about the global value of CART (and hence
are willing to pay more money for sponsorship) vs. keeping their existing
sponsors happy, some of which don't care about anything outside of North
America. It's a giant juggling act, and as we have stated
previously, when looking at where it wants to be 10 years from now, CART
is going to have to decide if it wants limit its growth potential and
remain a North American series, or grow the series slowly into a true
'World Series" with a much bigger fan base and, ultimately, much
higher sponsorship revenue ala F1. With the money a Compaq Computer
is spending to sponsor the Williams F1 team, they likely could easily sponsor
3 or 4 CART teams each year. One has to wonder if companies like
Dell, Microsoft, Gateway, HP, would be more interested in CART if it was
sold as a true international series. CART's short-term goal will be to
shore up it's USA popularity so it has a strong base with which to work
from as it tries to grow slowly worldwide.
• Winston Cup, Pocono (TNT, 7/29) 5.2 rating / 12.9 share / 4.213m households
• Busch, Pikes Peak (NBC, 7/28) 1.6 rating / 4 share (overnight)
• CART, Chicago (ABC, 7/29) 1.3 rating / 3 share (overnight)
• ARCA, Pocono (TNT, 7/28) 0.9 rating / 2.8 share / 0.755m hh
• Cup Happy Hour, Pocono (TNT, 7/28) 0.9 rating / 2.8 share / 0.731m hh
• NHRA, Kent Finals (espn2, 7/29) 0.60 rating / 1 share / 0.458m hh
• NHRA, Kent Qual (espn2, 7/28) 0.47 rating / 1 share / 0.364m hh
• NHRA, Kent Qual (espn2, 7/28) 0.46 rating / 1 share / 0.357m hh
• CART, Chicago Qual (espn2, 7/28) 0.15 rating / 0 share / 0.118m hh
Words of wisdom for CART from England
Hi, I am just writing to say that at a time when despite the fantastic, close and extremely competitive racing, and a lot of people seem to want to belittle CART with a barrage of negative comments/articles serving no purpose other than some vain attempt to boost the IRL, your hard work to promote CART and its events is much appreciated.
Its time for people to stand up and take action to lift the CART FedEx Series up another level to a truly international standpoint.
After all, the IRL is simply no more than a national championship with zero ambition, going places CART have dumped already.
People need to be educated in Europe and CART needs a presence in many more countries around the world.
The uninformed still think the Indy 500 means more than the Champcar title!
Sure F1 is top dog right now, but quite frankly its a total insult - usually processional bores with very little racing, hardly the greatest spectacle around.
Yes, people say its the pinnacle of technology, but that's what holds it back, the lack of competition between the teams meaning its usually between two drivers, rather than the many different winners and close championship races CART is capable of providing.
It dismays me to see CART in such a mess when it is clearly such an entertaining series with so much to offer viewers.
I suppose the first step on the road might be a proper international TV deal - and no matter what anyone says, believe me from much personal experience, Eurosport is not the channel to take CART to Europe.
It really can be quite laughable at times, good for smaller countries perhaps, but its time CART got proper coverage in major countries like Britain and Germany, with their own slots on national terrestrial channels available to all, because Eurosport isn't within a mile of doing the series justice.
This is written from a British (so not quite European, ha!) viewpoint removed from the US, yet just another fan concerned with where CART is going.
Bottom line, educate the masses. Race fans are race fans, they want to be entertained, with racing, not pit strategy - F1's crown is there for the taking, and with the right plan of action CART can certainly achieve that.
Vancouver 2002 date A reader
writes - Local TV stations here in Vancouver have confirmed that the City Council voted and approved three more years for the Molson Indy with the dates to be either June 16th or July
21st for 2002. Those two dates are typically Detroit's (1 week before Portland) and Michigan's
(1 week after Toronto). All indications are that the race will be on
June 16th to save teams travel time. Portland and Vancouver can then
Team Rahal and M-O Track to host Fan Fest
Race fans throughout central Ohio will have a chance to get an up close and personal behind-the-scenes look at Champ Car racing when Team Rahal and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course hosts Fan Fest 2001 on Thursday, August 9 at Quaker Steak and Lube (8500 Lyra Road off I71 and Polaris Parkway, Exit 121) in Westerville, OH. The 2001 Team Rahal Fan Fest coincides with the CART FedEx Championship Series' stop in central-Ohio for the Miller Lite 200 August 10-12 at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, OH. Admission to the Fan Fest, which will run from 4 - 7 PM, is free. Team Rahal Miller Lite driver Max Papis and teammate and CART points leader Shell driver Kenny Brack will sign autographs along with team owner and three-time CART Champion Bobby Rahal from 4-6 PM. Additionally fans will have an opportunity to enjoy RPM [Racing Powered Music] Kenny Brack's rock band, which will take the stage at 6:00 PM. The four-person band led by Brack on lead guitar, is comprised entirely of people involved in the CART FedEx Championship
Series. Fans will also have the chance to view show cars of both Team Rahal drivers and learn more about the competitive sport of Champ Car racing in CART. "This is a great chance for fans to get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on with Team Rahal," said Bobby Rahal. "This is a means for us to give our great fan base here in Columbus and central Ohio a preview of the upcoming weekend of racing at one of the great road courses in existence, Mid Ohio."
Track update A new asphalt racing surface is applied to the Texas Motor Speedway 1.5-mile superspeedway. The maintenance
project is continuing on schedule and should be completed in late August. The Chevy 500
IRL race on September 16 and the Silverado 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on September 15 will be the first events on the new asphalt.
IROC at Indy starting order: Note
favoritism - only 1 CART driver, 6 NASCAR, 4 IRL
Pos. Car Driver Car Color Series
1. 9 Jeff Burton Yellow NASCAR Winston Cup Series
2. 11 Mark Dismore Lime IRL
3. 10 Jeff Green Rose NASCAR Busch Series
4. 8 Buddy Lazier Gold IRL
5. 7 Al Unser Jr.* White IRL
6. 6 Dale Jarrett Aqua NASCAR Winston Cup Series
7. 5 Ricky Rudd Medium Blue NASCAR Winston Cup Series
8. 4 Tony Stewart Silver NASCAR Winston Cup Series
9. 3 Eddie Cheever Jr. Dark Blue IRL
10. 2 Kenny Brack Orange CART FedEx Championship Series
11. 1 Bobby Labonte Black NASCAR Winston Cup Series
* -- replacing injured Scott Goodyear
Cheever fast in Chicago After track crews dried the
Chicagoland Speedway from a torrential morning rain Aug. 2, Eddie Cheever Jr. quickly heated up the 1.5-mile track during the one-day Indy
Racing Northern Light Series Open Test in preparation for the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 2.
1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Cheever turned a lap of 24.9176 seconds, 216.714 mph in the last hour of the abbreviated test on the 1.5-mile
oval. Cheever recorded 121 laps in the #51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.
Second to Cheever was Jeff Ward in the No. 35 Heritage Motorsports Firestone Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Ward produced a lap of
25.0863, 215.257. Eight teams completed a total of 825 laps during the three hours of
testing. "It looked like the weather was going to get the best of the day before
things cleared up," said Brian Barnhart, Indy Racing League vice president of operations. "Once the track went green, the teams were all
business. A lot of good laps were run with even a few full-tank runs completed. The Delphi Indy 300 is going to be a great event for the
series." Barnhart noted that teams and officials had similar feelings after a
test at Kansas Speedway earlier in the year. "According to track officials, the grandstands are going to be packed,
and the facility is first class in every area," Barnhart said. "That combination inspires everyone to put on a good event, which I'm
confident we will. Everyone is excited to come back here."
TV deal sometimes deters race
sponsorship 2nd UPDATE Still
further reader feedback - The Speedvision writer is skewed in his thinking. Event sponsorship on any
level, be it pro sports team or racing goes way beyond merely advertising.
Its true, IRL, NASCAR or CART team sponsor can either buy TV time, or entitle a race, but they won't have the race referred to their sponsorship
unless they buy the time. But there are dozens of reasons to sponsor a race beyond media impressions.
For example, if you run spots during a race but don't have entitlement or event sponsorship, you don't get marks and logos to use in your advertising,
you don't get tickets (especially REALLY good ones) to entertain your clients or customers, you have zero promotional rights in relation to the
event, you aren't going to have hospitality (unless you buy it)... Even companies that buy signage at hockey arenas or baseball
stadiums for that matter, the ones that buy local media for the stick-and-ball teams, get
merchandising as part of the deal, i.e. season tickets or access to promotional opportunities.
Secondly, on your sponsorship issue in regards to US vs. global sponsorship...you are right on in your logic about the US budgets. But in
regards to computer companies... Did you know that both CART and ISL as CART's agent, contacted computer
companies like Compaq, Dell, gateway, IBM, Toshiba and Micron about strictly
trade deals, meaning provision of computers for all CART staff, especially
laptops for road staff with ZERO cash paid by the sponsor and they were rebuffed repeatedly?
Part of the problem, sad to say, is corporate America has zero clue what CART is. The brand name "CART" means nothing. Mention racing to even the
most white collar executive and their first thought is going to be NASCAR.
That's a shame. 8/2/01 - A reader
reminds us - Just an FYI here, race sponsors have always (at least in CART) had to buy
additional TV rights to be mentioned on the broadcasts - in addition to what
they pay the race track to be the title sponsor. That's the reason why you'll see some races simply referred to as the Grand Prix of Cleveland - rather than the Marconi Grand Prix. Basically, the situation is buy the title sponsor, then buy the additional TV rights to go along with it (used to be roughly $100k). For the most part, promoters have always been encouraged to include that extra money in the title sponsorship package, but it hasn't always been the case. You may remember back before the split when Buddy Jobe became upset when his CART title sponsor at Phoenix wasn't mentioned because they hadn't paid the additional monies, instead it was the CART Phoenix 200 as far as TV was
concerned. Keep in mind, that doesn't just refer to on-air mentions, but the actual heading used on the race for introductions and for race updates -- never once will you see the title sponsors name if they haven't ponied up for TV.
Earlier - This Speedvision article
is interesting in that it talks about how the new NASCAR and IRL TV
deals sometimes discourage a sponsor from putting their name on a race
event. Why pay $1.4 million to a track when you get a lot more bang
for your buck (millions of eyeballs instead of only 100,000) by putting
that toward TV advertising.
Die-cast CART and Formula One Transporters
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