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DATE

News (chronologically 3/25/02 to 3/31/02)

3/31/02

Montoya says he's not treated equally and Michael drives dirty   Juan Montoya thinks Michael Schumacher gets preferential treatment in F1.  "I started from pole position and got fastest lap today; it should have been my race. After the start, I made a mistake in the first corner, therefore Michael could get in front of me. Afterward I tried to overtake him again, but he cut across and ripped off my front wing. In the last race we came side by side into Turn 1, and his front wing got engaged with my car, and they gave me a penalty. Now he's chopped in front of me, taken my front wing off. The minimum they (the race stewards) can do is a drive-through (penalty). It's the minimum."  "I thought he was a fair guy to race with but he's definitely not," the Colombian Williams driver told reporters after he hit the back of Schumacher's Ferrari on the opening lap. "I gave him room in the first two corners, it's a bit disappointing," said Montoya, who had started on pole alongside the German and was just two points adrift in the championship. "I went to the inside, I made my move before him and I was behind him and after I had made my move he shut the door...I had enough speed to pass him there. "He reacted later than me and I am very disappointed."  "Last week I took his front wing, even though I gave him room, and I got penalized," said Montoya. "This week he shuts the door in front of me in the same way maybe as Rubens' move on Ralf in the race before. I was even closer and here we go. Who pays? I pay again and it just keeps going."  They penalized Juan in Malaysia when the accident clearly was not his fault, yet in Brazil, nothing was done to Schumacher.  Schumacher and Ferrari are the golden boys of F1, the heroes, the stars.  It also appears they can do no wrong.

3/31/02

Fran-Am

CART Stars of Tomorrow driver tests Fran-Am car   Colin Fleming, 2001 CART Stars of Tomorrow winner and ten-time national karting champion, recently tested a Fran-Am 2000 race car in conjunction with Intercar Motorsport and Sandy Dells Racing at Willow Springs Raceway, near Los Angeles. Story

3/31/02

Still waiting  As can be seen in the photo at the right taken during last Sunday's Yamaha 400, the center-section grandstands looking straight on had even fewer people in them than we first thought.  What we are still waiting to get a press release on is the new 2003 IRL transmission.  As can be seen on both Red Bull cars to right, the existing transmission hangs out the back of the car and acts as a battering ram to transmit loads back through the engine and into the backs of the drivers when a car backs into the wall, many times resulting in broken backs. The butt pads were installed to soften impacts after numerous drivers suffered broken backs the first year the protruding transmission was introduced. The butt pad is full of pre-bent aluminum, a shape engineers call a bellows. When you hit it hard the aluminum folds up like an accordion, absorbing a lot of energy.  That lump of metal hanging out the back also helps to make the car tail-heavy and harder to find the right balance.  Part of that problem is masked from an abundance of downforce the cars have at most tracks.  One would hope the new transmission is a properly designed unit like most modern-era race cars have.  The 2003 engines are a bit lighter than the current ones, so that also should help reduce the inherent imbalance in the car. Ron McQueeney/IMS photo

3/31/02

Atlantics: Hunter-Reay sets the pace   Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the #1 us print/Medlock Ames Winery/Toyota/Swift for Hylton Motorsports completed 176 trouble free miles at Firebird International Raceway on Thursday and 258 miles over the two day test. The Firebird test provided an outstanding opportunity for the team to continue it’s development with the new Swift 014.a chassis and provided Hunter-Reay with his first test at the 1.25-mile road course, where he was consistently the quickest among the seven drivers testing. "This was an excellent test for us. It was my first time at Firebird and I think we achieved everything we had set out for. Wednesday morning was very good, however we had a few things to work out in the afternoon with the brakes. The crew sorted it out and Thursday everything ran like clockwork. This is an incredible group of guys, I couldn’t ask for better," said Hunter-Reay. "We had a very successful test this week at Firebird," commented Chief Engineer Kyle Brannan. "Ryan was quick immediately in the shakedown on Wednesday and every time he is in the car, his feedback gets better and better. On Thursday we were able to try everything we had on our list and spent a lot of time working on our shock development program." Firebird marked Hunter-Reay’s third test of the 2002 season, "I learned a lot about the car at Firebird, I am becoming more and more sensitive to the changes, which really helps me work with my Engineer in developing the set-up." Hunter-Reay set his quickest time on Wednesday and matched it Thursday, even though the track was about four tenths slower. "The track was actually slower on Thursday, the weather had changed a bit and there was even a dust storm in the afternoon which dirtied the track, but my car was faster. We matched our quick time from Wednesday in worse track conditions, so I know we developed a strong car in variable conditions."

3/30/02

Playing the hat game   Retired Formula One drivers Brazilian Nelson Piquet (left) and Austrian Niki Lauda swap caps during first practice for the FIA Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Lauda of course runs the Jaguar F1 program.  Piquet was there to renew old acquaintances.  Photo Credit: Mark Thompson/Ford Racing.

3/30/02

Notes from Brazil   Drivers penalized: Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) and Takuma Sato (DHL Jordan-Honda) had their fastest qualifying times deleted because both drivers exited the pits during practice while the red light was still on. The penalty did not affect their grid positions, however, as their second-fastest times insured that they remained eighth and 19th, respectively, on the grid.  No problems: Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya qualified on the front row for the Malaysian Grand Prix and ended up colliding in the first corner. Asked about their feelings about lining up on the front row again, Michael Schumacher said: "I don't think we have a problem, do we?" Montoya replied, "No."  Grand Prix memories: Local hero Rubens Barrichello watched his first Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos in 1979.  "My grandmother lives between Turn 1 and 2 on the old circuit," he said, "so I remember seeing the race. (Mario) Andretti spun off in Turn 1, and his tire came close to the house, and I was desperate to try and grab it. That's my first memory of Interlagos.  Brazil's Felipe Massa had a unique entry to the track in 1997.  "My manager has a restaurant, and he supplied all the food for Benetton," Massa said. "I delivered the food all during the week. So I came to the track with bananas and loads of food. It was a good experience, just to see Formula One cars."  Back pains: Jacques Villeneuve has been suffering from back pains, which are a legacy of past accidents and the cars bottoming out.  "My back is OK now, but it gave me problems in the last race," said 1997 World Champion Villeneuve. "It is a mixture of everything: accidents and the fact that we keep hitting the ground year after year, and after a while it starts hurting."  Formula 3000 winner: Rodrigo Sperafico won the first FIA Formula 3000 International Championship race of the season. He took the lead on Lap 29 of the 35-lap race from Tomas Enge, who led for 28 laps before retiring. Mario Haberfeld finished second. Ricardo Mauricio, Antonio Pizzonia, Bjorn Wirdheim and Enrico Toccacelo rounded out the top six.  Brazilian drivers finished 1-2-3-4 at their home race.  Juan Pablo Montoya, winner of the 1998 F3000 championship, watched the race from the pit wall.

3/30/02

F1 teams fear for their safety in Sao Paolo Sao Paulo is a large city with over 16 million people. The difference in class of the 'rich' and the 'poor' is extreme, and the rate of crime is high. The F1 teams appear to be targets for the criminals every year. Last year, five mechanics from the BMW WiliamsF1 Team had an armed man suddenly threatened them at a red traffic light. He beat against the window of their car demanding money, only the light changed to green and they accelerated away. Tony Lees of the Minardi team made a withdrawal from an ATM and was promptly threatened with a pistol by three men and was relieved of his money.  The Jaguar team reported eight missing laptop computers, and the secret  team data they contained were gone. Crime in 2002 is about the same as 2001, and the F1 circus is hoping to get out of town this year with their pants still on.

3/30/02

Friday Press Conference from Brazil Drivers: Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and Jacques Villeneuve (BAR).  Team Personnel: Flavio Briatore (Renault), Patrick Head (Williams), Norbert Haug (Mercedes) and Eddie Jordan (Jordan). Read...

3/30/02

Quote of the week  CART President Chris Pook was on the Speed Freaks radio show last Sunday Night and blurted out this weeks quote of the week regarding last weekends IRL race at Fontana  - "Anytime you only put 12,000 people in a place when you have got 17 million people to draw from, you have to beg the question don't you?  There's nothing wrong with the racing.  The racing is very good.  You just got to question the capability of some of the folks working for Tony George who spend a fortune in the marketplace (on marketing) and draw that number of people."  Ouch.  Actually Chris was trying to be nice. What he likely meant to say was Beating a Dead Horse, Where's My Fork?  You can throw all the money at it in the world, but when you put open wheel cars on the same stage (ovals) as Winston Cup cars, you are likely to come up on the short end of the stick.  Why?  Because 1) fans identify with Winston Cup cars, they're more like what they drive on the street, 2) Cup cars bump and bang providing more action.  One bump in an open wheel car and you are in the wall, 3) NASCAR has sucked the oval track market dry.  CART is well positioned with it's street and road courses, and overseas venues, such that it does not have to rely on left over scraps from NASCAR to survive.  It has carved out its own market niche.  Now it must solidify and grow it, and Pook has set those wheels in motion to do just that.

3/30/02

Pat Patrick - CART can beat F1 at its own game  We've said it enough times to be accused of being repetitive, but alas, it's finally starting to sink in.  Everyone who understands the global economy, and NASCAR's stranglehold on USA oval racing understands the concept as well.  The crowd at Fontana last weekend for the IRL race pretty much says what we have been saying, unless you artificially prop up open wheel oval track races with 2 for 1 NASCAR ticket deals, stick a fork in them, they're done.  And the 2 for 1 ticket deals are voodoo economics that eventually come back to bite you in the posterior.  Now Pat Patrick, in an interview on CART.com chimes in - "I'm the guy who took us (CART) international in the first place," Patrick remarked. "I built the track in Monterrey before I sold it to my partners and I think I proved my point. Our major sponsors are international for the most part. The costs in Formula 1 are prohibitive and there is a void we can fill. We can deliver a better show than Formula 1 for one-10th of the cost. I'm very much in favor of that to increase revenue and profits."  Bring on China my friends.

3/29/02

Heitzler files countersuit against CART When Joe Heitzler came on board at CART the lawsuits against CART began, and now, even after he is gone they continue.  He appears to be the common denominator.  This AP article reveals the lawsuit filed by former CART President CEO against CART, just two days after CART sued him for fraud.  Heitzler charged in an action filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court that his termination was in response to actions he took to eliminate conflicts of interest and self-dealing by several of CART's directors. Among the allegations is that several directors sold their holdings in CART before the organization adopted a controversial engine change for the upcoming racing series to prevent a potential stock loss. "As a result of these actions, (Heitzler) antagonized several members of CART's board of directors. ..." the lawsuit stated. "On or about Dec. 4, 2001, at CART's board of director's meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., several CART directors sought to terminate (Heitzler's) employment 'for cause'. ... This attempt was rejected by a majority of CART's board."

3/29/02

Who still owns what CART stock This web page list recent CART stock transactions, but it also shows how many shares the key stock holders or CART team owners still hold (right most column).  You will notice that someone from Newman Haas is cashing out their remaining shares.

3/29/02

Toyota Atlantic Series update The 2002 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship got off to a soggy start over two weeks ago in Monterrey, Mexico, with Dorricott Racing’s Jon Fogarty sliding to victory in Round 1 of the new season. During the month off, teams and drivers have been preparing for what appears to be a shootout for the checkered flag at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach that will take place on Sunday, April 14th, 2002. The race at Long Beach will see even more new teams and drivers enter the fray in one of the most prestigious open-wheeled development series in the world. More....

3/29/02

Takagi tests at Sebring and Homestead Walker Racing used the break in the race schedule to prepare for the rest of the 2002 CART FedEx Championship season by testing at Sebring International Raceway and at the Homestead Motorsports Complex this week. The team encountered no mechanical setbacks during either test with the Reynard/Toyota/Bridgestone combination, allowing for maximum running time for driver Tora Takagi. The Sebring test was the last opportunity for the team to test its road-course set-ups in preparation for the upcoming Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  Story  Walker Racing

3/29/02

Patrick Racing completes first in-season test Visteon/Patrick Racing completed its sixth test since the end of the 2001 season, first in-season test and first on an oval, March 26-27, on the Homestead Speedway oval in Homestead, Florida. Rookie Townsend Bell, who pilots the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Bridgestone, ran approximately 300 miles during the two days, which were devoted to working on setups for the upcoming oval contest at Motegi, Japan. “The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team had a very good test and got a lot of work done on the Homestead oval,” Bell said. “We weren’t the fastest car out there, but we weren’t the slowest either. The key for us was to work on our oval setup. This was our first test on an oval this year. In addition, we just got some new oval parts from Reynard, so this test gave us an opportunity to collect a lot of valuable data. The car felt good. It is very similar to the basic setup I ran last year in Europe. Overall, it was a good test and we have a good idea for the setup heading into the first oval race in Japan,” Bell noted. Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee said, “The Visteon/Patrick Racing team had a very productive test on the Homestead oval. This was our first oval test so we spent most of our time working with the aerodynamic package and on setups for Motegi. Of course, the weather conditions here are considerably warmer than what they will be in Motegi, but we were able to get quite a bit of work done. We tried a variety of things, made a lot of progress and are looking good heading into the first oval race of the season.”  Patrick Racing

3/29/02

Brack to perform in Long Beach on Thursday UPDATE Here are some images from Kenny Brack's appearance at the Blue Cafe, a downtown Long Beach bar/blues nightclub. Kenny played five songs on his Gibson Les Paul guitar with a local blues band led by guitarist/vocalist Brophy Dale. The quartet played for about 30 minutes, much to the delight of the early evening crowd. 3/27/02 -  CART Champ Car driver Kenny Brack of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and local blues band "Cat Blues" will be playing at Blue Café, 210 The Promenade, Long Beach - just north of Broadway at Pine Avenue on The Promenade on March 28th. Kenny will be there for a media conference as a prelude to the upcoming Toyota GP of Long Beach and then will perform with Cat Blues starting at around 6:15 PM. Fans are welcome to attend at 6:15 PM to cheer Kenny on as he plays his guitar.  MC


Photos by Keith Laurent of the GPALB

3/29/02

Coulthard and Montoya top Friday practice in Brazil  David Coulthard turned the fastest time today in Friday practice for the Brazilian GP.  His time of 1.15.057 min was just a tick faster than race-favorite Juan Montoya who lapped in 1.15.345 min.  The top 6 were: Coulthard, Montoya, McNish, R Schumacher, M Schumacher, Raikkonen. Times

3/29/02

Infiniti Pro Series car taking shape in Italy  As these pictures show, the first Infiniti Pro Series car is taking shape at the Dallara factory in Parma, Italy. (Photos by IRL)

The inaugural season of the Infiniti Pro Series will begin July 7 at Kansas Speedway and culminate with the Sept. 14 season finale at Texas Motor Speedway. Nashville Superspeedway, Michigan International Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Gateway International Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway also will play host to Infiniti Pro Series events in 2002.  The 100-mile Infiniti Pro Series "sprints" will take place at the same track and on the same day as Indy Racing League events except for the Texas race, which will take place the day before the IRL's season-ending Chevy 500.  Infiniti Q45 engines will power new Dallara Automobili chassis built for the series, with Firestone Firehawk tires used exclusively on all cars. The V8 engines will produce approximately 450 horsepower for the single-seat winged chassis, providing an ideal training ground for the 650-horsepower, single-seat winged cars of the Indy Racing League.

3/29/02

Indy 500 entries lagging  Entries for the 2002 Indy 500 must be postmarked by next Wednesday, April 3.  Whereas in some years we have seen 80 to 90 entries, so far this year there are just 14 drivers and 35 cars entered.  Hopefully there will be a big last minute rush, but we doubt it will get back to the levels it once was when the field was 100% CART.  Sponsorship is tight and the money it takes to spend the month of May at Indy and run lap after lap after lap, burring out engines and tires is astronomical.  Therefore, teams are not entering anymore cars than they think they can afford to run.  In the end, we expect over 50 cars will be entered, and around 30 to 35 drivers.

3/29/02

Mario Andretti rips into the IRL  In this Shav Glick article that appears in today's LA Times, Mario Andretti rips into Tony George and the IRL.  Here are some of his remarks, viewed by many to be spot on:
1)  "It makes great conversation to discuss what's wrong with open-wheel racing today," he said from his home in Nazareth, Pa. "The IRL's what's wrong. Six years the IRL has been trying to promote itself and it hasn't made a dent. "They've tried everything to make it exciting, bringing in Roger Penske's team, getting Al Unser Jr., but it makes no difference. They just don't have a product to sell. Look at the attendance this year. They haven't had more than 20,000 anywhere and [last Sunday] at Fontana they had no more than 12,000 paid.
2) "I think it should have been embarrassing to Roger to be there. It goes to show, either you have a product or you don't have a product. And the IRL doesn't have one."
3) "I don't listen to all that talk about not enough American drivers in CART," Mario said. "We're just like golf. Foreign players is what makes golf so popular now. The day of parochialism in sports is over. The world is too small for what people like to call the good old days. Fans want the best, wherever they come from."
4) "As long as there is NASCAR, no all-oval open-wheel series can be successful. The only way would be to line up 50 cars on the track and if you did that, you might as well have all the local funeral homes on standby. It's just not feasible."
5) "It's a pity how much the IRL has degraded Indy, the premier event in racing. It's no longer what it used to be. I remember when 200,000, the real fans of Indy, would turn out for qualifying. I went last year, the first time I'd been back since Tony forced CART out, and there weren't 20,000 there. I couldn't believe it. It was like being in Milwaukee. How can Tony George and the speedway people not see that?

3/29/02

Reynard teams in dire straits  With Reynard closing their doors yesterday, it's going to be difficult for teams running Reynards to find parts. The Honda powered teams all have Lolas already in their shop, but the Ford and Toyota powered Reynard teams don't.  That means everyone is going to be scrambling to order new Lola's.  They are lucky there are no CART races in May.  This gives them time to get their new cars and prep them for Milwaukee in early June.  They can forget about having them for LB and Japan - it's too late if they don't have them in their shop already. One things for certain - they are burning the midnight oil at Lola right now, and the cash register is going cha-ching, cha-ching. And at Lola's USA distributor, Carl Haas, business is said to be booming.  Carl even bought a box of the very best Cuban cigars to nibble on. MC

3/29/02

Teams starting to realize CART's lease deals the way to go  Jimmy Vasser came away from last weekend's race at Fontana with a very sour taste in his mouth.  So did Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran.  All were beaten by Chevy engines that had far more HP than their Chevy. In yesterday's Indy Star News, Vasser put it in a nutshell - he said he's tired of hearing that all IRL engines are created equal. "I was born on a Wednesday," he said, "but not last Wednesday."  With CART's engine leases, a Honda is a Honda and a Ford is a Ford.  In the IRL, the rules allow everyone to throw money at engine development programs just for their team to gain an advantage.  Right now, the Panther Racing team's Chevy appears the most potent, with Lazier's Menard Chevy engine close behind.  Of course the Menard team will always give their best engines to their own team, so buying an engine from Menard means you are behind the 8-ball right off the bat.  The IRL is quickly becoming a series of have's (who has deep pockets to throw money at making 'special' engines) and have not's (those who don't have the money, or those who, even if they have the money, can't get an engine as good as the factory team does).  CART should learn a lesson here, and not copy the IRL supply rulebook when it comes to engine supply and ownership.  They should encourage the lease programs as they exist today, where each manufacturers does all their own rebuilds, and all their customers have the 'same' engine.  That does not mean CART should not look for ways to cut costs, of course they should.  But letting every Tom, Dick and Harry build engines just leads to disparity, engine failures, higher costs, and unhappy teams. We also like CART's plan whereby each manufacturer can only select 2 or 3 teams on their own, the rest they get by drawing from a hat.  This way one manufacturer can't 'buy' all the best teams.  MC

3/28/02

Mario Andretti to sign books  The legendary Mario Andretti will appear at the Borders Books and Music at 2110 Bellflower Rd. in Long Beach beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 11. The 52-time Champ Car race winner will sign copies of his best-selling biography, Mario Andretti: A Driving Passion, which was written by long-time motorsports journalist Gordon Kirby, who will also be on-hand to sign copies of the book... The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend will feature an all-Champ Car driver autograph session in the Lagoon Park South section of the race track on Friday, April 12 at 3:45 p.m. Drivers Kenny Brack and Scott Dixon will not be in attendance for the session as they will be participating in the first CART Winners Circle Fan Club Meeting of the season taking place at 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, April 13

3/28/02

Turkey also wants a F1 race  UPDATE We reported this back in August, and the story has resurfaced  today in a Reuters article which states - Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone has told Turkish officials that if they build a track he would try to add them to the schedule. "Turkey has a lot of potential," Ecclestone told the state-run Anatolian news agency. Speaking after a meeting with Turkish Automobile and Motorsports Federation president Mumtaz Tahincioglu in Istanbul, Ecclestone said there was no reason why Istanbul should not host a grand prix. "There are a lot of advantages," he said. "I don't see any disadvantages. First you just have to come up with a track. "After that we can fix the calendar." The Turkish Motorsports Federation took out a full-page advert in the January edition of F1 Magazine to publicize its campaign to bring a race to Istanbul.  8/9/01 - 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 attendance in Chicago or Milwaukee is a better fit?

3/28/02

Thursday Press Conference  Drivers: Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA), Enrique BERNOLDI (BRA), Enrique BERNOLDI (BRA), Jenson Button (GB), Felipe MASSA (BRA), Ralf SCHUMACHER (GER).  Transcript

3/28/02

Moran & Wieringa join CART Ministries  When the CART Ministries board meets in April, Sigma Autosport will be well represented by Rocky Moran Jr. and Dave Wieringa. The two Sigma Autosport Toyota-Atlantic drivers have been named to serve as members of the Ministries board. Reverend Bob Pirtle, one of the chaplains serving CART Ministries, made the appointments of Moran and Wieringa. CART Ministries have been providing pastoral care to the CART community for more than 15 years now. Pirtle said there were openings for two driver representatives when last season’s reps Roberto Moreno and Helio Castroneves found out they were not competing in the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series. Wieringa, 21, and a student at Calvin College in Michigan when he is not racing, is competing in his first year in the CART Toyota-Atlantic Series. He indicated he was thrilled with the appointment and immediately suggested that his teammate also get appointed. “Roberto (Moreno) was on the board last season and unfortunately, he’s not driving right now, so that left the driver representative vacant,” said Wieringa. “Bob Pirtle asked me if I would come on as the new representative. Needless to say, I was surprised and honored that he would ask me. I then asked Bob if Rocky could also work with me on the board and Bob was all for it.” “When David suggested that Rocky also join, I jumped at the chance to have him,” said Pirtle.

3/28/02

Rules change for Ford's   Officials for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) announced a ¼-inch increase for the rear spoiler height on the Ford Taurus to be used in next month's Talladega 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Measurements for the rear spoilers on the Ford Taurus will now read at 6 inches tall by 57 inches wide. During the Daytona 500 in February, the Ford's rear spoiler was 5 ¾ inches tall. The Chevrolet and Dodge teams rear spoiler will remain at 6 ¼ inches tall, while the Pontiac teams will measure at 6 ½ inches tall by 57 inches wide. The first NASCAR Winston Cup Series practice for the Talladega 500 weekend begins Friday, April 19 at 11:00 a.m. (CT).

3/28/02

Marlboro Team Penske test at Richmond Marlboro Team Penske completed a successful debut at Richmond International Raceway today, as Gil de Ferran piloted the No. 6 Dallara/Chevrolet to 250 trouble-free laps over two days during an Indy Racing League test. Penske Racing is the most successful Indy Car team in history with 111 wins and 11 Indianapolis 500 victories. De Ferran won the last two titles in the CART FedEx Championship Series before the team moved to the Indy Racing League this season. "I would agree with the statement that Richmond is more like a road course than some of the other ovals," De Ferran said. "You have to be more careful how you push the power here and the banking rolls off very quickly. If you stomp on the gas here, it's gone. So you really have to drive it carefully. It will be a real challenging and interesting race. I'm looking forward to coming back here to race in June when it's warmer." The weather was a factor during the test session, as de Ferran battled temperatures in the mid 50's with a steady wind. "It's been cold here yesterday and today and there isn't a lot of grip out on the track because I'm the only one out here, so those things have been an issue." de Ferran said. Penske Racing, Inc. President Tim Cindric was on hand for the test and likes that the ¾ mile "Action Track" requires a tremendous amount of skill to drive. "There's a lot of finesse involved for the driver here and I think our guys are used to that kind of thing," Cindric said. "They're used to car control; being able to apex a corner different ways, passing on the inside or the outside, and then applying brakes while you're passing. Brakes aren't really a factor with some oval tracks. Applying the brakes, when to apply them and being consistent with them are going to be important factors here on race day." "You lift going into Turn One and you brake going into Turn Three, depending on how fast you're going," de Ferran continued. "But you certainly have to drive the car a lot, which I really like. Driving-wise, it's like Phoenix and Nazareth, which are mile ovals. It terms of shape, it is very similar to Fontana (California Speedway, a two-mile oval), but it's much smaller, obviously. The lines end up being relatively similar to what they are in Fontana, because the shape of the racetrack is very similar, but you can't go flat out."

3/28/02

Test slated for Nazareth Indy Racing League teams and drivers make their much-anticipated debut at Nazareth Speedway for the only 2002 IRL test session at the Speedway on April 4 and 5. This scheduled test session, which is open to the public on Friday, April 5 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., is in preparation for the April 21st Inaugural Firestone Indy 225 event. Among the 17 teams tentatively scheduled to test is reigning IRL champion and current point leader Sam Hornish Jr., drivers Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran of Reading-based Penske Racing and open-wheel veterans Eddie Cheever Jr. and Al Unser Jr.  Nazareth Speedway

3/28/02

Andretti very fast in Lola UPDATE As we predicted, Andretti stated at Homestead that they will likely run the Lola in Japan.  Remember, Andretti and Lola have dominated ovals in recent years.  We remember in particular Gateway in 2000.  Both he and Juan Montoya were in a Lola.  Andretti started deep in the field.  Before the 1/4 distance he blew Montoya into the weeds and proceeded to lap everyone in the field but Juan.  He was on Montoya's tail when he then stopped for his final pit stop, came back out, was ready to lap Juan, when his engine failed. Typical Andretti luck, but it underscores just how good Andretti is on the ovals with the right car, he made the great Juan look like chopped liver that day.  3/28/02 -  [Editor's Note: Based on Andretti having the 2nd fastest time at Homestead that we have seen to date, and given it was only his first time in the Lola, we are willing to bet Andretti will be in the Lola in Japan.  With the Reynard bankruptcy announcement, it look like a slam dunk.]  Team Motorola and driver Michael Andretti undertook a new challenge this week by completing their first evaluation test of a Lola chassis. The team conducted a two-day test (Tuesday and Wednesday) on the 1.5-mile oval of Home stead Speedway and ran 238 trouble free laps with a quick time of 26.53 seconds. The goal for Team Motorola was two-fold during the test; evaluate the performance of the 2002 Lola chassis and put as many miles as possible on the package to insure it's endurance and reliability. Team Motorola driver Michael Andretti was already scheduled for the two test days at Homestead and his familiarity with the Lola chassis allowed a natural fit for this type of evaluation. "I think the test went very well," said Andretti. "Team Motorola did an awesome job of preparing the car and we didn't miss a beat all test. Although the aerodynamic configuration wasn't the optimum for this track, we were still quick and were able to gather a lot of information on the Lola." 2002 marks Andretti's 19th season in Champ Car racing and he currently holds the record for most career victories (41) and most career starts (291) for active Champ Car drivers. Team manager Tony Cotman oversaw the test and was impressed with the faultless performance of the car throughout the evaluation. "It was a pretty tough task but Team Motorola pulled it off well. This was like having a first test day in the middle of the season," said Cotman. "It was a total team effort to get the Lola on track and the car ran flawlessly for two days so we're pretty pleased at this point. Now we'll take the information from this test and go back to Indianapolis to make some decisions about the chassis. We will definitely run the Reynard chassis at Long Beach, but beyond that we're not 100% sure." Team Motorola has now returned to their Indianapolis shop to begin preparations for their next race, which will be in Long Beach, California on April 14, 2002.

3/28/02

Team Rahal tests in Homestead  CART franchise member Team Rahal wrapped up the team's first oval test for the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series season with two-days on track this week at Miami/Homestead Speedway. During the two-day test both Shell driver Jimmy Vasser and Gigante driver Michel Jourdain Jr. logged time in their Ford-Cosworth powered Lola's on the south Florida oval. Combined the two Team Rahal drivers ran nearly 650-miles during the test, posting some of the fastest times (unofficially) recorded over the two-days. Vasser posted a fast lap of 26.4 seconds on Thursday and Jourdain Jr. collected a fast lap of 26.9 also on Thursday. "It was a very productive test," said Team Rahal Technical Coordinator Ray Leto. "We had a strong oval program last year and we were anxious to see how the off season improvements made by Lola and Ford-Cosworth would respond on the track. Over the course of the test at Homestead we never tried to set-up the car for an optimum run at Homestead, but instead we focused on testing the changes that will be important at Japan, Milwaukee, Chicago and the European tracks. Posting the laps we did while never optimizing the car for the track we were on gives us a good indication that our program is on course."

3/28/02

Team Rahal lands new sponsor for LBGP  Team Rahal, a franchise member of Championship Auto Racing Teams ("CART"), and New Century Mortgage Corporation, a subsidiary of New Century Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: NCEN), announced today a partnership to be an associate sponsor for the upcoming Grand Prix of Long Beach. The logo of New Century Mortgage Corporation will be placed on the Champ Car of Michel Jourdain, Jr., the driver of the Gigante car, Team Rahal's Ford-Cosworth powered Lola Champ Car, featuring Bridgestone Potenza tires, which enters the Grand Prix of Long Beach fourth in the 2002 CART championship. "We are very excited about partnering with Team Rahal and being a sponsor of a world renowned race team for the Grand Prix of Long Beach," said Patrick Flanagan, President of New Century Mortgage Corporation. "This is a unique opportunity for New Century to be a part of this annual event and to receive national exposure," added Flanagan. "We are pleased to join in a partnership with New Century Mortgage for the Grand Prix of Long Beach," said three-time CART champion and Team Rahal co-owner Bobby Rahal. "New Century Financial has proven to be one of the leaders in the specialty finance market and we are honored that they have chosen to utilize Team Rahal and CART as a promotional and marketing tool to spread the word about their services. In my conversations with the leaders of New Century Mortgage, I have found them to be a dedicated and driven group of individuals that have aggressive plans for the continued growth of their company. These are the kind of like-minded partners that we seek here at Team Rahal." New Century Financial Corporation is a leading nationwide specialty mortgage banking company that, through its subsidiaries, originates, purchases and sells residential mortgage loans secured primarily by first mortgages on single-family residences.

3/28/02

More Indy 500 entries filed  Hemelgarn Racing filed two entries March 28 for the 86th Indianapolis 500, including one for 1996 winner Buddy Lazier, and Sam Schmidt Motorsports also filed a single entry for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. 2000 Indy Racing League champion Lazier will drive the No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, with an identical backup entered. Lazier, from Vail, Colo., will attempt to make his 10th Indianapolis 500 start. He has compiled one of the most successful records of any driver at Indy in recent years. Starting with his victory in 1996, Lazier has finished in the top seven in five of his last six Indianapolis 500 starts. The only exception was last year, when he finished 18th. Hemelgarn also entered the No. 92 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, with an identical backup also entered. The driver will be announced later. Dennis LaCava is the chief mechanic and Lee Kunzman the team manager for both Hemelgarn entries. Rookie Anthony Lazzaro was named as the driver for the No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone entered by Sam Schmidt Motorsports. An identical backup also was entered. Phil McRobert is the chief mechanic, and Skip Faul is the team manager. Lazzaro, from Acworth, Ga., first must complete the Rookie Orientation Program on April 11-13 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before participating in the Indianapolis 500 activities during May.  IRL

3/28/02

CART Ladder System update  Despite racing in a field featuring drivers from the upper levels of the CART Driver Development Ladder System, Phil Carlson dominated the ICC 125 class during the Stars of Tomorrow season opening event at Willow Springs Kart Track in Rosamond, Calif. Carlson – who is a resident of Rosamond – outraced polesitter Matt Jaskol to gain the point heading into Turn 1 and would never really be challenged for the remainder of the race. More..... (PDF)

3/28/02
ASCAR

ASCAR announces TV package  The ASCAR racing series, for powerful V8 American saloons as immortalized by Tom Cruise in 'Days of Thunder', has signed a contract for no less than 100 hours of television airtime on the Motors TV channel, which will be broadcast across Europe. This augments the existing comprehensive package of terrestrial television coverage on Channel 4 in the UK, to give one of the biggest motor sports airtime packages outside of Formula One. Motors TV is also available to Sky Digital subscribers as a free service on channel 429 and reaches 6 million households in the UK. It also reaches 1.5million households in Germany. Motors TV is also licensed by the American Indy Racing League to broadcast all its events including the Indianapolis 500 and by NASCAR, showing all rounds of the Busch Cup series.

3/28/02

New team manager for Kelley Racing  Kelley selects new team manager: Jim Wilson was named team manager of Kelley Racing effective immediately, team general manager Jim Freudenberg announced March 28. Wilson is in charge of racing operations and the day-to-day management of Kelley's two Indy Racing League teams. Kelley fields the No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. and the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by 1996 IRL co-champion Scott Sharp. Although Wilson has performed many responsibilities with race teams, this will be his first experience as a team manager. He has been involved in racing for almost 20 years, working for such teams as Team Green, Chip Ganassi Racing and Galles-Kraco Racing. He also worked for Players LTD/Team Green in 1995 when it won the Indianapolis 500 and CART championship with driver Jacques Villeneuve. Wilson joined Kelley Racing in December 2001, when he was hired to oversee renovations to the team's new race shop in Indianapolis. The team moved into the 34,000-square-foot facility Jan. 1, and final renovations should be completed this spring.  IRL

3/28/02

CART and Gehl announce continued partnership CART and Gehl Company announced today that Gehl has renewed its relationship with the auto racing sanctioning body and is continuing its distinction as "Official Dynalift of CART and the Simple Green CART Safety Team." Gehl Dynalifts play a critical role in clearing disabled race cars from the track, allowing for faster clean-up after an incident and fewer laps run under caution flags. The West Bend, Wis.-based company first partnered with CART in 1996, and the relationship has allowed Gehl engineers and CART officials to work together and perfect techniques and equipment, including a special swivel attachment for the Dynalift boom, allowing for efficient removal of damaged race cars. "The Gehl Company is pleased to again renew the partnership with CART," said Gehl Company Vice President of Sales and Marketing Daniel Keyes. "The racing venue has provided us with a unique opportunity to partner with the premier races in the world. We look forward to building upon the relationships established with the intent of providing our dealers and customers the enterprise value they expect from the events." Gehl provides CART with Dynalift equipment and expert operators at several CART events, including the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway, the CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, the Grand Prix of Road America Featuring the Motorola 220, the Grand Prix of Denver, and the Grand Prix of the Americas on the streets of downtown Miami. "We are very happy that Gehl Company has chosen to renew its long-term relationship with CART," said CART Vice President of Marketing Steve Fusek. "The company provides the Simple Green CART Safety Team with the most efficient equipment to clean-up incidents, which in turn provides our fans at the race track and those watching on television with more fast-paced racing action. Gehl has gone beyond the role of a sponsor and has actually become an active participant in CART events. They are truly critical to our success."

3/28/02

More cost cutting needed  Sure sounds like the Formula One money train is drying up.  After the FIA announced the new 1-engine for an entire weekend rule to save money, some team owners are calling for even more cost saving measures.  It sounds like they are starting to realize that CART's and IRL's more restrictive rules perhaps make a lot of sense.

3/28/02

Open-Wheel Racing Summit announced  Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal is pleased to announce the forthcoming Open-Wheel Racing Summit, May 21-22, 2002 at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and The Westin Indianapolis. Presented by SportsBusiness Journal, the Open-Wheel Racing Summit has been designed to provide a behind the scenes examination of the marketing, sponsorship, television and challenges & vision for open-wheel racing in the U.S. The event's distinguished speaker faculty has been instrumental in helping craft a program that addresses the industry's most pressing issues, and meets the true needs of senior-level sports executives. The Summit will delve into areas that are critical to the future of open-wheel racing including leadership, television rights, sponsorship, new media and support series. This exciting two-day program will analyze the significant opportunities and challenges ahead through a series of featured keynote presentations, lively panel discussions, guest appearances, and roundtable discussions from IRL and CART that no industry executive would want to miss. Issues to be examined include: What can be done to enhance open-wheel racing as a brand? What is the role of sponsors in the future of open-wheel racing? How can open-wheel position itself, and compete in a fragmented racing market and over-saturated sports market? What is the future mission for the sport? Is there money still out there for sponsorships in a slowing economy? What do the fans want? What are top brands focusing on? Behind-the-scenes opportunities include pace car rides, exclusive tours and credentials for Carb Day. Attendees will also have the chance to network informally with their peers the week of the world famous Indianapolis 500. This is the event where top brand managers, owners, the leagues, manufacturers and broadcasters will have the exclusive opportunity to network and mingle at the Brickyard. For program details or registration information, please visit www.SportsConferences.org or call 212-869-7231 ext. 18.  Street & Smith's

3/28/02

Brazil preview and team update  Although Brazil did not join the official FIA Formula One World Championship trail until 1973, the Interlagos circuit on the outskirts of sprawling, metropolitan Sao Paulo hosted its first race meeting as long ago as 1940. In the post-war years it was a regular venue for international sports car events, frequently attracting competitors from Europe, but it is as the breeding grounds for such legendary Brazilian drivers as Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and the late Ayrton Senna who really gained its international reputation.  More...

3/28/02

Atlantics: Scuadra Fortia team at Buttonwillow - Day 2  Allen Berg and his Scuadra Fortia team continued with their test session with Mexican driver Eduardo Figueroa at the 1.3-mile circuit of Buttonwillow, California, in preparation for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Round 2 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Series. Waldemar Coronas, #88 Scuadra Fortia: "This Wednesday I couldn't run because of a complication in a root canal and I had to go in emergency treatment. The team decided that I should rest. On Friday I will resume my driving duties." Eduardo Figueroa, #86 Scuadra Fortia (Allen Berg, owner of Scuadra Fortia and Scuadra Fortia driver Eduardo Figueroa pictured above): "Today (Wednesday) was a very positive day. We have been working all day long with the data acquisition system EFI and with my driving coach, a former CART driver (Alex Barron). He is helping me with my driving techniques, which have been very much improved, mainly in details that I needed to work on. I ran about 85 laps and my best lap-time was: 59.4 seconds. The most important thing is that I was able to run, knowing more and more about the car. We are on the right direction and the crew is very optimistic. I have three Mexican mechanics who worked with me in the Mexican F3 Series and they have been able to get used very quickly to the way our engineer Stefan (Dwornik) works." And he added: "I will test this Friday. Also on Monday of the Long Beach race week. We also plan to test at San Luis Potosi, in Mexico with an Indy Lights (April 4 & 5). My team owner Allen Berg and my team mate Waldemar Coronas will be there to support me." Allen Berg, owner of Scuadra Fortia: "For this session, Eduardo (Figueroa) enjoyed full attention of the team, since Waldemar did not run. We worked on pit stops and having at hand a consultant for the cars and drivers, who is an experienced driver, the session was even more productive. Eduardo worked on the development of the Swift 0.14a and on driving techniques such as braking with the left foot. We also had the support of four technicians from EFI to make sure that we don't have problems with the data acquisition system. In the CART Series, Fernandez Racing and Target/Ganassi Racing also use this system. We feel confident that we won't have problems in the future with the EFI system."

3/27/02

Fernández Racing completes first oval test at Homestead  Fernández Racing returned to the race track this week, completing a two-day test at Homestead-Miami Speedway this afternoon. The successful outing marked the first oval track run for Adrián Fernández and Shinji Nakano in the team’s new 2002 equipment package as Fernández Racing prepares for upcoming oval events on the CART FedEx Championship Series schedule, including the Bridgestone Potenza 500 in Motegi, Japan, on April 27. Fernández, who captured the pole position and two championship points at the season-opening Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, and Nakano are currently the only drivers running the Honda/Lola/Bridgestone combination. The pair were joined at the test by over half of the Champ Car field as 14 drivers in total took to the 1.5-mile oval.  Fernández and Nakano each logged over 200 miles yesterday, with Fernández being one of only four drivers to unofficially post lap times in the 26-second range. Nakano, who lapped in the 27-second range, was working through balance problems as the team explored various engineering options with both cars, including different levels of downforce and different suspension setups. Fernández and Nakano completed an additional 350 miles today aboard their #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex and #52 Alpine/Mitsuba machines. Fernández was unofficially in the top-five with a lap time of 26.8 seconds. Nakano made gains from yesterday to post a best lap of 27.3. “The test went well,” said Fernández. “We made a lot of changes and tried a lot of things during these two days. Some things worked and some things didn’t, but at least we know where we are with changes to the setup. I feel that we should be good [in the oval races].” “We still couldn’t find the balance that I want, but the car was getting better and it was certainly better than yesterday,” said Nakano. “We learned a lot. We made progress from yesterday, but we still need to find more.

3/27/02
Industry News

Markets Nielsen measures  The Nielsen TV rating system measures 210 Designated Market Areas (DMA's).  NY City is the #1 DMA with 7.3 million households with TV's.

1 New York, NY 7,301,060
2 Los Angeles, CA 5,303,490
3 Chicago, IL 3,360,770
4 Philadelphia, PA 2,801,010
5 San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA 2,426,010
6 Boston, MA (Manchester, NH) 2,315,700
7 Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 2,201,170
8 Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD) 2,128,430
9 Atlanta, GA 1,990,650
10 Detroit, MI 1,878,670
11 Houston, TX 1,831,680
12 Seattle-Tacoma, WA 1,647,230
13 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 1,573,640
14 Tampa-St. Petersburg (Sarasota), FL 1,568,180
15 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL 1,549,680
16 Phoenix, AZ 1,536,950
17 Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH 1,513,130
18 Denver, CO 1,381,620
19 Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA 1,226,670
20 Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, FL 1,182,420
All 210....

3/27/02

Laguna Seca construction update 


(L to R) Looking back down main straight toward final turn.  Widening the pit lane.  Utility work.  Pit lane widening.  Laying the base course.  Compacting base course with handheld tamper.

3/27/02

Jaguar hires a new aerodynamicist  In its on-going quest for aerodynamic advancement Jaguar Racing has appointed Ben Agathangelou as head of aerodynamics, effective as of May 1 2002. Dr. Mark Handford led this group and will now work for Agathangelou.  Ben joins from Renault F1, where he occupied a similar position, just as Jaguar Racing’s new wind tunnel facility in Bicester (UK) is due to come online. Announcing the news Jaguar Racing’s MD and technical director Guenther Steiner said: “Ben will bring a new and experienced technical dimension to this team. We have never really lacked in any other aspect of our racing package apart from aerodynamic efficiency and combined with our new wind tunnel, we can now set clearly defined goals which will allow us to compete on an even playing field with our competitors in Formula One. “Our efforts at recruiting the best personnel do not stop here and we look forward to announcing some more additions to our team in the very near future,” Steiner added. Ben will oversee the core aerodynamic program at Jaguar Racing led by chief aerodynamicist Mark Handford and chief designer John Russell. Prior to joining Renault (formally Benetton) in late 1999, Ben was chief aerodynamicist on the Honda Racing development program between April 1998 and August 1999. He also served time at Tyrrell and at McLaren. Jaguar Racing’s new wind tunnel starts contributing to the development of the R3 from next Tuesday. The project was undertaken by Reynard Engineering in May 2002 and has taken just eleven months to pass from an empty building to the first production tests. It will be manned by a permanent Jaguar Racing staff of ten people and will act as a satellite testing facility to the core aerodynamics department at the Milton Keynes HQ. “We will initially be using the windtunnel for 16 hours a day, six days a week, moving to a 24 hour a day operation in the very near future,” said Steiner.

3/27/02

PWR does well in Homestead  PWR Championship Racing completed two days of testing at Homestead Motorsports Complex today, with teammates Scott Dixon and Oriol Servia each making progress on the 1.502-mile oval. This was the first time the PWR crew tested the Lola on an oval, which enabled the team to gain valuable knowledge in preparation for the upcoming race at Motegi. Overall the test was productive. However, Tuesday brought limited running time for the PWR team as Dixon completed only ten laps in the morning before having gearbox problems. The crew was able to make the necessary changes and Dixon, in his #7 Toyota Lola, went back on the oval completing 53 laps with a quick time of 27.2. "Day one of the test was not so good," said Dixon. "We battled with gearbox problems and my on-track time was very limited. I only completed about seven laps in the morning before the gearbox went out, but we were able to fix it and get back out on track in the afternoon. Even with the little amount of laps I completed we were able to gather quality information, which is always beneficial. " PWR made substantial progress on day two of the test focusing on understanding the Lola and how it responds on an oval. Servia, in his #17 Toyota Lola, completed 165 laps with a quick time of 27.0. "I'm very happy with our test today," said Servia. "We completed a full day of testing without any problems. We concentrated on our set-ups for Motegi and I think we're really going to have a good car for that race. This was a very important test because it was the first time we tested the Lola on an oval. We tested so many things and gained a lot of knowledge, which we will apply to the race in Japan next month."

3/27/02

Cristiano da Matta completes first oval test in 2002  Havoline driver Cristiano da Matta got back behind the wheel of his Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone for the first time since winning his third consecutive CART FedEx Championship Series race at the 2002 season-opener in Monterrey, Mexico for his first test on an oval track. Fresh from a week of relaxation and physical training at his home in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, da Matta completed a two-day test today at the 1.5-mile Miami-Homestead oval track, located a mere 45 minutes from his U.S. base of Miami.  Story

3/27/02

Tagliani very fast in Homestead  Testing on an oval for the first time this year, Team Player's and driver Alex Tagliani set a pace as torrid as the 47° C (118°F) track temperature on the Homestead surface on Wednesday in completing a successful two-day session. Tagliani clocked a fast lap of 26.3 seconds - the top speed of the day under those track conditions (compared to Franchitti's 27.0 sec.).  Story

3/27/02

Crisis behind green doors  We thought you might find this article by Andrew Maitland rather interesting.  It talks about the crisis at Jaguar F1 under Niki Lauda's leadership.  For all the money Ford is pouring into their losing Formula One effort, they could have the supplied the whole CART field with engines for years.

3/27/02

Franchitti wraps up oval test with Reynard  [Editors Note - Dario's teammate, Michael Andretti, was in the new Lola for two days.  We await feedback on how that test went] Dario Franchitti and Team KOOL Green finished their final oval test of 2002 on Tuesday, March 26 at the 1.5-mile Homestead Miami Speedway. Franchitti completed 172 trouble free miles posting an unofficial best time of 27.0 seconds. Joining Team KOOL Green at the test were Dario's technical partner Michael Andretti, as well as Champ Car drivers Cristiano da Matta, Jimmy Vasser, Alex Tagliani and Kenny Brack. Team KOOL Green concentrated on finding a good balance for the #27 Honda-Reynard-Bridgestone to use as a baseline race setup for the ovals. The test was originally scheduled for two days, but wrapped up early as Franchitti found the car to his liking. "The test went really well and I'm happy with where we finished," said Franchitti. "We weren't the fastest car out there but that wasn't our objective, we were here to work on a race setup and I think we are in good shape. It was good to work with Allen (McDonald race engineer) for the first time on an oval, we got a lot of stuff done. Team KOOL Green worked hard and we accomplished so much, we were able to finish early." Team Manager Kyle Moyer saw good results during the test and is happy with the setup the team finished with. "We had a flawless test," said Moyer. "Dario and Allen found a good balance for the KOOL car and we accomplished all of our goals. Now Team KOOL Green will focus on getting the car ready for Long Beach." The #27 Team KOOL Green crew now head back to Indianapolis to finalize preparations for Round 2 of the CART FedEx Championship Series in Long Beach, California on April 14.  TKG.

3/27/02

CART sues Joe Heitzler   This article in the Detroit News, talks about a federal lawsuit, filed by Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc. that accuses its former president, Joseph F. Heitzler, of fraud by committing the open-wheel racing league to a series of pricey contracts without approval from its board of directors.  The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by Troy-based CART in U.S. District Court in Detroit, claims the contracts and other unauthorized expenses total more than $500,000. Hired on an interim basis in December 2000, Heitzler also crossed CART's board of directors by hiring new employees without the board's approval, the lawsuit says. "Indeed, Heitzler continued to do so after questions by the Board and by written instruction to the contrary by the chairman of the Compensation Committee," the lawsuit says. Heitzler attempted to secure his own job on a long-term basis by "interfering in CART's contractual arrangements," the lawsuit says.

3/27/02

Trans-Am adds pit stops  The Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup, North America’s longest-running road racing series, has announced several competition-related rules changes for its 2002 season, the most significant of which will likely make pit stops an essential part of the competition. The series has mandated a reduction in the size of fuel cells for all Trans-Am entries, from 32 to 24 gallons. The new rule is expected to promote more pit stops for fuel, even as most Trans-Am events are expected to follow the customary 100-mile race format. “We feel that the addition of pit stops to our events will bring another exciting dimension to Trans-Am competition,” says Trans-Am Series president Dennis Huth. “Pit crews play an integral role in the successes of their teams at all levels of motorsport, and given the Trans-Am Series’ 100-mile, sprint-race format, the precious fractions of a second a team can save with an efficient pit performance can literally mean the difference between victory and second place.” The series has also simplified its pit stop rules, so that fuel stops will now be permitted anytime, including during caution periods. A maximum of two tires will be allowed to be changed during any pit stop, including those for fuel, and in the interest of promoting pit lane safety, air jacks will be permissible on all 2002 Trans-Am entries. Trans-Am

3/27/02

Haas Carter Motorsports shuts doors   Haas Carter Motorsports has ceased its Winston Cup operation. The team made the announcement in a statement released today. The team fielded the No. 26 Ford Taurus for Joe Nemechek and No. 66 Ford Taurus for Todd Bodine. Kmart sponsored both cars for the first two races of 2002 before ending its sponsorship as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The team has been unable to secure sponsorship for the two cars since Kmart's departure. "Kmart Corporation has been a great team sponsor since Haas Carter Motorsports first entered the Winston Cup Series and we wish them well in their restructuring efforts," said the statement.  Haas Carter

3/27/02

Want to be a CART pit crew member for a day?   During the Fox Sports Radio AM1150 Remote at the Simple Green /Ace LBGP promotion Simple Green will give away the following....A lucky person will win a "Pit Crew Member For A Day" with Townsend Bell's crew from Patrick Racing during the LBGP. Also up for grabs is "Win a Simple Green Safety Team Member For A Day" during the LBGP. This promotion will be held Thursday, April 11th from 4:00 - 6:00 PM at Ace Hardware in Huntington Beach at 9045 Adams Blvd. The Simple green Safety team, Townsend Bell, and the Simple Green Girls will be on hand with plenty of giveaways!  Hope you can be there for it...the Simple Green Girls would love to meet you!

3/27/02

Senna's Williams returned  According to a report in Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell, The Williams FW16B Ayrton Senna drove the day he died at the 1994 San Marino GP in Imola, Italy has been released by the Italian authorities and returned to Williams on Thursday March 14th. The car was collected from the Bologna Police Station in Italy, where it has been stored since the incident. (Related article: Senna and Earnhardt - Rest in Peace by Steve Dean)


Photos by Anton Want/Getty Images

3/27/02

American team invited to Le Mans  The Riley and Scott prototype was invited to the 2002 Lemans 24 Hueres and will be wearing the #4 as it was the 4th car to be invited behind the 3 factory Audis.  The European press went crazy at the fact that the Riley and Scott prototype spoiled the all Michelin podium (that's correct they were riding on Goodyear's because Michelin won't sell them tires) at Sebring.  Our hats off to the fact that Riley and Scott competes at the highest level of sports car racing with 1/100th the budget of Audi.

3/27/02

Herbert joins elite company  Being part of the winning team in the recent 50th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Dodge put driver Johnny Herbert into an elite group. England's Herbert became only the ninth driver to achieve the "triple" of at least one Formula One World Championship win, a win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a win in Sebring's 12-hour event. The first driver to achieve the triple was the late 1958 World Champion Mike Hawthorn, who won his first F1 race in 1953 at Reims, then won at both Sebring and Le Mans in 1955.  Other members of the club include Phil Hill, Ludovico Scarfiotti, Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney, Jacky Ickx, Jochen Mass and Michele Alboreto. Alboreto's win at Sebring in 2001, his last before his untimely death last April, allowed him to complete the triple. Seven other Sebring winners have at least one F1 win but no win at Le Mans. ALMS

3/27/02

Milka Duno to be featured on Univision  Milka Duno, the only woman racing fulltime on the American Le Mans Series this season, will be featured on the Univision Television Network on April 2. Duno will be featured on the popular "Aqui y Ahora" program on the Spanish speaking network. The program airs at 10 p.m. (Eastern) on all Univision affiliates around the United States. Duno conducted interviews for the segment when she stopped in Miami recently on a promotional swing for the Oct. 5 Grand Prix of the Americas on the Miami Downtown Street Circuit. Duno, from Venezuela, is running the full ALMS schedule this season for the MBD Sportscar team in Panoz LMP07-Mugen cars in the LMP 900 class. She was part of the winning team in four ALMS races last year when she drove for Dick Barbour Racing in the LMP 675 class. ALMS

3/27/02

Sebring highlights to be shown  The SPEED Channel will broadcast a two-hour highlights program from the March 16 running of the 50th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Dodge on Saturday, March 30, at 2 p.m. (Eastern). SPEED Channel showed the entire Sebring event live. ALMS

3/27/02

Italy bridge design based on F1 wings  This Chicago Tribune article about a planned bridge to connect Sicily and Italy, talks (about a third of the way down) about some of the engineering obstacles and how one problem was solved: High winds--up to 100 m.p.h.--posed the greatest technical challenge for the engineers. A solution was inspired by Formula One auto racing. "We designed a new deck profile based on the airfoils on the Formula One cars. The stronger the wind, the more it pushes down on the deck and reduces oscillation," said Bucci. The bridge is designed to withstand winds up to 130 m.p.h. Interesting use of a spin-off technology.

3/27/02

Atlantics: Scuadra Fortia team tests at Buttonwillow  The Scuadra Fortia team and drivers Eduardo Figueroa and Waldemar Coronas started a three-day testing session on Tuesday, at the 1.3-mile circuit of Buttonwillow, California, in preparation for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Round 2 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Series. Waldemar Coronas, #88 Scuadra Fortia: "This was a productive session. We did many changes to the car, working on different heights, tire pressures and cambers. On Friday, we are going to use the information acquired this Tuesday and Wednesday to get a good balance, in preparation for the race at Long Beach. This Tuesday I ran 110 laps and my best time was 58.81 seconds." Eduardo Figueroa, #86 Scuadra Fortia: "Today (Tuesday) we did not have enough track-time due to problems with the EFI acquisition system. However, in the afternoon I was able to run a little bit to develop my driving style with the help of former CART driver Alex Barron. Also, he is helping me to set up my car and we've got some valuable information regarding the behavior of the car. We will resume our three-day testing session this Wednesday and we won't test on Thursday, but we will continue testing on Friday." Allen Berg, owner of Scuadra Fortia: "With Waldemar (Coronas) we had a productive session, trying a whole list of changes working with the driver's feedback and the acquisition system, with Eduardo (Figueroa) we did not get enough track-time due to a problem with the EFI acquisition system."

3/27/02

Brack to perform in Long Beach on Thursday  CART Champ Car driver Kenny Brack of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and local blues band "Cat Blues" will be playing at Blue Café, 210 The Promenade, Long Beach - just north of Broadway at Pine Avenue on The Promenade on March 28th. Kenny will be there for a media conference as a prelude to the upcoming Toyota GP of Long Beach and then will perform with Cat Blues starting at around 6:15 PM. Fans are welcome to attend at 6:15 PM to cheer Kenny on as he plays his guitar.  MC

3/27/02

Shell moves closer to China deal  It was just reported in China that CART Rahal Team sponsor Royal Dutch/Shell has signed a deal to launch a $200 million retail joint venture in China, a major step to it becoming a key player in the mainland's retail service-station market.  Mark that down as another sponsor who would like CART to race in Shanghai......a perfect tie-in as they launch new service stations in China.  MC

3/27/02

Team Green renews 100 Black men deal Team KOOL Green (TKG) and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation announced today that they have agreed to once again combine their efforts during the 2002 race season, and, following a successful launch to their partnership in 2001, will work to raise funds for the 100 Black Men of America that will help increase access to computers, technology and training in urban communities. Team KOOL Green, owned by Barry Green, is a highly successful racecar team participating in Championship Automobile Racing Teams (CART) Champ Car series, an international motor racing series that hosts events across the United States and in six countries. "We value Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation as an important partner," said Bill Simms, National President of the 100 Black Men of America. "Last year through our association with the company a total of $224,470.31 was contributed to the 100 Black Men's urban technology program. The amount was based on performances by Team KOOL Green and through the KOOL All-Access Hip Hop Tour. With the funding, we were able to initiate cyber centers that offer computer and technology training. Additionally, we placed computers in homes across the country. We also established the 100 Black Men University, an online, affordable learning center that provides low cost courses to adults in urban communities."  A total of $304,000 is available for this season. A maximum of $14,000 per race will be awarded for pit stop performances, while TKG will add an additional $10,000 to the donation amount for race wins, $20,000 for 1-2 race finishes by drivers Tracy and Franchitti, and $100,000 should either driver win the CART Championship. The funds will be used by 100 Black Men of America to continue their efforts in urban centers in connecting young adults with new information and communication tools, including access to the Internet, new computer technology, and skills training. Last season the 100 ordered 465 computers to distribute to their various chapters..  TKG

3/26/02

Gentilozzi to run new XKR body  Three-time Trans-Am champion Paul Gentilozzi will again campaign a Jaguar XKR for the third consecutive year during the 2002 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup. Gentilozzi will debut the updated, new style XKR body work at the Series season-opener during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. Gentilozzi reintroduced Jaguar to Trans-Am competition during in the 2000 season. In 2001, Gentilozzi drove to his third Trans-Am title and delivered the coveted Manufacturers’ Championship to Jaguar with his flag-to-flag Mid-Ohio win. Jaguar captured its last Trans-Am Manufacturers’ title in 1978 and a Jaguar product hadn’t competed in the Series since 1981. “It’s quite unusual for us to compete in the same marque for so many years,” said Gentilozzi, who scored four wins in 2001 and won this year’s Rolex 24 of Daytona – GTS Class. “But we’ve finally found a home that makes good sense on the race track and on the business side. “Johnson Controls, our marketing partner, is a supplier to the Premier Automotive Group and Jaguar in particular,” Gentilozzi continued, who ranks first in all-time Trans-Am top-three (55), top-five (86), and top-ten finishes (114). “With the recent management changes at Jaguar we’ve now got Sue Callaway as Vice-President and General Manager. She has a wonderful grasp of motorsports in the United States; she gets it. Campaigning the XKR in Trans-Am supplies a great grass roots relationship that hasn’t existed here in a long time.” According to Gentilozzi, the development of the new XKR body has been an ongoing process. “We’ve been working on this for quite some time,” said Gentilozzi, who has 23 Trans-Am wins to his credit. “The Panoz/Sanchez Group had a new vision when they took over the Series. They reinvented the look of the Trans-Am car, after we had a body style we really liked. But the 2002 XKR body more closely follows the styling cues of the production car. The ‘add-on’ aerodynamics are standard today in internationally recognized series like DTM. Trans-Am

3/26/02

Team Green completes final road course test  Team KOOL Green and driver Paul Tracy completed their final road course test on Monday, March 25, at Arizona's Firebird International Raceway. Tracy posted a best time of 47.9 seconds while running 196 trouble-free miles around the 1.2-mile track. Team KOOL Green worked on improving both the mechanical and aerodynamic grip of the #26 Honda-Reynard-Bridgestone. The team saw improvements from their adjustments as they completed back-to-back runs and continued their work with Honda to fine-tune the new traction control system. "We were able to turn a lot miles in the KOOL car," said Tracy. "Honda continued to improve the traction control system and Steve (Challis, race engineer) made some adjustments to the car which seemed to work well. We had a good car for the race in Monterrey, Mexico but we didn't get the result we wanted and looking ahead to Long Beach we should be able to run up front." Team KOOL Green Team Manager Kyle Moyer oversaw the test and is pleased with Tracy's performance throughout the winter. "Paul has done a great job in testing this year," said Moyer. "He has worked really hard with Honda to help develop the traction control and he is able to tell the engineers how the car responds to the changes. We've learned a lot with our testing program and I hope it will show during the season." The #26 Team KOOL Green crew heads back to Indianapolis to finalize preparations for Round 2 of the CART FedEx Championship Series in Long Beach, California on April 14. Today, Dario Franchitti and the #27 team begin two days of oval testing (March 26-27) at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

3/26/02

Justin Bell returns  Justin Bell, the 2001 Trans-Am Series Rookie of the Year, will return in the #40 Derhaag Motorsports Corvette for the 2002 Trans-Am season. During his first year, Bell gave notice that he was there to stay and win. He posted four late-season podium finishes, including back-to-back wins at Laguna Seca and Houston. The 2002 Trans-Am Series begins April 14th at the Long Beach Grand Prix. “Continuity is the key,” stated Justin about his successful relationship with Derhaag Motorsports. “Over the winter, Jim has encouraged some changes in the structure of the team that I feel will make us even more competitive in 2002. The exciting thing for me is that heading into this season, there is less fear of the unknown. I know the drivers, some of the tracks, but more important than that, I am confident in my own ability to perform.” Justin Bell signed on in 2001 with Derhaag Motorsports after a successful run in GT endurance Racing. Before bringing his talents to the Trans-Am Series, Justin Bell had already established himself as a proven winner. Bell was the 1997 FIA GT2 Champion, 1998 GT2 class winner at Le Mans and a 2000 factory Corvette Racing Team driver. In 1995, he shared the Le Mans podium with his World Champion father, Derek. Team owner Jim Derhaag is equally pleased with the team’s future with Bell and is very optimistic about the season. “We’re baaa-aaack,” quipped Jim. “We are positioned to pick up where we left off in 2001. Justin is now used to the car, the team and the series. But it’s our relationship with Justin that makes it all work. Justin is the consummate professional. With him, it’s all about what needs to be done on the car to achieve success on the track. ”  Trans-Am

3/26/02

ISC admits they favor IRL  A representative of IMS/ISC finally admits they are putting more effort into IRL than the CART race at MIS. Check out the last two paragraphs and lines of this article on SPEEDTV.com. Maybe it's our imagination, but when someone say's "we are putting a lot more effort..." And Cranking up the marketing effort earlier in the season,  it tells us exactly what we knew before and fuels the Conspiracy Theorists out there.

3/26/02

IRL TV ratings show big drop  Not only was the IRL race at Fontana a bust at the box office, their TV ratings continued their downward trend.  The first race at Homestead garnered a 1.4 rating on ABC. The 2nd race at Phoenix dropped to a 1.2 rating on ABC.  Fontana's rating dropped to a 0.49 rating in just 420,000 households.  Why the big drop this past weekend?  As we said, the ratings will generally trend downward after the first race.  However, Fontana was on cable, not Network TV, hence the steep plunge.  This rating is comparable to CART's TV rating on SPEED Channel, which reaches fewer homes than ESPN, but is gaining rapidly.

3/26/02

Buhl released from Hospital  Robbie Buhl was released from Loma Linda University Medical Center Monday, March 25, said Dr. Henry Bock, director of medical services for the Indy Racing League. Dr. Bock will have to examine Buhl before he will be cleared to drive, but Bock expects Buhl will compete in the Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway April 21, the next event on the Indy Racing League schedule. Buhl, who drives the No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone, was admitted to the Loma Linda, Calif., hospital Saturday, March 23, after sustaining a concussion in an accident during MBNA Pole Qualifying for the Yamaha Indy 400 at California Speedway.  IRL

3/26/02

Delphi, Ford and CART team to improve safety  The 2002 Championship Auto Racing Team (CART) FedEx Championship Series is underway and so is the beginning of a new safety research program conducted by Delphi (an IRL sponsor), Ford and CART to help bring higher levels of safety to the sport of racing. The core of the safety program is Delphi's Accident Data Recorder 2 (ADR 2), which will be on all CART racecars this season.  Full story

3/26/02

Did Ganassi sell CART stock to pay for IRL team?  As you can see from this web page, Chip Ganassi sold another 100,000 shares of CART stock on February 15, 2002.  Some people wonder where Chip got the money to field his IRL team, perhaps this was it. The timing was about right, just before the start of the IRL season.  100,000 shares x $15/share = $1.5 million.  Add to that the IRL incentive program and you might be able to run a bare bones IRL effort, but that certainly would not be enough to field a winning effort unless you received supplemental income from another source, such as Tony George.  Chip hardly has any shares remaining as far as we know, perhaps none. We don't know for sure what he used the money for, but at $1.5 million, we would guess it wasn't to refurbish his bathroom.

3/26/02

Dover Downs names St. Pete General manager  The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, Inc. named Thomas F. Begley General Manager for the new Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (GPSP), slated to run Feb. 21-23, 2003, on the downtown streets of the beautiful central Florida city. Begley, who will begin his duties immediately, will be given the responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the event and will supervise the GPSP staff. He will also be the chairman for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg charitable foundation which is being established to raise funds for distribution to local charities. “We are delighted to be able to retain the services of such an experienced man as Tom Begley,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “Not only does he have a wealth of knowledge about motor racing but his status in the community will be a valuable asset. Tom assures us a strong year-round presence in the St. Petersburg/Tampa area." The 2003 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will run as the season opener for the CART FedEx Championship Series. The race will occur on the weekend after the running of the Daytona 500 on a 1.78-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit that encompasses the Bayfront Center, Bay Shore Drive and part of the Albert Whitted Airport. As President and CEO of Thomas Begley & Associates, a firm specializing in sports marketing, sales, promotion and consulting, Begley brings a wealth of motorsports experience to the Grand Prix. He brought auto racing to the St. Petersburg streets once before with the Florida Grand Prix of St. Petersburg from 1994-97. Begley has also been involved with sponsorship acquisition, implementation and management for Indy Car/NASCAR driver Davy Jones, the A.J. Foyt, Jr. Indy Car Race Team, SCCA Pro Driver Bill Cooper and the Bondurant High Performance Driving School. He represented Spice USA, Inc. in securing corporate sponsorship for its IMSA GTP race team. Begley has worked in St. Petersburg/Tampa market for 11 years. “I am excited about being on the team bringing the CART FedEx Championship to our market,” said Begley. “This reality is the culmination of years of effort to bring the premier U.S. open-wheel racing series to the streets of St. Petersburg. We expect to conduct a spectacular special event for our corporate sponsors and the many thousands of motorsports fans in Florida.”  Dover Downs

3/26/02

USGP ticket sales soft  According to Brock Yates latest article on SPEEDTV.com, USGP advance ticket sales are way off this year.  Yates indicates that this is another measure of how NASCAR has connected with the American race fans and their general malaise with open wheel racing.  Meanwhile the rest of the world loves open wheel racing (Mexico, Canada and rest of world) and further underscores why CART's future must include the USA plus non-USA venues to ensure its future.

3/26/02

A lap around Interlagos Renault F1 driver Jenson Button takes us on a lap around the Interlagos Brazil circuit, site of this weekends Brazilian GP.  More...

3/26/02

Vodafone to sponsor Italian GP  Vodafone has signed a one-year deal to be the sponsor of the 2002 Italian GP at Monza. This year marked Vodafone’s entry into Formula One sponsorship, giving some $50 million a year to Ferrari. Some people think Vodafone will replace Marlboro when the tobacco ban is enforced after 2006.

3/26/02

Mo Nunn to run da Matta in Indy 500? 2nd UPDATE With da Matta and we presume Christian Fittipaldi not available, and with Hollywood being a Brazilian cigarette brand, we look for Brazilians Roberto Moreno, or Hoover Orsi to get the call.  3/25/02 - The Newman Haas team assures us da Matta will not run in this years Indy 500 for anyone.  3/25/02 -  According to this Indy Star article, CART and IRL team owner Morris Nunn confirmed Sunday that Hollywood, his Brazilian cigarette sponsor, wants to have him run three drivers in the Indianapolis 500. Nunn has already committed to Brazilians Felipe Giaffone and Tony Kanaan. The third would be Brazilian Cristiano da Matta, who would have to be released by his CART car owner, Carl Haas.  We can hear Carl's response now - "well you know Mo, I really would like to help you out, but I can't remember the last time you ordered a Lola from me.  Maybe we can work out a deal...."

3/25/02

ALMS mimics NASCAR and IRL incentive programs  The new Competition Incentive Plan (CIP) administered by IMSA on the American Le Mans Series has attracted 20 racing teams to commit 29 cars for the full season on the sports car endurance racing series, officials have announced. Several other teams are expected to commit to the program within the next week. The 29 cars committed so far to compete in all 10 events on the series include 14 Prototypes (eight LMP 900 and six LMP 675), seven GTS cars and eight from the GT class. "We are very pleased with the response to the CIP from such a diverse group of sports car racing teams," said Dennis Huth, President of IMSA. "A program of this nature has never been done in the modern era of sports car racing and it gives an advance peek to our event promoters and fans of the top teams and drivers they can expect at all events. "These 29 cars, and the others that were just invited and we expect to join the CIP, will represent the core field of cars that have contractually stated to us that they can be expected at every race," Huth said. "But as we saw with a record number of entries recently at Sebring, there are many more sports car racing teams out there that are interested in competing in American Le Mans Series races this season." The CIP was created to financially reward teams that commit to running all 10 races of the series and is open to qualified privateer and factory teams. Participating teams sign agreements stating that they will compete in all events. For contesting the series, the team receives cash rewards after every event that are not part of the regular race payoff, provided that it enters the event, qualifies and attempts to compete.

3/25/02

Formula Barber Dodge: Montoya driver Jorge back on top   This kid is good.  Keep your eye on him.  Brazilian driver Jonatan Jorge (PITBULL Energy Drink/Montoya Racing/Edgewater/TL Racing) recaptured the lead of the Formula Barber Dodge Southern Conference, this past Sunday, in Sebring, FL. The set up of the track was modified from its standard version, being both shorter and more selective. Racing in Group II, Jorge scored the pole and was impeccable during the race, allowing no chances to Matt Franc, who at the time led the Championship's point standings. On Saturday, both Jorge and Franc, along with Can Artam, engaged in a thrilling race as they traded positions intermittently during the race. Jorge finished in 1st, with Artam in 2nd and Franc in 3rd. On Sunday, Jorge - again on the pole - did not forcefully block Franc's overtaking during the 3rd lap, but instead managed his distance and took back the lead five laps from the end, comfortably finishing the race in first place. "This was an excellent week. The support received from PITBULL Energy Drink came at the right time. I was able to practice more than ever, which allowed me to become even more acquainted with the car. The track was very suitable to my style and today (Sunday) I was so confident in my performance that I avoided getting into a harsh confrontation with Matt Franc. I tried to drive so to induce Matt to make a mistake, but he is very experienced. I chose to pass him five laps from the end because I felt I was faster than him in the low-speed portion of the circuit. Being on the lead of the championship again is a great feeling, and it is tough to put into words how happy I am," said Jorge. Besides the two race wins, Jonatan Jorge also set a new track record for the legendary Sebring circuit, with a lap time of 1:15.714" seconds. The final round of the Championship will take place in Daytona, in April.

3/25/02

NASCAR hands down fines after Bristol  NASCAR officials announced Monday they have penalized NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers Robby Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for intentionally running into each other's car during the cool-down lap of the Food City 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday. Gordon, driver of the No. 31 NASCAR Winston Cup Series team, was fined $10,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Aug. 28th. Earnhardt Jr. was fined $5,000. Both drivers were penalized under Section 12-4-A in the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series rule book: "...actions deemed by NASCAR Officials as detrimental to stock car racing..." A penalty was also levied against driver Kevin Harvick for his actions in the pits following Saturday's Channellock 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Harvick, driver of the No. 29 NASCAR Busch Series team, was fined $15,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Aug. 28th. He was penalized under Section 12-4-A in the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series rule book: "...actions deemed by NASCAR Officials as detrimental to stock car racing..."

3/25/02

Busy week for Team Rahal  CART franchise member Team Rahal wrapped up a busy week of in-season testing which saw Michel Jourdain Jr. and the Gigante team testing at Sebring International Raceway and Jimmy Vasser and the Miller Lite Indianapolis 500 team enter the Indy Racing League race at California Speedway.  More..

3/25/02

LA Times rips into IRL  In this LA Times article, staff writer Mike Kupper says the IRL series has major flaws as the crowds dwindle.  He also chastises CART and the sport of Indy Car racing for this ludicrous split that was created in 1996.  The question he has is how do you put it back together now?  We think the solution lies in this article for anyone willing to listen, whereby we suggest a holding company be formed that will own CART, Inc a publicly traded company, and IRL, Inc, a private company - two divisions, ovals and road courses - two champions and a triple crown playoff.  MC

3/25/02

Horsepower wins in the IRL  Our hats off to the Panther Racing team.  The Chevy engine in back of Sam Hornish, built by Speedway Engines in Indy, is quite potent, and have helped propel him to many wins.  On Sunday in Fontana once again Hornish bolted out to the lead (this time from the second row) making those around him look like they were standing still.  Because IRL engines are not leased, teams can pay engine builders to develop special engines just for their team to gain an advantage.  With CART's lease arrangements, a Honda is a Honda is a Honda.  Most drivers, including the Penske boys and their Ilmor built Chevy's, said they were flat out all day on Sunday, but that Hornish and Lazier had just too much HP.  And because at most IRL races it's 100% the entire race, having that little bit extra HP usually wins the day.  Vasser was using a John Menard engine.  Anyone care to bet that his Menard engine didn't have all the track pieces that Lazier had?  Now all the teams have to pay for special development on engines for their team if they want any chance to win......which drives up the cost of competing.  As always

3/25/02

Major attendance cover-up? No 2 for 1 ticket deal, no attendance  UPDATE This race was announced on October 4, 2001, so the IRL did not have as much time as they would have liked to promote this event.  More importantly, they did not have time to include it in the season ticket package with Winston Cup, which artificially boosts the attendance number.  However, this eventually comes back to bite you in lost revenue if an event can't stand on its own. BTW, even the Indy Star, arguably the staunchest IRL supporter, reported no more than 15,000 fans in attendance, which is about average for an IRL race where attendance is not bolstered by NASCAR/IRL  2 for 1 deals. CART street and road races stand on their own and draw huge attendance, which of course can't go unnoticed by promoters.  3/25/02 - A reader calls from Fontana - Dear AutoRacing1, "I am here at Fontana and if they sold 35,000 tickets for this IRL race as the Speedway reported, then 25,000 were no-shows.  There are no more than 10,000 people here and I am being generous.  This has got to either be the biggest lie I ever have seen in all of motorsports, or they sold 35,000 tickets to sponsors who bought blocks, but they couldn't give them away.  The only time the IRL gets a good attendance is when they give tickets away as part of a NASCAR 2 for 1 package."   Mordachi Rosen, LA, California [Editor's note: ABC/ESPN must be in on the cover-up too, because they did an excellent job of not showing any head-on grandstand shots.  It's time the truth be told, Beating a Dead Horse, Where's my Fork?]

3/25/02

F1 success helps to drive Ferrari car sales  Driven by success in motorsports, Ferrari president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo told his board of directors on Friday that "the commercial sector of their business, "had a record-breaking year with the delivery of 6,158 Ferrari and Maserati models to the final clients, and this in a year where the global economy was down." The report says, 4,289 cars were Ferraris, 1,185 (over 25% sold in the US), and 1,869 were Maseratis. The Maserati brand has not yet been re-launched in the US, which the company hopes to do around a CART/IRL effort. Interestingly, in places where Ferrari races, sales were up - U.S. (+7%), Germany (+7%), U.K. (+15%), Australia (+17%), Italy (+14%), Austria (+42%) and Canada (+20), underscoring the old adage - win on Sunday, sell on Monday.

3/25/02

Ralf fined for road accident  Ralf Schumacher has been fined 10,000 Euros for his part in a multiple car pile-up that took place in Cologne, Germany last year. He was driving a BMW 7-Series when he was involved in the accident in wet conditions. He drove into the back of another car, causing a chain reaction involving three more cars.  Soon thereafter he started to wear eyeglasses.

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