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DATE

News (chronologically)

2/5/03

Wednesday test times from Sebring  

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Oriol Servia Patrick Racing 50.940s
2 Sebastien Bourdais Newman/Haas 50.975s
3 Bruno Junqueira Newman/Haas 51.045s
4 Jimmy Vasser American Spirit Team Johansson 51.353s
5 Alex Tagliani Rocketsports 51.434s
6 Michel Jourdain Jr Team Rahal 51.469
7 Roberto Moreno Herdez Competition 51.644s
8 Patrick Carpentier Forsythe Racing 51.724s
9 Paul Tracy Forsythe Racing 51.737s
10 Adrian Fernandez Fernandez Racing 51.778s
11 Mario Dominguez Herdez Competition 51.888s
12 Ryan Hunter-Reay American Spirit Team Johansson 51.956s
13 Darren Manning Walker Racing 52.075s
14 Mario Haberfeld Conquest Racing 52.404s
15 Rodolfo Lavin Walker Racing 52.577s
16 Joel Camathias Dale Coyne Racing 52.632s
17 Roberto Gonzalez Dale Coyne Racing 53.131s
18 Patrick Lemarie PK Racing 53.444s

2/5/03

Rahal to appear at karting expo   Racing luminary and Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow principal Bobby Rahal will be attending the Kart Expo International February 22-23 at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois just outside of Chicago.  “My partners and I are committed to getting the word out on the Stars of Tomorrow,” said Rahal. “We are putting a program together that will benefit the professional kart racer and aspiring open wheel drivers for years to come and I am pleased to be able to spread that message at the Kart Expo. It is one of the biggest events of the year and one Stars is proud to attend.” Rahal will be at the Stars of Tomorrow booth in the expo center on Saturday the 22nd and will also participate in the Stars open forum session starting at 1pm in Skybox 3-4 at the center.

2/5/03

Brett Bodine' wife charged  The wife of NASCAR driver Brett Bodine was charged with making harassing phone calls and threatening a woman she suspected was involved with her husband. Diane Bodine surrendered to authorities Tuesday and was released on $6,500 bond. Her lawyer said she denies all the charges. Police said she was calling a Loganville woman, a corporate employee of the restaurant chain Hooters of America, one of Brett Bodine's NASCAR sponsors. Her name was not released.

2/5/03

Concrete pit boxes for Richmond  With its latest expansion project moving along on schedule, officials at Richmond International Raceway have added one more upgrade to their list of things to do: they are converting the pit stalls from asphalt to concrete. The change is mostly being made to accommodate the wishes of Indy Racing League teams. The IRL races at Richmond at the end of June, and expressed fears that the pinpoint jacks used by IRL pit crews could damage the blacktop in intense heat. NASCAR crews use larger jacks less likely to damage the pit surface. The pit stall work is just one of many projects under way at the track, which is adding about 3,000 seats and building a new press box with elevator access in the first and second turns. The work should be complete when the track opens for its first weekend of NASCAR Busch and Winston Cup racing May 1, track president Doug Fritz said. The expansion will push Richmond's seating capacity to about 105,000, and Fritz said Henrico County has given clearance for an additional 45,000 seats to be added. He said a study of demand for tickets will dictate when, or if, the track chooses to expand again.  AP Story

2/5/03

Changes to The Winston   NASCAR and R.J. Reynolds officials on Wednesday confirmed changes to the format of the 2003 Winston all-star race, including a record $1 million payoff for the winner. The race, scheduled for May 17 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, NC, features race winners from the 2002 and 2003 seasons as well as past winners of the event. Then-rookie Ryan Newman won the 2002 Winston and its then-record $750,000 purse. The race, entering its 19th season, has been hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway since 1987. The Winston will continue to be run in three segments for a total of 90 laps. However, several changes have been in those segments and to The Winston Open, a race among drivers not already qualified for The Winston. Among the changes:

  • The first segment will consist of 40 laps, during which teams must make a mandatory green-flag, four-tire pit stop. If there's a late-segment caution, efforts will be made by NASCAR to ensure a green-flag finish. The top-20 finishers advance to the next segment.

  • Following a 10-minute break, during which teams may work on their cars without losing track position, the second segment of 30 laps will be held. Only the top-14 finishers will advance to the third segment.

  • Following another 10-minute break, the final segment of 20 laps will take place. The starting order will be inverted from positions three through 10 following a random selection process during the break. Only green-flag laps will count toward the total.

  • The winner of the final segments receives $1 million. The winner of the first two segments - as well as the pole winner - receives $50,000.

  • The Winston Open, which included opportunities for two drivers to advance to The Winston the last two years, will return to one race in 2003. However, the race will consist of two segments - of 20 and 10 laps - and only the top-14 finishers from the first will advance to the second. Only green-flag laps will count in the final segment and only the winner will advance to The Winston. The Winston weekend will also feature the debut of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series at Lowe's Motor Speedway, with the inaugural Hardee's 200 set for May 16

2/5/03

No Chicago race for 2003   We have been reporting this for a long time, but surprisingly other publications seemed to think Chicago might happen this year.  This Chicago-area Daily Southtown article says that Championship Auto Racing Teams will not hold a race in the Chicago area this year, either at Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero or on the streets surrounding Grant Park. Two sources, one at CART's headquarters in Indianapolis, confirmed Tuesday the open-wheel racing organization's race this year, still listed as tentative on the CART schedule for May 18, will not be held. CART is hoping to return to Chicago in 2004. Merrill Cain, CART's senior manager of public relations, didn't deny that the Cicero track, opened to great fanfare in 1999, was out, but wasn't ready to say a race downtown would not be held this May. "We've looked at all our options in Chicago," Cain said from Sebring, Fla., where teams from the CART series are practicing this week. "We don't have a drop-dead date." That may be because one isn't needed. It's logistically impossible for CART to race downtown. With construction ongoing on Columbus Drive, the thoroughfare is unavailable for either racing or street traffic. Closing down Lake Shore Drive for a race weekend and the time it takes to install and remove barriers and catch fences would be impossible, with Columbus already out of service. What's more, the most likely staging area for an auto race — which requires several acres of paved ground — would be the Soldier Field parking lot, and that's taken up in part by the reconstruction of the stadium. Officials at Chicago Motor Speedway, better known as Sportsman's Park, confirmed Tuesday there would be no racing of any kind there this year. "Nothing," Sportsman's spokesman John Brokopp said. In fact, Sportsman's has been for sale since the National Jockey Club transferred its equine operation to adjacent Hawthorne Race Course. More.....

2/5/03

Servia leads 2nd day at Sebring   Oriol Servia (#20 Visteon Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had never started a Champ Car season with the same team that he had finished the previous campaign with until 2003, but he is making the most of the stability found at Patrick Racing this year as the Spaniard has been fast in early testing. Today, Servia showed the benefits of staying put with the Patrick team that he ran 10 races in 2002, topping an 18-car field during the second day of Champ Car Spring Training at Sebring International Raceway on Wednesday. Servia negotiated the tight road course in a time of 50.940 seconds (117.951mph) to top the time sheets in what was the fastest lap of the two days to date. "It felt very good and the car was pretty quick today, although I still think that Newman/Haas has an advantage on the field," Servia said. "The last time I was with the same team that I finished the last year with, I won the championship in Indy Lights so we're looking forward to having a good year." The Newman/Haas teammates were both among the top-three qualifiers again on Wednesday just as they were on the opening of the three days. Sebastien Bourdais (#2 Newman/Haas Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) put up the second-best lap of the day with an effort of 50.953 seconds (117.920mph), making the rookie the only driver in the field to break into the 50-second range in each of the first two days. He was followed by his stablemate Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who led the second session of the day with a time of 51.045 seconds (117.708mph). Junqueira led what ended up being a warm second session as the heavy cloud cover that blanketed the area during the morning, gave way to sunshine

2/5/03

First photos of Kurt Busch in Champ Car   Check out our Home page for the first photos of NASCAR Winston up driver Kurt Busch in a CART Champ Car - today at Sebring, Florida driving Michel Jourdain's car.  He turned a respectable 54.72 second lap.  He spun on his last lap and called it a day.  He ran more than 20 laps.  For him to turn a lap only 3.5 seconds off fast time today, given it was his first time in a Champ Car, says the guy may have an open wheel future if he wanted it.  More photos to follow later.

2/5/03

Unser Jr's son moves up CART ladder   Albert Unser, son of former CART Champion Al Unser Jr., will be moving up the next step on CART's ladder.  He will drive in the CART Barber Dodge Pro Series this year.  The Barber Dodge Pro Series released its 2003 schedule today, with ten rounds slated for the 18th year of the Official Entry Level Professional Race Series of Champ Car. The schedule reflects the development of the partnership with Champ Car, as the Pro Series will race in support of the Champ Car World Series every race weekend of its season. The Champ Cars had over 2.6 million race attendees during the 2002 season and provide an ideal setting for the young drivers in the Pro Series to show their stuff not only in front of large crowds, but also in front of the decision makers and team owners in Toyota Atlantic and Champ Cars, where all the young drivers aspire to race eventually. The season will open in St. Petersburg, Florida on the weekend of February 21-23 and conclude in Montreal at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the weekend of September 5-7. The Series will once again cover the NAFTA region with a visit to Mexico's Fundidora Park in Monterrey, six dates in the United States, as well as three races in Canada with visits to Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Confirmation of a tenth date slated for the beginning of the summer will be announced shortly. Actual race dates are still to be determined, as some races will be featured on Saturday with other races taking place immediately before the Champ Cars take to the track for battle on Sunday. "We are tremendously pleased to have two new events in St. Petersburg and Monterrey, Mexico and a full schedule supporting the Champ Car World Series highlighting not only the Series' stature in motorsports but also the substantial value it delivers to drivers at the beginning of their careers. No other development series at this level puts its drivers in front of that many fans and decision makers with a real opportunity to demonstrate their talent at a cost that is arguably second to none," says Steve Sewell, VP of Motorsports Development for Skip Barber. Schedule:

February 21-22 St. Petersburg, Florida
March 21-23 Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Mexico
June 13-15 Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif.
June 20-22 Portland International Raceway, Portland, OR
July 4-5 Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland, Ohio
July 11-13 Molson Indy Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
July 25-27 Molson Indy Vancouver, Vancouver, Canada
Aug. 1-3 Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI
Aug. 15-17 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio
Sept. 5-7 Circuit Gilles Villenueve, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

2/5/03
Industry News

Eight to be inducted into motorsports Hall of Fame   Three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Darrell Waltrip, sports car driver and teacher Bob Bondurant, master of midget car racing Mel Kenyon, motorcycle ace Gary Nixon and driver safety pioneer Bill Simpson will lead a class of eight racing legends into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on June 12, 2003. The annual Induction Ceremony will be staged at the historic State Theatre in Detroit. Rounding out the tribute to the class of 2003 will be posthumous induction honors for drag racing engine builder Ed Donovan, hydroplane racer and designer Ted Jones and dirt track sprint car king Tommy Hinnershitz. “The Hall of Fame celebrates outstanding achievement along with motorsports’ contributions to American culture,” says Hall of Fame President Ron Watson. “The inductee class of 2003 represents innovative thinking, concern for education and safety, plus the ultimate in racing skills. What a great group!”

2/5/03

Tracy says CART's future bright   In this Toronto Sun article, It will be a long time before Paul Tracy is ready to step aside in favor of a new group of young drivers in the Champ Car World Series, but he sure likes the ones who have made the jump this season. In the first day of testing for the full field of Champ Cars at Spring Training in Sebring, Fla., the 34-year-old Toronto native said the young drivers have brought a new spark to the former CART series. "It's evolution," Tracy said yesterday. "Names like (Michael) Andretti ... they don't stay around forever. There has to be a turnover if any sport is to be successful." Tracy's comment on his former teammate -- who moved his new team to the rival Indy Racing League from CART -- was a dig at Andretti's claim that the Champ Car series would fail at getting 18-car fields this season. "The naysayers, the people who were leaving to go to the IRL, they were the ones that were saying we were not going to have enough cars," Tracy said.

2/5/03

New Toyota Atlantic logo   In keeping with Championship Auto Racing Teams' new logo and branding announced last month, CART Toyota Atlantic Championship officials today unveiled a new logo for the series, which is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year. The new logo prominently features the series title sponsor, Toyota, along with a front view of an abstract Atlantic car entering a turn and the new CART corporate logo in black and white on an orange field below the words, "Atlantic Championship." Some versions of the logo also incorporate the
Yokohama Tire Corporation logo in deference to Yokohama's status as presenting sponsor of the series. "Our new series logo does a wonderful job of capturing the speed and excitement of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship," said Toyota Atlantic President Vicki O'Connor. "The logo is very modern, and fits very well with the overall look that CART has created to identify its brands. It clearly defines Toyota Atlantic as a member of the CART family, and I think it will look great on all of our cars, transporters, uniforms, stationery, and other materials."

2/5/03

Trans-Am with Cup at Sears Point  There will be no reason for race fans to make a mad dash to their cars following the checkered flag of the Dodge/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Winston Cup event at Infineon Raceway on June 22. Avoid the traffic congestion by staying in your seat for the second half of a racing doubleheader as the NASCAR Winston Cup stock cars will be followed by the longest-running road-racing series in North America for a 100-mile feature on the 12-turn, 2-mile road course. The Trans-Am Series, which enters its 38th year of competition in 2003, has been added to the weekend schedule, with the green flag set to drop approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of the Dodge/Save Mart 350. “Trans-Am has a tremendous heritage at this track and in the history of American road racing,” said Steve Page, president and general manager at Infineon Raceway. “Some of the most exciting, competitive events we've ever staged have been Trans-Am races. This is going to be a terrific addition to the show for our fans.”

2/5/03

Scenes from Sebring   We have added some photos from Sebring on Monday and Tuesday to our report.

2/5/03

2003 Frequencies   We have updated our NASCAR Scanner Frequencies page with 2003 numbers in time for Daytona Speedweeks.  You can find a link on our NASCAR page.

2/5/03

F1 eyes India  Hermann Tilke, the man who designs most of the Formula 1 circuits these days, has been visiting the city of Bangalore in India to inspect a site which the local government is considering turning into a Formula 1 racing facility. Tilke was accompanied on his trip by Michael Taub, who has been trying to organize an Indian Grand Prix for several years and was heavily involved in the abortive project in Calcutta. The pair met with state government officials from various departments and the state's chief minister S M Krishna. They are trying to convince the local authorities that a race in the area could be a major boost for tourism in the region.  GrandPrix.com

2/5/03

Latest F1 Hot News 

Official: Firman Lands Jordan Ride
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Webber Accepts Jaguar Challenge
Ferrari Maintain Momentum In Spain
Frail 005 Leaves BAR Frustrated
A Slow Start For Williams FW25
Ralph Firman: I Am Ready For F1
Testing Contingency For Massa
Renault Retain Long-Term Sponsor
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Alesi: No-one Will Touch Ferrari
Grand Prix Veterans Eye Le Mans
Bahrain GP Thrown Into Question
Webber Ponders 'Crucial' Shootout
Panis: New Car In Different League
Honda Not Yet Panicking

2/5/03

Gearing up for the Grand Prix   This St. Petersburg Times article says that the normally quiet downtown streets were alive Monday with the sounds of squealing tires, a 750-horsepower engine and the staccato bursts of air guns as Championship Auto Racing Teams made a promotional pit stop. Literally. With the inaugural Grand Prix of St. Petersburg less than three weeks away, event organizers gave fans a sneak preview. Driver Bruno Junqueira turned two laps on the 1.78-mile street circuit and his Newman-Haas crew gave a pit-stop demonstration on Central Avenue. A curious crowd of about 300 included race fans, dog walkers and business men and women. "It's good to see so many people," said Junqueira, a native of Brazil who lives in Miami. "I hope there will be a lot of people for the race. It's a good track. It's fast. It's pretty wide, especially on the main straightaway by the airport. There's going to be some passing, for sure. It's going to be very exciting." CART opens its season Feb. 21-23 in St. Petersburg. Junqueira said he expects cars to reach speeds of 170-180 mph on the temporary street circuit's long straightaways, though he did not come close to that in Monday's exhibition laps because he thought it best not to pass the police escort. "I just did two laps very slow with the police car in front of me," Junqueira said. "He wrote me a ticket because I exceeded the speed limit." During the pit stop demonstration, team members showed off their speed by changing four tires in less than eight seconds. Unlike NASCAR, which uses hand jacks to change tires two at a time, CART lifts the entire car with an internal, pressurized jack to change four tires at once. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, who grew up within a few miles of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, got in on the act, donning a team shirt and holding the sign board that indicated where Junqueira should stop for service. Baker stood to the side, the sign dangling from a long pole. "It was very cool," Baker said. "I just learned I'm the lollipop man. That's what they call this job." With attendance required, all drivers participated in promotional photo shoots around town and a media interview at the Bayfront Center. The teams will spend today through Thursday testing at Sebring International Raceway before returning to St. Petersburg on Feb. 20. "The course looks good," veteran driver Roberto Moreno said. "A street course always brings a lot of challenges. It looks like there are some fast corners and chicanes. The road is resurfaced and that is very important to us. I like the atmosphere of the people here. I think this is a place people will like to come." MUSICAL LINEUP: Rock band Better Than Ezra will perform Feb. 22. The concert is free to Saturday ticket-holders.

2/5/03

Dan Davis wants CART to finalize new engine regs   According to this Star News article, Dan Davis said if the spec engine proves reliable and produces tight racing, CART should at least consider keeping it around.  "I'm in a wait-and-see mode. I want CART to be successful, but I'm not sure what route that means it should take," Davis said. "If the spec engine is very successful, I'd say let's stay with it." Pook acknowledged it's a "delicate situation." He met with Davis on Monday night in St. Petersburg to discuss it and vowed the mistakes of his predecessors in dealing with now-departed Honda and Toyota won't be repeated. "Ford will continue to be a brand with us. We're not going to dump them," Pook said. "You don't treat your good customers that way. You may tweak 'em a little, though." Pook is committed to bringing more manufacturers into the sport and said he already has had conversations with potential engine suppliers. He wants the rules package for 2005 and beyond decided quickly and not dragged out by internal haggling, as has happened in the past. His timetable: new engines approved in 2003, developed and tested in 2004 and raced in 2005. Davis said Ford isn't afraid of competition -- only the price tag that comes with it. The cost of doing business against Toyota and Honda got out of hand.

2/5/03

By the numbers in Miami   An article appeared last week in National Speed Sport News written by Steve Mayer disputing the attendance numbers for the GP of the Americas in Miami last year.  AR1 decided to contact Chuck Martinez, General Manager, of the Miami race to get his side of the story.  As expected , he painted a somewhat different picture than the National Speed Sport News article, a publication which tries to discredit anything and everything about CART, while turning its head to what is going on in the IRL or NASCAR.  They cater to an oval track audience, and CART certainly isn't that.  Back to the story at hand.  As Mayer points out in the article, 28,379 tickets were distributed.  What they failed to say is that they were 3-day tickets, and people were there all 3 days.  The grandstands on Saturday were as full as Sunday.  3 x 28,379 is more than the 85,000 attendance that was reported for the event.  The article neglected to mention that while the grandstands are empty on Friday and Saturday at IRL's oval races, such is not the case at CART events...so total attendance did indeed top 85,000, meaning the NSSN article's claims that the attendance figures released were erroneous are simply incorrect.  However, the folks in Miami do admit that not all 85,00 were paid attendance.  The complimentary tickets included:

  • 3,000 were given to underprivileged children x 3 = 9,000

  • 500+ media x 3 = 1,500

  • Tickets were allotted for guests of the Intercontinental hotel that were not going to the race (about 500 x 3 = 1,500)

  • 1,000 to the Miami Dade college for using their facilities x 3 = 3,000

  • Any Miami Dade student who showed their ID were admitted free Friday

  • 1,000 tickets were given to local businesses inconvenienced by the race x 3 = 3,000

  • Tickets were given for radio and TV promotions (about 500 x 3 = 1,500)

  • Tickets were given for future hospitality and sponsors (about 500 x 3 = 1,500)

  • 200 tickets were given to the marching band

  • 400 tickets were given to volunteers x 3 = 1,200

Although we don't have exact figures, based on what was provided to us, total paid attendance for the three day event was in the neighborhood of 60,000.  All this proves is that you can come up with different numbers depending on how you want to slant the article.

2/4/03

Giaffone leads Toyota dominance in test in west in California  OK, so it’s very early, but a trend started to emerge after the first day for IRL IndyCar Series teams at the annual Test in the West on Feb. 4 at California Speedway. Felipe Giaffone and the Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone combination already are moving targets for the rest of the field – very speedy targets, that is. 2001 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Giaffone dominated testing on the 2-mile oval, turning a fast lap of 31.8988 seconds, 225.714 mph, in the No. 21 Hollywood Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone fielded by Mo Nunn Racing. “My car was very good out of the box, and I had two big drafts,” Giaffone said. “Tony (Kanaan) gave me the first one, and Tomas (Scheckter) gave me the second one. The timing was just right; I had new tires, and I was lucky to have everyone in front of me, and I just happened to have a good lap.” Tomas Scheckter was second at 32.2601, 223.186 in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, as that equipment package swept the top two spots. “Everything is going well,” Scheckter said. “Felipe was consistently quick today, and we’re just working different setups to make sure the car is good for the race later on this year.” The Dallara/Honda/Firestone package of IndyCar Series newcomer Andretti Green Racing also was strong, taking the next two spots. Tony Kanaan was third at 32.3527, 222.547 in the No. 11 7-Eleven entry, while Dario Franchitti was fourth at 32.3546, 222.534. Gil de Ferran rounded out the top five at 32.3559, 222.525 in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.

2/4/03

Toyota names potent IRL driver lineup  Toyota announced their 2003 IRL driver lineup today.  Five teams are running Toyota V8 power out of the TRD shops in California::

Penske Racing - Gil de Ferran

Penske Racing - Helio Castroneves

Kelley Racing - Scott Sharp

Kelley Racing - Al Unser Jr.

Ganassi Racing - Scott Dixon

Ganassi Racing - Tomas Scheckter

Mo Nunn Racing - Felipe Giaffone

Mo Nunn Racing - Tora Takagi

AJ Foyt Racing - AJ Foyt IV

AJ Foyt Racing - Shigeaki Hattori (4 races only)

2/4/03

Campbell named GM at Laguna Seca   Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca today announced that Gill Campbell, who has been serving as General Manager of the facility on a contract basis since December 2001, was recently made a staff member with a three-year employment agreement to manage the facility. “Gill has proven to be a very dynamic manager, accomplishing a great deal in a short period of time,” said Kathryn Hayworth, president of the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP), operators of the track located within the Monterey County Parks' Laguna Seca Recreation Area. “She has solidified many of our most important relationships and has initiated others that will greatly benefit the facility,” Hayworth continued. “It was a unanimous vote by the board to retain her.” Since taking over the management of the facility in December 2001, Campbell has overseen construction of the new $7.5 million Premier Pit Row Suite and garage complex and implemented several new fan-friendly policies. “Gill has really energized Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and we couldn't be happier with the announcement that she will be on staff for at least the next three years,” said Charlie Hughes, president & CEO of Mazda North American Operations, whose company has partnered with the racetrack.

2/4/03

Tecate official beer of LBGP  Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach officials today announced that Tecate, the fourth largest import beer in the U.S., has been named the Official Import Beer of the crown jewel of the Champ Car World Series, which will take place this year April 11-13. The multi-year sponsorship agreement allows Tecate to benefit from both on- and off-track exposure including pouring rights at the event. Just as importantly, Tecate’s on-track marketing package will allow for national and international media exposure via the television broadcast of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. “The sponsorship could not have come at a better time as more and more Mexican-Americans have come to appreciate the sport of open-wheel racing,” said Andres Siefken, Senior Brand Manager – Mexican Brands, Labatt USA. “Southern California is a key growth market for Tecate and we want to continue to build upon the success we’ve had with this diverse consumer base. This partnership reinforces Tecate’s commitment to its number-one market.” Tecate is a sponsor of Champ Car driver Adrián Fernández’ #51 Champ Car. “We are proud to welcome Tecate into our family of sponsors,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “The presence of Adrián Fernández at the Champ Car race in Long Beach has attracted a large Hispanic following and his association with Tecate helps to reinforce that presence. We look forward to a strong sponsorship and promotional relationship with Tecate.”

2/4/03

 

New Format For Budweiser Shootout At Daytona   The inaugural nighttime running of the Budweiser Shootout on Feb. 8 at Daytona International Speedway will have an added twist with a new format.   The 70-lap Budweiser Shootout will now feature a break after the first 20 laps of the race. Drivers and crews will have a 10-minute period where they can service their cars with tires, fuel or any minor adjustments for the final 50 laps.  After the 10-minute break, cars will return to the track for a double-file restart in the same order as they were at the end of the first 20 laps. Since cars will be running a smaller fuel cell, fans may expect see another pit stop in the final 50 laps.  The second 50-lap segment must end in a green-white-checkered finish. Caution laps will count toward the total in both segments.  For the first time in the history of the event, the Budweiser Shootout will be held under the lights on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. and will be televised by FOX Sports in prime time. The Budweiser Shootout has been traditionally scheduled during Speedweeks on a Sunday afternoon, a week before the Daytona 500.  The list of drivers eligible for the Budweiser Shootout is a who's who of NASCAR and consists of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Bill Elliott, Dale Jarrett, Rusty Wallace, Ryan Newman, Ward Burton, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Craven, Ricky Rudd, Kevin Harvick, Mark Martin, Geoffrey Bodine, Ken Schrader, Todd Bodine and Terry Labonte.  Stewart, the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion, will be gunning for a record third straight Budweiser Shootout victory. In 2001, he held off the late Dale Earnhardt and in 2002 he withstood a furious challenge from Dale Earnhardt Jr.

2/4/03

 

Hendrick signs 17-year old Kyle Busch   Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick today announced the signing of driver Kyle Busch to a multi-year contract. The 17-year-old will run at least seven NASCAR Busch Series events under the Hendrick banner in 2003, with a full schedule planned for 2004.  "Kyle is one of the best young racers I've ever been around and it's certainly exciting to have him on board," Hendrick said. "To say he has a bright future would be an understatement."   Busch, who will also compete in four Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) events with Hendrick Motorsports this season, will become eligible for Busch Series competition when he turns 18 on May 2. He and 19-year-old teammate Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 5 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet, will form the youngest tandem in NASCAR history.

2/4/03

CART in China  Chris Pook repeated to us today that CART is eyeing either China, Japan or South Korea to get back into the Asian market.  He did say that CART would not go to China until they see how F1 makes out.  F1 will race in China in 2004, so don't look for CART before 2005.  Let's not forget that mighty Microsoft has lost money in China for the last 10 years, so erring on the side of caution is perhaps warranted. Mark C.

2/4/03

Williams doomed  The new Williams FW25 first took to the track on January 31st, but its real first test started the day after. Yesterday, after its third day of testing, Ralf Schumacher, for one, clearly thinks he has no hopes of challenging Ferrari for the title. “If we look at the timesheet, we can conclude that our future doesn't look too bright” - Ralf Schumacher said - “but I don't want to be too pessimistic because we'll improve the car which is not in its final aerodynamic shape yet. The past few years, we took the previous year's car and modified it. This year we started with a clean sheet of paper, so we have to develop the whole car.” Ralf Schumacher keeps faith in this new FW25, but he's under no illusion he'll be able to join Ferrari at the top of the Formula One hierarchy: “We still have to try some very important new parts in the next few days,” - added Ralf - “we should have a better idea of the car's potential when we get to Valencia in two weeks. As far as Ferrari is concerned, I can't see what we could do to challenge them. Their new contender will be better, but even by keeping their old F2002, they'd still win the championship.”

2/4/03

International TV  CART will make some major announcements next week with regard to international TV deals, one in Europe and one in Brazil.  For those of you who read our rumors page, you already know what those announcements will probably be. Mark C.

2/4/03

Alex Tagliani falls ill  UPDATE Alex Tagliani is here at Sebring today and feeling a bit better.  2/4/03 - According to today's ''Le Journal de Montreal'', Alex Tagliani could be very sick, he's expected to be at Sebring today but that's if he's able to get there because the doctors don't yet know what's his sickness is about... He has an ear infection and swelling on his lungs, they think it might be a food poisoning but its been around for a couple of weeks now and has people around him anxious and concerned. He missed yesterday's media conference. Mark C.

2/4/03

More on VW to F1  The CEO of the Volkswagen Auto Group, Bernd Pischetsrieder, told the German newspaper Die Welt that VW in Formula 1 could be a possibility. VW's subsidiary group, Audi, has become one of the top names in global motorsport the past few years with their domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With the new cost cutting rules presented this season by the FIA, most prominent being the reduction in electronic aids, the idea of joining the F1 fraternity could become more of a reality than a dream to VW. "If we could be in F1 tomorrow, that would be excellent,” Pischetsrieder told German newspaper Die Welt. The Audi team has had so much success that VW's other subsidiary, Bentley, has yet to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans due to the supremacy by their sister company. VW had decided this year that they would not bring a factory supported Audi team this year in the hopes that the British manufacturer can take the overall honors this year. This could be a possible step to phase out Audi out of the sportscar racing arena much like what BMW did during the 2000 season. After winning Le Mans overall in 1999 BMW announced their plans to enter into F1 and then left their sportscars to run one more year in the American Le Mans Series. Audi will be doing the same this season in the ALMS but will send most of their factory drivers to Le Mans to assist Bentley in their efforts. F1Central.net

2/4/03

Bentley announces driver lineup  An all-star lineup consisting of three former Formula One drivers has been announced by British manufacturer Bentley for the second of two Prototype race cars it will field in its North American racing debut in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell, both of England, and Australian David Brabham will team up in an effort to win America’s oldest sports car race, which will be run Mar. 12-15 at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway and will kick off the 2003 season for the American Le Mans Series. Herbert was part of the winning factory Audi team in last year’s Sebring event and is a three-time winner in Formula One competition. He has driven for ADT Champion Racing the past two seasons on the ALMS and will return to the team for the rest of the season after Sebring. Brabham, who drove for the factory Panoz team the past four years, has seven career American Le Mans Series wins and is a former class winner at Sebring. Both Herbert and Blundell are former winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The driver lineup for the other Bentley entry was announced in early January. Defending American Le Mans Series champion Tom Kristensen of Denmark will be joined by his Audi co-driver from the past two years, Rinaldo “Dindo” Capello of Italy, as well as veteran driver Guy Smith of England. Kristensen and Capello are two-time Sebring winners, with Capello part of the winning team the past two years. After an absence from racing of 71 years, Bentley returned with an entry at Le Mans in 2001 and finished third. The beautiful closed-roof racer also competed in the French endurance racing classic in 2002 and finished fourth. The participation in Sebring will mark the first time that a factory Bentley has raced in the United States since an entry in the Indianapolis 500 in 1922. The Bentley entries, which will be sponsored by Breitling, will run on Michelin tires at Sebring and Le Mans for the first time. The six “Bentley Boys” will also race together in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

2/4/03

Jordan signs Firman  Finally, it's official - Ralph Firman has landed the final Formula One racing seat in pitlane. The 27-year-old from Norfolk has signed a three-year contract with Eddie Jordan and will make his grand prix debut in just over a month, at the Australian Grand Prix. 'He may be a rookie in F1 terms but Ralph brings a lot of racing experience and a formidable track record along with his enthusiasm and commitment,' said team boss Jordan. Speculation suggests that the Anglo-Irishman, reigning Formula Nippon champion and former F3 ace, brings several million dollars in sponsorship - most notably from Ford of Ireland. Eddie adds: 'I'm impressed with his very cool and disciplined approach and I have a lot of confidence that he and Fisichella will be an awesome partnership on the track. 'The news that Ralph has joined us, allied to other important developments, means that Jordan Ford is a force to be reckoned with in 2003, and I can't wait for the season to start.' A champion kart racer, Firman is also a former winner of the McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award, and has a famous father in Ralph Senior - a former mechanic to Emerson Fittipaldi and the founder of Van Diemen. After an initial seat-fitting in the Jordan Ford EJ13 at the team's Silverstone base yesterday, Firman is preparing for his first test with the team to be held in Valencia, Spain, next week. He said: 'I am thrilled to have this chance to race in Formula One especially as it is with Jordan, one of the few teams to have won Grands Prix in recent years. 'It's also a team that has brought many notable names into Formula One and I can see that it's an extremely friendly and professional operation. 'Although this will be my first season, I have worked hard to build up my experience whilst racing in Japan, so although F1 will be something new I feel ready and quite comfortable with it. 'I am really looking forward to going to Melbourne next month.'

2/4/03

Indy Racing veterans press conference, a fan responds  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, Interesting that when interviewing the "IRL veterans," the first thing they spoke of was their injuries.....DeFerran and Lazier. I wonder what the new CART drivers are going to think when getting into the pack and one of the IRL hotheads tries to show off and wrecks the pack. Its not like NASCAR! Dario seemed fairly hesitant to answer the question about running in such a pack. Also, it was funny to note that Kanaan said he was delighted when approached by Andretti to drive for his team in the IRL.  Wasn't he one of the most outspoken and biggest complainers about the IRL when it was first rumored he was being shipped off? D. Hughes, Jacksonville, FL  Dear Derek, the veterans have all head good careers and they all know the extreme danger oval track racing presents.  Don't think for a moment they are not concerned about being injured.  Spinal injuries are the most feared.  No one wants to end up like Sam Schmidt. Some people are speculating that Michael Andretti is retiring at Indy and not later, because he is not looking forward to racing at Texas Motor Speedway.  He was not enamored with the place when CART tried to race there in 2001.  He was quoted as saying to Paul Tracy, his teammate, we have no business being here. Paul's response was, we get paid to drive, so drive.  Tracy was not in favor of CART canceling the race.  Mark C.  2/3/03 - Michael Andretti, Robbie Buhl, Gil de Ferran, Dario Franchitti, Jaques Lazier, Tony Kanaan, Scott Sharp.  Transcript

2/4/03

 

Roush signs Kenseth and Busch   Matt Kenseth signed a long-term deal with Roush Racing on Monday, preventing what was expected to be a competitive free-agency chase. Roush also inked Kurt Busch to a new deal, hours after it was announced that his brother, Kyle, would not sign with the company as planned when he turns 18 in May. "All Roush Racing drivers are now signed for long-term periods, which will keep 'Silly Season' disruptions to a minimum this year and allow all of our teams to focus solely on racing,'' said Roush general manager Geoff Smith.

2/4/03

Latest F1 Hot News 

Shoot-Out: An F1 Test Of Nerves
Jos: A Year On The Sidelines
Dennis Wants More F1 Income
Montoya: Racing For Colombia
Williams 'Vexed' By New Rules
Manning Still Eyes F1 Future
Sauber Join Puma's F1 Party
Fastest Ferraris At Barcelona
Firman To Get The Nod Today
Williams Men Cautious About FW25
Fisichella Welcomes Baby Boy
No Upper Hand For Ralf Or Juan
Webber: R4 A Different Animal
Williams Boss Slams Ferrari
Berger Applauds Electronic Bans
Da Matta Turning Heads In Spain
Felipe Massa To Ferrari?

2/4/03

Lehto and Herbert to drive Audi  Former Formula 1 driver JJ Lehto has been confirmed in the Team ADT Champion Racing Audi American Le Mans Series squad for 2003 alongside Britain's Johnny Herbert.  This of course means Herbert has given up any hope of landing a CART ride.  Mark C.

2/4/03

CART wants more Americans  Chris Pook stated in an interview at St. Pete on Monday that CART is keen on getting more American drivers into Champ Cars and to look for a program geared to help make that happen to materialize later in the year.  Mark C.

2/4/03

 

Daytona SuperStore opens   The Daytona Superstore is new to Speedweeks 2003 and will be located just east of the pedestrian bridge on International Speedway Boulevard. This new shopping experience will host a grand opening Thursday, Feb. 7 and remain open through the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 16. The Daytona Superstore, similar to structures seen during the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, is a 16,000 square foot, 30-foot high structure with all the comforts of a mall. The interior is fully carpeted, has climate control and has a surround sound system for special announcements about both racing and merchandise.

2/4/03
Industry News

First China-made BMW's  The first mainland-made BMW will hit the streets early next year and production will not be affected by a legal dispute between its Chinese partner and its former chairman, according to a BMW executive. The head of BMW for Greater China, Kurt Seeman, told the San Lian Sheng Huo magazine, published yesterday, that its joint venture in Shenyang with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings would receive its production licence soon, probably early next month, and the first model would roll off the production line about eight months later. So a Chinese-made BMW would be cruising on a mainland highway by March next year at the latest, he said. Initial output would be 20,000 to 30,000 of the 3 series models a year, costing less than 400,000 yuan (about HK$375,560) each, compared with between 560,000 and 630,000 yuan respectively for the imported 318i and 325i. Mr Seeman said his company sold 9,395 BMWs in Greater China last year, of which 6,667 were sold on the mainland. "Our mainland clients are the youngest in the world, mostly chief executives of private companies who want to enjoy their success." He said the Shenyang plant would be able to make the full range of BMW models and would start with the smallest - the 3 series - and follow with the 5 series.

2/4/03

Trans-Am confirms 11 races  The Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup has confirmed an 11-race schedule for the 2003 season. Negotiations are ongoing for a 12th race, which will be announced at a later date. All events will be carried either live or tape-delayed by the SPEED Channel. ³I¹m pleased with the schedule we¹ve put together for our competitors, sponsors and fans,² said Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett. ³It¹s a solid program for America¹s longest running road racing series. It includes traditional dates and circuits and also brings some exciting new venues online. It will deliver tremendous value for our marketing partners and teams.

DATE VENUE CITY, STATE TV AIRING
Feb. 23 St. Petersburg Street Course St. Petersburg, Fla. SDD 2/23 5:30 p.m.
April 13 Long Beach Street Course Long Beach, Calif. SDD, 9 p.m.
May 18 Mosport Int¹l Raceway Bowmanville, Ontario SDD, 5:30 p.m.
May 26 Lime Rock Park Lakeville, Conn. LIVE, 2 p.m.
June 22 Infineon Raceway Sonoma, Calif. TD, 6/27, 8 p.m.
June 28 Washington, D.C. Street Course Washington, D.C. SDD 5:30 p.m.
July 4 Burke Lakefront Airport Cleveland TD, 7/5 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 2 Trois-Rivieres Street Course Trois-Rivieres, Quebec LIVE, 1 p.m.
Aug. 24 Road America Elkhart Lake, Wis. LIVE, 1 p.m.
Aug. 31 Denver Street Course Denver TD, 9/1, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 26 Puerto Rico Circuit TBD Puerto Rico TD, 11/1, 1p.m.

2/4/03

Forsythe buys back CART stock  In another AR1 exclusive, Gerald Forsythe sold a block of CART stock just before Christmas for tax purposes, but bought it all back last week.  This is important because some people thought Forsythe selling was a sign he was losing interest in CART.  Such is not the case.  In fact, just the opposite.  Stay tuned to AR1.  Mark C.

2/3/03

Indy 500 winners press conference  Gathered at the test in the west - Kenny Brack, Helio Castroneves, Eddie Cheever Jr., Buddy Lazier, Al Unser.  Transcript.

2/3/03

Bankrupt Conseco to sponsor Foyt IV  Conseco, one of America’s leading insurance, investment and lending companies, will sponsor the car driven by rookie A.J. Foyt IV in the IRL IndyCar Series in 2003, team owner A.J. Foyt announced Feb. 3. Foyt also revealed that IndyCar Series veteran Shigeaki Hattori will be the younger Foyt’s teammate for the first four races of the season in an EPSON-sponsored car.

2/3/03

 

Smith refuses to move races to get 2nd TMS date   Bruton Smith has no plans to get a second NASCAR Winston Cup race in Texas by moving one of his company's eight other races or through the purchase of another track with a date. "If I bought one tomorrow, it's going to Las Vegas, not here," Smith said Wednesday at Texas Motor Speedway, one of six tracks his Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns.  More....

2/3/03

 

Martin to run Kraft car in Bud Shootout   Roush Racing's Mark Martin will be making a record 15th straight start in the Budweiser Shootout, when the green flags drops on this years all-star event. This year's Shootout will be run on Saturday night (Feb. 9, 2003). Martin will be at the helm of the No. 6 Kraft Ford Taurus in this year's event. Martin, who did not win a pole in 2002, won the Bud Shootout in 1999, and will start his 16th shootout via a past-champions provisional.

2/3/03

Monday test times from Barcelona 

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1m16.900s 64
2 Michael Schumacher Ferrari B 1m17.282s 88
3 Cristiano de Matta Toyota M 1m17.563s 77*
4 Jarno Trulli Renault M 1m17.778s 54*
5 Jenson Button BAR-Honda B 1m17.826s 66*
6 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas B 1m17.907s 94*
7 Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar-Cosworth M 1m18.079s 41*
8 Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Honda B 1m18.342s 68*
9 Juan-Pablo Montoya WilliamsF1 BMW M 1m18.511s 41
10 Ralf Schumacher WilliamsF1 BMW M 1m18.725s 62*
11 Allan McNish Renault M 1m19.203s 64*
12 Juan-Pablo Montoya WilliamsF1 BMW M 1m19.735s 17*

2/3/03

The beauty of St. Petersburg  These pictures of the St. Petersburg track taken from left to right (turn 9 to turn 10 and beyond) depict a very Long Beach like setting.

 
Photos by Mark Cipolloni

2/3/03

Mears signs on as consultant for Pro series   Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears has been hired by the Indy Racing League as a driver coach and consultant for the IRL Infiniti Pro Series, league officials announced Feb. 3. In his role, Mears will mentor and coach promising drivers as they hone their skills in the Infiniti Pro Series in hopes of competing in the IRL IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. He will work closely with Brian Barnhart, senior vice president of racing operations for the IRL, and Roger Bailey, executive director of the Infiniti Pro Series.

2/3/03

CART to finalize schedule  Chris Pook assured us today that CART will finalize their 2003 race schedule and 2003 USA TV schedule sometime this week. We expect a 19-race schedule.

2/3/03

 

Smaller fuel cells for Daytona   Drivers looking to secure a spot in the 45th annual Daytona 500 through the Feb. 13 Gatorade 125's will have something new to think about this year and that's a pit stop.  The smaller fuel cells used previously by NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams in the EA Sports 500 last October at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway will be in place during Speedweeks 2003 and the already unpredictable Gatorade 125's. The Gatorade 125 qualifying races will complete the field for the Feb. 16 Daytona 500. The top-14 finishers in each Gatorade 125 (with the exception of the already qualified pole winner and outside pole winner) earn positions 3-30 on the starting grid. The rest of the 43-car field is filled based on qualifying speeds and car owner provisional points. In past years, a driver could complete all 50 laps of his qualifier with a standard 22-gallon fuel cell without having to make a pit stop for gasoline. With the smaller fuel cells - which hold approximately 13.5 gallons of gas - they will have to make a pit stop in this year's Gatorade 125's. For teams who lack owner's points or a fast qualifying speed, the Gatorade 125's are critical. Fans should keep a close eye on pit road because their favorite driver's pit strategy could be the key to making the starting field for stock car racing's richest and most prestigious race.  The smaller fuel cell will have the driver and crew chief pondering several questions during the Gatorade 125's. When to pit? How many tires? How much fuel? "It's another element and dimension to the race now," said 1990 Daytona 500 champion Derrike Cope, driver and owner of the No. 37 Friendly's Chevrolet who sits 53rd in the 2002 owner's standings. "You've just got to pay attention. You've got to have scenarios lined up - the what ifs - and when one of them comes on, you just have to react to that instinctively and make your decision and hope it's the right one." Kyle Petty, driver of the No. 45 Georgia-Pacific Dodge, has made 23 starts in the Gatorade 125's. He has competed in the 50-lap qualifier when pit stops were necessary and is prepared to make one in his 50-lap qualifier next week. "It's only been in recent years that you could run the full 125," said Petty, who sits 23rd in owner's points. "Many years before that, it was always a pit stop in the 125's. It just takes it back to the old strategy. The trick is going to be to pit right in the 125's and stay with the group because if you get separated you're not going to have enough time to get caught back up. It does change that strategy a little bit."

2/3/03

Indy 500 veteran car owner dies   Jack B. Hinkle, who owned cars that Jack McGrath placed on the front row of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race five years in a row during the early 1950s, died in his sleep Jan. 31 at his home in Wichita, Kan. He was 90. McGrath drove Hinkle’s car between 1950-55, winning the pole in 1954 and leading four races for a total of 70 laps. McGrath qualified third in 1951, led 11 laps and placed third in the race. He qualified the car in the same position the next year, led six laps and finished 11th. He was right back in third again for the start of the 1953 race and came home fifth. McGrath put Hinkle’s car on the pole in 1954 and ran out front for 47 laps before sliding back to third in the final rundown. McGrath was back in his familiar third-place starting position in 1955 and led six laps, but a magneto problem ended his race after 54 laps in 26th place. Hinkle, a retired oilman, drove Class A sports cars in SCCA races until he was 71. The funeral will be Feb. 4 at the Metropolitan Baptist Church, 925 W. Douglas, Wichita, Kan. 67213

2/3/03

Adrian Fernandez hints at 2nd car  At a media conference in St. Pete today, we asked Adrian Fernández whether he was looking to get back to two cars this year.  He stated that he was looking to run two cars at select races later in the year.

2/3/03

PacifiCare to sponsor three CART races  The Newman Haas team unveiled PacifiCare (a health Care HMO company) as the new sponsor for Bruno Junqueira's car. In addition to sponsoring the car, PacifiCare will be an official sponsor of the Long Beach, Milwaukee, and Denver CART races in 2003.

2/3/03

Newman Haas unveils new sponsor  The Newman Haas team unveiled PacifiCare (a health Care HMO company) as the new sponsor for Bruno Junqueira's car. The company has been involved in the sponsorship of various sporting events over the years.  We will have more on this later. Mark C.

2/3/03

Pook waves green flag on St. Pete  This morning CART President Chris Pook and the Mayor of St. Petersburg waved the green flag on a CART Transporter parade around the new St. Petersburg circuit. AutoRacing1.com was there to catch the action Mark C.

2/3/03

 

Rick Mast did what he did   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, In response to the article by Stan Creekmore, does not one's desire to perform at one's given avocation have nothing to do with Mr. Mast's decision? Ask R Petty. How much of his lung capacity does he maintain? Think maybe that he would or should have given up his career? Maybe you are a stick and ball sportsperson. How many have those individuals seen their own demise due to Steroids and other physically enhancing substances? Lyle Alzado ring a bell?

2/3/03

Rahal would still like to run two cars  We chatted with Bobby Rahal briefly last night.  He said right now they are running a single car in CART in 2003, but he definitely would run a second car if the right deal materializes. Mark C.

2/3/03

St. Pete ticket sales  Ticket sales for CART's season opener really slowed up while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were making their drive toward the Super Bowl.  However, now the sales have really picked up and we are told the place will look pretty full on race day.  A sellout is not expected for this first year event.  The race has no title sponsor, but they have 17 associate sponsors.  The promoter decided against a title sponsor until the "right" one can be found. Mark C.

2/3/03

Latest F1 Hot News 

Firman Lands Spare Jordan Drive
Red Bull Extend Sauber Deal
Dennis Backs Formula One Future
Jos: F1 Return Far From Easy
Gene Explains Testing Decision
Williams Pilots Ponder Shoot-Out
Ralf: Brother Will Cruise To Sixth
Bridgestone Ready For 2003
Testing Progress For Renault Team
Williams Enjoy Big-Three Advantage?
No Team Orders For Williams Pair
Berger Scotches Williams Title Hopes
Montoya Not Ready To Win
Ralf Dispels Big Brother Magic
Facelift For Hungaroring Circuit
Be Like Mike, Urges Williams Team
Da Matta Beats Off Doomsayers
Last Roll Of Dice For Villeneuve
No Breakaway Without FIA Backing
Schumacher: Road Safety Advocate
Da Matta Fastest At Barcelona
Ralf And Marc Debut New FW25
Williams: Poison In The Paddock
Schu Larger Than Life In Melbourne

2/3/03

Both Moreno and Gonzalez confirmed  Roberto Moreno is confirmed at Herdez Racing and Roberto Gonzalez is confirmed (will be any day now) at Dale Coyne Racing.  This means Alex Yoong must look for another team if he is able to come up with the necessary sponsor money. Mark C.

2/3/03

CART brings flavor of season opener to St. Pete  The St. Petersburg Time reports that on Monday, there will be a team of transporters from 7:15-8 a.m.; a practice lap around the 14-turn, 1.78-mile temporary street circuit at 11:15 a.m.; and a pit-stop demonstration at noon. The activities are open to the public. Teams are stopping on their way to Spring Training at Sebring International Raceway, a test session Tuesday-Thursday in which teams work out kinks in preparation for the 20-race season. More . . .

2/3/03

Kneifel gives St. Pete track thumbs up  CART Chief Steward Chris Kneifel says he is really excited about the St. Pete track.  "This is probably the best street circuit on the schedule.  I count at least four legitimate places to pass, braking into 1, braking into 4, braking into 10 and braking for 13. Chris thought it's possible that once the cars brake for turn 1, it might be 100% throttle to turn 4. Mark C.

2/3/03

Eurosport and CART  UPDATE We spoke to the Eurosport folks that are here in St. Petersburg.  They heard just before leaving for the USA that they would show CART races live throughout Europe, including the UK.  They indicated that Sky did not get the contract for the UK, they did.  The only country Eurosport may not do is France, where AB Moteurs has the contract, however, Eurosport is trying to negotiate that away from AB Moteurs.  (click here for tentative Eurosport schedule) Mark C 2/2/03 - Still doubt whether Eurosport will televise CART in 2003?  They are here in force in St. Petersburg for CART's Spring Training?  Don't.

2/3/03

Chris Pook confirms Houston - The CART contingent gathered in St. Petersburg, Florida Sunday night to kickoff their 2003 season.  Chris Pook addressed the cocktail reception crowd and during his speech announced that CART will return to Houston in 2004. Mark C.

2/2/03

Good News for Newman Haas - UPDATE As it turns out, the launch of Cialis on Tuesday is for Europe where the drug has already been approved.  It's also approved in Brazil.  USA FDA approval has yet to happen, but it is getting close we are told.  2/2/03 -   Newman Haas has had to run the Eli Lilly name on their cars because the FDA had not yet approved it's new Viagra beater, Cialis, which is ultimately destined to be on the sidepods of Sebastien Bourdais's cars. The company wants team co-owner Paul Newman as their spokesperson. That's all about to change, and this may mean two Newman Haas sponsor announcements, because we heard they were going to announce Bruno Junqueira's new sponsor this week too.  Story - Viagra's grip on the “self-help” market could end as it comes head-to-head with a new rival. Prozac’s maker, Eli Lilly, is forcing its way into the industry with the launch of its Cialis drug on Tuesday, also aimed at helping the little man down below. In a publicity stunt, it plans a 24-hour news conference to make the point that the drug lasts for at least 24 hours. While Viagra patients must take the drug at least an hour before a “tryst”, user-friendly Cialis is taken just once. Quite whether enjoying the effects for a full 24 hours is a selling point remains to be seen. The organizers hope the marathon will make the Guinness Book of Records but officials will have to be alert and ready for action at a moment’s notice. There will be no samples in the goodie bags for fear they might turn into suitcases."

2/2/03

Renault to test this week  RenaultF1 will test its new R23 car this week. From 3-5 February the team (which has chosen to restrict its testing during the season to just ten days - taking up the option of extra practice at Grand Prix weekends instead) will field Jarno Trulli, Fernando Alonso, and test driver Allan McNish during all three days. “Our winter testing is progresing well,” admits Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering. “We have been able to make lots of progress in the last few weeks with the hybrid car, and our aim to is to the car as reliable as possible for Melbourne. This means that we won’t be focusing on performance next week, but rather on learning even more about the car and how it behaves.”

2/2/03

GT cars 1-2-3 Rolex 24   While things continue to look promising for The Racers Group #66 Porsche, problems continue to occur for the Daytona Prototypes.   In fact, so pathetic are the Grand-Am prototypes that GT cars hold 1-2-3 with just minutes left to run.  A far cry from ALMS.  For the Brumos #59 Porsche Daytona Prototype, an overheating problem forced the crew to change radiators. Trouble also plagued the Multimatic #88 Ford when what was supposed to be a routine pit, turned into a header change. The overall and GT leader at the end of the hour continued to be The Racers Group #66 Porsche, while the #88 Ford sat in second place overall and at the front of the Daytona Prototypes. The Risi Competizione #35 Ferrari rounded out the top-three overall. The GTS class leader continued to be the Morgan-Dollar #46 Corvette, and the Team Seattle/Essex #5 Nissan Lola led the SRPII field.

2/2/03

Ralf thinks he can beat Michael  Ralf Schumacher has tried to shatter the myth behind big brother Michael's apparent invincibility by insisting: "He can be beaten." The 27-year-old reckons he is among a select few who can defeat him - if they had the right car. He said: "There are four or five drivers in Formula One who are able to win the title but they need the right package. Schumacher believes he can emulate his 34-year-old brother's achievements at Ferrari and restore Williams to the summit of the world championship. He added: "I believe I can do it here, that's why I signed. I'm sure we're going in the right direction and that we'll find success."

2/2/03

Nazareth tickets   The most expensive ticket for this years Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth is $39 if you buy before April 5th ($50 afterwards).  For $39 you a reserved seat and for $29 ($40 after April 5th) general admission, you can sit anywhere in the grandstands.  Why ay $39 or $50 when you can pay $29 since there will be plenty of seats open.  This price is a far cry from the $75+ they used to charge for the CART race, and the attendance for the IRL was less than for CART.  Roger Penske could not understand how CART could dump his Nazareth track from their schedule.  Now they are practically giving the tickets away to prop up faltering IRL interest with NE dirt track oval fans, many who can't afford high ticket prices.  Unfortunately for Nazareth, now that the race has been moved from April to August, hometown hero Michael Andretti will already be retired and won't help with their ticket sales.  Father Mario Andretti refuses to help Nazareth as long as it is an IRL race.

2/2/03

IRL losing more big American names   The IRL has had a hard time retaining its big name drivers, especially Americans.  The biggest names either retire, are sidelined by injuries, or move on to a bigger series.  Michael Andretti will retire after Indy, Al Unser Jr., who is older and slower than Andretti should have retired a couple of years ago, Eddie Cheever has hung it up this year, Tony Stewart moved to NASCAR, Buddy Lazier may be out of a ride, and Billy Boat is hanging on by a shoestring,  The best drivers left in the IRL are all foreigners, except for Sam Hornish Jr., and he has his eyes on NASCAR.

2/2/03

Upgrades for Hungary  The Hungaroring will be lengthened by just over 400 meters in an effort to increase the number of overtaking/outbraking opportunities. The first corner is to be re-profiled in addition to the corner behind the pits which is to be tightened. Over the years the circuit has been know for follow-the-leader racing.

2/2/03

Barcelona test times to date 

Date Driver Team Tires Time Speed/Gap
23-Jan Michael Schumacher Ferrari B 1:15.020 141.034 mph
14-Jan David Coulthard McLaren M 1:15.266 0.246
15-Jan Alexander Wurz McLaren M 1:15.511 0.491
23-Jan Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1:15.730 0.710
16-Jan Kimi Raikkonen McLaren M 1:16.007 0.987
16-Jan Juan Pablo Montoya WilliamsF1 M 1:16.151 1.131
16-Jan Olivier Panis Toyota M 1:16.386 1.366
23-Jan Luca Badoer Ferrari B 1:16.431 1.411
14-Jan Marc Gene WilliamsF1 M 1:16.568 1.548
15-Jan Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber B 1:16.656 1.636
14-Jan Nick Heidfeld Sauber B 1:16.688 1.668
17-Jan Fernando Alonso Renault M 1:16.920 1.900
16-Jan Christiano da Matta Toyota M 1:17.008 1.988
16-Jan Anthony Davidson BAR B 1:17.628 2.608
17-Jan Takuma Sato BAR B 1:17.749 2.729
23-Jan Jacques Villeneuve BAR B 1:18.195 3.175
23-Jan Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar M 1:18.349 3.329
15-Jan Jenson Button BAR B 1:18.388 3.368
23-Jan Mark Webber Jaguar M 1:18.532 3.512
17-Jan Jarno Trulli Renault M 1:18.910 3.890
1-Feb Ralf Schumacher WilliamsF1 M 1:19.050 4.030
24-Jan Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan B 1:19.077 4.057
14-Jan Olivier Beretta WilliamsF1 M 1:19.160 4.140
15-Jan Allan McNish Renault M 1:21.157 6.137

2/2/03

 

Martinsville upgrades   Martinsville Speedway officials announced Friday the largest one-year capital expenditures project in the 56-year history of the track. Speedway president Clay Campbell unveiled plans that included construction of a new, six-lane entrance to the facility, moving the railroad tracks that parallel the speedway’s back stretch to allow for future expansion, and the addition of 2,000 high-rise seats. Work on the new entrance and seats will begin immediately after the running of the Virginia 500 on April 13. Those two projects should be completed in time for the Old Dominion 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race on October 19. A start-up date on the railroad shift has not been set, but the venture should be completed within a year. “Racing at Martinsville Speedway is more popular than ever, but to keep growing our fan base, we must continue to grow,” said Campbell. “But the very first thing we needed to address is getting traffic in and out of the track. “The present entrance was built in the early 1970s; we need something that represents our growth in the years since then.” The new entrance will be six lanes wide with four lanes for vehicular traffic and two for pedestrian traffic. It will begin at the site of the present entrance, then veer to the left and proceed through the middle of the large parking area on the left side of Speedway Road. The new road will intersect with Speedway Road near the souvenir and display area. The 2,000 new seats will be added in the first-and-second turn end of the track, and will be positioned above the suites in that area. When that section of suites was built in 2000, they were constructed with features to allow for seating expansion. The 2,000 new seats will increase the track’s seating capacity to 88,000. “The demand for tickets to Martinsville races keeps growing and we’ve got to keep up with that demand. That’s why we felt we needed to move quickly with these new seats,” said Campbell. “When fans want to buy a ticket to a race here, we want to make the best effort we can to have seats available.”

2/1/03

Kelley Racing gets #31 for Unser   Kelley Racing is pleased to announce that they have secured car No. 31 for driver Al Unser Jr. and the Corteco/Bryant entry for the 2003 IndyCar season. "There was a request from another team to change to the No. 7 car that had been on the Corteco/Bryant entry in the 2002 season," explained team owner Tom Kelley. "So when the topic came up about changing car numbers Al made an enthusiastic suggestion that he return to the No. 31 car. For Al, the first year (1994) he ran No. 31 on his car it was an incredible season for him. So knowing that, how could we say no?"

2/1/03
Industry News

Ford makes bigger push in China  This Autoweek article says, CHONGQING, China -- To the accompaniment of flamenco dancers and fireworks, a gold Fiesta subcompact rolled off the line at Ford Motor Co.'s assembly plant here last week to launch the U.S. automaker into China's red-hot passenger-vehicle market. With Job 1 behind it, Ford must move fast to catch up to a fast-developing market that exploded in 2002 to an estimated 1.1 million light vehicles after years of ho-hum performance. But China's passenger-vehicle market, effectively created 20 years ago by Volkswagen, has become jammed with formidable competitors. Besides Volkswagen, which still holds a commanding 41 percent share of the local market, the competition includes General Motors, which has a 150,000-unit plant in Shanghai and a claimed 10 percent of the market. Looming even larger on the competitive horizon are Japan's Big 3 - Toyota, Nissan and Honda. The three Japanese automakers have announced major expansions here that will create more than 1 million units of additional capacity a year. In the wings: Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia, awaiting final approval for plans to produce more than 500,000 cars a year. David Thursfield, Ford's president of international operations and head of global purchasing, isn't concerned by the towering competition. "We've probably come at the right time," Thursfield said at a press conference here. "We've hit the sweet spot of the market with the product we've got right now." Moreover, he said, Ford intends to expand its lineup and output rapidly as it races to catch up - both with its rivals and with China's surging demand. "The China auto market could be in excess of 5 million units in the next three or four years," Thursfield said. "It could be No. 2 or No. 3 in the world in the not-too-distant future - we can't afford to overlook that." [Editor's Note: Now you understand why CART and F1 want to be in China].

2/1/03

Red Bull stays with Sauber  The Austrian energy drink company Red Bull and Sauber Petronas will remain partners in 2003, it has been announced by the Swiss team. Red Bull - formerly shareholders in Sauber - have extended their sponsorship contract by one year. The Red Bull presence on the car will be the same as in the 2002 season. "Together with all team members I'm delighted that our partnership with Red Bull will go into its ninth year," said Team Principal Peter Sauber. "During this long period, Red Bull has been a fundamental support for the team and has thus contributed to our success. Our main sponsors Petronas, Credit Suisse and Red Bull form a solid basis for a successful future of the team."

2/1/03

Mario Andretti reveals how Ron Dennis never paid Michael  In this 2-part PitPass interview, Mario Andretti says, "That year Senna was not going to sign, so he (Dennis) signed up Michael for quite a bit of money, a considerable amount of money, he could afford it because they were not paying Senna. So what happened was that when Senna decided to sign the contract, by then Ron had secured Hakkinen from Lotus, and then two things happened. One; he could not afford to pay Senna and Michael. So Michael, all of a sudden, these were skipped payments, he wasn't getting paid. And in addition he wasn't giving Michael any testing. Michael was begging to test, but he had to give miles to Hakkinen, because all of a sudden Hakkinen (who had been head-hunted from Lotus) was not driving in the races. It put pressure on and he said to Michael obviously to save face that he had to get Michael to cut at the end of the season. I begged Ron Dennis to let him run but to no avail. Michael didn't get paid in 2 years. Nobody knows that but he became the fall guy for a blunder that Ron Dennis created for himself. It left Michael with a terrible taste. He was destroyed about all of that." "Michael had no testing that year (Like other rookie F1 drivers have nowadays), he had never run the car. The only thing he did was a bit on the year old car, and I think he was doing incredibly well considering. At Magny-Cours he had a great race, he started eighteenth and finished fourth. "After Magny-Cours they tested, just him and Senna, they tested two days and Michael was a tenth away from Senna all through the time."  The entire interview is a must-read, and shows why Mario Andretti is a true legend.

2/1/03

Priestly describes horror of being another oval wall victim   This is one race driver who will only be doing road racing in the future.  In his first public interview since the crash which nearly claimed his life, Priestley told ABC's 20/20 that thoughts of fellow actor Christopher Reeve were constantly in his mind. "I was really, really terrified that that was gonna be me," says Priestley. "I actually checked out and for some reason I got sent back," recalls Priestley. "They tell me that when they were pulling me out of the car and they pulled my helmet off, my nose was pushed so far up into my forehead, they could actually see into my sinuses. And look into my head." Priestley was making a final practice run on August 11 in preparation for the Pro Series race at Kansas Speedway when he lost control and slammed head on into wall at 182 mph. He caromed off the wall and suffered a second impact before coming to a stop. When paramedics arrived, there was no immediate signs of life. Priestley's face was smashed almost beyond recognition. He suffered serious injuries to his feet and back. He underwent extensive surgery to repair his eye socket, his nose and to fuse his broken vertebrae. Priestley admits that his dream of qualifying and racing in the Indianapolis 500 may have to be put on hold - at least for the foreseeable future.  "I don't know if I would be able to take a car into the corners with the velocity that you need to, to compete in, in that race," he tells 20/20. "I don't think you can go through something like this without being changed by it."   Priestley has gone on record as only doing road racing if he ever gets back behind the wheel. 

2/1/03

 

Bruton Smith fighting higher taxes in Vegas   Las Vegas Motor Speedway would like to secure another NASCAR Winston Cup race, but Gov. Kenny Guinn's proposed tax plan could be an obstacle, track owner Bruton Smith said Thursday. Smith said he would like to add one Cup race to the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400, scheduled for March 2. Speedway Motorsports Inc. would have to purchase a track and shift its race to the speedway, or buy an existing event from another track. "If we're fortunate enough to buy a speedway or buy a race, it goes to Vegas," Smith said Thursday by telephone from his office in Charlotte, N.C. But he said proposed tax increases in Nevada could be a problem. "If all the stuff I'm reading is true, we may not be able to," he said. Smith was referring to Guinn's plan for a 7.3 percent tax on admission to professional sporting events and increases in property tax and gross receipts on all business revenue over $450,000. "We're a young business there and we're looking at all of those taxes. It's not right," he said.  More...

2/1/03

Grand-Am Series losing interest  Whereas the entry list for the ALMS Sebring 12-Hours is at an all-time high, judging by the number of entries for this weekend's Grand-Am Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, it might be close to falling off the radar screen. New rules from the Grand American Road Racing Association have chased many teams away. A new Daytona Prototype apparently isn't popular with car owners who are tired of building and rebuilding their expensive fleet of cars. Instead of the customary 75 to 80 cars Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, there are but 44 entries for the premier twice-around-the-clock endurance race in America.  Oval track magnet Bill France, created the Grand-Am series and molded it to the dumbed down low-tech formula that is stock car racing, but it has never really caught on.  Some think the series was created to prevent Don Panoz and his ALMS series from getting too powerful and gaining market share and taking potential sponsors away from NASCAR.  That is all conjecture of course, but coincidentally,  Indy Car racing floundered when the IRL was formed.  CART was also predominately a road racing series and gaining power.  Bill France was very supportive of the IRL being created, many think to stave off the advances being made by another road racing contingent.  The war goes on between ALMS and Grand-Am, and so far ALMS has been able to maintain the advantage with its higher-tech formula.  Whether or not it was Bill France's tactic to conquer and divide, so far it's working.

2/1/03

Latest F1 Hot News 

Bridgestone Respond To Minardi
Head Riled By Coulthard Appraisal
Verstappen Happy At Minardi
Williams Buck The Commercial Trend
FW25 Not Radical, Head Insists
Schumacher Expects McLaren Challenge
Ralf Lines Up 2003 Williams Wins
Montoya Hopes For Winning Car
Frustrating Day At Valencia Track
Cosworth Unveil Own Dynamometer
Berger Yet To Decide On Future
Williams Drivers Raring To Go
Schumacher Backs HANS Device

2/1/03

CART sponsor bullish on series  This Portland Tribune article, written by Jason Vondersmith (who was all CART doom and gloom last year), says, Norm Daniels once said CART should pack its bags and go home. Today, he has invited the racing series to stay — for another year, at least. “I believe the series will continue to stabilize every week they get one more issue behind them,” says Daniels, president of G.I. Joe’s, which recently agreed to sponsor the Championship Auto Racing Teams event at Portland International Raceway in 2003. “In business, you do what you have to do. At the end of the day, maybe you end up with something that is pretty special,” Daniels says. “It’s a gamble. We think it’s a good bet.” On death’s doorstep last January, and on life-support all last year, CART has survived. Twenty races have been scheduled for 2003, starting Feb. 23 at St. Petersburg, Fla., and including one, June 22, at PIR.  More....

2/1/03

CART stock watch  

Today's NYSE Trading In MPH
MPH closed at $3.64 Up $0.36 on Volume of 155,600 shares.
Session Low/High $3.75 / $3.22
MPH Value Change Down 2.64%
DOW Jones Up 108.61
NASDAQ Down 1.44
S&P 500 Up 11.08

1/31/03

Andretti test photos   Here are some photos of Michael Andretti recently testing his new Dallara Honda at Homestead (courtesy of Andretti.com).

1/31/03

Indy 500 ticket sales lagging badly  UPDATE Since tickets are not selling as well as expected (usually sold out by now), Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced Jan. 31 that reserved tickets for the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 will be sold online at www.imstix.com as well as through traditional methods. United States Grand Prix tickets were available online in 2002. Beginning at 8 a.m. (EST) Saturday, Feb. 1, 2003, tickets for all days of on-track activity in the Month of May – including a limited supply of reserved seats for the 2003 Indianapolis 500 – will go on sale at www.imstix.com. In addition to gate tickets for all days, fans can purchase parking passes for official IMS parking lots online. Tickets for the Brickyard 400 practice day Aug. 1 and for the True Value International Race of Champions event Aug. 2 are available at imstix.com, but any remaining reserved seats for this year’s Brickyard 400 will not be sold online until April. “The Speedway debuted this online ticket system in 2002 for the USGP,” said Peggy Swalls, IMS vice president of administration, who directs the ticketing department. “It worked so well, we adjusted the timetable to be able to sell reserved 500 and 400 tickets on the Web. When you are dealing with a venue the size of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a project like this becomes monumental.” IMS traditionally sells all of its reserved tickets for the Indianapolis 500, but at any given time throughout the year tickets can become available. General admission tickets always are available for the massive infield, even on race day. “Customers are always encouraged to call to check on their upgrade status, review their account or check on ticket availability,” said Joie Chitwood, IMS senior vice president of business affairs. “When the upgrade process through renewal orders is finally completed, tickets often do become available. We’re excited that some of these tickets are available to kick off this new feature of imstix.com.”    1/29/03 -  Normally the Indy 500 sells out all its seats by June or July following each Memorial Day race.  However, even with Ganassi, Penske, Andretti Green, Nunn, Toyota, Honda, etc dumping CART for the IRL, interest in this years Indy 500 may be at an all-time low.  According to this Brickyard webpage, tickets are still available in most grandstands.  This is unheard of.  Will they eventually sellout?  Probably, but it's clear by the lackluster TV ratings, and now slow ticket sales, that interest in the Indy 500 is waning.  AR1 has long maintained that NASCAR has sucked the oval track market dry in the USA, leaving little left for open wheel racing.  Chris Pook is well aware of this, and has correctly positioned CART to be the premier road racing series in North America.  Now in bed with Bernie Ecclestone, there's little doubt where CART's future lies.  With that said, the Indy 500 is still a very special race.  You don't just erase all the heritage and history the event holds.  However, it's now possible last years finish controversy that left many people believing Paul Tracy was cheated out of a win (CART's third in a row), has done more damage to the Indy 500's reputation than we first thought. Another possible reason is the economy, but CART ticket sales are up.  Beating a dead horse, where's my fork?

1/31/03

Menard & Cheever joint technology effort   Red Bull Cheever Racing will participate in the eighth annual IRL Test in the West Feb. 3-8 at California Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.  Led by veteran F1 technical director Bernard Dudot, Menard Cheever Technologies (MCT) will be in full force at the Test in the West. The MCT crew will provide engineering and development strategies for both Red Bull Cheever Racing and Team Menard.

1/31/03

Happy Birthday Buddy   Today is is Buddy Rice's 27th birthday. He was born at Good Samaritan hospital in Phoenix, Ariz. Raised in Phoenix, Buddy now lives less than a mile from his parents Bud and Nancy.   "I am anxious to get in the car at California and Phoenix for the Test in the West. We saw a little bit of what the other teams had at Homestead, but this will be a better measure. Still we are concentrating on what we need to get done. We have a limited number of  test days and a lot of work to do with our new Red Bull Dallara-Chevy package. For the first time this year Eddie will be testing with us which will help with this work load. It will be an important week for us."

1/31/03

Rick Shaffer takes PR role for American Spirit  For the past two years, Rick Shaffer served as editor of CART.com. However, he recently made a career change and will be handling the public relations duties for the new American Spirit Team Johansson and drivers Jimmy Vasser and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Rick has been involved in Champ Car racing since the late 1980s when he covered the sport for The Indianapolis Star. From 1993 to 1998, he handled the public relations for Bettenhausen Motorsports and drivers Stefan Johansson, Patrick Carpentier and Helio Castroneves. After authoring the Autocourse CART History book in 1999, he also did some for PR work for Stefan’s Indy Lights team. It is through his years of association with Stefan that he now finds himself working with him again.

1/31/03

Alex Yoong - the Chinese connection Alex Yoong is the only Chinese driver (actually he is 1/2 Chinese and 1/2 Malaysian) driver on the horizon who is prepared to compete at the top levels of open wheel racing. This is extremely important for both F1 and CART as they look to break into the Chinese market. Without a Chinese driver on the grid, it's going to be difficult, if not impossible, to get the Chinese fans excited about F1 or CART.  Both CART and F1 would be well served to start grooming some young Chinese drivers for their series, because right now Alex Yoong isn't driving in either series, meaning when CART and F1 arrive in China, they'll likely be scratching their heads and wondering why the Chinese are complacent about the racing.  Both series need to start building fan interest in China now, years before actually racing there.  There are many possible ways to achieve this through TV, and to the benefit of the sponsors.  For example, if BAT wants to push their tobacco products in China, they cannot rely on TV because advertising of tobacco on TV is banned in China. So a company like BAT can resort to event sponsorship or team/driver sponsorship to associate their imagery with the excitement of motorsports. F1 is expensive but they have implemented a voluntary self imposed withdrawal of tobacco sponsorship by 2006. Such is not the case for CART. What better than to have Champ Cars in China with an Asian driver of Chinese ethnic origin - - a win-win partnership for both BAT and CART! Similarly products like Budweiser, McDonalds or Ford may want to advertise on Chinese TV to reach the Chinese consumer. If Champ Cars are in China and all races televised on Beijing TV as rumored, these American products can sponsor the teams or the series (Ford does now so Ford probably wants CART to be in China to get the added value) and transfer some portion of their product advertising budgets that would have gone to Chinese TV, to the teams, or to CART directly, to achieve product exposure on the sidepods of race cars or on drivers uniforms. 

1/31/03

Minardi lodges complaint against Bridgestone  UPDATE Bridgestone has released a statement regarding the confusion surrounding its negotiations with Minardi. "Following recent speculation regarding the supply of Bridgestone tires to the Minardi Formula 1 team for the forthcoming 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship, Bridgestone Motorsport would like to clarify the situation," the statement read. "Bridgestone received a request from the Minardi team regarding the supply of tires for the forthcoming season in October 2002 and this request was carefully considered. During this time, Minardi continued to test with tires supplied by Bridgestone's rival. Bridgestone subsequently explained its situation to the Minardi team." "Following a second enquiry seen by Bridgestone in the New Year, Bridgestone agreed to reconsider Minardi's request and sent a proposal to the team for the supply of tires for the 2003 season. Negotiations between the two parties are currently taking place." "However, for legal and insurance reasons, until all formalities have been completed it will not be possible to supply Bridgestone tires." "Bridgestone is looking forward to a successful conclusion to the negotiations with Minardi."   1/30/03 - Paul Stoddart: “It is with regret that Minardi must face the fact that Bridgestone does not want to provide us with tires. We are sadly forced to lodge a complaint to the FIA, as we believe Bridgestone is under obligation to provide us with tires if we look at the 2003 rules. After more than three months trying to come to an agreement, I can safely state that we were never able to get in touch with Hiroshi Yasukawa, director at Bridgestone Motorsport. I wasn't able to talk to him, let alone meet with him. I can't believe a corporation such as Bridgestone deals in this fashion with some of their clients. Because of this lack of communication, Minardi wasted two testing days, which we would have liked to avoid knowing the current circumstances.” 

1/31/03

Latest F1 Hot News 

New Sponsors For Sauber And Williams
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JV Not About To Cross Atlantic
Renault V10 Still Down On Power
Da Matta Expects Tough Rookie Year
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David Coulthard: We Will Claw Back
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1/31/03

 

Switch to Chevy decals not slowing Stewart   [Editor's Note - all the bodies are identical now, so what they are calling a switch is simply a change in the headlight decals to look like a Chevy]  Tony Stewart’s race team made a bold move switching from Pontiacs to Monte Carlos following its championship season in 2002. So far, the switch is working out just fine. Stewart completed the second day of a two-day test Wednesday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and says he’s ready to embark on defending his title. "If we were going to make a switch this was the year to do it," Stewart said. "The Pontiac was making a body-style switch this year anyway, and the two cars are not that different. We still need to wait until there are more cars here, but we’ve come back with the same setups as last year and it’s working out alright." Stewart was one of 26 NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series teams testing at LVMS in preparation for the March 2 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 and March 1 Sam’s Town 300. "We’re still working just as hard as we did last year," Stewart said. "That’s why we’re here. At the same time, that also lets us concentrate on having a good time this year. I’ve said it 100 times and I’ll say it 101, we don’t feel a lot of pressure. After last year, we’ve proven that we could pretty much go through the worst circumstances and still win a championship. We don’t have to prove that to anybody anymore." Stewart also turned the week’s fastest lap on Wednesday by circling the 1.5-mile superspeedway in 32 seconds (168.750 mph). Teammate Bobby Labonte (32.51, 166.103 mph) and rookie Casey Mears (32.60, 165.644 mph) were next on the speed chart. Kevin Harvick turned the fastest lap by a Busch car running a lap in 32.75 seconds (164.885 mph).

1/31/03

Kansas a sellout?   Season tickets for the 2003 Kansas Speedway schedule have sold out, a package that includes the Kansas Indy 300 for the IRL IndyCar Series and the Aventis Racing For Kids 100 for the IRL Infiniti Pro Series on July 6. All 80,187 season tickets have been sold for the 1.5-mile oval in Kansas City.  The only reason they are sold out is because fans are forced to buy the season ticket package to get a NASCAR Winston Cup ticket.  Rest assured, it would not be a sellout if not for that.

1/31/03

Priestley interview   Jason Priestley, who suffered serious injuries in an Infiniti Pro Series practice accident last August at Kentucky Speedway (another oval wall victim), will talk about his road to recovery with co-host Barbara Walters on ABC’s “20/20” on Friday, Jan. 31. The one-hour show starts at 10 p.m. (EST). Check your local listings.

1/31/03

Autocourse CART Official Champ Car Yearbook 2002-2003  by Jeremy Shaw  Officially endorsed by CART, this yearbook celebrates its tenth year of publication. This beautifully illustrated book relates the story of another thrilling CART Fed Ex series racing season and includes profiles of the 2002 Champion and other leading personalities. It also features detailed reports of each round of the series, glorious full-color photography throughout and team-by-team review with the latest team developments combined with topical features and comprehensive statistics and results. All these elements make this a must have title. Hardcover, 9-1/2 x 12-1/2, 192 pp, 250 color photos.
Pre-order and save 30%  List Price: $34.95 Price: $24.47

1/30/03

Lavín third Atlantic Series graduate to Champ Cars Bolstering the position of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship's position as the top rung of the Champ Car Ladder System, Walker Racing and owner Derrick Walker today announced that 2001-02 Toyota Atlantic competitor Rodolfo Lavin has signed-on to drive alongside British rookie Darren Manning in a two-car assault in the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.   More......

1/30/03

Alex Zanardi interview  Here is a link (Real Audio - 27 minutes) to an interview by BBC Radio with Alex Zanardi from his boat in Monaco.  Alex makes some interesting comments about his accident and his future.

1/30/03

Record 65 entries for 12-Hours of Sebring   One of the most diverse and competitive fields of sports cars to be assembled in modern times will race in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the opening event of the 2003 season for the American Le Mans Series that will be run Mar. 12-15 at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway. The event will be the 51st running of America’s oldest sports car race and will open the fifth season for the American Le Mans Series, which started in 1999. The popularity of the event has led IMSA, the sanctioning body for the American Le Mans Series, to make the unprecedented move of accepting all 65 entries for the race that were submitted before the deadline of January 29. Although pit road at Sebring typically accommodates 60 cars, IMSA officials have agreed to take whatever action necessary to be able to start up to five additional cars in the race. The 65 entrants will be sent event invitations and will have until 5 p.m. (U.S. Eastern) on Monday, February 3, to accept the invitations and confirm their participation in the race.

1/30/03

Ford on prov. pole, Chevy faster for Rolex 24   The Rolex Sports Car Series held first round qualifying for this weekend's 41st Rolex 24 At Daytona today at Daytona International Speedway. Scott Maxwell put the #88 1-800-PITSHOP.COM Ford Focus Daytona Prototype of Multimatic on the pole with a 115.969 mph lap in 1:50.512, however it was Justin Bell clocking the quickest time in the #40 Xtremelens Corvette of Derhaag Motorsports with his 1:49.394 lap at 117.155 mph.  More....

1/30/03

Walker Racing announcement transcript  Here is a link to the full transcript of today's Walker Racing 2-car team announcement.

1/30/03
Industry News

Infineon Raceway safety upgrades  Infineon Raceway began work this week on three track enhancements designed to increase rider safety for the AMA Supercuts Superbike Challenge, presented by Honda of Milpitas, May 2-4. Raceway officials have redesigned Turns 1, 10 and 11, further demonstrating the facility’s commitment to making Infineon Raceway one of the safest tracks in the country for motorcycles. The redesigned portions will be used strictly by the AMA and the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School. The traditional road course will be used for all other events at Infineon Raceway, including NASCAR Winston Cup and the American Le Mans Series. The changes were made with the aid of AMA Superbike riders Eric (Kawasaki) and Ben Bostrom (Honda), Miguel Duhamel (Honda), Aaron Yates (Suzuki), and AMA Road Race Manager Ron Barrick, who visited the track two months ago. The enhancements will be in place for an AMA Superbike test session at Infineon Raceway on March 20. Turn 1 has been a sweeping left-hander, putting riders at a dangerous angle as they approach a pedestrian bridge at the apex of Turn 1. Once the work is complete, the track will be extended 50 feet in a straight line before entering Turn 1. Riders will then make a left turn at approximately 90 degrees, which is designed to direct them away from the bridge and up the circuit toward Turn 2. "I think that the commitment the raceway is showing the riders is great," said Eric Bostrom, who placed second in the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship last season. "This place is going from one of the most dangerous tracks in the past to becoming one of the more safer tracks. The track is showing that it wants to make a commitment to rider safety and that's important. We don't see that everywhere we go." The entry into Turn 10, considered the fastest segments of the road course with speeds approaching 160 mph, will also be altered to increase rider safety. As riders crest Turn 8A, they will no longer continue down the famous esses. Instead they will continue down a straight line for 900 feet, parallel with the Hillside Terraces at Turn 9, before making a 90-degree right-hand turn, followed by a sharp left-hand turn, which will blend them back with the original road course just before Turn 10. This alteration will slow the bikes down substantially, lowering the risk entering Turn 10. The final safety enhancement will occur at Turn 11, which will see the entry shortened by approximately 40 feet. The change will direct riders away from the wall as they exit the hairpin turn and direct them toward the start/finish line. This marks the second change to Turn 11, which was shortened by two-tenths of one mile in 2000 to provide riders with nearly 300 additional feet of runoff room. All three changes demonstrate Infineon Raceway’s commitment to rider safety. Increased run-off was added at virtually every turn on the road course during a $50 million Modernization Plan, and the racing surface has also been permanently separated from the slick drag strip. "I think the input from the riders is going to help make this placer safer, and that's the important thing," said Duhamel. "We want it safer and more fun for the riders but we also want it to be exciting for the fans. That's the ultimate mix. I'm just glad the track took the time to get our input."

1/30/03

Thursday test times from Valencia  Weather: Sunny and strong winds Temperature: Track 18°; Air 13° (Track Length: 4.005 kilometers)

Names Chassis Laptime Laps
1. David Coulthard McLaren 1m.10.977s 48
2. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber 1m.11.109s 43
3. Alexander Wurz McLaren 1m.11.123s 66
4. Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1m.11.308s 96
5. Nick Heidfeld Sauber 1m.11.418s 50
6. Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1m.11.521s 62
7. Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan 1m.11.709s 62
8. Olivier Panis Toyota 1m.11.931s 63
9. Luca Badoer Ferrari 1m.12.105s 40
10. Jacques Villeneuve BAR 1m.12.119s 71
11. Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar 1m.12.329s 62
12. Jenson Button BAR 1m.12.404s 62
13. Cristiano Da Matta Toyota 1m.12.414s 77
14. Jos Verstappen Minardi 1m.15.182s 47

Best Times To Date
Date Driver Team Tires Time Speed/Gap
23-Jan Kimi Raikkonen McLaren M 1:10.647 126.839 mph
22-Jan Juan Pablo Montoya WilliamsF1 M 1:10.794 0.147
30-Jan David Coulthard McLaren M 1:10.977 0.330
29-Jan Alexander Wurz McLaren M 1:11.095 0.448
30-Jan Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber B 1:11.109 0.462
30-Jan Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1:11.308 0.661
30-Jan Nick Heidfeld Sauber B 1:11.418 0.771
30-Jan Michael Schumacher Ferrari B 1:11.521 0.874
28-Jan Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan B 1:11.703 1.056
28-Jan Olivier Panis Toyota M 1:11.867 1.220
24-Jan Marc Gene WilliamsF1 M 1:11.901 1.254
28-Jan Mark Webber Jaguar M 1:11.952 1.305
30-Jan Luca Badoer Ferrari B 1:12.105 1.458
30-Jan Jacques Villeneuve BAR B 1:12.119 1.472
30-Jan Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar M 1:12.329 1.682
30-Jan Jenson Button BAR B 1:12.404 1.757
30-Jan Christiano da Matta Toyota M 1:12.414 1.767
28-Jan Gary Paffett McLaren M 1:12.890 2.243
28-Jan Takuma Sato BAR B 1:13.118 2.471
30-Jan Jos Verstappen Minardi A 1:15.182 4.535
29-Jan Justin Wilson Minardi M 1:17.192 6.545

1/30/03

 

Ford hires Pemberton   One of the most respected and well-liked personalities in auto racing will be joining Ford Racing as Greg Specht, Manager of Ford Racing Operations, announced today that former Winston Cup crew chief Robin Pemberton has been hired as the manufacturer's NASCAR Field Manager. Pemberton, who assumes his new duties on Feb. 1, has signed a multi-year agreement and will be responsible for overseeing Ford's development in the NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series. He will attend key test and wind tunnel sessions, in addition to being available at the race track on selected weekends. "This isn't a new idea at all for us. We've been wanting to have someone in this Field Manager role for a couple of years, and we just wanted to make sure we had the right person for the job," said Specht. "When Robin became available, we contacted him right away. "Having someone like Robin with 25 years experience inside the sport, working closely with NASCAR and with the teams ... well, that's just not something we can do as well on a regular basis from up here in Dearborn," added Specht. "He'll be able to go on our behalf to team shops to discuss pressing issues, or go to NASCAR and have meetings ... and be able to do those things on a very regular basis." The addition of Pemberton, a native of Ballston Spa, NY, reunites Ford with the man who played a major role in the development and success of Taurus. Pemberton and his Penske South crew did much of the aerodynamic work on what became the first full-time four-door entry in NASCAR Winston Cup. He led an effort that produced the first race Taurus ever built, and was rewarded when Rusty Wallace took the new car to Victory Lane in its inaugural race - the 1998 Budweiser Shootout.  Press Conference transcript

1/30/03
Industry News

LeMans on DVD  One of the better racing movies of all time, LeMans, starring Steve McQueen, can now be pre-ordered on DVD.  You can pre-order online and get a 25% discount by clicking here.

1/30/03

Fernández tours Monterrey track  According to this El Norte article, [Translation by Ed McFarlane] The developments in the CART track surprise Adrian. By Enrique Guadarrama/El Norte Monterrey, Mexico.- Adrian Fernandez showed surprise at the advances and the work which has have been carried out in the Fundidora Park for the Monterrey Grand Prix. The pilot and owner of Fernandez Racing did a tour of the Fundidora Park circuit accompanied by the Governor Fernando Elizondo and the Mayor of Monterrey, Felipe de Jesus Cantu. Adrian is the first pilot of the CART series to visit the Monterrey circuit, where on 23rd March 2003 the second race of the season will be held. "I am very pleased with the developments, I congratulate the organizers because this race is consolidating and I hope that it continues to be one of the most important in the CART calendar." said the Mexican driver. The Mexican maintains that he will remain competitive in the series despite the arrival of new drivers. At the end of the tour, Adrian, the Governor and Mayor posed before dozens of photographers

1/30/03

Homestead race a Brazilian affair   Brazilians have the opportunity to support their fellow countrymen and celebrate "CARNAVAL", in a special Brazilian cheering section during the Toyota Indy 300, the IRL IndyCar Series season-opener, February 28 - March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. A total of six Brazilian drivers: Helio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran, Tony Kanaan, Felipe Giaffone, Airton Dare, and Vitor Meira, are expected to compete in the Toyota Indy 300 at speeds exceeding 200 miles-per-hour at Homestead-Miami Speedway. All six Brazilian drivers come to the Toyota Indy 300 with outstanding credentials. Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske, is the two-time defending champion of the Indianapolis 500. De Ferran, also of Marlboro Team Penske, won the Champ Car championship in 2000 and 2001 before moving to the IRL IndyCar Series in 2002. Kanaan, along with Michael Andretti and Dario Franchitti, is part of the Andretti Green Racing team that will be making its IRL IndyCar Series debut at the Toyota Indy 300. Giaffone, of Mo Nunn Racing, who finished fourth in IndyCar Series driver points last season. Dare was the IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year in 2000, and Meira sat on the pole at last year's IndyCar Series season finale at Texas. Four of the six Brazilian drivers currently reside in South Florida, making Homestead-Miami Speedway a popular venue to open the 2003 season. "It's always nice to have the atmosphere and weather that we've had in Miami." said Castroneves. "So if people miss this race, they are going to miss a good show. People don't miss it; it's going to be a good one." "I love it here at Homestead-Miami Speedway," added de Ferran. "This is the home track for me, since we live just north of here. To have the season opener here it's fun, there's a lot of friends and family that come over here. Psychologically, it's great to have the season opener here, it's next to my home, friends and family."

1/30/03

F1 TV numbers not down as much as feared  F1 television audiences for 2002 were not as low as was previously reported, according to a new investigation conducted by international research company Sports Marketing Surveys. They report that the overall global decline in people watching the sport was down 8%, far lower than previously claims that the 'drop-off' had been in the region of 15%. Although the number of people tuning in to watch live broadcasts from qualifying and the race itself was down 14% overall, other dedicated timeslots for Formula One programs have made this fall less substantial. In Hungary, where coverage of the sport switched from M1 to the popular RTL channel, 5% more people watched compared to 2001, although in the UK viewing figures are down 11% compared to 10% and 9% declines in Germany and Italy respectively.

1/30/03

Russians to drive in 12-Hours of Sebring   Nikolay Fomenko and Alexey Vassiliev aren't just adding depth to the field at the Twelve Hours of Sebring -- they're making history. The duo will be the first Russian drivers to compete in the Sebring race in its 51-year history and are believed to be among the few ever to compete in any major automobile race in the United States. Fomenko and Vassiliev, both of Moscow, will co-drive a Porsche 911 GT3 RS fielded by RWS-Yukos Motorsports of Switzerland in the ALMS 2003 season opener on March 15 in Sebring, Fla. Both drivers are veterans of auto racing, most recently as competitors in the FIA GT Series in Europe in 2001 and 2002. Fomenko, 40, has been racing since 1995 and is well-known in Russia as an actor, showman, TV and radio presenter. Vasiliev, 31, has been racing since he was 14 and has enjoyed success in karting, rallying, ice racing and in touring cars. In GT racing, they drove Porsches for a German team, TNK Racing.

1/30/03

Will new G-Force pierce other cars?   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I could not notice how long and pointy the nose of the new G-Force is.  I am concerned that in a side impact with another car at 220 MPH that it could pierce right through the side of another cars cockpit, possibly cutting the poor driver in half.  I have never seen a nose like that before.  Chuck Smith, Dallas, Texas  Dear Chuck, one would hope that the IRL has done impact tests with that nose to make sure what you suggest won't happen.  We saw what happened to Alex Zanardi, but CART and the IRL have beefed up the sides of their cockpits.  Let's just hope this new nose crushes before it pierces the cockpit wall.  Mark C.

1/30/03

 

Gordon's divorce could be most revealing   This Atlanta Journal article says Winston Cup drivers have often found themselves trying to outrun Jeff Gordon. In the past few weeks the top car owners on the NASCAR circuit have shown just as much determination in trying to keep Brooke Gordon's attorneys from getting a look at their team records. Jeffrey Fisher, who is representing Brooke Gordon in her divorce against the four-time Winston Cup champion, says he needs information about team contracts and drivers' pay to determine what Gordon is really worth. He has subpoenaed records from various competing teams. Most race team owners say their contracts with sponsors and drivers are private and should stay that way. Such deals are highly sensitive in NASCAR, where each car owner works out separate agreements with every individual. Fisher says he's not asking for anything that he and other attorneys haven't gotten in cases involving high-profile sports stars. He's also surprised by the unified resistance to his request. "This is the first time in my career in a case of this magnitude that I've received across-the-board refusals to give any meaningful type of information." Fisher said. He said all he wants is "legitimate and standard valuation information to do a comparative analysis of the value of [Jeff Gordon]'s equity in his race teams versus other race teams. . . ."We're trying to do it in the least intrusive way possible, but we do need information from the competitors, and I know of no reason why they won't give it to us.".......Geoff Smith, a veteran attorney who also is president of Roush Racing, said he and other race teams have filed a joint motion seeking to quash Fisher's subpeonas. "We reacted very strongly because the request is so far out of bounds that it's almost incomprehensible," Smith said, adding that the request is for every contract the team has in motorsports, including contracts with drivers, sponsors and licensees. "They've basically said, 'Give us everything you've ever had on paper and we'll decide whether we want to look at it,'" Smith said. "Nothing they asked for is proper to give up."

1/30/03

Johnson fastest in Vegas again   For the second straight day Jimmie Johnson led all drivers with the fastest lap in race trim. The No.48 Lowe's Chevrolet driver posted a time of 32.016 seconds (168.666 m.p.h.). Johnson was followed by his teammate/owner, four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon (168.010 m.p.h.), Las Vegas native Kurt Busch (167.681 m.p.h.), Steve Park (167.053 m.p.h.) and 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart (165.776 m.p.h.). Also testing at the 1.5-mile oval was Ward Burton, Todd Bodine, Mike Skinner, Jack Sprague, Greg Biffle, Johnny Benson and Jeremy Mayfield. Testing will continue Wednesday and Thursday with more than 22 teams expected to get in some track time.

1/30/03

Walker to announce Manning today  England's Darren Manning will be confirmed as a driver in Walker Racing's 2003 line-up later today (Thursday), according to AUTOSPORT magazine. Manning finished ninth in his one-off outing at Rockingham last year, and his chance for a fulltime drive came when Walker's deal with Mexican Roberto Gonzalez fell through last week. Team boss Derrick Walker has fielded Japanese drivers, including Shinji Nakano and Tora Takagi, over the past few years and said he was looking forward to working with Manning. "It'll be a hell of a relief to have somebody who thinks the way we do and drives his socks off for all the right reasons," said Walker. "It'll be a refreshing change." Manning said: "I haven't signed a contract yet, but I'm very excited. To race fulltime in Champ Cars is the kind of deal I've dreamed of."  We have updated our 2003 CART Silly Season Page.

1/30/03

Champ Car stars announce regional karting info  The Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow karting series released preliminary 2003 regional championship information today. The regional series serve to support the national series by providing driver training, track time, and support to the karting business infrastructure. “This announcement is the first step in a series of actions to put together a stable, effective regional series over the long term,” said Stars’ Operations Director Paul Zalud. “A great karting organization isn’t made overnight, or with just a single national series. Stars is here for a long time, and our efforts in the regions will help support vibrant karting competition and business.” Regional promoters and coordinators reflect a breadth of experience in karting, from Enzo Chiovitti, Tom Johnson, and Sally Mangham in the east to Mike Manning, Tim Holden, Kevin Williams, and George Durbin in the west. As a result of the merger with the WKA/SCCA Constructor’s Championship, the WKA will be involved with regions east of the Mississippi, and Stars classes may be included in some of the established WKA series. “It is important that we proceed deliberately and with reasoned decisions,” said Zalud. “Time is certainly a factor, but it takes far more time to reverse decisions and correct mistakes rather than making the right ones the first time. We welcome the experience of the WKA and the partnership with Randy Kugler in supporting the regional Stars programs.” A regional map with information on the series and coordinators can be found in the Racing section at www.cartstars.com. More regional announcements will be forthcoming as details are finalized.

1/30/03

Sauber signs new sponsor  Sauber and Vescal, one of the leading suppliers of heating systems in Switzerland, have signed a partnership agreement that is to run over a period of several years. Vescal supplies the concrete core heating system of the ultra-modern wind tunnel currently being built adjacent to the Sauber factory in Hinwil. "As a supplier of heating products, Vescal subscribes to the same values that distinguish Sauber: performance at high speed, perfection in delivering results and the personal commitment of all team members. That is why Vescal was selected as the supplier for the concrete core heating system of Sauber's new wind tunnel. It's a great way to launch a mutually beneficial co-operation for the next few years," said Jacques Sanche, Chief Executive of Vescal. Vescal is a leading Swiss supplier of heating systems. The company's business is heat production, water heating, heat release/distribution and heating system components. All of Vescal's activities are focused on a single objective: combining state-of-the-art products to create a perfectly coordinated heating system. This is why Vescal focuses on high-end products and strong brands, like Oertli, De Dietrich, Metalplast and Tabs.

1/30/03
Industry News

New Houston Superspeedway eyes CART, IRL and NASCAR  According to this Houston Business Journal article, a Houston-based investment group is shifting plans into high gear on a motor speedway development south of Houston. Star State Investments, a group of eight mostly local businessmen, is quietly acquiring land surrounding the proposed Brazoria County speedway, located at the intersection of Highway 288 and FM 1462. Last summer, Star State purchased 2,700 acres of land in the area and announced plans to build a tri-oval, 1.76-mile speedway — as well as a regional conference center, hotel and golf course — on the site. (See "Investor group revs up plans for motor speedway near Houston," July 19-25, 2002.) Star State this month purchased an additional 96 acres, bringing the total amount of land the group controls to nearly 2,800 acres. The additional land was acquired to build a grand entrance to the planned complex. Star State has hired prominent Houston firm Hermes Architects to create a master plan for the property. Firm principal Leroy Hermes was involved with a team of architects responsible for the design of Reliant Stadium, and has been responsible for a number of other high-profile public and private commercial real estate ventures. While the project sounds grandiose, it is still very much in its infancy. The property, most of which is prairie land, is all undeveloped. Alvin City Manager Paul Horn says Alvin officials are in support of the project. "It's going to be a big shot in the arm for our area," he says. Martin would not reveal the names of Star State's principals. However their resumes read as a "Who's Who" of corporate America. The partners comprise a former president of Coca-Cola Foods, a retired software executive, a Houston-based homebuilder, a former chief marketing officer of Pennzoil and two out-of-town businessmen with racing affiliations. Martin's background is in golf course development and consulting. The partners have personally invested in excess of $8 million in the project, which has been dubbed Brazoria Meadows. The racetrack will be called Houston Super Speedway, although a quest to bring in a corporate naming rights partner is under way. Initially, the facility will seat 75,000 patrons. A proposed second phase will increase capacity to 150,000 permanent seats. If all goes as planned, Star State expects the Houston racetrack to rival the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and the Kansas International Speedway in Kansas City, hosting sanctioned open-wheel and stock car races such as the NASCAR series, Championship Auto Racing Team (CART) and the Indy Racing League (IRL). The convention center came into play when the firm commissioned a feasibility study to determine demand for such a facility. Martin says the results indicated a healthy demand. "We're 25 miles from the Medical Center, we're on a highly accessible highway, and the Gulf Coast is comprised of a variety of petrochemical companies," he says. "I think we have enough corporate participation, and that gave us the confidence."

1/30/03

Latest F1 Hot News 

Jos The Boss Back On Track
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Reforms Not Good Enough: Sauber
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McNish Welcomes Rules Shake-Up
Montoya Talks Up Shoot-Out Challenge
Paul Ricard Earns Prize In Paris
New Commercial Director For Minardi
Jos Unfazed By Schumacher Contest

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