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DATE

News (chronologically)

2/12/03

Vegas almost a sellout   Las Vegas Motor Speedway announced today that all reserved seats for the March 2 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 NASCAR Winston Cup Series event are sold out. Race fans who have not yet purchased tickets for the sixth annual event still may attend the Winston Cup race by purchasing a special $88 "Triple Play" package. The Triple Play includes infield access for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400, a reserved seat for the March 1 Sam's Town 300 NASCAR Busch Series race and a general-admission seat for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event on Sept. 27. "Our ticket sales this year have been unprecedented, especially in a difficult economy,” said Chris Powell, LVMS' president and general manager. “I fully believe this points up several facts – that Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a great place to watch NASCAR racing, and that Las Vegas is a wonderful city to visit.” A number of stands will be erected in the infield area, and they will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. Some reserved handicap area tickets remain, as well as individual suite-access packages.

2/12/03

Waltrip trashes Vasser   UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, NASCAR is an alternative for the Indy Retirement League. Good ole boys Rusty & DJ & other 40 somethings would have no prayer of any success in CART.  DW has a very high opinion of himself...even when he was way overdue to retire he was talking like he was still a great driver. Jimmy Vasser realizes that his best open wheel days are behind him and rather than risk getting killed in the IRL against those concrete walls, he is going for the the money in NASCAR. Personally I hope he kicks ass and makes DW look even more foolish than he does now. Robert Lowe  2/11/03 - Darrell Waltrip trashed CART driver Jimmy Vasser today on Speed Channel Busch practice. Waltrip said that Vasser was talking down about stock cars years ago like they were not as good as open wheel...and why is he NOW here running in a stock car at Daytona.

2/12/03

Panoz Motorsports Group promotions    The Panoz Motor Sports Group has promoted two of its senior executives and has created and filled two new staff positions in its Braselton, Ga., headquarters. The Panoz Motor Sports Group is a holding company for the various motorsports interests of Don Panoz. Included are the American Le Mans Series, the Panoz Racing Series, the Panoz Racing School, Mosport International Raceway, Road Atlanta Motorsports Center and Sebring International Raceway. Scott Atherton, who has been President and COO of the Panoz Motor Sports Group since August of 2000, has been promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer. In addition, he has been named President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. Atherton was previously the President and General Manager of California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and held similar positions with Nazareth Speedway and Laguna Seca Raceway. He started his motorsports career in marketing with Domino’s Pizza. John Evenson, who has been Vice-President of Broadcast Administration for the Panoz Motor Sports Group since November of 2001, has been promoted to Vice-President of Communications/Television. Evenson will continue to be responsible for all aspects of television for the American Le Mans Series, as well as the American Le Mans Series Radio Web. His expanded duties include oversight of all communications functions, as well as promotions and creative services. Evenson’s sports industry career includes Vice-President positions with Turner Sports and the PGA Tour, as well as communications and television work with CART. He also worked in communications for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Filling the two newly-created positions are Paul Ryan, Director of Creative Services for the Panoz Motor Sports Group, and Annamae Meigher, Director of Merchandise Operations.

2/12/03

Ford responds to Toyota announcement   UPDATE This NASCAR.com article has some more interesting quotes about Toyota, some from none other than Richard Petty.  2/12/03 - DAN DAVIS, Director, Ford Racing Technology -- "We're not surprised, by any means. It's been well-known in the industry that they have been looking at the Craftsman Truck Series as a possible means to prepare for a Winston Cup effort. They certainly have been active looking for talent in the NASCAR garages already. We welcome the competition in NASCAR from any manufacturer. That's always been our approach when new competition comes into a series we participate in. We've competed against Toyota in other racing series, and we know how hard they compete as a manufacturer."

2/12/03

Alonso tops Wed. in Valencia  Testing resumed in Valencia Wednesday, and at the end of the day it was Fernando Alonso in the Renault sitting atop the time sheet, where there is usually a Ferrari, Williams or McLaren driver. Alonso wrapped up a three day test for Renault in the R23 Wednesday, evaluating new engine parts. "We had a useful final day with Fernando," said Technical Director Mike Gascoyne. "He completed a successful evaluation of new engine parts, and concluded a productive three days' work. We will continue our program next week in Barcelona."

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Fernando Alonso Renault M 1m11.30s 35
2 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1m11.38s 92
3 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m11.47s 44
4 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan-Ford B 1m12.01s 53
5 Mark Webber Jaguar M 1m12.45s 35
6 Jenson Button BAR-Honda B 1m12.57s 58
7 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m12.80s 60
8 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW M 1m12.98s 94

2/12/03

More on CART sues Road America   We have added a statement from the IRL to the story by Mark Cipolloni on the CART lawsuit against Road America.

2/12/03

Miami race lands sponsor    Grand Prix Americas, Downtown Miami’s premier auto street race, has secured Dark Dog energy drink as an exclusive partner for the 2003 race announced Chuck M. Martinez, president and general manager, Grand Prix Americas. The contract calls for a two-year partnership with the racing event. “The combination of their ALMS sponsorship and being headquartered in South Florida makes them a perfect fit as an exclusive partner of the Grand Prix Americas,” said Martinez. “We are thrilled to have Dark Dog involved with our event and look forward to a long and mutually rewarding partnership.” We are very excited about being involved with our community,” said Randy Ridenour CEO, Dark Dog America. “The fact the race is so close to home brings an extra added value to us both personally as well with business.” Grand Prix Americas, taking place September 26-28, 2003, is a historic event, bringing together two of North America’s premier road racing series. Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will join the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) promoting a “dual-headline” that makes the Grand Prix Americas one of the foremost motorsports weekends of the year. Earlier this month, Dark Dog America also announced it will be the primary sponsor of Team Bucknum Racing (TBR) and its Pilbeam MP91 entry in the LMP 675 class of the ALMS throughout 2003. Dark Dog (www.darkdogamerica.com) produces energy drinks, with natural guaraná caffeine and vitamins. Dark Dog is the first premium energy drink, which has been awarded with two high profile awards for outstanding quality. The company is a growing and dynamic organization, founded in Austria in 1995, and based domestically in Hollywood, Florida. Over the last seven years, Dark Dog has developed into one of the world’s strongest brands and is currently the number two energy drink in the world in terms of brand recognition.

2/12/03

CART sues Road America   UPDATE   For more on this, please see story by Mark Cipolloni on our home page.  2/12/03 - Road America, one of the most popular racetracks among Championship Auto Racing Teams drivers and fans, is being sued by the open-wheel racing organization. CART, which has raced annually at the four-mile track in Elkhart Lake since 1982, filed the suit Tuesday in federal court in Indianapolis, according to a release issued by Road America. Cheryl Barnes, the track’s director of communications, said as of Tuesday Road America officials had not seen the papers and were unaware of the nature of the lawsuit. Road America president and general manager George Bruggenthies said he anticipated this year’s CART weekend, set for Aug. 1-3, to go on as scheduled. “That’s been our intention … our plan up to this point,” he said. Neither Barnes nor Bruggenthies would comment further. Road America’s contract with CART runs through this season. Whether CART returns to Elkhart Lake next year and beyond is uncertain. CART president Chris Pook talked last month about his desire to stage events in bigger markets. The remarks led to speculation that CART and Road America would part company following this season’s race. Road America officials have dismissed that speculation. The CART weekend at Road America has consistently been Sheboygan County’s largest annual sporting event, bringing thousands of fans and millions of dollars in tourism revenue into the area. In 1995, ’96, ’98 and ’99, announced crowds of 75,000 spectators passed through Road America’s gates on CART race day and 115,000 for the weekends. In recent years, race day crowds have averaged about 60,000. Sheboygan Press

2/12/03

Bill Elliott withdraws   Bill Elliott is expected to announce today that he's withdrawing his name from the circuit's Most Popular Driver contest. Elliott has won the honor 16 times. So many that the National Motorsports Press Association, which runs the contest that allows fans to pick the winner, already has decided that whenever Elliott retires, the award will be renamed the Bill Elliott Trophy. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

2/12/03

ISC management changes, Jim France takes over   International Speedway Corporation Chairman William C. France, 69, announced Monday several changes to the Company's management team. James C. France, 58, who has served as ISC's President and Chief Operating Officer since 1987, will become CEO. William C. France, who has been CEO and Chairman since 1987 will continue as Chairman. Lesa D. Kennedy, 41, Executive Vice President of the Company, will become President. In addition, John R. Saunders, 46, ISC's Senior Vice President of Operations, will be named Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. All of the proposed management changes will take place at the Company's April Board meeting.  RIS

2/12/03

Ticket prices up at ISC tracks   Ticket prices for NASCAR Winston Cup races will increase about 3 percent next year, while Busch Series events will stay about the same at International Speedway Corp. tracks, company officials said Tuesday. At a few locations, such as Michigan International Speedway, the company will experiment with combination-ticket pricing, reducing Busch Series prices for fans who order their seats in advance. Those who wait until race day will pay higher admissions. Daytona International Speedway is not included in the experiment. DIS is offering backstretch combo tickets for the Feb. 15 Koolerz 300 race and the Feb. 16 Daytona 500 race in the $175-$220 range. Most front stretch seats already have been sold out. Daytona Beach News-Journal

2/12/03

NASCAR launches real-time PDA service   NASCAR is celebrating its new media offerings after revealing a new line in wireless content and breaking the 100,000 subscriber barrier for its paid-for live race coverage online. Digital Orchid Inc. has unveiled NASCAR.com To Go, a suite of real-time wireless NASCAR content applications, available to consumers on a variety of select mobile devices offered on the AT&T Wireless, Sprint PCS and T-Mobile networks. It is a subscription-based mobile service that gives subscribers access to view and share a variety of real-time NASCAR Winston Cup content via their wireless devices. Said Drew Reifenberger, executive vice president and general manager of Turner Sports Interactive and NASCAR.com: "It is no secret that our priority at NASCAR.com is to provide racing fans with the most complete and in-depth NASCAR experience possible when they can’t make it to the track. “This new service is a perfect extension of those ideals and another example of the ever evolving relationship between sports and technology, a union that we at NASCAR.com are excited to be ahead of the curve on.” Meanwhile, the official website of the motorsport says it has signed up more than 100,000 subscribers to its TrackPass since it launched last February. TrackPass provides online live race coverage for all NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series practice, qualifying and races, as well as access to NASCAR.com’s library of audio and video clips. Sportsbusiness.com

2/12/03

Daytona 500 not most important race   According to this Tampa Bay Tribune article, The Daytona 500 is NASCAR's biggest show. It pays the most money, attracts the most media and has the longest buildup. But with rules and other circumstances being different at Daytona than at most other tracks, does winning the 500 mean what it should? Heading into Sunday's 500, one prominent crew chief says no. ``I'm not saying the Daytona 500 is not a big race,'' said Frank Stoddard, crew chief for Ward Burton. ``It is a big race. I'm just saying that when I lay my head down on the pillow at night, it would mean more to me to win Indianapolis Brickyard 400 because I know it is not just about circumstances that happened on that day. ``You can go to Daytona and have the best car by three- tenths of a second and do nothing and have somebody knock you out of the race. But you can go to Indianapolis and if you're three-tenths quicker out there, unless you really screw something up, you have a good chance of winning that day.'' 

2/12/03

Tickets still available for Daytona 500   There are still some tickets available for the Daytona 500. "`We have always sold out the 500,'' said Kathy Catron, senior manager of publicity for Daytona International Speedway. "`But we still have some tickets left.'' The only tickets available are a combination package - the Daytona 500 and Saturday's Busch Series Koolerz 300 - selling for $175. They are available on the Internet at daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by phone at (386) 253-7223. If you just want to experience Daytona International Speedway, there are plenty of tickets available for Thursday's Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying races, Friday's Craftsman Truck Florida Dodge Dealers 250 and Saturday's Busch race. And infield tickets for the 500 are available for $90.

2/12/03
Industry News

Triathlon bike formerly owned by Paul Tracy  Offered for sale to AutoRacing1.Com Subscribers, a 2001 BP-1 Stealth Carbon fiber bike, very fast and extremely cool. .  See Classified page.

2/12/03

Home Depot not interested in replacing Winston   Home Depot doesn't plan to increase its commitment to NASCAR, even though the organization is seeking a new title sponsor for the Winston Cup Series. "We enjoy the relationship we have with NASCAR today," said Bob Nardelli, chairman, chief executive and president of Home Depot. "It's at the appropriate level." The Atlanta-based retailer sponsors driver Tony Stewart, the 2002 Winston Cup champion. Former Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs is Stewart's team owner. Last week, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which makes Winston cigarettes, and NASCAR confirmed that talks have taken place about a change in the title sponsorship. Limits on advertising by cigarette makers and the weak economy have R.J. Reynolds thinking about ending the partnership that started in 1971. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

2/12/03

Brooke gets Evernham   Ray Evernham was subpoenaed in Jeff Gordon's divorce case Tuesday, accepting the papers from a sheriff's deputy outside Daytona International Speedway. Brooke Gordon's lawyers want to look at the contracts NASCAR car owners have with their drivers and sponsors to determine what Gordon is worth as a car owner. The four-time Winston Cup champion owns a stake of Hendrick Motorsports. The car owners fought original subpoenas they received over the past month at their home offices, but the lawyers have been trying to serve them during preparations for Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 to get them to appear in a Florida court. NASCAR turned away a process server attempting to get into the track last week, and Evernham said officials from the sanctioning body asked him to go outside of the track on Tuesday to accept the papers. "NASCAR asked me to do it and to not make a scene about it," Evernham said. "So I did it because I care about this sport, unlike Mrs. Gordon, who is trying to make a circus of the Daytona 500." Evernham, who won three Winston Cup titles as Gordon's crew chief, was the best man at the Gordons' wedding. The subpoena orders Evernham to appear in court this Friday, but he said he would not be showing up. "I have 150 employees to worry about and two race cars to get ready for the biggest event of the year," he said. "I'm not stopping to go to court." Car owner Chip Ganassi said he was not served before he left Daytona on Monday to return to his home in Pittsburgh, but was told a deputy had been looking for him where he had been staying when he first arrived for the race. Roush Racing general manager Geoff Smith said his organization had not received an order to appear in a Florida court. (Fox/AP)

2/12/03

NASCAR starts big push into Europe   First the TV, then followed by European races?  And with Honda and Toyota coming in, soon to be followed by Japan, the rest of Asia and an eventual push to worldwide motorsports dominance, overtaking F1 as the biggest series?  Don't bet against it.  The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and the North American Sports Network (NASN), the new American sports television channel, have partnered to bring the entire 2003 season of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series live to sports and racing fans, a first for the United Kingdom and Ireland. Additionally, the entire 2003 season of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will be carried on the digital television channel which is available in more than 7.5 million homes on Sky (satellite) and ntl:home (cable). Live coverage of the 2003 NASCAR season on NASN starts with the Budweiser Shootout on February 8, 2003 leading up to the 45th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 16th. "We're pleased to bring the live action and great competition of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to our fans in the UK and Ireland. NASCAR's partnership with NASN helps us tap into an important motor sports market and provide additional exposure for our drivers, teams, tracks and sponsors," said Paul Brooks, vice president, broadcasting, NASCAR. "We are dedicated to bringing fans the best North American sports 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and our schedule is not complete without NASCAR," said Amory Schwarz, NASN chief operating officer. "NASN will broadcast the races live to ensure our viewers will enjoy the drama and excitement of NASCAR precisely as the action unfolds."

2/12/03
Industry News

Sony PDA for the discriminating race fan  Offered for sale to AutoRacing1.Com Subscribers, Sony Clié PEG-NR70V Personal Digital Assistant w/Palm OS 4.1.  See Classified page.

2/12/03

Infineon develops technology to eliminate need for F1 drivers  There are some people in F1 who think the technology rampage should continue because it's neat stuff.  The cars are already pretty automatic, with the driver only having to accelerate, brake and turn the wheel, and even that is all assisted.  However Infineon (Sears Point sponsor) has developed a technology that would make the need to have a driver in the cockpit of a F1 unnecessary.   Researchers at Infineon Technologies in Germany had developed new semiconductor technology that would allow scientists to read electrical signals in living nerve cells, the company said on Tuesday. Being able to read and record the signals, with the aid of computers, would help scientists better understand how the brain worked and could eventually lead to treatments for neurological diseases, like Alzheimer's, said Roland Thewes, senior director in corporate research at Munich-based Infineon. "For example, you could put slices from brain nerve cells on the chip, apply drugs and see how the nerve signals and cells react to a particular drug," he said in an interview. Infineon researchers worked with scientists at the Max Planck Institute, located outside Munich, on the new biosensor chip, dubbed the "Neuro-Chip". The Neuro-Chip, about the size of a fingernail, had 16,000 sensors that monitor electrical pulses in cells submerged in electrolyte nutrient fluid that coated the semiconductor and kept the neurons alive, Mr Thewes said. Amplifiers embedded in the circuitry enable each sensor to detect and process the low voltage signals throughout the different cell layers. The data can then be transmitted to a computer and eventually transformed into a color picture for analysis.  A future application that Ron Dennis would love could see a computer and sensors attached to Michael Schumacher's brain allowing him to drive his Ferrari from his living room at home.  While we don't expect this to happen, we only point out just how ridiculous the amount of technology in F1 that has taken the sport out of racing, and how bad it could get if not stopped now.  Mark C.

2/12/03

Latest F1 hot news items 

Defiant Renault Remain Confident
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2003 Is Go As Contenders Sizzle!
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Heidfeld To Snub HANS Debut
Schumacher To Decide This Season
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Life After F1 For Former Stars  

2/11/03

Tuesday test times from Paul Ricard 

Driver Team Tires Laps Time Speed/Gap
Kimi Raikkonen McLaren M 65 1:07.191 138.394 mph
Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 51 1:07.514 -0.323
David Coulthard McLaren M 72 1:07.796 -0.605
Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 40 1:09.947 -2.756

2/11/03

Daytona practice crash sends teams scrambling   A five-car crash during practice for the Daytona 500 sent three teams scrambling for backup cars to use in Thursday's twin 125-mile qualifying races. With the cars running in a big pack Tuesday, rookie Jack Sprague, riding between Mike Skinner and Steve Park, suddenly banged off Park. He then slid down the banking into Skinner, who went sideways. Jeff Burton and Elliott Sadler then drove into the melee. When the wreckage was cleared, the crews of Skinner, Burton and Sadler all had to pull their backups off their haulers to get them ready for the qualifying races. Sprague's crew said the nose of his car could be repaired and Park's had only a little sheet metal damage on the left rear quarter panel, near the tire. They will have one opportunity to practice Wednesday. "To the best of my knowledge, we got ran into by a rookie," Skinner said. "Whether he got pushed down there or not, I don't know." Sprague said: "I was in the middle, Park was on the outside and he didn't stay up and he hit me in the right front, drove me into Skinner and it was all over." Park refused to take the blame for starting the accident. "He bounced off me. I was up by the wall and couldn't go any higher except for the grandstands," he said. Dale Jarrett had the fast time in the practice at 188.494 mph. Skinner was fifth, Sprague was 12th, Park 19th, Burton 25th and Sadler 41st.

2/11/03

Schumacher stuns in new Ferrari debut  Michael Schumacher sent out a stunning warning to Ferrari’s rivals by breaking the lap record at Fiorano in his first time out in the F2003-GA today. Schumacher completed 78 trouble-free laps and went consistently quicker as the day wore on. Schumachers shaved the best part of half-a-second off the old lap record after setting a quickest time of 57.045s during his first day of testing in the new car at Ferrari's test track. Schumacher’s previous mark of 57.476s was set last summer in the F2002.

2/11/03
Industry News

Final phase of work at Infineon Raceway  Infineon Raceway has completed the on-track design work for three circuit enhancements, and workers have begun the final phase of the project: placing the asphalt. These changes are designed to increase rider safety at the AMA Supercuts Superbike Challenge, presented by Honda of Milpitas, May 2-4. The redesigned portions of track at Turns 1, 10 and 11 will be used strictly by the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship Series and 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 enhancements further demonstrate Infineon Raceway’s goal of becoming one of the safest AMA-sanctioned circuits in the country. A polymer-modified asphalt was used on the three portions of track. It is the same blend of asphalt that covers the entire circuit. 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. The track has been extended 50 feet in a straight line before entering Turn 1. Riders will now 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. The entry into Turn 10 has been 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, plus it should also turn into an exciting passing zone in front of the Hillside Terraces. 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. 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.

2/11/03

IRL on Channel 5 in the UK  In another AR1 exclusive, we have learned that IRL races will be televised on TV Channel 5 in the UK this year.  Channel 5 TV reaches 80%+ of the UK population via terrestrial TV.  Channel 5 will not televise CART races, they will be on Eurosport throughout all countries in Europe.

2/11/03

France tells Smith forget about it   According to this Dallas Forth Worth Star Telegram article, Texas Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith may be in a buying mood for racetracks in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. But Smith can forget about purchasing any facilities owned by corporate rival International Speedway Corp., to add to his Speedway Motorsports Inc. empire.  Bill France Jr., chairman of the family-owned ISC and NASCAR, has flatly dismissed the idea of selling any ISC tracks and their Winston Cup race dates to Smith.  "You know better than that," France said during an impromptu news conference at the Daytona International Speedway on Monday afternoon.  Reminded that Smith said during a Media Day visit to TMS in Fort Worth two weeks ago that he was in a "buying mood" for racetracks -- including those owned by ISC -- France replied, "Bruton, sometimes when he opens his mouth, he sounds constipated."  Joking that he had walked into the media center only to get out of the sun, France also touched on the following topics:

  • There is no hard deadline to implement NASCAR's proposed realignment plan for swapping Winston Cup race dates beginning in 2004, after a cool reception from series track operators/promoters.

  • "We've put a word behind that, called 'beyond' ... 2004 and beyond," France said.

  • The proposed schedule realignment is being undertaken, in part, to accommodate the wishes of NASCAR's network TV partners.

  • "For the amount of revenue they're [the networks] putting into the sport, we've got to pay attention to 'em," France said.

  • A proposal made by Smith to split NASCAR into two divisions to create more race dates has been deemed unworkable by the sanctioning body and likely would be rejected by its TV partners.

  • A major foreign manufacturer, rumored to be Toyota, is expected to announce its intention of joining the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this week.

  • At age 69, France is in good health after a protracted battle with cancer, as well as recovering from a triple bypass and surgery for a broken leg last year.

  • "I feel pretty good. I still kind of walk a little wobbly, like I've had a few drinks," France said.

  • "It's like you put your feet in a deep freeze and your head in a microwave oven. On average, you feel pretty good."

2/11/03

Watson turns down Jag  Former F1 star John Watson has turned down the role of 'front man' with the Jaguar F1 team, a role that Martin Brundle, another F1 driver turned commentator, also rejected. "I was flattered to even be considered for such a position," Watson told the Belfast Telegraph. "But I've decided it is not the role for me." "I had a couple of meetings with Tony Purnell," added the five-time GP winner. "And other senior members of the new Jaguar set-up and they outlined a wide-ranging and exciting concept. But I felt the terms and conditions of the job were not appropriate for me."

2/11/03

Newman receives Academy Award nomination  Legendary Oscar-winning actor and co-owner of Newman/Haas Racing Paul Newman has received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in last summer's Depression-era film, Road to Perdition. Newman portrayed mob boss John Rooney in the film, which also starred Tom Hanks and Jude Law. Road to Perdition tallied seven total nominations for this year's Academy Awards. Newman most recently earned an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as pool shark Eddie Felson in The Color of Money. Newman and co-owner Carl Haas earned their fourth Champ Car season championship when Cristiano da Matta won the 2002 title. The team's two cars carried the movie's logo on their rear wings for four races this past year, winning three of the four races. ABC will broadcast the Oscar ceremony live from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 23rd and the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season kicks off in St. Petersburg, Florida on February 23rd with the inaugural Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

2/11/03

Can the Union 76 balls be painted?   According to this Winston Salem Journal article, those bright orange Unocal balls at NASCAR tracks are soon to be replaced, after the decision of the parent company, ConocoPhillips, to pull out of NASCAR. Unocal, first as Pure, was one of this sport's first major sponsors, going back to the beach-racing days of the early 1950s. The debate now is whether those advertising balls will be painted ExxonMobil red-and-white or Shell yellow. Those are the two companies expected to make the biggest offers to NASCAR for the marketing rights. Why would ConocoPhillips, the nation's third-largest oil company, give up NASCAR rights? Company officials say it's because they plan to continue to market regionally with their various brands, not nationally.

2/11/03

Montoya breaks Valencia record  Today Juan Pablo Montoya lapped Valencia in 1m10.4s in his BMW-powered FW25, breaking the previous best set of 1m10.6s by Kimi Raikkonen in a McLaren-Mercedes set earlier this year.

2/11/03

Eurospeedway signs sponsor  EuroSpeedway has signed an agreement with Feldschlößchen AG Brewery it was announced.  Headquartered in Dresden, Germany, they will be the official beer company of Eurospeedway, though it was not announced if a specific brand name would be used.

2/11/03

Schumacher to decide on future  Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher said in interview due for publication on Wednesday that he will "most probably" decide this year whether he'll continue his racing career after his contract with Ferrari ends in 2004. "I'm in the lucky position that the decision depends mainly on me," the five-time world champion told Kicker magazine. "The car is changing so I have to change," said the 34-year-old. "The day when I don't do anything or don't want to do anything is also the day that I'd be better off giving up."

2/11/03

Sponsor for Fontana race   The Automobile Club of Southern California has signed a multi-year agreement to be the title sponsor for the April NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at the Southern California-based superspeedway. The Auto Club 500 is scheduled for April 27, at California Speedway

2/11/03

Silverstone downsizing staff  According to Grandprix.com, There have been more lay-offs at Silverstone, the latest group of 20 including circuit director Brian Pallett. This will bring the staff at Silverstone down to under 40 people. This has been caused by the poor results achieved by Octagon Motorsport which owns a lease to run the circuit. It has been strongly rumored for several months that Octagon is about to be bought by Bernie Ecclestone but this deal seems to have gone quiet in recent days and there are now fears that the British GP may be in doubt because of the Octagon financial situation.

2/11/03

Salo to drive in CART and ALMS   As reported elsewhere on this site, Mika Salo will drive for PK Racing in St. Pete, alongside Patrick Lemarie.  He will also drive in ALMS for Audi at Sebring and LeMans, however, LeMans conflicts with CART's race at Laguna Seca, assuming his ride with PK Racing is for a full season.

2/11/03

Latest F1 hot news items 

Williams Leads At Sunny Valencia
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Sauber Boast About Wind Tunnel
Ferrari President Backs F1 Reform
Firman's Close Call For F1 Dream
Champion Admits Team-Mate Threat
Jaguar, Too, Will Wear Puma
Schumacher: I'm Not About To Quit
Webber Backs De La Rosa Dumping
Webber Enjoys A Bead Of Sweat  

2/11/03

The brain trust behind Ferrari 

Jean Todt and the Ferrari drivers


Reubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher

Jean Todt, Paolo Martinelli, Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn

2/10/03

Privateer Panoz ALMS entry   The outstanding field of professional sports car racing teams that will contest the 2003 American Le Mans Series continues to take shape as the running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring draws closer. The 51st annual edition of America’s oldest sports car race will open the season Mar. 12-15. The Panoz marque will again be represented in the LMP 900 class of this year's American Le Mans Series, but the high performance manufacturer will have a fresh face for the 2003 season. Two Panoz LMP-01 cars will be fielded by JML Team Panoz, a privateer team working in conjunction with Elan Motor Sport Technologies - the racing division of the Panoz companies in 2003. Panoz LMP-01 machines scored two overall wins in the 2002 season. The new program reflects this year's efforts of leading manufacturers Audi and Porsche - supporting a privateer team rather than assembling an entire factory effort. "I believed it would be unfair and inappropriate for the owner of the series and the sanctioning body to be the only factory effort when virtually all other LMP 900 entries were competing as privateers," Team and ALMS Founder, Don Panoz said. "We have completed final negotiations with JML Team Panoz." The team will be managed and owned by experienced technical director and racing engineer John McLoughlin - himself a team owner and former Technical Director of the Professional Sportscar Series. JML Team Panoz is planning to contest the American Le Mans Series championship as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The cars will again be powered by Elan Power Products engines, developed on-site at EMT's Braselton headquarters. Elan Power Products will continue to provide on-track support at all events. "We are confident that the Panoz marque will be extremely well represented by John and his team in the year ahead," Panoz said. "We have closely analysed the way other manufacturers have structured their motorsport programs and believe this will prove to be extremely beneficial in the long run - both for the Panoz brand and the American Le Mans Series championship itself." Drivers for the season are expected to be announced in the near future.

2/10/03

Brooke lawyers bring subpoenas to the track   According to this AP article, Jeff Gordon's divorce case spilled over to the race track Monday when attorneys for his wife tried to subpoena several car owners at Daytona International Speedway. NASCAR officials did not allow process servers into the track. Most of the top teams have been subpoenaed at their home offices in the past month, and all have refused to open their books to Brooke Gordon and her lawyers. Because the divorce is being heard in Florida, her lawyers want the car owners to have to fight new subpoenas in a local court. "We wanted to take advantage of the fact they are in Florida and issue Florida subpoenas," said Terry Young, an Orlando-based attorney representing Brooke Gordon. "If they choose to contest them, we want them to go before a Florida judge to do so." Young said a process server was turned away Friday when NASCAR teams reported to the track to prepare for Sunday's Daytona 500, so the papers were sent again Monday with Volusia County sheriff's deputies. Young did not know if the deputies had gotten into the track, but a NASCAR official said they did not allow the subpoenas in. Gordon, the four-time Winston Cup champion, was aware of what was happening at the track. "It's out of my control, but I think it's really disgusting," he said. "It's a real shame that they are trying to drag all these other guys into this because to me, there are other ways for them to get what they are looking for. This is just harassment."

2/10/03
Industry News

Mid-Ohio founder dies  Les Griebling, founder of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, passed away Thursday afternoon in Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton, Florida, following a brief illness. He was 78. In 1961, Griebling designed, built and opened Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on rolling farmland near Lexington. He owned and operated the racetrack until selling to Jim Trueman in 1981. The Griebling family remains connected to Mid-Ohio today, as youngest son Tracy supervises the track maintenance department. Son Al retired in 2002 after a long career at the track, while Gary has spent countless hours in various capacities as well.

2/10/03

Renault testing problems  “We had a productive first day of testing with Allan focusing on long runs aimed at race-reliability for the first Grand Prix of the season,” Mike Gascoyne explained. “In the morning however, his run was cut short due to engine problems. In the afternoon he ran useful mileage even though his testing was hampered by minor gearbox problem. Tomorrow Allan will continue race-reliability evaluation. Fernando had a limited program to work on with some engine mapping. In the next days he will concentrate on Michelin tire evaluation for Melbourne.”

2/10/03

Heidfeld crying like baby over HANS  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, I think there are many drivers out there who would love to have Nick Heidfeld's seat and would have no problem wearing the HANS device! Maybe he should step aside in favor of someone who has no problem with it! Rick Flaute, Dayton, Ohio 2/10/03 - "In theory it is a good thing but in practice it doesn't work for me," Heidfeld told autosport.com, having first tried the system in free practice at the Italian Grand Prix last year. "In Monza I had a headache after the Friday, so I didn't use it anymore. I don't know how it will be possible to use it at Melbourne. At the moment, there is no way. For me, personally, I feel it is more dangerous because I couldn't concentrate for a whole race, it would start to hurt and I could lose concentration and crash." He added: "The rules say it has to be used. I would like to see that rule changed, but at this moment I can't see it. I hear some other drivers have had problems with it and I'd like to speak with them about it."   All CART drivers use it and have become comfortable with it on all road courses.  Only the F1 drivers are crying like babies.

2/10/03

Mosley calls for more cost cutting  UPDATE Updated with a more complete story.  2/10/03 - Tell us if this doesn't sound more like CART and F1 moving closer together. Max Mosley is telling the teams that F1 could move to a single engine supplier by 2006 to reduce engine costs by 90%...a la CART. In essence he is telling the engine manufacturers if they complain too much, the FIA will contract with a Cosworth or a John Judd to supply the entire field.  Either they get on board with the program of cutting costs, or they are out.  More......

2/10/03

Monday test times from Valencia 

1. Ralf Schumacher - Williams - 1:11.99 - 65 laps
2. Juan Pablo Montoya - Williams - 1:12.44 - 45 laps
3. Fernando Alonso - Renault - 1:12.54 - 36 laps
4. Ralph Firman - Jordan - 1:13.46 - 73 laps
5. Allan McNish - Renault - 1:14.94 - 51 laps

2/10/03

Fittipaldi-Dingman team to expand to two cars  The team will be run out of the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing headquarters in Indianapolis, as the team has entered a partnership with the Eric Bachelart-owned team that will run its first Champ Car season with Mario Haberfeld at the wheel. The team will start the season with one fully funded car, but is still in discussions and looking for long-term primary sponsors for the 2003 season and beyond. Furthermore, in their continued efforts to provide marketing and branding support for their future sponsors, Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing's strategy is to not only run a second car later this season, but to run a two-car team starting in the 2004 campaign. Dingman will use his business acumen to help the team achieve that goal, as the 29-year-old financier will concentrate his efforts on the off-track search for new business relationships.

2/10/03

CART scoops IRL in Brazil  The IRL has more Brazilian drivers than CART now, but the Champ Car World Series will be the only North American open-wheel racing series to be broadcast live on an over-the-air network in the country of Brazil in 2003. The deal announced today with RedeTV! is geared toward a younger audience, will do more than just carry the Champ Car events. Promotion will include CART and its drivers in all aspects of its programming and in-market promotions designed to build the viewing audience. The network has full digital capability and offers the latest technology in the television industry.  We wonder what Hollywood thinks?

2/10/03

Daly comments on car owners  Derek Daly made a pretty bold statement on SPEED Channel this past weekend talking about the defections to the IRL he said "In my opinion (paraphrased) , those owners, when they took the money and ran proved that they never should have been in a decision making capacity with CART in the first place, because their interests were only self-serving, which is no way to run a company." 

2/10/03

Vasser gets sponsor for 300-miler   Jimmy Vasser has agreed to a deal with Aventis Bio-Services that will make them the primary sponsor on his NASCAR Busch Series car at Daytona for the Koolerz 300 on February 15, 2003. Vasser will be driving the No. 30 Dodge fielded by Braun Racing. Player Management International coordinated the sponsorship deal and it was completed late last week. 1996 CART Champion, Jimmy Vasser, will make his stock car racing debut in the NASCAR BGN Series “Koolerz 300” at the Daytona International Speedway. This much anticipated debut will mark the beginning of a new era for the open wheel veteran and serve as a “springboard” for future races. Sponsor – “Aventis Bio-Services”, will join Vasser in a one-race deal for Daytona. “I really look forward to making my NASCAR debut and making it at a place like Daytona makes it even more exciting,” stated Vasser. “I have run a few IROC races at Daytona (1997 & 1999), but being in the draft with 42 other stockcars will be a new experience that I really look forward to. Also, having a company such as Aventis Bio-Services come on board to be apart of this is cool.” He added, “My plan is to do 10-12 NASCAR BGN races this year and learn on different tracks, get to know people and teams and see how I do,” stated Vasser. “I see myself racing in NASCAR in the future and this is the first step in getting the necessary experience.”

2/10/03

Only 10,000 tickets sold for Malaysian GP  According to the Star article, the organisers of the Malaysian F1 race, Sepang International Circuit (SIC), have only 10,000 confirmed sales so far. But they are confident of hitting their target of 100,000 for next month's Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix. SIC advertising and promotions manager Azlan Akil said the 10,000 figure was much higher compared to this time last year. “I must say that ticket sales took a dive during the Chinese New Year period but we expect it to pick up from now,” said Azlan after the launching of the F1 Fest at the City Square here yesterday by Johor Tourism general manager Datuk Abdul Karim Hassan.

2/10/03

Bud Shootout ratings soar   Fox's telecast of Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout telecast rating soared 61% over last year's. The race, moved to prime time for the first time, drew an ''average audience'' of 9.5 million. Many more viewers were watching at the finish; 9.5 million was the average during the entire course of the race. According to Fox officials, the race beat NBC, CBS and ABC in the coveted demographic audience of adults age 18-49. According to Fox, it drew a 3.8 demographic rating, NBC a 2.4, ABC a 2.2 and CBS a 2.0.

2/10/03

Firman to debut on Monday  UPDATE Ralph Firman made his test debut for new team Jordan (see photos below). The 27-year-old had his first run in the Jordan EJ13 at Valencia. The EJ13 was running its brand new yellow livery which reflects the team’s renewed sponsorship deal with Benson and Hedges. There were no times available from this morning’s session. Firman is concentrating on getting comfortable in the car and acclimatizing to F1 after spending six seasons racing in the Japanese Formula Nippon series.  2/9/03 - Ralph Firman will have his debut test for Jordan. The Briton will drive the EJ13 at Valencia on Monday morning.

2/10/03

$10 to $15 million to run Cup team   This Charleston Post and Courier article spells out the issues related to sponsorship woes in NASCAR.  Most telling - to be a top-10 car your budget is $10 to $15 million per year, compared to $5 to $6 million in the IRL and CART.  That is a lot of money, but then again NASCAR does get high TV ratings.  Still the NASCAR cost pales in comparison to a F1 team, where annual budgets surpass $100 million per car.

2/10/03

Leffler to attempt Indy 500 run   Add Jason Leffler's name to the list of NASCAR drivers who plan an attempt at the Indianapolis 500 in May. Leffler, former USAC Midget and Silver Crown champ, drove in 2001 for Chip Ganassi and retreated last year to Craftsman Trucks with Ultra Motorsports. He's back in Ultra's No. 2 Trucks this year. Leffler and team officials revealed Friday night that he would try to make at try at the 500, with details not yet clear, such as whose car he might drive or what sponsorship is available. John Andretti and Robby Gordon also have been given permission to run in the 500, with Gordon running the past two years there in cars co-owned by Cup car owner Richard Childress. Neither Andretti nor Gordon has made clear exactly what the plans are. Andretti says he wants to race at Indy because his cousin Michael will be making his final drive at the Speedway before retiring.  SPEED TV

2/10/03

Latest F1 hot news items 

Jos: Walkinshaw Deserved It
Sauber Happy With German Duo
Michelin Issue Shock Ferrari Warning
Ferrari Oppose Long-Life Engines
Schu: No Fan Of Electronic Bans
Jos Denies Champion Recommendation
Irvine Happy With Firman Rise
BMW To Extend Williams Deal?
Schumacher Writes Off Williams Hopes
Yoong Ponders V8 Supercar Option
Make Or Break For Jenson Button
Brawn Caution For 'Spy In Cockpit'
Sauber C22 Is Entirely New

2/9/03


Fontana tickets   A reader writes, Dear AR1, I noticed in this mornings LA Times an ad for Winston Cup Tickets for the Fontana race. Shouldn't it be sold out by now? I was a season ticket holder since day one, only so I could assure myself of prime seats for the CART races. I attended the Cup races, but they bored me, the spectacle surrounding it was fun though. Anyway, I did not renew my tickets this year because I will not be forced to buy IRL tickets along with all the other races they put on the schedule to justify almost doubling the price. I'm curious how season ticket sales went. Were there many more people like me
who didn't renew? The speedway contacted me several times about renewing, I told them I just wasn't interested in the IRL and would by my CART tickets at a later date. Can you do some snooping and find out how ticket sales went? A lot of us are interested. Thanks!  Steve Graves, Claremont, CA  Dear Steve, we have not heard how ticket sales are going at Fontana, but given the near zero interest in the IRL race there last year, we could see how some people might be upset with being forced to pay extra for them this year.  Mark C.

2/9/03

Trans-Am announces five key appointments   The Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup Executive Director John Clagett announced five racing professionals, with several decades of experience among them, have joined the production car-based sports car racing series. ³We sought the best and the brightest to join the Trans-Am Series,² said Clagett. ³We needed the right people to assist us during this year of transition. These five individuals represent the very best in their respective areas of expertise. I don¹t think we could have found a better group of people to further the Trans-Am legacy.² Dee Duncan returns to the Trans-Am Series as Manager, Marketing Services/Series Administrator after working in the private sector last year. Duncan previously worked in several positions within SCCA Pro Racing, including as its chief registrar. In her new position, Duncan will serve in a dual role. As series administrator, she will act as Series liaison among teams, sponsors and competitors, producing entry lists, and other administrative duties. In her marketing services role, Duncan will assist in all aspects of Series marketing. Chief Registrar Wanda Simons returns for her sophomore Trans-Am Series season after working with the NASCAR Goody¹s Dash Series. Simons will be responsible for credentials and she will assist with other administrative duties. Technical Advisor Dennis Kazmerowski will be in charge of vehicle inspection and will assist Technical Director Dave King in the completion and maintenance of the Series rulebook.  ³With the new leadership and direction, I think the future of the Trans-Am Series is exciting,² said Kazmerowski. Series Announcer Caroline Wright has been calling races for many years. Most recently, Wright, a racing driver herself, became the first female driver to score a class victory in a Grand Am Cup race, winning the Sport Touring II class at Florida¹s Daytona International Speedway. Justin Anderson, manager, public relations, comes to the Trans-Am Series after a three-year tenure as a staff writer for National Speed Sport News. In his new position, Anderson is responsible for all aspects of the Trans-Am Series public relations efforts, as well as the series web site, www.trans-amseries.com.

2/9/03

Rain delay at Daytona   UPDATE The rain was just too heavy and persistent.  Qualifications will now be Monday afternoon.  2/9/03 - Today's Daytona 500 pole qualifying has been rain delayed by heavy rains in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Because the track has lights, they can qualify as late as 11:00 PM tonight, so we suspect they will eventually get them in today.

2/9/03

Malaysia hoping for more fans from Singapore  A record 92,500 spectators attended last year's Malaysia Grand Prix at Sepang, with Singaporeans making up a significant proportion of the foreign fans. Singaporeans accounted for one quarter of the 60,000 foreign spectators. This year, organizers are confident of hitting the 100,000 mark, especially with rules changed to make the race more exciting. Organizers also do not expect the present Singapore-Malaysia relations to affect attendance.

2/9/03

Indian driver says he can make it in F1...or CART  According to this Indian Express newspaper article, brushing aside the disappointments of the last season, India’s top motorsports driver Narain Karthikeyan today said he was confident of breaking into the Formula One grade soon. “After the crash last year due to which I failed to participate in some meets, I am much more fit both physically and mentally and I think I can make it this time,” the “fastest Indian in the world” told reporters here today. Karthikeyan, who finished last year’s championship in Brazil as one of the fastest drivers in the highly competitive Telefonica World Series, would be participating in nine races in the same series this year, starting with the race in Barcelona, Spain on March 30. Despite the crash, for which he lost valuable 80 points, he claimed one pole position and set a fastest time ever in the Interlagos circuit (other than F1). Terming 2002, which was his first year on the European circuit, as a ‘learning year’, the 26-year old shot back at critics who said that age was no more on his side. “Some people are saying that I am too old for Formula-1. But there are certain racers who made their debut in F-1 at the age of 29. As far as I am concerned I know that I can do it,” said Karthikeyan who would be driving for a British team. He blamed lack of opportunity as one of the reasons for his failure to make it to F-1. “I am quicker than some of the young crops at F-1. Getting opportunity is the main thing.” He also urged sponsors to come forward and finance him as he intensifies efforts to join the big league. “Though I am getting good money like the cricketers, it is not enough as I have to spend everything on races.”  With all the Indians living in the USA, CART would be wise to take a look at this guy (as well as Alex Yoong, who is half Chinese).

2/9/03

Shanghai's unique F1 circuit taking shape  According to this Malaysian The Star newspaper article, come October next year, China will join the F1 circus with the inaugural race in Shanghai. But it will be one with a difference. The turns and straights will spell out a favored Chinese character, shang, meaning ascend. And because there are two rivers around the circuit, the team bungalows will be built on the water. Drivers and team members will take water cruises to and from the circuit. The Shanghai circuit is one of two new legs for the F1 next year, the other being Bahrain. The 5.4km track, now in the first phase of construction, will have 15 turns and five straights besides the obligatory medical centre, pit building, support paddock, workshop and karting track. It is estimated to cost two billion yuan (RM912mil). Located in Anting Town, Jiading District, which is on the north-western outskirts of the city, the circuit is planned to be the largest in Asia with a grandstand capacity of 200,000 spectators. Malaysia's capacity at Sepang is 100,000. “We have thousands of people working on it (the track) now. It must be completed by March next year for the inspection by FIA,” said Shanghai International Circuit deputy general manager Yu Zhifei. Construction of roads and rail traffic in the city are also underway. Among them are highways and a fast light-rail traffic line. A 650-km highway network will be in place while the light-rail will connect downtown Shanghai, Jiading New Area and International Automobile City in Anting to the circuit. So enthusiastic are the Chinese about the circuit that they even have a mascot for the circuit, Raceman who strikes a “gangsta rapper” like-pose to help establish a brand name. And they are still learning. They have visited Germany, Brazil, Spain and Monaco. Recently, they visited Malaysia where local company Asian Overland Services Tours and Travel, has been appointed as their global marketing agent. “There are similarities in our cultures so it is easier. Plus our collaboration will hopefully gain new audiences in Asia,” added Yu. They will also learn about race organization, track management and track preparation from the Sepang International Circuit, organizers of the Malaysian race. “We will have a track which is more futuristic looking. There will even be a motorsports centre where all future automobile activities like car shows can be held,' said Yu, adding that winning the F1 bid last year was a feather in China's cap as they have already won the right to host the Olympics in 2008. “It is a challenge to do this (bringing F1 to China),” said general manager Mao Xiaohan. Of course, we all cheered and screamed when we won the bid. Now, it's down to the work. “Firstly, we have to develop F1 in the country from every aspect like getting the local audience to the organization. There is also training and educating the public.” On Malaysia's side, SIC welcomed the inclusion of Shanghai. General manager Ahmad Mustafa said a wider audience would be acquired with the partnership. The immediate effect would be an increase in spectators from China coming to the Malaysian race. Special packages are being drawn up for them.  More....

2/9/03

Sauber lands Russian sponsorship  Sauber Petronas have landed another sponsor, Russian telecommunications giant MTS, Mobile TeleSystems. In this difficult climate where its getting harder and harder for teams to gain sponsorship, Sauber Petronas seem to have their future secured. In the first 9 months of last year, MTS recorded a net profit of 191.9 million US dollars, their total revenue for that period in 2002 was $952.5 million. The company mainly operates in Russia and Eastern Europe where it has over 100 million customers. Team Principal, Peter Sauber delightfully commented on the new sponsorship package: "In a difficult economic environment we've managed to lock in a package of solid financial backing. Nine days ago, Red Bull decided to extend their partnership with us, and now we've been able to secure MTS as another sponsor. This underscores the appeal of our team. “Together with our sponsors, Petronas and Credit Suisse, we now have a solid basis for our forward-looking strategy, which includes the construction of our ultra-modern wind tunnel adjacent to our Hinwil plant."

2/9/03

Massa to do double duty  Ferrari has agreed to make Felipe Massa available to the Sauber team for testing when he is not testing for Ferrari.

2/9/03

Daddy Firman helps secure Jordan  UPDATE Ralph Firman Senior, is not only the man who founded Van Diemen, but he had a major role in helping along the careers of many racing drivers, including Ayrton Senna, who lived with the Firmans for a year when he first moved to Europe from Brazil. At that time Ayrton promised the very young Ralph Jr that he would help him become a Grand Prix driver when he grew up. Sadly he didn't get the chance, but it is great news that Ralph Jr. is there now.   2/9/03 - According to Alan Henry, in the British newspaper The Guardian, the Benson & Hedges deal with Jordan is worth $22 million. In addition to its other sponsorship deals, its share of the TV revenue and the recent 'handout' from Bernie Ecclestone and rival F1 teams, this should give the Jordan team a fairly solid foundation. Meanwhile according to The Sun, Ralph will be paid just $8,000 a race. The other thing about the RF deal which hasn't been made publicly known is that daddy Firman bought a substantial shareholding in Jordan GP.

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NASCAR=IROC with decals   This Indy Star article says the same the we have been saying for weeks now, Winston Cup cars are now all essentially the same, the only difference being the decals and car number.  What wins races is HP, the driver and the crew.  In the end, as seven-time champion Richard Petty noted, the idea of Tauruses vs. Monte Carlos vs. Intrepids vs. Grand Prixs is all something of a moot point anyway. "You don't run stock cars anymore," he said. "You run race cars."

2/9/03

Chance of rain   A chance of rain is forecast for today in Daytona, which could disrupt the qualifying schedule, with time trials set to begin at 1:15 p.m. ET. If the trials are rained out, the tentative plan is to reschedule them for Monday at 1:05 p.m. There is no word how that would affect second-round trials, which were scheduled for 1:05 Monday, or whether that would be scrubbed.

2/9/03

More on Petty movie   If all goes well, Disney's movie on Richard Petty and the Petty family should be filmed this year and be in theatres sometime in 2004, said Bill Scott, executive vice president at Petty Enterprises. Disney got involved in November. Dennis Quaid originally was set to play Lee Petty but now is expected to play Richard. Scripts are being rewritten to include more of the Petty family story than just the relationship between Lee and Richard. "This has been a project that has been ongoing; I personally have been working on this for four years," Scott said. "I really believe it's going to happen this year." Scott said he's not sure where filming will take place but says he'd "be surprised" if it was done outside North Carolina "based on our conversations." Roanoke Times

2/9/03

Brayton's Indy quest in trouble  It's unthinkable, but Brayton Racing, the open-wheel team from Coldwater, might miss its chance to run in this year's Indianapolis 500. Brayton, well known at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is short of sponsorship money, which has forced it to delay the purchase of a competitive engine and chassis package for the fast-approaching Indy Racing League season. Without backing from at least another major sponsor, the team likely will be parked for the year.  The season's first IRL race, the Toyota Indy 300, is scheduled for March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. At this stage, it's unlikely Brayton Racing will be on the grid. The team's main sponsor is Rhino Cleaning Products, as it was last year, but the racing costs in the IRL are rising. "It's tough," said Todd Brayton, who along with his schoolteacher wife, Teri, owns the race team. "I go home at night and hug my son. It's a strange feeling to think we might not be at Indianapolis, or anywhere, this year. But we are not giving up."  Detroit Free Press

2/8/03

Changes at Patrick Racing appear to be working   Patrick Racing made a number of key changes to its organization over the winter, including hiring Steve Challis as Director of Engineering.  Driver Oriol Servia was one of the dominant drivers during the three days of testing at Sebring this past week. Servia was the quickest in two of the three individual sessions he ran and topped the combined speed charts when the team packed up following the morning practice session on Thursday, February 6.   Now that the team is ready to run at the front again, it begs the question, when are they going to hook up Oriol up with a teammate?  Two-car teams are always better than one.  As we understand it, CART's goal for next year is for all the teams to be 2-car efforts.  If that is the case, it sure would be nice if both cars on every team had the same paint scheme a la F1.  As it is now, in most cases the fans have no idea the 2 cars are teammates.  If sponsorship money is combined for the two cars, one would think a good graphic artist can make the cars color-scheme work for both sponsors. By being on two cars instead of one, a sponsor has twice the chance to win.....and we spell that "value".  Mark C.

2/8/03

NASCAR drivers sign drug test forms   On Friday NASCAR collected signed copies of its substance abuse policy from drivers and team members - a requirement before cars are allowed on the track. The four-page document gives the sanctioning body permission to randomly drug test anyone involved in the series. NASCAR tested fewer than a dozen competitors in its top three series last season, said Kevin Triplett, managing director of business operations. The policy has undergone several changes over the past 10 years, but remains the same as the 2002 document, Triplett said. NASCAR prohibits all illegal drugs at any time under the policy; bans the use of alcohol on the day of an event; and warns of the effect of certain prescription and nonprescription medications. Random tests are done when NASCAR has a "reasonable cause" to believe a participant might have violated its policy, Triplett said. The strictest part of the policy is the rule on the consumption of alcohol, with a blood alcohol level set at 0.02 percent to be considered under the influence. The limit in Florida, where the season-opening Daytona 500 will be run on Feb. 16, is 0.08. "This is a pretty dangerous sport," Triplett said. "You have people working around machines and heavy equipment, so we have strict rules."

2/8/03

CART teams test Homestead road course   A number of CART teams have made the trek from Spring Training at Sebring to Homestead, Florida where they are testing on the road course, both yesterday and again early next week.  Motorcycle races are in town this weekend.

2/8/03

Red Light District   NASCAR's new garage access policy went into effect for the first time Friday when officials cleared the garage of guests and fans lacking proper credentials 30 minutes before the cars went on the track. A half-hour before the cars scheduled to take part in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout went out for the first on-track appearance of 2003 for Winston Cup cars, red lights above each entrance and affixed to several of the team haulers in the garage area began to flash. About a dozen security people and police made a sweep through the garage compound, but there were few people without the required "hot passes" or NASCAR season credentials. A bigger test of the new policy is expected before the Shootout and prior to pole qualifying Sunday for the Daytona 500.  ThatsRacin/AP

2/8/03

Chevy out to lunch?  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Once again just like in California, 11 out the top 12 cars were Honda or Toyota powered. Sam Hornish was 9th in a Chevy. I don't see many wins by Chevy in the IRL this year. One has to wonder how this will effect Chevy's IRL program in future?  Mike Neubauer, Ohio.  Dear Mike, it's possible the Chevy's are sandbagging, but we hear the Toyota teams are too.  Many suspected Hornish had the best engine the last two years, enabling him to win the Championship.  Now that advantage may have evaporated, and if that is the case, Sam move move to instant backmarker.  Mark C.

2/8/03

Tobacco ad ban in UK  As of midnight Thursday, all billboard, newspaper and magazine advertising of cigarettes and other tobacco products will be banned in England. To the dismay of anti-smoking campaigners and indeed the government however, it's believed, in some circles, that the ban will actually end up causing some people to smoke more, since with the amount of money saved on advertising, tobacco companies will simply begin a 'price war', which is exactly what happened in Australia. The next step will be a total ban on such things as point-of-sale banners in shops and petrol stations, while campaigners are looking at ways of plugging loopholes whereby tobacco companies associate themselves, and thereby their name and product, with clothing, music etc. Then of course as from July this year all tobacco sponsorship of national sport is banned, with a ban on global sports due to come into effect in July 2005, unless they move the date forward again.  PitPass

2/8/03

Daytona biggest purse ever   The richest race purse in the history of NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition will be at stake when the green flag waves on the 45th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 16 at Daytona International Speedway. The posted awards for this year's Daytona 500 are $13,816,240, an increase of $1.5 million from last year's posted awards. The posted awards for last year's Daytona 500, won by Ward Burton, were $12,314,505. "The Daytona 500 is the most prestigious race in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and this year's competitors will be rewarded handsomely for their efforts," Speedway President Robin Braig said. The driver that takes the checkered flag in the Daytona 500 will pocket a minimum of $1,352,080. The second, third, fourth and fifth-place finishers will receive $949,550, $654,850, $503,175 and $375,075, respectively

2/8/03

Schumacher wants to keep gizmos  ‘I am not such a big fan of the changes coming into effect at Silverstone,’ Schumacher said. ‘I like the challenge of driving the car with electronic aids, because you can get closer to perfection. I don’t think the rule changes will have much effect on the top drivers, but some of the younger, less experienced ones might find it more difficult.’ Schumacher also thought the lack of traction control could be a hazard in slippery conditions. ‘Not having traction control can be dangerous in the wet, especially as the rules now only allow one type of rain tire,’ he said.   Of course there were many who believed that Michael Schumacher had an "Illegal Car", with "Traction Control" that was not legal in 1994 when Ayrton Senna crashed and died at Imola being chased close by Schumacher. At Brazil, Eddie Irvine had followed both of them and said that the rear ends of both cars were acting much differently.  Senna's had a lot of movement and Schumacher none.  At Aida,, after  Senna was taken out, he observed the Benetton's of  Lehto and Schumacher, and said they were not the same.  Many believed that Senna's frustrations had to do with the fact that Senna knew that Schumacher's car was illegal, and didn't say anything at the time.  If this speculation is true, then perhaps that explains why Michael is against losing the gizmos for fear he won't be as dominant anymore.

2/8/03

Latest F1 Hot News 

New Swiss Partner For Sauber
F1's Spy In The Cockpit
Massa Surprised At Jordan No-Go
Monday Debut For Ralph Firman
Schu Surprised By F2003 Innovation
Mercedes Tribute For Brauchitsch
Confident Rubens Targets Title
Todt Worries About Tire Battle

2/7/03

Butt ugly  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I caught a glimpse of the photos you published on the Test in West from Phoenix.  I usually don't write letters to the editor, but this time I felt I just had to comment.  The new IRL cars can only be described in two words, "butt ugly."  Never in my life would I ever have thought a race car can be made so unappealing.  And they wonder why Indy Car racing is dying.  Steve Laufler, San Bernardino, CA.

2/7/03

Car Count   Interestingly CART had 18 cars running at Spring Training this week and the IRL, which some were saying would have 30 cars this year, has had only slightly more than CART had in their Test in The West at Fontana and Phoenix.  If the IRL is going to get up to 30 cars, it's becoming increasingly clear that Tony George is going to have to fund quite a few.  We think the IRL will end up with around 24 cars for the majority of the races, and CART 20.

2/7/03

Drivers underpaid, need a Union   This article says, Soaring television ratings. Rising attendance. Increased national awareness. Big bucks. As NASCAR continues its push toward a perch among America's mainstream sports, its profits are skyrocketing. Since the sport is owned by one family, the France family of Daytona Beach, Fla., there is no way of knowing exactly how much it makes. But this year, Forbes Magazine estimated the NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. made $1 billion. France's brother Jim, chairman of NASCAR's sister company, International Speedway Corporation, which owns most of the race tracks on the Cup schedule, also pulled in $1 billion. The drivers, because of lucrative merchandise and endorsement deals, are not doing badly, either, but their share of the pot is dramatically smaller than that of the athletes in the four mainstream sports -- professional football, basketball, baseball and hockey. A Newsday study conducted at the end of last season shows that drivers in the three highest series in NASCAR get just 18 percent of the estimated $1.869 billion NASCAR pulled in last year. Meanwhile, athletes in the four other major professional sports took home at least 50 percent of their sport's annual revenue......There have been only two attempts to unionize the drivers. In 1961, it was the trio of Tim Flock, Curtis Turner and Fireball Roberts who formed the Federation of Professional Athletes. At that time, Bill France -- the late founder of NASCAR -- made it clear that there would be no union in his sport. Legend has it that France said he would "enforce that with a pistol." Flock, Turner and Roberts were banned from NASCAR for life. However, days later, Roberts withdrew his support for the union and returned to racing, and France allowed Flock and Turner back in when they were well past their primes. In 1969, Richard Petty attempted to form the Professional Drivers Association and boycott a race at Talladega Superspeedway because he and others believed that racing conditions weren't safe. France brought in some minor league racers with the help of an up-and-comer named Richard Childress and put on the show, anyway. The next week, all the NASCAR regulars returned. It taught the same lesson France meant to teach Flock and Turner. The lesson that Bill France Jr. reinforced after the death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001. "They're going to start that race with or without us," Wallace said. "We raced the very next race after Dale Earnhardt's death. That taught us all a big lesson. The show's going to go on without us." If there were a union, things in NASCAR would change.

2/7/03

10 things to look for this season  UPDATE A reader sent this letter to Ed Hinton - Hello Ed, I just read most of the article you wrote recently "10 things" and I have a few comments. First of all what's with the perpetual negativity about open wheel racing. How is the outlook on open wheel racing in America ever going to change with articles like that. Here we are going into the beginning of the new season for both IRL and CART with all kinds of new and exciting changes for both series and instead of you highlighting the positive all you can do is point out the negative. Maybe I was wrong the last time I wrote to you asking if you are on Tony George's payroll. Perhaps it's the France family that throws you a bone every now and then. Secondly, how can you say that IRL has all the talent when you haven't even seen a CART race yet with its new teams and drives? And, I suppose Jimmy Vasser is a no name along with Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier? Sure its not Andretti or Unser, but at the end of this season those old goats will be gone too. Try giving some credit to the more challenging series and new blood. Try writing something positive for a change. You even have the balls to give your beloved NASCAR a shot calling the cars crude. Why so negative? Are you frustrated that you never amounted to much in terms of driving or are you just a miserable person? Sam Mancuso, Miami, FL   2/7/03 - More incomplete information going into a press article about CART In this Chicago Tribune article titled "10 things to look for this season" [Editor's note: You need to register with the Chicago Tribune to view the article.), author Ed Hinton paints a reasonably accurate picture of the IRL for this year (except for his comment on the wealth and talent), but he apparently didn't check out all of the facts before bashing CART. Under the 9th thing Hinton listed, he says that the IRL has taken "command of American open-wheel racing--what's left of it. All the wealth and talent now has shifted from CART to the IRL, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George has won the seven-year war. But national interest virtually has collapsed in the process. The IRL still can't draw flies into the grandstands, except for a handful of tracks, including Indy itself. Much depends on whether the IRL's super-close finishes will get the attention of a significant television audience and make the whole series a must-see for ticket buyers. Some race fans just have to have the sleeker, higher-tech Indy cars over crude NASCAR machinery and that sophisticated constituency, if solidified, could launch the IRL into mainstream popularity. 10. CART continues to struggle but hangs on. For all the bombastic cheerleading of CART President Christopher Pook, his organization remains on life support from Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone. And even some Ford insiders acknowledge privately how sad the situation is. During the off-season, CART was caught doing what many had suspected all along--vastly inflating its attendance estimates. At the revived street race in Miami, CART publicly estimated a crowd of 85,000. But the National Speed Sport News uncovered an internal memo in which CART reckoned the paid attendance at barely 16,000. The season-opening street race in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Feb. 23 hasn't even the tradition of Miami to stimulate some interest. What? Are 100,000 retirees and Buccaneers fans going to show up for a car race? And this year, CART's crowd estimates are sure to be scrutinized more closely. Worst of all, with the defection of driver Michael Andretti to the IRL as an owner and 2002 CART champion Cristiano da Matta to Formula One, CART now has precisely zero names that any but the most intense open-wheel enthusiasts have ever heard of." More . . .

2/7/03

CART announces marshalling partnership with SCCA   Champ Car President and CEO Christopher R. Pook announced today at the Sports Car Club of America National Convention that all stateside marshalls that will work events on the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will be required to hold a current SCCA license in 2003. "The Sports Car Club of America has the most comprehensive training and accreditation program for volunteer operations staff, and for 2003, we'll be requiring an SCCA license to work a Champ Car event in the United States," said Pook. "Trackside observation is critical in providing Champ Car race officials with the information they need to run our Champ Car race events. We now know that the best way to address these needs in the United States is with the SCCA." Champ Car officials will be instrumental in helping the SCCA train prospective corner workers and officials, partnering with the SCCA in the founding of the new SCCA University, which will include CART officials such as Drs. Steve Olvey and Terry Trammell along with members of the Simple Green Safety Team. The purpose of the school is to familiarize prospective officials with the latest techniques and requirements used in running a Champ Car event. "This is a major announcement for the SCCA, as it recognizes the knowledge and expertise of our members," said Steve Johnson, SCCA President and CEO. "A relationship such as this with Champ Car, one of the worldwide leaders in professional motorsports, helps to position the SCCA as one of the worldwide leaders in event operations. We've had a long history with Champ Car, and look forward to this partnership and look forward to future initiatives together. This announcement also goes hand-in-hand with the launch of the new SCCA University, which will formalize all training programs within the SCCA."

2/7/03

Could IRL race at Daytona?   This Jacksonville newspaper article talks about whether the IRL could ever race at Daytona.  Brian Barnhart thinks it's possible, but the article talks about the two Indy Car drivers who died there the first year the track opened.  Forty-four years after a fatal attempt to marry open-wheel cars with the high banks of Daytona, the thought remains so unnerving that a second attempt has never been made. On a speedway that each year plays host to stock cars, motorcycles, sports cars and go-kart events, the absence of open-wheel cars remains conspicuous. Despite its split with Indy-car racing in the 1990s and its recent woes, CART has never made serious inquiries about racing at Daytona. Neither has Formula One, which when looking for a home in the 1990s for the new United States Grand Prix opted to return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where it had raced in the 1950s. The Indy Racing League has inquired about racing at Daytona. "If the opportunity presented itself, we'd take a look at it," Brian Barnhart, the vice president in charge of competition, said. "It's certainly possible." However, John Saunders, a senior vice president at Daytona International Speedway, said facility officials haven't seriously considered the request because of liability issues associated with cars racing faster than 200 mph and the facility's busy race schedule. More....

2/7/03
IROC

IROC in search of sponsor too   The International Race of Champions [IROC] announced today it would seek a replacement Title Sponsor for 2004 due to the departure of True Value from auto racing at the conclusion of the 2003 season. The departure of TruServ from auto racing is due to realignment of the corporation's marketing investments. The Specialized Marketing Group, Inc.. (TSMGI), headquartered in Deerfield, IL, who currently handles licensed product relations for the IROC Series, has been retained to pursue sponsorship and manage sponsor relations and event activities. IROC is hopeful for other changes in 2004.. "We're looking to move the series forward in our search for a new Title Sponsor, in addition to our search for car manufacturer support, " said, Signore. "Our goal is to start anew in 2004 and with the right sponsorship package we could pursue ways to diversify the current format, which we have been locked into due to scheduling and economics. The strength of the IROC Series as a marketing platform has been clearly defined by the long-term relationships encompassing its 26-year history and we are looking forward to continuing that tradition with new long-term partners."

2/7/03

Beer battles at Daytona   Coors Light is the official beer of Daytona International Speedway, but that doesn't necessarily stop Anheuser-Busch from sponsoring a race here (or a car, of course). But it reportedly cramps the style of everyone who recently became Rusty Wallace fans. Wallace's sponsor, Miller Lite, had announced that if Rusty wins his first Daytona 500 on Feb. 16, every adult in attendance would receive a coupon for a free six-pack of the primary sponsor's product. That, however, constitutes marketing, and without track approval (and a waiver from Coors, no doubt), Miller won't be allowed to give away anything "on property." Daytona Beach News Journal

2/7/03

Featherlite renews with CART   Champ Car and Iowa-based Featherlite, Inc. announced today the extension of their relationship through 2003, a partnership that originally began in 1995. Through the agreement Featherlite will continue as the "Official Trailer of Champ Car," providing the series with custom-built trailers designed to transport equipment to each North American event on the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford schedule. "We are extremely pleased to welcome Featherlite back for another season with the Champ Car World Series," said Champ Car Vice President of Marketing Steve Fusek. "The Featherlite trailers used by Champ Car and many of our teams serve a vital role in the overall success of our events. They allow us to take our product on the road. Working together, we have developed an effective program that meets Featherlite's objectives and allows them to generate business in our paddock. They have been a great partner over the years, and we look forward to doing business with them for years to come." While on the road, each of the 53-foot Featherlite trailers in the Champ Car fleet, known as T1, T2, T3, T4 and the CBU - short for Champ Car Business Unit, carry important equipment needed to put on a successful race event. Typical items include; four rescue trucks and a fifth truck outfitted with a jet blower-all used by the Simple Green Safety Team, sensitive computer equipment, timing and scoring cables and scales used for technical inspection. At the track, these trailers convert into mobile work stations used by Champ Car personnel. T1 is home to the series technical inspection center and also provides work space for the Champ Car competition staff while T2 serves as competition headquarters and provides office space for competition staff and a work area for Ford engineers overseeing the crash box safety program. T3, now known as the Motorola Communications Center, houses work space for Racing Radios service personnel as well as all the Motorola two-way radio and wireless communications equipment used by the series. T4 provides work areas for Champ Car logistics, marketing and promoter operations personnel and the CBU houses several conference rooms and office space for Champ Car World Series executives. "Featherlite is very happy to renew its support of the Champ Car World Series," said Featherlite President and CEO Conrad Clement. "The Champ Car World Series is an electrifying schedule of races and we appreciate the opportunity to expose some of the nation's most talented race teams and their sponsors to the unique product we build. We look forward to offering unparalleled support and service to Champ Car and its teams in 2003."

2/7/03

Newman Haas meeting with IRL   According to this USA Today article, CART champion team Newman/Haas Racing has scheduled talks Friday with the Indy Racing League's most senior administrative official. General manager Brian Lisles, team manager John Tzouanakis and senior engineer Peter Gibbons are due to meet with the IRL's senior vice president of operations Brian Barnhart at Phoenix International Raceway during the second phase of the IndyCar Series' Test In The West. Neither the team nor the IRL will comment on the meeting. There is speculation among IndyCar teams that Newman/Haas wants to explore a return to the Indianapolis 500 for the first time since the 1996 CART/IRL split. But the team dismisses any possibility of launching a separate effort for the May 25 event. "We assure you that we have no plans to run the Indy 500," says spokeswoman Kathi Lauterbach, who would not explain why the team's senior management requested the meeting with Barnhart. It is known that the team had discussions with Toyota, which powered Cristiano da Matta to the 2002 CART title, and investigated buying IndyCar chassis late last season. The IRL confirms that Newman/Haas, which is co-owned by actor Paul Newman, has at least thought about contesting the 500. "The only (CART) team that has had contact with us about the 500 is Newman/Haas — and that has been only minimal," IRL's Barnhart said.

2/7/03

Ticket sales for German 500   On Wednesday the advance booking started for the return of the Champ Car World Series at EuroSpeedway Lausitz from 9th to 11th May 2003. Fans can choose between three ticket categories, Gold, Silver or Bronze, offered for prices of 149 EUR, 99 EUR and 49 EUR. Compared with the two previous years the ticket categories were simplified and the ticket prices were arranged more fan friendly. And the key: one ticket is valid for all three event days. The desired paddock tickets are limited on 5000 tickets, exclusively in the advance booking available, valid for all three event days for a price of 50 Euro. From Wednesday, February 5th , ticket order is possible under the info- and ticket hotline +49(0) 1805 / 88 02 88 or in the web on www.eurospeedway.de. Christopher Pook, CART president and CEO: "CART and EuroSpeedway Lausitz offers in May a world-class event. We want to reach the same success like in the premiere year in 2001 and offer to the German and European motor sport fans a unique race spectacle in the 2-Miles-Superspeedway for excellent prices. No other racing series than the Champ Cars offers more fascinating motor sport and entertainment to such fan-friendly prizes". EuroSpeedway Lausitz boss Hans-Jörg Fischer is pleased, to be able to announce with the start of the ticket advance booking two support races, which will go to the starting line within the scope of the German 500: "With the FIA Sportscar Championship and the V8STAR we have two series in the support program, which could be everyone for itself the main event of one race weekend. Such a top-class racing package on one weekend is a real innovation". Two further support races are planned. 

2/7/03

Gordon may do double   From a question on Robby Gordon's Mailbag on CNNSI.com, will Gordon run the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 this year? "I'd love to do the Double on Memorial Day weekend again, so I'm working on getting a sponsor for the Indy 500 right now and I think I'm getting close. Cingular Wireless sponsored me in the Double last May when I competed in the Indy 500 and then flew to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600. That was a blast but it was also a lot of work and an exhausting day. I finished eighth at Indy and brought home a 16th-place finish in the Winston Cup race. If I get the chance to do it again, I'll make sure I take the IV fluids between the races and work out a little more leading up to the race. It takes a lot of stamina to make 1,100 miles."

2/7/03

Another Sauber sponsor  Swisscom Mobile will be Sauber Petronas' official partner for telecommunications in the 2003 season. The mobile communications provider will be supplying the team with infrastructure tailored to the Formula 1 environment. Urs Schäppi, Head of Connectivity Services at Swisscom Mobile, says: "The collaboration between two major Swiss companies, which have acquired an outstanding reputation in the high-tech sector, will be particularly appealing to customers who share our enthusiasm for technology." Team principal Peter Sauber adds: "Swisscom Mobile and Sauber Petronas have common interests that complement each other in an excellent way, enabling both companies to benefit from a number of synergies."

2/7/03

Brawn hints at how FIA will police rules Ferrari’s Ross Brawn has revealed how the FIA plan to police traction control in 2003. Speaking at the launch of the new F2003-GA at Maranello, the Ferrari technical director said that the governing body would be installing monitoring devices in the cars to detect whether electronic driver aids like traction control and launch control were being used. He said: "In order to introduce more control, the FIA is introducing a kind of spy in the cockpit, a monitoring device that detects the use of these types of devices."

2/7/03

The Falcon has landed (Crash landed?)  UPDATE It looks like Tony George will have to pay someone to run a Falcon at this point.  Time is close to running out on the IRL's third chassis manufacturer. No Falcon is ready to test and every team now has at least two G-Forces or Dallaras.  1/10/03 - This Indy Star article says, Access Motorsports has signed a letter of intent with MK to purchase the Ken Anderson-designed Falcon, although Access doesn't have the funding in place to announce a program or a driver. Access is based in Indianapolis and led by veteran team manager Ted Bitting and chief mechanic Jamie Nanny, former core members of the once-proud Treadway Racing team. Bitting said the team is "50-50" on competing this season and is working with drivers Robby McGehee and George Mack on what could be a two-car team. The Falcon is due to make its first test later this month with Hemelgarn Racing at Phoenix and Fontana, Calif. Ron Hemelgarn and his team manager, Lee Kunzman, said they will not commit to MK -- or any manufacturer -- until more sponsorship has been secured. Hemelgarn, who took a chance in 2000 with the Riley & Scott chassis, said the Falcon faces a lot of pressure to compete quickly with Dallara and G-Force, which have extensive IRL experience. "It's a big unknown, so it's got to hit right away or it's not going to hit," he said.

2/7/03

Overall fast times from Spring Training  

Pos

Car

Driver

Engine/Chassis/Tires

Time

Behind
Next

Behind
Leader

1.

2

S. Bourdais

Ford-Lola-Bridgestone

50.584

 

 

2.

1

B. Junqueira

Ford-Lola-Bridgestone

50.804

0.220

0.220

3.

9X

M. Jourdain Jr.

Ford-Lola-Bridgestone

50.841

0.037

0.257

4.

20

O. Servia

Ford-Lola-Bridgestone

50.940

0.099

0.356

5.

32

P. Carpentier

Ford-Lola-Bridgestone

51.141

0.201

0.557

6.

33

A. Tagliani

Ford-Lola-Bridgestone

51.142

0.001

0.558

7.

15

D. Manning

Ford-Reynard-Bridgestone

51.204

0.062

0.620

8.

55

M. Dominguez

Ford-Lola-Bridgestone

51.244

0.040

0.660

9.

12

J. Vasser

Ford-Reynard-Bridgestone

51.336

0.092

0.752

10.

4

R. Moreno

Ford-Reynard-Bridgestone

51.465

0.058

0.881

11.

31

R. Hunter-Reay

Ford-Reynard-Bridgestone

51.495

0.030

0.911

12.

3

P. Tracy

Ford-Lola-Bridgestone

51.545

0.050

0.961

13.

51

A. Fernandez

Ford-Lola-Bridgestone

51.606

0.061

1.022

14.

34

M. Haberfeld

Ford-Reynard-Bridgestone

51.644

0.038

1.060

15.

19

J. Camathias

Ford-Lola-Bridgestone

51.830

0.186

1.246

16.

5

R. Lavín

Ford-Reynard-Bridgestone

52.321

0.242

1.737

17.

27

P. Lemarie

Ford-Lola-Bridgestone

52.338

0.017

1.754

18.

11

R. Gonzalez

Ford-Reynard-Bridgestone

52.992

0.654

2.408

* Series rookie

2/7/03

Spencer sues Chip Ganassi   Attorneys for Jimmy Spencer have filed a lawsuit in Mecklenburg County Superior Court seeking damages from Chip Ganassi, Spencer's former Winston Cup car owner, for breach of contract and interference with Spencer's racing career. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, seeks $600,000 for the difference between the salary Spencer says he was to be paid for 2003, the second year of his contract with Chip Ganassi Racing, and what he is to make this year as the driver for Ultra Motorsports. Spencer drove the No. 41 Dodges owned by Ganassi last season, but says he was told over the telephone on or about Nov. 5, 2002, that he was fired. Casey Mears will drive the No. 41 cars in the 2003 season. The lawsuit also charges that Ganassi made an agreement to monetarily assist James Finch, the owner of a Busch series team for which Spencer drove 23 races last year, with fielding Finch's Busch team for 2003. Part of the terms for that agreement, the lawsuit alleges, was for Finch not to employ Spencer as a driver this year. The suit seeks damages of no less than $10,000 for Spencer for his lost opportunity for employment with Finch. It also seeks payment of money Spencer says he is owed for souvenir and collectibles sales for the third and fourth quarters of 2002. Ganassi said he had neither read nor seen the lawsuit and would not comment on it. Spencer referred questions to Bill Diehl, his Charlotte attorney. "There were significant efforts made to settle this dispute that were ignored by Mr. Ganassi," Diehl said. "We tried not to file suit but we couldn't even get him to return a phone call. This is real clear, as clear as it gets. Mr. Spencer's only alternative is to ignore it and lose money."  Charlotte Observer

2/7/03

Andretti vs. Andretti at Indy   John Andretti has been given permission from the Petty team to run in the Indianapolis 500 this season, just in time to race against his cousin one last time. Former CART champion Michael Andretti said last week he'll retire after the Indy 500 in May to concentrate on being a car owner. John Andretti, who spends his time racing stock cars for Petty Enterprises in NASCAR, said Thursday he wants to be in the field when his cousin takes his final green flag in the Indy 500. ``I want to be in that race against Michael,'' John said. ``The thing we've always said about the Andrettis is, `He who gets hurt last, wins.' ``Well, Michael always lost because he always got hurt, and I want to give him one last chance.''  This will make a story, something the Indy 500 needs to stop Indy 500 TV ratings from their recent slide.

2/7/03

Jourdain has eyes on title   [Translation by Ed McFarlane] Next Objective: The Title By Enrique Guadarrama / Enviado/El Norte Michel Jourdain Jr. achieved the status of the most consistent driver thanks to his work in the 2002 races, and now the Mexican states that his mission in 2003 is nothing less than to win the CART series title. Jourdain Jr., who this year starts his eighth season in the American series, will be one of the most experienced young drivers ion the grid. The Mexican was placed in the top 10 of the Championship in 2002 with 105 points in his first season with Team Rahal. For sure what we want this year is to maintain the consistency that we had last year, to finish races, and we hope to end up higher in 2003, the most important thing is to qualify better. "If we qualify better and finish races like we did last year, I think that this season we will visit the podium often and in that case there's no doubt that we could attain the CART Championship, that's the main objective." Talking about hopes for the 2003 season, which starts next 23rd February in St. Petersburg, Jourdain Jr. acknowledges that Team Rahal will be competitive on the street circuits. "I'll stick to what I've said in previous interviews, that this year Team Rahal will be very strong on street circuits, and it's on the permanent courses that we will have to work better. I feel very positive because the team has worked very well, they have made many changes in respect of last season and I think that it's all looking good." This year Jourdain Jr. faces up tp a season without being able to share information with a team mate, now that Jimmy Vasser has left for a new team run by Stefan Johansson. "Jimmy (Vasser) gave me the benefit of his support and knowledge, we had a great relationship, but this will not be the first time that I've run alone in a team, so this year we have to up our game." In his seven years in CART, the driver from Mexico City has started 120 races and scored a podium at the Michigan Superspeedway in 2001, where he finished third, running in that year with the Bettenhausen Team. Given the rising numbers of Mexicans on the CART grid, Jourdain Jr. thinks that this situation will be great for motorsport fans.  "It's definitively a good thing (the arrival of more Mexicans) especially for the Mexican fans who follow CART and for the races being held in Monterrey and Mexico City." It's worth remembering that Michel Jourdain Jr. ended last season as the driver who had finished the most laps, in total 2,368.

2/7/03

Latest F1 Hot News 

Firman: The New Schumacher?
Burti Out, Felipe Massa In
Trulli Adapting To English Life
Decision On Bahrain Due Monday
Grand Prix Winner Dies At 97
McLaren Consider Legal Action?
Berger Lauds 'Revolutionary' FW25
Jordan Denies Charity Hand-Out
Brundle: Ralph In For Tough Year
Thumbs-Up For Malaysian Race
Coulthard's Search For An 'Edge'
Jos Uses Minardi As Springboard
Frentzen Backs Pitlane Equality
Brundle Questions Three-Year Deal

2/7/03

Spring Training observations   Our Scott Morris spent some time at Spring Training this week as well shooting photos and filed these random observations:

  1. Not in the Kurt Busch Transcript: Merrill Cain giving Kurt a hard time for being late. He said that they had granted him a license, and that now made him subject to fines (for being late to a press conference), and that he would be receiving that notice in the mail soon. Haha.

  2. Wally Dallenbach, when asked if he is here on CART business or pleasure replied with a sneaky smile "Oh...I'm just here on a project"

  3. Jimmy Vasser, when asked about the Reynard, said to a colleague in the pit "It needs some serious help", (but then again, this might just be posturing)

  4. Robin Miller to Jourdain after the Kurt Bush press conference when Jourdain commented on driving a stock car "Trust me...It would be a piece of cake for you"

  5. Dan Partel was seen in the Lola trailer and hanging around with the Lola guys quite a bit.

  6. The Players team has stickers on their toolboxes that have a logo of a crossed-out Tony George face from crapwagon.com

  7. Robin Miller said he is trying to get CART to do their own show with him on Speedvision.

  8. Memo Gidley was milling about the pit and paddock of course...sniffing around, as were several other drivers from the Barber Dodge ranks.

  9. Asked Dr. Steve Olvey if he has spoken with Alex Zanardi lately, and he said Alex is very into racing karts right now, but is looking at running touring cars, as they have been successfully outfitted with hand controls before.

  10. We were very surprised and impressed by Haberfeld. According to our segment timing, Haberfeld's speed in sections of the course did not seem to show in his overall lap times. He was visibly faster on the two more technical sections of the course than any other driver (was he sandbagging?). He also was the only new driver that I saw taking the same line as Tracy and Servia, through the tricky turn 3-4 section. I think he might be quite a surprise. He's my dark horse pick for a win or two this season.

2/7/03

Mid-Ohio date changed back to August 10th   UPDATE This change is also good for both the IRL and CART as now they don't go head-to-head on the same weekend in the same market (Mid-Ohio and Kentucky are geographically close to each other)  2/5/03 - According to Mid-Ohio's website, the date of this years CART race has been switched back to August 10th.  It was moved to August 17th when Road America was switched to August 3rd.  The means CART again has races on three consecutive weekends, Vancouver, Road America and Mid-Ohio.  We have updated our schedule pages.

2/6/03

 

The 5 Amigos   Last year there were three Mexican drivers in CART, and the were affectionately called the 3 Amigos.  This year there are five Mexican driver in CART, that we now call the 5 Amigos.  From left to right,  Adrian Fernández, Michel Jourdain Jr., Roberto González, Rodolfo Lavín and Mario Dominguez.

2/6/03

 

The new Champ Car series   This Portland Oregonian article says, This isn't the CART of five years ago, or even of last season. It even wants to be known by a different name: Champ Car. It is a leaner series that reflects Pook's vision of taking the competition to major urban markets around the nation and the world, combining new and established talent and teams that can operate on a budget that doesn't rival those of small governments. The cost of running the season has gone from about $10 million in 2002 to about $5 million this year. The series and Ford are offering nearly $1 million in incentives for each car this season.

2/6/03

 

Andretti said CART had to die   In a Gordon Kirby article on CART.com, Jim McGee was quoted as saying Michael Andretti told him CART had to die.  Chip Ganassi and Kim Green echoed similar sentiments, inline with Roger Penske, that CART would and must die.  They must have been disheartened to read Cancel The Funeral, by Steve Levinson.  Not only is CART going to survive, they are going to be even more shocked because we can now say with more certainty that CART, like the Phoenix, is about to rise from the ashes, and when it does, those who turned their back on CART will be on the outside looking in, while each day worrying about the Handwriting on those Concrete Walls.

2/6/03

Purex and Dial to sponsor Phoenix race  The Dial Corporation announced Feb. 6 that its Purex laundry detergents and Dial soap brands will share the title sponsorship of the prestigious Indy Racing League IndyCar Series event on March 23 at Phoenix International Raceway. The Purex Dial Indy 200 will be televised live at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on ABC Sports. Purex, the nation’s fastest-growing detergent and leading value brand in the laundry detergent segment, is the co-primary sponsor of the No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by IndyCar Series veteran Robbie Buhl. Dial soap, celebrating its 55th anniversary in 2003, is a major associate sponsor of Buhl’s car for the third consecutive year. The annual Phoenix race is a “home event” for Dial, which has its corporate headquarters in nearby Scottsdale, said Todd Gatzulis, marketing director of Purex and Dial’s other laundry care products, including Zout stain remover and Twenty Mule Team Borax laundry booster.

2/6/03

Possible departure of Winston stuns Spencer  When news trickled out this week of the possible departure of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company as the title sponsor of NASCAR's top series, many eyes and ears turned toward Jimmy Spencer - a sure bet to always put things in perspective. Spencer has been a vocal supporter of the company for years, dating back to his days driving the Travis Carter-owned race cars that were sponsored by RJR in the mid '90s. On Thursday, the future of NASCAR sponsorship was just one of many topics thrown at Spencer during Daytona Media Day. And as usual, Spencer had a lot to say. "When I heard about it, it bothered me, and it still bothers me," Spencer said. "They (RJR) were the ones who brought this sport to the forefront, whether it was going out on the town and giving away tickets, or doing promotions. I feel they brought us at least 75% of the fan base. This is NASCAR Winston Cup. It's hard to think that it could be called something else. It just doesn't sound right if the word 'Winston' isn't there." Spencer's admiration for T. Wayne Robertson, the former president of sports marketing for RJR who oversaw the company's NASCAR Winston Cup program, has been well documented. Spencer credits Robertson for the boost in popularity in racing, and even since Robertson's 1998 passing, the sport is still affected by his leadership. "He did incredible things for this sport," Spencer said. "The Winston Cup Preview was his idea to give back to the fans and give to charity. He used to give out tickets like it was candy, just to get people going to the tracks." Winston and NASCAR have reportedly discussed the prospect of the sanctioning body finding a new title sponsor for its top racing series, which, if it happens, would end a relationship of 32 years. The speculation comes one week after longtime NASCAR sponsor Unical 76 announced it was leaving the sport. "I feel it's the economy," Spencer said. "There is a lot of stuff going on all over the United States right now that we can't control. But if Winston leaves NASCAR - and right now it's just people speculating - but if it happens, it would certainly be something I never thought would happen. Hopefully the economy will turn around, not only for RJR but for a lot of people."

2/6/03

 

Bourdais takes top time at Spring Training   CART rookie Sebastien Bourdais turned a blistering 50.584 sec. lap at Sebring this afternoon to take top honors in this weeks CART Spring Training.  The Frenchmen goes into the 2003 season as one of the favorites to win the title.......not bad for a rookie.

1st Sebastien Bourdais 50.584 / 118.781 mph
2nd Bruno Junqueira 50.804 / 118.266 mph
OVERALL: Each driver ran two sessions today. Junqueira ran in the first session, while Bourdais ran in the second and third and Junqueira completed the test by running in the fourth session. Junqueira was the fastest driver in his session with 30 minutes to go before his day ended when the clutch malfunctioned. However, no driver was able to beat his time in the final 30 minutes. Each driver concentrated on making long runs on old tires in each of their first sessions and ran in qualifying trim for their second.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, #2 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "We learned a few things from the test and it was good to see how we compared to all of the other teams. We still have a lot of work to do to be ready for the first race though. I was also able to get some practice doing pit stops. The car was really good and consistent on full tanks and old tires. It was amazing. Near the end of my session the track was getting faster and faster. The track was almost black with rubber in the last session. It's a shame that Bruno didn't get to run at the end when it was the fastest. With each day, we are getting closer and closer to being ready for the first race but there is still much work to do."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "Overall the test was very good. To have a small problem end our test is disappointing but it is good to have these problems during tests rather than in a race. We were able to get a good balance on the car with full tanks and old tires in the morning session. The PacifiCare car was good in the afternoon session but we were never able to run on new tires because of the problem and see the potential of the car. I am confident that we were capable of a faster lap time."

2/6/03

FOX announcers rip Brooke Gordon  Darrell Waltrip: ''I don't know what would give anybody the right to think that he can subpoena another driver's records or anything else. This is just between Jeff and Brooke, not between Roush Racing or any other race team. It seems irrelevant and intrusive to even consider something like that.'' Jeff Hammond: ''When people start sticking their noses where it doesn't belong, then I get offended. I feel like this is none of Brooke's business, and it's none of her lawyer's business … they shouldn't bring everybody else into it. I don't agree with how she's handling this situation right now. I've lost a lot of respect for Brooke and her lawyer.'' Larry McReynolds: ''My gosh, there's enough [assets valued at $50 million] to go around for both of them for the rest of their lives. They shouldn't ruin our sport trying to get more for themselves. I hate to see other people in our sport dragged into their personal problems.''

2/6/03

 

The next American idol   With the new CART season kicking off at month’s end in St. Petersburg, a huge number of rookies will comprise a substantial portion of the field in this critical rebuilding year. Among the 2003 field is Floridian Ryan Hunter-Reay, for whom there could hardly be a more appropriate locale for launching the next phase of his meteoric open wheel career.  More....

2/6/03

 

More on Brewer/Pantano   Giorgio Pantano's Management Team, Brask Management, released a statement last week saying that they had cancelled Pantano's deal with Dan Brewer. "We cancelled the agreement due to breach of several significant points in our agreement by BC Motorsports and also due to the fact that the bond for participation in the CART Championship wasn't posted with the organizers," stated Team Brask Chairman Lars-Christian Brask. "I just hope that this will be a warning to the motorsport community to be aware of the tactics by the principal of BC Motorsports; Dana/Khalid Brewer," he concluded.  This is a loss to CART because Pantano is fast, very fast, on pace with Sebastien Bourdais.  Another team would be wise to pick him up, however, right now it appears he is headed back to F3000 and that really is too bad.

2/6/03

What RJR and Winston have meant to NASCAR  This CBS Sportsline article describes just how much Winston has done for NASCAR.  If they pullout, one has to wonder if their replacement (we are sure there will be a replacement) would do as much.

2/6/03

Massa signs with Ferrari  Ferrari announces that it has signed an agreement with the driver Felipe Massa that will join Scuderia Ferrari for the 2003 race season, as a test driver, working alongside test driver Luca Badoer.

2/6/03
Industry News

Shell profits up...yes and no  Royal Dutch/Shell on Thursday reported profits at the upper end of analysts' expectations, but the return on average capital employed, a measure of performance preferred by many major oil companies, dropped to 14 per cent from 19.2 per cent. And while fourth-quarter adjusted current cost of supplies earnings rose 46 per cent to $2.78bn for the fourth quarter, full-year adjusted CCS earnings for 2002 were 23 per cent down at $9.2bn as upstream and downstream income fell back.

2/6/03

Benson & Hedges deal worth $22 million  According to Alan Henry, in the British newspaper The Guardian, the Benson & Hedges deal with Jordan is worth $22 million.  In addition to its other sponsorship deals, its share of the TV revenue and the recent 'handout' from Bernie Ecclestone and rival F1 teams, this should give the Jordan team a fairly solid foundation as it. At yesterday's press conference, where the B&H deal was announced and Ralph Firman unveiled, team boss Eddie Jordan said he was looking forward to the new season: "I'm a total optimist," he said. "I think we've got a really sweet car this year. I think in the recent past we got carried away, finishing third in the '99 championship and winning races. We got overcomplicated in our efforts to move forward, losing our basic principles." Meanwhile according to The Sun, Ralph will be paid just $8,000 a race.

2/6/03

 

Still a lot for Fernández to do   This El Norte article By Enrique Guadarrama says (translation by Ed McFarlane), Adrian Fernández had an injury-plagued season last year, but the same old Adrian Fernandez is looking happy because this 2003 season brings another chance to show that he still has the ability to win races. The owner and driver of Fernandez Racing opened the doors yesterday of his "home on wheels" to talk about the dreams that keep him going in this fast moving sport and the daily work that his team is doing to keep up to with the front runners of the CART Series. "Life has given me a third chance to show that Adrian Fernandez still has a heck of a lot in him." said the Mexican, as he enjoyed a salad at the end of the morning practice session of Spring Training." The Mexican was involved in two accidents last year at Vancouver and Australia, which put his life in danger. After being injured in Australia, Adrian stayed away from the track and he returned a couple of weeks ago at Laguna Seca. "You can't escape accidents, they're a fact of life, but we're hoping that this year things will turn out in a positive way" He added that after the accidents he thought of retiring, but currently he has no objective other than to return to the podium and win races. "We hope to make up the lost ground, and show that Fernandez Racing was formed to be a winning team" he added. On the arrival of new talent and the rule changes in CART, Adrian said that they would be positive for the series. "We are in a transitional situation and Chris Pook has brought in excellent people in the last few months, that will help the series a lot, and concerning the youngsters, I can foresee that they will all be competitive." Gustavo del Campo, who now performs the role of team manager, said that Fernandez Racing will work on different aspects of the car to turn up well prepared for the season opener. "Today (Tuesday) we worked on the braking system and tomorrow we will focus on the shock absorbers" said Del Campo, " on the last day of training we will try out a different aerodynamic package." "The team is very optimistic, Adrian is very focused on returning to his known level in CART." Fernandez Racing will cease training tomorrow (Thursday) in anticipation of the season opener next 23rd February in the streets of St. Petersburg.

2/6/03

 

Snap-on to continue sponsorship   Committed to helping karting teams pursue excellence in their sport, snapon.com and Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow have announced a three-year relationship, with snapon.com sponsoring the Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow racing series through 2005. “We are pleased to take our sponsorship of the Stars of Tomorrow series to the next level as title sponsor, and we look forward to an extended relationship with the Stars organization,” said Carl Johanson, Snap-on manager of motorsports. “The demographic of the racers, technicians and fans in karting provides an ideal way for us to continue to support our existing customers, and to introduce new customers to the quality and value of the Snap-on® brand.”

2/6/03

Scenes from Sebring   Photo page

2/6/03

Burti quits Ferrari testing role  Luciano Burti has quit his role as test driver for the Ferrari Formula 1 team and plans a return to racing this season according to his official website. The Brazilian is expected to be replaced by Felipe Massa who failed to secure a race seat with Jordan. "I am grateful to Ferrari for the opportunity in 2002," said Burti. "It was a fantastic experience, and it gave me the condition to improve my technique, knowledge and speed. "I had a deal with them for the 2003 season, but I decided to return to racing. Due to my good relationship with the team, they agreed to release me, and we will keep a close link for future opportunities with Ferrari and Maserati. "I realised that I am ready to compete, and my aim for 2003 is to race in a competitive series, where I can win races and championships, which is my main motivation in motor racing."

2/6/03

Hornish may be overpowered  It was widely known in the IRL paddock that Sam Hornish had the most HP the last two years, which powered him to the IRL championship.  Now that Toyota and Honda have arrived, and Hornish still has a Chevy, his chances of winning regularly has taken a big step backward (on ovals the car is 99.9% of the equation).  Speeds posted at California Speedway for the Test In West this week were telling. Hornish was 13th among the 22 drivers participating and the fastest car powered by a Chevrolet engine was 12th (with Vitor Meira) against newcomers Toyota and Honda. Hornish downplayed his lack of speed. His Panther Racing car wasn't fast on opening day last year, either. "We'll be all right," he said. Said Michael Andretti, who ran only limited laps in his Honda: "Honda and Toyota know how much they'll compete against each other. I'm not sure General Motors knows how much (competition) they're in for."

2/6/03

Just one Joest Audi in ALMS   Team Joest will campaign a single Audi R8 LMP 900 prototype in all 10 ALMS races in 2003, with German drivers Frank Biela and Marco Werner at the wheel. Audi North America will support the Joest team's campaign, with the car again being sponsored by Infineon. “I am sure that both drivers will complement each other perfectly,” said Ralf Jüttner, technical director for Infineon Team Joest. “We have known Frank for a long time and value his experience and consistency. Marco Werner made an impressive debut appearance at last year’s running of the Le Mans 24 Hours.”

2/6/03

Latest F1 Hot News 

Webber Worried Cheats Will Win
Firman Eyes Grand Prix Success
Williams: Only A Week Of Learning
Michael Still Flying At Barcelona
McLaren Welcomes Firman To Grid
Jordan Paint Racers Yellow Again
Coulthard: One More Year Of Chasing
Allan's First Taste Of R23
Now Heidfeld Slams HANS Device
No Test Driver For Jordan - Yet
Advancing Years Foiled Irvine Return
Honda Plans 2004 F1 Championship
Ralf and Juan Wary Of F1 Bans
Coulthard: Ferrari Era Will Pass
Jordan: Ralph Brings Not A Penny

  Much More...click on 2002 archives button below
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