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2/18/03

Wild on E! at Sebring 12 Hours  The E! Entertainment Television Network’s popular program “Wild On E!” will visit Sebring International Raceway during the upcoming Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to tape a segment for its “Wild On Spring Break” episode. The 51st annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will kick off the 2003 season for the American Le Mans Series Mar. 12-15 at the famed Florida racing circuit. “Wild On E!” will visit six Florida locations to tape segments for a Spring Break-oriented episode that will air in June when the show’s new season begins. “Wild On E!,” which has been a fixture on the cable network for several years, visits and explores exotic locations, checking out the food, people, nightlife and fun that the world has to offer. The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring has long been an attraction for college students on Spring Break. Again this year, Sebring International Raceway will have its popular Hawaiian Tropic Spring BRAKE Party Zone, featuring attractions such as a Battle of the Bands, a bikini contest, beach volleyball and more. The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will start at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 15.  Four classes of American Le Mans Series cars will compete in the event, and some 60 cars are expected to take the green flag. The race will be televised live from flag-to-flag by the SPEED Channel, with live coverage by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web online at www.americanlemans.com

2/18/03

Toyota to launch Truck Ad campaign  Toyota won't wait until it's actually competing next year to begin supporting NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series, according to this week's issue of Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal. Senior writer Bill King says the company plans to begin advertising during the truck races on Speed Channel this year. No details about the ad campaign were disclosed.  Related story from Chicago auto show.

2/18/03

TWR for sale - cheap   Tom Walkinshaw's TWR Group is up for sale after being put into administrative receivership last week. The financial services group Price Waterhouse Coopers has been appointed as administrative receivers of the company and is seeking a buyer. In fact PWC is advertising the sale in the British Financial Times. The advert in the Financial Times reads as follows: "The joint administrative receivers offer for sale the business and assets of this world-renowned vehicle engineering consultancy. Principally based in the UK, the company has a strong reputation in engineering, design and manufacture of vehicles, through to the building of specialist racing vehicles and engines.
Principal features of the business include:
* supplier to the world's OEMs;
* technical centers based in Oxford and Sussex;
* state of the art virtual reality centre;
* OEM design, development and test capability;
* Europe's only commercially available 18 channel rig test facility;
* R&D function specializing in fuel cell application, telematics, advanced materials and high-performance track replay;
* specialists in accelerated development programs;
* highly successful racing division, with eleven championship titles;
* leading edge application of digital development techniques;
* 470 dedicated, flexible and highly motivated employees.
Interested parties are urged to contact Price Waterhouse Coopers in London

2/18/03

Foyt and Rice find the wall at Homestead  There were two incidents during the afternoon session today at Homestead.  Rookie A.J. Foyt IV was unhurt and cleared to drive after hitting the outside retaining wall in Turn 2. His No. 14 Conseco Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone suffered heavy damage in the rear.  “I was on my warm-up lap going into Turn 1, not even up to speed, and the car wouldn’t turn; it slid up into the gray,” 2002 IRL Infiniti Pro Series champion Foyt said. “It did a real slow spin and hit with the left rear and then the left front. Looking at it afterward, they think it bottomed out because there was a big scrub on the skid plate.”  A few minutes later, Buddy Rice also was unhurt despite brushing the outside wall exiting Turn 2 in his No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

2/18/03

Andretti tops 207 mph at Homestead  Michael Andretti knows the fast lane at Homestead-Miami Speedway, regardless of the type of car.  Andretti, a two-time winner at the 1.5-mile oval in CART, was the fastest driver at the two-day IRL IndyCar Series Open Test at Homestead-Miami after turning a top lap of 26.0394 seconds, 207.378 mph Feb. 18 in the No. 7 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Andretti, who is joining the IndyCar Series this season as a driver-owner, was the only driver to reach 207 mph in the test.  Story

2/18/03

Observations from Homestead testing  Today's Miami Herald Told everybody about the IRL testing and how it was open to the public. We never saw more than 25 people in the stands......The IRL race has dropped the "Miami grand Prix" Name. Curtis Gray said that The name caused too much confusion and that he didn't want to help publicize "that other race downtown'......The PDM racing team has no sign of sponsorship whatsoever......Watching the cars practicing this afternoon you can tell that The Toyota and Honda Cars, in particular the Penske and Andretti cars, are in a league of their own.....Helio said that they had been concentrating on qualifying setup yesterday and this morning and this afternoon they would concentrate on Race setup.

2/18/03
Industry News

High winds blow down tower at TMS  UPDATE Construction has begun on the new location for the scoring tower that recently fell in the infield at the speedway. On Jan. 28, the scoring tower, originally in Turn Three, fell during high winds near the speedway. Crews have dug the new hole in the infield near Turn Four to anchor the new tower and are busy building the new structure, which will be completed in time for RPM Week-Texas, March 27-30  1/29/03 - High winds Tuesday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway caused the 110-foot scoring tower inside of Turn 3 to fall to the ground. No one was injured when the electronic tower cracked at the base around 3 p.m. and fell parallel to the start of turn 4 on the north-end turn of the 1.5-mile oval TMS track. “I was talking on the phone and looking out the window of my office when it happened,’’ said TMS vice president and general manager Eddie Gossage. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.” The tower lists the numbers of 20 cars in descending order of their position during the race. An identical tower stands on the inside of Turn 1. “We will have structural engineers here looking at the other tower before the end of day,’’ Gossage said. “We have roped off the area around the standing tower with enough distance to keep everyone safe. We may put guide wires on it if the engineers feel it will help support the structure.’’  Dallas Morning News (with photos)

2/18/03

Pruett and Miller to drive for Gentilozzi   The reunion is set for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend February 21-23. Two-time Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup Champion Scott Pruett will get behind the wheel of the Rocketsports Racing, Jaguar R Performance XKR. This will be the first time since 1994 Pruett has competed full-time in the Trans-Am Series.  Pruett will attempt to capture his third drivers' championship, a feat accomplished by only three other drivers, including Trans-Am racing legends Mark Donohue, Tom Kendall and Paul Gentilozzi. During the 2003 season, Pruett will be driving the Jaguar R Performance XKR for Rocketsports Racing. Pruett is not new to the marque or the team. In 2002, he co-drove a Rocketsports Jaguar XKR to victory at the 2002 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona GTS class. In 2001, Pruett drove the XKR at the Laguna Seca Trans-Am event. Pruett comes back to Trans-Am with some impressive stats including 14 career wins, 20 poles and 44 "Fast Five" efforts. Pruett has even scored the victory here in 1987 on the old St. Petersburg street course. "Preparing for St. Petersburg will be done mainly after I arrive," said Pruett, who will be pulling double duty in St. Petersburg. In addition to his driving duties, he will also be calling the action in the TV booth during the Champ Car World Series race for SPEED Channel. "I've seen maps and pictures of the course, but you have to walk the course with your engineers to really see the bumps, learn the breaking zones, and get a feel for the layout. "Scott is a good friend and great competitor," said Rocketsports Racing team owner Paul Gentilozzi, who will be driving in select races this season. "It will be great to get him out of the booth and behind the wheel again." "Rocketsports has a proven track record," said Pruett, who is a long time friend and past competitor of Gentilozzi "They've won championships, and I have a great relationship with Paul. We always said that when the time was right we wanted to do something together. Well, the timing is perfect. "Our goal is simple - to come back and win another championship, I wouldn't be here unless I knew I had a shot at winning," explained Pruett. Trans-Am standout Johnny Miller will mark the beginning of his eighth season in the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend on February 21-23. Miller, who previously raced on the old circuit here in 1997 finishing 11th, will once again take the wheel of the No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer/AutomationDirect Jaguar XKR. This will be Miller’s third season racing the XKR with Rocketsports Racing. “Johnny is an outstanding driver and a good friend,” said Rocketsports team owner Paul Gentilozzi, a three-time Trans-Am Series champion. “He’s been a strong addition to our team.”

2/18/03

Newman's crash renews call for bigger greenhouses  After safety workers reached Newman's car Sunday, he climbed from his window and waved to the cheering crowd. Finding faster ways to get drivers out of their cars -- especially taller, or bigger, drivers -- is high on NASCAR's agenda. "NASCAR has been working for over a year on what we call bigger 'greenhouses,' which translates to more room in the cockpit for the drivers, especially bigger drivers such as Michael Waltrip," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's corporate vice president of communications. "One of the possibilities is to have an exit section in the roof of the car where they can extract a driver through a bigger opening in the top rather than through the window." Hunter said NASCAR officials kept Newman's car for "well over an hour" Sunday to analyze it for future research and development. "The fact he walked away from this crash is a testament to the way our guys build their cars," Hunter said. "Even though Ryan's Dodge was demolished, the protective roll cage surrounding him in the cockpit did what it was supposed to do." Florida Today

2/18/03

Daytona 500 TV rating down  UPDATE Preliminary figures showed about 29.4 million viewers tuned in to some part of the race. That was the fifth-largest TV audience in the race's history. ``Given the fact that we had just over two hours of live racing and never got the huge bump that is normal at the end of an uninterrupted race, to have this be among the most watched Daytona 500s ever is remarkable, `` Fox Sports president Ed Goren said.   2/18/03 - The overnight TV rating for this years Daytona 500 on FOX was a 9.8 compared to a 10.8 on NBC last year, down 10%.  However, the ratings were up 4% until the rain delay.  Still the number is more than double the Indy 500 TV rating of 4.8 (which plummeted after the CART/IRL split in 1996) and shows that Tony George's idea of creating the IRL has done nothing but severely damage the Indy 500, a race owned by his family, and made it a distant 2nd to the Daytona 500.  Let's hope the family doesn't disown him. Many Indy Car racing fans are disgusted with the split and refuse to support the IRL, which is why the series saw lower attendance and lower TV ratings in 2002 vs. 2001 according to the Joyce Julius report.  It's not gaining strength like the IRL would like us to believe.  See related story.  Many people, including AR1, lobbied hard for a CART and IRL merger, but Tony George would have nothing of it.  Now CART has sided with F1 and Bernie Ecclestone instead, which will be a big story when it all unfolds.  In some respects CART is better aligned with F1, which is also a road racing series, and the IRL is better aligned with NASCAR, their oval racing brethren.  It will now be the road racing cartel vs. the oval track cartel for world supremacy.  The war has just really begun.  Mark C.

2/18/03

Firman's first shunt   Jordan Ford continued its test session in Barcelona today, with Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralph Firman together completing over 500km of intensive testing. Fisichella set the third quickest lap time of 1:17.06 and continued the team’s program, which included chassis balance work and Bridgestone tire testing in preparation for the first races of the 2003 Championship next month. He completed 57 laps interrupted only by a small radiator leak early in the day. Firman’s schedule included race distance endurance runs and live pit stops as part of the team’s preparation for fuelling and tire change strategies. After 49 laps he suffered an off caused by a mechanical fault, which the team quickly identified.

2/18/03

IRL tries to drum up interest in CART's downtown Miami area  IRL attempted a promotion in downtown Miami during lunch to promote their upcoming race in Homestead, Florida.  They setup a stage by the water fountain right where the CART Champ Cars race (Fountain is hidden behind the stage).  Judging by these photos, not a lot of people showed interest in the product.  Let's hope this isn't an indication of ticket sales.

2/18/03

Panis Toyota on top in Barcelona  

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m15.508s 50
2 Fernando Alonso Renault M 1m15.943s 50
3 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan-Ford B 1m17.071s 56
4 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m17.712s 56
5 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m17.765s 42
6 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW M 1m18.377s 53
7 Jenson Button BAR-Honda B 1m18.889s 41
8 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m19.170s 53*
9 Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Honda B 1m19.718s 11
10 Jarno Trulli Renault M 1m20.348s 12
11 Ralph Firman Jordan-Ford B 1m20.593s 48
12 Allan McNish Renault M 1m21.860s 43

2/18/03

Schumacher tops Tuesday times at Imola  

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Michael Schumacher Ferrari B 1m21.795s 57
2 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1m22.739s 26
3 Luca Badoer Ferrari B 1m23.022s 15
4 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas B 1m23.396s 81
5 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Petronas B 1m23.414s 87

2/18/03

Live SPEED coverage kicks off CART season   SPEED Channel opens its coverage of the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season this weekend from St. Petersburg, Fla., as the cars take to the 1.806-mile street course for the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  SPEED Channel, which will cover 12 Champ Car events in 2003, also will offer live final-day qualifying at 18 of 19 races this season. SPEED’s coverage of Champ Car events in 2003 will begin with a 30-minute pre-race program.  More...

2/18/03

Three Ferrari's on track at Imola today Second day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro at the Imola circuit. Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello and Luca Badoer were all driving today. Schumacher switched between the F2003-GA and one of the two F2002 brought to the circuit. His program centered on a continuation of the development of the new car and tyre testing aimed at the opening few races of the season. Michael did a total of 57 laps: 34 with the F2003-GA (best time 1’21”980) and 23 with the F2002 (1’21”795.). Rubens Barrichello and Luca Badoer alternated their time between the two F2002. The Brazilian completed 26 laps, the quickest in 1’22”739, while the Scuderia’s official test driver did 15, with a best time of 1’23”022. Testing continues tomorrow.

 
(L to R) Schumacher, Barrichello, Badoer and Schumacher

2/18/03
F3000

More bad news for F3000  According to Autosport Professional, The Belgian Astromega Racing team, which has competed in the FIA F3000 series since 1995, is unlikely to take part in 2003. According to team principal Mikke Van Hool, finding drivers with the necessary €1m budget is "no longer realistic." The team is likely to switch to the new Renault V6 ‘spec' single-seater championship.

2/18/03

Newman gets right back in car  With just more than a day to shake off the cobwebs and stretch out of the soreness from his wild front-stretch flips in Daytona on Sunday, Ryan Newman is already looking ahead and ready to get back to racing. Newman will test his No. 12 Alltel Dodge Tuesday and Wednesday at Atlanta Motor Speedway in preparation for the March 9 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500. "It was a pretty hard hit, and when I saw the grass I figured I was in more trouble than hitting the wall," said Newman, whose car broke apart in huge pieces as he flipped down the infield grass at Daytona. "I had a wad of sod about eight inches thick and two feet long sitting in my lap. I couldn't get out of the car."

2/18/03

Speed Weeks proved on thing, trucks rule  When is someone at NASCAR going to realize that, year in and year out, the best race at Speed Weeks is the Truck race? Rick Crawford lost and then regained the lead on the last lap, and the top three trucks finished within .047 of second -- i.e. less than a truck-length -- of one another. And what did the Cup race give us? One green-flag pass.  More...

2/18/03

More woes for the Grand-Am series  UPDATE It appears that the Grand-Am is updating the Homestead entry list on their website daily, as it now shows 15 cars.  2/18/03 - The entry list for the Daytona 24 Hour race was the lowest we have seen in years, with some 45 or so entries.  The next race is the Nextel 250 to be held in Homestead in conjunction with the IRL race weekend.  In checking the entry list on the Grand-Am website, it only shows 13 cars with less than 2-weeks to go before the race.  Perhaps it s not up-to-date, but our Miami sources also tell us they hear less than 25.  13 or 25, both are low numbers for a sportscar race.  Brock Yates yesterday on the Speed site writes "word has it that the France family has informed the leadership to start making the Rolex series work, money-wise, or else. There was little happiness in Daytona Beach over the 24 Hour debacle, and doom may lie ahead for the series unless corrections are made. And fast."

2/18/03

Asiatech goods go for dirt cheap  According to this Grandprix.com article, The auction of the assets of Asiatech in Versailles last week gave an indication of the state of the Formula 1 economy at the moment with available V10 engines being sold off at around $7500 apiece and the company's dynos in Velizy fetching only the market rate. The company's transient dyno was bought by Peugeot - which built in the first place before Peugeot Sport's F1 operation was sold on to Asiatech - but otherwise there was little money raised with only the office furniture fetching decent prices.

2/18/03

Rules change if Chevy's continue to dominate  If the Chevrolets continue to have a lopsided advantage after Rockingham and Las Vegas, I'd [Jeff Hammond] look for the powers that be to make an adjustment. The change would have to be in the front end because that's where Chevrolet seems to have a better balance and a touch more front downforce than the other cars. Ford and Dodge haven't told [Hammond] what they're working on, but [Hammond] believes that both camps are already looking into a rule change in the front headlight area to create just a little bit more downforce. Of the 329 laps raced in the two 125-mile Winston Cup qualifying races, the Busch race and the Daytona 500, Chevy led all but seven or two percent of the laps. During Speedweeks, it was pretty clear that Chevrolet was the class of the field. FoxSports

2/18/03

Newman's car impounded  Ryan Newman's dramatic flip down the frontstretch was eye-catching, particularly for NASCAR officials, who were not pleased to see all those parts and pieces flying off the car. So NASCAR inspectors impounded Newman's car for further inspection, to try to figure out why the car appeared to simply shatter when it hit the ground. Winston Salem Journal

2/18/03

CART Champs try to master art of F1   This Knoxville Tennessee News article says, Many auto racing fans insist that Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series is the most versatile racing series in the world because it runs on oval, road and street courses. No other series - not Formula One nor the Indy Racing League (IRL) - does that. But it's difficult to say CART churns out the most versatile champions as well. CART champions who have made the jump to Formula One have found it tough going. Some argue that it's not really their fault, that unreliable cars - except for drivers lucky enough to pilot a Ferrari, of course - are to blame. But others say CART-trained drivers are simply too aggressive for Formula One. That charge rankles. "Absolutely not," said CART president Chris Pook. "All racing car drivers have to be aggressive if they want to succeed. Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve are and were aggressive. The key is to have the mental discipline to know when to use aggression and when to use finesse." More...

2/18/03

Tiago Monteiro makes debut in Fittipaldi Dingman Racing   The first of the 19 races in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford Championship, which will take place next weekend in the city of S. Petersburg (Florida-USA), will be the stage of Tiago Monteiro’s debut at the wheel of the only car in the team recently formed by Emerson Fittipaldi and James Dingman. It will also be the start of the most difficult season in the still short career of the Porto driver, who has represented Portugal in numerous racetracks around the world with great dignity. Tiago Monteiro is aware that he will have quite a tough start to the year, but his recognized professionalism and total dedication, together with the fact that he finds it easy to adapt to new challenges as we have seen throughout his career, are important aspects for overcoming his lack of practical knowledge of these new races. Tiago Monteiro will officially begin next weekend: “Just one day of tests next (today) in Road-Atlanta will not be enough for me to adapt to the car, which will need the “Shake down” to make sure everything is working correctly. I know that the race will not be easy, and therefore we should be very happy if we can finish. The first race will be a live test!” The Champ Car Championship (previously called Indy or CART) is at the top of motor racing and has a philosophy which brings out the drivers’ talent through very balanced technical regulations as opposed to the F.1 where there are enormous differences between the teams: “I have great expectations for this new stage in my career, which in spite of knowing that it will be quite complicated given the fact that I will not have many training sessions before the first race, it will, on the other hand, be helped by Emerson Fittipaldi’s valuable experience. I expect to get over the worst difficulties in as short a time as possible, and I hope to tell Emerson exactly what my doubts are both regarding technical aspects and about the driving. We are going to St. Petersburg looking on the race as a session of development tests. We know what to expect so for now we are putting our ambitions on hold.” Said Tiago Monteiro that, in the short period of two months he was invited to drive Renault’s F1 as a candidate for being a test driver for the large French automobile manufacturer, and now to sign a contract with the Twice World Champion in the Formula 1 and CART, Emerson Fittipaldi.

2/18/03

Q&A with Bill France  NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr.'s advancing age and recent battle with cancer have some wondering who would take the reins from stock-car racing's most powerful person when it becomes necessary. But after a couple of recent meetings with the press, nobody is left wondering who is firmly in control right now. It is still France. This past week at Daytona International Speedway, France talked with The Kansas City Star's Jim Pedley and answered questions about issues affecting the sport his father helped found.  Transcript

2/18/03

Ecclestone wants F1 superstar  The FIA may be trying to find different ways to ensure that the top teams have less of an advantage, but Bernie Ecclestone has admitted he would like to see Michael Schumacher win a sixth title. "Being totally serious - and what I'm about to say will surprise a lot of people - I hope Schumacher wins another world title because a super super superstar can only be good for any sport," the 72-year-old told Kicker magazine. "However, I don't want him to have it as easy as 2002. Although I doubt whether anyone can beat Ferrari."

2/18/03

Latest F1 hot news items 

Freezing Progress At Barcelona
Minardi Sign Bridgestone Deal
No More Mistakes For Jaguar
Minardi Face Survival Deadline
Octagon Confirm Silverstone Revamp
Uncluttered EJ13 Unveiled
FIA Stand Firm On HANS Device
DC Leads On HANS Improvement
Staunch Support For HANS Device
Jordan And Super Nova Join Forces
Problems For F2003-GA At Imola
Ultimate Target For Mr Coulthard
Webber: Jaguar R4 The 'Best Ever'
2003: Turning Point For BAR?
Funding Approved For Bahrain GP
Webber Applauds Friday Idea
Bobbi Stays On As Minardi Tester
No Worries For Jordan Power

2/18/03

Where are all the cars?  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, the IRL's Brian Barnhart was boasting recently that the IRL would have 30 or more cars this year.  I have been following all the IRL tests recently and I see no more than 19 or 20 cars at any given time.  Will they have 30 cars for Homestead?  Mike from Ohio, Dear Mike, we would be surprised to see anywhere near 30 cars on the grid at Homestead.  The IRL really is in no better shape than CART when it comes to car count, but you can bet they will have 33 cars for the Indy 500. However, it should be lost on no one that the IRL car count might be down from last year whereas CART's appears like it will be up.  Mark C.

2/18/03

Johansson website now live   Stefan Johansson's American Spirit website is now live. We have also added it to our Links page.

2/17/03

Troubles for new Ferrari at Imola  Ferrari ran into more problems with their new car today when Michael Schumacher was forced to abandon the opening day of testing at Imola. Schumacher, who had to stop testing the new F2003-GA last week because of teething problems with the car, completed only eight laps at the Italian circuit. Ferrari's crew performed a "complete overhaul of the car" after the world champion noticed a problem and eventually concluded the day in last year's F2002.

2/17/03

Giaffone enjoys first IROC race  Giaffone enjoys first IROC experience: Felipe Giaffone, the 2001 IRL IndyCar Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year, enjoyed another rookie experience Feb. 14 at Daytona International Speedway, competing in his first True Value IROC event. The True Value IROC series is racing’s “all-star game.” Twelve of the best drivers from various series compete in equally prepared stock cars in a four-race series. Giaffone competed in the series for the first time at Daytona with fellow IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr., who are in their second season of IROC competition. NASCAR Winston Cup driver Mark Martin won the event, while Giaffone finished 10th. Hornish and Castroneves finished eighth and 11th, respectively. “I had a great time there even though the result wasn’t great,” Giaffone said. “I had a lot of fun. There’s a lot of bumps you have to get used to, and the draft is a different type of draft. It’s not the same that we have here.” Giaffone got some tips from NASCAR Winston Cup star Jimmie Johnson, who finished third in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 16. “Johnson was very nice,” Giaffone said. “It was actually nice to see that all of them (IROC drivers from NASCAR) did good in the (Daytona 500).” Martin finished second in the Daytona 500 while Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick, who also competed in the IROC race, finished second and fourth, respectively, in the rain-shortened event. “We’re running with the best guys,” Giaffone said. “They’re all very nice, very down-to-earth and no big egos.” The next IROC race is April 5 at Talladega Superspeedway, but Giaffone is now focused full time on the Toyota Indy 300 on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the Purex Dial Indy 200 on March 23 at Phoenix International Raceway, the first two IRL IndyCar Series events of the season. “At IROC, once I get to the track, I’m fully dedicated to it,” Giaffone said. “But to be honest, right now I’m not think about Talladega. I’m focused not just on Homestead but all the races. IROC is a part-time job.”

2/17/03

Amazing save  Castroneves still hearing about IROC: Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves is still hearing friends and fans talk about his amazing save during the season-opening True Value IROC race Feb. 14 at Daytona International Speedway. Castroneves was running second to NASCAR Winston Cup star Jimmie Johnson. Another car touched Castroneves’ car, sending Castroneves into a spin into the infield grass. Castroneves returned to the track at the pit road exit entering Turn 1 at the tail of the field, but he didn’t lose the all-important aerodynamic draft from the pack of cars. The crowd went wild. And many of the veteran stock-car drivers praised Castroneves – in only his second year of IROC – for the save after the race. When the tape of race was broadcast on ESPN on Feb. 16, Castroneves’ phone starting ringing. “Everybody said: ‘I saw it. That was a hell of a job,’” Castroneves said. “Even Roger (Penske) came up to me and said, ‘Hey, man, people are still talking about IROC and that save you did.’ I saw it on the TV yesterday and said, ‘Yeah, good job, Helio.’” Castroneves finished 11th in the race.

2/17/03

De Ferran, Castroneves, Andretti fastest in Homestead  Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske and Michael Andretti of Andretti-Green Racing were fastest in day one of the IRL IndyCar Series Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Thirteen of the 19 IndyCar Series drivers posted speeds in excess of 200 miles-per-hour Monday as they prepared for the Toyota Indy 300, the IndyCar Series season-opener set for February 28 - March 2.  Story, Speeds, & Quotes

2/17/03

Fan Forum Town Meeting in Portland   Building on a successful idea that began last year in Columbus, Ohio and allowed fans of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford to discuss their sport with some of the most influential and established personalities in open-wheel racing, Champ Car announced today that it will host another "Town Meeting" in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday, February 26th from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. The event, officially titled "2003 Champ Car Town Meeting: Portland" will be held at The Doubletree Columbia River at Jantzen Beach, 1401 N. Hayden Island Drive - Exit 307 off of Interstate 5. The featured panel will include Champ Car President and CEO Christopher R. Pook, Champ Car's Senior Manager of Safety Lon Bromley, Bill Hildick- a member of the Portland team that brought the series to the Pacific Northwest in 1984 and a top Champ Car driver to be announced in the coming days. Former driver and current CBS and SPEED Channel television analyst Scott Pruett will serve as the moderator over the discussions. The Town Meeting is free and open to all Champ Car fans who register in advance. The evening's highlight will feature a question and answer session moderated by Pruett from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m., with all attendees welcome to ask questions. The question and answer program will be followed by a brief reception where guests will have the opportunity to meet and socialize with the evening's panelists. Beginning this evening, ticket reservations for the Town Meeting can be made through Champ Car's official web site, www.champcarworldseries.com. A limited number of tickets are available for the event and will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis with priority status being given to members of the Champ Car Winner's Circle Fan Club. Those in attendance at the Town Meeting will also have the opportunity to win one of nine spots in the Champ Car FANatics promotion, which gives fans a once-in-lifetime opportunity to be immersed in the pre-race activities as teams prepare for battle on race day at Portland International Raceway. Attendees can also register to become one of two chosen to win a pace car ride around Portland's 1.969-mile permanent road course that has hosted the series since 1984.

2/17/03

Dr. Panoz honored   Dr. Don Panoz, founder of the American Le Mans Series and owner of three of North America’s most successful permanent road racing facilities, was honored with a special tribute ceremony at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. Dr. Panoz’ accomplishments in motorsports were lauded in the tribute, which included many personalities from Canadian motorsports. The 30th annual Canadian International Auto Show is the largest automotive show in Canada and one of the largest in North America. Ron Fellows, one of Canada’s most famous racing drivers, spoke to the crowd at the tribute and thanked Dr. Panoz for providing the series in which he competes. The driver for the factory Corvette team won seven races and the GTS class driving championship in the American Le Mans Series last year. During his remarks, Fellows added that racing fans have benefited as much as drivers with the overall growth of sports car racing due to the formation of the series. On behalf of SPEED Channel, Carl Tupper praised Dr. Panoz for the rebirth of sports car racing with the creation of the American Le Mans Series, and for his rejuvenation of Mosport International Raceway, Road Atlanta and Sebring International Raceway. Tupper presented Dr. Panoz with three bottles of the Ontario Wine Region’s most sought-after wines. Myles Brandt, President and General Manager of Mosport, presented Dr. Panoz with the original artwork of the 2002 American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Mosport event program cover. Created by artist Norbert Lisinski, the original painting depicts several ALMS cars racing through corners 9 and 10, the last two turns of Mosport International Raceway. The American Le Mans Series has a large presence at the show, which runs through February 23 at the Toronto Convention Centre and SkyDome. ALMS drivers Scott Maxwell, Melanie Paterson and John Graham will be signing autographs from 1-2 p.m. on Saturday, February 22, at the ALMS paddock display. The location is South Metro Convention Centre, 800 level - Hall G.

2/17/03

Al Unser to make his debut at St. Petersburg   Twenty-year-old Al Unser will make his professional racing debut with the Barber Dodge Pro Series at St. Petersburg. The son of Al Unser Jr. and the grandson of Al Unser - both two-time Champ Car title winners - the youngest Unser continues his climb up the Champ Car Ladder System after competing in the Formula Dodge National Championship (Official National Amateur Championship of Champ Car) during the 2002 season...The Barber Dodge Pro Series, the "Official Entry Level Professional Race Series of Champ Car" and a key step on the Champ Car Driver Development Ladder, will open its 2003 racing season on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg. The Pro Series race will be featured as the Saturday race at 3:45 p.m., directly following final Champ Car qualifying. A full field of 27 competitors will take the green flag for the 40-minute timed race.

2/17/03

Renault tests 3 versions of engine  The Renault F1 team today began a new test session at the Barcelona circuit, Spain. The team started the day with three cars. Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso drove the R23s where as test driver Allan McNish ran in the R202. Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director of the team, commented: "A reasonable production first day testing at Barcelona, although the cold and damp weather conditions made it a little difficult for drivers and cars to run. Jarno Trulli carried out race simulation in the old-spec R23, which he successfully completed. While Fernando ran for the first time the new aero-package in the R23 and managed fairly competitive times given the conditions. Allan worked on suspension development on last year's car. Hopefully we will have some warmer temperatures for the rest of the test." Tomorrow Fernando Alonso will progress to tyre development work with Michelin in the new-spec car and Jarno Trulli will continue further work on car reliability.

2/17/03

2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series preview   The 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series will once again bring the best and the brightest of the future of open wheel racing together to fight for the Series Championship. The field of talented racers hopes to convert success in the Pro Series into a step up the ladder, the same way Juan Montoya, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and A.J. Allmendinger have done before them. Driving identically prepared Dodge-engined Reynard 98E's equipped with Michelins, the 2003 field, with its mix of returning drivers and swift rookies, should spawn some exciting and close racing in the intense quest for the $100,000 top-prize and the over $1 million total purse. More.....

2/17/03

Barcelona test times - Monday  

Driver Team Fastest time of day
Alonso Renault (M) 1:15.98
Trulli Renault (M) 1:18.86
Fisichella Jordan Ford (B) 1:19.13
Firman Jordan Ford (B) 1:19.46
McNish Renault (M) 1:21.34

2/17/03

Cosworth gives Minardi a deadline  Cosworth have given Minardi a deadline to pay for their 2003 engines. Tony Purnell, head of Ford’s Premier Performance Division - is anxious to avoid a repeat of last year’s Arrows situation but says he is optimistic that will not happen. He said: “Paul is struggling but to be honest I think that he always has done. We are trying to support him but we are also trying to be rational. But I think that it will all be worked out. “When Paul went into Formula 1 he knew it was going to be an uphill struggle. I don’t think that has changed. “There’s a deadline for Minardi – it is not particularly mysterious. If you go into a dress shop and you see a dress you really like you have got to come up with the money you need to buy it. “The Arrows thing was tough for Formula 1 and tough for Cosworth and all the parties involved will be looking to avoid that sort of embarrassment again.” But Purnell said there were no such worries surrounding Jordan’s supply of Cosworth engines. He said: “Jordan has been put to bed and we are starting the season with a positive outlook. The I’s have been dotted and the T’s have been crossed so off we go racing.”

2/17/03

Minardi signs with Bridgestone  The Minardi Team today announced that it has concluded an agreement with Bridgestone for the supply of tires in 2003. This renews an association that dates back to the Japanese tire manufacturer’s entry into Grand Prix racing, in 1997. “We’re very pleased to have brought these negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion today,” comments Minardi Team Principal, Paul Stoddart. “We now look forward to an excellent working relationship with our new tire supplier, Bridgestone, during the coming season.”

2/17/03

Ralf jealous of brother  Ralf Schumacher says on his website, “It will take some time before this car becomes competitive. I was frustrated with that in Valencia, but at the end of the day, when I'd watch TV, I'd see that my brother kept breaking lap records in Fiorano. I'll have to admit I was annoyed with that.” “For sure, Michael gets the result of all the work he's put in over the years for the Scuderia, but sorry to put it this way: I am disgusted that he's so lucky” (Ralf told his German website that this makes him want to puke). When hearing this, Michael replied: “My brother didn't know that the Fiorano track had been re-paved. If only he'd took the time to call me, I would have told him. And, Ferrari isn't the only one breaking lap records. If I remember well, his own car has beaten the Valencia track record” which belonged to Juan Pablo Montoya until Antonio Pizzonia bettered it on Friday.

2/17/03

New PR Director for Johansson team   Katie Brannan has signed on as PR Director for Stefan Johansson's American Spirit team. She takes over for Rick Shaffer who recently signed on with the team, but he and the team went their separate ways we here.  Mark C.

2/17/03

Minardi re-signs Bobbi as test driver  Minardi has re-signed 24 year old Italian Matteo Bobbi as a test driver for a third year running. Bobbi is the second test driver for the team for this season, alongside Russian Sergey Zlobin. The team has said that the Italian will take part in a number of the new Friday morning test sessions at F1 races this year. "He is a talented individual, who has worked with us now for the past two years," said team boss Paul Stoddart. "In that time, he has built up an excellent rapport with the team, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with him." Bobbi said: "I am both pleased and honored that Minardi has once again asked me to assist with the test program for its new chassis. I believe from speaking with the engineers that the PS03 has great potential, and I am looking forward to helping them achieve the maximum from the car."

2/17/03
F3000

Derek Hill, Giorgio Pantano could drive for Jordan Jr. team  Today the Jordan Grand Prix Junior Team has been formed following an agreement between Super Nova Racing Ltd, the most successful Formula 3000 team in the history of the category and the Silverstone based Jordan Grand Prix Formula One team. David Sears who was Eddie Jordan’s first driver when he founded the Eddie Jordan Racing Formula 3 team in 1981, comments: “It’s great to be working with Eddie and his team after such a long time. However our paths have run very parallel courses through the years, having both been drivers and then having teams in Formula 3000 and also with driver management." This new initiative will allow us to cross-pollinate sponsors and drivers for each other. I see it as an excellent working relationship from the start and hopefully a boost for the image of Formula 3000 in a difficult economic time. Drivers at the moment are to be announced in the near future but it is hopeful that perhaps Giorgio Pantano who missed out on a Champ Car opportunity recently could be a possibility as a test driver for Jordan Ford Formula One and as a race driver with Jordan Grand Prix Junior Team. Other drivers in the frame such as American Derek Hill (see rumors page as the Den Bla team also has their eyes on Hill) could be considered along with Italian Enrico Toccacelo and Frenchman Bruce Jouanny. The team will benefit from technical support and the relationship could create a platform for the development of human resources and training personnel for the Formula One environment.”  Team Principal, Eddie Jordan commented: “David and I have been talking for some time about the possibility of a collaboration between our teams and today’s announcement marks the culmination of those discussions. We will work together on a number of fronts, developing driver programs, encouraging sponsorship into the sport and providing technical assistance where relevant.” The Super Nova cars will be painted in the familiar Jordan yellow and black as the base color with the sponsors and drivers to be announced in due course.

2/17/03

Busch TV ratings up  Saturday's Busch race scored a 3.6 household overnight rating, the race's highest overnight mark since 1998. That's 24 percent better than FOX's Busch race here, in 2001, a 2.9. The 1998 Busch race here scored a 3.7 overnight on CBS. Overnights include 55 of the country's largest TV markets. Comparative overnights for last year's Busch race on TNT are not available, but the event pulled a 2.2 nationally. When the complete national ratings are in, by Friday, Fox officials expect the Busch ratings to be 50 percent higher than last year's, which would make it the most watched Busch race ever from Daytona.  Winston Salem Journal

2/17/03

NASCAR salaries skyrocket  In the escalating battles among car owners to hire away crewmen from rivals, Richard Childress says the bidding war in the NASCAR garage for aerodynamicists, engineers, fabrication specialists and pit crew men is getting way out of hand. Anyone is fair game in this struggle. Dale Earnhardt Inc. just hired two key pit-road men from the Woods; Doug Yates just hired away a key aerodynamicist from Childress; and Childress just hired an excellent fabrication-shop guy away from DEI. "Hey, this is a major-league sport," Greg Zipadelli, Tony Stewart's crew chief, says. "You've got to take care of your players." "It's bad, and we're our own worst enemies, because the salaries have been pushed sky-high," Childress says. "Some salaries have skyrocketed, because of someone trying to hire someone else. Everybody is after the (fabrication) guys now. "When you lose somebody, you've got to replace them, and it usually winds up costing you more. The price of this sport keeps going up."  Winston Salem Journal

2/17/03

Getting the call   Some Winston Cup crew chiefs are critical of NASCAR's new system for pre-race selection of the crucial carburetor restrictor plates. Ever since NASCAR went to the air-choking plates to cut speeds at the tour's two biggest tracks some 15 years ago, drivers and crews have at times questioned just how fair that selection process might be, with rumors frequently rampant about a particular driver getting just the right plate. That issue is once again being raised in the garage, with the lack of randomness of the selection at particular issue.  NASCAR has long been known to make The Call on any particular day.  Winston Salem Journal

2/17/03

Ford & Chevy worried about Toyota   GM and Ford teams are both worried that when Toyota comes into Winston Cup racing, it will raise the financial stakes considerably, and that GM and Ford executives in turn will have to cut back on the support they give their own teams if they have to start matching Toyota's expected surge of TV ads. General Motors' dominance at Indianapolis is about to end, according to first reports from the open-wheel camp. GM has been in tight at Tony George's track since the Indy Racing League's breakaway from CART seven years ago. But this year, Toyota and Honda have decided to abandon CART and move to the IRL for its Indy 500 marketing angle. Now GM's Chevy brand will have some serious competition at the Brickyard, and IRL men say that Toyota's new Indy 500 engine is so far ahead of what Chevy has to offer than the 500 itself looks to be an all-Toyota affair. That can't be good news for Detroit officials, who are looking nervously ahead at Toyota's big step up the ladder in the stock-car world. "If another manufacturer wants to come in and compete," GM's Doug Duchardt says, "you just have to look at what they're bringing and how to address the new competition. We know when Toyota comes into a series, they come in with a well thought-out plan. And they are a patient company that will take their time and grow this. I'm sure we'll be racing against them in the future. "There are a lot of things in stock-car racing that you have to learn and work around. I'm sure they'll have a proper plan to address all those things before they step up to Cup. In Formula One and IRL, they are properly funded, and I'm sure that will be the case here. "Certainly there is a concern," Duchardt said of the possibility of having to spend more money to compete with Toyota. "But until we get into the middle of it and see what actually happens that's premature." Winston Salem Journal

2/17/03

Latest F1 hot news items 

Bernie's TV Tax For Rich Teams
Shoot-Out For Survival At BAR
Rubens Could Sneak World Title
Webber Calls For Stability
Coulthard: Age Shall Not Weary
Ferrari Vs McLaren In Australia
Jos Unsure About New Rules
Jag Deny Cost-Cutting Drive
Arrows Packed Into Boxes
No Radical Racer For Minardi
HANS: Compulsory Or Not For '03?
DC: Fuel Rule To Confuse F1
Willis: Implications For Fuel Rule
Manning Aims To Mirror Da Matta
Richards Unconcerned By Driver Spat
DC: Kimi's Hype Is Unfounded
Albert Park Enjoys A Drink
Davidson Primed For Le Mans
Jaguar: No Ferrari Policy In Oz
Slap In The Face For Team Bosses

2/17/03

Trans-Am Series announces new rules   The Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup has instituted several significant rule changes for the 2003 season. The 2003 rules give multi-valve engines a much-needed boost. Four-valve, 275-cubic-inch, fuel-injected engines will be allowed to run this year with no weight penalty.  More...... 

2/17/03

Gentilozzi working on return to Detroit for CART and Trans-Am   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1...just wanted to pass along a tidbit for your rumors or hot news page that I heard on AM1270 sports radio here in Detroit Sunday evening. It was on a racing show with Larry Henry (voice of Michigan speedway) and his guest was Paul Gentilozzi, a Michigan native, and CART Champ Car team owner and soon-to-be-owner of he Trans-Am series.  They were discussing the upcoming CART and Trans-Am seasons. At the end of the interview, the idea of CART and Trans-Am returning to the Motor City was discussed and Paul mentioned that he had discussions with local and state officials about building a permanent road course of some kind AND a drag strip to get the NHRA back in the Detroit area. While nothing appears imminent, Paul did state that he was not going to let this die and would be continuing to look into it. Considering the Big 3 and all, it makes sense that Detroit should have these races back someday. Lets hope so. Terry White, Belle River, Canada.  Dear Terry, if there is one thing CART isn't short on, that is venues. Finding an open date is always going to be the problem.

2/16/03

Bernie the Taxman  UPDATE A reader writes, instead of a weight penalty for the successful teams, now he (Bernie) wants a financial penalty? Win on Sunday, pay on Monday?  Ever since motor racing began to be televised and sponsor financed, this problem of the haves versus the have nots has been around and it isn't going to go away. Successful cars are shown on TV more, meaning the sponsors are happy with the extra air time; the less successful ones get TV time when they're being passed or expire in an extraordinary fashion. It's a vicious circle.  Winners get more money for R&D to find those extra tenths and make those 'go-faster' pieces; also-rans still have to struggle with what they can get. The fast/best get faster/better and the back-markers stay at the back. When I raced, we used to call those 'go-faster' pieces that the well funded teams had "unobtainable." I doubt that any of the teams are going to give their ok to Bernie's latest proposal. Warren Davis  2/16/03 - Bernie Ecclestone and the taxman have never been soul mates but now it seems Bernie is planning to collect his own taxes in Formula 1 in an effort to support the struggling small teams in Formula 1. Ecclestone is proposing that a "TV tax" be levied on the teams which get the most coverage. "If we want to keep a high level of technology, we must find a means to keep the less competitive teams alive," Ecclestone says. "The ones which win the races are the ones who make the most money and I am proposing to charge them for it. The money would be handed back to the less competitive teams." The FIA says that it is a matter for Ecclestone and the teams to sort out between them as it has no jurisdiction in commercial issues unless they threaten the long-term well-being of the sport. The teams agreed in principle to find money to keep the small teams in business but that agreement has since fallen apart and it is this which has led to Ecclestone's new approach. It is in the interest of the big teams to support Bernie's idea because otherwise they will be in a very weak position as they are contractually bound to supply a minimum of 20 cars at every race.  Grandprix.com

2/16/03

Houston Superspeedway faces uphill battle   According to this Houston Chronicle article, As a member of a group of investors planning to build a motor speedway south of Houston, Tom Floyd wants to know what size track do the drivers want. Floyd had the survey distributed to NASCAR and Indy Racing League drivers. Some of the first respondents were four-time Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon and veteran Rusty Wallace. "One of the reasons we did the survey is to make sure what we are doing is on their radar screen; that we are working down here," said Floyd, chairman of Star State Investments, which is developing the facility. "This, by no means, was to jump up and down for them to race in Houston." Construction on the project, to be called Houston Super Speedway, in Brazoria County is expected to begin in the next two months. The track, which will be built to accommodate NASCAR and IRL events, will be on 2,800 acres near Alvin along Texas 288 and FM 1462. About 1,300 acres and $100 million will be devoted to completing the 1.2-mile oval track, which is scheduled to open in 2005. The complex will include a 75,000-seat grandstand area and 50 to 60 luxury suites. Feedback has been encouraging, Floyd said. Still, some drivers and officials attending Speedweeks at Daytona are skeptical of building such a facility with the uncertainty over whether racing leagues will commit to a date. "The sport has grown a lot, but building a track and not having a Winston Cup date is tough," Corpus Christi native Terry Labonte said. "The IRL cars just don't draw the crowds that NASCAR does. Busch doesn't draw the crowds. "If I were an investor, unless I had plenty of money ... I would have to really think twice before I built a facility like that. You're really stuck because they aren't going to give you a date and they aren't going to commit until you have a facility. And then there's no guarantee." Landing a Winston Cup date is probably out of the question for several years, if at all, with NASCAR studying a possible realignment of the current schedule. NASCAR officials have said they would consider many factors, including location, state of the facility and proximity to population centers, when discussing putting a race in a new market.  "It's absolutely a risky venture," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications. "There is so much talk about the track already in Texas, I'm not even aware of the track in Houston." Floyd said it is premature to begin thinking about landing race dates, and he realizes none of the major racing circuits will commit until the track is completed. He said the track is being built with the idea under the pretense there will not be a Winston Cup race. "We want to build a track that makes sense, that even without a Winston Cup date it's a financially viable deal," Floyd said. "We don't have to have a Winston Cup race to make it work." Houston is intriguing to drivers with Texas roots. "It's just exciting to know that big-time auto racing might be coming to Houston," said Aldine High graduate David Starr, who competes in the truck series. "It's already in Texas. Texas Motor Speedway is such a beautiful facility and I'm glad to be a part of it. I'm glad we go there and race. To have a track built in my hometown would be exciting." "I'd love to have a race back in Houston," said Winston Cup driver Larry Foyt, son of four-time Indy 500 champion A.J. Foyt. "It's a huge market. There are a lot of race fans there. It's something I think there is definitely room for."

2/16/03

Rumors of CART's death greatly exaggerated   This Kansas City Star article says, Rumored to be in its death throes three months ago, CART appears to have rallied past the forecasts of skeptics -- if not their own hopes. It looks as if CART will meet president and CEO Chris Pook's guarantee of opening the 2003 season with 20 races and an 18-car lineup. And things look even better beyond that. Most in racing say to credit Pook for CART not slipping beneath the waves for good this year. "I think what Chris has done with the series since he came aboard has obviously brought it a huge amount of momentum here, which to a large part enabled people like myself to put together a deal to run a team in the series," said team owner Stefan Johansson, a former driver.

2/16/03

Fittipaldi still trying to bring CART back to Brazil   In this ESPN.com article, Emerson Fittipaldi, who is fielding a Champ Car team this year says, "I just got back from England and everyone is talking about the CART race at Brand's Hatch," he said. "My friends from Germany are excited that CART is coming back and I am working on taking CART back to Brazil next year. "Most of the races are still in North America but fans all over the world like to watch CART races. I think there is a space behind F1 and nobody is there. I think we can fill that space."  "There were so many bad rumors about CART last year but now we've got 19-20 cars, a new race at Brand's Hatch, we're going back to Germany and maybe Estoril (Portugal) next year," Fittipaldi said. "I feel a lot of enthusiasm in the CART paddock and I think people will be surprised at how good the competition is." In CART's melting pot of nationalities, Montiero will be its first driver from Portugal. But he's got the same F3000 and Formula 3 education as France's Sebastian Bourdais, England's Darren Manning, Switzerland's Joel Camathias and Brazil's Haberfeld. "I've only been racing five years so every year is a new challenge and even though I tested an F1 car (Renault) I was always leaning more towards CART," said the 26-year-old. "I wasn't even supposed to be in this business five years ago so I was never expecting to go into F1. "I never thought I could come over here but I don't think there's any place better than CART for me."

2/16/03

Schumacher now happy with HANS Device  World Champion Michael Schumacher has said that he is happy with the new HANS (Head and Neck Support) protection drivers will have to use in the 2003 season. "We have found a good solution for the HANS system," Schumacher said. "It is much safer for the driver if we use it, there's no doubt about that." "All we need now is to see if every driver will be comfortable using it, if that's not the case then I don't think it should be compulsory," he concluded.

2/16/03

Chance of rain at Daytona   The one streak that NASCAR officials want to see continue today is the streak that the Daytona 500 has never been postponed because of rain. The National Weather Service predicts a 70% chance of rain after 2:00pm/et today at Daytona International Speedway. Current plans have a 1:28pm/et drop of the green flag, but that could be moved to closer to 1:00pm/et if rain threatens (the race used to start at 12:15 pm.  We wonder who made the decision to move it back, leaving a smaller window to get it in.). The rain could be heavy -- and lightning is possible -- but the thunderstorms won't last all day, said Scott Kelly, an NWS meteorologist in Melbourne. "It would come in the form of a line of showers, but it wouldn't be a long-duration rain event," Kelly said. "There is a good chance it will be able to start on time. There is a chance it will hold off until the race is over." The Speedway has 10 jet dryers to dry the track in case of rain. Once the rain stops, it normally takes between two and three hours for the entire 2.5-mile oval to dry. The lead driver must complete 100 of the scheduled 200 laps to have an official race. Fans should note -- they cannot bring umbrellas into the grandstands. Daytona Beach News Journal

2/16/03

Jackie Stewart says Rubens can win title  In a Sunday Mirror newspaper article, Jackie Stewart is backing Rubens Barrichello to topple world champion Michael Schumacher this year - if Ferrari give him the chance. Ferrari's claim that their new car will show the biggest ever improvement in performance has sent shock waves through Formula One. Schumacher deepened the fears by setting a lap record at the team's Fiorano test track on his first run in the F2003-GA. Yet Stewart is convinced Barrichello has the ability and now the experience to oust his team-mate and become the savior of F1. Stewart, Barrichello's team boss for three seasons before the Brazilian joined Ferrari in 2000, said: "I thought Rubens drove tremendously last season - as well as, if not better than, Michael. And I sense he has acquired the mental toughness any driver needs to succeed at this level. "The problem, of course, is that while Michael is there he is the No.1. It is very much down to Ferrari." Ross Brawn, Ferrari's British technical director and master tactician, said: "If Rubens gets into the position of having a better chance of winning the title than Michael, we would support him. It is not about favoritism, it's about winning." That message was echoed by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo as he declared: "Our No.1 driver is the one who is the quicker." The Scot said: "I know Rubens well. He is a good man as well as a very talented racing driver. I know you will get the best out of him if he feels he is getting the support and opportunity he needs. "Of course, Michael has to start favorite and it would be very difficult for Rubens or anyone else to buck the trend, but you never know. Stranger things have happened." Barrichello, who was privately fuming over the team orders in Austria, is determined to be quickest out of the blocks this year. In his three years with the team he has finished fourth, third and second. Now he says: "I want to win the championship and I believe I can. "Michael is a fantastic driver, but I have learnt a lot and I am confident my time will come."

2/16/03

Phoenix looking for 2nd Cup race   via a PIR press release: "We have informed ISC and NASCAR that Phoenix wants a second cup race, and the entire state is behind the effort, including the governor. - We plan to attack this challenge much like cities go after the Olympics - show all the strength's of the area and how the area continues to grow. - We have held Cup races since 1988, and have sold out every one. Our tickets go on sale next week and we expect another quick sell out. We will be offering anyone who currently holds a season-ticket at PIR, or purchases a 2003 two-day Cup ticket, first chance to buy tickets for the new cup date. This offer will come shortly after we make our intentions public. - A recent survey showed that there were more than 1.9 million self-claimed NASCAR fans in the Phoenix area alone. This new date will allow us to draw more on that pool of fans. - When ISC purchased PIR, Phoenix ranked as the 19th TV market. Phoenix is now 15th and moving up fast since the Southwest is the fastest growing area in the U.S. We will be asking the decision makers to award us a second date not on where we are now, but on where we will be in a few years. During this time, we will be adding lights and seats, improving the media centers, opening a tunnel to the infield, widening turn two to increase track speed and a larger TV market. (This is basically the same thing Jacksonville did when going for an NFL team) - We know of Cup drivers who would love to see PIR get a second cup race over California or Kansas. They will be supporting our cause when asked the right questions.", also see a story at the Arizona Republic: PIR lobbies for 2nd NASCAR race by Mark Armijo.

2/16/03

More on Brooke Gordon subpoenas   Ray Evernham, Felix Sabates and Chip Ganassi did not have to give depositions Friday in the Gordon divorce case. The three Winston Cup team owners had received subpoenas -- Evernham got his at Daytona International Speedway (Sabates and Ganassi on a Yacht in a local harbor) -- from lawyers for Brooke Gordon. They filed motions to quash the subpoenas in Palm Beach County on Friday. Brooke Gordon lawyer Terry Young said only the owners of the car driven by Johnny Benson were not served. The owners have objected to the subpoenas because they do not want to give information about how much they pay their drivers and the value of their teams in general. Daytona Beach News Journal

2/16/03

Toyota NASCAR effort in North Carolina   Toyota officials said yesterday that they plan to build a major Southeastern racing center in the Triad of North Carolina. Toyota announced plans to step up to NASCAR's Craftsman Truck series next year, and there is intense speculation that it will step up to the Winston Cup tour by 2006. Winston Salem Journal

2/16/03

NASCAR clarifies red-flag rule   NASCAR has implemented a new procedure to help guide its use of the red flag to ensure green-flag finishes in its BGN and Cup series. In Saturday's BGN race at Daytona, if a caution had been with less than five laps remaining in the 120-lap event, the race would not be restarted under green. NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said the procedure would also be used in Sunday's Daytona 500, and likely with the same five-lap rule in effect. "As with any new procedure, NASCAR will evaluate its use and effectiveness and decide how best to implement it in the future," Zizzo said. The new procedure was adapted to attempt to remove the complaints about the random nature of how the red flag is used to try to ensure green-flag finishes, Zizzo said. NASCAR's Truck series requires a green-flag finish. If there is a late-race caution races in that series are extended in two-lap segments until a green-flag finish is achieved. ThatsRacin.com

2/16/03

An interview with Dave Richards  Following is the transcript of a telephone hook-up between BAR Formula One team chief David Richards and Australian media on February 13, arranged by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation.  Transcript

2/16/03
Announcement

Forums up again  Our discussion forums are up again after being down for maintenance.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

2/15/03

Todd Bodine might be in big trouble for wrecking Vasser   This AP article says, after finishing last season on probation, Todd Bodine might be headed back there. Bodine triggered a three-car accident with two laps to go in the Busch Series season opener Saturday at Daytona, bumping Jimmy Vasser from behind as the cars entered Turn 3. Vasser spun and pushed Jason Keller into the wall, then Mike McLaughlin plowed into Vasser's car. Vasser and McLaughlin weren't injured, and Keller was taken to a hospital for a CT scan to check for a possible concussion. Keith Barnwell, Keller's team manager, said the tests were simply precautionary. After the race, Bodine was required to attend a meeting in the NASCAR truck. He left visibly shaken. "I tried to be patient and run a clean race, and I run right into him,'' said Bodine, his voice breaking with emotion. "I don't blame anybody, but he let off. I did nothing wrong. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. "The tape shows I ran into him, and I did, but a lot of things had to happen for me to get into him. It wasn't like I just ran right into the back of him. It really hurts to have people think of me this way.'' Vasser, an open-wheel driver making his first NASCAR start, had been running in the top five before the incident. "It's the bad side of racing, wipeouts,'' Vasser said. "We were racing. Nobody does anything on purpose. I feel bad, the guys have a junker and they had a pretty good race car. I had fun up until that last lap.''

2/15/03

Harvick to start from back   Kevin Harvick's team changed engines after Happy Hour and will have to start at the rear of the field for the Daytona 500 along with Casey Mears who crashed. Teams were allowed one engine change after the Twin 125 races.

2/15/03

Mears wrecks in Happy Hour   Rookie Casey Mears, scheduled to start 29th in the Daytona 500 and 4th fastest in Happy Hour, wrecked in Happy hour, damaging the right front corner of his car. Mears will have to go to a backup car for the Daytona 500 and will start at the rear of the field.

2/15/03

Won't happen   Paul Cherry informed Chris Pook on Monday that his Force 10 team will not participate in the 2003 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford.  Force 10 has been chosen to make a new car for a new European series soon to be announced. When the new CART rules are announced they will submit to CART to see if Force 10 can be a chassis supplier starting in 2005.

2/15/03

Dominguez enthusiastic about new Ford engine   By Ricardo Roura /El Norte Mexico City, Mexico: - The engines that CART will use in the 2003 season will offer more reliability to the teams, said the Mexican Mario Dominguez, driver for Herdez Competition, Friday. Dominguez talked about the characteristics of the new power plant, provided by Ford, designed with the main objective of reducing costs in the series. “The old engines ran at high revs and didn’t last so long, approximately 400 miles, whilst those we have now will last approximately 1,200 miles, and have worked very well up to now.” Mario explained that last year’s engine reached 16,000 rpm, while the new model has a limit of 12,000 rpm, but has the advantage of offering more torque at lower revs because of the higher turbo boost pressure. “When you accelerate coming out of a slow corner, the engine has more power compared to last year. [Translation by Ed McFarlane]

2/15/03

CART releases final Toyota Atlantic Schedule   UPDATE There was an error on the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Schedule at the end of yesterday's press release. SPEED television coverage of the Montreal event will be live at 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 23 as was stated in the body of the release, not on 9/6 as it was listed at the end of the release. The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship regrets this error.   2/14/03 - CART Toyota Atlantic Championship officials announced today that the schedule for the 12-race, 30th Anniversary season has been finalized and that SPEED Channel will offer live television coverage for nearly half of the season’s events.  More....

2/15/03
IROC

NASCAR drivers make open wheel drivers look inferior  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I find it rather amusing that Sam Hornish Jr. was moaning after yesterday's IROC race that no one would draft with him.  How come the NASCAR drivers win almost all the IROC races.  Are the IRL drivers inferior?  Danny Bososki, Athens, OH, Dear Danny, CART drivers were smart enough to get out of the IROC series years ago because of the severe disadvantage they were at vs. the NASCAR drivers.  The races heavily favor the NASCAR drivers because 1) they are run in "stock cars", 2) they run on NASCAR tracks (ovals), 3) the NASCAR drivers stick together in the draft and 9 times out of 10, leave the open wheel drivers out to dry.  We have long called for an open-wheel IROC series to be formed, with half the races on ovals and half on road courses.  Then the open wheel drivers will win many if not all the races.  The only thing the current IROC series accomplishes is to make the open wheel drivers look inferior (when in fact once they get to NASCAR full time they dominate - Gordon, Stewart, etc.), which of course must make the NASCAR front office rub their hands in delight as they continue to grow their form of racing.  IROC makes USA fans think NASCAR drivers are the best in the world, exactly what NASCAR would want. However, as long as the open wheel drivers continue to accept the invitations to compete, IROC in its current form will continue and the IRL drivers will continue to paint themselves as "inferior."  Mark C.

2/15/03
IROC

Mark Martin wins IROC opener  UPDATE We have added photos from Friday's race.  2/14/03 - Mark Martin, representing the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, captured his 11th career True Value International Race of Champions (IROC) victory Friday in the series’ opener at Daytona International Speedway. Martin, averaging 177. 253 mph, won by a mere .123 seconds over NASCAR Winston Cup teammate Kurt Busch. Finishing third was World of Outlaws representative, Danny Lasoski, fourth was NASCAR Winston Cup driver, Jimmie Johnson and fifth went to NASCAR Busch champion, Greg Biffle. Martin led the 40-lap, 100-mile event three times for a total of 21-laps, taking the five-point bonus for leading most laps. There were six lead changes among four drivers; Johnson claimed three bonus points for leading second most laps (14) and NASCAR Winston Cup driver, Kevin Harvick, finishing seventh, posted two bonus points for leading third most laps (4). World of Outlaws driver Steve Kinser, finishing sixth, led for one lap. Winner, Mark Martin said, “It was just one of those battles, right down to the end. Had I gotten a little bit further out ahead, then they would the have caught me with such a rate of speed that I wouldn’t have been able to hang onto it. It’s a great race.” Of his second place finish Busch said, “Lasoski and I were running the last lap and I was trying to get by him. Just like any other person, I didn’t have much help from behind because fourth and fifth were running side by side. So, Lasoski and I were duking it out and maybe we should have helped one another to get by Mark Martin. I have to talk with Mark on a daily basis, so I was just trying to get second away from Lasoski.” Lasoski, the highest ranking open-wheel driver said, “I tell you what, I had the time of my life. It was an absolute learning experience. I was here last year and didn’t have a clue what we were doing. Today, Kurt (Busch) and Mark Martin were the pros out here. I tried to learn everything I could. I was running second and Kurt was behind me. We were trying to stay with Mark Martin. I got a good run and tried to go by him and Kurt went left and I went right and Mark Martin won the race. It was a good race and I had a great time out there doing it.” The Race-One Daytona victory gives Martin his 11th career IROC win, tying him for most series wins with Al Unser, Jr. and the late Dale Earnhardt; he also ties Earnhardt with four True Value IROC championships and holds a record three consecutive titles. Eighth place ,Sam Hornish, Jr., who topped the IRL IndyCar Series contingent said, “It was an exciting race, and I had a lot of fun. I tried to make a pass with about five laps to go and nobody went with me, but that is part of the deal. You have to find somebody to work with. Nobody was helping anybody today. If I had stayed in line where I was, I might have finished better, but you have to try to make a move. It just didn't work out." (About why nobody helped): "Everybody wants to win." [Editor's Note - no Sam, you are not a NASCAR driver, hence no one is going to help you].  NASCAR Truck champion, Mike Bliss finished ninth, Giaffone 10th, IndyCar Series driver, Castroneves 11th and NASCAR Winston Cup driver Ryan Newman 12th .

2/15/03

Latest F1 hot news items 

Pizzonia Blitz On Montoya Record
Friday Action At Valencia Test
Better Form For Williams FW25
Jacques' Concern At BAR Reliability
New Ferrari Continues To Fly
Verstappen Eager For PS03 Debut
DC Embarrassed By Rules Changes
Jaguar Joins Friday Test Action
Jordan To Launch On Monday
Mosley Slams Tobacco Decision
Fisichella Focused On Ferrari
Minardi Reach Tire Supply Deal?

2/14/03

Villeneuve getting used to HANS Device  Jacques Villeneuve had this to say from Valencia - "We had a good test today. Our work concentrated mainly on testing the tires which we will use for the Australian Grand Prix. The car is quick and I was able to get quite a few good laps in. I tested the new rear wing for the first time today. We had it at our last test in Barcelona but I didn't have the chance to try it then.  It seems to be competitive. Unfortunately we still have too many mechanical problems though. I have also been working with the HANS device today, which is a little bit difficult but we've got to get on with using it!"

2/14/03
Industry News

Honda can't keep up with demand in China   Who still thinks the car manufactures don't want to race in China?  With demand for cars in China exploding, Japanese giant Honda Motor's components factory in Huizhou, Guangdong province, cannot make parts fast enough. "Our job now is to catch up with the surging production of Honda vehicles in China," Dongfeng Honda Auto Parts president Takao Akimoto said. Sourcing parts locally saves on costs and reduces currency risk. China's car market is the fastest-growing in the world, with annual sales of passenger cars growing 56 per cent last year to top the one-million mark for the first time. Despite rising competition, global car giants are pouring billions of dollars into the country to tap growing Chinese wealth fuelled by rapid economic development. The car parts venture, 56 per cent owned by Honda Motor, planned to boost output by 70 per cent this year to 1.2 million units to mainly supply Honda's rapidly expanding car venture in the nearby southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, Mr Akimoto said. "The Chinese car market is developing so fast that it really startles me," Mr Akimoto said. Reuters

2/14/03

Pizzonia breaks lap record at Valencia  Jaguar Racing's Antonio Pizzonia today set a new Valencia lap record. The Brazilian, whose priority today was to test the Jaguar's Michelin tyres, broke the lap record set at the circuit earlier this week on Monday by Montoya, albeit by only 0.07 seconds. "The car was getting better at Barcelona last week, and we've now made a further step forward," Pizzonia said. "The balance is a lot better now. Hopefully next week we'll have two cars and we can do some long runs and race simulations." Jaguar Racing spokesman Nav Sidhu agreed that the team have made much progress over the pre-season period. “It’s been a very productive three days for us and we used today as a continuation of our set-up and balance on the car and also for tire work with Melbourne in mind. We have made reasonably good progress but we still have a considerable number of issues to address and fix before qualifying begins on March 8.” Meanwhile, Juan-Pablo Montoya could only manage a time of 1:11.18, some 1.1 seconds off.  Jacques Villeneuve had third best time of the day, and in keeping with the pace of Montoya.
Position - Driver - Team - Time - Laps
1.) A. Pizzonia - Jaguar - 1:10.08 - 25
2.) J-P. Montoya - Williams - 1:11.18 - 97
3.) J. Villeneuve - BAR - 1:11.32 - 75
4.) M. Gene - Williams - 1:11.89 - 42
5.) R. Schumacher - Williams - 1:12.38 - 88

2/14/03

Jaguar switches to Friday test option  Jaguar have changed their minds and decided to test at grand prix weekends in exchange for limited testing during the Formula One season, the team said on Friday. "The management have done their sums very carefully on this, weighed up every alternative and we are convinced that this gives us considerably more bang for our buck," said spokesman Nav Sidhu on Friday. Renault, Jordan and Minardi were previously the only teams to take up the so-called Friday option, giving them two hours of testing with three cars on race Fridays but limiting them to 10 days during the season.

2/14/03

Schumacher breaks Fiorano record again  The first development test of the F2003-GA ended today at Fiorano. Michael Schumacher did 96 laps today, with a best time of 56''786, breaking the lap record for the 3rd time this week. 'We are very satisfied with the outcome of this week’s test with the new car,' commented Schumacher at the end of the day. 'We did not encounter any major problems and we were able to rack up a high mileage. The lap record? I am not surprised, as the resurfacing has certainly made the track quicker.' The Scuderia will resume testing next Monday, 17th February at the 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' circuit at Imola. Michael Schumacher and Luca Badoer will be driving.

2/14/03

Wallace penalized for illegal carb   Rusty Wallace can thank his lucky stars come Sunday morning when he suits up and buckles into his #2 Miller Lite Dodge. Wallace, set to start eighth on Sunday morning, will line up 38th after NASCAR officials discovered the team use an illegal carburetor in the second Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying race on Thursday. “The venturi did not meet the minimum one and nine sixteenths measurement,” said John Darby, Winston Cup Series Director. “Whether is was a performance enhancement is debatable. It might increase horsepower or it might increase fuel mileage. We don’t know.” In addition to be bumped to 38th on the starting grid, crew chief Bill Wilburn was fined $10,000. The team will not lose any points scored during the race.  Stan Creekmore, Photo NASCAR Photography/Sherryl Creekmore

2/14/03

Richard Petty unveils new paint scheme   Richard Petty (right), helps unveil a Berry Burst Cheerios Dodge at the 2.5-mile Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The #43 will run at Daytona in July's race with the Berry Burst colors.

2/14/03

Strong ABC lineup for IRL broadcasts   Featuring the strongest broadcast lineup in televised motorsports, ABC Sports and its broadcast partner ESPN again will provide live televised coverage of the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series for the 2003 season. Returning as host for IndyCar Series telecasts is veteran motorsports broadcaster Bob Jenkins. He is joined in the booth by longtime ABC announcer Paul Page calling the race action, former IndyCar Series driver Scott Goodyear providing race analysis, and Jack Arute and Gary Gerould reporting from the pits. “The ABC Sports team that covers the IRL is second to none,” ABC Sports President Howard Katz said. “Host Bob Jenkins is the pre-eminent voice in auto racing. Paul Page contributes unique insights after many years of experience. Scott Goodyear has proven to be one of the top sports analysts on television. Along with top pit reporters Jack Arute and Gary Gerould, we have assembled one of the most talented and experienced broadcast teams in the industry.” ABC Sports will televise live, flag-to-flag coverage for 10 of the 16 IndyCar Series events during the 2003 season, beginning with the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. ESPN will provide live telecasts of five IndyCar Series events while ABC Sports will televise the Indy Japan 300 from Motegi, Japan, on a same-day delay basis. Additionally, all 2003 IRL Infiniti Pro Series events will be broadcast on ESPN2 and distributed worldwide through ESPN International. Veteran motorsports commentator Dr. Jerry Punch will call the action, while popular IndyCar Series driver Davey Hamilton will provide color analysis, and Amy East will serve as pit reporter. IRL

2/14/03

CART does it again   UPDATE Another reader responds, To: Mr. Dave McClosky c/o AR1.Com, Dear Dave, Noting your comments regarding the difference in the two TV packages permit me to ask a questions: Why is it ABC broadcasts IRL events in the first place? Do you think ABC actually sought out the privilege to broadcast IRL traffic jams? Did any other major network, or cable channel for that matter, see enough entertainment value in Crapwagon racing to even bother to bid for the broadcast rights? Dave, I would guess, and I may be wrong here but I don’t think so, that the ONLY reason ABC broadcasts all the other “we can’t turn right” events is they are forced to, as per the terms and conditions of their contract to broadcast the 500! Kinda like hangin’ a steak around the ugly kids neck so the dog will play with it (not able to find a steak big enough the IRL had to hang Toyota, Honda and a bunch of CART has-beens around this kids neck!). I for one am VERY happy CART is aligned with Speedvision. Speedvision will devote the time and attention to CART that Disney/CapCity/ABC/ESPN/IRL never did, or would. If CBS is smart they’ll watch carefully and be ready to air as many events as possible, live! Speedvision subscription rates are up DRAMATICALLY since CART and F1 events began airing there. I’d rather see CART airing on a channel devoted to motorsports than sandwiched between Australian Strong Man Competitions and Professional Poker Mud Wrestling. Given ESPNs record they’d run over their allotted time to get the final muddy bet instead of throwing to the start of a CART race! My friend, CART is poised to reclaim it’s rightful spot at the top of the North American Motorsports ziggurat. I believe CART will be around long after the France family takes control of IMS, the IRL and The Grandson. Respectfully, J.N. Anderson, Chicago, IL    2/14/03 - A reader writes, well, CART finally released their 2003 USA TV schedule just 1-week before the season is to begin.  Talk about waiting until the last minute, again!  And once again, it pales in comparison to the IRL's.

  • 15 of 16 IRL races are broadcast live, CART has 4 of 19 tape delayed

  • 11 of 16 IRL races are on network TV (69%).  7 of 19 CART races on Network TV (37%).  The IRL is adding races to network TV each year while CART is reducing them.  Network TV ratings dwarf cable ratings.  Does CART have a death wish?

When is CART going to learn that if they buy TV inventory a year ahead of time, they might actually be able to have a decent TV schedule for once?  Dave McClosky, Hunstville, AL  Dear Dave, we have to agree that the TV lineup for CART is getting worse, but looking on the bright side, many predicted CART would not even be around this year. Mark C.

2/14/03

Dominguez to visit Monterrey   By Enrique Guadarrama/El Norte Monterrey, Mexico.- The Mexican driver Mario Dominguez visits the Fundidora Park circuit next week before the start of the 2003 CART Series. Dominguez, who this year starts his sophomore season in the CART Championship, will be in Monterrey next Tuesday (18th) to get a handle on the changes at the circuit which hosts the American series next March 23. ”We can confirm those who are new to CART. I want to focus on the information that we give the engineers and analyze the cars and the changes, because all that will help us greatly in getting the necessary communication.” Dominguez is the second CART driver to visit Monterrey before the March event, two weeks ago Adrian Fernandez was in the city. After visiting the Fundidora Park, the Herdez driver will go to St. Petersburg, for the CART season opener on 23rd February. [Translation by Ed McFarlane]

2/14/03

Gordon Divorce: Poetic Justice   On this day, she used to send him valentines. Now, she serves him with court papers. Roses are red, Violets are blue, Give me half, Then we're through. Jeff Gordon and the former Jennifer Brooke Sealey were once NASCAR's most amorous lovebirds. It was a decade ago, on another Valentine's week here at Daytona International Speedway, when they first met. He was the hottest, youngest, cutest driver in the sport and had just won one of the Twin-125 qualifying races leading up to the Daytona 500. She was then the gorgeous Miss Winston, whose job it was to stand in Victory Lane, smile, pose, look pretty and present Jeff with the trophy. They winked at each other in Victory Lane that day in February, 1993. Then they began seeing each other on the sly because it was against the rules for Miss Winston to date any of the drivers. A year later, they were married and Jeff cooed euphorically, "I'm not out searching anymore. Brooke has brought so much joy into my life." And now this: Love me tender, love me sweet, but that was long ago, II get the Caddy Escalade; you can keep the Chevy Astro. Since she filed for divorce 11 months ago, Brooke has become NASCAR's version of Erika Kane. It used to be the biggest story of Daytona 500 week was Ford bickering about Chevy. Now, it's Jeff bickering about Brooke's lawyers. "It's ridiculous," Jeff snapped about this very nasty and very public divorce that has spilled over into Speedweeks. "I don't understand it." Around the track, Brooke isn't looked upon as a beauty queen anymore; she's portrayed as the ice princess. The former Miss Winston is now about as welcome around here as a nicotine patch. When her name is mentioned, these good ol' boys scrunch up their nose as if you just offered them a six-pack of O'Doul's. "She's trying to make a circus of the Daytona 500," fumed Ray Evernham, Gordon's former crew chief and the best man at the wedding. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
1. A $10 million Palm Beach mansion
2. A $70,000-a-year private chef.
3. Regular use of the yacht and Lear Jet.

And to think, Brooke used to leave little love verses on the dashboard of Jeff's car. Now this:
Oh my former sweetheart,
Whose yacht is in the marina,
I don't want you to be my valentine,
Just answer my subpoena.  Orlando Sun-Sentinel

2/14/03

Foyt fails to qualify for Daytona 500   Larry Foyt ran out of gas. Former Daytona 500 champion Derrike Cope hardly had a chance. They were among seven drivers who failed to make the Daytona 500 Thursday, finishing outside the top 15 in their 125-mile qualifying races. Foyt is the only full-time driver not in the field, and Brett Bodine, David Green, Kirk Shelmerdine, Hermie Sadler and Mike Harmon also failed to qualify. "This isn't the way we wanted the season to start,' Foyt said. After starting 17th in the first 50- lap race, Foyt raced into the top 10. He drifted back a bit before pit stops but still was within sight of the leaders. Just as he was coming into the pits, though, his Dodge ran out of fuel. "When these things run out of gas, they don't just start right back up,' Foyt said. "By the time we got it going again, we'd lost a lot of time.'

2/14/03

Hornish in IROC crash   UPDATE There will be two more International Race of Champions (IROC) practice sessions before tomorrow’s 40-lap, 100-mile race, but Sam Hornish won’t take part in either. That’s because many of his body parts hurt to the point he can’t even sit comfortably. He has to either stand or lie down. "I don't really know what happened," Hornish said of his crash.   He will soon learn what oval racing and hitting concrete walls is all about.  2/13/03 - IRL driver Sam Hornish Jr. crashed during practice yesterday for Friday's IROC race at Daytona.  Hornish will not practice again before the race, as he was sore due to the heavy impact with the outside retaining wall. “I don’t really know what happened,” Hornish said. “I can’t point any fingers and say I got bumped or whatever. The car started to come around, and I tried to correct it. Then I pretty much headed straight up into the outside wall and wrote off one of the cars for them (IROC). It was kind of a scary experience. “I’m glad I was wearing the HANS Device and all of the safety aspects that the IROC officials go through to make sure I got out and walked out of that car. I’m just a little bit sore, but I’m glad I have the opportunity to go out there and race Friday. I’m cleared to do that, so everything is OK. I don’t know if the purple car has ever won before, but hopefully we will take it to victory lane.”

2/14/03

Penske must be losing clout in NASCAR   His plans to celebrate a Rusty Wallace victory in the Daytona 500 by handing out coupons for free six-packs of Miller beer have been foiled at every point so far by Daytona officials. First, Penske's sponsor was told it wouldn't be allowed to hand out anything inside the track. Then it was told it couldn't hand out anything on any speedway grounds. And then Miller officials got a letter from the Daytona Beach police warning them not to do anything to impede pedestrian traffic.  Winston Salem Journal

2/14/03

Exxon/Mobil kicks off new NASCAR branding   Mobil, the official lubricants of NASCAR, is revving its marketing engine, including unveiling new NASCAR-themed packaging for Mobil-branded automotive lubricants, in celebration of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season. Beginning with the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, Fla., on February 16, ExxonMobil will leverage its new NASCAR licensing agreement through a variety of marketing initiatives designed to reinforce the company's link to automotive performance across the Mobil brand. "We're thrilled to launch our new association with NASCAR around the Daytona 500 by reaching out to race fans who value automotive performance," said James F. Marcogliese, executive vice president, ExxonMobil Lubricants and Specialties. "Race fans know that with Mobil-branded products they realize some of the same performance benefits as the world's top racing teams." The Mobil family of products, including high performance motor oils, transmission fluids, gear lubricants and greases, will carry NASCAR-themed packaging that is set to hit the shelves this spring. In addition, ExxonMobil is supporting its official status by tagging television, print and radio advertising, and will be creating consumer and business-to-business promotional extensions this year for the Mobil Drive Clean Plus and Mobil 1 product lines. At the track, ExxonMobil will conduct grass roots marketing initiatives, including having its Mobil 1 traveling motorsports exhibit available to consumers in a number of race markets. In addition, ExxonMobil is rewarding NASCAR's top competitors by participating in NASCAR's contingency awards program that recognizes the top finishers who display the Mobil 1 decal on their car in NASCAR's Winston Cup Series, Busch Series, and Craftsman Truck Series, and regional and touring divisions.

2/14/03

NASCAR still White   This Orlando Sentinel article says, In NASCAR, color is everywhere -- except on the faces in the stands and behind the steering wheels. A walk through the crowd of more than 100,000 fans at the speedway Thursday found only nine black fans. Maybe there were more, but there surely weren't many more. NASCAR, in its ever-expanding search for new markets, wants to change that. Black fans buy the same products as white fans, and their money is the same shade of green. Tiger Woods changed the complexion of golf crowds, just as Venus and Serena Williams did with tennis fans. NASCAR is missing a similar black star, with only one black driver, Bill Lester, in any of its top three series. "It's unfortunate for NASCAR," spokesman Jim Hunter said of having only one black driver among its top 100. "But that's up to individuals. If they have the desire and the talent, the opportunity is there." There is one black car owner, Sam Belnavis, and more blacks working in the garages. NASCAR has greatly expanded its diversity programs, and Lester and others occasionally speak at historically black colleges to tout the opportunities available to minorities. NASCAR is pushing hard into America's top 20 media markets this year, an effort not only to boost its reach in general, but to broaden exposure to young blacks. "We want to humanize it," Hunter said. "We want to show them this is something that's attainable and doable." 

2/14/03

Official pizza for NASCAR   Domino's Pizza was named the 'official pizza' of NASCAR. The multi-year partnership will initially see the pizza chain work with driver Michael Waltrip on select media opportunities, including a TV advertising campaign starting in April. In the months to come, Domino's will promote the partnership via national media including advertising on the major television networks during NASCAR event broadcasts, at-track in race souvenir programs as well as in print and other media.

2/14/03

F1 rules changes becoming clearer  This Grandprix.com article says, the Formula 1 teams have been given further details about how the FIA intends to police its regulations with regard to parc ferme - and the result is that teams will have to rethink many of their race strategies. The FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting faxed the teams on Wednesday giving details of the procedures which will take effect this year - and the result will be much more interesting races for the Formula 1. In addition to the two days of single qualifying runs, there will be major changes for the racing as well. After the second qualifying session the cars will enter parc ferme. Team members will then be allowed to check the tire pressures, remove bodywork to prevent heat soak and fit cooling devices if necessary. They will also be allowed to connect jump batteries and fit water heaters but thereafter they must leave the cars in parc ferme until preliminary checks have been completed. The cars will then be released to the teams although they will remain under the supervision of one scrutineer per car until 6pm in the evening. During this time the teams will be permitted to carry out safety checks but no other work will be allowed unless agreed by the FIA technical delegate. The cars will then spend the night in parc ferme until they are released at 0800 on Sunday morning. The most important point is that cars will have to start the races on the same tires on which they finished qualifying or if the tires are damaged on tires which have completed more laps than those they are replacing. More importantly, however, it has emerged that cars will not be allowed to have any fuel added between qualifying and the race. This has been justified on the grounds of safety but will have a huge effect on the race strategies as teams will now have to decide whether to run with light tanks in qualifying and then have to pit early or whether to qualify on full tanks and run further in the race. This will completely change the shape of the races. The FIA has underlined that it will only scrutineer two cars per team unless a car is damaged beyond repair at which point a third car will be allowed. There will be a warm-up session for 15 minutes but this will be held between 13.30 and 13.45 on Saturday - before final qualifying.

2/14/03

America's lone hope lies with American Spirit team   This St. Petersburg Times article says, The way Stefan Johansson tells it, former CART champion Jimmy Vasser was his first choice in his search for a veteran driver to anchor his first-year team. Vasser happens to be American. What a coincidence. Vasser and rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay, the only Americans CART drivers this season, are teammates at American Spirit Team Johansson. In addition to winning, they hope to promote Champ Car racing to a somewhat reluctant American audience. "Hopefully, fans will latch onto the whole concept because Jimmy and I are carrying the flag and we'll need that support," said Hunter-Reay, 22, from Boca Raton. "Our whole color scheme, our whole motto is based on American spirit." Vasser, 37, a native Californian, has name recognition. Entering his 12th CART season, the 1996 series champion has 10 wins, eight poles and will extend his series record for consecutive starts to 164 with the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. "With Jimmy, we know we have a driver capable of winning the championship," said Johansson, a former CART and Formula One driver who also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1997. "And his experience will be an asset to our team. I know that Ryan possesses considerable talent and I am looking forward to watching him develop." Hunter-Reay is a poster boy for CART's ladder system. He was the Barber Dodge Pro Series rookie of the year in 2000 and won three races last year in the Toyota Atlantic series. "To drive in the Champ Car World Series is truly a dream come true," Hunter-Reay said. "I've been working for this since the first day of karting and finally everything is happening. I just have to be a sponge this season, and I'm going to be going 110 percent from the first turn." More....

2/14/03



NASCAR's global TV expansion is first step toward global domination   As the NASCAR season gets underway, the series has announced that its international broadcast strategy is gathering pace. In only its third year of distributing its programming overseas, NASCAR begins the 2003 season with an expanded global reach that includes television broadcasts in more than 100 countries in 21 languages each week. This year, NASCAR’s international broadcast partners will air more than 4,000 hours of NASCAR-related programming outside the US. The increased participation of international drivers such as Mexico’s Carlos Contreras, Brazil’s Christian Fittipaldi, Japan’s Hideo Fukuyama and Canada’s Ron Fellows in the NASCAR Winston Cup, NASCAR Busch and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitions is the primary reason behind the flux of international racing fans tuning in to the sport. NASCAR has 24 broadcast partners outside the US including TSN, Sportsnet, The Score, Bell ExpressVu, SPEED Channel, SporTV, TV Globo, Fox Sports Latin America, Fox Middle East, Fox Sports Australia, Eurosport, Channel 5, NASN, AB Moteurs, Motors TV, Viasat, StarHub, Gaora, Indosair, Cineplex, Dubai Sports Channel, SNTV, Reuters and TWI. Explains Paul Brooks, vice president, broadcasting at NASCAR. “We are working hard to drive more worldwide exposure and attention to NASCAR and we are pleased with the early results our international television partners are seeing in their local markets. "For teams, drivers, and track sponsors with global interests, and the auto manufacturers in our sport, NASCAR’s worldwide television distribution is providing significant increases in the exposure and value they receive and we think that is terrific.”   This is of course more proof that NASCAR and its oval track cartel brethren, the IRL, has its sights set on a global motorsports reach, which must have the road racing cartel worried.  We touched on this subject in Why CART and F1 must, and will, share a common V-10 engine platform.   If it's not clear to the road racing cartel (CART and F1) that they must band together, lower costs, and standardize their equipment to make the racing better and their teams financially healthy, then their ultimate fate is certainly at risk. However, with the recent changes proposed by the FIA for F1, we suspect Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley, both extremely intelligent individuals,  understand what is coming down, and what must be done.  Mark C.

2/14/03

F1 in tobacco U-Turn  Formula One may make a U-turn on its plans to outlaw tobacco advertising in 2006, the sport's boss Max Mosley has admitted for the first time. Mosley - the president of the sport's governing body, the FIA - blamed the European Union's move to bring forward its ban on tobacco advertising by a year to October 2005. And he said that the decision could result in there being only a handful of F1 Grands Prix in Europe in future. Mosley has for some years promised that motorsport would introduce its own tobacco advertising ban at the end of 2006. He was backing the World Health Organization's move for a worldwide ban to be introduced in international law for that time. But he said the EU's decision to bring forward its ban had undermined the plans and thrown F1 back into the arms of the tobacco companies. Mosley said introducing the earlier ban was counter-productive and an "incredible piece of stupidity by the European Commission". He added: "Instead of having a worldwide ban in 2006, which everyone had accepted was going to happen, we're now virtually certain to see tobacco sponsorship in F1 going on until all of us have lost interest. "Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. They've blown their legs off." Mosley said the EU ban could lead to pressure from teams for the FIA to continue with tobacco because the teams' contracts run to the end of 2006. The Austrian GP will be dropped after 2003 "We've now got the teams with contracts to 2006 and an EU ban from July 2005. "... The only way they (the teams) can observe those contracts in 2006 is to reduce the number of Grands Prix in the EU to a point where the tobacco companies don't object." Mosley said the EU ban was a waste of time, because tobacco advertising would be beamed into Europe on television from the races where tobacco advertising is allowed.  BBC

2/14/03

Penske team caught cheating?   NASCAR inspectors said late Thursday afternoon there was a "potential problem" with the carburetor on the #2 Miller Lite Dodge that Rusty Wallace drove to a fourth-place finish in Thursday's second Gatorade 125. NASCAR said inspections would continue through the evening and into Friday before any potential sanction against Wallace's team would be announced. It also said the outcome would not change which 43 cars will be in the starting lineup for Sunday's Daytona 500. ThatsRacin.com

2/14/03
Announcement

Mickey Thompson murder case update  [Editor's Note: This release is actually old news brought around by Goodwin. Nothing has changed from the last item we posted (mid-Jan), but the date for the appellate court hearing was moved up to next Wednesday, Feb 19 rather than Feb 21 as previously reported here by AR1] An appeals court ordered Orange County prosecutors to show why the case against a man accused of ordering the 1988 execution-style killings of auto-racing legend Mickey Thompson and his wife should not be dismissed.
A hearing was scheduled for Wednesday after lawyers for Michael Goodwin, Thompson's former business partner who is charged in the murders, filed motions challenging Orange County's jurisdiction. Though the slayings occurred in Los Angeles County, prosecutors in Orange County asserted jurisdiction because the murder plot allegedly was hatched by Goodwin, who lives there. Goodwin, 57, has pleaded innocent to two counts of murder and three special circumstance allegations of lying in wait, murder for financial gain and multiple murders. If convicted, he could face life in prison without parole. "Having considered the responses of the parties, we agree that this court is without authority to order the Superior Court to transfer the matter,'' the appellate court said in an order issued Feb. 6 and obtained Thursday by The Associated Press. Goodwin's attorney, Jeffrey Friedman, said the court's order gives strength to his argument that there was no basis for prosecuting his client in Orange County. But District Attorney Anthony Rackauckas said the case would continue to move forward. "We think the jurisdiction should be here in Orange County and failing that we will consider our options,'' he said.  AP Story

2/14/03

NASCAR IMAX film in the works   An IMAX film crew was at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday filming in the garage area early in the day and on the start/finish line during the Twin 125's. NASCAR and IMAX Corporation today announced that production on NASCAR: The IMAX Experience 3D will begin tomorrow to coincide with the 45th Daytona 500. The groundbreaking IMAX® 3D film, set against America’s most popular spectator sport, will be distributed exclusively to IMAX® theatres by Warner Bros. Pictures and IMAX in Spring 2004 and marks Warner Bros.’ first foray into the IMAX arena. Created under the auspices of NASCAR, NASCAR Digital Entertainment (NDE), and IMAX Corporation, NASCAR: The IMAX Experience 3D, will have IMAX moviegoers and NASCAR fans on the edges of their seats as they experience speeds of over 200 mph. The heart-pounding thrills of NASCAR will be captured through IMAX 3D technology and brought to life on screens up to eight stories tall, with 12,000 watts of pure digital surround sound. “The name of this film, NASCAR: The IMAX Experience 3D, says it all,” said Paul Brooks, vice president of broadcasting, NASCAR. “People start to understand the magic of our sport when they attend their first NASCAR race in person where the intense drama, sound, emotion, thrills and excitement of NASCAR can be experienced firsthand on our incredible real-life stage. This film will allow us to immerse an audience in the NASCAR experience at IMAX theatres worldwide and attract new fans to the sport, while bringing tremendous exposure and value to our drivers, teams, tracks, sponsors and other partners.” "We are very excited to be working with Warner Bros. and NASCAR in their first venture with IMAX. Through the magic of IMAX 3D, this unique film will expand the movie-goers experience, knowledge and understanding of the high-speed world of NASCAR racing like never before," said Greg Foster, president of filmed entertainment, IMAX Corporation. "We are confident that this event 3D film, powered by three world-class entertainment brands, will bring a whole new audience to the worldwide IMAX theatre network." “This is Warner Bros.’ first involvement with an IMAX film,” said Dan Fellman, president, domestic distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures. “We are very pleased to be able to bring The IMAX Experience® to NASCAR fans and, conversely, the excitement of a NASCAR movie to IMAX theatres and audiences across the country.” “We are extremely pleased to be telling the story of this thrilling sport, which has more than 75 million fans,” said Brad Ball, executive vice president, domestic corporate marketing, Warner Bros. “We feel that NASCAR racing is a sport that not only translates beautifully to the scale and intensity of IMAX, but that our involvement with this project enables us to work with many of our AOL-TW affiliated companies in bringing NASCAR excitement to an ever-growing audience.”

2/14/03

More NASCAR TV for Canada   It's becoming clearer by the day that NASCAR is poised to spread its wings outside the USA.  They are increasingly exposing all aspects of their sport through TV first, and some think they will eventually buy out CASCAR (Canada) and ASCAR (Europe) and expand the NASCAR name eventually global.  The prospect of this has to have Bernie Ecclestone a bit worried, and may be behind his interest in shoring up road racing in North America, i.e. CART.  The Score Television Network Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Headline Media Group, has entered into a broadcast agreement with NASCAR for the upcoming 2003 season. Coverage begins Saturday, Feb. 22, with the Rockingham 200 from North Carolina. "The Busch Series has become equally as exciting as the Winston Series, particularly when you consider the practice of driver crossover," said Anthony Cicione, vice-president, programming and production, the Score Television Network. "With drivers of the caliber of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick having come up through the ranks of Busch, fans can expect adrenaline-pumping speed in the upcoming season." In 2002, NASCAR represented the largest audience of all auto racing in Canada.

2/14/03

Latest F1 hot news items 

Another Record For New F2003-GA
Webber Completes Race Distance
Montoya Quickest At Valencia
Fighting-Fund Bites The Dust
FIA Reveal New Grand Prix Formula
Irvine: Swansong Was My Best Ever
No Rush On Jaguar Top-Job
Gene Brands FW25 'Not Bad' In Spain
Arrows Pull TWR Empire Into Demise
Teams Peeved At Renault Advantage
Jordan Denies Talk Of Collapse
New Fuel Rules For Grands Prix
Silverstone Safeguard F1 Future
Bernie Tips Sixth For Schumacher
107% Rule Survives Quali-Reform
Toyota Progress At Le Castellet
Jordan Talks Up New EJ13 Racer
One More Collapse Means 3-Car Teams

2/13/03
Announcement

Forums down again  Our discussion forums will be down again until mid-day on Friday for maintenance.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

2/13/03

F1 teams crying again  According to this Autosport article, Renault, Jordan and Minardi's decision to opt for Friday morning testing has given them an unfair advantage with regards tire compound choice, according to their rivals, reports Autosport this week. The three teams benefit from being able to choose their tire type immediately after the two-hour Friday testing session which has been introduced this season, while the other teams will have to make a decision not knowing the track conditions and latest tire developments. The FIA, the sport's governing body, is standing by its decision to force teams not participating in the Friday session to pick their compound before scrutineering on Thursday, claiming that the benefit was a trade-off for being limited to just 10 test days during the season. "The testing on Friday was supposed to be a cost-cutting device," said one team boss, "not a means for Renault to work its way through a lot of different tire constructions before making its choice mid-morning." Renault's team boss Flavion Briatore meanwhile is unrepentant pointing out that all the teams had the choice to select the Friday testing option: "We have two hour's testing at the place you race, so for tire choice it is much better," he said. "A lot of people did not think about doing this because they thought it was for the low budget teams."

2/13/03

Patrick Racing wraps up pre-season testing   Visteon/Patrick Racing concluded it preseason testing last Friday on the road course at Homestead Speedway in Homestead, Florida and pronounced itself ready to contest the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. Driver Oriol Servia, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, which is powered by Ford-Cosworth with a Lola chassis and Bridgestone tires, focused on long runs and simulated race conditions during the one-day test. “The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team got a lot of work done during our test in Homestead, “ Servia said. “The test went very well. We did a lot of long runs and the car ran flawlessly. The team spent some time working on race conditions and we did some additional work with the brakes,” he noted. Servia went on to say, “I am very pleased to have been able to get in all the testing we did during the preseason. It gave me an opportunity to work with the new car and engineer Steve Challis. I have been very impressed with the level of communication Steve and I have developed. In fact, the whole Visteon/Patrick Racing Engineering department has been fantastic and I want to thank the crew for doing such a great job preparing the car. I am very confident heading into the start of the season and I am confident that the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team will have good results and contend for the championship.”

2/13/03

Ganassi lands sponsorship from Microsoft, others   Chip Ganassi Racing is proud to announce an innovative new sponsorship program that includes several of the world’s top technology companies. Through their long-standing partnership with Target Corporation, Chip Ganassi Racing has finalized sponsorship agreements with Microsoft, Dell, EMC, Syntel and Avaya. The technology consortium will become the official technology partners to Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the Indy Racing League with drivers Tomas Scheckter and Scott Dixon, and for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with drivers Casey Mears, Jamie McMurray, and Sterling Marlin, and will benefit the programs of team primary sponsors Target, ChevronTexaco, and Coors Brewing Company. Owner Chip Ganassi is excited to announce the new technology partnership. “We are thrilled to add Microsoft, Dell, EMC, Syntel and Avaya as partners to our team,” Ganassi explained. “Target has been a valued partner to us for over 12 years and these companies are excellent partners to Target. It just makes sense to bring it all together to benefit everyone involved.” The ground-breaking alliance marks the first time that major IT companies have united to work together with a racing team in the U.S. In addition to dedicated intellectual capital, as part of the sponsorship Microsoft will provide consulting services and software solutions based on their .Net platform, Dell Corporation will provide computer hardware, EMC will provide data storage solutions, Syntel will provide customized software development and Avaya will power TCGR’s converged communications network and wireless infrastructure. The partnership will provide innovative solutions to assist both the race engineers at the track and create a scalable and efficient infrastructure for the team’s business operations. Ganassi is confident that the new partnership will keep the team ahead of the competition both on and off the track: “Ours is a business where a thousandth of a second can be the difference between wins and losses,” said Ganassi. “We operate in a high-stress environment where rapid access to the right information is mission critical to success. We're very fortunate to have these industry-leaders as partners to provide us with innovative solutions that will have a direct positive impact on our ability to win races, manage our growth, and operate our business more efficiently.” Brian Scott, General Manager for Microsoft’s Retail & Hospitality Industry Solutions Group feels that the partnership will add value to everyone involved. “Microsoft has a long, successful relationship with Target in providing state-of-the-art business solutions. We’re excited to be joining them, Dell, EMC, Syntel and Avaya as partners of TCGR,” Scott said. “Target Chip Ganassi Racing are proven winners on the race track and the association offers us a unique platform to further demonstrate the power of fully integrated .Net-connected solutions.”

2/13/03

Walkinshaw's entire empire may collapse  Tom Walkinshaw, the former head of the Arrows team, was last night facing the collapse of his £140 million motorsport empire after his TWR Group was put into receivership. The 56-year-old Scot's Grand Prix team had already gone into receivership last December after the sport's governing body, the FIA, refused to grant them the right to race. But, according to the administrator, that has now plunged the rest of his related businesses into difficulty. The TWR Group employs around 500 people at two British bases, in Leafield, Oxfordshire, and Worthing, Sussex, and had a year-end turnover of more than £140 million last year.

2/13/03

Octagon to invest more in Silverstone  Octagon Motorsports are to invest some £4million prior to this year's British GP race in July. This cash injection follows considerable improvements to access routes in 2002, which included major modifications to the 'A'-road leading to the Northamptonshire track in order to prevent the traffic congestion which has marred Britain's biggest outdoor sporting event in recent years. "We're doing everything we have to do in order to retain the Grand Prix," said Murray Smith, Vice-Chairman of Octagon Motorsports. "There are outside influences which effect our tenure. Other great circuits are losing their grands prix, but everybody knows we're doing what we've been asked so it would surprise me a great deal if we lost it." Octagon have already said that much attention will be placed on replacing trackside fencing, refurbishing outdated spectator facilities such as toilet blocks and improving the signage around the circuit which was memorably criticized by Formula One™ supermo Bernie Ecclestone last year.

2/13/03

Panoz Group becomes co-promoter in Washington DC    The Panoz Motor Sports Group, promoter of some of the world's most successful professional sports car racing events, has joined with the event organizers that presented last year's successful auto racing event in Washington, D.C. The event, featuring the American Le Mans Series, will be held June 27-29 on a purpose-built racing circuit constructed in the north parking lots adjacent to RFK Stadium. The event will be televised by CBS Sports (live) and Eurosport.  "This move will help grow this event for the City of Washington, D.C.," said Chris Lencheski, Co-Founder and Chairman of National Grand Prix Holdings. "Our organization successfully returned racing to one of the most international and dynamic markets in the world, bringing some 70,000 spectators and national television audiences on CBS-TV and NBC-TV. The race proved to be the signature event and platform for the American Le Mans Series that we had hoped it would be." "The Washington, D.C., event set the standard for other events to follow in its inaugural year," said Panoz. "We look forward to working with the Commission and others in the District to add to the success and take the event to even higher levels."

2/13/03

LVMS to ad seats for NASCAR   Wednesday’s announcement of a sold-out grandstand for the March 2 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 has convinced officials of Speedway Motorsports, the parent company of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, to add more seats before next year’s race. “This is evidence of the enormous confidence that Bruton (Smith, SMI chairman) has in the Las Vegas community,” said Chris Powell, LVMS president and general manager. “He’s been talking about seat expansion here for some time, and the ticket sales for this year’s NASCAR Weekend helped make the decision.” Speedway officials announced Thursday that 10,000 seats would be built above the front straightaway. The new seats will tower over the existing grandstand that sits adjacent to the beginning of the frontstretch. Construction will begin in the weeks following the March 1-2 Sam’s Town 300 and UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. “These will be the best seats in the house,” Powell said. “The sightlines will be some of the best in motorsports. And the construction will include restrooms and concessions on a mezzanine level.” Powell said the new seats will further add to the speedway’s effect on the state of Nevada and the Las Vegas community. “The additional seats will positively affect the tremendous impact that the speedway has on the local economy,” Powell said. “It will impact everything from hotel rooms, restaurants, airlines, car rentals and, of course, gaming. The list goes on and on.”

2/13/03

Super Bowl Champs for St. Pete Race   Grand Prix of St. Petersburg officials announced today that several of the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers will serve as collective Grand Marshal of the race day events, including announcing the infamous line, "Gentlemen, start your engines." Buccaneers participating in the race day festivities are Mike Alstott, Jeff Christy, and Shaun King. Grand Marshal duties are honorary and Grand Marshal's are chosen based on their interest in racing and promoting community pride and spirit. "These gentlemen add an air of fun and enthusiasm to our race day events. Not every race can have the Super Bowl champs at the start line," said Grand Prix of St. Petersburg General Manager Tom Begley. "These players not only share an interest in racing, but they have bonded our community in a way that has given all of us something to smile about. We are delighted to have them on board." More . . .

2/13/03

Champions on wheels   Four-time Tour de France Champion Lance Armstrong (left) gives 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart (right) tips to “shave” a few seconds off his lap times during Coca-Cola’s newest “Real” campaign television commercial set to debut nationally during the Daytona 500 on February 16. During the spot, entitled “Shaved Legs,” Stewart is the victim of an elaborate practical joke played by Armstrong and NASCAR star Bobby Labonte. The on-screen prank proves that NASCAR and cycling have more in common than just speed – a good sense of humor is present in both sports as well.

2/13/03

Vasser starts 5th in NASCAR debut   1996 CART Champion Jimmy Vasser and his #30 Dodge, sponsored by Aventis Bio-Services, Inc., one of the world’s largest plasma collection companies, will be starting from the 5th spot for the Koolerz 300 on February 15, 2003 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Vasser, in his NASCAR debut, quickly made his presence felt by turning a lap of 48.575 at a speed of 185.281 MPH to secure a spot in the Top 5. “I was real happy to be in the Top 5 for my first NASCAR Busch race, but, more importantly, it is an indication that the Aventis Bio-Services #30 Dodge is a fast car and will keep me up front on Saturday,” Vasser said. “This is my first NASCAR Busch race and it is also Aventis Bio-Services first Busch race, so I would have to say that we are off to a great start.” Vasser is driving the same car that he topped the speed charts with during the Daytona testing. “The guys back at the shop have worked hard in making this a top notch car for Daytona,” said Vasser. “Braun Racing has given me a car that is capable of running up front all day and now it is up to me once the race comes around.”

2/13/03

Max is at it again  Max Mosley is telling teams that they're going to start races with whatever fuel was left in the tank after qualifying.  Won't that make things interesting?

2/13/03

Octagon cuts British GP ticket prices  Octagon Motorsports UK, the promoter of the British Grand Prix, has confirmed that this year’s ticket prices will represent better value than before. In addition, a number of new prices and changes have been introduced to provide more options for race goers. The new pricing for this year’s event, being held 18-20 July, includes a 12.5% reduction on admission prices and grandstand seating for the Friday practice and qualifying day. In addition, child charges have been abolished and centre transfers will be free. In keeping with the new regulations introduced by FIA Formula One Commission late last year the Friday of the British Grand Prix will now feature more F1 track action than any previous F1 event with the new qualifying session as well as two hours of testing by the teams. Octagon Motorsports has re-introduced single day tickets for the weekend. Saturday also represents good value and entertainment due to the introduction of the new qualifying session. A three-day fan ticket is still available for those who wish to attend the entire event. Andrew Waller, Group Sales and Marketing Director, Octagon Motorsports UK, said, “We want to offer our customers the best value for the biggest event in the motorsports calendar. The new pricing ensures that they will get to see the best action over the three days.”

2/13/03

New paint scheme for #43   Petty Enterprises and sponsor Cheerios joined forces Thursday morning, Feb. 13, prior to the "Great American Race" to unveil a special paint scheme for the legendary #43. The paint scheme celebrates Berry Burst Cheerios, the first-ever pairing of wholesome Cheerios with great tasting real berries right in the box. Petty Enterprises, the most successful organization in motorsports history, and sponsor Cheerios, America's leading cereal, will race the new paint scheme in July, when the NASCAR Winston Cup teams come back to the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. "Whether it's February or July or any other month, Berry Burst Cheerios cereal makes a great breakfast," said Richard Petty, the winningest driver in Daytona history. “I've tried them and I'm pretty impressed with what the Cheerios folks have been able to do. We felt we needed to do something to help them celebrate," he said

2/13/03

Mosley/FIA letter to F1 teams  This document (PDF format) is the full text of a letter sent by the FIA President to the FIA Formula One World Championship Team Principals on Friday, February 7th, 2003.

2/13/03

Unofficial Barber Dodge Pro test times from Spring Training Feb 10-11  

Leonardo Maia 1:03.52
Colin Fleming 1:03.53
Josh Beaulieu 1:03.63
Victor Gonzales 1:03.69
Burt Frisselle 1:03.73
Dan Di Leo 1:03.91
Antoine Bessette 1:03.92
Memo Rojas 1:03.95
Guy Cosmo 1:03.98
Scott Poirier 1:04.01
Al Unser 1:04.03
German Quiroga 1:04.04
Alex Sperafico 1:04.13
Chris Baker 1:04.26
Craig Duerson 1:04.28
Matt Franc 1:04.34
Nelson Philippe 1:04.41
Chris Green 1:04.42
Robbie Montinola 1:04.53
Luis Pelayo 1:04.55
Shinji Kashima 1:04.78
Atticus Missner 1:04.79
Mike Richardson 1:04.82
Roland Isra 1:04.92
Hima Maher 1:05.50
Bud Risser 1:05.65

2/13/03

More on Waltrip trashing Vasser   UPDATE A reader writes, I'm not a fan of NASCAR and I must say I agree with most of what Paul said below with one notable exception. Does Paul REALLY think "practically anybody can drive those hunks of tin"? If so he needs to get himself to any of the NASCAR ride-along program and take ride for three laps in one of the cars. It will be painfully obvious that it takes a lot more than the average Joe thinks to drive one of these cars. Granted they are much easier to drive than any open wheel car but to marginalize the required skills, as Paul did, diminishes the rest of his argument. Gary Shell  2/13/03 - Dear AR1, Those good ol' boys don't like any open-wheel drivers in their series period. They didn't like it when Mario Andretti won the Daytona 500, Jeff Gordon's recent domination, Tony Stewart the current Champion (all open wheelers) and they just don't want to admit that practically anybody can drive those hunks of tin. Just imagine what's going to happen in 4-7 years once Honda and Toyota start throwing their weight (money) around. Fuel injection, Japanese drivers, and a slew of angry hillbillies. I can smell an IRL/CART-type split coming. Gone are the days of 40+ year old drivers... NASCAR, make room for change. It will happen, whether you like it or not! Paul Richards, Des Moines, Iowa

2/13/03

More on Road America  Here is an article from the local media in Wisconsin regarding CART and Road America.  Pretty much says the same thing previously reported by AR1 yesterday.  AR1's report also included a statement from the IRL denying any rumors they might race at Road America.

2/13/03

F3 race added to German 500 weekend  UPDATE Official release - The Formula 3-Cup will take place as a support race with the German 500 event on 9th to 11th of May. This was announced by the Formula 3-federation and the EuroSpeedway Lausitz today. With the Formula 3-Cup now three support races can be seen besides the popular touring car series of the V8STAR and the spectacular FIA Sportscar World Championship. "This is a great deal for our Cup and the young drivers", Cup-organizer Bertram Schäfer says enthusiastically, " already last year the Formula 3 should have been involved with the Champ-Car events. Awesome that it becomes reality this time." Also Champ-Car President Christopher Pook confirms: "We know Formula 3 in Germany already for quite a while. With our involvement even a first Formula 3 test on the Speedway oval took place last year." Altogether the Formula 3-Cup will start for two races on the German 500, on Saturday and Sunday. Hans-Jörg Fischer, Manager of Eurospeedway Lausitz, is pleased about the attractive addition to the event: "The cooperation with the Formula 3-Federation has always been very constructive and cooperative, therefore we are very pleased to present this spectacular stage to Formula 3. With the Champ Car World Series and the three support races we offer a motorsports-package and fan-friendly prices far beyond competition."  Tickets for the German 500 are valid for three day and available in three different categories: Gold (149 EUR), Silver (99 EUR) und Bronze (49 EUR). The Paddock tickets are limited to 5,000 at 50 EUR each and are exclusively available in advance sale. Fans can request their tickets under (+49)(0)1805/880 288 or at www.eurospeedway.de  2/13/03 - A German F3 race has been added to the German 500 weekend, joining CART Champ Cars, FIA sports cars, and V8 Star races.  That is four races to keep fans entertained.  We believe all are running on the road course, except CART.  We would have loved to see CART on the road course too just to see how well it would be received.  We think better than the EuroSpeedway thinks.  They are selling the German 500 as an "American" race, hence prefer the oval.  We can understand that philosophy, but the road course inside the EuroSpeedway is the best infield road course we have seen by far.  We think CART would put on a good show on that track.

2/13/03

Artificial dissemination   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read with interest Mark Cipolloni's latest article called artificial dissemination.  I was shocked/appalled to learn that it seems the IRL is the one that is dying, not CART.   All indicators for the IRL were down, while CART's attendance was up significantly in 2002.  Are the majority of the motorsports journalists clueless?  David Peterson, Langhorne, PA.  Dear David, The perception is that CART is dying because so many teams and Honda and Toyota jumped ship to the IRL.  We shall see how much positive affect they have on the IRL's attendance and TV ratings.  We are of the opinion that open wheel oval track racing will struggle to prosper because the oval track well has been run dry by the NASCAR onslaught.  Mark C.

2/13/03

No-Fly zone over Daytona   The buzz of airplanes, blimps and helicopters over Daytona International Speedway will be silenced starting Thursday. In the name of security, federal agencies Monday banned aircraft including blimps, banner planes and news helicopters from flying lower than 3,000 feet within three nautical miles of the Speedway.

2/13/03

Daytona 500 name not for sale   In a sport where everything is for sale for the right price, the Daytona 500 remains one of the last notable exceptions. And if officials at Daytona International Speedway - and NASCAR - have their way, it always will be. "The Daytona 500 just isn't a name you'd want to give up," said Jim France, son of the track's founder and president of its parent company, International Speedway Corporation. "The name for the event, we think, is pretty universally accepted. It's a significant brand in and of itself." There are 36 official races and two all-star events on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule. Twenty-six of the 38 have title sponsors, a decrease of five from last season. The value of those title sponsorships varies greatly depending on the race and the facility, ranging from six to seven figures. However, all of the remaining events other than the Daytona 500 have their title sponsorships on the market. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway had been the only other holdout until it put the title sponsorship for the Brickyard 400 on the market last fall. The asking price is $6 million for three years, according to the sales presentation being offered by the track to potential buyers. For that price, Indianapolis is promising tickets, pit passes, a floating billboard on the lake along the backstretch that's bound to be captured by network cameras, track signs, logo flags, hospitality areas, Internet banner ads, program ads, and radio ads among other benefits. The price does not include television exposure. Networks aren't obligated to refer to the title sponsor, since they're competing for the same advertising dollars. If the Brickyard 400, a 9-year-old event, is able to seek a $6 million asking price, what would title sponsorship to the Daytona 500 - NASCAR's premier event - be worth? "Probably in the $75 million for 10 years range," said a representative for one of the 500's presenting sponsors, who insisted on anonymity because of his relationship with the race. The lure to sell the title to the highest bidder has been tempting, France said, but not worth the ramifications. As presenting sponsors, company names don't appear in the name of the race. However, they are allowed to use the Daytona 500 and its logos in their advertising and promotions. Presenting sponsors also receive signs in Victory Lane and along pit road, as well as tickets and suites for the race and other luxury accommodations.  Augusta Chronicle

2/13/03

RJR in more trouble   RJR tobacco was the lead story on the CBS news show 60 minuets II last night. The crux of the story was that RJR openly violated the Iraq trade embargo for years. The violation could mean multimillion dollar fines, possible prison time for a number executives, diminished public image as an American firm in RJR's domestic market.

2/13/03

IRL trio prepares for IROC   IRL IndyCar Series stars Sam Hornish Jr., Felipe Giaffone and Helio Castroneves will start third, fifth and 10th, respectively, in the first True Value International Race of Champions race of the season Feb. 14 at Daytona International Speedway. Starting positions for the 100-mile race on the 2.5-mile, high-banked were selected in a draw Feb. 12. The True Value IROC series puts 12 top drivers from different North American series in equally prepared stock cars in a four-race series. The first race starts at 11 a.m. (EST) Friday, Feb. 14 at Daytona. It will be televised at 10:30 p.m. (EST) Sunday, Feb. 16 on ESPN2. The season finale is Aug. 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

2/13/03

Provisional F1 weekend schedule 

Friday
8:30-10:30 AM Free testing for Jordan, Renault and Minardi
11:00-12:00 PM Free practice
2:00-3:00 PM First qualifying
Saturday
9:00-9:45 AM Free practice
10:15-11:00 AM Free practice
1:30-1:45 PM Pre-qualifying warm-up
2:00-3:00 PM Second qualifying
Sunday
9:45-10:00 AM Warm-up (TBD)
2:00 PM Race

2/13/03

Latest F1 hot news items 

Frentzen Denies Heidfeld Rift
Flavio Tightens Renault Grip
Alonso Tops Charts At Valencia
Schu Tempts Fate With F2003-GA
Silver Trio Lead In France
Sauber To Share 2004 Ferrari V10
Jacques Strikes Another Button Blow
French F1 TV Crisis Averted
Alonso Expects Aero-Improvement
New Minardi Waiting For Tires
Webber Admits Reliability Concern
Formula One Eyes Indian Future
Coulthard Concern At Backroom Deals
Dramatic Staff Cuts At Silverstone
Frentzen Tribute To Sauber Progress
Jordan Driver Rumors Were 'False'

2/13/03

Barber Dodge Pro Series kicks off 2003  The 2003 CART Barber Dodge Pro Series season got underway this week at Sebring International Raceway as drivers began preparations for the ten-round championship with two days of intensive testing on the same 1.64- mile test track that the Champ Car World Series drivers used for their Spring Training last week.  Story

2/13/03

Pook remembered for F1 contributions   Dear AR1.com, I think it is interesting that according to the February 2003 issue of F1 Racing Magazine, Chris Pook received votes toward being listed in The 99 most important people in Formula 1 history (because of Long Beach). He did not receive enough votes to actually be in the top 99 in the end, but what an accomplishment to be included for consideration. The leader of CART is known and respected around the world! Rick Flaute, Dayton, Ohio

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