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DATE

News (chronologically)

2/23/03

Pruett wins Trans-Am race  Scott Pruett proved he hadn¹t lost anything in the seven years he¹s been away from the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup by becoming the first repeat winner of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Sunday at the temporary combined street and airport circuit in downtown St. Petersburg. Pruett won the 1987 edition of the this race, run on another street circuit around Tropicana Field, en route to one of his two Trans-Am championships. Driving the No. 7 The Jaguar R Performance Jaguar XKR, Pruett simply dominated the race, winning the pole, leading the most laps, setting the fastest race lap and beating Boris Said, in the No. 33 ACS Express Menards Ford Mustang, by 1.296 seconds. Johnny Miller, driving the No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer AutomationDirect Jaguar was third, ahead of Paul Gentilozzi, in the No. 3 The Jaguar R Performance Jaguar XKR and Stu Hayner, No. 2 Trenton Forging Chevrolet Corvette. Pruett won the BFGoodrich Tires Take Control Award for leading the most laps and the newly announced $2,000 Flowmaster American Thunder Challenge for his dominant run. ³I didn¹t have to worry about Boris,² said Pruett, who returned to the Trans-Am Series this year after his last full season in 1994. ³I saw him coming and we wanted to keep a good pace. This Jaguar just didn¹t miss a beat all day long. When I wanted a little bit more, it had it in it. It¹s a terrific car. ³This is just a great way to come back,² he added. ³(Team owner) Paul Gentilozzi and all the Rocketsports team just gave me a great drive. I said I was a rusty nail on Friday. I guess maybe I¹m just a little bit tarnished, but not rusty any more.² Said drove from dead last on the grid after his qualifying time was nullified for a rule infraction found in post-qualifying inspection, and put on a driving clinic on the fast 1.806-mile circuit. Said said he enjoyed his drive through the field. ³This is the best street course I¹ve ever been on,² said Said. ³The crowd was great. Scott is just a really great driver. I don¹t know if we could have caught him in the end.² Miller, too, had his own fight to the front, after losing several positions on a mid-race restart. ³I think we were both pedaling really hard,² said Miller. ³On the first restart, the tires just got covered in sand and I lost a couple positions, so we just had to go for it. It was just an absolute blast there at the end.² Pruett led from the pole, but lost the lead briefly to Gentilozzi on lap 14, only to take it back for good on the following lap.

2/23/03

Aero Not Yet A Competitive Issue The two highest finishing Chevrolets in the Subway 400 were those of Jimmy Johnson in eighth and his teammate, Jeff Gordon, in 15th. However, the Chevrolet camp isn’t even close to being concerned. Next week, if the Chevrolet fails to contend for a fair share of top ten finishes a bit of concern just might show on the faces of Chevrolet car owners and crew chiefs. However, for now, whether one car make has an advantage over another is still an unanswered question. “I don’t think anyone can say anything about one make or another being better until we’ve got a few more races under our belt,” said Robbie Loomis, crew chief on the #24 Dupont Chevrolet driven by Gordon. “We didn’t test here. We didn’t get any practice on Saturday so we stuck with last year’s setup and I think we were fairly close to where we needed to be.” Gordon was running fifth with 100 laps to go when he spun out exiting the fourth turn. Loomis pointed the finger at Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the root cause of the spin. While Gordon and Johnson were competitive, the DEI and RCR teams flailed about for most of the afternoon. “We just never hit it,” said Steve Hmiel, of the efforts of the #1, 8 and 15 teams. “We found ourselves with a lot more front downforce than we had last year and we just never worked out the balance we needed to be competitive. We really needed to be able to practice on Saturday but things will be different next week. We practiced at Las Vegas and have a good idea of how we’ll run.” Michael Waltrip, 15th and Steve Park, 21st, managed to stay on the lead lap but never broached the top-ten. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished 33rd, three laps off the pace after blowing a left front tire 45 laps into the race and then spinning out three times over the remainder of the event. Of even greater disappointment were the finishes of the three RCR drivers, Jeff Green, 31st, Robby Gordon, 29th and Kevin Harvick, 25th. “We just missed the setups,” said Gil Martin, Harvick’s crew chief. The best Chevrolet over the course of the afternoon belonged to Bobby Labonte. He kept the #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet in the top ten until the final ten laps. His tires wore out Labonte faded to a 16th place finish. Stan Creekmore – NASCAR Editor

2/23/03

Good inaugural crowd at St. Pete  We spoke to CART's John Lopes after the race and he was happy with how things turned out.  The racing was good, cars were in 4-wheel drifts through the turns and the crowd was very enthusiastic.  John told us "this will probably be our smallest crowd all year."  We estimate the Sunday attendance around 40,000.  We have not heard what the weekend figures were, but probably in the neighborhood of 80,000.  If that is the case, CART is in for a stellar year.  After the race, most fans stayed in the grandstands and enjoyed the post-race ceremonies.  Mark C.


Photos by Mark Scheuern and Scott Morris

2/23/03

Why no turn numbers?  A reader writes, Dear AR1, how come CART does not paint big turn numbers on the pavement (outside the groove) so that TV viewers can see what turn number the drivers are in when viewing from home or on the Jumbotron's at the track? I also noticed how wide the main straight was at St. Pete.  Are we ever going to see standing starts in Champ Cars? Mordichai Rosen, LA, California.  Dear Mordichai,  That sounds like a good idea as long as they paint the numbers where the cars won't lose traction on the paint.  They could also paint them on the concrete walls, but the numbers might be too small there.  As for the standing starts, CART does not think its drivers are good enough to do standing starts like F1, F3000, F3, Fran-Am and most other open wheel road racing series do.  Besides, the CART fans might get too much entertainment from a standing start and pass out from the sheer excitement after being born on bred on parades.  Mark C.

2/23/03

Arden team spotted in St. Pete  We spotted several members of the Arden F3000 team in the pits and paddock of the St. Pete race surveying the action and taking notes for their upcoming rumored entry into CART.

2/23/03

Another autopsy photo fight  An Iredell County legislator who represents Dale Earnhardt's family in the N.C. House filed a bill last week to remove autopsy photographs as public records. But officials at the N.C. Press Association promise to oppose the legislation. Under the bill sponsored by Rep. Karen Ray, R-Iredell, court officials, investigators and family members of the deceased would have access to autopsy photos, videos and audiotapes. But others would have to ask a judge for a court order to release photos or tapes or allow copies. Ray said that the bill was prompted by the furor two years ago when newspapers and other media outlets asked for photos from the autopsy in Florida of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt after his fatal wreck at the Daytona 500. Earnhardt's widow, Teresa Earnhardt, was on the steering committee for Ray's campaign last year in a Mooresville-based district that is heavily populated by NASCAR drivers, team members, crews and companies. Ray says that protection in the bill extends beyond NASCAR drivers. The bill would make it a felony to illegally provide a photo or recording from an autopsy to an unauthorized official. But Teri Saylor, the executive director of the N.C. Press Association, said that her group of newspaper publishers is likely to oppose Ray's bill, just as it did a similar bill that died in the 2001 legislature. Saylor said that information such as autopsy photos can be critical to a newspaper's watchdog role. Saylor said that many newspapers have strict guidelines about photos. Some newspapers provide links to autopsy reports on their Web sites, but not to autopsy photos, Saylor said. Florida's legislature removed autopsy photos from the state's public records after the flap over the Earnhardt photos. But John Bussian, a lobbyist for the press association, said that Florida voters passed a ballot proposal last year that requires a two-thirds vote in the legislature to remove items from the state's public-records law. Winston Salem Journal

2/23/03

American Spirit team launches website  American Spirit Team Johansson is pleased to announce the evolution of AmericanSpiritTeamJohansson.com for the 2003 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car Season Powered by Ford season and beyond. A resource for fans, partners and the media, the innovative site provides extensive information about A.S.T.J. and their drivers Jimmy Vasser and Ryan Hunter-Reay, as well as their sponsors and the Champ Car World Series. AmericanSpiritTeamJohansson.com encourages viewer interaction, the website features the “Pick the Podium” contest. The contestant correctly determines the top three positions in correct order, will win a Mark II Stefan Johansson watch. Visit www.sjwatches.com for more information on the Mach II watch and the entire line of Stefan Johansson watches. The contest will run throughout the 2003 Champ Car season, 19 watches will be awarded, one for each event. In addition to the latest team news, the easy to navigate site will include track information, schedules, results, favorite links, and driver interviews.

2/23/03

UK fan laments over delayed TV  Dear AR1, With less than 1 hour to go before the season opens, I have put 4 new Bridgestone tires on my Ford, the Corona beer is in the fridge and I'm all set for... a 25.5 hour delay before I get the highlights on St. Pete's on British Eurosport. Nice start, CART! That means a whole day without AR1 too! Rockingham Motor Speedway is making up for losing Champ Cars to Brands, next month they are hosting the Dutch National Circus, and promoting it better in the local area than they ever did the 2 CART races. Still, all credit to them for doing something to make back the £50 million that has been spent. Who'd invest in an Oval now?  Lets hope it's worth the wait. Ed McFarlane, England

2/23/03
F3000

Cumulative test times from Imola  

These are the cumulative times from the two days of testing at Imola.

Driver

Team

Time

Gap

Patrick Friesacher

Red Bull Coloni

1:35.345

115.735 mph

Bjorn Wirdheim

Arden International

1:36.020

0.675

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Red Bull Coloni

1:36.530

1.185

Ricardo Sperafico

Coloni

1:36.727

1.382

Enrico Toccacelo

Super Nova Racing

1:37.007

1.662

Nicolas Minassian

Brand Motorsport

1:37.092

1.747

Townsend Bell

Arden International

1:37.349

2.004

Gary Paffett

Brand Motorsport

1:37.403

2.058

Tony Schmidt

Team Astromega

1:37.470

2.125

Raffaele Gianmaria

Durango Formula

1:37.503

2.158

Nicolas Kiesa

Den Bla Avis

1:37.517

2.172

Jamie Melo Jr

Durango Formula

1:37.609

2.264

Jaroslav Janis

Charouz ISR Racing

1:38.413

3.068

Yannick Schroeder

Charouz ISR Racing

1:38.444

3.099

Rodrigo Sperafico

BCN Motorsport

1:38.528

3.183

Marcel Costa

BCN Motorsport

1:40.372

5.027

Angel Burgueno

BCN Motorsport

1:50.038

14.693

Kevin Nadin

BCN Motorsport

2:10.166

34.821

2/23/03
Industry News

Goodyear Tire plots comeback  This Cleveland Plain Dealer article says, The next few months will be critical for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. as it tries to restore investor confidence and get its finances in order. Haunted by heavy borrowing for expansion and suffering two years of losses, the Akron company faces a possible cash crunch. So the world's largest tire maker seeks a new deal with its banks, trying to buy time while it lowers costs and plots a comeback. The problems it faces:
Potentially huge pension obligations.
Big payments on its debts.
Price spikes in oil, a major raw material.
Dealer discontent and resistance to tire price increases.
Declining market share.
Sluggish tire demand. The company faces bankruptcy if its plan fails

2/23/03

Max wants privateer teams in 2005  In this Planet F1 article, Max Mosley says, I would be very surprised for 04,"he told Autosport. "Looking to 2005 and 2006 if we get our regulations sorted then we will see new teams coming in. If everything goes as we hope it will, you will be able to get hold of last year's Ferrari, for example - if they would sell it. The engines would last six races and all the other parts would last a long time, too." "Then if you had a brilliant driver - such as Rob Walker had with Stirling Moss in the 50's and 60's (using cars bought off Lotus) - you would probably be in there with a chance of winning a race." Mosley wants to see the field expanded to 24 cars again and has already hinted that the prohibitive $48 million FIA deposit could be waived. "The big teams will still spend a fortune on their own cars and engines but with the new rules, it will be expedient for them to sell their cars on. The second string teams will increasingly tend to have the equipment of the first string teams and that's where the cost-saving will come." Former Prost technical director Alan Jenkins thinks teams could be run at a fraction of the cost on this basis, hardly more than the number of people needed for an F3000 team... "And it would be especially feasible at this time, because there are so many people with the necessary skills who are out of work at the moment." But he also had a word of warning. "It's also worth remembering that teams set up in such a manner and in such a small amount of time can also depart at the drop of a hat too. Is that what F1 wants or needs?"

2/23/03

Everyone will use HANS in Australia  Max Mosley has issued a warning to the drivers moaning about the HANS system. Get on with it. Formula 1 drivers have been warned that if they want to compete in the Australian Grand Prix on March 9th, they will have to wear the Head And Neck Safety system. "The insurance issue is a complete red herring and is something that drivers have to sort out with their helmet manufacturers and their insurance companies," said Max. Our position is very simple, you don't have to wear a HANS device, but you won't leave the pitlane in Melbourne unless you're wearing one."

2/23/03

Manning loves CART  This Toronto Star article says, Englishman Darren Manning could well be in Japan instead of getting ready for CART's season-opening race tomorrow but for an 11th-hour phone call from team owner Derrick Walker. Unable to land a ride with a CART team for the 2003 season, Manning was in Japan for several days around Christmas, testing with a team in the Japanese GT championship and Formula Nippon series. "I was all set to sign a contract when I got a call from Derrick," said the 27-year-old Manning, who had spent the 1999 season in Japan and emerged as the F3 champion in that country. "He said, `Are you still interested? Have you signed anything?' "I said `yes,' I was interested. And so I put off signing with the Japanese team. It would have been a step up (from his previous stint in Japan). And it would have been a good living. The prize money is pretty good. It was where I could have spent the rest of my life. "But this has been a dream of mine, so here I am." "I don't care if it takes five years," he said. "I want to stay over here. I think if I keep proving myself I'll get my name on the minds of American fans. "I love it here. I love the people. It's a nice way to go racing. I wish I could have been here a lot sooner."

2/22/03

Jaguar extends Trans-Am sponsorship  Jaguar North America has expanded its sponsorship with the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup for the 2003 season. For the third-straight year, Jaguar will continue as a contingency sponsor, as well as presenting the ³Pole Award² program. In addition, Jaguar will recognize the driver contributing the most points for Jaguar in the coveted Manufacturers¹ Championship with the new ³R Performance Award.² Jaguar will also provide an all-wheel-drive 3.0 X-Type as the ³Official Safety Car² for the Trans-Am Series. Through its Contingency Award, Jaguar drivers will earn a $5,000 bonus for a victory, a $3,000 award for a second-place finish and $2,000 for a third-place finish. The Jaguar Pole Award is a performance-based initiative that rewards drivers who win the pole at each of the Trans-Am Series¹ 11 events this season. Polesitters will receive a key, regardless of what type of car they race, which, at the culmination of the season, they will use to attempt to open the door to a 2004 Jaguar XK8, during a formal ceremony. The driver whose key opens the vehicle will win a one-year lease on the car. A new element to this year¹s program, the Jaguar R Award, will reward the Jaguar driver who contributes the most points for Jaguar in the Manufacturers¹ Championship. That driver will earn a one-year lease on an XK8. Should the same driver win both awards, Jaguar will present the winner with a two-year lease on an XKR, Jaguar¹s marquee grand touring car.

2/22/03

Unser's mother happy with son's debut   We chatted with an ecstatic Shelley Unser this evening, beaming ear to ear that her son Alfred, who started 19th in today's Barber Dodge Pro Series race, moved all the way up to 11th at the finish in his series debut.  He gained more positions than any other driver in the race.  Photo of "Just Al Unser" by Mark Scheuern.

2/22/03

Maia goes flag-to-flag in Barber Dodge Pro   Leo Maia of Miami, Florida converted his second-ever pole position start into his second career win in the Barber Dodge Pro Series as he drove a flawless race, leading from flag to flag on the 1.806-mile temporary street circuit to take the win over second-place finisher Dan Di Leo, with Memo Rojas coming home in third. Scott Poirier of Deerfield Beach, Florida finished an outstanding fourth in just his first Barber Dodge Pro Series start, with Chris Green fighting his way up into fifth from his tenth starting spot. Burt Frisselle moved up from the eighth starting position to take sixth at the finish. Alex Sperafico of Taledo Parana, Brazil took the seventh spot while German Quiroga of Mexico moved from fifteenth to take the eighth spot in his Gigante-Reynard. Guy Cosmo, the 2002 Formula Mazda Champion , also made a move to the front with his drive from twelfth into ninth. Nelson Phillippe of Valence, France came home in tenth, one spot ahead of Al Unser.

Pos/Car/Driver/Hometown/Points/Purse/Laps/Laps/Status
1/6/Leonardo Maia/Oakland, Calif./21/$13,000/30/Running
2/19/Dan Di Leo/Markham, Ontario, Canada/17/$8,750/30/Running
3/15/Memo Rojas/Mexico City, Mexico/14/$6,500/30/Running
4/67/Scott Poirier/Deerfield Beach, Florida/12/$4,500/30/Running
5/96/Chris Green/Beaconsfield, Quebec/11/$2,500/30/Running
6/24/Burt Frisselle/Kihei, Hawaii/10/$1,500/30/Running
7/23/Alexandre Sperafico/Toledo Parana', Brazil/9/$1,250/30/Running
8/33/German Quiroga/Mexico City, Mexico /8/$1,250/30/Running
9/45/Guy Cosmo/Bohemia, New York/7/$1,250/30/Running
10/26/Nelson Philippe/Valence, France/6/$1,250/30/Running
11/31/Al Unser/Corrales, New Mexico/5/$1,000/30/Running
12/25/Atticus Missner/Chicago, Illinois/4/$1,000/30/Running
13/34/Mike Richardson/Kelowna, B.C., Canada/3/$1,000/30/Running
14/63/Craig Duerson/St. Petersburg, Florida/2/$1,000/30/Running
15/12/Shinji "Racer"Kashima/Tokyo, Japan/1/$1,000/30/Running
16/95/Victor Gonzalez/Hatoray, Puerto Rico/$750/30/Running
17/16/Antoine Bessette/ St. Bruno, Quebec/$750/29/Contact
18/11/Chris Baker/Houston, Texas/$750/29/Running
19/30/Ron Atapattu/Boca Raton, Florida/$750/29/Running
20/59/Hima Maher/Calgary, Alberta/$750/29/Running
21/18/Robbie Montinola/Laguna Beach, Calif./$500/29/Running
22/49/Luis Pelayo/Mexico City, Mexico/$500/28/Contact
23/20/Matt Franc/Plainfield, New Jersey/$500/28/Running
24/40/Bud Risser/Clearwater, Florida/$500/28/Running
25/28/Colin Fleming/North Hills, Calif./$500/28/Running
26/21/Roland Isra/New York, New York/$250/27/Running
27/27/Josh Beaulieu/Langley, B.C., Canada/1/$250/2/Contact

2/22/03

CART's Class of 2003  The photo to the right is CART's Class of 2003 taken at the season opener in St. Petersburg Florida today.  The big guy in the back row is Joel Camathias, who towers over all the rest.  Photo by Leslie Ann Miller/LAT courtesy of CART

2/22/03

Scott Pruett wins pole for Trans-Am race 

1 (7) Scott Pruett, Jaguar XKR, 1:14.545, 85.961.
2 (3) Paul Gentilozzi, Jaguar XKR, 1:14.560, 85.944.
3 (64) Johnny Miller, Jaguar XKR, 1:15.192, 85.222.
4 (2) Stuart Hayner, Chevrolet Corvette, 1:15.361, 85.031.
5 (5) Tomy Drissi, Jaguar XKR, 1:15.624, 84.735.
6 (12) Michael Lewis, Jaguar XKR, 1:16.387, 83.889.
7 (83) Max Lagod, Chevrolet Camaro, 1:16.488 , 83.778.
8 (8) Jorge Diaz, Jr., Jaguar XKR, 1:16.755, 83.486.
9 (86) John Baucom, Jaguar XKR, 1:16.957, 83.267.
10 (49) Randy Ruhlman, Chevrolet Corvette, 1:17.286, 82.913.
11 (23) Bob Ruman, Chevrolet Corvette, 1:17.677, 82.495.
12 (18) Jon "Chevy" Leavy, Chevrolet Camaro, 1:18.080, 82.070.
13 (6) Greg Pickett, Jaguar XKR, 1:18.466, 81.666.
14 (07) Claudio Burtin, Panoz Esperante, 1:19.769, 80.332.
15 (46) Bill Bentley, Chevrolet Camaro, 1:21.326, 78.794
16 (59) Simon Gregg, Chevrolet Corvette, 1:23.430, 76.807
17 (10) Bobby Sak, Chevrolet Corvette, 0, 0.
*18 (99) Paul Menard, Ford Mustang, 1:16.511, 83.753.
**19 (33) Boris Said, Ford Mustang, 1:15.264, 85.140.
*(99) Moved to back of field--Replacement of declared tires.
**(33) Moved to back of field--Failed post qualifying technical inspection.

2/22/03

Kendall to let loose  This Pasadena newspaper article says, The muzzle is no longer in place. When the CART season begins Saturday with qualifying for the inaugural Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Fla., Tommy Kendall is going to let loose. The former seven-time Trans-Am series champion and La Canada High product is the lead commentator for CART's Champ Car series. "I was at eight-tenths, in terms of some of my candor, last year,' Kendall said. "I made the conscious decision to try to scale it back a notch, in terms of that eight-tenths. "I knew Chris Pook had a lot of fires he was trying to put out and manage. And I know that when I'm totally frank, I can start some more fires for him to deal with. There were a number of times when I wanted to say this team owner or that team owner was like an (idiot) and I didn't. This year, rest assured, I will.'  More....

2/22/03

Bridgestone dealers hit bonanza with CART  We were talking to Mark Robinson of Bridgestone this morning and he tells us Bridgestone ran a promotion with its dealers in the Tampa St. Pete area whereby anyone visiting a Bridgestone store received free Friday tickets t this weekends CART race and each dealer had a drawing to win tickets to race day as well.  He reports that the dealers did a large volume of business that weekend and some dealers had record days.  Bridgestone is going to use this as a model in other markets. Mark C.

2/22/03

Maia wins Barber Dodge Pro pole   Leo Maia made the most of final qualifying to take the pole position for Saturday's race with a lap time of 1:14.142 seconds on the 1.806-mile temporary street circuit in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Barber Dodge Pro Series again showed itself to be one of the most competitive categories in the world, with the top eleven drivers qualifying within one second of each other.

Pos/Driver/Hometown/Lap/MPH
1/6/Leonardo Maia/Oakland, Calif./ 01:15.119/01:14.142/87.691
2/27/Josh Beaulieu/Langley, B.C., Canada/01:14.972/01:14.419/87.365
3/19/Dan Di Leo/Markham, Ontario, Canada/01:15.041/01:14.405/87.381
4/15/Memo Rojas/Mexico City, Mexico/01:16.354/01:14.479/87.294
5/67/Scott Poirier/Deerfield Beach, Florida/01:15.100 01:14.575/87.182
6/23/Alexandre Sperafico/Toledo Parana', Brazil/01:16.190/01:14.697 87.040
7/26/Nelson Philippe/Valence, France/01:15.907/01:14.874/86.834
8/24/Burt Frisselle/Kihei, Hawaii/01:16.171/01:14.875/86.833
9/28/Colin Fleming/North Hills, Calif./01:15.571/01:14.936/86.762
10/96/Chris Green/Beaconsfield, Quebec/01:15.818/01:15.091/86.583
11/16/Antoine Bessette/St. Bruno, Quebec/01:15.769/01:15.160/86.503
12/45/Guy Cosmo/Bohemia, New York/01:16.431/01:15.243/86.408
13/49/Luis Pelayo/Mexico City, Mexico/01:16.020/01:15.329/86.309
14/20/Matt Franc/Plainfield, New Jersey/01:16.561/01:15.410/86.217
15/33/German Quiroga/Mexico City, Mexico/01:15.623/01:15.426/86.198
16/34/Mike Richardson/Kelowna, B.C., Canada/01:16.485/01:15.544/86.064
17/25/Atticus Missner/Chicago, Illinois/01:15.905/01:15.608 /85.991
18/11/Chris Baker/Houston, Texas/01:15.637/01:15.637/85.958
19/31/Al Unser/Corrales, New Mexico/01:16.228/01:15.738/85.843
20/63/Craig Duerson/St. Petersburg, Florida/01:16.569/01:15.788/85.787
21/21/Roland Isra/New York, New York/01:17.782/ 01:15.861/85.704
22/12/Shinji "Racer"Kashima/Tokyo, Japan/01:17.426/01:16.101/85.434
23/95/Victor Gonzalez/Hatoray, Puerto Rico/01:16.384/ 01:16.384/85.117
24/18/Robbie Montinola/Laguna Beach, Calif./01:17.218/01:16.652/84.820
25/59/Hima Maher/Calgary, Alberta/01:17.658/01:17.529/83.860
26/30/Ron Atapattu/Boca Raton, Florida/1:18.018/01:18.002/83.352
27/40/Bud Risser/Clearwater, Florida/01:18.951/01:18.613/82.704

2/22/03

Wallace claims Chevy's are cheating  Rusty Wallace accuses the Chevy teams of cheating a Daytona.  This Winston Salem Journal article tells the story.

2/22/03

Daytona 500 a bonanza for sponsors  The Daytona 500 airing on Fox last weekend provided corporate sponsors with more exposure value than any other U.S. motorsports broadcast in history, as 271 brands accumulated some $251.4 million of exposure value — nearly 10% more than last year’s Daytona total of $228.7 million. According to research conducted by Joyce Julius and Associates’ Sponsors Report — which has documented exposure received by corporate entities during national television broadcasts of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series for the last 19 seasons — sponsors garnered more than seven hours of on-screen time and 250 verbal references during the live 4.5-hour Fox telecast. Exposure value is calculated by comparing the amount of time each sponsor appears clear and in-focus, as well as all mentions of sponsors, to the cost of purchasing a commercial during the network’s broadcast. Budweiser was the biggest exposure winner among the sponsors during the season-opening telecast, as the beer brand collected more than 27:00 of on-camera time and 20 mentions, bringing about a comparable value of $16.1 million. Meanwhile, race winner Michael Waltrip’s main sponsor, NAPA Auto Parts, finished a close second in the battle for exposure after collecting $15.5 million. As a group, brands functioning as primary team sponsors averaged $2.1 million in comparable exposure value, or nearly the estimated cost of eight, 30-second commercial spots during the Daytona telecast.  Joyce Julius

2/22/03

Herbert crashes Bentley  Johnny Herbert crashed his Bentley ALMS car this week testing at Jerez and it has set the team back a bit in their preparations for the 12-Hours of Sebring.

2/22/03

Another new sponsor for PK Racing  Another new sponsor for PK Racing is Optium which is company that uses its proprietary device and optoelectronic packaging technology to provide optical systems manufacturers with the highest-performing, best-value optical subsystems for transmitting and regenerating 10- and 40-Gbps data. Optium will produce module level solutions that will radically alter the economics of high-speed data transmission. One of the investors in the company is Kalkhoven, Pettit, and Levin Ventures, LLC (KPL) that was formed in August 2000 by Kevin Kalkhoven, ex-CEO of JDS Uniphase, Danny Pettit, ex-CFO and President of European Operations of JDS Uniphase, and Jack Levin, formerly a Partner of, and Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs for Montgomery Securities.  Paul Josephson

2/22/03

City of Lugano to sponsor Camathias  Dale Coyne Racing and car number 19 driver Joel Camathias have a new marketing partner in a groundbreaking relationship established with the beautiful City of Lugano, Switzerland. Lugano is one of the most picturesque cities in the world. This breathtaking city is located on pristine Lake Lugano with a backdrop of the fabulous Swiss Alps. Lugano is one of the most sought after destinations in Europe. With its natural setting, modern city conveniences, entertainment and casinos, Lugano offers the total travel experience. “I have visited many places in the world throughout my travels, and by far Lugano with its natural setting is the most memorable and beautiful marriages to nature I have ever seen,” commented team owner Dale Coyne. “We are honored that the municipality of Lugano has realized the international appeal of Champ Car racing by supporting our efforts with Joel in 2003 and beyond.” “We are pleased to be able to support such a world wide championship as the Champ Car World Series with one of our very own favorite sons, Joel Camathias. Many areas around the world have utilized international sport to bring recognition to their region. This is a wonderful opportunity for the people of Lugano to bring awareness to our historic and beautiful municipality.” - Municipal Government Statement The City of Lugano will embark on several marketing relationships to bring awareness to the region of Lugano as well as it’s tourist and business opportunities. This partnership with Dale Coyne Racing and Joel Camathias is the first step in a detailed marketing plan for the City of Lugano. As a native of Lugano driver Joel Camathias knows well the spirit of the people. “For me I am very honored to bring the spirit and color of this wonderful city to the people of the world.” Commented the talented 22-year-old Camathias. “I was raised in Lugano and attended all of my education including college here.”

2/22/03

Al Unser Jr. at St. Pete  We spotted former CART champion Al Unser Jr. having dinner last night in the exquisite Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg with his son Alfred, his ex-wife Shelley, Shelley's new fiancé (that must have been comfortable) and Dede Rogers, a key principal in the DSTP Toyota Atlantic series team.  We understand Unser Jr. made a surprise visit and will likely be here all weekend with his son.  He then goes to Homestead for next weekend's IRL opener.  DSTP's Joey Hand is helping to coach Alfred, and don't be surprised i Alfred drives for DSTP in the CART Toyota Atlantic series in 2004.  Mark C.

2/22/03
WoO

Donny Schatz in action  (L) Opening night was a blur of activity in the (15) Donny Schatz pits as the Parker Store team struggled with a fuel cell problem in practice and time trials at Kings Speedway in Hanford, California, on Friday night, February 21, 2003. Schatz and his crew repaired the problem and came back to win the first qualifying heat for the O'Reilly World of Outlaws event. (R) (15) Donny Schatz and the Parker Store team struggled with a fuel cell problem in practice and time trials at Kings Speedway in Hanford, California, on Friday night, February 21, 2003. Schatz and his crew repaired the problem and came back to win the first qualifying heat for the O'Reilly World of Outlaws event.


Photos courtesy of David Allio

2/22/03

Massa's first taste of a Ferrari (at Fiorano)


Photos courtesy of Ferrari

2/22/03

St. Pete ticket sales  We are hearing that advance ticket sales for Sunday's inaugural Grand Prix of St. Petersburg are about 35,000 (for Sunday).  They are confident that number will go significantly higher on Sunday because the weather forecast is favorable.  For a first-year event, if they get 50,000 or more on race day we hear the promoters will be happy.  The Long Beach Grand Prix wasn't built in a day either.  This event is another one where CART is taking a shared risk/reward with the promoter (Dover Downs).

2/22/03
Industry News

Bridgestone recovers from Firestone recall  Brisk exports helped top Japanese tire maker Bridgestone lift net profit 161 per cent last year, confirming a comeback from a recall scandal that nearly destroyed its US Firestone brand. The results offered further evidence that Bridgestone - battered for two years by the fallout from deadly accidents involving its US unit's tires - had largely put the Firestone mess behind it after settling more than 700 related cases.  The USA market is still soft for Firestone, but Bridgestone sales worldwide are strong, more than offsetting the Firestone losses.

2/22/03

Jaguar powers back into Trans-Am  Jaguar power returns to Trans-Am racing this summer with a thundering 650-horsepower Jaguar AJ-V8 engine, developed by Michigan-based Rocketsports Racing. A 4.5-liter version of Jaguar’s lightweight dual overhead-cam V8 will power one of the team’s Jaguar XKR-bodied race cars in the 2003 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup, and will be driven by two-time Trans-Am champion Scott Pruett. “The last time a Jaguar engine competed in Trans-Am was back in 1981. Its return is long overdue,” said Rocketsports Racing team owner, Paul Gentilozzi. “It’s only right that we should be using a Jaguar engine in our XKR.” Gentilozzi re-introduced Jaguar to Trans-Am competition during the 2000 season. The following year he drove the Rocketsports Racing XKR to his third Trans-Am title and delivered the coveted Manufacturers’ Championship title to Jaguar. Earlier this year, Gentilozzi approached Jaguar Cars North America with a proposal to switch from Ford pushrod power to the Jaguar AJ-V8. He was given an enthusiastic reception – together with a new engine.

2/22/03

Latest F1 hot news items 

Ralf Notes FW25 Aero Weakness
Toyota And Puma Team Up
Bridgestone Select Aussie Rubber
Impressive Debut For Felipe Massa
Dry Track Wraps Up Barcelona
Minardi: Ignore Fraudulent Pleas
F1 Facing Huge Problems: JV
New Paint-Job For Kimi's Helmet
Jaguar Target Ambitious Fourth
Austria Holds Onto F1 Hope

2/21/03

Merlins Energy Source signs on with Johansson  American Spirit Team Johansson is pleased to announce their partnership with Merlins Energy Source, a leading natural energy drink. The partnership includes associate sponsorship for the #12 entry driven by Jimmy Vasser and the #31 entry driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay in the 2003 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. “I am very excited to have Merlins Energy Source on board,” commented team owner, Stefan Johansson. He continued, “I have known Tim for a long time. He, along with Sabrina have created a very progressive company and I look forward to developing a good business relationship as we go forward.” Timothy Kahn and Sabrina Champi developed Merlins Energy Source four years ago after a visit to Sweden. Merlins will make its debut in Mexico later this year, “I am really excited about our partnership with Stefan (Johansson) and American Spirit Team Johansson. CART and their focus on the NAFTA community offer a fantastic avenue for Merlins Energy Source to introduce itself to the North American market.” commented Kahn. A natural, caffeine free energy drink, Merlins carefully balances guarana seed and ginseng root to increase mental and physical stamina. The Champ Car World Series tour is diversified in climates. Extreme temperatures coupled with the physical demands for the drivers and the crew, make Merlins Energy Source a natural choice as the official drink of American Spirit Team Johansson. “This is an extremely competitive series, both on track and off. Merlins Energy Source will offer a natural advantage for our drivers and crew,” commented Johansson. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, American Spirit Team Johansson is makes its Champ Car debut this weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. For all the latest news and more information on the team, it’s drivers and partners, please visit www.AmericanSpiritTeamJohansson.com. For additional information on Merlins Energy Source and a complete list of its products, please visit www.Merlinsenergy.com

2/21/03

AJ eating his words  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Doesn't A J Foyt seem to be a hypocrite? Here he is running a team in a series that has the evil Team Penske (who he used to badmouth), a "girl" driver (as he calls them), packed full of "them fereiners," and Japanese engines (oops, he has one) and leased engines, that he was so vehemently against in CART.  Markus McClusky, Texas  Dear Markus, The motto is "watch what you say, it may come back to haunt you."  Mark C.

2/21/03

Holland catching onto CART  UPDATE Correction - three articles on CART today.  Our Dutch associates are astonished.  2/21/03 - For the first time ever, this Dutch website is running articles on the CART series.  It appears CART is getting column space in all the traditional F1 circles, which leads us to believe Bernie Ecclestone is already beginning to work his magic behind the scenes.

2/21/03

Beaulieu tops first qualifying round  Josh Beaulieu of Langley, B.C., Canada took the first provisional pole position of the season in today's first qualifying session with a lap of 1.14.972 seconds at the 1.806-mile temporary street circuit on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.
Qualifying in second spot was Dan Di Leo of Markham, Ontario, who held the top spot during most of the session only to come up a scant .069 seconds short in his quest for the pole. Just .059 of a second behind Di Leo was rookie Scott Poirier from nearby Deerfield Beach, Florida in his first start in the Pro Series.

Pos/Driver/Hometown/Lap/MPH
1/Josh Beaulieu/Langley, B.C., Canada/01:14.972/86.720
2/Dan Di Leo/Markham, Ontario, Canada/01:15.041/86.641
3/Scott Poirier/Deerfield Beach, Florida/01:15.100/86.573
4/Leonardo Maia/Oakland, Calif./01:15.119/86.551
5/Colin Fleming/North Hills, Calif./01:15.571/86.033
6/German Quiroga/Mexico City, Mexico/01:15.623/85.974
7/Chris Baker/Houston, Texas/01:15.637/85.958
8/Antoine Bessette/St. Bruno, Quebec/01:15.769/85.808
9/Chris Green/Beaconsfield, Quebec/01:15.818/85.753
10/Atticus Missner/Chicago, Illinois/01:15.905/85.654
11/Nelson Philippe/Valence, France/01:15.907/85.652
12/Luis Pelayo/Mexico City, Mexico/01:16.020/85.525
13/Burt Frisselle/Kihei, Hawaii/01:16.171/85.355
14/Alexandre Sperafico/Toledo Parana', Brazil/01:16.190/85.334
15/Al Unser/Corrales, New Mexico/01:16.228/85.291
16/Memo Rojas/Mexico City, Mexico/01:16.354/85.151
17/Victor Gonzalez/Hatoray, Puerto Rico/01:16.384/85.117
18/Guy Cosmo/Bohemia, New York/01:16.431/85.065
19/Mike Richardson/Kelowna, B.C., Canada/01:16.485/85.005
20/Matt Franc/Plainfield, New Jersey/01:16.561/84.921
21/Craig Duerson/St. Petersburg, Florida/01:16.569/84.912
22/Robbie Montinola/Laguna Beach, Calif./01:17.218/84.198
23/Shinji "Racer"Kashima/Tokyo, Japan/01:17.426/83.972
24/Hima Maher/Calgary, Alberta/01:17.658/83.721
25/Roland Isra/New York, New York/01:17.782/83.587
26/Ron Atapattu/Boca Raton, Florida/01:18.018/83.335
27/Bud Risser/Clearwater, Florida/01:18.951/82.350

2/21/03

Ticket sales slow in Homestead  We checked with the Homestead track registration office today to see how ticket sales are going for next weekends IRL race.  As it turns out, not very well.  To date only 2,300 tickets have been sold.  The rest have been given out as giveaways or by the sponsors.  For example, if you visit a Toyota dealer you get a free ticket.  We hear a lot of tickets are being given away so hopefully the grandstands will look reasonably full.

2/21/03

CART rules update meeting A 2003 rules update briefing was held today with Vice President of Operations for Champ Car, John Lopes. Mr. Lopes,  Lee Dykstra, Director of Technology, John Anderson, Senior Manager of Technology, and Chris Kneifel,  Chief Steward. Transcript

2/21/03

CART lowers minimum age for ladder series Opening the door for talented young racers to get an earlier start on their professional racing careers, Champ Car officials announced today that drivers under the age of 18 will now be eligible to drive in both the Barber Dodge Pro Series and the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. The new arrangement allows 16- and 17-year-old drivers to compete in both driver development series, providing they fulfill experience and talent requirements in addition to completing the emancipation process. Emancipation is a legal process which allows those under the age of 18 to be considered adults and sign all legal documents for themselves. Drivers must be first emancipated in their state of residence and then have that decree enforced in the state of Indiana as a result of Champ Car being based in Indianapolis. From a racing perspective, this means the driver can sign his/her own Waiver of Liability, which is required to compete in any Champ Car sanctioned event. The new policy will be evident this weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as 16-year old driver Nelson Philippe of Valence, France will make his debut in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. He is a veteran of karting and formula car ranks in Europe. For Champ Car Ladder System officials, this is welcome news. "I think this announcement is extremely positive and very significant in that it deepens the pool of drivers our team owners have to choose from," said CART Toyota Atlantic Championship President Vicki O'Connor. "Our team owners are always trying to find the most talented and marketable drivers to build their programs around, and I'm looking forward to getting qualified younger drivers into our series. Likewise, Champ Car sponsors are interested in hiring talented young drivers that they can build long-term programs around." "As Champ Car focuses more and more on the development of young drivers, it is crucial that we eliminate any potential roadblocks for talented and capable drivers under the age of 18," commented Champ Car Driver Development Series Manager Robert Dole. "I think this process gives Champ Car Ladder System competitors a head start in their climb to the top ranks of racing, and more specifically, the Champ Car World Series." "Looking across the sporting landscape, the age of competitors is gravitating toward younger participants, and motorsports is no exception," said George Tamayo, Director of Marketing and Communications for Skip Barber. "We have seen a number of exceptionally talented drivers in recent years have to put their careers in a holding pattern just because of their age. Thanks to this rule change, that will no longer be the case."

2/21/03

News tidbits during the rainy moments at Rockingham  While work continues on finding an acceptable device to filter carbon monoxide from the air drivers breath inside the racecar, there are currently no teams doing an on-track testing for NASCAR. That according to the Director of the Winston Cup Series, John Darby. Darby also says that rumors Ford might get a change to the headlight area of their current nosepiece are just that, rumors. “Not going to happen,” said Darby when asked about the possibility. “They will have a new nose in 2004. We’ve known for some time 2004 marks a model change at Ford and they’re working on that right now.” NASCAR President Mike Helton answered questions from the media on Friday afternoon concerning the policy of calling a race complete once it reaches the halfway mark. Helton says the sanctioning body will not change that policy for a single event, but would consider a viable alternative that could be applied to the entire schedule. “Today’s schedule doesn’t allow the time needed to carry an event over until the next week,” said Helton. “You might remember in the past there was always a open weekend after the big races. We don’t have that anymore.” The half-way policy, according to Bill France, Jr. was put into effect formally in 1969 but was used all the way back in the 1950’s. “Bill, Jr. said that his father used the procedure much like baseball has a set number of innings that must be completed before a game is considered official,” said Mike Zizzo, NASCAR public relations. Stan Creekmore

2/21/03

PUMA signs on with Team Rahal PUMA has committed to a partnership in the USA with Team Rahal to provide fireproof racing footwear to the drivers and pit crews for competition in the Champ Car World Series, the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series and CART's Toyota Altantic Championship.  "We are pleased to join in this partnership with PUMA for the upcoming season," said three-time CART champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner, Bobby Rahal.  "PUMA has established a reputation as one of the leading footwear and athletic apparel companies in the world.  They are leaders in their industry who strive to excel at every venture.  These are the kind of like-minded partners that we seek here at Team Rahal."

2/21/03
F3000

Friday times from Imola

1 Patrick Friesacher - Red Bull - 1'35,345"
2 Björn Wirdheim - Arden - 1'36,048"
3 Vitantonio Liuzzi - Red Bull - 1'36,530"
4 Ricardo Sperafico - Coloni - 1'36,727"
5 Nicolas Minassian - Brand - 1'37,092"
6 Enrico Toccacelo - SuperNova - 1'37,242"
7 Townsend Bell - Arden - 1'37,349"
8 Gary Paffett - Brand - 1'37,403"
9 Tony Schmidt - Astromega - 1'37,478"
10 Raffaele Gianmaria - Durango - 1'37,503"
11 Nicolas Kiesa - Den Bla Avis - 1'37,517"
12 Jaime Melo Jnr - Durango - 1'37,787"
13 Jaroslav Janis - PSM-Charouz - 1'38,740"
14 Yannick Schroeder - PSM-Charouz - 1'39,138"
15 Marcel Costa - BCN - 1'40,372"
16 Angel Burgueno - BCN - 1'50,038"
17 Kevin Nadin - BCN - 2'10,166"

2/21/03

CART looking to limit chassis manufacturers  According to John Lopes, CART is trying to decide what the optimum number of chassis manufacturers should be in 2005.  History has shown that two can turn a profit, but three is too many for anyone to make enough revenue to survive.  He stated that one of the Champ Car manufacturers will get the Toyota Atlantic contract and this should help in the volume to offset the possible increased competition.  Lopes said CART is currently talking to five chassis manufacturers.

2/21/03

Ford has not asked CART to extend engines into 2005  According to CART's John Lopes, Ford has not officially asked CART to extend the current turbo engine through 2005. 

2/21/03

Aero update, more cost cutting in 2004  CART is looking to allow Lola and Reynard to update some of their aero pieces, including possibly the underbody, in 2004.  However, CART is also looking to possibly implement other measures to cut team costs further.

2/21/03

Driver weight now factored in  CART has finally implemented the rule that a drivers weight is factored into the overall weight of the car.  In this way, a heavier driver is not unfairly penalized.

2/21/03

Sarah Fisher, IRL's most popular driver, to miss opener  Dreyer & Reinbold Racing today announced that a second team entry for the IndyCar Series opener at Homestead-Miami would not be submitted to the Indy Racing League offices. Dreyer & Reinbold has been working feverently to complete the requisite sponsorship program that would have allowed IndyCar series standout Sarah Fisher to pilot the team’s #23 Chevrolet Dallara at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 2. “We have spent considerable sums testing and preparing the #23 Dreyer & Reinbold team for the 2003 IndyCar Championship independent of any outside support, but we are not at a point where we are able to complete the necessary sponsor partnership program to currently make it a reality,” said Dreyer & Reinbold Racing co-owner Dennis Reinbold. “We are naturally disappointed to reach this conclusion, but we are committed to a first class effort, deserving of Sarah and the on-track competitiveness she demonstrated last year. We only want to enter an effort that has the proper support for Sarah and the crew of the #23 team.”

2/21/03

Daytona costly to eight crew chiefs  NASCAR officials announced fines were levied against eight crew chiefs for infractions that were discovered during Speedweeks. Those fined include:
 Peter Sospenzo, crew chief for the No. 25 car of Joe Nemechek, was fined $2,000 for two rear coil spring mounts that did not meet NASCAR specifications.
 Dennis Connor, crew chief for the No. 0 car of Jack Sprague, was fined $1,000 for external probe heaters that did not conform to NASCAR rules.
 James Ince, crew chief for the No. 10 car of Johnny Benson, was fined $500 for underpans that did not meet NASCAR specifications.
 Chris Carrier, crew chief for the No. 4 car of Mike Skinner, Mike Beam, crew chief for the No. 30 car of Jeff Green, and Anthony Gibson, crew chief for the No. 1 car of Steve Park, were each fined $500 for fuel filters that did not conform to NASCAR rules.
 Raymond Fox, crew chief for the No. 38 car of Elliott Sadler, was fined $250 for adjustable fender braces that did not meet NASCAR specifications.  John Darby labeled the infractions as the “typical nickel and dime stuff you expect at Daytona.”  In addition, Billy Wilburn, crew chief for the No. 2 Ford, was fined $10,000 for an illegal carburetor used during the second Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying race. Stan Creekmore

2/21/03

Mini Al has his sights set on Champ Cars  According to this Tampa Bay Tribune article, according to his ambitious plan, Alfred Unser is to spend one year in Barber Dodge, one year in Toyota Atlantic [CART's Triple-A division] and drive a CART Champ Car in 2005. Al Unser Jr. and Sr. are each two-time CART champions, although Al Jr. now drives in the rival Indy Racing League. ``It's been proved that an Indy- car driver can go to NASCAR for example and do well, but a NASCAR driver can't come back into road racing and be competitive,'' he said. ``So I want to gain experience as a road racer, fine-tune my skills and then, if that's how things turn out, I can go to the IRL or NASCAR.'' Alfred lists his racing hero as Mario Andretti. Nevertheless, he is part of a family that has produced three generations of multiple Indianapolis 500 winners.

2/21/03

Ralf tops Friday times in Barcelona 

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tyres Time Laps
1 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m17.959s 81
2 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW M 1m18.291s 80
3 Ralph Firman Jordan-Ford B 1m18.396s 59
4 Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar M 1m19.398s 68

2/21/03

Fox Sports en Español to broadcast all CART races  Champ Car racing has made vast inroads among the North American Hispanic population in recent years, sparking interest in the series to an all-time high - a fact that was evident during the 2002 season finale in Mexico City, as an all-time Champ Car event attendance record 351,972 fans came through the gates at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. This season, the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will extend its reach even deeper into the Hispanic population of the United States as cable network Fox Sports en Español will carry the entire season of Champ Car races live starting February 23 at 1PM ET. Firmly entrenched in many of the nation's major television markets including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Denver, Chicago and San Francisco, Fox Sports en Español reaches over five million households, with over 40 percent of those being exclusively Hispanic. "We value our Hispanic partners and fans very highly as is evident through our work with the Latino Marketing Initiative," said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. "The passion that the Hispanic fans have for our series is shown not only at our Mexican races, but also at our U.S. stops where the local fans come out in great numbers. We are pleased to be able to help them follow the Champ Car World Series with the signing of this deal." Hispanic fans will have a large contingent of drivers to root for in the Champ Car World Series this season with veteran Adrian Fernandez leading a group that includes Michel Jourdain Jr., Oriol Servia, Mario Dominguez, Tiago Monteiro and Rodolfo Lavin. "The surging interest of expanding the visibility of sports such as the Champ Car World Series to U.S. Hispanics is a clear indication that targeted broadcast platforms are needed to reach this significant U.S. consumer," said David Sternberg, General Manager of Fox Sports en Español. "We have the right vehicle to help them do just that." Fox Sports en Español is available through affiliated cable systems and through DIRECTV and Dish Network satellite providers. Fox Sports en Español is distributed by Fox Cable Networks Group and operated by Fox Pan American Sports LLC, an international sports programming and production entity jointly owned by Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, Fox Sports International [owned by Fox Entertainment Group (NYSE: FOX) and News Corporation (NYSE: NWS)], and Liberty Media Corporation.

2/21/03

Fire sidelines Gonzalez  Roberto Gonzalez's car caught fire in the first practice session at St. Pete this morning and he is not on the track for the 2nd session, which has just started.  They are working on getting the car fixed.  He does have Lotto Speed as a sponsor, which is what we had previously rumored.  We have updated our 2003 CART Teams Page  Mark C.

2/21/03

Fain promoted at Martinsville  Sarah Fain has been promoted to chief operating officer of Martinsville Speedway and Tracie Powell has been promoted to ticket office manager for the speedway. Fain, who has been the speedway's ticket manager, "will be taking a more active role in the day-to-day operation of the business with oversight of all departments and functions," said track President Clay Campbell. Fain, the granddaughter of Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles, has worked in the ticket office for 25 years. She trained under her mother, Dorothy Earles Campbell, and her aunt, Mary Earles Weatherford, both who still work in the ticket office.

2/21/03

F1 USA TV  A lot of people have contacted us about F1 TV in the USA in 2003.  As with the past two years, the deal probably won't get signed until the last day, but we expect SPEED Channel to broadcast most of the races and ABC a few like they did last year.

2/21/03

Scientific Atlanta signs on with PK Racing  - Scientific Atlanta has signed on as a primary sponsor for PK Racing.  They are a leading supplier of broadband equipment & services to the cable industry & home subscribers, satellite network design and systems integration.  They are headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia and hold 319 patents.  Mark C.

2/21/03
F3

Piquet to British F3  - "Nelsinho" Piquet, son of three-time F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet, officially announced this Thursday his already well-known plans for the 2003 season. Nelsinho will campaign a Dallara F303 powered by Mugen for his father-owned Piquet Sports team at the prestigious British F3 championship. Season is scheduled to kick off April 5th. With backing from Autotrac (security systems), TAM Airlines, Oi (cell phone provider) and UniOil lubricants, Nelsinho expects a season of "apprenticeship", but is quick to note that "many drivers, including my father, jumped from F3 straight to F1". The young Piquet embarked to England today, and will make his first test session at Snetterton, next month. In 2002, amidst accusations of illegal extra tests from his rivals, Nelsinho broke all records in the South American F3 championship, winning the title with four races to go before the season's end. Cássio Côrtes

2/21/03

CART scanner frequencies  - The scanner frequency link on our CART page has been updated with a partial list of 2003 scanner frequencies.  We will complete the table as we get the frequencies.  Mark C.

2/21/03

City of Canoas, Brazil to become the mecca of Fittipaldi fans  - PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil - A three-hour visit was enough to convince racing legend Emerson Fittipaldi to choose the Museum of the Automobile in Canoas, Brazil, to host the first public display of his career's most important cars, photos and trophies. The Museum belongs to the Lutheran University of Brazil - ULBRA, one of the countries' largest universities, and is considered Latin America's premier auto museum. It currently displays over 256 historic vehicles from all over the world. General Motors of Brazil recently transferred its own factory museum from Sao Paulo to the Canoas facility. A '78 Copersucar F1 car (from Fittipaldi's ill-fated owner/driver period at the pinnacle of motorsport) and the 1989 Indy 500 pace car Pontiac Trans Am (the year of Emmo's 1st Indy victory), plus 156 trophies and many photographs have already arrived. All items were previously stored in Emerson's Araraquara, Sao Paulo farm and were not available for public viewing. Soon to follow are Frank Williams's 1st F1 car, originally steered in the '70s by Brazilian Jose Carlos Pace (winner of the '75 Brazilian GP and a personal friend of Fittipaldi, killed in a plane crash in '77) and two of Emmo's Penske Champ Cars, currently stored in the United States. ULBRA's museum already displayed the first race car Emerson ever rode on, a Ford "Carretera" from the '50s that belonged to racer José Asmuz. Young Emerson, at age 11, was taken by his father Wilson (affectionately known as "The Baron"), then Brazil's most famous racing radio broadcaster, to watch the "carreteras" practice at Interlagos. The Baron eventually talked Asmuz into giving his son a joyride, and the young Fittipaldi ran shotgun a few hotlaps at Interlagos' historic, now-inactive 7km-circuit. Small detail: Emerson was sitting on the gas tank throughout the whole ride, for there wasn't any other possible place to tuck himself inside the old Ford. The Emerson Fittipaldi Wing will occupy the whole 4th floor at ULBRA's Museum of the Automobile, and is expected to be open for visitors in the next few months. ULBRA is located only 10 miles away from Porto Alegre's Int'l Airport. Porto Alegre, home to the globally famed World Social Forum, is Brazil's southernmost capital, a 90-minute flight away from Sao Paulo. By the way, entrance to the world-class Museum of the Automobile since Jan 15 2003, the museum is charging a symbolic R$ 5.00 (USD 2.00) ticket.  Cássio Côrtes


The SL Benz belonged to Ayrton Senna, it was given to him by MB for his '93 Brazilian GP victory

2/21/03

CART/Octagon playing the London theme  - In this article we published by Gary Parravani, we suggested that CART play the big city London theme and they are.  Advertising has started in the UK and they are calling the race the London Champ Car Trophy.  Brands Hatch is located very near London, the biggest city in the UK (and one of the biggest in the world). Brands (as it’s affectionately known) resides just outside the south east quadrant of the M25 motorway. For those of you that don’t know, the M25 is a huge circular freeway that surrounds London and approximately 16 million people. In logical terms if you want a huge crowd at a race it makes sense to race where there is a large population!  Chris Pook is adamant that CART race as close as possible to big cities.  We never heard of any race at Brands previously tied directly to London, but it makes perfect sense.  Mark C.

2/21/03

Latest F1 hot news items 

Leading Teams Take FIA To Arbitration
FIA Vows To Fight Arbitration
Webber Tops Rain-Soaked Tests
Wilson Gets Taste For New Minardi
Schu Turning Down The Volume
Mosley Stands Firm On Reform
Minardi Deserves Less Help: Dennis
Ferrari Painted Black For '04?
FIA Reveals Limited Job-List
Jenson Button Refuses To Strike Back
Ralf Plans Switch To Toyota
Schu: Not Motivated By Records
F1 Staff Re-Trained As Teachers
Davidson Tests Ferrari Racer
Australia Could Lose Grand Prix
Montoya Vows To Raise His Game
Rubens Treated For Back Pain
Rivals Slam Williams And McLaren
Fragile BAR Has Villeneuve Worried
Da Matta: Unhurt But Annoyed 

2/21/03

Da Matta in testing shunt  Cristiano da Matta's day ended early yesterday when the extremely wet track conditions in the late morning and a technical problem, which still has to be determined, caused his TF103 to aquaplane into a wall, resulting in some damage to the car. Thankfully the Brazilian was uninjured in the shunt. "We have had a lot of rain here in Barcelona and the track was extremely wet this morning, so the session was delayed for a long time,” Cristiano explained. “We went out for an installation lap and I felt something wrong with the car. I was trying to get the TF103 under control but it wasn't possible with the wet track and I hit the wall. I am fine, just frustrated because I was really hoping to get some good running in today."
Thursday Times

Driver|Team|T|Laps|Time|Gap
Webber|Jaguar|M|64|1:27.463|120.970 mph
Button|BAR|B|76|1:27.522|0.059
Fisichella|Jordan|B|75|1:28.706|1.243
Villeneuve|BAR|B|21|1:29.328|1.865
Alonso|Renault|M|35|1:29.637|2.174
Pizzonia|Jaguar|M|46|1:29.998|2.535
Montoya|WilliamsF1|M|33|1:30.743|3.280
R Schumacher|WilliamsF1|M|29|1:31.444|3.981
Panis|Toyota|M|26|1:31.676|4.213
McNish|Renault|M|4|1:43.590|16.127
Firman|Jordan|B|10|No Time|-
da Matta|Toyota|M|52|No Time|-
Best times to Date
Date|Driver|Team|T|Time|Gap
23 Jan|M Schumacher|Ferrari|B|1:15.020|141.034 mph
14 Jan|Coulthard|McLaren|M|1:15.266|0.246
5 Feb|Barrichello|Ferrari|B|1:15.408|0.388
18 Feb|Panis|Toyota|M|1:15.497|0.477
15 Jan|Wurz|McLaren|M|1:15.511|0.491
18 Feb|Alonso|Renault|M|1:15.950|0.930
16 Jan|Raikkonen|McLaren|M|1:16.007|0.987
16 Jan|Montoya|WilliamsF1|M|1:16.151|1.131
5 Feb|Frentzen|Sauber|B|1:16.336|1.316
23 Jan|Badoer|Ferrari|B|1:16.431|1.411
14 Jan|Gene|WilliamsF1|M|1:16.568|1.548
14 Jan|Heidfeld|Sauber|B|1:16.688|1.668
16 Jan|da Matta|Toyota|M|1:17.008|1.988
18 Feb|Fisichella|Jordan|B|1:17.059|2.039
14 Feb|Trulli|Renault|M|1:17.560|2.540
16 Jan|Davidson|BAR|B|1:17.628|2.608
18 Feb|R Schumacher|WilliamsF1|M|1:17.722|2.702
17 Jan|Sato|BAR|B|1:17.749|2.729
3 Feb|Button|BAR|B|1:17.826|2.806
2 Feb|Villeneuve|BAR|B|1:18.043|3.023
4 Feb|Pizzonia|Jaguar|M|1:18.063|3.043
4 Feb|McNish|Renault|M|1:18.445|3.425

2/21/03

Richard horrified by Dennis and Williams letter  BAR Team Principal David Richards has condemned the actions of Frank Williams and Ron Dennis who notified the FIA yesterday that they would be taking them to court over the rule changes being introduced by the sport’s governing body. Dave Richards believes that this kind of action is inappropriate in the current state of instability that the sport finds itself in. The Briton believes everybody should be pulling together to make the new regulations work instead of starting what has been dubbed a ‘civil war’ within the sport. Richards was quoted as saying by the Guardian: "I am horrified and absolutely astounded. This is the last thing the sport needs at the moment. We should all be pulling together to make it a success."

2/21/03

Mosley tries to isolate Dennis and Williams This Planet F1 article says, Max Mosley is already trying to isolate Williams and McLaren by claiming that it is just two teams that object to his changes Interviewed on Channel 4's evening news program on Thursday, Mosley had clearly decided that his best plan was to make light of the challenge. He claimed that it was only two teams who didn't like his changes. He also gave the impression that Ferrari supported all the regulation changes brought in since Suzuka. "Ferrari, who won the championship last year and have the most to lose, accepted the changes with very good grace," claimed Max. "It's just two teams who don't like what we've done."

2/21/03

Readers take on Dennis/Williams letter  In the press release by the Williams and McLaren teams they say they are "deeply concerned" that FIA President Max Mosley is seeking to introduce changes that will undermine the fundamental values of F1 as the pinnacle of motorsport and a technological showcase. In my opinion, this "dumbing" down of F1 is what is needed if they want to put butts in the seats at INDY, or anywhere else they plan to race in the USA, period. What's wrong with creating an even playing field? It's worked in almost every other sport, so why not F1? Times are now different and the sooner these "money" teams realize it the better. If F1 would have seen the forest through the trees a few years ago maybe we'd still have teams such as Arrows and Prost in the mix. Take the Jordan team for example. They've had to except an engine deal with Ford that will most likely put them in a worse position in the points hunt than they were last year. My guess is that Jaguar will get the better end of that deal. Same goes for Sauber. Year old Ferrari engines? Give me a break! Maybe if the rest of the F1 teams ran a year-old Ferrari, we'd actually see some cool racing. I went to the Inaugural USGP at INDY in 2000 and was blown away by the qualifying, but frankly disappointed in the race and have been lackluster in my support for F1 since. If the current manufacturers want to whine and moan, then they can go somewhere else to play follow the leader (Ferrari). Other manufactures will step up and play their cards in F1 to take their place anyway. I don't know who they may be, but Honda, Toyota, Ford/Jaguar, Nissan/Infinity and Volkswagen/Audi come to mind. The market they are making cars for (maybe with the exception of Ford) are generally upper class folk who can afford those marquees anyway. On the other hand, however, I can't remember a time I've walked into a Honda or Toyota dealership and were exposed to their onslaught of racing point-of-purchase displays and publicity for the racing they throw millions of dollars into. I don't think, however, the "race on Sunday, sell on Monday" mentality applies to F1. Just some thoughts. Paul Richards, Des Moines, Iowa

2/20/03

Trueman Scholarship Award for karting winner  - The late Jim Trueman was a big believer in helping young North American drivers who were attempting to climb the auto racing ladder. Trueman, the founder of the CART championship and Indy 500-winning Truesports racing teams, was renowned throughout the motorsports community in assisting young drivers for decades including the likes of Bobby Rahal, Willy T. Ribbs, Ed Pimm, Steve Millen and many others. Trueman, a Can-Am champion driver himself, lost his battle with cancer in 1986 but his family continued his legacy by assisting drivers in the CART system. Barbara Trueman, Jim’s widow, announced today that the Trueman Family has continued Jim’s commitment to support young, upcoming North American drivers with the establishment of the new “Jim Trueman Scholarship Award” to the Champ Car Snapon.com “Stars of Tomorrow” karting series.  The “Jim Trueman Scholarship Award” will be a $25,000 “final dollar” cash payment to the top driver annually from Stars of Tomorrow who moves to the Barber Dodge Series or Toyota Atlantic Championship. The recipient will come from either the ICC or ICA category and will be chosen from the season-long Stars participants. “Our family is very pleased to continue Jim’s commitment in assisting young drivers,” said Ms. Trueman. “Jim helped many up and coming drivers just like Bobby Rahal in developing their talents to reach their ultimate racing goals. This new scholarship award in Jim’s name will give some of our finest American karting drivers a chance to continue their racing dream to the next level.” Ms. Trueman also said the new award is a multi-year commitment from her family to the Stars of Tomorrow program. Rahal, the driver who Trueman put into Champ Car racing in 1982, believes this new award is a tremendous catalyst to give young drivers a chance to get to the next racing level.

2/20/03

Question on 2005 engines  - A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I have read where you propose that CART adopt identical engine rules to F1 in 2005 or 2006 and beyond.  If Bernie Ecclestone nixes that idea, what do you expect CART's 2005 V-10 engine specs to be?  David Butler, Rockville, MD.  Dear David, If CART does not adopt identical engine rules to F1, where cost savings will be introduced by making engines last more than one race weekend, look for them to essentially have a V-10 version of the IRL V-8 engine.  It will be 3.5 liters with fixed RPM limit (around 13,000 to 14,000), fixed bore and stroke, a standard CART issued ECM, the banning of exotic materials and technology such as pneumatic valves, etc.  A very much controlled formula like NASCAR and the IRL.  Although the displacement will be the same, the CART engine will be able to run at higher RPM because it will have a shorter stroke and two additional cylinders, meaning the reciprocating mass of each piston and crank rod will be less.  Heavier pistons self destruct at lower RPM than lightweight pistons.  Over the years, lightweight pistons made from exotic metals and a very short piston stroke have been one of the secrets to race engines turning very high RPM and lasting a full race distance.  For a given engine displacement, High RPM results in more HP but comes at the expense of increased cost and shorter engine life. Another cost-saving approach would be for CART to blueprint an engine design, hand it to any manufacturer and tell them to build the engine exactly to that spec and if they do, they would have the right to put their name on the engine. Randomly throughout the year CART could breakdown down an engine and measure the internal dimensions.  If one fails, the penalty would be immediate disqualification.  If everyone builds an engine to a CART blueprint, all would be within 10 to 20 HP and the racing on the track will be close   Mark C. 

2/20/03
F3000

Townsend Bell fares well in first F3000 test  UPDATE As it turns out, the times we listed below are from the morning session.  Bell faired even better in the after noon.  Full Story  2/20/03 -

Imola F3000 test, day 1 (Morning only)
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1 Bjorn Wirdheim Arden 1m36.020s 69
2 Patrick Friesacher Red Bull 1m36.467s 41
3 Ricardo Sperafico Coloni 1m36.742s 55
4 Enrico Toccacelo Super Nova 1m37.007s 68
5 Vitantonio Liuzzi Red Bull 1m37.145s 39
6 Jaime Melo Durango 1m37.609s 68
7 Townsend Bell Arden 1m37.764s 62
8 Nicolas Kiesa Den Bla Avis 1m37.976s 39
9 Raffaele Gianmaria Durango 1m38.411s 39
10 Jaroslav Janis PSM-ISR Charouz 1m38.413s 38
11 Yannick Schroeder PSM-ISR Charouz 1m38.444s 62
12 Rodrigo Sperafico BCN 1m38.528s 55
13 Nicolas Minassian Brand 1m38.599s 17
14 Tony Schmidt Astromega 1m38.841s 60
15 Gary Paffett Brand 1m42.864s 10

2/20/03

MSD named official ignition system of Trans-Am  MSD Ignition has been named the ³Official Ignition System² of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup. As part of the agreement, MSD will supply the spec ignition systems required by this year¹s Trans-Am Series rules.  MSD had been a Series contingency and award sponsor in previous years, but in 2003 it has stepped up its involvement with America¹s longest continuously running road racing series.  ³MSD has been involved with the Trans-Am Series for a long time,² said MSD National Sales Manager Russell Stephens. ³It¹s a great racing program. We¹re happy to be the official ignition system and to provide the ignition to all of the cars out there. MSD is the ignition of choice for motorsports.   ³When people see the MSD on the race car they want to buy it for their street car,² added Stephens. ³People that have performance and muscle cars make up our biggest market. Those are the people that pay attention to motorsports. That¹s why being involved in the Trans-Am Series is so important.²  This year MSD will provide spec, sealed ignition systems, which include all necessary ignition parts such as coils and rev limiters to competitors. The ignition systems will be distributed during pre-race inspection by a blind draw.

2/20/03
Announcement

Announcement  It has come to our attention that a number of you are missing Hot News items because they scroll off to archives so fast.  We bring you a lot of news, so it does scroll off sometimes within 24 hours or less.  At the bottom of both the Hot News and Rumors pages are pulldown menus to take you to archived material.  If you have not been logged on for 24 or more hours, you might want to look at archives.  Mark C.

2/20/03

More Miami IRL doings  Many IRL IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series stars will help kick off Toyota Indy 300 race weekend during the inaugural Toyota IndyFest presented by Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 27 in South Miami, Fla. The street festival, free to the public, will take place from 4-11 p.m. (EST) at the Shops of Sunset Place on 5701 Sunset Drive in South Miami. Among the features at the Toyota IndyFest will be driver autograph sessions, IndyCar Series race cars on display, the third annual SunTrust Media Challenge, interactive racing displays, live entertainment, food and beverages and more. All of the activity will serve as a gateway to the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 on March 2 at Homestead-Miami. Practice for the IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series starts Feb. 28 at the 1.5-mile oval. “We invite all of South Florida to experience the excitement of the IndyCar Series at the inaugural Toyota IndyFest at the Shops of Sunset Place in the city of South Miami,” said Curtis Gray, Homestead-Miami Speedway president. “This free-to-the-public street festival for all ages will be the ideal place to get fired up for the big race weekend.”

2/20/03

Hot Laps  IndyCar Series drivers Eddie Cheever Jr. and George Mack will appear at the Indianapolis Metro District’s 2003 MDA Muscle Team Gala on Feb. 22 at the Westin Hotel in Indianapolis, a fund-raising dinner and auction that benefits those suffering from muscular dystrophy … 1999 Indianapolis 500 BankOne Rookie of the Year Robby McGehee will sign autographs from 1-4 p.m. (CST) Feb. 22 at the All Sport Show at The Center in Springfield, Ill.

2/20/03

Portland Town Meeting a big hit already  - The fans of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford are taking full advantage of the chance to meet some of the major forces behind the Champ Car World Series, responding to the point where organizers of the Town Meeting in Portland next week have had to move to a larger venue. Overwhelming response to the February 26 meeting in the Oregon city forced a change Thursday, causing the first Town Meeting of 2003 to be moved from the Doubletree Columbia River down one block to the Grand Ballroom of the Doubletree Hotel at Jantzen Beach, 909 N. Hayden Island Drive. The Portland Town Meeting will be the first of the year and follows on the heels a successful debut last year, when over 1,500 fans attended the program in Columbus, Ohio to ask questions of the some of the principal members of the series.  Fans can still visit www.champcarworldseries.com to register for their free tickets to Wednesday's panel discussion, which will feature Champ Car President and CEO Christopher R. Pook, 1996 CART Champion Jimmy Vasser and SPEED Channel race analyst Scott Pruett. Doors open for the event as 6:30 p.m. Fans with any questions should call Global Events Group at 503-232-2336.

2/20/03

CART makes front page of NY Times.com  - on front page of today's Nytimes.com, an AP link to a story about Tagliani and CART.  http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/sports/AP-CAR-CART-St-Petersburg-GP.html They usually only link to F1 stories on their front page.

2/20/03

Weekly IRL teleconference  We are joined today by three guests from the IRL Infiniti Pro Series. First, we have four-time Indianapolis 500 champion and recently named Infiniti Pro Series driver coach and consultant, Rick Mears. We are also joined by two drivers who have to be considered front-runners for the 2003 Infiniti Pro Series title: Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Ed Carpenter.  Transcript

2/20/03

Patrick Racing adds Infineon as sponsor  - U. E. “Pat” Patrick announced today that Infineon Technologies will be a major associate sponsor of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, driven by Oriol Servia. “We are please to be able to announce that Infineon Technologies North America Corp. has committed to partner with the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team for the 2003 Champ Car World Series season,” Patrick said. “Infineon is an outstanding company that has a deep and successful involvement in global motorsports and therefore, is a perfect fit for our team. We look forward to contending for the 2003 championship on behalf of Infineon and all of our sponsors,” Patrick concluded.  Infineon Technologies AG, headquartered in Munich, Germany, offers semiconductor and system solutions for the automotive and industrial sectors, for applications in the wired communications markets, secure mobile solutions as well as memory products. The company achieved total sales in fiscal year 2002 of Euro 5.21 billion. It is now the world’s second largest supplier of chips used in automotive systems, including key components for anti-lock brakes and air-bag controllers, intelligent engine control, GPS location and advanced telematics systems that enhance safety and provide new in-car entertainment options. Further information is available at http://www.infineon.com

2/20/03

What teams can do to F1 cars between qualifying and race 

After qualifying
Tire pressure checks
Removal of bodywork and the fitting of cooling devices
Connection of jump battery
Download of data by physical connection to car
Fitting of water heaters
Fitting of slave tires
Carrying out work required by the FIA
Before the race
Repair crash damage
Some liquids and gases may be drained and replenished - not fuel
Race tires can be removed but not changed
Main battery may be changed
Cleaning of bodywork
Tires and brake ducts changed for a fluctuation in weather conditions

2/20/03

Tracy's Chief Engineer quits suddenly  This Toronto Star article says, Paul Tracy has hit a sizable bump in the road just days before his debut this weekend with Player's/Forsythe Racing. Tracy's chief engineer, Kelly Loewen of Lethbridge, Alta., resigned unexpectedly last weekend, leaving the team scrambling to fill the void for Sunday's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the opening event of the 2003 CART Champ Car World Series season. "It's a little disheartening," admitted Tracy, who joined Player's/Forsythe after five seasons with Team Green. "We lost (technical director) Bruce Ashmore in the off-season and now Kelly. It's created a fairly big void. "It's a good thing we'll have (four weeks) off before the second race (March 23) in Monterrey, Mexico." Player's/Forsythe's vice-president of operations, Neil Micklewright, said he was surprised by Loewen's sudden departure. "I left the office Friday afternoon to go to Michigan (from Indianapolis) and Kelly called me on my cell phone to say he was resigning," Micklewright said. "All he said was that he felt he could not do all he wanted here. "I was blissfully unaware that he had any concern of the magnitude that would cause him to suddenly bail." Loewen, who was Alex Tagliani's engineer last season, has joined Eddie Cheever Jr.'s Red Bull Cheever Racing in the Indy Racing League.

2/20/03

Kansas pushing for 2nd Cup date  Kansas Speedway joined by government and civic groups on both sides of the state line, is pushing hard for a second Cup date when NASCAR reshuffles its schedule for 2004. But if a second date doesn't materialize, track president Jeff Boerger said, the 2-year-old speedway will expand again after this season. Kansas Speedway added 1,500 seats in the offseason after its second straight sellout year, bringing its capacity to 78,000, and has already sold out its 2003 season-ticket package. "We could go, if the market would let us, to 150,000. We have the infrastructure in place for that," Boerger said Monday. Last week, he and other officials presented the track's case to its parent company, Daytona, Fla.-based International Speedway Corp. ISC is owned by the family of NASCAR owner Bill France. NASCAR's realignment could include moving races between tracks but likely won't involve additional dates. That means one of the circuit's older tracks - perhaps Darlington Raceway or North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, both of which now have two races a year - could lose their Cup dates. But Kansas City isn't the only ISC track looking for a second date, and SMI's Texas Motor Speedway has long argued that NASCAR has never given a second date as promised when the $250 million track opened in 1997. "Within ISC, I would say our competition is probably going to be between Phoenix, California and Chicago," Boerger said. "And you know, Darlington is not just going to give us a second date. They're going to give us a challenge." ThatsRacin.com/AP

2/20/03

No Cup race for Kentucky  If Kentucky Speedway is on the verge of landing a NASCAR Winston Cup race, the indications were well hidden in Daytona last week. While acknowledging that "you never know what is going to happen," NASCAR Vice-President Jim Hunter described Kentucky's chances of landing a Cup date as "slim and none." NASCAR's much-discussed plans to revise the 2004 Cup schedule is not aimed at moving races to new tracks, Hunter said. Instead, it is designed to allow the companies that own tracks that already have Cup dates to move races to other facilities they own if that makes business sense. Anyway, the best chance for Kentucky Speedway to get into the big leagues of NASCAR may not be an actual points race, but an exhibition event such as The Winston, Hunter says. Speculation has been that Kentucky Speedway's best chance to get a Cup date would be either buying or renting one of the two dates controlled by New Hampshire International Speedway. Bob Bahre, owner/chairman of the track, said Kentucky Speedway honcho Jerry Carroll visited with him in recent months inquiring about availability of a race date. And he said Carroll called after NASCAR announced that its '04 Cup schedule would be revised. However, Bahre says he told Carroll that he will not sell or rent one of his Cup dates. Asked if there were any price that could get him to sell or rent a Winston Cup date to Kentucky Speedway, Bahre said, "No, none." Herald Leader

2/20/03

Dominguez meets the press in Monterrey  [Translated by Ed McFarlane] The Press Conference presented by the Organizing Committee of the Telcate Telmex Grand Prix, at which were present Arturo Mendez, Director General of the Monterrey Grand Prix; Mario Doninguez, CART Rookie of the Year, Fernando Elizondo Barragan, State Governor of Nueva Leon; Felipe de Jesus Cantu, Mayor of Monterrey; Joe Heitzler, President and CEO of Grand, has set out the expectations and interest that everyone in Monterrey has for this unique and spectacular event. The Mayor of Monterrey City, Felipe de Jesus Cantu opened the Conference brimming with enthusiasm for the imminent arrival of the Champ Car Series in his city, but not before wishing the best of luck to Mario Dominguez, and the Mexican contingent in general. He was adamant that the organization of a race of this magnitude would not be possible without the enthusiasm and backing of the people of the city. On another point, the Mexican driver Mario Dominguez spoke about the importance of racing in his homeland together with four of his countrymen. "For me it means a great deal to be able to compete in my country. I always look forward anxiously to this race, as well as the Mexico City race because for me they are the most important of the year" On the Mexican contingent of five, Mario said "It's great (that 5 Mexicans are racing), it shows that we are working hard on the national auto racing scene to go out, win and show what we Mexicans are made of" It gives us the opportunity to fight for the Nations Cup and what would be better than a strong start in St. Petersburg to arrive fired up at Monterrey to give something back to the people who support our race year in and year out. Concerning his preparation for the Grand Prix of Monterrey, Dominguez said: "The three days at Sebring helped me a lot" referring to the recent Spring Training " We had the chance to go up to the car and try a lot of things. In addition we could see that the season will be a great tussle as all the drivers were running right on the pace". On his part, Mr. Elizondo, The Governor of Neuvo Leon emphasized the promise of his government to the citizens of the State to make this event the most spectacular and transcendent in the region. He emphasized the importance of the people of Monterrey showing the world something of their culture and ability to put on great events. He gave assurances that he will continue to give all the support necessary to the organizers and said that all the committees that he set up to assist the events organized around the race are working full steam ahead to make this a great event. In relation to the modifications and improvements to the circuit. "The grandstands are 90% finished, and will be completed on 7th March. In respect of the walls, they are 100% finished except for the entrances to the park, which can't be closed until the week of the race. Ticket sales to date are at 18,882 for Friday, 18,882 for Saturday and 18, 882 for Sunday for a total of 56, 646.

2/20/03

Drivers not required to wear HANS!  With many F1 drivers crying about wearing the HANS Device, Max Mosley has come out and said they don't have to wear.  They won't be allowed onto the track in Australia without it on, but they don't have to wear it.  That should settle the matter - the drivers now have a choice!

2/20/03

Latest F1 hot news items 

Boss Admits Williams FW25 Concern
Webber Worried About Former Team
FIA To Scrap $48m New-Team Bond
BAR Chase Champions Ferrari
Wilson Unfazed By Minardi Plight
'F1 Squad' On Duty In Melbourne
Imola: Michael And Michael Set Pace
Mosley Offers Deal To Big-Guns
Heavy Rain At Circuit De Catalunya
Jos Pleased After Minardi Debut
Rain Keeps Trulli Holed Up
Webber Backs Slick Tire Return
Sunday Warm-Up Bites The Dust
Sauber Ready To Roll In Melbourne
Verstappen Happy With HANS

2/19/03

New Minardi breaks cover  PThe Minardi Formula One team’s 2003 challenger, the PS03, ran successfully for the first time today during a private test session at Ferrari’s Fiorano facility. The new car, powered by Cosworth Racing’s CR-3 V10 engine, is a carefully considered technical evolution of last year’s already effective chassis, and features an improved aerodynamic package and better weight distribution than its predecessor. The performance potential of the PS03 is also notably enhanced, courtesy of the reduced weight, higher maximum engine speed and increased power output of the Cosworth engine compared with last year’s power unit. The gearbox is a further development of the innovative, titanium-cased, six-speed transmission that Minardi has used to great effect over the past two years. Drivers Justin Wilson and Jos Verstappen were both present at Fiorano for the “roll-out” of the PS03, with the experienced Dutch driver the first to sample the performance of the car the team will race at the Australian Grand Prix, in just over two weeks’ time. The latest Minardi did not disappoint, and after some software issues were addressed during the morning, Verstappen completed a total of 24 trouble-free laps of the famous Italian test track in sunny, but cool conditions, pronouncing himself well pleased with the feel of the PS03 at the conclusion of the afternoon session. The test will continue tomorrow, with Wilson scheduled to have his first outing in the new car.

2/19/03

Schumacher breaks lap record at Imola 

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tyres Time Laps
1 Michael Schumacher Ferrari B 1m20.441s 52 (2003 car)
2 Michael Schumacher Ferrari B 1m21.532s 42
3 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1m21.541s 68
4 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas B 1m21.749s 82 (2003 car)
5 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Petronas B 1m22.117s 74 (2003 car)

2/19/03

Ralf and Juan fastest in rain at Barcelona 

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m31.569s 54
2 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW M 1m31.931s 42
3 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan-Ford B 1m32.485s 25
4 Fernando Alonso Renault M 1m32.693s 23
5 Ralph Firman Jordan-Ford B 1m32.716s 52
6 Mark Webber Jaguar M 1m33.062s 48
7 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m34.017s 39
8 Jenson Button BAR-Honda B 1m34.148s 31
9 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m34.189s 34
10 Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar M 1m35.029s 46
11 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m38.810s 52
12 Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Honda B 1m39.766s 27
13 Allan McNish Renault M 1m54.056s 13
14 Jarno Trulli Renault M no time 1

2/19/03

BMW perplexed with lack of speed  BMW.WilliamsF1 have admitted they are extremely worried by the lack of pace that their new Williams FW25 car has shown in pre-season testing to date. Despite extensive mileage at the Spanish circuits of Valencia and the Circuit de Cataluyna, Mario Theissen, Director of BMW Motorsport, is extremely critical of the speed shown by the new package. "Some things are occurring that we are not able to understand right away," Theissen told a German newspaper. "At the same time, we'll have to investigate why the new car is not fast." BMW are reportedly advanced with the design and construction of their own car which has been designed at BMW's German factory; a full BMW works team could make it to the grid by 2005.

2/19/03

More on Indy 500 ticket sales  We previously reported that most grandstands still have tickets available for this years Indy 500.  The race normally sells out within a month (i.e. it should have sold out by last July).  A quick random check today finds you can still buy big blocks of tickets in some prime grandstands.  The maximum number of tickets we could buy in a single purchase for the Paddock Grandstand (Front & Center) was 10 seats (together) today. The maximum number for the C Grandstand was 46 together. The maximum number of tickets we could buy, just moments ago, for the Tower Terrace, get your Visa ready, was 70 seats together. Clearly for the first time in history, many tickets remain unsold far past the traditional sellout period - end June/Early July.  Many factors have contributed to the downfall of the once greatest spectacle in racing, but clearly the CART/IRL split is beginning to take its toll.

2/19/03

A revamped CART enters pivotal year  This USA Today article says, Finally, CART is winning back some respect. After two years marked by divisions, defections and doomsayers, CART's new-look Champ Car World Series is making a defiant stand for survival. The efforts of CEO Chris Pook to stem the tide of bad news and get CART back on track as a viable, credible sanctioning body are being recognized in unexpected areas......"Everyone's pulling for CART," says Vasser, who made his stock car debut. "People in other series, even NASCAR, want to see us survive. You didn't used to hear that support before."  Under Pook's year-old change-or-die regime, CART has reorganized, reconstituted and reinvented itself as a racing-focused enterprise after several years of mismanagement and infighting among car owners. He has overridden the agendas of leading team owners, whose control of CART's board of directors undermined the authority of his predecessors. "We have new sponsors, a new look, and we're starting to move forward," says Pook, who disagrees with the suggestion that this year is make-or-break for CART. "That's too harsh," he says. "We've stabilized the company. The big year for us will be 2005," when new engine and chassis rules are introduced.

2/19/03

Trucks get good initial rating on SPEED  The debut of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on SPEED Channel was a ratings success. SPEED’s 1.03 household rating (576,000 HH) for the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 on Feb. 14 was the highest Daytona rating received by the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks since the series first ran at the famed speedway in 2000. According to Nielsen Media Research, SPEED Channel’s 1.03 rating was a 75 percent increase over last year’s Daytona season opener on ESPN (.6) and generated 14 percent more household impressions (576,000 to 507,000) and 42 percent more total viewers (870,000 to 612,000). The quarter-hour high for the SPEED broadcast (1:15 – 1:30 p.m.) was a 1.21 with more than one million total viewers.

2/19/03

An interview with SPEED Channel's CART lineup  Today we were joined by the president of SPEED Channel, Jim Liberatore, along with the president of Lingner Group Productions Terry Lingner, as well as race analysts Tommy Kendall, Calvin Fish and Derek Daly for the CART weekly teleconference. Transcript

2/19/03

Sunday morning warm-up axed  Formula One's governing body, the FIA, have finally announced the schedule for the Australian Grand Prix and other rounds of the 2003 World Championship. As was widely expected the traditional half hour warm-up session which preceded the race itself has been axed in the wake of new refueling regulations introduced for the forthcoming season. Teams will now be unable to alter fuel levels following the Saturday qualifying session in a bid by the FIA to increase excitement by revolutionizing strategy calls from the pit wall. The FIA must now refund any television company who have already paid for the rights to screen the warm-up session. In addition to the new, two hour test session which will grace the Friday of every meeting and be attended by Renault, Jaguar, Minardi and Jordan, a five minute warm-up session will run immediately prior to the second, crucial qualifying hour of the weekend which will allow teams to shakedown their cars before drivers launch an all-out assault on the track to claim their qualifying position. Qualifying on the Saturday has also been pushed back an hour and will now run between 1400 and 1500.  The weekend schedule now stands as follows:
Friday:
0845-1045: Test Session (Renault, Jaguar, Minardi and Jordan)
1100-1200: Free Practice Session 1
1300-1400: Qualifying Session 1
Saturday:
0900-0945: Free Practice Session 2
1015-1100: Free Practice Session 3
1330-1335: Warm-Up Session
1400-1500: Qualifying Session 2
Sunday:
1400: Race

2/19/03

Daytona still bothers Penske  According to this Pennsylvania Live article,  Roger Penske was still fuming 48 hours after Michael Waltrip won the rain-shortened Daytona 500. Indy car racing's winningest owner of all time looks at Rusty Wallace's finish Sunday and can't help but wonder what might've been. Penske is steamed about the post-race inspection Thursday when Wallace turned in an excellent qualifying effort in the second of the Twin 125s. NASCAR inspectors discovered that a part on the carburetor on Wallace's Miller Lite machine did not meet specifications. Wallace was sent back to 38th on the starting grid and crew chief Bill Willburn was hit with a big fine. "I've been involved with racing since 1958 when I was at Lehigh University," Penske said. "And all that's just a part of racing. You move on." By Monday, Penske already had shifted his attention from NASCAR to the Indy Racing League and was overseeing Marlboro Team Penske at Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation for the series' season-opening Toyota Indy 300 on Sunday, March 2. But it was obvious Daytona was still sticking in his craw.  "It was very disappointing," Penske said. "Sure, it's embarrassing to me, personally. I had a long conversation with our people and, obviously, I'm going to have more. We don't run a business that way."

2/19/03

It's man over machine now  According to this Gazette Global article, Patrick Carpentier and Paul Tracy agree off-season changes will make the Champ Car World Series more competitive, but driving ability will ultimately decide who wins. "Drivers will be a factor more than in the past," said Carpentier, the 32-year-old LaSalle native who begins his sixth season with Player's/Forsythe Racing and with a new teammate in Tracy. "While everybody will be using the same engines and tires, and teams will be more competitive than a couple of years ago, it will be the driver who makes the difference," Carpentier said. "It will be about a driver's ability more than before," offered Tracy, who was in Montreal with Carpentier for a brief PR stop yesterday. "When that's the case, the cream comes to the top."

2/19/03

IPS in trouble?  According to this Autoweek article, IRL officials insist Infiniti isn’t going anywhere, though Infiniti sources say the company “doesn’t need to be in racing.” The truth is probably somewhere in between. "Absolutely not,” said series boss Roger Bailey. Bailey said the IRL begins its second year of a four-year contract with Infiniti providing Q45 engines for the series. Bailey has 17 car-and-driver combinations for the season-opening race at Homestead March 2. That’s as many as the series had at its highest point in its inaugural season last year.

2/19/03

Hand to coach "Mini" Al Unser  Joey Hand, one of the most talented up and coming open wheel racers in North America will lend his expertise to one of the most famous family names in all motorsports this weekend at the inaugural Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Al Unser, who is the son of two-time Champcar Champion, Al Unser Jr., will make his debut in the CART Barber Dodge Pro Series this weekend on the 1.806-mile street course in central Florida. Before Unser Jr. nabbed titles in 1990 and 1994 along with 31 career victories in Champcars, his father, Al Unser Sr., had earned Championships in 1983 and 1985. The youngest Unser has plotted a career path through the CART ladder system to continue the Unser tradition in open wheel racing. Hand, who will kick off his third season in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship next month in Mexico, will coach the youngest Unser in his first race in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Since this is the first race on the new St. Petersburg temporary street circuit, Hand was a natural selection to help a young driver learn a new car and course. During his rookie season in 2001, Hand finished third on his first trip to Long Beach as well as grabbing wins on his maiden visits to city circuits in Houston and Vancouver. “I have done a little coaching at my own karting school as well as some in Formula Mazdas, but this will be the first time I have actually gone to a race to coach only,” said Hand, who won the 2001 Rookie of the Year award with DSTP Motorsports. “It will be a little different, but it should still be fun. I grew up watching Al Unser Jr. race in Champcars, so it is kind of bizarre in a cool way that I’m coaching his son.” With an eye on the future of her team, DSTP Motorsports owner, Dede Rogers, will take in the weekend with Hand as well. “We are very excited to be working with Al this weekend in St. Petersburg and also hopefully working with him in the future as he moves up the ladder system to the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship,” quoted Rogers. “To be working with a family like the Unsers is truly an honor for Joey and me.”

2/19/03

Vasser to join Town Meeting  Champ Car has confirmed that 1996 series champion Jimmy Vasser will join President and CEO Christopher R. Pook along with some of the most influential and established personalities in open-wheel racing when it hosts the 2003 Champ Car Town Meeting: Portland on Wednesday, February 26th from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Since ticket reservations for the Town Meeting in the Pacific Northwest became available online Monday, the media and fan response has been overwhelming as more than 400 confirmations have been received in just two days for the event at the Doubletree Columbia River at Jantzen Beach. A limited number of tickets are available and will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis through Champ Car's official web site, www.champcarworldseries.com. For more information on the Town Meeting contact Kathi Reichert at Champ Car communications at (317) 715-4167, or via email at kreichert@cart.com, or Sharon Tracy at Global Events Group at (503) 821-4347, or by email at sharon@globaleventsgrouppdx.com.

2/19/03

Ricardo Gonzalez to run ALMS   Carsport America is thrilled to announce the addition of Mexico’s Ricardo Gonzalez to the team’s new Pagani GTS effort. Gonzalez will be the lead driver in the team’s new Pagani Zonda, starting with the season-opening Mobil1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and continuing for the full 2003 American Le Mans schedule. Gonzalez will also get behind the wheel of the new stunner at Le Mans. The 24 year-old Gonzalez, brother to CART’s Roberto Gonzalez, brings his driving talents to Carsport America’s new challenge to the ALMS GTS Championship. In 2001, Gonzalez finished 4th in the European FC Championship, with 2 podium finishes, a pole and a lap record. In 1998, 1999 and 2000 Gonzalez distinguished himself in the Mexican Indy Lights Panamerican series, with several podium finishes and many top 5 results. In 1994 and 1995 Gonzalez ran in Mexico’s International FIA F3 series, where he was the youngest ever participant - winning a pole in his first event and accumulating several top 5 finishes. “I’m really excited that Ricardo has joined us for the season,” said team owner Tom Weickardt. “Ricardo brings a new energy with him that will be invaluable toward our assault on the GTS championship. This will be Ricardo’s first visit to Sebring, and his first turn behind the wheel of the Pagani – and the Pagani’s first ever race as well. I know that we’ll all definitely put our best foot forward with this first race. I’m also sure that as time goes by, and we continue to develop the car, and as Ricardo gets more and more time behind its wheel - you’ll start seeing Ricardo on the podium.”

2/19/03

No Hemelgarn ride for Boat or Lazier  The Indy Star reports that Hemelgarn Racing team manager Lee Kunzman said today that he does not have a deal to field either Billy Boat or Buddy Lazier, both former race winners in the IRL. Lazier won the 1996 Indianapolis 500 and the 2000 league championship. Therefore, the team will skip the Homestead race, its first missed race since the league was founded in 1996.

2/19/03

Jeff Ward to drive for Bradley Motorsports  Jeff Ward will join Bradley Motorsports in a G-Force/Toyota package crewed by former Indy winner Owen Snyder.

2/19/03

CART announces new sales agency  Champ Car announced today a partnership with Stefanucci & Turner (S&T) that will associate the Sunset Beach, California-based company with the series as a third-party sales agency effective immediately for the upcoming 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. In addition to assisting with overall sales for the series, S&T- formerly Sports Consultants International- will support sales efforts for the Champ Car World Series at overseas events in Europe as well as the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Formed in 1977 by Brian Turner, S&T has developed into one of the nation's leading sponsorship development and event management companies. Since its inception as the marketing agency for the Long Beach Grand Prix, the company handles a variety of regional, national and international projects ranging from motorsports to soccer and from food and music festivals to the arts. "We are pleased to have Stefanucci & Turner join Champ Car along with our top developmental series, the Toyota Atlantic Championship," said Champ Car Vice President of Marketing Steve Fusek. "Mr. Turner brings years of experience and motorsports knowledge to our sales efforts and we look forward to this partnership with his company. Exposure for our back-to-back European dates in England and Germany is continually increasing and this announcement furthers that effort." Turner has an extensive background in developing and selling major sponsorship programs. While working with Philip Morris Inc., he was responsible for the development and implementation of the Marlboro's $10 million Champ Car program. He was also responsible for the design and acquisition of financing for the $45 million Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado and acted as General Manager for the first two years of the track's operation. Turner is currently involved as a consultant to the organizers of a series of motorsport events in China.

2/19/03

Manning - CART all about talent, F1 about politics  In this Ananova.com article, Darren Manning says, "I want to score points, I want to win races and I know I will with Walker Racing," said Manning. "We all know F1 is so political and it's all about the right timing, the right sponsor. Your opportunity can be gone in the blink of an eye. And being an F1 test driver is no guarantee either. "That's why I like CART because they seem to recognize talent. Plus drivers have a chance to show what they can do. Starting 17th on the grid doesn't mean your weekend is over in a champ car race. "If I get an opportunity with a team that can succeed and I'd spent 10 years in CART I'll be fine with that. I've got a racing life here in powerful cars that compete on the world map." But Manning would not rule out a switch to F1 should he impress team bosses with his performances in Champ Cars which features a mixture of road courses and street races as well as oval tracks. "For me to be competing in Champ Car, hopefully winning some races for Derrick (Walker) and myself, you never know, in a couple of years' time, I might be in Formula One," added Manning.

2/19/03

Greg Ray to form new IRL team  Former IRL champion Greg Ray of Plano will be the co-owner and driver for a new team called Access Motorsports, which will be headquartered in Indianapolis. The team will use Honda engines and the Panoz G Force chassis. The IRL season begins March 2 with the Toyota Indy 300 at Miami, but the first race for Access Racing probably will be the second IRL event of the year at Phoenix on March 23. "Doing this gives me more control over my own destiny," Ray said. "This is a big step forward for me and for my future. Being a team owner is stepping over the edge a little with more risks, but it also has more rewards. "We've put together a solid group of people."  Dallas Morning News

2/19/03

Begley's determination won over CART  This St. Petersburg Times article says, Tom Begley just wouldn't let go. Indifference, rejections, debt, none of it mattered -- only that, as far as he was concerned, St. Petersburg was going to have a world-class grand prix along its travel-poster waterfront. "I'm pretty pig-headed and stubborn," he said. "I'm Irish and I'm determined." After a 12-year quest, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is approaching the starting line. In 1991, Begley bought for less than $50,000 the assets of a waterfront grand prix that had gone bankrupt the year before. Part of the problem was that there was another car race, the Tampa World Challenge, at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The area couldn't support both. Begley began working to revive the race and, in 1996, staged a Trans-Am race around Tropicana Field, then called the ThunderDome. The group backing it lost more than $500,000. The 1997 race broke even, Begley ended up owing the city $40,522, the race's title sponsor withdrew and that ended its brief run. Begley turned his attention to Chris Pook, then president of the Long Beach Grand Prix. Pook ignored Begley. "It's very difficult rebirthing a race," Pook said recently, reflecting on his thoughts nearly two years ago. A turning point came in 2001, when Championship Auto Racing Teams dropped its Homestead-Miami Speedway race. There would be no open-wheel presence in the southeastern United States. CART began examining Boston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Denver and San Francisco as potential street-race cities. "None of them was St. Petersburg-Tampa," Begley said. "I sent the demographic information about our market to Chris. I still have the letter, June 30 (2001), to me from Chris. He said he'd talked to his associates in Troy, Mich., CART's headquarters then, and Dover, Del. (where the company that now owns the Long Beach race is based). He said, 'We're not interested in your market.' I thought, 'That's crazy.' " Begley called people he knew who knew Pook and asked them to intercede on his behalf. In August 2001, Pook agreed to visit St. Petersburg.   More.....

2/19/03

Special Brazilian seating at Homestead  Brazilians are encouraged to celebrate Carnaval at Homestead-Miami Speedway's CARNAVAL BRAZIL reserved special seating section at the Toyota Indy 300, February 28 through March 2. In the section, Brazilians will be able to cheer together for the Brazilian IRL IndyCar Series drivers competing in the season-opener of the 2003 IndyCar Series. "Section 220 of the main grandstand across pit lane is now reserved for CARNAVAL BRAZIL," announced Curtis Gray, President of Homestead-Miami Speedway. "We encourage all Brazilian racing fans to sit in the CARNAVAL BRAZIL section and cheer for their favorite drivers, who will be racing at speeds faster than 200 miles per hour at the Toyota Indy 300."

2/19/03

Correction on Doran-Lista and Grand-Am  Last week we published a hot news item that indicated the Doran team (run by Kevin Doran) was going to run in ALMS this year and would forego participation in the Grand-Am series.  As it turns out Doran will run both the ALMS and the Grand-Am series.  In fact, Doran Enterprises is the designer and builder of the new Doran JE-4 Daytona Prototype Grand-Am car, which will be sold to customers.  You can learn more about the team at www.doranracing.com.  You can also find information about the Daytona Prototypes class at www.grandamerican.com.

2/19/03

Lazier re-signs with Menard  Coming back from a major back injury last April, Jaques Lazier will return to the seat of the Johns Manville Menards Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone car for the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series, Team Menard owner John Menard announced today. "It required a lot of perseverance and determination for Jaques to get back to where he is today," Menard said. "As a driver and an athlete he is stronger than ever. All of us at Team Menard are pleased to have him back in the car for the 2003 season." Lazier, of Alta Loma, Calif., first joined Team Menard in 2001 winning his first career IndyCar Series victory at Chicagoland Speedway. He was gearing up for a successful season in 2002, finishing second at California Speedway, before he was sidelined because of a back injury caused by a multi-car accident at Nazareth. "When I originally signed as a driver for Team Menard, I told John all I wanted was a home," Lazier said. "I have found that, and I am thrilled to be back as a driver for Team Menard. "It has been a difficult road to recovery with a good five months of rehabilitation but now I feel better than I did before the crash. We had a lot of momentum before my accident last year. I believe we can continue to improve and reach that promised land again this season." Vitor Meira, a native of Brasilia, Brazil, drove the final four races of the 2002 season for Team Menard. As a rookie driver, he was impressive, winning the pole position and finishing third at Texas Motor Speedway. Meira will continue as a test driver for both Team Menard and Red Bull Cheever Racing. He will work closely with the teams' new research and development partnership, Menard Cheever Technologies.

2/19/03
Industry News

SPEED TV to present DOTY Award  In 2003, SPEED Channel will be the official presenter of the Driver of the Year (DOTY), supporting the prestigious award with multiple in-program mentions and announcements of quarterly winners. In addition, SPEED Channel’s Internet Web site -- SPEEDTV.com -- will host online fan voting for the award. “This is such a natural fit,” said SPEED Channel President Jim Liberatore. “With SPEED Channel establishing itself as the premier motor sports network in North America, partnering with the Driver of the Year award was a real easy decision. SPEED looks forward to honoring a tradition that has such a rich history in racing.” The DOTY, an annual award given to the top driver in a North American racing series, enters its 37th year in 2003 with a list of winners that makes up a virtual Who’s Who of motor sports. The first award, given in 1967, went to Mario Andretti. Andretti received a bronze trophy and a check for $7,500, edging out Bruce McLaren, A.J. Foyt and Richard Petty. Selected by a media panel, the Driver of the Year vote is based on a 25-point system. Each panelist selects a top-six from the nominees, and points are awarded to the drivers as follows: nine points for first, six for second, four for third, three for fourth, two for fifth and one for sixth. In addition to the annual award, drivers also are recognized quarterly for their performances throughout the season. The media panel added two new members in 2003 – SPEED Channel’s Bob Varsha and Jim Pedley from the Kansas City Star. The other members include:

• Chris Economaki, Editor & Publisher Emeritus, NSSN
• Dr. Dick Berggren, Fox Sports
• Eli Gold, TNN/MRN
• Bob Jenkins, motor sports broadcaster
• Steve Ballard, Indianapolis Star
• Lewis Franck, Reuters
• Mike Harris, AP
• Mark Armijo, The Arizona Republic
• Shav Glick, LA Times
• Gary Long, Miami Herald
• John Sturbin, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
• Mike Vega, Boston Globe
• Steve Waid, Winston Cup Scene/Illustrated
• Dave Woolford, Toledo Blade
• Chris Jenkins, USA Today
In addition to the 18-member media panel, a single ballot with the top-six vote getters from the fan voting site also is included in the final tabulation. In 2002, a tie-breaker was needed for the first time in the award’s history, as CART champion Cristiano da Matta topped 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon is the DOTY’s only four-time winner, with Darrell Waltrip and Andretti each winning three times. Further information on the DOTY award can be obtained from Barry Schmoyer at the DRIVER OF THE YEAR Foundation, P.O. Box 49827, Sarasota, FL 34230 or (941) 953-6209

2/19/03

Sebastien Bourdais speaks  In this F1-Live article, Sebastien Bourdais talks about landing his CART ride and his early days of testing and settling down in the USA.  Bourdais will be writing a regular column for F1-Live.

2/19/03

Mosley willing to compromise on engine rules  As expected, Max Mosley has said there is room for compromise on the FIA’s radical new engine rules. The regulation is scheduled to be extended for 2006, where teams will be required to use one engine for six races, and this everyone expects to be a negotiating position. Many team bosses and engine chiefs have criticized the rule change, claiming that it goes against the spirit of Formula 1 with Renault and Ferrari being particularly critical. Mosley says a compromise is always possible but this depends on the major manufacturers supplying the smaller teams with cheap engines. "A compromise is always possible if the major constructors are prepared to supply the small teams with engines," he told AFP. "The major constructors need us and we need them but we need to open talks and so far the the only one to respond has been Patrick Faure (Renault)." At last month’s Renault F1 launch Faure threatened to withdraw if the new engine regulations were introduced. "The plan for an engine for six races is the end of Formula 1," he said. "We will not stay in the championship with these kind of rules, clearly, none of us."   We here at AR1 feel the FIA will compromise to something around a required 2 or 3 race weekend engine, assuming they can police it.  It will be interesting to see if CART takes up Ford's proposal to keep the current spec turbo engine through the 2005 season (1 year longer than contracted) so that in 2006, when the F1 engines are far less expensive, a common platform can be adopted with F1.  A common engine between the two series makes a lot of sense, however, it will take Bernie Ecclestone to make it happen because we know that CART has developed specifications for its V-10 without consulting with the FIA.  One would hope the rules makers from both sides will sit down and see if a compromise agreement can be reached on a common V-10.  By doing that, both CART and the FIA will bring more value to the engine manufacturers and it's quite likely we would see even more manufacturers jump in. If Bernie Ecclestone is indeed buying into CART as the rumors suggest, one would think it would be in his best interest to make both CART and F1 healthy, and in step with one another.  CART will be the best training ground for F1 if the cars are similar in size and make the same HP.  The only difference need be the weight of a Champ Car - it should be heavier and use steel disk brakes so F1 cars are faster.  Bernie will certainly want F1 positioned just above CART.  Mark C.

2/19/03

Troubles for Target?  [Editor's Note: The Target retailer in Australia is not affiliated to Target Corporation in the USA. They only happen to share the same name as Target Corporation doesn't own the trademark rights in Australia.]  Another retail giant, Target, is in trouble, at least in Australia they are. Target of Australia is run separately from the USA operations, but the USA has seen a drop in profits as well. Kmart has left racing because of its financial woes, let's hope it does not spill over to the USA.  This article says -- Ten years ago, Target was the star performer in the Coles Myer stable. At the height of the 1990-91 recession, shoppers were flocking to the discount department store chain, drawn by its low prices, good-quality products and clear positioning as a retailer of value-for-money goods. The 1990-91 year was a hard one for Coles Myer, but Target shone: sales of $1.26 billion, earnings before interest and tax (Ebit) of $103.8 million, and an operating profit margin of 8.2% - the highest in the Coles Myer group. The retail industry is now in another recession, but shoppers are no longer flocking to Target. Many are avoiding it, complaining that it has become too expensive, that it no longer offers value for money, and that its stores are cluttered and poorly laid out. The former star of Australian retailing has fallen - hard. In the six months to January 31 this year, the sales of the 113-store (Australia) Target chain fell 2.3% to $1.3 billion. Ebit crashed 85%, to $9.3 million, giving Target a profit margin of 0.7%. On July 19, Coles Myer confirmed what rival retailers had been predicting for months: Target will lose money for the 12 months to July 31 this year. The fall of Target is a classic example of how not to manage a brand and how to mismanage a retail business. It is also a sad comment on the performance of Coles Myer's directors and senior executives in recent years. Ten years ago, Target was a focused retailer churning out a steady stream of cash for Coles Myer. Today, it is a shambles, dragging down its parent company.  More...

2/19/03

Greg Ray to BGN  Former IRL driver Greg Ray, once called the Tiger Woods of Auto Racing by Jack Arute,  is trying to finalize a deal to run several Busch series races this season as a teammate to Matt Kenseth at Reiser Enterprises. Robbie Reiser, the crew chief for the Winston Cup car Kenseth's drives, owns a Busch team and wants Ray to drive a second Busch car for them if the sponsorship can be worked out. "We should know something on that by March 1," Ray said. "If we can finalize things, my first Busch race will be March 29 at Texas Motor Speedway." Dallas Morning News

2/19/03

Coulthard not happy with way FIA implemented new rules  According to David Coulthard although FIA proposed changes will hopefully improve the spectacle, the way in which the FIA is going about it is wrong. Not only does the Scotsman feel that there have been too many regulation changes, but he also believes that Mosley has not clarified the rules enough, leading to confusion. "The way in which the rule changes came in is embarrassing. To have so much confusion put out in such a way and to have so many changes was not good. We do not know where we stand and I can't start focusing until I know what the rules are," Coulthard told The Independent.

2/19/03

Button says Jacques does not speak to him  Despite Villeneuve’s constant comments about Jensen Button, Jenson him self has been unmoved by the French Canadian’s banter as he tries to settle into his new surroundings. After talking to Button regarding the situation last week, Richards said there was not an issue between the team mates and the so called ‘fight’ was all one sided. “I think if it’s managed properly it can be regarded as healthy competition,” Richards told an Australian media conference. “I was with Jenson the last couple of days in Spain, where he has been testing and we discussed it. It’s mostly come from Jacques’ side, and Jacques is renowned for his forthright views and speaks his mind about things. I asked Jenson how he was getting on, and anything between him and Jacques that I needed to be involved in, and he said: ‘No, not an issue, really. Jacques just doesn’t speak to me.’” Asked to explain the situation further Richards said: “I think what Jenson meant by that is they are not sort of talking in a social sense and sort of spending their lives in each other’s pockets. Certainly when they sit down on the track they talk about the car and the development. “It always takes time for these relationships to build up as well and to build respect and to understand how the other person works as well, so I don’t think of that as a problem at all. And we have seen teams built around great relationships that sort of work very well, and we have seen other equally successful teams built with a bit of friction, and I have no issue in managing either of those. Certainly one will be easier than the other, but if there is to be a little bit of friction in the team then I will manage that process.”

2/19/03

Champion Audi team testing at Moroso   J J Lehto and Emanuele Pirro join Team ADT Champion Racing regular Stefan Johansson in shakedown runs at the Moroso track in Florida this week.

2/19/03

More detail on Daytona 500 TV ratings  Sunday's rain-shortened running of the 45th Daytona 500 still captured 29.4 million viewers, the event's fifth-biggest audience ever, according to Nielsen Media Research. Despite televising approximately two-hours and ten minutes of race coverage during a four-hour and 38-minute broadcast, the Daytona 500 on FOX scored an impressive 9.8/21 preliminary national household rating/share, and ties the 1987 race as the fourth highest-rated Daytona 500 ever. At any given time, the 2003 race averaged 16.8 million viewers, the third highest in history. Initial viewership for the 2003 Daytona 500 actually out-paced last year's record-setting start on NBC by 4% until the first rain delay occurred at 2:13 PM ET (9.7 vs. 9.3). Uninterrupted and in the midst of that network's coverage of the Olympic Winter Games, the 2002 race scored a 10.9/26, with 35 million total viewers, both records for the Daytona 500. "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, " said FOX Sports president Ed Goren. "Between this and the great ratings we had earlier in Speed Weeks, NASCAR continues to amaze." The Daytona 500's showing comes after FOX posted strong ratings for its first two broadcasts this season. Saturday's (2/15) running of the NASCAR Busch Series Koolerz 300 on FOX scored a 3.6/8 household overnight rating/share, the race's highest overnight mark since 1998, and 24% better than FOX's last presentation in 2001 (2.9/7). Conservatively, the national rating for the Koolerz 300, unavailable until Friday, should exceed last year's race by 50%, and is likely to be the most-watched NASCAR Busch Series race from Daytona ever. The 2003 NASCAR on FOX season began on Sat., Feb 8 with the first-ever prime time presentation of the Budweiser Shootout. The event posted a 5.5/10 national rating/share, 62% higher than a year ago (3.4/8 on TNT), and is now the most-watched Budweiser Shootout ever with 9.5 million viewers. As unlikely as it would seem given the lengthy rain delays, several markets actually posted year-to-year increases compared to the 2002 Daytona 500 broadcast. They are: Kansas City (14.2 vs. 9.8, +45%); Louisville (18.0 vs. 18.3, +35%); Oklahoma City (10.4 vs. 8.2, +27%); Memphis (11.6 vs. 9.2, +26%); St. Louis (14.3 vs. 11.6, +23%); Richmond (17.6 vs. 15.4, +14%); Greensboro (26.3 vs. 23.5, +12%); Buffalo (11.2, vs. 10.3, +9%); Washington, DC (11.2 vs. 10.3, +9%); Charlotte (22.2 vs. 20.5, +8%); Austin (9.5 vs. 9.2, +3%); Minneapolis/St. Paul (9.5 vs. 9.4, +1); and Phoenix (9.8 vs. 9.7, +1%). Even with Sunday's rain delays, the Daytona 500 still posted the highest rating of any sporting event since Super Bowl XXXVII, and easily beat events such as the NBA All-Star Game and NFL Pro Bowl. The Daytona 500 also retains its title as the top event in motorsports. Yesterday's 9.8/21 out-rates the last 10 Indianapolis 500s. One national ratings point represents 1% of the 106,700,000 million estimated television households in the United States (1,067,000).  FOX News Release

2/19/03

Dominguez looking for consistency   This El Norte article features Mario Dominguez in Monterrey, Mexico yesterday promoting the upcoming CART Champ Car race.  Dominguez says he is looking for consistent good finishes this year.

2/19/03

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2/19/03

More on Yates and NASCAR's antiquated engines  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, I read the transcript with Robert Yates and found it interesting. All I can say is about time somebody in NASCAR woke up to overhead cam engines. Though I find it interesting that Gary Nelson asked about the need for carburetors. Has he never heard of spec ECU's? Also, all the praise that Yates heaps on Ford's 4.6L engine reminds of an article in Road and Track from about 10 years ago when the Romeo 4.6L (that's the engine's name) made it's debut in the Lincoln MKVIII. The article, written by Dennis Jenkinson, made note of the engine's structure, and that it reminded him of one of Ford's CART or F-1 engines. He also noted that Cosworth was instrumental in the development of the engine. I myself drive a 4.6L powered Mustang GT, and Yates has stumbled upon something we Mustangers have known since 1996. The 4.6L Cobra (the 32V version) can make serious high rpm horsepower...and stay together. Pick up any of the enthusiasts magazines, and you'll pages of 4.6L powered STREET Mustangs that make well over 500 horsepower. And then there are the 1000 hp drag race cars. Like I said before, Cosworth and Ford knew what they were doing with this engine. Who knows...maybe those crazy furriners have known what they've been doing all along. Regards, Joe Angers, Boston, MA  Dear Joe, We agree, especially with this statement Yates made -  "This is a 4.6, four-valve, and it comes in several of your performance cars. The good thing about it is it's designed around the engine that's in everything, so all of the technology is there. It's a well-designed piece. We just made a few alterations and had some fun with it. Right now, we're just cranking these valves way down in the cylinder to get them out of the way of the air-flow and that's hard. We've developed springs and made parts that can do this, but I feel like we're just working on dinosaurs.  I just think we can accomplish the same thing with something that's built by the manufacturer (ie the new engines). That's when the price comes down. If you get these parts from the manufacturer and let those be the parts we race, then our engines would be back in line. The way it is right now, we spend a lot of money for nothing. Nobody reaps any benefit from pouring cast-iron blocks and all this stuff. The cars could actually be a little lighter and safer and just much more modern."  Mark C.

2/19/03
Industry News

Simple Green signs on with TMS  Simple Green has signed a sponsorship deal with Texas Motor Speedway to advertise on the large billboard behind the back straight grandstands.  It will be up all year.  They are also doing a huge promotion with O'Reilly Automotive chain wide incorporating this sponsorship.

  Much More...click on 2002 archives button below
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