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DATE

News (chronologically)

3/4/03

72 entries for 24 Hours of LeMans  The Automobile Club de l'Ouest received 72 applications for participation at the entry deadline for the 24-hours of LeMans. That list will be narrowed down to 50 cars that will be invited to take part in qualifying and the race. The list includes 31 prototypes, 17 are in the LMP 900 class, 2 LM GTPs and 12 LMP 675s. The 41 GT entries include 14 LM GTS and 27 LM GT cars.

3/4/03

Rainy start to F1 season?   The 2003 Formula One season will most likely kick-off in wet conditions as the storm clouds look set to gather on Melbourne during the race weekend. On Friday during the first qualifying session and testing practices, the weather will hold-up and most likely will remain sunny, but when the weekend starts, it will deteriorate. On Saturday, rain and thunder are predicted with occasional sunny outbreaks but in general it will be a wet day. The temperature is expected to range between 17 ºC and 21 ºC, and if the weather changes drastically during the qualifying shoot-out session, we could end up with an unusual looking grid. On Sunday, the temperatures are expected to be slightly higher but rain and thunder are still predicted which should provide for some interesting racing.

3/4/03

Can't tell by the crowds EVEN MORE FEEDBACK  In response to this Morning Call article - Mr. Reinhard:  I read your story comparing and contrasting the recent CART and IRL races in Florida. I imagine you've received a lot of vitriolic mail already accusing you of this or that, so I'll go lightly in my criticism: I think it's an under-reported phenomenon that the vast majority of the "fans" in the stands for the IRL were there courtesy of a free ticket to the race. That's not to say they didn't enjoy what they saw, but free tickets (via direct giveaways from sponsors and teams) or "package" deals where you get a "free" IRL race ticket at tracks having Winston Cup races has been the order of the day in the IRL for several years. Bottom line: the drug just isn't addictive, if the fans aren't buying the second time around. I'm not a racing snob: if it goes fast, looks cool and it's surrounded by other fast, cool machinery in a race, then I'm interested. But as a reporter, you haven't really done the sport justice until you get to the "real" story: Mad King (Tony) George's vengeance-is-mine effort to destroy CART. Hell, I'm a CART fan, but even I enjoy the drama of seeing the Mad King of Indy thrash about, work behind the scenes, connive with the powers-that-be (e.g. Penske and Ecclestone) and change his story/plan over and over trying to win....who knows what? As a journalist, it's the story of a lifetime: young man with unlimited capital on a quest to slay a dragon. C'mon ! Where's your sense of story? Mr. George starts a race series with the stated goal of providing young American short-track bullring drivers driving essentially identical, inexpensive cars, self-supported by on-car sponsorships, with the lollipop of having one of the races be at the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Eight years on, the series exists, but is populated largely by non-Americans, bringing significant off-shore sponsorship and road-racing experience, and dominated by Japanese and English technology. Meanwhile, the big race (the Indy 500) is starting to lose its impact, and isn't even seen anymore as the most important race taking place at its track (the Brickyard 400 gets that nod). Hell, we're not even at the climax of the story yet. Be a writer Mr. Reinhard, and write this book before it's too late. Barry Randall St. Paul, MN

3/4/03

SPEED inks 3-year F1 deal  UPDATE We have added the complete SPEED Channel USA TV times to our 2003 F1 Schedule3/4/03 - SPEED Channel President Jim Liberatore announced today that SPEED Channel has reached an unprecedented three-year agreement with the FIA Formula One World Championship, making SPEED the television home to the complete 16-race Grand Prix racing schedule in 2003, including September's United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis. "Formula One events, fans and history are the bricks and mortar that form the foundation that this network was built upon," Liberatore said. "We have known for many years that F1 deserves to be presented to its fans in a comprehensive manner worthy of the title of the world's most popular racing series. This coverage includes Formula One's past, present and future. With the addition of "F1 Decade", F3000 and continued coverage of every event including practice and qualifying, we are providing this passionate fan base the coverage it deserves. What's more, they will no longer need to wait until hours before the season's first green flag to know where to tune in!" The deal, SPEED Channel's fifth with a major racing sanctioning body in the last six months, begins with this weekend's live qualifying and racing coverage from the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Since announcing the addition of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at the end of September, SPEED Channel also has inked deals with USAC, ASA and the IHRA for programming in 2003 and beyond. The F1 deal also includes broadcast rights for the Formula One season ten years removed from the current season, allowing SPEED's F1 Decade to air races from the 1993 season this year. SPEED Channel's coverage from Australia begins with live Thursday evening qualifying at 10 p.m. ET. Race coverage begins Saturday evening at 9:30 p.m. Former F1 mechanic Steve Matchett and play-by-play man Rick DeBruhl will join veteran analyst and former F1 driver David Hobbs in the broadcast booth. Peter Windsor will provide reporting from the paddock. In 2003, SPEED Channel is the exclusive U.S. cable home for many of the top motor sports series in the world, including Formula One, the Champ Car World Series, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, USAC, World Rally, ASA, IHRA, ALMS, Grand Am, F3000 and live coverage of AMA and FIM motorcycle road racing events. Now available in more the 60 million homes in North America, SPEED Channel is the fastest growing sports cable network in the country and the home to NASCAR TV.

3/4/03

Monterrey, Mexico schedule  The detailed weekend schedule has been released for the upcoming CART race in Monterrey, Mexico (PDF File)

3/4/03

Herta to drive at Sebring  American racing star Bryan Herta will return to action in the American Le Mans Series when he competes in an experimental alternative-fuel Prototype in the Mar. 12-15 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Team Nasamax is entering the world’s first wholly renewably fueled Prototype racing car in the Sebring race and in the 24 Hours of Le Mans later this year. Herta will co-drive with Romain Dumas of France and Robbie Stirling of Canada in the England-based car, making a true international effort for America’s oldest sports car race. The Reynard chassis will be powered by a Cosworth engine that runs on Bio-ethanol, a fuel that is made from agricultural products and does not have the emissions of normal car exhaust. The rest of the starting field of approximately 60 cars at Sebring will run on racing gasoline. Nasamax, based in Kent, England, a core of experienced scientific and racing personnel, is the combination of more than 18 months of cooperation and research into energy-efficient green technologies. Herta, from Valencia, Calif., drove in all races on the American Le Mans Series in the 2002 season for the Panoz Motor Sports team. Previously, he had competed in the open-wheel CART Series, where he has two career wins. The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will start at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 15, at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway. Ticket information is available online at www.sebringraceway.com or by calling (863) 655-1442, or toll-free in Florida (800) 626-RACE. Four classes of American Le Mans Series cars will compete in the event, with the Nasamax car racing in the top LMP 900 Prototype class. The race will be televised live from flag-to-flag by the SPEED Channel, with live coverage by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web brought to you by iCard online at www.americanlemans.com.

3/4/03

Da Matta will seek advice from Montoya  CART Champion Cristiano da Matta says he will be seeking the advice of fellow South American, and race winner, Juan Pablo Montoya. "We will be exchanging a lot of information but not much about driving," the Brazilian told reporters in Melbourne yesterday, "because the difficulties that I have are all unknown to him because he has been doing that for so long. "On the low-speed corners it's finesse," he continued. "I'm sure when I get the low-speed corners right I'm going to be going very fast. The Formula One is a more fragile car, it's more important to be smooth and gentle with the car." "In CART, I was going into every race thinking I could win the race, or fight for the win," said da Matta according to Reuters. "Here I think maybe if I get a podium position it would be more than a race win for me personally. "The horsepower is similar," he adds, "but the handling is completely different. This car is 600 kilos with the driver, the CART car weighs 800 kilos with the driver so it's a big difference, 25 percent in weight. "It's quick to get to 95 percent," he added, "I think it takes a little bit more to take it to 100 percent."

3/4/03

ISC earnings report  International Speedway Corporation, America's biggest track owner, has updated the financial forecast for its first quarter (ended February 28). The NASDAQ-listed company now expects to report Q1 revenues of $130m, at the low end of its previous guidance range. ISC saw 170,000 fans at the Daytona 500, but it cites softer attendance-related revenues due to inclement weather and the current economic and geopolitical conditions. Advanced ticket sales at ISC tracks for 2003 are lagging behind 2002 levels.  Autosport.com

3/4/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

GP Edge For New McLaren
Minardi On Pole In Melbourne?
Jaguar Cautious About R4
Brundle 'Fancied' Jaguar Job
Rubens Fixed On Title Dream
Uncertainty Arms Jordan For Future
Minardi Sightseeing In Melbourne
Firman And Webber Gear Up
Wilson Unhappy With HANS Device
BMW Blame Williams For FW25
Davidson Slams British Rookies
Melbourne Heats Up: News In Brief
- Panis Can't Wait
- Honda Arrives
- Renault Engine Lacking
- R23 Is 'Really Good'
- Gene Returns To Racing
- Ove's Strange Feeling
- Concern At Friday Option
- Da Matta Eyes 'Fun' Debut
- JV Buoyed For One Lap
- Ford Backs Jordan
- Tough To Step Out
- Ralf And Juan
- Webber Can't Wait
- Fisi Eyes Points
- Nothing Special

3/4/03

Toyota Unveil KDDI  With drivers Olivier Panis and Cristiano Da Matta in Tokyo, Toyota Racing unveiled a new racing sponsor for the fledgling F1 team.  Japanese telecommunications company KDDI will adorn the front wing of the new TF103, with Akihiko Saito, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation, adding his pleasure at the news.  He said: 'We are expecting another very competitive season this year, but we would like to show our 'challenge' in the race to fans and our partners and we will do our best to live up to their expectations.'  Toyota earned just two points in its first season of racing last year.

3/4/03

Politics Hit Support Race  Local politics are threatening to mar one of the support races at this weekend's Australian Grand Prix; and the pundits involved are blaming Tom Walkinshaw.  The Scottish entrepreneur's TWR Racing empire recently went broke, moving Aussie manufacturer Holden to step in and rescue V8 Supercar teams HRT and K-Mart Racing.  However, V8's rulebook states that manufacturers aren't allowed to own teams, moving competing rivals Ford to insist that the championship-leading outfits sit out the Albert Park event.  Holden Motorsport Director John Crennan said he was busily arranging a 'transitional agreement,' while his Ford counterpart Stephen Kruk insisted that his rivals should 'abide the rules' and stay at home.  K-Mart Racing driver Greg Murphy said the row was 'one of those things that had to happen.' 

3/4/03

Ford backs Jordan   The Ford Motor Company has put its full support behind Jordan Grand Prix as the famous Blue Oval visibly returns to F1.  Although Jaguar is the Detroit marque's works team, Eddie Jordan last year brokered an innovative deal with Ford of Europe to subsidise customer Cosworth engines with the manufacturer's support.  Speaking from his offices in Cologne, Ford of Europe's President Martin Leach said, 'We intend to use our involvement with Jordan Grand Prix to motivate and inspire our employees throughout Europe.'  Enthusing about Ford's partnership with Jordan Grand Prix, Ford of Europe's Director of Motorsport Martin Whitaker added, 'We look forward to enjoying the passion and fun that is synonymous with the Jordan name.' 

3/4/03

Loggers threaten F1 race  Enormous logging trucks made a bold threat to disrupt the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne today.  Victorian Environment Minister John Thwaites said the government would only negotiate with the protesters if they withdrew their vow to mar the Formula One race this weekend.  'The union must withdraw their threats to the grand prix,' he told reporters. 'We are prepared to talk to them should they do that.'  The disgruntled contractors blocked state parliament with their trucks last week and want the government to take state control of the industry.  But Thwaites said he would only 'talk about the issues' with the protesters if they withdrew the 'gun at the head' of the grand prix.  Seven loggers' trucks lined up on the Formula One pit-straight yesterday and again this morning, and threatened to repeat the disruptive behavior when official proceedings get into action on Thursday.  'Obviously they are intent on taking some action there,' Victorian premier Steve Bracks told local radio in Melbourne.  'If they do that, they will effectively be taking action to affect Australia's reputation internationally, and they will be judged on that matter.'

3/4/03

So Michael, where did it all go wrong?  We thought you might find this UK Observer interview interesting.  It's titled S Michael, where did it all go wrong?   It talks about Schumacher's dominance of the sport, his rivalry  with Senna, Ecclestone's predictions on Schumacher, and how F1 has become a bit boring because he is so good. A recommended read about the real Michael Schumacher.  Mark C.

3/3/03

Will Coulthard miss Irvine?   David Coulthard says he will miss outspoken Ulsterman Eddie Irvine ... 'like a hole in the head.'   The two shared a frosty relationship at the pinnacle of motorsports, their latest verbal assaults starting when Eddie said David's McLaren team-mate Kimi Raikkonen had 'killed' the Scot's career.  Coulthard bit back by branding the 37-year-old ace 'two faced.'  Irvine, from Northern Ireland, failed to land the final Jordan Grand Prix seat in 2003 after Eddie Jordan plumped for a driver to appease his sponsors.  Coulthard wrapped up his terse farewell to the former Ferrari, Jordan and Jaguar pilot by explaining why he didn't bother sending a Christmas Card to 'The Swerve.'  'I wouldn't waste a stamp,' he smiled.

3/3/03

Confessions of a used car dealer  We thought you might find this UK Observer interview from May 2002 interesting.  It's titled Confessions of a Used Car Dealer.   Bernie Ecclestone was just that before he became Formula One's leading man.  It's a good insight into what makes the most powerful man in motorsports tick. A recommended read.  Mark C.

3/3/03

Chevy plans improvement to IRL engine  This Autoweek article talks about the Chevy IRL engine woes and how they plan to improve it to catch up.  However, what they fail to recognize, and will soon realize, is that Toyota and Honda are not going to wait around for Chevy to catch up.  They will continue to improve their engines, always staying one step ahead of what Chevy can produce.

3/3/03

CART experience paying off for IRL drivers  This Miami Herald article says, the shift in the balance of power from the established CART series to Tony George's eight-year-old Indy Racing League in the country's open-wheel ranks could not have been more starkly spotlighted than by the IRL's third appearance at Homestead Miami Speedway. Target Ganassi, Marlboro Team Penske and the former Team KOOL Green, reconstituted as Andretti Green Racing, all raced under the CART umbrella as recently as 2001. Now, all three are committed to the IRL, and Sunday those well-financed outfits equipped seven of the eight top finishers. Only time will tell whether two-time IRL champion Pennzoil Panther Racing (Sam Hornish Jr.) and Kelley Racing (Scott Sharp and Al Unser Jr.) can raise their games to meet the intensified competition.  The article goes on to talk about how good Dixon is and underscores the level of drivers and teams that come out of CART, trouncing everything that was once the IRL.

3/3/03

Davidson criticizes Firman and Wilson  In this Sun article, Anthony Davidson has slammed Britain's two new Formula One drivers Justin Wilson and Ralph Firman for wasting time and money to fulfill their Grand Prix dreams.

3/3/03

Indianapolis is now a NASCAR town  Indy Car racing used to be the biggest thing in town in Indianapolis.  Indy Cars are named after the famous Indy 500.  However, since Anton George split Indy Car racing in two, and since he let NASCAR into Indy's hallowed ground, NASCAR is now king of Indy.  Why do we say that?  Attendance for the Brickyard 400 is larger, tickets for the Brickyard 400 sell faster, TV ratings are higher, and get this, yesterday's TV rating for the NASCAR race in Vegas was a whopping 13.7/24 share in Indianapolis. Even Indy residents now prefer NASCAR as Indy ratings for the IRL race were not even close to that.  Some people are now saying that Indy Car racing may someday become extinct.  While they may be a bit far-fetched, it's certainly possible given recent trends.  CART is wise to align itself with F1 and road racing and distance itself as far as possible to any comparisons to oval racing or stock car racing, it's not a battle they or the IRL can win.  NASCAR s simply too strong and "Indy Car" racing simply too weak since the split.  It needs to be a unique product catering to a different clientele.

3/3/03

Vegas overnights up 2%  The NASCAR Winston Cup racing success story has added another chapter as the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 fired a 6.3 rating and a 13 share, according to overnight ratings released Monday by Nielsen Media Research. The race dominated the sports television weekend out-rating every other televised event including Tiger Wood's final round win in the Accenture Match Play on ABC by 7% (5.9/11). Head-to-head (3:15-6:15 PM ET), the Las Vegas 400 on FOX out-rated Sunday's golf on ABC by 15% (6.3 vs. 5.5). The race also easily out-rated this weekend's American Cup Gymnastics on NBC (2.5/5), a college basketball tripleheader on CBS (2.6/6), college basketball on ABC (2.4/6), the Toyota Indy 300 on ABC (1.8/4) and regional Arena Football League action on NBC (1.7/3). The rating for the 2003 Las Vegas 400 represents a 2 percent increase over last year's event and makes it the highest-rated race from Las Vegas ever. Numerous markets posted terrific year-to-year gains for the Las Vegas 400. Among the most notable were Northeastern markets such as New York (+15% 2.3 vs. 2.0), Philadelphia (+25%, 6.5 vs. 5.2), Boston (+13%, 5.4 vs. 4.8), Baltimore (+31%, 5.9 vs. 4.5), and Buffalo (+44%, 9.5 vs. 6.6). Other top gaining markets include Sacramento (+43%, 6.3 vs. 4.4), Memphis (+30%, 8.7 vs. 6.7), Kansas City (+27%, 10.5 vs. 8.3), and Phoenix (+19%, 8.3 vs. 7.0). New "regular season" NASCAR on FOX records were posted yesterday in St. Louis (9.1/17) and Indianapolis (13.7/24). The 13.7 in Indianapolis replaces the previous NASCAR regular-season high of 13.4 set just last week. Sunday's Las Vegas 400 is the second highest rated NASCAR regular-season race on FOX ever in Philadelphia (6.5/11) and Phoenix (8.3/18). (FOX Sports Press Release and Mediaweek)

3/3/03

Howard Katz resigns from ABC  IRL supporter, Howard Katz, the president of ABC Sports, will resign March 14 and be replaced by George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN Sports, who will handle both positions. Under the new structure, Bodenheimer will continue to report to Bob Iger, president and COO of ESPN and ABC parent, the Walt Disney Co., but the overall management of ABC Sports will continue to function as part of the ABC Television Network. Mediaweek

3/3/03

IRL opener nets a 1.8 overnight rating  The IRL opener on ABC netted a 1.8 rating and 4 share in the overnights. This is solid showing over last year, with the 2002 opener on ABC on the same weekend finishing with a 1.5 final rating.  Whether the 1.8 will holdup for the final remains to be seen, but the IRL got a last hour boost from those tuning in to see Tiger Woods play following the race.  The 1.8 is comparable to CART's best on CBS last year, but compare that to the 0.2 rating on SPEED for CART's season opener this year and you see why we say SPEED is not working for CART.

3/3/03

CART stock watch 

Today's NYSE Trading In MPH
MPH closed at $3.30 Up $0.03 on Volume of 80,500 shares.
$2.64 Bid - $3.68 Ask on close.
Session Low/High $3.25 / $3.30
MPH Value Change Up 0.92%
DOW Jones Down 53.22 or 0.67% on Volume of 1.4 billion shares.
NASDAQ Down 17.23 or 1.29%
S&P 500 Down 6.34 or 0.75%
Courtesy of C3I.AndersonGroupe - Chicago
www.andersongroupe.com

3/3/03

CART road racers dominate IRL race  UPDATE  A reader writes, With Scott Sharp having done a season of Champ Car (1994 PacWest) before his IRL career, the top non-CART experienced finisher at Homestead was Tomas Scheckter. His Euro-background, driving for an ex-CART team is far from what Tony claims to want in his series. So although he was eighth “overall,” we should award Mr. Scheckter first in class (we’ll ignore the fact that his teammate won.) Giaffone was the next finisher without Champ Car experience in ninth, but cut his teeth in CART’s Toyota Atlantic series. If, in fact, you count all CART series, the only non CART road racer in the top 14 at Homestead was Tomas Scheckter. The others in the top 14 have Champ Car, Toyota Atlantic, Barber Dodge and/or IndyLights experience.  The only driver in the field in addition to Scheckter and Fisher with absolutely no CART experience is A.J. Foyt IV. Is Uncle Tony happy about IV’s SCCA road racing background (!) as opposed to the Midwest Sprint-Car scene? The reality is ultimately very contrary to Tony George's vision for the IRL: The road to the once-hallowed Indy 500 starts with a solid road racing beginning and any CART experience propels you to the head of the class.   3/2/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, I count 9 of the top 12 finishers in today's IRL race as ex-CART road racers.  It looks like all the original IRL teams are pretty much go to resume their place at the back of the pack now that all the good CART teams have come into the IRL.  This just goes to show all along that the IRL was the reject league. I also noticed that Chevy got blown away today, with Hornish the best in 10th. Mordichai Rosen, LA, California.

3/3/03

Can't tell by the crowds FEEDBACK  In response to this Morning Call article - Mr. Reihnard:  I just disagree with your fundamental assumptions in your recent article ("Can't tell by crowds, but IRL is way to go") juxtaposing CART's event at St. Pete and the IRL event at Homestead.  At least you have the sense to state your incredibly obvious bias to go along with your editorial. (I'm biased toward racing on every type of circuit, so I'm a CART fan.) However, the fact remains that the IRL cannot pull a crowd to a race in Homestead, the attendance drops every year in spite of the ex-CART minions in the paddock, their rev-limited, 100%-throttle, low-skill-required all-oval format. Trying to turn the Miami race crowd away from the event in September to make up for the Homestead no-shows, are you?  The team owners (local businessman Tom Kelley, for one) have already stated that the costs of racing in the IRL have *doubled* with the new deals. I kept looking for all the great young dirt-track and USAC stars - maybe they were behind the stands, shading themselves from the sun? Or, maybe they weren't 'race-savvy'? I guess you can consider Andretti, Unser Jr. big names but they are so far past their prime they simply aren't competitive on the road courses anymore. Heck, Michael said so himself on the radio last year during a qualifying session. And, I'm betting, when some of these driver's contracts expire they'll be walking the CART paddock later this year looking for a drive. We'll see... Face it, the IRL has one HUGE event (the 500), a big one in Texas, and the rest of the season is a joke, from an attendance standpoint. CART had MORE total attendance last year than the IRL (including Indy). I guess that's the way to define a 'dead' racing series. I've seen more fans in the esses at Mid-Ohio than total fans at some IRL races, probably including Sunday's event at Homestead. The 500 hasn't been the same since 1995 - just ask anyone who shows up for practice and qualifying during the month of May. I've been there - the crowds of the CART days are simply GONE. Period. Question: "How many yellow flags did they have at last year's 500?" Answer: "Enough to ensure an IRL driver wins." Meanwhile, CART and the city of St. Pete. launch a brand-new event highlighting a 'dead' series, that has more fans in the stands for Friday PRACTICE than Sunday's Homestead RACE. Luckily, for me, I got to see some world-class rookie talent (the likes of Sebastien Bourdais, Mario Haberfeld, Darren Manning, et. al.) show some great CART veterans that they are ready to play in the upper echelons of open-wheel racing. Don't you find it ironic that Albert Unser is driving in the CART Barber Dodge Pro Series? At least Shelley 'gets it'. If you think that the St. Pete race was a parade, you simply must not have been paying attention to the action on the track. Don't expect 63 lead changes in a road race - it's simply an unrealistic expectation. It *should* be hard to pass on a road course!  Besides, road racing requires FAR more skill to perform from a driver standpoint: 100% throttle and turn left versus judiciously accelerating, turning left and right (at various amounts of steering input), braking, shifting, and doing it in the rain, if necessary. The car control learned in road racing is why they can flat out-drive the oval-bred competition. Add in the engineering element required of the team to that mix.  You complain about CART financially supporting their teams and lowering the cost of entry to re-build the series. What do you think the IRL has been doing since it's inception with all it's 500 and Brickyard funding? Pook is just leveling the playing ground.  Tony George, Penske, Ganassi, Michael, and a host of others tried their best to kill CART. They had their chance and couldn't pull it off. Your article, as much as you'd like it to, won't either. Why? Simply put. The IRL can take CART's drivers, their teams, and the manufacturers, but it will never, ever, take away the fans - we're simply too smart and refuse to drink the Kool-Aid or subscribe to whatever version of Tony's 'vision' he's spouting today.  Face it, CART is here to stay. Tony even believes it now. His hammer just wasn't enough. Cancel the funeral. Get on with it - and, I'd recommend to you that you learn to understand and enjoy road racing. As CART says, 'real racing, real sport'!  Paul De Mond   Another letter: The essence of any commercial enterprise is to turn a profit. In order to turn that profit you must sell a product at an appropriate price and in sufficient quantity to cover all costs of production. The difference between selling price and cost is your profit. Profit is the life blood of a business, unless your Enron or WorldCom maybe. In the case of CART and the IRL the sold ticket is the critical measure of consumer demand for their products. >From this simple measure we can deduce 1.) CART is successful and 2.) the IRL is not! Your abstract, borderline apologetic and blind support of the IRL spin doctor’s (I swear there is more spin doctoring goin on in he IRL than in Washington DC these days) most resent excuse for not being able to sell tickets, their “patience” excuse, is simply mind numbing. Rumor, as there is no way The * Grandson will ever tell us for certain, has it that the IRL might have sold 2,500 tickets. It is less a rumor that between Honda, Toyota and Philip Morris an additional 60,000 tickets may have been given away [Editor's Note: This was talk in the Homestead media center and can't be proven] in order to put an estimated 15,000 butts in the grandstands (the grandstands were so embarrassing a site to the IRL that ABC kept the turn 1 camera so tight we could barely see the grandstands at all). Patience? What else can they talk about? “Bide their time and allow the erosion to continue.” Continue to what? ALL IRL tickets are free! Just hang around outside your local 7-11 and wait for the Marlboro rep to throw you a couple dozen? “Bring your friends!” And still NO ONE shows up! Yes, a bunch of the “Big Names” (and old timers) jumped ship do drive around in circles and yes, these teams and their sponsors really only care about one race in May. But how patient will ANY of these sponsors be past May as more-and-more- IRL events mirror Miami? Major blocks of tickets are STILL available for the 500. This was previously unheard of in the history of that event. Gee, ya think the fans might have been as upset (or feed up) about the outcome of last years 500 as Paul Tracy was? Up until this year, when some engine diversity finally showed up in he IRL, passing, other than in the pits, was not any more a common occurrence than it is in a ChampCar race. The big difference between the two being the fact that passing on a road course in always harder than on an oval. It’s the nature of the beast. Just ask a F1 driver. The fact is the motorsports consumer has spoken. Those that prefer the technical sophisticated and arguable the highest level of required driving talent of any form of motorsport are CART and F1 fans and that’s where they will spend their motorsports dollar. Those consumers that prefer managed competition along he lines of the WWF and unsophisticated hardware running around in circles all day long are IRL and NASCAR fans. The fact is NASCAR will put the IRL out of it’s misery before CART will. They’re fighting for the same fan. CART is not. Once again I think we have also proven that motorsports journalism should be left to the full-time professionals NOT beat writers working from press kits. Respectfully. J.N. Anderson, Chicago, IL

3/3/03

Guy Cosmo to make ALMS debut  Guy Cosmo will make his American Le Mans Series debut in the American Spirit Racing Riley & Scott LMP900 for the 51st Annual Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring, March 15. After an impressive testing session in January, Guy was tapped to complete the driver roster for the race. Guy will co-pilot the #12 AmeriSuites/Westward Tools/Dunlop Tires car with Michael Lewis and Tomy Drissi. Cosmo returns to Sebring in 2003 to tackle the teeth-rattling 3.7-mile circuit. Cosmo posted back-to-back podium finishes in the Star Mazda Series races at Sebring in 2001 and 2002. Last season, his third-place finish set him on his way to winning the series championship. This will also mark a return to Dunlop Tires as Cosmo was selected as their test driver in 1999 after securing his first open-wheel championship title. "This is an incredible opportunity for me, I'm very excited," exclaimed Cosmo, a young Long-Island New York native. "American Spirit Racing is putting together a very strong program for American Le Mans this year, and I'm proud to be an integral part of their first outing at the 12 hours of Sebring. I've always said, 'Go big or stay home,' so I feel it's only fitting that my debut in 12 hour starts at the top - in the biggest, baddest cars that American Le Mans has to offer. "Although this is a new undertaking for me, I'll rely on my open-wheel experience and feedback to help get this program up to speed, and my recent experience from the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona to keep this AmeriSuites Riley & Scott LMP900 running clean and strong from start to finish. And you can bet I'll do it all with a big smile!"

3/3/03

Tagliani & Manning to appear at Auto Show  Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford drivers Alex Tagliani (#33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Rocketsports Racing and rookie shoe Darren Manning (#15 Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) of England will visit The Buckeye State this Wednesday, March 5th for the Greater Cleveland Auto Show at the IX Center located near Cleveland’s Hopkins International Airport. Tagliani and Manning will be on hand at the Ford Racing display from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. to sign autographs on behalf of Ford Racing and the Champ Car World Series, along with a Herdez Competition show car that has been featured throughout the duration of the auto show. Prior to the Ford Racing appearance, the duo is slated to sign autographs at the Cleveland Grand Prix Race Event Volunteers (REVs) booth from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m., after a luncheon with print media from 12:30 – 1:45 p.m. on the 15th Floor of the IMG Center in downtown Cleveland. Before stopping at the Auto Show, Tagliani and Manning will spend the morning and early afternoon in Cleveland with media discussing the concept of night racing in preparation for the largest temporary lighting project ever in the world at Burke Lakefront Airport, site of Round 9 of the Champ Car World Series. The July 5th U.S. Bank Presents The Cleveland Grand Prix will be run under the lights as world-renowned Musco Lighting will turn the airport runways into what will be the world’s largest outdoor lighting project. Musco, which has lent its temporary and permanent lighting facilities to events ranging from The Olympic Games to rock concerts, will erect 21 lighting towers to illuminate the racing circuit.

3/3/03

Papis joins JML Panoz team  Highly experienced Formula One, CART and sportscar ace Max Papis will contest the opening three races of the 2003 sportscar year with JML Team Panoz. The Italian racer, nicknamed "Mad Max", will drive the lead Panoz LMP-01 with Olivier Beretta and Gunnar Jeannette at the three endurance events - the 51st annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the six hour ALMS race at Mexico City and the Le Mans 24 Hour. Papis initially made a name for himself in the U.S. aboard sportscars, nearly winning his inaugural Daytona 24 Hour race and taking pole at Sebring in 1996 and is now eagerly awaiting the chance to return to endurance racing. "We have opposition that is definitely going to be very difficult to beat, but the JML team is very motivated and I believe with the strong support of the Elan engine and Michelin tire programs we stand a great chance to really give some people out there some real headaches," Papis said. "Having driven the Panoz recently, I feel the potential of the car is great and I am really looking forward to working with Olivier Berretta who I know from my days in Formula 3000 in Europe. "Gunnar Jeannette is a young and very determined guy and I think the three of us together will make a great team. "Overall we have a great chance but we know we will have to be very focused because the opposition is very tough. "For me, the Le Mans 24 Hour is one of the biggest races I have ever done and I am really looking forward to going back. Finishing sixth in 1997 was a huge thrill." The team is finalizing preparations for the forthcoming Sebring event despite the recent stroke suffered by team owner, John McLoughlin. The chance to work with McLoughlin originally was one of the key factors in Papis joining the JML Team Panoz Squad. "It has been a very difficult week for all us but I will be out there fighting as hard as I can for John because that is what he would want," Papis said. "John is somebody who I have competed against in the past and I have greatly admired him as a competitor and a friend. "He is going through a very difficult time at the moment and at times like this it is very hard to think about racing, but the entire team will be working hard to achieve his goals and his dreams." The remainder of the JML Team Panoz driver line-up is expected to be finalized in the near future. "We are delighted to be able to secure somebody of Max's caliber," JML Team Panoz, Team Manager, Andy Waldrep said. "He tested the car recently and adapted really well. His experience in F1, CART and sportscar racing is going to be a real bonus for our program."

3/3/03

Can't tell by the crowds  This Morning Call article says, .....A week ago, I stood at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg CART season opener and looked for evidence of support from the spectators. It was difficult to find, although the race drew a crowd estimated at between 30,000 and 35,000. They had a great time on a perfect day and seemed not to be concerned about the fact that they saw very little close competition. I could have done the same thing Sunday at Homestead-Miami and witnessed the same absence of series loyalty. The only difference was a noticeable lack of Tampa Bay Buccaneers support. This is Miami Dolphins country. When I looked at the 65,000-seat grandstand 90 minutes prior to the race, I was astonished. The crowd was hundreds, not thousands. So I asked PR guy Phil de Montmollin, ''What gives?'' He said something about Miami people not being race savvy, opting to arrive fashionably late — perhaps even after the start. But, he said, I'd probably see a lot of them looking for shade behind the grandstand. And, sure enough, there they were. They didn't seem to be in any rush to endure the heat. Following the race, the traditional crowd estimates were interesting. Gary Long, long-time motorsports writer for the Miami Herald, said he was willing to be a tad generous: 25,000. One of the media room's major cynics went the other way: 15,000. I went with the generally accepted 20,000. The IRL has some serious concerns. Small teams will find it increasingly difficult to battle with the budgets of the former CART teams. The effects of the economic downturn are obvious. The number of American drivers is shrinking — even though 10 were in the starting lineup Sunday. And empty grandstands don't tend to foster more interest on the part of casual sports fans......And just like the CART folks, the IRL people talk about a need for patience and time. They point to the fact that NASCAR was not a phenomenon overnight. After watching both series open what proves to be another difficult season, I came away with the impression that while CART is well aware that the IRL is not going away, the IRL guys are willing to bide their time and allow the erosion to continue. They do, after all, have the ace of trump: the Indianapolis 500. The big names and the big money are now in the IRL garages. The competition on the ovals of America should be intense. The racing here on Sunday looked far more competitive to me than did the parade on the streets of St. Petersburg [Editor's Note: CART has a way to fix their parades but so far don't deem it necessary even though they are getting hammered for it]. Gil de Ferran cleverly trapped Tony Kanaan behind Jacques Lazier to make a pass for the lead on the 47th lap. I saw nothing close to that at the CART race. Admittedly, I am an oval-track advocate. In 1996, I doubted that the IRL would be around for a second year. Those doubts are long gone. I am now convinced it is the way to go. paul.reinhard@mcall.com.

3/3/03

Brock Yates strikes again  A reader writes, Dear AR1, I see that SPEED TV has published yet another negative CART article by Brock Yates.  They hide behind the veil of the disclaimer Brock Yates is not an employee of SPEED Channel and the views expressed in Mr. Yates' column do not necessarily reflect the views of SPEED Channel, RACER Communications or the staff of RACER Magazine.  However, it's apparent NASCAR controls what goes on behind the scenes at FOX and SPEED and so they continue to publish this guys articles against CART.  His negative barrage is relentless.  SPEED is a partner with CART?  With friends like that who needs enemies.  Not only are CART's ratings on SPEED killing its chances of landing sponsors, they publish articles on their website to further discredit CART.  The best thing CART could do right now is break their contract with SPEED and pay whatever millions it will take to get out.  The loss can't compare with the loss of sponsorship and the future health of the series. It might be the best investment they ever made.  Buy time on CBS.  Last year proved CART's ratings were good (all 1+) as soon as the races moved to CBS.  Jeff Barucki, Chicago, IL  Dear Jeff, yes it's apparent SPEED is not working for CART, and they would be wise to get in bed with CBS instead.  Cutting its losses now might be the best thing it could do, but it is probably too late to get any inventory on CBS this year.  We have always said that SPEED does a good job, but the ratings are just not there.  We talk to a lot of people who say they just can't get SPEED from their cable TV company, leading us to question the number of households they are really in.  Mark C.

3/3/03

Andretti retirement news  With less than 90 days remaining before he retires from active competition, auto racing legend Michael Andretti announced today that he is issuing a limited edition autograph card and will introduce a line of collectibles and memorabilia as part of his efforts to encourage race fans to join him in counting down the days until his final appearance in the Indianapolis 500. More....

3/3/03

GM says no to Yates engine idea  Doug Duchardt, GM's NASCAR field manager, dismissed Robert Yates' proposal that NASCAR consider a new engine for the stock-car tour within the next five years, saying it's just a publicity move for Ford's new 4.2-liter double overhead cam engine, used in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Duchardt said that an engine like that, when prepped for NASCAR racing, "would produce 1,000 horsepower." And Duchardt says that the proposal to move toward fuel injection instead of carburetion probably won't fly. [Editor's Note: NASCAR is better off adopting the IRL's rev-limited 3.5 L overhead cam engine that makes about 700 HP.  Before it's all said and done, that is what we expect NASCAR will do.  You can bet Honda and Toyota will lobby hard for it]  Winston Salem Journal

3/3/03

BAR Honda update  The new ten-cylinder Honda engine has a revised V-angle and is lighter and more powerful than its predecessor. Honda’s engineers have also achieved an improved torque curve to increase the drivability of the RA003E power plant – a factor which should bear fruit in the second half of the season after some of the current ‘driver aids’ including traction control are removed from the cars. As well as providing B·A·R with an upgraded engine, Honda has also expanded its joint chassis program with its British partner team since the end of last season. To reinforce this relationship, more than 20 of Honda R&D’s chassis technology engineers are now based at B·A·R’s Operations Centre in Brackley. The joint chassis program is an essential part of Honda’s core philosophy of developing its young designers and engineers by exposing them to the challenges of Formula One – a highly competitive training ground that demands innovation and quick decision making. Lessons learned at the cutting edge of motor sport are then transfer There have been other major changes at B·A·R Honda, too, with a new driver line-up as well as a new chassis. Jacques Villeneuve remains with B·A·R Honda to provide continuity but for 2003 Jenson Button and Takuma Sato join the Canadian former champion. Button has signed a long-term contract with the team while Sato has been named as ‘reserve driver’ and will play a major role in development testing of the latest B·A·R Honda 005 away from the Grands Prix. The 005 is the first chassis designed under the guidance of Technical Director, Geoffrey Willis, and it is noticeably neater and sleeker than last year’s model; encouragingly both race team drivers have voiced their optimism for the chassis during pre-season testing. B·A·R has also reinforced its management structure under Team Principal, David Richards, and now benefits from a stronger commercial partnership with Honda – a change that has resulted in stronger Honda branding on the two 2003 race cars.

3/3/03

Who is Scott Mayer?  A lot of people asked who Scott Mayer was as they had never heard of him.  Scott Mayer came from the CART Barber Dodge Pro Series (3rd rung on CART ladder system) where he was typically several seconds per lap off the pace and pretty much out to lunch at most venues.  Recognizing he wasn't going to make it in demanding road course racing, he is trying his hand at other racing.    Mark C.

3/3/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Button Charges For World Title
Discretion The Key For Michelin
Fernando Feels The Pressure
JV Buoyed For 'Fun' Grand Prix
Good And Bad News At Ferrari
GPWC Headhunting 'New Bernie'
Schumacher Admits F1 Cost Crisis
Points System Is 'Rubbish': MW
Opposition Spells Suicide For F1
Friday Advantage Outlined
Rubens Primed To Push Michael
Juan and Kimi Out For Respect
Podium Target For 'All-New' BAR
Panis: Surprise Of The Season?
Jos Expects Tough F1 Return
Renault Defend 'Smart' Friday Move
Bernie Tells All In Biography
F1 Jumbos Land For Aussie Race
Frank Appraisal Of BAR Line-Up
Pierre: F1 Changing Focus
Button 'Can't Wait' For Fourth
Jungle-Boy Impressed With Oz
Teams Pass Up Testing Advantage?
Stoddart Bites Back At Dennis

3/2/03

Ecclestone wants to rip up Concorde  Bernie Ecclestone would like to rip up the ever-complicating Formula One rulebook and start again, the 72-year-old has stated.  The F1 impresario told British media on the weekend: 'The regulations do not reflect today's values and what we need to be doing now.  'If everybody got around a table, we could start work on it now, but I need the teams and the rest to say they want change.'  Ecclestone brands the present situation in the sport - involving threats of arbitration from unhappy teams and manufacturers vowing to 'break away' - a nightmare.  'The whole thing has become a nightmare,' he said. 'We've got to bring everything up to date to put an end to all these things that have been going on.'   Bernie says he'll appease the manufacturer's demands for a more equitable slice of the revenue pie – starting with the buy-back of the commercial rights from German banks – if everyone agrees to sign a new Concorde Agreement.   He adds: 'Formula One doesn't need this sort of trouble and we need to find a way to negotiate a new Concorde Agreement so teams can be looked after and we can see the future clearly.'  The man unanimously referred to as F1 'supremo' reckons all the problems, such as waning numbers on the grid, would be solved if a new and better Concorde was penned.  Concorde, the highly-secretive agreement seen by no-one except the FIA, F1 teams and Bernie Ecclestone, is not set to expire until 2007 with GPWC planning its debut a year later.  Bernie continues: 'We have gone from having 36 cars and pre-qualifying to struggling to keep 20 on the grid,' he said. 'The changes happening now won't stop people spending money.   'If a manufacturer has £200 million to spend, they will spend it. That is why we need to address the issues now in a new Concorde Agreement and not wait until things run away with us.'   Speculation hints that Bernie's family trust, SLEC, has offered up to £1 billion for the 75 percent Formula One rights.

3/2/03

Hats off to Toyota  In their very first IRL race Toyota finishes 1-2-3.  A fantastic result and it just goes to show how far they have come since their early days in CART when their engines blew like firecrackers.  In F1 their engines are recognized as being among the most powerful, this in their first year.  Mark C.

3/2/03

Road racers dominate Infiniti Pro race  Mark Taylor won the Western Union 100 in his first IRL Infiniti Pro Series start on March 2, continuing Panther Racing’s mastery of Homestead-Miami Speedway. Taylor, from London, beat rookie pole sitter Thiago Medeiros to the finish by 1.2860 seconds. He averaged 134.257 mph for the victory in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Brandon Erwin finished third in the No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry. The victory continued Panther Racing’s perfect mastery of Indy Racing League events at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami track. Sam Hornish Jr. won the IRL IndyCarTM Series events at the track for Panther in 2001 and 2002, while Taylor opened Panther’s first Infiniti Pro Series season with a victory. “I can’t believe I’ve won the first race,” Taylor said. “It’s my first race on an oval, first win on an oval. I can’t say much more than that. The Panther guys did a great job. The car was so good. I was just happy to finish the 67 laps, and most of them in the lead. “It’s just a great feeling to win the first race this year. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue on as far as the rest of the year is concerned.”

3/2/03

Michael wishes his father was there  This Kansas City Star article says - As a race-team owner, Michael Andretti was in all his glory Saturday afternoon. As a son, he was in a funk. Andretti was sitting on a dais after qualifying for today's Toyota 300 IRL IndyCar Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He had qualified second, and Tony Kanaan -- one of two other drivers for Andretti Green Racing -- won the pole. The interview session had a lighthearted tone until the subject of Andretti's father, racing legend Mario Andretti, came up. Michael Andretti was asked if he was disappointed that Mario wouldn't be at the race for his son's debut as a team owner. The tone and volume of Michael Andretti's voice noticeably changed. "Yeah, I wish he was here," Michael said. Mario Andretti will not be in Florida this weekend because of a previous commitment in California -- and because of his principles. In the eight-year-long war between the IRL and CART, Mario Andretti remains unbending in his support for CART and unwavering in his criticism of the IRL and its founder, president and CEO, Tony George. "CART is still where my heart is," Mario said. Late last year, Michael Andretti, CART's all-time victories leader with 42, announced that he was leaving that series. He announced that he was buying the team for which he was driving -- Team Green -- and moving it to the IRL. Mario Andretti did not react favorably. He was hurt, very hurt. Eddie Cheever Jr., an IRL driver and owner, said Michael Andretti's decision to switch allegiances had to be tough. "He has shown a lot of independence from his father, which must be very difficult to do because his father detests this series with a passion," Cheever said.

3/2/03

F1 manufacturers looking for their own Bernie  Renault's Patrick Faure has hinted that Formula One carmakers are looking for someone to replace the sport's head Bernie Ecclestone. "We asked a head hunter to find a new Bernie. He would have an international scale, would know sport well, (be) skilful in terms of marketing and of TV rights, but above all he would be a real boss," Faure said in an interview with Le Journal du dimanche. "To avoid any suspicion, this person will not be one of ours, even if Luca Di Montezemolo (Ferrari's boss) has the ideal profile," he added. The majors carmakers involved in Formula One are currently in talks with the banks about taking a stake while also planning their own series from 2008. "It is a good way to put the pressure on if we don't find a deal with the banks and Bernie Ecclestone's family trust who hold the commercial rights of the F1," Faure said. Ecclestone's family trust has 25 percent of the holding company SLEC. "The part due to the carmakers is today insufficient. Bernie and the commercial partners have to make an effort," he explained.

3/2/03
Industry News

SAFER test delayed  Inclement weather in Lincoln, Neb., has delayed a test on an energy-absorbing barrier [SAFER] that could be used at Richmond International Raceway this spring. The test, conducted at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska, was to have been held this week. It now is scheduled for the week of the Darlington race, a NASCAR official said. If the barrier is approved by Darlington, RIR officials would have seven weeks to install the system. That should be enough time to have the barriers installed before the Busch Grand National race on May2. If the barrier is approved, other tracks such as New Hampshire International Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway could begin installing the safety devices. Roanoke Times

3/2/03

Headed for extinction?  Is open wheel racing on oval tracks headed for extinction in the USA? We certainly thought so two years ago when we published the article Beating a dead horse, where's my fork?  Since then no facts have emerged to change our opinion.  Last years IRL attendance was down again even with Team Penske jumping ship to the IRL.  This year ticket sales are way off for the Indy 500 and if early indicators are any barometer, today's race in Homestead will have a dismal crowd.  Stock Car racing has become very successful in the USA (so successful it now dwarfs all sports except the NFL), while open wheel racing, after the Tony George IRL split, has tumbled, especially on the ovals.  These two "Saturday" crowd shots from NASCAR in Las Vegas (Left) and the IRL in Homestead (Right) underscore just how close Indy Car racing (an IRL trademark) is to complete extinction, even with all the "stars" and big engine manufacturers in the series now.  Sunday are the big races, Winston Cup and the IRL main event.  Let's see how the crowds compare.


Left Photo by CIA Photo, right by Ron McQueeney/IRL

3/2/03

Track record?  We think not  In this Homestead press release, and on the IRL website, it states "Tony Kanaan won his first series pole March 1 with a track-record lap of 26.5278 seconds, 203.560 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. The previous track record was 202.884 set by Sam Hornish Jr. in 2002."  It appears the staff at Homestead has no clue as to what their own track record is.  What about the late Greg Moore's pole speed of 24.856 at 217.541 mph set in a Champ Car?  The 100% throttle IRL cars are still a whopping 14 mph off the pace. Perhaps it was simply an error on their part, or total disrespect to the Moore family, but this false propaganda was regurgitated by many media outlets who simply reprint portions of the press release without knowing the facts..  Mark C.

3/2/03

Homestead attendance  UPDATE Same scene on Saturday for the IRL.  About 50 people in the grandstands at Homestead. Pretty much the only people in attendance were the races teams themselves, plus TV crews and Speedway personnel.  3/1/03 - While CART enjoyed a 12,000 fan attendance on Friday (a work day) for its season opener in St. Petersburg, the IRL did not fare so well at Homestead yesterday where the Friday crowd was perhaps 100, as can be see in the photo to the right.  Hopefully Saturday will bring more people. Photo: Darrell Ingham/Getty

3/1/03

Schu says F1 costs must come down  World champion Michael Schumacher, warming up for the defense of his title, has warned against soaring costs in Formula One. "I can understand efforts to make access to Formula One more affordable," the Ferrari driver told German Sunday newspaper Welt am Sonntag. "The costs at the moment are too high and not only for the small teams," the five-times champion added. Schumacher also said he was hurt by criticism saying the sport had become less attractive, partly because of overwhelming domination by himself and Ferrari. "It is odd, not to say paradoxical, to have the feeling that you have to apologise for doing such a great job," he said.

3/1/03

France family heir wins in Homestead  JC France, son of the France family's Jim France (brother of Bill, and President of ISC and Executive VP of NASCAR) and Hurley Haywood beat a slim field of only 16 cars with Brumos Porsche, winning the Nextel Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Haywood started the car on the second row, but faded back slightly during his stint at the wheel of the #59 Porsche. However, France was able bring the Porsche back to the front of the pack after their pit stop before handing the controls back to Haywood for the run to the finish. "I kind of wore myself out (bringing the car to the front), but once we got up there a couple guys pitted and we had a pretty good lead so I was able to back it down a little bit and try to run the endurance race like Hurley was doing and try to save myself, the tires and the car. It was all there at the end. I think Hurley turned a 1:19 in his last couple of laps," remarked France about his first-ever road racing victory.

3/1/03

Did police go easy on Stewart?  UPDATE Two Ormond Beach, FL police officers were cleared Friday of sparing NASCAR driver Tony Stewart a speeding ticket in exchange for a picture with him, even though Stewart bragged on a radio show about avoiding a citation. A police car videotape shows one officer taking a picture of the other officer with Stewart after the race car driver was pulled over in a yellow Ferrari, but Chief Larry Mathieson said the officers didn't break any rules and didn't have enough hard evidence to give Stewart a ticket anyway. "We think they got caught up in the moment," Mathieson said. "They're good cops and they're honest guys. I don't think we need to overreact to something that was a momentary lapse in judgment." The allegations of special treatment for the NASCAR bad boy started flying after patrol officers Anthony Zimmerer, 26, and Michael Bakaysa, 33, pulled Stewart over just before 1 a.m. on Feb. 9. Zimmerer, who has been with the department less than three years, was at the corner of Ridgewood Avenue and Granada Boulevard when he saw the yellow car zip eastward toward the Granada Bridge. Zimmerer radioed in that he thought the vehicle was going about 72 mph in the 35 mph zone. But Zimmerer never got a digital reading that decisively showed Stewart's speed. The police car videotape showed Bakaysa taking a picture of a grinning Zimmerer with Stewart after Zimmerer ran Stewart's license. Zimmerer still has the autographed Polaroid photograph, which will be donated for an upcoming fund-raiser, Mathieson said. A few days after the stop, Stewart was former NASCAR racer Benny Parson's guest on a live WNDB-AM radio show broadcast from Volusia Square Mall. During that show, Stewart told Parsons he was driving 72 mph in a 35 mph zone and claimed the officer said: "If I let you off, can I take a picture with you?" Stewart claimed he responded, "Shoot yeah! You can burn the whole roll of Polaroids off for all I care. Just let me go home." During an internal investigation, the 31-year-old racing phenom told police supervisors that Zimmerer had already given him a verbal warning and he was free to go when the officers asked about a picture. Investigators said Stewart conceded he "did in fact stretch the truth" during the radio show "because it made for a better story." Zimmerer and Bakaysa were never taken off duty or disciplined. They have, however, been ordered to take part in a four-hour seminar on ethics and professionalism at Daytona Beach Community College in July. Daytona Beach News Journal  2/25/03 - Ormond Beach police have started an internal investigation into the Feb. 9 traffic stop of NASCAR bad boy Tony Stewart. Police are investigating whether two officers involved in Stewart's early morning traffic stop let him off too easily because of his superstar status, Ormond Beach police spokesman Sgt. Mark Walker said. Stewart, the defending Winston Cup champion, was pulled over in a yellow Ferrari just before 1 a.m. Feb. 9 after Patrol Officer Anthony Zimmerer saw the car fly past him on the Granada Bridge, Walker said. Zimmerer said another passing vehicle prevented his radar from accurately clocking Stewart's speed, Walker said. Stewart was stopped by patrol officer Michael Bakaysa. Then he got a warning, rather than a ticket, from Zimmerer. Stewart's spokesman, Mike Arning, said Monday he could not confirm or deny reports that Stewart discussed the traffic stop on a local radio show Feb. 12. Daytona Beach News Journal

3/1/03

Ferrari signs 3-year Olympus deal  Ferrari announced today that it has reached a sponsorship agreement with Olympus, a world leader in digital appliances and medical equipment. The agreement runs to the end of the 2005 season.  Olympus has a history in F1.  They were a primary sponsor on Mario Andretti's car when he won the Formula One World Driving Championship in 1978. 
(Photo by Mark Cipolloni - 1978, Watkins Glen, NY)

3/1/03

Four Infiniti Pro rookies crash, road racer takes pole  Tricky conditions created by gusty winds caught three drivers during qualifying. Rookies Tom Wood and Paul Dana crashed during their runs. Neither driver was hurt, and both will join Ed Carpenter – who was unhurt during a crash in morning practice – at the rear of the field. Matt Beardsley also will start from the rear after spinning in qualifying. He made no contact with the wall.  Rookie Thiago Medeiros will make his first IRL Infiniti Pro Series start from the pole March 2 after capturing the top spot for the Western Union 100 in qualifying March 1 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Medeiros, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, turned a lap of 32.1756 seconds, 167.829 mph in the No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone to claim the pole. Fellow rookie Mark Taylor will start on the outside of the front row after qualifying second at 32.4509, 166.405 in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther entry. Capturing the pole continued a weekend of dominance for Medeiros, a veteran of South American road racing who stands above the rest of the Infiniti Pro Series field at 6-foot-5. He turned the fastest speed of practice Friday and led practice this morning on the 1.5-mile oval. “I’m very happy,” Medeiros said. “This is my first experience with the oval circuits. It’s my first race here. This is the best way to start the season. I’m pretty happy, but the most important is the race. “We have a very good car, good balance. The draft of the car is very different because you lose a lot of downforce. We’re still working.”

3/1/03

Michael Andretti tops final practice in Homestead  Michael Andretti, Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish topped the charts in morning practice for the Toyota Indy 300.  Andretti turned a lap at 204.609 MPH while Castroneves and Hornish were at 203+.  Pole qualifying begins at 1:15 PM.  Qualifying order:

No.|Driver
7|Michael Andretti
27|Dario Franchitti
4|Sam Hornish Jr.
55|Roger Yasukawa
21|Felipe Giaffone
8|Scott Sharp
18|Scott Mayer
11|Tony Kanaan
10|Tomas Scheckter
6|Gil de Ferran
2|Jaques Lazier
5|Shigeaki Hattori
14|A.J. Foyt IV
24|Robbie Buhl
12|Tora Takagi
52|Buddy Rice
9|Scott Dixon
15|Kenny Brack
23|Sarah Fisher
31|Al Unser Jr.
3|Helio Castroneves

3/1/03

Team Rensi to debut at Atlanta   Team Rensi Motorsports will make their NASCAR Winston Cup debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend in the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 with driver, Bobby Hamilton, Jr., who pilots the team’s No. 25 Marines Ford Taurus in the NASCAR Busch Series. Hamilton, Jr. will compete in the No. 35 Ford Taurus, which will have a very familiar look. Both of Team Rensi’s current advertising partners will be featured on the car. The United States Marine Corps as the primary advertising partner and the Timberland Company (on behalf of its Timberland PRO series) as associate advertising partner.

3/1/03
Russell Racing

Race Driving School Special  The Jim Russell Racing Drivers School is now offering special discounts to Infineon Raceway patrons. For a limited time, you can take an open-wheel racing course or performance driving program at Infineon Raceway and save 15 % off the retail price. Jim Russell programs make great gifts for that special someone who loves racing. They offer programs for people of all ages and can customize a gift certificate for the racing fan in your life for a present they will never forget. They also offer custom company driving programs for large and small groups designed to recognize employees and customers for their hard work and business with a day a the race track. For more information, please visit www.jimrussellusa.com or call 800-733-0345. Be sure to mention this email to receive your 15% discount.

3/1/03

Sharp crashes  Scott Sharp was the fastest driver during the first day of practice for the Toyota Indy 300 on Friday, but he could face an uphill challenge in MBNA Pole Qualifying this afternoon after crashing in practice this morning at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 1996 series co-champion Sharp was unhurt and cleared to drive after hitting the wall in Turn 4 of the 1.5-mile oval, and his No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone came to rest just short of the start-finish line. Sharp climbed from the car without assistance. There was damage to the right rear of the car and slight damage to the right front suspension. The right end plate of the rear wing was missing.

3/1/03

Is it CART or is it the IRL?  This Miami Herald article says, The face of the Indy Racing League, 2003 vintage, lends undeniable credence to initial suspicions that Tony George's true quest in launching the IRL in 1996 was to force the powers in open-wheel racing to dance to his tune. Mission accomplished......Toyota and Honda have shifted their horsepower wars, not to mention the ever-escalating costs, to the IRL, no doubt to the great consternation of Chevrolet. Whatever happened to those trumpeted initial goals of creating opportunity for American drivers from short-oval ranks and making racing affordable to moderately budgeted team owners? Subterfuge or misjudgment?......Thankfully, Dreyer and Reinbold Racing belatedly scraped together a one-race sponsorship for Sarah Fisher. Otherwise, no driver on the Homestead entry list would be considered a true product of the Midwest short ovals......The economy certainly is a culprit. Racing director Brian Barnhart's estimate last fall that the IRL might have up to 30 entries has been undermined by teams' need to purchase new equipment this year. Barnhart says he expects the lineup to increase to 25 or 26 entries at Phoenix on March 23 and to remain at that level for all except the Indy 500. Only time will tell. CART's Chris Pook already has surprised those who forecast CART's demise by producing a successful 2003 season opener with 19 cars at St. Petersburg last weekend. But given the IRL's marketing successes, its ABC/ESPN television package and its TV-friendly, wheel-to-wheel racing, there is no doubt the IRL stands on firm terrain. Still, one of its primary unspoken selling points is that the IRL surely looks more like CART than CART does.

3/1/03

Bradley Motorsports deal falls apart  The Indy Star news reports that But the Bradley Motorsports effort for Jeff Ward has fallen apart, according to chief mechanic Owen Snyder, who is in Homestead looking for employment.

3/1/03

Foyt crashes again  UPDATE This Speed Channel photo by LAT shows the real damage to Foyt's car.  White walled the tires did he?  Castoneves, who was diving under the rookie at the time, blamed the crash on the wind and the rookie's inexperience.  “It was a huge change in the wind,” Castroneves said. “He was inside and trying to go high to let me go under. He just went a little off the line and there was no turning back.”  It was Foyt's 3rd crash in as many weeks.  2/28/03 - The real A.J. Foyt he is not.  Many have said his grandson is in over his head, that he needed another year in the Infiniti Pro Series cars.  He crashed at the last test in Homestead.  Rookie A.J. Foyt IV was unhurt again today after brushing the wall in Turn 4 this afternoon at Homestead-Miami Speedway, forcing the early ending of the final practice session of the day for the Toyota Indy 300. Foyt "white-walled" the outside retaining wall hard (how do you white wall and also hit it hard?  White wall means you barely scrapped the wall with the tires) in Turn 4 of the 1.5-mile oval in the No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.  He was 14 mph off the pace today. IRL and AR1

3/1/03
WoO

Scenes from Vegas World of Outlaws   (Left to Right) 1. Tim Schaffer won the J.D. Byrider Shootout on Friday night, February 28, 2003, at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This was Schaffer's first O'Reilly World of Outlaws feature win of the 2003 season.  2. (83) Tim Schaffer made the last turn pass for the victory in the J.D. Byrider Shootout feature as the engine expired in race leader (1) Jason Meyers sprint car. The win on Friday night, February 28, 2003, at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was Schaffer's first O'Reilly World of Outlaws feature win of the 2003 season.   3. This front stretch tangle on the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the second O'Reilly World of Outlaws qualifying heat involved seven cars, with (0) Dennis Moore Jr and (15) Donny Schatz flipping. The race was red flagged, but both drivers were uninjured in the Friday night, February 28, 2003, J.D. Byrider Shootout.


Photos by David Allio

3/1/03

$4 billion loss for Fiat  Fiat reported that the company lost $4 billion in 2002, twice what was expected.  What effect this has on its Ferrari F1 program, if any, remains to be seen, but the cost cutting measures in F1 that are coming, should save F1 from, dare we say, losing Ferrari. When you lose $4 billion, you don't waste $300 on a F1 program, the creditors won't allow it.  Does anyone still think Ron Dennis and Frank Williams are going to beat Max and Bernie's paln to overhaul F1?  If so, think again.  Mark C.

3/1/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Schu Faces Tougher Challenge
Ralph Touches Down For Debut
McNish Ready For Friday Role
Pizzonia Aims To Take It Easy
New Idea Would Wipe Minardi Out
Sauber Pair Feeling Positive
Ralf Turns Heads At Jerez Track
Mixed Feelings For F1 Rookie
Bridgestone Aim For Aussie Win
Juan And Ralf Head Down-Under
Walkinshaw In 'Over His Head'
Frank: Ralf Ready For World Title
Sauber Passes Up Friday Option
Webber Eyes '02 Melbourne Repeat
Melbourne Race 'Less Predictable'

2/28/03

Papis bullish on CART   Max Papis was at Homestead today checking out the scene in the IRL.  He told us he was very impressed with what he saw in St. Petersburg last weekend.  "The crowd was big and very enthusiastic," stated Papis.  "The number of people I saw there really impressed me, especially on Friday and Saturday.  I don't think anyone was expecting it."  We asked him about his prospects for a ride in CART this year.  He stated, "Chris Pook and CART are really trying hard and I am going to Europe tomorrow to try and drum up some sponsorship so I can take the 2nd seat at Fittipaldi Dingman racing.  We are working very hard at it.  I am also going to talk to Italian TV.  They were going to broadcast the CART races this year, but then my deal fell apart and they dropped it.  I am going to try and change that."  "I am doing the TV pre-race show with Alex Zanardi for the F1 season opener next weekend."  "I am also going to talk to my friends at Monza again.  They were very interested in a CART race years ago and I'm going to see if they are still interested.  I tell you that if CART raced at Monza it would be really big."   [Editor's note: and if they did race at Monza, CART will need Italian drivers like Papis, Pantano, and Cipolloni.....OK we're kidding about that last guy] Mark C.

2/28/03

LVMS to add Earnhardt Terrace   Las Vegas Motor Speedway will honor the memory of Dale Earnhardt by naming its soon-to-be-constructed grandstand for the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion. The new seating area will be known as the Dale Earnhardt Terrace. Speedway officials also announced that the new construction, initially announced as a net of 10,000 new seats, will instead be increased to a net of 15,000. Approximately 6,000 seats will be removed so that the 21,000-seat Earnhardt Terrace can be built. Each of the new seats will be of the “flip-down” variety. “The decision to build the Earnhardt Terrace is indicative of the great support for motorsports in the Las Vegas community,” said Bruton Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports. “In the four years since SMI acquired Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we’ve experienced tremendous growth and found Las Vegas to be a perfect home for racing. This addition will afford us the opportunity to bring thousands of new race fans into Las Vegas and provide another large boost to the Nevada economy.” LVMS General Manager Chris Powell said the speedway had been searching for a fitting way to honor Earnhardt since his death in February, 2001. "We’ve been communicating with Teresa (Earnhardt) on this for several weeks,” Powell said. “She’s been wonderful to work with. We both agree that the only way to honor Dale is in a first-class manner, befitting his commitment to excellence. “Seats in the Earnhardt Terrace will offer the finest views in motorsports. In addition to seeing great racing action, fans also will have a tremendous view of the world-famous Las Vegas Strip.” All grandstand seating for this Sunday’s race has been sold out for more than two weeks. LVMS has sold infield-access passes since Feb. 11. Speedway officials two weeks ago announced intentions to build 10,000 additional seats, but the interest in this year’s event and the numerous telephone calls about the planned new seats helped ratchet up the number. “There already is tremendous interest in these new seats,” Powell said. “I only wish they were available today, because a lot of race fans have been unable to purchase seats for this Sunday’s UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400.” The Earnhardt Terrace will tower over the existing grandstand that sits adjacent to the beginning of the frontstretch. The structure will include a mezzanine lever that features concession stands and restrooms.” Powell said the new seats will bring additional fans and thus additional revenue to the state. “The Earnhardt Terrace will positively affect the tremendous impact that the speedway has on the local economy,” Powell said. “It will impact everything from hotel rooms, restaurants, airlines, car rentals and, of course, gaming. The list goes on and on.” Weekend ticket holders to this year’s UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 will have the first opportunity to upgrade to the new seats. Public sale of tickets will begin in September. However, race fans may call the speedway ticket office at 1-800-644-4444 to be placed on a waiting list for the new seats.

2/28/03
Industry News

Volkswagen expects 17% increase in China  Germany's Volkswagen aims to sell 600,000 cars on the mainland this year, up 17 per cent on last year.  It underscores the pace in the world's fastest-growing major car market. Volkswagen, which controls about 40 per cent of China's market, also said it aimed to make 30,000 to 40,000 of its low-priced Gol car this year, which analysts said was meant to safeguard market share. "That is just a target for us," said Ma Jinhua, a Volkswagen official, quoting yesterday's speech in Shanghai by the company's Asia-Pacific region chief Bernd Leissner. China's dominant carmaker last year sold 513,000 cars in the country - a jump of nearly 43 per cent. It expects sales on the mainland, its second-biggest market after Germany, to hit the one million mark by 2007.  Reuters

2/28/03

Bentley coming to USA  Nothing screams “England” quite like a Bentley, and a British racing green Bentley sporting Union Jacks in its motif almost conjures up the familiar strains of “Rule Britannia.” After an absence of more than 70 years, a factory-backed racing Bentley will compete on American soil when two beautiful Bentley Prototypes race in the 51st annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The cars will be among the starting field of some 60 that will compete in America’s oldest sports car race Mar. 12-15 at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, the first race of the 2003 American Le Mans Series season. The impending North American debut of the Bentley has become the story of Sebring for 2003. For the past two years, the cars have competed only in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but their sleek, curvy lines and overall sexiness have made them favorites among race fans around the world. The British manufacturer is pulling out all of the stops in its effort to score victories in 2003 at both Sebring and later this year at Le Mans. Not only has a top-notch team of engineers and crew been assembled, Bentley has also put together a six-man driving lineup that can only be described as “all-star.” Three of the six are former Formula One stars, with one owning three F1 race wins. Four are former winners of the 12 Hours of Sebring, with two of them having two wins in the event. Two are former winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and four of the six are past race winners in the American Le Mans Series. Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell, both of England, and Australian David Brabham will share one of the Bentleys at both Sebring and Le Mans. All are former Formula One drivers, with Herbert having claimed three wins before retiring from the championship two years ago. Herbert is also a former winner of both Le Mans and Sebring, while Brabham has seven career ALMS wins. Sharing the other Bentley will be defending American Le Mans Series champion Tom Kristensen of Denmark, Rinaldo Capello of Italy and Guy Smith of England. Kristensen and Capello are two-time Sebring winners, with Capello part of the winning team the past two years. Kristensen is also a four-time Le Mans winner, including the past three consecutive. After an absence from racing of 71 years, Bentley returned with an entry at Le Mans in 2001 and finished third. The closed-roof racer also competed in the French endurance racing classic in 2002 and finished fourth. The participation in Sebring will mark the first time that a factory Bentley has raced in the United States since an entry in the Indianapolis 500 in 1922. The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will start at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 15, at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway. Ticket information is available online at www.sebringraceway.com or by calling (863) 655-1442, or toll-free in Florida (800) 626-RACE. Four classes of American Le Mans Series cars will compete in the event, and some 60 cars are expected to take the green flag.

2/28/03

Happy Birthday Mario & Sebastien   UPDATE It's also Sebastien Bourdais' birthday today.   2/28/03 - America's greatest driver ever, Mario Andretti, turns 63 today.  Happy Birthday Mario!

2/28/03

Donahue takes pole for Homestead  David Donohue earned the pole position today during qualifying for Saturday's Nextel Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Donohue clocked a 1:16.982 lap time at 112.234 mph to take the top spot, while Terry Borcheller recorded a 111.892 mph lap in 1:17.217 to put the Bell Motorsports #54 Chevy-powered Doran JE4 Daytona Prototype in the outside pole position. "The guys have done a phenomenal job. We missed the first practice yesterday, so we have only been on the track today. We had a big fuel leak yesterday," explained Donohue. "I think it's going to be an interesting race. The Doran has done two or three hours driving and look where it is. And here we have all of this development on our car . . . but to have them that close is rather uncomfortable."  Only 17 cars qualified for this, an endurance race.

2/28/03

Ex-CART drivers dominate the day in Homestead  Ex-CART driver Scott Sharp led the morning session.  Times were slower in the afternoon due to the heat.  Ex-CART driver and 1998 IRL IndyCar Series champion Kenny Brack, returning to the series full time this season, was fastest in the afternoon session at 27.1228 seconds, 199.094 mph in the No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Tony Kanaan was second at 27.2352, 198.273 in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, while Tomas Scheckter rounded out the top three at 27.2941, 197.845 in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.

2/28/03

Brazilian road racer leads Pro drivers  Once again a foreign road racer proves adapting to an oval is a piece of cake.  Rookie Thiago Medeiros was fastest overall in two sessions of practice at 32.6014 seconds, 165.637 mph in the No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Tom Wood was second at 32.7319, 164.977 in the No. 9 Super 8 Motels/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry on the 1.5-mile oval. Both laps came in the morning session. Medeiros, from Brazil, is making a quick transition from South American road racing to American oval racing. “I’m still learning,” Medeiros said. “Everything here is new to me. We did a test here two weeks ago, and the communication between (engineer) Thomas (Knapp) and me is very good. “I came from road circuits, and the driving style is completely different on ovals. But I came from South American Formula 3, and the balance of the car is very similar to the Infiniti Pro Series car. Thomas has helped me to adapt. I know I can win some races, but I’m still learning. I’m a rookie. I’m very happy.”

2/28/03

Access Motorsports picks G-Force  The Panoz G Force assault on the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series has been bolstered by the addition of Access Motorsports - the first Honda-powered team to use the new GF09 chassis. The team has its sights set on making its debut with former IRL IndyCar series champion Greg Ray behind the wheel at Phoenix on March 23. Access Motorsports joins Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Mo Nunn Racing and AJ Foyt Enterprises in using the Panoz G Force chassis. "The Panoz G Force certainly showed at the 'Test in The West' that it is the chassis to have this year and the performance at the Speedway is always strong as well," Ray said. "We are very excited about becoming the first Honda powered Panoz G Force on the grid. Having the right package of engine, chassis and personnel is very important and we believe we are putting all the right pieces of the puzzle together. "Our plan is try and debut the car at Phoenix but we know we have a lot of preparation to do prior to that."

2/28/03

Judge slams Walkinshaw  A High Court judge has accused Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw of being "in over his head" running a Formula One team. Four former backers are suing Walkinshaw and Arrows after the Formula One team went into liquidation last month. During Friday's hearing, the judge, Mr Justice Pumfrey, called Walkinshaw's business acumen seriously into question. "Mr Walkinshaw left me with the clear impression of a man who was in over his head," the judge said. "He appeared to lack the clarity of thought necessary to follow a clear policy. "He obviously had a high opinion of his own business abilities, but my impression was different." The judge went on to say Walkinshaw's behavior had in certain respects fallen well below the standards to be expected from the managing director of a large company. He said the team chief had shown "wholesale disregard for the interests of Arrows Grand Prix's creditors" though he did not consider he had been dishonest.

2/28/03

Jerez Day 4  Ralf Schumacher broke the Jerez lap record on the final day of pre-season testing at the Spanish Jerez circuit today. Kimi Raikkonen set the second-fastest time for McLaren, 0.326sec slower than Ralf. Luca Badoer was next up, but it the Italian crashed Ferrari's new F2003-GA heavily after a suspected mechanical failure. Cristiano da Matta set the fourth fastest time in the Toyota TF103, ahead of David Coulthard. Badoer was unhurt in the crash that occurred at the Dry Sack right-hand hairpin, which has a high-speed approach, about halfway around the lap. The car reportedly skipped over the gravel trap and slammed into the tire wall, damaging the right-front corner of the car. The cause of the crash is believed to have been either wing or brake failure.

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m17.592s 74
2 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m17.938s 83*
3 Luca Badoer Ferrari B 1m18.951s 39
4 Cristiano da Matta M 1m19.003s 67
5 David Coulthard M 1m19.091s 58*

* = 2002 car

2/28/03

IRL zooms past CART?  According to this Florida Sun-Sentinel article, IRL or CART? That decision has been before the open-wheel racing fan in North America since 1996, when Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George formed the all-oval based Indy Racing League. Seven years later, when the gentlemen and lady start their engines for Sunday's Toyota Indy 300 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, they also begin the IRL's first season since the split as the dominant open-wheel series. Starting with Marlboro Penske in 2002, more teams have made the jump from CART to IRL, bringing names such as Andretti, Franchitti, Brack and Rahal with them. Engine manufacturers have made the switch, with Toyota and Honda joining the series as engine providers this season. And the people have voted with their wallets -- series attendance and TV ratings are up. "The 2002 season showed a 17 percent increase on ABC and a 31 percent increase on ESPN compared to 2001," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president for the series' business affairs, during a recent teleconference. "Attendance grew 9 percent from 2001 to 2002, with some of our tracks experiencing significant growth." We all know that is a lie - see related article. You can email the author of this article at rbiebrich@sun-sentinel.com

2/28/03

Only 21 cars in Homestead  Buddy Lazier did not make it to Homestead so far.  Only 21 cars entered on the official entry list.  We will have to revise our 2003 IRL Silly Season page down from 32+ cars to 21 or 22.  In the last IRL race of 2002 at TMS there were 28 entrants. 12 of those return to Homestead with the same or new drivers. 12/28 = 43%. Of the 21 Homestead entrants, 7 including Scheckter are former CART teams. 21-7-12=2 "new" IRL teams. The retired Cheever was not replaced.   Less than one-half - 43%, of the IRL "regulars" return for 2003. What does that say about the state of the IRL?

2/28/03

Official Bernie Biography in the works  [Editor's Note:  No doubt this is in response to the Terry Lovell released book, "Bernie's Game"- 384 page unofficial biography - the behind-the-scenes look on Formula One's most powerful man. It had been pulled from publication, after legal wrangles and allegations against the author by Ecclestone, according to a report in London's The Times newspaper.  Ecclestone is believed to be worried about claims made about his business dealings in the 1970s and 1980s, with Ecclestone protesting, "There's nothing there. I can also give you my 100% honor that I've never cheated anybody in my life." Lovell interviewed 65 people for the book, including people formerly involved in Formula One, business associates and other members of Ecclestone's family, including his first wife and their daughter. These last interviews antagonized Ecclestone, with Lovell claiming that Ecclestone telephoned him, saying that he would "come after me 'with guns blazing - anything I can lay my hands on' for allegedly causing his family aggravation".]  Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is to have an authorized biography published in 2004, which he promises will be an "open and honest" account of his 50 years in motorsport. The book will be written by Susan Watkins, the wife of Professor Sid Watkins, the chief medical officer of Formula 1, and published by Ebury Press in May 2004. "I have known Susan for 21 years and have complete faith in her integrity," said Ecclestone. "She has proved to be an accomplished biographer through her previous books and she knows I want the book to be open and honest. She has interviewed many people who have known me throughout most of my life and they have given her material that will complete the picture – past and present." Ebury Press editorial director Hannah MacDonald said: "Bernie's official biography has long been the holy grail of sports publishing. Not only is Bernie a massively influential figure in the sporting world, he is one of the country's most successful businessmen. So this is the story of an extraordinary character." Autosport.com

2/28/03

Sharp leads opening practice at Homestead  Scott Sharp and the Kelley Racing team have a firm grip on the tough 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway after the first practice for the Toyota Indy 300, as Sharp led the opening session by more than 2 mph. 1996 IRL IndyCarTM Series co-champion Sharp turned a top lap of 26.4535 seconds, 204.132 mph in the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was second at 26.7371, 201.967 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. Rookie Roger Yasukawa rounded out the top three at 26.8758, 200.924 in the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

2/28/03

Ron & Frank respond to Mosley again  "We do not intend to be drawn into an unseemly public debate," they stated in a new letter. "We made our position entirely clear in our letter to the FIA of 20th February. We believe that the FIA is in breach of contract, we disagree with a number of the changes you have imposed and we are concerned that the F1 Technical Working Group members have expressed a view that the changes could increase the safety risk. "In the event that the FIA does not confirm that they will seek the agreement of all Teams with respect to the recent changes to the Technical and Sporting Regulations that they intend to introduce by close of business today, we will commence Arbitration proceedings under the Concorde Agreement which will resolve these issues in a confidential and dignified manner. "WilliamsF1 and McLaren are passionately committed to Formula One, our goal is to ensure that the future of the sport is stable, well run and professionally administered. To that end we remain willing, without prejudice to our legal position, to have a formal, private meeting with the FIA at any time to discuss how we can improve Formula One."

2/28/03

CEO of Lexmark 300 resigns  After four years of sparking the Champ Car World Series event in picturesque Surfers Paradise to new heights, Geoff Jones stepped aside today as the CEO of what is now known as the Lexmark Indy 300. “The Lexmark Indy 300 has been a tremendous achievement for Queensland and it has the potential to grow for many years to come,” Jones said. “The Lexmark Indy 300 is a great event and one that all Queenslanders can be proud to own. I have certainly enjoyed every moment and have been fortunate to lead a great team in putting together a truly magnificent event.” Jones took over as the event CEO in November of 1998 and raised awareness of the race in the Queensland and Gold Coast area, raising attendance numbers to nearly 300,000 for the four-day event. He will move on to become the General Manager, Queensland, for Carlton and United Breweries – a company that is a major sponsor of the Champ Car World Series weekend, which is scheduled to take place on October 26th of this year. “This was a difficult decision, but I will continue to stay involved with the event. Perhaps now I can sit down over the four days and actually watch the racing and entertainment,” Jones said. “Indy has grown every year particularly in the diversity of entertainment it provides. This remains an area of growth that will see spectator numbers, corporate support and general interest continue to go up.” The search is now underway for a replacement for Jones while preparations continue for the 2003 event, which will again include not only the 750hp Champ Cars but also the popular V8 Supercars. Lexmark Indy 300 Chairman John Cowley said the new CEO has “big shoes to fill” but will benefit from the policies, strategies and procedures that Jones has established. “The Board has been delighted with Geoff’s performance and he will be a difficult person to replace,” said Cowley. “He has great corporate potential and will be a tremendous asset to CUB. I wish him extremely well, and look forward to doing future business with him.”

2/28/03

Small field for Grand-Am in Homestead  Practice starts today for the Grand-Am race in Homestead Florida and still the entry list only shows 16 cars.  Meanwhile the ALMS appears as though it will have larger fields this year.  Even entry's for the LeMans 24hour race are up over 80, this on the heels of a record entry list for the 12 Hours of Sebring ALMS race.

2/28/03

More spending on NASCAR ads  Nielsen Media Research says advertisers spent 54.2 percent more on televised NASCAR events last year than they did in 2001, according to today's Sports Business Daily. The report pegs last year's spending at $419.6 million ($311.4 million on network broadcasts and $108.2 on cable). Advertisers spent the most on NFL broadcasts ($2.017 billion), followed by sports commentary, the Olympics, the National Basketball Association, golf, college basketball, college football, NASCAR, Major League Baseball and tennis. Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter  International Speedway Corporation says that the outstanding promotion and television broadcasts by FOX and its family of networks resulted in strong ratings for the 2003 first quarter NASCAR events at Daytona and North Carolina. At Daytona, the Budweiser Shootout was the highest-rated prime time NASCAR event ever on FOX, and Speed Channel's first live broadcast of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series resulted in an impressive 14% increase in average household viewership for the Florida Dodge Dealers 250. In addition, the Koolerz 300 was the most watched NASCAR Busch Series race in history and the Daytona 500 posted its fourth highest rating ever, despite being shortened due to rain. At North Carolina, the national ratings for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Subway 400 grew more than 6% over 2002, highlighted by a 58% increase in ratings for the New York media market. Mr. France concluded, "We feel the fundamentals of our business remain strong, and we continue to anticipate solid growth over our record results of 2002. Our fan base, including our television audience, continues to grow. Television viewership is on track to reach record levels during the year, and we continue to reach long-term marketing agreements with significant sponsors, including recently announced partnerships with General Motors, Automobile Club of Southern California and Newell Rubbermaid. In addition, while the current environment has thus far made ticket sales for 2003 challenging on a comparable year-over-year basis, overall demand for our Winston Cup events is holding up well." Stockwatch

2/28/03

FOX Finishes First from The Rock  Last Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup race from Rockingham finished with final numbers of a 6.7 rating and 16 share, according to Nielsen Media Research. This represents 7,174,000 households. It was easily the top-rated sports event of the weekend nationally. The race beat the final round of the Nissan Open on ABC by +46% (4.6/10), beat the NBA on ABC by +131% (2.9/7) and beat the AFL on NBC by +379% (1.4/3). Compared to Rockingham '02, '03 is up +6% in Households (6.7/16 vs. 6.3/15) and double digits in all key male demographics. This is the best "regular season" rating for a NASCAR race (excluding Daytona 500s) on either FOX or NBC since last year's race from Talladega on FOX (7.0/16 on 4/21). With 11.0 million viewers, Rockingham '03 is also the most-watched NASCAR race since Talladega '02 on FOX (11.6 million). The Subway 400 handily beat the NBA on ABC head-to-head in all key demos: +61% M18-34 (4.5 vs. 2.8); +135% M18-49 (6.1 vs. 2.6); +156% M25-54 (6.9 vs. 2.7), and posted a higher total US rating than the NBA All-Star Game (6.6 on TNT). There were several individual market stories that help demonstrate that NASCAR has grown roots outside its original footprint. Rockingham posted best-ever "regular season" ratings in Pittsburgh (8.6) & Indianapolis (13.4). New York (3.0), Chicago (5.4), Minneapolis (7.6) & Tampa (10.4) each posted their second-highest "regular-season" ratings. Philadelphia (5.9) & Phoenix (7.6) posted their 3rd best ratings Sunday at The Rock. All the above markets are in the nation's Top 25. In Philadelphia, the nation's 4th largest media market, NASCAR (5.9) beat the NBA (3.2) and golf (5.4). NASCAR also beat NBA and golf in Tampa, Minnesota and Pittsburgh. In Chicago and Boston, NASCAR ranked a close second to golf, and easily beat the NBA, and in NY, NASCAR (3.0) finished a very respectable third to NBA (4.3, Mavericks/Wizards) and PGA (4.0, Nissan Open).  Fox Sports Press Release and MotorsportsTV.com Report

2/28/03

Clock Is Ticking: F1 TV Contract Again A Last-Minute Proposition  One of the annual rites of Spring is upon us again. Along with St. Patrick's Day, the anniversary of a bad day for Julius Caesar, and the azaleas getting ready to bloom again comes the uncertainty of the Formula One TV contract in the U.S. With the Australian Grand Prix just a few days away, American F1 fans are wondering if they'll get to see Sunday's contest from Melbourne. F1 czar Bernie Ecclestone has yet to agree to a U.S. TV contract. All indications are that Speed Channel is the only network interested in the complete F1 schedule. Speed Channel president Jim Liberatore will call Mr. Ecclestone on Friday to discuss the current state of affairs, Speed Channel spokesperson Erik Arneson tells us. "We're moving ahead as if things will be the same as they have in the past," adds Arneson. "We're waiting and our schedule is designed to show the races. We're hoping it's a formality." Arneson says that SPEED is also negotiating to air some classic F1 races "without them being incredibly expensive." However, he emphasizes that the negotiations for classic races are "certainly not a sticking point" for the overall F1 contract.  Motorsports TV.com

2/28/03

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2/28/03

Who will be faster at Fontana?  A reader writes, Dear AR1, What do you think the fastest lap speeds will be for CART and for IRL this year at Fontana and do you think that the IRL will be close given that CART is mandating 700 HP for super speedways. Also, have CART removed the Hanford Device for Fontana?  Charles Napier, Dear Charles, Certainly if the Champ Cars continue to run the Handford Device they will now be slower than the IRL car, which will make as much or more HP than 700 that Champ Cars will have.  However, we believe that with the lower HP, CART no longer needs the Handford Device and will run their road course wing package at Fontana.  Therefore, we expect lap times for both cars to be similar. Bragging rights as to who is faster may be important to some, but at the end of the day it's how good the racing is that counts. Mark C.

2/28/03

IRL takes exception to Indy Car use  UPDATE A reader writes, I find it ironic that the IRL's own website has no problems using the expression "Indy-Style" to describe CART when it is used to bolster the stats of the IRL field (see story).  Drivers in the field have combined for six Indianapolis 500 victories, five IRL IndyCar Series championships, five CART championships and 142 victories in either the IRL IndyCar Series or CART. Meanwhile, the teams have combined for 25 Indy-style championships, 19 Indianapolis 500 victories and countless race victories. Mike Barry Indianapolis, IN  Dear Mike, it's clear they have a selective memory.  With that said, CART's goal is to distance itself as far as possible from "Indy Car".  It wants its product to be associated with full grandstands, not empty ones. Empty grandstands paint the picture of a dying series.  Mark C.  2/27/03 - According to this Tampa Bay Tribune article, Indianapolis Motor Speedway executive vice president for communication Fred Nation took exception to the Tribune's use of ``Indy-style'' a couple of times in our St. Petersburg Grand Prix coverage. He also took a poke at street racing.  The Tribune used ``Indy- style'' once in Monday's main story and once in Martin Fennelly's column, because general sports fans know the type of cars that competed in St. Petersburg by the generic term ``Indy cars.'' In recent years, CART and the rival Indy Racing League have tried to create separate identities by marketing their cars as Champ Cars and Indy Cars, respectively. The cars that competed in St. Petersburg were CART Champ Cars.  Nation had another reason for objecting to use of ``Indy- style'' in connection with the St. Petersburg event.  ``Indy-style racing usually has pretty close finishes,'' he wrote in an e-mail. ``Some of your readers might get confused and think that Indy style refers to the kinds of low-passing, large-gap racing that often happens on road and street courses.

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