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DATE

News (chronologically)

3/21/03

Gin Blossoms to perform at Long Beach  Multi-platinum recording artists the Gin Blossoms will add their name to the growing list of popular rock bands that have performed at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach’s Rock-N-Roar Concert Series when they take center stage after the races on Saturday, April 12. The concert will be held on the Fountain Music Stage, located in front of the Terrace Theater at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, at approximately 5 p.m. on Saturday and is free to all Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Saturday ticket holders. Last year, over 7,000 race-goers enjoyed the music of the Goo Goo Dolls, while in 2001 Third Eye Blind headlined Saturday’s Rock-N-Roar Concert. “Not only are the Gin Blossoms a great addition to our event lineup, but they will continue the blending of music and racing which makes our event weekend so exciting,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. The Gin Blossoms – currently featuring Robin Wilson on vocals, Jesse Valenzuela on guitar and vocals, Bill Leen on bass, Scott Johnson on guitars and Scott Kusmirek on drums – formed in 1987 in Arizona and have sold more than six million albums. Their single “Til I Hear it From You” hit number one in 1996 and the band received a Grammy nomination for “As Long As it Matters.” Their 1992 quadruple platinum album New Miserable Experience spawned four Top 25 hits including “Hey Jealousy,” “Mrs. Rita,” “Allison Road” and “Found Out About You.” Their other hit songs include “Follow You Down,” “Day Job” and “As Long As It Matters.” After taking a break in 1997 to work on solo projects, the band reunited in February 2002 for a tour and to celebrate the release of the 10th anniversary two-CD Deluxe Edition, New Miserable Experience (A&M/UME) and the DVD Collection.

3/21/03

Hand wins provisional pole   After a disappointing season in 2002 in which he missed six races due to injury, DSTP Motorsports driver Joey Hand (#27 BG Products/DSTP Motorsports Toyota/Swift) took the first step in putting those painful thoughts behind him as he placed his car on the provisional pole for Sunday's Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix (SPEED, 11:30 a.m. ET). As time expired on the initial qualifying session, Hand clocked a best lap of 1:26.519 (87.546 mph) to knock rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT Toyota/Swift) off the top spot on the speed charts. Hand's time eclipsed the previous track record of 1:27.089 (86.973 mph) established by Luis Diaz (#33 Telmex Toyota/Swift) in last year's inaugural Toyota Atlantic event at Monterrey'sFundidora Park. In the process, Hand earned his first championship point of the season, and guaranteed himself a front row starting spot for the race. Allmendinger, the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series champion, held the top spot for most of the final 15 minutes of the session before Hand's last-minute flyer. Nevertheless, Allmendinger acquitted himself well in his first day of official CART Toyota Atlantic Championship competition, and appears to be well-positioned for a solid starting position. Qualifying third today was Californian Alex Figge (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Patrick Racing Toyota/Swift), who turned in a best lap of 1:27.003 (87.059 mph). Figge posted his best Toyota Atlantic qualifying effort at Chicago Motor Speedway last season when he put his car on the outside of the front row, but he is poised to equal of eclipse that performance with a solid showing tomorrow.

3/21/03

Brack leads practice at Phoenix   Kenny Brack hasn’t raced at Phoenix International Raceway since March 1999, but you’d never know it by looking at the time charts after the first day of practice for the Purex Dial Indy 200 on March 20. 1998 IRL IndyCarTM Series champion Brack was the fastest driver overall with a lap of 20.3160 seconds, 177.200 mph in the No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone. 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Brack, from Sweden, rejoined the IndyCar Series this year with Team Rahal after competing in CART from 2000-02. He started his American racing career in the IndyCar Series from 1997-99. “We are working our way through our program,” Brack said. “Phoenix is a tricky track. It has always been that way. It has two different ends on it. It requires quite a lot from the car.” MBNA Pole Qualifying is scheduled for 2 p.m. (EST) Saturday on the 1-mile desert oval. The race is at 3:30 p.m. Sunday and will be televised live on ABC. “We have a good car for that kind of a one lapper right now, I think,” Brack said of qualifying. “So we can continue to work on that and refine that package a little bit. If you are struggling today, then you have to guess on that tomorrow. Chances are, you can go wrong. At least we have a stable platform for tomorrow to try to improve. I guess being fastest helps a little bit that way.” Series points leader Scott Dixon was second overall at 20.4459, 176.074 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Andretti Green Racing teammates Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan were third and fourth, respectively. Franchitti’s best lap, which led the second practice, was 20.4861, 175.729 in the No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Kanaan’s top lap was 20.4980, 175.627 in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Defending event champion Helio Castroneves rounded out the top five at 20.6018, 174.742 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. Two-time defending series champion Sam Hornish Jr., who won this event in 2001, struggled. His best lap was 21.0811, 170.769 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, good for 15th overall.

3/21/03
Industry News

Facelift for Phoenix  Phoenix International Raceway is getting a face lift. Construction soon will begin to build a vehicular/pedestrian tunnel beneath Turn 4 and to reconfigure Turn 2 and the dogleg forming the back straightaway. PIR President Bryan Sperber said construction on the two projects, although still on the architectural drawing board, likely will begin in May, and completion is expected long before the next scheduled event in early October. Sperber, who has discussed the Turn 2 project with NASCAR and Indy Racing League officials, wants to widen the turn and make it more of a sweeping corner, similar to Turns 3 and 4. Currently, the outer concrete wall is designed in such a way that it pinches and significantly narrows the turn. "I believe a redesign would enhance the racing action," Sperber said. "Right now they (drivers) sort of get choked down coming out of that turn. If it were wider, it would open things up and create another passing zone. "I think drivers are happy the way it is now, but I think they'll be more happy with a new reconfiguration." Sperber said part of the grassy infield along the dogleg could also be paved to create more racing surface. "Until we see the final design, I'm not sure exactly how it will look," Sperber said. "But I haven't gotten any negative feedback from the sanctioning bodies." Drivers expressed mixed emotions with the planned Turn 2 changes. "Turn 2 is a real challenge for us, and I kind of wish they would leave it alone," said Buddy Lazier, a past winner at PIR. "Mind you, I don't have a particular love for the turn, because that's where I crashed and broke my back a few years ago. But that turn is really unique. From my experience, races are won and lost in that turn." There's a lot of crashes in Turn 2, but opening up the radius of the corner could make it safer for us," Lazier said. "But even that could be a wash, because we would be going faster."

3/21/03

Alex Yoong replacing Roberto González in Monterrey  UPDATE We have added a photo pf Alex Yoong as he waits for his car to be prepared this morning in Monterrey. Photo by Mike Levitt/LAT courtesy CART. Official CART announcement - One of the Far East’s brightest racing stars will make his Champ Car World Series debut a little earlier than planned as Alex Yoong will take over the controls of the #11 Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for this weekend’s Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix. Yoong will make his first start in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford in Sunday’s 105-lap event in Monterrey’s Fundidora Park. Yoong takes over the #11 car from Roberto Gonzalez, who finished 17th in the season opener in St. Petersburg. “We’ve talked to Alex on and off and we have a lot of faith in his abilities,” said car owner Dale Coyne. “We’ve had drivers from Minardi in the past with Tarso Marques and we feel they are well prepared. It’s going to be tough initially with no testing but we think that Alex will come up to speed quickly.” Yoong comes to Champ Cars after running a full season of Formula 1 competition last year, competing with the Minardi F1 squad, where he earned a top finish of seventh in the season opener in Australia. The 26-year-old native of Kuala Lumpur is the only Malaysian driver to have competed in Formula 1 and is the first non-Japanese from the Asian continent to drive in F1 since the 1950s. “This came together quite late but when Dale called and said that there was a possibility that the ride might be open, I jumped on a plane straight away,” Yoong said. “It’s going to be a bit of an uphill battle but I think with my experience in Formula 1, it shouldn’t be that much of a problem. It will take me a little while to find out how to make the car fast, but I don’t think it will be that much of a problem.” The Champ Car rookie will have a teammate to lean on in Joel Camathias, the Swiss rookie that made his first series start in St. Peteresburg last month, bringing the #19 Coyne machine home in ninth place. Yoong will be making his first Champ Car laps Friday morning when the opening practice sessions for Sunday’s race get started. You can follow the progress of Champ Car’s newest driver and the rest of the field via live timing and scoring on www.champcarworldseries.com. 3/20/03 - See our Rumors page for more on the reports that Alex Yoong is replacing Roberto González this weekend in Monterrey, Mexico and exclusive AR1 sources tell us it will be for the remainder of the year.  Exclusive AR1 sources say there is a definite China & American connection to his sponsorship, a deal that we were aware of since Spring Training but finally got done now.  This will strengthen CART's link to China when they race in Beijing, rumored to be in 2005.  Related article - Alex Yoong interview

3/21/03

Paul Tracy leads opening practice in Monterrey  St. Petersburg winner Paul Tracy turned the fastest lap in opening practice for this weekends Champ Car race in Monterrey Mexico.  He was followed by Herdez driver Mario Dominguez and rookie Mario Haberfeld.  This mornings practice was, for all intents and purposes, a track cleaning exercise.  More.....

3/21/03

GPWC hires PR agency   The GPWC company has appointed the Communication & Network Consulting agency to manage its communications and develop its PR strategy in its ongoing bid for control of Formula 1. According to PR Week, the account will be led out of CNC's London office, with assistance from its Paris and Munich operations.

3/21/03
Industry News

Goodyear expects to avoid cash crisis   Shares of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. moved up yesterday after the Akron company said it expects to have adequate liquidity to meet its financial obligations once its bank loans are modified. The company still is negotiating with its banks, but the proposed $3.3 billion financial package would give Goodyear more time to pay its debts and improve its operations. It has a waiver until April 4 on its bank-loan covenants. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said the three-part package Goodyear currently is negotiating with its lenders includes $1.5 billion in revolving lines of credit and $1.8 billion in term loans. Of the term loans, $1 billion would mature two years from now, while $800 million would come due in three years. Currently, Goodyear faces repaying $378 million on its long-term debt in the next six months, and another $809 million next year.

3/21/03

No gag orders at BAR   BAR boss David Richards insists he will not gag feuding drivers Jenson Button and Jacques Villeneuve. "I do not believe they should be gagged for some sort of corporate speak, but allowed to get on with things unless it goes too far and damages the team," said Richards at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur. "I very much have the opinion that the drivers should be individuals and characters in their own right. "You have to accept that inside teams the biggest rival is going to be your team-mate. They both now see that they have a competitive car, they can both prove themselves, they have got a lot at stake. "They are both clearly highly competitive so these odd little eruptions are going to happen and it's not an issue. I am not worried about it in the slightest."

3/21/03

Wilson raises $750K   Justin Wilson plc has so far raised $750,000 from its initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange. This means that the 24-year-old is well on his way to reaching the $2m he is looking for to secure his Minardi drive this year. The deal offers shareholders the chance to double their money and then share 10% of Wilson's income until the year 2012. Wilson's manager is former F1 driver Dr. Jonathan Palmer and he reckons that the share issue is going to be a huge success despite the fact that the minimum investment is $750. "I think it will be oversubscribed," Palmer said in Malaysia. "And I believe that even the share certificates are going to be worth more than $750 one day. They will be collectors' items!"

3/21/03

F1 bosses support Mosley/Ecclestone   Jaguar Racing's John Hogan has spoken out on his views about McLaren and Williams going to arbitration over the Formula 1 rules. Hogan is new to his role in F1 but has 30 years of experience as a Formula 1 fixer when he was in charge of Marlboro's F1 program. "At the end of the day," Hogan said, "it is a sport and arbitration has nothing to do with sport. I respect them for what they are trying to do but it isn't smart." Hogan's views were echoed by both Flavio Briatore and David Richards. "I respect Frank and Ron's views as very sincere in the way they put this forward," said Richards. "I don't share them but they are doing it for their own valid reasons but I just feel it was unnecessary to bring it out into the public domain a week or 10 days before the start of the season when everything was looking so positive and there was such a positive momentum behind the championship at that time." Briatore said: "I think F1 needs to talk about sport and not arbitration. It's not nice. It's not good. It doesn't bring good to us. Wew have so many controversial issues and we need to talk about these and you need to make sure that the people who are watching the races are enjoying watching the races."

3/21/03

Lights tested at airport  Lights were tested last night at Burke Lakefront Airport in preparation for the annual Cleveland Grand Prix set for Fourth of July weekend. The race will be run at night, so portable lights will be used to brighten the runways and taxiways at Burke.

3/21/03

Walker Racing's 300th start  Walker Racing will reach a milestone 300th team start when rookie drivers Mexican Rodolfo Lavin and Briton Darren Manning take the green flag for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Monterrey, Round 2 of the 2003 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Since the team’s first season in 1991 to the 2002 season-finale at Mexico City, 14 drivers have piloted Walker Racing entries for a combined total of 296 Champ Car starts. At the 2003 season-opener Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Manning’s 11th qualifying effort and Lavin’s 19th place made the 297th and 298th Walker Racing starts respectively. “It’s not a number we watch, so it’s amazing to have it come up,” said team owner Derrick Walker. “Basically I love what I do and it’s great to have been able to do what I love for so long, and to continue to do it. “In 13 years, a lot has happened and changed in racing. It’s no longer just about nuts and bolts, engineering the car successfully, etc., although those are obviously key elements, but it’s also about making racing a feasible business venture for all involved. It’s been a challenge to change with the sport, a challenge that I enjoy. There are more challenges, more accomplishments for us as we look ahead and we look forward to that.”

3/21/03

CART Stars move race  The Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow karting series announced today that the national event on August 1-3, 2003 slated for the Briggs & Stratton Motorplex at Road America has been moved to Trane Motor Speedway (formerly Norway Motorsports Complex) in Sheridan, Illinois. The date of the event will remain the same. “The recent developments between CART and Road America forced us to examine the value of returning to that fine facility only weeks after our June event with the SCCA,” said Stars Operations Director Paul Zalud. “We scheduled two events in succession at Road America to honor our commitments with the SCCA in June and Champ Car in August,” said . “Since Champ Car is now not running at the Road America, it makes sense for us to provide a more varied venue lineup for our racers. Trane Motor Speedway is a valued partner with the WKA and is popular among competitors. We are looking forward to putting on a great event in northern Illinois in early August. Likewise, we anticipate a great event at Road America in June with the SCCA.” The 6/10ths mile sprint circuit is located near Sheridan, Illinois, about 45 miles from the greater Chicago area. More information on the facility can be found at www.cartstars.com under “Racing”.

3/21/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

Schu: F1 Show Must Go On
Jacques Bites Back At Jenson
War Won't Halt Malaysian Action
F1 Vs Tennis Conflict In Oz
Crashes May Delay F2003-GA Debut
HANS Debate Rages On
DC Aims To Keep Title Lead
Massa On Stand-By In Malaysia
Schu Rubbishes Pay-Cut Rumor
Kimi Looks Ahead To New McLaren
Montoya Unfazed By Iraqi War
Berger Doubts Success Of GPWC
Another No-Show By Max Mosley
Sauber Is 'Team Of The Future'
Sell-By Date Approaches For DC
Eyes Scan Cloudy Sepang Skies
Renault Consider Sepang Pole
Rubens' Eye On Ferrari Future
Quick Word In The Paddock: Friday
David Holds Winning Head High
Coulthard Quickest In Practice
Renault Boost In Friday Test

3/21/03

CART's cash burn has slowed  According to this Autoweek article, CART lost considerably less money than many analysts expected in the final quarter of 2002. Yet if smaller-than-anticipated losses can be construed as good news, that was balanced by television ratings for the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Florida. The race drew a 0.2 national rating, according to Nielson Media Research, not the worst rating CART has ever drawn. In the fourth quarter of 2002, CART lost seven cents a share, compared to 57 cents per share the previous quarter and projections of between 30 cents and 50 cents. Moreover, revenue from races and sponsorships for the fourth quarter was flat compared to the same period in 2001, after steep declines the previous three quarters on a year-by-year basis, suggesting CART’s tumble in income might have bottomed out. Regardless, no one is expecting CART to turn a substantial profit anytime soon. More crucial is how quickly CART depletes its cash reserve, which is largely residual from its original public stock offering. CART subsidized itself to the tune of $17 million in the fourth quarter of ’02, compared to $16 million the previous quarter. That left liquid reserves of approximately $86 million. In a worst-case scenario, burning its cash at roughly $16 million a quarter, CART would be able to keep itself in business most of the way through the 2004 season. And that’s the apparent, if unspoken, plan. Pook has warned stock analysts that CART doesn’t expect a significant change in its balance sheets before 2005. CART’s fourth-quarter loss caused nary a ripple on Wall Street, and some brokerage houses maintained a hold rating on its stock, primarily because the stock has become so cheap (less than $3 per share), according to analysts.

3/21/03

Coulthard leads Friday AM times in Malaysia 

P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'36"102 207.642 Km/h 20
2. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'36"231 + 0'00"129 15
3. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'36"372 + 0'00"270 13
4. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'36"998 + 0'00"896 18
5. 4 R.SCHUMACHER Williams BMW M 1'37"045 + 0'00"943 21
6. 17 BUTTON BAR Honda B 1'37"060 + 0'00"958 23
7. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'37"313 + 0'01"211 20
8. 16 VILLENEUVE BAR Honda B 1'37"357 + 0'01"255 22
9. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'37"497 + 0'01"395 20
10. 20 PANIS Toyota M 1'37"748 + 0'01"646 18
11. 11 FISICHELLA Jordan Ford B 1'37"847 + 0'01"745 20
12. 9 HEIDFELD Sauber Petronas B 1'37"906 + 0'01"804 17
13. 10 FRENTZEN Sauber Petronas B 1'37"951 + 0'01"849 11
14. 21 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'37"992 + 0'01"890 24
15. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'38"515 + 0'02"413 15
16. 12 FIRMAN Jordan Ford B 1'38"516 + 0'02"414 13
17. 15 PIZZONIA Jaguar Cosworth M 1'38"839 + 0'02"737 13
18. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'38"870 + 0'02"768 3
19. 19 VERSTAPPEN Minardi Cosworth B 1'39"183 + 0'03"081 13
20. 18 WILSON Minardi Cosworth B 1'39"695 + 0'03"593 14

3/20/03

Walkway collapse award made   A Virginia couple was awarded more than $4 million US by a jury Thursday for injuries suffered in the 2000 collapse of a pedestrian walkway at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Cindy and Marty Taylor of Nelson County, Va., sought $27 million in damages from the speedway and from Tindall Corp. of Spartanburg, S.C., which built the pedestrian bridge over U.S. 29 in Concord. Fans were leaving the track after the running of The Winston, a NASCAR all-star race, when the bridge collapsed May 20, 2000. More than 100 people were injured, none fatally. The Taylors sought damages for head, back and leg injuries.

3/20/03

Road America to shareholders - CART cancelled race  Road America held its annual shareholder meeting Thursday, March 20, in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. The annual meeting covered the state of the track and the racing industry. George Bruggenthies, president and general manager emphasized that Road America is in full financial compliance with its amended 2002 CART agreement and with the modified agreement for the 2003 race. Relying on the modified contract for 2003, Road America started promoting the race and taking ticket orders. Due to CART's cancellation of the race, Road America is refunding CART ticket orders and a portion of season ticket orders. Bruggenthies said that he is still disappointed with CART's decision to cancel the historic race, thereby hurting race fans everywhere. Bruggenthies also stated that there have been no discussions with the IRL.

3/20/03
STRANA Trucks

TONKA to sponsor STRANA   The Super Truck Racing Association of North America (STRANA), which is sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), announced that it has reached a preliminary agreement on principal business terms for the TONKA brand to become title sponsor of its super truck racing series. In addition, it was announced that ESPN2 will be the series’ broadcast partner for its events in 2003. The announcements were made today at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., one of the largest shows of its kind in North America. Under the proposed arrangement with TONKA, STRANA’s events in 2003 would be called the “TONKA 2003 Super Truck Celebrity Challenge,” and events starting in 2004 would be called the “TONKA Super Truck Racing Series.” The TONKA 2003 Super Truck Celebrity Challenge will showcase superstars of road racing competing in STRANA trucks for charity. The races will be run in support of IMSA-sanctioned American Le Mans Series events at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. (July 25-27), Mosport International Raceway near Toronto (Aug. 15-17) and Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. (Aug. 22-24). “Securing title sponsors in motorsports is difficult at best in today’s uncertain world, and that’s why this deal would be so significant,” said STRANA Executive Director Brian Till. “It speaks volumes about the unique nature of our motorsports property and its value in the marketplace. “The name TONKA has meant big, tough trucks for generations of North Americans. It’s also synonymous with fun, family entertainment,” Till said. “That’s exactly what STRANA is all about and why this matchup would be perfect.” “STRANA is bringing some of the toughest, most powerful trucks to the U.S. and that’s what the TONKA brand is all about,” said Todd Rywolt, Vice-President of Marketing for Hasbro’s vehicles group. “Generations of boys and their dads have played TONKA tough and together with the STRANA series, we would be able to bring them more action and excitement.”

3/20/03

Bernie's ultimatum  Bernie Ecclestone has issued an ultimatum to car manufacturers in connection with a threatened alternative race circuit, a German automotive magazine has reported. "Either they stand by their series. Then we will part in 2008. Or we we continue the Concorde agreement until 2020," Ecclestone said. The current Concorde agreement, which effectively is the Formula One "constitution", runs until 2007.

3/20/03

Dixon trying to get F1 test  Scott Dixon is set to have a Formula One test drive later in the year. Dixon confirms he has had talks with the Toyota F1 team, as well as other outfits, with a view to testing for them during a break in his American campaign later in the season. Dixon says his ties to Toyota make sense to keep in close contact with them, but they are in constant contact with the F1 teams, which is a huge buzz. Dixon says considering where they started out from, to be talking to Formula One teams is a dream come true.

3/20/03

Mosley calls F1 summit  FIA president Max Mosley has invited team bosses to a meeting to discuss F1’s new rules. The sport’s new regulations were successfully introduced at an entertaining Australian Grand Prix a fortnight ago. But most team bosses insisted that the excitement of the race was more down to the weather than the rules. Mosley said and FIA race director Charlie Whiting would be meeting bosses to discuss the changes after the Brazilian Grand Prix.  He said: "The team managers and technical directors will meet Charlie Whiting on April 9 to review the detailed workings of our procedures in the light of experience at the first three races. "We have invited the team principals to a meeting on April 11 to consider the outcome of Charlie's meeting and discuss whether any procedural changes appear necessary." However, Mosley said it was unlikely that any major rule changes would follow the meeting. He said: "I think most of the teams will feel we need more time to see the full effect of the new rules. After all, they were only voted last October."

3/20/03

Greg Ray's new team to debut at Motegi   Greg Ray, the 1999 IRL IndyCarÔ Series champion and 2000 Indianapolis 500 polesitter, has assumed an ownership stake in the new Indianapolis-based Access Motorsports team and will compete in the 2003 IndyCar Series season as an owner-driver beginning April 13 at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan. The new team ownership also features team manager Ted Bitting, technical director Jeff Britton, crew chief Jamie Nanny and New York businessman Brent Townsend. The team will field a Honda Indy V8-powered Panoz G Force chassis on Firestone tires for Ray. Longtime Ray supporter EDS, headquartered in Ray’s hometown of Plano, Texas, provides associate sponsorship for the new team. EDS PLM Solutions, Panasonic Computer Solutions Company (PCSC) and Spirian Technologies are on board as technical partners and will provide additional support. Promotional partners include American IronHorse Motorcycle Company, Chapparal Boats and Firestone Tires. “It is our goal to be a two-car team, but we are still searching vigorously for the primary sponsorship that can fully fund Greg’s (No. 13) car,” Bitting said. “For now, our goals are very realistic, and I think we can be competitive at the races to which we are able to commit. A solid organization surrounding a championship driver like Greg Ray is a solid foundation to build upon as we search for the sponsorship needed to reach our goal of being a two-car team.”

3/20/03

Sponsorship for Fisher for Phoenix   GM and Upromise, an innovative service that enables families to fund higher education, will sponsor the Chevrolet-powered Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara driven by Sarah Fisher at the Purex/Dial Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 23. GM and Upromise join Raybestos and WeGotGear in support of Fisher's drive for victory in the second round of the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series.

3/20/03

Chevy engine Q&A   Chevrolet's 2003 Chevy Indy V8 racing engine, which was designed and developed in-house by GM Racing, debuted at the season-opening event of the 16-race Indy Racing League IndyCar Series in Homestead, Fla., on March 2. In the following Q&A, Joe Negri, GM Racing Group manager, and Steve Shannon, GM executive director - marketing services, discuss the progress of Chevrolet's IRL program going into the second round of the IndyCar Series, the Purex/Dial Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 23.  More

3/20/03

Ferrari bonus payments  Today's Wall Street Journal reports in today’s paper edition, page A10, that Ferrari SpA’s Net Profit fell 54% last year amid bonus payments totaling $22.5M to Luca Cordero di Montezemolo ($18.2 million) and Jean Todt ($3.0M).

3/20/03

IRL's Japan race might be cancelled   UPDATE A statement from Indy Racing League President and CEO Tony George regarding upcoming IRL events at Phoenix and Motegi, Japan: After reviewing information available to us, the Indy Racing League will continue with its current schedule of racing events, including Sunday, March 23 in Phoenix and Sunday, April 13 in Motegi, Japan. We hope and expect to maintain this schedule. As the country carries out its commitment in Iraq, we are mindful of President Bush’s admonition to carry on with our lives. In America, racing has always been identified with patriotic support of our men and women in uniform. We intend to continue that tradition, working closely with our promoters in the United States, with Twin Ring Motegi and Honda Motor Company in Japan, as well as with the governments of United States and Japan to monitor any issues that might arise which could compromise our ability to protect the health and safety of our fans, teams, drivers and staff.   3/18/03 - According to this Autoweek article, The Indy Racing League’s first foray overseas might not happen after all. Series officials are keeping their options open in the event a war with Iraq breaks out and keeps them from traveling to Japan. League vice president Brian Barnhart said a decision doesn’t have to be made until April 2, the day the cars are scheduled to leave Indianapolis for the April 13 race at Motegi. Barnhart said he didn’t consider the possibility of the race not happening until he read about a Japanese volleyball team recently canceling a trip to the United States. The IRL’s contingent to Motegi will number about 600.

3/20/03

Massa on standby for Ferrari  Former Sauber star Felipe Massa, now employed by Ferrari as test driver, is on stand-by as the Scuderia's official third driver in Malaysia this weekend.  The Brazilian replaces the team's regular third driver Luca Badoer who has had two heavy crashes in the F2003-GA recently. Both crashes have been traced to 'technical problems' and as result testing on the new car has been temporarily suspended.

3/20/03

Malaysia ticket sales down  UPDATE Some 75,000 tickets have been sold for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix due to take place at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur. Organisers target selling some 100,000 tickets for this weekend's big race though. The Sepang facility can host up to 130,000 spectators.  3/18/03 - Looming war with Iraq was today blamed for the decrease in the number of requests for tickets by the European fans. Jamaluddin Jarjis, Malaysia's junior finance minister admitted there is a problem but he added that the race will go on anyhow even if a war breaks out before the race day on Sunday. Mr Jarjis was quoted by The Sun as saying: "We admit there has been a lower demand for tickets from European fans as compared to previous years - but the race will take place."

3/20/03

Dale as himself   Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) has a cameo role, playing himself, in a March 28 episode of the FOX show “Fastlane” (8 p.m. ET and PT). The show is about two undercover police officers fighting crime in Los Angeles; the show stars Peter Facinelli ("The Scorpion King," "Riding in Cars with Boys"), Bill Bellamy ("Any Given Sunday," "The Brothers") and Tiffani Thiessen ("Beverly Hills 90210," "The Ladies Man") and airs Fridays.

3/20/03

Remembering a champion   Ten years ago, Alan Kulwicki, the 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup champion, died in a plane crash en route to Bristol Motor Speedway, along with pilot Charlie Campbell and two men affiliated with Kulwicki’s sponsor, Hooters Restaurant: Mark Brooks, son of Hooters Chairman Bob Brooks; and Dan Duncan, vice president of motorsports marketing for Hooters. Those four will be honored this weekend at Bristol as Hooters will field a “memorial car.” The No. 11 Hooters Ford, driven by Brett Bodine, will have a special paint scheme of platinum and orange and will have a “Four Champions Memorial Crest” on the hood.

3/20/03

NASCAR preps for 2000th race   Bristol Motor Speedway has been spiffed up, just in time for the 2000th race in NASCAR Winston Cup Series history, Sunday’s Food City 500.  Sunday’s race will be Bristol’s 85th as far as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series is concerned. The milestone event will be watched live by a crowd of approximately 160,000, an increase of approximately 13,000 via completion of the track’s latest expansion project. Over the last seven months, the new Dale Earnhardt Terrace was built, along with three new grandstands (named Petty, Yarborough and Johnson) and 52 new suites.  Thus, Bristol’s half-mile of high banks will have added excitement, as drivers negotiate the first short-track race of the season. The stadium setting is an imposing challenge, especially for some of the series’ younger drivers.  "I remember the first time I ran there I was completely in awe of the place,” said Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Havoline Dodge). “With each time that I come back to Bristol I get more comfortable with it. Bristol's definitely one of those tracks that keeps you on your toes each lap because things happen so fast there. If you can avoid the wrecks and be around at the end, you'll get a good finish.

3/20/03

A lap around Sepang with Wurz  ”Crossing the start line at the Sepang circuit, you reach 190mph / 303kph in seventh gear on the long pit straight before braking dramatically for the tight complex, which incorporates a downhill gradient. As the track is fairly wide at this point of the track there are often good opportunities for overtaking under braking. Accelerating out, the track leads to the long right-hander of turn three that sweeps you round onto a short straight.” ”Pushing hard on the throttle, you reach some 180mph / 290kmh in sixth gear before braking sharply, dropping down to 64mph / 103kph in second for the tight right-hander of turn four. The sweeping esses of turns five and six follow, and require that you maintain as much speed as possible before you slingshot down to the two right-handers of turns seven and eight. Turn seven is taken at 120mph / 193kph, the slightly more open turn of eight sees your speed increase by 10kph.” “As you exit the corner, you continue to push hard on the throttle along the straight that leads to the very tight turn nine. Braking hard as you enter the complex at the back of the circuit, the left-hander, is negotiated in second gear at 50mph / 80kph. On the throttle as you exit, you build and maintain your speed through the long, right-hander of turn ten before braking for the 90-degrees right hander of turn eleven.” “The sharp right of turn fourteen swings you round almost 180- degrees onto the straight that runs parallel to the start-finish straight, separated by the massive grandstand. Powering along the straight and 181mph / 290kph in seventh, you then braking sharply to negotiate the hairpin which flips you back onto the start- finish straight to begin another lap.”

3/20/03

Mosley to miss another race  Once again Max Mosley has called off his trip to the Grand Prix and won't be present for today's opening press conference. The FIA President was supposed to attend the season opener in Australia two weeks ago but called the event off due to inability to obtain a flight in time.  After his no show in Melbourne, the FIA released the press conference schedule for round two and Mr. Mosley was there, scheduled to meet the press on Thursday, today, presumably to answer a battery of questions about the new rules and regulations for the 2003 season. Just why the President is not attending Malaysia this weekend is unknown at this point in time, however it could have to do with the killer virus doing the rounds in Asia or the war in Iraq.

3/20/03

Jaguar and McLaren sponsor deals  The Jaguar Racing F1 team has entered into a new, multi-year technical partnership with US company Pioneer Automotive Electronics Sales in Farmington Hills, MI. The marketing arm for OEM automotive electronics products for Pioneer North America joins Michelin, Castrol and Lear as an official technical partner of the Ford-owned team. Pioneer is also supporting Mo Nunn Racing and Team Rahal in the US-based IndyCar Series. The McLaren International F1 team has joined with the British subsidiary of US toy manufacturer Mattel in Berkshire to launch the Hot Wheels World Race Car Design Challenge. McLaren driver David Coulthard will act as the public face of the project, which challenges children aged 4-13 to design a car of the future, and marks the 35th anniversary of Mattel's 'Hot Wheels' brand.

3/20/03

Luyendyk to drive for Nunn at Indy   Two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk will team with Felipe Giaffone and Tora Takagi in this years Indy 500.

3/20/03

CEO of Lexmark 300 resigns, replacement named  UPDATE Former IMG executive James Ashworth has been named the new general manager of CART's Lexmark Indy 300 in Australia. Ashworth, 34, replaces Geoff Jones who was recently appointed as the General Manager, Queensland, Carlton & United Breweries – a long-term major sponsor of the Lexmark Indy 300. Originally from Adelaide, Ashworth joins the Lexmark Indy 300 after close to four years as Director of Licensing, Asia Pacific, for IMG. In this role he managed a number of large sporting and cultural licensing programs in Australia including the Australian Rugby Union, Sydney Opera House, Soccer Australia and numerous golf and motorsport events. Ashworth and his team also secured the rights to act as the licensing agent of the Rugby World Cup to be held late this year. Prior to his role at IMG, Ashworth was the Manager, Marketing and Sales – Consumer Products for the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG). Ashworth said he was excited by the prospect of leading an experienced and enthusiastic team and maintaining the Event’s growth. “The Lexmark Indy 300 has built its reputation as one of Australia’s premier events and there is still so much potential to grow,” said Ashworth. “We are coming up to the 13th Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast, and the attendance has increased from 150,000 in the inaugural year to close to 300,000 over the four days. “This is testament to the work of Geoff and the team behind the scenes in implementing a truly magnificent Event. “I am looking forward to working with a great team and volunteer base that has so much experience and knowledge already, maintaining and growing relationships with sponsors and Government, and bringing the audience an exciting and entertaining spectacle.” “James has the knowledge, credentials and vision to take the Lexmark Indy 300 to another level. “He was right in saying that the Event still has much more potential for future growth, and I am sure you will see some exciting and new initiatives implemented this year by James and his team. “He comes to an Event in great shape in terms of public, sponsor, government and other stakeholder support. I wish James and his tremendous team of staff and volunteers all the very best.” Ashworth relocates to the Gold Coast with wife Julieanne and daughter Jessica. He commences with the Lexmark Indy 300 on March 31.  2/28/03 - 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.”

3/20/03

Rubens to use modified HANS Device  Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello will use a new type of head and neck protection system in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix. The Brazilian had blamed the device for his crash during the opening race of the Formula One season in Australia. He lost control of his car on lap seven after an air cushion under the carbon fibre collar around his neck deflated. The new device, which is worn on the shoulders and connected to the helmet by tethers, has become mandatory this season despite complaints from drivers. But Barrichello told a Ferrari news conference on Thursday that he was using a modified device at the Sepang circuit. "It is a bit wider so it doesn't really sit on top of the collarbone. We made some changes to the air bag as well," he said. "But I feel that we must all understand that it is for our benefit. It is something that is better for ourselves and we should get used to it." Michael Schumacher stated, "To go against a safety system will be obviously not the GPDA's position," he said. "My opinion is simply that it is a safer system, that whoever can get on with it should use it and whoever maybe cannot get on with it shouldn't be obliged to use it.  BBC

3/20/03

Schu comments on war  World champion Michael Schumacher said he was happy to race this weekend, but would rather military action been avoided in the first place. "I think it is a matter of mentality because I guess, in particular, Americans are very, very concerned," he said. "I noticed one event where Tiger Woods was supposed to do a golf tournament in Dubai and he cancelled that, but in those circumstances it is a single person's decision and it is easy for him to do so. "Here though, we have quite a big structure and it is not a single man's decision except for maybe Mr. Mosley, whether it is safe or not safe. I guess they have looked into that and made a decision that it is safe to carry on. "Sometimes you raise a question – like we did in 2001 after the [terrorist] attack – about whether it is safe to go on. It is very difficult for us sometimes. Personally I would be much happier if we could have talked a bit more about avoiding the war but everybody talked more about when it would start, not about if or why it would start. But we keep on doing our job just as everyone else does."

3/20/03
Industry News

More trouble for big tobacco   The New York Times reports in an article written by Eric Lichtblau, that the U. S. Justice Department is seeking $289 billion more from the tobacco industry. The Justice Department is citing new evidence just uncovered, that big tobacco began an illegal collusion beginning 1954. The Justice Department goes on to state in its action that the tobacco industry is running what amounts to a criminal enterprise.

3/20/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

Green Light For Bahrain Race
McLaren Under No Illusions
This Weekend All About Tires
No Ferrari Crisis, Says Schumacher
DC To Get 'Stuck In' At Sepang
McLaren Could Ace Series: JPM
One Ingredient Missing At BAR
Wrong Button Costs Jordan Dear
Jordan Pen Deals With China
Montoya: Title Hopes Are Dashed
No More Rule Changes In 2003
Walker Hits The Rally Scene
Scott Dixon Eyes F1 Chance
Jos Still Fuming At Former Boss
Genuine Driver Test At Sepang
No HANS Complaint From Da Matta
Silver Duo Ready For Conditions
F1 Needs Ferrari, Says Team Boss
Bahrain Learn Malaysian Lessons

3/20/03

Karl Kling dies  Our condolences to the family of great German driver Karl Kling, who reportedly died today at the age of 93. He drove eleven grands prix for Mercedes-Benz in 1954 and 1955, before the tragic Le Mans disaster ended the silver marque’s motor sport involvement.

3/19/03

No more changes for F1 in 2003?  Formula One's rules are likely to remain unchanged for the rest of the 2003 season, according to FIA President Max Mosley.  The sport's governing body, the FIA, is due to meet the F1 teams on 11 April to discuss how the rule changes are working - but FIA president Mosley said only procedural changes would be made after the meeting.  "The rules cannot be changed during the season without unanimous agreement and I think most of the teams will feel we need more time to see the full effect of the new rules," he said.   "If you want the teams genuinely to qualify the cars they race, you have to make sure all the cars are adjusted with full race settings and no potentially dangerous compromises," he said.   "This means that, among other things, they have to qualify with the settings and fuel load they use for the race."   He admitted this removed the spectacle of cars and drivers on the absolute limit in qualifying.   "Now we have single-lap qualifying you won't see this even if they run with minimal fuel.  "With single-lap qualifying, the driver must avoid an 'off', he must not even get the car out of shape. This is because a few tenths can be several rows on the grid."

3/19/03

Chassis change for Hattori   Shigeaki Hattori will drive a Dallara chassis in the Purex Dial Indy 200 on March 23 at Phoenix International Raceway after starting the season in a Panoz G Force chassis. “This EPSON Dallara/Toyota will be a totally new car for me – I was just in Houston last Friday getting the seat fitted,” Hattori said. “We didn’t have time to test it, but I am looking forward to driving it at Phoenix. It looks very different from the EPSON/G Force/Toyota car I drove in Miami, so I’ll be interested to see how different it is to drive. “One thing I do know is that it will have good power.” A.J. Foyt IV, Hattori’s teammate with A.J. Foyt Racing, will remain in a Conseco-sponsored Dallara chassis. Foyt made the switch a few days before the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

3/19/03

GP of America's makes $0.5 million scholarship donation   The Grand Prix Americas, Downtown Miami’s premier auto street race, has committed to a $500,000 donation for scholarships to the Miami-Dade Community College Foundation to help students in need, announced Chuck M. Martinez, president and general manager, Grand Prix Americas. Miami-Dade Community College will be one of the beneficiaries of the Grand Prix Americas Foundation which will feature the Charity Ball taking place Thursday night September 25, 2003 (Photo - Chuck M. Martinez, president and general manager Grand Prix Americas, presenting check to Miami-Dade Community College Board Members). The Grand Prix Americas donated $25,000 after last year’s inaugural race, and will continue to donate money to the Foundation for the next 9 years. "We are extremely happy to help the students of Miami-Dade Community College receive scholarships,” stated Martinez. “Miami-Dade has been a cornerstone of education in Miami, and we look forward to continuing our rewarding relationship with the college.” "This $500,000 pledge is a symbol of the Grand Prix of Americas’ commitment to this community,” said Dr. Eduardo Padron, president of Miami-Dade Community College. “The entities that contribute to the M-DCC Foundation make it possible for the college to provide the innovative educational programs, high-tech equipment and scholarships that help the members of our community find better jobs and live richer, fuller lives.” Miami-Dade Community College’s Wolfson Campus will continue to be the media center for the Grand Prix Americas. The college will also serve as the registration and accreditation center for the race. Last year the Wolfson Campus received praises as its staff delivered a top-notch media center including two big screens showing the races. “We are excited to partner with an event such as the Grand Prix Americas,” said Dr. Wasim J. Shomar, president of Miami-Dade Community College, Wolfson Campus. “Many students at Miami-Dade Community College will be able to benefit from the generosity of the Grand Prix Americas.” Miami-Dade Community College is nationally recognized as the largest and one of the best community colleges in the country. It is the nation's top producer of associate of arts degrees. M-DCC's six campuses and numerous outreach centers offer more than 150 degrees and vocational credit certificates, along with continuing workforce, adult education, recreation and leisure studies. It is Miami-Dade County's sixth largest employer with an estimated gross economic impact of about $800 million in the local economy every year.

3/19/03

Milka Duno joins Toyota Celebrity field   Racer Milka Duno will join stars from film, television, music and sports to face off in the world’s longest-running, most successful celebrity auto racing event. Toyota Motorsports has announced its exciting lineup for the 27th annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race on Saturday, April 12, in Long Beach, CA – and they have asked Milka to participate in this year’s event in the “pro” category. The 10-lap charity race, held on the 1.99-mile downtown Long Beach Street circuit and broadcast to a national TV audience, is annually part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race weekend. Milka, a multi-disciplined race car driver, has recently been focusing her efforts on North America’s premier sports car series – the American Le Mans Series – where Milka became the first woman in history to pilot the world’s fastest sportscars, and throughout Europe and South America in the World Series by Nissan – where she also became the first woman in history to drive the fastest open-wheel cars in Europe, other than Formula One. The World Series by Nissan is the last step on the ladder toward Formula One. Milka has also competed the last two years in the most famous sports car race in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in Le Mans. Toyota’s expected field of 17 features an eclectic group of entertainment personalities, internationally renowned celebrities, and figures from sports and media. Stars joining Milka in the race include the following: Angie Everhart (Actress and model), Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11 astronaut and 2nd man to walk on the moon), Picabo Street (Olympic Alpine Skiing Champion), Adam Carolla (Co-creator and co-host on Comedy Central’s “The Man Show” and “Crank Yankers,” and host of the nationally syndicated radio show “Loveline”), Jesse James (Host of Discovery Channel’s “Monster Garage”), Carlos Bernard (‘Tony Almeida’ on FOX’s “24”), Gary Dourdan (‘Warrick Brown’ on the CBS hit show “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”), Tommy Shane Steiner (American Music Awards nominee for “Favorite New Artist Country Music”), Peter Reckell (‘Bo Brady’ on NBC’s daytime soap “Days of Our Lives”), Steve Hartman (KCBS-TV and XTRA Sports 690 Broadcaster), and Tony Potts (“Access Hollywood” correspondent). Josh Brolin (Senator ‘Bill Sterling’ on NBC’s “Mr. Sterling”) and the 2000 Toyota Pro/Celebrity race champion, is returning for this year’s classic. As a former participant, Brolin will compete with three other drivers in the “pro” category this year. In addition to Brolin, Milka was chosen by Toyota to compete in the “pro” category alongside Jeremy McGrath (Seven-time AMA Supercross Champion) and Leilani Munter (NASCAR Touring Series driver).

3/19/03

More on Chicago's Sportsmans Park   This article appears in this week's Crain's Chicago Business... a popular Chicago business paper. The article appears part way down the page and is titled "Cicero jockeying to acquire track from Bidwells". You may need to register to access the full article.  The Bidwell family, which owns the facility as a part of their National Jockey Club, think the property is worth $16 to $20 million. The favored developer, DiMucci Cos., has a vision of building a $150 million convention center project on the 80 acre site, but hasn't yet begun negotiations with the National Jockey Club. Apparently, the speedway isn't dead yet, and this redevelopment project isn't as far along as was reported a couple of weeks ago.

3/19/03

NASCAR President Mike Helton statement on impending war   Everyone in the NASCAR family is keenly observing the latest news regarding the situation in Iraq. We at NASCAR and our fans across the United States and around the world are praying for the safety of our nation’s brave men and women in uniform as well as those of our allies. NASCAR plans to continue with our current 2003 racing schedule while closely monitoring the unfolding situation in the Middle East. As part of our contingency preparation, we are in close and constant contact with all the relevant authorities necessary to ensure and maintain the security of our drivers, teams, tracks and fans. We will do whatever is necessary to continue supporting our country’s efforts, including schedule adjustments if deemed appropriate. We believe there is a special bond between our troops and our sport. Every branch of the American military is represented in NASCAR racing and our Chairman, Bill France, has always described NASCAR fans as “the kind of people who go to war and win wars for America.” Many of those fans are currently deployed throughout the world, doing just that. To that point, we should all be mindful of the sacrifices our troops and, just as important, their families are making during this difficult time.

3/19/03

Kyle Krisiloff ready for Mexico   U. S. Grand Prix Formula One/Camerson Motorsports driver, Kyle Krisiloff enters his second season, and first full season, of CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Series competition beginning this weekend at the season opening Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico. Krisiloff is the youngest competitor in the Toyota Atlantic Series. He joins a new team in 2003 and will drive the #13 U. S. Grand Prix Formula One/Cameron Motorsports Toyota/Swift/Yokohama entry, which is owned by 21st Century Technology, sponsored by U. S. Grand Prix Formula One and managed by Cameron Motorsports. "After getting a full preseason of winter testing with the U. S. Grand Prix Formula One/Cameron Motorsports Team, I feel we have learned a lot and are prepared for the start of the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship season next weekend in Monterrey, Mexico,” Krisiloff began. “I am looking forward to being very competitive in my first full season in Toyota Atlantics,” he noted. Krisiloff went on to say, "Because I competed in six CART Toyota Atlantic Championship races last year I have a little more experience going into the 2003 season. The first six races will be new for me, so I still have a lot to learn at those events. However, by the second half of the season, when we compete on tracks where I have already raced, the experience I gained last year should really help me in both qualifying and the races." Krisiloff made his Toyota Atlantic Championship debut last year running six races for the U. S. Grand Prix Formula One/Patrick Racing Team. The talented native of Indianapolis, Indiana finished five of the six events he contested placing in the points three times. His best qualifying position was 14th and his best finish was 13th both achieved at the season finale in Denver. Krisiloff placed 28th in the championship standings with six points. Krisiloff is the son of former Champ Car driver Steve Krisiloff. His mother is Josie George, sister of Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George.

3/19/03

Smaller spoilers coming?   Rusty Wallace says that NASCAR's John Darby will cut half an inch or so off the rear spoiler "within the next six weeks." That timetable would point toward an aerodynamics change at either the fast two-mile California track April 27 or the 3/4-mile Richmond track the following week. Winston Salem Journal

3/19/03

New Crew Chief for Harvick   Kevin Harvick was reunited with crew chief Todd Berrier on Tuesday, a little more than a year after the two teamed up to win the 2001 Busch Series. Berrier replaces Gil Martin, who was moved to team manager. "Todd and Kevin worked great together in the Busch Series so we made the change to jumpstart the season," car owner Richard Childress said. "Gil has won races for us with Harvick and Robby Gordon, so we're glad that he is staying and will be playing a key role with the team." Berrier was the crew chief for Harvick's Busch team in 2000 and 2001, when they teamed to win eight races, eight poles, 2000 rookie of the year honors and the 2001 championship.  AP

3/19/03

Jordan team signs key agreement in China  Jordan Grand Prix has signed a groundbreaking co-operation agreement with China Central Television (CCTV) and Shanghai International Circuit Co. Ltd (SIC). Under the terms of the agreement Jordan Ford will become the preferred team of CCTV, featuring heavily in CCTV broadcasts through footage generated to introduce every aspect of Formula One to viewers in China. The agreement sees the Shanghai International Circuit and CCTV brands displayed on the Jordan Ford EJ13 cars at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix. “I am thrilled that Jordan Ford has been chosen by Shanghai International Circuit and CCTV as their partner for commencing Chinese involvement in Formula One,” said Eddie Jordan, Chief Executive of Jordan Grand Prix. “The deal will ensure the popularity of both Formula One and Jordan Ford in a vitally important region. We are looking forward to working together on preparations for next year’s inaugural Chinese Grand Prix and I’m sure Jordan Ford will be a big success with the Chinese people.” “For 2003, CCTV will cover every round of the FIA Formula One World Championship for the first time, an important development in building further the interest in Formula One across China.” said Mr Yu Zhifei, Deputy General Manager, SIC. “I am very glad that Shanghai International Circuit and CCTV have come to an agreement with Jordan Ford for the team to be our partners in creating exciting Formula One footage and help interest still more people in China about Formula One. The behind the scenes access that Jordan have offered to CCTV will provide a fascinating insight into the sport as we work towards to the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit." The agreement also creates an exciting promotional platform for Jordan’s partner Ford. Martin Leach, President and COO, Ford of Europe said, “Formula One is a great way to showcase Ford around the world. In China the relationship between Jordan Ford and CCTV is a fabulous opportunity to raise our profile. We are already expanding our involvement in China through manufacturing and marketing Fiesta and Transit models as well as selling the Mondeo. There are more new and exciting models in the pipeline to meet the needs of this rapidly expanding market.” CCTV is China’s only national broadcasting network and reaches over 100 million households across China. Its coverage of each round of the FIA Formula One World Championship will include a 20 minute preview to be aired on the Thursday before each race, live coverage of Friday and Saturday qualifying as well as Sunday’s event, and a 20-minute review on Monday. In addition, CCTV has 500 previews and over 300 special F1 news slots on CCTV’s sports channel. The Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 9 attracted 26 million viewers on CCTV in the Beijing area alone.  Jordan

3/19/03

McLaren signs de la Rosa  Ex-Jaguar driver Pedro de la Rosa, sacked by the team after last season, has signed to become a test driver for the McLaren team.

3/19/03

Bahrain GP gets boost   Plans for a Formula One Grand Prix to be staged in Bahrain in 2004 moved a step closer to fruition after the national government approved funding for a new racing circuit.  The $200million (£128m) project was approved after finance and national economy minister Abdullah Said briefed the national parliament about Bahrain's borrowing needs for economic development. The country's 40-member Shura Council, appointed by the government, now needs to ratify the funding and is likely to give the project the green light.

3/19/03

Danica Patrick eyes full Toyota Atlantic series   All the months of planning and anticipation are over. This Friday morning Danica Patrick will take to the track in the #24 Argent Mortgage Toyota/Swift at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico and the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantics Championship season will be underway. Patrick, the 20-year-old protégé of three-time CART champion Bobby Rahal, will become the first female to race a full schedule in the thirty year history of the Atlantic Championship. "I have been preparing for this day since I was ten and I first climbed into a go-kart" said Patrick. "I am sure I might have a few butterflies when I climb into the car on Friday, but it is a racecar and I have been driving competitively for half of my life. Once I get on track it will be me against the other drivers and their cars." Rahal looks at his young charge and realizes that there will be a lot of attention focused on her in 2003. "I have told Danica on a number of occasions that she will be in the spotlight all year and that people will be following her every move. That can be a blessing and a curse to a young driver. The blessing is when you succeed, your success will draw a lot of attention and it will open doors and create opportunities both on and off the track. The downside is of course we are talking about a 20-year-old driver, who like every young driver, is going to endure some growing pains. When the spotlight is on you those can make for some long days. That said, I think the future is very bright for Danica. I think she has everything it will take to be successful and to graduate to the next level." At first glance Patrick would appear to be a college student or an aspiring model, but the look is deceiving. Behind that smile is a fierce competitor who is striving to become the best driver that she can be. "People ask me if I want to be the next Lyn Saint James or so and so, and I always tell them I want to be the first Danica Patrick. I know I have a wonderful opportunity with Team Rahal. Bobby has assembled a veteran team that will help me with the learning curve of the series. Walt Preston, my engineer, is one of the best in the business and he has really helped me understand the car a lot quicker than I thought I would." Patrick signed a multi-year driving contract with Team Rahal in June of 2002 to be the pilot of the team's entry in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. She ran five races in the Barber Dodge Pro Series last year in preparation for the 2003 campaign. The full-season single car entry is sponsored by Argent Mortgage Company and Norwalk Furniture Company. The entry in the CART Ladder System is Team Rahal's first support program since the team ran a full-season effort in Indy Lights in 1998.

3/19/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

Jury Is Out Over Mosley's Rules
Swiss Plan Grand Prix Return
Button Eyes Top Step With BAR
Williams Target 'Other' Schumacher?
Thunderstorms For Malaysian GP
Rubens Plans To Make Amends
Renault Fix Sights On Williams
BAR Put Melbourne Behind Them
Jacques Hopes New Radio Works
BMW Depressed At Ferrari Form
Ralf Ready For Malaysian Repeat
Fans Stay Away From Malaysia
Scheckter Slams Coulthard Ability
Kimi Fitted For New McLaren
Rubens Deals With New F1 Rules
Button Relishes Sepang Challenge
Schu Facing Ferrari Pay-Cut
Jos Hopes For Splash Of Rain

3/18/03

Walkway lawsuit goes to jurors   Jurors began deliberations Tuesday in a $27 million lawsuit brought by a Virginia family caught in the collapse of a pedestrian walkway after a NASCAR all-star race. More than 100 people were injured when the walkway over U.S. 29 in Concord collapsed as fans left the Lowe's Motor Speedway complex in May 2000.

3/18/03

BRDC clarifies British GP rumors   According to this Grandprix.com article, the British Racing Drivers' Club has given details of its relationship with Octagon Motorsports and its plans for the future. The club says that on December 19 2000 it agreed a 15-year lease of Silverstone to Octagon Motorsports. The lease was underwritten by a guarantee from Interpublic, Octagon's parent company. The BRDC says that on many occasions senior personnel from Octagon/Interpublic have given "absolute undertakings" of their intention to honor that agreement and added that it has received no formal notification that Octagon intends to sell their commercial rights to the British Grand Prix. The BRDC says it does not have the financial depth to operate an annual Formula 1 contract under the present terms and conditions on offer from Formula One Management, particularly without government support which, it says, "exists in most other host countries".

3/18/03

Malaysia ticket sales down  Looming war with Iraq was today blamed for the decrease in the number of requests for tickets by the European fans. Jamaluddin Jarjis, Malaysia's junior finance minister admitted there is a problem but he added that the race will go on anyhow even if a war breaks out before the race day on Sunday. Mr Jarjis was quoted by The Sun as saying: "We admit there has been a lower demand for tickets from European fans as compared to previous years - but the race will take place."

3/18/03

Barber Dodge Pro Series adds oval   The Barber Dodge Pro Series announced today the addition of the an oval event to the 2003 season with the third round of the championship now taking place on the one-mile oval at the Milwaukee Mile on May 31st. As with every round of the 2003 season, the Barber Dodge Pro Series will be participating as a support event for the Champ Car World Series at the Speed of Night weekend, which will feature the first-ever running of the Champ Cars under the lights at the famed Milwaukee Mile oval. The Milwaukee event will replace the round scheduled for Road America, which has been removed from the 2003 Champ Car schedule. The Milwaukee race is the third new Champ Car venue to be added to the Pro Series Schedule for 2003 along with St. Petersburg and this weekend's race in Monterrey, Mexico. Series officials are excited about the opportunity to participate at Milwaukee, which is the only oval-course round of the 2003 season, hailing a return to ovals for the series after having competed on only road courses in 2002. Historically, Barber Dodge races on ovals are ultra competitive affairs with the entire field normally qualifying within one second of the pole as they did at Chicago in 2001.

3/18/03

More on CART Long Beach Town Meeting   The panel lineup for the Champ Car Town Meeting that will take place in Long Beach, California on March 24 has grown by one person as the series announced Wednesday that SPEED Channel President Jim Liberatore will join the program. Liberatore, who oversees the cable network that carries the majority of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford events, will join CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach President and CEO Jim Michaelian, Champ Car driver Alex Tagliani and Rocketsports Racing team owner Paul Gentilozzi on the panel discussion, which will be hosted by SPEED Channel race analyst and former Trans Am champion Tommy Kendall.

3/18/03
Industry News

War could curtail racing action   Michael Andretti's Road to Indy retirement tour sidetracked.  It could happen. Imminent war with Iraq, the ongoing terrorist threat and North Korea's nuclear menace are starting to have a chilling effect on the American auto racing scene. The Indy Racing League and Championship Auto Racing Teams are in an immediate bind. The IRL has a race Sunday in Phoenix. At that race, Andretti expects to celebrate Step 2 on his "Road to Indy" driving farewell tour. With war perhaps coming as soon as today, CART is in a similar boat as the IRL. This weekend's Champ Cars race is in Monterrey, Mexico.  More..

3/18/03

Ticket sales in Germany going well   We checked with the EuroSpeedway today and were told that ticket sales are going well and they hope to get at least as many fans as they had in 2001, which was announced as 87,000 on race day.  Mark C.

3/18/03

Disagreeing with Cortes   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read Cássio Côrtes' article titled "CART, Driven to where?" and while I agree with most of Cássio Côrtes says, I take exception one. He claims that losses of races in Rio and Japan can not be made up by the new events in Mexico and Canada. While the race in Japan will be missed (if only slightly), the race at Rio won't be. Neither of these races had the attendance needed for success. Mexico City and Montreal were spectacular events and made up for those losses 10 fold, in my opinion. The fact that they are NAFTA events is irrelevant! CART basically replaced low attended events with very memorable ones. If we could only find venues like that elsewhere? Hector Sanchez, Corpus Christy, TX  Dear Hector, you and other readers should be aware that CART's last race in Rio, Brazil in 2000 was a complete sellout.  See photos below.  Mark C.

3/18/03

 

Ticket sales picking up in Monterrey   Ticket sales for this weekends Champ Car race in Monterrey, Mexico have picked up in recent weeks, with over 41,000 3-day tickets now sold.  There are 59,000 grandstand seats so a sellout is now in sight.

3/18/03


 

Chris Pook and Tony George to speak together   Corporate sponsors, team owners, league officials, racetrack operators, manufacturers and media executives involved with open-wheel racing will assemble May 20-21 at the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 2nd Annual Open-Wheel Racing Summit.  Presented by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal, the 2nd annual Open-Wheel Racing Summit will once again delve into the areas that are critical to the worldwide future of the sport by examining the IRL, CART, F1 and support series. The audience will hear keynote presentations, first-hand case studies, best practices and important lessons learned from the past racing season. Those attending this insightful and exciting two-day program will receive cutting-edge information on essential issues. Confirmed speakers include Tony George of the IRL, Beatriz Perez of The Coca-Cola Company, Al Speyer of Bridgestone/Firestone, Eddie Gossage of Texas Motor Speedway, Christopher R. Pook of CART, Ted Johnson from World of Outlaws and Chris Economaki of National Speed Sport News. In addition to in-depth panel discussions, case studies and the opportunity to network with your peers the week of the Indianapolis 500, there will be pace car rides, exclusive pit area tours, guest appearances and credentials for Carb Day. For more information or to register, contact Rob Berlinger, Programming Director, SportsBusiness Journal Conference Group, 646-742-9763 ext. 57 rob@worldrg.com, or go to www.SportsBusinessJournal.com. Seating will be limited. SportsBusiness Journal

3/18/03

Why CART is so popular in Mexico   This CART.com article talks about how big CART has become in Mexico and how the whole country now follows racing.  One key point is that the Mexican drivers are heroes to the Mexican fans and this leads to big attendance and big TV ratings.  CART won't enjoy that sort of success in the USA until, like NASCAR, its drivers become heroes to race fans.  Related 2000 article - Do heroes make a sport, or does a sport make heroes?  It's time for CART to engage its sponsors?

3/18/03

F1 TV ratings still soft  Despite the praise lavished on Max Mosley's raft of new regulations, and the claims from some sections of the media that F1 has been re-born, TV viewers - the ones for whom many of these changes have been introduced, especially those TV viewers in pubs - remain unconvinced. According to the latest figures from TV Sports Market, only in Britain - which like Germany has four drivers in this year's World Championship - were viewing figures up on 2002. In Germany RTL pulled in 2.36m viewers for the live coverage of the race compared with 2.57m in 2002 and 3.02 in 2001. The replay during more sociable hours attracted 5.01m viewers almost one million down on the 2002. 1.75m switched on in Italy for live coverage compared with 2.07m in 2002 and 2.49m in 2001. The delayed coverage was down on 2002 by 1.21m, a drop of 27.67%. In France a mere 371,000 got up early to watch the season opener, this compares with 477,000 in 2002 and 687,000 in 2001. Again the delayed coverage saw figures plummet on previous years with 1.75m tuning in compared to 2.07m in 2002. In America where Speed Channel signed the deal to broadcast F1 just days before the season got underway, 307,000 watched the race, which was held at 21:00 Eastern time on Saturday. This figure is up 32,000 on 2002 and according to Speed marks a significant improvement. It should also be noted that Speed is not widely available throughout the US. In Britain viewing figures were up by 71% with 991,000 switching on for the race which began at 03:00 GMT. This compares with 578,000 in 2002 and 883,000 in 2001. The delayed broadcast attracted 3.18m viewers compared with 2.83m in 2002, a 12.36% rise. This weekend's GP takes place at a slightly more acceptable time (07:00 GMT) and no doubt Bernie, Max, team bosses and advertisers will be hoping for another eventful race.  PitPass.com

3/18/03
Industry News

Goodyear to write down $1.1 Billion   Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. will write down $1.1 billion, or $6.17 per share, in its 2002 fourth-quarter results for unused tax credits. In addition, the Akron tire maker has reduced its shareholders' equity by $1.3 billion to reflect an increase in its unfunded pension benefit obligations. Goodyear said that under financial accounting standards it must reduce the value of its tax credits because it has been losing money in its U.S. operations. The company can restore those credits if it makes money in the future, said Keith Price, a Goodyear spokesman.

3/18/03

CART is more than just a business to its fans   This IndyStar article says, Investors don't care much for CART. The stock price proves that. The die-hard fans of the open-wheel auto racing series, though, are an entirely different matter. If a turbocharged ChampCar engine could run on blood instead of methanol, these fans unhesitatingly would open a vein to fill Paul Tracy's tank. That became clear after Thursday's column, which reported 2002 losses for Championship Auto Racing Teams, and took Chief Executive Christopher Pook to task for downplaying the numbers. CART fans were not happy with the column, to say the least. And they made themselves heard. Remember, these are people accustomed to shouting over the ear-splitting scream of 800-horsepower engines. Even in an e-mail. If rotten tomatoes could be slung through fiber- optic lines, red goop would still be oozing from the CD tray of the personal computer employed to peck out that column. Here's a sampling of their retorts:
• "Stop trying to kill off the series that I enjoy and have loved so long," writes Leo Calabrese of Rochester, N.Y. "Your attempts are futile." Any columnist who thinks a publicly traded company can be killed off by 15 inches of newsprint would be delusional. And any reader, too.
• "I read CART's annual report, as I am a stockholder . . . and I've been buying more of it," wrote J. N. Anderson of Chicago, "because at the end of the day, it's all about the quality of racing." The quality of a product doesn't always square up directly with the soundness of the business producing that product. However good the racing may be, CART still needs to function as a business to survive.
• "CART has a cash pile from going public to shore up the cash flow," writes Richard Dawson of Liverpool, England. "Bernie's probably going to buy it anyway." Who knows, Formula One magnate Bernie Ecclestone may yet be CART's rescuer. But no cash pile can last if losses keep climbing at CART's present multiples.  More.....

3/18/03

War won't stop F1  UPDATE This Grandprix.com article says, Although the Formula 1 teams are already in place in Kuala Lumpur in preparation for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, the expected onset of war in the Gulf, coupled with a new threat posed by a mysterious pneumonia-like virus in Asia, is causing many of those involved who are not already in Asia to ponder staying in Europe and not taking any chances. The outbreak of the virus seems to emanate from southern China with Hong Kong reporting 83 cases. Singapore has discovered a further 20 cases of the illness and the first signs of the disease have been seen in recent days in Europe, mainly from people traveling to Europe from Asia. Doctors have yet to identify the virus and so there are naturally fears that the disease will spread rapidly around the world with warnings from the World Health Organization.  3/17/03 - Formula One bosses have insisted that it is "business as usual" despite the looming threat of war with Iraq. The sport has no plans to cancel Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur, the second round of the 16-race season. "It is business as usual as far as we are concerned," said a spokesman for the FIA, the sport's world governing body. "There are no special plans."

3/18/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

Renault R23: One Of The Best
Massa Swaps Ferrari For Maserati
BRDC Can't Afford British GP
F1 Heading To Dubai
BAR Fix Communications Breakdown
Business As Usual Despite War
Echoes Of Hakkinen In Kimi's Hunger
Longer Straight To Save Hungary?
DC Endorsed By McLaren Chiefs
Tribute For Sheene At Brands Hatch
Few More Years For Charging Ralf
Minardi Won't Buy 'Whole' Car
'Devil In The Detail' Of Changes
Hopes High For Jungle-Boy
R4 Failures Traced To Driveshaft
Heat A Factor At Malaysian Race
Ahead Of The Game In Malaysia
Renault Primed To Conquer Sepang
Olivier And Cristiano Optimistic
Schu Convinced Of Sepang Triumph
Trulli In Peak Condition
KL In Gear For Malaysian GP
Relentless Tour For Sauber Pilots
Renault Engines Bound For Sepang
Trulli A Fan Of Malaysian Track
Alonso Smiling As KL Beckons

3/18/03

Reader agrees with Moran, disagrees with Pook   Dear AR1, After reading Rocky Moran's letter I have to say that I am in agreement with him. I have been a huge fan of CART for the past 20 years and I have attended the Long Beach Grand Prix every year since 1984. Along the way I have attended many CART races during the so called glory years at Laguna Seca, Indianapolis and Phoenix. The reason I write this is that I am alarmed by the direction in which CART is going. CART has never been a feeder series in the past and if Chris Pook has his way, CART will be a F1 feeder series run by ex F1 bosses. Personally, I have no interest in CART running at Spa, Estoril or any other F1 track. CART, I am afraid will become a sort of an American F3000 series and the driver turnover will be the downfall. It's sad the CART Stars of Tomorrow had a higher television rating than the first race of the season. Maybe Pook under estimated the loss of household name drivers and the value of having a good television package. I remember the days when you could go into the pits and see guys like Mario, Emmo, Sullivan, Michael, Rahal, Tracy, Little Al, and Mansell for a couple years. These guys were cool and they were not only good but they were stars. You would cheer for your favorite guy at each race, year in and year out and after awhile you felt like you actually knew the guy. I call those years the Glory Years because the average race fan likes to identify himself with something or somebody. Having the same usual suspects year in and year out make for successful business. Sure guys retire and move on but the most successful businesses have the least amount of turnover. Why do you think NASCAR is so successful? I personally am not a big NASCAR fan but if you have a favorite driver, you can pretty much follow him year after year. If CART becomes a F1 feeder series you can forget about CART as we know it. I can see it now, F1 bosses farming out their test drivers to different teams to gain experience for a year and then bringing them into F1. CART was never a feeder program for any series in the world, so why should it now? Because Pook says F1 is the pinnacle? I don't buy that for a second. Sure the Europeans will always follow their dreams to F1, but there are plenty others who dream about being CART champion, and it is those that we need to nourish and promote. If CART continues in the F1 direction it will only fuel the IRL to become what CART was. Matt Jones

3/17/03

Darlington TV ratings   Fox's broadcast of yesterday's Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 Winston Cup race at Darlington Raceway was the weekend's top sports draw on television, today's Sports Business Daily reports. The Daily says overnight Nielsen figures show the race with a 5.5 rating and a 13 share, well ahead of the 5.0/9 that CBS drew for the second-highest rated sports show, its coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament selections. Final figures from last year showed the race with a 5.8/14 on Fox, which was down from a 6.1/15 in 2001. Winston Cup Scene

3/17/03

CART stock watch  

Today's NYSE Trading In MPH
MPH closed at $3.22 UP $0.22 on Volume of 70,200 shares.
$2.55 Bid - $3.59 Ask on close.
Session Low/High $3.00 / $3.24
MPH Value Change UP 7.33%
DOW Jones UP 282.21 or 3.59% on Volume of 2.07 billion shares.
NASDAQ UP 51.94 or 3.88%
S&P 500 UP 29.52 or 3.54%
Courtesy of C3I.AndersonGroupe - Chicago
www.andersongroupe.com

3/17/03

Walker Racing announces new partner   Walker Racing welcomes new partners Vitro, TV Azteca and InterProteccion in teaming with the Corona sponsorship of the #5 entry piloted by Mexican rookie Rodolfo Lavin in the 2003 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Walker Racing has a successful history in developing innovative and value-added motorsports marketing programs, including fielding programs for African-American, female, Japanese and, now, Latino drivers. "Corona, Vitro, TV Azteca and InterProteccion have a global reach making for a perfect fit in the Champ Car World Series, which has a global platform as well with an especially strong presence in the growing NAFTA region," said team owner, Derrick Walker. "These are highly successful companies and we are pleased that they have chosen to support Walker Racing." This partnership marks the companies' first foray into motorsports sponsorship. "I want to thank Vitro, TV Azteca and InterProteccion for their support this year and I'm pleased we can announce their participation going into a home race at Monterrey," said driver Rodolfo Lavin. "The companies recognize the value of motorsports sponsorship in the Champ Car World Series as well as the value of entering into such a sponsorship with a reputable brand such as Corona." Monterrey, Mexico-based Grupo Vitro is a major producer of glass products serving a wide variety of markets. The company has joint ventures with 12 major manufacturers that provide it with access to international markets, distribution channels and state-of-the art technology. TV Azteca is one of the world's two largest producers of Spanish-language television programming. It operates two national television networks through more than 300 owned-and-operated stations located throughout Mexico. Additionally, the company recently launched Azteca America Network, a strategic initiative aimed at the attractive, fast-growing United States Hispanic market. InterProteccion is the Mexican group leader in the brokerage of insurances and guarantees of the market, which has provided service for over 40 years. Through consolidated international alliances and joint ventures with other leading insurance providers, InterProteccion offers coverage throughout the world.

3/17/03

F3000 ace to run Toyota Atlantic  CART Toyota Atlantic Championship team owner Allen Berg announced today that European driver Romain Dumas will race under the Scuadra Fortia banner at CART's Toyota Atlantic season opener on March 23, 2003 in Monterrey, Mexico. Dumas, from Ales, France, will join teammate Eduardo Figueroa of Mexico City at Fundidora Park. This will be Dumas's first Atlantic competition.  The versatile 26 year old Dumas has raced and done well in many different types of cars. In the 2002 European F3000 series he won three of ten events and finished second in the Drivers' Championship. He also recently tested the Renault F1 Team, impressing the team by running within half a second of F1 veteran and Renault driver Fernando Alonso.  "We welcomed our prior sponsors back this week and added a new sponsor, Grupo Gigante; now we welcome Romain to our team," said Berg. "We are looking forward to the first Atlantic race and want it to be the first of many successes this season. I believe with our 2001 experiences we have consolidated our team and are hopeful for good results in Monterrey. Romain will be a good teammate for Eduardo."  "This will be the first time for me to drive an Atlantic car," said Dumas.  "We did not have time to test or shake it down before the first practice in Mexico. This is a new team to me; it is important to get good results for Scuadra Fortia. To stay in shape for the 2003 season, I tested in Europe over the winter and also drove a prototype this last weekend at Sebring.  This week there will be many first time experiences for me: first trip to Mexico, a new track, a new series and a new team. I am looking forward to it all. I've been watching the CART Atlantic series and have wanted to race there."

3/17/03

Tidbits from Darlington   This Winston Salem Journal article says - Jeff Gordon on his rare mistake while leading Sunday - "We got the track position, and we had the car to beat," Gordon said. "The car wasn't perfect right there, but it had been so good all day long. "I was tight, but still I had the track position., I was out front, and all I had to do was keep it out of the wall. Obviously that wasn't as easy as I thought it was. "I just got in there, and it seemed like the right rear caught it just a little bit and sucked the right front in. It knocked the toe out, and it was over. "I was trying every lap to stay out of the wall. The car was really pushing and sliding the nose right up to the wall. I was looking in my mirror, and I didn't have them covered, so I had to hit every line just right. Those guys were right there with me, and because I was so tight I wasn't as fast as I wanted to be to be able to drive away. "Unfortunately we got in the wall. My mistake ...and I'm going to make up for it next weekend at Bristol." Softer tires? Forget it. For this season at least. That's the word from Goodyear, and crew chief Bill Wilburn, whose driver, Rusty Wallace, has been the leading proponent of a switch to softer rubber, agrees. "We make the tires to the car, not the car to the tires," Goodyear's Rick Heinrich says. So it's up to NASCAR to take the first big step, which the sanctioning body shows no signs of doing. "What tells me NASCAR isn't serious about it is they haven't been taking any cars to the wind tunnel," Wilburn says. However, Heinrich insists that Goodyear is ready to provide a tire for whatever car NASCAR throws at them. While much of the focus on the softer tire debate has been on the downforce issue, with NASCAR planning to cut at least half an inch off the rear spoiler in the coming weeks, the spotlight should instead be on the speed at which these 3,400-pound cars enter the corner, the engineers say. That speed determines the dynamic force on the right-front tire, the single most crucial aspect in this entire debate. With Winston Cup engine builders now pumping up their motors to nearly 800 horsepower, that first turn speed has increased significantly. Some engine men like Robert Yates have been pushing NASCAR for nearly 10 years to cut speeds, dating back to even before Ernie Irvan's crash at Michigan. But NASCAR has done little to trim speeds anywhere except Daytona and Talladega. How to cut speeds? Lightening the cars is one proposal, cutting these 3,400-pound stockers to 3,100 pounds. Cutting 200 pounds off shouldn't be all that difficult, according to some engineers. And another 90 pounds or so could be cut by switching from cast-iron blocks to aluminum blocks. "But I don't think cutting 200 pounds would make a significant difference," Heinrich said, referring to the incredible force on the right-front tire in a corner at 190-plus mph. So cutting engine horsepower is another proposal, back to something like 600 horsepower. But NASCAR engine men can get about 2.2 horsepower per cubic inch, so to cut back horsepower by downsizing these engines NASCAR would have to chop these venerable 358s down to 272 c.i. Mark Cronquist, chief engine builder for the last three Winston Cup champions, says that there is another way of looking at the issue: "I think the tires themselves have a whole lot more to do with our speeds than the motor. "If you go back and look at some of the track records we have, some of them are back three, four, five or six years ago, and we've got more motor than we had then. "Two or three years ago we went to Michigan in June and came back in the fall with maybe five or six more horsepower ... but we ran a second faster because they had a new tire. Now I don't care what a guy does to a motor, you're not going to pick up or lose a full second. "The Busch guys are 70 or 80 horsepower off our engines but they still run within a couple tenths of what we run. So how much power do we have to lose? "I don't think it's the motor that makes the cars run so fast."

3/17/03

Yet another thriller at Darlington   They weren’t locked fender to fender but the final run to the checkered by Todd Bodine and Jamie McMurray in the DarlingtonRaceway.com 200 shared the excitement created the day prior as Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch battled for the win in the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400.  Stan Creekmore, NASCAR Editor

3/17/03

War won't stop F1  Formula One bosses have insisted that it is "business as usual" despite the looming threat of war with Iraq. The sport has no plans to cancel Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur, the second round of the 16-race season. "It is business as usual as far as we are concerned," said a spokesman for the FIA, the sport's world governing body. "There are no special plans."

3/17/03

Michelin's man speaks about upcoming race  Michelin's project manager Pascal Vasselon speaks about the French manufacturers preparations ahead of the upcoming Malaysian Grand Prix.
The selection process….
“We finalized our tire specifications for Sepang in the wake of the Australian Grand Prix. Our partner teams evaluated a number of compounds when they tested last week at Jerez, Spain. Three of these will be taken to Malaysia.”
New rain tires…..
“The rain tires we'll be taking to Sepang differ from those we used in Melbourne because the surface in Malaysia is more abrasive and temperatures are likely to be much higher. We have modified the tread pattern and, unlike the wets we took to Melbourne, the fronts and rears will be quite similar.”
Logistics, logistics….
“In order to facilitate the air freight process, our used tires from Melbourne were taken straight to Malaysia. The factory finished making the new tires we'll be using at Sepang on Friday evening, March 14, and they were transported to Amsterdam airport early the following day. They should reach the track by Tuesday morning.”
Strategic thinking…
“Last year Ralf Schumacher made a single stop en route to winning this grand prix. This year we can expect to see some drivers use the same tactic, but the new rules create different strategic possibilities and a two-stop race might be equally effective.”

3/17/03
Industry News

Most car companies still hurting   Except for perhaps Toyota and Honda, The credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service says that the automobile manufacturers involved in racing are facing a tough year in 2003 with forecasts of sales being lower than in 2002, which was already a bad year for many of the automobile firms, notably Fiat Auto. At the moment Moody's has assigned negative outlooks for DaimlerChrysler, Fiat and for Volvo. These are based on expectations that European and North American automobile markets will not see any growth before 2004.  Among the companies suffering the worst in January were BMW down 15.8%, Renault down 8.4%, Volkswagen down 2.2% while Ford and GM were in line with the market, i.e. also down.

3/17/03

Round 1 to Button   David Richards says his new driver 'had the better' of Jacques Villeneuve at the Australian Grand Prix. Richards is pleased that both Jenson Button and ex-world champion Villeneuve are getting the most out of each other with a lively on and off-track rivalry. 'I was very happy with Jenson's performance in the race,' Richards said. 'He drove very sensibly and had the better of Jacques, so he has to be encouraged by that.' 'He is now aware of Jenson's capability,' he adds, referring to Villeneuve's insistence that Jenson should earn his respect. 'This is exactly what we want. We need our drivers pushing and getting the best out of each other.'

3/17/03

Rubens concerned with some changes   Rubens Barrichello has admitted some concern with the latest Formula One reforms. The Sunday morning warm-up has been cancelled for 2003 in exchange for a shorter session just fifteen minutes prior to Saturday qualifying. 'If you have an off in that warm-up, then you could be in real trouble.' He is also concerned about he fact the cars can't be changed after qualifying. 'The fact that we no longer drive the cars between qualifying and the race did not put any safety concerns in my mind. But the situation might have been different if it had rained very hard. You have virtually no time at all to work on the car in between the very short Saturday warm-up and qualifying,' Rubens continued. 'That is a struggle.'

3/17/03

BMW to keep rev record   Mario Theissen is expecting BMW's high-revving record to be broken one day, however he feels that with the proposed single-engine regulations mean it could stand for a while, perhaps forever. Last year the BMW P82 engine broke the barrier of 19,000 revs during the Italian Grand Prix weekend. "I think 19,000 revs will increasingly become normality for Formula One. Teams will try their best to improve but I don't expect giant leaps forward. I definitely don't expect a 20,000 rev engine for this year." "In 2004 the trend will go backwards anyway [because of the 1-weekend engine rule]. There are already tendencies that go towards a drop in rev numbers, as we have to drive the qualifying engine in the race too. This makes us think very carefully about how far we can go in qualifying without losing the reliability of the engine in the race." Another factor for the engine manufacturers to consider is the fact that in 2004 engines will have to last an entire race weekend. And by the 2006 FIA President Max Mosley would like to see engines lasting six races, which will also force engine suppliers to emphasize reliability.

3/17/03
Industry News

Phil Hill to return to The Glen   One of the most well-respected racing greats, Phil Hill, will be returning to Watkins Glen International to serve as special guest for the Chemung Canal Trust Historic Races weekend, June 6-8, track President Craig Rust announced today. Hill, the first American to win the Formula One World Driver Championship, will make several appearances throughout the weekend and also has the duties of giving the command to fire engines prior to the start of the Sunday's Jaguar feature race. "Watkins Glen is a very special place for me as I had an opportunity to race on the original road course in a lightweight Jaguar XK120 against a great variety of cars and drivers", said Hill, who also appeared at The Glen in 1958, and 1961-1964 with a variety of duties including United States Grand Prix Grand Marshal, practice driver and driver. "Many of my competitors became very good friends in later years and I hope to see some of them back at The Glen for the race weekend. While many people connect me with Ferrari, I drove Jaguars early on and had a great deal of success." The Chemung Canal Trust Historic Races kick of a month jam-packed with electrifying sports car racing. Fans are invited to travel back in time and experience the nostalgia of the past, as the cars that made The Glen famous take to the track in a weekend filled with history, including Formula One, Indy cars, SCCA Can-Am, Trans-Am, and prototypes. Tickets start at only $19 and are now on sale, with advance prices available through May 4th.  Tickets for the Chemung Canal Trust Historic Races, as well as the entire 2003 racing season at Watkins Glen International, are now available by calling The Glen's ticket office at 607-535-2481 or online at www.theglen.com.

3/17/03

TSN drops SPEED Channel feed, says not good   The Canadian broadcaster TSN has abandoned its use of the Speed Channel feed for F1 races and will revert to the British ITV commentary. TSN had used British feeds for almost 10 years. TSN and Speed did a deal in order to share the costs of F1 which is expensive for any broadcaster but the problem is that Speed's audiences are so small that it cannot justify sending a crew to all the races and the commentary struggled badly as they tried to commentate of the Australian race from a studio in North Carolina. ITV has a crew at every race and so is in a better position to produce a good program. "The quality is better," says Phil King, the TSN executive in charge of programming. "Our viewers told us that and we agree. We were not satisfied with the quality of the Speed Channel broadcast."  GrandPrix.com

3/17/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

Michelin Have 'Clear' Upper Hand
'Impossible' To Cheat, Says Mosley
Rubens' Concern At New Format
Pressure Intense For Michelin
'Game On' For Assertive Coulthard
Watson's Vote For Radical Reform
Calm Confidence At McLaren Team
Schumacher To Tighten Grip On F1?
Glory Takes Time, Says Ralf
Teams Play With Wet Jerez Track
First Round To Jenson Button
Rubens: Oz Race Was 'Messy'
One-Stop Or Two At Sepang?
Schu Set To Burst Back At KL
Spare A Thought For Charlie
Stewart Backs Fellow Scot For Title
Deflated Bridgestone Bounce Back
Ralf Expects Low-Fuel Qualifiers
Moss Surprised At Schu Stance
Schu Drowns Sorrow In Maldives
Ralf Hints At Change Of Scene
Button Still Furious After Oz GP

3/17/03

Scenes from Sebring  - by Bill Kistler (More in the days ahead)

3/16/03

Road America starts to issue ticket refunds   Even if the two sides could work out their differences, any hope of CART racing at Road America this year is now gone.  On Thursday, Road America ended any hope of salvaging this year’s race and also removed the event from its schedule and implemented a ticket refund policy.  In this article, Paul Tracy says he thinks 2002 was not his last race at the famous circuit.  Unless he plans to move to the IRL in 2004, we think it is.

3/16/03

CART losing Road America is akin to F1 losing Spa   For fans of road racing, especially almost anywhere in the upper Midwest, the word Monday from CART was devastating. Because of its alleged failure to pay fees in a timely manner, the series opted to drop Road America from its 2003 schedule.  The United States has several famous road circuits. There's Watkins Glen in upstate New York, where NASCAR Winston Cup has replaced Formula 1 and sports car racing as the primary passion. There's Sebring in Florida, where yesterday's 12-hour endurance race was the latest of one of the world's classic road racing events. And there's Laguna Seca in California, with its famed stomach-floating corkscrew turn. But in terms of sheer beauty and challenge, none match Road America, the four-mile circuit that an Elkhart Lake, Wis., businessman named Cliff Tufte carved out of the rolling woods, glacial moraines and ravines halfway between Milwaukee and Green Bay 40-some years ago. I remember Mario Andretti telling me with those expressive eyes of his dancing with delight about how it is his favorite road racing circuit and a world-class venue, likening it to Spa.  More....

3/16/03

de la Rosa hurts back   Pedro de la Rosa suffered from a bad seat fitting by the McLaren team causing him to injure his back. And while the problem has been corrected, the former Jaguar man fears the damage has already been done. De la Rosa told Autosport: “I had such a bad seat that it has really done damage to my back. I could hardly sleep last night. The team made a new seat for me based on Alex's one and that is much more comfortable, but the damage has been done really.” “I've never, ever experienced this amount of grip in my life before. It's a very, very competitive car. It's a very good team, and it's so good to work with an organization like that. I now know what testing really means, because when you go testing with McLaren you really go testing!"

3/16/03

Reality TV almost a reality   Fox's proposed "reality TV" series with NASCAR drivers is "a done deal," according to one NASCAR source who says seven of the planned 20 shows already have been sold to sponsors. Filming would begin in May and would focus on three types of Winston Cup drivers: a high-flyer, a more typical family-man, and a wilder, single guy - like Jamie McMurray. Most stock-car drivers have been quick to say no to the invasion of privacy.  Winston Salem Journal

3/16/03

Bruton Smith mock ISC tracks   Bruton Smith's organization is making the case that Atlanta's race-day crowd last Sunday, while not a sellout, was still a bigger crowd than eight of the 12 tracks owned by the rival International Speedway Corp. can even seat. NASCAR's Bill France says that the 2004 schedule will be developed to take Winston Cup races out of small, unproductive markets and put them in larger, more productive markets.  Winston Salem Journal

3/16/03

More engine woes for Roush   Reconstruction of NASCAR's Homestead track is expected to begin soon, according to NASCAR sources, who say that the banking, currently only six degrees, will be increased to 20 degrees for the 11/2-mile facility Roush Racing had more engine problems Saturday. Kurt Busch was the latest victim after his engine broke down only moments after the start of Winston Cup practice for Sunday's Carolina Dodge Dealers 400. That followed a disastrous day for Roush Racing at Atlanta last week, when four of six Roush engines failed. Engines in the Fords driven by Roush drivers Mark Martin, Busch and Jeff Burton, as well as a Roush-built engine in Ricky Rudd's Wood Brothers Taurus, blew during the 500-mile race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. That came a week after Martin blew an engine in Las Vegas. After investigating, car owner Jack Roush found pistons on cars for Martin, Rudd and Busch were tuned "for fuel economy that just wasn't attainable for Atlanta," he said.  AP Story

3/16/03

Brundle blames Bernie   Former F1 driver Martin Brundle has accused Bernie Ecclestone of trying to undermine the future of the British Grand Prix.  Ecclestone has been one of the Silverstone circuit's biggest critics over the past few years.  Ecclestone recently suggested that the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC), who own the Silverstone circuit, should buy the rights from financially plagued Octagon.  "The BRDC should run the race and be the promoter," Ecclestone told The Guardian. "We did a contract with them that was very cheap for them to run. Once, the idea was to sell Silverstone. But they decided not to do it - and got someone (Octagon) to rent it out. If the British Grand Prix disappears from Britain, it will be because no one can afford Silverstone's rent."  Martin Brundle responded - "It is clear for anyone to see that Bernie seems to have been trying hard to destabilize the British Grand Prix, Silverstone and the BRDC," he said. But whether or not Octagon succeed in selling the rights to the race, Ecclestone is confident that the company, which is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies in the United States, will continue to honor their agreement. Octagon is committed to spending roughly £300m to run the event for the next 13 years. "It's a pity Octagon entered into an agreement not knowing what the commitments were, but have no doubt they will honor those commitments," Ecclestone added. "They knew what they were getting into - I told them not to do it. The contract is guaranteed by Interpublic, but if no-one wants to run the race then there won't be a British Grand Prix."

3/16/03

Stewart thinks Coulthard could dethrone Schu   Jackie Stewart thinks David Coulthard could dethrone Michael Schumacher this year.  'After the way David drove to victory in Australia in the opening race last weekend, I see no reason why he can't go on and become world champion this year,' he said. 'We all know that Michael is still going to be the man to beat in the championship race this year, but the solid, professional and skilful way in which David drove in Melbourne, capitalizing on the mistakes of others, proves he has the maturity and knowledge to lift the championship.' 'Over the past couple of years all we've seen is Michael driving off into the distance and comfortably winning races. He really hasn't had to handle any pressure and that's exactly what David has to do over the next couple of races. He's got off to a brilliant start and heads to Malaysia next weekend leading Schumacher by five points. Now what's crucial for David is that he maintains that level of performance and keeps the pressure up on both Michael and Ferrari. We know from what Michael has done in the past when he's been under pressure that he doesn't really like it. Just think about the title shoot-outs with Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill. If David manages to get another couple of good results in Malaysia and Brazil, and if ideally he could win one of them, then it will be interesting to see how Michael and Ferrari respond.'

3/16/03

John Watson wants more wet races   Former F1 driver John Watson thinks all F1 races should have a wet period. "I think all tracks should have sprinkler systems, which could be turned on before a race. Just before the start they should be turned off to let the track dry out naturally. Drying tracks always provide entertaining Grands Prix and it will be compulsive viewing for the fans,” Watson told People. “Last week was a great example of exciting racing, but that was 95 per cent down to the weather.” “The rule changes made hardly any difference. The qualifying was as dull as ditch water. It did give all the teams an equal amount of TV coverage but as a spectacle it didn't do anything for me at all. Qualifying is supposed to be flat-out racing because it's not about running a marathon,” he said. “It's all about blinding speed and that's what it should be. The concept of single car qualifying doesn't appeal to me. I enjoyed the build-up towards the end of the session when there were four or five cars fighting for top spot. An audience should be sitting on the edge of their seats biting their nails, but you can't get that with single car qualifying. I don't have much interest in watching Minardi's flying lap because they are not going to be challenging for pole position."

3/15/03

BGN rainout in Darlington   Mother Nature continues to give NASCAR fits. For the second time in four events NASCAR has been forced to postpone the Busch Series event. The DarlingtonRaceway.com 200 never made it to the green flag. Rain forced the field to a stop before the field could take the green and after nearly two hours NASCAR officials decided they would wait until Monday to run the event. Should the Winston Cup race also be run out, the word is NASCAR would run it first on Monday and then run the Busch event, time permitting.

3/15/03

NASCAR track in Meadowlands doubtful   George Zoffinger, chief executive of New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, said on Thursday that International Speedway Corp.’s proposal to build a stock-car racetrack around the existing horse racing track is unlikely to work. "Actually, I’d like to interest them in maybe some other sites other than around the racetrack," Zoffinger told the Orlando Sentinel. "We’re going to help them any way we can." The decision on whether to build a NASCAR track ultimately lies with the authority board, but Zoffinger plans to recommend against such a move. Building the track would require the Meadowlands to halt Standardbred racing, which would add to the costs. "You’ve got to factor in the impact on our main business," said Zoffinger, alluding to the Meadowlands’ premiere Standardbred race meeting.

3/15/03

Historic F1 cars to support CART in Mexico City   The historic F1 cars will support CART at Long Beach this year and now comes word they will support CART at Mexico City as well.  1966 to 1983 3-liter F1 cars will again do battle on the famed Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit as the main support race for the Champ Cars.  A Ford Mustang Celebrity race will also be contested.

3/15/03
F-3000

Why isn't this guy in CART?   [With so many Indians living in the USA, we find it amazing that that no sponsor or team has picked this kid up.  Talk about an untapped market.  He's been trying to make it into F1, but can't raise the money needed.  He's fast.  How fast?  Former F1 driver Enrique Bernoldi was only 3rd fastest in this last test before the F3000 Dallara Nissan World Series begins.]  Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan set the pace in the final pre-season test for this year's Dallara Nissan World Series, held at the Jarama circuit in Spain yesterday (Wednesday). "There were a lot of red flags but we managed to make some clear laps using fresh Michelin tires," said Karthikeyan. "We would like to start the season here at El Jarama with some top positions. Carlin Motorsport is adapting very well to this new series. I'm very confident." Former Arrows Formula 1 driver Enrique Bernoldi set the third best time for RC Motorsport, ahead of Frenchman Franck Montagny.
Jarama test times (unofficial)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Narain Kartikeyan Carlin Motorsport 1m22.221s
2 Bruce Jouanny Carlin Motorsport 1m22.432s
3 Enrique Bernoldi RC Motorsport 1m22.545s
4 Franck Montagny Gabord Competición 1m22.581s
5 Felix Porteiro KTR 1m22.687s
6 Paul Edwards KTR 1m23 177s
7 Tuka Rocha 1m23.248s
8 Heikki Kovalainen Gabord Competición 1m23.260s
9 Polo Villaamil RC Motorsport 1m23.293s
10 Stephane Sarrazin Racing Engineering 1m23.347s

3/15/03

Gonzalo Rodriguez trial news - CART wins  2nd UPDATE According to the Monterey County Herald.....A Monterey County Jury ruled against the Family of Gonzalo Rodriquez, and the track has been dropped as a defendant in the Lawsuit filed on behalf of Gonzalo Rodriquez after they settled for $10,000 prior to the start of the trial. CART is extremely pleased with the verdict," said Andrew Swartz, an attorney who helped represent both defendants. "This was a very intelligent jury that was able to overlook the deep emotional trauma of the loss of a son and followed the law." The family's attorney, James O'Callahan, said the Rodriguezes were disappointed but "would go on with their lives." They will return to Uruguay and continue serving a foundation they started in Gonzalo Rodriguez's name, encouraging youth to pursue their sports dreams. Bongol-Rodriguez testified her son was greatly admired in Uruguay. O'Callahan said to win the case he needed to prove that CART had acted with "reckless and willful disregard," an insurmountable hurdle.  Although much of the testimony focused on whether Rodriguez died when he hit the barrier or when his car landed, as the plaintiffs contend, O'Callahan said it really doesn't matter when he died. CART was willfully negligent because it failed to provide adequate protections to prevent the fatality, he argued. The gravel pit, 45 feet wide, was too narrow a space to slow a troubled driver's speed, said O'Callahan. Antonio Ferrari, a racing team owner, testified for the Rodriguez family, saying too few tires were used to slow the car's speed. Ferrari also said netting above the concrete barrier would have prevented Rodriguez's car from going airborne. O'Callahan argued that Rodriguez survived the collision with the concrete barrier, and suffered his fatal injury when the car landed upside down. The defense laid the blame for the fatality on Rodriguez himself. Swartz said Rodriguez was traveling at 100 mph approaching the corkscrew, a turn that is supposed to be a "slow turn," taken at 50 to 60 mph. "Nobody knows why he was traveling so fast, whether it was driver error, whether the pedal was stuck or whether he was trying to push the envelope. We don't know," said Swartz. The reality of racing is that not enough safeguards exist to prevent injury or death from occurring, Swartz said. 3/7/03 - You might be interested in reading the pre-trial analysis of this lawsuit done by our Mark Cipolloni back in November of 2000, and a follow-up in November of 2001.  It will be interesting to see how it turns out.  3/7/03 - According to this Monterey County Herald newspaper article, testimony resumes Monday in the wrongful-death lawsuit brought by relatives of an Uruguayan race car driver killed in a crash at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September 1999. The family of Gonzalo Rodriguez is suing the the Championship Auto Racing Team, which sponsored the race. Rodriguez, 27, died when his car skidded off the track, hurtled through a gravel trap, slammed into a concrete barrier and then went airborne, landing upside down. The $25 million lawsuit, filed in 2000 by Rodriguez's parents, Ruben Rodriguez Saldias and Lillian Bongol-Rodriguez, alleges that the gravel pit was too small to slow a car leaving the track and that the barriers provided insufficient protection. Antonio Ferrari, a member of the Ferrari car family [Editor's Note: as far as we know he is NOT related to Enzo Ferrari's family.  In Italy, Ferrari is as widely used as Jones and Smith in the USA] and a racing team owner, testified Tuesday that too few tires were used to slow Rodriguez's car as it headed for the concrete barrier and that the tires present were of poor quality. Ferrari also testified that netting was needed above the concrete barrier to prevent Rodriguez's car from heading into its fatal plunge. CART will present its defense next week.

3/15/03

Barrichello says 2002 car still competitive   Rubens Barrichello is back home in Brazil in between the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix and he has had time to reflect on the first race of the season and the effect of the new regulations. “The first point to make is that the F2002 is still competitive, which was hidden by events in the race, particularly the fact the track dried out much quicker than we expected,” commented the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver. “There is no reason for us to worry about this as, up until the race, I had a very good weekend.” Following the Australian event, the rule banning refueling between qualifying and the race has met with a mixed response and Rubens still maintains his original views on the subject. “As I said before, I like the idea of one lap qualifying and the pressure that goes with it, but I was not so impressed with having to do it with a big fuel load as it means the cars are not perfect,” said the Brazilian. “During the weekend, you have a tough time to find the limits of your car in these conditions. Even if you chose to run with low fuel on Friday, the track is still quite dirty and therefore you cannot get the maximum out of it and we are a long way off where we used to be in terms of performance and lap times. However, putting aside the weather on Sunday, the new qualifying did make the race a bit more interesting.” With only one flying lap in each qualifying session and no Sunday warm-up, the drivers now get less track time, but Barrichello revealed that the drivers are still as busy as ever. “We were still kept busy, doing a lot of appearances for the sponsors and I think that will be a trend through the year,” he said. “I don’t think it will reach a point where we will end up having lunch with the sponsor guests, because the drivers always have to eat something very early before the race,” joked Rubens. “And of course, on Saturday, you now spend much more time thinking about race strategy than in the past. It is a new challenge because you have to guess the weather the following day and there are so many other new factors to consider as well.” The change to the weekend timetable did cause Barrichello some concern. “The lack of a race morning warm-up was not too difficult to deal with, it just meant you had to give a lot more thought to race set-up on Saturday,” he explained. “However, the area that was a struggle was that you have virtually no time at all to work on the car in between the very short Saturday warm-up and qualifying. If you have an “off” in that warm-up then you could be in trouble, so you cannot afford to push too hard in that session. The fact that we no longer drive the cars between qualifying and the race did not give put any safety concerns in my mind, but the situation might have been different if it had rained very hard.” Before the first race of the season, the Ferrari man had tipped BAR and Toyota to have made a lot of progress over the winter. Had anyone else caught his eye during the grand prix. “I was very surprised to see Justin Wilson ninth on the first lap!” said Barrichello. “Apart from that, the race performances followed the current form guide. What did surprise me was that many drivers who had problems appeared to stop in dangerous positions which caused the Safety Car to come out. The race was a bit of a mess, but it made it interesting for spectators. Here in Brazil, even though the race was shown in the middle of the night, the viewing figures were good and the reaction was positive, even though no Brazilian drivers finished the race.”  Ferrari

3/15/03

Mosley confident in policing driver aids   Max Mosley is confident that FIA policing of electronic driver aids will make it "impossible for anyone to cheat". The FIA president told an exclusive ITVF1 live chat that officials will definitely be able to root out anyone covertly using systems like traction control and launch control. Mosley said: "In addition to software inspection, we will have backup to look at what is happening in the engine, plus we will have sensors in critical parts of the car, like the throttle pedal, so we can compare what the engine is doing with what the driver is telling it to do. "A combination of these things will make it impossible for anyone to cheat." The ban on electronic driver aids is not due to come into force until the British Grand Prix. Mosley said this would give the FIA – and not just the teams - the time to get things right. Asked why there was such a delay, Mosley replied: "Some of the teams have to make significant changes, to go back to a system with no traction or launch control. "The other reason is that we want to be able to use technology to observe what's going on in the engine and the people providing this are not certain to be able to have it operational until then."

3/15/03

Moran Jr. disagrees with Pook  2nd UPDATE Two more people responded with these comments3/14/03 - A reader writes, "Rocky Moran says...The average American race fan does not care about a bunch of rich, foreign drivers whose names they can't pronounce." I don't buy that argument. It doesn't apply to baseball - "The Great American Pastime." F1/CART/IRL racing will NEVER appeal to the "average American race fan" because it isn't "stock car" racing. Does he honestly think if half or more of the WC field were foreigners that the attendance would suddenly decline? Also, "Mario Andretti," "Rocky Moran," and "Memo Gidley" aren't exactly "All-American" names. They sound more foreign than American. Mark McCauley, Texas  3/14/03 - In this article Rocky Moran says, Watching the first CART race of the 2003 season was very interesting and something I had anticipated for a long time. The off-season really starts to feel drawn out when you haven't watched any racing for months. I love watching races on TV when I have a ride of my own, but this year is really gonna be tough as I sit out, especially when I look at the driver line-up in the current CART field. It's really sad to see how many talented and qualified drivers there are that have come up through the Stars of Tomorrow, Barber Dodge, F2000, and Toyota Atlantic fields that are watching Champ Cars on TV like me. The fact is, CART has made a mistake in not making a better effort in assisting its ladder series drivers and, in particular, its American drivers into its top formula. The average American race fan does not care about a bunch of rich, foreign drivers whose names they can't pronounce......"Let's be realistic about CART's current state. The TV ratings from the recent Stars of Tomorrow go-kart race were better than CART's season opener in St. Petersburg. How are drivers and team owners in Toyota Atlantic going to continue raising over one million dollars per car when Chris Pook is saying that "our feeder series cars are way too easy to drive"? There is no such thing as a car that is easy to drive when you're on the edge and pushing for those last couple of tenths."   More....

3/15/03

New CART Architecture  Former CART Toyota Atlantic team owner submits his idea for the "new CART."  This is my unsolicited advice for some new architecture for the future of CART for 2005:

1. Rename the series to USF1 (see logo)
[Editor's Note: we have said all along F1, a branded name, should be part of the "new" CART series name if Bernie takes partial ownership]
2.  Use a 1-2 year old design of a current Formula 1 car .... Jordan or BAR for example.  Replicate 24 cars. 

[Editor's Note:  You probably want at least two suppliers, not one]
3.  Invite 6 different manufactures to supply engines for 4 cars each.... 24 total cars

  • BMW

  • Mercedes

  • Porsche

  • Ford

  • Honda

  • Toyota

[Editor's Note:  why not 7 manufacturers for 28 cars?  Ferrari and Renault come to mind, but we doubt Toyota would come back into CART - they are NASCAR bound]
4.  Take the series back to the streets ( which is happening) and eliminate the ovals
[Editor's Note: streets and road courses, not just streets]
5.  Rename the Atlantic Series to USF3 or USF3000 and change the cars to the F3000 spec or F3.  This is all very brief .... and it would work with or without Bernie [can't use the F1 name without Bernie, he owns it] ...... I’ll let the critics fill in the details....Keith Hylton

3/15/03

General Admission anyone?   A reader writes, Dear AR1, we just got our set of season tickets for Fontana for 2003. We opted to get the package deal because it seem to be the best deal. The season tickets use to be NASCAR and CART, now it includes 6 different races. Well you you find this pretty interesting, for just the IRL race, we do not have a assigned seats. It says general admission on the ticket, you can sit anywhere you want, first come first serve. The package deal didn't sell well. The lady in the ticket office said they only sold about 6,800. So what does that tell you about the attendance for the IRL race. What a joke! We probably we will sell ours if anyone will buy them. Cindy Adams  Dear Cindy, last year we heard they only sold 8,700 tickets for the IRL race at Fontana, and by the looks of the grandstands, that probably wasn't too far off.  However, this year Honda and Toyota are in the series and they will probably be giving tickets away for the race at their local dealers, so that should bolster attendance somewhat. Mark C.

3/15/03

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3/15/03

Scenes from Sebring  1) The #1 Audi of Frank Biela, Phillip Peter and Marco Werner will start the 51st annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring from the pole position.  2) Sebring is known for its colorful race fans.

  Much More...click on 2002 archives button below
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