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DATE

News (chronologically)

3/27/03

Dispelling other CART financial myths   Facts from CART 2002 SEC Form 10K filed recently

  • Total revenues for 2002 were $57.2 million, Total expenses for 2002 were $81.9 million - a loss of $24.7

  • Television revenue for 2002 was $4.5 million, Television expense was $11.0 million - a loss of $5.5 million

  • Sanction fees for 2002 were $36.6 million, Race distributions for 2002 were $19.8 million - a profit of $16.8 million

  • Loss before income taxes for 2002 was $20.9 million, NET LOSS. Net loss for 2002 was $14.5 million after tax credit

  • On March 7, 2003, CART acquired 100% of the equity in Raceworks, LLC. The purchase price was $1.2 million, including $473,000 of cash and a promissory note of $722,000, without interest, and assumption of liabilities of $4.6 million

  • In 2002, CART promoted the races in Chicago and Miami. In addition, they entered into one new agreement and amended four existing sanction agreements with promoters to include revenue sharing arrangements with promoters at their events. In 2003, CART will promote six of our events: Cleveland, OH, Portland, OR, Miami, FL, Lexington, OH, Kent, UK and Lausitz, Germany and they have entered into agreements with promoters that include revenue sharing arrangements for five events.

3/27/03

CART Shareholder Equity year-by-year     Facts from CART 2002 SEC Form 10K filed recently
AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2002 (in 1,000's)
 

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

Cash and cash equivalents

$ 6,773

$27,765

$19,504

$7,216

$15,080

Short-term investments

79,489

87,621

98,206

91,758

61,610

Working capital

92,288

111,604

119,953

99,480

72,219

Total assets

114,451

132,941

144,101

124,887

97,186

Long-term debt (including current portion)

--

--

--

--

314

Total stockholders' equity

$103,018

$117,936

$133,894

$114,330

$86,219

3/27/03

Penske to resign from ISC  In what can be viewed as a crack forming in the oval track cartel, Roger Penske will resign as the Vice Chairman and member of the Board of Directors of ISC according to a proxy statement released by ISC.  One of Penske's long time right-hand men, Walter Czarnecki, Executive Vice President of Penske Corporation, is also leaving the ISC board.  We reported about one year ago that Penske sold almost $1 billion worth of ISC stock.  No real explanation was given for the resignations (one April 9th), but one has to wonder if there was some sort of falling out between Penske, one of the most powerful men in racing, and the mighty France family.  His son Greg Penske will remain on the ISC Board, but he does not wield the power of his father.  Roger is a very shrewd businessman, so he may be up to something, however, one rumor making the rounds is that Roger promised big attendance at IRL races at ISC's tracks and that has not materialized, causing the fallout.  We rather doubt that is the case.  Mark C.

3/27/03

Test times from Barcelona  

Driver Team T Laps Time Gap
1. R Schumacher WilliamsF1 M 59 1:15.352 140.413 mph
2. Coulthard McLaren M 65 1:16.077 0.725
3. Panis Toyota M 102 1:17.173 1.821
4. Barrichello Ferrari B 85  1:17.335 1.983
5. M Schumacher Ferrari B 98  1:17.794 2.442
6. Raikkonen McLaren M 99 1:18.164 2.812
7. Button BAR B 51 1:18.269 2.917
8. Gene WilliamsF1 M 84 1:18.619 3.267
9. Frentzen Sauber B 111 1:18.757 3.405
10. Villeneuve BAR B 31 1:19.244 3.892

Fourth and fifth today were Ferrari team-mates Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher. Today the Brazilian had his first run in the Scuderia's 2003 car, whole the German had to resort to the 2002 version. Barrichello was so delighted with the new car he posted the fourth fastest time of the day, albeit almost 2s off the pace. Possibly of greater significance however is the news that he successfully tried a modified HANS device, which he found much better than the type he's been using up until now, which hopefully means he'll be able to start preparing for next week's home GP.

3/27/03
F3000

Rain in Jerez Rain frustrated the F3000 competitors set to test at Jerez in Southern Spain today as only 10 cars used the circuit to develop their cars for the F3000 season. Townsend Bell, the rookie Californian, ran only in the morning session and posted a 5th best time for the morning’s wet run. The ARDEN team decided there was no particular advantage to testing in the rain in the afternoon so elected to stay dry and work on changing setups for tomorrow’s final day at Jerez ending up 8th best of the day. Christian Horner, team boss said, “The weather was very unkind to our guys in Spain, if they had stayed in England and tested at Silverstone they would have had a glorious day. Never mind, looking on the positive side, it was good for Bjorn & Townsend to get some practice in the wet!!” The rains subsided in the afternoon, so times were a bit improved by other drivers. All are hoping to have a dry track on Friday. American Derek Hill, another Californian, has joined the Super Nova team and tested today at Jerez . He was 7th quickest in the morning, and improved to 6th best in the afternoon. The morning and afternoon’s combined times were:
1. J. Janis ISR – Charourz 1:46.90
2. Y. Schroeder ISR – Charourz 1:47.26
3. E. Toccacello Super Nova 1:47.37
4. N. Kiesa Den Bla Navis 1:47.40
5. G. Pantano Durango 1:47.83
6. D. Hill Super Nova 1:48.10
7. B. Wirdheim Arden 1:48.74
8. T. Bell Arden 1:49.20
9. R. Gianmaria Durango 1:49.75
10. G. Mazzacane BCN 1:52.83

3/27/03
Industry News

Toyota stock price in free-fall   This Autoweek.com article talks about the significant drop in the price of Toyota stock since the beginning of the year, this for a company that is doing better than most and making a reasonable profit.

3/27/03

No new McLaren until June   Team boss Ron Dennis says the grand prix appearance of MP4-18A may be delayed as late as the Canadian Grand Prix in June - the mid-point of season 2003 - even though it should begin track testing late next month. 'We won't bring the new car in prematurely,' the boss of 2003's only F1 winners David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen said. Their present racing mount, the older MP4-17D, comprises substantial aerodynamic and mechanical steps from its 2002 configuration including a new rear-end, gearbox and wing structures. Dennis adds, 'We didn't come into the season expecting to be as competitive as we are but we are delighted it has gone so well.'

3/27/03

Bernie says qualifying will change   The new one-lap qualifying system has been described as “horrible” by F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone. He believes all the excitement has gone and suggests the FIA will wait a bit longer before changing it. Ecclestone told the Brazilian new agency Agencia Estado, “They [the drivers] don't have the chance to try to beat a rival who has better their time. "There's no fighting - the excitement of qualifying has gone."

3/27/03
Industry News

Shell Oil to cut workforce   Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Cos. said Wednesday that up to 15 percent of its global exploration and production work force, or about 4,300 jobs, will be axed by 2006. Walter van de Vijver, managing director of Shell's E&P business, which employs 28,600 people worldwide, announced the cuts in a presentation to analysts. Van de Vijver said they were part of Shell's reorganization of its upstream business, which involves the discovery, drilling and production of oil and natural gas products. Shell was updating analysts with further details of its restructuring plan announced in February, designed to consolidate separate worldwide business units into five regional centers. Simon Buerk, a spokesman for Shell in London, said the location of the job cuts was still to be determined.

3/27/03

NASCAR ad policy baffling at times  This USA Today article talks about how NASCAR decides what sponsors are appropriate for NASCAR.

3/27/03

Gearbox does in Monteiro   The gear box of the Reynard # 7 driven by Tiago Monteiro had problems right from the opening lap in the Monterrey Grand Prix refusing to go into 5th gear and preventing the Portuguese driver from defending the ninth placing from which he started, due to electronic problems. But things just got worse when it stuck in 6th on the third lap, causing the Fittipaldi Dingman Racing driver to prematurely abandon the race. The driver from Oporto, who drove a errorless weekend and who had obtained ninth position in the qualifying, knew that this race was going to be difficult, but never guessed that he would be forced to pull his car over into the sidelines so early on  the third lap of the Mexican racetrack. “I did my duty, I made no mistakes but problems can appear at any time and for any driver. We know that races also have this less pleasant side, and we just have to think about the next race” stated Tiago Monteiro resignedly. “The start went normally until it came time to get into 5th gear, which would not go in, which made things a little complicated. I then spoke to Emerson on the radio, who asked me if I could keep on with the race? I said yes, but I lost several positions. I was losing quite a bit in two areas of the circuit, but I could continue the race and try to finish to maybe get some points. I wanted to hold out, as we had all worked so hard in the team in a difficult weekend where we learned a lot. Then the gear box stuck in 6th and I had to give up”, explained Tiago Monteiro who wanted to finish the whole race to get more experience. The next step will be two days testing in Phoenix and then the 3rd race of the season in Long Beach, California, on April 13th.

3/27/03

Barrichello still crying like a baby   All the CART, NASCAR and other drivers use the HANS Device, including many in F1, with no problem.  But because Rubens Barrichello (and Justin Wilson) did not take the time before the season to get a properly fitting HANS Device, he continues to cry like a baby without his bottle about having to wear the thing.  With all the money Ferrari is paying him, he should just fly to the USA, get it fit  properly, and move on.  Talk about F1 drivers being overpaid Prima Dona's. 

3/27/03

Bernie nears deal with CART   UPDATE In addition to the Guardian article, this Grandprix.com article gives another reason why Bernie may buy CART.  They paint the exact scenario AR1 painted months ago - that buy buying CART, Bernie could easily make it the new World Championship series should the manufacturers attempt to start their own series.  Mark C.  3/27/03 - Respected F1 journalist Alan Henry writes in this UK Guardian Newspaper article - Chris Pook, the chief executive officer of CART, met Bernie Ecclestone last week amid speculation that the formula one commercial rights holder is poised to buy a controlling stake in the North American championship. A senior formula one source suggested yesterday that, unless the manufacturers row back from their threat to launch a breakaway world championship in 2008, Ecclestone could suggest to the sport's governing body, the FIA, that CART become the official formula one world championship (gee, where did you hear that before?). Pook, founder of the Long Beach grand prix in California, which was run as a round of the formula one world championship from 1976 to 1983, is a long-time ally of Ecclestone, who purchased a stake in the Long Beach race after it became a round of the CART series in 1984. Shares in CART, a publicly quoted company, have slumped to around $3. Asked last year if he would be interested in buying into CART, Ecclestone hinted he would consider it if the shares fell to $6. Speculation that Ecclestone would take a stake in CART was heightened when David Clare, for eight years one of his most trusted members of the formula one administration management team, took over as CART's chief operating officer alongside Pook late last year. CART is also set to expand further outside the United States. For the past two years it has competed on the Rockingham oval track, near Corby in Northamptonshire, and this year it will return to Brands Hatch for the first time since 1978. There are also plans for a race at Estoril, the former venue for the Portuguese grand prix, next year. The FIA is set to take a positive view of such expansion. "The FIA is here to encourage international motor racing and we would do whatever we could to help," said its president Max Mosley. Ecclestone's association with CART would raise the series' profile and profitability in the wake of the damaging split with the Indy Racing League at the end of 1995 which divided the US racing establishment into two separate camps. Up to now the IRL, based around the blue ribbon Indianapolis 500, has had the upper hand, with CART left very much in the second division. CART's association with formula one would encourage the flow of American drivers into formula one and stimulate interest within the United States, which has hitherto shown a marked indifference to the grand prix series. Ecclestone's links with circuits across the world will also help CART's profile and the association with formula one will inevitably enhance its attraction as a television package within the US where it has been struggling against IRL over the past six years. Further evidence that CART and formula one may be on a converging course is emphasized by Pook's plans to switch to three-liter V10 engines, similar to those used in grand prix events, from the start of 2005.   More....

3/27/03
Industry News

CARA Soap is Hope project   This month CARA Charities has introduced its newest project, “Soap Is Hope”, for battered, abused and homeless women, men and children throughout North America by donating items from the racing industry. CARA Charities, founded in 1981 and serves the open-wheel community through charitable work, plans to bring hope to battered and abused women, men and children, the homeless and disadvantaged by helping provide them with toiletry essentials. “All of us in the racing industry travel, and our hotel rooms always have sample size soap, shampoo, conditioners, etc,” said Mary Lou Bogner, national director for CARA Charities. “We are asking our community to collect any extra-unused items and bring them to the track. We will have a collection site at the ministry location for the event weekend. Every little bit helps. These efforts will go a long way toward improving this group’s self esteem and independence. If everyone could donate any new full sized items, they would also be very welcome. Together we can make a difference!” The “Soap Is Hope” toiletries, donated from the entire racing community including spectators, sponsors, officials, crew persons and drivers, will be collected by CARA Charities members at the IRL and ChampCar events – in a designated paddock area – and distributed to the local women and children’s shelters in the local areas surrounding the racing events. CARA Charities, entering its third decade of service to the auto racing community, has been one of the most recognized charitable groups in all of motorsports and has donated nearly $3.5 million in the charity’s 22 years. Projects like “Buckle Up Baby” has helped CARA Charities, along with the Bridgestone/Firestone Trust Fund, donate over $500,000 to children’s hospitals and clinics throughout North America. In 2000, CARA Charities was awarded the National highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Buckle Up America Champion Award in recognition of this successful program. In 2003, CARA Charities is preparing for another outstanding year of fund raising through its activities including the Indy 500 Fashion Show in May, the “Taste of CART” at Mid-Ohio in August, Indy Shop Tour in September and the Christmas Ornament program.

3/27/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

Hostile Media Turns Schu Off F1?
'Purist' Boss Wants Rules Changed
Pedro Leads Field In Spain
Keep Pressure On Schu: Montoya
Britain To Lose Formula One?
Punters Want Piece Of Rookie
Alex Wurz: Thumbs-Down To HANS
Jordan Pleased With Rivals' Envy
Williams Make 'Giant' Gearbox Leap
June Delay For New McLaren
Ferrari Admit Early Errors
Pedro Eyes Full-Time McLaren Job
Big-Hitters Dismiss Renault Charge
Renault Praise For Shrewd Boss
Coulthard Eyes F1's Biggest Prize
Supermodel Handed Checkered Flag
Sauber C22 Gets New Aero Kit
New Team Target Jaguar Chassis
Ferrari Stifle Rubens Rumors

3/27/03

ALMS teams get LeMans green light   Racing teams that compete in the American Le Mans Series are prevalent on the list of 50 teams selected for the 2003 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans that was announced Thursday by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), organizers of the famed endurance racing classic. The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be run June 14-15 at the Circuit de La Sarthe in France. Teams that also competed regularly in the American Le Mans Series have won the event overall four straight years and have also scored numerous class wins. Of the 50 selected teams, 32 were represented in the recent Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the event that opened the 2003 season for the American Le Mans Series, and at least 20 are expected to regularly compete in American Le Mans Series events in 2003. Because of the strong relationship that exists between the American Le Mans Series and the ACO, teams that regularly compete in American Le Mans Series events receive special consideration in the selection process for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Three of the invited teams received automatic berths in the 24 Hours of Le Mans due to their class wins in last year’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the final event of the American Le Mans Series season. The relationship between the Series and the ACO also includes designating the Petit Le Mans as a qualifying event for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The teams receiving automatic berths for winning at Road Atlanta last October include Corvette Racing, which has won the GTS class at Le Mans the past two seasons and will field two cars at Le Mans. Also included are Intersport Racing (LMP 675 class) and Alex Job Racing (GT class), both of which will be racing at Le Mans for the first time in 2003 and will field single-car entries. Five teams that will regularly compete in American Le Mans Series events in 2003 have received invitations for the LMP 900 (Prototype) class, including the two-car JML Team Panoz entry (Panoz LMP01), Jim Matthews/Riley & Scott Racing (R&S MkIIIC-Yates), ADT Champion Racing (Audi R8) and the Sezio Florida Racing Team (Norma M2000-2-Ford). The class includes 16 cars. The LMP 675 class for smaller Prototypes includes seven cars, with invitees Intersport Racing (Lola EX257-MG) and Team Bucknum Racing (Pilbeam MP91) also slated to run the full American Le Mans Series this season. The two factory Chevrolet Corvette C5-R machines from Corvette Racing head the 10-car GTS class. In addition to the Corvettes, other teams in the class that will run the American Le Mans Series schedule include Carsport America (Pagani Zonda GR), Konrad Motorsport (Saleen S7R) and Veloqx Prodrive Racing with a pair of Ferrari 550 Maranellos. Fifteen cars have been invited to compete at Le Mans in the GT class, with seven of them American Le Mans Series regulars. Leading the way is The Racers Group, which won the GT class at Le Mans last year with a Porsche 91 GT3 RS. The Job team, which won the GT class team championship in the American Le Mans Series last year, will also run a Porsche, as will Orbit Racing and Seikel Motorsport. Risi Competizione will run a pair of Ferrari 360 Modenas at Le Mans, while JMB Racing will run a single Ferrari. Six cars have been chosen as Reserve Cars, including second entries from Konrad Motorsport, The Racers Group and Orbit. Five of the six Reserve Cars competed at Sebring earlier this month. The 56 selected cars have been invited to take part in a special Pre-Practice session at Le Mans on May 4. The full list can be viewed at www.lemans.org.

3/27/03

Mexican fans trust in Pook   A Mexican fan sends this photo from last weekends CART race in Monterrey, Mexico.

3/27/03

CART TV rating for Monterrey   UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, wasn't Joe Heitzler the one who got this TV contract with SPEED?  Wasn't he the one who sold himself as a TV experts who would land CART this great TV contract?  Amazing.  And he's suing CART?  If the man had any principals he would just go away quietly given what he did to the series.  Mordichai Rosen, LA, Calif3/27/03 - CART's TV rating for last weekends Monterrey, Mexico race was another dismal result - a 0.15, down from a 0.20 for St. Pete.  The war likely had a slight affect, but the IRL was up slightly from last year in Phoenix.  In a nutshell, you're talking about 97,000 homes tuned in -- with an announced (but obviously inflated) crowd of 92,000, CART had roughly the same amount of people watching in person as they did on TV.  The ratings seem suspect, very suspect, but that's all we have to go with.  CART and its teams are not going to land any sponsors with TV ratings like that, and will soon go out of business.  Rather than deal with a bankrupt CART, SPEED would be better off cutting CART loose now so it can get its races on network TV or another cable network where it gets decent ratings, with SPEED picking up overseas races, qualifying and other "specials".  In order for a contract to work, it needs to work for both party's.  At this rate, we can't believe ratings like that are working for either party.  Mark C.

3/27/03
Industry News

Big profits for GM in China General Motors' (GM) mainland joint venture had a fourfold gain in profit last year after rising incomes and easier financing lifted sales of its Buick and Sail cars in Asia's fastest-growing market. Shanghai General Motors net income surged to 2.9 billion yuan (about HK$2.72 billion) last year from 749 million yuan in 2001, said Zhang Tao, an official at Shanghai Automotive, GM's partner. Sales rose 61 per cent to 18.5 billion yuan.  Boshi Fund Management's Zhou Feng in Shenzhen said: "We are very optimistic about GM's sales growth in China." He indicated the vehicle market would expand at least 30 per cent a year during the next five to 10 years. Half of GM's US$1.5 billion venture in the mainland's biggest city, which produces Buick and Sail cars, is owned by the Shanghai Automotive group. Shanghai Auto directly owns 20 per cent. General Motors China Group chairman Philip Murtaugh said: "GM improved its performance and increased its investments in China."  Bloomberg

3/26/03

Changes to the Winston  There will be a slight change to the qualifying format of The Winston, scheduled to run at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 17th. In 2002 teams could make their mandatory pit stop anytime during the 3 lap qualifying run. This year team must pit after they take the green flag to qualifying and before the end of their 3 laps. The drive must enter pit road at the normal pit road speed [45mph I think], but after the pitstop is completed, there will be no pit road speed once they exit their pit box. Also, during the race, plans are once again to invert the field, how it will be inverted or how many drivers is to be determined. The top 20 will advance to the 2nd segment (of three) and top 14 after the 2nd segment will advance to the 3rd segment. Winston Cup Scene - Subscription Required to read online

3/26/03

Zanardi returns to EuroSpeedway as Grand Marshal   18 months after his serious accident, Alex Zanardi returns as Grand Marshal to the EuroSpeedway Lausitz Germany, Klettwitz, March 26, 2003. After his serious accident in the première year of the German 500, the Italian racing driver Alessandro "Alex" Zanardi returns to the EuroSpeedway Lausitz as Grand Marshal on the occasion of the Champ Car race on May 11th. This was announced today by CART, the Champ Car umbrella organization, and EuroSpeedway Lausitz. As Grand Marshal, the former Formula One pilot and Champ Car champion will be the highest representative of the Champ Car World Series at the race in Germany. Just 18 months after his serious accident, in which Alex Zanardi lost both legs, he will speak the famous start phrase: "Gentlemen, start your engines", and thus send the Champ Car pilots into the race. The Champ Car drivers and teams responded to this announcement with great joy and respect. At EuroSpeedway Lausitz, everyone is especially delighted by this honor. Hans-Joerg Fischer, the managing director of EuroSpeedway Lausitz, remarked: "Like no other racing driver, Alex Zanardi stands for motor sports with all its facets. We have even greater respect for his outstanding personality and the way in which Alex Zanardi mastered his fate. It is an extraordinary honor for my team and me, for CART and all Champ Car pilots, as well as for the entire Lausitz region, to be able to welcome him again as a member of this great international family at the German 500."

3/26/03

Barron to replace injured de Ferran   Penske Racing, Inc. announced plans to continue fielding two Marlboro Team Penske entries at Twin Ring, Motegi on Sunday, April 13th. Two-time National Champion and full time Marlboro Team Penske driver Gil de Ferran will not compete due to injuries suffered at Phoenix International Raceway. His replacement will be IndyCar Series veteran Alex Barron. “Obviously I am extremely disappointed that I will be unable to compete at the inaugural event at Twin Ring Motegi. I wish Alex and the Team the best of luck in Japan,” said de Ferran. “I respect Dr. Bock’s decision and want to thank the medical staffs of the Indy Racing League, Phoenix International Raceway and Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Phoenix for their excellent care.” De Ferran is expected to make a full recovery in time to begin activities for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500-mile race on Sunday, May 25th. “Gil suffered a minor fracture of the neck & lower back and a slight concussion,” said Dr. Henry Bock, Director of Medical Services, Indy Racing League. “These injuries will require a minimum of four weeks to heal, relegating Gil to the sideline for Motegi.” “Our primary concern is Gil’s health. We understand that Dr. Bock’s decision is in the best interest of Gil and his timely recovery,” said Tim Cindric, President, Penske Racing, Inc. “It is important to our program to have an experienced driver in Gil’s car as we head to Motegi for the first time with the Indy Racing League. We are fortunate that Alex Barron is available under these circumstances.” Last season Barron finished fifth in the IRL IndyCar Series point standings on the strength of 11 top-ten finishes in 15 events, including his first IndyCar Series victory at Nashville Superspeedway. He was also named co-Rookie of the Year for his fourth place finish at the 86th Indianapolis 500-mile race. “I look forward to representing Marlboro Team Penske and Roger again, though these are certainly difficult circumstances,” said Barron. “I wish Gil all the best for a speedy recovery.”

3/26/03
F3000

Townsend Bell blisters Jerez The first of 3 days of testing for Townsend Bell at Jerez in Spain took place today with the young Californian setting the pace for the 6 teams running in a private session. Tbell turned a time of 1 minute 33.54 seconds on his fastest lap edging his teammate Bjorn Wirdheim by a tenth of a second. Neither driver in the ARDEN International team had raced or tested at Jerez prior to today. Bell commented, "We are here to learn more about the setup and how the car reacts to changes, than to prepare for a race here". This track in Southern Spain in not on either the F3000 or the F1 schedule. Christian Horner, team boss said, "both drivers have been working through different programs on this first day of our testing here at Jerez. Townsend was impressively quick today and is working well in his new surroundings". Today's unofficial times (no FIA timing until Thursday and Fridays testing) are as follows:
1. T. Bell Arden 1:33.54
2. B. Wirdheim Arden 1:33.64
3. G. Pantano Durango 1:33.91
4. J. Janis ISR 1:34.04
5. Y. Schroeder ISR 1:34.40
6. G. Bruni Durango 1:34.72
The full contingent of challengers in the F3000 series is expected to be at Jerez for Thursday and Friday's official FIA test.

3/26/03

Phoenix crowd   A few readers have asked what the crowd looked like at Phoenix last weekend for the IRL race.  This photo was taken just before the race was starting.  Click to see wider view.

3/26/03

De la Rosa tops testing in Barcelona today  

1 Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.506 31 laps
2 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.132 65 laps
3 Marc Gene WilliamsF1 BMW 1:16.144 85 laps
4 Juan Pablo Montoya WilliamsF1 BMW 1:16.373 73 laps
5 Luca Badoer Ferrari 1:17.571 65 laps
6 Jenson Button BAR Honda 1:17.734 107 laps
7 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1:17.964 87 laps
8 Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1:18.157 73 laps
9 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber Petronas 1:19.105 89 laps

3/26/03

Menard Cheever buy TWR   Menard Cheever Technologies (MCT) has acquired the independent United Kingdom engine design company, TWR Engines, announced owners John Menard and Eddie Cheever Jr. today. The move reinforces the company's intention to become a worldwide leader in the design and supply of engines, vehicles and associated technology. "This is a big step for the technical company Eddie and I formed last year," John Menard said. "The resources and knowledge of the workforce at TWR Engines opens the door to a great number of new business opportunities. We look forward to continuing, and building upon, the excellence they have achieved in the motorsports and automotive industries." TWR Engines will now be named MCT, U.K. and will be based out of its existing facility in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, England. Service to current and future customers will be provided from this U.K. facility as well as the expanded MCT facility in Indianapolis, Ind. Charlie Bamber will continue to lead the group as General Manager of MCT, U.K.

3/26/03

Fishel to drive pace car   Herb Fishel, the executive director of GM Racing, will drive the Chevy SSR Official Pace Vehicle at the start of the 2003 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. As Official Pace Vehicle driver, Fishel will lead the 33-car starting field of the world’s greatest auto race to a green-flag start at 11 a.m. (EST) Sunday, May 25. “During Herb’s career at General Motors, he had a greater influence on the Indianapolis 500 than most people realize,” said Tony George, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I am excited for Herb that after 40 years in motorsports with GM, he will have the opportunity to realize a lifelong dream by pacing the Indy 500. “During the 20 years I have known Herb, I have witnessed many of his contributions to motorsports at Indy, at Le Mans and in Winston Cup, and I have personally benefited from his experience, knowledge and guidance.” Fishel is entering the 40th year of his career and has been a powerful behind-the-scenes force in American motorsports. Being on center stage at the start of the world’s largest single-day sporting event is the culmination of a lifelong dream, he said. “Driving the SSR Indy 500 Pace Vehicle as I enter the 40th year of my career is a tremendous honor,” Fishel said. “I’m going to make the most of this opportunity. If I can take 1,000 people around the track in the month of May, I’ll do it!

3/26/03

Andretti turns in his own Indy 500 entry   Acting in his capacity as owner of Andretti Green Racing, Michael Andretti today filed his entry for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500, which will be held on May 25. It was the first time in his 20-year career that Andretti, who has competed in 13 Indy 500’s, personally filed his own entry. The 40-year old driver announced this past January he would retire from competition following this year’s Indy 500 to focus his attention on his ownership role at Andretti Green Racing (AGR), with partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, was in Indianapolis today to file entries for AGR’s four-car Indy 500 effort. “This is a bit of a strange feeling for me,” Andretti said to Brian Barnhart, the Indy Racing League’s senior vice president, racing operations. “Along with being here to file entries for Andretti Green Racing drivers Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon, I am also here to turn in my own for the Indy 500. It’s the first time I have to do this and I’ll say that it feels kind of odd to be handing in the one for my very last race.” Along with filing his official Indy 500 entry in the #7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, Andretti also confirmed that Andretti Green would also field Tony Kanaan in the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, Dario Franchitti in the #27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone as well as Dan Wheldon, who will make his IndyCar Series debut with AGR at the Indy 500, in the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone. “We are extremely excited to be fielding four cars for this race,” added Andretti. “We believe that we have clearly demonstrated our ability to run a first-rate organization and are confident that we can be competitive in Indianapolis this year. While I believe that any of our drivers could win the Indy 500, I certainly have my sights set on winning this race for the first time in my career.”

3/26/03

NASCAR considering Ephedra ban  NASCAR gives random drug tests but does not check for ephedra, which has been banned by other sports leagues but is sold in malls and grocery stores. Kevin Triplett, NASCAR's managing director of business operations, says an ephedra ban "is something we're looking at." Ephedra, which is extracted from an Asian plant, is banned in college sports, the Olympics, the NFL and minor league baseball. Although supplement manufacturer Stacker 2 sponsors Kenny Wallace's race #23 car, Triplett says that would not stop NASCAR from considering an ephedra ban. Karen Finocchio, vice president of marketing for NVE, Stacker 2's parent company, says the company stands behind its ephedra supplement but notes it also offers an ephedra-free version. She says users should follow the extensive set of guidelines printed on the bottle. "Take it as directed," she says. "Consult your physician. ... Know your limitations." USA Today

3/26/03

Compromise on Autopsy fight  According to this New Bern Sun Journal article, Autopsy photos would be open to viewing by the general public, but only certain people would be allowed to receive copies of such photos under a proposal that made its way out of a House committee on Tuesday. The compromise bill adopted by a House Judiciary committee would allow copies of autopsy photos to be distributed to:
* The chief medical examiner or his designee.
* The investigating medical examiner, the district attorney, a superior court judge and law enforcement officials.
* A personal representative of the deceased (such as the next-of-kin).
* A person authorized by court order and another medical examiner or doctor who would use the photo for teaching and training purposes.
Anyone denied access to copies of the photos can file a special proceeding before a clerk of court. Clerks would be authorized to grant the request if they think the person asking for the photos has good cause.

3/26/03

Will 2003 be the last year for the British GP?   According to this BBC article, The British Grand Prix could be axed next season, according to ex-Formula One driver Martin Brundle, chairman of the company that owns Silverstone.  Brundle - chairman of the British Racing Drivers' Club, which leases the circuit to Octagon Motorsports - said: "I think you have to question the British Grand Prix after this year. "There is no short-term answer that is apparent yet." F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has long criticized the annual race at Silverstone, claiming the facilities and traffic control is sub-standard. But the event was thrown into fresh doubt when Octagon decided to sell up earlier this month. It would be bizarre if there was a Turkish Grand Prix and not a British Grand Prix. Octagon bought a 15-year lease to run the Grand Prix in 1999, but parent company Interpublic is planning to sell all its motorsport business because of debts. And it remains unclear whether Octagon will find a buyer - Ecclestone has himself admitted that the contract he struck with company was not commercially viable.

3/26/03


It's the drivers in ads stupid!   A Racing News Online article by Chapman Rackaway echoes our sentiments exactly regarding promotion of the drivers in all their ads as the real secret to their success.  - NASCAR has the sponsors, but the IRL and CART have had big-name sponsors with big checkbooks, too. Only NASCAR has managed to attempt building real brand equity and name recognition by using the drivers as a central part of its advertising. NASCAR will continue to be successful over the next few years as long as the advertisers continue to showcase the drivers and give them vehicles to show off their personalities. Watching a NASCAR race, your bladder might cramp because not only do you not want to miss the race, you don't want to miss the commercials. It's the Super Bowl of ads, every week. Case in point is the UPS campaign, which might be sport's best ad run. UPS wasn't going to make Dale Jarrett into something he's not. Jarrett is not a screamer, or a big joker. Instead, Gentleman Jarrett's son, much like his dad, is a quiet man with focus. Jarrett's not going to be a sly wit like some other racers can be. So, UPS made him the straight man, and he's excellent in the role. Most of UPS' commercials come easily to memory, partly because of Jarrett's dazed expression as he reacts to one ridiculous request to race the truck after another.....NASCAR has created, intentionally or not, an independent force that expands the NASCAR brand identity. Through NASCAR racers being present in ads that run during races and after, the drivers, sponsors, and series all develop widespread awareness with viewers. When was the last time you could recall an IndyCar or ChampCar driver that you identified with an ad on television? Target's sponsorship doesn't count, since they included CART cars with their Winston Cup Ganassi efforts. The ad presence isn't the end all and be all of NASCAR's success, but it helps NASCAR build itself into an ever-greater series. Why will NASCAR continue to be successful in the future? It's the ads, stupid!

3/26/03

CART to drop mandatory pit window   According to this Autoweek article, CART's mandatory pit window rule, which no one has anything good to say about, will disappear at Brands Hatch in May.

3/26/03

Kerry Earnhardt looking forward to dream start  FitzBradshaw Racing and driver Kerry Earnhardt have entered the No. 83 Aaron’s Dream Machine Chevrolet for the Samsung/RadioShack 500. Earnhardt, 20th in this week’s NASCAR Busch Series points, was slated to drive the No. 83 Aaron’s Dream Machine in select NASCAR Winston Cup Series races during the 2002 season, however, rain cancelled qualifying for all events he entered. Those were FitzBradshaw's first attempts in NASCAR Winston Cup Series and no owner points had been accumulated; thus no provisional berths were available to the older brother of Dale Earnhardt Jr. … “We’re excited about this race,” Kerry Earnhardt said. “We tried a couple times last year to make races, and each time we tried we got rained out. It was a pretty big joke around the garage.”

3/26/03

Dale Jr. in another kind of fast lane  Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) has a cameo role, playing himself, in Friday’s (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.

3/26/03

Concern for de Ferran's health  2nd UPDATE The growing awareness of the potential adverse consequences of concussion has resulted in the implementation of baseline neuropsychological testing by the majority of National Football League (NFL) teams, the entire National Hockey League (NHL).  See related article.  We don't expect de Ferran will want to risk racing in the IRL much longer.   3/25/03 - Gil de Ferran will be out at least six weeks, which means he will miss the Motegi race, but should be ready to qualify in time for the Indy 500.  3/24/03 - Since going to the IRL, Gil de Ferran has now had two concussions in less that six months from hitting concrete walls.  Concussions are traumatic head injuries that occur from both mild and severe blows to the head. Some head injuries may appear to be mild but research is finding that concussions can have serious, long-term effects. Repeat head injuries or cumulative concussions, can have long-term implications. Recent studies on the cumulative effects of concussions in high school athletes have shown that even mild concussions can result in serious long-term problems, particularly if an athlete is allowed to return to play too early, or has a history of concussions or other head injuries.  According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the brain has an increased vulnerability to severe, perhaps permanent, injury for at least a full day following a concussion. In a study with mice, the effects of a second brain trauma within 24 hours seemed temporary. The mice returned to almost normal and did well on tests of cognitive and motor skills. But, at about 56 days, there was "a measurable breakdown in motor skills and, subsequently, a breakdown in the cells of the brain," said Tracy K. McIntosh, Ph.D., the Director of the Penn Head Injury Center. "Our findings represent the first real attempt to look at the science behind head injuries – and we were startled to see how permanent the damage can be," he said. This has serious implications for amateur and professional athletes, as well as victims of abuse and accidents, because permanent cognitive damage is not immediate. The effects of RHI may not be felt for months later. A growing body of data suggests that those who suffer RHIs in sports may be at greater risk for neurodegenerative diseases later in life. The cumulative damage from successive concussions can increase the risk of premature senility, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease, neurologists warn. [Journal of Neurosurgery, November 2001].  A number of IRL drivers have retired early, after their Neurologists recommended to them that another concussion could seriously impair them.  One has to think that Gil's doctors are telling him to stay away from the concrete walls, hence ovals.  Mark C.

3/26/03

What racing in Beijing would mean for CART   These days China does not do anything small.  They have such a vast population, that racing will get a big attendance and big TV ratings.  How big?  Consider this - An estimated 26 million viewers in the Beijing area alone, tuned in to the opening F1 round in Australia. The race was broadcast in China by its only national TV company, CCTV, who are committed to screening all this year's races.  Racing is growing in popularity in China, and with CART in Beijing and F1 in Shanghai, Bernie will have China covered.  CART will be on CCTV as well, expect that announcement in Long Beach we hear.  Alex Yoong, who is half Chinese and half English (though a Malaysian citizen) will be a key element of CART's foray into China in 2005.  F1 racing in Shanghai in 2004 will raise China's awareness of racing, paving the way for CART (hopefully called F1A by then) into Beijing.  Beijing will not be outdone by Shanghai, that sort of thing just does not happen in China where there is a great rivalry between Beijing and Shanghai.  Shanghai is projected to fill its 200,000 grandstand seats for its F1 race.  We guess Beijing will build at least 200,001 for its CART circuit. Mark C.

3/26/03

Barrichello could miss home race   Ruebens Barrichello will be testing a modified version (identical to the one worn by David Coulthard) of HANS during a test session at the Circuit de Cataluyña in Barcelona, Spain, this week, but if the problems cannot be rectified over the weekend then he could well miss the next race. "Malaysia showed that with the current set-up Rubens feels pain but I would expect we will be able to solve the problem," a Ferrari spokesperson was quoted as saying by British broadsheet The Daily Telegraph. "We are testing a new system and for the time being we are not speculating on having any more difficulties with it. But if any driver is not comfortable then we would use our second driver."

3/26/03

Roush thinks Toyota will be bad for NASCAR   Jack Roush, head of Roush Racing, said Tuesday that while Toyota will bring new sponsors and generate added interest in stock car racing, America would be better off if NASCAR stayed ``red, white and blue.'' Toyota will become the first Japanese manufacturer to compete in one of NASCAR's top three divisions next year when it enters the Craftsman Truck Series. The company is expected to move up to Winston Cup within a few years. Tampa Tribune

3/26/03

Paul Tracy interview   You may be interested in reading this interview with Champ Car points leader Paul Tracy in Ask Men Magazine.

3/26/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

Testing Resumes At Barcelona
HANS Or Else At Brazilian GP
Pedro Back In Silver Overalls
Ralf Expects 'Many' '03 Race Wins
Austria Fight To Win F1 Back
Schu Favorite For Laureus Prize
Pat On The Back For F1 Rookie
No Need To Panic: Ferrari Chief
Race Wins Unlikely, Admit Renault
New F1 Team Eyes 2004 Season
Cristiano Ogles Home Grand Prix
HANS Concern To Sideline Barrichello?
Bridgestone Play Down Concern

3/26/03

Best ever crowd for Malaysia   According to organizers of the Malaysian Grand Prix, the weekend's racing was the most attended since its inaugural event in 1999.  The event attracted 101,485 fans on race day - the first time the figure has passed six digits since Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine dominated the debut grand prix in 1999.   Race officials add that the heat and humidity failed to detract a total of 168,000 enthusiastic spectators over the three days of Formula One action.

3/26/03

Strange bedfellows   David Phillips points out in this SPEED article, - name another sport where you’d find the ex-CEO of the organizing body suing both the organization and a couple of its most prominent team owners while employed by a third team owner (Gerald Forsythe), who also happens to be the largest single shareholder of the organization said ex-CEO is litigating. And just what is that ex-CEO doing for said team owner? Why, working as the new CEO of two of the biggest events on the schedule of the organization he’s suing, of course. If truth were ever stranger than fiction it was the sight of ousted CART CEO Joseph Heitzler working the Fundidora Park paddock, press room and operations center as GRAND’s CEO of the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix; much as he figures to do eight months down the road as GRAND’s CEO of the Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City......This would also be the same Gerald Forsythe who, on the one hand, has a rather frosty relationship with Heitzler’s successor—Chris Pook—and on the other hand, is backing Pook’s efforts to engineer what appears to be a takeover of CART by Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone; and who does not hesitate to make that initiative public even though publicity about his business moves is anathema to Mr. Ecclestone . . ..Meanwhile, there was Heitzler talking on pit lane with Carl Haas (who he’s suing for defamation of character) while a bevy of fellow former CART employees including Don Helms and Martin Thake (ex-television marketing director and senior manager of circuit development, respectively) roamed Fundidora Park in “GRAND” polo shirts. Racing makes strange bedfellows indeed.

3/26/03

Rebuttal to Brock Yates   In response to Brock Yates latest article, a reader writes, Dear Brock,
It is the year two-thousand and three. The alleged “good old days” you thirst for, the days of Foyt, Mears, Gurney, et al have passed for good. Get a grip Man! Change is inevitable. The sport must evolve or die. All The * Grandson is doing with the IRL is retarding (no pun intended) this evolution by foisting “his vision,” version 2.0 now, on an ever dwindling base of open wheel oval racing fans that are increasingly sending their disposable motorsports dollar to Daytona Beach.

It was refreshing to read your current assessment of the IRL in relationship to the upcoming 500, a race which has been a hollow shell of itself since the day The * Grandson decided he would reserve grid positions for his IRL cronies. The CART teams pushed cinch and went on to build CART into the premier motorsports series in North America. But eventually the lure of that yard of bricks became to strong. One-by-one the CART teams trickled back to Indy with their one-off, May only dash-for-the-cash efforts. They came. They won. They took all of Tony’s money home. Year-after-year the CART contingent siphoned off the big money until Tony finally said “Enough!” and motorsports fans got last years “competition managed” disgrace. Bearing in mind the fact an “Indy 500” fan is not necessarily the same thing as a “motorsports fan,” I believe the “motorsports fans” that viewed last years 500 decided they no longer shared in Tony’s “vision.” The “Indy 500 fans” never noticed as they were dozing after their afternoon Ensure. Tony and NASCAR will put the IRL in the ground. Not CART.

CART on the other hand is adapting to the times, to the realities of the market place and the global economy. CART (Mr. Pook) knows it must deliver value for the motorsports dollar invested by fans and sponsors. That means putting a quality product (it’s all about the quality of the racin’) where the population base is. I too love Road America and hate to see it go. But I am more than willing to sacrifice 5 R/As for one race on Chicago’s lake front, or any other Top 10 ADI market for that matter. Ditto Mid-Ohio.

CART also realizes, unlike NASCAR and the IRL, that the technology must also evolve. Global compression of the manufacturing base means the companies that will invest in the future of the sport must have some sensible economies of scale along with ROI to take to their Board of Directors. Over time these economies of scale will reduce the cost of competition while increasing manufacturer diversity and competition.  I do agree on the methanol vs. high octane pump gas issue. At least everyone will be able to SEE the fire for a change (again, technology to the rescue. I must assume SOMEONE will have the safety thing worked out by the time they race ‘em).

The future of motorsports on a global level is about the stakeholders (I know the term is almost cliché, but it applies in spirit). Motorsport is not, thank God, like stick-and-ball sport. As Hemmingway said, “the only TRUE sports are mountain climbing, bull fighting and motor racing. The rest are mere child’s games.” Motorsports requires a special investment from all it’s constituents in order to succeed. CART enjoys this commitment from it’s fan base and will, I have no doubt, soon enjoy the same commitment from the sponsors because CART is adapting it’s product to fulfill the needs of their stakeholders. The IRL, and to a lesser extent NASCAR, are not doing this. I sure hope Honda and Toyota and all the x-CART teams are getting what they’re paying for. Judging by the number of fans in the stands at Phoenix and Homestead . . . . they are.

Freedom & Whiskey (yes Brock, I know who said that first),

J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois
(P.S. The Monday after CART’s outstanding Mexico event, a highly successful Town Meeting, and maybe Bernie’s eye for a good thing, CART’s stock value climbed 30%.)

3/25/03

Roush crew chief penalized   NASCAR suspended Trucks Series crew chief John Monsam for two months and fined him $1,500 Tuesday for using an illegal spring at Mesa Marin Raceway. NASCAR also fined Raymond Newman $250 for using unapproved jacking bolts on Ken Weaver's truck team. Monsam, crew chief for Jon Wood, will miss two races because the Truck Series does not run every weekend. He was penalized after inspectors found the right-front spring on the No. 50 Ford was illegal following Wood's second-place finish Sunday. Jack Roush, who fields the truck, was furious Monsam used an illegal spring. "We have a zero tolerance policy regarding rules compliance, and accordingly agree that NASCAR's penalty to John Monsam is fair under the circumstances," Roush said. "We do not expect John ever to repeat that type of decision again. He is a good man and crew chief, and I hope that everyone on the team can learn from this mistake so we can move ahead and focus on winning races." Roush did not announce a replacement for Monsam.

3/25/03
Industry News

Fiat to sell Toro Insurance  Fiat SpA, Italy's biggest manufacturer, agreed to sell its insurance unit to Finanziaria De Agostini, an investment company, for 2.4 billion euros ($2.5 billion), raising cash for its unprofitable auto business. The sale of Toro Assicurazioni SpA will cut Fiat's net debt by 1.4 billion euros and bring a capital gain of about 350 million euros, the Turin-based company said in an e-mailed statement. Fiat's net debt at the end of 2002 was 3.8 billion euros. Fiat had a record 2.9 billion-euro loss in the fourth quarter partly because of costs associated with cutting jobs and closing factories at its car unit. The company pledged to sell Toro, Italy's third-biggest insurer and the FiatAvio SpA aeronautics arm, two of its most profitable businesses, to invest in developing new car models. "The sale of Toro is a big sacrifice for us, but a necessary one to cut debt and sustain our development," said Fiat Chief Executive Officer Giuseppe Morchio.  Bloomberg

3/25/03
Industry News

TMS to debut new safety light system  In a continued commitment to improve driver safety, Texas Motor Speedway and System Electric Inc. of Fort Worth has developed and installed a unique new caution light system. The Warning Emergency System (WES) caution lights are imbedded in the asphalt at the base of the retaining walls in the speedway's four turns. The WES lights are available for use in this weekend's Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race and the O'Reilly 300 NASCAR Busch Series race should NASCAR choose to use them. "In our never-ending effort to improve driver safety, we wanted to develop caution lights that were directly in the view of the drivers," said Eddie Gossage, General Manager of Texas Motor Speedway. "In the turns the drivers are focusing on the race track ahead of them and since the WES lights are imbedded into the asphalt surface, our tests indicate the drivers will see them easier. We believe it will give the drivers quicker notification of a problem somewhere on the race track and that makes the racing safer." The initial application installed WES lights in eight different locations around Texas Motor Speedway. Four sets of WES lights are located in turns one and two while an additional four sets are located in turns three and four. The WES light system supplements the speedway's existing caution light system. The WES lights are similar to airport runway lights. Each location provides a 15- foot long strip of LED lights that are six inches wide. Each 15-foot section includes a total of 180 LED lights. Should the WES lights prove successful, it is possible to install the lights all the way around the speedway surface. Further development may also allow them to be installed along the inside apron of the turns. "The WES lights are very directional and are very bright to the driver even in the brightest part of the day," said Gossage. "Only fans sitting at a perfect angle will be able to see the lights but to the drivers they will be very clear and visible." Developing the WES lights were Dwayne Lyons, Electrical Engineer for System Electric; Wes Harris, Vice President of Development for Speedway Motorsports Inc.; Jim Stufflebeam, Director of Development for Texas Motor Speedway; and Mat Stolley, Director of Operations for Texas Motor Speedway.

3/25/03

Argent to sponsor Toyota Atlantic race at Long Beach   The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach announced that Argent Mortgage Company, LLC has agreed to become the Official Mortgage Company of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and title sponsor of its CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race scheduled for Sunday, April 13. Argent Mortgage Company, with headquarters in Orange, Calif., is also the sponsor of the Team Argent #24 racecar piloted by rookie driver Danica Patrick in the CART Toyota Atlantic Series Championship. The Team Argent car is owned by three-time CART champion Bobby Rahal and talk show host David Letterman. "We just recently changed our name to Argent Mortgage Company in January," said Johanna Padberg, Vice President of Marketing. "The re-branding of our identity has been our priority and sponsorship of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach creates awareness as well as the opportunity to entertain our key clients."

3/25/03

CART stock watch  Final UPDATE

An outstanding day today for MPH!
MPH closed at $4.25 Up $0.98 on Volume of 225,600 shares.
$3.53 Bid - $4.47 Ask on close.
Session Low/High $3.51 / $4.31
MPH Value Change Up 29.97%
DOW Jones Up 65.55 or 0.8% on Volume of 1.58 billion shares.
NASDAQ Up 21.23 or 1.55%
S&P 500 Up 10.51 or 1.22%
Courtesy of C3I.AndersonGroupe - Chicago
www.andersongroupe.com

3/25/03

Badoer back on track  Ferrari got their Brazilian Grand Prix preparations underway at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain on Tuesday. Rubens Barrichello and Luca Badoer were in action for the Scuderia and the F2003-GA returned to action. It was a sunny day in Spain as Luca Badoer returned to the cockpit of the F2003-GA after his testing accidents in his previous two tests. Badoer completed 57 laps in the new chassis as he continued to develop the chassis. His best lap of the day was 1.17.822. Joining him in Spain was Rubens Barrichello who was concentrating on tire testing for Brazil with the F2002. The Brazilian driver completed a total of 75 laps with his best being 1.17.750. Ferrari will continue testing here tomorrow with the same drivers in action.

3/25/03

Barcelona Tuesday test times 

Driver Team Tires Laps Time Gap
1. Gene WilliamsF1 M 48 1:17.288 136.896 mph
2. de la Rosa McLaren M 68 1:17.448 0.160
3. da Matta Toyota M 61 1:17.531 0.243
4. Montoya WilliamsF1 M 62 1:17.731 0.443
5. Barrichello Ferrari B 75  1:17.750 0.462
6. Badoer Ferrari B 56  1:17.822 0.534
7. Sato BAR B 93 1:18.906 1.618

3/25/03

CART Town Meeting   The transcript of last nights CART Town meeting in Long Beach is now complete.  See link on our Home page.

3/25/03

ALMS announcer off to IRAQ war   John Hindhaugh, lead announcer for the American Le Mans Series Radio Web, has traveled to Kuwait to take part in media coverage of the war in Iraq. Hindhaugh left London on Monday for the journey to Kuwait City, where he will work for Globecast, one of the world’s largest satellite uplink broadcast companies. One of Globecast’s clients is the Reuters News Agency, which is providing facilities for journalists across the Gulf Region. Hindhaugh expects to be in the area for at least a month, coordinating with Reuters journalists and other broadcasters to uplink video and live reports from Kuwait City. In addition, he will spend time working with a mobile unit that will travel as part of a military operation. “It’s a project management and client liaison role, although I have had a refresher course on camera operation and satellite uplink protocol so that I can give some of the other staff a break,” said Hindhaugh. “Most of the staff has been there for at least a month now and are pretty tired. Don’t bet against me popping up on your TV screens at some stage.” Hindhaugh said that he had been on standby for the Gulf trip for some time and said that he had grown frustrated with the waiting and uncertainty about his travel plans. However, all of that changed when he was at Sebring International Raceway for the recent Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the opening event of the 2003 American Le Mans Series season. He had been expecting to travel to Qatar to work in the $1 million Hollywood-designed main press center at the U.S. Strategic Command Center at Doha. However, he received a call while at Sebring to send his details through to the Kuwaiti Embassy in London in preparation for a deployment on his return. He went to the media center at Sebring and faxed a copy of his passport to London to get the process underway, then went ahead with his Radio Web duties for the race. Upon returning home to England, he learned that the Kuwaitis had approved his application. He traveled to London to collect the necessary papers, then drove to the Globecast depot at Farnham, U.K., to receive essential items such as a flak jacket, protection suit and respirator. He caught an overnight flight from London to Bahrain, and then on to Kuwait City. “This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I am delighted that Globecast and Reuters have shown so much confidence in approaching me for this important role,” he said. “All of my sports car friends have been very kind. I have found it extremely supportive that drivers, team members and fellow journalists have made the effort to pass on their good wishes.” Hindhaugh, who has been the anchor of the American Le Mans Series Radio Web since the formation of the professional sports car racing series in 1999, is known for his enthusiastic delivery while announcing the action to listeners around the world. “I’ve been revising my knowledge of military vehicles,” he said. “So I should be able to do a decent commentary on the race to Baghdad.”

3/25/03

Should CART retain road courses?   After the meeting Town Meeting in LB last night, it was brought out that CART's direction is street races (as Chris said during the meeting 'bring the show to the fans').  The comment overheard was if fans feel CART should keep its natural terrain road courses, i.e. Laguna, Mid-Ohio, Elkhart Lake, they better let Chris know that because he is headed the other direction.

3/25/03

Dale Coyne Racing news   Joel Camathias is scheduled to do his first oval test in one week at Homestead, Florida. Alex Yoong and Dale Coyne are working to put a program together for the rest of the season and have scheduled a road course test in Arizona just prior to Long Beach.

3/25/03

Andretti appeals to fans for help   With the Indianapolis 500 and his retirement from professional driving just 61 days away, Michael Andretti is appealing to race fans across North America and around the world to assist him in creating a photographic exhibit that will highlight memorable moments of his twenty year career as well as pay homage to the scores of fans who have supported him over the past two decades. As part of the recently announced Countdown to Indy program Andretti, who has been racing top-tier Indy-style cars since 1983, is seeking fan photos and other visual materials that will become part of a permanent online collection as well as a temporary exhibit he will launch during this year’s 87th running of the Indianapolis 500. “Over the past twenty years I’ve autographed thousands of cards and photographs of myself or my race cars for fans,” says Andretti who will retire to focus exclusively on the newly formed Andretti Green Racing team with his partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree. “I’ve signed some outstanding action and candid photos as well as many of myself with a fan or with someone’s family members. When you see someone in an autograph session you don’t really have much of a chance to ask questions about the photos you’re signing, but I’ve often wondered about many of them and whom they belonged to. I thought it would be interesting to look back at my career through the eyes of race fans and so I am inviting them to send me images they have taken between 1983 and 2003 along with a short description or caption that we can put on display in Indianapolis during the month of May as well as house permanently on the Andretti family website.” Along with photos, Andretti is also seeking event posters or other visuals including copies of each of the race team autograph cards produced for him between 1983 and 2003. The exhibit will be opened to the public in early May and details on the location and hours will be announced shortly. With a racing record that includes 15 IndyCar Series seasons with at least one victory; 309 CART starts (for which he is the series all-time leader); 313 IndyCar starts; 6,658 career laps led including 398 laps led at the Indianapolis 500 in six races (which leaves him 12th on the all time laps led list and most of any driver who has yet to win the race); 13 Indianapolis 500 starts and the1991 CART Championship, Andretti remains one of the most dominant and talented drivers in American racing history. Those interested in contributing photos and/or “hero” cards for exhibition can send them to: Paula Prime Andretti International 630 Selvaggio Drive, Suite 500 Nazareth, PA 18064.  All contributors are asked to include their name, address and daytime telephone number with their photographs so that they may be contacted regarding authenticity and usage permission. Those who wish to have their originals scanned and returned are asked to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope with the correct postage along with their photo. All digital images should be sent on CD, memory card or diskette. Email submissions can be sent to fans@andretti.com. “I’m really excited to have the chance to see the photos and get to know the stories that go along with them,” says Andretti. “Twenty years is a long time and it’s going to be a lot of fun to see what’s out there. I really appreciate all the time and effort fans have given to supporting me since I began racing. I’d like to let everyone know who these wonderful people are and what they mean to me. It’s been a great twenty years.”

3/25/03

Quote of the week  Chris Pook was asked at last nights CART Town Meeting in Long Beach whether or not he would try to recruit some of the higher profile CART teams that defected to the IRL, and get them back to CART.  He had the crowd roaring with laughter when he said, "there is defection with style and defection with manure....and there will be no shit in my house."  He never got to answer the question, but you get the idea who he won't be trying to woo back.

3/25/03

Pioneer deal for Jag  Jaguar Racing has just concluded a multi-year technical partnership with Pioneer Automotive Electronics Sales Inc.

3/25/03
Industry News

Volkswagen announces positive results  The Volkswagen Group has just announced its second best results in the history of the company, with a profit in 2002 of more than $4.2bn. This compares to $4.71bn in 2001. The company's sales were up to $93bn compared to $94.72 in 2001. In total the company's production dropped by nearly 100,000 to 4.984m vehicles and despite the difficult economic climate VW remained Europe's biggest car manufacturer. The VW brand remains the big cash generator with a profit of $2.67bn while Audi produced $1.5bn. It is worth noting that the biggest growth for Volkswagen was in Asia.

3/25/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

DC Warns: Schu Still In Hunt
Stoddart Clarifies Peace Message
Buzz Surrounds New McLaren Racer
Renault Hard At Work On Brazil
Renault Admit Engine Shortfall
Irvine Slams David Richards
Radical Change At Williams' Grove HQ
Bahrain Mission Heads To Malaysia
Downbeat Champion Heads For Home
More Reform On The Horizon
McLaren Eyeing Third Straight Win
Irvine Swipes At Jungle-Boy
Renault Aim To Stay On Podium
Alonso's Feet Return To Earth
Renault Boss Slams World Champion
Wilson Rests With Eyes On Brazil
Jenson: Let's Put A Lid On It
Renault Lauds Button Verve
FIA Resolute Over HANS Device

3/25/03

Yoong and Karthikeyan  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, you guys never seem to miss hitting the nail on the head.  I just read the article about Alex Yoong and Narain Karthikeyan and have to admit I didn't understand how key these two drivers can be to CART's future, both in the USA and in Asia, nor did I know much about them.  I hope CART is listening.  Thanks for opening my eyes.  Dale McDaniel Baton Rouge, LA  Dear Dale, yes these two would help CART's efforts, as would a few more American drivers.  Mark C.

3/25/03

Is Yoong the real deal?  UPDATE We are reminded that the Coyne team has added the resources of someone with a background of a John Bright (who was the engineer for Alex this weekend), which is a step in the right direction. They are working very hard to build a stronger organization, which our original Hot News item did not mention.  If you look what the team has done in only two races in 2002 (remember German driver Lotterer in Mexico City) and this year with drivers of unknown skill levels, obviously there is some talent among the team.   3/24/03 - Consider this - Alex's lap times were very often with 0.3 of the leader and very similar to the lead pack. Do you think his car was as good as the Newman-Haas, Rahal, and Forsythe cars? He hasn't raced at all in 5 months. He never drove a champ car before Friday, nor did he ever see the Monterrey track before. Many members of the pit crew didn't come to the race. Alex had never worked with the crew chief before and had to do most of the car setup himself. The throttle was sticking and the seat was shaped so late they didn't get it right and his shoulder was killing him. His hands are completely blistered and he had never driven in that long of a race. He said the car was getting worse so he slowed so it could make it to the end. That is why his lap times dropped from 1:17's to 1:19's for the last 20 laps.  However, his best race lap was a 1:17.469 (15th best, but 1 full second faster than his teammate) vs. the fastest race lap by Junqueira of 1:15.700, so don't look for him on the podium just yet.  Bottom line - given the right team and Engineer, Yoong may be better than some people think.  Mark C.

3/24/03

Bet you didn't know  Did you know that 3-Time World Driving Champion Sir Jackie Stewart has a serious handicap, which makes his feats that much more amazing. He sees everything backwards, i.e. he is dyslexic. In a recent presentation to handicapped kids in China, Stewart reveals his weakness. "If you offered me $100 million I could not recite the alphabet. I didn't learn it and I don't know it," he says. To prove his point he starts, fluently at first: "a, b, d, d . . ." When he stumbles at "o" he is helped by a young boy in the front row. Sir Jackie encourages him and together they complete the 26 letters. Stewart has no problem, however, recalling details of his "27 Grand Prix wins from 99 starts - that's not a bad batting average". Sir Jackie then tells the audience how he only discovered he was dyslexic at the age of 42. One of his sons experienced difficulties at school and the family visited a specialist. "I also had trouble at school," admitted Stewart senior at the time, to which the doctor responded: "Perhaps we ought to test you, too." He did and both Stewart and his two sons - Paul and Mark - finally understood why they found certain tasks difficult. "It saved my life," he says, keen to help his audience through his own experiences. "I went through my whole life thinking I was thick, but now I understood." To the parents in the room - some of whom are not sufferers - he addressed his next comment: "The amount of mental frustration, the lack of self esteem . . . I suffered from a major inferiority complex." Stewart tends to pause when speaking, choosing his words perfectly and with care, but this time you understand he is probably recalling what he later describes as "the deep, deep pain". "I've made millions and millions of pounds, I don't know how much I have," says Jackie towards the end of his presentation, a smile on his face, making a point about dyslexia not being an impediment to success. He's not boasting. He's making a joke at his own expense to reinforce what he is selling. "I am on the board of Moet & Chandon, Ford, Aston Martin, Gleneagles and the British Racing Drivers Club, but I can't read a balance sheet. "By most people's standards I am still dumb."  Mathew Marsh

3/24/03

Bristol TV ratings down, IRL up   The Food City 500 on FOX turned in overnight numbers of a 5.1 rating and 11 share. That's a 9 percent decline from last year's race, and is more than likely due to war coverage. A FOX spokesperson says that it "is still a pretty impressive number and speaks volumes for the loyalty of the NASCAR audience."  We also hear, though unconfirmed, that the IRL race from Phoenix got a 1.5/3 share rating on ABC, up from 1.2/2 share last year.  However, this is an overnight with 55 markets counted.  This proves that network TV is the place to be and if CART hasn't reserved network time for 2004 and 2005 already, they're behind the 8-ball again.  Mark C.

3/24/03

Lemarie picks up his pace  Missed after the Monterrey race was the fact that Frenchmen Patrick Lemarie turned the 6th fastest race lap, so perhaps he will show well in upcoming races, after struggling badly in his first race.  Mark C.

3/24/03

Two drivers hospitalized from Phoenix crashes, another broken back for IRL  2nd UPDATE  IRL IndyCar Series drivers Gil de Ferran and Roger Yasukawa were released today from Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Phoenix after crashing in separate incidents during the Purex Dial Indy 200 on March 23 at Phoenix International Raceway. de Ferran, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., suffered a minor fracture of the lower back and a slight concussion, said Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League director of medical services. He will receive further treatment for the back injury in Florida, Bock said. Yasukawa, from Los Angeles, suffered a slight concussion, Bock said. Neither driver has been cleared to drive, Bock said. Their status for the Indy Japan 300 on April 13 at Twin Ring Motegi is subject to further evaluation, Bock said. Updates on their status will be provided when available.  3/23/03 - Unfortunately the injury toll continues to mount for the dangerous all-oval IRL series (see related article on injuries since 1996).  Roger Yasukawa will be kept overnight for observation at Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix following a crash in the Purex Dial Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway this afternoon. Yasukawa spun and made contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn Two at the halfway mark of the 200-lap IRL IndyCar Series event, and was transported to Good Samaritan after complaining of upper back pain. He hopes to his home in West Hollywood, California, tomorrow morning.  de Ferran, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., suffered a minor fracture of the lower back and a concussion, said Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League director of medical services. He is in fair condition, awake and alert. A medical update will be issued Monday. 3/23/03 - Gil de Ferran was transported to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Phoenix with a concussion and complaining of lumbar pain. He was awake and alert. Rookie Roger Yasukawa was transported to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Phoenix complaining of back pain after crashing on Lap 100 in his No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone. He was awake and alert.

3/24/03

GrandAm extends SPEED deal through 2006  Grand American Road Racing Association announced today that is has extended its contract with SPEED Channel through 2006. SPEED Channel will continue as the exclusive North American broadcaster of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup Series. "SPEED Channel is the perfect home for Grand American Road Racing. It has been an integral part of our growth since the beginning, and now we will continue that growth together in the coming season," said Grand American President Roger Edmondson. "SPEED Channel has enjoyed a long relationship with Grand American Road Racing and keeping the Rolex Sports Car Series on SPEED through 2006 is a natural move for this network," said SPEED Channel President Jim Liberatore. "We look forward to working with the team at Grand American in demonstrating our commitment to American road racing and continuing the evolution of SPEED Channel television coverage." As part of the contract extension, SPEED Channel will broadcast all of the Rolex Sports Car Series events through 2006, with a minimum of six live races in 2004, seven in 2005 and eight in 2006. The Rolex Series premier event - the Rolex 24 At Daytona - is guaranteed a minimum of 12 hours of live coverage each year. SPEED Channel will also continue its coverage of the Grand-Am Cup Series, broadcasting all the series' races run in conjunction with the Rolex Sports Car Series on a tape delayed basis.

3/24/03

What, no replays?  A reader writes, Dear AR1: I came across something very disturbing as I tried desperately tried to find a rebroadcast of this Sundays CART race. Speed TV does not have one. I looked at their schedule for this week and I saw F1 rebroadcast twice, even the Atlantic cars, touring cars and stock cars get a rebroadcast but no CART. Boy, to have partners like this, I can see nothing but positive growth for CART. Not! Arno Fritz, Milwaukee, WI Dear Arno, we are surprised to hear this.  Given CART's ratings are so low on SPEED, one would think they would at least re-air the races to at least get the cumulative effect.  Mark C.

3/24/03
Industry News

Hill signs with Super Nova  Derek Hill, son of 1961 Formula 1 World Champion Phil, has signed to drive for Jordan's official junior team, Super Nova Racing, alongside Enrico Toccacelo in the 2003 International F3000 Championship. Hill, the second American to sign up for the series, Townsend Bell has signed for rival team Arden, will test for the first time at Jerez next week. “I'm thrilled to be signed with a top championship-winning team like Super Nova,” said Bell. “It's what the last two years in International F3000 have been all about, gaining experience and racing with the best. This season holds a lot of potential and I look forward to making the most of it.” Super Nova team manager added: “It's great to have Derek Hill finally on board as we've been friends for the last couple of years since he tested with us in Jerez with his father present. “Derek demonstrated last year with Durango that he can run at the front and I am sure that with our guidance he can fight for the championship crown this season.” Autosport

3/24/03

Would Race Safe system work for NASCAR?   TThe IRL and ARCA both use the "race safe" system of in-car caution lights. When a caution comes out at their races, a light on the dashboard of each driver comes on at the same time, alerting the drivers. Would such a system work in NASCAR? Would it be helpful? Here is what some drivers had to say. ANDY BELMONT; Driver; #91 Southern Pan Systems Pontiac; NASCAR Busch Series: "There are good things about it. We’ve seen it a couple of races this year and it does bring something to the table. I think it’s good we’re constantly looking at new ways and, more importantly, better ways to help administrate the races. "Still, there is only so much NASCAR or ARCA or whoever can do as a governing body. At some point, racers have to be racers. With the Race Safe system in the cars or not in the cars, the job still ultimately falls to the racers to do the right thing. "The light in the car is pretty close to exact, coming on almost exactly when the caution comes out. It’s pretty simultaneous, and it’s a pretty cool deal that they can do that. I think one of the initial concerns is the Race Safe light might run a second or two behind the actual caution. That might not sound like a lot but at a Texas or Atlanta, a second or two can be two or 300 yards. If there were bugs in that, it looks like they have been worked out. "That might have been the biggest concern with the system anybody would have - how quickly it operates. If it comes on at the same time as the caution lights around the track, that’s about all you can ask for. "My concern, and I think the concern a lot of drivers have, is how dependent some people become on it. Keep in mind this isn’t the only indication you have of trouble. The caution flag at the start-finish line, your spotter, and caution lights around the race track . . . all of those things combined help you. Add in this light, and it helps even more. "But you can’t be dependent solely on any of those things. I am afraid we’re not teaching the younger drivers coming into the sport all of the techniques for avoiding trouble. For example, go into the first turn at Talladega and every veteran driver out there will glance across to look for smoke in the second turn. You see smoke there and you know there is a problem. It’s instinctive. It’s something you learned when you first started driving. We need to teach these younger drivers to do things like that. "Race Safe adds to what we have but a driver has to take advantage of everything he has. We don’t want it to create a dependency. "I’m thinking the next best step is where race control could override everybody’s radio and tell you what’s going on. They could break in on you at any point and tell you there is a caution. That’s what the lights do - they take the caution lights that are around the race track and put them in your car. This would put NASCAR or ARCA radios in your car. Maybe that’s the next area we need to look at closely." STANTON BARRETT, Driver, #60 OdoBan Ford, NASCAR Busch Series: "(Race Safe system) wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world but all I can see it doing is enhancing what we already have in place . . . spotters, radios, caution lights. "The problem isn’t making people aware of a caution; it’s what they do once they know there is one. We need to do some things as a sport but another way of screaming ‘Caution!’ isn’t really a priority. It’s what people do, or continue to do, once the caution comes out. A ‘gentleman’s agreement’ (not to race back to the caution flag) requires you to remember the agreement. If we do that, that will solve a whole lot of problems pretty quickly." JOHN ANDRETTI, Driver, #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge: "There are probably positive things and negative things about it. I can see where it might could help some but I can see some problems too. I’m sure a lot of things could be worked out. "The thing is it has to be where you can depend on it. If you see the light come on, you have to be able to know it’s the real thing. ‘False positives’ - just one, to be honest - will kill it. If the driver doesn’t believe it the second he sees it, then it’s not going to work. If it helps you once, it’s great. If it helps you 10 times but hurts you one time, you’re not going to have any faith in it. It’s a tough deal. "Locating it would be pretty important too. You are concentrating so hard and focusing so much on what you are doing, that light has to be something to get your attention. Maybe if they did it like those speedometer systems in some cars, the kinds that show your speed on the windshield, that would work. I don’t know but I do know it has to be something special to get your attention."

3/24/03

NASCAR charity auction   The Betty Jane France Pediatric Center and "Speediatrics" will get a little help from the world of cyberspace and the "World Center of Racing" when an auction on E-Bay kicks off this week to benefit the pediatric unit of Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. The E-Bay auction March 27-March 31 will be promoted on NASCAR.com and DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com with proceeds from the five-day auction going to Speediatrics. Located not far from the fourth turn at Daytona International Speedway, Speediatrics is the NASCAR-themed pediatric unit at Halifax Medical Center. In surroundings designed by NASCAR First Lady Betty Jane France, with modern equipment and top-flight staff, youngsters literally race to the finish line of recovery in a fun-filled facility often visited by top drivers.  Among the items up for auction are two Platinum Level tickets to the June 28 Dale Earnhardt Tribute Concert at Daytona International Speedway. The Platinum Level tickets include reserved parking, seating in the VIP area, hospitality and a special limited edition Dale Earnhardt Tribute custom-made guitar produced by Gibson. A Pepsi 400 Experience complete with tickets, a motorhome and reserved parking in the Speedway's infield is also up for grabs. The winning bidder of this unique experience will enjoy the July 3-5 race weekend in a 27-foot motorhome from Cruise America. Three nights of racing including qualifying for the Pepsi 400, the Paul Revere 250 Rolex Sporstcar Series race, the NASCAR Busch Series 250 and the Pepsi 400 are part of the package. Other auction items up for grabs include: a race helmet autographed by all competitors in the True Value IROC XXVII Feb. 14 at Daytona; two season tickets to the sold-out Kansas Speedway including five races; a Richard Petty Driving Experience "Daytona King's Experience"; and autographed memorabilia from some of Speedweeks' celebrities including John Travolta, Mariah Carey, Tony Hawk and Alice Cooper. To check out the charity auction, simply go here and click on the links to the Speediatrics auction.

3/24/03

Ralf on relationship with Juan  "I wouldn't say that I dislike him," the German tell Alan Henry in The Guardian, "but we are totally different people with different interests. We haven't even ever had a dinner together. "I don't know," he adds, "it's very strange. We talk to each other normally at the races but nothing beyond that. "There was some tension between us at the beginning," adds Ralf who has been linked with a possible move to Toyota, "although more created from outside the team than from within it, but there's no real problem now. The situation is just fine by me."

3/24/03

GP of America's establishes charity foundation  The Grand Prix Americas, Downtown Miami’s premier auto street race, is establishing a foundation to raise funds for local charities, announced Chuck M. Martinez, president and general manager, Grand Prix Americas. The charities involved will be Camillus House, Children’s Home Society, Miami-Dade Community College Foundation, Cody Unser’s First Step Foundation and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. The major fundraiser for the Grand Prix Americas Foundation will be the Charity Ball taking place Thursday night of race week, September 25, 2003. In addition, the Grand Prix Americas will donate $1 for every ticket sold on Saturday September 27, 2003, and during a specific time frame will offer a 5% donation on all tickets sold. The establishment of this foundation is another example of our focused commitment to Miami,” said Martinez. “These charities represent vital issues facing our communities.” The Grand Prix Americas Foundation will be headed by a Board of Directors that will examine every opportunity presented to raise funds for the charities. “I am so pleased the Grand Prix Americas has established a foundation to support these wonderful organizations,” said Adrienne Arsht, chairman of TotalBank and co-chairman of Grand Prix Americas foundation. ”Not only is the Grand Prix Americas a great event but now it will substantially give back to our community. Also serving as honorary co-chairs of the Grand Prix Americas Foundation are Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and racing legend Emerson Fittipaldi. “It’s great to see the Grand Prix Americas contributing to our community,” said Honorable City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. “Building on the success of last year’s race, the Charity Ball promises to raise a lot of money for these great organizations.”

3/24/03

Petty to hospital   UPDATE Kyle Petty returned home Sunday night following the Food City 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race. He is expected to be ready for this week’s events at Texas Motor Speedway. Petty was examined at Bristol (Tenn.) Regional following a crash Sunday, and was released. He will obviously follow up with a routine examination from his personal physician this week. "He’s very sore," said Steven Lane, crew chief for Petty’s #45 Georgia-Pacific Dodge. "He hit pretty hard, so you would expect that. But he should be ready to go at Texas this week."  3/23/03 - Track medical officials transported Kyle Petty to Wellmont Bristol Regional Medical Center by helicopter after the driver was hit trying to squeeze by a spinning Ward Burton. Track officials reported Petty did undergo a CAT scan and was awaiting release from the hospital.. Stan Creekmore/NASCAR Editor

3/24/03

What are Honda and Toyota thinking?  A reader writes, Dear AR1, I can't help wonder what Honda and Toyota, as well as Marlboro, Target, 7-11 and all those involved with the IRL think when they look up in the grandstands for the second consecutive race and see mostly empty grandstands.  Did they really believe all the lies that the IRL was growing and CART was dead?  Wayne Johnson, Houston, Texas  Dear Wayne, the IRL isn't going to grow, no matter how much money they pump into it.  NASCAR has sucked the oval track market bone dry. The fans do not have enough money to buy tickets to NASCAR and the IRL.  Even the Copper World Classis, once a big hit at Phoenix, is dead.  Quite frankly, those  empty grandstands are an embarrassment to the sport of Auto Racing.  As for CART, it's TV ratings on SPEED leave more than a lot to be desired, but it's doing pretty well at the box office, which paints a far better picture about the sport to the average viewer.  Mark C.

3/24/03
Industry News

PIR looks to state for money  According to the Arizona Republic, Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan Sperber wants to attract a second NASCAR Winston Cup Series race with some taxpayer help, and Gov. Janet Napolitano believes assistance could be forthcoming. Sperber wants to add permanent lighting and make adjoining road improvements to help lure a second race. He would like taxpayers to help fund the projects. "Sometimes you have to spend a little money to make a lot of money," said Gov. Napolitano, the honorary starter in Sunday's Purex Dial Indy 200 at PIR. "So these things make a lot of sense to me." Gov. Napolitano said she may meet with Sen. Jon Kyl, who has helped out at PIR as a track marshal, to discuss legislative options.

3/24/03
Industry News

More drivers paying for their rides  According to this NY Times article, One of motor racing's oldest but least respected traditions is having a renaissance in these hard times. Across the sport, more and more drivers are paying their teams, rather than the other way round. Nowhere is the divide between the rich and the poor driver so vast as in Formula One. Michael Schumacher races at the front for a salary of about $40 million, while drivers closer to the back of the grid pay millions to hitch a ride. The downturn in sponsorship has depleted the number of teams that now have the luxury of choosing between good drivers and rich drivers. Last year, Alex Yoong became the first non-Japanese Asian to race in Formula One since Prince Bira of Siam in the 1950's when he mustered about $10 million in sponsorships from Malaysian businesses, the Malaysian government and even the city of Kuala Lumpur to pay for his seat with the Minardi team. On Sunday, when Formula One makes its annual stop in Malaysia, Yoong will be racing in CART's second race of the season in Monterrey, Mexico. Yoong, who landed a job to drive in the United States-based series last Monday, said a full season in CART could cost him $5 million to $7 million, or a little more than the top paid drivers in that series receive. But he also added that if he was recruited, it would be for his talent. There are three paying drivers in Formula One this season. Justin Wilson and Jos Verstappen at Yoong's old team, Minardi, and Ralph Firman, at the Jordan team. More.....

3/24/03

Lemarie's engine stall a mystery  According to this SPEED Channel article, Lemarie’s run at Monterrey was interrupted, rudely, when his engine quite simply quit as he accelerated onto the pit straightaway on lap 14. CART’s Simple Green Safety team arrived on the scene quickly, as usual, and restarted Lemarie with a minimum of fuss, whereupon he drove the rest of the way to a 10th-place finish without another mechanical problem. What’s up with that? “We’re not sure,” said Cosworth’s Ian Bisco. “But it might have been the result of the throttle linkage catching in the engine cover and triggering the full-throttle shut-off. We actually had a similar problem yesterday with that car, and the team trimmed some of the insulation around the engine cover. They didn’t have any more problems with it, yesterday, but we’ll have to take a look and see what caused it to quit today.”

3/24/03

Why CART and F1 eye China  Phil Murtaugh, chairman and chief executive of the General Motors China Group says in a China newspaper  "In China's first year as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), few industries grew at a faster pace than the car industry. Last year, China accelerated its transition away from a "bicycle kingdom" as competition grew and vehicle sales hit record levels.   Even the most optimistic of forecasts proved wrong last year. Sales of cars and trucks grew at an unprecedented rate of about 40 per cent, to more than 3.4 million units. Leading the way were sales of passenger cars, which rose by more than 60 per cent, to more than 1 million units. Among individual market segments, there was particularly strong growth in small vans and cars, light, medium and heavy-duty trucks and lower-to-medium priced cars. As people in metropolises like Guangzhou and Shanghai move further from the city centre and their jobs, personal transport has become a greater necessity. As a result, private car purchases, which accounted for a very small percentage of sales five or six years ago, now account for more than half of the total.  The question on everyone's mind is: Can China's vehicle market sustain this level of growth? The short answer is no. We anticipate annual growth of between 10 and 15 per cent over the next five years. Growth may be higher if the central government follows through on its WTO obligation and gives foreign companies like our GMAC subsidiary the go-ahead to offer financing.  Even with the lower rate of growth, we still see China outpacing all other markets and accounting for 17 per cent or more of global industry growth through to 2012. As a result, we expect China to overtake Germany as the world's third-largest vehicle market next year, if not this year, trailing only the United States and Japan. Within 25 years, we anticipate China will be the world's largest market.  General Motors has, justifiably, made China a priority. We believe that in order to remain the world's largest car maker, we must be a leader in all high-growth markets - especially China. We are not alone. Established players such as Volkswagen are focused on holding on to their market share, while newcomers from Japan, South Korea and North America are investing heavily to establish a beachhead."

3/24/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

DC Boils After McLaren Failure
Rubens: HANS-Free To Second Place
Fisichella Leaves Unpleasant Taste
Schu Treated Unfairly By Stewards?
Jos And Justin Drive For Peace
HANS Blamed For Wilson Injury
Worried Faces Won't Rush New Racer
Bernie In Action In Malaysia
Fernando Perseveres Despite Fever
Win Will Shape Kimi's Career
Best Day Of Fernando's Life
Firman Celebrates First Finish
Kimi's Delayed Reaction
Michelin Claim Tire Supremacy
Button Describes 'Toughest' Race
Sauber Cheers Former Driver
'Not Guilty', Pleads Antonio
Misery In The Formula One Paddock
Williams Get New Parts For Brazil
Button Lands Final JV-Blow
DC: Schu Cracked Under Pressure
Kimi Laughs Off Title-Talk
Gems In The Paddock: Malaysian GP
Sporting Praise Despite Frustration
Silver Pace No Flash-In-Pan
'Shouldn't Happen,' Says Jacques

3/24/03

British Eurosport disappoints again  UPDATE I totally agree with what your reader has written on the AR1 news page - British Eurosport are up to their old tricks already. While I agree that the deal with Eurosport gives the Champ Car World Series coverage across Europe, it would seen that the UK arm of the channel isn't really interested - almost as if it was something their parent company "lumped" on them as they had already had their Sunday evenings sorted with the Italian Football etc. Its a shame that as Eurosport International has the deal for most of Europe and that is actually unavailable in Britain that Sky Sports could not have had the UK rights (as I believe they wanted to). But, every cloud has a silver lining - the coverage of the race yesterday was delayed by showing the Sebring 12 hours instead (rather than tennis or under 21s soccer) and they used the CART international commentary feed with the excellent Jeremy Shaw rather than the two ill-informed chaps in some studio somewhere watching a TV screen, as the had for St Pete. Steve Linfield  3/24/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, I sit on my couch in England on Sunday night awaiting the CART race from Monterrey on British Eurosport, and the race is due at 21.30 GMT, 2 hours after the race. I notice that Sky, the British satellite channel, has the IRL race live from Phoenix at 20.30 GMT. Come 21.30 I turn to Eurosport expecting CART on a 2 hour delay, to find in its place a documentary about ALMS being shown for no apparent reason, then 10 minutes into it they show a graphic saying CART delayed to 23.00 hours. Once again CART has been shafted by British Eurosport! Fool me ten times, I'm a plonker! When will Chris Pook get off his butt and learn that in world-class motorsport, the major market that counts isn't Miami, Los Angeles, Shanghai or Anchorage, but the couches in front of the TVs of tens of millions of sport fans worldwide? CART had great coverage from Sky in the UK last year, now with British Eurosport we have to guess when CART will be on, and then its too late to be!  Come on Bernie and save us from this nonsense." I'm sure Mr. Ecclestone would not let a broadcaster mess his programs around in this way.  Ed McFarlane, Goadby, England  Dear Ed, We agree that British Eurosport should publish a schedule and stick to it. The benefit for CART using Eurosport is the fact that the rest of Europe can now see CART, whereas with Sky, only the UK could see the races.  Mark C.

3/24/03

Malaysia driver-by-driver analysis   1. KIMI RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes 1h32'22
The 23-year-old earned his maiden grand prix victory, fittingly, with his Iceman reputation intact in the sweltering Malaysian heat.  'I had no problems at all,' said the Finn. 'But I think it will be tomorrow before it has sunk in that I have won a grand prix.'   More.......

3/23/03
Industry News

NASCAR, CART and IRL attendance   Weekend attendance figures for NASCAR, CART and IRL.  CART's were officially announced by the track (which we think is inflated), the others are estimated.

NASCAR Bristol, TN: 225,000 Friday: 5,000 Saturday 60,000 Sunday 160,000

CART Monterrey, Mexico: 215,771 Friday: 67,483 Saturday: 55,483 Sunday 92,713

IRL Phoenix, Az.:  21,500 - Friday: 500 Saturday 1,000 Sunday 19,000 (Est.)

This CART.com story talks about the attendance.

3/23/03

Zipadelli warned over Stewart actions   NASCAR officials issued a strong warning to Greg Zipadelli after his driver, Tony Stewart, put the bumper to Ricky Rudd as the two rolled down pit road. Rudd and Stewart were innocent victims in the incident that also collected Kyle Petty.. Stan Creekmore/NASCAR Editor

3/23/03

NASCAR fans chant USA USA!   Rebecca Lynn Howard, nominated for Top New Female Artist by the Academy of Country Music, performed the National Anthem before a sold out crowd at Bristol Motor Speedway. Howard’s song “Forgive” is topping the charts earning her a nomination in the writing category. She co-wrote the song with Trey Bruce. “Forgive” has also been nominated for Song of the Year. Cheers of “USA” rose from the stands at Bristol Motor Speedway moments after Rebecca Lynn Howard sung America the Beautiful as part of the pre-race ceremonies before the start of the Food City 500.  Stan Creekmore/NASCAR Editor

3/23/03

NASCAR clamping down on illegal belts   NASCAR officials are clamping down of pit crew members who attach a belt from their waist to the catch can. The belt is meant to keep the driver from pulling out of his pit with the catch can stuck in the rear of the car. However, if the can remains stuck the tether between the can and the crew member could cause serious injury. For now officials are simply seizing the belts and warning the crew member. However, if the problem persist much longer officials will begin handing out monetary fines. Stan Creekmore/NASCAR Editor

3/23/03

Ever heard of HIPPA?   The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is about to have an major effect on the release of information concerning injuries sustained by drivers in accidents. In 1999 HHS (Health and Human Resources) issued a Notice of Proposed Rules Mandate (NPRM) detailing a proposed Medical Records Privacy Act. Comments were collected regarding the NPRM, and the final rules were published in the Federal Register on December 28, 2000. The Privacy Rule applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses and health care providers who conduct certain financial and administrative functions. These organizations are collectively referred to as Covered Entities (CE). Despite an intense lobbying effort to derail the HIPAA Privacy Rule at the start of a new administration, President Bush allowed the rules take effect on April 14, 2001. CEs have until April 14,2003 to become compliant with the Privacy Rule. The only exception is small health plans which have until April 14,2004. These regulations don’t just govern the release of medical information concerning sports figures, but includes all individuals in all walks of life.  Stan Creekmore/NASCAR Editor

3/23/03

NASCAR tidbits   The Winston Cup leader bonus will be worth $70,000 at Texas Motor Speedway. The bonus is paid out to a winning driver if the driver is also the points leader at the time. Kurt Busch became the sixth different winner, in as many races, on the Winston Cup circuit in 2003. Busch joins Michael Waltrip, Dale Jarrett, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte and Rick Craven as the only winners this year.  NHRA Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon stopped in the Bristol Infield Media Center to promote the upcoming NHRA event at Bristol’s “Thunder Valley” Dragway. It is said that Dixon, a long time employee at Don Prudhomme Racing showed he deserved a spot in the driver’s seat, after Prudhomme retired, when the boss gave him presented him with a trip to a driver school as a Christmas present.. Stan Creekmore/NASCAR Editor

3/23/03

Alex Yoong has respectable debut  Malaysia's first Formula 1 driver, Alex Yoong, made an impressive debut in the “Bridgestone Presents Champ Car World Series” this Sunday when he chalked up his first points in his first race with 9th position and 4 points in the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix of Mexico. Team owner of Team DCR, Dale Coyne, was ecstatic with Yoong's performance when he remarked, "Arriving on a Thursday for his seat fitting and racing in a Champ Car for the first time ever, with no turbo-charged power experience behind him and on a circuit he had never even seen before and to finish 9th out of 19 cars is a seriously impressive performance." "Alex was very professional and level-headed when he went about his business this weekend. He never put a foot wrong and was quicker each time he went out in every session. He has a bright future in Champ Car," added Coyne. Yoong had to start from the back after he had to pit before the green flag was shown to fix his seat belt, which had come loose during the formation lap. He quickly moved up to 16th from 19th when he overtook a couple of cars in the first lap. Yoong made up positions in his pit-stops and drove a consistently good pace within seven to nine tenths of a second from the front-running pack. He held the 10th position from lap 60 after his second stop until the penultimate lap and finished 9th, capitalizing on Jimmy Vasser's spin in the final lap. "It was a hard race," said Yoong, who finished the 85-lap race with a time of 2h 03m 27.786s (the longest in his racing career). "I am very happy with the results and I'm glad I kept up my physical training even when no drive was in sight. Four points in my first race is very satisfying for me." "My pace in the first half of the race was good and I found the grip level of the track better than in qualifying. After my first second stop, my throttle started sticking and the engine was misfiring, which made me ease off to preserve the car to the finish." "I must thank Dale Coyne and the team for giving me this opportunity. I really enjoy racing in this series, which I consider to be most competitive," concluded Yoong. Yoong's fastest race lap was 1m 17.469s(,) which was a second faster than his qualifying time. The next round will be held in Long Beach, California on the 13th of April. Yoong will have to discuss with Dale Coyne whether he will remain with the team when Champ Car goes to Long Beach, while his management team continues their search for the necessary sponsorship that will allow Yoong to race in the rest of the Champ Car season. (Photo by Mike Levitt/LAT/CART)

3/23/03

Time for CART to call Force 10  It's apparent that the current Reynards are not competitive with the Lola's.  Force 10, owned by Paul Cherry bought the rights from Team Penske to use the Reynske version of the Reynard which made it at least competitive with the Lola's.  CART would not allow those modifications to be used by the Reynard teams, citing the chassis freeze rules.  In effect, CART has assured the Reynard teams no chance of winning because they are not capable of fiddling with the rules to make the competition equal like NASCAR and the IRL does.  Part of the problem is CART's self-serving Franchise Board, which won't allow a change to the Reynard's because most of the Board Members, including Carl Haas who is a distributor for Lola, already have Lola's and won't dare vote to do what is right for the series, instead wanting to do what is right for them.  It's clear CART must dissolve the Franchise Board as soon as possible.  At this point it is useless and getting in the way of CART doing what is right.  All other successful racing series are run like a dictatorship whereby the teams have no vote on the rules, just the ability to protest. CART's Director of Competition and Racing John Lopes should be on the telephone to Force 10 to sell those design changes to Van Diemen, who have bought the rights to the Reynard. It's time for CART to do what's right for the series, not what's right for its self-serving Franchise Board members. Mark C.

3/23/03

NASCAR denies changes   On the morning of the Food City 500 the Winston Cup Director of Competition, John Darby, denied reports the sanctioning body was close to making changes to the rear spoilers. “It’s still something we want to do but want to do it just to do it,” said Darby. “We could make still make some changes this year but look at what we ’ve seen in the first five races and it makes you ask ‘why do anything at all?’” Darby says there could be at least two reductions in the spoiler height without involving Goodyear, supplier of tires to the Winston Cup, Busch and Truck Series teams. However, he further emphasized that any change in the spoiler height is not likely to occur before mid-season. Stan Creekmore/NASCAR Editor

3/23/03

Carpentier well enough to drive as Players pair 1-2 in warm-ups  Team Player’s drivers Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier were one-two in this morning's warm-up session in preparation for this afternoon’s Tecate/TelMex Grand Prix of Monterrey in Mexico. The two Canadian drivers were testing their back-up car as they both damaged their primary cars during Saturday morning practice session.  Tracy was quickest of the 19 drivers entered for Round 2 of the Champ Car World Series. He posted his best lap time around the 3.386-kilometre (2.104-mile) road course in 1 minute 16.050 seconds for an average speed of 160.287 km/h. Carpentier, who was a questionable starter after missing Saturday's second qualifying session because of a flu virus, was second quickest with a lap time of 1:16.275 for an average speed of 159.814 km/h. He will suit up for today's race. Polesitter Sébastien Bourdais finished third, followed by Orviol Servia from Spain and Bruno Junqueira from Brazil.

3/23/03

Valiante wins season opener   Last years Championship runner-up Canadian Michael Valiante won today's CART Toyota Atlantic season opener in Monterrey Mexico.  Jonathan Macri finished second and Danica Patrick, finished third in her series debut.  This women has "star" written all over her and is undoubtedly the most talented women driver in racing right now.  Pole sitter and Mexican favorite Luis Diaz was taken out of contention in a first turn incident with an overzealous AJ Allmendinger, who ran into the back of him and cut his tire.  Full Story

3/23/03

Pairing with the IRL has destroyed the Copper World Classic  As this Indy Star article says, Phoenix International Raceway staged a midget race Saturday that once was the talk of short-track racing. But where there used to be 35,000 people in the grandstands and all the energy imaginable for the Copper World Classic, there was next to nothing of either Saturday as part of the Indy Racing League's Purex Indy 200 weekend. The U.S. Auto Club midgets and Silver Crown cars are playing a supportive role to the IRL's two series this weekend. Only a few thousand people were on hand to see the late-afternoon midget race, won by Aaron Pollock of Troy, Ohio. Ford racing director Dan Davis couldn't believe his eyes. He remembers the prestige the Copper World, started in 1977, once had. "It's absolutely pathetic, and it shouldn't be like this," he said. "This has gone from a pretty neat event to no one here. There isn't anything festive about it now; it's just dead." The Copper World lost its traditional early-February date in 2000 when track officials paired it with the Indy cars. The idea was to make both race weekends better, but it has gradually had the opposite effect on the Copper World.  [Editor's Note: Hello, is anyone listening?  Open wheel oval track racing is done, stick a fork in it.  Unless you prop up ticket sales with 2 for 1 Winston Cup ticket deals, or you give a lot of tickets away for free, in general race fans have lost interest in watching open wheel cars drone around in circles.  This applies to CART as well as the IRL.  The CART/IRL split has killed it].

3/23/03

Wilson taken to hospital because of HANS   Minardi racer Justin Wilson was airlifted to hospital in Kuala Lumpur after his arms became temporarily paralyzed during a scorching Malaysian Grand Prix. The 24-year-old British driver was suffering with a trapped nerve and was stuck inside the cockpit of his Minardi for eight minutes after finally retiring from the 56-lap race with 15 laps left because of the extreme pain. Wilson, competing in only his second grand prix, ran into problems when the HANS (Head and Neck Support) safety device worked loose making it much harder for him to control the car with cockpit temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius at Sepang. The Sheffield-born racer was taken to the circuit's medical centre with his right arm in a sling while he was beginning to regain movement in his left arm before he was taken to a local hospital for a scan. "He had no movement in his arm or shoulder, they were completely numb," said Minardi boss Paul Stoddart. "It took us eight minutes to get him out of the car. He wasn't in a very good shape when he came in. "We have all had trapped nerves and it's not a nice thing to happen, it's certainly not a nice thing when you are doing 300km an hour around a race track. "I don't know how he got back to the pits but luckily he did as if he had stopped on the circuit in that heat it could have been far worse." Stoddart was full of praise for the bravery shown by Wilson. "That was a gladiator effort - no-one bar Justin will know just how much pain he was in," added Stoddart. "I didn't know he had guts like that, that's the kind of stuff champions are made of. "You have got to give Justin credit, he must have been in absolute bloody agony in that car. But he never came on the radio and said anything until he literally couldn't turn the steering wheel any more. "He had only just come in for a pit-stop a couple of laps earlier and he still didn't say anything about the pain, but just kept going. Full credit to him. It was bloody stupid but in a loveable way. "He literally could not drive any more. When he came on the radio on his final lap we heard the word steering and thought he had a problem with that. Then we could hear him say, 'I can't turn the steering wheel. "He lost five seconds in the first sector, seven in the second and 12 seconds in the third sector."

3/23/03

Coulthard mad at McLaren   David Coulthard turned on his McLaren team after retiring at Sepang. Coulthard was in second when his McLaren ground to a halt on lap three with electrical gremlins. The Scot, who won the first race of the year in Australia, was furious that an opportunity to build a championship lead had gone begging. He said: "I'm very disappointed. When you’ve got a car that is a year old you shouldn’t be having problems like this. "Time and time again we have parked the car and it is just not good enough. The benchmark is what Ferrari have in terms of reliability and we are falling a long way short of that." Team boss Ron Dennis said: "(I feel) disappointment for David. It was an electrical problem but we don’t know exactly what."

3/23/03

Schu apologizes for mistake   On the first lap in Malaysia Michael Schumacher found himself coming under pressure from David Coulthard and tried to squeeze up the inside of Trulli and crashed into the Italian. The shunt earned Schumacher a drive-through penalty and by the time he crossed the line in sixth place he had been into the pits four times. "It was a tough race with an unfortunate start. I made a mistake and hit Jarno and I have apologized to him," Schumacher said. "That was the decisive moment of my race." "It came as a big surprise that I was still able to fight for points after I pitted for the drive-through penalty. So, I am happy enough in the circumstances. I have no complaints about my car, which worked very well, thanks to the team. Let's hope the next race will be better."

3/23/03

Rubens races w/o HANS   Rubens Barrichello actually drove the Sepang race without the new compulsory HANS system. The Brazilian has complained about it in the past saying that it is very uncomfortable and caused his Melbourne accident, so he was granted an exemption by the Malaysian stewards. He said: "I must thank the stewards for allowing me to race without the HANS system. Sid Watkins checked me out and agreed that I should not use it, as I have got a small hernia which is quite painful. I tried all weekend to make the HANS work and for the next race, we will have a solution which should fix the problem."

3/23/03

New CART driver weight rules explained  Under new CART rules designed to deny lightweight drivers an undue advantage, the median for drivers was declared to be 152 pounds this season after all competitors were weighed at spring training. Tracy, the heaviest driver on the circuit, weighed in at 176 pounds, so the team wanted to trim 24 pounds from his car. "They been able to take about 20 pounds off the car," Tracy said. "It's amazing how much weight you add to a car by putting a nut here, a bolt there, a brace over here. We'll go into Monterrey almost 25 pounds lighter than we ran at St. Pete." Lightweight drivers will have to add ballasts to the car, which all initially weigh 1,565 pounds, bringing the minimum allowable driver-plus-car weight to 1,717 pounds (F1 cars weight 1,250 Lbs with driver, making Champ Cars 467 Lbs overweight compared to their faster brethren.  Time for a diet CART!) Toronto Star

3/23/03

Newman's pole run at Bristol a stunner   Ryan Newman's qualifying run for Sunday's Food City 500 was, quite simply, stunning. Newman toured Bristol Motor Speedway in 14.908 seconds, the first driver to turn a lap under 15 seconds at the 0.533-mile oval. That's 128.709 mph. Jeff Gordon's track record of 127.916 mph, was ground to dust. Gordon qualified second yesterday at 127.343 mph. Sterling Marlin, the No. 16 qualifier, is closer to Gordon than Gordon is to Newman. Someone congratulated Gordon afterward for almost winning the pole. "Almost, because I was second," Gordon said. "Not almost if you look at the times. My gosh, that's an unbelievable lap that Ryan put out there. Our car was great today. I don't know how I could have gone much faster. I certainly couldn't have gone fast enough to beat Ryan." Newman was about three tenths of a second faster than he'd been in practice earlier. He also spun the car in practice but sustained no damage. "That was the most amazed I've ever been after qualifying, to go that fast," said Newman, who earned his second pole position of 2003. "I was so surprised with that lap. The guys did it. Everything happened just right."

3/23/03

10-3-2-3-2 races for CART  UPDATE The two leading candidates for CART's 2nd race in the Pacific Basin that Pook refers to are Beijing, China and Seoul, South Korea.  With the threat from North Korea mere miles from Seoul, CART will have to think long and hard about that one.  However, with many Korean companies now interested in CART (engine - Hyundai and Kia, and tire companies - Kumho and Hankook Tires), and because it's easier to do business in Korea, Seoul may get the nod.  CART COO David Clare was summoned from South Korea to work for CART, and his lovely wife is Korean.  He certainly knows the city and the country.  F3 racing is popular in South Korea, so potentially there could be Korean drivers in the pipeline.  Mark C. 3/22/03 - Chris Pook - "We are on record as saying that we will have up to 20 races. That's where we'd like to be. But there's no reason why we can't have 18 races or 16 races. But our goal is to have 20 races that fit within our business model that we have articulated, and that is really basically two races in Mexico, three races in Canada, 10 races in the United States, three races in Europe and two races in the Pacific Basin. That's really what our business model is."

3/22/03

McLaren and Williams lose support   Three Formula One bosses have spoken out against the threat of arbitration by leading British teams McLaren and Williams. Jaguar's new sporting director John Hogan says he respects their decision to question the unilateral imposition of F1 rules-reform, but reckons it 'isn't smart.' He said, 'At the end of the day, it is a sport and arbitration has nothing to do with sport.' Led by McLaren boss Ron Dennis, Sir Frank Williams also feels that the mode of implementation of FIA President Max Mosley's new rules was illegal and in breach of the Concorde Agreement. But the dispute could stretch on for more than eighteen months, leading BAR team principal David Richards to question the sensitivity of bringing it into the public domain mere days before season 2003 kicked off. Richards added, 'I don't share their views which I'm sure are sincere and valid. But I feel it was unnecessary to do it the way they did when everything was looking so positive for F1.' Renault principal and managing director Flavio Briatore agrees that Formula One needs to focus on the sport, and not political wrangling, at a time when sponsorship is hard to come by. 'It's not nice. It's not good,' said the flamboyant Italian. 'It doesn't bring any good to us, only bad. We have so many controversial issues but we need to make sure, above all else, that the spectators are enjoying the sport.' Generally, Mosley's reforms such as one-shot qualifying have been welcomed, although the teams are by and large unhappy about bans on refuelling and set-up changes between Saturday and the grand prix. The team bosses will meet with FIA delegate Charlie Whiting on April 9 to discuss how the new weekend format is coming along.

3/22/03

90% chance of rain for race at Sepang   It's Sunday morning in Malaysia and all are confident that the afternoon will see a down pour. Latest predictions have the chance of thunderstorms at 90%. With the thunderstorms will come heavy rain which is expected to arrive at the circuit mid to late afternoon. Currently at Sepang (8:00am) temperatures are at twenty five degreases Celsius and 94% humidity suggestion rain might not be too far down the track. But if the weather does hold off like it has done for the past two days the Formula One drivers are in for a sweltering hot afternoon in the office.

3/22/03

Taylor leads flag-to-flag  Infiniti Pro Series points leader Mark Taylor remains perfect this season, capturing the Phoenix 100 on March 22 at Phoenix International Raceway for his second victory in as many starts this season. Pole winner Taylor led all 100 laps in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, beating runner-up Thiago Medeiros to the finish by 1.0758 seconds in an incident-filled race. Tony Ave finished third, as rookies swept the podium positions. Taylor averaged 92.611 mph on the 1-mile oval in a race slowed by cautions four times for 33 laps. He padded his points lead to 104-80 over series and race runner-up Medeiros. It was only the second time in Indy Racing League history that a driver led every lap of a race. Ryan Hampton led from start to finish to win the Infiniti Pro Series race in August 2002 at Gateway International Raceway. “It was a great race,” Taylor said. “I was just able to keep it nice and stable up front. I had the advantage of clean air up there and kept it all the way through the race. That was a huge advantage.” Indeed. Taylor pulled away on each of the four restarts, building a lead as large as 4.9 seconds on Lap 83. The final caution period started on Lap 93 when Marty Roth hit the outside retaining wall in Turn 4 with the No. 3 Roth/Stewart Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. He was unhurt. The caution set up a one-lap chase for the checkered, as the green flew at the start of Lap 100. Taylor stayed ahead of Medeiros and Ave entering Turn 1 and never trailed thereafter. Medeiros, who started ninth, still was happy with his second consecutive runner-up finish of the season in the No. 36 Genoa Racing entry. “This weekend was very difficult for us,” Medeiros said. “We never had tested here before. It was difficult to find a very good setup in the short time of the practices. We didn’t have a good car when we qualified, but the race was incredible. Congratulations to everybody, the mechanics, the engineers.” Ave completed a fine rally from a crash during practice Friday, earning a top-three finish in his first Infiniti Pro Series start in the No. 91 RFMS/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. “The disappointing part for me is that I made a mistake in traffic on Friday and got in the fence,” Ave said. “Unfortunately, we lost a lot of laps. From there, the guys did such a great job. They put that thing together. We went out and it was just the same as it was before, which is amazing. Hemelgarn Racing did such a great job. “Third is great, but I really wanted to win the race.” Phoenix International Raceway is one of the trickiest, most unforgiving tracks in the IRL, and the IndyCarTM Series has raced at the facility every year since 1996. This was the first Infiniti Pro Series race at the historic track, and its difficult layout – every corner is different – caught some of the drivers. Veterans Cory Witherill and Ed Carpenter, and rookie Tom Wood were unhurt in separate incidents. Witherill was involved in two incidents in the No. 92 WSA Healthcare entry. He spun exiting Turn 2 on Lap 21. He made no contact and returned to the race. But Witherill and rookie Jonathan Urlin hit the outside wall in Turn 1 after the checkered flag flew. Neither driver was hurt. The next Infiniti Pro Series race is the inaugural Freedom 100 on May 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Two wins in two races,” Taylor said. “Now we’ll take it on to Indianapolis – that’s the important one this year. With my knowledge of ovals – this is only my second race with the car – you know you’re on a steep learning curve. It just shows what a great team Panther is.”

3/22/03

Danica Patrick showing well in debut   Team Rahal's Argent Mortgage driver Danica Patrick qualified fifth for Sunday's Grand Prix of Monterrey with a fast lap of 88.555 mph. Patrick making her debut in the Toyota Atlantic Championship improving by nearly a full three-seconds from Friday's qualifying. "I set some pretty high expectations for myself and I said I wanted to qualifying in the top-six and now we are fifth which is a really strong start," said Patrick. "I am pleased with it but as I look back over the session I saw opportunities where I could have gone faster. I was on a lap that was two-tenths quicker on my final lap but I ran out of fuel and the car sputtered on the back stretch. We don't want to give anything away. We are not done. This is only the first race so this is a great start." "What a great qualifying session for Danica and this Argent team," said three-time CART champion Bobby Rahal. "She has shown improvement every time out and that is what you are looking for from a young driver." Patrick is in some heady company at the front of the Atlantic field. Three of the four drivers in front of her are Atlantic veterans with Joey Hand (second) and Michael Valiante (fourth) having led or battled for the championship last season.

3/22/03

Hometown driver Martinez win is Monterrey   David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico won the second round of the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series championship leading every lap to take a flag-to-flag win at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico. Polesitter Leonardo Maia came home second to extend his championship points lead, with Telmex pilot Memo Rojas taking his second consecutive third place finish this season to move into second in the points. Colin Fleming of North Hills, California finished fourth with Nelson Philippe of Velence, France taking his first-ever top five finish in Barber Dodge competition. Canadian Dan Di Leo recovered from a first-lap off-course excursion to finish sixth, with Barber-Champ Car Scholarship racer Scott Poirier taking seventh. German Quiroga brought his Gigante-liveried machine home in eighth with fellow Mexican Luis Pelayo finishing ninth. Chris Baker of Houston, Texas, took the tenth finishing spot after overcoming mechanical issues early in the weekend. Martinez, who had just one start in the Barber Dodge Pro Series before this weekend, at Cleveland in 1998, took the lead at the start of the race, and never looked back, building up a six second lead over Leo Maia and the rest of the field. Martinez had but one goal for the race, to win in front of his home crowd, and was excited to have done so. In taking the win, Martinez is the first Mexican driver to win an international race in Mexico. "I knew that I had to find a hole at the start to get by Leo, and fortunately, I found one," said Martinez. "Leo has been fast all weekend, so I wanted to get the lead because if he did, it would have been really difficult to pass him. Once I did on the first lap, I just got into a rhythm that was comfortable for me, and before I knew it, there was a good gap behind me. I wasn't to happy when the yellow came out, even though I knew I had a fast car if we went back to green, but I am really happy with this win in my hometown. Its really a dream for me."

3/22/03

Diaz thrills Mexican fans   For the second consecutive year, Mexican Luis Diaz (#33 Telmex/Dorricott Racing Toyota/Swift) and American Joey Hand (#27 BG Products/DSTP Motorsports Toyota/Swift) will share the front row when the green flag falls on the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship season Sunday morning (SPEED Channel, 11:30 a.m. ET) for the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix. In a thrilling battle with rookie driver A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT Toyota/Swift) in which the two drivers traded fast laps, Diaz managed to put down the fastest lap of the weekend at 1:24.960 (89.153 mph) with two minutes remaining in the final qualifying to take the pole position in front of thousands of his adoring countrymen. It was Diaz's third career Toyota Atlantic pole position, and his first since starting from the pole at Road America in 2002, a race he would go on to win. Diaz finished fifth in last year's race after leading the first five laps under rainy conditions before giving way to his Dorricott Racing teammate, Jon Fogarty, who went on to claim his first of two 2002 victories en route to the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship title. Despite posting the third quickest speed in today's final session at 1:25.385 (88.709 mph), Hand will start from the outside of the front row based on the fact that he qualified on the provisional pole yesterday. After starting second last year, Hand picked up what would be his best result of the season with a third place performance in the 2002 Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix.

3/22/03

Shanghai gears up for F1   This Grandprix.com article says, The organizers of the planned Chinese Grand Prix were in Malaysia to look at the facilities at Sepang and to learn more about how each Formula 1 race operates. Work is well underway on the construction of a huge racing facility close to the city of Shanghai. Work began in October last year after a deal was struck for a race to be held between 2004 and 2010. The new circuit is bigger and better than anything seen in Formula 1 to date, underlining the huge investment that is being made by the Chinese. There will be facilities for 200,000 spectators, including a light railway which will go to the track directly from downtown Shanghai. Access to the circuit by car will be through a huge new motorway interchange to enable cars to get in and out quickly. One unusual innovation in the facilities will be an artificial lake behind the paddock on which team offices will be built on stilts. This will ensure that teams have more privacy than at most "fly-away" races where they are restricted to the pit garages and makeshift accommodation in the paddock.

3/22/03

Yoong makes progress on 2nd Day  Malaysia's first ever Formula 1 driver made a solid start in his debut with the "Bridgestone Presents Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford" by finishing 14th out of 16 cars in the second qualifying session in this weekend's Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Mexico. The conditions under which Yoong made his debut were not ideal by any definition as he was facing the challenges of driving an all new car, in a circuit unknown to him, under a new team environment and without any testing prior to his arrival in Monterrey, Mexico from the other side of the globe following a 33 hour journey across three continents, arriving in Monterrey only a day before the weekend's program started on Friday. In each of the four free practices and two qualifying sessions held on Friday and Saturday Yoong took chunks off his best times in each session to make solid progress throughout the two days. He never put a foot wrong bar one spin which left him stalled in the middle of the circuit in the first qualifying on Friday. Yoong, who received a last minute call-up from the Dale Coyne Racing Team only last Tuesday, clocked his best time of 1m 18.350s in the second qualifying session on Saturday. His team-mate, J. Camathias of Switzerland clocked 1m 19.305s in the same final qualifying session. "I'm happy with the progress made so far and looking forward to a good race tomorrow." said Yoong following the final qualifying session.

3/22/03

Sam who?  A reader writes, Dear AR1, I see IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. is out to lunch again this weekend in Phoenix, qualifying a lowly 17th in the 22 car field.  Everyone knew he had a "special" engine the last two years.  Now that his Chevy doesn't produce as much HP as the Honda and Toyota runners, I see the top Chevy is just 12th, and ole Sam is just an also-ran.  How long before the IRL has to give Sam and the rest of the Chevy runners a special higher-RPM rev limiter to keep up.  Darren White, Chicago, IL.  Dear Darren, as Michael Andretti and Kannan said after qualifying, "I was flat out all around."  In 100% full throttle racing, HP is king.  Mark C.

3/22/03

Maia set track record, snares pole   Leonardo Maia of Oakland, California, set a new track record of 1:33.824 seconds on the 2.104-mile circuit at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico, to snare the pole position for Saturday's race. Provisional polesitter David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico, will line up second for the race after setting a time just 0.051 seconds short of Maia's. Antoine Bessette of St. Bruno, Quebec, will start in third with fellow Canadian Dan Di Leo joining him on the second row. The first eleven qualifiers were within a second of the pole time, demonstrating both the parity and competitive nature of the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Memo Rojas of Mexico City, Mexico will line up next to Barber-Champ Car Scholarship racer Scott Poirier, ahead of whom Rojas emerged in a race-long battle for third at the opening round race in St. Petersburg. Fellow Barber-Champ Car Scholarship racer Colin Fleming took seventh spot in the final qualifying session, and will start the race alongside of Beaconsfield, Quebec's Chris Green. Telmex-supported Luis Pelayo is the third Mexican in the top ten starting positions, and will start alongside of Josh Beaulieu of Langley, B.C., Canada. The pole position is Maia's second of the season, and the Brazilian-born championship points leader is looking forward to the 3:45 pm scheduled race start.
Start Pos/Car#/Driver/Hometown/Time/MPH
1/6/Leonardo Maia/Oakland, Calif./01:33.824/80.730
2/47/David Martinez L./Monterrey, Mexico/01:33.875/80.686
3/16/Antoine Bessette/St. Bruno, Quebec/01:34.160/80.442
4/19/Dan Di Leo/Markham, Ontario, Canada/01:34.364/80.268
5/15/Memo Rojas/Mexico City, Mexico/01:34.397/80.240
6/67/Scott Poirier/Deerfield Beach, Florida/01:34.649/80.026
7/28/Colin Fleming/North Hills, Calif./01:34.694/79.988
8/96/Chris Green/Beaconsfield, Quebec/01:34.707/79.977
9/49/Luis Pelayo/Mexico City, Mexico/01:34.711/79.974
10/27/Josh Beaulieu/Langley, B.C., Canada/01:34.770/79.924
11/26/Nelson Philippe/Valence, France/01:34.838/79.867
12/24/Burt Frisselle/Kihei, Hawaii/01:34.952/79.771
13/33/German Quiroga/Mexico City, Mexico/01:35.064/79.677
14/11/Chris Baker/Houston, Texas/01:35.478/79.331
15/18/Robbie Montinola/Laguna Beach, Calif./01:35.524/79.293
16/38/Juan Manuel Polar/Lima, Peru/01:35.696/79.151
17/31/Al Unser/Corrales, New Mexico/01:35.701/79.147
18/95/Victor Gonzalez/Hatoray, Puerto Rico/01:35.739/79.115
19/34/Mike Richardson/Kelowna, B.C., Canada/01:36.458/78.525
20/12/"Racer" Kashima/Tokyo, Japan/01:37.328/77.823
21/59/Hima Maher/Calgary, Alberta/01:37.699/77.528

3/22/03

DUI sidelines Fike  Must be the stress of oval racing and the risk of hitting those walls.  He isn't the first.  Infiniti Pro Series driver Aaron Fike is sitting out this weekend's event after being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol last week near his home in Galesburg, Ill. Fike, 22, also will miss Sunday's U.S. Auto Club midget race in Stockton, Calif., according to his father, Don Fike, who issued the suspension. "He made a mistake and he needs to learn from it," Don Fike said. "Now we've got to see how he comes back from it."

3/22/03

New Barber/CART scholarship logo   Skip Barber Racing School introduced a new logo to identify Barber-Champ Car Scholarship drivers today. The logo will be placed on the cockpit sides and noses of current BDPS Scholarship drivers Colin Fleming, Scott Poirier, Al Unser, Robbie Montinola, and Burt Frisselle. The logo will also be flown on the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship presented by RACER cars of Karting Scholarship drivers Joe D'Agostino, Phillippe Gelinas, Matt Jaskol, and David Jurca as well as National Championship Scholarship driver Rafael Matos. "The new logo is an exciting combination of the brand identities of Champ Car and Skip Barber Racing," said George Tamayo, Director of Marketing for Skip Barber Racing. "We at Skip Barber and Champ Car are enormously proud of the Scholarship System that every year affords young drivers an opportunity to climb the ladder. This logo will identify those that are climbing it today as well as those at the top who have benefited from it. We hope that they will wear it with the same pride we have of them."

3/22/03

CART stars fastest in IRL practice  This Gainesville Sun article says it all, maybe the IRL critics who used to claim CART drivers were better had a point.  Five of the top six drivers who practiced Friday at Phoenix International Raceway for Sunday's Indy 200 are former CART stars.  The other one, defending Phoenix champion Helio Castroneves, preceded them into the IRL from CART by one season and has won the last two Indianapolis 500s (and CART driver Juan Montoya before that).  In other words what the author was trying to say was that the IRL was comprised of all CART wanna-bees before many CART road racers defected and took over the series.

3/22/03

Bristol could end up on FX   If the Iraqi war interrupts the FOX broadcast of the Bristol race, the backup plan is to show it on FX.

3/22/03

Bristol adds seats   the 1/2-mile high-banked Bristol Motor Speedway has added more grandstand seats and now has a 160,000 seat capacity.  For a 1/2 mile track that is phenomenal - more than Talladega which is 2.66 miles around.  The grandstands are extremely steep and high.  Being inside the bowl during a race is quite an experience.

3/22/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

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Quick Word In The Paddock: Saturday 1
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BAR Drivers Free To Bicker

3/22/03

Toyota boss praises da Matta   Toyota team principal Ove Andersson has praised CART champion Cristiano da Matta for his performance so far in his debut season. "Christiano, I think, is doing very very well," said Andersson. "He does a couple of laps here, it’s the first time he’s seen the circuit. He did 20 laps this morning and he’s in eleventh place. I think that’s very very good. He could have been higher but we are very impressed with him and his performance."

3/22/03

Martinez tops times in Monterrey   David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico, secured the provisional pole in today's first qualifying session with a lap of 1:34.440 seconds on the 2.104-mile circuit at Fundidora Park. Taking second position was Chris Green of Beaconsfield, Quebec, who came up just .267 seconds short in his bid for his first Barber Dodge pole position.  Daniel Di Leo of Markham, Ontario, secured third after spending much of the session atop the timesheets before being bested late in the session by Martinez and Green. Antoine Bessette, who held onto the top spot with ten minutes remaining in the session, took fourth spot with St. Petersburg round winner Leo Maia ending the session in the top-five. Fellow Barber-Champ Car Scholarship drivers Colin Fleming and Scott Poirier took sixth and seventh respectively, with a pair of Mexican pilots, German Quiroga and Memo Rojas, taking eighth and ninth. Al Unser put in a strong performance during the first half of the session, with times in the top five, but lost the handling on his car by the end of the session to end with a provisional tenth starting position.
Pos/Car #/Driver/Hometown/Fastest Lap/MPH
1/47/David Martinez L./Monterrey, Mexico/01:34.440/80.203
2/96/Chris Green/Beaconsfield, Quebec/01:34.707/79.977
3/19/Dan Di Leo/Markham, Ontario, Canada/01:34.988/79.741
4/16/Antoine Bessette/St. Bruno, Quebec/01:35.034/79.702
5/6/Leonardo Maia/Oakland, Calif./01:35.050/79.689
6/28/Colin Fleming/North Hills, Calif./01:35.169/79.589
7/67/Scott Poirier/Deerfield Beach, Florida/01:35.256/79.516
8/15/Memo Rojas Mexico City, Mexico/01:35.473/79.336
9/33/German Quiroga/Mexico City, Mexico/01:35.537/79.282
10/31/Al Unser/Corrales, New Mexico/01:35.701/79.147
11/49/Luis Pelayo/Mexico City, Mexico/01:35.718/79.132
12/27/Josh Beaulieu/Langley, B.C., Canada/01:35.847/79.026
13/95/Victor Gonzalez/Hatoray, Puerto Rico/01:35.885/78.995
14/26/Nelson Philippe/Valence, France/01:35.905/78.978
15/11/Chris Baker/Houston, Texas/01:36.165/78.765
16/18/Robbie Montinola/Laguna Beach, Calif./01:36.189/78.745
17/24/Burt Frisselle/Kihei, Hawaii/01:36.398/78.574
18/38/Juan Manuel Polar/Lima, Peru/01:36.811/78.239
19/34/Mike Richardson/Kelowna, B.C., Canada/01:37.364/77.795
20/12/"Racer" Kashima/Tokyo, Japan/01:38.095/77.215
21/59/Hima Maher/Calgary, Alberta/01:38.675/76.761

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