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DATE

News (chronologically)

4/5/03

Ford to submit new Taurus in July  Ford will introduce a new Taurus, both in the showroom and on the racetrack, for 2004. The street model Taurus will likely hit the showroom in late September or October. The race-trim model must be presented to NASCAR officials by July 1. Amazingly, with just three months remaining until that deadline, the first piece of sheet metal still has not been hung on a chassis. “I would tell you (when),” said Greg Specht, North American Operations Manager, Ford Racing Technology, during an informal chat on pit road during qualifying for the Aaron’s 499; “It just hasn’t happened yet.” Specht says Ford, working with Robert Yates Racing, Roush Racing and Wood Brothers Racing, has the chassis’ ready to go, but won’t hang the sheet metal until somewhere near the first of May. “We won’t bend any metal until we are confident that what we have designed on computer and then tested in scale model form is where we think it needs to be.” Plans for introduction of a new Dodge has, according to NASCAR, been pushed back to 2005. Stan Creekmore, NASCAR Editor

4/5/03

Texas TV ratings down 10%  Today's Sports Business Daily says that final Nielsen figures for Fox's broadcast of last Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 Winston Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway fell 10 percent from last year. This year's race had a 6.3 rating and 14 share, down from 7.0/10. But all sports events continued to show the impact that the war with Iraq is having. The Daily says CBS's coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament is down 22 percent from last year and noted that NBC's coverage of Sunday's final round of the PGA Players' Championship was down 23 percent. Overall, the Daily says Fox's NASCAR coverage is up 3 percent this year, with an average of 6.3/15, compared to a 6.1/15 in 2002. Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter

4/5/03

Penalty not likely in #20 case  UPDATE Darby further clarified NASCAR’s position Saturday morning saying, “There may be some incurred cost in researching the car that could trickle down to the team. You could call that a penalty, but the driver, crew chief and car owner will not directly receive a direct penalty notice.”  4/5/03 - The Director of the Winston Cup Series, John Darby, said it was “unlikely” a penalty would be issued against the #20 Home Depot team owned by Joe Gibbs Racing as it relates to the impoundment of the team’s primary race car at Texas Motor Speedway. One week after the sanctioning body impounded the car; Darby says his crew still hasn’t had the necessary time to assess the construction of the car, as it relates to the x-measurement. “You have to understand we had a very short week last week,” said Darby. “We had a little more than a day to look at the car last week.” What is there to look at one might ask? The racecar, at least in the area of the rear window and deck lid, was clearly built outside the box. Darby’s concern lies with the construction of the car. Was the offset of the rear end of the car achieved by a change in one area of the car’s construction, or was it achieved by pushing the envelope in several different areas of the racecar? It is the answer to that question which will determine what, if any, of the car is returned to the race team and whether a penalty is eventually issued. “This car gives us the opportunity to re-assess our entire inspection procedure,” said Darby. “We have an opportunity to make sure the procedures we have put in place this year are achieving the goals we set out to achieve.” The overall design of Darby’s actions is his way of putting his own personal stamp on his position. In the past if a team found some way to exploit the system and enough teams made the same discovery before NASCAR officials caught on to the change the issue was often resolved by changing the rulebook, making the new discovery allowable and available to all teams. Darby thinks differently. The soft-spoken director believes it is his task to enforce the rulebook, nipping exploitation in its infancy. Darby believes, no he knows, that it is far easier to stop one team then it is to corral the whole pack.  Stan Creekmore, NASCAR Editor

4/5/03

Friday press conference from Brazilian GP  Fernando Alonso (Renault), David Coulthard (McLaren), Juan Pablo Montoya (WilliamsF1) and Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) Transcript

4/5/03

Minardi to rent car on Friday  The Minardi team made it clear that they are willing to run a third car whenever they can find a local driver willing to pay for the opportunity to test in front of the F1 teams in Friday AM testing.  At Imola they be running test driver Matteo Bobbi in a third car during the testing sessions on Friday at Imola. It is believed that Bobbi is paying for the opportunity to test.

4/5/03

Confusion over tobacco ads in Brazil  This GrandPrix.com article says, Anti-tobacco legislation has been going through Brazil's Congress for the last three years but the laws are now finally official although there was considerable confusion at Interlagos over the details of what branding teams are allowed to run. The Brazilian law allows for "world class" events to maintain tobacco sponsorship, at least in the short team. The problem has been that no-one was quite sure what constituted a world class event. As a result Ferrari spent much of Friday running without tobacco branding but then decided to put the branding back on the cars for qualifying. Other teams initially followed Ferrari and removed tobacco branding but later put the logos back on the cars.

4/5/03

Irvine says Ralf doesn't have what it takes  Eddie Irvine doesn't think Ralf Schumacher has what it takes to compete in a top team. Speaking to British tabloid, the Sun, Eddie said, “BMW Williams look like they are starting to get their act together but it's no wonder Frank Williams and Patrick Head have told Ralf Schumacher to buck his ideas up because at the moment he's being outpaced and outraced by Juan Pablo Montoya. I have never rated Ralf and people who try and compare him to his brother don't know what they are talking about,” Irvine said in the Sun. “The guy just hasn't got it and no amount of scribbled notes from his bosses is going to change that. It still amazes me how Schuey Jr's manager Willi Weber managed to coax Williams into forking out £12million a year to keep him until 2004. It must have been like taking candy from a baby. Sure there was talk about him possibly joining McLaren and the knowledge that he had just won a couple of races. But everyone forgets those victories were achieved because the team's Michelin tires were outstanding at the time.”

4/5/03

Yoong comments on Brazilian GP and CART future  Well, the Brazilian grand Prix is underway and from what we have seen so far this season I am expecting another good race, especially as the rain is playing its part this weekend. While we have seen some strange results so far, like Michael Schumacher not being on the podium two races in a row, we should be seeing a determined No. 1 Ferrari on the track this weekend. However, I pick Juan Pablo Montoya and Rubens Barrichello to be the ones to watch this weekend though. Montoya is always quick in Brazil and this GP is the closest thing to a home race for him. Problem for Rubens is that he had a lot of very bad luck at his home race in Interlagos in the past and I would be happy for him if he overcomes that and win this weekend's race. Interlagos is always a tough race for most drivers. This is due to it being one of the only two anticlockwise circuits of the season. Add to that the fact that the last two corners are one very long sweeping uphill corner and you have a track that is very hard on the neck. You might even see some of the drivers resting their neck on the start finish straight as they come through the last corner. It's a also a very bumpy track which makes seeing the breaking point at the first corner difficult. I read that they have resurfaced the circuit this year so hopefully it is not that bad now. As for my former team Minardi, they have had a hard time getting their cars to work with the Bridgestone tires. Their car this year is basically the same car as last year and was originally designed to work with the Michelins. So it will take awhile before the best setup can be found to go with the Bridgestone’s. What makes it take so long is that the team is struggling for money and has had zero testing with the new tires other than at the race weekends. I am in the United States at the moment and we are working towards racing in the Champ Car World Series for the rest of the year. I'm also looking forward to doing some testing, maybe as early as next week before the Long Beach weekend. These cars are fun to drive and it will be good to do some tests to prepare myself better for the races. Enjoy the Brazilian GP this Sunday and hopefully you can join me if I race at Long Beach next weekend.

4/5/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Driver-By-Driver: Friday Qualifying
Ferrari Vulnerable, Says Coulthard
Motivation Took A Dive, Says Ralf
Coulthard Led Petition To Boycott
Villeneuve Slams Grand Prix 'Sissies'
Contenders Await New F1 Mounts
Sodden Day Ignites Tire Controversy
Ralf Denies Warning Letter Claims
Bits And Pieces From Brazil
New System Will Play To Schu
Schu Relives 'Nutmeg' Horror
Word In The Paddock: Friday In Brazil

4/4/03

Bourdais completes first oval test  Lilly driver Sebastien Bourdais completed his first test on an oval track earlier this week when he ran April 1-2 on the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval in Phoenix, Ariz. The reigning F3000 Champion is in his first season of competition for Newman/Haas Racing in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car world Series Powered by Ford and won the first two pole positions in the same number of events so far this season. "It's been really, really interesting (testing on an oval)," said Bourdais, 24. "It's a bit scary when you start because you don't know really well the limits, between the driver and the car also. It's very difficult to estimate this. After a couple of runs, you can start to get some sensations and a better feeling, so you start to push a bit more, but always with a lot of precaution because it's really easy to do a mistake. With the downforce we have on the cars, on the ovals, it's really quick. You really need to take your time not to do a big mistake which really can have a big consequence on yourself and on the car. It was really interesting. Now I can say that I really had my first experience and I know more where I am on an oval." On Tuesday, PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira turned the first laps for Newman/Haas Racing in a Ford-powered Champ car on an oval since the team ran - and won - the 2000 season-ending race at The California Speedway with Christian Fittipaldi. For 2001 and 2002, the team was powered by Toyota. Junqueira's role was to shake-down the car in order to ensure the set-up was well-balanced before handing the testing duties over to rookie Bourdais who then ran approximately 345 trouble-free laps/miles over Tuesday and Wednesday. "Newman Haas Racing was very pleased to be able to run a two-day test with Sebastien to give him his first exposure to an oval," said Brian Lisles, General Manager for Newman/Haas Racing. "For his own safety and that of his fellow competitors, we feel it was crucial to allow him to gain experience at an oval in a quiet setting with no pressure to prepare him for the forthcoming oval events."

4/4/03

CART signs deal with Holland Cruise Lines  Officials from Champ Car announced today that Holland America Line has joined the open wheel racing sanctioning body as the “Preferred Cruise Line of Champ Car.” Rated the highest premium cruise line in the world in the 2002 Travel & Leisure Magazine “World’s Best Awards,” Holland America is a member of the exclusive World’s Leading Cruise Lines alliance, which also includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Cunard Line, Seabourn Cruise Line, Costa Cruises and Windstar Cruises. Together, these member lines share a commitment to quality and value, offering cruise vacations that appeal to a wide range of lifestyles and budgets and sail to some of the world's most exciting destinations. “We are extremely honored to welcome Holland America Line to Champ Car as an official sponsor for the 2003 Champ Car World Series season,” said Champ Car Vice President of Marketing Steve Fusek. “This new partnership with Holland America elevates both of our brands and further strengthens Champ Car’s position as a sport property. With the strong mix of races in key North American and international markets in the Champ Car World Series, we were able to establish a program that provides Holland America with a unique sales, marketing and hospitality vehicle to grow their business.” In addition to the marketing partnership, Holland will support a year-end contingency program, “The Holland America Line Cruise to Victory Award,” that will award the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion driver and team owner with complimentary seven day Holland America Caribbean cruises for two. “On behalf of Holland America Line, we are proud to be associated with Champ Car,” said Senior Director for Incentive, Charter and International Sales, Paul Shortall, CTC. “With the series’ unique international scope, we are very much attracted by the premium markets Champ Car reaches. These venues offer a solid platform for Holland to entertain customers, travel agents and major tour wholesalers. In addition, the Champ Car association provides us access to network with corporate decision makers.” Holland America is cruising's premium leader, providing unsurpassed value, renowned service and quality, industry leading worldwide itineraries and responsible corporate stewardship. In 2003, Holland America's fleet of twelve, five-star, premium ships will offer 447 premium cruises on industry-leading itineraries to all seven continents and will sail from 15 North American home ports. By 2006 Holland America will increase its capacity by 34 percent– and its fleet to a total of 15 ships– with the introduction of three additional 85,000-ton, 1,848-passenger Vista Class ships, the largest ever built for Holland America Line. The line offers the only trip cancellation program in the industry that offers cash back for canceling for any reason prior to 24 hours before departure.

4/4/03

Webber takes provisional pole in wet Brazil  A challenging day weather wise with much off-track activity caused by heavy showers throughout the morning and afternoon sessions.  Jaguar Racing drivers Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia started the test session with dry weather and worked through a program of race set-up and tire evaluation. Despite heavy rain forcing the drivers to end their session early, Mark was satisfied having completed two long runs of twelve laps with no issues. Antonio had faced no issues until the closing minutes of the session when his car came to a stop as a result of a fuel issue. The heavy rain continued into warm-up forcing Antonio to aquaplane on corner four damaging his race car to the extent that the T-car - that was already set up for him - had to be used for qualifying. Antonio, despite the difficult on-track conditions and the use of the T-Car went on to qualify a commendable 8th. This was his first qualifying session at a track that he has previously raced at and his experience has provided him with more time to work on set-up as opposed to track layout.  Mark was one of the last two drivers to qualify and did an outstanding job to qualify on pole. He suffered no issues during qualifying and ran a clean lap providing just reward for both Mark and the team. The Michelin tires did an outstanding job as did Cosworth after what has been a frustrating start to the season for the team.  Webber: “What can I say, an amazing day all-round! I started this morning with two long runs of twelve laps and the car was performing well. We worked on tyre comparisons and also race set-up and were pleased with the results. The heavy rain of course hampered the number of laps that we had hoped to complete but despite that we went into warm –up encouraged. As a result of the session being stopped my fastest lap was not actually recorded, however, I am pleased to say that it was in qualifying. We were fortunate that the track had dried to some extent by the time I went out, however, the team have done an amazing job with the car and pole position today is just reward for the hard work that the team both here and at the factory have carried out since the start of the season. To be last out tomorrow is going to be interesting, lets see how it goes!”

Driver|Team|T|Time|Gap
Webber|Jaguar|M|1:23.111|115.977 mph
Barrichello|Ferrari|B|1:23.249|0.138
Raikkonen|McLaren|M|1:24.607|1.496
Coulthard|McLaren|M|1:24.655|1.544
M Schumacher|Ferrari|B|1:25.585|2.474
Panis|Toyota|M|1:25.614|2.503
Villeneuve|BAR|B|1:25.672|2.561
Pizzonia|Jaguar|M|1:25.764|2.653
Alonso|Renault|M|1:26.203|3.092
Frentzen|Sauber|B|1:26.375|3.264
da Matta|Toyota|M|1:26.554|3.443
Trulli|Renault|M|1:26.557|3.446
R Schumacher|WilliamsF1|M|1:26.709|3.598
Fisichella|Jordan|B|1:26.726|3.615
Verstappen|Minardi|B|1:26.886|3.775
Heidfeld|Sauber|B|1:27.111|4.000
Montoya|WilliamsF1|M|1:27.961|4.850
Firman|Jordan|B|1:28.083|4.972
Wilson|Minardi|B|1:28.317|5.206
Button|BAR|B|No Time|-

4/4/03

Kelley Racing enters 3rd car for Renna  Kelley Racing is pleased to announce the entry of car No. 32, sponsored by the Cure Autism Now Foundation and HomeMed Pharmacy, for rookie driver Tony Renna for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25, 2003. HomeMed Pharmacy, a division of US Health Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Management, is returning as a partner with Kelley Racing for the No. 32 entry. HomeMed Pharmacy previously partnered with Kelley Racing in 2002 as the primary partner on the Infiniti Pro Series entry for Jason Priestley. Ronald Hunter, CEO and Chairman of Standard Management, is pleased that this partnership will benefit the many children who suffer from autism. “We are blessed to be in an industry with a product that will position us so naturally with Cure Autism Now and High Hopes,” stated Hunter. “Our vision quest at HomeMed Pharmacy is that through our partnership with Kelley Racing, we close out the year 2003 by contributing the largest fundraising effort in the history of Cure Autism Now and High Hopes.” HomeMed Pharmacy has put a program into place for the consumer market that directly benefits Cure Autism Now and High Hopes. When an order is placed, either via www.homemed.com or by calling 1-800- 586-2882, between April 1 and December 31 and the customer uses the promotional code “Indy 32” they get a discount on their order and a percentage of the purchase will be donated to Cure Autism Now and High Hopes.

4/4/03

Schumacher fastest in wet Brazil practice   The opening free practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos was dominated by the weather, as heavy rain pelted the one-hour session. Ferrari's Michael Schumacher was fastest, ahead of McLaren's David Coulthard and Jenson Button of BAR.

Position/Driver|Team|Fastest Lap
1 |Michael Schumacher|Ferrari|1m28.060s
2 |David Coulthard|McLaren|1m28.188s
3 |Jenson Button|BAR|1m28.903s
4 |Jarno Trulli|Renault|1m29.607s
5 |Juan Pablo Montoya|Williams|1m30.885s
6 |Rubens Barrichello|Ferrari|1m31.462s
7 |Olivier Panis|Toyota|1m31.518s
8 |Cristiano da Matta|Toyota|1m31.548s
9 |Giancarlo Fisichella|Jordan|1m32.603s
10 |Heinz-Harald Frentzen|Sauber|1m33.131s
11 |Mark Webber|Jaguar|1m33.714s
12 |Ralf Schumacher|Williams|1m35.013s
13 |Jos Verstappen|Minardi|1m37.226s
14 |Nick Heidfeld|Sauber|1m38.728s
15 |Jacques Villeneuve|BAR|1m48.359s
16 |Ralph Firman|Jordan|1m57.783s
17 |Kimi Raikkonen|McLaren|0m0s
18 |Antonio Pizzonia|Jaguar|0m0s
19 |Justin Wilson|Minardi|0m0s
20 |Fernando Alonso|Renault|0m0s

4/4/03

Kenseth and Andretti on radio show  NASCAR Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth will highlight the "Fast Track," a two-hour local motor sports radio program on KNBR 1050 AM (San Francisco) this Saturday (April 5). The show is hosted by Tim Jeffreys and airs each Saturday from 9-11 a.m.   Kenseth already has one victory this year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and placed eighth in the Winston Cup points standings in 2002. Driver Jeff Burton, who has 17 career victories on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, will also be on the show for a second straight week. Michael Andretti, who competes on the Indy Racing league IndyCar Series, will also join Jeffreys on the two-hour show.

4/4/03

Ferrari 2003-GA news   As Formula One moves to Brazil, tests for the F2003-GA are underway back in Europe. Under the car's red skin, brand new Shell products are also being put through their paces. The brand new products in the car have been designed by Shell's engineers in Chester, England working closely alongside the Ferrari designers in Maranello Italy.  More..

4/4/03

New Honda for Imola   Honda will bring a new engine for British American Racing at the San Marino Grand Prix. Honda did try some new spec engines in Australia but suffered a series of failures during practice and a decision was then taken to go back to a more reliable spec.

4/4/03

Industry News

Lola hires aerodynamicist  British aerodynamicist Chris Saunders has rejoined the Huntingdon, UK, racecar manufacturer Lola Cars International. Saunders, who previously oversaw the construction of the company's in-house wind tunnel, has been recently working in F1 with Williams and Asiatech.

4/4/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Imminent Debut For New McLaren
Jos Dismayed At Minardi Pace
McLaren The Team To Beat: Schu
Williams Unfurl Improved Racer
Imola Debut For All-New Ferrari
Performance Contract For BAR'S JV
Montoya Writes Schumacher Off
Rubens Happier With HANS
F1 Pleased With Electronic Delay
De La Rosa Joins Silver Ranks
Toyota Look For Brazilian Rewards
Schu Predicts Three-Horse Race
Kimi Eyes Victory Repeat
Schumacher Thanks Soccer Fans
Factory Visit For Renault Pilots
Massa: One Eye On The Future
Williams Quietly Confident
F1 Fends Off SARS Scare
Schu Prepared For Tough Season
Dream Come True For Jungle Boy
Kimi Dispels Victory Doubts
Schu Rejects Boredom Claims
Emotional Trulli Remembers Ayrton

4/3/03

NASCAR asked to not support Jackson  Peter Flaherty, President of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), today sent the following letter to William C. France, CEO of NASCAR: Because American troops are currently engaged in combat in Iraq, we ask that NASCAR cease and desist from further support for Jesse Jackson and/or his nonprofit organizations. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, you have stated that NASCAR fans are "the kind of people who go to war and win wars for America." Branches of the Armed Services and the National Guard maintain important NASCAR sponsorships. Race teams have demonstrated their support for the troops in a variety of ways. NASCAR's support for our troops is undercut by your support for Jackson, which includes substantial monetary contributions, at a time when Jackson is leading anti-war protests, even in foreign countries. Disturbingly, Jackson has employed extreme and provocative anti-American rhetoric. NASCAR was a "Platinum" sponsor of the 2002 Rainbow/PUSH and Citizenship Education Fund Annual Conference, reportedly paying $100,000 for the distinction. NASCAR's relationship with Jackson is detailed in a new report I authored and published by the Capital Research Center. See Organizational Trends, April 2003.  Jackson spoke at the January 18, Washington, DC anti-war rally organized by A.N.S.W.E.R., an alleged Marxist front group. At a March protest in London, Jackson reportedly stated, "Today is not about Saddam Hussein. Today is about Bush and Blair and the massacre they plan for Iraq." On March 18, Jackson told a rally that the United States would be guilty of "war crimes" if it attacked Iraq. After the military operation began, Jackson on March 27 proposed a "truce." Toyota has ended support for Jackson's groups in apparent response to my request that it do so, after a wave of negative media coverage last year. A DaimlerChysler executive touched off a firestorm of criticism in January for remarks critical of Jackson's critics that he made at Jesse Jackson's Wall Street Conference. DaimlerChysler has formally apologized to me. NLPC is a nonpartisan foundation that supports ethics and accountability in public life. In 2001, the group filed a still-pending Complaint with the Internal Revenue Service alleging that Jesse Jackson's largest nonprofit group violated of its tax status. Catchefence

4/3/03

Big media turnout at TMS  Due to no other major motorsports series was racing last weekend, a total of 930 media members representing 186 outlets from 23 states and three foreign countries -- The Netherlands, England and Germany -- wound up at Texas Motor Speedway for last weekends Winston Cup race - wow that's far more than the Indy 500.

4/3/03

Newman's car 40 Lbs too light  UPDATE It turned out that two radiator hose clamps broke on Newman's car during the race, and the radiator had run dry. Crew chief Matt Borland, who made the key two-tire call that ultimately helped Newman win the race, estimated his driver could have completed five more laps before blowing up the engine. After the team refilled the car with fluids and gas, it fell within the accepted range.  3/31/03 - The Sporting News reports that Ryan Newman's winning car at Texas was 40 pounds light during post-race inspection, and NASCAR officials couldn't figure out why. Turns out that two radiator hose clamps broke during the race, and the radiator had run dry. Crew chief Matt Borland estimated that Newman could have run five more laps at best. So, after the team put the fluids back into the #12 and filled it with gas, the car was within the accepted weight range.

4/3/03
Industry News

GM bullish on China  The head of General Motors' China operations yesterday predicted at least 10 per cent growth for the mainland car market in coming years, against 62 per cent last year, and said his company hoped to offer Chinese buyers financing packages within three months. Philip Murtaugh was speaking at the unveiling of the United States firm's Kunpeng "concept car" before it goes on public display at the Shanghai Auto Show starting on April 21.
"As long as the Chinese economy grows 7 to 8 per cent a year, China's car market will grow by 10 per cent a year for the foreseeable future," he said. For this year, Mr Murtaugh forecast overall growth of 15 per cent, with a 10 to 12 per cent expansion for the commercial vehicle market, adding that sales at GM's Shanghai joint venture would exceed those percentages in both sectors. "Of China's 1.3 billion people, 10 per cent will buy vehicles.  The level of car ownership is extremely low by world standards," he said. GM said it sold 264,101 vehicles in China last year, up 325 per cent from 2001, with a 7.7 per cent share of the national market compared with 5 per cent a year ago. Mr Murtaugh said GM would continue to invest in China and was in talks with many companies but declined to give specifics.

4/3/03
Industry News

Daly and Baker #1  Robert Prevost of the Arizona-based Racingschools.com (His company represents over 70 racing schools) told Chris Economacki that “tops” from a business perspective were Derek Daly’s Academy for Road Racing,and for the ovals, he cited the late Buck Baker’s school now being run by his widow as No. 1. His evaluations were based solely on number of students.

4/3/03

Road Atlanta ready for CART?  While seated next to Don Panoz at a Georgia dinner, he was asked his opinion by Chris Economacki on CART’s description of Road Atlanta as too fast and thus too dangerous for its series to visit. “When I remodeled Road Atlanta, it was to CART’s recommendations,” was his concise answer.  However, we have addressed the concerns of the last turn here on these pages.

4/3/03

IRL sweating Indy 500 entries  UPDATE Entries were received today for Helio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran, Greg Ray; and Buddy Rice bringing the total number of drivers to 26.  We expect additional drivers will run backup cars already filed to fill the 33 car field.  4/3/03 - Entry's for this years Indy 500 must be postmarked midnight April 2nd (last night).  As we understand it, they have not yet received entries for 33 car/drivers yet, but are hopeful a few more will trickle in as snail mail arrives over the next several days.  We are sure they will get 33 drivers to qualify, but if you recall, one of the reasons Tony George stated he was creating the IRL was because he wanted to be sure he always had 33 cars and drivers to fill the field.  We remember them getting near 100 entries before the CART/IRL split......such is progress.  As of April 2nd: only 23 drivers, and strangely no Penske drivers yet  Full List

4/3/03

CART weekly teleconference with Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais  This conference was abbreviated because the notice did not get out to journalist due to a server error.  Transcript

4/3/03

Budweiser to sponsor Dario  Budweiser announced today that it will serve as an associate sponsor of the entry driven by Dario Franchitti for the 2003 Indianapolis 500. Franchitti is entered to drive the No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone in the Memorial Day classic, scheduled for May 25, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Budweiser has a long, rich tradition in open-wheel racing, including two Indy 500 victories, and we’re excited about the opportunity to team up with driver Dario Franchitti and continue our relationship with team owner Michael Andretti for this year’s event,” said Tony Ponturo, vice president, global media and sports marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. “Dario is recognized as one of the top open-wheel racers in the world, and we look forward to supporting Andretti Green Racing as the team continues to be a force in the auto racing world.”

4/3/03

Camathias completes first oval test  Joel Camathias ran his first ever oval test here at the 1.5 mile Homestead Speedway. Recording 400 miles over the windy two days, Joel ran times consistently in the mid to high 28-second range. “The oval is quite different than what I am used to,” reflected the 22-year old Swiss driver. “I come here with very much respect for the walls and tried to improve slowly and understand the ovals, it is a completely different feeling what I know in road racing.” Camathias took to the oval very naturally running solid times in both days of testing. With three ovals on the 2003 calendar, this was an important test to get ready for the first of these races at Lausitz next month. “We have run a lot of rookies on ovals before,” commented team owner Dale Coyne. “Joel's test was very calculated and professional, his approach is methodical and smooth which will translate into a competitive effort when we get to Germany next month.” The team tried various aerodynamic modifications to fit the new rules for 2003. With the current body work freeze, one must be creative in finding ways to shed drag while keeping comfortable downforce in the car. The efforts of the engineering staff over the two-day test showed well against the others at the test. The team will now prepare for the next round at Long Beach, California before packing up and heading to Europe for Brands Hatch and the first oval of the year at Lausitz.  CART

4/3/03

Wind tunnel brings parity  A new hood panel and nose has been approved for Ford Mustangs competing in the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup. The new aerodynamic pieces were approved after an extensive wind-tunnel test at the Driveability Test Facility in Allen Park, Mich. The test was part of joint effort being undertaken by the Trans-Am Series technical staff, ACS Express Racing of Huntington Beach, Calif., Rocketsports Racing of Lansing, Mich., Ford Motor Co., and Livonia, Mich.-based Soenen Motorsports. The most recent test followed one undertaken earlier this year, which also tested the Jaguar XKR and Chevrolet Corvette. Trans-Am Series Technical Director David King was pleased with the results. “The test went very smoothly,” said King. “We were able to accomplish our goal—to bring the Mustang up in total downforce—and we’re pretty pleased with the numbers. The goal was to bring parity among the different marques, and we think that goal has been met. “We were able to get a lot of cooperation to test the Mustang,” added King. “Since ACS Express is a West Coast team, we wanted to accommodate those folks and found a way to complete the test without them bringing their staff and their car all the way back here a second time. So, we used a Soenen Motorsports Mustang. The personnel at Rocketsports Racing made the necessary changes to the nose prior to it being fitted to the car for testing.”

4/3/03

Public Board OK's Ganassi expansion  Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, which fields three NASCAR Winston Cup [#'s 40, 41, 42] teams out of Mooresville, N.C., received an economic incentive grant Tuesday to expand in town at an abandoned factory. Iredell County commissioners awarded the group $47,000 to $122,200 over three years for a $2.5 million investment in the county. The grant would help the race group buy and retrofit the former Matshushita Compressor Corp. of America building. The move would allow Chip Ganassi Racing to add another race team and create 65 to 75 jobs. Charlotte Observer

4/3/03

IRL video game news  A reader writes, Dear AR1, I thought you might find this kind of interesting. I noticed that the IRL will be releasing a new video game this summer. However, I noticed it is already out of date and it has not even been released yet! For example, Mi-Jack Conquest Racing with Laurent Redon is still in the game, Dan Whelden still drives for Panther Racing, and Airton Dare still drives the #14 A.J. Foyt entry. These are just a few of few of the things I noticed. This website has the full list of the cars in the game. Quite a few cars no longer exist. As a diehard CART fan, I can not help but laugh when I hear Tony George proclaim how much better the IRL is than CART, yet their new video game is obsolete before it is even released. Thank You, Nate Brunner  Dear Nate, one would think the IRL will have the game updated before it is released. Mark C.

4/3/03

Live TV for German 500 The German 500, the return of the Champ Car World Series at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, will be broadcast live on May 11th on German television networks ARD and ORB. The fifth round of the 18-race Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford schedule marks the return of America’s premier open-wheel series to the glittering Lausitzring after a successful inaugural race in 2001. Starting at 2:00 p.m., the Ostdeutscher Rundfunk Brandenburg (ORB) will carry live excerpts of the pre-race ceremony and the full length of the race. After the end of the DTM (German Touring Car) Series broadcast from Adria International Raceway, Italy, the regional network ARD will join in and plans to broadcast one hour of the race live. Prior to this, ARD will have live Champ Car cut-ins during its DTM coverage. Eurosport will broadcast the race throughout Europe, tape-delayed that same evening in prime time. In the USA, CBS will broadcast the first oval race of the 2003 season in live in its entirety at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, May 11. In total, the Champ Car World Series will be broadcast in nearly 150 countries and in 58 languages. On behalf of CART, Octagon CSI negotiated the transmission rights with SportA, the Sports Rights and Marketing Agency of the German television networks ARD and ZDF, and thus secures a national coverage in Germany. “We are very satisfied with the results of the negotiations. With CART racing we broaden our motor sport portfolio according to the interest of our audience.” ensures Hagen Bossdorf, Sports Controller of ARD. “We are highly delighted that we can present to the Champ Car fans this world-class motor sport highlight,” said Steffen Simon, the Sports Director of ORB. “Together with the ARD we shall present a motor sports afternoon that could hardly be more varied and innovative.” “Germany is an extremely important market for Champ Car’s growth, and I’m delighted that we are in a position to present the German 500 to Champ Car fans all over Germany and the world.” said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. The Champ Car World Series event at EuroSpeedway Lausitz will be the first of three high-speed oval races. Like in the premiere year of the German 500 in 2001, peak speeds of more than 220 mph will be achieved on the 2.023-mile super speedway, which is unique in Europe. “The live transmission of our race on ARD and ORB will contribute to conveying the extraordinary racing that we have seen at our facility, which is unique throughout Europe,” Hans-Joerg Fischer, CEO of EuroSpeedway Lausitz. “The combination of the Champ Cars and the EuroSpeedway should provide a fantastic event for our spectators both at the race and at home on ARD and ORB.”

4/3/03

Pedro de la Rosa signs with McLaren   Pedro de la Rosa has joined the McLaren Mercedes team as a test driver to assist David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen and Alexander Wurz with the development of the MP4-17D and the new MP4-18. The 32-year-old Spaniard has already taken part in two tests with the team. "As a consequence of the demands of our intensive test and development program we felt that it would be beneficial for the entire team to have an additional permanent driver resource," said McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh. "Pedro has substantial Formula 1 experience, and will therefore be able to maximize the extensive development program he will undertake for us during the season."

4/3/03
F3000

Pantano lands with Durango  Italian driver Giorgio Pantano is to be back in Formula 3000 this year after his plans to race in CART fell apart. Pantano will drive for the Durango team, which won races last year with Rodrigo Sperafico. Pantano will be joined in the team by fellow Italian Raffaele Gianmaria.

4/3/03

NASCAR examining Stewart's car  Impounding the Home Depot Chevrolet of Tony Stewart last weekend at TMS was a first for NASCAR, but officials have good reasons for wanting to take a closer look at the car. The slant of the rear window was three-quarters of an inch off allowable measurements, but the car fit all the templates. That put quite a scare into NASCAR inspectors, who couldn't believe the window could be that far out of line and still fit the new templates. It took an X-measurement with a tape measure across the window (a new measurement this season) to prove the violation. NASCAR officials want to determine if another template is needed. They also want to make sure teams haven't found other ways to get around the 32 template measurements. Raymond Fox, crew chief for the No. 38 M&Ms Ford of Elliott Sadler, said NASCAR's action got everyone's attention. "It opens up your eyes," Fox said. "You go back to the shop and say, 'OK, this is what happened last week. Let's not let it happen to us.' " Dallas Morning News.

4/3/03

Labonte wins safe move award  Terry Labonte received the Nationwide Safe Move of the Race Award for evasive action taken when Jimmy Spencer and Tony Stewart collided at Texas on Sunday. In order to avoid contact, Labonte drove off the track and went sliding through the infield grass. Nationwide will donate $1,000 to Speedway Children's Charities in Labonte's name during pre-race ceremonies at the May 25 Winston Cup event at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

4/3/03

Aero rules for Dega  The aerodynamic rules package that was used for the Daytona 500 remains in place for Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, the season's second restrictor-plate race. Those rules (for 2003 model cars): rear spoilers must by 6¼ inches tall and 57 inches wide; rear spoiler angles must be minimum of 55 degrees and maximum of 65 degrees; restrictor plate openings must be 7/8 inch. There is one slight modification: rear spoilers must have a minimum thickness of 3/16 inch. Also, the approximate 13.5-gallon fuel cell will again be used. Series Director John Darby said there are no reasons to alter the aero rules for this week's race. "Obviously, because of the inclement weather that shortened the Daytona 500 we didn't have a full opportunity to [assess that race]," Darby said. "But with the combination of the Budweiser Shootout and the Gatorade 125s we came away from Daytona confident enough in the rules to go to Talladega with no changes."

4/3/03

Concern for de Ferran's health  3rd UPDATE In this TSN.ca interview, de Ferran expresses hi concern for his multiple head injuries. 3/26/03 - 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.

4/3/03

Coca Cola and TMS promotion  Coca-Cola and Texas Motor Speedway will team up to promote IRL IndyCar Series racing through their newest twist-off campaign, “What Gets You Racing.” One of every eight consumers in North Texas can win anything from race tickets for the Chevy 500 on Oct. 15 at Texas to a grand prize of Texas Motor Speedway season tickets and pit passes. This promotion runs from April 1-June 30 in Dallas-Fort Worth and surrounding areas. [Editor's Note: 1 in every 8 consumers will win free tickets!  If they don't fill the grandstands with all those giveaways, they never will].

4/3/03

Witherill on TV  IRL Infiniti Pro Series driver Cory Witherill will be featured in a four-minute segment on the syndicated racing show “MotorWeek.” The show is scheduled to air on Speed Channel at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. (EDT) Thursday, April 3 and 8:30 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, April 8.

4/3/03

Wynonna to lead 500 Festival parade  Five-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist Wynonna Judd will lead the 2003 500 Festival Parade on May 24 as grand marshal, Festival officials announced. Wynonna first came into prominence as part of the legendary duo, The Judds, in 1984 and has since become one of the most celebrated success stories in music history. Her music is described as eclectic, drawing from country, rock, pop and folk. In her two-decade career, Wynonna has sold 30 million records worldwide and has won more than 60 industry awards. Her highly anticipated radio single, “What the World Needs,” will debut on country radio in late April, followed closely by her sixth solo album this summer. In addition to Wynonna and the 33 qualified drivers of the Indianapolis 500, the 500 Festival Parade will include such celebrity highlights as country singer Darryl Worley, Olympian Bode Miller, actor George Hamilton and NBC “Scrubs” star John McGinley. The 2-mile parade steps off at North Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Indianapolis, heads south on Pennsylvania to Washington Street, travels west on Washington to Meridian Street, and proceeds north on Meridian to 11th Street.

4/3/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Kimi Reflects On Maiden Triumph
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Rain Forecast For Brazilian GP
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Williams Still Aiming For Title
Kimi Even Faster In Brazil?
Jordan Considered Selling Team
Brazil: Another Tough F1 Challenge
Renault Aim For Stronger Showing
McLaren Not Counting On Victory
FIA Tobacco Row Heads To Court
Jordan Man To Miss Brazil Race
Back To School For Rated Roman
Rubens Looks Beyond '04 Contract
Jordan Unleash More V10 Power
Sauber Boys Make Special Visit
Jordan: Envy Of The Paddock
New Parts For Renault Assault
Little Respect For Schu's Skills

4/2/03

Stars to race in Fontana  The Snapon.com "Stars of Tomorrow" national karting series will come to an exciting conclusion on Oct. 31 - Nov. 2 when the newest link of Champ Car Ladder System completes its 2003 racing season in the "Stars Karting Championships" at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif.  In association with the Champ Car finale the same weekend, the "Stars Karting Championships" will be contested on the infield portion of the massive two-mile oval track and will be televised by the SPEED Channel.  All of the Stars of Tomorrow classes will compete on a specially prepared circuit designed on the infield tarmac of the Fontana racing facility.  While the Champ Cars conclude their 2003 season on the oval track, the karters will be wrapping up their nine event national trail with the three-day extravaganza that will produce some of North America's future auto racing stars.  The Stars classes - ICC, ICA, Rotex, 80cc Jr. Shifter, Yamaha Jr. Superbox and Cadet (ages 8-12) -- will be in action each of the three days with practice, qualifications and races.   With the addition of the Stars Karting Championships at California Speedway, the 2003 Stars of Tomorrow national schedule is complete with four Eastern Division races, four Western Division races and the finale on Oct. 31-Nov. 2.  "We welcome the Stars of Tomorrow to California Speedway for our Champ Car weekend," said Bill Miller, California Speedway president.  "Many of the stars competing in the Champ Car series got their start in karting and this will be a great opportunity to highlight some of the young talent as they develop the skills necessary to advance to the next level.  Our guests will enjoy the talent showcased in the high energy and very exciting world of karting."  With the Stars course constructed on the California Speedway infield, the majority of the spectators in the grandstands, suite areas and infield will be able to witness the karting action in addition to the oval track competition.  The infield spectators will be able to watch the Stars Karting Championships close-up in a very unique setting.  "Bringing the Stars Karting Championships to California Speedway is a tremendous boast for the series and karting in general," said Bobby Rahal, one of Stars series directors.  "To have our series conclude on one of the premier motor racing facilities in the world shows that karting has become recognized as a top racing attraction.  We want to thank Bill Miller and his staff at California Speedway for allowing us to showcase our drivers, teams and sponsors on such a big racing weekend for Champ Car."

4/2/03

NASCAR admits scoring snafu  NASCAR admitted it made a mistake at Texas Motor Speedway when Matt Kenseth was allowed to keep the race lead even though Jeff Gordon had passed him under a caution flag. "If we had to do that call over again, we would have done it differently," NASCAR president Mike Helton said Tuesday. Kenseth was leading midway through Sunday's race when the caution flag came out. As he approached the start-finish line, he slowed to let teammates Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton and Roush Racing-affiliated driver Ricky Rudd pass. Gordon, second at the time, did not want that to happen. So he sped and passed Kenseth to retake the lead before they crossed the line. NASCAR does not have a rule prohibiting drivers from racing back to the line under a caution, yet officials in the tower said Gordon could not pass Kenseth.  AP Story

4/2/03

Test times from Martinsville, Hyder gets shot at driving  Lap times from Tuesday's testing session at Martinsville:
Tony Raines - 20.30
Joe Nemechek - 20.50
Greg Biffle - 20.50
Steve Park - 20.52
Jack Sprague - 20.54
Ricky Craven - 20.65
Casey Mears - 20.60
David Hyder -- 20.70
Andy Petree - 20.77
Winston Cup qualifying record is 19.855 seconds, set by Tony Stewart in the fall of 2000.  David Hyder has been Kyle Petty's car chief for a couple of years. Tuesday morning, though, Hyder moved from outside the car to inside the car. Petty's team was set to test at Martinsville Speedway Tuesday and Wednesday, but the driver of the Georgia Pacific Dodge is still nursing sore ribs from a hard crash at Bristol International Raceway two weeks ago. When Petty went looking for a sub for testing, he never left his shop. He just asked Hyder to change uniforms for a couple of days to help the team to prepare for the Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, April 13. "Kyle asked me Saturday night at Texas if I would do this for him. It makes me feel really good they had the confidence in me and would ask me to do this," said Hyder. It's not like Petty threw a raw rookie into his Dodge, though. Although Hyder isn't a household name to race fans from coast-to-coast, Late Model Stock fans throughout Virginia and the Carolinas are familiar with him. The 35-year-old Hyder won 103 Late Model races in that area during the early and mid 1990s.

4/2/03

New infield care center for Martinsville  A state-of-the-art building that Martinsville Speedway officials hope to use on a very infrequent basis was unveiled this afternoon. With help from NASCAR Winston Cup driver Ricky Craven and officials of Memorial Hospital, Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell officially opened the doors to the track's new Infield Care Center. "We are very proud to have such a fine facility. We think the drivers and everyone who works down in the NASCAR trenches week after week deserve the finest, most modern emergency facilities possible," said Campbell. "We would hope we'd never have to use the Care Center, but we know we will, and when we do, we want to have the best we can possibly offer." The new 2,000-square-foot Infield Care Center, located in the first-and-second turn end of the infield, features a four-bed examination room; a two-bed trauma room; a waiting room; a family waiting room; a reception area; and a break room. The care center will be staffed and equipped by Memorial Hospital of Martinsville.

4/2/03

Champ cars must change UPDATE A reader responds - Despite the new F1 racing temporarily created by the chaotic qualifying procedure, CART's racing has been super with the removal of driver aids this year. F1 is headed that way next year and as F1 begins to cost contain with tobacco money in limbo, I'd suggest that two or three years down the line the two series will be moving together rather than CART solely moving to F1. I'd also like to see F1 cars increased in weight and size so more drivers the "size" of Paul Tracy might be able to drive. Right now you almost have to be a jockey to drive while NASCAR takes them in all sizes. John Costello, Los Alamitos, CA 4/2/03 -  It's becoming apparent that CART is going to have to change its entire package (chassis and engine) if it's going to become a proper training ground for F1 cars as Chris Pook has touted. AR1 maintains that the chassis should be the same size, but slightly heavier, and the engine needs to be identical.  Then lap times will be within 2 or 3 seconds of the F1 lap times, and CART and F1 will be linked at the hip.  This is what Cristiano da Matta had to say about the transition from the current Champ Cars to F1 - "The hardest thing in transitioning is definitely the car.  The driving style is completely different.  If you are quick in a Champ Car it does not mean you will be quick in a F1 car, or vice versa.  It's two different driving styles and the transition is difficult because you have to some things that in the back of your mind you think are wrong.  F1 is more like a go-kart style.  You're braking and turning in at the same time, and then you are on the throttle.  A turn is four phases instead of two.  The carbon brakes also take getting used to." 

4/2/03
Industry News

Goodyear completes refinancing  Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. completed the refinancing of its corporate debt yesterday, replacing mostly unsecured $2.94 billion in financing with $3.3 billion in secured credit lines. "These new agreements will provide Goodyear with additional financial flexibility and liquidity," says Robert J. Keegan, president and CEO. Goodyear, which missed the Monday deadline for releasing its fourth-quarter financial results, says it will report its results on Thursday and will notify the Securities and Exchange Commission about the delay.

4/2/03

The split over Ralf  BMW wants to keep Ralf Schumacher because he is German, but Williams is not happy with him.  A Williams source told The Sun: "At the moment Frank and Patrick do not feel Ralf is giving them value for money and told him so in no uncertain terms in the letter they sent him." "They know what Ralf is capable of and they are anxious for him to start performing at that level. They want him to pull his finger out and race at the front." Ralf does concede that he needs to make adjustments and work harder at certain aspects of the race weekends. "I know I must improve in qualifying because managing to get the best possible set-up of my car in a very short time has always been one of my strengths," he said. "It is important to qualify well because the new rules mean a lot can happen during the race and I cannot always rely on the chance of coming up through the field."

4/2/03

Velez loses battle with cancer  Former IMSA World Sports Car and Group C2 champion Fermin Velez died Monday in Barcelona, Spain, three days shy of his 44th birthday, following a battle with cancer. Among his career highlights were victories in the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1995 and 1997 and a 10th place in the 1997 Indianapolis 500. He was the FIA WSC C2 champion in 1987 and 1989 and IMSA World Sports Car champion in 1995 and 1997. Most recently, Velez won the championship title in the 2000 Spanish GTB Championship class. Velez contested 58 IMSA events from 1990 through 1998, amassing eleven wins, five in the Lights class, six in WSC. He posted sixteen runner-up finishes and seven third-place finishes for a total of 34 podium finishes. Velez was second overall in a Ferrari 333SP in the 1997 Daytona 24 Hours. In the Daytona 24 Hours classic, he was second in Lights in 1992 and third in Lights in 1993. Following his 1995 WSC championship Velez concentrated on the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500 in 1996. Driving Scandia Racing Lola T95-Cosworth Ford entries, Velez started 28th in the Indianapolis 500 but mechanical retirement placed him 21st. In 1997 Velez drove Scandia Racing Dallara-Oldsmobile entries in the IRL, contesting four events. He started 29th in the 1997 Indianapolis 500 but rose to tenth at the finish, only five laps down. Velez drove a Ferrari 333SP in the 1996 Le Mans 24 Hours but the car failed to finish. In 1998 he piloted the Doyle/Risi Ferrari 333SP in the Le Mans 24 Hours, finishing eighth overall and winning the LMP class. Velez burst onto the IMSA Camel GT scene with a victory in his first start, winning the Lights class in 1990 at Miami in a Buick-powered Spice shared with Tomas Lopez. Velez first gained notoriety by finishing fourth in points in the 1977 Spanish Formula SEAT series. He contested the British Formula 3 Championship series in 1978 and 1979, ranking 30th in 1978 points. Velez was the 1982 Spanish Hillclimb Touring Car Champion in a Simca Rallye. He ranked third in the 1984 Spanish Hillclimb Championship driving a Lola T292-BMW and won the 1985 Spanish Hillclimb championship in the Lola T292-BMW. He made his FIA Sports Car World Championship (SWC) debut in the 1986 Monza race in a John Fitzpatrick Racing Porsche 956, finishing tenth. Condolences to the family can be sent to Marnie Lincoln, c/o Road Atlanta, 5300 Winder Highway, Braselton, GA 30517.

4/2/03

Tom Anderson and Roger Yasukawa teleconference  The Indy Racing teleconference for this week, Tuesday, April 1 was with IndyCar Series driver Roger Yasukawa and managing director Tom Anderson. Transcript

4/2/03

SARS fears for IRL and F1  The IRL and F1 are traveling to Asia and Brazil this week and next.  Around 80 people have died of the SARS virus, mainly in Asia, which has to have the IRL community a bit concerned.  The news that Sao Paulo health authorities have found the first suspected case of the deadly SARS virus has sent panic through the Formula 1 world as well. The person in hospital in Sao Paulo is reported to be a 42-year female British Formula 1 journalist who arrived in Brazil on Monday. She was previously in Malaysia for the Grand Prix at Sepang.

4/2/03

Big Champ Car supplement  UPDATE The supplement will also be distributed with the May issue of Racer Magazine.  4/2/03 - The April 3rd issue of Autosport magazine will contain a large 68-page supplement for the 2003 Champ Car World Series as a build-up to the May 5th London Champ Car Trophy race at Brands Hatch, England. 

4/2/03

CART extends contract with Laguna Seca   UPDATE The official CART announcement - One of the most picturesque and most challenging of all race courses on the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford schedule will remain on the slate in upcoming years as the fabled Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Champ Car announced Tuesday that the two sides had signed a contract extension for the next two seasons. Part of the Champ Car scene since Teo Fabi won the inaugural series event in 1983, the 2.238-mile permanent road course that winds through the Monterey countryside has been a permanent fixture on the schedule – as well as the site of some of the most famous races in the 25-year history of the series. “We are delighted to be able to announce this extension with what is one of the finest permanent road courses in the United States,” said CART CEO and President Christopher R. Pook. “Our teams, drivers and more importantly, our fans, have made it clear that they enjoy having a number of natural terrain road courses on the schedule and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a key part of our strategy.” Today’s announcement extends the track’s sanctioning agreement with the Champ Car World Series for the next two years, ensuring that the race will take place in 2003 and 2004, and includes a series option to hold the race in 2005 and 2006. “This is great news for the fans of Champ Car racing and area businesses,” said track General Manager Gill Campbell. “The future looks good for the series. It is off to a great start this season with the competition between the new, young talent and the veteran drivers, and they drew big crowds in St. Petersburg and Monterrey, Mexico.”  3/29/03 - According to this Monterey Herald article, Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) will be racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at least another four years. Today, Laguna Seca general manager Gill Campbell is expected to make the formal announcement of the three-year extension.

4/2/03

FIA may sue EU  The FIA announced today that they are planning to take the European Commission to the European Court of Justice in a bid to prevent them bringing forward the plans to outlaw tobacco advertising, which is presently due to come into effect July 31, 2005, and restore the original date of October 1, 2006.  More.....

4/2/03

Walker Team completes oval test  Walker Racing rookies Rodolfo Lavin and Darren Manning successfully completed their first Champ Car oval test of the 2003 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway’s 1.5-mile short oval, primarily in preparation for next month’s German 500. The test was originally scheduled for two days, but gusting winds between 20 and 30 mph limited both drivers to less than 50 miles each on Monday. Tuesday’s breezy, warm conditions enabled the drivers to put in a full day’s testing, completing a combined 530 miles and posting times in the low 29 second range by the end of the day. “The purpose of this test was to evaluate the EuroSpeedway wing package,” said team owner Derrick Walker. “Although conditions were windy at Homestead, we managed to get a productive day of testing in and get a direction to go regarding the set-up for the unique rule change that we have this year, taking the Brands Hatch configuration straight to the oval at EuroSpeedway.” The test marks Lavin’s first Champ Car outing on an oval. Some of the 25-year-old Mexican’s best finishes in the Champ Car Ladder Series came on ovals, including his career-best second place Toyota Atlantic finish at Milwaukee last year. “We weren’t really able to run on Monday because it was too windy; the second day was very productive though,” Lavin said. “We put in a full day, running 275 miles. The car was great and the team worked well together to keep improving the car. Overall, I am very happy with my first Champ Car oval test.” Teammate Manning hopes to build on his oval success - a ninth place finish at the 2002 Rockingham event, his Champ Car debut - with the information the test garnered. The Briton won on the Lausitz ring last year while competing in ASCAR. “With this wing package, the car’s much different from the (Champ) car I had last year at Rockingham,” said Manning. “The car’s easier to drive, so I think the field is going to be really tight at Lausitz. We’ll be looking for hundredths and thousandths, not tenths, of a second to improve our times. Homestead is good preparation for Germany because the tracks are similar; there’s very little banking and the length of the straight and corners are comparable.”

4/2/03

Final Phoenix TV rating disappoints  The final ratings for the IRL race from Phoenix on March 23 are finally in, and they're not encouraging. The race on ABC pulled in a 0.9 rating and 2 share, down 25 percent from last year's 1.2 rating. It was the lowest-rated sports broadcast of the weekend. It couldn't outpace Arena League football on NBC (1.2), the NHL on ABC (1.2), or the GMAC NBA Shootaround on ABC (1.4). (Ratings from Sports Business Daily)

4/2/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Schumacher Backs FIA Delay
Schu And Bernie's Shoot-Out Disdain
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McLaren Ace In Deadly SARS Scare
Belgium Take GP Row To Europe
Schu Denies Firing Race Mechanic
Improved Interlagos Awaits Action
Alonso At Eye Of Media Storm
Jubilant Wilson Lands In Brazil
Racer Expects Third Ferrari Defeat
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EM.TV Blame F1 For Losses
BAR Search For More Speed
Nervous Champion Awaits Victory
BMW Want Schumacher To Stay
Rubens Set To Wow Home Crowd
Wilson Pushes Pain Barrier

4/2/03

FIA World Council to meet  The FIA World Motor Sport Council meets in Paris today but it's thought that the European Union's attitude towards tobacco sponsorship will be on the agenda.  The FIA has warned the Commissioner of the EU tobacco commission that teams are "legally bound to observe tobacco sponsorship contracts which do not expire until the end of 2006 and that the consequences of this will be the loss of more European F1 races.

4/2/03

SARS scare for Wurz  McLaren test driver Alexander Wurz spent 24 hours in a hospital undergoing tests for the deadly SARS pneumonia virus.  He was admitted to a Monaco hospital after returning home from Malaysia with flu-like symptoms.  After being quarantined for 24 hours, he was released after his blood tests came back negative for SARS.

4/2/03

More on Penske article  A reader writes, Dear AR1, Excellent hypothesizing by James Anderson-I loved every bit of it. I've been finding myself in deep thought at times of late wondering about the future of my beloved CART and F1 and I keep thinking about the same thing: What will a post-Bernie world be like? Even if the Bernie/Forsythe CART privatization and F1 tie-in do occur, we are talking about a guiding force in the form of a gentleman in his early 70's. I don't mean to sound morbid, as I certainly have an enormous amount of respect for Mr. Ecclestone, but what happens when the man decides to completely retire or-perish the thought-pass on? Is there another man on earth that could immediately assume the controls and pilot the F1/CART ship in such a manner? We are talking about a man-one man-that, so far, has been able to dictate what some of the largest corporations in the world-automotive (primarily) and tobacco-can do or can't do. Unfortunately, I can't help but think that the auto manufacturers will eventually rule out and gain control of F1. What happens to CART when (and if) this occurs is anybodies guess. As for the scenario of Penske taking the PM/Marlboro money back to CART, I doubt it. I think it is more likely that the Captain dictates the racing sponsorship policies to PM's decision-makers rather than vice versa. But nothing would make me happier than to be proved wrong on all aforementioned accounts!  Thanks for the chance to rant. Name withheld, Newport Beach, CA

4/2/03

Montoya talks about Brazil  Juan Pablo Montoya talks about Brazil in the leadup to this weekends Brazilian GP. 'I really like Rodizio, which is a informal cuisine based on coal-roasted skewered meat,' said the 27-year-old. 'They call it Churrasco in Brazil, but we have a different name for it in Colombia. Whatever you might call it ... I just love it!' The 27-year-old will be wearing a new style of crash helmet this weekend, designed by Colombian kids for the 'Échele cabeza al casco de Juan Pablo' (design Juan Pablo's helmet) competition. He'll show the competition winners around the Williams factory this weekend: 'I'll also have dinner with them,' Juan Pablo explains. 'After the Brazilian GP, the helmet will be auctioned for charity.' Montoya had a few things to say about the new one-shot qualifying format, which he deems has rendered the duel for pole position 'less significant' than in years before. 'It's a pity as I think the viewers don't yet understand the system and they don't get so excited as the fuel loads affects the performance so much that you cannot tell where everyone really is,' he says. 'I believe it is very important for the public to see who is really be the fastest of all and this format doesn't really help.' Jacques Villeneuve agrees that refueling should be allowed between qualifying and the race. But he admits that 'if it makes the race weekend more exciting and it means the fans will come back to F1, then that's cool.'

4/1/03

Barron to run G-Force in Japan  Marlboro Team Penske has entered a G-Force chassis in the Motegi race for driver Alex Barron who will be driving the #6 Marlboro Team Penske G-Force/Toyota for the injured Gil de Ferran. Castroneves will compete in the #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota. "Dallara has done a fantastic job for our organization over the past two years," said Tim Cindric, President, Penske Racing, Inc. "However, our philosophy has always been to continually evaluate our options to ensure we are racing the most competitive equipment available to achieve the best possible results for both our Team and our sponsors." "With Gil's accident in Phoenix, we were no longer in a position to take four Dallaras to Motegi since we had been preparing a G-Force for testing prior to Indianapolis," continued Cindric. "Fortunately, we were able to shake down the G-Force at Fontana with an eye toward using it as a primary car for Alex Barron in Motegi. Obviously, the experience that we gain in Japan will accelerate our evaluation process prior to Indianapolis. That said, we feel that both of our drivers are in an excellent position to win the IRL's first race in Motegi."

4/1/03

Meigs Field to be plowed under   UPDATE Here is a Chicago Tribune article on the same topic.   4/1/03 - if CART or ALMS was looking into racing at Meigs Field, it isn't going to happen now. That's not to say CART won't race in Chicago, it just won't race at Meigs Field as this article (You'll have to scroll down a bit to find it, it's called "The Destruction of Meigs Field") claims bulldozers have begun tearing up the runway. The article mentions a "park" to be put in it's place. Who knows, maybe CART or ALMS can still race there, it just might not be called Meigs Field. You'll have to scroll down a bit to find it, it's called "The Destruction of Meigs Field."

4/1/03

Nemechek wife fined  Joe Nemechek's wife was fined $25,000 Monday, and his Busch series crew chief suspended for two races by NASCAR, for a violation at Texas Motor Speedway. Andrea Nemechek was fined because she is listed as owner of the No. 87 Chevrolet her husband races in the series. Following Saturday's race at Texas, which Nemechek won, the car failed inspection because of an illegal left front spring. Crew chief Eric Phillips was fined $5,000, and will miss this week's race at Talladega Superspeedway and the event April 12 at Nashville Superspeedway. He also is suspended from participating in any other NASCAR events through April 16.

4/1/03

Barber Dodge Pro Series fuel deal   The Barber Dodge Pro Series announced an agreement with VP Racing Fuels today, naming VP Racing Fuels as the Official Fuel of the Barber Dodge Pro Series. VP Racing Fuels, based in San Antonio, Texas, will become the exclusive provider of race fuels for all races and testing sessions for the Barber Dodge Pro Series. VP Racing Fuels works with a variety of sanctioning bodies in several forms of racing, and has its eye on the future with its participation with the Pro Series. "VP Racing Fuels is excited to enter into this relationship with the Barber Dodge Pro Series," said Bruce Hendel, Global Sales Manager for VP. "We are interested in building awareness of our products and loyalty from the racers on their way up the ladder through Barber Dodge and we recognize the loyal fan base that follows Barber Dodge. There is an excellent opportunity available to us by partnering with one of the premier development series in the country."

4/1/03

CART burning through cash at alarming rate   According to this Autoweek article, CART released its 2002 annual report, and the sanctioning body is eating up cash. Unless CART, the company, can perform a reversal of fortune-or an angel arrives-it could run out of dough. The 2002 figures: Expenses rose $3.2 million from $78.7 million in the previous year to $81.9 million; meanwhile, revenues were down $13 million, from $70 million to $57 million. CART's once mighty corporate war chest from its 1998 public offering is $86 million; last year that number was as high as $120 million. That figure falls as CEO Pook shovels cash into the sanctioning body's hoped-for revival. From the $86 million, Pook will spend $30 million in '03 in "Team Assistance Payments." This helps to maintain a minimum 18-car grid. According to CART's annual report, Newman-Haas receives $2 million, Pat Patrick $1.4 million and Derrick Walker a whopping $5.9 million. These monies are in addition to the roughly $1 million per car distributed through the Entrant Support Program (ESP) Pook implemented. Pook told AutoWeek CART will be left with "$50 Million, maybe less," at the end of the year. Pook said he's spending money to make money. "While we faced challenges on many fronts, the strides we made in implementing adjustments to CART's business structure are designed to create a stable foundation and support the series' future growth," he said. "We have in place a much leaner, talented management team to execute our strategic growth plan." Said Dennis McAlpine of McAlpine Associates LLC, "Based on the annual report, it appears that the company's cash burn rate is much greater than was projected, or anyone anticipated."

4/1/03

ALMS announces marketing agreement   The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) has announced that it has entered into a sponsorship sales agreement with Performance 1 Enterprises, LLC. Performance 1, headquartered in Concord, N.C., is one of the premier motor sports marketing and merchandise companies within the motor sports industry. As part of this new alliance, Performance 1 will be soliciting corporate sponsors for participation within the American Le Mans Series in several categories including series title sponsorship, contingency sponsors and official status partners. “Performance 1 has a proven track record of raising sponsorship dollars in the motor sports arena and we believe that the American Le Mans Series can benefit from that experience to assist us in obtaining corporate partners,” said Mike Clark, Vice-President of Sales & Marketing for the ALMS. “I met the principals of Performance 1 last year at several American Le Mans Series races and found them to be very knowledgeable about sports car racing,” said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the ALMS. “When we sat down with them to negotiate a marketing partnership agreement they were very specific in how they would proceed in assisting us in growing the series.”

4/1/03
Industry News

USA motorsports technology center  The Hampton Motorsports Technology Alliance, a new partnership between public bodies and private companies, has been formed to establish the city of Hampton, VA, as the 'Motorsports Technology Capital of North America'. The initial partners are the city's Department of Economic Development, the Peninsula Alliance for Economic Development, NASA Langley Research Center and the Langley Full Scale Tunnel. The HMTA will promote the region's expertise and technology assets to the motorsport and high-performance automotive industries.  Autosport.com

4/1/03

Latest F1 Hot News items

Panis Defends Fuelling Bans
Wilson Makes Rapid Recovery
McNish On HANS' Problems
Michelin: Our Tires, Not New Rules
Williams Working Hard On FW25
Schu Eyes Return To F1 Throne
Ralf Affected By Media Assault
200 Candles For Jordan Grand Prix
Wilson Blames Lack Of Money, Testing
Tough To Win, Admits Schumacher
Heidfeld Gets McLaren Chance
Head Confident For Brazil Race
Frentzen, Trulli, Alonso Gear Up
Renault Focused On Friday Plan
Toyota Expects In Brazil
Strategy Unknown For Brazil Race
Montoya Eyes Brazilian Cuisine
Brazilian Build-Up News Shorts
Manager Defends Schu Brothers
Renault Still Ahead Of Game?

4/1/03

Fisher can't find funds  According to this Indianapolis Business Journal article, With the Indy Racing League season hitting full speed, the IRL's most popular driver the last two seasons is still without sponsorship. Despite efforts by marketing brass from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IRL and General Motors Corp., Sarah Fisher has yet to land a long-term sponsorship to put her on track.

4/1/03

NASCAR Sponsor summit postponed NASCAR says concerns stemming from the war with Iraq have led it to postpone a sponsor summit that was scheduled to start yesterday and run through Wednesday in Naples, FL, according to today's Sports Business Daily. NASCAR had expected about 175 attendees for the event, which the sanctioning body now hopes to hold in the fall. Winston Cup Scene

4/1/03

Texas TV ratings down Sports Business Daily reports that Sunday's Winston Cup broadcast from Texas turned in overnights of a 5.8 rating and 12 share. We'd like to point out that there is no direct comparison to last year because the race was delayed until Monday and aired on FX. The 2001 race had a final rating of 7.0 on FOX and the 2000 contest had a 6.0 on CBS. According to Sports Business Daily, this year's 5.8 was good enough for a 3rd-place tie in the sports ratings with the Kentucky-Marquette game. The top spot was filled with the 7.3 rating for Texas vs. Michigan State, which benefited from a 5:00 p.m. ET start time. The #2 slot was filled by the Arizona-Kansas game (6.8), which had the advantage of a 7:00 p.m. start.  MotorsportsTV.com

3/31/03

Is anything being down about the Monterrey track?   Have you heard anything about why Monterrey's "complex" still hasn't been modified, or better yet, removed all together? For the last two years, I thought it would be altered by the time of the next year's race, but so far ... nothing. This series of turns is the absolute epitome of the description, "Mickey Mouse," and for me, it ruins the entire track, which could otherwise be pretty interesting, and much faster. They've already got the kink to the left to slow down the cars (just 60 mph through there), and if the rest of the chicane was eliminated, I think you'd have another great passing opportunity at the next 90 degree left, to go with the only other one at the Turn 5 (I believe) hairpin. I guess it has something to do with lack of runoff, but, on TV, it seemed like there was a wide grass verge through there (as an aside, noted almost complete lack of gravel anywhere ... simply to allow the cars to get back on track, or something to do with park regulations?). Anyway, watching this on TV just really bugged me. I think any turn where you have to literally jump the curbs just to be able to even make the turn at all is completely ridiculous (this isn't rallying), and seeing cars come puttering along through a series of corners at 40 mph ... why would any new fans be excited in the least by that? Just hoped AR1 had heard something to excite me about the future of this course, and cause me to tune back in next year ...Thanks, David Ray, Atlanta  Dear David, We proposed two needed changes to the track the very first day we saw it three years ago, one of which is identical to what you propose.  The claim from the guy who designed the track is that it will be too fast for the run-off area available.  Of course they can construct some deep soft walls and pave the run-off areas, i.e. do what it takes to convert the track from being Mickey Mouse, but CART prefers parades.  Mark C.

3/31/03

De Ferran won't retire  Gil DeFerran was on a media teleconference today and put to rest rumors of retirement. He will continue to recover from yet another concussion and return for the Indianapolis 500 in May.  "The day when I’m no longer as good as I was yesterday, or not as good as anyone else out there, that’s the day I’ll consider thinking about my driving future," de Ferran said.  The incident at PIR was de Ferran’s second serious crash – and third concussion - in six months. Last September, de Ferran sustained a concussion and a hairline fracture of his left wrist in a crash during a race at Chicagoland Speedway. He sat out the season finale at Texas Motor Speedway, costing him a shot at the Indy Racing League championship.  "This may sound arrogant, but I still don’t believe that you can set this guy or that guy in the car and he can go faster than I can, so I’ll keep going," de Ferran said. "Maybe someday I won’t be as good as I was the year before. If I ever think that way, then I should think about retiring. But not at this point. I’m focusing on trying to recover."  "The thing I liked the least with this one was the head injury," de Ferran said. "It really bothered me this time. I’m certainly in some pain, but it’s receding."  "The way I look at my career, it’s not about setting historical marks," de Ferran said. "It’s not about winning the most races. Racing has always been a selfish pleasure for me. It’s about enjoying your own performances."

3/31/03

Wheldon gets valuable seat time  Andretti Green Racing driver Dan Wheldon completed 214 trouble-free miles in private testing March 28 at Kentucky Speedway, getting valuable seat time and acquiring data for the team. Wheldon will attempt to qualify for the 87th Indianapolis 500 as part of a four-car AGR effort and then will take over the rest of the season for team co-owner Michael Andretti, who will retire after the “500.” Wheldon, who will drive the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, will compete at the 1.5-mile Kentucky oval Aug. 17 in the Belterra Casino Indy 300 along with his AGR teammates Tony Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, and Dario Franchitti, driver of the No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone. It will be the first race at Kentucky Speedway for the team and all three drivers, although Wheldon has tested there with Panther Racing. “While we were in Kentucky as part of our ongoing testing program with Honda, we were also focused on providing Dan with a chance to get back into a race car prior to the month of May,” AGR co-owner Kim Green said. “Dan’s last time in the race car was at California Speedway for Test in the West in February, and we knew that it was important for him to get back on board and put in some good laps before we get to Indy. He did a good job, and I’m sure it was as helpful to him as it was for us.”  IRL

3/31/03
Industry News

TMS to debut new safety light system, drivers give it thumbs down  UPDATE The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the warning-light system that Texas Motor Speedway imbedded in its asphalt to warn drivers of cautions failed its first test Sunday. Some drivers said the lights are impossible to see in bright sunlight. "With a cloud cover, you can see them, but I didn't even know they were on today," rookie Jamie McMurray said. "For the Indy Racing League guys, especially at night, I hope it works for them. I think at night with those guys doing 230 mph around here, I think I'd want it to look like a runway out there," Jeff Gordon said. "During the day . . . I hope they didn't spend a lot on it. I never even saw them."  3/25/03 - 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.

3/31/03

Gibbs and Helton get in heated argument  Garage sources overheard a heated discussion early Sunday between NASCAR president Mike Helton and team owner Joe Gibbs, who lost Tony Stewart's primary car during Friday inspection at Texas because it did not fit the "X" measurement from the corners of the rear deck up to the corners of the roof.  More....

3/31/03

Andretti & Gordon likely to miss Indy 500  John Andretti and Robby Gordon said this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway that time is quickly running out on hopes of pulling double duty May 25, racing in both the Indy 500 in the day and the Coca-Cola 600 in Concord, N.C., that night.

3/31/03

Newman's car 40 Lbs too light  The Sporting News reports that Ryan Newman's winning car at Texas was 40 pounds light during post-race inspection, and NASCAR officials couldn't figure out why. Turns out that two radiator hose clamps broke during the race, and the radiator had run dry. Crew chief Matt Borland estimated that Newman could have run five more laps at best. So, after the team put the fluids back into the #12 and filled it with gas, the car was within the accepted weight range.

3/31/03

Sato signs contract with Castrol  Takuma Sato has signed a personal sponsorship deal with Castrol for the 2003 season. The deal is with Castrol Japan and Sato will appear in advertising and promotional campaigns in Japan endorsing Castrol products.

3/31/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Team-Orders May Return: Rubens
Fake Tickets At Sepang
Ferrari Drivers Approve Car Delay
Irvine Raises Head For Safety
Jaguar: Problems Solved
Montoya Gunning For Glory
Webber Asks For Patience
Renault 'In The Running'
Ralf Knows He Must Improve
Firman Buoyed For Brazil Adventure
Williams Close The Gap In Brazil
Frentzen: Button It, Jenson
Rubens Applauds 'Right Decision'
Resolute Schu Swears Revenge
Rubens Finds HANS Solution
Battle For Britain's Grand Prix
Wilson Will Race, Says Source
Better Prepared In Brazil
Rubens: Not Afraid Of Michael

3/31/03

Jaguar fixes fuel problem  Despite the fact that Jaguar Racing has undertaken no track testing between Malaysia and Brazil, both Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia visited the team’s Milton Keynes HQ immediately after the Malaysian Grand Prix. They spent the day in discussions with management, analyzing data with their respective engineers and addressing the 300-strong workforce. “We suffered a difficult and tough weekend in Malaysia with a fuel pick-up problem on both cars," explained David Pitchforth - Managing Director. "The extra fuel that we carried all weekend penalized our true pace but nonetheless, our individual sector times speak for themselves. Mark, for example, was a tenth off Michael Schumacher’s sector two time during qualifying and even though Mark suffered a 30-second delay during his first pit-stop because of a clutch issue, he pushed the Jaguar R4 back to a points-scoring eighth place before we decided to retire him. At the time, he was running a few tenths off the pace and given our strategy, he would have finished anywhere between 5th and 8th place. The brake problem on Antonio’s car was very surprising considering the amount of testing that we had carried out over winter. Nonetheless, we have undertaken a re-design on the component concerned and we’ll see how it fairs during Friday testing at Interlagos. Michelin continue to impress and we seem to be extracting the best out of the tire. The Malaysian compounds were extremely well-received by both drivers and Brazil should pose no big problems for Michelin.” “The season began with a home race for Mark and this time, it’s Antonio’s turn. There will inevitably be extra pressure on Antonio going into his home event and considering how well he knows Interlagos, he can take full advantage of the set-up time available to him as opposed to using valuable time on familiarization mileage. Both drivers visited the factory this week and their enthusiasm and commitment was well-received by the workforce – most of whom have not stopped working since the R4 hit the test track. This business is renowned for the punishing pressures it places on individuals and the regular visits of both drivers to the factory is very important. Mark and Antonio are clearly team players in every respect of the word and I know they are very anxious to reward our hard-working factory – something we know we are capable of achieving once we’ve dialed-out the gremlins that have robbed us of points in the first two races of the season.”

3/31/03

Earnhardt has eye on title  Dale Earnhardt Jr. just couldn’t manage a smile after finished second to Ryan Newman in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. “What, am I pulling a Mark Martin on you,” quizzed Earnhardt when asked why he refuses to smile after a second place finish. “I feel very fortunate to get second, but when you make six or seven pit stops and make every adjustment on the car you can make and it still doesn’t work you get frustrated.” There is a bigger reason Earnhardt refuses to be pleased with a second place finish, a much bigger reason. “I want the championship,” said the middle son of 7-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr. “I want what we missed last year.” Christian Fittipaldi filled in for Kyle Petty in both Saturday practice sessions and the race on Sunday. Petty, still very sore from his wreck at Bristol Motor Speedway, gave hints that he may also sit out next week’s race at the Talladega Superspeedway. A new UPS logo failed to break Dale Jarrett’s string of bad luck, but it wasn’t all bad. Jarrett was involved in two wrecks during the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 but still managed to finish 13th, the last car on the lead lap. Jarrett climbed five spots from 20th to 15th in the point standings but trails Matt Kenseth by 338 points, a huge amount despite having run only seven of 36 events. The issue between Coca Cola and Pepsi is making for some interesting sightings in the Winston Cup arena. One of Sunday’s top three finishers came to the interview room with an unlabeled bottle with a drink that looked very much like Gatorade, a Pepsi product. What makes that interesting is this driver is a member of the Coca Cola family of drivers. For the driver’s the issue gets just as sticky when some well-meaning individual hands them a bottle of the “wrong” water. Jeff Gordon, tied to Pepsi, turns down the water offered to him at SMI tracks because it just happens to carry the Dasani label, a Coca Cola product. Parity among the manufacturers is starting to show up in all sorts of categories. Each of the four manufacturers lost an engine during the Samsung/Radio Shack 500. Each manufacturer also had a car involved in wrecks on the racetrack. Oh, and each manufacturer had a car finish in the top-five. The only statistic lacking parity is the number of starters – Dodge (14) leads the pack , Chevrolet is second with 13, Ford third with 11 and Pontiac trails the pack with five.   Stan Creekmore, NASCAR Editor

3/31/03

NASCAR points finger of blame at Gordon  The Samsung/Radio Shack 500 was not without controversy, or was it misunderstanding. Elliott Sadler ran hard into the inside wall on lap 168 to bring out the fifth caution of the afternoon. As the field ran back to the start/finish line the leader of the race, Matt Kenseth slowed down in an effort to allow both Ricky Rudd and Kurt Busch to get back on the lead lap. Jeff Gordon, running second to Kenseth decided he wanted to keep those two down a lap and passed Kenseth before reaching the line, making himself the leader of the race. Then Gordon surrendered the lead back to Kenseth as the two paced the field behind the pace car. After the race Gordon questioned why Rudd and Busch were allowed to get their laps back, since they had passed Kenseth, but not did not get by his car before taking the yellow flag. Jim Hunter, NASCAR Vice President of Communications, stated after the race it was Gordon who gave Rudd and Busch their laps back when he decided to drop back into second behind Kenseth. “Had he stayed in front of Kenseth he would have remained the leader,” said Hunter. “We weren’t going to move him (Gordon) back. He went back on his own because there is a gentleman’s agreement that exist that drivers on the lead lap don’t race each other back to the caution.” Gordon, unaware of NASCAR’s position suggested in the post race interview that it was NASCAR that had controlled the outcome of the incident. “Someone is going to have to explain that one to me. I didn’t think there was any reason to let those guys have a lap back,” said Gordon. If NASCAR taking the position Gordon was the one that let two of his competitors back on the lead lap, maybe he can come up with an explanation of why he broke a gentleman’s agreement.   Stan Creekmore, NASCAR Editor

3/30/03

Feedback on CART/Ecclestone article   A reader writes, Dear AR1, with regard to Mark Cipolloni's article about what Bernie Brings to CART, I wonder if your comments in the Bernie story about 'cash infusion' relative to Tony George is related to Penske's recent announcement of his resignation from the ISC board (see Jim Anderson's article). If TG is forced to try to grow the IRL which seems devoid of fan/spectator interest and is potentially losing the F1 race, I wonder if he would consider a partner in running, promoting or owning the Speedway. I think that Roger Penske thinks the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hallowed ground and that if he saw or sensed an opportunity to get involved he would remove any conflicts of interest in a heartbeat. I wonder if Penske sees some writing on the wall for the IRL who can't get people in the seats even if they're giving them away. Even though the IRL is trouncing CART in the ratings game, I think that's more a reflection of their TV package than a measure of fan interest in the IRL. Those who say that the CART attendance figures are inflated may be correct, but there are still many many more people attending CART races than IRL events. And there's no dispute that the CART races at Long Beach, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Surfers Paradise and Mexico City are huge. I also believe that Roger made a big effort for unification from the CART side. Maybe now, working from the other (IRL) side and with the new CART management there's hope. I don't think that the new CART management is looking for anything from the IRL side, but I also believe that they are good businessmen and that a sound proposal would get a fair hearing. In any case, as with all things, time will tell.

3/30/03

Cialis update   An update on Cialis, the Eli Lilly drug Newman Haas is hoping to land as a sponsor once the drug is approved by the FDA - this article talks about the expectation that Cialis will be approved later this year.

3/30/03

IRL dragging Copper World Classic down  This ESPN.RPM article says For years, the Copper World Classic at Phoenix hosted USAC midgets, sprints, Silver Crown and supermodifieds and drew crowds of over 30,000. But, since it was thrown into the IRL weekend, it's lost two of its divisions (sprints and supers) plus it's luster -- not to mention much of the crowd. "It's a damn shame what's happened to this event," said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. "It used to be a big deal for these guys and it was a great way to kick off their season. Now it's a non-event that has no presence but maybe we can do something about that next year." Davis wants to get a couple major sponsors and either reinstate the Copper World to its original February date as a stand alone weekend or move it to another track.

3/30/03

Rubens take note  This Indy Star article about Gil's de Ferran's recent crash and injuries underscores how much the HANS Device works well.  Fellow Brazilian Ruben Barrichello should take note, get his HANS fitted right and stop crying like a baby.

3/30/03

Turkey eyes 2005 F1 race UPDATE - Turkey is believed to be closer to announcing a deal to host a Grand Prix at a completely new circuit near Istanbul. The new facility will be close to the new Pendik-Kurtkoy Airport, on the eastern side of Istanbul. The Sabiha Goksen Airport is built on 1600 acre site close to the main highway from Istanbul and within easy reach of the city and Istanbul's population of 15m should mean that big crowds will be attracted to the event. The logic behind the location is similar to that in Malaysia as there will no issues with noise. The only major flaw in the project is that the track will be in one of the most earthquake-prone regions.  11/21/03 - Turkey has moved one step closer to landing a round of the Formula One World Championship.  The nation's motorsports federation issued a statement this week in which it claims that F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone has selected Istanbul for a Grand Prix in 2005 and beyond.  72-year-old Ecclestone toured Turkey and three potential Formula One sites earlier this year; Istanbul, Izmir and Antalya.  Turkey's motorsports federation, TOMSFED, say that Bernie has chosen Istanbul for its logistics and global stature and will now push ahead with penning a commercial agreement.  'Now we need to finalize the commercial issues and the TV rights,' TOMSFED quoted Ecclestone as saying in a letter. TOMSFED has acquired some land on Istanbul's eastern front, close to the city's newly-completed second airport, and said it expected a track designer to visit within a week to start plans for a Grand Prix style circuit.  Ecclestone was quoted as saying: 'Not only is it a major city known throughout the world, but what swayed me was the logistics for the teams.' Turkish anti-smoking lobbies, however, stand opposed to the plan to bring Formula One to the country. Rumblings inside the country suggest that F1 might compel Turkey to exempt its sport from a total ban on cigarette advertising.  German circuit designer Hermann Tilke, most recently responsible for Malaysia's Sepang facility and the new Bahrain and China projects, will reportedly add Turkey to his imminent plans.  2005 is being tipped as an inaugural date for the Grand Prix of Turkey. 'We sincerely believe that this organization, which will provide a great opportunity for our country, will also benefit tourism and sports in Turkey,' the TOMSFED statement continued.  China (Shanghai) and Bahrain (Sakhir) will be added to the 2004 Formula One schedule to make up an 18-strong Grand Prix calendar.  But, even despite Spa-Francorchamps' removal from next year's championship, one or two more existing European races could face the chop to make way for F1's new wave of international tracks.

3/30/03

Revised Williams revealed  Williams will unveil a raft of aerodynamic, mechanical, engine and tire components for its FW25 racer at next weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix. Having successfully tested and evaluated the substantial development revisions during Spanish testing this week, Chief Engineer Sam Michael confirms that 'many of these parts will be taken to the next race in Brazil.' The Australian added, 'It was a good test from a reliability point of view and we covered a lot of miles.'

3/30/03
Industry News

DOY voting online   Racing fans will get the opportunity to participate in the balloting for the most prestigious award in motorsports, Speed Channel Presents the DRIVER OF THE YEAR for the first quarter 2003, by going online. Leading drivers from the major North American auto racing series like Brandon Bernstein (NHRA), Kurt Busch (NASCAR), Matt Kenseth (NASCAR), Tony Kanaan (Indy Racing League), Danny Lasoski (IROC & World of Outlaws), Paul Tracy (Champ Car), and Michael Waltrip (NASCAR) are among the drivers nominated for the voting. In its 37th year the DRIVER OF THE YEAR's award for this quarter will be determined by a vote of the 18-member panel of blue ribbon auto racing journalists and broadcasters and one vote based on the cumulative tally of fans voting at www.speedtv.com. "We want to give fans an opportunity to evaluate and reward excellence not limited to points standings in any one series," said DRIVER OF THE YEAR, president, Barry Schmoyer, adding "and there is no better place to do that than the website for the sports network, SPEED Channel, that covers all forms of auto racing." The top six vote-getters from the Speedtv.com online voting will also be included on a single final ballot along with the top six overall from the 18 media panel members. The winner will be determined based on the results of this final ballot to be voted on by the Panel on April 16, 2003. At the end of the year a final vote will be held for the 2003 DRIVER OF THE YEAR. "The quarterly vote took on added importance last year when it was used as the first tie-breaker in the history of the award," Schmoyer explained. The winner of the first quarter voting will be given a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix Swiss Watch, the official watch of the DRIVER OF THE YEAR, to commemorate the honor.

3/30/03

Joe Gibbs apologizes  According this NASCAR.com article, Joe Gibbs said on Saturday that his team was embarrassed after NASCAR impounded Tony Stewart's Chevrolet, and vowed to find out what had occurred. NASCAR took the car -- which had not been raced as a Chevrolet Monte Carlo -- on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway after it failed inspection. "I want to apologize to NASCAR," Gibbs said. "This is our fault. We are trying to go back and see what happened. This thing is our fault, and there's no excuse." Stewart's Chevrolet failed the "X measurement" test, a measurement from the corners of the decklid up to the corners of the roof. "I am not sure what happened, but we are going to find out," Gibbs said. "We kind of embarrassed ourselves here."

3/30/03

Gordon takes out ad for Indy 500  The Buzz recently spotted an advertisement in Sports Business Journal in which Robby Gordon is looking for primary and associate sponsorship for the May 25 classic. In it, Gordon touts the unique challenges of running two races totaling 1,100 miles on the same day -- and the advantages of sponsoring his effort. "Imagine the impact" is the headline of the ad, which hopefully is not an omen for Gordon, who has traditionally done well at Indianapolis. Gordon is planning to complete the Memorial Day weekend double again this year, running at the Brickyard in the morning, then flying to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway that night. There's no price tag listed, but prospective sponsors will certainly need a hefty pocketbook. A typical IRL car and engine runs a minimum of $400,000 out of the box, not including spare parts, tires, fuel and a crew. NASCAR.com Buzz

3/30/03

If Villeneuve stays in F1.....  If Jacques Villeneuve stays in F1, he will have to work based on performance.  After five years of disappointing results with BAR, future contracts for the 1997 Formula One champion will likely be built on performance bonuses, his manager Craig Pollock told the Canadian Press. ``It will be performance based,'' Pollock said in a telephone interview from Toronto, where he was on a business trip. ``I don't think he's overpaid,'' said Pollock. ``He took a huge risk to help develop a new team. ``The car today is excellent, but if there's a reliability problem, it's not the driver's fault. It's the team. The next risk is to have a far lower base salary, but be paid on performance.'' Villeneuve's reputation as a top driver has taken a hit, but Pollock said F1 teams ``know how good he is'' and will want him as their driver. But Pollock added there was only a ``slight chance'' that BAR will want Villeneuve back. Villeneuve and BAR's new team boss, David Richards, have openly feuded since Pollock was let go in December, 2001, although Pollock remains a shareholder in the team. ``To me, Jacques has something to finish in Formula One,'' Pollock said. ``He has quite a few years left.''

3/30/03
British F3

British F3 to run Rockingham oval  The British F3 series will run on the Rockingham England oval this year if tests on the tires and cars prove they can take the stress of high-speed oval racing.

3/30/03

Dyson decides to withdraw from 24 Hours of LeMans  With an aim toward achieving success in the American Le Mans Series and further developing its MG-Lola machines, the Dyson Racing team has decided to withdraw its entry for this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. Dyson Racing to Focus Attention Solely on American Le Mans Series in 2003. The team, which recently won the LMP675 division at the 12 Hours of Sebring, had submitted an entry for one of its lightweight MG-Lola EX257s for the French enduro. Following the Sebring round, where the team suffered from a series of reliability issues, team principal Rob Dyson made the choice to forego a run at La Sarthe in favor of a comprehensive test and development program in the three month gap before the next ALMS race. "It's a very difficult decision for us," Dyson remarked. "I had really been hoping we could do the race this year. It's the greatest endurance race in the world. That said, we recognize that the cars are fast enough but we need some more development and reliability testing. If we went to Le Mans, we would essentially sacrifice two months of valuable test time which we can't really afford. We've made some huge strides in just seven months, but at the moment the cars just aren't right yet. We're working out a test schedule now so we can make some valuable improvements in time for the rest of the championship." Rob Dyson was quick to add that he fully intends to participate in next year's Le Mans event. "We've informed the A.C.O. that we are withdrawing our entry for this year, but we told them we're planning on being there in 2004." The Dyson team remains committed to the American Le Mans Series championship and to its plans of running two MG-Lolas at each series round this year. The series resumes at Road Atlanta on June 29.

3/29/03

CART road racers top IRL point standings  It's interesting to note that of the top 10 drivers in IRL points standings, all of who one would call (CART road racers). the possible exceptions being Scott Sharp (even though he ran for Foyt in CART in the early 90's) and Felipe Giaffone (even though he raced CART Indy Lights, that's still not champ cars).  Where is the road to Indy for the open wheel short track drivers?  Answer, it certainly is NOT through the IRL!
1 Tony Kanaan
2 Helio Castroneves
3 Scott Dixon
4 Gil de Ferran
5 Felipe Giaffone
6 Scott Sharp
7 Kenny Brack
8 Al Unser Jr.
9 Michael Andretti
10 Dario Franchitti

3/29/03

Schumacher lowers lap record at Fiorano again  Saturday was a working day at the Fiorano track. Luca Badoer and Michael Schumacher alternated running on the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro private test track, on this the fifth and final day of testing of the week. The Italian test driver worked on electronics testing at the wheel of an F2002, covering a total of 20 laps: his best time was 58”818. Then, it was Schumacher’s turn to drive, concentrating on the development of the F2003-GA. Michael did a total of 90 laps with a best time of 56”338. During a break, the world champion looked back at the first two races of the season and tackled the criticism that followed them. “When you make mistakes, you cannot expect to be praised,” commented Schumacher. “The criticism is not hard to cope with, especially as I think there will be races on tracks which will suit us better and where we will have the upper hand.” Michael also had an opinion on the other teams. Asked if McLaren’s performance had surprised him, he said: “No, we had predicted they would do well over the winter and that is pretty much how things turned out. It is hard to assess the Renault performance: they were undoubtedly competitive in Malaysia, but how much of that was down to the characteristics of the track and the conditions there, I cannot say. Williams, the losers in this early part of the season? At the moment, one can say they are not the winners, but they could have been in Australia. I am sure they know what they have to do and the laps times over the last few days in Barcelona have proved it.”

3/29/03

Fittipaldi to sub for Petty  #45-Kyle Petty got through practice and qualifying Friday, but likely won't get back behind the wheel again at Texas Motor Speedway before Sunday's race. After hitting a wall at Bristol last week, Petty needed help getting out of his car and was placed on a stretcher. He was treated and released from the hospital, but is still hurting. "Kyle is pretty sore," said Steve Lane, crew chief of the #45 Georgia Pacific Dodge. "As for the race, I'm going to let him make the call. We're going to let Christian Fittipaldi practice the car Saturday." Petty qualified 28th at Texas. If Petty is unable to finish Sunday, Fittipaldi - a former Formula One and CART driver - would take over. ThatsRacin.com/AP

3/29/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

'Jungle Boy' Heads Home
Looking Forward To Brazil
Ferrari Send F2003 Home
Iraq War Provokes Tire Back-Up
Ralf Still Heads Damp Test
Williams Unveil Revised Racer
FIA U-Turn Over Electronic Bans
Bobbi Ready For F1 Action
Antonio On HANS: OK With Me

3/29/03

CART extends contract with Laguna Seca   According to this Monterey Herald article, Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) will be racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at least another four years. Today, Laguna Seca general manager Gill Campbell is expected to make the formal announcement of the three-year extension.

3/28/03
Industry News

Honda bullish on South Korea   Will Honda be happy if CART races in South Korea as rumored?  Honda Motor Co. will begin selling four vehicles in Korea this year, becoming the second Japanese automaker to try to crack the market dominated by Hyundai Motor Co. Honda has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday, March 25, in Seoul to outline its plans, but an executive speaking not for attribution says the company will launch with the Accord and Civic sedans, the CR-V small SUV and the Odyssey minivan. Honda has set an initial sales target of about 3,000 annually through three or four dealerships, he says. Toyota sold 2,900 cars in Korea in 2002, its first year in the market.  Autoweek.com

3/28/03

Tony Stewart's car impounded  NASCAR's defending champion Tony Stewart had his car impounded today by NASCAR in Texas because it failed to meet the NASCAR body templates.  He is now using his backup car.  Full story to follow.

3/28/03

SAFER Wall update  NASCAR's Jim Hunter also said Thursday that NASCAR officials continue to wait on analysis on the most recent SAFER barrier test this month before deciding to approve the energy-absorbing barrier. The barrier is not expected to be ready for Richmond International Raceway's races in early May. Hunter said that it's "more likely than Richmond" that the barrier could be used when the series races at New Hampshire International Speedway in July. Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin died in separate accidents at that track in 2000. Hunter also said that he doesn't expect any rule changes for next weekend's race at Talladega Superspeedway, the first restrictor-plate race since the season-opening Daytona 500. Roanoke Times

3/28/03

RCR remembers POW's  All five cars fielded by Richard Childress Racing (RCR) will carry decals recognizing the plight of United States prisoners of war in Iraq during this weekend's NASCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway. "The men and women captured by the Iraqis are serving our country in the most honorable way possible," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing Enterprises, Inc. "They have put their lives on the line in the name of our country so we all have to keep them in our thoughts and prayers and hope that they will be returned safely."

3/28/03
F3000

F3000 testing update  from Jerez  The ARDEN International team was satisfied they obtained as much information as was possible from the three days of testing at the Jerez circuit in Southern Spain. Townsend Bell and Bjorn Wirdheim were separated by 3/1000th of a second in second and third place, with the Swedish winner of the Imola F3000 race in 2002 edging the Californian for second place. J. Janis in the ISR – Charouz Czech team was fastest after furious last minute tire changing which placed Janis on the track for his quick lap seconds before rain ended improvements by anyone…Townsend was on a new set of tires for a last minute attempt to be fastest but on his out lap the rain returned to end his challenge… On the first day of the testing Townsend was fastest….The second day was totally run in the rain with ARDEN curtailing the test to Thursday morning only, which saw Townsend finish 8th quickest. Then on a dry track today until very late in the day Tbell finished 3rd overall, just pipped by his teammate for second fastest. Townsend said the team got to test most of what it wanted but not all. Simply ran out of time. The next test in two weeks at Barcelona will provide the opportunity to sort out the things missed this week…..The team tested springs, shocks, sway bar, and wing angles among the long list of things they hoped to accomplish. There were things that Townsend wanted to try especially the tire characteristics on the narrow track racecar (compared to the ChampCar he raced last year). Christian Horner, the ARDEN team boss was satisfied the team accomplished all it could and pleased that his two drivers were at the top of the time charts. “We were able to test in the rain which will help us later in the year – it could be rainy at Imola – and we did test the bits & pieces we expected to”. Only 11 cars tested at Jerez. The Red Bull Coloni team tested in Italy, the Astro team was at Spa. American Derek Hill in his best ride in F3000 with the Super Nova team was 5th quickest after the 3 day test. Derek is the son of Phil Hill the first American F1 champion in 1961.  The times for the Jerez F3000 test are as follows:
J. Janis ISR – Charouz 1:32.959
B. Wirdheim ARDEN 1:33.223
T. Bell ARDEN 1:33.226
Y. Schroeder ISR – Charouz 1:33.282
D. Hill Super Nova 1:33.320
G. Pantano Durango 1:33.343
E. Toccacello Super Nova 1:33.539
R. Gianmaria Durango 1:33.570
N. Kiesa Den Bla Avis 1:33.996
G. Mazzacane BCN 1:35.379
M. Costa BCN 1:37.595

3/28/03

Barrichello happier with new HANS   He should have done this in the off-season, but Rubens Barrichello has tested the new HANS which uses a double belt system and incorporates the drivers safety harness, aiming at providing more padding, thus making it more comfortable. Coulthard has been using the device since the beginning of the season, and all being well, Barrichello will follow suit at his home grand prix in Brazil. ”It seems good, better than the old system,” he told Autosport.  ”I'd like to try it on a long run to make a final decision, though.”

3/28/03

Grand Prix of Windsor  The Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow announced that the karting series will be a part of the 45th annual Bell International Freedom Festival, a 14-day event attended by more than 1.5 million people, in a Thursday media conference on the Canadian border city. The Dodge Freedom Grand Prix of Windsor, featuring all of the Stars karting classes on June 27-29 in the Windsor streets, will be billed as a specialty event on the Stars calendar, not paying points towards the season championship. There will be a $10,000 purse for the race. The 2003 Bell International Freedom Festival will run from June 23 to July 6. In Windsor Thursday, Matt Beasley, president of the Board of Directors for the 45th Bell International Freedom Festival (IFF) released the 2003 festival dates and schedule of events including the Stars of Tomorrow three-day racing activity. For the past 44 years, millions of Canadian and American families have celebrated their unique friendship during the International Freedom Festival. "We were looking for a new attraction that has the high-energy, charged atmosphere that appeals to a youthful audience," Beasley said Thursday. "Kart racing with the Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow gives that kind of highly visual, exciting presentation." Beasley said they expect 30,000 spectators per day for a cumulative crowd of 90,000 for the race weekend. The event will be kicked off with the biggest fireworks show in North America on Wednesday the 25th, where one million people are expected to watch from both Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan. "We are honored to be invited to participate in the International Freedom Festival," said Bobby Rahal, Stars president. "This race has the potential to be the biggest karting event in North America for this year and years to come. Stars looks forward to building a fantastic event for those that will attend and participate." "There's a new face to the International Freedom Festival this year, just like there's a new face to the Windsor skyline with the addition of the DaimlerChrysler Canada Building," said John MacDonald, Dodge Brand Manager, DaimlerChrysler Canada said. "We're really excited about the Dodge Freedom Grand Prix of Windsor and we invite everyone to join us for the activities, or to simply say hi to Bobby Rahal and the Stars of Tomorrow teams." The Champ Car 'Stars of Tomorrow' karting series is the official first level in CART's driver development system and an officially sanctioned series of WKA/SCCA Pro Racing. Founded by racing star Bryan Herta and now owned in conjunction with a group of racing veterans, including three-time CART champion and Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, the Stars of Tomorrow serves as the first step for the CART driver development ladder. Stars focuses on recognizing the skills of the drivers rather than the technology development within the machines, using FIA/CIK International standards. More information can be found at www.cartstars.com.

3/28/03
Nissan World
Series/F3000

Racing Engineering announces 2003 lineup  Racing Engineering announced today that Stephane Sarrazin and Bas Leinders will be its drivers for the World Series by Nissan 2003. With Stephane Sarrazin and Bas Leinders, Racing Engineering’s goals are very high. Not only does Racing Engineering want to defend the team championship but also win the drivers championship. With these two excellent drivers it definitely has the drivers to achieve these goals.

3/28/03
Industry News

Octagon Management change Andrew Waller has been appointed managing director of the financially troubled Octagon Motorsports UK - replacing interim chief Michael Browning.  Waller, who joined the separately-run division of marketing giant Octagon in December, was previously group sales and marketing director. Browning remains as a consultant to the division, and will oversee the implementation of the multi-million dollar improvements to Silverstone - home of the Formula One Grand Prix. Waller has over twenty-five years experience in sales and marketing and was previously managing director for the Walt Disney Travel Company UK where he was responsible for driving new business and launching Disney’s outbound tour operation to support Walt Disney World in Florida.  Waller has also held a number of senior sales and marketing positions with a number of large, ‘blue-chip’ companies including British Airways, Norwegian Cruise Line and Hertz UK

3/28/03

Michigan selling pit passes  Although NASCAR has implemented a new policy regarding the garage area, pit access at MIS has remained the same. "Making pre-race pit passes available to our customers has become a tradition at MIS," said MIS Director of Ticketing John Moreland. "W're pleased to be able to continue offering our fans this unique opportunity to see the their favorite cars and drivers up close." Pre-race pit passes are available for all three weekends at MIS and give fans a opportunity to get up close with their favorite NASCAR and Indy Racing League drivers. Pre-race pit passes for both NASCAR Winston Cup weekends, the June 13-15, Sirius 400 and the August 15-17, Michigan 400, are available for just $50. Additionally, pre-race pit passes for the July 25-27, Michigan Indy 400 IRL IndyCar Series weekend are available for just $25. A daily admission ticket is required along with the pre-race pit pass to access the pit area. Reserved seats remain for the Sirius 400, Michigan Indy 400 and Michigan 400 event weekends, as do exclusive fan hospitality packages. Fan hospitality packages include the best available seating for MIS events as well as catered meals, guest speakers, souvenirs and entertainment. For pre-race pit passes, tickets and fan hospitality ordering information call the MIS ticket hotline at (800) 354-1010 or visit www.MISpeedway.com. MIS

3/28/03

Driver aids to stay until 2004   The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a note sent to all teams today that driver aids will stay until 2004, instead of banning them in July. Electronic launch control, traction control and fully-automatic gearboxes were due to be banned from the British Grand Prix on July 20 with the FIA planning to introduce their own sensors to rule out cheating. "The technical devices which will ensure the absence of driver aids require substantial investment," the FIA statement said. "The FIA is reluctant to commit the necessary resources until actual or threatened arbitration proceedings have been resolved. "Accordingly the full enforcement of the long-established ban on in-car driver aids will be delayed until the first race of the 2004 season," continued the FIA. "If current uncertainties have not been resolved before the deadline for ordering the technical devices for 2004, competing teams will be required to demonstrate the absence of driver aids to the satisfaction of the stewards at each event of the 2004 and subsequent championships." After a successful 2002 season, where Racing Engineering not only won the World Series team championship but also the Spanish Formula 3 team championship, it is very determined to defend its titles and win the drivers championship in both categories.

3/28/03

I would go to a road race before a street race   A reader writes, Dear AR1, As you'll see in the attached photo from RA 2002, the track needs some help. It's just begging to be widened and could use some help with the grandstands. My back was out-of-whack for a few days after tromping over those behemoth stones and boy-scout seating areas. RA just needs to step into the the 21st century. track and grounds updates, better crowds, and better promotion is what this race needs. Last year was my first time.  Loved it and hate that it might never return to that race schedule. what a loss for CART, RA, but more importantly, fans. We drove around 8 hrs. to see that race from Iowa. Give me a break about "metros". I'd go to a road coarse (be it CART or IRL sanctioned) any time before I'd attend a street race. Just some thoughts.... Paul Richards, Iowa

3/28/03

Supermodel gets training in flag waving   Supermodel Gisele Bundchen is being offered special training on how to correctly wave the checkered flag at the Brazilian Grand Prix next month. Organizers want the curvaceous catwalker to do better than last year's flag waver, soccer legend Pele, who missed the winner crossing the finish line. Local papers report that Bundchen would be given "intensive training" by race director Carlos Montagner. Bundchen's mouthpiece says she's mulling the offer.

3/28/03

Newman Haas uses Australian technology   When Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais hit the track for the next Champ car race in Mexico, a little bit of Australian technology will make sure they stays there. Newman-Haas has purchased Noskecomp's Component Lifing software to track the condition of all the parts on their race cars. Due to the chassis freeze implemented by CART, this is the first season in a long time that the team has not started the year with all new equipment. Tracking life of their parts has suddenly become far more important than it has previously. The Component Lifing system was developed with help from Australia's leading V8 Supercar teams including the Holden Racing Team and is only one of three commercially available Motorsport lifing systems in the world. The software is currently used by 10 teams in the V8 series and now is gaining interest off-shore. "With the help of HRT, we've been able to produce a system that is both easy to use and very powerful." says Noskecomp Managing Director Tim Noske. "This along with our ability to quickly customize the software for clients has put us in high regard in motorsport engineering circles in Australia and hopefully gaining Newman-Haas will give us some credibility in the US." Newman-Haas is the second US-based client this year. Orbit Racing, the Florida-based ALMS Porsche GT team was Noskecomp's first. That team most recently ran Kyle Petty at the Daytona 24 hours in February. The team was the only competitor to have both of their cars finish the grueling classic. NCL

3/28/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

New McLaren Eyes Track Debut
Problem Solved, Says Toyota
Rubens Tries 'Quick' New Ferrari
Flying Ralf Tops Spanish Test
Bernie Stamps Out Qualifying
Williams Makes Plea For British GP
Belgium Loses Final GP Battle
Shades Of Senna In Fernando Alonso
DC Still Worried With Reliability
Jordan Upbeat After Chinese Coup
Rumor Follows Lauda To Malaysia
Alesi Still Moved By F1
Renault Don't Mind The Insults
No Application From New F1 Team

3/28/03

Feedback on Bernie rumors   A reader writes, Dear AR1, with regard to Mark Cipolloni's latest article on what Bernie brings to CART, I don't think it can be underestimated how much the end of tobacco money in F1 is also behind Bernie's interest in CART. How else do you think that Bernie was able to grow F1 and make himself billions without the US market. Who else had the hundreds of millions to lavish on Bernie's circus on an annual basis. Why else would F1 race in places like Hungary and Malaysia, aside from the kings ransom they pay Bernie, it's not because of the BMW's and Jaguars they buy. Without tobacco's deep pockets, Bernie is left with only the manufacturers. And Unlike tobacco, the manufacturers expect to see a tangible return on their investment. And there is no F1 without the fat profits that the auto makers make in the US (Renault excepted). Mercedes makes 25% of it's money in the US, BMW 33%, and for Honda/Toyota the percentages are as high as 80%. A Bernie/CART combo would give the manufacturers the market exposure they will demand, and keep Bernie in castles for another 30 lifetimes. Joshua Weiss, Chicago IL  Dear Joshua, I agree as pointed out in one of my 2002 articles, CART, Like the Phoenix, about to rise from the ashes Mark C.

  Much More...click on 2002 archives button below
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