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DATE

News (chronologically)

4/17/03

Mosley meets with teams   FIA president Max Mosley has confirmed at Imola that grand prix racing's revised rules and procedures will continue unchanged, with just minor modifications to those governing the use of the spare car. Mosley said: “There is agreement with all teams to continue with the procedures we have adopted at the beginning of the season and to continue with rules adopted last October. The only minor changes are that as far as the spare car is concerned, teams can use two cars in the various practice sessions but those used in Saturday qualifying have to be raced unless the team takes the spare car and starts from the pit lane. “If there is an engine change (as McLaren and BAR were permitted in Brazil without penalty), the relevant car will start from the back of the grid,” Mosley said. This avoids any controversy over whether or not the engine change was actually necessary.

4/17/03

Players team tests at Portland and Homestead  With a short break in the Champ Car World Series schedule before races in England and Germany early next month, Team Player’s drivers Patrick Carpentier and Paul Tracy used testing sessions in Homestead and Portland this week for some fine-tuning and preparatory work for future races. Carpentier ran close to 300 laps during his two-day session that concluded Thursday on the 1.5-mile Homestead oval. He put in the laps using the same aerodynamics package front and rear wings and undertray - that, under Champ Car regulations, will be in effect for both of the European races on the road course in Brands Hatch, England and the super speedway at Eurospeedway in Lausitz, Germany. “We were the only ones using the Homestead track and the testing that we did was, in some respects, almost like wind-tunnel testing, so that we could see how the aerodynamics package reacted to certain situations,” said Carpentier. “The testing went really well, although the Homestead track isn’t an exact simulation of the one in Germany, which has longer straights and tighter corners.” Carpentier expects that the aerodynamics package used on the Lausitz super speedway will lead to “pack” racing, much like it was on the Michigan super speedway, a venue where Carpentier earned the first Champ Car victory of his career, in 2001. “It’s going to be really exciting for the fans,” he added. “And it’s going to be very interesting on the road course in Brands Hatch because we’ll be using an new minimum pit-under-green format and single-car qualifying, like we would on an oval.” Tracy, who shared the Portland road course with 10 other Champ cars about half of the Champ Car World Series field encountered some rainy conditions at times. But he still managed to put in productive laps that will enable Team Player’s to prepare for such road-course events as Portland and Laguna Seca that occur later in the season, as well as some fine-tuning for England and Germany. “We had a great first day,” remarked Tracy. “There were only some sprinkles of rain. We ran into some problems on the second day and we weren’t able to run as many laps as we wanted to, so that’s disappointing. But, it puts us in good shape for the races in Europe and for the one in Portland later in the season.”

4/17/03

Walker Racing rookies rack up test miles  Walker Racing teammates Rodolfo Lavin and Darren Manning continued to collect valuable testing miles this week, completing a two-day test, Tuesday and Wednesday, at Portland International Raceway’s 1.969-mile permanent road course. Mexican rookie Lavin battled a gearbox problem through the first day of testing, but posted a respectable time of 59.3 seconds, within a second of pace-setter Michel Jourdain’s fastest lap. “We struggled with the gearbox on Tuesday; it was difficult to down shift, but the Corona crew changed the gearbox overnight and the car was much better for Wednesday,” Lavin said. “The Champ Car has so much more speed going into Turn 1 than you have in an Atlantic car; it takes a few laps to get use to it. I’m getting much more comfortable in the car and communication with the team continues to improve the more time we have together.” Manning’s two-day test had mixed results. The Briton was getting up to speed, posting a time of 59.4 seconds, before a couple of mid-afternoon incidents cut his second day of testing short. “I had one small incident this afternoon where I ran a bit wide getting onto the grass and tagged the tire barrier,” Manning explained. “Later, I got into a bit of slide, caught the tip of the wall and ended up coming across the track and slamming the wall there as well. Not a good way to end the day.   “Rodolfo had a good test and we were able to try a number of basic set-up changes on both cars. Unfortunately, with the accident, I didn’t have time to really try for more speed. It was good that we had the two days here though. I got plenty of laps around the track, so it will be one of the few circuits that I’ll have run on before turning up for the race weekend.” While rain had threatened the test earlier in the week, the weather held as the duo combined to complete 560 miles over the two days. “We didn’t quite get through everything that we’d planned to,” said team owner Derrick Walker, “but with two rookies any testing mileage is important. The Portland facility provides a good permanent road course test and hopefully we’ve learned a few things that will help us on this particular discipline in the coming races.”

4/17/03

Infiniti Pro Series test rained out  The inaugural IRL Infiniti Pro Series Freedom 100 Open Test scheduled for April 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was postponed by IRL officials due to rain. The test will now take place on April 18. The Freedom 100 will mark the first time in IMS history that another automobile race will share the famed 2.5-mile oval with the Indianapolis 500 during the month of May. The 40-lap race will see the green flag at 2 p.m. local time on Saturday, May 17.

4/17/03

Cioci to drive for Schmidt  European Formula 3000 veteran Marco Cioci will drive the No.6 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry in the inaugural IRL Infiniti Pro Series Freedom 100 May 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Cioci, from Rome, will test with the team during the Infiniti Pro Series Open Test April 18 at IMS. “This is just fantastic,” said Cioci, 27. “My dream is to race in America and in the Indianapolis 500. This is the next step toward that dream. When I did my IRL test in December, I just knew I wanted to come back to America to race. I’m really excited and ready to get in the car with the great team of Sam Schmidt.” Cioci passed the speed phase of his Indy Racing League rookie test with Sam Schmidt Motorsports last December at Texas Motor Speedway, with a top speed of 216.08 mph. “Marco was certainly impressive in his IRL rookie test,” said Schmidt. “I’m happy we were able to put this deal together, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him test with the other guys. He has worked hard to put this program together for this historic race, and he’ll be a great addition to round out our three-car entry.”

4/17/03

Jeff Gordon & Juan Montoya to swap cars   Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced April 17 that four-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon and 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner and Formula One superstar Juan Pablo Montoya will participate in speed demonstration laps in their cars on Wednesday, June 11 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon and Montoya will trade places at the Speedway when they take turns driving laps around the 2.606-mile road course in Gordon’s DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Montoya’s BMW WilliamsF1 BMW FW25 car. This will be the first time that Gordon and Montoya will be behind the wheel of a Formula One car and NASCAR Winston Cup car, respectively. “The Indianapolis Motor Speedway staff is excited to play host to such an event,” said Joie Chitwood, senior V.P. of IMS Business Affairs. “Jeff and Juan are race car drivers who love to drive cars – fast. So it’s going to be fun to watch them experiment in different cars on the road course.” Gordon will attempt to win his fourth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, Aug. 3 at the Speedway. He has competed in 12 events on the Speedway oval: nine NASCAR Winston Cup races and three IROC events. The demonstration laps will be his first laps on the IMS road course. “There are a lot of things to coordinate to make this happen,” said Gordon. “I’m just excited about this opportunity. It’s something I’ve dreamed of, just getting behind the wheel of an F1 car and seeing what it was like. I don’t plan on going F1 racing, but I would love to just get that experience.” Montoya, who won the 2000 Indianapolis 500, will attempt to become the first driver in Speedway history to win on both the famed 2.5-mile oval and road course when he competes in the fourth United States Grand Prix on Sept. 28. He is in his third season with BMW WilliamsF1 and has one career win, ten career poles and is sixth in the 2003 FIA Driver’s Championship. “The experience will be very interesting, and driving a big, heavy NASCAR car will certainly be different,” said Montoya. “I don’t think Jeff should be concerned that I will take away his job, but I will enjoy the opportunity of driving his Chevrolet and letting him take my BMW WilliamsF1 Team car for a drive on Indy’s road course.” In addition to the demonstration laps, Montoya and Gordon will participate in a media luncheon and press conference. Fans will have free access to IMS’ South Terrace grandstands for viewing.

4/17/03

CART stock watch 

MPH closed at $3.95 Up $0.33 on Volume of 102,600 shares.
$3.28 Bid - $4.27 Ask on close.
Session Low/High $3.61/$4.13
Activity in MPH picked up just before noon and culminated in a flurry of activity in the last hour that pushed MPH to it’s session high of $4.13 p/shr..
10,000 shares transfer at 3:54PM EDST
12,200 shares transfer at 10:40AM EDST
MPH Value Change Up 9.12%
DOW Jones Up 80.4 or 0.97% on Volume of 1.7 billion shares.
NASDAQ Up 30.78 or 2.21%
S&P 500 Up 13.67 or 1.55%
A Happy & Safe Easter Weekend To All.
Courtesy of C3I.AndersonGroupe – Chicago
www.andersongroupe.com

4/17/03

Final Martinsville TV ratings get bump up   The viewers in the smaller markets turned out in a big way to give NASCAR on FOX from Martinsville a big boost. Nielsen Media Research reports that the final numbers were a 5.3 rating and 14 share, up from a 4.6 rating and 10 share in the overnights. The race was the second-highest rated sporting event of the weekend, finishing behind the 8.3 rating turned in by The Masters on Sunday. The golf tournament from Augusta declined from a 9.3 overnight rating.  The NASCAR numbers represent 5,631,000 households and almost 8 million viewers. Last year's race was on FX, so a direct comparison can't be made. It finished with a 4.5 cable rating (within the April 2002 FX universe) and 3.4 million households. The 2001 race on FOX finished with a 5.4 rating and 15 share, slightly ahead of this year's numbers.  MotorsportsTV.com

4/17/03

JML Teams signs F3000 driver  JML Team Panoz has signed Belgian Formula 3000 ace David Saelens to drive the Panoz LMP-01 in for the remainder of this year's American Le Mans Series as well as the Le Mans 24 Hour. Saelens tested the Panoz LMP-01 at Road Atlanta recently and will join forces with Swiss, Benjamin Leuenberger; and Canadian, Scott Maxwell in the #12 Panoz at Le Mans. This #11 Panoz will be piloted at Le Mans by American, Gunnar Jeannette; Monegasque, Olivier Beretta; and Italian Max Papis. The six international stars will be on hand for the forthcoming Le Mans Preliminary test day scheduled for May 4. Saelens is eagerly awaiting the chance to race the Panoz after spending 2002 doing selected Formula 3000 races and acting as test driver for the Minardi Formula 1 team. "I am really excited about this opportunity because it is another world opening for me to race in the United States for the first time," Saelens said. "It was a great experience to drive the Panoz for the first time. I was really surprised with how comfortable the car felt - it really gives you a lot of confidence. "It is obviously very different from an F3000 or F1 car, but it wasn't anywhere near as difficult as what I expected."

4/17/03

PIR Challenges Champ Cars  This Portland Oregonian article says, Paul Tracy accelerated hard out of the pits, the back of his Champ Car twitching under the force of nearly 800 horsepower trying to find traction on cold.  Shift. Twitch. Shift. Twitch. Shift. Twitch. Then he was hard on the brakes for the Festival Curves, the quick right-left-right series of corners that is Portland International Raceway's signature. "This is tough work," Tracy said. "The track is physically demanding."  More....

4/17/03
Industry News

A change is in the air  This Orlando Sentinel article says, Motor racing's own sort of Berlin Wall will come down on Easter Sunday. The end of long-dominant tobacco sponsorship in racing worldwide will begin, symbolically at least, with the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, Italy. From there, sea change will go global. The major American-based leagues -- NASCAR, CART and the IRL -- are off for the holiday. But they're just as sure to be swept up, in time, as Formula One.  More.....

4/17/03

Final IRL TV ratings from Motegi plunge  The final numbers for the IRL race from Japan on ABC show a 0.7 rating and and 2 share, representing 782,000 households. For some reason, Nielsen has the final 16 minutes of coverage rated separately, and those 16 minutes show a 0.5 rating.  For a network TV rating, compared to previous years, this is disastrous for the IRL and its sponsors. CART had around 1.5 ratings on CBS last year, so we expect their "network" TV ratings will be at least as high as the IRL is.   It's clear the idea of creating the IRL and splitting Indy Car racing has pretty much killed open wheel racing in the USA.  Who's brilliant idea was it anyway?  Mark C.

4/17/03

Papis tests Winston Cup car   Sports car and open-wheel racer Max Papis tested the No. 91 Dodge Intrepid research and development NASCAR Winston Cup car for Evernham Motorsports today at Kentucky Speedway. “It was a very good experience being in a Winston Cup car. It is different than anything I have driven in the past,” said Italian Max Papis. “The car is a lot lighter than I thought and has a different feeling with the downforce. I enjoyed every lap.” “Mad Max” did about 82 laps around the 1.5-mile tri-oval Kentucky Speedway. His quickest time was 31.1 seconds, with the fastest of the day being a 30.6, just five-tenths of a second off of Bill Elliott’s time. Of course, it was just a test and Max spent most of the day getting a feel for the Dodge and getting acquainted with Winston Cup oval racing. Max not only had to familiarize himself with the car and the circuit, but he also had to test on a circuit with some seasoned pros like Elliott, Jimmy Spencer, Ricky Craven and Johnny Benson. There were eight to ten NASCAR Winston Cup cars testing at Kentucky today. The capable Sammy Johns, Test Team and Research & Development Coordinator oversaw Papis’ test for Evernham Motorsports.  “Max did a great job for his first time in one of these big, heavy cars,” said Johns. “This is a far different car than what Max is used to driving. It’s very heavy and doesn’t stop the same. Max has some definite potential and made some headway today. He got close to or over-met my expectations. I helped him with how to get on and off the racetrack, which lane to use and to make sure he wasn’t in the way of the other cars testing. He got along real well with the other drivers and they seemed to respond well to him. I’ve been doing a lot of driver development lately and found Max a pleasure to work with.” “Sammy really helped coach me along,” added Papis. “He talked to me throughout the test and made me feel comfortable in the car, on the track and with the other cars. I really want to thank him for all he added to my experience. Also, I really enjoyed getting some advice from Bill Elliott. It was a great honor to get advice from someone like him who has so many racing achievements in this sport. He gave me some really good ideas and helped make me comfortable.”

4/17/03

Andretti, Cheerios encourage reading   John Andretti and the #43 Dodge, which normally carries the Cheerios® and Betty Crocker® colors, will have something different for Sunday’s NASCAR Winston Cup race at the two-mile California Speedway. The team will be driving home Cheerios commitment to childhood literacy, with the #43 Dodge carrying that message on the car for the only event in the Los Angeles area. For each of the 250 scheduled laps Andretti competes in the race, Cheerios and First Book, a national children’s literacy organization, will donate 43 books per lap to children in need in the Fontana, Calif., and Los Angeles area. "As a father myself, I know the importance of reading and the critical role it plays in children wanting to learn," said Andretti. He and his wife Nancy have three children, two in elementary school. "Having their own book makes a big difference in a child wanting to read. This program is incredible and I am behind it 100 percent," he added. "We’re going for the maximum.” As many as 10,750 books would be donated by First Book and Cheerios if Andretti completes all 500 miles of the race. The books are slated to go to children participating in Boys and Girls Club of Fontana, Sivaland Head Start and The Agape House, also both in Fontana, and in LA’s Best, an after-school program in Los Angeles.

4/17/03

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4/17/03

Readers debate AR1 comments on CART parades    Dear AutoRacing1.com, We IN THE STANDS saw four incredible races at Long Beach. Neither the Champ, the Atlantic, the Trans-Am nor the Historic Grand Prix cars did much passing for the lead. So from the couch, that none of the races made for good TV. But, we knew what Paul Tracy said at the end of the race: There was some incredible driving going on in all four races. Power, braking, shifting and turning. Even when AJ and Scott had big leads, they could not make a mistake. When Trans-Am threw out the yellow were you happy? We weren’t. Sure we saw some passing, but the way I view it, Scott lost his advantage gained from 40 hard laps. Boris’ pass took away, not added to the race. Hey, the passing in NASCAR is needed, because there aren’t any driving skills being displayed. Draft and pass, and sometimes rub and crash. Yes, that can be exciting, but it isn’t racing. And please don’t make any arguments based on the fake IRL races. I have enjoyed every CART race I have attended, none have had much passing. I watch every CART race I can on TV, without the great broadcast team, they could cure insomnia. Some things just don’t make for good TV. OW racing is one of them. Yes! more people would watch if they knew the driver names and more sponsors would promote CART in their advertising. But the experience, the thrill is at the track. I ate three roasted corn-on-the-cobs last weekend. Will they have them in Portland? On the other hand, if you want passing, there is a simple solution. Handout some meaningful points for great qualifying down to say tenth position on both Friday and Saturday. That is, give them something to work for. Then simply grid them in reverse order. Bingo, you will have passing. In the Trans-Am race we got to see Paul G work his way up from the back of the pack. My guess is he took both his brakes and tires to the limit, or he might have attempted a win, even against his own guys. As I have confessed before, I know very little about the mechanics, but it seems to me, without the ability to draft on a road course, you must reverse grid if you want passing. Jeff Skinner, Northridge, CA.   Yet another reader writes, Dear AR1, How is CART to stimulate more exciting racing by somehow "legislating" more passing? Passing is a driver based decision process not a technology or a rule that can be manipulated to produce a desired result. The problem is the very blueprint that is, we are told, CART's North American future: inner-urban temporary street circuits. Racing 700 hp open wheel racing cars in narrow "concrete canyons" will never stimulate the calculated risk taking seen at places like Road America, Mid Ohio or even a mutant like Cleveland. Since traction control was banned I think the racing has already improved noticeable. The new "young guns" (thank GOD all those hacks went to the IRL made room for all this fresh talent!) chasing the "old" pros is compelling as are "Balls Out" qualification runs. Maybe "we" need to re-think our expectations for venues like Long Beach and Miami. Is on track passing everything? Is it REALLY that important in the total context of two plus hours of hard racing, multiple pit stops, calculated team work (not EVERYONE can drive ya know), the dogged pursuit of a competitor in an essentially equal car. Pushing HARD to force the error that improves the position. We can't have it both ways can we? Lack of meaningful passing on temporary street circuits in the heart of major "sponsor friendly" population centers AND classic World Class competition on natural terrain road courses . . . in the middle of nowhere; camping, "honey buckets," having to leave the wife at home (we may be on to something here!), a STAG weekend or two! There's got to be a balance in here somewhere. James N Anderson, Chicago, Illinois  Gentlemen,  All good points, however, only the hard core CART fans can appreciate how hard the drivers were working at Long Beach. CART is being compared head-to-head against the IRL and NASCAR, both of which feature plenty of passing. Face it, the American public is spoiled by NASCAR, they do not appreciate follow-the-leader road course racing. As long as CART is racing in America, it has to give the Americans what they have come to expect - passing, contrived or not contrived. They view passing as entertainment, and like it or not, CART is in the entertainment business. I view my "push button" concept (extra boost pressure for a duration of 5 sec. 10 times per race) as artificial as the draft in NASCAR or the IRL, but that is what the fans want - passing, so lets give it to them. They are the customers! My concept of 10 pushes per race involves strategy, and if both drivers happen to push the button at the same time on rare occasions, guess what, no advantage gained, skill still required. As long as CART is going to be a road racing series (and primarily a tight street racing series), there is no other way but the turbo boost push button idea to ensure all drivers make passes for position and get repassed. At the end of the day, the fastest driver will win, unless they blow their wad in the beginning of the race, and get beat at the end by a slightly slower car that saved their pushes. That is really no different than someone saving their fuel and tires until the end, while the leader does not. Think of it as entertainment for the dumbed-down American public, born and bred on NASCAR. CART's 0.12 Long Beach rating says it all. Teams can't sell sponsorship with a 0.12 rating. May as well shut the company down now, because with 0.2 (St. Pete), then 0.15 (Mexico) and now a 0.12 Long Beach rating, the trend is down and the outcome is inevitable.  Mark C.

4/16/03

Fernandez has successful Portland test  Fernandez Racing continued its on-track momentum with the conclusion of a successful test at Portland International Raceway this afternoon. Adrian Fernandez, fresh off a second-place finish in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this past weekend, took to the track yesterday [April 15], logging 183 miles around the permanent road course. The team elected to use a “50-mile day” this afternoon which, as long as no more than 50 on-track miles are completed, does not constitute a test day. [Each team entry is allocated 11 test days, three of which are designated for CART open tests.] Ten drivers participated in the outing. Fernandez was second quickest behind Paul Tracy in the morning practice session yesterday. He ended up fourth overall for the day with a lap of 59.2 seconds after the team focused their afternoon efforts on preparations for the upcoming European leg of the schedule. Fernandez logged the fastest time of the group in this morning’s session, posting a best lap of 58.6 seconds. The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will return to the track on May 5 for the inaugural London Champ Car Trophy to be held at the legendary Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, England. The European swing continues as teams return to Germany’s EuroSpeedway Lausitz for the German 500 on May 11. Adrian Fernandez, Owner/Driver -- “We tested a lot of things and improved the feel of the car. I am happy. Yesterday we ended up fourth fastest, not too far from the front, but we were trying some different things. The main thing is that the car feels better. I think we are learning a little bit more about the car and, obviously, we did a lot in preparation for Brands Hatch and Germany.” Gustavo del Campo, Team Manager: “It was a very good test. Yesterday we ran a lot of miles and we took our 50-mile day today – we have one a year – because we made a good improvement. We separated this test into three parts – the morning session yesterday, the afternoon session yesterday and this morning. The first part yesterday morning was very good. [Paul] Tracy was the fastest and Adrian was second. For the afternoon, we worked on the aero [aerodynamic package] we are going to use for Brands Hatch and we were fourth which was good because we were not fighting for the times. This morning we were fastest with a very good setup for Portland. [Race Engineer] David Watson and Adrian went through all the items on our agenda for this big tour and I think we will go back to the shop with everything covered.” Weather Conditions: 55º F - Overcast

4/16/03

Roush reorganizes #99 team   Roush Racing announced that it has completed the realignment of the No. 99 CITGO team which started by adding Brad Parrott as the team’s car chief. Pierre Kuettel, the five year veteran car chief of the No. 99 team, has assumed overall responsibility in the shop for mechanical preparation of all No. 99 racecars while Al Allen, a veteran plate manager, will continue to oversee management of the team dedicated surface plates. “We will now be able to use Pierre (Kuettel) full-time in the shop, where his knowledge and experience will provide valuable leadership to the development of our entire team. We expect the end result will be better and faster racecars to use every week. What we’ve tried to do is surround Paul (Andrews) with people that can help in their area of expertise and produce the best possible racecars for us to go win races with and I think we’ve accomplished that. The experience level of our managers is enormous and I’m really looking forward to great things.” Crew chief Paul Andrews echoes Burton’s sentiment, “I’m really excited to have Pierre in the shop. He along with our key managers that support our team, Al (Allen), Bill (Bisnette), Dave (Dunlap) and Jeff (McElwain), will collectively give this team the kind of racecars we need to go out and win races.” In addition to Kuettel and Allen, Andrews will continue to be supported by Roush Racing’s key service departments including, Bill Bisnette, overall shop foreman, Dave Dunlap, chassis build manager, and Jeff McElwain, gears and transmission build manager. “The No. 99 CITGO team made some changes to improve the performance of their race team,” said Roush Racing owner Jack Roush. “I think these are all steps in the right direction and I’m looking forward to the results.”

4/16/03

Firestone to sponsor Nazareth thru 2005  Officials from Firestone and Nazareth Speedway announced on April 16 that Firestone has extended its title sponsorship of the IRL IndyCar Series event at Nazareth for the next three years and that Michael Andretti will serve as Grand Marshal of the Firestone Indy 225 on Aug. 24. “We're very proud to again be title sponsor of the Indy Racing League action at historic Nazareth Speedway,” said Al Speyer, Firestone Racing executive director. “This unique 1-mile oval is very challenging for drivers and equipment. But we’ve never shied away from a challenge, and the competition here in the heat of August will allow us to showcase Firestone technology.”   Firestone is the exclusive tire of the Indy Racing League and is the only tire to have competed in every IndyCar Series event since the series began in 1996. “We sponsored the IRL event here in 2002 and were very pleased with the efforts of International Speedway Corporation and Nazareth Speedway to ensure racing fans have a great show. The northeast is a key business market for us, so we’re pleased many of our associates, customers and fans will have the opportunity to enjoy the tire-to-tire action unique to the IRL at this legendary venue. Michael Andretti serving as event Grand Marshal will make the race even more special.”

4/16/03

Motegi purse 2nd highest  The total payout for the Indy Japan 300 on April 13 at Twin Ring Motegi was $1,591,000, the largest purse in Indy Racing League history outside of the Indianapolis 500. The previous record excluding Indianapolis was $1,247,000, awarded on Sept. 20, 1998 at Texas Motor Speedway.  Firestone officials were pleased with the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, Japan, which was somewhat of a “home” race for the company, which is owned by Japan-based Bridgestone Corp. Scott Sharp won the event, the first Indy Racing League event to take place outside the United States.

4/16/03
Industry News

SPEED surpasses 57 million mark   SPEED Channel added 500,000 households in March, bringing the new Nielsen total to 57.1 million U.S. homes. SPEED added 6.2 million U.S. homes in the last 12 months, making it the 15th fastest growing in cable. In the last 24 months, SPEED has added 18.2 U.S. million homes, holding its position as the fastest growing sports network and the ninth fastest growing in all of cable. SPEED Channel also serves another 4.5 million homes in Canada.

4/16/03

Champ Cars on American Idol tonight  One of the fastest growing shows on television will meet one of the fastest racing series in the world on tonight’s broadcast of FOX’s musical reality show American Idol. The seven finalists on the popular show were guests of the Ford Motor Company at last weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and had the chance to talk to Champ Car drivers Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Oriol Servia (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) along with their teams. The finalists also participated in some race-related activities while teams prepared for last Sunday’s race. The show’s producers shot footage of the visit, which will be used in a special music segment during tonight’s broadcast. “The entire video segment will last less than a minute but just having that much time on what is probably the most popular show in America right now is an incredible opportunity for Champ Car, our primary sponsors Bridgestone and Ford and the Gigante/Team Rahal and Visteon/Patrick Racing teams,” said Champ Car Vice President of Communications Adam Saal. “The entire experience has been great and we want to thank each of the current seven finalists, the American Idol production company and Ford for making it all possible.” Tonight’s edition of American Idol will be broadcast live on FOX beginning at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time/7:30 p.m. Central (8:30 p.m. Pacific Time tape delayed).

4/16/03

CART's premier race draws dismal 0.12  CART's premier race, the Long Beach Grand Prix, turned in a 0.12 rating on Sunday on SPEED Channel, drawing 69,000 households.  This means they had more people at the track watching than they had on TV around the entire country.  This of course makes the Nielson TV ratings very suspect.  Either that or CART's lack of marketing its series, in combination with it's unwritten policy of ensuring there is no passing for the lead (i.e. CART is now the #1 USA parade company), have TV viewers running for the doors.  Fans want excitement, and watching cars circulating around the track in formation, even without traction control, apparently is not appealing to the masses.  Fix it guys!  Mark C.

4/16/03

CART night race news  An ancient Chinese proverb advises that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, but in order to race 750hp Champ Cars at night, a single candle simply will not do. To that end, and to ensure that the new night races in Cleveland and Milwaukee will proceed as planned, the historic Milwaukee Mile and Musco Lighting are set to conduct the first lighting test Thursday, April 17 in preparation for Round 6 of the Champ Car World Series Saturday, May 31st, the Milwaukee Mile 250. The 1.032-mile oval celebrates its 100th anniversary this season with a Champ Car race under the lights and will give fans their first look at what the venerable oval will look like under the glare of the Musco lights. Champ Car will have its Fast Lap pace car program on hand to provide a glimpse of what cars will look like at speed when the series returns in May for its annual sojourn to Milwaukee. Champ Car Chief Steward Chris Kneifel and Barber Dodge Pro Series driver Albert Unser, who will be making his first-ever oval track start when the BDPS joins the May card, will be on hand to observe the lighting provided by the towers, and will also be giving pace-car rides around the mile oval to attending media. Representatives from Musco Lighting and from the track will be on hand to answer any questions. The towers have already been tested for the 22nd running of the U.S. Bank Presents The Cleveland Grand Prix – Round 9 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford July 3-5. In addition to the Grand Prix and Musco Lighting personnel, Champ Car President and CEO Chris Pook was on hand to evaluate the lighting test at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport. “The Musco lighting is magnificent. We were able to conduct this initial test thanks to the cooperation of the City of Cleveland and Burke Lakefront Airport,” said Pook. “With the bright lights and the Cleveland downtown skyline in the background, Champ Car racing is going to be showcased in a manner like it’s never been seen before. This is truly going to re-energize what is already a terrific event.” Illuminating the 2.106-mile temporary circuit is the world’s largest temporary lighting project ever undertaken. It will also mark the first time a road racing circuit has been lit. The project will require 21 Musco Mobile lighting trucks producing the equivalent of nearly a half million standard car headlights. The magnitude of the Cleveland race will be comparable to lighting 23 football fields at once. The excitement surrounding the night racing has spread to race fans. Milwaukee will celebrate its 100th anniversary with the a number of activities for fans including the Centennial Fan Jam which will provide fans with a festival-style atmosphere where they can enjoy the race atmosphere after Friday qualifying. There will also be a VIP dinner and concert featuring the classic rock band America, famous for hits such as Horse With No Name and Ventura Highway. Cleveland ticket renewals are up by nine percent over last year’s numbers. In addition to racing under the lights, the official City of Cleveland fireworks will add to the nighttime excitement on Friday, July 4.

4/16/03

Indy 500 seats for sale  2nd UPDATE Another reader writes, In response to your article regarding Indy 500 ticket sales way off, I have yet to see any reference to the farce Helio victory last year. The entire free world knows that Paul Tracy was the winner of the 2002 Indy 500. A huge portion of the lack of interest in that race in 2003 going forward is the result of the the rigged results from 2002 as to make certain a CART driver was not allowed to win. Sure the series is waning and is set on a crash course to failure. But much of the lack of interest is from Tony making sure Helio won last year and not the legitimate winner - PAUL TRACY! Who wants to watch a race were the winner is not guaranteed to win? Bradley Wilson  It would appear that perhaps your theory may be contributing to the significant downturn in ticket sales for the Indy 500.  We did address this issue in this AR1 article, The unappealing appeal, George reigns in Georgetown. 4/16/03 - A reader writes, I too found it unusual to see a commercial advertising Indy 500 tickets. In fact, you can go to their website and specify what stand you want for tickets and quite a few grandstands have tickets available. But that being said, I am not going to do it. The '95 Indy 500 was my last. Perhaps the Indy 500 is finally being diluted by the Brickyard 400 NASCAR race and the USGP F1 race. You would think that this year would have been a decent year for Indy tickets with all the former CART teams moving over and dominating.  Mark Bette  Dear Mark, It's too late.  The CART/IRL split has allowed NASCAR to monopolize racing in the USA, leaving the IRL and CART reeling.  History will show that it was a grave mistake.  Mark C.  4/16/03 - We do not recall seeing a TV ad for Indy 500 tickets since the 1960's.  On CNN this morning was a TV ad for this years Indy 500 saying plenty of good seats are still available.  For a race that always sold out within weeks of the previous years Indy 500, and with about 6 weeks to go before the 500, one has to wonder if Tony George's concept of the IRL as a replacement for CART was the right decision.  Based on ticket sales, drivers entered, and TV ratings (which are way down), it's clear the concept is failing.

4/16/03

Haberfeld to help with Miami Easter Egg hunt  The Grand Prix Americas, Downtown Miami’s premier auto street race, will be hosting a promotion during the Miami Seaquarium’s Easter Egg Hunt Family Day this Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1PM to 4PM. Champ Car rookie driver Mario Haberfeld is slated to take part in the festivities on Friday from 11AM to 12:30PM at the Miami Seaquarium, Key Biscayne. Mario Haberfeld will be available from 11AM to 12:30PM. As part of a south Florida-wide promotion leading up to the 2003 Grand Prix Americas, fans will have an opportunity to meet drivers, try their skills in a simulator and enter contests to win prizes such as tickets to the Grand Prix Americas.

4/16/03

Zanardi to serve as Grand Marshal  One of the most popular drivers ever to strap into a Champ Car, Alex Zanardi has provided a number of memorable surprises to fans of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series over his years of competition, and may have another up his sleeve for racing fans that attend the May 11 running of the German 500. Zanardi will serve as the Grand Marshal for this year’s German 500 at Eurospeedway Lausitz, marking the first time that the two-time Champ Car World Series title winner has returned to the German superspeedway since his devastating crash at the end of the 2001 event which resulted in the traumatic amputation of the lower part of both of his legs. From his breathtaking last-lap pass of Bryan Herta in the Corkscrew of Laguna Seca to win in 1996 to his charge from 22nd to win the 1997 Cleveland event, the dashing Italian has left fans shaking their heads in wonderment many times before – and the May 11 event at Eurospeedway Lausitz could result in even more surprises for his legions of Champ Car fans. “I am honored to serve as the Grand Marshal for the German 500 and look forward to seeing all of the Champ Car fans again,” Zanardi said. “It was always nice to be cheered by the crowd and it will be great to hear those cheers even through a symbolic effort such as this, but I am working on something to make sure that I will do more than just wave a flag as the Grand Marshal.” Undaunted, Zanardi has made remarkable strides since that fateful day in Lausitz, first just to take his first unaided steps, and making the remarkable progression to driving himself around his home in a sedan specially-equipped with hand controls. Alex made a celebrated return to the Champ Car scene last year at the Molson Indy Toronto, seeming many of his old competitors for the first time since the accident and providing one of the most inspirational moments of the 2002 season as he climbed the flag stand to wave the green flag to start the race as well as the checkered flag to end it. “Like no other racing driver, Alex Zanardi stands for motor sports with all its facets. We have even greater respect for his outstanding personality and the way in which Alex Zanardi mastered his fate,” Hans-Joerg Fischer, the managing director of EuroSpeedway Lausitz, said. “It is an extraordinary honor for my team and me, for CART and all Champ Car pilots, as well as for the entire Lausitz region, to be able to welcome him again as a member of this great international family at the German 500.” In his role as Grand Marshal for this year’s event, Zanardi, who won back-to-back Champ Car titles in 1997 and ’98, will be involved in ceremonies surrounding the race including giving the call to start engines prior to the event. The race will be the fifth round of the 18-race Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season and marks the first superspeedway race of the year for the Champ Cars..

4/16/03

Conquest & Fittipaldi testing at LVMS  Conquest Racing and their technical partners, Fittipaldi Dingman racing, are testing on the oval at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today. Mark C.

4/16/03


Are CART, F1 and the IRL going down the wrong path?  AR1 has maintained for quite some time that turbocharging is the upcoming craze in production car engines.  This Ward's Automotive article will educate our readers as to why your next car just might be turbocharged.  While CART is currently using a turbocharged engine, it plans on moving to a normally aspirated engine in 2005.  This of course raises the obvious question, is CART jumping off the turbo ship the right thing to do, or should F1 and the IRL be jumping onto the turbo ship because that will put them more in tune with what the engine manufacturers will be producing in years to come?  We continue to maintain that the IRL, CART and F1 should adopt a "common" small displacement (1.5 L) turbo engine platform.  A turbo platform would enable the sanctioning body to keep HP nearly constant over a 10 to 20 year lifespan by modifying the allowed boost pressure downward over time.  CART's existing 2.65 Liter turbo platform has served them well for 25 years, and there is no reason to believe a 1.5 Liter (or smaller) turbo platform could not serve the IRL, CART and F1 another 25 years. It's time open wheel racing wake up to the fact that a standard across the board engine platform is in everyone's best interest.  It works for stock car racing (in their case a pushrod 2-valve per cylinder 5.7 Liter carbureted platform) and it can work for the open wheel world as well, be it at a higher-tech level. Mark C.

4/16/03

Kanaan recovering from surgery  IRL IndyCar Series driver Tony Kanaan underwent surgery on his left arm April 15 at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after suffering a radial fracture in an accident during the Indy Japan 300 on April 13 at Twin Ring Motegi, said Dr. Terry Trammell, who performed the surgery. The surgery lasted more than two hours and went exceptionally well, said Trammell, orthopedic surgeon at Orthopedics Indianapolis. He expects Kanaan to be released from Methodist Hospital as early as April 16, but Trammell said it could be at least three weeks before he drives a race car. Kanaan also has a laceration and bruise to his upper posterior thigh, said Trammell. “He is feeling better and better,” said Trammell. “It is difficult for him to sit. Like any other laceration and bruise, it will be three weeks before he is feeling better.” Brazilian native Kanaan and pole sitter Scott Dixon collided and crashed in Turn 3 on Lap 178 while dueling for the lead. Kanaan, who started second, was credited with 14th place in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Further updates on Kanaan’s condition will be provided when available.

4/16/03

Is CART in the parade business or racing business?   UPDATE A reader responds, I must disagree with your editorial on the LBGP. Overall, I found it to be a good race - definitely a better race than the IRL Motegi crash fest race that had passes for the lead. Besides that, a pass for the lead is not required for the rest of the racing action to be good. I will agree that after the first few laps until after the first pit stops that the race wasn't all that exciting. But, I don't recall seeing too many races that have flag-to-flag, wheel-to-wheel racing.  Mark McCauley, Texas  Dear Mark, CART's abysmal TV ratings speak for themselves.  Mark C. 4/16/03 - By all measures, last weekends Long Beach GP was a box office success.  However, on the race track there was once again, no passing for the lead.  Clearly, although CART's new engine and aero package are an improvement over least year,  with no on-track passes for the lead this year, nor even the slight hint of an attempt, it's clear CART continues to position itself as #1 in the parade business and not the racing business.  There is of course an easy fix, but that concept has so far been rejected by the CART rules makers, and is a story for another day.  Well we are not the only ones talking about it.  This Long Beach Press Telegram article says, putting Champ Cars on a narrow, concrete-lined circuit usually doesn't produce the best racing. In fact, it stinks. Take Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. That was nothing more than three pit stop competitions wedged into a 90-lap parade. The only time the lead changed hands that afternoon was when someone came in for four tires and fuel. Yes, pit strategy and pit work should play a large role in the outcome of the race. Pulling off a perfect pit stop, though, shouldn't be the only way a driver has any chance of moving through the field. The first pass for position among the leaders in Sunday's race happened on Lap 20 when Alex Tagliani moved around Bruno Junqueira to take over third. This was the third year in a row that the lead failed to change hands on the track in Long Beach. In 2001, Helio Castroneves started on the pole and led all 82 laps. Yawn. [Editor's Note - this problem of not being able to pass on street course is not CART's only problem.  The drivers can't pass on natural terrain road courses either.  The IRL and NASCAR  feature passing and repassing for the lead week in and week out.  Since CART will continue to be measured against them in the USA, the Champ Car World Series will continue to be characterized as a parade and party for the rich and famous, and TV ratings will continue to drop, though they can't drop much further].

4/16/03

Racing's Hot Bed is Long Beach, not Indy   This Long Beach Press telegram article says, What last weekend's race did was reinforce how hearty this event has become. Despite a war, a threat of bad weather, a stagnant economy and a who's-he roster of drivers, the event drew it's usual 200,000 for the weekend and sent everyone except Michel Jourdain home happy. That's real good news for the viability of the event in these uncertain times in the motor sports industry. The winds shift every day it seems over the long- term future of the CART series, but the bottom line is that someone the Formula One series or the Indy Racing League will want the jewel of Long Beach in its series should CART's engine die. And, with creator Chris Pook in charge of CART and Jim Michaelian heading the Grand Prix, the future of the event is in good hands. Considering how de-valued Indy has become and NASCAR having expanded too quickly, the Grand Prix is racing alongside Daytona and Monte Carlo for racing's top attraction.

4/16/03

Will the F1 crybabies please shut up  UPDATE Pat Symond, Renault's executive director of engineering, is convinced that the device helped Alonso escape unhurt from his heavy impact with the wall. "Overall, I think the device worked extremely well," he said. "The facts of the accident were that after a relatively light impact with the wheel on the circuit, of around 4.5g, the accident data recorder indicated the first impact with the wall was a 35g lateral and 35g longitudinal impact, followed by a second side impact of 60g. "When you consider that our tests are conducted at 40g, that shows these were very big impacts. However, Fernando has suffered absolutely no problems with his neck, which is unusual in an accident of this magnitude. I think we can judge that the device did prevent him from a degree of injury, and we are very pleased with its performance."  4/16/03 - Prior to the season, many overpaid F1 drivers were crying like babies over wearing the HANS Device, something CART drivers have been using for a couple of years now with little or no complaints.  In Brazil, Fernando Alonso had a major head-on shunt with a tire barrier and wall.  "It was the biggest one of my career,' Alonso said as he prepared to head for Italy, 'but I am obviously pleased with how the HANS system performed.'   Fernando said the controversial Head And Neck Safety device, mandatory for 2003 and tethering a driver's helmet to his shoulders, was 'definitely an advantage' in a violent head-on crash.   'For me, the system isn't at all uncomfortable in the car,' said the 21-year-old Renault driver, 'and unlike normal accidents of that kind, I felt no neck pains afterwards.  'I think the HANS device helped in that, and did a very good job in that particular crash.'

4/16/03

Who says NASCAR ticket prices are too high?   Who says NASCAR race ticket prices are too high? In an apparent move to boost ticket sales, Atlanta Motor Speedway officials have announced a new specially priced ticket package for the Oct. 24-26 Georgia 500 weekend, offering a three-day ticket for $69. The three-day ticket will allow race fans to attend the Oct. 24 Georgia-Pacific Qualifying Night and the Georgia-Pacific 150 Goody's Dash shootout, the Oct. 25 Aaron's 312 Busch race and the Oct. 26 Georgia 500 Winston Cup race for the price of $69. Doug Belliveau

4/16/03

Not a happy camper   A man, angered that Fox Entertainment preempted NASCAR racing for Red Sox baseball, sent more than 530,000 e-mail messages to WFXT, disabling the Fox Entertainment website for several hours, according to the US attorney's office. Michael Melo was charged in Boston yesterday with damaging a protected computer, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors say Melo wrote a computer program that automatically sent electronic messages to WFXT repeatedly between April and May 2001. Fox, fearing a denial of service attack, responded by shutting down its website for several hours, authorities said. Boston Globe

4/16/03

Champ Car teams testing at Portland today   Champ Car drivers testing today at Portland International Raceway are:
Alex Tagliani
Paul Tracy
Michel Jourdain
Darren Manning
Rodolfo Lavín
Ryan Hunter-Reay
Roberto Moreno
Mario Dominguez
Adrian Fernandez
Patrick Lemarie
The only team with both drivers in Portland is Herdez Competition. Newman Haas elected to go to Phoenix due to the threat of rain. Yet, it only sprinkled for a minute or two and was mostly sunny and puffy clouds yesterday.

4/16/03

Why not CART or F1 at Fuji after reconstruction?  2nd UPDATE This Grandprix.com article says, The Mount Fuji racing circuit will close this autumn so that construction can bring the track up to full Formula 1 specification. The program of work is huge and it will mean that the Toyota-owned circuit will not be opening again until the Spring of 2005, at which point it is expected to bid for the Japanese GP in 2007 and beyond. F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke was commissioned by Toyota to redesign the circuit, which sits in the shadow of Mount Fuji, within easy reach of Tokyo. The plans will retain the general shape of the original race track, the topography making it difficult to do otherwise, but the actual track layout will be very different. The character of the track will not however change, with the long main straight being retained, but all the corners will be reprofiled to a lesser or greater extent with the result being a circuit which will be 150m longer than the current track. Safety will be completely revamped with wider run-off areas, better drainage, FIA specification spectator zone protection and new service roads. The rebuild will include a completely new pit and garage area which will house a Media Center capable of housing 500 journalists and all the necessary race control functions. The vast main grandstand will be revamped to give individual spectators more space and a huge new grandstand will be built at the first corner. This will provide views of most of the rest of the circuit. In order to improve access two new entry roads will be built.   11/27/03 - Did you know?  In 1966 USAC, then the sanctioning body of Indy car racing ran a race at Fuji. The winner was Jackie Stewart in a Lola Ford owned by John Mecum and wrenched by George Bignotti. Stewart also came within about ten laps of winning Indy that year with the same team but had engine failure and his teammate Graham Hill won in a controversial finish over Jim Clark.  11/26/02 - A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I could not help but notice the reports that Toyota's Lee White led everyone to believe that Toyota would be back in CART in 2005 at the CART Awards banquet in Miami.  I also saw today's story you published about the Toyota F1 test at Fuji before the track is closed for a major overhaul.  It would seem to me that the finish of the track and Toyota's return to CART would coincide.  If that is the case, it would seem to me that Toyota would want CART to race at the new Fuji in 2005.  After all, Honda has a F1 race (Suzuka) and and IRL race (Motegi) and Toyota has no big race of their own.  Lisa Perotta, San Diego, CA  Dear Lisa, Indeed it would make absolute sense for CART to race at Fuji, especially since it is a road course and that appears to be CART's new emphasis.  Now we will see just how sincere Lee White and Toyota are about returning to CART in 2005.  If they are sincere, one would think they would open up a dialogue with CART immediately for a 2005 event before CART signs with Beijing or South Korea, which our sources say is quite likely.  Chris Pook says CART will have one race in Asia, so if CART goes to Beijing, F1 stays at Suzuka (very likely), and the IRL stays at the oval in Motegi (very likely), Toyota will have made a major investment in Fuji and won't have a major race to show for it.  Mark C.

4/16/03
MotoGP

Japanese rider fights for his life   2nd UPDATE The MotoGP community continues to hold out hope for Daijiro Kato, who remains in coma one week after his tragic crash at the Suzuka Circuit. Honda´s Japanese website has reported that they have received more than 4,600 messages from well-wishers around the world, whilst here at motograndprix.com the total has soared to over 1,500. Members of the MotoGP paddock have also been expressing their solidarity with the former 250cc World Champion, including Ducati rider Loris Capirossi and Fuchs Kawasaki Team Manager Harald Eckl. `We had a dream debut with our bike but our excitement was completely overshadowed by what happened to Kato,´ said Capirossi. `He is in bad shape but we are all thinking about him and we hope he will show signs of improvement in the next few days.´ Meanwhile, Eckl added: `It is a sad time for motorcycle sport. We are all thinking about Daijiro and his family and we are praying for a miracle.´ Kato has shown no major signs of improvement since his pulse and heartbeat stabilised at the end of last week.  4/8/03 - There has been a slight improvement in the state of Daijiro Kato over the last few hours, according to his close friend and fellow MotoGP rider Makoto Tamada. Kato is in a critical condition after suffering serious injuries to his head, neck and chest, but Tamada this morning told motograndprix.com that his heart rate is stronger after 48 hours in the intensive care unit of the Mie Medical Center in Yokkaaichi. The hospital have not made any official statement and are unlikely to do so unless there is a major change in Kato´s condition. `I still can´t believe it,´ said Tamada. `I don´t know how to take in what has happened to Daijiro. I can only pray that he recovers and I am at the temple right now. I went straight from the circuit to the hospital after the race. Yesterday his blood pressure, which had been low, recovered. Even though he has survived the most important stage after the accident, the doctor says he is still in grave danger. It is difficult to predict the future of the situation´.   4/7/03 - Japanese motorcyclist Daijiro Kato was fighting for his life after crashing Sunday during the season-opening Grand Prix of Japan. The 26-year-old rider sustained serious head, neck and chest injuries and was in critical condition, race officials said. He was in a coma when flown to the hospital by helicopter. The first news from the medical team on the track was that Kato's heart had stopped and he was unconscious, race medical director Claudio Macchiagodena said. "Only fast action in the ambulance to resuscitate his heart gave him the chance to fight for his life," Macchiagodena said. Kato, a former 250cc world champion, hit the wall with his Honda. The 3.6-mile Suzuka track is considered one of the most dangerous in Grand Prix motorcycling.  AP Story

4/16/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Kimi To Hand Brazil Trophy Back
Brawn: F2003-GA Delayed Even Longer?
McLaren To Launch Within A Month
Jaguar Disappointed, But Delighted
On-Form Webber Heads To Imola
DC Eyes More Imola Form
Webber Follows Jones To F1 Stardom
McLaren: Fisi's Win Was Justified
Williams Confirm Anti-Smoking Deal
Frustrated Toyota Target Consistency
World Champion Rates The F1 Field
FW25 And Michelin On Imola Pace
Schu Unhappy With F2003-GA Delay
Two-Stopper For Imola Pole Man?
Schumacher Still Angry With FIA
Alonso Fit For Imola, Praises HANS
Quick Word In Formula One
Jaguar Grapple With Fuel Problem

4/15/03

NASCAR Truck Series ratings dwarf CART's on SPEED   Race fans tuned in Saturday to see three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip back in action at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, as live race coverage on SPEED Channel garnered a 0.99 (564,000 households) rating from Nielsen Media Research.   CART would die for that high a rating on SPEED, but with so few big sponsors in the series willing to run ads to promote their product and CART, and with CART unable to replace the monies Honda and Toyota spent on CART related advertising, the series has become largely invisible to all but the hard core fans and hence is caught in a vicious circle.  This is reflected in a drop of their SPEED TV ratings from 0.5(+) in 2002 to under 0.2 in 2003. This is of course making it harder for teams to sell sponsorship, meaning CART will have to continue to subsidize them in 2004, which in turn means CART will burn through their cash reserves as fast, or perhaps faster than in 2003.  At this point CART either needs a Bernie Ecclestone like character with deep pockets willing to inject the necessary monies needed to properly market the series until it's self-sustaining, and/or ditch their SPEED contract for a provider who can get more CART races on network TV where ratings will be above 1.0.  Mark C.

4/15/03

Yet another driver broke bones in Motegi   UPDATE The IRL did confirm the injuries today - IRL IndyCar Series drivers Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon both suffered fractures in a two-car accident during the Indy Japan 300 on April 13 at Twin Ring Motegi, said Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League Director of Medical Services. Kanaan suffered a radial fracture on his left arm, and Dixon suffered multiple fractures in his right hand and wrist. Dixon, the winner of the season opener in Miami, and Kanaan, the winner of the league’s second race in Phoenix, crashed in Turn 3 on Lap 178 while dueling for the lead. Kanaan, who started second, was credited with 14th place in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Dixon, who started on the pole, was credited with 15th place in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Kanaan is expected to have surgery on his left arm tonight.  CART's Dr. Terry Trammell, who will perform Kanaan's surgery, is expected to evaluate Kanaan's teammate, Dario Franchitti, on Wednesday. Franchitti suffered a broken vertebrae in his lower back when he crashed on his motorcycle April 4 in his native Scotland. He missed the Japan race as a result of the injury. Further updates on all their conditions will be provided when available.   4/14/03 - The IRL press release only said Tony Kanaan broke bones in the bone jarring IRL race at Motegi.   Come to find out, Scott Dixon suffered minor fractures in his wrist and hand during a late race accident with Tony Kanaan in Sunday's Indy Japan 300. The accident occurred when Dixon was attempting a pass on Kanaan on lap 177. The two made contact and sent both cars into the outside wall. After visiting the doctor, Dixon was upbeat with the prognosis. "It's (the wrist) a little sore, but so is my whole body," said Dixon. "But it could have been a lot worse. I'm looking forward to getting back on the track when the month of May gets underway. "  Were there any others?

4/15/03

Cup drivers head to Sears Point    NASCAR Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth will highlight a group of five drivers scheduled to participate in a two-day test session at Infineon Raceway, April 22-23. Kenseth, driver of the DeWalt Ford, will be joined by teammate Mark Martin (Viagra Ford), as well as rookies Jamie McMurray (Texaco Havoline Dodge), Jack Sprague (NetZero Chevrolet) and Casey Mears (Target Dodge). Martin was the 1997 winner at Infineon Raceway. Kenseth, who has tested at Infineon Raceway the last two years, has an average finish of 30th on the 12-turn, 2-mile road course in three Winston Cup starts. He will look to improve that average finish in his pursuit of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup championship. This session is open to the public and drivers are generally on track from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The two-day test session will be held in advance of the NASCAR Winston Cup weekend at California Speedway in Fontana, April 25

4/15/03
TRAC

ESPN to televise all TRAC races  Team Sports Entertainment, Inc. through its wholly owned subsidiary, Team Racing Auto Circuit (TRAC), announced today that it has reached a multi-year agreement with ESPN to be the exclusive network for all TRAC races beginning in May of 2004. The two companies have been in negotiations for over a year on the deal, and TRAC National Spokesman and stock car racing legend, Cale Yarborough, stated, “ESPN made stock car racing what it is today. They are the perfect partner for us. I’ve been waiting a long time for this.” The specific schedule is expected to be released in the near future, and the circuit’s inaugural race is expected to be in mid May of 2004 culminating in a season ending championship event in mid August. The thirteen event package will air live on ESPN or ESPN2 primarily on Saturday afternoons and evenings. Plans are for the races to be conducted in a two hour window.

4/15/03

Racer Mag to sponsor CART Stars of Tomorrow  RACER magazine, America's premier motorsports publication, announced today their commitment as Presenting Sponsor for the Snap-on.com Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow karting series. This new relationship further establishes RACER's predominance in covering all aspects of major-league motorsports by supporting the only U.S. kart racing series with a direct step to auto racing. "This sponsorship underscores RACER's commitment to developing young racing talent," said RACER publisher Ian Havard. "Stars of Tomorrow is an important part of a healthy motorsports landscape and they are taking the steps to grow and deliver new generations of exceptional racing drivers." As a part of this new arrangement, Stars news, features, and event coverage will become a significant component in RACER's growing commitment to all forms of karting. "RACER has established an excellent reputation for supporting the motorsports series that develop new drivers as well as the drivers themselves," said Stars principal Bobby Rahal. "Our competitors in Stars of Tomorrow should anticipate first-class coverage of their exploits in the manner in which we have all come to expect from RACER." The magazine will also present a "Karter of the Year" award at its annual awards ceremony picked exclusively from the Stars of Tomorrow crop of drivers.

4/15/03

IRL TV Ratings for Motegi  The IRL race from Japan on ABC yielded overnights of a 1.0 rating and 2 share, according to Sports Business Daily. The only sports broadcast with lower ratings for the weekend was ABC's Global Extremes: Mount Everest, with a 0.9 rating. The Arena Football League telecast on NBC also pulled in a 1.0 rating.  CART's Long Beach race was on SPEED.  No ratings out yet, but if the first two races are any indication, don't expect a very high number.

4/15/03

CART's crown jewel still shines   This Detroit News article says, This long-running street race is the template for Champ Car's future, and it's easy to see why. The Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix is much more than a race -- it's an event. Long Beach is blessed with having a beautiful harborside location, set in a city clearly on the way up, and perhaps most importantly, a convention center in the middle of the action. The convention center was hopping all weekend long. All four branches of the military were represented, capitalizing on the opportunity to meet young potential recruits and spread goodwill. People were actually lining up for a chance to push themselves to the limit doing pull-ups on a chinning bar, with brawny, chisel-jawed Marine sergeants yelling "encouragement" at them. Sound like fun? The Air Force (sponsoring Briton Darren Manning's car) had a huge line for its flight simulator. Several driving schools were recruiting potential customers, too. Got Milk? had a host of skateboarders and freestyle bike riders doing regular shows in a big half-pipe. The upcoming movie "2 Fast, 2 Furious" had a very colorful display. Racing-related -- and a lot of non-racing -- souvenirs were available at the indoor booths. So what would other cities have to do to duplicate Long Beach's success? Champ Car executives were happy to explain it all in detail on Friday, when they hosted an "urban racing" seminar. [Editor's Note - Microsoft also had it's "No Limits" college tour exhibit there. Featuring a full scale Champ Car (Ryan Hunter-Reay's American Spirit #31), Race suit and Helmet, and interactive displays for all the various systems used in the race. Pi Research (Complete Pi Dash with steering wheel showing all the various functions, buttons, and lights), Cosworth Engineering, etc. There were race simulators where you could go head to head with CART Champion Jimmy Vasser using Jimmy's actual data. All the Microsoft people were dressed in full American Spirit Team livery].

4/15/03
Industry News

IRS launches Haas investigation  UPDATE Just to clarify, Haas Automation is in no way connected to Carl Haas, CART Team Owner, and former NASCAR team owner.  4/14/03 - Agents acting for the US Internal Revenue Service have seized financial records from Oxnard, CA, based machining center manufacturer Haas Automation. A spokesman for the IRS refused to disclose what the agents were searching for but confirmed that it was a criminal investigation. Haas been involved in motor sport since 1995 and is currently a partner in a NASCAR Winston Cup series team.  Autosport

4/15/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Champion Backs New Ferrari Delay
Glory To The Newborn F1
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Swiss Ace Joins Sauber F1 Squad
Roll On Imola, Says Bridgestone
Sauber Aim For Aero Perfection
Engine Bugs Delayed F2003-GA Debut
GPWC Is Serious About F1 Split
Renault Expect Dip In Form
Williams Kick Habit With New Sponsor
Grumpy Panis Ponders Imola Race
No Panic Despite Pressure At Ferrari
Fernando Unmoved By 'Alonsomania'
No Thoughts Of Quitting, Schu Insists
Nick And Heinz Say Imola Should Suit
Schumacher Confesses Own Mistakes

4/15/03

Decent crowd at Motegi  3rd UPDATE Reports in the Japanese press had attendance at 70,000 for the IRL race, but the grandstands were visibly less full than CART when the track reported 72,000 last year.  Our best guess is 50,000, which of course is a very good size.  4/14/03 - This Indy Star article says the Motegi crowd was estimated as 40,000.  This compares to CART's last race at Motegi of 72,000.  4/13/03 - Although the attendance was good by IRL standards, the attendance was significantly off what CART drew at Motegi the previous two years.  The grandstands were sparse toward turn 4, and sources stated the attendance was about 2/3 that of CART's.  4/13/03 - So far we have only been able to get our hands on this one photo of the attendance at Motegi for the IRL race, and it is the most filled section, but nonetheless, it was one of the better attended IRL races.  No official attendance figures were released.

4/14/03

Foyt calls NASCAR crooked    This RPM.ESPN article says, A.J. Foyt, a team owner in both the IRL and NASCAR, had harsh words for NASCAR on Saturday for its recent inconsistency in its rules. Foyt's comments stem from the yellow flag decision at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago, to last week's race-winning pass where Dale Earnhardt Jr. clearly went below the yellow out of bounds like to pass race leader Matt Kenseth. "More people are waking up to NASCAR, but they are afraid to speak out," Foyt said. "I have nothing to lose, either way. The yellow flag thing is a bad deal and one of these days, someone will get killed over it. "I don't care what you write about. I call a spade a spade, good or bad. That's how I feel about (restrictor) plate racing. What has happened the last three weeks, it's something different every week. I think the world of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and I think the world of Tony Stewart, but whoever that judge was should be thrown out of the organization or should be the judge of a bathroom whether boys or girls go in. If he looks at the yellow line thing and says it was right, then he was wrong."  Foyt was at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan for Sunday's Indy Japan 300, but Foyt's Winston Cup team decided not to participate at Martinsville Speedway for the Virginia 500. Foyt's son, Larry, is the driver for the Winston Cup team. Foyt was also steamed that NASCAR disqualified his son's qualifying attempt last week at Talladega for a rules violation for being too low. Subsequently, Foyt did not make the 43-car starting lineup. "After what NASCAR did to me at Talladega last week, we didn't see any point in going up to Martinsville and tearing something up," Foyt said. "The deal they did to us at Talladega was a big (bleep)-off deal, so (bleep) them. "I'm like Dale Earnhardt was when he was alive, those (bleeping) plate races (stink). NASCAR is so crooked. Whoever you are, I don't care what you say, if you can't see that, then you are blind. Why should you take out that many cars if you are racing?" "All it is any more, restrictor-plate cars is a glorified IROC race, that's all it is," Foyt said. "If you are going to go racing, then go racing. But if you want an IROC race, then just call it an IROC race. I've never been for plate racing, I never will be. "It's just like racing back to the yellow, I'm glad to see Jeff Gordon speak out against that. Racing shouldn't be who is a complete idiot on the yellow flag. It's a different ball game than it used to be. It's not getting any better, it's getting worse."

4/14/03

Mario Andretti still wants to be team owner   Mario Andretti, who was in town for Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, said he wants to become a Champ Car owner. He said he would like to buy a portion of an established team. Andretti doesn't want to have to start one from scratch. And the team must have an established driver - one who can win races "right away," he said. He said he doesn't have the patience to coach young, inexperienced drivers. One of the teams that interests him is Walker Racing. Derrick Walker has two rookies driving for him this year - Rodolfo Lavin and Darren Manning. "Derrick is doing things the right way, I think. But I am in no hurry to get into owning a team. The timing has to be right. I don't want to have to beat down doors to get a sponsor," Andretti said. "I am looking because I want to stay on the inside of this sport. I would just like to come into a team and bring in my enthusiasm and hopefully take it to a higher level."  Orange County Register

4/14/03

IRL rules out further overseas expansion for immediate future   Indy Racing League has taken its first step outside the United Sates with the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300, but series owner Tony George will not be taking the oval-track championship anywhere else soon. "The opportunity may be there, but it has to make sense for us from the financial standpoint, from the scheduling standpoint," George told The Daily Yomiuri ahead of Sunday's race. "Can we use more international races, because it takes a couple of weeks to do one international event with all the logistics and timing. I don't want to become Formula One or even a CART series, where we're traveling around the world four or five times a year." The Japanese leg will remain in the schedule of the eight-year-old series centered around the Indianapolis 500, but the next stage of IRL's international expansion is unlikely to include oval circuits in Germany, England and Brazil. "It's a possibility that we'll do something in either Mexico or Canada, where it'll be an easier race to produce," George said. "However, there's nothing contemplated for 2004, and I don't think it can come together so quickly." The Yomiuri Shimbun

4/14/03

NASCAR to invest $100 million in R&D  NASCAR says it plans to invest $100 million over the next decade in its new Concord research and development center -- welcome news for a sour local economy. "Having the NASCAR research and development facility here is like having a Johns Hopkins or Mayo Clinic. That's the kind of impact it'll have," said John Cox, chief executive officer of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce. Chief among the problems the local economy has experienced lately are the financial hard times hitting several major companies, including Kannapolis textile giant Pillowtex Corp., which is for sale, and Corning Inc., which mothballed its Midland optical fiber plant this year. Cox said the $100 million investment will ripple through the local economy many times over, from the jobs NASCAR adds, to the homes its employees buy, to the spending by people working for or coming to the center. The NASCAR complex on West Winds Boulevard (off Derita Road across from Concord Regional Airport) houses the racing organization's research and development work, as well as accident investigators, racing series directors and other NASCAR workers. The 61,000-square-foot facility opened in December. The research work focuses on short- and long-term projects ranging from testing surfaces of race track walls to designing safer cars. NASCAR owns 16 acres across from the regional airport, where it has a hangar. Its corporate headquarters is in Florida. NASCAR itself is continuing to expand, and Nelson sees growth at the Concord center mirroring growth in the sport. NASCAR had offices in the Catawba County town of Conover for about two years before it moved to the larger Concord site. The initial investment in the Concord project was $8 million, according to the Cabarrus Economic Development Corp. Charlotte Observer

4/14/03

Williams to buck tobacco ad trend  Sir Frank Williams was last night poised to secure Formula One's first anti-tobacco sponsorship deal as his team prepared for this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix. Williams, whose team buck the trend of rivals Ferrari, McLaren and Renault by straying away from tobacco sponsorship, is expected to unveil the deal with nicotine patch manufacturer Niquitin today. A Williams spokesman refused to confirm the identity of the sponsor but said: "It will be interesting because it is not an insignificant off-car sponsor. It will have a high level of visibility." Niquitin will have to comply with an existing contract between Williams and engine partners BMW that forces sponsors to fall in line with the team's blue and white color scheme.

4/14/03

Tight quarters   The inaugural race at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan included nine cautions, some of which included heavy impact. Drivers who were able to avoid the altercations felt fortunate, yet frustrated. “I think that some of the moves that guys made out there were not good,” Kenny Brack said. “I wasn’t happy with some of the drivers out there today. It takes a lot of attention at 200 miles per hour, and there wasn’t a lot with some guys.” Buddy Rice, in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, managed to avoid impact all day despite a partial spin during a restart on lap 45. “Today, we survived a demolition derby,” Rice said. “I didn’t think it would be this much of a crashfest. I was just happy the Red Bull Cheever Racing car is going home in one piece.”

4/14/03

Racing in the motherland   Of the three drivers with Japanese decent, Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing’s Tora Takagi finished the highest with an eighth-place finish. Takagi, who now resides in Los Angeles, was born in Shizuoka, Japan and races the No. 12 Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone entry. “That was a tougher day than I was expecting, but I am happy to finish with an eighth-place result,” Takagi said. “I feel really bad for all the people who came out to see me today. But hopefully I can give them a bigger and better result at the Indy 500 next month.” Shinji Nakano, of Osaka, Japan, finished 11th in the No. 54 Beck Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone and Shigeaki Hattori, the No. 5 EPSON/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone entry, finished 20th after a lap 37 altercation with Sarah Fisher. Hattori was born in Okayama, Japan. “We made contact and we brought the car back into the garage to try and fix it, but after a few laps it developed a vibration so we brought it in,” Hattori said. “It’s a shame because I really wanted to have a good race in the EPSON car in my home country.”

4/14/03

Martinsville TV ratings  Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Virginia 500 Winston Cup race from Martinsville Speedway drew an overnight Nielsen rating of 4.6 and a 10 share, according to today's Sports Business Daily. The weekend's highest ratings went to CBS, which posted a 9.3/19 for Sunday's coverage of the final round of the Masters golf tournament and a 6.2/14 for Saturday's round, although those figures were down 6 and 11 percent respectively. The 2002 race was aired on Fox's FX cable station, where it drew a 4.5/11, according to Sports Business Daily figures. Winston Cup Daily Newsletter

4/14/03

Hornish criticizes rough driving in Japan   UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, I found Pancho Carter's comments to be quite hysterical: "A lot of guys were racing a lot closer than they need to at these speeds. I guess that's the way they race over there in the other series". Uhm, isn't this what the IRL is basing their entire marketing program on, claiming to have the closest racing in the world? Yet when the racing gets really close, they can't handle it. I would hope the current and ex-CART drivers take this as a compliment, because clearly the "other series" that he talks about can handle close racing, it's what professional drivers do. Keep up the good work. Jesus Gonzalez   4/13/03 - In this RPM.ESPN article, Sam Hornish Jr. criticizes the CART drivers who are now in the IRL for racing to hard, too close and blocking.  Hornish had plenty to say about the level of blocking he saw on the race track that resulted in nine caution flags for 64 laps. Much of that blocking was from drivers who have come to the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series from CART. "If I was Eddie Cheever, I'd have called it lunacy," Hornish said. "Everybody was having a contest to see who could knock the wall down. We didn't have enough green flag laps. "What are you going to do? You have guys two or three laps down to me, blocking, and I'm fighting for position. Brian (Barnhart) says no blocking regardless, then you have guys blocking me who are two or three laps down. How many drivers had to go out of here today on a stretcher or an ambulance?" At one point, Hornish's spotter -- former Indy 500 driver Pancho Carter -- was so angry he wanted to question Barnhart, the IRL vice president of operations, about why so many drivers were getting away with blocking. "There were a lot of crashes going on today," Carter said. "A lot of guys were racing a lot closer than they need to at these speeds. I guess that's the way they race over there in the other series. I don't have a good explanation of it. Probably the biggest thing is too much micromanaging goes on on a lap-to-lap basis."  [Editor's Note:  After years of seeing IRL crash fest races, this just sounds like sour grapes from a team that no longer has the HP advantage and has been relegated to backmarkers by the faster CART teams and drivers].

4/14/03
Industry News

Philip Morris gets slight reprieve  Philip Morris USA got a partial reprieve Monday when an Illinois judge cut in half the amount that the nation's biggest cigarette maker must come up with to begin appealing a $10.1 billion verdict over how it marketed light cigarettes. The decision also will preserve Philip Morris' ability to make a $2.6 billion payment due Tuesday to 46 states under a 1998 tobacco settlement, company spokesman David Tovar said. The maker of top-selling Marlboros had argued that having to pay the $12 billion appeal bond that it otherwise faced would bankrupt the company and render it unable to make the payment to the states, many of whom were counting on the money to cover budget gaps. Madison County Judge Nicholas Byron ordered the tobacco giant to deposit $6 billion in escrow to begin its appeal. Byron also ordered Philip Morris to pay $800 million during the first year of the appeal and $420 million a year in interest as the case winds its way through court. Plaintiffs lawyer Stephen Tillery said he would appeal the latest order. ``In my view, it's an amount less than they're capable of paying,'' Tillery said.  AP Story

4/14/03

Long Beach development  Here are two pictures showing the new expansion in downtown Long Beach. Notice part of the new movie theaters to the right. The building is split in middle, with a walkway connecting both buildings. The walkway is right where the old Long Beach layout ran. One would have to wonder if the race next year would include the kink back leading to the backstretch. Kevin Pawloski

2002                   2003

4/14/03

Did Michael make a mistake  A reader writes, Dear AR1, I was at Long Beach Friday sitting in the Newman-Haas hospitality trailer waiting for a friend (name withheld) and Mario Andretti drove up on his motorbike, and promptly ran out of gas. He was then surrounded by fans, asking for autographs, pictures etc. one guy asked him- Hey Mario "why did Michael leave CART? Mario answered "he wasn't thinking, he made a mistake" I thought to myself, what an honest answer, and a lot of people were standing there. He finally got gas from a Newman-Haas hospitality guy and off he went. Boy I bet Tony Kanaan wishes he stayed in CART and didn't go to the crash infested IRL with Michael. BIG MISTAKE for all you defectors......hope all you make it to the end of the season.  Cindy Adams, a diehard CART fan

4/14/03

American Spirit Team entertains  potential sponsors at LB  The American Spirit Team Johansson's hospitality area was extra busy this past weekend.  "We had some pretty important prospective clients here, and they were pretty excited," said Johansson. "This is probably the biggest race of the season for CART and for us." The team will test on the road course in Portland on Tuesday and Wednesday, which should help it in the European leg of the schedule, beginning on the historic Brands Hatch, England, road course on May 5. "We need more testing time," Taylor said.

4/14/03

Rookie Hunter-Reay has a veteran performance  This LA Times article says, Jimmy Vasser is supposed to have the kind of day he had on Sunday, the 12-year veteran moving 10 places through the field to finish fourth in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. But Ryan Hunter-Reay? The 22-year-old rookie from Boca Raton, Fla. -- the only American rookie in the field -- had by far his best showing as a pro in the Champ Car World Series, finishing seventh. It made for a happy mood in the hospitality tent of American Spirit Team Johansson, where team owner Stefan Johansson was feeling especially chipper about the performance of the only two Americans in a 19-man field. "It was a big breakthrough for Ryan, and I think he realizes he can mix it up with anyone out there," Johansson said. "We had a horrible weekend until 10 minutes before the race. We were struggling with both cars." Hunter-Reay, who spent last season driving for Irvine-based Hylton Motorsports in the Toyota Atlantic Series, qualified 12th. "We expect that [moving through the field] of him," Vasser said. "This is the big leagues. I've been with rookies [Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya] in the past and they won races. If you handle him with kid gloves, maybe that's not the best environment to grow." Hunter-Reay was the highest finisher among nine rookie drivers, and his race engineer, Graham Taylor, said he was running laps at the end of the race that were faster than veteran Patrick Carpentier, who finished sixth. Carpentier is a Player's/Forsythe teammate of Paul Tracy, who has won the series' first three races. "It would have been nice to finish ahead of Carpentier because we're driving his old car," Taylor said. "He's driving a shiny new Lola. We have his old girlfriend."  More....

4/14/03

Injury rate alarming  A reader writes, Dear AR1, Great weekend at Long Beach with a great race. But I see that Tony George's hammer was out again. He was again hammering the IRL drivers but this time in Japan. Will they have any healthy drivers left by the time the series ends this fall? It is beginning to appear as though this is what he meant about having a hammer. Sure hope Dario, Helio and the rest of the boys can get out before it is too late.  John Costello  Dear John, The fact that drivers continue to get injured in the IRL should come as no surprise.  We did extensive research on the injury rates on ovals vs. road courses in this article.  As our research shows, a driver is 436% more likely to get injured in an IRL race than a CART race simply because the IRL races on ovals and CART races primarily on road courses.  We have not yet updated the article to include this years IRL injuries.  Mark C.

4/14/03

Helton defends Earnhardt no-decision  NASCAR president Mike Helton insisted once again Sunday that the no-call on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s controversial pass below the yellow line on Lap 185 of the Aaron's 499 was the right call. "It was clear to us last weekend that when the 8 car (Earnhardt Jr.) went below the yellow line he didn't do it to advance a position," Helton said in a taped interview with Fox Sports anchor Mike Joy. "He did it primarily to avoid an accident." Helton also said that Earnhardt Jr. had already made the pass before going below the yellow line. "He already had the position," Helton said. "(Winston Cup Series director) John Darby explained it inside the garage area to some folks earlier today. If you had a start-finish line at that point before he went below the yellow line, who would the winner be? Everybody agreed it would be the 8 car. If the 8 car was the leader, how can he gain a position?" Appearing on the Fox Sports prerace show, Helton acknowledged the controversy that has raged all week. "The thing that we hope everybody will remember is that...we have areas where judgment calls have to be made," Helton said. "It's just like in baseball with balls and strikes or whether he's out or safe...those type of judgment calls exist in our sport, too. We're the sanctioning body and we're the ones who have to make them." ThatsRacin.com

4/14/03

GM to be official card provider of ALMS  The GM Card announced today that it has signed a sponsorship and marketing agreement to become the Official Credit Card of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) for 2003. The agreement deepens the relationship between the professional sports car racing series General Motors, which fields a two-car racing team of Chevrolet Corvette C5-Rs in the series and has won the team and manufacturer championships in the GTS class the past two seasons. In addition to official card status, The GM Card will be an associate sponsor of Corvette Racing in 2003. Under the terms of the agreement, highly visible GM Card decals will outfit two Corvette race cars, show cars, team transporters, team uniforms, crew team uniforms and firesuits.

4/14/03

Fittipaldi Dingman to go testing again  The team now heads to Las Vegas tomorrow for a 2-day test on Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for the Champ Car World Series' upcoming European swing.

4/14/03

Vasser still seeks Indy 500 ride  The only way the Championship Auto Racing Teams series is going to be represented in the field at this year's Indianapolis 500 is if one of Jimmy Vasser's former employers is able to provide him with a car. Vasser is talking to Bobby Rahal, for whom he drove last season in CART, and Chip Ganassi, his boss for six years, about an Indy ride. Any firm commitment is held up by the teams' limited availability of spare cars and Vasser's limited availability of spare time. The 1996 CART champion will be driving for Stefan Johansson's first-year CART team in Germany on the first weekend of Indy qualifying. That leaves only bump day May 18 for Vasser to try to put a car in the field.  Indy Star

4/14/03
Industry News

Bernie's London mansion   British newspaper, The Sunday Express published a special supplement Sunday, listing the 100 Greatest Homes in Britain. Residing at No.14 is Mr. Bernie Ecclestone with his London home at Kensington Palace Gardens. When 18/19 Kensington Palace Gardens went on the market in July 2001 it became the most expensive house in London ever to be put on the open market. Initial reports that the price tag was £65m were a tad out, as the agents FPD Savills revealed the asking price was actually £85m ($132m).  The house was sold by Iranian philanthropist Dr David Khalili who bought the then two run down embassies in 1992, knocked them into one and had them restored costing an estimated £40m.

4/14/03

Zanardi will drive in Germany  It has been discussed previously, but now we here the money is there and Alex Zanardi will drive a special Champ Car with hand controls for the accelerator at EuroSpeedway this year and complete the 13 laps he did not finish in 2001.His run will occur prior to the main race.  We hear he will brake with his artificial legs and will drive the laps at speed.  Mark C.

4/14/03
Industry News

Octagon motorsports rebrands   The brand name Octagon Motorsports is being ditched in a bid to put distance between the separately run division of sports marketing giant Octagon. The financially-troubled unit is changing its name as of today in a bid to 'eliminate confusion and differentiate the division from other areas of sports marketing covered so successfully by the Octagon Group'. The unit will now revert back to its original name - Brands Hatch Circuits Limited. In a statement, Octagon said the company was keen to 'confirm that the change of name will not alter the fact that all individual circuits within the group will continue to operate under their own identities'. Said managing director of Brands Hatch Circuits Limited, Andrew Waller: “The Brands Hatch name is synonymous with British motorsport. "This decision presents an opportunity to demarcate the different offerings of the Octagon Group and the division now named Brands Hatch Circuits Limited.”

4/14/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Teams Still Struggling In 2003
Giancarlo's Luck Is Changing
Jacques Looks For Imola Podium
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McLaren Welcome New Ferrari Delay
DC Wants Equal Opportunity
Sato Expects BAR Race Seat
BAR Eye Double Points Finish
Rulebook Debate Heads To Imola
F1's Pressure Got To Jungle-Boy
Rubens Defends 'Old' Ferrari
Montoya Slams Internal Criticism
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Trulli: A Lifetime Of Pitstops
Boss Delays Assessment Of Rules
Race-Winning Jordan, Not Minardi

4/14/03

Sauber signs teenage test driver  Swiss team Sauber has signed national rookie talent Neel Jani as a test driver. The 19-year-old will get his first chance at the wheel of Sauber’s C22 as early as Tuesday of next week in a straight-line test on the Variano (Italy) track. ‘Having watched Neel’s career for quite some time, I got to know him better last year,’ said team boss Peter Sauber. ‘There's no doubt that Neel has a lot of talent, and I feel that the time has come to give him this chance.’ Jani is contesting the international Formula Renault championship this year and won the first two races in Barcelona little more than a week ago. ‘Every young racer sets his sights on Formula One so this represents a unique opportunity for me,’ said the teenage Swiss. ‘Being given this chance by the Swiss Formula One team, to me, has a very special meaning.’

4/14/03

Long Beach dates set through 2010  A little birdie tells us that the Long Beach folks already have their dates set for their CART race through 2010.  We also heard that the phones were ringing off the hook in the box office, many of which were a large number of first time ticket purchasers this year, and fans who had not been since the early '90s that were excited, wanted to know more, and were enthusiastic to be going to the event again. Apparently, by virtue of the re-birth of the series, and the addition of new sponsors, they are seeing a marked upturn in the number of new and first time fans.  Mark C.

4/14/03

Indy looks doubtful for Andretti  A new set of Indy Racing League rules probably will prevent John Andretti from competing in the Indianapolis 500 next month. The driver of the #43 Cheerios Dodge for Petty Enterprises wanted to race against his cousin Michael, who will be driving in his final Indy 500. "Right now, the IRL basically is in a state of transition in that they've got new engine programs, chassis and a lot of new teams, too," said Andretti, the first driver to race the 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day in 1994. "The biggest issue is, is there going to be enough equipment? . . . It doesn't look strong [for attempting the race], but the possibility is still there." Richmond Times Dispatch

4/13/03

Japan bruises the IRL   This Indy Star article says, The Indy Racing League wanted to get home from its first overseas race in one piece. It couldn't. The inaugural Indy Japan 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi speedway in central Japan was a crashfest today that broke cars, drivers and momentum for teams heading to next month's Indianapolis 500. There were eight accidents among 12 drivers. Tony Kanaan, who came in as the series points leader, departed with a radial fracture of his left arm that might keep him out of action in May. He will be reevaluated upon getting to Indianapolis Monday night. Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Jaques Lazier also have pain to fight off as the countdown to the 500 begins in earnest next week with testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That it was Scott Sharp celebrating in victory lane was the most surprising. The former IRL co-champion led on three occasions for 26 laps but never made a pass for the lead. Twice Kanaan pitted ahead of him; the other time Kanaan crashed. Sharp was trailing Kanaan and Dixon on lap 178 when Dixon made a bold move for the lead as they screamed down the backstretch. But Dixon ran out of room as he reached the turning point, and his momentum drifted him into Kanaan in the outside lane. The wheel contact shot them abruptly to the concrete wall, and the impact was fierce. Both drivers left the circuit in an ambulance. Dixon had pain in his right wrist, but he was treated at the track's infield care center and released after the race. Castroneves, the two-time defending Indy winner, nearly had his bid for a third consecutive Borg-Warner trophy end against Motegi's second-turn wall. He got collected by rookie Roger Yasukawa, who lost control of his car as Kanaan overtook him on lap 46. "I tried to go to the outside, but then (Yasukawa) just got me," said Castroneves, who received an abrasion on the top of his left foot and a swollen right elbow. "There's nothing you can do at those speeds." Other drivers felt the helpless feeling, too. Single-car accidents belonged to Alex Barron, Tomas Scheckter and rookies Scott Mayer and A.J. Foyt IV. The contact of Sarah Fisher and Shigeaki Hattori stopped Fisher's run against the fourth-turn wall. Shinji Nakano spun in front of Lazier, creating the yellow flag on lap 193 that allowed Sharp to skate home free without a late challenge from Felipe Giaffone. Sharp didn't think Giaffone had the muscle to catch him, but Giaffone and the crowd estimated at 40,000 were eager to find out. "We put our best set of tires on at the end, and no one was going to catch me," said Sharp, who admitted he wasn't going to catch Dixon and/or Kanaan, the speed demons of the IRL so far this season. Giaffone finished third because race officials ruled that his pass of Kenny Brack came after the yellow light came on for the Nakano-Lazier accident. Lazier suffered a right knee abrasion. Like Kanaan and Dixon, Scheckter looked worthy of a win until he found the outside wall. He was battling Kanaan when he drifted high trying to lap Al Unser Jr. and hit the fourth-turn wall on lap 168. Blaming Unser might not be fair, however. The caution light came on just ahead of Scheckter's accident as Alex Barron slid into the fourth-turn wall. "The car just went straight," said Barron, who was replacing the injured Gil de Ferran (fractured vertebrae) at Team Penske. Said Scheckter: "I'm angry at the moment, but I feel very sorry for the (Ganassi) team. It was an easy race on my part to drive. I didn't (see) the yellow." The eight accidents produced 64 yellow-flag laps. Only 11 of the 24 cars were running at the finish, and only five of those were on the lead lap at the end of the race. But the season's third event also included 14 lead changes among six drivers, making it the most entertaining, if not the most painful, race of the year.

4/13/03

Said wins Trans-Am race  There was one thing missing from Boris Said’s lengthy resume, and that was victory at Long Beach. Said rectified that situation Sunday by winning his first race at the storied temporary street course. Said (No. 33 New Century Mortage/Hitachi Ford Mustang) passed Scott Pruett for the lead in turn eight on lap 47 and held on for the 4.296-second margin of victory in the 75-minute timed event. Johnny Miller (No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR) finished second, ahead of Scott Pruett, who had led every lap to that point from the pole in his No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR. Paul Gentilozzi finished fourth after setting the fastest race lap, an event record 1:22.025 at 86.374 miles per hour. Rookie Jorge Diaz, Jr. completed the top five. “Me and Scott were using our cars up a little too much at the beginning,” said Said, who recorded his 12th Series victory. “I think I just had a little more Ford Mustang at the end.”  The results from Sunday's 51-lap, 100.368 mile Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup race No. 2, at Long Beach, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, car, laps completed and reason out if any. 1. (2), Boris Said, Ford Mustang, 51, Running.
2. (5), Johnny Miller, Jaguar XKR, 51, Running.
3. (1), Scott Pruett, Jaguar XKR, 51, Running.
4. (3), Paul Gentilozzi, Jaguar XKR, 51, Running.
5. (9), Jorge Diaz, Jr., Jaguar XKR, 51, Running.
6. (6), Stuart Hayner, Chevrolet Corvette, 51, Running.
7. (10), Greg Pickett, Chevrolet Corvette, 51, Running.
8. (8), Bobby Sak, Chevrolet Corvette, 51, Running.
9. (4), Michael Lewis, Jaguar XKR, 51, Running.
10. (19), Joey Scarallo, Chevrolet Corvette, 49, Running

4/13/03

Hearing good things about Milwaukee   We hear that fans are not going to recognize Milwaukee this year.  New grandstands, a night race, concerts, fireworks and other fan amenities. Excitement is apparently building and it's said this will be the rebirth of one of America's most historic tracks.

4/13/03

Latinos a big part of Long Beach success   This LA Times article says, Long Beach organizers say about 25% of those attending race weekend are Latino. Adrian Fernandez's legacy as a pioneer in Mexican racing has been galvanized by his role in helping mold CART in ways not usually shaped by drivers. It was Fernandez who worked hard to get a race in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2001, where more than 318,000 attended during the race weekend, 116,000 on race day. Success in Monterrey spawned a race in Mexico City in 2002, and now two other Mexican cities -- Cancun is said to be one of them -- have requested a third race. The CART series, prematurely written off after the exodus of owners and manufacturers to the Indy Racing League, now has Mexico written all over it. "There's no doubt in my mind that if Adrian hadn't been there, there would be zero Mexican cars, sponsors and drivers in the series," said Bobby Rahal, who owns a car sponsored by Mexican supermarket chain Gigante and driven by Mexico City native Michel Jourdain Jr. "As an ambassador, as an influencer in racing and particularly in the Spanish communities in the future ... he can be as big as he wants to be. "His role and his impact on racing in North America will go far beyond the Mexican borders." "In the modern-day world of marketing, Adrian led the way," Pook said. "He wrote the book on how to do it." Nobody is calling Fernandez the most influential driver in CART's history -- that honor probably belongs to Mario Andretti -- but Jordain credits Fernandez for steadying CART in its darkest hour. "Hopefully we can say 20 years from now that CART survived because of what Adrian started," Jordain said. Four years ago, Grand Prix Assn. of Long Beach President Jim Michaelian noticed that 4% of those who purchased tickets from his organization had Spanish surnames. "We began to involve Adrian in a number of in-person promotions, began advertising substantially in the Hispanic media, and over four years, [24.5%] of our ticket buyers have a Hispanic surname, which is a phenomenal growth pattern," Michaelian said. The byproduct is that Mexican sponsors can target the Latino market, as well as a large non-Latino market, especially as it branches into the U.S., Canada and Europe. Tecate is locked in an international beer war with Corona that rivals the Budweiser-Miller rivalry. Tecate this year became the Grand Prix's official beer. Corona sponsors the car driven by Rodolfo Lavin. Herdez, a maker of canned goods, is also international in scope and sponsors two cars.....Latinos are 13.2% of the U.S. population, a segment growing at four times the national average that has surpassed African Americans (12.7%) as the largest minority group in the U.S. -- one with more than $452 billion in disposable income. "It's a vibrant economy, extremely closely tied to the U.S. socially, financially and culturally," Rahal said. "It's the second-largest population by group -- how can you ignore that? "This is not some second-rate effort. It's no different than working with well-known American companies like Miller [which sponsors Rahal's IRL car driven by Kenny Brack]. In some ways, I think they're much more imaginative about how to derive value from the [racing] program than some U.S.-based companies we've had in the past." That value is likely to expand. "We're getting back more than that just in media presence," said Jorge Quintanilla, director of Gigante Racing, which spends between $10 million and $15 million annually. "Michel [Jordain] is becoming an idol in Mexico. Every time his name is mentioned, we're leveraging from it. "I'm sure sponsorship involvement of Mexican companies is going to increase," Quintanilla said, noting that even in a flat economy Gigante is getting a great return on its dollar, and that racing and CART have "become a great media for us......Fernandez says he has at least two or three more years in him as a driver. When he retires, he anticipates broadening his scope of influence among younger drivers in the junior formulas. As a team owner, his goal is to make things easier for those who follow his tracks. "I'm here to make sure that other kids are successful," Fernandez said. "That's what I'd be happiest with. I'm here to help the next generation. "I'm not here to say that I'm the guy who saved CART."

4/13/03

Date set for 2004 GP of Long Beach   Next years Toyota GP of Long Beach will be held April 16 to 18, 2004.  This years race was a week before Easter Sunday, next year a week after.  Mark your calendars.

4/13/03

EuroSpeedway update   UPDATE We spoke to Mr. Fischer again today and he informed us tickets sales have now reached 46,000.  We said he expects a lot more to be sold between now and race day, with a big walkup crowd expected.  We asked about a rain date.  He told us they looked at the 100-year history of weather on May 11th and they do not expect it to rain.  If by chance it does, the race will be forced to run on Monday.  4/12/03 - EuroSpeedway President Han-Jorge Fischer reports that advance Sunday ticket sales for CART's Champ Car race on May 11th has surpassed 40,000.  This is far short of the 87,000 on race day in 2001, but considering last years race was cancelled, Fisher is somewhat pleased.  It is expected they will sell a lot more tickets between now and race day, but suffice it to say they won't reach the 2001 level.

4/13/03

CART hosts urban racing seminar   UPDATE As it turns out, 8 of the 20 cities/municipalities represented were potential new venues for CART, some in North America and  some overseas.  We hear they were most impressed with what they saw at Long Beach (full grandstands, enthusiastic crowd, party atmosphere, smiles on peoples faces, etc.), so one might expect them to be clamoring for a race date before long.  Mark C. 4/13/03 - The Champ Car World Series conducts high-profile racing events in the heart of many of the major urban markets both home and abroad, but is not content with playing a pat hand. The series hosted an Urban Racing Seminar Friday at Long Beach in order to give representatives from new prospective host cities the chance to see what happens behind the scenes at a Champ Car event. Champ Car executives, representatives from tracks and events around the series, sponsors and city service officials all made presentations during a six-hour meeting, giving representatives from 20 cities and regions the inside story on what it takes to put on an event like this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Champ Car CEO and President Christopher R. Pook opened the program with a welcome speech, and then gave way to speakers that showed how a Champ Car event can impact a city economically, and also demonstrated the marketing opportunities that a race can bring to a city. Presentations on everything from getting local businesses involved to activating the local market media were given to the assembled dignitaries, and was topped by a keynote speech from the Honorable Beverly O’Neill, the Mayor of Long Beach. “It is important that we do not rest with the successful markets that we already have,” said Pook. “I am very impressed with the turnout that we had at this event and I am hopeful that many new events will blossom out of this seminar.” The city representatives then spent all day Saturday in the Champ Car paddock area as teams prepared for Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, engaging in private meetings and talking to fans as they all look to build a fit for their markets in the Champ Car World Series.

4/13/03

We have winners   Congratulations to Gary Parravani and Eric Zhenbauer for getting the correct answers to our name that historic car contest.
1) 1968 Ferrari Amon
2) 1981 Theodore Tambay
3) 1971 Tyrrell Stewart
4) 1978 Lotus Andretti
5) 1983 Williams Rosberg
6) 1982 Tyrrell Alboreto
7) 1980 Williams Alan Jones
8) 1978 Arrows Patrese
9) 1982 March Mass/Boesel
10) 1983 Williams Lafitte
11) 1980 Ferrari Villeneuve
12) 1978 Wolf Scheckter/Rahal
13) 1974 March Stuck
14) 1976 Shadow Pryce
15) 1976 McLaren mass
16) 1976 march Brambilla
17) 1975 Shadow Pryce
18) 1975 Vels Parnelli Andretti
19) same as above
20) 1971 Tyrrell Cevert
21) 1970 Brabham Brabham
22) 1976 Penske Watson

4/13/03

CART attendance at Long Beach up   Chris Pook stated to one of our colleagues today that race day attendance at Long Beach was between 90,000 and 100,000.  The grandstands certainly looked fuller than 2002, but two grandstands were eliminated due to construction.  We were told additional seats were added elsewhere to make up the difference, but we are not sure where.

4/13/03

NASCAR to add more wheel tethers  NASCAR has responded to the potential danger created by last week's massive race accident at Talladega Superspeedway by requiring teams to add new wheel restraints to their cars. A second set of wheel tethers _ added to the already-required pieces on each wheel _ will be required on the front wheels of race cars at all tracks 1.25 miles and longer. The new rule is in response to Ryan Newman's spectacular wreck at Talladega last Sunday. Newman's Dodge blew a tire, sending him into a spin and hard into the outside wall, sparking a 27-car accident. Despite being tethered to the car, Newman's left front tire broke free and sailed over the outside wall, coming to a stop outside the track in an area free of spectators.

4/13/03

Allmendinger wins first career Toyota Atlantic race  In a dominating weekend for the first-year RuSPORT team, rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT) picked up his first career CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race victory in just his second start in today's Argent Mortgage Company Toyota Atlantic Race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. After winning the $1,000 Toyota Pole Award, Allmendinger got the drop on teammate Aaron Justus (#3 RuSPORT) going into the Turn 1 on the opening lap to take the lead, and went on to lead every lap en route to a 2.379-second victory over Justus. In the process, Allmendinger became the quickest driver to win his first Toyota Atlantic race since '02 series champion Jon Fogarty won in his first start in the 2002 season opener at Monterrey, Mexico. The second place result for Justus was a CART Toyota Atlantic Championship career best result, topping his previous best finish of fifth in the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix three weeks ago. It was the 2000 U.S. Formula Ford 2000 national champion's fifth career start in Toyota Atlantic, and the 1-2 finish capped a dream weekend for the newly-formed RuSPORT team.

4/13/03

Hollywood stars turn out at Long Beach   In the land of stars, no place shined brighter on this weekend than the 29th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Several Hollywood celebrities have been among the tens of thousands of fans enjoying the stars of the Champ Car World Series, the Toyota Atlantics, Trans Am Series, vintage Formula 1 cars and, of course, the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race. Traditionally, the Grand Prix has been a mecca of entertainment for the glitterati, and the 29th annual race down the streets of Long Beach has continued this heritage. Luke & Owen Wilson, Luke Perry, Steven Dorf, Larry Wilcox and George Eads were all on had to watch the likes of Champ Car drivers Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser and Adrian Fernandez roar down Shoreline Drive during the weekend. And, making his way through the paddock on his scooter has been Paul Newman, co-owner of CART Champ Car Team Newman-Haas racing. Luke Wilson's movie credits include "Legally Blonde," "Full Throttle" and both Charlie’s Angels films, Owen played Roy O'Bannon in "Shanghai Noon" and the sequel "Shanghai Knights," Lt. Chris Brunett in "Behind Enemy Lines" and Deacon Frost in "Blade." Perry is best known for his role of Dillon McKay on the hit TV series "90210." He also appears on the HBO series "Oz." Eads plays crime investigator Nick Stokes on the popular TV show "CSI." Wilcox patrolled the California highways as Officer John Baker in "CHiPs."

4/13/03

Ecclestone closer to CART   Speculation about the future of the CART Champ Car World Series is reaching a near fevered pitch here at its most successful American venue. As reported first in The Toronto Sun late in 2002 (actually first reported by AUtoRacing1.com before that), most of the talk surrounds the role Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone will have in the series after this season. Sources told The Sun that Ecclestone will buy majority control of CART then take it private, keeping it's financial affairs away from the prying eyes of both rivals and critics. Ecclestone, sources say, feels that many of CART's problems are a result of having to report all of its business to a regulator -- in this case the Securities and Exchange Commission. Such pressures -- when twinned with a faltering American economy -- lead four of CART's top teams, and many more of its top drivers, to defect to the Indy Racing League in the past two seasons. Share prices in CART have gone from a high of more than $15 US a year ago to close at just $3.62 yesterday. The scenario painted yesterday in the Long Beach Press-Telegram had CART board of directors starting a process at its planned meeting on April 22 allowing Ecclestone to bypass a poison pill provision which limits shareholders from controlling more than 24.9% of the stock. CART's current leading shareholder -- Chicago industrialist Gerry Forsythe -- has publicly endorsed this plan as have several other team owners including Craig Pollock, who also has financial interests in F-1's British American Racing team. "It's clear something is going on," Stephan Johansson, a former F-1 driver and current CART team owner, said yesterday. "If something were to happen it would be great."   Toronto Sun

4/13/03

Toyota Celebrity race another hit   Peter Reckell drove a Toyota Celica to victory in Saturday’s annual Pro Celebrity race on the Long Beach Street course. ‘Monster Garage’ host Jesse James finished second with ‘The Man Show’s’ Adam Carolla third. Reckell earned the PEOPLE magazine pole award, then held off a charge from James that featured several instances of contact. “That was the most fun I’ve ever had!” exclaimed Reckell after 10 laps of sheet-metal bending action. “Never in our wildest dreams could I imagine this happening.”

4/13/03

Ron and Frank may drop arbitration case  Ron Dennis has hinted that he and Sir Frank Williams might drop their arbitration action against the FIA, something they started to threaten on the 20th of February, provided its president, Max Mosley, is ready to discuss a compromise. According to reports in Autosport, Dennis admitted that after some very constructive conversations with the FIA and some of their colleagues, he is optimistic of a satisfactory conclusion for all concerned. “Arbitration is a costly, time-consuming process that we would certainly prefer to avoid, but we have to achieve a satisfactory position for the teams and, until then, we will go through the long drawn-out process,” he said. “But we've had very constructive dialogue with the FIA and some other teams and I'm optimistic we'll find a good way forward.”

4/13/03

Kanaan breaks arm in Motegi accident  IRL IndyCar Series standout Tony Kanaan suffered a radial fracture of his left arm in a two-car accident during the Indy Japan 300 on April 13 at Twin Ring Motegi, said Dr. Geoffrey Billows of the Indy Racing League medical staff. Kanaan is awake and alert at Dokkyo University Hospital in Tochigi, Japan, Billows said. X-rays on Kanaan’s legs were negative, Billows said. Brazilian native Kanaan and pole sitter Scott Dixon collided and crashed in Turn 3 on Lap 178 while dueling for the lead. Kanaan, who started second, was credited with 14th place in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone.  We hear Kanaan's legs are pretty tore up though, because suspension pieces penetrated the cockpit.  He also broke the same arm in Detroit a couple of years ago.

4/12/03

Ferrari delay rollout of new car  Ferrari will delay the introduction of its all-new, innovative F2003-GA racer, despite failing to win so far with the older version. A team spokesman said, 'We will race [at Imola] with the old car, our goal now is to bring the new one into service at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.'  Ferrari’s press release from Friday testing at Mugello would have us all believe that the race distance planned for the F2003-GA was ruined by heavy rain But this was not the case as the Italian media reports that the test was over after an early engine failure for Barrichello. Ferrari flew in another engine by helicopter from Maranello but only the afternoon remained to get the car on track and this was not enough time.

4/12/03

Allmendinger wins first career pole  After losing his opportunity to win the race due to an incident on the opening lap of the 2003 season opener in Monterrey, rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT) went a long way toward putting those painful memories behind him today in final qualifying for the Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic Race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Allmendinger broke the one-day-old track record held by his RuSPORT teammate, Aaron Justus (#3 RuSPORT), to put his car on the pole position with a best lap of 1:16.267 (92.895 mph). It was the second time in as many Toyota Atlantic races in which the rookie has qualified inside the top three positions, and was the quickest a rookie has qualified on the pole since Mexican Luis Diaz (#33 Telmex/Dorricott Racing) took the pole in his first series start in Monterrey last year. As a result of Allmendinger's performance, Justus was relegated to the outside of the front row with yesterday's lap at 1:17.260 (91.701 mph). It was the first time that teammates swept the front row since Dorricott Racing teammates Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney qualified 1-2 at Toronto in 2002. On his "out lap" to begin the qualifying session, Justus made light contact with the wall in the hairpin in Turn 11 and missed the early stages of the session as his team made the necessary repairs. He finally turned a lap faster than his provisional pole speed with six minutes remaining in the session, but could only muster the fifth fastest speed of the day. He was guaranteed a front row starting position based on the fact that he qualified on the provisional pole.

4/12/03

Scenes from Long Beach   Our photographer on site at Long Beach this weekend is Bob Heathcote. 

He files these photos from Thursday.

He files these photos from Friday

He files these photos from Saturday

4/12/03

Fuel problems for NASCAR?  Sources at Talladega Superspeedway told teamfordracing.com that the fuel Unocal has provided since the announcement that they were leaving the sport might have some consistency problems. This, according to a leading engine builder in the sport, is leading to some interesting finds during post-race engine tear down. “We’ve even questioned here lately with Unocal moving out how the fuel … We’ve seen some funny things on our parts after the race and for some of us fuel quality is changing on us,” said the engine builder. “So yeah, it’s a big issue and we’ve been talking about it quite a bit.” Fuel is a vital part of the Winston Cup engine builder equation as the additive packages are what help hold a motor together during a race. Fuel chemistry changes can lead to premature part failure. NASCAR hasn’t let the teams know what will be pumping in 2003, which is making the engine builders nervous. Variances with the chemistry and consistency of blend will be needed soon as it can take six to nine months to match the engine package to the fuel package. One big question that’s not been answered is whether the fuel will be of a leaded blend, or no-lead. There is concern that if the sanctioning body goes the no-lead route that engine failure could rise dramatically due to leads lubricity qualities, or the capacity for reducing friction. Unocal, along with NASCAR and the teams, tried a no-lead blend several years ago in the Busch Grand National Series. Those experiments ended after the exhaust valves beat the seats out of the head. Unocal, to help solve the problem, suggested that the teams move to titanium vales. That suggestion angered the involved engine builders as they’d been using titanium for several years, and were surprised that Unocal engineers seemingly didn’t know what was in a motor for which they were blending fuel.  Ford Racing

4/12/03

Foyt speaks out  A.J. Foyt Speaks Out: A.J. Foyt, a team owner in both the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series and NASCAR Winston Cup [#14 Harrah's Dodge which is sitting out this week at Martinsville], had harsh words for NASCAR on Saturday for its recent inconsistency in its rules. Foyt's comments stem from the yellow flag decision at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago, to last week's race-winning pass where Dale Earnhardt Jr. clearly went below the yellow out of bounds like to pass race leader Matt Kenseth. "More people are waking up to NASCAR, but they are afraid to speak out," Foyt said. "I have nothing to lose, either way. The yellow flag thing is a bad deal and one of these days, someone will get killed over it. I don't care what you write about. I call a spade a spade, good or bad. That's how I feel about plate racing. What has happened the last three weeks, it's something different every week. I think the world of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and I think the world of Tony Stewart, but whoever that judge was should be thrown out of the organization or should be the judge of a bathroom whether boys or girls go in. If he looks at the yellow line thing and says it was right, then he was wrong." Foyt was also steamed that NASCAR disqualified his son's [Larry Foyt, driver of the #14] qualification attempt last week at Talladega for a rules violation for being too low. Subsequently, Foyt did not make the 43-car starting lineup. "After what NASCAR did to me at Talladega last week, we didn't see any point in going up to Martinsville and tearing something up," Foyt said. "The deal they did to us at Talladega was a big (bleep)-off deal, so (bleep) them. I'm like Dale Earnhardt was when he was alive, those (bleeping) plate races (stink). NASCAR is so crooked. Whoever you are, I don't care what you say, if you can't see that, then you are blind. Why should you take out that many cars if you are racing?" Foyt believes it's time NASCAR recognize that restrictor-plate racing has only made the events at Daytona and Talladega more dangerous, rather than allow teams to race above 200 miles per hour and let the cars spread out more naturally rather than bunch them together. "All it is any more, restrictor-plate cars is a glorified IROC race, that's all it is," Foyt said. "If you are going to go racing, then go racing. But if you want an IROC race, then just call it an IROC race. I've never been for plate racing, I never will be. It's just like racing back to the yellow, I'm glad to see Jeff Gordon speak out against that. Racing shouldn't be who is a complete idiot on the yellow flag. It's a different ball game than it used to be. It's not getting any better, it's getting worse." Between yellow flags, yellow lines and other NASCAR inconsistencies, Foyt admits he is losing interest in what is currently the most popular form of racing in the United States. FoxSports/SportsTicker

4/12/03

Pruett wins Trans-Am pole  Scott Pruett continued his assault on the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup speed charts Saturday, earning the pole for Sunday’s Long Beach race during early morning qualifying Saturday. It was Pruett’s second-consecutive pole this season, after having earned the pole prior to winning the season opener at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in February.  The pole was the14th overall for the Jaguar XKR marque, placing Jaguar second in total Long Beach poles with three, just one short of the record held by Ford Motor Co. The pole also ties Rocketsports Racing with Roush Racing with four poles at Long Beach.  “The car is pretty good,” said the two-time Trans-Am Series Champion. “We focused on the race setup yesterday. I think we’re about 50 percent there. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, when you don’t have a lot of track time, you can’t make a lot of changes. But with the experience of the team and really playing off what Paul (Gentilozzi) has done with the team over the last couple of years, we’re able to see clearly what we need to do. We need to go back and fine tune some things for a good race.  “The tires are great,” added Pruett, who last won this race in 1987. “The car was balanced here, the same way as St. Pete. We came in with the same setup we had a St. Pete, and we’re making some changes this afternoon and see what we can come up with.”  Boris Said, who damaged his car in a crash during practice Friday, was second fastest in his No. 33 New Century Mortgage/Applied Computer Solutions Ford Mustang, with a 1:22.311 (86.074 mph). Defending Long Beach winner Paul Gentilozzi (No. 3 Design 500/Jaguar R Performance XKR) was third fastest (1:22.987/85.372 mph), but a ride-height violation was found in post-qualifying inspection. Gentilozzi will start at the back of the field, while Michael Lewis (No. 12 Trans-Am Tools by ProQuest Jaguar XKR) was elevated to third on the grid.

4/12/03

CART extends Surfers 5 years   On a weekend when the Champ Car World Series is busily conducting one of its premier North American street circuit events on the asphalt of Long Beach, it firmed up a deal that will ensure the continued tradition of an equally-successful street event in Australia. The future of the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia, was secured with the signing of a contract in California today enabling the event to be held for another five years, as the Deputy Premier and Minister for Sport Terry Mackenroth signed the Official Promoter’s Agreement with Champ Car CEO and President Christopher R. Pook, Lexmark Indy 300 General Manager James Ashworth and Lexmark Indy 300 Chairman, John Cowley, at Long Beach, site of this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The current contract covers the 2003 event, therefore the new agreement carries the race from 2004-08. “The event in Surfers Paradise has long been an example of how a race should be run and we are very pleased to be able to continue our relationship,” said Pook. “The event is extremely popular with our drivers, teams, sponsors and most importantly the public. The event is a very important part of our ongoing strategy to deliver key markets to our constituents and this agreement reflects the value that our series can deliver into a vital market such as the State of Queensland.” The Lexmark Indy 300 has run in the streets of the Queensland resort town for the past 12 seasons and the event has been breaking attendance records nearly every season, cementing its status as one of the highest-drawing events on the CART schedule. “Last year we reached an in-principle agreement for the next five years after 2003,” Mackenroth said. “After further negotiation we have now been able to formalize that agreement and I am pleased to announce that the running of the Lexmark Indy 300 until 2008 is assured. It is great news for the Gold Coast and great news for Queensland because this event is one of the most entertaining racing carnivals in the world.”

4/12/03

Weather forecast improves for LB   Saturday dawned bright and today in Long Beach with no rain in sight.  The forecast for Sunday has also improved, with the forecast now for rain to begin Sunday night.

4/12/03

Junqueira tops Saturday morning practice   Bruno Junqueira set the fastest lap of the weekend so far in Saturday morning's practice session, the first driver to dip below the 1:09 barrier, with a time of 1:08.898 (102.830mph).

4/12/03

Mosley to meet with teams  FIA President Max Mosley has scheduled a meeting with F1 team owners and then the media at Imola next weekend.  Topic of discussion - how well new F1 rules are working and the chance to express he does not support the GPWC.

4/12/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Button Slams Paul Ricard Safety
Fisichella Takes Belated GP Bow
Testing Concludes At Paul Ricard
Williams Make Step Forward
Panis Forgets Frustrating Test
McLaren First To Applaud Jordan Win
Stewards Prepare Interlagos Report
Honda Boost For Jacques And Jenson
Still Time To Buy F1 Driver
Williams Expect Difficult Imola Race

4/12/03

Rain washes out qualifying in Motegi  Scott Dixon was right, after all. The real work for the pole position for the Indy Japan 300 came during practice sessions at Twin Ring Motegi, not during MBNA Pole Qualifying. Heavy rain forced the cancellation of qualifying April 12 after just six of the 24 drivers made their qualifying runs, and Dixon earned the top starting spot. lineup

  Much More...click on 2002 archives button below
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