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DATE

News (chronologically)

4/29/03

Ricky Rudd on Carbon Monoxide poisoning  "We haven't seen any effects with Ricky or last year with Elliott. We try to seal our car up. We put a lot of emphasis on sealing the car up - all the cracks and crevices and holes that get in race cars as time goes on - and try to keep all of the air that's under the car from getting up inside, which would be from the exhaust. The air-conditioned system that blows air-conditioned air into the helmet does not block out carbon monoxide. I was told that recently, but I always thought if you had that clean air from the air-conditioning unit that it would clean that, but I've been told lately that it does not. I think that's something that just needs to be worked on and NASCAR is working on it. We get an update every now and then about what they're doing and what they're trying to figure out on it. With carbon monoxide you can't see it or smell it, so it's pretty hard to detect. I remember back when Dale Jarrett drove our car, he had a little paper filter that we would use and that seemed to help we thought. But I'm not sure anybody really has a fix for it. I've been told that pretty soon they're gonna have an answer for it."

4/29/03

NASCAR weekend a boon to Vegas  The 2003 NASCAR Weekend in Las Vegas had a $133 million impact on the local economy, the greatest impact in the six-year history of the event. And according to an economist at UNLV, the total effect was more than doubled that amount. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s annual study revealed that the final number of $133,451,000 was 9.9 percent greater than in 2002. The numbers are based on interviews with race fans during the March 1-2 weekend and reflect the amount of money spent – both gaming and non-gaming – during the four-day event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “Despite an impending war and a very difficult economy, NASCAR Weekend once again delivered an economic bonanza to Las Vegas,” said Las Vegas Motor Speedway general manager Chris Powell. “Given the uncertainty facing our nation between Feb. 27 and March 2, the fact that the total amount of revenue generated increased almost 10 percent is remarkable. This event has become one of the most anticipated stops on the NASCAR circuit for hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world.”  Growth:

Item

2001

2002

2003

since ‘02

Total event attendance

126,000

139,400

145,275

+ 4.2%

Out-of-town Visitors

78,875

89,250

97,075

+ 8.8%

Total expenditures

$97,163,700

$121,425,500

$133,451,000

+ 9.9%

4/29/03

Andretti's foiled Indy plan - what a pity  This Detroit Free Press article says, Watching NASCAR young gun Kurt Busch win effortlessly Sunday at Fontana, Calif., I thought again about Mario Andretti's wild ride at Indianapolis last week. Andretti, a grandfather five times over, had a much tougher time of things. During a practice run, his car flipped after he ran over debris from a Kenny Brack accident. Andretti was driving son Michael's new Dallara/Honda at more than 200 m.p.h. Andretti, 63, walked away without injury, his ego bruised but body intact. Most calls I took that evening were about Mario's Big One.   More...

4/29/03

Bid launched to save Rio track.  Will CART ever return?  According to Autosport, fears that the Rio Jacarepagua circuit will be lost to a housing development have been alleviated following moves by the country's motorsport federation.  The Pan-American Federation Games, which are due to take place in Rio in 2007, will now be held at the track, and the area around the circuit will be developed with new buildings, making it more attractive as a motor racing venue.  CART had a sellout crowd the last time it raced there.  The plan was to race on the road course in 2001 when the race was cancelled.  We believe the road course would attract even more fans because Brazilian fans are road racing fans, first and foremost.

4/29/03

Salazar gets ALMS ride  JMB Racing USA and Eliseo Salazar, the Chilean motor sports star, announced today that he will be driving for the JMB Racing USA Team in the American Le Mans Series. Starting at the Atlanta Grand Prix at Road Atlanta on June 29th, he will join Stephan Gregoire at the wheel of the team’s Ferrari 360 Modena GT for the remainder of the ALMS season.  “ I am really looking forward to this season with JMB Racing USA. The JMB Racing Team has had many sports car successes with Ferrari and I felt that coupled with my past success with Ferrari, it would be a great match for me,“ Salazar said. Salazar drove the Ferrari 333SP Prototype for Team Momo and went on to win three of seven starts in the IMSA World Sports Car Championships in 1994, winning consecutive races from the pole position at Lime Rock, Watkins Glen and Indianapolis Raceway Park.

4/29/03

Family 4-pack back at TMS  The Albertsons "Family 4-Pack" returns for the second time this season during "America's Original Nighttime IndyCar Series Race" at Texas Motor Speedway for the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series June 5-7. The Albertsons "Family 4 Pack" once again offers four reserved frontstretch tickets to either the Bombardier 500k IRL IndyCar Series event on Saturday night, June 7 or the O'Reilly 400k NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event on Friday night, June 6, four hot dogs, four Coca-Colas and four Keebler snacks for only $79. This represents a savings of $113 over the retail value if purchased separately. The coupon, along with two UPC codes from Keebler or Cheez-It snack products 8 ounces or larger, must be presented for the special price at the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office in advance or at Gate Five on race day. Coupons redeemable for the "Family 4 Pack" are currently available at participating Albertsons grocery stores throughout North Texas. A list of participating locations will soon be available at www.texasmotorspeedway.com.

4/29/03

FOX to promote Grand-Am internationally  Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson announced today that an agreement has been reached with Fox Sports International to promote Grand American's television properties internationally. Fox will assist in the marketing and coordination of international television distribution for Grand American Road Racing Association and its Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup Series. In its fourth year of offering championship road racing throughout North America, interest in Grand American Road Racing from abroad has been steady since the beginning. "The Rolex 24 At Daytona has always had a big international appeal," Edmondson noted. "On top of that, we have teams and drivers from around the world who regularly compete in our series. Their fans back home are accustomed to following their favorite drivers on television."

4/29/03

Road America announces changes for the Carousel turn  Road America is creating a new, optional configuration that will incorporate a new turn, tentatively called The Bend (Turn 10A), at the end of the Carousel, Turns 9-10, which will provide a new entry angle to Turn 11, according to George Bruggenthies, president and general manager. The Bend, which will slow vehicles entering Turn 11, also called the Kink, is expected to be available for use during the 2003 race season. The original course will not be altered and will be used for most events.

4/29/03

Teams get workout at TMS  Three of the biggest names in the IRL IndyCar Series – Helio Castroneves, Sam Hornish Jr. and Greg Ray – tested April 28 (and today too) at Texas Motor Speedway, site of the Bombardier 500 on June 7 and the season-ending Chevy 500 on Oct. 12. Two-time defending Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves tested his No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone on the 1.5-mile oval. Castroneves tested tires for Firestone, the exclusive tire of the Indy Racing League and the only tire to compete in all 74 IndyCar Series events since the series’ inception in 1996. Weather for the test was cloudy with temperatures reaching 75 degrees. “They (Firestone) want to see the conditions with hot weather,” Castroneves said. “Firestone is always working with the drivers, trying to improve their tires.” Firestone officials indicated that the tires used in the test were being developed for the Bombardier 500 on June 7, the race after the Indianapolis 500. Two-time defending series champion Hornish tested the No. 98 Pedigo Chevrolet Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone rather than his normal No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Former Texas winner Billy Boat will drive the No. 98 at the Indianapolis 500, where he will serve as Hornish’s teammate. “Our team hasn’t been to test at any high-banked mile-and-half tracks with the new chassis and engine,” Hornish said. “We want to see what we have to work with.”

4/29/03

F1 sponsorship packages  Here are some interesting figures from the latest Euro Business Magazine regarding F1 team sponsorship.  Some is hard money, or "direct" money, i.e. cash in hand.  Other is soft money, i.e. a trade for something else, possibly with another sponsor or with the team.

Total Sponsorship Value (Direct and Trade)

FERRARI Total direct cash/trade support/other income $306.20 Million

McLAREN $290.60 Million

TOYOTA $281.50 Million;

RENAULT $256.60 Million;

WILLIAMS $244.65 Million

JORDAN: $59.8 Million

MINARDI $44.65 Million

Largest "Direct" Team Sponsors

FERRARI: Marlboro $66 Million; Shell $26Million; Bridgestone $2Million;

WILLIAMS: Alianz $18Mil; HP $35Mil; Castrol $15Mil; Reuters $3Mil; Fed Ex $6.5 Mil

McLAREN: Mobil $27Mil, Boss $3Mil, Computer Assoc. $20Mil.

RENAULT: Renault $85Mil, Mild Seven $30 Mil
SAUBER: Red Bull $12Mil; Petronas $18Mil Credit Suisse $17Mil
JORDAN:  Benson & Hedges and others $22 Mil

4/29/03

Ecclestone believes in dictatorship  Bernie Ecclestone has criticized the major car manufacturers for trying to change the sport, and has hit out at the teams for wanting more say in how F1 is run. "The carmakers should not get involved in Formula 1 too much," Ecclestone told the German magazine Sport Bild.  "Their executives are only interested in winning. If they don't they lose interest at some stage." "They are only concerned about what advantages they could have for the next race," he said. "They never think about the next season and they never think about the sport." “The teams now want more democracy. In my opinion it cannot work. As far as Formula 1 goes, I believe in dictatorship."

4/29/03

Petty news  Kyle Petty has met fabricator Ray Hudson at 8 o'clock in the morning more than once but their meeting Wednesday, April 30, will be a little bit different.   Petty, CEO of Petty Enterprises, will meet Hudson at mile marker 51.7 of the Blue Ride Parkway (where it crosses the Appalachian Trail) at 8 a.m. Wednesday to show his support for the avid hiker. Hudson, a shop fabricator at Petty Enterprises with over 25 years of work history at Petty, has embarked on his life-long dream to hike the Appalachian Trail while supporting Petty's dream to build The Victory Junction Gang Camp. Hudson has received pledges for every mile he hikes on the Trail, all proceeds going to The Victory Junction Gang Camp. Hudson began the 2,171-mile hike from Springer Mountain, GA,, on March 1, and hopes to reach the finish line at Baxter State Park , Me., by Aug. 1. Petty's visit will provide moral support, not to mention a rare opportunity for a hot breakfast. Hudson could raise as much as $25,000 by completing the incredible journey. "I think it is really awesome for Ray to fulfill his childhood dream and hike the trail," said Kyle Petty, co-founder of the Victory Junction Gang Camp. "I know what it is like to ride a motorcycle for 2,100 miles; I can't imagine hiking over 2,100 miles through the mountains." Leaving his family and job at Petty Enterprises for six-months in order to complete the trail, Ray has currently raised over $8,000 for Victory Junction. Friends and family from around the country have made donations and pledges based on the number of miles Hudson completes. For more information about where to meet Hudson and Petty can be found at www.blueridgeparkway.org

4/29/03

GP of the Americas to be seen by large worldwide audience  The Grand Prix Americas, which takes place on September 26-28, 2003 in the streets of Downtown Miami and Bayfront Park, could reach close to 400 million television viewers in over 150 countries, according to 2002 figures. Nationally, last year’s Grand Prix Americas’ Champ Car event received a rating of 1.4 with a 3 share on CBS, reaching 1,449,000 households, CART’s highest television rating of the season. Locally, the inaugural race was shown on tape-delay, due to the live telecast of the Miami Dolphins game, and received a rating of 6.7. "This is the kind of coverage any city would love to have,” said Chuck M. Martinez, president and general manager, Grand Prix Americas. “We are very fortunate to have two major series providing such widespread exposure to the beautiful City of Miami." Each event on the Champ Car World Series schedule alone is expected to reach over 365 million homes worldwide in 2003. This season, the combination of ALMS and Champ Car races will be seen everywhere from Europe to South America in networks such as Fox Sports en Español, Televisa and TV Azteca in Mexico, RedeTV in Brazil, Eurosport in Europe and TSN and Global in Canada through a combination of live feeds, tape-delays and highlight shows. Nationally, the American Le Mans Race will be broadcast by SPEED Channel and the Champ Car World Series by CBS.

4/29/03

Team Penske was using Traction Control since 1994 UPDATE A Team Penske Spokesperson writes, Dear AR1, I want to make a correction to your "Team Penske using traction control since 94" item. Paul Tracy is correct that he saw many new developments while driving for team Penske. We developed "Electronic boost control", "Traction Control" and "No lift shift" technology during the years he was with us. The first use of traction control was in 92 and in 93 it was used full season. After the 93 season CART made several rule changes that included banning Traction Control. It was not used in 94 although many people including CART thought we were. Mr. Penske always allowed us to take advantage of the rules where we could, but NEVER approved use of illegal items. Paul Rochotte, Penske Racing South  4/29/03 -  Paul Tracy stated during CART's Town Meeting in Milwaukee Monday night that when he was driving for Team Penske in 1994 they were already using a form of traction control, way before it was legalized in 2001.  As they say, it ain't cheating until you get caught. 

4/29/03

Dr. Olvey to speak at Cambridge  CART's Dr. Steve Olvey will speak this Thursday at the famed Cambridge University in England.  His topic will be the history of motorsports medicine.

4/29/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Schumacher Primed For New F2003-GA
Wilson Unsure Of Minardi Form
No Toyota Move For Schumacher
Webber Would Prefer 'The Swerve'
Pizzonia Will Race At Catalunya
F2003-GA Made For Bridgestone
Alonso Cautious For 'Home' Race
Jaguar Want Wurz, McLaren Confirm
Schumacher Thanks Fans For Support
Wilson Praise For 'Benchmark Jos'
No Wins Until July, Williams Admits
Sauber Duo Enjoy Catalan Challenge
Jaguar Crack Launch-Control Gremlin

4/29/03

CART will be meeting with European manufacturers  CART's Adam Saal stated Monday night that CART would be meeting with passenger car manufacturers and race engine manufacturers to discuss CART's 2005 engine package during their 10-day foray to Europe starting this coming weekend.  Adam stated that we have heard a lot about gasoline and V-10' but at the end of the day this business is about selling passenger cars and CART will attempt to do what the car manufacturers want.  As we here at AR1 have stated, if that is the case, and given that all the experts are saying, and trends are showing, that small gasoline turbo engines are the best for high power and high fuel mileage, CART will adopt a small 1.5 Liter displacement turbo engine, be it a V8 or a V10.  HP rise over time can be controlled with turbo boost and there is no reason why the engine platform would not last at least 10 years, probably 20.  Rules stability saves cost.

4/28/03
F3000

American Giebler lands F3000 drive  American driver Phil Giebler has just closed a deal that will see him drive in this weekend's FIA International F-3000 event in Barcelona, Spain. Giebler will be driving for David Sears Den Bla Avis Team, winners of the 2000 F3000 Championship with Bruno Junqueira. The event will be run in conjunction with The Formula One World Championship’s Spanish Grand Prix. Sears F3000 teams have won five championships in the past ten seasons and have brought the world such well known open wheel stars as: Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastien Bourdais, Mark Webber, Kenny Brack & Bruno Junqueira, three of whom were F3000 Champions. The other two were series runner-ups. All are front-runners in F1, CART and the IRL. ”This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me,” stated Phil, who went on to explain ”I think my story is pretty similar to just about any American currently trying to make it to the top of the open wheel pyramid - ¦not enough sponsorship. I moved to France in 1999 and have always run up front in the European junior ranks, I received a good bit of help from ELF and Renault in French F3(B) but when it came time for me to move up to F3 in 2001 both companies cut their budgets to the point that they could only afford to help French drivers. I have learned French, Spanish, a little German & am learning Italian.” ¦I have worked very hard and have never given up. After finishing well in last year’s Spanish F3 championship we had two very good opportunities in Euro F3000 and could simply not find enough money to run the season, so my back was against the wall.  "David's two 3000 teams are the Holy Grail for a driver like me but there was no way on earth we were going to be able to put together enough funding to run a season in International F3000. The funny thing is, the fact that money is so tight has actually helped me with this break because if funding were out there" this seat would have been gone in November. It's going to be tough because I'm going into a race having not tested with the team and I'll be running against several second year drivers." "Virtually everyone out there has had many days of 3000 testing and have already run one race. I'm not making excuses because my entire European career has been based around breaks like this one."  I'm fairly certain that the people who understand the series and know what I'm up against expect me to be fighting for sixteenth and I may very well be doing just that, but a break's a break and I will do everything in my power to make the most of it. I'm incredibly grateful to David Sears, the team, Steve Griggs, Nigel Hassler and my manager Donnie Graves for helping put this thing together so late in the game."

4/28/03

Brands Hatch live on FOX Spanish channel  For those of you who can't wait to see the CART Brands Hatch race on CBS the weekend following the race, according to www.cart.com the Brands Hatch race will be broadcast live 9:00 AM ET Monday May 5th on Fox Sports Espanola.

4/28/03

Saturday results upheld, Martin fined  The appeal submitted by Trackmagic Racing Karts after Kyle Martin’s disqualification from Saturday’s Stars of Tomorrow ICC main event was denied and the results are now official. Martin’s exhaust silencer became dislodged as a result of another competitor contacting his kart from behind. The resulting condition was deemed as being outside of Stars regulations. The appeal was reviewed by a three person board of experienced kart racing individuals not directly connected with the fundamental issues surrounding the incident. Martin was also fined $500 by Stars of Tomorrow for purposefully ignoring the black flag issued to him as a result of the mechanical condition of his kart. Stars has given Martin the option of donating the fine to the charity of his choice. “It is imperative that Stars enforce its rules fairly and consistently,” said Stars Operations Director Paul Zalud. “Kyle is a great competitor and asset to the series. He was running very well this weekend and we can understand his reluctance to give up the fight for a condition that was essentially caused by another competitor. Nevertheless, we were compelled to enforce our regulations and he was expected to heed them. “We cannot tolerate any deliberate disregard for our rules, most especially those coming from the race director during an event. We expect all competitors to take notice that Stars will react swiftly and strongly to any infractions in these areas.

4/28/03

Alonso & Speed take karting wins  Californian Andrew Alfonso came out on top after a thrilling five-way battle in the ICA race at the Snap-on Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow presented by RACER event Sunday at Buttonwillow Raceway. The JM Racing/Avanti driver made a late race pass on TNR Kartsport’s Chris Giumarra for the lead on lap 27 of the 30 lap affair. The race saw no fewer than five lead changes among four drivers. “Like Jean (team owner Jean Marchioni) told me, ‘be patient out there, save the tires and everyone else is going to come back to you.’ And it paid off with about five to go.”  Giumarra, winner in the first Stars race Saturday, established the lead early but was then passed by Joel Miller and Genesis Racing’s Chris Glover. Glover proceeded to pass Miller a few laps later. It didn’t last long, however, as a mid race tussle saw the Canadian relegated to fourth as Giumarra regained the lead with Miller in second and Alfonso in the third position. Two drivers in the ICC shifter class bounced back from adversity as KLS Racing’s Alex Speed earned the win and Trackmagic driver Kyle Martin finished third. Both drivers suffered mechanical disqualifications during Saturday action. Alan Sciuto, Saturday’s winner, finished second.

SATURDAY (April 26) RESULTS SUNDAY (April 27) RESULTS
ICC (125cc shifter) ICC (125cc shifter)
1. Alan Sciutto 1. Alex Speed
2. Jason Bowles 2. Alan Sciutto
3. Tom Dyer 3. Kyle Martin
ICA (100cc direct drive) ICA (100cc direct drive)
1. Chris Giumarra 1. Andrew Alfonso
2. Andrew Alfonso 2. Kevin Glover
3. Tyler Dueck 3. Joel Miller
ROTAX ROTAX
1. Clark Sanchez-Figuera 1. Clark Sanchez-Figuera
2. James Rooke 2. Kelsey Nash
3. Todd Del Vecchio 3. James Rooke
JR. SUPERBOX JR. SUPERBOX
1. Cole Whitt 1. Cole Nelson
2. Cole Nelson 2. James Kennedy
3. James Kennedy 3. Cole Whitt
80cc JUNIOR 80cc JUNIOR
1. Justin Moon 1. Cole Nelson
2. Cole Whitt 2. Cole Whitt
3. Jeremy Reagles 3. Matt Davis
GRAND PRODUCTS CADET (ages 8-12)GRAND PRODUCTS CADET (ages 8-12)
1. Jahana Mongul 1. Jahana Mongul
2. Gustavo Menezes 2. Jacob Neal
3. Dusty Davis 3. Miles Maroney

4/28/03

GM rep to Andretti team  Al Larsen, General Motors-Pontiac representative, will take a new job starting in two weeks, with Michael Andretti's Andretti Green IRL Indy Car team. Larsen will work his last NASCAR race this weekend at Richmond. A replacement for Larsen isn't known at this time. Insider Racing News

4/28/03

Fontana TV ratings down  Fox is going to need a boost from small markets if its ratings for Sunday's broadcast of the Auto Club 500 Winston Cup race at California Speedway are going to match last year's figures. Today's Sports Business Daily says Nielsen Media Research's overnight figures from the nation's largest markets show the race drew a 4.9 rating and an 11 share. While the ratings trail only Sunday's NBA playoff game between the Lakers and Timberwolves (5.3/12) among weekend telecasts of sporting events, they fall well short of the 5.9/13 that Fox drew in 2002 for the California race. Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter

4/28/03

A lap around Barcelona with Villeneuve  “You start with a long straight, which is normally a good thing for racing, but you don't have a heavy braking point at the end of the straight here: you have short braking into Elf - a right left combination. It's a corner that you have to turn into early, so it doesn't leave much room to try and out-brake someone. It's not an easy combination. Out of that you go straight into Renault - a high-speed uphill right-hander. It's a blind corner so you don't really see it. The track falls away from you so the car gets light in the middle. It's a very difficult corner and also very fast.” "Then you have a quick tap on the brakes into the next corner, Repsol. It's a heavy braking area but short, with a very early turn in. As soon as you turn in the corner opens up, so you can always go faster than it appears visually. It is a very bouncy corner because there are a lot of ripples in the asphalt. Following Repsol there is small acceleration into the Seat hairpin. There's nothing too special about it - it's just brake and turn and all downhill. Then you come to an interesting corner where the track drops as you turn in.” "The corner is slightly banked, and then at the apex the track starts to rise so the car gets pushed down. It's a corner that you can actually carry a lot of speed through but it's very difficult to get right. It's easy to lose a lot of time with the wrong set-up. After this you have a fun corner. You accelerate uphill and just at the top of the hill you don't actually have to brake - just a little lift in fourth or fifth gear for quite a quick right-hander, taken at around 200kmh. Campsa is an important corner as it gives speed on the back straight, which is another place where you can overtake, as there is a heavy braking point at the end of it into the slow La Caixa corner.” "Then you get into the last section of the track with the tight second corner, which is quite slow. It's slightly quicker than the other hairpin, but still very slow. Then it's a short acceleration into a long right-hander. It's slow again but very long and it's quite a hard corner to get right. Finally, you come to the last 2 corners, which are both fun. The first chink, before the pit entrance, is almost flat out in fourth or fifth gear. Then the last corner is just a little lift before you get in, so it's also very fast. It's an exciting corner, as it's one of the few in F1 that actually feels fast and gives you speed into the straight."

4/28/03

All-female crew a first  Seven Dallas-area women will make history at Texas Motor Speedway by competing against men in the pits of a NASCAR race. An all-female pit crew will work with driver Shawna Robinson in the O'Reilly 400. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races at TMS on June 6. It will be the first time an all-female pit crew has gone over the wall in a major NASCAR event.

4/28/03

Rocketsports Engineer update  The Rocketsports Champ Car team has recently recruited the expertise of engineers Adam Schaechter, formerly with Mo Nunn Racing and Reynard North America, and Will Phillips, from West Surrey Racing and Reynard. With extensive experience in mechanical design and engineering, the duo joined the Rocketsports effort at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and will travel to Europe with the team. Phillips and Schaechter's first impressions of the Rocketsports operation were very positive. "I came into the Rocketsports team and back into the Champ Car World Series after being away for seven years," said Phillips, "and I was very impressed. Walking into a new team that is well structured and organized was a great benefit. These are early days for them, but they've got a good crew, who were very accommodating for new engineers at Long Beach. They work very hard and everyone believes in Alex and that makes all the difference. Alex is very hands-on and knows his stuff. He provided key information for our set-up in Long Beach." Schaechter echoed these sentiments saying, "It's refreshing to be here with Rocketsports and back in the Champ Car World Series, where there are more opportunities to be technically creative and employ new ideas to new situations, all within a single race. We jumped right into the deep end in Long Beach. Alex played a huge role in setting the car up and is extremely knowledgeable about the Lola. He's also very expressive and provides a lot of feedback. We listened and he was going in the right direction, so we went with his suggestions in Long Beach and the Portland test. We've had many good, very technical discussions with him."

4/28/03

SARS update for CART  Some good news for CART and its upcoming Toronto race in July.  SARS is said to have peaked in most places except mainland China and 94% of those who catch SARS survive and recover.  Let the racing begin!

4/28/03

CART stock watch 

MPH closed at $3.65 Up $0.03 on Volume of 47,600 shares.
$2.94 Bid - $3.89 Ask on close.
Session Low/High $3.57/$3.75
MPH Value Change Up 0.83%
DOW Jones Up 165.26 or 1.99% on Volume of 1.57 billion shares.
NASDAQ Up 27.7 or 1.93%
S&P 500 Up 16.03 or 1.78%
Courtesy of C3I.AndersonGroupe – Chicago
www.andersongroupe.com

4/28/03

An Engineers predictions for Brands  Fernandez Racing Race Engineer Chris Finch estimates top speeds of 175 mph and minimum speeds in the 52-mph range as drivers shift 14 times per lap around the Brands Hatch road course. Says Finch: “Brands Hatch is considered a road circuit but it is short when compared to other natural terrain road circuits. The Milwaukee oval is a four-turn, one-mile oval while Brands packs seven corners in just over a mile. Estimated laps times will be in the mid-thirties [seconds]. Turn One [Paddock Hill Bend] is the best passing area, but that is dependent on how well the car is working through the last corner. The short track could make passing difficult, so good pit strategy will be the key. Due to the narrowness of pit lane, the standard pit procedures have changed. There are no prescribed pit windows, but CART is mandating two green flag stops before the white flag is given. This will make everyone rethink their race strategy because pit stops under yellow do not count.”

4/28/03

Irvine pans de la Rosa  According to his column in The Sun newspaper, Eddie Irvine claims McLaren's decision to hire his ex-teammate Pedro de la Rosa was an 'outlandish decision' and questioned de la Rosa's abilities to develop an F1 car. "One thing that surprised me the most this season is that my teammate at Jaguar, Pedro de la Rosa, signed as test driver for McLaren," Irvine wrote. "He's a charming guy, but, when he has to develop the car with engineers he is useless." "It's a mad decision especially considering that another of my former teammates, Luciano Burti, is a brilliant test driver and wants to return to F1," he concluded.

4/28/03

Financially strapped Goodyear looking to save money  Saving money is apparently the goal behind Goodyear's proposed plans to bring its entire race-tire distribution program in-house. Five different distribution companies handle Goodyear's Winston Cup distribution operation. Winston Salem Journal

4/28/03

NASCAR just a flash in the pan?  David D'Alessandro, the chairman and CEO of John Hancock life insurance, isn't one of the corporate leaders who has jumped aboard the NASCAR bandwagon. In a conversation with the Boston Globe about his company's choices for sponsorship money, D'Alessandro said NASCAR wasn't in his final three. "It's a growing sport, but I think it's a flash in the pan," he said. "It's a pure consumer product. It has 1,000 sponsorship symbols, so there's no distinction. The fatter your driver is, the more symbols he can have on his jumpsuit." D'Alessandro isn't high on golf, tennis, pro football or pro basketball, either. His top three? The Olympics, major league baseball and the Boston Marathon. Press Enterprise

4/28/03
F3000

Brand withdraws from F3000  Martin Kendrick has withdrawn his Brand Motorsports team from the remainder of the F3000 season, citing his unhappiness with the ethics and politics in the FIA F3000 series.

4/28/03

Fernández has slight advantage going to Brands  The historic Brands Hatch circuit, site of the inaugural London Champ Car Trophy, holds special memories for Adrian Fernandez. CART’s only competing owner/driver has come full circle since his days of working as an instructor to make ends meet at the legendary track – host to Round Four of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Like many drivers in the Champ Car field, Fernandez looked to Europe during his formative years to further his racing career. After leaving his native Mexico at the age of 22, he spent three character-building years in England struggling to find opportunities. It was a point in his life that Fernandez says helped prepare him for the future. While logging a lot of miles at Brands Hatch in his instructor’s role, Fernandez also competed at the circuit in the 1987 Formula Ford Festival [see note below] as well as the 1988 and 1989 RAC British Formula Ford 1600 Championship, finishing fourth in the 1989 title chase. “I am excited to go back to Brands Hatch because it is a track that I have taught so many people on as an instructor. This is basically where my dream started in terms of my international career and now, going back as an owner and a driver, is going to be very special. I love the track and I think it is going to be an exciting race that I am really looking forward to. It is also going to be a very physical race. The most exciting corner will be Paddock [Hill Bend – Turn One, which is a fast corner on the crest of a hill]. Obviously I have never taken it in these cars so it is going to be quite a new experience.”

4/28/03

Fernández disqualified in Brands debut  Adrian Fernandez made quite a splash in his first professional outing at Brands Hatch. After securing a last-minute ride to compete in the 1987 Formula Ford Festival, Fernandez impressed many by qualifying his tobacco-sponsored Formula Ford on pole position for his heat race. The team was aware of a tobacco-advertising ban during televised sporting events and planned to change the livery to a striped design for the final day of the event, which was to be broadcast. When Fernandez assumed his front-row starting position for the heat race on Saturday however, the team was caught off guard when they were told on the grid that the logos had to be removed. With three minutes to go before the start, attempts were made to cover the signage but time ran out. Fernandez, worried that logos remained visible with one minute to go, was assured he could still compete. Three laps into the race and while leading, Fernandez was given the black flag and disqualified.

4/28/03

CART CBS swing begins  For the second-consecutive season, CBS Sports will have coverage of the CART Champ Car World Series during the summer months, starting with the London Champ Car Trophy. The coverage begins on May 4 with a one-hour season preview show and continues with unprecedented back-to-back days of race coverage of May 10-11. The London Champ Car Trophy will be shown in its entirety on May 10, with the German 500 broadcast coming on May 11. Both races will begin at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

4/28/03

Portenga Captures California Victory, Herta 5th  UPDATE This Redlands Daily Newspaper article was written before the race, but sheds some light on Bryan's feelings about trying his hand at NASCAR and how very little seat time he had prior to the race.  4/26/03 - Steve Portenga made a late-race charge to win the Pontiac Wide Track Grand Prix 200 at California Speedway on Saturday.  Portenga, who started 13th on the grid, steadily worked his way to the front and took the lead on the 92nd circuit of the 100-lap NASCAR Grand National Division, Winston West Series event.  He pulled away to win by a margin of 2.429 seconds over Ken Schrader. Kevin Richards was close behind in third, followed by Johnny Borneman and Bryan Herta, who was making his first ever stock car start.

4/28/03
Industry News

Lilly donations of $3 million to Salvation Army  The Salvation Army announced today that it has received a $3 million grant from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. (Lilly is a Newman Haas Champ Car team sponsor) to support American military personnel currently engaged in the war in Iraq, and their families. The money will fund new and existing Salvation Army programs administered across America that provide financial assistance to families who are in need as a result of the war. The Salvation Army will use the grant funds to help in the payment of rent, utilities, prescriptions and other basic living expenses. "We are honored and thankful to have received such a generous donation from the Lilly Endowment," said The Salvation Army National Commander, Commissioner W. Todd Bassett. "The Salvation Army is compassionately committed to ensuring that the families of our military are well served during this time of war. This grant will allow us to support our troops -- and their families -- during this difficult time." "Lilly Endowment is pleased to make this grant to The Salvation Army, which time and again has effectively delivered aid in times of need," said N. Clay Robbins, Endowment president. "These funds not only will help The Salvation Army provide our servicemen and women overseas with relief packages, they also will help give them some peace of mind knowing that The Salvation Army is supporting their families while the are bravely serving our country." The Endowment was founded in 1937 and is one of the nation's largest foundations supporting the causes of community development, religion and education.

4/28/03

Bridgestone has their hands full  As Presenting Sponsor and Official Tire supplier for the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, Bridgestone will have their hands full supplying Champ Car teams with enough racing Potenzas (slicks and treaded) for the back-to-back European dates in England and Germany. For England, Bridgestone tire engineers will prepare 608 slicks and 340 treaded Potenzas. For Germany, 858 slicks will be on hand for the superspeedway event. The total number of Bridgestone Potenza tires for both events totals 1,806. The approximate weight total of the tires is 41,600 pounds (almost 21 tons).

4/28/03

CART Enters Partnership With Hamburg-based Speedpool Multimedia  CART Champ Car has aligned itself with Speedpool Multimedia-Service GmbH in order to promote the sanctioning body and build exposure for the return of the world’s most diverse open-wheel racing series to Europe’s only superspeedway in Lausitz, Germany for Round 5 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. The Hamburg, Germany-based company specializes in motor sports public relations and will serve as a liaison in Germany, Austria and Switzerland for the May 11 German 500 at EuroSpeedway Lausitz. They will commence work immediately and will continue the project throughout and after the race. “With its two-mile superspeedway, EuroSpeedway Lausitz is one of the most impressive and modern motor-racing circuits in the world. When we did not return in 2002, the drivers and teams lamented the fact that we did not go back to such a spectacular facility,” said CART Champ Car President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. “In the debut race, German spectators demonstrated that CART Champ Car racing has a great number of fans in Germany and we will give them every reason to return to see us in 2003.” With CART’s upcoming London Champ Car Trophy at the famed Brands Hatch circuit in northern England May 5, ticket sales and CART Champ Car interest are at a all-time high for the May 10-11 German 500. During Champ Car’s first venture to the high speed 2.023-mile superspeedway in 2001, the event attracted nearly 150,000 fans into the Niederlausitz region. Alex Zanardi will serve as the Grand Marshal for this year’s German 500, marking the first time that the two-time Champ Car World Series title winner (1997, 98) has returned to the German superspeedway since his accident in the 2001 event. The German 500 will be televised on a tape-delayed basis by CBS on Sunday, May 11 at 1:00 pm ET. Live audio and timing & scoring will be available on the official website of the series, www.champcarworldseries.com.

4/28/03

Derrike Cope sponsorship In Format New To Auto Racing; Probable Future Trend  What some are calling the most unique corporate sponsorship program in motorsports might very well be the trend of the future. At least, that’s the thought of veteran NASCAR Winston Cup driver Derrike Cope, a Spanaway, Wash., native. Friendly’s Ice Cream, a family restaurant company serving signature sandwiches, entrees and ice cream desserts, is sponsoring Cope’s #37 Chevrolet this week at Richmond, Va., and has at least four other events planned for which it will be the primary sponsor. Friendly’s also sponsored Cope in the season-opening Daytona 500, and has appeared on the car in selected other early-season events. Cope, however, has been working with other companies, attempting to find regional sponsorships in areas outside of the main Friendly’s areas, and to develop cross-marketing and cross-promotions. “Friendly’s is a great company with a great product but they aren’t in San Francisco right now,” Cope said. “So we are very close to announcing a San Francisco-based company that will come on board as a primary sponsor for some races later this year. That’s the way we’re putting this together.” Great Barrier Reef Online, which has its sites set on certain major markets, was Cope’s primary sponsor at California Speedway last week, and may add some races throughout the season. “Sponsorship is pretty expensive for a lot of companies but racing is expensive, and you can’t give the return of investment to a corporate sponsor unless you have the financial backing to do it right,” Cope said. “We looked at this a different way. Instead of, say, one company putting $8 million into a car, why not see if we can work with, say, four companies putting $2 million in each? Or five companies? “Friendly’s is a great example of what we are looking to do,” he continued. “They want to be a part of NASCAR Winston Cup racing but, at this point, have a hard time justifying marketing in the southwest or midwest where they don’t currently have restaurants. So they picked the areas where they do have restaurants - like Richmond this week - and put everything into those select races.” Cope is considered one of the top business minds among drivers and owners in the sport. Winner of the 1990 Daytona 500 and one of a handful of veteran drivers with multiple wins in the major leagues of stock car racing, he also has background as a television commentator and does commercials through an endorsement with Avocor. “Twenty years ago when sponsorship costs for a top team were in the hundreds of thousands instead of seven and eight figures, you could find companies willing to take a pro-active look at team sponsorship,” Cope said. “These days, a decision goes to the very top of the company. “You have to show these companies the value. There has to be a return on investment,” Cope said. “Every time I stand in front of a board of directors or a corporate chairman, I have to keep that in the front of my mind. These people got there because they know business. If I can show them how sponsorship of my race team is good for their business, they are going to jump on board, no matter what they think about racing personally. But if can’t show them that, no matter how much they like it, they aren’t going to do it.” For Friendly’s, Cope found the right approach.

4/28/03

Bernie relieves Ron & Frank of $1 million  For years, Ron Dennis and Frank Williams have tried to outsmart Bernie Ecclestone, and for years, Bernie has been cleaning their pockets. One way or the other, Bernie always seems to come out on the winning side.  This Grandprix.com article says,  The Williams and McLaren teams took Bernie Ecclestone to arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce in Switzerland more than a year ago because of a supposed agreement between them and Ecclestone over the teams getting a percentage of the money raised by a sale of the SLEC company as part of the settlement over the 1998 Concorde Agreement. The two teams reckoned that they had each been promised one percent of the money raised in the event of a flotation and had also negotiated a similar deal if the company was sold privately. The team felt that they had documents that covered this eventuality but the ICC did not agree and the claim was rejected. If the claim had been successful each team would have been owed $20.3m by SLEC, allowing for the payment which should have been made and interest which they would be due. The teams were also ordered to pay SLEC's costs, which are believed to be more than $1m, which Bernie probably gets a good laugh over.  Now these two jokers are siding with the manufacturers to form a breakaway F1 series and taking the FIA to arbitration over the banning of electronic aids and other useless technology because they think the driver should have all the latest gizmos at their disposal, even if they mask a drivers shortcomings.  We suspect Bernie will thwart them once again.

4/28/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

BAR Get New Bits For Spain
Three-Stoppers For Spanish Race?
Montoya's Reason For Optimism
Great Memories For Jenson Button
Williams Correct Pitstop Errors
Ferrari Plug Away On F2003-GA
Alex Wurz Drafted In At Jaguar
Bernie Stands On 'Rich List' Podium
Webber To Pizzonia: You're On Your Own
Sato Enthused After Mugello Test
Dubai Not Inclined To Formula One
Byrne: F2003-GA The Best Ferrari Ever
Renault Persevere With Wide Vee
McLaren Still In Title Hunt
Dennis: Electronic Aids Must Stay
Alonso Defends 'Dangerous' Driving

4/28/03

Sprecher Named Official Beer of Road America  Milwaukee-based Sprecher Brewing Company has been named the official beer of Road America, according to George Bruggenthies, president and general manager. The race track will serve the regional brewery's craft beers in the luxury suites, hospitality tents and at concession stands. The new Road America Light Ale also will be sold in area stores and establishments. Sprecher, which produces European and traditional-style beer, has won International Gold Medals and is the world champion in brewing its Black Bavarian lager and Winter Brew. "We're very pleased to be working with Sprecher," said Bruggenthies. "Sprecher is well-known for its products and we're very proud to pour a top-quality, award-winning Wisconsin beer at Road America." "We at Sprecher Brewing also are pleased to be working with the capable staff at Road America in marketing our beers," said Don Wambach, sales manager. Sprecher, the first brewery built in Milwaukee after Prohibition, is one of the region's best-known and most successful small breweries. Randy Sprecher began home brewing in the '70s and after spending time at Pabst Brewing, started his own company. Sprecher Brewing produces five year-around beer varieties and eight seasonal beers.

4/28/03

Another China connection  Right now, Alex Yoong is CART's best connection to China, should it choose to race in Beijing. In F1, the Jordan team has a Chinese sponsor and is looking to expand that.   Another driver with Chinese connections is on the horizon,  Chinese-Dutchman Ho-Pin Tung. He is currently racing and winning in Formula BMW in Asia with Irishman Peter Thompson's Team Meritus. The 20-year-old speaks Dutch, English: fluent (6 year school education), French: good (4 year school education), German: good (4 year school education), Greek & Latin: mediocre (4 year school education) and is studying economics & law at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. He was an accomplished kart racer and did well in Formula Ford and F3.

4/27/03

Random notes from under the sun in Fontana  The process of securing a new sponsor for NASCAR’s top level series is an extremely “complex process” that must take into account the needs of not just a potential sponsor but also the needs of the sanctioning body, car owners, drivers, crews, current sponsors and all of the racetracks involved in the sport stated a top level NASCAR official. On the issue of the schedule, a NASCAR official stated that the Southern 500 has a secure date on Labor Day at Darlington Raceway. Additionally, the official stated the schedule WILL NOT be expanded to meet increased demand in the California and Kansas markets. Phoenix was another market mentioned as one being underserved by the sport. The possibility Joe Gibbs Racing might actually get the car seized by NASCAR at Texas Motor Speedway back has slipped from maybe to slim to none. “We’ll probably call them to come get the engine and transmission, but at this time we are leaning toward keeping the rest of the car,” said Darby. Darby went on to say that he doesn’t see any changes to the inspection procedure as a result of the analysis.  Stan Creekmore

4/27/03

Park woes begin on first lap  Steve Park’s hopes and dreams of a positive finish in the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway came to a halt in less than 1 lap. Starting from the pole, Park faded quickly as the field took the green flag. By the time the field entered the second turn Park’s No. Pennzoil Chevrolet had become the meat in a sheet metal sandwich, ripe for disaster. As Ryan Newman rolled past on the outside Park’s Chevrolet pushed up into Newman’s Dodge, triggering a wreck that sent both cars to the garage for repairs. Surrounded by the media, both drivers took different tacks to avoid the inevitable questions about who might be to blame. Park remained in his car, a stoic look almost hidden behind the visor of his helmet. Newman took out his frustration on the bent sheet metal of his racecar with a hammer, thus avoiding contact with the press. Repairs complete Park re-entered the race on lap 52 while Newman continued to bang away alongside his crew in the garage. Newman returned on lap 153, ran 33 more circuits and then retired for the day. Park ran 137 more laps before calling it a day. “I don’t know if someone got into the No. 1 car or not, but all I know is the No. 1 car got loose and got up and shoved me into the wall,” Newman explained. “It’s just one of those things. It seems like we can’t buy a break lately and we get involved in everybody else’s bad breaks, too.”  Dave Yaeck

4/27/03

New year, same problems for Stewart  For the second year in a row, engine problems struck Tony Stewart eliminating him from contention in the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. Last Year a broken oil fitting relegated Stewart to a 29th place finish. This year, a broken rod eliminated Stewart a spirited battle with the No. 42 Dodge of Jaime McMurray for the lead. “It just went down to the end of the backstretch and broke a rod going into three,” Stewart said after parking his car in the garage. “But, boy, we sure had a heck of a car today. This Home Depot Monte Carlo was awesome.” As a result of the engine failure Stewart finished 41st taking a big hit in the points, but led the most laps and received 10 bonus points. He leaves California out of the top 10 in points for the first time in 2003. He sits 11th - 331 points behind leader Matt Kenseth  Dave Yaeck

4/27/03

Close only counts....  For most drivers a top-five finish would be a career best, however when you are accustomed to winning races a third place might have been bittersweet. But Rusty Wallace found a silver lining in his third place finish in the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. Wallace, driving the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, started seventh in the Auto Club 500 and led for 30 laps. A late surge by race winner Kurt Busch in the No. 97 Rubbermaid Ford combined with a fierce battle with Bobby Labonte in the No. 18 Chevrolet relegated him to third place. “I’m not disappointed about nothing,” Wallace said after he exited his car. “We were so close.” “We’ve got a winning team. We just haven’t won yet.” Wallace may have a chance to prove that next weekend at Richmond International Raceway. In his career, he has dominated the ¾ mile track with six victories and 25 top 10’s. Dave Yaeck

4/27/03
Industry News

China is the next target for Nissan Renault  Now that Nissan Motor has returned, debt-free, to the highest level of profitability, along with its partner Renault it is ready to take part in the next wave of world carmaker mergers, according to its director general Carlos Ghosn. Mr Ghosn, presenting Nissan's preliminary results for the last financial year, which show a record net profit and zero debt, said he was convinced the global automobile business was moving towards further integration. He presented the partnership forged with Renault in 1999 as a shining example of how to merge businesses from different cultures. "This industry is going to continue to consolidate - it is obvious," he said. "If you have on one side companies that are extremely competitive, with a very good business system, providing value, growth, products, technology and a high level of profitability, and on the other side players who have difficulty to provide the same things, it will call for more consolidation. "What kind of shape it is going to take is very difficult to say but there is logic for the market that is still there and as long as you have big differential, you will have change," said Mr Ghosn, who will take over as concurrent head of Renault in 2005. "I hope that Nissan and Renault will continue to operate in the same spirit that we have started. This spirit is one of partnership. The logic is not to have a major and a minor partner, the logic is to create a partnership with exchanges, respect for each company. The result of it is that you see Nissan blooming today." Their 10.8 per cent operating margin is "at the highest level in the world automobile industry". The 19.5 per cent return on invested capital (ROIC, a new performance yardstick for the group,) was also among the best in the business, Mr Ghosn said. "In terms of the operating margin and ROIC, our goal is to remain the most profitable constructor in the world," he said. A Tokyo-based international investment banker said: "Mr Ghosn thinks the management model created by the alliance with Renault can be extended to other partners." The next target will be China.

4/27/03

LA is the last market for NASCAR to conquer  This Roanoke Times article says, While the Winston Cup Series races today in this Los Angeles suburb, the question is not who will win, but who will watch. Los Angeles' low TV ratings, declining viewership and little demand for extra seats at California Speedway challenge NASCAR on how to tap into the nation's second-largest media market. How series officials plan to increase interest in Los Angeles and the West Coast could affect fans in the Carolinas and Virginia. Next season there could be fewer Cup races in the Southeast, a second Cup race at California Speedway and later starting times. "The conversion of the California population to NASCAR fans would be the last standing impediment to a claim that we have completely ... pervaded the entire major market of the United States," said Geoff Smith, president of Roush Racing. "That would lead to the full acceptance by even the skeptics of whether our sport had truly achieved the national status that we claim that we have." So far, Los Angeles is lukewarm to NASCAR. TV ratings and the number of households viewing Cup races have dropped since 2001. California Speedway's 92,000 seats are 13,000 fewer than at Richmond International Raceway - where the series heads this week - and no immediate expansion is planned for Southern California's only Cup track.   More...

4/27/03

Andretti's 8th brings 10,750 donated books  John Andretti and the #43 Dodge team did more than run a race for themselves and their fans Sunday at the two-mile California Speedway. By completing all 250 laps in Sunday’s NASCAR Winston Cup event, 10,750 new books will now be donated by First Book and Cheerios to children in the greater Los Angeles area. Through the Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program, 43 books were donated for every lap Andretti completed Sunday 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 serving children in the city of Los Angeles. “Obviously, our goal was to win the race and run as well as we could but we’re happy that our race team and Petty Enterprises could play a role in this great program,” said Andretti, who finished eighth. “We know these books will go to great use, and will hopefully encourage the enjoyment of reading for a lot of children. “The Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program is a fantastic way to encourage reading and to help young people all over the country. We are proud to be part of it,” he added. The goal of the donation was to drive home Cheerios’ commitment to childhood literacy. Just as Cheerios helps fuel kids for the day, reading gives them the power to succeed in life. With that in mind, Cheerios is making a significant commitment to childhood literacy through the Spoonfuls of Stories program, including partnering with First Book, a non-profit organization that helps get books to children from low-income families. Andretti and Petty Enterprises are partnering in this effort for one race by encouraging children to read more, and by reaching out to help others.

4/27/03

Sciuto and Giumarra shine in CART karting races   Young phenom Alan Sciuto dominated the popular ICC shifter kart class in the opening race of the Snap-on Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow presented by RACER. Sciuto, who was the top junior shifter pilot in 2002, swept pole, heat, and main events against 47 of the best shifter kart racers in North America in Saturday’s season opening action. In the other Stars premier class, Chris Giumarra outlasted Canadian Jordy Vorrath in a fierce, 30 lap battle for ICA direct drive honors. Giumarra, one of the standouts in the sport, traded the lead with Vorrath, culminating in a last lap collision as Giumarra came alongside to pass. Vorrath retired while Giumarra was able to keep momentum, re-enter the track and cruise home to a twelve second victory over Andrew Alfonso. Sciuto expressed how thrilled he was with his win in his first senior ICC race in his trademark, understated style. “It’s just incredible. It’s a dream come true to do it against all these great drivers,” said the 14 year old from Orange, California after finishing ahead of teammate Jason Bowles and Leading Edge driver Tom Dyer.  In other Stars classes, Burbank, California’s Clark Sanchez-Figueras continued to impress with a dominating victory in Rotax Max. Justin Moon won the 80cc Junior class; Cole Whitt took Junior Superbox honors, and Jahana Mongul was victorious in the eight to twelve year old Grand Products Cadet class. Sunday brings race two in the Stars West Division schedule.  The Champ Car 'Stars of Tomorrow' presented by RACER karting series is the official first level in CART's driver development system and an officially sanctioned series of WKA/SCCA Pro Racing.

4/27/03

Three Audi R8 racers at Le Mans pre-test   Preparations for the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours is entering the next level on Sunday with the pre-test. The Audi customer teams, Audi Sport Japan Team Goh, Audi Sport UK and Team ADT Champion Racing start at the French endurance classic with three Audi R8 racers. The nine drivers of the three teams are all on duty at Le Mans on Sunday. “Although there are eight hours available during the pre-test, time is of a premium, because the track is as usual very dirty and slippery in the morning,” said Audi driver Marco Werner. This year, the customer teams are able to use the resources of data and experience established by the Audi works team, which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times in succession between 2000 and 2002. “We will start the pre-test with exactly the same set-up which proved so successful last year,” explained Frank Biela who drives for Audi Sport UK and has his sights firmly set on his fourth Le Mans victory in succession.

4/27/03
Superfund World Series by Nissan

Gene and Montagny win at Zolder 

Result race 1, Zolder
Pos Driver Team Time

1 M Gene Adrian Campos Motorsport 27m17.501s
2 B Leinders Racing Engineering +0.298s
3 N Siedler Zele Racing +0.760s
4 N Karthikeyan Carlin Motorsport +1.216s
5 P Villaamil RC Motorsport +1.799s
6 P Edwards KTR +2.557s
7 F Portiero KTR +3.360s
8 A Vilarino Epsilon +4.234s
9 T Rocha Zele Racing +5.014s
10 B Besson Saulnier Racing +5.314s

Result race 2 Zolder:
Pos Driver Team Time

1 F Montagny Gabord 36m55.354s
2 J Ravier Epsilon +26.760s
3 N Karthikeyan Carlin +27.569s
4 B Besson Saulnier +39.646s
5 N Siedler Zele +40.670s
6 H Kovalainen Gabord +51.055s

4/27/03
German DTM

Bernd Schneider wins at Hockenheim  57,000 spectators witnessed the premiere of the new DTM race format, run in the wet.  The track and weather conditions during his debut in the Touring Car “Top Class” could hardly have been more difficult for the drivers. It started to rain  punctually at the start in Hockenheim at 2 p.m. Even the most seasoned campaigners had difficulty keeping the touring cars, with over 450 hp running on slick tires, on a circuit that was as slippery as ice. Results :
1 Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) 37 laps in 1h 11m 06.451s
2 Marcel Fässler (Mercedes) + 28.002s
3 Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 28.292s
4 Jean Alesi (Mercedes) + 38.467s
5 Christijan Albers (Mercedes) + 1m 01.237s
6 Peter Dumbreck (Opel) + 1m 16.749s
7 Timo Scheider (Opel) + 1m 19.342s
8 Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 1m 22.578s

4/27/03

Gelinas and Freudenberg win rounds 2 & 3  Philippe Gelinas of Grand-Mere, Quebec, took his first-ever win in Formula Dodge National Championship competition at Virginia International Raceway in Danville, Virginia, Saturday (round 2 of 2003 Formula Dodge National Championship) as he took the checkered flag ahead of Zilvinas Oskutis of Lithuania and Salvador Duran of Mexico City, Mexico. Pole sitter Rafael Matos came home fourth ahead of early race leader Ben Freudenberg, who finished fifth. Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship driver Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, Nevada, finished sixth after scoring the fastest lap of the race, a new track record. Gerardo Bonilla of Orlando, Florida finished seventh as recently crowned 2003 Skip Barber Southern Race Series Champion and Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship driver Joe D'Agostino finished eighth ahead of Aivaras Pyragius, who moved up from 22nd starting spot to take ninth ahead of Brian Frisselle. Frisselle was forced to fight his way back into the top ten after falling down in the order early in the race when he was forced off the track. The race was exciting from start to finish, with the top six drivers finishing within just .6 seconds apart. Gelinas, drove his way to winning a spot on the Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship Team at Sebring International Raceway in January, and converted the potential he showed at the runoff into results as he won on the 3.27-mile long course layout set in the rolling hills of southern Virginia.  Round 3 of the series was held on Sunday.  Ben Freudenberg of North Bend, Oregon, won the second Formula Dodge National Championship race of the weekend at Virginia International Raceway, leading seven of the eleven laps to take the checkered flag ahead of Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship driver Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Zilvinas Oskutis of Lithuania. Ricky Schmidt of Lebec, California, took fourth position after starting from the seventh spot while fellow Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship driver Joe D'Agostino took fifth place with a strong drive from his twelfth starting position. Brian Frisselle of Kihei, Hawaii, also made an impressive charge through the field to take sixth spot after starting back in fourteenth, with race one winner Philippe Gelinas of Grand-Mere, Quebec, finishing in seventh. Salvador Duran of Mexico City, Mexico, made the biggest move up of the field, as he started nineteenth and finished in eighth after running as high as sixth before getting shuffled back late in the race. Duran also set the fastest lap of the race with a 2:11.305-second tour of the 3.27-mile long course layout at Virginia International Raceway. Dominique Claessens of Torrance, California came home ninth, with Cliff White taking tenth spot, his first top-ten in Formula Dodge National Championship competition. Freudenberg was overjoyed with the win after driving a smart race with the perfect combination of aggression and patience. " My car was much better today after I made a change to the set-up on it," said Freudenberg. "I was also doing a much better job at the Oak Tree corner, which leads onto the long back stretch, and that made a big difference in my pace for the race. The guys behind me started to fight amongst themselves for second, and that was good for me, since I could get up in front, ahead of where they could draft me, so I could build on my lead." Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship driver Matt Jaskol, who won the season-opening race in Sebring, backed up that performance with his second-place finish at V.I.R.

4/27/03

Ecclestone moves up to 3rd richest  The Sunday Times of London published the 1,000 richest people in Britain today and Bernie Ecclestone has moved up to the third richest Briton with an estimated wealth of £2,400 million ($3.8 billion USD).  Last year, the family wealth of Bernie and Slavicia Ecclestone was rated at almost £3 billion yet he was only 5th wealthiest. But following falls of others’ wealth, Bernie and his family are back up to third.  Apart from his SLEC shares, the Sunday Times lists his assets as Asian shopping centers, a Swiss hotel and a £4m Swiss chalet. However there's no chance of Ecclestone overhauling Britain's wealthiest man, the Duke of Westminster. He's valued at almost £5 billion.  Interestingly, the next motorsport Brit on the list is Paddy McNally.  McNally, who is Bernie’s close associate and the man who earns income from F1 trackside advertising and the upmarket Paddock Club hospitality business, is rated at £250 million.  The Sunday Times claim that the two businesses produce a combined £160m in profit a year ($254 million).  Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin baron, and rumored on these pages to have an interest in Motorsports, is rated at 15th with a wealth of $2 billion USD.  The top 10 in England:

1 The Duke of Westminster £4,900m
2 Hans Rausing £4,800m
3 Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone £2,400m
4 Charlene and Michel de Carvalho £2,284m
5 David and Simon Reuben £2,100m
6 Philip Green £1,850m
7 Sri and Gopi Hinduja £1,836m
8 Joseph Lewis £1,800m
9 Kirsten Rausing £1,600m
10 Lord Sainsbury and Family £1,500m

When looking at Europe as a whole, Ecclestone is the 40th richest.  The Porsche family is 9th with a wealth of about $10 billion.

4/27/03

Is there really any doubt Mario Andretti is/was America's biggest star?   UPDATE  A reader writes, Dear AR1, Is there really any doubt Mario Andretti is/was America's biggest star? And my family and I have had the privilege to meet with him, eat with him and have two laps around the streets of Miami circuit with him. How lucky am I? When I saw him in the paddock at St. Petersburg, he remembered my son and me by name. You could never convince me that anyone else is worthy of the title of the greatest driver ever. Sam Mancuso, Davie, Florida 4/26/03 - Mario Andretti commanded so much attention when he stepped back into an Indy Car this week.  Although his crash garnered major coverage, the fact of the matter is that even before he crashed, the story of him stepping back into a car made the sport pages around the world.  When he crashed and it was captured on video, it made as much noise worldwide as Dale Earnhardt's death a couple of years ago.  If, god forbid, he had died as Earnhardt did, the story would have made the front page of Time and Newsweek just like Earnhardt.  Unlike AJ Foyt and Richard Petty, who are USA heroes, Mario Andretti is known worldwide, even to this day.  The fact that he turned a lap at almost 226 MPH prior to the crash, his first day back in an Indy Car since 1994, at the age of 63, shows just how good he was.  This Indy Star article talks about what the video they shot of the crash meant to their ratings.  The crash was shown on just about every TV station around the world.  Amazing....as was Mario.  Mark C.

4/27/03

Milwaukee Mile grandstands near completion  The new Milwaukee Mile grandstands are nearing completion as seen in this photo.  We like they way they are building the grandstands with a steep incline for better spectator viewing.  CART would be wise to insist that all promoters build grandstands and temporary bleachers steep, so the fans can se over the head of the person in the row in front of them.

4/26/03

Portenga Captures California Victory, Herta 5th  Steve Portenga made a late-race charge to win the Pontiac Wide Track Grand Prix 200 at California Speedway on Saturday.  Portenga, who started 13th on the grid, steadily worked his way to the front and took the lead on the 92nd circuit of the 100-lap NASCAR Grand National Division, Winston West Series event.  He pulled away to win by a margin of 2.429 seconds over Ken Schrader. Kevin Richards was close behind in third, followed by Johnny Borneman and Bryan Herta, who was making his first ever stock car start.

4/26/03

Lights at Dover a few years away  Lights more than likely won't be installed at Dover International Speedway next year, according to speedway media relations director John Dunlap. It's still being discussed, but night racing could be two years away at the earliest. However, if television directs the speedway to install lights, then plans could be altered. NASCAR announced in January that its realignment for 2004 could include more twilight or evening races. Patriot-News

4/26/03

The Big Gulp  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Given Mario's big crash, don't you think it is appropriate that it said Big Gulp on the side of his car?  Robert Smith, Phoenix, Arizona

4/26/03

Misc. Saturday notes from Fontana  by Dave Yaeck

  • Matt Kenseth won the CaliforniaSpeedway.com 300 over Michael Waltrip by .882 seconds. Rounding out the top 5 were Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, and Todd Bodine.

  • Starting pitchers from the 2002 MLB World Champion California Angels kicked off the CaliforniaSpeedway.com 300 Busch Series race. Pitchers Jarrod Washburn, John Lackey, Kevin Appier and Mickey Callaway were on hand to make the famous call of “Gentlemen Start Your Engines.”

  • Bobby Labonte was quickest in the morning practice with a lap of 39.111 seconds, 184.091mph.

  • Kurt Busch was quickest in Happy Hour with a lap of 39.800 seconds, 180.905mph.

  • There is the potential of a $100,000 bonus paid to one of 3 drivers. Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DeWalt Power Tools Ford), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), and Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet) all have a mathematical opportunity of collecting the NASCAR Winston Cup Leader Bonus.

  • The leader bonus is awarded to a driver who wins the race and is the leader in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings.

4/26/03

Earnhardt says Talladega and Daytona easy  In a comparison of rookies, Dale Earnhardt Jr. stated it took him longer to get his nerve up at California and Michigan. “(Ryan) Newman, he just got here and did it,” said Earnhardt before qualifying on Friday. “I went out there and it took some time for me to feel comfortable that my right rear tire wouldn’t spin as I drove through the corner.” When asked to compare the tracks at Daytona and Talladega to California in terms of “nerve” Earnhardt said, “Daytona and Talladega are simple to drive, you just get on the gas and go. At California you have to get comfortable with driving so hard into the corners.”  Stan Creekmore

4/26/03

Don’t sign up Steve Park for unemployment just yet  Rumors that Park is about to be replaced by Shane Hmiel or Jason Keller are untrue according to Ty Norris, DEI executive. Norris says DEI stands behind Park and efforts to improve the performance of the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet are ongoing with a focus on keeping Park in the car beyond the 2003 season.  Stan Creekmore

4/26/03

Parrott finds happiness  Brad Parrott, ousted crew chief at Robert Yates Racing, has found happiness in his new role as the car chief of the No. 99 Citgo Ford driven by Jeff Burton and owned by Roush Racing. Parrott, once crew chief of Burton’s Busch Series effort, might never have left the employ of Roush but it was not his wish to be a replacement for Frankie Stoddard. The best part of returning to the Roush fold, at least for Parrott, is the measure of communication among the Roush Racing camp, something he hints was sorely lacking at RYR.  Stan Creekmore

4/26/03

John Andretti takes swipe at cousin & Gordon  According to this SPEED article Andretti Green announced Friday morning that Robby Gordon, NASCAR regular and eight-time competitor in America's holiest of automobile races, would stand in for injured Dario Franchitti next month. Franchitti was injured in a motorcycle wreck, suffering broken vertebrae, and has been advised not to compete. Michael Andretti's cousin, John Andretti, who migrated to NASCAR in 1994 with the wound-down team of Billy Hagan, has been a NASCAR regular ever since, with Michael Kranefuss, Cale Yarborough, and Petty Enterprises, his home since 1998. Andretti, son of Aldo Andretti (Mario's twin brother) and cousin of team owner/driver Michael Andretti, who will retire from driving after the 400, expressed off-the-record bitterness toward his cousin's choice. "I'll be there that Wednesday, and I'll qualify the car, because [Gordon] will be in the hospital by then," John Andretti said. "I don't really have much to say," he added. "You guys only come around here when there's something like this to talk about."

4/26/03

Richards denies Sato rumors  BAR boss Dave Richards has denied that Takuma Sato will definitely be replacing either Jacques Villeneuve or Jenson Button next season. He told ITV-F1: "You might read stories suggesting that Sato has a contract to race for us next year. This is not the case." "We have some options but nothing is decided yet about Jacques and he is going really well. We have two drivers who are pushing one another, why would we want to change that?"

4/26/03

Webber talks tough about teammate  Regarding Antonio Pizzonia, Mark Webber's Jaguar teammate, who has been struggling all year while he has been a big surprise, Webber had this to say - "I feel sorry for Antonio but at this level there's no way you can start helping another driver - this isn't Formula Ford," Webber told The Sun newspaper. "You have to stand on your own feet in F1," he added. "In this game you fight the war with the soldiers you've got because nobody wants to hear excuses." "I think Antonio could turn things around because he has been quick during a Grand Prix weekend - but it's been in the wrong sessions."

4/26/03

Mario Andretti calls for CART/IRL merger  This London Free Press article says, Michael Andretti may be a team owner and driver in the Indy Racing League, but that doesn't mean his father supports the all-oval IndyCar Series. "I'm a CART supporter. I'm not an IRL supporter. I support my son," Mario Andretti said last night during an appearance at Delaware Speedway. "An all-oval, open-wheel series like IRL, I do not support. I believe in diversity." The CART Champ Car World Series, where Andretti starred, has oval and road course events, while IndyCar is run all on ovals. Andretti, 63, who this week was successful in bringing CART and Road America back together for this season, said having two open-wheel series in North America is not healthy. "We need to marry the two," he said of CART and IRL. "If somebody would listen, I would do it in a minute. I really do believe it can be accomplished. "But it will take several minds. I cannot devise a plan and run it down people's throats. Everybody has to throw something at the wall and devise a plan beneficial to everybody." Andretti said racing must "listen to the fans." That's why he initiated talks between CART and Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wis., to restore that long-standing event. It has been renamed the Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America. "This can make a win-win situation." Andretti said. "The reaction I've been getting from the racing community is great and we should learn from that. "Events that have tradition, it takes almost a lifetime to build and they should not be taken lightly." It took Andretti a little less than a lifetime to become a racing legend.

4/26/03

Toyota Atlantic teams to test at Portland 

What: Testing of the CART Toyota Atlantic teams at Portland International Raceway
Who: The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is the final rung in the “Champ Car Ladder System” designed to develop the best young open wheel racing talent. The G.I. Joe’s 200, scheduled June 20-22, will feature a Toyota Atlantic race on Saturday. The drivers are here to test the track and prepare their cars for that race in June.
Where: Portland International Raceway 1940 N. Victory Blvd. Portland,  (exit 306B off I-5)
When: April 30th and May 1st from 10am-4pm
Cost: FREE when you present your 2003 G.I. Joe’s 200 ticket or ticket confirmation card, or pay $5 per day at the gate.
Teams/Drivers
DSTP Motorsports: Joey Hand
Sierra Sierra Racing: Ryan Dalziel Marc DeVellis
Rahal: Danica Patrick
Polestar Atlantic LLC: Jonathan Macri
Pacific Coast Motorsports: Alex Figge
Lynx Racing: Michael Valiante, Bryan Sellers
Transnet Racing: Alex Garcia
Dorricott Racing: Luis Diaz, Kyle Krisilof

4/26/03

Magny-Cours upgrades  Magny-Cours has completed modifications designed to improve overtaking opportunities. Re-profiling of the circuit cost $8.5 million, and includes a tight right-hander leading into a chicane at the end of the lap.  The changes make the track  200m longer.

4/26/03

A1 Ring upgrades  According to reports in Kleine Zeitung, Austrian-based energy drinks company Red Bull has promised a 200 million Euro investment in the A1-Ring, having acquired the Austrian circuit late last year. Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, who will assume control of the venue on October 1, plans to build a flight academy, a private university for applied science, and a hotel complex, even though the A1-Ring will lose its F1 fixture after this season.

4/26/03

Barrichello was asked to take Franchitti's ride  According to brazil.crash.net, Andretti Green Racing spokesperson stated that Ferrari F1 driver Rubens Barrichello was offered to take the Dario Franchitti seat for the Indy 500, but Rubens was not available.  We doubt Ferrari would have allowed him to step foot in a car at Indy given the chance of injury.  Rubens also has no oval track experience, so we doubt he would say yes for that very reason.

4/26/03
Industry News

GM workers quarantined  General Motors Corp. has quarantined four or five hourly employees in the Toronto area as a precaution related to SARS in that city, said a GM-Canada spokesman. The GM employees volunteered for the 10-day quarantine because they might have been in contact with people who visited the two Toronto hospitals where SARS has been treated. DaimlerChrysler Corp. had quarantined three workers in the Toronto area because they had visited Scarborough Grace and York Central hospitals, visited Hong Kong or exhibited SARS-like symptoms. Those workers have passed the 10-day incubation stage and are back to work, said a DaimlerChrysler spokeswoman.

4/26/03
Industry News

Record sales for Honda  Strong sales in North America helped Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. improve profits by 9.4 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter. It closed the fiscal year with record earnings for the second straight year and said Friday that it expects higher results this year. Japan's second-biggest automaker earned 116.7 billion yen ($970 million), for the January-March period, up from 106.7 billion yen a year ago and the best quarterly profits in the company's five-decade history. Honda said sales for the period totaled 2.13 trillion yen ($17.7 billion), up from 2.1 trillion yen a year ago. The Pilot and Element sport-utility vehicles and the Accord sedan led sales in North America, and cost-cutting helped offset the negative impact of a higher yen, which tends to shave off the value of Honda's overseas earnings. Global vehicle sales jumped 7.4 percent to 780,000 for the quarter, driven primarily by North American sales, which accounted for 61 percent of revenues. Tokyo-based Honda sold 402,000 vehicles in North America, up 10 percent from 364,000 a year ago.

4/26/03

CART, Toronto and SARS  A reader writes, Dear AR1,  I have a suggestion for CART. Chris Pook should go to Toronto and appear at a Press Conference with the Mayor to say that the CART race is going ahead and the city has the full backing of CART. If possible take along Paul Tracy, Paul Newman, a representative from PacifiCare, to give a realistic medical assessment of the risk, "Tag", Carpentier, and Jimmy Vasser to show "American Spirit" and get the message across that (1) Toronto is safe and (2) CART backs Toronto. Results:
1) CART gets exposure, as do drivers, and sponsors, building awareness.
2) CART shows venues that it supports them. (Portland take note)
3) Toronto gets a confidence boost.
4) Toronto natives get interested in CART and the fan base grows.
This would also be one in the eye for Tony George's Flying Circus feat. Mario Andretti.
I majored in microbiology at University, so I am not taking SARS lightly. Unless it mutates into a modern version of pneumonic plague in the next month or so, - the disease that inspired the 17th Century English nursery rhyme "A Ring-a-ring of roses, a pocketful of posies, Attishoo, Attishoo, We all fall down." (Dead) - then I stand by this policy. It says on my Brands Hatch ticket that "Motorsport can be dangerous" Yes it is. But I'd rather risk SARS with CART than risk an IRL car land on my head at 223 mph! (Never mind the racing).  Go on CART, show some leadership and back Toronto. Ed McFarlane (B.Sc. Hons.), Goadby, England

4/26/03

Montoya Ordered To Stay Off Bike  Juan Pablo Montoya has been ordered to keep off his motorbike after IndyCar ace Dario Franchitti injured himself in a crash. The pair share a racing manager in Julian Jakobi, who revealed yesterday that his Scottish charge, Franchitti, would miss the Indy 500 after crashing through a hedge on his Ducati. He said: 'Dario is on a special high-calcium milk diet with his trainer Tony Mathis in Switzerland. Hopefully he will back in action soon. 'We thought it best that Juan did not do any more riding for the moment!'

4/26/03

Saturday F1 News In Brief  Formula One's threatening manufacturers are working to attract teams to their GPWC series by offering significantly more racing revenue. Under Bernie Ecclestone's existing Concorde Agreement, 47% of all F1 revenue finds its way into the Grand Prix teams' pockets. But GPWC, set to kick off in 2008 if a compromise is not reached with Formula One bosses before then, has reportedly offered potential competitors a full 75% of all revenue. In other quick news, Austrian energy drink company Red Bull has vowed more than $200 million in investment for the embattled A1-Ring circuit. Located in Zeltweg and acquired by Red Bull late last year, the A1-Ring has lost its Grand Prix for 2004 after the Austrian government vowed to accelerate a total ban on tobacco advertising. Meanwhile, Jos Verstappen has slammed Italian driver Matteo Bobbi for traveling too slowly in his first Friday test at the Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Imola) track last weekend. The 24-year-old Milanese, Bobbi, is bringing more than $1 million in sponsorship to struggling team Minardi in return for four two-hour, Friday morning test sessions under the Heathrow agreement provisions. But Verstappen, lead Minardi racer, said 'Bobbi drives in some Friday tests, but that's almost useless. 'He is just too slow. And [team-mate Justin] Wilson simply copies my car set-up, so I also can't gain anything from that.' 

4/26/03

German Brothers Mourn Mother  Michael and Ralf Schumacher, excused from Formula One testing duties this week, mourned their mum at a private funeral in Germany yesterday (Friday). The Ferrari and Williams-driving pair lost mother Elisabeth Schumacher, 55 - who was suffering of cancer - after she fell and died in a coma last Sunday. She was buried in the small village cemetery of Mannheim-Kerpen, near the go-kart circuit where she and father Rolf supported the early careers of their GP-conquering boys. Kerpen chaplain Berthold Schmelzer backed the 34 and 27-year-olds' decision to race in San Marino on the day their mother died (Easter Sunday) despite criticism in the press. He said: 'Everyone must decide for themselves how to mourn and how to remember. To race was a sign of strength and the power of the will.'

4/26/03

Rubens: I Felt Sorry For Michael  Rubens Barrichello has praised his Ferrari team-mate for emerging triumphant despite family tragedy at last weekend's San Marino Grand Prix. The Brazilian worked hard to stay isolated from the sadness in his scarlet garage at Imola after Michael Schumacher learnt that his mother, Elisabeth, had died after a fight with cancer. 'When we were driving, it was okay,' said 30-year-old Brazilian Rubens, 'but when we were together that was difficult as I felt sorry for Michael. 'We have grown closer and got to know one another better and better over the years. Everyone knows how close I am to my family, so I really felt sorry for him.' Barrichello told his German team-mate that he was praying for his family. And despite scathing criticisms in the media, the Paulista admires Schumacher for taking part in the race - 'it was a tough decision,' said Barrichello. 'And probably one of the toughest decisions he has ever made.' Rubens was testing the all-new F2003-GA at Autodromo del Mugello this week despite suffering a bad bout of common cold. 'I could not miss this important test session,' he said, referring to Schumacher's week off to grieve and attend his mum's funeral. 'For obvious reasons, Michael is not here and in any case, I needed to make adjustments to my seat position. I am optimistic for the next race.' Rubens and Michael will steer the all-new F2003-GA at Circuit de Catalunya for the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix (May 4).

4/26/03

Ralf Thanks Supportive Fans  Ralf Schumacher has thanked his fans and a supportive contingent of Formula One media for helping him through the loss of his mother. The 27-year-old Williams ace, brother to similarly grieving world champion sibling Michael (Ferrari), lost his mum to cancer last Sunday before racing in the San Marino grand prix. Ralf and Michael, accompanied by father Rolf, attended a private burial for Elisabeth Schumacher in their German home-town of Kerpen on Friday. 'Naturally, following the loss of my mother last weekend, I am having a hard time at the moment,' Ralf said in a pre-race message for BMW-Williams. 'I therefore appreciate the support and consideration both the fans and the media have shown myself and Michael at this difficult time.' Despite his anguish, Schumacher will contest next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya after sitting out the week's testing at Silverstone. He added of the Barcelona track: 'It is a demanding circuit with four high speed corners and changeable wind conditions; the track is on a hill so considerable pressure is placed on the aerodynamics of the car and the tires.' Ralf noted that Spain's is not a traditionally competitive circuit for Williams but with the 'intense development' of the FW25 and its aerodynamics of late, 'I am fairly optimistic.' 'Then we'll see if our performance will be better than in recent races,' the German concluded.

4/26/03

Testing Action In Italy  Formula One racer-turned-tester Takuma Sato returned to the Formula One track in style yesterday as he went fastest. Wrapping up four days of grand prix testing action at the Italian track, near Tuscany (Mugello), the 26-year-old Japanese was quickest of a four-strong field after McLaren and Ferrari returned to base. His BAR-Honda team-mate Jacques Villeneuve was next best as he focused on a Bridgestone tire program, followed by Antonio Pizzonia who finally managed some mileage with his Jaguar R4. Cristiano Da Matta brought up the rear in his TF103 but is hopeful of renewed competitiveness at next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. 'Circuit de Catalunya is one of the tracks I actually know,' the Brazilian smiled as he concluded a three-day Toyota test at Mugello. 'All in all, despite the ups and downs we had yesterday, I am really happy that we have been able to finish on a positive and encouraging note,' said the 29-year-old.
Takuma Sato BAR Honda 1:22.853 73 laps
Jacques Villeneuve BAR Honda B 1:23.010 78
Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar 1:23.134 73
Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1:23.254 63
Meanwhile, at the private Ferrari testing facility otherwise known as Fiorano, Felipe Massa and Luca Badoer continued development work for their scarlet Scuderia. Italian ace Luca Badoer was in action at the wheel of a brand-new F2003-GA, on the day that Maranello announced it had passed reliability checks and would definitely debut the car at next weekend's Spanish GP. Massa, who also celebrated his 22nd birthday, drove an older F2002 and traveled overnight to the 'Ferrari Days' event in Belgium where he will steer the car at Spa-Francorchamps (Saturday and Sunday). Born in Sao Paulo and debuting for Sauber in 2002, Massa will take to the classic track for a display at the wheel of F2001 chassis number 214, the car which triumphed in the 2001 Japanese Grand Prix.

4/26/03

Villeneuve Slams BAR Reliability  Outspoken racer Jacques Villeneuve is still scathing of his BAR team's reliability record. The 31-year-old Canadian, who won the championship with Williams in 1997 before commencing a draught-stricken, four-year career at Brackley, broke down with another technical gremlin at last weekend's Imola grand prix. 'I was extremely disappointed,' Jacques said of his San Marino failure, traced to the hydraulic system. 'We have been experiencing too many mechanical problems since the beginning of the season, when we should have been collecting as many points as possible. 'I was confident that we would be very competitive in Imola and it was frustrating to once again walk away without any points.' Villeneuve opted to test at the Autodromo del Mugello this week with his troubled 005 contender and managed some decent mileage in between further mechanical breakages. 'It's just delaying our progress in so many ways,' Jacques continues. The diminutive pilot from Quebec says next weekend's race at Circuit de Catalunya, in Spain, is often 'boring' because so much pre-season testing is carried out there. 'It is a good race track, though,' he hastily adds. 'There are some exciting high speed corners. It should make for an exciting race.'

4/26/03

A letter of thanks to Mario  This Arizona Republic article says, Dear Mario Andretti, Thank goodness you came to your senses and decided against attempting to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.  But what in the name of A.J. Foyt were you thinking?  When you exited your mangled car after Wednesday's horrific crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the first words out of your mouth to slack-jawed reporters were about returning to the car when Indianapolis 500 practice begins May 4.  What are you, nuts?  We don't care how fit you are or how great you used to be - and in the eyes of many, including the staff here at Motorsport Central's Southwest bureau, you were the greatest ever - you don't need to be traveling 225 mph in an Indy car.  Not at your age, which if you've forgotten, is 63. Even Foyt, your archrival, had the good sense to walk away in 1992 at age 57, which remains the age of the oldest starter in Indy 500 history.  Worse, the last time you drove was in 1994.  That's nine years, Mario. What are you trying to do, catch lightning in a bottle?

4/26/03

Another F1 driver praises HANS Device  Have all the F1 crybaby drivers put their crying towels away yet regarding having to wear the HANS device?  BMW WILLIAMSF1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya has praised the HANS safety device after he escaped from a terrifying high-speed crash during testing at the Silverstone circuit on Wednesday. “When I turned the wheel right for the second Becketts there was a light oversteer and then things started to happen very fast”, Montoya recalled. “I think I was driving about 300kph when I went off and may have crashed into the tire walls with something between 250 and 270 kph." "HANS did exactly and completely what it is supposed to do by holding my head during this extremely hard impact. Finally I ended up underneath the tire barrier and it took me some time to get out of the car. But now I’m feeling well again. Only my back and my elbow are just a bit sore.”

4/25/03

Ferrari will run new car in Spain  The Spanish Grand Prix, the fifth round of the Formula 1 World Championship, marks the race debut of the F2003-GA. The decision to run the new car as from the Barcelona event was taken today in Maranello, after an in-depth analysis of the data acquired over the last few days of testing, when the car ran at Mugello and Fiorano, in the hands of Luca Badoer, Felipe Massa and Rubens Barrichello. “We are happy to have overcome the running-in problems which prevented us giving it its debut in Imola,” said Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Technical Director, Ross Brawn. “Now we are ready to use it in a race. This week’s testing went very well and I am as confident as one can be when running a new car. The F2002 was a fantastic car, but it has reached the end of its development cycle. The new machine has already shown itself to be quicker and we have some further improvements in mind for the rest of the season.” “We have signed off the 052 engine in reliability terms, having successfully completed all the tests, both on the bench and the track,” added Engine Department Director, Paolo Martinelli. “Badoer has completed three Grand Prix distance simulations at Mugello, without experiencing any technical problems. Now, the new engine is ready to face a race weekend and we are already working on further evolutionary steps for later in the year.” Today, Ferrari was testing at Fiorano, with Luca Badoer driving an F2003-GA and Felipe Massa, celebrating his twenty second birthday, at the wheel of an F2002. Tomorrow will be another working Saturday at Fiorano, with Badoer carrying out a further day of testing.

4/25/03

Andretti.com to host silent auction  Indy racing legend Michael Andretti announced today an online auction of race-worn and collectible items, as well as the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of his pit crew for the final race of his career, the 2003 Indianapolis 500. The auction will be held online at http://auction.andretti.com beginning April 25, 2003 and will culminate in a combination live and online auction May 10, 2003, ending at 10:30 p.m. EDT. Attendees at the “Countdown to Indy” Party being held on Saturday, May 10th from 7:00 – 10:30 pm EDT will have the opportunity to bid in conjunction with fans online. Proceeds will benefit the newly formed The Michael Andretti Foundation and Education is Freedom, a foundation launched last year by Andretti team sponsor 7-Eleven, Inc. to fund college scholarships. In addition to the pit crew opportunity, bidders can bid on many unique items including a pace-car ride at this year’s Indy 500; Michael Andretti-autographed gloves; a Klein Tools Aerobatic ride; a Tony Kanaan/Michael Andretti combined paint scheme helmet, a rookie/veteran design combo helmet of both Dan Wheldon’s helmet design along with Andretti’s, a two-seater ride provided by the IRL; a Mario Andretti replica helmet; and other notable celebrity collectibles and driver items. Also up for bids are two tickets to Andretti’s invitation-only retirement party set for Saturday, May 10 at the Brickyard Hotel Pavilion. 7-Eleven, Honda, Motorola, Archipelago, Klein Tools, Jim Beam, Firestone, Budweiser, Pepsi and other associate sponsors are playing an active role in supporting Michael’s “Countdown to Indy” activities. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Andretti’s new foundation, a non-profit organization that will support a variety of charitable causes promoting programs for better health, education and welfare. Proceeds will also benefit Education is Freedom, a public charity launched in 2002 by 7-Eleven, the primary sponsor for Michael and teammate Tony Kanaan this year. Education is Freedom (EIF) is a new 501(c)(3) public foundation that focuses national attention and resources on students that have shown academic promise and leadership, but need financial assistance and guidance to go to college. Its objective is to remove the economic obstacles to higher education for young people up to age 24 by providing scholarships to high school graduates who qualify for little or no financial aid. For more information or to donate, visit the EIF website at www.educationisfreedom.org, or call 1-866-EIF-EDUCATE. For more information on the auction, including the various auction items, visit http://auction.andretti.com. To learn more about Michael Andretti and his Countdown to Indy activities, visit http://www.andretti.com.

4/25/03

What CART move-over rule means  CART will give all cars on the lead lap a clear path to the checkered flag after any restart in the final 10 laps of a race. Beginning with the May 31 Milwaukee Mile 250, CART will use a new "move-over" rule permitting the chief steward to send cars that are one or more laps behind the leader to the end of the restart line during the closing laps of a race. That will enable the leaders to race each other without having to dodge slower cars that, presumably, have no chance to win.

4/25/03

More Feedback on Chicken and Egg article  Another reader writes, Dear AR1, In regards to the Chicken and Egg article. Toronto is an amazing event. Everyone knows. And for that week, the Molson Indy is everywhere. However, when the CART circus folds it's tents up, so does the media coverage by and large. Many of the "fans" go back to their baseball etc. The trick is getting those people hooked to the whole series. As I drive around Toronto I am amazed at all the NASCAR stickers etc I see. We have no race, no drivers or teams. Yet it is everywhere. Amazing. Jeff Teravainen, Toronto

4/25/03

Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys kick off GP of Americas Race Week  Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys appeared at a press conference for the Miami Sports & Exhibition Authority promoting Race Week Miami. Race Week Miami will kick off with the Super Boat National Championships September 19-21st and conclude with the Grand Prix Americas featuring the American Le Mans Series and the Champ Car World Series September 26th - 28th. The week of racing also includes the Race Week Miami Regatta, Outboard Motor Boat Events, family activities and numerous special events with a grand finale concert at the Miami Arena Sunday September 28th. Nick Carter will be part of the El Diablo Racing Team that will be racing in the Superboat Unlimited Class for Super Boat International. His boat, El Diablo, will be on display on Watson Island throughout the weekend.

4/25/03

Scott Dixon broke pelvis too  UPDATE This Aukland NZ newspaper article has more details on Dixon's injuries.  4/23/03 - More bad news for the IRL, as the injury rate mounts for the most dangerous form of motorsports in the world.  Scott Dixon's injuries are far worse than first thought after his recent high speed crash in the Japan round of the Indy Racing League. X-rays today in the US have revealed that Dixon has fractured his pelvis in three places, that is to go along with his broken wrist. Dixon has been complaining of a sore hip ever since the crash and doctors have only just discovered the latest injury. However he still remains optimistic of driving in the famous Indy 500 next month. But his mother Glenys Dixon says if Scott does drive in the Indy 500, he will still be in some pain and discomfort.  Add the Kenny Brack and Mario Andretti cars that were wiped out at Indy today, Foyt's car two days ago, and one can see that the human and race car expense in the IRL is pushing costs through the roof.

4/25/03

Pizzonia suffering much like Andretti did  The new rules are hitting Pizzonia much the same as when Michael Andretti tried F1 at McLaren as Senna's team-mate. He never got to grips with his new challenge. Shortage of pre-season testing in a year when the sport's rule-makers imposed a limit to the number of practice laps hardly helped Michael, who was hampered by seemingly endless spins and minor collisions. Also, having a team-mate who is obviously faster doesn't help your confidence. Michael was running at the head of the pack in CART to being a backmarker in F1. Pizzonia went from being quick in his role as BMW-Williams tester last year and fourth in F3000 to driving over his head to compensate for lack of track time.   Warren Davis

4/25/03

Feedback on Chicken and Egg article  A reader writes, Dear AR1, I think Scott Morris hit it right on the head in his article.  CART needs to do a little 'begging' for once! CART certainly is in no position to 'dictate policy', if you will, to potential series sponsors. As it stands right now, their TV package is absolutely terrible, and they have no significant driver personalities. Don't get me wrong, I think Chris Pook has done almost an impossible job at even keeping CART alive let alone to prosper. But the way I see it, they're going to HAVE to do SOMETHING to reestablish themselves in the motorsports marketplace. (EXAMPLE: American drivers, drivers in commercials, etc... and just some plain old brand awareness.) That takes time and leverage (MONEY!). I don't see ANY trend toward that goal. I hope I'm wrong. All I see is what got CART into this mess in the first place and that is arrogance. Again, I hope I'm wrong. There is one area where I think Pook is apparently missing the mark and that is his 'assertion' that CART needs to be built up in a similar manner that was done with the NFL with races being held in major metropolitan areas (aka, street races). That would be a huge mistake, at LEAST in part. It's true that Long Beach is great event and very well attended BUT attended by who? The hardcore racing fan? I think not. The majority of these fans are 'event goers', not true racing fans. And while this IS an important segment to put your product in front of (that's what grows your business), I believe that if CART shifts their entire focus on street races (something Pook has alluded to as well) you will alienate A LOT of TRUE racing fans which is your core business. DON'T underestimate the amount of true racing fans out there that support CART because they race in places like Road America, Mid-Ohio and even Milwaukee! If CART abandons its core fans so they can parade around at 20 street course events, I believe they're doomed. And if CART is unhappy because nobody shows up to the venues I just mentioned, well then I guess you're just going to have to open your wallets and promote it! Or sell part of CART to Coca Cola so you can gain some leverage, for example. Kenneth Holland

4/25/03

Mosley warns car makers about rival series  This Financial Times article says, The largest car makers in Formula One motor racing were warned on Thursday by Max Mosley, president of motor sport's governing Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, that any attempt to run a rival series to Formula One outside the FIA's jurisdiction would be blocked. His warning came after all 10 teams in F1, including such independents as Jordan and BAR, signed a memorandum of understanding on detailed proposals for a rival championship to start in 2008. The proposals, full details of which have been seen by the Financial Times, were put to the teams in Munich several days ago by Goldman Sachs, advisers to Grand Prix World Championship, a company formed by DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Renault, BMW and Fiat to set up the rival series. They offer the teams a much bigger share of revenues than from SLEC, F1's existing commercial rights holder. SLEC is 75 per cent owned by three creditor banks of failed German media group Kirch and 25 per cent by promoter Bernie Ecclestone's Bambino family trust. The GPWC championship, which would start in 2008 after F1's current contracts expire, has arisen from the teams' growing discontent with their share - 22 per cent - of SLEC's revenues and the car makers' determination to gain control of an activity into which they are collectively sinking well over $1bn a year. Mr Mosley said there would be no problem with the FIA sanctioning a GPWC championship. But it would not be allowed to use the Formula One name and F1's commercial rights would remain with SLEC, which bought 100-year commercial rights to F1 from the FIA several years ago. What has concerned Mr Mosley and the FIA is a reference within the memorandum agreement that the new series could be regulated by an "independent" body separate from the FIA. Such a plan was "impractical" and could not be allowed to proceed, Mr Mosley said. Should GPWC seek to stage a rival to F1 wholly outside the aegis of the FIA, the FIA can bar companies such as Ford from other commercially valuable motor sport like the world rally championship.

4/25/03

Sellers to drive for Lynx  Lynx Racing announced today that it has latched on to an All-American rocket -- Bryan Sellers, the 20 year old reigning Formula Ford Zetec champion from Centerville, Ohio, has been signed to partner current Toyota Atlantic points leader Michael Valiante beginning with the Laguna Seca round of the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship season. The team also has an option on Sellers for the full 2004 Atlantic season when Valiante finishes his two year Lynx 'scholarship' and graduates to Champ Cars. Sellers will begin his tenure with the team at the Atlantic series test at Portland International Raceway on April 30 - May 1, and will make his first start as Valiante's teammate at Laguna Seca on June 14. Sponsorship is in place to run at least five races, and the team will be working to secure additional funding that will allow Sellers to compete in all the remaining events. At this point, Sellers will run with backing from several long-time sponsors, including laser-cutting specialists 3 Dimensional Services. He will also receive support from Microsoft executive Rick Waddell's Drive4USA, a program which - like Lynx Racing - seeks to identify young drivers with championship potential and provide them with the funding and support to move up the ladder to the top levels of motorsports. Waddell and his Kart2CART program (now re-named Drive4USA) sponsored Grant Ryley, Valiante's teammate during the 2002 Atlantic season. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and things have been moving very fast since we signed the deal," says Sellers. "I had the opportunity to spend a day in the car at a Lynx test earlier this year, and was really impressed with how fast and well-prepared it was, as well as the professionalism of the engineering staff and crew. I'll be living near the team headquarters in Sonoma from now on and will spend as much time in the shop and with the team as possible so I should be pretty much up to speed by the time I get in the car. I'm really looking forward to being Michael's teammate, and hope to be able to contribute to his run for this year's championship." In 2002, driving for Cape Motorsports in the Formula Ford Zetec Championship, Sellers scored eight wins and started from the pole seven times on his way to the championship. As a result, he was named to the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) All-American First Team, joining such notable drivers as Cristiano da Matta, John Force, Sam Hornish Jr., Boris Said and Tony Stewart. His championship also earned him a test at Sebring in Christian Fittipaldi's No. 11 Lilly Newman/Haas Racing Toyota Lola.

4/25/03

Robby Gordon to replace Franchitti  Indianapolis 500 veteran Robby Gordon will replace Dario Franchitti in the #27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola/Budweiser Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Andretti Green Racing during the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500. Gordon, who has eight career Indianapolis 500 starts, will run both the '500' and NASCAR's Coca Cola 600 on May 25, marking the fourth time in his career he has attempted to run both events in one day. Last season Gordon successfully completed the Memorial Day double," finishing eighth in the Indianapolis 500 and 16th in the 600-mile Winston Cup event held annually at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. "I'm thrilled to have the chance to attempt one of the ultimate racing challenges again this year and hopefully win both races," said Gordon. "I've run the Indy 500 eight times and been competitive and run near the front each year. I certainly haven't given up on the goal of winning both races and hope 2003 will be my year to do it. Running in an Andretti Green prepared-car will no doubt give me a good shot at having one win down and one to go when I head to Charlotte that afternoon." Gordon, who drives the #31 Cingular Wireless entry for Richard Childress Racing, is currently in 14th place in the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup point standings and finished sixth at the season-opening Daytona 500. He won the 2001 season-ending Winston Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway. "I want to thank Richard, all of the guys on the Cingular Wireless team, and everyone at RCR for letting me chase one of my dreams," said Gordon.

4/25/03

Mario To Appear On The Today Show And Good Morning America  UPDATE A reader writes, Hi. Just saw Mario on the Today show, being interviewed by Matt Lauer. Mostly it involved his crash, what was going through his mind, what was he thinking driving at 63, and how he explained "his little fender bender" to his wife. Mario explained that he thought it was going to be a private test, and he didn't realize until after the incident that there were several reporters and a helicopter filming. Tim Bogert   4/24/03 - Race car legend Mario Andretti will appear on two morning talk shows Friday, April 25, 2003, discussing his recent driving experiences at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and his accident. Video of the accident will be shown during the segments.

4/25/03

BAR signs new sponsor  The BAR F1 team has signed industrial chemicals company Amik as a new sponsor.

4/25/03

CART moves closer F1  This Grandprix.com article says, the CART franchise board is continuing to change its rules to make its Champ Car World Series more flexible in the future. The new rules include the elimination of the mandatory pit window that was introduced last year which meant that cars had to pit within a specific number of laps. This was designed to avoid races being decided on fuel economy. The board has left open the possibility of the rule still being applied at the larger ovals. There are also changes to the pace car rules with lapped cars in future having to move over and drop behind those on the lead lap (if the yellow flag is in the last 10 laps of the race). This avoids the possibility of the outcome of a race being affected by backmarkers.  CART is also bringing in cost-cutting measures, which sound similar in many respects to those tried in F1. Teams will nominate a lead car and are not allowed to run a spare unless that first car is damaged beyond repair. If the spare car is needed at any time after qualifying, the car will start the race at the rear of the field.  For 2004 there is a restriction on the number of people teams can bring with them to races with a maximum of 15 working crew members per car, not including marketing and PR staff. Third shock absorbers are to be banned and only mechanical differentials will be allowed.  There is also going to be an aerodynamic freeze on the cars for the next two years, beginning in the middle of May. This move will eliminate the need for chassis update kits. It is worth noting that the rules continue the current CART trend to moving towards the F1 regulations - which may or may not be significant, depending on whether or not F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone buys CART.

4/25/03

Tony Ave to drive for P1 Racing  San Clemente, California based CART-Toyota Atlantic team P1 Racing has announced veteran driver and past Atlantic race winner Tony Ave will contest the third round of the series at the famed Milwaukee Mile oval for the team. The deal is only for the one race with no immediate plans to continue. Ave last ran in Toyota Atlantics when he drove for P1 for the entire 2001 campaign, winning at Nazareth Speedway, and finishing second at Chicago Motor Speedway, both ovals. The win at Nazareth was also the last victory for the team. P1 owner Bill Fickling is excited to be working with Ave again. "I'm really pumped to have this opportunity with Tony again," he said. "He is one of the most versatile drivers out there right now, and really knows his way around an oval. I felt we had a really good car there last year, and with Tony's race craft we just might surprise some people." Fickling is under no illusions of the task at hand stating, "we know this is going to be a David vs. Goliath situation, with many teams probably spending more on hospitality than we have in our whole budget," he joked. "But seriously I think we have a great chance to score an upset here." Ave, who recently scored an impressive third place at the Phoenix International Raceway in an Infinity Pro Series Race in a one-off, knows the difficulties of such a situation. "One-offs are always difficult under the best of circumstances," he said. "But the guys at P1 are certainly capable of pulling it off. I'm really gratefully to the team for this opportunity and hope we can demonstrate what we are capable of." The Loyning's-powered team will also field a car for Trois-Rivieres, Quebec native Stephan Roy who signed with the team just prior to Long Beach and plans to contest the rest of the season with P1. Roy scored an impressive eighth place finish at Long Beach after not having driven since August of last year. Roy also raced with P1 in 2001 for the majority of the season and enjoyed his best result of third at Chicago where he shared the podium with teammate Ave. P1's next outing will be a two day test at Portland International Raceway with Roy behind the wheel on April 30th-May 1st, before heading to the May 31st race at the Milwaukee Mile. Check back to www.p1racing.com for more info on the team.

4/25/03

Jordan leads soggy Silverstone  Brazilian GP winner Giancarlo Fisichella was quickest in testing at a damp and foggy Silverstone circuit on Thursday. The Roman finished his day at the wheel of a Ford-powered EJ13 a couple of tenths up on his yellow-clad team-mate Ralph Firman within sight of the Jordan factory in Northamptonshire. Rain and fog interrupted running at the English circuit as the team, Renault and Williams wrapped up preparations for next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. Fisichella and Firman worked on tires, aerodynamics and control systems work, in addition to some wet tire testing. Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering said, 'It was a little bit difficult with the inconsistent weather conditions but we did some wet tire testing and achieved some productive tests in the other areas we worked on.' Allan McNish, in the sole Renault R23, trailed the Jordan-powered pace by half a second as Enstone wrapped up a two-day session. The circuit remained closed at the beginning of the afternoon, but as conditions improved, the Scottish tester managed a 'limited amount of laps' of engine mapping. Technical director Mike Gascoyne reported, 'In the morning we tried the development engine again without any problems, and also continued with the suspension development.' Marc Gene brought up the rear in his FW25 after Juan Pablo Montoya smashed his own Williams racer into the wall on Wednesday. A statement explains how the Grove-based team 'focused primarily on chassis development work with additional emphasis on tire and gearbox improvements.' 'We've learnt a great deal and tested some new parts ready for the Spanish Grand Prix next week,' chief engineer Sam Michael added. Dr Mario Theissen explained how engine partner BMW worked on further improvements to the traction control now that the FIA has assured teams that electronic bans are delayed until 2004. The German concluded by stating that 'a race simulation had been scheduled but was hampered and interrupted' by the bad weather.

4/25/03

F1 legend visits Minardi  American F1 legend Phil Hill was a special visitor to the Minardi factory in Faenza following last Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix.  The 1961 world champion was at Imola's Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit (Italy) to support his son Derek who will spend 2003 at the wheel of an International F3000 - support category to F1 - contender.  'We are honored to have enjoyed a visit from this great racing driver and former champion, and to have had the opportunity to show him the reality of the team,' said team founder Gian Carlo Minardi.  He added, 'From a personal point of view, I was very excited to meet with Phil Hill.  'His is a legendary name, and one I have known since I was 14, when I took my first steps in the world of motorsport.'

4/25/03

Tire accusations fly  Formula One's tire war reached a new level of intensity this week with Bridgestone accusing Michelin of breaking a 'gentleman's agreement.'  'Those who test on Friday morning are absolutely free,' Michelin's competition boss Pierre Dupasquier said. 'They can test anything.'  Not, however, according to Bridgestone and technical manager Hisao Suganuma.   The Japanese reckons his firm and Michelin agreed that tire development would be forbidden from the extra Friday test sessions.  Suganuma insists that Bridgestone are abiding the agreement, but accused Michelin - who test on Friday mornings with Renault and Jaguar - are not.   'My understanding of Friday testing is you supply the tire for that weekend,' Suganuma said.  He said Bridgestone would continue to 'respect that condition,' but admitted that the world champion marque would think about 'how to react' to this matter.

4/25/03

Jungle Boy responds to pressure  After being put 'on notice' by his Jaguar team, Antonio Pizzonia says he will bounce back and prove what he can do in Formula One. Sources say that 22-year-old Brazilian is being given one last chance to shine at next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix before Alex Wurz is drafted in to substitute his sluggish pace. 'I think I have a chance to prove what I can do and I will do it,' he told reporters while testing at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello on Thursday. 'I hope I have a productive weekend in lots of ways in Spain.' Some news reports, meanwhile, are already putting lanky McLaren tester Wurz in the R4 for his home Austrian Grand Prix later next month, but a Jaguar spokesman denied that 'any decision has been taken.' 'He's not been dropped,' said Nav Sidhu of Jungle-Boy Pizzonia. 'On the contrary, we are working very closely with him to help him improve. We make no secret that his position, however, is under review.' Most worrying for the Milton-Keynes team is Pizzonia's performance deficit to Australian team-mate Mark Webber. At his home race in Brazil, Antonio was 17th while Webber lined up third. At San Marino last weekend, Pizzonia was 15th, while Webber qualified impressively again to start from 5th.

4/25/03

HANS Device saves Montoya  Juan Pablo Montoya is nursing nothing worse than sore elbows and a strained back after crashing at nearly 300km/h during Silverstone testing this week. The Colombian ace, trying developmental aerodynamic components and a new gearbox at the Northamptonshire session, lost control at the Maggot's section of Silverstone's flat-out Beckett's complex. 'When I turned right,' said the 27-year-old, 'the car oversteered a bit and suddenly it was gone.' Montoya said the impact was the 'biggest' of his Formula One career and so praised the mandatory Head And Neck Safety (HANS) for working 'really well.' 'I could actually feel it hold my head because the impact was huge,' says Juan Pablo. He ended up underneath the tire barriers, the marshals and trackside doctors taking some 10 minutes to free a shaken Montoya from the wreckage before sending him off for medical checks. 'Now I'm fine,' he promised. 'Just a bit sore in my back and elbows.' Despite the FW25 write-off and early end to his Silverstone test, Juan Pablo Montoya said his BMW-powered Williams team made significant progress ahead of the Spanish GP (May 4). 'The car was very good,' he added. 'Both days I was quickest and the car is improving all the time. Today I went to visit the factory to see how things are going.'

4/25/03

Zanardi comments on return  Alex Zanardi's return to the scene of his career-ending crash will be an emotional one, the former Formula One ace explained. Zanardi lost both of his legs, and nearly his life, in an horrific CART accident at Germany's Lausitzring circuit in September of 2001. Now, two years on, the Italian has been named grand marshal of the German 500 on May 11 and says he 'wouldn't be human' if he didn't feel a twinge of emotion when he surveys the tarmac. Zanardi, who lives in Monaco, has been keeping himself busy on projects including building go-karts for the physically challenged and on a mono-ski so that double amputees can return to the slopes. The former double CART champion, who also raced for Lotus (1994) and Williams (1999) in a brief and disappointing F1 career, admitted there will be 'something' going through his mind when he returns to Lausitz. 'But, quite frankly, I feel that psychologically, the accident is definitely behind me. 'I have raced fantastic cars throughout many years and I've been able to enjoy great satisfaction at many different levels. I have no regrets.'

4/25/03

Mario Andretti challenges all promoters  On Thursday CART teleconference with Chris Pook and Road America President George Bruggenthies, racing legend Mario Andretti commented on a question about making Road America a success again, especially in these hard economic times.  “It’s all about work,” Andretti said in challenging race promoters who are finding the rows hard to hoe in recent years. “You can blame the economy, you can blame a lot of things and have all the excuses in the world. But the bottom line is you gotta grab the bull by the horns and say ‘this can be done.’” Andretti was speaking in reference to work he’s done in the past six weeks to resurrect a CART race at Road America in Wisconsin. A dispute between CART and Road America led to lawsuits until Andretti stepped in and brokered a settlement that put the race back on the CART schedule. “A lot of these promoters have to get off their duffs and work harder. You need to work harder today. There’s more competition and there are more choices out there. You have to believe in what you’re doing and that’s contagious.”   “I must thank Mario Andretti for his tireless efforts toward getting Road America back on our schedule,” said CART Champ Car President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. “It is great to see that he has the same level of passion for the heritage of CART Champ Car racing that he did when he was behind the wheel.” “We are delighted to have the issues resolved and the Champ Cars coming back to Road America,” said track General Manager George Bruggenthies. “We truly appreciate Mario Andretti, the CART Champ Car staff and Board working closely with Road America to make another two seasons here a reality. We also want to thank the fans who have written and called to express their support for both open-wheel and road racing.”

4/25/03

Brands Hatch, an Engineer's view  A native of England and a veteran of British Motorsports, Graham Taylor, the race engineer for the #31 entry of Ryan Hunter-Reay gave us some tips on what to expect at the upcoming Champ Car event at Brands Hatch. “I think the race at Brands Hatch is going to be unbelievably exciting. This is a true bull-ring of a circuit with incredible overtaking opportunities. The drivers will have to muscle their cars around, there will be 2,000 gearshifts and they will definitely have had a work-out by the end of the 165 laps. The most exciting corner for the drivers will be the Paddock Hill Bend, it will be a fifth gear corner at 135-140 mph and the apex is blind. In addition to the other elements, we will be running a compromised road course aero set-up to accommodate the fact that we race on an oval the following weekend with that same aero package, it should make for an exciting show. The spectators at Brands Hatch will be able to see all of the action all of the time, it will be a race they won’t soon forget.” Taylor joined American Spirit and the Champ Car World Series, from Arrows Formula One Team, prior to his three years at Arrows; he engineered the Volvo team to the series title in the British Touring Car Championship.

4/24/03

Snyder joins Dreyer & Reinbold  Veteran IRL IndyCarTM Series mechanic and engineer Owen Snyder III has joined Dreyer & Reinbold Racing as the chief engineer for Robbie Buhl’s entry. Snyder worked on the Indianapolis 500-winning cars of Eddie Cheever Jr. in 1998 and Al Unser Jr. in 1992, serving as engineer for Cheever and chief mechanic for Unser. Snyder’s mechanical roots were planted in sprint-car racing before moving to Indy-style cars in 1980. He has worked on cars driven by Indy legends Johnny Rutherford, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti and Gordon Johncock. “The proudest thing is that I’ve been able to make a living in racing,” Snyder said. “It’s all I’ve done all my life, and I know not everyone gets to making a living at what they like to do. Overall, I’ve had pretty good success, but I’ve still got a long way to go. There’s always more races to win.” Snyder will serve as engineer for the No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by team co-owner Buhl. The team also fields a car driven by Sarah Fisher. “Dreyer & Reinbold is definitely a growing team,” Snyder said. “They have a nice long-term plan, growing bigger and better, and I hope to help them get back in the winner’s circle and grow with them. A two-car team is definitely the way to go to compete with the top teams and to have a better setup on race day. You’re not going to do with one driver. If we can get our two working together to go faster and better, we’ll have achieved something. “It’s kind of the mentality of American racers, to take what you have and make the best of it. Right now, there’s a lot to be gained because Robbie isn’t happy with car’s handling. Until we’ve got both of our cars at least competing as the fastest Chevy’s, we’ve got some work to do.”

4/24/03

Vegas sets Indy 500 odds   Sports betting is legal in Nevada, and a Las Vegas casino has wasted no time in setting odds for the 87th Indianapolis 500 on May 25. According to a report in the Las Vegas Sun, Station Casinos has set Michael Andretti as the race favorite at 7-1 odds. Tony Kanaan and 1999 Indy winner Kenny Brack are next at 8-1. Two-time defending Indy champion Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and series points leader Scott Sharp are at 10-1. Two-time Indy winner Al Unser Jr., Felipe Giaffone and Gil de Ferran are at 15-1, while Tomas Scheckter is alone at 18-1. Two-time defending IndyCar Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. is at 25-1 along with Indy rookies Buddy Rice and Dan Wheldon, while Tony Renna and Jaques Lazier are at 30-1. Two-time Indy winner Arie Luyendyk and 1996 winner Buddy Lazier are each at 35-1, with Billy Boat and Vitor Meira at 40-1. Robbie Buhl and 1999 series champion Greg Ray are at 45-1, with Sarah Fisher at 50-1, A.J. Foyt IV at 55-1 and Scott Mayer at 75-1. Shigeaki Hattori, Tora Takagi and Roger Yasukawa round out the odds at 100-1 each.

4/24/03
World Series by Nissan

Bas Leinders fast at Zolder  Thursday’s World Series by Nissan practice sessions at the circuit of Zolder (Belgium) were dominated by one man, Racing Engineering’s Bas Leinders. Bas marked the fastest lap time and broke the track record with 1,21.540, ahead of Montagny (1,21.609) and Kovalainen (1,22.248). Racing Engineering has arrived at Zolder with high expectations. Not only is it the home track of Bas Leinders, but also after the technical problems he had to face in Jarama Stephane Sarrazin is very motivated and ambitious to prove his capabilities at the Zolder track. Bas, content with the work done today, finished the private testing day recording the fastest lap time. Stephane Sarrazin is also satisfied with the results of today’s practice, in which he finished 6th. Stephane’s focus was mainly on gathering information on the track and the car in order to prepare a very competitive car for the qualifying and races. After the free practice Bas announced “We are happy with the work done in Zolder. My position is partially due to the good testing done in Jerez last week. We improved the car quite a lot after Jarama and hopefully we can continue in this way.”

4/24/03

CART Stars go-kart series kicks off this weekend  Many of the nation's future auto racing stars begin their trek to possible stardom this weekend (April 25-27) when the 2003 Snap-on.com Champ Car "Stars of Tomorrow" presented by RACER national karting series opens at the new Buttonwillow Raceway karting track near Bakersfield. Led by a host of top national karting drivers, the season opener for the Western Division of Stars of Tomorrow will feature young racers in six separate classes including the new international categories ICC (125cc Shifters) and ICA (100cc direct drive). In addition, the other categories include the Senor Class of Rotax (125cc Clutch), 80cc Junior Shifter, Junior Super Can (100cc shifter) and the Grand Proucts Cadet class for youngster 8-12 years of age). "We are very excited about the opening of the new Stars of Tomorrow season," said Bobby Rahal, the three-time Champ Car champion and one of the prinicipals of the Stars series. "We have updated the series over the winter with the international classes, a major series sponsor, a presenting sponsor, new management, new media opportunities including a new partner in the SPEED Channel. We know the racing will be close, competitive and very entertaining this year and the 2003 series will produce some of North America's future racing stars." The Buttonwillow event, set on the new seven-tenths of a mile course, will be run in conjunction with the Sports Car Club of America's (SCCA) regional event on the bigger road circuit. Practice for the Stars event will be on Friday with two full programs (qualifying, heats and finals) slated for Saturday and Sunday. "We are expecting a good field for the opening race of the year," said Paul Zalud, director of operations for Stars. "We had some great racing last year and, with the competition set for 2003, I expect the action to be even better. These young racers will have some great wheel-to-wheel racing at Buttonwillow." Many of the nation's top karting teams are expected to be on hand this weekend at Buttonwillow Raceway including Trackmagic Racing, PTK Racing (Paul Tracy's team), Italian Motors and KLS Racing. Among the top drivers will be former national champion Kyle Martin of Dallas, Ben Petter of Seattle, Alex Speed of Manteca, Calif., younger brother of former national champion Scott Speed, past karting champion Darren Elliott of Canyon Country, Calif., Lorenzo Mandarino of Vancouver, B.C., Canada and 16-year-old Nick Green of San Jose, Calif., son of former World of Outlaws sprint car driver Tim Green. In addition, 17-year-old Michael Abbante of Las Vegas, one of the finalist in Danny Sullivan's Red Bull American driver search, will be returning to the Stars of Tomorrow series this weekend. Abbante is considered by many to be one of America's hopes for a Formula One drive in the future.

4/24/03

Ferrari fastest again  Ferrari are likely to debut the striking and lightening-quick F2003-GA racer at next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. The world champion marque said it would green-light the introduction of its delayed car if it completed three back-to-back race distances in testing this week. On Thursday, Luca Badoer and Rubens Barrichello were back at work on a sunny Autodromo del Mugello, where Italian-born Badoer pounded home another 81 laps of long-run race simulation. Rubens Barrichello, the quickest man of the day in Italy, continued on development work with the new car, concentrating mainly on various changes of set-up as well as tire testing. Kimi Raikkonen was next best in his 'older' McLaren MP4-17D and only managed to get within 1.2 seconds of Barrichello's pace in the F2003-GA. Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren) was also in action, while BAR drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button continued work with a relatively unhindered day. Olivier Panis and Cristiano Da Matta were again the men in charge of Toyota testing, ending the day with mixed feelings after a few reliability problems on their TF103s. 'I must admit that we had problems today with some of the mechanical development parts we tried and had to go back to running with more standard specifications,' said Panis, a Frenchman. Nick Heidfeld was ninth of a field of ten in his Sauber C22 as the German admitted that the Hinwil squad have a 'lot of work to do' to make the car faster. Head of engineering Jacky Eeckelaert, however, said Sauber discovered some improvements which 'could pay off' at the forthcoming races. Embattled Jaguar rookie Antonio Pizzonia brought up the field after a troubled day epitomized by two Cosworth engine failures.

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1m21.193s 74
2 Luca Badoer Ferrari B 1m21.869s 86
3 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m22.467s 61
4 Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes M 1m23.255s 35
5 Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Honda B 1m23.559s 93
6 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m23.630s 52
7 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m23.868s 61
8 Jenson Button BAR-Honda B 1m23.895s 88
9 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas B 1m23.985s 97
10 Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar M 1m24.979s 35


Photos of F2003-GA at Mugello today

4/24/03

Mario Andretti backs away from qualifying for 500  This Indy Star article says, Mario Andretti acknowledged today he is leaning toward not being the substitute driver for Tony Kanaan in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Andretti awoke today with a sore body and a new outlook after Wednesday's spectacular multi-flip crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After seeing the television replay, the 63-year-old racing legend now knows he was very lucky to escape serious injury. "It's almost a message that tells me, 'Mario, you've been getting away with s--- for a long, long time," Andretti said from his home in Nazareth, Pa. "(Son) Michael and I need to talk and reflect to see what makes sense. But I feel I have to use an ounce of wisdom here. I can't be exposing myself like that." That was a change from his stance after the accident Wednesday.  Here is another article on this topic.

4/24/03

7-11 a sponsor success story for the IRL  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Thank you for the common sense approach you took on the 7-11 story. You are so right that the best thing for open wheel racing is for the 7-11 deal to succeed. That same thought should be applied by everyone in CART and IRL toward everything in both series. Success is good for both. Forget the war rhetoric, the them or us, with me or against me stuff, wishing the worst on each other for attendance and ratings, talking about traitors and unwilling to put out bodies on fire. Let's celebrate the differences: ovals vs road courses; who are the best drivers; are open wheelers better than NASCAR guys? Think about this and how we should adopt it. I am very pleased that RA is back on the CART schedule. That is good for everyone. It is good that Mario did something about the situation. It is good that he ran at Indy yesterday. The situation yesterday ended up, thank God, being a positive rather than a negative for everyone, including CART, where Mario is still recognized as being a very important part. Enough said. Thanks again. Name withheld.  Dear nameless, You are quite welcome. What you and many IRL fans don't realize about AR1 is that we tell it like we see it, good or bad. Both CART and the IRL get the "AR1 wrath" at times, and they will get the kudos when deserved. While many don't like what we say, or agree with what we say, they always know where we stand. That stance on the split is quite simple - the CART/IRL split should have never happened (we fear it will ultimately destroy the sport) and the sooner the two sides come together under some sort of common league with two divisions, the better. Instead of stealing sponsors from NASCAR, CART and IRL are trying to steal (and have stolen) them from each other. How stupid is that? We just hope it's not too late - NASCAR is like a snowball rolling downhill. It's getting bigger and bigger, and burying everything in it's path. It's so mainstream now, when you say racing, the average guy on the street thinks NASCAR. If this war/split goes on much longer, there will be no hope for open wheel racing. The only way for the two sides to work together and not steal/harm each other, is to be under one umbrella. If CART instead aligns itself with F1, they may very well succeed, but it won't necessarily do any good for open wheel racing in the USA.....CART and IRL teams will continue to try to steal sponsors from each other and confuse the fractured fan base.  Mark C.  4/24/03 - While CART's sponsors are doing very little in the way of promoting the CART series, the IRL is following in the footsteps of NASCAR in getting its sponsors behind the series and out to consumers.  Mario Andretti is giving the IRL more publicity by qualifying for Indy than CART will receive all season. You think 7-11 is doing back-flips about their sponsorship? Their sponsorship program is a MAJOR one with 7-11 getting fully behind their IRL program. If you go into any 7-11 right now, you see that they are selling 7-11 "gift cards" that basically work just like a debit or phone card, but solely for 7-11 purchases. These cards feature the 7-11 IndyCar and the IRL program. Millions of people who may have no knowledge of auto racing at all, see the 7-11 IndyCar. In addition, 7-11 has become the first-ever presenting sponsor for the Indianapolis 500 television coverage (not the event, but ABC's coverage). While this is a huge plus for the IRL, ironically, the best thing to happen to CART might be if its success for 7-11, which then may another future sponsor to do something similar with CART. Strange as it may sound, both sides of the open-wheel racing "war" need the other to develop successful sponsorship programs simply to show sponsors that they can get benefits from open-wheel racing. For example, if Target has success in IRL, maybe Walmart or even Kmart, should they come out of bankruptcy, may decide to run an opposing program in CART. Likewise, the worst thing that can happen to CART is for the 7-11 thing to flop, giving further evidence to sponsors that NASCAR is the only thing that can be successful in terms of motorsports sponsorships.  Unfortunately, it appears CART's sponsors are pretty much hands-off when it comes to consumer marketing, perhaps doing business-to-business deals behind the scenes with other sponsors.  If this is so, it explains why CART's TV ratings are so low and going lower - fringe fans don't know CART even exists.  CART's failure to have any of its sponsors make a big pitch to consumers, will ultimately lead to its demise.  Mark C.

4/24/03

Vegas seeks 2nd Cup date  Seven weeks after hosting a NASCAR Winston Cup Series event before a sold-out crowd of approximately 140,000, Las Vegas Motor Speedway would like to attract a second Winston Cup event to Las Vegas. "We continue to see other speedways going public with their efforts to land a second yearly NASCAR Winston Cup event," said Chris Powell, general manager of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "But there clearly is only one speedway that can offer everything – a destination city; more than 125,000 hotel rooms; great weather; excellent atmosphere and great racing. That's why we sold every seat for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 in March. "Ask the people who attend Winston Cup races – the drivers, the crew members, the sponsors, television executives, even NASCAR officials – which speedways should be awarded a second race. Las Vegas is at the top of everyone's list. And ask the fans who voted this year by filling the speedway beyond its seating capacity. "The reality is this: People love coming to Las Vegas." Powell said a second yearly event in Las Vegas makes good business sense. "What better market than Las Vegas to visit twice a year?" Powell said. "As new sponsors come into the sport, they want exposure in large, popular markets. We appeal to NASCAR's good business sense that another race in Las Vegas would be a tremendous benefit to the sport." Powell added that Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in contrast to other venues that host NASCAR Winston Cup events, would not be seeking state funds in order to upgrade its facility. "Our speedway will stand on its own merits," Powell said. "We will not leverage the possibility of a second Winston Cup race in order to seek public money from taxpayers. This facility already features all the amenities that make it worthy of another Winston Cup date. In fact, we've taken a leading role in helping build the sport of stock-car racing." As for shifting a date from another Speedway Motorsports facility, Powell said that would not happen. "Bruton (Smith, SMI chairman) has been firm on that issue, and we fully support his stance," Powell said. "But it wasn't long ago that NASCAR said it had capped the schedule at 32 races. Today there are 36. In the case of a unique destination such as Las Vegas, which offers a record of past success, there is a calling for one more."

4/24/03

Jos says Bobbi too slow  Minardi driver Jos Verstappen is not happy with Minardi test driver Matteo Bobbi. The Italian Test driver drove the Minardi PS03 for the first time around the circuit last week at Imola. Bobbi was 3 seconds slower then Justin Wilson and Jos Verstappen. "Bobbi drives some Friday tests, but that is almost useless," said Jos Verstappen in the Dutch media today. "Bobbi is too slow. Wilson does the same thing with the set-up as I do, I can't take profit out of that." Verstappen is happy with Minardi and thinks the Italian team can do better as they work harder. We can do better, but they have to give 100% then. We have to work hard to improve the car, we need more downforce. However I'm confident that it is going to be OK."

4/24/03

Will Champ Cars break Brands Hatch lap record?  UPDATE AR1 has learned that CART's Lee Dykstra predicted lap times of 36.99 seconds at Brands using simulation software. That information was passed on to all the cart teams. If so, we think the record will indeed fall, especially if it does not rain, and the cars can put some rubber down on the circuit.   4/24/03 Brands Hatch Indy Circuit record holder Mathew Mortlock, from Cambridge, England, looks forward to Round 4 of the Champ Car World Series which takes place at Brands Hatch on 5th May. Mortlock set the record time of 39.4 seconds in 2002 driving an ex-Michele Alboreto Arrows Judd in the EuroBOSS Championship.
Q: Do you think your Brands Hatch lap record will be beaten by the Champ cars?
A: No, I think they’ll find it just too quick. The circuit is tight and twisty and probably suits F1 cars better than [the grossly overweight] Champ Cars. Of course if they do beat my time I’ll just have to drive faster when EuroBOSS comes to Brands Hatch on 18th May. My lap record is 39.4s (an average of 112.03mph), although a few weeks ago I did a 38.6 and could probably get it down into the mid 37’s.
Q: What tips can you give the Champ teams?
A: The first team that offers me three complimentary weekend passes I’d be delighted to walk them round the circuit and tell them everything I know: blind braking points, best overtaking positions, best defensive positions and all of the intricate peculiarities of Brands.
Q: How do you think a lap at Brands Hatch in an F1 compares with a lap in a Champ car?
A: I think the F1s are probably better in the corners and there are plenty of them at Brands Hatch. There aren’t really any long straights for Champ cars to benefit from. The only experience I have of a Champ Car is the 1999 ex-Bryan Herta, Team Rahal, Indy Car that Robbie Stirling has driven in EuroBOSS. That car excels on long straights with its sheer physical power but it is heavy and not as nimble through the corners.
Q: How would you like to drive a 165 lap race at Brands Hatch like the Champ Cars will be doing?
A: It would be physically very tough. The most I’ve ever driven there is 50 laps in a saloon car and it was quite tiring. The Indy circuit has no rest points and I would suggest that all the drivers need to be at their physical and mental peak. I’m sure they will feel very tired by the end.
Not only does Mathew hold the outright lap record he is probably the only racing driver to have parachuted into Brands, when in the late 70’s, he was one of the world’s leading free-fall parachutists.

4/24/03

CART announces changes for 2003/2004  Less than one week after the Franchise Board of the CART Champ Car World Series voted to add more flexibility to its rule-making process, the owners and management of the series combined Monday to ratify a number of positive rule enhancements that will carry the open-wheel series through the remainder of 2003 and well beyond.   More.....

4/24/03

Andretti steers them straight  This Milwaukee Journal article talks about the reinstated CART race at Road America, and Mario Andretti's efforts to resurrect it.

4/24/03

CART officials look at Oregon possibilities  This Portland Oregonian article says, Although Long Beach has used the event to open the door to thousands of jobs, Pook contends the Portland race has been practically ignored by Portland and Oregon, a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. About all the city does to promote the race at PIR is keep the grass mowed. That difference in approach is a source of frustration for Championship Auto Racing Teams officials and local business leaders. Pook, who founded the Grand Prix of Long Beach, now heads the racing series and views Oregon's apparent indifference to the race as an opportunity lost. That needs to change, and change fast, said Rena Shanaman, who heads marketing efforts for races that CART sponsors. "Portland and CART are like a couple who have been married for 20 years and take one another for granted," she told the Portland Sports Authority on Wednesday. "It is time to renew those vows." Michael Harrison, assistant to Portland Commissioner Jim Francesconi, who oversees the city's parks, including PIR, said: "There's no doubt there is more that could be done. We know that we can do more, and in this economy, we can't overlook any opportunity."........Shanaman and Mike Nealey, who promotes the G.I. Joe's 200 for CART, recognize there are less than two months until the June 22 race. Nealey said he is working with business leaders to create an "Oregon Pavilion" to showcase the state to visitors. Francesconi has asked Mark Wigginton, PIR manager, to work with the Portland Development Commission to explore a similar display for the June race. Wigginton lived in Long Beach during the Grand Prix's early years and has seen the change the race has made there. "He's pretty impressed," Harrison said. "He keeps telling us that."

4/24/03

What is Mario thinking?  2nd UPDATE Yet another reader writes, To the reader who wrote Mario is a racer first and foremost.  WRONG! Mario used to be a racer/driver, now he is on the CART BoDs. His driving an IRL car for an IRL team at IMS is in direct conflict with the best interests of CART and CART stockholders. I greatly admire and respect Mario, but if I were a MAJOR CART stockholder I would be upset.  Mark McCauley, Texas  4/24/03 - Another reader writes, To those wringing their hands about Mario in an IRL car: “Lighten up, Francis.” Mario is a racer first and foremost. When your own son says, hey, dad, go ahead and enjoy yourself, take it out and let’s see if you can get it in the show, what’s Mario going to do? Race fans of the greatest driver of the 20th Century should be drooling at the chance to see him go for it at IMS. Toss all the politics aside. Forget the war. Put your worry beads in a drawer for ten minutes and enjoy Mario’s fun. He’s unhurt and he’s absolutely pumped to return. Michael, let’s take it one step further. It’s your last race. Wouldn’t you love to have your father race with you in your last 500? Maury Williams, Dayton, Ohio  4/23/03 - One of many letters we have received on this topic - Dear AR1, I can not believe that Mario Andretti would take the wheel of an IRL car. This from one of the most outspoken critics of the Georges and the IRL. What is he doing/thinking? At a minimum he could take the opportunity to where a uniform that is representative of his sponsorships and affiliations (like a large CART logo) rather than the sell-out Andretti-Green 7-11 IRL uniform. I just don't get it. Is he being paid for the appearance? Is money grubbing just the Andretti way? I would never want to see anyone get injured and I am very glad to hear he and Brack are ok, but I am glad this IRL PR stunt did not end the way Tony wanted it. I hope Mario realizes that Indy is no place for him. Chris Pook must be killing himself in trying to deal with all of the back stabbing he has to deal with. Perhaps you could post Mario's email address as well as those of his corporate sponsors on your home page so we can all tell him what we think of his test ride. No need for a reply. Just venting at another senseless CART back stabbing. Dan Thomson  Dear Dan, you are absolutely correct, unless those rumors of Bernie Ecclestone trying to push CART and the IRL together are true, in which case Mario would probably know what's coming down.  Mark C.

4/24/03

Vasser named 2nd Rahal driver for 500  Team Rahal announced today that veteran open-wheel racer Jimmy Vasser will be the team's second driver at next month's Indianapolis 500. Vasser's #19 Rahal/Letterman Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone entry, when combined with Team Rahal's full-season entry of the #15 Miller Lite/Pioneer Honda/Dallara/Firestone car with Kenny Brack, gives Team Rahal a two-car entry at Indianapolis for the first time since 1995. Vasser, who drove for Team Rahal during the 2002 season, will attempt to qualify the second Rahal/Letterman entry on the final day of qualifying for the 87th running of the Indy 500. While driving for Team Rahal in 2002, Vasser won the fastest 500-mile race ever (197.995 mph avg.) last November at the California Speedway. Not only does this entry mark a reunion for Vasser and Team Rahal, but also for Vasser and Honda, for whom he won their first open-wheel championship in 1996. Vasser currently drives for American Spirit Team Johansson in the Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford, and he will be in Germany racing in the German 500 on the opening weekend of Indy qualifying. "I am very pleased we have been able to assemble this effort as I have great respect for Jimmy as a person and driver," said 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal. "Although I was disappointed we were unable to stay together for the Champ Car World Series due to sponsorship difficulties, I am pleased that we will once again be together for the 500. Last year, the team and Jimmy were running very competitively and only an unfortunate gearbox failure prevented us from figuring strongly at the end of the race. With Jimmy joining Kenny now, I believe we are in good shape for presenting a formidable effort for this years' 500. I would also like to thank all the Honda people for their support in making this possible." "To run Indy is always special and to do it with Team Rahal and coupled with Honda, both of whom which I have a lot of respect for and with whom I have a lot of fond memories of my time with, makes it even more special," said Vasser. "Certainly we will have our work cut out for us with one day in which to qualify the car. Our qualifying chances would be better if we were there for the full duration, but that isn't possible because of the race in Germany. Certainly I will be the beneficiary of hours of work that Kenny Brack and Don Halliday will log in early May." "Honda is looking forward to working with Jimmy again," said Robert Clarke, Vice President and General Manager of Honda Performance Development. "Honda and Jimmy enjoyed some excellent results from 1996 through 1999, and it would be great to win with him again at Indianapolis."

4/24/03

Will IRL/CART split lead to extinction?  Has the creation of the IRL so fractured open wheel racing in America that it will become extinct in a few short years?  Consider this.  NASCAR's Martinsville race drew 5,631,000 US TV Households. That is more than the combined 9 2003 CART, F1 and IRL races that drew 4,664,000 HH's.  History may ultimately show that Tony George's legacy is one of total destruction of a sport, a sport that started long before NASCAR, but appears headed for extinction long before NASCAR....unless drastic measures are taken soon.  Mark C.

4/24/03

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4/24/03

Mario Andretti ups speed to 225 MPH  2nd UPDATE Before the crash Andretti had completed 50 laps with a best of 225.4mph. He needs to speed up a little in order to qualify for the 500, last year's final qualifier having lapped at 227.09mph.  However, his 225.4 is one of the fastest speeds so far at Indy this year.  4/23/03 - Mario has been involved in a terrible accident at Indy with Kenny Brack - see Home page.  4/23/03 - Unofficial time keepers in the afternoon had Mario Andretti up to 223 MPH at Indy today as he contemplates whether or not to attempt to qualify for this years Indy 500 in place of regular Team Andretti Green driver Tony Kanaan, who broke his arm in Motegi, Japan.

4/24/03

Mario - I was lucky  “I’m very lucky indeed,” said CART board member Mario Andretti following his violent crash at Indy Wednesday. “I didn’t hit anything hard except for the debris on the track. It just happened so quickly. Something happened to Brack’s car and he spun and hit the wall. There was debris all over the place and I had no warning whatsoever. It happened so fast there wasn’t time for anyone to warn me. I was going for it obviously and I came off of Turn 1 at full throttle and all of a sudden there was debris everywhere. What I hit wasn’t big but it was solid and it was able to launch me and then all I saw was sky. It is just one of those things. It happens and you know it is unfortunate because I feel worse about the car but I just couldn’t avoid it.” Andretti was testing the car in preparation for qualifying on May 10 for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500. Andretti may be asked to qualify the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone if Tony Kanaan is unable to drive on the first day of qualifications. Kanaan suffered a radial fracture in his left arm battling for the lead of the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300. “I don’t have any second thoughts about being out here,” said the 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner, Andretti. “It was just a freakish situation that I’m sure won’t happen again. Up until the accident the day was awesome. We were working and learning things about the car and from my standpoint I surprised myself that I was back in the groove. We were only making small changes and the car was responding beautifully. All we needed was another three minutes and we would have walked away very happy.”

4/24/03

AGR back testing this weekend  Today marked the final day of private testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Andretti Green Racing before opening day on May 4. Andretti Green Racing will be on the track this weekend, Saturday April 26, testing at Nashville Superspeedway with driver Dan Wheldon.

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