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DATE

News (chronologically)

5/12/03

Pook acknowledges mistake at Brands   This SpeedTV.com article says that Chris Pook is never one to pull any punches, especially when it involves himself and mistakes he has made. So it was no surprise to hear the CART president and CEO publicly shoulder the blame for the pit stop regulations that turned last Monday's London Champ Car Trophy into a fuel economy run reminiscent of Champ Car races before the mandatory pit stop windows. More....

5/12/03

Ticket deal at Darlington  On Thursday, May 15 and Friday, May 16 ONLY, fans may purchase two tickets for The Pantry Pole Day on Friday, August 29 PLUS two tickets for the South Carolina 200 NASCAR Busch Series race on Saturday, August 30th a $100 value, all for just $55. The pole day ticket is a collectible featuring Jeff Gordon and Cale Yarborough, and the South Carolina 200 ticket includes reserved seating in your choice of either the Pearson Tower or Tyler Tower grandstands. To commemorate the dominance of Gordon and Yarborough at Darlington Raceway, the track is offering a special, limited-time ticket offer for the upcoming Mountain Dew Southern 500 weekend, August 29-31. Fans may purchase two tickets for The Pantry Pole Day on Friday, August 29 and two tickets for the South Carolina 200 NASCAR Busch Series race on Saturday, August 30, for only $55. This two-day, $55 ticket deal is available only by calling the Darlington Raceway ticket hotline at 843.395.8499 on Thursday, May 15 or Friday, May 16 and asking for the 5+5 ticket offer. Tickets are also available for the 54th running of the Mountain Dew Southern 500 on Sunday, August 31. For more information on upcoming events at Darlington Raceway. call 843.395.8892, or log onto www.darlingtonraceway.com

5/12/03

Ticket deal at The Rock  North Carolina Speedway is offering ticket deals and prizes May 16 and 17 for fans who purchase tickets for the Nov. 9 Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 by calling the speedway ticket office or visiting two special locations. Tickets will be sold at the NASCAR Cafe in Myrtle Beach, S.C., May 15 and 16 during Bike Week and at the NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway in Concord on May 17. Prizes include pre-race pit passes, autographed items, speedway souvenirs and a chance to ride in the pace car around the 1.017-mile track. For a list of contest rules, call (910) 582-2861 or (800) 748-7467 or go online to www.northcarolinaspeedway.com

5/12/03

IndyCar video game to be released  IndyCar Series, the official video game of the Indy Racing League, will ship to retail outlets nationwide for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system May 20, five days before the Indianapolis 500. Officials from Codemasters, the publisher of the game, confirmed that dedicated versions for the Xbox video game system from Microsoft and PC-CD ROM will follow shortly. “We’re excited to release our IndyCar Series game in time for the world-famous Indy 500,” said Steve Lux, Codemasters’ senior vice president of marketing in the U.S. “Now racing fans and gamers alike will be able to recreate the adrenaline-pumping experience of the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ without ever leaving their living room.” Indy Car Series events are broadcast to more than 313 million homes across 66 countries. With speeds exceeding 220 mph, the IndyCar Series video game captures the exhilarating, ultra-close racing as experienced only by the professional drivers of the Indy Racing League. Set to be the most exciting and entertaining open-wheel racing game ever designed, IndyCar Series is the only game that features the official cars, tracks, teams and drivers of the series, all in TV-style presentation. “The Indy Racing League is thrilled that Codemasters has been able to create a game that accurately depicts the speed, intensity and excitement of open-wheel racing,” said Nicole Polsky, director of licensing for the IRL. “Since IndyCar Series will be available before the Indy 500 takes place, racing fans will be able to get their first taste of the Indy 500 before it even happens.” The game will deliver the entire Indy Racing season, including “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500. Players will experience lightning-paced action, authentic and intuitive handling, spectacular collisions and a dynamically adjusted level of difficulty to keep the challenges on the circuits coming heavy and fast. Players will continuously have to pass other cars by using drafting techniques, defending their position, maximizing grip in the groove and switching fuel settings to capitalize on speed or economy. For additional game information, check out the game’s dedicated Web site at: http://www.codemasters.com/indyracingleague [Editor's Note:  Well we know the IRL game will be on store shelves in time for Christmas.  CART's game was pending, but if they drag their feet too long, they will miss another key Christmas season].

5/12/03

Cleveland night race news   Fireworks, Other Activities Light Up Grand Prix …The 21 Musco mobile lighting towers won’t be the only objects illuminating the nighttime skies. The official City of Cleveland fireworks will take place following Champ Car qualifying on Friday, July 4. The fireworks will shoot right over Burke Lakefront Airport. Fan activities will fill the schedule during the daylight also. An All Champ Car Driver Autograph Session is scheduled for 7:00 – 7:45 p.m. on Friday. The time frame has been expanded by 15 minutes this year. The Fan Forum, a question-and-answer session for fans with key dignitaries from the Champ Car World Series and race organizers, takes place Saturday, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. The LaBatt Lounge featuring live radio remotes will be the place for happy hour each day. As usual, the Midway will be packed with vendors offering the latest racing souvenirs, collectibles and merchandise.
Metro Life Flight Returns … For the 13th consecutive year, the distinct blue-and-yellow helicopters will be on site and on call again at Burke Lakefront Airport. Metro Life Flight will offer its medical services to all fans and participants who might require emergency care while at the Cleveland Grand Prix. “The services provided by Metro Life Flight fortunately go unnoticed by many race fans, but the support and expertise provided by its personnel is absolutely critical for us to stage this Champ Car weekend,” said Graham Hearns, IMG vice president and director of events. “Metro Life Flight is recognized as one of the elite trauma and critical care teams around winning many national and international accolades. It’s certainly fitting to have only the best emergency team involved in this world-class event.”
Convention & Visitors Bureau Pitches In …The Greater Cleveland Convention & Visitors Bureau is taking a more prominent role in this year’s race. The CVB is broadening its promotional efforts of the U.S. Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix to draw more travelers to Cleveland as their destination of choice for the Fourth of July holiday. The organization has put forth a significant investment to advertise and market this year’s 22nd annual race. “The City of Cleveland is going to be action-packed with activities this Fourth of July. The race at Burke Lakefront Airport provides a spectacular centerpiece to showcase and draw more people to our city during this holiday weekend,” said Dave Nolan, president of the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland. “The CVB is proud to step up its efforts to promote this year’s Grand Prix. The race turns the national spotlight on our city each summer and pumps $24.5 million annually into our local economy. By contributing more promotional support, we feel that number can be even greater especially combined with it being a night race for the first time.”

5/12/03

CART & IRL overnight TV ratings  Both the taped delayed Brands Hatch race on Saturday and the German 500 on Sunday turned in an overnight TV rating of 1.2 with a 3 share on CBS, which equates to a little over 1.3 million households watching each event. Meanwhile, the Indy 500 pole day qualifying on ABC, the biggest spectacle in motorsports, got a 1.0, we think a record low. The IRL's last race on ABC came in with a 0.8 rating so it looks like CART is still more popular than the IRL and getting better network TV ratings and race day attendance.  Not bad for a series many said was dead.  It's clear CART must move all races to CBS in 2004.

5/12/03

CART hits a home run in Germany   There were more journalists at the EuroSpeedway on Sunday than we have seen at any race in recent memory, the Indy 500 included, which leads us to believe CART's real future is a little more international and a little less domestic.  The majority of them were from Europe, and Germany in particular.  As the race reached its exciting conclusion with Bourdais nipping Dominguez and Jourdain Jr., the European media let out a thunderous roar as the checkered flag flew.  They were smiling and their fingers immediately started to type their story they were to file that evening.  CART got a lot of media coverage in Germany throughout the race weekend, and from those we spoken too, in broken English, CART was well received. As for the fans in attendance, in typical European fashion, they were still blowing their air horns in approval an hour after the race concluded.  We can't imagine what it would be like if a German driver were in the race, and running competitively.  Getting a German driver in the series has to be high on CART's list of must-do items.  It's not even an option.  Mark C.

5/12/03

Nadeau's hit the hardest  This Richmond Times article says, #01-Jerry Nadeau's driver's-side crash didn't resemble the head-on impacts involving Bobby Hamilton, Derrike Cope and Sterling Marlin last year at Richmond International Raceway. The accident, which put Nadeau in critical condition with head, rib and lung injuries, also was unique for its violence. The wreck ranked as the highest G-force spike reported by one of NASCAR's "black boxes," the data recorders installed at the beginning of the 2002 season to measure the impact of crashes by the force of gravity. "It was easily the hardest hit," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's executive vice president for communications. "It was a whopper." NASCAR doesn't release the numbers recorded in impacts, but Nadeau's crash easily exceeded the previous hardest hit of a reported 80 Gs by Kyle Petty's car at Bristol Motor Speedway in March. The RIR wrecks involving Cope and Marlin reportedly topped 60 Gs, and Hamilton said he was told his truck crash into the Turn 1 wall at the 0.75-mile oval last September registered a hit of 58 Gs. "Jerry's car did not have any chance to scrub off any speed," Hunter said. "Normally you hit with a corner of a car. Kyle Petty hit with one corner and then the other before hitting sideways. In Jerry's case, the car almost hit perfectly flat against the wall." The driver's side is one of the most vulnerable areas during a crash because there is little separating the cockpit from the concrete. Gary Nelson, who runs NASCAR's Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., is working on a method to cushion the blow. Nelson is building a crash pad at the R&D Center to help gather data.

5/12/03

NASCAR distances itself from Linden NJ track  This NJ Star Ledger newspaper article says, Developer Morton Salkind says he wants to build a car track in Linden, NJ (North New Jersey, outside of New York City). Salkind says his track could one day host a NASCAR race. Not so fast, says NASCAR. The stock car racing sanctioning body recently sent a letter to Salkind distancing itself from the plan. In the April 24 letter, NASCAR President Mike Helton told Salkind, "Although NASCAR cannot and will not advise you on the development of your stated project, you must do so without any expectation or reliance that NASCAR will ever sanction an event at (the) facility if and when it is completed." Helton's letter was in response to comments made by Salkind to The Star-Ledger in which he said NASCAR would "happily" sanction a race in the region. In his strongly worded letter to Salkind, Helton said, "NASCAR has absolutely no affiliation or connection with you or your company and has made no commitment or representation of any kind to hold a NASCAR sanctioned event at your facility if built." Salkind's proposal for Liberty Speedway on Tremley Point in Linden calls for a 0.92-mile racetrack with 100,000-seat grandstand, expandable to 140,000 seats. The plan also calls for a 400,000-square-foot entertainment center and a 20-story hotel and conference center. Salkind would build the Liberty Speedway on a 140-acre site that once housed GAF, a chemical company. He said the $401 million project would be built with private funds. Despite NASCAR's distancing itself from the Linden proposal, the association in the past has said it would like to sanction races in the New Jersey-New York area, the No.1 media market. "A track in the New York area would be absolutely huge for us," said Rob Copland, a NASCAR spokesman based in the sport's Midtown Manhattan office. ISC is a publicly traded company, but the France family, which owns NASCAR, controls nearly 70 percent of ISC's common stock. ISC owns 12 racetracks scattered across the country, from Daytona International Speedway in Florida to the California Speedway east of Los Angeles, along with a 37.5 percent share of Chicagoland Speedway. "Our enthusiasm for being at the Meadowlands has not dimmed," said John Graham, ISC vice president of business affairs. "But recognizing that we have been looking and talking (for) a long time, we do believe it's in our interest, and the interest of the sport, that we are beginning to explore other sites in New York and New Jersey."

5/12/03
Industry News

New marketing chief for Brands  Alasdair Farrimond has been appointed as the new group marketing manager of Brands Hatch Circuits Ltd - formerly known as Octagon Motorsports.  Farrimond is the latest figure to join the management board of the financially-troubled unit which is trying to turn its fortunes around after heavy losses incurred last year prompted parent company the Interpublic Group to confirm it was looking at 'exit strategies'.  Farrimond will be responsible for the development of all marketing campaigns to support Brands Hatch Circuits’ core business sectors, namely events, corporate and retail sales.  His role will include the development and implementation of an integrated marketing plan for the five circuits, with key responsibilities to oversee the group’s advertising strategy, media planning and buying, database and customer relationship management, corporate branding and overall management of agency relationships.  Farrimond joins Brands Hatch Circuits Ltd. from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, London, where he was head of travel industry marketing. He has extensive experience in the leisure sector having previously worked for Walt Disney Travel Company and Universal Studios Escape and also the motor industry with Proton Cars Ltd.   Farrimond will be based at Brands Hatch and will have a dedicated marketing team of six people. He will report to Brands Hatch Circuits Ltd managing director Andrew Waller - himself a former Disney executive.

5/12/03

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5/12/03

Can't blame the economy on Indy attendance    2nd UPDATE Another reader writes, Jeff Scott you are the "Man". You hit the nail on Tony's head. My father went to Indy for 25 years and made me an open wheel fan. I will not, however, go to Indy again and give my money to the man who ruined the traditions of Indianapolis and open wheel racing. I agree completely with you. Until Tony is gone, please let it be soon, you will not see the fans return. Maybe some day the press in Indy will see the light and quit sucking up to that _________(fill in your own word here). Sincerely, Michael Ultimo Chicago, Illinois  UPDATE  Dear AR1, I have this to say: The economy didn't stop the fans in Monterrey, St., Petersburg, Long Beach, Brands Hatch and Lausitz to attend "CART" races.  Meanwhile,  the "IRL" didn't have much attendance at Homestead, Phoenix and qualifying for the "INDY 500," as "CART" events have had.  Mr. Tony George, Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, Toyota, Honda, Marlboro, Target, etc. must have a very strong reason to be spending their money on a series that just doesn't have any appeal. How ABC, ESPN chose the IRL is beyond my imagination, The 500 is not what it used to be as we saw from last year's fiasco of giving the race to the CAPTAIN and Marlboro. They have the TV contracts, sponsors, etc., but "Where are the fans?   Regarding the economy, have you seen the great attendance at NASCAR, and NHRA, races? Marta Campos, Los Angeles, CA.   5/11/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, This was a response sent to the Indianapolis Star in regards to the recent article concerning lagging attendance at IMS. Just thought that you might like to publish it, since it won't get printed in the Star. Jeff Scott To the editor, In regards to the article entitled “Race Ticket Sales Flagging” by John Fritze in Saturday’s Star, Mr. Fritze dances around the topic like a 4-year old ballerina. Mr. Fritze’s points concerning the economy may be valid, except that the Speedway didn’t have attendance problems during the Carter years in the late 70’s, when the economy was in much worse shape than it is now. I believe that in Mr. Fritze’s haste to blame the economy, he has ignored one very important factor -- an analysis of the actions of the man who is ultimately responsible for the Indy 500’s success or failure. In 1995, Tony George gave a middle finger to CART fans around the world and touted a more affordable, all oval series with a level playing field that would entice American drivers and smaller teams to participate and allow them to be competitive. At the same time, he was condemning CART for allowing engine manufacturers, large teams, road courses, and foreign drivers to ruin American open wheel racing. Understandably, many fans that yearned for the olden, golden days of the Speedway supported what was then the fledgling Indy Racing League. Although most CART fans weren’t buying it, Tony was convincingly sincere and honest in stating his “vision” for IMS and American open wheel racing. Nearly a decade later, where does the IRL stand? The IRL now has engine leases, Penske, Ganassi, rumors of coming road races, and a majority of the IRL drivers that were born outside the USA. By embracing the exact issues that he condemned in 1995, Tony George had shown the same respect to the early IRL supporter that he showed CART fans 8 years ago. Whereas CART fans are not surprised, many of the original IRL fans’ eyes have been opened to the real reason for the creation of the IRL - ego, money and greed, mixed with a healthy dose of stupidity. Because of this, I believe that Tony’s arrogance and ignorance of fans is the largest factor in the decline of the Indy 500 attendance. Notwithstanding CART previous management debacles, Mr. George is the most destructive force in history of open wheel racing in this country. Most of the problems that both CART and IRL have with attendance and TV ratings can be directly attributed to his decision to split American open-wheel racing in 1995. While it is curious that Mr. Fritze failed to consider this, it is not at all surprising. The Indianapolis media has treated Tony George with kid gloves from the beginning, while painting CART as the villain at every opportunity. But now that CART is on life-support and the Indy 500 continues to fall off the radar, it should become clear who the real culprit is for the current state of the Indy 500 and American open wheel racing. Considering the damage that Tony has done to IMS and the resulting impact on the economy of Central Indiana during the month of May, the media should be calling for his head on a platter instead of placing him on a pedestal. Sincerely, Jeff Scott

5/12/03

CART's protest system passes the test   CART's protest system, unlike the IRL's and NASCAR's, is set up to be as fair as possible to the accused.  On Saturday at the EuroSpeedway, Michel Jourdain Jr's car failed post-qualifying inspection.  The team protested, which set off a series of actions per the CART rule book.  At each race there is a totally independent judge onsite to oversee an investigation should there be a penalty and a protest.  In this case the independent judge was Neil Komai.  Two other independent judges were called by telephone, Steve Summers and John Bornholdt.  Judge Komai heard all the arguments on both sides, collected all the data and then telephoned Summers and Bornholdt back in the USA..  Within hours the judges made their ruling, against the CART officials.  The protest was upheld and Jourdain Jr. was able to start third in the race, which is where he qualified. Mark C.

5/11/03

Foyt loses control again    Clearly in over his head, A.J. Foyt IV has lost control of his car yet again.  During the early stages of qualifying at Indy today, A.J. Foyt IV made a dramatic save (call it downright lucky) after his No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone spun exiting Turn 2 on his first qualifying lap. The car headed backward toward the outside wall, but Foyt steered it clear and coasted backward to a stop down the backstretch. He was unhurt.

5/11/03

Credit where credit is due   We have been extremely hard on CART in recent months because the drivers did not have a car/engine package they can make passes with on tight road and street circuits.  Ditto for ovals in the recent past (Handford Device tracks not withstanding) - it was follow-the-leader all day long.  With the new high-downforce package now in use, the drivers put on a show in Germany on the 2-mile oval the fans will not soon forget. We tip our hat to CART for getting it right this time.  Now CART needs to implement the passing button we have suggested for the road and street circuits and the drivers will then be able to put on races the fans will not soon forget on those nearly impossible to pass tight circuits as well. Mark C.

5/11/03

111,000 announced for German 500   The official 3-day attendance for the German 500 was announced as 111,000.  The breakdown: Friday - 15,000, Saturday - 28,0000, Sunday - 68,000.

5/11/03

Reader says fans are to blame   Dear AutoRacing1.com, In response to a couple of INDY 500-related articles you've published by subscribers in the last couple days, I have this to say. The fans are just as guilty for the present state of open wheel racing (especially at the 500) as the economy, those at the head of the sanctioning bodies, NASCAR and whoever else you want to throw in there. This time of year is a great experience for me and my family. I drove 2 hours to be with my folks and watch pole day. The 500 has been a great part of my family for the last 30 years. I can only blame the fans for not showing up. They know it will be a great race. I say stop being complacent and go and support open wheel racing (regardless of the sanctioning body) while it's still around. Even though I'm probably in the minority, I do support both. I have very little interest in NASCAR and, when I have kids, they'll know open wheel racing and no NASCAR! How does that sound?  Paul Richards, Des Moines

5/11/03

Brands Hatch race gets a lot of media coverage in UK   Our Gary Parravani scanned pages from some of the extensive media coverage that CART received in the UK media (the two big motorsports publications in the UK, Autosport and Motoring News) as a results of last Monday's race at Brands Hatch.  Photo Page

5/11/03

Zanardi's hand/foot controls   The photos below show the hand and foot controls specially designed by Adam Schaechter of the Rocketsports team and Lee Dykstra of CART.


Photos and illustrations by Mark Cipolloni/AutoRacing1.com

5/11/03

Junqueira's flat-out lap comes up a little short   A frustrated Bruno Junqueira had this to say after being bumped from pole position for today's German 500 - "I was flat out but still too slow to win the pole which is very disappointing because I expected to do it. We were 2/10th off of the pole time and I was flat out and I have no idea why. Two-tenths (of a second) is like a lifetime here. For sure I carry a TV camera and it causes drag but that is one-half of a tenth  of a second maximum though. For sure once the race starts it will be different. Our plan is to keep the second place starter the one that wins the race as it has happened all year and put the PacifiCare team on the top spot on the podium. It will be a very long race and maybe my experience as well as having a good race car will help us win our first race this year."

5/11/03

Newman Haas team working longer hours to win   Sebastien Bourdais had this to say after winning the pole for the German 500 -- "It's great to win the pole on my first trip to an oval. It was not really my job (that earned the pole) -- the engineers did a wonderful job to make the car where I could run flat out. I think we have had a strong car since the beginning of the season. We were quick at Brands Hatch so I didn't think we prepared the cars enough for this event since we had to make a compromise and have one set-up that would work on the road course and the oval. It was fairly easy to stay flat out all the way around. We definitely have a good chance to be on pace at all of the races. For once the winner will be the one who starts on pole (instead of second place). My goal is not to win the Championship - that is Bruno's goal. It is my rookie year. I just want to take it race by race. Too much confidence on an oval is not good for rookies. If you are confident too quickly you are basically going too fast too early. I scared the engineers (at the test) in Phoenix because I was going too quick - driving too fast too soon. You must work to slow yourself down. They say that driving on an oval is the school of patience. I'm happy for the Lilly team and all of Newman/Haas Racing. They are working harder than any other team. They stay longer at the track that anyone in the Paddock and they deserve the success they have achieved."

5/11/03

Is the Indy 500 debasement complete?   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I felt the need to pass along to all who have followed the CART/IRL split what struck me at the quintessential summation of the havoc The * Grandson hath wrought on open wheel motorsport in North America. I went to my local White Hen Pantry ( I will not do business with 7 Eleven for reasons that should be obvious) a moment ago for the Sunday “Chicago Tribune.” As I’m waiting in line I notice the sign taped at eye level to the wall right next to the exit door: “FOR SALE - 4 PIT ROAD TICKETS FOR THE 2003 INDY 500.” Along the lower edge of the sign were the pre-cut phone number tabs, maybe 15 of them,  just like the “Need Ride To (insert your city name here)” signs we all recall hanging in the dorms. Not one phone number tab had been torn free. As soon as my brain processed the image I felt sad at how the once mighty spectacle had been reduced to this by its selfish caretaker. A “For Sale” sign in a c-store. Great sorrow then set in as I came to the realization that the damage is done. The debasement complete. The 500 is well beyond repair. Even if the IMS/IRL could figure out a way to put themselves back into some favorable alignment with CART there is no way The Indianapolis 500 will ever be the race it was pre-split. There are simply too many asterisks after too many results. Especially last year's “competition managed” finish. I mourn the passing. RIP. J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois

5/11/03

Alex Zanardi, the human race   Andrew Longmore talks to an inspiring racing driver who today will exorcise the ghost of his crash.  This must-read London Sunday Times article (requires registration) says, Alex Zanardi is sitting on a dustbin outside garage No 29, wearing racing overalls and signing autographs until his arm aches. But he is happy, ecstatically happy. For the first time since a dark day back in September 2001, when he lost his legs but won the battle for life, he can use the present tense and say: “I am a racing driver.”  Those who were at the Lausitzring on Friday evening will forget the moment no more easily than Zanardi. And yet it all seemed so remarkably ordinary. At just after 5.30pm in this flat, gently rural part of eastern Germany, Zanardi walked down the iron stairs from the team offices on the balcony to go and drive a racing car. He chatted to his mechanics for a time, climbed into the car, put on his fireproof mask, his helmet and his gloves, and was wheeled out on to the track.  Zanardi had waited 18 months to feel the power beneath him again. His eyes were alert, then anonymous beneath the visor. The engine spluttered and howled, the grid cleared, and with barely a missed beat he was back in his old world. For his wife, Daniella, waiting by the pit wall, the familiar, receding drone, the theme tune of her marriage, had never sounded so warm.  The chants of a small crowd, scattered across the vast grandstand, added to the surreal nature of the scene, but there was no mistaking the sense of relief as the pitlane community returned to their rituals on the eve of a race weekend.  Everybody felt better: Alex was back.  Today, before the start of the German 500, the second leg of the Champ Cars European tour, the laps will be for real, all 13 of them. The significance of that number will not be lost on the crowd. Just 18 months ago, Zanardi was exiting the pitlane to start his final stint of the inaugural Champ Car race in Europe, when he spun across the infield and out across the track. With all the instincts of a double champion and long-time race leader, he tried to correct the back end. Hurtling at 200mph round the tighter of the two left-hand corners in the diamond-shaped super-speedway, all Alex Tagliani could see was the burgundy red and white cockpit of the Reynard Honda broadside across his path. He didn’t even have time to brake before he and Zanardi collided. The horrific pictures on television that night caused nations to wince. It was that sort of accident. There were 13 laps to go.  (you really want to read the entire article).....“I don’t have to break the track record,” he says quietly. “It’s just about the principle, about the idea that there’s not much you can’t do if you really want it. You can do a lot. Not everything, but a lot.” This, he says, is an end, not a beginning. The end of the longest pit stop in motor racing history.

5/11/03

Liked Brands Hatch   A reader writes, Dear AR1, I watched the CART race at Brands Hatch today, I don't get what all the negative squawking was about the event. I saw slow cars getting passed, I saw great racing and hard driving. The race was well produced, and exceeded any product ABC / ESPN TV ever did for or to CART. The only minor oversight I saw in the program was they did not follow the lead car on its last hot lap before they pitted, the most important lap for a driver to gain a position on another while still on hot tires. Regards, DRS, Louisville, KY  Dear David, While there was some real hard driving going on at Brands Hatch, the fact that the race had absolutely zero on-track lead changes, like all the rest of the CART races this year, was the exact complaint F1 fans had about the F1 follow-the-leader processions in recent years, and the subsequent drop in their TV ratings.  F1 had the wherewithal to make drastic changes in order to mix things up a bit this year.  CART must make drastic changes as well.  In America, the majority of race fans are NASCAR fan where passing for the lead is common place.  The best way for CART to gain a larger audience in the USA is by making their product interesting to other 'race' fans. The chances of winning over a football or baseball fan is remote.  In America, those 'other' fans are NASCAR fans and after watching side-by-side racing, complete with lead changes all these years, they simply will not watch follow-the-leader processions. That's just the way it is in the USA, CART's most important market.  So either CART is going to tailor its product to what potential new customers want, or they will continue their follow-the-leader processions and not gain any new customers.  The choice is rather academic really.  Mark Cipolloni

5/10/03

Chevrolet outclassed in the IRL   Chevrolet has been thoroughly beaten by Toyota and Honda this year in the IRL despite a 5-year head start in the series.  Chevy wants to test a new engine this coming week at another track.  If they actually believe Honda and Toyota are going to wait for them to catch up, they had better go to church and pray for a few miracles. Those two fiercely competitive companies are always going to be two or three steps ahead of Chevy.  Chevy's only hope is for the IRL to give them extra revs, which they said they would not do.  The fastest Chevrolet lap that has been run all week is Jaques Lazier's 228.401 mph on Thursday. That ranks 24th of all laps run by the 52 different cars that have been on the race track. IRL champion, Hornish's best speed is 228.210 mph run during Tuesday's practice. That's 28th on the speed list. Hornish's mission was derailed Thursday when a Chevrolet engine blew up during practice, setting the team behind for Friday's last full day of practice before qualifications. "We've made quite a few gains since the beginning of the season, but obviously our competitors haven't been standing still, either," Negri said. "We made some big gains in reliability and added some new features to the engine. That has been excellent. We had some problems with the gear drive early on and that has been fixed now. We have made some significant gains in fuel economy and some gains in horsepower, but not enough horsepower." "We thought we would be a little more in the game than we are," Negri said. "We have had some good gains on the dyno that haven't seemed to run as well on the cars as expected. We're all working together very closely. There are engines going back and forth from one dyno to another. There isn't as much difference to everybody in the group." "If we had been able to give him a little bit more horsepower, he would have passed a lot of guys," Negri said. "I saw him get behind some guys who actually finished better than him who were running slower lap times, but it would take five laps to go by because they were faster on the straightaways."

5/10/03

Kenny Brack's new band to debut   On Carb Day, Kenny Brack’s new band, Kenny Brack and the Subwoofers, will open the concert stage at 3:30 p.m. followed by the rock group, Cracker.  Brack’s new Pioneer-sponsored band will make its national debut next Tuesday in Indianapolis at the famed Ike and Jonesy’s Bar and will be seen live on three Indy television stations as well as ESPN’s RPM Tonight.

5/10/03

Tagliani predicts pack racing on Sunday   Alex Tagliani stated today - "The EuroSpeedway is awesome and I'm running flat out all the way around the track. The car is smooth, but we're looking for more speed," said Tagliani. "We qualified ninth this afternoon, but we expected to do a little better than that, especially after good results in the morning practice session." Tagliani spent the rest of the afternoon considering improvements to the # 33 Johnson Controls Lola that would give him any aerodynamic advantage in tomorrow's race. Along with engineers Will Phillips and Adam Schaechter, Tagliani worked the Lola over for slight mechanical and/or aerodynamic changes in an effort to run with as little drag possible. "We're restricted to how the car is set so we need to work on details which will reduce drag and make us quicker," explained Tagliani. The scene in the Rocketsports office is often fascinating as Tagliani becomes involved in intricate details of engineering the Lola and highly technical discussions. At other times Tagliani engages in animated dialogue with team owner Paul Gentilozzi on driving strategy and considers all factors when preparing for a race. For the German tri-oval track Tagliani has stressed how important staying with the pack is in order to maintain optimum speed and how crucial it is to do this properly. "For the race tomorrow, I predict there will be a lot of pack driving, so we must all respect each other and stick to the oval rules. We must pay attention to the two-stage speed limit, where slower cars stay lower," added Tagliani. "It'll be intense."  However, other drivers told us that because there is very little banking, much like Homestead, don't expect too much side-by-side stuff.

5/10/03

Bahrain could take Brazil's date  Next year two new venues will be joining the Formula One circuit, and one, Bahrain, could slot in as early as round three of the World Championship.  Round three is typically the Brazilian GP slot.   Bahrain, together with China, will be hosting its first grand prix in 2004, and both venues have still to be assigned a place on the calendar. However it appears as if they will be allocated places at either end with Bahrain's race taking place near the start of the year and China's at the end. The Middle East country's F1 circuit is still under construction, but is due for completion by March 7, 2004. This means it will be conceivable for Bahrain to hold a race in early April. Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed al-Khalifa, president of Bahrain's general organization for youth and sports, told Autosport: "Initially we just want to make the event a success for the fans but fixing a date is important for us and for the continuation of that date. Ideally it will be at the beginning or the end of the season because we can't have a date in the middle of the season as it's too hot." "I've been to the Malaysian Grand Prix where the humidity is around 90 percent and I've seen the drivers after the race. It's not really a pleasant feeling, not for the spectators or the drivers. We don't want that." He added: "We have almost zero humidity during the beginning of the season so we'd prefer the climate to be acceptable for everyone."

5/10/03

Billy Boat medical update   A medical update on Billy Boat, who crashed during Indianapolis 500 pre-qualifying practice May 10 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Medical update from Dr. Henry Bock, medical services director for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League: Billy Boat has been released from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. He will be re-examined tomorrow morning at the Clarian Emergency Medical Center in the infield of IMS to determine his fitness to participate in tomorrow's activities.

5/10/03

Jourdain fails post-qualifying inspection   UPDATE  After hearing the formal protest lodged by Team Rahal covering Saturday’s decision by the CART Champ Car World Series to disallow the German 500 qualifying time of driver Michel Jourdain Jr., the series judges have decided in favor of the team, and have revoked all penalties. On May 10, 2003, initial technical inspection found the team’s car to be in violation of Champ Car rule 9.5.2H.2, which states ‘No addition of air ducts or modification of the filter mounting is allowed’. After hearing from both sides in the matter and an examination of the race car parts in question, the judges upheld the Team Rahal protest. As a result, the team will not be fined, $500 of their protest fee will be returned and the #9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone of Jourdain will be returned to its rightful place on the grid, meaning that Jourdain will start third in Sunday’s German 500 at EuroSpeedway Lausitz. The race starts at 2 p.m. local time, (8 a.m. Eastern) and can be seen on a same-day, tape-delayed basis on CBS Sports at 1 p.m. Eastern.   5/10/03 - The Team Rahal Champ Car entry driven by Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) failed post-qualifying technical inspection for Sunday’s German 500 at EuroSpeedway Lausitz and will start the race on the tail end of the grid after qualifying third this afternoon with a time of 37.274 seconds (195.386 mph). CART Champ Car officials found the Team Rahal machine to be in violation of Rule 9.5.2H2 of the Champ Car Rule Book which states, “No addition of air ducts or modification of the filter mounting is allowed.” The violation will also result in a $10,000 fine for Team Rahal. As per provisions allowed in the Champ Car Rule Book, Team Rahal has protested the disqualification. The protest is currently being heard by a panel of CART judges and an announcement of the decision will be made upon completion of the review.

5/10/03

Seen at EuroSpeedway   Danish ALMS driver Tom Kristensen, shakes hands with CART president Chris Pook while chatting with CART team owner and fellow ALMS driver Stefan Johansson.  In the past, Kristensen, who has been fast in F1 testing, has not been willing to make the commitment necessary to land a Champ Car ride, but we know for certain, he was interested.

5/10/03
Industry News

Conseco reorganization opposed   A Bankruptcy trustee is opposing Conseco's bankruptcy reorganization plan. The reason is a release of liability clause for a broad range of people employed or affiliated with Conseco operations.   Mark C.

5/10/03

Very European   The 20,000 fans in attendance for CART qualifying today at EuroSpeedway really hit home how much different they are than American fans.  Not only are they enthusiastic to see anything American, they even ask for autographs of the team owners.  The air horns some fans blow in the grandstands give this race a very F1-like flavor.   Mark C.

5/10/03

Did you know?   Did you know that when the Montreal race was scheduled for September 7th 2003 the promoter would have been allowed to construct as many grandstand seats as they have for F1.  However, between mid-June (right after the Canadian F1 race) and Labor Day weekend, they are restricted in how many grandstand seats they can construct because the track is in a park.  However, the promoter chose to move the CART race to just before Labor Day weekend, and hence be limited to how many seats they can erect. The reason they chose August is the weather.  There is a much higher risk of rain in September, so the promoter chose to go with full grandstands of 70,000+ vs. risking a rainy day and attendance of only 50,0000 in 100,000 seats.   Mark C.

5/10/03

IRL racing comes to CART   We spoke to rookie  Dingman driver Tiago Monteiro about how it feels to be on an oval for the first time.  "The car feels good but we're slow," said Monteiro.  "I am easy flat, 100% throttle all the way around, but the Lolas are blowing by me."  In traffic it's still 100% throttle, but the car does tend to wash out, or understeer, some.  Then it's a little more dicey."  Are you running a lot of drag/downforce  in the car, we asked.  "No, we are running minimum downforce, stated Monteiro."  100% throttle on an oval, CART takes a page out of the IRL play book.  Every driver told us the same things - it's easy flat all the way around EuroSpeedway.  As you know, we are against 100% throttle racing because it masks driver weaknesses, but it should make for a better show.  After Milwaukee, CART is back on the road courses, where driver talent means something.  Mark C.

5/10/03

Might Indy Car racing become extinct?   Has Tony George's splitting of Indy Car racing in two with the creation of the IRL doomed the sport to eventual extinction? Shall we plan the funeral?  Order the flowers?  Based on low attendance so far this year, and a possible short field at Indy, the handwriting is on the wall. The last time CART raced at Indy, the TV ratings were 10.9.  Since then they gradually plunged to a 4.8 last season, so low that now almost all Winston Cup races get a higher TV ratings than the once king of the hill, the Indy 500. The IRL teams count on the Indy 500 to sell sponsorship, as the Indy 500 drops in stature, selling sponsorship becomes harder.. But there are more signs.  High speeds, big name drivers, close racing do little for ticket sales at the IRL's biggest event.  By fracturing Indy Car racing in two, Tony George has allowed NASCAR to monopolize auto racing in the USA.  So strong is their monopoly, Indy Car racing is floundering by all measures.  According to this Indy Star article, Blame it on the economy or the price of tickets, but whatever the reason, ticket sales for this year's Indianapolis 500 have been lower than usual, maybe the lowest ever (Editor's Note - or maybe many of the fans think Paul Tracy really won last years race and have become so disgusted with the Speedway they are not buying tickets anymore). The Indianapolis Motor Speedway won't say how many seats are still for sale, but officials did say this is one of the first years a slump has warranted advertising to promote "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." The radio, television and newspaper spots proclaim that a "limited" number of reserve-seat tickets are still available for the race on May 25. But the Speedway's Internet site Friday showed openings in virtually every box, stand and vista around the 2.5-mile oval. "I've never seen it this bad before," said Dave Brusslan, owner of Preferred Tickets, a ticket brokerage based in Castleton. The company is sitting on 200 of the 500 tickets it bought for the race. "There's just no demand," said Brusslan, who has owned the business for 15 years. A spokesman for another broker, Tickets Together, said the demand is the worst he's seen in the 20 years he has been in the business. There are 30 sellers for every buyer, he said.....Speedway officials just announced plans to raise ticket prices next year by as much as $10 (and they think ticket sales are slow this year). "It's sad when attendance drops off," said Carol Bowling, 44, an Indianapolis resident who has been attending the race since she was 15. Bowling, along with a handful of fans, braved showers during a practice day at the Speedway earlier this week. "I've noticed a drop-off in everything right now because the economy is very slow." The economy may be one factor, but John Antil, a University of Delaware marketing professor, said he thinks sports fans in general are fed up by high ticket prices or simply have found other things to do.....In a 24-hour period ending Friday afternoon, about 120 Indianapolis 500 tickets were for sale on the Internet auction house eBay -- and only about 29 had received bids. "It's all events at this point -- not even just sporting events," said Scott Cutshaw, owner of Wholesale Ticket Service, an Indianapolis ticket broker. "Everything is extremely soft."

5/10/03

Tony George says full Indy field not guaranteed   How can the biggest race in the world be reduced to this?  One reason Tony George gave for creating the IRL was to ensure a full field.  He was concerned CART could not guarantee him a full field for Indy?  So he fractured the sport in two with the creation of the IRL.  According to this Indy Star article, Speedway president Tony George is concerned about not having 33 cars for the 87th Indianapolis 500. But he vowed Friday not to affect the natural process by giving money to teams. Only 28 cars have practiced for qualifications that begin today. Another will join the action next week when driver Jimmy Vasser arrives from Europe. Just one more car, at Team Menard, is believed to have an engine program to go with it. "If we end up with a short field, we end up with a short field," George said. "I don't know that anybody's going to do anything out of the ordinary just to create a full field of 33. "I'm not putting that burden on (the teams, engine manufacturers) or myself." Many veterans in Gasoline Alley expect George to exert his influence next week if teams don't step forward to add cars. "There will be 33 cars, you can count on that," team owner A.J. Foyt said.

5/10/03

Indy Qualifying a washout?   The weather forecast is for severe weather on pole day qualifying.  Today...occasional thunderstorms. Some thunderstorms may be severe
with damaging winds...large hail and heavy rainfall. Very warm and
humid with highs in the upper 70s. Southwest winds around 15 mph.
Chance of rain 80 percent.
Tonight...occasional thunderstorms. Some thunderstorms may be severe
with damaging winds...large hail and heavy rainfall. Not as warm and
humid with lows in the lower 60s. Southwest winds around 15 mph.
Chance of rain 80 percent.

5/10/03
Red-Bull driver search

12 drivers move to next stage  The 12 winners moving to Phase 2 of the 2003 Red Bull Driver Search are as follows:
Tony Richter: Thunder Alley Indoor Speedway, Brooklyn Center, MN
Shane Berndt: Thunder Alley Indoor Speedway, Brooklyn Center, MN
Amanda Stoddard: Thunder Alley Indoor Speedway, Brooklyn Center, MN
Brandon Stroschein: Thunder Alley Indoor Speedway, Brooklyn Center, MN
TadFunakushi: SpeedRing Indoor, Sacramento, California
Nick Green: SpeedRing Indoor, Sacramento, California
Wesley Boswell: SpeedRing Indoor, Sacramento, California
AJ Piferini: SpeedRing Indoor, Sacramento, California
Steven Elliott: Dromo One, Orange, California
Michael Mantel: Dromo One, Orange, California
Alan Sciuto: Dromo One, Orange, California
Casandra Quaglierini: Dromo One, Orange, California

5/10/03

NASCAR can learn something from V8Star cars  The German V8Star series is racing at EuroSpeedway.  The cars are a lot like NASCAR Winston Cup cars (actually closer to German DTM cars), in that they are front engine tube frame cars.  For safety, the driver's seat is actually a CART and F1-like carbon-fiber combination seat/tub, cut open on the top for easier ingress and egress.  The driver sits further back in the car than in a Cup car and away from the drivers door by almost 1 foot. 

5/10/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Webber Stays In Green Until '05
Ralf Says Goodbye To A1-Ring
Formula One Testing Round-Up
Minardi To Star In Vienna
Alonso Better Than Juan Montoya: Sir Jackie
BMW Welcome One-Engine Plan
Villeneuve To Re-Assess Strategy?

5/10/03

Zanardi back in the seat at EuroSpeedway   Alex Zanardi did some test laps late Friday afternoon at EuroSpeedway and turned a 37.8 second lap, faster than some of the cars are practicing at this morning.  This with the same turbo boost pressure and wing package as everyone else.  He went out, did two warm-up laps, then came in for a slight wing adjustment, went back out and cracked off a series of laps that would have easily been fast enough to qualify for the race.  As one CART official told us, Alex is an amazing man.


Photos by LAT courtesy of CART

5/10/03
Fran-Am

Fran-Am cars can race in SCCA  Effective immediately, Fran-Am 1600 cars are homologated for racing in SCCA. Cars may be entered as Formula -S in regional SCCA events. Drivers must provide their chassis number and have a homologation certificate issued by SCCA National office prior to showing up at the event. Drivers must have an SCCA license.

5/10/03

Former winners in Austria  This grandprix.com article says that this is likely to be the last Austrian Grand Prix for some years and as a result the organizers have invited all the drivers who have won the race to attend. Of those who have won the event, which dates back to 1964, Jacky Ickx (The winner in 1970), Emerson Fittipaldi (1972), John Watson (1976), Jean-Pierre Jabouille (1980), Jacques Laffite (1981), Niki Lauda (1984), Jacques Villeneuve (1997), David Coulthard (2001) and Michael Schumacher (2002) will all be there. Alain Prost (1983) will be busy elsewhere looking after his son's racing career while Alan Jones (1977 & 1979) is unable to attend because his wife is recovering from a road accident. Carlos Reutemann (1974) is busy with gubernatorial activities in Argentina. Lorenzo Bandini (1964), Jo Siffert 1971), Ronnie Peterson, (1973) Vittorio Brambilla (1975) and Elio de Angelis (1982) are dead. There is no word on Eddie Irvine (1999), Nigel Mansell (1987) and Mika Hakkinen (1998 & 2000).

5/10/03

The things race track owners have to do  This grandprix.com article says that we may think that organizing motor racing is not a difficult business but it is a lot more complicated a business than some would have you believe. In preparation for this month's big NASCAR events at the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC, the circuit management has just run an impressive test of its plumbing system. This involved the simultaneous flushing of the speedway's 3000 toilets to simulate a peak demand and to ensure that there are no nasty incidents... Apparently all went well.

5/10/03

CART to take page from IRL   CART teams will be using last weekend's Brands Hatch high downforce wing package this weekend in Germany.  That means that the cars will be glued to the track much better than in the past, so drivers will be 100% throttle much more, a la the IRL, though downforce is not as much as the IRL, and this track is not high-banked like many IRL venues.  Top terminal speeds will be limited by the drag from the wings.  There is a good chance we will see IRL like pack racing, or shall we call it driving.

5/10/03

Gordon looks for front-row spot   “I think we feel just as good as we did in 2001, when we sat on the front row with A.J. (Foyt). I think we were the quickest car that day in Happy Hour going into qualifying. Maybe we weren't quickest, but top three, I know. I feel real good about that 231 (mph). That first 231, maybe you could call it a tow, but the next time I was all by myself, with the 231.1, so I feel good about that. We did three or four laps in the 231 (mph) range. We came here to win the pole. You come here to win a couple of elements of the month. You want to sit on the pole, and you want to win the race. Everybody wants to do that. Being quickest in practice, it's nice. It builds a lot of confidence overnight. I'm sure I can run four laps flat tomorrow. I don't know if it will be exactly 231 or if it will be 230.5's, but it will be real close. You see how close the IRL has got these cars (i.e. excessive downforce, 100% throttle racing).

5/10/03

Dixon fastest when it counts    “We were the fastest car out there in the heat of the day. We posted our fastest speed without a tow at around 3:15 this afternoon. Obviously, we’re very happy with where we’re at. I think that the pole will be 231 (mph) or 232 (mph), depending on the weather. It would be great to be on the pole, but I’m hoping for a spot in the top three rows. That should keep us out of the mess that might happen at the start.”

5/10/03

Luyendyk crashes at Indy   UPDATE “I’m hurting between the shoulder blades pretty bad right now. But fortunately, nothing is broken; no fractures, cracks, nothing. So that’s the good news. The bad thing is I have to walk around with my arms folded to keep from hurting as much. My status is day-to-day. There’s no telling when I’m going to be cleared to drive. The doctor says it’s totally up to me, when I feel absolutely comfortable doing what I have to do to drive my Meijer race car. It’s strange, what happened. I’ve had much harder crashes where I didn’t get hurt at all. I wasn’t pushing the car too hard at the time. We finally got the car to where it was balanced just right through (Turns) 3 and 4, and I came by and swapped ends in (Turn) 1. I was planning to go around one more time before really standing on the gas. But I didn’t get that far, did I? The car was set up in a way where maybe it was too tricky for the conditions, which are different than they have been.  5/9/03 - Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk crashed this afternoon during the final practice before Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Luyendyk did a 90-degree spin to the right exiting Turn 1 in the No. 20 Meijer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, hitting the outside retaining wall with the rear of the car. The car then slid to the left and hit the outside retaining wall and SAFER Barrier at the entrance to Turn 2, turning 180 degrees and stopping on the track facing backward. Luyendyk climbed from the car with assistance from the IRL and IMS safety crews. He was transported via ground to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for evaluation after complaining of back pain. Before the accident, Tony Kanaan was fastest at 39.1037 seconds, 230.157 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

5/10/03

Indy 500 qualifying order 

1. 24 Robbie Buhl
2. 31 Al Unser Jr.
3. 10T Tomas Scheckter
4. 66 TBA
5. 10 Tomas Scheckter
6. 13 Greg Ray
7. 3 Helio Castroneves
8. 32 Tony Renna
9. 15 Kenny Brack
10. 26 Dan Wheldon
11. 12T Tora Takagi
12. 6 Gil de Ferran
13. 32T Tony Renna
14. 55T Roger Yasukawa
15. 52T Buddy Rice
16. 31T Al Unser Jr.
17. 66T TBA
18. 4 Sam Hornish Jr.
19. 9 Scott Dixon
20. 5 Shigeaki Hattori
21. 55 Roger Yasukawa
22. 27 Robby Gordon
23. 19 Jimmy Vasser
24. 7T Michael Andretti
25. 52 Buddy Rice
26. 14T A.J. Foyt IV
27. 54 Shinji Nakano
28. 27T Robby Gordon
29. 20 Arie Luyendyk
30. 3T Helio Castroneves
31. 20T Arie Luyendyk
32. 2T Jaques Lazier
33. 5T Shigeaki Hattori
34. 8T Scott Sharp
35. 21T Felipe Giaffone
36. 2 Jaques Lazier
37. 21 Felipe Giaffone
38. 26T Dan Wheldon
39. 9T Scott Dixon
40. 7 Michael Andretti
41. 68T TBA
42. 18 Jimmy Kite
43. 4T Sam Hornish Jr.
44. 6T Gil de Ferran
45. 12 Tora Takagi
46. 11 Tony Kanaan
47. 91 Buddy Lazier
48. 15T Kenny Brack
49. 98 Billy Boat
50. 23 Sarah Fisher
51. 8 Scott Sharp
52. 98T Billy Boat
53. 14 A.J. Foyt IV

5/9/03

Dixon Gordon tops final pre-pole practice day   Add Robby Gordon’s name to the crowded ring of MBNA Pole contenders for the 87th Indianapolis 500, as he led the final practice before qualifications with a lap of 38.9000 seconds, 231.362 mph May 9 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon turned his top lap in the No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone in sunny, warm conditions during the last 30 minutes of practice. He became the fifth different driver to lead one of the six practice days leading up to Pole Day. Rookie Dan Wheldon led two days, including Thursday with the top speed of the month, 232.202 in his No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Other daily leaders besides Wheldon and Gordon were Scott Sharp, Tora Takagi and 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack. Qualifying for the MBNA Pole starts at noon (EDT) Saturday. Robbie Buhl is the first driver in the qualifying line – determined in a blind draw after practice Friday – in the No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Gordon’s speed was the fifth fastest of the event, marking him as a strong contender for the pole and the accompanying $100,000 bonus. “We came here to win the pole,” Gordon said. “Being quickest in practice is nice, but that’s not when it counts. We’ve been chasing a loose car all week. Today, we made some chassis adjustments and changed some of the dynamics of the car. That seemed to help settle the car down and gave the car a good balance. “I think I’ll have a good car, both for qualifying tomorrow as well as for the race.”

5/9/03

Mario on TV  Auto Racing great and winner of the F1 World Driving Championship, Indy 500 and Daytona 500, Mario Andretti will be the guest on Speed Channel's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain tonight [May 9th] at 11:00pm/et. More...

5/9/03

Penske to run one of each   Team Penske plans to run two different makes of chassis for the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in seventeen years. In 2003, Roger Penske, Team Penske manager Tim Cindric and the team’s two drivers have decided that two-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves will attempt to qualify his tried-and-true Dallara while Gil de Ferran will opt for the Panoz G Force. “We’re kind of splitting the deck,” Penske said this morning. “I felt more comfortable in the Dallara,” Castroneves explained. “(I want) not only a fast car, but a car that’s stable in the race. “I won two Indys with the Dallara chassis, so why change?”  Full Transcript

5/9/03

Luyendyk crashes at Indy   Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk crashed this afternoon during the final practice before Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Luyendyk did a 90-degree spin to the right exiting Turn 1 in the No. 20 Meijer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, hitting the outside retaining wall with the rear of the car. The car then slid to the left and hit the outside retaining wall and SAFER Barrier at the entrance to Turn 2, turning 180 degrees and stopping on the track facing backward. Luyendyk climbed from the car with assistance from the IRL and IMS safety crews. He was transported via ground to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for evaluation after complaining of back pain. Before the accident, Tony Kanaan was fastest at 39.1037 seconds, 230.157 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

5/9/03

Ryan Hunter-Reay like Europe venues  “I have been anticipating this event (German 500) all season, and to make my oval debut at such a first class facility makes it even better. I like the ovals, I have had a lot of success on them and I think we should run very well here. My experience so far in Germany has been excellent and I hope that will continue this weekend. What a fantastic series we have, last weekend we were racing on one of the most historic road courses in the world; rich with history and tradition. This weekend, here we are in Germany on a 2-mile superspeedway; most likely the world’s finest oval facility, this is a great experience.”  Hunter-Reay will represent the city of Grossraschen this weekend at the German 500. The mayor of the town will be an honorary team member.

5/9/03

An apology to Nadeau  This Hartford Courant article says, Last Friday, Danbury native Jerry Nadeau sustained what were described at the time by NASCAR as "possibly serious injuries" in a crash during a Winston Cup practice at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va. A press release Saturday from Nadeau's team said that he was "being treated for head, lung and rib injuries." In Sunday's Courant, I reported that Nadeau had sustained a skull fracture and his prognosis was not good. This information was relayed to me from a source close to Nadeau who asked for anonymity. A statement Monday from Nadeau's public relations representative said Nadeau did not have a skull fracture, according to doctors. Nadeau's condition was upgraded from critical to serious. I was neither ordered nor asked by my superiors at The Courant to write this, but feel I must express my deepest apologies for any pain caused Nadeau's family, friends, teammates or fans.

5/9/03

Promoter won't let CART cut engine  This St. Petersburg Times article says, The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will continue, the race's promoter pledged Wednesday, even if its sanctioning group succumbs to financial difficulties. The promise by Mark Rossi, vice president of sales and marketing for Dover Motorsports, came a day after financial reports filed with regulators showed that the race's financially troubled sanctioning body, Championship Auto Racing Teams, suffered substantial first-quarter losses. "Absolutely, we would have the race next year," said Rossi, whose company markets and sells tickets to the event. "We have invested millions in that course. We would find another race sanctioning body." CART recruits racing teams, gets them to the track and negotiates television coverage of races, which are held on street courses and ovals. Its quarterly report, filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealed a net loss of nearly $9-million for the quarter ended March 31, up from $1.5-million a year earlier. Dover's commitment to continue the St. Petersburg race is backed by the Delaware company's relatively strong financial position. But even Rossi acknowledged that "with short notice, it would be difficult" to find another race sanctioning body for the St. Petersburg race. CART's primary rival in open-wheel racing, the Indy Racing League, currently races only on ovals, not street courses. The St. Petersburg race, a new event this year, was held on 1.8 miles of city waterfront streets. There's also talk of a different scenario that would directly affect the future of the St. Petersburg race: Formula One, the premiere open-wheel racing series in the world, would buy CART and take it private. The Long Beach, Calif., Press-Telegram reported last month, based on anonymous sources, that Bernie Ecclestone, the head of Formula One, is engaged in talks to buy a majority interest in CART. Rather than being reduced to a feeder series for Formula One, the report said, CART would serve as a compatible series. The executive infrastructure of CART seems ripe for such a move. David Clare, who had long been one of Ecclestone's top deputies, joined CART earlier this year as chief operating officer. A takeover of CART by Ecclestone probably wouldn't affect the agreement the promoter has with St. Petersburg to hold the race in the city, said Jackie Kovilaritch, an assistant city attorney familiar with the city's deal with race organizers. The agreement, signed in February 2002, says that CART, IRL, a successor to either of those sanctioning bodies or one that runs Indy-style cars could conduct the race. "If for some reason CART ceases to exist, it wouldn't necessarily require renegotiation of this agreement," Kovilaritch said. The initial agreement runs to February 2007, with the City Council having the option to extend it for two more terms, for a total of 12 years. If organizers wanted to race a substantially different type of vehicle, that would have to be approved by City Council members, Kovilaritch said. Whatever comes of such possibilities, the people at Dover continue to talk to sponsors for next year's race. Ross said race sponsors generally are renewing their commitment for next year's race, but the event still lacks a title sponsor. Then there's the challenge of improving turnout. Initially, organizers said they expected a crowd approaching 100,000 for this year's race. But city officials estimated the event's three-day total at 50,000. "It's a major priority for us to get a title sponsor," he said. "At the end of the day, our No. 1 priority is to get people out to the race."

5/9/03

Atlanta sponsor renews  Atlanta Motor Speedway officials announced today that Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific has renewed its title sponsorship of NASCAR Winston Cup's Georgia-Pacific Qualifying Night. Under terms of the new agreement, Georgia-Pacific will continue to back the fall qualifying session. Georgia-Pacific's paper towel brand, Brawny, will also sponsor the 150-lap Goody's Dash Race following qualifying.

5/9/03

Stewart's mom handles Tony's business  When you're the reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion and you own a World of Outlaws team, five United States Auto Club (USAC) teams, two three-quarter Midgets, one Legends car and a radio-controlled car company called Custom Works, you need someone you can trust to handle the very important paperwork and personnel issues that are a necessary part of such a multi-faceted organization. You need your mom. Just as Tony Stewart, driver of the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet. "She basically runs the whole office," said Stewart of his mom - Pam Boas. "She does the merchandising and pays the bills. Any business that I conduct, she oversees all of it. She does a really good job for me. A lot of people warn you about having family work for you, but it's probably the best thing I've ever done as far as my business is concerned. I even have my sister and my aunt helping me. It's given me the ability to focus on my racing with Home Depot, and not worry so much about what's going on with my business." After working in an orthodontist's office, Boas went to work for her son in late 1998. "I was a rookie right alongside Tony in 1999," said Boas, referring to Stewart's rookie season in Winston Cup. "Outside of raising my children, learning the business has probably been one of the biggest challenges in my entire life. We handle anything and everything that Tony's involved in - all of the corporate entities and all of the employees. Our corporate headquarters is right here in Indy, and everything falls under the umbrella of True Speed Enterprises. We do all of the accounting out of here, all of the insurance, all of the charitable donations, all of the merchandising from his website - even the shipping and receiving, as our warehouse is here too."

5/9/03

Hendrick Lowes team promotion  Team Lowe's Racing and Hendrick Motorsports announced today it has promoted Ron Malec to car chief of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo effective immediately. Malec, 28, has been with Hendrick Motorsports and Team Lowe's for the past two seasons as a team mechanic and rear tire carrier on race day. He replaces Jason Burdett, who recently left the team to pursue other racing interests. "Ron has been a vital part of Team Lowe's," explained crew chief Chad Knaus. "Since last season, we've been looking for a way to get his talents more involved with the team. Ron brings a lot of experience to the position, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to take on more responsibility. We're confident Team Lowe's won't miss a beat."

5/9/03

Craker to head Carb Day concert   Popular rock band Cracker will headline the annual Miller Lite Carb Day Concert on Thursday, May 22, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The concert will be the finale of a busy day at the legendary 2.5-mile oval. Miller Lite Carb Day begins with final practice for the Indianapolis 500 starting field from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (EST). Pride and a hefty payday will be on the line for 12 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series teams competing in the 27th annual Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge from 1:30-3 p.m., and Cracker will take to the Coca-Cola Stage for the Miller Lite Carb Day Concert at 3:30 p.m. The Coca-Cola Stage is located in the Pagoda Plaza behind the 13-story Bombardier Pagoda control tower.

5/9/03

Miller Lite official beer of 500   Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Miller Brewing Company officials announced May 9 that the Miller Lite brand is returning to IMS as the official beer sponsor for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and Brickyard 400. Miller Lite will be a major sponsor at the Speedway during the Indianapolis 500 on May 25 for the IRL IndyCar Series and the Brickyard 400 on Aug. 3 for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series stock cars. The brewery has had a presence at the Speedway dating back to the 1973 Indianapolis 500 when Miller High Life sponsored the car driven by Jim Hurtubise. “Miller is very happy to continue our great association with the Hulman-George family and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Steve Lauletta, director of event marketing for Miller. “We have had a tremendous relationship with the Speedway for several decades, and we are very excited to be again be a partner at the world’s greatest racing facility. We look forward to working with the Speedway in the future.”

5/9/03

NC Governor uninjured in NASCAR crash North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley was not injured when the race car he was driving at 165 mph hit a wall at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Friday. Easley, driving the car of Winston Cup driver Jimmie Johnson, hit the inside retaining wall exiting Turn 2. The governor was practicing for pace laps he will run next week as part of NASCAR's all-star race, The Winston. ``I am fine. They strapped me in good and tight here and the Hendrick car is a good car,'' Easley said, describing himself as ``a little embarrassed'' but otherwise unhurt. Easley was driving a car by Hendrick Motorsports when he hit the soft wall coming out of the second turn. The soft walls at Lowe's are Styrofoam blocks. ``It was fun for about four or five laps, but the last part wasn't too good,'' said Easley, who was wearing the HANS device, a head-and-neck restraint system mandated by NASCAR in October 2001. ``I was pushing and the car was running tight and it got loose on me and I wrecked.'' After the wreck, Easley stood by the car joking with his staff and track officials. He even autographed the crumpled car before it was towed away. Track spokesman Jerry Gappens said Easley was examined by the speedway's medical staff and was fine. ``Just a bruised ego right now,'' Gappens said. ``He's a good sport about things, so he's fine. He's a good race car driver, he talked about the car pushing and it was tight, so he's got some of the racing lingo down.''  AP Story

5/9/03

Emmo meets with German manufacturers  UPDATE We have added a photo of the press conference, which included Tiago Monteiro, Emmo and CART COO David Clare (photo by LAT courtesy of CART.  We hear the German media and Mercedes was particularly interested in CART's future direction  5/9/03 - Champ Car World Series team owner and representative Emerson Fittipaldi met with Mercedes-Benz Motorsport director Norbert Haug on the eve of the German 500, according to Die Welt. The newspaper also reported that the US series promoter plans similar discussions with Audi and Opel. Fittipaldi said: "Our series wants to sign a German manufacturer and a German driver as fast as possible."

5/9/03

Mosley - I listen to fans, not owners  Formula One's new regulations are working well, according to their principal author and President of the FIA, Max Mosley. Mosley insists that he will ignore the complaints of the teams and drivers and listen only to the 'people that matter' - racing fans on the street. He said: 'People come up to me in the street and say, 'I'd stopped watching F1 - now I'm watching it again.' That's what matters.' 'It's the TV figures that really matter. I'm not going to strive for regulations that the teams think are perfect if no-one's watching the race!' l

5/9/03

Arie Jr. looks to move up   According to this AP article, Arie Luyendyk Jr. wants to follow in his father's tire tracks. While the elder Luyendyk is a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and one of the IRL's most popular drivers, Luyendyk Jr. will race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time with the Infiniti Pro Series. He's no rookie though at Indianapolis. Luyendyk Jr. has come with his father since he was Rookie of the Year in 1985. Now, he's looking to win the 100-mile, 40-lap Infiniti Pro Series Freedom 100. "It's interesting to be here and actually be on the track," Luyendyk Jr. said. "It's a different perspective."  "My goal is to have a full IRL ride next year," he said. "I try not to think about too much. I'm really trying to concentrate on doing well in the Indy Pro Series."

5/9/03

Why CART needs all races on CBS  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, That rating was achieved even though the preview show was pre-empted in many major markets, including here in Houston. The good news is that putting the races on CBS means that more viewers get to see them, but the bad news is that many CBS affiliates don't have any respect for racing. Last year, we had one of the CBS races pre-empted for a telethon. I've repeatedly complained to our local affiliate, but get no response. Thank goodness this year for Fox Espanol. Now if I can just locate that Spanish-English dictionary I have around here somewhere . . . Cathy Stucker, Sugar Land, Texas Dear Cathy, even with affiliates pre-empting the CART broadcasts in some markets, the ratings dwarf those on SPEED Channel. It's more important that CART help its teams get sponsorship by having their TV broadcasts reach more people.  All CART CBS race broadcasts will likely exceed a 1.0 rating, despite the loss of key markets like Houston. Mark C.  5/9/03 - CART's 1/2 hour Brands Hatch preview last Sunday got a 0.9 TV rating.  That is higher than the IRL got on ABC for it's Motegi race, and this was just a preview show.  The 0.9 is also larger than the combined total all of CART's races on SPEED year to date.  And you wonder why we stress CART must move all races to CBS in 2003.  Without that, teams can't get sponsorship.   The cost to CART per viewer is far lower on CBS than SPEED.  The only races on SPEED should be those that would air at Midnight in the USA (Australia), qualifying and any specials.  Mark C.

5/9/03

EuroSpeedway hoping for 70,000  We spoke to Hans Jorge Fischer, President of EuroSpeedway today in Germany.  He said the weather forecast looks good for this weekend and he is hoping for a race day crowd of 70,000.  If he gets 70,000, that will make the race one of CART's best attended events for 2003, certainly the best attended oval race.  Unfortunately, as you know, the track is in bankruptcy, so it's questionable whether they will be in business for the long run to grow this event into something big.  Mark C.

5/9/03

Highlights of Alex Zanardi press conference  Alex Zanardi held court today at the EuroSpeedway to answer questions from the media.  Here are some highlights:

  • It feels good to be back at the EuroSpeedway. The German fans are really enthusiastic and I feel very close to them. They make me feel very welcome.  I look forward to finishing my race for them and for me.

  • Decided to do the final 13 laps this weekend last year at Toronto when he was having coffee with Chris Pook. Told CART he could take the car pretty close to its limit if he had enough time in the car.

  • Tested hand controls that were originally developed for go-karts, but modified for a Champ Car.   Uses same throttle system as a Jet Ski. Clutch is like a motorcycle clutch and is mounted behind the gear shift. He will be using his hip to press his artificial leg to engage the brake pedal.  Rocketsports engineer Adam Schaechter, played a big part in the development of the system for Alex Zanardi.

  • Money from CART will go to Alex Zanardi foundation for kids. "I am not doing it to prove anything, but to have fun, because that is what I love to do. I had a 1.5 year pitstop, but here I am.

  • I hope what I am doing here is encouragement for people with limitations to get out and do more instead of staying home and just pushing buttons on a video game the rest of their life.

  • A question was asked, Alex, do you have any plans to start a race team? "No, I don't think I would be good at that. If I had to hire a driver, I would pick the one who is a nice guy over the one who was more talented, I would leave the more talented driver unemployed because I would made decisions based on emotion rather than what makes good business sense.  That of course would not be very smart.

  • When he left the media, the German fans gathered outside cheered loudly.  It was a moving moment.

5/9/03

CART aero package should make racing good  Fernandez Racing Race Engineer David Watson estimates top speeds of 194 mph and minimum speeds of 184 mph around the 2.023-mile tri-oval. New aerodynamic rules were implemented for Brands Hatch and EuroSpeedway, whereby what is qualified at Brands Hatch is raced at EuroSpeedway Lausitz. Watson estimates that drivers will be flat [no lifting] around the circuit with no shifting. With the five degrees of banking, drivers will pull 3.5 Lateral G-force in the corners.

5/9/03

Toyota comes clean  Toyota have signed a sponsorship deal with cleaning systems manufacturer Karcher. The company’s logo will appear on the side of the TF103’s cockpit and on team overalls from next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix onwards. Toyota Motorsport president John Howett said: "We are delighted that Karcher has joined Panasonic Toyota Racing as one of our sponsor partners. "We warmly welcome them to the worldwide Toyota Family. Karcher products are well known with a strong international reputation. "Both Toyota and Karcher are focused on and dedicated to customer service and engineering excellence, and together, we look forward to a fruitful and mutually beneficial partnership, further strengthening our marketing programmes." Karcher marketing manager Georg Metz added: "We are confident that working with Toyota in F1 will help us not only to increase our brand awareness worldwide, but also to develop a close partnership with Toyota and their dealer network. "The Toyota F1 team has displayed its strong F1 potential this season, well highlighted at the last race in Spain where the team picked up three championship points."

5/9/03

EuroSpeedway impressions  AR1 was not able to attend the inaugural German 500 due to events of 9/11.  Upon arriving at the track for the first time today (CART has no on-track activities today) we were surprised at what a magnificent facility the Germans have built.  Not only do European road courses blow away USA road courses in every aspect, the EuroSpeedway blows away every USA oval facility including the latest ISC and Bruton Smith facilities.  There are over 200 media members here already and there must be at least 5,000  fans lined up for the Champ Car driver autograph session. 

5/9/03

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5/9/03

Jaguar extends Webber's contract  Mark Webber will stay with Jaguar Racing for at least two more years, having agreed to extend his deal with the squad until the end of 2005. Jaguar had been keen to resign the driver for next year after his impressive early season showings, the highlight of which came when Webber qualified third on the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix. "I hope that, by making this announcement so early in the season, people will realize just how serious both our intentions are to firmly establish Jaguar's place in Formula 1," said Webber. "We know it's not going to happen overnight, so I'm very happy that we've made this commitment now and can continue the hard work we've already started this year. We see Mark as an integral part of our long-term development. "For me personally and as a driver, I'm very excited by the prospect of being involved in what is a long-term objective, and to see our goals being released as we make further progress over the next two years." David Pitchforth, Jaguar's managing director, said: "Mark is an outstanding talent and everyone at Jaguar Racing is naturally delighted that the partnership will extend to the end of the 2005 season. Mark's start to the season has been very impressive and his approach to racing is very professional – both inside and outside the cockpit – and we see Mark as an integral part of our long-term development."

5/9/03
Industry News

Toyota posts Japan's biggest profit  Japan's leading carmaker Toyota Motor yesterday announced record net earnings and sales in the year to March and the biggest pretax profit by a Japanese company as it continued to make inroads into world markets. The company said its net profit jumped 53.4 per cent to a record 944.67 billion yen. Recurring profit, operating profit and sales all set new records for the third consecutive year. Recurring profit was 1.41 trillion yen, up 27 per cent from a year earlier when Toyota became the first Japanese company to top one trillion yen in pretax profit, and sales rose 6.3 per cent to 16.05 trillion yen. "We achieved our best-ever results by creating products that respond to the needs of our customers around the world and strengthening our global sales organization," Toyota president Fujio Cho said. "Our substantial increase in sales volume during the . . . fiscal year, in which we surpassed six million units for the first time, was a major contributor to our record performance."

5/9/03

Paul Ricard Day 3 - It's Ralf 

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m11.221s 96
2 Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m11.322s 76
3 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m12.069s 155
4 Jarno Trulli Renault M 1m12.780s 73
5 Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m13.013s 84
6 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda B 1m13.161s 109
7 Mark Webber Jaguar M 1m13.432s 69
8 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m13.574s 59
9 Jenson Button BAR-Honda B 1m13.601s 116
10 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas B 1m14.052s 87
11 Allan McNish Renault M 1m15.015s 72*

5/9/03

McReynolds calls for Soft Walls I don't have a Ph.D. or even a college degree. The closest I've come to college is being on campus for a football game. But when I think about Jerry Nadeau's injuries and what happened to him as the car hit the wall at Richmond, I think that race car did its job. The drivers are staying in place. They're not moving around in their race cars. Their necks aren't snapping because they are wearing head-and-neck restraint devices. Obviously NASCAR, the teams and the manufacturers won't stop working on the cars. We have to keep moving forward. But what is our weakest link now? To me, our weakest link is the fact that these cars slap a solid concrete wall. The car stops, and the driver's body stops, but we can't control the organs and tissues within that body that are not stopping, including the brain, the lungs and the heart. No matter how many head-and-neck restraint devices, how many seat belts, how much of a cocoon we put around the drivers, we can't stop those organs from moving. It's the way God made us. So how do we deal with it? We do things to dissipate the energy of the impact. We install soft walls. It's not about speed. It's not about big race tracks. If you look, people are getting hurt at these slower race tracks. Why? There's no banking to scrub off the speed. We need soft walls everywhere, but if I made a priority list, you'd be shocked. It's not Daytona, Talladega, Atlanta or Charlotte. It's places with flatter corners where there's no banking. We need them at Pocono, Homestead, Phoenix, Martinsville and Richmond. You have to be careful that you don't fix one problem and create others. Soft walls are very complicated pieces. I know people may say, "Well, they have them at Talladega." But they have them on the inside retaining wall, and it's a pretty simple process because it's a straight wall. Indianapolis has them in the corners, but the design and radius of the corner at Indy differs from anywhere else we race. You have to make sure that the soft walls don't just catch the car and stop it more quickly or harder than the concrete would.  FOX Sports

5/9/03

Wheldon credits tow for fast lap   “I got lucky again, I guess. I was running behind Scott Sharp when that lap actually came about. Again, it’s really nothing to get excited about when you get one of these laps. I said last time, my mum would kill me if she knew I was going 232 (mph) again. It was a tow, for sure. I have to give credit to the team. They’re doing a very good job, Andretti Green Racing. We’ve been strong, particularly my crew. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car has been fast, but it’s definitely not that fast. Probably not even close to that.” (Your results here seem to be raising your profile): “It’s good. I started in the IRL last year with Panther (Racing), and the results really weren’t what I wanted them to be. But the championship stuff, it’s not easy to break into. It’s a different style of racing. It’s so competitive. You look at the times out there right now, and it’s unbelievable. I don’t think there’s any championship in the world that’s even close to that.

5/9/03

Boris Said suspended, penalized   Boris Said, driver of the No. 33 ACS Express Racing Ford Mustang, has been assessed penalties and fines after statements made during Round 2 of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup in Long Beach, Calif. April 11-13. Said was fined $7,500 and his Trans-Am Series competition privileges have been suspended for 45 days, beginning May 1. Additionally, a $3,000 fine that was suspended from an infraction earlier this season was placed in force. The most recent penalties came as a result of the following violations of Trans-Am Series rules: 1.22.1.8., “Public criticism of a series, its officials or sponsors;” 1.22.1.9., “Unsportsmanlike conduct;” 1.22.1.11., “Inappropriate, objectionable, or profane language or gestures;” and 1.4.13.1., “Conduct of entrants, drivers and crew.” Said was penalized for the following, all of which happened during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach: multiple negative comments made in public, including those made to a high-ranking race circuit official, that the Series was “out to get him and ruin his career;” and additional comments made by Said to credentialed media on at least three occasions that continued his attack and referred to the Series as "the Gestapo" and compared Paul Gentilozzi and his sons to Saddam Hussein and his sons. “These statements went well beyond the bounds of common decency and good sportsmanship,” said Trans-Am Series Chief Steward Terry Dale. “Boris is an immensely talented racer, and our defending champion, but he simply crossed the line while he was on probationary status. Said’s repeated inappropriate comments are becoming a habit—one that we will not tolerate. “Boris’ most recent actions are a very serious contravention of the Trans-Am Series rules, particularly given his previous conduct as a Trans-Am Series competitor,” added Dale. “In the past, including earlier this year, Boris has been placed on probation and/or fined for his actions, which included unsportsmanlike behavior, public criticism of the Series and officials and the use of inappropriate, objectionable and profane language. Unfortunately, the punitive action taken against Boris to date has proven to be unsuccessful in altering his conduct. As a result, I saw no other option but to assess the current penalties.” Earlier this year, Said was fined $5,000, of which $3,000 was suspended, and he was placed on probation for violating Trans-Am Series rule 1.11.1.8., "Public criticism of the Series, its officials or sponsors," rule 1.11.1.9., "Unsportsmanlike conduct," and 1.11.1.11., "Inappropriate, objectionable, or profane language or gestures." The earlier penalties arose, in part, out of conversations between Said and several Series officials relative to the aerodynamics of the Ford Mustang body. The Series has undertaken wind tunnel tests, at significant cost to the Series, to ensure parity among its major marques, which includes the Mustang. “These penalties have never been about aerodynamics, but about Boris’ unprofessional and inappropriate attitude, behavior and comments about the Series and its officials,” said Series Executive Director John Clagett. “The Ford Mustang body was wind-tunnel tested twice this season. It was determined at the first test that it was down on front downforce. Therefore teams running the Mustang were given the option to run add-on front dive planes at St. Petersburg and Long Beach, in order to ensure parity. Recently, a new Mustang hood panel and nose were tested in the wind tunnel and approved. This new setup allows the Mustang to remain competitive with the other major marques, after the removal of the add-on dive planes. “The Mustang has yet to be at a competitive disadvantage, as evidenced by Boris’ runner-up finish in the season opener at St. Petersburg after starting last, and by his victory at Long Beach,” added Clagett. “Our goal from the beginning was to achieve parity among the marques, and that parity has existed from the very first race of the season.”

5/8/03

Foyt IV crashes yet again   This is going to bankrupt AJ eventually.  Foyt IV keeps crashing his cars (almost every venue or test) and teammate Hattori did a number on one the other day --  Rookie A.J. Foyt IV, grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, was the victim of the second accident of the month in his No. 14T Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. At 4:47 p.m., Foyt did a quarter spin to the right in Turn 1 and made contact with the outside retaining wall between Turns 1 and 2 with the rear of the car. There was no contact with the SAFER Barrier. Foyt was uninjured and returned to the track just before it closed for the day in teammate Shigeaki Hattori’s No. 5T EPSON/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. “Today was not too good of a day,” Foyt said. “We started off struggling and ended up getting in an accident. It was a horrible day. I’d been running flat out all the way around for the last four laps and coming off the corner, the car stepped out on me without any warning, which was pretty weird. My grandfather just found out from Firestone that it showed a cut tire, which caused me to spin. He put me in (Shigeaki’s) back-up car just to give me some laps. The old ‘get back on the horse’ deal.”

5/8/03

Wheldon tops speed charts on Thursday  Rookie Dan Wheldon continued to impress at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 8 when he led the fifth day of practice for the 87th Indianapolis 500. Wheldon, who was fastest on May 6, turned a lap 38.7594 seconds, 232.202 in his No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, the fastest lap in practice, qualifications or the race since 1996. This came a day after Wheldon didn’t turn any laps as he and his team decided not to practice on May 7. "We definitely got a tow on that lap,” Wheldon said. “But it’s great for the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew to be top of the timesheets again. It’s going good, but it’s still early in the month. I think the pole (speed) will be around 231 (mph), 232, but it just depends on the weather, really. It's hard to predict. “I haven't been involved in the race like I am now, so I've got to leave it to the experienced guys: Barry Green, Tino Belli. They're doing a fantastic job for me. I just kind of want to stay away from that and just get in the car when they tell me.” Another rookie, Tora Takagi, who led Day 2 of practice, was second fastest of the day with a lap of 38.7919, 232.007 in the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. A total of 11 drivers topped the 230 mph mark under cloudy skies throughout most of the day.

Pos |Driver Name |C/E/T|Best Time |Best Speed |Difference
1|Wheldon, Dan|D/H/F|38.7594|232.2020||
2|Takagi, Tora|G/T/F|38.7919|232.0070|+0.0325|
3|Castroneves, Helio|D/T/F|38.8610|231.5950|+0.1016|
4|de Ferran, Gil|G/T/F|38.8656|231.5670|+0.1062|
5|Kanaan, Tony|D/H/F|38.9508|231.0610|+0.1914|
6|Dixon, Scott|G/T/F|38.9661|230.9700|+0.2067|
7|Brack, Kenny|D/H/F|38.9937|230.8070|+0.2343|
8|Renna, Tony|D/T/F|39.0779|230.3090|+0.3185|
9|Gordon, Robby|D/H/F|39.0941|230.2140|+0.3347|
10|Sharp, Scott|D/T/F|39.0977|230.1930|+0.3383|
11|Scheckter, Tomas|G/T/F|39.1130|230.1030|+0.3536|
12|Giaffone, Felipe|G/T/F|39.2310|229.4100|+0.4716|
13|Giaffone, Felipe|G/T/F|39.2737|229.1610|+0.5143|
14|Yasukawa, Roger|D/H/F|39.3163|228.9130|+0.5569|
15|Castroneves, Helio|D/T/F|39.3557|228.6840|+0.5963|
16|Lazier, Jaques|D/C/F|39.4044|228.4010|+0.6450|
17|Unser Jr, Al|D/T/F|39.4936|227.8850|+0.7342|
18|Rice, Buddy|D/C/F|39.5243|227.7080|+0.7649|
19|Sharp, Scott|D/T/F|39.5437|227.5960|+0.7843|
20|Boat, Billy|D/C/F|39.5915|227.3220|+0.8321|
21|Unser Jr, Al|D/T/F|39.6632|226.9110|+0.9038|
22|Foyt IV, AJ|D/T/F|39.7347|226.5020|+0.9753|
23|Luyendyk, Arie|G/T/F|39.7365|226.4920|+0.9771|
24|Foyt IV, AJ|G/T/F|39.7790|226.2500|+1.0196|
25|Luyendyk, Arie|G/T/F|39.8196|226.0190|+1.0602|
26|Buhl, Robbie|D/C/F|39.8314|225.9520|+1.0720|
27|Rice, Buddy|D/C/F|39.8450|225.8750|+1.0856|
28|Fisher, Sarah|D/C/F|39.8467|225.8660|+1.0873|
29|Hornish Jr, Sam|D/C/F|39.9184|225.4600|+1.1590|
30|Lazier, Buddy|D/C/F|40.0169|224.9050|+1.2575|
31|Brack, Kenny|D/H/F|40.1194|224.3300|+1.3600|
32|Kite, Jimmy|D/C/F|40.1424|224.2020|+1.3830|
33|Foyt IV, AJ|G/T/F|40.8562|220.2850|+2.0968|

5/8/03
Industry News

Goodyear Tire management changes  Samir Gibara told shareholders of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. yesterday that he is resigning as chairman after a reign that saw the company expand internationally but also saw its stock collapse. Gibara's expansion helped the Akron company again become the world's largest tire maker. But he acknowledged at the company's annual meeting that Goodyear has fallen on hard times. Goodyear shares, which closed yesterday at $6.82, sold for a high of $75.75 six years ago. "While we have enjoyed many successes, there is no question I am disappointed with the recent performance of the company, and I think you are disappointed as well," he told a few hundred shareholders assembled at the company's Akron headquarters. Shareholders clapped politely as Gibara, 64, then turned and shook the hand of his successor, Robert Keegan, president and chief executive officer, who is leading efforts to make Goodyear profitable again after two years of deepening losses.

5/8/03

Bahrain to get March date  Despite earlier speculation that the Bahrain F1 race, the Middle East's first Grand Prix, would be staged late in the year, the circuit's technical director said: 'The track is on target and an [early] date for the race is tentatively set. We are just waiting for a final confirmation.' 'I have the master plan here with the model and most people who visit our display at the Gulf Air stand are really impressed,' he added. 'I tell them that F1 will definitely be held in Bahrain next year.'

5/8/03

Nadeau upgraded to fair  Nearly a week after his wreck during practice at Richmond, Jerry Nadeau was upgraded from serious but stable to fair condition Thursday afternoon at Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia Hospitals. According to hospital officials, Nadeau has been moved from ICU and is continuing to recover in a private room.

5/8/03

Steve Park completes the trade  Richard Childress Racing signed Steve Park today to drive the No. 30 America Online Chevrolet for the remainder of the year. Park replaces David Green, who just replaced Park in his ride at DEI. The trade will be complete when both drivers flaunt their new colors at the Winston weekend at Lowes Motor Speedway next weekend. "Steve is going to give the America Online team a fresh start going into the summer months of the season," said Richard Childress, hoping the infusion of a new driver will lead to success on the track.

5/8/03

Ferrari completes 2nd test day at Monza   Today was the third and final day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro at the Monza circuit today. Once again, Felipe Massa was at the wheel of an F2002 today, continuing with a Bridgestone tire development program. Massa completed 55 laps on the standard track layout, with a best time of 1.22.800.

Massa hammers around Monza

5/8/03

Penske to announce chassis choice Friday morning  Marlboro Team Penske has used a Dallara chassis in 20 IRL IndyCar Series events at the Indy Japan 300 when Alex Barron used a Panoz G Force. Barron was substituting for Gil de Ferran, who suffered a concussion in an accident at the Purex Dial Indy 200 in March at Phoenix. The team has entered both Dallara and Panoz G Force chassis for the 87th Indianapolis 500 and has practiced with both of them. Team officials indicated they will make an announcement about their chassis selection at a press conference at 10 a.m. May 9 the in Trackside Conference Room.

5/8/03
Industry News

ISC to sell more stock  International Speedway Corporation (ISC) has filed a registration statement for a secondary equity share offering. The company  filed the statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a secondary equity offering of 3,477,621 shares of its Class A Common Stock. The shares, which will be sold by Penske Performance, Inc. and White River Investment Limited Partnership, will also include an option for the underwriters to purchase an additional 521,643 shares from Western Opportunity Limited Partnership to cover over-allotments, if any. The new share offering is designed to fund ISC's continued investment in the retail automotive industry.  Recall the rumor we posted recently that ISC made an offer to Tony George to buy the Indy Speedway for $1 Billion and would sell stock to fund it.  Hmm....

5/8/03

Ferrari headed to A1 Ring early  The AutoRacing1.com spy satellite spotted three large Scuderia Ferrari transport trucks, a small van and a ProDrive transport truck on the A23 Autostrada northeast of Venice this morning headed to Austria.  We assume they were headed to the A1 Ring.  What was puzzling was why they would be going on today, over a week before the race weekend begins.  The vehicles appeared to be logistics and hospitality trucks, not car transporters. Mark C.

5/8/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Bobbi To Make Testing Return?
Williams Continue To Set French Pace
Alonso Doubts Renault Can Win
Berger Warns BMW Against Williams
Jacques Deflates Kimi Raikkonen
BMW's Expectations Drop
McLaren 'Ok' With Golden Hello
Berger Backs Austrian Grand Prix
Wurz Prepares To Debut New McLaren
Bahrain Head For Race In March
Two F1 Manufacturers To Quit?
Zanardi Returns To Champ Car Wheel
Three Fronts For Hard-Working Ferrari
Bernie Tips Alonso As Schu's Successor

5/8/03

Have HP, run fast  For one day, at least, the underdog kept up with the big dogs (In the IRL, it only requires a "big motor"). Former Indy Racing League champion and Indianapolis 500 pole winner Greg Ray, driving the one and only car his Access Motorsports team has in its unmarked garage, ran a 229.539 mph lap Wednesday that was fourth-best on the day behind leader Kenny Brack. The Team Rahal driver set the pace at 231.039. Ray and his partners have no illusions about their chances against the well-funded and fully equipped Penskes, Ganassis, Kelleys and Andrettis of the Indy-car world, which made Wednesday's showing all the more rewarding. "There's no doubt a lot of teams are farther down the road than we are. We don't have thousands of miles of testing and haven't been to a wind tunnel," Ray said during a rain delay. "But every person on this team has been part of either (an IRL) championship or an Indy 500 win. "We're in a very unique situation. That it has come together this fast is pretty astounding." The Access team combines the assets of Blair Racing and many of the personnel from Treadway Racing, both of which folded after last season. The team missed the first two races before debuting last month in Japan, where Ray finished ninth.  IndyStar.com

5/8/03

Naming rights at EuroSpeedway  German venue EuroSpeedway Lausitz has signed three new partners for the German 500 Champ Car race meeting, taking place this weekend on its tri-oval. Goodyear, Bosch and Coca-Cola have purchased the naming rights for three corners. Coca-Cola has also acquired exclusive rights to supply soft drinks at the venue in 2003.

5/8/03

Hattori hits wall at Indy  2nd UPDATE Shigeaki Hattori underwent surgery Wednesday on the broken little finger of his left hand after he crashed the day before during practice for the Indianapolis 500. Hattori also sustained a concussion when he slid backward into the outside wall, spun across the track and hit the inside wall with the rear of the car. He was listed in good condition Wednesday.  5/7/03 - This Sports - canada.com article says that Shigeaki Hattori was hospitalized Tuesday with a concussion and a broken little finger of his left hand after a crash during Indianapolis 500 practice. He was admitted to Methodist Hospital for further tests and was awake and alert, speedway medical director Dr. Henry Bock said. The 39-year-old Japanese driver was practicing at about 220 miles per hour when he lost control of his Toyota-powered Dallara coming out of the first turn. The car slid backward into the outside wall, spun across the track and hit the inside wall with its rear. Hattori remained conscious and was quickly out of the car. It was the first crash since practice for the May 25 Indy 500 began Sunday. Hattori was 20th as a rookie at Indianapolis last year. [Editor's note: We hear he didn't do too much damage to his car, just bolt on stuff.  Hattori’s car wiggled in Turn 1 and then did a quarter-spin exiting the turn, hitting the outside retaining wall with the rear of the car. The car then slid across the track and into the infield grass, hitting the inside guardrail before stopping near the entrance of Turn 2.  However, he is just another in a long line of oval track victims.  We wonder if his concussion will keep him out of the 500]  5/6/03 - Shigeaki Hattori has just hit the wall at Indy between Turns 1 and 2.  No report on damage yet.

5/8/03

HP is everything in the IRL  As we have pointed out on several occasions, HP means everything in the IRL 100% throttle racing series.  Buddy Lazier tells it like it is from Indy - “For today, I think we ran a 225.8 (mph). We are just flat out (100% throttle racing). We put a new motor in last night. We broke the engine in, did the leak check and ran just how we have been running all week, flat out, trimmed out (i.e. 100% throttle racing). I know everybody is trimmed out (i.e. everyone is driving 100% throttle). Probably those with the same package I have are particularly trimmed out, just trying to get speed. It depends on how big of a qualifying motor we get delivered to us (i.e. driver talent not required, just give me a big motor and I will go fast). I think it is about as much as we can get out of our race car right now. It should be down to the bits and the motors. I could see qualifying pole speed between 232 (mph) and 236 (mph) depending on the weather and what kind of qualifying engines we have. We are going to try to do the best that we can with everything we have. I know that everybody at Chevy is working very hard to improve the situation (i.e. without more power for Chevy, I can't run with the Honda's and Toyota's).”  [Editor's Note: Indy became great because the greatest drivers in the world had to win using driving talent.  Indy Racing used to be a sport, now it's just a show.  It's sad when a sport is reduced to nothing more than entertainment where a driver can go fast and win if their engine builder gives them the HP.  Where is IRL star Sam Hornish now that his Chevy does not make the HP the Toyota and Honda engines make?  Answer - nowhere.  Sad.] 

5/8/03
Industry News

Vintage cars return to Road America  Vintage cars will be on track for the Johnson Controls Presents the Vintage GT Challenge at Road America May 16-17-18. The spectator gates will open and first race sessions start at 8 a.m. each day. Road America's annual Tailgate Party, a free family community picnic, will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 17. The Tailgate Party will include carnival rides, food tasting, a car show and live music. For those new to Road America, the track will offer a free guided tour. Tickets to enter the race track are $30 for the weekend or $10 Friday, $15 Saturday and $15 for Sunday. All tickets include paddock access. The Sports Car Vintage Racing Association is the sanctioning organization. The Tailgate Party will feature three-wheel racing in the Community Bank and Trust Big Wheel Contest (pre-registration required), with Miss Wisconsin, Jayme Dawicki, presenting prizes. Big Wheel races start at 10 a.m. Local grilling gourmets and talk show hosts Mad Dog and Merrill will provide cooking demonstrations from 12:30–3:00 p.m. St. Nicholas Hospital will have children's helmet fitting 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Plymouth Piggly Wiggly will host food and beverage sampling from 11 a.m. to noon. WLKN will have a live remote broadcast and a celebrity dunk tank. Children's carnival rides are available for $1 each and helicopter rides are $25 each.

5/7/03

Herta turns first laps of month at Indy  Open-wheel veteran Bryan Herta turned his first laps at Indianapolis since the 1995 Indianapolis 500 today. He practiced in the No. 27T Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone that Robby Gordon will drive in the Indianapolis 500, recording a top lap of 39.9326, 225.380. Herta will substitute for the injured Dario Franchitti in the car at the IndyCar Series events June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway and June 15 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. He also is on standby to drive the car at Indy if any weather delays force Gordon to leave for Charlotte, N.C., for his full-time drive in the NASCAR Winston Cup Coca-Cola 600 on May 25.   “From my perspective, today went perfect. I was able to get comfortable in the Archipelago/Motorola car and run flat out," stated Herta. We started out with a lot of downforce and then trimmed it out a little. I was able to give the team some feedback, so I felt like I could contribute some on the setup, as well. I needed to run some laps at Indy because if something happened with the weather and Robby (Gordon) couldn’t start or couldn’t finish the race, you don’t want to jump in here without having some laps. Today also gave me a chance to get ready for my test next week.”

5/7/03

Brack fastest at Indy on Wed.  1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack knows the ways of the month of May at Indy: Start slowly, stick to your program and build to a peak. 1998 IRL IndyCar Series champion Brack climbed closer to the speed summit May 7 by turning the fastest speed of a rain-interrupted practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His top lap was 38.9544 seconds, 231.039 mph in the No. 15 Rahal/Letterman/Miller Lite/Pioneer Dallara/Honda/Firestone. That lap was the second-best speed of the month, topped only by Dan Wheldon’s 231.108 Tuesday in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone. “It’s too early to say what today really means, but we are very happy to be competitive today,” Brack said. “I say thanks to Team Rahal and Honda and everybody for pushing forward and giving me the stuff we need to be fast. “It’s going to be tough with the competition here, so we’re not taking anything for granted. We’re just going to go through our test program and find a little more speed.” Practice for the 87th Indianapolis 500 continues from noon-7 p.m. (EDT) Thursday in preparation for Pole Day on Saturday. The 87th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 25.  Practice was interrupted twice by rain this afternoon for a total of one hour, 43 minutes. But the session still was busy, with 32 cars turning a total of 1,524 incident-free laps.

5/7/03

Bernie says Alonso will be world champion  Bernie Ecclestone believes Renault has a future World Champion in Fernando Alonso, however the team will have to improve before the Spaniard can challenge for the title. "I am not surprised that Ferrari won at Barcelona. The new car has a high level of reliability and if it would not have been like that I have no doubts that the winner at Barcelona would have been a Spaniard," Ecclestone told Spain's AS newspaper. "However, to be among the best is a great effort by him. Alonso has all the qualities, a good team and I have no doubt that in a not so distant future he will win races and will be World Champion." But Renault will have to up their game if they hope to give the Spaniard that chance: "If Renault want to have any option they have to improve to be on the level of Ferrari."

5/7/03

Dissention among the GPWC ranks  Team bosses have questioned the GPWC’s plans to pay Ferrari over $50m to join the championship. It was reported 10 days ago that the world champions would receive a $50m ‘golden hello’ to quit Formula 1 and join the breakaway series. The five carmakers behind the GPWC – including Ferrari’s parent company Fiat – all agree that the success of the championship depends on the Scuderia’s involvement. But the other teams argue that one of the main reasons for setting up the GPWC is to institute a new system of financing in grand prix racing and therefore everyone should be treated the same way. BAR boss David Richards said: "Nobody would argue against the fact that Ferrari have a unique place in the history of F1 and the awareness of Ferrari is greater than that of any other team. "But if we are starting a new regime we need a fresh debate. We need fully to understand how this will all work."   ITV-F1.com

5/7/03

Miller Brewing and IMS to make major announcement  Miller Brewing Company officials will join Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and CEO Tony George and IMS Senior Vice President of Business Affairs Joie Chitwood for a major announcement at 9:15 a.m. (EST) Friday, May 9th. Also participating will be former Indianapolis 500-Mile Race winners Bobby Rahal and Kenny Brack. Rahal won the 1986 “500” and is co-owner of Team Rahal, a full-time participant in the IRL IndyCar Series. Brack, the 1999 Indianapolis 500 champion, drives the No. 15 entry for Team Rahal with Miller Lite sponsorship.

5/7/03
Industry News

Low TV ratings not unique to open wheel racing  Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch wrote a great article this morning regarding the challenge that sports leagues have in attracting television viewers. His article is targeted toward the dismal ratings of the Hockey Playoffs on ESPN, but the article could have easily replaced hockey with open-wheel auto racing. Take a read. It seems to echo many of the points we have made.  The Columbus Dispatch article says, I was on the edge of my seat when the Anaheim Mighty Ducks closed out the Dallas Stars yesterday at 1:15 a.m. I wasn't the only one. The ratings say there were probably at last 13 or 14 other people watching the game, and I wish I could have shared my experience with them. It was great TV. Unfortunately, that is the bane of the NHL. It has a great game, phenomenal athletes, lots of action and plenty of drama, but nobody -- and I mean nobody -- besides hard-core hockey fans watches it on television. There are all kinds of theories about why. The puck's too hard to follow. The game, with all its line changes and emphasis on team play, makes it difficult for the casual fan to notice the biggest stars. Some of the teams are in Canadian cities that the average American yahoo couldn't find on a map without fluorescent lettering. People in places such as Nevada, Montana and New Mexico don't know what hockey is. What's confusing is that even a lot of people who love it apparently don't watch it on television. An ESPN.com poll last weekend asked which is better, the NBA or the NHL playoffs, and found that 70 percent of more than 50,000 respondents chose the NHL. Seventy-five percent of poll voters said the NHL offers more drama in choosing the eventual champion, and 81 percent said hockey's sudden-death overtime is better than a couple of NBA overtime periods. Yet ABC reported that after the first three weeks, the NHL playoff ratings were down 21 percent from last year, to a minuscule 1.1. ESPN reported a drop of 9 percent and ESPN2 a drop of 23 percent -- from numbers that were terrible to begin with. In other words, the NHL playoffs are about as good as it gets sportswise -- and nobody watches them. "I don't know how you explain it,'' Blue Jackets president Doug MacLean said. "I suspect the situation is that if you look at Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota and certain parts of California, the hockey ratings are really strong. But then you couple those with Nevada and Wyoming and places where there's no hockey and there are no ratings at all. In some parts of the country, nobody is watching and that hurts.'' Well, maybe. Truthfully, the science of TV always has baffled me. What I do know is that there's a lot at stake. The NHL will begin negotiations in July for a renewal of ESPN/ABC's five-year, $600 million deal, which expires after the 2003-04 season, and the numbers are expected to decrease by 50 percent. With some NHL teams already experiencing financial trouble and a new basic agreement up for negotiation, one question begs to be asked: Can any professional sport be financially viable today that isn't good on TV? MacLean couldn't answer that, or at least didn't want to, and his reluctance is understandable. The NHL is facing a potential work stoppage in 2004, and the teams' poor national TV revenue is bound to be an issue. Each NHL team has been getting $4 million per year from ABC/ESPN and about $8.9 million total, when you add in the revenue from Hockey Night in Canada and Fox. Each NFL team, by contrast, nets approximately $70 million annually from the league's network TV deals. The NFL also is probably the one sport that is even better on TV than it is in person. The TV connection is disturbing but undeniable. The sports with teams in financial straits in recent years -- hockey, baseball and soccer -- all are much better in person than they are on TV. "We've been trying to increase TV coverage as long as I've been in the NHL,'' MacLean said. "I think it has increased some, but not to where it has to be.'' Where does it have to be? It probably depends on whether you envision the NHL as a 30- or 24-team league. For a secure future, the NHL probably needs to find a way to increase TV revenue and reduce salaries, and currently, the prospect for either isn't good. As encouraging as it for a small market such as Columbus to see those big payrolls in Detroit, Dallas and St. Louis go down, an Ottawa-Vancouver Stanley Cup final could be a ratings disaster outside Canada. And ratings disasters aren't good for the league. Ottawa-Vancouver? That matchup would produce some exciting hockey games. I'll let you know how it comes out.

5/7/03

NASCAR adds chase vehicle  NASCAR's Jim Hunter said NASCAR recently has added a "chase" vehicle to its emergency crew lineup. The vehicle is the first on the scene of an wreck with a NASCAR official at the wheel and an EMT in the passenger seat. "Our position on the medical end is well known," Hunter said. "We prefer to use local EMTs who do that every day as a line of work. We always felt having a local group who does it every day is better than having somebody travel who does it so many weekends a year." Daytona Beach News Journal

5/7/03

Chevrolet drivers out to lunch  This Indy Star article says, Buddy Rice, piloting the Team Cheever entry, was fastest of the Chevys on the third day of practice Tuesday. But he was a distant 15th on the speed chart, one spot ahead of fellow Chevy driver Sam Hornish Jr., and their 228 mph-range speeds left them nearly 3 mph behind Tuesday leader Dan Wheldon in a Honda-powered Andretti Green Racing car. Cheever said progress is being made and he expects Chevy to be on par with newcomers Toyota and Honda within two months. "I think GM underestimated Toyota and Honda having a lot of experience in Formula One that they were able to apply to the IRL," said Cheever, the 1998 Indy 500 winner. The Chevy drivers clearly are a frustrated lot but hesitant to be critical of the manufacturer. Sarah Fisher topped out at 224.002 mph and said that was all the car had to offer.

5/7/03

St. Pete media out to kill CART race  This St. Petersburg Times article says (why are they running the same news all over again?  It's as if to cast doubt CART will survive.  Perhaps the City really does not want the race, at least the local media doesn't)  The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg's financial power dwindled Tuesday as reports revealed that the race's organizer suffered steep losses in the first quarter of this year. Championship Auto Racing Teams, attempting to build a worldwide racing circuit with a slate of relatively unknown drivers and Indy-style cars, reported a net loss of nearly $9-million for the quarter ended March 31. It is a significant increase over the $1.5-million loss in the same period last year. More troubling, said analyst Dennis McAlpine, is the rate at which the struggling race sanctioning body, headed by chief executive Chris Pook, appears to be spending down its cash. Cash and short-term investments decreased nearly $16-million to $70.6-million between Dec. 31, 2002, and March 31 of this year. "The problem is, if he goes through cash as fast as he has this quarter, he's going to go through all that money before people get a chance to know his drivers," said McAlpine, whose firm, McAlpine & Associates, is based in Scarsdale, N.Y. "At that pace, they could run out of money by the end of the year." CART's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission comes within days of reports that showed race promoter Dover Motorsports, based in Dover, Del., had suffered losses approaching $1.3-million on the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, held in February on the city's waterfront.

5/7/03

JML team has strong test at LeMans  JML Team Panoz had an impressive test at LeMans this past weekend in preparation for the 2003 running of the historic 24 Heures du Mans race to take place on June 14-15.  "Mad Max" Papis was the first to take the wheel aboard the No. 11 Panoz he shares with Olivier Beretta and Gunnar Jeannette and set the fastest time in the car in the early session with a time of 3 minutes, 46.826 seconds. Papis then returned to the track and clocked a 3:44.694 in the late session, again the fastest time in the No. 11 Panoz entry. It was a productive day," said Papis. "We made a lot of progress. The 44.6 came when I was not pushing too much and there was quite a lot of traffic. There's potential in the car. I was pleasantly surprised with our results on Sunday. "We will continue what we did at Sebring. We actually have a better car here. It's really encouraging," added Papis. "I believe we surprised many people. We will continue to do that. "Olivier (Beretta) was able to give me a bit of advice, which was a big help, because it has been a few years since I've been here." The No. 11 car of Papis, Beretta and Jeannette finished the day in 11th place. The No. 7 Bentley of Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capelli and Guy Smith topped the charts with a time of 3:34.820. "Things have started very well for the team and I was very surprised with how comfortable the car was straight away," Papis continued. "We have been working through our program, testing a few different changes but our initial impression is the car is very good. Michelin has also done an exceptional job as well. They have had a number of different combinations for us to try and the performance has been very strong. Our plan for the weekend was not to put the car at risk, just to work away at making improvements and ensuring we have a good base of data to work from when we get back for the race," said Papis. The two Panoz LMP-01 racecars will remain in Europe until the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the weekend of June 14 and 15.

5/7/03

CART is invisible  A reader writes, Dear AR1, I found it interesting last night as I was watching CBS' Tuesday night programs that there was a commercial featuring Michael Andretti- something about ice cream and traveler's checks (not the IRL), and an HP commercial featuring Juan and the BMW F1 team. Just thought it was ironic that here's the broadcast partner of CART who has successfully sold ad slots to CART's rivals, but there's no mention at all of the four plus hours of CART action coming up this weekend on CBS. The NASCAR logo is everywhere you go. IRL ads are increasingly in evidence in print and on TV and even the local podunck gas station down the street has F1 Lego cars sitting inside. CART is invisible. It always has been. When is that going change?  I'm surprised there's 69,000 people across the country who can even find the broadcasts when they're on. Earth to Pook.........Timothy Howell  Dear Tim, When CART went to a single engine manufacturer the paddock became cash poor.  No one, not even Ford is doing much to promote the series, and CART's marketing team has not convinced what few sponsor are in the series, to do much marketing around the series.  Only the foreign sponsors like Tecate, Corona and Quaker State Mexico are using CART as an advertising vehicle.  Yes, except at the events themselves, CART has become invisible to the general public, and its TV ratings support that conclusion.  Mark C.

5/7/03

Wurz to stay with McLaren  Alex Wurz has said that he will concentrate all his energies on the development of McLaren's radical new MP4-18A. The Austrian has revealed that the new McLaren contender is nearing completion, and should receive its track debut in two weeks time. Speaking to autosport.com during testing at the Paul Ricard circuit today (Wednesday), Wurz confessed that he felt a strong desire to return to racing with Jaguar. "If you ask me if I want to race, yes I want to race," he said. "But there was increasing media pressure – no, there was pressure from everybody that was involved, but then everyone felt that we had to calm down."

5/7/03

Paul Ricard Day 2- Gene tops charts again

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m11.919s 101
2 Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes 1m12.317s 105
3 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m12.939s 87
4 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m12.997s 99
5 Jenson button BAR-Honda B 1m13.769s 89
6 Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda B 1m14.041s 72
7 Mark Webber Jaguar 1m14.122s 110
8 Jarno Trulli Renault M 1m14.297s 113
9 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Petronas B 1m14.376s 98
10 Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m17.767s 89

5/7/03

Miami GP of Americas unveils new website  The Grand Prix Americas website, www.miamirace.com, has a whole new look, including more information, pictures, contests, interactive features and promotions, announced Chuck M. Martinez, president and general manager, Grand Prix Americas. “We wanted to create an exciting and fun site reflective of our event and one that would entice our fans to keep coming back,” said Martinez. “The added splash and new content, including the new track map, make it a much better and user-friendly web destination.” Tickets will now be available for purchase through our secure online server and a new sponsor page has been added. This section will feature the Grand Prix Americas’ partners and sponsor-related information. The site will also include information on all the events leading up to the race, contests, merchandise, memorabilia auction items and “cool stuff” such as downloadable images, wallpaper and multimedia. A special link to SPEED on demand will allow visitors to view last year’s race on their computers. Plus, all the press releases will be available in both English and Spanish.

5/7/03

What progress is NASCAR making on safety?  Jerry Nadeau's crash and his resulting severe injuries last weekend at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway have brought NASCAR's safety issues back to the spotlight. Nadeau, 32, suffered critical injuries to his head, ribs and a lung Friday when his No. 01 Pontiac hit the wall during Winston Cup practice. Nadeau was upgraded to serious but stable condition Monday by doctors treating him at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. The exact nature of his injuries have not been detailed. The one-car accident sparked a new round of discussions in the Winston Cup community about soft wall technology, drivers' safety inside their stock cars and the need for a highly trained, traveling emergency team. "NASCAR has shown us films of how they're trying to develop soft walls," driver Sterling Marlin said. "They're probably continuously working and developing it. I don't think it's something NASCAR has talked about then put on the back burner." NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said Dr. Dean Sicking from the University of Nebraska is scheduled to conduct the last crash test today on a Steel and Foam Energy Reduction barrier designed for Richmond and other short courses. Sicking's test schedule was delayed by bad weather during the winter. "That test has been on the books for a month," Hunter said. "This is hopefully the final crash test before they are in position to recommend SAFER walls at the shorter tracks." Hunter said if all goes according to plan, SAFER barriers will be up for the fall races at Richmond and New Hampshire International Speedway. Installation of SAFER barriers has been delayed because Sicking "has not been comfortable with the results," according to Hunter.  Daytona Beach News  Journal

5/7/03

A leaner and meaner Nazareth  Nazareth Speedway will be a leaner, more corporate-savvy operation later this month when NASCAR's Busch Series comes in for the Goulds Pumps ITT Industries 200. Craig Rust, president of both Nazareth Speedway and Watkins Glen International in New York, said race weekend May 17-18 will be the acid test of a new business plan and marketing philosophy for the track, finished for racing in 1987 by Roger Penske. "This will be the first race we are running completely under our new organizational structure and with our new marketing plan," Rust said. "I feel good about it. We don't announce attendance figures, but I can tell you our advance ticket sale for the Busch race is ahead of last year." Penn Live

5/7/03

We visit Monza  AR1 staff visited the famous Monza race track today and snapped these photos of test driver Felipe Massa testing the 2002 Ferrari F1 car.  If you have not experienced the scream of a 19,000 RPM Ferrari F1 engine echo under the main grandstand canopy you haven't lived yet. The history of the place just hangs in the air. The Brazilian test driver continued to use an F2002, on a track modified with the introduction of two chicanes; one before the Parabolica and the other before Ascari. In the second part of the day, Massa also did some laps of the track in its original configuration. He covered a total of 473 kilometers. Felipe Massa continues testing at this track tomorrow.


Photos by Mark Cipolloni

5/7/03

No Homestead reconstruction?  2nd UPDATE  We got to see some new stationary and signage the Speedway had printed. It now says "The New" Homestead-Miami Speedway. "The New" is printed in Bold, Red letters. What else can they be referring to besides the new corners? International Speedway Corp. says it may spend $2.5 million to $3.5 million to reconfigure Homestead-Miami Speedway before this year's NASCAR season finales for the Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck series. The company offered the projection yesterday as it reported that it had record revenues and attendance for its most recent NASCAR events at California Speedway and Richmond International Raceway. "If the project moves forward, the company expects the reconfiguration would be completed in early October," an ISC statement said. NASCAR's three major series are scheduled to wind up their seasons the weekend of Nov. 15-16 at the track, which has been widely criticized by NASCAR drivers and fans as too flat for close racing. Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter  5/6/03 - AR1 sources did some checking on this Winston Salem Journal article.  Here is what we found out - according to Homestead City Councilman Jeffery Porter, any improvements at the Speedway do not need the approval of the City of Homestead's council under the existing contract. The only permission they need are the usual permits and zoning approval. Any improvements made to the Speedway will be paid for by the lessee (ISC). So money never was a issue with the City of Homestead. The Speedway has taken out building permits for the new turns and have been soliciting construction companies.   5/5/03 - It now appears that the planned reconstruction of Homestead-Miami Speedway will not happen this year, because rebuilding the flat banks from current six degrees to 20 degrees or more, to improve racing in the season finale, would "cost local taxpayers millions," according to track officials. And the relationship between the track and the townspeople has been uneasy at best, because city officials say the track hasn't been the financial boon they'd anticipated. Winston Salem Journal

5/7/03

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5/7/03

Changes needed at Brands Hatch - I  CART needs to be on the long course at Brands Hatch.  Anyone who understands racing, knows that.  However, the track needs upgrades in three key areas.  This image shows what is needed at the end of the long back straight - a chicane to slow the cars and create more runoff area.  CART itself spent $2 million this year to upgrade the short circuit.  Someone will need to spend a lot more than that to do these upgrades and those shown below.  However, can CART afford not to do them?  Parades don't play well with the British media.

5/7/03

Changes needed at Brands Hatch - II  CART needs to be on the long course at Brands Hatch.  Anyone who understands racing, knows that.  However, the track needs upgrades in three key areas.  This image shows what is needed where the long tracks meets back with the short Indy Circuit - a chicane to slow the cars and create more runoff area.  The pit lane also needs to be lengthened, probably should be totally reconstructed.  There is not enough room for more cars, and it was too short already.  The garages are also too small.  Illustrations by Mark Cipolloni

5/7/03
F3000

Bell gets bumped again in Barcelona  Townsend Bell was bumped out of contention at the first turn of the F3000 race at the Catalunya circuit near Barcelona, Spain on Saturday. His assailant(s) were unknown but Rob Nguyen, fellow American competitor Derek Hill and Patrick Freisacher were all involved in the incident. Freisacher suffered a damaged left arm, with both the Americans’ cars slowed dramatically with suspension damage. New Zealander Nguyen was the only one of the four to be able to continue at racing speed, finishing 5th overall.  Californian Bell described the incident this way, “I had a decent start but it was busy in the first turn. Out of the corner of my eye I could see someone close to me who suddenly lurched into me….He was obviously knocked my way by someone else. I thought, oh sh__ not again! So my race ended in the first turn! They keep running into us!!  “I kept going, despite a tweaked rear suspension, and actually passed a couple of cars and got to 7th place while the tires were still fresh. I then noticed in my rear view mirrors a large part of the right sidepod flew off! We never actually got to see the damage to the car as it was impounded after the race and was still being held by race officials 2 hours after the race.  “The car was barely drivable as anyone watching live or on TV must have seen. The car was wallowing around but I thought I could at least learn something about my competition that will come in handy later so I kept going to a frustrating 12th.”  Derek Hill was equally frustrated after qualifying 8th. He blames Freisacher for the incident commenting, “He did it to me last year at Hockenheim. I have to talk to him!” Hill finished with suspension damage in 11th overall.  Phil Geibler, another California native was knocked off the track on turn two by Rafaele Giammaria of Italy. Phil felt it was a misunderstanding as he thought Giammaria had given him the corner but the Italian closed the door and took both drivers out of the race. “We will be better in Austria” said the eager Geibler, in his 5th year in Europe looking for a breakthrough.  Giorgio Pantano led from pole to the checkered. Bjorn Wirdheim, winner of the series opener at Imola two weeks ago settled into 2nd and could not get by the Italian for the win. “ I was frustrated at the start because the yellow flag stayed out for about 10 laps. I had to get past Giorgio while I had a tire advantage in the first few laps. As soon as my tires were used up a little there was no way to pass him” said the young Swede.   The F3000 teams now head to Austria for the next round in the 10 race series. Townsend Bell has tested at the A1 Ring only in a local school car for 25 laps so will have to adjust quickly to the new environment.

5/7/03

Herta to replace Franchitti for 2 races  Veteran Bryan Herta will substitute for the injured Dario Franchitti in an Andretti Green Racing entry in June at the IRL IndyCar Series races at Texas Motor Speedway and Pikes Peak International Raceway, team officials announced May 6. Herta, from Valencia, Calif., will drive the No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone during the Bombardier 500 on June 7 at Texas and the Pikes Peak Indy 225 on June 15 at Pikes Peak. To prepare for his first run in an IndyCar Series car, Herta will test May 12-13 at Pikes Peak and May 19-20 at Texas. “This is a fantastic opportunity,” Herta said. “I was pleased when Michael (Andretti) called and asked if I could drive for Andretti Green Racing until Dario gets better. I’m excited to drive for a high-caliber team like Andretti Green.”

5/7/03

It matters who wins or loses in CART  This Motorsports Forum article says, The number of CART fans who will watch a CART race on television is small enough. Take away any drama and even they might disappear. The showcase race in the series had only 69,000 homes watching on Speed Channel. That’s 69,000 out of more than 55 million! There were more people at Long Beach than were watching on television. That’s not the way to endear yourself to potential sponsors! The fact that Monday’s race at Brands Hatch is delayed on CBS until NEXT Saturday is an indication of how far CART has fallen on the marketing meter. And CART was buying the time!! I smiled Monday morning after Brands Hatch. Maybe CART can survive after all. The Miami Dolphins made a marketing play out of its No Name Defense that took the team to the NFL’s only undefeated season and a Super Bowl title in 1972. Maybe CART can take it’s No Name Grid to a championship of sorts if it can create enough drama to convince people it matters who wins and loses its events. If we return to the Paul Tracy Show next weekend in Germany, there won’t be enough towels to wipe up the tears of all those who will lose money and interest in this CART season.

5/7/03

CART has enough for 2004  When CART released its 1Q financials one tidbit of info that many overlooked was the $70+ million CART still has in cash.  That will be enough to sustain them in 2003 & 2004, but what about 2005?  Roger Penske predicts they will run out of cash and eventually fold (see Hot News Item below).  He predicted they would fold last year too.  However, Chris Pook appears very confident, as if he has something up his sleeve.  There have been rumors of Bernie, or someone with deep pockets, buying CART.  That has not materialized yet.  However, if you look at the history of Bernie's dealings, you will see that he does not buy anything until the principals of the company he is buying have lost all hope, all their fight.  He then comes in and says I'll rescue you, but you will do things my way.  Perhaps Bernie has not moved on CART because Chris Pook and company still have some fight left in them.  The danger Bernie runs of waiting until the last minute is whether CART will be so weak by then that it's not salvageable.  In addition, with the GPWC threat hanging over Bernie's head, one would think he would buy CART (if he's really interested) sooner rather than later and basically say to the manufacturers, I own the F1 name, and I will rename CART F1 and grow it into something big (using other engine manufacturers) if you move forward with your breakaway series.  Mark C.

5/7/03

Wheldon tops Indy charts on Tuesday  Dan Wheldon became the second consecutive rookie to lead a practice day for the 87th Indianapolis 500, turning the fastest lap of the month, 38.9429 seconds, 231.108 mph, on May 6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wheldon’s top lap in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone came just minutes after practice opened at noon (EDT), and no other driver could top it in the nearly seven hours of practice afterward despite ideal track conditions. Practice resumes at noon (EDT) Wednesday as the countdown to Pole Day on Saturday gets more intense. Despite the fast lap today, Wheldon isn’t making any bold predictions for MBNA Pole glory and the accompanying $100,000 bonus. “I think being quick today is no reflection of how qualifying is going to be, but it is good for the Klein Tools/Jim Beam team to be up there,” Wheldon said. “We are still working on our set program, as are our other three cars, and we gather the data at the end of the day and fine-tune our program for the following day. “The Andretti Green Racing team is keeping me on an even keel, and even though we are setting some fast speeds, we are still focused on the job at hand, and we are looking forward to a good day tomorrow.” Gil de Ferran was second fastest at 38.9824, 230.873 in the No. 6T Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, while 2002 Indianapolis 500 Bank One co-Rookie of the Year Tomas Scheckter third at 38.9909, 230.823 in the No. 10T Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Scheckter’s teammate, Indianapolis 500 rookie Scott Dixon, was fourth at 39.0496, 230.476 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Michael Andretti, Wheldon’s team owner and teammate, rounded out the top five at 39.0598, 230.416 in the No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. “Dan has done a super job for us, not just today but ever since he started with us,” Andretti said. “He provides tremendous feedback regarding his car, and he drives as if he has way more experience than he actually has. He knows how to go fast, and he knows when to go fast. It’s been great having Dan as a teammate at Andretti Green Racing. “I would say this was a real encouraging day today.”

5/7/03

Trans-Am announces race in Puerto Rico  The Puerto Rico Grand Prix, the 2003 season finale for the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup, will be held on a temporary circuit at Isla Grande Airport, part of the Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport complex in the island’s capital, San Juan. The announcement was made by event promoter Jorge Diaz, Puerto Rico Governor Sila Maria Calderon, the Tourism Company of Puerto Rico, and San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini. The Puerto Rico Grand Prix is scheduled for Oct. 26. Diaz is pleased to be hosting the initial Puerto Rico Grand Prix. The affable Puerto Rico native hopes this race will mark the beginning of a long string of racing events in his island home. “I think this is the first step into a great and bright future for racing in the Caribbean,” said Diaz, whose son, Jorge Diaz, Jr. is competing for the Rookie of the Year Championship in the Series this year. “Puerto Rico is the gateway to the Caribbean and South America. This race will show the world that Puerto Rico has the talent and dedication required to put together a first-class international racing event.” The 1.6-mile, 10-turn circuit, which was laid out by renowned race track designer Martyn C. Thake, will be very similar to the Burke Lakefront Airport—site of the U.S Bank Presents Cleveland Grand Prix. The picturesque circuit, which uses San Juan Harbor as its backdrop, boasts a wide racing surface and 100-percent visibility for fans. Thake’s most recent projects include the Monterrey, Mexico and Mexico City Champ Car World Series circuits, and the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Champ Car and Trans-Am Series street course. The event will mark the first time the Trans-Am Series will race in Puerto Rico. The Series will also present its year-end awards in Puerto Rico. “We couldn’t find a finer location to put an exclamation point on the 2003 season,” said Series Executive Director John Clagett. “The Isla Grande Airport is the perfect venue for this race, and is convenient to the bustling city of San Juan. It will pose its own unique challenges, and we’re looking forward to a thrilling race for both the drivers and fans.” The Puerto Rico Grand Prix, the season finale of the 2003 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup, is scheduled for Oct. 26, and will be aired on a tape-delayed basis on SPEED Nov. 1 at 1 p.m.

5/7/03

Engineers to test modified wall at Richmond  This USA Today article says,  Tuesday morning, engineers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are expected to crash-test a modified version of the impact-absorbing SAFER barrier wall on a full-scale replica of the tight turns found at Richmond International Raceway — site of an accident that caused serious injuries to driver Jerry Nadeau on Friday.  Although the test comes only four days after the crash — Nadeau is listed in "serious but stable" condition at a Richmond, Va., hospital with head, lung and rib injuries — it is no rush job. The test was scheduled before the wreck, and Dean Sicking, director of the university's Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, says his team isn't feeling any additional pressure to move the project along. They already were moving as quickly as possible to adapt the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's barrier to fit other tracks. Sicking has heard accusations that NASCAR is dragging its feet on the project, but says that isn't true. "NASCAR has been encouraging us, pushing us as hard as they could," he says. "We don't see that at all."

5/7/03

Drivers love Toyota  This USA Today article says,  Gil de Ferran had a feeling about Toyota the minute he jumped into a test car last summer, and it had little to do with a good, powerful engine. If anything, de Ferran was impressed by the engine-maker's quick response to his input and feedback, support he quantifies in hours rather than days. Only after he began driving Toyotas regularly did he realize they also make a pretty good motor. Not to mention why. "If you think you need something, they assign a priority to it and boom! It's done," said de Ferran, who has driven Chevys and Hondas. "I just like how responsive they are, more about the people than the engine."

5/7/03

Foolproof test shows who is winning the open-wheel war  UPDATE A reader responds to this article, I beg to differ, IRL is inheriting the "old" guys from The Champ Car Series. Look who left, Michael Andretti....what did he do last year in CART Hummmm LOSE, yep that's right, he lost. I forgot to mention the "great Andretti" qualified last for the first time in his career, and second time and...well you get the picture. Darren Manning you mentioned, he was an F1 test driver, I know that's not much but Dario had to wait till he had won all 7 races of his career by the year 2001 to get that big job offering, F1 test driver, he stayed in CART and won, WOW 3 more races. Then you put down Jimmy Vasser, let me check...just as I thought he won as many races as the great Dario, but Jimmy doesn't have the hot famous wife, just that lousy old future in NASCAR. Nobody will see Jimmy there he should have stuck to the IRL, both fans might have liked him. Then you mention Sarah no sponsor, or ride Fisher, (unless it's Indy) I agree, absolutely. Now to your big "FUNNY" "Sebastien Bourdais? No. Although a 1986 Bourdais is a wonderful vintage." That is funny, that Sebastien guy what a loser, I looked it up, (you may want to try this before speaking next time) he only won the F3000 championship. As I remember the last chump to think he could race cars that came over from that league, that Juan Pablo Montoya guy. Oh wait he came over to your famous track one time and kicked everyone's a*s. As for the Unser family, I have too much respect for little Al to bring up the fact that only the pace didn't lap him his last few years turning left and right. I hope you and the other fan enjoy the IRL season. If anyone wants to join me at the race track I'll be in the S turn. Champ Car Fan 4 Life, Jim Mid-Ohio (It's a road course)  5/6/03 - This Indy Star article says, A strong case can be made that CART is a far better test of driving ability given the diverse nature of the circuit -- road courses, ovals, the whole bit. A strong case can be made that CART produces the strongest and most accomplished drivers in the world. The CART boys have had great success here at the Brickyard, and there's no reason to think that's going to change this time around. But you know what? That only matters to the XXX hardcore fans of the sport. The open-wheel war isn't about the serious devotees who would happily watch a bunch of rusted-out Chevettes race in reverse. The open-wheel war is about grabbing the hearts and minds, and wallets, of marginal fans. It's about passing, well, the Bob Test. The IRL passed. CART is being left back. And the gap, it seems, gets wider each passing year.  Read the full article.

5/7/03

Indy 500 running on fumes  This Atlanta Constitution Journal article says, Although the 500 isn't dead as one of world's premier sporting events, it is gasping near the finish line.

5/7//03

Penske predicts CART will fold  This Autosport.com article says that one of the most influential team owners in American racing, Roger Penske, has predicted an end to the split in open-wheel racing in the near future, but stopped short of indicating precisely what might happen. During a break in practice today (Tuesday) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Penske said the dispute between the Indy Racing League and CART could end within the next year or two. "Within the next 12 to 24 months, we'll see this thing shake out," said Penske. "Economics will play a part in that. CART has made a decision to support a lot of their teams and track promoters. People eventually will say, 'Hey, do we have enough money to continue doing that?' If that isn't there, what happens?" Penske moved Marlboro Team Penske from CART to the IRL following the 2001 season, marking a major shift in power in the ongoing dispute. Tony George, owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, formed the IRL in 1996, largely to wrest control of the sport from powerful team owners. CART teams, including Penske's, stayed away from the Indy 500 for several years. In recent years, though, they've begun to return to the race. Some of the larger teams, like Penske, Target Chip Ganassi, Team Rahal and Mo Nunn Racing, have made the transition from CART to the IRL in the recent years. "CART has done some positive things, but at the end of the day, we've got this place here," Penske said of the speedway. "You've got 400,000 seats [Editor's note: Indy has no where near 400,000 seats.  The actual number is right around 300,000]. If you've got 390,000 show up, you can't really call the event a disaster." While rumors abound that the IRL will soon abandon its ovals-only format and add road and street courses, Penske said the series needs to drop some ovals from its schedule before it pursues road racing. "We don't need to run 21 or 22 races," Penske said. "The IRL is going to have to make the decision as to whether they'll reduce the number of races (to accommodate road racing). I think they're saying, 'We've had tracks support us from the initial stages. Why would we walk away from them?'" [Editor's Note: While the Captain is suggesting that the IRL will prevail, he mentions nothing about the continuing carnage that IRL drivers have to endure running all races on ovals and what can be done to make them safer. Also, he says nothing about what can be done to improve the dreadful IRL attendance at most of the tracks outside of Indy. We find it ironic that without CART teams defecting over the past two years, it would have been the IRL that would probably be out of business today.]

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