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DATE

News (chronologically)

5/19/03

BMW knew Montoya's engine would blow  BMW Williams have revealed that they knew all about Juan Pablo Montoya’s engine problem which robbed him of his first victory in over a year. BMW Motorsport Director Dr. Mario Theissen has admitted that it was no surprise that the Colombian’s engine failed. He said: "We knew at the start that Juan Pablo had a problem and this problem could cause him not to finish this race. "After 20 laps we knew he couldn't finish because we saw the water pressure going down continuously and it was clear he couldn't make it. “It's very disappointing to lose the car if you are leading and it was the first technical failure since Suzuka last year on the car." Despite it being an engine failure, Dr. Theissen pointed out that it was triggered by another breakdown on the car but he refused to play the blame game and said that it’s a joint effort between BMW and Williams. "We had an engine failure but that was the consequence of another problem”, Theissen pointed out. ”But there's no point looking at if its BMW or Williams. We'll take a joint approach, analyze the problem and make a solution."

5/19/03

Hope for the Belgian GP  Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt will today set up a new Belgian government in the wake of national elections yesterday. The election resulted in strong gains for Socialists and Liberals who are members of his coalition but a heavy defeat for the Greens, who had been a part of his six-party government. The election will open the way for a more cohesive government which does not have to pander to minority interests. The Greens were largely responsible for the Belgian law to ban tobacco sponsorship this year which resulted in the cancellation of the Belgian GP. That law may now be overturned which would open the way for a return of the event in 2004, although there is increasing pressure on the races as there appear to be 19 serious candidates for 17 races.

5/19/03

Town Meeting set for Cleveland   The turbocharged scream machines of the CART Champ Car World Series will be coming to the home of Rock and Roll July 3-5 for the Cleveland Grand Prix, but before the stars and cars of the series hit town, fans will get a chance to delve inside the minds of some of the decision makers of the series as the Champ Car Town Meeting series visits Cleveland on June 2nd. The Town Meeting series is essentially a panel discussion where fans can participate in an uncensored question-and-answer session with key members of the CART staff, race officials as well as some of the drivers that will participate in the July race. The series began last year in Columbus and has met with great success as fans have come out in droves to get the inside information on the Champ Car World Series. The Town Meeting, which comes in advance of what will be the historic first-ever night race at Burke Lakefront Airport, will feature CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook, IMG Motorsports President Bud Stanner and SPEED Channel President Jim Liberatore as well as the winner of last year’s Cleveland Grand Prix Patrick Carpentier. Also joining the panel will be Toyota Atlantic standout Joey Hand, who drives for Chesterland-based DSTP Motorsports. Champ Car Vice-President of Communications Adam Saal will be the evening’s host. The Cleveland meeting will take place June 2nd at the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton, located in the Cleveland City Center at 777 St. Clair Avenue. Fans can register for free tickets to the event by going to the official website of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, www.champcarworldseries.com.

5/19/03

Latest on Bill Simpson vs. NASCAR lawsuit  When Halifax Medical Center trauma specialist Dr. Steve Bohannon said Dale Earnhardt would have had a better chance to survive if his seat belt didn't separate in the 2001 Daytona 500, he was just trying to answer a question during a news conference. Now that answer is the crux of an $8.5 million defamation lawsuit Bill Simpson has filed against NASCAR. In documents filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, Simpson attorney Robert Horn argues that NASCAR had reason to be afraid of Simpson. He says NASCAR's failure to acknowledge that Earnhardt's belt system was improperly installed, along with the comments by Bohannon and others, harmed Simpson. Bohannon, who serves as the director of emergency medical services at Daytona International Speedway, spoke during a news conference five days after the death of the seven-time Winston Cup champion. A jury trial in the case is tentatively scheduled for September. The judge can rule on NASCAR's motion for summary judgment -- a ruling in its favor without trial -- anytime before then. Daytona Beach News Journal

5/19/03
Industry News

Kumho Tires starting to make an impact in the USA   Kumho tires were number one in a recent survey of readers conducted by Grassroots Motorsports. In the survey, which is conducted every two years, readers were asked what brand of tires they race on, as well as how many sets of tires they buy each year. In the survey, 24 percent of Grassroots’ readers indicated that they use Kumho tires. In the 2000 survey, Kumho ranked fourth, with 12 percent of readers indicating they use Kumho tires. Other brands mentioned by readers in this year’s survey include: Yokohama (15 percent), BFGoodrich (11 percent), Hoosier (10 percent), Falken (8 percent), Pirelli (6 percent), Michelin (6 percent) and Bridgestone (4 percent). Eleven percent of Grassroots’ readers indicated that they buy three or more sets of tires each year, while 23 percent buy two sets and 67 percent buy one set each year. "We’re not surprised to see Kumho fare so well in our survey," said Grassroots Motorsports publisher Tim Suddard. "We cover a lot of events, and in the last few years we’ve noticed more and more competitors running on Kumho tires. We’ve run Kumhos on some of our project vehicles and discovered that they offer great performance at a great price, and I think that’s what makes them such a hit among our readers." Grassroots Motorsports, which bills itself as "America’s Sportscar Magazine," is in its 19th year of publishing and has a circulation of 75,000. The magazine focuses on amateur roadracing, rallying and autocrossing, as well as event coverage, how-to articles and project vehicles.

5/19/03

Drama missing on Bump Day   According to this Indy Star article, The Pillsbury Bake-Off had more drama. The National Spelling Bee had more of an edge. Bump day at the Speedway? This was Do It For Tony/Fill In The Field Day. There was no bumping. There was no grinding. There was no risk-taking. There are 33 cars, yes, a development that will spare the Greatest Spectacle further embarrassment. But on one of this event's most historically compelling days, there was no buzz, no suspense, no nothing. This was just another desultory day at the track during a generally dreadful month of May.

5/19/03

Crash-prone Foyt stirs Indy hubbub   According to this Chicago Tribune article, Retired Indy 500 icons A.J. Foyt and Bobby Unser had a head-on collision of opinion Sunday over whether Foyt is pushing his 18-year-old grandson, A.J. Foyt IV, prematurely into this year's race. The youngster "is going to hurt himself and someone else if he's not careful," said Unser, a three-time winner of the 500. A.J. IV has spun four times, crashing on three of those occasions, since arriving at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in April. "The kid is not a bad kid," Unser said. "He's healthy, he's strong, he's got a good brain. He just shouldn't be here yet, that's all. It's not that he's too young. That has nothing to do with it. He just needs more experience. Someday he may be a really good driver. But this is not the place to start." "I'm tired of people picking on him," the crusty elder Foyt, a four-time winner here, said of his grandson. "It's all a bunch of bull. The boy passed his rookie test with flying colors. He's run over 228 m.p.h., no trouble. And he hasn't done anything that your Indy winners haven't done--like Friday." Foyt referred to the crash of Unser's nephew, two-time race winner Al Unser Jr., the same day as A.J. IV's latest crash. And Foyt maintained three of the four accidents weren't his grandson's fault, writing off one to a cut tire and two to such egregious errors by crewmen that "I [almost] wanted to run off everybody I've got here." Unser scoffed at all that. "Awwww, it's just lack of experience," he said. "He is, best I can tell, one to three years ahead of himself. It's a simple matter of somebody pushing him too much. He knows that. You can tell by looking at him that he knows he's not experienced enough to be here."  Unser said other drivers in the 33-car field for Sunday's race are concerned about young Foyt. "I'll bet [the consensus] would be 100 percent, if they thought they could survive the political fallout with Tony George," the speedway's president and Indy Racing League founder. Anthony will turn 19 on race day, becoming the youngest driver ever to start the Indy 500. Last year he won four of seven races and the inaugural season championship of the IRL's minor-league steppingstone, the Infiniti Pro Series. In 2001 he won the Southwest regional championship of the SCCA's Formula Continental division, including 6-of-9 races. "When you've won a championship, what do you do? Take the next step," Foyt said. "Anthony's got a good head on his shoulders, and he uses it. That's the only reason I made the jump. It wasn't just because I wanted him to be the youngest guy ever to start the Indy 500." But that's not enough experience for Indy, Unser maintained. "He needs to run a lot of races," said Unser......"No other owner could get by with this except Foyt," Unser charged. "It's all a matter of Foyt's power with Tony George. I tried to talk with Tony about this the other night. He didn't want to hear it." George, told of Unser's charges, said: "That doesn't deserve a response. Bobby likes to blow into town and blow off . . . draw some attention to himself."

5/19/03

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5/19/03

A sorry Sunday   According to this ESPN.com article, At 5:12 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon, the 33rd car qualified for the 87th Indianapolis 500. At 6:20 p.m. ET, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was empty. Not a car on the track. There was no scrambling, no last-minute deals, no emotional roller-coasters, no ride swapping, no white-knuckle runs and none of the drama that always grips the final hour of time trials. Another Indy tradition went down in flames as Bump Day turned into a shell game and, for the first time in 53 years, nobody was sent home. Nine spots were open, nine cars were summoned and nine spots were filled. It didn't take any certain speed to make the May 25 classic -- it simply took four laps. "It's pretty disheartening to go through what I did to make this race and now all you have to do is show up and you're in the field," said Steve Chassey, a former Indy-car regular from the '80s who drove under-funded sleds in three Indy 500s and served as his own chief mechanic in his final start. "The mental stress some of us went through on Bump Day was incredible and I'm not sure these drivers understand what a struggle it was to make this race. Or how special it is." The only struggle this month has been to find enough car owners. There's a surplus of drivers and plenty of cars in Gasoline Alley, just nobody to pay for them. It took a pair of the Indy Racing League's smaller operations, A.J. Foyt and Panther Racing, to field extra cars and a last-minute deal by Sam Schmidt to ensure the traditional 11 rows of three would be intact for the 56th straight year. "I'm amazed this thing came together. I was sitting at home on Thursday and now I'm in the Indy 500 again," said Robby McGehee, a three-time Indy starter who missed the 2002 race but survived a massive accident in practice last year. "Obviously, it was a last-minute deal.".....The only bigger farce than Bump Day was the inaugural Infiniti Pro Series race, in which George's stepson Ed Carpenter -- who is a good driver -- made a mockery of the competition and rules by running away to a 14-second victory. "He was going five mph faster than anybody else down the straightaway," groused one Infiniti car owner. "What a joke." Following Carpenter's win, the Speedway issued an insulting news release that said he joined the likes of Ray Harroun (first Indy winner, 1911), Jeff Gordon (first Brickyard 400 winner, 1994) and Michael Schumacher (first U.S. Grand Prix winner here, 2000). Most of the media room burst into laughter. Nobody felt much like laughing by the end of the day but there was one moment of levity provided by veteran motorsports writer Bob Zeller. After Vitor Meira finished off qualifying shortly after 4 p.m. CT, Zeller said: "A nice performance by Dr. Fill."

5/18/03

Indy 500 field is full   Rookie Vitor Meira became the ninth driver to qualify today on Bump Day, as the full field of 33 cars for the 87th Indianapolis 500 has been reached. Meira qualified at 227.158 mph in the No. 2T Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, putting him in the 26th starting spot. It was the second-fastest qualifying speed of the day, behind only Alex Barron's 227.274 in the No. 20 Meijer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Other drivers to qualify today are Jimmy Vasser, Billy Boat, Shigeaki Hattori, Jimmy Kite, Richie Hearn, Robby McGehee and Airton Dare. Dare is "on the bubble" as the 33rd and slowest qualifier at 223.609 in the No. 5T EPSON/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Bump Day qualifying is scheduled to continue until 7 p.m. (EDT), when the field will be set for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."  We don't expect anymore qualifiers.

5/18/03

Yet another broken back in the IRL   UPDATE  Craig Dollansky was in good condition May 18 at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after surgery to repair a low back fracture suffered in the Freedom 100 IRL Infiniti Pro Series race May 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dollansky is expected to remain at Methodist for about a week.  He underwent 6.5 hours of surgery, so it must have not been a minor fracture.  The 2000 World of Outlaws Gumout Series champion suffered a compression fracture to a vertebra in his lower back in the crash. “The surgery went well,” Craig’s wife, Julie, said Sunday. “He’s alert after the 6 ½-hour surgery, but he’s pretty uncomfortable. He will be here at Methodist Hospital for a week and the healing process will take a few months.” CART's Dr. Terry Trammel, who specializes in treating racing related injuries, supervised Dollansky’s surgery.   5/17/03 - On Lap 11, shortly after the restart of today's Freedom 100 Infiniti Pro Series race, World of Outlaws star Craig Dollansky did a half-spin to the left, slid into the grass between the warm-up lane and the track in Turn 2. His No. 33 VMAC/Karavan Trailers/FattFro Mtrspts. Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone then slid across the track and made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 with the front of the car. Dollansky suffered a fracture of his lower spine and was admitted to Methodist Hospital for treatment. In the days other wreck, Thiago Medeiros was released from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis in good condition, while Matt Beardsley was in good condition with a small chin laceration after being checked and released from the Clarian Emergency Medical Center in the infield of IMS.  We have updated our injury list since the CART/IRL split.  As of last year, a driver was 439% more likely to get injured in the IRL than in CART.  We have not computed the latest percentages yet, but as you can see from the updated table in the article, the IRL has had 8 drivers injured in 2003, whereas CART has none, thereby adding to their unfavorable percentages.  While no one is holding a gun to their head to drive, you almost have to feel sorry for all the drivers in the IRL, the odds are so great of being injured.  Our prayers go out to Craig Dollansky that his fractured spine does not lead to paralysis.

5/18/03

Pruett 5 for 5 with win at Mosport today  Scott Pruett continued his run of perfection at Mosport International Raceway as he won Sunday’s Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup race at the 2.459-mile, 10-turn permanent road course.  Pruett has won in all three of his Trans-Am Series starts (1986, ’87, ’94) and also won an SCCA World Challenge Endurance race, driving for Saleen in 1987. Pruett, in the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR, finished .977 seconds ahead of Michael Lewis (No. 12 Trans-Am Tools by ProQuest Jaguar XKR). Johnny Miller (No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR), Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformed Line Products/Coyote Closures Chevrolet Corvette) and rookie Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) completed the top five. Pruett won the BFGoodrich® Tires Take Control Award for leading the most laps and earned a $4,000 bonus from Flowmaster for winning the “American Thunder Challenge,” given to the driver who wins the pole, leads the most laps, sets the fastest race lap and wins the race. The award, normally worth $2,000, rolled over as no one was able to claim it at Long Beach.   “We focused on what our weaknesses were. We came up here on Thursday did some testing here. We worked on the high mileage tires, which is what we thought our weakness was in Long Beach. “The closing stages were a bit tight with all the oil that someone laid down on the track. You could see the oil and I tried my best to stay off of the slippery spots because any small mistake, slowing down too much or spinning would have been to the other guy’s advantage. “The car was good. I never really thought we could get the set-up and accommodate it quickly with all the rain we had on Friday I didn’t think we would get a good qualifying car. Fortunately the Rocketsports Racing guys gave me a great car. What can I say about this Jaguar she’s a sweet cat. “The tires really helped out today, when I raced in Trans-Am back in the early 90’s the tire supplier never really cared about the product they gave us. The BFGoodrich g-force tires we use rock. BFGoodrich really cares about the product that they put out on the track.”

1. (7), Scott Pruett, Jaguar XKR 41, Running.
2. (12), Michael Lewis, Jaguar XKR, 41, Running.
3. (64), Johnny Miller, Jaguar XKR, 41, Running.
4. (49), Randy Ruhlman, Chevrolet Corvette, 41, Running.
5. (8), Jorge Diaz(R), Jaguar XKR, 41, Running.
6. (86), John Baucom, Jaguar XKR, 41, Running.
7. (06), Joey Scarallo (R), Chevrolet Corvette, 41, Running.
8. (59), Simon Gregg, Chevrolet Corvette, 40, Running.
9. (95), Charlie Webster, Chevrolet Camaro, 17, Running.
10. (76), Jerry Simmons, Ford Mustang, 39, Running.
11. (2), Stuart Hayner, Chevrolet Corvette, 37, Mechanical.
12. (9), Glenn Andrew, Chevrolet Camaro, 35, Running.
13. (5), Tomy Drissi, Jaguar XKR, 33, Running.
14. (3), Paul Gentilozzi, Jaguar XKR, 20, Suspension.
15. (10), Bobby Sak (R), Chevrolet Corvette, 19, Mechanical.
16. (83), Max Lagod, Chevrolet Camaro, 15, Mechanical.
Time of Race: 59:43.000
Winner’s Average Speed: 101.299 mph
Caution Flags: 1 for four laps
Lead Changes: 0
Lap Leaders: Scott Pruet, 1-41
Fastest Race Lap: No. 7: 1:19.188 at 111.790mph
Margin of Victory: 0.977
Average Speed: 100.34 miles per hour
Caution one from 27 through 30

5/18/03

Did AJ screw Dare?   A reader writes, Dear AR1, If you are watching qualifications for the 500, I am sure you are aware there will be 33 cars. The question now is will there be a bump or two. With the rumors of another Ganassi car (Jeff Ward) and another Fernandez car (Papis) that would have sent Fisher and Foyt IV home. Now Foyt just took that run from Airton Dare (223.608) making Dare the slowest car in the field. Dare was upset that they took the run, because he had been running 225's and 226's all morning. Neither him nor the announcers could figure out why AJ took that run. The answer is easy. If Ganassi, and Fernandez add cars (or anyone else for that matter) Now Foyt IV wont get bumped unless there are 3 extra teams. AJ just screwed Dare and used him as a buffer for AJ IV.  Talk about another Indy hose job... Sincerely, Chad Larimer  Dear Chad, There were rumors that AJ Foyt IV had a special engine last year in the Infiniti Pro Series, which allowed him to win all those races.  Tony George's stepson, Ed Carpenter, won in the same car today in the Freedom 100.  However, it's all hearsay and impossible to prove.  AJ Foyt cheating?  Never. However, Foyt IV is in the IRL this year and he has a Toyota engine, arguably the best engine.  Yet he is the slowest Toyota driver....when he stays on the track long enough to put a time in before he crashes, which these days appears inevitable.  How he can go from being head and shoulders above everyone else last year to a total wanker this year is beyond us. It's not like AJ does not know how to set up cars in the IRL.  He's been running in the IRL since 1996 and at Indy since the late 50's.  We see road racers come over from CART with no Indy experience and never crash.  Mark C.

5/18/03

Carpenter wins Freedom 100   Results Sunday of the Freedom 100 IRL Infiniti Pro Series event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any). Race was halted May 17 on lap 13 due to rain and resumed Sunday:
1. (1) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Infiniti, 40
2. (7) Cory Witherill, Dallara-Infiniti, 40
3. (2) Mark Taylor, Dallara-Infiniti, 40
4. (3) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Infiniti, 40
5. (12) Jonathan Urlin, Dallara-Infiniti, 40
6. (6) Aaron Fike, Dallara-Infiniti, 40
7. (10) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, 40
8. (9) Ronnie Johncox, Dallara-Infiniti, 40
9. (11) Marco Cioci, Dallara-Infiniti, 40
10. (13) Rolando Quintanilla, Dallara-Infiniti, 40
11. (19) Brandon Erwin, Dallara-Infiniti, 40
12. (17) Scott Harrington, Dallara-Infiniti, 40
13. (16) Tom Wood, Dallara-Infiniti, 36
14. (14) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 32
15. (5) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 29, in pit
16. (18) Gary Peterson, Dallara-Infiniti, 15, accident
17. (15) Craig Dollansky, Dallara-Infiniti, 10, accident
18. (4) Matt Beardsley, Dallara-Infiniti, 0, accident
19. (8) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 0, accident
Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 109.019 mph.
Time of race: 55:02.1661.
Margin of victory: 13.9522 seconds.
Cautions: 4 for 17 laps.
Lead changes: 3.
Lap leaders: Carpenter 1-19, Taylor 20, Carpenter 21-40.
Point standings: Taylor 139, Medeiros 91, Erwin 86, Urlin 86, Carpenter 84, Witherill 80, Simmons 78, Dana 71, Luyendyk 67, Beardsley 62, Johncox 62.

5/18/03

Foyt smacks the wall again   2nd UPDATE In this ESPN.com article, Robin Miller says the same thing we have been saying, Foyt IV is not ready for the big time and is in over his head.  5/17/03 - It was Foyt's 4th crash of the month at Indy, and it's starting to cost grand pop AJ a lot of money.  He's crashed at almost every venue this year as well. Rumor in the paddock is that other IRL drivers are beginning to be worried about being anywhere near his grandson during the race for fear of being taken out.  5/16/03 - He crashes so often we lost count.  He is not ready for big time racing and needs another few years in the Infiniti Pro Series.  Rookie A.J. Foyt IV was unhurt and cleared to drive after hitting the SAFER Barrier along the outside of Turn 1 this afternoon in his qualified No. 14T Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. “I made a stupid mistake and went into Turn 1 too low,” Foyt said. “I just made a stupid mistake. It was my qualified car; we need to see how bad the damage is.”

5/18/03

It's fill day at Indy  Today is supposed to be traditional bump day at Indy, but it has all the makings of being a fill day, since it is not expected that more than 9 cars will attempt to qualify, which means the 33-car field will just be filled.  If a 10th car does materialize and qualify, the IRL's most popular driver. Sarah Fisher, who is the slowest qualifier, could be bumped out of the race, which probably won't sit well with the IRL.  However, anything can happen and there is no guarantee all 9 cars will complete the four full laps necessary to qualify.  An engine could blow, something could break, anything can happen.  Next up after Fisher to be bumped is AJ Foyt IV.  Can you imagine both Fisher and Foyt getting bumped?  We can't.  This Indy Star article says Indy could use a shot of drama.  That's an understatement.

5/18/03

McLaren designing two new gearboxes  McLaren has two different gearboxes for the new MP4-18. "It takes a very long time to design and build a gearbox," Dennis said. "It's not so much the casings, it's the internal componentry: the lead time on some of them is months and months. And we took a decision more than six months ago that we would do the car with two gearbox configurations. One has a different concept, and the other is a more traditional gearbox, based on the 17D. We did that to ensure that the new-concept gearbox didn't interrupt the race debut. But we are in full production of both gearboxes and they went to test on to the transient dynos within a few days of each other. The car was always designed to use two different types of gearbox: they're both raceable, they're both built in volume to enable us to race either. It's just a slightly more expensive way, but it's the proven way to go about it." Dennis said that the new car will not be seen at Monaco. "There's no logic in bringing a new car to Monaco, however quick it is," he said. "It is very much a driver's circuit. And while the car does play a role, what you need is total reliability, a known quantity in weaknesses and strengths. So I don't think it would be the smart thing to do, even if we were quick. But the car's on target, we re-programmed the timing of the car after the first two results of the season, we were encouraged by the performance of the 17B, and therefore changed the target dates, just a little bit." "We don't intend to get into any big, formal launch. It will be very low-key. We'll just concentrate on developing the car. But we will quickly be able to race it, from a components point of view. We will only race it as and when we feel comfortable with its reliability and performance."

5/18/03

Will it rain in Austria?  Will it rain for the Austrian Grand Prix, or won't it? At this moment, it seems not. In Spielberg the skies are cloudy, but the ambient temperature is 18 degrees Celsius with an expected high of 22. Visibility is unlimited and humidity 64 percent, and the wind is a gentle north-westerly. It is much the same as yesterday, in fact, and yesterday was dry throughout. However, there was a little bit of rain in places last night and the chances of showers are still listed as 50 percent, so it's a case of wait and see. If it does rain it certainly won't be an Interlagos-style deluge, but it could make the race even more entertaining than seems likely, given the grid formation.

5/18/03

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5/17/03

Wreck in The Winston eliminates big names  A big wreck during the final lap of the second of three segments in Saturday's 19th annual The Winston all-star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, eliminated Terry Labonte, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Bill Elliott. The melee started when Stewart tapped Labonte in the rear as the freight train of cars steered through Turn 3 on the final lap of the race's second stanza. Labonte spun through the turn, triggering a multi-car pileup that collected some of the race's most capable machines, namely Stewart, who won the race's first segment.  Only Elliott was injured, sustaining three broken bones in his left foot.

5/17/03

Dallara car wins award UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, Just a minor clarification... in 1999, Dallara could not have won the BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award for their IndyCar chassis, since in 1999 the term "IndyCar" was not used by any motorsport series. At that time, Dallara was building "IRL" chassis. Both CART and the IRL were contractually excluded from using the phrase in regard to their series that year. If the press release using this phrase came from IRL offices, then CART can file a lawsuit against them for infringement of contract.  David Laufer   5/16/03 -   The 37th BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award was presented to Indy Racing League chassis manufacturer Dallara for its IR3 chassis used in the IRL IndyCarTM Series, officials announced May 16 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Andrea Toso, head of research and development for Dallara, accepted the award on behalf of company president Gian Paolo Dallara. It’s the second time Dallara has received the prestigious award, as it also was presented it in 1999 for its IndyCar Series chassis. Award recipients receive $5,000, a plaque and a framed poster from BorgWarner, and their names will be added to the permanent trophy in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. “It’s an honor,” Toso said. “The IRL is the most important project for Dallara. Dallara is highly grateful to the Indy Racing League to design chassis for the series.” The IR3 chassis was a significant risk for Dallara, based in Italy. The Indy Racing League introduced a new, three-year cycle of chassis and engines in 2003. When Dallara designers and engineers started their design for this new generation of IndyCar Series car in February 2002, they decided to use a revolutionary pull-rod front suspension instead of the conventional push-rod system. Repeated wind-tunnel and computer testing showed that the pull-rod suspension provided better aerodynamics, lower drag and a lower center of gravity for the chassis because the pull-rod suspension allowed the car to have a dramatically lower front end, Toso said. Thirty percent of the car’s overall aerodynamic improvement came from the lowered front end due to the pull-rod system, Toso said. “Everybody knows that the pull-rod concept is not new to motor racing,” Toso said. “But in motor racing, you have to consider all possible solutions and pick the best. At the end, we believe the pull-rod concept is a better solution than the push-rod concept.” The Louis Schwitzer Award, named after the dynamic automotive pioneer, has been presently annually in conjunction with the Indianapolis 500 since 1967. It recognizes individuals with the courage and conviction to explore and develop new concepts in auto racing technology. The award is presented by the Indiana Section of Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Past award recipients include Colin Chapman, Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney, A.J. Foyt, and Mario Illien. Last year’s award was presented to the team of University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineers that developed the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) Barrier.

5/17/03

Rain cuts final practice day at Indy short   Drivers still looking for a spot in the 87th Indianapolis 500 encountered a small hitch in their preparation for Bump Day qualifying when rain washed out practice May 17 after just 15 minutes on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Bump Day qualifying, the final chance to earn a spot in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” starts at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday. A 45-minute practice for non-qualified drivers is scheduled for 12:45-1 p.m. Nine spots in the 33-car field are still available. That kind of Bump Day drama is nothing new to the event, as the field has been filled on the final qualifying day 32 of the last 51 years. “It was a little frustrating not getting out today,” said 1996 CART champion Jimmy Vasser, who will attempt to qualify Sunday. “We wanted to get a little bit of qualifying setups ready for Sunday. But I think we can do that on Sunday morning. I think we have a good race car right now. And the qualifying setup should be pretty fast, too.” While Vasser wasn’t able to finish his Bump Day preparation, at least he and Team Rahal teammate Kenny Brack had some fun during the rain. Both drivers spent time with Billy Gibbons, lead singer of rock band ZZ Top, who was the honorary starter of the Freedom 100 IRL Infiniti Pro Series race Saturday at the Speedway. “We didn’t get to do anything today, but meeting Billy Gibbons was a great thrill,” 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Brack said. “I have been a fan of his music for a long time, and my band plays a ZZ Top song, too. “He was even talking music and guitars with me, and I was talking racing with him. It was great.” Veterans Richie Hearn and Robby McGehee were added Saturday to the list of drivers who will make Bump Day qualifying attempts. Hearn will drive the No. 99 Contour Hardening Special Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. The car was entered by Penske Racing, the winningest team in Indianapolis 500 history, as the No. 66T before team owner Sam Schmidt leased it and fielded it as a Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry. “There’s no concern on the car and the engine,” Hearn said. “Everything should be great. I just have to get up to speed myself, which I’m not going to worry about. I just have to keep my nose clean and I know the car will be there in the end.”

5/17/03
F3000

Sperafico goes all the way in Austria  Rodrigo Sperafico won the FIA International Formula 3000 race at the A1 Ring on Saturday, finishing 3.6 seconds ahead of championship leader Bjorn Wirdheim driving for Arden International. With his 2nd place, Wirdheim moves 10 points clear of Giorgio Pantano in the series. Pantano finished third in Austria having worked his way past his fellow countryman Vitantonio Liuzzi, who continues to impress as the best newcomer of the year in the Red Bull Junior Team. The remaining points in the race went to Enrico Toccacelo (Super Nova Racing), Nicholas Kiesa (Den Bla Avis) and the two Americans Townsend Bell (Arden) and Phil Giebler (Den Bla Avis).

5/17/03

Burton wins Winston Open  It takes a visit to victory lane to make the field for The Winston. A visit Jeff Burton made by winning the 30-lap Winston Open qualifying race that included strong efforts by Dave Blaney and Jimmy Spencer. With the victory, Burton secured his eighth consecutive start in the All Star event. Dave Blaney finished second, followed by Mike Skinner, Brett Bodine and Greg Biffle. While the crew worked hard to prepare his No. 99 Velvetta Ford for a chance at one million dollars Burton celebrated in victory lane. The pole sitter, Steve Park, was eliminated from competition when he jumped the start to start the event. Park scrambled back for a 13th place finish in the first 20-lap portion of the race, but not without further incident. Park scrapped the outside wall 15 laps in and struggled in the final segment.   Stan Creekmore

5/17/03

Veterans to attempt to qualify on bump day   Veterans Richie Hearn and Robby McGehee will attempt to qualify for the 87th Indianapolis 500 on Bump Day, May 18, in entry changes filed May 17. Hearn, 32, will drive an entry fielded by Sam Schmidt Motorsports after the team leased a car from Penske Racing, Inc. McGehee, 29, will drive a Panther Racing entry. Bump Day qualifying, the last chance to earn a spot in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday. Hearn, 32, will drive the No. 99 Contour Hardening Special Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. The car was entered by Penske Racing, the winningest team in Indianapolis 500 history, as the No. 66T before team owner Sam Schmidt leased it and fielded it as a Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry. “I appreciate the support that Penske Racing and Toyota have provided me in our quest to compete in the 2003 Indianapolis 500,” Schmidt said. “Without the dedication of many people, this program would not have come together. I look forward to competing in my third Indianapolis 500 as an owner and hope to repeat our success of last season.” Hearn, from Las Vegas, has made three Indianapolis 500 starts, with a best finish of third as a rookie in 1996. He made nine starts for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the 2002 IRL IndyCar Series season with a best finish of fourth at Nashville. He finished sixth in the Indianapolis 500 in a Schmidt entry. Hearn has one career IndyCar Series victory, in 1996 at Las Vegas. “I am extremely excited about my prospects for the 87th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race,” Hearn said. “My relationship with Sam and my experience at the Speedway has me confident for my fourth attempt at winning racing’s biggest prize.”

5/17/03

Saturday Press conference from Austria  Transcript

 1. Michael SCHUMACHER
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN
3. Juan Pablo MONTOYA

5/17/03

Pruett takes pole at Mosport   The final qualifying positions for Sunday's 41-lap, 100.819-mile Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup Round 3, at Mosport International Raceway, with starting position, car number, driver, car and time and speed.
1. (7) Scott Pruett, Jaguar XKR, 1:18.1, 113.377.
2. (5) Tomy Drissi, Jaguar XKR, 1:18.5, 112.752.
3. (64) Johnny Miller, Jaguar XKR, 1:18.6, 112.569.
4. (12) Michael Lewis, Jaguar XKR, 1:19.0, 112.097.
5. (3) Paul Gentilozzi, Jaguar XKR, 1:19.2, 111.790.
6. (10) Bobby Sak (R), Chevrolet Corvette, 1:19.2, 111.750.
7. (2) Stu Hayner, Chevrolet Corvette, 1:19.2, 111.745.
8. (8) Jorge Diaz, Jr (R), Jaguar XKR, 1:20.1, 110.554.
9. (49) Randy Ruhlman, Chevrolet Corvette, 1:20.1, 110.547.
10. (83) Max Lagod, Chevrolet Camaro, 1:20.2, 110.312.
11. (86) John Baucom, Jaguar XKR, Baucom Motorsports, 1:21.1, 109.134.
12. (59) Simon Gregg, Chevrolet Corvette, 1:22.4, 107.488.
13. (06) Joey Scarallo (R), Chevrolet Corvette, 1:22.7, 107.102.
14. (95) Charlie Webster, Chevrolet Camaro, 1:22.9, 106.839.
15. (76) Jerry Simmons, Ford Mustang, 1:23.7, 105.780.
16. (9) Glenn Andrew, Chevrolet Camaro, 1:30.2, 98.119.

5/17/03

Wrecks then rain halt Freedom 100  UPDATE The inaugural Freedom 100 will continue May 18 after the race was stopped after 13 of 40 scheduled laps due to rain May 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The IRL Infiniti Pro Series race will resume at 11:15 a.m. (EDT) Sunday. Track-drying attempts were foiled Saturday by a late-afternoon shower, forcing the postponement.   5/17/03 -  The Freedom 100 was stopped due to rain today.  However, before that they were never even able to complete an entire green flag lap.  When the green flag dropped to start the race, Tony George's stepson, Ed Carpenter, pulled away going into the first turn as if he had an extra 25 HP (he's driving for AJ Foyt, his godfather, making it a real family affair).  Matt Beardsley and Thiago Medeiros crashed on Lap 1 to trigger the first caution period of the race. Beardsley spun entering Turn 3 and collected Medeiros, both smacking the SAFER Barrier at the outside of Turn 3, destroying their cars.  Medeiros was transported via ground to Methodist Hospital, complaining of pain in his left knee. He was awake and alert. Beardsley was released from the Clarian Emergency Medical Center in good condition with a small chin laceration and was cleared to drive.  After many laps under the caution to clean up the debris from the destroyed cars, the race went green again only to see yet another wreck in turn 2, bringing out another yellow.  This time it was Craig Dollansky crashing head-on into the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 on Lap 11. O'Reilly World of Outlaws star Dollansky was transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for evaluation of back pain. He was awake and alert.  Then the heavens opened up and the race red-flagged, as if god stepped in to prevent any further embarrassment.  Mark C.

5/17/03

Pruett tops final practice at Mosport   Scott Pruett continued his dominance at Mosport International Raceway Saturday morning, and set the fastest time during the third and final practice for Sunday’s Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup race. Pruett—who is undefeated at Mosport, having won in all three of his previous Series starts here—turned a 1:18.611-minute lap (112.610 miles per hour), to top the speed charts, after rain washed out both practices Friday. Pruett was less than a second off the record 1:17.44 (113.866 mph) speed set by Butch Leitzinger in last year’s qualifying session. Pruett’s Rocketsports Racing teammates Tomy Drissi (No. 5 League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Movie Jaguar XKR), Johnny Miller (No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR), Paul Gentilozzi (No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR) followed, ahead of Michael Lewis (No. 12 Trans-Am Tools by ProQuest Jaguar XKR). The Victoria Day Trans-Am race, Round 3 of the 2003 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup championship, is scheduled for Sunday, May 18. The race will air on a tape-delayed basis on SPEED May 25, at 2 p.m.

5/17/03

Will CART get it wrong again?   UPDATE A reader responds, Dear AR1, Having read the news tidbit regarding the CART ladder system I would have to agree with you guys that it needs a lot of tweaking. That being said there are some young Americans working their way up that have a ton of potential, one in particular is AJ Allmendinger. The kid has got it. He is the complete package!  Having raced against him in the Skip Barber RTF2000 series I can attest that he is blindingly quick!   AJ will be in CART Champ Cars next year and I believe he's going to rock the house up a bit. There are other drivers coming, unfortunately these things just don't happen overnight!  I predict AJ will be a CART champion sooner than later, and eventually may carry the American torch to F1.  I'm also predicting he may become the first American World Champion since Mario Andretti. He's that good! Tim Rose   5/17/03 - CART has the best American ladder system in America to train young drivers.  Its young drivers have gone on to other forms of American racing and excelled.  However, compared to the European ladder system, CART's system fails woefully.  European trained drivers have been coming to America in both CART and the IRL and cleaning house for years.  Americans are getting their butts kicked up one side and down the next.  America has not produced a serious young American who can challenge for race wins in F1 since Mario Andretti won the World Championship 25 years ago.  It's not because Europeans or South Americans have superior genes, or better DNA, they're just human beings like the young Americans.  The difference are the ladder system cars. As an example, possible the worst training ground in America is the Infiniti Pro Series.  Like its big-brother IRL series, it too is 100% throttle racing, but in slow motion.  Pathetic.  We'll never produce talented drivers like that.   As CART tries to determine what its ladder system will look like in future years, it's clear that the cars young Americans are driving, as they work their way up, are not the correct power to weight to downforce to tire contact patch ratio.  The cars are too planted to the ground and don't produce the kind of tail-out oversteer on exit driving we see in Europe. If you want to see real driving, watch a F3000 race on SPEED Channel.  Nothing in America comes close, and I don't blame the drivers.  It's not their fault..  Townsend Bell cleaned up in the Indy Lights series, yet struggles to keep up with his teammate in F3000.  A Montoya or a Bourdais can come out of F3000 to America and completely outpace American talent in their very first year.  If the current Toyota Atlantic cars and engines are not switched to 100% F3000 specifications in 2005, and Barber Dodge Pro Series cars not switched to 100% F3 cars, young Americans will not have the proper tools/cars with which to learn to drive really fast and someday be good enough to win the F1 driving championship.  So while CART may have the best American ladder system today, unless they bite the bullet and make the quantum leap forward to F3 and F3000 cars, there is little hope of ever again producing an American F1 World Driving Champion.  The IRL and its all-oval 100% throttle racing isn't going to train potential World Champions.  NASCAR isn't going to train potential World Champions.  CART and its ladder series are America's only hope to train young Americans to move up and excel in F1.  If CART fails, America's ladder system will have failed, and the Europeans will continue to kick butt and take no prisoners. We're not the only ones saying it.  David Atlas says in this CART.com article, he’s watched and worried as foreign racers have swept homegrown talent aside in recent years. “I’ve watched open-wheel racing undergone a significant transformation and I’m concerned that we don’t seem to be producing enough young American athletes,” Atlas remarked. “I don’t mean for that to be a parochial remark but I’ve watched a significant transformation and it‘s occurred to me when one uses standards like Juan Montoya that we need to generate perhaps a new approach. “We need to identify new talent and foster and nurture those prospects whether it be Grand Prix motorcycle racing or open-wheel racing at its highest forms here in America. We must continue to generate and cultivate an enthusiastic group of young people because the base for them, coming from a very rich nation such as ours, is quite broad." Mark C.

5/17/03

Money from God   A reader writes, Miracles do happen. We now see that despite the obvious fact that 33 driver/car combinations were impossible less than a week ago, Sam Schmidt has now leased a car from Roger S. Penske, who doesn't share anything with anyone.  Schmidt said numerous times he had no money to run, and opted for the Infiniti Pro Series (Pro? Talk about an oxymoron) now has money from "the invisible check book of God". Amazing. This further denigrates the sanctity of a race that historically saw frantic battles on "Bump Day" for low budget teams /drivers to scramble onto the 11th row. Now they can go to God for "welfare" and enter the race. The real question is, who cares anymore? He's destroyed a once great sport. Mordichai Rosen, LA, California.  Dear Mordichai, as suspicious as it looks, we have no proof that Tony George (who we assume you mean is God) is paying for the extra cars that will attempt to fill the Indy 500 field. In fact Brian Barnhart publicly denied it, so it must not be true.  But we do admit it looks suspicious when John Menard fields a 2nd car all of a sudden, after having said days before he would not do that because his Chevy engines were so slow he'd have to paint "Loser" on the side of the car, i.e. why waste his time.  Something certainly changed his mind in a hurry.  Mark C.

5/17/03

Unser brushes wall in backup car   Al Unser Jr. brushed the wall Friday, but luckily for him it was his backup car and not the car he qualified.

5/17/03

Wilson lands another sponsor  'JSP International have announced their support of Minardi Formula One driver Justin Wilson for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship. JSP International is the world’s leading producer of Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) bead foam. Paul Compton, Executive Vice-President commented prior to today’s qualifying action in Austria: “Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport and our association with Justin Wilson for this weekend’s race offers JSP International a fantastic platform for raising awareness of our involvement in the automotive industry. We’ve also taken this opportunity in Austria to entertain a number of our clients.” Compton continued: “Our relationship with Justin initially came through Jonathan Palmer when we backed one of his Formula Palmer Audi race cars. Jonathan introduced us to Justin and we lent our support a couple of times when he competed in Formula 3000. Our involvement this weekend is the next logical step and with Justin’s outstanding performances in the previous races we look forward to an exciting Grand Prix here in Austria.” JSP International has been at the forefront in developing the use of EPP in industrial and consumer products. Primary among these is automobiles, where lightweight, cost effective bumper components made from ARPRO-EPP absorb energy in low-speed collisions to help minimize damage.

5/17/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

'Man Friday' Running Soft?
Word In The A1 Paddock: Saturday 1
Coulthard Slams BAR Tactics
Stick To The Rules, Michael
A Weighty Scare For Ferrari
Alonso Offered 2007 Contract
BMW Far From Happy With Williams
Alex Wurz Eyes F1 Comeback
Rubber Men Back 'Extreme Tire' Plea
Manufacturers Don't Want F1 Split
No Panic For Pace-Less McLaren
Don't Write Us Off: BMW-Williams
Fernando Alonso And Ferrari
No-one In Ferrari's League: Webber
Button Aims For Podium Dream
Berger Slams Williams Racer
Bernie Gives Austria Hope
Word In The A1 Paddock: Saturday 2
Mercedes Reject Quit Rumors
Head Denies 'Telling Off' Ralf

5/17/03

IRL looks to cut costs   According to the Indy Star, the reliability of the Indy Racing League's new equipment package -- cars, engines and gearboxes -- has league officials working on ways to cut costs. The first measure is limiting teams to one engine per race at the league's five two-day events this season (Pikes Peak, Richmond, Nashville, St. Louis and Kentucky). Next year, the IRL hopes to eliminate private testing with the trade-off being the allowance of an engine manufacturer test at the 500. Teams get the equivalent of seven private test days this season. "There's no reason we can't save the teams money given the way our equipment has performed so far this season," league boss Brian Barnhart said. "Our cars will be a year old, our schedule will be pretty much the same and the cost-per-mile is the same whether you're testing or racing." The engine manufacturers are supportive of both measures, said Robert Clarke, general manager of Honda Performance Development.

5/16/03

Austrian GP - Friday press Conference  Transcript

ENGINE MANUFACTURERS.
Norbert HAUG
Mario THEISSEN
TIRE MANUFACTURERS.
Pierre DUPASQUIER
Hiroshi YASUKAWA

5/16/03

Elliott and Park pace qualifying  Steve Park and Bill Elliott took home the honors during qualifying for the Winston Open and The Winston. Park, in his first effort as the driver of the #30 AOL Chevrolet, captured the pole for the Winston Open, a qualifying event for The Winston. Park’s time of 29.309 seconds, 184.244 mph was almost a full 1/10th of a second ahead of Todd Bodine’s time of 29.401 seconds. After Park wowed the crowd with his effort, Bill Elliott provided a rousing finale to the qualifying spectacle with a three lap pit stop effort of 123.192 seconds, 131.502 mph. Elliott’s pit stop, 12.93 seconds, was the only stop under 13 seconds and the clear difference between himself and the second faster qualifying effort of Tony Stewart. Park attributed his good fortune on the immediate conduit of communication between himself and crew chief Mike Beam. “We think alike,” Park said. “When I came in during the morning practice I was thinking the car might need some more right front spring. Before I could say anything Mike was already saying I think we need some more right front spring.” Like Park, Elliott heaped the praise for his effort on the crew. “The crew had a good stop and we got out good and tied it all together,” said Elliott. “Ray has done such a good job putting this team together.” The pole effort by Elliott was his fifth career The Winston top start and the fourth in the past seven years. For Park, winning the pole for the Winston Open was just what the boss ordered. “Steve did a good job for us. All we wanted him to do was stay relaxed and do a good job and that’s what he did,” said car owner Richard Childress. “I’m behind him, the team is behind him and so are the sponsors.”  Stan Creekmore

5/16/03

Bernie gives Austria ray of hope  With regard to the Austrian GP, "we don't know what is going to happen," Bernie Ecclestone said today. "We will have to see what happens with our friend from Red Bull." Ecclestone suggested that the FIA Formula 1 Championship calendar for 2004 could grow to 18 races. "That may happen," he said, adding that the F1 teams may have to agree to it, something which they have not been willing to agree to in the past.

5/16/03
F3000

Bell to start 4th in Austria  The Arden team drivers were 2nd and 4th in qualifying today for tomorrow’s third round in the FIA F3000 International Championship. Bjorn Wirdheim, the Swedish points leader, was beaten to the pole by the Brazilian Ricardo Sperafico by less than a 10th of a second. Townsend Bell was 4th in his best qualifying spot of his rookie year, 2/10ths of a second slower than his teammate. Townsend was narrowly beaten by Vitantonio Liuzzi, the Italian rookie, 2 laps before the end of qualifying. Wirdheim was frustrated by traffic, but he quickly dismissed his qualifying problem focusing instead on the fact that the car was well balanced and he was pleased with it. Bell expressed satisfaction for his 4th place starting spot, “I like to think we should be in the top five most of the time, but it’s a tough series. If you slip up a bit or do not get the car quite right, it will get you. We had a shot at the front row today. I got a bit of tow from Bjorn and was hitting most of the corners just right. I knew I had a good lap and decided to suck it up and go for it on the final turn, but I spun and blew it. However, I enjoyed the attempt. It’s nice to be starting closer to the front.” “This track and Monaco are probably the toughest into the first turn. Anytime you have a stackup with high speed into the corner and low speed out, it can be trouble. You just have to be aggressive. You can’t do much about the guys behind you. You just hope you get a clean race.” Wirdheim assessed the first turn, “It is very busy due to the long straight leading into it and the second part a tight 40-mph corner.”
Top Ten Qualifiers
Richardo Sperafico Coloni 1:22.036
Bjorn Wirdheim Arden 1:22.099
Vitantonio Liuzzi Red Bull 1:22.152
Townsend Bell Arden 1:22.360
Giorgio Pantano Durango 1:22.994
Tony Schmidt Astromega 1:23.061
Enrico Toccacello Jordan F1 Junior 1:23.118
Phil Giebler Den Bla Avis 1:23.157
Zsolt Baumgartner Coloni 1:23.161
Jaroslav Janis ISR Charouz 1:23.258
Californian Derek Hill qualified in 12th position with a time of 1:23.475

5/16/03

Road America announces additions to CART weekend   The Mario Andretti Grand Prix presented by Briggs and Stratton weekend, July 31-Aug. 3, will include three other professional racing series--the SPEED World Challenge GT Series 1, the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Series and the Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook Tires. The race weekend will be a double-header for the support series with races Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning and the Champ Car race tentatively slated for 2 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.roadamerica.com or by calling 1.800.365.7223. SPEED World Challenge GT Series is a production-based grand touring race car series for vehicles from the normal production run between 1997and 2003 delivered to retail customers. Small- volume manufacturers and modification companies are allowed to participate on a case-by-case basis. The races, which are 50 minutes maximum, award points toward the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships as well as for weight adjustments. The FF2000 Zetec Championship series is a professional organization that showcases top young formula car drivers on ovals, street and permanent road courses. A ladder series, some of the graduates include Memo Gidley, Alex Tagliani, Buddy Rice and Dan Wheldon. Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook Tires is a professional series based on the popular Spec Miata class. The series was developed in cooperation with Mazda USA and the Mazdaspeed performance division. All three series are sanctioned by SCCA. Mario Andretti will be available for special fan activities during the course of the Champ Car race weekend. A complete schedule for the four-day weekend will be available closer to the event.

5/16/03

Tony George's stepson wins Freedom 100 pole   Ed Carpenter won the pole for the inaugural Freedom 100 on May 16 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, driving a car owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. Carpenter’s two-lap average speed was 188.490 mph in the No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. It was the first career Infiniti Pro Series pole for USAC short-track standout Carpenter, 22, from Indianapolis. Foyt won the pole for the Indianapolis 500 in 1965, 1969, 1974 and 1975. “I’m just really happy,” Carpenter said. “A.J. Foyt had a great car, and (chief mechanic) Jack Starne has worked his butt off to get this car ready for this track. It was our goal to start here on the pole and ultimately, to win this race. We’re off to a perfect start right now. Hopefully, we can just keep it going. “It’s nice coming to your home track. It just makes you feel a lot better. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. This place means so much to me. I’ve been coming here since I was 8. I’ve been waiting and dreaming for the day that I get to turn laps here.” The Freedom 100 starts at 3 p.m. (EDT) Saturday and will be televised live on ESPN2. Series point leader Mark Taylor will start on the outside of the front row, qualifying second at 188.062 in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Taylor, a rookie from London, has qualified for the front row in all three Infiniti Pro Series races in 2003.

1. (14) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Infiniti, 188.490
2. (4) Mark Taylor, Dallara-Infiniti, 188.062
3. (20) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Infiniti, 187.459
4. (12) Matt Beardsley, Dallara-Infiniti, 186.450
5. (5) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 186.252
6. (91) Aaron Fike, Dallara-Infiniti, 185.822
7. (92) Cory Witherill, Dallara-Infiniti, 185.694
8. (36) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 185.635
9. (8) Ronnie Johncox, Dallara-Infiniti, 185.273
10. (24) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, 184.274
11. (6) Marco Cioci, Dallara-Infiniti, 183.512
12. (3) Jonathan Urlin, Dallara-Infiniti, 183.080
13. (11) Rolando Quintanilla, Dallara-Infiniti, 182.711
14. (37) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 182.497
15. (33) Craig Dollansky, Dallara-Infiniti, 182.216
16. (9) Tom Wood, Dallara-Infiniti, 181.712
17. (25) Scott Harrington, Dallara-Infiniti, 181.583
18. (27) Gary Peterson, Dallara-Infiniti, 179.550
19. (99) Brandon Erwin, Dallara-Infiniti, no speed 

5/16/03
Industry News

IMG founder dies  Mark McCormack - founder of sport's biggest marketing company IMG - has died this morning in a New York hospital aged 72. McCormack had been hospitalized since suffering a heart attack in January. He had been in a coma ever since, but despite hopes he would make a recovery, died today. A memorial service is being planned for May 21 in New York, where IMG staff have been told they are welcome to attend. There will be a private burial in Chicago.  Said a statement issued to IMG staff: "Many of us have spent our entire careers working with, learning from and being inspired by Mark McCormack. "His death is a great loss to all of us; but, in true McCormack fashion, he prepared the company well for this unthinkable eventuality. IMG will continue to succeed and set the standard for business in the future as a tribute to our founder and all the people who have helped him over the years. "We join you in expressing our condolences to the family and all those who have been so important in Mark McCormack’s life."

5/16/03

Penske, other team owners want Tony to pay   Penske Racing and other team owners are not committing to running extra cars to fill the Indy 500 field.  Tim Cindric of Penske Racing says, ``The issue is can Penske help fill the field? As Roger has said, we have equipment that's capable of running the race,'' Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said Thursday. That doesn't mean Team Penske will be adding drivers this week. ``If we wanted to run an extra car, why wait till the second weekend?'' Cindric said. ``We come here to win, not just participate.'' Cindric still left open the possibility his team could help fill the field. No Indy 500 has started with less than 33 cars since 1947. How they would help is uncertain, although Cindric said he believed any deal would have to be completed by Saturday. ``We'd do what we can to help, and we've had various discussions about that,'' Cindric said. ``It's not over yet.''  In essence, what we see happening here is that the teams will hold out until Tony agrees to pay for the extra cars.  Tony, not wanting a short field, will likely give in and ante up.

5/16/03

Michael Schumacher takes provisional pole in Austria, Webber a stunning 3rd 

1. M. SCHUMACHER Ferrari 1'07"908
2. BARRICHELLO Ferrari 1'08"187
3. WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth 1'08"512
4. VILLENEUVE B·A·R Honda 1'08"680
5. BUTTON B·A·R Honda 1'08"831
6. MONTOYA Williams BMW 1'08"839
7. COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes 1'08"947
8. RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes 1'08"978
9. PIZZONIA Jaguar Cosworth 1'09"024
10. FISICHELLA Jordan Ford 1'09"281
11. TRULLI Renault 1'09"450
12. HEIDFELD Sauber Petronas 1'09"479
13. ALONSO Renault 1'09"680
14. PANIS Toyota 1'09"764
15. FRENTZEN Sauber Petronas 1'10"055
16. DA MATTA Toyota 1'10"370
17. VERSTAPPEN Minardi Cosworth 1'10"894
18. WILSON Minardi Cosworth 1'11"056
19. FIRMAN Jordan Ford 1'11"171
20. R. SCHUMACHER Williams BMW 2'00"000

After his fast run, Webber had this to say - “We came here expecting a good and respectable performance given the amount of work we have undertaken and I am pleased with our start to the weekend. The Jaguar R4 felt really good all-round today. The balance, Michelin tires and Cosworth CR5 engine worked in complete harmony to produce a higher qualifying position than any of us expected. I was aiming for a top eight slot but P3 is simply brilliant reward for all the hard work going on in this team. I really enjoyed the lap too but like anything in life, you always want more! The car is particularly good into the corners and this gives you extra confidence on the entry. To be the highest placed Michelin runner is very encouraging indeed as we head closer to race day and we’ll do our homework in preparation for an optimum strategy. As we showed in Barcelona two weeks ago, a reliable Jaguar crossing the finishing line has the pace to score points and that’s what we need more of this weekend. The early signals are good!”

5/16/03

CART Stars pays out $25,000 after two events  The Snap-on Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow presented by RACER summarized the karting series’ payouts for their first two events in Buttonwillow, California and BeaveRun, Pennsylvania. The payout to drivers and teams totals $26,500 for the first West division and East division races of the 2003 season. “I am pleased that Stars now has the organization and associations to start delivering value to the racers who support our series,” said Stars founder Bryan Herta. “Between the prize money, our unprecedented travel fund, and the generous awards from our sponsor Snap-on, we can put some cash and value in the drivers’ pockets.” The prize money distributed to the top three finishers in the ICC and ICA premier classes totaled $10,000 for the two events. $7,500 was earned by teams through the team travel fund, in which registered teams are paid based on miles driven to an event. Title sponsor Snap-on Tools provides $4,500 in tool certificates to the top three finishers in all classes for every event. “When my partners and I joined Bryan late last year, we announced that we would put together a complete, professional racing series,” said Stars principal Bobby Rahal “Awards and support to our teams are part of that, along with professional marketing, sponsorship, television, and race administration. We intend on delivering on every one of our commitments and we are happy to write these checks to our competitors.” Prize checks and certificates are being mailed to winners and registered Travel Fund teams will be receiving a statement showing their payout for the races. Travel Fund distribution occurs at two points during the season, after the second race in each division and at the end of the year after the Stars Karting Championships at California Speedway with the Champ Cars.

5/16/03
Industry News

Motorist sets speed record in Britain  A motorist, clocked at the fastest speed ever recorded by a car driver on a public road in Britain, was yesterday jailed for five months after being caught at almost 160 mph on a dual carriageway. Jason McAllister smashed all previous law-breaking records when he was captured traveling at 156.7 mph - more than twice the speed limit - in his high-powered 3.2 liter BMW M3 on the main road between Aberdeen and Dundee. He was also clocked on the same journey doing 120.6mph through a stretch of roadworks at the Forfar bypass where there was a temporary speed limit of 40mph. Police road safety experts have calculated it would have taken him a quarter of a mile to stop in an emergency. McAllister, a car dealer who was already banned from driving, showed no emotion at Forfar Sheriff Court yesterday when he was jailed for five months, disqualified from driving for another four years and ordered to resit an extended test. McAllister, 27, of Manor Road, Aberdeen, had previously admitted driving dangerously, driving while disqualified and without insurance on the Aberdeen to Dundee dual carriageway on 6 March. Sentencing McAllister, Sheriff Kenneth Veal said: " This level of speed is absolutely outrageous and put at risk every other user on the road at the time." Chris Macintosh, the procurator-fiscal, had earlier told the court that the vehicle was seen traveling at 120mph for a distance of one-and-half miles through roadworks at the Forfar bypass. The highest speed of 156.7 mph, over nearly half a mile, was clocked shortly before McAllister was eventually stopped by police as he neared Dundee. Mr Macintosh said: "I understand it is the highest speed recorded by speed detection equipment by the Scottish police."

5/16/03

Two NASCAR races have tickets available  Fewer than 20,000 tickets remain for next weekend's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Tickets also remain for The Winston on Saturday night. Roanoke Times

5/16/03

Coulthard fastest in Friday AM practice 

Position/Driver Team Fastest Lap
1 David Coulthard McLaren 1m08.836s
2 Jarno Trulli Renault 1m08.944s
3 Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar 1m08.961s
4 Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1m08.968s
5 Mark Webber Jaguar 1m09.023s
6 Fernando Alonso Renault 1m09.071s
7 Jenson Button BAR 1m09.374s
8 Nick Heidfeld Sauber 1m09.374s
9 Jacques Villeneuve BAR 1m09.429s
10 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams 1m09.530s
11 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber 1m09.800s
12 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1m09.826s
13 Ralf Schumacher Williams 1m09.961s
14 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren 1m10.019s
15 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan 1m10.089s
16 Ralph Firman Jordan 1m10.296s
17 Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1m10.494s
18 Olivier Panis Toyota 1m10.504s
19 Jos Verstappen Minardi 1m10.905s
20 Justin Wilson Minardi 1m11.060s

5/16/03

Remember that Mo?   A reader writes, Dear AR1, After hearing of Mo Nunn's plan to field up to (3) cars in this year's Indy 500 I could only think back to his comments regarding "The 500" that he made during ABC's rain delay coverage at the Milwaukee Mile back in 2000. One week after Juan Montoya's dominant performance (leading 167 of 200 laps) Gary Gerald took a survey of CART team owners and asked them that with the impact of that win did they have any plans to join Chip Ganassi at the 2001 Indy 500. Interestingly enough Mo Nunn stated that "I have no plans to go to the 500 and I don't agree... personally, that... any team from CART should help the 500 show look any better until we're all back on an even keel."  Wow! Remember that Mo?  Name Withheld  Dear No Name, most of the CART teams that moved to the IRL did so for financial reasons, not because they wanted to.  Tony George and others were successful in convincing Honda and Toyota to bolt to the IRL. Many CART teams relied on money from Honda and Toyota (be it driver incentives, engine incentives, or cold cash) to stay in business.  When that money moved to the IRL, those teams had no choice but to follow or go out of business. Unfortunately for the sponsors of those teams, and for Honda and Toyota, attendance at the IRL races are lower than CART's and it's TV ratings have not improved from what they were at CART.  They do, however, get benefit from participation in the Indy 500, even though that race has diminished significantly since its heydays when CART raced at the Brickyard. It's a sad state of affairs for open wheel racing.  If Tony George had instead fielded cars in CART for Americans like Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, and others 1) Tony would have saved a significant amount of money,  2) The split would not have happened and CART/IndyCar (CART used the IndyCar name back then) would be even more popular than it was back then when Indy pulled a 10.9 TV rating in 1995, CART's last year at the Brickyard.  History will show that the creation of the IRL was a tactical blunder by Tony George and the best thing that could have ever happened to NASCAR.  Now it remains to be seen whether it will lead to the sports (Indy Car racing) ultimate demise, or whether it can make a comeback. Since 1996 (some 7 years), the IRL's first year, its TV ratings and race attendance (entire series and the Indy 500) have dropped, meaning so far, it does not look like it will.   Mark C.

5/16/03

Thursday press conference from Austria  Transcript

Cristiano DA MATTA
Nick HEIDFELD
Michael SCHUMACHER
Ralf SCHUMACHER
Mark WEBBER

5/16/03

Pook rules out use of long circuit at Brands   In an Autosport interview, Chris Pook ruled out the use of the full-length GP circuit at Brands Hatch next year, because the cost of upgrading the British track to accommodate CART's series would be prohibitive. "I don't think we'll get there, as much as we want it done." "The long circuit is a $850,000 fix."   It's really too bad that Octagon can't afford to make this fix, minuscule compared to fixes F1 demands from its track promoters.

5/16/03

CART to restore name   This year CART dropped the use of the word "CART" in the Champ Car Series title, preferring instead to say "Champ Car" whenever possible.  The CART name will be restored to the Champ Car World Series… "I think we underestimated the value of the brand and we will reintroduce CART to our name," CEO Chris Pook has told Autosport magazine.

5/16/03

Fisichella fastest in private Austria testing 

POS DRIVER NATIONALITY ENTRANT TIRE TIME
1. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Jordan-Ford 1:09.781
2. Antonio Pizzonia Brazil Jaguar-Cosworth 1:09.907
3. Mark Webber Australia Jaguar-Cosworth 1:10.036
4. Jarno Trulli Italy Renault 1:10.338
5. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault 1:10.380
6. Allan McNish Britain Renault 1:10.395
7. Ralph Firman Britain Jordan-Ford 1:10.763
8. Justin Wilson Britain Minardi-Cosworth 1:11.280
9. Jos Verstappen Netherlands Minardi-Cosworth 1:11.717

5/16/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Speedy Montoya's French Adventure
F1's Lead-Footed Drivers
Williams Hold Crisis Meeting
Lauda: F1's Better Off In Bahrain
Red Bull Shelves All-American Team
Webber Considered Waiting For 'Big Team'
Nick On Heinz-Harald: We Get On Fine
New Ferrari Getting Better: Schu
FW25 Is A Winning Car, Says Ralf
Drivers Will Miss A1-Ring
Team Orders Are Here To Stay
Schu Brothers Notch Up 100
Engine Man Quits, Blames Briatore
Jordan Appoint Two Testers
FIA Confirm Silverstone Inquest
Montoya Eyes Monte-Carlo Victory
Da Matta Rejects 'Season Surprise' Tag

5/16/03

German 500 TV ratings in Germany   The TV rating for last weekends German 500 on ARD 1 in Germany (Germany nationwide terrestrial, Live coverage) was 800.000 households which is a market share of 8.9%. The TV rating on RBB Brandenburg (Live Coverage which was received in Berlin, Brandenburg and Germany, and nationwide via cable and satellite, was an additional 150,000 households. The market share in the Federal state of Brandenburg was 15.4 %. We have not yet received any figures from Eurosport, stay tuned....

5/15/03

Witherill leads Freedom 100 practice   Indianapolis 500 veteran, who took a step down in his career, Cory Witherill, put his experience to good use May 15, leading the opening practice for the inaugural Freedom 100 IRL Infiniti Pro Series event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Freedom 100 is set for 3 p.m. (EDT) May 17 and will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Witherill, who raced in the 2001 Indianapolis 500, turned a top lap of 47.8741 seconds, 187.993 mph in the No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. “I wish I would have had this opportunity the first time I came here,” Witherill said. “In 2001, I didn’t know what to expect. Now I know what I need to do. I try not to get distracted. I have to mentally stay focused on the number-one thing we have to do here: win this race. “We did most of our times by ourselves. There was a little bit of traffic. I was trying to stay by myself and see what we can do by myself. That is what qualifying is going to be.” Pole qualifying takes place at 12:45 p.m. (EDT) Friday (EDT) Friday

5/15/03

Indy TV ratings continue downward spiral   From a high of 10.9 when CART raced at Indy last in 1995, the Indy 500 has seen its TV ratings drop to a 4.8 last year (some progress the race has made under the IRL.  Most company CEO's would be fired for results like that). The downward trend appears poised to continue this year.  Last year's pole day qualifications for Indy drew a final 1.1 rating on ABC; 1,129,000 HH.  This year it was down to a 0.8 rating and 819,000 HH's.  That is another alarming 27.4% drop in one year.  It looks like the defection of Honda, Toyota, Andretti Green, Nunn, Ganassi, Marlboro, Target, etc, can't halt the downward spiral of the popularity of this once great race since the IRL was created.  Meanwhile, CART's ratings on CBS are the same as last year, indicating that series is not seeing any erosion of viewers despite the defections of teams and sponsors to the IRL.

5/15/03

Final USA TV ratings from last weekend  

CART Germany (Delayed CBS) 1.0 Rating/3 share 1.092 million HH's 1.351 million people

CART Brands Hatch (Delayed CBS) 0.8 Rating/3 Share  905,000 HH's 1.058 million people

IRL Indy Trials (Live ABC) 0.8 Rating/2 Share  819,000 HH's  1.215 million people

Conclusions - 1) CART draws 18 times more viewers on CBS that SPEED at only twice the cost to buy the time, and both CBS races were taped delayed mind you.  2) CART must, therefore, put 100% of its races on CBS in 2004, even if tape delayed - it's a bargain deal.  This is not even an option for CART, it must buy its way out of the SPEED contract.  This will bring sponsors back to the series.

5/15/03

Williams in crisis talks  This telegraph.co.uk article says that Juan Pablo Montoya revealed today that his struggling Williams team held a crisis meeting at their Oxfordshire factory in Grove ahead of this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix in an attempt to turn around their disappointing season. Montoya and his team-mate, Ralf Schumacher, were called to the team's headquarters on Wednesday after criticism from BMW, their German engine suppliers, for taking just 32 points out of a possible 90 in the opening five races. The meeting, which lasted for 2.5 hours, confirmed that the team who finished runners-up to Ferrari last year need more time to get to grips with the new FW25 car, and have effectively written off any title aspirations. "We are starting to understand the car a bit more but things are going to take a bit of time," Montoya said.

5/15/03

Tora, Tora, Tora   Rookie Tora Takagi was the fastest driver in practice for the 87th Indianapolis 500 for the second consecutive day, and the third day overall this month, May 15 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Takagi led at 39.2744 seconds, 229.157 mph in the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. He was fastest Wednesday at 229.704 and on May 5 at 229.019. "Our race setup is very good,” Takagi said. “I got a chance to work with the car in traffic, and there were no big problems. I think we will come out and do one more long run tomorrow, and then that will be the end of our preparation at the track this week. "The Pioneer team did a fantastic job all month long. I wish we could just keep driving until Race Day because I love this place so much. I will just save all of that enthusiasm and energy for the final practice and for Race Day.” 2000 Indianapolis 500 MBNA Pole winner Greg Ray was second at 39.4084, 228.378 in the No. 13 TrimSpa Special Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone. “We’re still figuring out what makes a good car and what makes a bad car, and we’ve learned a lot of things,” 1999 IRL IndyCar Series champion Ray said. “We know we had some problems in qualifying, and we’ve learned about two or three of those as the week has gone on. Today we’re working purely on race setups, getting lots of miles and running of full tanks. I think we had a fantastic day working on race setups.” Takagi’s teammate, Felipe Giaffone, was third at 39.4295, 228.255 in the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Rookie Scott Dixon was fourth at 39.4444, 228.169 in the No. 9T Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, while rookie Dan Wheldon rounded out the top five at 39.4515, 228.128 in the No. 26T Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Alex Barron was the fastest non-qualified driver, 13th at 39.7826, 226.230 in the No. 20 Meijer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. It was Barron’s first day in the car, as he replaced the injured Arie Luyendyk, who will not drive in the race May 25.

5/15/03

Alcohol and drug abuse to be monitored  Law enforcement officials plan to crack down on alcohol and drug violations during the upcoming races at Lowe's Motor Speedway, sources said. The Alcohol Law Enforcement Agency, the Cabarrus County Sheriff's Department and the Concord Police Department will target vendors selling alcohol to minors and bartenders who over-serve patrons. Alcohol Law Enforcement Agency Agent Joe Barringer said ALE plans to use at least four teen-agers to be sent in to local businesses to try and buy alcohol from vendors. Independent Tribune

5/15/03

Alex Barron gets shot at Indy  Lynx Racing graduate Alex Barron, who won both the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship series title and 'Rookie of the Year' in the same season - 1997 - has been chosen to replace injured Indy legend Arie Luyendyk in a Mo Nunn Racing entry at the 87th Indianapolis 500. Barron, from Menifee, Calif., will attempt to qualify the No. 20 Meijer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone on Bump Day, May 18. Barron will attempt to make his second IndyCar Series start of the season, as he substituted for the injured Gil de Ferran in a Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone in the Indy Japan 300 on April 13 at Motegi, Japan, finishing 17th after an accident.  Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Luyendyk does not have medical clearance to drive in the race May 25 after crashing May 9 in practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  "I'm very happy because this is a terrific opportunity for me with a first-rate team and a great engine-chassis package that I'm really familiar with," Barron said. "It's not the greatest of circumstances because I'm driving in place of a true legend here at the Speedway, but I hope we can carry on with the team's goal of fielding a potential race-winning effort." Barron, 32, shared Bank One Rookie of the Year honors with Tomas Scheckter last year at Indianapolis after finishing fourth. He finished fifth in the IndyCar Series standings last season, with a victory at Nashville.  "It wasn't a very difficult decision to go with Alex (Barron), when you really think about it," team owner Morris Nunn said. "The first thing we did when we found out Arie (Luyendyk) wasn't going to be able to drive was talk to our sponsors and see what they wanted to do. They said, simply, that they wanted a driver who could step in and give us the best possible chance to win the '500.' "That goal never changed, from Day 1. We feel Alex comes to us with the highest credentials available. He tested here. He raced this package in Japan. I have every reason to expect that we can keep working toward our goals in the relatively short time we have left."

5/15/03

CART finally got a break in Europe   This AP article says, The Champ car series finally got a break on its latest European swing. After two dismal trips to Europe, the 2003 foray was nearly perfect. Rookie Sebastien Bourdais took both races and emerged as one of the world's most talented young drivers, winning before a 40,000 sellout on the road at Brands Hatch and before almost 70,000 fans on the 2-mile EuroSpeedway oval near Dresden. What a difference from the rain, poor attendance and tragedy of 2001 and 2002. "We deserved a good couple of days," said Adam Saal, CART vice president. "We had this coming." CART's first marketing venture into Europe 1 1/2 years ago was a near-disaster. Two races in Germany and England in 2001 were run just days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Amid the disquiet came a horrendous crash in which former two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi lost both of his legs while leading the German race. Last year, the Euro swing was reduced to only one race, and wet weather held the crowd to only 20,000 at England's Rockingham oval. This year, Champ car officials elected to run on a road course in England, knowing high-speed oval racing is too difficult to pull off in rainy England. Good choice. The classic Brands Hatch road course near London was a sellout on a sunny day to see Bourdais sweep to his first CART win in only his fourth race. It got even better. Almost 70,000 jammed the EuroSpeedway near Dresden - probably the best facility CART visits all year - to see Bourdais master the oval in his first race on one. Wheel-to-wheel with Mario Dominguez through the last two turns, he slipped home by 0.084 second ahead of the Mexican. Zanardi also made an emotional return, driving 13 "ceremonial laps" to complete his race of 20 months ago. CART will be back in Europe again next season. Brands Hatch has a five-year contract and CART president and CEO Chris Pook is looking to add a third race - probably in Portugal or Spain. The question mark is the EuroSpeedway. The facility is first class, but its finances are a mess. The ultramodern, 120,000-seat circuit was opened three years ago after whopping construction costs of $220 million. The regional government invested $140 million in the project - primarily to provide jobs to one of Germany's poorest regions - with the rest coming in a loan from a Berlin-based bank. But when the bank got into financial problems recently, it sold off non-banking business and called in loans - which included loans to the track. Unable to pay, the track was ruled insolvent last year. The track is back operating this season with a $2.3 million loan from the regional government. Officials hope to have a buyer by the end of summer. Track chief executive Hans-Joerg Fischer wants the Champ car race to anchor the facility, but that decision will be up to the buyers. Fischer said several U.S. investors had expressed interest, but he declined to identify them. Pook said the series hopes to return to the EuroSpeedway. If not, it must find another site in Germany, Europe's hotbed of auto racing. "This track is in a class of its own. This is unbelievable," Pook said. "We could we be back here next year." Pook said the site of a new race, and the future of CART in Germany, would be decided by the market. "When we finish talking to all the automobile manufacturers, we'll listen to them as to what is the best market for them. At the end of the day it's about selling cars," he said. "They will give us their input and then we will make a decision." Fischer said promoting the race was difficult because of the poor German economy. Still almost 70,000 showed up paying an average of $115 for a three-day ticket. "If CART comes to Germany, they have to race on the oval," Fischer said. "I don't think they need another road race, since road racing is nothing special over here. "They need an oval race. Oval racing is nothing special in the United States, but here it's very unique." The EuroSpeedway also has a road layout that is certified by FIA - the governing body of auto racing - which has fueled speculation about attracting Formula One. "Probably one day in the future, we will talk to Formula One again, but that is not the objective these days," Fischer said. "We feel a big part of the CART family and we'd love to have the race stay here."

5/15/03

Escape hatch proposed  The extensive injuries suffered by Winston Cup driver Jerry Nadeau in a crash at Richmond International Raceway this month have some of the series' physically bigger drivers talking to NASCAR about escape hatches. Similar to the setup found in the roofs of NHRA Funny Car bodies, the hatch idea for NASCAR was proposed last summer by native Texan Bobby Labonte. #38-Elliott Sadler, who is 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, said the idea definitely has merit. "I would really like to see that come, being a big guy," said Sadler, driver of the No. 38 Ford Taurus at Robert Yates Racing. "I cannot sit here and tell you that if my car hits driver-side and catches on fire, that I can get out of the right side. It's an easy thing to do in the shop when there is no panic, but if there's a fire or something going on, I think it would be hard to do that. I would really like to see the hatches be put in place." Exiting a Cup car in duress has become increasingly difficult since NASCAR mandated use of the HANS Device. Fort Worth Star Telegram

5/15/03

Deal on new title sponsor not close  A NASCAR spokesman said Wednesday it would be premature to name any company as a leading candidate to replace R.J. Reynolds Tobacco as title sponsor of the Winston Cup series. "In terms of finalizing any kind of a deal, I see another 60 days minimum," said Jim Hunter, vice president of corporate communications for NASCAR. "There are serious conversations going on, but as far as putting a timetable on it, I don't think we can." Earlier this year RJR officials confirmed they had told NASCAR that if another title sponsor could be found the tobacco company would step aside despite the fact it last year signed a five-year contract extension. Discussion about a new sponsor will likely be part of the upcoming weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where RJR is also the sponsor of The Winston all-star race scheduled for Saturday night. McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Gillette and Visa are among the companies that have been named as possible candidates to replace RJR in the title sponsor's role. Speculation that VISA has emerged as a front-runner has picked up in recent days, but Hunter said Wednesday that was not true. A Visa spokesperson declined to comment. Dean Bonham, president of The Bonham Group, a Denver-based sports-marketing agency, said he thinks NASCAR offers a potential sponsor one of the most attractive demographics in professional sports. "The NASCAR demographic is more diversified than many people realize," Bohnam said. "It's broad in terms of age, income and education, and its fans are much better educated and have a higher income than most people realize." ThatsRacin.com

5/15/03

Indy's commercial appeal eroding  This Indy Star article says, Once, the Indianapolis 500 ruled the airwaves when it came to motorsports marketing. Soon it may be a middle-of-the-pack runner. Between strains of "Back Home Again in Indiana" and the winner's swig of milk, the self-proclaimed "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" steadily commands $180,000 to $200,000 per 30-second ad slot -- and has since 1998. But no longer does the Daytona 500 loom in Indy's mirror. Having lured more than $260,000 per slot in February, NASCAR's biggest stage now flies the checkered flag of motorsports marketing -- and has for four of the past five years, according to a Michigan-based sports marketing research firm. Other NASCAR races are charging hard as well. So much so that, despite Indy's consistency, it is slipping toward a second tier of Winston Cup events at venues such as Texas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Martinsville, Va., Speedway -- even the Brickyard 400, which also runs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Nondiscounted ad rates for the Indy 500 are not much higher than a typical Winston Cup event in April," said Eric Wright, vice president of research and development for Joyce Julius and Associates. "They've gone from $95,000 to $120,000 per slot, while Indy's stayed around $185,000."....................."No other event can say it's both the biggest and the best," Chitwood said. "When you say the word Indy, people worldwide know what that means. And it's a unique event, one that goes back to 1911 and offers so much tradition and Americana that it's impossible to compete with." At least one sports marketing expert disagrees. Despite the 500's rich heritage, the race has gone from playing "a very important role in modern American sports culture" to being just one of several options available in an oversaturated motorsports market led by NASCAR's rise during the late 1990s. "Over the course of time -- especially the past decade -- the Indy 500 has seen its status erode," said Paul Swangard, managing director of the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. "It's simply not as important as it once was. In fact, it's taken a step back. And to see that happening is cause for concern." The lack of more personable, high-profile stars such as two-time winner Helio Castroneves limits potential for the sport as well as its signature race, Swangard said. While its biggest obstacle continues to be the rivalry between IRL and Championship Auto Racing Teams, or CART, sponsors still reap plenty of value at Indy, he said.

5/15/03

Jordan to give F3000 drivers a shot  Jordan has chosen Hungary's Zsolt Baumgartner as one of two new test drivers for its Formula One team, Hungary's Sports Minister Gyorgy Janosi said Thursday. Team boss Eddie Jordan told a news conference that 22-year-old Baumgartner, who currently competes in F3000, would drive at the pre-race Friday sessions at the German and Hungarian events. Jordan posted on its website that another F3000 driver, Czech Jarek Janis, would also test for the team later in the year.

5/15/03

Latest Ferrari  Isn't a F1 Ferrari a red car with a little white horse?

5/15/03

Alternate fuel speculation  With NASCAR’s current fuel supplier announcing intentions to make its way out of the sport at the end of this year, there’s little wonder that the engine builders in the sport are showing some early anxiety signs.   Fuel, which in NASCAR-style racing dictates engine builds, is one of the often-overlooked commodities in racing. Tosco, the current supplier, offers remarkable consistency from track-to-track. Therefore, it’s very easy for engine builders to take the engine to the limit every week. In this costly process, all of the fuel used in NASCAR’s top series is made in one Texas-based refinery, then shipped directly to each track for dispensing to the teams. But with a new entry on the horizon, that could change.   “They’ve been excellent even when we’ve had questions,” said Doug Yates, in his role of engine builder for Robert Yates Racing. “All the fuel comes out of one place and then they ship it east or west. It’s been a good product, but when there have been issues all their engineers will jump right on it and help us with things.   “We’re a little nervous about the next guy coming in so it would be nice to have some lead time on and just get some experience with running that fuel through the engines,” added Yates.  However, NASCAR Winston Cup Director John Darby gives an emphatic “No” to a change in blending from the new official supplier, which is scheduled to be named sometime later this year.   “Our goal in bringing a new fuel supplier on board would be that the competitors realize there’s a different sign at the fuel pumps and everything else is the same as it’s always been,” Darby said regarding his goals for the supplier change.  “A lot of that process is going on now with the fuel suppliers that we’re talking to, which there are a number of right now,” said Darby. “One of the things they’re most amazed about is the accuracy and consistency of our current fuel from track-to-track-to-track all the way across the country.  “It’s unbelievable,” added Darby, nearly echoing Yates’ observations of the fuel’s consistency. “A lot of that comes just from the process of using it. So, in finding that new fuel supplier there’s a lot of work going on with our current supplier and a potential new supplier obviously until one’s really named that work won’t accelerate but those two are working together to ensure that.”  Darby told TFR that NASCAR hasn’t given out a recipe or formula for the fuel to any possible supplier, adding, “We’re not chemists. Anybody can go get a fuel sample from any one of our race tracks and they can figure that out. We don’t need to do that for them.” Darby added a “No,” reply to a possible switch to a no-lead blend during the changing of the fuel guard.  Yates explained, if needed, where he’d start with a no-lead package. “You just make some adjustments to the engine parts, the valve seats, valve seat material, the valves coated versus not coated and then how you treat them even down to how you jet them and how you set your carburetors up.”  “The fuel is ultra critical to everything we do as far as our tuning and as far as the way we go to construct the engine,” said Yates. “A couple of years ago, we were flirting with unleaded fuel and doing some things there. The engine parts didn’t look so good. It just takes adjusting the engine combination and the way we treat it during the weekend. So the sooner we know what we’re going to have to deal with the better off we’re going to be for next year. Ford Racing

5/15/03
F3000

American Giebler lands another F3000 go  American driver Phil Giebler will once again be behind the wheel of The FIA/F-3000 car fielded by 2000 series champs Den Bla Avis at this weekend's event at Austria's A1 Ring. The Intl F-3000 Championship is the official support series of Formula One and the DBA team is owned by David Sears. Sears' teams have won six series championships over the past ten years and past drivers include Juan Montoya, Bruno Junqueira, Sebastien Bourdais, Kenny Brack and Mark Webber. "We were very happy with Phil's performance two weeks ago in Barcelona and we really wanted to get him back...I am very happy we were able to find funding to make it a reality", stated team manager Paul Jackson who went on to say "Phil came to Spain with no knowledge of the car, the tires, their limits and our team...he was very impressive and we look forward to trying to continue our momentum this weekend". The FIA/International F-3000 race from Austria can be seen live this Saturday morning on Speed (check local listings for times) www.philgiebler.com

5/15/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Sponsor Rejects 'F1 Crisis' Tag
Jordan Aiming For More Points
No Progress For Minardi, Warns Jos
Irvine Turns On Ralph Firman
Kimi, David, Bounce Back At A1
Dernie Makes 'Nostalgic' Williams Return
Austria Departed A 'Long Time Ago'
New Year Deadline For F1 Supremo
F1's Latest Star Only Getting Better
Jos Not Interested In Justin
Austria '03 All About Compromise

5/14/03

Takagi leads practice times on Wednesday  Rookie Tora Takagi led practice May 14 for the 87th Indianapolis 500, one of two drivers surpassing 229 mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Takagi, who qualified seventh for the race, turned a top lap of 39.1809 seconds, 229.704 mph in the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. "The most important thing I wanted to get started doing today was working on my race setup and to begin fine-tuning the car and the way it acts in traffic,” Takagi said. “My fast lap was on my own, and I feel good about how the car runs when I am on my own. But the most important thing, obviously, is to have a good-handling car in traffic.” Gil de Ferran was second at 39.2708, 229.178 in the No. 6T Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, while Takagi’s teammate Felipe Giaffone was third at 39.3640, 228.635 in the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. MBNA Pole winner and two-time defending race winner Helio Castroneves was fourth at 39.4301, 228.252 in the No. 3T Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. Tomas Scheckter rounded out the top five at 39.5039, 227.826 in the No. 10T Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Jimmy Vasser was fastest of the non-qualified drivers, 11th at 39.8307, 225.956 in the No. 19 Argent Rahal/Letterman Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone. This was Vasser’s first day on track this month. Bump Day, the final day of qualifying, is Sunday, May 18. Practice continues Thursday. “I went out this morning, and in a matter of three or four laps at speed, the car was solid,” Vasser said. “I was flat and ran about a 226 on our own. I know that there’s a lot more in there by trimming it and putting the qualifier motor in there. The real focus for me today was trying to get to work on a race setup and help the team move the race setup along.”

5/14/03

Another wall victim, Luyendyk withdraws from Indy 500, not cleared to drive  2nd UPDATE “Since the crash, obviously my back and neck had some pain,” Luyendyk said. “I also noticed I wasn’t as coherent as I should be. I got back in touch with Dr. (Henry) Bock and concluded it’s not in my best interest to race because I don’t think I can function the way I should in a race car. I didn’t have any desire to be in the car feeling the way I feel.”  5/14/03 - Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk has been re-examined by the IRL IndyCar Series medical staff this morning and has not been cleared to drive in this year’s 87th Indy 500. Luyendyk will give way to a replacement driver yet to be named for his #20 Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force entry. Luyendyk made heavy contact with the Turn 1 wall during practice Friday afternoon and suffered injuries to his upper back. He opted not to participate in Sunday’s rain-delayed Pole Day qualifications session, planning instead to make his attempt to qualify the Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing car for his 18th career Indy 500 this Sunday, Bump Day. “I just haven’t felt right since the accident and thought it would be best to have the doctor give me another look before deciding whether or not to continue driving,” Luyendyk said. “I told Dr. (Henry) Bock that I didn’t think I was ready to get back into the car, and after a rather detailed examination, he agreed. Rather than ask the team to give me a few more days to recuperate, I think the best thing to do at this point is to step aside and keep the Meijer program moving forward with a replacement driver.” Team owner Morris Nunn said a replacement driver will be named shortly.  5/14/03 - Is this because of the lingering effects of his hit with the Indy wall?  This Indy Star article says,  Arie Luyendyk told his Indianapolis 500 team this morning that he will step out of his ride, effective immediately, The Star has learned. A meeting with officials from Meijer, the primary sponsor of the No. 20 Mo Nunn Racing car, will be held this afternoon, a team official said. Luyendyk declined to give a reason for his decision, but lingering soreness from Friday's accident at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway likely is a factor. The two-time 500 winner said it felt like he stretched muscles in his back when his car hit the first-turn wall. Luyendyk's top lap this month was 228.205 mph. That speed is 22nd among the drivers competing for this year's Borg-Warner trophy and third on Morris Nunn's team behind Speedway rookie Tora Takagi and Felipe Giaffone, who are fourth and 14th, respectively. Both were among the 24 qualifiers Sunday. Among the possible replacements are Richie Hearn, who has a pair of top-six finishes in three 500 starts, veteran Raul Boesel and Alex Barron, who was quickest in pre-May testing for Team Penske. Hearn was sponsored last year by Grill 2 Go, which is an associate sponsor on Luyendyk's car. Barring a change of mind, Luyendyk likely is at the point of announcing his retirement from driving, too. He has raced only in the 500 the past three years after taking a one-year sabbatical.

5/14/03

Nakano hits Indy wall  UPDATE Nakano was unhurt and his car is repairable.  5/14/03 - Shinji Nakano just hit the wall going onto turn 1. No word on how much damage to the car or to him.

5/14/03

Renowned artist to do poster   Romero Britto, the internationally renowned Neo-pop artist, has agreed to be the official artist for this year’s Grand Prix Americas, announced Chuck M. Martinez, president and general manager, Grand Prix Americas. As the official artist, Britto will design the event poster for 2003. The original painting, as well as limited edition prints, will be auctioned to help raise funds for the Grand Prix Americas Foundation. In addition, Britto will draw artwork on 10 authentic race helmets which will also be auctioned off at the Charity Gala for the Grand Prix Americas Foundation. Britto is a close friend of Emerson Fittipaldi who is serving as an honorary co-chair of the Grand Prix Americas Foundation. "We couldn’t be happier with Romero Britto, not only is he internationally recognized, but he is a South Florida icon,” said Martinez. “Britto’s style exemplifies what the Grand Prix Americas is all about: culture, style and beauty. We are excited to have his artwork available for auctioning during our charity Gala." "I love cars,” said Britto. “I love the courage of those sportsmen who can provide so much emotion through speed. I’m excited to be part of this great event."

5/14/03

Honda & BMW say no to customer engines   According to this Autoweek article, Although the FIA claimed last week that there was unanimous agreement on the subject, BMW and Honda are refusing to offer customer F1 engines at a cost of $10 million in 2004......But BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen said, “It’s impossible that all engine manufacturers will reach a consensus over such a proposal, all having different goals, budgets and internal structures. We’re simply not in a position to supply them. We would have to restructure, increase our staff levels and improve our resources, if we were even to think about supplying them. Ten million dollars wouldn’t even cover the cost of the parts we would need, and we’re not going to give the engines away.” Honda, which split from Jordan Grand Prix at the end of last year to streamline its operation with BAR, feels the same way. Honda F1 president Shoichi Tanaka said that the company has, “no plans to go down that route and would not accept being obliged to supply a second team at an affordable price.

5/14/03

Ecclestone won't buy CART   According to this Autoweek article, If anyone was thinking F1 czar Bernie Ecclestone might be CART’s magic bullet, they’ll be disappointed to learn that he isn’t going to fire, or at least not in the fashion widely speculated (and propagated by some in the CART community). By CART’s race at the Lausitzring in Germany, it was fairly clear that Ecclestone would not assume ownership of the series or be directly involved in its management. Ecclestone, or F1, might enter some cooperative agreements with CART or its drivers that might benefit both series, but any Ecclestone takeover is no longer in the cards. Informed insiders say if it was going to happen, it would have happened by now. Plans to privatize CART? They continue apace, with or without Ecclestone. Team owner Gerald Forsythe, already CART’s largest shareholder with more than 25 percent of the stock, is working on a plan that includes a small consortium of owners—a maximum of four or five. Businessman Kevin Kalkhoven, the former CEO of Uniphase Corp., and now co-owner of CART’s new PK Racing team, has apparently signed on with Forsythe. Ecclestone might still join the group as a minority owner. Forsythe’s deal could take another several months to materialize, which might be part of the plan. The more cash CART burns in the meantime, the cheaper it gets for anyone hoping to gain controlling interest. Moreover, CART insiders expect lawsuits in coming months from activist shareholders such as Jon Vannini, who has periodically attempted to influence CART management the last three years. Those could ultimately affect any effort to take the company private again.

5/14/03

CART attendance hits 634,000   The London Champ Car Trophy at Brands Hatch and the German 500 at EuroSpeedway Lausitz each met with great success in what has become an annual sojourn into Europe, drawing large crowds at each stop. A race-day crowd of 40,000 at Brands Hatch and 68,000 at EuroSpeedway has boosted the total attendance count to 633,771 fans after five races – a number that is on pace to put the series at over 2.4 million in attendance for the seventh consecutive season.

5/14/03

Microsoft & Ganassi team up at Indy  What does a world-class car racing team do to gain a competitive edge at the biggest race of the year? It turns to the latest technology advances from Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT). During this year's Indianapolis 500 qualifying trials and on race day, Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) will streamline communications between its two pit crews using Microsoft(R) Windows(R) Messenger running on Tablet PCs powered by Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, and a custom-built application using the new Microsoft Real-Time Communications Server 2003 (RTC Server 2003). "The key to staying ahead of our competition is all about getting the best performance from our cars," said team owner Chip Ganassi. "And quickly sharing driver feedback and information on car adjustments between our two pit crews is essential to making that happen." With the Microsoft solution, TCGR can share that vital information wirelessly in a fast, more-secure way. "We are thrilled to have Microsoft on board to help us try to repeat our year 2000 Indy win," Ganassi said. "This initiative is a reflection of all three of our team's core values: performance, partnership and innovation. Microsoft has been an incredible partner. Its ability to work directly with our drivers and engineers to better understand our business and then to customize innovative cutting-edge solutions for us using .NET helps us gain a competitive advantage on the racetrack." Real-Time Communication: Key to a Winning Strategy In the past, sharing data between two pits was a slow, manual process where messages were either verbally relayed -- which creates challenges when dealing with the noise at a racetrack -- or written on paper and physically carried to the other pit. The premium put on speed in the racing world applies to not only the cars on the track, but also the pit operations. Clearly, something had to change. This year, TCGR pit crews are able to quickly write instant messages by hand on a wireless Tablet PC, using Microsoft RTC Server 2003 on the back end to more securely send the messages to the other pit, and automatically store the data for future analysis. The technologies that make this possible are the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system running on Fujitsu Stylistic ST4000 Tablet PCs; Microsoft RTC Server 2003; and Windows Messenger 4.7, which includes electronic ink messaging capabilities when running on a Tablet PC. Where the Tablet PC really shines is in its overall versatility. The race engineer can easily carry it in the pit and instantly communicate with other team members. It has the full computing power of a traditional notebook PC, so it enables the race engineer to quickly pull up a rich set of information and make intelligent adjustments on the fly. The engineer can manipulate the application very naturally using an electronic pen and can quickly send handwritten notes to the other pit crew members about driver feedback and car-tuning information in Windows Messenger over the wireless network. Microsoft RTC Server 2003 helps ensure this highly competitive data is secure and easy to archive. TCGR's pit crews offer a good example of how instant messaging is no longer just a social application, but one that businesses of all sizes can safely take advantage of to make real-time business decisions. PRN Newswire

5/14/03

HP OK with F1 TV numbers  Andrew Collis, the global sponsorship director of HP told SportBusiness International magazine that the company was not worried about the future of the sport. "We don't see any negative elements in terms of image," Collis said. "The dip in TV figures only took them back to the 2000 levels, which were sufficiently attractive to us to become involved in the first place."

5/14/03

Ticket sales up in Austria  Austrian GP organizers have elected to build an extra grandstand on the run up to the Remus Kurve to seat more people. This will be the last Austrian GP for the immediate future, the race's contract having been cancelled because of the country's stance on tobacco advertising.

5/14/03

Brazil buckled under threat from Bernie  Brazil allowed tobacco companies to sponsor April's Formula 1 race near Sao Paulo after racing's sanctioning body threatened to cancel the event, Correio Braziliense said. Humberto Costa, Brazil's Health Minister, told legislators that the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile threatened to cancel the Formula 1 race if the government permanently banned sponsorship from cigarette companies, the newspaper said. ``We were threatened,'' he told deputies, according to Correio. The government gave temporary permission to let companies advertise at the race, held annually in April. The federation's press office in Paris had no immediate comment. The Formula 1 race, which takes place Interlagos, a district of Sao Paulo city, brings $100 million to the country, Correio said. Costa has announced measures banning the sale of cigarettes in gas stations, bakeries and supermarkets.  Bloomberg Latin America

5/14/03

#99 to run $1 million challenge  The No. 99 CITGO Ford Taurus will sport a new paint scheme in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and the MBNA America 400 at Dover International Speedway. The Peel Out, Reel In & Win! Million Dollar Challenge car will launch CITGO’s summer promotion that will run from May 23 through July 6, 2003. This is the second year in a row CITGO has leveraged its two major sports sponsorships, NASCAR and BASS, in the summer promotion. The contest could result in two grand prize winner millionaires in the fall of 2003. “One of our primary marketing objectives is to take advantage of the synergies that exist in our major sponsorships,” said Phillip Thompson, Sports Marketing and Sponsorships Manager for CITGO. “By tying these two sponsorships together in a major, national contest it enables us to reach a far greater segment of the consumer public and give consumers an opportunity to win a host of valuable prizes while following two of their favorite sports.” Consumers can enter the Peel Out, Reel In & Win! Million Dollar Challenge at any participating CITGO location for a chance to win one of the more than 1,000 prizes. No purchase is necessary and the grand- prize winner will choose between two packages. The first, a VIP NASCAR race weekend at the Georgia 500 in Atlanta and the second, a VIP Bassmasters weekend at the CITGO Bassmaster Central Open in Monroe, La. The consolation prizes for each are a Roush Stage III Mustang and fully outfitted Triton bass boat respectively.

5/14/03

GPWC gives Bernie a deadline  Bernie Ecclestone has been told to agree to a new power structure within Formula One by the end of the year or face the long proposed rival series becoming a reality.  Luca di Montezemolo, chairman of constructors champions Ferrari, has issued the stark threat to the Formula One supremo in a bid to force Ecclestone's hand after months of negotiations. It now means the three investment banks with a stake in Formula One, Ecclestone and the car manufacturers must agree to a deal in just six months - or plans for the rival series will be activated with a launch date of 2008. Said di Montezemolo, quoted in the Financial Times: "In no other sport are the teams deprived of a share of two of the three main revenue streams - trackside advertising and ticket sales - while having to share just 47 percent of the gross income from TV rights." He went on to state the three creditor banks - JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers and Bayerische Landesbank - 'know nothing about Formula One'. "The simple truth is," added the Ferrari chief, "that without the carmakers they cannot make a championship." Despite the threats, and the new deadline date of December 31, it is widely expected Ecclestone will strike a new deal with the GPWC to ensure the survival of a sport which has become one of sport's most successful business models. Sportsbusiness.com

5/14/03

Are 33 cars important?  This Indy Star article, says, There's a chance, just a chance, this is much ado about nothing. While some folks along Gasoline Alley expressed doubt there will be a 33-car field for the Indianapolis 500, event officials insist/promise/guarantee the grid will look like a grid, and not a mutated rectangle. One that doesn't include a recently qualified 1998 Honda Accord (although it would give the Chevys a run for their money). Still, the damage is done. To the event's reputation. To its image. To its standing as The Greatest Spectacle In Racing. And to the sport itself. Until the field is filled -- if it is filled -- the question will be asked: What does this say about the sport's most celebrated event, its crown jewel? The mere possibility, the simple mention that there might not be a complete field for the first time since 1947, only feeds into the ever-growing perception that this sport, and specifically this event, aren't what they used to be. What else are people supposed to think? They hear about the diminishing TV ratings. They see the disappearing Speedway crowds. Now there is persistent talk there might not be 33 cars in the field. For hard-core fans, the ones who can go 1-on-1 with Donald Davidson in Race Jeopardy, that might not matter. But for most of the sporting public, the reason to care about the 500 is because, well it's the Indianapolis 500. It's an event that transcends its sport. Or used to. [Prediction - the field will have 33 cars.  Tony George will either dip into his pocket and pay a team to run their backup car, or Honda or Toyota (or some of their teams) will in the end step up.  All this talk of not having 33 cars is nonsense, and is probably a ploy to get more media coverage to help fill the grandstands]

5/14/03

Canadian GP not sold out  For the first time since Formula One moved the Canadian Grand Prix to Montreal's Isle de Notre Dame, the event isn't sold out with just over a month to go before the June 15 race. Officials are blaming the SARS scare in Toronto for lagging sales.  We don't buy that.

5/14/03

Nadeau semi-conscious  NASCAR Winston Cup driver Jerry Nadeau's head, rib and lung injuries suffered in a crash during practice May 2 in Richmond, Va., may be more serious than previously reported. Jay Frye, general manager of MB2 Motorsports, which owns Nadeau's No. 01 Pontiac, said yesterday the driver is only semi-conscious and still can't speak. "There is some frustration because you would like to have him respond to you," Frye said yesterday in a conference call from Charlotte, N.C. "He is, but just not verbally." Frye said doctors described Nadeau's head injury as "moderate to severe."

5/14/03

NASCAR fan pleads guilty  A NASCAR fan who flooded Fox with angry e-mails after a Red Sox game pre-empted an auto race pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge Tuesday.
Michael Melo acknowledged that he fired off more than a half-million e-mail messages to WFXT-TV 25 in Boston after the Red Sox game was broadcast instead of a NASCAR race in 2001. The e-mail messages were automatically forwarded to Fox-25's Los Angeles parent company, Fox Entertainment. The network, thinking it was a hacker attack, shut down Internet communication with the affiliate and was forced to spend about $36,000 US to clean up the barrage. Melo pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge of damage to a protected computer system. Under a plea agreement, the government recommended a sentence of six months' confinement in a halfway house. Melo's sentencing is Aug. 12. After the hearing, Melo and his lawyer, Andrew Good, declined comment.   AP Story

5/14/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Austria Will Be Back, Says Bernie
Nick's Frightening Impact
Panis Desperate For A Result
Michelin Back Renault Challenge
Austria Braces For Rain
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Schu Has High Austrian Hopes
Speedy Montoya To Face Tribunal
Alonso Owes It All To Flavio
Rubens Will Miss 'Heartbreak' A1
Webber Slams 'Burden' Pizzonia
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Rubens Plans Change Of Scene?
Another 'Austria-Gate' Unlikely
Jaguar Wanted Webber Until '07

5/14/03

John Menard pans Chevy  When John Menard was asked by the Indy Star if he would field another entry in this year's Indy 500, he responded by saying, "What's the point? We have no power from our Chevy engines.  Are we going to put 'Loser' on the sidepods for a sponsor?"  Ouch!! PDM co-owner Paul Diatlovich vowed not to run the car just to help fill the field. "We won't do that," he said. "We'll go home."   There is no way Chevy will keep teams...at least any good ones...and with no good teams and Herb Fishel leaving, we wouldn't be surprised if they just left the IRL altogether after this year.  They will continue to get their clocks cleaned by Honda and Toyota, which is likely to send shudders through the NASCAR Winston Cup paddock with Toyota's arrival on the horizon.

5/14/03

What is Ford doing for CART?   3rd UPDATE  Two more readers respond, Dear AR1,  All of those things are noted of course. However, if the fans don't notice, especially the ones that are here, then you might want to rethink what you are doing. With regard to the ad buys for CART broadcasts, that doesn't really count when the advertisements are NASCAR themed. All of the other things that are mentioned don't seem to be things that reach the general consumer base. How many of your typical American sports viewers & consumers log into the Ford website on a daily basis. How about using CART as a theme for your ads in Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Fortune, Business Week., Road & Track, Car & Driver..etc. What about displaying Champ Car show cars in your dealerships. What about running promotions to have a Champ Car driver be a personal driving instructor when someone buys a new limited edition Mustang or other premium vehicle, then do a commercial that capitalizes on that. How about Ford Motorsports merchandise that features the Champ Car driver the way you do in NASCAR? How many tickets do you give out to customers to attend events (this may be happening, but I have not heard about it). These are the kinds of things that make CART visible to the public that could care less right now. Marketing is primarily intended to attract consumers, not simply to validate the choices of the ones who are already watching. Well, that's my take on it anyway. Why don't you use one of your ad buys in prime time TV, and produce an exciting spot that features the CART series. Put Paul Tracy's face right in front of all those people watching Survivor. Better yet, I dare you to run a TV ad spot featuring Champ Cars during a Winston Cup broadcast. Yet, for some reason, it's no big deal to see the opposite happen. I understand that it is tough to cross promote with Lilly, or Players, or Scientific Atlanta, or whoever the sponsors are in CART. But perhaps a more aggressive presence, as the most recognized name in Champ Car, could help attract other recognizable brand names to the series. When people see their favorite brand names, they begin to identify with the team and driver, and will watch and attend in larger numbers. That's my two cents worth. Scott Morris, Orlando, FL, Another reader says, I challenge you can to go into any Ford dealership in America...for that matter any Ford, Jaguar, Volvo, or Mazda dealership in America, and you will not see a single scrap of paper re their involvement with CART...ABSOLUTELY ZERO...talk to any dealer or dealer group and they will tell you the exact same thing...that Ford is doing absolutely zero to support the series and that it is not even on the radar screen to increase their involvement...they throw a couple of ads during the shows and that is it...they are truly hopeless...no small wonder they are getting their lunch eaten year in and year out by the likes of Toyota and Honda both domestically and abroad...they are simply funneling the money they are making at Cosworth from their CART program into their F1 engine program...it is such an enormous wasted opportunity by Ford...but what else did we expect...that said, the Cosworth folks are doing a very good job on the engine side...I don't think you could ask for a more equal playing field on the power side or better reliability...so it is business as usual at Ford...Cosworth seems to have maintained its entrepreneurial flair while the corporate side walks around in a complete fog, unable and/or unwilling to exploit this opportunity to their own benefit...what a shame...what a sham!  Name withheld by request.  5/13/03 - A Ford PR rep responds: Referring to the item, "What is Ford doing for CART," that you have on your webpage, I would offer the following points: 1) Ford does have a TV ad buy with CART on both its SPEED Channel and CBS broadcasts, as well as the Fox Sports Espanol broadcast. 2) Ford has developed an in-car telemetry system for Lingner Group that would enable the viewers at home to see things like speed, RPM, G-loads, steering angle, braking points and interval between cars on the track.  3) Ford's racing webpage, FordRacing.com, contains extensive coverage of the Champ Car World Series, including photos, feature stories, breaking news, race results, etc.  4) There were articles in both the February and March issues of Ford World, the internal Ford publication, featuring the Champ Car World Series and Ford's involvement with it.   5) Ford and its Dealer Groups are currently in discussions with CART and select race promoters regarding marketing programs that it would like to enact later this summer in conjunction with the Champ Car race in that market.   6) Ford has also worked extensively to promote the Champ Car World Series this spring, asking its Winston Cup star Kurt Busch to do a test in a Team Rahal Champ Car at Spring Training, arranging for the American Idols to come out to the Long Beach Grand Prix where they filmed a video that aired during the show, asking drivers Darren Manning and Alex Tagliani to sign autographs at the Cleveland Auto Show, and scheduling driver Roberto Moreno and the Herdez show car to make an appearance at the Fabulous Fords Forever show at Knottsberry Landing to sign autographs and mingle with fans. I should also mention that Ford has several in-market publicity programs utilizing the drivers that are designed to increase awareness of the race and Ford's support of the Champ Car World Series. Andrew Punzal, Manager, Champ Car Sponsorship Activation & Public Affairs, Campbell & Co./Ford Racing   5/13/03 - Another reader chimes in, Dear AR1, I was just looking at the April Ford World newspaper published for employees, retirees, etc (a healthy subscription list) and it didn't have one single article about their involvement with CART. Are they ashamed to let their employees and outlets even know they are involved? Jim Hart, Hampton, VA  5/12/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, Ford has naming rights on the CART series, but I don't see them doing anything to help grow it.  They are not running any TV ads that I have seen, and their print ads are almost non-existent.  What gives? Mordichai Rosen, LA, Calif.  Dear Mordichai, we are as puzzled as you are.  Looking at the numbers, Ford Cosworth is turning a small but healthy profit from the engine rebuild business they have with CART.  They have a monopoly so-to-speak, and it's certainly keeping their Torrance, California shop in business.  We assume Ford paid CART something for the naming rights on the series, and CART certainly needed Ford at a crucial time last year, but like FedEx, they have chosen to stop right there, which is exactly what CART does not need.  They need a partner who is ready to engage the consumer market to CART's and Ford's benefit. We do know that Ford is not in the best of financial shape right now, but they do have marketing dollars for motorsports.  Unfortunately for CART, those dollars appear to be flowing all to NASCAR and F1.  And to add salt to the wounds, when CART asked Cosworth to give them a proposal to implement AR1's passing button idea (10 pushes per race, per driver, giving 50 extra HP for 3 to 5 seconds), they came back with a six figure cost to do it. Everyone we have talked to in the CART paddock agrees that the passing button will mix things up and create some real excitement for the fans (i.e. the paying customer) on CART's tight road and street circuits, and more exciting racing will draw bigger TV ratings and bigger race day attendance, beneficial  to CART, its sponsors and Ford. One would think that if Ford is not going to do any TV advertising around the CART series (featuring CART drivers and teams), it could at least give Cosworth the money to design, test and implement the passing button.  Mark C.

5/13/03

Panoz named Grand Marshal   Dr. Donald Panoz, Founder of the American Le Mans Series, has been named Grand Marshal for the 71st running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans that will be contested next month in France, only the sixth American ever to be so honored at the classic motorsports event. The June 14-15 race at the Circuit de La Sarthe will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the creation of the world’s most famous endurance race and the event upon which the American Le Mans Series is based. The series operates on an agreement with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “Creator of the first series to bear the ‘Le Mans’ name, and at the same time using its racing rules, Donald Panoz has developed endurance racing and taken it to a level probably never before attained on the American continent,” said the ACO in its announcement. “The American Le Mans Series is today a success from a sports, commercial and media point of view. “Donald Panoz thus contributes in this way towards boosting the image and prestige of the 24 Heures and is a major partner of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest for the promotion of the 24 Heures du Mans,” the ACO said. The invitation for Dr. Panoz to start the race was jointly issued by the ACO along with Francois Fillon, Minister of Employment; Roland du Luart, President of the Sarthe County Council; and Jean-Claude Boulard, Mayor of Mans. Dr. Panoz accepted the invitation in a letter to Michel Cosson, President of the ACO. “This selection is a tremendous honor and I am anxiously awaiting the race next month,” said Dr. Panoz. “It has been a great pleasure to work with the ACO the past several years and I look forward to a continued long and successful relationship between the ACO and the American Le Mans Series.” Twenty-one teams that regularly compete in American Le Mans Series events will be among the 50 cars that race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The overall winner of the event the past four years has also been a team that raced in ALMS events. The next race for the American Le Mans Series will be the Atlanta Grand Prix at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., June 27-29.

5/13/03
Industry News

Herb Fishel to retire  Herb Fishel, executive director of GM Racing, will retire Sept. 1, leaving a legacy in racing spanning 40 years. Fishel will be on special assignment to GM Service and Parts Operations from June 1, until his retirement. One of Fishel's final duties with GM Racing will be to drive the Chevrolet SSR official pace vehicle to start the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25. Doug Duchardt, Group Manager for GM Racing's oval track group, will assume Fishel's responsibilities at GM Racing effective June 1. Pat Suhy, Jr., an engineer at GM Powertrain, will replace Duchardt. Fishel, 61, worked with the late Zora Arkus-Duntov and Vince Piggins, who initiated GM's rebirth into racing and performance parts with the Corvette and small-block Chevy V8 engine in the 1950s. Fishel has influenced GM's performance programs throughout the second half of the 20th century. On Oct. 8, 1991, all of GM's racing programs were combined under his supervision. "The name Herb Fishel has been synonymous with championship racing programs at GM for decades," said John Middlebrook, GM vice president of marketing and advertising. "Herb is leaving a legacy of success that is both remarkable and inspiring: nine consecutive Winston Cup Manufacturers' titles at one point, and 21 of 24 driver's titles through last year. In 2001, Herb's team did something no one else had done in nearly 30 years, by winning the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans."

5/13/03

Pikes Peak to announce Honda as race sponsor  UPDATE Honda will sponsor the IRL IndyCar Series race at Pikes Peak International Raceway through 2005, PPIR and Honda officials announced May 13.   The event will be known as the Honda Indy 225. This year’s race takes place on Sunday, June 15. “This is an incredible day for PPIR and motorsports in the Rocky Mountain region,” PPIR President Rob Johnson said. “Honda made a major commitment to the IndyCar Series this year by supplying engines to five different teams, including Andretti Green Racing and Team Rahal. “Honda has shown this same commitment to PPIR by signing a three-year deal that not only titles the event the Honda Indy 225 but provides us with endless marketing and promotional opportunities that we will be announcing in the very near future.” Honda’s first IndyCar Series victory came at Phoenix this year when Andretti Green driver Tony Kanaan took the checkered flag. Prior to entering the IndyCar Series, Honda took part in CART from 1994-2002. “With our participation in the 2003 IndyCar Series, Honda has embarked on an exciting new chapter in its racing history,” said Susie Rossick, manager, corporate advertising, American Honda. “We have already enjoyed significant success on the racetrack, and we are pleased to take our commitment to the IndyCar Series to an entirely new level with our sponsorship of the Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.”   5/13/03 - A change of sponsorship in the Indy Racing League series race at Pikes Peak International Raceway is expected to be announced at 12:30 p.m. today at the track. The event, formerly known as the Radisson 225, will be held June 14-15. It will be the second race following the Indianapolis 500 for the IRL drivers. The sponsor, which is being kept under tight wraps by PPIR president Rob Johnson until today's news conference, is said to be the largest package for PPIR since it opened. The announcement will be presented during a break in testing (from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.) by Indy 500 qualifier Dan Wheldon, along with Brian Herta. Both drive for Michael Andretti of Team Andretti/Green.   Rocky Mountain News

5/13/03

CART has many key meetings in Europe   Chris Pook, David Clare and John Lopes fanned out across Europe last week to sell the Champ Car message to European-based manufacturers and sponsors. “We’ve all been working real hard,” Pook said. “I left Monday night from Brands and went to Paris. I had meetings in Paris on Tuesday morning into early afternoon. In the afternoon I went to Monte Carlo. I had a dinner meeting in Monte Carlo and I had a breakfast meeting in Monte Carlo. I then flew to Milan and had a meeting in Milan, then went to Switzerland for the afternoon and the evening and had meetings there. “The following morning, Thursday morning, I went to Stuttgart, Germany and had meetings there. I went on to Hanover and had meetings there Friday morning and got here Friday afternoon.” “Separately, David (Clare) had meetings all through the week and he and I joined up in Stuttgart on Thursday afternoon. So we haven’t been letting too much grass grow under our shoes. “We met with a combination of manufacturers, promoters, major multinational corporate entities who are looking at our North American market content; who like the idea of sports marketing companies such as ourselves being able to deliver the North American trade block. “I continue to believe it is important to have a European economic community presence--a small presence with a maximum of three races in Europe. I’ve said all along that our European strategy is very simple. We’ve got to race in the UK and we’ve got to be in northern Europe and in southern Europe. And we continue to believe it’s important that we have at least one other Pacific Rim race in addition to Australia.” Pook says that after his European meetings he’s more convinced than ever that normally-aspirated, gasoline-burning V10 engines focused on fuel efficiency are the way to go for 2005. “I truly believe that if we are going to be the strong series that we can be, we’ve got to come into line now with more of what the world’s automobile manufacturers are doing with their automobiles, and we continue to believe the V10 is the way to go.  CART.com

5/13/03
Industry News

The money losing sports TV business  This Sports Business News article says, After agreeing to pay $28.9 billion over eight years to air those events, U.S. broadcasters say an advertising slump has made televising sports a money-losing venture, and they don't mind ceding the games to cable TV rather than paying more to keep them.  The article talks about how much money everyone is losing because of the slump in advertising dollars.

5/13/03

NASCAR deal with Toyota ruffling feathers  This Washington Post article says, The announcement in February that Toyota would become the first foreign automaker to compete in NASCAR's top ranks was trumpeted as stunning evidence of stock-car racing's far-reaching appeal and another example of the 21st century's global economy. With it, a pillar of the NASCAR rulebook -- that races are open to "American-made" vehicles only -- was finessed to permit the Japanese manufacturer in the Craftsman Truck Series, in which Detroit's Big Three do battle in the form of hopped-up Ford F-150s, Chevrolet Silverados and Dodge Rams. But now come rumblings of a backlash against Toyota even though its Tundra pickup is made entirely in the United States -- the essential caveat that cleared its entry into NASCAR. "You've got Yao Ming in the NBA, and Hideo Nomo in baseball, which is fine. But leave ONE American pastime an American sport!" says Charles Walker, a columnist for the racing Web site Catchfence.com. "When you start including Toyota -- and now there are rumors of Nissan -- where do you stop?" It's not only the notion of a Japanese nameplate in truck racing that has hard-core fans upset. More alarming in their eyes is the prospect, now considered inevitable, of Toyota entering its Camry sedan in NASCAR's Winston Cup series, the most hallowed division of stock-car racing..........Open-wheel fans booed when a Honda-powered racecar made its debut in the Indianapolis 500 in 1994, but resentment turned to admiration as Honda roared to three consecutive championships (with Jimmy Vasser in 1996; Alex Zanardi, 1997-98). Toyota also won in the CART series before jumping to the rival Indy Racing League, where it became the motor of choice among top teams and is favored to win the upcoming Indy 500 in its maiden IRL campaign. But fans of open-wheel racing are more likely than NASCAR followers to drive high-performance imports themselves and are accustomed to cheering for Mercedes and Honda, as well as drivers named Mario and Jacques. NASCAR fans are a different breed. With deep roots in the Southeast, their loyalty resides in the American flag and Detroit ingenuity. They view each race as a morality play pitting Ford against Chevy, Junior against Jeff. And they pass down their heroes from one generation to the next like a sacred family covenant.........NASCAR executives are aware of the potential for a backlash when Toyota enters the truck series, but downplay their concerns. "That will work its way out," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications. "It gives the fan another opportunity to either pull against or pull for another brand." Toyota officials are sensitive to it as well. That's partly why they're tiptoeing into the sport, following the strategy Dodge employed when it returned to NASCAR after a 25-year hiatus.  More....

5/13/03

Bernie wants to repurchase F1 rights  According to the London Times, Bernie Ecclestone is looking at ways to buy back the rights to the Formula One Series. Ecclestone, who currently owns 25-percent of the commercial rights, is said to be readying an offer of about $1.57 billion (one billion pounds). A consortium of banks own 75-percent of the rights after the former owner, Kirch Media Group, suffered severe financial problems in 2002. "I believe the family trust would buy back F1 from the banks if all the F1 teams extended until 2015," said Ecclestone to the Times in an interview. The car manufacturers (Ford, FIAT, BMW, DaimlerChrysler and Renault), however, have already made plans to begin a new series GPWC (Grand Prix World Championship) when the current agreement ends after the 2007 season.

5/13/03

Owner of Nurburgring interested in EuroSpeedway  UPDATE According to AutoSport, Walter Kafitz, the MD of German circuit owner Nürburgring GmbH, has denied an assertion by Hans-Jörg Fischer, the MD of the troubled EuroSpeedway oval at Lausitz, to the effect that a takeover bid was imminent. “The Nurburgring is one of the parties interested in a takeover, but they haven't yet sent in a direct offer,” Fischer had said. “Should this offer come, it will be compared with the other options.”  5/11/03 - AutoRacing1.com has learned that the owner of the Nurburgring track has expressed interest in buying the EuroSpeedway, which is currently in bankruptcy.  We hear that the bankruptcy administrator is also looking for other interested parties, preferably American, because he feels an American owner has more interest in growing oval track racing.  However, EuroSpeedway also has the best infield road course. Sale of the track is expected late this summer.  Mark C.

5/13/03

Indy 500 tickets not so hot  This Milwaukee Journal article says, With less than two weeks to go before the 87th Indianapolis 500, reserved seats remain, and track officials won't speculate on the likelihood of a sellout. The race will be held May 23. "Anybody in this kind of business, the entertainment business, wants to have all its seats sold out," said Ron Green, spokesman for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Will the Indy 500 be a failure if we don't have a sellout? No. The economic impact on Indianapolis and surrounding area will still be significant." The event traditionally attracts more than 300,000 spectators, and in its heyday would sell out quickly after the previous race was completed. Less than 10 years ago, scalpers could demand three times face value for tickets. "We're finding that in this climate right now, like many other major events, it is a challenge to sell tickets," Green said. Three factors are most commonly blamed for the slow sales: the split of premier American open-wheel racing into two series in 1996, which confused and frustrated fans; competition for the entertainment dollar; and the lack of urgency created by an expanded speedway schedule. From 1911-1993, the Indianapolis 500 was the only race held each year at the 2.5-mile track. A highly successful NASCAR Winston Cup race was added in 1994, and in 1998, the International Race of Champions joined the NASCAR weekend. Then an infield road course was added to accommodate Formula One and the first United States Grand Prix on the grounds in 2000. The inaugural race attracted a crowd of about 200,000 spectators from around the world, but attendance has dropped steadily since. "I don't want to say we hurt ourselves," Green said. "Without a doubt, the Indianapolis 500 competes against the Brickyard and U.S. Grand Prix. And all of them are successful events."

5/13/03

A short Indy 500 field very possible  This Indy Star article says, If the 87th Indianapolis 500 gets its traditional 33 starters, the push will come from the teams, officials for the engine manufacturers said Monday. But Chevrolet program manager Joe Negri doubts there are 33 car and driver combinations. Two of his contracted cars have backed off and only one other entry -- for Panther Racing -- has been suggested. Honda is not encouraging its teams to add cars, although it will allow one more if the Super Aguri Fernandez Racing team chooses. Toyota is willing to add only three more cars, and that's contingent on commitments being made before practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway resumes Wednesday. Twenty-four cars qualified in Sunday's pole-day session. Nine more cars are needed to keep the race from ending a full-field streak that dates to 1947. There were only four confirmed programs -- for Arie Luyendyk (Toyota), Shigeaki Hattori (Toyota), Jimmy Vasser (Honda) and Billy Boat (Chevy) -- yet to qualify as of Monday. "I've gone through the numbers and it will surprise me if we get to 33, especially if what (Speedway president and CEO) Tony George said in the press is true," Negri said. "I sure don't see any bumping."

5/13/03

Indy 500 fan unhappy with Indy rainout  UPDATE I drove from Detroit to Indy Saturday morning. Like Loren I was disappointed. But, instead of finding any new excuse to blame TG, I understand that the National Weather service had issued warnings of severe weather and the IRL did what was in the best interest of the fans. I don't think there was anybody there who could have predicted that the weather would have broke like it did a couple of hours later. Dan Maldonado, Detroit, MI  5/13/03 - In response to some of your reader articles, I think Tony George is once again responsible for the demise of open wheel racing.  As someone who goes to the Indy 500, Indy Pole Day, Cleveland Grand Prix, and Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, I go and pay my money to see these races. But once again IMS and TG have screwed the little guy. Pole Day Saturday is about open wheel racing. There is nothing like it. I arrived at the track after a 3 hour drive from Columbus, Ohio for the morning practice just in time for it to start raining. About 45 minutes later, qualifying was called for the day. About 30 minutes later, it stopped raining. I had to sit in the sunny weather, waiting to go home and thinking about my wasted trip. It did not rain all the rest of the day, and there was plenty of dry time to qualify. I have never seen anything like this in my years of going to the track. They always at least TRY to get in the daily schedule. But in canceling the event when they did, they created an uproar. People who came a long way like myself cannot come back for a second day. People who had taken shelter were forced out in the weather. People who were drinking were forced to drive. Once again, TG has dealt a blow to the May Indianapolis economy. He should not wonder why people don't show up or why NASCAR is more popular. He should look in the mirror. Loren McCauley, Columbus, Ohio

5/13/03

Will Champ Cars break Brands Hatch lap record?  2nd UPDATE As it turns out, Lee Dykstra was close in his prediction, as Tracy won the pole at 37.006 sec.  Tracy also blew away Mathew Mortlock's lap record set in a F1 car, this with Champ Cars down some 200 HP from what they once were.  4/24/03 - AR1 has learned that CART's Lee Dykstra predicted lap times of 36.99 seconds at Brands using simulation software. That information was passed on to all the cart teams. If so, we think the record will indeed fall, especially if it does not rain, and the cars can put some rubber down on the circuit.   4/24/03 Brands Hatch Indy Circuit record holder Mathew Mortlock, from Cambridge, England, looks forward to Round 4 of the Champ Car World Series which takes place at Brands Hatch on 5th May. Mortlock set the record time of 39.4 seconds in 2002 driving an ex-Michele Alboreto Arrows Judd in the EuroBOSS Championship.
Q: Do you think your Brands Hatch lap record will be beaten by the Champ cars?
A: No, I think they’ll find it just too quick. The circuit is tight and twisty and probably suits F1 cars better than [the grossly overweight] Champ Cars. Of course if they do beat my time I’ll just have to drive faster when EuroBOSS comes to Brands Hatch on 18th May. My lap record is 39.4s (an average of 112.03mph), although a few weeks ago I did a 38.6 and could probably get it down into the mid 37’s.
Q: What tips can you give the Champ teams?
A: The first team that offers me three complimentary weekend passes I’d be delighted to walk them round the circuit and tell them everything I know: blind braking points, best overtaking positions, best defensive positions and all of the intricate peculiarities of Brands.
Q: How do you think a lap at Brands Hatch in an F1 compares with a lap in a Champ car?
A: I think the F1s are probably better in the corners and there are plenty of them at Brands Hatch. There aren’t really any long straights for Champ cars to benefit from. The only experience I have of a Champ Car is the 1999 ex-Bryan Herta, Team Rahal, Indy Car that Robbie Stirling has driven in EuroBOSS. That car excels on long straights with its sheer physical power but it is heavy and not as nimble through the corners.
Q: How would you like to drive a 165 lap race at Brands Hatch like the Champ Cars will be doing?
A: It would be physically very tough. The most I’ve ever driven there is 50 laps in a saloon car and it was quite tiring. The Indy circuit has no rest points and I would suggest that all the drivers need to be at their physical and mental peak. I’m sure they will feel very tired by the end.
Not only does Mathew hold the outright lap record he is probably the only racing driver to have parachuted into Brands, when in the late 70’s, he was one of the world’s leading free-fall parachutists.

5/13/03

Trans-Am series heads to Mosport   The relative calm of the Ontario, Canada countryside will again be interrupted by the thundering roar of V-8 racing engines as the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup visits Mosport International Raceway. The Victoria Day Trans-Am Series Weekend, Round 3 of this year’s championship, is scheduled for Sunday, May 18 at 1 p.m. Mosport has been a witness to many racing series since it opened in 1961, but none have been more crucial to the track’s success than the Trans-Am Series. The Series, America’s oldest continuously running road racing series, has competed 23 times during its 37-year history at the 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course since 1976. The Mosport race comes at an interesting juncture for the Series. Coming off two street-course races, Trans-Am Series competitors can now really stretch the legs of their V-8-engined machines. Considered one of the fastest tracks on the tour, the Trans-Am Series cars will reach top speeds of nearly 175 miles per hour here.

5/13/03
Formula 3

Piquet wins first F3 race  Brazilian Nelson Angelo Piquet, son of three time World Driving champion Nelson Piquet, has scored his first win in the British Formula 3 Championship. The 17-year-old Brazilian took victory at Knockhill. He was second in the first race of the weekend and then won the second. The victory also makes Piquet Jr. the youngest man ever to win a round of the British F3 series, the previous youngest winner being back in 1979 when New Zealander Mike Thackwell won a British F3 race at the age of 18.

5/13/03

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5/13/03

Chevy teams demoralized in Indy 500 qualifying  UPDATE A reader reminded us that AJ Foyt IV had a Toyota and a few Chevys did out qualify him. We forgot about AJ Foyt IV, who appears in way over his head.   5/12/03 - How is Chevrolet doing at Indy? The highest placed Chevy is Hornish at P18, some 5.5 MPH down on Castroneves' pole time...EVERY person who had a Toyota or Honda engine outpaced ALL the Chevy drivers...We hope Hornish has a Winston Cup ride already because this is killing his reputation...poor guy is quickly fading into obscurity...how long before the good folks at GM decide this is expensive advertising for Toyota/Honda engineering superiority...

5/13/03

Montoya loses license in France  Juan Pablo Montoya has been stripped of his license after being caught driving at 204 kilometers per hour in southern France, police said Monday. He was clocked on a radar Sunday afternoon while driving his BMW over the speed-limit on the A8 motorway between Les Arcs and Le Muy. He was then ordered to hand over his driving license pending a judicial investigation.  AR1 staff was lucky, as we had our E-Class Mercedes over the 220 KPH mark for countless miles in Europe (including southern France) last week.  Whereas in America, you are taught to drive defensively at a mere 65 MPH, in Europe, they drive offensively.  Drivers go out of their way to get out of the fast lane when you come barreling up in a pack of German rocketships piloted by male drivers on a testosterone high.  It was a pleasure to come up on a police car at over 220 KPH and have him move out of the way and wave us on by....that was in Italy though, in a no-speed limit section of the Autostrada.  Could you imagine that ever happening in the USA?

5/13/03

CART almost blew it with Dominguez penalty   A reader writes, Dear AR1, Did I miss something?  I haven't read one report on the horrendous penalty imposed by CART on some "type" of blocking by Domínguez earlier in the race. The race was truly fabulous but it was almost completely destroyed by CART itself. What in the world is Kneifel doing? Does he have any clue about "racing?" Are they trying not to encourage exciting and very fair racing. What does it say when both of the drivers involved in the action had absolutely NO complaints about the driving of the other? Only comments were fair, clean, and aggressive. It made for some great racing and battles. I almost blew a fuse when they gave him a penalty and then did nothing to Bourdais at the end. Great win by Bourdais but just because Dominguez caught up at the end doesn't replace such an atrocity of rule implication and unfairness. I was proud to see Dominguez complain openly about it at the end of the race. Derek Hughes, Florida  Dear Derek, CART blew that call and they know it. Lucky for them it did not have a major impact on the outcome of the race.  Mark C.

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