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5/24/03

Pook talks to Mack   This appeared in this morning's Orange County Register - George Mack couldn't land a ride for Sunday's Indy 500, but he's vowing to return. Mack finished 17th as an Indy rookie after becoming only the second black to make the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." He didn't have enough sponsorship money to go for two years in a row. "It's a bitter pill to swallow," Mack said. "But I'll be back. We're moving on to some other stuff. We just didn't have time to get it done this year." Mack hasn't been doing any racing since he lost his IRL ride. He couldn't bear the thought of circling a short track after competing at Indy. "Unless I can race here, I don't want to do it anymore," Mack said. "It's just not the same." He's also discussed a possible deal with the rival CART series. Growing up, Mack raced go-karts against the son of CART president Chris Pook. "(Pook) called me up and we talked," Mack said. "I haven't committed to anything. ... But they're looking for some more well-known drivers. All they've got is rookies and guys you've never heard of. [Editor's Note, we wonder if Mr. Mack includes himself in that characterization.]

5/24/03

Trying to dry Lowes Motor Speedway   In an effort to dry out many of the rain soaked parking areas around the track, Lowe’s Motor Speedway has used four helicopters from Henry Aviation to hover over the saturated areas to get them dry enough to use for Sunday’s Coca Cola 600. Nearly five inches of rain have fallen over the area in the past several days, washing out several events and turning the adjoining parking and camping areas into mud. Despite the four helicopters flying at 10am and working until dark, speedway officials still believe 10 to 15 percent of the lots would still not be usable for Sunday’s race.

5/24/03

Rubbermaid extends Roush deal   Rubbermaid has announced they have agreed to a multi-year contract extension with Roush Racing and driver Kurt Busch. Rubbermaid, which has sponsored Busch in the Winston Cup Series for the last two seasons, has signed on for three more years, according to Busch. With Roush driver Matt Kenseth recently renewing with DeWalt, Rouch has shored up deals for two of his four Winston Cups teams. Roush is still looking to secure sponsorship for Mark Martin and Jeff Burton. Rubbermaid also announced an alliance with the Victory Junction Camp through their Blue Ice brand. The company will donate $5,000 to the building fund and give a Blue Ice kit to each kid at the camp founded by Winston Cup driver Kyle Petty and his wife Pattie in memory of their son Adam.

5/24/03
Formula Ford

We told you to keep your eye on this young American  Jonathan Bomarito's breakthrough performance at Lime Rock should place the focus squarely on him ... He is a dedicated, hard working racer and a great young man, attending college in his hometown of Monterey, California when he's not racing ...Under overcast skies, 26 Zetec Championship cars took to the demanding 1.53-mile Lime Rock, Connecticut road course for the first race of the Memorial Day weekend doubleheader. At the start, Bomarito, starting from the pole position, maintained the lead, as the field went three-abreast into turn one. As the lap progressed, several cars battled for position, with cars going side-by-side in many of the corners. Showing the speed he displayed in qualifying, when he set a new lap record, Bomarito steadily began to build a lead on second place. As Bomarito, driving the No. 23 Valley Financial PR1 Motorsports Van Diemen Ford, built his lead, second through fourth place ran nose-to-tail. With four laps remaining in the race, the field was given the green flag. For the third time, Bomarito got an excellent jump, using a back maker to extend his lead. For the remainder of the race Bomarito was unchallenged, capturing his first career win by 0.898 second. "It’s was a tough race," said Bomarito, who led all 30 laps. "I was able to get a great jump on all the restarts and lapped traffic seemed to actually help me. Hopefully we can do the same thing Monday in race two." "I fought all race long," said Barber, who maintains the championship lead heading into Round Four. "We made some changes to the car from qualifying which made it better, but we still need to find a little more." "My car was very good after the yellows," said Kasemets, who is the active race win leader, with four career wins. "Starting where I did, I was only hoping for a good finish." "I think my experience here really helped," said Dona, who has raced at Lime Rock numerous times. "I'm getting faster every time I'm in the car and went over a second faster than I've ever gone here before." Lime Rock Park, with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out.
1. (1), Jonathan Bomarito(R), Monterey, Calif., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
2. (3), Westley Barber(R), Saffron Walden, England, F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
3. (7), Tonis Kasemets, Mundelein, Ill., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
4. (4), Andrew Prendeville(R), Morristown, N.J., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
5. (8), Craig Baltzer(R), Bettendorf, Iowa, F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
6. (11), Matt McDonough, West Newbury, Mass., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
7. (5), Andy Brumbaugh, Blythewood, S.C., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
8. (15), Adam Pecorari(R), Aston, Pa., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
9. (13), Chris Festa(R), Atlanta, Ga., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
10. (10), Steve Welk(R), Franklin, Wis., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
11. (9), Charlie Kimball(R), Camarillo, Calif., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
12. (6), Doug Prendeville(R), Morristown, N.J., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
13. (16), Chris Dona(R), Sandown, N.H., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 30.
14. (18), Doug Smith, Plantation, Fla., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 30.
15. (20), Alan D. Guibord(R), Bedford, N.H., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 30.
16. (24), Erick Hansen(R), Grayslake, Ill., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 29.
17. (25), Andy Chu, Beltsville, Md., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 29.
18. (19), Mark Cruz, Landing, N.J., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 29.
19. (17), Douglas Kniffin(R), Syosset, N.Y., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 29.
20. (23), John Levy(R), Newton, Mass., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 29.
21. (21), Ira Fierberg, Manhattan Beach, Calif., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 28.
22. (26), Alan R. Guibord(R), Southport, Conn., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 27.
23. (22), Bob Wright, Old Chatham, N.Y., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 19, ACC.
24. (2), Lawson Aschenbach, Gaithersburg, Md., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 17, ENGINE.
25. (14), Dustin Hodges, St Charles, Mo., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 8, SPUN.
26. (12), James Gue, Alpheretta, Ga., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 3, MECH.
Time of race: 31 minutes, 51.055 seconds.
Average speed: 86.465 mph
Margin of victory: .89799 seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-30, #23 Jonathan Bomarito(R)
Fastest race lap: #3 Westley Barber(R), 0:50.230 (109.655 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #23 Jonathan Bomarito(R), 0:49.810 (110.580 mph)

5/24/03

Miller takes pole at Lime Rock   Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup Driver Johnny Miller has long claimed Lime Rock Park owed him something. He cashed it all in Saturday as the driver of the No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR earned his first pole of 2003 and gave Jaguar its first pole at the 1.53-mile, eight-turn permanent road course. For his efforts, Miller received two bonus championship points, and the Jaguar Pole Award, a performance-based initiative that rewards drivers who win the pole at each Trans-Am Series events this season. “The car was really good. It was good yesterday,” said Miller, who backed up his fast efforts in the first two practice sessions Friday with a pole speed of 51.315 seconds at 107.337 miles per hour. “We made a few changes to figure out where it was going to go with old tires. We were really working on the car, and ended up with a good qualifying car out a great race car. “The track has changed quite a bit since yesterday,” added Miller, who’s last pole came at Road America in 2000. “We had a push and (teammate Scott Pruett) said he had a push, but we were able to pull off two or three good laps without hurting the tires.” Pruett, driver of the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR, qualified second. “We just carried too much push,” said Pruett, who leads the points going into Monday’s Trans-Am 100. “We missed the setup a little bit, which probably came from me not racing here for the last 14 years. I took a gamble on the setup, and we were just a little bit off. We have a good rain setup on the car for Monday, and if it’s dry, we still have a little work to do.” Hayner (No. 2 Trenton Forging/GMAC Commercial Finance Chevrolet Corvette), who won the pole here last season, was third fastest. “The car was great,” said Hayner. “We learned a lot last year. We came out of the box with a great setup and actually improved on it a little bit. We have a new engine program this year, and with all of the changes we still went four-tenths quicker this year than last year’s pole speed. We’re really happy about that.” Both Pruett and Hayner received one bonus point for qualifying in the top three.  The provisional qualifying positions for Monday's 66-lap, 100.98 mile Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup Round 4, at Lime Rock Park, with starting position, driver, car and fast lap with speed
1. Johnny Miller, Jaguar XKR, 0:51.315, 107.337.
2. Scott Pruett, Jaguar XKR, 0:51.813, 106.305.
3. Stu Hayner, Chevrolet Corvette, 0:51.958, 106.009.
4. Brian Simo, Jaguar XKR, 0:52.211, 105.495.
5. Jorge Diaz, Jr. (R), Jaguar XKR, 0:52.231, 105.455.
6. Bobby Sak (R), Chevrolet Corvette, 0:52.328, 105.259.
7. Tomy Drissi, Jaguar XKR, 0:52.345, 105.225.
8. Michael Lewis, Jaguar XKR, 0:52.452, 105.010.
9. Randy Ruhlman, Chevrolet Corvette, 0:52.494, 104.926.
10. Paul Newman, Chevrolet Corvette, 0:52.843, 104.233.
11. Joey Scarallo (R), Chevrolet Corvette, 0:53.175, 103.583.
12. John Baucom, Jaguar XKR., 0:53.220, 103.495.
13. Tim Cowen, Ford Mustang, 0:54.042, 101.921.
14. Michael Brockman, Chevrolet Camaro, 0:54.132, 101.751.
15. Simon Gregg, Chevrolet Corvette, 0:54.353, 101.338.
16. Garrett Kletjian (R), Chevrolet Corvette, 0:55.704, 98.880.
17. Peter Rogal(R), Jaguar XKR, 0:57.140, 96.395.

5/24/03

Is CART using tire warmers at Milwaukee?   A reader writes, Dear AR1, CART has to be using tire warmers at Milwaukee right? With the race beginning right around sundown, temperatures are probably going to dip to the low 50s during the race -- with obviously no sun to heat the track up with the lower temps.  Peter Parker,  Detroit, MI  Dear John, No they are not.  We call it penny wise and pound foolish.  CART thinks it's saving money by not allowing its teams to use tire warmers, but now that they are racing at night when it's cool, we can see at least one $300,000 car wiped out against those hard concrete walls because of cold tires.  $300,000 would pay for warmers for the entire grid for years. Besides money, however, CART also thinks driving fast on cold tires out of the pits separate the men from the boys.  The Juan Montoyas of the world were always fast on their out lap, gaining seconds on their competition.  The mere average drivers tiptoe around while their tires come up to temp. The great drivers are sideways and on it right out of the pits.  Mark C.

5/24/03

Is CART going down the wrong engine path?  UPDATE  A reader responds, Dear AR1, While there may be some other valid reasons for CART to stick with turbos, I have to take exception to your portrayal of the production engine scene trending toward turbos. Of the 217 different light vehicle engines offered in North America for the 2003 model year, only 22 are turbo gasoline engines (3 Saabs, 6 Volvos, 1 Dodge, 1 Mercedes V12, 1 Maybach V12, 1 Subaru, 1 Mitsubishi, 3 Porsches, and 5 VW/Audis). There are five turbo diesel light truck engines (2 GMs, 2 Ford-Navistars, 1 Dodge-Cummins) and 1 turbo diesel passenger car engine (VW).  Looking at North American volume: The Saab turbos represent about 0.6% of parent GM's volume. The Volvo turbos represent about 1.9% of parent Ford's volume. The Dodge (Neon SRT-4, PT Cruiser GT) turbo, Mercedes V12 and Maybach V12 turbos represent about 0.9% of Daimler-Chrysler's volume. Subaru is 11.9% turbos. The Lancer Evo doesn't register on Mitsi's volume. About 13.7% of Porsche's volume is turbo currently; but this will be dominated by the unknown proportion of turbo vs non-turbo Cayenne SUV sales as they ramp up. VW/Audi gasoline turbos represent 37.2% of their volume (their turbo diesel, the one offered in a passenger car in North America at present represents another 9%). While it may sound a little impressive that 10% (22/217) of the engines offered are gasoline turbo, volume tells the story... of all the light vehicle engines sold in North America in 2003, only about 2% will be gasoline turbo.  Note that BMW, HONDA, TOYOTA, NISSAN, MAZDA, all the GM brands (other than Saab), the FORD brands (other than Volvo), Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, and Suzuki offer exactly ZERO passenger car turbos in North America.  While some try to point out that turbos far outnumber V10s, that is not the distinction that matters. The debate should not include the number of cylinders, just the distinction between turbo vs. normally aspirated. The unique development paths you follow and most of the problems you conquer with a turbo racing engine program generally apply to 2% of production engines... the development paths you follow and most of the problems you conquer with a normally aspirated racing engine program generally apply to 98% of production engines, regardless of the number of cylinders they may have. If you argue that the number of cylinders and their configuration is important from a marketing standpoint, I would point out that only Saab, Volvo, Dodge, and VW/Audi produce inline 4 cylinder gasoline turbos in any appreciable volume. Compare that to the list above of companies that don't make ANY gasoline turbos.  Side note: In case anyone wonders, of the 217 engines, 10 are supercharged (1 GM V6, 2 Jaguar V8s, 2 Ford V8s, 3 Mercedes (I4, V6, V8), 1 BMW (Mini Cooper S), and 1 Nissan V6). About 0.4% of total North American sales volume.  Larry Adcock, Westfield, IN  Dear Larry, Thanks for writing, you make some valid points.  However, the point is that "future" engines are moving toward turbo for all the obvious reasons, NOT toward normally aspirated V10. Now that turbos are reliable and computers control how they function, it's a no-brainer and the companies are beginning to realize that - more power for the same fuel mileage and same displacement. Nothing you do to an engine can match the performance benefits gained from pressurizing the intake and combustion chambers. You can even turn the engines at a lower RPM and save wear. And as you point out, of the 217 engines, 32 (22 turbo, 10 supercharged) pressurize the intake and combustion chambers with great results - more HP without the need to increase displacement or RPM.  So while today turbos (and Superchargers) are a small percentage of the overall market, and while American companies are way behind the 8-ball (like always) and have yet to adopt them in large numbers, they ARE the future. Mark C.  5/23/03 - Chris Pook says "We've got to come into line with the way the world's automobile manufacturers are thinking if we're going to be sensible and successful," Pook remarked. "And, since the world's automobile manufacturers are not using methanol and the turbo seems to be confined to diesels, with the exception of Porsche and Saab, we think it's essential to go normally aspirated and that the V-10 is the way to go. We also firmly believe that we must focus the automobile manufacturers on the marketing and selling portion. We want to have an efficient engine that has a relationship to what the public can buy, particularly with the price of gasoline going the way it is. We need to challenge these manufacturers to deal with the mileage issue, and we want them to spend their money on the marketing and selling of their cars, and to use our series as a platform for that."  AR1 says, think again Chris.  Turbo's are popping up left and right on passenger cars.  Just heard the Nissan 350Z will get a twin-turbo model in 2005.  Here is a list we got a year ago on turbo street cars (there are a lot more turbo trucks on the road), some sold in Europe, some in the USA.  There's a lot more now (for example the 2003  Mitsubishi EVO III has twin turbos and blows everything away in its class).  Alpha Romeo 156, 166, GTV, Audi, A3, A4, A6, A8, BMW, Série 3, Série 5, Série 7, Citroën, Xantia, Xsara, Berlingo, Picasso, Evasion, Xm, DaimlerChrysler, Class C, Class E, Class S, Class V, Smart, Sprinter, Vito, Fiat, Bravo, Brava, Coupé, Marea, Multipla, Purito, Ulysse, Ford, Escort, Focus, Fiesta, Galaxy, Mondeo, Iveco, Areno Bicento 20, Areno Master, Daily, Lancia, Zeta, Lotus, Esprit V8 Biturbo, Nissan, Light Truck, Patrol, Primera, Terrano, Opel, Astra, Frontera, Omega, Sintra, Vectra, Peugeot, 306, 406, 605, 806, Partner (End 99), Renault, Espace, Laguna, Mégane, Safrane, Scénic, Master, Rolls Royce, Bentley Arnage Biturbo, Rover, Discovery, Defender, Freelander, Série 200/400, Saab, V6, 9-5, 9-3.3, Seat, Arosas , Alhambra, Cordoba, Ibiza, Toledo, Skoda, Octavia, Felicia, Volkswagen, Bora, Lupo, Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat, Sharan, T4 Bus, LT transporter, Volvo, S40, V40.  Bottom line - turbos are the future for the majority of passenger cars.  V10's will only be found on exotic cars like the new Porsche Carrera GT, which will cost well over $100,000.  Fact - turbos are now reliable and deliver more HP for a given engine displacement, gasoline or diesel. Prediction - as manufacturers race to make their cars more fuel efficient and faster, turbos will become the norm and will be around long after normally aspirated V10's become boat anchors - too big, too heavy, and too fuel inefficient.  Mark C.

5/24/03

Foyt, Andretti feud over grandson   This Duluth News Tribune newspaper article says, After all these years, A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti still have it. The two greatest legends walking around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week can still find their way under the other's skin. "He better not walk by me," Foyt, a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, said of Andretti, the 1969 winner, "or we will have a few words." "I don't think I can win with A.J.," Andretti said. "Any possible way." This week, Foyt's anger flashes at anybody who questions the race-readiness of his grandson, A.J. Foyt IV, who will celebrate his 19th birthday from Row 8 of Sunday's race. He is the youngest known qualifier in Indy 500 history. His "Paw-Paw," the team owner, picked up a newspaper this week and saw Andretti, among other people, publicly doubting whether the young Foyt, for all his obvious talent, had the necessary experience for this race. "Andretti doesn't have no room to talk, with all the wrecks he caused," the elder Foyt remarked. A.J. Foyt IV has spun his car a few times at Indy this month, including a 180-degree spin coming out of the second turn of his first qualifying lap on May 4. As the car fishtailed in reverse, he kept it from hitting the wall. "I don't mind people saying the truth. I'd be the first one to tell you if I thought he screwed up," the elder Foyt said. In fact, he did, originally -- Foyt said he jumped all over his grandson until he determined that a crew error was to blame. Foyt said he went back and apologized. "I know my grandfather wouldn't put me in a car if he didn't think I was ready to run," said the younger Foyt, known as Anthony in his civilian life. "I passed my rookie test like every other guy out there. I made a few mistakes, but other guys made mistakes, too." The deadness in his voice as he talks about this subject speaks better than words of how sick he is of this subject. Foyt talks about how he can't wait for Sunday, how he has been aiming for that moment since he started in karts at age 11. His grandfather just can't understand how people can't let this be a feel-good story. Foyt said he's so ticked off right now because "they're trying to play a head game with Anthony." Foyt mentioned that he has a great relationship with Michael Andretti, who will start from Row 5 in his last go at Indy on Sunday, that Michael told him that was the scariest qualifying day he had ever experienced with all the wind. For his part, Mario Andretti sounded chagrined Thursday with how his own remarks came out. "For me to stand here and judge A.J., it's his own grandson," Andretti said as he stood in the garage owned by his son Michael. "If he feels he's ready, he's ready. Some of these things that happened, a couple of these scrapes that he had, I feel for him, because the worst thing for any young man with talent is to be spooked here, and I'm sure that he got spooked when those things happened." Andretti then called Foyt "a nice, nice young man with a lot of talent. I wish him the best. I really, honestly, sincerely do." Foyt's focus this week, it is fair to say, has been on racing. He talks about how he's going to be doing this "all my life." Around here, he already has to head out of his garage almost at a full trot or instantly get bogged down by autograph seekers. "They love the Foyt name," he said. "It doesn't bother me." He knew he had a ride at some point (called nepotism). "My grandpa's the owner," he pointed out. And his grandpa won't ever change. Don't get A.J. Foyt started on three-time Indy winner Bobby Unser, who weighed in with a tough critique of his own this week. "He's a complete idiot," Foyt said.

5/24/03

Marco Andretti winning regularly   The second race weekend of the Skip Barber Eastern Region Championship got underway last weekend at Lime Rock Park, with five race groups competing on the historic 1.53-mile track. The race weekend weather forecast called for rain, and the Skip Barber crew changed the field to treaded Michelins in case the rain were to materialize. Fortunately, the rain held off for the two days of racing, and the treaded Michelins were none the less very fast at Lime Rock. The first race of the weekend for race group three pitted youth versus experience, as Marco Andretti (pictured above right relaxing between races with at Lime Rock with uncle Jeff Andretti) and Peter Ludwig fought for the lead. Andretti led early, but was passed by Ludwig on the twelfth lap, only to repass him on the very next trip by the stripe. Andretti held on to the lead to the finish, with Ludwig staying in contact with the young racer for the entire race to take second place, just 3 seconds behind Andretti. It was Andretti's 4th win of the year.  Greg Den Herder took third place, with Tim Hoagland winning the Masters Category and William Murphy scoring Rookie of the Race honors. Race group three rejoined on Saturday, with Marco Andretti again leading the pack to the green flag on the second attempt after the field was too spread out on the first attempt. A spin in the daunting downhill cost Ludwig his opportunity to take the fight to Andretti, but the battle behind kept things interesting as Tim Hoagland and Todor Mitev battled for position while Ludwig worked his way back through the field, taking spots from both drivers as he powered back into second place. Bill Hammer scored most progressive honors, with Andretti carding the fastest lap of the race and the win, his 5th of the year.  Prior to the Lime Rock weekend, Marco Andretti kicked off the first race weekend of the season for the Skip Barber Eastern and Midwest Regionals at Virginia International Raceway. Four race groups battled it out over the 3.12-mile long course layout in Danville, Virginia. Marco Andretti competed in Race group 4 and added to his career wins tally to put him in the lead in points standings. Race group 4 got their weekend underway with rain again plaguing the track as Andretti, who took his first wins in Skip Barber Racing competition at Daytona just two weeks back, led the field to the green with Chase Patzer in tow and John Peterson in third. Fred Rasch started in third, but was fourth at the end of the first lap before Eric Ives passed him for the position. Rasch battled back to take the spot for the next three laps as Andretti continued to build the gap between himself and the rest of the field on each lap. Ives, Peterson, and Rasch continued to dispute positions three, four, and five for the entire second half of the race, each taking a lap in each position before swapping once again. The outcome wasn’t settled until the final lap, as Andretti motored to his third race win in as many tries.


Andretti testing and winning at Daytona

5/24/03
Formula 3

Piquet Jr. wins double pole   Nelson Piquet Jr has claimed pole positions for both rounds of the British Formula 3 championship at Silverstone this weekend.
British F3 Silverstone race 1 qualifying
1 Nelson Piquet Jr Piquet Sports 1m44.502s
2 Robert Dahlgren Fortec 1m44.668s
3 Danny Watts Hitech 1m44.674s
4 Richard Antinucci Carlin 1m44.734s
5 Adam Carroll Menu 1m44.759s
6 Alan ven der Merwe Carlin 1m44.898s
Race 2 qualifying
1 Nelson Piquet Jr Piquet Sports 1m44.039s
2 Alan van der Merwe Carlin 1m44.180s
3 Richard Antinucci Carlin 1m44.510s
4 Rob Austin Menu 1m44.510s
5 Adam Carroll Menu 1m44.548s
6 Danny Watts Hitech 1m44.568s

5/24/03

Shell drops Denver sponsorship, another to take its place   This Rocky Mountain News article says, Shell Oil took one lap around the course with the Denver Grand Prix and dropped out of the race Friday. The Houston-based company, which served as the race event's title sponsor in its inaugural year, acknowledged Friday that it won't be back. But Grand Prix Vice President and General Manager John Frew hinted that the organization already has a new title sponsor in the wings. "Shell was proud to have sponsored the 2002 Denver Grand Prix, and we're committed to growing our business in the Denver area," said Shell spokesman Tim O'Leary. "To support this business growth, we've chosen to spend our promotional and advertising resources in ways other than the Grand Prix sponsorship." Shell had prompted speculation about its possible withdrawal when it missed its exclusive window of opportunity to exercise its option on a series of one-year contracts. The parties never revealed the value of the contract, but typically a sponsorship of that magnitude would be worth about $500,000 per year and possibly more. The three-day Grand Prix attracted about 100,000 fans last year. The loss of a title sponsor could have two negative consequences, said Dean Bonham, a sports marketing consultant in Denver who writes a column for the Rocky Mountain News. The Grand Prix could experience economic and credibility issues, he said. "In this day and age, events really prefer to have title and/or presenting sponsors, and those that don't, there's the question of why they don't," he said. He hastened to add, "That doesn't mean the sky is falling. That event was very highly thought of by most of the corporate executives I spoke with last year, and my instinct is that somebody will pick it up (as a title sponsor)." Shell did not arrive on the scene until a little more than a month before last year's Labor Day weekend event. And Frew said his organization will hold a news conference June 11 to announce "new sponsors." "I guarantee this race will have a name," he said. He declined to reveal details. Shell became involved last year just as the company acquired the rights to re-brand 130 Texaco stations in the Denver area, creating a need to generate greater awareness of the Shell logo. While last year's economic climate hindered the search for a title sponsor, this year's situation is probably just as bad, Bonham said. The difference is, a prospective title sponsor will be able to make its decision based on what it saw in the inaugural event. "Frankly, I think they're in a pretty good position," Bonham said. "The event . . . came off very well, and they delivered a very high level of value for Shell. My guess is, Shell executives would probably act as a reference for the Grand Prix." He added, "I suggest their reason (for withdrawal) has less to do with value they got from the event and more to do with internal issues at the company." Frew said Shell informed him that the company "wants to catch its breath after its absorption of Texaco."

5/24/03

Increased security will delay Gordon   Recent increased national security has thrown into limbo Robby Gordon's plans for transportation between Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Lowe's Motor Speedway Sunday for the Double. At the moment, the FAA has banned any helicopter flights into and out of either speedway for one hour before and after the race. As a result, plans are being made for Gordon to golf cart out of Indianapolis Motor Speedway via a police escort to his rental car parked nearby, from where he will continue to the Indianapolis airport with the police escort. He will fly from Indianapolis to the Concord airport, where he will jump into a van led by a police escort into Lowe's Motor Speedway. Final plans will not be determined until Sunday morning. Gordon will practice the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevy Saturday at Lowe's Motor Speedway and then host a Double Duty fans' barbecue dinner at Team Gordon before departing Concord for Indianapolis at 6:30pm/et Saturday.  RCR PR

5/24/03

Brooke says racing safe   In a court filing in her divorce suit, Brooke Gordon says her husband, Jeff, is not entitled to more than 50 percent of their marital assets because his job is a safe one. "Husband's contention that his voluntary occupation as a NASCAR race driver should entitle him to more than 50 percent of the net assets ... is not only legally but also factually unwarranted," said the filing posted Friday on the Web site thesmokinggun.com. "Moreover, NASCAR is safer ... than the husband contends." The filing cites U.S. Department of Labor statistics and other sources listing occupations in such industries as construction and commercial fishing as being more dangerous and saying that workers in those occupations have not been awarded larger portions of marital estates in Florida. ThatsRacin.com

5/24/03

Stewart against banking at Homestead   Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart, who has won two of the four Cup races at Homestead Miami Speedway, says the upcoming project to add banking to the flat track is unnecessary. "We ran two and three wide at times down there last year," Stewart said. "I don't understand track owners. They always have to copy somebody else's place, and they think they have to reinvent the wheel."  Atlanta Journal-Constitution

5/24/03

Another outbreak of SARS in Toronto   Just when it looked as though SARS was under control in Toronto,  there's been another major outbreak with Toronto health officials reporting that there have recently been 20 new cases of SARS discovered there.  However, there are no travel warnings to Toronto, just precautions that travelers be smart about avoiding people who appear to have symptoms and watch who you shake hands with. Mark C.

5/24/03

Will the stench of corruption continue?   A reader writes, Dear AR1, With last year's ludicrous 500 and the aftermath "awarding Team Penske" it's quid pro quo" for joining the IRL and taking the Japanese manufacturers away from CART,  and last week's Freedom 100 farce with Ed Carpenter, many fans are wondering if favoritism and nepotism will be replaced by honor and integrity. While controversy has never been a stranger to Indy (remember 1963 and 1981?) it is hoped that some semblance of integrity will be restored lest the remaining fans "hold their noses" and finally desert this once great motorsports institution.  Mordichai Rosen, LA, California  Dear Mordichai,  While it appears blatant to many outsiders, there is no way to prove if there is favoritism and nepotism in the IRL. Like the so-called NASCAR "The Call" no one has ever been able to prove it.  It just happens that way.  For example, if Michael Andretti wins on Sunday, everyone will say he got The Call from the IRL and was given a "special" rev limiter as a reward for leaving CART, badmouthing CART on his way out, and going to the IRL. They will also think the Green team got The Call for having the race taken away from them in last year's controversial finish. And last, they will think Honda too was part of The Call for having been cheated out of a win at Indy when Scott Goodyear passed the pace car at Indy in the early 90's. Based on that, Andretti has three "Calls" coming his way and should win the Indy 500, his last race, which will bring the IRL much needed big headlines.  We shall see.  Mark C.

5/24/03

George's IRL plan went awry   This AP article says, Tony George founded the Indy Racing League with the idea of providing a low-cost oval series that would showcase American drivers. That mission seems to have veered off course heading into Sunday's Indianapolis 500, which will have a bunch of big-money teams and foreign drivers contending for a trip to Victory Lane. "The look of the IRL is definitely a lot different than it was two or three years ago,' said Ron Hemelgarn, one of the few remaining owners who's been there since the beginning. "There's a lot of new faces.' In many ways, the IRL has morphed into CART, the series so loathed by George that he decided to start his own circuit in 1996. Sure, George's upstart league has brought CART to its knees during a bitter, seven-year struggle for control of open-wheel racing. But at what cost? Most of CART's top car owners, including Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi, defected to the IRL in the past two years. They brought along talented foreign drivers such as two-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves, a Brazilian. Meanwhile, IRL teams that used to get by on a shoestring budget have been put out of business. Foreign drivers hold down half of the regular jobs on the circuit. The homegrown-to-foreign ratio is better in the Indy 500, which managed to fill its 33-car lineup with mostly American drivers on one- race deals. Former IRL regulars such as Alex Barron and Billy Boat are among those who hope to use those 500 miles to improve their job prospects. "It's extremely tough,' Barron said. "I've just got to do the best I can. If a good result happens, maybe something will come up.'  [Editor's Note:  Talk to Jim Guthrie, the IRL's first poster boy and find out how he feels about the IRL today. He and a lot of other drivers and team owners must feel used and betrayed by Tony George and the IRL. They were good enough when the IRL needed them, but now they are cast aside like yesterday's newspapers.]

5/24/03

Cheever - "I'm in trouble"   Eddie Cheever said he suspects Chevy is "angry and embarrassed" by Toyota and Honda taking the first 17 positions on the grid. "I'm hoping they are," he said. "I hope they find that American grit and fight back with a vengeance. If they don't, I'm in trouble."  Psst, Eddie - it's only going to get worse as time goes on.  As Toyota and Honda battle each other, Chevy will fall further and further behind.

5/24/03

Teams can use tire warmers at Indy  Although temperatures are expected to be in the mid-50s at race time, fans won't see a repeat of the 1992 race when cold tires caused a number of crashes. The IRL is allowing teams to use tire warmers for the first time.  F1 uses them and now the IRL.  CART is still procrastinating over them.

5/24/03

More debate over Foyt IV  Everyone but AJ himself thinks Foyt IV is not ready for the big leagues.  Now IRL supporter and announcer Scott Goodyear chimes in - "I said at the end of last season, before I even knew about Foyt moving up, that everyone in the Pro Series needed to return for another year," Goodyear said. "They all needed more experience with rear-engine cars with this kind of downforce."

5/24/03

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5/24/03
Formula Ford

Keep your eye on this young American  Jonathan Bomarito... this young man is one to watch ... a true "natural" ... We have been quiet about Jonathan Bomarito for a while on purpose ... However, we can assure you, knowing eyes have been on him ever since he won the first CART Stars of Tomorrow program by beating AJ Allmendinger and everyone else ... He tested the Champ Car with AJ for Team Rahal in 2000 and is beginning to show the world what he can do in race cars with wings and shocks ... The USA F2000 Zetec Championship has as one of it's competitors, Westley Barber, last years dominant winner of the British F2000 Zetec Championship ... one of Europe's highly touted lads ... The rest of the Lime Rock weekend should be interesting. As of this writing, Jonathan sits second in points, having run a close second to Barber in the opening rounds at Sebring, where Barber's team, Cape Motorsports, has many miles of testing. When the teams hit Phoenix for a Zetec West event recently, it was Jonathan Bomarito who served notice to Cape and Barber by besting him in both events ... This should make for a very interesting and competitive F2000 Zetec Championship Season!  Jonathan Bomarito, of Monterey, Calif., captured the pole for Round Three of the 2003 Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship at Lime Rock Park. Completing the top-three is Lawson Aschenbach, of Gaithersburg, Md., and Westley Barber, of Saffron Walden, England. The top ACC qualifier is Chris Dona, of Sandown, N.H. On a dry track in overcast conditions, the Zetec Championship took to the Lime Rock road course for the first time since 1994. Early in the 20-minute session, the cars worked on getting heat in the tires, with times steadily dropping. By the midway point of the session, Bomarito, driving the No. 23 Valley Financial PR1 Motorsports Van Diemen Ford, had moved to the top of the charts. Soon after Bomarito had posted the fastest time, Aschenbach, driving the No. 2 King Automotive/M&M Welding Cape Motorsports Van Diemen Ford, jumped to the top of the charts, with his teammate, Barber, driving the No. 3 Cape Motorsports Van Diemen Ford, moving into second. As the session progressed, the trio repeatedly swapped the fastest lap. Late in the session, Bomarito retook the pole position with a lap faster than the previous lap record. At the checkered flag, Bomarito had captured the pole position for Saturday’s race one of the doubleheader with a new lap record of 0:49.810 (110.580 MPH). The pole position is the second of his career in five starts. "I’m very surprised I got the pole,” said Bomarito, who is second in the Championship. “The team did a fantastic job giving me car that was comfortable to drive fast. I think the race will be real exciting.”  Qualifying times for Saturday's 32-lap, 48.960-mile Round Three race at Lime Rock Park, with qualifying position, driver, hometown, car, time and speed in miles-per-hour.
1. (23), Jonathan Bomarito(R), Monterey, Calif., F2A Van Diemen Ford,0:49.810, 110.580.
2. (2), Lawson Aschenbach, Gaithersburg, Md., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 0:50.120,109.896.
3. (3), Westley Barber(R), Saffron Walden, England, F2A Van Diemen Ford,0:50.136, 109.861.
4. (25), Andrew Prendeville(R), Morristown, N.J., F2A Van Diemen Ford,0:50.217, 109.684.
5. (86), Andy Brumbaugh, Blythewood, S.C., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 0:50.220,109.677.
6. (24), Doug Prendeville(R), Morristown, N.J., F2A Van Diemen Ford,0:50.247, 109.618.
7. (9), Tonis Kasemets, Mundelein, Ill., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 0:50.248,109.616.
8. (8), Craig Baltzer(R), Bettendorf, Iowa, F2A Van Diemen Ford, 0:50.285,109.535.
9. (91), Charlie Kimball(R), Camarillo, Calif., F2A Van Diemen Ford,0:50.295, 109.513.
10. (7), Steve Welk(R), Franklin, Wis., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 0:50.519,109.028.
11. (6), Matt McDonough, West Newbury, Mass., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 0:50.600,108.853.
12. (12), James Gue, Alpheretta, Ga., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 0:50.735,108.564.
13. (19), Chris Festa(R), Atlanta, Ga., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 0:51.037,107.921.
14. (97), Dustin Hodges, St Charles, Mo., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 0:51.184,107.611.
15. (28), Adam Pecorari(R), Aston, Pa., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 0:51.260,107.452.
16. (37), Chris Dona(R), Sandown, N.H., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 0:51.592,106.760.
17. (13), Douglas Kniffin(R), Syosset, N.Y., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 0:52.554,104.806.
18. (44), Doug Smith, Plantation, Fla., F2A Van Diemen Ford, 0:53.389,103.167.
19. (96), Mark Cruz, Landing, N.J., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 0:53.426, 103.095.
20. (95), Alan D. Guibord(R), Bedford, N.H., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 0:53.453,103.043.
21. (27), Ira Fierberg, Manhattan Beach, Calif., F2A Van Diemen Ford,0:53.505, 102.943.
22. (90), Bob Wright, Old Chatham, N.Y., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 0:53.770,102.436.
23. (18), John Levy(R), Newton, Mass., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 0:54.429,101.196.
24. (36), Erick Hansen(R), Grayslake, Ill., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 0:54.701,100.692.
25. (58), Andy Chu, Beltsville, Md., ACC Van Diemen Ford, 0:54.743, 100.615.
26. (94), Alan R. Guibord(R), Southport, Conn., ACC Van Diemen Ford,0:56.677, 97.182.

5/24/03

Interest in Indy 500 has stalled, announcers 2nd rate  This Harrisburg, NC Ledger article says, Ever since open-wheel racing split into two groups -- the IRL and CART -- the Indy 500 has been much like a wishbone being tugged at from two sides. In the end, something has to give, and it is clear now that what was once the premier racing event in the U.S. and arguably the most important race in the world has been the victim. When Tony George started the IRL, the only thing that gave the series any credibility, the only thing that attracted teams and drivers, was the fact that it was built around the Indy 500. The surest way to get in Indy was to run the IRL series, which had different specifications for its cars and engines than CART. At first, the fratricidal split in open-wheel competition seemed not to affect Indy, which was of such magnitude that even with many top drivers, specifically those in CART, now out, it simply moved on. But underneath all the glitter and glamour and prestige, the Indy 500 is in trouble. The wishbone was beginning to crack. For a while, it inexorably rolled on, like the tide. But at some point even the tide turns. It stops, and then retreats. And the Indy 500 is in full retreat now. It is certainly not the most important race in the world anymore and the Daytona 500 has probably surpassed it as the biggest race in the U.S. Heck, it may not even be the biggest race this weekend, with Charlotte's Coca-Cola 600 to run here at Lowe's Motor Speedway, mounting a strong challenge. This is what the once-proud Indy 500 has come to:

  • A frantic, last-minute scramble just to make sure it had enough entries to fill the 33-car field.

  • Drivers few people have heard of. There are a few, like Robby Gordon and Michael Andretti, but it's nothing like the glory days of an A.J. Foyt, the Unsers, Andrettis and Mears.

  • Virtually empty stands for qualifying and Sunday's bump day, in which cars already in the field can be knocked out by challengers not in the race. The problem was that there were no challengers because everybody was in the race.

  • For the first time in memory, the probability that the race will not sell out. In another first, the track is advertising tickets for sale.

If there hadn't been rain, there would have been more people in the stands Thursday night for Winston Cup qualifying than there were at Indy, and Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 will be a sellout, although Indy, with its 250,000 seats, will still have a larger crowd. And over at ABC, which televises the Indy 500, they have gotten desperate to attract viewers. Last Sunday, ABC's Dan Jenkins ripped the print media for downgrading the race and proceeded to defend it by making a number of useless points like the fact that so far this season, there has only been one blown engine in IRL competition, as if that has anything to do with anything. And Jack Arute also blasted detractors, saying this would be perhaps the most competitive race ever and that it was still the holy grail of motorsports. But the Indy 500 has slipped, and badly, and if it is not yet second rate, it certainly has second-rate announcers.

5/24/03
Industry News

NJ forms panel to study auto racing  Maybe too late, the state has decided to take the initiative in possibly bringing a motorsports facility to New Jersey. At one time it was believed that if Gov. Christie Whitman would have reached out to motorspeedway developer O. Bruton Smith, there might be a Sports Entertainment District in Cumberland County right now. But that didn't happen and all attempts up and down the state to bring in even a smaller version of racing have failed. Now Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, D-1st Dist., is getting involved by proposing an 11-member Assembly Task Force on Motorsports. The resolution is co-sponsored by Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo of the 29th District. According to Van Drew, the resolution calls for a broad overview and study of motorsports and how they would affect the economy and tourism of the state, as well as the practical application on infrastructure and local government concerns. Most motorsport diehards believe there is room in the state for both a NASCAR-type facility as well as a smaller venue for racing. The resolution does not differentiate between the two and does not target a specific area. It stresses that, "Motorsports are a fast-growing spectator sport with a nationwide annual attendance of more than 10 million, and New Jersey has a long history of motorsports-type activity and a limited number and type of motorsports as well as a limited number of locations for motorsports activities." The proposed task force would consist of 11 members appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly, six members appointed from the Assembly (no more than three from either political party) and five members from the public who have an interest or expertise in motor sports. Donald Fauerbach, executive director of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors, said that the measure was a long time coming. Currently, there are no proposals for such a facility in Cumberland County, since the Manhattan-based Five Partners Asset Management LLC, headed by Joseph Cayre withdrew its bid. Fauerbach's reference to 1997 -- Jan. 28, 1997 to be exact -- was the first time NASCAR racetrack developer Smith -- who built Texas Speedway -- came to South Jersey. The quest -- the first in this area -- was in Galloway at that time. For there, it moved to the Hamilton Mall area and eventually to Cumberland County. At the same time, the Meadowlands became the new hot spot for a major racing facility, seemingly knocking Cumberland County out of the box. A study was commissioned, but the plan never found favor with the horsemen and those who wanted more shopping development. Bridgeton News

5/23/03

F1 calendar can expand if teams paid  Formula One's team principals are split over whether to accept an informal proposal to expand the calendar to 20 races. Bernie Ecclestone wants to increase the calendar from its present 16 grands prix to accommodate new races in China, Bahrain, and possibly Russia, Turkey, and others. The 72-year-old has reportedly also told Austrian and Belgian race organizers, plus officials at the under-threat Imola event (Italy), that their chances of retaining F1 will increase if the teams accept his plan. Ron Dennis (McLaren) and Sir Frank Williams offered a lukewarm reception to the plan warning that it will only cost struggling F1 teams even more money. But Minardi chief Paul Stoddart says he'll accept the proposal if Bernie ensures teams are 'paid for it.' 'I would accept 20 races as long as the teams are paid,' he said. 'It costs a lot of money, extra races.' The Australian also said extra races should maintain the pattern of two weeks apart on the calendar. 'What I don't like are back to back races,' he said. 'It's a hard enough and fast enough life without them.'  F1Central

5/23/03

McLaren sets debut date for new car  McLaren's new Formula One car is likely to make its race debut in the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring on June 29, according to the team's managing director Martin Whitmarsh. "There is a target to go racing at the European Grand Prix but we will manage the risk by making the decision nearer the date," he told BBC radio on Friday. The new MP4-18 made its first track appearance this week at the Le Castellet circuit in southern France with Austrian Alexander Wurz at the wheel.

5/23/03

Daytona Hospital Trauma Surgeons to Walk Off Jobs on June 1   On Thursday, Volusia County medical officials and Daytona International Speedway executives considered ways they will seek treatment for critically injured patients without Halifax Medical Center's six trauma surgeons, who say they'll walk off their job on June 1. The doctors are doing this to protest what they called impossibly high costs of malpractice insurance. If Halifax's trauma center, the only one of its kind in Volusia and Flagler counties, were to be unavailable, seriously injured persons would likely have to be airlifted to Orlando, Jacksonville, Melbourne or Tampa for treatment, officials said. Daytona plays host to the NASCAR's Pepsi 400 on July 5. Having access to emergency care during the racing weekend is crucial, said David Holcombe, NASCAR's director of risk management. Volusia County officials are fearful that the extra time spent airlifting patients to alternative centers would both prove too costly and overburden the emergency rooms in other cities. Dr. David Ramshaw, one of Halifax's trauma surgeons, said doctors were also disturbed by the scenario, but feel they have no other choice. "It's not that we don't want to handle these patients," Ramshaw said. "We'll continue to see patients and do the best we can to take care of them."  Sarasota Herald Tribune

5/23/03

Limited number of tickets available for 500 celebration  A limited amount of tickets are still available for the Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration that will take place May 26, the day after the 87th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. The Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration will start at 4 p.m. (EST) May 26 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, 140 W. Washington St. in Indianapolis. Tickets are $75 per person or $750 for a table of 10. Seating is limited and subject to availability. For more information or to purchase tickets, call Mary Jo Corson at the Speedway’s ticket office at (317) 492-6709. Speedway officials are encouraging those interesting in purchasing tickets to place orders before Race Day, May 25. All 33 drivers in the starting field for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” will receive their awards during the Victory Celebration, with special salutes to the winning driver and team. Other awards will be presented, including the Bank One Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and the Scott Brayton Driver’s Trophy. The celebration will be broadcast from 8-10 p.m. (EST) May 26 on Indianapolis CBS affiliate WISH-TV Channel 8 and also will be broadcast from 8:30-10:30 p.m. (EDT) May 27 on ESPN2.

5/23/03

Sponsor woes haunt Indy 500  This AP article says, Sponsors once paid top dollar for exposure in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, but these days, the Indy Racing League and the speedway are no longer at the front of the pack. A tough sponsorship market blamed on the slow economy, rising racing costs and the IRL's split with the rival CART series is leaving some drivers feeling more like beggars than racers. Sarah Fisher and George Mack have made inroads into a sport traditionally dominated by white males — Fisher as the third woman ever to compete at the Indianapolis 500, Mack as the second black competitor. But this year, Fisher has spent as much time knocking on prospective sponsors' doors as she has racing, and Mack hasn't raced at all.......Racing industry analysts trace the problems to the 1996 IRL-CART split, which left the rival open-wheel series competing for the same pot of money. It also drove away fans and hurt TV ratings, damaging open-wheel racing's attractiveness to sponsors while NASCAR's popularity surged. The slow-to-rebound economy has made matters worse. "When you have a driver like Sarah Fisher whose story is as good as hers is, and still they can't get a full-season sponsor for her, I think that speaks loudly about the trouble the IRL is having and open-wheel racing is having," said Bill King, motorsports writer for Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal.....When the IRL was formed, one of the key missions was to keep costs reasonable. DeBord estimates the cost of fielding an IRL car at $5.5-million to $7.5-million per season — about double the level three years ago. The cost has increased in part because some teams from the more expensive, high-technology CART series have moved to the IRL, bringing with them bigger sponsorships and greater spending, he said.....The costs are scaring away small businesses that have traditionally sponsored IRL teams and racers, said Jonathan Byrd II, general manager of Jonathan Byrd Cafeteria. Last year, the banquet and food business based in the Indianapolis suburb of Greenwood ended an Indy team sponsorship that dated to 1985. "What you could do for $3-million in 1996 and 1997 you can't do anymore," Byrd said......NASCAR, meanwhile, is second only to the NFL in network television ratings for sports events, and stock car racing commands a far bigger TV audience than the IRL and CART, fuelling greater sponsorship demand. "We're very pleased with where we are with the sponsorship situation, given the economy," said Terrence Burns, NASCAR's consumer communications director. In open-wheel racing, the sponsorship struggle has left many teams feeling helpless, including the IRL's low-budget PDM Racing and driver Jimmy Kite. "We're an American team with an American driver with a red-white-and-blue car, and there's got to be somebody out there who wants to be part of the greatest spectacle in motor racing," team owner Paul Diatlovich said. "When the economy was good, money was hard to come by. Now, it's next to impossible."

5/23/03

Montoya fastest at Paul Ricard Day 4 
Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW M 1m32.307s 69
2 Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m33.566s 30*
3 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m34.059s 65
4 Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes M 1m34.099s 74*
5 Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m36.218s 62
* Wurz in MP4-18, de la Rosa in MP4-17D

5/23/03

Indy 500's power to fill stands fading  This Hoosier Times article says, If you'll pardon the slang, the crowds at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ain't what they used to be. To be sure, the race Sunday will host the world's single biggest one-day sports crowd this year, around 300,000. But in a development that veteran fans might find unthinkable, the event that for half a century has been a sellout still has tickets available. And at the track — not just from the scalpers prowling 16th Street and Georgetown Road. By 11 a.m. Sunday, the scalpers will be unloading their ducats at below face value. In the 1960s, the Indianapolis 500 Pole Day qualifications would attract 200,000 people. Now, even on a beautiful day, 20,000 come. The prerace Carburetion Day and Pit Stop Competition events the Thursday before the race would pull 75,000. Not any more. Judging crowds spread across half a square mile of real estate is a tricky business, but in perfect weather Thursday, there might have been half that many. And from a veteran self-described "gearhead" fan to an Indy vice president to Roger Penske, the racing legend whose drivers and cars have won 12 Indy 500s, all cite the same reasons:

  • The recession.

  • Fierce competition for folks' sports and entertainment dollars.

  • Other races than the Indy 500 at the fabled track.

  • And what has come to be known simply as "The Split."

The Split is the infamous division of IndyCar racing in 1996 between the Championship Auto Racing Teams series, or CART, and Indy owner Tony George's fledgling Indy Racing League, the IRL. It divided more than teams, drivers and even racing families. It divided fans, TV audiences and the corporate sponsors whose megabucks fuel the sport. That's what fan Bill Fender said Thursday he thought was the No. 1 source of declining crowds at Indy. Fender, 53, of Greenville in southeastern Indiana, has been coming to the race since 1968. He was surveying things from the top row of the stands just below the open-air press building balcony Thursday, clenching a can of Miller Lite — the new "Official Beer" of the 500. "I don't know; I guess it all goes back to The Split," he said when asked why he thinks fewer and fewer fans are showing up. He doesn't buy the recession argument, noting, "It's cheap to come out today, $10. It's easy." He said The Split divided the sport and drove off fans and sponsors — and the sponsors bring fans. For example, Penske had said just an hour earlier that his sponsors, most notably Marlboro, brought 5,000 people to Indy last year. Fender said the IRL may have won the battle with CART for supremacy but lost the war for sports fans' money and attention.

5/23/03

Indy 500 a melting pot of best drivers?  This ESPN.com article says, Thirteen of Sunday's 33 starters for the 87th Indianapolis 500 are foreign-born -- including six of the fastest seven qualifiers. Ditto for five of the last six Indy winners, even though '98 champ Eddie Cheever spent most of his childhood in Italy after being born in Arizona. There are six Brazilians, four Californians and nobody from Indiana, which boasts the most (seven) Indy winners in history. Graduates from the midget and sprint-car ranks have three representatives as the rest of the lineup is comprised of road racers. The last true American oval-tracker to pull into Victory Lane here was Al Unser in 1987. Foreigners are flourishing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which doesn't play real well with many of the Indy Racing League faithful, but it's a trend that began back in the mid-60s and immediately raised Indy's international profile. "Look how much better The Masters is with all the world-class golfers and the same thing happened here when (Jimmy) Clark, (Jackie) Stewart, (Graham) Hill and (Jochen) Rindt came to Indianapolis," said Mario Andretti, who conquered both worlds by winning Indy in 1969 and the Formula One title in 1978. "Indianapolis should be a melting pot for talent.  You want to compete against the best." That was the case in the mid-80s when two-time F1 champ Emerson Fittipaldi became an Indy-car regular. F1 kings Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell also competed at Indianapolis in the early '90s, with Mansell capturing the '93 CART championship. By 1995, only USAC midget star Stan Fox managed to crack the lineup at Indy, as road racers dominated the rest of the field. When open-wheel racing split in 1996, IRL founder Tony George made a lot of noise about restoring the American midget and sprint racer to Indy's landscape. And seven Yankee oval-trackers graced the '96 field.

5/23/03

Ron Dennis slams Fuel Rigs  McLaren boss Ron Dennis has slammed F1 fuel rig makers Intertechnique as "appalling". When asked if Intertechnique were proactive in sorting problems, Dennis told Autosport magazine: "They are, to be honest, appalling. "Most of the efforts to optimize the equipment have been made by the teams and the FIA. "We realized a long time ago that the right way to get the best out of these systems was to take the responsibility ourselves." Dennis added that the fire which struck Schumacher should not have been possible because of fail-safe devices on the rigs. He said: "What you had there was something that technically shouldn’t be able to happen."

5/23/03

Tracy still feels he won last year's Indy 500  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, I saw the article mentioned in "Tracy still feels he won last year's Indy 500 This AP article says, A year has gone by, but Paul Tracy's version of events has not changed. He still believes he won the Indianapolis 500..." I immediately tried, in vain, to contact Mr. Eddie Pells at the AP ( he was the author of the article). I wanted to be sure he realized his article had a few facts that were incorrect. The most important was this: "The process took five weeks and, after each step, IRL vice president of operations Brian Barnhart and, finally, IRL president Tony George came to the same conclusion: Castroneves was ahead when the yellow came out, and therefore, his victory should stand." Not true Mr. Pells, there was NEVER a review of the facts. The final decision that was made was that the race day decision could not be appealed. Mr. Pells, your implication that Tony and Brian, reviewed the evidence and made a decision is blatantly FALSE. Can anyone from AR1, contact the AP and try to set Mr. Pells straight? Gary Shell  Dear Gary, We will send Mr. Pell the article AR1 wrote on this topic, The Unappealable Appeal, George reigns in George-Town5/23/03 - This AP article says, A year has gone by, but Paul Tracy's version of events has not changed. He still believes he won the Indianapolis 500 on the track and lost it in a boardroom. Last year's disputed runner-up insists it doesn't bother him. "What can I do about it, other than move on?" he said. Yet there is a distinct sense that, for Tracy, this chapter will never quite be closed. Tracy considers himself, not Helio Castroneves, the 2002 champion, even though "I don't have the trophy or the money to prove it." He no longer drives for owner Barry Green, who spent thousands of dollars in a five-week appeal that brought nothing for him and Tracy. Still, life and racing moves on. Green sold his team to Michael Andretti, who moved it to IRL this year. Tracy drives for Gerry Forsythe and is tied for first in the Championship Auto Racing Teams standings through five races. He won the first three events of the season. Although this is an open week in CART, Tracy is not racing this week at Indy, the rival IRL's showcase event. In fact, while Castroneves is going for his third straight victory Sunday, Tracy will be on an airplane, somewhere between his home in Las Vegas and Toronto. He won't watch the race. Of course, in his mind, the most intriguing action isn't always on the oval. "There were a lot of wheels in motion" last year, Tracy said. "There are a lot of politics in racing." .....The IRL said it was Castroneves. Tracy and Green protested the decision and then appealed it. The process took five weeks and, after each step, IRL vice president of operations Brian Barnhart and, finally, IRL president Tony George came to the same conclusion: Castroneves was ahead when the yellow came out, and therefore, his victory should stand. Tracy insists there is indisputable evidence that shows otherwise. "But the video evidence is all property of Indy Motor Speedway," Tracy said. "There's a lot of that stuff there that will never be seen." For a number of reasons -- especially because Tracy drives for CART and Castroneves drives for IRL -- Tracy speculates the IRL overlooked compelling evidence to make sure their guy won. As they have all along, IRL officials call Tracy's claims hogwash. "There are no such thing as backdoor deals," IRL spokesman John Griffin said. "That's totally ridiculous." Griffin said Barnhart's judgment has always been impeccable. "Brian's well-respected by practically everyone in this garage area," Griffin said. Apparently, Tracy isn't on that list.

5/23/03

ABC taking steps to halt Indy 500 plunge  This USA Today article says, Everything shouldn't be a popularity contest. Because if it were, it'd be hard to get past the obvious trend involving the Indianapolis 500 and television: The race has lost much of its appeal. ABC's Indy 500 coverage drew an average of 4.8% of U.S. TV households last year. That's less than half the rating, 10.9%, it drew a decade before. And the Indy 500 actually was lapped by Fox's Coca-Cola 600, a NASCAR race in only its second year on broadcast TV. The Winston Cup race ran on the same day as the Indy event and ended up with a slightly better rating, 5.1%. The pair will face off again Sunday, with ABC's 39th consecutive year of coverage from Indianapolis leading off at 11 a.m. ET. And Bob Goodrich, who first worked on ABC's Indy coverage as a gofer in 1970 and has produced the broadcast since 1985, says the network will counter with new production wrinkles. They include:
• During cautions, viewers will see a flashing yellow light that's keyed to the same electronic system that flashes a yellow light on drivers' dashboards. Says Goodrich, "That will instantaneously tell viewers when there's a problem."
• Reporters will tag along with three race teams — ABC's Jack Arute with Team Penske, Gary Gerould with Andretti Green and Vince Welch with Kelley Racing — from the time they leave their hotels about dawn until the race begins.
• Owner Tom Kelley will be miked throughout the race. He was bound to get extra attention anyway: Former president George Bush will be attending the race as his guest.
• On-screen graphics will be changed to include more information. "Quite honestly, the modern-day viewer is flipping around all the time," Goodrich says. "My goal is for flippers to not have to wait more than a couple minutes to find out about their favorite driver."
• ABC, whose cameras include 24 in cars and two embedded in track turns, will add a roving handheld camera in the stands for crowd reaction.

[Editor's Note: What this author and the IRL fail to realize is that although ABC's telecast may get better, if the fans don't tune in to watch because they no longer care about the sport, what good is it?  The only thing the IRL and ABC can hope for is bad weather across the country so no one leaves their homes for holiday weekend picnics and sits in front of the TV all day Sunday.  They also had better hope Annika Sorenstam misses the cut today for the final two rounds of the PGA tournament.  If she makes the cut, she can have a major impact on the 500 ratings.]

5/23/03

Indy 500, a pathetic paradox   UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, I can absolutely confirm that piece was indeed written by THE Robin Miller - not only did I see a copy of the original with his headshot and byline, he appeared on the front cover of the paper (an Indy local alternative free weekly).  Name withheld by request  5/21/03 - This Nuvo article by a Robin Miller (we do not know if it is the same Robin Miller of ESPN fame.  We suspect it's an imposter, but whoever it is, they really hammer the man who brings his hammer to work everyday.  Tony George says  "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” Is this an old Arab proverb or the new marketing slogan for the Indy Racing League and the few hundred people who still refuse to admit what they’re really seeing this month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?  Because, even if you’re just a tad bit realistic, you must acknowledge that the 87th Indianapolis 500 is a pathetic paradox in almost every way. Tony “We’re Right Where We Need To Be” George’s so-called “vision” is a laughable hoax that’s even left some of the IRL hardliners blinking in disbelief. There are barely enough cars for the “greatest spectacle in racing,” qualifying required four laps instead of speed, Bump Day lost its soul and the IRL’s supposed mantra was exposed as a fraud. Let’s start with the IRL’s BS premise from 1994. Because George supposedly despised CART’s engine leases, foreign manufacturers, greedy car owners, escalating costs, road racers and had concerns about preserving Indy’s integrity, he started his own series. And, in the process, killed the Indianapolis 500 by guaranteeing 25 of the 33 spots for his followers and bringing in Racin Gardner and Bronco Brad Murphey to replace Andretti, Unser, Rahal, Sullivan, Tracy and Fittipaldi.  Fast forward to May of 2003. Honda and Toyota left CART and have literally taken over the IRL. They’ve won every race so far, led almost every lap, own all but one of the top teams and are kicking Chevrolet’s behind up and down 16th Street. General Motors claims it’s coming back in 2004, but who in the hell is going to want them? Maybe Fred Treadway, Brad Calkins, Larry Cahill, 310 Racing or Curb Motorsports. Oh, that’s right: All those old IRL teams dropped out this year because they couldn’t afford the new IRL. Thirty of the 33 starters are road racers, 28 with direct ties to CART, while only three drivers came from the midget and sprint-car ranks, which George vowed to return to prominence here with his league. Young USAC stars like J.J. Yeley, Tracy Hines and Boston Reid are looking to join Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Jason Leffler in NASCAR because, obviously, there’s no place for them in the IRL unless they bring money. Or become George’s relative. Of course Donnie Beechler, a 36-time IRL starter, was at the track but couldn’t get a silver badge to get into the pits to chase a ride until the second week of practice. “They made me feel like I had never been here before,” he said.  While Beechler was treated like an outsider, the IRL can’t quit gushing about how wonderful it is to have Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, Bobby Rahal and Michael Andretti in “The League.” All those owners George hated and feared are now part of his extended family. Penske and Ganassi can’t spew enough praise on George’s vision. And some of those phony announcers who hated Juan Montoya in 2000 are now gung-ho about interviewing Tora Takagi or Scott Dixon or any number of those evil foreigners from CART. Ah, but I digress. Because of the IRL’s new cars this season and new partners, we have a more expensive IRL that is sadly short of functioning teams. The month’s top storyline was whether there would be enough cars for the traditional 11 rows of three. The IRL party line from Baghdad Bob (aka Fred Nation) is that the Enron scandal, the Lakers losing, Conseco stock, SARS, the end of Friends and chuckholes on Georgetown Road are responsible for the lack of cars in Gasoline Alley. Barnhart’s new battle cry was “quality not quantity,” which naturally played well with the IRL minions. But many old-timers and people with a true passion for what Indy means were gagging about the loss of excitement and commitment on Bump Day. Bump Day became an insult to any driver who ever hung his butt out to make the show or died trying. There were nine cars for nine spots and IMS only wanted to fill the field. It didn’t dare want to take a chance on knocking out Sarah or one of A.J.’s cars. But, hell, just because nobody got bumped didn’t mean you couldn’t enjoy all the rock and roll music being played behind the Gondola (The Star’s term for the Pagoda in a 2002 story) or blaring over the PA system. Some misguided dork with a marketing degree actually thinks Cracker is going to bring all the fans back from the mid-’90s or that “Art In Motion” (the IMS ad campaign for 2003) is somehow going to inspire new, sophisticated customers.  The only thing lamer than the IMS marketing department is CART’s, but in the name of Bill Vukovich this is the greatest racetrack in the world. PROMOTE THE DARN DRIVERS!!! Or the still-bargain prices of practice ($5) and qualifying ($10). Just as sickening to traditionalists was the Infiniti Pro Series debut this month. A handful of under-powered shit boxes droning around Indy so Tony’s stepson can get some headlines? Indy was special because it was Indy cars. What’s next, figure 8’s on opening day? It’s all too depressing. George is a 100 percent hypocrite because the IRL has morphed into CART and he didn’t give a fiddler’s f&%# about American drivers, IRL loyalty or preserving anything resembling tradition. Tom Carnegie is announcing hot dog eating contests instead of new track records. Ticket demand continues to drop, but IMS is raising prices next year. Fill Day instead of Bump Day. To quote a good friend of mine: “It’s over.” And I’m afraid it’s never coming back.

5/23/03

Salles in, Yoong out at Coyne   Gualter Salles announced today that he will make a return to the CART series in the next race, at Milwaukee, on May 31st. The Brazilian driver will compete with Dale Coyne, replacing Alex Yoong. Yoong took over the Dale Coyne seat from Roberto Gonzalez for the second round of the championship in Monterrey, finishing his debut Champ Car race in a solid ninth position.  The news is positive for Gualter Salles who returns to the series for the first time since 2000. “It´s great to come back to CART,” Salles said. “I was talking to Dale since the beginning of the year. I’m sure that is going to be a wonderful experience to race in such a competitive series that has great media coverage  all over the world.” Salles will test the car next Tuesday, at Nazareth. “It will be an important day for me to work on the set up of the car”, the Brazilian stated. Salles also races at the Brazilian Stock Car series, on team ‘Golden Cross’, where he is in fourth position of 32 drivers. “I don’t know what I will do in the future,” Salles continued. “I’ll probably do more races on CART series this year, but I intend to stay in Brazilian Stock Car series, because I’m racing for the title there and this is very important for me and my sponsors.”  Salles drove for Coyne a number of years in the past.

5/23/03

F1 truce close?  Speculation is mounting that a peace deal is close to being agreed to between Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone and the consortium of manufacturers threatening to form a breakaway championship in 2008. According to reports in German magazine Sport Bild, heads of the GPWC – formed of Mercedes, Renault, BMW, Ford and Ferrari – have agreed to receive 60 percent of TV revenues from 2008 onwards. They currently receive 47 percent. The GPWC is threatening to start a rival series in 2008 unless it receives more power and, crucially, more money from the sport. While the initial threat was believed to be simply that, in recent weeks plans appear to have taken on a far more serious tone and the chances of a rival series appeared to become a real possibility. However, the reports from Germany suggest a breakthrough – paving the way for a new Concorde Agreement to come into operation when the present one expires in five years time. Neither side have publicly commented on the claims.  SportsBusiness.com (Requires Membership)

5/23/03

Penske team signs sponsorship deal  Team Penske Racing has signed a major sponsorship deal with US online mortgage lender, Quicken Loans. The deal is a 'multi-tiered marketing and business development agreement' with Quicken aiming to drive business and brand awareness. Under the terms of the agreement, Quicken Loans logos will appear on the Marlboro Team Penske cars in the IRL beginning with this week's running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.  They will need to replace Marlboro eventually and Roger appears to be starting to find replacements already.  SportsBusiness.com (Requires Membership)

5/23/03

Is the IRL becoming another CART?   This Canadian Press article says, Tony George founded the Indy Racing League with the idea of providing a low-cost oval series that would showcase American drivers. That mission seems to have veered off course heading into Sunday's Indianapolis 500, which will have a bunch of big-money teams and foreign drivers contending for a trip to Victory Lane. "The look of the IRL is definitely a lot different than it was two or three years ago," said Ron Hemelgarn, one of the few remaining owners who's been there since the beginning. "There's a lot of new faces." In many ways, the IRL has morphed into CART, the series so loathed by George that he decided to start his own circuit in 1996. Sure, George's upstart league has brought CART to its knees during a bitter, seven-year struggle for control of open-wheel racing. But at what cost? Most of CART's top car owners, including Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi, defected to the IRL in the past two years. They brought along talented foreign drivers such as two-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves, a Brazilian. Meanwhile, IRL teams that used to get by on a shoestring budget have been put out of business. Foreign drivers hold down half of the regular jobs on the circuit.

5/23/03

Mario Andretti fully supportive of son, may race again   This Sport Ticker article says, At 63, Mario Andretti appears fit enough to climb into an Indy car and drive it in Sunday in the 87th Indianapolis 500. But Andretti retired from this race in 1994 and, with the exception of his return to the cockpit during a test session on April 23 that ended with a spectacular airborne crash, his motorsports interests are in the pit area. On Thursday, Andretti looked over the 10 race cars that lined the Andretti/Green garages in Gasoline Alley . If things had turned out differently, one of those cars could have been his as he was trying to substitute for the injured Tony Kanaan. "The video had nothing to do with it and I didn't have to announce to the world what I was doing," Andretti said, referring to footage of his crash. "It was all impromptu, and if Tony Kanaan had a setback because of the injury and I would have been needed to step in, I would have been more than ready to do it. "I needed another compelling reason to do it. It wouldn't have taken too much to convince me, but I needed another one."............."It meant more to me than that, how much I appreciated the opportunity Michael gave to me," Mario said. "He gave me another life, knowing how much I love the driving. And to get into my zone again at this stage in my life was more than a gift. I'm just sorry that it cost a car. At the end of the day, the man upstairs was looking after me, and that's the main thing."..........The elder Andretti leaves open the possibility he could compete in a race or two. And he maintains a keen interest in driving in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. "Le Mans to me is like Indy right now, I really enjoy it," Andretti said (Alex Zanardi says he wants to drive LeMans with Mario).........Now that his son is involved in the IRL, Mario Andretti's tone has softened a bit, his words not as harsh as they once were. But his beliefs are strong that two sides working against each other is the major reason open-wheel racing is falling off the sports map in the United States. "Nobody is winning anything," the elder Andretti said of the costly war between CART and the IRL. "Right now, in my opinion, it should be all together. I keep saying this and I maintain it. Going in two different directions like this, neither organization is winning. Fans are losing and competitors are losing. It's time to create a win-win situation for everyone. That is wishful thinking on my part, but I will never stop wishing." And how does he propose that those wishes come true? "By intelligent minds sitting down and creating the mind-set for that to happen," Andretti said. "You have to believe it can be done, and then you can get it done. The leadership of the two organizations aren't thinking that way, and that's the problem at the moment that we have to change." Mario Andretti remembers when Pole Day at the Indianapolis 500 brought in crowds in excess of 250,000. "Shocked and sad," he said of his reaction to this year's meager Pole Day crowd. "I'm just saddened. I love and appreciated what this place stood for and all the people that have attended. To me, the qualifying days, those were the real fans. The event, you only have people that go to a race once, like the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby. The real fans were here for qualifying. Somehow, they aren't here anymore, and that's the part that saddens me more than anything else in the world." . "I'm really good at night, I'm very good in the rain. All those things work for me, and if I feel physically the way I feel today, yes, I'd do Le Mans. "Paul Newman is running at Lime Rock on Monday and I'm 15 years newer than he is. I still have some life in there. If the opportunity presents itself and it's the right one, I have to assess the moment. I can't make long-range plans right now, I have to be realistic." Mario drove until he was 54; Michael is retiring at 40. Although Mario believes his son has many years of racing left, he accepts his decision to step aside and focus on being a team owner.

5/23/03

The 500 fights to regain lost interest   UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, I think it’s now possible to separate “the eventual complete destruction of Indy Car racing” into the eventual demise of the IRL vs. the survival of CART, albeit as potentially a very different product from what we know it to be today, a product CART fans may or may not care for. CART’s future is far less speculative in my opinion than that of the IRL. CART’s only major issue at this time is the lack of a major network TV package. The balance of it’s business model is basically sound and, hopefully, capable of weathering the economy with or without Bernie’s support. The IRL is a totally different matter. As I asserted late last year, 2003 would be a pivotal year for both CART and the IRL but more so for the IRL. As the IRL strayed farther and farther from Tony’s founding “vision” so too would the supporters of that vision stray from Tony. I believe this is what we are seeing this year with the IRL and the 500 in particular. The IRL supporters are finally seeing Tony and his vision for what it is: selfishness, greed and a failed attempt by a spoiled rich kid to hijack open wheel motorsport in North America. IRL support began to wane with the reserved grid debacle that debased every 500 grid since and coalesced with Paul Tracy’s 500 victory last year. The influx of CART defectors has driven off more of the IRL’s core fan base and has failed to attract new (CART) fans. Suddenly the IRL has become CART. What happened to “the vision?” asked the IRL faithful. Seems they won't support this version of the IRL.  The fans are now voting with their pocketbooks after enduring years of self serving IRL business decisions (gee, sound like the old CART model too). As I have also stated, “the marketplace will decide.” The market place is sending Tony a loud and clear message. The question now becomes will he respond and embrace some form of unification before it’s too late to salvage any vestige of the great race? Many feel it’s too late for that, that the damage has been done. Time, and the market place, will tell.  This morning's piece on the Business of The Indy 500 has glossed over MANY important issues that suggest their (the IRL and IMS) problems go much deeper than "the economy," which IMS management so glibly blame for this year's failure to sell out, their loss of corporate support and their rapidly eroding fan base. The "vision" of IRL founder and IMS President Tony George has polarized open wheel motorsports in North America and alienated the fan base that once supported that vision. Motorsports fans are voting with their checkbooks this year and the voting is not going in Mr. George's favor. There is much more to this story but your reporters need to dig deeper than the IRL media kit. J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois   5/23/03 - This Indy Star article talks about the difficulty the Indy Speedway is having in selling tickets and corporate suites.  What they fail to realize is that 1) the Indy 500 has become a 1-day event, the rest of the month of May is dead, 2) Tony George's split of Indy Car racing, and not the economy is to blame for the sad state of affairs.  It's been downhill since the split, which occurred when the economy was booming.  Blaming the economy is just a smokescreen to take blame away from where it properly belongs.  Most people are starting to realize where the blame lies.  Now it remains to be seen whether the creation of the IRL will eventually lead to the eventual complete destruction of Indy Car racing.  All indications are that it will.

5/23/03

The Winston TV rating down 5%   FX coverage of The Winston on Saturday night drew 3,080,000 households, yielding a 3.9 final rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. This was good enough for 5th place on cable last week, behind two NBA playoff games and two WWE events. Last year's race drew a 4.13 rating and 3.2 million homes, meaning that this year's rating is down 5%. The nine races on FOX this year -- not including the Daytona 500 -- are averaging a 6.9 rating in Minneapolis/St. Paul, a 15-percent improvement on the national average (6.0) and 17 percent higher than the average in this market at the same point last year (5.9). Among the top 20 markets in the United States, the Twin Cities is the third fastest-growing in relation to NASCAR ratings trailing only Seattle (up 22 percent) and Boston (up 21 percent). Ed Goren, president of Fox Sports, credits the switch of the Fox affiliation from WFTC (Ch. 29) to the stronger KMSP (Ch. 9) last September as one reason. "The increase speaks to the strength of NASCAR as well as the strength of KMSP," Goren said. "The reality is that NASCAR is more than a regional sport. Week in, week out, we are seeing strong numbers from all over the country."  Fox Sports president Ed Goren not only believes the NASCAR Winston Cup Series has finally shed its regional perception, he said the racing circuit has become one of the "healthiest" sports on the tube. In the three years since Fox, NBC and Turner Sports started their $2.8 billion, six-year contract with NASCAR, ratings have skyrocketed. According to figures compiled by Sports Business Journal, ratings in the last three years have increased 109 percent in Chicago, 35 percent in New York and 34 percent in Los Angeles. "As far as ratings go, I don't know if there's a healthier sport in this country," Goren told the magazine. "The national ratings week in and week out declare that this is a national sport." . . . The national ratings continue to support the racing series' contention it's the second-most popular sport on television. It trails only the National Football League in ratings. The top six markets in the country for racing are: Greensboro, N.C., (15.9), Greenville, S.C., (13.4), Charlotte (13.1), Indianapolis (11.8), Knoxville, Tenn., (10.6) and Dayton, Ohio, (10.6). What has NASCAR doing cartwheels is the fact ratings also are up in non-racing areas like Buffalo and Seattle (both up 22 percent) and Boston (21).  MotorsportsTV.com

5/23/03

Austria TV rating in USA  Last weekend's Austrian GP on SPEED garnered a 0.38 TV rating in the USA.

5/23/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Alex Wurz's New Silver Toy
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Sunny Testing In Spain, Italy
Maybe Next Year, Says Ralf
McLaren Designed For Michelins
Trulli Targets Monaco Win
Schumacher Takes Bandini Award
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Patrick Head Hits Back
Toyota Target Renault's Gascoyne
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Give Us Time: McLaren On MP4-18

5/23/03

Sam Hornish Jr. and Ed Carpenter interview   In this week's weekly IRL teleconference we will look back on the inaugural running of the Infiniti Pro Series Freedom 100 with winner Ed Carpenter, as well as look towards this weekend’s 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 with the 2001 and 2002 IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. Transcript

5/23/03

Denver signs up with TicketsWest  In an effort to provide customers with more convenience, the Shell Grand Prix of Denver today announced that it has an agreement with TicketsWest to provide ticketing service for the annual Labor Day weekend event which this year will take place August 29-31. Beginning Monday, May 26, tickets for the Shell Grand Prix of Denver will be available via all TicketsWest regional outlets located in all King Soopers stores, selected City Market Stores, www.ticketswest.com, or by calling toll-free, (866) 464-2626. “We are excited about creating this new partnership with TicketsWest,” said John Frew, vice president and general manager of the Shell Grand Prix of Denver. “TicketsWest provides us with the strongest regional ticketing system in Colorado and therefore ensures that access is convenient and easy for our customers to purchase tickets to our event.”

5/23/03

Dario says Helio only has one Indy 500 win   UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com,  I was very happy to hear Dario Franchitti tell the truth about how Paul Tracy won last year's Indy 500. Finally, a driver who is not towing the IRL "party line". Have you noticed on the ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 coverage that they have not shown any footage from last year? All the shots of Helio Castroneves seem to be from 2001. Are they hiding something? Chris Silhavey Stratford, CT  5/22/03 - Flipping through the channels today and noticed Dario Franchitti being interviewed on RPM2nite. He was asked about Castroneves' shot at 3 in a row and had an interesting response. He said that based on everything he saw last year (remember, he was on Team Green with Paul Tracy), that it was very clear that Paul Tracy won last year's Indy 500, so in his mind he felt that Castroneves was really going for win number two.  We suspect he saw all the evidence.

5/22/03

Da Matta looks to CART experience for Monaco  ”I have never raced at Monaco, but the other drivers tell me that it is just fantastic to drive around,” he said. “There are lots of challenging corners and I hope that my street track experience in ChampCar will help me get to grips with it quickly. As to how we will get on in Monaco, I have no idea. I just hope the car performs more like it did in Spain, rather than how it was in Austria!”

5/22/03

Homestead demolition progressing fast already   The wall of Turn Two at Homestead-Miami Speedway gets torn down under rainy skies in South Florida on Thursday, May 22. With the walls already demolished, construction crews are busy tearing up the track along Turns Three and Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Photo Credit: Homestead Miami Raceway.

5/22/03

Cheever team wins pit stop competition   Red Bull Cheever Racing and driver Buddy Rice won the 27th annual Checkers/Rally’s Pit Stop Challenge on Miller Lite Carb Day May 22 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indianapolis 500 rookie Rice and Red Bull Cheever Racing defeated defending contest and race winners Marlboro Team Penske and Helio Castroneves in the final. Red Bull Cheever Racing changed four tires and completed a simulated fueling of the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by Rice in 8.8401 seconds. Marlboro Team Penske finished similar service for Castroneves and the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone in 9.1341 seconds. The team earned $30,000 of an $80,000 purse for the victory. “We worked really hard to get in here today,” Rice said. “It is the third time (for the team) in this competition. This is really good for these guys, for Cheever Racing, and a good way to roll into Sunday. I am not getting anything (none of the $30,000 prize). It is all going to the crew. They worked hard for this. I really didn’t do anything. It is all on them right now.” This is the first Checkers/Rally’s Pit Stop Challenge championship for Red Bull Cheever Racing. The team finished second in 1997 with team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. as the driver. Cheever also finished second as a driver in 1992 with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. The last time a rookie driver won the Checkers/Rally’s Pit Stop Challenge was in 1997 when Kenny Brack won with Galles Racing Int’l. “This is great,” Cheever said. “This is going to last until the start of the race. But this is a great day for us. The mechanics have worked very hard, Buddy did a great job, and we win. We probably have the best mechanics in the pit, that’s for sure, so we are very ready when the new Chevy power plants come in. We’re going to be at the front.” Red Bull Cheever Racing defeated Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and driver Robbie Buhl in the first round and then defeated Andretti Green Racing and Michael Andretti in the second round after Andretti had to forfeit due to a throttle problem. In the semifinals, Rice defeated Kelley Racing and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr.

5/22/03

CART stock watch 

MPH closed at $2.55 Down $0.26 on Volume of 101,500 shares.
$1.91 Bid - $2.87 Ask on close.
Session Low/High $2.50/$2.85
MPH Value Change Down 9.25%
DOW Jones Up 77.59 or 0.91% on Volume of 1.8 billion shares.
NASDAQ Up 17.68 or 1.19%
S&P 500 Up 8.45 or 0.92%
Courtesy of C3I.AndersonGroupe - Chicago
www.andersongroupe.com

5/22/03

Indy signs DVD deal   Created to provide generations of open-wheel and motorsports fans with high-quality home entertainment products, Shoreline Media Group (SMG) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Productions announced May 22 a marketing agreement for the sales and distribution of home DVD and video products featuring the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The partnership, which will result in the release of its first title in July, will focus on the history of the legendary 2.5-mile track to create innovative new programming sold to consumers via both SMG’s direct and specialty retail distribution system. IMS Productions, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s broadcast production company, will produce the new products. Developed exclusively for the home entertainment market, these special productions will feature a wide variety of Indianapolis 500-themed content and will incorporate the award-winning production, editing and soundtrack values that helped popularize the broadcasts of the Indianapolis 500 and Indy Racing League events. Also announced was the partnership’s two-year production schedule that included the relationship’s first release focusing on the revolutionary era of the 1960s. Currently entitled “Indianapolis 500: The 60’s,” the new production will include video highlights, special interviews and rare, never-before-seen archival footage of that special time in motorsports history. A second production, this one highlighting the revolutionary era of the 1970s, is scheduled for release in time for this year’s holiday season. At least two more productions are expected to be completed during the 2004 calendar year as part of this “Legacy Series.” SMG will provide IMS Productions with marketing and distribution channels for Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway-related DVD products. SMG also will provide sales support and a turn-key fulfillment system that incorporates design, packaging, marketing, duplication, product warehousing and order fulfillment via a special toll-free number – (800) 856-4266 – and e-commerce sales, including its Web site, www.sportsdvdheadquarters.com. In a unique multi-tiered launch strategy, these high-quality products initially will be available only via direct sales and Internet sites before launching into specialty retail. Extensive national advertising featuring full-page, four-color print ads will accompany the launch of each title. Consumers will also have access to the IMS products via sportsdvdheadquarters.com, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Internet sites, mailings, on-track promotions and eventually through direct sales at all IRL events. “Our goal is to provide our fans with the opportunity to enjoy the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s historical heritage via this innovative program,” said Fred Nation, IMS executive vice president of communications. “We are very pleased to announce this innovative new relationship with Shoreline Media Group. Race fans can now build an entertainment library of Indy 500 DVD products that are unique in content and provide the highest level of quality.”

5/22/03
Industry News

DaimlerChrysler drops plans for $1.2 billion plant  DaimlerChrysler AG's decision to abandon plans for a $1.2 billion assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, has prompted union officials once again to say the Canadian government is sabotaging the nation's auto industry by refusing to provide needed incentives to automakers. DaimlerChrysler, citing poor economic conditions in automotive markets, said early Thursday it had decided not to build the plant, which would have created 2,500 jobs.

5/22/03

Nadeau is conscious    Winston Cup driver Jerry Nadeau has regained consciousness and is speaking again, nearly three weeks after he crashed during practice at Richmond International Raceway. Jay Frye, general manager of Nadeau's U.S. Army team, visited the driver Tuesday at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. Nadeau had been semiconscious in previous visits. "The difference since the last time I saw Jerry was incredible," Frye said Thursday. "It was an emotional and wonderful feeling when he made the first move to shake my hand. Yesterday he was hugging and kissing his daughter (3-month-old Natalie Kate) and had pizza for dinner."

5/22/03
Industry News

Alejandro de Tomaso 1928-2003  Alejandro de Tomaso, an Argentine car racer who founded the de Tomaso car company, has died at the age of 76.

5/22/03

Japanese engines dominate Carb Day at Indy   1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack was the fastest driver during Miller Lite Carb Day practice May 22 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the last practice before the 87th Indianapolis 500. 1998 IRL IndyCar Series champion Brack turned a top lap of 39.3516 seconds, 228.707 mph in the No. 15 Rahal/Letterman/Miller Lite/Pioneer Dallara/Honda/Firestone. “It’s been a fantastic day for us and Team Rahal today,” Brack said. “It’s race preparation, so we’ve done a lot of stuff in the few laps that we’ve been able to run, and the car seems to run fine. So let’s hope it stays the same until Sunday.” The 87th Indianapolis 500 starts at noon (EDT) Sunday and will be televised live on ABC. Brack will start sixth in the 33-car field. “I think it’s going to be a very tough race,” Brack said. “There’s a lot of cars that are very closely matched. From what I’ve seen so far, there are a lot of cars that are very similar in speed, and it’s going to be a tough race to win.” Juan Pablo Montoya was the last driver to lead Carb Day practice and win the race in the same year, in 2000.   Robby Gordon was second in practice today at 39.4997, 227.850 in the No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Gordon will attempt to complete the Indy 500-NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 “daily double” Sunday, racing in the early afternoon in Indianapolis and in the evening at Charlotte, N.C. Gil de Ferran was third at 39.5062, 227.812 in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. 1999 IndyCar Series champion Greg Ray was fourth at 39.5100, 227.790 in the No. 13 TrimSpa Special Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone. Scott Dixon rounded out the top five at 39.5233, 227.714 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Dixon is the top rookie qualifier, starting fourth.   De Ferran’s teammate, MBNA Pole winner Helio Castroneves, was sixth at 39.6488, 226.993 in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. Castroneves will attempt to win an unprecedented third straight Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

Pos   Driver Name   Car #   C/E/T  Best Time   Best Speed   Best Lap  Difference
1  Kenny Brack  15  D/H/F  39.3516  228.7070  6    
2  Robby Gordon  27  D/H/F  39.4997  227.8500  15  +0.1481  
3  Gil de Ferran  6  G/T/F  39.5062  227.8120  12  +0.1546  
4  Greg Ray  13  G/H/F  39.5100  227.7900  20  +0.1584  
5  Scott Dixon  9  G/T/F  39.5233  227.7140  8  +0.1717  
6  Helio Castroneves  3  D/T/F  39.6488  226.9930  6  +0.2972  
7  Tony Renna  32  D/T/F  39.7000  226.7000  11  +0.3484  
8  Tony Kanaan  11  D/H/F  39.7073  226.6590  20  +0.3557  
9  Tomas Scheckter  10  G/T/F  39.7601  226.3580  9  +0.4085  
10  Scott Sharp  8  D/T/F  39.7800  226.2440  12  +0.4284  
11  Michael Andretti  7  D/H/F  39.7896  226.1900  22  +0.4380  
12  Felipe Giaffone  21  G/T/F  39.8267  225.9790  6  +0.4751  
13  Roger Yasukawa  55  D/H/F  39.8771  225.6930  18  +0.5255  
14  Jaques Lazier  2  D/C/F  39.9225  225.4370  26  +0.5709  
15  Jimmy Vasser  19  D/H/F  39.9508  225.2770  19  +0.5992  
16  Alex Barron  20  G/T/F  39.9551  225.2530  7  +0.6035  
17  Vitor Meira  22  D/C/F  39.9582  225.2350  9  +0.6066  
18  Al Unser Jr  31  D/T/F  40.0274  224.8460  9  +0.6758  
19  Robbie Buhl  24  D/C/F  40.0401  224.7750  14  +0.6885  
20  Airton Dare  41  G/T/F  40.0617  224.6530  11  +0.7101  
21  Tora Takagi  12  G/T/F  40.0916  224.4860  10  +0.7400  
22  Richie Hearn  99  G/T/F  40.1843  223.9680  52  +0.8327  
23  Buddy Rice  52  D/C/F  40.2432  223.6400  7  +0.8916  
24  Shinji Nakano  54  D/H/F  40.2520  223.5910  8  +0.9004  
25  Sam Hornish Jr  4  D/C/F  40.2685  223.5000  7  +0.9169  
26  Buddy Lazier  91  D/C/F  40.4621  222.4300  23  +1.1105  
27  Shigeaki Hattori  5  D/T/F  40.5039  222.2010  10  +1.1523  
28  Billy Boat  98  D/C/F  40.5357  222.0270  18  +1.1841  
29  AJ Foyt IV  14  D/T/F  40.6088  221.6270  11  +1.2572  
30  Jimmy Kite  18  D/C/F  40.8348  220.4000  15  +1.4832  
31  Sarah Fisher  23  D/C/F  41.0098  219.4600  9  +1.6582  
32  Dan Wheldon  26  D/H/F  69.6182  129.2770  2  +30.2666  

5/22/03

Thursday test times from Paul Ricard, Juan and David tied 

1 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW 1:10.815 71 laps
1 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1:10.815 120 laps
3 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1:11.435 93 laps
4 Marc Gene Williams-BMW 1:12.082 106 laps
5 Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1:12.320 104 laps
6 Allan McNish Renault 1:12.427 156 laps
7 Alexander Wurz McLaren-Mercedes 1:14.620 10 laps

5/22/03

Tough times at Indy Speedway   This AP article says, Vendors hawking Indianapolis 500 tickets outside the speedway share a common frustration with the unemployed Indy drivers pitching their skills to owners. On both sides of the track, there are few takers. "I'm losing money instead of making it," said William Carter, who was trying to sell tickets during the final week of practice. "There's nobody selling or buying." Tickets once hotter than the Memorial Day sun are available at bargain prices, and the May 25 race is not sold out - a rarity in the event's storied 87-year history. At the month-long practice and qualifying sessions, attendance was down even as some of the familiar names such as Penske, Rahal and Unser returned after defecting to the rival CART series. The open-wheel Indy cars still zipped around the 2½-mile oval, the vibrations jolting the chests of nearby fans. Longtime track announcer Tom Carnegie provided the deep-voiced play-by-play, just as he has for more than 50 years............Ticket sales have never recovered from the CART-IRL split in 1996, according to Peduto. "It was great the year before. It was huge," he said. "The next year it was nothing. I couldn't believe how quickly it fell apart." Of course, the actual attendance is a mystery because the speedway never releases figures. It's estimated that 300,000 to 325,000 fans attend the race, though the days of 20,000 at practice and 75,000 on pole day have been gone as long as Rick Mears. A little mystery and debate over the numbers is a good thing, said Fred Nation, IRL's spokesman. "You see estimates of 400,000, 500,000. That's a bit high," he said. "We just say we have over 250,000 permanent seats. Beyond that, we don't know necessarily how many people are here on race day. We don't have turnstiles, so we don't count people." Even some corporate sponsors, which prop up most racing leagues with needed cash, are shying away from the pricey suites. "One of our long-terms corporate clients just came off the most profitable year in their history, yet they have cut in half their ticket orders for all the events," George said. "They're being challenged at the very highest level to improve the bottom line."......."It hasn't been the same since the split." That's been a common refrain at the track ever since CART left in 1996. Former Indy winners such as Al Unser Jr., Emerson Fittipaldi and Bobby Rahal left for CART while the Indy 500 went on as planned with fields of largely unknown drivers. George even guaranteed 25 of the 33 spots in the field to members of his then-fledgling series. The split "was kind of like the baseball strike" of 1994, angering and confusing fans, said Miller, a former writer for The Indianapolis Star. "I'm starting to think it's never going to recover."

5/22/03

Toyota in the wind   We wonder how Ford, Dodge, Pontiac and Chevy are going to feel when Toyota puts up big money and steals their best Winston Cup teams away.  According to Charlotte area sources, the Toyota factory folks are busy booking time at the Lockheed wind tunnel for 2004. How much time? According to TFR's sources every bit of it that they can get,” so much so that if the non-Toyota teams aren't careful they could get shut out of the Marietta, Ga. based facility. "That's the way they work," said one team official, who dealt with Toyota in Championship Auto Racing Teams. "They're not afraid to spend their money." Team Ford Racing

5/22/03
Industry News

Andrew Craig in London Olympic bid   According to Sportsbusiness.com, former ISL and CART executive Andrew Craig has emerged as a leading contender for the position of chief executive of London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. Sources close to the bid say Craig's well-respected work on the Olympic TOP program of premier sponsors when he worked with then-Olympic marketing partners the IOC, has put him in the frame for the job.

5/22/03

Sponsor steps up to back Sarah rest of year   GMAC joined AOL Broadband and Raybestos to back Sarah Fisher's participation in the final 13 races of the 2003 IRL season. Exact terms of the deal were not released, but it's believed to be worth between $250,000-$500,000 according to the Indy Star [Editor's Note: Since when is that enough to do 13 races in the IRL unless Tony George is funding the rest behind the scenes]. Fisher, 22, had been working off an unnerving race-to-race plan that wasn't doing her undermanned team any favors. She had different lead sponsors at the IRL's first three races this season, each arranged just days before the event. "We were sick of not knowing (about participation)," Fisher said during Community Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "To know what we've got as a budget is going to be a lot better for all of us -- the mechanics, the engineers and myself."

5/22/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Ferrari Blame Fuel Rig For Fire
Old McLaren Quicker Than New
Testing In Spain And Italy
'So Far, So Good' For MP4-18
DC Lauds 'Great Looking' MP4-18
Williams To Appoint New Staff
FIA Won't Ban Refueling
Minardi End Gazprom Deal
Jaguar Foot Blame For Stop-Go
Radical Corner At Chinese Track
Sir Frank Won't Sell Team
Villeneuve Targets 'Top Four'
Montoya 'Not Angry' After Failure
Renault Charge To Monaco Glory
McLaren Happy Despite Glitches
Jordan, Sauber, Eye Cheap Mercedes'

5/21/03

SPEED Channel to shadow Robby Gordon  From the outside pole at the famed Brickyard to the final lap at Lowe's Motor Speedway, SPEED Channel will live up to its slogan "No One Gets You Closer," when the network follows NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Robby Gordon on his 1,100-mile Memorial Day weekend quest to compete in the Indy 500 and Charlotte's Coca Cola 600 - on the same day. SPEED Channel will have unlimited access to Gordon throughout the day, even accompanying the multi-talented driver on the jet ride between events. In addition, SPEED Channel has been documenting Gordon's preparation for both events, recording everything from his initial practice sessions at Indy to his efforts in The Winston Open last week. The footage, along with highlights from Gordon's three previous doubles, will be compiled into a one-hour SPEED Channel special to be aired Wed., May 28 at 7 p.m. ET. "When you think of Robby Gordon, one of the words that pop into mind is 'extreme' and you certainly don't get more extreme than 1,100 miles of some of the toughest racing in the world in a single day," said Rick Miner, SPEED Channel's Senior VP Programming/Production and Executive Producer. "Robby has granted SPEED unprecedented access, not only to his on-track performance, but to his every moment leading up to and throughout both events. We were with him when he landed a spot on the front row for Indy and we will be with him on the helicopter ride from Concord Regional Airport to Lowe's Motor Speedway."

5/21/03

Fittipaldi lands 3-race deal  Christian Fittipaldi, nephew of open-wheel legend Emerson Fittipaldi, will attempt to qualify a Petty Enterprises #44 Dodge in three upcoming events, via sponsorship from Bugles. The car will have a Sam Bass-designed Bugles paint scheme. The car will be entered in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, the EA Sports 500 at Talladega, and the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The agreement also includes Bugles sponsorship of the #44 Dodge for a race early in the 2004 season.  NASCAR PR

5/21/03

Ganassi team fined $10,000 for infraction  The No. 40 Dodge team of Sterling Marlin was fined $10,000 by NASCAR on Wednesday for rules infractions incurred at The Winston all-star event last Saturday. Lee McCall, Marlin's crew chief, drew the fine for an improperly attached weight that was found by NASCAR inspectors during pre-race qualifying inspections.

5/21/03

Writer slams Michael Andretti   This article by Kate Shaw really slams Michael Andretti, somewhat unjustly.  While Andretti did turn his back on CART and kick them while they were down, to portray him as a completely fan unfriendly person is simply not fair.  When Michael is at the race track he is all business, very serious.  Many people took that to be he hated the fans because he hardly smiled.  Simply not true.  He had his reasons for doing what he did.  It's a free country and anyone is allowed to burn their bridges behind them if they so choose.

5/21/03

Indy Pit Stop competition Thursday   Twelve of the fastest pit crews in motorsports will challenge for bragging rights May 22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: the first-place trophy and $30,000 winner’s check for the 27th annual Checkers/Rally’s Pit Stop Challenge. Since 1977, the Checkers/Rally’s Pit Stop Challenge has paired the finest pit crews and drivers – including 10 Indianapolis 500 winners – in exciting head-to-head competition to determine the fastest pit crew at Indy for the year. The 2003 grid will showcase many of the finest teams and most popular drivers in the IRL IndyCar Series as they compete for an $80,000 purse. Ten of the 12 drivers taking part have won an IndyCar Series race. But the two winless drivers still have plenty of star power: open-wheel racing legend Michael Andretti and rising star Buddy Rice. The 2003 Checkers/Rally’s Pit Stop Challenge at 1:30 p.m. (EST, Indy time) as part of Miller Lite Carb Day activities and will be televised live on ESPN2. First-round pairings:

  • ·No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Robbie Buhl) vs. No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing (Buddy Rice).

  • ·No. 31 Kelley Racing (Al Unser Jr.) vs. No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon).

  • ·No. 15 Team Rahal (Kenny Brack) vs. No. 8 Kelley Racing (Scott Sharp).

  • ·No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Tomas Scheckter) vs. No. 21 Mo Nunn Racing (Felipe Giaffone).

Teams that received a first-round bye and will compete in Round Two are: No. 7 Andretti Green Racing (Michael Andretti); No. 4 Panther Racing (Sam Hornish Jr.); No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske (Helio Castroneves); and No. 11 Andretti Green Racing (Tony Kanaan). The Checkers/Rally’s Pit Stop Challenge involves a four-round format. Eight teams go head to head, two at a time, in Round One. Four teams get a bye in the first round and take on the Round One winners in the second round. In each round, the team must change all four tires and make a simulated fuel hose connection to the car’s fuel tank for a minimum of three seconds. The winner in each round is determined by the fastest time, and the onus is on crews to complete the stop without a rules infraction as time penalties can make the difference between victory and elimination. In 2002, the Marlboro Team Penske crew of Helio Castroneves won the competition, delivering Penske Racing its record seventh Checkers/Rally’s Pit Stop Challenge victory. Three days later, Castroneves won his second consecutive Indianapolis 500, a record 12th for Penske Racing. The pit stop competition is part of a full and exciting day of activities during Miller Lite Carb Day on May 22 at the Speedway. Final practice for the 33 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race competitors takes place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (EST), the Checker’s/Rally’s Pit Stop Challenge gets underway at 1:30 p.m., and the Miller Lite Carb Day Concert starts at 3:30 p.m. 1999 Indy winner Kenny Brack and his band, Kenny Brack and the Subwoofers, is the opening act for the concert, and Virgin Music recording artists Cracker will headline the show. Admission is $10, with children 5 and under free. All Miller Lite Carb Day activities are included in the ticket price.

5/21/03

CART races reach 9 million TV audience per race  The strength of the worldwide television package put together for the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford is paying off in the first quarter of the season as the first five races have drawn an average viewership of over nine million people. Led by strong coverage in the United States with SPEED Channel and CBS Sports, 27 worldwide outlets in 152 countries carry either live, tape-delayed or extensive highlight packages of each CART Champ Car event. The outlets are combining to carry a per-event average of 64 hours of worldwide race and qualifying coverage. To date, the March 23 Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Herdez has been the most-watched race of the year, drawing a reported 10,414,469 viewers across the globe. The numbers are reported in terms of viewers by many foreign broadcasters and the household numbers usually reported by U.S.-based outlets have been converted to viewers for the purpose of comparison. “These television numbers are very encouraging and back up our message to teams, sponsors and partners that we provide a unique marketing opportunity for companies around the world,” said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. “But we must continue to build on these numbers and increase our coverage. The numbers show that the demand is there for our series and we plan to build on this solid foundation to consistently deliver our series message to a worldwide audience.” Brazil viewership has consistently been the strongest of any nation through the first five races with Rede TV numbers averaging 2.85 million peak-hour viewers per event. Latin America, through Fox Sports International and ESPN International’s coverage on RPM Semanal has been a strong region as has South Korea with SBS Sports, Australia with Network 10 and Mexico with TV Azteca. Eurosport broadcast numbers for the events in Brands Hatch and EuroSpeedway are yet to be reported, but the European network did report nearly a half-million viewers for the Round 3 Champ Car event in Long Beach. Stateside, CBS Sports has drawn an increased audience in its first three broadcasts of the year, with the German 500 broadcast on May 11 drawing over a million households – which equates to a season-high 1.3 million viewers. CBS Sports will broadcast five more Champ Car events during the 2003 season, showing upcoming races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Portland, Cleveland, Toronto and Miami. The next Champ Car World Series event will take place with the historic The Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 Presented by Miller Lite where the open-wheel series will run at night on the 1.032-mile oval for the first time ever. Live qualifying coverage on Friday, May 30 begins on SPEED Channel at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time with Saturday night’s live race coverage on SPEED Channel beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern.

5/21/03

CART stock watch 

MPH closed at $2.81 Down $0.30 on Volume of 105,500 shares.
$2.14 Bid - $3.12 Ask on close.
Session Low/High $2.77/$3.07
MPH Value Change Down 9.65%
DOW Jones Up 25.07 or 0.30% on Volume of 1.79 billion shares.
NASDAQ Down 1.22 or 0.08%
S&P 500 Up 3.69 or 0.4%
Courtesy of C3I.AndersonGroupe - Chicago

5/21/03

Orsi in return appearance to Toyota Atlantics Series    Minden, Nev.-based Sierra Sierra Enterprises announced today that 2001 CART Toyota Atlantic champion Hoover Orsi will replace Canadian Marc DeVellis and drive the team's #7 Pro-Works Toyota/Swift at the upcoming Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 Presented by Miller Lite on Saturday, May 31 (SPEED Channel, 6/1, 9:00 p.m. ET). Orsi, the winner of five races en route to the 2001 championship including the event at The Milwaukee Mile, was selected to replace DeVellis based on his past history in the series as well as his prowess on oval circuits. Two of the Brazilian's five career Toyota Atlantic victories have come on oval circuits, as he won from the pole position at Chicago Motor Speedway in 2001 as well as the '01 Milwaukee race. "We're thrilled to welcome a driver as talented as Hoover Orsi to the team for the Milwaukee race, and we're fortunate that a driver with Hoover's ability is available," said Sierra Sierra Enterprises team manager, Richard Raeder. "This decision was difficult for our team, as we believe Marc DeVellis is extremely talented and we enjoy working with him. However, we just felt that our best opportunity to compete for the victory in Milwaukee was by going with Hoover based on what he has done in the past. We are confident that Hoover will have little difficulty getting up to speed when we get on-track in Milwaukee." The 25-year-old driver from Sao Paulo, Brazil returns to the series for the first time since he finished third in the 2001 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to cap his championship season. In addition to his five career Toyota Atlantic race victories, Orsi has qualified on the pole position in four Toyota Atlantic races, and has finished on the podium a total of 14 times in 24 career Toyota Atlantic starts, including 11 podiums in the 12-race 2001 season. Prior to entering Atlantic competition in 2000, Orsi won the 1999 South American Formula 3 Championship in the Class A division with four victories, five second place results, and three third place finishes. "It will be great to see Hoover back behind the wheel of a Toyota Atlantic machine at Milwaukee," said CART Toyota Atlantic Championship president, Vicki O'Connor. "Clearly, he is one of the most talented drivers ever to compete in our series, and I can't wait to see him battling wheel-to-wheel with the other fierce competitors that we've got in the series this year. I expect the race to be thrilling, and there's little doubt that Hoover will be right there in the middle of it all."

5/21/03

Indy 500, a pathetic paradox   This Nuvo article by a Robin Miller (we do not know if it is the same Robin Miller of ESPN fame.  We suspect it's an imposter, but whoever it is, they really hammer the man who brings his hammer to work everyday.  Tony George says  "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” Is this an old Arab proverb or the new marketing slogan for the Indy Racing League and the few hundred people who still refuse to admit what they’re really seeing this month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?  Because, even if you’re just a tad bit realistic, you must acknowledge that the 87th Indianapolis 500 is a pathetic paradox in almost every way. Tony “We’re Right Where We Need To Be” George’s so-called “vision” is a laughable hoax that’s even left some of the IRL hardliners blinking in disbelief. There are barely enough cars for the “greatest spectacle in racing,” qualifying required four laps instead of speed, Bump Day lost its soul and the IRL’s supposed mantra was exposed as a fraud. Let’s start with the IRL’s BS premise from 1994. Because George supposedly despised CART’s engine leases, foreign manufacturers, greedy car owners, escalating costs, road racers and had concerns about preserving Indy’s integrity, he started his own series. And, in the process, killed the Indianapolis 500 by guaranteeing 25 of the 33 spots for his followers and bringing in Racin Gardner and Bronco Brad Murphey to replace Andretti, Unser, Rahal, Sullivan, Tracy and Fittipaldi.  Fast forward to May of 2003. Honda and Toyota left CART and have literally taken over the IRL. They’ve won every race so far, led almost every lap, own all but one of the top teams and are kicking Chevrolet’s behind up and down 16th Street. General Motors claims it’s coming back in 2004, but who in the hell is going to want them? Maybe Fred Treadway, Brad Calkins, Larry Cahill, 310 Racing or Curb Motorsports. Oh, that’s right: All those old IRL teams dropped out this year because they couldn’t afford the new IRL. Thirty of the 33 starters are road racers, 28 with direct ties to CART, while only three drivers came from the midget and sprint-car ranks, which George vowed to return to prominence here with his league. Young USAC stars like J.J. Yeley, Tracy Hines and Boston Reid are looking to join Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Jason Leffler in NASCAR because, obviously, there’s no place for them in the IRL unless they bring money. Or become George’s relative. Of course Donnie Beechler, a 36-time IRL starter, was at the track but couldn’t get a silver badge to get into the pits to chase a ride until the second week of practice. “They made me feel like I had never been here before,” he said.  While Beechler was treated like an outsider, the IRL can’t quit gushing about how wonderful it is to have Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, Bobby Rahal and Michael Andretti in “The League.” All those owners George hated and feared are now part of his extended family. Penske and Ganassi can’t spew enough praise on George’s vision. And some of those phony announcers who hated Juan Montoya in 2000 are now gung-ho about interviewing Tora Takagi or Scott Dixon or any number of those evil foreigners from CART. Ah, but I digress. Because of the IRL’s new cars this season and new partners, we have a more expensive IRL that is sadly short of functioning teams. The month’s top storyline was whether there would be enough cars for the traditional 11 rows of three. The IRL party line from Baghdad Bob (aka Fred Nation) is that the Enron scandal, the Lakers losing, Conseco stock, SARS, the end of Friends and chuckholes on Georgetown Road are responsible for the lack of cars in Gasoline Alley. Barnhart’s new battle cry was “quality not quantity,” which naturally played well with the IRL minions. But many old-timers and people with a true passion for what Indy means were gagging about the loss of excitement and commitment on Bump Day. Bump Day became an insult to any driver who ever hung his butt out to make the show or died trying. There were nine cars for nine spots and IMS only wanted to fill the field. It didn’t dare want to take a chance on knocking out Sarah or one of A.J.’s cars. But, hell, just because nobody got bumped didn’t mean you couldn’t enjoy all the rock and roll music being played behind the Gondola (The Star’s term for the Pagoda in a 2002 story) or blaring over the PA system. Some misguided dork with a marketing degree actually thinks Cracker is going to bring all the fans back from the mid-’90s or that “Art In Motion” (the IMS ad campaign for 2003) is somehow going to inspire new, sophisticated customers.  The only thing lamer than the IMS marketing department is CART’s, but in the name of Bill Vukovich this is the greatest racetrack in the world. PROMOTE THE DARN DRIVERS!!! Or the still-bargain prices of practice ($5) and qualifying ($10). Just as sickening to traditionalists was the Infiniti Pro Series debut this month. A handful of under-powered shit boxes droning around Indy so Tony’s stepson can get some headlines? Indy was special because it was Indy cars. What’s next, figure 8’s on opening day? It’s all too depressing. George is a 100 percent hypocrite because the IRL has morphed into CART and he didn’t give a fiddler’s f&%# about American drivers, IRL loyalty or preserving anything resembling tradition. Tom Carnegie is announcing hot dog eating contests instead of new track records. Ticket demand continues to drop, but IMS is raising prices next year. Fill Day instead of Bump Day. To quote a good friend of mine: “It’s over.” And I’m afraid it’s never coming back.

5/21/03

Stars coming out for Indy   “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” will bring out the stars as several nationally known celebrities are expected to attend the festivities surrounding the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25. Among the prominent figures expected to attend the race include well-known Hollywood stars Tim Allen, Dennis Miller and Steven Spielberg, and former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush also will be in Indianapolis on race weekend and will attend the race. Singing sensations scheduled to perform on Race Day morning are Daniel Rodriguez, Wynonna Judd, Darryl Worley and Brian McKnight. Rodriguez, a seven-year veteran of the New York City Police Department who captivated the United States with his stirring a cappella versions of “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, will sing the National Anthem prior to the start of the “500.” Motown artist McKnight and country music star Wynonna will perform on the Coca-Cola Stage in the Bombardier Pagoda Plaza. McKnight will take the stage at 9:05 a.m. (EST), with Judd at 10:20 a.m. Country music sensation Worley will sing at 10:15 a.m. from the Victory Podium. Andrew Firestone, the current bachelor on ABC’s “The Bachelor,” will attend with his new fiancée, Jen, both at the “500” and the Flagstar Bank 500 Festival Parade. “The Bachelor” wrapped up its current season on Sunday, May 18. Charlie Maher, who finished runner-up in ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” also will be at the “500.” Actor Jim Caviezel, who will portray Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson’s new movie, “The Passion,” will be in attendance. Caviezel drove the Pace Car for the 86th Indianapolis 500 last year.
CELEBRITIES ANTICIPATED TO ATTEND 87TH INDIANAPOLIS 500
Muhammad Ali (legendary boxer)
Tim Allen (actor/comedian)
Neil Boortz (national radio talk show host)
Avery Brooks (actor, “Star Trek”)
Former President George Bush
Ruth Buzzie (actress/comedian)
Jim Caviezel (actor)
Former President Bill Clinton
Bryan Cranston (actor, “Malcolm in the Middle”)
Howie D. (Backstreet Boys group)
Anthony Edwards (actor)
Andrew Firestone (“The Bachelor”)
George Hamilton (actor)
Florence Henderson (actress/singer)
Orlando Jones (actor)
Naomi Judd (singer)
Wynonna Judd (singer)
General John Keane (Vice chief of staff, U.S. Army)
Jeannette Lee (champion billiards player)
David Letterman (late-night TV icon)
Charlie Maher (“The Bachelorette”)
Peter Max (Official Indy 500 artist)
Mercy Me (Christian band)
John McGinley (actor, “Scrubs”)
Brian McKnight (singer)
Bode Miller (U.S. Olympian)
Dennis Miller (actor/comedian)
Beverley Mitchell (Actress, “7th Heaven”)
James Mungro (NFL running back)
Jim Nabors (actor/singer)
Bubba Paris (former NFL player)
Daniel Rodriguez (singer)
Ryne Sandberg (Former baseball all-star)
Steven Spielberg (filmmaker/producer)
Staind (alternative rock band)
Joe Tiller (Purdue football coach)
David Wolf (astronaut)
Darryl Worley (singer)

5/21/03

Fans tuning out at Indy    This Toronto Sun article says, If Annika Sorenstam misses the cut at the Colonial PGA tournament this weekend the loudest cheer this side of Vijay Singh will come from the offices of Indianapolis Motor Speedway boss Tony George Jr. and ABC Sports. Both already are nervous about the drop in TV ratings that has plagued the Indianapolis 500 the past two seasons.   In 2002 the Indy 500 -- once the undisputed heavyweight champion of motorsports television -- was clobbered by the ratings pulled in by NASCAR's Daytona 500. Network executives at ABC were alarmed last season when NBC's 10.2 share for the Daytona 500 was more than double the Indy numbers of a year earlier. More shocking is the 38% drop [Editor's note, it has dropped much more than 38%, it went from 10.9 to 4.8, you do the math] in TV ratings the Indy 500 has felt since 1995. To add insult to injury, George's crown jewel is no longer even the biggest TV motorsports draw on the Memorial Day weekend. That honor is now held by Winston Cup's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The programmers at ABC shelled out top dollar to carry the Indy Racing League in order to get the Indy 500. To see its numbers further eroded by Sorenstam's circus act at this week's PGA Tour stop would be like putting salt in a wound. There is another number, however, that has troubling implications for Indianapolis, and that's the lack of competitiveness by the Chevrolet-powered cars. Indy cars powered by Japanese engines have the top 17 spots on the Indy grid. Defending IRL champion Sam Hornish will start 18th in his Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet. The IRL has completed a combined 600 laps of racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. The leader board shows Toyota with 358 laps led, Honda with 242 and Chevrolet zero. Those are the numbing facts Hornish and his other Chevy-backed teams have to deal with in preparation for the 87th version of the Indy 500. Eddie Cheever Jr., the 1998 Indy 500 champion who owns Buddy Rice's Dallara/Chevrolet, went public with his frustrations as his team struggled in qualifying. He said Chevrolet may not have been ready to compete against the F-1 inspired engine technology that Toyota and Honda brought to the IRL.

5/21/03

CART guns for private, global ambitions  This Portland Tribune article says, Christopher Pook, the Championship Auto Racing Teams chief executive officer, would like to think he made some inroads in Europe. He visited with manufacturers, promoters and corporate types in Paris; London; Monte Carlo; Milan, Italy; Stuttgart and Hanover, Germany; and Switzerland. In what is the most pivotal year for CART's long-term existence, Pook is trying to persuade manufacturers to join the series in 2005, when CART will begin using petrol-powered, 3-liter V-10 engines similar to those in Formula One and on roads everywhere. Pook also wants to attract enough corporate money and interest to add races in China and South Korea, as well as a third European date. That would further globalize CART, which also has emphasized street-course racing in its business plan. Behind the scenes, negotiating continues as Formula One chairman Bernie Ecclestone considers buying a stake in CART. He would join existing team owner Gerald Forsythe, who owns 24.7 percent of CART's stock, as the series' primary owners, and the two probably would make immediate moves to privatize the company. Pook shies away from calling CART a possible "feeder series" for Formula One. Pook and Ecclestone, who worked together on the Long Beach Grand Prix, foresee CART as its own entity, especially with threats by F1 manufacturers to form their own series in 2008. Another CART official, David Clare, worked under Ecclestone in F1 for eight years and would prove to be an important figure in a CART-F1 partnership. CART, trying to rebound from near death in 2002, has a two-year agreement to run Ford Cosworth turbocharged engines, as well as Lola and Reynard chassis. Pook has abandoned plans to try to align with the Indy Racing League, going so far as to be quoted in the Long Beach Press Telegram on teams that defected to the IRL: "I wouldn't relieve myself on their brains even if they were on fire." The Champ Car series remains alive because it had about $120 million in reserve. The CART owners have opted to use cash to promote many of their events and to help car owners with engine costs. In 2002, expenses went up about $3 million, and revenues went down $13 million. Some investors say the "cash burn rate" for the company was higher than expected. Pook stands by his fledgling series, saying the total attendance in 2002 -- a record, 20-race tally of 2,686,640 -- speaks for itself.

5/21/03

Energizer sponsorship for Kanaan    Energizer has joined forces with Andretti Green Racing, beginning with this month’s activities leading up to the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500. Energizer is one of the world's largest manufacturers of dry cell batteries and flashlights and a global leader in the dynamic business of providing portable power. “We’re very excited to have Energizer on board with Andretti Green Racing,” said Kevin Savoree, who co-owns the team with Michael Andretti and Kim Green. “Energizer is a leader in its industry and is one of the most recognizable brand names in the marketplace.” The Energizer mark appears on the sides of Tony Kanaan’s Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, which will roll from the middle of the front row for Sunday’s running of the Indianapolis 500.

5/21/03

Real reason for Schumacher fire  Ferrari issued the following statement this morning regarding the fire during Schumacher's pitstop Sunday. Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro has carried out an investigation into the problems which occurred during Michael Schumacher's first stop in the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday 18th May. The results of the investigation are as follows: During Rubens Barrichello's pit stop on lap 21, a small amount of fuel remained in the breather hose of the rig, which was then used to refuel Schumacher's car two laps later. It appeared that a seal was damaged on the breather hose, so the fuel left inside it was able to escape onto the exhausts, thus starting a fire, which was further exacerbated by vapour escaping from the same hose.

5/21/03

Indy overrun by the Japanese   This ESPN.com article talks about the fierce battle between Toyota and Honda and how these two Japanese companies have completely taken over the IRL and the Indy 500.  Chevy teams are out to lunch.

5/20/03

Ex-Football players, Ganassi eye new shops  Former NFL quarterback Roger Staubach and fellow retired Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman are said to be eyeing a Concord business park for a 70,000-square-foot race shop to house the NASCAR team they're forming, called Hall of Fame Racing. Meanwhile, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and its trio of teams now based in Mooresville's Lakeside Business Park, is looking for an $11 million facility that would more than double the size of its operation, says Gene Haskett, executive vice president. Haskett recently gave a serious look at the vacant, 427,000-square-foot former Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. building, also in Mooresville, but found it too large. "We are still looking," he says. Ganassi needs about 220,000 square feet for its three Winston Cup teams -- featuring drivers Sterling Marlin, Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray.

5/20/03

Fans can win prizes at Indy   More than 19,000 Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans will win IMS merchandise and concessions thanks to the Coca-Cola “Under the Cap” promotion. Fans attending Indianapolis 500 activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 500 Festival Community Day on May 21 through Race Day on May 25 and the Brickyard 400 from Aug. 1-3 can win prizes by purchasing a 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola Classic from any concession stand on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Fans need simply to remove the cap from their bottle of Coca-Cola and check under the cap to find out if they’ve won prizes such as event hats, key chains and decals or IMS concessions such as Indy Dogs (hot dogs) or a free 20-ounce Coca-Cola Classic. Two grand prize-winning Coca-Cola bottle caps will provide two fans with the ultimate Indy experience: two tickets to Victory Lane celebrations at the conclusion of the 87th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and the 10th Brickyard 400. “With the odds of winning a prize at one in six, Coca-Cola is going to make a lot of Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans very happy … more than 19,000, in fact,” said Joie Chitwood, senior vice president of business affairs for IMS. “We thank our partners at Coca-Cola for joining us in such an exciting promotion. It gives us a unique avenue for rewarding our loyal fans.” The Speedway’s “Under the Cap” promotion is unique in that it is the only such promotion that is taking place entirely within a single sports facility.

5/20/03

Posey to be Grand Marshal at Lime Rock   Former driver and Connecticut native Sam Posey has been named Honorary Grand Marshal for the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup race, scheduled for Monday, May 26, at Lime Rock Park. No one has more of an affinity or personal attachment to Lime Rock Park than Posey. He won the Trans-Am Series race here from the pole in 1969 in a Ford Mustang. He is also responsible for designing many of the buildings at Lime Rock, including the control tower. Posey, who grew up just five miles from Lime Rock Park, was also the first driver to break the one-minute mark at the 1.53-mile, eight-turn road course. That feat was accomplished in 1967, in a McLaren he owned. Adding to his Trans-Am Series experience, Posey has competed in Formula One, Can-Am, Indy 500, IMSA, Formula 5000 and at Le Mans. “It’s great to see the Trans-Am Series coming home to Lime Rock, where it’s always had a special relationship with the track and the fans,” said Posey. “It’s particularly good to know that this year is going to be the most competitive race in recent history. “Lime Rock brings out much closer racing than other places,” added Posey. “You don’t have a tight turn separated by long straights. Lime Rock has fast turns, so you’re coming through the turn at the same speed and there’s a lot of close racing.”  The Series is pleased to welcome Posey back to the Series. Posey competed from the Series’ inaugural year in 1966 until 1974. In all, Posey has three Trans-Am Series victories, 18 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes in 31 starts. “Sam Posey competed with the likes of Mark Donohue, Parnelli Jones and many other legendary drivers, making him a significant part of the Trans-Am Series legend,” said Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett. “Sam is also a part of the legend that is Lime Rock Park, and has helped make motorsports great, not only through his achievements on the track, but with his dedication to excellence in the broadcast booth and to the community in which he grew up. “We are honored and privileged to have Sam as our Grand Marshal,” added Clagett.

5/20/03

Wheldon tests at TMS   Rain at a speedway usually dampens the spirits of drivers and teams. Not so for Dan Wheldon. All-day showers at Texas Motor Speedway Tuesday cut short a planned two-day test session for Wheldon and Andretti-Green Racing preparing for the June 7 Bombardier 500k. This didn’t phase Wheldon who was most optimistic about his chances at “The Great American Speedway” as well as Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. Wheldon’s test at Texas amounted to day and evening runs Monday. It served as the final tune-up for the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series race June 7. Wheldon is ready in his Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda. “It’s a track I enjoy, certainly a different discipline,” said Wheldon. “I think it is an area (high-banked superspeedways) where my experience level needs to be improved. I think I have some to learn. When we come back, I’m sure we will have a good car.” Wheldon is excited about his prospects in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 where he will start in the middle of the second row in fifth position. “It’s good, very, very good,” commented the English-born Wheldon. “Andretti-Green Racing has done a fantastic job. I think the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew has worked very hard as have all of our crews. You have seen four cars run this month without a hitch and run very competitive. “We are expecting good things for the race. It’s going to be a long race. We are going to play it nice and safe to start with and see what happens. I don’t think you want to be too safe because you don’t want to be shoved out in the marbles. We will run around for the first 400 miles, position ourselves well in the last 100. I’m looking forward to it, definitely!”

5/20/03

Feud continues, CART pulls speakers out of summit   This AP article says, CART and the Indy Racing League can't stop feuding. Three of five CART panelists withdrew Tuesday from a two-day open-wheel racing summit after questioning the forum's objectivity. CART officials were also put off by the location, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is owned by Tony George's family. George was the founder of the Indy Racing League and the key player in the CART-IRL split in 1996. "There's a reason political summits are held in places like Geneva or Iceland, and that's because of neutrality,'' CART spokesman Adam Saal said. The two-day discussion was focused on improving the image of open-wheel racing amid a poor economy and the rapid growth in popularity of NASCAR. Topics included how to attract more sponsors and fans as well as increasing television viewership. CART officials attended last year's discussion and were prepared to send several panelists, including president and CEO Chris Pook, when the tentative itinerary was scheduled in January. Initially, Pook was to headline a panel with CART officials called ``Charting A New Course.'' He was taken off the agenda in February. Executive vice president Fred Nation said the IRL also anticipated having its own panel, which followed last year's format. Nation said those plans were scrapped because organizers wanted more panel discussions rather than ``sales pitches.'' ``They wanted Chris Pook to be part of the event and they were told Tony George would not be part of the conference,'' said summit director Rob Berlinger. ``We decided we wouldn't have Chris Pook here as well.'' Berlinger works for Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal, which put on the event. Two CART panelists -- chief operating officer David Clare and vice president John Lopes -- were to speak Tuesday. Vicki O'Connor, president of the CART-owned Toyota Atlantic series, was to participate Wednesday.  CART officials told organizers Monday afternoon those three would attend. CART doctors Terry Trammell and Steve Olvey are scheduled to take part in Wednesday's discussion about safety improvements. Saal said CART became more concerned with the summit because of comments made during this month's practice and qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. ``It did appear to be an unobjective and unfair environment,'' he said. The summit's location was another issue. Last year, the first day was held at a downtown hotel, the second session at the speedway. This year the entire summit was inside the speedway's media center. ``If that was an issue, somebody should have thought of it before the night before,'' Nation said. ``At the end of the day, this is a blip on the screen.'' Berlinger said CART had discussed its concerns early on but still expected series officials to take part in the summit. Saal also said CART has been holding its own town hall meetings at many of its race venues. The next one is scheduled for June 2 in Cleveland, where the Cleveland Grand Prix is scheduled July 5. CART, however, missed an opportunity to address a large media contingent in Indianapolis for Sunday's Indianapolis 500. ``If we felt we were walking into a fair and open forum, we'd participate,'' Saal said. Organizers of the summit called CART's decision a surprise. ``I think it makes a difference to the people who paid to be here to hear about a broad range of views in open-wheel racing,'' Nation said. ``I think the participants who are here will hear many valuable viewpoints.''

5/20/03

Tony George is engineering Indy's demise   UPDATE A reader responds, Finally, a reporter with the nerve (I would use a stronger term if I could) to tell the truth. Thank God he doesn't work for the Indy Star and then he would have to lie. I am so sick of the Indy Star reporters spewing the lies and garbage that comes out of the mouths of Tony George, Penske, Ganassi, Andretti and Barnhart. Everyone in racing knows that you can't believe anything written in the Indy Star about open wheel racing. Does Tony George own the Indy Star or are all the reporters afraid of being "Robin Millered" if they report the facts? Tony George has ruined the Indy 500. There is no doubt about it. He wanted to be famous but instead he will live in infamy, as the person who ruined a once great tradition. His grandfather must be rolling over in his grave. Tony George is nothing but a disgrace. M. Marshall, Chicago, IL  Dear Ms. Marshall, we would not classify Tony George as a disgrace.  He did what in his mind he thought was right.  Most people don't agree with him, and history has shown that it was probably a very big mistake, one that may eventually kill the sport entirely, but this is America, and he has a right to do what he did, just as the fans have a right not to buy race tickets if they choose to boycott.  We may not like what he did, but Bill France and NASCAR are laughing all the way to the bank.  He played right into their hands and never saw it coming.  Well now the NASCAR locomotive is going to steam right over his IRL series and there is nothing he can do about it.  He won't miss it this time. Unfortunately it's too late.  He killed it.  Mark C. 5/20/03 - This St. Joseph News Press article says, Let’s just say it right away. Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and IRL mastermind Tony George is a joke. A bad joke. A joke who’s running open-wheel racing into history’s dust bin with one bad idea after another. Want to know how I really feel? Just look at the circus unfolding today at Indianapolis. Today’s Bump Day, a great day, a day when drivers and race teams usually struggle to become part of the 33-car Indy 500 grid. Not this year. No struggle is anticipated, no drama or tension or tears from a driver who can’t quite make the field. No. This year is different. Much different. As of Saturday morning, only 33 driver-car combinations were on the official entry list. Twenty-four already qualified last weekend, leaving nine spots for the taking. The problem? Indy teams have struggled to find nine more cars to enter. Sure, there are more than nine cars constructed with the ability to run what used to be “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Teams just can’t find the money to run them. Sponsorship dollars thin. Interest wanes. The demand just doesn’t meet the supply anymore. These problems are courtesy of Tony George. OK, I admit, George is an easy target in all of this. He’s the man on top, the big wheel, the high-profile personality. But he’s the right target. His management — or lack thereof — of open-wheel racing has led to all of this. It starts with his formation of the Indy Racing League in the mid-1990s. Not only did it create a deep fissure in American open-wheel racing — the top teams and drivers boycotted the series and the Indy 500 for years — it ripped the spirit right out of the sport. I know, I know, Penske is back, the Andrettis are back, Bobby Rahal is back. But their prodigal relationship with The Brickyard isn’t what really diminished the 500. It was George’s IRL vision. When he started the series, he wanted cheaper cars and American drivers competing in an open-wheel version of NASCAR. Trouble is, Indy fans don’t want to see another version of NASCAR. If they want to watch NASCAR racing, they’ll watch NASCAR, not the IRL. George hasn’t gotten the point, despite low attendance and TV ratings for races outside of Indianapolis (the Kansas Speedway race is one of the few that ever draws a major crowd). Moreover, George’s NASCAR-like vision robbed the Indy 500 of its pioneering spirit, the spirit that once made it the world’s greatest race. The cars became too cheap and too slow to push the boundaries of speed and endurance. Quite frankly, folks, that’s what always drew the nation’s spotlight to Indy. When fans watched the 500, they saw 33 cars and drivers flirt with the outer limits of possibility. They weren’t watching for the wheel-to-wheel racing or photo finishes (although they were pleased when it happened). In short, fans knew Indianapolis stood for something. It was the testing ground for new engines, new chassis and new drivers, combinations that broke track records nearly every year. It’s not that way anymore. And until George brings that spirit back, the Indianapolis 500 will continue sinking into obscurity. And that’s a shame.

5/20/03

Paul Newman enters Trans-Am race   The year was 1966. The Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup, then called the Trans-American Sedan Championship, was in its first year of competition. Actor Paul Newman walked on the scene, and the making of two legends began. Newman competed in one Trans-Am Series race that year, co-driving with Brock Yates, and finished 12th in the Under Two Liter Class at Virginia International Raceway. That legend will continue Monday, May 26, at Lime Rock Park, as Newman, along with teammate Michael Brockman, will return to Trans-Am Series competition. Newman will drive the No. 78 Chevrolet Corvette, which Butch Leitzinger drove to two victories, and earned the Rookie of the Year title last season. Brockman will drive the No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro. Newman has a storied history at Lime Rock. Of his five Trans-Am Series victories, two have come at the 1.53-mile, eight-turn permanent road course. In all, the Connecticut native has 14 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes in 68 Trans-Am Series starts. Newman is never one to mince words, and was quick to point out his motivation for racing at Lime Rock this year. “I’m trying to maintain a pulse,” quipped Newman. Along with his Trans-Am Series achievements, Newman has four SCCA national titles at the Valvoline Runoffs, SCCA’s National Championship race. Newman earned his first of his SCCA titles in 1976 in the D-Production class. He also won championships in the 1979 C-Production class and earned the title in GT-1 class in 1985 and 1986. Newman finished ninth in last year’s Runoffs, in the GT-1 class, driving a Rocketsports Jaguar XKR. Along with his affinity for sports car racing, Newman has competed in stock cars, and is currently co-owner with Carl Haas of Newman/Haas Racing’s Champ Car World Series team. Brockman is no stranger to Trans-Am Series competition. Brockman finished seventh in his sole Trans-Am Series start in 1969 at Watkins Glen in a Camaro. Brockman has teamed with Newman on several occasions in races such as the Rolex 24 at Daytona and he competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2000. His Lime Rock experience includes racing a Lotus Turbo Esprit in the Supercar Series and in IMSA Camel Lights.

5/20/03

Associate sponsor renews for Miami race   Southern Wine & Spirits returns as an exclusive partner with the Grand Prix Americas, Downtown Miami’s premier auto street race taking place September 26-28, 2003, announced Chuck M. Martinez, president and general manager, Grand Prix Americas. Southern Wine & Spirits will supply the wine and spirits for The Club as well as the Grand Prix Americas Foundation “Magic in Miami” Charity Ball taking place on Thursday, September 25, 2003. “Southern Wine and Spirits is thrilled to once again support the Grand Prix Americas and all the excitement that it brings to Downtown Miami,” Richard Booth, vice-president and general manager, Southern Wine & Spirits of South Florida. “The inaugural race was a wonderful event, and it made perfect sense for us to partner with them again. Founded in 1968, Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc., is the single largest distributor of wine, spirits, beer and other non-alcoholic beverages in the United States. Today, Southern Wine & Spirits of America operates in 11 states, including its original Florida market, where its corporate headquarters is located in Miami.

5/20/03

ESPN to distribute Indy 500 broadcast worldwide   ESPN will distribute the Indianapolis 500, the world’s most prestigious auto race, to the largest worldwide television audience in the 87-year history of the event, it was announced May 20 by Mark S. Reilly, ESPN’s vice president and general manager of international sales. The green flag will fall on the 33-car starting field of the Indianapolis 500 at noon (EDT) May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ESPN, which is the exclusive worldwide television representative of the Indy Racing League’s IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, will televise the Indianapolis 500 live to more than 140 countries and territories outside of the United States via its affiliated networks in Africa, Asia, Australia, Latin America, New Zealand and the Middle East. ESPN also is responsible for the global syndication of the Indy 500 for broadcast in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom. In addition, ESPN has reached an agreement with Eurosport, the most widely available channel in Europe, reaching more than 95 million homes and 250 million viewers in 54 countries, to televise the Indianapolis 500 on same-day delay. In the United States, the Indianapolis 500 will be telecast live to a nationwide audience on Disney-owned ABC. When combined with ESPN’s international distribution efforts, the estimated worldwide total for the Indianapolis 500 will exceed more than 200 countries and 325 million households worldwide for the second consecutive year.

5/20/03

Indy 500 tickets on eBay   A reader writes, Dear AR1, Not only is the Speedway stuck with tickets for the 500, so are about 181 (matching items) others on Ebay. Please note that this 181 number are for two or more tickets and a majority haven't even got a bid on them even when priced below face value. It's pathetic what this event has fallen to, I went to my first in 94 and got tickets from a neighbor who had been on the "waiting list" for 9 years. 7 years later and they're a dime a dozen. Hell, they can't give them away!   Dan Kellione

5/20/03

New McLaren to debut tomorrow  The Team McLaren Mercedes MP4-18 Formula One car will make its testing debut on Wednesday 21st May 2003 at the Paul Ricard circuit, in the South of France. Third Driver Alexander Wurz will drive the MP4-18 during the course of the three-day test session. The details of the race introduction of the new car will be confirmed at a later date once the car has fulfilled the team’s expectations with regard to reliability and speed. The Paul Ricard test will also see Team McLaren Mercedes drivers David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen continue the development of the 17-D together with test driver Pedro de la Rosa. The MP4-18 incorporates a number of visible differences. These include a shorter and lower nose, a more tightly packaged rear and a slight dorsal fin shaping to the engine cover. In addition the new Mercedes-Benz engine, the FO 110P V10, has been lowered within the car, producing centre of gravity benefits. The MP4-18’s program at the Paul Ricard test will see the team focusing on systems, aerodynamic and components evaluation. After the first test, the Team McLaren Mercedes team will continue the car’s development schedule and once the initial program has been completed, David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen will take over.

5/20/03

Andretti team picks up yet another sponsor   Tony Kanaan’s #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone has received additional sponsorship backing from Kraft as an associate sponsor. Kraft markets many of the world's leading food brands, including Kraft cheese, Maxwell House and Jacobs coffees, Nabisco cookies and crackers, Philadelphia cream cheese, Oscar Mayer meats, Post cereals and Milka chocolates, in more than 150 countries. The Kraft brand marks of Altoids, Oreo Cookies, Planter’s Peanuts and Oscar Mayer are featured on Kanaan’s IRL IndyCar Series machine. “The addition of Kraft to the Andretti Green Racing operation is great news,” said Kevin Savoree, who co-owns the team with Michael Andretti and Kim Green. “Hopefully, we can provide them with a proper introduction to the sport by giving them an Indy 500 victory on Sunday.”

5/20/03

Is Foyt ready for Indy?   CART pulled Shigeaki Hattori's license when he crashed a lot.  The IRL has pulled the license for other drivers who have crashed far less than AJ Foyt IV, yet because he is AJ's grandson, the IRL turns the other cheek.  A double standard so-to-speak.  This Indy Star article talks about this topic.

5/20/03

Hornaday to standby for Gordon  Ron Hornaday said that Richard Childress asked him to fill in for Robby Gordon if for some reason he doesn't get back from Indy in time for the race. Hornaday got fitted for the seat today and will hang out with the team and get ready just in case. Gordon will be attempting to run the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday. XM Satellite- NASCAR Radio

5/20/03

Penske Racing on Junkyard Wars  Junkyard Wars, the television show on The Learning Channel, will air a contest recorded after the 2002 racing season ended. The 'war' was between the Penske Racing NASCAR Team, the Penske Racing IRL Team, and Don Prudhomme's drag racing team. The show will air on Sunday, May 25th from 9:00-11:00pm/et (re-air dates/times: May 26, 12:00mid/et; May 28, 9:00pm/et; May 29, 12:00mid/et and June 1st at 6:00pm/et).  From their website: They don't speak to each other” much less compete in the same race! But Junkyard Wars has done the impossible. Never before have the three main auto-racing sports competed against each other on such a uniquely level playing field. It's a tough challenge, but the three car-crazy teams are up to it. The teams must build a vehicle from the ground up, from only junkyard parts, and then compete against one another on three courses: a drag strip, twisting road track and half-mile oval, all to win Junkyard Mega-Wars' Triple Track Trophy. The Triple Track Challenge was held at Irwindale Speedway in California. For each of the three challenge stages, a different driver was at the controls. The junkyard race cars will be tested on acceleration, maneuverability and overall racing performance. The first race was held on the 1/8-mile-long drag strip and the teams went for the fastest time from a standing start to the finish line. Next, the cars tackled a tricky figure-8 course in which they had to navigate their way around various cones. Finally, the teams took on the banked 1/3-mile oval circuit. Each car completes 10 laps. The fastest 10-lap time will win this stage. A combined score for all three events will determine the Triple Track Trophy winner. Keeping an eye on the proceedings is veteran dragster driver and builder Pat Foster, who lends his expertise as judge. Tyler and Karyn are also joined by former host Cathy Rogers to make the occasion special. This one-of-a-kind event will bring auto-racing's "backroom boys,"  "the brains and muscle behind racing heroes," into the spotlight. But these teams are no strangers to success: they've put drivers like Rusty Wallace, Larry Dixon and Helio Castroneves into the winner's circle.

5/20/03

Circle K leaving NASCAR  On Wednesday, a series of television and radio commercials developed by Dailey & Associates of West Hollywood, Calif., will mark the move of Circle K convenience stores in a new marketing direction, company officials said. "With our NASCAR sponsorship ending this year, we are transitioning away from our positioning as The Official Pit Stop of NASCAR," said Kathleen Grodsky, director of retail advertising and brand management for ConocoPhillips, Circle K's parent company. "We were excited by the challenge of repositioning the brand. Our new tagline "What else do you need?" addresses both our selection and services and can be implemented operationally and across all consumer and internal communications," said Grodsky. MotorsportsTV

5/20/03

Irvine tells Jag to sack Pizzonia  Eddie Irvine has told his old team once again to sack driver Antonio Pizzonia. Irvine, whose contract with the Jaguar team was not renewed after the end of last season insists that Jaguar has made the wrong decision to keep the young Brazilian after the controversy of the Spanish Grand Prix where it seemed almost certain Pizzonia would be replaced before the next race. "If your driver is not performing well for their first four races then why would you suddenly want to keep him for the rest of the season?" Irvine asked The Sun newspaper. "Pizzonia will only delay the team in making progress." "A team needs two drivers in order to bring it forwards," he added. "Jaguar should have got Justin Wilson into the team."

5/20/03
Industry News

Brands announces yet another new hire   Financially troubled Brands Hatch Circuits Ltd - formerly Octagon Motorsports - has appointed a new marketing executive to handle corporate hospitality and business sales. Dirk Kelly's remit will include developing and implementing the business-to-business and corporate hospitality marketing strategies at the five circuits owned by the group, particularly for the key events such as British Grand Prix, World Superbikes and private track days. Kelly will report to group marketing manager Alasdair Farrimond. Said Farrimond: “Dirk’s appointment is a valuable addition to my team. A key part of the group’s portfolio is our business-to-business division and Dirk’s experience in this area will ensure that we can deliver comprehensive and well-executed campaigns.”

5/20/03

Hornish signs deal   Management and marketing firm Sports Management Network Inc (SMN) has brokered a deal between its client - IndyCar racing champion Sam Hornish Jr and Swiss watch firm Maurice Lacroix. Said Maurice Lacroix USA president Bob Siragusa: “His outstanding accomplishments on the race track speak for themselves. Off the track, we believe Sam will be an excellent spokesman for our products.” Hornish will be featured in print and internet advertising as well as collateral materials. Additionally, Hornish will be making personal appearances and participating in public relations efforts on behalf of Maurice Lacroix.

5/20/03

Jarrett's team signs hotel deal  NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett's racing team has signed a sponsorship deal with Six Continents Hotels.   The deal will see the hotel chain utilize the Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure team during its reward scheme this year. Said Jarrett: "We are extremely excited about this project, as it is our second major sponsorship deal in as many months for the Racing Adventure this year. "Sponsorships have become a major profit centre for the company as we progress through our growth stages."

5/20/03

Museum in Elliott's hometown floundering  When Thunder Road USA (www.thunderroadusa.com) opened last year, many envisioned an economic windfall for this small northeast Georgia town known for breeding NASCAR winners. The $12 million, 40,000-square-foot auto racing museum was expected to attract up to 250,000 visitors a year, generate hundreds of jobs and increase sales tax revenues. One year later, Thunder Road USA is struggling with $10 million in debt and poor attendance. Only about 48,000 visitors came to the museum last year, forcing staff cutbacks and shorter operating hours. Officials are now considering plans to sell nearby land to help pay off its debt. General manager Tom French said they may also try staging live music and targeting corporate meetings and birthday parties. The museum, which includes Georgia's racing hall of fame, features memorials to NASCAR's racing greats, interactive games, a track for remote-controlled cars, racing simulators, a theater, gift shop and diner. Museum board member Russ Wallace said it's still the pride of Dawsonville, home to NASCAR greats Bill Elliott, Gober Sosebee and Lloyd Seay. Wallace said he is confident the museum will rebound financially in the coming months and denied talk that it will close down. Charlotte Observer/AP

5/20/03

Indy Bump Day TV ratings   A solid NBA audience (4.8) as a lead-in and a later start time helped time trials for the Indy 500 score a 2.0 overnight rating and 5 share on Sunday for Bump Day Time Trials, as reported by Sports Business Daily.  It remains to be seen if this number holds in the final ratings.  Last year the final rating dropped to a 1.0, but it did not have the help of the NBA to boost the rating as this year had.

5/20/03

Da Matta disappointed with Toyota  Toyota’s Cristiano da Matta believes his team has made little progress since the beginning of the season compared to other F1 teams, hinting that performances have actually dipped since the inaugural race in Australia. Da Matta caused two aborted starts when the launch control on his Toyota failed in Austria, the stewards eventually ordering him to start from the back of the grid and turn launch control off. Although he finished the race in tenth place, da Matta said he had "drove 10 times harder than any other race this year". "At the beginning of the year, in the first few races, even though we didn't collect the results, performance-wise we were in better shape than we are now.”

5/20/03
Nissan Superfund World Series

Montagny doubles up at Magny Cours   In this F3000 series, but with more powerful engines, Franck Montagny stretched his championship lead in the Superfund World Series by Nissan with victory in both races at Magny-Cours, his 5th win in 6 races. The Gabord Competicion driver was in a class of his own in the first race, which was held in treacherous wet conditions, passing pole sitter Bruce Jouanny at the Adelaide hairpin on the first lap before disappearing into the lead to take the flag 41 seconds ahead of the chasing pack! From sixth on the grid Montagny had to work harder to win race two, but it took just five laps for him to take the lead on the now predominantly dry track. The Frenchman also set the fastest lap in both races, to haul a maximum 42 points from the third round of the series.

Race 1 Results:
1. F. Montagny Gabord Competición 32'59.863
2. B. Besson Salunier Racing at 41.364
3. P. Villaamil RC Motorsport at 43.940
4. J. Ravier Epsilon-Euskadi at 53.462
5. H. Kovalainen Gabord Competición at 59.284
6. B. Jouanny Tata Team Carlin at 1'00.316
7. A. Burgueño Vergani RFS at 1'01.838
8. C. Pereira RC Motorsport at 1'02.934
9. A. Vilariño Epsilon Euskadi at 1'12.554
10. P. Edwards KTR at 1'13.788
11. F. Porteiro KTR at 1'52.038
12. N. Siedler Superfund Zele-Rac. at 2'07.689
13. D. Andre Saulnier Racing 1 lap
14. M. Zangarelli GD Racing 1 lap
15. S. Porteiro Adrian Campos M. 1 lap
Fastest Lap: F. Montagny Gabord Competición 1'54.753 (138.4 km/h) Lap 11
Race 2 Results:
1 F. Montagny Gabord Competición 42'31”086
2 S  Sarrazin Racing Engineering at 16.915
3 B. Besson Salunier Racing at 18.824
4 N. Kartikheyan Tata Team Carlin at 19.684
5 B. Leinders Racing Engineering at 23.876
6 H. Kovalainen Gabord Competición at 32.385
7 P. Villaamil RC Motorsport at 45.045
8 B. Jouanny Tata Team Carlin at 45.407
9 T. Rocha Superfund Zele-Racing at 1'04.034
10 P. Edwards KTR at 1'07.217
11 D. Andre Saulnier Racing at 1'14.389
12 A. Vilariño Epsilon Euskadi at 1 lap
Fastest Lap: Franck Montagny, 1.30.170 (176.1 km/h) Lap 21

5/20/03

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