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DATE

News (chronologically)

5/29/03

Macri leads opening practice at Milwaukee  Canadian Jonathan Macri (#84 NTN), who came into the weekend looking for his first career CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race victory, got his weekend off to a solid start by turning in the fastest lap on the opening day of practice for Saturday's Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 Presented by Miller Lite. On his final lap of the day, Macri clocked a best lap of 24.902 seconds (149.193 mph), and knocked Sierra Sierra Enterprises' Ryan Dalziel (#28 Discovery Lake/Daily Record Newspaper) off the top of the time charts. As a result, Macri goes into Friday's qualifying session as the favorite to take the pole position, which would be the first of his career. However, if Thursday's practice session was any indication, virtually any driver could take the pole position in qualifying on Friday, as the entire field turned laps less than one second slower than Macri's fastest lap. Dalziel wound up second on the day with a best lap of 25.018 seconds (148.501 mph), and is looking to start inside the top three positions for the second consecutive race after qualifying third in Long Beach last month. The Scot is working with a new teammate this weekend as 2001 CART Toyota Atlantic champion and '01 Milwaukee winner Hoover Orsi (#7 Pro-Works) has joined the team for this weekend's race, and Orsi's experience at the oval no doubt helped the team get off to a good start, as both cars were inside the top-three after the first session with Orsi first and Dalziel third. However, while Dalziel was able to gain one position on the time charts in the second practice session, Orsi clocked the slowest speed of the second session, albeit just under one second slower than Macri's fastest speed. Nevertheless, the Brazilian managed to maintain fifth position on the combined time chart with a best lap of 25.107 seconds (147.975 mph) from the opening practice session. Third quickest on Thursday was rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT), who acquitted himself well on his first day on an oval track by clocking a best lap of 25.046 seconds (148.335 mph). The Long Beach race winner finds himself deadlocked in a tie for second place in points with Macri, which makes coming to grips with the oval that much more important to his championship aspirations. Turning in an impressive fourth-quickest time was second-year competitor Kyle Krisiloff (#31 U.S. Grand Prix Formula One) at 25.049 seconds (148.317 mph). Like Allmendinger, this is Krisiloff's first Toyota Atlantic event on an oval, and he also made the most of his first opportunity to run the legendary Milwaukee oval. This is also Krisiloff's first weekend as a member of Dorricott Racing-the defending series champions-and he definitely made a good first impression on the team on his first day.

5/29/03

'500' Numerology - Lucky 13  Thought you might find this Numerology interesting: The 13 Toyota Racing Development track support staffers from California arrived at their hotel in Indianapolis, where their company-provided Toyotas were waiting for them - each with an Illinois manufacturers license plate of '13' followed by two letters. Gil de Ferran's Toyota engineer, Rick Lantz, had his room number at the hotel end in 13. This year's Indy 500 had the first #13 entrant in many decades. Luckily, it turned out to be Roger Penske's 13th Indianapolis 500 win. For Gil it was Indy win number 1 - 3 in a row for the team. De Ferran's Indy pay-out? $1.3 million....of course!

5/29/03

Renault won't sell engines too cheap  "The first one and the most important one is that we want to have our engine completely reliable and powerful because the first target we have is our engine, for us." Renault's Patrick Faure notes, "When we are ready, we are absolutely ready to supply another team under two conditions. The first one is not to lose money. We don't want to make money, but we don't want to lose so it means selling it at a reasonable price and the second one is that we probably want to be not only a supplier but a partner of the second team, and to be able to have with them a few possible deals on trying some young engineers, young drivers or whatever, so being in a position of partner more than in the position of pure supplier, but we are ready to supply another team, let's say from 2005 or 2006 onwards" Faure dismisses any chance of a second Renault powered team in 2004, giving would-be users a chance to save the pennies as it will not be coming cheap. With regard to the FIA touted figure of 10 million dollars per year as a possible cost for customer engines, Faure believes this would be an unattainable fee for Renault power. "I think that having made our calculations we are maybe more expensive than the other ones probably, but for 10 million we are losing money." explains Faure," In our calculations, to not lose money we should be around 15 million, maybe slightly less, but very slightly. At 10 we are losing money."

5/29/03

It's official - CART extends with Milwaukee  Officials from Wisconsin State Fair Park and CART Champ Car confirmed today a new three-year operating agreement that will see the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford continue to race its 750hp Champ Cars at the historic Milwaukee Mile on its traditional date through at least the 2006 racing season. Within the new agreement, WSFP has acquired the rights from current venue operators Carl Haas Racing Teams, Ltd., the promotional group at The Milwaukee Mile since just prior to 1992, for this weekend’s Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 Presented by Miller Lite and Argent Mortgage. “Since last year’s race, the Wisconsin State Fair Park has made great strides by investing in the future of The Milwaukee Mile facility,” said WSFP CEO Joe Chrnelich. “With The Mile’s new grandstands, upgraded amenities and CART Champ Car’s return under the lights, we are confident this race will be a success in 2003 and into the future.” The new agreement ensures that CART Champ Car will be the only major open wheel series to run a race at The Milwaukee Mile under the lights. This weekend’s historic event marks the first ever Champ Car race to be contested at night, with Iowa-based Musco Lighting providing the illumination over the 1.032-mile oval in West Allis, Wis. Additionally, the traditional post Memorial Day weekend date will be reserved exclusively for CART Champ Car, with no other open wheel series permitted to run a race thirty days prior to or within thirty days after the annual Champ Car event. “Wisconsin has the greatest racing fans and that’s the way they should be treated,” said Chairman of the WSFP Board Martin Greenberg. “These recent moves, along with the continuing enhancements allow our ticket buying public to be treated like VIPs.” “The Milwaukee Mile is a key ingredient to the CART Champ Car urban racing formula and we look forward to continuing the long Champ Car tradition here in Milwaukee,” said CART Champ Car President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. “With a revitalized facility, CART’s first ever night race with the help of Musco Lighting and a wing package that will return side-by-side racing to the oval, we are enthusiastic about our future here in Milwaukee.”

5/29/03

Tracy leads first practice at Milwaukee   When it comes to oval racing, there’s no substitute for experience. So when the veteran Champ Car drivers took to the track for their initial practice session for the Milwaukee Mile 250, no one was surprised that it took CART championship co-leader Paul Tracy just five laps to get around the Mile faster than any of the Champ Car rookies did earlier Thursday afternoon in their practice session. Tracy lowered the mark to 21.444 seconds (173.251 mph) in his Player’s Ford/Lola with just five minutes remaining in the 45-minute veteran session, setting the pace by a clear 4 miles per hour. Another pilot with plenty of experience ran second – Jimmy Vasser, who clocked a 21.858-second effort in the American Spirit Ford/Reynard. Four more Lolas followed, led by Michel Jourdain (21.883 sec) and Alex Tagliani (21.985 sec), with Oriol Servia and 2002 Milwaukee pole winner Adrian Fernandez rounding out the top six ahead of rookie Mario Haberfeld. The afternoon practice sessions took place under sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-70s. However, conditions are expected to be considerably cooler for the 8:00 p.m. full-field night practice, a precursor to downright chilly temperatures forecasted for Friday night qualifying.  Photo Courtesy CART/LAT

5/29/03

Valiante signs with Walker Racing   According to this Vancouver Sun article, David Rutledge of North Vancouver has struggled to find a CART ride, Valiante confirmed last week that he has already signed a two-year deal with long-time CART team Walker Racing for 2004-2005. It is contingent on Derrick Walker finding the $5 million to $8 million in sponsorship money needed to run in the first year, but the gregarious Scotsman thinks Valiante has the driving talent to follow in the Bridgestone racing slicks of another B.C. product, the late Greg Moore. "I think he's a very intelligent young man, a thinking driver," said Walker, who is currently running rookies Rodolfo Lavin and Darren Manning this season. "If he has just a glimmer of success, he's going to go like a rocket, go off a lot quicker than a lot of people realize. He was a real gem lying there waiting to be picked up. He's a great kid and I'd love to be part of the process. It's going to require at least $5 million before we see that dream ... but we're singing on the same page." The trouble is, the North American business sector is mostly on some other music sheet. The IRL's split with CART, rising racing costs and a slow economy have made for a tough sponsorship market. "Some drivers who go around looking for rides and have sponsors are not particularly talented," said Walker. "All the really talented ones don't have sponsors. We've been through lists, making inquiries, trying to get meetings set up. At the end of the day, the reason somebody's going to hook up with Michael Valiante and Walker Racing is that we've brought them a business deal that makes sense to the CEO to do it and that they want to attach themselves to the next great hotshot out of Canada, the new young Canadian lion."

5/29/03

Dixon fast in Richmond test  Scott Dixon posted the fastest speed of the day May 29 in a rain-shortened Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Open Test at Richmond International Raceway. Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, turned a lap of 16.3374 seconds, 165.265 mph on his first visit to RIR. "It's a lot of fun out there," Dixon said. "When I first pulled in, I thought it was a go-kart track. It's a very short track, but it's a lot of fun. With these cars and how competitive the series is, it's going to be a very competitive race." Rain began falling at approximately 11:15 a.m. (EDT). The track was officially closed at approximately 2:15 p.m. Though originally only scheduled as a one-day test, due to the limited track time, the Open Test will conclude Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The IndyCar Series returns to RIR on Saturday evening, June 28 for the third annual SunTrust Indy Challenge.

5/29/03

IRL weekly press conference  1999 IRL IndyCar Series Champion Greg Ray was today's guest on the IRL weekly media press conference. Ray is involved in the ownership as well as driving the No. 13 TrimSpa Special/Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone for Access Motorsports. This past weekend he recorded his best finish in seven Indy 500 starts by completing the event on the lead lap with an eighth-place finish.  Transcript

5/29/03

Wheldon wrecks another car, rain in Richmond  Rain has halted the IRL IndyCar Open Test this morning at Richmond International Raceway. Before the rain arrived, rookie Dan Wheldon, who got upside down at Indy, was unhurt in another crash (the Andretti Green team has lost an awful lot of cars this year - just risk you take when you oval race every week) . Wheldon hit the outside retaining wall in Turn 2 of the 3/4-mile oval at approximately 10:15 a.m. (EDT). There was moderate to heavy damage to the right side of the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone. “I’m not exactly sure what happened,” Wheldon said. “We just had a small failure, and unfortunately on these ovals when you have a slight failure, it takes you in the wall. I don’t know exactly what happened, just that the left front collapsed. Just coming out of (Turn) 2, the front left just dropped, the suspension just dropped, and it pushed me into the wall.”

5/29/03

Haas out of Milwaukee, what does it mean for CART?   A number of readers have asked what does it mean that Carl Haas is no longer the promoter at Milwaukee. The answer is simple - great news for CART.  Carl is a great team owner and businessman, but a race promoter he is not.  As we saw in Houston (where he has also stepped down) and in Milwaukee, Carl and his team did not have time to do a bang-up job on race promotion, i.e. it was almost non-existent.  Some wonder if this opens the door for the IRL at Milwaukee. Probably not in the near future because CART just signed an extension to their agreement through 2006. Does that agreement exclude the IRL?  We don't know, but we hear the IRL may get a Milwaukee race too.  Mark C.

5/29/03

Schumacher takes provisional pole in Monaco Blue skies and high temperatures greeted both spectators and drivers this afternoon as the F1 drivers took to the track to complete their one-lap Thursday qualifying on the street circuit in the Principality of Monaco. Ferrari's Michael Schumacher set a fastest lap of 1m16.305s around the 3.340km/2.075miles street circuit, followed by team-mate Rubens Barrichello and B·A·R Honda's Jenson Button. Jarno Trulli (Renault) and David Coulthard (McLaren) finished fourth and fifth while Ralf Schumacher (Williams) completes the top six.

POS DRIVER NATIONALITY ENTRANT TIRE TIME
1. Michael Schumacher Germany Ferrari 1:16.305
2. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Ferrari 1:16.636
3. Jenson Button Britain BAR-Honda 1:16.895
4. Jarno Trulli Italy Renault 1:16.905
5. David Coulthard Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1:17.059
6. Ralf Schumacher Germany Williams-BMW 1:17.063
7. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Jordan-Ford 1:17.080
8. Juan Pablo Montoya Colombia Williams-BMW 1:17.108
9. Mark Webber Australia Jaguar-Cosworth 1:17.637
10. Nick Heidfeld Germany Sauber-Petronas 1:17.912
11. Kimi Raikkonen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1:17.926
12. Jacques Villeneuve Canada BAR-Honda 1:18.109
13. Ralph Firman Britain Jordan-Ford 1:18.286
14. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault 1:18.370
15. Antonio Pizzonia Brazil Jaguar-Cosworth 1:18.967
16. Jos Verstappen Netherlands Minardi-Cosworth 1:19.421
17. Justin Wilson Britain Minardi-Cosworth 1:19.680
18. Olivier Panis France Toyota 1:19.903
19. Cristiano Da Matta Brazil Toyota 1:20.374
20. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Germany Sauber-Petronas No Time

5/29/03

Petty movie coming in 2004   Plans for the Disney movie on the Petty family continue. Production is expected to begin later this year with a tentative release date of late 2004. Roanoke Times

5/29/03

Papis signs to drive in ASCAR  Max Papis, Champ Car star, winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona race last year and current American Le Mans Series driver for JML Team Panoz, has signed to drive for top Days of Thunder racing team, HTML, commencing with the next round at Rockingham, near Corby in Northamptonshire on June 8.  The recruitment of the highest-profile driver yet, is regarded as a major coup for the series. The 32 year-old Italian will drive the HTML team’s McDonald’s-sponsored Ford Taurus. The Days of Thunder series now boasts leading names from Italy, Germany, Sweden, Holland, Columbia and Britain who have formerly competed in top international motorsport series including F1, Champ Cars, Le Mans, FIA GT Championship and F3000. “Max signing up with the HTML team demonstrates the Days of Thunder Series is a true challenge for the highest standard of driver” said Rockingham CEO Ashley Pover. “It also clearly confirms the international status of the Days of Thunder racing series, with drivers from across the world racing both at Rockingham and at Eurospeedway Lausitz in Germany.” “I am pleased to have my stock car debut in an ASCAR,” said Papis. “After the first test I had with Travis Carter and the recent test in an Evernham Motorsports Dodge Winston Cup car, I believe the Days of Thunder series will enhance my knowledge about these cars and the competition in this type of racing.” Papis will be joining the most successful race-winning team in the Days of Thunder series in HTML. The Silverstone-based outfit have won seven out of 15 races so far, the most recent being at the last event at Rockingham on May 11. HTML team boss Jonathan Heynes said: “We’re delighted to have Max race with us – he’s a true motorsport hero and a big coup for us. I’m certain he will be a major factor in the Days of Thunder series and driving alongside his new teammate Roland Rehfeld, who won the last round at Rockingham, we have one of the strongest driver lineups imaginable.”

5/29/03

Webber stuns in Monaco  Mark Webber stunned the grand prix establishment by setting the fastest time for Jaguar Racing in the first practice session for this weekend's Monaco GP. Webber lapped his Jaguar R4 in 1m16.373s, a tenth faster than BAR-Honda's Jenson Button. David Coulthard was third fastest for McLaren-Mercedes, with the Renault pairing of Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli next up. Michael Schumacher was only sixth fastest for Ferrari, ahead of the impressive Giancarlo Fisichella in his Jordan-Ford. Regular front-runners Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), world championship leader Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) and Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) rounded out the top 10.

POS DRIVER NATIONALITY ENTRANT TIRE TIME
1. Mark Webber Australia Jaguar-Cosworth 1:16.373
2. Jenson Button Britain BAR-Honda 1:16.476
3. David Coulthard Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.505
4. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault 1:16.578
5. Jarno Trulli Italy Renault 1:16.800
6. Michael Schumacher Germany Ferrari 1:16.915
7. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Jordan-Ford 1:16.930
8. Juan Pablo Montoya Colombia Williams-BMW 1:17.173
9. Kimi Raikkonen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1:17.218
10. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Ferrari 1:17.372
11. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Germany Sauber-Petronas 1:17.550
12. Jacques Villeneuve Canada BAR-Honda 1:17.710
13. Olivier Panis France Toyota 1:17.811
14. Antonio Pizzonia Brazil Jaguar-Cosworth 1:17.913
15. Ralf Schumacher Germany Williams-BMW 1:18.039
16. Ralph Firman Britain Jordan-Ford 1:18.133
17. Nick Heidfeld Germany Sauber-Petronas 1:18.660
18. Justin Wilson Britain Minardi-Cosworth 1:18.952
19. Jos Verstappen Netherlands Minardi-Cosworth 1:19.026
20. Cristiano Da Matta Brazil Toyota 1:19.956

5/29/03

Barber Dodge Pro field very international  Eight of the entered drivers in this weekend's CART Barber Dodge Pro Series race hail from the United States, with the remainder of the field providing representation from all parts of the globe as the Pro Series has once again attracted international attention and participation. David Martinez , Memo Rojas, German Quiroga, and Luis Pelayo will fly Mexico's colors this weekend, with Antoine Bessette, Dan Di Leo, Chris Green, Mike Richardson, and Josh Beaulieu representing Canada. The Pro Series will race in Canada three times this season, and will race in Mexico for the first time at the Monterrey Grand Prix along with the Champ Car World Series in March. Shinji Kashima will make the long trip over from Tokyo, Japan for the race, and Victor Gonzalez of Hatoray, Puerto Rico, and Nelson Phillipe of Valence, France round out the contingent of international competitors taking part in the season.

5/29/03

Bahrain update  The Bahrain F1 circuit will be finished before the scheduled date, between October and November," said Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed al-Khalifa, Bahrain's top sporting official and member of the Bahrain Race Circuit Committee (BRCC). "We are proud that Bahrain will become the first country in the Middle East to organize such a competition." Sheikh Fawaz told AFP this week. Bahrain signed a long-term agreement in September 2001 with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to host a grand prix from the 2004 season. The Bahrain leg of the world championship will be replacing one of the current venues with Spa in Belgium most under threat. A popular circuit with drivers, Spa's future is however uncertain owing to the Belgian government's desire to clamp down on tobacco advertising. Bahrain by contrast has no such qualms about cars carrying tobacco advertising. The San Marino Grand Prix could also be a casualty as Italy has two races on the schedule. Given the high summer temperatures Bahrain is looking at slotting into the calendar at the very start or the end of the season. Sheikh Fawaz said the BRCC had named Austrian Hans Geist as the circuit director. "Geist headed the Circuit A1 Ring at Spielberg for eight years and supervised several Formula 1 races in his country," he said. Geist said he expected more than 40,000 spectators during the first race, which he said would have "positive fallout on Bahrain's economy." Bahraini officials are pinning their hopes on attracting up to 70,000 in the future thanks to temporary grandstands that will be erected. German consultancy Tilke has designed the venue, which will have three circuits, a drag track and a main grandstand capable of holding 11,000 spectators. The 5.2-kilometre (3.25-mile) circuit will have an estimated lap time for a Formula One car of 1 minute 35 seconds, and an average speed of 196 kilometres per hour (122.5 miles per hour). The circuit is reminiscent of Sepang in Malaysia, even it will be surrounded by a 10-metre (33-foot) wall to keep out the sand. "We hope this historic event will spark tourism and generate economic spin-offs for Bahrain, which has, like other Gulf states, launched projects in a bid to diversify sources of income away from oil- and gas- related revenue," Sheikh Fawaz said. "Around the circuit, there will be luxury hotels and numerous other projects that will help increase job opportunities in a country where unemployment is rising." concluded Fawaz. AFP

5/29/03

Like we said, Chevy can't catch up  Joe Negri of Chevrolet admitted afterwards: "I probably underestimated Toyota and Honda and we've got to regroup. But we're not giving up on this year. We've made a lot of progress since the beginning of the season but, unfortunately, so has our competition." Negri, whose company had won six straight Indy 500s before last Sunday, said that General Motors cannot accept what's happened and will definitely not be bailing at the end of 2003. "But I know this is a business and we've got to show progress to keep our customers. We've got to get this fixed".......or risk losing all their teams to Honda and Toyota, which would result in Chevy being out of the IRL by default.  You can bet that the only teams running a Chevy in 2004 will be the ones that get a 100% free ride.  No one will pay for loser engines with no chance to win.

5/29/03

NASCAR TV ratings much higher than Indy 500 in Boston   The Boston Globe reports that locally, the Coca Cola 600 NASCAR race outrated Indy in the overnights, 4.1-3.2.  It's expected to beat the Indy 500 in the final ratings due out Friday as well.

5/29/03

Mario special Monday   ESPN Classic will air the Mario Andretti installment of Greatest Sports Legends at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, June 2.

5/29/03

Trulli fastest in Monaco private testing  'Renault's Jarno Trulli headed the Friday test session at the Monaco Grand Prix by a convincing margin, giving him a crucial head start ahead of this afternoon's opening qualifying session. Trulli lapped the 2.094-mile lightly revised Monaco street circuit in 1m16.888s, just 0.2s slower than last year's pole position time from Juan Pablo Montoya. The Italian set a new sector one best on his next lap and seemed on course for an improvement, when he had a moment on the exit of Loews hairpin and lightly tapped the barrier.
Position/Driver Team Fastest Lap
1 Jarno Trulli Renault 1m16.888s
2 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan 1m17.569s
3 Mark Webber Jaguar 1m18.420s
4 Allan McNish Renault 1m18.438s
5 Fernando Alonso Renault 1m18.600s
6 Ralph Firman Jordan 1m18.714s
7 Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar 1m19.521s
8 Justin Wilson Minardi 1m19.923s
9 Jos Verstappen Minardi 1m19.978s

5/29/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

'Schu Not Impressed By MP4-18
Kimi Aims To Keep Lead
F1 Drivers Welcome 'New' Monaco
No 'Wild Cards', Thinks Schu
Montoya Targets Monaco Win
Button Calls Truce On Spat
Monaco GP: A Race Of Tires
Renault Guru Joins Ferrari
F1 Boss Dates Heidi Klum
DC's Concern Over New McLaren
Schu Cool On Renault Contest
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Praise For 'Well Matched' BAR Pair
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5/29/03

Milwaukee forecast update   The latest forecast is for cold weather, in the low 40's at night, but no rain.  30% chance of showers should end Saturday morning.  Sunday calls for good weather should CART have to cancel the race Saturday night because it's too cold (below Bridgestone guidelines) and their teams can't use tire warmers.  Sigh.

5/29/03

It's the Indy 500, and it's still exciting   This mcall.com article says,  The Indianapolis 500 will never be what it once was. But you know what? That's OK. Would you want it to be the way it was in 1964, when Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald were killed in that horrific first-lap crash? Or how about 1966, when 11 cars were eliminated in a crash before the cars ever got to Turn 1? Or when A.J. Foyt (1967) or Rick Mears (1984) finished two laps in front of their nearest competitors? Or like 1989, when the third-place finisher was six laps behind? Would you want it to be like 1973, when Eldon Palmer rammed the pace car into a spectator stand, Salt Walther was badly burned in a first-lap crash and Swede Savage was killed in a race that took three days to run? Or maybe you'd like it to be like 1974, when car owners sued to try to reopen qualifications … 1979, when the United States Auto club tried to keep a bunch of the best drivers out of the race at the height of the USAC-CART war … 1981, when Bobby Unser had a victory taken away from him and given to Mario Andretti, only to have the decision overturned months later........The Indianapolis 500 is alive and well. Sunday's race was competitive and entertaining. It had all the necessary ingredients. Seven of the top 15 finishers were American drivers — Alex Barron, who has gotten into the race as a substitute driver two years in a row, led the way in sixth place after getting fourth a year ago. Nine cars finished the 200 laps, and any one of the top five could have wound up in Victory Lane if circumstances had been different. It was anything but dull, and we can already begin to think of some good subplots for 2004. Anyone who thinks NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 has surpassed the Indianapolis 500 as the major event on Memorial Day weekend needs to have his head examined. And those who think NASCAR's Brickyard 400 or Formula One's Grand Prix have or ever will be more prestigious than the Indy 500 can schedule appointments with the same doctor. The thing is, does anyone care? Are there enough open-wheel fans left out there to help get the sport back off its life-support system for the rest of the season? That remains to be seen. One of the first comments Roger Penske made Sunday after his team's 13th Indianapolis 500 victory had to do with the need for one open-wheel series. The guys who can make that happen all do their business in this city. They can make it happen. [Editor's Note: yes, if Tony George puts his hammer away, admits the split was a serious mistake on his part, and tries to fix what he broke.  If not, the war goes on.]  More....

5/29/03

All eyes on Tony George's nephew this weekend?   In a significant development during the down time between Long Beach and Milwaukee, second-year competitor Kyle Krisiloff (#31 U.S. Grand Prix Formula One, and grandson of Mari Hulman George, nephew of Tony George) has switched teams, moving from Cameron Motorsports to 2002  CART Toyota Atlantic champions Dorricott Racing, where he will drive alongside Mexican Luis Diaz (#33 Telmex) on the now two-car team. Krisiloff will be making his first appearance at The Milwaukee Mile this weekend (race 5:00 PM Saturday).  It should be noted that the Hulman family does not have Kyle racing in their own Infiniti Pro Series as a training ground.  We suspect because they realize that 1) road racing is the best training ground.  If you can road race, ovals are a piece of cake, 2) they fear for his safety given the alarming injury rate in the all-oval IRL.  It's also interesting to note that Michael Andretti has his son racing in a Skip Barber Regional series, again a road racing series and an extension of the CART ladder system.  Now that Andretti is an IRL team owner, it will be interesting to see if he keeps his son in the CART ladder system for the same reason Krisiloff is in the CART ladder system, or if he risks injury to his son by putting him in the Infiniti Pro Series at a tender age.  You ban bet Mario will voice his opinion on that one.  Mark C.

5/29/03

Third roof flap   NASCAR will gather information on a third roof flap during a wind-tunnel test Tuesday night near Detroit. Managing director of competition Gary Nelson showed Totally NASCAR how the additional flap operates at NASCAR's R&D center in Concord, N.C. If the test goes well, the third roof flap could be in place before the end of the season. Fox Sports Net's Totally NASCAR

5/28/03
F3000

Yet another American gets a F3000 ride   Will Langhorne returns to competition in this weekend's F3000 race in Monaco. This will be Langhorne's first race since the 2002 Indy Racing League season finale at Texas Motor Speedway. Driving for team BCN Competicion, Langhorne joins Townsend Bell, Derek Hill and Phil Giebler as the only Americans in the Formula 1 developmental series. "I am extremely excited about the opportunity that BCN Competicion is giving me this weekend in Monaco," said Langhorne. "I am looking forward to the challenge of a new car, track and team. The last time I raced in Monaco was in a go-kart. I am sure this will be just as fun. There is nothing quite like racing through the streets of the Principality." The F3000 race can be seen live on Speed Channel Saturday May 31st at 9:30 am EST. For more information please visit www.willlanghorne.com.

5/28/03

Unser seeks first TMS win   The blink of an eye is all that has twice kept Al Unser Jr. out of Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway. Unser is looking to reverse the trend Saturday night, June 7 in the Bombardier 500k Indy Racing League IndyCar Series event at “The Great American Speedway.” Unser is a winner. He has two Indianapolis 500 victories to his credit, he has won the “Race to the Clouds” up the mountain at Pikes Peak, and he has topped the world’s best drivers in the International Race of Champions. But Unser has not been able to add a trophy from Texas Motor Speedway to his collection. The driver of the Corteco Dallara/Toyota for Kelley Racing has led four IndyCar Series races at Texas for 221 laps but twice has fallen just short of the winner’s circle. He was a car length short in third place in his first Indy Racing League event at Texas in June 2000. Jeff Ward’s final-turn pass of Unser last June provided the closest finish in series history at the time, 0.0111 of a second. “I always have a great time racing at Texas,” said Unser. “It’s really the race track that I wanted to race at in the IRL because it looked like everybody was very close, very competitive and having a lot of fun out there. “I’ve come close a few times at Texas. Really the only thing I want to do different than I have done before is win the race. We’ve been right there. I look forward to doing the ‘Fight on Saturday Night.’” Unser appeared to have last June’s IndyCar Series race in hand until Ward passed him for the lead coming off turn four. “When I came out of turn four, I thought, ‘Where did this guy come from?’ Then he just nipped us. “I feel that the Kelley Racing team is right up there with the best of them,” continued Unser. “The only difference between last year and this year is the Toyota power. We have a legitimate shot at winning this race.”

5/28/03

Milwaukee 100-year history   This Milwaukee Sentinel article has some interesting facts on the history of the Milwaukee Mile that includes 24-hour endurance races in 1907-08, and an NFL championship game played there in 1939 with the Packers beating the Giants, 27-0.  More...

5/28/03

CART weekly teleconference   The historic Milwaukee Mile celebrates 100 years of racing action in 2003 with this Saturday's race marking the 102nd Champ Car event held on the legendary oval. The first one was way back in 1933. It is also the first time that CART will field competition at night, and we have with us today Adrian Fernandez, the 2002 Milwaukee Mile polesitter and race runner-up, as well as a couple of representatives from Musco Lighting, Jerome Fynaardt, who is the mobile sales manager and Terry Haskel, who is the event manager and they can talk about how we can supply the lighting for drivers like Adrian and the others to do their stuff in what will be an historic event for us and we look forward to it.  More...

5/28/03

Weaver breaks record at Road Atlanta   Veteran sports car racer James Weaver of England unofficially broke his own Road Atlanta track record Wednesday in the second and final day of American Le Mans Series open testing for the June 27-29 Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta. Weaver, driving the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-MG, turned a lap of 1:11.711 in the morning testing session Wednesday, bettering his LMP 675 track qualifying record of 1:11.883 that was set last October. However, because the time was not recorded in an official qualifying session, it does not count as an official track record. “We keep working with these cars and they are getting better and better,” said Weaver, who will co-drive in the Road Atlanta event with Butch Leitzinger of State College, Pa. “It’s a fabulous little car.” The second Dyson entry, which had turned the fastest lap of the day on Tuesday with Chris Dyson at the wheel, was clocked at 1:12.252 on Wednesday. Dyson, from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., will co-drive with Andy Wallace of England in next month’s race. “We’ve got one or two problems with reliability, but I think once we’ve solved those problems we’re going to be right up there (racing for the win),” said Wallace. “We’ve been working really hard since Sebring because obviously that was a big disappointment. We really do need to get some results and I really think we’re getting somewhere.” Nine cars participated in the testing session, including the Team Olive Garden Ferrari 550 Maranello driven by Italians Mimmo Schiattarella and Emanuele Naspetti. The bright green Ferrari turned a fast lap of 1:19.988, less than a second off of the pole speed in the GTS class in last year’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. “Unfortunately, the last two years, we have not had a competitive car,” said Schiattarella, who scored the overall win in an American Le Mans Series race at Road Atlanta in 1999 while driving a Prototype. “We have tested here for three days and we have improved the car and I hope in the next race here at Road Atlanta we will be much more competitive.” The 2.54-mile Road Atlanta, located in Braselton, Ga., will also host Petit Le Mans on October 15-18, making it the only facility to hold two American Le Mans Series races in 2003. Petit Le Mans, a 1,000-mile endurance race, will be the season finale. The track is currently offering a special, discounted “Two Event Ticket,” as well as separate tickets to both events. Information is available online at www.roadatlanta.com or by calling 1-800-849-RACE (7223).

Wednesday’s testing speeds summary, showing drivers, hometowns or countries, type car (class) and lap time:

  1. James Weaver, England, and Butch Leitzinger, State College, Pa.; Lola EX257-MG (LMP 675), 1:11.711 (unofficial track record for LMP 675 class; existing record 1:11.883 set by James Weaver 10/02).

  2. Chris Dyson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Andy Wallace, England; Lola EX257-MG (LMP 675), 1:12.252

  3. Emanuele Naspetti, Italy, and Mimmo Schiattarella, Italy; Ferrari 550 Maranello (GTS), 1:19.988.

  4. Tom Weickardt, Whitefish Bay, Wis.; Aaron Pouolito, Canada, and Jean Philippe Belloc, France; Dodge Viper GTS-R (GTS), 1:20.584

  5. Melanie Paterson, Canada; Jason Workman, Flowery Branch, Ga., and James Gue, Roswell, Ga.; Lola B2K40-Millington (LMP 675), 1:22.691.

  6. Peter Baron, Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Danica Patrick, Beloit, Wis., Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 1:25.669.

  7. David Murry, Cumming, Ga., and Justin Jackson, Buford, Ga.; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 1:25.981. Shane Lewis, Jupiter, Fla., and Cass Whitehead, Gainesville, Ga.; Ferrari 360 Modena (GT), 1:27.675.

  8. Joe Policastro, Latrobe, Pa., and Jay Policastro, Latrobe, Pa.; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 1:27.691.

5/28/03

Evernham back behind the wheel   NASCAR Winston Cup Series team owner (No. 9 and No. 19 Dodges) Ray Evernham will participate in a special match race at Wall Township (N.J.) Speedway, a NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series facility, on Saturday. Evernham is scheduled to drive a Dodge in a Modified class 12-lap match race against Martin Truex Jr. – from Mayetta, N.J. – who races regularly in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series. “Dodge has been a great supporter of my efforts in Winston Cup racing,” Evernham said. “When they asked me to help support the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I’ve always threatened the guys that I might get back behind the wheel some day and now I have the chance. Not only that, but I get to do it in front of my hometown crowd. It should be pretty exciting.” Evernham, a Hazlet, N.J. native, started his racing career at Wall Township Speedway and won the track’s Modern Stock championship in 1977. He went on to win numerous Modified races before leaving competition to become a crew chief and car owner. Evernham was crew chief for Jeff Gordon during three NASCAR Winston Cup championship seasons (1995, ’97, ’98). Evernham was the point man for Dodge’s heralded return to NASCAR Winston Cup in 2001.

5/28/03

Is CART using tire warmers at Milwaukee?   UPDATE The weather forecast for Milwaukee Saturday night under the lights calls for temperatures to drop into the low 40's at night, with a wind chill in the 30's.  That is below the minimum recommended track temperature that Bridgestone specifies.  We wonder how many cars will be written off against those hard concrete walls on Saturday night because of the cold temperatures and CART's banning of tire warmers. CART can't afford to postpone the race for this reason (would be yet another black eye for them), so if we were them, we would be overnighting a big shipment of tire warmers (19 sets, one for each car) to Milwaukee, pronto.  That's a lot cheaper than writing off even one car.  Mark C.  5/24/03 - 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.

5/28/03

Milwaukee may add permanent lighting  The estimated cost of the lighting project at Milwaukee, financed by CART, is $500,000. While CART officials are waiting to see how the race weekend unfolds and won't decide if more night races will be held in the future, Fynaardt added that if a permanent lighting system were to be installed at The Mile, it would cost approximately $1 million-to-$1.5 million to complete. Musco spokesman Jerome Fynaardt added that one of the company's main concerns is driver safety and Musco examines all particular nuances of each project it works on at different tracks. The Mile is no exception. "This is going to be lit up so that it's going to be smoothly lit and evenly lit all the way around the track, so their eyes won't have to adjust," said Fynaardt. "Obviously, there is a lot of speed involved with these cars and there are a number of things we take into consideration. "Glare is a big issue. We have to watch out to make sure the lights are not glaring into the drivers' eyes when they come out of the turns or going into the turns."

5/28/03

Fittipaldi signs eyewear deal  Racing legend Emerson Fittipaldi, through his racing team Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing, and eyewear giant CARRERA Sport USA have signed an Agreement to make CARRERA an Associate Sponsor of Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing (FDR) in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. In making the announcement, Conrad Casser, General Manager, CARRERA Sport USA said, “CARRERA is the eyewear of choice for top athletes and fashion-forward people around the world. We are pleased to have teamed up with Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing and their driver Tiago Monteiro. The name CARRERA comes from the famous CARRERA Panamerica Races. Founded in the early 1950’s, CARRERA now provides ski goggles, helmets, and glasses for 32 National Ski Teams worldwide. CARRERA also provides glasses, goggles and helmets for top Italian bike racers, as well as motorcycle riders and motorsport enthusiasts. By teaming up with Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing and Tiago Monteiro, we are returning to our roots in auto racing.”

5/28/03

Quite ironic   A reader writes, Dear AR1, The latest ground swell of feedback over the recent Penske remarks, have neglected to mention what a self-serving thorn in the side of IMS Penske has been over the years. Penske sued the IMS to make Bobby Unser's win stand, and openly ridiculed IMS management on national TV during a Indy 500 over how a pit fire was handled.  Last but not least, the one of a kind turbo push rod M-B engine that Penske used to make a mockery of USAC and IMS seemed to have pushed Tony George over the edge to forge on with his current vision. Now IMS and Tony George embrace Roger, which I find quite ironic.   David S. Louisville, KY

5/28/03

Ward, Big Mo, join PK Racing  PK Racing has added depth to the technical side of its racing program by bringing engineer John Ward and former Champ Car driver Mauricio Gugelmin into the organization. Respected Champ Car engineer John Ward has joined the team as engineer of the #27 Japhiro Swiss Watches Lola Ford Cosworth. Ward’s wealth of knowledge in key areas including chassis design, vehicle dynamics, and aerodynamics will be invaluable to a rookie team like PK Racing. Ward began his career in motorsports as a racer. In the early 1970’s, he designed, built and raced his own Super Vee cars. From 1976 until 1981, he was designer of one of racing’s most famous chassis, Dan Gurney’s All American Racer Eagle. His innovations include the design and development of one of North America’s first rolling wind tunnels. During the 1980’s, Ward continued setting standards for Champ Car engineering, pioneering the use of the Pi System as well as the design and development of numerous proprietary engineering programs. “We have been patient in trying to pull in the right person for our engineering program,” explained PK Racing Director of Race Operations Russ Cameron. “I have had experience with John in the past, and I am confident in the expertise and knowledge he can bring to a team like ours. His record proves that he is one of the best engineers in the Series, and we will be looking to his experience to provide us with a technical edge as we move forward in the 2003 Champ Car season.” “John has a big reputation and a lot of experience, and that’s what we need in the team right now,” added PK Racing driver Patrick Lemarie. “I am very happy to have him with us.” The team will also have the chance to gain from the experience of another Champ Car veteran, as former driver Mauricio Gugelmin has joined PK Racing to offer his vast knowledge of the Champ Car tracks to the rookie Lemarie. Gugelmin, who raced Champ Cars from 1993-2001, for such teams as Dick Simon Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, and PacWest Racing Group, will be on hand to assist the driver and engineers, who will no doubt benefit from the resources Gugelmin acquired in 148 Champ Car starts. “It was difficult to smell the methanol from Brazil, and I always kept in touch with my friends from Indianapolis,” Gugelmin commented. “The opportunity came up to share my knowledge of the past few years of Champ Car racing, and I am more than glad to help PK Racing get the results they deserve more quickly.” Cameron remarked, “I kept a close relationship with Mauricio through the years and have always believed his driver feedback was the best an engineer could get. His experience on all the race tracks after his numerous Champ Car starts will offer the kind of insight our team cannot currently give Patrick. Since Patrick does not have a teammate, Mauricio is the next best thing.” “Additionally, this gives ‘Mo’ the opportunity to display his talents and share in our success. If he is able to help us, it will certainly reflect well on his already illustrious career,” Cameron continued. “However, we are not considering Mauricio for a driver - he is with the team strictly to assist our current driver,” emphasized Cameron. “We selected Milwaukee as the starting venue for this program as it is the perfect place for a rookie to have access to a veteran’s knowledge. We plan on continuing with Mo in this capacity for as long as he can be useful." “I had never met Mauricio before a few days ago,” said Lemarie. “He obviously has a lot of experience in Champ Cars, and it is a big opportunity for the team to have him around. As a driver, you always have questions about the tracks - I don’t know any of the tracks this year, and it will be helpful to question him about the circuits. Every course has its tricks, and I hope Mo will tell me what they are!”

5/28/03

CART stars vie for test ride   The Snap-on Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow presented by RACER revealed the prize behind the previously announced RACER magazine "Karter of the Year" award to be presented at season's end. The newly-termed "Karters of the Year presented by RACER" will award the top ICC and ICA drivers for the Stars 2003 season with a Team Rahal-Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic test. "We are pleased to offer a full, official test to our top drivers in the premier categories," said Team Rahal owner and Stars principal Bobby Rahal. "We view this program as much more than a once-in-a-lifetime ride. The two drivers will go through the normal test process with our Toyota Atlantic team - a type of car they may quite possibly be driving within a very short time." The two drivers will receive an all expenses paid trip to Team Rahal headquarters in Ohio for a seat fitting and then travel to a yet to be determined test track. Each driver will get one full day of testing in the car, currently driven by Danica Patrick on the Toyota Atlantic circuit. "RACER is committed to helping develop and feature racing talent. This award we present with Team Rahal for Stars provides an excellent opportunity to showcase two exciting series and two very talented drivers," said RACER publisher Ian Havard. The awards will go to the champion driver in the Intercontinental C (shifter) and Intercontinental A (direct drive) classes. Additional eligibility requirements are that the drivers must race in all the events in their division plus the Stars Karting Championships at California Speedway in November. Drivers also must be at least 16 years of age at the time of the test and, if they are a minor, have parental consent. "We started Stars by offering a Team Rahal Champ Car ride back in 2000," said Stars founder Bryan Herta. "Although a great event for the driver, I believe a Toyota Atlantic test provides an experience with more relevant application for where these drivers are in their careers. Plus, with our association with RACER we can now provide more press coverage of this event which is always good for aspiring drivers." The total value of the award is more than $50,000. All expenses will be paid by Stars and RACER.

5/28/03

Still drinking the kool-aid   A reader writes, Dear AR1, here is a copy of my response to an article published on the Indy 500 in the Seattle P.I. Here is the link.  I can't believe so many reporters still drink the IRL Kool-aid.  Dear Holly, The luster is returned to the Indy 500? Have you been drug tested lately? Indy is as good as dead. The only question is whether open wheel racing itself is finished in the US. I have watched Indy every year since 1971, when I first saw Peter Revson's winged McLaren and thought it was the coolest thing ever. But not this year. I won't bother. Like many CART fans who spent the last seven years lamenting the split between CART and the IRL, I have now reached the point where I just don't care about Indy anymore. It's no longer a case of wanting Indy to be what it once was. I just want it to die already so I can move on. The TV ratings have plummeted since the advent of the IRL, from a 10.9 to a 4 something last year, and all indications are that this year it will be in the 2.0's, if not lower. Interest is at an all time low, there were not even enough cars to have a bump day until Tony George stepped up and threw money at teams, and if it weren't for the idiot CART defectors there likely wouldn't even be enough cars to have a race this year. Meanwhile, CART, which is supposedly dead, continues to dwarf the IRL in live attendance, has almost as many cars on the grid (despite still being more expensive to run) and will at some point in the near future have more cars on the grid than the IRL, once the annual post Indy drop outs begin for the IRL. Last weekend, CART destroyed the vaunted Indy 500 in head to head TV ratings. CART had 30% more viewers for a TAPE DELAYED race broadcast, and when you add the tape delayed Saturday showing of the week old Brands Hatch race, CART more than doubled the Indy audience for the weekend. Indy is living entirely on an undeserved reputation, which is likely to take a major blow after the ratings for the actual race are in. The only thing of value that the IRL can offer to sponsors is the 500. What happens when that race, which is already the second biggest race on Memorial day, becomes just another meaningless event with a 2.0 rating? [Editor's note, they are not that low....yet] CART, at least, sees which way the wind is blowing. After years of trying to reach accommodation and reunification, CART is distancing themselves from the Idiot Grandson and his "NASCAR with wings" philosophy at warp speed. CART is set to align itself with F-1 in some manner, and clearly they realize that being associated with Indy is a true death sentence. I'm sorry, but when I look at the next three years, I only see one series left and it isn't the IRL. Without Indy's TV ratings to prop it up, where is the IRL sponsor base going to come from? How long will ABC pay for a one-race "series" that has a marquee event that draws less viewers than a mid season baseball game? Honda and Toyota are only in it to win Indy, which one of them will this year. Once that is done, they will have achieved their marketing objectives and they'll be gone to NASCAR. Once they leave for NASCAR, possibly as soon as 2005, what will be left to keep Indy alive? The IRL has never really had any fan base, and when Penske, Ganassi, et al decided to try and kill CART off last year, they assumed that the fans would follow them to the IRL. It hasn't happened, and it's not going to happen. And there are some very good reasons for that. When we look back from a few years distance and write the epitaph of the Indy 500, which was once the greatest single sporting event in the world, I think a lot of people are going to point to 2002 and the rape of Paul Tracy as the turning point. I, like many CART fans, might have been willing to forgive and forget, and even accept the notion of undeserving stiffs like Buddy Lazier and Eddie (Under-A) Cheever on the Borg\Warner trophy if it meant that there was a unified Indycar series again. But not anymore. Of the 2 million or so true open wheel fans in this country, fully 95% of them are CART and F-1 fans, and it was us who Tony George snubbed when he robbed Tracy of his rightful victory last year. Everyone who knows anything about racing knows that Tracy was ahead when the yellow came on, and that he never had a chance in Tony George's kangaroo court. By further alienating the only existing fan base for open wheel racing (CART's) George has only hardened the resolve against him and his one-race "series." It brings me no joy to pronounce Indy dead, but it is a reality that must be faced. Why don't you spend a little time reading the feelings of those that have been there for years, like Robin Miller's article, and write something real, instead of just parroting the IMS press releases? If you're not going to take the time to tell the truth, why bother "reporting" at all?  Mike Bara

5/28/03

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5/28/03

For CART, it's now or never   2nd UPDATE  Another reader writes, Dear AR1, What a horrible scenario for a race series that just a few short years ago was being compared to the popularity of F-1. I still love the series. I think the racing, even with the new faces is good stuff.  I love the city street races because it's a lot of fun to be able to be at the races by day and at a great restaurant or club by night. I hope someone steps up and takes the bull by the horns. I don't care if it's speed racer at this point. I hate to think of the day that we will no longer have CART racing on our city streets. Someone has got to have the power to NOT let T. George win this thing. He has ruined the Indy 500 already, let's not let him ruin CART too. Sam Mancuso, Davie, Florida  Dear Sam, yes, there is a lot of value in CART's races and the major markets they are in. It would be a travesty to see it all just disappear.  And the IRL does not have much room in their schedule to pick up all those good races.  Most would be lost forever.  However, because CART has such value in their venues, and the history behind them, we do believe that someone, be it a Bernie Ecclestone, or a Rupert Murdoch, etc, will step in and buy it at a bargain price and turn it into a big success story.  It has all the ingredients necessary for success, it just needs the right horse(s) to back it.  Mark C.   5/27/03 - Another reader writes, Dear AR1, I have confidence that CART will prevail because today, under Pook's leadership, the company not only again has a "mission" and a "vision" but also it's got something very valuable in today's business environment - "creativity". I believe that Pook is fully aware of the need of taking the company private, having a good TV package and multiple engine manufacturers in order for it to survive. But CART has a fantastic product in the hands of one of the best racing promoters in the industry; the mistakes of the past are right there: in the past. There will be CART in 2005 and beyond.  Roberto Reyes  5/27/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, just read your latest article called For CART, it's now or never.  I didn't realize CART's back is to the wall again.  Can they pull it off?  Dan Moynihan, NY, NY.  Dear Dan, Whether it realizes it or not, yes, CART's back is up against the wall again.  Let's see what happens in the coming months. If nothing, the silence will be deafening.  Mark C.

5/28/03

Penske calls for CART/IRL unification  UPDATE A reader responds, Dear AR1, When I read the quotes from the Indy Star article with Roger Penske, a couple of things jumped out at me:

  • Roger ignored the fact that it was and is Tony George who caused the split in open-wheel racing. For the rest of us, Roger, you're preaching to the choir. Tony's the one who keeps blocking any attempt at re-unification.

  • When Tony started the IRL, and banned non-IRL teams from 25 of the 33 starting spots in the Indy 500, the USAC crowd was chortling, and blaming the split on Roger Penske. They claimed that CART was being ruined by "the Captain," and that Indy would be better off without him. A half dozen years later, it was USAC that was gone from Indy, and "the Captain" taking home the trophy.

  • Roger says that CART is focusing on overseas road races, while the IRL is focusing on oval races in major American markets. I'm sorry, but aside from Indy (and maybe Texas) the IRL doesn't seem to be selling any tickets in its "major American markets." TV time, maybe, since ABC has decided to flog a dead horse. But the best attended IRL races look like support races for CART. I know, the IRL's promoters tack IRL tickets on with NASCAR packages, which boosts the paper numbers, but the "crowds" on race day seem to tell the real story.

  • Roger claims that his sponsors are looking for domestic exposure, hinting that CART has none and the IRL has plenty. Again, that may be true of TV coverage, but what about "fan identification?" How many IRL fans associate themselves with the sponsor of the race cars in the series? A brief glimpse around the track at Long Beach revealed fans wearing T-shirts for Players, Ford, Herdez, Tecate, and Visteon, as well as sponsors like K-Mart, Kool, and Miller, who are no longer in CART (that's called "staying power," when your ad money reaps benefits years later).

  • Connected with this, Roger's statement about his sponsors ignores the fact that his major sponsor, Marlboro, will (according to your Rumors page) be banned from sponsoring sports events around the world within the next few years, along with every other tobacco company. In CART, that means Players. In the IRL, that's Kool (still an associate sponsor of Andretti/Green), Hollywood, and Marlboro (that I know of). Of course, he may be speaking of Toyota and Honda, the new real money behind the IRL teams, but that's another issue.

Anyway, yes Roger is worth listening to, so long as you don't take everything he says as gospel truth. Part of his business savvy is in knowing how to "spin" things. Now if he can just spin things enough to get Tony out of his ivory tower and back into the real world!  David Laufer  Dear David, if you read Penske's comments carefully, you will understand that Roger appears to be making a veiled statement that the economy will eventually put CART out of business and then it will be all one again.  However, as we wrote elsewhere on this page, the IRL is failing at the gate and drivers, including his, are being injured at an alarming rate. Roger and all the rest that bolted from CART, may eventually live to regret their actions. Indy Car racing lost the oval track market in the USA to NASCAR a long time ago.  Let's just say in the long run, they may have backed the wrong horse, which may ultimately lead to the sports demise that much quicker.  Think back to 1995 (the year before the split) and how big and popular the sport of Indy Car racing was under CART's control.  Look at it today and it's easy to conclude that the split was a travesty of major proportions.  Peoples lives, their careers, their families are at stake. To some it's just business, control and power. Mark C.  5/27/03 -  In this Indy Star article, Roger Penske says, I think open-wheel racing today is certainly on a lot more solid ground that it's been in the past," Penske said. "People might disagree with me. But we have a vision. CART obviously has decided to be international, run in markets outside the U.S. and focus on road racing. Whereas the IRL has focused on ovals and major (U.S.) markets. And I can say from our sponsors, they're a lot more interested in the U.S. markets. "But what has to happen as we go forward is, in order to sustain 25 or 30 vehicles, there's got to be some combination coming together, and that's going to happen by itself. No one has the silver bullet that will change the situation. The economy will dictate what happens. "This is a great sport today and unification would obviously be terrific, at least in my mind. But it will take time. The business principles of the two organizations will ultimately determine the outcome. The returns to the shareholders. To the owners. To the drivers. To the tracks. That will drive it. "It's going to happen." Penske is talking. And everybody should be listening.

5/27/03

Fans fear of 'foreigners' just silly   For years CART was berated for having too many foreign drivers, now it's the IRL's turn to feel the heat, and they are getting it.  AR1 has maintained that what really matters is that a series has the best drivers, not where they were born. They are flesh and blood humans, with feelings, desires, and goals, just like the rest of us.  Racing is supposed to be a sport where the best athlete prevails.  If racing becomes simply entertainment, whereby, any wanker with limited driving skill can win just because he is American, then racing ceases to be a sport.  Our hats off to the five foreign drivers who finished 1st thru 5th at Indy on Sunday.  They were the best on that day.  Now I urge each of you to read this Ed Hinton article about the issues of foreign drivers. Ed hits a home run in our book with this piece.  He says, American race fans are, by and large, bigots......And that is a wretched, tragic statement of American sporting attitudes today.  Mark C.

5/27/03

Indy 500 TV ratings down again   UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, the IRL stole most of CART's big teams, manufacturers, sponsors and drivers, yet their series continues to suffer at the box office and their crown jewel, the Indy 500 has empty seats, lower TV ratings each year, and hardly enough teams to fill the 33-car field.  They have everything they wanted, and spent a hell of a lot of money getting it, yet the results just are not there. You are right, if Tony George was the President of a company with those performance numbers, he would have been fired a long time ago. Jenny Giancarlo, New York, NY  Dear Jenny, Tony George decided to create the IRL and fracture Indy Car racing in two.  He, and everyone else in the industry are now paying the consequences.  What can we say, except that he did what he did, and he has to accept the consequences like a man, admit his major blunder, and fix what he wronged, or move out of the way and let others do it. Is it too late?  Perhaps, because now NASCAR is like a snowball rolling down hill.  It's getting bigger with each revolution and Indy Car racing is in its direct path, about to be squashed like a bug.  Mark C.   5/27/03 - Sunday's 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 on ABC yielded a 5.1 overnight rating, down 4 percent from last year's overnight number.  Last year's final rating was 4.8, so one might expect the final number to come in around 4.7 or lower.  Stay tuned.

5/27/03

Testing news & photos from Road Atlanta   With the American Le Mans Series set to return to action in a month, nine teams from the series took the opportunity Tuesday to shake down their cars in the first of two days of open testing at Road Atlanta, with a surprising fastest driver of the day.  Chris Dyson of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in his first full season of American Le Mans Series competition, turned the day’s fastest lap with a time of 1:12.495 in the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-MG Prototype. The 24-year-old driver posted the speed midway through the morning session and it was not topped the rest of the day.  More....

5/27/03

More rules to watch for this weekend   Several new rule changes will take effect at Milwaukee. The use of spare cars (T-cars) has been eliminated unless the designated primary race car is damaged beyond repair. If the primary car is damaged prior to qualifying, the spare car can be used without penalty. If the spare car is needed after qualifying is completed, the car will start the race at the rear of the field. Racing action will be enhanced by a new “move-over” rule that goes into effect during the last 10 laps of a race. Chief Steward Chris Kneifel will have the authority to send all lapped cars to the end of the restart line giving the front runners a chance to battle to the checkered flag without interference by lapped traffic.

5/27/03

Did Michael Andretti ruin the racing in CART?   A reader writes, Dear AR1, If memory serves me correctly, it was Michael Andretti who called for low downforce wings in CART to slow the cars in the turns.  He spoke out strongly against the high downforce package CART had years ago, which produced great racing.  It's ironic that he switched to the IRL, which has high-downforce and good racing, after his lobbying in CART is what ruined the racing for them.  I don't hear him lobbying for low downforce in the IRL now.  I place the blame squarely on his shoulders for leading CART down the wrong path, which they now have to undo. Mike Bancini, Chicago, IL  Dear Mike, your memory serves you correctly, Andretti did lobby for lower downforce and slower cornering speeds.  However, consider this, the high downforce in the IRL results in very high cornering speeds, and the IRL drivers are indeed paying dearly. They are getting injured 450% more than CART drivers and part of that is directly attributable to how, fast, and, therefore, how hard they are slamming those concrete barriers in the corners. If you recall in this technical article I wrote on Crumple Zones, the amount of energy you hit a wall with is directly proportional to the velocity squared.  Bones break when they hit hard concrete walls. That's just something every IRL driver has to live with. The choice is theirs.  Mark C.

5/27/03

Hunter-Reay fans take note Ryan Hunter-Reay will be appearing with the Microsoft No Limits tour next Wednesday, June 4th at the Microsoft TechEd trade show at the Dallas convention center in Dallas, Texas. Hunter-Reay will be available for questions and autographs.

5/27/03

Nadeau moved to rehab   Winston Cup driver Jerry Nadeau was released from the hospital and moved to a rehabilitation center, nearly a month after crashing during practice at Richmond International Raceway. Nadeau left the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center on Monday and was moved to the Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation in Charlotte, N.C. Doctors said Nadeau was improving daily and ``on an excellent recovery path,'' according to a news release Tuesday.

5/27/03

CART stock watch 

MPH closed at $2.44 Down $0.11 on Volume of 97,500 shares.
$1.81 Bid - $2.78 Ask on close.
Session Low/High $2.33/$2.63
MPH Value Change Down 4.31%
DOW Jones Up 179.97 or 2.9% on Volume of 1.9 billion shares.
NASDAQ Up 46.6 or 3.09%
S&P 500 Up 18.26 or 1.96%
Courtesy of C3I.AndersonGroupe - Chicago
www.andersongroupe.com

5/27/03
Industry News

Vodafone posts earnings rise   Vodafone has posted a 26% rise in their annual core earnings. The company did make a pre-tax loss of $9 billion - although this was half the loss they had last year. The company has almost 120 million subscribers.

5/27/03

$15,000 boat anchor   If you have a boat that needs an anchor, you can buy a 2002 Chevy IRL engine on eBay for $15,000. The good news is that it's in mint condition. You have 6 days to place your bid.

5/27/03
Industry News

Satellite to grow to 30 million in USA   Chase Carey, who will become president/CEO of DirecTV owner Hughes Electronics after News Corp. completes its acquisition of 34 percent of the company, boldly predicted the U.S. satellite market will expand from its present 20 million subscriber base to 30 million by the end of the decade. "It's well within reach," he said.

5/27/03

Ex-Ferrari employees suspected of trying to sell Ferrari secrets  According to German magazine Auto, Motor, und Sport a group of former Ferrari engineers tried to sell top secret plans of Ferrari's dominant F2002 car to rival Formula One teams. The allegations have been denied as 'rubbish' by Ferrari whose spokesman Luca Colajanni denied knowledge of such reports. However a separate report in the magazine claims that the Italian Scuderia suspected a technician who had worked successively for short stints at Ferrari, Renault and McLaren after finding secret plans on his computer. Some reports linked the engineers with Toyota, but these rumors were flatly denied by team principal Ove Andersson. "No Ferrari engineers have offered us any data," he said. "Not from former Ferrari engineers, or from current ones. Toyota Motorsport does not condone any sort of industrial espionage."

5/27/03

Coca-Cola 600 TV ratings up again    The Coca-Cola 600 on FOX turned in overnight numbers of a 4.9 rating and 10 share, up 2 percent from last year's 4.8 overnight rating. Last year's final rating was a 5.1.  If trends continue, look for the Coca-Cola 600 to finish with a higher rating than the Indy 500 once the small markets are figured into Friday's final ratings.

5/27/03

More tires  Due to the increased practice time for the Milwaukee event, as well as the fact that the road-course package will decrease fuel mileage and force teams to make one more pit stop than they had to make last season, Champ Car Racing Operations has raised the tire allotment for each team, giving them eight sets of Bridgestone tires to use for the event.

5/27/03

Better wings means better racing  In another move to increase the intensity of the racing and ensure that competitors will be able to race hard and pass on the fast Milwaukee oval, Champ Car Racing Operations have mandated that the road-course aero package will be in effect for Milwaukee, increasing downforce and allowing for two grooves of racing.

5/27/03

Pit windows in effect   Champ Car voted last month to remove the mandatory pit window rule for all road and street courses, but kept the option to use them for oval tracks in order to discourage fuel-economy racing. Champ Car Racing Operations will have the pit windows in use for this weekend’s event, setting them at 59 laps around the 1.029-mile circuit.

5/27/03

Q&A with Tom Howett, President Toyota Motorsports  50-year-old Englishman John Howett graduated with distinction from the Loughborough College of Technology in 1973 and has 25 years experience with Toyota. Howett spent 3 years working for Toyota Team Europe, coordinating the rally team's service and preparation operations alongside Ove Andersson in the late 1970s.  Transcript

5/27/03

Renault to go with conventional V-angle  Renault Sport has announced that it will be building a conventional V10 engine next year. This marks the end of the company's wide-angle V10 engine and puts the team well behind its rivals in terms of developing a conventional V10, usually around 90-degrees. "Our objective," team boss Flavio Briatore is quoted as saying, "is to design an engine that can respond to the demands of the new regulations, imposing one engine per race weekend, while at the same time maintaining our performance targets. Basically, this will be a high-performance engine, reliable for practice and the race. In order to guarantee reliability it will have a "traditional" architecture, but without any increase in weight. It will have a high level of performance because it will benefit significantly from the technological solutions that Viry-Chatillon has developed over the past three years. Far from this being a step backwards, however, the innovative expertise of Viry means we will be able to develop a one-weekend engine (750 km) with weight and performance equal to those of an engine lasting half the distance. Whilst the centre of gravity height of the engine is an important factor, the integration of the whole chassis, engine and gearbox package in order to achieve a balanced, stiff package combined with both low mass and low centre of gravity is of greater importance. The new engine configuration for 2004 will not hinder us in this respect. The key part of our strategy is to achieve complete integration of chassis and engine. The new engine will answer a precise brief and "wish-list" from the Enstone team headed by Mike Gascoyne. The engine and chassis teams will develop the overall package step-by-step in total synergy. We have implanted at Enstone a small engine branch, Engine Development UK (ex-TWR), which will be managed by Viry Project Manager Pascal Tribotte".

5/27/03

Lowes signs long-term deal with Hendrick   Lowe's, primary sponsor of the No. 48 NASCAR Winston Cup Chevrolet, announced today it signed a five-year contract extension with car co-owners Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon. Hendrick Motorsports also extended the contracts of driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus, keeping what is already regarded as one of the best driver/crew chief combinations together for at least another five years. "Jimmie's on-track performance over the past year has helped Lowe's become one of the most recognizable sponsors in NASCAR," said Dale Pond, Lowe's senior executive vice president of merchandising/marketing. "The team's performance, dedication and determination exemplify the team spirit Lowe's employees feel as they work together to serve our customers every day." Under Knaus' direction on the track, Johnson won three times during his rookie season, including a sweep at Dover International Speedway. He was the first rookie in Winston Cup history to lead the point standings and finished fifth in points for the season. This year, Johnson won The Winston all-star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway and is currently sixth in the points standings. "The confidence and support of a great sponsor is an important part of our success on the track," said Johnson. "Chad, the entire No. 48 team, and I are proud to represent Lowe's, its employee-owners, and customers who have supported our team strongly from the very beginning."

5/27/03

Big teams push small teams aside   This Indy Star article talks about the issue in the IRL (and other series) whereby all the big CART teams have come in and pushed all the IRL teams aside, many out of business.  Not much different from when they were in CART.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

5/27/03
Industry News

Bumps in road for Honda   This AP article says, Honda has racked up its best profits in a half-century of existence and earned a quality ranking that U.S. automakers can only wish for. So why is Honda's former president calling the No. 2 Japanese automaker "inferior" and "headed downhill?" Nobuhiko Kawamoto, Honda's president from 1990-98, said he felt "a sense of crisis" for Honda because its growth has always been precarious as it tries to keep up with Toyota, Japan's top automaker. Kawamoto, who now acts as adviser and director at Tokyo-based Honda, is also concerned about a reshuffling of the company's top management.  Honda Motor Co. does have its problems. Despite booming sales in the United States, where Honda makes 60 percent of its sales, sales are plunging at home in Japan, a notoriously finicky and brand-conscious market. And the tide of strong sales is expected to turn soon in North America, where purchases have been inflated by rebates and other discount campaigns, analysts say. Honda President Hiroyuki Yoshino announced his resignation last month, earlier than expected, in what was widely interpreted as a concession of a need for younger leadership to rev up the company image at home and ride out growing global competition......"We're an inferior company compared to established companies like Toyota," he said. "Honda is headed downhill." Honda is clearly outmuscled by Toyota, the world's third-largest automaker. Toyota has ambitions to control 15 percent of the global market by around 2010, which would put it neck-and-neck against Detroit-based General Motors Corp., the No. 1 automaker in the world. And Honda appears particularly small next to its rivals at a time when all the world's automakers have been merging or forming alliances to boost profits by producing more cars.

5/27/03

SARS concern could hurt Toronto Indy race   This Canadian Press article says, the World Health Organization put Toronto back on the list of areas affected by SARS. The U.S., from which the Molson Indy draws a large number of fans, has also placed Toronto back on a travel alert. ``The latest SARS outbreak is being contained to hospitals,'' Singleton said. ``Molson Indy is a world-class event. We're open for business and we'll continue to be open for business. ``Yes, we're concerned. We'll follow it on the next steps and what's happening. It's a sad thing, but hopefully they'll contain it and we'll move on.'' The Molson Indy, the Blue Jays and World Wrestling Entertainment will announce Tuesday the offering of a three-for-one admission package to the race, a Jays game and WWE Smackdown! on July 8. Ontario travel and tourism minister Brian Coburn, who presented Singleton with a sponsorship check of $200,000, said he was in the efforts against the virus, adding governments must continue to say Toronto is safe. Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey agreed that news of the latest outbreak would cause some people to hesitate about coming to Toronto. ``The headline blast without looking at the details of what's actually taking place is the scary thought,'' he said. ``Everyone in Toronto who has been close to the situation knows that the outbreak is isolated to medical institutions, rehabilitation centers and homes for the aged and not spread throughout the community. We have to continue to drive that point home.''

5/27/03
Fran-Am

Braun and Bruno win again  Following an action-packed first leg on Saturday, competitors in the second round of the Fran-Am 1600 USA West Championship Doubleheader at Willow Springs expected much of the same on Sunday. Indeed, the top three qualifiers, Colin Braun, Darryl O’Young and John Knudsen, all qualified within 5/100 of a second, so the stage was certainly set for a repeat of the previous day’s activities. However, as soon as the green flag dropped, young 14 year-old phenom Braun, racing for Team Speed Secrets, set about proving that his win the previous day, in his first-ever car race, was no fluke. Braun immediately pulled out a lead over the rest of the field and held that lead until the end of the race. The battle for second was another story. Brian Frisselle of Knudsen Racing and Brad Coleman of World Speed Motorsports battled furiously with championship points-leader O’Young of CT Motorsports throughout the race, with the trio eventually finishing in the aforementioned order at the checkered flag. Although Fran-Am 1600 constant front-runner and comparatively veteran road-racer Knudsen failed to finish Sunday’s race, his enthusiasm for the quality of the competition over the weekend was obvious…especially with regard to the talented group of youngsters he raced against. “The competition this weekend with the new young drivers was nothing but the best formula car racing I’ve been a part of in 10 years,” said Knudsen following Sunday’s event. “Side-by-side, wheel-to-wheel, nose-to-tail racing is what is going to make this year extremely competitive and exciting. My helmet off to Fran-Am…great job!” After three rounds in the Fran-Am 1600 USA West Championship, O’Young holds a slim 5 point lead over 15 year-old Coleman, who has garnered three podium finishes in his first three formula car races. Following his two consecutive victories and despite missing the first round in Phoenix, Braun sits tied for third place with Frisselle, only a further five points back.

5/27/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Trulli's 'Mind-Body' Workout
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'No Reason To Leave' Williams
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Kimi Can't Wait For MP4-18
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Alonso Eyes History At Monaco

5/26/03

De Ferran collects $1.35 million, Takagi wins ROY award  Gil de Ferran, 2003 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race winner, earned $1,353,265 for his victory May 25 in the 87th running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” according to unofficial prize figures announced May 26 at the Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration. De Ferran’s winnings were part of a record event purse totaling $10,151,830, which is comprised of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League awards, and other designated awards. The previous record event purse was awarded in 2002, when the Speedway presented the 33 drivers and teams of the starting field with $10,028,580, the first time the purse surpassed the $10-million mark. Helio Castroneves won $739,665 for his runner-up performance in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, which included $100,000 for winning the MBNA Pole Award. He fell just short of becoming the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 three consecutive times. Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, took home $486,465. Japanese driver Tora Takagi, driver of the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, earned the Bank One Rookie of the Year Award and $25,000 for his fifth-place finish. Takagi was not only the highest-finishing rookie but also qualified an impressive seventh for the race.

5/26/03

Pruett gambles wrong way  Scott Pruett gambled that it would stop raining in today's Trans-Am race at Lime Rock and left his sway bars connected, while those who gambled it would stay wet disconnected theirs to soften the suspension up, a common trick when it rains.  As it turned out, the rain never let up and Pruett's Jaguar was a beast, eventually finishing three laps down.

5/26/03

Miller wins at Lime Rock  Johnny Miller has made it clear he was sick of being a bridesmaid this season. On Monday, Miller—who has finished on the podium in the first three races of the 2003 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup championship—finally got his trip to the altar, at Lime Rock Park, and won the rain-soaked Trans-Am 100, part of the Mohegan Sun Presents the Lime Rock Park Grand Prix. In the process, the driver of the No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR, gave Jaguar its first Lime Rock victory, and he took the points lead in this year’s Drivers’ Championship. Miller, who handed Jaguar its first Lime Rock pole on Saturday, lost the lead to Stu Hayner (No. 2 Trenton Forging/GMAC Commercial Finance Chevrolet Corvette) at the start of the race when his windshield fogged up. Miller rebounded on lap 13, and took the lead when Hayner spun off course in turn two. He wasn’t headed from there and won by 1.506 seconds. “I absolutely couldn’t see a thing,” said Miller, who recorded his second-career victory Monday. “We went about five laps about dead blind. I just followed the trail of mist behind Stu. After about five laps, the dew cleared, and we were able to run.” Miller added to his perfect weekend, where he was fastest in both of the practice sessions he took part in. Miller won the Flowmaster American Thunder Challenge for winning the pole, leading the most laps and setting the race’s fastest lap. He also earned the BFGoodrich® Tires Take Control Award for leading the most laps. “We just had a great car,” said Miller. “It was flawless.” Rookies Bobby Sak (No. 10 Revolution Motorsports Jaguar XKR) and Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) finished second and third, respectively, marking best-career finishes for both. Sak took second after contact with Brian Simo (No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR) on lap 33 and held off Diaz during a one-lap dash to the finish after the race’s final caution. “We didn’t want to see that last caution,” said Sak. “We had a shot at it. The car was awesome. I was hoping for rain and got it.” Diaz overcame early windshield wiper problems and a late spin to finish third. “I think this was an awesome race,” said Diaz. “This was my first race in the rain. One of my wipers broke, and we had to pit to fix it. We then had to work traffic to get back through the pack. I couldn’t be happier.” Hayner finished fourth, ahead of former Lime Rock Park winner Paul Newman, who recovered from an early spin to record the top five. The race ran in one hour and 15.49 minutes at an average speed of 80.446 miles per hour. It was slowed three times for 12 laps. The race became a timed race and ran within the 75-minute window due to inclement weather. Miller now unofficially leads the points with 117 markers, ahead of former points leader Scott Pruett, who spun late in the event and finished 12th. Diaz, Hayner and Michael Lewis complete the top five in points. The next race, Round 5 of the 2003 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup Championship, is scheduled for June 22 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Results:
1. (1) Johnny Miller, Jaguar XKR, 59, Running.
2. (6) Bobby Sak (R), Chevrolet Corvette, 59, Running.
3. (5) Jorge Diaz, Jr. (R), Jaguar XKR, 59, Running.
4. (3) Stuart Hayner, Chevrolet Corvette, 59, Running.
5. (10) P.L. Newman, Chevrolet Corvette, 59, Running.
6. (7) Tomy Drissi, Jaguar XKR, 59, Running.
7. (4) Brian Simo, Jaguar XKR, 58, Running.
8. (8) Michael Lewis, Jaguar XKR, 58, Running.
9. (11) Joey Scarallo(R), Chevrolet Corvette, 58, Running.
10. (12), John Baucom, Jaguar XKR, 57, Running.
11. (9) Randy Ruhlman, Chevrolet Corvette, 57, Running.
12. (2) Scott Pruett, Jaguar XKR, 56, Running.
13. (14) Michael Brockman, Chevrolet Camaro, 56, Running.
14. (16), Garrett Kletjian(R), Chevrolet Corvette, 56, Running.
15. (75) Tim Cowen, Ford Mustang, 53, Running.
16. (15) Simon Gregg, Chevrolet Corvette, 42, Running.
17. (17) Peter Rogal(R), Jaguar XKR, 1, Suspension.

5/26/03

Hats off to Paul Newman  UPDATE Not only did Newman qualify 10th, he finished 5th in today's race in absolutely horrible rainy conditions. The former Lime Rock Park winner, Newman, recovered from an early spin to record the top five.  Newman made his return to the series after a 9-year hiatus. Of his fifth-place finish Monday, Newman remained a man of few words. “I would have preferred to finish second,” said Newman with a laugh.  Monday’s race marked the first full-wet race for the Trans-Am Series since Road America in 2001. Due to wet conditions Monday, the race ran in a 75-minute window. The race was originally scheduled for 66 laps, and had no time limit.  5/26/03 - Our hats off to Newman Haas team owner Paul Newman who qualified a very respectable 10th in a Corvette for today's Trans-Am race at Lime Rock, Connecticut. He was 1.5 seconds off of pole and less than 1 second behind the fastest Corvette.

5/26/03

Reader asks some pointed questions  A reader writes, Dear AR1,  I thought it was wonderful how Dario, when asked about last year's race told the truth that Tracy had won from the evidence he saw. But I noticed that nowhere in any newspapers, was last year's outcome even mentioned. Even though ESPN covered the 1981 race that was disputed with Bobby Unser and Mario Andretti, I never heard Paul Tracy's name during any of the broadcast leading up to the race. In one of the most controversial finishes ever, it was never brought up. It's like it never happened. I can't believe that there has not been an independent probe by someone about how video of this race hasn't seen the light of day. If it's conclusive to the IRL, then show it to the world and let the fans decide. Amazing the number of spins there were on pace laps. I saw at least two. Did Sarah Fisher's engine really blow up or are they covering up another crash by their "Most popular driver." Have cars at Indy always been able to run flat out in the corners. Cruise control is all that's needed to run at Indy huh? That doesn't sound like racing to me, we call it steering where I come from. Sam Chamberlin, Mansfield, OH  Dear Sam, Regarding Tracy's Indy 500 fiasco, to make matters worse, some say Helio would not have finished the race if not for that caution.  Reports were he was heard yelling to his crew over the radio, fuel! fuel!  I guess we will never know, but because the IRL refuses to show the evidence to the public, it raises everyone's suspicions - what do they have to hide?  As for the spins on the pace laps, it's happened before too.  Drivers spin their rear tires to get heat in them and sometimes lose control if they are not careful.  As for Sarah, nice woman, but she has had her fair share of crashes at Indy, though this one appears to be the result of a blown Chevy engine.  Indy is the only IRL track where the cars are not loaded with massive amounts of downforce to glue them to the track.  You can lose control.  As for 100% throttle racing in the IRL, we have complained about that for years.  It appears they are more concerned about the show.  And here we were delusional thinking racing was supposed to be a sport where the athlete's talent meant something.  It's sad really.  Mark C.

5/26/03

Takagi should win rookie of the year award  Tora Takagi, driver of the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, finished fifth in the Indy 500. He was the highest-placing rookie and should be in line to win rookie of the year honors at tonight's banquet. “I am very happy with this result in my first Indy 500 race,” Takagi said. “My car was always fast this month. I wish I could have finished about two places higher, because I think we were capable of finishing at least third. But overall, I am happy with being the highest-finishing rookie in the race. That is a great honor. "Now I understand what everybody was trying to tell me about the Indy 500. It is a very special place and a very special race. Not just the race, but all of the nice things that happen before the race, all of the traditions.”

5/26/03
Industry News

A review of auto racing - trouble down the road  This excerpt from the ChronWatch article says, With the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600 scheduled on Sunday, the Memorial Day weekend is always the time that the nation's sports pages take stock of the state of auto racing and present a progress report to sports fans that this time of year have their heads (with caps worn backwards) stuck in endless baseball games and the NBA and NHL playoffs. My personal report card shows little to write home about: open wheel racing (CART and the rival Indy Racing League which must be discussed as one) are basically in trouble both artistically and economically and NASCAR, even on an accelerated growth spiral in recent years, may also be headed for trouble down the road.  More....

5/26/03

Hand to participate in Town Meeting  Joey Hand, driver of the DSTP Motorsports Swift 014.a will take part in CART’s hugely popular Town Meeting tour when it visits Cleveland on June 2. The Town Meeting precedes the U.S. Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix which will be held on Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport on July 3-5. Hand, who is competing in his second full season in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship after winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2001, will take in the tour for the first time. With the DSTP Motorsports team headquartered in nearby Chesterland, Ohio, Hand is a natural fit to participate in the meeting when it is held in Cleveland. “When we race at the Cleveland airport it is always special to myself and the team,” said Hand, who was partially sidelined during the 2002 season while recovering from injuries sustained in a testing accident in Milwaukee. “To represent the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship at the town meeting is a real honor. I’m not only looking forward to the town meeting, but to the race a month later. Cleveland is one my favorite events on the schedule because of its proximity to our shop and because of the race I had there in 2001.”

5/26/03

Big Indy crowd, but still empty seats  This Orlando Sentinel article says pretty much what AR1 saw, Even at the outset of the 87th running of the Indy 500, there were signs of trouble -- sights never before seen at the 500, by anyone alive: Empty seats in significant numbers. Even along the once-coveted upper decks along the front stretch, there were scattered half-rows of empty seats. And in the towering grandstands in the turns, some large gaps showed, especially in turn 3. Among 300,000-plus reserved seats, the shortfall was impossible to estimate. Regardless, organizers of any other sports event in the world would be happy with the attendance Indy drew Sunday. But the gaps were enormously symbolic. Bare aluminum seating simply had never shone through at the 500, once the race started. Speedway officials tried to write off the shortfall mostly to the sagging economy. But through all the previous recessions since World War II, Indy, even with all those seats, had remained a notoriously tough ticket, right up there with the Masters and Super Bowl. Before the first CART boycott here, in 1996, tickets with $150 face value went for as much as $1,000 each on race morning. By '97 those same tickets could be had for $5 or $10, and the scalping market has remained depressed. But even as the civil war deepened through the late '90s, and the sellout softened, the grandstands were always full. For Sunday's race, the quality of the field had healed as much as could be expected. But the attendance may have been a delayed reaction to the deterioration of the race's image. "That mystique cannot be violated," Mario Andretti had said the other day. "And somehow that's what happened. I think the fans have spoken. They've lost the interest that was there for this American institution of an event. My heart aches." After Michael's final disappointment here, "My heart is all in pieces for him," Mario said. And then even the Andrettis were gone, another little piece of the Indy mystique broken away.

5/26/03

Andretti's departure, Indy's loss  This Orlando Sentinel article says, the Andrettis rounded a corner of Gasoline Alley in a golf cart, Mario driving, Michael the blank-faced passenger, leaving the Indianapolis 500 early as usual. And with them trickled a little more life's blood out of what once was the greatest motor race in the world. Not even halfway through the race, Michael was finished in this, his last ride. Mario was driving his son back to the garage and into retirement, oh-for-forever in the Indy 500. This was the end of the 38-year Andretti saga at Indy, one of the epic studies in the human spirit woven into the 500 for so long, to make the fabric so rich. This was another bright hue faded, from an event in dire need of restoring color to its face. This was a classic Andretti exit from Indy: First Michael had led Sunday's race with such ease as to surprise himself, and he delighted in knowing that only a slight adjustment of the car would make him much faster. For the umpteenth time in his career he could sniff the long-elusive victory here. Then, of course, some trifling little part broke, "maybe the smallest screw," he said, "the story you've heard so often at this place, the 10-cent part." At the moment, he felt "numb, to be honest with you." Slowly he began to feel "disappointed and happy and sad and a million different emotions." "Same song, different day," gray-haired Mario said of this last manifestation of the Andretti luck. "My legacy," said Michael, "is the most laps [ever] led by a non-winner [426]. That's what I didn't want to retire with, but that's what it's gonna be. Somebody told me I'm only three laps shy of Rick Mears for laps led." And he asked rhetorically, "How many times did he win here?" Four. And Mario, who got the family's only win here in 1969, led more laps here through the years, 556, than A.J. Foyt, 555. Foyt won four times. The Andrettis dominated; others won. That was the Andretti luck. And even that bittersweet pizzazz is gone from Indy now. Michael was the last big-name link to Indy as Olympus -- before the disastrous 1996 schism in American open-wheel racing -- who could actually lead, excite the crowd and at least threaten to win here.

5/26/03

Foyt IV costs Castroneves place in history  UPDATE Ed Hinton writes in the Orlando Sentinel: Young Foyt affected the outcome of the race, all right, if you listen to Helio Castroneves, who said he feels he lost the race because of the kid's erratic driving. To process Castroneves' limited English regarding the winning pass of the race, when he was overtaken for keeps by Penske teammate Gil de Ferran: young Foyt first looked like he was going to do one thing and then did another, "and then he stops in the middle [of whatever he was doing] . . . so I have to push the brakes and downshift to fourth." Thus jammed up against the unpredictable rear of young Foyt's car, Castroneves was held up. So his hopes of becoming the first-ever winner of three consecutive Indy 500s vanished as de Ferran shot inside him, never to be headed.  5/25/03 - AJ Foyt IV was so much slower than all the drivers on the track at Indy today it appears his grandfather, AJ Foyt, must have dialed a massive amount of downforce and drag into the car so he would not spin out and crash again.  Though he did brush the wall once, he finished the race as the last person running, 11 laps behind.  More importantly, because he was so slow, he balked Helio Castroneves while being lapped for the 11th time just enough that Gil de Ferran slipped past Castroneves.  Once in front, de Ferran held off Castroneves, but it should be noted that had it not been for that balk, de Ferran was unable to pass Castroneves, who would have won his record third straight Indy 500.  ``I was trying to take it easy,'' Castroneves said. ``Unfortunately, I took it too easy. You can't sleep at all at this place. This place is always full of surprises.'' A.J. Foyt defended his grandson. ``He wasn't blocking,'' Foyt said. ``I told him to back off and let them go. He was smart enough to do that.''  Competitors scanners were crackling all race long about Foyt's driving, he was a moving and weaving chicane.  Once he fell behind, Castroneves still figured he'd have a chance to catch up. The main problem was that three yellow flags kept slowing his momentum. By the time the final restart came with six laps left, it was clear he wouldn't be able to overcome an equally strong car - unless he took a major risk that might have cost both Penske drivers the race. ``Once one of them is in the lead, playing those kind of games isn't worth anything at all,'' Penske said.

5/26/03

De Ferran collects $1.35 million, Takagi wins ROY award  Gil de Ferran, 2003 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race winner, earned $1,353,265 for his victory May 25 in the 87th running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” according to unofficial prize figures announced May 26 at the Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration. De Ferran’s winnings were part of a record event purse totaling $10,151,830, which is comprised of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League awards, and other designated awards. The previous record event purse was awarded in 2002, when the Speedway presented the 33 drivers and teams of the starting field with $10,028,580, the first time the purse surpassed the $10-million mark. Helio Castroneves won $739,665 for his runner-up performance in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, which included $100,000 for winning the MBNA Pole Award. He fell just short of becoming the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 three consecutive times. Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, took home $486,465. Japanese driver Tora Takagi, driver of the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, earned the Bank One Rookie of the Year Award and $25,000 for his fifth-place finish. Takagi was not only the highest-finishing rookie but also qualified an impressive seventh for the race.

5/26/03

Pruett gambles wrong way  Scott Pruett gambled that it would stop raining in today's Trans-Am race at Lime Rock and left his sway bars connected, while those who gambled it would stay wet disconnected theirs to soften the suspension up, a common trick when it rains.  As it turned out, the rain never let up and Pruett's Jaguar was a beast, eventually finishing three laps down.

5/26/03

Miller wins at Lime Rock  Johnny Miller has made it clear he was sick of being a bridesmaid this season. On Monday, Miller—who has finished on the podium in the first three races of the 2003 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup championship—finally got his trip to the altar, at Lime Rock Park, and won the rain-soaked Trans-Am 100, part of the Mohegan Sun Presents the Lime Rock Park Grand Prix. In the process, the driver of the No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR, gave Jaguar its first Lime Rock victory, and he took the points lead in this year’s Drivers’ Championship. Miller, who handed Jaguar its first Lime Rock pole on Saturday, lost the lead to Stu Hayner (No. 2 Trenton Forging/GMAC Commercial Finance Chevrolet Corvette) at the start of the race when his windshield fogged up. Miller rebounded on lap 13, and took the lead when Hayner spun off course in turn two. He wasn’t headed from there and won by 1.506 seconds. “I absolutely couldn’t see a thing,” said Miller, who recorded his second-career victory Monday. “We went about five laps about dead blind. I just followed the trail of mist behind Stu. After about five laps, the dew cleared, and we were able to run.” Miller added to his perfect weekend, where he was fastest in both of the practice sessions he took part in. Miller won the Flowmaster American Thunder Challenge for winning the pole, leading the most laps and setting the race’s fastest lap. He also earned the BFGoodrich® Tires Take Control Award for leading the most laps. “We just had a great car,” said Miller. “It was flawless.” Rookies Bobby Sak (No. 10 Revolution Motorsports Jaguar XKR) and Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) finished second and third, respectively, marking best-career finishes for both. Sak took second after contact with Brian Simo (No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR) on lap 33 and held off Diaz during a one-lap dash to the finish after the race’s final caution. “We didn’t want to see that last caution,” said Sak. “We had a shot at it. The car was awesome. I was hoping for rain and got it.” Diaz overcame early windshield wiper problems and a late spin to finish third. “I think this was an awesome race,” said Diaz. “This was my first race in the rain. One of my wipers broke, and we had to pit to fix it. We then had to work traffic to get back through the pack. I couldn’t be happier.” Hayner finished fourth, ahead of former Lime Rock Park winner Paul Newman, who recovered from an early spin to record the top five. The race ran in one hour and 15.49 minutes at an average speed of 80.446 miles per hour. It was slowed three times for 12 laps. The race became a timed race and ran within the 75-minute window due to inclement weather. Miller now unofficially leads the points with 117 markers, ahead of former points leader Scott Pruett, who spun late in the event and finished 12th. Diaz, Hayner and Michael Lewis complete the top five in points. The next race, Round 5 of the 2003 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup Championship, is scheduled for June 22 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Results:
1. (1) Johnny Miller, Jaguar XKR, 59, Running.
2. (6) Bobby Sak (R), Chevrolet Corvette, 59, Running.
3. (5) Jorge Diaz, Jr. (R), Jaguar XKR, 59, Running.
4. (3) Stuart Hayner, Chevrolet Corvette, 59, Running.
5. (10) P.L. Newman, Chevrolet Corvette, 59, Running.
6. (7) Tomy Drissi, Jaguar XKR, 59, Running.
7. (4) Brian Simo, Jaguar XKR, 58, Running.
8. (8) Michael Lewis, Jaguar XKR, 58, Running.
9. (11) Joey Scarallo(R), Chevrolet Corvette, 58, Running.
10. (12), John Baucom, Jaguar XKR, 57, Running.
11. (9) Randy Ruhlman, Chevrolet Corvette, 57, Running.
12. (2) Scott Pruett, Jaguar XKR, 56, Running.
13. (14) Michael Brockman, Chevrolet Camaro, 56, Running.
14. (16), Garrett Kletjian(R), Chevrolet Corvette, 56, Running.
15. (75) Tim Cowen, Ford Mustang, 53, Running.
16. (15) Simon Gregg, Chevrolet Corvette, 42, Running.
17. (17) Peter Rogal(R), Jaguar XKR, 1, Suspension.

5/26/03

Hats off to Paul Newman  UPDATE Not only did Newman qualify 10th, he finished 5th in today's race in absolutely horrible rainy conditions. The former Lime Rock Park winner, Newman, recovered from an early spin to record the top five.  Newman made his return to the series after a 9-year hiatus. Of his fifth-place finish Monday, Newman remained a man of few words. “I would have preferred to finish second,” said Newman with a laugh.  Monday’s race marked the first full-wet race for the Trans-Am Series since Road America in 2001. Due to wet conditions Monday, the race ran in a 75-minute window. The race was originally scheduled for 66 laps, and had no time limit.  5/26/03 - Our hats off to Newman Haas team owner Paul Newman who qualified a very respectable 10th in a Corvette for today's Trans-Am race at Lime Rock, Connecticut. He was 1.5 seconds off of pole and less than 1 second behind the fastest Corvette.

5/26/03

Reader asks some pointed questions  A reader writes, Dear AR1,  I thought it was wonderful how Dario, when asked about last year's race told the truth that Tracy had won from the evidence he saw. But I noticed that nowhere in any newspapers, was last year's outcome even mentioned. Even though ESPN covered the 1981 race that was disputed with Bobby Unser and Mario Andretti, I never heard Paul Tracy's name during any of the broadcast leading up to the race. In one of the most controversial finishes ever, it was never brought up. It's like it never happened. I can't believe that there has not been an independent probe by someone about how video of this race hasn't seen the light of day. If it's conclusive to the IRL, then show it to the world and let the fans decide. Amazing the number of spins there were on pace laps. I saw at least two. Did Sarah Fisher's engine really blow up or are they covering up another crash by their "Most popular driver." Have cars at Indy always been able to run flat out in the corners. Cruise control is all that's needed to run at Indy huh? That doesn't sound like racing to me, we call it steering where I come from. Sam Chamberlin, Mansfield, OH  Dear Sam, Regarding Tracy's Indy 500 fiasco, to make matters worse, some say Helio would not have finished the race if not for that caution.  Reports were he was heard yelling to his crew over the radio, fuel! fuel!  I guess we will never know, but because the IRL refuses to show the evidence to the public, it raises everyone's suspicions - what do they have to hide?  As for the spins on the pace laps, it's happened before too.  Drivers spin their rear tires to get heat in them and sometimes lose control if they are not careful.  As for Sarah, nice woman, but she has had her fair share of crashes at Indy, though this one appears to be the result of a blown Chevy engine.  Indy is the only IRL track where the cars are not loaded with massive amounts of downforce to glue them to the track.  You can lose control.  As for 100% throttle racing in the IRL, we have complained about that for years.  It appears they are more concerned about the show.  And here we were delusional thinking racing was supposed to be a sport where the athlete's talent meant something.  It's sad really.  Mark C.

5/26/03

Takagi should win rookie of the year award  Tora Takagi, driver of the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, finished fifth in the Indy 500. He was the highest-placing rookie and should be in line to win rookie of the year honors at tonight's banquet. “I am very happy with this result in my first Indy 500 race,” Takagi said. “My car was always fast this month. I wish I could have finished about two places higher, because I think we were capable of finishing at least third. But overall, I am happy with being the highest-finishing rookie in the race. That is a great honor. "Now I understand what everybody was trying to tell me about the Indy 500. It is a very special place and a very special race. Not just the race, but all of the nice things that happen before the race, all of the traditions.”

5/26/03
Industry News

A review of auto racing - trouble down the road  This excerpt from the ChronWatch article says, With the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600 scheduled on Sunday, the Memorial Day weekend is always the time that the nation's sports pages take stock of the state of auto racing and present a progress report to sports fans that this time of year have their heads (with caps worn backwards) stuck in endless baseball games and the NBA and NHL playoffs. My personal report card shows little to write home about: open wheel racing (CART and the rival Indy Racing League which must be discussed as one) are basically in trouble both artistically and economically and NASCAR, even on an accelerated growth spiral in recent years, may also be headed for trouble down the road.  More....

5/26/03

Hand to participate in Town Meeting  Joey Hand, driver of the DSTP Motorsports Swift 014.a will take part in CART’s hugely popular Town Meeting tour when it visits Cleveland on June 2. The Town Meeting precedes the U.S. Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix which will be held on Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport on July 3-5. Hand, who is competing in his second full season in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship after winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2001, will take in the tour for the first time. With the DSTP Motorsports team headquartered in nearby Chesterland, Ohio, Hand is a natural fit to participate in the meeting when it is held in Cleveland. “When we race at the Cleveland airport it is always special to myself and the team,” said Hand, who was partially sidelined during the 2002 season while recovering from injuries sustained in a testing accident in Milwaukee. “To represent the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship at the town meeting is a real honor. I’m not only looking forward to the town meeting, but to the race a month later. Cleveland is one my favorite events on the schedule because of its proximity to our shop and because of the race I had there in 2001.”

5/26/03

Big Indy crowd, but still empty seats  This Orlando Sentinel article says pretty much what AR1 saw, Even at the outset of the 87th running of the Indy 500, there were signs of trouble -- sights never before seen at the 500, by anyone alive: Empty seats in significant numbers. Even along the once-coveted upper decks along the front stretch, there were scattered half-rows of empty seats. And in the towering grandstands in the turns, some large gaps showed, especially in turn 3. Among 300,000-plus reserved seats, the shortfall was impossible to estimate. Regardless, organizers of any other sports event in the world would be happy with the attendance Indy drew Sunday. But the gaps were enormously symbolic. Bare aluminum seating simply had never shone through at the 500, once the race started. Speedway officials tried to write off the shortfall mostly to the sagging economy. But through all the previous recessions since World War II, Indy, even with all those seats, had remained a notoriously tough ticket, right up there with the Masters and Super Bowl. Before the first CART boycott here, in 1996, tickets with $150 face value went for as much as $1,000 each on race morning. By '97 those same tickets could be had for $5 or $10, and the scalping market has remained depressed. But even as the civil war deepened through the late '90s, and the sellout softened, the grandstands were always full. For Sunday's race, the quality of the field had healed as much as could be expected. But the attendance may have been a delayed reaction to the deterioration of the race's image. "That mystique cannot be violated," Mario Andretti had said the other day. "And somehow that's what happened. I think the fans have spoken. They've lost the interest that was there for this American institution of an event. My heart aches." After Michael's final disappointment here, "My heart is all in pieces for him," Mario said. And then even the Andrettis were gone, another little piece of the Indy mystique broken away.

5/26/03

Andretti's departure, Indy's loss  This Orlando Sentinel article says, the Andrettis rounded a corner of Gasoline Alley in a golf cart, Mario driving, Michael the blank-faced passenger, leaving the Indianapolis 500 early as usual. And with them trickled a little more life's blood out of what once was the greatest motor race in the world. Not even halfway through the race, Michael was finished in this, his last ride. Mario was driving his son back to the garage and into retirement, oh-for-forever in the Indy 500. This was the end of the 38-year Andretti saga at Indy, one of the epic studies in the human spirit woven into the 500 for so long, to make the fabric so rich. This was another bright hue faded, from an event in dire need of restoring color to its face. This was a classic Andretti exit from Indy: First Michael had led Sunday's race with such ease as to surprise himself, and he delighted in knowing that only a slight adjustment of the car would make him much faster. For the umpteenth time in his career he could sniff the long-elusive victory here. Then, of course, some trifling little part broke, "maybe the smallest screw," he said, "the story you've heard so often at this place, the 10-cent part." At the moment, he felt "numb, to be honest with you." Slowly he began to feel "disappointed and happy and sad and a million different emotions." "Same song, different day," gray-haired Mario said of this last manifestation of the Andretti luck. "My legacy," said Michael, "is the most laps [ever] led by a non-winner [426]. That's what I didn't want to retire with, but that's what it's gonna be. Somebody told me I'm only three laps shy of Rick Mears for laps led." And he asked rhetorically, "How many times did he win here?" Four. And Mario, who got the family's only win here in 1969, led more laps here through the years, 556, than A.J. Foyt, 555. Foyt won four times. The Andrettis dominated; others won. That was the Andretti luck. And even that bittersweet pizzazz is gone from Indy now. Michael was the last big-name link to Indy as Olympus -- before the disastrous 1996 schism in American open-wheel racing -- who could actually lead, excite the crowd and at least threaten to win here.

5/26/03

Foyt IV costs Castroneves place in history  UPDATE Ed Hinton writes in the Orlando Sentinel: Young Foyt affected the outcome of the race, all right, if you listen to Helio Castroneves, who said he feels he lost the race because of the kid's erratic driving. To process Castroneves' limited English regarding the winning pass of the race, when he was overtaken for keeps by Penske teammate Gil de Ferran: young Foyt first looked like he was going to do one thing and then did another, "and then he stops in the middle [of whatever he was doing] . . . so I have to push the brakes and downshift to fourth." Thus jammed up against the unpredictable rear of young Foyt's car, Castroneves was held up. So his hopes of becoming the first-ever winner of three consecutive Indy 500s vanished as de Ferran shot inside him, never to be headed.  5/25/03 - AJ Foyt IV was so much slower than all the drivers on the track at Indy today it appears his grandfather, AJ Foyt, must have dialed a massive amount of downforce and drag into the car so he would not spin out and crash again.  Though he did brush the wall once, he finished the race as the last person running, 11 laps behind.  More importantly, because he was so slow, he balked Helio Castroneves while being lapped for the 11th time just enough that Gil de Ferran slipped past Castroneves.  Once in front, de Ferran held off Castroneves, but it should be noted that had it not been for that balk, de Ferran was unable to pass Castroneves, who would have won his record third straight Indy 500.  ``I was trying to take it easy,'' Castroneves said. ``Unfortunately, I took it too easy. You can't sleep at all at this place. This place is always full of surprises.'' A.J. Foyt defended his grandson. ``He wasn't blocking,'' Foyt said. ``I told him to back off and let them go. He was smart enough to do that.''  Competitors scanners were crackling all race long about Foyt's driving, he was a moving and weaving chicane.  Once he fell behind, Castroneves still figured he'd have a chance to catch up. The main problem was that three yellow flags kept slowing his momentum. By the time the final restart came with six laps left, it was clear he wouldn't be able to overcome an equally strong car - unless he took a major risk that might have cost both Penske drivers the race. ``Once one of them is in the lead, playing those kind of games isn't worth anything at all,'' Penske said.

5/26/03

Hats off to Paul Newman   Our hats off to Newman Haas team owner Paul Newman who qualified a very respectable 10th in a Corvette for today's Trans-Am race at Lime Rock, Connecticut. He was 1.5 seconds off of pole and less than 1 second behind the fastest Corvette.

5/26/03

Pink leaping cat for Jaguar  Jaguar is set to turn heads this weekend at the Monaco Grand Prix, not just for the celebrity-led diamond glamour program it is undertaking but also for its unique one-off look – a pink Jaguar leaper on the engine cover of the Jaguar R4 Formula One car in place of the traditional white leaping cat. The pink leaper – the first of its kind in Jaguar’s history – will adorn both Jaguar R4’s from Thursday 29th May as driven by Australian Mark Webber (26) and Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia (22) at what is arguably the most glamorous motor racing event in the world. Jaguar took the one-off decision to color its signature-leaping cat pink in celebration of the Steinmetz Flawless Diamond Collection and the world debut of the Steinmetz Pink – a 59.60-carat, internally flawless, fancy pink diamond – that will be unveiled in Casino Square on Thursday 29th May. The pink leaper on the Jaguar R4 will be complemented with a diamond sparkle in its eye. Jaguar Cars and Jaguar Racing have for the 2003 Monaco Grand Prix partnered with Steinmetz – creators of the world’s finest diamonds, The Diamond Trading Company and Formula One Publishing in this first-of-its-kind event that will bring horsepower and diamond glamour together in a seamless association. The events will be spread over four days and include some of the biggest names from fashion, music and Hollywood. “Pink diamonds are very rare and very beautiful, making them a top-end luxury product, just like Jaguar’s cars,” said Bob Dover, Chairman of Jaguar Cars and Board Member of Jaguar Racing. “The pink leaper on this year’s Monaco F1 car reflects our relationship with them,” added Bob. Jaguar’s leaping cat has been adorning the front of its cars since 1938 and has become a symbol of luxury and performance engineering. It was re-designed and re-launched on 1st January 2003.

5/26/03

Watson warns Coulthard he could lose ride  Former McLaren driver John Watson has warned David Coulthard to improve his performances or risk looking for a new team at the end of the year. Coulthard's contract with McLaren expires at the end of the year, leaving him in a precarious position. Watson told The Sunday Mirror newspaper: "McLaren are always looking at the available options in the driver market and they will be analyzing David's driving very carefully." "There's no doubt that Kimi has got the better of David this year and the facts bear that out. Kimi is leading the championship, David is fifth." "You can't keep saying it will get better, as David does. This is David's 10th year in Formula One, his eighth at McLaren. He's 32, Kimi is 23. David's got to stop wittering and just get out and do it because if he thinks he can improve he's got a shock coming from Kimi. That boy is certainly going to improve." "I thought David's win at Monaco last season was the drive of the year, holding off Michael Schumacher the way he did. If he could reproduce that form it would go down a treat. But he needs to do it consistently," he said. "David still has plenty going for him. He's a very good racer, as he showed in Austria by moving up from 14th on the grid to fifth in the grand prix. He's known by everyone in the team and liked by McLaren's partners. He gives you the continuity and the experience, which of course Kimi doesn't have yet." "The fact is you can't see any obvious candidate out there to take over from David. (Jaguar's Mark) Webber might have been a possibility, but I don't know who is available and who McLaren would want." "But Ron wants to win the Constructors' Championship - and to do that he needs David to be further up the grid, giving himself a far better chance of winning. Ron and David have never had the closest of relationships. It's always been a professional relationship, and Ron summed up his feelings after qualifying last week, when he said David made three mistakes and that was unacceptable."

5/26/03

Fans, drivers unhappy with 600 decision   The decision to close the show did not go over well with fans, who booed and jeered loudly, and a number of drivers who never had a chance to chase down Johnson. "I am dumbfounded," Johnson said. "I expected to be doing doughnuts on the frontstretch to celebrate. But we'll take it this way." Fearing driver fatigue -- both from the drivers in race cars and the folks trying to get back home on the interstate -- NASCAR officials decided to call it a night. "If we had no rain the rest of the night, it would take us at least three hours, and that's 12:30 getting started back," NASCAR President Mike Helton said. "Enough's enough." Still, it wasn't a universally popular decision among the gang at pit road. "I'm certainly not happy calling the race at 9:30 at night and it's not raining," said Matt Kenseth, who finished second. "I sure wish we would have waited it out a little bit." "It just quit raining, and all the fans were cheering."

5/26/03

Drivers complain about Foyt IV all race long  Scanners during the race picked up dialogue of drivers complaining about the slower speed of Foyt IV and the hazard he was causing (nothing worse than a moving chicane). A number of crews expressed concern about A.J. Foyt IV, the youngest driver to start the Indy 500. "A.J.'s been real slow and he's been pretty shaky, so keep an eye on him," someone in Roger Yasukawa's pits said as their driver exited pit road.  The elder Foyt took exception to the criticism. "They all came out and said they were all going to go by on the outside, and then they dive under you," Foyt said. "You're going to have crybabies all your life. They ain't got no room to talk. They forgot when they started all the mistakes they made and all the crap they tore up, so let 'em cry."  [Editor's Note:  Many a rookie have come to Indy, not crashed, qualified well, and finished high.  Foyt IV had the best engine, a Toyota, yet all the rookies in the field out drove him and none of them crashed four times during the month like young Foyt did.  It's time his grandfather stop making excuses for him].  More....

5/26/03

Indy still the biggest  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1, I read your note that Indy is still the biggest race in the world. It may be right in terms of attendance. I do, however, suspect that, after the demise of the Indy 500 since the CART/IRL split, LeMans has a higher attendance. I believe it’s well over 300.000. In terms of worldwide audience, i e TV-viewers, F1 races has much higher ratings. Most people outside the US and certainly here in Europe haven’t even heard of the Indy 500 and for us petrolheads who have, most of us don’t really care anymore. Personally I’m just happy that my old favorite de Ferran won and relived that there wasn’t any serious injuries. This weekends Monaco Grand Prix surely attracts a much much higher world wide interest and TV ratings than the Indy 500. Regards, Hans Vigen, Oslo, Norway  5/25/03 - For all the doom and gloom about the demise of the Indy 500 race, the stands were pretty full today, at least along the main straight. (Don't know about the TV ratings yet, of course). From overhead TV shots you could definitely see some empty seats, but there were many more empty seats at last year's F1 race, particularly in the Tower Terrace (inside middle of main straight).  Attendance was estimated at about 250,000 to 275,000, making the Indy 500 still the biggest race in the world.

5/26/03

Yoong steps down from Dale Coyne ride   Malaysia's ex-Formula 1 driver, Alex Yoong confirmed that he has been asked to step down from the Dale Coyne Racing seat after four Champ Car races with the team. This information was officially relayed by Dale Coyne to Yoong's manager, Rick Gorne, over the weekend. This is a blow to the young Malaysian's progress as he had chalked up good results and impressed many in the Champ Car paddocks in the four races he participated in Champ Car this year. "There is simply not enough interest in the series from Malaysia at the moment and we have not been able to find the necessary funding to complete the year." said a philosophical Yoong. "I am grateful to Dale Coyne for having given me the chance to prove that I can do the job. Dale officially informed my manager over the weekend that Gualter Salles of Brazil will be replacing me from Milwaukee onwards and I like to wish the team all the best for the rest of the season." Meanwhile, Yoong who is sponsored by Malaysia Airlines, is not giving up on finding another drive elsewhere in Champ Car or in other series. He intimated, "There are some other possibilities available and I will have to see what provides the best opportunity to further my career. I have really enjoyed driving in The Champ Car World Series though and would love to continue racing in the CART series there." A sponsorship marketing spokesperson who is assisting Yoong in marketing explained that although it is disappointing that there was little success in securing the sponsorship required from Yoong's own country, it was at the same time not unexpected due to the current depressed state of the economy worldwide. He said the post-Iraq war uncertainties with the continuing threat of terrorism as well as SARS are affecting income forecasts by companies in Malaysia big time, "It is very natural for the companies in Malaysia and Asia to be cautious in the face of these uncertain times. We can see this cautious approach in sponsorship prevalent not only in this region but worldwide as well. We hope the situation will turn around for the better in 6 to 12 months time." the spokesperson added.

 5/25/03

Laughing stock  A reader writes, Dear AR1, Tony wanted rid of foreign drivers, rid of foreign engines, rid of engine leases and rid of the racing elite, so he started the IRL. On paper it sounds good to the average American race fan right? Kind of like Winston Cup with no fenders or something like it. Well look around Tony, you’ve got all the things you hated about CART and to boot you have seriously damaged open American wheel racing with the split. Maybe Mr. George just wanted to boost his pride/ego and be the “man” in charge. As an avid race fan and competitor I have really tried to give the IRL a chance. I watched the 500 flag to flag today and had to laugh at the IRL. Penske 1-2, ABC touting the IRL bla bla bla, all the CART big teams up front etc... I guess the more things change the more they stay the same. Amused and disappointed. Bruce Guthrie, Santa Monica, CA  Another reader writes, If I was as good at my job as Tony G has been at his... that of building up American racing then I'd need a new job. Great race as CART goes 1-3 again as they may not be in the series anymore but it is still the same guys and teams. Still waiting for that American national anthem though. I was in hysterics when it ended. Tony may be close to killing off one corporation but all it has done is morph into another that now fields all the same guys he got mad at before but now they directly take his money in order to fill up his field. Hysterical.  John Costello Another writes, Just got back from Indy. For all the doom and gloom about the demise of the race, the stands were full today, at least along the main straight. (Don't know about the TV ratings yet, of course). I sat opposite Jimmy Vasser's pit (my little ChampCar world!), about 100 feet before the start finish in the Paddock section, 15 rows up. I could see up and down the main straight, including Turns 1 and 4. I saw virtually no empty seats. There were many more empty seats at last year's F1 race, particularly in the Tower Terrace (inside middle of main straight). Paul Josephson

5/25/03

G-Force wins Indy  The Panoz G Force chassis led more than half the Indy 500 race today with Scheckter leading 63 laps, Scott Dixon 15, Takagi 2 and de Ferran 31 including the final 30. "We are really thrilled to win our third Indy 500 today, it is a great result for everybody at the factory," Don Panoz said. "The fact that the car was made in Georgia is a great result for our State. With the Penske team running one of our chassis and one of the opposition, the way the result worked out was just brilliant. "I am sure everybody at the factory involved in making this win a reality will be very proud. Simon Marshall and the design team has done a brilliant job." The victory by de Ferran today marks the third time that Panoz G Force has won the first Indy 500 after the introduction of new chassis regulations - having previously achieved the feat in 1997 with Arie Luyendyk and 2000 with Juan Montoya. It is also the second victory of the year in the IRL IndyCar Championship after Scott Dixon claimed victory at the opening round at Homestead. "We always believed we had a very strong car for the race conditions," Panoz G Force Director of Sales, John Biddlecombe said. "Qualifying didn't go as planned, but having five of the top eight cars at the finish was very pleasing. "There is obviously a great deal of satisfaction for Gil and the Penske team, especially since they switched to our chassis for this weekend. "From Don Panoz right down to everybody at the factory in Braselton, Georgia - this is a fantastic result. This is America's greatest race, and for a car built here in the USA to win this race is fantastic. "The car was very fast in qualifying last year, but we were unlucky in the race, this year it was the other way round. "Our aim now is to continue this performance and set our sights on the championship. "We have now won two of the four races and there are a couple of tracks coming up which will really suit our car. We have been in position to win every race in 2003 which has covered every track configuration - short ovals, medium ovals and super speedways.

5/25/03

Toyota trounces competition at Indy  Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "We're just ecstatic to win the biggest race in the world on our first attempt. To compete in and win the Indianapolis 500 has been Toyota's goal for the past 10 years. We're fortunate to have such a terrific group of teams and drivers. This is a total team effort -- from the drivers and teams to our track support people and everyone back in the shop at Toyota Racing Development in Costa Mesa (Calif.). Winning the pole showed we had speed, but we've also really worked hard in terms of durability and fuel mileage. With a tremendous effort by Gil de Ferran and Marlboro Team Penske, all the hard work paid off today."

  • Gil de Ferran’s victory is his first Indianapolis 500 win, his first victory of the season and the third of his IRL career. The win marks the third consecutive victory for Marlboro Team Penske, which has registered five top-two finishing positions in the last three Indy 500s.

  • Toyota-powered cars took six of the top seven and seven of the top nine spots in today’s finishing order. Tomas Scheckter (Target Toyota) was fourth behind the two Marlboro Team Penske teammates, with Mo Nunn Racing teammates Tora Takagi (Pioneer Toyota) and Alex Barron (Meijer Toyota) finishing fifth and sixth and Tony Renna (Cure Autism Now/HomeMed Pharmacy) in seventh.

  • Toyota-powered cars led 170 of the 200 laps today including 131 of the final 133. Five different Toyota-powered cars led the race with Tomas Scheckter leading a race-high 63 laps and Helio Castroneves leading 58.

  • Today’s victory marks the first for Toyota in its first attempt at the Indianapolis 500. It is the third win for Toyota in four IndyCar Series events. Toyota-powered drivers have now captured nine of the 12 ‘top-three’ finishing positions in the season’s first four races. Dating back to last season’s CART competition, Toyota has now won 13 of its last 23 races.

  • Toyota-powered Tora Takagi was the top finishing rookie with a fifth-place finish today – two spots ahead of fellow Toyota rookie Tony Renna.

5/25/03

Crew member released from hospital   Doug Hardwick, the vent man for Shinji Nakano’s No. 54 Beard Papa’s Dallara/Honda/Firestone, was released in good condition from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis on May 25 after a pit-road accident during the 87th Indianapolis 500, said Dr. Henry Bock, director of medical services for the Indy Racing League. Hardwick, from Indianapolis, was hit by the left rear tire of Nakano’s car as Nakano left the pits after a pit stop.

5/25/03
German DTM

Albers wins German DTM race at the Nürburgring  

1 Christijan Albers (Mercedes) 41 laps in 1h 1m 38.184s
2 Marcel Fässler (Mercedes) + 7.954s
3 Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 12.668s
4 Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) + 15.400s
5 Peter Dumbreck (Opel) + 19.280s
6 Alain Menu (Opel) + 34.671s
7 Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 36.495s
8 Christian Abt (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 37.356s

5/25/03

What a wanker   Dear AR1, Watching live timing and scoring I could not help but notice AJ Foyt IV is already 8 laps behind before the half-way mark, and he is the last place running car.  His granddaddy came on the radio and told him he had better go faster or they will run right over him.  Brian Barnhart from race control came on the radio and said he had better go faster or he will park Foyt.  Oops he just went down 9 laps.  He can't get out of the way fast enough.  Meanwhile his teammate Dare is on the lead lap with the same chassis and powerful Toyota engine.  This kid is a total wanker and has no business driving Indy Cars.  He simply did not inherit any of his granddaddy's genes.  I have seen rookies with talent do well in their first Indy 500.  Not this kid.  Either you have it or you don't.  He never had it and never will.  This is an example of nepotism in American Motorsports at its worse. It's not a matter of how good you are, it's who your granddaddy is.  And you wonder why Europeans look down their nose at American drivers?  Jeff Pickens, Houston, Texas

5/25/03
Formula 3

Piquet Jr. wins first of two at Silverstone   Rising star Nelson Piquet Jr has won the first of two British F3 races at Silverstone this weekend, winning from pole position.

5/25/03

Nepotism rampant in American Motorsports   Nepotism has weakened and tainted American Motorsports.   In American racing, it's not what you know; it's who your daddy knows. In Europe, it does not matter who your daddy is, if you can't cut the mustard you are out.  This Orlando Sentinel article says, Let's sneak into the Indy 500 pits before today's race and listen in on this completely confidential and utterly fabricated conversation between A.J. Foyt Jr. and his grandson, A.J. IV. A.J. IV: "Please, Granddaddy, don't make me get in that car. I'm scared! I'm scared! I'm scared!" A.J. Jr (grabbing A.J. IV by the ear and squeezing): "Boy, you want to go get a real job? You better get in that car right now or the next car you'll be driving will be a '74 Gremlin." And so now I ask you: How are we supposed to take racing seriously when A.J. IV, who turns 19 today, becomes the youngest driver to ever start an Indy 500? You know and I know that if his name were A.J. Jones or A.J. Smith or A.J. Bianchi, the only race he'd be running would be the Friday Night Trophy Dash at Bithlo Speedway. "He's going to hurt himself and someone else if he's not careful," said Bobby Unser, a three-time winner of the 500.......Foyt IV is the latest and most glaring example of why professional racing is not a real sport: How can it be? These aren't the best drivers in the world; they're simply the most qualified kinfolk. Nothing in sports is more offensive than how racing tries to pass off its drivers as the best in the world when they're really just the best of the brood. Indy Racing is not nearly as guilty of it as NASCAR, which I've always contended stands for Nepotism Association for Stocking Cars with Appreciative Relatives. NASCAR is not just the sport of jeans; it's the sport of genes.  More....a must read

5/25/03

Elliott may use sub at Sears Point   Although Bill Elliott said his left foot isn't hurting, he's walking with a severe limp. Elliott suffered three broken bones in his left foot in a crash at The Winston last weekend. Car owner Ray Evernham said the injury could take at least four weeks to heal. Evernham said the team has talked about possibly using another driver when the series heads to the road course in Sonoma, Calif., next month. Elliott might need a substitute at the road course because of all the braking and shifting. Roanoke Times

5/25/03

Elliott may use sub in 600-mile enduro   Bill Elliott will start 32nd in tonight's 600mile race with three broken bones on the top of his left foot and a broken toe, and he admits that the injury is causing him some problems. "It's not hurting me," Elliott said. "I've just got to figure out how to brake correctly with this new deal. ...We'll just see how it goes." The new deal Elliott referred to is a carbon-fiber brace his team has fashioned for him, aimed at keeping him from bending the foot and, potentially, doing further damage that might require surgery, team owner Ray Evernham said. "He really can't feel how much pressure he's putting on the brake," Evernham said. "He felt bad about qualifying because he really couldn't get his rhythm." Evernham said his biggest worry is how much pain Elliott will feel over the course of a 600-mile race. "Six hundred miles' worth of vibration in one of these cars going through broken bones is going to be a lot of pain," Evernham said. "Bill's got a touch of the flu, too. It has not been a great week for the No. 9 bunch." Ted Musgrave will be on stand-by in case Elliott needs a relief driver during the 600. ThatsRacin.com 

5/25/03

The Indy 500 may not be the days top race   This LA Times article talks about the Indy 500 vs. the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowes Motor Speedway.  The Indianapolis 500, choking on the exhaust fumes of a Sunday night stock car race in Charlotte, N.C.? The Indianapolis 500, just another brick in the yard? For longtime racing observers, who remember when Andretti and Foyt and Unser took a back seat to no one, this was the Super Bowl getting upstaged by the Arena League, Slamball outperforming Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Across the country, sports editors noticed. The ratings represented more than NASCAR capitalizing on a better television window -- Indy is a morning race, the Coca-Cola 600 airs in prime time. The ratings marked a crossroad that was first spotted on the map in 1996, when open-wheel racing grabbed the golden goose and sliced it in half, creating rival circuits -- CART and the Indy Racing League -- along with confusion among fans and the opening NASCAR had long sought. By 2002, the chase was over. NASCAR, cagily marketed and newly armed with a network television contract, had caught and passed Indy in the Nielsens.  "To me, just the fact we were even having a debate says a lot about how far NASCAR has come," Herald sports editor Richard Bush said. "And maybe a little about how Indy's slipped. "I think the Indy 500 is still a big deal, but I don't think it has nearly the same significance as it used to. You go back 10 years, 12 years, 15 years, before the (IRL-CART) split and all the problems, and I would put the Indy 500 in the same ballpark with the Super Bowl and the World Series and events that people kind of plan their lives around to watch. I don't think the Indy 500 has that pull anymore."......."The fact we're sending our top (racing) writer to Charlotte clearly indicates how much we think that race has gained over the years," Post sports editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz said. "And that's a direct indication of how far Indy has fallen." The St. Paul Pioneer Press used to send a reporter to Indianapolis two weeks ahead of the race, a practice it continued until the late '90s. This year, for the second year in a row, the Pioneer Press will not have anyone at Indy......Since 1994, Indianapolis has hosted its own NASCAR event, the Brickyard 400, and "It's huge," Lefko said. "Some would say it's bigger than the 500. They wouldn't say that in the month of May. But in the month of August, it's a harder ticket to get. ......Locally, the 500 has had a lot of bad breaks. The last few years it seems the weather in May has just been awful. You'll have a big day and the weather won't comply. Or it'll be gorgeous weather but nothing's happening." Last year, those breaks, and the television ratings, finally caught up with Indy. Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of corporate communications, suspects it will be more of the same Sunday. "That's a shame too," Hunter said. "I mean, I'm happy, I want NASCAR to do well, obviously. But I also hate to see what's happened in open-wheel racing."

5/25/03

Pre-empted by softball   A reader writes, There was a television listing on ESPN entitled "Indy 500 2003 Preview". I tuned in just for laughs. The program was preempted by women's softball. Need I say more.  Mr. Sanderson  Dear Mr. Sanderson, It's sad to see really.  Such a great American institution reduced to just another big race.  All caused by one man's crusade to control the sport.  We can only hope that the creation of the IRL and the subsequent fracturing in two of everything related to open wheel Indy car style racing doesn't lead to its ultimate extinction.  Unfortunately, all signs point that way right now.  Mark C.

5/25/03

He's fooling himself   With all the negative stories in the press about this year's Indy 500, I started wondering what Tony George and the IRL feel about it in private.  They must be totally depressed about it. Toyota, Honda, big name teams, Big named drivers and millions of dollars spent by Tony himself to promote the Indy 500 and the IRL. Giving money to teams to run a car to fill out the Indy lineup. The list goes on and on. The whole thing is a joke. If Tony thinks he's winning he's fooling only himself. Mike from Ohio  Dear Mike, Sometimes we wonder if the IRL is really just a personal vendetta of Tony's to kill CART (because they never respected him), as well as a power play to control the sport.  Business founded out of spite, or out of personal crusades, are usually not well founded and eventually wither and die.  Open Wheel oval track racing is dead in the USA.  NASCAR is King of the ovals and it will be a cold day in hell before the France family allows the IRL to erode even 1% of its oval track business.  As soon as it does that, and because they control many of the tracks the IRL races on, they will put the squeeze on Tony and the IRL, squishing them like a bug at the appropriate time.  Those who believe in conspiracy theories will tell you that Bill France encouraged Tony George to create the IRL, knowing full well the split would eventually kill off open wheel racing, opening the door for stock car racing to flourish.  We don't know about conspiracy theories, but so far this one is spot on.  Tony took the bait, hook, line and sinker.  Mark C.

5/25/03

Fisichella likes Monaco  Giancarlo Fisichella says, “Monaco is my favorite circuit. It's a fantastic location, with the unique street circuit and the beautiful harbor setting, ”The atmosphere is unbelievable and it's always exciting on the track. ”I have had some great podium and points results here and I always feel very comfortable driving this circuit. ”It is elaborate, not easy, and you have to concentrate to drive well as there is no room for mistakes. ”I love the track. It's really demanding and this is what F1 racing is all about." Jordan’s Director of Race and Testing Engineering, Gary Anderson, believes that their number one driver is set to go well at next weekend’s GP. “Giancarlo knows Monaco very well and I’m looking forward to working with him here because he’s a real specialist. ”It’s a race that demands controlled aggression and a lot of finesse otherwise you end up with a lot of bits around you. ”The driver has a lot of input so it’s something of a performance leveller. It will be very different and difficult to work strategies out. ”There is almost no passing at Monaco and you have to be very careful to get the best out of it. ”The mistakes in one lap qualifying will have a much higher price so we could see a topsy-turvy grid and certainly an interesting race.”

5/25/03

Crumbling Brickyard   A reader writes, this ESPN Page 2 article "Crumbling Brickyard" was an excellent article. Written honestly by a qualified "non fan." It was the "non fan" or as we like to call them, "place fan" that put Indy on the map. There is no doubt that the west side of Indianapolis has per capita very knowledgeable fans. Get 40 miles outside of Speedway Indiana however, and the luster has really been knocked off this event. I thought the comments "It is your father's 500" really rang home. I sure hope he never runs into Defender, but something tells me Jim Armstrong won't be shopping for second rate T-shirts on 16th Street anytime soon. I also doubt that Mr. Armstrong could tell you what a credential is, so He wont mind not getting any. This is an article much like Robin Miller's the other day, one written by a man with passion for the sport, the other by a man who had a passing interest. Had it not been for NASCAR at Indy, the IRL would have never gotten off the ground. The 500 will only be missed by the most loyal fans. I will go out on a limb with predictions that this woman golfer will be a bigger drawl on the television this weekend than any race, NASCAR included. The sentiments of this article are 100% correct. The backyard barbecues, the Memorial Day picnics where the radio is included in the festivities is a dying tradition. My parents are a perfect example, for they no longer care about the race. They can tell you who won up to about Villeneuve circa 1995....., but that's about it. Same could be said for all my siblings. We are not unique. Indy is dead, and like all things gone, they never come back. Ziggy

5/25/03

Jenkins tries to defend Indy 500   USA Today: "Rudy Martzke Column" (5/23) Excerpt: ABC's Bob Jenkins defended the beleaguered Indy Racing League from media putdowns of unsold seats for the race and claims that a full field of 33 cars would not be achieved. "I'm defending the Indy 500 (ABC, noon ET) as the greatest spectacle of racing 30 years ago and today," Jenkins said. "The IRL has put together the most competitive motor sports series in the U.S. Last year the average of winning was about a second." The IRL might have close races, but so few are watching - the circuit averaged 1.1% of U.S. homes last year besides Indy. And since the birth of the IRL precipitated the split in Indy racing with CART, the Indy 500 ratings have fallen 43% in seven years to last year's 4.8 - below the 5.1 for Fox's NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 night race when more homes are using television.

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