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DATE

News (chronologically)

7/12/03

Pook claims no vendetta against Tracy   This Autosport.com article says, Champ Car President and CEO Chris Pook says that he has no vendetta against championship leader Paul Tracy and that reports in the Canadian media of an altercation between the two last week in the Cleveland pit lane were inaccurate. Pook told representatives from the Forsythe team that he was unhappy that Tracy wore shorts to a PR function at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The CART boss approached Tracy following preliminary qualifying the following day at Cleveland last weekend to express his displeasure, and he was later admonished by executives from team sponsor Players cigarettes about the public nature of his action. "It's gotten completely blown out of proportion," Pook said Saturday in Toronto. "(Paul) blew up for 30 seconds or a minute and that was it. It was a one-way conversation. The problem is (the media) didn't see it. They speculated, they were fed some information and it got blown into a full-blown controversy. They talked about pushing and shoving and all kinds of crap, but that's total fiction. It's totally in their imagination." Tracy, who has emerged as the Champ Car series biggest star, has been shadowed by controversy throughout his 13-year career. That 'bad boy' image was exactly what Player's and Forsythe were looking for when they signed the 34-year old to a multi-year contract. "Paul is a colorful character, and he's also an extremely good racing driver," Pook noted. "Like a lot of colorful athletes, from time to time they step across the line pertaining to the rules of conduct that are expected of them by their sanctioning body. It's not unlike a wayward kid. "In the opinion of the CEO, he stepped across the line, so he got admonished," Pook added. "It's beyond me how it got to that magnitude, but maybe people were fanning the flames."

7/12/03

Big meetings for CART this week   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Thanks for all the insight into CART and its potential buyout. I read all the rumors about Bernie, Forsythe, Kalkhoven and Gentilozzi.  When is it going to happen and is it real?  Mario Lambazzi, St. Louis  Dear Mario, A CART Board meeting and a shareholder meeting will be held Thursday in Indy.  We hear it's possible that a deal may be put before the board at that time.  If it is, and if they vote to accept it, it can then be announced at the shareholders meeting.  However, the vote by the shareholders must be properly announced, materials mailed out and a formal vote taken per the SEC rules.  51% of the outstanding shares owned by the shareholders must vote to approve the deal.  If approved, all the shares are bought back from the shareholders at the offer price.  Taking a public company private is very complicated and many times results in lawsuits.  Chris Pook appears very confident that the deal will happen and be approved.  Though he won't comment publicly, he appears outwardly happier than ever.  Some people may criticize Pook for burning through a lot of CART's cash in the bank, but if he does land Bernie Ecclestone, and there are those who still say Bernie won't do it and that it's all smoke and mirrors, he will have accomplished what he was hired to do, to save CART and leave it in good hands.  We don't expect Bernie to take a visible role initially.  As we understand it, his contract in F1 with Kirch includes a non-compete clause, meaning he can't work for a competing series and still work for F1.  However, CART is not being sold as a competing series to F1, but a complementary series.   However, so as not to raise their ire, we suspect, he will remain behind the scenes with CART until the new F1 deal is completed and Kirch (really the banks now) relinquishes ownership either back to Bernie, or to the F1 manufacturers who want a bigger slice of the pie. Mark C.

7/12/03
IROC

NASCAR boys make IRL and dirt track drivers silly again   Glutton for punishment, there is no other way to describe it.  The IRL drivers continue to accept invitations to compete in the NASCAR, er.....we mean IROC, series, and they continue to get there heads handed to them on a platter.  The series so heavily favors NASCAR drivers these days, and the NASCAR drivers stick together, meaning the open wheel boys don't have a chance and it just makes the IRL drivers look inferior, and if anything, can't be helping their careers.  When are they going to start running 50% of these races in IROC "open wheel" cars? Today at Chicagoland, the NASCAR boys finished 1 thru 7 with the five open wheel IRL and dirt track drivers 8 thru 12th, i.e. last.  Mike Bliss, the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, won the event, scoring his first career IROC victory. NASCAR Winston Cup standout Kurt Busch leads the points standings 57-49 over Bliss. Hornish is in eighth place with 26 points while Giaffone/Sharp are in 10th with 15 points. Castroneves is in 12th with 13 points. Castroneves will start on the pole for the True Value IROC season finale Aug. 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of the Brickyard 400 weekend.

Results from Chicagoland

1) Mike Bliss, No. 4 Violet, 67 laps
2) Ryan Newman, No. 10 White, 67, -3.252sec
3) Kurt Busch, No. 1 Lime, 67
4) Kevin Harvick, No. 7 Gold, 67
5) Mark Martin, No. 2 Rose, 67
6) Greg Biffle, No. 3 Dark Blue, 67
7) Jimmie Johnson, No. 6 Powder Blue, 67
8) Sam Hornish, No. 6 Medium Blue, 67
9) Scott Sharp, No. 11 Red, 67
10) Danny Lasoski, No. 8 Orange, 67
11) Helio Castroneves, No. 12 Green, 39, vibration
12) Steve Kinser, No. 9 Cream, 38, engine

7/12/03

Prodrive improves driver lineup  Care Racing Development is going all out for Championship honors in the 2003 American Le Mans Series with its Prodrive Ferrari team and, with this aim in mind, has signed up two of international sportscar racing’s best known names in order to supplement its driver line up. David Brabham of Australia and Dane Jan Magnussen will be donning the scarlet of Ferrari to race alongside GTS class Le Mans winning duo Tomas Enge of the Czech Republic and Peter Kox of the Netherlands. Care Racing founder and instigator of the Prodrive Ferrari program, Frédéric Dor, explained the decision to revise the driver line up at this stage of the season: “It has become clear to me over the last year that, thanks to Prodrive, we have an exceptional racing car with the potential to win many races and Championships. The success of our Ferrari 550 Maranellos being campaigned in Europe by BMS Scuderia Italia has been fantastic, and Veloqx Prodrive Racing’s GTS win at Le Mans overcame many people’s doubts about the reliability of the car and, for me, was a dream come true.  When we returned to the American Le Mans Series, it also became clear that the level of competition had risen again and we need to match that progression in order to be able to truly compete and to win. We know that Tomas and Peter are a great team, well established with the car and each other, and we wanted to be able to give them an equal partnership in the other car to try to win the Championship.  Danica and Jerome both performed extremely well at Road Atlanta, given that they had had little time with the car and the track beforehand, but the advantage that David and Jan have is that they know each track very well and – as we know – can compete together at the highest level. We do not want to lose contact with any of our drivers so Care Racing is therefore planning to run a third Ferrari 550 for Danica, who fitted in with the team so well and who brought so much to us. This will happen as soon as a car is available to ship to the US and the necessary arrangements can be made. In the meantime Jerome will be racing for Care Racing in the Spa 24 Hours, the same weekend as Sears Point.”

7/12/03

Maia grabs pole in Toronto   Barber Dodge Pro Series Championship points leader Leo Maia extended his lead by one point today with his pole-winning time of 1:11.720 seconds on the 1.755 mile temporary street circuit in Toronto during final qualifying for Sunday's race. Maia will line up next to Friday's provisional pole winner David Martinez of Monterrey, Mexico. Dan Di Leo of nearby Markham, Ontario, Canada, came up just .019 seconds short in his bid for the pole, and will start the race from the third position next to Memo Rojas. Antoine Bessette and Nelson Philippe comprise the third row, with Colin Fleming and Chris Green lining up in the fourth row. Burt Frisselle and German Quiroga will take the green flag from ninth and tenth positions respectively. The pole is Maia's fifth of the season, and moves him one point closer to his ultimate goal-the Barber Dodge Pro Series Championship. After scoring fourth on the provisional grid in Friday's wet qualifying, Maia stepped up in the dry session to secure the pole.

Pos/#/Driver Hometown/Fastest Lap/MPH
1/6/Leonardo Maia/Oakland, Calif./01:11.720/88.093
2/47/David Martinez L./Monterrey, Mexico/01:12.366/87.306
3/19/Dan Di Leo/Markham, Ontario, Canada/01:11.739/88.069
4/15/Memo Rojas/Mexico City, Mexico/01:11.853/87.930
5/16/Antoine Bessette/St. Bruno, Quebec/01:12.107/87.620
6/26/Nelson Philippe/Valence, France/01:12.324/87.357
7/28/Colin Fleming/North Hills, Calif./01:12.479/87.170
8/96/Chris Green/Beaconsfield, Quebec/01:12.524/87.116
9/24/Burt Frisselle/Kihei, Hawaii/01:12.586/87.042
10/33/German Quiroga/Mexico City, Mexico/01:12.679/86.930
11/67/Scott Poirier/Deerfield Beach, Florida/01:12.705/86.899
12/23/Ward Imrie/Winnipeg, Manitoba/01:12.897/86.670
13/49/Luis Pelayo/Mexico City, Mexico/01:13.145/86.376
14/31/Al Unser/Corrales, New Mexico 01:13.153/86.367
15/34/Mike Richardson/Kelowna, B.C., Canada/01:14.633/84.654
16/88/Greg Long/Markham, Ontario, Canada/01:15.250/83.960
Track Length: 1.755
Qualifying Record: 01:11.554 (88.297 mph)
Rafael Sperafico July 2002

7/12/03

RuSport to step up to Champ Cars or IRL  UPDATE We spoke to Carl Russo today about his future plans.  Carl is a very astute businessman and team owner who knows clearly where he's going and how he wants to get there. "There are multiple ways to go racing.  You can be a participant, a competitor, a threat to win, a winner, a champion, and ultimately a dominator.  Clearly when you are a dominator, it's time to move up to the next level.  We are not quite there yet in Toyota Atlantic, though certainly we have proven to be winners.  We will have a meeting after Toronto and we will decide whether we are ready to do a partial year in either the IRL or in CART in 2004.  We are not ready to compete full time in either series yet. We are committed to another year full time in Toyota Atlantics for 2004 and if we do a partial year in 2004 in IRL or CART we will decide which races at some point in the future."  As for sponsorship, Russo isn't concerned.  "As with any business, first you must capitalize it, then produce and then sell.  Once we are producing (wins) we will be in a position to sell sponsorship," said Russo.  As for the bright yellow cars, "we went through a lot of trouble to get the yellow just right.  We have every intention of keeping our cars yellow with black decals, just like the Jordan team in F1.  The high contrast (black on yellow) is good and we will do our best to convince any sponsor to work with those colors."  It should be noted that the Williams F1 team has exactly this philosophy with their blue on white color scheme. Another prominent team in Toyota Atlantics told AR1 they are quite impressed with what RuSport has accomplished in their first year.  We mentioned that to Russo who said those compliments certainly are appreciated.  One thing is clear with Russo, he places a lot of emphasis on engineering staff, both on the car and back office or trailer office staff, who work on getting the car optimized for each circuit.  Walking into their transporter's engineering office, it appeared better equipped than many Champ Car teams.  This team is going places, and going fast (no pun intended). As to which series Russo will take his team to, that largely depends on what happens to CART in the next several weeks.  If CART is looking good for next year under new ownership, look for RuSport to move to Champ Cars. If CART were to go out of business then IRL will be their next move. Mark C.     7/5/03 - RuSport Toyota Atlantic team owner Carl Russo in the past has stated his goal was to advance to a senior open wheel circuit - either CART or the IRL - in one to three years. Russo told the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper yesterday this season's success has shaved that third year off the timeline. He said he is committed to Toyota-Atlantic next year, but might also test the waters on a limited basis in CART or IRL. Russo also is committed to developing American, or at least North American, drivers because "there aren't a lot of American drivers competing in what is an American series," he said.

7/12/03

Teddy Yip passes away  AR1 has learned that former F1 team owner Teddy Yip passed away on July 10th.  Our condolences to his family.

7/12/03

CART implements no blocking move   Unbeknownst to most, AR1 has learned that CART has implemented a no-blocking rule since Milwaukee.  That means a driver can't make any move whatsoever to defend from being passed.  He must stay on the racing line.  If he makes a move to block, even one move, he will be asked to do a drive-thru penalty or be asked to fall back behind the guy trying to pass.  This rule applies to all of CART's racing divisions.  Mark C.

7/12/03

Stoddart withdraws Silverstone threat  This TSN.ca article says, Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has cancelled his threat to protest the results of the upcoming British Grand Prix after a compromise was reached with other team owners. Stoddart says his threat to drop traction control from his cars as well as his opposition to the 2003 rules is "all gone". The British Grand Prix was supposed to be the race where traction control and other driver aids were to be banned under rules passed by FIA at the start of the year. However, a gentleman's agreement was reached with the governing body which would allow the electronic aids to continue until the end of the year. At the Canadian Grand Prix, Stoddart announced he was withdrawing his support of that agreement because the richest F1 teams had failed to come through on a promised 'fighting fund' to help the independent teams. Stoddart says since his threat, progress has been made in the area of the fund and while he would not get specific, some reports indicate Minardi has been guaranteed $8-million to see out the remainder of the season. The Aussie added he did not want any controversy to threaten the championship race, which sees four drivers separated by just 17 points.

7/12/03

Mosley also proposes Sunday qualifying  On the heels of Patrick Head proposing this, FIA president Max Mosley reiterated the idea of Sunday qualifying for F1..  "There's a lot of talk at the moment about the possibility of having the qualifying for the grid on Sunday morning," Mosley told Radio Five Live Formula One. "The idea would be to have exactly the same principle qualifying in the middle of the Sunday morning. On the Saturday you would have the qualifying on empty tanks, on the basis that that determines the order you come out for the Sunday qualifying. That would mean that somebody who went to the race on Sunday would really get a very full day's entertainment.  If we had Friday as a proper test day then the need for a separate test team would disappear, at which point the costs for a Formula One team would come down dramatically." Even if this proposal does not happen, Mosley said he is happy with the way the new regulations implemented this season have helped to level the playing field and turn both Championship races into true battles. At present the top four drivers in fight for the 2003 title are separated by 17 points, while the Constructors' table has Ferrari a mere three points ahead of Williams with McLaren a further 15 points back. "It's worked out probably better than we could have hoped but it's not entirely the new procedures," the FIA President said. "There's also been a leveling up at a technical level, and that's put pressure on Ferrari that wasn't there last year. All in all, it's looking like a very exciting end to the season, particularly because Williams have suddenly come good."

7/12/03

Barcelona Day 4, new McLaren shows speed  Day 4 at Barcelona (Friday) saw the new McLaren MP4-18A top the timesheets in Barcelona.  Alex Wurz posted a fast 1:17.611 during the morning session as eight teams battled it out.  The impressive lap time was not only the quickest of the final day but also of the week.  After weeks of frustration with the new car, and many delays, this is exactly the result McLaren would have sought.

1 Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m17.611s* 59
2 Luca Badoer Ferrari B 1m18.324s 109
3 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m18.414s 77
4 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m18.694s 129
5 Allan McNish Renault M 1m18.749s 87
6 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m18.891s 83
7 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m18.973s* 28
8 Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Honda B 1m19.013s 70
9 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m19.422s 72
10 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda B 1m19.747s 70
10 Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar M 1m19.892s 92
11 Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda B 1m20.463s 96
12 Neel Jani Sauber-Petronas B 1m21.757s 49

7/11/03

British government agrees to support racing  UPDATE According to this Guardian article, There will be no direct government subsidy to help with the finances of the British Grand Prix, despite the creation yesterday of a £16m fund designed to help sustain and develop the UK motor sport industry.  The announcement, coming only a week before this year's race at Silverstone, has renewed the focus on facilities at the British circuit which have been consistently criticized over the past few months by Bernie Ecclestone, the formula one commercial rights holder.  Max Mosley, the FIA president, praised the government initiative announced by the trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt. "The endorsement of motor sport by the UK government is a welcome example to other countries," he said. "I feel sure that the industry will now produce some innovative proposals.  "It is good that the government has got behind an industry with 3,000 small businesses. It creates a positive atmosphere which benefits every aspect of the sport, including formula one."  The DTI values motor sport's contribution to the UK economy at about £5bn, with the industry employing about 40,000 people.  Mosley, however, would not be drawn on the subject of uprating Silverstone, but an FIA insider took another pot shot at the track by describing its owner, the British Racing Drivers' Club, as "landlords letting out a slum property at five-star prices".    7/11/03 - The British Government has agreed to create a $24m fund to help sustain and develop the UK motorsports industry. The money will be used to implement recommendations made by the Motorsport Competitiveness Panel, which was set up to look at ways of strengthening the industry.  "In a fiercely competitive market we cannot afford to be complacent," said Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt. "The industry's high tech, high value, high skills base is exactly where the future of British manufacturing lies. It is crucial that this industry, which produces some of the most cutting edge products in the world, has the backing to innovate and move forward with confidence. I am particularly keen to back the industry because the powerful brand of Motorsport can excite people to pursue careers in high skilled industries such as engineering and electronics." The FIA responded to the announcement by saying that "this endorsement of motorsport by the UK government is a welcome example to other countries. I feel sure that the industry will now produce some innovative proposals. I believe the Secretary of State, Patricia Hewitt, should be congratulated on this initiative."

7/11/03

NASCAR mandates larger hood bolts  NASCAR on Friday issued a technical bulletin to Winston Cup teams stating that hood tethers must be attached to the hood plates using a minimum of 5/16 in. diameter hex head bolts with heavy duty, large diameter washers and lock nuts. The provision comes in response to an incident in the late stages of last Saturday's Pepsi 400 in Daytona, in which the bolt holding the tether to Robby Gordon's hood failed. The hood subsequently flew off the car and into the stands, injuring a female fan. NASCAR spent the week analyzing the data and information from the incident and determined a minimum bolt size was necessary to prevent similar instances in the future.

7/11/03

Martinez takes provisional pole in Toronto   David Martinez (photo right by Mark Cipolloni) of Monterrey, Mexico, took the pole position in first-round qualifying for Sunday's Barber Dodge Pro Series race in Toronto with a lap of 1:26.900 seconds on the 1.755-mile temporary street circuit. Colin Fleming of North Hills, California, secured second place on the provisional grid with a time that was just .049 seconds slower than Martinez, as Dan Di Leo of Markham, Ontario took third position with his best lap time of 1:27.257 seconds. Championship points leader Leo Maia secured fourth on the provisional grid, with Nelson Philippe fifth, followed by Memo Rojas and Burt Frisselle. German Quiroga, who finished a career-best third in the last round, qualified his Gigante machine in eighth, with Antoine Bessette and Scott Poirier rounding out the top ten. The half-hour qualifying session followed a brief thunderstorm which doused the track as the field was equipped with the Michelin SX rain tire to cope with the precipitation. The session ran under green conditions until the twenty-sixth minute, when the red flag was brought out to end the session after Greg Long, of Markham, Ontario, spun and suffered car damage. The provisional pole position is the second of the season for David Martinez, who is now guaranteed a front-row starting position in Sunday's race.

Pos/#/Driver Hometown/Fastest Lap/MPH
1/47/David Martinez L./Monterrey, Mexico/01:26.900/72.704
2/28/Colin Fleming/North Hills, Calif./01:26.949/72.663
3/19/Dan Di Leo/Markham, Ontario, Canada/01:27.257/72.407
4/6/Leonardo Maia/Oakland, Calif./01:27.351/72.329
5/26/Nelson Philippe/Valence, France/01:27.943/71.842
6/15/Memo Rojas/Mexico City, Mexico/01:27.948/71.838
7/24/Burt Frisselle/Kihei, Hawaii/01:28.536/71.361
8/33/German Quiroga/Mexico City, Mexico/01:28.876/71.088
9/16/Antoine Bessette/St. Bruno, Quebec/01:28.923/71.050
10/67/Scott Poirier/Deerfield Beach, Florida/01:29.179/70.846
11/23/Ward Imrie/Winnipeg, Manitoba 01:29.266/70.777
12/96/Chris Green/Beaconsfield, Quebec/01:29.320/70.734
13/49/Luis Pelayo/Mexico City, Mexico/01:29.793/70.362
14/31/Al Unser/Corrales, New Mexico/01:30.347/69.930
15/34/Mike Richardson/Kelowna, B.C., Canada/01:30.479/69.828
16/88/Greg Long/Markham, Ontario, Canada/01:33.624/67.483
Track Length: 1.755
Qualifying Record: 01:11.554 (88.297 mph)

7/11/03


NASCAR leads weekend overnight TV ratings   2nd UPDATE The final ratings are in for CART and the IRL.  CART had a 1.1 (tape delayed) with a 3 share and the IRL had a 1.2 (Live) with the same 3 share.  7/9/03 - We hear that the Pepsi 400 got a big boost in TV ratings via the small markets and the final was a 6.0 rating/13 share, up from a 5.2 last year.  A 15% increase in one year is phenomenal as the NASCAR steamroller keeps chugging along.  It was the 10th highest rated TV show of any type for the week.  7/7/03 -

NASCAR Preview Show NBC 1.5/4 share Live
"NBC NASCAR": Pepsi 400 NBC 5.1/10 share Live
"NBC NASCAR": Post-race NBC 3.8/7 share Live
IRL: Kansas Indy 300 ABC 1.4/4 share Live
CART: Grand Prix of Cleveland CBS 1.2/3 share Tape Delayed

7/11/03

Junior leads popular driver balloting   Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues to lead the Grands! Biscuits National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award balloting as total votes hit more than 1.3 million. To thank fans for their enthusiasm, Grands! Biscuits will award one fan $1,000 and a trip to see the coveted award presented during NASCAR’s annual awards banquet weekend in New York City. NASCAR fans nationwide are casting ballots for the award through www.mostpopulardriver.com. Fans can vote once each day. Now through September 1, 2003, at 11:59 a.m. CST, people also can enter the Winner’s Circle Sweepstakes for a chance at the grand prize trip to New York City. Official sweepstakes rules are available on the Web site. "The response from the fans has been tremendous, and that’s great. The fans are what this award is all about," said Kenny Bruce, president of the National Motorsports Press Association, which administers the award. "Outside of the NASCAR Winston Cup championship itself, drivers have always wanted to win this award. Because of the fans’ input, especially in numbers like these, it makes the Grands! Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award an even greater honor for these drivers," Bruce added.

7/11/03

Allmendinger takes provisional in Toronto   A.J. Allmendinger beat his teammate Aaron Justus by 1/2 second to take the provisional pole for this weekend's Toyota Atlantic race in Toronto.  Allmendinger turned a lap of 1:05.447 to a 1:05.943 for Justus.  No one else broke into the 1:05 bracket.  Canadian Michael Valiante was third, Ryan Dalziel 4th and Jonathan Macri 5th. Full Story

7/11/03

Heavy rain hits Toronto  UPDATE The cars are on the track now with rain tires and the sun is out.  7/11/03 - The second practice for Champ cars never got started because heavy rains are passing through and there is standing water on the track.  There are clear skies off in the horizon, and it's hoped that the qualifying session this afternoon will be dry..  Mark C.

7/11/03

Jeff Gordon - no unnecessary moves   Four-time champion Jeff Gordon sits third in the point standings, 203 behind leader Matt Kenseth. But don't expect him to make a risky move just to add Chicagoland to his resume. "When you're racing for a championship, you have to pick and choose when you're going to be risky and when you're not.  At Sears Point, I could've taken some risks to make a move on Robby Gordon and possibly win. I tried to weigh the risk versus gain and I didn't think it was worth it because I could have lost second place. We're not in a position where we can conserve, so we have to push and try to get top fives and wins. Since we've won at Kansas and it's so similar to Chicago, I know we can win here.  I'd like to get that notch on our belt."

7/11/03

Heavy rain hits Toronto  UPDATE The cars are on the track now with rain tires and the sun is out.  7/11/03 - The second practice for Champ cars never got started because heavy rains are passing through and there is standing water on the track.  There are clear skies off in the horizon, and it's hoped that the qualifying session this afternoon will be dry..  Mark C.

7/11/03

Allmendinger leads early practice in Toronto   A.J. Allmendinger topped the speed charts yet again with a fast lap of 1:12.008,  87.740 MPH around the temporary street circuit in Toronto. Canadian driver Michael Valiante was 2nd fast just 0.008 seconds back.  Valiante was followed by Hand, Dalziel, Justus, Macri and Sellers. Figge, Diaz and Krisiloff rounded out the top-10 for most of the session, while Patrick moved up into 9th fastest time as the clock ran out.  The session had two brief red flags, both caused by Garcia.  Mark C.

7/11/03

Early report from Toronto   The track is damp from overnight showers, but the Champ Cars are on the track and it is dry now for the majority of the lap.  Skies are overcast but brightening and the temperature is a comfortable 70 degrees.  Mark C.

7/11/03

Can CART be bought and killed?   A reader writes, Dear AR1, You published an article recently that said if someone such as Tony George wanted to buy CART and then kill it off in an "unfriendly" takeover bid, it could happen unless the shareholders voted to accept a "friendly" bid, perhaps at a lower price.  I am worried.  Could this really happen?  Tina Lopez, Houston, TX  Dear Tina, Anyone, even Tony George, can come in at the last minute and make a bid to buy CART for say, $5 per share, instead of, say, $3 per share.  The CART board would pretty much be forced to recommend the higher bid to the CART shareholders.  However, as we understand it now, there are at least 51% of the shareholder votes that will be cast to take the bid that is best suited to ensure CART's long-term success.  So yes, someone can try an unfriendly bid, but they risk losing and walking away with a tarnished reputation.  If the rumors can be believed that Bernie Ecclestone is indeed going to be an owner of CART, we expect many teams, drivers, sponsors, race promoters and manufacturers are going to be falling over each other trying to get involved in the "new" CART.  It will be the most exciting thing that will have happened to open wheel racing in North America in the past decade, and will, hopefully, get it back on the right track after years of getting beat up by NASCAR.  NASCAR will continue to be the premier form of oval track racing in the USA, and the new CART series will solidify its position as the premier form of road racing in North America.  The IRL will lead the charge as the best oval track open wheel racing in the USA.  Each will have a clear niche and hopefully everyone can stay in the niche and grow with it as best they can. One would hope we can get past all the politics that have hurt open wheel racing in the USA for so many years, and focus on the drivers, the teams and the racing.  Mark C.

7/11/03

CART safety team to be highlighted on NASCAR broadcast   According to the Indy Star, NBC has received permission from CART to send broadcaster Wally Dallenbach Jr. and a camera crew to Toronto this weekend for a report on CART's medical and safety teams. NBC plans to air the report before its coverage of the July 27 NASCAR race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, site of two fiery crashes in the June 8 race there. Dallenbach's father is the former CART chief steward.  CART is recognized to have the best emergency medical staff in the world of motorsports.

7/11/03

Future of Player's team in question   According to a story on TSN.ca, "Now without Player's being there and pretty much without a company that is able to support Canadian drivers, I don't see motorsports being very green in the future," said Tagliani, who now races for Rocketsports. "I think it's going to be tough and I'm quite sad to see a company that did so much in Canada going away like this."  Forsythe says no other company has stepped forward to buy Imperial's share of the racing team, leaving its future in some doubt. It's possible that both Tracy and Carpentier could be driving a blank, white livery for the final three races of the 2003 season.  "We'll race, that's for sure," said Bexon. "If we have to race white, we'll race white. Maybe we'll do some nostalgic stuff on our cars, a little retrospective."  "I don't know what the future holds for Gerry Forsythe's team," said Tracy. "I know I have a contract with him. What our sponsorship is going to be in the future I have no idea. More than likely it will lose its Canadian content."  "I don't feel good about it because I've driven my whole career for tobacco companies. It's going to hurt motorsports in the short term for probably the next five to 10 years."  [Editor's Note, our conversations with Forsythe lead us to believe he is very confident another sponsor will be found.  One rumor is that Labatts Beer will step up.  Labatts has a long history in motorsports with both Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve.]

7/11/03

Beginning to warm up to Grand Prix   A reader writes, Dear AR1, I'm beginning to buy into the American Grand Prix Series name. 
"What kind of cars are they?"
"They are Grand Prix cars, of course."
"Grand Prix cars? What are they like again?"
"Like Formula 1"
"Aren't Grand Prix cars like Indycars?"
"No, they are like Formula 1 cars, the pinnacle of motorsports. You know, like Ferrari and Michael Schumacher. Indycars only run on the ovals at Indianapolis and are much slower and heavier." (you know, like crapwagons)  I can see identity all over that. But even more importantly and a constant irritation for myself, all the races that have the "Indy" name in their title, a la this week's Molson INDY Toronto, will be able to easily replace "Indy" with "Grand Prix" with a minimal amount of confusion with the public that these are the same cars..........The Molson Grand Prix Toronto.  My only dilemma with the American Grand Prix Series is the part "American." If this series is going to run in Europe, Australia, and the Far East, I can foresee this as becoming a problem. In Europe, many sports over there (i.e....Soccer) and fans hold or establish strong nationalistic views towards their teams. Coming in and advertising this as "American" racing may turn people off. If I was German, or French for that matter, and I was talking to my French buddy, I would feel some uneasiness if I told him "American" Grand Prix racing was my favorite type of racing. F 1 or ChampCar doesn't identify with any type of nation. Thus, if it is going to just be "American" Grand Prix racing, then it should probably just stay in the Americas, a la the Western Hemisphere.   Yet, what would be the ultimate would be along the lines of something I read on this site a long time ago. Let's just say the American Grand Prix Series is strictly a Western Hemisphere series, and F1 is solely an Eastern Hemisphere series. Each series is only 15 races or so. They take the top 9 drivers from each series and have a 4 race playoff (at yearly alternating tracks) to determine the true world champion, a la the NFL. You could go even further and have them qualify for the first race to determine a starting grid. Then the starting grid is inverted for each following race based on the finishing order of the previous race. Since it is only a 4 race "race-off," this would allow anyone who has a mechanical failure the opportunity to stay in the running for all 4 races by starting at the top of the grid for the following race. Imagine Montoya or Schumacher winning the first race while Tracy blew up trying to catch them. In the following race, Montoya or Schumacher would start at the back and would have to try to run down Tracy who is starting on the pole! Think of the marketing implications of that, especially for the TV rights and the tracks that get to host those final 4 races!  NASCAR?? What is that again? Never mind the Injured Retirement League, who will go out of existence the moment they are dropped from the NASCAR ticket package. Hummmmm, if Bernie rumors are to be believed, this could actually happen!!! Food for thought.  Derek Hughes, Florida

7/11/03

Latest F1 news items 

Bridgestone Reject Quit Rumor
Ferrari On Top At Hot Catalunya
Bernie Urges DC To Quit McLaren
'No Guarantee' On Villeneuve Future
Dennis: Let's Put On A Better Show
Bernie Slams Big-Budget Teams
Paul Looks To Bernie For Sponsors
Bernie Questions Schumacher
Stoddart Bats For Ailing Silverstone
Button Blames Bridgestone Boots
Wilson's Height Still An Issue
DC Admits Qualifying Slump
Bernie Wants F1 Dictatorship Back
Davidson Hopes For Jaguar Seat
Alonso Voted Number 1 & Brief News
Coulthard Defends Driving Talent
Sources Say Jacques For Axe

7/10/03

Bridgestone to use softest tire in Toronto   Quote from Al Speyer, Executive Director, Bridgestone Motorsport: "With this the first street-course event for the Champ Cars in three months, it's reassuring for the drivers to know they'll have a familiar, reliable tire carrying them this weekend. This particular tire spec has shown itself to be extremely competitive while at the same time not creating an overabundance of tire debris - better known as 'marbles' - that can hinder street racing. It's a fine tightrope Bridgestone walks as official supplier, to develop tires that possess the grip Champ Car drivers crave to generate top speeds and negotiate the twisting turns on a street circuit, while at the same time not depositing too many marbles off the racing line. This weekend we'll use the 'softest' tire of any in the current Potenza Champ Car line. We think it strikes a solid balance that meets both objectives."

7/10/03
USAC

Walt Johnson dies  Walt Johnson, former AAA and USAC midget owner and long time USAC official took the final checkered this morning at 5:45. He evidently fell and hit his head, went into a coma and died from injuries sustained. He fielded cars for some of the greats including Bullet Joe Garson who won a AAA race at the Fresno Airport Speedway in April of 1955. Walt had so many friends in racing and was friends with some of the greatest names in our sport. As an official he was known by the competitors as a helpful friend who was always in the pits rounding up drivers and cars for "The next race". He will be missed greatly by USAC; the races will not be the same without him. Walt and his wife , Pat, were a fixture at the Western States races for as long as one can remember and our thoughts and prayers are with her and her son Walt Jr. Dennis Johansen

7/10/03

Barrichello fast in Barcelona Wednesday 

Driver Team T Laps Time Gap
1. Barrichello Ferrari B 102  1:17.830 135.942 mph
2. Gene WilliamsF1 M 125 1:18.022 0.192
3. R Schumacher WilliamsF1 M 95 1:18.414 0.584
4. Firman Jordan B 61 1:18.426 0.596
5. Panis Toyota M 83 1:18.672 0.842
6. Raikkonen McLaren M 110 1:18.726 0.896
7. Webber Jaguar M 105 1:18.788 0.958
8. Sato BAR B 47 1:19.340 1.510
9. Heidfeld Sauber B 102 1:19.489 1.659
10. Button BAR B 92 1:19.528 1.698
11. McNish Renault M 98 1:19.867 2.037
12. Villeneuve BAR B 100 1:20.028 2.198
13. Coulthard McLaren M 45 1:20.078 2.248
14. Wurz McLaren M 7 1:28.486 10.656

7/10/03

The dark side and bright side of NASCAR's popularity    Chad Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson, hits the nail on the head when it comes to explaining NASCAR's popularity. In this Chicago Tribune article, he was asked, "How do you account for racing's increased interest and attendance throughout the country?" Chad said, "One reason is because fans can relate to this sport and its personalities. You have roughly 43 drivers in this sport who appeal to a wide range of people. When fans relate, they tune in to the races or come to the races to pull for these guys. Drivers are around for a long time and with the same teams and sponsors for a long time, so you keep your current fan base. My second thought is that racing is a family sport." The dark side to NASCAR's popularity (more and more TV commercials) is explained in this other Chicago Tribune article by Ed Hinton.

7/10/03

Jordan lands Piaggio  Jordan has concluded an agreement with Piaggio which makes the UK’s scooter market leader the Official Scooter Supplier to the Jordan Ford team for the 2003 season. As part of the agreement, secured by Jordan’s licensing agency Copyright Promotions Licensing Group, Piaggio will produce a special edition Piaggio NRG MC3 sport scooter for Jordan and 400 special edition Jordan NRG scooters will be made available in July from Piaggio dealerships across the UK. The power and performance of the NRG, not to mention the racing elements featured in its design, make it a perfect match for the high profile and colorful Jordan team, and their drivers, the Italian superstar Giancarlo Fisichella and British newcomer Ralph Firman. Commenting on the agreement, Mike Hall-Taylor, Head of Jordan Brand Ltd., said, “The racing heritage of the Piaggio owned Gilera brand and unrivalled performance of Piaggio scooters creates an ideal platform for both Jordan and Piaggio to complement our respective business activities. We look forward to developing the relationship and a successful launch of the limited edition Jordan/Piaggio NRG scooter.”

7/10/03

CART management change   UPDATE It was announced that CART Marketing Vice President Steve Fusek has resigned from the company, effective on Monday, CART Vice President of Communications Adam Saal confirmed to AR1 yesterday. David Clare, Chief Operating Officer of the sanction and promotion organization, would be heading marketing for the company on an interim basis. Fusek, 41, was hired by CART on January 7, 2002, as Vice President of Marketing. The Marketing Department in CART now includes three directors and a total Marketing staff of 13.  7/8/03 - You will hear of some CART management changes that took place this week, but out of respect for the individuals involved, we await a CART press release.

7/10/03

Pollock calls for standing starts  This Toronto Sun article says, Given the chance to design a new CART, Craig Pollock said the first thing he would do is change the name. "Maybe the American Grand Prix Series or the Formula America Series," he said. Pollock would incorporate some of the more successful F-1 formats, such as a standing start and one-lap qualifying. "Racing is emotion and nothing says emotion like the standing start in F-1," he said.  [Editor's Note, Amen!].  He has more to say in this National Post article.

7/10/03

Imrie to make CART Barber Dodge Pro debut  Race driver Ward Imrie of Winnipeg, Manitoba, will make his professional racing debut this weekend at the Molson Indy Toronto. He will compete in the Barber Dodge Pro race on Sunday. This weekend’s race will mark a new peak for the highly touted twenty-year-old. A kart racer from age eight, Imrie has been making his mark in cars the past few seasons and has his sights set on a professional career. With funding won last year in the Barber Formula Dodge National Championship and some sponsorship from Jan Kelly Marketing and Russ Bond Agency, Imrie is set for the biggest race of his career. “This is a huge event and I’m very excited to be part of it,” said Imrie who is in Toronto preparing for the weekend. “This city is race-crazy right now and you can feel everything building up for the weekend. To say I’m looking forward to this race is an understatement. I’ve dreamed of something like this and I’m not really sure how it will feel when I go out on that circuit with grandstands full of people watching. It will be amazing.” Although Imrie will face a talented crop of drivers who have already raced six times this year, he expects to hold his own come race day. He performed very well at a series test session a few weeks ago and has targeted a top-five finish this weekend. Russ Bond is working hard for Imrie behind the scenes. His company, the newly-formed Russ Bond Agency is seeking sponsorship for Imrie with the intent of taking the talented racer to a top-level professional series. “We are very proud to have Ward as our first driver to compete in a professional series race,” said Bond. “We expect big things from him in the coming years and, hopefully, we will be able to announce a full 2004 program for him soon.”

7/10/03

Kanaan leads Nashville testing  IRL IndyCar Series points leader Tony Kanaan recorded the fastest lap July 9 during the Open Test at Nashville Superspeedway, leading a pack of four drivers faster than 205 mph. Kanaan’s top lap was 22.7789 seconds, 205.452 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Drivers tested under the lights on the 1.33-mile concrete oval in preparation for the Firestone Indy 200 on July 19 at Nashville. Fifteen drivers turned a total of 2,000 laps during the incident-free test. The event was interrupted for nearly 90 minutes due to rain. “We had a pretty good car right out of the box,” Kanaan said. “We’re pleased with what we have. The track is fun. Concrete is different to drive than asphalt, but I’m pretty pleased.” Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was second fastest at 22.8042, 205.225 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. “We started with a qualifying setup”, Castroneves said. “We were working very hard to find a setup for a concrete surface, which is always very difficult. It seems to be good, obviously.” Bryan Herta, winner of the Kansas Indy 300 on July 6, was third at 22.8146, 205.132 in the No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone. “We made good progress,” Herta said. “I would say that we’re not 100 percent happy yet, but we’ve got a lot better idea what we need for the race car when we come back. It gives us a little bit of a head start for next weekend.” Scott Dixon was the fourth driver past the 205-mph mark, turning a top lap of 22.8605, 205.010 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Rookie Dan Wheldon rounded out the top five at 22.8564, 204.757 in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, as Andretti Green Racing put its three drivers in the top five on the speed chart.

7/10/03
Industry News

Too funny - Man shoots his truck  A Florida man shot his truck Wednesday morning while trying to fend off a tow truck driver that had come to repossess the vehicle, police said. The incident began shortly before 9 a.m. when the tow truck pulled up outside a home on the 7300 block of Branch Street in Hollywood, Florida to repossess a late model silver Toyota truck, police said. The owner of the vehicle exited his house with a pistol in hand and fired several shots at the tow truck. One hit the right side of his own truck, Lt. Tony Rode, police spokesman, said. The tow truck driver sped off. No one was injured. The gunman fled in a car after the shooting. Later in the afternoon, Rode said Brian Wagner, 39, turned himself into police shortly before 2 p.m. in the case. Police were interviewing him. Charges are pending in the case, Rode said.

7/10/03
Industry News

Bridgestone/Firestone trucks to carry new look  Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT) unveiled its newest marketing initiative – a clean, crisp montage of images representative of the Bridgestone and Firestone brands emblazoned on the trailers of more than 200 of the company’s 18-wheel commercial trucks that travel the United States. The Bridgestone brand is represented on one side of the trailer montage and the Firestone brand on the other. Each side of the truck’s cab also bears a representative image of a tire tread imprint specific to either the Bridgestone or Firestone brand. The “traveling billboards” feature a cross section of tires from the Bridgestone- and Firestone-branded family of products. Represented on the Bridgestone-branded side of the trailer are pictures of the brand’s ultra-high performance passenger, motorcycle, commercial truck and racing tires representing the brand’s fitments on an Enzo Ferrari motorcycle, 18-wheeler and a stylized Grand Prix racecar, respectively.

7/10/03

More on what Pollock thinks about CART  This Toronto Star article says, Craig Pollock doesn't necessarily want to see a country run by a dictator. But the former principal of Formula One's British American Racing and current co-owner of CART's PK Racing feels a dictatorship works in professional sports. And a dictator, he thinks, is the one person who might be able to salvage the decaying CART series and make it work [Editor's note, the new CART will be run like NASCAR, the IRL and F1 - like a dictatorship]. "If everything has to be run through a board of directors, the team beside you has passed you," said the school teacher turned racing magnate, who is in Toronto to oversee his team in Sunday's Molson Indy. "You're fighting for the same sponsor as any of the other open-wheeled or NASCAR series and sometimes even in other sports. By the time you go to a board (for approval) the other guy's gotten him." The one person who is synonymous with sports and dictatorship is Bernie Ecclestone, who runs Formula One with an iron fist. Ecclestone's name has been linked to a possible purchase of CART, even before the series put itself up for sale last month. But Pollock said Ecclestone denied to him that he was interested in buying the series, at least not by himself [Editor's note, that is correct, Bernie will not buy CART by himself]. Pollock said that while Ecclestone is "definitely the right dictator for F1," at almost 73 years of age, his energy level might be too tapped to run two series [Editor's note, Bernie has gone on record that he has no plans on retiring and loves racing too much to ever walk away]. Gerald Forsythe, who is co-owner of CART's Player's/Forsythe team; Kevin Kalkhoven, Pollock's partner in CART's PK Racing; Ecclestone and a combination of all three parties have been reported to be interested in acquiring the series [Editor's Note, yes CART will be bought by more than one party]. CART began this season with a "war chest" of $120 million (U.S.) but will be left with less than half that amount after the season because it is running six races and supporting a number of teams that have been unable to find full sponsorship funding. Pollock said his personal opinion is that CART should be privatized and needs re-capitalization in the "hundred of millions of dollars" to remain viable. "You've got to get enough money in there to keep the series going at a professional level," he said, adding he does not agree with CART's current strategy on using a single engine manufacturer, a single tire maker and two chassis builders. He feels the series should be open to competing manufacturers to bring in sponsorship dollars [Editor's note, that is exactly what will happen for 2005, and in fact, we may see some movement in that area for 2004].

7/10/03

Manning impressing peers on and off the track  This AP article talks about CART rookie Darren Manning and the impression he is making in the CART paddock with his aggressive driving and charming personality.   Darren Manning had just finished the final forkful of dinner when a group of young fans nervously approached the British driver inside his team's hospitality tent. "Can we take our picture with you?" asked a giggling teenage girl. "Of course," said Manning, who sprang from his chair, wrapped his arm around her shoulder and flashed one of his podium-finish smiles. "Go on, take as many as you'd like." If CART handed out a Mr. Congeniality Award, the rookie with Walker Racing would be this season's runaway winner. The 28-year-old Manning isn't your typical first-year driver, though. His poise and charisma have won over open-wheel racing fans and his fine-tuned driving skills have earned him the respect of competitors. "I like him," said series points leader Paul Tracy. "He's very fast and has already had some really good results. And, he's got, what? Personality?" Yeah, by the truckload. Watching Manning interact with fans last weekend at the Cleveland Grand Prix, it's easy to see why he's so likable. During an autograph session for fans, Manning had time for everyone. One minute, he was sharing a laugh. The next, he was giving one. "He's just a great guy," said Melissa Kliethermes, Walker's public relations director, who sometimes has to pry Manning away from his fans. "I call him Chatty Cathy." Manning's easygoing nature and boyish charm have served him well during a 15-year career that began on go-cart tracks in England, swerved through Formula One test tracks across Europe, briefly pit stopped in Japan and has parked -- for now -- in CART.

7/10/03

Bridgestone denies rumors it will quit F1  Bridgestone have angrily denied suggestions they plan to pull out of F1 at the end of 2004.  There has been some speculation that Bridgestone might be tempted to quit the sport in 18 months’ time but they have moved quickly to deny this. A company spokesperson said: "It is unfortunate to see some members of the media speculating, without grounds, that Bridgestone will withdraw from the FIA Formula 1 World Championship at the end of 2004. "Bridgestone Motorsport would like to clarify that contrary to such media reports, it has no intention of withdrawing from the FIA Formula 1 World Championship." Motorsport director Hiroshi Yasukawa added: "There has never been a moment that Bridgestone has thought of withdrawing from Formula 1 since our entry back in 1997. "Formula 1 has played a vital tool in our worldwide brand and marketing strategies and since entering Formula 1 in 1997, our brand awareness has increased dramatically. "With six races remaining, this year is undoubtedly a highly competitive season. We relish this top level competition and remain as committed and as passionate about our involvement in Formula 1 as ever. "We are looking forward to a battle royal with our rivals in the second half of the season!"

7/10/03

Pollock thinks CART should be in North America only  According to this Canadian Press article, if CART team owner and Jacques Villeneuve manager Craig Pollock were to be one of the buyers of CART, that would likely be the end of CART's attempt to become a worldwide series with races in Europe and Asia as well as it's North American base. "I'd prefer to see it as mainly a North American series, with Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the race in Australia," said Pollock. "That's where the market is. "I don't see Europe as a market."  With that said, AR1 can tell you that Pollock will not be one of the buyers, and the series will remain a worldwide series, but the focus will remain North America, at least for the immediate future.

7/10/03

Latest F1 news items 

Stoddart On Ron Dennis: He's Ok

Mansell Hits Back At BRDC
On-Form Ralf Returns To The Top
Rubens: We're Not In Crisis
Williams Praise Teenage Tester
BMW Expect Three-Way Battle
Ralf Sick Of Sibling Rivalry
Nick Heidfeld Eyes Jaguar
Williams Wary Of Rival Fight-Back
Pendulum Could Swing Again: RB
Head Rejects Team-Order Jibe
Bernie Proposes Sunday Qualifying
Dennis Marvels At No-Brakes Kimi
Stoddart Back-Flips On F1 Threat
Minister Gets F1 Ride Of Life
Rubens On Duty In Barcelona
BMW Look To The Future

7/10/03
Industry News

ISC lowers earnings estimate  ISC on Wednesday said its quarterly earnings fell as rainy weather kept fans away from races.  The Daytona Beach, Florida-based company also cut its earnings outlook for its fiscal third quarter and 2003.  International Speedway said its earnings for its second quarter ended May 31 were $12.5 million, or 24 cents a share, including a noncash charge of 3 cents a diluted share for net book value of assets removed due to racetrack configuration. International Speedway earned $14.4 million, or 27 cents a share, a year ago.  A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. analyst Timothy Conder said the company had ``a decent quarter overall'' despite having some weather issues. Conder said the stock was down on Wednesday as investors had not expected the lowered earnings outlook. Conder has a long-term price target of $48 and a ``buy'' investment rating on the company.  The company in the conference call said advanced ticket sales for the remainder of 2003 are slightly below prior-year levels but ticket sales for several major events have increased. The auto sports promoter said the economy continues to put pressure on event attendance and revenue.  The company said it cut its current-quarter outlook mainly due to less-than-expected attendance at its Pepsi 400 event over the past weekend. It also has not signed a title sponsor for its upcoming August Cup race in Michigan.

7/10/03

CART draws big in Canada  The Molson Indy Toronto is the first of three CART Champ Car races to take place in Canada this year, and all continue to be extremely popular. The Toronto race has drawn three-day crowds in excess of 160,000 people in each of the last nine years that the Champ Cars have raced on the streets of the Ontario capital. In 2002, the Molson Indy Toronto at Exhibition Place drew a weekend total of 168,421 fans, the Molson Indy Vancouver at Concord Pacific Place drew 161,728 and the inaugural Molson Indy Montreal at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve drew 172,000. In total, the wildly popular Molson Indy Champ Car races north of the border accounted for 502,149 spectators, or 19 percent of CART Champ Car's all-time record attendance total of 2,686,640 last season. Much of the focus this weekend will fall on Canadians Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani but the fans enjoy all things CART.

7/10/03

ChampCar Aussie race is hot property  Prime grandstand seating and corporate packages are proving to be hot property for this year's Lexmark Indy 300 to be held on the Gold Coast from October 23 to 26. With more than three months to go to this year's 13th anniversary Event, seats in the 30 grandstands around the track are selling fast and 85 percent of corporate hospitality packages have been sold out. The two most popular grandstands on current sales are Brabham Grandstand Six located on the first chicane - the Lexmark Chicane, and Andretti Grandstand 12 located in the V8 Supercar Paddock overlooking ANA Corner. Enthusiasts are encouraged to get in quickly before the grandstand seating sells out. Lexmark Indy 300 General Manager James Ashworth said he expected the two most popular grandstands to be sold out by the end of the month. "There has been a trend in recent years for grandstand seating to sell out well in advance of the Event," said Ashworth. "Spectators realize that all of the grandstands offer prime viewing positions with a variety of creature comforts. "The demand for grandstand seating last year and early this year has prompted us to increase the size of some grandstands. This year we will have over 400 more grandstand seats." Spectators have a choice of 30 grandstands in 2003 including the three new grandstands built for the Event last year. The aim is to reach a four-day attendance record of more than 300,000. While grandstand seating is early 'hot property' so is the demand for corporate hospitality packages. "Many corporations have made this Event a 'must' on their calendar and we are delighted that 85 percent of the packages have already been sold," said Ashworth. "There is a corporate hospitality package to suit every need, with the variety of options available making the Lexmark Indy 300 one of the most popular sporting events for corporate types in Australia.  Once again we encourage people interested in a corporate package to book very soon to avoid disappointment." More than 7000 corporate employees are expected to attend the 2003 Lexmark Indy 300 each day over the four days of the Event. Corporate memberships range from Icebreak Business Club memberships for individuals to hospitality for more than 100 people. Tickets for the Lexmark Indy 300 are now available through Ticketek on phone 1300 303 103 or via the website www.ticketek.com. Corporate hospitality packages can be purchased from the Lexmark Indy 300 Sales Team on phone +61 7 5588 6800.

7/9/03

Williams tops time sheets in Barcelona  

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 R Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m17.908s 98
2 M Gene Williams-BMW M 1m18.383s 92
3 K Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1m18.836s 83
4 R Barrichello Ferrari B 1m118.838s 81 79
5 N Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas B 1m18.861s 26
6 J Button BAR-Honda B 1m18.993s 91
7 T Sato BAR-Honda B 1m19.201s 75
8 C da Matta Toyota B 1m19.476s 80
9 A McNish Renault M 1m19.546s 146
10 M Webber Jaguar-Cosworth M 1m19.736s 86
11 R Firman Jordan-Ford B 1m1m19.740s 63
12 P de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1m19.954s 38*
13 A Wurz McLaren-Mercedes 1m20.217s 32*
15 A Davidson BAR-Honda 1n20.568s 115

7/9/03

Three Cup teams caught cheating   Three NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams – Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Morgan-McClure Motorsports and Petty Enterprises – received monetary fines and forfeited championship driver and owner points for rules infractions that occurred during last week’s Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR officials announced today. The No. 15 DEI Chevrolet was found to have an unapproved carburetor modification during opening-day inspection. The result was a $25,000 fine for crew chief Richard Labbe, the loss of 25 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship driver points for Michael Waltrip and the loss of 25 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship owner points for Teresa Earnhardt. Labbe also received an additional $500 fine for an unapproved roof strip, which was found during the opening-day inspection period as well. The No. 4 Morgan-McClure Motorsports Pontiac was penalized for having an unapproved fuel cell container modification that was found by NASCAR officials during pre-race inspection. Crew chief Chris Carrier was fined $25,000, Stacy Compton forfeited 25 championship driver points and Larry McClure forfeited 25 championship owner points for the infraction. The No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge was found to have unapproved rear jacking bolts during opening-day inspection. Crew chief Steven Lane was issued a $25,000 fine while Kyle Petty forfeited 25 championship driver points and Pattie Petty forfeited 25 championship owner points. All parties were in violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12-4-Q (Any determination by NASCAR Officials that parts and/or equipment in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules) of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rule Book.

7/9/03

CART Ministries website  The newly updated site for Champ Car Ministries is now accessible on the web. Information on the Ministry, its history, mission and chaplains is available at www.cartministries.org as well as www.champcarministries.org . Catholic Mass and non-denominational chapel schedules will be available prior to each event weekend. All are invited to stop by and check out the site.

7/9/03

Did you know?  Did you know that since its inception, the IRL has run 79 races and in those 79 races drivers suffered 115 injuries?  That equates to 1.456 injuries per race weekend, the majority of them broken bones or head injuries.  One has to think that statistic must make more than a few drivers lose sleep worrying if they might be next.  The IRL is going to have to improve the safety for its drivers or risk an eventual boycott.  By contrast, during that same period CART drivers suffered just 48 injuries in 141 races, or 0.34 injuries per race weekend.  Since CART has dropped the majority of its oval races, their injury rate is dropping rather quickly.  The IRL is trying to be the leader, but we don't think this is the category they wanted to lead.  It's time for the drivers to stand up and be heard, the call for better safety must be loud and clear.  They can start by demanding every oval track install the SAFER Barrier system. It's the humane thing to do. Source

7/9/03

Statement from Felipe Giaffone  “I’m glad to say I’m feeling fine right now. It was a hard crash, and the bad thing is that I kept awake the whole time. I saw the wall getting close. I felt every bit of the pain the whole time. I still feel some pain, but the doctors say it’s normal, as it’s been only a couple of days since the surgery. I can already bend my right leg, and sit down to eat, for example. My other leg, the left one, is still swollen, and I ordered some more exams on Tuesday to see if it’s really okay. It has to be good soon, so I can start rehabilitation quickly and use it to support my body. Doctors said I’ll be ready to start physiotherapy next Thursday (July 17). Since the accident, I’ve received an incredible amount of support from the entire Indy Racing community. Brian Barnhart came here on Tuesday. Morris (Nunn, team owner) comes every day. Other drivers and friends have sent nice messages, and these things help me to keep on going. It’s just amazing how the rescue team, the doctors and all of the IRL staff have given all the best for me so far, in a very professional and lovely way. It’s in these hard times that we feel how important the love is that we get from people we work with and compete against.”

7/9/03

Nashville on ESPN2   The Firestone Indy 200 IndyCar Series race at Nashville Superspeedway will be televised live at 8 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, July 19 on ESPN2.

7/9/03

Fisher to conduct Girl Scout workshop   IndyCar Series standout Sarah Fisher will conduct a special Car Care Badge workshop for Junior, Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts from the Girl Scouts – Irish Hills (Michigan) Council on July 25.   The event is in conjunction with the annual Jackson RaceWeek Festival – a series of community events that leads into the Firestone Indy 400 weekend July 25-27 at MIS. The workshop will take place from 4:30-5:30 p.m. (EDT)
July 25th as a part of Jackson’s Pit Row in downtown that evening. The events include an autograph session with all of the IRL IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series drivers and many of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers. The evening will also feature a classic car show and go-kart challenge race that will feature several drivers who will be competing at MIS throughout the weekend. This May, Fisher announced that she’s supporting the Girl Scouts’ new “Girls Go Tech” campaign throughout the remainder of the Indy Racing League season. The “Girls Go Tech” campaign encourages girls to explore and excel in science, math, engineering and technology. Fisher’s car wing and driver suit will sport the Girl Scout servicemark throughout the remainder of the IndyCar Series season, including the Firestone Indy 400 on Sunday, July 27 at MIS.

7/9/03
IROC

Sharp to replace Giaffone  Scott Sharp is replacing the severely injured IRL driver Felipe Giaffone for the final two rounds, including the IROC at Indy on Aug. 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Giaffone suffered a fractured right femur and fractured pelvis in an accident during the Kansas Indy 300 on July 6 at Kansas Speedway. Sharp previously competed in IROC in 1994 and 2002. “Felipe is a great guy, and I have a lot of respect for him,” Sharp said. “It’s a shame to see what happened to him last weekend, and I hope with the little bit of experience I gained last year in the IROC series, I might be able to help him out and will try hard to finish as far up in the standings as possible for him. I’m really glad to do it.” The 100-mile race at Chicagoland will be televised at 9 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN on July 12.

7/9/03

Town Hall meeting returns to Columbus  The successful CART Champ Car Town Meeting series will return to its unofficial home site on July 15th as the fan forum comes back to Columbus, Ohio - site of the inaugural meeting a year ago. The Town Meeting series brings some of the stars of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford to public venues where fans participate in a question-and-answer session with drivers and officials from CART Champ Car and its partners. The Columbus Town Meeting will feature another stellar lineup that will include team owner Bobby Rahal and Toyota Atlantic driver Danica Patrick from Hilliard, Ohio-based Team Rahal. CART Vice-President of Racing Operations John Lopes and CART Champ Car rookie points leader Sebastien Bourdais of Newman/Haas Racing will also join fans with SPEED Channel's Calvin Fish serving as the host for the evening. The meeting will take place at the Scarlet Ballroom of the Buckeye Hall of Fame Café, located near the Ohio State University campus at 1421 Olentangy River Rd. The doors will open at 6 p.m. with the 90-minute forum to begin at 7 p.m. The meeting comes in advance of the CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, which runs August 8-10 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Admission to the free event requires an on-line registration, which can be done at www.midohio.com.

7/9/03

F1 considers race-day changes to woo back fans   This Bloomberg article says, The managers of the 10 teams plan to meet to discuss how to stop attendances falling. They haven't set a date. Proposals include holding a qualifying session on the morning of each Grand Prix, instead of the day before, and staging a race involving celebrities. The biggest attendance decline after 10 races this season was at the San Marino Grand Prix in April in Imola, Italy. About 82,000 fans turned up, a decline of 23,000 on last year and almost 100,000 down on the 2000 race. Not Worried Formula One Management, the commercial rights-holder headed by Bernie Ecclestone, said there has been a ``slight'' decline in ticket sales this year. It didn't have figures available for all of the races. ``The decline is in line with other sports,'' said FOM spokesman Norman Howell. ``We're not overly concerned.'' Organizers defended ticket prices, saying fans get value for their money. A soccer match rarely lasts more than two hours, while Roger Federer took about the same time to defeat Mark Philippoussis to win the Wimbledon tennis championships last weekend. ``We've having one of the best championships for years,'' Ron Dennis said. ``We've had six different race winners. Three or four drivers could win the title.'' TV ratings rose from last year in some parts of Europe for some races, according to TV Sports Markets magazine. No overall figures were available. About 3.4 million more viewers, a 28 percent rise, saw the Austrian Grand Prix on Germany's RTL when Michael Schumacher overcame a pit-lane fire and passed Raikkonen on a bend. A million more saw the Brazilian race on the U.K.'s ITV as 11 drivers, including Schumacher, crashed on a rain-soaked track. As yet, fans aren't flocking to the circuits. ``We need to do something extra,'' said Paul Stoddart, the Minardi team manager, who suggested a 10-lap race in which celebrities drive or ride in two-seater cars. ``My idea's not bad. It would create huge interest.''

7/9/03

Firestone to also sponsor Nashville race   Firestone will sponsor the IRL IndyCar Series event on Saturday, July 19 at Nashville Superspeedway, the start of a three-year sponsorship agreement between Bridgestone/Firestone and the track, Bridgestone/Firestone and track officials announced July 9. The Firestone Indy 200 starts at 8 p.m. (EDT) and will be broadcast live by ESPN2 and the IMS Radio Network. Bridgestone/Firestone, based in Nashville, Tenn., is the Official Tire of the Indy Racing League. Firestone is the only tire to compete in all 79 IRL IndyCar Series races since the series’ debut in 1996. The company has recorded 698 victories in various open-wheel series. “It’s a great honor for us to serve as title sponsor for Indy Racing League events in our corporate front yard,” said Al Speyer, executive director of the Firestone Racing program. “Nashville is home to Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc. and Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC. We have opened a new a distribution center just a few miles from Nashville Superspeedway, and we have several other facilities in this area, including tire manufacturing plants in La Vergne and Warren County. “Many of our associates will be at the July 19 race this year and other IRL races in the future, taking great pride in our company’s involvement with the fastest automobile racing in Tennessee.” The sponsorship of the Nashville event further increases the company’s involvement with the Indy Racing League. Firestone and Michigan International Speedway officials announced July 8 that Firestone will sponsor the IndyCar Series event on July 27 at MIS, the Firestone Indy 400. Firestone also sponsors the IndyCar Series race Aug. 24 at Nazareth Speedway, the Firestone Indy 225. This is the third consecutive year that the IndyCar Series has visited the unique, 1.33-mile concrete oval. “Our long-term relationship with Firestone is important to the future success of the IRL IndyCar Series in Nashville,” said Cliff Hawks, executive vice president and general manager of Nashville Superspeedway. “This long-term partnership with Firestone provides us with a strong community tie-in and gives us the opportunity to promote the event on a national level.”

7/9/03

Miami race increases community involvement  When CART’s turbocharged Champ Cars come screaming through Miami’s downtown streets again September 28th for the second annual Grand Prix Americas, the effects of the race will be felt far into the community surrounding the 1.314-mile circuit in Bayfront Park. The South Florida region that hosts Round 16 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford and beyond will benefit from initiatives introduced by the recently formed Grand Prix Americas Foundation. Miami Mayor Manny Diaz launched the Grand Prix Americas Foundation, which hopes to raise more than $250,000 to benefit charitable organizations, including Cody Unser’s First Step, the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the Camillus House, the Miami-Dade College Foundation and the Children’s Home Society of Florida. The major fundraiser for the Grand Prix Americas Foundation will be the Magic in Miami Charity Gala taking place Thursday night of race week, September 25, 2003 at the InterContinental Miami Hotel. In addition, the Grand Prix Americas will donate one dollar for every ticket sold on Saturday, September 27, 2003, and during a specific time frame will offer a five percent donation on all tickets sold. “It’s great to see the Grand Prix Americas contributing to our community,” said Mayor Diaz. “Building on the success of last year’s race, the Charity Ball promises to raise much needed funds for these great organizations.” Diaz was joined in Miami by Ambassador for the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Marc Buoniconti, President and General Manager of Grand Prix Americas, Chuck Martinez, and Cody Unser, who leads her charity First Step, in announcing the foundation’s goal at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. “The establishment of this foundation is another example of our focused commitment to Miami,” said Martinez. “These charities represent vital issues facing our communities.” The Grand Prix Americas Foundation will be headed by a Board of Directors comprised of local community leaders. Also serving as honorary co-chairs of the Grand Prix Americas Foundation are Mayor Diaz and current Champ Car team owner Emerson Fittipaldi of Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing. The Grand Prix Americas is Round 16 of 19 in the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, hosted in Miami’s Bayfront Park on a 1.314-mile temporary downtown street circuit. Call (888) 248-RACE for ticket information or catch all the action live on SPEED Channel September 28th at 12:30 p.m. ET.

7/9/03

CARA Charities Shop Tour planned   Getting a “close-up” view of two of auto racing’s top racing headquarters and meeting a former Indy 500 winner in one night is a racing fan’s dream. Open-wheel racing fans will have that unique opportunity on Friday, Sept. 26, during Indianapolis’ U.S. Grand Prix Week. The U.S. Grand Prix is set for Sept. 26-28 in Indy. Two of the IndyCar racing’s top teams --Panther Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing – will open their racing shops to a selected group of racing enthusiasts with special tour and presentations, cocktails and dinner as part of the CARA Charities’ “Indy Car Shop Tour.” The popular event, hosted by ABC-TV and ESPN-TV’s Bob Jenkins, will begin at 4:00 p.m. (EST) at the famed Columbia Club on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. Private buses will transport the guests to the racing shops with special tours and question and answer periods. The guests will return to the Columbia Club for a cocktail party, buffet dinner and presentations by 1998 Indy 500 champion Eddie Cheever, owner of Red Bull Cheever Racing. Tickets for the special “Open Wheel Shop Tour” are now on sale at $150 per ticket and include the custom coach transportation, the shop tours, the cocktail party and dinner and the special racing presentation. Call CARA Charities at (317) 299-2277 or e-mail at Carachar@aol.com for reservations. “The only similarity between Formula One and the Indy Car Series is the basic open-wheel formula,” said Cheever, the 1998 Indy 500 winner and veteran Formula One driver. “Formula One has taken the extreme approach to be successful in road racing. Over the past nine decades, with the Indianapolis 500, Indy car-style racing has taken the extreme approach in oval racing and pure speed. To be able to view the race shops of Ganassi and Panther and attend the Unites States Grand Prix will give fans an insider view of these two cultures.” Cheever has a great perceptive on racing cars, having driven in Formula One, GTP sports cars, Champ Cars and IRL Indy Cars throughout his 20-year career. “Last year was the initial Shop Tour and it was exciting for the racing fans to experience the inside look of the racing shops and the behind-the-scenes insight of a racing champion,” said Jenkins, the host for ABC-TV television broadcasts. “The idea that a fan can receive this kind of access to top racing teams as well as a great party and dinner is a fan’s delight. It is a great evening.” The “Open Wheel Shop Tour” is one of several major fund-raising events held annually by CARA Charities. CARA Charities was founded in 1981 and has distributed over $3.25 million dollars to numerous racing and community organizations. CARA serves the community through charitable work and promotes the friendship of all those involved in the motor sports family.

7/9/03

Unfriendly takeover bid for Dana Corp.   This AP article says, Auto parts maker ArvinMeritor Inc. said Tuesday it will make an unsolicited, $2.2 billion takeover bid for Dana Corp. (which is big in NASCAR) after failing to get its larger rival to discuss a possible buyout. Troy-based ArvinMeritor said it will offer $15 in cash for each outstanding Dana share, a 25 percent premium over Dana's closing price Monday. But stock market investors were betting the price could go higher. In trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange, Dana shares rose 35 percent, or $4.18, to close at $16.20. ArvinMeritor shares fell 67 cents to $20.33. Because Dana shares are now trading above ArvinMeritor's offer price, Merrill Lynch analyst John Casesa said it's likely either that ArvinMeritor will boost its offer or another bidder will step in. "There exists the very real possibility of new bids from financial buyers seeking to create value by breaking Dana into different operating entities," Casesa said in a research note. Dana, based in Toledo, Ohio, said it would review the proposal and make a recommendation to its shareholders within 10 days after the tender offer begins.

7/9/03


NASCAR leads weekend overnight TV ratings   UPDATE We hear that the Pepsi 400 got a big boost in TV ratings via the small markets and the final was a 6.0 rating/13 share, up from a 5.2 last year.  A 15% increase in one year is phenomenal as the NASCAR steamroller keeps chugging along.  It was the 10th highest rated TV show of any type for the week.  7/7/03 -

NASCAR Preview Show NBC 1.5/4 share Live
"NBC NASCAR": Pepsi 400 NBC 5.1/10 share Live
"NBC NASCAR": Post-race NBC 3.8/7 share Live
IRL: Kansas Indy 300 ABC 1.4/4 share Live
CART: Grand Prix of Cleveland CBS 1.2/3 share Tape Delayed

7/9/03

Busy testing schedule for da Matta  Having to retire in Canada and at the European Grand Prix, Cristiano da Matta really wanted to finish the race in France. He succeeded, even if he missed the points by a few positions. But for Toyota and da Matta, the most important was to have a reliable car. "I retired from the Canadian and European Grands Prix shortly before the end of the race, so more than anything we wanted a two-car finish in France. And we got it," mentioned Cristiano. "But in terms of performance, we weren't quite as good as expected at Magny-Cours, said the Brazilian. On paper we expected the track to suit our TF103 because it has lots of medium and high-speed corners, and in the end it wasn't too bad because Olivier managed to finish eighth, which was particularly nice in front of the French fans. However, from my own point of view we were not as strong as I had initially hoped. I think we never recovered from the lack of dry running on Friday, when the hour of free practice in the morning was hit by rain. I opted for intermediate tires and, while I think that was the correct tire choice at the time, I was surprised at how dry the track was.  We had just a few laps on Saturday morning in which to do a proper evaluation of the two Michelin options available to us and I think we made the wrong decision by opting for the harder compound and a two- stop strategy in the race," added the Toyota driver. "It meant that we had to qualify with a lot more fuel than the guys on a three-stop strategy, and my whole race was compromised by the abrasive track surface, which meant I had a lot of tire graining. To finish 11th was about as much as I could have hoped for. Many drivers were on three-stop strategies, so I struggled a bit for pace because I always had more fuel on board than them. My pitstops were also longer than the others because I had to take on more fuel and I eventually lost track position to Antonio Pizzonia, which was a bit frustrating." The next meeting is at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix in about ten days. Cristiano is hoping to finish that race in the points. "We now look forward to Silverstone in two weeks time, where I am pretty confident we can get a good result. The car was very competitive when we tested there a month ago and we have some new parts coming for the race weekend, which should make it handle even better. But, before then, I have a very busy schedule." said Cristiano. "I flew straight from Magny-Cours to Barcelona for testing and I then go to England on Friday, where I am attending the Goodwood Festival of Speed. I have no idea what to expect, but I am told that I have to drive the TF103 up the Goodwood hill, which sounds interesting! I enjoy the history of motorsport, so I am looking forward to seeing all the old cars. I hope to see lots of you at Goodwood too. If you are coming, pay me a visit at the Toyota stand," concluded Cristiano da Matta.  Toyota

7/9/03

Slowly, teams are gaining sponsorship  The exposure gained by racing in the Champ Car World Series is starting to help the newer teams in the paddock earn sponsorship for their race cars. Sebastien Bourdais carried fast-food giant McDonald’s to Victory Lane last weekend in Cleveland in the first of a three-race deal between them and Newman/Haas Racing. The #7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing machine driven by Tiago Monteiro signed a deal with Carrera sunglasses as an associate sponsor while the #27 PK Racing entry with Max Papis behind the wheel inked a deal with Japhiro Swiss Watches. Walker Racing signed an associate deal with Air China for the #15 car of Darren Manning while Geoff Boss in the #11 Dale Coyne entry has sponsorship from Lacoste and Cross Pens. Gevril watches has also done a deal with the #34 Mi-Jack/Conquest machine driven by Mario Haberfeld.

7/9/03

Dude, where's my kart?   For most Southern California teenage boys, the summer means sun, sand, ocean and girls in bikinis.  But for Alan Sciuto and Billy Johnson, the summer means pavement, tire rubber and driving hard.  While most guys in So-Cal are yelling "Dude, where's my (surf) board?" -- it's "Dude, where's my kart?" for Sciuto and Johnson as they prepare for this weekend's Snap-on Champ Car "Stars of Tomorrow" presented by RACER national karting series event at Infineon Raceway in Northern California. Story

7/9/03

Latest F1 news items 

Pressure Tactics Won't Work: Todt
Bernie To BRDC: Get A Loan!
Ferrari Quicker Than Williams
Ecclestone 'Ashamed' Of British GP
The Next Frentzen Eyes F1
Weber Wants Long-Term Contract
'03 Going Down To The Wire
Schu Works Hard To Curb Track Gap
Ross Brawn Puts Thinking Cap On
Rossi's F1 Dream Still Alive
Williams Supports Silverstone
Ralf's Always Been A Champion
Schu Happy For Little Brother

7/9/03

Sponsor David Rutledge   Prospective CART Champ Car racer, David Rutledge, a first place winner in Long Beach, Toronto, Montreal and runner up in the Toyota Atlantic Series has opened up sponsorship of his Champ Car World Series pursuits to his broad base of fans. The new program, www.sponsordavid.com," gives racing fans the opportunity to live a dream and get directly involved in the sport they love," says David. When the Canadian Federal Government announced legislation to put an end to sponsorship of sporting events by tobacco companies, David, currently ranked among the top racers in the world, went to work to develop other sources of support. Together with Dori O’Neill, Executive Vice President of Essentially Yours Industries (EYI), a nutritional supplement company based in Surrey, BC, 25 year-old David created a unique online sponsorship program, www.sponsordavid.com. The growing sponsorship package to be valued at more than $1,000 is offered on the website at $119 (US), and includes a discount shopping card, monthly newsletter, coupons, giveaways and merchandise supplied by David’s corporate sponsors. Other perks include a VIP invitation to special events and the chance to win a Fantasy Race Weekend at an upcoming CART race. "Our goal is to make our sponsors feel like they are right there with David as he races. They, in fact, will be part of the Team," comments co-creator, Dori O’Neill. Now online, www.sponsordavid.com will be updated regularly as more news, products and services become available from additional corporate sponsors. Media information regarding the David Rutledge bio, interview questions, downloadable images, and previous press releases are available at: www.sponsordavid.com/mediaroom.html.

7/9/03

What's David Clare's opinion?  2nd UPDATE Concerning the article titled "What's David Clare's opinion?" I don't have a clue what reader Maury Williams is talking about concerning a tennis tournament. What I do know is that last year one of our group was flying down to
St. Petersburg from San Francisco. On the plane she struck up a conversation with some people who asked why she was going there. She mentioned the CART race. They looked at her blankly. She mentioned the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and they said, "Ohhhh, Grand Prix Racing". We've run into that before. In a lot of areas, this particular type of street course racing seems recognizable as Grand Prix racing. Are they thinking of Monaco perhaps? Lynda Polk  Dear Lynda, Bingo!  As we said, Grand Prix is a branded term that everyone recognizes.  The famous movie Grand Prix did a lot to help brand that name for auto racing.  Recall recently on our Rumors page we checked out who owns the domain www.AmericanGrandPrix.com and lo and behold it's been registered by a company called Business Exchange in Chelsea, London.  Why would anyone in the UK care about owning a domain name with "American" in it?  Well it just so happens that Bernie Ecclestone is from Chelsea, London.  Hmm....  Mark C.  7/8/03 - Another reader disagrees, American Grand Prix? Instant recognition? That’s a tennis tournament, right? I hope to catch Anna Kournikova and one of the other new Russian players there. There are also IMSA races called Grand Prix. Grand Prix is going down the wrong road. Too many non-racing references competing with it. You’d have to explain what American Grand Prix is for a long, long time and still have competing events. Now American F1 would be unique. But as a champ car follower since the ‘60s, I don’t understand the preoccupation that CART has to turn into a F1 series. There already is a F1. ChampCar is and has been unique with four types of racing venues. That’s the series Mario Andretti wants to be associated with. That’s the series I as a fan want to attend and watch. You may be “leading” the vocal charge to an American F1 series, but I’m not following. The last thing I’m interested in is racing in Beijing, Paul Ricard or the Andes. Miami and St. Petersburg were two of the smartest decisions made by CART management over the past two years. Maury Williams, Dayton, Ohio  Dear Maury, The dictionaries we checked (four of them) did not refer to Grand Prix as a tennis tournament.  One also referred to it as a horse race.  All four referred to it as some form of automobile road racing, and that is pretty much what CART is - the premier road racing series in North America.  We will just have to see what the new ownership of CART decides, to remain oblivious to 99.9% of the world population (with the ChampCar name), or adopt a name (that includes Grand Prix) 99.9% of the world population and all the dictionaries in the world recognizes. As far as we are concerned, this one is a no-brainer, but who are we to say?  Mark C.  7/7/03 -  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read Mark Cipolloni's interview with David Clare.  Quite interesting.  Did he comment on whether the 2005 cars will be flat bottomed or what the series will be called when it is sold?  Lyle Nanders  Dear Lyle, I did not discuss ether topic with David Clare.  I would think CART would go to flat bottom cars only if they drop all the ovals.  The large sidepods needed for ground-effect tunnels help to protect the driver when they slam the hard concrete oval track walls. As for the name of the series, as I have stated previously, it needs to contain either the words "Grand Prix" or "F1" if it is ever going to catch on with the mainstream public. Both are branded terms that the public recognizes.  ChampCar is not branded.  Never was and never will be.  Walk down the street and ask 100 people what a ChampCar is and you will get 100 blank stares.  CART will spend hundreds of millions of dollars trying to make ChampCar a branded name, when it can simply change the name to the CART American Grand Prix Series and get instant overnight name recognition.  The CART part of the name would represent the sanctioning body, much like the FIA is the sanctioning body for the FIA Formula One World Championship or NASCAR is the sanctioning body for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Grand Prix is a recognized term.  We checked four dictionaries for Grand Prix and found these four definitions 1) Any of several competitive international road races for race cars of specific engine size over an exacting, usually risky road course; 2) one of several international races; 3) a long distance auto race on a road course; 4) one of a series of international formula car races.  The fact that all four dictionaries had it as a definition says a lot about just how widely recognized Grand Prix is. You can check 100 dictionaries and not a single one will have a definition for a ChampCar.  It's simply irrelevant. And the beauty of Grand Prix is that whatever company may sponsor the series, they will always be called American Grand Prix cars. Some people may take exception to the American part of the name.  If so, I suppose the Sponsor Name Grand Prix Series would work, where Sponsor Name is the soon to be announced series sponsor (or so I hear).   Mark C.

7/9/03

Winston Cup leader bonus reaches $180,000   It’s been 48 races since the NASCAR Winston Cup point leader won a race and took home the NASCAR Winston Cup Leader Bonus. If the winner of the Tropicana 400 is also the NASCAR Winston Cup points leader, he’ll add another $180,000 to his winnings. Kenseth leads the series points and has the only realistic shot at claiming the bonus this week. In the very unlikely event that Kenseth fails to start the Tropicana 400, Earnhardt is the only other driver who could win the bonus. Should someone win the bonus this weekend, it would be the second-largest payout in the history of the program. Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet) collected the biggest paycheck, $190,000, with a win at Indianapolis in 2000. The $10,000 bonus is available following every NASCAR Winston Cup Series race. If the point leader does not win the race, the bonus rolls over to the next week.

7/9/03

Biffle proves NASCAR farm system works   Greg Biffle (No. 16 Grainger Ford) has provided the latest example of how well NASCAR’s unofficial “developmental system” works. Biffle, who has won championships in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (2000) and NASCAR Busch Series (2002), got his first career NASCAR Winston Cup win last Saturday night, in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Biffle leads the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings. One of Biffle’s main goals is to become the first driver to win championships in all three of NASCAR’s national series. “I won’t give up this NASCAR Winston Cup program until I win a Winston Cup championship,” Biffle said. “Before I retire I want to win one, maybe a couple of them.”

7/8/03

From the archives   Chicagoland Speedway’s archives are pretty thin, since it has hosted only two previous NASCAR Winston Cup races. But Chicago itself has some intriguing NASCAR history, starting with the years the NASCAR Winston Cup Series raced at Soldier Field – home of the Chicago Bears. Soldier Field was the site of a NASCAR Grand National (now NASCAR Winston Cup Series) race in 1956. A quarter-mile oval race track, added to the stadium in 1935, was expanded to a half-mile in ‘56. Fireball Roberts won the race on July 21, 1956 and collected $850 in prize money. Jim Paschal, Ralph Moody, Speedy Thompson and Frank Mundy rounded out the top-five finishers in NASCAR’s only appearance at the facility. The race track was removed from Soldier Field in 1970, one year before the Bears relocated from Wrigley Field. According to the Stock Car Racing Encyclopedia, the track was removed following protests from “hippies” who objected to the city financing auto racing.

7/8/03

CART management changes   You will hear of some CART management changes that took place this week, but out of respect for the individuals involved, we await a CART press release.

7/8/03

Toronto Track Talk   The 1.755-mile downtown temporary street circuit is structured around Toronto’s Exhibition Place, home to more than 100 special events, trade and consumer shows annually. Eleven turns and the fast Lakeshore Boulevard straightaway as well as a variety of track surfaces make for exciting racing and leave drivers and their engineers chasing the optimum setup. Fernandez Racing Race Engineer David Watson estimates top speeds of over 190 mph with minimum speeds in the 42 mph-range as drivers navigate through a series of slow and medium-speed turns from asphalt to concrete, with Turn One leading onto the fastest straightaway. Throughout the course of the 112-lap race, drivers will make 16 gearshifts per lap, and experience a maximum G-force load of 3.4.

7/8/03

Skinner to drive truck   Mike Skinner was hired Tuesday to drive the next two races in NASCAR's Truck Series. Skinner, the 1995 Truck Series champion, has been out of a job since last month when he was fired from his Winston Cup ride at Morgan-McClure Motorsports. He'll drive for Billy Ballew Motorsports beginning this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. Skinner is filling in for Rich Bickle so the team can assess its program. "Billy has asked me to come in and help evaluate his team for the next two events and I am available to help him do that at this time," Skinner said. "We plan to take a look at all the aspects of his operation and help the organization move forward. We will evaluate everything from the chassis to the engines to the team and even the driver."

7/8/03

Coyne to debut Sperafico   Dale Coyne Racing will welcome the CART Champ Car debut of Alex Sperafico (#19 Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) this weekend at Toronto as the former Barber Dodge Pro Series and FIA International F3000 driver will stand in this weekend for Gualter Salles. Salles, who has been in the #19 car for three of the last four events, will miss the Toronto event due to a previous commitment. Sperafico, who tested the Coyne car last week at Mid-Ohio, is no stranger to those in the CART Ladder System as he competed in parts of three seasons in the BDPS and took a season-opening victory in 2001 at Sebring. He ran nine races in the FIA International F3000 Championship last season with European Minardi and finished seventh in the BDPS season opener this year at St. Petersburg.

7/8/03

Video highlights available online   Video highlights of each Barber Dodge race are available on the CART Champ Car website. They are very easy to get to: Go to www.cart.com, and click on the videocamera icon. Select the race you would like to see highlights of, "Cleveland [or Toronto, etc.) Race Highlights." Click there, and a pop-up appears. You'll then see a scroll menu for Champ Car, then Toyota Atlantic, then Barber Dodge. Select your preferred viewer (e.g., Real Player, Windows Media, QuickTime) and up will come the Barber Dodge video highlights, usually 2 to 4 minutes in length, with sound. The Barber Dodge highlights are posted within hours of each race's conclusion. Within the next 2 weeks, Barber Dodge will have a click-through to the CART video pop-up via the www.barberdodge.com home page.

7/8/03

Firestone to sponsor MIS race   When Al Unser parked in Michigan International Speedway’s victory lane in September of 1974, he had no idea that he would be part of Firestone history. Unser just happened to be the last driver to win an open-wheel race on Firestone tires before their initial exit from racing at the end of the 1974 season. Fast forward 21 years later to the site of Unser’s final victory and a place that has been known for its great open-wheel finishes during its storied 35-year history, Michigan International Speedway. In 1995, Scott Pruett edged out Al Unser Jr. by .056 seconds, which was the second closest race in open-wheel history at the time. Firestone – making its return to open-wheel racing in 1995 – captured its first open-wheel triumph since the company returned to racing at the beginning of the 1995 season with Pruett behind the wheel of the Firestone sponsored car for Jackson, Michigan businessman Pat Patrick. Including that historical July day in 1995, Firestone has gone on to capture 698 documented open-wheel victories and is the only tire to compete in all 79 IRL IndyCar Series races since the series’ inception in 1996. Officials at both companies announced today that Firestone will return to the site of their comeback win, but this time as the title sponsor of the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series race at Michigan International Speedway. The Firestone Indy 400 will be run on Sunday July 27, and will be the exciting climax to an action packed weekend at the two-mile superspeedway in Michigan’s Irish Hills.

7/8/03

Bill Riley to Leave R&S for Robert Yates Racing   Riley & Scott Racing LLC today announced that company technical director and co-owner Bill Riley is leaving to become the chassis engineer for Robert Yates Racing and its two-car Winston Cup program, effective July 21, 2003. Bill will retain his interest in the company, and his day-to-day responsibilities are to be fulfilled by company President Bob Riley and Vice President Ron McMahon. “I’m sorry that Bill is leaving, but an opportunity of this nature is very rare, and we support his decision”, said Bob, “Between the staff and myself, we plan to develop an even stronger company to serve our customers. Bill may be able to help us get the message out to a new market about the capabilities of this company, so we are looking at it as a positive”. In fact, Riley & Scott is not new to NASCAR, or Robert Yates Racing. “We were consultants to RYR from 1992 to 1996”, said Bill, “and my father, Bob, has an even longer history with the Yates group. I’m very excited about the opportunity, and look forward to getting started this month.”

7/8/03

Two-hour special on the life of Dale Earnhardt   NASCAR and music fans will enjoy a night of memories and music Thursday, July 10th, when FOX presents The Dale Earnhardt Tribute Concert from 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM EST. Hosted by Teresa Earnhardt, the two hour special features performances by Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Sheryl Crow, the Goo Goo Dolls, Hootie & the Blowfish, and Delbert McClinton. A montage of video highlights of the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion is also highlighted on the special along with celebrity tributes, videos and memories. Before thousands of fans, The Dale Earnhardt Tribute Concert originates from the hallowed start-finish line at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., a track where Earnhardt was the winningest driver in history as well as the site of his untimely death in 2001.

7/8/03

Good TV coverage in Mexico   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I watched this weekend's races while in Mexico City. The coverage was very good in my opinion. Fox Sports showed the race with more in-car footage and overhead shots, less commercials and a lot of the commercials were with either Michel or Adrian. Also, a lot of commercials with Michel about the race there. Of course because of the translation issue they didn't show any pit reports during the race, however, that made for more actual race coverage. The race showed very well to me even without understanding the commentary. Naturally, a lot of coverage was about the four Mexican drivers, but all in all I thought the coverage was very good. Sam Mancuso Davie, Florida

7/8/03

NASCAR's redneck image still exists   This CNSNews.com article says there is agreement that there is a perception that stock car racing is a good ole' boy's southern redneck cracker sport.

7/8/03
Industry News

Safer Barrier to be installed at three tracks   The impact-absorbing SAFER barrier will be installed at Richmond International Raceway, New Hampshire International Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway this year. The barrier, a short-track version of the wall that has performed well since making its debut last year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will not be ready for the July 20 NASCAR race at New Hampshire.

7/8/03

Kyle Petty rips engine builder   In response to his cars' disappointing qualifying runs, Kyle Petty criticized his team's engine program and engine builder Mike Egge, saying his engines simply didn't have enough power. Although Petty appeared to be competitive Saturday, he wasn't any happier with his engine after the race. "We were a lap short on gas and about 100 horsepower short," said Petty, who finished 23rd. "We still didn't run a lick. We just drafted." Petty's public criticism of Egge led to a confrontation between the two over the weekend, although details were scarce. "I had a discussion," Petty acknowledged. "It was heated on both sides." Attempts to reach Egge at the team's Mooresville, N.C., shop were unsuccessful. Petty said he has given Egge and his staff credit when it's due. "Last year I thought they were the best of all the Dodges," Petty said. "Right now they've fallen to the back of the pack."

7/8/03

Aikman-Staubach team may do Busch first   Bill Saunders, the managing partner of the Hall of Fame Racing team of Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, said Monday the team probably will compete in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2004 instead of Nextel Cup. The former Cowboys quarterbacks announced in January the formation of the team and their plans to race Winston Cup in 2004, which switches naming rights to Nextel Cup. But they have not been able to secure the sponsorship dollars needed to run in the Cup series next season. "Running in Cup next year is unlikely at this point," Saunders said. "It probably will be 2005, but that's not to say we won't be ... racing in 2004. We are still in negotiations on that and probably will finalize things within 30 days." Saunders said they don't know if the team will run one or two Busch cars next year. He said an announcement on a sponsor and a driver, or drivers, probably would be made soon in Dallas. "But we probably would unveil a car at a Busch event later this season," Saunders said. "All this depends on completing an agreement with a sponsor. Nothing is done yet, but things are progressing." The going rate to sponsor a competitive team in the Busch Series is $4 million to $5 million a year. The top-tier teams in Winston Cup receive sponsorships from $12 million to $15 million.  Dallas Morning News

7/8/03

Bid launched to save Rio track.  Will CART ever return?  UPDATE Rio has entered the race to host the 2012 Olympic Games after it beat off the challenge from Sao Paulo to become Brazil's official candidate - and now bids to become the first South American city to host the event. Rio joins a powerful lineup of serious contenders for the event which already includes New York, Moscow, London, Paris, Madrid, Leipzig and Havana. We hear the Olympic bid will include the use of the revitalized race track area that is also planned to be used to host the 2007 Pan-American games.  Chris Pook and David Clare said they want to race in urban areas.  Well here is a track that has both an oval and a road course in an urban area. AR1 is of the opinion that Emerson Fittipaldi and CART should work toward getting the race back at this facility rather than on a street circuit, especially if there are plans to upgrade the surrounding area to host the games. As can be seen in these photos, upper left and right, the race was a sellout the last time CART raced at the track in 2000.  4/29/03 -  According to Autosport, fears that the Rio Jacarepagua circuit will be lost to a housing development have been alleviated following moves by the country's motorsport federation.  The Pan-American Federation Games, which are due to take place in Rio in 2007, will now be held at the track, and the area around the circuit will be developed with new buildings, making it more attractive as a motor racing venue.  CART had a sellout crowd the last time it raced there.  The plan was to race on the road course in 2001 when the race was cancelled.  We believe the road course would attract even more fans because Brazilian fans are road racing fans, first and foremost.

7/8/03
Industry News

Ecclestone to sell home for record amount  Bernie Ecclestone is selling his London home for a world record-breaking $140 million. The 72-year-old billionaire Formula One tycoon has not spent a single night in the property since buying it 18 months ago for $106 million. But now he is set to make a $34 million profit on the home - two former embassy buildings in Kensington put together - which will become the most expensive residence in the world. The previous owner, Nasser David Khalili, bought it for $65 million in 1995 and spent millions refurbishing the place. Marble from the same quarry as the Taj Mahal was used to fit it out with Turkish baths, a 115ft swimming pool, a gym, a hair salon, a ballroom, an oak- panelled picture gallery and parking space for 20 cars. There are also 12 massive bedrooms and a cinema room. Ecclestone - who is worth $3.85 billion and is Britain's fifth richest person - bought the houses in February 2002. A source said: "Bernie hasn't spent one night in the house. He lives in a house in Chelsea with his wife and kids. "It was obviously just an investment to him rather than a home. It's stunning but isn't a cozy family place." The $34 million profit can be used to buy his share of CART should he choose to.

7/8/03

Ticket sales for British GP  70,000 tickets have been sold so far for this year's British GP at Silverstone, up from last year when ticket sales were capped due to inadequate parking facilities, but down from the 90,000 the promoter was hoping for.  At $170 a pop, do you wonder why?

7/8/03

Can Miami be lighted?   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read Mark Cipolloni's interview with David Clare where he asked if the Miami race could be a night race.  He said he had not thought of it.  After sitting in that heat last year and leaving early because I just could not take it anymore, I beg for CART to do that.  Jeff Simmons, Orlando, FL.  Dear Jeff, Lighting a street circuit presents issues with shadows because of the fencing, trees, buildings, etc. in close proximity to the racing surface.  We do agree with you that last year's heat was unbearable and had a very negative impact on attendance.  CART either needs to move this race into a cooler month like November (as the last race of the year) as previously mentioned by Chris Pook, or it needs to be made a night race.  Miami certainly is a "night party" kind of town, so a night race would become an instant success.  The lights could be mounted on trucks, like it was done in Milwaukee and Cleveland, and/or on top of buildings.  Because Miami is run in a very confined area, they won't require as many lighting trucks as Cleveland, but they will require strategic placement of more smaller lights to light the shadow areas.  The Miami track is landlocked right now, so there isn't room for many more grandstands to help pay for the added lighting costs ($350,000 for Cleveland).  However, see our rumors page regarding grandstand seating for Miami.  Mark C.

7/8/03

Latest F1 news items 

No Team Orders At BMW-Williams
Ferrari Not Afraid Of Minardi
Disappointed With Pace: Da Matta
'Schu Versus Schu' Title Showdown
Bernie 'Embarrassed' By Silverstone
Mosley Warns Stoddart's F1 Rivals
Former F1 Stars Slam Nigel, Damon
F1 Heads Back To Argentina?
Test To Determine MP4-18 Debut
Ralf 'Sorts Out' Winning Style
Williams Dismiss Home Hat-Trick
A Sporting Ron Dennis Vows Revenge
Coulthard Backs 'World-Class' Ralf
Rivals Expect Silverstone Struggle
Britain Could Lose Race: Brundle
America Expects F1 Date-Change

7/8/03

Brands Hatch could be plowed under for housing   This Yahoo Sports article says, As had been predicted when the Kent circuit was put up for sale by current owner Octagon Motorsport, Brands Hatch has already become a target for property developers eager to get their hands on a prime piece of southern English real estate. With the clamor for housing in the south-east of the country growing, the news that a piece of the Kent countryside could be up for grabs ignited interest among residential and leisure developers over the weekend, with appointed sales company Jones Lang LaSalle reporting a number of enquiries about the proposed sell-off. Brands Hatch is just one of four Octagon-owned circuits up for sale, along with Snetterton, Cadwell Park and Oulton Park and, although Jones Lang LaSalle hopes that all four can be sold as a going concern to a buyer interested in keeping them active as race venues, it is also resigned to the fact that each will attract individual interest from developers. Brands itself is expected to fetch around  £35million, with a £70million price tag being attached to the four circuits combined. According to Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, the national motorsport body is keen to ensure that each circuit is retained for racing use, but admits that it is powerless to prevent them falling into 'the wrong hands'. "We hope any buyer has the long-term future of British motorsport in mind, but it's very difficult for us to do anything if they do not," the Motorsport Association's Colin Hilton confessed, "The sale of the circuits is a commercial deal and we have no immediate authority to intervene." Hilton revealed that there is at least one ray of hope for British race fans, with bids for Brands Hatch, at least, expected to come from pro-racing parties. "We are supporting a bid from one of the major clubs in Britain - not financially, but vocally - and I hope that would give more credibility to that bid," he told the newspaper.  "We are concerned that the circuit should remain in use for British motorsport and, from what we have been told, that is the aim." Brands Hatch, like Oulton Park and Snetterton, regularly plays host to the premier British Touring Car, Formula Three and GT series, but also hosts international events such as the World Superbike Championship and, as of this year, the CART Champ Car World Series.

7/8/03

2004 USGP date could change  UPDATE This RPM.ESPN.com article says the date would probably be June 20, 2004, though a season finale in October is also possible.  Tony George does not want that late a date because of potentially cold weather in Indy.  7/7/03 -  This IndyStar.com article says that the annual Formula One race date at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway could be changed for 2004, a spokesman for the track confirmed Monday. The fifth U.S. Grand Prix might be held in June or early July, or perhaps even in October, according to Fred Nation, executive vice president of communications. The first four events at the Speedway, including this year’s race on Sept. 28, have been held the last weekend of September. Nation said notification from F-1 will come by the end of the month. It is also possible the Speedway will retain its normal date, he said. “There have been some discussions with Formula One to this point as to what we’re going to do,” Nation said. “Nothing has been decided.” The discussions have been between track president Tony George and F-1 chief Bernie Ecclestone, Nation said. Neither George nor Ecclestone could be reached for comment Monday. There is no questioning the continuation of the event in 2004, Nation said. The two parties have a contract that has not been made public. A separate contract is signed annually with the specifics of each race, including the date. That has not been signed yet, he said. F-1 typically releases the next year’s schedule in tentative form in August. The final schedule is approved by the sport’s governing body in the fall. The Speedway has long preferred the September date to provide spacing between the Indianapolis 500, held in late May, and the Brickyard 400, which has had an early-August slot on NASCAR’s schedule since 1994. “The two issues are proximity to our other races and turnaround time (of facilities),” Nation said. “But there also is merit to having two North American races together on the schedule for the sake of momentum, to having the race during summer vacations and avoiding the football seasons.” F-1 traditionally stages its race in Montreal in mid-June. The Speedway’s race could slot in behind Montreal’s. The uncertainty is likely one of the reasons Indy Racing League officials do not expect to announce their 2004 schedule until August.

7/7/03

Reader questions Kansas attendance figure   Dear AR1, I must question that the 80,000 fan figure posted in the "Were Kansas fans, fans of the IRL?" article is a stretch. I have season tickets around the start finish line and there were quite a few empty seats around me and throughout the track. Maybe they decided to stand in the shade under the stands all day. In my opinion, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race had many more fans than the IRL race. Plus many fans left early including myself. After several cars went behind the wall the race was fairly boring. The cars got stretched out and it became follow the leader. I was impressed with Tomas Scheckter. He was making his way back to the front before he had mechanical problems. I thought he did an excellent job.   In closing, the attendance at the IRL is not a reflection of interest in the IRL. Fans like myself attend the race because we don't want to waste our tickets since we are forced to buy them to get a Winston Cup ticket. I know several of my fellow season ticket holders give their IRL tickets away. Since the Ford F-150 is made in KC there is affection towards the truck race and it is well attended. Stuart Tiller, Omaha, Nebraska  Dear Stuart, The two photos we included do show a fair amount of holes for the IRL race, so yes, you are correct that there were not 80,000 in attendance.  However, it was a healthy crowd and we are sure the IRL was quite pleased with it.  Mark C.  Photo Credit (Top right - IMS/ Ron McQueeney, bottom left - Toyota)

7/7/03

Cleveland feedback   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, All the articles on Cleveland are correct. The crowd was very large. The paddock and the stands were both crowded. At the end of the night when Bourdais, Tracy, and Junqueira were in victory lane they were greeted by many people offering enthusiastic applause. Cleveland is one of the few places where fans can be part of the victory celebration. There were lots of people wearing Champ Car shirts and hats which was great to see. A great night under the lights! Chris Silhavey Stratford, CT  Another reader writes, Dear AR1, Congrats to CART on a great race from Cleveland. Watching from England on British Eurosport, there was a miracle! British Eurosport showed the whole race, at the advertised time, and had Jeremy Edwards and Stephen Cox for commentary, AND the coverage commenced before the start of the race, showed post-race interviews and podium celebrations, and looked forward to Toronto, with drivers commenting on that circuit and the city. If they carry on like this, people might start watching! Alright, it was at 1:30 am Sunday local time, so they could not delay coverage with a live Under-21 Japan vs. Burkina Faso soccer match even if they wanted to, but if they keep this up they might even build an audience. How about Eurosport showing Champ Cars in their monthly preview trailers from now on? Maybe those Eurosport executives at Cleveland have seen the light, even if Musco had to bring 21 towers to ram it home. Ed McFarlane, Goadby, England  Dear Ed, In Cleveland on Saturday Chris Pook had a very good meeting with the folks from Eurosport, or so he said to David Clare and me right after the meeting.  It sounded like there are bigger and better things planned from Eurosport.  Hopefully that means live coverage in England like they provide in the rest of Europe. If the Bernie Ecclestone rumors turn out to be true, one can bet he will help to ensure CART gets proper TV coverage worldwide.  Mark C.

7/7/03

NASCAR junk almost killed spectator   This Orlando Sentinel article talks about the hood that flew into the grandstands at Daytona this past weekend from the car of Robby Gordon, a car that had major damage from a crash, but was allowed back onto the track to drone around and collect points.  This incident may finally put a stop to NASCAR allowing wrecked cars back out on the track when torn up bad.

7/7/03

Silverstone investment wasted says Bernie   Bernie Ecclestone has recently invested $30 million of his own money in improvements to the Silverstone circuit, but he is disappointed with the way in which the money, and the BRDC's own significant funding, has been spent. "I signed up for the vision of a new pit complex at Stowe corner," Ecclestone said, "and instead the money has been spent on a car park for maybe 5,000 cars when one for 20,000 is needed. I understand that BRDC members have somewhere nice to put their cars, though." Baiting Silverstone and the BRDC has become something of a sport in recent years for Ecclestone, who has been highly critical of circuit access and the manner in which the BRDC has run its race. He has often been accused of trying to destabilise the situation in an attempt to gain control himself. It has also been pointed out to him that circuits in other countries, such as Brazil's Interlagos, have lam-entable facilities in comparison with Silverstone, the self-styled home of British motorsport. "That's right," Ecclestone responds. "The facilities in Brazil are terrible. But I want to be able to bring people to Silverstone who want to run their own race in their own country, and say to them: 'This is what you should aspire to.' How can I do that now?"  The Independent

7/7/03

Giaffone injured in IRL crash, surgery successful  2nd UPDATE Giaffone, injured in a crash during Sunday’s Kansas Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway, is in good condition following surgery on his right leg today at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, according to Dr. Henry Bock, director of medical services for the IRL IndyCar Series. Giaffone suffered a fractured right femur and pelvis during the Lap 56 accident that also involved the car of Dan Wheldon. Wheldon was unhurt in the incident. The surgery, performed by Dr. Kevin Scheid, orthopedic surgeon at Orthopedics Indianapolis (and as we understand it, CART's Dr. Terry Trammell, who was not mentioned in this IRL press release), lasted approximately three hours and went exceptionally well, according to Bock. He anticipates Giaffone to remain at Methodist Hospital through the end of the week. “The surgery went extremely well,” Bock said. “Once we see how the rest of the week goes, as well as the ensuing rehabilitation period, then we can make some judgment as to how long until Felipe returns to the race car.” Further updates on Giaffone’s condition will be provided when available. The hospital address where Giaffone is expected to remain through the week:
Methodist Hospital
1701 North Senate Boulevard
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Get-well wishes can also be directed to:
Mo Nunn Racing
2920 Fortune Circle West
Indianapolis, IN 46241
317-487-8450 phone
317-487-8451 fax
info@monunnracing.com

7/7/03 - Felipe Giaffone was to undergo surgery at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis today to address injuries suffered in Sunday's race in Kansas City, Kan. Giaffone was held at KU Medical Center in Kansas City on Sunday night and was transferred to Indianapolis by private aircraft this morning. He was to arrive at Methodist about 10 a.m. for surgery with CART's Dr. Terry Trammell, who specializes in open wheel driver injuries. Laz Denes, a spokesman for Mo Nunn Racing, said Giaffone was "in relatively good spirits" Sunday evening, but he was in a lot of pain. No information on Giaffone's replacement in the final eight IRL races of the season is expected before Tuesday, Denes said. Alex Barron drove a third car for the team in the Indianapolis 500 and finished sixth. Barron also won last year's IRL race in Nashville, the next stop on the IRL's schedule. That race is July 19.  IndyStar.com  7/6/03 -  IRL driver Felipe Giaffone was seriously injured in Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway when he crashed hard into the concrete wall after making contact with Dan Wheldon.  Giaffone broke his pelvis and his right thigh (both extremely painful injuries) and had to be cut from his car after the crash and was airlifted to KU Med Center. He was conscious and alert, according to a statement released by the hospital.  The oval track carnage continues.  We have updated our Indy Car injury stat table which shows an IRL driver is 428% more likely to be injured than a CART driver in any given race.  At this point we are beginning to feel very sorry for the poor IRL drivers.

7/7/03

Bahrain 30% complete and on schedule   Bahrain’s plans to host the first ever Arab Formula One (F1) Grand Prix in April 2004 are on track and running smoothly, according to the head of the organizing committee. “Thirty percent of the construction has been completed, placing the circuit development 3 percent ahead of the planned 485-day construction schedule,” Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed al-Khalifa, president of the General Organization of Youth and Sport of the Kingdom of Bahrain and of the Bahrain Racing Circuit Company, told a news conference Thursday at Beirut’s Phoenicia Inter-Continental Hotel.  The Bahrain racing circuit is expected to become operational by the end of this year, subject to Federation International d’Automobile (FIA) certification.

7/7/03

Were Kansas fans, fans of the IRL?  The day broke hot. Really hot. Hot enough that lines to refill water bottles were consistently longer than lines for beer, and shirts quickly became something you kept on if only absolutely necessary. However, that didn't stop about 80,000 people from pouring through the gates at Kansas Speedway to watch Sunday's IRL Kansas Indy 300. But did they come to hang out -- or to actually watch a race? "I think most people are out here just because they have to if they want NASCAR tickets," said Tony Davidson of Kansas City, Kan., as he refreshed himself by downing a 24-ounce can of beer. "That's why I'm here. Coming out here is like taking your girlfriend to the ballet. You don't want to, but you know you have to, to get what you want." Tickets to Sunday's IRL race are included in a two-weekend, five-race Kansas Speedway RPM package that includes the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks, Indy Racing League and Infiniti Pro Series on July 5-6; and the mother of all Kansas City racing weekends, the NASCAR Busch and Winston Cup races on Oct. 4-5. Of course, even though fans had to buy the package that included the IRL race, no one was really forcing them to show up. It was hardly scientific, but a random sampling of fans in the infield and grandstands gave the impression that the majority of Sunday's crowd either received free tickets from someone else or bought a season-ticket package because they are Winston Cup fans.  Kansas City Star

7/7/03

Clarence Cagle dies  Clarence Cagle, who helped save the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from oblivion after World War II and served as track superintendent for 30 years, died July 5 in Daytona Beach, Fla. He was 88.  A memorial service will take place at 3 p.m. (EDT) Friday in the Ormond Funeral Home, 733 W. Granada Blvd., Ormond Beach, Fla. 32174. A memorial service will take place in Indianapolis later this summer on a date to be announced. Full story

7/7/03

Owners give Tracy green light   The owners of Player's/ Forsythe Racing are not about to muzzle Toronto's Paul Tracy in the wake of a pit lane run-in with CART Champ Car CEO Chris Pook. Bob Bexon, Player's boss, and his partner Gerry Forsythe both said yesterday that they have absolutely no plans to curtail Tracy's colorful character. In an incident reported in The Toronto Sun, Pook confronted Tracy on Thursday just after the Scarborough native had captured the provisional pole for Saturday's Cleveland Grand Prix. Tracy had been involved in an on-track incident with Team Rahal driver Michel Jourdain, with the Mexican driver accusing Tracy of blocking. Tracy, according to witnesses, flipped Jourdain the bird -- an act that was witnessed by Pook. According to sources Pook sought to discuss the incident with Tracy before Player's/ Forsythe team members intervened. Michael Bonelli, an executive with Player's, met with Pook late Friday and said afterward the situation had been resolved satisfactorily. A CART official, contacted by The Sun, said only that the meeting had been previously scheduled and that Pook would have no comment on its content. But it's understood that the CART boss got his knuckles rapped by Player's/Forsythe officials for his serious breach of protocol. "I'm ecstatic with what Paul brings to this team," Forsythe said. "There's no way we would even try to change anything about him." Forsythe said he spent a lot of years trying to entice Tracy to drive for the team and he knew what he was getting when the contract was signed. "He's paid to drive a race car and he does that quite well," Forsythe said. "He may not be the most popular one out here with some of the drivers but that's too bad."   Toronto Sun

7/7/03

Player's to announce future involvement in racing  Bob Bexon, President and CEO of Imperial Tobacco Canada Limited, will hold a press conference on Thursday where an important announcement regarding the future of the company’s sponsorship of auto racing activities will be made. On this occasion, Mr. Bexon will be joined by Team Player’s co-owner, Gerald Forsythe, along with past and present Player’s-sponsored drivers, including Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani, David Empringham, Claude Bourbonnais, Lee Bentham, Andrew Bordin, David Rutledge, Jean-François Dumoulin, Rob MacDonald, Marc-Antoine Camirand and Aaron Povoledo, to celebrate the achievements of the Player’s Racing Program, a tradition of excellence which dates back to 1961.

7/7/03

Yoong welcomes mediation offer   In response to the Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sports' request to all parties in the Minardi-sponsors-Alex Yoong disputes to settle the issues early and his offer to act as the mediator, Yoong said, "It is a very welcomed offer as this can only be good for all parties. I am all for settling the issues early and I hope that the Minister's offer will also be equally well received by all parties involved." Yoong clarified that he had not decided to sue Minardi, "I was under an advisement from my lawyer earlier this year to consider legal action but that was when Minardi was in dire straits. That was before the Canada GP and now it is different. I had not decided to sue Minardi then and now with Minardi saved we should accept the Minister's mediation offer as a settlement will benefit all parties." In the same Malaysian media reports last week, the Minister also cleared the GO-KL consortium and Magnum as definitely not the defaulting Malaysian sponsors referred to by Paul Stoddart. Yoong revealed that Pan Global Insurance is also not a defaulting Malaysian sponsor, saying, "I like to also clarify that my long time personal sponsor since my F3 days and Minardi's 2002 sponsor, Pan Global Insurance, is also not one of the Malaysian companies mentioned by Paul as having defaulted. Pan Global and Magnum had been impeccable Minardi sponsors, in my view, and I'm sure this is also Paul's view."

7/7/03

Nighttime proves the right time  To say CART and race officials were giddy over the first night road race in Cleveland only touches the surface of their excitement. Both a series trying to regain its sea legs and a 22-year event in need of some spice came out the better for it. "We changed the whole face of the event," CART President Chris Pook said. "There was definitely energy around here." The attendance for the race was 58,471. The attendance for the weekend was 112,232. Many were surprised by the announced numbers in that they were a negligible gain over the weekend total of 111,438 announced last year, when attendance and interest was said to be dwindling......"All I know is the lines were long and the place was crowded," Pook said. "We've hit on something that works," said Adam Saal, vice president of communications for Championship Auto Racing Teams following Saturday's U.S. Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix. "We are very encouraged by this. We could have crested at better than 125,000 with great weather." A lot of that feeling of euphoria extends to what is happening with the series behind the scenes. Rumors of a pending sale of CART to Formula One czar Bernie Ecclestone were so strong that there were unfounded reports of sightings of Ecclestone in Cleveland. Pook did say two top executives from Euro-Sport TV were in Cleveland and were quite impressed. Pook said the European equivalent of ESPN televised the race live in Europe, Mexico and Brazil. Night racing, tried earlier this season in Milwaukee on an oval, is considered a success, just as it has been for NASCAR and the Indy Racing League. "At both Milwaukee and Cleveland, we clearly had much bigger crowds," Pook said. "Our sponsors are loving it.".....One area where the Cleveland race continues to be strong, Pook said, is with grassroots race fans. "Race fans seem to have a real passion for this particular race," Pook said. "There are people who come to this race who probably do not go to any other." But the bottom line is Cleveland appears to be a fixture again on the CART schedule. "Cleveland is an important market for us," he said. "This is a big part of our urban market strategy. The Fourth of July works for us. We've just got to figure out the weather around here."   Cleveland Plain Dealer

7/7/03

Latest F1 news items 

Stoddart Reserves Judgment
No Scarlet Crisis, Says Schu
Williams Chiefs Urge Caution
Celebrity Spice For GP Weekends
Schu Welcomes DC's Spa Confession
Dennis Slams Superstar Spaniard
BAR Flee From New Court-Order
Bernie Urges Stoddart To Zip-It
Dixon Plays Down F1 'Talk'
Cheap Engines On The Menu: Dennis

7/6/03

Breaking News from the Magny-Cours paddock - 1 Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has seemingly eased a threat to protest the legality of the entire Formula One field at Silverstone. Threat Eased  All team bosses met in France on Sunday before the race at Magny-Cours and Stoddart later insisted that 'progress has been made.'  He added: 'If we can find an agreement over the next few days we can do the [regulations] amendment and it can be in place by Silverstone.' Sunday Qualifying Further changes to the F1 weekend were also mooted at the meeting; a proposal featuring Sunday qualifying was one, according to pitlane sources. Bridgestone knows it has got to up its game to Michelin - and fast. Learn From Defeat Technical manager Hisao Suganuma says the Japanese marque will learn from dominant defeat in the French Grand Prix. He said: 'I am sure the loss of this race will serve only to inspire us to produce better and faster tires.' All Bridgestone teams will be in action at Barcelona, Mugello and Fiorano this week with a 'number of development specifications.' No Ferrari Crisis BMW-Williams closed a gap in the constructor's world championship to just 3 points to leaders Ferrari on Sunday. But Michael Schumacher insists that his marque are not in another 'crisis. Of course we are aware of the situation,' he said. 'But I've extended my championship lead over Kimi and I am confident we can soon put an end to this current run of poor results.'

7/6/03

Breaking News from the Magny-Cours paddock - 2 Sir Frank Williams praised his driver Ralf Schumacher for a brilliant personal performance at Magny-Cours in the face of recent criticism. Ralf Praised 'I have always had absolute confidence in him,' the team founder said. 'He has become very consistent. Juan was not on his pace today.' Despite back-to-back 1-2 victories, however, Sir Frank worries that his Grove ranks will struggle at their home Silverstone event in two weeks. Silverstone Struggle 'Silverstone will be very difficult. Ferrari had the advantage in testing but that was three weeks ago.' Jordan will unveil a substantial upgrade to their disappointing EJ13 contender at the British Grand Prix. Jordan Upgrade Technical director Gary Anderson admits his drivers are really struggling with grip at present. 'We are all working hard to improve the whole package,' he said. Ralf Schumacher knows that a title challenge came alive as he closed the deficit to just eleven points to his brother in rural France on Sunday. Title Challenge 'I have waited a long time [to be in a position to win the championship] and it might be possible this year,' he said. McLaren chief Ron Dennis slammed errant backmarkers for failing to get out of the way of his cars on Sunday. Blue Flags Kimi Raikkonen, in a crucial title points-chase with Michael Schumacher, reckons he lost a podium position due to marshals who didn't wave the blue flags. 'It's understandable that when the first five cars are strung out,' said Dennis, 'that marshals fail to understand exactly which drivers are in what position. 'Even so it was extremely frustrating for both David and Kimi to lose so much time when overtaking backmarkers.'

7/6/03

Breaking News from the Magny-Cours paddock - 3 Paul Stoddart has floated the idea of staging 'celebrity races' in two-seater Formula One cars to spice up the GP weekend spectacle. The Minardi chief, who owns a fleet of such machines, said his idea was discussed at a team owner's meeting in Magny-Cours. Celebrity Stars 'We are aware that people have not got much to come to on a Sunday,' said Stoddart, dropping names like Ronaldo and Kylie Minogue. 'But look at the Australian Grand Prix - non-stop action for four days. We've got to look after the people who pay our bills.' Michael Schumacher welcomed David Coulthard's admission of fault for a racing incident that dates back to Belgium, 1998. Nice Admission 'I'm glad he finally shares the same opinion as me on this incident,' said the Ferrari star who was enraged by the crash at a sodden Spa circuit. 'But it happened so long ago that there's no more to say. But it's nice, nice to hear him admit it.' Finally, F1 team BAR was made aware of another court action by sponsor broker PPGI as it tried to leave the Magny-Cours circuit this afternoon. BAR Enraged A new statement issued by the UK-based outfit says BAR is 'completely within its rights ... to remove its cars ... from the circuit.' BAR and its partners will meet this week to discuss a counter-suit against PPGI for damage to the team in France plus defamation and unfounded statements.

7/6/03

100% throttle racing   "We were flat out throughout the race,” de Ferran said after today's IRL race in Kansas. “My right foot cramps so much. I was trying to hold the thing (gas) so flat."  Amazing!

7/6/03

Road racer Taylor buries oval short trackers in Kansas   Despite having to start 13th because of a minor infraction of the IRL rule book that was found during post-qualifying inspection, road racer Mark Taylor of England won the Infiniti Pro Series race today over pole sitter Ed Carpenter by 0.1666 sec in another 100% throttle racing side-by-side finish.  Carpenter drivers for AJ Foyt Racing while Mark Taylor drivers for Panther Racing.  Tom Wood tied a career best by finishing 3rd.  Rookie Taylor averaged 151.988 mph for his series leading third win of the season.  It was the longest climb (13th to 1st) to victory in the Infiniti Pro Series history, a one year old series.

7/6/03

Brands Hatch for sale  According to Britain's The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, American advertising giant Interpublic (owner of troubled Octagon Motorsports) has put the Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Oulton Park and Cadwell Park race tracks up for sale.  They will be sold as a block or individually.  What affect, if any, this will have on CART's race at Brands Hatch, remains to be seen, but our guess is that Bernie Ecclestone will buy the track and make the necessary improvements to the garages and to the long circuit so that CART can hold a proper motor race there, rather than a follow-the-leader parade on the Mickey Mouse short track like we saw this year. Many fans left the race early because they were not interested in watching a parade. Mark C.

7/6/03

AT&T can sponsor #49   Car owner Beth Ann Morganthau learned that AT&T will be allowed to sponsor her #49 Dodge next year. The new title sponsorship contract with Nextel prohibits other telecommunications companies from coming into the sport, but NASCAR agreed since AT&T had been a part-time sponsor this year for Morganthau's BAM Racing, it could return. Florida Times Union

7/6/03

More from the Magny-Cours paddock  This morning the main topic of conversation has been a meeting of the team principals, intended to facilitate agreement over the rules that will govern the sport at the British Grand Prix in two week’s time. That was the race at which driver aids such as traction control and launch control were to have become banned. A postponement until 2004 had been agreed, but was recently thrown into doubt when Minardi owner Paul Stoddart withdrew his vote in Canada. It is believed that the meeting went some way towards finding a suitable solution.

7/6/03

Pook says Penske reading old newspapers  With regard to the recent Penske comments about CART dying in NSSN - Penske, who now has his racing team in the Indy Racing League, says CART, the racing series he helped establish, is fading fast. But Chris Pook, current president and CEO for CART yesterday took exception to what the 12-time Indianapolis 500 winning team owner supposedly said. "He's either reading old newspapers or he's out to lunch," Pook said. Pook also said one team formerly in CART now racing in the IRL is looking at a return to this series. While there are at least a half-dozen IRL teams with CART ties, including teams owned by Chip Ganassi, Michael Andretti and Penske, Pook said the only one looking at making a move back "is about the only one we'd want back." We believe Chris was referring to Mo Nunn Racing.

7/6/03

Tony Stewart ready for HANS Device   Tony Stewart is about to start wearing a HANS device while racing. Stewart was the last Winston Cup holdout before NASCAR made it mandatory in October 2001 for drivers to wear head and neck restraints in the aftermath of Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s death from head injuries in 2001. Because he is claustrophobic, Stewart chose to wear the less-constrictive Hutchens Device, which uses belts and straps, rather than the Head And Neck Support, a collar that restricts mobility. But that is about to change. ``We're still wearing the Hutchens,'' Stewart said. ``But we recently have been working with the HANS device at test sessions, trying to get more comfortable with it. Test results that we've seen have shown a pretty big discrepancy as far as HANS vs. Hutchens.'' The biggest problem in the switch remains comfort. ``We're trying to see what we can do to make it comfortable to wear,'' Stewart said. ``Kind of the same things we had to do with the Hutchens. It took time to get comfortable with it. We're taking the opportunity during test sessions to try to fabricate cars with the HANS device and trying to make it more comfortable for me.'' Tampa Tribune

7/6/03

Hood flies into Daytona grandstands   One person was injured when the hood from Robby Gordon's car flew into the Daytona International Speedway grandstands late in the Pepsi 400 on Saturday night. Gordon's car had been damaged in a wreck earlier in the race, but his team was able to make enough repairs to get him back on the track. With four laps left in the race, the hood sailed off the car and hit a woman in the frontstretch grandstands. Although she waved to the crowd to signal she was OK, she was transported to Halifax Medical Center to be treated. Daytona officials had no further information on her condition and her name was not released. Gordon's car sat in the garage area after the race under a car cover and NASCAR officials had started an investigation to determine how the hood came off. AP

7/6/03

Andretti still wants CART/IRL merger   This AP article says, Mario Andretti thinks CART can one day get back up to speed. As usual, the always outspoken Andretti has some pointed views on the troubled racing series, which has lost sponsors, teams and fans in the past few years. Last month, CART, a publicly traded company, hired Wall Street investment firm Bear Stearns to help with its restructuring while exploring the possibility of selling the series. Andretti, one of racing's best ambassadors, is confident CART will survive, and he can foresee a day when it will merge with the IRL. "I feel damn good about it," he said where CART is headed. "There are a lot of things that are happening. I'm hearing good things about the series -- a title sponsor, things like that. "I'm still bullish about it, and I don't think I'm wrong." Andretti, who will step down from CART's board of directors in two weeks to become the series' spokesperson, feels the best way to get open-wheel racing to catch up with NASCAR's popularity is for CART and IRL to work out their differences. "I haven't given up the idea of bringing the two series together," he said. "I might make enough noise that they'll start talking. Both series have assets and we need to bring them together." CART's steady decline and the sagging state of open-wheel racing in the U.S. has Andretti concerned. But he remains convinced better days are ahead. "It's been totally undervalued, and I don't like that," he said. "We need to bring it back to where it used to be." [Editor's note:  From what we have heard is coming down in CART, there won't be a merger, nor will CART need one].

7/6/03

Latest F1 news items 

Schu Not Worried About Clash
Stoddart And Dennis At It Again
Bernie Defends F1 Addiction
DC Admits: I Could Have Killed Schu
Ralf Looking Over His Shoulder
Lauda Barracks For Vienna GP
Head Eases Off On Pole-Sitting Ralf
Schu Won't Break '06 Contract
Bernie 'Shut Up' Paul Stoddart
Schu Takes Blame For Pitlane Crash

7/6/03

Word from the Magny-Cours paddock  Word In The Magny-Cours Paddock: Sunday BMW director MARIO THEISSEN talked up the Williams FW25's vastly improved aerodynamics, so criticized since the start of '03, in France.  Improved Aero  'Here in France, the aerodynamics play an essential role so it's obvious the team has made enormous progress during the last few weeks.'  Ralf Schumacher has pole while team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya is second for today's French Grand Prix.  Tires Blamed  PETER SAUBER blamed poor Bridgestone tires for burying his German racers down in 15th and 16th places for today's 70 lap race.  'We are not happy with these positions, that's for sure,' said the Swiss principal.  'The clear difference to the first half of the table is a matter of tires, rather than the performance of the car itself.'   Different Strategy  Toyota's manager of car design KEIZO TAKAHASHI confirmed speculation that Olivier Panis (10th) and Cristiano Da Matta (13th) are on different strategies.  'Yes,' he said, 'and we hope this will allow us to fight for points.'  Ferrari Behind  Scuderia Ferrari technical director ROSS BRAWN admits that Ferrari have a lot of work to do to curb a now-clear gap to the BMW-Williams-Michelin package.  'We know what we have to do to improve,' he insisted, 'and we will be working flat out, along with our technical partners including Bridgestone.'  Euphoria Ends   PAUL STODDART knew that the euphoria of provisional pole on Friday wouldn't continue into the dry Final Qualifying session at Magny-Cours.  He said of Jos Verstappen's 19th, and Justin Wilson's 20th: 'Whatever happens, no one can take those magic moments away from us when we were P1 and almost P2.  'But rather than being sad,' concluded the Minardi boss, 'we're upbeat that we're only a few tenths off the Jordan on the grid today.'

7/6/03

Taylor fails inspection, Carpenter on pole in Pro race   Ed Carpenter was awarded the pole for the Aventis Racing For Kids 100 after Panther Racing, which fields the car driven by series points leader Mark Taylor, was penalized July 5 after failing a post-qualifying technical inspection. Freedom 100 winner Carpenter will start from the pole after a qualifying lap of 29.9746 seconds, 182.555 mph in the No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. It is his second pole of the season. He won the Freedom 100 from the pole in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carpenter’s lap was a series record for the 1.5-mile oval, as the Infiniti Pro Series marks its first anniversary as the Indy Racing League’s official development series. Rookie Taylor appeared to earn his second pole of the season with a top lap of 29.9444, 182.739 in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Pursuant to Appendix B – Technical Specifications, Rule 100 (B) of the IRL Infiniti Pro Series Rule Book, Taylor’s No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone failed post-qualifying technical inspection and had its time disqualified, moving Taylor to the back of the starting field, said Roger Bailey, Infiniti Pro Series executive director. Taylor may appeal the imposition of the penalty within the time and in the manner prescribed in Section 12.1 of the Rule Book. An appeal may result in an increase, decrease or no change to the penalty.

7/6/03

Class warfare breaks out in the IRL  Looking at the grid in Kansas, it's clear there are three classes in the IRL.  The Toyota class, or upper class, at the top of the grid.  The Honda class, or middle class, in the middle of the grid, and the Chevy class, or lower class, at the back of the grid.  There are a couple of Honda drivers mixed in with the Toyotas but for the most part, that's the way the three classes stack up.  As we have stated on numerous occasions, on 100% throttle race tracks the only thing that matters is horsepower.

7/6/03

Japanese vs. Americans  Qualifying for Sunday's IRL race saw the Chevy teams all at the back of the grid in 17th to 22nd place.  As expected A.J. Foyt IV is the slowest Japanese powered car in 16th place and Sarah Fisher is the slowest of all drivers, starting dead last in 22nd.  Fisher appears to have lost all confidence after starting in the front row last weekend in Richmond and then dropping back rapidly through the field once the green flag dropped as she has done on numerous occasions.

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