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7/18/03

Mexico City tickets sales off to good start  Tickets for The 2003 TELMEX GIGANTE GRAND PRIX presented by Banamex – Visa, scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 10-12, 2003 are now on sale to the public. This event will take place at the magnificent Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. After a very successful pre-sale for the Banamex Credit Card Members only that sold out all the Grandstand Number 7 section, located in the area known as “El Estadio” (the Stadium) and the whole section of the Foro Sol (the large baseball stadium), GRAND, the promoter of the 2003 TELMEX GIGANTE GRAND PRIX presented by Banamex – Visa makes available the tickets to all the racing fans, for the best and the biggest sport and entertainment event that takes place in our country every year. GRAND also informed, that taking in consideration all the enthusiasm of the public, and looking to offer them great options to attend this great event, the tickets will have a special 15% discount for a limited period, starting on July 17th and ending on August 19th, so we suggest the fans to place their ticket orders sooner rather than later. The tickets, that will include the practices on Friday, October 10th, the qualifying and preliminary races on Saturday, October 11th, and the race on Sunday, October 12th, will be available to the general public at the sale centers, the Ticketmaster offices or at their website www.ticketmaster.com.mx, and at the Ticket offices of the Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City. This event will be targeted to the people from different ages, sex, and group of fans, since there will be a variety of family-oriented activities throughout the weekend, seeking the entertainment for everybody. “There will be entertainment for all the family. Our main event are the races, but additionally the people will be able to find in any of the three days, games for the kids, expositions of vintage cars, beauty contests, and even extreme sports for example,” mentioned Joseph Heitzler, CEO of GRAND, the company promoting the event. GRAND would like to thank for all the support from the sponsors of this race: Telmex, Gigante, Banamex, Visa, Tecate, Herdez, Coca- Cola, Blue Shot, Chrysler and SKY among others. Ticket prices range from $200 to $2,400 Mexican Pesos (less a 15% discount until August 19th), according to its location and benefits.  Mexico City GP

7/18/03

Homestead construction update 

One of the steel forms used to shape the concrete wall on Turns 3 and 4 of Homestead-Miami Speedway is relocated further along Turn 4 as the track's new concrete wall continues to be built on Friday, July 18.

Workers operate machinery to remove the old asphalt from the pit row exit at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, July 18. New asphalt will be poured to ensure a smooth transition from pit row into the new 20-degree, variable banking in Turns 1 and 2. The NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway with 20-degree variable banking in all four turns will debut during Ford Championship Weekend, the season finales for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck, Busch, and Winston Cup Series, November 13-16. The variable banking is being installed to create more exciting, side-by-side racing for the fans.
PHOTO CREDIT: Denis Bancroft, Homestead-Miami Speedway Photo

7/18/03

Toronto final ratings up 33%  3rd UPDATE We now have more data on this.  According to Nielsen, the Toronto rating represented a 4 share and equated to 1.614 million people actually watching the CART race in the USA alone.  7/17/03 - The final rating was a 1.2 with 1.236 million households.  That compares to last year's 0.9 final rating and 987,000 households.  So the final rating was up 33% over last year, which proves CART still has some life left in it. The event entertained over 167,000 race fans this past weekend at the Molson Indy Toronto, but the CBS Sports national broadcast of the race entertained more than a million households for the second consecutive weekend. On the weekend that CART Champ Car and CBS Sports announced an expansion of their broadcast schedule to carry as many as 10 races next season, CBS Sports delivered the turbocharged action of the series to more than a million households for the second consecutive weekend. “We are pleased to be making progress in our television ratings and this is one of the reasons that we are expanding our relationship with CBS Sports,” said CART Champ Car President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. “The public is telling us that there is a demand for our racing series and we intend to do everything that we can to bring it to them.” The Toronto race drew rating numbers of over 2.0 in nine of the nation’s largest markets including New Orleans, Las Vegas, Kansas City and Jacksonville. The ratings for the previous week’s U.S. Bank Presents The Cleveland Grand Prix had been highest of the year to date with a 1.1, with Toronto’s broadcast setting a new season benchmark.  7/16/03 - When CART has regularly scheduled races at set intervals and people can see them on network TV its TV ratings are decent i.e. the ratings have gotten stronger and stronger during this run on CBS.  One of NASCAR's secrets to success is the fact it races almost every weekend.  As such, their races have come to be expected and anticipated.  Going forward, ideally CART needs a schedule where they race 18 to 20 races consistently every 2 weeks from the last week in January thru September.  Once they get into autumn, American football pretty much kills all other TV ratings.  7/15/03 - CART's Toronto race this past weekend had a 1.3/3 share overnight rating on CBS.  If this holds, it will be up 44% over last year's 0.9 final rating, also on CBS.  A 1.3 rating equates to 1.5 million households.  That's at least 5 times higher than CART's ratings on SPEED Channel. Double the cost, but 5 times the number of viewers.  In other words, even if some have to be taped delayed, all CART races should be on CBS, not just the 50% that was announced for 2004. Mark C.

7/18/03
F3000

Wirdheim takes pole at Silverstone  American Townsend Bell will start the Silverstone round of the FIA F3000 series from sixth place on the grid, while Arden teammate and championship leader Bjorn Wirdheim will be on pole position, and chasing his second win of the year. The weather created a little confusion, for there was a brief shower between the practice session and qualifying. The track was damp at the start of the session that counted so everyone dashed out on wet tires and tried to get a good time in case it rained again. In fact conditions improved rapidly and within a few minutes drivers were able to switch to slicks. Then it was a question of getting a clear run while the tires were at their best, which Wirdheim reckoned was on their third lap. “I wasn’t completely happy with the balance, but I managed to get the best out of the car when I had to,” said the Swede. Bell was satisfied with his qualifying session: “I went out on wets at the start, but they were destroyed halfway around the laps, and rubber was spitting off. So it wasn’t worth it anyway. I came straight in and put slicks on. The first couple of laps it was damp in a couple of places, and the curbing was pretty slippery. I did a reasonable time, came in, and the balance changed on the second set of tires. Something was different about that second set and I wasn’t happy with it, but we still stuck in a time. Then we ran into problems with the electronics on the car. All of my lap times and segment updates [in the cockpit] failed again, so that’s a bit frustrating, because you really rely on that. I didn’t get the most out of it, but the first time here and we’re on the first three rows.” Bell’s only previous experience of the track was in a racing school Caterham Seven: “It’s kind of like taking the bus tour of Indianapolis!  It shows you the way around. Tomorrow I just want to have a good race, score some points, run all day, and get the experience.” Team boss Christian Horner was happy with Townsend’s performance, bearing in mind his lack of knowledge of the track: “He was a little bit disappointed after being well up on the first run, but it’s a very respectable effort on his first time ever around here. He’s behind guys with two or three year's experience, and it’s only him and Liuzzi who stand out as rookies. A good result will give him the confidence to settle in. Bjorn hooked together a good lap. That’s his eighth front row start in eight races since Monza last year, and his fifth pole. He just needs to convert it into a win. It’s the only way I’ll possibly forgive him for Monaco!” Due to budget problems both Derek Hill and Phil Giebler are missing. Indeed Giebler’s Den Bla Avis team is on the sidelines, so Nick Kiesa has moved across to take Hill’s place in the sister Super Nova outfit. Two new faces in the field are Irishman Michael Keohane at Astromega, and former British F3 champ Marc Hynes at BCN. The latter has not raced for three years since a planned PacWest Indy Lights deal fell through.

1. B Wirdheim…1m36.541s
2. G Pantano…1m36.973s
3. R Sperafico…1m37.071s
4. V Liuzzi…1m37.138s
5. P Friesacher…1m37.148s
6. T Bell…1m37.274s
7. E Toccacelo…1m37.403s
8. J Janis…1m37.403s
9. T Schmidt…1m37.758s
10. Y Schroeder…1m37.786s
11. N Kiesa…1m37.932s
12. Z Baumgartner…1m38.352s
13. M Keohane…1m38.352s
14. R Giammaria…1m38.555s
15. W Langhorne…1m38.857s
16. M Hynes…1m40.491s

7/18/03

Reggie White accuses Jesse Jackson of wasting NASCAR's money  UPDATE Added a photo of Bill Lester.  7/17/03 - Reggie White, one of the National Football League's greatest defensive players of all time, has accused Jesse Jackson of taking "a quarter of million dollars from NASCAR and not doing anything with it. It's really disappointing to me that Jesse and his organization would take a quarter of a million dollars from NASCAR and not do anything with it to try to get black drivers into the sport," White said in an interview on FOX News Channel's Fox & Friends Wednesday morning. NASCAR has reportedly given at least $250,000 to Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition as part of an effort to increase the number of minority racers in the sport.  More at CNSNews.com

7/18/03

Breaking news from the Silverstone Paddock  Locally-based F1 team Jordan announced on Friday that Rick Gorne has joined the company in a consultancy role on new business acquisition.  Gorne For Jordan  Eddie Jordan and Gorne, who'll continue to run his driver management business, resurrect a relationship from the 80's when Jordan won the F3 and F3000 titles.  Gorne was Sales Director at Reynard at the time: 'Rick and I have been friends since we were racing together in Formula Atlantic in the 1970s,' said EJ.  Is F1 Boring? Flavio Briatore reckons the Formula One race weekend is too long, boring and predictable for the trackside spectators.  The Renault boss said: 'It would be better if it was two days, not three,' adding that final qualifying should be held on Sunday.   'The whole format needs thinking about. It is too predictable. People just don't want to pay to watch a boring event. Formula One is too rehearsed.'  McLaren Fail Again  And very briefly, it's understood that McLaren's all-new (but unraced) MP4-18 chassis has failed the side-impact crash test for a second time.  The Woking-based outfit cannot put it in David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen's racing hands until it has passed all the mandatory tests staged by FIA.

7/18/03

Word from the Silverstone Paddock - 1  Renault's technical director lauded a new bodywork package on the R23B and says a little work will charge his racers towards the podium.   'We expected to go well here,' said MIKE GASCOYNE, 'but there's plenty to get out of the car. A good strategy and we should fight for the podium.'   RON DENNIS thinks his McLaren boys will look a little quicker when the Silverstone skies promise to beat down tomorrow.   'We think it'll be hotter on Saturday,' said the team CEO, 'and that'll certainly help us and our [Michelin] tires.'   Bridgestone technical manager HISAO SUGANUMA, on the other hand, warmly welcomed the mid-session drizzle and conditions more suited to Japan's tire supplier.   'Although it's only Friday, I have confidence in the specifications we've brought,' he said. 'I was very encouraged with what I watched today.'   Ferrari's ROSS BRAWN agreed, noting however that Michael Schumacher's pole time was also thanks to improvements on the F2003-GA chassis.   'I think today's qualifying showed those coming through,' he said. 'We'll wait for the weather but I feel much more comfortable this weekend.'   Unfortunately for Minardi, lightening didn't strike twice as first qualifying wound into its final throes at the British Grand Prix on Friday.   'It looked like we might have a repeat of France,' said team chief PAUL STODDART, 'when it started raining. But it stopped - it wasn't to be today.'

7/18/03

Word from the Silverstone Paddock - 2  Toyota designer GUSTAV BRUNNER, while lauding progress with a new aero kit this weekend, also hinted that both current drivers will be retained next year.   'The drivers are performing exceptionally well,' he said of Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta, 'so as a unit we are making big progress.'   Michael Schumacher is favorite to win, but the weather will probably decide the outcome of Sunday's British Grand Prix.   The speaker is BMW's MARIO THEISSEN who hopes it hots up for Williams and Michelin on Saturday: 'Behind Michael both our drivers look well placed.'   DAVID RICHARDS says improvements to the chassis and engine shone through on Friday at Silverstone.   The BAR boss said a new bodywork kit and an uprated Honda specification has 'given us renewed momentum that I hope will give us a competitive race.'   Jaguar boss DAVID PITCHFORTH may just send the engineers home tonight and charge for pole position with just a few cleverly designed livery modifications...  'Mark [Webber] was fastest in T3 today,' he said - 'quite ironic that we're carrying the T3 logo on our engine cover to promote the movie Terminator 3!  He smiled: 'Maybe we should consider putting T1, T2 and T3 on the car for tomorrow...'

7/18/03

HBO special to highlight Zanardi's return to a Champ Car  The inspirational story of Alex Zanardi’s emotional return to the cockpit of a 750hp CART Champ Car thrilled racing fans across the globe when he turned laps around the two-mile EuroSpeedway Lausitz at an average speed of 194 mph. Now for fans that want to relive the moment as well as view much of the behind-the-scenes action of the landmark event, HBO’s sports magazine show, Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel will air a segment on Zanardi and his remarkable story in the next edition of the award-winning show, which debuts on July 22. A two-time former CART Champ Car title winner, Zanardi turned 13 laps in a specially-prepared hand-control race car in his first time in a Champ Car since his horrific 2001 accident that resulted in the traumatic amputation of his lower legs. Television’s most honored sports magazine show visited EuroSpeedway in May to capture the moments leading up the exhibition laps and caught Zanardi in private moments before and after his run. Gumbel spoke not only with Zanardi, but also fellow Champ Car drivers Jimmy Vasser and Alex Tagliani along with CART Champ Car physicians Dr. Terry Trammell and Dr. Steve Olvey, who helped save Zanardi’s life in the moments after the accident. Gumbel and the Real Sports production team also traveled back to Zanardi’s home in Monte Carlo last month to further document the amazing tale of the popular Italian driver. The show will first air Tuesday night July 22 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time on HBO and will re-air nearly 60 times in the next month across all of HBO’s family of cable networks.

7/18/03

Martinsville adds seats  Workmen are putting the finishing touches on the new South Terrace grandstand at Martinsville Speedway, with a completion date set for July 28. The new South Terrace overlooks the first and second turns at Martinsville Speedway, offering a spectacular view of the track from above the suites and press box. "We knew the view from these seats was going to be good, but we had no idea just how good," said Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell. "The view is truly incredible. The seats not only overlook the first and second turn action, but also are directly above the first dozen or so pit stalls, giving fans a bird's-eye view of the front-runners' pit action. "Even though these are high-rise seats, you still remain right on top of the action," said Campbell. "But that's one of the great things about short-track racing. You're always on top of the action." For fans' convenience, restrooms and concession facilities have been added directly under the new stands.

7/18/03

NASCAR penalties  NASCAR officials announced that Todd Berrier, crew chief of the No. 29 NASCAR Winston Cup Series team, has been fined $25,000 due to a rule infraction discovered last week at Chicagoland Speedway following the Tropicana 400. In addition, NASCAR has penalized the team's driver, Kevin Harvick, 25 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship driver points and team owner, Richard Childress, 25 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship owner points. During the event's pre-race inspection process, the rear suspension of the No. 29 Ford was found to have an unapproved travel limiting device, a violation of Section 12-4-Q of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rule Book (parts and/or equipment used that do not conform to NASCAR rules) and Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing).

7/18/03

British GP: Coulthard tops first practice  

Position/Driver Team Fastest Lap
David Coulthard McLaren 1m20.039s

2 Mark Webber Jaguar 1m20.346s
3 Fernando Alonso Renault 1m20.485s
4 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1m20.604s
5 Olivier Panis Toyota 1m20.693s

6 Jarno Trulli Renault 1m20.858s
7 Jenson Button BAR 1m20.933s
8 Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar 1m20.966s
9 Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1m20.992s
10 Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1m21.027s
11 Ralf Schumacher Williams 1m21.029s
12 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams 1m21.182s
13 Jacques Villeneuve BAR 1m21.246s
14 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren 1m21.407s
15 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber 1m21.969s
16 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan 1m22.028s
17 Ralph Firman Jordan 1m22.135s
18 Jos Verstappen Minardi 1m23.176s
19 Nick Heidfeld Sauber 1m23.290s
20 Justin Wilson Minardi 1m24.086s

7/18/03

Will Tracy run with blank sidepods?  There has been a lot of speculation as to what sponsor will be on the Player's cars the last three races of this year when Canadian Tobacco laws kick in preventing "Canadian" tobacco companies from advertising.  While we do not know for certain what the team will do, it's entirely possible Imperial Tobacco, which owns Player's, could simply put one of their other brands on the car, as long as it is not a Canadian brand.  Or they can put a convenience store (like 7-11 in the IRL) that sells Player's in Canada in exchange for prime display locations of the Player's brand at all the convenience store locations.  Many possibilities like this exist.  Player's still owns 50% of he team and the team will continue to be called Player's Forsythe Racing.

7/18/03

Jordan launches Chinese website   In addition to all the new developments this week, Jordan has lead the way in the virtual world with the unveiling of www.f1jordan.cn, the Chinese version of the team website. The production of the online addition was prompted by the fast growing Chinese Formula 1 fan base and is hosted by Shanghai-based Riverstone Internet Technologies. The site was launched on Thursday (17 July) at Silverstone and ties in with the forthcoming 2004 Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit.

7/18/03

Tickets go on sale today for Puerto Rico GP   Tickets will go on sale Friday, July 18 for the Puerto Rico Grand Prix, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 23-26, at San Juan’s Isla Grande Airport. The Puerto Rico Grand Prix is the season finales for both the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup and the SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring Car Series.  Tickets can be purchased by calling TicketPop at 787-294-0001 or by visiting ticketpop.com.  Meanwhile, preparations are underway to construct the 1.6-mile, 10-turn temporary airport circuit. The picturesque circuit, which uses San Juan Harbor as its backdrop, boasts a wide racing surface and complete track visibility for fans. The circuit will have at least 10,000 grandstand seats and 20 custom-made, air-conditioned hospitality suites.  Eagle West Construction, which has built many temporary street courses in North America, including the Molson Indy Toronto and the Molson Indy Vancouver Champ Car World Series tracks, has been hired to build the circuit. According to renowned race track designer Martyn C. Thake, Eagle West is the perfect choice. Thake, whose most recent projects include the Monterrey, Mexico and Mexico City Champ Car World Series circuits, and the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Champ Car and Trans-Am Series street course, is assisting the design and logistics of the race course.   “Eagle West has been building Vancouver for 13 years,” said Thake. “They also did the Houston and the Washington, D.C. race circuits. This year, they’re currently in the process of building Vancouver. They’ll then move on to build Denver, then Miami and finally Puerto Rico.  “Eagle West’s experience makes them uniquely positioned to build the Puerto Rico circuit,” added Thake. “They are certainly the right company for the job.”  The fencing being used for the Puerto Rico Grand Prix comprises a unique modular system that speeds construction time.  “It’s a panel system just like the ones used by Formula One and the Champ Car World Series,” said Thake. “It’s the same system that was used at Monterrey Mexico and Mexico City for the Champ Car events.  “It’s much faster to install and remove,” added Thake. “We’re going to build the entire race track in about two weeks as opposed to the 30 days it normally takes.”  Also in the planning stages is the training of track workers. SCCA Pro Racing will conduct training sessions in the areas of flagging and communication, fire safety and vehicle extraction for event volunteers. These training programs are held in conjunction with the Puerto Rican FIA delegate.  "We will put together a three-day training program in August or September," said Thake. "We will bring in five or six SCCA-approved instructors from the U.S. who will train the local Puerto Rican workers in SCCA procedures. We're putting together a flagging and communication school, a fire school and a wrecker school." SCCA Pro Racing is thrilled to be part of such a world-class event.  "(Promoter) Jorge Diaz has brought together some of the industry's top leaders to pull off a world class event," said Mitch Wright, SCCA Pro Racing Vice President and General Manager. "SCCA is excited to be racing in Puerto Rico and we will do our part to make sure the event is a success."

7/18/03

British GP: Alonso and Trulli lead Friday free practice   Fernando Alonso set the fastest time in the Friday morning test session, ahead of teammate Jarno Trulli.  Alonso completed 44 laps,  his fastest being 1m21.547s beating Trulli by 0.174s. The Italian escaped a massive spin midway through the session, losing control of his Renault heading into Priory.  Mark Webber was third quickest for Jaguar, 0.513s off Alonso's pace, ahead of the third Renault of the team's Friday tester, Allan McNish. Antonio Pizzonia was fifth quickest in the second Jaguar.  Giancarlo Fisichella was sixth fastest ahead of his rookie teammate Ralph Firman. The Briton lost time early on with some mechanical trouble, although he was still able to complete 30 laps during the session.  Jos Verstappen won the battle of the Minardi drivers in eighth, ahead of Justin Wilson.

Position/Driver Team Fastest Lap
1 Fernando Alonso Renault 1m21.547s
2 Jarno Trulli Renault 1m21.721s
3 Mark Webber Jaguar 1m22.060s
4 Allan McNish Renault 1m22.141s
5 Antonio Pizzonia Jaguar 1m22.834s
6 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan 1m22.864s
7 Ralph Firman Jordan 1m24.006s
8 Jos Verstappen Minardi 1m24.013s
9 Justin Wilson Minardi 1m24.605s

7/18/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

JPM Won't Move Over For Ralf
Britain Needs Silverstone Race
Arnie To Star At Silverstone
Teams Unveil Million Dollar Deals
Wilson Talks To Three F1 Teams
Dernie To Help Struggling Montoya
McLaren Poach Ralf's Engineer
DC Questions Silverstone Contempt
Coulthard To Stay At McLaren
Schumacher The 'Marlboro Man'
Button Wants Villeneuve To Stay
Formula One Teaches Army A Lesson
Alonso Rues Lack Of Testing
Ralf's Praise For Struggling Montoya
'Dodgy' Silverstone Must Be Rebuilt
Coulthard Wants New F1 Designer
Big Teams Dislike Testing Ban
Michael Warns Brother: I'll Be Back
Montoya Not Expecting To Win
GPWC Warns: Time Is Running Out
Ralf Would Deny Brother's Sixth
Coulthard Handed Hawthorn Trophy

7/17/03

No big news comes out of CART Shareholders meeting today  UPDATE More from Scott - There were 24 shareholders in attendance plus all the board of directors.  Chris Pook did mention "northern" Asia (again think Beijing or Seoul), he would not say anything specific. He said CART is looking at two places to race. He did talk a lot about the Atlantics. He hinted they may want a different chassis; to cut down on the cost. Mrs. Dorricott was there and addressed the cost. He was real concerned about that. He wants to make sure the drivers go from Atlantics to Champ Cars. He would like to see more American drivers in Atlantics then get to Champ Cars. No one asked any really nasty questions, only one about going private. One other asked about running out of money in a year or so. He skirted the going private questions. He said they are looking for corporate $ to keep the ship running. He said they are on a solid foundation and the future looks very good. He said it may not be as quick as most would like but it may take 2-3 years. He hopes to get shareholder value up in the near future.  7/17/03 - As expected there was no news on CART going private today at their annual shareholders meeting.  That discussion is going on behind closed doors at the executive board meeting that followed.  At the shareholders meeting Chris Pook reiterated what he had stated in the past - they are talking to several engine manufacturers and hope to announce the new engine rules in a month or two, though it now looks like 2006 before CART gets engine manufacturers and that is a VERY bad thing.  He mentioned, for the first time we believe, the possibility of doing up to four races in Europe in 2004 and he reiterated CART's desire to get back into the northern Asia market.  He didn't say where, but he said they are looking at two venues and you can bet it will be either Beijing, China or Seoul, South Korea, but Beijing is further north, so......  He also reiterated that the Toyota Atlantic Series will get a power boost while bringing costs down from where they are today, in the $1/2 million per year range.  Scott P., Indianapolis, In.  [Editor's Note: Our sources tell us that a bid may have been submitted to the board today, if not formally, then informally, so that it could be discussed.  If it was a formal bid, and if the board accepts it, CART will start the formal process of notifying the shareholders and seeking a proxy vote.  We also hear Montreal promoter Normand Legault may be on the Bernie Ecclestone team.  Recall that we "rumored" there were three teams interested in joining together to take CART private, each taking 1/3 of the company - the Ecclestone Team, the Forsythe Team and the Kalkhoven Team.]

7/17/03

GPWC sets end of year deadline  The GPWC, comprised of Formula One auto manufacturers, said on Thursday to the current rights holders of F1 to do a deal within the next five months or risk a rival championship. Ford's Richard Parry-Jones, director of the GPWC Holdings company set up by Formula One's five European carmakers to plan for a new series from 2008, said a limit had to be set on current negotiations. "It is our intention to find a solution that benefits all parties," he said in a statement issued before Sunday's British Grand Prix. "Therefore, GPWC is willing to continue the discussions in 2003. If we do not come to an agreement at the end of this year, we will focus all efforts on setting up the new series. Experience has shown that if an agreement is not reached within a certain time frame, it is better to focus on the alternative."

7/17/03

Stewart wins ESPY award  Reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart was named Driver of the Year during the ESPN ESPY Awards Wednesday night at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. Stewart, who drives the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing, beat out Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher, IRL IndyCar champion Sam Hornish Jr., Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran and NHRA Funny Car champion John Force. "It's an honor to win an ESPY," said Stewart, who was unable to attend the awards ceremony due to a scheduled appearance at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway, where the 32-year-old Indiana native won a 30-lap SK Modified feature as part of the Dodge Weekly Racing Series. "The fact that the ESPYs are voted on by the fans makes this award extra special. I was definitely in some good company with Schumacher, Hornish, de Ferran and Force, and to come out on top is kind of overwhelming. I can't thank the fans enough for voting for me." The Driver of the Year ESPY was Stewart's fourth such award following his 2002 Winston Cup championship, as Stewart was also named Driver of the Year by the National Motorsports Press Association, the Eastern Motorsports Press Association and The Sporting News. En route to his first NASCAR championship, Stewart scored three victories, two poles, 15 top-fives and 21 top-10s, while securing more than $9 million in winnings. The Winston Cup championship was Stewart's ninth career driving title, having won an IRL IndyCar Series championship, four USAC series championships and three karting championships - the first of which came in 1980 at age nine.

7/17/03

Indy remains CART's ratings leader  When the CART Champ Car World Series moved its corporate headquarters to Indianapolis last Spring, the intention was to put the open-wheel sanctioning body in close proximity to many of its teams, suppliers and sponsors. Predictably, the racers have responded positively to the move but perhaps the best response has come from the racing fans of the Indiana capital city. After six network broadcasts of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford on CBS Sports, Indianapolis tops the list of average Nielsen ratings among the nation’s major markets. The city moves to the top spot after placing seventh on last year’s list. Indianapolis racing fans have tuned in for an average rating of 2.4 for the six CBS events where individual market numbers can be computed. Seven markets are averaging ratings of 2.0 or better including Kansas City, St. Louis and Memphis. CART Champ Car race markets Portland, Columbus, Miami and Denver are all in the top 25 in ratings numbers for series events. “We have tried to incorporate ourselves into the City of Indianapolis and strike a chord with the racing fans since our move,” said CART Champ Car President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. “We are very pleased that the people of Indianapolis are leading the way in television ratings, and are equally excited about the rising numbers across the board.” From a standpoint of households tuning in to CART Champ Car World Series programming, the mega-markets of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago lead the way with nearly 160,000 households tuning in to every race just in those three cities alone. New York has made the highest gain from last season in this category with an increase of 25,000 households per race.

7/17/03

BMW to spend $1 billion to beat Ferrari  BMW and WilliamsF1 announced a new deal recently that will see their partnership continue for another five years. According to new reports in the German press, along with this contract extension is also an increase in BMW’s current budget. The Berliner Zeitung is reporting that over the next five years, starting in 2005, the German engine giant’s Formula One budget will increase from 135 million Euros to a whopping 200 million Euros, amassing to a total of one billion Euros over the five-year period! “The earlier we beat Ferrari for the championship, the better,” BMW Motorsport director Gerhard Berger was quoted as saying. “That's what we're investing for. We're hot to win the title.”  Add to that all the sponsors the Williams team has landed and it's easy to see that their budget is well over $300 million per year.  And the CART teams struggle to raise $10 million.

7/17/03

Nadeau to meet with media  United States Army driver Jerry Nadeau will conduct a news conference Friday, July 18, beginning at 10:30 a.m. EDT in the infield media center at New Hampshire International Speedway. Stan Creekmore

7/17/03

Michael warns brother Ralf  Michael Schumacher, speaking to reporters at a rain swept Silverstone, suggested that the weekend could dampen his brother's Ralfs hopes. "I'm pretty optimistic that we can fight again for victories from now on," said Schumacher, who leads McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen by eight points and Ralf by 11 with six races remaining. "I think they (Ralf and Williams) are very strong. Luckily they are 11 points behind but I have seen many seasons and I sort of feel that if you analyze a season, you have your highs and lows," added Schumacher. "I think they are absolutely at a high and we are probably not so much on a high on our side. And I think we can turn it around again.  If you look at the season so far it has always been Williams and McLaren very close to each other, especially in the last races," he said. "In the last race, we still beat the McLaren team who are running on other tires to us and we didn't beat Williams. So I think success or not having success does not come from a single factor.  We have to work in every department. We have, and I think we have done very well," he added. "Now we have to see if it is good enough." Whatever happens on Sunday, Schumacher hoped that his closest rival would be Ralf. "It's a good situation," he said. "Imagine the two of us fighting for the championship, only a Schumacher can win. That's great, isn't it?"

7/17/03

Williams says Bernie doesn't care about ticket sales  "Bernie would say the television audience is more important than the gate receipts," Frank Williams, a member of the BRDC, was quoted by the Daily Telegraph. "It is very difficult for Silverstone to make money on a grand prix," Williams added. "All Silverstone has is what they take at the gate, but Bernie only does long-term contracts and Silverstone pays a high fee that goes to Formula One Management [Ecclestone’s management company]." And speaking to the Daily Mirror, Williams was at pains to support the Silverstone race. "It is important for Formula One and Silverstone that we put on a show on Sunday. This country needs a British Grand Prix," he said.

7/17/03

PacifiCare signs on as sponsor of Denver race  PacifiCare Health Systems, Inc. (NYSE: PHS) is the latest sponsor to join the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, set to take place August 29-31. PacifiCare joins the Grand Prix as “Official Health Care Provider” and is part of an event that counts Centrix Financial, Coors Brewing Company, Argent Mortgage Company, Jefferson-Pilot Communications, the Denver Newspaper Agency, Bridgestone/Firestone, Colorado Central Station Casino, Freedom Harley-Davidson, Hyatt Regency Denver and St. Anthony Hospitals among its family of sponsors. Sponsoring the Denver event, along with exclusive agreements with Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) and the 2003 CART Champ Car World Series, marks PacifiCare’s entry into motor sports as part of its efforts to position itself as a leading consumer health organization throughout the United States. In addition to the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, PacifiCare has sponsored two other major CART events. They included the Grand Prix of Milwaukee (June 1) and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 13). PacifiCare is the exclusive and “Official Health Care Provider” for the entire 19-race CART Champ Car World Series, offering health insurance benefits and related services to CART and Newman/Haas Racing employees nationwide. “PacifiCare of Colorado is very pleased to be playing a major role in supporting the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver this year,” said Brian Crary, president of PacifiCare of Colorado. “This race, now in its second season, is fast becoming a major motor sports event in the greater Denver area. We think it’s an excellent venue to communicate our company’s fast-changing direction as a consumer health care organization, offering a variety of different products and services that meet consumers’ needs.” “We’re thrilled to welcome PacifiCare into our family of sponsors,” said John Frew, vice president and general manager of the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver. “Their commitment to racing and the Champ Car World Series through the Newman/Haas race team has proved to be a benefit for both. We look forward to making their sponsorship involvement in Denver a most rewarding one.” The second annual Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver will take place August 29-31 on a 1.65-mile, nine-turn temporary race circuit around the Pepsi Center. The event will feature the cars and stars of Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, as well as the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup and the Fran-Am 2000 North American Pro Championship.

7/17/03

British GP Thursday Press Conference  DRIVERS: Jenson BUTTON (BAR), David COULTHARD (McLAREN), Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), Justin WILSON (MINARDI)

Transcript

7/17/03

BAR gears up for China with SINA sponsor  As BAR prepares to celebrate its home Grand Prix, the team is delighted to announce a long-term partnership agreement with Chinese internet portal SINA, one of the leading online media information service providers for China and global Chinese communities. The partnership, which represents a substantial sponsorship of a Formula One team by a Chinese company, commences with effect from this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The partnership has two elements, the first of which is traditional on-car sponsorship and the SINA logo will feature within the BAR Honda 005 car’s distinctive livery for the first time this weekend. In addition, SINA will also host a Chinese version of BAR’s increasingly popular website. The language and content will be adapted specifically to Chinese culture. SINA is the leading online media and value-added infotainment service (“VAS”) provider for China and for global Chinese communities. It boasts 71 million registered users worldwide and over 10 million active paid users for a variety of fee-based services. Commenting on the new partnership, BAR Team Principal David Richards said : “This partnership is a very exciting step for BAR as it is potentially the most significant agreement since the team was founded. We are delighted to have demonstrated to SINA that Formula One and BAR can offer the company an unrivalled marketing platform as it seeks to expand its market share. China will have a major impact on Formula One when it joins the calendar in 2004. It has the potential to almost double the existing worldwide audience of the sport and I am pleased that the partnership between BAR and SINA is the first to capitalise on the exciting commercial opportunities that are emerging in this new Formula One market.” Speaking from Beijing, SINA’s Chief Marketing Officer LC Chang added : "Although SINA is one of the leading Internet portals in China, it is a highly competitive marketplace and so interesting content is key to maintaining our position. We have entered into this partnership with the BAR Team because their marketing approach complements ours and the content will provide a massive boost to our F1 services. This comes at a time at a time when Chinese people are becoming more and more interested in F1, so we shall certainly promote our sponsorship of BAR and we will feed regular SMS bulletins to our customers, thus building their relationship with and loyalty towards BAR as China prepares to host the Shanghai Grand Prix in 2004.” Press release BAR Honda

7/17/03

CART defectors are making a big impact on IRL  This Autoweek article says, Maybe the Indy Racing League isn’t so difficult after all. Or maybe this season’s list of newcomers is just plain good. [Editor's Note: It's no secret that the IRL started out with all CART rejects, those that could not win in CART. So it's no surprise that when the good CART teams defected to the IRL, they reestablished their superiority over the former CART reject teams and have now put most of them either out of business or at the back of the grid, which is where they were when in CART]. Whichever, new faces are making a great first impression on the 16-race season. Former Championship Auto Racing Teams drivers Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon  have won almost everything this side of the Indianapolis 500, and it is no coincidence they are 1-2 in points as the season reached its halfway point. Dixon won the first race of the season at Homestead, with Kanaan winning the pole. They have routinely swapped the headlines since, with Kanaan occupying three poles, Dixon two, and the combination of them winning four races (three by Dixon, including a dominating performance last month at Richmond, where he led all 206 laps of the rain-shortened race). It was even fitting that they crashed together in Japan in April while battling for the lead late in the race. On the manufacturers’ side, engines developed by IRL newcomers Toyota and Honda have won all of the races, leaving the established Chevrolet program to grasp (and gasp) for help from Cosworth.

7/17/03
Industry News

Fitness and Auto Racing presentation  Jim Leo from PitFit Training is presenting today at the National Strength and Conditioning Association national conference at the Indianapolis Convention Center.. The session is called "Fitness and Auto Racing: Training For Improved On-Track Performance".  Sam Hornish Jr., one of their clients, will speak. Player's Forsythe Racing has a car on display as part of the presentation.  Mark C.

7/17/03

No guaranteed money for Silverstone  This London Evening Standard article is an interesting read about the politics of Motorsports in the UK with regard to government subsidies for Silverstone. 

7/17/03

Arnold Schwarzenegger gets the British Grand Prix into action!  One of the world’s biggest movie stars comes together with one of the world’s biggest sporting events this Sunday, July 20th, when Arnold Schwarzenegger makes an unprecedented appearance at the British Grand Prix as a guest of Jaguar Racing, promoting his latest blockbuster release TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES. In a unique partnership between Columbia TriStar Films UK and Jaguar Racing, Arnold Schwarzenegger will be the guest of honor at this event where the home team's F1 cars will race in front of a global audience of millions carrying a specially designed TERMINATOR 3 livery. The team’s pit-lane garage will also boast the unique livery that has been designed as a one-off for the British Grand Prix. To coincide with the movie’s premiere on Monday 21st July, Mark Webber will drive the Jaguar R4 through London’s Leicester Square and co-star Kristanna Loken will arrive in an all aluminum polished Jaguar XJ – the only one of it’s kind in the world. Following a photo call in the pitlane at 11.45AM with co-star Kristanna Loken and the Jaguar Racing drivers Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia, Arnold and Kristanna will walk the grid before the start of the 2003 British Grand Prix. Schwarzenegger, a huge sports fan, stated, “I am very excited to be returning to London to attend the UK premiere of TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES. I am also delighted to attend the British Grand Prix as a guest of Jaguar Racing which, like the film itself promises to be pure action!”

7/17/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Raikkonen: I Can Beat Schumacher
Jaguar Dismiss Driver Speculation
Bud Sponsorship Boosts F1 In US
Lauda: I Know Coulthard Is Suffering
Austria Not Giving Up On F1
Silverstone To Decide Title: Williams
Moss Pines For F1's Danger-Era
Stoddart Zips Lips Over Wilson Deal
Rising Rookie Denies Jaguar Move
Alex Zanardi Eyes Racing Return
Williams Wary Of English Rain
Jacques Stamps Out BAR Driver Feud
Kimi Eyes Schumacher's World Title
Lauda Says Qualifying Is A 'Joke'
Montoya Not The Happiest F1 Bunny
Richards: Pat On Back For Button

7/17/03

Push-to-Pass button has fans excited already  UPDATE Yet another reader chimes in, Dear AR1, I've been strongly against the push-to-pass button because, in my opinion, it takes away from "pure" racing and making it more of a circus. Yet, after reading the recent comments and idea about how this would play out in a race, I've come to the conclusion that it is an amazing idea that could just "save" CART. I was at Cleveland this year in one of the most exciting races of the season. I couldn't imagine what the excitement would have been if Bourdais, Tracy, and Junqueira all had "boosts" left. It really doesn't take away from the driver's skill. The best drivers will still be at the front, because their superior speed will force other drivers to "waste" their boost allotment. Thus leaving the better driver with the ability to conserve boosts to the end. Instead of fuel conservation runs, we will have boost conserving runs and the end will be a mad dash to the finish!!! Remember, if I am passing someone and hit my boost first, even if the other driver uses a boost to defend, if they hit it after me, I will still carry more speed down the entire straight for the pass. Thus, boosting to defend is not really going to work unless you anticipate and boost first! If this boost or "the button" idea was to be advertised properly before and during the races (i.e.... the telemetry tracking idea), it could be just the thing that puts the focus back on ChampCar racing as the racing to watch. Jeez, just use a page from the IRL in advertising and over-glorify its brilliance and excitement it causes and brings to racing. Even more like the IRL, tell the people in the advertisements that "everyone" is watching and waiting for it. We could easily see this implemented in F1 after it was successful in ChampCars. Just remember, we MUST keep the mandatory pit stops for this to work properly. The drivers have to go 10/10 the whole time and not conserve fuel and boosts until the end. Pure racing will only continue if drivers are forced to go as fast as they can and forced to use their boosts if necessary to defend or gain an advantage. Fuel conservation is a thing for series that like to reward the driver who doesn't have the outright fastest speed, like NASCAR and the IRL. ChampCar racing is not that......real racing, real sport!  Derek Hughes, Florida Dear Derek, You should know that the Formula Palmer Audi Series in England currently employs such a feature in all its cars. When a button on the steering wheel is pushed, the driver gets a six second boost of power, which can only be used eight times in each race. My original proposal to CART was 10 pushes per race, each for a duration of 6 seconds, for a total of 60 seconds per race.  CART is leaning toward giving the drivers a 60 second allotment and let them use it as they see fit.  I prefer giving them a block of 10 pushes, which will force a driver to use the button on 10 different occasions, rather than just a single 60-second burst, which would be counter-productive to the real purpose - to create as many passing attempts in a race as possible. Mark C.  7/17/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, First of all - I love your website, and I love CART, and I love your honest opinions about the series...Regarding the "push-to-pass" button, a while ago, I came up with the same idea (great minds think alike!), so it's awesome (and funny) to hear that it's likely to happen. The old "candy" button did not seem to be sufficient - it's better to have a button that gives a meaningful increase in HP, and is limited in its number of uses. I think it would be awesome if the television coverage (on CBS, of course!) included the "push-to-pass" button as part of the telemetry for each car, detailing not only when a driver pushes the button, but how many pushes they have left. Can you imagine the late-race drama, as Bourdais is leading on the last lap of the race in Montreal, but he's used all his "pushes" to get him into first, and Carpentier (the "Quebecois" hero) is right on his tail in the last few corners, with one push left?!? Too much excitement for a Champcar race? Let's pray not....CART forever (in whatever form, with whatever owners!) Ramon Breton, Los Angeles, CA Dear Ramon, I too like the idea that the information can be broadcast to the fans, however, opposing teams can watch the same broadcast and learn what their opponent's strategy may be.  I am willing to bet the teams will want to keep this information secret.  Mark Cipolloni.  Another reader writes, On the boost button, I think you're overlooking one thing. The push-to-pass button can be used to defend against a pass. In effect it can eliminate passing.  Richard McComb, Dear Richard, Absolutely, the button can be used offensively or defensively.  Here's a strategy that we may see played out on more than one occasion.  Two teammates running 2nd and 3rd and take turns making a run on the leader, each using up 50% of their allotment of pushes.  If the leader chooses to use his button defensively on each of the two attacking teammates, he will use up 100% of his allotment of pushes while the two teammates still each have 50% left.  Mark C.  Another writes, The push-to-pass button is a great idea. If it happens, take it a step farther and make it 100 extra HP, and shoot some flame out of the back of the engine so the fans can see it happen - like the flame seen in the pits in Cleveland. Keep up the great work on your web site...Alan Saliwanchik  Dear Alan, While it's possible to dial in 100 extra HP, there is an issue with engine longevity.  Cosworth still has to guarantee CART 1,200 miles between engine rebuilds and too much additional stress on the engine might be a factor.  Besides, you don't want to make it too easy to pass.  We must not lose sight of the fact that this is a sport where the athletes ability means something.  It's a fine line one must walk between putting on a good show for the paying customers, and keeping it a sport and not a circus.  Mark C.

7/17/03

Bodine slams into SAFER Barrier at Indy Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 54 National Guard Taurus, had his Indianapolis test session cut short today after hitting the turn one wall Wednesday morning. Bodine, who had the fastest lap during the first day of testing at 178.879 mph, praised the SAFER barrier system after the accident. YOU WERE HAVING A GOOD WEEK UNTIL THE ACCIDENT. "Yeah, we were. We struggled a little two days ago the first day in race trim, but went back and regrouped and figured out what we needed to do. We changed the car pretty dramatically and got a lot better. Hopefully, when we come back with another car, we'll be able to come back and have the same thing run as good as this one was." WHAT HAPPENED? "A right-front tire blew. Just about right where you let off getting into one I felt the right-front drop. I turned the wheel and it was going straight, so it was obvious the right-front was down." DID YOU JUST HIT THE OUTSIDE WALL? "Yeah, I just hit the outside and then coasted down to the apron trying to get it off the track." THE SAFER BARRIER DID IT'S JOB? "Hallelujah. Man, I'm telling you, that's the first time I've experienced it - thankfully, that's the first time. What in the hell are we waiting for? Put them in. You could save lives without a doubt. It saves lives, injuries. That hit should have hurt. We don't have a G-meter in the car or anything, but we can pretty much tell what the slow-down rate was and I'm telling you it was a hard hit and look at me. I don't even have a sore spot." WERE YOU ABLE TO HIT THE BRAKES? "Yeah, I was on the brakes, but not a whole lot is going to slow down at that point." COULD YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE OF HITTING THE SAFER BARRIER VERSUS A REGULAR WALL OR IS IT HOW YOU FEEL AFTERWARDS THAT TELLS YOU IT WORKED? "I can now. As far as the impact, a hit is a hit - you just feel how much it's hitting. I think where the gain and benefit is that you don't have that impact G-spike that hurts you. That's what makes injuries, head injuries especially. Of course the HANS, that's a big plus. I'm a big proponent of the HANS device over all the other ones, so all the safety stuff worked." YOUR BROTHER, BRETT, HAD A HARD CRASH AT MICHIGAN AND SUFFERED SOME INJURIES AND YOU'RE NOT SORE ANYWHERE. IS THIS FURTHER PROOF THAT THESE SAFER BARRIERS NEED TO GO UP EVERYWHERE? "Yeah, without a doubt and without even a second thought. Why we don't have them everywhere is just absolutely baffling. I just don't understand it. We've seen the IRL cars hit here and the guys walk away. In those things, you can really get hurt. We've seen a lot of crashes - Kurt Busch last year, me now, Christian (Fittipaldi) - I don't know how he is. I guess he's all right. (NOTE: Fittipaldi was involved in a separate one-car accident earlier in the session.) I mean, come on, how much more proof do you need that the system works. Do something." LOUDON AND RICHMOND ARE PLANNING ON INSTALLING THE BARRIERS FOR THEIR FALL RACES. "At least they're trying. They might have run out of time when they figured out they needed to do it (in time for this week's race at Loudon), I don't know, but at least they're gonna do something and try to help us. These cars are going so fast now that it doesn't matter what track it is - from Martinsville to Indy - our entry speeds are so much faster and if you blow a tire or something happens, it's gonna hurt. It's gonna hurt -- even at Martinsville. If you blow a tire at Martinsville, you're basically gonna hit the wall head-on because the corner is so sharp. Loudon is the same way, so, hallelujah for them."

7/17/03

Zanardi could make racing return   According to this Autosport article, Disabled former Champ Car king Alex Zanardi might make his return to racing in the final round of the European Touring Car Championship after a positive test in Ravaglia Motorsport's BMW 320I in Italy on Tuesday. The Italian, who lost both his legs in a crash during the EuroSpeedway Lausitz Champ Car race in 2001, completed 27 laps of Misano in the specially adapted car, including a 14-lap sequence equivalent to a normal ETCC race distance. Zanardi lapped in 1m42.9s, 3.5 seconds slower than the benchmark set by reigning champion Fabrizio Giovanardi, although Zanardi was driving an upgraded Super Production machine rather than a full-blown 2003 car. "Times were not my priority," said Zanardi. "We were focusing on setting the Faidel [the company that constructed the hand controls] system up, in order to give me total control of the car. We have planned more tests, and only when I will feel confident I will be looking for the lap times. My goal is to reduce the gap from Giovanardi to two tenths." Zanardi had previously tried the car at Adria, where he will return for another test on August 28. If this is successful, Alex could drive a third Ravaglia BMW in the final round of the ETCC at Monza on October 19. Can Champ Cars be far behind?

7/17/03

Where to watch Road America on HDNet in USA    UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, I am so screwed. I went to the HDTV web page through the link that you provided, clicked on my state (Michigan) and looked to see where I can watch the Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America and it seems that I am either going to have to buy an HDTV set, (my wife would not be too understanding) or camp out in an appliance store. What's up with that? Dan Wilk Dear Dan, While we understand your dilemma, consider this.  NASCAR built their large race day attendance years ago by blacking out (TV) all their races in the local area within 100 miles of the track.  This forced fans to either go to the race, or not watch it at all.  Many chose to go and they came away glad they did.  So while many fans won't be able to watch the HD Net broadcast, perhaps this is the time for them to go to Road America to watch the race in person.  They won't be disappointed.  Road America is hands down the best road course in the USA.  Stand along the straight heading into turn 5.  Thousands of fans do.  The sound of the screaming engines echo off the trees and it's enough to run chills down your spine.  No one walks away not being a Champ Car fan and a Road America fan. Mark C. Another fan writes, Dear AR1, Maybe you can shed some light on why CART is being so ignorant with the Road America broadcast? I'm guessing it hasn't crossed their mind yet that less than a few hundred people will be watching the race? Would it be so tough to show the race on Speed at the same time? You listed a posting of "Where to watch Road America on HDNet" so I checked the link and found the only place in my area listed to broadcast RA is Circuit City, Best Buy and Ultimate Electronics. What am I suppose to do, stand in front of a TV on the showroom floor for 2 hours and listen to some uninformed punk try to sell me something that is WAY out of my price range? I'm so pissed about this that I've decided I will not watch the RA race at all and my previous plans of going to the Denver race have now been cancelled and diverted to a USGP trip. Last thing I want to do is give any of my money to TG but if CART thinks they can manipulate the fans into doing something they are not interested in then Pook and all his underlings have their heads firmly planted in the sand. Kudos to CART for being on the cutting edge of technology. Unfortunately it will be at the cost of lost viewership, idiots! A very disappointed CART fan Mark Cooper Tulsa, Okla. Dear Mark, When the race was originally cancelled, both SPEED Channel and CBS sold that race time slot.  Hence, when CART reinstated the race thanks to Mario Andretti's efforts, they were stuck with no time slot available.  They decided to give HD Net a try.  You should know that over 1 million USA homes have high definition TVs. They made an early investment in the technology and clamor for HDTV programming, any HDTV signal.  CART will showcase itself to an array of new viewers that day, including the many shoppers in Circuit City or other electronic appliance stores that keep their display HDTVs tuned to HD Net all the time. Perhaps CART will make a lot of new fans that day as they watch the Champ Cars do battle on the beautiful Road America track.  Too bad the push-to-pass button wasn't already implemented in time for Road America.  Its long straights, coupled with the pass button, would make it one sensational race for CART to showcase its series.  Mark C.   7/16/03 - A lot of fans have asked where they can watch the Road America CART race on HDNet because they can't get it at home.  This web page gives you a listing of where you can catch an HDNet broadcast in your local area.  Mark C.

7/17/03

Chevy submits new Cosworth engine to IRL for approval  2nd UPDATE AR1 has confirmed with GM that this engine is indeed the Cosworth.  7/16/03 - As it turns out the engine they submitted may not be the Cosworth, but a design of their own.  This of course would surprise us, and everyone else.  7/16/03 - GM Racing, the technical arm of GM's motorsports program, has submitted a request to the Indy Racing League for a change in the Chevrolet racing engine that competes in the IRL IndyCar Series. The new engine is designated the Gen IV Chevy Indy V8. "After exploring numerous options, GM Racing has finalized plans to introduce a new Chevrolet engine in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL program manager. "We have formally requested IRL officials to approve the Gen IV Chevy Indy V8 for competition in 2003. Pending IRL approval, GM Racing will make the Gen IV Chevy Indy V8 available to Chevrolet teams in accordance with IRL regulations."

7/16/03

California Speedway does not force NASCAR fans to buy IRL or CART ticket  A reader writes, Dear AR1, In 2004 There are 4 options for buying tickets at the California Speedway:
1) Single NASCAR weekend - Fri-Sun for either the spring or fall race $105 or $155 each
2) NASCAR 6-pack - Fri-Sun for BOTH NASCAR weekends  $210 or $310 each
3) Full Season ticket - BOTH NASCAR weekends, Grand Am, Superbike, Historic and IRL  $355 or $455 each
4) Buy tickets individually - AFTER priority has been given to the above 3 (with option 3 getting first priority, then 2 then 1)
The first 2 options are season tickets, but NASCAR ONLY season tickets. Option 3 is the FULL season ticket (their words). ALL CalSpeedway season ticket holders, as myself, are now given the options listed above. I always renewed my season tickets because a good friend of mine likes NASCAR so I figured why not, but in reality CART was my interest. I think the point here is that at many of the existing venues: Kentucky, Texas, etc, people are forced to take the IRL ticket if they want to keep (or at least have the best shot at) their NASCAR tickets. Here, CalSpeedway has given the NASCAR fans the option of priority ticketing WITHOUT having to buy the IRL ticket along with the others. Granted, they give priority ticketing to Full Season ticket holders, but I expect the number of Full Season ticket purchasers to be so close to zero it will be negligible. My reason for saying that: it is my understanding that there were less than 9,000 season ticket buyers for 2003. Assuming that the average season ticket buyer purchases 3 seats per his season ticket, that's 27,000 seats (if they all show up) in the 105k speedway. Not a very big number. And I'm sure that the majority of those season ticket buyers only did so to ensure their NASCAR seats. Now that CalSpeedway has given the NASCAR folks the option of buying just the NASCAR weekends, AND the fact that those tickets have gotten a lot more expensive, I can't see many people buying the full season ticket.....meaning, the IRL (and CART), for all intents and purposes, will need to stand on its own. They may pick up a few stragglers, but I can't imagine that it will be a significant amount.  By the way, the renewal flyer also states that tickets to the CART race in 2004 will go on sale in December of this year, i.e. totally stand-alone from all other races. Jesus Gonzalez, San Dimas, California

7/16/03

Harvick's crew chief fined  NASCAR officials announced today that Todd Berrier, crew chief of the No. 29 NASCAR Winston Cup Series team, has been fined $25,000 due to a rule infraction discovered last week at Chicagoland Speedway following the Tropicana 400. In addition, NASCAR has penalized the team's driver, Kevin Harvick, 25 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship driver points and team owner, Richard Childress, 25 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship owner points. During the event's pre-race inspection process, the rear suspension of the No. 29 Ford was found to have an unapproved travel limiting device, a violation of Section 12-4-Q of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rule Book (parts and/or equipment used that do not conform to NASCAR rules) and Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing).

7/16/03

Borcheller and Hunter-Reay have all the luck  ALMS driver Terry Borcheller and CART Champ Car driver Ryan Hunter-Reay will be judges at the first installment of the Miss Grand Prix Americas competition in Miami on July 17. The event will be at 8 p.m. at Miami's Radius Nightclub. The Miss GPA Pageant is South Florida's ultimate sports model search, where beautiful contestants compete to represent the Grand Prix Americas. Both the American Le Mans Series and CART will hold races on the Miami city streets in the Sept. 26-28 event. Miss GPA Pageant heats will be held throughout South Florida in July, August and September and the finals will be held on Wednesday of race week during the Grand Prix Americas Fan Fest at Bayside Marketplace.

7/16/03

Sprague out, Andretti in  Haas CNC Racing, which fields the No. 0 NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, announced today that veteran John Andretti will take over driving duties for the upcoming Winston Cup events at New Hampshire International Speedway and Pocono (Penn.) Raceway. “We are thrilled that there was someone available to us of John Andretti’s caliber, with his vast amount of Winston Cup experience,” stated Joe Custer, Haas CNC Racing General Manager. “We’re excited that he has agreed to come on board for the next couple of races. Following the races at New Hampshire and Pocono, we’ll evaluate how things are going and move forward from there.” Andretti, who hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, has been racing full-time in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series since 1994. He has scored four pole positions and two Winston Cup victories during his career, the last of which came in Martinsville in 1999 with Petty Enterprises. He and Haas CNC Racing crew chief Tony Furr have a history together, winning the 1997 Pepsi 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. “I feel really good about being reunited with Tony Furr,” said John Andretti. “The Haas CNC Racing team is an excellent organization. I look forward to being behind the wheel of the No. 0 NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac for the next couple of races.”

7/16/03

Fittipaldi crashes at Indy  Christian Fittipaldi's car crashed today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during testing for next month's Brickyard 400. Fittipaldi, who drives for Petty Enterprises, hit the outside wall of turn 2 on the 2-1/2 mile oval, track officials said. He was taken to the track hospital for an examination, after which he was released and cleared to drive.

7/16/03

Vegas gets March 7th date for 2004  Nevada’s largest annual sports weekend will return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 5-7, 2004. Again in 2004, the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 will be the third stop on the NASCAR Nextel Cup tour. The 2004 event will mark the seventh visit of NASCAR’s most elite series to Las Vegas’s 1.5-mile superspeedway. The Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Busch Series event will precede the NASCAR Nextel Cup event on Saturday, March 6. Qualifying for both races will be held Friday, March 5. The O’Reilly World of Outlaws will return for two nights of action on the speedway’s half-mile dirt oval March 4-5. “Even though we are just four months removed from the 2003 NASCAR Weekend, we are anxiously anticipating the 2004 event,” said Chris Powell, LVMS general manager. “The opening of the new Dale Earnhardt Terrace, which will give fans an incredible panoramic view of the world-famous Las Vegas Strip, has everyone at LVMS looking forward to next year. We also are excited to be the first track in the west to welcome Nextel, NASCAR’s new title sponsor, to the greatest sport in the world. This past year, we had more than 140,000 people for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 and almost 90,000 fans for the Sam’s Town 300. The 6.9 TV rating is the highest of any motorsports event excluding the Daytona 500 this year. It’s pretty obvious the first weekend in March has become synonymous with NASCAR racing in Las Vegas.” Tickets for the new 22,000-seat Dale Earnhardt Terrace are on sale now by calling the speedway at 1-800-644-4444 or online at www.lvms.com. All remaining seats will go on sale in September. The ticket-renewal process for previous years’ ticket holders is nearing completion.

7/16/03

Columbus Town Meeting met with supportive crowd  UPDATE Here is the full transcript from the meeting with exclusive AR1 photos.  7/15/03 -  The popular CART Champ Car Town Meeting series returned Tuesday night to the site of its genesis as the stars of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford met the fans of Columbus, Ohio for the second consecutive year. The Town Meeting series began in Columbus last year, and played to a supportive crowd Tuesday night that poured into the Scarlet Ballroom of the Buckeye Hall of Fame Café near the campus of The Ohio State University. The crowd got the chance to fire questions to a number of the principals of CART Champ Car including team owners Derrick Walker and Bobby Rahal, CART Champ Car driver Sebastien Bourdais, CART Vice President of Operations John Lopes and Toyota Atlantic driver Danica Patrick as well as SPEED Channel’s Calvin Fish. Rahal joined via a phone hookup, as he was on the West Coast taking care of a business commitment, but supplied the fans a reason for optimism as he gave an update on his sponsorship hunt for next year. “There seems to be some real interest in the series from the sponsors,” Rahal reported. “In the last year, most of what we heard was negative but a lot of good things are happening now with television and the racing and people are taking notice.” The Columbus Champ Car fans showed themselves to be very knowledgeable and grilled the panel with tough questions ranging from the timely calling of penalties to the future of the nearby Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The fans also paid homage to the late Jim Trueman, who built Mid-Ohio into one of the finest permanent road courses in the United States, with a rousing round of applause. Lopes gave fans some key insights for next year including alerting the gathering that CART Champ Car was looking at using standing starts next year along with the fact that the series will almost assuredly give drivers a push-to-pass button, which gives drivers an extra bit of horsepower to make a pass. He also confirmed that the series will use single-car qualifying on the Grand Prix Americas street course in Miami. Walker gave the owner’s view on the mandatory pit windows, telling fans that they enhance the event. “If we didn’t have the pit windows I think we would all be making fuel economy runs which is not very exciting for the fans,” Walker said. “It’s not a magic bullet but it is doing what it is supposed to do for us.” The two drivers fielded many questions and regaled the crowd with some behind-the-scenes stories including Patrick discussing why she likes her current situation in the Atlantic series with Team Rahal. “I’ve never been a big fan of having a teammate because I have never felt like I am the number one driver on the team, especially when I was in Europe,” she said. “Now I feel like we are making gains and getting better every weekend and are trying to catch those yellow cars of A.J. Allmendinger and Aaron Justus.” The fans were then given a chance to meet and greet the panelists after the 90-minute session, taking the opportunity to ask one-on-one questions with the drivers and officials of the series. The CART Champ Car Town Meeting series will continue August 5 with a trip to Denver, site of the August 31 Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver.  CART

7/16/03

Montagny deems IRL too dangerous  Franck Montagny is a future star in most people's book.  In last week's edition of Autosport magazine Montagny was asked what he would do if he didn't make it into F1.   "The IRL is very important, but it is too dangerous for me.  Every time I watch it on TV, a car is flying through the air.  Sebastien Bourdais has done well in Champ Cars this year and it has good links to Europe, but I'm not sure about it's future."

7/16/03

Stewart talks about Gentlemen's Agreement  At yesterday's press conference, Tony Stewart shared his thoughts on the controversial Gentlemen's Agreement in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series as it relates to giving drivers their laps back under caution: "When I joined the series in 1999, I had run the Busch Series for a couple of seasons and learned from Mark Martin and Bobby Labonte and others what the gentlemen's agreement was all about. Most drivers learn it the hard way. New drivers would come into the series and they wouldn't be in the best equipment right off the bat. You kind of had to prove yourself and work your way up to the Winston Cup series. You'd find yourself getting a lap down, and I would be begging people to give me a lap back. In this day and age, there are a lot of new drivers getting very, very good cars, and I was one of them. I was fortunate enough to get into a good car right away. But what I learned in the Busch Series as far as give and take, it can help guys. You may cut a tire down, something that's not your fault or your team's fault, it's just piece of debris, but you cut a tire down and have to pit. You have a car that deserves to be on the lead lap and guys have been pretty good about letting you have your lap back. If a guy's car isn't fast enough to stay on the lead lap, he'll go down a lap again. Everybody's been pretty good about that, but you have new guys coming into the series who either have not learned that or just completely disregard it. It's hard to race like that when we're all competitive as we are. Half the group is racing one way, under a certain etiquette, and the other half is racing on a separate etiquette. It just kind of makes it hard to understand what we're supposed to do and what we're not supposed to do. We don't want NASCAR to have to get involved in it, but there are too many guys out there right now, a small group, that is making this a very big problem right now. If getting Mike [Helton] involved in it is what it will take to get everything back to normal, then I guess I'm not even opposed to it. I don't care what we do, either give laps back or don't give laps back, just make it the same for everybody. We gave Matt Kenseth three laps back at Richmond last year and he won the race. He deserved to win the race because he had the fastest car. I'd rather race for my wins than have to take advantage of it."

7/16/03

IRL drivers have productive test at MIS  Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves has always been known for his vibrant personality throughout his racing career. That’s why it should come as no surprise that he explained racing at MIS with an analogy as only Helio could put it. “It’s like I always say, sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug,” said Castroneves. “When we come back here next week I hope that we are the windshield.” Castroneves - along with three other drivers – completed IRL IndyCar Series testing Tuesday at MIS in preparation for next weekend’s Firestone Indy 400. The Marlboro Team Penske driver completed approximately 100 laps in a day-long test that saw changing track conditions and cloud cover during the morning session which gave way to sunny skies for the afternoon session. Joining Castroneves in yesterday’s test were Target Chip Ganassi Teammates Tomas Scheckter and Scott Dixon along with the IRL’s most recent winner, Andretti Green Racing driver and Warren, Michigan native Bryan Herta. Defending Firestone Indy 400 winner Scheckter drove the morning session and Scott Dixon - already a three-race winner on the IRL IndyCar Series circuit this season – drove the afternoon session for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Scheckter and Dixon completed 156 laps combined and ran competitive speeds compared to the other drivers according to Team Manager Mike Hull. “The car feels good out there and we tend to run well at these longer circuits,” said Scheckter. Scheckter won his first IRL IndyCar Series race last year at Michigan, and would like nothing more than to be a part of MIS history and win the first two IRL IndyCar Series events at MIS. “I’d love to. I just need to keep working hard and it will work out,” said Scheckter. “I think the whole combination this year has worked quite well with the Chip Ganassi organization. With Scott and I working so well together, it has produced a pretty good team.” Andretti Green Racing driver Bryan Herta – fresh off his first IRL IndyCar Series win last week at Kansas – completed 106 laps for the day in his Honda car in Tuesday’s test and ran laps in the low 220s according to crew chief Kyle Moyer. Herta was pleased with the test overall and gained some additional valuable experience on the two-mile oval. “We got off to a bit of a rocky start, but once we got running, we ran a bunch of laps and learned some things,” said Herta. “You don’t necessarily have to make the car faster in a test, but when you leave the test with more ideas than you started like we did today, then you know it was productive.”

7/16/03

Homestead banking to get pre-race testing  The new banking being installed at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be tested for three days prior to the season-ending Nov. 14-16 weekend featuring NASCAR’s three national series. The tentative schedule has NASCAR Craftsman Truck teams testing Monday, Nov. 10; the NASCAR Busch Series is slated for Nov. 11 and the NASCAR Winston Cup Series is set for Nov. 12. All three days, there will be two sessions – 9 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m.

7/16/03

Winston Leader Bonus reaches $190,000  It’s been 49 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 New England 300 also is the NASCAR Winston Cup points leader, he’ll add another $190,000 to his winnings. Matt 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, Jeff Gordon is the only other driver who could win the bonus. Should someone win the bonus this weekend, it will equal the largest payout in the history of the program. Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet) collected $190,000, with a win at Indianapolis in 2000. The $10,000 bonus is available following every NASCAR Winston Cup race. If the point leader does not win the race, the bonus rolls over to the next week.

7/16/03

Rudd sets sights on 700  Ricky Rudd (No. 21 Motorcraft Ford), the “Iron Man” of NASCAR Winston Cup racing, is two starts away from reaching yet another milestone in his record consecutive start streak – 700. Rudd should climb to 700 at Pocono July 27. He began the streak on Jan. 11, 1981 at Riverside International Speedway, and looks to start his 786th NASCAR Winston Cup race – and 699th straight – Sunday at New Hampshire. During his career, Rudd has accumulated 23 wins, 189 top fives and 358 top 10s. He has also collected 28 poles and won in excess of $30 million and is one of only 25 drivers to accumulate 500 or more starts in their NASCAR Winston Cup career. Rudd, voted one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, is fourth all-time in NASCAR Winston Cup starts behind legendary names Richard Petty (1,177), Dave Marcis (882) and Darrell Waltrip (809).

7/16/03

Roush wants more, not less, races  While some Winston Cup  teams are cutting back because of lack of money, Car owner Jack Roush said he wants to add more races to the Winston Cup tour. 'Who says we're burning drivers out?' Roush said.  'If these were milk farmers, they'd be milking cows twice a day. If they were hay farmers, they would be bailing hay every day. What we do is carry a very exciting entertainment product 36 times a year, and I think we need to race 40 times or more.  'I'd like to race two more points races in February, and I'd like to race for points that open week in June, and I think we should take that May date that we've raced the Winston and run a points race at another market. That's at least four more opportunities.'

7/16/03

Money woes may drive some teams to part-time  This Winston Salem Journal article talks about the distinct possibility of some Winston Cup teams going part-time because of lack of money.

7/16/03

Pook almost had Tracy suspended   According to this Toronto Sun article, CART Champ Car boss Chris Pook threatened to suspend Paul Tracy in advance of Sunday's Molson Indy over what now appears to have been a misunderstanding. An investigation by The Toronto Sun into an incident at the Cleveland Grand Prix uncovered plans 11 days ago to fine Tracy $15,000 US for insubordination and possibly suspend him from the Toronto race. According to witnesses and participants interviewed by The Sun the contretemps began on the afternoon of July 3 at a media event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Tracy showed up unshaven and in shorts. Pook, who was host of the event, was said to be furious and felt the CART series superstar was being disrespectful, but didn't say anything at the time. The next day at the Burke Lake Front Airport -- site of the race -- Tracy had just completed a lap that would give him the provisional pole for the Saturday night race. "I was slowing down after my fast lap and (Team Rahal driver) Michel Jourdain pulled up beside me and began to shake his fist at me," Tracy said. Jourdain was upset because he thought Tracy had blocked him from bettering the Player's/Forsythe team's time. Pook, meanwhile, was in pit lane headed toward Tracy's stall to ask for a meeting with the Canadian when he witnessed Tracy giving Jourdain the one-fingered salute. More....

7/16/03

Hammond: NASCAR needs dedicated safety crew  In this Fox Sports article, Jeff Hammond says, Like CART and IRL, NASCAR should have the same dedicated fire and safety personnel each week. If NASCAR wanted to train some of its inspectors to be members of that crew, they could roll at a moment's notice. There's already a crew that carries the jaws of life and goes out when they're needed. Put a safety vehicle at each end of the track so each one could cover half the track in a matter of seconds and get to somebody who has been in a bad wreck. Roll them in very quickly and then local medical and rescue units can come in after the situation has been brought under control.

7/16/03

Jag team picks up another sponsor for home race  Jaguar Racing is proud to be supported by Pioneer GB Ltd at this year’s British Grand Prix. As well as Pioneer USA sponsoring Jaguar Racing, Pioneer GB Ltd is providing the Jaguar team with the latest In-Car and Home Entertainment technology to showcase in their pit-lane garage and hospitality areas at Silverstone this weekend. Stunning Pioneer plasma screens will be on display in Jaguar’s garage, showcasing exclusive promotional footage and live feeds from the race weekend. Pioneer has made future TV a reality, today, with its best of breed plasma TVs; offering a range of ‘PureVision’ screens that are the ultimate in super-slim vision technology. Available in stunning silver finish, Pioneer’s 43 and 50-inch television plasmas are an amazing 9.8cm thin and their displays are perfectly flat, flicker free and viewable to an angle of 160 degrees horizontally or vertically. The plasmas will also be running film from Pioneer’s top quality DVD players. In Jaguar’s Paddock Club Hospitality, visitors to the Grand Prix will be able to gain hands-on experience of Pioneer’s In-Car Satellite Navigation products. Whether it is finding their way on holiday, or at home, or needing to check the traffic status en route to sporting events such as the Grand Prix; Pioneer offers navigation and entertainment solutions that will meet the needs of any busy worker living life in the fast lane, family on the move, or traveling sports enthusiast. Jaguar’s guests will be able to experience Pioneer’s new DVD navigation systems that boast intuitive and touch screen panels, voice recognition and a new rerouting system.

7/16/03

Hemelgarn replaces Lazier  2nd UPDATE Hold the presses.  Hemelgarn has told Gidley he won't be needed even after having a seat fitting and Lazier is back in the car.  7/15/03 - The Indy Star confirms this news but goes on to say Memo Gidley, not Mueller, will get the ride.  Team Manager Lee Kunzman said he is trying to determine what is causing this year's dismal results. Lazier's best finish is a 10th at Pikes Peak (Colo). "We need to see if we have a driver problem or a car problem," Kunzman said Monday. "We're stalled. We're not even improving on poor." Lazier was told at last week's Kansas race that the team might disband due to a lack of funding.   7/14/03 - Alex Mueller will be in the 91 car this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway in place of Buddy Lazier. Mueller, from Germany, passed his IRL rookie test earlier this season with PDM.   We understand this is a one race deal, and we don't know if this means Buddy is out of the ride permanently or just this one race.

7/16/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Button More Confident Than Ever
Toyota Unveil New Aero-Kit
Bernie: F1 Heading To India
Russian GP Still Alive, Says Ralf
Rubens Not Blind To Criticism
Stoddart Loses Millions On F1
Jordan Facing Silverstone Struggle
Barrichello Defends Bridgestone
Fisichella Prays For Dark Clouds
Silverstone Boast About Changes
Trulli: I'm Just As Quick As Alonso
Coulthard Defends Besieged Silverstone
Wilson Expects Tough Home Race
Ralf Laments Constant Criticism
Button Continues To Blast Bridgestone
Minardi's Wilson Is Moving On
Coulthard: Butt Out, Bernie
Schumacher Supports Silverstone
Renault R23 Becomes The R23B
Raikkonen Eyes Silverstone Win
Da Matta Hopes For Silverstone Sun
Button Targets Team-Mate Jacques
Michelin Not Complacent
Kimi: Car Delay Isn't Knock-Out Blow
Schu Confident Of Ferrari Fight-Back
McNish Returns For Home Event

7/15/03

NASCAR fines Roush Racing  NASCAR penalized one of Roush Racing's truck series teams Tuesday for using illegal engine parts in rookie Carl Edwards' first career victory. Crew chief Doug Richert was assessed $25,000 for using unapproved cylinder heads in Edwards' Ford when it won last weekend at Kentucky Speedway. Edwards was stripped of 100 driver points and Jack Roush was docked 100 owner points. The engine was changed before the race, and Roush Racing acknowledged that the replacement motor did indeed have non-conforming parts but was not expected to be used in competition.

7/15/03

Schrader tests new NASCAR escape hatch  “NASCAR just called me up and asked if I would go over to the Tech Center there in Mooresville (N.C.) and try out the new escape hatch. To me it’s a wonderful improvement, looks fairly easy to implement, and it’s not complex. Personally I can’t see any drawbacks . . .you know, makes perfect sense. “It’s going to make a big difference, especially after an accident that ends with the driver’s side up against the wall. Now, you can’t get out of the driver’s side in that situation, because a lot of these walls are higher than the top of the car. With the escape hatch you can get out just as quickly as any other situation. It’s also easier for emergency workers to get to the driver in that situation. “You still have to unfasten all the safety equipment, so as far as it saving time in other situations, I’m not sure it will. However, now it’s impossible to get out with the wall right beside you - with the escape hatch you will be able to. I look for the thing to be implemented soon. Personally, I think it’s great.”

7/15/03

Houston - if they build it, will they come?  This Houston The Facts.com article says, Star State Investments Inc. might not have any races lined up, but Tom Floyd, the company’s chairman and CEO, says he is confident the speedway will be able to land the races it needs. Neither the Indy Racing League nor NASCAR has made a commitment to race at the planned Houston Superspeedway. Floyd is a former executive with Slick 50 and Pennzoil and developed ties to people in the racing industry when those companies sponsored racing teams. He said that while he had no assurance of landing a race, his ties to the racing industry would be an advantage. “I understand the reality of those things,” Floyd said. “I also have a lot of friends in the racing industry. “Long before our track is finished, we will have the races,” Floyd said. “I think we are on their radar screen. At the appropriate time, we will make some noise.” Floyd said one advantage Star State had was that he had in the past dealt with Tony George, who owns the Indy Racing League, and the France family, which owns NASCAR. “At least going in, in both cases, I feel like they’re both friends,” Floyd said. “As far as the contracts, it will be hard. At least we are starting on mutual respect from the beginning.”.......Floyd said another way to attract racing bodies was to build a unique track. He said that is what he is trying to do with the Houston Superspeedway. The design of the 1.3-mile semi-oval track has narrow turns at one end and wide turns at the other, giving it an egg shape. He said the only other track designed like it was in Japan. He said the narrow-to-wide turn transition would make for exciting racing. Also, the backstretch, which is opposite the grandstands, will be elevated 14 feet to allow people to see the racing over the garages in the infield. Floyd said the track was being designed by Kevin Forbes, director of engineering and construction at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

7/15/03

Eli Lilly rated #1 in Charitable Distribution   Newman/Haas Racing's Eli Lilly sponsor ranks #1 in distributing pharmaceuticals to the disadvantaged who can't afford to buy them.  Paul Newman in particular is very keen on socially responsible firms and individuals. Eli Lilly takes the industry lead on distributing pharmaceuticals to the economically disadvantaged, according to findings emerging from the second annual Reputation Strength Study of the pharmaceutical industry, conducted by Rating Research LLC (RRC), the leading reputation rating agency. Eli Lilly also is among the top three performers of the 19 companies studied on support of charitable causes and having a positive impact on the community. “Eli Lilly’s strong performance on these reputation components may be partially due to the “Lilly Answers” program which provides several Lilly products to needy seniors with a deeper discount than competitors have offered,” says Dory Gasorek, Principal and RRC’s Chair, Rating Committee. “They also have garnered credit for the activities of the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation.” Nonetheless, although charitable and social responsibility-related components emerge as beneficial in driving corporate reputation within the pharmaceutical industry, many leading companies receive little recognition for these efforts, according to the RRC study results. “Many companies in our study provide significant monetary and drug distribution support on a global basis, but get surprisingly little credit for it,” noted Ms. Gasorek, “Given drug pricing and other issues facing the industry, pharmaceutical leaders might benefit by enhanced communication of their efforts in this regard.” Pfizer, Merck and J&J, the only companies in the study that were assigned RRC’s highest possible AAA Reputation Strength Rating, generally perform strongly in this arena. Surprisingly, however, J&J ranks first on support of charitable causes and fifth on its positive impact on the community, but falls to tenth-place on distributing pharmaceuticals to the disadvantaged.  PRN Newswire

7/15/03

Earnhardt loses Busch ride  FitzBradshaw Racing announced that Tim Fedewa will replace Busch driver Kerry Earnhardt in the No. 12 Supercuts Chevrolet. "A change right now is in the best interests of everybody," said team co-owner Terry Bradshaw. "We appreciate everything Kerry has done for the team, but we want to search to find our best possible on-track combination."

7/15/03

Toyota submits Tundra for approval  Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) U.S.A. submitted the official Tundra race truck to NASCAR officials today for competition in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The manufacturer announced its intentions to race in the Craftsman Truck Series at the Chicago Auto Show in February; a Toyota Tundra prototype race truck was unveiled at Daytona International Speedway during race weekend.    the Tundra’s official submission is a landmark achievement in Toyota’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series program in preparation for its debut at Daytona in 2004. The “Road to Daytona” for the Toyota Tundra race truck began over a year ago when TRD had an optical scan created of a production Tundra. TRD then utilized Swift Engineering, the aero-development company located in San Clemente, Calif., to help create the Tundra race truck body design.   “From the beginning, the Tundra race truck’s creation utilized the talents of a number of knowledgeable people within TRD and several other well-known companies,” said Jim Aust, president and CEO of TRD U.S.A. “We have a wealth of experience and talent at TRD in creating an engine from scratch, but in developing the Tundra chassis and body we went to industry experts with the know-how in NASCAR-type equipment.”  TRD and Swift took the Tundra body scan and digitally morphed it over 2004 body templates provided by NASCAR, which were also scanned into a design computer. Once the Tundra body shape digitally complied with what the common NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series templates were going to be in 2004, the digital surface information was translated to create a high-density urethane foam model. This model was ultimately used in creating the first set of Tundra body parts. Once the Tundra race truck’s basic shape was determined, the construction of the first generation chassis and body began at the TRD Tundra Race Truck Center in North Carolina. A crew of experienced NASCAR fabricators and craftsmen began creating a prototype NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Tundra.  Employing feedback from the NASCAR technical staff, the Tundra was developed and refined in the wind tunnel with the goal of presenting a first-generation Tundra race truck for preliminary evaluation by NASCAR in the fall of 2002. Following additional re-styling changes and further wind tunnel testing, the first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Tundra was revealed at the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 12, 2003, and a second truck was unveiled the next day in Victory Circle at Daytona International Speedway by Bill France Jr. and members of Toyota and TRD.  After Daytona, NASCAR made changes to the 2004 truck templates. Along with the other manufacturers competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, TRD’s Tundra Race Truck Center reconfigured the Tundra to meet the new template requirements.  Following a comparative evaluation of all proposed 2004 trucks, each manufacturer began to create its truck of record for the scheduled July 15 submission to the NASCAR Technical Center in Concord, N.C.  “It’s been a great learning experience and a very gratifying journey leading to today’s submission of the Tundra,” Aust reflected. “But we know a lot of the hard work is yet to come. We’re working diligently to prepare our Toyota NASCAR V8 for submission in a few months.”  The Tundra race truck submitted to NASCAR will undergo final aerodynamic evaluation along with the other manufacturer trucks by the sanctioning body. On-track testing for the Tundra race truck will begin this summer and continue into the fall.

7/15/03

Barron to replace injured Giaffone  IRL IndyCar Series and CART veteran Alex Barron, who replaced injured Mo Nunn Racing driver Arie Luyendyk at this year’s Indianapolis 500, returns to the team this weekend to sub for the injured Felipe Giaffone in the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force at the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway. The 32-year-old Barron, who was the fastest Bump Day qualifier at Indy and drove the #20 Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force from 25th on the starting grid to a sixth-place finish to earn MCI Long Distance Award honors, returns to the scene of his first-ever IRL victory at Nashville in 2002 while he was with Blair Racing. Giaffone had surgery last week to repair a fractured right femur and pelvis that resulted from an accident that also involved driver Dan Wheldon at the Kansas Indy 300 on July 6. Giaffone is currently recovering at Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana here and it is uncertain when he will be able to return to the cockpit. “Alex did a tremendous job for us with relatively little preparation at Indy this year and we are fortunate that a driver of his caliber is available to help us out of a tough situation this weekend,” said team owner Morris Nunn, whose two-car team also features Japanese open-wheel driving veteran Tora Takagi behind the wheel of the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force. “It is a shame what happened to Felipe (Giaffone) at Kansas Speedway two weekends ago, especially since his injuries resulted from an accident that we believe was not his fault. We wish him the speediest of recoveries. We’re confident he’ll come back stronger than ever. In the meantime, we are prepared to keep Hollywood in the championship hunt with Alex behind the wheel this weekend.”

7/15/03

Blanch leaves Hornish to join IRL  Veteran IRL IndyCar Series crew chief Kevin “Rocket” Blanch has joined the Indy Racing League as technical manager for the IndyCar Series, league officials announced July 15. Blanch will oversee the IndyCar Series technical inspection crew, a group of 25 individuals, during events. He also will work closely with Phil Casey, senior technical director for the Indy Racing League, and Brian Barnhart, senior vice president, racing operations. “Blanch’s record and performance while with the Pennzoil Panther Racing team were simply outstanding,” Barnhart said. “He is well respected within the racing community, and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for us with Kevin joining the IRL staff as technical manager.” Blanch, 39, comes to the IRL after serving the previous six-plus seasons with Panther Racing, which he joined shortly after the team was formed in fall 1997. He quickly became a vital force behind the team’s success, including successive IndyCar Series championships with driver Sam Hornish Jr. in 2001-02. Blanch had served as the Pennzoil Panther “Pack” crew chief/right-front tire changer from the team’s first test session in December 1997 at Phoenix International Raceway. “This is a great opportunity for me and is the next logical step in my career,” said Blanch, a native of Yorktown, Ind. “I’ve been with the Indy Racing League since it started. Hopefully, I can bring some of my experience to this position and make it smoother and easier for the teams to go through the tech line. “I love racing, and I believe in the formula of the Indy Racing League and Tony George’s vision. I have always said until I can retire, I want to be a part of the IRL, its race cars and the people in the sport.” During Blanch’s tenure at Panther Racing, the team won two series championships, earned 11 victories and five pole-position starts and led 2,032 laps. Panther’s cars were running at the finish in 77 percent of the team’s starts and completed 90 percent of all possible race laps during his tenure. Hornish earned his eight career IndyCar Series victories and both of his season titles under Blanch.

7/15/03

Giaffone moved to rehab center  IRL IndyCar Series driver Felipe Giaffone has been transferred to Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis as he continues to recover from fractures to his right leg and pelvis suffered in an accident during the Kansas Indy 300 on July 6 at Kansas Speedway. “I can’t say how long I’ll be in the rehabilitation center,” Giaffone said. “At least one week, but maybe two or three weeks. I just want to do whatever is best for my recovery and get back into the car.” Giaffone and Dan Wheldon collided and crashed in Turn 2 on Lap 56 while racing for position. Giaffone, who started fifth, was credited with 22nd place in the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Following the incident, Giaffone was admitted to Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., before being transferred to Methodist Hospital on July 7 for surgery. Persons wishing to send cards or letters to Giaffone are encouraged to mail them to:
Mo Nunn Racing
2920 Fortune Circle West
Suite E
Indianapolis, IN 46241

7/15/03

Ralf supports race in Russia   Ralf Schumacher offered support on Tuesday to Moscow hosting a Formula One grand prix. "Russia is a very interesting market and motor racing seems to be very big, so I certainly would enjoy racing here," Germany's Williams driver, on a promotional trip to Moscow, told a news conference. "There were a lot of rumors about it (Formula One coming to Moscow), but then suddenly it got very quiet," Schumacher said. "But certainly Moscow remains a good possibility. There are a lot of races in Europe and there is a room for maneuver."

7/15/03

Renault to debut new chassis   This weekend’s British Grand Prix will mark the debut of the Renault F1 car, dubbed the R23B. Team technical director Mike Gascoyne believes the updated car should help Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli take a step forward at Silverstone. "We will have a major bodywork update on the car," he said. "We have decided to christen it the R23B as it groups together a significant number of detail modifications into a single package, which had always been planned for Silverstone. Following a positive test in Barcelona last week, we expect it to bring a definite gain on the stopwatch.  Silverstone should suit us very well," he said. The circuit most akin to it is Barcelona and we ran very strongly there earlier this season, coming close to winning the race. Silverstone is a circuit which rewards strong aerodynamic performance, and we have further improvements in that area for this race. I think we can have a very competitive weekend, and take points off our direct competitors."

7/15/03

Bernie Ecclestone says F1 will race in India   "We will be having an F1 race in India for sure," Bernie Ecclestone was quoted as saying in the Indian magazine 'The Week.' "India is moving forward very fast. After we do something in China, India is next." The southern Indian city of Hyderabad is being touted as a possible F1 venue, although Ecclestone stressed no official moves had yet been made to organize the event in India. "But we have been speaking to intermediaries," he told the magazine. "So they know we are interested. I need to go and have a look, which I will do in the near future." Asked if he thought F1 could compete with cricket in India, Ecclestone retorted: "We have lived with cricket all over the world and are way ahead. I don't think we will have too much trouble in India. I am very satisfied with the response.  We will be having an F1 race in India, for sure. When and where it will be I cannot say."  India, with a television audience of 400 million, appears an attractive bet to host a F1 race. An added bonus is the rise of promising Indian drivers like Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandok. "It is important to get an Indian behind the wheel of an F1 car," said Vicky Chandok, who heads India's motor sports federation. Karthikeyan 25, who is placed third in the Nissan world series -- the stepping stone to F1 -- test drove with the Jaguar and Jordan-Honda teams in the last two years.  India is just the latest in a growing list of countries Ecclestone has earmarked for a future F1 race including Turkey, Russia and a return to Argentina.

7/15/03

Summer heat a real factor  As we head into the dog days of summer, race car drivers have to deal with the increased heat in the cockpit of their race cars. Christian Fittipaldi, driver of the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge in the Winston Cup Series recently compared the heat in a stock car versus an open wheel car: "It's pretty hot in these stock cars. Actually it is really hot, and the worst that I have ever experienced in a race car. The single-seat cars in open wheel never really came as close to how hot it gets in a stock car. It's not something that is ever going to affect your ability to win or not, but you can feel it. There are different things that help, but the air that gets pumped in through the helmets is the best. To keep your body as cool as possible is the goal, but there is always heat all around you. It's like anything else you just get used to it. Once you get used to it, it's something that you just don't think about."

7/15/03

Coke renews with Surfers through 2008   Coca-Cola has renewed its sponsorship of Australia's Lexmark Indy 300 CART Champ Car race for a further six years. It will see Coca-Cola Amatil become the 'official soft drink and non-alcoholic ready to drink supplier' of the event and a major sponsor until 2008. Lexmark Indy 300 general manager James Ashworth said the long-term partnership was more great news for the future of the event celebrating its 13th anniversary this year: "Coca-Cola has one of the most recognizable brand names in the world and will continue to add tremendous corporate power to the event.”

7/15/03

Wilson leaving Minardi says Stoddart   "I can assure you that Justin Wilson will be racing in F1 again next year, but not here," said Stoddart. "He has impressed a lot of people. What he has achieved this year has not gone unnoticed.  I would have liked to have kept hold of him but I understand his position. He is good enough and deserves to be racing for a team with a bigger budget than we have. That is just what will happen." Both Webber, now at Jaguar, and Alonso, at Renault, have excelled in their second seasons after leaving Minardi, and Stoddart is predicting similar success for Wilson. He is in that bracket," said the Aussie. "He is a great lad, works extremely hard and is brave beyond belief as he showed in Malaysia. That was a drive of real courage. He does not worry about things he can't control, he just does what he can with the machinery at his disposal. I cannot speak highly enough about Justin. We will be sorry to see him go."

7/15/03

Stewart confident Gibbs will re-sign him  This Indy Star article says, Amid rampant speculation that Tony Stewart might consider testing NASCAR's open market or even returning to the Indy Racing League, the reigning Winston Cup champion and team owner Joe Gibbs said this weekend they are in the process of negotiating a contract extension. Gibbs recently re-signed his other driver, 2000 Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte. Stewart's contract expires at the end of next season, which will be his fifth with Joe Gibbs Racing. The Columbus, Ind., star said the only holdup is finding time for him and Gibbs to sit down and talk. "Joe's been gone and I've been gone, but I know he re-signed Bobby already and Greg (crew chief Zipadelli) talked to me about Joe wanting to sign me soon," Stewart said. "So I'm sure it will happen pretty soon."

7/15/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Bridgestone Aim To Claw Back
Webber Peers To Silverstone Skies
Rain Clouds Hover Over Silverstone
Montoya Admits: I Need To Step Up
Alonso Casts Spell On Formula One
Ferrari Aim For British F1 Revival
Pizzonia Feeling Happier In F1
Montoya Doesn't Need A 'Kick'
Stewart Continues Mosley Assault
Sauber Look For Power-Step
DC Rejects Calls For More Racing
New McLaren Won't Race In '03
McNish Looks To The Future
Stewart Questions Government Pledge
Ralf's Always Been His Own Man
Trulli Blows Out 29 Candles
More Tire Developments On Way
Williams Charge For Constructors' Cup

7/15/03

Is it America's lazy racing?   Are American drivers inferior, or is it their "lazy" racing formulas that make them appear so.  Did you know that since F1 started in 1950, the only country that has had more drivers run in F1 is the UK, and that by the slimmest of margins.  That's right, the Brits have had 158 F1 drivers, and the USA has had 156 F1 drivers.  Third highest is Italy with 90 F1 drivers.  From 1950 to 1960 the Indy 500 was an official F1 race, so a number of American drivers are included on the list because of Indy, which of course slants the numbers high.  Only a few of these drivers including Ward (1963 US GP), Ruttman (1958 French GP) and Lloyd Ruby (1961 US GP) actually competed in a Formula 1 race.   Although the USA has had 156 drivers try F1 in one shape or form, only two (Mario Andretti and Phil Hill) have managed to become World Champion.  That's a rather pathetic statistic.  Let's hope there is some truth to the rumors that CART will become closer to F1 and the USA can actually start to train drivers to drive and win at the highest level of the sport.  At 400 pounds heavier than a F1 car, driving a Champ Car through a corner is like driving in slow motion compared to a F1 car in the same corner.  Hence the term "lazy" racing by Niki Lauda when describing American racing.

Number of F1 Drivers by nationality since 1950
British 158
American 156
Italian 90
French 64
German 50
Brazilian 26
Argentinean 24
Swiss 22
Belgian 21
South African 21
Australian 16
Japanese 16
Austrian 14
Spanish 12
Canadian 11
Dutch 11
Swedish 9
New Zealander 8
Finnish 7
Irish 5
Mexican 4
Uruguayan 4
Colombian 3
Danish 3
Monegasque 3
Portuguese 3
Venezuelan 3
Zimbabwean 2
Chilean 1
Czech 1
Liechtenstein 1
Malaysian 1
Moroccan 1
Rhodesian 1
Thai 1

7/14/03

Chicagoland TV ratings  NBC's broadcast of the Tropicana 400 Winston Cup race from Chicagoland Speedway easily outdistanced all other sports events in the overnight ratings from Nielsen Media Research, according to the Sports Business Daily. The race drew a 4.9 rating and an 11 share to finish well ahead of the 3.6/10 that Fox drew for its Major League Baseball broadcast. The race will need a bump from smaller television markets, however, if it's going to match last year's final figures of 5.3/14 or 2001's 5.6/14. Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter

7/14/03
Industry News

Forced to lower import tariffs, China plays new games  Under China's World Trade Organization commitments, tariffs on car imports will fall to 25 per cent by 2006 from 38.2 per cent currently.  This will make imported cars to China cheaper than they are today, putting pressure on domestically made Chinese car models.  To make it harder to sell imports in China, China's central government has proposed prohibiting car dealerships that sell domestically made vehicles from also carrying imported models, in a move aimed at protecting mainland producers.  The government has sent a document to major domestic car producers on the proposed regulations, an industry source said, adding that it could be enacted as soon as next month.  Analysts said the proposal would prevent global carmakers from selling imported cars - mainly top-end models not produced in China - through the sales outlets of their mainland joint ventures.  It would also increase distribution costs for imports and encourage foreign carmakers to make more higher-end models in their China factories. Foreign firms intent on exporting to China would need to make large investments to build up their own dedicated distribution networks and after-sales service centers.  Japanese and German carmakers were the largest exporters to China, analysts said. The proposed regulations stipulate that distribution outlets will only be allowed to sell either locally-made or imported cars, thereby separating sales channels into two distinct markets.

7/14/03

Walker to be guest at Columbus Town Meeting  Buckeye State race fans will get a chance to talk to one of the most veteran team owners anywhere in racing Tuesday night as Walker Racing owner Derrick Walker joins the lineup in Columbus for Tuesday’s CART Champ Car Town Meeting. Walker has owned his own team in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford since 1991 amassing four wins and 10 poles. The Columbus Town Meeting will feature a stellar lineup that will include Walker along with team owner Bobby Rahal and Toyota Atlantic driver Danica Patrick from Hilliard, Ohio-based Team Rahal. Rahal will be joining the gathering via a phone hookup as he will be unable to attend because of business commitments. 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. Fans can still register for free tickets to the Town Meeting by applying at the official website of the CART Champ Car World Series, www.champcarworldseries.com

7/14/03

Jordan to launch SMS service    The Jordan Formula One racing team is launching a SMS news service ahead of this month's British Grand Prix. Powered by Autosport.com, the service will bring fans breaking news from Jordan Grand Prix and stories surrounding the sport. Any significant events in F1, even with other teams will reach the mobile fan base across the UK and Ireland. Mike Hall-Taylor, Head of Jordan Brand Ltd, said:, "The launch of this new service demonstrates our commitment to providing new, innovative and exciting products and services for our fans and followers. "SMS or text messages is a great platform with which to deliver the latest news and keep our mobile fans up to date with the latest action both on and off the track."

7/14/03

Night race a hit with Cleveland fans  Here is a page of feedback on the Cleveland Plain Dealer website from Cleveland fans who attended this years first CART night race on Burke Lakefront airport.

7/14/03

The IRL a pipeline for Brazilian driver  This Tennessean article talks about how the IRL has become a magnet for Brazilian drivers who have pretty much overrun the series.

7/14/03

Nothing big expected at this week's CART Shareholder meeting  According to this ESPN.com article, CART boss Chris Pook isn't expecting any major developments concerning the future of the struggling series at this week's shareholder meeting. The meeting, scheduled for Thursday in Indianapolis and to be followed by a board of directors meeting, is thought to be critical in the rebuilding process for the Champ Car Series. An update on the recent decision to try to privatize the company is expected, and at least three groups -- one that includes Formula One head Bernie Ecclestone -- are rumored to be interested in bailing CART out. "It's just a regular annual meeting," Pook said at the Molson Indy race. "I expect there will be a status report by our bankers, and I expect our board of directors will want to know about the sale and we won't be able to disclose it. "The only thing I can say is 'We are continuing to find alternate financing methods.' "

7/14/03

Buckwalter surprises in karting go    Local boy Brett Buckwalter produced a shocker in a wild ICC shifter race at the Stars of Tomorrow’s Bridgestone Grand Prix of Sonoma.  Buckwalter passed Jason Bowles with two turns to go for the win. Bowles had just assumed the lead when Nick Halen and Lorenzo Mandarino tangled on the final lap, eliminating them from contention. Bowles clipped the stationary kart of Mandarino, slightly damaging his CRG/TM/MG machine, leaving him prey to Buckwalter’s attempt.  Buckwalter, who was one of the original Stars of Tomorrow finalists back in 2000, had been away from the national karting scene for a time and his timing couldn’t have been better.  “I think we had a chance to stand on the podium, but not on top of the podium,” said the 20 year old from Novato, California. “When a big race comes around on the hometown track I have to do it. I love racing and I love coming out and racing against the best in the country. We proved we can run right with them.”  “I saw Halen and Mandarino collide and it was just what I was hoping for,” said Buckwalter. That put me right behind Jason’s bumper because he went off the track a little bit getting through it. We came out of the off-camber turn and I thought ‘I have to do it here or it’s not going to happen’ and I just stuffed it in there.”  In other classes, Clark Sanchez-Figueras won his sixth consecutive Rotax Max race. Justin Moon won in 80cc Junior. James Kennedy beat Steve Cantrell in Junior Superbox and Dylan Albiani bettered Jahana Mongul in the Grand Products Cadet class.

7/14/03

Upgraded BAR for British GP    "Silverstone is a track that BAR has plenty of experience with, despite having tested there only once this year. The circuit has seen many changes over the years and, although it is not as fast as it once was, it remains a demanding circuit. Silverstone calls for relatively high levels of downforce, despite some very fast sections such as at the beginning of the lap through Copse and Becketts and the Hangar Straight and Bridge towards the end of the lap. It places a premium on aerodynamic efficiency and the car requires good crosswind sensitivity, as the exposed nature of the circuit means winds can severely affect lap times. In addition to this, we need good traction and mechanical grip through the complex at the end of the lap. "We will introduce a substantial chassis and engine upgrade for this race, featuring a number of new elements. The car will look very different, with its new bodywork and roll-hoop, whilst under the skin there have been further engine and mechanical developments. We regard this as a good step forward and we anticipate a more positive weekend than we have experienced of late. "As always, the notoriously unpredictable British weather will add a further dimension but we rose to that challenge last year and a wet weekend will certainly be to our advantage." Geoffrey Willis, BAR Technical Director

7/14/03

Latest F1 Hot News items 

Williams Display Silverstone Caution
British Racing Enjoys Cash Injection
Coulthard's Ninth McLaren Life
Mosley Adds Fuel To Silverstone Fire
New McLaren: A Failed Project?
Ralf Schumacher Wants To 'Sign For Life'
Silverstone Will Get Funding Boost
Schu: We Have To Improve - Fast
Rossi Spoilt For F1 Choice
Schu Junior Stays Very Cautious
New-Look BAR Racer For Silverstone
Button Hopes To Thrill Home Fans
Pollock Promotes Former Champion
Minardi Gets Its 'Fighting Fund'
Mosley Hints At Sunday Qualifying
Jacques Hopes For Better Future
Estonian Ace 'Keen And Competent'
McLaren Finally Show Some Pace
Minardi Take F1 Power To London
Stewart Slams F1's Big Hitters
Stoddart: I Didn't Beg Bernie
Williams Set To Unveil New Sponsor
Raikkonen Owns Up To One-Lap Errors
Schu: I Thought I Was Going To Die
Stoddart Vows: No More Public Rows

7/13/03

Bid launched to save Rio track.  Bernie to meet with Mayor  2nd UPDATE According to reports in Autosport, the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Cesar Maia, will be meeting with F1 guru Bernie Ecclestone in regard to the possible return of Formula One to the city in the future. If F1 does return to Rio, it will be after the Interlagos circuit’s contract expires next season. Ironically this is the same Mayor who kicked CART out of Rio three years ago.  We spoke to Emerson Fittipaldi about this very topic today in Toronto, could Bernie help CART get back to Rio?  He told us there was no way Bernie could help with this Mayor.  We shall see if Bernie instead makes a deal happen for F1.  This gives more credence to those who say Bernie will never buy into CART. Why would he not help CART get back to Rio instead?  It's a lot less to do a CART race than a F1 race.  Because F1 will always come first and CART will get the leftover scraps perhaps.   7/8/03 - 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.

7/13/03

Nadeau to appear at New Hampshire  Team officials are saying there is a very good chance that Jerry Nadeau will show up at New Hampshire Int’l Speedway as a spectator this coming weekend. If Nadeau does go to the racetrack a press conference, including satellite feed, would be scheduled for Friday afternoon.  Stan Creekmore

7/13/03

Notes from Chicagoland - 1) Two hours after the finish of the Tropicana 400 a smell of high octane fuel still lingered around the scorched hulk that had once been the #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet. The crumpled rear end of the car sat in a makeshift sandbox as two firefighters stood by just in case fire flared from the car once again.  2) NASCAR crash inspectors had already done their job, taking pictures and analyzing the battered hulk to determine just why the car had burned so badly.  3)  “The car was full of gas. The team had just pitted and put 22 gallons of fuel in the car and there was probably 21 gallons still in it when the crash occurred,” John Darby said.  4) “Gas doesn’t compress. So when the car backs into the wall it has to go somewhere.”  5) Despite the system working as designed NASCAR officials aren’t pleased to see fires, the likes of which burned Labonte’s car and Newman’s car at Michigan. However, that doesn’t mean the sanctioning body is likely to make changes immediately.  6)  “Gas tanks are nine inches high by 17 inches deep by 37 inches wide and they lay flat in the rear of the car. We have looked at turning the gas tank on end placing it further away from the rear end of the car,” Darby said.  Stan Creekmore

7/13/03

Tracy defends attack on Players  Paul Tracy was asked by a Canadian journalist today after winning in Toronto - There's been a lot of talk of the Player's sponsorship. From your point of view, can you see a product that kills 10 or 20 or 30 thousand Canadians a year, I know it's bad for you, but can you see why the government doesn't want this to seem glamorous?  PAUL TRACY: Well, you know, they've been involved in motorsports for 42 years. This is a product that is still a legal product all around the world. You know, to be limited by what they can do to advertise the product, I think that's wrong. If you have a product that's a legal product, you should be allowed to advertise that product.   This is a place that they have chosen to do that for 42 years. They've created a lot of jobs, they've done a lot of things for charities, done a lot of great things for this city and all across Canada. You know, it's just a shame that they can't stay in, because this is where they want to be. They don't want to be in any other type of sports or entertainment. Motor racing is what they love to do.

7/13/03

Mario, Emmo and Paul Newman going all out for Mario Andretti GP   Road America has increased the opportunity for fans to interact with CART's legends and series drivers, as well as take a lap around the legendary race track on Friday and Saturday of the race weekend, according to George Bruggenthies, president and general manager. The Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America Presented by Briggs & Stratton featuring Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will be held July 31- Aug. 3.  Fans will be able to get driver autographs on Friday, Aug. 1 and a group fan photo with Mario Andretti will be taken in the Turn 5 area that evening, which can be downloaded from the Road America website. Saturday, fans will have the opportunity to speak directly with Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Newman during the CART Fan Forum, to be held in the Road America Center near Turn 5. New this year, fans also can buy a ride of two laps around Road America on Friday and Saturday evenings for $100 in the race track's Toyota pace cars.  Much More....

7/13/03

Notes from Toronto   1) Paul Tracy’s win is the first in Canada for a Player’s-sponsored car, and the first for a Canadian driver in his home country since Tracy won in Vancouver in 2000. 2) Tracy’s 112 laps led propelled him to third on the all-time CART Champ Car list for laps led. Tracy has now paced 3,176 laps in his career, moving him ahead of Mario Andretti (3,064), Bobby Rahal (3,107) and Al Unser Jr. (3,113). He needs to lead 91 more to pass Rick Mears for second on the list.   3) Tracy’s 23rd victory of his career moved him into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time victory list. He needs one more victory to tie Bobby Rahal for fourth. His fifth career win from the pole makes him only the eighth CART driver to win as many as five races from the pole.  4) Oriol Servia’s seventh consecutive top-six finishes equals a record for the venerable Patrick Racing team, which has competed in 22 of the series’ 25 seasons. The winner of the very first CART event, Gordon Johncock strung seven straight top-six finishes together on two different occasions while driving for Patrick in the early 1980s.  5) Sebastien Bourdais widened his gap in the rookie points standings over Darren Manning with Sunday’s fourth-place run, giving him 86 points to 50 for Manning. Four rookies tallied points in Sunday’s race including Tiago Monteiro and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

7/13/03

Labonte escapes fiery crash - Bobby Labonte escaped serious injury after his car burst into flames late in the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Labonte was clipped by the sliding car of Johnny Benson as the field roared through Turn 3. Labonte's car kicked sideways and backed into the wall, apparently rupturing a fuel line. With a full load of fuel aboard, flames encompassed the No. 18 Chevrolet as it slid along the outside wall before drifting to the apron.

7/13/03

Petty won't change engine builders - Kyle Petty said Friday he had no intention of removing Mike Ege Racing Engines as the engine builder for Petty Enterprises, despite his scathing statements last week at Daytona. Two Petty cars, those driven by Shane Hmiel and Christian Fittipaldi, failed to qualify for the Pepsi 400, and Petty placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of Ege, whom Petty contracted with before the 2002 season. "No, not at all," Petty said when asked if Ege would be let go. "Mike's done a really, really good job for us. I just think as of lately, they've dropped the ball a little bit, they've become complacent in where they're at. That's easy to get."  NASCAR.com

7/13/03

Attendance up in Toronto   2nd UPDATE The Sunday attendance was announced as 73,255 to give a 3-day attendance of 167,352. The race day attendance of 73,255 is up from last year and the 2nd highest ever for this race.  Paul Tracy made of point of saying that he was really happy that a lot of fans came from the States to watch the race. Molson was a little worried a month ago. There was a big SARS thing here. The ticket sales were down significantly. I came up and did a lot of promotion for the race. The Molson people really pushed the race. Player's have been pushing the race. To have the attendance be up, because I knew the ticket sales were down up until a week ago, and the weather wasn't very good, it's great that, you know, people came out to watch the race and the attendance was up and I was able to win the race for the Canadian fans.  As one wag stated, CART is alive and well.  7/12/03 - Saturday's attendance was announced as 50,469 bringing the 2-day total to over 94,000. Except for the Indy 500, that number tops the weekend total of all IRL races and Toronto's race day, the big attendance day, is not added in yet.  7/11/03 - Friday's attendance in Toronto was announced as 43,628.  And you wonder why Roger Penske and the IRL are praying CART dies so they could get ahold of CART's three successful Canadian races.  Penske has gone public saying that the IRL must take over the CART races if CART were to die.  For now, they are on the outside looking in.

7/13/03

Honorary pit crew member for Tony Raines, Bace Motorsports - Chicagoland Speedway in support of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Joliet, Illinois, auctioned off a chance to win a working position in the pits of Tony Raines during today's running of the Tropicana 400. Ron Spangler, the lucky bidder will be given the opportunity to work miscellaneous chores in the Hot Pit. Starting with holding the pit identifier as the cars pull through the pits for a speed check. "I love racing and my kids are just simply elated that I will be in the pits today. I was so excited I had to leave home early and arrived at the track at 6:00 AM today". AutoRacing1.com has been invited to visit the pit and watch Ron in action during the race today.  Rick Schenk

7/13/03

Rojas takes first victory in Toronto   Memo Rojas of Mexico City, Mexico, took his first ever Barber Dodge Pro Series victory today on the streets of Toronto, storming into the lead at the midpoint of the race to hold on and take the win in an action packed race that saw several drivers fall victim to the concrete walls that line the 1.755-mile temporary street circuit. Barber Champ Car Scholarship racer Colin Fleming scored the second podium finish of his rookie Barber Dodge season with his second place result, with David Martinez finishing third for his fourth top-three finish of the 2003 season. Antoine Bessette took fourth after a race-long battle with Burt Frisselle, who finished fifth to take his second top-five finish of the season. Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship graduate Ward Imrie scored sixth place in just his first professional race start, ahead of Greg Long in seventh. Mike Richardson scored his first top-ten finish of the season in his return to the series with eighth place, as Leo Maia recovered from a mid-race spin to finish ninth. Maia scored one extra championship point with the fastest lap of the race, setting a new track record for the second week in a row. Luis Pelayo rounded out the top ten in his Telmex machine after starting from the thirteenth position. The result extended Maia's championship points lead after Di Leo fell to thirteenth in the final standings after making contact with the wall, as Rojas is now Maia's closest pursuer, some thirty six points behind. The battle for second in the points is now extremely close, as Rojas, Di Leo, and Martinez are now separated by just four points with three races remaining in the championship. 

FIN PS /ST PS/#/DRIVER/HOMETOWN/PTS/PURSE/LP/STATUS
1/4/15/Memo Rojas/Mexico City, Mexico/20/$13,000/28/Running
2/7/28/Colin Fleming/North Hills, Calif./16/$8,750/28/Running
3/2/47/David Martinez L./Monterrey, Mexico/15/$6,500/28/Running
4/5/16/Antoine Bessette/St. Bruno, Quebec/12/$4,500/28/Running
5/9/24/Burt Frisselle/Kihei, Hawaii/11/$2,500/28/Running
6/12/23/Ward Imrie/Winnipeg, Manitoba/10/$1,500/28/Running
7/16/88/Greg Long/Markham, Ontario, Canada/9/$1,250/28/Running
8/15/34/Mike Richardson Kelowna, B.C., Canada/8/$1,250/28/Running
9/1/6/Leonardo Maia/Oakland, Calif. /$1,250/28/Running
10/13/49/Luis Pelayo/Mexico City, Mexico/6/$1,250/24/Contact
11/8/96/Chris Green/Beaconsfield, Quebec/5/$1,000/23/Contact
12/10/33/German Quiroga/Mexico City, Mexico/4/$1,000/22/Contact
13/3/19/Dan Di Leo/Markham, Ontario, Canada/3/$1,000/18/Contact
14/14/31/Al Unser/Corrales, New Mexico/2/$1,000/12/Contact
15/11/67/Scott Poirier/Deerfield Beach, Florida/1/$1,000/6/Contact
16/6/26/Nelson Philippe Valence, France/$750/0/Contact
LENGTH OF RACE 28 Laps of 1.755 Mile
Circuit for 49.140 miles
TIME OF RACE 40 Minutes, 28.478 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED 72.846 mph
MARGIN OF VICTORY 0 Minutes .185 Seconds
LAP LEADERS Leonardo Maia - Lap 1
Dan DiLeo - Lap 2 through Lap 9
David Martinez - Lap 10 & 11 & 13
Memo Rojas - Lap 12 & Lap 14 through 28
FASTEST RACE LAP Leonardo Maia 01:11.509 (88.353 mph) Lap 20 NEW RECORD
FASTEST QUALIFIER Leonardo Maia 01:11.720 (88.093 mph)
TOTAL PAYOUT $47,500

7/13/03
Rally Cars

Rally drivers killed   Subaru Rally Team USA drivers Mark Lovell, 43 , and Roger Freeman, 52, both of England, were fatally injured Saturday during the first special stage of the Oregon Trail SCCA ProRally event. The first car away from the starting line, driver Lovell, and co-driver Freeman, left the prescribed course moments into the stage and struck a tree in their Subaru Impreza WRX. The two were pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical personnel. Details of the incident were held until the families were notified. The duo who had been rallying together for twenty years were competing in their third event together of 2003. They entered the Oregon Trail fresh from success winning the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb of June 27. The 2001 Overall Drivers Champion, Lovell is survived by his wife, Julia, and his children Oliver and Thomas. Roger Freeman is survived by his wife, Alison, and children Becky and John. A decision was made to finish Day One of the rally while information regarding the accident was gathered and after rally organizers had consulted with SCCA national staff, national safety stewards and at the request of Subaru Rally Team USA Manager and close personal friend of Lovell and Freeman, David Campion. The field then ran an abbreviated schedule of stages later in the day. The rally will continue with the completion of the final six stages on Sunday as scheduled.  SCCA

7/13/03

Reynske update kits being used   We noticed that many of the Reynard cars at Toronto were using the Reynske update modifications (front wing, brake ducts, etc.) except Jimmy Vasser's and Ryan Hunter-Reay's car. The comparison is pretty startling. The Reynske front wing is huge compared to the standard Allison or Forsythe front end. The updated Reynske wing is much higher, the winglets are completely different, and the wing protrudes out into the area in front of the tire much more ...very similar to a Lola wing.


Reynske Front Wings


Standard Forsythe Front Wings
Photos by Mark Cipolloni

With about 300 lbs front end downforce between the Lolas and the Reynards, the Reynske update kits appear to be mandatory to try and reclaim some of that downforce. We don't have any idea how much it reclaims or the downforce improvement but at about $25k a nose you can bet most of the teams are only running them because they are effective. We spoke to Stefan Johansson who told us they bought only one Reynske update kit for Vasser's car (none for Ryan Hunter-Reay's car yet) but were not using it in Toronto because it made the car pitch sensitive. Apparently it is more effective at some tracks than others.

7/13/03

UK firm to brand Bahrain race   Landor Associates in the UK has been awarded the task of branding next year's Bahrain Grand Prix. The job was won in a competitive pitch with several Bahrain-based agencies, including Lowe Contexture and Gulf Saatchi & Saatchi. Landor has an office in Dubai, but it is believed to be a London-based team that worked on the project.
Bahrain Racing has only nine months until it hosts its first Grand Prix in April. The FIA, which runs Formula One, is expected to make an official announcement about the date of the race by the month-end. Landor will have its work cut out to complete the project on schedule. Advertising and marketing briefs will not be sent out until the branding work is complete, leaving a tight time-frame for the creation of marketing materials. The contract to host Formula One races in Bahrain was signed in September 2002. Two months later, work began on the BD56.2 million ($150m) circuit sprawling over 170 hectares outside Manama. The complex will include four racing tracks, a three-story main grandstand, team buildings and an eight-story VIP tower. Completion of the circuit is planned for March 7, one month before the Grand Prix. The project is on track, according to Bahrain Racing. Landor's London office has been active in the region lately, having recently completed the rebranding of Gulf Air. It is working out of one office in the Middle East, based in Dubai, and has completed projects for Dubai Bank, Royal Jordanian Airlines, SABIC and BP-Middle East.  At least 50,000 spectators are expected to attend the event in Bahrain. Plans to develop the motor sports facility were announced on July 12 last year when Bahrain signed an agreement with race track consultancy Tilke of Germany to develop the track. The plans for the projects call for three circuits - Grand Prix, inner and outer - and a drag track. In order to finance the remainder of the capital of the project and others like it, Bahrain issued on January 21 its first international sovereign bond issue amounting to $500 million. The circuit will also host other racing events that will attract more spectators on a regular basis, giving a boost to the country's tourism industry. More hotels, restaurants, leisure facilities, roads and other supporting industries will be required to cater for the Grand Prix. To accommodate the predicted tourist influx, Bahrain airport is due to undergo an expansion of over $130 million to increase the annual capacity to 15 million passengers from six million.

7/13/03

Lots of non-racing advertising   We hear the live CBS broadcast of the Toronto race had a lot of advertising by non-racing companies on both a national and local level, which may be an indication that CART is beginning to turn the corner.

7/13/03

CART and CBS extend deal   Continuing to build on what has been a successful relationship, the CART Champ Car World Series and CBS Sports announced Sunday that they will expand their broadcast relationship for 2004. The nationwide broadcast network, which is carrying seven races this season including this weekend’s Molson Indy Toronto, announced that it would up the ante next year by agreeing to carry as many as 10 races for the 2004 campaign. Full Story

7/13/03

Stewart slams Mosley and Ecclestone   "We are having these continual threats being made by Mr Mosley and Ecclestone to remove the race and I just do not understand why they are being so vicious about Silverstone," Stewart, president of the BRDC, told the Press Association. "If they have an agenda I do not know what it is. What I do know is that it is not a fair and level playing field. "What Mr Mosley and Ecclestone have been saying about Silverstone has gone out of all proportion and reality. "Mr Mosley has been quoted as saying he can't guarantee a grand prix at Silverstone beyond 2004 but yet he is still talking about going back to Spa in Belgium and other race tracks. "Silverstone is certainly better than Sao Paulo in Brazil, better than Spa, better than Hungary, better than San Marino and the pits are still better than at Hockenheim in Germany.

7/13/03

What about Baltimore?   A reader writes, Dear AR1, I am a huge fan of both open wheel racing and sportscars, and have followed motorsports to such places as Indy, Sebring, and Le Mans as both a team member and a fan. As an avid reader of AR1, I am fully tuned into the goals for many of America's premiere road racing series. The Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. is a major market and thus far has been nearly devoid of high profile professional racing activity. The now postponed Washington D.C. Grand Prix (ALMS) was an excellent example of the sponsorship activity, attendance and economic impact that motorsports may have again on this area. As a Baltimore native and current resident, the potential for a race in Baltimore has now become obvious. Please find the attached 10-turn possible track map for downtown Baltimore that I have driven / scouted out for feasibility. This layout will touch nearly every aspect of Baltimore: the harbor, the stadiums, nearly every hotel, almost every downtown attraction and the all important business district. I have enjoyed reading your site and realize that you are in contact with the powers that be for both CART and the ALMS and may have some insight regarding a potential Mid-Atlantic race. Please let me know how you view a race in Baltimore and keep up the good work. Christian Martin, Baltimore, MD  Dear Christian, While certainly Baltimore is a worthy town and your suggested course layout looks good, we are led to believe that NY City and Washington DC are higher on CART's list of potential Mid-Atlantic races at this time. With that said, that doesn't mean the politics in NY or Washington will allow a street race to ever happen, so we'll just have to see. A race down by the harbor in Baltimore would fit Chris Pook's agenda for Monte Carlo type venues adjacent to the waterfront.  Mark C.

7/13/03

Sperafico a new face in CART   Alex Sperafico, had this to say to CART.com, “Our plan was to start in F3000 with an average team, do some good results and then move to a top team in the second year,” he says, “and maybe challenge for the championship in the second or third season. But the Minardi team had problems and stopped, and that left me in the middle of nowhere. Because of that, I did not have a good image to sell in F3000 for ‘03.” Still something of an unknown quantity, Sperafico found the only rides open in F3000 were with teams with no chances of winning or requiring mega-dollar - at least for F3000 - sponsors. Although he was also interested in exploring his options in Champ Car, by the time Sperafico turned his back on F3000 all the full season rides in CART were taken. “Champ Car racing was a good option,” says Sperafico, whose cousins Rodrigo and Ricardo followed him to F3000 this season. “A ride cost about the same as F3000 but you can offer so much more to sponsors than F3000; so much more exposure. And even with a small team you have the chance to have good results, plus you get much more track time than in F3000 and so your learning curve is much better.” Still, Sperafico found his Champ Car options limited until the chance to sub for Salles materialized. The deal calls for the two races at Toronto and Miami, along with a half dozen test days - just the thing for a driver looking to sample the Champ Car waters in ‘03 and still retain his rookie status for a run at the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year Award in ‘04.

7/13/03

Mosley says Silverstone worst European F1 circuit   "It's too early to say. All I can say is the problem is solvable. What I can't say is whether it will be solved.  Silverstone was fairly well down the list of circuits worldwide and probably at the bottom of the list in Europe," said FIA president Mosley, speaking on BBC Radio Five Live. That is absolutely wrong for the leading motorsport country in the world. As the people who rent the circuit are paying enough money to allow the investment to do the work, it should be done. The government, and to some extent Silverstone, have solved the problem of the roads. Now they've got to sort the circuit out and then we'll have a facility of which we can be proud."

7/13/03

Sunny in Toronto   After two days of intermittent rain showers and dark clouds, Sunday morning has dawned bright and sunny with temperatures heading toward 72 degrees F.  A big crowd is expected to be on hand to see Canadian star Paul Tracy start from pole position.  Can he give Players a win in their final Toronto race?  Mark C.

7/13/03

Some concern about new CART owners   While everyone appears happy with CART's new rumored owners led by Bernie Ecclestone (we stress rumored at this point), one team owner expressed a small concern that other team owners are involved with the deal.  "That's exactly what we had before and we all know that led to favoritism and conflicted business deals," quipped one team member.  While it may be true that team owners will be involved, it's expected that 1) Bernie will really call all the shots, 2) the owners will allow the new President to rule with an iron fist.  Bernie won't allow the owners to create the continual bickering we see in F1.  Mark C.

7/13/03

Feedback on What Did Roger Penske Mean? article   UPDATE Another reader writes, I seriously believe the only reason Roger is spewing his IRL propaganda again, is from pressure from both Toyota and possibly Marlboro. The IRL is floundering with miserable TV ratings and and the realization that 30 car fields are never going to come to fruition in the IRL (as long as CART is around).  I just have to wonder why do they (IRL) worry so much about what we're (CART) doing? Why don't they just go about their own business and move on? We have! If they spent more time working on their own series and worrying less about CART maybe they could actually build a series. I'm glad CART doesn't even give recognition to these baseless comments coming from the other side. Roger is realizing his move was a wrong one, but isn't man, or businessman enough to admit it. Move on Roger and stop worrying what CART is doing. We have forgotten you and your NOT welcome back here. In my opinion, of course.  James Shaw   Dear James, You must remember that Roger sat on the ISC board when he left CART for the IRL. ISC is in the oval track business, as is the IRL.  While we can't prove it, it appears to us that the France family urged Penske to support a series that has the same business goals as they do - oval track stadium style racing, and that's the IRL, not CART.  It's simply business.  If moving to the IRL and getting others to follow hurts a road racing centric business like CART, and helps a business that races at ISC oval tracks like the IRL, what do you think an ISC board member would do?  That is right - throw all your support behind Tony George and the IRL.  Interestingly, since then, Penske has resigned from the ISC Board and he may no longer be under the same pressure he was.  Recall the rumor that Marlboro was getting itchy feet in the IRL and they may be gone sooner rather than later.  Who knows?  But don't count Penske out of CART forever.  Roger will go where Roger and/or his sponsors want to go. So while Roger still thinks CART will die and is making statements along those lines to the media, deep in his heart he has to know that if Bernie buys into CART, he's going to lose what credibility he has left if he continues with those statements.  If Bernie indeed buys into CART, we suspect more than one team, sponsor and driver will be clamoring to get back into CART.  The question will be whether they are met with open arms, or the door gets slammed shut in their face. Although we doubt a Chris Pook run CART would ever greet Roger back with open arms, the same may not be said for a David Clare run series we suspect. The CART and IRL battle is just that, a battle.  The real war has yet to be fought, The War of the Worlds, written by yours truly. Anyone who doubts the oval track cartel isn't going international, simply has their blinders on.  Japanese drivers and manufacturers in NASCAR?  Brazilian drivers? Who would have ever thought that a few years ago.  They are priming the pump and the road racing cartel had better watch their backs.  This is why I have always thought that Bernie would indeed buy CART - to support a road racing centric series and prevent the oval track cartel from gaining a further foothold in their market.  Bernie will need another strong road racing series like CART to leverage his considerable power around the world ( a rather big place) when and where needed to protect, fend off, and attack the enemy.  Mark C.  7/12/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, With regard to Mark Cipolloni's article on What did Roger Penske mean? Excellent interview ! Some thoughts : ( I am a financial type and an open wheel racing fan of many years). 1) There are not many deals that Penske cannot put together if he so desires, 2) He probably could buy out the George Family and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and their various financial interests with or without their approval or cooperation, 3) Roger is a gentleman and auto racing is his hobby, 4) I have to believe that whatever action, if any, he may take in regard to open wheel racing, will be in the best interest of the sport, 5) I sincerely doubt he would be party to any of Tony George's vindictive financial maneuvers.  Business is Roger's game; auto racing is his hobby, 6) I have to believe whoever buys CART will be in the hobby mode much like many owners in the NFL, NBA or many other professional sports franchises; however he will certainly move to build the value of the franchise as in most new financial endeavors, grow or die!  Richard Bowden, Fountain Valley, CA 

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