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DATE

News (chronologically)

7/31/03

Date for IRL race at Milwaukee Mile to be announced  On August 6th IRL officials and Milwaukee Mile officials will announce the date for the IRL's first race at the historic 1-mile oval track.  As reported previously, the race will take place in late July but will not be under the lights because CART's contract with the track precludes that.

7/31/03

ALMS TV ratings  UPDATE  The final ALMS TV rating dropped down to a 0.6 on NBC.  7/29/03 - The American LeMans Series race from Infineon Raceway on NBC turned in a 0.9 overnight rating on Saturday according to the Sports Business Daily.  The Busch Series race from Pikes Peak garnered a 1.7 overnight rating on NBC on Saturday, according to Nielsen Media Research.

7/31/03

Pocono TV rating #1 on cable   UPDATE The 4.6 final rating for the Pocono 500 earned it the top spot in the basic cable ratings last week, drawing 3,966,000 households and over 6 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.  7/30/03 - Last Sunday’s Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway earned a 4.6 rating on TNT and was the top program for the month among adults in the 25-54 age groups, according to Nielsen Media Research. The race was also the highest-rated sports event on cable. Last year's race garnered a 5.0 rating, meaning that this year's race saw an 8% decline.

7/31/03

Ford unveils new NASCAR vehicles   Fans at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis were treated to a "first" today as Ford Racing unveiled a freshened exterior Taurus and all-new F-150 pickup truck that will be competing next season in the NASCAR Nextel Cup and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, respectively.  Cisco Codina, Vice President, Ford Customer Service Division, and Dan Davis, director, Ford Racing Technology, unveiled the vehicles today as part of the annual Ford Racing Fan Appreciation Day. Numerous Ford Racing drivers from the NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch Series, and Craftsman Truck series assisted in the presentation.  This marks the second time that Taurus has received a styling and design change to its nose and tail sections since becoming the first four-door entry in NASCAR's top division in 1998. The F-150 is also undergoing its second facelift, but it's the truck's first since 1996. The new styling on the race vehicles reflects the styling changes that will appear on the production 2004 Taurus and 2004 F-150 that will be on sale this fall.  "We're extremely happy with the way the Taurus and F-150 came out and it's a credit to our Ford engineers who worked on them and the Ford racing teams who built them," said Ford Racing Operations Manager Greg Specht. "They really hit a home run because, from the time both vehicles went from the drawing stage to the final wind tunnel tests, we had no problems. The processes for both vehicles really mirrored each other and we think they're both going to be extremely competitive next season."  Taurus replaced Thunderbird as Ford's NASCAR Winston Cup flagship model in 1998, and in five-plus seasons has won 73 races, one driver's championship and three manufacturer's titles. The F-150s introduction to racing coincided with the debut of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, posting 61 wins, one driver's championship and two manufacturer's titles along the way.  Although being shown for the first time today, the Taurus and F-150 race vehicles won't make their competition debut until February 2004, at the start of Daytona Speedweeks.  "The work we did with NASCAR went extremely well," said Specht. "Having been through this process a couple of times before, we've really gotten it down to a science. We were able to deliver the car a month ahead of schedule and there were no surprises on NASCAR's part or on our part, so we're very satisfied.   Hopefully, the car will gain quick final approval so we can put the parts in the hands of our teams and avoid them having to scramble around during the Christmas holiday. Ideally, we'd like them to be able to get started building cars for Daytona and the rest of the season by early fall."

7/31/03

Thursday Press Conference from Germany This Thursday's FIA press conference was held with the following drivers :

Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)
Juan-Pablo Montoya (Williams)
Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren)
Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
Ralf Schumacher (Williams)

7/31/03

IRL MIS TV rating tanks   UPDATE The final TV rating for the Firestone Indy 400 IRL race at MIS was a 1.0/3 share.  This is down 16.7% from the previous year's 1.2 rating. As can be seen from the list below, this continues the downward spiral in IRL TV ratings.  It was beaten by the NASCAR Busch series race from Pikes Peak on NBC that garnered a 1.7/5 share final rating. Such is the state of open wheel racing in the USA as a result of the split. This despite getting all the star players from CART.  7/29/03 - The IRL race from Michigan on ABC garnered a 1.2 overnight rating, according to Nielsen Media Research (Sports Business Daily). Last year's race finished with a 1.2 final rating.  MotorsportsTV.com

IRL TV Ratings Trend

2002:
Homestead (ABC) 1.5
Phoenix (ABC) 1.2
California (ESPN) 0.5
Nazareth (ABC) 1.3
Indy (ABC) 4.8
Texas (ESPN) 0.6
Pike's Peak (ABC) 1.0
Richmond (ESPN) 0.6
Kansas (ABC) 1.3
Nashville (ESPN2) 0.5
Michigan (ABC) 1.2
Kentucky (ABC) 0.9
Gateway (ESPN) 0.8
Chicagoland (ABC) 1.1
Texas (ABC) 0.9
2003:
Homestead (ABC) 1.8  (Up 20%)
Phoenix (ABC) 0.9  (Down 25%)
Japan (ABC) 0.9 (First Time Event, but down from a 1.0 for CART on ABC in 2001)
Indy (ABC) 4.6  (Down 4.1%)
Texas (ESPN) 0.4 (Down 33%)
Pike's Peak (ABC) 0.7 (Down 30%)

Richmond (ESPN) 0.48 (Down 20%)

Kansas (ABC) 1.2 (Down 7.7%)

Nashville (ESPN2) 0.3 (Down 40%)

Michigan (ABC) 1.0 (Down 16.7%)

7/31/03

Gordon to try for record tying 4th Indy win   With a win in his 350th NASCAR Winston Cup start, Gordon would become only the fourth driver to notch four victories in Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 93-year history. Al Unser, Sr., Rick Mears and A.J. Foyt each won the Indianapolis 500 four times. Gordon, the only three-time Brickyard 400 winner, grew up in the shadows of The Brickyard in nearby Pittsboro dreaming of racing on the 2.5-mile track. As with many kids who grew up in the area, he knows all about the tradition of the famed speedway. He also knows what the number 'four' represents in speedway lore. "A.J. was the only four-time winner when I first understood the magnitude of winning here," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. "Every May, we all wondered if anyone would ever match that feat. It was great seeing Al Unser, Sr., and Rick Mears tie the mark, especially Rick since I was a huge fan of his and was lucky enough to get his autograph. It seemed like we drove by the speedway every other day when I was growing up. It's just a great racing facility with so much history and tradition. Just to win here once is very special. I'm excited that we have a chance to win a fourth Brickyard 400 and tie those guys, but I really don't think you can put us in the same category if we win. It's difficult to compare the two series and I think you need to keep their impressive accomplishment separate."

7/31/03

Pressley to drive #4 at Indy   Robert Pressley will drive the No. 4 Kodak Pontiac this weekend at Indianapolis. Pressley is a former Winston Cup driver who has been competing in the truck series the last two years.

7/31/03
Industry News

SAFER Barrier to be used in Houston  The 1.3-mile Houston Superspeedway, under construction on the outskirts of Houston, Texas, and due to open in 2005, will be the first track to have the SAFER barrier incorporated into the original design.

7/31/03

Plenty of off-track action for Mid-Ohio CART weekend  Plenty of off-track action adds to the weekend, beginning in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, August 7 with the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Fan Fest. Taking place at Promowest Pavilion in the downtown Arena District beginning at 5:00 p.m., the pre-race party will be the last chance to purchase advance tickets at reduced prices for the weekend’s race. Spectators will be able to interact with Champ Car stars Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier, Michel Jourdain, and Oriol Servia, among others. On Friday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the popular Champ Car Fan Forum returns at 4:50 p.m. in the Honda Pavilion. The Fan Forum is an open forum providing an opportunity for fans to ask questions of key players in the Champ Car series. Champ Car owner Derrick Walker, SPEED and CBS pit reporter Calvin Fish and CART Vice President of Joint Venture Operations Rena Shanaman headline the forum. Also on Friday “A Taste of CART” will take place. This charity event places Champ Cars chefs in a cooking competition for all to enjoy. The Champ Car drivers will make themselves available to the public for a formal autograph session from 4:45-5:45 p.m. on Saturday, August 9 near the Pace Car Paddock. Once the track goes cold on Saturday, fans are invited to attend Z-98 “Rock Stock” at the old Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, setting of the movie “Shawshank Redemption.” National recording artist Karma has the show’s top billing.

7/31/03

Renault extends agreement with Veritas software  The Renault F1 Team is pleased to announce the extension of its partnership with VERITAS Software (NASDAQ: VRTS), the leading storage software provider. The two companies have been in partnership for over 6 years. Under the new agreement, VERITAS disaster recovery solutions will be deployed not only at the team's headquarters in Enstone, UK where the racing car chassis are developed but also at Viry-Châtillon, France, where the engine development takes place. Graeme Hackland, IT Manager at Renault F1 Team explains: “In Formula 1 the difference between winning and losing is a mere fraction of a second. We needed a solution that would protect our data right from producing over 10,000 drawings when designing the car, through to the live-feed of data generated during a race. In years gone by, data collected from the car during a race would fill up a floppy disk; now this data fills a DVD. Our data is our competitive advantage, and that is why we chose VERITAS Software to provide a comprehensive disaster recovery solution that is the backbone of our infrastructure.”

7/31/03

Pocono 2004 dates set   The 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup schedule has yet to be released, but the two races at Pocono International Raceway will be on June 13th and August 1st, indicating that the Brickyard 400 will no longer be on the first Sunday in August.

7/31/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items  

Coulthard To Stay For Another Year
Schu Prepared For Tough Home Race
Coulthard Already Asked To Move Over?
Spa Moves Closer To F1 Return
Barrichello Aims For Back-To-Back Win
McLaren To Retain Drivers, Says Haug
Jordan Impressed By China's F1 Track
Hockenheim 'On Alert' For Track Invasion
DC Backs 'Iceman' For World Title
Ralf's Future Decided At Hockenheim
Webber Aims To Blow Wilson Away
Villeneuve: I'm Not Too Expensive
Punches Hurt, Rumors Don't: Coulthard
McLaren Won't Stand In Wurz's Way

7/31/03

NASCAR readies its international assault   We here at AR1 have predicted that NASCAR is preparing for an international assault at some point, and eventually there would be a War of the Worlds.  They have been slowly adding foreign drivers to what was once an American Caucasian sport.  Here's another foreign addition - Alex Mueller is poised to become the first German driver to compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Mueller, 24, from Rees, Germany will drive the No. 23 RECARO Chevrolet Silverado at Indianapolis Raceway Park. "Though this will be my first NASCAR event, I've followed it on Eurosport TV since I was 14," said Mueller, who has tested with the Williams team in Formula One. "Jeff Gordon became my favorite driver to watch each week. As my career expanded in Formula One cars, I still wanted to give NASCAR a try. I'm glad I've been given this opportunity to run in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series." Mueller will be sponsored by a host of his loyal sponsors, including RECARO, a world leading manufacturer of specialty automotive seats with its North American production facility in Auburn Hills, Mich. RECARO was the production seat on the 1998 General Motors Lumina police vehicles and continues its success in sales and distribution programs with Freightliner, Peterbilt and Kenworth for drivers of medium and heavy-duty trucks. RECARO currently holds 60 percent of the United States commercial bus market. Mueller's other sponsors are Bruderer, Turboservice.net and Energie Jeans. Mueller (pronounced Mu-l-er) has been preparing for his debut, running at Hickory Motor Speedway and Caraway Speedway the last two months in their late model truck divisions. Mueller's racing background began at age eight when he raced go-karts in Germany. He earned two karting championships in 1994 and competed in the International Formula 3000 Series in 1998 and 2002. "When I raced at Hickory, it was the first time I drove a race car with a roof over my head," said Mueller, who passed his IRL IndyCar Series driver's test at California Speedway in January. "You can see better in the truck because you sit higher but I had to get used to not seeing my tires and knowing where they were compared to the wall."

7/31/03

Feedback on Making sense of CART situation article   With regard to the Making sense of CART's situation article, A reader writes, Dear Mark, Yes, you are making sense! Point 1, my CART contacts tell me there has been a very positive attitude and 'lots of smiles' by the CART people, with the conclusion they know this is working out for the best. Point 2, you are right, and Bernie and Chris Pook would not cross each other.  Point 3, CART management must make forthright and candid statements now they have involved a financial firm to sell the company. To paint an unrealistic picture to keep the stock up would be a violation of the law. I see what they are doing as complying with the law. Point 4. No one can possibly be duped as you point out. Point 5. Yes, you have it nailed. Point 6. The team owners that stayed, Newman/Haas, Patrick, Coyne, deserve congratulations. When the IPO took place each of the franchise shares (many teams had two franchises) were paid $4 million for each franchise. There should have been a ten year payout to keep the teams tied to the series. This is worth suing over as many team owners took the money and ran instead of reinvesting it in the series. The teams that bad-mouthed the series and left for the IRL are also in a tenuous position. Point 7. The CART people have to ignore the rumors. They cannot legally get entangled and cannot divulge confidential plans. The fact they are renewing venues and making forward commitments speaks for itself. I personally know one new team that is getting ready to join the series, maybe even for the last few races this season if possible, but for sure in 2004. CART has been very helpful working with them. CART has excellent people, sponsors, team owners and drivers...they deserve the success that will come to them soon! Paul Jasper Another reader writes, Dear Mark, That was a hell of an article. The lawsuit which I assume is from Vannini could not come at a worse time however your excellent article makes a wonderful point regarding someone not being aware of CART's directions seems ludicrous. Given your earlier item, I guess you've been getting shelled and that's a shame, AR1 is THE only web site I trust, period. Adam Friedman  Another reader  writes, There have been many rumors about CART. Will they survive to next year? What will be the format for the cars if they do? Who will take ownership of the series? And many more. Here is my 2 cents.   1. Will CART survive? I certainly hope so.   2. Who will take ownership of the series? I am not sure who will. As long as a similar format for the team/drivers/races is kept I will be happy.   3. What will be the format of the cars? As long as it does not become a spec series I would be happy.   I will need to break this into 3 parts. Engine - I hope the series stays with a V-8 format. Whether  turbo or not would not matter as long as there are 3 or more different manufacturers. I am happy with the performance and reliability of the Fords but their marketing sucks. I have seen absolutely no advertising whatsoever. They could have really used CART to their advantage. They could have badged the cars Ford, Jaguar, Volvo, etc. and had a intercompany rivalry. 60% of the fans would not have realized that they were all part of the same company. Chassis - They are doing great. Keep it the way it is. Tires - Another tire manufacturer would be great (I would like to see Yokohama step up to the plate.)  This is a great series. The tracks are great (keep the road/city/oval format), the owners/drivers/personnel that I have met have always been very nice and cordial. If it were to die I would probably switch to endurance racing or just stop watching. The Eco-Challenge would then be the greatest series to watch. Peter Swanson 

7/30/03

Did you know?   Did you know that this weekend's Mario Andretti GP at Road America is going head-to-head with the nearby Oshkosh 2003 air show?  How smart was it to schedule this race on the same weekend as the air show in the first place?  Next year the air show is again the same weekend.

7/30/03

MBNA signs with Dover through 2006   MBNA will once again be the title sponsor of this September's NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch North Series races at Dover International Speedway, thus re-establishing the Wilmington, Delaware-based credit card bank as title sponsor of the two biggest NASCAR race weekends in the mid-Atlantic states region. The September 21 Winston Cup race will be the MBNA America 400, while the September 19 Busch North Series race will be the MBNA America 150. The agreement between MBNA and Dover International Speedway positions MBNA as title sponsor for the September NASCAR Nextel Cup races at Dover through 2006. MBNA already serves as title sponsor for the June Nextel Cup, Busch Series, and Craftsman Truck Series races through 2005.

7/30/03

Open Wheel converts head back to Brickyard   Five of the 50 drivers entered at the Brickyard 400 have direct ties to the open-wheel racing world. Among them, Robby Gordon (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet) was the first to convert to stock car racing. Gordon – a two-time CART winner who was an owner/driver in 1999 – is also a nine-time Indy 500 starter. Reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart won IRL Rookie of the Year honors in 1996 and won the title in 1997. Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates Larry Foyt (No. 14 Harrah’s Dodge) and Casey Mears (No. 41 Target Dodge) both have strong open-wheel roots. Foyt – whose father, A.J. Foyt, was a four-time Indy 500 winner – competed in USAC Formula 2000 events in 1997-98 before turning to stock cars. Mears – nephew of four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears – competed in Indy Lights and had five starts in CART (2000-01) before joining the NASCAR Busch Series in 2002. The latest defection from the open-wheel ranks was Christian Fittipaldi (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge), a two-time winner in eight seasons in CART. Fittipaldi – whose uncle Emerson won championships in both Formula One and CART – also competed in F-1 from 1992-94.

7/30/03

NASCAR mandates additional fire extinguisher   NASCAR officials announced today that all vehicles in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will require an additional fire-extinguishing cylinder solely dedicated to the fuel cell area, effective Aug. 13 but recommended immediately.  More....

7/30/03
FranAm

FranAm winter series to return in 2004   Fran Am Sport is pleased to announce that the Fran Am/Formula Renault Winter World Series will return to Florida in 2004… again concluding at the CART ChampCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on February 22, 2004. Fran Am and Formula Renault cars from around the world are invited to participate. The competitors are amongst the world's best up and coming race car drivers who will soon be the next Formula 1 and CART Series' drivers. The Winter World Series is a collection of 5 races run in January and February featuring a $100,000 cash purse. Sebring and Homestead were the sites for rounds 1-4 in 2003. The venues for 2004 will be announced at a later date. The inaugural Winter World Series in 2003 saw 36 drivers from 13 countries contesting for the top prize. In 2004, additional cars from Europe and more drivers from around the world are expected to compete.

7/30/03

NASCAR TV to anchor SPEED Channel programming   Book-ended by Inside Winston Cup on Monday and Trackside on Friday, NASCAR TV will now anchor SPEED Channel’s new prime time programming lineup, which debuts Aug. 4, 2003. The announcement was made jointly by SPEED Channel President, Jim Liberatore and Paul Brooks, vice president of broadcasting, NASCAR. As part of the new programming schedule, NASCAR TV – including Inside Winston Cup, Trackside, NASCAR Performance, NASCAR Past Champions, Totally NASCAR, Inside NBS, NASCAR Fast Forward and, Men Behind the Wrenches, as well as live coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and live qualifying coverage from the NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Busch Series – will air 6–8 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday, most the viewing day on Friday, and continue to serve as the major component of SPEED’s Monday through Thursday daytime lineup. “We have refined the NASCAR TV schedule to make it easier for viewers to tune-in,” said Liberatore. “The NASCAR audience is far and away our largest group of viewers and this new schedule for NASCAR TV will make it easier for us to promote this unique ‘channel within a channel’ and easier for NASCAR fans to follow.” “We are excited about the new schedule for NASCAR TV as it creates further destination programming for our fans,” added Brooks. “NASCAR TV, the heart and soul of SPEED Channel, offers a variety of entertaining and unique original programming as well as our thrilling live race coverage creating added exposure opportunities for our drivers, teams, tracks and sponsors.” In 2003, SPEED Channel is the exclusive U.S. cable home for many of the top motorsports series in the world, including Formula One, The Champ Car World Series, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, USAC, World Rally, ASA, IHRA, ALMS, Grand American Road Racing, F3000 and live coverage of AMA and FIM motorcycle road racing events. Now available in more the 62 million homes in North America, SPEED Channel is the fastest growing sports cable network in the country and the home to NASCAR TV

7/30/03

Kangaroo TV a big hit with fans   Fans of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford who have tried the unique handheld viewing device Kangaroo have seen the future of trackside spectating, and are demanding more. Named the series’ “Official Interactive Viewing System” earlier this season, the new wireless interactive entertainment medium made its debut at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and offered race fans access to a broad range of video and audio material, unavailable before, as well as live, real-time content. Following a successful first run in Southern California, the Kangaroo has been in high demand at Champ Car races this season, and in order to facilitate trackside distribution of the device and to insure that enough inventory is available to fans, World Audio Visual Entertainment Systems (W.A.V.E.S.) is introducing an on-line pre-rental service on its Kangaroo.tv website.  The service is designed to speed-up trackside distribution and guarantees the availability of the product to registered fans. This online option will enable fans to benefit from a 10% discount off the trackside rental price for any Kangaroo package. More details on this service are available by logging onto www.kangaroo.tv/interface and then selecting “Rental.” Because of the unique nature of the high definition broadcast television setup provided by HD Net at Road America this weekend the Kangaroo.tv service will not be available, but will be available at all remaining Champ Car events this season.
However, fans keeping their ticket from Road America will get a 50% discount on any Kangaroo rental at one of the remaining events on the Champ Car schedule. This weekend’s Mario Andretti Grand Prix At Road America Presented by Briggs & Stratton will be the biggest high definition television project in motorsports history. For an extensive list of HDNet establishments with locations and airings, please visit www.cart.com. For more information contact CART Public Relations at (317) 715-4100 or W.A.V.E.S. Vice President of Corporate Development Alain Charette at acharette@kangaroo.tv

7/30/03
Superbikes

Superbike champion Hislop dies in crash   British superbike champion Steve Hislop has been killed in a helicopter crash in southern Scotland, according to media reports.  Police confirmed that one person was killed in a helicopter crash near the town of Hawick, 30 miles south of Edinburgh, but declined to name the victim until relatives had been informed.   A spokesman for Scotland's Lothian and Borders police said the wreckage of the helicopter was found by a farmer on a hillside at Teviothead, close to Hawick, in the afternoon.  "There was only one person on board," the spokesman said. "Although the debris was found in the afternoon the accident could have happened earlier in the day."  Hislop, who was born in Hawick, is the reigning British superbike champion and was also a champion in 1995. He was struggling in eighth position in this year's championship and was axed by his Virgin Yamaha team earlier this month.  The 41-year-old, who has won 11 races at the Isle of Man TT and was British 250cc champion in 1990, moved from Ducati to Yamaha after winning last year's title. Reuters

7/30/03

No IRL at Las Vegas in 2004   Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League officials announced Wednesday that Las Vegas will not be on the 2004 Indy Racing League schedule. "We’ve been talking regularly with our friends at the Indy Racing League,” said Chris Powell, LVMS general manager. “We simply were unable to find a suitable arrangement for both us and the IRL. We were attempting to fit an event within the framework of our own schedule, the IRL’s schedule and the proposed dates. We then agreed it would be best to look beyond 2004. (IRL President) Tony George has expressed his interest in returning to Las Vegas.  The Indy Racing League is one of the most exciting and fastest-growing forms of motorsports in the world. We are appreciative of the efforts of the IRL and its representatives, and we’re looking forward to continuing our dialogue with the IRL in hopes of bringing the series back to Las Vegas in the future.”

7/30/03

Champ Cars on display at RCA Dome Thursday   The blue oval marque has a longstanding reputation as a global force in motorsports dating back to Henry Ford’s first open wheel racer Sweepstakes, and this tradition of Ford Racing excellence will be celebrated Thursday in Indianapolis at the RCA Dome with a Fan Appreciation Night sponsored by Your Local Indiana Ford Dealers.  The Ford Racing Fan Appreciation Night will be held from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the RCA Dome as part of a lead-up to this weekend’s NASCAR race. In addition to a full display of Ford stock cars, four CART Champ Car show cars will be on display including the 750hp machines of CART points leader Paul Tracy (#3 Player’s/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Player's/Forsythe Racing, Alex Tagliani (#33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Rocketsports Racing, Roberto Moreno (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Herdez Competition and 1996 CART Champion Jimmy Vasser (#12 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) of American Spirit Team Johansson. The Champ Car presence will also include a 2003 specially prepared Ford F150 in full race detail used by the Simple Green Champ Car Safety Team in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Tickets are free of charge and available at Your Local Indiana Ford Dealers.

7/30/03

Belgian government backs down to save Spa  Parliament voted to ease a ban on tobacco advertising in an attempt to get the Belgian Grand Prix back on the Formula One calendar next year. The Chamber of Deputies approved the bill 103-32, with two abstentions, a day after it passed the Senate. It becomes law after it is signed by King Albert II, a formality. The race was dropped from the 2004 schedule by the sport's world governing body after the Belgian government said it would introduce the advertising ban in August, three years before a European Union ban takes effect. But the biggest advocates of the ban, the Greens, were dropped from the governing coalition after faring poorly in last month's elections, clearing the way for a new vote. The race has been an economic boon for the French-speaking eastern region around Spa-Francorchamps track for more than five decades.  AP Story

7/30/03

Scott Maxwell to drive #43 for Petty   One of the world’s top sports car drivers will be behind the wheel of the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge at Watkins Glen, N.Y. next week. Scott Maxwell, 39, will drive the car in place of Christian Fittipaldi, who will wheel the #44 New York Yankees Dodge in the Watkins Glen event. Maxwell, a native of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, won this year’s Rolex 24-hour race at Daytona Beach, Fla., in the Daytona Prototype class in February, picking up the trophy in one of the most important road course races in the world. “I met Scott at the 24-hour race at Daytona and through the relationship we have with Multimatic Motorsports,” said Kyle Petty, CEO of Petty Enterprises. “I was impressed with Scott, and we were looking to better our road course program. We asked Scott to help us out and we then tested at Virginia (International Raceway). He did a good job in testing, and he’ll do a good job for us at Watkins Glen.” Maxwell may be a stranger to NASCAR Winston Cup racing, but is no stranger to victory lane at the world’s top road courses in all types of sports cars. Maxwell, who has over 10 years of road racing experience, has competed and won at Daytona, LeMans, and is the 2002 Grand Am Cup series champion driving a Porsche Supercup. He has over 10 professional sports car victories to his credit since 1998 and holds track records at some of the most challenging road courses in North America. In fact, Maxwell is very familiar with the record books at Watkins Glen. He set the track record in the Motorola Cup North American Street Stock Championship series in 1999. Maxwell currently works for Multimatic Motorsports, and drives in the Grand Am Series and the American LeMans Series. “I’m thrilled, excited, and very anxious to get to Watkins Glen,” said Maxwell. “I’ve never even attended a NASCAR Winston Cup race before, but to actually be competing in one is really exciting. We tested with the car at the Virginia International Raceway and the test went well. I know how the car works, and now I just have to see how it handles at Watkins Glen. I want to keep everything in perspective at Watkins Glen and do the best I can for Kyle, the team, and General Mills.”

7/30/03

A reader wants AR1 to come clean   A reader writes, First let me preface my comments by saying that I am an AR1 subscriber and enjoy reading AR1 everyday. With that said, I am also a member of the CART family and it is very discouraging to read every piece of IRL crap that gets floated out in cyber land everyday. Your own information and rumor page is so contradictory that no one has a clue. How tough is this on all of the team guys, their families, sponsors, promoters, etc. to read crap everyday that CART is dead and done and that the IRL is poised to cherry-pick many of CART's crown jewels? We have just finished several hugely successful events with tremendous attendance and energy. Were you not in Toronto and Vancouver? There are a lot of unanswered questions and CART needs damage control to counter the claims. We need a page from the Whitehouse playbook on media spin control, or better yet, let's call in Bill O'Reilly from the No Spin Zone. This has been so typical.  CART starts turning the corner and starts gaining forward momentum, and BAM!!. We get hit with a huge dose of negative press predicting CART's death. This happened to us last year and by Australia we were dead and done. If you have solid info, print it! If not, why propagate the IRL's assault on CART? It almost appears you are hedging your bet and posturing to be in good graces with the IRL if CART does go down. There will be no winners in the demise of CART.  It will create a large number of fans who will just walk away and say enough is enough.  If the IRL succeeds, they have done nothing but create a new CART. Look at any sports page right now.  There are sports franchises from baseball to hockey that are in serious trouble.  Many sports have a serious image problem and are losing fans by the droves.  The stick and ball sports have been "punkified" and I have a theory that this is helping to fuel NASCAR's growth. CART is not alone in the turbulent waters of the sports world. It is my hope that we will have a clear plan for the future soon. Many of us that work in CART would like to know where we are going and how we will get there. If it is to celebrate or to mourn, we like many just want this thing to move on.  With that said, here is to the future of Champ Car:, may the track stay green, the racing wheel to wheel, and let the champagne flow in winners circle!! PS.  I hope this makes it to your news section. William Kinsey, Kingman, Arizona  Dear William, Let me assure you that we share your pain. However, it is the boss of CART, Chris Pook, who has brought on all the recent negative press being aimed at CART with the very negative financial guidance press releases (two in several weeks, which is unheard of) without any plan or assurances about CART's future. As we understand it, the shareholder lawsuit that will be filed this week will claim that certain indivduals took actions to drive CART's image and stock value down to almost nothing so it can be purchased dirt cheap. That is not our doing or our claims, but others, as you will learn once the lawsuit is filed (we are told by Friday). While we were told by some very key people in the CART paddock that Bernie was part of the deal to take CART private and it would happen soon, we also hear from our F1 connections and other CART paddock connections that he isn't. It's hard for us to know the truth, especially when reports come out from places like sportsbusiness.com today that say Bernie is not out to buy or help CART, but instead is waiting for it to die so he can get Long Beach back. Again, we did not tell sportsbusiness.com what to write - they are UK based and are talking to people in Bernie's close F1 circle of friends. You may be correct that all the negative PR is coming out of the IRL camp, but because Chris Pook or David Clare won't talk to any of the media about what is really coming down and tell us the truth, or to defend CART against the barrage of negative PR, we are stuck with bits and pieces of information from various sources, some of which is probably misinformation from people who have an agenda. Many people like you are hoping that the August 7th date for a big CART announcement is real.  We stuck our neck out by publishing that date, but we felt it was newsworthy (or shall we say rumor-worthy) because we checked with our source twice to verify what they heard.  Will it change, or is it real?   While we can't be certain, we did promise to update our readers should we learn more.  Unfortunately, if nothing happens on the 7th, everyone will be out to shoot the messenger (us), but more importantly, the people who make a living in CART, like yourself, will experience a major letdown, and for that you have our sympathy.  We, like you, hope this time more than ever, our sources are correct. If an announcement about CART's future doesn't happen soon, I'm afraid it will be too late because teams trying to nail down sponsorship for 2004 will have lost their window of opportunity.   Stay tuned....  Mark C.

7/30/03

A tribute celebration to Mario Andretti   How do you thank someone who changes history? That is exactly what the community of Elkhart Lake will do on Saturday evening, August 2, when they pay tribute to racing legend Mario Andretti, with a community celebration in his honor held on the grounds of the Osthoff Resort. Mario Andretti was instrumental in bringing the CART race back to Road America after an earlier cancellation. Using his personal resources, Mario persevered until an agreement was reached which was acceptable to both Road America and CART. And this Wisconsin community will express their appreciation with a “Grazie Mario” party beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday night, August 2. Dignitaries from Sheboygan County as well as the State of Wisconsin will be on hand to officially thank Mario Andretti for personally investing his time and energy to keep the CART race at Road America. You will find representatives from the local chamber, area lodging properties, state and local legislators, the lieutenant governor, race fans, and Mario fans, all gathering to let this racing giant know how much they appreciate what he has done for their businesses, for their state, and for their pleasure by bringing back the race. Awards will be presented, words of praise exalted, and glasses raised in a toast to Mario sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. Live entertainment, dancing, food and, of course, wines from the Andretti vineyard will add to the celebration of the evening. Andretti wine will be available by the bottle or by the glass and who knows, you may leave with an autographed bottle or two of Andretti Sangiovese. So if you want to join in this tribute to “the guy that made it happen”, come to The Osthoff Resort and help thank Mario for keeping this Elkhart Lake tradition at Road America. For further information, call The Osthoff Resort at 1-800-876-3399 or visit www.osthoff.com.
Who: Mario Fans
What: Grazie Mario! Party
When: Saturday, August 2
Times: Celebration begins at 6 p.m.
Awards presentation between 7 and 8 p.m.
Music and dancing from 6 p.m. to ?
Where: Tented on the grounds of The Osthoff Resort
About The Osthoff Resort  Nestled on the shores of Elkhart Lake, The Osthoff Resort is located in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Opened in 1995, this AAA Four Diamond hotel is one of the Midwest’s premier resort destinations, featuring all-suite accommodations, four seasons of recreation, fine American and continental cuisine, breathtaking scenery, and Old World charm. Lola Roeh, General Manager of The Osthoff Resort, recently became the recipient of the prestigious Wisconsin Innkeepers Association’s 2002 Innkeeper of the Year Award. The Osthoff Resort is located at 101 Osthoff Avenue in the Village of Elkhart Lake, WI, an easy one hour drive north of Milwaukee and two hours north of Chicago. To view other upcoming special events and packages, visit www.osthoff.com or call 800.876.3399/920.876.3366.

7/30/03
KARTING

Sad news in karting   UPDATE A reader writes, I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of the 9 year old boy. As an avid karter, my friends and I have often discussed how absurdly dangerous the design of karts are and how easy it would be to make them much safer. Extended bumpers to decrease wheel to wheel contact as well as a lightweight roll bar may well have saved the boy's life. Kart manufacturers ought to drop the macho b.s. and make these two simple changes. The minor weight penalty would be well worth it.  Bill Pope, Bencia, CA  7/29/03 - According to this ekartingnews article, The final round of the Nor-Cal IKF Regional Racing Series ended in tragedy Saturday with the death of Junior I Two-Cycle driver Caleb Maxwell of Merced, California. Caleb, age nine, was participating in his afternoon main event when his racing kart flipped and skidded upside down off the track on the second lap of competition. On-site medical personnel were on the scene moments after the incident to give aid to the injured driver. A team of medical professionals, including local fire and air rescue, worked to stabilize Maxwell in preparation for transport. Caleb was evacuated by helicopter to a local trauma center in Sacramento, California. He was unable to overcome the internal injuries sustained in the accident. In respect to the Maxwell family, the remaining racing schedule was canceled for what was to have been a two-day event. A Memorial Service for Caleb Maxwell will be held tomorrow (Tuesday) morning in Merced. Everyone is welcome to attend this service at 9AM Tuesday Morning. A funeral service will be held in San Antonio, Texas on Friday of this week. Memorial Service Location:
Gateway Church
353 Donna Street
Merced, CA 95340
Any cards, etc. should be sent to:
Maxwell Family
5918 Phoenician Court
Merced, CA 95340 

7/30/03

Eddie Jordan impressed with Shanghai track  In this pitpass.com article Eddie Jordan says this about the Shanghai track that is under construction, "What I have seen here today is a vision for how F1 and motorsport generally can play an important part in many aspects of developing a country's economic and cultural growth. I am most impressed by the plans for the new circuit - a fantastic project which will set new standards for Formula One and bring global awareness of the high standards in Shanghai." More . . .

7/30/03

Stewart offered contract extension   Winston Cup car owner Joe Gibbs has offered Tony Stewart a long-term contract extension, but said Tuesday he's not sure the Winston Cup champion will accept the deal. "Obviously I don't have the answer,'' Gibbs said. ``The most important thing for drivers is to have a place where they think they can win races. Our number one job as a race team is to make sure we're in the forefront of what's going on and that any driver would think he has a chance to win in our stuff.''  Stewart said Tuesday he received the extension from Gibbs, but has not had time to look it over. ``It's not been a real pressing issue because I still have another year on my contract after this year,'' Stewart said. ``So, for some reason, everybody else is putting a bigger press on that than I have so far.''

7/30/03

What did they expect?   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I find it very intriguing that many IRL owners are mad at the IRL officials because they believe Hornish is getting help from the IRL. Do they not realize what series they are racing in and that it is common practice in the IRL? Do they not realize that this is what they signed up for, even AFTER Tracy was stripped of his Indy 500 win last year? Do they not realize this after all the phantom or NASCAR yellows are thrown? Do they not realize that much of the fans dislike and hatred towards the IRL stems from this type of manufactured, favoritism, and basically dishonest racing? Do they not realize that, while CART doesn't hold favoritism towards certain teams and in turn this may irritate some teams, that this lack of favoritism, which leads to REAL RACING, is what appeals to us REAL open-wheel fans who respect great drivers and teams, as opposed to a managed outcome? Come on you guys, have all of you IRL owners really been blinded that bad by their hype and fluff? Derek Hughes, Florida  Dear Derek, Say what you might, but an awful lot of NASCAR fans seem to like managed racing, which goes to show you that people are looking for good entertainment first, and true sport 2nd.  Many prefer the IRL's close racing to CART's follow-the-leader parades, fabricated or not.  Mark C.

7/30/03

Latest Road America HD Net viewing locations   

California
The Davis Graduate (530) 758-4723
805 Russell Blvd.
Davis

K.E.G.'s (949) 586-KEGS (5347)
26772 Portola Pkwy
Foothill Ranch

Legends Sports Bar (562) 433-5743
5236 E. Second St. Belmont Shore
Long Beach

Danny K's (714) 771-9706
1096 Main St.
Orange

Ricky's Sports Theatre and Grill (510) 352-0200
15028 Hesperian Blvd.
San Leandro

Colorado
Legends of Aurora Sports Grill (303) 671-0560
13690 E Iliff Ave
Aurora

Brooklyn's (303) 607-0002
901 Auraria Pkwy
Denver

Legends Denver (303) 320-4710
201 Milaukee St.
Denver

Cuckoo's Chicken House & Waterin' Hole (970) 259-6322
128 E. College Drive
Durango

Florida
Legends Bar & Grill (813) 964-5371
15211 North Dale Mabry
Tampa

Indiana
City Grill 812-336-6869
216 S. College
Bloomington

Yogi's Grill & Bar (812) 323-9644
519 E. 10th St.
Bloomington

Ale Emporium (317) 842-1333
8617 Allisonville Rd
Indianapolis

Iowa
Welch Ave. Station - (515) 292-2334
207 Welch Ave.
Ames

Missouri
Schneithorst's Restaurant (314) 993-4100
1600 S. Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis

Syberg's Westport (314) 785-0481
2430 Old Dorsett Rd
St. Louis

Ohio
The Frog, Bear, & Wild Boar Bar (614) 621-9453
343 North Front Street
Columbus

Lighthouse Bar & Grill (440) 466-4638
SR534 & I-90
Geneva

Texas
Moose & Vinny's - (817) 461-2027
2301 North Collins (Hwy 157), located in the Landmark Village Shopping Center
Arlington

Moose & Vinny's - (214) 342-BEER
9220 Skillman St., just North of I-635 in Dallas
Dallas

Wizards Sports Café - (972) 235-0371
747 N. Central Expressway
Dallas

7/30/03

British government doesn't want to line Bernie's pockets  According to reports in the UK Press, the British government is not very likely to put forward the funds to help the Silverstone circuit finance redevelopments to ensure it stays on the F1 calendar in future years. According to a member of the British Parliament, Clare Ward,. "I hope the government can provide some help in the form of an investment to keep the British GP,” Clare told the Guardian, “but I would be very concerned if millions were ploughed into a sport where clearly somebody (read that Bernie Ecclestone and his FOM organization) is creaming off a large profit."

7/30/03

Sauber confirms Friday testing in 2004  Sauber Petronas have confirmed that they will become the fifth team to agree to the new Heathrow agreement that will see them testing at each circuit on GP Friday mornings and their in-season testing limited to just twenty days. According to team boss Peter Sauber, one issue that helped sway their decision is the new circuits added to the 2004 schedule. “We were thinking about this move last year,” Sauber told Motorsport Aktuell. “After our experiences this year, and regarding the fact that there will be two new circuits in next year's calendar, we've decided to do without unlimited testing in 2004.”

7/30/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items  

Jaguar Won't Be Rushed Over Line-Up
Ford Quash Jordan-Mercedes Rumor
Kimi Aims To Put Things Right
Title Race Still Open, Says Michelin
Wilson Gets First Taste Of Jaguar
Trulli Hopes Gascoyne Isn't Leaving
Webber Expects R4 To Suit Hockenheim
Belgium Paves Way For GP Return
No Renault Switch For Villeneuve
Baumgartner To Star In Jordan EJ13
Alonso Blows Out 22 Candles
Things Are Getter Better: Fisichella
Privateers' Plight Getting 'Tougher'
Jaguar's Wilson Pines For Friday
Firman: Japan Not The Best Formula

7/30/03

Fittipaldi compares Indy 500 and Brickyard 400   Christian Fittipaldi, runner-up for the 1995 Indianapolis 500 in his rookie year on the CART circuit, speaks on the comparison of the Indy 500 versus the Brickyard 400: "My uncle's accomplishments are nearly unmatched, and now I am trying to bring the winning tradition at Indianapolis back to my family in a stock car. A trophy at Indianapolis is admired by all no matter what you are driving. You can't compare winning the Indianapolis 500 to winning the Brickyard 400, they are two different races in two different cars, but winning at Indianapolis is a racer's dream. It's one of the greatest accomplishments you can have.  It's hard to say which is the bigger event, the Indianapolis 500 or the Brickyard 400. I am focused on doing the best I can do for Petty Enterprises, Cheerios, Dodge, and all of my other supporters. Right now, the Brickyard 400 is the bigger event to me. Maybe others will argue that the Indianapolis 500 is the greatest event, or the Daytona 500 is, but for me right now it's the Brickyard 400. I have chosen to race in stock cars, and I want to be a winner in NASCAR, so that means winning the Brickyard 400. I also want to be a winner at Indianapolis. This is my chance to make my dreams come true. Other drivers may have different dreams, but this is my weekend to chase mine.  I have raced from Europe to Australia to Canada to the United States. There is nothing like racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's the Mecca of automobile racing. It's certainly the most impressive track that I have ever seen. There are tracks that are also impressive, but Indy is for sure the top infrastructure that I have ever seen."

7/29/03

Junqueira admits to losing it after Vancouver penalty   In this crash.net article, Bruno Junqueira admits that he lost concentration and a chance to mount a challenge to eventual winner Paul Tracy after CART officials ordered him to move over and let Tracy into the top spot."It is not bad to finish second," said Junqueira. "Unfortunately, second again to Paul Tracy. In 11 races, we have been always very fast, but didn't win yet. On the start, just after the last corner, you have a cone that's supposed to be the start cone. At that point you have to start to accelerate. Ninety-nine percent of the time the drivers that are leading on the pole, everybody just accelerates a little bit before the cone because if you accelerate on the cone, the guy that's in second knows you're going to accelerate there, just accelerate a little bit earlier. I felt that in Toronto Paul accelerated earlier than I was expecting him to. Then he got a big jump on me on the start. Today I thought that he's going to do pretty much the same and accelerate a little bit before the cone, and he didn't. Then pretty much I passed him. But I don't know, I have to see on the replay because is difficult anywhere in the car. But when the green flag flew, you pretty much side-by-side. But for sure when I was on the start/finish line, I was in front. I don't know, like in Portland, I wasn't on the front row, and they try to do a lot of starts with Paul Tracy and Michel. It's difficult." More . . .

7/29/03

IRL ready to pick up Toronto and LB when CART dies   According to this TSN.ca article, If the financially troubled CART series were to disappear from the racing landscape in 2005, it's possible that the Indy Racing League could fill the void in Toronto and Long Beach. The all-oval IRL is making preliminary plans to add road courses to its schedule, perhaps as early as 2005. IRL vice president of operations Brian Barnhart met with representatives of its two chassis suppliers - Panoz G Force and Dallara - and requested both to start planning an update kit for the current IRL chassis by 2004. That kit will be tested before one or two road course venues are added to the schedule. Panther Racing co-owner John Barnes, who has been part of the IRL since it started, supports the idea of adding road course into the oval mix. "This series needs diversity, and two road course races a year would be incredible, especially if they are great venues like Toronto and Long Beach," says Barnes. "If CART dies, it's an obligation of ours to help those race fans in those venues. Toronto has been a happening for years and so is Long Beach. It would be an honor to race there.".......A move to street racing will further increase costs, according to Kelley Racing manager Steve Newey. "My first thought is how that will increase our expenses," Newey said. "There is obviously different suspension and brakes and it will be harder on gearboxes. I think the cars will be more maintenance-intensive and we will go through parts a lot faster. We will need additional update kits from the manufacturer. My biggest concern is how it will increase our costs. The $125,000 would be the upfront cost for the update kit itself." John Biddlecombe, the director of sales for chassis maker G Force, says in order to convert the all-oval-designed IRL chassis to one that could also compete on road courses, they would have to improve the brakes, the cooling system, add a new fuel cell and slightly change the geometry of the suspension. He indicated that would cost each team between $100,000 to $125,000. Despite the increased costs, Biddlecombe is in favor of adding road races. "I think it would be a very good idea to add several road courses to our current schedule of 16 ovals. I think that would make for a terrific series.  In 2005, we will be going to one or two road courses," Biddlecombe said. "That is my gut feeling." "There has been some discussion about adding a couple road course races in time and I think 2005 is probably the time you might see some road races," Roger Penske said. "For us, it can't be bad. We don't want to add a lot more races. We want to race in the best markets that we can. One of the benefits we have right now is a solid series with 16 or 17 races. Penske driver Gil de Ferran would also welcome a change to road racing. "From a very selfish standpoint, I miss road racing. If we get to do that again, it would be great. I still love road racing and I miss it. I think America has some of the best permanent road courses out there, like Road America and Laguna Seca and Mid-Ohio, along with street circuits like Long Beach."

7/29/03

NASCAR cuts off money to Jessie Jackson   This Chicago Tribune article (requires registration) says Pressured by a conservative group, NASCAR has cut off contributions to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, USA Today reported Tuesday. The newspaper said a person familiar with NASCAR's internal decisions confirmed that the racing organization has not paid Jackson's group any money in 2003 and doesn't plan to. NASCAR is seeking more subtle ways to back Rainbow/PUSH without appearing as though it directly supports Jackson, the paper said. However, a NASCAR source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that NASCAR hasn't ruled out making future contributions. NASCAR has given Jackson's group $250,000 during the past three years in an effort to increase minority participation in stock-car racing. We have not officially heard that NASCAR has pulled funding," said Keiana Peyton-Barrett, a spokeswoman for Rainbow/PUSH. NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter told The AP he would not discuss specifics about donations to Rainbow/PUSH because such contributions change from year to year. "The only thing we can do is go back to Mike Helton's previous statement that supporting Rainbow/PUSH is one of several initiatives intended to increase minority participation," Hunter said, referring to remarks from NASCAR's president. In April, Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center, made public a letter he sent to NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. that asked him to end NASCAR's support of Jackson. Flaherty said he believed the backlash NASCAR received from its fans over the support of Jackson was the reason no contributions were made so far this year. "I think the protests of thousands of fans and four months of unrelenting attention led to this," Flaherty said. "But we welcome their decision because we are trying to show all of corporate America that there is a price to pay for associating with Jesse Jackson." Charles Farrell, director of Rainbow Sports, a division of Rainbow/PUSH, said the organization is still expecting NASCAR funding. "We have had no contact with NASCAR whatsoever that would indicate that they're pulling back support or wavering in any way," he said. "We haven't asked them to reassure us. We don't need reassurance. As far as we're concerned, the relationship is the same."

7/29/03

Road America is all about reducing drag   Road America’s 14-turn, 4.048-mile permanent road course is a driver favorite with long straights, fast and slow turns and plenty of elevation changes. Fernandez Racing Race Engineer David Watson estimates top speeds of 186 mph with minimum cornering speeds in the 57 mph range. Drivers will shift 40 times per lap throughout the course of the 60-lap race, pulling a maximum G Force load of 3.8. The maximum lap interval for pit stops is set at 13 laps, requiring a minimum of four stops. Minimizing drag is key for this weekend as Watson notes: “All cars will be run in their minimum drag configuration – low drag sidepods and rear wing positions. In this way, Road America is the only track of its type. The elevation changes can make corner entry interesting and a solid rear end [to the car] is important.”  Fernández Racing

7/29/03

NASCAR is Plan B for Carpentier   A reader writes, Dear AR1, Patrick Carpentier was on CKAC Montreal Radio's sports show today. In a nutshell he hopes CART survives and Forsythe can get sponsorship for his ride. Otherwise he stated that Plan B is to look at NASCAR. Particularly the Busch series for now. When asked about the IRL he said although he likes the show they put on, it seems every other week a driver ends up with broken legs, hips or backs so his first pick would be NASCAR. After the interview the motorsports reporter said that although Carpentier was being politically correct he could tell that he was seriously leaning towards NASCAR. He then went on a rant about CART calling it 3rd rate, on life support and offering no viable future for the drivers involved. He said he contacted the people running the Montreal CART race and they told him that unlike when they organize the F1 race that they got no help or input from CART at all and that CART was counting on the local promoter to run with the ball. He said that you can see what the successful races on the schedule are simply from who has the best organization to promote and put on the event and that Norman Legault was in no way impressed with their way of operating and has distanced himself from CART when asked about it in public. The reporter also mentioned that Craig Pollack hinted that Jacques Villeneuve was looking at a few Winston Cup offers. The reporter concluded that although NASCAR may not be viewed by the public with the same passion as open wheel, that it was where a driver could make plenty of cash and have an extended career. This interview speaks volumes on so many levels. Canada and particularly Quebec has always been open wheel country. When true open wheel drivers start looking at NASCAR first rather then any open wheel alternatives that shows that open wheel racing is really in dire straights in North America. Furthermore, this is the first time I remember the motorsport press in this area getting down on CART. These people have no affiliation or ideological link to the IRL and are not your ball and stick reporters masquerading as a motorsport reporter when the big race is in town. They know their stuff and follow all of it religiously.  Natalie From Quebec, Canada  Dear Natalie, thanks for the report.  CART is operating on a shoestring budget right now just to survive, hence its staff has been trimmed and they simply do not have enough people to do it all.  CART's only hope is that some new owners take over and do what it takes to make things right.  Do you think the team could be making room for a Villeneuve and Tracy duo next year, making Carpentier the odd man out?  With Labatts rumored to be replacing Player's, one can't forget who sponsored Villeneuve years ago. Mark C.

7/29/03

Martin fastest on final test day at The Glen  With one complete day of testing already under their belts, 17 NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers went to work again today at Watkins Glen International in their final preparation for the SIRIUS at The Glen, August 7-10 and the lap times were fast. Mark Martin ran the 2.45-mile road course in just 1:11.10 with the No. 6 Viagra Ford, while his teammate Greg Biffle had the second-fastest lap of 1:11.30 in his No. 16 Grainger Ford. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet came across the line with a time of 1:11.70, followed by Jeff Gordon's 1:11.72 in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet and No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet of Robby Gordon at 1:11.79. Ron Fellows was the final driver to clock in under 1:12, with a time of 1:11.90 in his No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet. The No. 4 Kodak Film Pontiac of PJ Jones had a best lap of 1:12.00, followed closely by Joe Varde's 1:12.01, the No. 04 Pontiac of Johnny Miller with 1:12.10 and Matt Kenseth's 1:12.20 in the No. 17 DeWalt Ford. Road course ringer Boris Said clocked in at 1:12.30 in his No. 01 US Army Pontiac, with Christian Fittipaldi's No. 44 New York Yankees Dodge timing in at 1:12.34. Three drivers shared a best time of 1:12.50 - Scott Pruett in the third Chip Ganassi entry, Bobby Labonte in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet and the No. 41 Target Dodge of rookie Casey Mears. Rounding out the field was the No. 33 Andy Petree Racing Chevrolet with Paul Menard behind the wheel, timing in at 1:12.93 and Kyle Petty's 1:13.10 in the No. 45 Georgia Pacific Dodge.

7/29/03

TV rating disaster for CART on SPEED again   CART was back on SPEED TV this past weekend for its Vancouver race and as expected, the overnight TV rating of 0.3 in prime time was another black eye for the Champ Car Series.  Mark C.

7/29/03

CART joins Hole-In-The-Wall used cell phone drive   The CART Champ Car World Series and their Official Charity, the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps has partnered with Charitable Recycling to begin a drive to collect used cell phones at every race for the remainder of the 2003 season. The camps will receive a monetary donation for each phone collected during this drive. Monies for each phone will be donated to the Champ Car Official Charity, The Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, and will be presented at the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season finale in Fontana, CA on November 2. “This Cellular Contribution drive will help us continue to find unique and valuable ways to support our partnership with the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, while also collecting and recycling some of the estimated 150 million idle cell phones in the U.S," said Kori Novak, Director, Special Projects for Champ Car, “The cell phones will be refurbished and sent to battered woman and family shelters and similar organizations within the United States. Cell phones also contain toxins and are very hazardous to our environment if they go to landfills. It’s a win, win, win situation for everyone involved.” Any and all cell phones will be accepted. Those turning in cell phones are requested to turn in any battery or charger that comes with the phone. All phones should be deactivated before turning them in. “We’re very excited about this program as an extension of our Champ Car partnership”, said Stocky Clark, Executive Director for The Association of Hole in the Wall Camps. “It not only benefits our association, but assists in preserving the environment and bringing communications to people who could not otherwise afford it. Donations may be dropped off in the following locations during race weekends: Registration/Credentialing, the Champ Car Pace Car compound and the Champ Car Official Merchandise trailer. The Association of Hole in the Wall Camps serves the entire family of Hole in the Wall Camps, including five fully operational camps, three camps in active development, and several programs around the globe. To date, our camps have provided a magical camp experience to nearly 67,000 children with serious illnesses or other life-threatening conditions. Each camp is a recreational and therapeutic place for these children to come and feel the simple joy of being a child. Founder Paul Newman’s vision of providing these camps free of charge is made possible through the generous contributions of individuals, corporations, foundations, and many other organizations. With continued support, we hope to provide this life-changing camp experience to as many children all over the world as possible. For more information on The Association of Hole In The Wall Camps log onto www.holeinthewallcamps.org

7/29/03

CART explains International TV disruption  The following statement was issued today by Tim Mayer, CART's Director of International Operations and Development: "Viewers of live broadcasts of the Champ Car race from Vancouver, Canada, on the 27th of July, who may have been watching outside of the United States and Canada, were aware that the race broadcast was interrupted just after lap 40 of the broadcast and live transmission was not re-established until nearly lap 90 of the 100 lap event. While the exact cause of the interruption is still being investigated, we do know that there was a massive technical failure of the transmission facilities in Indianapolis, in the United States, that we use to beam the races around the world. These types of systems are designed with full redundancy, but as with any system as technical as this, faults, while extremely rare, can occur. The scale of the issue made it very difficult to re-establish video communications with our various broadcast partners around the world, which caused the outage to last nearly an hour. We were able to re-broadcast the majority of the race action immediately following the event, which allowed some of our partners to either re-air the broadcast, or if they were delayed anyway, to broadcast the majority of the broadcast, as planned. We are currently exploring additional backup measures to ensure that we do not have a repeat of this experience. I would like to emphasize to our disappointed fans, that this fault was entirely out of the hands of the various broadcasters around the world who were affected. Each broadcaster was left in a very difficult position and the world feed production team is extremely grateful for the professional and cooperative efforts of all our partners around the world. We sincerely apologize both to our fans and to our broadcast partners whose programming schedules were affected."

7/29/03

More on NASCAR eyeing NY market  This Seattle Times article says, Jeff Gordon, a four-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion, was asked by a reporter what it would take for the New York area to embrace stock-car racing. His answer came as fast as he drives. "A racetrack out at the Meadowlands (in New Jersey)," Gordon said last month in Manhattan's Times Square when NASCAR introduced Nextel as the new title sponsor for its top series. Getting a track close to New York — the nation's top media market — has become a prime goal for NASCAR now that it has addressed two other top concerns: replacing Winston as its title sponsor and shifting some races to major markets from relatively small southern towns. "If there's any market that they've wanted forever, it's the New York market," said Tom Cotter, managing director of CMI Group, which handles auto-racing marketing. "It's of the utmost importance to them." The Winston Cup Series already has races in each of the 10 biggest U.S. media markets except for New York and San Francisco. Getting a track built and staging a race near New York would expose millions of new fans to the sport and might get the attention of the approximately 75 Fortune 500 companies in the area. "New York not only gives us the notoriety of being in the largest city in the country, but also gives us the positives of being in close proximity to many of the big business leaders in the country," said Lee Combs, who is heading International Speedway's attempts to build a track in the New York area. "The Big Apple is the Big Apple," Combs said. "Our sponsors would embrace going there. It's a tough nut to crack, but we're excited about the opportunity to bring a track to the area."

7/29/03

Proposal to set up Formula One track at Gachibowli  This Hindu newspaper article says, The Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, has said that the State Government proposes to set up a Formula One car racing track at Gachibowli, India on the city outskirts. The plan for the track stems from the Government's intention to have round-the-year sporting activity at Gachibowli where a lot of infrastructure for sports was created for the last National Games, Mr. Naidu said after laying the foundation for a multistoried office complex of the Ranga Reddy Zilla Parishad at Khairatabad on Monday. The occasion coincided with the second anniversary celebrations of the present general body of the Parishad. Listing the projects on the anvil for the district, Mr. Naidu said apart from setting up the racing track, the Government wanted to come up with several tourism schemes from Hyderabad to the district borders at Vikarabad. He allayed fears about shifting Anantagiri TB sanitarian at Vikarabad for the purpose of turning it into a tourism spot.

7/29/03

Eddie Jordan to Shanghai  Eddie Jordan becomes the first Formula One team owner to visit the new Shanghai International Circuit today and tomorrow, July the 29th and 30th, after being invited by the Shanghai Municipal Government, Shanghai International Circuit and the Chinese national television broadcaster CCTV. Jordan will take the opportunity to meet with representatives from the circuit, which will host the inaugural Chinese round of the FIA Formula One World Championship in 2004, along with key government officials from Shanghai Sports Bureau and Shanghai Municipal Government.

7/29/03

Skinner named to drive #01 Pontiac  Mike Skinner has been named to drive the No. 01 U.S. Army Pontiac for MB2 Motorsports beginning with this weekend’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Skinner will take over driving duties from Mike Wallace who has substituted for the injured Jerry Nadeau since The Winston Open (May 17) at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte. Road racing specialist Boris Said, who drove the No. 01 U.S. Army Pontiac to a sixth place finish at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., will take the wheel again at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International for the Aug. 10 NASCAR Winston Cup Series road race. “Mike (Skinner) has agreed to drive for us at least through Darlington,” said Jay Frye, CEO/General Manager of MB2 Motorsports. “The team seems to have lost a little momentum since Sonoma, but hopefully Mike will help get us back on the right track. His record of success speaks for itself.” Skinner was the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion in 1995 and the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year. He finished 10th in the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings and 12th in 2000. Skinner also won one of the Gatorade 125 qualifying events for the 2001 Daytona 500. “I’m very excited that the team chose me to help them out,” said Skinner. “My goal, first and foremost, is to help Jerry’s recovery. We want him back in the U.S. Army Pontiac. Speaking from experience, though, getting back in the car before you are 100 percent isn’t the best thing to do for anyone. Hopefully, I can help take a little pressure off of Jerry so he can recover at his own pace. I want to get his team back on its feet, and maybe even give them a win -- that would be an added bonus for all of us.”

7/29/03

With a possible CART death looming, IRL to prepare for road races  UPDATE This rpm.espn.com article has more discussion on the IRL going road racing.  AJ Foyt had one interesting comment - "I'm against it to be honest with you," said A.J. Foyt to RPM's Marlo Klain. "The IRL was formed to run ovals, it's an all-oval series. I know they want to go to so many more tracks and it's just going to cost the guys more money. We probably wouldn't file an entry on road course races. If we get run off, we'd probably go to NASCAR."  7/28/03 - According to this Indy Star article, Indy Racing League officials don't know if they will have the league's first road course or street-circuit race in 2004 or 2005, but they will be prepared for '04, league president Tony George said Sunday. The IRL told its engine and chassis manufacturers this weekend to make the necessary adjustments to next year's equipment just in case the schedule includes some events away from ovals. George said league officials are not in discussions with any non-oval tracks at this time. "But we have to be prepared for any opportunities," he said. "We are not on a path to have such an event next year, but we have to be ready just in case there is one." The options seem more likely now given the financial trouble confirmed earlier this week by the Championship Auto Racing Teams series. CART will stage 16 of its 19 races on road and street circuits this season, but series officials aren't sure there will be a full season in 2004. There are added benefits to the IRL having equipment for such venues, according to Brian Barnhart, senior vice president of operations. He said aerodynamic drag will increase and downforce will decrease because of such things as larger suspension pieces. That will slow the cars 2-3 mph at the faster oval tracks like Michigan International Speedway. Tomas Scheckter earned the pole for the Firestone Indy 400 at 222.458 mph. There are extra costs with the new configuration, but switching in 2004 will allow teams to spread it over the final two seasons of the league's equipment package. "We know we're going to road courses at some point, so we might as well get the equipment ready now," Barnhart said. At present, the only new race expected next year is the oval track at Milwaukee. League officials are also talking to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, also an oval. 

7/29/03

Is Sam Hornish the new IRL poster boy?   According to this rpm.espn.com article, The only negative (this weekend at MIS), from the Chevy/Cosworth perspective, was the question of fuel mileage. Hornish had to pit 3-4 laps earlier than everyone else as, naturally, mileage was the great unknown. And when it looked like Hornish was going to have to pit two more times with some 50 laps to go while his competitors only needed one more stop, a mysterious "debris yellow" [they call that a "NASCAR yellow," a common practice in managed racing series to ensure an exciting finish for the fans] came out to alleviate that potential problem after an IRL official reportedly asked over the radio how everybody was doing on fuel. "That was a bunch of b......., and we also caught Sam speeding once on pit lane and called it in but the IRL didn't do anything," said one IRL owner afterwards. "He (Hornish) also jumped the start. I guess this whole thing is about getting Hornish some wins."

7/29/03

McLaren Mercedes preview Hockenheim race The Team McLaren Mercedes team will be at Hockenheim this weekend for the German Grand Prix, one of two home events for Mercedes-Benz this season.  The race, which is sponsored for the 13th consecutive year by Team McLaren Mercedes Technology Partner ExxonMobil, marks round 12 of the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship. Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard currently lie in second and seventh in the Drivers standings, with 62 and 33 points respectively, with Team McLaren Mercedes in third position in the Constructors' table with 95 points..  More.....

7/29/03

Toyota preview Hockenheim race The 2003 race will be the 27th German GP to be held at Hockenheim, having been previously staged for 23 races by the Nürburgring. Originally built in 1930's as a test facility, the Hockenheimring had to wait until 1970 before being instated as an F1 race venue. The track was drastically revised for last year's event, reduced in length from 6.825km to 4.574km and swapping ultra fast straights with a tighter, twistier layout. In the last ten years, no driver has won the German Grand Prix two years in a row.  More.....

7/29/03

Wilson gets first drive in Jag  British Formula 1 rookie Justin Wilson drove for the Jaguar Racing team for the first time at Silverstone's South circuit on Monday. "My first day with Jaguar on the track went according to plan," Wilson told Jaguar-Racing.com. "The team did a lot of work over the weekend making adjustments to the cockpit area, and in the end it paid off handsomely. I fitted in well and the Jaguar R4 felt very good to drive. It was only a handful of laps but enough to whet my appetite as we go into the German Grand Prix this weekend. Roll on two-hour testing on Friday – I cannot wait."

7/29/03

Truce needed with IRL, CART  According to this Knight-Ridder article, If ever a little sanity is called for in racing, it is in ending the ongoing scrap between the IRL and CART. Here's the scoop, in case you're both too busy looking in the mirror or patting yourselves on the back to notice: Open-wheel racing in America is in trouble, you'd better believe it. There needs to be a single voice, a single series......The bleeding hasn't stopped, while NASCAR seems to be able to do no wrong. On Sunday at Pocono, state police estimated the Winston Cup race crowd at around 100,000. The fans watched Ryan Newman win the Pennsylvania 500, beating Kurt Busch. If it was a better spectacle than the Firestone Indy 400, I'll eat my race hat. Rumor is that CART may close shop soon. Stories doing the rounds in cyberspace say the IRL may add road courses to its schedule next year, while Hornish will be lured to a NASCAR Busch Grand National or Winston Cup team for 2004. None or all may be true, but one thing is certain: Open-wheel racing needs to make decisions about its future now. If the major players in the sport are as smart as they are self-serving, an IRL-CART truce would be called immediately. [Editor's Note: CART and the IRL are like the Hatfields and the McCoys, a truce isn't going to happen]

7/29/03

Overnight TV ratings  The American LeMans Series race from Infineon Raceway on NBC turned in a 0.9 overnight rating on Saturday according to the Sports Business Daily.  The Busch Series race from Pikes Peak garnered a 1.7 overnight rating on NBC on Saturday, according to Nielsen Media Research.

7/29/03

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7/29/03

Message to Penske and Bobby Unser  A reader writes, Dear AutoRaciing1.com, I had to write this because I'm sick of hearing people like Bobby Unser and Roger Penske saying "most of CART's races are outside the U.S." This is as far from the truth as it can be. Let's see we have a 19 round schedule this year. Okay we have 10 races in the U.S. (more than half the schedule) and another 3 in Canada and 2 in Mexico. That's 15 of 19 races in North America! I'm not great at math but that's over 75% of our races in North America! How can they say we don't race here? Please pass this on to the people who can't seem to count, Bobby Unser and Roger Penske!  I don't know why it took me so long to say this...but I have to thank you people at autoracing1.com. This is THE BEST website ever created for open wheel fans. Thank you. Everyday I can't wait to go to your site. I actually get excited about it. You guys report from a non-bias point of view. Something that's impossible to find these days. Keep up the great work. You do an awesome job. James Shaw  Dear James, Thank you for the kind words.  You are absolutely right, CART does have over 75% of their races in North America.  You must understand that certain people have an agenda and must justify their recent decisions.  Certainly CART still being in business was not on their agenda.  Mark C.

7/29/03

The best attended race in years  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, As I’ve said before in my e-mail to this site, I’m a CART fan first and foremost. In fact, I wore a CART shirt and hat to the IRL race this past weekend. I along with about 8 others I happen to ran into (must have been the shirt and hat) were attending our first IRL event outside Indy. I wanted to compare the great CART races of 1997-2000 to the IRL formula. The Hanford device was greatly missed in my opinion, although I must admit the racing was good, clean and fast. I believe in calling it the way I see it and rather than print that the Michigan race only drew 30k fans compared to the Vancouver CART event, you might want to also inform your readers it was the best attended Michigan race I’ve been to since 1998. I’ve been to every one from 1990 through 2001 with the exception of 1995. John Kelsh

7/29/03

A lap around Trois-Rivieres  [Editor's Note: The American Le Mans Series will compete in Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres on the historic Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, street racing circuit this weekend (Aug. 1-3). In this first-person narrative, Corvette Racing driver Johnny O'Connell of Flowery Branch, Ga., describes how he drives a lap of the 1.521-mile circuit.] There are some circuits that we go to with the American Le Mans Series that stand out. Trois-Rivieres is certainly one of these. Without a doubt some of the best fans in the sport, and the town itself completely embraces the event, and makes it a great experience for all the drivers. As far as the circuit goes, well it is challenging, and too much fun to drive. Going past start/finish to begin a lap you get into top gear, and really try and brake late going into turn one. You change down to 3rd gear, and the corner itself is a bit tricky as the road falls away from you as you get to your apex, and then spits you out pretty quickly. A little bit wide of your apex and you can find yourself in trouble real quick. Turn two is tight left hand corner that is taken in second or third gear, and a bit tricky in that as you go through it, the road starts to fall away from you as you go downhill towards turn three…the very tight and difficult arch corner where you go under the arch! It is really only wide enough for one car, and you have to be very precise with your line as even a foot wide and you can get in trouble so quick. The road falls away from you as you turn in, but then comes back to you on the exit. It's a very important corner as it leads onto a long straight, where a lot of passing can be done. Turn six is the left hander at the end of the straight, and is a second gear corner. Ninety degrees, pretty flat, it is a fun corner but often you enter it on the wrong line as it is one of the best places for overtaking on the track. Lots of room both going in and coming out. Turn eight is probably my favorite corner on the track, taken in either third or fourth, it is a quick left hander, with a lot of road that can be used at the exit. You can get through it surprisingly fast, but then it is real hard on the brakes for turn nine, the slowest corner on the track and pretty much a true hairpin. Very slow...second gear and then up into 3rd gear for turn 10 which is a quick chicane type thing, but very difficult to get exactly right. Then it's quickly through the gearbox past start/finish to begin another lap. Without a doubt one of the best street circuits to race on anywhere.

7/28/03

Big Gateway ticket giveaway   A reader writes, Dear AR1, We have had 2 (two) Season tickets to Gateway since it opened in 1997.  This year's tickets were for the NASCAR Busch Series, the NASCAR Truck series and the IRL Weekend. In the mail this week we received 4(four) free extra tickets from Dover Downs Entertainment to help promote the IRL weekend. So now we are stuck with 6 tickets to get rid of since we are going to Mid-Ohio for the CART race. Chad Funkhouser, St. Louis, Mo.  Dear Chad, Four free tickets if you bought two?  That is a sure sign of desperation to try and prop up attendance to avoid a big PR nightmare. Ticket giveaways kill a market because fans will always wait for freebees each year.  Mark C.

7/28/03

Bigley to attempt Brickyard 400  Billy Bigley Jr will attempt to qualify for his first NASCAR Winston Cup race at Indianapolis this weekend. Bigley Jr, racing the #79 Arnold Development Companies Dodge with Doug Howe as crew chief will be just one of 52 teams vying for 43 spots at the Brickyard. Some of the other non-regulars attempting to qualify for the Brickyard 400 include Jim Sauter, Jason Leffler, Hermie Sadler and northeast modified star David Reutimann.

7/28/03

Negative information  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, We are the fans that follow real open wheel racing (CART).  We are tired of hearing and reading all this negative and bad publicity supported and sponsored by the IRL/Tony George against CART and its promoters. Every single day I read or hear the same line "CART is dead."  If it is dead why are so many people interested in it? 162,271 at the Vancouver race weekend and the IRL/Tony George race at Michigan cannot even pass the 30,000 mark on a race day? All the negative information people who call "CART dead" need to look at the grandstands and TV ratings first, and they will realize who is really dying.  In particular now that they know that Bernie Ecclestone will be in play very soon, I am sure they are doing everything in their power to promote all this negative information, but in fact they are probably worried about their own future. Ivan Arias Dear Ivan, Don't blame Tony George and others for all the negative publicity about CART, they do plenty to draw it upon themselves.  Hopefully when this all shakes out, the IRL can focus on their oval racing business and CART can focus on their road racing business.  While some animosity may remain, the sooner it's clear what everyone's market niche is, the sooner everyone can end this silly war and just get on with their business, and that includes the fans who have taken sides.  Mark C. Another reader writes, First let me point out: IRL a generous 30,000 for their race weekend, CART 166,000 for their race weekend----what are the fans saying about this? Why sponsors go to the IRL is a mystery to me. Second, why aren't Toyota and Honda crying "FOUL!" when the IRL CHANGES their rules, once again, to suit their needs? Seems like a much worse crime than what happened in CART. I hope Ford (hehe) kicks their butts for the rest of the season. Welcome to the IRL Toyota and Honda. Third, please tell me all this talk of the death and end of CART is just a ploy to get the price down and Bernie is going to save the day! Please! Please! It severely pisses me off to hear how the IRL is going to road courses. If they do, I hope the cost drive them even higher and out of business. I can't stand the lies and malice that comes from that pathetic excuse for a "racing" series....more like a manufactured managed racing series. NO, just tell me it isn't so!  If CART survives and the rumors are true, we could have Franchitti and Villeneuve back in the series next year.......and, if things continue the way they are, we may just have our champion (PT) RETURN to defend his title! Hence, CART will have a recognized name STAYING in its series! Derek Hughes, Florida  Dear Derek, We can't say whether Bernie is going to swoop in and save the day for CART.  If he is, it had better happen within the next couple of weeks.  Mark C.

7/28/03
Industry News

Infineon Raceway to get resurfaced  The sound of roaring engines will go silent at Infineon Raceway when the track closes for nearly three weeks in August to repave the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course. Repaving will begin immediately following the NHRA FRAM Autolite Nationals on Monday, Aug. 4 and is expected to be completed by Aug. 20. The $1 million project will include repairing and stabilizing the existing pavement, adding new drainage to eliminate seepage problems and repaving those portions of the road course that have not been resurfaced over the last two years. The track will be resurfaced with polymer-modified asphalt that is designed to withstand the constant usage — Infineon Raceway features 340 days of on-track activity each year. Segments of track already repaved over the last two years — Turns 4-5, 9-10, 12-1 and the Chute — will not be repaved. “At the core of everything we do is one of the world’s most challenging racing circuits,” said Steve Page, Infineon Raceway president and general manager. “With the completion of this new track surface, we’ll offer a road racing facility that is second to none.”

7/28/03

Interview with BMW's Mario Theissen  With only a couple of days to go before the start of the German Grand Prix weekend, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen took the time to answer a few questions.  Transcript

7/28/03

Still no standing starts?  Another race another botched start.  Not only did Bruno Junqueira jump the start, but the starting field for yesterday's Molson Indy Vancouver was so strung out and disorderly when the green flag flew, one has to ask why CART has to wait until next year to give standing starts a try. 

7/28/03

Maia secures Barber Dodge championship   Leo Maia of Oakland, California, took his fifth win of the season today in Vancouver to secure the Barber Dodge Pro Series Championship with a patient drive that saw Maia capitalize when his rivals stumbled. Barber-Champ Car Scholarship racer Scott Poirier of Deerfield Beach, Florida, scored his best-ever Barber Dodge Pro Series result with his runner up finish in the Michelin machine over Nelson Philippe of Valence, France, who scored his first visit to the podium in Barber Dodge competition with his third place finish. Dan Di Leo of Markham, Ontario, finished a disappointed fourth after leading eighteen laps before pitting for a penalty and losing several positions. Burt Frisselle scored his third top-five finish of the season ahead of Mexican German Quiroga in sixth. Ward Imrie finished seventh, matching his impressive result at Toronto two weeks ago in just his second Barber Dodge start. David Martinez finished eighth, with Memo Rojas in ninth. Al Unser finished tenth for his third top-ten finish of the season. The forty-minute event was a dramatic one, with three different drivers holding on to the lead during the first Barber Dodge street circuit race to go the distance under green flag conditions since 1999, a testament to some heads-up driving by the young field.
FN PS/ST PS/CR#/DRIVER/HOMETOWN/PTS/PURSE/LP/STATUS/SPEED
1/1/6/Leonardo Maia/Oakland, Calif./21/$13,000/32/Running/85.860
2/6/67/Scott Poirier/Deerfield Beach, Florida/16/$8,750/32/Running/85.264
3/5/26/Nelson Philippe/Valence, France/14/$6,500/32/Running/85.112
4/4/19/Dan Di Leo/Markham, Ontario, Canada/12/$4,500/32/Running/85.548
5/9/24/Burt Frisselle/Kihei, Hawaii/11/$2,500/32/Running/85.254
6/8/33/German Quiroga/Mexico City, Mexico/10/$1,500/32/Running/84.740
7/11/23/Ward Imrie/Winnipeg, Manitoba/9/$1,250/32/Running/84.931
8/2/47/David Martinez L./Monterrey, Mexico/10/$1,250/32/Running/85.965
9/7/15/Memo Rojas/Mexico City, Mexico/7/$1,250/32/Running/85.634
10/13/31/Al Unser/Corrales, New Mexico/6/$1,250/32/Running/84.320
11/15/18/Robbie Montinola/Laguna Niguel, Calif/5/$1,000/32/Running/84.586
12/12/49/Luis Pelayo/Mexico City, Mexico/4/$1,000/32/Running/84.801
13/16/11/Chris Baker/Houston, Texas/3/$1,000/31/Running/82.910
14/17/34/Mike Richardson/Kelowna, B.C., Canada/2/$1,000/19/Contact/82.171
15/3/28/Colin Fleming/North Hills, Calif./1/$1,000 /10/Contact/84.695
16/10/16/Antoine Bessette/St. Bruno, Quebec/$750/5/Contact/83.493
1714/82/Salvador Duran/Cuernavaca, Mexico/$750/0/Contact/0.000
LENGTH OF RACE 32 Laps of 1.781 Mile Circuit for 56.992 miles
TIME OF RACE 40 Minutes, 30.679 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED 84.409 mph NEW RECORD
MARGIN OF VICTORY 0 Minutes 9.026 Seconds
LAP LEADERS
David Martinez Lap 1 through 5 Dan DiLeo Lap 6 through 23 Leonardo Maia Lap 24 through 32
FASTEST RACE LAP David Martinez 01:1.584 (85.965 mph) Lap 32 NEW RECORD
FASTEST QUALIFIER Leonardo Maia 01:14.692 (85.841 mph) NEW RECORD TOTAL PAYOUT $48,250

7/28/03

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7/28/03

Cheever on the new Chevy  "We're still convinced - probably more so now than ever - that we're with the right company," said team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. "What Chevy managed to do in the middle of the season is very unique. What we saw today in Michigan with the Gen IV Chevy was an exceptional accomplishment. "Everybody forgets that GM is one of America's largest companies and the world's largest auto manufacturer," Cheever continued. "When they wrap their arms around something, you expect it to happen. I never expected it to happen at the pace it did. It was a very gutsy move."   Of course, what Cheever didn't say was that Chevy was not good enough to produce a winning engine on their own, so they went out to arch-rival Ford and bought an engine from Ford's Cosworth division.  What's downright distasteful is that Chevy goes around making everyone think it's their great engine design without giving Cosworth even one iota of credit.  We can see leaving the Ford name out of it, but to not even credit Cosworth?  "The Gen IV Chevy Indy V8 passed its first test with flying colors," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL program manager. "We hoped for a good run with the new engine, but never imagined that it would be this strong. You have to credit the Panther Racing team for preparing a great car and Sam Hornish for driving it so well."  Again, no credit to Cosworth, just Panther Racing and Sam Hornish. 

7/28/03

Is it really a Chevy?  UPDATE Another reader writes, Dear AR1, Why aren't Toyota and Honda crying foul with the IRL's decision to allow Cosworth to be used by Chevy with drastic advantage? I recall when all they did was cry constantly about any decision CART made about racing advantages etc.... remember the Detroit debacle of a few years ago when they threatened not to race and the media was all over it. Where is the media in all this?  Why isn't Robin Miller trashing the IRL with its favoritism decision making the way he did with CART the last few years.  Things that make you go hmmmmm!  Why aren't Honda and Toyota threatening to leave the IRL; I remember every week last year they complained about CART. Do they not want to look like they made the wrong decision? Ray Jaber, Florida   7/27/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, Did anyone notice Scheckter being interviewed by Gary Gerould? When he was asked about racing against the new "Gen 4 Chevy," he replied with something like, "The Ford Cosworth....". I just about laughed myself out of my chair. I think it's a shame that Honda and Toyota are not getting the same chance to improve their powerplants as well. Tony Dinelli, Tulsa, OK  Dear Tony, It sounds like the Toyota teams are a bit miffed that Chevy was allowed to do an entire engine change mid-season and they are locked into no changes.  Hornish appeared to be able to lead at will today, and was surprised he got beat at the line.  Watching the in-car camera he wasn't even running 100% throttle much of the time, yet was still able to lead.  Was he sandbagging with the Chevy/Cosworth engine knowing if he won the first time out the IRL would immediately allow Toyota and Honda to make engine changes to even things out?  This is exactly the way NASCAR operates and the IRL is modeled directly after NASCAR's "Managed Racing" approach.  Who are we to argue though, we proposed that CART do that by having Cosworth build engines for the entire field and sell the naming rights to up to 5 manufacturers.  We feel our proposal is a lower cost one, and avoids the constant haggling with manufacturers to even the playing field when someone gains an advantage.  Mark C.

7/27/03

30,000 at Michigan  This Indy Star article, and our estimates, put today's Firestone Indy 400 crowd at Michigan International Speedway at 30,000.  The place seats 136,400 and with so many grandstands empty, an estimate of 20% to 25% full overall was used.  Still, the crowd was definitely better than last year thanks to the intense marketing campaign undertaken by the track, something they would never do when CART was there.

7/27/03

CART Stewards busy on Sunday   CART stewards were very busy during Sunday’s race, handing down four penalties during the event. Bruno Junqueira was penalized for jumping the start while Rodolfo Lavin, Max Papis and Mario Haberfeld were all tabbed for blocking incidents.

7/27/03

Another big attendance day in Vancouver   UPDATE Race day attendance was announced as 66,077, bringing the 3-day total to 162,271.  7/27/03 - 51,171 people attended Saturday's qualifying for the Molson Indy Vancouver bringing the weekend total so far (just Friday & Saturday) to over 96,000.  Race day is expected to see another big crowd.   Mark C.

7/27/03

European fans lose TV feed   I am a big CART fan, but after a blatant jump start from Junqueira and a needless crash of Bourdais into a blameless Moreno, doubtless to go ruthlessly unpunished, and the eventual repositioning of PT under green, we lose the TV feed in mid-race and get shots of fans milling around and helicopter views of Vancouver. British Eurosport, having given us 38 minutes of highlights from Toronto last time around, including adverts, honorably sets aside 2 hours for live coverage of Vancouver, only to have the plug pulled at the track and then it abandons the race.  Ed McFarlane, Goadby, England

7/27/03

Jack Arute a true IRL shill  A reader writes, Dear AR1, I was watching the IRL race today from Michigan and was dozing off with the 100% throttle boring racing when I was awakened by IRL shill Jack Arute late in the race who shouted, "They don't need seats here at Michigan because no one is sitting down."  The camera then panned the fans in the grandstands and not a single person was standing, all oblivious to what was happening on the track.  I almost fell off the sofa laughing.  This is the same guy who called Greg Ray the Tiger Woods of auto racing.  Mordichai Rosen, LA, Calif.

7/27/03
DTM

Jean Alesi wins Donington DTM race  

1. Jean Alesi (Mercedes) 36 laps in 55.08,354 min.
2. Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) + 1.466 sec.
3. Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 1.841 sec.
4. Marcel Fässler (Mercedes) + 4.497 sec.
5. Christijan Albers (Mercedes) + 5.459 sec.
6. Peter Dumbreck (Opel) + 24.430 sec.
7. Thomas Jäger (Mercedes) + 41.669 sec.
8. Timo Scheider (Opel) + 49.075 sec.

7/27/03

Mark Taylor wins again in Pro Series race  Mark Taylor won the crash-filled Infiniti Pro Series 100 mile support race, leading 31 of 50 laps in his win. Two crashes took out 7 of 16 entries, sending one driver to a local hospital for further evaluation. On lap 7 Ross Fonferko spun between turns 3 and 4, collecting 4 other drivers in a fiery crash that split Brandon Erwin's car in two. Erwin was later transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. The race continued, but on lap 24 rookie Paul Dana swerved on the backstretch, making contact with Arie Luyendyk Jr. and taking both into the backstretch wall, eliminating both from the race. Luyendyk was the early leader, but a series of bad racing moves put him in the back of the lead pack just prior to the wreck. Taylor's win is the third in a row, and gives him the all-time IPS laps-led as well as a commanding points lead.  Tim Wohlford.

1. (7) Mark Taylor, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
2. (3) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
3. (5) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
4. (10) Aaron Fike, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
5. (13) Tom Wood, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
6. (14) Marty Roth, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
7. (2) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
8. (16) G.J. Mennen, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
9. (12) Gary Peterson, Dallara-Infiniti, 49
10. (9) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, 40, accident
11. (1) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 40, accident
12. (11) Brandon Erwin, Dallara-Infiniti, 6, accident
13. (4) Ross Fonferko, Dallara-Infiniti, 6, accident
14. (8) Jonathan Urlin, Dallara-Infiniti, 6, accident
15. (6) Cory Witherill, Dallara-Infiniti, 6, accident
16. (15) Matt Beardsley, Dallara-Infiniti, 6, accident
Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 107.913 mph.
Time of race: 00:55:36.0133.
Margin of victory: 1.2202
Cautions: 2 for 20 laps.
Lead changes: 1 among 2 drivers.
Lap leaders: Luyendyk 1-19, Taylor 20-50.
Point Standings: Taylor 323, Medeiros 210, Simmons 206, Carpenter 201, Wood 185, Fike 184, Witherill 171, Erwin 171, Urlin 166, Luyendyk 161.

7/27/03

CART can't survive another year with just Ford   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I am hearing that CART may extend the Ford Cosworth turbo engine formula another year, through 2005.  I thought they were going to a V-10 platform in 2005?  Roger Stanley, Newark DE.  Dear Roger, CART can't afford another year without major manufacturer involvement in the series, let alone two years. As we see this year, the loss of Honda and Toyota has resulted in massive red ink in the series, and to think it can stay with just Ford, who spends such little to help CART, in 2004 and 2005, is surely a death wish for the series.  If they do that, they may as well shut the doors now, declare bankruptcy, and put everyone out of their misery. The new owners of CART are going to be forced to spend a lot of their own personal wealth to prop up the series two more years if they just stay with Ford.  If CART is going to stick with the 2.65 L Cosworth Turbo for two more years it must immediately strike a deal with Cosworth that would allow them to sell rebadging/naming rights to as many manufacturers as possible, a concept we presented here previously.  It's late in the ball game, but if a company does not have to worry about the design, testing and rebuilding of an engine, they could jump into the series quickly. This way the series can maintain a low-cost engine formula but reap the benefit of manufacturer support for two years.  Then in 2006, when the series is on better financial footing, it can switch to new V-10 engines, either staying with Cosworth supplying them to any manufacturer, or opening it up to direct competition.   Mark C.

7/27/03

Irvine says good riddance to Pizzonia  "Pizzonia has wrecked his chances forever," Irvine told The Sun. "He made a fool of himself and paid the price. He has even dismissed the chance of staying in the sport by refusing to accept the role of Jaguar's reserve and test driver. A very big mistake.  "Pizzonia is a gonner," adds the four-time GP winner, "and his only chance of continuing to race will be in the American CART or IRL series.   No doubt he will be telling everyone how he has been turned over and was never given a fighting chance, but he was handed a golden opportunity, and blew it," adds Irvine.  "I said from the beginning Pizzonia was a waste of space and should never have been signed by Jaguar," he continues.  The only thing which puzzles me is why it took so long to ditch him.  "The trouble with Jaguar is there are so many politics within the team and they are so paranoid about the press that they hesitate and jump around before making a decision," says Irvine. "They are not good at making a decision in a crisis and either underreact or overreact. First, they were going to boot Pizzonia out before the Spanish Grand Prix and then they bottled it by saying he needed more time. It was clear after the opening three races Pizzonia was never going to make the grade as long as he had a hole in his exhaust.  They should have been ruthless and ditched him there and then but, by signing Wilson for the final five races, they can still salvage something from the season. Justin can now step in and show he has the skills the Pizza-man lacked.. delivering the goods.  The great thing is they now have an English driver in one of the most famous names in British motoring," says Irvine, referring to the American owned company.  "That is the way it should be, and I have always felt Ferrari should have an Italian driver in the team to make it an even more emotional brand," he adds, which in a way is partly what Ferrari did at the end of the 1999 season they suddenly dropped Irvine in favor of Rubens Barrichello who is of Italian descent.  "I knew little about Wilson when he made his Minardi debut in Australia, but when I saw him making his opening qualifying run in Melbourne, it was obvious he had a special talent. The in-car footage of his skills behind the wheel were as impressive as Renault new-boy Fernando Alonso.  Now Wilson has the chance to go all the way to the top by showing what he is really capable of, but he has to be given time. No one should expect him to step straight into the cockpit at Hockenheim next week and blow Webber into the weeds. If he does, he will be a megastar but I cannot see it happening because he needs time in the car and with the working of a much bigger team.  Webber has 11 races with the team under his belt," adds Irvine. "He knows the car and engineers so it would be unrealistic to expect Wilson to come straight in and blitz him. But all Wilson needs to do is sit on Webber's tail for the remaining races, hopefully pick up a few points and he will be set for next season.  If he then spends 2004 kicking Webber's ass, which I feel he is capable of, he will be destined for greater things.  The one thing Wilson will have to cope with for the first time in F1 is pressure. When you are driving a Minardi, there are no great expectations but, with the ever-improving Jaguar, there is an urgency to deliver. The only person who can stop Wilson climbing up the ladder is himself. But I am convinced he has the confidence and skills to cope with his new environment and give British fans a new hero to cheer. Jaguar should be higher up the grid but, for the past couple of years, they have been a one-car team.  Last season they finished seventh in the Constructors' World Championship thanks to the eight points I scored while Pedro de la Rosa failed to make the scoreboard," he adds referring to Pedro de la Rosa who along with Irvine was dropped by Jaguar at the end of last season, and who was subsequently hired by McLaren as test driver.  This season they are currently in sixth solely due to Webber's points.   Jaguar are now a team capable of running in the top 10 at every race and consistently mopping up some of the lesser points. All Wilson needs to do is add a couple of scores to Webber's tally and ensure the team finishes higher than last season and his future is secure.  Justin's move to Jaguar will not only give him a chance to shine but finally prove if Mark Webber truly is the real deal.  There is no doubt Aussie Webber is a hard-working, extremely focused racer but so far he has never had a teammate who could give him a tough time. In fact, both the partners he has had should never have been in Formula One in the first place. He blew Alex Yoong away at Minardi last season and this year has been head and shoulders above Pizzonia."

7/27/03

Blocking in CART   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I'm getting tired of hearing driver's whine about being blocked. They all wait until the last 10 minutes and then there is a traffic jam.  Cristiano went out early in the session last year on his way to a championship...so he had a clear track. Why can't Bruno, Alex and Michel do the same and stop acting like a bunch of school girls. Then they go running to the "teacher" that they're being cheated and the "Big Bully" (P.T.) is blocking them. I'm sick of it week in and week out. To me this is a CLEAR MESSAGE to CART to implement single-lap, single-car qualifying. If these guys can't get it right then CART should step in and handle it!  More power to Paul Tracy!! Except he shouldn't have said that stuff about Penske and the others that left. That's not going to help the situation. but I guess he was pissed and I don't blame him. If Bruno thinks he so much better than Paul then why doesn't he go up to him before qualifying and tell him he'll kick his ass if he blocks him. Because Bruno is SOFT like Michel and Alex!!  James Shaw  Dear James, You are correct, if the CART drivers can't handle the current qualifying format, then CART should move to single-car, single-lap qualifying ASAP at all tracks. Of course then some will complain if it rains on their lap and is dry for another's...but that's what mixes the starting grid up, which is the intention of the rule.   And while they are at it, because the Champ Car drivers can't stay aligned for the race starts, resulting in numerous false starts and fields strung out sometimes 1/4 of a lap behind, CART should implement standing starts too.  If CART is going to become the American Grand Prix Series, and be a little brother to F1, it had better start playing the part.  Mark C.

7/26/03

Bobby Unser predicts CART won't make it  In our Michigan Saturday Notebook article by Tim Wohlford, Bobby Unser's press conference was covered.  Bobby Unser was honored this weekend by MIS, with the pole award being named after him.  He hosted a breakfast for members of the media promoting his new book, "Winners are Driven," and of course some of his comments went beyond the scope of the book.   He started by answering questions about the state of open-wheeled racing, saying, "I don't think that CART's gonna make it... one has to fail, we don't need two organizations."  He continued, commenting that CART has most of their races outside the USA and then mostly on road courses that "CART doesn't bother IRL, and doesn't compete with them anymore... If CART doesn't make it we'll lose races like Long Beach, which would be a shame, because those races are really good.  Unfortunately, most of CART's races are outside of the USA, but races like the Mexican races and the Europe races are really good."  [Editor's Note:  It's clear Mr. Unser has many of his facts wrong] . Mark C.

7/26/03

Ford and V-10 for CART  A reader writes, Dear AR1, Given the "good" 4th place starting spot of the new "Chevy AKA Ford" engine in the IRL, could Ford be thinking of pulling the plug on CART if they don't stay with the V-8 format in the future and just put their eggs in the IRL basket? I don't know the legal details of the Chevy-Ford deal or CART-Ford deal, so Ford might not be able to jump into the IRL next year, but if they show very well on race day the temptation might be strong. I just went to the NASCAR race in Loudon with a friend that I only see twice a year and he said he just bought a F250 with a V-10 engine, so I don't see how Ford can be complaining about them being the next CART engine. I know there is a huge difference between a truck engine and a race engine, but they have already joined the V-10 engine race started by Dodge so it shouldn't be a big surprise for them. In the consumer market it seems that since the "energy crisis" of the early 1970s bigger (more cylinders, more displacement) is always better, even if the smaller engine has better performance characteristics. Somehow the thinking has to be changed back to usable performance, otherwise we might be having 16 cylinder engines with pinky sized cylinders instead of turbo-charged 4 cylinder engines. It has become a status symbol to have the big cylinder engine...it must be changed by advertising by the auto companies because they can't keep adding cylinders. But on the good side for CART, going to the 10 cylinder engine will make all the "big engine" guys happy. But is that the true CART fan? Regards, Bob Lowe, Woburn, MA. Dear Bob, I don't know if Ford will stay in CART.  When I asked Ford motorsport boss Dan Davis in Milwaukee this year if they would do a V-10 engine for CART he said emphatically, no.  I spoke to Ian Bisco from Cosworth and they truly believe that most Americans like a V-8 powerplant.  It's very American.  However, I can see CART's point of wanting to create something unique in America and carve out its own niche. If CART is going to stick with a V-8, then it should go with the 1.8 L turbo platform, but if it wants to go normally aspirated, I feel the 3.5 or 3.0 L V-10 will serve it well and be accepted by the F1 fraternity.  If they go the V-10 route would they lose Ford?  Perhaps, but if Bernie Ecclestone is indeed buying into the series as rumors suggest, somehow we suspect they will find a way to stay.  A screaming V-10, standing starts, and a lighter more nimble chassis will enable CART to carve out its niche in North American motorsports.  CART needs to completely separate itself from the IRL and NASCAR image of managed, dumbed down racing with heavy lumbering cars.  Urban Monte Carlo-like venues that Chris Pook is bringing CART to are more glamorous and attract more of a jet-set crowd....i.e. a F1-type of crowd.  While CART's V-10 won't turn as many RPM as an F1 engine, you have to love the scream it will potentially make, even if only 13,000 RPM.  I have yet to hear anyone say a F1 engine isn't a beautiful thing. CART, er, I mean the American Grand Prix Series, would do well if it became recognized as North America's version of F1. Let NASCAR and the IRL do their oval gig, and let CART focus on their road racing/street racing niche, and hopefully everyone can live in harmony. Mark C.

7/26/03

How mad was Paul Tracy?  How mad was Paul Tracy for being stripped of provisional pole Friday in Vancouver for blocking?  That evening at a CART function Chris Pook stuck out his hand to greet Tracy and Paul refused to shake it.  This follows Chris Pook storming out onto pit lane in Cleveland and verbally chastising Tracy because he gave another driver the finger, for the way he dresses at public functions and for charges by the other drivers for blocking.  That was followed by a terse press release put out by Players basically telling Chris Pook to butt out and mind his own business, that he was out of line to verbally attacking Tracy on pit lane and said that was the duty of the Chief Steward.  Mark C.

7/26/03

Scheckter leads Happy Hour  Tomas Scheckter led the final IndyCar Series practice session. Scheckter turned a lap at 32.4822 seconds, 221.660 mph. Scott Sharp was second fastest in his No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone at 32.5256, 221.364. Alex Barron, driver of the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, was third fastest at 32.5471, 221.218.

7/26/03

Where you can watch Mario Andretti GP on HDNet  throughout the weekend at Road America, including extensive coverage on both qualifying days on August 1-2, in addition to all of the action on race day, August 3. The broadcasts will be available through HDNet's cable and satellite distributors, including DIRECTV, DISH network, Charter Communications and other cable affiliates. While HDNet offered Champ Car coverage last season for the Cleveland and Denver events, using a combination of four high definition cameras and conventional cameras to supplement the high definition pictures, the Road America event will be the first time that an entire race broadcast will be done using high definition cameras. Play-by-play and commentary will be provided by the CART Champ Car International Broadcast team of Jeremy Shaw and Stephen Cox, with additional on-camera appearances by Mario Andretti during the race. Local market media that wish to cover the viewing parties at the regional establishments are invited to attend and should contact the local venue in advance that will show the race.  Any fans that live in areas that are not serviced by those already committed, should contact their local sports-themed establishments. The following establishments have committed to air the 2-1/2 hour race on Sunday, August 3rd.
California
The Davis Graduate (530) 758-4723
805 Russell Blvd.
Davis

K.E.G.'s (949) 586-KEGS (5347)
26772 Portola Pkwy
Foothill Ranch

Legends Sports Bar (562) 433-5743
5236 E. Second St. Belmont Shore
Long Beach

Danny K's (714) 771-9706
1096 Main St.
Orange

Ricky's Sports Theatre and Grill (510) 352-0200
15028 Hesperian Blvd.
San Leandro

Colorado
Legends of Aurora Sports Grill (303) 671-0560
13690 E Iliff Ave
Aurora

Brooklyn's (303) 607-0002
901 Auraria Pkwy
Denver

Legends Denver (303) 320-4710
201 Milaukee St.
Denver

Cuckoo's Chicken House & Waterin' Hole (970) 259-6322
128 E. College Drive
Durango

Florida
Legends Bar & Grill (813) 964-5371
15211 North Dale Mabry
Tampa

Indiana

City Grill 812-336-6869
216 S. College
Bloomington

Yogi's Grill & Bar (812) 323-9644
519 E. 10th St.
Bloomington

Ale Emporium (317) 842-1333
8617 Allisonville Rd
Indianapolis

Missouri
Schneithorst's Restaurant (314) 993-4100
1600 S. Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis

Syberg's Westport (314) 785-0481
2430 Old Dorsett Rd
St. Louis

Ohio
The Frog, Bear, & Wild Boar Bar (614) 621-9453
343 North Front Street
Columbus


Lighthouse Bar & Grill (440) 466-4638
SR534 & I-90
Geneva

7/26/03

Paul Tracy slams CART officials  Paul Tracy slammed CART's officiating on today's SPEED Channel qualifying broadcast.  Penalized yesterday and stripped of provisional pole position, Paul Tracy was clearly irritated.  Today he vented his frustration on live TV and he cut the heart right out of CART and stabbed it with a knife.  Tracy accused CART of inconsistent officiating, and said, "I'm sure Tony George experienced it, Toyota experienced it, Honda experienced it, Penske and Marlboro experienced it, Dario Franchitti and Michael Andretti experienced it and I'm sure that is what drove all those great names out of the series."  I supported CART when no one else would and I feel betrayed now.  While he didn't say it, he sent a warning shot across CART's bow that he too could leave the series. [Editor's note: Paul get a grip on reality.  It was the IRL who you believe cheated you out of an Indy 500 win, and who have allowed Chevy to make a mid-year complete engine change while Toyota and Honda can't touch their engines.  You called it Formula Crapwagon, now you want to drive one?].   Steve Levinson.

7/26/03
ARCA

Mears doubles up at Pocono  Casey Mears won his second ARCA/REMAX race in as many days as he won the Pennsylvania 200 at Pocono Raceway. In sweeping both ARCA/REMAX races, Mears also won the GIANT $25,000 challenge. Mears and The Children's Miracle Network will each receive a check for $12,500 from GIANT food stores. After racing 400 miles and winning two races, Mears was looking forward to Sunday's race. "It was awesome, the track was great, the fans are great, I love racing here. I hope we can win tomorrow too."  Frank Ryan

7/26/03

Bruno stays fast  The Paul Tracy vs. Bruno Junqueira battle continued in Saturday morning's practice, with Junqueira coming out fastest by two tenths of a second, and Tracy ending his session in the tires at Turn 7.   Sebastien Bourdais was third fastest ahead of Michel Jourdain and Oriol Servia.   Qualifying is up next.

7/26/03

CART's Simple Green Safety Team to be featured on NASCAR broadcast  Heralded across the motorsports landscape as the standard to which at-the-track safety services should be held, the CART Champ Car Simple Green Safety Team will be featured in a video piece to be aired as part of TNT’s NASCAR pre-race show leading up to this weekend’s Pennsylvania 500 event at Pocono Raceway. The network’s color analyst and racer Wally Dallenbach Jr. (son of former Champ Car star and Chief Steward Wally Dallenbach Sr.) accompanied a film crew to the Molson Indy Toronto two weeks ago to find out what makes the Safety Team one of the best quick-response outfits anywhere in motorsports. The piece contains interviews with series Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Steve Olvey and series Chief Orthopedic Consultant Dr. Terry Trammell as well as with Director of Safety Lon Bromley and Champ Car World Series drivers Jimmy Vasser and Adrian Fernandez. The feature will air at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday afternoon. The piece is another in the recent spate of television broadcast features that shine the spotlight on the CART Champ Car Simple Green Safety Team, including a video segment on HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on Alex Zanardi, which included footage of the team aiding in the 2001 accident at EuroSpeedway in which the Safety Team saved Zanardi’s life immediately after a devastating crash. The CART Champ Car Simple Green Safety Team is in its 19th year in existence and carries 40 professionals along with their specially-prepared response vehicles to each race along the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford schedule. The response vehicles are just one component of the safety team, which also includes a state-of-the-art mobile medical unit that allows CART physicians to administer immediate aid to potentially-injured drivers.

7/26/03

Dixon not happy with "managed" racing  UPDATE A reader responds, Dear AR1, I couldn't help noticing the qualifying lineup for the MIS IRL race tomorrow. Sam Hornish posted a 4th quickest qualifying time in his Ford-Cosworth (oops, I meant "Chevrolet"), all while the other Chevrolets are backmarkers and make AJ IV's qualifying position look respectable. Surely, Chevy is hanging their head in embarrassment at their complete and utter failure of producing a contender. Surely, the other Chevy teams are not happy with the preferential treatment given to Panther, and surely, the Honda and Toyota operations are going to raise a stink about the IRL's NASCAR-esque administration of engine development mid-season. Dennis Szot, Dallas, TX  Dear Dennis, The Honda and Toyota teams will be even more miffed if Hornish was sandbagging in qualifying like some people in the IRL paddock suspect, and Sam blows them into the weeds on Sunday.  Time will tell....As for the other Chevy teams being miffed, Hornish will lose the Ford Cosworth engine for the next race and revert back to the old engine.  The 2nd best Chevy team will get the engine at the next event, and so on, until Cosworth can build enough for everyone.  Mark C.  7/26/03 -   The IRL, like NASCAR, is a "managed" racing series.  In managed racing, the sanctioning body does its best to make everyone equal.  If someone falls behind, they give them a rules break, which boost them back up.  Apparently some of the Honda and Toyota drivers are not happy that the Chevy teams are being allowed to implement a totally new engine mid-season while they can't.  Scott Dixon had this to say about it in this SPEED TV article, "The way they did it wasn't too fair," Dixon said. "I don't really know how the rules work, but I think it's kind of shady. It doesn't (allow other manufacturers to introduce new parts), but it should. Otherwise it's not fair. If they whitewash this, I'm sure there's going to be some stirring in the camps, that's for sure. But it's not our problem."  The unintentional consequence that you have with managed racing on ovals is that it artificially bunches the field up for close side-by-side racing....sometimes.  Unlike full-bodied Winston Cup cars, where rubbing fenders isn't a big deal, rubbing wheels in the IRL almost certainly leads to a big, and very costly crash.

7/26/03

Why no tire warmers?  A reader writes, Dear AR1, How come the IRL now allows tire warmers, as does F1, and CART does not? Mark Nance, Seattle , WA.  Dear Mark, Don't get us started.  We have called for CART to implement Tire Warmers since 1999, but it just fell on deaf ears.  Now all the drivers are saying CART should implement Tire Warmers so drivers can come out of the pits during qualifying and go fast right away, which means it's less likely they will block someone on a fast lap. Drivers coming out of the pits on cold tires leads to a lot of unintentional blocking and heated tempers. They finally figured that out?  Cost is not even an issue in our book.  One avoided crash on cold tires pays for tire warmers for the entire field.  They have been paid for at least 10 times now and they still don't have them.  Mark C.

7/26/03

If not for NASCAR, the IRL might be dead  This Indianapolis Business Journal article says, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George's open-wheel racing enterprise has gotten a boost from its fendered brethren that few outside racing circles are aware of. So powerful is the connection between NASCAR and the Indy Racing League that a growing number of motorsports insiders believe the 8-year-old open-wheel series that has all but toppled CART could not have made it without the good ole' boys of the stock car circuit. With the 10th annual Brickyard 400 approaching Aug. 3, the IMS should get another nice bump in its revenue stream. Annual revenue from the NASCAR event is estimated by various industry sources to be more than $35 million. With far less overhead than hosting either the Indianapolis 500 or the U.S. Grand Prix Formula One event, much of that money falls straight to the bottom line. "The Brickyard 400 is the epitome of utilizing a fixed-cost asset," said Tim Frost, president of Chicago-based Frost Motorsports, a consulting firm specializing in motorsports business operations. "For the single-day event, it has to be very near in terms of revenue generation to the Indianapolis 500." "Obviously, you have a facility there that has been paid for for a number of years. You add a second event, and suddenly you have a near replica of the largest motorsports event in the world," said Bill Donaldson, chairman and CEO of Indianapolis-based Interactive Motorsports and Entertainment Corp., which operates NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway, a chain of licensed interactive entertainment stores. "The stadium was just sitting there, so the additional costs were minimal." Part of the Brickyard 400 proceeds, acknowledged IMS spokesman Fred Nation, have been funneled to IRL costs. "We didn't bank on the success of the Brickyard 400 in starting the Indy Racing League, but [the Brickyard 400] is a very profitable event for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and that money has been reinvested into the IMS and other projects such as the Indy Racing League. "The success of the Brickyard 400 has been good for the company and for the Indy Racing League. But the Indy Racing League probably would have survived without the Brickyard 400," he said. Others aren't so sure. The IRL, Nation admitted, still isn't profitable. "Eight years is a long time to run an operation at a deficit without alternative funding, no matter how deep your pockets," Frost said.  More (recommended).....

7/26/03

Berger urges Williams to keep drivers  "For the BMW WilliamsF1 Team the driver lineup of  Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya is ideal," Berger told the BMW Motorsport website. "So we would like to keep their services over 2004. They are complementing one another perfectly and are pushing each other to the very limit." Should Ralf and Montoya succeed in extending their contracts, Berger says, it will be solely down to their on-track performances and nothing else. "Our highest priority is: who is able to deliver the best performance. Should a driver be a nice chap as well, this would be a welcomed bonus but nothing else," he added.

7/26/03

Pocono notes - Saturday
Newman Tops Happy Hour Charts
  Happy Hour is over and Ryan Newman continues to set the pace at Pocono. Newman backed up his fifth pole of the year with the quickest time in practice. The Bud Pole is Newman’s 12th in 64 Winston Cup starts, with his most recent pole coming at Chicagoland two weeks ago. Newman is the 14th different Bud Pole winner in the past 15 races at Pocono.  Casey Mears to run 900 miles at Pocono Casey Mears plans to run both ARCA/REMAX races this weekend at Pocono and will also compete in the Winston Cup event on Sunday, a total of 900 miles of racing . Mears started out on the right foot by winning the ARCA/REMAX Giant 200 Friday and looks to repeat that feat today in the Pennsylvania 200.  Foyt's Follies  Determined to make the field in the Brickyard 400, AJ Foyt's Harrahs Dodge showed up in Pocono with the #50 painted on the side. Foyt owns three different numbers in the Winston Cup series, each having its own set of provisional starting positions to be used if needed. With Larry Foyt out of provisionals in the #14, a quick change to #50 gave the team a fresh start. But it appears the switch in numbers didn't do much for a change in luck as Larry Foyt missed qualifying for the Pennsylvania 500 on time, and once again had to use a provisional to make the race. Frank Ryan

7/26/03

Hornish Qualifies New Cosworth Chevy Fourth at MIS    It seemed like old times for Sam Hornish Jr. today as he qualified the new Gen IV Chevy Indy V8 (built by Ford Cosworth) fourth on the starting grid for the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Hornish, the fastest driver in Friday's combined practice sessions, will start the Pennzoil Panther Racing Chevrolet Dallara on the outside of the second row after his 221.837 mph qualifying lap on the 2-mile oval. Tomas Scheckter won the pole with a 222.458 mph lap in Ganassi Racing's Toyota G Force. "We're excited about qualifying in the top five on a superspeedway, which is something we haven't done this year," said Hornish, the only driver testing the new Chevy powerplant under race conditions this weekend. "Everything is going very smooth so far. We'll put our race motor in for the final practice this afternoon and then see what it does tomorrow in the race." While Hornish set the pace under calm and sunny skies in practice yesterday, qualifying today was conducted in windy, overcast conditions. "Yesterday in practice we had a very good handling race car," Hornish reported. "That's something we've worked on a lot this year to make sure that when we got the power we needed we'd have a car that could make the most of it. The wind picked up a little bit today. We didn't do many qualifying runs, so we didn't know exactly how the car would run, but we're happy with it."

7/26/03

Pennzoil terminates sponsorship with DEI  Pennzoil Products will end a six-season primary sponsorship agreement with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., and the #1 Chevrolet team at the end of the 2003 season. Pennzoil, a Houston, Texas-based petroleum products corporation, became Dale Earnhardt, Inc.’s first full-time NASCAR Winston Cup sponsor in 1998, backing driver Steve Park in the #1 Chevrolet. Pennzoil, a Winston Cup primary since 1991, claimed its only victories in NASCAR’s elite division with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., winning at Watkins Glen, N.Y. in 2000 and Rockingham, N.C. in 2001. Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the company founded by the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt, is optimistic that it can produce more victories for Pennzoil and attract a primary replacement before the end of the 2003 season. “Like Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Pennzoil has been through a lot of changes since we first signed our agreement in the fall of 1997,” said Ty Norris, Dale Earnhardt, Inc.’s Executive Vice President of Motorsports. “We promised to win races for Pennzoil, and we did. They promised to support Dale Earnhardt, Inc. through the growing pains of a new operation, and they did. Pennzoil will always have a place in the history of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. We want to win before the end of the year and finish our great relationship on a high note.”

7/26/03

How real is the August 7th date?  A reader writes, Dear AR1, I am hearing that deals are falling through and other deals are being put on the back burner because CART's future looks so insecure.  I could see the whole series folding like a deck of cards if something does not happen soon.  Please tell me that the August 7th announcement date is real.  Jeff Simmons, Kansas City Mo.  Dear Jeff, We are not sure if the August 7th date is real, that is why it's on our Rumors page and not our Hot News page.  However, we think our sources are either spot-on or very close (on the date).  Something has to happen soon or the series will fold like a deck of cards.  Everyone in the CART paddock knows time is of the essence and the August 7th date is all we have to go on right now.  We will keep you up to date if we hear of a date change, or that the date is in fact not real at all.  Our greatest fear is that Bernie Ecclestone has told CART to burn off all their cash so the series can be taken private at a low price, then at the last minute decides to change his mind, for whatever reason, and leaves Chris Pook and CART standing there with nothing.  If that were to happen, the final nail in CART's coffin will have been driven, not by Tony George, but by Bernie Ecclestone.  With that said, we don't think Bernie conducts business in that manner, and people like Craig Pollock and David Clare would not be in CART if they didn't think Bernie was on his way to the rescue.  The entire CART community is waiting for Chris Pook to pull off this deal to save CART.  If he succeeds in bringing Bernie into the fold, he will be a hero to many.  However, if he fails, and Bernie does pull the rug out from under the deal at the last minute, he will have to live with that defeat, and the entire CART community will blame him for burning through all of CART's cash and not getting in writing from Bernie that he was definitely buying.  The next several weeks should be interesting, both for CART, and for Chris Pook's reputation.  Mark C.

7/26/03

Max Papis fighting his way to the top  Since joining PK Racing at mid-season, Max Papis is helping the team claw their way to the top.  On Friday in Vancouver, Papis qualified 12th, just 1.29 sec back from the leader.  That's the closest the team has been to the front half of the grid all year, and it is clear that getting rid of Lemarie and hiring the more experienced Papis has helped. "I know that at 33 years of age I have more fire and determination and definitely I'm a lot smarter than when I was 24," he said. I always say when you start, you have big balls and a small brain. And slowly the brain becomes a little bit bigger and the balls shrink a little bit. So you need to find a compromise within the two. I think at the moment we're on the even side, and I'm looking forward to keeping that relationship the same - not to have the brain too big and the balls too small." This Vancouver Sun article talks about their struggle to reach the top.

7/26/03

Biela sets fast time at Infineon  On a day that saw unofficial track records set in two classes, Frank Biela set the fast time Friday as American Le Mans Series teams had their first day of testing for Sunday's Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway. Biela, driving an Audi R8 Prototype from the Infineon Team Joest stable, turned the 2.53-mile circuit at 1:24.319, fastest of the cars that participated in the two-hour, 30-minute testing session. Official practice begins Saturday morning with qualifying for Sunday's race to be held Saturday afternoon. Unofficial track records were set in both the LMP 675 and GT classes. With the fastest time overall and in the LMP 900 class, Biela and fellow German Marco Werner will co-drive the Audi as they seek their second American Le Mans Series win of 2003. They started the season by winning the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, then finished second in the event last month at Road Atlanta.

7/26/03

Walker confident CART will survive  This Canoe.ca article says, CART team owner Derrick Walker isn't fazed by some of the doomsday talk surrounding the series. It flared up again this week when CART, which trades publicly on the New York Stock Exchange, issued cautious guidance to investors about lower-than-expected revenues and the need for a capital infusion if it's to complete the 2004 season. Nothing to worry about, Walker said Friday. "My interpretation of what has been released recently is (that it's) a normal process of reporting of a public company," he said. The information was already available, he said, but CART felt it had to speak openly to investors who've been spooked by the practices of other companies. Up to now, media speculation has centered on whether Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone was preparing a takeover of CART. Nothing's changed, said Walker. "The challenge to CART was there before; it still is there," he said. "But obviously what we're not able to do is talk about some of the stuff that's in the works that is going to fix that problem." Walker said he wouldn't have announced plans to add a possible third car to his team -- driven by Canadian Michael Valiante -- if he didn't think the series had a future.

7/26/03

New Sponsor for Fittipaldi Dingman  The Fittipaldi Dingman Racing team, with driver Tiago Monteiro, sported a new sponsor in Vancouver on Friday. O2Diesel has come onboard (see photo to right - back wing).  Their website describes what they are all about.

7/26/03

Sauber makes progress in wind tunnel  This Pitpass.com article says that work on the new Sauber wind tunnel continues to progress as scheduled: The facility's core element, the so-called "Rolling Road", fitted with a steel belt simulating the relative motion between the road and the vehicle, has been installed. It is the largest of its kind ever built. Moreover, Sauber are planning to continuously expand their aerodynamics department, and thus create the basis for future two-shift operations in the new facility. More . . .

7/26/03

IRL continues to struggle with empty grandstands    While CART continues to draw huge crowds for all three days of its street and road course races (witness the record 45, 023 in Vancouver Friday), the IRL continues to have near-empty grandstands except for Sunday.  In photo to the right, Tony Kanaan peers out as if to say, where is everybody?  The IRL would be wise to reduce their events to Sunday only - practice, qualifying and the race all on one day.  It's pointless to run laps if there's no one there to watch and no TV coverage.  Plus those extra laps cost money and the drivers risk having a big crash.  USAC used to run 1-day events many times when they ran open wheel racing.  Photo by Chris Stanford /Getty Images

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