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DATE

News (chronologically)

9/2/03
Industry News

Twenty degrees in Homestead  This TC Palm article says, It's now 20 degrees in tropical southern Dade County. And by most accounts, the folks are ecstatic. Most people have the same reaction when they see it for the first time. Usually, it's a big 'Wow!' The feedback has been really positive," says Curtis Gray, president of the reconfigured, 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway. Reacting to input by NASCAR drivers and race fans, the International Speedway Corporation that operates the 434-acre motor sports plant has done away with the nearly flat, 6-degree banking in the turns. Work is winding up on a $10 million, computer-designed racing "variable" surface that guarantees a change in the tone of racing at the facility that was opened in 1995 to help pump life into the economy of the Hurricane Andrew-thrashed community.....And right on the mark when it comes to transforming the track from a 72-foot-wide, tough-to-pass-on ribbon of asphalt to a 55-foot-wide track that could have as many as three racing grooves and should be more conducive to higher speeds as well. Now somewhat Darlington in nature, the narrower course will feature more passing thanks to the banking that will be 18 degrees in the low groove, 19 degrees in the middle groove and 20 degrees for those daring enough to run the high line next to the SAFER soft-wall system that also will be in place at what is being dubbed "The New! Homestead-Miami Speedway.".......The new configuration won't just affect the NASCAR teams. Competitors in the Indy Racing League open-wheel program also will have a new learning curve when they open the 2004 IndyCar Series at the track on Feb. 29. "There's no question that this design was done with NASCAR in mind," Gray said. "Winston Cup is the most visible form of racing in America and our Cup event is the biggest one we have each year. But the IRL is very important to us, too, and we're working with them as much as possible to maintain what has been a successful partnership for us both."

9/2/03

Fittipaldi to present Latin Grammy  Former CART Champ Car World Series champion and current team co-owner Emerson Fittipaldi has been one of the biggest celebrities in Brazil for many years, dating back to his championship-winning days as a Formula One driver in the 1970s and ‘80s. As one of the country’s most recognizable stars, Fittipaldi will award the next generation of Brazilian talent when he serves as a co-presenter Wednesday night in Miami with Cuban singer Willy Chirino and Brazilian vocalist Daniela Mercury in the 4th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards. The show airs live from Miami’s American Airlines Arena at 9:00 p.m. ET on CBS. Fittipaldi will be presenting the award for Best Brazilian Contemporary Pop Album and will be joined by many of the stars of the Latin entertainment and sporting world for the ceremony, which celebrates the achievements of Latin artists in the past year. The Latin GRAMMY Awards structure includes 41 award categories, including four general categories: Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist. Latin GRAMMY fields include: Pop, Rap/Hip-Hop, Rock, Tropical, Regional Mexican, Traditional, Jazz, Brazilian, Children's, Classical, Production and Music Video.

9/2/03

Burton renews with Roush Racing   Roush Racing announced today that Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford, has been signed to a new multi-year contract to continue driving for Roush Racing in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. “Jeff Burton is and has been an integral contributor to the success of Roush Racing for many years,” said Geoff Smith, Roush Racing president. “Jeff is an outstanding talent and ambassador for Roush Racing and the industry and his renewed commitment allows us to maintain our complete competitive strength.  Now that Jeff is signed, we will continue to move forward to solidify a primary sponsor for the No. 99 team for 2004 and beyond,” Smith added. “Jack Roush has done so much for me and my career over the last eight years, I’m truly looking forward to continuing our partnership into the future,” said Burton. “We have a really strong, young team and they all have a tremendous work ethic and a hunger to win which is what Jack Roush and Roush Racing is all about. That combined with Jack’s willingness and ability to provide us with everything we need to be competitive, will enable us to win many races in the future and vie for championships.” Said owner Jack Roush, “The re-signing of Jeff, in addition to our other outstanding drivers, completes our competitive Winston Cup structure and provides us with an unmatched and quite remarkable line up for the next several years.”

9/2/03

Norris denies power struggle at DEI   Teresa Earnhardt and Ty Norris, the general manager at Dale Earnhardt Inc., appear no closer to signing a third driver for 2004, and their sponsorship hunt is still cloudy. However, Norris refuted reports this past weekend of a power struggle inside the operation and insisted that Teresa Earnhardt is indeed 'very much aware of what is happening' even though she is seen by many people, including many on the teams she owns, as an absentee car owner who is out of the loop and unavailable to make many key decisions. 'There is no power struggle -- Teresa owns the company, and we respect her decisions,' Norris said. 'She has the class and dignity to handle every situation behind closed doors. She doesn't need to answer all the negative publicity. She doesn't have a need to answer all the critics.' Despite DEI's on-track success, the Winston Cup garage has been rife with reports of in-house problems, highlighted by Teresa's inability to sign Dale Earnhardt Jr. to a new contract after months of negotiations, and by reports from the Indy Racing League about DEI's failure to sign two-time IRL champ Sam Hornish after long talks. Norris denied the IRL report that Theresa vetoed his handshake deal with Hornish for a Winston Cup ride. 'I told Dale Jr. that Sam was the guy we wanted to drive our Busch car, and I was going to put him in some ARCA races too, and run him in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 and all the Cup races after the IRL season,' Norris said. 'But Dale talked with him and said he didn't seem that interested, and Sam's agent said he wasn't interested in a Busch ride.' 'As far as 'power struggle,' I do my job, and Steve Hmiel does his job, and Teresa owns the company and makes the final decisions. Don't think for one minute just because she's not sitting on the pit box that she is not fully engaged with what is happening with our teams and our sponsors. 'She is running a company that has had a tremendous curveball thrown its way the last 21/2 years, and we're sitting here with two teams in the top 10, with great sponsors, and we're moving forward on almost every front. I feel there are a lot of race teams envying our position. And that's a testament to what she's done. 'I think she's done a pretty damn good job dealing with the personal issues and company issues. There were a lot of things laid in that lady's lap, and she's somehow been able to take the company to a new level. And I think people ought to be applauding her.' John Andretti will take over as DEI teammate with Earnhardt and Michael Waltrip next week, but Norris said that 2004 is still up for debate. And team sources said that it could be a while before a decision is made. 'We have options for that car,' Norris said. 'The sponsor knows who those options are, and they're comfortable. We have two very legitimate potential sponsors, but we're on their schedule.' Winston Salem Journal

9/2/03

Bubbly is ruled out   Champagne will not be allowed on to the winner's podium at the end of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix.  The race, to be held at the Bahrain International Circuit, in Bahrain next April, will not allow any bubbly to flow during post-race ceremonies as a mark of respect for the country's Islamic traditions.

9/2/03

Denver race to stay on Labor Day weekend  This Denver Post article says, Contrary to a television report Sunday night, the Grand Prix of Denver is not looking to move from Labor Day weekend. CART's Chris Pook, the CEO for the organization that fields cars for the race, told KMGH-7 that he would pursue another date for next year's third event. But John Frew, vice president and general manager of the Grand Prix of Denver, said Monday that CART - which could be under new leadership within a week - doesn't have the authority to change dates. "Chris Pook (was) freelancing," Frew said from the Pepsi Center grounds, a day after Bruno Junqueira won for the second time on the 1.65-mile course. "CART is in no position to tell us the date has changed." The Grand Prix of Denver is owned by Dover Motorsports Inc. and has 10 years remaining on a 12-year contract, which specifies the race will be run Labor Day weekend, Frew said. The contract is among the city of Denver, Kroenke Sports Enterprises, which owns the Pepsi Center, and CART. There is an option after the seventh year. Pook complained there were too many activities taking place in the city, including the weekend-long Taste of Colorado and Saturday night's Colorado-Colorado State football game. But Frew said he would not consider a date change unless a national television network demands it. "A different date wouldn't be all bad - but only because of CBS," he said, referring to the network that is scheduled to televise as many as 10 CART races next year. "As long as we're on Labor Day (weekend), we'll never be on CBS." CBS annually televises the U.S. Open tennis tournament during Labor Day weekend. "That will always trump us," Frew said. Speed Channel has aired the race live the past two years.

9/2/03

Dale Jr. DEI rift continues, visits Ganassi   Friction between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his stepmother Teresa Earnhardt continues to hold up a deal that would legally bind Junior to the organization his father founded. Sources say that Earnhardt Jr., who has never had a formal contract with Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, was ready to ink his deal last week. But after a brief meeting with Teresa he walked away with the contract still unsigned. Most DEI insiders believe that it is all a matter of time before an agreement is reached. However, as long as Earnhardt Jr. is still technically a free agent other teams are trying to seduce the young star -- which may explain why Junior spent four hours last week at the Chip Ganassi shop. RPM.ESPN.com.  Despite DEI's on-track success, the Winston Cup garage has been rife with reports of in-house problems, highlighted by Teresa's inability to sign Dale Earnhardt Jr. to a new contract after months of negotiations, and by reports from the Indy Racing League about DEI's failure to sign two-time IRL champ Sam Hornish after long talks. Norris denied the IRL report that Theresa vetoed his handshake deal with Hornish for a Winston Cup ride. 'I told Dale Jr. that Sam was the guy we wanted to drive our Busch car, and I was going to put him in some ARCA races too, and run him in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 and all the Cup races after the IRL season,' Norris said. 'But Dale talked with him and said he didn't seem that interested, and Sam's agent said he wasn't interested in a Busch ride.' Hornish signed an Indy-car deal last week with Roger Penske, who runs Dodges in NASCAR and Toyotas in the IRL. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has still not signed his contract, Norris said. 'He has a couple of issues he wants Teresa to address, and it's up to those two, but there has been some movement. 'As far as 'power struggle,' I do my job, and Steve Hmiel does his job, and Teresa owns the company and makes the final decisions. Don't think for one minute just because she's not sitting on the pit box that she is not fully engaged with what is happening with our teams and our sponsors.' John Andretti will take over as DEI teammate with Earnhardt and Michael Waltrip next week, but Norris said that 2004 is still up for debate. And team sources said that it could be a while before a decision is made. 'We have options for that car,' Norris said. 'The sponsor knows who those options are, and they're comfortable. We have two very legitimate potential sponsors, but we're on their schedule.' Greg Biffle is reported to be on DEI's list of potential driver. 'It's all open right now,' Norris said. 'John ran for us at Indianapolis, and that was a great weekend for us to see how he would interact with our guys. Now we want to see how he does at Richmond, Loudon and Dover. If he has some consistent runs, it will bode well for his career and our sponsor search. 'The sponsor front is a lot better than it was at the beginning of the summer, when it was a really tough time for everybody. I've been talking with other GMs, and they're all pretty pleased with the sponsor movement. A lot of that has to do with the work by Brett Yormark, Andrew Feit and Chris Brahe in NASCAR's New York office, because during the entitlement search they got companies excited about NASCAR.' Kraft, an associate sponsor, won't be stepping up, Norris said. 'That's not in their plans the next three years.' Winston Salem Journal

9/2/03

Michelin to defy FIA warning   "If the FIA want to disqualify 10 cars from the final results, then go ahead," Pascal Vasselon, Michelin's Formula One program manager, told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper on Tuesday. He said that the French company's tires were legal and Michelin saw no reason for change at a decisive stage in the championship. Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, whose car uses Bridgestone tires, is clinging to the overall lead by one point from Williams' Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya and two points from McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen. Williams, who lead Ferrari in the constructors' standings by eight points with three races remaining, and McLaren both run on Michelin tires as do Renault, Jaguar and Toyota. Vasselon said that the tires to be used by Michelin teams at Monza next week and in testing at the circuit starting on Tuesday would have the same dimensions as those used at the last Hungarian Grand Prix. "Since our tires have been considered legal up to now there is no reason to change them and above all we question the change in the interpretation of the rules with the championship still under way," he said. "The tires for these Monza tests were manufactured in the days immediately after the Hungarian Grand Prix and there was clearly not time to change them."

9/2/03

Schumacher 16th richest in world   According to Fortune magazine, to be published later this week, Michael Schumacher is the 16th richest person in the world under the age of 40. Top of the list is Russia's Roman Abramovich who is estimated to be worth a cool $8.3 billion now that he has sold his interests in Russia.  He's also rumored to being interested in starting a Formula 1 team.

9/2/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  
Villeneuve Takes Trip To Brackley
Schu Declared San Marino Ambassador
An Army Of Ferrari F1 Drivers
Bernie To Get A Lot Of Irate Mail
Silverstone Intruder Released From Jail
Tires Will Cost Schu Sixth World Crown
Schu And Ferrari 'Thrashed' At Monza?
McLaren Rule Out New Car Debut At Monza
'Quick Nick' On The Move In 2004
Gascoyne Lauds Friday Testing Option
Wilson Hopes Latest Gamble Pays Off
Sauber 'Getting There,' Says Heidfeld
Ralph Firman To Miss Italian GP?
Renault Test New Aero Package At Monza

9/1/03

Stewart & Petree ready for Richmond truck go    The way Andy Petree looks at it, he and driver Tony Stewart are undefeated at the .750-mile Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, site of Thursday night’s Virginia Is For Lovers NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. Stewart will drive Andy Petree Racing’s Monaco Coaches/Diamond Rio Chevrolet in the race. A year ago, Stewart and Petree won the event. The victory continued a string of strong runs for Petree’s Truck teams, the previous ones coming with Petree himself behind the wheel. “We’re in this to learn what we can learn about the track and to have some fun, and we want to give Monaco Coaches and Diamond Rio a great night,” Petree said. “But if we’re in a race, we’re going to do everything we can to win it. If it’s Trucks or Busch or Cup or a footrace, we’re going to work as hard as we can and do everything we can do to win. That’s what it is all about.” Stewart, the defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion and driver of Joe Gibbs’ Home Depot Chevrolet, agreed. “The race might give us an idea as to how the track will change on Saturday night, but for me, I’m running this race for the fun of it,” Stewart said. “I just want to go out and have a good time, and not worry about points for a night. I’ve always enjoyed racing at Richmond, so I’m just looking forward to getting another race - and, hopefully, another win - under my belt there.” Stewart started 25th in the Richmond race a year ago but steadily made his way to the front, taking advantage of his own championship driving talents and the top-notch equipment fielded by Andy Petree Racing. He grabbed the lead from Kevin Harvick 34 laps from the end and never looked back, pulling away to a 0.259-second victory. Petree is also fielding a car for young up-and-coming driver Paul Menard through an ARCA, Busch and Winston Cup combination program. Menard is driving the Turtle Wax/Menard’s entry in Friday night’s NASCAR Busch Grand National race at Richmond as well, and that car will have Monaco as an associate sponsor. Petree will be back behind the wheel of the Monaco Coaches Chevrolet in the Craftsman Series race at Martinsville, Va.

9/1/03

As NASCAR goes past its roots    An article in today's NY Times sports section is titled "As NASCAR Goes Past Its Roots, Southerners See Betrayal" and was written by Viv Burnstine. The gist of the story points out what is good for NASCAR at this time, to move race dates to other markets, it is also devastating to the economy of the local markets they leave. Darlington will not feel the complete impact of the race date change, like the community of Rockingham, which lost its race date completely.

9/1/03

A visit to the McLaren factory   This BBC article gives you some insight on what it takes to build and maintain a winning F1 car.  It can best be described as simply amazing.

9/1/03

Carl Russo's intentions  A reader writes, Dear AR1, The comments Carl Russo made regarding unification of the IRL and CART really disturbed me, especially the part about Tony George running the whole show. Considering this is a man who's on the record as saying he is seriously considering running a full time IRL campaign in 2004, his interest in buying CART is curious at best. It seems to me that this is just an attempt at buying CART...only to kill it off later on and TG gets his way anyway. As much as I would love to see AJ Allmendinger in ChampCars...if Russo wants the Indy 500 so badly...then buy a Crapwagon and go IRL'ing to your heart's content..and leave CART alone. Any CART fan should be very suspect of what Russo is proposing.  Regards, Joe Angers Boston, MA.  Dear Joe, While I can understand why you might draw that conclusion about Mr. Russo, let me set the facts straight - 1) Carl does not want to own CART.  He has made that perfectly clear.  He is only doing it because he's trying to save it.  Carl does not have to buy CART to kill it off.  If he wanted to do that he could not buy it and just let it die.  2) Anyone in their right mind knows that the split of Indy Car racing has been almost fatal to the sport. Strategically it was perhaps the most flawed idea in the history of racing.  It should have never happened, but it did.  The sooner it's back together the better.  If CART dies before that happens, its fans will be disenfranchised and lost forever. CART must be saved, strengthened and re-positioned.  Then, if and when it makes sense to merge with the IRL it will happen. 3) I wouldn't concern yourself with the IRL, it's going nowhere fast.  TV ratings are dropping, a 15,000 attendance at Nazareth is considered good by some in the IRL paddock, drivers are being injured at an alarming rate, and expensive equipment is being destroyed weekly.  At some point the participants will realize they have had enough and quit. Even IRL faithful John Menard has packed it in and gone home two races in a row after his umpteenth car was destroyed, and he's worth billions.  3) As for letting Tony George run the whole show, if CART lives and is made stronger, I don't see the CART owners giving up full control to Tony with nothing in return for all their hard work and substantial financial investment.  I envision a merger whereby the CART folks will run the road racing division of the IndyCar league, Brian Barnhart the oval division, some joint races, division and overall champions, the Indy 500 with 33 strong starters again, and Tony as the Grand Poo-Pah "figurehead" of IndyCar Racing, which is really all he wanted all along.  By the way, some have talked of just combining the best races of both series and having one unified 20-race series, but that would a) cause a lot of good venues to lose a race, and b) put a lot of people out of work because only so many teams/drivers can fill a grid.  Instead I see each league/division keeping its 14 best races and teams being required to run at least 6 races per year in the other division for a total of 20 points paying races for each team.  So while each division may only have say, 16 strong cars each, when you add in the crossovers from the other division on any given race weekend, you would have over 20 strong cars on the grid each race, and of course 33 for Indy.  And if there's any good that has come out of the split, as miniscule as it is, it is the rivalry you would have between the two divisions after all these years of hating each other.  I believe there was too much complacency in Indy Car racing. NASCAR thrives on rivalries between drivers, teams and car makes.  It would be analogous to some of the rivalries we see in other sports where each side takes great pride in beating the other. Sometimes the fans get out of hand, but in most cases it's limited to a healthy exchange "your team stinks" kind of stuff.  A fierce rivalry is healthy for any sport.  Mark C.

9/1/03

CART pit fires A reader writes, Dear AR1, It seems to me that there is a very simple solution to preventing pit fires and other potential catastrophes associated with a driver being waved off too early by his crew. Steve Matchett made a great point during the F3000 race at Hungary, that the rear of the car should be on its air jacks until all service is done. This seems to make perfect sense for both CART and F-1. Keep the car on its air jacks until all service is done, then wave it off. Has CART considered implementing this as a rule? Regards, Joe Angers, Boston, MA  Dear Joe, Now that they have moved the air hose/jack man behind the car and out of harms way, this idea makes perfect sense. When the guy was next to the refueler and in danger of being hit by the rear wheel if the driver tried to leave too early, it was thought it best to get him away from the car ASAP and therefore, let the car off the jacks as soon as the tires were done.  Hopefully CART will make this change effective the next race. Mark C.

9/1/03

No major changes planned for NASCAR point system   NASCAR is not likely to make any drastic changes to the championship points system, instead focusing on alterations to the cars. Since NASCAR adopted common templates this year, drivers have complained that passing is nearly impossible and the competition is too even. By fixing that - perhaps by reducing rear spoilers by a half inch next season, thus cutting down on downforce - NASCAR officials said Sunday it would help even out the current points system. NASCAR has been toying with different ways to change the points system, ranging from awarding extra bonuses for victories and poles and changing the way points are given to cars finishing at the back of the pack. But every formula under consideration has been applied to the past 10 years final point standings, and NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said the champion never changed. Plus, talk of making changes is insulting to current points leader Matt Kenseth, who has built a tremendous lead through consistency and just one victory this season. NASCAR is still considering awarding extra points for victories and poles, but Hunter said changes to the way points are given to the back of the field will likely not change. AP/ThatsRacin.com

9/1/03

Nadeau could test soon   Jerry Nadeau goes back to the doctor next week and if he gets clearance he could be approved for testing at Concord and Kentucky. 'We'd put him in a late model at Concord, and give him his own team and let him go over there any time he wants to,' general manager Jay Frye says. Winston Salem Journal

9/1/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  
Michelin Outline 'Concern' At Rule Change
Jaguar Boss 'Impressed' By F1 Rookie
Jordan Wants Better Cosworth Engine Deal
Panis Prefers French Countryside
Bahrain Confirms F1 Race For 2004
Fisichella: I Could Have Gone To BAR
'Under-Performing' DC Vows To Improve
Silverstone Bids To Secure F1 Future
Government 'Guarantees' Turkish F1 Race
Gascoyne: FIA Opening Can Of Worms
Brawn Blames Bridgestone
Montoya Won't Beat Schu: Jordan Chief
Jacques Faces Fight To Stay In F1
Five F1 Teams Threaten Monza Boycott
Button Steps Up World Title Plan
No Panic Despite Illegal Tire Bombshell
Renault To Take More 'Calculated Risks'
Trulli: Forget Victory At Monza, Indy
Bridgestone Making Mistake: Gary Anderson
Eddie Irvine's New (Film) Role

9/1/03

F1 news in brief - 2  
ON OCTOBER 18, a Formula One car will run on Russian soil for the first time, on the streets of Moscow. Its pilots for the demonstration? Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli, at the helm of a Renault R23B. 'I am looking forward to sharing my passion with the Russian public,' said Trulli.

LOUISE GRIFFITHS, perhaps better known as Jenson Button's girlfriend, has been rejected by viewers of TV talent show Fame Academy. The 25-year-old is the fifth contestant to be cast out but is nonetheless delighted to be heading home to her F1-racing man. 'He is the love of my life,' she said.

MINARDI DRIVERS Jos Verstappen and Nicolas Kiesa enjoyed their first try at NASCAR-style racing on Saturday with a run in the West-Tec Chevrolet Monte-Carlo at Rockingham. Jos, a Dutchman, did five laps in the 500bhp, V8-powered machine. 'It's hard,' he said. Visibility is less and it's a lot heavier than my F1 car.'

AND ON Sunday, Jos won his first-ever F1 race - at the helm of an 'impressive' two-seater Minardi for the team's 'Thunder At The Rock' day at Rockingham. Teamed with pop star JK, Verstappen said: 'I can't believe how close the two-seater is to my race car in terms of performance. I only wish this had been a real Grand Prix!'

9/1/03

F1 news in brief - 1  
FOUR FORMULA One fans were injured on the weekend near Sauber's team base in Hinwil, Switzerland. On a 'fan day,' a demonstration of an old C5 sportscar went wrong and it crashed into a spectator area. The fans in question got away with little more than a few cuts and bruises.

F3000 CHAMPION Bjorn Wirdheim might not, as planned, drive a Jordan on the Friday morning of next weekend's Italian Grand Prix. Zsolt Baumgartner, who filled in for an injured Ralph Firman in Budapest, paid a quarter of a million dollars for that drive and might also be included in the free testing at Monza.

MINARDI CHIEF Paul Stoddart crashed a 2001-spec PS01 F1 car on Saturday at Rockingham. For his team's 'Thunder' extravaganza, the 48-year-old Australian and racing enthusiast lost control of the ex-Fernando Alonso car and hit a concrete wall. 'I don't have anyone to blame for that bill!' he smiled.

DAVID COULTHARD conjured red faces but no laughs when he let a risqué joke slip at the recent Laureus Sports awards in Monaco. Introducing pole vaulter Sergei Bubka, the 32-year-old called him a 'Ukrainian with a big pole'. 'I decided to ignore the autocue and in my head I was giggling away,' said the Scot.

9/1/03

Denver attendance  While no official attendance figures were released, it was clear the Saturday attendance numbers were down this year because of the threatening clouds.  However, on Sunday the majority of grandstands were full, again despite the rain showers in the morning and threatening skies.  On the pace lap a couple of grandstands were quite barren, but that was because many fans were taking in the plethora of concessions and other entertainment around the track and it took them time to cross the bridges to get over to their seats. 10 laps into the race and the grandstands looked as full as 2002. There were reports the race was sold-out though we saw no evidence of that. Last year's race-day attendance was 60,000 and we would put this year's at about 50,000 to 55,000. The race was also up against the Taste of Denver event which draws 500,000 for the weekend.  On Saturday the big Colorado U vs. Colorado State football game was in town. Mark C.

9/1/03

Ticket sale date set for Bahrain   The flag is up for the Middle East's first-ever Formula One Grand Prix - to be held in Bahrain on April 4 next year. (See race's website) Tickets will go on sale on September 21 and 100,000 spectators are expected to flock to the three-day event. Those who can't find accommodations in Bahrain will spill over into neighboring countries, say officials. The date, first reported exclusively by the GDN in May this year, was officially announced yesterday by Bahrain Motor Federation president Shaikh Tariq bin Mohammed Al Khalifa. A new track logo (shown at right) and a new name - the Bahrain International Circuit - were also unveiled at a Press conference at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa. The track has up to now been known as the Bahrain Racing Circuit. The race is on to finish the Sakhir track and all its facilities by March 7, with Shaikh Tariq confident of beating the deadline. "We have seven months to go till this date, but we would like to assure everyone that we are ahead of schedule," he said.

8/31/03

CART Board meeting set for Thursday  We heard rumblings over the weekend that a deal had been reached between Open Wheel Racing Series LLC and CART.  However, Kevin Kalkhoven told AR1 they were close, but not quite there.  Today we learned there will be another CART Board meeting on Thursday, where hopefully a final price will be agreed upon.  The rumor is that Open Wheel Racing Series LLC has made, or will make a counteroffer, we assume something above their already bid price of $0.50, but that's just conjecture.  Mark C.

8/31/03

Please CART, we need the button  A reader writes, AR1 After watching today's Denver race on SPEED Channel, and then listening to driver after driver say after the race it was impossible to get around the driver in front of them, I am now convinced beyond a doubt that CART needs the push-to-pass button we have read so much about on AutoRacing1.  As a long time fan of CART's, if I have to sit through another year of follow-the-leader racing, I simply won't.  It's been a year now since I first heard about this idea, and I have had to endure an entire 2003 season of, as AR1 calls them, parades.  Joe Disgusted in Tampa Melling  Dear Joe, Only Mario Dominguez did any passing all race long, but hang in there until 2004 when we hear the button will be in use.  If not, CART must have a death wish, or they like their title of the USA's #1 parade company.  Everyone likes to be #1 in something.  Mark C.  P.S.  None of the races at Denver had any passes for the lead this weekend. None have a push-to-pass button.  Maybe they should.  If CART and its support series want to be in the urban racing business, they had better take a hard look at the on-track entertainment value they are delivering to their customers.

8/31/03

Pruett holds off Said in Denver  Scott Pruett proved his lack of experience at Denver didn’t matter, as he simply dominated Sunday’s MotoRock Mile 100, part of the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, and recorded his seventh victory in nine MotoRock Trans-Am Tour for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup starts this season. Pruett, driver of the No. 7 MotoRock Jaguar XKR, led from the pole at Denver’s 1.647-mile temporary street course, and then held off defending champion and last year’s Denver race winner Boris Said for the victory. Said (No. 33 ACS/GE Access/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang), Johnny Miller (No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR), finished second and third, while Stu Hayner (No. 2 GMAC Commercial Finance/Trenton Forging Chevrolet Corvette) rebounded from early contact with Tomy Drissi (No. 5 Stuck on You, The Movie Jaguar XKR) to finish fourth. Justin Bell (No. 59 Ultama Swimwear Chevrolet Corvette), filling in for Simon Gregg, who is recovering from minor elective surgery, finished fifth. “This season has been just terrific,” said Pruett, who leaves Denver, unofficially, with a 49-point lead in the championship. “We ran hard here, but left a little on the table. You can’t challenge this track 100%; one little bobble and you can lose a half a second or more. You’ve got to be heads up enough not to get in too deep and pay a big price. We were really laying it down. At the beginning, my car had an ugly understeer, but by the end, it was sweet. The car really came in well. “Both Boris (Said) and I race in Winston Cup, so we’re used to leaning on each other a bit,” added Pruett, who with his 21st career victory tied Bob Tullius for fourth on the all-time Trans-Am win list. “It makes it more of a challenge. If you’re in the position to do it, you let the guy in front know he needs to speed up or move out of the way.” With his victory, Pruett earned the BFGoodrich Tires Take Control Award for leading the most laps, after being presented the Jaguar Pole Award, when he was placed on the pole after qualifying was rained out, and the grid was set by combined practice times. In fact, the only award Pruett didn’t win was the Flowmaster American Thunder Challenge Award, which will roll over to the next Trans-Am Series race in Miami. Since the award wasn’t claimed at Road America, it will be worth $6,000 in the MotoRock Miami 100. Said admitted he tried to challenge Pruett, and in fact ran nose to tail with the two-time Series champion early in the event. However, in the end, Said didn’t have enough car to make the pass. “I used my car up pretty well all race,” said Said, who earned his fourth podium finish this year in four starts. “We are a little disappointed. This is my last Trans-Am race this season, and I really wanted to go out with a win. We also wanted to put on a good show for (sponsor) GE Access. They’re local and we wanted to give them a win here. I tried to get up close to Pruett to put a fender on him, but we just came up a little bit short.” Miller said if qualifying hadn’t been rained out, Sunday’s results might have been much different. Miller started fourth. “I think not having the chance to qualify played a role in our race today,” said Miller. “We’ve had a good car all weekend and would have likely had a solid qualifying effort. We basically finished where we started; it’s so tough to pass on this track. You get one foot off line here and the car just sails.” The race ran in one hour and 15.342 minutes at an average speed of 77.342 miles per hour. Pruett set the track race lap record of 1:12.121 minutes at an average 82.212 miles per hour. The race was slowed by the caution flag from laps 44 through 47. Miller and Said each earned one bonus point for being within five seconds of leader Pruett on the Fast Five Lap, lap 12 here. Today’s MotoRock Mile High 100 will air on tape-delayed basis tomorrow (Monday, Sept. 1) at 1:30 EDT on SPEED Channel. The next race for the Trans-Am Series, the MotoRock Miami 100, Round 10 of the 2003 MotoRock Trans-Am Tour championship is scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 26-28, as part of the Grand Prix of Americas in downtown Miami.

1. (1) Scott Pruett, Jaguar XKR, 59, Running.
2. (2) Boris Said, Ford Mustang, 59, Running.
3. (64) Johnny Miller, Jaguar XKR, 59, Running.
4. (4) Stu Hayner, Chevrolet Corvette, 59, Running.
5. (9) Justin Bell, Chevrolet Corvette, 59, Running.
6. (7) Bobby Sak(R), Chevrolet Corvette, 59, Running.
7. (10) Randy Ruhlman, Chevrolet Corvette, 59, Running.
8. (3) Jorge Diaz, Jr(R), Jaguar XKR, 59, Running.
9. (8) Michael Lewis, Jaguar XKR, 59, Running.
10. (12) John Baucom, Jaguar XKR, 58, Running.
11. (14) Joey Scarallo (R), Chevrolet Corvette, 58, Running.
12. (13) Mike Davis, Ford Mustang, 57, Running.
13. (17) Glenn Andrew, Chevrolet Camaro, 54, Running.
14. (18) George Nolte (R), Ford Mustang, 54, Running.
15. (5) Tomy Drissi, Jaguar XKR, 13, Suspension.
16. (16) Marvin Jones (R), Qvale Mangusta, 4, Engine.
17. (11) Rick Lee (R), Qvale Mangusta, 0, Mechanical.
18. (15) Wayne Hartzler (R), Chevrolet Camaro, 0, Mechanical.
Race Statistics
Time of race: 1:12.121
Margin of victory: 1.176 seconds.
Winner's average speed: 82.212 mph.
Caution flags: 1 for 4 laps.
Lead changes: 0.
Lap leaders: Pruett 1-59.

8/31/03

Plans for Silverstone   Silverstone bosses are drawing up a $ 80 million development plan to save the British Grand Prix and make their circuit a world center for motorsports.  The British Racing Drivers' Club, owners of Silverstone, will put their proposal to the government via the East Midlands Development Agency in a bid to secure the race until 2015.  "We've done a lot of work already, and we intend to go on making improvements. We are prepared to put in more money, but we don't have the money to do it on our own. There are four parties involved, and all of us have to play our part.  "We shall be putting our proposal to the EMDA and hopefully in the next few weeks we can move on to the next stage."  The circuit was given a huge boost by last month's spectacular British GP, and public support has grown. Stewart said: "I think there is, more and more, the realization that this is a matter of national importance. It's about jobs and the economy as well as motor racing. Everyone appreciates we have to find a solution."

8/31/03

Ritchie Hearn to drive for Menard  We bumped into Ritchie Hearn in the CART paddock today.  He told us he tested for John Menard and will drive for them at Chicagoland next weekend.

8/31/03

Russo confirms role in buyout  In this AP article, Carl Russo confirms his involvement in the CART buyout, and reiterates what we here at AR1 have said, if CART dies, its fans will be so bitter they will never embrace the IRL.  Both sides must see it as a merger.  Russo says, "In the long-term, there should be just one series. What might make that happen, I don't know. Everyone I talk to here wants to run here and run the ovals and run at Indy. Everyone I talk to in the IRL wants to run ovals and road races. It is very clear that virtually everyone I have interacted with wants to see it become one series.  The first thing we have to do is not disenfranchise the fans by letting it die. Instead we need to invest in it and keep these fans, and grow the fan base and see if we can bring the two back together."

8/31/03

[Paul] Newman's Own  This Denver Post article Contains an interview with CART team owner Paul Newman.  A portion of the article:
Q: How intense is your commitment to keep the Champ Car World Series alive?
A: It's furious.
Q: Did you ever consider driving Champ Cars?
A: I've driven them, but for me to compete out there, I'd probably take out six or seven cars on the first lap, if I survived. It's way over my head.
Q: You started racing at age 47, after playing the role of an Indy driver in the 1969 film "Winning." Did you ever consider giving up acting to compete in another series regularly?
A: Yeah, I was starting to get tired of acting. It's funny, passion bleeds into everything that you do. (But racing) kind of invigorated me as an actor. That's my wife's theory. I don't know whether it's mine or not, but it sounds good.
Q: Do you foresee a merger between the IRL and CART, or do you think both circuits can survive on their own?
A: Well, ultimately, the health of open wheel racing probably depends on them coming together. How that comes together, I don't know.
Q: What do you think of the Grand Prix of Denver?
A: I wish the track was a little longer. It used to be that the cars would give out, the tires, the brakes, and the guy who was smart and conserved his car had a chance to move up. But now the cars are so absolutely equal, you're behind a car that's a 10th of a second slower, it's awful hard to get around, unless he makes a mistake. The tires and the brakes don't give out anymore, so that's when technology works against you sometimes.

8/31/03

Hall wins Fran-Am race  Charles Hall, who is from Sheffield, England, was the winner in Saturday's Fran-Am race. Hall won the 24-lap race nipping Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Quebec, Canada by a mere 0.895 of a second. "This is great for my team," Hall said. "I'm glad I could get them their first win. I didn't know how the track would be on the first lap after the rain, but I made my moves stick and kept the lead. (Ranger) came up late in the race and we did have a touch, but it was OK. I was feeling some rain and just needed to drive fast. It worked."

8/31/03

Mexico puts racing right after soccer  This Denver Post article says, As far as Mexicans are concerned, the World Cup is in Denver this weekend. CART drivers Michel Jourdain Jr., Adrian Fernandez, Mario Dominguez and Rodolfo Lavín represent a country that has become almost as passionate about auto racing as soccer. "I would say soccer is No. 1 and racing No. 2," Jourdain said of Mexico's top sports. "Boxing has been good, too, (but) there's not a big boxer right now." Jourdain, 26, has become Mexico's big racer. He's third in the Champ Car World Series standings, just seven points behind second-place Bruno Junqueira of Brazil and 35 behind leader Paul Tracy of Canada. Fernandez, 40, who has one victory, is eighth in points, and the 27-year-old Dominguez is 10th. Rookie Lavín, 26, is 17th overall and sixth among nine rookies. With Mexico's combined four drivers' points, the country is second in the Nation's Cup standings. Mexico trails Canada, which is represented by Las Vegas residents Tracy, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani. Defending Nation's Cup champion Brazil, spearheaded by Junqueira, the 2002 Grand Prix of Denver winner, is third. Jourdain, who lives in Mexico City - near the racetrack where 192,000 fans flocked to CART's three-day event in March - was treated like a gold-medal hero after last Sunday's Molson Indy Montreal. "We were there in Canada and I won, and there were Mexican flags all over the podium," Jourdain said. "Because of something I did, they played the national anthem in Canada. That feeling is great, when you hear the Mexicans singing. It's like winning the gold medal in the Olympics." Jourdain said the celebration really got emotional in Mexico City. His victory was the hot topic not only in Mexico's capital but most of the country. He shared the front page of virtually all the country's newspapers with Ana Gabriela Guevara, who won the 400 meters Wednesday at the world track and field championships. "It was huge," Jourdain said. "(Racing) is getting bigger and bigger for us, and the two Mexico races really help. Our (first) race down there is the biggest event in the spring." To the delight of CART, Mexicans take the Champ Car World Series to heart. The circuit's two road races in Mexico, at Fundidora Park in Monterrey and the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez in Mexico City, are CART's most attended events. "They're a big part of our business model," CART CEO Chris Pook said. "We're about Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. The capability of this series hinges on how we reach these markets. With respect to geography, and with the exception of a couple holes in the U.S., we got this place covered."......"Denver is a great city, and this is an important market for our team and the series," Fernandez said. "We have a lot of fans here, and we are looking forward to putting on a good show for them." Roberto Martinez-Maestre, president of Denver's El Hispano newspaper, said the success of Mexican CART drivers has largely gone unnoticed in the United States. "In general in the United States, people think all we care about is soccer," he said. "So the fact that these four guys are here representing Mexico, and the fact that Bruno is here representing Brazil, along with three other Brazilian drivers, it tells you that there is a big following for our sport in Latin America."

8/31/03

Denver loses out if support for CART folds  This Denver Post article says, The Grand Prix of Denver has the feel of walking through Lakewood's Villa Italia, the showcase shopping mall in the metro area as recently as the 1980s, in its final years. Or, if you want a sporting example, attending a game in the final days of one of the many franchises that have come and gone in Denver, whether Francoise Durr and the Racquets tennis team or Chico Resch and the old hockey Colorado Rockies. You sensed the end was coming. You usually were right. A year ago at the Denver race, the circuit's governing organization - Championship Auto Racing Teams - gathered team owners on one two-tiered dais in the Pepsi Center press room. Under prompting, and with varying decisiveness and sincerity, they proclaimed the 2003 CART circuit would be healthy and stocked with enough teams to make it competitively viable in the ongoing rivalry with the Indy Racing League. The defiant production was staged as much to provide reassurance for the traveling CART community, including specialized auto-racing media, as to provide copy for anyone from a local outlet. With CART losing thousands of dollars on every 2003 lap, and survival questionable, a publicly staged Second Annual CART-Will-Survive Summit in Denver wouldn't have been credible. But a group of four team owners, including Carl Russo of the Colorado-based RuSport, is attempting to buy the publicly traded CART operation at a rock-bottom price and keep it going beyond this year. The circuit is worth saving, and so is the Grand Prix of Denver. We'll find out today whether the race again is a no-passing zone on the temporary street course, but all signs point to the continuation of the precedents of last year. Regardless, the state-fair atmosphere on the Pepsi Center grounds and open-wheel racing itself still can be enjoyable to watch and experience. And if a CART sale keeps Denver in the picture until either the bugs can be worked out of the Pepsi Center course or a suitable temporary road-course alternative can be found in the area, it would be a checkered flag for the Colorado racing constituency. Denver would win. Denver would win because it would give Grand Prix organizers time to make this one of the top stops in open-wheel racing and an obvious choice when the IRL and CART schedules are merged. Now, Denver wouldn't make the cut. Put another way, if CART folds, there will be no 2004 Grand Prix of Denver. The IRL would grab the best CART stops and won't even give Denver a look. Yes, that would be unfortunate. Open-wheel isn't everyone's can of oil, but done right, it's the best show in racing. "What we should be doing in open-wheel racing is save every fan we can," Russo said. "That's why we'd save this series. You have this set of fans, IRL has that set of fans, and we'd like to bring them together. Then you'd have something far more powerful. ... So let's get on with it. Let's keep the fan base, let's grow the events, let's winnow out the weak ones and bring it back together." That means one series. Eventually. More.....

8/31/03

Russo's goal is to get CART & IRL back together  [Editor's Note: this article reiterates the same conversation we had at Mid-Ohio with Carl Russo]   This Denver Post article says, Carl Russo, one of four CART owners attempting to buy the troubled Champ Car World Series, doesn't want to be viewed as a savior. Along with partners Gerald Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi and Kevin Kalkhovan, he simply wants to establish a better relationship with the Indy Racing League - with the hope that the two circuits become one.   "It's real simple," Russo, who owns Loveland-based RuSport, a two-car CART Toyota Atlantic Championship team, said Saturday at the Grand Prix of Denver. "There are two ways to get back to a single series. One is to let this die. The other is to strengthen it and then sit down and figure out a way to bring it back together (to one series). That's the approach we're taking." Russo and his partners recently formed Open Wheel Racing Series and offered a bargain-basement price of 50 cents per share for the outstanding shares of the company that had an initial offering of $17 per share in 1998. If the parties strike a deal, presumably for twice as much as the initial offer, Russo said his group would have no long-term interest in running the series. "Fundamentally, none of us want to own a series," he said. "But nobody else is doing anything. It didn't look like anybody was going to put in an offer, and it was clear that CART was going to disappear before the end of the 2004 season." Preserving elite-level North American road and street racing motivated Russo to join Forsythe, Gentilozzi and Kalkhovan. If CART dies, the oval-only IRL likely would take over a handful of CART's most successful and established races. But if CART can negotiate a merger, events such as the Grand Prix of Denver have a chance to survive. "Talk to the people in this paddock, they all want it to be one series. Talk to the people in (the IRL) paddock, they all want to be one series. Talk to the sponsors, they all want to be one series," Russo said. "Everybody here wants to be running Indy, and everybody (in the IRL) wants to be running at Long Beach and Montreal. What's in the way?" Russo declined to guess if the deal will happen. But if it doesn't, and nobody else makes an offer, the Grand Prix of Denver might end in the same amount of time as the 1990 and '91 Denver races near the state capitol. "I'd like to see it go through, obviously, otherwise we wouldn't have made the offer," he said. "But I don't have any expectations. There's still a lot of negotiating going on and outside issues that have to be resolved. I wouldn't even venture to put odds on it. But we very much want it to go through."

8/31/03

Any new manufacturers for CART?   A reader writes, Dear AR1, Are there any signs that CART is even close to signing a new engine manufacturer for the Champ Car Series?  The racing is good this year, and I like the fact that everyone has equal HP, but it's clear to me Ford isn't spending much money in CART and how can they advertise they won every race when in fact they are only beating themselves?  Daniel Rodgers, Vancouver, BC  Dear Daniel, We are not aware of any new engine manufacturers on the horizon for CART.  If it's just Ford again for 2004, the new series owners are going to lose a lot of money.  And your point about Ford not spending a lot of money in CART is true, financially the company can't afford it right now and traditionally they don't spend a lot on advertising their involvement in CART even when they were beating Honda and Toyota.  Without car manufacturers in the series, and the related companies they bring along with them as sponsors, CART will die.  If you don't believe us just, just look at how much money CART lost in just this one year (2003).  Death is pretty much certain without additional manufacturer support.  The losses for CART  this year are staggering because Honda and Toyota spent so much money in CART for all sorts of things, the least of which was team support and TV ad time, both a big money drain for CART this year.  From our perspective CART's only hope to land more desperately needed manufacturers in the foreseeable future is to badge the existing Cosworth engines by up to five manufacturers. In it's current state of near-death, we doubt any manufacturer would deem CART commercially viable to spend hundreds of million of dollars to design and build a new engine for CART, and if they did, we doubt Ford would be willing to respond with a new engine design to compete head-to-head.  This badging concept is win-win for everyone but is anyone in CART actively working on it?  Has a detailed proposal been written and sent to all manufacturers around the world for consideration, for the 2004 season?  The clock certainly is ticking.  Will any want to do it?  We think so, if the right people are making the sales pitch. We have already made a strong case for why this "tolling fee/badging" model makes absolute sense for CART and for Ford (Ford would get a portion of the tolling fee from each manufacturer to supply engines to them with their name boldly displayed on the cam covers.)  Here's some additional food for thought. We have documented on these pages the logarithmic rise in the China auto industry, but to the world market, they are largely invisible....for now. The China auto manufacturers need to demonstrate that they even exist to consumers around the world in preparation for their cars being sold in the USA market and elsewhere in the coming years. With so many world manufacturers already producing their brands (in joint ventures) for the Chinese market, CART could be the perfect outlet to launch an "awareness" campaign, especially if CART were to add that rumored race in Beijing as icing on the cake. The amount of money for the Chinese automotive manufacturers to associate with CART under this badging scenario would be miniscule because they would not have to design and build a new-from-scratch racing engine, but could use CART as a marketing vehicle. The problem is does the current CART regime know whom or how to establish communication with the Chinese manufacturers? We know of just the individual who could do that, but it's not our position to intervene. We don't run CART.  What about the South Korean manufacturers? What about Cadillac or Chevy? Chevy badges a Cosworth in the IRL already. The possibilities are endless, but each day the CART ownership issue drags on, is another day lost to CART getting additional engine manufacturers in the series and plugging the profuse bleeding of money. Of course the current regime could be writing the detailed proposal to go out to all manufacturers and they could be talking to Ford's Dan Davis about renegotiating the contract with Ford (the Cosworth contract would still be an exclusive) but are they?  Not according to our sources.  Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and the final nail could soon be driven..... Mark Cipolloni

8/31/03

Four injured at Sauber Fan Day   According to the reports in the Blick newspaper, four people were injured at Sauber’s fan club day at Army Motor Park in Hinwil yesterday when Walter Schumacher crashed the team’s C5 into a fence. While stunned fans watched on in horror, the red 200 hp car spun after Schumacher was reportedly showing off with his son beside him and lost control after a left turn. One of the injured was Blick’s own photographer, Erwin W. Wyrsch, who suffered face and leg injuries. Thankfully the injuries were not serious while two fans also suffered shock. “I’m sorry” Schumacher was quoted as saying.

8/31/03

Renault to make demonstration run in Turkey   On Saturday, 18 October, 2003, a Formula 1 team will run on Russian soil for the first time. One week after the end of the 2003 Formula 1 season, the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team, with race drivers Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso, will touch down in Moscow for a public demonstration of the latest F1 technology in the Russian capital. This unique event, organized with the full support of the national and City of Moscow authorities, will see the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team run their cars through the city streets, allowing the many Russian fans to get up close to both cars and drivers. "This event is a privilege for us," commented Renault F1 Team Chairman Patrick Faure. "The Russian people are real car enthusiasts, and big Formula 1 fans. Moreover, an F1 car has never run on Russian soil. I am pleased that our team will be the first to take this important step, and even more so because Renault has strong historical links with Russia, on which the company will continue to build in the future." Mild Seven Renault F1 Team driver Jarno Trulli is equally enthusiastic: "I am looking forward to sharing my passion for Formula 1 with the Russian public. Compared to a Grand Prix, this kind of event allows the fans to really get up close and experience what F1 is all about. It's going to be a special day for the spectators, and for the team." Teammate Fernando Alonso agrees. "In May, when I ran my F1 car in downtown Madrid, we had over 100,000 spectators turn up. That was an unforgettable day, and I think we can expect the same thing in Moscow. It will be fun meeting the Russian fans and showing them for the first time what an F1 car can really do!"

8/31/03

Rookie Monteiro has best qualifying effort ever   Rookie pilot Tiago Monteiro drove the #7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing entry to the team’s best qualifying result of the season today in Denver. The young Portuguese driver will start 5th on tomorrow’s grid for the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver after finishing 3rd in today’s session with a fast lap time of 101.628. The team’s previous best qualifying was 9th in Milwaukee. Monteiro was elated with today’s qualifying. “It definitely feels nice to perform so well,” he said. “We’ve been strong all weekend; the car’s been going good since we arrived. I was a little concerned about tire pressure with such short qualifying laps, but my engineer did a good job on the tire pressures. Instead of one good lap yesterday, I was able to push hard for two laps today. We had a better balanced car. I’m really happy for everyone; the team and myself. Now all we have to do is finish!” Legendary champion and team owner Emerson Fittipaldi is delighted with the way the weekend has progressed thus far. “I’m very pleased with Tiago’s performance; the best of the season so far. He’s showing more maturity and better speed. I’m extremely happy with the team’s effort. Don (Bricker) is doing a great job engineering the car. We’re moving up on the grid every race, so I am very, very happy. I think we have a good chance to finish in the top 3 tomorrow.” Team owner James Dingman was thrilled with the day's result. “I’m very excited for Tiago,” he said. “He deserves this after the last couple of weeks of unfortunate mishaps. Hopefully this is the first step toward a great end to a great weekend. I’d also like to thank the crew for giving Tiago a car that enabled him to be where he is today.”  Photo by Mark Cipolloni/AR1

8/31/03
Industry News

Toyota poised to become biggest USA car seller  To understand the ongoing assault by foreign automakers in the United States, look no further than the traditional car market. If sales trends don't change dramatically, Toyota will sell more cars in the United States this year than each of the two brands that have dominated for a century: Chevrolet and Ford. It would mark the first time a foreign automaker has held that mantle and illustrates the growing impact of Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co., all of which continue to expand their domestic lineups and manufacturing capacity. "What you're seeing from Toyota is an expansion into new segments, both on the production and sales side, and a further entrenchment of their strong sales position in current vehicles like the Camry and Corolla," said Michael Robinet, vice president of global forecasting for CSM Worldwide, which provides market information and forecasts to more than 350 automotive suppliers. On the passenger car side, Toyota, excluding its Lexus luxury brand, sold 520,991 cars in the United States through July, about 20,000 more than Ford and nearly 47,000 more than Chevy, General Motors Corp.'s top-selling brand. More.....

8/30/03

Denver GP gets approval to use banned fuel additive   The Grand Prix of Denver received a one-time exemption from state health rules to use a fuel additive that has been banned because it poses a danger to water and humans.  The Legislature banned MTBE in 2000 after California studies showed it contaminated water and may cause cancer in humans.  The director of Colorado's Air Pollution Control Division authorized the use of MTBE on Monday after a Grand Prix fuel supplier realized a week before the race that the chemical was illegal in the state.  The race will be run Sunday after qualifying on Friday and Saturday.  Using MTBE-based fuel at the race ''does not appear to pose any threat to Colorado's environment or to groundwater,'' the director of the division, Margie Perkins, said in an Aug. 25 letter to VP Racing Fuels of Delaware.  Perkins said only a small number of cars in the race require the additive. The fuel will be stored above ground in tanks or drums, where leaks into groundwater are unlikely, she said.  Doug Benevento, head of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said the Grand Prix would have been canceled without the exemption.  He said no exemption would be granted next year.  Steve Glazer, who follows state water pollution issues for the Sierra Club, said health regulators should ensure that precautions are taken to prevent spills.  Perkins said the health department would take enforcement action if MTBE fuel is spilled or released. AP

8/30/03

AR1 chats with Kenny Brack  AR1 was at Chicagoland testing today and interviewed a few drivers, one being Team Rahal driver Kenny Brack.
Q.  First time here, what's your impression?
Brack: "It's a nice track. It's smooth and it's fast and it's got a lot of banking. I think it's going to be a really exciting race here."
Q.  Remind you of Kansas Speedway at all?
Brack: "Uh, yeah. Kansas is uh, this place is a little tighter it feels like than Kansas. It's gonna be same type of racing as Kansas probably."
Q.  You are the only driver here that has a chance to win here and has won at the oval in Cicero. It's closed now and they are going to tear it down.
Brack: "Really? I didn't know that. What a shame. So yeah, we''ll see about that. I don't know, that could be a nice thing I guess. But I have never really thought of it that way."
Q.  What do you enjoy more, driving or performing with your Rock band, and what is the name of your new CD?
Brack: "(Laugh) The new CD is titled "Live from Nashville" which we recorded live there and I think it turned out really really good. We are going to release it next week and it's for charity and it sounds really good. But you know, it's really two different things. Racing is my day job, serious stuff. Ya know, there's not so many old people in Rock and Roll I feel. (Laugh) It suites me better.
AR1: (This 57 year old walked away from this interview with his microphone hanging between his legs). 
 Rick Schenk

8/30/03

AR1 chats with Scott Sharp  AR1 was at Chicagoland testing today and interviewed a few drivers, one being longtime IRL driver Scott Sharp.
Q.  Welcome home.
Sharp: "Yeah. Yeah, it's good to be back here. Ya know, what's great is the opportunity obviously goes without saying how big this race is and comes in a strong time in a championship run. A track we have done as a team quite well on also. We have not done a lot of testing this summer and I think we have fallen behind a bit because of that. So it's great to have a chance to come here today and we might even run into tomorrow. Really tune-up our big track setup for the final three races."
Q.  Realistically, what can you guys get accomplished with the three races that are left?
Sharp: "As far as points go or what?"
Q.  Yes
Sharp: "Well, I haven't even really thought about that. We just try to maximize every weekend. You know? Let the points fall where they do. Ya know, sometimes, I had a couple great races; finished fourth at Michigan and I actually fell back in the points (laugh). Ya know so it all depends where everyone else finishes around you of course. But if we can just finish the year off strongly that would be a big kick for us. Realistically we know probably top 300 points is gone. If we could somehow find a way to break ourselves in the top five or six we would be pretty pleased about that."
Q.  Intro stated "Welcome Home", does that mean you are from around this area?
Sharp: "No, no. I'm just here a lot. I ran a couple, this year IROC race here, last year IROC race here, of course IRL race every year they have had it here. We were here for the track opening. Delphi has always been highly involved with the track which is wonderful. It's a track I love running on for one, a track we have done well on two. So it just feels comfortable being here."
Q.  Do you wish that IRL would run one or two road courses and get away from so much oval racing?
Sharp: "Uh, ya know? I don't have that high on my wish list that that has to happen. I spent a lot of years racing road courses so I think that would be great for me personally if that happens. And if it does, I think that's one more step towards getting the series back as one series so I'm an advocate of that. But ya know? When and how doesn't concern me so much. I mean, I'm sure it will happen at the right time."
Q.  How old are you?
Sharp: "35"
Q.  About time to retire then?
Sharp:   "Look at the guys around me. Hopefully my teammates, uh what's Al; 41, 42? Somewhere in there and he's still running strong. So, uh, he's good inspiration for me. I don't plan on retiring for a long time. I'm a young 35.". 
 Rick Schenk

8/30/03

Pruett nominated for 3rd Qtr DOY  Scott Pruett, driver of the No. 7 MotoRock Jaguar XKR in the MotoRock Trans-Am Tour for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup, has been nominated for the third quarter voting for the SPEED Channel Presents the DRIVER OF THE YEAR award. The two-time Trans-Am champion and current Trans-Am Series points leader joins an elite group of eight drivers chosen from different forms of North American auto racing. “I’m very honored to receive this award,” said Pruett. “The fans in this industry are what it’s all about. We’ve been doing really well in both Trans-Am and Winston Cup, but the competition is really stiff. Then again, you never know.” In its 37th year, the third-quarter DRIVER OF THE YEAR, will be determined by an independent vote of the 18-member panel of blue ribbon auto racing journalists and broadcasters and one vote based on the cumulative tally of fans voting at www.speedtv.com. Other drivers nominated for the third-quarter voting are Helio Castroneves (Indy Racing League), Larry Dixon (NHRA), Kevin Harvick (NASCAR), Ryan Newman (NASCAR), Paul Tracy (Champ Car World Series) and J.J. Yeley (USAC). “The quality of the nominees this quarter reflects consistent excellence in performance by great drivers,” said DRIVER OF THE YEAR President Barry Schmoyer. “The second quarter fan vote—approximately 129,000–encouraged me because it proved how seriously auto racing fans take their favorite sport.” At the end of the year, a special and separate vote will be held for the 2003 DRIVER OF THE YEAR. The winner of the quarterly voting will be given a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix Swiss Watch, the official watch of the DRIVER OF THE YEAR, to commemorate the honor. The Trans-Am Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Series is America’s oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 38th anniversary in 2003. MotoRock is the creation of a popular culture brand that blends the enthusiast markets of cars, stars and guitars. It is a yearly series of destination live events that showcase the excitement of motorsports, music and lifestyle while delivering a unique new form of broadcast entertainment programming.

8/30/03

AR1 chats with Tony Kanaan  AR1 was at Chicagoland testing today and interviewed a few drivers, one being Andretti Green driver Tony Kanaan who is in the hunt for the points championship.
Q.  Maybe you got your bad luck out of the way last week.
Kanaan: "Somebody created the bad luck. I would not say it was may fault. Yeah, probably, hopefully we have three good ones until the end then we will see what happens."
Q.  Has this track changed since last year?
Kanaan: "It's my first time here so I have no idea. I have only done ten laps so far. Very smooth, and very fast. So I think you guys gonna see a close race. Which I watched last year and was so close too. So it's tough to say but race will be very close."
Q.  How tough are the Penske guys?
Kanaan: "(Laugh) Ah, not just the Penske guys, I think Scott (Sharp) and Sam (Hornish) have been very strong to. But Penske guys are tough and they are Brazilian so I know them very well. (Laugh) They gonna be tough. They have a great organization, they are great race car drivers so is Scott and so is Sam. A lot of people are going to got in the mix now. Especially with Chevy stepping up. You gonna see Scheckter trying to prove his point to. And the other guys running up front so it's going to be tough."
Q.  What did everybody think when Chevy got the help mid-season?
Kanaan: "Well, I would say the Chevy guys are very happy. And if I would be in their shoes I would be happy too. And the other guys have their own opinion about it. But I would say it is not up to us to decide that. IRL? It's a great series and they have great people running it and if they did that it must be for a reason. But, my personal opinion? Being a Honda driver I dont like the idea that they (Chevy) sat out six months and saw what everybody else was doing and they are allowed to come in with a new engine. It's tough to judge. I don't like to judge anybody. I just hope we can finish this championship and this series needs to grow. And to grow we need competition and we can't keep just Chevy out if they are not competitive. They have to have a chance to allow to improve. But now they open the window so I think we should be allowed to make an improvement to and so is Toyota so that is what's going to happen."
Q.  Are you at a disadvantage coming to a track for the first time where the other drivers have been on it for 2 years?
Kanaan: "Maybe in the race yeah. Because you don't know these conditions. I mean ovals are not simple but are quite easy to learn as a race car driver. If you have a good car you can be competitive right away. So I don't think it's a disadvantage for me. It's more of a challenge than a disadvantage."
Q.  With your connection with the Andrettis, were you surprised at the crowd turnout at Nazareth Speedway last week?
Kanaan: "Well I was surprised at the crowd definitely. Michael and our whole team work hard to promote that race with the IRL. Michael is really really popular there. It was a lot of people. I was extremely happy to see that. That's all we need. We need to bring people to the race track. That's why we race. We race for them. I wasn't surprised at all because we did really work hard with autograph sessions in the city. Parties, closing streets, and showing them race cars. So I was make yourself proud, because you said ok, the work that I done was worth it." [Editor's Note: the crowd was estimated by everyone as only 15,000, but perhaps that's good for the IRL]
AR1: See you in Victory Lane?
Kanaan: Big smile. 
 Rick Schenk

8/30/03

AR1 chats with Felipe Giaffone  AR1 was at Chicagoland testing today and interviewed a few drivers, one being a returning Felipe Giaffone.
Q. Are you having any problems with the pedals in your car?
Giaffone: "The pedals are a little softer and taller so now I can hold them flat".
Q.  You tell your crew chief you always hold it flat, don't you?
Giaffone: "(Laughs) We can't lie right now because they have all the telemetry so if you lie they know right away. Actually though, they told me I was not flat. They said you better put your foot down. I said it is. They said uh uh. So I put my left foot on my right foot and pushed it down.
Q.  Are there simulators you can work on before you come out to test?
Giaffone: "Well yeah, they do a few things there but that's not pretty much my job. They do, they know what we have done here, what we have used in the past. If a track, like Japan, we have never run and we go there first time, they simulate in the computer gears and everything."
Q.  Having a broken right leg and pelvis in the July race at Kansas, do you have trouble getting rehab while you are out here on the road?
Giaffone: "Yeah, that's what's hard you know. That's why I went for only one race cause I went to Kentucky. But that is the first 3 days that I have not worked out for pretty much the full month. So then I decided not to go to Nazareth just to be ready for this test. My concern, and my doctors concern, is just like I cannot put a lot of weight on the right side all the muscle will disappear fast. So I am working flat a lot on this leg in a lot of ways."
Q.  Was it physically uncomfortable out there today?
Giaffone: "It was. I mean it was but on the other hand I have been working out a lot my upper body to be ready. I think I am in better shape than I was before. But I was just not used to the car as I was before. Even though I work out, when you drive you play with different muscles which for sure tomorrow will be a little sore, which is normal."
AR1: Godspeed Felipe
Giaffone: "You are very kind" 
 Rick Schenk

8/30/03

Allmendinger wins pole, Fogarty 4th on return   Points leader A.J. Allmendinger captured the pole position with a fast lap of 88.540 mph, setting a new track record. Michael Valiante moved up to 2nd on the grid and Aaron Justice will start 3rd.  Allmendinger is poised to win the Atlantic championship this weekend if he finishes sixth or higher.  Team Rahal's Jon Fogarty shook off the rust and qualified fourth while Danica Patrick battled an ill-handling car and qualified seventh for Sunday's Argent Mortgage Challenge at the Centrix Grand Prix of Denver.  Fogarty, the 2002 Toyota Atlantic champion, won the Denver race in 2002 starting from fourth. Fogarty hasn't driven a competitive race since that win last Labor Day weekend. Fogarty posted a fast lap of 87.647 mph.  "The session went pretty well," said Fogarty. "I just drove my ass off and the Norwalk car was pretty good and we ended up fourth. We made some changes overnight and we really didn't get a chance to check them out in this morning's practice, fortunately everyone here at Team Rahal knows what is up so we made the right changes and it paid off in qualifying. It was still a chore. It isn't anything I didn't expect after a year out of the saddle, but I feel good about it. I am happy. I started fourth here last year and we won so it seemed to work for us. Other than being a touch rusty everything is good. We have a strong car and there is still more to go so we can get some more speed out of it tomorrow. I am really looking forward to tomorrow."  Patrick slipped from fifth to seventh on the grid due to a car that was very loose. Patrick posted a quick lap of 87.428 mph.  "The Argent car was really loose today and that affected the ability of the car to get the power down which meant it was simply a handling issue we couldn't get around. I am a bit disappointed because we started so strong this weekend, but we are still seventh and it could be a lot worse. We will go back and make a few changes and we will be better for the race tomorrow."  Sunday's Argent Mortgage Challenge will be run at 12:30 pm EDT and seen on a one hour tape delay (1:30 pm EDT) on SPEED Channel.  Starting lineup for Sunday's Argent Mortgage Challenge CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race at the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver with car number in parentheses, driver, type of car, top time and speed.
1. (4) A.J. Allmendinger, Toyota/Swift, 1:06.966, 88.540 mph.
2. (19) Michael Valiante, Toyota/Swift, 1:07.268, 88.143 mph.
3. (3) Aaron Justus, Toyota/Swift, 1:07.541, 87.787 mph.
4. (1) Jon Fogarty, Toyota/Swift, 1:07.649, 87.647 mph.
5. (28) Ryan Dalziel, Toyota/Swift, 1:07.692, 87.591 mph.
6. (69) Alex Figge, Toyota/Swift, 1:07.743, 87.525 mph.
7. (24) Danica Patrick, Toyota/Swift, 1:07.818, 87.428 mph.
8. (33) Luis Diaz, Toyota/Swift, 1:07.827, 87.417 mph.
9. (7) Kyle Krisiloff, Toyota/Swift, 1:07.914, 87.305 mph.
10. (84) Jonathan Macri, Toyota/Swift, 1:07.968, 87.235 mph.
11. (27) Joey Hand, Toyota/Swift, 1:08.406, 86.677 mph.
13. (9) Alex Garcia, Toyota/Swift, 1:09.408, 85.425 mph.
12. (12) Marc Breuers, Toyota/Swift, 1:09.005, 85.924 mph.
14. (2) Eric Jensen, Toyota/Swift, 1:10.214, 84.445 mph.

8/30/03

Rain washes out Trans-Am qualifying in Denver   Qualifying for Sunday’s MotoRock Mile High 100, part of the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, was called due to a thunderstorm that hit the Denver metro area. The provisional starting grid was set by combined practice times, recorded yesterday, placing Scott Pruett (No. 7 MotoRock Jaguar XKR) on the pole. Boris Said (No. 33 ACS/GE Access/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang) will start second, ahead of rookie Jorge Diaz, Jr. (No. 8 Don Q Rum Jaguar XKR), Johnny Miller (No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR), and Tomy Drissi (No. 5 Stuck on You, The Movie). Due to the rain, a practice replaced the qualifying session. The practice started on time, was subsequently red flagged for rain, and was then checkered early due to extensive water on the course. The MotoRock Mile High 100, Round 9 of the 2003 MotoRock Trans-Am Tour for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup, will take the green flag tomorrow at approximately 4 p.m., following the Champ Car World Series race.
1. (7) Scott Pruett, Jaguar XKR, NT.
2. (33) Boris Said, Ford Mustang, NT.
3. (8) Jorge Diaz, Jr., Jaguar XKR, NT.
4. (64) Johnny MIller, Jaguar XKR, NT.
5. (5) Tomy Drissi, Jaguar XKR, NT.
6. (2) Stu Hayner, Chevrolet Corvette, NT.
7. (10) Bobby Sak, Chevrolet Corvette, NT.
8. (12) Michael Lewis, Jaguar XKR, NT.
9. (59) Justin Bell, Chevrolet Corvette, NT.
10. (49) Randy Ruhlman, Chevrolet Corvette, NT.
11. (00) Rick Lee, Qvale Mangusat, NT.
12. (86) John Baucom, Jaguar XKR, NT.
13. (11) Mike Davis, Ford Mustang, NT.
14. (06) Joey Scarallo, Chevrolet Corvette, NT.
15. (87) Wayne Hartzler, Chevrolet Camaro, NT.
16. (45) Marvin Jones, Qvale Mangusta, NT.
17. (9) Glen Andrew, Chevrolet Camaro, NT.
18. (43) George Nolte, Ford Mustang, NT.

8/30/03

CART drivers call for tire warmers   With single-car qualifying as CART is using this weekend in Denver, it's difficult to get your tires up to full operating temperature before your qualifying run is over.  In the post-qualifying press conference today the top-3 drivers, Bruno Junqueira, Oriol Servia and Sebastien Bourdais all agreed that at least one more warm-up lap should be given.  When quizzed on whether it was time for tire warmers, their unanimous response was yes, yes, and yes.  When asked who would pay for the expense of the tire warmers, Oriol Servia chimed in that tire warmers are cheap, followed immediately by Bruno Junqueira who said, "one crash on cold tires in qualifying costs more than supplying the entire field with tire warmers for the year." With tire warmers the drivers can be quick right out of the pits and start their qualifying lap the first time past the S/F line. Tire warmers, an idea whose time has come.  Mark C.

8/30/03

CART drivers happy with single-car qualifying    After hearing complaints of blocking all year, CART instituted single-car qualifying this weekend in Denver.  In the the post-qualifying press conference today the top-3 drivers, Bruno Junqueira, Oriol Servia and Sebastien Bourdais all agreed that it was much better than having everyone on the track at the same time and being blocked.  Bourdais made a point of saying you can't see around the corners very well on street circuits and when you come around a corner and all of a sudden see a slower car it ruins your lap. With single-car qualifying that's no longer an issue and he's happy about it. "It's definitely the right thing to do," said Junqueira after claiming the seventh pole of his Champ Car career and 76th for Newman/Haas Racing. Maybe we don't need it at Elkhart Lake or Mexico City or Montreal but, for sure, it's good for every street circuit. "Maybe it could be four laps instead of three, I think that would be ideal, but you can still get a good lap on your third one."  Bourdais feels like safety enters into the decision. "It's always blind on a street course and you don't know if somebody is stalled or spun out in front of you so this is definitely the way to do it," said the 24-year-old rookie from France who lines up third in the Lilly's-McDonald's Lola/Cosworth. "It's too dangerous with all the cars out there together." Junqueira said he'd like to see CART adopt the one-car format everywhere because "there are no excuses and everyone has a fair shot at the pole." But Bourdais disagreed. "It's not fair for the first three or four guys because they are already the slowest and then they go out after other series and safety trucks and the track couldn't be any worse," he said. "I'd like to see 10 minutes of practice right before qualifying like we do on the road courses. It would be more fair for the slower guys." Servia said penalizing a driver for crashing, like what happened to Mario Domínguez on Friday, is also wrong. "It should be like an oval. If you crash on your second lap you don't lose your first one and that wasn't fair for Mario.  They just need to tweak the details of single-car qualifying, the concept is good" stated Servia. While single-car qualifying makes for decent TV and gives the car's sponsor focused coverage for the 4 laps the car is on the track, it can be a bit boring for the spectators at the track.  That's where the track announcer and the Jumbotron's can help.  It will be important to keep the fans informed on how the car on a qualifying run is doing compared to the fastest so far, both lap times and segment times.  On a long track like Road America, single-car qualifying can really be boring.  Perhaps in that situation CART can keep the old formula of having everyone on the track together, or.....maintain single-car qualifying but look at the possibility of qualifying two cars simultaneously, each separated by 1/2 lap.  If one goes off, let him sit in the gravel trap and only throw a red if he's obstructing the other driver on the track. Whatever they do, it's important that CART go to single-lap qualifying to help shuffle the starting grid, making for a better race on race day. Mark C.

8/30/03

Helio Castroneves on why choose IRL over CART  AR1 was at Chicagoland testing today and interviewed a few drivers.  Helio, why should fans choose IRL over CART?  "Well, that¹s a good question. I think this is a competitive series, a very competitive battle, and winning, you never know who¹s going to win, to be honest. I would just say everybody has their own freedom to decide whatever they¹re going to follow, but I think just because I¹m here, they should follow IRL, no I¹m just kidding. Only thing I wish is that whatever happens, we have one strong open-wheel series." It doesn¹t look like it¹s going to happen, though, huh?"  "Unfortunately not, but my crystal ball is not working real well right now, I wish I could give you an answer."   Rick Schenk

8/30/03

Giaffone returns to cockpit  Felipe Giaffone returned to the cockpit of an IndyCar Series car Aug. 27 during private testing at Chicagoland Speedway. It was the first time Giaffone has been in an IndyCar Series car since he suffered fractures to his right leg and pelvis in an accident during the Kansas Indy 300 on July 6 at Kansas Speedway. "It's just great, really great to be back," Giaffone said. "My leg wasn't a big issue. Toward the end of the day, it was getting a little tired. I would feel it a little bit, but then I would just put my left foot on top of my right one and go on."

8/30/03

RuSport team announces move to Denver  CART Toyota Atlantic championship leading team RuSPORT, currently based in Loveland, Colorado, today announced their move to Denver, Colorado sometime in 2004, probably prior to the season starting. "We looked at many cities and found that Denver offers the best tangible business and economic benefits for RuSPORT to develop and succeed," said team owner Carl Russo (Photo of team owner Carl Russo on right).   "Denver is a city with a focus on the future and we see ourselves as part of that future."  Team President Jeremy Dale told us that when they looked at all the factors, Denver made a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.  "Historically, a lot of teams were based in Indy because of the long month of May.  However, being remote certainly hasn't hurt Reading, PA based Team Penske," stated Dale.  "We can get to the southwest testing venues during the Winter off-season easier and we are two hours by plane to most of the venues and our trucks are within two-days of most of the venues if we are based in Denver.  With a world class airport and a central location, not only did Denver make make the most sense for our team's needs but also offers a high quality of life, resources and opportunities for our employees families and spouses."  RuSPORT currently has 24 employees but plans to grow its staff significantly, drawing on the considerable resources Denver has to offer. 

8/30/03

Observations from Denver No one we talk to appears worried about the CART series future.  That includes team members and CART personnel.  The general feeling is that the buyout deal is close and that it will be very good.  Everyone wants to see the deal done so they can move forward.  If you notice, the CART teams and events have been signing up sponsors at a fairly regular rate now, which leads one to conclude they have faith in the new business model of the series and in the new owners (Messrs. Kalkhoven, Gentilozzi, Russo, Forsythe and MotoRock)..........The majority of drivers we spoke to are happy with the single-car qualifying.  They now get 1 warm-up lap and 3 timed laps.  The good news is that CART is going to consider reversing that in the future-- 3 warm-up laps and just a single timed lap.  Doing just a single lap perfect is very hard and is certain to shuffle the starting grid such that some of the faster cars start further back.  This will help make the races more exciting........Along those same lines we are happy to report the push-to-pass button, though not finalized, is getting closer to being approved for 2004.  This and the single-lap qualifying will certainly put an end once and for all to CART's parades such that CART can forfeit their crown as the USA's #1 parade company.  Events like here in Denver, and the next race in Miami will benefit from the push-to-pass button, tracks where today passing is nearly impossible........Ticket sales here in Denver are slightly down from last year, but talking to Jim Michaelian, they're hopeful of coming very close to last year's race day attendance.  Mark C.

8/30/03

Turkish government will underwrite entire F1 race   UPDATE The 7-year deal was officially signed Friday.  The race is a go for 2005 if the track is ready in time.  Turkey is scheduled to break ground next month on a $60-million US Formula One track in Istanbul. Federation president Mumtaz Tahincioglu said the track will be completed by March 31, 2005. ``Fears that the track won't be finished are definitely out of the question,'' said Mehmet Yildirim, president of Istanbul's Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring the project. The groundbreaking for the track on the outskirts of Istanbul had been scheduled to take place in July. Organizers said it was held up because of red tape and concerns the track could harm rare butterflies and flora in the area.  8/29/03 - Today's Financial Times reports that the Turkish government has vowed to pay Formula One the entire $13.5 per year for seven years to gain the rights to stage a F1 race in Istanbul starting in 2005.  They also vowed to pay a $25 million penalty if their track isn't ready by the March 2005 deadline.  It's commitments are contained in correspondence signed by Mehmet Ali Sahan, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister, and Kemal Unakian, Finance Minister.  "The letters are in our hands," said Mumtaz Tahinciogiu, chairman of the Formula One Association Economic Enterprise.  "They've been dispatched to the Turkish consulate in London to be notarized.  On Friday (today) the contract will be signed by Bernie Ecclestone's company and our company."  One board member said, "this is a done deal as far as we are concerned .  Unless Bernie's lawyers come up with some objection today, the contract will be signed Friday."  The $80 million track is being built on the Asian side of Istanbul (Istanbul is the only city in the world that straddles two different continents.).  Mr. Tahinciogiu stated that Tobacco sponsorship would not be allowed at the event.  How then can Bernie cancel the race in Canada because tobacco sponsorship is no longer allowed, while at the same time do a deal in Turkey where Tobacco ads will also be banned?  Bernie loses all credibility when he pulls stunts like this.  The real reason may be that he'll make more profit at some of the newer tracks, like Turkey, and he's using tobacco laws as an excuse to cancel existing races that pay a lower fee, or that limit the amount of profit Bernie's FOM company can make.  When it comes to making money, Bernie knows how to play the game.  He's usually one step ahead of everyone else, and that appears to be the case once again.

8/29/03

Fight with Busch pays off for Spencer  Jimmy Spencer learned that his trackside souvenir sales increased 40 percent over the three-day Bristol weekend as fans swarmed the Team SIRIUS souvenir location to buy Mongo T-shirts, hats and banners. If that wasn't enough to prove the public's affection, the deafening cheers of 165,000 people at Bristol Motor Speedway when the #7 SIRIUS Dodge rolled out was. Only problem, Spencer wasn't there to see it after being suspended one race for punching out Kurt Busch. Jimmy Spencer website  Jimmy Spencer said a week's suspension by NASCAR won't change his aggressive driving style, but added that he has no intention to continue bickering with Kurt Busch. ''It's over as far as I'm concerned,'' Spencer said yesterday in his first public appearance since being suspended for punching Kurt Busch following a heated race at Michigan two weeks ago. ''But I won't change the way I drive. I'll still drive hard. It's the only way I know to race.'' Tenneseean

8/29/03

Motorock makes initial announcements  UPDATE  We spoke to Jamie Rose and his MotoRock entourage (out of NY City) after today's racing action concluded. They said that in the hairpin at Miami will be a MotoRock section and it will have a footbridge crossing over to the Arena. There will be parties in conjunction with the race.   Considering MotoRock was just formed in March, it shows how connected the group is to land a big name act like Elton John.  Gentilozzi met Rose at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. "I’ve been turning money into noise for the last 30 years," Gentilozzi said with his customary grin. "Now we’re going to make a different kind of noise. This is the beginning of a concept that will turn into an entertainment company that changes the way we look at racing on the track."  During the press conference, Paul Gentilozzi said,  “A lot of things are going to come up in the next few weeks.  Jamie has some exciting announcements that are going to take place a month from now (Miami)...and the whole MotoRock idea is going to be much, much more than any of you anticipate. We’ve heard some of the media tell us what MotoRock is because we haven’t be able to tell you. I can promise that as you learn more about MotoRock, the entertainment value that it brings . . . you’ll be excited about all those things.”  According to Gentilozzi, he and Rose have discussed the MotoRock Trans-Am concept with their partners in Open Wheel Racing Series LLC and there is general agreement it “meets the philosophy of what we want to present to the fans.  He also announced that the Trans-Am Series won’t be racing at every CART event, but it will usually be part of the weekend.  They went out of their way to make it clear the MotoRock concept is not restricted to urban street races.  “Each event has its own footprint,” said Rose. “This is not a cookie-cutter concept. It will be specific to every event, be it Paintball battles, car wars . . . the shows will be specifically tailored to the individual markets.”  They also went to great lengths that racing will be front and center, and the concerts, etc will be part of the sideshow. The 2004 concert schedule won't be announced until after CART announces its schedule. Motorock’s second event will take place at the Trans-Am series finale in Puerto Rico. The concert lineup will be announced in the next two weeks.  8/29/03 - It's been well documented that Motorock and CART will be developing a close relationship next year related to concerts and racing.  This morning here in Denver, Paul Gentilozzi and Jamie Rose from Motorock announced 1) Motorock will appear as a sponsor on Alex Tagliani's car, 2) Motorock will appear as a sponsor on Scott Pruett's Trans-Am car,  3) Motorock will put on a concert in conjunction with the CART Miami race weekend featuring Elton John and a 2nd act to be announced later, 4) Motorock will be the title sponsor for the Tans-Am series.  More later....

8/29/03

Patrick and Fogarty happy with 5th & 6th  Team Rahal's first day as a two car Toyota Atlantic team, saw drivers Danica Patrick and Jon Fogarty both qualify in the top-six for Sunday's Argent Mortgage Challenge at the Centrix Grand Prix of Denver. Patrick posted the fifth fastest lap with an effort of 86.459 mph while Fogarty returning to competitive driving for the first time in a year was sixth at 86.342 mph. "This is another good start to a race weekend," said Patrick. "It is encouraging that we are starting strong and looking to fine tune the car instead of making major changes to find the setting. That has just comes with experience and with the team and I starting to make a connection. I think there is more in the Argent car and it is just a case of making the small changes to bring that out. Having Jon as a teammate this week has been helpful. His knowledge of the track gave us a great baseline to start and has really helped us make the acclimate ourselves quickly." "It is a little bitter sweet being back in the car," said Fogarty. "The car was pretty good and I am happy with my performance overall, but I made a mistake on my last lap in the next to last corner and lost what would have been my fastest lap. It really doesn't matter because it is just dust in the wind now. The Norwalk car is good and it is capable of more that I gave it. I am still knocking the rust off, but with each lap I feel more and more comfortable and I try to make fewer mistakes. It is amazing how many little intangibles that you lose, things that aren't really quantifiable, but just things that help you get back on the pace." Points leader A.J. Allmendinger captured the provisional pole position with a fast lap of 87.641 mph. Allmendinger is poised to win the Atlantic championship this weekend if he finishes sixth or higher. Practice and qualifying will resume on Saturday for Sunday's Round 11 of the 2003 Toyota Atlantic Championship.

8/29/03

Team Rahal and Argent Mortgage announce charity effort  Team Rahal and Argent Mortgage Company announced today a charitable program that will raise funds for Camp Heartland based upon the on track performance of Team Argent Toyota Atlantic driver Danica Patrick. Camp Heartland is a national, non-profit organization that enhances the lives of children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS through year-round support, advocacy, recreational programs and community AIDS-awareness efforts. The cornerstone of the program will see Argent and Team Rahal combining to donate $100 for each lap Patrick completes in the remaining Toyota Atlantic Championship events of the 2003 season. A bonus of $2,000 will be donated for each race win by the Argent car. In the event the Argent car fails to finish the event a minimum donation of $3,000 will be made by Argent and Team Rahal. "There is no greater cause than helping children," said Bobby Rahal, Team Rahal owner. "Argent has a longstanding relationship with Camp Heartland and when they invited us to join them in this program it was an opportunity we were glad to embrace. It is a great feeling to be able to make a difference in the lives of these kids and to make the difference through racing." "Supporting an organization such as Camp Heartland is wonderful on many levels," said Johanna Maher of Argent Mortgage. "To see these children in person and experience the smiles, happiness and the liberation they display as individuals and a group is simply heart stopping. They tackle every day as if they are not affected by this terrible disease. Trust and encouragement are important to these children and Argent is delighted to provide our support. " As a kick-off to the program Team Rahal and Argent Mortgage Company have made the program retroactive to the race at Montreal last week.

8/29/03

CART penalizes Domínguez  As noted in the Official Champ Car Qualifying results issued at 4:13pm local time today, Mario Dominguez was penalized for causing a red flag stoppage during qualifying by the loss of his fastest lap. The time of his previous lap was 1 minute, 3.732 seconds (93.033 mph/149.722 kph), dropping him to 16th on the provisional grid.   As if crashing and damaging the car isn't bad enough, CART added insult to injury by taking away his fastest lap moving him down to 15th fastest.  We guess this means one can never crash in racing and must be perfect.  CART is the only series in the world that penalizes a driver for crashing.  It's one thing to do something against the rule book, or endangering another driver, and be penalized, and quite another to be penalized for crashing.  This is analogous to dropping a pass in Football, and to be penalized because you dropped it, or to strike out in baseball and have to sit out the next inning.  CART needs to add a new rule to their rule book that outlaws crashing.  They have one for timed sessions - rule 6.10.5A.2 in the CART rule book, which says if you cause a red flag you lose your fastest lap.  However, in oval track qualifying (single car) they don't penalize someone for crashing.  There has been single car oval track qualifying for years with no penalty. To do it now just because it is a road course is plain silly. Guess what, this was single car qualifying too, and yes, in oval qualifying, the next car in line goes out before the prior car is off the track.  Mark C.

8/29/03

CART stock watch  In NYSE trading today MPH closed DOWN $0.13 p/shr or 11.11% to $1.04 p/shr on Volume of 103,700 shares.
Multiple trades of 8,000 shares or more, one as high as 15,000.
Low/High of Session: $1.00/$1.16
NYSE UP 41.61 or 0.44% on Volume of 1.11B shares.
NASDAQ UP 10.40 or 0.58%
S&P 500 UP 5.16 or 0.51%
A safe and restful Labor Day Weekend to all.
courtesy of C3I.AndersonGroupe – Chicago
www.andersongroupe.com

8/29/03

Allmendinger extends point lead with provisional pole  With his eyes focused on wrapping up the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship title this weekend, rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT) extended his championship lead by another point by putting his car on the provisional pole for Sunday's Argent Mortgage Challenge at the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver (SPEED Channel, 2:00 p.m. ET). With a best lap of 1:07.653 (87.641 mph), Allmendinger obliterated the previous Toyota Atlantic track record at the 1.647-mile temporary street circuit of 1:09.085 (85.825 mph) established by Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record) in the inaugural Toyota Atlantic visit to the Mile High City last year. It was the 13th time this season that Allmendinger has earned a bonus championship point for being the fastest qualifier, and he has earned an additional six bonus points for leading the most laps in each of his six race victories this season, which has significantly contributed to the 27 point lead he now holds over Dalziel. If Allmendinger's lead is more than 22 points after Sunday's race, he will clinch the title and become the second consecutive rookie driver to wear the Toyota Atlantic crown. Qualifying second on the provisional grid was Michael Valiante (#19 Lynx Racing) at 1:08.306 (86.804 mph). The Canadian has started inside the top four positions in each of his past five starts, including a pair of second place starting spots in the last three races. However, he goes into Saturday's final round of qualifying looking for his second career pole position and his first since starting on the inside of the front row at Trois-Rivieres last year. Third quickest in the provisional qualifying session was Allmendinger's RuSPORT teammate Aaron Justus (#3 RuSPORT) at 1:08.360 (86.735 mph). Justus was second-quick in the morning practice session and briefly led the session before a light brush with the wall and a mechanical problem prevented him from advancing further up the grid. Nevertheless, Justus credited his previous experience at the track with his speed on the first day, and he expects to improve throughout the weekend. He has started inside the top five in each of the past five events. Dalziel, the defending Denver polesitter, was fourth on the provisional grid after turning in a best lap of 1:08.419 (86.660 mph). He has started third in each of the past three races and has not failed to qualify outside the top four since he put his car ninth on the grid for the season-opening Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix. He has also finished second in each of the past three races, and knows that he will need a win or podium finish and some help if he is to push the championship fight to the season finale in Miami next month. Rounding out the top five in provisional qualifying was Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company), who posted a best lap of 1:08.578 (86.459 mph). The rookie has qualified inside the top five in two of her past three starts, is working with a teammate for the first time this season, as Jon Fogarty (#1 Norwalk Furniture) has joined the team for the final two races. Fogarty-the defending champion of the Argent Mortgage Challenge and the reigning champion of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship-joins Patrick on the provisional third row after qualifying sixth at 1:08.671 (86.342 mph).

1. (4) A.J. Allmendinger, Toyota/Swift, 1:07.653, 87.641 mph.
2. (19) Michael Valiante, Toyota/Swift, 1:08.306, 86.804 mph.
3. (3) Aaron Justus, Toyota/Swift, 1:08.360, 86.735 mph.
4. (28) Ryan Dalziel, Toyota/Swift, 1:08.419, 86.660 mph.
5. (24) Danica Patrick, Toyota/Swift, 1:08.578, 86.459 mph.
6. (1) Jon Fogarty, Toyota/Swift, 1:08.671, 86.342 mph.
7. (33) Luis Diaz, Toyota/Swift, 1:08.723, 86.277 mph.
8. (69) Alex Figge, Toyota/Swift, 1:08.815, 86.161 mph.
9. (84) Jonathan Macri, Toyota/Swift, 1:09.004, 85.925 mph.
10. (7) Kyle Krisiloff, Toyota/Swift, 1:09.095, 85.812 mph.
11. (27) Joey Hand, Toyota/Swift, 1:09.199, 85.683 mph.
12. (9) Alex Garcia, Toyota/Swift, 1:10.227, 84.429 mph.
13. (12) Marc Breuers, Toyota/Swift, 1:10.473, 84.134 mph.
14. (2) Eric Jensen, Toyota/Swift, 1:11.389, 83.055 mph.
15. (8) Philip Fayer, Toyota/Swift, no time, no speed.

8/29/03

Reynards show well  Although smoother this year, Denver is still a bumpy track, so why are the Reynard drivers so competitive given the Reynard is known to not like the bumps.  Darren Manning had two theories.  First some of the Reynard drivers come from F3000 who have to come up to speed quickly to set a good qualifying time.  Second, because the cars lose so much downforce, what little is left is not important to the overall lap time as is mechanical grip and tire temperatures.

8/29/03

Why Bruno Junqueira broke the track record  Champ Cars have less HP and no traction control this year, so how did Bruno Junqueira break his lap record in Denver set last year?  "Top-end HP is not important here because you are not full throttle that much, but more importantly, the track is 29% smoother than last year," stated Junqueira.  How do you know it's 29% smoother, we quizzed? "Our Engineers monitor the up and down movement of the dampers and this year they are moving 29% less," replied Junqueira.

8/29/03

Sportsbook.com to sponsor Darren Manning  Team owner Derrick Walker announced today that Sportsbook.com has signed on as a primary sponsor of rookie Darren Manning’s #15 RAC Walker Racing Champ Car entry in a rare foray of an on-line gaming company into the motorsports arena.  “We are delighted to have an international company of Sportsbook.com’s caliber further their motorsports sponsorship in the Champ Car World Series with Walker Racing,” said team owner Derrick Walker. “We look forward to growing a partnership that allows Sportsbook.com to grow their brand throughout the international platform in which we compete.”  More.....

8/29/03

DEI hires Andretti for #1 car   Dale Earnhardt, Inc. has hired John Andretti to drive the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet beginning with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 6, 2003. Andretti is a two-time winner in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition who brings more than 10 seasons of experience to the team. Earlier this month, he drove a DEI-supported Chance 2 entry at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; where he qualified 11th. “The racing heritage we have at DEI is unparalleled,” said Teresa Earnhardt, President and CEO of Dale Earnhardt Inc. “We look forward to making this team stronger with the invaluable experience that John brings.” Since the May race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Jeff Green and Ron Fellows have shared driving duties in the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet. This year, the team has earned a Bud Pole Award and two top-10 finishes. Andretti is the nephew of Mario Andretti and godson of AJ Foyt, both accomplished championship drivers in their own right. John is looking forward to his name now being associated with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., as well. “I look at driving for DEI as a great opportunity,” John said. “I’m excited to become a member of the team for the next few races. And, it’s also nice to be reunited with Pennzoil again. I drove an Indy Car they sponsored in 1991 and 1992 and won my first race in their yellow car. This team at DEI is established in NASCAR and I’m hoping to do a good for them.” In addition to his two-career NASCAR victories, Andretti has also earned four Bud Pole Awards, 13 top-five and 37 top-10 finishes. DEI

8/29/03

Haberfeld under track record in Denver, 0.070 sec. cover top 4  Rookie Mario Haberfeld put his Reynard to the top of the time sheets, and faster than last year's pole time, right at the end of the second practice session in Denver. The Brazilian headed Championship leader Paul Tracy who had two spins, the second damaging the rear wing of his Lola. Single-car qualifying is next, with Tracy and Haberfeld the last two to run. More practice news here soon. CART

8/29/03

Miami added to 2003 Trans-Am schedule, MotoRock new sponsor, Elton John to perform  MotoRock LLC has signed a multi-year agreement to become title sponsor of the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup. The Series will now be known as the MotoRock Trans-Am Tour for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup. The agreement is a continuation of MotoRock’s title sponsorship of the MotoRock Mile High 100, part of the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver. The announcement was made in Denver by MotoRock Chairman and CEO Jamie Rose, Trans-Am Series principal Paul Gentilozzi and Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett.

Under the new agreement, MotoRock will present cutting-edge music and ambient programming as part of racing weekends. The Grand Prix Americas event will feature Elton John, with another act to be announced later.

With the title sponsorship, the Series announced it would run its first event in conjunction with MotoRock this year, with a return to the Grand Prix Americas in Miami, Sept. 26-28, along with the Champ Car World Series. The added Miami round brings the total races on this year’s schedule to 11.

“MotoRock is a new generation of pop culture that blends cars, stars and guitars,” said Rose. “MotoRock is a series of live events that showcase the excitement of motorsports, music and lifestyle, while delivering a unique new form of broadcast entertainment programming. It’s the new breed of speed.

“By integrating music, lifestyle and entertainment, MotoRock hopes to bring a new audience to the thrill of motorsports, as well as a dramatically enhanced opportunity for media partners and corporate sponsors at every level,” concluded Rose.

“This agreement shows a significant change in direction for the Trans-Am Series and represents an important step forward for the Series,” said Clagett. “Pairing popular music with the Trans-Am Series is a perfect fit, as both are American institutions. We are proud to be a part of this venture.

“We’re also looking forward to returning to Miami,” added Clagett. “The South Florida market is a perfect fit for the Trans-Am Series. The location is ideal and boasts some of the most avid racing fans in North America. The event was extraordinarily exciting last year, and we expect, with the addition of MotoRock, this year’s event will be even better.”

The Trans-Am Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Series is America’s oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 38th anniversary in 2003.

MotoRock is the creation of a popular culture brand that blends the enthusiast markets of cars, stars and guitars. It is a yearly series of destination live events that showcase the excitement of motorsports, music and lifestyle while delivering a unique new form of broadcast entertainment programming. MotoRock & Trans-Am

8/29/03

Motorock named title sponsor of Denver Trans-Am race  MotoRock LLC has agreed to become title sponsor of the Sunday, Aug. 31 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup race, part of the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver. The race, Round 9 of this year’s Trans-Am Series championship, will be called the MotoRock Mile High 100. The announcement was made by MotoRock Chairman and CEO Jamie Rose, Trans-Am Series Principal Paul Gentilozzi and Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett.

The MotoRock Mile High 100 is running in conjunction with Champ Car World Series on the 1.647-mile temporary street course in downtown Denver. The Trans-Am Series returns this year after being part of the Grand Prix of Denver in 2002.

“The Trans-Am Series was chosen as a MotoRock partner because of its raw energy, excitement, fan loyalty, and history,” said Rose. “Denver was chosen as the first MotoRock event because of the loyalty of the fans, excitement of the city and that it plays host to the Trans-Am Series and the Champ Car World Series.”

“We’re pleased to welcome MotoRock to the Trans-Am Series,” said Clagett. “The Trans-Am Series is an American icon, and pairing it with the rock and roll is a perfect fit. We’re privileged to be a part of it.”

The MotoRock Mile High 100 is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 31. The race will air on tape-delayed basis on Monday, Sept. 1 on SPEED Channel at 1:30 p.m. The Trans-Am Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Series is America’s oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 38th anniversary in 2003.

MotoRock is the creation of a popular culture brand that blends the enthusiast markets of cars, stars and guitars. It is a yearly series of destination live events that showcase the excitement of motorsports, music and lifestyle while delivering a unique new form of broadcast entertainment programming.  MotoRock & Trans-Am

8/29/03

Townsend Bell to attend F1 event   Leading American racer Townsend Bell is the latest driver to join the star line-up at Rockingham this weekend for the unique Trust Thunder at the Rock, Formula One event which is being run in association with the Minardi team. Bell, who has previously raced on the Northamptonshire banked oval circuit in the CART Fed Ex Champ Car series, will switch this weekend to the road course, joining drivers including Minardi F1 regulars Jos Verstappen and Nicolas Kiesa in the teams unique F1x2 cars. Also trading places, Jos Verstappen will try his hand at lapping the banked oval track on Saturday afternoon in a 500-horsepower Days of Thunder Pontiac. Another of the Days of Thunder cars, which will race on Sunday, has been sponsored by the rock band ‘The Darkness’, who will be performing at the end of the race day.

8/29/03

Atlanta signs sponsors   President and General Manager Ed Clark announced that Bass Pro Shops and MBNA have signed for the track's fall race for the next four years, and Golden Corral has signed for the spring race for the next three. "That was huge for us to find three great partners to work with to further grow what are already the two largest single-day sporting events in Georgia," Clark said. But more than that, he said all of racing should share his enthusiasm. "Even with the current economic climate, racing has definitely held its own," Clark said. "Companies are obviously still seeing great returns - in fact, greater than almost any other sport - or else we wouldn't be succeeding." "Golden Corral is really excited to be associated with NASCAR and the Atlanta Motor Speedway for their spring race in March 2004," said Bob McDevitt, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Franchise Operations. "We chose the Atlanta race because the broadcast is highly rated, and it's always a great race because the track is so fast. We also like the fact that this race is in March, which kicks off our peak sales season. Its just a great fit."

8/29/03

Joe Gibbs Performance vehicle   As a three-time Super Bowl-winning NFL coach, NASCAR team owner with two Winston Cup championships, philanthropic leader and dedicated family man, Joe Gibbs drives every successful life endeavor with integrity, quality and teamwork. His new Joe Gibbs Performance Chevrolet Silverado is no different.   Merging his two lanes of life - passion for racing and remarkable business acumen - Gibbs presents this vehicle with an exclusive, yet affordable edge for distinct driver satisfaction. The Joe Gibbs Performance Silverado boasts race-bred style, best-in-class engineering, beyond-peak performance and the same high standard of quality customers expect from the General Motors name.  The Silverado will include performance features such as Gibbs/Baer-designed brake package, Gibbs-designed Eaton Generation V "Roots" type supercharger/intercooler system rated at 395 horsepower and 425 foot pounds of torque, Gibbs-designed suspension system (shocks, springs, sway bars), and Tonneau cover with Joe Gibbs Performance logo.

8/29/03

New sponsor for Fittipaldi team - Denver only  The Magnolia Hotel Denver joins the Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing team as an associate sponsor for this weekend’s Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver. Team owner Emerson Fittipaldi is thrilled to have the Magnolia Hotel as a sponsor. “I am extremely pleased to have such a magnificent hotel as the Magnolia Hotel as a sponsor this weekend,” he said. “Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing is very proud to be associated with such a prestigious property.”  “This is a special opportunity for us to be involved with the Fittipaldi-Dingman Race team,” said Mike Pratt, the Director of sales and marketing for the hotel, “not to mention hosting the prestigious VIP Sunday Night Driver’s Party. To be associated with such a class organization such as theirs is truly a pleasure and we look forward to an exciting weekend. The Magnolia Hotel will certainly be cheering for Tiago Monteiro to bring the Denver Grand Prix trophy to our hotel at the end of the race!”  The hotel will also be the site of this weekend’s Driver’s VIP Party hosted by Fittipaldi-Dingman driver Tiago Monteiro Sunday night following the race. There are still a limited number of tickets available for the party. Tickets are $125 with proceeds going to charity. For ticket information, contact Darrell Nardiello at 303-523-5032.

8/29/03

A lap around Laguna Seca with Frank Biela   The American Le Mans Series will compete in the Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., Sep. 5-7. In this first-person narrative, Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 driver Frank Biela of Germany, a four-time winner in the ALMS in 2003, describes how he drives a lap of the 2.238-mile circuit. Biela knows his way quite well as he has won the ALMS event at Monterey the past two years Laguna Seca is one of the most demanding tracks of the ALMS. It is a very beautiful track, sitting above a picturesque landscape, where the weather is always beautiful. Driving there is always a lot of fun. But the track is very difficult, especially finding the right line. There are some corners that are hanging to the outside. Then there are other ones where the apex is slightly banked before it becomes flat on the exit again. From a driver's point of view the track is very difficult and demanding.

Difficulties start as soon as in Turn 1. After a relatively long straight you come over a crest and must brake downhill which always gives a funny feeling. The first corner hangs to the outside. When you turn into the corner the car starts to understeer. As soon as you get on the gas, it changes to oversteer. You exit in second gear and accelerate for a right hand corner which is faster than you expect it to be. It´s not so difficult to find the line through this corner as the classic outside-inside-outside thing works. The next right hand corner is very, very fast despite hanging a bit to the outside. It's very difficult to see the entrance and get the turn-in point right. You take it in fourth gear and change to fifth before the exit. While you normally avoid the kerbs at Laguna Seca because there is so much sand, you have to take them at the exit of this corner. You accelerate up into sixth gear before entering a left hand corner which is a little banked at the entrance. That's why you have to turn in earlier than you would tend to do. At the apex, the grip level is very high. You don't want to have an understeering car in this corner because you have to be early on the throttle. You have a slight oversteer at the exit, which is no big problem because you are going in third or fourth gear and have no wheelspin.

Accelerating uphill to sixth gear you enter a fast left hand corner with an almost blind entrance because it is situated behind a crest. To take as much speed as possible for the rest of the uphill part, you take the kerbs on both side of the track. However, you can't drive too hard over the kerbs on the inside because the car would jump. After the rest of the uphill section you arrive at probably the most famous corner of all the ALMS circuit, the famous "Corkscrew". You can't see the braking point which is as difficult to find as the point to turn into the corner. It's also easy to lock the wheels because the track is going downhill again. You lose grip and it is difficult to control the car and to enter the left hand corner. The Corkscrew itself is always a strange feeling for the driver. It's interesting but very difficult. If you get the right line, you are very fast, changing from second to third before the next right hand corner where you feel a compression. If you don't get the Corkscrew right, you can easily go off there.

The next downhill left hand corner is very fast. Again you have to turn in earlier than you would normally do. You take it in fourth or fifth gear before entering a fast banked right hand corner. You run over the kerbs at the exit, but you risk going off there into the dirt with the left side of the car. If you do so, your lap is destroyed. This downhill right-left section is very fast and physically demanding for the driver because the grip level is very high and you have so much g forces.

The last corner is no big deal. You have to brake as late as possible. The exit is very important because quite a long straight follows. The corner is not so nice because it is very slow. You do about 80 kph which means you get a lot of wheelspin which gets worse and worse during the race with the tyres going down. So, every time you do this corner quite well and you do not lose too much speed at the exit, you feel quite happy.

8/29/03

Stewart stays with Gibbs   Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart ended speculation about his future by agreeing Thursday to a five-year contract extension that will keep him with Joe Gibbs Racing through 2009. "I'm happy to have all of this worked out," said Stewart, who races Sunday in the Southern 500. "Joe Gibbs and everyone associated with Joe Gibbs Racing have been very good to me in the seven years I've been here. "They've always given me everything I need out on the race track, and they've always been there to support me off the track as well."

8/29/03

Latest F1 news items 

Wilson Hopes For Bigger Jaguar Budget
Trio Brace For Fierce Fifth Battle
Title Protagonists 'Make Too Many Mistakes'
Sauber To Revise Current Car In 2004?
Ferrari Reveal 'Probable' Cause Of Shunt
Montoya Aims For Title Lead At Monza
Toyota Boss Marvels At New Health Of F1
Rule Me Out At Your Peril: Schumacher
Ferrari Slowing Down Bridgestone?
Coulthard Joins Criticism Of Hungaroring
Jarno Trulli Sides With F1 Impresario
Minardi 'For Sale': Stoddart To Abramovich
Canada Fights Two-Week F1 Deadline
Montoya's Hero Is Colombian's Biggest Fan
Bernie Can Forget Permanent Exemption

8/28/03

Leffler lands Cup ride   Haas CNC Racing announced today Jason Leffler will be behind the wheel of the NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac for the remainder of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup season and continue with the team in 2004. I’m happy to be a part of the Haas CNC Racing team,” said Leffler, 27. “It’s a great team and a great opportunity for me to get back to the Winston Cup Series. Gene Haas, Joe Custer and Tony Furr have worked hard to get me here and I’m looking forward to our future together. NetZero is a great sponsor and I’d like to thank everybody involved for giving me this chance.” Leffler, who was active in the Winston Cup Series in 2001 while racing for car owner Chip Ganassi, has been a fierce competitor on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck circuit for the past two seasons. In 2002, Leffler racked up eight pole positions en route to a fourth-place finish in the championship point standings. During the first 16 races of the 2003 campaign, Leffler captured his first victory, which came at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, and scored two additional poles. “We are thrilled to have Jason Leffler become a permanent part of our team,” stated Joe Custer, General Manager of Haas CNC Racing. “We think Jason is a good, young driver with a ton of potential and we look forward to a long, successful future together.” Leffler, a native of Long Beach, Calif., will make his fourth start behind the wheel of the No. 0 NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac this weekend at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

8/28/03

IRL drivers still long for CART  Dave Argabright writes in his latest NSSN column from Nazareth about how the team owners now in the IRL have no interest in hiring short track oval racers and the current crop of drivers are all road races.  He talks about USAC featuring three divisions at Nazareth, including the midgets and sprints.  While they were on the track racing and dicing it out one reporter told of stepping into a luxury coach behind the pit area, where two prominent IndyCar drivers were relaxing.  Instead of walking 50 yards to watch the midget race, they were watching CART qualifying on TV.  A very telling scenario indeed.

8/28/03

CART continues dismal TV ratings on SPEED  CART's Sunday race from Montreal recorded a pathetic 0.26 (152,000 HH) rating on SPEED.  By comparison, also on SPEED, Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain scored some of its best Nielsen ratings to date as the Aug. 19 viewer call-in program discussing the Jimmy Spencer-Kurt Busch spectacle scored a 0.40 (229,000 households) and Mike Helton's appearance on Aug. 21 picked up a 0.37 (213,000 households) ... SPEED Channel's 2 Wheel Tuesday programming is settling in nicely to its new 10 p.m. ET time slot as the Aug. 26 show scored a 0.44 (252,000 HH) ... These ratings indicate CART's on-track parades have made the series almost comatose.  While CART's hardcore fans get upset when we make fun of CART's parades, the good news is that CART may be changing things for next year with the implementation of ideas like single-lap qualifying and a push-to-pass button.  Something has to be done, as doing nothing could be fatal.

8/28/03

Some insight into Kevin Kalkhoven  Thought you might find this article on CART team owner, and soon-to-be CART series owner Kevin Kalkhoven interesting.  It gives you some insight into the man, and what makes him tick.  CART is lucky to have him on their side right now.  Related article.

8/28/03

Spencer to replace Leffler at Richmond   NASCAR Veteran Jimmy Spencer has been tabbed as the replacement for Jason Leffler as the driver of the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge for the Virginia is for Lovers 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Richmond, VA. Leffler will take over the reins of the No. 0 Net Zero Pontiac on a full time basis in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. "Jason has a chance to move up to the NASCAR Winston Cup ranks and we wish him the very best of luck," said Ron Weiner, President of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). "We certainly appreciate the effort that he put forth on our behalf over the past two years. By the same token, we are very appreciative to Jimmy Spencer for helping us out at Richmond, where ASE is celebrating our 200th race as an NCTS sponsor. "Mr. Excitement" is a working-man's driver, and the 450,000 ASE certified mechanics clearly identify with his work ethic and his 110% efforts on the track."

8/28/03

Major blow to karting as talks break down  Just when it looked liked go-karting would be consolidated and end the confusion over which path to take, The Snap-on Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow presented by RACER released the following statement regarding the previously announced intention to merge operations with Superkarts! USA. "After understanding the situation through due diligence of the material requested by Stars of Tomorrow, LLC in its proposed purchase of SKUSA stock and/or selected assets, it was decided by the Board of Directors of Stars of Tomorrow, LLC that any such purchase would not be in the best business interests of Stars of Tomorrow, LLC or the sport of karting as well. While the philosophical arguments for a purchase of SKUSA were clear, the sustainable business model through such a purchase could not be justified. “While those involved at Stars of Tomorrow are regretful of such a conclusion, it is the mandate of the Board of Directors to continue with the progress made during the 2003 season.”   Just as CART and the IRL remain divided and going nowhere, the same exists for go-karting, with the competition between the two groups holding both back from really taking off. 

8/28/03

More bad press for CART in Denver - Nothing left in CART's tank  The Denver press just keeps pouring it on, pounding CART into oblivion.  First it was the Denver Post, now it's the Rocky Mountain News.  This article says, The picture was supposed to get brighter. Before Championship Auto Racing Teams came to town for the inaugural Grand Prix of Denver, the CEO acknowledged the company's shaky financial status but professed optimism in its future. "This series has had its hits, don't get me wrong," Chris Pook said. "But I believe that we're over the pass. And we're growing the series back." In the 12 months since then, the company has been hemorrhaging cash. After losing more than $43 million in the first six months of the year, CART announced it would run out of money by the end of next year. Some analysts think the bottom will be reached well before then. "It is clear there will be no 2004 (season) unless CART is sold to people with awfully deep pockets," Forrest Bond, a 40-year veteran of the motor sports scene, wrote in his well-respected newsletter, Racefax. Bond reviewed CART's financial statements and concluded that the company would go broke by the end of this year. "The best-case scenario leaves CART with just $3.4 million to celebrate New Year's, and the worst-case, minimum projected revenue and maximum projected expenses would leave the company $2.3 million in the red," Bond wrote. One group of investors, Open Wheel Racing Series, offered to buy CART on Aug. 18, but the offer, for 50 cents a share, was less than one-third the stock price. While the company did not sign the group's initial letter of intent, CART's board of directors conducted a full-day meeting Saturday and decided to pursue some type of agreement with the group. "Management was given very clear direction to continue its negotiations with Open Wheel Racing Series and seek to conclude those negotiations as quickly as possible so that everyone clearly understands the future direction of the company," Pook said in a prepared statement. Speed matters as much in these negotiations as it does on the racetrack. As long as uncertainty hovers above CART's future, race teams will have trouble securing sponsorships. And without sponsors' dollars, teams will have trouble securing drivers' contracts, hiring other personnel or building their program for next year. And already, it looks like next year will come at a higher price than this year did.

8/28/03

Kurt Busch neutered   "I want to offer a sincere apology to the fans, my team, my sponsors, NASCAR, the media and my fellow competitors. I am still learning how to deal with public situations that are suddenly placed in front of me while filled with adrenalin from the racetrack. All Winston Cup drivers with experience have learned to do this. It is obvious to me that I handled the situation poorly, which is one reason why I accepted NASCAR's punishment without appeal. I appreciate that Jack Roush, Roush Racing and Newell Rubbermaid are committed to helping me grow and improve. "Earlier this week, Jack Roush and my sponsors at Newell Rubbermaid separately met with me to discuss the recent events and to review them from many different perspectives. They made it clear to me that in addition to being competitive on the track, that Rubbermaid, Sharpie, Irwin, and the entire Rubbermaid family of companies, deserve and need me to be a true and complete ambassador of their great products. "I have committed to do my best to uphold the proud name of Rubbermaid and Roush Racing on and off the track. With that in mind, I will continue to compete on a week-to-week basis in a manner that will make my sponsors, team and fans proud. I am here to win every weekend and the entire team supports that. I look forward to Darlington and the rest of the season. "I know very well that words are cheap and that my sincerity and commitment will be judged by what I do in the weeks and months ahead. I am going to work very hard with the help of my sponsors, Roush and my teammates to live up to the promises I am making today. I truly hope all racing fans will support me as well."

8/28/03

Toyota Tundra makes first official test   The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Toyota Tundra race truck, which will make its racing debut in February 2004 at Daytona, ran its initial test yesterday at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C. The historic session was the first for the manufacturer since it officially submitted the truck to NASCAR in July. Veteran racer Joe Ruttman handled the driving duties at the 0.455-mile oval. "It was another significant step in the truck program’s progression,” said Jim Aust, vice president of Motorsports at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., and president and CEO of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) U.S.A. “For Toyota, it is a special day as we prepare for the Tundra’s debut at Daytona next February. It is a rewarding moment for those who have worked on the truck program over the last year.” The test was conducted to learn the Tundra race truck’s basic characteristics, evaluate systems, and gain first impressions on down force and balance. “It’s really an honor to be first to climb behind the wheel of the Tundra,” said Ruttman, a NASCAR Craftsman Truck veteran since the series’ inception in 1995. “For being its first time on the track, I was really impressed with the truck’s performance. It hit as close to the mark as any new race vehicle could hope to achieve for a first test. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the truck’s learning curve and contributing to its progression.” The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Toyota Tundra will continue testing throughout the fall in preparation for the 2004 season. Photo Credits: "Worth Canoy-VPS Motorimages"

8/28/03

First test of new Ford F-150 not so good   NASCAR Craftsman Truck driver Rick Crawford and the folks at Ford Racing planned to use all of Thursday to learn the ins and outs of the new 2004 Ford F-150. Instead, they lost an engine only 2 hours into the test and had to pack up and head home. "We didn't get nearly as much on-track time as we'd hoped for on our maiden voyage, but I think we still learned a lot," Crawford said. "This truck has a lot of promise and potential. We were creeping up on it; every run was faster and faster. This truck has surely not reached its peak." Still, in the 25 or so laps Crawford was able to run, he managed a top speed of around 170 mph. "Today was just about getting ready for 2004, trying to get a leg up," said Robert Brooks, NASCAR truck program manager for Ford Racing. "We'll take all of the information we gathered today and give it to the whole Ford family for next year. It wasn't as much as we'd hoped for, but it's still a great start." Crawford and several other Ford drivers were in Atlanta just last month to test different tape configurations on the front air dam, measuring how much it changed the trucks' cooling system and downforce. "Between that last test and this test, I have a real comfort zone here in Atlanta," Crawford said. "This is a great, fast track. I wish I would have had the afternoon to play around with the new truck, because we were pretty conservative in the morning, but we feel good about how things went."

8/28/03

Cause of Barrichello accident  After an accurate analysis of the available data and after studying film of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Scuderia Ferrari has ascertained the most probable cause of Rubens Barrichello’s accident in the event. When he found himself very close to the car which preceded him, Barrichello twice hit the curbs at an unusual angle of impact at the chicane between Turns 6 and 7. The impacts put excessive stress on the leading arm of the upper wishbone of the left rear suspension. This part then broke under heavy braking on the main straight at the start of lap 20.  Ferrari

8/28/03
Industry News

Aerodynamic seminar planned  UPDATE The two well known automotive guests are, John Dinkel, ex-R&T chief editor, and Paul VanValkenburgh, past Chevrolet race engineer and inventor, are scheduled to appear for a Q&A period at the end of the seminar.  8/27/03 - A new seminar on racecar aerodynamic development, at the Holiday Inn hotel in Burbank, CA, on September 20, will offer current aerospace perspectives on the subject. The presenter will be Paul T. Glessner, a leading aerospace engineer at America's renowned Edwards Air Force Base who has also worked on racecar aerodynamics for Champ Car, IMSA sportscar and NHRA drag racing.  The Holiday Inn is located at 150 E. Angeleno Ave. in Burbank. Two very special, well-known guests will add to the day's agenda; details to be released. To hold your spot, email ptglessner@aol.com

8/28/03

Miller on IRL attendance  Q&A from Robin Miller's latest article on RPM.ESPN.com - Q: Why doesn't IRL release attendance figures for their races? I'm particularly interested to know how the Nazareth race on Aug. 24 compared to the past spring race (2002). Greg O'Brien, Pottstown, Pa. Robin Miller: The tracks announce the attendance, not the IRL in keeping with IMS tradition. The crowd last Sunday was estimated at 15,000 and it was pathetic, especially considering what a gorgeous day it was. Moving from the cold spring date to summer obviously didn't help. I think there were more people in the stands in 2002 when it was frigid. Tracks often lie about attendance (check this year's Kentucky figure and CART's Cleveland crowd) and the season tickets are counted as bodies at most ISC events.

8/28/03

Miller on CART vs IRL  Q&A from Robin Miller's latest article on RPM.ESPN.com - Q: After seeing the great crowds for CART at Montreal (70,000 race day), and the sparse crowds for the IRL at Nazareth (15,000) last weekend, along with both series fielding 19 cars for the race, is the television deal advantage that the IRL has the only thing that is preventing it from being on life-support instead of CART? And how is the attendance battle playing out this year? Being a loyal CART fan and anti-Tony George, I love seeing all the empty seats at IRL events. Will the respectable crowds at CART help it survive in the short term? John Petersen, Denver Robin Miller: Good observation. Yes, the dying series draws 150,000 for three days and the series that's "right where we need to be" can't get 15,000 on a perfect summer day. ABC and ESPN pays Tony George (mainly thanks to Indy) to put the IRL on air while CART forks out $800,000 a race for CBS. Plus, Tony has an outlet to make money (Brickyard 400) and has much deeper pockets than CART, which must figure out a way to make money again to survive past 2004. Funny, Brian Barnhart was worried about having enough pit box space for all the IRL teams this year and they're barely ahead of CART in car count. I think at least three IRL teams are 50/50 to answer the bell next year and, without Toyota and Honda, yes the IRL would be treading water. I think you'll see Michael Andretti down to two cars next year because his sponsorship isn't that much. As far as attendance, CART kicks butt in Canada, Mexico, Australia and Long Beach but still struggles in most of its other U.S. venues, although Cleveland and Mid-Ohio both had crowds twice the size of IRL races at Nazareth and St. Louis. The IRL depends on ISC's season tickets to get crowds at Texas, K.C., Fontana, Chicago but they are smart about not charging too much compared to some of CART's high prices. But empty seats for IRL and CART races aren't good for open wheel. And CART cannot grow or even survive just solely on drawing good crowds to street races.

8/28/03

The real race in CART is on Saturday  The real race in CART is on Saturday during qualifying, with Sunday reserved as parade day. Not only we have picked up on this apparent flaw. This Rocky Mountain Newspaper article says, Pole-to-pole, wire-to-wire, green-to-checkered flag - there is nothing like being up front when it comes to winning on the CART circuit. Bruno Junqueira of Brazil found himself in that situation in last year's Grand Prix of Denver. He led all 100 laps on the 1.647-mile, temporary street course around the Pepsi Center. Scott Dixon (who started No. 4) and eventual CART champion Cristiano da Matta (No. 7) finished second and third, respectively. There certainly was nothing unique about Junqueira's win in Denver. In fact, winning from the front row has become more common in CART (the #1 parade company) than in any other venue of racing. Junqueira won Road America at Elkhart Lake, Wis., three weeks ago, also from the pole, for his only victory this season. In 14 races this season, 12 winners have come from the front row - the Nos. 1 and 2 qualifiers - and the other two have come from the second row - Adrian Fernandez in the G.I. Joe's 200 in Portland, Ore., from the No. 3 position and Michel Jourdain Jr., Sunday at Montreal, from the No. 4 position. The article goes on to further analyze the issue and talks about where, if any, is there a place the drivers can pass in Denver.  The next race is in Miami in four weeks, and if you thought Denver is hard to pass on, just wait.  CART had the opportunity to mix the starting grid up (which would result in some of the faster guys starting a few rows further back) by using single-car, single lap qualifying.  Instead they blew the call by giving the drivers three timed laps meaning they are likely to get at least one good lap and the fast guys will start up front (and finish the 2-hour procession that way).  Single-lap qualifying and/or a push-to-pass button would go a long way toward making the on-track race-day product of CART more exciting for the paying customers, i.e. the fans.

8/28/03

Status of CART buyout talks  Still no CART Board approval of Open Wheel Racing Series, LLC's bid to buy CART.  Everyone has gone relatively silent, and we believe the primary concern is getting enough shareholders to approve the sale to Open Wheel at the price bid.  We believe that all the parties involved recognize that Jon Vannini and friends could make or break the vote. Do they really want it to go before the shareholders for vote not having any idea of the outcome?  We think not.  Defeat would be devastating.  We can tell you that Kevin Kalkhoven had his first meeting with Jon Vannini on Tuesday of this week.  The meeting ended with a general feeling of mutual respect and both sides came away agreeing to talk again in a few days.  Both sides now have a better understanding of what the other's position is, and hopefully, after further thought and negotiation, this will lead to an agreement to work together.  As we have stated on numerous occasions, this deal, and the future of CART, will be much stronger if everyone is united.  We have the utmost respect for Jon Vannini, Kevin Kalkhoven, Paul Gentilozzi, Carl Russo and Gerald Forsythe.  Together they would make one heck of a strong team, each bringing different skills and resources to the deal and the organization. All have a desire to want CART to succeed, despite the enormous hurdles that must be overcome.  Let's get this done gentlemen, whatever it takes. Too many people's livelihoods, and the entire CART series and its ladder series are in jeopardy. Time is of the essence.......Mark C.

8/28/03

Conflict between Smith & France in Texas & NY City   This Winston-Salem Journal article says, Bill France and Bruton Smith have given Texas lawyers their sides of the debate over that 'promised' second Winston Cup date for Smith's Texas Motor Speedway. No matter how that lawsuit works out - a TMS stockholder has sued to force NASCAR to give the track another race - the biggest battlefront between stock-car racing's two giants is not really Texas but rather New York, where both men have been scrambling, for several years now, to find land to build a racetrack within sight of the skyline. France has Donald Trump as his point man, NASCAR executives are using New York for every possible angle of exposure for the sport, and there have been recent reports of four possible sites getting closer scrutiny, including the Aqueduct Raceway near JFK Airport. France is still positive, but Smith says he has put his New York projects on the back burner, in part because until the Texas case is resolved, there's little point in cranking up to build a track anywhere. 'I've been all over that area,' Smith says of New York. 'We started about three years ago ... and I think some other people have been right behind me, trying to go behind everything I did. 'I was offered a huge piece of property on Long Island (an old Grumman plant). Well, I didn't know much about Long Island, so I went out there for a day, and learned we can't build a speedway out there, because you can't get people out there. There are only two ways to move the people, the Long Island Railroad and the Long Island Expressway. I timed a trip from the Waldorf, at 55 mph or 60 mph, and it took us 55 minutes. So it's much farther out than I thought. 'The (then) governor (of New Jersey) wanted to sell the Meadowlands to me, and I was very interested,' he said. 'I met with her five times, Christine Whitman. She called an attorney in to work with me, and I told them I needed a copy of the lease between the state and the Giants. It took me four months ... and when I got a copy I saw why they were so reluctant. Because the Giants have the right to refuse anybody if they think it interferes with what they do. And the assemblymen I met were adamant about not having a speedway there. I forgot about that. So I'm not involved anywhere in New York at this time. That doesn't mean we might not revive something. 'But we would have to have a date or two. And NASCAR is not giving out dates.'

8/28/03

Big Toyota F1 budget  Sports Business Journal reports that Toyota's budget for its 2-car F1 effort is $300 million.  Reports like this must have some in NASCAR worried.

8/28/03
F3000

Townsend Bell may be next American in F1  This AP article says, American racer Townsend Bell is ready to play his part in Formula One's incursion into the U.S. market. He's getting a test drive with the BAR-Honda team in Monza, Italy. Bell, the 2001 CART Indy Lights champion, is racing this season in Formula 3000, a European feeder series for F1. He's on a roll he hopes will land him a ride in the big show next year. ``I was seventh in Britain, fifth in Germany and third this time,'' Bell said of his effort last weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix. ``I hope my streak continues.'' Bell has gradually improved his record over the season with five point finishes in nine out of the 10 races he has completed. The so-called silly season in F1, when contracts for the upcoming year are sealed, has been declared open and talented drivers are invited to test. Bell, 28, from San Luis Obispo, Calif., is on the lost of hopefuls. Being an American gives him an advantage, he says. ``Over in the U.S., drivers are lamenting that Canadians and Mexicans are pushed by teams and sponsors,'' Bell said. ``But F1 racing wants to conquer the American market, and so I am on pole here.'' Being in F3000 doesn't hurt either. Previous series champions who have moved to F1 include former CART stars Juan Pablo Montoya and Christian Fittipaldi. ``I will stay in Europe, because it's the place to be, if you want to drive in F1 at some stage,'' Bell said. ``You are looking for momentum. ``You need to be in the headlines, need to be talked about.'' His podium finish at the Hungarian race certainly didn't hurt his chances. But Bell has not always hit the news in a positive fashion. As a CART series rookie, he was fined $10,000 and placed on indefinite probation for his part in an accident in 2001 in Toronto, where he knocked Bruno Junqueira out of the race. Bell had previously been on probation for an accident in the Grand Prix of Monterrey and was replaced midway through the season when team owner Pat Patrick decided he was ``looking for more patience inside our cockpit.'' Now, Bell is looking to become the first American F1 driver since Michael Andretti more than a decade ago. ``I am sure I will get a shot,'' Bell said, mindful of his upcoming test in Monza. ``If I do well there, who knows. Anything can happen.''   Scenes from Hungary - Bell on his way to 3rd place.

8/28/03

Allmendinger looks to lock up crown  After setting a modern-day CART Toyota Atlantic Championship rookie record with his sixth victory of the season in last weekend's Molson Indy Montreal, A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT) wrapped up the prestigious BG Products Rookie of the Year title. In Sunday's Argent Mortgage Challenge at the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver (SPEED Channel, 2:00 p.m. ET), however, Allmendinger will be looking to put the series' biggest prize in his trophy case, as he is poised to join Jon Fogarty (#1 Norwalk Furniture) as the second consecutive rookie to win the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship title. With last weekend's Montreal win, Allmendinger mathematically eliminated every driver in the field from championship consideration except for Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record). Allmendinger holds a 26 point advantage over the Scot, and will clinch the title this weekend if that advantage is more than 22 points at the end of the day on Sunday. What may provide extra incentive for Allmendinger this weekend is the fact that his RuSPORT team is based in nearby Loveland, Colo., and it would provide a little extra sweetness-like it does for any other professional sports team-if the championship is won "at home." That being said, it isn't likely to come easy for Allmendinger this weekend. Dalziel had what was then his best weekend ever in CART Toyota Atlantic Championship competition at last year's event in Denver, as he claimed his first career Toyota Atlantic pole position and led the first 12 laps in the race en route to equaling his career best result with a second place finish. Clearly, Dalziel knows the quick way around the quirky, 1.647-mile temporary street circuit in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, and will need to use all of that knowledge to push the championship chase to Miami. Dalziel isn't the only one that will make things difficult for Allmendinger, as Fogarty, who is the defending champion of the Argent Mortgage Challenge in addition to being the reigning series champion, is returning to the cockpit for the first time since last year's battle on the streets of Denver. Fogarty announced last weekend in Montreal that he will be part of what is now a two-car assault for Team Rahal, joining rookie Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) for the final two races of the season.

8/28/03
Industry News

India overtaking Japan as #2 in Asia  Now you understand why F1 is eyeing India.  Here's one example.  India was poised to become the second-largest market in the Asia-Pacific region behind China for US software giant Oracle, its executive vice-president said on Wednesday. At the India launch of Oracle's new e-business software for the Asia-Pacific region, Derek Williams told a press conference the Chinese and Indian markets would outstrip the more mature markets of Japan and Australia. "I have had a dream. It now looks like it could turn into reality in a couple of years. China will be the biggest market in the Asia-Pacific region and India will be No 2," said Mr Williams. "I cannot give an exact time frame for the change but it will happen in a couple of years." Oracle said Japan was currently its biggest information technology (IT) market in the region followed by China, Singapore and Australia.

8/28/03

Latest F1 news items 

Montoya's F1 Future Is 'Up To Him'
Minardi Confirm Back-To-Back Arrows Test
Rubens Vows To Return From 'Scary' Shunt
Ferrari Will Lose World Championship
Kimi 'Can't Wait' To Fight Closest Battle
Williams Not Counting On F1 Title
Rubens Vents Anger On Hungaroring Staff
No Team Orders Until Ralf's Out Of Hunt
Trulli Not Worried About New Engine Design
Panis Predicts Italian Points Haul
My Brother Drives A Better F1 Car: Ralf
Alonso To Drive F1 Car In Moscow
Renault On Target For More 2003 Wins
Verstappen Swaps F1 For Saloon Seat
Mika Salo Resumes Career In Champ Car
Williams Boss Critical Of Team Drivers

  Much More...click on 2002 archives button below
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