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DATE

News (chronologically)

9/9/03
Valvoline Runoffs

Mid-Ohio celebrates 10 years as host  A record number of participants are expected to be on hand to compete in the 40th annual Valvoline Runoffs®, the Sportscar Club of America (SCCA) amateur road racing national championships, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The event, which has crowned past champions such as Bobby Rahal, Roger Penske, and Jimmy Vasser, celebrates its 10th consecutive year at Mid-Ohio, September 15-21.

The Valvoline Runoffs® represents the climax to a summer full of racing during one week of action. The cars take to Mid-Ohio’s natural terrain road course for practice on Monday, September 15 and qualify on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of race week. Beginning Friday, September 19, the racing gets fast and furious with eight races on each of the three weekend days, one for every SCCA-recognized class.

“This is a special year for the Valvoline Runoffs®, celebrating its 40th anniversary, and for Mid-Ohio, which has had the honor of hosting the event for 10 years,” said Michelle Trueman Gajoch, President of TrueSports, Inc., owner and operator of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. “The growth of the Valvoline Runoffs over the past 10 years is a testament to the continued support that the competitors, volunteers, fans, and sponsors such as Valvoline have given to this championship caliber event.”

Adding to the atmosphere through the weekend is the inclusion of every race televised on SPEED. Beginning in November, each race will be televised in one-hour blocks. As has become a holiday tradition, SPEED will air a Valvoline Runoffs® marathon on Christmas Day, broadcasting all 24 races in succession.

Tickets for the Valvoline Runoffs® can be purchased by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO or on-line at www.midohio.com. A “Super Ticket” is available for seven-day admission, beginning Monday, September 15 through the final race on Sunday, September 21 for only $32 in advance and $40 at the gate.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is located approximately halfway between Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio off of Interstate 71. Commonly referred to as the “most Competitive in the U.S.”, the Valvoline Runoffs is Mid-Ohio’s sixth and final event held this summer. For event information or tickets, visit www.midohio.com or call 1-800-MID-OHIO.

9/9/03

Sperafico returns to Coyne  Alex Sperafico will make his second career Champ Car start for Dale Coyne Racing in the upcoming Grand Prix Americas in Miami, replacing fellow Brazilian Gualter Salles who has another racing commitment in Brazil stock cars.  Alex is the cousin of F3000 drivers Ricardo and Rodrigo Sperafico. Sperafico is hoping to attract enough sponsorship to enable him to continue with Coyne full time in 2004.  Mark C.

9/9/03

Just how long the CART buyout transaction will take  There has been some confusion over exactly how long it will take for the CART buyout to conclude, including some confusion on our part.  A bit of research reveals that it will take longer than most would have thought. 

If this deal were announced today (an agreed upon buyout price by the CART Board and Open Wheel Racing Series LLC), there is no way it could be concluded for at least 90 days and probably longer. The first step is to sign a merger agreement. Then the lawyers have to prepare a proxy statement and because this appears to be a transaction where some of the existing or former directors of CART will be buying the company, a 13E-3 statement (a requirement in "insider" going private transactions) will probably be required as well. It will probably take a few weeks after the merger agreement is signed to get drafts of these documents filed with the SEC. There will then be a back-and-forth comment process with the SEC. For interested transactions it is not uncommon at all for it to take 3-6 months for the SEC to "clear" the disclosure materials. 13E-3 transactions get A LOT of scrutiny from the SEC. Once the proxy statement is cleared there will be a stockholders meeting approximately 30 days later.  If the buyers are not "insiders" it won't be a 13E-3 transaction and they may be able to clear the proxy materials throughout the SEC faster, but it still usually takes at least two months to clear a merger proxy statement. Then 30 days before a meeting so you are still probably looking at a minimum of about 90 days.

There is an alternative that can be faster. The merger agreement can provide that the buyer will conduct a tender offer. The tender offer can start almost immediately after a deal is announced. If more than 90% of the shares are tendered into the tender offer, the buyer can do what is known as a "short form" merger under Delaware law and the acquisition is complete. However, if the buyer does not get 90% in the tender offer, a proxy statement and full stockholders meeting would be required to complete the acquisition -- which again, will take several months as described above.

If this deal needs to get done quickly they will have to proceed via the tender offer route, but if the tender offer price is really only half of the current market price (though that is dropping daily) there is a real reason to question whether the tender offer will be successful since we doubt they can muster 90% of the votes given what Vannini and friends control.

Therefore, it appears to AR1 that teams, sponsors, and drivers will have to be convinced that CART will be in business in 2004 on its own merit so their contracts can be signed, because it does not appear, based on this research, that the buyout itself can be concluded before the end of 2003.  CART does have enough in the bank to start the 2004 season, but will everyone be willing to sign deals for all of 2004 not knowing for certain if the buyout will be approved by the shareholders so the season can be completed? What CART needs is a healthy bid above market value such that there would be little doubt that the tender offer would get the 90% of the vote needed to expedite things.  Then the buyout would pretty much be a foregone conclusion and everyone could get on with business as usual. But then, what do we know? Mark C.

9/9/03

CART stock watch  In NYSE trading today MPH closed DOWN $0.04 p/shr. or 4.40% to $0.87 p/shr on Volume of 91,800 shares.
Low/High of Session: $0.83/$0.92
NYSE DOWN 79.09 or 0.83% on Volume of 1.67B shares.
NASDAQ DOWN 15.19 or 0.80%
S&P 500 DOWN 8.47 or 0.82%
courtesy of C3I.AndersonGroupe – Chicago
www.andersongroupe.com

9/9/03

CART SPEED TV Ratings go from awful to horrible  The tape-delayed TV rating for CART's Denver race on SPEED Channel came in at 0.17 (97,000 households - USA only), compared to 0.29 (155,000 households) in 2002.  This represents a drop of 41% in one year.  Whose idea was it to tape delay the broadcast and who negotiated the SPEED TV deal in the first place?  While CART holds its own on network TV, ratings on SPEED are a disaster.  The pre-race show got a 0.24 rating, but after 11:00 PM the race's rating went to near zero.  That's because the parade that CART put on in Denver probably put everyone to sleep by then (works better than warm milk). Hopefully in 2004 we will see single-lap qualifying to mix the grid up, and the push-to-pass button implemented.  Together they may be able to bring fans out of the comatose state that CART has managed to get them in with their follow-the-leader, impossible-to-pass, street circuits.  Mark C.

9/9/03

New Michelin tires deemed legal   The FIA has announced that Michelin's new designed tires do conform to the Formula One regulations, and should Michelin's teams use them in this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, motorsport's governing body does not foresee any problems arising. "During a meeting on Monday with representatives of Michelin and the McLaren and Williams Formula One teams, the FIA were shown examples of a new Michelin tire before and after use," an FIA statement said. "The FIA technical department has confirmed that it believes these tires will comply with the Formula One regulations if used in the same way at Monza." Motorsport's governing body also clarified its position on tread width, and its earlier announcement regarding when the width will be measured. While in the past it had been measured prior to a race, as of the Italian Grand Prix it will be measured after the race. "A number of press reports have suggested that the FIA has changed or re-interpreted the tire regulations. This is not correct," the statement continued. "The maximum tread width has been 270mm since 1999. The FIA has never suggested that tread width was unlimited once the tire was in use." It concluded: "However, as far as the FIA technical department is concerned, the matter is now closed and the Championship can continue with all teams on an equal footing."

9/9/03

Banks Ready To Sign SLEC Shares To GPWC   The ongoing negotiations between the F1 manufacturers and the three banks, which control the majority stake of SLEC, could come to an end within the next few weeks. Werner Schmidt Fischer, the outgoing chairman of Bayerische Landesbank, which is one of the banks, has proposed a solution that he is hoping will bring an end to the negotiations. The F1 manufacturers are looking for a way to gain control of the 75 percent stake that the banks have in SLEC, F1's holding company. Should they fail, they may go ahead with their plans to start a rival series, the Grand Prix World Championship, when the current Concorde Agreement expires in 2008. However, Fischer, who will retire on 30 September 2003, has told Reuters that his bank has already prepared a contract and is ready to sign it.  Planet F1

9/9/03

Waltrip speaks out on Wind Tunnel about NASCAR rubbin'   The quotes below were taken from three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip's Sept. 8 appearance on SPEED Channel's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain. Waltrip discussed the recent post-race temper tantrums and the effect they are having on the sport, as well as the difference between "rubbin's racin" and a cheap shot.

DW: "I love rubbin' - rubbin's racin. You drive down under me in the third turn coming to get the checkers and we come out of turn four side-by-side like Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch did and we're racin' for the line, that's a beautiful thing. You run down in the corner behind me and give me a cheap shot and send me up the hill and you go on to win the race, I'm gonna be after you."

DW: "I think it's out of control - I think it's out of hand. I think what happens is we become desensitized to it. I think the fans do - the competitors certainly don't - but we see it week in and week out and we start to expect it. I expected (Johnny) Sauter to bump (Matt) Kenseth out of the way. That's what I expected and that's what the whole joint was waiting for ... I think what NASCAR has to do is to say 'Look, if you wreck a guy or you bump a guy out of the way, you go to the rear of the field. And if it's on the last lap and you wreck the guy, you finish one spot behind wherever he does. They've got to take action and quit penalizing the victim and start looking at the guy that created the havoc in the first place. And I don't care who it is - if you go down into the corner and you root a guy out of the way to win the race, that's not racing. Racing is an art."

DW: "The (bump and run) should not be allowed and you've got to stop it because if you don't it becomes part of every weekend. Every weekend we're going to have fighting in the pits. It starts at the top. NASCAR has to come up with a deal where a driver will not do that. What's probation? I was on probation for 30 years. And these cats make three, four, five million dollars a year, what's $35,000 to them? The most logical thing to do is that if you bump a guy and he spins and hits the fence, you finish behind him. You've got to have some penalty that will get these guys' attention - young and old."

DW: "My excuse book was pretty thick. I could think of a lot of reasons why I did what I had to do or why I didn't win a race - my mirror fell off, my foot was burnin'. There are always excuses for why you do what you do. The bottom line is that if you are guilty week in and week out or guilty occasionally, you've got to pay the price. You just can't let it keep going like it is or it will ruin racing ... Discipline is part of it, and you know me, I'm an emotional guy. I love racing. I'm passionate. I care. But I also don't want to see our sport mistreated. Our sport is being damaged by what is taking place."

Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain is on SPEED Channel Monday through Thursday at 9 p.m. ET. Guests this season have included four-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champ Jeff Gordon, drag racing legend Don "Big Daddy" Garlits, IRL champ Sam Hornish, Supercross champ Ricky Carmichael, CART boss Chris Pook and others. Viewers are invited to submit questions to the program by calling 1-866-W-Tunnel or e-mailing windtunnel@speedtv.com.

Guests scheduled to appear in the Tunnel this week include NHRA Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon (tonight), GM director of racing operations Herb Fishel (Wednesday) and Winston Cup driver Ryan Newman (Thursday).

9/9/03

Updated photos of new Shanghai circuit   These exclusive pictures show that the impressive new Shanghai International Circuit is slowly taking shape ahead of hosting its first F1 race next season.

9/9/03

CART sale close, but roadblocks remain  This Autoweek article talks about the status of the CART buyout and what roadblocks remain.  Though not 100% accurate, it pretty much sums up where things lie.  We should be hearing something about a price agreed to by CART and Open Wheel Racing Series LLC any day now.  Then the shareholder vote clock starts.  Mark C.

9/9/03

Grand-Am to no longer sanction Fran-Am  Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson announced today that Grand American is no longer the sanctioning body of the Fran-Am Sport series. Anyone holding a Grand American membership obtained through Fran-Am will continue to be granted admission to any and all Grand American-sanctioned races for the balance of the 2003 season.

9/9/03

New merchandising license deal for Jordan F1 team   Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG) has concluded a worldwide apparel deal between Direct Sports Leisurewear (DSL) and Jordan Grand Prix.   DSL will assume the role of merchandising master licensee for the Silverstone-based Formula 1 team.   DSL has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal covering product categories such as apparel, luggage, accessories and souvenirs. DSL will also produce a limited edition collection of products for Jordan driver Ralph Firman which will be available through Firman's and Jordan's official websites.

9/9/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

Berger Hangs Up F1 Hat At Autodromo
Jaguar Give Wilson More Time
Sauber Power On With New Ferrari V10
Is Berger Really Done With F1?
Tire Row May Cost Us Title: Secret Meeting
Webber Keen To Get Battle Back On Track
Heidfeld Has Fond Monza Memories
Tributes Flood For Retiring Berger
FIA Denies 'Vendetta' Against F1 Teams
Trulli Plans Monza Surprise
Heat And Rules Slowed Ferrari: Todt
Alonso Scoffs At F1 Tire 'Drama'
Schu Aims To Revive Winning Ferrari Form
More Tributes For Retiring Gerhard
Headaches To Delay Ralf's F1 Return?
Bridgestone Factory On Fire

9/9/03

Good crowd for Chicagoland  2nd UPDATE Another reader chimes in - I disagree with your headline of a "Good Crowd for Chicagoland." It needs to be realized that if the attendance was 40,000 as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, it also means that there were approximately 35,000 paid no-shows (Image above right shows how full seats really were, painting a totally different picture than what was portrayed on TV as a massive crowd by the announcers).  Since the Chicagoland Speedway sells their IRL tickets as a part of a ticket package for their NASCAR race, all 75,000 seats were sold for the IRL event. In my opinion, 35,000 no-shows for the IRL event speaks much louder than the 40,000 that showed up. Mark Graham   Dear AR1,  40,000 on hand is “good” for an IRL race but Chicago Motor Speedway management was crucified in the local press when CART only had 40,000 for the weather plagued (if memory serves me) 2002 Target Grand Prix.  J.N. Anderson Chicago, IL  9/8/03 - Perhaps our estimates were too high.  The Chicago Sun Times estimated attendance at 40,000.  We feel that is a bit low, though the colored seats made it look far more full on TV than it actually was.  Our man on the scene, Rick Schenk said that the crowd was far more sparse in real life than what appeared on TV from the media center.  Still, we maintain it was a healthy crowd.  9/8/03 - The 75,000 seat Chicagoland Speedway was a sellout for Sunday's IRL race because all seats are sold as a package with Winston Cup tickets, which everyone covets.  However, estimates are that 50,000 to 60,000 fans showed up for the race on Sunday, an impressive number, all of whom saw an exciting finish, the type of finishes that will have them coming back for more.  Last year's estimates were 40,000, so 60,000 represents a 50% increase, amazing for one year.  Perhaps last year's close finish had them coming back for more this year.  At this rate, all 75,000 seats will be full for next year's IRL race.

9/8/03

Chicagoland overnight rating  The Indy Racing League event on ABC from Chicagoland Speedway turned in overnights of a 0.8 rating and 2 share, according to Nielsen Media Research as reported in Sports Business Daily. This compares to a final for the same race on ABC last year of 1.1.  A rating drop of 1.1 to 0.8 represents a large plummet of 27% from last year and typically the final rating for IRL races drop from the overnights.  If it drops to 0.7 for example, it will represent a 36% drop from a year ago. Stay tuned for the final rating around Thursday.  It's clear the IRL is losing market share rapidly, and the fans are not buying the artificial closeness that 100% throttle racing fabricates.  The question now remains whether the sponsors and manufacturers are going to force Tony George to merge with CART.  Each day the split goes on the further the fans become disenfranchised with Indy Car racing.

IRL TV Ratings Trend

2002:
Homestead (ABC) 1.5
Phoenix (ABC) 1.2
California (ESPN) 0.5
Nazareth (ABC) 1.3
Indy (ABC) 4.8
Texas (ESPN) 0.6
Pike's Peak (ABC) 1.0
Richmond (ESPN) 0.6
Kansas (ABC) 1.3
Nashville (ESPN2) 0.5
Michigan (ABC) 1.2
Kentucky (ABC) 0.9
Gateway (ESPN) 0.8
Chicagoland (ABC) 1.1
Texas (ABC) 0.9
Gateway (ESPN) 0.75
2003:
Homestead (ABC) 1.8  (Up 20%)
Phoenix (ABC) 0.9  (Down 25%)
Japan (ABC) 0.9 (First Time Event, but down from a 1.0 for CART on ABC in 2001)
Indy (ABC) 4.6  (Down 4.1%)
Texas (ESPN) 0.4 (Down 33%)
Pike's Peak (ABC) 0.7 (Down 30%)

Richmond (ESPN) 0.48 (Down 20%)

Kansas (ABC) 1.2 (Down 7.7%)

Nashville (ESPN2) 0.3 (Down 40%)

Michigan (ABC) 1.0 (Down 16.7%)

Gateway (ABC) 0.70 (Down 6.7%)

Kentucky (ABC) 0.8 (Down 11.1%)

Nazareth (ESPN) 0.7 +/- (Down 46% or more)

Chicagoland (ABC) 0.8* (Down 27%)  *Overnight, final will probably drop further

9/8/03

***READER COMMENT***No Open Wheel Promotion  UPDATE We have had a number of readers respond. Dear AR1, Even the radio spots from the Toyota dealers for four free Saturday tix in exchange for vehicle service work lead in with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Race. The IRL gets second billing. I guess they're just warming up for Toyota's entry into NASCAR. Augie Hermenegildo, Lomita CA   9/8/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, Thought you might be interested to know about the current situation I have seen concerning the promotion here in Southern California for the upcoming races at California Speedway. In the past, short TV spots (during race broadcasts) and newspaper ads would start appearing for the Nov. CART race at California Speedway in mid-August. This year, as of this last weekend, there have been none (not surprising since ISC wants to edge CART out from the Speedway schedule). What is surprising is that as of this past weekend there has been no advertising or promotion of the IRL race that is only 2 weeks away! There were no TV ads during the IRL broadcast yesterday, there have been no ads in the newspaper (at least the LA Times), and no visible promotion (at least outside the dealerships) from any of the Toyota or Honda dealers locally. Quite puzzling. Your thoughts? Mike Weyhrich  Dear Mike, We have no idea why California Speedway would not be promoting the heck out of these races, but one person told us that ISC may have come to the conclusion financially they are ahead by not spending money on open wheel racing promotion in the southern California market because it does not result in enough ticket sales to offset the cost.  We suspect there is a minimal effort underway, but you have not seen it because it's so small.  Mark C.

9/8/03

CART stock watch  Shares of MPH closed down 9% today to 0.91 on a volume of 207,500 shares.  This represents an all-time low for MPH as the company heads down the tubes.  The silence is deafening. If the buyout takes too long, there won't be anything left to buy. Now that it has fallen under $1.00 per share the NYSE can start procedures to delist it from their stock exchange, which would see it drop the the NASDAQ most likely. Mark C.

9/8/03

NASCAR to announce 2004 templates   NASCAR will announce Tuesday its body template guidelines for the 2004 cars. A rear spoiler reduction, as requested by some drivers and teams, will be announced either at that time or shortly thereafter, in plenty of time for teams to begin preparing for next season. There likely will not be templates added to the current 32 or 34 required to police NASCAR's aero-matching policy, which makes the bodies of all four competing makes virtually the same in the air. NASCAR will require tighter tolerances on many of the templates now in use, NASCAR garage chief John Darby said over the weekend at Richmond. The spoiler reduction, from the current 6.25in to 5.5in, will not be accompanied by a mandatory reduction of the front valence, Darby said. That, he believes, will take care of itself as teams work to balance their cars for competition. The changes suggested will apply only at the unrestricted races, 32 of the 36. A different set of regulations will apply to the restricted tracks, Daytona and Talladega. It has been reported, however, that NASCAR will try a slightly taller spoiler and a slightly larger restrictor plate at the Talladega race in three weeks. Exact details were not given. Speed Channel

9/8/03

Jaguar gives Wilson more time   Jaguar have given Britain's Justin Wilson the rest of the season to convince the team he should partner Australian Mark Webber next year. Wilson has three races left, starting with Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, to secure the drive - with further opportunities at the US and Japanese GPs. "Justin is doing a good job for us and we have another three races left with him before we need to make a decision for 2004," said Jaguar's managing director David Pitchforth. "We need to give him a trouble-free race package for a weekend - something we haven't done given his retirements from the German and Hungarian Grand Prix. Only then can Justin demonstrate his true potential.  It is a buyer's market right now and we are under no pressure to announce Mark's team-mate for next season.   Unlike other teams, we changed our driver line-up mid-season and we need to give Justin a fair opportunity to demonstrate himself prior to any decisions being taken.  It is a complex equation that involves looking at experience, the extent to which someone is a team player, adaptability to our growing company and suitability to the challenge that lies ahead of us amongst many other factors," Pitchforth added. "Justin was made aware of this right from day one and both sides are clear and comfortable with the matter," he added. "I am enjoying my time with the team and we are making steps forward," said Wilson. "I know they had a podium here last year but to be honest, if I can finish the race I will be a happy man."

9/8/03

Ticket sales strong for 2004 LVMS race   A high volume of telephone ticket orders and an equally heavy dosage of Internet orders kept Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s ticket office working at a fever pitch Monday as tickets went on sale for next year’s NASCAR Weekend. “This was one of the busiest and most successful first days of ticket sales since the inaugural event,” said Chris Powell, LVMS general manager. “With the increased volume of Internet buyers, it has allowed us to increase our efficiency in filling orders. We’re very pleased with our first-day results.” LVMS has processed a record number of renewals from last year’s event, but the addition of the 22,000-seat Dale Earnhardt Terrace has created more opportunity for first-time ticket buyers to get better seats. “Today’s success in the ticket office is a direct result of the appeal of our facility and our great city,” Powell said. “Combine that with the momentum NASCAR is carrying nationwide and it should come as no surprise that ticket sales are way ahead of any previous pace. We had sold every grandstand seat to this past year’s race a month before the event. That demand has created a greater sense of urgency among race fans to secure their seats early for the 2004 NASCAR Weekend.  Race fans can purchase tickets to the March 7 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 and March 6 Sam’s Town 300 by calling 1-800-644-4444 or by logging on to www.lvms.com. Tickets also are on sale for the Las Vegas 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event on Sept. 27.

9/8/03

Ralf still has headaches   Ralf Schumacher still has headaches from the concussion he suffered in a crash during testing last week and will have another medical before deciding whether to race in the upcoming Italian Grand Prix, his spokesman said Monday. "In principle, he's very well but he still has slight headaches," spokesman Thomas Hofmann said.

9/8/03

Harvick and crewmen penalized  Kevin Harvick was fined $35,000 and put on probation Monday, and two of his crew members were suspended for one race for their roles in the melee after the Richmond race that saw Harvick and a crewman stomping on Rudd's hood.  In all, NASCAR penalized Harvick and five members of his team, along with Pat Tryson, Ricky Rudd's crew chief, for "actions detrimental to stock car racing."  Harvick was placed on probation until Dec. 31, while crew members Mike Scearce and Gene Pasquale were suspended until Sept. 17, meaning they will miss Sunday's race in Loudon, N.H.  Harvick crew members Kirk Almquist and Ken Barber were each fined $2,500 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, and Tryson was fined $5,000 for their parts in the fight Saturday night in Richmond, Va.  With nine laps to go in the Chevrolet 400, Harvick was running second but hit the wall after being nudged from behind by Rudd, who went on to finish third.  Harvick, who lost a possible sixth straight top-five finish, was furious after winding up 16th. He drove his battered car to pit road and banged into the side of Rudd's car.  Several of Harvick's crew members also ran onto pit road and began banging on Rudd's car, mangling the hood. Harvick climbed on the roof of his car and began shouting at Rudd, who remained in his car.  Harvick's team owner, Richard Childress, apologized Monday.  "Emotions can run high and that is part of what fuels a driver's and crew's desire to be the best," he said. "Sometimes, though, in the heat of battle, those emotions can get the best of you and things happen that you regret later."  Childress said he also called Rudd's team, Wood Brothers Ford, to apologize and offer to pay for the damage to its car.  AP

9/8/03

Will Brands Hatch try for approval again?   UPDATE According to reports in the British Press over the weekend, Bernie Ecclestone would welcome a return of Formula One to the Brands Hatch circuit for the annual British GP, instead of the constantly criticized Silverstone track in Northamptonshire. Former F1 driver Sir Stirling Moss has echoed Ecclestone’s thoughts about the move, but only if the infrastructure could cope with the traffic. "If we get the facilities we want, I don't mind where it is," Ecclestone said. The circuit has been faced with many planning hurdles to bring it back up to standard and at the present time faces a rather uncertain future after it became one of three circuits put up for sale by owners at Interpublic. 9/4/03 - This Grandprix.com article says, Plans to redevelop Brands Hatch racing circuit for Formula 1 use were laid down in 2000 but the application for planning permission, agreed by the local Sevenoaks District Council, were then sent to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The Planning Minister Nick Raynsford decided that the best course of action was a public inquiry and this was due to start in January 2001 but the application was withdrawn when it became clear that a deal had been struck between the owners of Brands Hatch and the British Racing Drivers' Club for the race to be held at Silverstone.  (See proposed track changes in diagram to right from AR1 archives.  The pits and garage area would be relocated to the long straight called Pilgrims Drop between Surtees and Hawthorne Bend)

With Brands Hatch now up for sale (and even rumors that it is being acquired by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone), the issue of planning permission may be raised again, particularly in the light of the fact that the Kent County Council has recently come up with a new strategic plan for sport in the county.

"Kent: The Champion County, the strategic framework for sport in Kent 2003 - 2008" is a new report produced by Kent County Council's Sports Development Unit which calls for the county to "regularly accommodate major events of national and international significance" and that the country should make the best use of the existing facilities. The document also argued that Kent "should be allowed the flexibility to determine its needs and have agreements with national or regional funding bodies to ensure that those needs are met" and that although proximity to London means that Kent does not secure major events, "the location could be an advantage if North West Kent secured high quality facilities able to be used for national and international events".

The planning application made in 2000 called for permission to redevelop existing facilities including partial demolition of existing buildings and erection of pit buildings and paddock, media centre and associated helipads and grandstands, alteration to configuration of both the Indy and Grand Prix circuit together with landscaping, highway works and parking. It proposed a new 15,000 seat grandstand and three temporary grandstands capable of accommodating some 26,000 spectators so that Brands Hatch could accommodate 120,000 people on race day. The proposed redevelopment would mean the loss of 14 hectares of woodland, much of it ancient.

9/8/03

Gualter Salles involved in fatal accident   Champ Car driver Gualter Salles, from Brazil, was involved in a fatal accident Sunday, during a Brazilian StockCar V8 race, in the city of Campo Grande.   Salles' Chevrolet Vectra was bumped at the start and skidded across the track. Raphael Lima, a 19-year-old photographer who broke through security and was in a non-allowed area, was hit by Salles' Vectra, which then hit the tire barriers and rolled over twice. Lima was taken to a nearby hospital still alive, but died some 30 minutes after the accident.   The race was red-flagged, and both Salles and his Golden Cross Teammate, André Bragantini, withdrew from the second start. The race's SporTV broadcast interviewed Salles moments later, and the Brazilian was shocked, crying incessantly and unable to speak.  The crash is another incident in Salles tumultuous 2003 Stock Car season, marked by many DNFs and which has recorded a season-best 3rd-place finish in the previous Campo Grande race. Cássio Côrtes

9/8/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

Montoya Aims For Monza Title Lead
Williams Make Progress For Monza
Villeneuve Fond Of Monza's 'Danger'
Bridgestone Unveil New Tires For Monza
F1 News In Brief (1)
Recovering Ralf Vows To Race At Monza
Michelin Say 'No' To More F1 Teams
Berger Backs Ferrari's Tire Gripe
Montoya Not Ready For F1's Biggest Prize
Slip-Ups Will Cost Contenders Title
Toyota Start Work On 2004 F1 Car
Ecclestone Puts Pennies On Kimi
F1 News In Brief (2)
Renault Don't Expect Another Win
Todt: Ferrari Aren't 'Sore Losers'
Canada's Plan To Save Race Up In Smoke
Schu Predicts 'Uncertain' F1 Finale
Wirdheim Holds Out For F1 Debut
No Early Retirement For Schumacher
McRae: I'm Quick Enough For F1
Irvine Gave F1 Pack A 'Bad Name'
Team Orders Won't Spoil Williams Charge

9/8/03

***READER COMMENT***Very suspicious  UPDATE Another reader writes, While searching for the Falcons/Cowboys game, I came upon the final 4 laps of the IRL race. Already knowing what I was going to see (HP Hornish win), I decided to see if anything would change. I was wondering if anyone noticed that for the previous 3 laps before the white flag, Hornish was side-by-side of "whoever," unable to make a move and the positions between the cars didn't change by more than approximately a foot for the entire 3 laps. Yet, right before the start/finish line on the white flag lap, Hornish's car appeared to gain a short 5 second burst of 10-15 mph and conveniently crossed the start/finish line ahead of the leader for the first time!  I was astonished by this mystery burst of speed on the same line and spot he had traveled on for the previous 3 laps. Did anyone else notice this? Thanks. Derek Hughes, Jacksonville, FL.  Dear Derek, It is possible Hornish was saving some for the last lap.  We just can't believe something fishy is going on inside those rev-limiters. Besides it being the biggest scandal of all-time, we would lose complete faith in racing being a sport, but instead just a circus.  Mark C.  9/8/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, Are the IRL cars radio controlled from the control tower such that they are able to get the cars to run together in a pack and side-by-side? Isn't their rev-limiter a sealed unit?  What's going on inside that little baby that we don't know about? It sure seems that way and how come Sam Hornish, the IRL's poster boy, always manages to squeak out the win at the line?  Mordichai Rosen, LA, Calif.  Dear Mordichai, We can't vouch for any conspiracy theories about all the close finishes, but if your conspiracy theory is right, it would be one of the biggest scandals of all time.  Here's what we think is happening.  The IRL is all about 100% throttle racing.  With engine rules so restricted, all the engines are making about the same HP, probably within 5 or 10 HP of each other, therefore, everyone runs about the same speed.  On the high banked tracks the drivers just hold their foot to the floor the entire race, drive in circles and make sure they don't hit anyone, or don't get out of the groove. Not a lot of driving talent required, just bravery and great concentration.  Then it comes down to working the draft, the right gearing and knowing that the guy on the outside wins 99.9% of the time because his car runs freer in the higher groove.  Sam Hornish has figured this out and wins all his side-by-side races on the outside.  The one time he was on the inside he lost.  Mark C.

9/7/03

Conseco to drop IRL sponsorship  This Indy Star article talks about Conseco's pending emergence from bankruptcy and how the company and its debt were restructured.  One interesting note in the article - Motorsports sponsorships such as Conseco's Indy Racing League presence will end this year. The move will save the company $15 million annually.  This will have a major impact on the AJ Foyt team.

9/7/03

***READER COMMENT*** Let CART die!   A reader writes, Dear AR1,  I own a few thousand shares of CART. However, If the VERY, and I mean VERY deep pockets of OWRS steals this series for 75 cents, then I hope there will be a class action suit. I will definitely add my name! CART could be liquidated now for $2.00 a share. CART has a GREAT product. I would bet my last dollar that by 2006 these guys will be getting a great return on their investment! The owners of OWRS will become the Bernie Ecclestone of American road racing!  These guys not only can save CART but treat shareholders fairly. I understand the concept of buy low sell high, and so do they. I believed in Chris Pook, but in the end we got screwed again. Let CART die!  Then NASCAR will kill off the IRL by stopping the, you must buy an IRL ticket to get a Winston cup ticket. Then maybe we can get a Don Panoz type, smart, savvy, wealthy and not greedy to start a new open wheel series and start from scratch. I love CART! When one race is over, I can't wait till the next. But even I have had enough! Kelly O'Connor, Altoona, Iowa. Dear Kelly, Unless we had access to the records for all of CART's assets and liabilities, it's had to say exactly what a fair market price for CART's stock is. Not too long ago we were told it was worth around $2.00 per share, but we don't know all the facts now and we hear the CART Board has negotiated $0.75 per share.  That must be the fair market value because their neck is on the line.  If there is a lawsuit, and a judge finds that costs were booked that were inappropriate, or not booked in the proper year in an effort to show the company is worth less, he or she will throw the book at the offenders in this post-Enron era.  Judges simply don't have any stomach for "Enron Accounting Practices."  Hopefully everything is aboveboard and we can get back to racing.  Mark C.

9/7/03

Brack resting in medical center  Kenny Brack is resting in the medical center at Chicagoland Speedway. He will be kept there until the end of this race. Brack brought out the yellow flag on lap 120 after doing a 180 degree spin to the left between Turns 3 and 4. His car made contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn 4 with the left side of the car. His car came to rest in the grass at entrance to pit lane.  Something broke on the car causing the spin.  Rick Schenk

9/7/03

Todt defends tire protests   Ferrari team principal Jean Todt, insists that his team were not being unsporting when they raised the Michelin tire issue with the FIA.  "What do you think would have happened if the Bridgestone tires on a Ferrari were too wide?" asks Todt in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.  "Do you think they would have kept quiet?," he continues. "They would have crucified us. They would have accused us of cheating. Our opponents would have demanded we be disqualified for all the races it could be proven we had used illegal tires."  Todt insists that the decision to go to the FIA with its evidence was not in retaliation for the Italian team's humiliation at the Hungaroring, and that it was not a matter of Ferrari being bad losers.  "It's our view that such an issue shouldn't be discussed at the race," he said. "We didn't want to harm the sport. "But I'll tell you that was not an easy decision," he continued, "our opponents should explain why they think we're sore losers. We didn't challenge the race results in Hungary even though we could have. There was enough evidence there."

9/7/03

No new teams for Michelin in 2004   Michelin have confirmed that they will not be taking on any new F1 teams in 2004 nor will there be any change with their other current clients. There has been speculation that some Bridgestone shod teams may want to jump ship and start a partnership with Michelin, however that despite the added increase in demand, Pierre Dupasquier has confirmed that they just don’t have the capacity to supply anyone else. "We currently do not have the industrial capacity to do it," he told Autosport. They currently supply 50% of the grid with Williams, McLaren, Renault, Jaguar and Toyota but are legally allowed to supply up to 60%.

9/7/03

A few word with Unser Jr.  We caught up with Al Unser Jr. just before the start of today's race at Chicagoland and got in a few quick questions on the grid.

AR1: 5 second question for you Al. We're back here pretty far in the field.  Will you be able to sit back and relax with all these other cars in front of you? This track can have very fast starts.
Unser Yeah we have to. We have to look up the track and around the curves and not be looking at the cars close to us. You are right, this will be a very fast start.
AR1: We were with you in your rookie run of the Indy 500 along with Michael Andretti. Michael is now retired;.  Is this your last season or will next year be your last season?
Unser  I Don't know yet.
AR1: We hope to see you one more year.
Unser Thanks  Rick Schenk

9/7/03

Formula Renault

Ranger salvages a 10th place  Despite starting from the fifteenth spot on the grid in Round 15 of the Formula Renault UK Championship, Quebec race car driver, and Fran-Am star,  Andrew Ranger finished today’s sixteen lap event at Donington Park, England, tenth out of a field of twenty-eight drivers. The 16 year-old racer who was invited to join Manor Motorsport for the event, managed to climb his way up several positions in the second of two races held this weekend, despite dealing with a car that was more or less competitive.

“When you start so far back you have to consider that there are two groups on the track; the fastest group and the main pack who inevitably fall back from the quickest. I was able to move up several positions and then I tried to catch up with the leaders, who had already opened up quite a gap. In North America we generally have much longer races and that gives us more time to catch the leaders. A sixteen lap race isn’t really long enough, especially if you’re at a disadvantage at the start,” said Ranger.

“In a high quality series it’s essential to have a good starting position because all the drivers work to protect their position which makes passing difficult and almost any attempt must be made from the outside. But we’ve produced a top-ten finish and under the circumstances, I consider that pretty good,” said the Roxton Pond, Quebec native.

As in the first race of the weekend, the event was won by Ranger’s teammate, Britain’s Lewis Hamilton who was followed by Swedes Alex Storckenfeldt and Stefan Soderberg.

9/7/03

Seen in Chicagoland - II  The IRL race at Chicagoland today is getting plenty of media coverage with the media center standing room only.  The IRL is doing a decent job on getting grassroots coverage.  Rick Schenk

9/7/03

Seen in Chicagoland  UPDATE Stefan Johansson represents IRL driver Scott Dixon, who is hoping to move up to F1, and Johansson was there to talk to Dixon about his future we are told.  9/6/03 - CART team owner Stefan Johansson was seen in Chicagoland today checking out the action.  With time running out for CART to be saved for the 2004 season, CART team owners are going to have to start making alternate plans for where they will race in 2004.

9/7/03

Giaffone in pain  After this morning's IRL warm-up session at Chicagoland, 3rd fastest man, Felipe Giaffone, just back from serious injuries, was taken to the infield care center in severe pain.  Precautionary X-Rays were taken on his multitude of broken bones but nothing was found and it was determined it must be muscle pain.  He is walking around the paddock with one crutch, but is cleared to race today.  His fast lap was 223.519 MPH.  Fastest was Scott Dixon at 223.666 MPH and slowest was a soon to be retiring Gil de Ferran.  Rick Schenk

9/7/03

Nemechek confident of landing a Cup ride  This Indy Star article says, Veteran Joe Nemechek is losing his No. 25 Chevrolet to 19-year-old Brian Vickers next season, but on Friday at Richmond he was wearing a big smile and didn't seem at all concerned about finding future employment in Winston Cup. "I'm not worried," Nemechek said. "I can get the job done, and I will get the job done. I'm a Winston Cup racer, and I've won three races and I've got some good years left." Nemechek, who turns 40 on Sept. 26, said his car owner, Rick Hendrick, has pledged to help him find a new team.

9/7/03

Sponsor troubles may deprive Unser of farewell tour  This Indy Star article talks about Al Unser Jr.'s desire to drive one more season so he can do a proper farewell tour.  However, the team doesn't have any sponsorship lined up for next year, and one year deals are sometimes hard to find.  We predict now that the IRL will find Unser a sponsor or Tony George will fund his last year.  Although not as competitive as he once was, Unser is still one of the biggest names in the IRL.

9/7/03

Bridgestone goes all-out to win title   Bridgestone, poised to lose the world championship to rivals Michelin, unveiled a 'future construction concept' at the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza last week during testing.  Hirohide Hamashima, the marque's Head of Tire Development, said Ferrari runners including Michael Schumacher tried the all-new design.  'It won't appear this season but we hope to introduce it next year,' he said. 'We also tried about 10 new specifications.'  With only three races left to go and a margin of just one point in the drivers' chase, Hamashima said there was 'only one way' Bridgestone can fight back.  He smiled: 'We have to make the best tires we can!  We've been working hard and came here for a big testing effort we hope will benefit all our teams.'  Schumacher's Ferrari was fastest on the final two days of the Monza test equipped with four black Bridgestones.  We suspect next year's tires will be raced this year if they are ready.

9/7/03

***READER QUESTION*** Is RuSPORT really moving up?   A reader writes, Dear AR1, I keep hearing that the RuSPORT Toyota Atlantic championship winning team is moving up to Champ Cars next year.  Is that true and who will be the drivers?  Danny Yokolavitich, Frenchtown, NJ  Dear Danny, If CART is still in business next year they will indeed be moving up to Champ Cars in 2004.  If CART folds then, and only then, will they race in the IRL, in our opinion and from what we hear.  We are pretty sure AJ Allmendinger will be their driver.  Whether they run two cars has yet to be determined (though we think they will), as has who would drive the 2nd car.  Since they would be rookies in the Champ Car series, we have to believe they will choose a driver with a bit of Champ Car experience for the 2nd car.  While they can choose to go with another rookie in the 2nd car, we have to believe they recognize the need for at least one experienced Champ Car driver alongside AJ because the competition in the Champ Car series is definitely tougher.  Mark C.

9/7/03

Like we said, Turbos are becoming more common on passenger cars   This NY Times article (requires free registration to read) talks about turbochargers and why today they are far more accepted and gaining in popularity both in the USA and abroad.  If CART stays with the turbo engine, it certainly keeps it in tune with the passenger car market far more than a N/A V-10 will.

9/7/03

Bernie picks Kimi to win title   Bucking the trend, Bernie Ecclestone has put Raikkonen down as his favorite to win this season's F1 title. The McLaren driver may be third in the Drivers' standings but he's only two points behind Schumacher. "I'm one of Montoya's biggest supporters and we all know about Michael," he said. "Montoya can be either fantastic or not. Räikkönen is more consistent so you would probably have to put your money on him."

9/6/03

Escape Hatch test  NASCAR expects to conduct a final test this week in preparation for allowing teams the option of installing a roof exit in cars. Winston Cup driver Michael Waltrip will participate in a test at Daytona International Speedway with the roof exit installed to determine if any aerodynamic issues exist with the new hatch, said Gary Nelson, director of NASCAR's research and development center in Concord, NC. When the roof exit is finalized, teams will be allowed the option of installing it, but it will not be required, Nelson said. "If that test goes well, I already have the (technical) bulletin so the guys can use it," Nelson said. ThatsRacin.com

9/6/03

Miami race getting a lot of good press  This year's CART race in Miami is getting a LOT of publicity this year in Miami...it's everywhere.  Just saw 14 pages (CART only) in the very classy LOFT magazine.

9/6/03
ARCA

ARCA news from Chicagoland  UPDATE Shelby Howard  nearly ran a few people down during the ARCA race. His brakes seemed to fail on track, and he came barreling though the paddock, people jumping out of his way. His crew had to sprint to stop his car. The guy even kept his motor running!  He needs more coaching because he easily could have killed someone today.  9/6/03 - 18 year old driver Shelby Howard is being coached by NASCAR driver Derrick Cope.  He may drive a couple of Busch races yet this year. Friday, he and  veteran ARCA driver Frank Kimmel traded fastest laps during practice sessions for the ARCA ReadyHosting.com 200 Chicagoland to be run Saturday, Sept. 6. The ARCA  RE/MAX Series consists of Ford Taurus, Chevy Monte Carlo, Pontiac Grand Prix, Dodge Intrepid cars, ranging in years from 1999 through 2003. Some of the teams haul their race cars in racing haulers, some come to the track hauling their race car on open trailers behind vintage motor homes. Rick Schenk

9/6/03

Mark Taylor wins closest IPS race ever  Mark Taylor, driver of the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, won the Chicagoland 100 by 0.0170 of a second over #14 Carpenter. #20 Simmons was third, 0.0522 of a second behind #4 Taylor. Cars came across the line three-wide. Medical update from Dr. Henry Bock, director of medical services for the Indy Racing League: Marco Cioci has been checked and released from the infield medical center. He is cleared to drive.  Results Saturday of the Chicagoland 100 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series event at Chicagoland Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (2) Mark Taylor, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
2. (1) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
3. (13) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
4. (4) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 67
5. (3) Aaron Fike, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
6. (7) Cory Witherill, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
7. (5) G.J. Mennen, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
8. (8) Gary Peterson, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
9. (6) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
10. (11) Marty Roth, Dallara-Infiniti, 66
11. (12) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 61
12. (10) Marco Cioci, Dallara-Infiniti, 55, accident
13. (14) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, 16, accident
14. (9) Taylor Fletcher, Dallara-Infiniti, 7, gearbox
Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 132.826 mph.
Time of race: 00:46:00.1733.
Margin of victory: .0170
Cautions: 3 for 16 laps.
Lead changes: 17 among 2.
Lap leaders: Carpenter 1-10, Taylor 11-12, Carpenter 13-26, Taylor 27-28, Carpenter 29, Taylor 30, Carpenter 31-32, Taylor 33, Carpenter 34, Taylor 35, Carpenter 36, Taylor 37, Carpenter 38-40, Taylor 41, Carpenter 42, Taylor 43, Carpenter 44-66, Taylor 6

9/6/03

Formula Renault

Difficult day for Ranger  Canadian race car driver and Fran-Am star Andrew Ranger finished 14th in today’s Round 14 of the Formula Renault UK Championship at Donington Park in England. Ranger, who started the race from the 15th spot had moved up several places but fell back after spinning while battling for track position. The 16 year-old driver who was invited to join Manor Motorsport, says he saw it all in this first of two races being held this weekend. “I was much quicker today than I was in qualifying yesterday because the team finally agreed to make the changes I wanted to the car,” explained the Roxton Pond, Quebec native. “Yesterday I was given a setup that was very similar to my teammate Lewis Hamilton, a setup that really doesn’t complement my driving style. Even though my car was among the fastest today, it’s extremely difficult to pass here. There are a few good passing zones like on the long straight, but the whole group is always right there and they stay so tight together that the move is practically impossible.  I was able to move up to ninth and I think that by staying very patient, I would have been able to finish eighth, but two cars ahead of me were battling it out and when they braked, I touched the back of one of them. The rear of my car stepped out and I spun. I ended up fourteenth.  It was a wild race. There was an accident in the group behind me at the start of the race. One of the cars involved was practically cut in half. The competition is also very intense. I’ll be ready to get out there tomorrow, but once again I’m starting back in fifteenth and getting through the field is not going to be easy. Even if the cars ahead of me are slower, all the drivers work to protect their position. The key really is to start the race in the first few rows. But, if the car is as quick as it was today, I may be able to move up a few spots,” he concluded. Ranger’s teammate this weekend, Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, won the12-lap race and was followed by fellow countryman James Rossiter. Ranger will be back on track tomorrow to contest Round 15 of the Formula Renault UK Championship at 1: 40 p.m. (GMT), 8:40 a.m. - Eastern Time.

9/6/03

Menards to sponsor 12-race 2004 IPS  Menard Inc., a Midwest chain of home-improvement stores, has become the co-title sponsor of the IRL Infiniti Pro Series, the official development series of the IRL, league officials announced Sept. 6. The new series name is the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series. “The Indy Racing League finds itself with an exciting opportunity as we partner together with two great companies in the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series,” said Roger Bailey, executive director of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. “The combination of Menards, Infiniti and the IRL brings together companies with unique strengths that offer an opportunity to build an exciting business and marketing platform together.”   The 2004 Menards Infiniti Pro Series schedule will consist of 12 races at some of the nation’s finest oval venues, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy Racing League officials announced Sept. 6.  The 100-mile Infiniti Pro Series “sprints” will take place in conjunction with   IRL IndyCar Series events, with six of the 12 races scheduled for the same day as the IndyCar Series races.   “As we look toward our second full season, I’m delighted that our drivers will be gaining valuable experience on an a variety of tracks, ranging from 1-mile ovals to the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Roger Bailey, executive director of the Infiniti Pro Series. “As a training series, we are exactly where we need to be.  The fact that a full 50 percent of Menards Infiniti Pro Series events will be run on the same day as IndyCar Series races is an added bonus for everyone involved.”   The Menards Infiniti Pro Series serves as an essential stepping-stone for drivers striving to reach the pinnacle of open-wheel, oval-track racing in America, the IRL IndyCar Series.  Infiniti Q45 engines power Dallara Automobili chassis built for the series, with Firestone Firehawk tires used exclusively on all cars. The V8 engines produce approximately 450 horsepower for the single-seat winged chassis, providing an ideal training ground for the 650-horsepower, single-seat winged cars of the IndyCar Series. 
All Menards Infiniti Pro Series events are televised on ESPN2 and distributed worldwide through ESPN International.
2004 MENARDS INFINITI PRO SERIES SCHEDULE
Sunday, Feb. 29 Homestead-Miami Speedway
Saturday, March 20 Phoenix International Raceway
Sunday, May 22 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Sunday, July 4 Kansas Speedway
Saturday, July 17 Nashville Superspeedway
Sunday, July 25 The Milwaukee Mile
Sunday, Aug. 1 Michigan International Speedway
Saturday, Aug. 14 Kentucky Speedway
Sunday, Aug. 22 Pikes Peak International Raceway
Saturday, Sept. 11 Chicagoland Speedway
Saturday, Oct. 2 California Speedway
Saturday, Oct. 16 Texas Motor Speedway

9/6/03

Hollywood cutting Giaffone's money 50%  According to this Indy Star article, Felipe Giaffone recently learned that Hollywood, a Brazilian cigarette company, will cut its sponsorship next year by at least 50 percent, putting his program with Morris Nunn's team in jeopardy. Hollywood isn't getting the television exposure it needs in Brazil because IRL races are shown on cable, not network television like Formula One and CART. "I hope it allows me to stay with Morris because I think we have a good thing going," Giaffone said. "If it weren't for some bad luck this year, I think we'd be right there for the championship. But we'll have to see."

9/6/03
ARCA

Kimmel wins ARCA race  Frank Kimmel has just won the ReadyHosting.com 200. This is the seventh win this year for the driver of the No. 46 Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford.  Rick Schenk

9/6/03

**READER OPINION**Eventually Tony will have to sit down with CART  UPDATE Another reader responds - Dear AR1, Can someone, anyone, please explain to me WHY “the sponsors” are STILL so hung up on the Indy 500? The fans get it. The teams get it. Why don’t the sponsors? They lust for the 500 as if it were the first gorgeous stripper to blow them a kiss back in their youth when today it’s Grandma circling the pole in her walker, pasties drooping way down!  Speaking of “way” and “down” the TV audience for the 500 is way down as are ticket sales. All because the 500 is dependent upon the IRL for its show and the IRL is a concept that produces TOTALLY lame racing THAT NO ONE WILL PAY TO SEE TONY,  how much longer can “the sponsors” tolerate the results they’re getting for their huge investments in Tony’s “vision”? 

If we could separate the management of the Indy 500 from that of the IRL, Sister and Brother let’s say, it’s clear Sis needs to throw the IRL out on its ass and immediately ante up the sanctioning fee for a CART event over the Memorial Day weekend. Let the IRL run as a support race for the Brickyard 400 since they’re so fond of forcing their tickets on NASCAR fans helpless to prevent it.  Don’t “the sponsors” understand the difference between “motorsports fans” (us) and “Indianapolis 500 fans” (them, the ones that head back home to their Lazy-Boys immediately after the checkers fall, little green oxygen tanks squeaking in tow behind them, having seen their one and only “car race” for the year) and get the fact they are TOTALLY different!  Don’t the laptop lugging MBAs running the marketing departments of “the sponsors” understand who buys their product?  “But they do it for the media exposure too.” True. But look at the quality of the media exposure in major ADI markets since the split. A lot of “press kit journalism.”

Media outlets are not dedicating the resources they once did. There is other stuff their readers want covered that’s much more important to them. Let’s call it like it is. Tony shot the Golden Goose in the head. All that remains to be seen is how much more of this nonsense Sis will take before she reasserts herself, pulls the plug, and stops the lunacy that has driven the once great race right straight into the ground, taking North American open wheel racing right along with it like a wing man in the Iraqi air force!   It’s time for corporate motorsports sponsors to give up their misplaced infatuation with the old dancer (the race, not Sis) in her walker. Move on guys and gals! Get over it! Motorsports fans sure have. The Indianapolis 500 is just another lame under-attended and under-viewed IRL race propped-up by three weeks of expensive pre-race nonsense (that you sponsors ultimately pay for) designed to fluff up the importance of a mediocre “car race”, depleted of all significance and dismissed by the fans for its total lack of relevance in today’s “sports entertainment marketplace.” 

The 500 won’t again be worthy of affectionate sponsors tucking $100 bills in her G-String until Grandma gets off the stage and puts her hot, sexy, turbocharged granddaughter up there in her place.  With a Bump and a Grind, J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois Dear JN, What you fail to address is the fact that CART isn't in much better shape.  The split, and the person who created it must ultimately be held responsible for the downfall of open wheel racing in the USA. The fans have already spoken, but Mr. George still sees no sense in a merger, thinking that CART's death will help the IRL to thrive.  That misconception is as far from the truth as the misconception that all the big driver names, manufacturers and sponsors moving from CART to the IRL would help it grow.  It's had exactly the opposite effect.  Mark C. 

9/5/03
- A reader writes, Dear AR1, It is clear to me that once Open Wheel Racing Series LLC takes over Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc; more serious talks with Tony George will take place. The aim will be to get the Indianapolis 500 back to CART's schedule. Since the inaugural race (in January 1996) to date; the IRL has failed to be what it was meant to.  Not only is it not an All American series any more (manufacturers and drivers from different nationalities are dominating), the attendance to their races (including its crown jewel the Indy 500) have been falling year after year and, as if it wasn't enough, its TV audience is minimal. They were predicting sold out events, grids of 30+ cars along with CART's death.  Not only they did not have 30+ cars, IRL's car count is now the same as CART's, crashes and injuries have plagued it, their events are embarrassingly sparsely attended (while CART's are usually sold out or close to it) and CART is still alive. Sponsors, teams and manufacturers must not be happy with all this. One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that the IRL is in trouble and that today its future is more uncertain than CART's.

On the other hand, CART has a strong product backed by solid venues, successful races, a very competitive, affordable and reliable engine/chassis formula and a fast growing worldwide fan base. Today CART is a more appealing product than the IRL. So, the question is: being CART is a US based series, will they be able to survive and thrive without the Indy500?  A die-hard CART fan would answer with a conclusive yes. However, as any motor racing series, CART's blood is made out of sponsors' money and the Indianapolis 500 is (and will be for the years to come) US's top open wheel racing event by far. In other words, CART is a much more attractive product to the sponsor's eyes if the Indy 500 is part of its schedule. OWRS will go for it.

Tony George knows all this; he knows all he has is the Indy500; he'll have no option but to eventually sit down with OWRS and negotiate. His sponsors, teams and manufacturers will demand that from him. Regards, Roberto Reyes

9/6/03

Back to the big tracks  Sunday's Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway will mark the return of the IRL Indy Car Series to superspeedway competition.  The final three races of the IRL schedule will be contested on tracks that reward horsepower.  Chicagoland Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway (site of the season-ending Chevy 500 on Oct. 12) are 1.5 mile ovals; California Speedway, which hosts an IRL event on Sept. 21, is a 2-mile track.  "With the final three events of the IRL season on big ovals, the spotlight will be on engine performance," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL program manager.  "Based on the new Chevy Indy V8's [nee Ford Cosworth] results in superspeedway races at Kentucky and MIS, with a victory and a runner-up finish, we expect that the new Chevrolet engine will be a strong contender.  Up to this point, our primary focus has been on converting and supplying Chevrolet teams with new Gen IV Chevy Indy V8 engines," Negri noted.  "While we are still working hard to fill the pipeline, we are now turning our focus to development projects.  Engine reliability has been outstanding, which has allowed us to begin work on performance improvements."

9/6/03

Darlington #1 sports show  The Mountain Dew Southern 500, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race held last Sunday at Darlington Raceway and televised by NBC, was the most-watched sporting event of Labor Day weekend, with an average of 7,965,000 viewers. The race’s household viewership of 5,241,000 easily outdistanced the weekend’s second most-watched sporting event – college football on ABC on Saturday night – by 40%.

9/6/03
Industry News

Chicagoland announces 2004 schedule  Matthew Alexander, VP/GM of Chicagoland Speedway, announced the 2004 racing schedule will initially include five races over two event weekends.   The 2004 season will open with the Tropicana Twister 300 (NASCAR Busch Series) on Saturday, July 10 and the Tropicana 400 (NASCAR Nextel Cup Series) on Sunday, July 11. The season will conclude with the Chicagoland 100 (IRL Infiniti Pro Series) and the ReadyHosting.com 200 (ARCA RE/MAX Series) on Saturday, September 11, as well as the Delphi Indy 300 (IRL IndyCar Series) on Sunday, September 12.

"We are excited to once again welcome back NASCAR, IRL, and ARCA to Chicagoland Speedway," Alexander said. "It is always our goal to give our Track Pack holders (PS: The only way you can buy tickets is the Track Pack which is a ticket for every race held at this facility) the most valuable motorsports and entertainment ticket in town and we will continue to look at ways to maximize our guests' experience. We will keep working with sanctioning bodies and leagues to explore adding more events to the current schedule."

Alexander urges race fans to act now so they don't miss the 2004 racing action. "The world-class racing we have brought to the Chicago market has created a tremendous amount of excitement and an ever expanding fan base. Chicagoland Speedway and our Track Pack has quickly become one of the hottest tickets in the third largest market in the country. Because of the outstanding racing, our beautiful facility and the entertainment value we offer in our Track Pack, we have sold out our grandstands earlier each year since our 2001 inaugural season. I urge fans new to the sport and fans that have followed the sport for many years to purchase quickly so they are not caught looking for tickets that are not available next summer."
2004 CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY SEASON SCHEDULE*
JULY 10-11 NASCAR WEEKEND:
July 10, 2004: Tropicana Twister 300
(NASCAR Busch Series)
July 11, 2004: Tropicana 400
(NASCAR Nextel Cup Series)
SEPTEMBER 11-12 ARCA/IRL WEEKEND:
September 11, 2004: ReadyHosting.com 2000
(ARCA RE/MAX Series)
September 11, 2004: Chicagoland 100
(IRL Infiniti Pro Series)
September 12, 2004: Delphi Indy 300
(IRL IndyCar Series)
*Schedule subject to change.

9/6/03

Ed Carpenter wins IPS pole  Qualifying Friday for the Chicagoland 100 IRL Infiniti Pro Series event on the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway, with starting position, car number in parenthesis, driver and chassis-engine:
1. (14) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Infiniti, 189.057
2. (4) Mark Taylor, Dallara-Infiniti, 188.597
3. (91) Aaron Fike, Dallara-Infiniti, 188.251
4. (5) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 187.366
5. (25) G.J. Mennen, Dallara-Infiniti, 186.691
6. (36) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 186.607
7. (92) Cory Witherill, Dallara-Infiniti, 186.594
8. (27) Gary Peterson, Dallara-Infiniti, 186.305
9. (9) Taylor Fletcher, Dallara-Infiniti, 185.517
10. (99) Marco Cioci, Dallara-Infiniti, 184.876
11. (3) Marty Roth, Dallara-Infiniti, 184.149
12. (24) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 183.436
13. (20) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Infiniti, 179.443
14. (33) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, no time

9/6/03


Rocket Man Ticket package for Miami  MotoRock LLC has partnered with the Trans-Am Road Racing Series to bring the MotoRock Miami 100 – Battle by the Beach, and Rock N Roll legend Elton John in concert in conjunction with the Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com. The concert will take place at the American Airlines Arena on Saturday September 27th at 8:00 PM. “We are thrilled to have MotoRock presenting such a great act as part of the Grand Prix Americas,” said Martinez. “This is another example as to how the Grand Prix Americas is working to enhance the experience of our fans, by creating an exciting atmosphere with concerts, festivals and events.” "We are proud to announce that on September 27, 2003 MotoRock will be presenting Elton John in concert at the American Airlines Arena in Miami,” stated Jamie Rose, Chairman and CEO of MotoRock. “It will be the first time in history that Elton has performed at this arena, and we’re thrilled to have him as the cornerstone of the first MotoRock event,” concluded Rose. Buy Your Elton John/Grand Prix Americas package online! Includes admission to the Elton John Concert on Saturday night (9/27/03), General Admission to the race (3-day ticket), a Grand Prix Americas Hat, and a MotoRock T-Shirt. (Note: If you have already purchased tickets or would like to add the concert to another ticket, call the ticket office at (305) 373-3333). The package will be $89 and will be available starting Saturday on www.miamirace.com

9/6/03

Mexico City ticket sales update  With 36-days remaining, Mexico City organizers have sold over 60% of the reserved 3-day tickets for CART's upcoming Mexico City Race.  To date, 58,790 have been sold in just 36 days.  Race organizers are expecting a 3-day crowd of over 300,000 people.  They have set General Admissions prices much lower this year so more Mexicans can afford to attend the race, which drew over 150,000 on race day last year.

9/6/03

Biela sets fast test time at Mazda Raceway  Seeking his third consecutive American Le Mans Series win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Frank Biela started the quest on a positive note Friday by setting the fast time of the day in an unofficial test session for Sunday's Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships event.  Biela, driving the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 that he will share with Marco Werner, turned a lap of 1:16.593 on the 2.238-mile circuit. The lap was the fastest overall among the 35 cars that recorded times in the session as well as the leading time in the LMP 900 class.  More....

9/5/03

Scheckter ends day fastest, Ray out for weekend  Target Chip Ganassi driver Tomas Scheckter turned the fastest lap in Friday practice for the IRL IndyCar TM Series Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Veteran Richie Hearn, returning to the cockpit for the first time since the Indianapolis 500 on May 25, was second on the speed chart.  Scheckter, 22, turned a fast lap of 24.4493 seconds, 223.810 mph in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Hearn’s fastest lap was 24.4820, 223.511 in the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.  Kenny Brack was third at 24.5524, 222.870 in the No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Bryan Herta followed at 24.5596, 222.805 in the No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, while Scott Dixon rounded out the top five at 24.5796, 222.624 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Panoz G/Toyota/Firestone.   The only accident of the day came in the first practice session when Greg Ray made contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn 4.   He was uninjured. Team officials said the car was irreparable. Ray will not compete in Sunday’s race.  More..... IRL

9/5/03

Scheckter fast, Ray crashes  Tomas Scheckter led the first Delphi Indy 300 practice session at Chicagoland Speedway with a lap of 24.5551 seconds, 222.755 mph in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Richie Hearn, driver of the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, was second fastest at 24.5884, 222.544. During the practice session, Greg Ray, driver of the No. 13 TrimSpa Special Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone, made contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn 4. Ray was uninjured.   IRL

9/5/03

CART stock watch  In NYSE trading today MPH closed UNCHANGED at $1.00 p/shr on Volume of 110,500 shares.
Low/High of Session: $1.00/$1.05
NYSE DOWN 84.56 or 0.88% on Volume of 1.83B shares.
NASDAQ DOWN 10.85 or 0.58%
S&P 500 DOWN 6.60 or 0.64%
courtesy of C3I.AndersonGroupe – Chicago
www.andersongroupe.com

9/5/03

Busch drops complaint against Spencer  Kurt Busch dropped his assault complaint against rival #7-Jimmy Spencer, who punched him in the face after a race last month at Michigan International Speedway..

9/5/03
Industry News

ISC reports 2nd Quarter earnings drop  Daytona Beach-based International Speedway Corp. (NYSE: ISCA) reported decreased earnings for the second quarter. The company blamed the weather for the lowered earnings. Also lowered were third quarter and annual expectations, primarily because of lower revenue at the Pepsi 400 in July in Daytona and the lack of a sponsor for an August race in Michigan. International Speedway reported earnings of $12.5 million, or 24 cents a share, compared to $14.4 million, or 27 cents a share, for the prior year.

9/5/03

Lawsuit could cost NASCAR $1 billion  According to this Dallas Morning News article, Some of the most prominent attorneys and most prestigious law firms in the country are involved in the Ferko vs. NASCAR antitrust lawsuit. The TMS side includes Johnnie Cochran, who became famous as the attorney for O.J. Simpson. He has estimated financial damages at upwards of $1 billion, although other attorneys involved say $200 million is more realistic.

9/5/03

Bridgestone Motorsports boss Q&A   The FIA letter sent by Charlie Whiting a few days ago to the 10 teams and the two tire manufacturers is still making waves. Hirohide Hamashima gives us the Bridgestone's position:  More....

9/5/03

Elliott to decide on future soon  Bill Elliott says he will decide by the end of the month whether he'll retire at the end of the current Winston Cup season or return for one more year. But the choice isn't as simple as it seems. He's struggling to make a decision that is in the best interest of a host of parties, including his car owner Ray Evernham, his crew, NASCAR and his legions of fans. He's in the last year of his contract with car owner Ray Evernham, but Evernham has said the No. 9 Dodge is Elliott's for as long as he wants to drive it. Elliott, who is still fully capable of winning, says he won't leave Evernham unless a top-notch replacement is standing by to take over his car. Complicating matters is the fact that Elliott's teammate Jeremy Mayfield is struggling, which could mean he might be forced out of the #19 Dodge. If Elliott retired at the end of this year, that could leave Evernham in the difficult position of having a multi-car race team with no drivers in place for the upcoming season. Then there are the top NASCAR officials who are urging Elliott to continue for at least one more season, so his contributions to the sport can be properly recognized. But Elliott, who shuns the spotlight whenever possible, said he wants no part of the type of retirement tour that Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip took in the final season of their careers. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

9/5/03

Drive the Surfers course online  The CART Lexmark Surfers race folks have added a brand new feature to the http://www.qantm.com.au/ site. It's called Indy Racer! And it's your chance to race the Indy track online in full 3D. What's better is that the game is free.  All you need is your computer and internet access. Even better still is that you can win great prizes for having the best lap time each fortnight! In addition you can win a framed poster signed by the 2002 Champ Car Series Drivers! The best lap times of the week will appear on the Leader Board. You can also set up your own private Leader Board to challenge your friends! To play, click on the link below, or copy and paste the link into your internet browser.  http://svc105.bne146v.server-web.com/indy

9/5/03

Newman says no IRL  UPDATE A reader writes, You have to have a lot of respect for Paul.  He means what he says.  I was a little worried when I started hearing stories about a Newman/Haas IRL entry at the Indy 500.  He said a while ago that he has washed his hands of the 500 and isn't looking back and I always respected what he said. As I said a while ago I wish people could get over the Indy 500.  It's not a race worth destroying a whole racing series over.  Not even close!   I would take Long Beach and Vancouver over the Indy 500 even in the old days! Doug Ferguson, West Palm Beach, FL  9/4/03 - Paul Newman flew to Denver last Sunday (where his team finished 1-2) to spend one day with the Newman/Haas team and to assure them that he has no interest in a switch to the IRL. "I am here specifically to scotch the rumors about us moving to the IRL," Newman told AUTOSPORT. "I wanted to make it clear to the guys on the team exactly where I stand. As I've said before, I'm totally committed to CART and I have no interest at all in the IRL." Most of the Newman/Haas crew shares Newman's attitude toward the IRL, but engineering director Peter Gibbons is a close friend of Michael Andretti, who drove for the team from 1989-92 and 1995-2000. Andretti has been applying pressure on Gibbons to try to get him to convince Haas to mount an IRL effort. Should Gibbons be successful in his quest for a full-time IRL program, it is likely that Newman would withdraw his support and the team would be known as Haas Racing. Paul Newman said some time ago he would never again set foot on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

9/5/03

Button cheers up girlfriend   In other quick F1 news, Jenson Button's girlfriend got the perfect 'cheer-up' consolation prize for being booted of BBC talent show Fame Academy.   Her BAR-driving boyfriend, 23, bought Louise Griffiths a brand-new Mercedes road car and roared off to celebrate in it near London's trendy nightspots last week.

9/5/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

Radical Bridgestone Hits Monza Track
Schu Takes Lead As Monza Winds-Up
New Michelin Tires Even Faster Than Old
Quick Schu's Monza Hopes Swell
Bahraini Bikers Head To Monza
Ferrari To Protest Previous F1 Results?
Sauber Won't Race 'Old' Car In 2004
F1 Eyes Return To UK's Brands Hatch
Bridgestone: Only Doing What's Right
Michelin Threatens To Sue Ferrari's Brawn
Quebec Moves To Save Formula One Race
Firman Denies He'll Miss Monza Race
Ferrari's Brawn Slams One-Lap Qualifying
Ralf On Monza Crash: 'Ow, That Hurt!'
Schu Plays Down F1 Tire Controversy
Berger Says JPM Can Lift World Title
Jordan Slams 'Irresponsible' Toyota Chief
F3000 Champion Endures Trying F1 Debut
Michelin 'Never' Supplied Illegal Tires

9/5/03

San Jose plays host to ALMS cars  The normally serene and tranquil area of San Jose’s Cesar Chavez Park will come alive with the sights and sounds of professional auto racing with the Mini Le Mans event on Wednesday, September 3.

Several of the exotic race cars that will be competing in this weekend’s Fry’s Electronics Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., will be on display and will then fire up and make some laps of the park on San Jose’s West Market Street and other adjoining city streets.

The display will include cars from the American Le Mans Series, several of which having competed in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans event in France, as well as cars from some of the other racing series that will be competing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend.

Cars will be on display beginning at 11 a.m. (PDT) and will start up and make laps at noon and then again at 12:20 p.m. One of the cars will stage a pit stop demonstration between the runs. Race fans in the area will be able to see the cars and get autographs from the drivers in a special autograph session beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Among the American Le Mans Series cars expected to participate in the San Jose event are a Panoz LMP01 Prototype from JML Team Panoz, a Ferrari 550 Maranello from Prodrive, the White Lightning/Petersen Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RS and the Team Bucknum Racing/Dark Dog Pilbeam MP91 Prototype. The Fry’s Electronics Sports Car Championships event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca culminates with a two-hour, 45-minute timed event for the American Le Mans Series on Sunday, Sept. 7, at 12 noon. Practice and qualifying, as well as races for support series, will be held on Friday and Saturday.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is located on Highway 68 between Salinas and Monterey. Event ticket information is available online at www.laguna-seca.com or by calling 1-800-327-7322.

Photos

1) Fans take a close look at the #80 Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello and the #31 White Lightning-Petersen Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RS before they took some laps around San Jose's Cesar Chavez Park on Wednesday. The cars will compete in Sunday's American Le Mans Series event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

2) Market Street in Downtown San Jose became a temporary racing circuit Wednesday as cars from the American Le Mans Series took some demonstration laps around Cesar Chavez Park. The cars will race in Sunday's event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. The #80 Ferrari, driven by Jan Magnussen, leads the #31 Porsche driven by Johnny Mowlem.

3) American Le Mans Series drivers (l-r) Craig Stanton, Johnny Mowlem and Jan Magnussen sign autographs for fans in San Jose's Cesar Chavez Park Wednesday afternoon after doing demonstration laps on Market Street in their race cars that they will drive in Sunday's event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. 

9/5/03

Pollock on the challenges ahead for CART owners  Craig Pollock had this to say in the latest issue of National Speed Sport News with regard to CART's future owners, and how they must run the series - "At the start, I got heavily involved in it to make sure that the right partners were put together," Pollock continued. "I'd like to think that initially I was a little bit of a catalyst in getting these partners to come together. Gerry is my partner in Formula 1 and Kevin is my partner in CART. They are definitely the key players out there at the moment, then getting on board Paul Gentilozzi and Carl Russo is just added strength." Pollock believes that Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS) will need to make radical and fundamental changes if it hopes to rebuild Champ Car racing the worldwide level of success it enjoyed in the mid-90s. "The managing director or chief executive officer of CART is going to have to deal with four very strong opinions and potentially egos," Pollock said. "So I believe it's going to take a very strong, hard-nosed businessman to run the sport. Sometimes he's going to have to turn around and say, 'I don't agree with you and we have to do it this way. You put me in position to do it, so leave me to do it and just step back. The main thing is that this is a very serious group of investors who are very fully aware that they are going to have to change the character of the sport and make it a lot more sexy," he added. "That sexiness can come out of many things. It can be the concept of having a full weekend of entertainment off the track to keep the whole family interested in coming to a race. Everything on the track must also change. We've got to create passing and they will be looking into that very seriously because the only way to generate revenue is through sponsors and TV and media. It can only be sexy for the TV side if you put on a show, but it still has to remain a sport. All that has to be studied by the experts that these four gentlemen have to get in there, because they are not 100 percent experts on motorsports. It's important that these four guys have to be willing to do that."

9/4/03

2004 Las Vegas Cup tickets go on sale Monday  Tickets for the March, 2004 NASCAR Weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will go on sale Monday, Sept. 8 at 8 a.m. Pacific Time. Tickets for the seventh annual UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup event on March 7, 2004, the Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Busch Series event (March 6), Pole Day (March 5) and the O’Reilly World of Outlaws (March 4 and 5) will be available on Monday. Race fans can call 1-800-644-4444 or log on to www.lvms.com to purchase tickets. Race fans purchasing weekend packages receive seating priority from year to year. Weekend packages include frontstretch seats for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 and Sam’s Town 300 as well as a free ticket to Pole Day. LVMS also offers a “Super Ticket” that includes tickets to two nights of the O’Reilly World of Outlaws events in addition to the NASCAR events. For the fourth consecutive year, Las Vegas Motor Speedway will offer Pole Day-only pit passes. These passes, which must be accompanied by a Pole Day ticket, will allow fans access to the infield and pit-road areas during practice and qualifying. The passes do not allow for access to the garage areas.

9/4/03

2004 All-Star race to stay at Lowe's  NASCAR's annual all-star race will return to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., next season, ThatsRacin.com has learned. The race, called The Winston since its inception in 1985, will be run on May 22, 2004 - the traditional Saturday night spot on the schedule prior to the track's first Winston Cup race of the season, the May 30 Coca-Cola 600, sources confirmed Thursday. A formal announcement of the race date will likely come in the next few weeks. The name of the race remains unclear. Track officials would not confirm the race date Thursday. "Nothing can officially be said until NASCAR releases its 2004 schedule," said track spokesman Jerry Gappens. "Obviously, we feel very positive it will return to its rightful place in 2004." Lowe's signed a one-year extension to host the all-star race this [2003] season. Last year, NASCAR suggested it might rotate The Winston to other cities, news that did not go over well with community leaders across the Charlotte region. The race generates $75 million for the track area's economy, a 1999 UNC Charlotte study found. Since then, The Winston has grown even more popular, and this year attracted a record crowd of 150,000. A nonprofit group organized to promote the race this year raised $650,000 and used the theme, "There's No Place Like Home." Most drivers and race teams live in the region, and the track has hosted the race every year since 1987. The departure of series sponsor Winston - announced in June - ensured the race would at least change in name, and possibly in location. Nextel Communications, based in Reston, Va., signed a 10-year agreement to begin sponsoring what is now known at the Winston Cup Series, beginning in 2004. At the time of their announcement, Nextel officials said they would be involved in the all-star race, but said they would leave the location up to NASCAR. There had been a lot of speculation in recent months that the race could end up at some point at Richmond International Raceway, since it is the closest Cup track to Nextel's headquarters. Last month, Lowe's officials confirmed they had signed a sanctioning agreement with NASCAR to host a Truck series race on May 21, an indicator that the all-star race would return next season. The track hosted its first Truck race this season on the night before The Winston and it was a success with more than 40,000 in attendance. Speedway officials said then they did not plan to hold a Truck race as a stand-alone event and planned it to once again coincide with the all-star race. ThatsRacin.com

9/4/03

Michelin sends letter to Italian newspaper   Michelin replied to the negative comments made by Ross Brawn of team Ferrari about Michelin tires in Gazzetta dello Sport.
Following the publication of an article implicating Michelin in your September 3, 2003 edition, the Management of Michelin would like to bring to your attention the following points :

1. Since the San Marino F1 Grand Prix, 2001, the FIA has always authorized all our front tires whose ‘tread width must not exceed 270mm ". This measurement has been taken by the FIA on new tires, as stated in the FIA Sporting Regulations article 77)C.

2. The day after the Hungarian Grand Prix 2003, the FIA unilaterally changed the interpretation of its regulation by stating that the front tire tread width must now be measured before and after use. Michelin is ready to try to conform to this new interpretation of the regulation, but continues to feel that it is necessary to have more time. The time-scale given, the next Monza Grand Prix, being much too short.

3. By making Ross Brawn’s mistaken declaration the title of your article, you are misleading your readers and it is not for Ross Brawn to decide the legality of Michelin’s tires. We therefore request that you rectify this information, remembering that Ross Brawn’s grievances are highly prejudicial to Michelin.

4. Michelin is saddened to see the great house of Ferrari involved in such false accusations. Michelin would like to remind you that it won its first F1 Grand Prix in 1978 in Rio and its first world title in 1979, both with the Ferrari team, a team for which Michelin has always had the greatest respect.

5. Michelin of course reserves the right to take legal action following the slanderous remarks of the Ferrari team-member.

9/4/03

CART files to modify their poison pill  CART filed this SEC Form 8/8A today that, if we interpret it correctly, says that CART is now waiving its poison pill (the poison pill in the stock agreement said no one can own more than 15% voting shares, and any shares owned over 15% are worthless.  A special amendment was made for Forsythe to own over the 15%, but he could only vote 15%, the rest being voted as CART saw fit).  This can mean a couple of scenarios.  Rather than letting Forsythe's remaining 9.9% shares go un-voted in a proxy vote (CART itself had to stay neutral), CART is now allowing Forsythe to vote all his 24.9% shares he owns.  Another scenario is that they are opening up who owns voting shares to make the buyout possible.  There has been a lot of stock activity lately and perhaps someone is accumulating as many shares as possible to vote for or against the buyout.  We placed a call into CART's financial folks today to get a confirmation on our interpretation, but they are all tied up in the Board meeting in Chicago.  We await their return call.  Mark C.

9/4/03

CART stock watch  UPDATE CART MPH shares closed down 0.03 (2.91%) to $1.00 per share on a very large volume of 362,300 shares.  9/4/03 - Another big volume day for MPH with over 200,000 shares traded at 12:45 PM EST and the price down 0.10.

9/4/03

Monza testing Day 3 - Schumacher fastest   World champion Michael Schumacher set the pace on the third day of testing at the Monza circuit today (Thursday), outpacing championship rivals Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen as preparation for the Italian Grand Prix continues.

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Michael Schumacher Ferrari B 1m21.29s 76
2 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW M 1m21.35s 39
3 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m21.71s 77
4 Fernando Alonso Renault M 1m21.74s 96
5 Luca Badoer Ferrari B 1m21.81s 70
6 Jarno Trulli Renault M 1m21.95s 81
7 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m21.96s 49
8 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m21.99s 74
9 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1m22.05s 54
10 Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Honda B 1m22.09s 73
11 Mark Webber Jaguar M 1m22.12s 62
12 Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m22.25s 28
13 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m22.27s 78
14 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m22.29s 80
15 Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m22.46s 65
16 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda B 1m22.46s 60
17 Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda B 1m22.90s 32
18 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan-Ford B 1m23.04s 39
19 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas B 1m23.45s 39
20 Bjorn Wirdheim Jordan-Ford B 1m23.63s 46
21 Gianmaria Bruni Minardi-Cosworth B 1m24.73s 26
22 Nicola Kiesa Minardi-Cosworth B 1m25.03s 35
B = Bridgestone
M = Michelin

9/4/03

Wirdheim gets first taste of F1 power   New FIA F3000 champion Bjorn Wirdheim got his first taste of Formula One power today when he drove Giancarlo Fisichella's car at Monza. "It was a bit difficult because we ran into some problems and, unfortunately, I didn't get as much running as I was hoping for," Wirdheim admitted.   "The team did good job and was able to get me out at the end of the day for a few more laps. It was good experience for me to drive the car, but I was still learning at the end of the afternoon, so I would have liked a few more laps."  "It was a fairly difficult day with a few problems of our own," the team's director of engineering, Gary Anderson, confirmed.  "We had to take the engine off to carry out a fuel system repair on Björn's car and, fairly early on in the pit-lane, there was an electronics glitch on his car which meant the throttle stuck fully open. We had a lot of downtime on both cars while we diagnosed and corrected the problem. Bjorn did a good job in difficult circumstances – he was cool and calm and got on with work. He probably would have found more lap time with another 20 laps. Giancarlo had a gearbox casing failure early this afternoon and we spent a lot of time changing the gearbox," Anderson admitted, "It was a 'stop-start' day, which is a bit frustrating, but it happens in testing. Both drivers did a reasonable job and all our tire and damper work is complete. Björn had the opportunity to learn about the car and Giancarlo had some time to work on race set-up, so it was positive."

9/4/03

Rear suspension failure for Williams   Williams technical director Patrick Head said that a faulty rear suspension was the likely cause of Ralf Schumacher's 150mph crash during testing at Monza on Tuesday. His Williams left the track at Lesmo 1, where it reportedly flipped several times. Schumacher was discharged from a Milan hospital Wednesday, and has returned home to rest. "It appears there may have been a failure of the bonding in part of the rear suspension," Head told British newspaper The Guardian.  We flew out new components which were fitted to the cars in time for yesterday's test."

9/4/03

Q&A with Fernando Alonso   The Renault F1 Team driver begins his first day of testing at Monza today, and he sat down yesterday to talk about his recent win and what the future holds in an interview for www.renaultf1.com.
Fernando, what have you been doing since Budapest?
Fernando Alonso: The first thing was a promotional event for Renault in Poland, and afterwards I spent a few days at home in Oxford. I was relaxing, and training for the next race. Nothing special really.
You didn’t go back to Spain?
FA: No. The response to my win has been incredible there – it was almost too much. If I had gone back straight away, I wouldn’t even have been able to walk down the street without attracting attention! The press would have followed me twenty-four hours a day.
Even the King of Spain called you?
FA: Yes, he did. He is a motor racing fan and we have already met a few times, particularly at prize-giving ceremonies. His call after the race in Budapest was extremely important to me. My win was also partly a victory for Spain, and for us, the King is a special figure: to receive a message from him was a real privilege.
Has the win changed anything in your approach to racing?
FA: Not really. From a personal point of view, my first win is a very positive step: I had dreamed about it for a long time! Having said that, I think it has had a bigger impact on the team. Renault has made an incredible effort to get on terms with the other top teams in the last few months, and people have been working very hard, especially on the engine and on integrating the teams at Enstone and Viry. We didn’t go to Hungary expecting to win: it’s a fantastic bonus for us.
Overall, would you say it was a relatively easy victory for you?
FA: Yes… Qualifying counted for at least 50% of the result, because overtaking is so hard at Budapest. During the first stint of the race I pushed liked mad, and then after that I was looking after the car and the tyres, controlling the gap. I was just worried about hearing strange noises from the car.
Did you expect to be able to win in the way you did?
FA: In my mind, I had seen my first Grand Prix win coming because of mechanical problems with another car: for example, if Schumacher’s Ferrari had had a problem in Barcelona. I never expected to win this year after dominating the race quite like that.
Your father was in Hungary to see the win. What did that mean to you?
FA: He didn’t go to Malaysia because he doesn’t like flying too much, so he missed my first podium. My family has made a lot of sacrifices for my career, and to be able to stand on the top step of the podium in Budapest, look down and see my Dad was a great feeling for me. For him as well, I think.
People see you as a potential World Champion. What’s your reaction?
FA: I don’t pay any attention. People said good things after Sepang and Barcelona, then the results were less spectacular and less was written about me. I’m sure that after Monza, the press attention will be focused on somebody else again.
The next race is Monza: what are you hoping for?
FA: It will probably be the hardest race of the season for us, and expectations are not huge. Our aim has to be to score more points. Having said that, we expected to be competitive in Budapest, but not competitive enough to win on merit. That might mean Italy has some nice surprises in store!
Finally, is life in F1 as difficult as you imagined it would be?
FA: No: it’s even harder! My life has changed a lot this year, and I don’t really have time to myself anymore. Things like just riding my bike for a few hours, having dinner with friends, or going out bowling until midnight are all impossible now. If that’s the price to pay for winning more often, though, I’m not complaining!

9/4/03

Will Brands Hatch try for approval again?   This Grandprix.com article says, Plans to redevelop Brands Hatch racing circuit for Formula 1 use were laid down in 2000 but the application for planning permission, agreed by the local Sevenoaks District Council, were then sent to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The Planning Minister Nick Raynsford decided that the best course of action was a public inquiry and this was due to start in January 2001 but the application was withdrawn when it became clear that a deal had been struck between the owners of Brands Hatch and the British Racing Drivers' Club for the race to be held at Silverstone.  (See proposed track changes in diagram to right from AR1 archives.  The pits and garage area would be relocated to the long straight called Pilgrims Drop between Surtees and Hawthorne Bend)

With Brands Hatch now up for sale (and even rumors that it is being acquired by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone), the issue of planning permission may be raised again, particularly in the light of the fact that the Kent County Council has recently come up with a new strategic plan for sport in the county.

"Kent: The Champion County, the strategic framework for sport in Kent 2003 - 2008" is a new report produced by Kent County Council's Sports Development Unit which calls for the county to "regularly accommodate major events of national and international significance" and that the country should make the best use of the existing facilities. The document also argued that Kent "should be allowed the flexibility to determine its needs and have agreements with national or regional funding bodies to ensure that those needs are met" and that although proximity to London means that Kent does not secure major events, "the location could be an advantage if North West Kent secured high quality facilities able to be used for national and international events".

The planning application made in 2000 called for permission to redevelop existing facilities including partial demolition of existing buildings and erection of pit buildings and paddock, media centre and associated helipads and grandstands, alteration to configuration of both the Indy and Grand Prix circuit together with landscaping, highway works and parking. It proposed a new 15,000 seat grandstand and three temporary grandstands capable of accommodating some 26,000 spectators so that Brands Hatch could accommodate 120,000 people on race day. The proposed redevelopment would mean the loss of 14 hectares of woodland, much of it ancient.

9/4/03

Heidfeld crashes at Monza   Nick Heidfeld had a high speed shunt this morning in testing at Monza. The German lost control of his Sauber Petronas under braking for the first corner, plowing into the Armco barriers. As he approached turn 1 it appeared be braked too late and the car's back end came around and pitched it through some Styrofoam blocks and into the Armco barriers. Heidfeld was unhurt. The team is preparing his backup car for later today.

9/4/03

Renault's Pat Symonds on testing   Every Formula 1 team might be testing this week in Monza, but for the Renault F1 Team, the race began months ago. Before the season had even started in fact…

To the outside world, the Formula 1 circus goes from race to race every two or three weeks: after one has finished, attention shifts to the next. When it comes to planning set-ups and strategies for season's races, though, things are somewhat different: as Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds explains, preparation begins months ahead of time.

"We use two main types of simulation in our race preparations," explains Pat. "First of all, there are the set-up simulations. With respect to Monza, work on these began anything up to three months ago, in order to make sure things like the correct gear ratios are available for the race. Once that baseline work has been conducted, the engineers begin concentrating on the other details, such as the type of springs or rollbars, immediately after the previous race."

On the strategy side, things begin even earlier, are fine-tuned up to the beginning of the race and can sometimes even change while it is in progress. "I take a first look at our options in terms of strategy before the beginning of the season," continues Pat. "Prior to leaving for Australia, I sit down and examine all the races, looking at what we might do, and whether any patterns emerge. After that, the detailed work begins in the weeks before the race. By Saturday, we have made our decisions on when we will make our first stop as we must run with that fuel load in final qualifying, then we continue running simulations the evening before the race in order to determine our plans for the rest of the Grand Prix."

As for the simulations themselves, they are more complex than they seem. "When we talk about running a single strategy simulation, what that actually equates to is ten thousand simulated races on the computer," concludes Pat. "After running a simulation, we then alter fuel loads, or predicted tire degradation, or what we expect our rivals to do, and repeat the process. By the Saturday night before a race, we might have run anything up to one hundred simulations… or to put it another way, one million simulated races…" Renault

9/4/03

Tracy nominated for 3rd Qtr. DOY  Coming off a slow midseason run that saw him briefly give up his spot atop the CART Champ Car World Series point standings, Paul Tracy (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) looked at a summer stretch of seven races in two months and saw an opportunity to make his move. The veteran started July with a second-place run in Cleveland and when the third-quarter ended last weekend in Denver, Tracy had earned three wins, three poles, four podiums, led 325 laps and put himself in prime position to gain his first Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford championship. As a result of the dominant performance, Tracy was again nominated for the prestigious SPEED Channel Presents the Driver of the Quarter Award as one of eight finalists from across the world of motorsports. Tracy was named as the winner of the award for the first quarter of the year after starting the 2003 season with three consecutive victories, earning himself a spot in the year-end voting for the Driver of the Year Award, which was won last year by Champ Car World Series titlist Cristiano da Matta. In its 37th year, the Driver of the Quarter award will be determined by an independent vote of an 18-member panel of auto racing journalists and broadcasters and one vote based on the cumulative tally of fans voting at www.speedtv.com. "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." Tracy will compete will seven other nominees for the third-quarter award, including five other drivers that are leading their respective series. NHRA Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon, Trans-Am leader Scott Pruett, NASCAR Winston Cup frontman Matt Kenseth, USAC ace J.J. Yeley and IRL leader Helio Castroneves are all among the nominees along with NASCAR's Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman.

9/4/03

Da Matta says Indy Car racing must be patterned after CART  In this Toronto Sun article, F1 driver Cristiano da Matta says, his CART win at the Toronto Molson Indy in 2002 is one he cherishes. In fact, da Matta said it is races like Toronto that keep him opposed to the Indy Racing League becoming the only North American open wheel series left should CART fail. "From what I see from (Europe) is that I hope CART does not join with the IRL," he said. "I think CART with its street courses, road courses and ovals is a much better series." Da Matta said if there is to be just one open wheel series in North American he hopes it will be patterned on CART. That doesn't mean he doesn't have hopes of some day competing at the Indianapolis 500, the crown jewel of the IRL. "I think of the Indianapolis 500 as separate from the IRL," da Matta said. "It is one of the greatest races in the world." Da Matta said that even racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway later this month at the United States Grand Prix will pale in comparison with racing the big oval on Memorial Day. "To drive the (USGP) course at Indianapolis is just another normal F-1 track," da Matta said. "But the oval ... that's the place that has all of the tradition."

9/4/03

Barron to replace Rice  Look for Alex Barron to drive Cheever Racing's Dallara/Chevrolet starting this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.  He will replace Buddy Rice.  The team has not had great success this year and Cheever felt a driver change was in order.

9/4/03

Zanardi can be copied but never equaled  Former CART driver Alex Zanardi started the post-race victory donut craze, but to this day, we have yet to see a driver who could do them as well as Zanardi.  The Winston Cup drivers try, put they can't come anywhere near close to equaling Zanardi's donuts that would form perfect circle on top of circle for as long as he wanted.  Zanardi's secret was thought to be putting the brake bias all the way forward and locking the front tires using the brakes (front) as a pivot point while he spun the back tires with his 900 HP Champ Car engine.  His ability to keep the pivot point almost stationary was remarkable.  This AP article talks about the copycat NASCAR drivers who have gotten out of hand doing donuts, that frankly look pathetic.  Oh, and have you noticed they now copy former CART driver Helio Castroneves' (who now does it in the IRL) Spiderman fence climbing antics?  Can they think of anything original on their own?  To a very professional Terry Labonte's credit, when asked Tuesday night on Wind Tunnel why he didn't do victory donuts, he said it didn't make sense because Alex Zanardi set the standard that no one could ever match.  Basically he was saying he's not a copycat like the others.  Mark C.

9/4/03

Wednesday testing at Lowe's  Jamie McMurray continued to set the pace Wednesday as NASCAR Winston Cup teams wrapped up their two-day testing session at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. For the second night, McMurray topped the unofficial speed charts in the twilight session with a lap of 177.282 mph around the 1.5 mile quad-oval. McMurray’s Havoline team was among the five teams that remained for the second of the two-day session as the teams made their final preparations for the UAW-GM Quality 500 on Saturday night, Oct. 11. "We are definitely better than we were here in May," McMurray said. "We've gone through a bunch of shocks, basically trying stuff we don't have time to try during a race weekend. We think we've found something and the car is driving really good. I'm looking forward to coming back in October." Jeff Fultz, a former ARCA RE/MAX Series winner here, was second fastest at 177.072 mph in the No. 55 Ford. Two-time UAW-GM Quality 500 winner Dale Jarrett was third fastest at 175.821 mph in the No. 88 UPS Ford. Christian Fittipaldi was fourth fastest at 173.482 mph in the No. 44 Dodge. NASCAR Busch Series point leader Scott Riggs returned to test on Wednesday, but the #57 CLR team packed up before sunset. Larry Foyt and Scott Wimmer did not return for the second day of open testing. The unofficial speeds: 1. Jamie McMurray, 177.282 mph; 2. Jeff Fultz, 177.072; 3. Dale Jarrett, 175.821; 4. Christian Fittipaldi, 173.482; 5. Scott Riggs, 173.176.  Pete McCole

9/4/03

Is CART dead?  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, Labor Day has come and gone.  I thought for sure CART would have been sold by now.  Time has run out already to have a successful 2004 season.  They have not even announced a 2004 schedule yet.  Is CART dead?  Michael Moore, St. Louis, Mo.  Dear Michael, If Jon Vannini files his lawsuit, yes CART is dead.  Not only will the lawsuit seek any assets of CART itself, it will probably attempt to pierce the corporate veil and tap personal assets.  That process alone will delay plans for the 2004 season such that it will be too late for everything. Quite unfortunate, but that's the reality of the situation.  However, we're still hopeful cooler heads will prevail and that will be resolved before it gets that far.  At least both sides are still talking.  The good news is that if that does get resolved, Open Wheel Racing Series LLC has been working hard behind the scenes and will have some big announcements to make once they own CART.  Any delusions by those who think CART is dead will be gone. In fact, at that point CART will have more money (i.e. the new owners have a combined wealth that is said to exceed the Hulman George family) behind it than the Hulman George family reportedly has and can hunker down for the long haul until Tony George runs out of money.  We're not sure Tony's sisters have the stomach for such a battle (yes, they really have a big say in the family fortunes).  Mark C.

9/4/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  
Ferrari Blew Whistle On F1 Tire Saga
DC Still Tops At Busy Monza Session
F1 Loss Spells Disaster For Canada
Ralf Checks Out, Ordered To Rest
FIA Confirms: Ferrari Blew Michelin Whistle

Ralf 'Should Be Fine' For Monza Race
Surtees Searches For New F1 Star
Schu: Lapped, But Still Title Favorite
BMW-Williams Sign Teenage Tester
Mixed Day For All-New Michelin Design

Renault To Run Same Tires At Monza?
Bridgestone's 'Proof' Of Illegal F1 Tires
Head Questions Timing Of F1 Tire Row
No Trip Home For F1 Winner Alonso
India's F1 Race Shaping Up
Ecclestone Denies Italian GP Boycott 

9/3/03

Pruett nets Rocketsports owners title  Scott Pruett, who padded his points lead in the MotoRock Trans-Am Tour for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup championship with a victory in the MotoRock Mile High 100 last Sunday at Denver, took home much more than a trophy. With the triumph, Pruett earned yet another spot in the history books, a chance to be named the top driver in the sport, an invitation to rock out with Elton John, and finally the ultimate honor for his Rocketsports team.

With his victory at Denver, Pruett and his Rocketsports crew clinched the Team Owners’ Championship, clinching Rocketsports Racing’s first title since the current Team Championship format was adopted last season.

“We’re doing what we came here to do,” said Pruett. “We started by clinching the Manufacturers’ Championship for Jaguar at Road America. That was our first big hurdle. We cleared the next obstacle by winning the Team Owners’ Championship. Now, our next step is to grab the Drivers’ Championship.

“It’s just been a great season,” added the two-time Trans-Am titleholder. “I stepped into a championship-caliber team. The team’s immense talent and my experience combined to make all of the pieces fall into place.”

“I’m very pleased to receive this honor,” 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.

“I’ve had a great season on the track, but this award is also given for accomplishments off the track as well,” added Pruett, who is also a commentator for the Champ Car World Series broadcasts on SPEED. “I believe in giving back, and through the Scott Pruett Charity Golf Tournament, we’ve given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. I’m also involved in Give Kids the World. That’s what this is all about; being involved in things you believe in.”

Pruett also earned a unique opportunity from MotoRock for his victory at Denver. MotoRock, which will run its first event in conjunction with the Trans-Am Tour this year in Miami, Sept. 26-28, will feature rock and roll’s original “Rocket Man” Elton John during the Saturday, Sept. 27 festivities. For his efforts at Denver, Pruett will be a guest of honor at that concert, sitting in the front row, and will attend a special reception with Elton John.

“That is very cool,” said Pruett. “When you look at the great performers in rock and roll history, Elton John easily rises to the top. This opportunity is just the icing on the cake.

“MotoRock will offer people the value for their money they’ve come to expect,” said Pruett. “MotoRock is a new and exciting idea that will give back to the fans.

“All of the drivers I know love music, and most performers enjoy auto racing,” concluded Pruett. “This is a perfect fit.”

Finally, with his Denver win, Pruett kept climbing the rungs of the Trans-Am all-time win list, with number 21, tying Bob Tullius for fourth. Interestingly, Tullius won the 1978 Drivers’ Championship and Manufacturers’ Championship for Jaguar, the British carmaker’s first of three titles. Pruett clinched the manufacturers’ title for Jaguar two weeks ago at Road America. In fact, with two more wins this year, Pruett will start next season just one victory behind three-time champion Paul Gentilozzi.

9/3/03

Kenny Brack & Mark Taylor teleconference  

INDY RACING LEAGUE
WEEKLY TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
Kenny Brack and Mark Taylor

9/3/03

Too old?  We thought 45-year old Tom Wood was too old to be starting a driving career in the IPS (IRL training series). Up until his serious accident, possibly career-ending, we certainly thought so, but oval track racing doesn't require the fast reflexes of the young like road racing does (watch in-car camera shots of Michel Jourdain and Oriol Servia in qualifying from CART's Denver GP and you will see what we mean).  Now comes word Taylor Fletcher will drive for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the Infiniti Pro Series Chicagoland 100 Sept. 6 at Chicagoland Speedway. Fletcher, 46, from San Clemente, Calif., will drive the No. 9 Empress Casino/Olive Crest Foundation Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. 

9/3/03

Witherill engaged  Infiniti Pro Series standout Cory Witherill recently became engaged to Jennifer Khasnabis, co-host of PBS’ MotorWeek. Witherill, who proposed in Tahiti, was asked what was more nerve-wracking proposing or qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 in 2001. “I wasn't too nervous,” Witherill said. “Actually, I felt pretty comfortable in both situations. I was confident with what I was doing and confident that everything would work out for the best. I was making a big step, one in my career and the other in my life. It made me a little nervous, but, at the same time, it is all for the best. It’s just a happy moment.”

9/3/03

Eve 6 to perform  Platinum recording RCA musical group, Eve 6, will perform Sept. 7 prior to the start of the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. The one-hour concert will take place on the Indy Racing Live stage in Expo Village at 11 a.m. Eve 6’s 1998 self-titled album went platinum and contained the No. 1 hit, “Inside Out” and the top 10 follow-up single “Leech.” The trio also had success with 2001 album, Horrorscope,” which contained the top-five modern rock hit “Promise,” and the MTV/Top 40 smash “Here’s To The Night.” The band recently released the latest album, “It’s All In Your Head” in July.

9/3/03

IRL injury update  IndyCar Series driver Sarah Fisher, who suffered a severe back contusion during an accident at Nazareth Speedway Aug. 23 during final practice, has been cleared to drive by Dr. Henry Bock, medical services director for the Indy Racing League. Fisher will return to the cockpit of the No. 23 GMAC/AOL/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone this weekend at the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. IRL Infiniti Pro Series driver Tom Wood has been moved from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis to the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana to begin rehabilitation, said Dr. Kevin Scheid, an orthopedic surgeon from OrthoIndy. Wood, from Calgary, Alberta, suffered fractures to his middle back, right knee, right foot and both ankles during an accident on Lap 52 of the Kentucky 100 Infiniti Pro Series event on Aug. 16 at Kentucky Speedway.

9/3/03

Castroneves nominated for DOY  Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves has been nominated for the Speed Channel Presents Driver of the Year 2003 Third Quarter award. Castroneves, who leads the IndyCar Series point standings, scored victories in two of the last three races. He won the Emerson Indy 250 Aug. 10 at Gateway International Raceway and the Firestone Indy 225 Aug. 24 at Nazareth Speedway. The Driver of the Year award is in its 37th year, and awards are given out quarterly during the racing season, before the end of the year award is given. Voting for the awards is determined by an independent vote of an 18-member panel of auto-racing journalists and broadcasters and one vote based on the cumulative tally of fan voting at www.speedtv.com. More than 128,000 fans voted online during the second quarter. The winner of the third quarter voting will be given a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix Swiss Watch, the official watch of the Driver of the Year.

9/3/03

Bell gets first taste of F1 car  UPDATE We have added photos from Townsend's first on-track F1 test.  9/2/03 -   American Townsend Bell had his first taste of Formula One with the BAR team on Tuesday when he began straight-line aerodynamics testing at the Lurcy-Levis track in central France. "Today was amazing," said the 28-year-old Formula 3000 driver after driving the BAR-Honda 005. "It's the fastest car I've ever driven. I was too busy smiling to be too analytical on the first run but it was great gradually working up to higher speeds. "I'm really looking forward to the next couple of days." There are no U.S. drivers in Formula One, which has had American world champions in the past like Phil Hill and Mario Andretti.  Reuters


(L to R) Bell at Speed, Bell awaits adjustments, Stefan Stranhnz-Team Leader

9/3/03

SAFER Walls ready to go at Richmond  This AP article says, One unforgettable moment from the most recent NASCAR weekend at Richmond International Raceway was the departure of a helicopter carrying seriously injured driver Jerry Nadeau to a hospital. But a triple-header this weekend will be run on a track with a new Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) wall system in place at both ends. The barrier is designed to soften the blow of crashes in the turns. Richmond is the first short track in the series to have the walls, and drivers who have seen the barriers have praised the change as one that provides some peace of mind. "They took some time and did their research to try to figure out how to do it right the first time," said Winston Cup ace Kevin Harvick. "They obviously wouldn't be putting them up if it wouldn't help." Johnny Benson and Bobby Hamilton have missed races after being hurt at Richmond, but neither was injured as seriously as Nadeau in May. He had to be cut from his car after it slammed driver's side first into the wall. He suffered a head injury, a fractured shoulder blade and lung and rib injuries, remained semiconscious for three weeks and hasn't raced since. Drivers in Saturday night's Chevrolet Rock & Roll 400 and the Busch and Craftsman Truck series events the previous nights will find 1,197 feet of the steel and Styrofoam barriers in each turn. "Richmond is a great track and if this barrier works like I think it will, everyone in our sport will benefit," said Benson, who broke a rib in a Busch race crash here in May 2002. "We hit the wall at the short tracks as hard as we do at the bigger tracks." The installation, completed last week, prevented teams from coming to the track to test. But Harvick's teammate, Robby Gordon, doesn't think that will matter. Track president Doug Fritz said NASCAR asked Richmond to install the walls, joining Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the only track on the circuit with the system in place. The track will have crews on hand throughout the busy weekend to inspect the walls for damage and to assess whether immediate repairs are required. Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart doesn't expect drivers to be thinking about the walls while they are racing, but qualified that. "I guarantee that if you start spinning and you're heading toward that wall, you're going to be thinking about it a little bit," he said.

9/3/03

Williams hires teenager   Estonia's Marko Asmer has joined Williams as a Formula One test driver for the rest of the year.   Williams said they had retained Asmer, 19, for future testing duties in 2003, with an option on his services for 2004. The Formula Ford driver carried out straight-line testing at Vairano in Italy earlier in the year and also tested for Williams in Barcelona in July. "Marko proved himself to be a keen and competent worker in the car, providing us with some great feedback," said chief operations engineer Sam Michael.

9/3/03

Judge rules in favor of RJ Reynolds at The Glen  This AP article says, The state's highest court Tuesday refused to disturb lower court rulings that rejected state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's attempts to limit billboard advertisements by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. at the Watkins Glen International Speedway. Without comment, the Court of Appeals said it would not hear a case based on Spitzer's contention that R.J. Reynolds was violating terms of the 1998 Master Settlement between the state and the tobacco industry by the year-round billboards at Watkins Glen.  Under the settlement, which was negotiated for New York by Spitzer's predecessor Dennis Vacco, the signs should have gone up no more than 90 days before the NASCAR event at Watkins Glen and come down 10 days after the race ended, Spitzer argued. But R.J. Reynolds contended that the Master Settlement allowed it to sponsor one sports-related event a year and that its Winston Cup stock car series is a continuous event beginning in February every year and ending in November. It argued that its billboards at Watkins Glen were permissible throughout the Winston Cup series season, not just around the time of the annual NASCAR road race at the Glen......Courts in other states have also found for R.J. Reynolds in race track billboard cases brought outside of New York. "The advertising restrictions in the tobacco settlement are an important tool in protecting public health in New York state," Christine Pritchard, a spokeswoman for Spitzer, said Tuesday. "We are disappointed in the Court of Appeals' ruling declining to hear the case." Spitzer's suit noted that besides the NASCAR event at Watkins Glen, the track is also used for other races, a wine festival and other public events throughout the year. In February 2003, R.J. Reynolds cited marketing restrictions and an uncertain business climate in the tobacco industry for its decision to stop sponsoring the Winston Cup racing series. Telecommunications giant Nextel in June agreed to pay $700 million to sponsor the premier NASCAR racing series beginning in 2004.

9/3/03

NHRA

IRL and NHRA Texas dates conflict again  One year after officials for the IRL and the NHRA said they would try to avoid a scheduling overlap in the future, the 2004 schedules show the two racing leagues will again compete on the same weekend in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. The 2004 NHRA schedule was released Saturday, listing the O'Reilly Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis as Oct. 14-17. It's the same weekend as the IRL and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. TMS general manager Eddie Gossage emphasized that the 2004 fall event at TMS was changed to a week later to avoid the NHRA weekend in Ennis. He was surprised Saturday when he learned the scheduling overlap would continue next year. "What happened to their traditionally second weekend [of October] argument?" Gossage asked. "They made such a big production out of that last year when this happened, so we went out of our way to accommodate them this time." NHRA president Tom Compton, in Indianapolis for the U.S. Nationals, disagrees with that perspective. "Eddie is incorrect about that," Compton said. "Anyone who makes schedules knows dates shift from year to year. The Ennis race has been the sixth weekend after Labor Day. That's what it was last year, that's what it is this year and that's what it will be next year. Gossage said he worked with ABC television officials and the IRL to change the 2004 TMS October date. Dallas Morning News

9/3/03

CART stock watch  UPDATE In NYSE trading today MPH closed UNCHANGED at $1.03 p/shr on Volume of 267,300 shares.
Low/High of Session: $1.00/$1.09
NYSE UP 45.19 or 0.47% on Volume of 2.08B shares.
NASDAQ UP 11.42 or 0.62%
S&P 500 UP 4.28 or 0.42%
  9/3/03 - At 12:49 PM EDT 199,300 shares of MPH traded at $1.00 p/shr.. So far in the session MPH is DOWN $0.03 p/shr or 2.91% to $1.00 p/shr on Volume of 235,500 shares.
Low/High of Session: $1.00/$1.09.  The volume is relatively high today.
courtesy of C3I.AndersonGroupe – Chicago
www.andersongroupe.com

9/3/03

Wednesday Monza test times   David Coulthard took top position on the timesheets for the second successive day at Monza, edging out teammate Kimi Raikkonen by 0.217 seconds. Coulthard, who posted a best time of 1:22.065 on Tuesday to take P1, shaved half a second off his time on Wednesday as he continued McLaren's preparations for next weekend's Italian Grand Prix. Both McLaren drivers, as well as the Williams drivers, ran Michelin's new spec tires for the first time on Wednesday. The French company has produced the tires in response to the FIA's announcement last week that tread width would now be measured after and not before a race, which may have resulted in Michelin's old tires being deemed illegal.

1. Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.533 50 laps
2. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.750 79 laps
3. Frentzen Sauber-Petronas 1:22.125 79 laps
4. Schumacher Ferrari 1:22.148 60 laps
5. Badoer Ferrari 1:22.164 65 laps
6. Montoya Williams-BMW 1:22.177 31 laps
7. Villlenuve BAR-Honda 1:22.184 136 laps
8. Barrichello Ferrari 1:22.238 34 laps
9. Trulli Renault 1:22.413 84 laps
10. Button BAR-Honda 1:22.497 79 laps
11. Alonso Renault 1:22.633 70 laps
12. Webber Jaguar-Cosworth 1:22.810 50 laps
13. Sato BAR-Honda 1:22.828 51 laps
14. Zonta Toyota 1:22.914 61 laps
15. Wilson Jaguar-Cosworth 1:22.937 50 laps
16. Panis Toyota 1:22.954 61 laps
17. da Matta Toyota 1:23.110 77 laps
18. Baumgartner Jordan-Ford 1:24.122 73 laps
19. Fisichella Jordan-Ford 1:24.641 57 laps
20. Verstappen Minardi-Cosworth 1:24.723 21 laps
21. Bruni Minardi-Cosworth 1:25.237 34 laps
22. Gene Williams-BMW 1:25.493 4 laps

9/3/03

Michelin reacts quickly with new tire   Michelin has responded to the Formula 1 tire controversy, by producing a completely new design ahead of next weekend's Italian Grand Prix. The French manufacturer's motorsport boss Pierre Dupasquier commented: "The new interpretation of the rules by the FIA has forced us to react. You don't think for one moment that Michelin would not respond to the challenge? Our people have been working 24 hours a day since last Wednesday and new tires are being tested in Monza as we speak. For anyone that knows anything about the tire world, to do what we've just managed is a huge achievement and this is only possible thanks to the hard work and fast reaction time of our teams here in Clermont-Ferrand."

9/3/03

Mazda Raceway to honor Rahal  Three time CART champion and current Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford team owner Bobby Rahal was named Grand Marshal earlier this season for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and this Friday, September 5th the Northern California circuit will recognize him again when officials dedicate a portion of the winding 2.238-mile ribbon of pavement in his honor. In a ceremony during the Fry’s Electronics Sports Car Championships this Friday at 12:00 p.m. PT in Monterey, the challenging section of Laguna Seca from the exit of Turn 6 up the hill and through the Turn 7 kink to the entrance of the fabled “corkscrew” turn will officially be named the “Rahal Straight,” honoring one of the great friends of the historic venue. “Laguna Seca has always had a special place in my heart,” said Rahal, who won the Champ Car race at Laguna Seca as a driver four consecutive years from 1984-1987. “To have a section of what is one of the crown jewels in American road racing bear my name is an honor beyond belief. I am truly humbled.” Rahal also has three more CART victories at Laguna Seca as a team owner, in 1998 and ’99 with Bryan Herta at the wheel and 2001 with Max Papis driving. His first race at the track was in 1976 in Atlantic competition and the first big event he won at Laguna came was in the Can-Am series in 1979. “I’ve just always loved this circuit,” said Rahal. “To win here four years in a row, I’m really proud of that. It’s just one of those tracks I’ve had an affinity for. But, what’s not to like about the Monterey Peninsula? Every win here was special. How fortunate I’ve been to win so much at a circuit I love.”

9/3/03
Industry News

Bridgestone/Firestone names Motorsports PR Manager  Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC is proud to announce that Charla Sasser has assumed the position of Manager of Motorsports and Product Public Relations, effective September 1.

Ms. Sasser comes to BFNT after serving the past 3 1/2 years as Deputy Director of Scheduling for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Possessing a Master's degree in Sports Administration from Florida State University, Ms. Sasser also has previous public relations experience with the Savannah Rug Ratz of the Eastern Indoor Soccer League, the East Coast Hockey League, the Florida State University sports information department and the British Olympic Association.

Ms. Sasser is ready to assist with any of your media or public relations needs involving the Bridgestone and Firestone motorsports programs. You may contact her at (615) 937-3341 or by e-mail at SasserCharla@bfusa.com.

9/3/03

Preparations continue at Indy despite flooding  UPDATE We have added more flooding photos below, courtesy of IMS.  No one is driving through that tunnel for a few days.  9/2/03 -  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is among the long list of central Indiana residences and businesses battling floodwaters in the aftermath of record rainfall over the Labor Day weekend. The Indianapolis International Airport – located 5 miles from the Speedway – received 7.2 inches of rain on Labor Day, making Sept. 1 officially the wettest day ever in Indianapolis. Despite flooding on the grounds of the Speedway and Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, Speedway officials said that preparations for the fourth running of the United States Grand Prix, scheduled for Sept. 26-28, continue unabated. Ironically, the rains came on the day FIA Safety Delegate and USGP race director Charlie Whiting visited IMS for his final inspection before the race. Some day-to-day operations at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been hampered or canceled by the rain, including:
●Brickyard Crossing Golf Course will remain closed until at least Thursday due to flood damage along Little Eagle Creek, which runs through the middle of the course. The Brickyard Crossing staff is assessing the damage before officially announcing a reopening date.
●The Hall of Fame Museum remains open despite the closure of Gate 2 – the main entrance and tunnel into the Speedway off 16th Street – due to flooding. Museum guests should enter the Speedway grounds via the Brickyard Crossing Inn entrance, located a block east of the Speedway entrance, and follow the signs.
●Track tours by the Hall of Fame Museum continue to run.
●The lower level of the Brickyard Crossing Inn received flood damage, thereby impacting the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course clubhouse, the Brickyard Crossing Inn sales and catering offices and several meeting rooms. If you were scheduled to attend a meeting or event at Brickyard Crossing this week, hotel officials recommend that you call ahead at (317) 492-2500 to confirm its status.

9/3/03

Kelley Racing signs new partnership  Kelley Racing and SmartVideo Technologies Inc. (OTCBB: SMVD), a leading provider of digital media solutions, have announced a new multi-year partnership. This partnership will provide leading edge communications tools that will put Kelley Racing at the forefront of communicating with their fans and partners about the dynamic world of IndyCar Series racing. Kelley Racing plans to use SmartVideo’s SvBroadcast Product to enable its drivers to frequently communicate with their fans around the world. The team will use SmartVideo’s Products to communicate with all the team partners and enhance their marketing communications and build brand awareness and loyalty. “I know how loyal Kelley Racing and their drivers are to the IndyCar Series fans. Most race fans still access the Internet through dial-up connections – I’m really glad that Kelley recognizes the value of these viewers and has chosen to work with SmartVideo in delivering frequent information to the millions of fans around the world,” said Richard Bennett, President of SmartVideo Technologies. Kelley Racing

9/3/03

Ferrari says it was they who turned Michelin in   Ferrari's Ross Brawn has revealed that they were responsible for alerting the FIA of Michelin’s illegal tires. He told the Italian press that the team had contacted the sport’s governing body, despite Max Mosley's earlier claim that Ferrari hadn't been the source. Brawn said Ferrari contacted the FIA after seeing photographs that proved their rivals, Williams and McLaren were using illegal tires. He told the Gazzetta dello Sport: "It all started in Budapest when Bridgestone got ahold of some photos taken in the paddock by a Japanese photographer. "They showed in an unequivocal way that the front Michelin tires had an excessively large tread at the end of the race or after being used.  We turned to Charlie Whiting who, on the basis of his measurements and the photos, then sent the famous letter.  We could have pretended to have seen nothing, to not let the FIA know and then lodge a complaint at the following race, but that didn't seem like the right thing to do." Brawn estimated that the advantage in the wider tread could make a car half a second quicker. But he fell short of saying that the advantage of the Michelin tires had been enough to explain Ferrari’s recent lack of pace. He said: "You can't say that. But it's clear that if you take an advantage like that away from the competition you'll find yourself in a better position."

9/3/03

Indians to make pitch for F1 race   An Indian government delegation will travel to Italy next week in a bid to convince Formula One chiefs to add an Indian grand prix to the race calendar. The delegation will make a presentation to Bernie Ecclestone outlining facilities available in Hyderabad, according to Andhra Pradesh state chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. Ecclestone will be in Italy to attend the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The meeting follows an invitation to Naidu to discuss the size of the event and requirements for hosting it. The grand prix would give a tremendous boost to the state's infrastructure and tourism, said Naidu. The state government already has held two rounds of talks with F1 representatives. Circuit designer Hermann Tilke, who conceived the grand prix race tracks in Bahrain and Malaysia, as well as in Shanghai, recently visited India.  AP Story

9/3/03

Vickers to be youngest Cup driver  Brian Vickers will become the youngest full-time competitor ever in NASCAR's top series next season when he takes over the No. 25 Chevrolet now driven by Joe Nemechek. Car owner Rick Hendrick put Vickers on an advanced schedule Tuesday based on the promise the 19-year-old has shown in just under two seasons in the Busch Series. As the youngest full-time participant in any of NASCAR's top three classes, Vickers ranks third in the Busch Series points with 15 top-10 finishes and eight top-fives.  He scored his second career victory Saturday at Darlington Raceway, leading 18-year-old teammate Kyle Busch across the finish line for a 1-2 Hendrick showing. Now he'll get the keys to the No. 25, which Nemechek has driven the past year-and-a-half. His contract is not being renewed. Vickers, who turns 20 in October, will be two months younger than Casey Atwood was when he made his Winston Cup debut at age 20 two years ago. ``Brian has proven that he has the tools to be successful, not only through on-track performance, but with his maturity and ability to handle himself in a way that represents our sponsors, our teams and our sport in a positive light,'' Hendrick said. ``There's no doubt in my mind that he's going to have a very long and productive career." The move also clears a seat for Busch to race full-time next season in Vickers' old car.  AP

9/3/03

Keep your eye on Andrew Ranger  Everyone is saying that 16-year old Andrew Ranger is somebody to keep an eye on.  He's been mopping up the Fran-Am series and now sets his sights on his next challenge. A new challenge awaits young sensation Andrew Ranger this weekend, as he will enter two rounds of the Formula Renault UK Championship with Manor Motorsport, a subsidiary of the McLaren Mercedes group. The young 16-year old driver will take part in some pre-race testing sessions on Thursday in order to get ready for rounds 14 and 15 of this renowned championship, disputed this Saturday and Sunday on the 1.96-mile Donington Park circuit in England. It will be a new step in the young driver’s career and may very well be a precursor to a few more European events this year while pursuing his activities in the North American Fran-Am Championship series. This won’t be Ranger’s first European experience as the young driver competed in karting overseas for a couple of years and even became the first ever Canadian driver to win the FIA/CIK Viking Trophy in Denmark in 2001. “I am thrilled to have this opportunity to compete in the upcoming round of the Formula Renault 2000 UK Championship at Donington Park, even more so to join the ranks of such a strong and dominating team as Manor Motorsport. This leading, single-seater racing team has captured six titles in Formula Renault alone and has launched the career of numerous young talents, including that of Kimi Raikkonen who graduated straight from a Formula Renault to a Formula 1 car,” said the Roxton Pond, Quebec driver. “This will be a first experience for me and I have to face a few unknown factors in this venture. To enter a championship in the middle of a season with a new team can sometimes be unsettling, but I am confident that things will work out fine for me in such a professional environment. I never had the chance to race at Donington before but that should not be a problem. We’re having a very successful season in the North American Fran-Am Pro Championship where I have never competed on any of the circuits and yet we collected four victories so far. I look forward to learning the track next Thursday and to assess the competition. It will be an extremely busy week for me but I am well prepared and highly motivated to take on this exciting challenge,” concluded Ranger. Ranger currently leads the Fran-Am Pro drivers’ standings with a total of 261 points, 43 more than Charles Hall of Great Britain, second with 218 points and 60 more than Robert Bell, two-times champion of the Formula Renault UK winter series. The young driver left Montreal last night to go the Manor Motorsport race shop in England to mould his seat. He will be on track at Donington Park starting Thursday for four testing sessions of 50 minutes each and then again on Friday, for two qualifying sessions.

9/3/03

Schumacher in major Monza shunt   UPDATE  Ralf Schumacher will return to his home in Austria this morning after spending the night in a Milan hospital for observation. Schumacher crashed at the 150mph Lesmo 1 corner at Monza, where the car is reported to have somersaulted several times. The German will take no further part in this week's test as he rests ahead of the Italian Grand Prix. Sam Michael, Williams' Chief Operations Engineer, confirmed that the Monza accident was not Ralf's fault.  “We are not 100% sure yet what happened, but it was some sort of technical failure. The car is not a write-off, but it's going back to the factory today to be repaired." Ralf has no broken bones but reports say he may have suffered some concussion. Williams were unable to confirm this. A more detailed statement is expected later. 9/2/03 - A huge testing crash at the end of the day today at Monza put Williams star Ralf Schumacher in the hospital. The German was conscious when he arrived at the track's medical centre, but his car came back in a serious state of damage. Eyewitnesses said the accident happened at the 150mph first Lesmo corner and that the car somersaulted several times. Ralf's older brother Michael has accompanied him to the San Rafaele hospital in Milan for checks, although the German is believed to be unhurt in the incident. Schumacher Jr had already had an incident earlier in the day when an oil leak caused a conflagration at the rear of his car.  Tim Newton, BMW-Williams test team manager, said:  "Ralf suffered an accident at the end of the afternoon session when he spun off the circuit at one of the Lesmo corners. He is currently undergoing precautionary medical checks. The cause of the accident is not yet known but is under investigation."  Teammate Juan Pablo Montoya's day went more smoothly as Williams concentrated on long runs in order to evaluate tire wear in the light of the new tire rules interpretation imposed by the FIA.  Today's test times:

Pos Driver (Car-Engine) Time Tires Laps
1 David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) M 1m22.065s 61
2 Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW) M 1m22.416s 62
3 Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) B 1m22.532s 30
4 Jenson Button (BAR-Honda) B 1m22.630s 81
5 Alex Wurz (McLaren-Mercedes) M 1m22.630s 73
6 Jacques Villeneuve (BAR-Honda) B 1m22.647s 82
7 Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Sauber-Petronas) B 1m22.651s 69
8 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) B 1m22.753s 65
9 Takuma Sato (BAR-Honda) B 1m23.153s 32
10 Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW) M 1m23.163s 88
B = Bridgestone
M = Michelin

9/3/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  
Michelin Bids To End F1 Tire Saga
Berger: BMW Engine Is Without Equal
Indy F1 Circuit Damaged In Floods
Ralf And Michael Spend Night In Hospital
Tire Controversy Will Cost Williams Speed
Firman Disappointed To Skip Monza Test
Michelin Chief Points Finger At Ferrari
Michelin Man: Go Ahead, Disqualify Us
Jordan Offers 'Chunk' Of Team For Sale
Bell Blown Away By F1's Power
Villeneuve Back To Williams In 2004?
Coulthard Leads Pack Of 15 At Monza
FIA Chief: Michelin Tires Have Changed

9/3/03

What equipment for a merged series?  A reader writes, With this recent talk of a merger between CART and the IRL, what equipment would a combined series use?  I see this as a major obstacle.  George Murphy, New Orleans, LA  Dear George, First, the issue of a merger is still a long way off.  Tony George has rebuffed any past overtures from CART for a merger.  What would be different this time?  It's clear the IRL by itself is failing with falling TV ratings, low car count, and numerous driver injuries.  At some point the engine manufacturers and sponsors are going to insist on a merger to save the sport of Indy Car Racing.  As it is right now, they can't be happy with the statistics, and will either force Tony's hand or withdraw.  Common equipment would be essential if teams were to cross over between the road racing and oval racing divisions, or if they were to run as all one division on a combination of track type (oval, road courses, streets).  The current Champ Car is a versatile machine that works well on all the circuits, while the IRL car was strictly designed to be an oval car. Sure you can try to retrofit the IRL car to become a road racer, but why would you want to?  By all accounts the cars are not very attractive (compared to a Champ Car Lola), they make too much noise for street circuits, they are still tail-heavy and tail-happy, and the current Champ Car engine costs less and the turbo enables the engines to make more HP than the IRL engine and be more durable. It's difficult to keep engine costs down and everyone equal unless you go with the badging concept.  However, here is a possible alternate scenario -  Honda and Toyota still have a 2.65 L turbo engine sitting in mothballs.  If the engines are required to last 1,200 miles between rebuilds, and have a maximum RPM, the cost of those engines are equal to or less than the current IRL engine spec.  Perhaps common electronics can be designed to work on all three engines to keep everyone legal and prevent traction control.  The mothballed Honda and Toyota 2.65 L turbo would require a retrofit like Cosworth did with their Champ Car engine (Cosworth did not redesign a whole new engine) to get the 1,200 miles between rebuilds, and some side-by-side dyno runs over the winter of 2004 would be required to ensure they're all pretty equal, but then the engines can be locked down for the year with minimal changes allowed, but for rebuilds.  The 2.65L turbo had been the Indy Car engine since the 1970s and there's really no reason not to continue with it as long as controls are in place to prevent runaway HP and high costs.  What about Chevy?  They can badge the turbo Cosworth just like they are badging the current 3.5 L Cosworth.  What about using the 3.5 L IRL engine instead?  It does not last 1,200 miles between rebuilds and would require revs be dropped even further to do so.  It's already running at a ridiculously low RPM. The dumbing down of Indy Car racing has hurt its image in our opinion. If anything, the turbo engine is a bit sexier, has a higher-tech image and sounds better.  This isn't stock car racing.  Endurance racing (LeMans) has proven over the years that a turbo engine is the way to go if you're looking for good performance and longevity.  A turbo hasn't been beaten in years.  Plus turbos and superchargers (i.e. forced air induction engines) are gaining in popularity on street cars.  We're rambling.  It doesn't matter what we think.  First Tony George has to say yes to a merger, and that's far from being a reality at this point.  Mark C.

9/3/03

Kyle Busch lands Hendrick ride  Car owner Ricky Hendrick today announced that 18-year-old Kyle Busch will move to the NASCAR Busch Series full-time in 2004 as driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets. The move will pair Busch with a proven team that currently ranks third in Busch Series championship points with driver Brian Vickers, who will compete in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series in 2004. "Kyle Busch is a talent," Hendrick said. "In a short amount of time, he's shown that he has the ability to go out and compete with the best this sport has to offer. It's going to be fun to watch him race every week with a championship-caliber team." Busch signed a multi-year agreement with Hendrick Motorsports in February, winning two ARCA Series races before his 18th birthday. In five starts on the circuit this season, the Las Vegas native has earned two victories, two pole positions and four top-five starts. After becoming eligible for NASCAR competition on May 2, Busch has posted two runner-up finishes and three top-10 qualifying efforts in a trio of Busch Series starts. His second-place effort at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 24 marked one of the best debuts in the tour's history. "This is a great situation for a young driver like myself," Busch said. "It gives me the opportunity to come into the Busch Series full-time with an established team that can compete week in and week out. I can't thank the Hendrick organization enough for giving me the kind of support I need to be successful." After finishing second at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in his most recent Busch Series event, Busch will next compete on the circuit at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Sept. 20, followed by starts at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park on Oct. 18, Atlanta Motor Speedway on Oct. 25 and North Carolina Speedway on Nov. 8. He will also enter two additional ARCA races this season, at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Sept. 27 and Lowe's Motor Speedway on Oct. 9. Hendrick Racing

9/3/03

McMurray tops Lowes testing  NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year contender Jamie McMurray topped the unofficial speed charts in day one of a two-day testing session on Tuesday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.  Last October at this very track, Jamie McMurray went from unknown to history maker, becoming the fastest driver to score their first career Winston Cup victory since 1963, winning the UAW-GM Quality 500 in just his second career start, driving in relief for injured driver Sterling Marlin.  More.... by Pete McCole

9/3/03

More on push-to-pass  UPDATE Another reader responds, How soon we forget. For years, Champ Cars had what what was referred to as the "Candy Button", a "Push to Pass" as it were, with a limited number of "plays" per race. The drivers loved it and so did we fans. Since the engine manufacturers limited the number of "plays" or times the button could be used, it put the powerplant at its highest level of output for a brief moment before it detonated, saving it for the race, yet allowing the driver the added strategic interplay as mandatory pit windows have today. Now that the spec Cosworth has proven its power and reliability, (hard to remember the last time one "let go") it without question has the strength to withstand such an implementation. The sooner the better. Gone will be all complaints of "aero push" and fast cars stuck behind "mobile chicanes" limiting overtaking. With all of the dumbing down and pandering to the lowest common denominator rife in racing these days (common template!) Champ Car could well set itself apart from the rest by regaining this device, creating true high spirited competition unmatched by any other series. As an addendum, I personally don't care what kind of Dog and Pony show CART puts on on Saturday night, as long as it puts fans in the stands, and cars on the track on Sunday. Isn't that what the broadcasters and sponsors want? Having team owners as series owners smacks of the same old nepotism and infighting we've suffered through for the last ten years, but maybe Gentilozzi et al are the right kind of owners, on the same page with one common goal. I don't know for sure, but one thing I do know, if CART folds, there will be no fun in the world left. By the way, I've received two newsletters from California Speedway, both of which have NO mention of CART, Champ Car or when the event will be. A very small one liner refers you to the website hidden near the return address of the letter. Looks like the "Oval Cartel" is fast at work killing the CART 500 and systematically shooting themselves in the foot at the same time. I'll sure miss it. I'm near to a complete boycott of any ISC event no matter how good. Thanks again for the great website and stellar coverage. George N. Ponnay III, Newport Beach CA   9/1/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, I've been listening to the ranting and raving for a push-to-pass button and I can't fathom the idiocy. This idea is like making a video game out of car racing. What next? Lasers to shoot the guy ahead of you out of the way? Random oil slicks appearing on the track? The best way is for Bridgestone to make a softer compound tire that barely lasts the duration of a pit window. That will separate the smooth drivers from the aggressive drivers. Drivers that are hard on their tires will pass cars at the beginning of a stint. The smooth drivers will pass drivers at the end of a stint. Combined with no traction control, this appears to be the best solution. Can that video game idea and come up with an idea for real racing. Terence Fischer, Northfield, New Jersey.  Dear Terence, I've listened to all those arguments about how the push-to-pass button may be artificial and I offer these thoughts for you to consider - 1) Champ Car drivers had a push-to-pass button for years yet none of the fans came forward to complain.  Now all of a sudden because this idea involves a bit more HP so the driver can actually make the pass, some folks are coming out of the woodwork up in arms. The fact of the matter is that parades have fans running for the exit door and the TV channel changer. 2) If you bothered to watch lap times yesterday you would have seen some drivers running over a second faster than the guy in front of him, sometimes two seconds, only to get up to his rear wing and follow him all the way to the checkered because he could not pass.  If those drivers had the button, they could have disposed of the moving chicane in front of them and moved forward to the next guy. Instead everyone had to endure another two-hour parade.  3) We must not lose focus of the fact that the real show must be the race, not qualifying.  Today many races are won on Saturday, not Sunday, which does absolutely zero for CART's TV ratings.  Many of the people sitting in the grandstands are NOT hardcore fans such as yourself.  If they don't have something to stand up and cheer about (yes, fans do cheer passing but nod off watching parades) they are not coming back nor watching the next race on TV.  Many times you have just one chance to win over a new customer, and CART isn't going to do that with a follow-the-leader snooze fest. 4) The button, although really nothing new, just a better implementation this time, is no more artificial that a slingshot on an oval.  I don't see fans standing up and booing a slingshot pass because it is artificial, i.e. takes zero driver skill   5) The idea of using softer tires instead would lead to an abundance of tire marbles all over the track, meaning a single groove and zero passing, which is exactly what we don't want. 6) The push-to-pass button will give the driver a limited number of opportunities to pass, and it won't guarantee a pass.  It will add another element of suspense (how many pushes does an opponent have left) and strategy (when and where should a driver use his pushes) to the races. Mark C.

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