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DATE

News (chronologically)

9/22/03

***Reader Opinion***Break out the American flags  This Fordrolet (Ford Cosworth Chevrolet) gift that TG gave to certain teams, particularly Hornish's, is a new high in hypocrisy and dishonesty from an outfit that already has cornered the market on bullshit. Surprise! The IRL Poster-Boy makes a late run at the title!  News Flash!  Ex-CART-ladder-series Toyota-bound American Chosen One Wins with British-built Ford-called-Chevrolet in Italian chassis! Break out the American flags! Paint this as how TG fixed open-wheel racing, and fulfilled his "vision." What a crock of cr%#. And you can quote me on this. Respectfully, Dean Abramson, Raymond ME  Dear Dean, You must understand the IRL model of managed racing, similar to NASCAR.  Mediocrity is rewarded if you whine enough.  No one is allowed to gain an advantage through sheer skill and determination, because the show is more important than the sport, and it's unsporting to gain a technical advantage because you happen to work smarter or have more talented people.  And you wonder why Europeans look down their noses at American racing and why the most technically advanced country in the world can't even dream of producing a winning F1 car, driver or team?  Their cars are light years ahead of the USA's, and that goes for street cars as well as race cars.   Mark C.

9/22/03

Two key issues for USGP   SPEED Channel Formula One analyst Steve Matchett, a former F1 mechanic, offers his take on the top three stories heading into this weekend's United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. SPEED Channel's coverage of the USGP begins Friday at noon ET with LIVE coverage of qualifying from the Brickyard. LIVE qualifying coverage continues Saturday at 9 a.m. ET and 1:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive race coverage beginning Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET. From Matchett:

1) The top story must be the possibility of Michael Schumacher securing his sixth Drivers' World Championship. I think he can do this if he wins in Indy and Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen fail to score any points in the race. No one has won six titles; this will be HUGE in the history of the sport (Formula One's first season was 1950). Juan Manuel Fangio has five titles, all secured in the 1950s; for years this looked utterly unbeatable, especially after Alain Prost called it a day (end of 1993) with four titles under his belt. Michael's first drivers' crown was won in 1994 (with Benetton).

2) The FIA is insisting that team orders are absolutely forbidden, and any team found guilty of using team orders to help their No. 1 driver to a better result will be heavily punished. The problem is how does the FIA police such a rule? How do they prove that a team has employed team orders? There are a hundred ways to force one car to give up its position to another without blatantly pulling over (Ferrari, Austria 2002). It will be most interesting to see if and how the teams will try to outsmart the FIA: a late, unscheduled pit stop perhaps? * * After the great Michelin tire argument (over tread width), it will be interesting to see how well the new, narrower Michelin tires work at the Indy track. They seemed pretty good at Monza, but that track is all about straight-line speed. Indy's infield is far more demanding on tires. No testing at the track prior to the teams arriving in the US for the event, of course, so Michelin has had to build their latest tires without the advantage of actually running them in test sessions at the track and making any modifications afterward. Potentially, this situation could give Bridgestone (Ferrari) a big advantage.

9/22/03

Ralf expects to race at USGP   BMW WilliamsF1 driver Ralf Schumacher has recovered from a testing accident at Monza and expects to race in the U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis on Sunday. "It looks good. I'm assuming I can race in Indianapolis," Schumacher told the AP Monday. "The competition is so tight that the form you're in that day may determine who will win," Schumacher said. "We want to be fresh when we show up in Indianapolis on Wednesday or Thursday."

9/22/03

Tickets on sale for 30th year at Long Beach  It was a different world on Sept. 28, 1975 when the first Long Beach Grand Prix roared through downtown Long Beach. Gerald Ford was President. A first class stamp was 10 cents. “Saturday Night Live” made its debut on NBC. And “Jaws” was scaring millions in movie theaters. One thing, however, has not changed: The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is still America's premier street race.

And, tickets for the gala 30th Anniversary celebration of Southern California's Official Spring Brake, April 16-18, 2004, are now on sale. The 2004 Grand Prix will again feature the cars and stars of the CART Champ Car World Series, expected to be led by two-time Long Beach winner Paul Tracy, ’96 winner and series champion Jimmy Vasser and Bruno Junqueira. “Our 30th anniversary race weekend will be a celebration of everything that has made this event the ‘crown jewel’ of open-wheel racing in the West and an indelible part of the sports landscape in Southern California,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “We expect to make some exciting announcements in the near future that will ensure 2004 as the best Grand Prix weekend yet.”

Also scheduled for the action-packed weekend is the always-entertaining Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, now in its 28th year, as well as the Toyota Atlantic Championship showcasing young driving talent. There will be additional races announced in the coming weeks. As always, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will feature much more than top-notch racing. There will once again be a variety of family-oriented activities throughout the weekend, including the Automobile Club of Southern California Lifestyle Expo, free to all race ticket holders. Every year the Lifestyle Expo features the latest high-tech products and services, racecars, games, and simulators. For the younger crowd, extreme sports demonstrations will return, as will the Kids' Fun Zone.

After the races on Friday and Saturday nights, racegoers can enjoy the immensely popular Rock-N-Roar concerts, which have featured internationally known acts like Third Eye Blind, the Gin Blossoms and the Goo Goo Dolls in the past. For the fifth consecutive year, the 1.97-mile, 11-turn race circuit configuration on the downtown streets of Long Beach surrounding the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center is unchanged.

Nineteen grandstands line the circuit, which include reserved seats, limited general admission seats and seating for various club ticket packages. Ticket prices for the three-day event range from $30 for a Friday/Saturday general admission ticket to $110 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seating in upper levels of the grandstands. Pre-paid parking packages are available and can be purchased when ordering tickets through the Grand Prix ticket office. Credit card orders for the 2004 event can be placed by calling the ticket hotline toll-free at (888) 82-SPEED. A ticket brochure for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach can also be obtained by calling the ticket hotline.

The ticket brochure includes a circuit map with grandstand and parking locations as well as ticket prices and a ticket order form. Handicapped seating, Bosch CART Garage passes, super photo tickets and several hospitality club packages are also available. For updated Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach ticket information, news or announcements of special race week activities, visit www.longbeachgp.com.

9/22/03

Penske hopes for CART/IRL merger  This Indy Star article says, While Roger Penske is pleased that buyers have come forward to at least temporarily save Championship Auto Racing Teams, a series he co-founded in 1979, the IRL team owner remains firm in his belief that open-wheel racing needs to be housed under one roof. "I think CART is going to be in much better shape with the buyout. Time will tell," said Penske, who switched allegiances two years ago. "If the business people from CART can sit down with the business people from the IRL, maybe the opportunity is there to bring the two sides together.  I'm not going to be the one to make that happen, but I'll be a benefactor if it does."  The same article goes on to say that 47,000 fans attended the IRL race in Fontana.  Well if that's the case, 50% of the seats would have been full.  Examine these photos and you be the judge:

http://www.day120.com/fontana03/irl03sun/pages/DSCF0380.htm
http://www.autoracing1.com/images/2003/IRL/fontana/crowd3.jpg
http://www.autoracing1.com/images/2003/IRL/fontana/crowd4.jpg

First photo by Bob Heathcote, 2nd & 3rd by Ron McQueeney/IMS

9/22/03

Miami on CBS - 22 states live  This won't produce stellar TV ratings, but The September 26-28 Grand Prix Americas Presented by Sportsbook.com is part of the seven-race CBS broadcast schedule for this year's Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, and CBS will provide both live and tape-delayed coverage to Champ Car fans while working around its Sunday National Football League schedule.

CBS will show the Champ Car race live, beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, to 85 of its markets, including such major U.S. cities as Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Portland. In all, Twenty-two states will have live coverage of Sunday's battle for the Vanderbilt Cup that will take place on the streets of Miami, Florida, while others will see a 90-minute taped version of the race set to begin at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

Those planning to see Sunday's race can log on to the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcarworldseries.com and follow the links for a complete state-by-state, market-by-market breakdown of the CBS coverage plans. For more information, contact CART Communications at 317-715-4100.

9/22/03

NASCAR unveils Nextel Cup logo   NASCAR today unveiled the official logo for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series that will begin in 2004.

Sporting a bold yellow-and-black look, the distinctive logo will be the brand identifier for the nation’s most popular form of motorsports and the nation’s second-most popular sport overall.

“We think this design will be appealing to our drivers, team members, tracks and, of course, our fans,” NASCAR President Mike Helton said.

The new logo will be utilized beginning in January, when NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams come to Daytona International Speedway for NASCAR Preseason Thunder, the annual test sessions leading up to the season-opening Daytona 500.

“We’ve worked with NASCAR to create a logo and identity that exudes the strength of the athletes and the power of the sport,” said Nextel Senior Vice President of Marketing Mark Schweitzer. “Since announcing the 10-year partnership between NASCAR and Nextel, one of the most-asked questions we’ve received has been about the logo. It’s bright, bold and forward moving – just like the sport it represents.”

Nextel Communications and NASCAR signed a 10-year title-sponsor agreement in June. Nextel, a Fortune 300 company based in Reston, Va., is a leading provider of fully integrated wireless communications services and has built the largest guaranteed all-digital wireless network in the country covering thousands of communities across the United States. Nextel and Nextel Partners, Inc. currently serve 293 of the top 300 U.S. markets. Through recent market launches, Nextel and Nextel Partners service is available today in areas of the U.S. where approximately 242 million people live or work. NASCAR Press Release

9/22/03

Dover gets 3.9 overnight   The Winston Cup race from Dover on NBC checked in with a 3.9 overnight rating (8 share), according to Nielsen Media Research. The Discover Card Countdown to Green pre-race show had overnights of 2.5/6 (figures reported in Sports Business Daily). Last year's race was on TNT, so there are no corresponding year-to-year overnight numbers. However, the closest corresponding overnight number was last year's slightly rain-delayed New Hampshire race on NBC, held one week earlier, which had a 3.1 overnight. The Kansas race, held one week later than Dover on NBC in 2002, had a 3.9 overnight. So, NASCAR should be very happy with a 3.9 overnight this year.  MotorsportsTV.com

9/22/03

IRL overnight TV rating tanks at 0.7  The Indy Racing League contest from California on ABC garnered overnights of a 0.7 rating and 2 share, according to Nielsen Media Research, as reported in Sports Business Daily. It was the lowest-rated sporting event of the weekend, with the 1.3 turned in by the Women's World Cup as the next event in line.  MotorsportsTV.com.  [Editor's Note: Like we said, all the hype in the world about close racing, and all the star drivers and manufacturers won't get people tuned in to Indy Car racing.  The split has turned off the Indy Car fans and we doubt they are coming back.  We could be looking at a 0.5 or 0.6 final rating, which for network TV is not good and may send sponsors scurrying for the door.  If they were holding steady or rising, there would be some hope, but the plunge in ratings is not good.  Would a CART and the IRL merger solve the problem?  Somewhat, but all indications are that's not going to happen because one side doesn't want it.]

9/22/03

Jenson Button & David Richards teleconference   On Friday F1 driver Jenson Button and BAR team boss David Richards participated in a pre-USGP media teleconference.  Here is the transcript

9/22/03

***Reader Opinion***Pull the plug  A reader writes, Dear AR1, I watched with amazement at the IRL debacle from California Speedway. One year after the worst attendance for any major sporting event in recent history, the IRL once again had a meager showing. Not only was the race a total bore, but looking at the stands it proves the point that even with Toyota, Honda, Penske, Andretti, Ganassi, Al Unser Jr. etc, etc, "NOBODY CARES".  Toyota and Marlboro gave away free tickets and heavily marketed the race, and this was the result. In a metropolis of over 10 million people, less than 20,000 people bothered to show up. Some dirt tracks on a Saturday night pull that many.  Eight years on Tony George and you have the sponsors, you have the drivers, you have the manufacturers and you have the INDY 500, but you do not, and will never have the hearts & minds of the race fans.  Eight years on and your vision has failed and it's time to pull the plug. The sponsors, the manufacturers, the venues, the drivers and most importantly the fans beg you.  PULL THE PLUG.....Charles Napier, Las Vegas, NV  Dear Charles, Although their TV ratings have tanked below infomercial levels, their race attendance has held somewhat steady, and in the case of Fontana, actually went up significantly.  Whether this was from fans buying tickets on their own, or from massive ticket giveaways we don't know, but based on the TV ratings tanking, it would appear the latter because the freebies are not hardcore fans and don't bother to tune into the TV broadcasts week in and week out.  Sometimes we wonder if they realize the irreparable damage the split has done to the sport.  Mark C.

9/22/03

***Reader Opinion***Stunned at Hornish's power  UPDATE Another reader writes, Concerning the 'Hornish Power' item.... during the race broadcast, I heard Paul Page and Scott Goodyear talking about an 'engine setting' that required 'manufacturer approval' before they were allowed to use it, as well as some of the cars having an 'overtake button' on the steering wheel [What a push-to-pass button?  Something CART needs desperately, but one that "really" works]... and they made the point that the two are separate systems. Might be interesting to look into this... if you were going to give someone 'the call,' having the means to execute it built right into the engine software would be the way, and might explain Hornish's ability to pass at will. Fred Peters  Dear Fred, While there are always conspiracy theories out there, it's possible Hornish has some new advances in their Cosworth Chevy that the other Chevy's don't have yet.  Whatever it is, they are significant.  Mark C.   9/21/03 - A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com,  I watched half of the IRL race today, and was just simply stunned (Stunned!) at Hornish's ability to pass cars at will. It was as if he had some sort of turbo boost or special rocket fuel in his car. Why has nobody else on the grid noticed this? Bill Thomas, Plainfield, IL  Dear Bill, It does appear at times that Mr. Hornish has something extra under the bonnet, but our hats off to Ford Cosworth for producing an engine for Chevy that appears to be the measure of Toyota and Honda.  What seems strange though is the fact that no other Chevy teams are even close.  Panther Racing fields a good car, and Hornish is an excellent oval track driver.  On a track where the telemetry showed most drivers were running 100% throttle all the way around and where HP is just about everything,  the Panther/Hornish/Cosworth Chevy combination is almost unbeatable. Mark C.

9/22/03

Ford Dealers to play key role in Miami race  Ford has been a major component of this season's Champ Car World Series, providing marketing muscle as well as Ford-Cosworth power to the turbocharged engines of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford.

The Ford dealers have gotten in step with the program as well in many markets and Miami will be no exception as the Miami 9 Ford Dealers have banded together to provide sponsorship as the official vehicle for the upcoming Grand Prix Americas Presented by Sportsbook.com September 26-28.

The Ford Dealers will provide fans with a chance to meet a number of the drivers of the Champ Car World Series in Miami by conducting the Miami 9 Ford Dealers Champ Car Night at Coconut Grove. The street party, which will take place Thursday, September 25 at the Commodore Plaza in Coconut Grove located between Main Highway & Grand Avenue, will include live music, Champ Car & ALMS driver autographs, interviews and Q&A sessions, show cars, featuring the Ford GT, chances to win a pace car ride as well as tickets and other merchandise.

"This sponsorship shows the deep commitment that Ford has in South Florida. Ford and Miami 9 Ford Dealers are proud of the success that we have had through our other South Florida programs, such as Salute to Education and the Ford Championship at Doral," said Ford Division Orlando Regional Sales Office Regional Manager Jack Bennett. "We are excited to partner with Champ Car for what is sure to be another successful event."

The Miami 9 Ford Dealers will also be conducting show-car appearances along with Champ Car driver appearances at various dealerships in and around the South Florida area in the week leading to the race. They will also be giving out vouchers for free Friday tickets to attend the Grand Prix Americas Presented by Sportsbook.com, where first-round qualifying will take place for the Champ Cars. Ford will also sponsor Monday's Fast Lap pace-car day featuring two of the stars of CSI: Miami and two of the drivers of the Champ Car World Series.

"The Miami 9 Ford Dealers are proud to be part of the Grand Prix Americas as the Official Vehicle sponsor," said Miami 9 Ford Dealer Group Chairman Chris Gonzalez. "This is a great opportunity for South Floridians to experience the excitement of Ford, the power behind Champ Car and complete product line-up, including The Next F-150, the Mustang COBRA and the SVT Focus."

9/22/03

Dodge Motorsports Director finishes 2nd   John Fernandez, Director of Dodge Motorsports (pictured on left in photo), raced to a second place finish in the Showroom Stock SSC class race at the SCCA National Championship Valvoline Runoffs at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, on Friday.

Fernandez held the class's fastest qualifying time (1:48.153) through the first two days of time-trials, but was bumped to second on the third and final day of qualifying for the Valvoline Runoffs on Wednesday.

Residue of Hurricane Isabel kept race conditions damp and windy for Friday's 20-lap event, but Fernandez battled to a runner-up finish while running in the top-three throughout the course of the race. He dropped from second to third by lap four of the race but was able to re-claim second place on his 11th lap around the 11-turn road course. Fernandez also posted the fastest lap of the day (1:50.053) en-route to his second-place run.

"My car was a little better in the wet," Fernandez said. "Tom Long was able to get around me and as we battled Mike Kramer got away. The track was drying and it was very tricky driving."

Mike Kramer, of Franklin, Tenn., led from flag-to-flag to earn his first ever Runoffs Championship.

9/22/03

Miami streets offer challenges for ALMS driver   The temporary street racing circuit that will host Miami's Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com creates unique challenges to drivers and race teams in the American Le Mans Series.

The 1.3-mile circuit will bring the Downtown area of Miami alive with the sounds of racing cars the weekend of Sept. 26-28, with the sports cars of the American Le Mans Series to hold a two-hour, 45-minute timed event at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27.

The track, which includes portions of Biscayne Boulevard, Bayfront Park and other Miami city streets, has 13 turns. Most of the turns are to the left, while a few are to the right. The turn 10-11 combination is a tight, low-speed "hairpin" at the north end of the circuit that connects the north and southbound lanes of Biscayne Boulevard, normally separated by a median. The pit area is set up further south, between the two lanes of Biscayne.

Last year's event, which brought street circuit racing back to Miami after an absence of six years, was run on a course slightly different than the course that will be used for this year's event. Due to construction in the Miami downtown, a section that was at the south end of the circuit last year has been eliminated, but, to compensate, event organizers added more race track at the north end.

It is a tight, narrow and challenging circuit, the smallest that the American Le Mans Series races on in 2003 and one of only two "street" circuits on the schedule. The other is at Trois-Rivières, Quebec, in Canada.

"The spectators will definitely see an interesting race because the track is so narrow and short," said Frank Biela, a three-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the overall winner of last year's inaugural Miami race. The German driver pilots the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 Prototype with co-driver Marco Werner. "Between the concrete walls, the smallest mistake inevitably leads to retirement (from the event), which is something we cannot afford."

Ron Fellows, who will co-drive a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R in the GTS class with Johnny O'Connell, will also be seeking to repeat his Miami win from last year. "Street circuits are a little different," said the popular Canadian driver. "It tends to be a little more rubbing and bumping just because there's not a whole lot of room on a street circuit and you've got to be a little careful. There's absolutely no room for error. You're talking about a track surrounded by concrete walls.

"A lot of getting the car to work is mechanical grip," he said. "The downforce the car makes on a street circuit is pretty minimal. A lot of it is a balance between the springs in the car, sway bars, and we've got some choices in tires with Goodyear and they've done a pretty good job for us, certainly with street circuits. We look at how things went at Trois-Rivières (where the Corvette team swept the top two spots in GTS) and we're pretty confident."

"This year, the track is different, which makes it new for everyone again," said Brad Kettler, Technical Director for ADT Champion Racing, which fields an Audi R8 for drivers JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert. "I think tire choice will be extremely critical. Teams that can quickly find the optimum race setup should prevail although on such a tight circuit, luck will play an important role."

In addition to the race, American Le Mans Series competitors enjoyed their visit to Miami last year, with most choosing to spend some extra time in one of America's most cosmopolitan and exciting cities.

"We're all looking forward to Miami," said Biela. "The atmosphere is awesome and racing on street circuits is something special."

"Being in Downtown Miami is obviously a great spot," said Fellows. "Hot weather, and a really challenging street circuit. We have very fond memories."

The sports cars of the American Le Mans Series and the Champ Cars of CART will share the billing in a unique "dual headline" event being called "The Blast by the Bay." Many fan-oriented activities will take place around the event weekend, including a Fan Fest at Bayside Marketplace on the evening of Sept. 24 and a street festival in the Coconut Grove section of Miami on the evening of Sept. 25. Music star Elton John will perform a concert on Saturday night after the ALMS race at nearby American Airlines Arena. ALMS drivers will hold an autograph session at the racing circuit at 11 a.m. on race day.

Events for the MotoRock Trans-Am Tour and CART Toyota Atlantics will also be part of the weekend in Miami.

The ALMS race will be televised live by the SPEED Channel and broadcast online by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web at www.americanlemans.com. Event ticket information is available online at www.miamirace.com or by calling 1-888-248-7223.

9/22/03

Did you know?  Did you know that one reason CART lost so much money on last year's Brands Hatch race was the need to install new fencing, barriers, paving runoff areas, temporary grandstands, etc.  To make matters worse, the paved runoff areas had to go back to gravel for the World Superbike weekend.  This will be a continual expense as long as both CART and the bikes run at Brands. Too bad though because the sunk barrier and fencing costs are lost if CART never returns as rumors suggest. Attendance was good, but not good enough to cover all the expense.

9/22/03

Cody Unser to pilot victory lap truck  Struck suddenly with Transverse Myelitis and bound to a wheelchair, Cody Unser has been the epitome of fortitude after being diagnosed with the condition at the age of 12.

The daughter of former CART champion Al Unser Jr. and sister to current Barber Dodge Pro Series racer Albert Unser, Cody has used her circumstances to help raise awareness among researchers that are pursuing a cure for the condition - including the formation of the Cody Unser First Step Foundation.

The 16-year-old, who lives in Albuquerque with her mother Shelley, has accomplished many things since the onset of the condition including becoming a certified SCUBA diver, and will add one more thing to her growing list as she will drive one of the Ford trucks on the ceremonial victory lap at the conclusion of the September 28 Grand Prix Americas Presented by Sportsbook.com.

"Born an Unser, apparently we're bred with the 'need for speed' gene. I traveled with my brother to many of his races this season, and this is where I became convinced I could drive on a track too - especially after seeing Alex Zanardi drive a Champ Car in Germany this year," Cody said. "The fact that this is taking place in Miami, where I've learned from a great team at The Miami Project on overcoming mobility challenges, involving friends like Emerson Fittipaldi (Honorary Co-Chair of the Grand Prix Americas Foundation), friends that I have grown up with in a racing family, well, it makes this very special. I can't thank CART, Ford Motor Company, and its Mobility Motoring Division, enough for this opportunity."

Unser will pilot a truck fitted with her own hand controls and will carry the three top finishers in the Champ Car World Series event on a victory lap at the end of the 135-lap race. She will ride with former racer and series Chief Steward Wally Dallenbach, who will take time during the week to help Unser become familiar with the truck as well as the 1.15-mile Miami street circuit.

"It's a great opportunity from a perspective that anyone can overcome their obstacles and get out on the track," said Ford Mobility Segment Specialist Anna Zevalkink. "Cody is a great ambassador and we are pleased to be able to work with her and help display her remarkable spirit."

For more information, contact CART Communications at (317) 715-4100. For more information on the Cody Unser First Step Foundation go to the foundation website, codysfirststep.org, or call (505) 890-0086. CART

9/22/03
Industry News

CART isn't only American sport losing money   CART isn't the only American sports property bleeding red ink.  The National Hockey League is in the midst of a financial crisis after declaring record losses of close to $300million for last season. According to figures distributed to owners this summer, the record losses posted by the NHL teams was an increase of 35 percent from the $218m in operating losses incurred by the league last year. The losses are blamed on soaring player salaries and the lack of a salary cap, without which the NHL spent 76 percent of $1.93billion in revenue on players salaries and benefits. Commented Bill Daly, the NHL's chief legal officer: "This is a level at which no business can survive. The league will lose teams and players will lose jobs if we can't fix this."  Sporstbusiness.com

9/22/03

Stop-smoking sponsor extends further into F1   Stop-smoking aid, NiQuitin CQ has extended its involvement in Formula One by sponsoring coverage of UK commercial station talkSPORT's remaining coverage of the season. The brand is already a major sponsor of the BMW Williams F1 team. Janine Edwards, senior planner on GSK at Mediacom, said: "The talkSPORT sponsorship has enabled us to reach a whole new segment of consumers and given us an additional starting block to cement the relationship between Formula 1 and NiQuitin CQ."

9/22/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items  

Ferrari Making Life Difficult: Head
Ralf Will Move Over, Williams Insists
Richards Recoils On Shoot-Out Plan
Schu: No Thoughts Of Early Bath
Jordan To Lose Key F1 Sponsor
On The Button For Indy F1 Race
Montoya: A Whiz Under Braking
Get Ready For A Surprise: Williams Chief
Firman Keyed Up For Racing Return
Ferrari Stuck Middle Finger Up: Bernie
FIA Confiscate Set Of Bridgestones
F1 News In Brief: Monday
Jordan: Firman Out, McNish In?
Backmarker Fears Fall Of Ecclestone
JV Expects Indianapolis Struggle
Webber's In Schu's League: Jaguar Chief
Ralf Vows To 'Be More Careful' At Indy
Burti Shoots-It-Out For F1 Revival?

9/21/03

***Reader Opinion***The state of American racing  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I'm writing to express my concern about the state of American racing in general...not just American Open Wheel Racing. We all know how popular and successful NASCAR is...unfortunately, they have set a precedent where the show is more important than the racing. A precedent where technology is evil in all its forms, and where mediocrity is rewarded if you whine enough.

It's this model that has me worried about the state of racing in this country. We have seen this take hold in the IRL...where the cars are so underpowered and so over downforced that they have no choice but to give a show. But is it racing? We've seen Chevy whine long and hard enough that they were rewarded with a new engine...and for their mediocrity...they are rewarded with Sam Hornish being right in the middle of the title chase with only one race remaining.

Now that attitude is pervading road racing with the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype. The cars are so technically restricted and regressive that to call them a "prototype" is an affront to the likes of the GT40 or the great Porsche 956/962. A series for constructors and privateers who can't compete in ALMS. It only reinforces the idea that Americans can't compete on the track with the Europeans and further makes us the laughing stock of the motorsports world.

Is there hope for us as a motorsports nation? CART's future is uncertain at best. The news from ALMS is shaky (Prodrive is rumored to be out...and Alex Job is considering Grand-Am), especially with the new LeMans Endurance Series...there's no incentive for teams to compete in ALMS. Are we doomed to be the backwoods of the motorsports world?

I hope not. Until then....let's hope CART finds it feet, and ALMS can revamp sportscar racing what it truly is...not a glorified Pro-Am Club Event.  Joe Angers III, Ayer, MA 

Dear Joe, The points you make are exactly why America hasn't been able to produce any World Driving Champions since Mario Andretti in 1978, and America is a large country with a lot of people and race car drivers. It's unfortunate that American motorsports is dominated by the show comes first mentality.  CART has the opportunity to be North America's F1, but it's in a pretty weakened state right now and in cost-cutting mode, hence not able to capitalize on the opportunity.  CART's 'dumbed down' competition in the USA is forcing it to reduce costs to compete, and it's all just a vicious and unfortunate circle. In the early 90s CART was a strong vibrant, technically challenging series,  that had Bernie Ecclestone very worried, so worried he would criticize it almost weekly.  Now that the threat from CART is gone, and F1 the lone "king" in the world, Bernie must be happy, because his criticism has stopped. Mark C.

9/21/03

***Reader Opinion***Fan thanks Toyota for free ticket  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, It was 10:00 a.m. in Fontana, California, two hours before race time this morning.  I was getting off the 10 Interstate freeway.  I got off on Cherry Avenue and it took me 10 minutes to get to my parking spot at California Speedway.   As I walk to the garage area I see more people than I saw last year, but as I recall getting in and out of this place the first year it took me 3 hours to get to the freeway after the "CART" race.  After all the "GIVEAWAYS" from the "BRIGHT" marketing minds at Target, Marlboro, Pioneer, Panasonic, Honda, Toyota. etc, etc. I'm reading 18,000 people show up for what in Mr. Tony George's mind is supposed to be the "NEXT" biggest thing in racing. I was at Cal Speedway for the "NASCAR" race and I tell you this: there were more people in the infield for "NASCAR" back in April 2003 than there was today in the entire place! May GOD and the NASCAR fans that go to the Brickyard 400 give Mr. Tony George the money that he needs to get his "IRL" fiasco going!  I saw David Coulthard during the pre-race ceremonies and had a chance to get a picture taken with him as well as getting his autograph. After this I went back home when the race was 10 laps old, I had seen enough!   I'd like to thank "TOYOTA" for giving me a free ticket to a race where I had the chance to meet Mr. Coulthard!  Is this a Great Country or what!  Marta Campos, Los Angeles, California.

9/21/03

30% of IRL ticket holders don't show up for race  Slightly over 40,000 tickets were sold for today's Toyota Indy 400 at California Speedway according to the word in the media center.  The crowd in attendance today was conservatively estimated at 28,000, meaning about 30% of those holding tickets didn't bother to even show up for the race!  Still it was far better than the 10,000 who showed up for the first IRL race in Fontana, a significant improvement on a hot day in Fontana.

9/21/03

Nemechek crash damages Dover wall    Joe Nemechek's savage crash early in the MBNA America 400 damaged a portion of the outside wall in Turn 1 at Dover International Speedway. Joe Nemechek escapes from his burning car Sunday at Dover. Nemechek's No. 25 exploded a tire as it sailed into Turn 1, the fastest portion of the track. Nemechek had no control of his car as it slammed the wall, shearing the right-side sheet metal off the car as it slid against the outside wall. Nemechek crawled out and was OK, but the wall wasn't. The wall is made of boiler-plate steel, and the impact cracked a portion of the steel. After inspecting the damage, workers began welding the crack back together. Cars circulated around the track under yellow as crews worked on the outside wall. NASCAR did not display the red flag, and it took 27 laps to fix the damage. Several cars came back down pit road to top off their fuel tanks. Before Nemechek's battered car came to rest, it briefly caught fire. But Nemechek was fine.  NASCAR.com

9/21/03
Super Fund World Series by Nissan

Leinders and Montagny each win at Austrian A1 Ring  Two race of round six of the 2003 World Series by Nissan was run today in Zandvoort, Holland. In the first race of the day Bas Leinders was celebrating his first and long waited for victory in the 2003 season. Racing Engineering’s dominance in race one was underlined by Stephane Sarrazin’s second place.

After this very successful day Bas Leinders stated, “We have worked very hard and today I had an almost perfect car. I think it is hardly possible to have a better car. I was third in the drivers championship last season and I am going for second this year. Concerning the rumors occurring in Spain that I would not finish the season I would like to say that I will not quit this championship and am also thinking about participating in the World Series in 2004.”

Stephane Sarrazin, a bit disappointed, said, “For the second race we tried something very different from race one. It was not a good choice and I lost a lot. But when you are starting sixth you have to take a risk. In general the weekend didn’t go so well for me. We lost in performance and I never had a very good feeling with the car. In race one at least I had a good result.”

Championship leader Franck Montagny could only manage one victory today (race 2) after jumping the start in the first race. Montagny leads the championship by a huge 107 points with three race meetings left.

9/21/03

Three pole limit at Dega    Beginning with next weekend's race at Talladega, Ala., NASCAR will limit the use of poles in the pit area. The following poles will be permitted: an overhead camera, the sign board, a brush, a pole used to clean the windshield, and one used to service the driver. NASCAR announced the change in Sunday's pre-race driver meeting at Dover International Speedway. Poles with hooks, which have been used by team members to help collect and keep track of tires after they are changed, will not be allowed. ThatsRacin.com

9/21/03

Status of lease on land for Daytona Speedway questioned    In four years, the public could own the Daytona International Speedway. And if that doesn't happen, there's a chance the International Speedway Corp. will be paying considerably more to use the place.  It all hinges on Nov. 8, 2007, when the Speedway's original 50-year lease expires.  On that date, 443 acres of publicly owned land and everything on it -- grandstands, offices, garages and public exhibition space -- will revert to public control unless the Speedway agrees to a new lease, according to a recently discovered memo by Thomas T. Cobb, the attorney who negotiated the deal to build the track a half century ago.  Cobb, longtime attorney for the five-member commission that regulates use of the property, wrote the memo in May 1994 to help the commission begin new lease negotiations. Under a new lease, the Speedway could wind up paying far more than the $10,000 a year rent it currently pays under what Cobb called a "sweetheart" deal negotiated in 1957.  More...

9/21/03

Satellite image of Monza   On Sunday, 14th September 2003, European Space Imaging collected a high-resolution IKONOS satellite image of the Formula 1 racing course in Monza, Italy. The image was taken from 680 km altitude at 12.24 noon local time, shortly before the start of the Italian Grand Prix race (Click here to download the image). (Click here to explore the image).

The image shows the Motodromo di Monza which is located just north of the city of Monza. The 5.77 km long race course is clearly visible, including the stands crowded with spectators and the helicopter parking for the VIPs. With its sub-meter resolution, IKONOS can identify objects which are about 1m in size.

By providing you this image, European Space Imaging is demonstrating one of the main benefits to imagery users in Europe, namely local satellite control as well as quick data distribution. The company included the collection of the Formula 1 racetrack in Monza in last Sunday’s collection schedule just minutes before the satellite passed Northern Italy. In Europe the capabilities of direct high-resolution satellite tasking, data reception and immediate processing are unique to European Space Imaging and the IKONOS satellite.

9/21/03
German DTM

Albers & Schneider 1-2 for Mercedes at Zandvoort Sunday 

1. Christijan Albers (Mercedes) 36 laps in 59:40.840 min.
2. Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) + 5.337 s.
3. Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 14.478 s.
4. Manuel Reuter (Opel) + 14.975 s.
5. Jean Alesi (Mercedes) + 15.368 s.
6. Marcel Fässler (Mercedes) + 24.230 s.
7. Jeroen Bleekemolen (Opel) + 27.899 s.
8. Karl Wendlinger (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 32.329 s.
9. Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 9.878 s.

9/21/03

Blocking and team orders not our thing says Frank Williams   Following last Sunday's Italian GP, many people have asked why WilliamsF1 didn't bring team tactics into play and have Marc Gene hold up Michael Schumacher late in the race when he and Montoya came up to lap him.

 

In 1997 Ferrari told race leader Eddie Irvine Irvine to allow teammate Schumacher through while holding up the opposition.

So why didn't the WilliamsF1 team follow Ferrari's example?

"No. No. Not our thing," says team owner Frank Williams in an interview with Richard Rae in the Sunday Times of London. When it's pointed out that Ferrari has used exactly the same ploy, with great effect, he adds: "You'll have to ask them."

"Put it this way," says Williams. "Let's say Ralf is running second and Juan is third, then providing Ralf doesn't put his brakes on in front of the pit straight and wave him through, it's obvious that somewhere down the road Juan may come through ahead.

"Would that offend the public? Not at all," he continues. "Remember, you're talking to a team that has suffered in the past for not ordering its drivers not to race. The public wants to see a straight fight between Michael, Juan and Kimi. They don't want Ralf getting in the way.

"If Ralf stopped Juan winning the title, everyone would murder us," he admits. "It's a question of degree."

With Juan Pablo possibly on the verge of taking a historic, and highly popular, win, how does Williams react to the rumors - thus far unchallenged by any of the parties involved - linking the Colombian with a McLaren drive in 2005 if not sooner?

"Talk is easy," he replies, "we're a long way from anything definite, and some people might be surprised when it's all sorted out. We are in discussion with Ralf about an extension to his contract, but that's an automatic thing. I said at the start of the year that they're a strong pair, and I stick by that.

"Juan has matured," he replies, "he's now a driver who can win championships. He understood early on this year that the gung-ho approach wouldn't work, it was all about the long haul, and the benefits are clear. It showed at Monza. The old Montoya might have gone off trying to chase down Michael; the new Montoya took eight points and stayed in the title race. I believe he can beat Michael."

9/21/03

Ryan Newman Sunday morning MBNA pole interview   Ryan Newman won MBNA's Mid-Race Leader Award en route to his second victory of 2003 earlier this year at Dover. MBNA awarded him a total of $30,000 for the feat. Today, any race-winner who also earns the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award will net a total of $70,000.

"First of all, with the whole weather issue I think some people are happy and some people are upset. Some people want to qualify, and some people don't. We would like to have qualified, especially after getting the pole here in June. But, we can't beat Mother Nature when it comes to getting the pole. We just came in on Friday night, and came here ready for practice on Saturday morning, which is something I've never done. I don't know if any of the guys have ever done that, or if this situation has ever happened before, but we just kind of took it for what it was and went with it. The car was pretty good in both practices, and that's pretty much it.

"This is the same car we had here in the spring. It's also the same car that we won with at Michigan and Chicago, so it's definitely a good car. We've got it repainted with a special paint scheme from Sony on top of our ALLTEL Dodge. It's a different paint scheme, and this is the one race we're doing with Sony. Transcript

9/21/03

Montoya to showcase Champ Car in Colombia   UPDATE AR1 has learned that Bruno Junqueira will also participate and look for a go-kart race with all the drivers as part of the celebration.  9/21/03 - This itv-f1.com article says that Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya and Rubens Barrichello are to head to South America at the end of the season. The two F1 stars will be joined by Dario Franchitti to showcase open-wheel racing in Colombia. Montoya’s appearance could of course turn into an impromptu victory party if he fends off Michael Schumacher for this year’s world championship. The plan is for a demonstration of CART Champ Car in the city of Carthegena. The Colombian would be the first South American to win a world title since the late Ayrton Senna in 1991 and the first non-Brazil champion since Fangio in 1957. Either way the Williams driver’s campaign has been a welcome boost for F1 on the continent. He passed a more personal milestone yesterday as he celebrated his 28th birthday.

9/21/03

Statement from Shawn Parker   "Everyone talks about how the NASCAR community is like a family. I can tell you firsthand that is exactly what this is - family. The last couple weeks have been the most difficult of my life as well as for my family and for Tara's family. The support from the racing community and fans has been overwhelming and comforting. So many people have called, sent cards, emails, flowers - it has just been so humbling. I know a lot of people cared about Tara, and are feeling our loss. On behalf of our families, I want to thank everyone for sharing in our loss and showing their love and support through this very difficult time."   Shawn Parker is the crew chief for Dale Jarrett. Tara Howell Parker, 29, and her two sisters were killed September 10th when the limousine they were in burst into flames in Greensboro, N.C., after being hit from behind by a pickup truck.

9/21/03

The Monarch of Formula One  This Indystar article offers an interesting insight into Bernie Ecclestone's empire and some little known facts about him, such as his qualifying for the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix.  More....

9/21/03

Reliability is the key  This Pitpass.com article says that reliability has been the key for the top F1 teams being in contention for the Championship this year. The fact is that from 28 starts WilliamsF1 have finished 25 times with Ferrari and McLaren on 23 and 21 respectively. When you consider that after qualifying the teams are not allowed to work on the cars - unlike previous seasons - this is remarkable reliability. More . . .

9/21/03

Musgrave wins 3rd straight   Ted Musgrave, his truck rejuvenated by a major suspension change at mid-race, ran down Bud Pole starter Brendan Gaughan with nine laps remaining to win Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series American Racing Wheels 200 at California Speedway.

Musgrave, who also won the race in 2001 and 2002, became the third driver in series history to win three consecutive times at the same track. The driver of the Mopar Performance Dodge, winless since June 21 at Memphis Motorsports Park, recorded his third victory of the season and 13th of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career.

The winning average speed, 145.926 mph, was a California Speedway race record, bettering the 144.260 posted in 2000 by Kurt Busch. The speed also was second fastest in series history.


Photos by Bob Heathcote/AR1

9/20/03

Wallace to start Busch team   Winston Cup driver Rusty Wallace formally announced plans Saturday to begin fielding his own Busch Series next season, which will run Billy Parker in 17 races in the #66 Dodge sponsored by Duraflame. Wallace is constructing a new race shop in Mooresville, N.C., for this team. He formally owned a series team for three years beginning in 1989 with his younger brother Kenny Wallace as the driver. Parker, 26, currently competes in the NASCAR Late Model series at Hickory (NC) Motor Speedway and has made three Busch starts in his career. "This chance to drive a race car for Rusty Wallace is an unbelievable opportunity, and I'm already looking forward to next season," said Parker, brother of Busch series driver Hank Parker Jr. "This year, I raced against Rusty's son, Stephen, at Hickory and we became pretty friendly. One day, Stephen asked me if I wanted to have lunch with his father. Next thing I know, I'm driving a Busch car for Rusty Wallace."  ThatsRacin.com

9/20/03
MotoGP

MotoGP - Rossi wins in Rio  Valentino Rossi dominated today's Rio Grand Prix in Brazil

1. Rossi
2. Gibernau
3. Tamada
4. Biaggi
5. Hayden
6. Capirossi
7. Ukawa
8. Nakano
9. Checa
10. Bayliss
11. Melandri
12. Barros
13. Edwards
14. Haga
15. Kiyonari
16. McWilliams
17. Roberts
18. Pitt
19. de Gea

9/20/03

Taylor leads every lap to clinch title  Mark Taylor led all 50 laps en route to a victory in the California 100. With his victory today, Mark Taylor has clinched the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Championship. Taylor won his seventh Menards Infiniti Pro Series race of the season and the seventh of his career. Both are records for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. “We were hoping today would be the day we would have a result to clinch the championship. We weren’t really thinking about that, we just wanted to win the race. It was just a great car. Panther Racing has given me a great car every time I’ve gone out on the track all year. I was just able to take advantage of it.”    Ed Carpenter finished second. 

1. (1) Mark Taylor, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
2. (2) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
3. (4) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
4. (6) G.J. Mennen, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
5. (10) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
6. (3) Aaron Fike, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
7. (15) Matt Beardsley, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
8. (9) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
9. (7) Cory Witherill, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
10. (11) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 50
11. (8) Brad Pollard, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
12. (13) Taylor Fletcher, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
13. (5) Marty Roth, Dallara-Infiniti, 50
14. (14) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, 49
15. (12) Gary Peterson, Dallara-Infiniti, 9, accident
Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 145.536 mph.
Time of race: 00:41:13.6217.
Margin of victory: 2.5148
Cautions: 1 for 9 laps.
Lead changes: 0
Lap leaders: Taylor 1-50.

9/20/03
Fran-AM

Ranger wins at Mt. Tremblant  Under beautiful weather conditions at Circuit Mont Tremblant, AIM Autosport's 27 Andrew Ranger (CAN) won his fifth race of the 2003 FRAN AM 2000 North American Pro Championship Series. Ranger was able to pass polesitter 50 Juan Martin Ponte (ARG) in the hairpin at the end of the first lap and led the rest of the 16 lap race.

The only caution of the race took place in the second lap when 59 Matt Green (USA), 28 Tim Barber (USA) and 9 Tim Hauraney (CAN) all encountered trouble in Turn 3 resulting in a full-course yellow lasting three laps.

Eurointernational's Ponte was closing the gap on Ranger towards the end of the race and finished second only 6/10ths of a second behind. Sean McIntosh (CAN), driving for this weekend's special guest Speed Secrets and Quantum Autosports, finished third. Robert Bell (GRB) and Mark Wilkins (CAN) round out the top five.

The fastest lap of the race was driven by Ponte with a 1:33.679 over the 2.65 mile track. Twenty of the 24 cars in the race finished on the lead lap.

Ranger's victory extends his points lead over Charles Hall (GRB) to 57 points (293 to 236). Team Firstair's Robert Bell (GRB) is third with 223 points.

The 2003 FRAN AM 2000 North American Pro Series moves to Mexico City for Round 11 in support of CART at the Gran Premio Mexico City on October 12, 2003.

RACE RESULTS
Pos No. Name Country Laps Best Tm Best Spd Total Tm Diff
1 27 Andrew Ranger Canada 16 1:33.872 101.628 30:03.093
2 50 Juan Martin Ponte Argentina 16 1:33.679 101.837 30:03.716 0.623
3 24 Sean McIntosh Canada 16 1:34.575 100.872 30:10.190 7.097
4 7 Robert Bell England 16 1:34.630 100.814 30:10.473 7.380
5 34 Mark Wilkins Canada 16 1:34.586 100.861 30:10.963 7.870
6 11 Charles Hall England 16 1:34.666 100.775 30:11.686 8.593
7 1 Dan McMullen Canada 16 1:34.896 100.531 30:14.687 11.594
8 12 Aurelio Lopez Mexico 16 1:34.809 100.623 30:16.475 13.382
9 2 Kuno Wittmer Canada 16 1:35.816 99.566 30:29.285 26.192
10 4 Marc-Antoine Camirand Canada 16 1:35.892 99.487 30:30.754 27.661
11 88 Daniel Badia USA 16 1:36.044 99.329 30:31.207 28.114
12 22 Nick Bussell USA 16 1:35.546 99.847 30:31.674 28.581
13 8 Dominic Cicero USA 16 1:35.806 99.576 30:32.220 29.127
14 29 Ricardo Imery Venezuela 16 1:35.826 99.555 30:32.599 29.506
15 75 Justin Pruskowski USA 16 1:36.242 99.125 30:34.552 31.459
16 32 Valerie Limoges Canada 16 1:36.080 99.292 30:36.595 33.502
17 3 Antoine Bessette Canada 16 1:36.458 98.903 30:37.233 34.140
18 73 Joe Pruskowski USA 16 1:36.941 98.410 30:44.163 41.070
19 6 Lucas Strackerjan Canada 16 1:37.409 97.938 30:52.338 49.245
20 38 John Knudsen USA 16 1:37.220 98.128 30:53.415 50.322
21 77 Andre Prioste Brazil 2 1:39.239 96.132 3:23.548 --14 Laps--
22 59 Matt Green USA 1 -.--- - 1:45.646 --15 Laps--
23 28 Tim Barber USA 1 -.--- - 1:45.870 0.224
24 9 Tim Hauraney Canada 1 -.--- - 1:51.482 5.836

9/20/03

More comments on racing back to line   NASCAR announced new rules this morning regarding the practice of racing back to the yellow caution flag and entering pit road. Ford driver Mark Martin commented about the changes immediately following the meeting.  More....

9/20/03
Super Fund World Series by Nissan

Leinders on pole at Austrian A1 Ring  Saturday’s qualifying sessions of the sixth round of the 2003 World Series by Nissan had a bit of everything. Racing Engineering’s drivers Bas Leinders (pictured right) and Stéphane Sarrazin were shining in the first qualifying finishing in first and third position, Frenchman Bruce Jouanny came along and took the pole in the later qualifying half-hour.

Championship leader Franck Montagny had to be satisfied with second place on the grid in both sessions, which took place on another sublime day in this never-ending late summer in Europe. However, he's won four of the last six races without starting from pole in any of them.

Carlin driver Narain Karthikeyan from India took third place for the second race after his morning session was written off by a fuel pump failure that will see him start last in tomorrow's first race.  Another Frenchman, Stéphane Sarrazin, will start third in the first encounter.

Montagny could possibly seal the title Sunday.  After his first pole position in the 2003 season Bas Leinders said, “I am very happy to be on the top again. We all worked very hard to achieve this pole position. Now we have to put it into win. In the second qualifying we had a problem with the setup that even resulted in me going off. I came to the pits and my crew repaired the damage so I finished fifth. Still I am also very happy with the fifth position coming from nowhere in the second session.

Stéphane Sarrazin (pictured left) announced, “Compared to yesterday’s performance I am not very happy. Yesterday the car was very fast but today I just couldn’t get any grip. In the first qualifying I had the problem with the clutch and maybe lost pole position. In the second qualifying I just couldn’t make enough laps and at no point I had sufficient grip.”

9/20/03

Taylor to test Panther IRL car  25-year-old British driver Mark Taylor will test for reigning Indy Racing League Champions Panther Racing, at Texas Motor Speedway Wednesday October 1st.   Taylor is presently racing for Panther having dominated the 2003 Infiniti Pro Series.  John Barnes, Panther Racing, chief executive officer, commented: "Mark has had an outstanding season in IPS and his accomplishments really shine when you consider he had never driven an oval race prior to coming to the IPS series.  We have enjoyed working with him this past 10 months. Mark is very talented and I know the guys are anxious to give him some seat-time in the IndyCar."  "It's great to have the opportunity to drive the car," added Taylor, "I am hoping to get as much experience in the car as possible, this is the reason why I came into the IPS in the first place and I'm sure the extra power will be something to experience."  Gil de Ferran continued: "Mark has been doing an amazing job. He won his very first oval race, and let me tell you, that's very, very difficult! And not only is he showing great 'speed', but he has showed very good 'race craft' and great 'maturity' behind the wheel."

9/20/03

France Brothers on Fortune 400 list  UPDATE John Menard, ranked 47 at $3.5 billion with home improvement stores. Roger Penske was not listed.  9/19/03 - Brothers James C. France and William C. France, Jr., who run NASCAR, are tied at 195 in Forbes 400 list of wealthy Americans. Each is worth $1.2 billion. They are the only ones who made the list where “auto racing” was listed as the source. The cutoff this year for the list is $600 million. In 2002 they were listed at 209 and were worth $1 billion each.  Forbes

9/20/03

Purnell rates Webber on par with Schumacher  Tony Purnell, Ford's CEO of the Premiere Performance Division, thinks Jaguar driver Mark Webber is in the same league as five-time champion Michael Schumacher. "I thought he was a pretty good racing driver at the beginning of the year and I guess a lot of punters would have said 'that's an interesting choice, I wonder how he'll get on'," Purnell told the Jaguar website.

"At the start of the season I myself thought 'he's not quite top flight yet but I like the way he approaches his job, let's see how he goes in testing'. Now I think, 'blimey this bloke is good!'"

"I'm very surprised that people aren't talking about him in even more complimentary terms than they already are because I see him in the Michael Schumacher league," Purnell said. "I've spent some time with Michael and have some good friends at Ferrari. Michael is a brilliant driver and seems to deliver on demand and I see exactly the same in what Mark does."

9/20/03

Villeneuve completes massive week of testing for BAR  BAR Honda driver Jacques Villeneuve completed his final test day at Jerez on Friday, expressing pleasure in the outcome.  "Unfortunately we have had a very difficult test this week,” he said afterwards. “Conditions weren't great at the track and we had a lot of mechanical problems and a lot of downtime on my first day which restricted our progress. In addition to tire work, we also worked with the new Honda engine on the first day, which was promising, but we did not get much running in. Today we mainly concentrated on tire testing and chose our tires for Indy. We were a lot more reliable today and tried to do as many laps as we could, which enabled us to test the new aero bits as well."

“Overall the test at Jerez went well and we got lots of feedback and data that we can use in development for the final two races. It was a shame that Jenson’s time in the car was cut short but we were glad to hear that he didn’t have any major injuries,” added Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development. “I’m sure he’ll be back fighting fit at Indianapolis. Jacques had a solid race in Italy and we’re all determined to carry the momentum forward and rack up some more points in the US.”

 His 1m19.191s  lap was just a whisker slower than fast man at Jerez the previous day, Michael Schumacher, at 1m19.168s.

Team test driver Anthony Davidson undertook driving duties for two days at Idiada on 16 and 17 September. He completed 545km of testing over the two days, concentrating on gathering data from the car to analyze handling characteristics. Despite higher than expected winds making running tricky, the team concluded the test with no technical problems.

BAR's third driver, Takuma Sato, took the wheel of a BAR Honda 005 on the first day of the Jerez test, 17 September. The main objective of his test was to evaluate the Bridgestone tires to be used in Indianapolis. He completed 133 laps, scoring a fastest time of 1:20.417.

Jenson Button was due to test for two days on 17 and 18 September. He completed 22 laps on the first day, in the process recording a fastest time of 1:20.115. However an engine problem ended his day prematurely. There were further problems for Jenson on the second day of his test when he had an accident on his 13th lap. The 23-year-old put a wheel on the grass and his car went off the track at 270kph, at the exit of the high-speed turn four. There are no tires at this section of the track and his car hit the barrier, damaging the suspension and the left-hand side of the car. The safety structures in place did the job very well as Jenson was unhurt in the accident, however he did bang his right knee quite hard.

Following Jenson's accident, his teammate Jacques Villeneuve was left to complete the second and third days of the test alone.   BAR Honda

9/19/03

Taylor takes IPS pole   Rookie Mark Taylor won his fourth career pole, tying him with A.J. Foyt for most career poles. Taylor’s other poles came at Phoenix, Nashville and Kentucky. He won at Phoenix and Nashville but did not start at Kentucky due to an illness.
1. (4) Mark Taylor, Dallara-Infiniti, 188.472
2. (14) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Infiniti, 188.459
3. (91) Aaron Fike, Dallara-Infiniti, 188.013
4. (36) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 186.700
5. (3) Marty Roth, Dallara-Infiniti, 185.646
6. (25) G.J. Mennen, Dallara-Infiniti, 184.835
7. (92) Cory Witherill, Dallara-Infiniti, 184.794
8. (99) Brad Pollard, Dallara-Infiniti, 184.337
9. (20) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Infiniti, 184.250
10. (24) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 183.932
11. (5) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 183.842
12. (27) Gary Peterson, Dallara-Infiniti, 183.139
13. (9) Taylor Fletcher, Dallara-Infiniti, 182.799
14. (33) Paul Dana, Dallara-Infiniti, 182.667
15. (12) Matt Beardsley, Dallara-Infiniti, 179.722

9/19/03

Racing isn't the only thing happening in Miami   Concerts by Elton John and Kid Rock are on the bill. There's a street festival, beauty pageant, black-tie charity ball and no shortage of interactive activities for fans. Oh, and there are three days of racing on the streets of downtown Miami, too.   This year's Grand Prix of the Americas has a distinctly different feel than last year's inaugural version of the event, when a hastily assembled organizing group had only about a month to plan Miami's first downtown racing event since 1995, and spent much of that time fending off legal challenges.  Now, the event has been tailored to mirror some of the other more-established and successful stops on the Championship Auto Racing Teams circuit, intertwining a festival atmosphere that woos casual fans with auto racing's most ardent followers. Last year's schedule for the Miami race weekend focused almost singularly on racing.  "We have our core fans, but we want to focus also on the Elton John fans that might not have come to the race, and maybe we can get a little bit of crossover from there," said Grand Prix Americas president Chuck Martinez. "We want to make it an event. We want our races surrounded by other things going on in town that will add cache and excitement to the overall event."  The weeklong festival begins Sunday.  More at TCPalm.com....

9/19/03

De Ferran to wrap up career at TMS   Fans will have their final chance to see 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran at the Oct. 12 Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The Marlboro Team Penske driver announced in August he is retiring at the end of the season. De Ferran, currently just 18 points behind teammate Helio Castroneves who leads the 2003 point standings, is hopeful he can end his career with a win at Texas and an Indy Racing League IndyCar Series championship. "I'm certainly looking forward to October 12th," said de Ferran. "I've always liked competing in Texas as it is very challenging and always provides for exciting racing."  This year's IRL Championship points race is extremely tight with five drivers in contention, which should make the race a great show for the fans. "For me, winning the 2003 IndyCar Series Championship would be ideal, as it would add a real exclamation point to the end of my career. Furthermore, a win at Texas Motor Speedway would make my retirement even sweeter as that's about as well as I could hope for to complete my tenure behind the wheel." De Ferran captured his first Indianapolis 500 win on May 25 of this year and won consecutive CART championships with Marlboro Team Penske in 2000 and 2001. He has scored four IndyCar Series wins and recorded seven wins in CART, four of those with Penske. "The decision to retire was a very difficult and emotional one for me, because racing is all I've known since I was a teenager. When I started my career I had a whole mountain to climb, with an entire set of challenges. Now I'm looking forward to climbing a new mountain with whatever I pursue after racing. I've accomplished more than I ever could have dreamed of after winning two CART Championships and this year's Indianapolis 500, so it's nice to know that I'm leaving at the top of my game." Tickets for the Chevy 500 race week events are available by calling (817) 215-8500, online at www.texasmotorspeedway.com and at Ticketmaster locations.

9/19/03

Andretti speeds past generation gap   This South Bend, Indiana Tribune article talks about Mario Andretti's recent visit to a small town high school and the impact he had on the students and the town.  It just underscores why Mario is a superstar.

9/19/03

More on CSI: Miami filming   The popular CBS crime drama CSI: Miami will use the backdrop of the upcoming Grand Prix Americas Presented by Sportsbook.com as a premise for a November episode of the highly-rated show, an episode that will feature the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

The shooting will take place prior to and throughout the September 26-28 race weekend in the streets of Miami as the 750hp Champ Cars take care of their business, but before the shooting starts, CSI: Miami co-stars Rory Cochrane and Adam Rodriguez will get an opportunity to taste some of the speed by participating in a media outing with the high-speed pace cars of the Champ Car Fast Lap program.

The actors will be part of the Monday, September 22nd pace-car outing at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, Florida, as a specially-designed course will be set up in the park for the Ford pace cars to run. Cochrane (Tim Speedle on the show) and Rodriguez (Eric Delko) will be on hand from 1 – 4 p.m. and will take laps in the specially-prepared Ford SVT Mustangs.

The actors will be joined by Champ Car drivers, and Florida residents, Bruno Junqueira of Newman/Haas Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay of American Spirit Team Johansson. The media are invited to the event, which will take place at Crandon Park at 4000 Crandon Boulevard in Key Biscayne. For further information, contact Merrill Cain at 317-715-4100. CART

9/19/03

Valiante to run final Toyota Atlantic race   After two years as the red hot ‘phenom’ in auto racing’s equivalent of AAA-baseball, the education of racing driver Michael Valiante is nearly complete. Final exams take the form of the 55-lap CART Toyota Atlantic race on Sunday, September 28th, but Valiante is such an apt pupil that he already knows what team he’s going to pitch for when he graduates – Walker Racing. After a year of watching Valiante’s talent develop, both on- and off-track, CART team owner and noted talent spotter Derrick Walker has signed him to drive for the team in 2004, calling the 23 year-old Canadian “… one of the best young talents I’ve seen.”

But before that happens, there’s a pair of big shoes waiting for him to fill in Miami. Although this will be Valiante’s first time at the Bayfront street circuit, back in 1995 -- the last time that Atlantics, or any open-wheel car for that matter, raced through the streets of Miami – the race was won, from the pole, by Lynx Racing graduate Patrick Carpentier… who will be returning to Miami as a veteran CART driver with the Player’s/Forsythe team. Carpentier has one win and three podium finishes in 2003, and is 5th in the Champ Car championship battle.

Valiante’s statistics are equally impressive; over two-and-a-half seasons and 28 races, he has won five times, finished in the top-3 eleven times, scored ten top-5 finishes and completed every lap of every race he started. In 2003 so far, he has won twice and finished in the top-5 seven times. He is currently third in the championship, with the opportunity to move up to second at Miami, the Atlantic series season finale.

“I’m looking forward to Miami because, from a driver’s point of view, the feel of a popular street race with its huge crowds and all the energy in the air, it’s a great environment to go racing in,” says the 23 year-old from Vancouver, Canada. “The fact that the Atlantic championship has already been decided, and that I already have a Champ Car ride lined up for next year, takes a lot of pressure off, gives us a lot of freedom in our tactics and strategy and makes this weekend all about one thing only – ending the season on the highest possible note with a victory.”

Valiante drives for Lynx Racing, one of the most unique and successful organizations in auto racing today. Created and owned by two women, Peggy Haas and Jackie Doty, the mission of Lynx Racing is to seek out young drivers with the desire and potential to become champions at the highest level of the sport and provide them with funding, equipment and training that focuses on their mental and spiritual development as well as their on-track skills – a process the team calls ‘Destiny by Design.’ The ‘scholarship’ provided by the team is worth $2.5 million over two years. Graduates of the Lynx Racing program include such open-wheel racing stars as Patrick Carpentier (Player’s/Forsythe), Buddy Rice and Alex Barron (both with Red Bull Cheever Racing) and Memo Gidley.

The Toyota Atlantic series, now in its 30th year, is the triple-A baseball of open-wheel auto racing, a place where the stars of tomorrow hone their skills at 160 mph in front of the Champ Car team owners who are their potential future employers. Atlantic cars are ‘spec’ race cars, placing a premium on driver skill and team preparation. The 1260-pound, single seat race cars are powered by 1.6-liter, 250 horsepower Toyota engines.

On-track Atlantic action in Miami begins with a 9:05 am to 9:35 am practice session on Friday morning. Preliminary qualifying to set one of the two front-row starting spots for the race takes place that afternoon at 4:15 pm. Final qualifying to set the grid for the race is at 12:30 pm on Saturday afternoon, and the 55-lap / 62.7-mile CART Toyota Atlantic race is scheduled to take the green flag on Sunday at 10:30 in the morning. The race will be televised same-day tape-delay on SPEED TV at 12:30 pm, with re-broadcasts on Monday, September 29th at 3:00 pm and Friday, October 3rd at 5:00 pm. All times are Eastern.  Lynx Racing

9/19/03

Andretti to run 4th RCR entry at Talladega  John Andretti will drive the No. 90 America Online/Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Richard Childress Racing (RCR) in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series’ EA Sports 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Sept. 28.

The fourth RCR Winston Cup entry will be a research and development car in preparation for the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup season. Bobby Leslie will be the crew chief and the over-the-wall crew will be RCR’s No. 21 PayDay NASCAR Busch Series team. Legendary NASCAR team owner Junie Donlavey agreed to allow RCR the use of his famed No. 90 for the race to tie into the recent introduction of the AOL 9.0® Optimized service, the most compelling upgrade in AOL history.

“John’s current driving situation with DEI was not in place when he committed to drive the fourth car for us at Talladega so I’m glad we were able to work this deal out,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. “We’re running the fourth car to get a head-start on the 2004 season so I appreciate John helping us out with the work we’ll need to have done before testing at Daytona in January. Being able to tie AOL and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation together on the car is very important to me personally because of my respect and admiration for everyone in the military, and especially those in Special Operations. We’re just doing what we can to help raise awareness for the group and the work they do to provide college scholarship grants and counseling for the children of Special Operations personnel who are killed in action or training exercises.

“I also want to thank Junie Donlavey for letting us use his No. 90. That number has a great history in NASCAR because of Junie, so I hope we can get a good finish for him.”

Andretti was named as the driver of the Dale Earnhardt Incorporated (DEI) No. 1 Chevrolet Monte Carlo in late August after already committing to drive the RCR entry at Talladega. He has two NASCAR Winston Cup victories, 13 top-five and 37 top-10 finishes since becoming a full time Winston Cup driver in 1994 and finished 18th in last year’s EA Sports 500.

“I think it’s obviously a great thing, from any driver’s perspective, to be able to drive for great teams like RCR and DEI,” said Andretti. “I think when you look at the situation I’m in, I can’t be any happier or feel any better about the people I’m going to get to drive for. In some ways, they (RCR and DEI) are probably the two closest-tied teams, based on their history and with Dale Earnhardt being the connection. It’s a great honor and privilege for me. Probably the first time I got to spend a few minutes with Richard Childress, he came up to me in the garage area many years ago and, to make a long story short, he and Dale Earnhardt helped me out so that I got to make the Talladega race and I’ve never forgotten it. And here he goes again to do something like this for me. It makes me feel really good so I just want to go out and do a great job for him. I think we’re going to have a car competitive enough and everything’s going to work out and we’re gong to be a contender.”

9/19/03

Dover may install lights  Denis McGlynn expects to flip a switch that will illuminate Dover International Speedway and usher in a new era of night racing at the track, possibly within two years. McGlynn, the president and CEO of Dover's speedway, said it is only logical that the track follow the trend started by Bristol, and then embraced by Charlotte, Richmond and Daytona. Darlington Raceway is installing lights and will run the Southern 500 at night for the first time Nov. 14 next year. California Speedway will run a night race next Labor Day weekend. "I expect lights will happen at Dover," McGlynn said. "We don't have a time line on it right now. But NASCAR has let us know there is a general inclination by the television networks to go with later starts and evening races. "It will not happen this year or next year. But I would expect to see it at some point in the future." Dover is studying how much it would cost to light the track. It cost $2.5 million to light Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis, which is owned by Dover Motorsports. McGlynn said it likely would cost more to install a lighting system at Dover because the grandstands almost encircle the one-mile oval. Plus, parking lots around the track would have to have lights. He estimated it would take six months to install them. If NASCAR had lights at tracks that host races in the fall, it would not have to go head-to-head against the NFL for television viewers. Jim Hunter, vice president of NASCAR, said the sport would like to keep many of its traditional Sunday afternoon races. "I don't think that there's going to be a wholesale change to night racing," Hunter said. "I think there's going to be some select events that we'll do that with. I think what you might see is more day/night events.  Television has not indicated that they want a lot of night races. They just want to move them to a little later in the day, which normally leads to better ratings. Dover would be great at night."  Delaware News Journal

9/19/03

A lap around Indy with Jacques Villeneuve  You start with a very long straight line where you reach 340kph, with heavy braking and you are next to a wall, so it’s different to other tracks, also it’s bumpy and difficult. You don’t see the corner ahead as visually all you see is the oval going on ahead of you and the inside curb is on the asphalt, the straight line is very wide and there is no grass, that makes it difficult when you are overtaking as there are no reference points. There is nothing special about turns 1 and 2, it’s just a right, left section. Turn 1 is slower than you think every time and you carry the brakes very long into the corner and then for turn 2 it is just a question of accelerating through. It isn’t really a problem.

Three is not a corner, four is very difficult, visually you don’t have any reference points, you are turning and you have to hit the brakes at the same time, making sure you don’t go too wide and run off the track, but at the same time you have to look where the corner is and hit the brakes. It’s also a corner where you can lose a lot of time very easily and you always think you can go quicker.

Turn 5 isn’t a corner any more; with the traction control it’s easy but balance here is important. You don’t want to come out of the corner too wide as you then have to hit the brakes in turn 6 which makes braking more difficult. Turn six is a strange, very long corner and you hit the apex twice; you are on the brakes when you turn in, it gets wider and then you’re back onto the apex because you can’t exit the corner wide, you have to exit completely tight because of turn 7 right after. Here it’s always very slippery, not as much downforce, quite slow but not much acceleration out of 6 and you just tap on the brakes into the corner. Not a very long straight line out of it but it’s so easy to make a mistake and if that happens you will see overtaking happening at the end of the straight.

Turn 8 is just a corner where its important to carry a lot of speed and survive at the exit because there’s not a lot of acceleration; you have to try not to go too wide because you then get a crazily tight, too tight, section of hairpins and if you are wide it makes that turn 9 hairpin very difficult to negotiate. Turns 9 and 10 are not a fun section. It’s just annoying and extremely slow. It serves no purpose and nobody knows why they are there, it’s just no fun at all. Then you accelerate. Turn 11 is difficult and extremely important.

You are still moving from the right to the left side of the track so you are not going straight yet, and you have to pay attention. There is no reference point of where the track is, there’s a curb in the middle of the asphalt so you don’t see where the corner is. It’s very easy to make a mistake there, yet it is very important as it’s the corner that gives you the speed on the whole straight line of the start/finish, and a mistake here probably means you’ll get overtaken by the end of it.

Then all the way to the start/finish, even though it turns. It’s only a corner in the wet; in the dry it’s not a corner. We go 60kph slower than an Indy car goes. It’s not a corner, it just looks visually impressive because of the banking.

9/19/03
MotoGP

Suzuka axed from 2004 calendar  The FIM has announced that Suzuka has been removed from the 2004 calendar.   The circuit was the scene of the death of Daijiro Kato in this year's event, and serious injuries to Marco Melandri and Alex Barros in the preceding practice sessions.  As a result, Suzuka was faced with making considerable safety alterations to avoid a possible riders' strike. The FIM state that these circuit modifications will not be complete before 2005, and that therefore the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix will be held at Motegi.

"The Suzuka Circuit has established a long-term program of works including various modifications aiming at improving the circuit, principally the safety in view of the Grand Prix counting towards the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix.

"This program of modifications to improve safety has been discussed at length with the Grand Prix Safety Commission. These modifications, however, cannot be carried out before the Grand Prix originally scheduled in April next. For this reason, an agreement has been reached according to which the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix, originally scheduled on 4 April next, will not take place on the circuit of Suzuka.

"The FIM created the Grand Prix Safety Commission last May. The role of this Grand Prix Safety Commission is to work on improving the safety around the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix circuits, following the evolution of Grand Prix racing in recent years, and particularly due to a recent technical evolution which includes an increase in performances of the new MotoGP motorcycles.

"In this aspect, the FIM requested the MSMA (Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers' Association) to review the technical regulations taking into account the general performances and behavior of the racing motorcycles and its consequences on safety.

"Regarding the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix, the circuit of Suzuka and the FIM will keep on the discussions in an effort to organize this Grand Prix again as the season opener on the circuit of Suzuka.

"Moreover, in agreement with the FIM and Dorna, the Grand Prix scheduled on the circuit of Twin Ring Motegi on 19 September 2004 will bear the title of Japanese Grand Prix (instead of Pacific Grand Prix)."

Revised provisional 2004 calendar

April 18 South Africa Welkom
May 2 Spain Jerez de la Frontera
May 16 France Le Mans
May 30 Italy Mugello
June 13 Catalunya Catalunya
June 26 * Netherlands Assen
July 11 Great Britain Donington Park
July 18 Germany Sachsenring
July 31 * Rio Jacarepaguá
August 22 Czech Rep. Brno
September 5 Portugal Estoril
September 19 Japan Motegi
October 2 * Qatar Qatar
October 10 Malaysia Sepang
October 17 Australia Phillip Island
October 31 Valencia Valencia

9/19/03

Burton as a spotter  Just over two weeks ago Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 CITGO Ford, renewed his contract with Roush Racing as a driver not knowing that he would be called upon for spotters duty at New Hampshire. This past Saturday in Loudon, N.H., Burton made his debut as a spotter for fellow teammate Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Superchips team. "It kind of came up at the last minute," said Burton. "I was a little nervous at first because I had never spotted before but in the end I had a lot of fun." Burton was so hesitant at first that he took Richard Bostick with him up to the spotters stand for Saturday's race. Bostick is Burton's motor coach driver but he also spots for Burton on Fridays and Saturdays and has spotted for an array of drivers over the years. "Yeah, I took Richard up there just as a backup but I ended up doing ok." Burton continued, "It gave me a new appreciation for spotters and what is required of them. From a driver's perspective there is a lot going on on the track and you rely on your spotter to filter some of that out and give you the relevant information. Of course being a spotter you're not only watching the race for wrecks, etc., you're a cheerleader, you're communicating information to the crew chief, there's a lot to take in and process." Burton's career opportunity came about when crew chief Kevin "Cowboy" Starland saw an opportunity to increase the learning curve of both Edwards and his spotter, both rookies in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. "The decision to have Jeff spot was two-fold," said Starland. "First, Jeff has had a lot of success at Loudon so it was good for Carl to listen to him; I think he learned a lot during the race. Second, just like Carl is a rookie driver, his spotter is a rookie as well. I thought this would be a good time for him to listen to a few veteran spotters to help make him better. I think they both learned a lot." Edwards applauded Burton on his debut, "It was really neat to have Jeff up there spotting for me during the race. I think he was just as excited as I was every time I passed someone. He was as much of a cheerleader as he was a spotter. He did a great job and having him up there was a huge help. Having his experience as a driver gives him an advantage spotting that most people don't have." Burton could be heard coaching Edwards through some sticky situations with a calm voice and encouraging words such as, "You're ok bud, keep it coming. Good job!" Burton's not ready to quit his day job as a NASCAR Winston Cup driver yet, but he hasn't ruled out helping a fellow teammate out down the road. "I had a lot of fun spotting for Carl last weekend," said Burton. "I know I learned a lot and I hope he did too. It was really fun helping him to a second place finish. If the opportunity arose down the road, I would definitely help him out."

9/19/03

Hmiel suspended for drug use  Busch Series driver Shane Hmiel was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR and consequently released by Innovative Motorsports Inc. on Thursday due to apparent substance abuse.  Hmiel is the son of Steve Hmiel, longtime Winston Cup team manager and Crew Chief.

Hmiel will be suspended until he meets terms and conditions set by NASCAR for future reinstatement. After violating NASCAR's substance abuse policy, the 23-year-old is required to attend counseling and undergo periodic random testing.

"NASCAR has a zero tolerance for any type of behavior in violation of our substance abuse policy," NASCAR president Mike Helton said. "While our primary responsibility is the safety of our drivers and our fans, we also have a moral responsibility to protect the integrity of our sport."

"The policy provides for testing under reasonable suspicion, an approach that is well suited to NASCAR because of the close and continuing contact between our officials and our competitors," Helton said.

"First and foremost, our entire organization wants to apologize to our sponsors, NASCAR, each of the NASCAR competitors and our fans due to the recent developments surrounding this situation," team owner George deBidart said.

"We certainly do not condone this type of behavior, and we fully support NASCAR in its decision. In an effort to prevent these circumstances from embarrassing our team and me in he future, we will immediately institute a drug-testing policy within our organization for all employees."

9/19/03

Frentzen responds to Montoya  Sauber driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen has hit back at accusations from title contender Juan Pablo Montoya that he held his BMW Williams up during the Italian Grand Prix last Sunday as a means to help fellow countryman Michael Schumacher get an upper hand on the Colombian in the fight for this seasons drivers’ crown.

“I did not receive any instructions from the pit, but I had my rear view mirrors splattered with oil,” Frentzen explained to Blick. “For three laps I thought that the driver behind me was Webber in the Jaguar, with who I was involved in a battle for the last WC points. I had a radio message telling me that it was Montoya behind me so I made room as quickly as possible.”

Even BMW Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen, as upset as he was at the fact that Montoya couldn’t get by, doesn’t believe that the Sauber man did anything questionable.

“The scene was upsetting, because the championship is at stake. But Frentzen did not infringe the rules,” he said.

9/19/03

Bernie on how to improve single-car, single-lap quals   Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is complaining that the new qualifying format is ‘dreadful’ and ‘cheating’ Formula One fans who turn up at various venues around the world to see their heroes in action.

“The new qualifying is simply dreadful,” Ecclestone said in Blick. “The suspense and excitement of the old qualifying is gone with the wind. Formula 1 is an exclusive event, the prices are fair, but we provide poor entertainment. We are cheating the spectators with a bad show. Here they sit all day long on the Tribune in 40° C heat and all they get to see is one lonely car. Nobody knows what the lap time is worth. In the old days, qualifying was still loaded with action.”

So what does he plan to do about the situation?

“We need a different package with more action on Saturday, more supporting events as well as a final session shortly before Sunday’s Grand Prix” [Editor's Note: this is exactly what CART could do should it adopt single-car, single-lap qualifying - a procedure that makes the races better, but provides less entertainment on Saturday.  An easy problem to solve, and given the benefit, a must-do change].

9/19/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

Villeneuve: 'No' To BAR Driver Shoot-Out
Schu Confident Of Back-To-Back Win
Button Injured In High-Speed Shunt
Williams: There Might Be An 18th Race
Dixon On Search For F1 Stardom
Schu Expects 'Intense' Battle With JPM
Frentzen's A Cheat, Claims BMW Boss
China: An Important New Market For F1
Ralf Still Not Recovered From Crash
FIA Won't Go Easy On F1 Team Orders
Williams Opposed To GP Schedule Change
Alex Wurz Set For Return To F1 Grid
Warning To Ferrari: Don't Protest Past Results
Schu Ends F1 Testing On Top: Day 3

9/18/03

Open Wheel continues bid for CART  As previously announced on September 10, 2003, Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) and Open Wheel Racing Series LLC have entered into a definitive agreement providing for Open Wheel Racing Series to acquire Championship for cash equivalent to $0.56 per share, based on the number of shares of Championship common stock currently outstanding.

Under the agreement, Open Wheel Racing Series had the right to terminate the agreement on or prior to September 18, 2003 in its discretion. Open Wheel Racing Series has decided not to exercise this termination right. The parties will therefore continue to pursue the completion of the transaction in accordance with the remaining terms of the definitive agreement. The transaction is still subject to various closing conditions set forth in the definitive agreement, some of which were described in a press release dated September 10, 2003. Championship has previously filed a copy of the definitive agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Under the agreement, Championship’s Board retains the ability to pursue and accept a superior acquisition proposal. However, Open Wheel Racing Series is entitled to receive a termination fee of $350,000 if Championship accepts a superior proposal or if Open Wheel Racing Series terminates the agreement because Championship’s Board withdraws or adversely modifies its recommendation of the transaction to Championship’s stockholders or takes action under its shareholder rights agreement to permit another person or entity to acquire 15% or more of Championship’s stock.

Championship is being advised by Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. in connection with the transaction.
Open Wheel Racing Series is a newly formed holding company owned indirectly by a group of investors including Gerald R. Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi. Mr. Forsythe or entities owned or controlled by him currently have beneficial ownership of 3,377,400 shares of Championship common stock, approximately 22.9% of the outstanding shares of Championship. These shares will be contributed to Open Wheel Racing Series rather than acquired for cash. Open Wheel Racing Series has previously stated that, if the transaction is completed, it intends to continue to operate the business of Championship, including continuing to sanction the motorsports series currently known as “Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.”  CART

9/18/03

Andretti comments on CART & IRL  A fan wrote into Wind Tunnel tonight (we paraphrase) calling Michael Andretti, Team Penske, Ganassi Racing and other CART teams who went to the IRL turncoats.  If not for them the IRL would have only had 13 cars this year and that their move to the IRL decimated CART.  Why did he do it the fan asked?  Andretti made a number of comments (paraphrased)  1) CART was the greatest open wheel racing series ever, and with the same teams and drivers the IRL can get us back there, and we have the Indy 500, just be patient, 2) I just want to make open wheel racing what it was in the mid 90s and I believe in what Tony George is doing.  3) When asked about road courses - We need to be on road courses, the temporary circuits, the Long Beach's, in Mexico and Canada (in other words the IRL should copy CART...too funny.  In order for the IRL to get into those markets CART either dies or the IRL outbids CART and steals the races away, which would be a bit naive because CART will now have more money behind it than in a long time, and we don't see Open Wheel Racing Series LLC giving up any of their races that draw big crowds),  4) He might put John Andretti in a car for next year's Indy 500 if the sponsorship is there, 5) He expects to run 3 cars again next year and thinks Bryan Herta did a great job for the team coming in and subbing for Franchitti.  6) All the IRL teams think they need to be racing on road courses - (How ironic given the IRL'ers always criticized them.  Notice Mr. IRL, AJ Foyt, has been silent lately?  The IRL has muffled him. He must be fuming as he watches the IRL morph into CART with each passing day)  7) In one sentence he said the IRL will become the great series CART once was, and in another he stated we have to find a way to get these two series (CART and IRL) back together again. (This of course is a different statement from the ones he made not too long ago that CART wasn't going to survive.  It appears those in the IRL are beginning to realize CART is here to stay unless Jon Vannini decides to strike and possibly kill the CART buyout deal, and the IRL's TV ratings are in a downward spiral indicating that series is in more trouble than initially realized).

9/18/03

Marco Andretti and Skip Barber  Marco Andretti is leading in points with one race to go in the Skip Barber Dodge Regional Championship and is showing some real talent in equal cars.  His father Michael stated on Wind Tunnel that he plans on having Marco go through all steps of the Barber program.  Next year will be the National championship and then in 2005 he will be in the Dodge Pro Series.  After that it will either be the Infiniti Pro Series, Toyota Atlantic Series or whatever else is out there at that level.  His father feels Marco has the talent to become a professional race driver.

9/18/03

Andretti expects to get Franchitti back  Michael Andretti stated on Thursday night's SPEED Channel Wind Tunnel that he expects to have Dario Franchitti back on his IRL team in 2004.  He should know if the surgery was successful around November 1st.  There were rumors that Franchitti might return to CART.

9/18/03

Mansell mania still magic a decade later  This Valvoline article reminisces about Nigel Mansell coming to CART in 1993 and winning the PPG Indy Car World Series Championship 10 years ago tomorrow at Nazareth.  Photo courtesy of Ford.

9/18/03

No ovals for CART?  A reader writes, Dear AR1, With regard to Mark Cipolloni's latest article, Are you saying CART shouldn't race on ovals? - Sorry if I've misread something you've written (I've just read your top 10 challenges - I think they're great.).  They don't have many left, that's for certain - but I do like the ovals (can't help it - I've grown up in Indpls, gone to the 500 since 1965) - and I've always appreciated CART's advertising itself as a showcase for versatility, with road, street, ovals. Just curious what you think. Thanks, Elaine Cleveland, Indianapolis, IN  Dear Elaine, It's the high-speed ovals that are the real problem if CART is to reduce the weight of the far-too-heavy Champ Cars.  The speed at which the cars impact the wall on those tracks requires the car structure to be strong enough such that the structure itself doesn't collapse under impact leaving the driver unprotected. This article I wrote about crumple zone physics two years ago when Dale Earnhardt was killed explains the concept. If CART sticks to road courses and smaller ovals, where the speeds are lower, and stays off the high-banked superspeedways, they can safely remove some material from the cars and still have the driver protected.  Champ Cars were designed for oval track racing and years ago a minimum weight was established high enough to avoid engineers designing "flimsy" lightweight cars that would not adequately protect a driver when impacting a concrete wall at high speeds.  Colin Chapman of Lotus was notorious for designing race cars that were as light as possible, which resulted in many structural failures of his cars over the years.  In the mid-60's when he brought Lotus to Indy, his cars were lighter and faster than the American designed bucket of bolts, and he blew the competition into the nearby cabbage patches.  Only trouble was,  he almost killed Mario Andretti when the rear hub assembly of the 4-wheel drive Lotus 64 broke (later blamed on improper heat treatment) during practice at Indy in 1969 sending Mario hard against the wall.  Chapman immediately withdrew all his cars and went home with his tail between his legs that year.  Andretti went on to win the 500 in his backup Brawner-Hawk - yup, one of those American bucket of bolts came through for the win.  Mark C.

9/18/03

Sato expects to get BAR Honda ride   Takuma Sato is patiently awaiting his racing fate on F1's sidelines but still fully expects to slide into the sister BAR cockpit next season. The Japanese driver is reportedly favored by engine partners Honda to replace Jacques Villeneuve in '04 but denied that a formal decision has yet been made. "Sadly, [Honda] are the ones who are against me for next year," a bemused Villeneuve told reporters after finishing sixth at Monza. Earlier this year, Sato - who debuted in a Jordan-Honda last season - said: "I have a three year deal with BAR, of which only one year is as third driver. "So put it this way - I expect to race for the team in '04."   While testing at the Jerez circuit in his current development role for BAR this week, Sato denied speculation that Honda has already made up its mind. "The situation hasn't changed," he told an Autosport reporter. "The negotiations are ongoing and at the moment I'm just waiting.  All I can do is concentrate on my testing program. I just hope it will be decided soon."

9/18/03

Road America tentatively on 2004 CART schedule  There will be a race weekend at Road America in early August in 2004. Whether Championship Auto Racing Teams is a part of that weekend has yet to be determined. The Board of Directors for the cash-strapped organization announced last week it had agreed to sell the series to a group headed by CART team owner Gerald Forsythe. However, CART shareholders must still approve the deal, so finalization is a ways off. “We’re in a wait and see mode,” said Road America director of communications Cheryl Barnes. CART and Road America have one more year remaining on their two-year contract. Barnes said Road America is continuing to work with the CART management group and is talking to them on a regular basis, including representatives for Open Wheel Racing Series, the group attempting to purchase CART. As it stands now, CART is tentatively scheduled to race at Road America the weekend of Aug. 5-8. Series already confirmed to race that weekend are Trans-Am, Toyota Atlantics, Formula Ford 2000 and Barber Dodge. Sheboygan Press [Editor's Note:  AR1 fully expects CART to race at Road America in 2004.  Whether it should be combined with the ALMS weekend is subject to debate (currently it is not scheduled that way) but this is where MotoRock can really help the Road America race.  What rock groups or musicians will people from Milwaukee and Chicago drive miles to Elkhart Lake to go and see?  Answer that and couple it with a big week-long LeMans 24-hour-type carnival and you might have the ticket to a big spectator turnout.  The old ways aren't working at RA folks, time to think outside the box.  Come on out, the weather's fine!]

9/18/03

CSI: Miami to film Champ Car-themed episode  The glitz and glamour surrounding the upcoming Grand Prix Americas Presented by Sportsbook.com will have an intriguing subplot as the teams and drivers of the CART Champ Car World Series battle for supremacy on the streets of Miami from September 26-28. CBS’ hit crime drama CSI: Miami will film an upcoming episode of its highly-rated series in and around the 750hp Champ Cars, shooting a show that is scheduled to air in mid-November. The series, which stars David Caruso, Emily Procter, Rory Cochrane, Adam Rodriguez and Khandi Alexander, will be filming during the entire race week and will create an episode that centers around a murder that takes place at the race track. The CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) detectives will work with current Champ Car teams and personnel to solve the crime, and will feature footage of the teams and drivers of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford both on and off the track. Several of the Champ Car teams will have featured roles in the episode, with those specific teams to be named next week. CSI: Miami drew an average viewership of 16.57 million in 2002, was rated 13th among all prime-time television programs and was the highest-rated new drama of the 2002 television season. For more information, contact Champ Car Communications at (317) 715-4100, and for more information on CSI: Miami, contact Beth Haiken of CBS at (323) 575-2103.

9/18/03

De Ferran to use Panoz G-Force  Gil de Ferran will use a Panoz G Force for the Toyota Indy 400, Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing Inc., said Sept. 17. His teammate, Helio Castroneves, will use a Dallara chassis, as he has in all races this season. After competing in the first two races of the season with the Dallara chassis, de Ferran won the 87th Indianapolis 500 on May 25 using a Panoz G Force chassis and finished eighth in June at Texas using the chassis. He switched back to the Dallara for the last nine races. “Obviously, Gil had success with the (Panoz) G Force at Indianapolis, and we think it might give him a bit of an edge at the bigger tracks,” Cindric said. “We had a good test with it last week in Fontana, so we decided to give it a shot.” The team first used a Panoz G Force during the third race of the season in April at Twin Ring Motegi when Alex Barron finished 17th after an accident. Barron substituted for de Ferran after de Ferran suffered a back injury in March in an accident with Michael Andretti at Phoenix.

9/18/03

Wood returns to Canada  Severely injured Infiniti Pro Series driver Tom Wood returned home Sept. 17 to Calgary, Alberta, Canada after stays at Methodist Hospital and the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, both located in Indianapolis, said Dr. Kevin Scheid, an orthopedic surgeon from OrthoIndy.  Wood underwent multiple surgeries and rehabilitation in Indianapolis after suffering fractures to his middle back, right knee, right foot and both ankles in an accident on Lap 52 of the Kentucky 100 Infiniti Pro Series event on Aug. 16 at Kentucky Speedway

9/18/03

Hearn to drive for Hemelgarn  Hemelgarn Racing officials announced Sept. 18 that Richie Hearn will drive the No. 91 Metabolife/Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone for the Toyota Indy 400 Sept. 21 at California Speedway.  Hearn replaces Buddy Lazier, who won the 1996 Indianapolis 500, the 2000 IndyCar Series Championship and eight races with the team. Lazier had been with Hemelgarn since the first IndyCar Series race in 1996 and had missed only two of the 85 races in series history.

9/18/03

Aikman/Staubach team announce driver  Hall of Fame Racing, the new NASCAR team owned by former Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, has signed its first driver - - Dallas resident Alex Whitman.  Whitman, 29, is the son of Paul Whitman, who is part of the ownership group for the team. Alex will compete in the Busch Series in 2004 if adequate funding is secured.

“We have a couple of things lined up, and we’re cautiously optimistic about it,’’ said Starke Taylor, the team’s marketing director. “But as far as having a Busch primary sponsor, we’re not there yet. Time is a big factor now, and we’re pushing very hard to get it done.”

Alex Whitman, 29, had an impressive showing in his ARCA Re/Max series debut last weekend in Salem, Ind., finishing sixth in a Chevrolet for Venturini Motorsports.

“What Alex did was extraordinary,’’ said Bill Saunders, managing partner for Hall of Fame Racing. “He qualified seventh and ran as high as second during the race.

“We’ve been high on Alex for a long time. He’s aggressive and he’s smart, but we wanted to test him. He couldn’t have done better. He’s not ready to step in a Busch car tomorrow, but there’s a lot of people in this business who feel he has a bright future.’’

9/18/03

The Juan Montoya connection This weekend’s Stars Eastern Division event in Jacksonville will have an added feature, an all-star race pitting top Stars drivers and regional champions in identical Easykart vehicles. Stars points contenders Bobby Wilson and Graham Rahal from the ICC shifter class and Robbie Pecorari, Michael Giessen, and Josh Hunt from the direct drive ICA class will compete along with five top drivers from the Easykart Florida championship: Frederico Montoya, brother of Juan Pablo, Ryan Fowler, Michelle Garraido, Albert Naon, Jr., and Carlos Duenas will attempt to school the nationally-known hot-shoes on the equal platform of the Easykarts.

The Montoya connection goes beyond young Frederico, as father Pablo Montoya is president of Easykart America. The Easykart is a spec chassis/engine package that is represented in three different classes based on competitor age and performance. The aim is to provide karting competition to a greater number of people based on the concepts of stable, low cost/high performance racing packages. "Easykart is very excited to have the opportunity to showcase the Easykart product at this highly visible event," said Pablo.

Son Juan Pablo Montoya raced the Easykart earlier this year at the same Jacksonville track hosting the Stars event and was impressed enough with the program to offer an invitation for regional champions to join him as a guest of the BMW-WilliamsF1 team at Indianapolis next weekend.

The ten drivers competing in the Easykart Dash for Cash Saturday will run a 20 lap race on identical Easykart 125s. The 125 model is capable of performance approaching the karts the Stars racers use in normal competition and is available at a very reasonable MSRP of $3,795, fully assembled and ready to drive.

Starting positions will be determined at random, with the ten drivers competing for a winner’s award of $250. For more information on Easykart, please see www.easykart.com.

9/18/03

Concern over single-car, single-lap qualifying  I thought I'd note that David Hobbs during Monza qualifying agrees with me that for the on-track spectator, nothing is more boring that one car every once in a while on a hot lap. I know you strongly believe in it but at least I've found one analyst who agrees with a simple fan like me. Here's to hoping it matters next year...John Costello  Dear John, There are many ways to take care of the boredom for the fans at the track with single-car qualifying. 1) add more practice time on Saturday, 2) Change to the proposed F1 format - Friday practice, Saturday practice and first round qualifying, Sunday morning final round qualifying followed by the race on Sunday afternoon. Teams have backup cars if something goes wrong on Sunday morning. This adds excitement to race day, the most important day.  Single-car, single-lap qualifying has helped mix up the F1 starting grids just enough to make it exciting. Mark C.

9/18/03

IRL team orders  This Star Telegram article talks about the possibility of team orders as the IRL season championship draws to a close.  "I don't know. I hope [the championship] doesn't come down to that," said Dixon, the 22-year-old New Zealander who has scored a series-leading three victories and five poles in his first IRL season. "I think Tomas is well-deserving and needs a win here. If he can get his win, that's good for him. But it depends. We'll know more when we come [back] to Texas what the standings are.

"In general, when you're trying to help out a teammate or win a championship, you always try to do some ..."

Dixon's voice trailed off there. But we can assume he said something about dealing for a little in-house help.

In other words, team orders. It always has been a murky business.

9/18/03

Win a ride in a 2-seater F1 car   Have you ever dreamt of riding in a Formula One car? It's very simple you just need to give us your name and email and we will pick a winner from a random draw. So what are you waiting for? Click here and go to the Bridgestone Tire website to enter.

9/18/03

New Hampshire TV rating  Sunday's Sylvania 300 from Loudon, New Hampshire on TNT drew 3,214,000 TV households, according to Nielsen Media Research. It was the #6 ranked program on basic cable for the week, finishing behind the Bears-Vikings NFL contest, NFL Prime Time, a Lifetime Movie, a Spongebob episode, and WWE. The national rating (not cable rating) was 3.0. Last year's race was on NBC and drew 3,965,000 households, but there is no accurate year-to-year comparison because that was on an over-the-air network. However, last year's Dover race was on TNT, and it pulled in 3,497,000 households, meaning that a comparable weekend from last year drew slightly higher ratings. MotorsportsTV.com

9/18/03

Button injured in shunt   Jenson Button suffered a heavy crash at Jerez today and is said to have suffered bad bruises to his knees.  The British driver lost control of the rear of his car in the high-speed left-handed fourth turn of the track, and clouted the wall between turns 4 and 5 with a heavy left side impact. This is the same corner where Alex Wurz had a major shunt earlier this year testing the McLaren MP4-18. "I put a wheel on the grass, which caused the car immediately to snap out of control," said Button.

9/18/03

Joest team quotes before Miami  Frank Biela: "We’re all looking forward to Miami. The atmosphere is awesome and racing on street circuits is something very special. Fortunately, the part of the course that was so slippery last year and which had little to do with driving, is no longer there. I hope that the new part of the course is at the same level of what the rest of the course was like last year. The spectators will definitely see an interesting race, because the track is so narrow and short. Miami wasn’t especially exhausting last year, but it’s important to permanently remain concentrated. Between the concrete walls the smallest mistake inevitably leads to retirement, which is something we cannot afford. We have the championship in the back of our minds, but we also want to win the last two races. That’s why it will be important for us to find the right compromise between speed and the least possible amount of risk.”  Marco Werner: "In Trois-Rivieres I proved myself as a driver on a street circuit. I’m looking forward to Miami and am really excited about the race. Apparently, last year there had been some sections with very little grip. In Miami it’s again my turn to do the qualifying and hope to be able to capture the pole position for Infineon Team Joest like in Trois-Rivieres and Road America. On a street circuit it’s important to start from the front, because it’s even more difficult to pass someone than on a normal course. Even though we have a comfortable lead in the championship, I’m not thinking about simply bringing home points. I have too much fun winning to be able to do that!”  Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director): "Along with the Champ Cars, the event in Miami will be a major highlight. We have a lot of good memories of Miami and want to win like we did last year. The track has likely become faster after having been rebuilt. Because of the new layout, no one can use the old data as a frame of reference. However, until now we’ve everywhere been able to set-up a good car for our drivers. I truly believe in our engineering skills. Frank won last year in Miami, and Marco showed in Trois-Rivieres that he can do well in a ‘street’ race. This makes me feel very confident. However, because of the expected heat and high humidity, it’s going to be a tough weekend for the whole team.”

9/18/03

Latest F1 Hot News items  

Canadians Muse 'Moratorium' To Save F1 Race
Sato Still Expects BAR-Honda Ride
Zanardi Gears Up For Emotional Return
Firman Back In The Saddle
Newey: 'We Can't Race' All-New McLaren
Ralf: New Williams Deal (Nearly) Done
Title Race Prompts Indy Schedule Change
Pre-Indy Testing: Day Two, Wednesday
Tire Issue Was Disruptive: Michelin Teams
F1 Championship Tops The Lot: Montoya

9/17/03

IRL sets date for Motegi race  The second IndyCar Series event at the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval in Japan will be held Saturday, April 17, 2004, Indy Racing League officials announced Sept. 17. The Indy Japan 300, the final race before the 88th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, will start at 12:30 p.m. (Japan time) April 17 and be broadcast live in the United States on ESPN2 at 11:30 p.m. (EDT) Friday, April 16. “We look forward to our return to Twin Ring Motegi, where we were so warmly received at our inaugural event,” said Ken Ungar, senior vice president of business affairs for the IRL. “Japan offers the IndyCar Series the opportunity to showcase our exciting product in front of an enthusiastic audience, while strengthening our ties with companies who are involved with the league and its drivers and teams.”

9/17/03

Infiniti Pro Series a waste of time  This Autoweek article talks about the Infiniti Pro Series, pretty much calling it a waste of time.  Other than injure drivers, it doesn't accomplish much.  It's 100% throttle racing at slower speeds than the IRL.  Thomas Knapp was Greg Ray’s engineer when they won the IRL championship in 1999, and he now works in the Pro Series with Genoa Racing. Knapp said the series isn’t doing its job of preparing drivers for Indy car rides, and he rattles off an assortment of technical reasons to make his point. Specifically, he said the cars have “stupid levels” of downforce.

“You could turn the wings upside down and they’d still be planted, and it rewards mediocrity when you do that,” he said. “A lot of the talent is masked, and good drivers are frustrated.”

Fellow engineer Tim Neff agrees, and he has driven one of the 450-horsepower cars. “Most of the guys that try these are flat [on the accelerator] in four or five laps,” he said. “It’s not close enough to the edge for them to learn anything.” [Editor's Note: Ditto for the IRL cars - another 100% throttle series].

9/17/03

Karting news Canadians Kevin Glover and Lorenzo Mandarino swept both races in their respective ICA and ICC classes at the Stars of Tomorrow event in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada last weekend.

Glover, from Burnaby, British Columbia, clinched the Western Division of the Stars series with his fifth and sixth consecutive wins in the ICA direct drive class. He also scored a podium finish in the ICC class, performing double duty like several of the Stars competitors.

Glover found his way to each checkered flag in different manners. On Saturday, Tyler Dueck set fast time in qualifying while Glover placed tenth. Kevin then worked his way through the field for the pre-final win. Apparently liking the action, Glover dropped back to eleventh at the start of the 24 lap final event.

In a race that sported no fewer than six lead drivers, including Dueck, Jordy Vorrath, Ecuadorian Sebastian Andrade, Buttonwillow race winner Chris Giumarra and TNR teammate Landon Yee, Glover sliced his way back into the lead to win by over two seconds over Yee and Giumarra.

Sunday brought rain and qualifying on wet tires and Glover placed his Genesis Racing CRG kart on pole. Fellow Canadian Vorrath handily won the pre-final, but it was all Glover in the main over championship rivals Andrew Alfonso and Joel Miller.

Mandarino was no less impressive in the ICC. The 16 year old, who also hails from British Columbia, seems to have controversy follow him. Saturday's race was no exception as an aggressive and unexpected move on race leader David Jurca brought protests from Jurca's Italkart outfit. Opinions in the paddock varied on the legality of the move, yet officials upheld the results as Mandarino took the win with Jurca and Glover completing the podium.

Sunday's wet-weather qualifying saw ICC West points leader Jason Bowles position himself to close out the Divisional championship over teammate Alan Sciuto with the fast time. From that point on, it was Mandarino, who is also leading the Formula Russell points standings, taking a comfortable win over Vorrath and Jurca.

Bowles finished sixth and won the Divisional championship.

A slim margin of 63/1000's of a second was all that Californian Jacob Neal needed to edge Miles Maroney for the Grand Products Cadet class championship. Billy Scyphers, III of Nevada took the class championship with second and third place finishes while Ryan Phinny and Matt Davis scored the wins.

Patrick Barrett and Steven Cantrell each had a victory in Junior Superbox and Brandon Janson and Nicholas Tonkin did the same in the Junior ICA exhibition class contests.

John Kwong was the class of the field in Rotax Max, taking easy wins both days.

The Stars show runs in Jacksonville, Florida this weekend for the Eastern Division finale. Drivers will be aiming for the Divisional championships and maximum points leading into the season ending national spectacular at California Speedway in November.

9/17/03

Why NASCAR is successful and others not  Jeff Burton's opinion - "There are times in every business and every sport that you go through changes and you go through transition and this is certainly one of those times. The good thing is that people seem to like it. Bill's attitude has kind of rubbed off on me. I've quit complaining about things that are driver specific and team specific, and I'm much more concerned about what's the overall good for the sport because that's what makes our deal work. Bill has beaten that into my head and he's right. He's got the right attitude and that's what has made this sport work. I don't think that will change. I don't think the understanding and the commitment to making this sport accessible and exciting is ever gonna change because that is bred into 'em, that is beat into 'em, and if you don't have that same philosophy you won't be part of NASCAR. As long as that philosophy is alive and kicking, then this sport is just fine."

9/17/03

Jeff Burton's opinion of Brian France  "I have the utmost respect for Bill. He has a genuine passion for this and he mainly has a genuine understanding of what we do. And when I say a genuine understanding of what we do, I'm talking about a genuine understanding of what makes the sport successful. He may not know what a race car driver deals with on a day-to-day basis, nor should that be his concern. His concern should be, 'How do we continue to nourish this sport and make this sport better and more exciting?' I think Bill has a grasp of that and has had a grasp on that for a long time. Competitors can disagree with his opinion, and many times we do, but his mindset is, 'make the racing good, take care of the fans and the fans will come.' The opinion of the competitors comes second and that's frustrating at times, but it's 100 percent the right attitude. That's what separates us from the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball. So I respect him a tremendous amount for growing the sport the way he's grown it. At the same time, I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Brian, and I think Brian is a very intelligent person that has been raised in the shadows of understanding what this sport is all about, and I think Brian will do a very nice job. You don't see Brian around a whole lot, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know what's going on. The other thing is there are a lot of really good people in NASCAR. Bill has been getting a lot of help from a lot of people around him and Brian will get a lot of help from a lot of people around him as well. Bill has continued to give more and more control to people and that will make the transition easier for Brian. There are people already in place that have been helping Bill through the thing. Bill hasn't been the one-man show that maybe he was 10 years ago and I think that will make for an easier transition for Brian to step in and try to do the deal and do it right."

9/17/03

Schumacher fastest at Jerez  Michael Schumacher continued to set the pace in testing at Jerez today (Wednesday).
F1 testing Jerez day 2 (unofficial)
Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tyres Time Laps
1 Michael Schumacher Ferrari B 1m18.470s 107
2 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas B 1m19.235s 100
3 Jenson Button BAR-Honda B 1m20.112s 63
4 Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m20.309s 93
5 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda B 1m20.425s 114

9/17/03
Industry News

RJR laying off 40% of workforce  R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc. plans to slash 2,600 jobs, or 40% of its work force, as part of a restructuring effort aimed at cutting $1 billion in costs by the end of 2005. The No. 2 tobacco company, battered by price wars with discount brands and traditional rivals, Wednesday said it will take a restructuring charge of about $205 million after taxes in the third quarter, primarily as a result of the work-force reduction. The job eliminations will occur over the next year, with the majority taking place in the fourth quarter of 2003 and first quarter of 2004. In a prepared statement, Chairman and Chief Executive Andrew J. Schindler said Reynolds plans to "focus investment behind premium brands with the highest growth potential," specifically its Camel and Salem brand cigarettes. The company plans to make more limited investments in its two other key brands, Winston and Doral, to optimize their profitability. Dow Jones Business News

9/17/03

Olive Garden withdraws from racing  Olive Garden Italian restaurants today issued the following statement concerning its Team Olive Garden sponsorship in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). “Olive Garden has enjoyed many exciting years as a sponsor in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). As our three-year program with the “Team From Tuscany” comes to a close at the end of this season, we wish to thank Gabriele Rafanelli, his drivers and the entire team for representing the Olive Garden brand so well and providing great competition and many memorable moments. In parting from the world of motorsports sponsorship, Olive Garden moves on to new initiatives but we applaud the ALMS for its growth and great popularity. We’re sure that they will continue to succeed in pleasing the fans of sports car racing.”

9/17/03

González to drive for Herdez team  Herdez Competition today announced that they will become the first team in Champ Car history to field two Mexican drivers when rookie Roberto Gonzalez will be entered in the 17th round of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford in Mexico City, Mexico. For this event only, to be held October 10-12, 2003 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Gonzalez will take the reins of the number 4 entry usually driven by veteran Roberto Moreno.   More.....

9/17/03

Roof hatch bulletin to be released  A technical bulletin authorizing installation of safety-escape "roof hatches" is expected to be issued to all competitors today. The new trap doors in the roofs of cars will be recommended but not mandated. Teams probably won't have time to install the systems by this weekend, but majority adoption is expected by the Sept. 28 EA Sports 500 at Talladega. Orlando Sentinel

9/17/03
Sprint Cars

Sprint car driver guilty on sex charges  Johnny Herrera, 37, a sprint car racer who was named World of Outlaws rookie of the year in 1996, pleaded guilty to two sex-related charges in Putnam County Common Pleas Court yesterday. According to Prosecutor Kurt Sahloff, Herrera pleaded guilty to sexual imposition, a third degree misdemeanor, and importuning, a fifth-degree felony. When sentenced, Herrera faces one year in prison. According to police, Herrera of Morrisville, N.C., was in town to race at the Eldora Speedway in June, 2002, when he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl. The incident occurred at the home of Herrera’s friend, with whom he was staying while in town. As part of the plea agreement, the prosecutor asked for a 180-day sentence for the felony and a 60-day sentence for the misdemeanor. Also, it was recommended that Herrera not be required to register as a sex offender. Herrera remains free on the bond he posted in April after he was arrested. Judge Randall Bassinger ordered a presentence report. No sentence date was set.  Toledo Blade

9/17/03

American Spirit Team to increase ALMS involvement  American Spirit Racing president and owner Jon Lewis has today announced plans to enter two cars in the 2004 American Le Mans Series LMP675 category.

"After carefully reviewing the 2004 structuring of the LMP classes, I feel that the LMP675 class will provide us with a tremendous opportunity for a championship victory," stated Lewis.

"We learned an enormous amount this year in LMP900 and we feel that we are now ready to be a formidable contender in the 2004 championship. The ALMS is without a doubt the strongest and most stable road racing property in North America and I am dedicated to being part of its bright future."

Exactly which drivers and cars American Spirit Racing will be campaigning will be announced at a later date. "I have been talking with several very talented drivers who are expressing a strong interest in our LMP675 program for 2004," Lewis continued. "The number one priority is that this program has to be focused on winning the Championship. This was a successful test year, but my sole commitment in 2004 is a championship win. Our drivers and cars will reflect that focus and it will be a premier program that comes out of the box at Sebring with a bang!"

"There are many talented young drivers out there," added Lewis. "And I will continue talking with as many drivers who contact me. It would be incorrect for me to make a rash decision, so I will give it a little while before I decide who will make up our championship lineup. I've already made the decision on the choice of car and engine, but will wait until we announce our drivers to unveil the entire package. I think everyone will be impressed with the new graphics theme and no it won't be white!"

When asked whether current American Spirit Racing drivers Michael Lewis and Tomy Drissi will be involved, Lewis replied: "Michael and Tomy have done a very impressive job this year and have proven that they can wield a prototype around the track with the best of them. I would love to see them return next season, however both Michael and Tomy's plans for 2004 remain uncertain at this time. They both have a long-standing relationship with, and sponsor associations in, Trans-Am and I think they are waiting to see how things pan out there before making any decisions for 2004."

The Riley & Scott MKIIIC currently being campaigned by American Spirit Racing has been sold to individuals who plan to run it in the 2004 ALMS. "I have recently sold the #12 car and the new owners will take possession of the car after Petit," said Lewis. "I am glad that it is going to a team that plans to run in the ALMS next year. I think you will see a good field of competitors in 2004. I will let them make their own announcements on their program when it is best for them."

American Spirit Racing has not ruled out competing in LMP900 class as well. "For the past several months, we have been vigorously working on a strong program with a new car and new sponsor for LMP900 in 2004," Jon further states, "But that is an entirely separate program with lot's of exciting ingredients and will operate out of a completely different location. I can talk more about that after Petit."

Drivers who possess the true desire, dedication and talent to win the LMP675 championship in 2004 and are committed to the entire season, are urged to contact Jon Lewis at 239-540-4277 or via email at amspiritracing@aol.com.

9/17/03

Tuesday F1 test times  

Barcelona:
1. Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes 1m 17.220s 29 laps M
2. David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1m 17.389s 48 laps M
3. Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1m 17.518s 56 laps M
4. Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1m 17.877s 44 laps M
5. Franck Montagny Renault 1m 20.190s 55 laps M

Jerez:
1. Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1m 19.265s 100 laps B
2. Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas 1m 20.211s 62 laps B
3. Ricardo Zonta Toyota 1m 21.110s 75 laps M
Monza:
Two days after Ferrari scooped a 1-3 result in the Italian Grand Prix with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, test driver Felipe Massa got his chance to shine at the historic Autodromo by beginning the next stage of the Scuderia's test program there.

Working on an aerodynamics evaluation ahead of the next round of the world championship, at Indianapolis on 28 September, the Brazilian completed 79 laps under warm and sunny skies, clocking a best time of 1min 22.993secs

Massa completed a total of 79 laps, setting a best time of 1min 22.993secs - which would have been good enough for 14th on the grand prix grid at the weekend - and only then beaten to 13th by one-thousandth of a second..

Ferrari will continue to run Massa at Monza tomorrow [Wednesday], while Michael Schumacher leads the team at Jerez in Spain.

Jerez:

Team Sauber Petronas started its three-day test at the Circuito Permanente de Jerez today [Tuesday].

Nick Heidfeld conducted the first test day and covered 62 laps in chassis 05 to set a best time of 1 minute 20.211 seconds.

He will continue tomorrow before Heinz-Harald Frentzen will take over on Thursday.

Rémi Decorzent, race engineer, commented: "Our test this week will centre principally on mechanical components for the forthcoming 2004 C23, as well as some further aerodynamic development for Indianapolis and Suzuka.

"Today we have worked on the downforce level of Suzuka and the test went without problems. We also evaluated new suspension components which will be used this and next year.

"Tomorrow we will work with Bridgestone on the tire compounds for Suzuka and run a downforce level test with regard to the US Grand Prix next week."

9/17/03
ETCC

Zanardi returns to racing  Alex Zanardi will make a return to serious competition next month, when he will compete in the final race of the European Touring Car Championship season at Monza on October 19. Almost exactly two years ago Zanardi was almost killed in a huge accident at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz oval in Germany, when he crashed his Champ Car and was hit by Alex Tagliani resulting in the loss of both of Zanardi's legs.  "I escaped death by a whisker," said Zanardi. "I set myself the goal of leading a normal life again at some time in the future. Today I can walk, swim, go skiing and on 19 October I will complete my vision by competing seriously in a race. If I manage to keep the pace at Monza, I shall have reaffirmed my faith in myself: if there's a will, there's a way."  The engineers from Ravaglia Motorsport have converted a conventional 320i so that Zanardi can accelerate using the steering wheel and operate the clutch via the gear shift. “When Alex came to us and said he wanted to drive a BMW, we immediately put all systems on go to provide full technical support," revealed team boss Ravaglia, who has been committed to getting his countryman out at Monza since the plan was first mooted. "We have already seen some exciting performances from the telemetry data. His performance is particularly impressive when you reflect on the obvious difficulties and the lack of training. That motivates the team to prepare the car in the best possible way.” BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen is also enthusiastic about the project. “It's an honor for us that Alex is able to make his dream come true in a BMW," he admitted, "We are extremely happy to provide him with the support of all our expertise and engineering skills. His project reflects the BMW Motorsport philosophy of always searching for new frontiers. Whatever the result of the race, Alex has already won though as far as I'm concerned.”

9/17/03

NASCAR may cancel events due to hurricane  UPDATE  Due to the expected drenching and high winds that will accompany Hurricane Isabel as it makes its way north through the mid-Atlantic states, NASCAR and Dover International Speedway have decided to cancel all race activities at Dover International Speedway for this Thursday and Friday. The MBNA America 150 Busch North Series has also been cancelled. However, the good news is that the MBNA America 400 Winston Cup Series race on Sunday, September 21, and the Stacker 200 Presented by YJ Stinger 200 Busch Series race on Saturday, September 20 will run as scheduled. NASCAR and Dover International Speedway officials decided that the forecast for Thursday and early Friday was severe enough to likely not allow any action on the track. But the weather forecast for late Friday and all through the weekend couldn't be better - sunny and approximately 75 degrees. The changes mean that Busch Series racers will have a practice session on Saturday morning from 8-9 a.m., followed by a Winston Cup practice session from 11:15 a.m. 12:30 p.m. The Stacker 200 Presented by YJ Stinger Busch Series race will take place as scheduled at 1 p.m. A Winston Cup Happy Hour will follow a half-hour after the end of the Busch Series race. The Sunday schedule will stay exactly as it is, with the start of the MBNA America 400 Winston Cup race set for 1 p.m. The 43 car fields for both races will be set by owner championship points as per the rule book for each series. That means that the front row for the MBNA America 400 will have points leader Matt Kenseth on the pole, with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. next to him. Patrons who purchased tickets for Friday's MBNA America 150 Busch North Series race will be able to get refunds for their tickets. The track will issue credit back to patrons who purchased Friday tickets via credit card and will issue checks to those fans who purchased tickets via cash or check. The refund checks are expected to all be sent by the end of October. A better option for race fans might be to apply credit from those tickets toward the purchase of tickets for the 2004 Dover International Speedway race season. The Dover International Speedway will be closed entirely to the public on Thursday and Friday (September 18 & 19). Busch Series and Winston Cup Series haulers and competitors are expected to arrive over the course of the day on Friday.   9/14/03 - NASCAR officials will be keeping a close eye this week on the progress of Hurricane Isabel, still located hundreds of miles off the East Coast of the United States as of Sunday evening. The National Weather Service on Sunday predicted the hurricane, which currently has winds upwards of 155 mph, would strike the U.S. coast within four to five days. Isabel's current forecast has it making landfall between North Carolina and New Jersey -- right in the area of next weekend's Winston Cup race in Dover, Del. "Obviously, something like this affects teams as well as fans. We will work with everyone to keep up to date on the latest developments," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications. Team haulers often leave several days before scheduled track activity. Winston Cup and Busch series cars take to the Dover track on Friday morning. ThatsRacin.com

9/17/03

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