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DATE

News (chronologically)

9/29/03

Gentilozzi speaks  Paul Gentilozzi was Dave Despain's guest on SPEED Channel's Wind Tunnel show on Monday night.  Here are some highlights of what Gentilozzi stated.  Outspoken and not worried about always being politically correct, Gentilozzi is like a breath of fresh air.

1.  Drag Racing - Paul started out in  racing as a drag racer, but his love for road racing eventually brought him to Trans-Am and now to CART.

2. CART buyout - "It's really a process determined by the government. We have finished our proxy statement and are in the process of the last couple of details. By the end of the week or Monday of next week, we will send it to the Securities and Exchange Commission for review. Now, they have complete control over it at that point. It could come back for revisions. It could be modified. It could take awhile. We've asked for urgency on their part because the health of the company is critically involved in how quick they review it. Once they review it, and we get an acceptable document to the government, then we send it to the stockholders, they get an opportunity to read it, review it and ask questions about it - and then they vote on it."
3.  Las Vegas Race -  "It doesn't say Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it says Las Vegas. So, we have to be careful here. Deductive reasoning by some takes it to a place where we don't yet have a signed deal. We want to be in Las Vegas. We want to be at the best place for our fans. It could be at the Speedway or certainly it could be a street race. When we put that list of "cities" out, it was to let our teams know where we would be going next year. ... Sometimes the dynamic of where you have a contract and where you run the race can change, but we needed to let people know that we were going to have 16-18 races and we were going to be in those cities."
4. European venues  - did not sound enthusiastic about Europe races.  He made a point to say taking series out of country may not be best thing (Editor's Note: F1 goes out of Europe all the time, if you have a good TV package it does NOT matter where the race is)
5. Jon Vannini - Was asked by a fan how big of a stumbling block is Jon Vannini?  Gentilozzi said Jon is a longtime CART investor.  He was instrumental in bringing Chris Pook in as President.  Paul felt that when he sees proxy statement, he will make his own decision what's best for him. OWRS will not vote 22.9% of CART shares, which represent Forsythe's shares.  They don't want people to think that they won the vote.  51% of the remaining shares must vote in favor of buyout for it to proceed.
6. Talked about MotoRock - "I love the fact that a few guys write something and it turns into a factual basis. MotoRock is more than (concerts). It's about a lifestyle of environments on race weekend. It's about changing some of the entertainment that the fans get. Anybody can do a music concert - well, anybody that knows how. That is not what MotoRock is about. Everybody is in a big hurry to tell us what the concept is. It's going to involve a lot of ambient programming as we go forward that isn't part of every CART event. Some events don't lend themselves to bringing in other kinds of entertainment. Everyone needs to get off that horse that MotoRock is just to bring the concerts to a CART day."
7.  On topic of team owners still owning CART - "We are not from the Old Boys club, " stated Gentilozzi.  "We are investing in this series because we think it is a good investment and it just needs a few things to be fixed to be profitable.  We are not just buying this series as a hobby to have a place to go racing on weekends." 
8.  2004 schedule - Was asked about Brands Hatch.  Paul stated Brands is on schedule because CART has a contract to run there. So do others.  They must work through those and are shooting for a final 16 to 18 race schedule (note: as early as the Mexico City race weekend)
9.  Trans-Am - Needs more sophisticated engines for manufacturers, 4-valve engines but must keep costs in mind.  Could see Trans-Am on oval if cars can be made safe enough.

10.  Gentilozzi on the addition of escape hatches in NASCAR: "John Force and everybody in the NHRA have been using escape hatches for 20 years. I don't think it's that big a deal. Those cars go over 300 mph - everyone should have them."
11.  Gentilozzi on growing CART's television ratings: "Everybody in motor sports has suffered. As the NASCAR ratings have gone up, everybody else that gets time on TV lost ratings. Are we thinking at this time that it is the critical thing behind the health of CART? No. We've got to make better programming. We've got to make something so that people can know when they can watch it and what they are going to see when they watch it. There's got to be a little drama. We've got to tell a better story. ... Just regular ol' green-to-checker programming - they can see that 24-7 on television. They want to know about the people. People are what interest fans. Emotion is what attracts us."
12.  Closing remark
- "if we lose on CART buyout, we'll go down fighting."

9/29/03

Correction  In the Miami race report from Sunday, we would like to correct the following error - "Dominguez and Moreno kept their noses clean all day and rewrote the team record books as they earned the first-ever 1-2 sweep in the long history of the Herdez squad. In fact, no two Herdez drivers had ever finished in the top 10 of the same race before today" ....So far this year, they have five previous events where both drivers have placed in the top 10...
Brands Hatch
Germany
Portland
Montreal
Denver

9/29/03

Gulf Air to sponsor Bahrain race  The Formula One Grand Prix to be held in Bahrain in April 2004 will be called the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.

At a press conference attended by HE Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit and President of the General Organization for Youth and Sport, James Hogan, President and Chief Executive of Gulf Air, and Hans Geist, General Manager of the Bahrain International Circuit, it was announced that Gulf Air is to be the major and naming rights sponsor and official carrier for the 2004 Formula One Grand Prix event to be held in Bahrain.

It is an achievement for Bahrain, and is evidence of the recognition for the Kingdom in the international community.

Commenting on the deal, Gulf Air President and Chief Executive, James Hogan said: "Gulf Air is both honored and delighted to be part of this milestone event in the history of Bahrain and the region. I would like to thank our partners in the Bahrain International Circuit and the Bahrain Motorsport Federation for their support and endorsement during the negotiations leading up to this agreement."

"Over the last year Gulf Air has put its weight behind a number of initiatives designed to boost awareness of and interest in all the things its owner states have to offer, in particular tourism attractions," he said "The first Formula One race in the Middle East provides an attraction of the highest order and at the same time, unprecedented opportunities to put Bahrain on the world map."

He added that Gulf Air will put its extensive marketing resources behind the promotional campaign in order to attract the maximum number of spectators and at the same time to ensure that all the race fans visiting the Kingdom will have a memorable experience. Bahrain GP

9/29/03

Attendance for USGP increases?  UPDATE This IndyStar article reports attendance as over 100,000.  How much over? The article also discusses some of the issues with F1 coverage in the USA.  9/29/03 - Despite a weak economy and rainy weather, attendance for this year's USGP was up from an estimated 120,000 in 2002 to an estimated 140,000 this year.

9/29/03

Tony Stewart files lawsuit  Reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart has filed a lawsuit against Gary McColgin, a 45-year-old Florida native, accusing him of selling fake racing helmets and other non-licensed memorabilia featuring Stewart and his Winston Cup sponsor - The Home Depot.

The lawsuit added to an already long list of charges against McColgin. In June at his home in Woodstock, Ga., McColgin was arrested by Detective Burt Love of the Cherokee County (Ga.) Sheriff's Office for selling fake Rolex watches on E-bay. Specific charges against McColgin include theft and counterfeiting, among others.

Thanks to Stewart's lawsuit, which has been joined by Home Depot, police and the FBI are now investigating McColgin in connection with his alleged sale of fake racing helmets over the Internet. Fake Tony Stewart racing helmets have reportedly sold for over $4,000.

"We've been trying to track this guy down for a while now," said Stewart. "It looks like fake racing helmets weren't the only things he was selling. The fake Rolexes were the first things to get him in trouble, but my management group has been gathering evidence and we've charged Mr. McColgin with selling fake racing helmets.

"I want to be on the record in saying that selling fake racing merchandise of any kind will not be tolerated by me or anyone affiliated with Tony Stewart Motorsports. It's deceptive, and it hurts race fans and teams alike - race fans because they're not getting authentic merchandise for which they paid, and teams who are unable to secure the royalties from racing merchandise so they can't re-invest that money back into the race team.

"Mr. McColgin's antics are about to stop, as are any other persons looking to follow in his footsteps."

The specific causes of action against McColgin regarding the sale of fake Tony Stewart racing helmets include federal trademark infringement, federal copyright infringement, federal false advertising, federal and state unfair competition, and violations of the Georgia Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

The basis for McColgin's arrest regarding the sale of fake Rolexes are: two counts of theft by deception; two counts of theft by taking; possession of tools for commission of a crime; forgery in the first degree; making of a terroristic threat; forgery/counterfeiting of registered trademarks and copyrighted designs; and violation of Georgia RICO statute. Georgia RICO carries up to 20 years in prison, forgery in the first degree up to 10 years, and theft carries up to five years.

McColgin has not yet been indicted, therefore, a date for trial has not been set yet, but it is likely to take place in Cherokee County unless the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office decide to take over the case. In the event the federal government takes over, the case will most likely be tried in federal court in Atlanta.

9/29/03

Seen at Indy   Spotted Arie Luyendyk and Townsend Bell having coffee together at the Starbucks at the Indy airport during this weekend's USGP. Wonder if they were talking about the IRL.  Hmmmm

9/29/03

Seen at Miami - II  Could not help missing Dario Franchitti's agent talking to Paul Gentilozzi this weekend in Miami.  Hmmm.....

9/29/03
ASCAR

Big crowd for final Days of Thunder race proves Rockingham is gaining in popularity   On Sunday 28th September 31,000 people saw Ben Collins lift the 2003 Days of Thunder drivers title, bringing the total number of visitors who have seen the UK's fastest race series at Rockingham this year to over 150,000. "This weekend has been a fantastic end to the Days of Thunder season, with the large crowd creating a real party atmosphere," said Rockingham's CEO Ashley Pover. "If you add all the visitors who have seen Days of Thunder this year to the crowds from BTCC, BSB, Racing Rivals Live and all the track days, conferences, corporate events and Experience days, over a quarter of a million people have seen and experienced the diverse entertainment Rockingham has to offer. We have found a formula of high speed racing action, off track entertainment and live performances by high profile pop artists that has successfully appealed to a wide ranging audience." "We are now looking forward to 2004," Pover continued. "Over the winter we have some exciting announcements that will allow Rockingham to build on our excellent reputation of being THE place for family entertainment in the Midlands and beyond." The 2004 Days of Thunder season kicks off on Sunday 2nd May at Rockingham, with an event on the first Sunday of every month until October at the Northamptonshire circuit.  The average Days of Thunder event gate is around 30,000 visitors, while the recent ‘Racing Rivals Live’ race meeting attracted a record 44,000, the biggest one-day gate for a non-Formula One motor race meeting in the UK.

9/29/03

Bernie wants 2nd USGP  This interview in the Indy Star with Bernie Ecclestone has some interesting quotes about a 2nd USGP:
Q: Do you think you will have a second race in the U.S. in the near future?
A: "Yes, if we find the right one."
Q: Are there any on the horizon?
A: "No."
Q: So why has the U.S. been such an obstacle for you?
A: "The difficulty we have in America is that there are so many things happening. We have one race there and not what I'd call super television coverage. Imagine if we had only one race in Europe, which is the same size as America, how popular we'd be there. Maybe if we had 10 races in America and only one in Europe things would be reversed. It's hard to penetrate the American market anyway."
Q: What surprises you most about the U.S. market?
A: "That we still with our poor television situation get as much coverage as the other open-wheel races in America. It surprises me how few people watch sports in the States as a whole. There are a couple of sports that have big television audiences, but the rest not too much."
Q: The NFL certainly does, and NASCAR, too.
A: "NASCAR's not much, really. What do they get, four million people? (Actually 9 million viewers per race, according to Fox Sports) (The) race in Italy (was) seen by 12 to 14 million people."
Q: You moved the U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis to June for the 2004 season. Was that your decision, and did it backfire somewhat when you took the Canadian Grand Prix off the schedule due to that country's restrictions on tobacco advertising?
A: "That's where Tony (George) wanted it, and that's OK, we've accommodated. Yes, we put it in June because it was good logic with Canada. But I have no idea about (the future) of Canada with us. They're being a little silly, to be honest with you, with their attitude."

9/29/03

CART looking for a replacement for Chris Pook  According to this rpm.espn.com article, Paul Gentilozzi said that they are looking for a replacement for CART President & CEO, Chris Pook.

9/29/03

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9/29/03

Las Vegas not etched in stone  Lisa Gilbert, the sports anchor on KVVU-TV  (Fox 5 Las Vegas) called Chris Powell at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today after reading the 2004 CART race schedule. She reported exclusively on the 10PM News that the track responded with "No Comment" to the CART announcement. Apparently the deal isn't done....yet. Powell says nothing is complete and there are many things to agree on. He hasn't agreed to anything yet.

9/28/03

6-car crash sends Larry Foyt to hospital  Jeremy Mayfield blew a left rear tire nine laps into the EA Sports 500 Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, triggering a multi-car accident that sent six drivers behind the wall and punctured the grille on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Chevrolet.

Mayfield was running near the rear of the field as the pack coursed through Turns 3 and 4, when he said the tire blew, sending his car into the car driven by rookie Larry Foyt.

Both drivers went hard into the Turn 4 wall, and in doing so collected Johnny Benson, Tony Raines, David Green and Jimmy Spencer.

"I was going into Turn 3 and it just started vibrating and dropped down the left rear, must have run over something," Mayfield said. "I knew then I had a tire going down.

"It was just hang on until I went all the way around and spun out. I hate to start a wreck like that. It was weird. Just driving along, trying to be patient, you know. We had a good car. I hate it for everybody else out there we tore up."

Foyt got the worst of the accident. After being checked out in the infield medical center, he was transported to the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center for further evaluation. He was awake and alert, but like Spencer was unable to return to the event.

9/28/03

Valiante wins in Miami, Patrick 2nd  Pole sitter AJ Allmendinger had engine trouble (misfire) before the start and Michael Valiante jumped into the lead from his 3rd starting spot and never looked back to win the Toyota Atlantic race in Miami, the final event of the season.  Danica Patrick finished in 2nd place, her best result to date.  2nd place starter Ryan Dalziel, who wasn't happy about losing the lead at the start to Valiante, finished 3rd. 

For Valiante, the victory was his third of the season (Monterrey, Mid-Ohio, and Miami) and the sixth of his Toyota Atlantic career. It was also his second consecutive podium finish and his sixth podium of the season, as well as his eighth consecutive top four result and his 10th top four performance in 11 starts this season. With the victory, Valiante assured himself of third place in the final point standings, despite the fact that he missed Round 4 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca due to an illness. It was also the second consecutive victory on the streets of Miami for Lynx Racing, as Patrick Carpentier won from the pole driving for Lynx in the last Miami Toyota Atlantic street race in 1995.

With a second place finish, Patrick became the second woman in history to finish second in a CART-sanctioned event, joining Sara Senske, who was the runner-up in a Barber Dodge Pro Series event at Chicago Motor Speedway in 2001. It was Patrick's second podium finish of the season, as she opened the season with a third place result in Monterrey, and was her second consecutive top-five result, following a fifth place run at Denver last month. It was also Patrick's fifth top five result of the season, and it enabled her to claim sixth place in the final series point standings by just one marker ahead of Joey Hand (#27 DSTP Motorsports).

2003 series champion A.J. Allmendinger was philosophical afterwards - “Today was disappointing. Fortunately, and unfortunately, after we fixed the car it ran the best it had all weekend. If we could have started from our pole position and made it cleanly through Turn 1, no one could have touched us. I’m still thrilled though. There’s not one person in this paddock that wouldn’t trade places with me, even though we lost today. This season was just about perfect and the RūSPORT team was outstanding all year. My engineer Burke Harrison just gave me a great car every time. I’m looking forward to next year.”


Winner Valiante, (Left Photo).  Danica Patrick (2nd) with Valiante (Right Photo)
Photos by Bob Heathcote

Results
1. (3) Michael Valiante, Toyota/Swift, 55.
2. (5) Danica Patrick, Toyota/Swift, 55.
3. (2) Ryan Dalziel, Toyota/Swift, 55.
4. (4) Jon Fogarty, Toyota/Swift, 55.
5. (9) Jonathan Macri, Toyota/Swift, 55.
6. (7) Joey Hand, Toyota/Swift, 55.
7. (6) Aaron Justus, Toyota/Swift, 54.
8. (13) Alex Figge, Toyota/Swift, 54.
9. (8) Luis Diaz, Toyota/Swift, 53.
10. (15) Eric Jensen, Toyota/Swift, 52.
11. (1) A.J. Allmendinger, Toyota/Swift, 52.
12. (11) Kyle Krisiloff, Toyota/Swift, 20, mechanical.
13. (12) Alex Garcia, Toyota/Swift, 16, contact.
14. (10) Marc Breuers, Toyota/Swift, 7, contact.
15. (14) Philip Fayer, Toyota/Swift, 1, contact.

Time of Race: 48:05.360.
Average Speed: 78.916 mph.
Margin of victory: 1.209 seconds.
Lap leaders: Valiante, 1-55.
Caution Flags: 3 for 7 laps.

Final Championship standings: 1. Allmendinger, 201; 2. Dalziel, 175; 3. Valiante, 161; 4. Macri, 145; 5. Justus, 123; 6. Patrick, 109; 7. Hand, 108; 8. Diaz, 88; 9. Alex Figge, 87; 10. Krisiloff, 77.

9/28/03

NASCAR 8th most hated sport  According to this AP article, NASCAR is the 8th most hated sport in the USA.  People see NASCAR as red, white and blue -- or as some see it, redneck, white skin, and blue collar -- even if it has broadened its appeal to millions who don't fit that description.

9/28/03

No Sunday qualifying  This Autosport article says, After a meeting involving Formula 1 team principals at Indianapolis, it was revealed that Sunday qualifying has been rejected as a format change for next year.

The suggestion, aimed at spicing up the Sunday on-circuit action ahead of the grand prix itself, met with opposition from the better-funded teams who like to use their drivers for sponsor commitments in the Paddock Club on race day. The schedule would also have been squeezed by fitting in a qualifying session on race day, as well as imposing even heavier demands on race team personnel.

The precise format of the 2004 F1 schedule is still to be decided, as are moves to reduce testing to go hand-in-hand with the single engine rule in curtailing costs. More discussion will be held before the October FIA World Council meeting.

BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen said: "The main aim if you look at the one engine rule and testing restrictions, is to reduce cost. Both approaches offer potential to do that significantly if they are applied in the right way. We are prepared to design and develop an engine for next year that is capable of doing double mileage and now it's important to fix next year's regulations in a way that it really happens, otherwise you won't save money at all.

"We do more testing today than is healthy to the sport. The only issue is that I would prefer every team to be on the same testing scheme. If there is a restriction and everybody has to cope with it, it is a sporting issue and we would go for it. We would support it."

9/28/03

Tony George eyes 2005 for Mexico race Tony George was on the pubic address system at the Indy Speedway yesterday during a break in the F1 action.  When talking about the IRL he brought up the fact that he is hoping to have an IRL race in Mexico in 2005.  We shall see....  Mark C.

9/28/03

***Reader Opinion***Is this where CART is headed?  A reader writes, Dear AR1, Since this is the model of future CART events, I was surprised when looking at the Saturday photos (from Miami) that there wasn't any photos of what must of been a massive crowd watching the qualifications. I didn't get to watch the quals on TV yesterday but I'm sure the main grandstands must of been packed with the 100,000 people expected this weekend. AR1 always has pictures of the grandstands during IRL events. What a great opportunity this weekend to show again where CART is headed. Please put up a photo of the HUGE crowd at yesterday's qualifications for those of us who weren't there and couldn't see it on TV. Thanks, Mike Brown, Indiana  Dear Mike, The heat is so oppressive in Miami this time of year and the humidity so high, it's nearly impossible to sit in the grandstands for more than 15 minutes at a time.  This race needs to move to become CART's finale in late October or early November when it's cooler.  We shall see how the attendance is today, but historically, CART promoted races are not well attended.  CART itself needs to get out of the race promotion business and leave that to the experts like Dover Downs.  Mark C.

9/28/03

CART buyout progressing  UPDATE Some analysis of what was reported in the Autosport story from an attorney who does this sort of work all the time  - "We have the final draft and within a week or so we'll send that proxy statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission for their review," Gentilozzi revealed. "That could take a week or it could take a month because they are a governmental entity. Then that package, in its entirety, goes to the stockholders for review and approval. "

Generally, this is correct, but he is way too optimistic on the timing. The "final draft" he is talking about is really the FIRST version filed with the SEC. From the SEC's perspective, this is the FIRST draft. They look at it and give the company comments and require them to file a revised draft. Then they give more comments, etc. The idea that this process could take a week is pure fantasy. A merger proxy statement like this usually takes 2-3 months to clear the SEC review and comment process. Since this is somewhat of a suspicious looking transaction, the guess is that the review and comment process will take longer than expected. Name withheld by request Dear No Name, we spoke to Kevin Kalkhoven about this who said that the SEC will expedite their review in cases where a company's survival hinges on their timely review.  Mark C.  9/27/03 - This Autosport article says, Another crucial step in Open Wheel Racing Series' attempt to acquire CART is set to unfold in the next seven to 10 days, according to Paul Gentilozzi, one of three principals in the group.

Gentilozzi said Saturday at Miami that the proxy statement being drafted by OWRS to send to CART shareholders is in its final stage of approval. OWRS has offered 56 cents (31p) per outstanding share of stock.

"We have the final draft and within a week or so we'll send that proxy statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission for their review," Gentilozzi revealed. "That could take a week or it could take a month because they are a governmental entity. Then that package, in its entirety, goes to the stockholders for review and approval.

"That will include all of the disclosure of the company's current status and year-end projection. In it are also two ‘fairness opinions' from Ernst & Young and Bear Stearns that are independent companies paid to give their view of the value of the stock."

Gentilozzi added that the stockholder vote could come as early as Halloween and as late as Thanksgiving. The vote will come in two stages – to enable and to approve the deal. In the second vote, the 22.9 percent of CART shares owned by OWRS through partner Gerald Forsythe will be removed from the equation.

"For the second vote, we're not going to vote Gerry's shares so it doesn't appear in any way that there is a thumb on the scale trying to make this deal happen," Gentilozzi said.

Meantime, sources confirmed that CART will issue a tentative 2004 schedule on Sunday in Miami that will contain 15 confirmed venues and five other potential venues but no specific dates. From that list, the definitive race schedule will be capped at 16 to 18 races. Gentilozzi added that he is confident that the revived Champ Car series will attract at least 18 cars.

9/28/03

Ecclestone & Gentilozzi on Wind Tunnel Monday Monday night's SPEED Channel Wind Tunnel show with Dave Despain is not one you want to miss. Guests will include F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone (taped interview) and Trans-Am and soon-to-be CART series owner Paul Gentilozzi.

9/28/03

Stewart falls out of favor with Goodyear?  More on the growing Goodyear tire controversy, following Tony Stewart's angry complaints after losing at Dover. Goodyear officials fanned the debate when they again refused to respond to numerous questions about the issues: Was Stewart correct in claiming that a problem with the freshness of his tires cost him the race? Was crew chief Greg Zipadelli correct that the age of the tires used this season is a significant problem on the Winston Cup tour? Is Goodyear wrong to have special sponsorship deals with some of the top teams? Is NASCAR wrong to give Goodyear a monopoly and then allow Goodyear to make those special deals? Goodyear also declined to respond to complaints by some crews that the top six or seven teams are provided secret technological information unavailable to the other teams. NASCAR stayed on the sideline, but did fine Stewart $5,000 for using foul language on TV. Goodyear is expected to cancel Stewart's tire deal. After a similar tirade, Stewart lost his Goodyear sponsorship for 2002, making him the first to win a Winston Cup championship without a Goodyear deal. Goodyear will return to its 'Born-on' tire dating next season, but Goodyear appears unlikely to reveal its current secret dating codes this fall. Goodyear yesterday was offered the opportunity to confirm or deny Greg Zipadelli's complaint that its Dover tires came from different batches, but the company declined. Goodyear sells on a no-return policy, and NASCAR selects tires at random for each team. So there is an underground economy among Winston Cup crew chiefs who trade tires with each other, trying to match sets. Winston Salem Journal.

9/28/03

Judge awards Earnhardt doctor  Dr. Stephen Bohannon, who tended to Dale Earnhardt at Halifax Medical Center immediately after the crash at Daytona in Feb 2001, was back in court Friday seeking fees from the Gainesville-based Independent Florida Alligator for the time he spent preparing for and giving what his attorney described as "expert" testimony at depositions and at trial. Circuit Judge Joseph Will agreed and ruled Bohannon should receive fees to be determined later. Bohannon testified in a civil trial in June 2001 about the value of autopsy photos, while Earnhardt's widow, Teresa, tried to stave off media requests for access to her husband's photos. see full story at the Daytona Beach News Journal

9/28/03

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9/28/03

Fittipaldi opens Cigar Club in Miami  Emerson Fittipaldi, the legendary former race car driver and current co-owner of a Champ Car Series team, premiered a new concept in entertainment in the celebrated Porcão restaurant in Miami (Florida): the Fittipaldi Cigar Club.

This new venue offers cigar lovers a place to get together to sample some of the finest and most famous brands in the world, including the former Formula One World Champion's brand, Fittipaldi Cigars.

"I am pleased to introduce this new concept," said Fittipaldi. "True cigar lovers can come to Porcão and find a pleasant place to enjoy our products. It is a place where club members, as well as non-members who want to visit us, can share their knowledge of fine tobacco, have a good time, and even make business with their associates."

Fittipaldi said that his first encounter with fine cigars was following the birth of his grandson, Pietro, when he was offered one to celebrate the occasion. For the man who dominated the world's most recognized tracks, the tobacco industry quickly became a new challenge.

The Fittipaldi Cigar Club will be open regularly from 1:00 to 5:00 PM, and then from 6:00 to 11:00 PM in a designated area at the Porcão restaurant, a popular spot for lovers of gourmet food.

"We hope this new space created together between Porcao and Fittipaldi Cigar Club could bring to our clients the unique opportunity of matching a good meal and a selection of premium cigars in the same place."

For those interested, the Fittipaldi Cigar Club offers an annual membership. Members will receive invitations to exclusive samplings and events, discounts on Club merchandise, and a chance to have a personal locker for their cigars. Fittipaldi Cigar Club members will be able to enjoy brands such as Fittipaldi Series, Córdoba, Navegador, Artz Reyes, One Eye Pete, Capricho Cubano, S.T. Dupont and Patoro among other top quality cigars.

The line of first class cigars bearing the name of Fittipaldi is produced by the experienced and renowned manufacturing family of Augusto Reyes in the Dominican Republic, and the union has resulted in the creation of a line of cigars that is sure to be appreciated by even the most demanding cigar aficionado.

For more information about Fittipaldi Cigar Club please contact Mr. Marcelo Nazarian, E-mail: marcelo@fittipaldicigars.com, or via phone at (305) 471 5055. For more information about Fittipaldi Cigars, please visit www.fittipaldicigars.com.

9/28/03

Jaguar announces new Wind Tunnel   Jaguar Racing is today pleased to announce the addition of a new major wind tunnel facility. The DERA wind tunnel (Bedford, UK), formerly used by the Ministry of Defense for aircraft development, will be upgraded over an 18 month period into the latest specification model scale wind tunnel and will make a significant contribution towards the team's 2006 challenger - the Jaguar R7. The team's half-scale wind tunnel in Bicester (UK) which was opened in spring 2002 will continue to function alongside the new facility. Richard Parry-Jones, Group Vice President and Head of Formula One Operations, Ford Motor Company said: "Under the leadership of Tony Purnell and David Pitchforth and integrated support from Cosworth Racing and Pi Research, Jaguar Racing has made clear progress this season and this investment we are making will help cement progress further up the grid. This latest investment will take Jaguar Racing's engineering and aerodynamic capabilities to the next level."  Jaguar Racing has acquired a 123 year lease of the DERA wind tunnel which was constructed in 1954, by the Ministry of Defense (MOD), for the purpose of aerodynamic testing of missiles and military aircraft. The tunnel is located on a site of 15,000 m2, forming part of what was a much larger MOD estate near Bedford, 30 minutes drive from Milton Keynes. The wind tunnel itself covers some 1,600 Sq. Meters and there is an attached four-storey office and workshop of 1,400m2 David Pitchforth, Managing Director, Jaguar Racing said: "Once upgraded to the latest specification, the DERA wind tunnel will be used primarily for model scale work and our plans to utilize a third full scale wind tunnel will be announced in the not too distant future."

9/28/03

Champ Cars grossly overweight  UPDATE  Mr. Hughes writes again, To reiterate, now what does it say that the 250hp Toyota Atlantic cars are capable of actually qualifying within the Champ Car field? Allmendinger's pole would put him just inside the Champ Car grid. How can this be? A Champ Car has 500 more horsepower, yet a good driver in an Atlantic car can qualify on the Champ Car grid? I know the circuit has something to do with it, but come on, this is becoming an embarrassment with all this dumbed down "IRL-like" equipment. I understand the need to cut costs, but to me, this is a sure indication that the Champ Car formula needs to reduce some dimensions and weight. It lumbers around a circuit with 500hp more than an Atlantic car, yet the Atlantic car is much more nimble, more "F1-like," and can actually out-qualify some Champ Cars. I guess I just miss the days of the late 90's where even F1 feared the mighty performance of the Champ Car, but the weight still needs to be reduced. Derek Hughes, Florida  9/27/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, Was the racing surface wet for the Champ Cars and dry for ALMS? What is up with the 2.5 second difference between ALMS pole and Champ Car pole? If they were both in the dry, that is pretty sad, we desperately need something closer to F1 size cars and MORE HP!   Derek Hughes, Florida  Dear Derek, First the Champ Cars were not slower.  However, CART doesn't have tire warmers (dumb) and hence with only two laps to qualify, the drivers never got heat in their tires.  We have been saying for quite sometime now that if CART is going to focus on major metropolitan street circuits, Champ Cars are too big and grossly overweight.  Hopefully in 2005 CART will open up their chassis rules so new cars can be built by the likes of Lola, Menard, Dallara and G-Force and CART will 1) Make the cars at least 200 pounds lighter by eliminating ovals from the schedule and by 2) Making the cars smaller (F1 size),  3) Switch to a gasoline V-10 or a small turbo engine, and 4) Adopt F1 style tires with their small diameter wheels.  CART must carve out its niche in North America as this continent's version of F1 but do it at low cost by putting restrictions in the rules that limit how much the car and engine costs the teams.  CART was at its height when it was thought to be a "relatively" high-tech series with fast cars.  The IRL has chosen to try and mimic NASCAR with its IndyCar series, but that is not what Champ Cars are and what they ever should be.  CART would be wise to let the IRL have their niche (ovals) while making their niche (North America's version of F1)  Mark C.

9/27/03

Seen in Miami - I  Miami resident and former CART driver Tony Kanaan was hanging around the CART paddock this weekend in Miami.  Kanaan is in contention to win the IRL championship.  Photo of Kanaan talking to Jimmy Vasser by Scott Morris/AR1.

9/27/03

Allmendinger grabs pole in Miami  In a dramatic final qualifying session for Sunday's 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama season finale, RuSPORT rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT) jumped from third on the provisional grid and put his car on the pole position for the Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic 100k (SPEED Channel, 12:00 p.m. ET). The pole was Allmendinger's ninth of the season, tying Gilles Villeneuve's 1976 record for most pole positions in a single season.

After placing third in provisional qualifying on Friday, Allmendinger and his RuSPORT teammates made several changes to the car overnight. The changes continued throughout the final qualifying session, and with fewer than five minutes remaining, the 2003 champion clocked a best lap of 47.717 seconds (86.762 mph). That would be enough for Allmendinger to usurp Friday's provisional polesitter Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record) and Michael Valiante (#19 Lynx Racing) and put himself on the inside of the front row for the race. In addition to it being the ninth pole of the season for Allmendinger, the rookie also maintained his perfect record of qualifying inside the top three for every race this year.

Allmendinger's late flyer relegated Dalziel to the outside of the front row, as he was guaranteed a front row starting position owing to his provisional pole winning performance on Friday. However, Dalziel would have qualified second based on speed anyway, as he was second quickest today with a best lap of 47.760 sec. (86.683 mph). It is the Scot's best starting position since he qualified on the pole for Round 5 at Portland, and is his third front row starting position of the season.

Valiante starts third after logging a best qualifying lap of 47.868 sec. (86.488 mph), for his third consecutive top three qualifying performance. It is also the eighth consecutive race that the Canadian has qualified inside the top five, and he has gone on to finish inside the top four in each of those events. It is Valiante's ninth top-five qualifying performance in 11 races this season.

Jon Fogarty (#1 Norwalk Furniture) had the biggest improvement from provisional to final qualifying, as he vaulted himself from 10th on Friday to fourth on Saturday after clocking a best lap of 47.943 sec. (86.353 mph). It will be the third consecutive race that Fogarty has started fourth, as the 2002 Toyota Atlantic champion qualified fourth in his return to the series last month in Denver, and also qualified fourth at Denver to finish out the '02 season. It is the 11th consecutive event in which Fogarty has qualified inside the top four, and is his 13th top-four qualifying performance in 14 career appearances.

Fogarty's Team Rahal teammate Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) fills out the top five on the starting grid after turning in a best lap of 48.052 sec. (86.157 mph). For Patrick, the qualifying performance represents the third time in the past five races that she has qualified inside the top five positions, and is her fourth top five starting spot of the year.

Results

1. (4) A.J. Allmendinger, Toyota/Swift, 47.717, 86.762 mph.
2. (28) Ryan Dalziel, Toyota/Swift, 47.760, 86.683 mph.
3. (19) Michael Valiante, Toyota/Swift, 47.868, 86.488 mph.
4. (1) Jon Fogarty, Toyota/Swift, 47.943, 86.353 mph.
5. (24) Danica Patrick, Toyota/Swift, 48.052, 86.157 mph.
6. (3) Aaron Justus, Toyota/Swift, 48.128, 86.021 mph.
7. (27) Joey Hand, Toyota/Swift, 48.613, 85.162 mph.
8. (33) Luis Diaz, Toyota/Swift, 48.742, 84.937 mph.
9. (84) Jonathan Macri, Toyota/Swift, 49.157, 84.220 mph.
10. (12) Marc Breuers, Toyota/Swift, 49.249, 84.063 mph.
11. (7) Kyle Krisiloff, Toyota/Swift, 49.284, 84.003 mph.
12. (9) Alex Garcia, Toyota/Swift, 49.420, 83.772 mph.
13. (69) Alex Figge, Toyota/Swift, 49.612, 83.448 mph.
14. (8) Philip Fayer, Toyota/Swift, 50.865, 81.392 mph.
15. (2) Eric Jensen, Toyota/Swift, 51.008, 81.164 mph.

9/27/03

The Miami bump is still an issue  As can be seen in these photos by our Scott Morris and Bob Heathcote, the bump in the Miami chicane is still there and really not much better.

9/27/03

Intersport team gets crashed car ready to race  With a helping hand from another team and some mechanical ingenuity, the Intersport team has miraculously effected repairs on the #37 Lola EX257-MG that was heavily damaged in a crash during Friday’s American Le Mans Series qualifying session for today’s Grand Prix Americas. The car will race in the event on the Miami Downtown Street Circuit. Drivers Jon Field and Duncan Dayton are in a tight battle for the LMP 675 class driving championship in the ALMS and their participation in today’s race is vital to their cause. The team was able to reassemble most of the car overnight but had a serious problem with the car’s radiator system due to a shortage of parts. Using ingenuity, team members fabricated some carbon fiber pieces for the radiator assembly from the team’s pitboard sign. Then, they were able to fit and install a radiator that was loaned to them by JML Team Panoz. “We really appreciate what the Panoz guys did to help us,” said Clint Field, team manager for Intersport and driver of the team’s #30 entry. Please credit ALMS/Rick Dole.

9/27/03

New Engineer for Ryan Hunter-Reay  David Brown has taken over as Race Engineer for Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31).  Brown was most recently with Panther Racing (not to be confused with Andy Brown) and before that had over 10 years experience in F1 with teams like Williams.  The guy is really switched on.  Mark C.

9/27/03

CART team owners meeting  Open Wheel Racing Series principals Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi held a meeting with the CART team owners this morning in Miami.  We spoke to Kalkhoven afterwards who said, "We had a very positive meeting.  We will have no problem with car count next year."  He also mentioned that they have not decided whether to keep the current Ford Turbo through 2005, but a normally aspirated V8 is being pushed by some.  If they are going to go with normally aspirated, they would be wise to make it a V10, not a V8.  The V10 will sound better, but more importantly it will differentiate CART from everything else in North America.  The worse thing it could do would be to adopt the same 3.5 L IRL V8.  Should they do that, it will be clear they don't understand their place/niche in the world.  The meeting was also a chance for OWRS to answer questions from the team bosses and give them assurances CART will be there next year so they can complete their sponsorship deals.  Mark C.

9/27/03

Barrichello fast in Saturday AM practice  

Position/Driver Team Fastest Lap
1 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1m11.112s
2 Jarno Trulli Renault 1m11.124s
3 Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1m11.139s
4 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams 1m11.232s
5 David Coulthard McLaren 1m11.355s
6 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren 1m11.493s
7 Olivier Panis Toyota 1m11.758s
8 Mark Webber Jaguar 1m11.800s
9 Ralf Schumacher Williams 1m12.060s
10 Fernando Alonso Renault 1m12.135s
11 Jenson Button BAR 1m12.186s
12 Nick Heidfeld Sauber 1m12.380s
13 Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1m12.671s
14 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber 1m12.680s
15 Jacques Villeneuve BAR 1m12.931s
16 Justin Wilson Jaguar 1m13.275s
17 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan 1m13.458s
18 Ralph Firman Jordan 1m13.749s
19 Jos Verstappen Minardi 1m14.335s
20 Nicolas Kiesa Minardi 1m14.781s

9/27/03

Corvette crashes, will miss Miami race   Factory Corvette driver Kelly Collins had a hard crash at the end of the morning warm-up session for this afternoon’s American Le Mans Series Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com. Because of heavy damage suffered in the accident, the #4 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R that Collins shares with Oliver Gavin will not start the race on the Miami Downtown Street Circuit. Gavin had set the fastest GTS class time of the morning warm-up, turning a lap of 51.692 seconds, prior to the team making a driver change halfway through the 30-minute session. The car crashed in turn 12 and came to rest with the left side against a wall. Although Collins was moving around inside the car, he had to exit from the right side. He was examined and released from the track medical facility. “We had been bottoming out on that bump all weekend, so I was trying to find a different line on it and I squared up to it. When I came down I brushed the right side of the car on the wall. It must have spun me and then I hit hard on the front left.” Collins was examined and released from the track medical facility. “The team installed a composite crash box earlier this season in the roll bars on the left-side door and I can attribute that to why I’m in good shape now,” he said.


Please credit ALMS/Rick Dole.

9/27/03

It's a bird.  It's a plane.  It's a Champ Car!  UPDATE The bump was ground down last night and it is not as severe today, but it's still there.  Mark C.  9/26/03 - We snapped this photo of Patrick Carpentier getting all 4-wheels off the ground in Miami while qualifying today.  The bump in the chicane is that severe.  All three of the top qualifiers said the track is not conducive to Champ Cars.  Mika Salo said, "If it was F1, they would pack up and go home.  The track is too narrow, too bumpy and the rubber off line from the other series here is bad.  There are so many beautiful places in Miami, I'm sure they can build a better track somewhere else."  He compared it to a rally race he drove one time.  Bruno Junqueira said that if they don't fix the bump the cars tub will probably be cracked when the race is over.  "For sure there will be crashes or broken gearboxes Sunday if they don't fix it."  Track officials told AR1 that the bump will be ground down tonight.  Photo by Mark Cipolloni.

9/27/03

Waltrip only one to have hatch  It was Michael Waltrip who helped test the new roof escape hatch system NASCAR has been working on for the last six month or so and it was Waltrip's car that gets to test it out first under race conditions. The #15 is the only car equipped with the new device this weekend at Talladega. Everyone in the garage area gathered around it at one point before inspection to get a look to see how it worked. The hatch, which measures approximately 24 inches by 24 inches on the driver's side roof, is controlled by steel cable pull cords in the cockpit that are connected to a latch system. By pulling on one cable, it will allow the driver to open the exit to the front or rear of the car. By pulling on both cables, it will allow the driver to completely remove the piece. The system is controlled by the driver, but safety crews also will be able to release the system as well, if needed. Jack Roush said their teams had no immediate interest in installing the devices unless NASCAR made it mandatory or if one of his drivers requested one. "We want to see what the hatch will do in actual conditions before we even consider it," said Roush. The kits will be available through independent vendors, will cost approximately $150.00 and will take the teams about 15 hours to install. Gary Nelson displayed the device on TV a couple of weeks ago and the one he demonstrated showed the hatch opening from side to side but the one on the No. 15 car clearly opened from front to back, or back to front. The escape hatch will allow drivers an additional exit through the top of the vehicle should they be unable to utilize the traditional window exit. Insider Racing

9/27/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items  

Honda: No Plans To Pull Plug On F1
F1 News Shorts From Indy: Part 1
Ralf Cuts Pay-Check In Half: Reports
Pizzonia Eyes Return To F1 Fold
Unlikely Praise For Five Times Champion
Rubens Retreats From Team Order Plan
F1 Manufacturers Want Second US Race
F1 News Shorts From Indy: Part 2
Toyota Consider Friday Testing Plan
F1 Teams Support Weekend Schedule Change
Bernie Backs Imposition Of Team Orders

9/27/03

Former American/Japanese F1 BAR test driver seeks CART ride  We ran into Ryo Fukuda Friday in Miami.  Fukuda is a 24-year old former BAR F1 test driver (2002) and he won the French F3 championship in 2001 beating current CART rookie Tiago Monteiro who finished 2nd.  That year he won an impressive 7 out of 11 races.  He's raced since he was 16, and when racing in France learned to speak a third language, French.  His father is Japanese and his mother is American so he speaks English very well.  He even went to school in Ohio for one year.  Unfortunately a F1 seat was hard to come by and with Takuma Sato waiting in the wings to take over if Jacques Villeneuve is released from BAR, his chances of landing an F1 seat were slim, at least right now.  Hence Fukuda is seeking a ride elsewhere, and that elsewhere is Champ cars.  Unfortunately there are no Japanese manufacturers in CART right now to help him land a seat.  He's here just trying to get a test ride with one of the Champ Car teams where he feels his time testing for BAR will allow him to shine.  We asked him about the IRL where Honda or Toyota might be willing to help him but he told us he's a road racer and feels ovals are too dangerous.  Being 50% American may help open up a few doors for him, but also being Japanese could help CART should they return to Asia as rumored.  Last year the Newman/Haas team tested a slew of drivers in a head-to-head competition before settling on Bourdais..  Chip Ganassi has employed that tactic as well with great success.  As CART teams settle on their lineup for 2004, perhaps other teams will realize that the only way to find out if a driver is fast is in a head-to-head tryout.  Fukuda is hoping some teams will give him a chance to show his stuff.  Unknown to many in the paddock he may open more than a few eyes, just like Sebastien Bourdais, Juan Montoya and other unknowns have in the past.

9/26/03

Jaguar unleashes new engine  Rocketsports team owner and Motorock Trans-Am Tour for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup principal Paul Gentilozzi, along with two-time Tour champion Scott Pruett, tested Jaguar’s new 32-valve, overhead cam, fuel-injected 4.5-liter AJ-V8, at a special ceremony held yesterday at Putnam Park Road Course in Brownsburg, Ind. The car took several laps around the permanent circuit there as part of an event held by Jaguar in conjunction with the U.S. Grand Prix Formula One race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Although the engine was tested successfully at Putnam Park, it will not race in Sunday’s Motorock Miami 100. However, it is expected to run in race trim at the season finale, Oct. 26 at the Puerto Rico Grand Prix, under the hood of Pruett’s No. 7 Jaguar XKR.

The engine uses the stock aluminum block and alloy heads from the Jaguar XKR road car. In fact, other than the connecting rods, crankshaft, pistons, injector hat, and ignition system, the engine is completely stock. The engine’s stroke has been shortened, and its bore was widened, raising the stock displacement from 4.2 liters to 4.5 liters for the race engine. The engine weighs approximately 100 pounds less than the current corporate pushrod V8 used in the Jaguar XKR and uses an all-new ignition system developed by Rocketsports and Bosch. It will rev to 9,000 rpms, up from 8,200 in the current engine. It also uses a dry-sump oil system.

“This is the future of the Trans-Am Tour,” said Gentilozzi, a three-time Drivers’ Champion himself. “To be able to make this engine viable, it has to competitive. This is not an exercise in engineering. We know that the current 311-cubic-inch spec will not work in the future. We’re the only racing series that uses it, and it really isn’t what the car companies are developing. No production car is made with a carburetor any more. This engine uses a stock block and heads, and parts are readily available. Plus, Jaguar has a huge history that gets lost a little bit with the current corporate pushrod V8.

“Other manufacturers are interested in this program and that’s really what we’re doing here, looking for manufacturer support,” added Gentilozzi. “This is being done to get more manufacturer involvement. That’s what we’re trying to do here. If you can get two or more competing marques, then you have something.”

“It ran really smooth, had a flat torque curve and wasn’t peaky,” said Pruett, who turned laps yesterday at Putnam Park. “It really was pretty impressive considering this was its first outing, and we were being very conservative. As we put more time and more miles on this engine, it will get more and more competitive. We all remember the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the manufacturer involvement in the Trans-Am Tour was strong, and we had huge car counts. This engine is the start of the Series opening back up, and will bring back the manufacturers. This really is the future of where the Trans-Am Tour needs to be.”

Qualifying is scheduled for tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. The Motorock Miami 100 is scheduled to start at approximately 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 28. The race will air on a tape-delayed basis on SPEED on Friday, Oct. 10 at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

9/26/03

Letter to Racer Magazine  Dear AR1, The following is a copy of a letter sent to the Editors of “Racer” magazine in response to the article “Soul Proprietor” written by Jeff Olson appearing in the November issue. While more balanced than most “the IRL won” pieces Mr. Olson does assert the battle has been won by a Segway riding Tony George and his IRL.

To the Editors – RACER Magazine,
Doesn't ANYONE read Jeff Olson's stuff before it's transmitted to the typesetter (or what ever Intel powered equipment actually does such work in these modern times)? My God! We all know CART had a tough year but to declare Tony George and the IRL “The Winners” given their 2003 PAID event attendance and abysmal ratings, on NETWORK television no less, with all those alleged “Stars” from CART, is pure motorsports sacrilege!

CART isn’t dead yet and the major reason why is CART enjoys a fan base that’s willing to fight for it's survival whereas the IRL has no fan base, ‘cept maybe some NASCAR fans FORCED to buy IRL tickets, ‘cause the growing fan base the IRL had bailed after Tony robbed Paul Tracy of his rightful 500 win. That’s when the motorsports world saw Tony for what he and his vision stand for and that was the day the IRL began it’s agonizingly slow slide (maybe Honda, Toyota, Target and Philip Morris will speed things up a bit at the conclusion of this season) toward bankruptcy.

The only thing The * Grandson and his Crapwagons control is a motor race that has been leveraged into irrelevance since the formation of the IRL which itself has been bastardized into another version of the CART they hated so much. Who do Jeff, “Racer”, the IRL and most importantly Tony George think they’re fooling. The IRL is nothing but a motor sports embarrassment and no true fan of professional motorsports will ever support it.  Respectfully, J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois

9/26/03

Dalziel takes Friday provisional pole  Scotland's Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works/Discovery Lake/Daily Record) threw down a blistering lap of 47.895 seconds (86.439 miles per hour)-a speed that would have placed him 16th on the provisional Champ Car grid-and claimed the provisional pole position for Sunday's Argent Mortgage Toyota Atlantic 100k at the Grand Prix Americas Presented by Sportsbook.com (SPEED Channel, Sunday, 12:00 p.m. ET).

As a result of his performance, Dalziel has guaranteed himself a front row starting position, and perhaps more importantly, moved him a step closer to clinching second place in the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama point standings. Dalziel has already earned his best starting position since taking the pole position for Round 5 at Portland-a race he would go on to win-and if he maintains his position in Saturday's final round of qualifying, it will be his first pole since that race and the fourth of his Toyota Atlantic career.

A familiar face was in the second spot at the end of provisional qualifying, as Canadian Michael Valiante (#19 Lynx Racing) was the day's runner-up with a best lap of 47.946 sec. (86.347 mph). Valiante has started second in each of the last two races, and he has qualified inside the top five in the past seven consecutive races. Topped by his second win of the season in Round 9 at Mid-Ohio, Valiante has not failed to finish outside the top four in any of those events.

2003 Toyota Atlantic champion A.J. Allmendinger (#4 RuSPORT) occupied the third spot on the provisional grid after turning in a best lap of 47.949 sec. (86.342 mph).

 

Results

1. (28) Ryan Dalziel, Toyota/Swift, 47.895, 86.439 mph.
2. (19) Michael Valiante, Toyota/Swift, 47.946, 86.347 mph.
3. (4) A.J. Allmendinger, Toyota/Swift, 47.949, 86.342 mph.
4. (24) Danica Patrick, Toyota/Swift, 48.678, 85.049 mph.
5. (3) Aaron Justus, Toyota/Swift, 48.773, 84.883 mph.
6. (33) Luis Diaz, Toyota/Swift, 48.911, 84.644 mph.
7. (27) Joey Hand, Toyota/Swift, 49.030, 84.438 mph.
8. (84) Jonathan Macri, Toyota/Swift, 49.157, 84.220 mph.
9. (12) Marc Breuers, Toyota/Swift, 49.461, 83.702 mph.
10. (1) Jon Fogarty, Toyota/Swift, 49.506, 83.626 mph.
11. (9) Alex Garcia, Toyota/Swift, 49.936, 82.906 mph.
12. (69) Alex Figge, Toyota/Swift, 50.103, 82.630 mph.
13. (7) Kyle Krisiloff, Toyota/Swift, 50.470, 82.029 mph.
14. (8) Philip Fayer, Toyota/Swift, 51.104, 80.648 mph.
15. (2) Eric Jensen, Toyota/Swift, 51.334, 81.011 mph.

9/26/03

McNish eyes the IRL  In an interview in today's Daily Telegraph, ex-F1 driver Allan McNish stated, "It has always been an ambition of mine to race in the Indianapolis 500 in front of half a million spectators," he said. "I've won the Le Mans 24 Hours, I've raced in the Monaco Grand Prix, and the Indy 500 is the last of the great theatres I have yet to appear in. That said, I feel I have some unfinished business in Formula 1."

"I would like to stay in F1 but only if the circumstances are right," he said. "You can choose to be there simply for the sake of being there even if you're not competitive, but I race to win, not because I find it fun to drive fast. I'd prefer to win in another category of racing rather than stay in F1 just for the glamour or whatever.

"Also, at this stage of my career I would be taking a big risk joining Minardi, for example, with the possibility of not moving up from there. There is no point being at the back of the grid just so you can say you're an F1 driver."

9/26/03

USGP Friday AM practice - Trulli on top in mixed conditions  

Position/Driver Team Fastest Lap
1  Jarno Trulli Renault 1m11.153s
2  Ralf Schumacher Williams 1m11.339s
3  Olivier Panis Toyota 1m11.338s
4  Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1m11.499s
5  Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1m11.656s
6  Fernando Alonso Renault 1m11.692s
7  Mark Webber Jaguar 1m11.794s
8  Juan Pablo Montoya Williams 1m11.842s
9  Kimi Raikkonen McLaren 1m11.876s
10  David Coulthard McLaren 1m11.967s
11  Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1m12.084s
12  Jenson Button BAR 1m12.331s
13  Justin Wilson Jaguar 1m12.387s
14  Jacques Villeneuve BAR 1m12.656s
15  Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan 1m12.849s
16  Ralph Firman Jordan 1m13.167s
17  Nicolas Kiesa Minardi 1m13.537s
18  Nick Heidfeld Sauber 1m13.601s
19  Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber 1m13.881s
20  Jos Verstappen Minardi 1m18.700s

9/26/03

Tobacco legislation to be challenged in Canada  According to this RDS.ca article,
two Québecers are going to court and are due to be heard on Monday, maintaining that both fed and province anti-tobacco laws are unconstitutional and is against freedom of speech and all.  We're sure CART and F1 are rooting for their success.

9/26/03

A&E to do Biography on Mario Andretti Adam Friedman of Traveling Light Media announced today in Miami a deal with A&E Channel to do a 1-hour biography on racing legend Mario Andretti.  This is only the third sports figure that A&E has ever done a documentary on.  The first two being legends Muhammad Ali and Babe Ruth.  That puts Mario in some pretty lofty company and places into perspective what a legend Mario Andretti is, transcending all other American drivers, both past and present.  The show will air starting in February in the USA and be shown in every free country in the world.  The show will tell the story of Mario's rise from an immigration camp in Italy during World War II to an American icon - a true American story.  The show will be about the life of Mario and CART will be a big part of the telecast, because CART has been such a big part of Mario's life.  Actor Paul Newman will narrate the biography as only Paul Newman can.  For those of you who saw the SuperSpeedway IMAX film about the Andretti's and CART, you may not have realized that it was Paul's voice you heard.  Friedman said, "I have been a fan of Mario and of CART for a long time, and I am glad to be able to give something back now."  One interesting tidbit about Friedman, his mother, Marie Torre, was the first journalist to go to jail because she refused to reveal her sources on a controversial story to the FBI.  After getting out of jail she became the Editor of a NY magazine and rose to fame in journalism.  

CART Press Release: One of the living legends of Champ Car racing will break new ground on the award-winning Arts & Entertainment Network (A&E) as former CART champion Mario Andretti becomes the first race driver to be profiled on the network’s successful BIOGRAPHY series.

The former champion will be profiled in an episode to be produced by Adam Friedman and Traveling Light Media, with filming and interviews to begin at this weekend’s Grand Prix Americas Presented by Sportsbook.com. The winner of 67 Champ Car poles, 52 races and four championships as well as the Formula 1 World Championship in 1979, Andretti will join such legends as Muhammad Ali, Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth as one of the few sports figures to be profiled on the network.

“The sports figures we have profiled are true icons, recognizable to people all over the world, even those that don’t follow sports. Mario is in the same league,” said BIOGRAPHY Vice-President Deirdre O’ Hearn. “We’re also very pleased that Adam Friedman and his team are producing Mario’s Biography. Mario Andretti deserves the best effort we can give and that’s why we’ve asked Adam and Traveling Light to produce the piece.”

Andretti has maintained a major presence in the CART Champ Car World Series in recent seasons, previously holding a seat on the Board of Directors and most recently serving as a liaison to help get this year’s Champ Car event at Road America back on the schedule. He was honored for his successful efforts in restoring the race, as the event was renamed as the Mario Andretti Grand Prix of Road America Presented by Briggs & Stratton.

9/26/03

Rookies fastest as Tracy & Junqueira crash The first practice session for the Champ Cars had everything… Light rain to keep the drivers honest, and six red flags. But as rookies took the top three spots, two of the drivers to make contact with the unforgiving Miami walls were Paul Tracy and Bruno Junqueira: the main two title contenders. Perhaps the pressure is starting to show!  Photo by Bob Heathcote/AR1.

Sebastien Bourdais was fastest in the opening practice session in Miami. Despite light drizzle throughout the session, the Frenchman clocked the quickest time of 56.186s (73.684mph). The Newman/Haas Racing Lola-Cosworth driver was the first of three rookies on the time sheets, with Darren Manning in second on 56.466s (73.318mph) in the Walker Racing Reynard-Cosowrth and Mika Salo, in only his second Champ Car event, in third in the PK Racing Lola-Cosworth.

Fourth quick was Michel Jourdain, one of the outside contenders for the title, and another to cause a red flag 23 minutes into the session. The Mexican's best was 56.868s (72.800mph). Adrian Fernandez completed the top five with 57.029s (72.595mph), but had a late session spin legacy of some mechanical problems.

As for the title contenders... Junqueira ended the session in 16th position having hit the inside wall hard enough to break his front suspension, but also to move the wall which had to be repositioned by the course workers.

Tracy, the championship leader, completed only eight laps before getting sideways while trying to pass Oriol Servia, and hitting the wall pretty hard, ending his session.

With the Miami race using single qualifying rules, Tracy will be at a major disadvantage, although his only consolation is that Junqueira's qualifying run comes two cars after his own. With the weather as unpredictable as it is, conditions will at least be similar for the pair.

9/26/03

Friday AM testing at Indy  

POS DRIVER NATIONALITY ENTRANT TIRE TIME
1. JARNO TRULLI Italy Renault M 1:10.986
2. FERNANDO ALONSO Spain Renault M 1:10.987
3. ALLAN MCNISH Britain Renault M 1:11.253
4. MARK WEBBER Australia Jaguar-Cosworth M 1:11.586
5. JUSTIN WILSON Britain Jaguar-Cosworth M 1:12.142
6. GIANCARLO FISICHELLA Italy Jordan-Ford B 1:12.263
7. RALPH FIRMAN Britain Jordan-Ford B 1:12.762
8. GIANMARIA BRUNI Italy Minardi-Cosworth B 1:13.129
9. JOS VERSTAPPEN Netherlands Minardi-Cosworth B 1:13.196
10. NICOLAS KIESA Denmark Minardi-Cosworth B 1:13.655
11. BJORN WIRDHEIM Sweden Jordan-Ford B 1:13.678

9/26/03

Home Depot extends with Joe Gibbs Racing  The Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement retailer, has extended its contract with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) through 2009 as primary sponsor of the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet driven by reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart.

Home Depot's extension parallels Stewart's new contract with JGR, ensuring Home Depot's involvement with JGR and Stewart well into what will soon become the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.

"Home Depot is pleased to extend its relationship with a partner that mirrors our culture. Winning 16 races and a national championship requires a team that has a passion for leadership, performance, and attention to detail. On behalf of our 315,000 Home Depot associates, we look forward to six more years of a great partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing and Tony Stewart," said John Costello, executive vice president for merchandising and marketing of The Home Depot.

"The growth and success of our race team wouldn't have been possible without the support of The Home Depot," said Gibbs, who formed his race team more than 11 years ago. "Home Depot's drive to win is just as strong as ours, which is why there's so much pride built into those orange and black race cars. Our relationship with Home Depot allows us to perform at our best week in and week out, something that will continue for many years to come."

"In my 23 years of racing I can honestly say that Home Depot has been the best sponsor I've ever had," said Stewart. "The support they've given to our race team has been excellent, and it's great to know that Home Depot will continue to be a part of our efforts to win more races and another championship."

9/26/03

Last race for Players Logo UPDATE  In the 42 years that it has been involved in motor-racing, Player's Ltd., has always wanted to make the fans feel they were an integral part of the program's success. Racing fans are about to see tangible evidence of this sentiment as Team Player's runs its final races on the 2003 Champ Car World Series schedule.

"We wanted to find an original way to thank the fans for their support, and we have decided to convey our appreciation by allowing them to inscribe their name on the cars of Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier," said Michael Bonelli, Sponsorship Associate for Team Player's.

With three races left on the schedule in which Team Player's will be going without its traditional logo because of the October 1 legislation banning tobacco sponsorships, fans will be invited to sign up on the lastlap.ca web site for an opportunity to be among those literally aboard one of the Team Player's cars for races in Australia and Fontana.

"This initiative will be officially launched on the weekend of the race in Mexico, where the only major graphic element on the car will be the lastlap.ca web site address," explained Bonelli. "We encourage people to sign up as early as possible since space is limited, but we estimate about 1,200 fans (600 per car) will see their names go on one of our cars."

Along with the names of racing fans, the cars will have other graphics, such as "Thanks" and "Merci" messages on the sidepods of the cars and "Good-bye" and "Au revoir" on the rear wings.

The drivers and crew will also be sporting new suits and shirts bearing the words "Racing Excellence" to highlight the tradition of excellence of the Player's racing program since its debut in 1961.

 9/26/03 -  It's been four weeks between Champ Car World Series races for Team Players drivers Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier but the month-long break in the action hasn't dulled their intensity leading into Sunday's 135-lap Grand Prix Americas on the 1.314-mile Miami street course.

The Miami race is highly significant in the history of Team Players because it is the last time the familiar blue and white Team Players cars will bear the Players logo. The full extent of Canadian government legislation banning tobacco sponsorship comes into effect on October 1, and Players, which is ending its sponsorship following the 2003 season, will be running without the Players logo for the last three races. Team Players will announce shortly what design features it is planning for its cars for the final three events.

9/26/03

Friday morning results   The ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 of Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto led the way Friday morning as American Le Mans Series teams had their first practice session on the Miami Downtown Street Circuit for Saturday’s Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com. Meanwhile, JML Team Panoz suffered a double setback when both of its cars were damaged in separate incidents. The #11 Panoz LMP01 driven by Gunnar Jeannette received the most damage when it spun and impacted a barrier in turn four, while the #10 car’s rear wing had minor damage from an on-track altercation. Herbert was in the Champion Audi when it was clocked at 50.731 seconds around the 1.15-mile temporary circuit that includes portions of Bayfront Park and Biscayne Boulevard. His fast lap was just ahead of the 50.748 turned by the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 of Frank Biela and Marco Werner. Third fastest overall and in the LMP 900 class was the #10 Panoz of Olivier Beretta and David Saelens at 52.412. Leading the LMP 675 class was the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-MG of James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger at 53.012, fourth overall. Second-fastest in class was the Dyson team car driven by Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace at 53.875, followed by the Intersport Lola-MG of Jon Field and Duncan Dayton at 55.301. Fastest in the GTS class was the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins at 53.318, followed by the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello of Tomas Enge and Peter Kox at 53.851. The Team Olive Garden Ferrari of Mimmo Schiattarella and Emanuele Naspetti was third in class at 54.045. The GT class was led by the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen at 54.979, followed by the Orbit Racing Porsche of Peter Baron and Marc Lieb at 55.246. Third in class was the Risi Competizione Ferrari 360 Modena of Ralf Kelleners and Anthony Lazzaro at 55.366.

9/26/03

Severe transition  We were observing the ALMS cars racing through the new chicane in Miami that leads onto the main straight and noticed the severe transition in pavement as the cars cross over from one side of Biscayne Blvd. to the other.  It's so severe that the cars are getting all four wheels off the ground and landing with sparks flying.  What makes it particularly hairy is the fact that the cars are turning right just as they land.  Can you say broken half shafts or an accident begging to happen? It's wet for the Champ Cars right now so they are going slower, meaning the transition is not as much a factor....yet. Photo of car landing, back wheels first, by Mark Cipolloni.

9/26/03

Wet track in Miami  Its been raining here in Miami for all the morning Champ Car practice and there are a lot of standing puddles on the track.  Paul Tracy just hit the concrete barriers in the chicane leading onto the main straight.  He's OK, but the car is not. Visibility is limited, but they are on track and running.  The forecast is for rain off and on all weekend.

9/26/03

Pearl Vodka Partners with Pacific Coast Motorsports   Pearl Spirits, Inc. maker of Pearl Vodka, has announced a team sponsorship with Pacific Coast Motorsports and driver Alex Figge who competes in the CART Toyota Atlantic Series. In a move designed to broaden Pearl Vodka’s reach to the vast Motorsports audience, the Pearl Vodka brand will adorn Pacific Coast Motorsports Toyota Atlantic entry commencing at the CART / Toyota Atlantic event in Miami September 28th.  The partnership deal begins immediately and will see the Pearl Vodka brand emblazoned on Alex Figge’s Toyota Atlantic Swift.   “This is quite an honor for our race team,” states Tyler Tadevic, Pacific Coast Motorsports President. “Pearl represents an ultra premium Vodka and has a Fast Track marketing campaign we are proud to display their logo. The fact that this deal blankets our program is very rewarding. To compete at the championship level you need partners like Pearl”.  Eric Hall, Pearl Vodka’s CFO states, “We’re excited to form a business partnership with Pacific Coast Motorsports and driver Alex Figge, the Atlantic series also represents a number of fine companies and we feel at home joining the likes of Toyota and CART . We see many marketing and promotional opportunities with the Toyota Atlantic series, Pacific Coast Motorsports and the markets in which they compete”.   Toyota Atlantic pilot Alex Figge agrees. “We’re thrilled to add the Pearl Vodka brand to our race team”. Said Figge. “This series provides a great opportunity for a company like Pearl Vodka to expose their brand to the growing markets Atlantic competes in and we’re excited about creating a long term relationship”.  Pearl Spirits, Inc. and Pearl Vodka a Mill Valley, CA based incorporation. Pearl’s mission of being the world’s best tasting and purest Vodka. Since its introduction in 1999 Pearl Vodka has garnered praise and industry acclaim and can be found at the finest restaurants and retail liquor outlets.

9/26/03

Indy walkabout draws big crowd   UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, I believe there were more people who attended the pit tour than attended pole day this year. There was more traffic and more people milling around the speedway on Thursday( a work day) than I saw on pole day for the Indy 500. Scott Peper, Indianapolis, IN. Dear Scott, That's not surprising, because of the damage that has been done to the Indy 500 by the creation of the IRL. Mark C.  9/25/03 - This Indystar.com article says, The first U.S. Grand Prix "walkabout" received generally high marks Thursday even though a larger-than-expected turnout created more waiting than walking. Early-morning traffic getting into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was jammed up and the situation didn't improve much once inside as fans jostled for a look at the stars and cars of Formula One. "Ferrari put on a good show, but you couldn't see any of it," said Karen Beckley, who with her husband, Rob, moved their flight from Reno, Nev., up a day specifically to attend the walkabout. Added her husband with a grin: "It was like being in a European crowd. You just had to be a little pushy to get up front." The pit area was open from 8 a.m. to noon. Doors were up on the majority of team garages, and fans -- most armed with cameras -- gathered along a metal fence about 25 feet away to view what they could of the activity inside. Team officials and crewmen seemed to enjoy the attention and many interacted with the fans. Several drivers, including marquee stars Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, spent a few minutes signing autographs. Schumacher's Ferrari team was the star attraction, but the Beckleys said Toyota did the best job entertaining its guests. "Ferrari is still No. 1," Karen Beckley said, "but Toyota is the next team we'll root for from now on. They showed a lot of respect for the people there." Clarence Yancey and Murray Elliott of Springfield, Ill., came a day earlier than planned. Both expressed surprise at the turnout. "I'm a little disappointed that it's so crowded," Elliott said, "but this is the closest I'm ever going to get to these cars." Many were hoping to get closer. Roger Copas of Indianapolis and Ron Rumble of Speedway said they would like to have seen the teams provide show cars. Rumble also lamented the fact that concession and souvenir areas were closed. But both still found the visit worthwhile. "I'm tickled to death they opened it up as much as they did," Rumble said. Speedway spokesman Ron Green didn't have a crowd count but conceded it was larger than anticipated. Since it was a first-time event, no one knew what to expect. "If allowed to do it again, we'll be better prepared to handle this kind of crowd," Green said. "But drawing this well on a Thursday, that's a good problem to have." More . . . , including Michael Schumacher in Las Vegas, the French Grand Prix that could be dropped, and Juan Pablo Montoya racing against John Force in an exhibition.

9/25/03

Dover final TV rating   The Winston Cup race from Dover on NBC garnered final numbers of a solid 4.2 rating and 10 share, according to Nielsen Media Research. The race drew 4,591,000 households, which is 27% higher than last year's household reach on TNT. The race peaked with a 5.2 rating and 12 share from 4:30-5 p.m.

Of course, however, year-to-year comparisons are apples-to-oranges because of the move from cable to broadcast for Dover. Last year's two comparable races on NBC were New Hampshire and Kansas City, which garnered a 3.7 and 4.4, respectively.

The ratings strength is shown by the fact that NASCAR lost out in the numbers game only to four NFL broadcasts, but beat all of the college football telecasts for the weekend. MotorsportsTV.com

9/25/03

Kanaan and Hornish transcript  This week's guests on the IRL weekly teleconference were championship contenders Tony Kanaan (Andretti Green Racing) and Sam Hornish Jr. (Panther Racing).   Transcript

9/25/03

F1 still spinning wheels in the USA  This St. Petersburg Times article says, The Indy 500 draws 250,000-plus and generates $336.6-million annually, according to an Indy Partnership study. The Brickyard 400, attracting more than 250,000, is worth $219.5-million annually. The Grand Prix drew about 125,000 last year and is worth an estimated $170.8-million, but the estimated 2002 crowd was well less than the 200,000 who saw the race in 2000 when it returned to the United States for the first time since 1991. Still, the 2002 attendance figure put the Indianapolis event among the F1 circuit's top draws. The question is whether the Grand Prix is financially worth keeping for IMS' owners, Hulman & Co., even though it financed a 2.6-mile road course specifically for Formula One. Promoters pay a sanctioning fee to host F1 races, estimated between $7-million and $12-million by the Indianapolis Star, and are responsible for travel costs incurred by the 10 European teams. NASCAR Winston Cup events command just a $5-million fee, the Indy Racing League $1.5-million, and those circuits pay their travel costs. Bernie Ecclestone, who owns the rights to market Formula One, typically has signed five-year deals with tracks. The race this weekend would be the fourth at IMS. George would not comment on the length of the contract. More ...

9/25/03
ETCC

Zanardi back on track   This Toronto Star AP article says, MONZA, Italy — Alex Zanardi returned to the track again Thursday, two years after losing both legs in a crash. Driving a specially modified BMW 320i touring car, Zanardi completed 20 practice laps at the Monza Formula One circuit. Thursday's practice laps came in preparation for the Oct. 19 FIA European Touring Car Championship race in Monza. Zanardi announced last week he plans to enter the race. The Italian driver lost both legs in a horrific crash with Canadian Alex Tagliani during a CART series race in Germany on Sept. 15, 2001. "I don't feel like a professional driver," Zanardi said after the session, which concluded when his car suffered motor problems. ``I'm racing here, then that's it." Zanardi, whose car has its accelerator and clutch attached to the steering wheel, ran times consistent with other drivers in the touring series. "It's a great feeling to race again at Monza," said Zanardi, whose last race at this circuit just outside Milan was for the Williams team in the 1999 Italian Grand Prix. "It takes more time in a touring car than a Formula One car though." Dr. Claudio Costa, who has overseen Zanardi's rehabilitation since the accident, said Zanardi was letting "all the people in his condition know what they can do.  His example sends a message to humanity," Costa said. Zanardi was not unhappy when he declared that "this is my last race." "There are plenty of things I do now beyond the track," the 26-year-old said. "I'm able to do all the things that normal people do. I put my son Nicolo up on my shoulders. I feel like a normal person." Asked if he had any worries about racing again, Zanardi replied: ``I race because I enjoy it. And I know I could never have another accident like the one I had. I can't break both of my legs again. I don't have any legs."

9/25/03

Last years USGP finish an accident   This Indystar.com article says, Five-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher says the end of last year's U.S. Grand Prix was an accident. The race leader insists he did not intend for Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello to pass him just ahead of the finish line at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But after Barrichello won by 0.011 seconds, Schumacher accepted it as payback. In the sixth race of the season, in Austria, Barrichello pulled over at the end upon orders from the team so Schumacher could earn the extra four points for winning. Barrichello finished second. Both sequences created a backlash from passionate and casual F-1 fans alike. "I can understand there is confusion (about the U.S. finish) because it simply was confusing," Schumacher said. "But there was nothing done on purpose then. I just wanted Rubens to come beside me and us cross the line together. But I have to admit that when it happened that Rubens came in before me, I personally was not so unhappy about it as I felt I owed him something after Austria." Schumacher said he does not believe he tainted F-1 or future USGPs. During the off-season, F-1 instituted a rule prohibiting teams from altering the outcome of finishes. "I think people who follow Formula One had some understanding for it," he said. Include Barrichello among them, although the Brazilian was not initially sure what Schumacher was doing as he slowed dramatically on the front straightaway. The drivers didn't discuss it after the race and haven't since. "I saw Michael backing off like he was trying to let me by, but I wasn't certain that's what he was doing, so I backed off a little more," Barrichello said. "Then I thought he was giving me (the position) because of Austria. It was as simple as that. I was going to ask him, but when we got out of the car it seemed very clear."

9/25/03

Fellows to drive hurt   As professional athletes have to do in many other sports, Ron Fellows will have to “play hurt” in Saturday’s American Le Mans Series race in Miami as the popular Canadian racer seeks to clinch his second consecutive GTS class driving title.  Fellows, driver for the factory Chevrolet Corvette team, suffered a separated left shoulder in a rock climbing accident last weekend. He was treated during the week in Indianapolis by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Terry Trammell and hopes to be able to race in Saturday’s two-hour, 45-minute event on the Miami Downtown street circuit. As a precaution, the Corvette team has brought in veteran sports car racer Andy Pilgrim and added him as a third driver to the car for the race.  Fellows and regular co-driver Johnny O’Connell can clinch the GTS driving title together if they finish ahead of their team Corvette driven by Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins. Pilgrim, one of the original drivers when the factory Corvette team was formed, has raced in only long-distance events this year while traveling the world as a spokesman for the 50th anniversary of Corvette. American Le Mans Series teams will have practice and qualifying Friday, with the Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com event to start at 4 p.m. (EDT) Saturday.

9/25/03

Biffle staying at Roush   "Take me out of the rumor mill," says Greg Biffle. "I have won two championships and two rookie titles with Roush Racing and for Grainger, and my hope is simply to stay here to try and win more championships for Grainger and for Jack Roush." With that statement Biffle hopes to end "silly season" speculation about his future. "I have time remaining on my current contract and we've begun negotiations for an extension," added Biffle. "At this point in the season, the rumors start to fly about which driver is doing what for next season even when he's under a contract that he intends to honor. It's way too easy to start a rumor these days. I've had a few calls about going other places, but I'm just not interested in doing so. It's very flattering to have big name teams calling me at this point in my career, but I'm driving for one of the biggest names in the industry that has a team of racing and marketing people committed to helping further my career and reach my potential." Roush Racing PR

9/25/03

USGP Thursday Press Conference  

Drivers:
Fernando Alonso (Renault)
Cristiano da Matta (Toyota)
Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams)
Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren)
Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
Jacques Villeneuve (BAR)  Transcript

9/25/03

Stewart to be honored at USGP   Formula One legend Sir Jackie Stewart will be honored Sunday, Sept. 28 by driving ceremonial laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course shortly before the start of the United States Grand Prix.

Stewart will drive the high-performance Ford GT concept car at 11:30 a.m. (EST, -5 GMT) on the 2.605-mile road course – just 90 minutes before the start of the United States Grand Prix.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Stewart’s retirement from competitive driving. The fourth running of the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis starts at 1 p.m.

Stewart, a native of Dumbarton, Scotland, competed in Formula One from 1965-73 and was World Champion in 1969, 1971 and 1973. He started 99 Grands Prix and scored 27 victories and 17 pole positions.

His driving prowess earned him the nickname, “The Flying Scot.”
Stewart also competed in the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race twice, in 1966 and 1967. In his rookie “500,” Stewart led 40 laps toward the end of the race but was relegated to a sixth-place finish due to mechanical problems. His impressive drive earned him Rookie of the Year honors.

He has maintained one of the highest profiles in international motorsports since retiring by serving as a television commentator, motorsports safety promoter and Formula One team owner with Stewart Grand Prix from 1997-99.   The Ford Motor Company purchased the team from Stewart and re-branded it Jaguar Racing before the start of the 2000 F1 season.

9/25/03

Panis Sr. arrested in France   Olivier Panis's father Philippe has been arrested, along with 13 others, on charges of being involved in a ring selling stolen cars. Panis was arrested at his garage in Grenoble on Tuesday by investigators from Marseilles. He was charged on Wednesday. The prosecutors are claiming that Panis was part of a group selling Mercedes-Benz 4x4 vehicles stolen in Switzerland.  Grandprix.com

9/25/03

Andretti Green to announce 2004 plans  Andretti Green Racing will announce their 2004 7-Eleven race team plans on Sunday morning October 12th at Texas Motor Speedway.

9/25/03

IRL overnight TV rating tanks at 0.6  UPDATE As expected the final rating for the IRL race at Fontana dropped from the overnight.  The IRL race from California on ABC finished with a 0.6 rating and 1 share, according to Nielsen Media Research. These numbers represent 705,000 TV households. The race was the lowest-rated sporting event of the weekend, finishing behind the Women's World Cup soccer match (0.9) and the Gravity Games (1.9). The only good news for the IRL, if you can call it good news, is that the rating was up 0.1 from last year's race, but that was on ESPN not on network TV as it was this year.  9/22/03 - 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.]

IRL TV Ratings Trend

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

Richmond (ESPN) 0.48 (Down 20%)

Kansas (ABC) 1.2 (Down 7.7%)

Nashville (ESPN2) 0.3 (Down 40%)

Michigan (ABC) 1.0 (Down 16.7%)

Gateway (ABC) 0.70 (Down 6.7%)

Kentucky (ABC) 0.8 (Down 11.1%)

Nazareth (ESPN) 0.6  (Down 54%)

Chicagoland (ABC) 0.8 (Down 27%)
California (ABC) 0.6 (Up 20% - ESPN last year)

9/25/03

Jeff Burton discusses hot topics in NASCAR   The NASCAR Winston Cup season is drawing to a close but there are still plenty of “hot topics” being discussed in the garage. Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 CITGO Ford, and one of NASCAR’s more outspoken drivers took some time to discuss several of these issues. Here’s a look at some “hot topics” through the eyes of Burton.

Talladega Rule Changes – NASCAR has called for the height of the spoilers to be increased *” and the restrictor plates will also be larger. How will this affect competition?

“I don't understand why they made the change. Supposedly it's to make passing easier but until they separate the cars into smaller packs it won't be. You have to make handling easier and the way to do that is to take one pack of 43 cars and make several smaller packs. Then we would be able to pass which in turn would make for a better race.”

New Caution Rule – NASCAR has eliminated racing back to the yellow flag. They have also put in the caveat that the first car one lap down would get a lap back. What are your feelings about this now that there is one race under your belt with the new rules in place?

“It was obvious the gentleman’s agreement hadn’t been working. NASCAR is the only one who could do anything to fix it. I applaud them for recognizing we had a problem and stepping in to do something about it. I think the rule made for a safer race at Dover. That being said, I knew there was eventually going to be a problem with getting a lap back but I didn’t think it would happen that soon. I think it’s obvious that it’s not the right thing to do. It was a little frustrating to be quite honest. There were drivers one lap down who got their lap back by doing nothing. It’s our own fault though. We wouldn’t abide by the gentleman’s agreement so this is what we get.”

Safety and Safe Barriers – With the addition of the safe walls at tracks like Richmond and New Hampshire, can you describe what this means to the overall safety of the sport? Do you think it’s progressing at a rapid enough pace?

“It means a lot. In the initial stages the focus was around the driver, seats, head restraining systems, helmets, and those kinds of things. This is the first major thing that we’ve seen done at racetracks with regard to safety in quite a while. Racecars, racecar seats and helmets have been continually evolving over the last several years but racetracks have not. Until now the racetrack technology has not been progressing like racecar technology with regards to safety. I think installing the safe barriers sends a message to everyone that whatever it is that you’re doing, to whatever extent you participate in this sport, you need to look at how to make it better on your end, not just wait for someone to make it better on their end.”

Points Championship – Your teammate Matt Kenseth is currently leading the points battle. What are your thoughts on this?

“Of course I’d rather it be me. But seriously I think it’s great. Matt (Kenseth), Robbie (Reiser, crew chief) and the entire No. 17 team have worked extremely hard to get where they are today. Some people like to talk about the fact that they’ve only won one race this year and Ryan (Newman) has won like seven I think, but the fact of the matter is they’ve been consistent. They’ve consistently run in the top 10 and finished in the top 15 week after week. I think someone told me Matt’s completed all but two laps this year and that’s incredible. I’m really proud of Matt and I think it’s great that they are doing so well. I hope they can hold on for these last few races.”

9/25/03

Bruton Smith on Wind Tunnel   Bruton Smith, Chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., will be Dave Despain's guest Tuesday (Sept. 30) at 9 p.m. ET on SPEED Channel's Wind Tunnel.  Monday's guest will be Paul Gentilozzi, a key player in the future of CART and Trans-Am.  Send your e-mail questions to windtunnel@speedtv.com or call 1-866-W-TUNNEL
to be a part of the live call-in portions of the show.

9/25/03

Gentilozzi to appear on Wind Tunnel  Paul Gentilozzi is scheduled to be on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on Monday (9/29). Could there be an announcement this weekend regarding the future of CART?   This sounds interesting because Dave has said before, that they were trying to line up the people purchasing CART to be on the show, but they couldn't appear because of the purchasing of CART was still on going. Perhaps something may be up, but more likely Paul will use the opportunity to explain the goals of the new CART owners. We will see!

9/25/03

MotoRock to add other activities  MotoRock hopes to add paintball and robot wars and other activities to at least a dozen races or so to appeal to a younger generation that follows extreme sports, MotoRock President Jamie Rose said.

Rose doesn't see the added activities as detracting from racing but rather enhancing it. He said the concept starts with the racing and its colorful drivers, but the extra activities add some spice that will be the only attraction for some and for others, just an additional one.

Rose compares the concept to a polo match.

"People who go to a polo match, more than half of the audience doesn't pay attention to the match," Rose said. "You've got to get them in the door the first time. It's our feeling if it's music or paintball wars that attract first-time onlookers, the audience is going to come for the excitement. If it takes music to get them in there, so be it."

And Clagett assures, for true race fans there will be just as much practicing, qualifying and high-end racing.

"What street racing has always been is more of your event-goer. It is going down to check out the sights, the scene, the people-watching, the ambience of an event and the racing. I've been to many, many Long Beach Grand Prix, and I'm constantly amazed, how few people are actually watching the racing," he said. "That's what MotoRock is, and it's taking it to a new level, giving it all those components that today's fan is looking for." Sun-Sentinel

9/25/03

NASCAR signs Video & DVD deal   NASCAR announced that they have signed a multi-year distribution deal for NASCAR DVDs and home videos.   The deal is in conjunction with Los Angeles-based Melee Entertainment, and DreamWorks Records, to market and distribute NASCAR Images DVDs and video.   The official NASCAR DVDs and videos will be widely available through major retailers.  The first release is a two-disc set - NASCAR Winston Cup 2002 - a round-up of last season and on sale next month.  NASCAR Images president Jay Abraham stated: "This agreement between NASCAR Images and Melee Entertainment represents a major opportunity for the broad-scale distribution of NASCAR entertainment products.  By partnering with Melee, NASCAR and NASCAR Images will be able to reach both the hardcore and casual fans of the sport at the most convenient locations."  Look for 4 to 6 videos to be put out each year as NASCAR solidifies its monopoly on the USA motorsports scene.

9/25/03

More celebrities added to Indy Shop Tour   Formula One Medical Director Professor Sid Watkins, M.D., and Speed Channel Formula One announcer Rick DeBruhl will join former F1 and IRL IndyCar Series driver Eddie Cheever as guest speakers in the CARA Charities’ “Indy Shop Tour,” a special CARA Charities racing event Sept. 26.

Open-wheel racing fans will have a unique opportunity during Indianapolis’ U.S. Grand Prix Week to visit the headquarters of two of the IndyCar Series’ top teams – Pennzoil Panther Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing. The two racing operations will open their shops to a selected group of racing enthusiasts for a special tour followed by presentations, cocktails and dinner as part of the “Indy Shop Tour.”

The popular event, hosted by ABC-TV and ESPN-TV’s Bob Jenkins, will begin at 4 p.m. (EST) at the famed Columbia Club on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. Private buses will transport the guests to the racing shops with special tours and question-and-answer periods. The guests will return to the Columbia Club for a cocktail party, buffet dinner and presentations by Cheever, Watkins and DeBruhl.

Tickets for the special “Open Wheel Shop Tour” are on sale at $150 per ticket and include the custom coach transportation, the shop tours, the cocktail party and dinner and the special racing presentation. Proceeds benefit CARA Charities. Call CARA Charities at (317) 299-2277 or e-mail at Carachar@aol.com for reservations.  Tickets for the United States Grand Prix can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, or by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

9/25/03

Wirdheim to test Jordan today   Newly crowned FIA International Formula 3000 champion Björn Wirdheim will drive a third car for the Jordan-Ford team in the two-hour test session Friday morning Sept. 26, which is the opening day of practice for the United States Grand Prix.

Jordan-Ford, Mild Seven Renault, Jaguar Racing and European Minardi-Cosworth are allowed to take part in the two-hour session because they have agreed to limit their private testing during the rest of the season. The four teams are permitted to run extra cars during the session.

“I’m delighted to give Björn this opportunity,” team principal Eddie Jordan said. “He did a good job for us testing in Monza earlier this month, and it’s great to see top talent from the junior motorsport series proving themselves in Formula One.
“The last Swedish F1 driver, Stefan Johansson, was my teammate many years ago, and I’ve always had links with Sweden, which is why I’m particularly pleased that we are able to work with Björn at this event.” 

9/25/03

Mario thinks USGP belongs at Indy   Mario Andretti, the only American to win the Indianapolis 500 and Formula One World Championship, is a strong supporter of the United States Grand Prix taking place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“To me, it’s a total positive,” Andretti said. “I just love the idea that Indianapolis could host the only Formula One race in this country. To be honest with you, it’s perfect. It’s a perfect scenario. Indianapolis represents the Mecca of open-wheel racing, it always has. And to have Formula One there I think just fits.

“And quite honestly, I don’t think that any other venue in this day and age would really work for Formula One in the United States. I think it found a perfect home.”

Andretti won the 1969 Indianapolis 500 and the 1978 Formula One World Championship.

9/25/03

Firestone heroes of Indy update  The Firestone Heroes of Indy driver lineup gained a driver and a flag man for the historic race set for Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will feature 10 of the greatest drivers in the history of the Indianapolis 500 in a 25-lap showdown driving identically-prepared Thunder Roadsters on a quarter-mile paved oval prior to the IRL IndyCar Series season-ending Chevy 500.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk is the eighth driver named to race. He won the “500” in 1990 and 1997. His 1990 average speed of 185.981 mph still stands as the race record. Luyendyk is one of only seven drivers to win three poles at the Indy 500, doing so in 1993, 1997 and 1999.

Luyendyk joins legends Johnny Rutherford, Gordon Johncock, Parnelli Jones, Pancho Carter, Bill Vukovich II, Lloyd Ruby and Jim McElreath as drivers of the Thunder Roadsters.

Rick Mears will serve as the event’s flagman, working closely with pace car driver Al Unser and grand marshal A.J. Foyt. The three men are the only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times.

In addition to his four victories, Mears hold Indianapolis 500 records for most poles (six), wins from the pole (three), front-row starts (11), consecutive front-row starts (six, 1986-91) and consecutive races led (six, 1979-84). He also holds the record for most times setting the four-lap track record, doing so five times.

“The addition of Luyendyk and Mears to the already stellar field will make the Firestone Heroes of Indy even more of a treat for the fans,” said Eddie Gossage, Texas Motor Speedway general manager. “Arie has Texas ties having won the first ever IndyCar Series race at the speedway in 1997. Rick’s accomplishments at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during his career are nothing short of remarkable.”

The remaining drivers will be announced in the near future.

The Thunder Roadsters are produced by 600 Racing and resemble the roadsters that dominated the Indianapolis 500 and Indy-style racing through the 1950s and 1960s. The cars are powered by a 1250cc Yamaha engine and will be sporting special Firestone Firehawk tires for the event.

The Firestone Heroes of Indy race will include a full weekend of activities celebrating the accomplishments of drivers who established much of the history of the Indianapolis 500. In addition to practice and qualifying for the race, the participants will participate in autograph sessions open to the public and a special Heroes reception featuring “Mom” Unser’s fabled chili, a longtime tradition with participants at the Indianapolis 500.

9/25/03

Lucky fan could win Corvette  One lucky race fan will drive home in a 2003 Corvette following the Oct. 12 Chevy 500k at Texas Motor Speedway.  The “Race, Ride and Win” scratch-and-win game gives fans the chance to win one of over 8,000 prizes including the grand prize Chevrolet Corvette, tickets to the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season finale Chevy 500 or the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Silverado 350k, a pair of 2004 Texas Motor Speedway Season and Chevy racing gear.  Race fans 18 years and older can visit their local participating Chevrolet dealer through Sept. 28 to obtain a “Race, Ride and Win” scratch-and-win game card, while supplies last.   Participating Chevrolet dealerships are in cities across Texas (Abilene, Amarillo, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, Tyler, and Wichita Falls) and Oklahoma (Oklahoma City and Tulsa).  Fifty finalists will be Chevrolet’s guests at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 12. Five of the 50 will then be eligible to win the Corvette during pre-race activities for the Chevy 500.

9/25/03

Rain in Indy?   Although Friday should stay dry, there is a decent chance of rain both Saturday and Sunday in Indy for the USGP.  The best chance of rain is Saturday afternoon, just in time for crucial qualifying.

9/25/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items  

Webber On Way To Williams?
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Williams: JPM Mature Enough To Beat Schu
Ferrari Won't Go Retro, Says President
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9/24/03

NASCAR fans are hardcore   NASCAR fans are a dedicated bunch.  They wear their driver's apparel, they paste their car number in the rear car, van or truck window, and they watch their hero week in and week out.  Some spend all their leisure dollars for the entire family on NASCAR.   NASCAR is their life and they would follow their sport right off the end of the earth.  Now even we've seen it all.  A NASCAR fan that wears his favorite driver's number on his hairy back - a real bubba, and a sight to behold. Photo source - unknown.

9/24/03

Luis Diaz to race in Mexico City  UPDATE The official press release - Three leading brands in technology unite with a young talent in Mexican racing to compete in the next CART series Gran Premio to be held in Mexico City.

Sun Microsystems, the worldwide leader of net computing solutions provider for companies, government and institutions, Telcel, the leading wireless carrier in Mexico, and Motorola, the leading provider in communication solutions, have joined together to support and promote racing in Mexico, an exciting sporting event that calls thousands of followers into the race tracks to live the intensity and adrenaline of high speed.

All three brands trust Luis Diaz’s professionalism, commitment and determination to get into the first positions. “Chapulin” is a Mexican promising young talent in international racing that the sponsors have not hesitated to select for competition.

“I appreciate very much the trust and support of Sun, Telcel and Motorola to participate as their driver for this new racing team, this will certainly allow me to be in touch with the Mexican public that has always encouraged me. The race will be very tough and the track surely demanding, as it would be very competitive among all the drivers that want to win, but with intelligence and speed we will raise the results that are expected,” concluded the Aztec driver certainly very motivated on the challenge that faces him.

Sun-Telcel-Motorola race team car, that will be driven for the CART series by Diaz with great skills and bravery, it’s a Reynard chassis with Ford-Cosworth XFE engine with 700 horsepower; weights 1550 lbs., has a length of 195 inches and a width of 78 inches. The car will be tested during training sessions at Sebring, Florida, on the 29th and 30th to give Luis time to polish his driving.  9/24/05 - Mexican driver Luis Diaz will drive a third car for Walker Racing in this year's CART race in Mexico City.  "I am very happy to have another chance to race at this track," stated Diaz. "It is a circuit that fits my style of driving, and of course I am very excited to run in Mexico."  He will compete in the final Toyota Atlantic race this weekend in Miami and then it's off to Sebring with Walker Racing for two days of testing a Champ Car before heading to Mexico City for the October 12th race. As reported in La Reforma

9/24/03

CART's Long Beach 2005 date  UPDATE LBGP 2005: Ugh, again opposite the Masters (I believe) which creates TV issues at CBS. They definitely do not have this problem in 2004 so CBS is carrying LB.   Miami vs. USGP this Sunday: Well, for those of us on AR1, this is a brutal Sunday as the two big races go opposite one another in a season where the F1 race has more on the line for a change. Oh well, thank God for F1 replays on Speed twice each Sunday night. John Costello, Los Alamitos, CA  9/23/03 - Yesterday we published the announcement for next year's CART race at Long beach, including the date of the race, April 16-18, 2004.  In an AR1 exclusive we can tell you that the 2005 date is already set between CART, Dover Motorsports (the promoter) and the City of Long Beach as well, that being April 8-10, 2005. Mark those calendars.

9/24/03

SPEED cancels some CART coverage  UPDATE We talked to a spokesperson with SPEED Channel and it was a mutual agreement between both sides to cancel the coverage.  SPEED went to CART and told them they were going to be over their budget for the year, what do you want to do?  The decision by CART was to cancel this coverage.  Mark C.  9/24/03 - This motorsportstv.com news brief says that the Speed Channel telecasts of CART qualifying from Mexico City and Australia have been canceled, as has the pre-race show from Australia. On October 11, CART qualifying will be replaced by an encore of Formula 1 qualifying from Japan. The Friday, October 24 schedule has been reworked to include a late night replay of that afternoon's Busch qualifying.

9/24/03

Earnhardt cleared to drive   NASCAR has approved Dale Earnhardt Jr. to compete in this weekend’s EA Sports 500 at Talladega, Ala., where he has won a record four consecutive races. Earnhardt Jr. suffered a minor concussion and a sprained right foot in a crash during last Sunday’s race at Dover, Del. He was examined Monday afternoon by Dr. Jerry Petty, and based upon the results of that exam, has been cleared medically to compete.

Dale Jr. Quotes:
“My foot gets a lot better every day. I usually use all of this ice to keep the Budweiser cold, but I’ve stayed off my feet, kept ice on it, and the swelling and soreness is much less than it was on Monday. It would take a heckuva lot more than this to keep me out of the race. Plus, Talladega is about intense mental focus - it’s not a physical track like Bristol or Martinsville where your body takes a beating. I drove a Busch Series race with only one arm (he suffered a broken collarbone in practice at Milwaukee, Wis., but drove the following day to a third-place finish in July, 1999), so I’m sure once I get in the car, this won’t have an impact on me. I’ve been to the shop a few times, and the guys are making sure I’m comfortable in the car, so we will be ready to go.”

“I love going to Talladega, and I’ve had the luxury to wheel a really, really fast car there every time. Our success shows the strength of the entire Dale Earnhardt Inc. organization. We have always focused on the restrictor-plate races, from Richie Gilmore’s engines to the guys who work on the bodies hour-after-hour in the wind tunnel and in the shop, and it’s a total effort.

“It’s very, very simple: get to the front and stay there. You don’t worry about all of the action behind you if you’re ahead of them. Because we changed an engine in April, we started at the back. Being involved in the early crash (on lap four), even slightly, was more evidence to prove that strategy. It didn’t look too good, but my guys worked on the car until it was competitive again. It may have been my most gratifying Talladega win. It was very satisfying, because it took the entire team to get me into a position to drive that car to the finish line.”

9/24/03

Menard Champ Car plan  Following a split with Eddie Cheever, Menard Competition Technologies (MCT) took sole ownership of the TWR engineering group they bought back in March.  Now MCT, run by veteran Champ Car engineer Bruce Ashmore, plans to expand its USA motorsports involvement.  Ashmore told Autosport magazine, "We would like to build a CART car as soon as the rules open up.  We'll see what CART's business plan is.  They have got to pick the most sensible year to allow manufacturers back in, either 2005 or 2006.  Lola will be there and I hope we will be too."  Ashmore said the CART plans for MCT will not affect Team Menards IRL involvement

9/24/03

***Reader Question***Will CART race at Road America again?  UPDATE Another reader writes, I absolutely cannot believe that CART (or RA for that matter) would look at attendance at this year's race as an indicator. First, they changed the date from the traditional mid-August date that RA and CART have had for 90% of the last 10 years. Then, the date that is picked goes head-to-head with the nearby Oshkosh Fly-In that attracts huge crowds. Those who tried to reserve hotels 9-10 months before the race would have had HUGE problems. Of course, the final straw was that the race was CANCELLED and tickets were REFUNDED. Hello!!!!! CART!!!! Anyone listening???? Of course attendance will stink if tickets were refunded - did they really think they would get 100% of the fans back after the tickets were refunded? Heck no!! Of course, once the race was cancelled and put back on, then some hotels were available. Bottom-line is that there is no way CART and Road America should be looking at this year's horrible attendance as an indicator for the future - the cancellation and original refunding of tickets I am sure put a dent in the attendance...only the true die-hard fans ended up re-ordering tickets again. Thanks, Mark Bette, Chicago, IL  9/24/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, I am very concerned about CART's future at Road America.  Will there be another Mario Andretti Grand Prix in 2004 because I know the attendance for the race is not what it used to be.  Gregory Hines, Shipbottom, PA  Dear Gregory, This year the Road America race went head-to-head on the same weekend with two other races, one being the Brickyard 400.  Not a smart thing since a lot of people from Chicago go to both Indy and Road America.  Road America has one more year on their CART contract, and our understanding is, at this point, CART will be there Aug. 5-8, 2004 along with Trans-Am, the Toyota Atlantics, Zytec Formula Ford 2000 and the Barber Dodge Series. Road America President George Bruggenthies is in contact with CART and OWRS, but until the sale is complete, assuming it goes through, we have no way of knowing how the new owners want to shape their first year of operations. Unfortunately that weekend puts the race up against the Brickyard 400 again.  Common sense will tell you the date needs to shift a week or so, and if it isn't, both sides are asking for failure.  We expect to see a tentative 2004 CART schedule this coming weekend, so we'll have a better idea then.  Motorock is going to have to come up with the right concert act for that part of the USA to get the fans to want to drive to Road America, the USA's greatest road course.  CART can't abandon its roots that easily, and must find a way to make that event work.  We have said for years that a big week-long carnival like the 24-Hours of LeMans has, with the race the culmination on Sunday, will bring people from all over Wisconsin to the festivities at Road America each year, and it would also give those camping at Road America something to do at night at the track with their families.  To date that has fallen on deaf ears and attendance has fallen steadily with CART's decline and with people having so many other demands on their leisure dollars.  It's obvious the old way isn't working, and we have confidence in OWRS, and Paul Gentilozzi is just the kind of guy who might go in there and shake some sense into the establishment.   Mark C.

9/24/03

Petty Enterprises safe with Dodge   DaimlerChrysler officials denied reports that Petty Enterprises was losing its top-tier status with Dodge. Although there have been concerns regarding the performance of the Nos. 43 and 45 cars this season, Dodge is committed to honoring the remaining years on Petty's contract. FoxSports/Sporting News

9/24/03

Dispelling a Shane Hmiel rumor   Call this investigative journalism or call it too much time on our hands, but we wanted to squelch something we heard going around the other day.  Some people are saying they saw a picture of Shane Hmiel with that maryjane plant (marijuana) on the bottom of his driver's suit legs on TV - specifically on the NASCAR Edition of Speed News Sunday on Speed Channel.  They did a fast pan of his legs, and there it was. If you weren't paying attention you missed it.   Assuming this is true, one could leap to all sorts of conclusions regarding the extent of Shane's substance abuse.  We made a point of recording the final rebroadcast on our DVR, which we just reviewed.  The footage in question is from Shane's unsuccessful attempt at qualifying the #43 Berry Burst Cheerios Dodge (this fact is significant) for the Pepsi 400.  What looks like a marijuana plant at a glance is, upon freeze frame, actually the pedals of a strawberry, with the rest of the berry concealed within his pants leg.

9/24/03

Miami track tidbits  The 15-turn, 1.15-mile temporary street circuit has been modified from its original design last year – the first year of Champ Car World Series racing action on the streets of downtown Miami since 1995. Fernandez Racing Race Engineer Chris Finch estimates top speeds of 167 mph with minimum cornering speeds around 32 mph. Drivers will shift 20 times per lap throughout the course of the 135-lap race. The maximum interval for pit stops is set at 50 laps, requiring a minimum of two stops.

The tight, twisty circuit will present its share of challenges as Finch notes: “The revised street circuit makes the course distance shorter by 0.2 miles from last year [1.379 miles to 1.15 miles in length]. The sealed parking section has been removed, so this should enable the track to be more consistent as it will build grip more evenly. Similar to Denver, the driver must exhibit patience and let the circuit come to him as more rubber is laid down on the race track. Being too aggressive on the first day could yield a high level of frustration for both engineer and driver. The initial car setup will be to maximize grip while maintaining good rear-end stability through the corners leading to the fountain on the back stretch.”

Single-car qualifying will again go into effect for the race this weekend. Friday’s provisional qualifying will be a one-hour session with the qualifying order based on the reverse order of the combined practice times. Saturday’s final qualifying session order will be the reverse order of Friday’s provisional qualifying results. Drivers will be given a maximum of five laps for their qualifying run – an untimed out-lap, a maximum of three timed laps, and an untimed in-lap. Friday’s provisional polesitter will earn a championship point and is guaranteed a front row starting position.  Fernández Racing

9/24/03

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9/24/03

Where's Craig Pollock?  UPDATE We want to be clear with our readers that AR1 did not write this article about Pollock, which paints him in a negative light.  Pollock is at work heavy with Bernie in the re-structuring of the Kirsch portfolio to appease the manufacturers.  Pollock is at the front of the line right now for a couple of MAJOR moves in F1.   Whether or not they all fall into place is unknown, but he is certainly earning his keep and is in the right circle to navigate Jacques a F1 seat if anyone can.  His fallback for Jacques could always be PK Racing we suppose.

Certainly Richards and Pollock do not send one another Christmas cards, but there are two very strong forces influencing the future of BAR and while both are pretty neutral on Richards one is VERY keen on Pollock... the penny will drop, it is only a question of on which side of the fence.

He has the track record of having put teams together (BAR) and he drew on that experience when putting together PK Racing.  Anyone that knows the facts knows that when he put the investors (BAT) and the manufacturer (HONDA) together for BAR it was the biggest deal in the last decade or so, and he was not supposed to have anything to do with the operations of the team.  That was supposed to be Adrian Reynard, but he failed to hold up his end of the bargain at all, forcing Pollock to attempt to put in place the technical people that Reynard was charged with doing.   Pollock mucked that part up.  In his defense he was never supposed to have that obligation and never advised anyone he had those abilities. It was not easy putting a major F1 team together, and running the commercial side was especially important.  That in itself is a fulltime job. 

On the driver rep side of the business, Jacques is the 2nd highest earning driver in the world when you take into account his driver salary and souvenir sales, second only to Michael Schumacher, so clearly Pollock has done the commercial side quite well.  Jacques driving career is past its prime, so going forward he won't earn what he does today, but that's to be expected.

Pollock is nobody's fool, is very well connected, and has proven he can put things together for himself and his driver time and time again. Partners with Forsythe and Kalkhoven these men do not have business relationships with Pollock for anything other than business reasons. Don't forget Pollock still owns a third of BAR (as does Forsythe own a piece.  BAT owns the rest) and David Richards is hired help. Jacques is a F1 World Champion, CART Champion, Indy 500 Champion (when it meant something and all the best were competing), and the pairing of driver and teams did not happen by osmosis.  Mark C.  9/23/03 - This Pitpass.com article says that as the Jacques Villeneuve saga continues, with (seemingly) a new twist almost every hour, the question is where is the Canadian's manager Craig Pollock? When a Scottish newspaper yesterday claimed that Takuma Sato had revealed he was to replace Villeneuve at Suzuka, the Japanese star's manager Andrew Gilbert Scott, wasted no time in denying the story. However during the recent talk of 'shoot-outs', 'Fame Academy' and indeed the Suzuka story, Pollock has been conspicuous by his absence. Some claim that the current (?) situation at BAR is basically an issue between Villeneuve and team boss David Richards while others see Honda as being the prime movers behind the situation and others that parent company British American Tobacco is helping to 'stir the pot'. Surely at a time when the Canadian readily admits that there are no prospects out there, this is exactly when Pollock should be earning his (large) percentage. Naturally Pollock will claim that he is doing his bit for his star client, then there's his commitment to his CART team, PK Racing, which recently signed former F1 star Mika Salo. However surely Pollock should be doing a little bit more for the man who in many respects got him where he is today, from ski instructor to F1 and CART team owner. Just a thought.

9/24/03

Laguna Seca CART event up in the air  This Californian.com article says, For anyone who cares about the future of top-tier, open-wheel racing -- and one of its mainstay events held annually at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca -- the next several weeks may be key to its future. And the south state's California Speedway is serving as a battleground. The $120-plus million racing palace here in San Bernardino County on Sunday hosted the Indy Racing League's next-to-last event of the year. Nearly 50,000 fans were treated to the fastest closed-course race in auto history, as two-time IRL champ Sam Hornish Jr., starting 10th, was the first to go 400 miles with an average speed of 207 mph. When the all-oval IRL held its initial race in Fontana last year, barely 10,000 fans showed up. Contributing to the larger crowd last weekend is a tight points race and improved marketing. The IRL will be here to stay. By comparison, on Nov. 2, the rival Championship Auto Racing Teams series, which has visited Laguna Seca's world famous road course for 20 years, will hold its season finale at California Speedway -- and some fear it may be the finale for the series. CART has raced at California Speedway annually since Roger Penske opened the track in 1997. Initially, attendance was an impressive 110,000, but it has steadily dropped to almost half that. Underlying that drop are a host of problems, personalities and political adventures that prompted Tony George, owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to launch the IRL in 1996. Since then, CART teams have slowly but steadily moved to the IRL to the point that CART now is on the sales block, and reportedly does not have enough money to complete a 2004 season. If a pending sale is successful, the series is expected to return to Laguna Seca in June. If not, and CART is reconfigured, it is unclear what the series will look like or where it will race. Ironically, when the IRL's Hornish set that speed record Sunday, he eclipsed one held by 1996 CART champ Jimmy Vasser, formerly of Morgan Hill, who won CART's 500-mile finale there last November at an average speed of 197 mph.

9/23/03


On the tube, CART & IRL can't keep up with NASCAR  There have been more than a few events in open-wheel racing this summer that have drawn more fans to the track than viewers in the national television audience.

This weekend's Indy Racing League Toyota Indy 400 in Fontana, Calif. isn't expected be one of them because of low ticket sales at the track.

Unfortunately, any success ABC sees in the ratings this weekend is masking the viewing public's waning interest in racing without fenders and a roof.

ABC and ESPN have combined to air the IRL races since its inception in 1996 with little rating success. In its nine races broadcast thus far, ABC has pulled in a 1.0 rating/3 share (1,050,000 households) down from a 1.1 rating/3 share. The IRL's rival in open-wheel racing, CART, has had similarly poor television numbers on CBS and Speed Channel.

There's one culprit for these declines - NASCAR. Fox, FX, NBC and TNT, the four networks in their third season combining to broadcast NASCAR's premier racing division, have averaged a 5.0 rating so far this year, up slightly from last year.

"NASCAR is a combination of sport and entertainment," said Speed Channel president Jim Liberatore. "There are guys you're rooting for, guys you're rooting against, and there's fighting in the pits. In open-wheel, its really about the car and less about the driver. In Europe, that's great, but here, the drivers are the stars."

The IRL's TV contract with ABC and ESPN runs through 2007. CART, which hasn't had a solid TV deal since it was founded in 1979 - will spend millions to get its races on CBS and Speed Channel this year.

Liberatore said that IRL and CART are going to have to rethink how to pull in viewers.

" I would consider running part of my season when NASCAR ends or consider a Monday night race for more exposure," he said. "It's tough because they're going head-to-head. They're obviously not winning the battle with NASCAR." Evansville Courier & Press

9/23/03

Scheckter leads most laps again  At this past weekend's Toyota Indy 400 Target Chip Ganassi driver Tomas Scheckter led the most laps, for the second consecutive and third overall time this season. Scheckter earned two extra points for leading 112 of the race's 200 laps and is currently in seventh place in the IRL Championship point standings with 341 points. For his efforts, Scheckter will be presented with his Marlboro Lap Leader Award check for $7,500 during the pre-race ceremonies at the Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 12th.

9/23/03
Industry News

Penske to be honored   Roger Penske will be honored on Tuesday, September 30th at the Eighteenth Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The Great Sports Legends Dinner pledges to bring the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis more than one million dollars closer to a cure. Over the past seventeen years, more than $20,000,000 has been raised at the Sports Legends Dinners, making it the cornerstone of the Miami Project's annual budget. The Sports Legends Dinner has gained a reputation for uniting individuals from the worlds of sports, business and entertainment. Over 1,300 people attend this gala event each year, which honors Great Sports Legends from different athletic categories. National Anchor Tom Brokaw will be serving as the Master of Ceremonies at the event. In addition, legendary journalist Walter Cronkite will be receiving the "Great American Icon Award" and Gloria Estefan will be the recipient of "The Buoniconti Fund Humanitarian Award." Penske will be
honored along with other sports legends including Cal Ripken Jr., David Robinson, Oscar de la Hoya, Jim Brown, Dorothy Hamill, Bruce Fleisher, Michael Johnson and Laffit Pincay, Jr.

9/23/03

Minor changes to USGP schedule  Minor changes have been made to the Formula One schedule for the United States Grand Prix on Saturday, Sept. 27 to better accommodate worldwide television viewers. Formula One free practice sessions will take place from 8-8:45 a.m. and 9:15-10 a.m. Saturday, one hour earlier than previously scheduled. The qualifying warm-up will take place from 12:30-12:45 p.m., with the second, single-lap qualifying session from 1-2 p.m., both sessions one hour earlier than previously scheduled. 

9/23/03
Industry News

Ford to triple production in China   Ford Motor will triple production in China to 150,000 units a year, as it scrambles to catch up with more established overseas rivals such as General Motors and Honda Motor. Ford's joint-venture factory in Chongqing, Sichuan province, which began production in January, was designed with an initial annual production capacity of 50,000 Mondeo and Fiesta cars. "The market here is expanding incredibly fast, so we need to bring in as many products as soon as we can to take advantage of the growth," said Dale Jones, marketing vice-president for Ford Motor (China). Vehicle sales in China are expected to triple to 5.8 million units by 2010. "Every carmaker is expanding in China because the car market grows at an average 50 per cent every month," said Gu Qun, who tracks carmakers at consultancy Automotive Resources Asia. General Motors said in July it would invest $200 million with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC) to quadruple production to 400,000 units by 2007. Volkswagen, which also has a joint venture with SAIC and counts China as its biggest market after Germany, said it would invest $6.6 Billion in the next five years to double production to 1.6 million units. [Editor's Note: F1 is going to China next year.  What about CART?]  Bloomberg

9/23/03

Flawed part caused Allison's helicopter crash?   Birmingham attorney Jim Thompson was the lead attorney in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Davey Allison estate that claimed a flawed part called a collective yoke - not pilot error as the National Transportation Safety Board ruled - caused the July 1993 crash at Talladega Superspeedway that took Allison's life and injured his Hueytown neighbor, Red Farmer. McDonnell-Douglas, the California-based aircraft manufacturer that owns Hughes Aircraft, which built the helicopter, settled the suit for an undisclosed sum in 1996 without admitting fault. "We deny that any defective condition contributed to the accident," George S. McCall, the attorney for McDonnell-Douglas, said last week. Both McCall and Thompson say they are prohibited by the court to discuss the settlement in the case. Both the Allison estate and Farmer were part of that settlement. Thompson, who has tried numerous air-crash cases, said he has declined numerous cases when it was evident that pilot error was the cause. He said he agreed to take the Allison case after his investigation concluded that a failed part caused Allison's accident. "Tommy Allison (Davey's cousin and the executor of the Allison estate) said that he couldn't believe Davey made a mistake, because he was such an excellent pilot," said Thompson, outlining what triggered the investigation and finally the lawsuit. "He said Davey was accustomed to running 200 mph. He said Davey didn't make a mistake at 10 mph." The NTSB ruled in 1994 that pilot inexperience was the cause of the crash. The report said Allison had just 2.8 hours of flight instruction on the Hughes 369HS helicopter and had not practiced downwind landings like the one he was attempting in the media center parking lot of the racetrack infield. The report said Allison had 54 hours of helicopter flight time at the time of the crash, but 45 of those hours were in a less-demanding Robinson R-22 helicopter.
A flight instructor who trained Allison testified before the board that Allison had "average" flight skills and tended to make his approaches too fast and too shallow as a result of having trained on the smaller and slower Robinson R-22. Witnesses to the crash said Allison was hovering just a few feet off the ground when the helicopter suddenly shot straight up, stalled and fell back on its tail. When the main rotor struck the asphalt, the helicopter spun and the left side of the cockpit slammed onto the parking lot. Allison suffered fatal head injuries when his head struck either the inside of the cockpit or the asphalt. The eyewitness accounts pointed to something failing in the control apparatus of the helicopter, Thompson said. Investigators hired by Thompson dismantled the helicopter and found that the collective yoke, the device that controls the pitch of the rotor blades, was broken.  "We knew McDonnell-Douglas would argue that it was broken in the crash," Thompson said. "The helicopter wasn't that badly damaged in the crash and the yoke was located between the seats in an area that had no damage at all. The cables going to the yoke and hydraulic lines in the area showed no signs of damage." Thompson said he hired a retired Hughes Aircraft test pilot to recreate a failure of the yoke. With a backup system in place to prevent a crash, the yoke was disconnected, Thompson said. "The helicopter did exactly what Davey's did," Thompson said. The broken part was sent to a metallurgist in Florida. He testified that a dissection of the part found that the cast metal contained air pockets that made it fail, according to Thompson. Paint like that found on the outside of the yoke was found inside the part during dissection, he said. "That meant the part was defective the day it left the factory," Thompson said. The attorney believes metal fatigue finally caused the part to fracture and that occurred just as Allison was about to put the helicopter down. Alabama Live

9/23/03

Earnhardt knocked out, sent to hospital   3rd UPDATE As of Tuesday morning, Winston Cup driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. had yet to be cleared by NASCAR for competition this weekend following a follow-up doctor visit in the Charlotte area on Monday. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Tuesday morning the sanctioning body had not cleared Earnhardt Jr. for competition and was waiting further information from the driver's doctor visit. He is using crutches and has been told by doctors to stay off his feet, according to team officials. He had to cancel a planned appearance at a news conference Tuesday afternoon at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. Dale Earnhardt Inc. officials still believe Earnhardt Jr. will be able to compete in Sunday's EA Sports 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, where the driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet has won the past four Cup races. ThatsRacin.com  9/22/03 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. was examined today (Monday) by Dr. Jerry Petty as follow-up to his crash yesterday at Dover. Dale Jr. suffered a minor concussion and a right foot sprain in the crash. NASCAR must approve his return to competition, and as of 5:30 pm ET today, that process was underway. When approval is given, we will follow-up with more details and a full update on the extent of his injuries. Despite initial reports and rumors to the contrary, Dale Jr. was unconscious for only a brief time after yesterday's crash, and was awake and alert while being removed from the race car.  DEI press release  9/21/03 - Dale Earnhardt Jr has been examined and released from Bay Health Hospital in Dover, Delaware. His injuries were listed as a minor concussion and a bruised right foot. Dale Jr. will be re-examined tomorrow by Dr. Jerry Petty. Any further updates will be released Monday.   9/21/03 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. went high between turns 1 & 2 at Dover today  trying to keep from going a lap behind the leader on lap 363 when the car spun and slid hard into the turn two wall, making contact with the driver's side of the car. Dale Jr. was removed from the car and taken to the infield care center. The crash relegated Dale Jr. to 37th position for the afternoon, and drops him two positions to fourth place in the Winston Cup point standings with eight races remaining.  However, the impact was enough to knock Earnhardt Jr. out for a couple of minutes.  He was transported  to Bay Health Hospital (Kent General) in Dover via helicopter following the completion of the MBNA 400 for further evaluation and tests. Earnhardt was reported to be conscious at the time of transport.  Mark C.

9/23/03

McNish replaced by Renault  Allan McNish's F1 dreams took a severe blow after Renault announced that they have replaced the Scot with Franck Montagny to be their test driver for 2004. "I'm obviously disappointed that I won't be with the team next year, particularly having seen the results of all our hard work with Fernando's first win in Hungary, but I wish Alonso, Jarno, Franck, Flavio and the whole team the very best of luck for the future," McNish said. "I am in the fortunate position of having a number of options open to me and my management team and I are assessing which path to take at the moment. I don't want to rush into anything but I am more determined than ever to succeed, and ultimately I will make the choice that gives me the best chance of success." Team boss Flavio Briatore stated, "In recent years, the third driver has become increasingly important to a team's success, and our decision to promote Franck to this key role is a direct reflection of the work he has accomplished for us this year. He has worked hard behind the scenes testing for the F1 team, and he has put in accomplished race performances in the Nissan series. He has a bright future ahead of him."

9/23/03

GP Americas Noteworthy tidbits 
Alex Sperafico
…of Brazil replaces fellow countryman Gualter Salles in Miami this weekend in the #19 Dale Coyne Racing entry. Sperafico will make his second career Champ Car start after finishing 18th in his debut in Toronto earlier this year.

The Sunshine State…will be well represented for this weekend’s Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com, with no less than eight of the 19 Champ Car drivers residing in Florida. Miami residents include Bruno Junqueira, Sebastien Bourdais, Oriol Servia, Tiago Monteiro (#7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) and Alex Sperafico. Other Floridians include Herdez Competition’s Roberto Moreno (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Weston, American rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) of Boca Raton, and Mario Haberfeld of Key Biscayne.

Kid Rock To Perform at Motorock Miami 100…Motorock, the new cutting-edge motorsports and entertainment company, and title sponsor for the Trans-Am Tour—announced recently that Kid Rock will perform at the American Airlines Arena on Friday, September 27, 2003 as part of the Motorock Miami 100. As previously announced, Elton John will be performing on Saturday, September 27, 2003…Also, Motorock is an acquisition partner of proposed buyout of the Champ Car World Series. Tickets for Kid Rock will go on sale Saturday, September 20, 2003, at all Ticketmaster outlets. Concert and race ticket packages will be available at motorocktour.com or miamirace.com.

By the numbers: 14,000 - tires lashed together for the 2003 Grand Prix Americas…65,000 - feet of fencing throughout track…140 - countries watching the race (through CART and ALMS television broadcasts)…1,732 - tires used by teams during race weekend…1,700 - times a driver will shift gears during the race…135 - race transporters on site…13,500 - gallons of fuel consumed during race weekend…8,000 - cups of beer consumed during 2002 Grand Prix Americas…6 - Giant vision boards for full-circuit television coverage for the fans in the grandstands…5,800 - feet of sponsorship signage…527 - number of media credentials requested for 2002 GPA…1,370 - number of articles written during race weekend for the 2002 GPA.

9/23/03

Martinsville to offer free tickets   Martinsville Speedway officials announced today that all workers who lost their jobs when the Pillowtex plant in Fieldale closed earlier this year will have the opportunity to attend two events free of charge this fall at Martinsville Speedway. Displaced Pillowtex workers will have the chance to receive two tickets each to the SUBWAY 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race on October 19 and the Taco Bell 300 Late Model Stock Car race on October 5. “We know that many of these folks who have lost their jobs at Pillowtex have been strong supporters of Martinsville Speedway over the years and this is a way we can give back and say ‘thanks’ for their loyalty over the years,” said Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell. “This is an idea we’ve kicked around since the announcement of Pillowtex’s closing. We knew we wanted to do something to help. We realized in a staff meeting late last week that our Winston Cup ticket sales were at a point that if we didn’t act on this quickly, we wouldn’t have enough seats left to meet the need. That got the ball rolling.” The Fieldale Pillowtex workers will have two chances to pick up their tickets at Martinsville Speedway’s ticket office. The first pick-up date is Tuesday, September 30, and the second is Thursday, October 2. These are the only two times the tickets will be available. The ticket office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Proof of Fieldale Pillowtex employment must be shown when tickets are picked up. A company ID is preferred, but other methods will be accepted along with a picture ID.

9/23/03

3 CART teams to be featured on CSI: Miami  As rookie teams in the Champ Car World Series, American Spirit Team Johansson, Mi-Jack Conquest Racing and Rocketsports Racing have had a few moments in the bright sun this year, but this weekend's Grand Prix Americas Presented by Sportsbook.com will see that sun temporarily enhanced by the bright lights of Hollywood. The teams will play key roles in the episode of the popular CBS crime-solving drama CSI: Miami that is to be filmed at this weekend's Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford event in Miami, an episode that will be centered around a crime involving a crew member that takes place at the racetrack. American Spirit Team Johansson will be the featured team with the #12 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone serving as the mount for the main character in the show. The plot encompasses the American Spirit team as the CSI: Miami detectives use their skills to determine who committed the crime. The Mi-Jack/Conquest squad will also participate in a pit-stop segment that will provide a key element to the show while the Rocketsports Racing team will also be featured in the show. Other footage shot in and around the racetrack and paddock areas may incorporate the other teams and drivers of the Champ Car World Series for the episode that is slated to air in mid-November.

9/23/03

Magnussen out, Turner if for Miami  This Autoweek.com article says that British driver Darren Turner, who drove for the Prodrive team earlier this year at Sebring and Le Mans, will substitute for Jan Magnussen at Miami and co-drive with David Brabham. Magnussen and Brabham are on a two-race winning streak in the GTS class in American Le Mans Series competition. Magnussen will be racing in the Danish Touring Car Championship during the Miami weekend but will be back in the Prodrive Ferrari for the season finale Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 18. More …..

9/23/03

Recent test times from Sebring  Here are test times from the last two weeks at Sebring that AutoRacing1.com collected:

1.    52.2      Adrian Fernandez Fernandez Racing   
2.    52.7      Mika Salo PK Racing
3.    53.0      Alex Sperafico Dale Coyne Racing
4.    53.3      Oriol Servia Patrick Racing
5.    53.4      Pierre Kaffer Patrick Racing (Porsche Supercup driver)
6.    53.7      Robbie Kerr Patrick Racing (British F3 driver)

9/23/03

Johansson warns against "dumbing-down" CART too far  In this CART.com article, CART team owner Stefan Johansson says, Johansson shares Vasser’s hopes for a brighter future. “I don’t know where it’s going to go from here but I’m obviously hopeful and positive that this new group will take it over and push it forward,” Stefan said.

“One thing we have is fantastic venues. We have probably the best venues overall. All the city races we go to just develop and get bigger every year. There’s a great atmosphere with 150,000 people over the weekend at most races we go to, and that’s a very positive thing. And the racing is good. It’s competitive and pretty good quality.

“Obviously the commercial side needs to be sorted out pretty darn quick for everybody to move forward. It’s getting very late in the day for sponsors to commit.”

Johansson believes that in the struggle to find effective ways of controlling costs Champ Car must not lose sight of the true economic realities of racing. “They’ve been working on cost measures but there’s only so much you can do,” Stefan observed. “It’s still going to be an expensive series to run no matter how you twist and turn it, and so it should be.

“The bottom line is the cost of running a team is in direct relation to how competitive the series is. There’s always going to be one or two teams that are prepared to crank it up another notch or two and it doesn’t really matter what rules you put in.

“And that’s not a negative. That’s the way it should be. It’s a free market. It’s about who can do a better job than anybody else and most of the time it’s in direct relation to how much work they’ve done, how much effort they’ve put in. There’s no magic in this business. It’s all about hard work.” 

[Editor's Note: We remind our readers that the two most expensive racing series in the world, F1 and NASCAR, are the two most successful, even in these hard economic times, and the weakest, most unsuccessful racing series are the "dumbed-down" low cost ones.  Coincidence?  We think not.  Mediocrity breeds mediocrity in today's high-tech, dog-eat-dog world we now live in.  Look at the IRL for example - close racing, dumbed-down cars = plunging TV ratings and complete fan apathy.  CART needs to be North America's version of F1, state-of-the-art as it was in its heydays, drawing the best talent and best drivers from around the world.  Open Wheel cars are NOT stock cars and fans don't expect them to be.  They have always been, and shall always be purpose built race cars made for ultimate performance. Trying to make an open wheel car like a "stock car" under a managed racing concept is doomed for failure as we have seen with the IRL.   Leave "stock cars" to NASCAR.]

9/23/03

Sutherland signs deal for NASCAR IMAX film   Actor Kiefer Sutherland will narrate the first 3D NASCAR IMAX film.  The new IMAX 3D film is scheduled to open on March 12 next year.   Sutherland stated: "With The IMAX Experience putting you in the driver's seat at a series of exciting NASCAR races, you can virtually feel the speed of the cars and the thunder of the engines, and that's why this film lends itself perfectly to the technology that IMAX provides."

9/23/03

Should there be guaranteed green-flag finishes?   NASCAR drivers respond to the question whether fans should be guaranteed a green-flag finish. 
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Driver, #43 Bugles Dodge:
“I believe each situation is different, but NASCAR is very safety conscious. In order to prevent having a one or two-lap shootout in which you end up with a lot of wrecked cars, I believe it’s necessary sometimes to have races end under caution.

“Fans enjoy excellent racing all day long, so if the last three laps are run under caution, it shouldn’t be a big deal because the best car probably won anyway. There are a very small percentage of races that end under caution because of an accident; a small enough percentage not to change the current ruling.”

“In CART it wasn’t as wild of racing. The cars were spaced further apart. Plus, by the end of the race, there are a lot of cars either out of the race or not on the lead lap. But I did see a last lap restart cost Michael Andretti a race at Fontana (Calif.) last season, so it can change things.”

BRANDON WHITT, Driver, #38 Moen Faucets/McMillin Chevrolet Truck:
“The Truck Series has always had a ‘green-white-checkered’ rule, so all of our races end under green. That’s just the way the series works. But it’s probably a little easier to do that with a 200-mile race than it is a 500-mile race. We just don’t have that many fuel-mileage races.

“Still, your opinion on the rule is always going to be situational. If I’m leading the race, yeah, we should be able to end the race under caution. If I’m in second, then ending it with a guaranteed green flag is the way to go. The main thing is everybody knows what the deal is before the race starts, so if the situation comes up, everybody knows the rule.

“For the fans, it’s a better deal. For pure racing, it’s a better deal. In the long run, yeah, a guaranteed green-flag finish is the best way to go. But, again, a lot of that depends on where you are at the time.

CHRISTI PASSMORE, Driver, #91 G.A.P. Roofing/Royal Trading Dodge:
“Every race fan wants to see the race end under green, and every driver does too. It just seems to be the fairest way to determine a winner. The thing is it’s not always possible and I don’t know that it is always the wise thing to do.

“There have been these last-lap ‘shootouts’ at Talladega (site of this week’s ARCA and NASCAR Winston Cup races) before and the results have been pretty scary. With restrictor plates and the fact it takes a couple of laps to get the car to full speed, a green-white-checkered finish could lead to a whole lot of torn-up race cars.

“I think setting a limit, saying, ‘OK, we’re not putting the green flag out with just a couple of laps to go,’ is a good idea. That number is going to change depending on where you are. Four laps to go at Talladega, for example, is probably not enough time. Four laps to go at South Boston, where we were last week, might be plenty of time.

“The idea ARCA and NASCAR has right now is the best. Work as hard and as fast as you can to get a green-flag finish every time but be safety-conscious first and realize it’s not going to always happen.”

KYLE PETTY, Driver, #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge:
“I don’t think NASCAR needs to make a rule so that all races finish under the green flag. There are no guarantees in racing. There is no guarantee that when you buy a ticket to a race that you are going to see a green flag finish. It’s like the weather. There is no controlling the weather on race day, and there is no controlling the outcome of a race.

“A fan buys a ticket to a baseball game, but is he guaranteed to see nine innings played? If it rains the game could be stopped after six, but the game is over. That’s the same thing we have in racing. If the caution flag comes out at the end of the race, whether it be for a wreck or whatever, the race should finish under the yellow flag. That’s the way it is. There are no promises from NASCAR or the tracks that you are going to see a green flag finish.”

JOHN ANDRETTI, NASCAR Winston Cup driver:
“Race distance is race distance, and I think that’s the way we should continue to look at it. The standards NASCAR has gone by is the most fair for the competitors, and most fair for the fans too. Now, when the yellow comes out after a certain point late in the race – and everybody knows what that point is before the race starts – that’s the end of it.

“It doesn’t mean the wrong guy won by any stretch. A Winston Cup race is tough enough to lead at any point. If you have the lead with five laps to go, you’ve pretty much earned the win. To extend the race distance when everything is on the line from fuel mileage to other circumstances, that would be unfair. That would change who should win the race, and that would not be fair. After four hours of racing, a green-white-checkered is no better way to determine a winner than what four hours of racing have already done.”

9/23/03

Malaysia to sign anti-smoking treaty today  Malaysia will today sign the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control at the United Nations in New York. The signature of Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng will mean that Malaysia will commit itself to establish stringent controls on tobacco products, including a ban on tobacco advertising.

The FIA supports the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control but Formula 1 tobacco companies are putting pressure on F1 teams to boycott countries which will not allow tobacco sponsorship.

In theory the Malaysian government has an agreement with F1 for racing until 2010 but as the contract is not a public document it is difficult to say whether it includes clauses related to tobacco sponsorship.  Grandprix.com [Editor's Note:  It appears F1 is losing the battle against restrictions being placed on tobacco sponsors, despite Bernie Ecclestone's strong-arm tactics.  It will be interesting to see what Bernie does with the Canadian race.]

9/23/03

USGP's future at Indy unsure  This Indy Star article talks about the future of the F1 race at the Indy Motor Speedway.  Remarks by Ecclestone appear to indicate he will keep the race at Indy when the current contract expires, but a lot will depend on attendance at this year's event. 

But grand prix team owner Frank Williams said the future of the event won't be based on intentions. Money will determine it, he said.  "Whether Tony George can afford it, or not, I just don't know," Williams said. "It will come down to (financial) numbers."  Ecclestone said the Speedway remains his best platform to showcase F-1 in the United States, and he continues to have a strong personal relationship with George. That's why he's optimistic F-1 can remain in Indy.

"It's good for us because there are very few places where you go in America where the cities are instantly recognizable to the people of the world," Ecclestone said. "If you say Indianapolis anywhere, people think motor racing. That's why I went there.

"I'm very happy with Tony and the way he built a circuit for Formula One. I pushed him to make a much better Indy for everyone else. It's beautiful what he did.

"Hopefully we are and can continue to repay him for that."

Ecclestone isn't as concerned about the attendance for Sunday's race, in part because that is the primary money-maker for track owners. Attendance has dropped from about 200,000 in 2000 to about 125,000 last year.

Even at 125,000, the USGP is one of the best-attended F-1 races. The European Grand Prix in Germany is considered the leader this season at 123,000 spectators. Australia had 116,700. Only five of the 14 races have exceeded 100,000.

"Don't forget that we had a race just after Sept. 11 (in 2001)," Ecclestone said. "There were fallouts that have carried forward for a few years. You have to build it back up, and that takes work. We'll get there."  [Editor's Note: There had been rumors the race might move back to Long Beach, but that was denied by Long Beach officials recently, despite some inside info we had uncovered.]

9/23/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items  

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Heidfeld: Sauber Car Getting Better  

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