Hot News

Thanks for visiting our Hot News page  Please visit our Rumors page for all the scuttlebutt.  If you have some news, or can supply more information about one listed here, e-mail us with as much supporting information as possible and we may post it.  User agreement & disclaimer. Newer rumors supercede older ones of the same topic.  Go to our forums to discuss any hot news.

Go to our forums to discuss this news.

DATE

News (chronologically)

10/5/03

Opponents question Newman's fuel mileage   This AP article talks about the controversy surrounding Ryan Newman's ability to be so fast and still get such great fuel mileage. 

10/5/03

***Opinion***CART and IRL need to mandate "team paint schemes"  CART and the IRL would be wise to follow Bernie Ecclestone's lead and mandate that all cars on a team carry the identical paint scheme.  Racing is a team sport and it's about time all the cars on a team look like they belong to the same team.  In F1 it's mandatory that all cars on a team carry identical paint schemes.  In CART and the IRL we like that the Players, Herdez, Marlboro, Target, etc cars are painted the same so fans know they are part of one team.  Unfortunately, most of the teams devote one car to one sponsor and their second car to another sponsor that results in two totally different paint schemes and color combinations.  They don't even look like team cars.  Very unprofessional. And some of the paint schemes are downright hideous.  Can't they hire a proper graphic artist to come up with something that is appealing?  Some would argue that some sponsors want an entire car decked out in only their colors. That's where CART and the IRL need to step in, sit down with both sponsors and devise a paint scheme that works for both.  The paint scheme should be identical, but the sponsor's name (i.e. the letters of the name) could be different for each car. The sponsor's name from the team's first car should also appear in a secondary location on the second car, just not as prominent as the "primary" sponsor.  The primary sponsor's name would appear on the sidepods and the secondary sponsor on the side of the cockpit or on the engine cowling.  That's it.  In this way both sponsor's names appear on both cars, with one being primary on the first car and the other being primary on the second car.  This would not preclude one sponsor, such as Marlboro, from sponsoring both cars.  We are not talking about a sponsor putting up any additional money. What we are talking about is 1) Making the series look like a professional team sport instead of a bunch of ragtag misfits, 2) Bringing more value to each sponsor because now they have twice the chance to win and get TV exposure since they will be displayed on two cars instead of just one, 3) The fans watching at the track or at home can readily identify the team cars.  Let's hope both CART and the IRL take their cue from the most successful racing series in the world (F1) and from racing's most successful commercial genius (Bernie Ecclestone). One can argue that NASCAR's team cars are all painted different and they are very successful and no one seems to care.  This is true, but some teams have as many as five cars, so coming up with a common paint scheme is all but impossible.   Open wheel racing has traditionally been different than stock car racing.  Except for the Petty Enterprises Petty Blue cars of years gone by, it's hard to remember many stock car team cars ever being painted the same. Historically we have seen team cars painted the same in open wheel racing, more times than not. That practice appears to have slowly fallen by the way side, and there is no need for it when teams are almost always no more than two cars.   Mark C.

10/5/03
Industry News

Car sales in China set to really boom   China yesterday published long-awaited regulations to allow car firms to finance the purchase of their vehicles, a decision that will accelerate an already booming market and worsen congestion on crowded urban streets.  Currently, fewer than 20 per cent of buyers of new cars purchase with credit, against 70 per cent in developed countries. Manufacturers said providing credit could boost their sales up to 20 per cent, since they could offer customers a one-stop shop, including car and finance.

The rules set the bar high for non-bank institutions and car companies that want to set up car-financing firms.  The applicant will need permission from the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), which must also approve its chairman, general managers and other top officers.

A CBRC official said the number of car loans had increased 286-fold between 1998 and last year but the level of credit could not meet demand.

"These regulations meet our commitments under the World Trade Organization and are an important step towards standardizing the car credit business and making it more professional. They will also stimulate the development of the car industry and the growth of the whole economy," he said.

But the official said companies would have to follow interest rates the central government would set.  The rules come nearly two years late. As a commitment to the WTO, which it joined in December 2001, Beijing promised to let foreign non-bank financing firms make car loans during its first year of membership.

Foreign firms with joint ventures, including General Motors Corp (GM), Ford Motor and Volkswagen, have been lobbying hard for the rules, which they see as an important factor in expanding their sales in China. In developed markets, car finance and leasing has become a major business and source of corporate profit.

10/5/03

Sadler suffers another hard crash   For the second straight week, Elliott Sadler crashed hard in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race. After flipping five times down the backstretch of Talladega Superspeedway last Sunday, Sadler slammed the outside wall in Turn 1 during the Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway.  A right-front tire went flat, and Sadler had no control of his No. 38 Ford as it careened up the track. After hitting the wall, Sadler's car caught fire before it came to rest in the grassy apron.   That's when Sadler got a little frightened.   "I couldn't get out of the car like I wanted to," Sadler said. Elliott Sadler exited the burning car and was treated and released from the care center.  Safety workers were there quickly and helped pull the 6-foot 2inch, broad-shouldered Sadler out of the car. Later, after being checked and released from the infield care center, Sadler said he hoped his team would install a roof hatch in his car to make it easier to get out during a crash. "I'm in great shape actually. We just blew a right-front. I don't know why - if I ran over something or what. I was just going into turn one and there was no warning at all. It just let go and hit the wall really hard, but I seem to be OK. The seat did its job. The head restraint did its job. I couldn't get out of the car like I wanted to when it was on fire, so that hatch can't come quick enough. I'll be really glad when we put a hatch in that 38 car, but I want to tell everybody at home I'm OK and I hope we'll get 'em next week." A LOT OF GUYS HAVE HAD TIRE PROBLEMS THIS WEEKEND. "I don't know. We'll have to get back and look at it. It didn't give me any warning at all. We've seen a few right-front problems this weekend, but we don't really know. I don't think the camber was too much. That's something we really worked on yesterday and that's something Todd's good at, so I could have just run over something. I didn't even have that many laps on that set of tires, so it shouldn't have blown that soon. I probably ran over something, but we'll get back and look at it and hope for better luck next week."

10/5/03

***Reader Question***Concerned about timing for CART  A reader writes, Dear AR1, I enjoy your continuous coverage and updates on CART’s buyout plans. I was wondering about sponsorship. If I remember correctly I thought sponsors had budgetary deadlines towards the end of September. If the SEC filing is going to take months as speculated, is it possible there could be a few teams that may not even have sponsorship next season? Keep up the good work and long live CART (in whichever form it may take)! Tony Dinelli, Tulsa OK. Dear Tony, The owners of Open Wheel Racing Series have met with the CART team owners and given them whatever assurances they could that the series will be around next year.  We're sure they have talked to a number of sponsors who may have doubts.  From what we can tell, everyone is satisfied with the answers Open Wheel is giving.  We are not sure what Plan B is should the $0.56 per share bid not be accepted by the majority of the shareholders.  However, in private talks we hear that Open Wheel has a Proxy Solicitor (we assume Bear Stearns) who has called many shareholders and they are telling Open Wheel that it's going to be close but they should squeak it out.  Mark C.

10/5/03

Sir Jackie says Schumacher should retire now  Sir Jackie Stewart has urged the world champion elect, Michael Schumacher, to retire from racing if he secures his record-breaking sixth title in the season-ending Grand Prix in Japan next weekend.

Schumacher, 34, needs just one point to be sure of this year's crown and put his name ahead of 1950s legend Juan Manuel Fangio in the table of all-time champions after winning the US Grand Prix last Sunday.

But Stewart, who retired in 1973 after winning his third title at the same age as Schumacher, believes the German has seen the dominance of his Ferrari team eroded this year.

"He has to retire sometime," said Stewart. "There's nothing worse than a falling star. The new one soon arrives. Schumacher is currently the best but he must understand that nobody is irreplaceable and nobody is up on the pedestal for too long.

"And, for sure, he will be toppled like everybody else."

Schumacher has won the last three world titles but could still be pipped this year if Kimi Räikkönen can win in Japan and Schumacher finishes out of the points.

Stewart added: "Michael is of course very secure financially, and at some time you've got to move on in life and develop yourself."

10/5/03

McReynolds re-signs with FOX   Larry McReynolds, former crew chief for drivers Dale Earnhardt, Davey Allison and Ernie Irvan, recently signed a three-year extension with FOX that will keep him in the broadcast booth through 2007. McReynolds, who is attending the weekend's events at Kansas Speedway, serves as a commentator during Fox-televised races. He also is co-host of the Speed Channel show "Trackside," which airs on Fridays. In addition, McReynolds, 44, works on Winston Cup and Busch Series qualifying shows. He's been with Fox since 2001, although his mind remains in the pits. "I certainly miss being a crew chief," McReynolds said. "You don't do something for as long as I did it and not miss it. But I certainly enjoy doing what I'm doing. There are days I'm up there in that booth and I feel like I'm crew chief of 43 different teams." Kansas City Star

10/5/03

Chevy could clinch today   If a Chevrolet wins Sunday's race, the company will all but clinch the 2003 Winston Cup manufacturer's title. A victory Sunday at Kansas Speedway would give Chevrolet 216 points. Provided Ford finishes second (worth six points), the margin would be 37 points with six races remaining. Even if Ford won the remaining six races and Chevrolet finished fourth in all six, Chevrolet would still finish one point ahead. Chevrolet leads all manufacturers with 26 championships since 1952, and GM Racing brands have won 34 of the 51 manufacturer's titles in NASCAR history. That's a .667 winning percentage. ThatsRacin.com

10/5/03
DTM

Alesi wins in Hockenheim   Former F1 driver Jean Alesi won today's German DTM race at Hockenheim, Germany in front of 105,000 spectators.  Alesi, driving a Mercedes, barely beat Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R) by + 0.213s.  "It's a fantastic victory," said Alesi. "I had such a great season in a magnificent car. I made some mistakes this year, but now you see that when things come together I can win. Winning in this series is the best thing for a driver if he can't be in Formula 1."  Bernd Schneider and Christijan Albers were divided by one point for the series championship, which was decided by a blown tire... It was exciting until the tire decided it for good in favor of Schneider.

Alesi, third in qualifying, passed Peter Dumbreck (Opel Astra V8 Coupé) after the start at the hairpin and was second after the opening lap behind Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R). Schneider, fifth in qualifying, improved to fourth at the start, Albers remained ninth as in practice.

The Dutchman came in for his first pit stop on lap 6 followed by Schneider one lap later. On lap 14, when the first round of pit stops was over, Schneider was fifth whilst Albers had improved to seventh position. Two laps later, Schneider made an early second stop due to a damaged left rear tyre and dropped to twelfth place. At this point of the race, Albers led the championship. After his second stop on lap 23, Albers rejoined the race behind Schneider and Timo Scheider (Opel Astra V8 Coupé). Two laps later Albers passed Scheider at the hairpin, and another two laps later, again at the hairpin, the Dutchman slid off the track with a damaged left rear tire while in Schneider’s slipstream. Albers returned slowly to the pits for a third stop – this was the end of his championship hopes.

Alesi took the lead on lap 14 and maintained his position until the checkered flag. In the closing stages he defended the lead against charging Ekström who finished second 0.213sec behind. This link will take you to some photos of the event.

Results
1 Jean Alesi (Mercedes) 37 laps in 1hrs 00m 46.013s
2 Mattias Ekström (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 0.213s
3 Marcel Fässler (Mercedes) + 4.295s
4 Peter Dumbreck (Opel) + 5.350s
5 Laurent Aiello (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 7.303s
6 Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) + 14.566s
7 Timo Scheider (Opel) + 26.709s
8 Peter Terting (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 32.935s
9 Christian Abt (Abt-Audi TT-R) + 34.340s

10/5/03

Points leader Kenseth playing catch-up today   Winston Cup points leader Matt Kenseth will be playing catch-up Sunday after having to take a provisional starting position for the second straight week.  Kenseth, who leads Kevin Harvick by 354 points and Earnhardt by 384, crashed in practice and turned in a disappointing lap of 175.547 in qualifying.  Last week, he blew an engine and finished 33rd after starting 37th.  "I don't like to see Matt go sliding into the wall, whether it was at the first of the year or now," said Earnhardt, who qualified third Friday behind Johnson and Mike Skinner. "Numerically, we're still in the mix, but we don't sit there every week and wait for Matt to blow up or smash into the wall."

10/5/03

Pole sitter Johnson to start last today  Jimmie Johnson crashed during a practice lap Saturday at Kansas Speedway, a day after winning the pole for the NASCAR Winston Cup Banquet 400.  Johnson was not injured but had to switch to a backup car, which will force him to drop to the back of the field for the start of Sunday's race.  On Friday, Johnson set a track qualifying record of 180.373 mph in his Chevrolet.  "NASCAR is understanding more and more how we're working things over and finding speed, and then they come through and make a change that bumps us back five miles per hour as a group," said Johnson, who broke the year-old mark of 177.924 by Dale Earnhardt Jr.  "We go to work and try to find somewhere that they're not paying too close attention and find another advantage," said Johnson, who has won three times this year but lost his engine and finished 34th last week at Talladega Superspeedway. "It's just a constant game of cat and mouse."  Photos by CIA Stock Photo

10/4/03

***Reader Question***What can be done about Miami?  UPDATE Another reader writes, I read your proposed layout for the track for Miami, running it through the downtown businesses. Working in downtown I'll tell you 1) it'll never fly with the local businesses. They are complaining as it is because the race slows down their traffic (except the restaurants) and 2) the track already shuts down the streets on Tuesday night for construction. If you had to go into the downtown streets, how much more time would you have to close the streets? It won't happen.  John Marks, Miami  Dear John, Like we said, Miami has to decide if it really wants a race or not. If they don't want it bad enough, then CART should move it to another City that does.  Do you think Bernie Ecclestone would ever accept racing on a 1.15-mile track?  Even Monaco, considered by many to be too small, is over 2-miles in length.  Yes, our proposal would impact more businesses, but we proposed a 2-day affair, leaving Friday open for business as usual. Some of those businesses are closed on weekends anyway. This also means setup can start one day later assuming they hire more workmen to handle the additional streets.  This race is doomed for failure because the City has not really gotten behind the race.  The successful street races have the government subsidizing the event with street and other improvements.  In Miami the City isn't contributing a dime we are told.  The entire bill must be paid by the promoter, CART, and so far they are losing their shirt.  Therefore, the race is doomed unless something is done.  If you recall, Long Beach was in a state of disrepair when the race first started in 1975.  Look at the downtown area now.  A significant improvement.  The additional streets we are proposing to close contain businesses and buildings that are not that attractive and need work.  The City can step in and help these business owners by compensating them for their inconvenience with, say, an interest-free loan and other subsidies to spruce up their storefronts.  By sprucing up this rather run-down part of downtown, people will be more inclined to want to buy goods and frequent these establishments the rest of the year.  There are always ways to mitigate a problem so that it's win-win for everyone.  If not, it will be lose-lose and Miami can kiss their race good-bye as Bernie would say.  Mark C.   10/4/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, I really like the city of Miami and the existing CART street circuit is in a very beautiful location.  However, the track is very Mickey Mouse and really not conducive to a Champ Car race.  Is there anything that can be done to make the track better?  Jimmy Johnstone, Cleveland, OH  Dear Jimmy, Yes, something can be done but it's going to require that the City of Miami 1) Invest money for street repaving, 2) Close down NE 2nd Street, which is a fairly heavily used one-way street that runs north, and 3) Inconvenience a number of businesses/merchants.  The proposed layout we show here superimposed on the 2002 track layout schematic would double the length of the circuit from about 1-mile to about 2-miles. The city would have to detour all NE 2nd Street traffic to NE 1st Street which is also one-way north.  The proposed layout leaves full access to the heavily used Port, but does require the parking lots that are currently used for the CART hospitality area to be resurfaced and regraded to make them suitable for the track.  Will it be painful?  Absolutely!  Because of the impact our proposed layout would have on traffic and merchants, we would make the event a 2-day Saturday and Sunday affair only, leaving streets and access to downtown businesses open on Friday.  There were very few spectators at the track on Friday anyway, so why bother?  Sure the track can be moved to another location in the city, but would it be as picturesque and have all the hotels right there beside the track?  The GP of Monaco has a major impact on traffic and businesses, but they pull it off every year. The City of Miami has to decide whether it wants a race or not.  It's as simple as that.  Mark C.

10/4/03

Hershey Kisses to sponsor Busch race and car  Daytona International Speedway and Hershey Foods officials announced the season-opening NASCAR Busch Series race to be at the "World Center of Racing" on Feb. 14, 2004 will be called the Hershey's Kisses 300. The announcement was made at Kansas Speedway where the NASCAR Busch Series drivers are competing this weekend.

"We are thrilled that Hershey Foods will sponsor the season-opening NASCAR Busch series race -- the Hershey's Kisses 300 -- at the "World Center of Racing,"' said Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig. "We're are proud to be associated with such a quality marketing partner and look forward to working with them."

 

"We are extremely excited about the Hershey's Kisses sponsorship of the Hershey's Kisses 300, the premier Busch Series event of the 2004 season," said Don Gates, Director, Hershey's Kisses brand. "What could be more thrilling -- Hershey's Kisses, Valentine's Day, NASCAR and race fans getting hitched at Daytona International Speedway."

The Hershey's Kisses 300 race will feature a specially painted Hershey's Kisses No. 21 Chevrolet fielded by Richard Childress Racing. Kevin Harvick will drive the Hershey's Kisses No. 21 car in the first Busch Series event of 2004.

In addition to the Hershey's Kisses 300 sponsorship announcement, Hershey Foods also announced the "Tie the Knot at the Hershey's Kisses 300" promotion that will coincide with the Feb. 14 racing event. This unique promotion offers one lucky "race fan" couple the opportunity to get married at the track in Daytona on Valentine's Day prior to the Hershey's Kisses 300 race. Complete contest details are available at hersheyskisses.com.

Tickets for the inaugural running of the Hershey's Kisses 300 and other Speedweeks 2004 events, including NASCAR's most watched event,  the Daytona 500, are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

10/4/03

Ford agrees to supply Minardi for 2004  According to Autosport, although Paul Stoddart was seeking a customer Mercedes engine for 2004, they have reached an agreement with Ford to again supply engines to the Minardi team. Of course the engines are really year or two old Jaguar engines meaning the team has zero chance of ever winning a race!  Their cars are so slow they don't amount to more than moving chicanes.  However, F1 does need someone to clean the dust off the track at the start of each session, hence the teams existence is justified.

10/4/03

IRL asked to switch from Methanol to Ethanol   This AP article says, Already powerful on Capitol Hill, the ethanol industry is trying to popularize the corn-based fuel by getting it into auto racing cars.

Ethanol's backers are asking the Indy Racing League to make the switch to ethanol, replacing the natural gas-made methanol used by the league since the 1970s. [Editor's Note, the IRL has only been around since 1996.]

"It's like those commercials where the race car driver says, `I use this particular type of oil in my own car.' What does that tell people?" said Republican Sen. Jim Talent. "The key here is advertising and further acceptance of ethanol."

Talent belongs to the Senate Biofuels Caucus, a group of lawmakers dedicated to increasing the use of ethanol. His home state of Missouri has two ethanol manufacturing plants, and farmer-owned cooperative Mid-Missouri Energy is breaking ground Saturday on a third in Malta Bend, Mo.

Caucus members, including Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., urged Indy Racing to adopt ethanol in a letter to president and CEO Tony George. The league's officials are open to the idea, if ethanol makers are willing to pay for it.

"We would be interested in doing it, but it is a decision that would have to be a commercial decision for us," said Fred J. Nation, executive vice president of communications for the Indy Motor Speedway, which owns the league.

"That is, if we had a fuel sponsor who wanted to be involved in advertising ethanol and wanted to be involved in our series, we would give it serious consideration," Nation said.

But he pointed out that a switch would provide a symbolic gesture, rather than opening a new market for ethanol. Indy Racing and its premier race, the Indianapolis 500, uses fewer than 60,000 gallons of fuel each year. That's less than the amount of ethanol produced annually in Missouri alone.

The symbol is exactly what the industry is looking for because of the booming popularity of auto racing.

"Obviously, being associated with the Indy Racing League would be a tremendous opportunity for our industry, given the high profile of racing," said Monte Shaw, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association. "It's the great American race, and we're the great American fuel, so it seems like we ought to be able to work something out."

10/4/03

BAR drops Jacques Villeneuve for 2004  Formula 1 driver Jacques Villeneuve will be dropped by British American Racing for the 2004 season. "We received a call from BAR Managing Director, David Richards, (Friday) informing us of their decision," stated Craig Pollock, Villeneuve's agent. "What is so disappointing is the fact that this team was built for and around Jacques, and he underwent all sorts of trials and tribulations over the years as BAR struggled to find its place in Formula One."  "Jacques never wavered, and his loyalty to British American Racing was constant. He had other opportunities, and no one would have blamed him for going elsewhere, but he preferred to see this project through despite a car that did not live up to its expectations."  "Our primary emotions right now are sadness and disappointment; Jacques has given everything to British American Racing in its first five years, and always with a view to building a team that would be front-of-the-grid some day," Pollock added.  There is some possibility that Takuma Sato could replace Villeneuve for the final race in Japan at the request of engine supplier Honda.  With no Canadian driver in the lineup next year, it's probably better F1 didn't race in Canada anyway.  Perhaps by 2005 another Canadian will be identified to fill Villeneuve's shoes in F1.

10/4/03
Industry News

Petty and Force on Wind Tunnel next week  Richard Petty (Tuesday, Oct. 7) and John Force (Thursday, Oct. 9) will be guests next week on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9 p.m. on SPEED Channel.

10/4/03

CART race at Laguna Seca up in the air  This Monterey Herald article gives the latest on the status of the 2004 CART race at Laguna Seca.  In essence it's up in the air.  Attendance has been dismal in recent years, and there is talk of moving the race back to the fall.  Will that bring back the crowds?  Perhaps, but we have our reservations unless the promoter can make significant changes to attract fans down from Silicon Valley and San Francisco.  Mark C.

10/4/03

Carmen Electra Named Grand Marshal for Oct. 11 UAW-GM Quality 500  Multi-faceted entertainer Carmen Electra has been named grand marshal for the Oct. 11 UAW-GM Quality 500 NASCAR Winston Cup event at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Electra joins a star-studded pre-race show that includes a concert by 3 Doors Down and a parade lap by the No. 3 "Victory Lap" Chevrolet driven by Richard Childress. In her role as grand marshal for one of the country's largest, single-day sporting events, Electra will attend the NASCAR Winston Cup drivers' meeting prior to the race, give the "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines" command and ride "shot gun" in the Chevrolet Monte Carlo pace car leading the field before the green flag. A crowd of 150,000 is expected for the 500-mile race, the first run under the lights in October. Perhaps best known for replacing Pamela Anderson on the hit television series "Baywatch" in 1997, Electra has enjoyed tremendous success as an actress and model. She has appeared on several television shows and special events, including as host of MTV's "Loveline" and "Singled Out." In addition to her grand marshal duties, Electra will join the "Livin' Large" production crew for a visit with the stars of NASCAR and a "behind-the-scenes" look at Lowe's Motor Speedway during the UAW-GM Quality 500. Born Tara Leigh Patrick in White Oak, Ohio, Electra was "discovered" by Prince while pursuing a singing career. Lowes Motor Speedway PR

10/4/03

NASCAR favoring DEI has garage in uproar  Questions about NASCAR's post-race Talladega inspection, with rivals wondering about a possible NASCAR tilt toward DEI stars #15-Michael Waltrip and #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. Waltrip and Earnhardt have dominated Daytona and Talladega for three years now, and Waltrip's win Sunday in Alabama was DEI's ninth in the past 12 at the two plate tracks. So rivals are suspicious, and when NASCAR inspectors surprised Talladega's runner-ups by not checking the rear-quarterpanel heights of the Waltrip and Earnhardt Chevys, there were howls. NASCAR's no check was all the more surprising because Earnhardt and Jason Keller, in a third DEI car, were busted in Friday inspections for being too low.  More at the Winston Salem Journal

10/4/03

Legault again meets with F1 bosses   UPDATE According to this Quebec newspaper article, the government will buy publicity to cover the $7 million shortfall that Legault has.  The final decision as to whether the Canadian GP will happen in 2004 is affecting CART's release of their final 2004 schedule.  As Molson's Bob Singleton told AutoRacing1.com exclusively in Miami, CART may take the traditional June F1 date (instead of running in August) if the F1 race does not happen.  Mark C. 10/3/03 - This Canadian Press article says, A group of downtown merchants plans to raise $2 million to help save the Canadian Grand Prix, which has been dropped from the 2004 racing calendar.

Alain Creton, owner of the restaurant Alexandre, said Friday the group has already collected $200,000.  "The private sector has to assert itself," Creton told a news conference.  The racing event brings in about $80 million annually to Montreal's economy.  Creton said he was told it would be politically difficult for the provincial government to consider putting up any money to help save the event without the private sector also kicking in financially.

Meanwhile, Canadian Grand Prix organizer Normand Legault was to meet Friday in London with Formula One's directors in a last-ditch effort to save the Montreal race. Montreal La Presse reported Friday that Legault is trying to put together a complicated financial package to compensate teams for the loss of sponsorship revenues due to the application of Canada's anti-tobacco law.   The law, which went into effect Oct. 1, prohibits tobacco companies from sponsoring sports and cultural events and was one of the reasons cited by Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone for knocking Montreal off the calendar.

La Presse said that Legault's proposed $30 million financing package is still $7 million short. Creton said he believes many are willing to contribute to the fund, either "those who profit directly or indirectly, including newspapers that sell a lot of ads and put out special supplements."  He also said he'd like the federal government and the city's major hotel chains to contribute to the effort.

10/3/03

GM of Vancouver race sacked  This Canada.com article says that when worst came to worst, when he was fired from his dream job, Stu Ballantyne still had his sense of humor. "I wish I'd returned your call [Monday] night, but I got in so late," the former general manager of the Vancouver Indy told The Province on Tuesday after getting his pink slip from Molson. "I wouldn't have gone into work today." To say Ballantyne saw it coming would be to say Paul Tracy is a timid driver. Ballantyne spent the weekend at a CART race in Miami with Bob Singleton, the Vice President of Molstar Sports and Entertainment, the arm of Molson that runs the Vancouver and Toronto Indy's, among other things. They arrived back in Toronto -- where Molson had relocated Ballantyne in January 2002 -- late on Monday evening. Tuesday morning, Ballantyne was given his walking papers ......Singleton said knowing Ballantyne would be fired made last weekend's Miami trip awkward. "Absolutely," Singleton said. "Stuart is a friend of mine."   The Vancouver and Toronto races have contracts for 2004, then come up for renegotiation.

Singleton said Molson will lobby hard to gain extensions for both.  "With reference to negotiating future races, the bigger decision will be on the health of CART," Singleton said of the struggling series. "Vancouver is in the same boat as Toronto. We want to be back in both cities after 2004.  "It's all about business, all about the health of CART and all about getting bang for your buck."

Molstar will announce a corporate restructuring next week, which will include naming a director of operations to handle day-to-day details in Vancouver. Singleton will oversee the running of both Vancouver and Toronto, he said.

"I know I don't live in B.C." Singleton said. "But there will be one voice [speaking for both races] now. I'll be out there as much as possible and we'll treat B.C. with as much attention as Ontario.". More ...

10/3/03

NASCAR a good fit for Toronto  This Toronto Sun article talks about Tony Stewart's opinon that NASCAR needs to expand into Canada.  The Indiana native said that it wouldn't even have to mean more dates on the already heavy 38-race Winston Cup schedule.

"We don't need more dates," he said. "We could easily move a date from a track that already has two dates. That's happening next year with California getting a race from Rockingham."

While NASCAR traditionalists say the sport is ignoring history by moving more and more events out of the southern U.S., Stewart says it's a simple matter of numbers -- as in how many rear ends are in the seats on Sunday afternoon.

"I think it's a situation at some tracks where attendance isn't that great," Stewart said. "We need to look, then, at moving that date to someplace like Toronto, where you could pack the event."

Stewart has no doubt whatsoever that Canada in general and Toronto in particular would draw huge numbers for NASCAR.

He said that while he is a fan of the Molson Indy and open wheel Indy car racing, it wouldn't take long to win over those fans if the CART Champ Car World Series failed and had to be replaced.

"I think people would forget about the Indy car racing in Toronto if they ever got a Winston Cup race up here," Tracy said. "I would love to see it."

10/3/03
Industry News

Richmond repaving project underway  Richmond International Raceway will undergo a facelift for 2004 with the first repaving of the 0.75-mile track since its 1988 reconfiguration. The multimillion-dollar project, which began this week with the demolition of the existing asphalt, also will include the installation of a state-of-the-art sub-surface underdrain system. The new surface should be completed in about six weeks. The asphalt will need about three to four months to cure, allowing cars on the track by April - when teams normally begin spring testing. RIR will play host to its first NASCAR weekend next season May 13-15.
RIR President Doug Frtiz said the new drainage system was the impetus for tearing up the asphalt. In May, Busch Series qualifying was delayed for several hours because of "weepers," accumulated water beneath the track seeping through cracks in Turns 1 and 2. Several grooves were cut into the asphalt to help drain the water as a short-term fix. Engineers will survey the project to ensure the D-shaped oval's banking - 14 degrees in the turns, 8 degrees on the frontstretch and 2 degrees on the backstretch - isn't altered during construction. RIR also is constructing a 170-space motorhome lot behind the backstretch for NASCAR drivers and car owners. The SAFER wall, which made its RIR debut in all four turns for the NASCAR tripleheader Sept. 4-6, has been removed temporarily for repaving. Fritz said repaving hasn't ruled out a possible expansion of the track's 105,000-seat capacity for next year. RIR added a few thousand seats in the fall of 2002.  Richmond Times Dispatch

10/3/03

Wheldon to run bosses colors & number   When Michael Andretti retired after the Indianapolis 500 on May 25, rookie Dan Wheldon lost one of the most valuable teammates in open-wheel racing. But, he also gained one of the best crews in the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar™ Series, as Andretti’s supporting cast transitioned over to Wheldon’s #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone beginning with the IRL’s first stop at Texas Motor Speedway on June 7. Since then, Wheldon has acquired much more from Andretti – chiefly knowledge and information -- that has helped make him a familiar sight in and around the top-five week-in and week-out since mid-summer. Now, as the series prepares to return to Texas for the season finale on Oct. 12, he is picking up a few more things from Andretti – his number, his colors and his sponsor, Team 7-Eleven. Wheldon, who has driven his red-white-and-black Klein Tools/Jim Beam entry to within four points of the rookie of the year crown, will try to secure that title, as well as his first career win, behind the wheel of the #7 Team 7-Eleven Honda-powered Dallara at Texas. As a teammate to Tony Kanaan, Wheldon’s ride will carry the predominantly green-and- white paint scheme that defined Andretti’s car at the start of the season, but will also include a significant Klein Tools and Jim Beam presence. Wheldon, who has recorded four top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 13 starts, is hoping to add to Team 7-Eleven’s impressive 2003 statistical record with his one-race contribution at Texas. In a combined 19 starts by Andretti and Kanaan this year, Team 7-Eleven entries have scored three poles, one win, 10 top-fives, 14 top-10s, and have led 349 laps. DAN WHELDON, #7 TEAM 7-ELEVEN DALLARA/HONDA/FIRESTONE: “I’ve definitely picked up a lot of tangible things from Michael since he got out of the car and it is certainly going to be interesting running his paint scheme and his number. But, most of what he has given me this year is stuff that you can’t see or lay your hands on. To be honest, I don’t think people can really understand the extent of Michael’s knowledge if they haven’t worked with him directly. “As a rookie, you’re racing against some of the best drivers in the world and they’re all a lot more experienced than you. Michael bridges that gap. He can give you an answer as to why you’re experiencing it or how you can make it a little bit better. Sometimes it’s just nice to have somebody around that has won a lot of races and isn’t pretentious in any way. He is there to help. He is there to help you win and that means a lot to me. “Obviously, 7-Eleven is a great sponsor of the team and I’m very proud to drive for them in their hometown. I definitely enjoy racing at Texas and feel I can win the race if the stars all line up my way. But, there is a lot at stake for our whole team in Texas. I want to help Tony win the overall championship and I want to win rookie of the year. If I can do all that in one day I’ll be very, very happy.”   AGR PR

10/3/03

Haas resigns from CART Board  Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) announced today that team owner Carl Haas, who along with Paul Newman are the co-owners of Newman Haas Racing, resigned his position on September 22, 2003 as a member of the Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. Board of Directors. Chris Pook, CART’s President and CEO, offered his thanks to Mr. Haas for the contributions he made as a Board member. “Throughout his tenure on Championship’s Board of Directors, Carl has provided a wealth of experience and insight,” Pook said. “We appreciate the time and effort he has devoted to CART, his vision and his support of the series, its shareholders and the sport.” Mr. Haas stated, “My resignation should not be construed as a current lack of support for CART.” Mr. Newman stated, “I am committed to CART, that’s the end of the discussion.”

10/3/03

F1 bosses overhaul qualifying   Formula One bosses have agreed to revamp the 2004 grand prix timetable by limiting qualifying to one expanded Saturday session and scrapping private testing on race weekends. Minardi boss Paul Stoddart told Reuters after a meeting of the International Automobile Federation's (FIA) Formula One Commission on Friday that he was disappointed. "From the smaller teams' point of view, there's nothing in it for us," he said.
FREE PRACTICE
Friday free practice would be from 1100 to 1200 and from 1400 to 1500 local time, filling the space used by first qualifying this year. Saturday's qualifying would be expanded to run from 1400 to 1530, with morning free practice as usual, and each driver having two timed laps instead of just one at present. Stoddart said the qualifying order would be determined by the result of the previous race, rather than the championship positions as happens now. The driver with the slowest initial lap would then be first out for the decisive qualifying lap. Stoddart said testing will be limited to 48 days per team during the season, which runs from March to October, with no limitations out of season. There were no changes to the Sunday timetable. Sunday qualifying was considered. "If we put qualifying on Sunday morning, there would be even less interest on Saturday," said BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen last weekend. "You want all the speculation on Saturdays.
ENGINE RULES
The rules covering engines are also due to change next year with teams limited to one engine per car for the weekend, which will be deemed to have started with Friday's first practice. In theory, that means an engine may have to last up to 700 km.  Reuters

10/3/03

Toyota team loses F1 sponsor   The Toyota F1 team has lost one of its sponsors, only halfway through a five-year deal. Travelex, the world's largest foreign exchange specialist, is ending its sponsorship deal with Toyota as a result of the sport's failure to capture the global, and in particular the USA, market (like we said below, Bernie made a strategic error in not bringing CART and F1 together when he had the chance.  Actually, it's not totally Bernie's fault as the manufacturers and the banks were concerned Bernie would not focus 100% on F1.  We believe they will live to regret this shortsightedness because the NAFTA market is simply too big to ignore). "With the change in strategy it no longer makes sense to continue with Toyota and Formula One, which goes unnoticed in North America," head of group marketing at Travelex Anthony Wagerman, told Marketing Week. The same magazine claims that Canon is pulling out of its F1 trackside signage deal to concentrate on next year's Euro 2004 soccer championships, the final of which occur on the same day at the British GP.

10/3/03
Industry News

Canadian Prime Minister wants to smoke Marijuana  Let's see, the Canadian Prime Minister wants to smoke Marijuana but Players can't advertise on the side of race cars? There is no justice in this world.  This Reuters article says, Now Canada can understand why Prime Minister Jean Chretien seems to be in such a hurry to push through a law decriminalizing marijuana. Chretien, 69, said in an interview published on Friday that he might give pot a try once it is no longer a criminal offense -- presumably after he retires in February. Under the new law, pot users would only pay a fine if caught with small amounts. "I don't know what is marijuana. Perhaps I will try it when it will no longer be criminal. I will have my money for my fine and a joint in the other hand," he said in an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press. Over the objections of the U.S. administration, Chretien's government has introduced a bill which would end criminal penalties for possession of 15 grams (half an ounce, or 15 to 30 joints) of marijuana. It would remain illegal, however, but only tickets would be handed out. Some members of Chretien's Liberal Party oppose the bill, however, and it was uncertain whether it would pass in time for his retirement.

10/3/03

CART finds a drafting partner for LVMS  This Las Vegas Sun article talks about CART's pending race in Las Vegas and the idea of a U2 concert in conjunction with it.

10/3/03

CART Mid-Ohio race on hold  This Mansfield News Journal article talks about CART's race being on hold at Mid-Ohio.  Champ Car racing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course remains under a yellow flag.  But there is a possibility of it going green. CART has 15 confirmed venues for next year. Under a heading of "Dates to be confirmed," Mid-Ohio was joined by permanent road courses at Portland and Laguna Seca. Events at Brands Hatch in England, EuroSpeedway in Germany and a new venue in Korea also are possibilities.   CART's plan is to run 16 to 18 events in 2004.  "That would mean we're still in talks and trying to work something out," Mid-Ohio media relations coordinator Reece White said. "We're really no further along than we were a couple weeks ago, but it's a sign they're still willing to talk."  Michelle Trueman Gajoch, president of TrueSports, which owns and operates the track, has been talking with CART Chief Operating Officer David Clare since the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio in August. She is not in the office this week and unable to comment.   White said he did not know of any discussions between Mid-Ohio and the Indy Racing League, the other U.S. open-wheel series, which plans to go road racing by 2005.  "I don't know if we're far away from a decision one way or another," White said.

10/3/03

Gonzalez completes very successful pre-Mexico City test  Champ Car Rookie Roberto Gonzalez yesterday completed a highly successful test at Putnam Park just outside Indianapolis in the #4 Herdez Competition/Nextel Lola that he will race in next weekend’s Gran Premio de Mexico. The test was originally scheduled for Monday, September 29th at Sebring International Raceway in Florida but inclement weather forced the team to abandon the test after only seven laps.

Thursday’s test saw Gonzalez run 115 laps of the 1.766 mile circuit without putting a wheel wrong. In fact, by the end of the day he had set a new official track record of 52.91 seconds. The previous record had been in place since 1998 when Greg Moore set a lap of 53.41 (June 3rd) and was then pipped by Alex Barron (August 4th) with a time of 53.23 seconds. Knocking more than 3/10ths of a second from this record was a thrill for Gonzalez and the entire Herdez Competition/Nextel crew. Gonzalez and the team also practiced pit stops throughout the day, further preparing him for race conditions.

 

Team Manager Vince Kremer expressed it best; “It was a very positive test overall. The engineering team got very good feedback from Roberto. He adjusted quickly to being back in the car and ran very well. We’re very pleased and excited with the results of the day.”

Gonzalez was also happy with the day’s results. “I felt very comfortable in the Champ Car pretty much from the first lap. When you consider that I haven’t been in a race car since February, it says a lot for the team as well. They gave me a very, very good car to work with. It was great to get a chance to get to know the mechanics and the engineers a bit better before next weekend’s big race in Mexico City. It’s a huge event for Herdez and Nextel and all of our fans and friends. I feel much more confident now going into this race.”

The team’s transporters and crew will begin departing for Mexico City on Monday in preparation for the largest single event on the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series calendar, the Gran Premio de Mexico, October 10-12, 2003. (Please credit LAT USA/Walt Kuhn)

10/3/03

Vasser looks forward to CART race in Vegas  This Las Vegas Review Journal article talks about CART's pending race in Las Vegas and what local resident and CART veteran, Jimmy Vasser thinks about it.  Vasser's only experience on the 1.5-mile tri-oval at the speedway was testing an Indy car for owner Chip Ganassi in 2000.   "It probably makes more sense to have it at the speedway because it's there and it would be less disruptive to the town," Vasser said. "However, if they could find the right street circuit with the background being the Strip, how could that go wrong? It would be like Monaco."

10/3/03

CART pulls 1.7 1.3 1.5 final TV rating in Miami  3rd UPDATE The latest Nielsen Ratings show CART's live CBS broadcast of Miami with a 1.3 and 1.8 million viewers, but what was neglected was the fact that the tape delay CBS broadcast in other markets got a 0.2 rating and 306,000 viewers.  Therefore, should the combined rating for CART's Miami broadcast be a 1.5 with 2.1 million viewers?   And you wonder why we maintain CART must put as many races as possible on CBS in 2004? Mark C. 10/2/03 - Last week's Grand Prix Americas continued the year-long trend of increasing Nielsen ratings in the races shown on CBS, drawing the season's highest ratings as 1.45 million households tuned in to see Mario Dominguez take his second career victory. Seen live in 85 markets and tape-delayed in the rest of the country, the 16th race of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season drew a final rating of 1.3. The last three CBS races have drawn over 1.2 million households with ratings climbing to 1.3. The audience for CART Champ Car events on CBS has more than doubled from the beginning of the season. "These ratings continue to reward our confidence in CBS and theirs in our series," said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. "We are all looking forward to continuing our partnership in the coming years and intend to maximize the potential of the relationship." CBS has already committed to a return to the series for next season, announcing that it will carry as many as 10 races in 2004. The remaining three races of the 2003 season, which will feature the chase for the Vanderbilt Cup, are slated to be broadcast on SPEED Channel.   10/2/03 - CART's overnight TV rating was a 1.4 and a 3 share, not the 1.7 that was originally reported.  Still better than expected given so many markets were tape delayed and going up against the Talladega race and NFL games.  9/30/03 - Despite being tape delayed in many markets, going head-to-head with football and with NASCAR's Talladega race, CART pulled a 1.7 overnight rating on CBS for Sunday's Miami race.  Although we expect the final number to be down around last year's 1.4, this is quite respectable compared to say the IRL, which pulled a 0.6 on ABC in a similar situation the previous week and whose TV ratings have been down all year despite a tight championship battle.  This also underscores why CART must put the majority of its races on CBS.  If it's going to attract new sponsors, it's going to need ratings at least this high at every race.  Once it builds a solid hardcore fan base, then SPEED Channel might make sense.

10/3/03

Final Talladega TV rating  NBC Sports’ broadcast of last Sunday’s EA Sports 500 from Talladega Superspeedway set a record as the highest national rating ever for any auto race in competition with a professional football broadcast, a 5.5 national rating/ 12 share, according to Nielsen Media Research.

10/3/03

***Reader Opinion***Prefers SPEED over Spike  A reader writes, Dear AR1, Your rationale in the rumors section does make sense. However I would prefer that CART remain on SPEED and continue with the CBS plan. SPEED is channel for motorsport fans and aficionados. I think that on SPIKE, CART will get sandwiched between Star Trek reruns and basically be lost in a confusing mess. SPEED is still the fastest growing sports channel on cable and over the long term CART and SPEED will be better off as partners. Alex Ardussi, US Army stationed overseas  Dear Alex, While we agree that someday CART may be better off on SPEED when SPEED reaches enough households, right now CART is fighting for its survival.  It can't attract new sponsors and, therefore, survive, with TV ratings of 150,000 households, which it gets on SPEED.  As we see with Miami last weekend, CART gets decent ratings with CBS (1.3 final), better than the IRL gets on ABC, but mysteriously those ratings plummet on SPEED to 1/10th that of CBS.  CART must first rebuild itself while SPEED continues to build its households.  Perhaps someday it will make sense for CART races to again be broadcast on SPEED.  As for Spike TV, you will see CART's ratings far better on Spike (assuming that's the deal CART signs) because 1) Spike TV, formerly TNN, reaches far more households, and 2) the image of Spike TV fits in perfectly with CART and MotoRock's efforts to attract the Fast and Furious younger generation.  Mark C.

10/3/03

Hans Stuck to return to ALMS  After a reluctant absence of two years, one of the most popular and successful drivers in the history of professional sports car racing will be returning to American Le Mans Series competition in the season-ending Petit Le Mans Oct. 15-18 at Road Atlanta.

Hans Stuck, whose world-class racing career is still going strong past his 50th birthday, will pick up where he left off, returning to the scene of his last American Le Mans Series race and victory. And he will also be driving for the same racing team and with the same two co-drivers he was with when he won the GT class in the 2001 running of the Petit Le Mans.

Stuck, a native of Germany who lives in Austria, will co-drive with Californians Boris Said and Bill Auberlen in a reunion with Prototype Technology Group in a BMW E46. In a celebration of the 25th anniversary of its ADVAN brand, Yokohama Rubber Company of Japan (parent company of U.S.-based Yokohama Tire Corporation) will sponsor the Petit Le Mans effort.

"I have missed it," said Stuck of racing in the American Le Mans Series, where he was a regular competitor from the formation of the series in 1999 and has four career wins. "I love long-distance racing where the whole team has to perform to the utmost, and I love racing in traffic with lots of different cars."

The Petit Le Mans, which will close the fifth season of the American Le Mans Series, will cover 1,000 miles or 10 hours, whichever comes first, on the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit. Four classes of ALMS cars will compete in the event, ranging from the sleek and ultra-fast Prototypes to the production-based GT cars.

Considered one of racing's great characters, Stuck has been hugely popular with fans and other drivers throughout his long career. Showing his heritage, he yodels on the podium after every race win, and is usually asked to repeat the performance in post-race press conferences.

"To win the Petit Le Mans two years ago meant a lot to me because it was another important win in one of the most famous long-distance races," said Stuck, whose racing resume includes overall wins in both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

"Our target for this year is a podium finish," he said. "It will be very difficult because the team and the drivers have not had much practice in this kind of format for quite a long time. Also our car is pretty new in this configuration and did not undergo a lot of testing. But PTG is famous for out-of-the-box preparations so we will see."

The son of a famous European racer, Stuck's celebrated career includes a stint in Formula One racing for five seasons in the 1970s. He has competed in nearly every major form of road racing in the United States and abroad and has been a winner in almost all. He won six major championships between 1985 and 1993, the latest being the IMSA Supercar title in 1993 with seven consecutive race wins. His other titles include the German Touring Car title in 1990, the German Supercup Series title in 1986 and 1987 and the FIA Sportscar World Championship in 1985 and 1986.

He had consecutive victories at Le Mans in 1986 and 1987 and was the Sebring overall winner in 1975, 1986 and 1988. Stuck also represented road racing in the International Race of Champions (IROC) in 1986.

The Petit Le Mans will get the green flag at 11:30 a.m. (ET) on Saturday, Oct. 18. Practice, qualifying and support series races will be held beginning Wednesday, Oct. 15. Ticket information is available from Road Atlanta by calling 1-800-849-7223 or online at www.roadatlanta.com.   ALMS PR

10/3/03

Ford cuts ties with Jasper, Jasper responds  2nd UPDATE When Penske jumped from Ford to Dodge this season, he had 90 Ford engines race ready for Ryan Newman, Rusty Wallace and Blaney. But Penske didn't want his secret-engine technology falling into anyone else's hands, so Blaney was to continue running the Ford stuff until it was all used. And Blaney would then be switching to Dodge for 2004. Winston Salem Journal 10/2/03 - Jasper Motorsports has acknowledged Ford Racing’s option to terminate their contingency contract for running a competitors car in the EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway last week. Prior to running a Ford competitor’s product at Talladega, Mark Harrah, co-owner of Jasper Motorsports, called Greg Specht, manager of Ford Racing Operations. Specht informed Harrah that doing so would be cause for termination of the agreement between Ford and Jasper Motorsports. “I spoke with Greg, before we even made the decision,” said Harrah. “We meant no disrespect to Ford, but our contract was a minor contingency contract. The tangibles stated within the Ford contract were not enough to influence our decision,” he continued. “We were forced to look out for our sponsor. We took a chance in hopes to run more competitively and it paid off. It was our best finish at a superspeedway since February 2001.” Currently, Jasper Motorsports plans to run the Ford Taurus through the end of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Season. Despite Ford’s decision to negate the contract, Jasper Motorsports accepts and respects the resolution as a business decision. Currently the team is working with Ford to gratify the Termination Clause established in the contract of record that provides 30 days to acknowledge and close out the relationship. Jasper Motorsports PR  10/1/03 - Ford Racing Technology has dissolved its formal association with Jasper Motorsports in NASCAR's Winston Cup Series. Jasper Motorsports, which was under contract to field the #77 Jasper Engines Ford Taurus for the entire 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season, violated a fundamental provision in its agreement with Ford Motor Company by competing in last Sunday's EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in a Dodge. Over the weekend, Ford informed the team that it was in breach of contract. On Tuesday, the automaker declared the contract null and void and informed the team that it would repossess all existing Ford assets and discontinue further operational support. "What happened at Talladega was unacceptable," said Greg Specht, manager of Ford Racing Operations. "To be a Ford team, you have to run a Ford."  Ford

10/3/03

Tony Stewart launches new website  For race fans looking for a behind-the-scenes look into the life of Tony Stewart, look no further than SmokeVIP.com. The recently launched subscription-based site provides an array of web entertainment including streaming audio/video, candid photos, screen savers, and e-postcards just to name a few of the features. Tonystewart.com will remain a free and up-to-date website where information about the #20 Home Depot Racing Team and the #20 World of Outlaws team can be obtained. All other aspects of tonystewart.com - message boards, appearance listings, pre and post-race reports and the online store - will also remain the same. However, for those who can't get enough of Tony Stewart, SmokeVIP.com is the place to be.

10/3/03
Industry News


Crews remove the bridge at Turn 6 in advance of grading the hillside at Infineon Raceway.
(Photo by Jon Patten)

More safety improvements slated for Infineon Raceway  Competitor safety continues to be the central theme at Infineon Raceway as crews begin work this week on two areas of the twisting road course.

 

The bridges at Turns 1 and 6 (Carousel) will be removed, and the adjoining hillsides will be graded back to create additional runoff for both racecars and motorcycles. Once the grading is complete, new bridges will be installed, with the Turn 1 bridge being moved west toward Turn 2 by approximately 100 feet.

 

Although this portion of the project has been planned for several years, it entails the demolition of the raceway's original wastewater treatment facility, work that could not be performed prior to activating the track's new waste water facilities earlier this year.

This latest $2 million project is part of Infineon Raceway’s comprehensive three-year modernization plan, which began in 2000 and is near completion. Much of the $60 million project has focused on competitor safety and has included:

1. Additional runoff at virtually every turn on the road course.
2. Repaving of the entire road course.
3. Creation of a new pit road that accommodates a 43-car starting grid.
4. Permanent separation of the road course from the quarter-mile drag strip.

The grading of the hillside at Turn 1 will give competitors approximately 130 feet of runoff, which is 100 more than they currently have. Moreover, the bridge abutment at Turn 1 should no longer be a factor once the new bridge is built and positioned 100 feet up the track.

"This is a long-awaited piece of the overall track improvement puzzle and it's terrific to see that work actually under way," said Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway.

An additional 80 feet of runoff will be created at Turn 6 by grading the hillside. The new bridge will be positioned in the same spot, overlooking the Carousel, but will obviously be much longer, taking the abutment out of play.

The safety enhancements will aid every form of racing at Infineon Raceway, including NASCAR, American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Superbikes and American Le Mans Series sports cars.

“Competitor safety will increase immensely once we are done with this project,” said Jere Starks, vice president of facilities at Infineon Raceway. “The runoff at Turn 1 has been a major point of contention, especially by riders on the AMA circuit. I believe they will be pleased, as will the other sanctioning bodies, when they return to the raceway.”

This marks the second major off-season project at Infineon Raceway as the road course was repaved in August. As part of the repaving, more than 3,000 feet of French Edge Drains were installed to keep water from draining under the track surface — the raceway is just 15 feet above sea level. Curbing was also added at Turns 2, 6, 8 and 10. Portions of the road course that were repaved included Turns 1-3, 6-8 and 11. Turns 4-5, 9-10, 12 and the Chute were repaved prior to the 2003 season.

10/3/03

Did Ecclestone miss out on golden opportunity?  It's not like Bernie Ecclestone to overlook golden opportunities.  AR1 published a number of articles about Bernie Ecclestone buying CART, including this one titled, What Bernie brings to CART.  In our opinion, there was a good opportunity for the Formula One concept to strengthen its hold on the international market by aligning CART and F1.  As you have read on these pages (Rumors Page.  This was also mentioned on the HOT NEWS Page in the 9/30/03 article, ECCLESTONE SPEAKS, in the paragraph titled, "Ecclestone on why he didn't get involved in the CART series.") Bernie admitted publicly just recently that he indeed did have a strong interest in CART and almost did the deal, but there was a concern it would take his focus away from F1.  In our opinion that was a strategic error in judgment on Bernie's part and on the F1 manufacturers part.  As this Grandprix.com article points out, these are bad times for European manufacturers, and hence F1 which, except for Toyota and Honda, is primarily based on those manufacturers.  We made the argument that the North American market was the biggest market for most manufacturers, and here was a golden goose staring them right in the face.  If F1 could have gotten their engine costs down by mandating multiple race weekends per engine (6 was proposed, 2 will happen in 2004) then the money saved could have been used to supply all the CART teams with the same V10 engines at no additional cost than what was spent in 2003 for 3 engines per weekend, and now the big North American market would have been opened to them in a much bigger way than just the current 1 or 2 races per year.  Craig Pollock even threw out the new name American Grand Prix Series for CART.  The whole concept never materialized and, while the future looks secure for both F1 and CART, we still maintain that The War of the Worlds has yet to be fought, and there will come a day when the road racing cartel will wish they had solidified their fortress in 2003 when the golden goose was sitting right in their laps. The question is, did it lay a golden egg that Bernie intends to incubate for now and hatch in the coming years?  Hmmm.....  Mark C.

10/3/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items  

Verstappen Slams Struggling Minardi Team
Commission Discusses Three Cars Per Team
Montoya Cools After 'Big Blow' At Indy
Pollock Eyes Eddie Jordan's F1 Team
Dumped Pizzonia To Test BMW-Williams Car
Montagny Aims To Retain Modesty
Schu: 'No Intention' of Quitting Early
Young Aces Try F1 Power For Size
Villeneuve Smarts At Fall From Grace
Stoddart Predicts No Change For '04
Verstappen Targets Jordan, Jaguar Drives
Toyota's Gascoyne On 'Gardening Leave'
Bernie: Say Something Controversial!
Schumacher Leads Field At Mugello
Honda Unveil 'Suzuka Special' Engine
Jaguar Still Fighting For Fifth Place
McLaren To Pay $25 Million For Montoya
Schu 'Will Be Toppled,' Says Former Champion
Wirdheim Disappointed With BAR Run
Wilson: Last-Chance Saloon In Suzuka

10/3/03

Former American/Japanese F1 BAR test driver seeks CART ride  UPDATE Here is a related article on Fukuda from CART.com.  9/27/03 - 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.

10/3/03

Castroneves, Herta test Milwaukee Mile    IndyCar Series cars took to The Milwaukee Mile for the first time Oct. 1 with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Andretti Green Racing driver Bryan Herta taking part in an IRL-sanctioned test. The IndyCar Series will compete at “The Mile” for the first time on July 25, 2004. “The test went really well at Milwaukee,” Herta said. “I've always enjoyed racing there because it is a very good track. The Archipelago/Motorola crew gave me a good car, and it was comfortable right from the start. It is hard to say what the racing will be like next year because we were the only ones running today. Also, it was very cold, so our lap times really aren’t indicative of what the cars will be running here next year.” The high temperature on Oct. 1 in Milwaukee was 50 degrees, 17 degrees below normal. [Editor's Note: IRL teams have tire warmers, therefore temperatures should not have had a big affect. Assuming the driver is pushing the car hard and the tires are really working, tire temps should not have been a factor. CART raced there this year with the temperatures in the 40's and put on a good show.]  IRL PR

10/3/03

Indy Cars easy for Mark Taylor    Mark Taylor, the 2003 Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion, tested a Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone IndyCar Series car Oct. 1 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The test marked Taylor’s first laps in an IndyCar Series car.

“It felt very comfortable, really,” Taylor said. “The extra power is a big difference, and you have to be careful with it. There are a lot more little gadgets on it that you have to get used to. That was the biggest thing I was struggling with, using the pit limiter and different knobs that are there.

“It is nice to have that much horsepower under you. It is just a great experience. It is what I want to do.”  [Editor's Note: Driving an IndyCar is so easy that by his second flying lap, he had reached an average lap speed of 217.887mph and, by the end of the day, was running in the 219s, ending up as the fastest driver on the day, ahead of Team Cheever veteran Alex Barron. Taylor's time would also have put him on pole for the race held at Texas in May of this year.  A top-level racing series isn't supposed to be this easy. And they wonder why American oval racing can't produce a World Driving Champion.  A sad state of affairs.]

In his first season in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, the official development series of the Indy Racing League, Taylor has won a record seven events and clinched the championship with one race remaining, the dreamerscandles.com 100 set for Oct. 11 at TMS.

Taylor felt his experience in the Pro Series helped during the IndyCar Series test session.

“Absolutely,” Taylor said. “The cars are very similar handling-wise. It’s a lot easier when you are the only one on the track. I expect when other cars are out there, it will be a different issue.

“I feel that (the Pro Series) has given me a very good grounding as far as ovals are concerned. It made it a lot easier for me to get into the IndyCar (Series) cars. If I had come straight to the IndyCar Series, it would have made it a lot harder.”

While Taylor moved up to test an IndyCar Series car, USAC standout Dane Carter, son of 1985 Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter and Panther Racing spotter Pancho Carter, tested the Panther Racing Pro Series car.

“It was a lot of fun,” Carter said. “The car was very stable and didn’t do anything strange. The guys had the car set up very well. It was set up more conservative than when they come back for the race. The track was really nice. It was a fun ride.”

Carter, 24, from Brownsburg, Ind., has competed in USAC since 1997 and is expected to make his first Pro Series start at the dreamerscandles.com 100 at TMS.

“My ultimate goal is to get something together to run the series next year,” Carter said. “One day, I would like to progress on to the IndyCar Series.”   IRL PR

10/3/03

***Reader opinion***F1 aspirations?   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, What they are doing in the IRL boggles my mind with regard to Scott Dixon and Tomas Scheckter. Do they realize that in F-1 they do a lot more than go around in circles? This makes no sense to me at all. As I have said before I just don't get it. This would be like a guy wanting to play NFL football training in soccer.  Doug Ferguson, Florida Dear Doug, You won't see too many drivers moving from the IRL to F1.  F1 team bosses are very intelligent individuals who know that rev-limited 100% throttle racing has zero to do with driving skill and everything to do with putting on a "show."  As Helio Castroneves stated at Fontana, "this track is easy flat for these cars."   And they wonder why their TV ratings are plummeting. Fans are smart enough to know that watching cars go around in circles for two hours with the drivers foot holding the throttle wide open is pointless.  Mark C.

10/3/03

***Reader opinion***Tired of the lies   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I can't believe this Jeff Olson has been getting away with these false statements concerning his beloved IRL. Having followed your work for the past 3 or 4 years I'm also shocked and disappointed that you have not slammed this idiot. In my Autosport Magazine dated Sept. 18 2003 there is an IRL article penned by Mr. Olson regarding Panther Racing. On page 52 he states: "Pancho Carter, the former Indycar star-turned spotter...... Then on pg.54 the inset article he states: "Dane Carter son of former Indycar ace Pancho Carter.... Since when has Pancho Carter all of a sudden been considered an Indycar star and ace?  While he was an Indycar driver did he win a bunch of races and a title or two? He lucked into an Indy pole by qualifying a grossly over-horsepowered Buick stock-block that we all knew wouldn't last 20 laps. Anyway I remember his years in the CART Indycar series as pretty much a backmarker to mid-fielder at best. If Mr. Olson thinks he can say this in Autosport because he thinks only Brits read it and it will give "my series" credibility overseas he is mistaken. I'd love to see him state what he said in Racer Mag. Betcha he won't. Please bring this bozo back down to earth. Thanks, Tina Sick of IRL lies in Washington Erstad, Dear Tina, Mr. Olson has every right as a journalist to write an article that includes his opinion of a driver.  If he feels Carter was a star, then perhaps he was in his eyes. And you  as a reader have every right to challenge that opinion as you are doing now.  We have to agree with you, Pancho Carter was never an IndyCar star, and to characterize him as such is an insult to those who were stars.  Mark C.

10/3/03

Montoya: It was a big blow   This itv.com article says that Juan Pablo Montoya admitted it took two days to get over his anger at losing the title. The Williams driver left the Indianapolis circuit in a rage last weekend and refused to give any interviews. He told the Sun: “I left the track quickly because I was so mad. Anything I said would have got me in trouble.” And a source close to Montoya told the Sun: “He was devastated and so were the team. They all feel the penalty was unjust. There are a lot of people wondering: What would the stewards have done had Schumacher been involved in a similar situation with so much at stake?” More...

10/2/03

Successful 2nd day of testing at Jerez for Williams   The BMW WilliamsF1 Team drivers may be satisfied with the result of the team’s second day of testing in Jerez, as neither Ralf nor Marc had to experience any problems.

The Thursday in Jerez proved once again that Ralf Schumacher has recovered completely from the after-effects of his testing shunt in Monza. At the Spanish circuit the German BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver delivered an impressive performance, thus proving to have regained his shape.

Ralf completed 60 laps at the Spanish Circuit, setting his fastest time (1:20.247 minutes) in his 54th lap. His Spanish team mate covered an even bigger distance (76 laps) and achieved a personal best of 1:21.531 minutes.

Just as they had done on Wednesday both drivers focused mainly on tyre evaluation tests. Ralf started the day on Michelin’s ‘Shallow Wets’ again, testing the rain tyres in wet and dry conditions. Apart from that the German worked on the set-up of the WilliamsF1 BMW FW25 for the last race of the 2003 season, the Japanese GP in Suzuka.

Furthermore both BMW WilliamsF1 Team drivers performed some practice starts, working on improvements of the launch control.

The only other driver active in Jerez this Thursday was Toyota’s test driver Ryan Briscoe. Quite obviously Briscoe wasn’t able to go the pace of Ralf Schumacher – currently fourth in the Drivers’ Championship – and was more than a second slower than Ralf on the way to his fastest lap (1:21.306 minutes).  WilliamsF1 PR

10/2/03

Photos of Wirdheim's BAR test   This web page provides some photos of F3000 Champion Bjorn Wirdheim's recent test for the BAR F1 team.

10/2/03

Earnhardt dislikes new pit rules  Dale Earnhardt Jr. was one of a half dozen drivers involved in a pit road collision on pit road at Talladega. In part, he blamed the problem on the rule calling for a single-file entry. "We're coming down pit road like a bunch of idiots who've never done it before," he said. "My problem was the single-file deal and the pit stall I had. But that's our fault for not qualifying. I was really pretty ticked off the whole time in the car." Earnhardt, who finished second, had to take a provisional and start 38th after his No. 8 Budweiser Chevy failed a post-qualifying inspection. Teams get to select their pit road locations based on qualifying results. They want pit stalls that have open spaces in front or behind them. Dallas Morning News

10/2/03

Verstappen pans Minardi   According to Dutch magazine Race Report, Jos Verstappen thinks the parts used by Minardi "are getting obsolete and often fail", which was reportedly the least of his complaints. "Suzuka is a nice circuit," he said. "If we are a bit lucky, we might achieve something there. Anyway, I'm happy that after the race, my time at Minardi is over." Verstappen has been linked with a possible move to Jordan or Jaguar and he knows which he would prefer: "At Jordan I could perhaps have the team going a bit more my way, but I'd rather drive a Jaguar," he commented. "It could be difficult in the beginning and I might need to fight even harder, but if I'd have a good race engineer, I think I can come a long way."

10/2/03
Speed GT

Speed GT driver killed in plane crash  Paul Mumford, of Yorba Linda, Calif., a rookie sensation in the SCCA Speed World Challenge GT Championship, was killed Wednesday afternoon in a private plane crash near the Chino, Calif. airport. He was 31. “We’ve lost one of our brightest young stars; one whom we’d only just met,” said Steve Johnson, SCCA, Inc. and SCCA Pro Racing President and CEO. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Paul’s family and friends.” Mumford was the pilot of his Piper Saratoga plane. He reportedly took off from the Corona Municipal Airport, heading for Oakland, and reported a cockpit fire. He was attempting an emergency landing at Chino when the plane went down into the dry Santa Ana River. The Race Site.com

10/2/03

French GP threat gives Canada hope   The Canadian Grand Prix could yet find its way back onto the Formula 1 calendar next season – at the expense of the French Grand Prix. This is according to a story in this week's AUTOSPORT Magazine.

That was the scenario that emerged last week as the future of the Magny-Cours event was cast into doubt because of contractual problems between the organizers and Bernie Ecclestone.

If the French GP were to lose its provisional date for 2004, that could hand Montreal a lifeline. The tobacco issue would not be a problem as Canada would be replacing a race where teams have already got a long-standing agreement to run without tobacco logos.

10/2/03

Proposed engine changes for Ford team  This Kansas City Star article talks about the changes Ford has submitted to NASCAR to allow them to be more competitive.

10/2/03

Champ Car engine as a street line painter  Lines of fluid coming from beneath a CART Champ Car is the first sign of a broken part of some sort and usually means that someone’s race has just come to an ignominious end. Now, thanks to Jesse James and his band of renegade car builders on the Discovery Channel mega-hit series Monster Garage, a line of fluid pouring from one particular Champ Car could signify the beginning of a new career path for what was once a 750hp turbocharged racing machine. James and his Monster Garage crew have accepted the challenge of turning a Champ Car into a working street-line painter for an upcoming installment of the popular program, which is the second-highest rated show of all cable series among males 18-49. The crew, which will include current Champ Car team owner and potential series owner Paul Gentilozzi, has a limited amount of time and funds to transform the car into a working street painter according to the show’s premise. “I think its kinda cool to take something that would be a flower pot for the rest of its life and turn it into something loud and fast that works,” said James. Under the rules of the show the team can spend no more than $3,000 cash for parts and Jesse and his crew have only one week to design, build and roll out the machine. The Champ Car episode, which is broadcast Monday nights from 8-9 p.m. Eastern Time, is slated to air in November.

10/2/03

CART to assume all risk in Las Vegas?  According to this Dallas Morning News article, Paul Gentilozzi, one of the prospective new owners of CART, was asked about the Las Vegas race Monday night on Speed Channel.

"It [the news releases] doesn't say Las Vegas Motor Speedway," Gentilozzi said. "It says Las Vegas. It could be at the speedway or it could be a street race."

Actually, the e-mail release says Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the headline. It also says "the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway" in the second paragraph.

Gentilozzi contacted the SMI official he felt could help him – TMS general manager Eddie Gossage. He wanted Gossage's opinion about the possibility of racing at the Las Vegas facility.

"I told him I made a big mistake a few years ago, scheduling a CART event when we already had IRL races," Gossage said. "But the Las Vegas track hasn't been able to work out a deal with the IRL, so it could use the race with CART."

Financial figures were discussed, but no signed agreement was reached. Gossage was just as shocked as everyone else when he heard about the CART release with LVMS as a 2004 venue.

If CART does race at the Las Vegas track, SMI won't be paying any sanctioning fees. CART will assume all the risks on a track-rental agreement.  [Editor's Note:  This seems a little contrary to Gentilozzi's statements about CART getting out of the promotion business. Does this mean CART will have to promote the race?]

CART's announcement Sunday was 15 "confirmed" venues. Clearly, Las Vegas is not confirmed, nor is anything else for CART at this point.

The buyout agreement with the Open Wheel Racing Series group is expected to make it through all the legal hurdles, but many things are fuzzy about CART's future.  More....

10/2/03
Industry News

Brands Hatch Circuits buyout process proceeding   Sportsbusiness.com reports that Doug Augustine, COO of the Interpublic Sports and Entertainment Group (IPSEG), is in London this week to evaluate offers for the motorsport circuits owned by Brands Hatch Circuits – formerly Octagon Motorsports, sportbusiness.com reveals.  Augustine arrived this week as the deadline for bids for the four UK tracks – which includes Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Cadwell Park and Oulton Park – expired yesterday, and amid news that Mark Dowley, head of IPSEG, has confirmed he is leaving to join a US talent agency.  Augustine will select the ‘preferred bidders’ for the motorsport circuits who will be notified after October 8 to progress to the final stages of the selection process.   It is believed more than 70 expressions of interest were received for the tracks, with that figure whittled down to around 20. After October 8, that number will be whittled down to just a handful of ‘credible’ candidates.   Will Bernie Ecclestone buy one or more of these tracks and make them into a world class facility?  For CART's sake many hope Bernie buys Brands Hatch and works his magic.

10/2/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items  

Lauda Launches Novel Car-Hire Venture
Final F1 Tests In Italy, England And Spain
Manager Fuels Alonso-To-Ferrari Rumor
Button Slams Lack Of BAR Reliability
Da Matta Eyes Last Race With New V10
Bridgestone Rave About Wet Indy Result
Suzuka 'Perfect' For Me And My Renault: JT
Champion's Manager Stamps On Retirement Rumor
Wilson Touches Down At Suzuka Circuit
Sons Of Champions Aim Fire At F1
F1 Teams Meet Today To Discuss Changes
Williams Backs Villeneuve's Fading Star
Verstappen Drives Another Day In 'Old' Arrows'
Ralf Backs Team 'Attack' For Constructors' Spoils
Ferrari In 2005: Rubens Out, Alonso In?

10/1/03

Danica Patrick on Carson Daly show  Team Rahal's Danica Patrick, coming off a career-high second place finish last Sunday in the Toyota Atlantic Championship race at Miami, is featured on the NBC-TV's  Last Call with Carson Daly, this Friday morning (Oct. 3) at 1:35 a.m.  Patrick, the 21-year-old female driving star from Roscoe, Ill., will be one of the guests in the one-hour television talk show that is hosted by the popular MTV V-J Daly from New York City.  Patrick will appear with actor Seann William Scott and singer Leona Naess. Patrick, the three-time U.S. national karting champion, just completed her first season on the 12-race Toyota Atlantic open-wheel series and won the series Rising Star Award for the 2003 campaign. The petite, 5-foot-1, 100-pound brunette finished sixth in the final series point standings as well as becoming the first woman in the 30-year history of the North American series to finish on the winner's podium (Top 3).

10/1/03

Rock Band U2 with CART in Vegas  This Las Vegas Sun article says, The CART Champ Car World Series will return to Las Vegas next season for the first time since 1984 and will stage a race and concert at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The sanctioning body, which is in the process of being bought out by a group that includes current team owners Gerald Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi and Kevin Kalkhoven, on Sunday released a list of 15 "confirmed venues" for the 2004 season that included LVMS.

"The addition of such a strong market such as Las Vegas, where our television (ratings) have always been well above average, gives us even more reason to be excited about the upcoming campaign," CART president and CEO Chris Pook said.

"We are confident that 2004 will provide our fans, sponsors, teams and drivers with a series that they can be proud of and that delivers maximum value across the board."

The rock band U2 is one of the groups being courted to perform in concert before or after the race -- which likely would guarantee the event to be a success. U2 twice has played to sold-out crowds in excess of 40,000 at Sam Boyd Stadium.

LVMS general manager Chris Powell said Sunday that he would not comment on CART's announcement and would neither confirm nor deny that the speedway would host a CART race next season.  More.....

10/1/03

Bruton Smith speaks  Below are select quotes from Tuesday's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED Channel. Speedway Motorsports boss Bruton Smith discussed his relationship with NASCAR, the Texas lawsuit and the possibility of building a race track in New York.

On rumors of plans to build a track in the New York area: "There was some truth to that. The former governor approached me about buying the Meadowlands and that did get my interest. ... We would have to move the horse track somewhere else, and we did arrange all that. I had to have a copy of the lease the Giants had - I had to have a look at that. It took about four months to be able to see the lease and I never could understand why it took so long. ... But when I got the lease, I understood, because the Giants have the right to say yes or no to anybody that comes in there. And that meant - oops - I don't think we can go there because they are not going to want us in there taking up their space.

"It can be made. If I had the date, yes I'd build one. I know where I'd build it - and please don't ask because I can't tell you - but I know where I'd build it. I was up there years ago and I was offered some property out on Long Island. I didn't know or understand Long Island, so I went up there and I found out there is no way you can build out there because the ingress-egress is terrible. ... At one point, I had an option on some land in Atlantic City, but that's a little too far. I wanted to build something where you could see Manhattan."

On how SMI interacts with NASCAR: "Well, at this point, we have Brian (France) to talk to. I am delighted he got this promotion - I think that it's great that he got this promotion. I like Brian a lot and I have for a long time. Brian brings a new image to NASCAR, because I find that Brian will listen. He's young, aggressive and he's been in the sport his entire adult life, so I think that's a plus.

"I'm hoping (the relationship with NASCAR) might change moving forward. We've had our good moments, and I hope that what we've been doing in the past - all these good number of years - that we've added greatly to the sport and helped to build the sport."

On reviving North Wilkesboro Speedway: "I don't know how you'd get racing back there - there's only so many dates available. ... I would not want to lose money doing it and that's what you'd do - lose money. I would not want to be up there trying to promote Busch. There are not enough seats there."

On the promise of second Winston Cup race date for Texas Motor Speedway: "Well, at the time, Mr. France and I were having a meeting in New York - an impromptu meeting at his suite at the Waldorf. He approached me during the meeting and told me 'I want you to help me build NASCAR.' I thought that was kinda comical because I thought I'd been doing a good job of it all these years. ... We talked about Texas and he knew what I was getting ready to do - build the big speedway down there. I invested a quarter of a billion dollars there. You don't do that without a knowledge that you are going to have the event. And that's what I knew. I had the knowledge that I would have the event and continually was promised 'Well, you're not on the schedule this year, but you'll be on it next year.' The next year would come and 'Well, not this year but next year.' Well, it went down the road that way."

On the possibility of creating an alternative sanctioning body: "As I've told NASCAR many times, I was not interested in forming any other organization, I have not moved toward that and I still feel the same way."

On putting a roof on Bristol Motor Speedway: "We had two engineering firms working on putting a cover over it and nobody has been able to do it. You have to consider the load of snow and ice being on it and that's a big problem. So, right now, I would say no we can't do it. ... I had another crazy idea and that was to build another speedway just like it right beside it and they could race a little while on one track and then spiral up and spiral down."

Just a reminder, motor sports legends Richard Petty (Tuesday, Oct. 7) and John Force (Thursday, Oct. 9) will be guests next week on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain.

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.

10/1/03

Roof flap failed to deploy  A safety flap on the roof of Elliott Sadler's #38 M&M's Ford failed to deploy at Talladega, which likely contributed to the frightening flight that destroyed the Robert Yates Racing entry. "If you look closely at the video, the roof flap on the right side didn't appear to do everything it was supposed to do to keep the car on the ground," Nelson said. "That's where our focus is right now." Nelson, NASCAR's managing director of competition, has initiated an intense investigation into the accident. Nelson called his engineering team together Monday to review video tape of the accident and inspect every inch of Sadler's mangled machine, now parked in the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C."It raised a lot of questions that we're now trying to work out the answers," Nelson said. Nelson stressed the flaps of Sadler's car were examined during NASCAR's inspection procedures before Sunday's EA Sports 500. Two pop-up flaps and a pair of metal strips are installed on the roof of every Winston Cup car, designed to keep the 3,400-pound racers on the ground during a spin. NASCAR added an additional metal strip along the rear window for more down force in a spin after Ryan Newman's Dodge flipped through the air during the Daytona 500. Asked if NASCAR needs to go back to the drawing board to find a fix to keep stock cars from going airborne, Nelson said his current investigation will likely tell the story. "Our analysis will tell us that," he said. "But knowing the No. 48 car went through the same thing and did not get airborne tells us that the rules made to keep the cars on the ground worked on one and one got airborne." Daytona Beach News Journal

10/1/03

Shorter weekends  Race teams are encouraged that NASCAR is looking into two-day weekends next season for restrictor-plate races other than the Daytona 500. NASCAR's goal is to eliminate the special setups teams used for qualifying, which are very different from the race setups. By eliminating the qualifying setups, series officials could reduce the time at the track from three days to two days. Series officials are considering a plan where teams would come to the track with their cars in race setup. Teams would have drafting practice, be given time to make some minor changes and then qualify. The race would be the next day. This is being examined for both Talladega races and the July Daytona race next year. Series officials also are looking at reducing race weekends to two days at other tracks. NASCAR tried it a few years ago but bad weather hindered those schedules and ended the experiment. Roanoke Times

10/1/03

CART hit with Miami trash bill - This Miami Today article says,   Downtown Miami streets should have been extra clean after last weekend's Grand Prix Americas. Promoters of the event ended up paying twice for cleanup, though they won a discount from the city.
The City of Miami will force Championship Auto Racing Teams of Indianapolis, the event's organizer, to pay for the services of the city's solid-waste department even though CART had hired a private cleaning firm for $31,000. City commissioners learned last week that their contract with CART - which the racing team inherited when it purchased former Grand Prix promoter Raceworks LLC - required it to use city waste services.  Grand Prix Americas President Chuck Martinez told city commissioners he had been given approval to drop the city's waste services by former chief of neighborhood services Victor Monzon-Aguirre, who was fired May 21. But City Manager/Chief Administrator Joe Arriola said his administration never gave the promoters his permission to drop the city's waste services.   "I did not agree to anything here," said Mr. Arriola. He said that when he learned that the city's waste employees would not be employed during the event, he "went through the roof."  "I'm not going to let them out of this deal," he said after hearing a request from Grand Prix Americas for a waiver.  Last year's inaugural race event showed a $5.5 million loss, Mr. Martinez told city commissioners.  "We are literally fighting for our financial life," he said.

10/1/03

St. Pete organizers breathe easier - This Tampa Bay Online article says,  Grand Prix of St. Petersburg organizers have said all along that their second running is a go for Feb. 20-22. What are they supposed to say? You don't sell hospitality tents or sponsorships for an event that may or may not happen.  In truth, because of CART's instability, the St. Petersburg race has operated under a shroud of uncertainty since its 2002 inception.

But the shroud is starting to lift. The pending sale of CART to a group headed by team owners Gerald Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi has created optimism about the racing organization's survivability.  Practically no one thought CART could continue as a publicly traded company. But as a private entity, headed by men with deep pockets and a passion for open-wheel racing, it has more than a chance.

``These guys [Forsythe and Kalkhoven], they are powerful and they are rich,'' driver Sebastien Bourdais said at a news conference Tuesday. ``The reason they are rich is they are smart. And because they are smart, they are not going to throw their money around over nothing.''   On Sunday, CART management released a list of 15 sites at which it plans to have races in 2004, and St. Petersburg was among them. That wasn't a surprise, but it was an important development nonetheless. It said that the prospective new ownership group sees St. Petersburg's race as part of its future.

The best thing the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has going is that it belongs to Dover Motorsports Inc.  Dover, albeit publicly traded, is a strong company that operates two Winston Cup races at Dover International Speedway, other NASCAR tracks near Memphis, Tenn., Nashville, Tenn., and St. Louis, and two other CART street races, including the highly successful Grand Prix of Long Beach.

CART - or whatever the company will be called if the sale goes through - is not out of the woods. The sale has to be approved by the Security and Exchange Commission and the ``non-interested'' shareholders.  There are other challenges. CART is losing more sponsors, including Player's, which is bowing out because of the ban on cigarette advertising in Canada. And no support races have been secured for the St. Petersburg race.

Without CART, there is no Grand Prix of St. Petersburg - although a replacement series (possibly the Indy Racing League or American Le Mans Series) might eventually be secured. This begs the question: Does Dover have a Plan B?

``All I can tell you is there's no prudent business that goes down the road and doesn't examine various options and look at various alternatives,'' said Dover executive and Grand Prix of St. Petersburg president Jim Michaelian. ``But keep in mind that Dover has three events on the CART calendar. We've made a tremendous investment in this form of the sport. So it's in our best interest to see CART survive.''   Insiders believe the sale will go through and CART's 750- horsepower Champ Cars will be racing on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg early next year.

10/1/03
Industry News

Ford cutting jobs - Ford Motor Co. began eliminating nearly 5,000 positions around the world Tuesday to cut costs and compete with leaner rivals. The company is cutting more than 3,000 nonunion jobs in North America and offering buyouts to 1,700 German workers.

In an e-mail to employees, Executive Vice President Jim Padilla outlined the moves in North America, which are part of a worldwide effort to cut salary-related expenses by 10 percent: Shedding 1,700 agency, contract and supplemental employees, who work at Ford but are employed by other companies. Eliminating 1,300 open full-time salaried positions.

The so-called involuntary separation of almost 50 full-time salaried workers. Many salaried workers will receive limited overtime, continuing a recent cost-saving effort, and new hires will be restricted to critical positions. Ford has to cut salary-related expenses to compete with leaner rivals, Padilla said in the e-mail. "This exercise has forced us to make difficult decisions about our most precious resource -- our people. These decisions have been borne out of our need to respond to an increasingly competitive automotive industry that continues to grapple with the challenges of production overcapacity and spiraling incentive costs," he said.

After losing $6.4 billion in 2001 and 2002 combined, Ford earned $1.3 billion in the first half of this year -- matching its stated goal for the year. But the Dearborn automaker is expected to post a loss of $270 million in the third quarter, and it faces steep challenges to meeting its goal of $7 billion in pretax profit by 2005 or 2006.  Detroit Free Press

10/1/03

More on CART and Las Vegas - This Las Vegas Sun article says,  Officials from CART and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway aren't talking for the record, but there are indications that next year's proposed Champ Car race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway could be held in the spring -- possibly in the month of May.

Although LVMS general manager Chris Powell has stated on numerous occasions that he did not want to add another event to the speedway's crowded spring schedule -- which includes NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Busch Series, World of Outlaws and NHRA races in a five-week stretch -- it is believed he would make an exception for the CART race because the event would not be promoted by the speedway.

Paul Gentilozzi, who is among a group of CART team owners that is in the process of buying out the series, fueled Internet rumors that the Las Vegas race actually could be a street race -- which won't happen -- after an appearance Monday night on the Speed Channel.

Gentilozzi attempted to make the claim that CART's announcement about a Las Vegas race in 2004 did not specify the race would be at the speedway (it did).

"Deductive reasoning by some takes (the race) to a place where we don't yet have a signed deal," Gentilozzi said, according to a transcript of the interview provided by the Speed Channel. "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 (to) 18 races and we were going to be in those cities."

Gentilozzi apparently was backtracking to soothe the feathers he ruffled at LVMS by announcing a Las Vegas CART race before the sanctioning body had a signed deal and before the speedway could stage its own announcement.

AU REVOIR: After 10 years as the primary sponsor and co-owner of Gerald Forsythe's CART racing team, Player's ended its sponsorship after Sunday's Grand Prix Americas in Miami in order to comply with strict Canadian government legislation banning advertising by tobacco companies. The new legislation went into effect today.

For the final three races of the season, the cars of Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier -- both Las Vegas residents -- will not bear any Player's logos. Instead, the team will replace the Player's logos with words of appreciation to its fans.

Tracy is leading the Champ Car standings by 13 points in his quest to win his first CART championship.

10/1/03

CART Rookie test at Sebring - Nelson Phillipe  


Barber Dodge driver Nelson Phillipe in action in the Fittipaldi Dingman Champ Car
Photos courtesy of CART/Dan Boyd/LAT

10/1/03

CART Rookie test at Sebring - Roberto Gonzalez  


Roberto González testing at Sebring in preparation for Mexico City
Photos courtesy of CART/Dan Boyd/LAT

10/1/03

CART Rookie test at Sebring - Luis Diaz  



Luis Diaz with his Walker Racing car painted as it will appear in Mexico City
Photos courtesy of CART/Dan Boyd/LAT

10/1/03

F1 bosses to meet Thursday   Formula One team bosses are scheduled to meet in England on Thursday to discuss the future of the sport. The talks are a follow-up on discussions held in Indianapolis last weekend, where several changes to the F1 weekend were proposed. One challenge is how to give race fans more for their money, especially on Sunday, race day. One thought was to have Sunday AM final qualifying. However, teams such Ferrari, McLaren and Williams are unlikely to go along with this as they want their drivers available for key promotional activities on Sunday mornings. The extra test session currently scheduled for Friday is also expected to be discussed. Another issue is the one engine per weekend concept. Several teams have expressed concerns about the lack of track action over the course of the weekend if teams are limited to just one engine per race weekend. Teams would opt to save and maintain the reliability of the engine rather than risk a blowout.

10/1/03

2543421.jpgGreen to stay in #43  Jeff Green will be behind the wheel of the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge again this week when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series heads to the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. And he will be in the car on a race-to-race basis the rest of the season.

Following two steady runs in the #43, Green has been named driver of the Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge on a race-to-race basis. Kyle Petty, CEO of Petty Enterprises, made the announcement. Christian Fittipaldi will drive the #44 Bugles Dodge in the races already scheduled for 2003.

“Jeff has done a good job for us the past few weeks, and we are excited to have him in the car at Kansas,” Petty said. “His winning attitude, the way he has quickly adapted to Petty Enterprises and the way he has been readily accepted by the guys on the team has already shown on the race track. Jeff’s history as a winner is already showing.

“Christian also has some good results this year, including qualifying seventh at Michigan and running well in several races,” Petty continued. “He has done an amazing job jumping in for us this year earlier than we had planned. Christian is a big part of our program going forward.

“We already had Christian scheduled for a few more #44 Bugles races the remainder of this season, and keeping the #43 team together with one driver should help us finish strong,” Petty added.

“I am really excited to be able to continue what we’ve started,” said Green. “I’ve started to get to know the ‘Helping Hand’ crew some over the past two weeks, and they’ve gotten to know me. We’re starting to get a pretty good relationship going, and that’s going to help us as we move on to Kansas and, hopefully, on down the line.”

The 2000 NASCAR Busch Grand National champion, Green is known for a winning driving style and a true ability to “bring the car home.” In his first full season of NASCAR Winston Cup racing last season, he failed to finish just two races, and both of those due to engine problems. He won the pole for the season-opening Daytona 500 this year, and has won over $2 million.  Petty Enterprises

10/1/03

***Reader Opinion***Miami feedback  A reader writes, Dear AR1, My son visited with the vendors just before he left on Sunday. They all had positive things to say about their sales. "Up from last year", "We've had people waiting in lines all day". However, the stores in the shopping center did not appear overjoyed. Maybe the tickets should come with a $10 coupon good anywhere at the center. Also, they should provide a clear path from the Intercontinental Hotel to the Bayside each night. We almost got arrested trying to find a short cut on Sunday evening.  Jeff Skinner, Californnia

10/1/03

Hornish tests at TMS   Two-time IRL IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. tested Sept. 30 at Texas Motor Speedway in preparation for the season-ending Chevy 500 Oct. 12 at the 1.5-mile oval.

Hornish, driver of the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, is no stranger to the Texas track, having won the last two fall races at TMS.

“We are working hard on our race setup,” Hornish said. “We are really close on the car. We want to be able to go through some aero bits, other things that have to do with the engine. (We’re) running all the new things that we found since the last race to see if they will help or are an advantage to us here.”

Hornish, 24, from Defiance, Ohio, is attempting to win his third consecutive IndyCar Series championship. Only one driver, Ted Horn in 1946-48, has won three consecutive Indy-style championships.

Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon are tied in the standings with 467 points, followed by Tony Kanaan with 460 points and Hornish with 448. Gil de Ferran is fifth with 437.

10/1/03
F3000

Arden to test Piquet Jr. and Lauda Jr. During the forthcoming F3000 Winter Testing Matthias Lauda and Nelson Piquet JR will test for the Arden Team at Imola and Jerez respectively.

Matthias who currently drives in the Nissan Light Series will drive on the 24th & 25th October at Imola with Nelson JR, who finished 3rd in this year's British F3 Championship, testing at Jerez on the 7th November.

The Arden Team will be undertaking an extensive Winter Testing and Driver Evaluation Program having this year won both the FIA Drivers and Teams Championships.

Christian Horner commented: "We are looking forward to working with both Matthias and Nelson JR who have both shown considerable ability in their respective Championships."  Arden

10/1/03

Bristol sold out for 2004  With all single-event tickets sold and more than enough entries in hand for a season-ticket lottery, Bristol Motor Speedway this week became the first Speedway to declare sellouts for its 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events. Food City 500 tickets sold out last week, marking the first time that single-event tickets to the Speedway's spring race sold out more than six months before the event. A 100 percent renewal in Sharpie 500 tickets confirmed another sellout for the August night race classic. After current ticket holders exercised their options to renew tickets, the ticket office offered any non-renewed tickets to the public through a mail-in-only ticket lottery, but accepted no multiple entries. Ticket office employees began drawing envelopes Tuesday morning to fulfill requests of new Bristol ticket buyers, who were limited to no more than four tickets. By day's end, all tickets were sold. New Food City 500 ticket holders will be notified by mail only. Non-renewed season tickets for 2004 will be sold using the same process. Season ticket entries must be received before Oct. 1. Bristol Speedway PR

10/1/03

Childress letting Park go  This AP article says, NASCAR owner Richard Childress will not renew driver Steve Park's contract at the end of the season.

Park has been driving the No. 30 Chevrolet since May, when he parted ways with Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Childress needed a driver after firing Jeff Green. "I want to thank Steve for stepping in and helping us with the No. 30 team, but this is a performance-driven business and the team's performance has not been up to our expectations," Childress said Tuesday.

Since joining RCR before the Coca-Cola 600 in May, Park has two top-10 finishes and one pole. He's finished 30th or worse in five of the 17 races he's run for Childress, and failed to qualify last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

"The performance of the No. 30 team at Talladega last weekend in no way played a role in this decision," Childress said. "Our goal is still to win a race with Steve before the season ends."

10/1/03

Side impact technology comes into play   Despite the unfortunate write-off of the number four Corvette, driven by Kelly Collins in Saturday’s round of the American Le Mans Series in Miami, GM Racing’s appointed race engineering company Pratt and Miller did take away some return from the accident, which allowed new side impact protection technology installed on the Corvette to be evaluated under true on-track incident conditions for the first time.

The Corvette C5-R of drivers Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins was declared a write-off following Collins’ impact with the concrete barricades, sustained at around 90 miles per hour, during Saturday’s morning warm-up session. Collins walked away from the accident.

Collins’ car was carrying new side impact protection technology installed by Pratt and Miller, located within the side trusses of the roll-cage to the left of the driver and designed to replace some of the roll-cage members. Constructed of aluminum honeycomb within a Kevlar casing, the box absorbs energy from impacts, particularly in high-speed side collisions where the integrity of the roll-cage structure is likely to sustain serious damage.

The technology is already utilized by GM within its road cars, and the concept of using crash safety technologies within the Corvette C5-R program was instigated by Tom Gideon, Safety Manager at GM Racing. Using laboratory facilities at Wayne State University in Detroit, Gideon provided material specifications and dimensions for the unit. Pratt and Miller, which provides a turnkey race operation for GM Racing’s Corvette C5-R program, designed the side impact protection device into the car and fabricated the components.

“Thankfully, Kelly was uninjured by his accident. Although we’ve lost this chassis, the irony of this weekend’s events is that we’ve lifted valuable data from the side impact device” explained Steve Wesoloski, Lead Chassis Engineer on the GM Racing C5-R program. “The box provides around six inches of ‘crush capacity’, and we can see the impact of the blow caused by Kelly’s very hard hit. We have the ability to look at data from onboard recording devices that will allow us to see the exact magnitude of this impact. This will provide information to support further design and optimization efforts.

“This is the first application of aluminum honeycomb for side impact protection in racing. By using this lightweight material to replace certain elements of the roll-cage system we’ve achieved weight savings of approximately four pounds, although when we optimize the potential we believe we can save up to ten pounds of total vehicle weight, while improving the protection of our drivers.

“It’s also easier to replace this side impact protection component within the roll-cage structure when it sustains damage”, continues Wesoloski. “We can see further applications for the technology throughout the car, for example around the fuel cells. However, probably the most valuable application is the potential for additional driver protection, via the location of the energy absorbing device in the side struts of the roll-cage.”

10/1/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items  

Alonso To Ferrari: Rumors Quashed
Ecclestone Offers Hope For Canadian F1 Race
Fernando 'Disappointed' With Renault Bosses
F3000 Star Wirdheim Hopes For F1 Break
Court Plea Fails To Save Canada's F1 Race
Indian F1 Plan Attacked: Hyderabad
Ralf Blames BMW-Williams Team For Indy Exit
Brawn Ponders: Schumacher, The Best Ever?
Sato Unscathed In 150mph BAR-Honda Shunt
Renault's New Tester Has 'Great Future'
Stoddart Denies Minardi Buy-Out Claims
Still Fighting For Constructors' Jewel: BMW
Young Chargers To Send Schu Packing?
Montoya's Penalty Questioned, Says BMW Chief

10/1/03
Industry News

Racing at Milwaukee Mile faces uncertain future  A recent article in the Milwaukee News-Journal newspaper reports that a recent audit reflects the State Fair Park is swimming in red ink. The state-owned facility lost $4.5 million in 2002 and 2003. Contributing to the loss says the audit, are the new $19.1 million grandstand and the net loss of $341,700 on its 2002 auto races. In addition, this year the state bought out promoter Carl Haas’s contract assuming $3.2 million in debt. The salaries and fringe benefits for the eight Milwaukee Mile employees comes to $67,000 a month and are now being paid by the state.

10/1/03

Pat Patrick bullish on CART  Pat Patrick was quoted in National Speed Sport News - "This is the first time since I ran CART in our formative days that any team owner has invested their own money in the series," Patrick remarked. "That says a lot. I'm impressed with these guys, particularly Kevin Kalkhoven. I think they are going to do great things for our sport."  Patrick confirmed he is hoping to run a 2-car Champ Car program in 2004 if a second sponsor can be found.  AR1 learned in Miami this past weekend that the team has a 2nd sponsor lined up, but they won't commit until they know for sure CART will survive.

9/30/03

LeMans series announces 2004 schedule   The Automobile Club de l'Ouest has announced the provisional dates for the 2004 Le Mans Endurance Series, which will be run to the same regulations as the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the American Le Mans Series. It is intended to broaden awareness of Le Mans and give European entrants (and sports car racing in general) a better chance of securing sponsorship. The ACO will run a trial 1000km event on the Le Mans Bugatti circuit on Nov. 9 this year, where entries for next year's 24 hours will be at stake. A strong entry has already been received for this event. According to the ACO, at least four 1000km races will make up the series next year. This comes as no surprise since Stéphane Ratel, the man behind the series, has long been eager to revive the traditional sports car venues of Spa, Monza, Silverstone and the Nürburgring.  Quite understandably, a large gap has been left in the schedule for the 24 Hours itself, which runs on June 12-13 next year. There will also be no clash with the Le Mans test day, scheduled for April 25.
2004 Le Mans Endurance Series
April 4, Monza 1000km
July 11, Nürburgring 1000km
Aug. 29, Spa 1000km
Sept. 12, Silverstone 1000km  SPEEDTV.com

9/30/03

Sato hospitalized after testing crash   BAR test driver Takuma Sato has been taken to the hospital Tuesday after he crashed on the first day of testing at Mugello in Italy today.

The Japanese driver went off at Mugello's first corner, Arrabiata. According to BAR, Sato said that he put his wheels on the grass at the side of the track, lost control and went off.

Sato hurt his left ankle and calf in the crash. He was taken to the nearby Bordo San Lorenzo Hospital for a precautionary X-ray, although it is understood that his injuries are not serious.  Autosport

9/30/03

Foyt suffers cracked wrist  Larry Foyt, driver of the No. 14 Foyt/Harrah's Racing Dodge, was cleared to race this weekend at Kansas Speedway after an examination at the Miller Clinic in Charlotte, NC, Tuesday afternoon, which revealed a cracked wrist. Foyt was involved in an accident with Jeremy Mayfield on lap nine of the EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway last Sunday. He was treated and released from University Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., that evening. However, further tests today revealed a crack in his left wrist. "It was a really hard hit," said Foyt. "One of the hardest I've ever taken. But my guys did a great job setting up the safety equipment in the car. All the equipment, including the LaJoie seat, did its job. The doctor gave me a brace to use on my wrist, so we'll see how it goes.  I'm sure it won't be comfortable, but I'm sure I'll forget about the pain once the race starts."

9/30/03

Maia to test RuSPORT Atlantic car  Following through on an agreement announced during the Grand Prix of Monterey weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in June, officials from the CART Champ Car Ladder System and Skip Barber Racing, LLC announced today that 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series champion Leo Maia will participate in a two-day test with the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic championship-winning team, RuSPORT, at Sebring International Raceway on Wednesday and Thursday, October 1-2. The 22-year-old from Oakland, Calif. earned the test as well as the Barber Dodge Pro Series title on the strength of a series record-tying six victories and a total of eight podium finishes in the 10-race championship. By scoring 188 championship points, Maia tied the record for most points in a single Barber Dodge season established by 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship champion A.J. Allmendinger, who also had 188 markers at the end of his Barber Dodge championship-winning season last year. "I'm really looking forward to my first Toyota Atlantic test," Maia said. "Not only will I get my first taste of the Atlantic car, but I will also be testing with the top team in the championship. This is a tremendous opportunity for me and I hope to learn as much as I possibly can over the two days. The Barber Dodge Pro Series has prepared me well to take the next step on the Champ Car Ladder, and hopefully I can use this opportunity to impress a few team owners. I think A.J. Allmendinger has shown, and will continue to show, that the Champ Car Ladder System is a huge success. Hopefully I will be able follow him right up to the top." Maia will drive RuSPORT's Toyota-powered, Yokohama-shod Swift 014.a for two days on the same Sebring circuit that is utilized by Champ Car teams for testing purposes, and the test begins three days after RuSPORT put the wraps on a phenomenal first season of Toyota Atlantic competition. During the 2003 Toyota Atlantic season, Allmendinger piloted one of the team's bright yellow machines to seven victories and tied the series single season record for most pole positions with nine, and clinched the title in Round 11 at Denver.

9/30/03
Industry News

SPEED Channel continues to grow   SPEED Channel's October Nielsen universe estimate is 59,088,000 U.S. households -- an increase of 304,000 homes from September. In the last 12 months, SPEED has added 5.3 million homes -- 16th fastest growing in cable. In the last 24 months, SPEED has added 14 million homes, making it the fastest growing sports network and seventh fastest overall. In addition, SPEED Channel reaches more than 4.5 million homes in Canada.

9/30/03

Order 2004 USGP tickets   United States Grand Prix and Formula One fans are encouraged to send their ticket renewals, upgrades and orders for the 2004 race, scheduled for Sunday, June 20, to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as soon as possible.

To purchase tickets, camping or parking, contact the IMS ticket office at (800) 822-INDY, (317) 492-6700 or log on to www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

The fifth United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis is moving to a June date after taking place in late September for the last four years.

Also confirmed for the 2004 race is the return of the popular pit walkabout. Race Day ticket holders for the 2004 United States Grand Prix can get an up-close, free look at the Formula One pits during the walkabout, which debuted at this event Sept. 25 to overwhelming popularity.

The date and time of the walkabout will be announced in the future.

Another new feature for the 2004 race will be new seating in two locations in the infield of the 2.605-mile road course.

The new reserved Terrace seating, outside Turn 6 and between Turns 10 and 11, will provide one of the closest views among all F1 venues worldwide of Formula One’s high-performance cars and skilled drivers. The front of the Turn 6 Terrace will be approximately 50 yards from the edge of the track, and the Turn 10 Terrace will be closer.

Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher won the United States Grand Prix on Sept. 28 in the most competitive of the four F1 events at the Speedway since 2000. Schumacher was one of six leaders in the exciting event, which took place in mixed weather conditions that forced constant changes of strategy.

Schumacher moved within one point of his record sixth World Championship with his victory. He is expected to return for his 14th F1 season in 2004, taking on younger archrivals that include 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya of Williams-BMW, Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren-Mercedes and Fernando Alonso of Renault.

9/30/03


Ecclestone speaks   Below are select quotes from Monday's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED Channel. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was interviewed by SPEED's Derek Daly prior to the weekend's United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis.
Ecclestone on the effect of the proposed Grand Prix World Championship (GPWC) on Formula One: "I think all the damage that it could have done, it has done. And not so much for the World Championship, but for the teams and their sponsors. With us, I try to make things stable ... and at the moment, we have something that is destabilizing.

"The message (from the manufacturers support of GPWC) really and truly was 'Give us more money.' It's a union really. So we have the mafia against the union." (Daly asks 'Who is going to win? Ecclestone's response: "Who always wins?")

"We're like a big shop window or car show. These people are putting their product in our showroom and they want a bit more money for their product. So, we are trying to get together and see what's good for everybody. It will sort itself out. I am not at all concerned - not the slightest bit."

Ecclestone on the future of the USGP at Indy: "It is permanent at the moment. We're happy. If Tony (George) can make it commercially viable for him, we're happy to be here. ... Anywhere we go in the world, we say Indianapolis and people know what it means. It's racing."
Ecclestone on F1 in America: "We're a World Championship and obviously we have to be in America, but I don't see that we should Americanize Formula One. They've got open-wheel racing which is American and run the American way. What we have is something that appeals to people that want European things - someone who buys an Armani suit. We're not trying to compete directly with NASCAR."
Ecclestone on why he didn't get involved in the CART series: "It would have been too much of a conflict with what we are doing in Formula One. I think I would have wanted to do it properly and come and live in the States or spend a lot of time here, and that would have neglected Formula One."
Ecclestone on his idea for American open-wheel racing: "My idea was that CART would run 10 road circuits and Tony would run 10 ovals. You would have champions from both of those sectors and than put the points together for a super champion. Teams would run in both series. ... (Daly asks if Tony George was interested in the idea) Not really. No. (Daly asks if CART boss Chris Pook was interested.) He thought Tony wouldn't be interested, so he didn't pursue it. ... All I know is the series would be better together."

9/30/03

Great TV rating for Talladega  NBC Sports’ coverage of the EA Sports 500 from Talladega Superspeedway delivered the highest-ever overnight rating for any auto race against pro football competition. The race earned a 4.7 overnight rating/ 9 share, a 9% increase over last year’s 4.3/9 overnight rating, according to overnight ratings released today by Nielsen Media Research. The previous best overnight rating in football season was a 4.5 on two occasions, most recently a 4.5/9 for last year’s season finale Ford 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway where Tony Stewart won the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship. The rating built throughout the race and peaked with a 6.3/12 from 5:30-6 p.m. ET. Final national ratings are expected later today. NBC Sports Press Release

9/30/03

***Reader Opinion***Champ Cars look slow  A reader writes, Dear AR1, I was able to watch both the CART race and the F1 race live (a lot of channel flipping). The Miami race was not a good showing as to what a Champ Car can do at full throttle. The cars looked too big and slow for such a tight circuit. There are much better CART races that could be on national TV that would put on a better show for the fans watching at home. This was a great comparison for a purposely built road course and a street circuit. CART needs to take a hard look at the Miami circuit and come up with a longer and wider course. Surely in Miami there is some place to do this? To drive a high powered ChampCar around those tight streets just made them look like NASCAR on a road course. Tim Clingenpeel  Dear Tim, Agree.  The Champ Cars look ridiculous on the tight street circuits.  Fixing the circuits is difficult, but fixing the cars isn't.  If CART goes with new engines in 2005 or 2006, that would be the time to implement a new, slightly smaller chassis and an overall weight reduction of 200 pounds.  To help in the weight reduction CART should switch to gasoline engines, which could have smaller fuel tanks, and if they do that, and if they use normally aspirated engines, the elimination of the turbo would save weight.  We here at AR1 have endorsed a small 1.8 L V8 turbo for CART as well.  That smaller engine should also be lighter.  Which do we prefer?  Either one will do and we struggle to say which would be better.  By going the turbo route, CART would be more in line with production vehicles because far more passenger cars are sold with turbos than with N/A V10's.  However, a V10 is "sexy" and would put CART more in line with F1. The V8 is common in the USA, but it's blasé, every series uses it. CART must define its niche, be unique and be the premier road racing series in North America, and although it must work to keep costs down, it must not lose sight of the fact that open wheel Indy-style race cars never were, and never will be (at least successfully) dumbed down stock cars. When Paul Tracy coined the "puffed up" IRL cars "crapwagons", he wasn't wide of the mark.  Not only are they downright ugly, they try to mimic "pack" racing we see in stock cars (NASCAR).  This has led to many injured drivers and destroyed race cars because "rubbin is racing" doesn't work in cars without fenders.  Part of the allure of F1 for the fans is knowing they are watching "oh my God fast" race cars.  Mark C.

9/30/03

***Reader Opinion***Why not Silverstone?  A reader writes, Dear AR1,  Watching stalled drivers at Miami floundering like beached whales, why not have onboard starters? If this is ruled out, then why can't the Simple Green Safety Team be given electric starters like the pit crews. This could save the push/tow start farces we see and get the race back to Green a lot more quickly, and keep more cars on the lead lap. With one engine spec, I see no reason why there is any technical impediment to this. On the subject of Brands, since Bernie seems to resent the British GP at Silverstone, why doesn't the BRDC call his bluff and invite CART to race there instead. It's a high speed circuit with better road links than Brands, and everyone has heard of it. Does this make too much sense or am I missing something? Ed McFarlane, Goadby, England  Dear Ed, Champ Cars will have onboard starters when they change engines.  As for the Simple Green crews having starters - Each car has a different type of starter, but now that we're down to one engine and two chassis makes, they should. As for Silverstone, CART wants to stay in "urban" environments. Brands Hatch is close to London and Silverstone is not.  London is the only "big" city in England.  Brands could be a great track if someone would buy it who can spruce it up so the Champ Cars could use the long circuit and new garages could be built.  Mark C.

9/30/03

NASCAR tire issues  Last week’s Dover International Speedway tire problems are again the talk in the garage here at Talladega Superspeedway. Dover is traditionally one of the tracks where allegedly inconsistent tires become the post-race issue for the teams that fail to reach Victory Lane. With so much at stake for each team it is not unexpected for those with unattained top-10 hopes to complain, but it is also important to know what’s being discussed.

Albeit unofficial, the problem, according to several high-profile crew chiefs, deals with the tire vintage uncorked at the abrasive Dover track last week. Specifically, the wide differences in tire build dates left some teams scratching their heads. The tires allegedly carried production tags and codes representing tires three weeks old or nine months old or maybe even 18 months old. And it is generally accepted that a newer tire compound more effectively sticks a car to the track than an older tire.  The tire specialist from the Motorcraft Ford team countered, however, that reading the codes is not rocket science. “It’s getting a little overblown,” said the tire engineer. “All the information is right on the tires.”

The tire engineer continued, telling TFR that he could see that there were a number of tires from various tire runs and that he was able to identify and match sets to prevent or minimize any surprises. Other teams found a scapegoat for the weekend performance.

“Where the problem lies is that an older tire will amplify any problem that you have with a car, or if it’s pushing a little with a new tire it will absolutely plow with an older one,” said one of the Ford crew chiefs. “Same with a loose car - or if it’s a little loose on new tires it’ll want to snap around on the driver in a heartbeat on old tires.”

Another crew chief told TFR that he’d bought 17 sets of tires trying to find five good sets in the lot. “And we threw away four of those sets. They were totally useless to me or anyone in this sport,” the irritated crew chief said.

A NASCAR source told TFR today that beginning in 2004, when Goodyear brings out a new softer compound tire, a date code will be stamped onto the tire as part of the production process. The NASCAR source also said that he understood “the good business sense” that Goodyear is using in clearing out their warehouse of the aging tires before they become obsolete. Ford Racing

9/30/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items  

Ferrari Slam F1's New Points System
Schu: Senna Death 'Worst Day' In Life
Brawn: More Pressure Despite Smaller Target
I'm On My Way: Heidfeld Leaves Sauber
Michelin To Learn From Indy Defeat
Bahrain F1 Race Picks Up Title Sponsor
No More Team Orders, Says Ferrari
Agreement Close On F1 Layout Changes
FIA Chief Vows To Cut Road Deaths
Barrichello: I Had Nowhere To Go
Trulli Rues Missed Silverware
McLaren Admit Montoya Approach
Flavio and Jaguar Thwart Montoya Move
Schu: I'll Win Number Six For Pleasure
Rumors Created On Purpose, Says Jacques
Manufacturers Vow Commitment To Formula One
Todt Will Stay Anxious Until Suzuka Flag
We Can Still Do It, Vows McLaren Team
Canada '90 Percent There' On F1 Return
F1 Drivers Happy With One-Lap Qualifying
Honda: We Won't Decide BAR Driver Line-Up
Ferrari Stay Opposed To Track Testing Bans

9/30/03

***Reader Opinion***European Races  A reader writes, Dear friends, It would be a shame if CART cancels Europe from its 2004 schedule. The last year's CART race built up a big crowd of fanatics in Germany. We hope that CART will find a way to race again in Europe. At the EuroSpeedway we had two exciting events only the promotion was not too successful. CART is the best racing league worldwide. Alexander and friends, Germany  Dear Alexander, Unless a 2nd venue can be found to partner with EuroSpeedway to share in the costs to fly the entire circus over to Europe, it's not going to happen.  However, with BMW and Volkswagen (rumored by AR1) both running as support series to CART, racing in Germany makes a lot of sense now doesn't it?  We do know that Estoril has committed to a CART race in 2005, but we don't know about 2004.  We also don't know what kind of attendance a CART race would get in Portugal.  The Rockingham oval is gaining spectators (see photo below) and that remains a possibility.  Brands Hatch is the right location, but the track desperately needs someone like Bernie Ecclestone to buy it and invest what it takes to make the long circuit there work.  Like Miami, the short course is too Mickey Mouse for a proper Champ Car race.  We think Bernie may reinstate the Canadian GP for 2004.  If he does that, we suspect Imola might lose its F1 date.  That is a proper race circuit for the Champ Cars, and probably should be where CART races.  Mark C.

  Much More...click on 2002 archives button below
3

Hot News Archives

2000 2001 2002 2003

e-mail us:
contacts@autoracing1.com

Back to the top

AutoRacing1 is an independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by CART Inc., NASCAR, FIA,  FedEx, Winston, or any other series sponsor. This material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed without permission.
User agreement & disclaimer

Copyright 1999 - 2001, AutoRacing1, Inc., Hamilton, NJ

 

Banner 10000012



Watch CART, F1, NASCAR, ALMS & more on DirecTV
Our Price: $29.99
Order Now

Free Installation