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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.
***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.
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.
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
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
"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.
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."
***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.
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."
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
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.
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
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.
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
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."
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
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
***Reader Question***What can be done
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.
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."
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
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
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.
IRL asked to switch from Methanol to
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
"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
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
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.
CART race at Laguna Seca up in the air This
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.
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
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
Legault again meets with F1 bossesUPDATE According to this Quebec
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
GM of Vancouver race sacked This
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.".
NASCAR a good fit for Toronto This
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
"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
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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."
CART pulls 1.71.3 1.5 final TV rating in
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
"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
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
Tony Stewart launches new
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
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
(Photo by Jon
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
2. Repaving of the entire road course.
3. Creation of a new pit road that accommodates a 43-car
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
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
“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
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?
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
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.
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
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
“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
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.
***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.
Montoya: It was a big blow
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...
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
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
Photos of Wirdheim's BAR test
web page provides some photos of F3000 Champion Bjorn
Wirdheim's recent test for the BAR F1 team.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
CART to assume all risk in Las
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
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.
10/2/03 Industry News
Brands Hatch Circuits buyout
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
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).
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.
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
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
"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
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 email@example.com or call
1-866-W-TUNNEL to be a part of the live call-in portions of the show.
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
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.
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.
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
``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
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
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
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.
CART Rookie test at Sebring -
Barber Dodge driver Nelson
Phillipe in action in the Fittipaldi Dingman Champ Car
Photos courtesy of CART/Dan Boyd/LAT
CART Rookie test at Sebring -
Roberto González testing at
Sebring in preparation for Mexico City
Photos courtesy of CART/Dan Boyd/LAT
CART Rookie test at Sebring -
Luis Diaz with his Walker Racing
car painted as it will appear in Mexico City
Photos courtesy of CART/Dan Boyd/LAT
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.
Green 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
“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
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,
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
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
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.
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
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."
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
Childress letting Park go This
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
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.”
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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."
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
***Reader Opinion***Champ Cars look
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.
***Reader Opinion***Why not
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.
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 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
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.
***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.
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