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News (chronologically)


Champ Car Lexmark 300 game  QANTM, an Australian company, created a 3D car race for the official game site for the Lexmark Indy 300 Surfers Paradise street circuit. You can select one of three Champ Cars, race through the streets of Surfers Paradise, and compete with others from around the world. Click here to register (for free) and play. Game requires Shockwave and nimble fingers using the arrow keys. Prizes are provided with the overall winner getting free passes to this year's race.


Monteiro making headlines back in Portugal  Tiago Monteiro's fast time in Saturday's Champ Car qualifying really got the Portuguese people excited.  People were calling him from Portugal minutes after he got out of the car and there were quite a few media members from Portugal on-hand who were ecstatic. "Yes, it's going to be crazy-like here, the Mexican fans for the Mexican drivers, I mean, even for me, they are crazy for me so imagine in Portugal. It's going to be a big day in Portugal definitely. I already had some people on the phone. I couldn't hear what they were saying they were shouting so much on the phone. We have to take advantage of those moments, very good moments in your career,"  said Monteiro. Mark C.


Bernie didn't say it   We had heard that Bernie Ecclestone told Kevin Kalkhoven that he really didn't want CART in Europe if he bought into the series, didn't want the competition or confusion for the fans with F1.  We quizzed Kevin today in Mexico City about that and he said Bernie never said any such thing.  In fact he was working with CART trying to line up races.  "He even was working on Spa for CART before F1 decided to go back there," stated Kalkhoven.  Given that, there is still some hope that EuroSpeedway will get the CART date they are hoping for.  That is contingent there is another track who will also pay CART to go.  Mark C.


Medeiros wins IPS finale   Thiago Medeiros won his first Menards Infiniti Pro Series race. The margin of victory was .0694 of a second, the fourth-closest finish in Menards Infiniti Pro Series history. The closest was .0170 in Sept. 2003 at Chicagoland when Mark Taylor defeated Ed Carpenter.  Medeiros got lucky to win after a crash took out the front runners.  Afterward he admitted -  “It’s almost a Christmas present. I’m very happy with the result. I have to say thanks to the crew, Genoa; Thomas Knapp my engineer, Angelo Ferro the team owner, my spotter John Martin, he gave me a lot of help. We just were trying to find a partner to run higher, because it’s very hard to find a good car to overtake somebody if you have too much drag in the car, and that’s what we were trying to do. I had a very good car. I could run high and low and everywhere I want.” 


MARK TAYLOR: “It was exciting out there. We had a good car. The problem is that you just can't get past the car in front of you. The restart is a prime time to get past people, so I had a run on Arie and tried to get past on the outside. I just went on the outside to see if I could get past him. He just seemed to turn right, and I was where he wanted to be. We touched, it turned him around and you saw what happened. It's just a racing thing. Luckily, I've wrapped up the championship. It was an enjoyable race to that point. Things like that just happen.”

Results Saturday of the 100 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series event at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (7) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
2. (11) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
3. (5) Cory Witherill, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
4. (3) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
5. (2) Aaron Fike, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
6. (12) Rolando Quintanilla, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
7. (10) G.J. Mennen, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
8. (13) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
9. (6) Dane Carter, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
10. (8) Gary Peterson, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
11. (16) Tony Turco, Dallara-Infiniti, 67
12. (9) Marty Roth, Dallara-Infiniti, 65
13. (1) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 38, accident
14. (4) Mark Taylor, Dallara-Infiniti, 38, accident
15. (15) Brad Pollard, Dallara-Infiniti, 2, accident
16. (14) Matt Beardsley, Dallara-Infiniti, 1, accident
17. (17) Taylor Fletcher, Dallara-Infiniti, did not start
Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 128.975 mph.
Time of race: 00:45:21.0318.
Margin of victory: 0.694
Cautions: 3 for 18 laps.
Lead changes: 2
Lap leaders: Luyendyk 1-37, Fike 38-63, Medeiros 64-67.


IRL announces new TV/Radio broadcasters for Brazil   UPDATE There appears to be some confusion with this announcement.  According to Emerson Fittipaldi, who we spoke to in Brazil, he has an exclusive agreement with Rede to broadcast all CART races live.  This means that the IRL broadcasts will primarily be on Band (which is the smallest over-the-air network).  Perhaps Rede will carry the races on tape-delay.  The announcement by the IRL fails to state that the broadcasts will be live. Rede is the #3 largest network in Brazil. 10/10/03 - Comments from Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing driver Felipe Giaffone and team owner Morris Nunn regarding today’s announcement that IRL IndyCar Series race broadcasts in Brazil will be carried beginning next season on free-TV channels BAND and Rede 21, two of the country’s leading national networks owned by Grupo Bandeirantes de Comunicacao, as well as the country’s leading radio network, Radio Bandeirantes. FELIPE GIAFFONE “I think this is great news because it is everything that my sponsor Hollywood wanted. Now, in addition to the high-end cable subscribers who could watch our races in Brazil this year, the TV viewership now will cover the whole population base down there, and sponsors like Hollywood see that as a lot of purchasing power. Now, we will be seen by the mainstream population, and that will increase interest in the IRL IndyCar Series in the biggest way ever. Hollywood is happy. I am happy. The IRL is happy. This is a win-win for everybody involved.”  MORRIS NUNN “This is a huge breakthrough for our sponsor Hollywood, which is a leading Brazilian company that has been with us since we started our team four seasons ago. We’re talking about 150 million in potential viewership for our races beginning next year, which considerably increases the value of the IRL sponsorship in Brazil. That is good for Hollywood, and I’m certain many more Brazilian companies will follow suit.”  Mo Nunn Racing PR


CART's TV coverage in Mexico   A reader writes, Dear AR1, I just wanted to pass along some information on the excellent coverage of CART on Mexico's TV Azteca. I live on the South Texas border with Mexico so I'm fortunate to get the Azteca channel. Azteca has been broadcasting from the track since Thursday with promos for the race. They've been broadcasting their daily sports show from the track and their weekly variety show on Saturday morning. Additionally, they broadcasted Friday qualifying and now Saturday qualifying. Tomorrow they'll start broadcasting at 11:00am with some of the prelim races. On another note, there have been commercials running from Sky and apparently they've got exclusive coverage of the race in Pay Per View with an additional channel for race stats.  The Mexicans truly love CART and they know how to promote the race coverage. Thanks for your excellent site. I'm addicted to AR1. Reggie Corona, Brownsville, Texas  Dear Reggie, The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit is full of electricity.  It's very much like a NASCAR race in the USA - full grandstands (last year there were over 175,000 people here on race day.  We hear this year might be more) and the drivers are the heroes.  NASCAR is popular in the USA because the drivers are the heroes. CART is popular in Mexico because the Mexican drivers are heroes to the Mexicans.  There is no secret to having a successful race series.  It's quite simple really - NASCAR sponsors feature their drivers in their advertising and the drivers become household names.  Ditto for the Mexican sponsors in CART and the Mexican drivers.  CART has yet to figure out that it must sit down with each sponsor and convince them why it is to everyone's benefit to make the drivers the heroes.  NASCAR's success is largely a result of getting all its sponsors to understand the benefits of this strategy.  Mark C.


Chevy extends sponsorship of TMS races  They do things big in Texas, from cattle ranching to building speedways. In keeping with the expansive spirit of the Lone Star State, Chevrolet has extended both its status as the Official Vehicle of Texas Motor Speedway and its sponsorship of two autumn events at TMS: the Silverado 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race and the Chevy 500 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season finale. Chevrolet and Texas Motor Speedway officials announced the multi-year agreement today in a press conference at the Texas track. "Chevrolet is proud to continue as title sponsor for these exciting events at Texas Motor Speedway," said Chevrolet Racing Marketing Director Jim Campbell. "Texas is a key market for Chevy, and we have a strong partnership with this great facility that every race fan can appreciate. Texas Motor Speedway consistently produces some of the most competitive wheel-to-wheel racing in motorsports. Continuing Chevrolet's support for the Silverado 350 and the Chevy 500 further solidifies our relationship with fans, the track and the NASCAR and IRL organizations. "Chevrolet's involvement in these events goes far beyond putting the Chevy Bowtie on the marquee," Campbell continued. "Chevrolet vehicles and engines compete on the track, the GM Racing engineering staff works hard to put Chevy products in the winner's circle, and the South Central Region does an outstanding job of involving Chevy dealers and customers in the excitement of a big event."


Scheckter to drive for Panther Racing   IndyCar Series veteran Tomas Scheckter will drive the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone in 2004, Panther Racing officials announced Oct. 11.

Scheckter, 23, from Cape Town, South Africa, will take over for two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr., who announced earlier this year that he was leaving Panther for Penske Racing Inc.

“After competing against Pennzoil Panther Racing for two years, I understand that in order to win on any given race day, you have to beat the yellow car to the finish line,” Scheckter said. “Knowing that I will have the benefit of the team’s reliability and race-day performance is very exciting. I am really looking forward to 2004.”

Scheckter has driven for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2003 and has scored five top-five finishes, including four in the last six races. He scored his only IndyCar Series victory in 2002 at Michigan driving for Red Bull Cheever Racing. In 27 races, Scheckter has led 934 laps, seventh all-time in the Indy Car Series.

“Tomas has proved to be one of the fastest drivers in the IRL over the last two seasons, and we believe our driver development program, with input from our engineering staff and our spotter/coach program, will help showcase Tomas’ true ability as a prolific race winner,” said John Barnes, co-owner of Panther Racing. “There are a lot of talented drivers out there, but in our mind, Tomas is the one driver that best fits what our program has developed into over the last few years: a team that likes to lead, isn’t afraid to run side-by-side and gives 110 percent every lap of the race.”


Fittipaldi vs. Castroneves lawsuit going to court   Three years in the making, look for the CART Champ Car team owner Emerson Fittipaldi lawsuit against IRL driver Helio Castroneves to finally go to court in Miami-Dade County Florida in about five weeks.  The basis of the lawsuit is thus - Fittipaldi USA was contracted by Castroneves to act as Helio's agent.  When Greg Moore was killed at Fontana several years ago, Castroneves was signed by the mighty Penske Team soon thereafter as a replacement to Moore.  Meanwhile Castroneves informed Fittipaldi that he was terminating his 5-year contract early, thus cutting Fittipaldi USA out of any commission they would have made from Helio's signing with Team Penske.


News from Lowe's   Prilosec OTC has signed on as an associate sponsor the #40 Coors Light Dodge driven by Sterlin Marlin beginning with the 2004 Nextel Cup season. The sponsorship will be highlighted by a unique one-race paint scheme that will transform the silver Coors Light Dodge into a purple Prilosec OTC machine. Prilosec OTC will also receive logo placement on Sterling Marlin’s firesuit and a logo position on the #40 Coors Light Dodge. Financial terms and length of sponsorship contract were not disclosed

PPI Motorsports announced Saturday it has extended its contract with driver Ricky Craven as driver of the #32 Tide Pontiac Grand Prix in NASCAR’s top division through 2006. The announcement coincides with Tide’s renewal of its sponsorship agreement with PPI Motorsports, through 2006. Now in his ninth Winston Cup season, Craven, the 1995 Winston Cup Rookie Of The Year, joined PPI Motorsports in 2001, picking up two Winston Cup victories.

Richard Childress Racing has extended its partnership with OKUMA America, a leader in CNC (Computer Numeric Technology) machinery and technology, though 2009. The original agreement between RCR and OKUMA was announced in May of 2000. All five RCR cars will carry OKUMA logos in the 2004 NASCAR season.


Kenseth withdraws from Busch race   Roush Racing driver and current Winston Cup point leader Matt Kenseth has made a decision to withdraw from today’s running of the Little Trees 300 Busch Grand National event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Citing his position in the Winston Cup point standings and the length of running two events in one day, he had the following to say: “I talked it over with Robbie [Reiser] and Mark [Martin] and just decided that it’s best to concentrate on the DEWALT team right now with where we are in the points,” said Kenseth. “800 miles in one day is a lot and I want to make sure I’m fresh at the end of the Cup race if I need to be,” he added. He went on to address the possibility of running the Busch race if it gets postponed Saturday morning. “If the weather turns out to be a problem today and they run the race tomorrow, I’ll still run the car,” he stated.


Mexican drivers lead Saturday AM practice  Much to the delight of the local crowd, Mexican drivers Michel Jourdain Jr. and Mario Dominguez turned almost identical lap times (within 0.007 sec. or about a 1-foot difference on this 2.786-mile circuit) to lead the Saturday morning practice session in Mexico City.  Oriol Servia put in a fast lap right at the very end of the session to go 3rd quick, followed by Tiago Monteiro and Bruno Junqueira.


Weather update from Mexico City  It was raining when we arrived at the track this morning in Mexico City.  However, by 8:00 AM the showers had stopped and the sun broke out.  This morning's warm-up session started with a damp track and most cars on rain tires.  Now half-way through the morning practice session and the track is almost all dry and all cars are on slicks.


Ford statement on Kasey Kahne   There has been a lot of conversation and rumors this past week regarding the status of Kasey Kahne and his contract with Ford Racing and Robert Yates Racing. Greg Specht, Ford's North American Racing Operations Manager, made a statement regarding Kahne's contract status with the manufacturer and outlined Ford's history with Kasey and its future plans for him.

GREG SPECHT, Manager of North American Racing Operations, Ford Racing Technology
"I've been hearing a lot of speculation around Kasey's status and, as far as Ford Racing is concerned, we have a multi-year contract in place with him and we intend on honoring that.

"We feel Kasey Kahne is a future star in this sport. That's why we went ahead and signed him to a multi-year contract. We're flattered that other teams and manufacturers are interested in him because that means we must know how to evaluate promising young talent.

"We've developed a plan for Kasey, along with Robert Yates Racing, and that includes having him run a full Busch Series schedule next season because we feel he's primed for a run at the championship. In addition, he would compete in seven Nextel Cup events for RYR with the plan being that he would run a full-time series schedule in 2005.

"We've been up front with Kasey from the very beginning and have fulfilled his wishes from the first day he showed an interest in becoming a professional race car driver. We organized special test sessions, at our own expense, with Bobby Rahal's CART team and the ppc Busch team so Kasey could compare both types of cars and decide which career path he wanted to pursue. We told him that it was his decision as far as what road he wanted to go down, but that we would be there to support him and provide him the necessary funds to develop his skills with competitive teams.

"At the time he wanted to give the open-wheel series a try, so we arranged for him to compete in both the Toyota Atlantic and Formula Ford Series. After that experience, Kasey decided he preferred stock cars, so we went to one of our top teams in Robert Yates Racing and developed a timetable. We helped coordinate and fund a Busch program with Robert and Channellock for Kasey to compete in 20 races last season. We then increased our tech support and funding with the Akins team for this year so they could become more competitive and that has obviously paid off because Kasey is currently in the top 10 in the Busch Series standings.

"All the while we told Kasey that he was welcome to continue racing sprint cars because that's something we know he loves to do. We've even helped pay for some of his travel costs to get back and forth from various tracks just so he could run in multiple events on any given weekend.

"Kasey has told us in the past that Ford has delivered on every promise it has made to him, and we intend on continuing with that by ensuring he remains in competitive equipment with an eye towards becoming a future champion."


Paddock News from Suzuka Saturday 1 

DAVID COULTHARD sacrificed his McLaren race-car in Suzuka on Saturday for the title hopes of his team-mate. The Scot sat out most of the second practice session after Kimi Raikkonen, who earlier smashed up his MP4-17D, took over the racer. 'The team took the decision in view of the championship position,' said a spokeswoman. DC will race the rest of the weekend in the T-car.

CRISTIANO DA MATTA was delighted after sampling the fabled Suzuka circuit for the first time on Friday. The Toyota ace, from Brazil and rumored to be running low fuel in final qualifying, said it was 'one of the best' he's driven all season. He qualified a season-best third on Saturday afternoon.

Thunder-storms are on the cards for Sunday's JAPANESE GRAND PRIX. Local weather reports near the Suzuka circuit say there is a 70 percent chance of rain for race-day, particularly in the afternoon. Bridgestone's runners won't be disappointed with the news, particularly as Michelin appear to have the upper hand on a dry track.

Jaguar's head of vehicle performance MARK GILLAN is 'a little disappointed' with Justin Wilson's pace at Suzuka. 'But in all fairness,' he said, 'his times have been steadily improving all day. But we might have expected him to be a bit closer to Mark [Webber].' This is the Yorkshireman's first visit to the fabled Japanese circuit, and he qualified 10th in final qualifying (Webber 6th).


Paddock News from Suzuka Saturday 2 

MINARDI tried a new design of barge-board at the Suzuka circuit on Friday. The privilege was Italian Friday tester Gianmaria Bruni's: 'The program went well,' he said.

Suzuka pole-sitter RUBENS BARRICHELLO said the newly-revised chicane near the end of the lap is now 'more fun' and has a better flow. 'We used to brake for longer there,' said the Brazilian, 'and the feel is now very different.' McLaren's David Coulthard added: 'It's very difficult as you need to ride the curbs.'

RALF SCHUMACHER reckons changes to the fabled 130R corner, which is now easily taken flat-out, have nonetheless made the curve 'too bumpy.' The BMW-Williams ace added: 'But I think, generally, they've done a good job here.' Schumacher spun on a slippery track in final qualifying and lines up on the last row.

TAKUMA SATO is enjoying his first race weekend with BAR-Honda and is being guided by Jacques Villeneuve's friend and regular engineer, Jock Clear. 'I just want to take things steady,' said the Japanese, 'as I'm still coming to terms with being here and racing!'

HONDA's 'Suzuka Special' V10 engine got off to a dismal start in Japan on Friday - it blew up and caused damage to many components with a fire. 'I lost 45 minutes,' said Jenson Button, 'which mucked up my qualifying.' Team boss David Richards added: 'After just 8 laps, that was the last thing we needed.'


Paddock News from Suzuka Saturday 3 

JARNO TRULLI has taken three Friday 'poles' this season but has so far failed to convert them into a Saturday triumph or a race win. 'I want one on Saturday now,' smiled the Italian, who described his Renault R23B as 'very strong' in Japan. 'If we can do that, we'll be looking good for the race.' The 30-year-old aborted his lap in final qualifying and will start the Japanese GP from dead-last.

Suzuka's fabled but revised 130R corner can now be taken 'easily' with full-throttle, according to Michelin's F1 manager Pascal Vasselon. 'That certainly wasn't the case 12 months ago,' he said.

F1 fans in Germany are fed up with MICHAEL SCHUMACHER, according to a 'Premiere' TV survey in the world champion's home country. Over 48 percent of those surveyed reckon the 34-year-old should retire if he wins a sixth title in Japan on Sunday.

According to paddock speculation at Suzuka, Sauber sponsor RED BULL is looking to switch camps to Jaguar Racing in 2004. Some wags suggested that it might prove to be Jacques Villeneuve's way back into F1, as Red Bull chief Dietrich Mateschitz is a fan of the French-Canadian.

Australian F1 ace MARK WEBBER is the Grand Prix Drivers' Association's latest director, it was revealed in Japan on Friday. The GPDA works closely with the FIA particularly on improving safety at circuits. Webber, Jaguar driver, joins fellow directors Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard and Jarno Trulli.


Paddock News from Suzuka Saturday 4 

PAUL STODDART reckons his team's 2004 contender will be 'the best of both worlds' after recent back-to-back tests with the old Arrows A23 chassis. 'A few of the results have been quite impressive,' said the Minardi chief, 'but it hasn't blown our car away.'

Hinwil-based F1 chief PETER SAUBER distanced himself from comments made by outgoing driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen at Suzuka. The German racer, HHF, referred to Sauber's 'new manufacturer' in a press conference. Sauber said: 'Yes, I heard that too. But which manufacturer? Volkswagen? I don't know why he said that.'

How will KIMI RAIKKONEN celebrate if he becomes Formula One's youngest-ever world champion in Japan on Sunday? 'I will take the vodka,' came his typically-simple response. The Finn has qualified 8th in final qualifying but his chances took a bound when Michael Schumacher fell to a slippery 14th on the grid.

Struggling Minardi rookie NICOLAS KIESA, a Dane, didn't do much impressing at Suzuka on Friday: bottom of the timesheets and slapped a $1000 fine for crossing the white line at the end of the Suzuka pit-exit.

What's outgoing Renault tester ALLAN McNISH's secret to his speed? 'Porridge,' smiled the Scot at Suzuka. 'I eat it before every track session - and it also lowers my own personal centre of gravity!'


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CART to stay with one engine and one tire series for now  During a Bridgestone media conference Friday in Mexico City we asked Kevin Kalkhoven whether he likes the idea of a single tire in the series or was that an area he would be looking to opening up to competition in the future.  His response was that they were looking to keep it a single tire and single engine formula for now.  Whether that single engine will be badged by multiple manufacturers remains to be seen because CART certainly needs more manufacturer involvement.


American road courses take note  There isn't a single road course in the United States that comes close to the garage and pit facilities at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.  As can be seen from the photo to the right, the garages are very large and on par with F1 standards.  They are clean, bright and afford the teams plenty of space.  Note the suites above.  A large number of corporate guests are entertained in the many suites available.  Compare this to the road courses in the USA which have had very little in the way of major improvements, sans Sears Point, but even that pales in comparison overall.  Meanwhile the USA has seen a major investment in magnificent oval track facilities, financed by the rabid NASCAR fans.  NASCAR's popularity has made it difficult for all other racing series in the USA to prosper.  In Europe and the rest of the world all the investment has been in magnificent road racing facilities.  It's going to take a lot of work and some big corporations or wealthy individuals to buy tracks like Road America in the USA to bring them up to road course standards seen elsewhere in the world.


Williams duo 1-2 in final Suzuka practice  If Juan Montoya didn't get the shaft by the Stewards at the USGP, we would have a real fight for the world title on our hands this weekend.  As it is, Michael Schumacher is almost a given to win.  The Williams team are looking strong with Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya leading the way in a much faster second morning session. Ralf in particular looked to have a car that could take pole.  Michael Schumacher was next along behind the Williams duo, the Ferrari half a second back from his brother's 1m31.149s lap. Ralf's best was  

Position/Driver Team Fastest Lap
1 Ralf Schumacher Williams 1m31.149s
2 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams 1m31.422s
3 Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1m31.705s
4 Jarno Trulli Renault 1m32.343s
5 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1m32.796s
6 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren 1m32.930s
7 Olivier Panis Toyota 1m33.082s
8 Fernando Alonso Renault 1m33.107s
9 Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1m33.133s
10 Jenson Button BAR 1m33.411s
11 Takuma Sato BAR 1m33.662s
12 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber 1m33.694s
13 Mark Webber Jaguar 1m33.807s
14 Justin Wilson Jaguar 1m33.952s
15 Nick Heidfeld Sauber 1m34.558s
16 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan 1m35.476s
17 Ralph Firman Jordan 1m35.620s
18 Jos Verstappen Minardi 1m37.379s
19 Nicolas Kiesa Minardi 1m37.884s
20 David Coulthard McLaren No Time

Industry News

New surface finished at Homestead   The racing surface of the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway with 20-degree, variable banking in the turns was completed Friday under sunny South Florida skies. All that now remains of the Speedway's reconfiguration project is the paving of the track's apron and the completion of the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier around the turns.

The NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway will have its racing debut at the 2003 Ford Championship Weekend, the season-finales for the NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series, Nov. 13-16.

"We're excited to announce the completion of the most technologically advanced racing surface ever constructed," said Speedway President Curtis Gray. "With tickets going fast, I encourage race fans to secure their seats to Ford Championship Weekend and the racing debut of this state-of-the-art SuperSpeedway."

The Homestead-Miami Speedway track reconfiguration project, estimated to cost in excess of $10 million, was designed through advanced computer technology never before available to build a racetrack. The project involved increasing the track's banking to a maximum of 20 degrees in the turns through an innovative variable-degree banking system. With the variable banking system, the degree of banking increases progressively from the bottom to the top of each turn. At the midpoint of each turn, there is 18 degrees banking at the bottom, 19 degrees in the middle and 20 degrees at the top. The variable banking system is designed to create three competitive racing grooves around the track.

The reconfiguration project, with the added banking, came after feedback from race fans asking for more exciting, side-by-side racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. As a tribute to the race fans' contribution to this project, the race fans will actually be the first to drive on the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway during Fans First Weekend, Oct. 25-26. To participate in Fans First Weekend, the fans must purchase a ticket to Ford Championship Weekend and contact the Speedway for a registration number.


Rain forces NASCAR double   Mother Nature ruled the evening as rain brought a quick end to attempts to run the Little Trees 300 Busch Series event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.  Track officials have rescheduled the event for 11 am Saturday morning, weather permitting. Once the race is completed the stands will be cleared with ticket holders for the UAW-GM 500 able to enter the gates at 3 p.m.  With a 60 percent chance of rain on Saturday officials at the speedway may have to make plans for Sunday, a day predicted to be filled with clear skies.  Running both the Busch Series and Winston Cup races on the same day will put Matt Kenseth, Michael Waltrip and Jeff Green in the position of having to run 800 miles in a 12-hour period.  Stan Creekmore


Luyendyk Jr. takes IPS pole   Qualifying Friday for the 100 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series event on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, with starting position, car number in parenthesis, driver and chassis-engine:
1. (5) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 186.282
2. (91) Aaron Fike, Dallara-Infiniti, 185.978
3. (14) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Infiniti, 185.183
4. (4) Mark Taylor, Dallara-Infiniti, 184.744
5. (92) Cory Witherill, Dallara-Infiniti, 184.680
6. (41) Dane Carter, Dallara-Infiniti, 183.543
7. (36) Thiago Medeiros, Dallara-Infiniti, 183.043
8. (27) Gary Peterson, Dallara-Infiniti, 182.833
9. (3) Marty Roth, Dallara-Infiniti, 182.594
10. (25) G.J. Mennen, Dallara-Infiniti, 182.348
11. (20) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Infiniti, 182.077
12. (11) Rolando Quintanilla, Dallara-Infiniti, 181.983
13. (24) Billy Roe, Dallara-Infiniti, 181.785
14. (12) Matt Beardsley, Dallara-Infiniti, 181.517
15. (99) Brad Pollard, Dallara-Infiniti, 181.048
16. (33) Tony Turco, Dallara-Infiniti, 180.747
17. (9) Taylor Fletcher, Dallara-Infiniti, 178.439


CART NYSE listing  The New York Stock Exchange said that trading of Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc.'s common stock will be extended to before the opening on Wednesday instead of Monday. The extension will allow for additional time for the company to make an orderly transition to another market. On Monday, Championship Auto said it advised the exchange that it was pursuing listing of its stock on the over-the-counter Bulletin Board. The NYSE notified Championship Auto that it had fallen below NYSE continued listing criteria for market capitalization and trading price. The company said it didn't expect to submit a plan to comply with the requirements. Shares of Championship Auto closed unchanged Thursday at 56 cents, after hitting a 52-week low earlier in the day.


Bridgestone will be back with CART  Mark Robinson of Bridgestone stated today that Bridgestone will be back with CART in 2004.  "The deal isn't signed yet, but we'll be back."


Ecclestone has yet to invest in Minardi  According to this Reuters article, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has yet to invest any of his money in Minardi despite being announced as a shareholder in June, team boss Paul Stoddart said on Friday. "Bernie's influence has helped the team...and although he hasn't invested any actual money that's largely because the team has actually improved its position since Canada in terms of sponsorship," Stoddart said at the Japanese Grand Prix. "But certainly having Bernie in the background has done no harm at all."


Massa confirmed at Sauber  Felipe Massa is on his way back to Sauber for 2004. Owner Peter Sauber all but confirmed the Brazilian will partner Giancarlo Fisichella next season as the team makes wholesale changes in its driver lineup.  "We drove one year with Felipe Massa. He was fast, he was a little bit young, not a lot of experience, especially on the technical side, and now he could improve very well with Ferrari, do a lot of mileage, learn a lot on the technical side and now we will drive again with him," said Sauber.

Industry News

SAFER Barrier recognized by R&D Magazine   Research & Development Magazine, a leading publication covering the latest breakthroughs in practical, hands-on technology, has named the SAFER Barrier to its prestigious “R&D 100 Awards” list for 2003.

The SAFER (Steel And Foam Energy Reduction) Barrier, developed at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was first installed in May 2002 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The barrier was created in collaboration between the Indy Racing League and UN-L that began in 1998. NASCAR joined the effort in September 2000.

R&D Magazine, based in Oak Brook, Ill., caters to scientists, engineers and administrators in the private business, public administration and academic sectors that engage in applied research and development.

The magazine cited two key reasons for including the SAFER Barrier in its R&D 100 Awards list: the reduction of the severity of driver injuries resulting from high-speed impacts with the barrier instead of a traditional concrete retaining wall and the barrier’s proven ability to absorb energy in a crash without causing the car to “bounce” back into the path of other cars.


Whatever became of Keith Allo  Some were wondering whatever became of CART's former TV honcho Keith Allo.  Allo went to work with the Olympic Committee and has been promoted several times.  He is now very high up in the organization and one of only five "Chiefs."  His latest position is Chief of Entertainment Properties and Brand Marketing.  As Chief of Entertainment Properties, Allo is responsible for identifying and developing an expanded portfolio of broadcast properties that showcase America’s athletes and generate incremental revenue. This effort includes current and new mediums such as television, internet, broadband and other broadcast platforms.

Allo, 37, came to the USOC in November 2001 after serving as Vice President of Broadcasting for Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc. (CART), one of the premiere open-wheel motor sports series in North America, where he managed every aspect of CART’s involvement with television, radio and film. Prior to joining CART, Allo was executive producer for Pass Sports, a regional sports cable channel serving Michigan and parts of Northern Ohio. Properties under Pass Sports include the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons, Big Ten football and basketball, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.


Andretti believes CART/IRL merger possible  This AzCentral article says, In the eyes of Mario Andretti, perhaps the greatest driver in history, there is only one solution to the open wheel mess created nearly a decade ago following the CART/IRL split: A merger. Is it possible? Andretti thinks so.

"I'm trying to find a way to give reason for these two sides to come together and have some talks about merging these two series," Andretti said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "I'll work to dead end as long as I can because I see that would be the best possible scenario for open wheel racing in North America.

"At one time, I didn't think it was possible because the IRL side was so dug in (against it). But I have reason to believe that they would be willing to talk, and as long as that crack in the door is open, we need to go forward and talk about it."


Cialis finally arrives in CART  UPDATE Cialis can't be on the cars in Australia because there are restrictions on drug advertising, even though Cialis is sold in Australia.  The car will keep the same color scheme as it has here in Mexico City.  We asked why?  Because each coat of paint adds 8 pounds to the car's weight was the answer.  10/10/03 - As can been by these photos, Sebastien Bourdais' car and his crew are finally decked out in the long rumored Cialis sponsor colors here in Mexico City where Cialis can be legally sold already.  They can run with Cialis in Australia too, but when they return to the USA the name must come off until the FDA approves its sale in the USA.

Photos copyright 2003 Mark Cipolloni/AR1


Rain tires will be needed in Mexico City  UPDATE We spoke to a Bridgestone rep here in Mexico City about our criticism of CART's hard rain tires.  To clear up a few things - 1) Bridgestone and CART may go to a softer rain tire for natural terrain road courses in 2004, but not until around mid-year when the current inventory of rain tires is depleted (for cost reasons).  Don't look for an Intermediate and a soft rain tire, just one, softer rain tire with a better tread pattern.  We don't agree that having two rain tires will cost much money, but we'll make that case with CART off-line, 2) Teams have the option of paying for their tires up-front before the year starts and for that they get a substantial price discount, 3) Bridgestone is committed to the series and will work with CART until it's right, 4) Bridgestone subsidizes about 40% of the cost of the tires.  The teams pay the rest.  10/9/03 - The weather forecast for Mexico City calls for showers and rain throughout the three day weekend.  Rain tires will be needed and with the high altitude, downforce will be significantly reduced.  Each car receives up to four new sets of grooved-tread Potenza rain tires per weekend on road and street courses, as needed. In addition, each car may use two sets of same-spec rain tires issued at a previous event. Bridgestone has two rain-tire specifications at its disposal, one for the faster permanent road circuits and another for the slower, tighter street courses. The road-course rain tire is available this weekend.  Since the CART Bridgestone rain tires for natural terrain road courses are very hard, we expect a lot of drivers will go off course throughout the weekend and possibly bend up a lot of equipment, i.e. it could be a very expensive weekend for CART.  Hopefully in 2004, CART will follow F1's lead and  Bridgestone will make a very soft full-wet rain tire for CART as well as a harder intermediate tire so they can be prepared for all conditions.  Like tire warmers, which are also not permitted either, one destroyed car is more than enough to pay for tire warmers for the entire field.  Since the teams are paying Bridgestone a hefty price (upfront by the way, before the season starts) for tires, we would hope that they also demand better rain tires for 2004.   Mark C.


Miami by the numbers  Under a blue South Florida sky and blazing sun, some 75,000 spectators saw cars racing down Biscayne Boulevard at speeds close to 180 MPH during the 2nd annual Grand Prix Americas presented by, held September 26 – 28, 2003 in the streets of Downtown Miami. Fans witnessed Mario Dominguez win his second career race, enjoyed concerts by Kid Rock and Elton John and were able to catch glimpses of stars such as Grand Prix Americas Grand Marshal Niki Taylor, Paul Newman, Paris & Nicky Hilton, Ryan Seacrest, Tara Reid and Liv Schreiber of “Scream” fame among others.

“The second annual Grand Prix Americas was a huge success,” said Chuck M. Martinez, president and general manager of Grand Prix Americas. “While the forecast for the weekend weather was gloomy and the rain in some parts of South Florida may have kept some people away, the sun did not stop shining at the track. We had three days of racing with four races, two concerts and a host of celebrities that made this year’s international celebration another Blast by the Bay. We saw marked increases in general admission tickets, an increase in sponsors and we sold out all of our premium suites.”

In addition to attracting thousands of spectators to downtown Miami, the final television rating for Sunday’s CBS broadcast of the Grand Prix Americas presented by was 1.3, reaching 1.45 million households. Similar to last year, this year’s broadcast was the largest television share for any CART race this season.

According to Greater Miami Convention and Visitor’s Bureau officials, downtown hotel occupancies for September 25 – 28 (race weekend) increased to 80 percent. This is in stark contrast to last year’s occupancy averages of the same hotels for the same four days (non-race weekend) that were slightly more than 50 percent.


CART mega teams have taken over the IRL  Perhaps one of the funniest things we have read in awhile.  Here's a Dallas Morning News article about the CART teams killing the original IRL squads. The funniest part is where AJ Foyt claims to have beaten Penske and Ganassi as many times as they have beat him and when you scroll down to look at the numbers, AJ has no wins.  AJ never beat those teams in CART.  Anyone notice how AJ's team is performing in the IRL now, even with Toyota engines?  It's really no different than when he was in CART.  Every series must have their backmarkers we suppose.  Mark C.


Engines would lose over 100 HP in Mexico City  We quizzed Ken Deagle from Cosworth about how much HP the Champ Cars would lose if they were normally aspirated, rather than turbocharged, here in Mexico City, which is 1.5 miles above sea-level.  "I didn't do the computations but it would be at least 100 HP and probably more."  In others words, if Champ Cars had a normally aspirated IRL engine in them they would be running under 600 HP (pathetic) or so.  Thank God for turbos.  Mark C.


Barber Dodge Pro Series to run doubleheaders  The CART-Champ Car Barber Dodge Pro Series officially announced that for the 2004 season, it will increase the number of races comprising the championship by going to a double-race weekend format. Current plans call for races at seven or eight venues, making for a 14- to 16-race championship. From the series’ inception in 1986, Barber Dodge was a 12-race championship, shifting to 10 races in 2002 and 2003. “A primary motivation behind the increase is to attract more European drivers to the CART-Champ Car Driver Development System,” says Rick Ratajczak, driver relations manager the Barber Dodge Pro Series. “The open-wheel ladder series in Europe typically conduct something on the order of 14-to-18 races. Now we can offer an equivalent amount of points races.” Ratajczak adds that “the best value in professional open-wheel racing gets even better: The entry fee will be nominally increased, but the per-race cost will go down dramatically. And that’s not even mentioning the big decrease in overall travel costs for the competitors.” Barber Dodge Operations Director Steve Sewell says it’s important to note that the double-race format requires no more weekend track time than is currently set for Champ Car’s support series. “The short and long of it is, at most venues we are essentially replacing a Saturday qualifying session with a race; a driver’s result in that race becomes his or her starting position for Sunday.” Regarding a specific schedule, it is too early to announce, Sewell says, “but of course we’ll be working with Champ Car to firm things up as it defines next year’s dates and venues. We expect our 2004 schedule to be substantially similar to 2003’s.”


Mexico City sold out has been told here in Mexico City that as of yesterday all the tickets for this weekend's race were gone.  There is absolutely nothing left.  The promoter is scrambling to put up two more bleachers in time for Sunday.


Arden to test James Rossiter  British Formula Renault ace and McLaren Autosport finalist James Rossiter has been confirmed within the Arden Team's Driver Evaluation Program.  James (20) from Oxford finished 3rd in this year's Formula Renault Championship taking one win and remained in contention for the Championship Title until the penultimate Round. James will test with the team for two days in Jerez on the 6th and 7th of November.  Christian Horner commented: "James has had an impressive season in Formula Renault and I am pleased to provide him with a test. We are always keen to look at talented British Driver's and I'm sure that he will quickly adjust to the much more powerful F3000 cars performance".


Night racing lights up local economy  With an event record 163,000 fans expected to attend Saturday night's UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, prime-time racing under the lights is priming the pump for the area economy. The inaugural nighttime running of the UAW-GM Quality 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race and its preliminary events will be worth more than $106 million to the local economy, an increase of nearly $21 million from last year's daytime events. According to John Connaughton, Ph.D, an economist and professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, fans attending this week's race events will contribute $106,818,134 to the economies of Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Iredell counties. Connaughton based his new findings on formulas used in an extensive 1999 study on fan expenditures. The estimated economic impact of the 1999 and comparable 2002 fall events was $85,594,043 for the three-county area. Speedway officials are expecting nearly 300,000 fans from around the country and a few foreign countries to attend activities this week. Ticket sales for Saturday night's UAW-GM Quality 500 are up nearly 15-percent from last year. While in the Charlotte-Concord area, fans will spend more than $16 million on entertainment, food and drink; nearly $4 million on gasoline and auto expenses; $13.6 million in retail; $14.3 million on souvenirs and another $6.4 million for lodging. Not included in the impact study is the fact that a large majority of a record $5.5 million race week purse for competitors will stay in the area since nearly 90 percent of NASCAR's Winston Cup teams are based within a 50-mile radius of the speedway. UAW-GM Quality 500 Week also produces jobs. On-site and off-site race-related activities support a total of 1,411 full-time jobs in the three-county area. Nearly 6,000 full and part-time people, from concession-stand operators to pit crews, are needed to produce Saturday night's event. LMS PR

Industry News

Richmond to expand  Richmond International Raceway is embarking on another round of expansion and upgrades as part of its ongoing commitment to fans who visit "The Action Track" three times each season for some of the best side by side racing in all of motor sports. More than 1,400 seats will be added for the 2004 season, bringing the track's capacity to 107,097. The project includes new seats in the Veranda Grandstand in turn one, development of 55 new acres of parking on the north side of the track's property and the addition of a second spectator care center outside of turn two next to the amphitheater. The amphitheater, which is used for Speed Channel and QVC shows on race weekends as well as concerts and special events on non-race weekends, is being remodeled. Gravel roads are also being added to several parking lots which will help with traffic ingress and egress, especially during inclement weather. Including this round of projects, the track has spent more than $40 million on improving the facility over the last few seasons. Priority will be given to fans on the waiting list who wish to purchase a full-season ticket package. Fans who would like to be added to the waiting list can visit for details. All races at "The Action Track" are "Under the Lights." For more information, contact the Richmond International Raceway ticket office at 804-345-RACE (7223). Richmond International Raceway PR


Mark Green in #14 next two races  Mark Green will drive A.J. Foyt Racing's #14 Harrah's Dodge this weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway and at Martinsville next weekend. Green replaces rookie Larry Foyt, who continues to suffer from a kidney bruise suffered in an accident at Talladega two weeks ago, according to a Foyt team spokesman. Doctors advised Foyt to sit out the next two weeks, meaning he'll return to the car for Atlanta. Green has served the past couple seasons as a driver coach and consultant to Foyt. Mark Green's regular job this season has been as a shock specialist and driver coach at Akins Motorsports, working with promising newcomer Kasey Kahne. He has also made three Busch Series starts.


F1 paddock news from Suzuka 1  RALPH FIRMAN, who wrapped up the 2002 Formula Nippon championship right here at Suzuka, outpaced rated team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella in first qualifying on Friday. 'But there's still more time to find,' said the Jordan ace, who added that 17th was 'disappointing.'

ALLAN McNISH farewelled Renault on Friday with his final 'Heathrow' test session by going faster even than his rated team-mates Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli. In spite of an engine failure, the Scot said: 'The car is very good here. I want to thank the team for a great year - and I've had some fun, too!'

JUSTIN WILSON says Jaguar Racing will decide if he's done enough to keep his seat in 2004 'within a month.' The Yorkshireman acknowledged the importance of scoring points here at Suzuka. 'We all know there are financial gains for finishing higher in the constructors' standings,' he said.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA reckons his wife Connie was more disappointed than him about missing out on the 2003 drivers' world championship. 'I was OK,' he said. 'I told Connie, 'look, that's racing, get on with it.'' Connie Montoya wore a T-shirt at Suzuka yesterday that read 'Always On Top.'


F1 paddock news from Suzuka 2  Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso's RENAULT racers are sporting a fresh look at the Suzuka circuit this weekend - team sponsor Mild Seven have a new logo. The novel 'S' symbol has been christened the 'Blue Wind'.

Jaguar's vehicle dynamics boss MARK GILLAN reckons the pitlane at Suzuka this year is particularly bumpy. 'Quite a few drivers were locking up and overshooting,' he said, 'so it's something we're wary of.'

BAR-HONDA chief David Richards and team driver Jenson Button will travel to China after this weekend's Japanese GP. The two-day tour, ahead of China's inaugural F1 race in September '04, will see Richards meet senior government officials and business leaders. 'China offers so many new and uncharted opportunities [for F1],' said DR.

GIANCARLO FISICHELLA prepared to farewell the Jordan-Ford team at Suzuka on Friday before he switches to Sauber in 2004. The Roman, just 18th quickest on Friday, said: 'I'll do my best because in two years here, I've had a good time.'


F1 paddock news from Suzuka 3  JENSON BUTTON could have finished on the podium at Indianapolis, but his BAR car's Honda V10 failed. So is he looking forward to more revs and horsepower this weekend at Suzuka: 'The important thing's not speed but reliability,' the Briton said. 'But I think they've sorted the problem.' JB was 16th on Friday.

A Minardi spokesman rubbished speculation this morning that Friday tester GIANMARIA BRUNI will take Nicolas Kiesa's place in the race line-up at Suzuka. Bruni was significantly faster than young Dane Kiesa in the final 'Heathrow' session in Japan.

SATOSHI MOTOYAMA, the 32-year-old Japanese driver who debuted in F1 for Jordan-Ford in Friday testing at Suzuka, got the thumbs-up from the team's engineering chief Gary Anderson. 'He had quite a lot of fuel,' said the Irishman, 'so I think it was commendable.' Motoyama marvelled at the F1 car's 'engine power and speed.' .


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Tidbits gleaned from CART buyout  UPDATE I just read your comments on the recent article on the CART buyout and felt compelled to write you. In your article you compare CART's former CEO Andrew Craig's performance to Chris Pook's. This being done exclusively by looking at profits and losses for the company. This comparison is not a fair comparison as the situation, timing, competition in the market place, etc., were as different as night and day.

I wholeheartedly agree that Andrew Craig was one of CART's top CEOs and his record proves it. He increased the company's profits from prior years. Took the company "public," and managed a steady ship very skillfully. On the other hand, Chris Pook came in at a time that was short of a "disaster."

1. Three of the most successful team owners in CART had decided to take their teams and money and go play with CART's competition, this having an incredibly negative impact on the company.

2. Major car manufacturers decided to also follow the path to the IRL taking with them their sponsorship and most important their advertising and promotional dollars.

3. One of our best known drivers also announces that he is leaving CART and jumping to the IRL. All of these team defections including Andretti's further depleted CART's credibility in the marketplace as they took about 10 of our "best known" and marketable drivers out of our series. These 10 drivers, plus the ones we lost to F 1 made up about 50% of the starting fields and about 90% of the "sponsor paid" media campaigns (to be replaced with mostly unknown drivers with little or no promotional support).

4. Because of the above and the IRL's war on CART, sponsors at all levels started to flee.

At that point, the CART Board of Directors made a decision to continue with the series and "fight" rather than fold the company. The only way to do this, was to make sure there were sufficient teams (18 entries minimum at every race) and this could only be realistically accomplished by offering teams a GUARANTEED CASH package. These team support programs are the reason for the overwhelming losses. The balance is directly attributed to the sponsorship and TV losses.

In addition, Chris Pook came in at a time when former CART management had mismanaged CART's TV rights, and the company went from making money on TV to taking huge losses. Prior management had failed to foresee the coming changes in the TV industry and had allowed the company's TV rights deals to lapse.

Basically, there was NO GOOD NEWS on any front when Chris Pook arrived and he has been "putting out fires" since the day he arrived. Anyway, I could go on and on, but since it is 5:00 AM.  I need to go back to sleep. I just want to set the record straight as I know there's a lot of mudslinging now and with more to come and I want everyone to know that the problems in which CART is today are not related to any action taken recently. The die was cast years ago with wrong decisions by some of the former CEOs.  Sincerely, Name Withheld by Request (A past or present CART Board Member)  10/10/03 - Little tidbits gleaned from the recently filed Proxy Statement by Open Wheel Racing Series LLC.

  • Say what you might about CART's ex-President Andrew Craig, but when he was President CART made a healthy profit. Under Craig CART had $15 million profit in 1998, $18.9 million profit in 1999 and $15.1 million profit in 2000. Compare that for example, to the $83 million loss this year under the current regime.

  • CART will cut Administration costs by 1/3, which we assume means a 33% reduction in staff.

  • CART will continue team support in 2004 (ESP) at the tune of $6 million (a 25% reduction), but THE $31 MILLION in team assistance will be reduced to $2 million, which means any teams left in CART will pretty much be paying their own way through sponsorship or their owner's checkbook.

  • CART will continue to lose money in 2004 ($14.9 million ) and 2005 ($2.47 million) before turning a profit of $2.2 million in 2006.

  • Management has observed that teams have become disenchanted with management, and teams are likely to leave absent a fundamental change in management of the Company - i.e. some heads will roll.


Suzuka hard on tires  Suzuka is an extremely complicated circuit, and one needed to be tackled with care. Just like for the drivers, the Japanese track is one of the most interesting circuits of the year for the engineers and here Renault’s Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds lets us into some of its secrets.

“We saw two weeks ago in Indianapolis that the extra running the Heathrow Agreement gives us is useful, even at the end of the season. During that test, we even managed to test tires for Japan,” explains Pat.

After two days of tire development at Barcelona just before the US Grand Prix, the team spent part of the Heathrow session in America working on tires for this weekend. The reasoning behind it is simple…

“Suzuka is a very tough track on tires,” confirms Pat. “They undergo enormous lateral loads, and the corners flow in such a way that the tires have very little time to rest. For example, the front right absorbs 75% more energy than at Monza. At the right rear, this is more like 50%. What’s more, the nature of the circuit can also bring about high operating temperatures. The tires we have brought to Japan may entail using different strategies, depending on our choice. I don’t think that we will necessarily see a Bridgestone advantage here either: that would be like assuming Magny-Cours automatically suits Michelin! We have gambled on a fairly aggressive tire choice, and that may prove decisive.”

As for car set-up, this is just as challenging. The most difficult part of the circuit is undoubtedly the series of Esses behind the pits:

“You can lose lots of time there, and that’s also the case in 130R, where you need very good stability. This corner has also been modified though, and we will have to take a close look at the modifications.”

The final element to look at will be the compromise between downforce and top speed.

“Overtaking at Suzuka is always hard, but there is still an opportunity at the chicane,” concludes Pat. “You therefore need to be able to defend your position, with a good top speed. But the rest of the circuit requires relatively high levels of downforce: finding the right compromise can be tricky.” Renault


Players Forsythe team sports new look  Canadian driver Paul Tracy sits in his new look Lola/Ford Champ Car for the first time before Friday's first practice sessions for Sunday's Champ Car Grand Premio Telemex-Gigante in Mexico City. For the final three races of the season the names of loyal team fans will appear on the cars of both Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier as a thank you for their support of the Canadian racing team.

Photos by Paul Strak


***Reader Opinion***Hates to see de Ferran retire  UPDATE  Another reader writes, Dear AR1, My late husband, Chuck Matthews, had the opportunity to work with Gil on the Jim Hall Racing and Walker Racing's teams. Chuck had the utmost respect for Gil's exceptional driving talent and superb technical skills. Gil is an engineer's dream! Chuck was proud to have Gil as one of his dear friends, and to be a part of his remarkable career. All the best to you, Gil! Sincerely, Jenell Matthews, Austin, TX  Yet another writes, I am happy for Gil de Ferran. It is good to see him walk away while he is at his prime and is not forced to retire due to injuries so common in the IRL. Michael Crane 10/9/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, I hate to see Gil retire, he is really a class act. His fans can hope he will turn up in another series, maybe CART, maybe sportscars. By the way, you might have mentioned that he held (and possibly still holds) the world Closed Course Speed Record, 241.428 m.p.h., set at Fontana when he was in CART. To me that's a mind bending speed. Good Luck Gil. Thanks AR1, Mike Collins Tulsa, OK


Could be 18 races or France might get axe  This article says, There has been talk in recent days that the Formula 1 team bosses might agree to having 18 Grands Prix next year to allow Canada back on to the World Championship calendar. It seems that the Canadian promoter Normand Legault was told to raise more money and F1 would return and we hear that he has done this rather successfully. The problem is that the teams are saying that to make it worth their while they each want $2m for an extra race and that would mean that Formula One Management would have to kick in another $20m. In order for an 18th race to take place all the teams would need to agree and that almost never happens as team bosses tend to use such situations to try to force through things that they would like to see. Putting Canada back on the calendar makes a great deal of sense - if only because it would increase F1's visibility in North America and cut costs of the United States GP as the two events would be able to share costs - but the teams seem to be more interested in losing France and thus getting Canada back in.

Industry News

State of Illinois demands return of $750K of pork   UPDATE [Editor's Note:  We are not sure if IRL team owner Chip Ganassi will get drawn into this investigation or not.  At one time he was part owner of the race track, but he may have sold out before these activities took place]  This NBC5 News article says A federal grand jury in Chicago has launched a criminal probe into a $750,000 state grant that former Gov. George Ryan awarded to the owners of a shuttered racetrack just before he left office, according to a published report. A subpoena was delivered to the state on April 3 seeking all records pertaining to the grant, a source familiar with the investigation told the Chicago Tribune. Another source said federal agents have also made inquiries about the grant, the newspaper reported Thursday. Ryan gave the grant to the politically powerful National Jockey Club as reimbursement for some of the construction costs incurred years earlier in converting the 11,000-seat Sportsman's Park in Cicero into a 70,000-seat dual-use stadium for horse and auto racing. The project was a failure and the Jockey Club, a generous campaign contributor to Ryan and other Illinois politicians, had already closed the facility before obtaining the grant in January. Disclosure of the probe comes as Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration is demanding repayment of the money. The Jockey Club is fighting that request. Ed Duffy, a former Sportsman's official who is now a Jockey Club consultant, defended the propriety of the grant, adding that officials of the organization were unaware of a federal inquiry. "None of us have been contacted (by federal authorities)," Duffy said.   10/6/03 - This Chicago Tribune article says that the (Rod) Blagojevich administration has demanded the return of a $750,000 state grant that former Gov. George Ryan awarded three days before he left office to the owners of the shuttered Sportsman's Park in Cicero. Ryan gave the grant to the politically powerful National Jockey Club to reimburse the group for some of the construction costs incurred years earlier in a conversion of the 11,000-seat horse-racing track into a 70,000-seat dual-use stadium for horse racing and NASCAR-type events. The conversion turned into a financial disaster. By the time Ryan handed it the state money in January, the Jockey Club had already closed the horse track, transferred racing dates to nearby Hawthorne Race Course and announced it would schedule no more auto events at its Chicago Motor Speedway. The Jockey Club has since sold the site to Cicero for $16 million. More... (Requires registration)


Mexicans increasingly drawn to CART  This AP article says, The CART series once was synonymous with American open-wheel racing. Now it has an increasingly Mexican flavor.  Six of the 20 starters in Sunday's race in Mexico City will be driving in their native country, including the winner of last month's race in Miami. President Vicente Fox invited all six drivers to a meeting at the presidential residence this week.  "This event is significant for Mexico," driver and team owner Adrian Fernandez told Fox. "This began in the dreams of many years ago and now it is a reality."  But the heart of the issue may lie as much in free trade agreements as on the track.  Many potential American drivers and sponsors have been drawn toward other sports, or NASCAR. Only three drivers from the United States are in Sunday's lineup.  But Mexican companies have seen CART as a way to promote products that are increasingly exported to the United States, as well as to win the hearts and pocketbooks of fans -- often relatively rich ones -- in race-crazy Mexico.  The list of team and race event sponsors at this event includes Mexico's main telephone company, its top cell phone company, its largest bank, a major supermarket chain with U.S. outlets, a food company that exports to the United States and two widely exported Mexican beers.  Nearly 90 percent of Mexican exports go to the United States.  More....


Weather forecast good in Japan  The weather forecast for the Japanese Grand Prix, the crucial race in the 2003 World Championship for Drivers and the World Championship for Constructors, continues to be favorable. Temperatures will again reach around 24 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) today, which will continue to be partly cloudy. That will be the case tomorrow and Sunday too, with very little chance of rain.


Trulli fastest in Japan Friday AM practice 

Pos No Driver Team Time
1 7 Jarno Trulli Renault 1:30.727 *
2 1 Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1:31.009 *
3 5 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.019 *
4 2 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1:31.217 *
5 8 Fernando Alonso Renault 1:31.276 *
6 6 Kimi Räikkönen McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.303 *
7 3 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW 1:31.654 *
8 14 Mark Webber Jaguar -Cosworth 1:31.977 *
9 20 Olivier Panis Toyota 1:32.011 *
10 21 Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1:32.133 *
11 4 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW 1:32.208 *
12 16 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda 1:32.295 *
13 10 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Petronas 1:32.422 *
14 9 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas 1:32.694 *
15 15 Justin Wilson Jaguar -Cosworth 1:32.735 *
16 12 Ralph Firman Jordan-Ford 1:33.306 *
17 11 Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan-Ford 1:33.956 *
18 17 Jenson Button BAR-Honda 1:34.445 *
19 19 Jos Verstappen Minardi-Cosworth 1:35.180 *
20 18 Nicolas Kiesa Minardi-Cosworth 1:35.900 *


Earnhardt signs with Earnhardt   Dale Earnhardt, Inc. has reached an agreement with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for the next five years to remain as the driver of the No. 8 DEI Chevrolet. The young Earnhardt has been driving for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. since 1998 and entered NASCAR’s premier Winston Cup Series as a rookie in 2000.
The agreement between Teresa Earnhardt, CEO and president of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., and Earnhardt, Jr., solidifies the driver’s future with the organization created by his father, seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt, and his wife, Teresa.

“Dale and I built this organization with a long term plan in place,” Teresa said. “Dale Jr. has always been an intricate part of that plan and this agreement represents our commitment to one another in reaching the goal of winning championships.”

The agreement is Earnhardt Jr.’s first ever Winston Cup contract as a driver, the terms are private, and is based on a five-year partnership through the 2007 season. Currently, he holds a career-high ranking of third place in the Winston Cup Series, matching his career best of 17 top-10 finishes with six races remaining.

“This is the first time I have had a contract in four years,” Dale Jr. said.   “We had a handshake and that was sufficient. But, in today’s business world you need written agreements and now we have one. It was an interesting process that was very educational. What it really came down to was Teresa and myself being in the same place at the same time and sitting down to talk about it. Once that happened, it was taken care of in no time at all.

“We have a lot of good people here at DEI that are committed to this company. Now we can set out to achieve those goals without any distractions.”   DEI PR


NBC spends money, spins wheels with NASCAR   For all of its continued growth on television - ratings up 2 percent this year on NBC/TNT (59 percent overall since 2000) - NASCAR still isn't a moneymaker for the networks.

This is the third year of NBC/TNT's six-year deal to carry half of the Winston Cup Series, and NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer admitted yesterday he doesn't see his network breaking even any time soon.

"We're getting closer, but we're not there," Schanzer said. "We've got a ways to go . . . [and] I suspect we're not going to catch up in this contract."

Sounds as if NBC is debating whether to remain on board with its share of the $2.6 billion NASCAR package, doesn't it? This is the network that let go of the NFL (in 1998), major-league baseball (2000) and the NBA (2002) because there simply was too much red ink to justify carrying on. (In the past four years of its pro hoops package, NBC watched ratings fall 39 percent and lost about $300 million.)   More.....


Montoya calls for full-time Steward  Juan Montoya was given a drive-thru penalty after coming together with Rubens Barrichello in the USGP - a ruling he felt cost him the World Championship. "I still believe the decision was unfair," the Williams driver told reporters at Suzuka. "It was a racing incident. The biggest problem we have got is that every race you have got different stewards. I think it is sad to see that such a big series as Formula One is still messing around with different stewards in every race. All you need is more consistency. The rules are there and you have got to know what is right and what is wrong. You have got to have someone who goes to every race and they know what is right or wrong. What Michael did to Alonso at Silverstone was a very unfair thing to do. He knew that he was going to pass and he knew the only way to stop him was pushing the other guy off," Montoya complained. "I think that deserves a much bigger penalty than what happened with Rubens. If you don't have the same stewards every race you are always going to get that difference."


BAR prepares for China with 2-day tour  Following this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Lucky Strike BAR Honda Team Principal, David Richards and race driver, Jenson Button, will embark on a two-day tour of China, ahead of the country’s inaugural Formula One race on 26 September 2004.

Jenson will be carrying out interviews and appearances for Chinese press and broadcast media in Shanghai and Beijing, and will also take the opportunity to explore some of China’s spectacular landmarks.

David will be meeting with senior Government officials and business leaders, and investigating plans for promoting next year’s Chinese Grand Prix, to be held at the Shanghai International Circuit.

In July this year, BAR announced a long-term partnership with Chinese Internet portal SINA. The leading online media information service will host the Chinese language team website which is due to go live in early November.

Speaking ahead of the visit, David Richards commented: “This is a very exciting trip for myself and Jenson, because China offers so many new and uncharted opportunities. The potential there is enormous, in fact next year’s race has the opportunity to almost double the sport’s existing audience."

“We have already formed a close partnership with SINA, who have realized the potential Formula One has to offer as a worldwide marketing tool. We are now looking at ways to expand further into the market and to raise BAR’s profile in China.”  BAR F1


Ward Burton to the NetZero team in 2004   NetZero HiSpeed and Haas CNC Racing announced today that NASCAR veteran Ward Burton will be behind the wheel of the #0 NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac during the 2004 Nextel Cup Series season. "This is a great opportunity for me to bring my experience to an up and coming, young team," stated Burton. "I've watched the team grow and progress in its first year and it's definitely come a long way in a short time. Gene Haas runs a first-class organization, NetZero HiSpeed is a great sponsor and Tony Furr is an outstanding crew chief. I feel like we can take this team to the next level together and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. There's no end to the possibilities for this race team." "We're thrilled to have someone of Ward's caliber joining our team. It says a lot for our race team," said Haas, owner of Haas CNC Racing. "The experience that he brings is something that will help us in so many ways. I just can't say enough about how excited we are about our future. We've had a lot of great people come on board our organization this year and we've made steady progress in our efforts to be successful. Ward Burton is the icing on our cake." In a related move, Haas CNC Racing and NetZero will expand their partnership for 2004, with NetZero joining the team's new Busch Series program for current NetZero driver Jason Leffler as an associate sponsor for all 2004 events and primary sponsor of the effort for three races. "We've been really impressed with Jason's performance so far, and look forward to being with him and Haas CNC Racing in the Busch Series next year as they compete for race wins and the championship," said Woods. "Jason is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Busch Series next year, and the experience he gains there will certainly help when he returns full time to the Nextel Cup Series in the future." "The combination of Ward Burton and Jason Leffler is going to be a tremendous boost to our entire program," said Haas. "Jason will have a tremendous resource in Ward's experience, and Ward is committed to helping Jason in any way he can. Our long term goal would be to have Jason and Ward running together as teammates in the Nextel Cup Series, and I'm confident that in the not too distant future, that's exactly what we'll do." NetZero Racing PR


Johansson team announces Mexico deal  American Spirit Team Johansson is pleased to announce their partnership with Gonher de Mexico for this weekend’s Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa, round 17 of the 2003 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. The partnership includes primary sponsorship for the #31 American Spirit/Ford-Cosworth/Reynard, driven by Champ Car rookie, Ryan Hunter-Reay. “We are very pleased to welcome Gohner de Mexico to the American Spirit family,” said team owner, Stefan Johansson. “With this weekend’s Grand Prix being one of the largest sporting events in North America, it offers the ultimate audience for a progressive company like Gonher. We are proud to carry their name in their native country and to introduce Gonher de Mexico to racing fans around the world.” Founded in 1953, Gohner de Mexico is the leader in the Mexican auto parts industry. With 30 stores nationwide, the 100% Mexican company manufactures and sells auto filters, lubricants, car batteries, brake pads, shock absorbers and additives. “Gonher is proud of its 50 years of existence in Mexico and we are excited to share it with the North American racing fans and American Spirit, at Mexico’s largest sporting event. On behalf of everyone at Gonher, we hope you enjoy this great event of International motor sport,” commented Enrique Escobedo, Director of Marketing, Gohner de Mexico.


SEM sponsors BAM at Lowe's   SEM Products, Inc., celebrating its 50th year of automotive product research, production, manufacturing and distribution, will sponsor the #49 BAM Racing Dodge of driver Ken Schrader in the upcoming NASCAR Winston Cup stock car race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. SEM Products sponsored BAM earlier this season in the second races at Brooklyn, Mich., and Bristol, Tenn. “We are very pleased SEM Products will return to our car for the race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway,” said Beth Ann Morgenthau, who owns BAM Racing along with her husband Tony. Morgenthau is the only female owner in motorsports who is not involved because of previous family ties. The successful Coral Gables, Fla., investors, who have fully funded the team for the complete 2003 season run, have built the BAM (Beth Ann Morgenthau’s initials) team from the ground up. General manager Eddie Jones is a veteran of the NASCAR Winston Cup wars, is enjoying a championship career as a crew chief, mechanic and team leader. Crew chief Scott Eggleston is one of the few active crew chiefs in the business to have won a Daytona 500.


Vickers to attempt Cup debut   Brian Vickers will attempt to make his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday, driving the No. 60 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Lance McGrew, Vickers' NASCAR Busch Series crew chief, will call the race-day shots for the 19-year-old, who is also scheduled to compete in the final four races of the 2003 Winston Cup season in the No. 01 entry. Three weeks ago, the No. 60 Hendrick Motorsports team tested at Lowe's Motor Speedway in preparation for this week's Winston Cup festivities. In simulated qualifying runs, Vickers posted lap times better than Jimmie Johnson's track qualifying record of 186.464 mph, set in May of this year. Vickers will race Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 2547 on Saturday, which is typically used by the No. 25 UAW-Delphi team. The same car was used for the No. 60 team's test at Lowe's Motor Speedway three weeks ago and has been entered this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and California Speedway. "It's a dream come true. To be able to try and qualify for my first Winston Cup race at Charlotte with Hendrick Motorsports is pretty unbelievable. It's going to be great to have my family and friends there to cheer me on. I wouldn't be where I am today without their support over the years. First and foremost, we have to qualify. There's no guarantee that we'll make the race. Once qualifying is out of the way, the focus will shift to the race and making laps. If we can stay out of trouble and complete as many laps as we can, everything will work out just fine."


Foyt is hottest bachelor   Larry Foyt, driver of the No. 14 Foyt/Harrah's Racing Dodge, has been named North Carolina's hottest bachelor by Cosmopolitan magazine. Foyt, a rookie in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, and 49 bachelors representing the 50 states are revealed in the November issue of Cosmopolitan which hits newsstands nationwide on October 14. Cosmopolitan conducted a state-by-state search for its feature entitled "Cosmo's Bachelor Bonus." Each bachelor was photographed in California or New York and the article reveals the inside track on each bachelor's interests. In addition, readers across the country will be able to contact the bachelor of their choice through special e-mail addresses created by the magazine. "I didn't quite know what to say when they told me I was selected," said the 26-year-old Foyt. "I had a blast in New York when I did the interviews and photo shoot. I also got a chance to meet some of the other bachelors and they were all pretty cool. It's a huge honor for me and the experience is something I'll never forget." [Editor's note - this contest must not be based on the contestant's ability to excel at their job, Larry is currently 42nd in the points standings and many times fails to qualify for a Winston Cup race]


Holland quits Stars of Tomorrow  The Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow national karting series announced today that Glenn Holland is leaving the company immediately to pursue new opportunities in racing media and marketing.

Holland, of Diamond Bar, Calif., served as director of communications and marketing for the Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow since 2002 after establishing himself as national karting media representative for many years.

"This is a difficult time to have Glenn leave us and he will be missed," said Paul Zalud, Cart Stars Director Of Operations. "I see Glenn as a personal friend and wish him and his family the best in the future. I appreciate all that he has contributed to this organization and we are better for it."

Holland's ownership interest via E Enterprises, LLC, which also owns the popular karting website and racing products store, is unaffected by his departure from Stars of Tomorrow.

"Karting and the Stars concept is close to my heart and one on which I've spent a great deal of time and effort," said Holland. "I believe I have helped push the awareness and packaging of karting higher and have strong hopes that can continue. I want to thank the great people of Snap-on, RACER, Bridgestone and CART as well as our other sponsors for their support of our promotional programs. I have met many great people as a result of this endeavor, and I will be thrilled to soon see a Bobby Wilson, Jason Bowles or Kevin Glover competing among the very best in the world at the top levels of motor racing."

Key personnel within Stars organization will expand their roles of responsibilities. Kevin Williams will be responsible for regional development as well as some national operational roles. Williams will remain as our National Race Director. Scott Evans' role of National Tech Director will remain but also will be expanded into a regional role of support. Announcements for all of Stars 2004 series will be coming out very shortly. Tom Blattler will continue to assist in the Stars media relations program and the upcoming Stars Karting Championships in Fontana, Calif.


Villeneuve pulls out of Suzuka finale  Jacques Villeneuve will not race in this weekend's season-ending Japanese Grand Prix after his recent dumping from the 2004 BAR-Honda line-up.

Team chief David Richards informed his team in Suzuka on Thursday that the 32-year-old French-Canadian had asked to be released from his contract.

Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion, was furious when Richards telephoned him with the news last week and reportedly hung up.

Richards said at a press call today that a few hours ago JV's manager Craig Pollock phoned him and said his charge could not conjure the motivation to race. “Jacques is extremely disappointed not to be staying with the team next year, and he simply felt that his heart would not be in it for the coming weekend,” Jacques manager Craig Pollock explained. “As a result he asked that he be allowed to stand down. We are grateful to David Richards, and the team, for releasing him early from his contract.”

'Reserve' driver and Villeneuve's '04 replacement Takuma Sato, a Japanese national, will step into the Honda-powered car for tomorrow's free practice.

After Tuesday’s announcement that Takuma Sato will drive for the team in 2004, and given that he is the team’s current third driver, it was natural that he would take over as Jenson Button’s team-mate, albeit rather earlier than anticipated. Expressing his surprise and delight, Takuma commented: "This was not what I was expecting this weekend, and I cannot express how excited I am to be making my debut for B·A·R in front of my home crowd. It is going to be pretty crazy, but I am confident that I can do a good job."

In 2002, whilst driving for the Jordan Honda team, Takuma produced a widely admired result at the Suzuka circuit. After qualifying in a personal best seventh position, he followed it up with a sparkling drive to fifth place and his first Formula One points. Given his background in the Suzuka Racing School, he knows the Suzuka circuit intimately, and it will provide an ideal environment for his debut. In addition, having completed over 7000 kms of testing with the team in 2003, he knows the B·A·R Honda 005 race car extremely well.

David Richards commented: "Well the end of our season has been rather dramatic, and I certainly was not expecting this, but you have to respect a driver’s decision if he feels he cannot give his best when facing these circumstances. Clearly, as we had already decided on Taku for 2004, we have faith that he will deliver for the team this weekend, and I am pleased that he should start racing with us on a track he knows so well. Now we have to focus all our resources on getting the result we need to secure fifth place in the championship."


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Fittipaldi: NASCAR is the best   Christian Fittipaldi has made his living in open-wheel racing. But Fittipaldi, now on the Petty Enterprises payroll, says nothing compares with driving on the Winston Cup stock car circuit.

The nephew of open-wheel legend Emerson Fittipaldi, Christian drove eight seasons in the CART IndyCar series, where he won twice, and three seasons on the Formula One circuit.

"In America, NASCAR is the best racing organization there is," Fittipaldi said. "If you are going to race in America and want to race against the best, then you need to be in NASCAR and the Winston Cup Series.

"It's the toughest and most challenging racing series there is. It also continues to be the fastest- growing and most popular series there is. Coming from CART, they are almost in survival mode over there. In NASCAR, it's almost the opposite."

Fittipaldi, a 32-year-old who was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, has started 14 Winston Cup races this season. He ranks 44th in the standings, and his best finish was a 24th in the Pennsylvania 500.

And that brings up the obvious question about the difference between driving an open-wheel car and a stock car.

"Besides all the obvious answers, some people might not realize that Winston Cup races are a lot longer than most other series races," he said. "In CART or Formula One, we were only racing for maybe 2 ½ hours at the most. In Winston Cup racing, we are out there for three or four hours.

"The cars get very hot. In open- wheel racing you are not confined to a close space. Even in a (NASCAR) night race, the cars get pretty hot inside. It's not as bad, but with the heavy fire suits and the helmet, it's tough to get cool air inside the car and into your body. By the end of the night you're all sweat."  Rocky Mountain News


Forbes: NASCAR pulls into prime time   Excerpt: But as NASCAR's value to both broadcasters and advertisers grows, it loses the very characteristic that originally made the sport so appealing to them: relative affordability. For years, the media saw NASCAR as an inexpensive way to land the valuable but elusive young male demographic, while the cost of broadcasting rights to other sports continue to spiral upward. NASCAR is now in the third year of its $2.4 billion, six-year contract with General Electric-owned NBC and AOL Time Warner's TNT, which together air half of the season, and News Corp.'s Fox and F/X networks, which air the rest. That's a lot of money, but it pales in comparison to the $18 billion that the National Football League scored in its eight-year TV deal, which expires in 2005. NBC and TNT say that NASCAR's ratings jumped 59% over the 2000-2002 period, and that the numbers continue to grow this year. With such televised success, the broadcasting bidding war that will take place three years from now is bound to escalate sharply . . . Traditionally, NASCAR races have been Sunday afternoon television fare for fans, but as the sport grows in popularity, and as that popularity has become more widely recognized by the media, it looks as if NASCAR might someday be as much of a network sports fixture as the NFL. An NBC spokesman says that in 2003, NASCAR will have had seven out its 38 races broadcast in prime time, and that next year there will be at least eight prime-time races. Forbes


Richard Petty sees a change   Below is a quote from Tuesday's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED Channel from seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Richard Petty. Petty on the biggest change he has witnessed in NASCAR over the years: "Once we get on the race track, it's gotten so technical. The cars are so close that you have to depend on gas mileage or you gotta depend on position on the race track on a pit stop in order to get yourself in a good position. Back in the good old days, if you had a fast car and you got behind, you just run hard and you caught up. I think it was more plain, raw racing than what you see today. You go to Daytona or Talladega and they throw the green flag and 43 cars all run together. That's not racing to me. They might pass each other, but they get in the wrong line and a bunch of people come back by 'em. Racing is where you run up there and beat on someone, and you get by them and then you go onto the next guy. That's what racing is all about. To me, the complexity of racing is so much different than what I grew up in -- not saying it's wrong -- I'm just saying that's the big change I see."

Industry News

Dean Thompson, 53, Died; Sprint Car Racer Won Three Titles   Dean Thompson, one of Southern California's most popular and successful sprint car drivers, died Tuesday of a ruptured aneurysm at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance. He was 53.

Industry News

Lighting of California Speedway to begin   The lighting of California Speedway in anticipation of next year's "Finish Under The Lights" Pop Secret 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race on September 5th will commence on Monday, October 13th, speedway President Bill Miller announced today. The tentative construction schedule by Musco Lighting will begin with the construction of pole foundations around the exterior of the speedway's two-mile oval and quarter-mile Street Legal Drag Strip, California Dragway, from October 13-November 14. The next phase of the project, beginning November 17, is for the installation of pole foundations in the infield portion of the speedway. According to Musco Project Manager Mark Flesner, other phases on the road to completing the lighting project include: installation of pit road poles and lights; installation of oval perimeter poles and lights; installation of drag strip poles and lights; installation of grandstand poles and lights; installation of infield lights, with a projected completion of the project in the Summer of 2004. Season ticket packages for 2004 are on sale now, featuring the Ultimate Season Package, the NASCAR Six Pack and the Pick Your NASCAR Weekend packages. For purchasing and event information, log on to or call 1-800-PITSHOP


Ward out of #22, Wimmer in   Scott Wimmer, the current Busch Series driver for Bill Davis Racing, will make the move to NASCAR's premier series effective October 20, 2003 and compete in the final four races of the 2003 season before becoming the full time driver of the #22 Caterpillar sponsored entry in 2004 and beyond. It is a natural progression for Wimmer into the Winston Cup Series. Wimmer, a native of Wausau, Wis., began racing three-wheelers at age eight and progressed to racing stock cars by the time he was 15. He raced around the state of Wisconsin racking up accolades at all the local short tracks, ranging from rookie of the year at State Park Speedway to Driver of Tomorrow at State Park Speedway to the Miller Triple Crown Champion. Wimmer then moved to Hooter's Cup in 1997, where he won rookie of the year before moving onto American Speed Association (ASA) in 2000. Wimmer is a logical fit for Caterpillar, as well as Bill Davis Racing. His family owns a construction company and they own and operate CAT equipment. Bill Davis Racing   Ward Burton and team owner Bill Davis reached an agreement Wednesday that will put BDR's Busch Series driver, Scott Wimmer, in the #22 CAT car at Atlanta Motor Speedway in two weeks. Burton will drive the car this weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway and the following weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Wimmer will be the driver of the #22 car for the rest of the 2003 season and full-time in 2004. Wimmer previously tested both a Chevrolet and a Dodge at Atlanta for the Oct. 26 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500. BDR has no current agreement with a manufacturer that would require it to run a certain body style.


English ASCAR team buying into NASCAR team   [Editor's Note: More fuel to the fire that NASCAR's stock car racing is starting to get worldwide attention.  Crowds are rising for ASCAR events in Europe.  This team will increase public awareness of NASCAR in Europe]  Leading Days of Thunder racing team Torquespeed UK/dsiAnyDoc have announced the sensational news that they will be racing on the US ovals as well as in the 2004 Days of Thunder at Rockingham. The team have also announced that dsiANYDOC boss Asa Burrows has taken over the major shareholding of Torquespeed UK []. In preparation for a full-blown assault in oval racing on both sides of the Atlantic in 2004, Torquespeed will join forces with a major NASCAR Winston Cup team to become the first British team to race in the world's leading saloon car championship. The NASCAR Winston Cup Series is the pinnacle of North American Stock Car Racing. The series will have a new title sponsor in 2004, when North American communications giant NexTel Communications take over the proud legacy of Winston. The 2004 NexTel Cup will be contested over 37 rounds and starts with the blue-riband event on the calendar, the Daytona 500 in February. Asa Burrows, Managing Director of Torquespeed UK's 2003 partners dsiAnyDoc, has purchased a major shareholding in Torquespeed UK Limited and joins the board as Commercial Director. Burrows acquired the controlling interest in the NASCAR team in his first major decision since taking over the role. The launch will be announced officially at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10. "I am very excited about the global future of Torquespeed," said Burrows. "We have some clearly defined plans for the future and a strategy that will ensure these plans are brought to fruition." Torquespeed Managing Director and Days of Thunder driver, John Mickel said: "I am delighted that Asa is now a formal figurehead within the company. He brings experience and new skills that will be of major benefit to the Torquespeed organization." (ASCAR Days of Thunder site)


Dale Jr. lends name to Volvo trucks   Greensboro-based Volvo Trucks North America's new model tractor-trailer trucks will be autographed by NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt will be autographing the new, limited-edition long-haul models of Volvo's VN670 and flagship VN780 trucks as they roll off the assembly line in Dublin, Va.   The limited-edition version of these trucks will come with either a Volvo VED12 or Cummins ISX engine, each of which produce up to 565 horsepower, as well as special features inside the cab like a refrigerator with freezer, compact disc player and deluxe speakers, power remote door locks and lots of chrome.  The Business Journal 


Ganassi Racing might move   Chip Ganassi Racing is considering moving its headquarters to Concord from Mooresville, Concord city officials announced Tuesday. The move would add to Concord's racing credentials, giving the city three of the largest NASCAR racing teams. Already, Winston Cup teams Roush Racing and Hendrick Motorsports have their headquarters in Concord. The city is also home to Lowe's Motor Speedway and a NASCAR research and development complex. Ganassi is looking at a 59-acre site at Poplar Tent and Derita roads adjacent to Concord Regional Airport. The land is large enough for expansion or for the company to sell off to related businesses, said City Manager Brian Hiatt. The company would invest $15.5 million and employ 150 initially. That could grow to 350 within five years, Hiatt said. In addition to a headquarters building, the company also would build an airport hangar at Concord Regional, a city-owned airport. Construction is expected to be finished in 2004, according to the city. In return, Concord is likely to dangle a total of $242,690 in grants over four years for real and personal property taxes. That follows the city's incentive policy for this size investment. The council will consider the incentives Oct. 20, and Padgett said he expects them to be approved. An official with Ganassi declined to comment. Charlotte Observer


Duracell to sponsor Surfers pitlane  Battery firm Duracell has agreed to sponsor the pit lane at this year’s Lexmark Indy 300 in Australia. Part of the Gillette group, Duracell has acquired the naming rights to the pit lane for the CART race staged between October 23-26. Said Lexmark Indy 300 general manager James Ashworth: “Gillette has been a wonderful partner of the Lexmark Indy 300 and we gratefully acknowledge its support of Queensland’s premier event. “We welcome the naming right’s sponsorship of Duracell for the pit lane which is always the center of racing activity over the four days.”


Earnhardt almost signed   Contrary to recent reports, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has signed no contractual agreement with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., a source close to DEI told Tuesday. The source said that, while the deal is nearly done, Earnhardt's "name is on no papers yet." Earlier this week, it was reported that Earnhardt had two meetings with Teresa Earnhardt -- DEI team owner and Junior's stepmother -- and that he had signed a five-year contract with DEI.


***Reader Question***What's up with RuSPORT?  A reader writes, Dear, I was under the assumption that RuSPORT & AJ Allmendinger were headed to CART either next year or the following year. I have heard in interviews that AJ wants to go to CART, not the IRL. But lately I've been seeing reports that RuSPORT is headed to the IRL. Is this true? I hope not. Thanks, Mark Gresock  Dear Mark, Carl Russo has maintained that he will race in either the IRL or CART.  We do know that RuSPORT has been talking to folks in the IRL, and we would not be surprised if one of the engine manufacturers is waving a lot of money at them to steal them away from CART.  Since CART has no engine manufacturers, they have no money to counter offer.  Absolutely AJ prefers CART and road racing, but he signed a contract with RuSPORT.  However, Carl Russo has indicated that he would not force anyone to do something they did not want to do, so we suspect he would release AJ from his contract to pursue road racing if that is what he prefers.  Our sources tell us Carl will run a Champ Car in 2004....but things can change.   We shall see.  Mark C.


NASCAR Preview in Daytona   NASCAR announced plans today for a new preseason fan-oriented event that will coincide with the annual NASCAR Preseason Thunder test sessions in January at Daytona International Speedway. "NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan-Fest at Daytona" will involve drivers from all three of NASCAR's national series' the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Those three series test Jan.6-22 at Daytona. All three series open the 2004 season at Daytona International Speedway in February. Combining the preview event with the other activities surrounding NASCAR Preseason Thunder will give fans more opportunities to enjoy NASCAR in the city where the sport was founded in 1948 in Daytona Beach. Fans will be able to watch their favorite teams test cars for the new season, see and interact with their favorite drivers, visit the Daytona USA attraction and tour Daytona International Speedway. In addition, the new event will continue to benefit multiple charities. NASCAR will release more details on the NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan-Fest at Daytona in the near future. NASCAR PR


NASCAR tops in marketing   NASCAR leads all major sports by a substantial margin when it comes to innovative and aggressive marketing, according to the 2003 League Report Card from Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal. NASCAR scored at least a 4 or 5 on the 5-point scale from 83 percent of the 195 sports marketing executives who filled out a 12-page survey that was mailed to 1,290 sports marketers nationwide. The score was slightly better than the 81 percent who gave the sanctioning body the same grades in the weekly magazine's initial survey in 1999. The National Football League ranked second this year, scoring a 4 or 5 from 59 percent of respondents. It was followed by minor league baseball (56 percent) and the NBA (51 percent) on the list of 16 organizations, which included all major professional sports and the NCAA. Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter


Final night race of year   The final night race of the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup season is scheduled to take place this Saturday as Lowe's Motor Speedway hosts the UAW-GM Quality 500. It will mark the first time this race is held under the lights and Ford drivers Elliott Sadler, Ricky Rudd and Todd Bodine gave their opinions about the change.  More.....


De Ferran career stats   This weekend's Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway will be the final race in Gil de Ferran's career. Not only has de Ferran amassed two CART Championships and an Indianapolis 500 win, but he also set the World Closed Course Speed Record at California Speedway with a lap of 241.428 mph while qualifying for the 2000 Marlboro 500. De Ferran has unquestionably left an indelible mark on the world of open-wheel racing as one of the greatest ambassadors of the sport.   With just one race to go in his career, following is a look at what the 35 year-old Brazilian has been able to accomplish in his nine full seasons of IndyCar racing:
* Back-to-Back CART Championships
(2000 and 2001)
* 1 Indianapolis 500 Win (2003)
* 159 career starts
* 11 race wins
* 20 poles (13%)
* 3 wins from the pole
* 49 top-three finishes (31%)
* 57 races led (36%)
* 96 top-ten finishes (60%)
* 2251 laps led
To pay tribute to the racing career of 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran, Brazilian-based Embraer, one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers, will provide de Ferran with a plane home to Ft. Lauderdale after the final race of his career. De Ferran and his family will be guests on the fitting "Embraer Legacy" aircraft as they leave Texas and the 35 year-old begins the next chapter in his life. 


IRL points battle one of best ever   With 15 of 16 races completed in the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series season, just 30 points separate the five drivers eligible for the series championship.  Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon are tied for the lead with 467 points. Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan is third with 460, followed by two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. at 448 and two-time CART champion Gil de Ferran at 437.  More.....

Industry News

South Florida Motorsports report now online  You can now find all of the latest news about racing in South Florida in one place! The South Florida Motorsports Report is the only show that covers all forms of racing in South Florida. From the pros to the amateurs the South Florida Motorsports Report is the only show to watch. Now with our Internet website you can log on whenever you want to learn about all that is happening in the area. Results from all of the events. Racing news with a South Florida emphasis. Schedules of upcoming events in the area. Previews of upcoming shows. Sign up to win tickets to upcoming events. Links to various professional and amateur racing series that appear in South Florida. Coming soon: The South Florida Motorsports Report store where you can purchase exclusive action videos and products. So log on the and get your fill of all the RACING ACTION in South Florida. The South Florida Motorsports Report can be seen at 12 noon on VibTV!
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F1 news briefs  Scottish F1 veteran DAVID COULTHARD will take a 'couple of weeks off' following the weekend's season-ending Japanese Grand Prix. 'I won't rest for long,' he said, 'before focusing again for what will be my tenth season in F1 in 2004.'

Ferrari tester FELIPE MASSA, who will almost certainly race a Ferrari-powered Sauber in 2003, completed the final pre-Suzuka test yesterday. The Brazilian tried some electronic solutions which will be used in the race and covered 15 laps in a F2003-GA car.

Mercedes-powered F1 team McLAREN has announced that 3D Systems, a world leader in rapid prototyping technology, has joined its portfolio of technology partners. The long-term agreement will see 3D's systems produce components from CAD models for wind tunnel and car build development work.

DAVID COULTHARD has wished young McLaren team-mate Kimi Raikkonen 'the best of luck' for the Japanese Grand Prix. Raikkonen, the Finn, is still in with a (slight) mathematical chance of beating Michael Schumacher to the ultimate prize of becoming world champion. 'It is going to be an interesting race,' said Coulthard, 32.


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Interview with Keith Wiggins  One of the longest standing teams in the Champ Car paddock dons the red, white and green colors of Herdez Competition. While the Herdez name might be new to Champ Car, the team has been in existence since 1986 in its previous form as Bettenhausen Racing. The team has undergone many changes over the past few years and one of the people who has aided in the growth and rebuilding of the team has been Keith Wiggins. Wiggins joined the team in 2000 after serving as President of Lola International, Inc. Wiggins weighed in on the impressive one, two finish by Herdez Competition drivers Mario Dominguez and Roberto Moreno in Miami, on the difficulty of taking over an existing team and on the decision to have Roberto Gonzalez drive for Herdez in Mexico City. More.....


***Reader Opinion***Engines are the key  A reader writes, Dear AR1, After reading the proxy statement released today regarding the CART buyout and taking it private, it seems that the “weird” decisions about engines was what sank CART.  When Honda and Toyota left, the money left. Without financing from manufacturers the series has no chance. It is a losing operation, without the slightest hope. This seems obvious to me (now), but should have been obvious to the board at the end of 2001 when Penske bolted. The stockholders should have been given the option to liquidate back then. Pook could have sold all the advertising on the cars, tracks and television. CART would still not have been profitable. I don’t see how it can ever be profitable without engine manufacturers who spend money in the series. Why is Open Wheel Racing Series paying even $0.56 per share?  Are they going to fund the series out of their own pockets just for the thrill of it?  I should have done my homework 18 months ago. The bottom-line is so simple: No manufacturer support, no profit, no series. Also, if the $31,825,000 in Team Assistance can be reduced to 2,000,000 in 2004, why was so much necessary in 2003? Paul Pension, Southland, California  Dear Paul, Now you understand why we made such a big deal about badging of the current Cosworth engines by multiple manufacturers.  Ford simply isn't spending the kind of money that Honda and Toyota were and the series is hurting financially because of it.  So yes, as long as they don't implement the badging concept, Open Wheel Racing Series LLC will be digging deep into their bank accounts to keep the series afloat, and they are willing to do that to a certain extent.  If they land the big (and we do mean big) series title sponsor we know they are courting, the series will get a very big shot in the arm from that, but at the end of the day, they still need manufacturer support, sooner rather than later.  We do know that they have discussed the badging concept with some manufacturers, but we don't believe they ever really pushed the concept.  We can't say for certain why the big drop in team assistance in 2004, but we suspect it's because many of the teams will be able to fund their own teams through sponsorship. Mark C.


New Molson Indy Director  Robert Singleton, VP/GM of Molson Sports & Entertainment announced that Steve Smith has accepted the role of Director of Operations Molson Sports and Entertainment effective Monday October 6, 2003. Mr. Smith's primary responsibility will be to run the day to day operations of the Molson Indy Toronto and Vancouver.


Malaysian Prime Minister squashes rumors  Malaysian PM Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad has moved to quash speculation that the Malaysian GP at Sepang International Circuit, and other major sporting events that he has initiated in the country, could be under threat after his retirement from office on October 31. Speaking about the F1 event, Dr Mahathir said: "It will go on. It doesn't make a difference whether I am still Prime Minister or not."  Autosport


Mika Salo meets with Bombardier Jet Train media tour  Champ Car driver Mika Salo (#27 PK Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was on hand in Miami today to address a group of South Florida decision makers about bridging the gap between America’s fastest road technology and America’s fastest rail technology. Coming off his recent podium finish in the Grand Prix Americas in downtown Miami, Salo spoke on behalf of Bombardier’s JetTrain, which is bidding to implement its high-speed passenger rail system through the Tampa-Orlando-Miami area.

Salo opened the media tour in South Florida as the lead speaker, explaining the similarities between the high speed passenger rail system and the 750hp turbocharged Champ Car he recently negotiated through Miami’s Bayfront Park. Salo then introduced Bombardier vice president Lecia Stewart who addressed the media regarding JetTrain technology and the high speed rail.

The Champ Car rookie claimed the third spot in Miami two weeks ago, moving up 12 spots on the day after starting 15th. Salo’s podium finish came in just his second Champ Car start, making him the first driver since Nigel Mansell in 1993 to earn a podium finish in one of his first two series starts. The run also gave the first-year PK Racing squad it’s first-ever podium, and marked its highest finish of the 2003 campaign.

Bombardier also serves as an official sponsor of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford as the series’ Preferred Private Aviation Solution through their Skyjet division.

Serving a diversified customer base around the world, Bombardier Transportation is the global leader in the rail equipment, manufacturing and servicing industry. Its wide range of products includes passenger rail vehicles and complete rail transportation systems. It also manufactures locomotives, freight cars, propulsion & controls and provides signaling equipment and systems. Bombardier Transportation has been involved in the development or manufacturing of most of the world's advanced technology and high speed passenger rail systems.


Another CART SEC filing  In addition to the SEC proxy statement that was filed this morning, another SEC form 13E3 Going Private form was filed today and can be viewed here.


Road America renews sponsor  Road America has renewed three sponsorships, according to George Bruggenthies, president and general manager. The companies are Ocala, Florida-based Emergency One, which provides the track with fire trucks; the Kohler Company, Kohler, Wisc., title sponsor of the Kohler/SCCA June Sprints®; and Safety-Kleen, which provides environmental products and services. Sponsorship terms were not disclosed. "We're delighted to renew our relationships with these companies," said Bruggenthies. "The racing industry is a great way to showcase products and services to loyal race fans. We're very pleased that these businesses will be a part of the 2004 racing season at Road America." Road America is selling season tickets for the 2004 race season for $250 until Dec. 15, when the price goes to $275. Season tickets are available at or by calling 1.800.365.7223 (RACE). Road America's 2004 spectator race dates are May 14-16, Sports Car Vintage Racing Assoc.; June 3-6, American Motorcyclist Assoc. Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader; June 17-20, Kohler/SCCA June Sprints®; July 15-18, Brian Redman International Challenge featuring Historic Grand Prix F-1 cars; Aug.5-8, Grand Prix at Road America featuring the Trans-Am Series for the BF Goodrich Cup (CART is yet to be finalized); Aug. 19-22, the Road America 500 featuring the American Le Mans Series, plus STRANA, the Super Truck Racing Assoc. of North America, racing 18-wheeler cabs; Sept. 17-19, the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival, with a tour of one of the original Elkhart Lake race circuits held on public roads.


Marco Andretti wins 2nd rung on CART ladder  Marco Andretti of Nazareth, Pa., clinched the 14-race Skip Barber 2.0- liter Formula Dodge Eastern Region championship during the season finale at Lime Rock Park after taking a flag-to-flag win over his two closest title contenders. The rookie’s victory in the first of two championship-deciding races this past weekend gave the 16-year-old son of Michael Andretti enough points to secure the title before Race Two on Saturday. Andretti crashed in the rain in the second race, but by then it was too late for Peter Ludwig of New Paltz, N.Y., and Tom Sands of New Canaan, Conn., who finished second and third in the championship.

Andretti won eight times in 14 starts, and finished on the podium five other times to finish with 239 points. Third-year man Ludwig (this year’s Most Improved Driver) scored six wins and 215 points, while Sands (same honor in 2002) scored three wins and 201 points.

“This was fantastic, a really great season. The instructors taught me so much, I really couldn’t have done any of this without them,” the youngster said, somewhat uncomfortable under the spotlight during the awards banquet Saturday evening as he learns what it feels like to be a rising star. Since the season- opener at Lime Rock Park in late April, either Dad Michael or Grandpa Mario made it to many of the race weekends, and Michael said, “I am extremely proud of the job Marco did in the very competitive Skip Barber Series. The experience Marco is getting is invaluable, and at the age of 16, he is already two years ahead of where I was at his age!” Mom Sandra was at the banquet with a huge smile and thanked “everybody at Skip Barber for helping make this happen.”

A multiple regional karting champion, Marco is formally climbing the CART-Champ Car Ladder System, having starred in the Stars of Tomorrow karting series last year and this. Jeff Andretti -- Michael’s brother, and the Eastern Region champion exactly 20 years ago -- has been Marco’s primary chaperone and advisor this year and told the Skip Barber Race Series organizers that “Marco is definitely entering the Formula Dodge National Championship (FDNC) Presented by RACER” in 2004, adding that Marco’s Eastern Region Skip Barber title “is a huge deal.” In a one-off to prepare for next year, Marco will compete in the 2003 FDNC season finale this weekend (Oct. 10-12) at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Notes: It was also revealed this weekend that IRL star Tony Kanaan and fellow Brazilian and F1 leading light Rubens Barrichello asked Marco to complete the three-man team that’s competing in a prestigious charity endurance karting event in Sao Paulo Nov. 8… Marco joins the growing list (going back 20+ years) of Andrettis -- Michael, John, Jeff and Adam -- whose fathers chose to send their kids to Skip Barber for race schooling and race series competition… There were a total of 19 Andretti-family members at the Eastern Region banquet Saturday night, most of whom had to leave immediately afterward to get home to help celebrate Michael Andretti’s 40-something birthday on Sunday.


ALMS Notes of interest  The sixth annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Oct. 15-18 will ring out the 2003 season for the American Le Mans Series in grand style. The second-longest race on the series schedule will begin at 11:30 a.m. (ET) and continue well into the night as teams race for 1,000 miles or 10 hours, whichever comes first, on the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit.

In only six years, the Petit Le Mans has become one of the world's most important sports car races and was an instant hit when ALMS Founder and Road Atlanta owner Don Panoz started the event in 1998 as a "petit" version of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  More....


Irish investors buy into Jordan team  A group of Irish investors have bought a 49.9 per cent stake in the Jordan team.  Clients of stockbrokers Merrion Capital have purchased the shareholding of investment bank Warburg Pincus, the team confirmed on Tuesday.   It is hoped the move will give Jordan the necessary funds to improve.  Eddie Jordan said: “I would firstly like to thank Warburg Pincus for their support over the past five years, during which time we won four races and finished third in the championship.  Looking ahead, I very much welcome my new partners to Jordan Grand Prix and I am very excited to have a stable platform to propel the team to even greater achievements and to proudly wave the Irish flag in Formula 1”.  John Conroy of Merrion Capital said: “The new investors are attracted by Jordan’s proven ability to win races in this most competitive of sports and by the vibrant, can-do culture of the Jordan brand and Eddie Jordan.”


NBC bullish on NASCAR ratings   NASCAR on NBC is ready for primetime this Saturday as the UAW-GM Quality 500 from Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte is run under the lights for the first time. The shift of races to primetime (the 2004 season adds a Sunday primetime race at California Speedway on Labor Day weekend) is only the most recent evidence of NASCAR’s continued growth.

“Primetime racing represents the continuing national acceptance of NASCAR as a mainstream sport,” said Ken Schanzer, President, NBC Sports. “NASCAR is America’s second-most popular sport. Its appearance in primetime with a regular season race is further testimony to the broadening appeal of NASCAR.”

NBC Analyst Benny Parsons: “The move to primetime is actually a throwback to NASCAR’s roots. Most of these guys grew up racing on short tracks on Saturday nights. It probably seems natural to them.”

Here are some numbers showing evidence of NASCAR's continued growth:

* Ratings on NBC & TNT are up again this season, even after 59 percent growth from 2000-02. NASCAR is the No. 2 television sport behind the NFL.

* The EA Sports 500 from Talladega on Sept. 28 delivered a record-breaking 5.5 national rating - the best number ever posted by an auto race up against pro football competition.

* The July 5 primetime Pepsi 400 from Daytona International Speedway was the fourth-most watched program among adults 18-49 on network television that week. Overall it was the seventh-most watched show and attracted 20 million viewers. NBC Sports Press Release


Helton tells Oregon track developer no-way   In a tersely-worded letter to developers of a $500 million speedway near Boardman, NASCAR President Michael Helton warned Racing Unlimited, developer of the proposed project, not to connect his organization with the raceway.

A copy of the letter also was faxed to the Tri-City Herald newsroom. It mentioned a recent story that labeled the project a "NASCAR-style speedway."

"Unfortunately, that article incorrectly leaves the impression that NASCAR is affiliated in some capacity with your organization and the speedway proposal," Helton wrote to Racing Unlimited.
"At this stage, it is critical that any interested parties understand that NASCAR has no affiliation with your company's proposal. ... and that NASCAR has made no commitments of any kind with respect to races at the track." Tri-City Herald


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An ex-Hockey Player, Paul Gentilozzi can be diplomatic in one breath and put you right in your place the next.  When he enters a room, he commands a presence.
Dan Boyd/LAT

Regarding the IRL, Gentilozzi tells it like it is  In last week's edition of National Speed Sport News, Paul Gentilozzi, one of the key players in the buyout of CART, spoke out about the IRL and the teams who left CART to go to the IRL.  In essence, he called a spade a spade - - Gentilozzi addressed recent remarks in Racer magazine where IRL President George called for the need to unify American open-wheel racing. Gentilozzi admitted that he has a cordial relationship with George, but threw cold water on the notion that OWRS is trying to acquire CART as a precursor to selling out to the IRL so that the League can cherry-pick selected road races.

"For two million bucks, I could have been an IRL team owner," Gentilozzi said. "This is going to cost me a lot more than two million bucks, but this is a better product. The guys who were here (Penske, Ganassi, Andretti, Nunn) that went there know this is a better product. They went there for a check. Every one of them has made contradictory statements, whether it's Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske or people at Andretti-Green. [For years] They bad-mouthed the IRL that they didn't want to go there. But it's amazing how you change your opinion when a manufacturer [Honda and Toyota] is waving green in your face. The IRL wants to be what we are, and the difficult thing is that we're not leaving.

"They have five good races and we have fifteen," he added. "In the end, everybody was willing to throw out the bathwater to get to Indy because that was supposed to be the race. Maybe it was, culturally, 10 years ago or 20 years ago. But slowly they've certainly lost some of their impact."

Other than guaranteeing a future for open-wheel road racing itself in North America, OWRS' attempt to save CART is good news for the road and street race promoters that rely on the Champ Car series for a significant portion of their business. Although the IRL has stated that it plans to add a limited number of road races in the future, the Indy Cars would require substantial modification for that to happen.

"Those venues would be gone and the circuits would fail and go bankrupt because they can't sell tickets," Gentilozzi said. "Tony can't go there with his cars. I'd be curious how they would do. If you really look at an IRL car, how are they going to stop it? They would need new uprights, new radiators and sidepods, all new front and rear suspension and gearbox work. There's no way you could do that for $140,000 [per car]. They want to be in Long Beach and Mexico City, but the grave isn't dug yet."


Mexico City Track Talk  The 16-turn, 2.786-mile permanent road course is a unique race track as Fernandez Racing Race Engineer Chris Finch notes: “Top speed on the front straight will be close to 200 mph followed by hard braking into a 72 mph first corner. Turn Six through Turn 13 is a combination of rights and lefts that keeps getting quicker with each subsequent corner. It is all about momentum and quick reaction through this section. The “Stadium” section, Turns 14 through 16, is similar to a street circuit with rough concrete and slow, 90-degree corners.

“Mexico City is at an altitude of 7500 feet and the barometric pressure is 23.00 to 23.5 in Hg – meaning thin air. In terms of setup, you will be required to have good mechanical grip because the low air density at altitude will rob the car of its downforce.”

Finch estimates top speeds of 198 mph with minimum cornering speeds around 54 mph. Drivers will shift 28 times per lap throughout the course of the 70-lap race. The maximum interval for pit stops is set at 19 laps, requiring a minimum of three stops.


Maia has successful test with RuSPORT, deserves Atlantic ride for 2004  As the Toyota engine fires up for the first time early Wednesday morning, tension is noticeably high. 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series champion Leo Maia prepares to take to the Sebring track and both he and the host RuSPORT Toyota Atlantic team are somewhat nervous.


For Leo, it would be his first time in the Atlantic car. For the RuSPORT guys, well like we said, it was Leo’s first time in an Atlantic car and anything could happen. However, as the test wound down on Thursday afternoon, both driver and team were much more relaxed, more confident and very satisfied with the results.

Over the two day test, Maia completed 400+ miles in the #3 RuSPORT Toyota Swift .014.a shod with Yokohama tires, which was driven successfully to a fifth place championship finish during the season by Aaron Justus. As the comfort and confidence level grew, the lap times came down quickly and began to close in on the team’s previous bests at Sebring with drivers A.J. Allmendinger and Justus a week before the Miami finale.

That’s when Allmendinger, fresh off his 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship and on-hand as an advisor only, began to voice his desire to get back in the car.

“The weather is much better now than we had last week,” the always competitive Allmendinger repeatedly stated with much volume. “There were no clouds when we ran and the sun was blistering the race track. It was at least 20 degrees warmer!”

When Maia surpassed the best time from two weeks earlier by Allmendinger, everyone thought the Toyota Atlantic champion was going to grab his helmet and jump into the car. If it were not for testing rules in place by the series, he might have done just that.

“All kidding aside, Leo did an awesome job in the car,” stated A.J. “I think everyone on the RuSPORT team was impressed by his abilities, both on and off the track. I like to give him a hard time but I am really happy for him to get this opportunity. While this was not a test for an actual ride, I remember how nerve-wracking it can be the first time you get into one of these cars.”

“So, I tried to lighten things up a little bit by giving him a little grief about not soiling his brand new yellow suit and other things like that,” Allmendinger concluded with a wry smile.

“Leo is absolutely ready to drive in the Toyota Atlantic Championship,” commented Burke Harrison, Allmendinger’s oft mentioned lead engineer who worked with Maia on the first day. “Once Leo quickly got used to the Atlantic car, he was really impressive with his ability to communicate back to the team and understand the changes we made on the car.”

“Over the last two days, Leo is showing what we have come to expect from drivers in the Champ Car (Driver Development) System,” said Barry Waddell, who heads up RuSPORT’s Driver Development. “His feedback was excellent. He was very methodical and disciplined in his approach to getting up to speed.”

Perhaps RuSPORT President Jeremy Dale sums up the two day test most appropriately and what the future holds for Maia.

“Simply put, Leo is ready for the Toyota Atlantic Championship,” declared Dale. “Someone needs to give him a chance for next year. With the right opportunity, he will be one of the drivers to beat in 2004 and that is saying a lot in such a competitive series.”  CART


Your name on the #7 FDR car  Building on the huge success of the fundraising event for World Childhood Foundation at the Grand Prix Americas in Miami, FDR team owners James Dingman and Emerson Fittipaldi are now taking their efforts one step further. Now, fans that make a tax deductible donation of $500 can see their name scream by on the # 7 FDR car during one of the final 3 races of the season. 100% of all donations will go directly to Childhood and its support of at-risk children in Brazil. James Dingman, in conjunction with World Childhood Foundation, a worldwide children's charity founded by H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden, organized a charity event called 'The Helmet Project' for the Grand Prix Americas and is now trying to expand the fundraising efforts by including fans as well as corporate sponsors.

World Childhood Foundation was founded in 1999 by H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden in an attempt to right injustices made to children around the world, especially girls and young mothers that have been victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. The mission of World Childhood Foundation is to defend the rights of the child to a secure childhood and, in particular, to work for better living conditions for children at risk all over the world. Childhood believes that every child has a right to a childhood. Everyone has the right to grow up and develop socially and intellectually. Today, many children are deprived of these fundamental rights. They are neglected, abandoned, abused and exploited. The Foundation currently supports projects in Brazil, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Russia as well as in Ecuador, Germany, Moldova, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine and the United States. For more information about World Childhood Foundation, please visit

FDR's 'The Helmet Project' was designed to bring aid and awareness to the plight of impoverished children around the world, but focused particularly on Childhood's Brazilian projects for children. The initiative was to give 1700 children the opportunity to enter a competition to design a driver's helmet. The winning design was made into three helmets, which are being auctioned to raise funds for the children's projects.

Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing's decision to expand the program to include fan participation as well as continued alliances with strategic corporate partners is designed to generate even more excitement for this charitable project.

For more information on donating funds to the project and getting your name on the car, please contact: or Trish Donovan at


Vasser wants to end career as a Champ Car driver  This LA Times article says that Championship Auto Racing Teams, or CART, might be riding to its final roundup Nov. 2 at California Speedway, but durable Jimmy Vasser, one of its champions, is looking forward to being there. And he wants to be in on whatever direction new ownership takes the troubled open-wheel racing series in the future. "I've dabbled around in a lot of things this year, even took a long look at NASCAR, trying to sort out what I want to do," Vasser said. "The more I thought about it, despite all the negative talk, I decided I wanted to finish my career as a Champ Car driver." More....(Requires registration)


Kansas overnight TV ratings   Sunday's running of the Banquet 400 on NBC garnered overnights of a 4.0 rating and 8 share, according to Nielsen Media Research as reported by Sports Business Daily. This is up 3 percent over last year's 3.9 overnight. Last year's race finished with a 4.4 final rating. Sunday's pre-race show turned in overnights of a 2.8 rating and 7 share.


NASCAR looking to change scoring system   NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said the sanctioning body has been looking at ways to upgrade its scoring system after the current system came under question on the last lap of Saturday's Mr. Goodcents 300 Busch Series race. The race was restarted with one lap to go, but a crash between Bobby Hamilton Jr. and Greg Biffle forced NASCAR to throw the caution. Under rules implemented two weeks ago, cars don't race back to the yellow, even on the last lap. But several drivers, including race winner David Green, raced to the yellow and checkered flags anyway. That meant the results on NASCAR's scoring computer -- which records where the cars are at the finish line -- were incorrect. The new rules dictate the cars being scored exactly when the yellow flag comes out. That's the problem. Hunter said NASCAR knew it was going to be difficult to score the cars "because we cannot freeze the cars at the exact moment that the yellow is displayed. We're simply telling all those competitors that we're looking for a better system," Hunter said. Hunter said NASCAR is considering two systems. The first will use electronic lines under the racetrack, just like the one currently at the start-finish line, in quadrants around the track. The second is an effective global positioning satellite system that would freeze the field when the caution is waved. NASCAR has a GPS system, but Hunter said exact positions can't be determined. Asked when either of the new systems could come online, Hunter said. "I think next year is realistic," and "possibly" by Daytona. Hunter also said NASCAR would not reconsider its decision to allow racing back to the yellow, even on the last lap.


NASCAR has global dreams   Those of you who have been readers of AR1 for awhile now will know that we predict the War of the Worlds (an article by Mark Cipolloni) has yet to be fought between the oval track cartel and the road racing cartel.  Many scoffed at the notion that NASCAR might have their eyes on conquering the global market, something F1 has a stranglehold on now.  This Sun-Sentinel article by Ed Hinton sheds more light on NASCAR's global aspirations.  This just solidifies in our mind that a major strategic error was made by Bernie Ecclestone not buying into CART and bringing CART and F1 closer together to solidify road racing's base in North America and around the world.  Open wheel's long-term future is certainly at risk in our opinion.


Trading on CART stock halted  All trading on CART stock (MPH) on the NY Stock Exchange was halted today.  Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) today reported that it has received formal notification from the New York Stock Exchange that the Company had fallen below the NYSE continued listing criteria as the Company's average market capitalization is less than $15 million over a 30 trading-day period and the average closing price of its security is less than $1.00 over a consecutive 30-trading-day period.

In order to enhance information available to investors, the NYSE makes available on the consolidated tape an indicator, ".BC," if a company is below the NYSE's quantitative continued listing standards. This indicator will be transmitted with the Company's symbol on and after October 7, 2003.

The Company must notify the NYSE on or prior to October 14, 2003 of its plan to cure the deficiencies or be subject to suspension and delisting procedures. If the Company does not submit a plan that is found acceptable by the NYSE, or the Company cannot affirm an intent to cure, the Company will be subject to immediate suspension by the NYSE and delisting by the SEC, in which case the Company would pursue having its common stock quoted on the OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB). The Company does not expect to submit a plan nor does it expect to be able to affirm an intent to cure the deficiencies.


Drivers snub media in Kansas   NASCAR may be considering penalizing drivers who fail to meet media obligations following race events, said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president for corporate communications. Hunter said Sunday the sanctioning body will review the policies of other professional sports regarding media responsibilities of participants. His comments came after driver #9-Bill Elliott refused to attend a post-race news conference Sunday. Elliott finished second in Sunday's Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway. #42-Jamie McMurray, the rookie of the race, also failed to attend the post-race news conferences. Typically, the top-three finishers in each race, along with the highest-finishing rookie, are required to attend post-race media news conferences.


Jordan to run Motoyama on Friday  Japanese Formula Nippon championship leader Satoshi Motoyama will get his first run in an F1 car at the Japanese Grand Prix, when he runs in the Friday morning test session for Jordan. Motoyama won the Nippon title in 1998 and 2001, and currently leads this year's championship. "I would like to thank the Jordan Ford team for giving me a great opportunity to drive its third car at Suzuka," said Motoyama. "I have been dreaming of this chance for a long time. I have raced in Suzuka many times and I know the track very well, but it will be my first time driving an F1 car so I think it will be very different. It will be a big challenge for me, and I will do my best to show my driving skills in the limited time."


Tagliani on Wind Tunnel  Catch Alex Tagliani on Wind Tunnel Monday, October 6th at 9:00 p.m. on SPEED Channel. Tagliani, who is currently ninth in the Champ Car World Series championship with 91 points, will reflect on his experience with Paul Gentilozzi and the first year team, and the 2003 Champ Car competition. Forward your questions for the upcoming show to host, Dave Despain, at ( or ask it live by calling 1-866-W-Tunnel from 9:00 – 10:00 p.m.


Suzuka tidbits  This coming weekend the F1 circus moves to Suzuka, Japan for the season finale.  Built by Honda as a test circuit in 1962, Suzuka was designed by John Hugenholtz, a Dutchman who also produced Zandvoort and Jarama. The circuit is situated on the island of Honshu, which is also home to Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka, and is just one component of a giant amusement park and other facilities.

Suzuka itself has an 18-turn figure-of-eight course that is unique in F1. It begins with a fast 5th gear bend that tightens to lead into a series of fast S-bends. Spoon curve and the legendary 130R are the other great challenges on this popular driver’s circuit.

Overtaking is normally done into the slowest corner on the track, the 40mph Casio Triangle chicane at the end of the lap. More difficult passing moves can be performed into the 140mph First Corner and very occasionally at the Turn 11 Hairpin.

In 2002, the circuit was reduced in length, courtesy of some realigning of several key corners to provide greater run-off areas. Retaining walls were also moved back and the track slightly altered at the S-Curves and Dunlop Curves. For 2003, this program of modernization and reprofiling has continued with 130R, tweaked into a two-radii sweeper to provide a faster and more fluent corner and an earlier turn-in. More changes come at the revised Casino Triangle chicane, which is now more open than before. These alterations have cut a further 14 meters from last year’s lap, but it is unclear how much that will affect overall lap times.


Latest F1 Hot News Items 

Champion Axed By BAR-Honda
Williams Won't Spoil Drivers' Duel
Villeneuve: F1 Needs Characters
New Developments For Williams Car
Williams Praise Pizzonia Return
Villeneuve Will Drive In Japan
Jacques Aims Parting Shot at Honda
Williams: Focus Switched To Constructors'
BAR Confirm 'Suzuka Special' Engine
Friday Qualifying, Testing, Scrapped
Montoya Would Be A Better Champion: JYS
Canada Battles On To Save Big Race
Schu Sure There'll Be No Funny Business
Renault: No Truth In Alonso-Ferrari Rumor
Webber: Eyes Wide Open For 'Tough' 2004
Toyota Lose Key Sponsor
Schumacher Will Retire In 2006

  Much on 2002 archives button below

Hot News Archives

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