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DATE

News (chronologically)

10/17/03
SPEED World Challenge

Pobst gives Audi first win  Randy Pobst (Gainesville, GA) rocketed to the front at the start of Friday’s SPEED World Challenge GT Championship race at Road Atlanta, and held out for his first win of the season and the first win for the new Audi RS 6. Pobst also captured the Championship point lead with the race win, part of the Petit Le Mans weekend.

Driving the #2 Champion Racing entry, Pobst took advantage of a dry line from his second starting position and sped away at the start from polesitter Mike Fitzgerald who was driving a Porsche 911.

“Our pleasure is BMW’s pain. They had a rough day and we had a great day,” Pobst said after taking his seventh-career win and first since 2002. “This team has been thrashing all year, really pulling rabbits out of the hat and putting out fires just to keep the cars on the track with the busy schedule. But to finally pull down a win is a wonderful feeling and a tribute to the hard work of the Champion Audi guys.”

Michael Galati (N. Olmstead, OH) made a great jump on the standing start, moving into second from sixth position, but slid wide in turn one and allowed Fitzgerald to take over second. Nonetheless, Galati reached the podium for the second time in three races. He also received the Remus Power Move of the Race for his move at the start, going from sixth on the grid into second.

“We’ve been having a difficult season with little problems with the car here and there,” Galati said. “I keep telling the guys to never give up, that the race doesn’t end until the checkered flag, and they’ve gotten a lot of things straightened out. Now we’re in a good position to win the Manufacturers’ Championship, and Randy has a chance to be the Champion.”

10/17/03

Brack's condition upgraded  Injured driver Kenny Brack's condition has been upgraded to satisfactory Friday at Parkland Memorial Hospital, said Dr. Henry Bock, medical director for the Indy Racing League.

Brack, driver of the No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Honda Dallara, was injured in Sunday's Chevy 500
IRL IndyCar Series race at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Brack remains in the intensive care unit at Parkland Hospital with injuries that included a fractured right femur, a fractured sternum and lumbar vertebrae and fractures to both ankles.  Brack had surgery on Sunday and Monday nights to repair the damage.

"Kenny was funny and telling us jokes today," said Anita Brack, Kenny's wife. "He was frustrated by many of the tubes in him after the surgeries. But he was back to being the same Kenny and giving the nurses and everyone a bad time. It was big lift for me to see him that way. Of course, he was typical Kenny and asking lots of questions - about the race, his injuries and the medical equipment. But I like that. It shows he is returning to his normal self."

Anita Brack said her husband was even telling jokes to his Team Rahal members.

"He told the team he would have the Texas race report next week for them," said a smiling Anita Brack. "He told them he was a little busy this week to work on it."

Brack is expected to remain at Parkland Memorial Hospital for several more days and will eventually be transferred to Indianapolis to begin rehabilitation for his injuries.

"Actually the doctors here have started Kenny working on moving his arms and legs," said Anita
Brack. "So the rehab is beginning already. We are continuing to pray for Kenny's recovery and we hope the racing community and fans can do the same. We thank everyone for their support." he hospital's help this week."

10/17/03

Werner takes Petit LeMans pole   Marco Werner, driving the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8, won the pole Friday for Saturday's American Le Mans Series Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Werner and co-driver Frank Biela, both of Germany, can win the American Le Mans Series driving championship for the LMP 900 class by finishing sixth or better in their class in the 1,000-mile sports car endurance race. Werner's lap time of 1:11.738 beat the 1:12.450 posted by James Weaver in the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-MG, a time which earned the outside pole overall as well as the LMP 675 class pole. Weaver will co-drive with Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace.

Although Prototype qualifying was held on a drying track, GTS and GT cars qualified on a track that was wet from a rain shower that started only a few minutes before the 2:20 p.m. start of the session.

David Brabham won the GTS class pole in the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello that he will co-drive with Jan Magnussen and Anthony Davidson. Brabham turned a lap of 1:26.338.

Sascha Maassen won the GT class pole with a lap of 1:29.391 in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS that he will share with Lucas Luhr.

10/17/03

Kahne: Worth fighting for  This Ford Racing article talks about the contract Ford has with Kasey Kahne and all the rumors he may drive for someone else.

10/17/03
ETCC

SPEED to air Zanardi race  SPEED Channel is airing the full 2003 FIA European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) in order this winter, with a replay of this weekend's race featuring the return of racing great Alex Zanardi scheduled for Dec. 27 at 6 p.m. and 3 a.m.

10/17/03
F3000

Will there be a F3000 series next year?  UPDATE This Autosport article says that if there is a F3000 series next year, the races might run on Sunday mornings to fill the void for the fans.

2004 Formula 3000 calendar
25 April Imola
9 May Barcelona
23 May Monaco
30 May Nürburgring
4 July Silverstone
11 July Magny-Cours
25 July Hockenheim
15 August Budapest
29 August Spa-Francorchamps
12 September Monza

10/17/03 - This Grandprix.com article says, There are fears that there will not be a sufficient number of entries next year to warrant an International Formula 3000 Championship. The F3000 Sporting Regulations state that an event may be cancelled if fewer than 12 cars are available for it and thus if the entry sinks that low the entire championship must be considered to be in jeopardy. This year there were nine regular competitors although not all were able to field cars in every race and on occasion the entry dropped as low as 13 cars. Of the official entries Brand Motorsport and Den Bla Avis both pulled out completely while Astromega and ISR Charouz was forced to single cars on occasion. There are also doubts about the future of Enrique Scalabroni's BCN F3000 operation.

"At the start of the season we had 20 cars in International F3000, around 25 in the Nissan World Series, about 18 in Formula Renault V6 and about 15 in Euro 3000," said Astromega team boss Mikke Van Hool . "You have just too many cars for the available driver/sponsor market. All these championships can claim to be a good place from which a driver can try to get in F1." [Editor's Note: there was a rumor that Brand was eyeing the CART series.]

10/17/03

IRL revisits Brack's crash  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, For Brian Barnhart to "politicize" Brack's survival is a moral outrage. To suggest that Brack was saved by the Dallara Chassis is utter nonsense and shows the level of depravity that the IRL will stoop to to justify its existence.  Brack's survival was pure "luck", to suggest anything else is sleazy and tacky. But that is what I have come to expect from IRL. Tony George never even acknowledged Brack during the post race histrionics. Mordichai (Mortified) Rosen, LA, California  10/17/03 - This Indy Star article says, That race driver Kenny Brack survived last weekend's crash at Texas Motor Speedway seems more like a miracle every day.

The Indy Racing League confirmed Thursday that Brack's impact with a backstretch gate post registered just under 200 Gs, a figure nearly twice what officials have seen in other violent crashes.

"That's an incredible number," IRL senior vice president Brian Barnhart said. "That gate post didn't give, and that's what exploded the car. It was like a bomb going off."

Barnhart noted that the Dallara tub stayed together as designed and the extraneous pieces flew off to dissipate energy as intended. The combination of events likely limited Brack's injuries to fractures, a concussion and a facial wound.

Brack is recovering from spinal surgery at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. He also fractured his sternum, right femur and both ankles. He is expected to be transported to Indianapolis next week to begin rehabilitation.

While Barnhart wishes track officials had chosen a different fence design, he has no complaints with the job the barrier did. Despite the nose of Brack's car hitting 15 feet up the fence, most of the debris stayed on the racetrack while the rest dropped in the buffer zone between the wall and the elevated (and unoccupied) grandstand. [Editor's Note: why are the fence posts on trackside instead of the outside where they belong?]

10/17/03

ALMS and Speed World Challenge joint operating agreement   [Editor's Note: This is a similar plan that you will see announced between CART, Trans-Am and Formula BMW we hear]  A landmark joint operating agreement for the betterment of road racing in North America was announced today by the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and SCCA Pro Racing Ltd.

The agreement was announced by Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series, and Steve Johnson, President and CEO of SCCA Pro Racing. The American Le Mans Series is sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), while SCCA Pro Racing conducts the Speed World Challenge Series.

"This joint operating agreement is a landmark combining of efforts," said Atherton. "It is all in the name of providing a more successful and robust road racing platform for manufacturers, privateers, sponsors, tracks and, most importantly, fans.

"We are going to look at each organization's core competencies and exploit them to the full benefit of the collective, combined effort to develop the brand of road racing in North America," said Atherton. "We will seek out and take advantage of every opportunity to assist and grow each series."

"Joining forces into one cohesive effort is a logical path for us in our effort to create not only the best road racing show, but the best road racing value," said Johnson. "The success and strength of North American road racing is contingent on relationships such as this one, and a joint effort between the strongest, most stable sanctioning bodies and series will only enhance our events and products."

Effective with the 2004 season, the American Le Mans Series and the Speed World Challenge will have a common schedule of race weekends. In addition, the two organizations will jointly apply their shared best practices to scheduling, track, pit and paddock administration, race control, safety teams and procedures and other administrative and operational elements of a race weekend.

The operating agreement will also include the sharing of marketing opportunities, including the ALMS and SCCA Pro combining efforts with the growing import-tuner motorsports scene and sharing existing relationships with Slipstream Global Marketing, a leading agency that administrates import-tuner activities at race tracks.

There will also be the establishment of an ALMS section in "Sports Car Magazine," a publication that reaches 65,000 SCCA members and the linking of websites for the two organizations.

"This could be compared to a joint operating agreement between two airlines," said Atherton. "We will share assets and practices to make each other more efficient, and we feel that this combination of efforts will result in the finest road racing weekends in the world."

10/17/03

ALMS announces final schedule   A new event at historic Lime Rock Park and returns to Portland International Raceway and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course are part of a nine-race schedule announced today for the sixth season of the American Le Mans Series in 2004.

The series will also have a new location for its season-ending event as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., moves its annual American Le Mans Series event into October to become the season finale.

The professional sports car racing series will hold its first-ever event in the Northeastern United States with an Independence Day weekend event at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Ct. And after a two-year absence, the series will return to the Pacific Northwest with a July event at Portland.

In addition, the series' presence in the Midwest will be strengthened with a return to Mid-Ohio, located in Lexington, Ohio, after a one-year absence.

"When you think of classic road racing venues in North America, Lime Rock Park certainly belongs on that list," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "Many of our fans have asked us when we would race at Lime Rock, and we're very happy now to be working with Skip Barber and his staff to bring the American Le Mans Series there next year.

"Racing in the Northeast is also very important to the manufacturers and sponsors involved in the American Le Mans Series," said Atherton. "The Northeast corridor represents some of the highest sales areas for Audi, Porsche, Corvette, BMW and some of the other types of cars that race in our series. We certainly look forward to enjoying a holiday weekend at Lime Rock.

"We are also delighted to be returning to Portland and Mid-Ohio," said Atherton. "Those events allow us to reach two important market areas of the country that are also home to two of the best road racing facilities in North America and some great fans of sports car racing. Mike Nealy of Portland and Michelle Trueman-Gajoch at Mid-Ohio are two of the most experienced road racing promoters in the business. We are looking forward to working with them to build their ALMS weekends into benchmark events."

The 2004 American Le Mans Series Schedule of Events
Mar. 15-20 - Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, 12 hours
June 25-27 - Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, OH, 2:45
July 2-5 - Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, CT, 2:45
July 16-18 - Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, CA, 2:45
July 23-25 - Portland (OR) International Raceway, 2:45
Aug. 6-8 - Mosport International Raceway, Bowmanville, ON, Can., 2:45
Aug. 20-22 - Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI, 2:45.
Sept. 22-25 - Road Atlanta, Braselton, GA, Petit Le Mans, 1,000 miles or 10 hours
Oct. 14-16 - Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, CA, 4:00

10/17/03

More on Bahrain race  This Channel News Asia article has some interesting information about the upcoming Bahrain GP.  Up to now, 52-percent of the work has been completed at the desert site including work on the media centre, restaurants and surroundings - however, the surface of the track is not finished yet.  "The surface of the tracks is one of the last stages in the construction of the circuit and it will be completed in six weeks", said Hans Geist, the track's executive director who worked on the Austrian Grand Prix at the A1 Ring in Spielberg for eight years.

"The tracks will be ready by December."  The complex, with the 5.4km F1 circuit as its centerpiece, will also have a total of six tracks for other racing including dragsters which are very popular in the region.

The promotion of the event is being concentrated in the Gulf and the Middle East.  "We are basing our awareness campaign on the local region, the people in Europe are already aware of these type of events," said Sheikh Fawaz who claimed that tickets for the race will be the cheapest in the championship.

Bahrain is confident of attracting 70,000 people to the race.  Although that could prove a headache - the country's hotel capacity is just 13,500 rooms.

10/17/03

Jordan team ordered to pay big court costs  Formula 1 Jordan Grand Prix team has been ordered to pay £1million costs to foot the bill of its failed £150million High Court damages case brought against mobile phone company Vodafone.

10/17/03

Credit Suisse renews with Sauber The Sauber team announced today that the financial services company Credit Suisse, will again sponsor their cars for next season. "Our cooperation with this renowned financial services company has been highly important for the development of our team during the past three seasons," said team boss Peter Sauber. "We regard the continuation of the partnership as a sign of confidence, as well as a commitment to further improve our performance."

10/17/03

NASCAR 2004 Truck schedule  Craftsman Truck Series 2004 Schedule
Feb. 13: Florida Dodge Dealers 250, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Mar. 13: Atlanta 200, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Atlanta, Ga.
Apr. 17: Martinsville 250, Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, Va.
May 16: Ohio 250, Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, Mansfield, Ohio
May 21: Hardee's 200, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C.
June 4: MBNA America 200, Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del.
June 11: O'Reilly 400K, Texas Motor Speedway, Ft. Worth, Texas
June 19: O'Reilly 200, Memphis Motorsports Park, Memphis, Tenn.
June 26: GNC 200, Milwaukee Mile, Milwaukee, Wis.
July 3: O'Reilly Auto Parts 250, Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan.
July 10: Built Ford Tough 225 presented by Ford Dealers, Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Ky.
July 17: Missouri-Illinois Dodge Ram Tough 200, Gateway Int. Raceway, St. Louis, Mo.
July 31: Michigan 200, Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.
Aug. 6: Power Stroke Diesel 200, Indianapolis Raceway Park, Indianapolis, Ind.
Aug. 14: Toyota Tundra 200, Nashville Superspeedway, Nashville, Tenn.
Aug. 25: O'Reilly 200 presented by Valvoline Maxlife, Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn.
Sept. 9: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 200, Richmond Int. Raceway, Richmond, Va.
Sept. 18: New Hampshire 200, New Hampshire International Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
Sept. 25: Las Vegas 350, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nev.
Oct. 2: American Racing Wheels 200, California Speedway, Los Angeles, Ca.
Oct. 16 Silverado 350K, Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas
Oct. 23: Martinsville 200, Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, Va.
Nov. 5: Chevy Silverado 150, Phoenix International Raceway, Phoenix, Ariz.
Nov. 12: Darlington 200, Darlington Raceway, Darlington, S.C.
Nov. 19: Ford 200, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Miami, Fla.

10/17/03

Shocker: Bentley pulls out of LeMans   Bentley has confirmed that it will not return to the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, despite dominating this year's running of the round-the-clock French sportscar classic.  "Le Mans is part of our rich heritage and is very important to us," said Bentley chairman and CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen. "It has also helped us revive the unique spirit of Bentley and it has created a new motorsport heritage for the marque, but when we announced our return in November 2000 we always said this would be a three-year program.

"In the past three Le Mans we have been more successful than we could have dreamed, culminating in first and second places for the Bentley Speed 8 at this most famous of races this year.  I'm not saying we are leaving motorsport for good, and we will certainly continue to review our position," he added. "But being pragmatic, all our efforts need to be concentrated on the next phase of our regeneration, and our priority is delivering a new range of Bentleys to our rapidly expanding customer base."

10/17/03

Renault's RS24 will be more reliable Mission reliability for next year's Renault engine. "Reliability will be our number-one priority for next season," explains Léon Taillieu, project director for the RS24 engine.   "The reason behind our choice of this new architecture is that it will be less technically risky than its predecessor. We began working in March 2003, and the project spec focuses not only on the vital 700km reliability target, but also packaging, weight and power. The latter should come quite quickly."

The next engine born at Viry-Châtillon, the RS24, will use a narrower 'v' angle than its predecessor. "The decision was taken well before the outside world knew about it," explains Mark Smith. "We have been able to work closely with out colleagues in France from the very beginning of the project, and we won't suffer at all in terms of packaging or stiffness. We have had enough time to give the car characteristics that are at least as good as the 2003 car in these areas."

A mock-up of the 2004 engine arrived in Enstone a few weeks ago. The chassis designers were thus able to fine-tune the cooling demands of the engine, and take note of the mounting points. "In addition, we have worked to ensure this engine can use an identical air intake to last year's, in spite of the fact it is taller," reveals Léon Taillieu. "One of our aims was to not disrupt the aerodynamic efficiency of the new car."

Deadlines are coming thick and fast at Viry-Châtillon. "We tested the new cylinder head on an electrical dyno three weeks ago. This technology allows us to check all the moving parts of the engine without firing it up," explains Taillieu. "The following week, we conducted the first full test of the new cylinder head, although not using the definitive crankcase."

Last week, the RS24A growled into life for the first time on a thermal test bench. It was a major first step. Following this, key dates follow in quick succession: "Early in November, we will make our decision on the air intakes we will use," continues Léon Taillieu. "Six weeks later, the gearbox and RS24 will run together for the first time on the test bench. We expect to have achieved a solid level of reliability by this stage."  Renault F1 Team

10/17/03

20,000 tickets already sold for Bahrain 20,000 tickets have already been sold for the inaugural Bahrain GP in April.  85% have been bought by locals, 10% by people from surrounding countries.  "The fact that so many tickets have so far been sold is a clear indicator of the success of the race," said Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) chairman Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, at a press conference yesterday after a visit to the track, "and the benefits it would bring not only for Bahrain but the entire Gulf region.  We have recently conducted road shows in various Gulf countries as part of the regional ticket sale campaigns, which attracted a huge number of people.  The BIC will utilize the global network of Gulf Air's offices to sell tickets," he said, "giving F1 enthusiasts all over the world a better chance of purchasing a ticket.  It's anticipated that 100,000 spectators will attend the event.

10/17/03
Industry News

Ford profit picture improves  Ford Motor Co. sparked a rally in automotive stocks Thursday when it released profit figures that surpassed Wall Street's expectations and said it would end 2003 in better financial shape than it originally projected.   The Dearborn automaker still lost $25 million during the third quarter, but that was a lot better than the $200 million it was expected to lose.  Overall, Ford expects to earn $1.8 billion for the year.  The reasons: record profits at its lending arm, Ford Credit, and big-time cost-cutting in Europe and North America.

10/17/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items 

Davidson Is BAR's New 'Third' Driver
'Long Road To Go' For Canadian F1 Return
Indy Title Helps Champ Onto F1 Grid
F1's Vagabond Will Be Back In A Year
Bahrain Will Be Ready, Say GP Organizers
Rossi Turns Down Ferrari's F1 Test Offer
Panis Predicts Progress
Renault Aces Drive F1 Cars In Russia
Engine Rule Will Cut Costs, Says Director
BAR Make Important Contacts In China
Russia Still Making Plans For F1
Minardi Slams F1 Rule-Makers

10/17/03

NASCAR diversity program floundering  Bill Lester, the only African-American driver regularly competing in any of NASCAR's top three divisions, is out looking for a new ride. Lester has been driving on the Craftsman Truck Series in a #8 Dodge owned by Bobby Hamilton and sponsored through a diversity program funded by Dodge. But Dodge is dropping the diversity program and Hamilton isn't going to run the truck without a sponsor. Dodge spokesman Todd Goyer said the company started the diversity program three years ago with the hope that some other corporation would step in and pick up the program. That never happened, although in July, General Mills put Lester's picture on boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios. "We started with a two-year program and extended it for a year," Goyer said. "But the bottom line is that we can't carry the flag alone." Lester has been Dodge's minority driver for the past two seasons and has shown promise. He runs best on superspeedways and won the pole at Charlotte earlier this year. He's 13th in points heading into Saturday's race at Martinsville and has an average start of 13th and an average finish of 18th (usually 36 or so drivers are in Craftsman fields). Goyer said the failure of Dodge's diversity program shouldn't be blamed on Lester. "Bill certainly represented us well," Goyer said. While Lester said he's unsure where he'll be racing next year, NASCAR officials are certain he'll be back behind the wheel of a competitive truck. "I feel confident that Bill Lester will be competing again next year," said NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter. Lester said he's appreciative of what Dodge's program did for him but disappointed that other companies didn't follow Dodge's lead. "Everybody talks about diversity but very few step up and put their money where their mouth is," he said. "It's unfortunate that Dodge is dropping this program, but you can't fault their position. No one else came forward." Atlanta Journal-Constitution

10/16/03

Crowd Figures  This grandprix.com article says that Formula 1's problem this year has been filling the grandstands but the sport is still financially sound with the Formula One group continuing to rake in huge sums of money in TV right sales and race fees. In addition the trackside advertising and corporate hospitality business is ticking over nicely with Allsport Management in Geneva continuing to pick up large checks all along the way. This is in sharp contrast to CART's financial woes this year with the business losing piles of money as it tries to convert itself to the F1 model of funding. Despite the problems the series is certainly pulling in the people with a three-day attendance figure in Mexico City last weekend of 402,413, including a massive race day crowd of 221,011. In part this was due to the fact that there were six Mexicans racing in CART but also because ticket prices are kept reasonable. For most of the year F1 crowds have been down by around 10% over previous years although the events in Indianapolis and Japan bucked the trend. It is worth noting that while the Indy Racing League seems to be going from strength to strength in the United States, the attendance figures are still very low although this probably helped to save the series from a serious problem last weekend in Texas when Kenny Brack's car cartwheeled into the debris fencing and shattered the grandstand with wreckage. Thankfully the seats were all empty…

10/16/03

Dario Franchitti in Australia  Paul Gentilozzi told us in Mexico City that Dario Franchitti would be at the CART Surfers race next weekend.  We hear he is already in Australia hanging out with Michel Jourdain Jr. who is doing some Ford promo work.

10/16/03

Dyson team stays fast at night   The Dyson Racing Lola-MG remained the fastest car and a GTS class battle raged Thursday night as American Le Mans Series teams had two hours of night practice to prepare for Saturday’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. James Weaver, who will share the Dyson machine with Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace, turned a lap of 1:12.459 to lead the night practice session both overall and in the LMP 675 class. Second fastest overall and leading the LMP 900 class was the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 of Marco Werner and Frank Biela at 1:12.729. Johnny O’Connell, driving a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, blasted from fourth in the GTS class to first in the waning moments of the session by turning the fastest lap of 1:19.794. He will co-drive with Ron Fellows and Frank Freon. Leading the GT class was the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen with a time of 1:23.033. Official qualifying for the Petit Le Mans will be held Friday afternoon.

10/16/03

Petit LeMans update   The seesaw battle at the top of the time chart between Prototypes continued Thursday afternoon at Road Atlanta as Butch Leitzinger set the fast time in the second official practice session for Saturday’s American Le Mans Series Petit Le Mans. Leitzinger, driving the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-MG, turned the 2.54-mile circuit at a time of 1:12.782, beating the 1:13.120 posted by the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 of JJ Lehto. Leitzinger, James Weaver and Andy Wallace will share the Dyson machine, which has been battling back and forth with the Champion machine at the top of the time chart since yesterday’s unofficial practice. Lehto will co-drive with Johnny Herbert. In addition to being fastest overall, the Dyson car was also fastest in the LMP 675 class, while the Champion car led the LMP 900 class. The Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 of Frank Biela and Marco Werner was third overall and second in LMP 900, while fourth overall and third in P900 was the Panoz LMP01 of Olivier Beretta, Max Papis and David Saelens for JML Team Panoz. Second in LMP 675 and fifth overall was the Lola EX257-Judd of Jon Field, Duncan Dayton and Larry Connor, while the other Dyson Lola-MG of Chris Dyson, Didier de Radigues and Chad Block was third in P675 and sixth overall. Setting fast time of 1:19.607 in the GTS class was the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello of Tomas Enge, Peter Kox and Alain Menu. The car was repaired after being damaged in a crash in today’s morning practice session. The Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Frank Freon was second in the GTS class, followed by the other factory Corvette of Oliver Gavin, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim. The GT class fast time of 1:23.211 was set by the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen, with the Risi Competizione Ferrari 360 Modena of Ralf Kelleners and Anthony Lazzaro second. Third was the other Job Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas.

10/16/03

Pink slips at CART  UPDATE An anonymous tipster tells us between 11 and 19 CART employees got their pink slips today.  10/16/03 - Today was the last day on the job for CART's likeable Vice President of Communications, Adam Saal.  Adam came in with Chris Pook, and with Pook's departure rumored to be soon, this was not totally unexpected.  Saal is going to take some R&R for the next week but will ultimately be back in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Short-term plans call for him to get back in the day-to-day of his communications and promotions company Atomic Communications (Saal L.L.C.) that his wife Lana has carried for the last two years.

10/16/03

Toyota to sponsor truck race  Toyota Motor Sales USA and the Nashville Superspeedway, a Dover Motorsports Inc. facility, have reached a multi-year sponsorship agreement in which Toyota will become the racetrack's Official Vehicle and title sponsor of its NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. The "Toyota Tundra 200" race weekend is the first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event sponsored by Toyota.

10/16/03

Another Washington State city wants a track  Another Snohomish County city is having racetrack wishes and NASCAR dreams -- Monroe, WA. Monroe Mayor Donnetta Walser and two Snohomish County officials flew to Kansas City, Kan., a little more than a week ago to meet International Speedway Corp. officials at one of its racetracks, the Kansas Speedway. The Daytona Beach, Fla., corporation, one of the nation's leading motorsports promoters including NASCAR, is looking to build a "major sports facility" in the Northwest to add to the 13 others it runs around the country, ISC spokesman David Talley said. The nearest ISC racetrack to Snohomish County is California Speedway, near San Bernardino, CA. "We're in the very, very preliminary stages of trying to make something happen," Talley said. ISC is scouting racetrack locations in Washington as well as Oregon, he said. He could not comment on which locations, and said there is no specific timetable. Monroe is not the only Snohomish County city with a heightened interest in the search for a speedway location. Darrington city officials were set to meet with speedway representatives as part of a regional visit late last month, but on the day of the meeting Darrington leaders were notified that the visit was off. This time, instead of speedway officials visiting the county, local leaders went to them in Kansas. The possibility of an 85,000-seat, 1-mile NASCAR-sanctioned racetrack would be a "very large opportunity" for the area, he said. Mickey Beadle, president of International Productions Inc., which operates the Evergreen Speedway at the fairgrounds in Monroe, said he's eager to find out just how serious talk of a racetrack is. The Evergreen Speedway, which is entering into its 50th year of racing, is a 5/8-mile track and at its biggest events has held crowds of about 15,000. Beadle said International Speedway Corp. is probably shopping around for the best deal. According to promotional materials International Speedway Corp. provided to Darrington officials, the track could cost $150 million to build, employ 2,200 people, generate $87 million in annual revenues, and another $58 million in state and local taxes. Daily Herald

10/16/03
Industry News

Homestead banking  As can be seen from these photos, the variable banking at Homestead from 18 to 19 to 20 degrees is not even visible to the naked eye.  You need a long straight edge to see the difference.  It should not be be a real issue for the IRL underbodies.

10/16/03

Starwood Team Jensen announces sponsor renewal  Starwood Team Jensen confirms that PaySystems Corporation has renewed as feature sponsor of the #8 racecar in the 2004 CART Atlantic championship.

The deal is significant in the marketing and motorsport industries in Canada. This is now the largest race team sponsorship in Canada (in monetary terms), following the end of the hugely successful Player's racing program.

With this deal, there will be a continued Canadian team presence at popular CART races including the Molson Indy Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver (plus the U.S. and international races).

Jensen MotorSport - an industry leader in Canadian motorsport - competes as Starwood Team Jensen. The name is part of a brand program for sponsor Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Starwood is one of the world's largest hotel companies with well known brands including Westin, Sheraton, and W Hotels.

Montreal based Jensen is now the only Canadian team competing in the professional CART organization, running two racecars in the CART Toyota Atlantic series.

Team owner Eric Jensen states, "We are excited to renew our program with PaySystems. This deal is more proof that we are a recognized property in the Canadian and international marketing communities, and that a race team can be a viable commercial business beyond tobacco related issues".

Based in Montreal, PaySystems Corporation offers complete payment processing services to merchants around the world. PaySystems is a leader in the industry, and is among the fastest growing companies in Canada.

For details about this deal and Starwood Team Jensen, or comments about issues in the Canadian motorsport industry such as the disappearance of the Montreal Grand Prix; contact Eric Jensen by phone at (905) 987.7778

10/16/03

Work on Bahrain track picking up pace Work on Bahrain's Formula One racing track has gathered pace and is now running at full throttle.  Six months remain before the hosting of the world's first Grand Prix to be held in the desert.  General Organization for Youth and Sports president Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa said the track will be ready a month ahead of the April 4 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.  Eleven months have elapsed from the 16-month contract period, with work still ahead of schedule.  Shaikh Fawaz said weekly meetings are being held by the BIC members and Housing and Works Ministry officials on the status of construction on the circuit.  "We are quite confident that the circuit would be completed on time as progress had continued through this period non-stop - even during the Iraqi war," he remarked.

He said work on the buildings was almost complete. What remains now is the final touches and electrical and electronic fittings.  On the track, 98 per cent of the main earthworks have been completed and 40pc of the track construction is also ready.  The three-storey main grand stand, which covers an area of 20,000 square meters, is 68pc ready while work on 53pc of the pit buildings, which cover an area of 18,000sq m, has been finished.  The teams building is also almost ready, with 31pc of the work left.  Gulf Daily News

10/16/03

Davidson now BAR's #1 test driver With the promotion of Takuma Sato to a race seat next year, Anthony Davidson finds himself as BAR’s number one test driver with the prospect now of making an appearance on the Fridays before a grand prix. He said: "This is a dream come true. It is what we planned would happen and, although some people said we were stupid to stay at BAR as second test driver, we knew there was a chance for something like this. It is priceless to be able to learn all the tracks that are on the calendar and to be in the limelight for two hours on the Friday of grand prix practice."

10/16/03

$10 million to reinstate the Canadian GP Sources inside F-1 have told The Toronto Sun that the Montreal organizers will be expected to raise more than $10 million US to keep the event on the schedule.  That money -- $2 million per team -- will be paid to Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Jordan and BAR -- all of whom depend on tobacco advertising to support their race efforts.  Canadian GP promoter Normand Legault said he was encouraged by the news but warned it wasn't over.  "We'll pursue further discussions in the next couple of weeks with Formula One management in order to come up with a financial deal that will satisfy the teams affected by the anti-tobacco laws," Legault said in a statement. "Only with such a deal can we guarantee the staging of the Canadian Grand Prix next June."  But there is already one F-1 executive who is questioning why Canada should be allowed to "buy its way back into F-1.  McLaren boss Ron Dennis told Reuters news agency yesterday that legal problems could result because the Belgium F-1 race was let back into club only after it reversed its tobacco legislation. Dennis said Austria has lost its F-1 race for the same reason. To make room for the Montreal race, the San Marino Grand Prix will now be staged April 25, once again opening the European round of the season.

10/16/03

The last days of Chris Pook  This Autoweek article says [Excerpts], With 200,000-plus spectators and CART’s largest grid this season, Mexico City was alive. Trouble was, the excitement couldn’t shroud the preliminary proxy statement filed less than a week before in advance of CART’s proposed sale to Open Wheel Racing Series LLC. The precipitous financial decline described therein seems more painful when it is spelled out in black and white. The woe in the proxy statement might ultimately be blamed on Christopher R. Pook, the CEO given carte blanche 22 months ago after he was hired by CART’s directors. In Mexico, with his days as CEO quickly winding down, Pook was the target of a growing undercurrent of criticism. A few have called Pook’s term a disaster. What should we make of this revisionist movement?

What the proxy statement says is that CART burned $83 million in cash this season just to keep operating. At year-end, short of the sale, CART will have as little as $1.5 million in reserve. The huge drain is taken as a symbol of Pook’s failure.

In deciding what to make of this, one point should be foremost: While he couched his plan in corporate-friendly terms, Pook made no bones about his intent to draw down the cash to carry CART through tough times. Pook predicted the company would generate a profit in 2005 at the earliest. Yet last season, with the departure of longtime CART patrons Toyota, Honda and Fed-Ex (to name a few), it was a two- and possibly a three-year plan. As it turns out, the series was fortunate to make it through one season with what was once considered an impressive cash reserve.

The proxy statement cites three wounds leaving CART bleeding money. Two of them predate Pook’s tenure; the third was probably unavoidable if CART was to have a 2003 season at all. Television has been a cash drain. Under previous CEO Joe Heitzler, CART’s TV package took an ugly turn: Where ABC/ESPN once paid CART to broadcast races, CART now buys time on CBS and Speed, and pays for production. “Race promotion” was Heitzler’s legacy, too. Yet, partly to keep dates in important markets and partly because he’s a race promoter by trade, Pook expanded the number of events where CART promotes the races rather than taking a sanction fee. The cost of staging these races has exceeded revenue produced by $8.5 million.

Finally, there is money spent supporting teams. As the 2002 season wound to a close, a number of teams defected to the IRL. Pook channeled money to team owners, to the tune of $47 million this season. He finished with a full grid that met CART’s contractual guarantees to promoters and sponsors.

“We underestimated the depth of negative momentum,” he says. “Immediately after I was hired I paid a visit at Toyota [which had already given up on CART], whom I’d done business with for 26 years [as promoter of Long Beach]. Their immediate reaction was, ‘You’re at least a year too late. It can’t be saved.’

“From the business plan to the product, it was clear that this outfit could not work as a public company, except for those who reaped the windfall in the IPO,” he says.

Pook was there to take it private again. Remaining shareholders will get at least a little cash and a big tax write-off. And finally, Pook gave CART and its next owners one more chance to restore the glory.  Maybe no one should have expected more.

10/16/03

Tire suppliers set for 2004  Grand American Road Racing Association has announced that Hoosier will join Goodyear and Dunlop as an official tire supplier to the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series in 2004. Hoosier will supply tires for the SGS class that currently competes as Grand Sport I in the Grand-Am Cup Series. Goodyear will remain the supplier for the Daytona Prototypes class. Dunlop will continue supplying tires to the GT class that is expanding for 2004 with the inclusion of the GTS class and new GT specs.

10/16/03

***Reader Question***What's the solution to IRL's flying cars?  A reader writes, Dear AR1, You have come down very hard on the IRL for its high rate of injuries and all the destroyed machinery.  What's the solution short of shutting down the entire series?  Joe Santiago, Newark, NJ  Dear Joe, It's not only the drivers we are worried about.  As we have seen in a number of IRL crashes, the cars get airborne when wheels touch.  We saw how high Mario Andretti's car got at Indy.  If it wasn't for the catch fencing, which barely caught the car, who knows when it would have come down.  Our fear is that one of these days two open wheel cars going at over 200 MPH are going to get together at the right angle and launch a car clear over the fence and into a crowded grandstand.  We have seen wheels and other things kill fans, but when an entire car clears the fence, we may see hundreds of spectators killed in one fell swoop. That would be a severe blow to the sport we all love.  The solution, put fenders on the cars so when the wheels touch it doesn't lead to a big accident in all cases.  Stock cars regularly touch and get away with it.  However, if you put fenders on them, they are no longer open wheel cars.  We suppose one solution is to shut the series down as you suggest, or perhaps slow the cars down to a 160 MPH average so when a car launches it hopefully won't have enough energy to clear the catch fencing and land in the grandstands. Thankfully no one was sitting in the grandstands on the back straight at TMS last Sunday, because pieces of Brack's car could have killed someone.  That's how big of a hole it ripped in the fence. Mark C.

10/16/03

Taste of Indy day kicks off week-long Surfers festivities  The Lexmark Indy 300 may be a week away but fans have the opportunity to taste the action this Sunday at the annual Family Day being held in Duracell Pit Lane on the Gold Coast.

As the excitement builds towards Queensland's premier event, the Lexmark Indy 300 Family Day will provide a taste of the adrenaline-charged action for the local community, Indy fans and families from 11am to 2pm on Sunday (October 19, 2003).

Fans can meet V8 Supercar drivers David Besnard (Ford Performance Racing) and Paul Weel (Team Brock), while Champ Car drivers Darren Manning from England and Ryan Hunter-Reay (pictured right) from the United States will meet their many Gold Coast fans.

In addition to the driver visits, reigning Bartercard Miss Indy Lauren Lillie and a selection of national finalists for this year will add the glamour to the Family Day.

The international craze of extreme sports will also hit the Lexmark Indy 300 Family Day this Sunday with Metric Productions showcasing Freestyle Motocross and BMX Jumping.

Adding to the three hours of entertainment will be guided track tours; Time Zone racing games, a Queensland remote control car display, V8 Supercar Show Cars, the Lexmark Indy 300 Champ Car, the Holden Monaro official Acer Course Car, a Zorb display, Main Roads Indy traffic information, VB Wheelchanger competitions, slot car racing, Holden Performance Driving Centre displays, a mechanical surfboard, the Dreamworld Rug Rats, Network Ten celebrities and an outside broadcast by Sea FM's Bench Warmers, Ken and Dan.

The track tours will give fans a 'slow motion' understanding of the track including the highlights over the 13-year history, the strategies used by drivers in negotiating the tricky circuit and tips in spectating over the four days of Indy. The tours will be a gold coin donation to Surf Live Saving Queensland.

Duracell Pit Lane will be transformed into a breathtaking stage incorporating Metric Productions Freestyle Motocross Landing Truck and the newly completed huge portable BMX four pack.

The Freestyle Motocross display will see the Metric Productions 'pilots' jump through the air at distances over 80ft and as high as 50ft. These aerial gymnasts will fly high pushing themselves to the limit in a show that promises to leave crowds breathless.

Lexmark Indy 300 General Manager James Ashworth said the Lexmark Indy 300 Family Day will highlight many features that make Queensland's premier event on the Gold Coast so popular.

"We are getting close now and the Gold Coast is alight with Indy Fever. The Lexmark Indy 300 Family Day is a fantastic preview for what is to come next week," said Ashworth.

"There will be drivers, Bartercard Miss Indy girls, show cars, extreme sport entertainment, kid's activities and interactive competitions, featuring something for everyone."

The Lexmark Indy 300 Family Day is being held this Sunday October 19 from 11am to 2pm at Duracell Pit Lane on Macintosh Island. Free parking is available at the Southport Broadwater Carpark, with free shuttle buses traveling to the event from 10:45am.

This year's Lexmark Indy 300 will be held on the streets of Surfers Paradise from October 23-26, with early ticket sales indicating that the Event is set to attract a record crowd of more than 300,000.

Tickets for the Lexmark Indy 300 are available from Ticketek on phone 1300 303 103 or www.ticketek.com . For further information on the Lexmark Indy 300 visit www.indy.com.au

10/16/03

As costs rise, free engines in the IRL  John Menard told National Speed Sport News he continues to be a strong supporter of the IRL series and expects to remain a team owner for seasons to come. "Here I am," Menard said. "We're sixth on the grid with Vitor Meira and I'm ready to go racing on Sunday. My son got older and he's in the ARCA series and I've been going to a lot of his races, which is why I haven't been around here. The IRL has changed but I think it's improved. The interest is going up and the IRL is a lot more exciting than it was." As stronger, better funded teams from CART have moved over to the IRL, teams such as Menard and Hemelgarn Racing have had trouble keeping up the pace. "It's a tough deal, a tough thing that some of the guys that started the whole thing have been unable to compete," Menard said. "But shame on us for not being able to compete. The rising costs to run in the series have come with more input from the manufacturers as well. We aren't paying anything for the engines now and that's pretty good compared to the money I used to spend on building engines."

10/16/03

What Rusty Wallace thinks about IRL cars  NASCAR veteran Rusty Wallace was at Texas Motor Speedway last Sunday to support Team Penske in their quest for the IRL crown, which they ultimately lost.  He was asked if he would ever get in one of these cars (IRL IndyCars). "I wouldn't get out of an electric chair to get in one of those things," Wallace said to National Speed Sport News.  We guess he thinks his chances of survival in the electric chair are better than driving an IRL car.  We don't now if we should laugh or cry over that one.  After looking at yet another year of devastation to drivers and cars in the IRL, he might be right.  Never in all our years of following motorsports (since 1965) have we seen so many cars destroyed and drivers injured than we have seen in the IRL since it was formed in 1996.  While other journalists may sugarcoat the situation, morally we can't.  Those who came up with this concept of 100% throttle, wheel-to-wheel racing, on high-speed high-banked tracks, without fenders, must someday be held accountable for all the injuries that have befallen the drivers and cars that have been destroyed, but until such time as the drivers say enough is enough, and boycott, the destruction will go on.  They have a choice, and so far their decision has been to take the risk; it's what they get paid to do.  And the team owners who left CART to go to the IRL because of all the money that was waved in front of them are just as much to blame for putting their drivers in such a dangerous situation.  No one forced them to do it.  But when their drivers are rushed to the hospital with severe injuries, and yet another of their cars are destroyed in a violent wreck, don't expect any sympathy from us.  We wonder if watching Brack's accident on Sunday will change the minds of some.  Our prayers go out to all the drivers, we fear for their safety.

10/16/03

ISC willing to build smaller track  According to National Speed Sport News, International Speedway Corp. continues to search for appropriate track-building space in the Pacific Northwest and in greater New York City. ISC’s Lee Combs recently visited the Seattle area on an inspection tour. Reports—now that ISC has reduced its property requirement from 1,000 acres to 500 acres — indicate three northwestern sites are under consideration. One is in sleepy Darrington, a rural Snohomish County hamlet, population 1,300, not far from Seattle. The surprise facet of these searches — both in Washington State and metro New York — is that the customary 1.5-mile track is no longer a necessity as a smaller size track will now suffice, says ISC’s David Talley. ISC has been exploring New Jersey’s Meadowlands as a possible track site for three years. Latest reports, however, indicate interest in that site is waning.

10/16/03

Scenes from Petit LeMans Wednesday   

12 in dirt -- The #12 American Spirit Racing R&S MkIII-Lincoln Prototype driven had an off-track excursion during Wednesday's American Le Mans Series test session at Road Atlanta for Saturday's Petit Le Mans.

BMW1 -- BMW Team PTG is returning to American Le Mans Series competition in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Hans Stuck, Boris Said and Bill Auberlen will be driving the BMW M3 in the GT class, seeking to repeat their Petit Le Mans victory from 2001.

WALLACE 2 -- Andy Wallace set the fastest time of the day Wednesday as American Le Mans Series cars tested at Road Atlanta for Saturday's Petit Le Mans. Wallace drove the #16 Dyson Racing Lola-MG.

GT Battle -- A group of GT cars dices during Wednesday's American Le Mans Series test session at Road Atlanta for Saturday's Petit Le Mans.


A slide by the #1 Audi driven by Marco Werner at Road Atlanta during Wednesday's American Le Mans Series test session for Saturday's Petit Le Mans sports car race. The slide was the second incident of the day involving the car, which was damaged earlier when the car's other driver, Frank Biela, went off-course. (Please credit ALMS/Dan Boyd) .

10/16/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items 

F1 Title Contenders Come To Blows
Gascoyne Switches From Renault To Toyota
World Council Green-Lights F1 Changes
Da Matta Enjoyed Fight With World Champ
Rubens: Ferrari Didn't Get Worse In 2003
Canada Returns To 2004 F1 Calendar
Bell Is Renault's New Technical Director
2003 Season Was Good For Ferrari's Health
Indy Pleased With Canada's F1 Return
Schu Highlights Team Over Personal Triumph
BAR Boss Urges Sato To Raise F1 Game
Todt: The 'Pain' Of Winning For Ferrari
Alonso Rues Gascoyne's Defection
Wilson Still In Running, Says Jaguar Boss
Rossi Sees Future On Four Wheels, Not Two
Rubens Fends Off Mist To Conquer Japan

10/16/03

Who should be CART's next President?   3rd UPDATE The opinions keep rolling in.  At some point this item will become too large for the Hot News page.  10/15/03 - We have added some additional comments, marked as 10/14/04 - With Chris Pook reported to be stepping down when Open Wheel Racing Series LLC takes ownership, Mark Cipolloni asked the question who should be CART's next President in this article today.  He suggested Peter Ueberroth but asked for readers opinions.  Here are some of the responses received so far:

  • [Editor's Note: This is the 2nd letter from Mr. Skinner on this topic] Mark you had better give Peter a call.  I wonder if he and Pook know each other. The 84 Olympics was not limited to LA. Another part of the success generated by Peter was the wide range of locations. As I recall, there were several events in Long Beach. If we can say “Other than his many successes” the key to Peter is that he would come in with a “press” audience – adding tremendous credibility to the series – worldwide. Mario is much better reserved as a “promoter-PR-fixit-man”. Paul Newman loves the sport, but heading up the series is not his bag. He could do more to promote the series – but maybe (i.e. McDonald’s, Gentilozzi) already is doing a whole lot. Which leads me to wonder why Letterman hasn’t done more – but maybe CBS wouldn’t have been available without some Letterman behind the scenes help. Sometimes we just don’t see what “quiet” people do. And one last guy – Tommy Kendall – has shown he has some good business and racing smarts – not for president – buy maybe some position in setting direction. He is much more than simply an outspoken TV commentator! Congratulations on starting this thought provoking topic.  Jeff Skinner, Northridge, CA .

  • I nominate Jon Vannini for the position of next CART President. J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois

  • Ueberroth sounds great. It is wholly unimportant that CART’s new president be “knowledgeable about racing.” The ownership is knowledgeable about racing, so that base is covered. CART’s new president needs only a few qualities: 1) He (or she) must be well-known to the public. 2) He must be skilled in the art and science of making things happen. 3) He must be passionate. And 4) He must be relentless. The importance of qualities 2-4 is obvious, but many may ask “what does being well-known have to do w/ anything?” CART needs, more than anything, e-x-p-o-s-u-r-e. CART needs a leader who generates his own press resulting from his accomplishments, regardless of the arena. Precious few New Yorkers know who Bill France is, even fewer have ever heard of Tony George (hate to burst your bubble, Tony). I think Mario Andretti would make a great president for CART, (he would likely rather have a root-canal ‘sans’ anesthesia, and who could blame him) but not because of his racing background. Mario is passionate, relentless, and smart (no doubt one reason he and Paul Newman are so close). The ‘what’ of turning CART around is obvious and has been discussed ad infinitum on this and other forums. We just need somebody with the will and passion to DO IT! Get somebody well-known, relentless, and smart. Educate them about the series and its history, and they’ll become passionate. Mission accomplished. (bye Bill; bye Bernie; bye Tony… buh-bye… I said buh-bye! Christopher Jennings, Nashville, TN

  • Peter Ueberroth.  Very good choice. Are you the only one who has thought of this? Has anyone thought of talking to him about it or is it more of a pipe dream? I always thought Mario Andretti would make a good President. Maybe Paul Newman. Someone with a good name and knows about the series. I really thought your article about CART hitting a grand slam was great. I do believe that Mexico, Canada and good USA races are key.  How long before Tony, Roger, and Chip finally realize that the fans aren't buying this Nascarization of Indy cars? Keep up the great work. Doug Ferguson, Florida

  • Mario Andretti Isn’t he The American Driver of the Century? Isn’t he the only man who is able to rejoin the sides of the war? Isn’t he the only man who T.G. respects in CART? We need just one series and he’s the man! Octávio Augusto Burgos, Colombo, Brazil

  • I agree with the crux of your opinion, as it would be ideal for someone of the caliber of Ueberroth to take the helm at CART. The only other CEO that comes to mind to head CART, might be Steve Case of AOL fame. Case has at least two other high profile ventures under his belt besides AOL, that were non Internet related and very successful. David Smith, Louisville, KY

  • How about Mr. Alan Rothenberg? He was the president of U.S.A. World Cup '94. A very successful event in the good old U.S.A. The largest crowds in all world cups up to date in a country where most people don't follow "The Beautiful Game". I believe the "World Cup" is bigger than the Olympics but the point here is the credentials of Mr. Rothenberg. Jorge Custodio, Fontana, CA

  • Brilliant!  Ueberroth would be the perfect guy, Keith Hylton, Brentwood, CA

  • Are you kidding? Peter Ueberroth? What does he know about racing? NOTHING. CART already went down that road with Joe Schmo and others. Besides what makes you think he is interested? Anthony Nastasi, Wellington, FL

  • Peter! Peter! Peter Ueberroth!  100% agree!  Peter could be the man for the job. AND when he dropped out of the Governor’s race he did NOT endorse Arnold!   And McDonald’s would love the guy. Great article. Interesting thoughts about potential “rumbles in the jungles” like Ali and whoever back in the 60’s. Everyone wants to be on the map. Every country has some people who can buy the good seats. And all countries have people who can buy the GA’s. Jeff Skinner, Northridge, CA

  • After reading some of the names mentioned, here is my take: 1. Paul Newman would be great, but I would hate to see his love for this series spoiled by the constant politics! Besides, let him continue to be the model team owner, businessman, actor and occasional auto racer! 2. Mario Andretti would be fabulous, but only if his wisdom is seriously listened to by everyone that thinks they know better! He is a great statesman for this sport and a great businessman as well. 3. Dan Gurney would also be fantastic and has the same passion, wisdom and experience as Mario. He is also a great businessman, race car constructor, and industrial innovator! Thanks! David Siller, Sunnyvale, CA

  • Who should be the next President of CART? A complex question for the ages. One fraught with many pitfalls. Mr. Ueberroth is no doubt qualified but shouldn’t the President of CART be a car guy to SOME degree? I don’t see Peter being a “car guy.” Do we know what Peter drives (a Volvo probably)? I could offer a long list of who the President of CART should NOT be (insert the name of any team owner except Rahal). While I doubt he would serve if asked I would like to see Joe Heitzler’s name on CART/OWRS’s short list. He is, after all, the architect of the tremendously successful Mexico events (Look out Tony! We’re comin’ to get ya!). But more to the point, Joe Heitzler was dealt a massively raw deal by the CART owner cabal. He was positioned to be the fall guy for the MANY bad decisions made by the owners (interesting how all but one of those owners bolted to the IRL) from the get-go. His reputation was besmirched and tarnished. He was set-up to fail by the owners from the day he was hired and deserves, at the very least, to have his good name rehabilitated by nomination for the position if not a comprehensive “set the record straight” interview with the leader in motorsports coverage, AutoRacing1.Com. J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois

  • I like the Ueberroth suggestion just for its "think outside the box" mentality, but I still believe you need a racer at the helm...someone who feels a passion for the sport in his/her bones.  As a real dark horse: I'd see what Stefan Johansson thinks about moving out of car ownership and into running the entire series. He's a businessman with vast racing experience - global experience to boot. Also - while he'd never do it, the one person with [a] multi-series racing experience as an ultra-successful owner, [b] ego to believe that he could do it, and [c] the demonstrated acumen to run a large business? Chip Ganassi.   Daniel Malley

  • Love the website! Re: Ueberroth - I think some current/former baseball owners may have a differing opinion of Ubie's talents - he put the owners on the hook for a monstrous collusion settlement - and ensured that salaries would continue to skyrocket in baseball. I often hear people talk about the baseball owners' with regard to why they pay huge salaries and say "why do they do it - nobody put a gun to their head and made them pay a .200 hitting second baseman $4 million/year". In reality, the collusion settlement is a bazooka pointed at the owners heads and Ubie put it squarely in the players' hands! Ubie has a decent track record, but like most all of us, it's not without its blemishes - and this blemish is a rather large one! [Editor's Note: Not from the players perspective!]  Greg Kendall - St. Louis, Mo.

  • I noticed there was some input for a new recommendation for a new president of CART. Personally I think Mr. Pook has done a great job, however if he is prepared to leave I would like to nominate the following people, if they might be interested. Steve Horne- Former champ team owner and very knowledgeable, with assistance from André Ribeiro, ( trust me these guys were good together) and his accolades date back to Trueman, Rahal, Pruett days, very astute businessmen)  just ask Scott.  Al Arciero - the son of Frank and a team owner and franchise holder in CART, who in previous years has experience unparalleled in this series.  Ralph Sanchez - Just look at his track record, the man is a visionary and competent (not sure how that would equate to his Ganassi involvement) but knows his open and closed wheel programs well. Bernard Jourdain- In this family they know racing, and are still involved and have never strayed from the principals of CART, he would need assistance and I hope that former driver/entrepreneur Mr. Stuart Crowe would lend a hand. Although there are many others who would be qualified to run a company, I think CART needs a former breed of ownership/team involvement or driver businessman with assistance to put this "NEW ERA OF RACING" back in the limelight. Bobby Brooks, American IndyCar Series 

10/15/03
Industry News

Intel sales boom in China   Robust demand from mainland China has helped drive Intel Corp's third-quarter Asia-Pacific sales past the US$3 billion mark for the first time.

"Consumption has increased across the board for all our product lines," Mr Antone said, Intel vice-president and general manager of Asia-Pacific operations. "This was because of the rise in design and manufacturing activities in China and across the region. "China and other emerging economies in Asia have shown steady growth over the last three years, while other markets have slowed down."

He said demand for Intel microprocessors - used to run personal computers - was higher in Asia by several basis points, compared with a worldwide average estimated by Intel to be "from the low to mid-80 per cent range". Mr Antone said the mainland was already the world's No 2 market for personal computers, behind the United States. He expected mainland demand to surpass the US by the end of this decade.

Gartner Hong Kong analyst Dorothy Lai said the results in Asia justified Intel's continued infrastructure investments in China. Intel recently announced plans for a US$375 million chip assembly and test plant to be built in Chengdu, in Sichuan province, by 2005. It already has a plant in Shanghai. Gartner estimates show that Intel's total mainland sales last year reached US$3.19 billion, up from $2.33 billion in 2001.

10/15/03

Question about Dario   A reader writes, Dear AR1, Just a question about the future of Dario...Could it be possible that Dario may race next year for Andretti Green and also in CART? Could Michael have Mario be the captain of a satellite Andretti Green team in CART with Dario at the wheel? This would 1.) make Michael and Mario a father-son team with both sides covered 2.) keep Dario and keep him happy 3.) start to mend fences that Michael tore down when he left CART 4.) use the Newman Haas team as their partners in racing, keeping that relation close. Don't know if this would happen but it does look good on paper...what do you think? Thanks, great site, Dennis Barbour  Dear Dennis.  That will never happen.  Michael Andretti was very vocal about the drivers never getting any of the stock when CART went public.  That left a very bad taste in his mouth and we don't think he ever got over that, feeling the drivers got screwed by the team owners.  Based on that, and based on his full endorsement of the IRL, we doubt he has any desire whatsoever to participate in CART.  Mark C.

10/15/03

Fernández rejects Honda's efforts for them to leave CART  National Speed Sport News reports that Adrian Fernández revealed at Mexico City it is unlikely that his Fernandez Racing operation will make a full-scale switch to the Indy Racing League in 2004. The 40-year old Mexican star, who is CART's only owner-driver, campaigns an IRL effort with Honda support for rookie Roger Yasukawa and Honda has reportedly made an effort to entice Fernandez to shut down his CART team to concentrate fully on the IRL [Editor's note: our Honda sources say this is not true].  Instead, Fernández will likely expand their CART effort to two cars.  Based on recent comments in the media by folks in the IRL paddock, many are desperate to break into the Mexican and Canadian markets and it's likely that they think if they can steal CART's Mexican drivers away, they can then go and race in Mexico with great success.  Ditto for the Canadian market with Canadian drivers.  The fact that CART is still alive certainly was not in their business plan. 

10/15/03

New 604 HP turbo Mercedes set to debut   The proliferation of turbochargers and superchargers on passenger cars and on trucks continues.  The mighty 6.0-liter, twin-turbo V12 produces a whopping 604 hp, giving the Mercedes CL65 supercar performance.  The engine is coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission, with an automanual system Mercedes calls Speedshift. It includes steering wheel mounted shift buttons. Clutch pack discs and driveshafts have been beefed up to handle the increased power and torque, but believe it or not, the engine is detuned. The 6.0-liter is capable of an astonishing 700 hp and 885 lb-ft of torque, but AMG engineers figure the five-speed auto would scatter itself like a grenade if all that oomph went through it. Mercedes recently showed a seven-speed automatic under development that is designed to handle these kinds of power and torque levels.  Try doing that with a 6.0 liter normally aspirated passenger car engine.  Imagine if CART's next engine was a 1.5 L V10 turbo. Why a V10 instead of a V8?  Because 1) the V10 has been made popular by F1, 2) you can turn it at higher RPM and get the same longevity because the reciprocating mass of each piston, rod, etc is lower, 3) It will give CART a more exotic image and clearly differentiate it from the dumbed-down NASCARization of motorsports in the USA, be it NASCAR, the IRL or the Grand-Am.  CART needs to clearly differentiate itself and get back to the image of America's version of F1, even if costs are far lower by tightening up the rules.  Does it have to be a turbo? No.  But turbos and superchargers are proliferating on passenger cars and will be on an increasingly number of cars over time.

10/15/03

Brack recovery update   Severely injured IRL IndyCar Series driver Kenny Brack continues to improve at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas from injuries suffered in the Chevy 500, said Dr. Henry Bock, director of medical services for the Indy Racing League.   Brack, the 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner and 1998 IndyCar Series champion, remains in serious but stable condition, Bock said.

Brack suffered a fractured right femur, a fractured sternum, fractured lumbar vertebrae and fractures to both ankles in an accident on Lap 188 of the Chevy 500 on Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway, the final race of the 2003 IndyCar Series season.   He underwent successful surgery on his right femur and both ankles Oct. 12, and successful surgery on his back Oct. 13. Anita Brack, Kenny’s wife, met with the media Oct. 15 in Dallas.

“We are having good news every day,” Anita Brack said. “That’s been very uplifting for myself, Kenny’s friends and family, and our Team Rahal crew.  Sure, it has been tough for us after seeing Kenny in such an amazing crash. When I was able to talk to him at the track care center, that was a big relief. He was joking with us at the hospital and talked to Michael (Andretti), Bryan (Herta), Dario (Franchitti) and Bobby (Rahal) before going into surgery Sunday night. I was more relieved then.  I don't know if he will race again. That is up to Kenny. If he wants to race, I will be behind him. I love racing too. My instinct says he will want to race. But we know he has a long recovery period ahead. All of the C.T. scans show everything is good including his head. So I think he will be the same Kenny when he is well again. That's all I want right now."

Team owner Bobby Rahal echoed Anita Brack’s statements.  “The doctors are very optimistic,” Rahal said. “We are thankful for the great efforts of the doctors in the surgeries and the IRL safety crew at the track. Thank goodness the Dallara chassis was so strong in that kind of crash.   “It has been so heartwarming for Anita and all of Team Rahal to receive so many calls of concern and for best wishes on Kenny’s condition. We thank everyone for their support.”

Persons wishing to send a get-well message to Brack can do so at www.rahal.com or by sending cards or letters to:
Team Rahal
4601 Lyman Drive
Hilliard, OH 43026
Further updates on Brack’s condition will be provided when available.

10/15/03

Scheckter tests for Panther at Milwaukee  Just three days after Scott Dixon won the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series championship, the quest for the 2004 title began with Tomas Scheckter and Panther Racing testing Oct. 15 at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis.

Panther Racing announced Oct. 11 that Scheckter would replace two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr., who now drives for Marlboro Team Penske.

The team wasted little time getting ready for 2004, testing at “The Mile,” which will play host to an IndyCar Series event for the first time July 25, 2004. The testing conditions were sunny and windy, with a high temperature of only 52 degrees.

“Milwaukee is new to the IRL schedule in 2004, and we know that it is important to test here quickly before the weather has something to say about testing,” Scheckter said. “Today was still a bit cool, and we quit early because the winds were so strong, but it was a great chance for me to start communicating with Andy Brown (engineer), Simon Morley (chief mechanic) and all the Pennzoil Panther guys. This is a great organization, and I really appreciate how they have made me feel so welcome.”

John Barnes, co-owner of Panther Racing, was impressed with Scheckter’s first test with the team.

“Obviously we have known that Tomas is a very fast race car driver,” Barnes said. “Now we know how good he is with technical feedback, and we have an opportunity to start building a communication relationship that will be the foundation to success in 2004.

“Tomas’ knowledge of the car and the IRL formula should allow us to take the very strong race platform we have developed with this car over the last year and take it to the next level. I am very impressed.”

The test marked the first time in more than a year that Scheckter had driven a Dallara chassis or a car equipped with a Chevrolet engine. In 2003, he drove a Panoz G Force/Toyota combination for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I really enjoy racing in the IRL, and I am really looking forward to 2004 with Pennzoil Panther Racing,” Scheckter said. “I was pleased with the Chevrolet power today, and the transition to the Dallara chassis has been pretty smooth. We will come back out here tomorrow for a bit more work and then head back to Indianapolis to begin preparing for our next test later this month.”

10/15/03

Final Lowe's ratings down  The move to prime time didn't yield stronger results for Winston Cup racing from Lowe's Motor Speedway. Saturday night's final numbers yielded a 4.3 rating and 8 share, according to Nielsen Media Research. This is down 14% from last year's 5.0 rating. NASCAR faced tough competition from the Cubs-Marlins game, which had a 7.3 rating and 14 share. The race finished ranked #69 in the ratings last week, drawing 7.5 million viewers. MotorsportsTV.com

10/15/03

Opening Petit LeMans practice times   Wednesday’s testing speeds, showing drivers, type car (class) and lap time (Partial List):
1. Andy Wallace, Butch Leitzinger and James Weaver; Lola EX257-MG (P675), 1:12.458.
2. JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert; Audi R8 (P900), 1:12.520.
3. Olivier Beretta, David Saelens and Max Papis; Panoz LMP01 (P900), 1:13.137.
4. Frank Biela and Marco Werner; Audi R8 (P900), 1:13.218.
5. Chris Dyson, Didier de Radigues and Chad Block; Lola EX257-MG (P675), 1:14.596.
6. Jon Field, Duncan Dayton and Larry Connor; Lola EX257-Judd (P675), 1:14.827.
7. Clint Field, Michael Durand and Larry Oberto; R&S MkIIIC-Elan (P900), 1:17.497.
8. Michael Lewis, Tomy Drissi and Melanie Paterson; R&S MkIIIC-Lincoln (P900), 1:18.006.
9. Jan Magnussen, David Brabham and Anthony Davidson; Ferrari 550 Maranello (GTS), 1:19.820.
10. Oliver Gavin, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim; Chevrolet Corvette C5-R (GTS), 1:19.928.
11. Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Franck Freon; Chevrolet Corvette C5-R (GTS), 1:20.010.
12. Peter Kox, Tomas Enge and Alain Menu; Ferrari 550 Maranello (GTS), 1:20.083.

10/15/03
Karting

Big names to race in Brazilian karting event   Below are some of the race stars who will be in São Paulo in November to contest The Granja Viana 500 miles Kart Race:
F1: Rubens Barrichello, Juan Pablo Montoya, Felipe Massa, Luciano Burti, Antonio Pizzonia
IRL: Felipe Giaffone, Tony Kanaan
CART: Jimmy Vasser, Oriol Servia, Michel Jourdain Jr., Mario Haberfeld. Marco Andretti
NASCAR: Christian Fittipaldi
BTCC: Alexandro Zanardi
The list is still growing!

10/15/03

CART attendance surpasses 2 million again   Mexican open-wheel racing fans are among the most passionate on the planet and it appears that very few of them missed their chance to see the cars and stars of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford when the series invaded Mexico City last weekend. The Mexican fans set a new all-time Champ Car attendance record last season when 351,972 of them visited the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the 2002 event, but this year's crowd for the Telmex-Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa eclipsed last year's record by more than 50,000. The three-day attendance for the CART Champ Car weekend was a staggering 402,413, with a massive crowd of 221,011 streaming through the gates on race day. Both figures set new series records and the three-day attendance mark is the largest for a road-racing event run in North America in 2003. The figure pushed the season-long attendance figure to 2,091,287, which marks the 11th consecutive season in which CART Champ Car has drawn over two million fans. With two races yet to run, the series is on track to surpass 2.4 million fans for the sixth consecutive season. "We knew that interest would be piqued by the fact that six Mexican drivers were competing in the race," said series President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. "But the fans responded even more enthusiastically than anyone could have expected and our drivers and teams gave them a great race to watch. The fact that we have drawn more than two million fans again this year shows our sponsors, promoters and teams that Champ Car racing continues to have great value."  CART PR

10/15/03

Darlington to get lights   The most tangible sign of lights coming to Darlington Raceway is the removal of the roof of the Brasington Grandstand, the second-oldest covered grandstand in Winston Cup racing behind one at Indianapolis. The roof was removed last week, and a crane has been brought in to take down the roof support. Musco Lighting, the Iowa company doing the work, had to remove the roof to ensure even lighting of the track. "The roof is so close to the racetrack that Musco cannot get light on the track from the outside," said track superintendent Sammie Yarborough, cousin to three-time Winston Cup champion Cale. "You've got to have light balanced from both sides. They tried everything they could figure and couldn't do it, so we didn't have any choice." The track will eventually be ringed by 74 light poles, including 47 exterior poles ranging from 90 to 120 feet high, and 27 more that will rise 30 to 40 feet above the grandstands. Running along the inside of the track will be 212 reflectors that will direct light onto the racing surface. It's the same setup Musco has used to light a number of other Winston Cup venues, including those in Daytona Beach and Charlotte. On Oct. 27, 22 tractor-trailers will deliver the light poles, which will assembled on the ground. Cranes will then lift them into the foundations, where the tapered poles will lock into place. Although the sponsorship agreements announced Tuesday extend into 2006 and 2008, there's no guarantee Darlington will have a spring race beyond next season. Gurtis said the realignment issue did come up during negotiations. Charleston Post and Courier

10/15/03

18-race final 2004 f1 schedule, Canada reinstated  The Canadian Grand Prix has been reinstated on the 2004 Formula One calendar at a meeting of the governing body's World Motor Sport Council. The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) issued a revised calendar on Wednesday with Montreal included as an additional 18th race, to be held on June 13th before the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis on June 20. The date is provisional, subject to a satisfactory financial agreement with competing teams for running without tobacco sponsorship.

March 7, Grand Prix of Australia (Melbourne)
March 21, Grand Prix of Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)
April 4 **, Grand Prix of Bahrain (Bahrain)
April 25, Grand Prix of San Marino (Imola)
May 9, Grand Prix of Spain (Barcelona)
May 23, Grand Prix of Monaco (Monaco)
May 30, Grand Prix of Europe (Nurburgring)
June 13***, Grand Prix of Canada (Montreal)
June 20, Grand Prix of USA (Indianapolis)
July 4, Grand Prix of Great Britain (Silverstone)
July 11 *, Grand Prix of France (Magny-Cours)
July 25, Grand Prix of Germany (Hockenheim)
August 15, Grand Prix of Hungary (Budapest)
August 29, Grand Prix of Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)
September 12, Grand Prix of Italy (Monza)
September 26 **, Grand Prix of China (Shanghai)
October 10, Grand Prix of Japan (Suzuka)
October 24, Grand Prix of Brazil (Sao Paulo)  *, **, *** = provisional until all requirements met

The new timetable will be as follows:
Friday
Free practice – 11:00-12:00
Free practice – 2:00-3:00
Saturday
Free practice – 10:00-10:45
Free practice – 11:15-12:00
Qualifying – 2:00
Sunday
Race – 2:00 (or at other times according to relevant schedule)

10/15/03

King Taco to sponsor CART Fontana race   The November 1-2, 2003, race events at California Speedway will be sponsored by King Taco. The CART Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford event and the NASCAR Winston West Series event will be named the King Taco 500 and King Taco 200, respectively.

California Speedway President Bill Miller and King Taco Restaurants, Inc. Vice-President Luis Martinez made the announcement today.

Today's agreement with the speedway continues a four-year relationship between the restaurant and California Speedway. Since 2000, King Taco has been the official Mexican restaurant of the speedway, which has included King Taco's permanent location in the infield between turns 3 and 4. King Taco has been involved in and a proud supporter of motorsports for more than 10 years.

Founded in 1974 by the Martinez family, King Taco began its operations from a converted ice cream truck. The Mexican restaurant has since expanded to more than 19 locations throughout Los Angeles County. King Taco has been repeatedly placed within the top 100 of Hispanic Business Magazine's "Top 500 Hispanic Businesses."

10/15/03

Cathy Freeman named Surfers Grand Marshal   Olympic gold medalist and former Australian of the Year, Cathy Freeman, has been named Grand Marshal of this year's Lexmark Indy 300 to be held on Queensland's Gold Coast from October 23 to 26.

The recently retired athletics champion will return home to Queensland for the state's premier event to carry out the duties of the Grand Marshal on Sunday October 26 including leading the Corvette Driver's Parade Lap with Premier Peter Beattie.

Freeman adds to a diverse list that have been past Lexmark Indy 300 Grand Marshals including rugby great John Eales, five-time 500cc world champion Mick Doohan, Olympic 1500m swimming gold medallist Grant Hackett and three-time F1 world champion Sir Jack Brabham.

Last year the Mann family of Chinchilla in Central Queensland was selected as Grand Marshals as a tribute to the 'Year of the Outback' and to bring more attention to the plight of Australia's farmers during the drought.

Earlier this year Freeman announced her retirement from competitive athletics after an illustrious career at the elite level which began with Commonwealth Games gold in 1990 and concluded 13 years later with her 13th national senior title after winning the 400m at the Australian Championships.

Career highlights have included:
- Commonwealth Games gold medal 1990 - 4x100m; 1994 - 200m, 400m; 2002 - 4x400m
- Olympic Games gold medal 2000 - 400m; silver medal 1996 - 400m
- World Championships gold medal 1997 - 400m, 1999 - 400m; bronze medal 1995 - 4x400m
- 13-time Australian Champion (across 400m, 200m, 100m, 100 yards)

"I am really looking forward to attending this year's Lexmark Indy 300 as the Grand Marshal especially as it is Queensland's largest sporting event and such a significant tourism driver for the state," said Freeman.

"Queensland is my home state and I have so many fond memories of my childhood and schooling years in this part of the country. It is important to me that I support the state where it all began for me, and this is one small way of giving something back.

"Plus it is such a fun event and speed has been a passion of mine for some time. I can't wait to see the Champ Cars and V8 Supercars reach incredible speed around the Surfers Paradise circuit on the Sunday."

Lexmark Indy 300 General Manager James Ashworth paid tribute to Freeman as a great ambassador for Australian sport and to the state of Queensland.

"There will never be another Cathy Freeman and we are incredibly grateful to Cathy for accepting the invitation to be Grand Marshal of this year's Lexmark Indy 300," said Ashworth.

"Cathy has had such a tremendous impact on all Australians both on and off the athletics track, and being named Grand Marshal is an opportunity for Queensland to acknowledge her contribution." Lexmark 300 PR

10/15/03

Toyota signs Gascoyne  Renault technical director Mike Gascoyne has joined Toyota, the two Formula One teams announced on Wednesday.

Toyota said in their statement that a mutual agreement had been reached with Renault and Gascoyne to allow the Englishman to start work with Toyota as chassis technical director from December 1.

"Mike Gascoyne will be in charge of the technical aspects of the chassis at the factory in Cologne and also at races and tests," said Toyota Motorsport vice-president Toshiro Kurusu in a statement.

"Luca Marmorini will assume the position of Technical Director Engine. I am sure that Mike will work very well together with our chief designer Gustav Brunner as a team."

10/15/03

Gascoyne replacement  It was confirmed on Wednesday that Mike Gascoyne had left Renault for Toyota, and Flavio Briatore has moved quickly to fill the gap.  Bob Bell is considered the natural successor to Gascoyne having been the Rottweiler’s deputy since 2001.

"We thank Mike for his excellent work, his contribution to our success so far and wish him well for the future," Briatore said. “We are delighted to offer Bob Bell the role of Technical Director.

"The entire technical team has done an outstanding job developing our car over the past two years, and we have made impressive progress. Our program has been built up carefully, putting the right people in place, and I have every confidence that Bob's technical experience and managerial skills will be a major asset for the future."

10/15/03
Industry News

Jaguar smashes sales records  Jaguar is celebrating its highest-ever sales total in a month with 15,613 cars sold worldwide in the course of September. This is the best result in the 83-year history of Jaguar. Sales were particularly strong in Jaguar's market target in the United States where September sales reached 4,222, up 40% from last year. It was the 14th consecutive month of record sales for Jaguar with the S-Type and X-Type both doing well and the dealers keen to get their hands on the new XJ which was unveiled recently in Paris. Although Jaguar sales in Europe remain weak they are still up 19% although Jaguar's third largest market, Italy, has accounted for sales of only 4,612 cars so far this year. The company biggest gains are in Asia where sales in Japan jumped 77% to 3,823 and in Australia where sales jumped 125% (although this amounted to only 291 cars).  The F1 program is thought to still be needed.  Grandprix.com

10/15/03

Chris Amon thinks Dixon is F1 material  Chris Amon believes New Zealand driver Scott Dixon possesses all the qualities required to be a success on the Formula One circuit.

Dixon's career reached a new high Sunday when he won the Indy Racing League series in his rookie season on the major oval-track competition in the United States after finishing second behind Gil de Ferran in a dramatic Chevy 500 at Fort Worth, Texas.

The championship win took twenty-three-year-old Dixon a step closer to his ambition of making a career in Formula One, something Amon believes is within his grasp.

Dixon had won two other series titles since he started racing in the United States five years ago - the Indy Light series in 2000 and Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) rookie of the year in 2001.

"He has the talent to be extremely successful in Formula One," said Amon, the last New Zealander to compete regularly on the Formula One circuit in a 13-year career that ended in 1976.

Amon ranks Dixon's accomplishment as the biggest achievement by a New Zealander in single-seater motor-racing since the late Denny Hulme won the Formula One world championship crown 36 years ago.

The fact Dixon secured the IRL title powered by a Toyota engine could have spin-offs, according to Amon. "Toyota will be very aware of him. In 2005 they'll probably be looking to change at least one of their Formula One drivers so that's a possible opening." New Zealand Herald

10/15/03
Industry News

Dell aims to triple sales in China  [Editor's Note: Bernie Ecclestone is a very smart businessman and sees the value in going to China with F1.  The Dallara Nissan World Series will be racing in China in a big way in 2004 and beyond.  Unfortunately CART has been unable to land a race deal in China and will someday live to regret that.  The timing is perfect because people in China who never owned a car before are now buying them in record numbers.  Automobile manufacturers are all ramping up their production of cars in China, and even American companies like Dell are selling a lot of product in China.  CART simply doesn't have a marketing manager who understands the global economy.  In fact, right now they have no marketing manager, with COO David Clare picking up the duties.  CART has decided to retreat to North America and focus on that market.  Unfortunately for them, NASCAR has so monopolized the USA market it's almost impossible for any other racing series to thrive.]  Made-to-order computer giant Dell aims to triple sales in China to US$6 billion within the next several years, state press reported on Tuesday.  "Given the local market size, we are aiming to increase our annual sales in China to US$6 billion over the next few years," the China Business Weekly quoted Dell president Kevin Rollins as saying.

US-based Dell earned US$2.1 billion in revenues last year in China, accounting for 6 per cent of the company's global sales.   With US$35 billion in global sales in fiscal 2003, the world's top PC maker aimed to nearly double that in the coming years and was relying on the tremendous growth potential in China to achieve the target, Mr. Rollins said.

"China's booming economy is intensifying our confidence [in attaining this goal]," he said.  "As our fourth-largest market, China is, and will continue to be, instructive to Dell's global business initiative."

Currently Dell controls a 7.8 per cent share of China's PC market, which compares with less than 1 per cent five years ago, and it continued to provide for major growth opportunities, according to Mr. Rollins.  Yet despite Dell's aggressive price strategy, Chinese computer maker Lonovo, formally know as Legend, holds the upper hand, producing one third of China's computers.

10/15/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items 

Juan Pablo Staying Put, Says BMW Chief
Schumacher Resisted Ferrari Switch
Jaguar To Sign Second Driver In Six Weeks
Sauber Beat Cash-Laden Teams To Sixth
Williams To 'Correct Problems' For 2004
Frentzen Admits Contact With Jaguar
Sauber Wind-Tunnel Ready By February
Rossi May Not Accept Offer To Test Ferrari
F1 Aces Impressed By Chinese GP Circuit
World Council To Ratify F1 Rule Changes
Ferrari Put Pressure On Bridgestone
Schu Hides Greatness From His Children
Button Aims For Consistent '04 Podiums
Trulli Counts On Renault In 2004

10/14/03

Brack wreck video  A reader writes, Dear AR1, In case you want to post it on your site, here's a link to a video of the Brack wreck. http://www.geardownlock.com/FR/Brack.mpg   It has several different angles, but no sound. From the head-on view, it appears that Brack moved down to the inside of the track onto Scheckter. Anyway, thank God he's alive and will apparently recover. CART definitely did the right thing in canceling their race, in spite of the major black eye that they took for it. Of course, the 'righter' thing would have been to do more testing beforehand, and not even sign the contract to race there. Alan Saliwanchik

10/14/03

Bourdais wins CART Rookie of Year Award   Sebastien Bourdais came to the CART Champ Car World Series with impressive credentials, having won the FIA International F3000 championship in 2002, served notice from the first day of the 2003 season that he would be the man to beat in one of the biggest rookie fields in series history.

Bourdais scored the pole for his first two Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford races and became the first driver to ever lead the opening lap of his Champ Car career by pacing the opener at St. Petersburg. His qualifying went better than his race days in those first three races but he soon corrected that problem, taking wins in Brands Hatch and at EuroSpeedway Lausitz as well as a victory from the pole in Cleveland.

The Newman/Haas pilot went on a tear after the Cleveland race, using the North Coast win to spark a run of five consecutive top-five finishes - a series record for rookies - that would give him command of the series Rookie-of-the-Year standings. He then took a runner-up finish in Denver to close on the title and cemented the honor with a second-place run in Mexico City, becoming the first French driver to win the CART Champ Car Rookie-of-the-Year crown.

"Earning the Rookie-of-the-Year title was the main target of the year," Bourdais said. "I think it is very good, obviously, to get it two races before the end. Obviously we knew that we were in pretty good shape. We had a big advantage over Darren (Manning) and were looking very strong here in Mexico. We got very important points and these next two races are going to be very difficult and I just hope to be up there."

Bourdais became the first rookie since Juan Montoya in 1999 to win multiple races in his first year in the series, and has also strung together an all-time rookie record by qualifying in the top six for the last 11 races. He has earned three wins and four poles and has amassed seven podium finishes in the year's 17 races, all of which are the best by a Champ Car rookie since 1999.

10/14/03

Bruno Junqueira and Paul Tracy Teleconference   Today on a special CART media teleconference were the two title contenders for the 2003 Vanderbilt Cup, as we come to the end of the Bridgestone Presents Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. There are two races to go -- the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia which comes up in two weeks followed by the King Taco 500 at California Speedway. And then CART will have crowned a champion, and it very well could be points leader Paul Tracy and 2nd place contender Bruno Junqueira.  Transcript

10/14/03

Brack wreck was a long time coming  This RPM.ESPN.com article says exactly what we have been saying for two years now - The fact Brack's car climbed the wheel of another's at 220 mph, catapulted into the fence and disintegrated was simply long overdue. Because every time the IRL competes at Texas it elicits the same two emotions from everyone watching: Titillation and trepidation.

It's riveting to watch in person or on television. But it's also plenty scary -- at least for the drivers and anyone who understands the dynamics. "It's (bad) for the drivers but great for the fans," said Scott Dixon after capturing the 2003 IRL title with a second place finish. Dixon is a smart young man who realizes that running wide open in such close proximity for two hours is a recipe for disaster. "It's like Russian Roulette," said one veteran following Sunday's show. "Sooner or later your time is coming."

It's amazing the IRL has never had a 20-car pileup, especially at Texas, with all the wheel banging and insane driving (Eddie Cheever's words after one night show at TMS) and one shudders to think how many spectators would have perished had Brack's crash taken place on the other side of the track. Because his engine and several other pieces were launched into the empty grandstands on the backstretch after the fence caved in.

From video replays, it also appears the fencing at Texas is still backwards. In other words, there is a post (which pulverized Davey Hamilton's feet in 2001), a cable and then the fence. Just the opposite of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which has a fence/post/cable to support things (it kept Mario Andretti from sailing into the grandstands last April in his test flight at Indy).

Tony George wanted his own niche and he's got it with an all-oval series.

And the safety measures taken by CART and IRL have thankfully made death a rarity instead of a certainty like it was in the '60s.

Ovals remain the best show for television, yet they are also the worst place to have an accident. The IRL has dodged a lot of big bullets since '96 but it needs to seriously address its aero package, speeds, cars and propensity for carnage on its action tracks. Maybe Humpy Wheeler is right. Maybe it's time for fenders.

While endlessly patting itself on the back for re-inventing racing, the IRL brass would probably just as soon we forget all of those drivers who've been maimed these past eight years. During his post-race interview Sunday on ESPN, George praised Dixon and thanked the fans but neglected to mention his hopes and prayers for the 1999 Indy winner, who lay broken and battered a few hundred yards away in the infield hospital.

It's no coincidence Michael Andretti retired before Texas this year. And Scott Dixon's agent wants to get him out of the IRL and into Formula One before he joins the "Orthopedic Surgery Club." Dario Franchitti wants to go back to CART but hasn't been able to secure a deal. When asked how much he'd enjoyed the three-car bump and grind to the photo finish at Chicago earlier this season, Bryan Herta replied: "That wasn't fun."

Brack, one of the truly good guys in all of motorsports who has won in both IRL and CART, mentioned a few days before Texas that open wheel had to get back under one roof with a mix of ovals, road courses and street circuits. The 37-year-old Swede wasn't complaining, just making sense.

Of course the PR spin is that all the drivers think the IRL is the greatest series in motorsports history. Under oath, the majority of them would admit they hate tempting fate 16 times a year in the asphalt jungle. These guys know the risks of open wheel and are as brave as almost any generation of racers, they just don't fancy being sacrificed for the good of the show.

That's why the only person happier than Gil de Ferran last Sunday night was Angela de Ferran. He'll never have to drive in the Kamikaze Circuit again and his wife will never again have to run to the emergency room.

Like Anita Brack, who is seven months pregnant and so very thankful she isn't a widow today.

10/14/03

FIA World Council set to ratify new rules   The Formula One Commission laid out a series of changes to the format of a Grand Prix weekend. These were accepted and now have to go before the FIA World Motor Sport Council. It is expected that these changes will be passed and put into place for the 2004 season.

"The World Council is likely to accept the Formula One Commission's recommendations," an FIA spokesperson said. "There is unlikely to be any surprises from the meeting."

The changes to the existing format include:
a. The three-day weekend will remain.

b. Abandoning of the Friday qualifying session. Drivers will now have two one-lap qualifying attempts on Saturday. Qualifying will be an hour-and-a-half session, allowing drivers to complete the necessary two runs. The starting order will be based on the previous race result rather than championship position.  The second run will then take place in reverse order with the slowest first on track.

c. Private testing on Friday will be replaced with two hour-long practice sessions. The bottom six teams will be permitted to run a third car in practice.

10/14/03

Brack undergoes successful back surgery  IRL IndyCar Series driver Kenny Brack underwent successful surgery on his back Oct. 13 at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, said Dr. Henry Bock, director of medical services for the Indy Racing League.

Dr. Kevin Morrill, chief neurologist at Parkland, oversaw the procedure, which involved an open fixation on the spinal fracture and a spinal fusion of the L2, L3 and L4 vertebrae.

"Last night, we performed an open fixation on the spinal fracture - L-3 vertebra - and a spinal fusion of the L-2, L-3 and L-4 vertebra," said Morrill. "He was moving his legs and toes. Now we'll monitor his status for the next few days. There is no doubt that Kenny's great physical condition helped him in this surgery."

Brack remains in serious, but stable condition, Bock said.

Brack suffered a fractured right femur, a fractured sternum and lumbar and fractures to both ankles in an accident on Lap 188 of the Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the final race of the 2003 IndyCar Series season.

Persons wishing to send a get-well message to Brack can do so at www.rahal.com or by sending cards or letters to:

Team Rahal
4601 Lyman Dr.
Hilliard, Ohio 43026
Further updates on Brack’s condition will be provided when available.

10/14/03

***Reader Opinion***Brack's accident reminiscent of Sneva's  Dear AR1, Seeing Kenny Brack’s accident on videotape and in slow motion is a stark reminder of Tom Sneva’s crash in 1975 in Turn Two at Indy. While passing Eldon Rasmussen, Sneva’s right rear tires touched Rasmussen’s left front and sent Sneva catapulting up into the air and into the fence right at the Turn Two suites. (I have the accident on Super 8 film right in front of me where I was standing against the inside fence at the apex.) Sneva’s #68 Norton Spirit snagged on the fence collecting his rear gearbox and a wheel/tire assembly (which were still hanging up in the fence afterward) while continuing to pinwheel down the track. Played back in slow motion you can see his Offy rolling, bouncing down the track by itself. Tom finally came to a rest in nothing but the bent-up cockpit and obvious, though invisible flames around him. A fire/rescue crew was on top of Tom in a matter of seconds, maybe the fastest response I’ve ever seen. And I have the film to prove it. The huge difference in this accident was the speed. Tom was probably traveling 175-180 when he crashed, compared to Brack’s 220. A major difference and the reason Tom was able to climb out of his car and Kenny was not. Tom’s only burns were where his sponsor patches were sewed into his fire-retardant driver’s suit. Maury Williams, Dayton, Ohio [Editor's Note: That and the fact that the fence posts at IMS are not trackside, they are on the proper side - the outside]

10/14/03

Shanghai track impresses F1 contingent   It's rare that rival Formula One racing teams agree on anything.

But as drivers and officials from different F1 teams visited the Shanghai International Circuit, where construction work is in full swing, they seemed to agree that the circuit will help make next year's inaugural China Grand Prix one of the most exciting races on the F1 tour.

After visiting the circuit in the city's Anting town (see map for location of Anting - west of downtown Shanghai on the highlighted road) yesterday afternoon, David Richards, the CEO of BAR Honda F1, said he was astounded.

"We were told there were 7,000 people working on the site," said Richards. "I've never seen a circuit of such scale and the efforts and technologies put into the construction are just like what we applied to a Formula One car itself."

Jenson Button, who finished ninth in the drivers' Championship this season, found the latest leg on the F1 calendar a paradise for passing.  "I think it's a very fast track and looks very good for overtaking, even more exciting than Hockenheim, which is known for its fast track," said the 24-year-old Brit.

Ralf Schumacher experienced the circuit in a different way. The BMW Williams racer had a virtual drive on the Shanghai track using a simulator at a press conference yesterday evening.

"What I got to understand from the simulation drive is that this is among the most challenging races on the F1 tour," said the younger brother of Michael Schumacher, the reigning title-holder in the drivers Championship. "With a tough combination of high-speed and low-speed corners, it poses a real test to the ability of the racers."  The inaugural China Grand Prix is scheduled to be held on September 26th, 2004.  Shanghai Daily News

10/14/03

Atlanta wants a night race   As Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark watched the Winston Cup cars circle Lowe's Motor Speedway under the lights Saturday night, he couldn't help but think about how much he'd like to see his own facility host a night race. But he says his current dates, in early spring and late October, tend to be too cool for spectator comfort at night. "What I would like to see is the spring event moved later in the year and run at night," Clark said. But to get the early June date he'd like would mean disrupting some other track's schedule. He knows that would be unfair. "But I talk to NASCAR about it every three or four months to let them know that if they're changing dates around anyway to keep us in mind," he said. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

10/14/03

Kenny Brack update - A lot to be thankful for This IndyStar article gives the most detail about the condition of Kenny Brack.  Notice the tear in the fencing as Brack's car rips through it.  Brack's progress was measured in small doses Monday. Parkland orthopedic surgeon Charles Reinert told team officials Brack should need three months to recover from the leg and ankle surgeries. Reinert inserted plates and screws in both ankles, using a bone from Brack's hip to stabilize the right ankle.

The right ankle was presumed to have suffered the most damage immediately after the accident, but there was reason for optimism Monday.

"There was less damage than they initially thought," team press officer Tom Blattler said at Parkland. "His back could take some time (to heal), but Reinert and (IRL doctor) Henry Bock both said they anticipate him making a full recovery."

Blattler said he was encouraged by seeing Brack wiggle all of his swollen toes. Brack was not made available to the media.

The gash over Brack's left eye and his broken sternum suggest he was thrown into the car's steering column during the accident. Blattler said the top half of the steering wheel was bent, but there were no signs of a serious head injury or other internal damage.

10/14/03

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10/13/03

Did reverse fence system at TMS severely injure another driver?  This Las Vegas Review Journal article talks about the reverse fence system at Texas Motor Speedway that Davey Hamilton blames for his crippling injuries.  This issue was pointed out extensively here on AR1 back then, and to the best of our knowledge, has not been corrected.  The way Kenny Brack's car tore apart Sunday when it hit the fence may be the result of once again the posts and cable supports of the fencing ripping the car to shreds and causing more injury to the driver.  It has been speculated that the front of Kenny Brack's car was ripped away by one of these posts thereby breaking his leg and ankles, but we have no info at this time to substantiate this.  It is possible Kenny's car actually penetrated the fencing, ripping out a sizeable portion of fencing completely. This may have allowed the car to contact the vertical posts, which may have done the majority of damage to the chassis.  We also note that the steel horizontal reinforcing cabling is mounted outside as well.  If the posts are indeed trackside, let's hope that reconstruction that will be starting any day now that includes tearing down all that fencing and putting the posts on the spectator side.  There should be no exposed fence posts for a car to get snagged on.  It should be smooth chain-link fencing all the way around the track. Safety must be #1, but in high-speed open wheel racing, it's almost impossible to prevent catastrophic accidents.  When the cars get airborne they are like projectiles. CART won't race there and they did what was right to protect its drivers by canceling its race in 2001 at the last minute because speeds were too high, which cost CART a multi-million dollar lawsuit.  However, CART did it because they care about their drivers and proved it that day.  The IRL has raced there for years with the fencing reversed, yet have never demanded it be fixed. The show must go on as they say.  Will Brack's injuries be swept under the rug again, or will the IRL demand something finally be done?  Ask former IRL driver, and now partially crippled, Davey Hamilton what he thinks?

10/13/03

***Reader Opinion***More feedback on IRL injuries  Just rechecked the IRL web page and guess what? Little to no info on the Brack crash. What are they trying to hide? I'm sure he has many fans who would want updated info on his condition. Hope "THE HAMMER" is happy to have another of his drivers listed on YOUR Infamous Injury list. What will it take to stop it? AR1 is the only one where you can keep up on all the racing news for all types of racing. Keep up the great work. Hey IRL drivers get back to racing in CART, your life depends on it. Joe Steber, Albrightsville, PA.   Dear AR1, Racing is a dangerous business even for the fans but IRL's rate of big crashes, broken bones and broken backs is ridiculous. What is Tony George waiting for? to get someone killed? How come the owners have not gone public expressing their concerns about the safety of this series? Two drivers were almost killed this year driving one of those cars; doesn't this tell something to anyone in the IRL? Mario Andretti was lucky his car landed upright but Kenny well, the Lord was with him yesterday. In other words they survived because they were LUCKY not because the chassis are safe. There is nothing to praise on those cars. Someone MUST stop this carnage called the IRL. Regards, Roberto Reyes

10/13/03

Emotional wreck  UPDATE A reader responds to this article,  Dear Mr. Whitt, The IRL is nothing more than the blood sport of the 60s revisited. The carnage of the 50s and 60s was the very thing that stunted the growth of professional motorsports in this country. Particularly the open-wheel genre. It was not until the sport finally figured out how to keep their drivers alive and in one piece that we saw major non-automotive corporate sponsors consider the sport safe enough to put their names on racing cars and thereby fuel the phenomenal growth seen in motorsports since the late 60s. Sponsors want to be associated with winning. Not the weekly funerals of race car drivers.

Under CART’s management and, in my opinion, due mostly to tougher vehicle construction standards than found in the IRL, the death toll plummeted even while speeds escalated to levels unimaginable during the USAC managed years ( hundred year old men managing a 200 mile per hours sport ). Yet when we look at the numbers of drivers seriously injured in the IRL vs. CART, and even NASCAR, we find the number disproportionately higher for the IRL. Why? This is certainly the question many fans would like to see the mainstream press, members like yourself, ask the IRL and Tony George. But it seems this is just one of the many questions (lack of paid attendance, lack of TV viewers even on ABC and permitting the influx of CART traitors who muscled out the very teams that founded Tony’s “vision” being a couple others) that are swept under the IRL carpet for fear of angering Prince Tony.

Every time a newspaper like yours publish the factually inaccurate, highly spun, blatantly misleading propaganda that spews from the IRL press kit without asking some of the hard questions, you help to perpetuate the very environment that has injured so many drivers in the IRL, and damn near killed Kenny Brack. Maybe now some of the hard questions will be asked and the IRL myth debunked and shown for what it is: one big support race for the Indy 500. Respectfully, J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois   10/13/03 - This Dallas Fort Worth article pretty much sums up what most of us thought on Sunday - Admit it, you thought he was dead. We all did.  In the stands, there were 105,000 70,000 hushed voices and held breaths. In his native Sweden, Internet users up past midnight posted 88 frantic queries on a Web site forum. And in the eerily quiet infield, I pondered the grim reality of transforming a sports column into an obituary.  Fortunately, after a horrific, haunting accident that cast a chilling pall over Texas Motor Speedway, Kenny Brack is alive. If not well.  In serious condition at the Level 1 Trauma Center in Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital, he has a concussion. He has multiple injuries to his extremities. And, amazingly, he has a pulse.  With 12 laps to go in Sunday's Chevy 500 IRL season finale, fans were excitedly on the edge of their seats. The race, and the series' season title, were up in the air. Then suddenly, shockingly, so was Brack's car.  Just like that, a victory party almost became a funeral.

10/13/03

Brack's first surgery a success  IRL IndyCar Series driver Kenny Brack underwent successful surgery on his right femur and both ankles Oct. 12 at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, said Dr. Henry Bock, director of medical services for the Indy Racing League. Dr. Brian Estridge, a trauma surgeon, and Dr. Charles Reinert, an orthopedic surgeon, performed the surgery. Brack remains in serious, but stable condition and is awake and alert, Bock said. Brack suffered a fractured right femur, a fractured sternum and lumbar and fractures to both ankles in an accident on Lap 188 of the Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the final race of the 2003 IndyCar Series season. More surgery is coming.  "We are very happy to see how Kenny was in such good condition after the surgery on Sunday," said Rahal, the 1986 Indy 500 winner. "He came through with flying colors. The doctors are very optimistic. We are thankful for the great efforts of the doctors in the surgery and the IRL safety crew at the track. Thank goodness the Dallara chassis was so strong in that kind of crash. It has been so heartwarming for Anita and all of Team Rahal to receive so many calls of concern and for best wishes on Kenny's condition. We thank everyone for their support."  Further updates on Brack's condition will be provided when available. 

10/13/03

CART should race on Vegas streets, not oval  This Las Vegas Review Journal article says, Motorsports growth in Southern Nevada cannot be dependent on the ebb and flow at the speedway. Our racing world needs to diversify. This is a special-events town. That's why Gentilozzi should pass on racing at the speedway's oval and instead work to secure a suitable venue adjacent the Strip for a temporary street circuit. The speedway then can focus on bringing the IRL back to the 1.5-mile tri-oval in 2005 for the first time since 2000 and have both races in Las Vegas on the same weekend. Toss in CART's and the IRL's developmental series. Have Trans Am run as a CART support race and maybe put the Supermodified Racing League and USAC series on the speedway's Bullring. Create an open-wheel racing festival for 2005, a four-day weekend that could attract visitors and give each series something to shock the sports-business and racing worlds. It would be a monumental project. It will take something extreme to get open-wheel racing back on the front page.

10/13/03

Vickers to drive final 4 races    Brian Vickers will drive the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet in the final four NASCAR Winston Cup Series races of 2003 it was announced today by Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick.

Vickers will succeed Joe Nemechek, who was named driver of the No. 01 Winston Cup entry this afternoon. Nemechek, 40, will compete at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in the No. 25 Chevy before moving full-time to MB2 Motorsports the following week at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"This opportunity affords both Brian and Joe the chance to get a jump on next season with their new teams," Hendrick said. "It's something that we all feel is mutually beneficial for the drivers and organizations alike.

"Joe led the No. 25 team back to Victory Lane and handled himself like a genuine professional from Day One. We truly appreciate everything he's done for Hendrick Motorsports, both on the race track and off."

Originally scheduled to drive the No. 01 car in the final four Winston Cup events of 2003, Vickers will pilot the No. 25 Chevy at Atlanta, Phoenix, Rockingham, N.C., and the season finale at Homestead, Fla. He will drive the car full-time next season with primary sponsorship from GMAC Financial Services.

Vickers, who will turn 20 on Oct. 24, made his Winston Cup debut at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday, starting 20th and finishing 33rd in the No. 60 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy. With five races remaining in 2003, the Thomasville, N.C., native is currently second in the NASCAR Busch Series championship standings with three victories and 18 top-10 finishes.

10/13/03

Lowe's TV rating   The Winston Cup race from Lowe's Motor Speedway turned in fast national numbers of a 4.5 rating and 8 share, good enough for third place behind FOX (6.7/12) and CBS (5.8/11). The tough competition on FOX was the fourth game of the Cubs-Marlins National League Championship Series.

10/13/03

***Reader Opinion***OSHA should shut down the IRL   UPDATE Readers respond - Dear AR1, While I agree wholeheartedly with everything posted here regarding the IRL and the horrible safety history they've had, let's not overlook the fact that Kenny survived probably the worst crash most of us have ever seen. I, too, was watching the CART race, but was flipping to the IRL race during commercials. I did see the accident happen, and my immediate reaction was that whoever it was would not survive. I think those involved in the general safety matters involved in ALL of open wheel racing need to be commended. I can't help but think that the HANS device, the relatively new concept of cockpit surrounds for the driver's head, and the lessons learned by the chassis manufacturers over the last few years by pounding their cars against walls (repeatedly, in the cases of Dallara and G-Force) - a lot of people are responsible for Kenny making it through that hideous accident. While I don't like their series, and I don't get to enjoy watching them work much anymore, I do genuinely like a lot of the drivers in that other series. It's good to know that they've been given a pretty good chance to survive the inevitable catastrophic accidents inherent to running those speeds at those tracks. Let's hope Dr. Trammell can work his magic with Kenny. Tony Olufson, St. Paul, MN  Another reader writes, The fact that Kenny is alive attests to the protection given to the drivers by the cars. It’s the fans that are at risk – more at some tracks than at others. Long Beach and California Speedway seem to have adequate double fence protection. But I was amazed at the minimum amount/height of the fencing at Portland International. The fences are low along the straight-away. And there is no fencing in front of the stands at the final turn: A disaster waiting to happen. And the last thing open wheel racing needs is to get the government involved. I saw a show about the design and construction of the Boeing 777. They said Boeing reviewed every air plane accident that ever happened and then built the 777 so as to withstand whatever caused those previous accidents. Track promoters need to watch the tape of every prior race car accident, and ask what would happen if those accidents had happened at their track. In the meantime, race fans should choose their seats with safety in mind. I do. At Portland I moved our group away from the great seats we had at the final turn. Jeff Skinner, California  10/13/03 - A reader writes, Dear AR1, Referencing Bill Thomas’ letter concerning the horrific injury rate suffered by drivers in the IRL, I can’t help but wonder what OSHA might think if they were suddenly inundated with letters from motorsports fans complaining about the “unsafe” working conditions THESE employees must put up with each time THEY go to work! Yes, I understand this is a high risk sport were talking about not your average 9 – 5 grind at the local plant, mill, grocery store or office complex. But those race cars and the race tracks they run on ARE those driver’s offices and if the safety of those offices is not up to par with that in F1 or CART then Tony’s little side show should be shut down until they are. J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois  Dear JN, Imagine if that accident had occurred on the front straight where all the people were seated?  The accident tore a big hole in the backstraight/Turn 3 fence and sent parts flying everywhere.  A lot of fans could have been injured if they were seated near the accident.  It reminds us of Bobby Allison's accident at Talladega years ago that tore down the catch fencing in the tri-oval.  NASCAR took immediate action to slow the cars down.  Although OSHA would be very concerned about the safety of the drivers, we would think the insurance companies, in seeing once again how horrific the crashes can be on high-speed ovals with non-fendered open-wheel cars, would either significantly raise the track's insurance premiums or not offer a policy at all until the problem is fixed.  As a sport we can't be injuring fans.   Unfortunately, the only real fix may be to shut the entire series down, forcing the IRL to add fenders to the cars so they can safely run wheel-to-wheel on these high-banked tracks.  The IRL likes to tout wheel-to-wheel racing, and 100% throttle racing certainly leads to close finishes. The down side of course is the alarming injury rate and the destruction of very expensive race cars.  Imagine the medical bills to fix Brack's badly broken body, and do you think Team Rahal has to buy an entire new car now?   Mark C.

10/13/03

TV money helping ISC   In the most recent quarterly earning release from International Speedway Corp., company president Lesa France Kennedy said, "We are pleased to report another quarter of record results on a comparable basis.  Higher broadcast and media rights fees remained a key driver of revenue growth, and we continued to draw large crowds for our events highlighted by seven sold-out major events during the quarter. Spending by our corporate partners also increased for the quarter, and we expect growth in this category for the remainder of 2003."

She added, "As we look forward to 2004, we are excited about several opportunities to grow our business. From a media perspective, NASCAR domestic television broadcast rights fees are expected to increase 21 percent over 2003. On the sponsorship side, only three of our Nextel Cup race entitlements remain open compared to six open Cup entitlements at this time last year. Recently signed major entitlement renewals have been reached with Subway at North Carolina and Carolina Dodge Dealers at Darlington. PR Newswire

10/13/03

Clear says Villeneuve will be back  This Autosport.com article says, The man closest to Jacques Villeneuve since he came into Formula 1, race engineer Jock Clear, thinks the 1997 World Champion has not finished with F1.

One suggestion in Suzuka was that Villeneuve's non-appearance in the final race of the season had its root in mentor Craig Pollock's knowledge of Jacques' psyche. Jacques father, Gilles, went to Zolder in 1982 carrying the emotional baggage of what he considered to be a betrayal from team mate Didier Pironi a fortnight earlier. He was determined to humiliate Pironi in Zolder, took a risk in qualifying, and was killed. Villeneuve is the same age as his father was then and, Pollock knew, upset at having been dropped by BAR in favour of Takuma Sato.

"I've never thought of it exactly that way," Clear said on Sunday night, "but Jacques did say to me: 'my heart's not in it, I'm not focused and that's when you get hurt.' Those were his words. He's the kind of man who's big enough to take all the flak that missing this weekend is going to throw at him. He'll lie in bed and think: I'm still alive and I didn't take the risk that I didn't need to."

Clear thinks he will be back. "Absolutely. People are saying to me that it's so sad for him to go this way but in his mind that isn't the end. He'll be back and he should be back."

10/13/03

BAR inspired by Jacques departure Takuma Sato only received notice that he would be racing at Suzuka on Tuesday when an angry Villeneuve pulled out of the race after being told that his BAR contract wouldn’t be renewed.

"Taku didn't put a foot wrong," David Richards told AFP. "We had discussions on the radio for him to pick up the pace when we saw him dropping off a little bit and he picked it up to exactly the time we asked him to. Towards the end we were telling him to take it down a little bit, and race engineer Jock Clear was there absolutely marveling at him. He really couldn't believe the race the guy was driving."

Villeneuve, with whom Clear has worked for the past seven years, will not be particularly happy when he hears that. Nor could Richards resist suggesting that the result at Suzuka had vindicated the 1997 World’s Champion axing – and even claimed that it was inspired by Villeneuve’s departure.

"I think the team rallied round very well and if you sense the atmosphere you'll see that the team looked at it in an extraordinarily positive light as an opportunity to show that it is not a team built around one individual,” said the BAR Team Principal. "I think the new start is now very clear for everybody and anyone who questioned the ability of our new driver line-up or the potential of all the ingredients we've got, those doubts have been dispelled."

10/13/03

SPEED Channel to broadcast Petit LeMans  The SPEED Channel will have seven hours of live coverage from Saturday’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the season-ending event for the American Le Mans Series. The professional sports car racing series will close its 2003 campaign with an endurance race that covers 1,000 miles, or 10 hours, whichever comes first on the 2.54-mile road racing circuit located in the Georgia hills north of Atlanta. Both driver and manufacturer championships are on the line and will be determined in the event. The race starts in late morning and ends well after darkness, creating the effects of flaming exhaust, glowing brakes and glaring headlights that sports car racing fans love. With the length of the race, SPEED Channel is beefing up its normal crew of announcers for American Le Mans Series racing, with sports car racing anchor Leigh Diffey joined by Bob Varsha for play-by-play. Also joining the telecast will be David Hobbs, who normally works on SPEED’s Formula One telecasts as an analyst, supplementing SPEED road racing analyst Bill Adam. Covering the action in the pits will be Calvin Fish, Martin Haven, Andrew Marriott and Brian Till. SPEED’s coverage begins with a pre-race show at 11 a.m. (ET), with the race getting underway at 11:30 a.m. SPEED will leave Road Atlanta at 12:30 p.m., but will return at 3 p.m. for three hours of coverage. After leaving at 6 p.m., the cable network will return at 7 p.m. and will be on the air until 9:30 p.m., covering the finish of the race as well as post-race activities.

10/13/03

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10/12/03

CART attendance in Mexico smashes records  We told you it was a complete sellout didn't we? The Mexico City Grand Prix set a three-day CART attendance record of 402,413, breaking the previous mark of 351,970 set last year at the event. Joseph Heitzler, president of the organizing company GRAND, said 221,011 people attended the race Sunday, 113,081 during Saturday's qualifying and 68,321 on Friday. Sunday's figure was also a race-day CART record. With those figures, he said the race has become "one of the world's largest motor racing events."  Heitzler said he had no immediate figures on how many of those tickets had been unpaid gifts, but estimated it would be about 1 percent. [Editor's Note: 402,413 for the weekend is probably more than the Indy 500 gets the entire month of May.]

10/12/03

***Reader Opinion***Has the IRL destroyed the face of open wheel racing?   A reader writes, Dear AR1, I cannot be as civilized as the last reader regarding injuries in auto racing, and in particular the IRL. It's amazing to me how the IRL has managed to completely destroy the face of open wheel racing in America. Now most would say this is an old argument, but there are many facets of this argument that haven't been explored. When this period of racing is looked back upon by historians, one of the things they will see is how the injuries caused by unsafe racing in the IRL changed the face of availability of drivers, and destroyed the careers of several young and/or promising drivers.

All forms of racing see accidents, injuries and deaths, but will there ever be a period that was considered a 'modern time' (meaning carbon fiber tubs, and ultra-safe cars) that history will look back on and see so much carnage other then this period in the IRL?  No wonder Gil is retiring with a few good years left in him. It's the safest thing he can do. Bill Thomas

10/12/03

Kenny Brack update 2 - Broken back, leg, ankles    IndyCar Series driver Kenny Brack is in serious and stable condition at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, said Dr. Henry Bock, director of medical services for the Indy Racing League. Brack suffered a fractured right femur, a fractured sternum and lumbar and fractures to both ankles in an accident on Lap 188 of the Chevy 500 Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway. Brack suffered fractures of the L-3 spinal vertebra, right femur (leg), both ankles and the sternum and was in surgery on Sunday night to repair the femur and both ankles. Surgery is scheduled on the vertebra in the next few days.  He is awake and alert and will undergo surgery on the femur and both ankles tonight. Prior to Sunday night's surgery at Parkland Hospital, Brack talked to his team owner Bobby Rahal, fellow racers Michael Andretti, Bryan Herta and Dario Franchitti as well as several of the Team Rahal team members. "He kept asking me, 'what happened,'" said Anita Brack. "He was happy to see his friends and Team Rahal family. Now we have to make sure he gets well."  The next medical update will be available Oct. 13.  [Editor's Note:  We have updated our driver injury list since the IRL was created.  Alarming isn't it?  Now you know why most drivers would prefer to be in CART.]

10/12/03

***Reader Opinion***Wake-up call to any IRL driver   A reader writes, Dear AR1, I was comfortably nestled on my sofa this afternoon watching the CART race from the venerable Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, when I got a frantic phone call from a friend. The shaken voice on the other end of the line said in hushed and somber urgency to turn to the IRL race because of a horrific accident involving Kenny Brack. When I saw the massive hole in the backstretch fence, no sign of Brack's car, and heard Bob Jenkins very emotionally rattled voice, I feared for the worse.

Then I saw pictures of the emergency crew working over Brack. It reminded me of Imola, May 1, 1994 and Ayrton Senna. Then I saw a re-play of the accident and felt somewhat relieved because I knew that ESPN would not replay a "fatal" accident. The accident was a combination of Alessandro Zampedri's 1996 Indy 500 crash and Krosnoff's accident at Toronto '96. Still I was concerned.

I like Kenny Brack because of his low key anti-political style. He never bashed CART going out the door like Andretti, or became a PR clown like Helio. Several thoughts came to my mind: (1) What would have happened if this accident had occurred on the front straightaway where the 35,000 or so spectators were sitting?; (2) Racing cars at this track is stupid. It's already crippled Davey Hamilton and cut off Sam Schmidt's toe (before his big accident at Walt Disney World).  It is simply dodging bullets or better yet, a fatal accident waiting to happen. And today it nearly happened! We are lucky Kenny survived.

The injury toll for IRL in 2003 includes serious concussions and broken bones to Gil de Ferran, Roger Yasakawa, Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Craig Dollansky, Arie Luyendyk, Airton Daire, Felipe Giaffone, Vitor Miera, Tom Wood (IPS), and now Kenny Brack!  I can only wonder what Dario Franchitti and his lovely and talented wife are thinking as he ponders a return to Andretti Green Racing? I have a strong feeling about what Mrs. Brack is now thinking! This is ABSOLUTE MADNESS. Silly and downright dangerous. Let's hope Dario comes to his senses and Kenny Brack fully recovers and retires.  Mordichai Rosen, LA, California

10/12/03

Kenny Brack update 1   This Sportsline.com article shows photos of Bracks violent crash and says, race winner Gil de Ferran and new IRL champion Scott Dixon had subdued celebrations as they awaited word about seriously injured Kenny Brack. Brack suffered multiple fractures at the season-ending race at Texas Motor Speedway when his car was hit from behind and pinwheeled into the air. The car broke apart when it slammed into the 12-foot steel catchfence at the top of the 39-inch concrete wall on the backstretch. De Ferran, driving in his final race, was working hard to hold off the tenacious Dixon when the crash came with 12 laps left in the Chevy 500. The race proceeded under a caution for seven laps and ended five laps before its scheduled 200-lap finish. Brack was airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital after being removed from what was left of his car, which was hit by Tomas Scheckter. Brack was in serious but stable condition; Scheckter was uninjured.

10/12/03

7-Eleven renews with Andretti-Green   Officials with 7-Eleven announced Sunday that they had renewed their sponsorship agreement with Andretti-Green Racing for 2004.  7-Eleven will again serve as the primary sponsor on the No. 11 Tony Kanaan car.

10/12/03

Salo tops morning warm-up in Mexico  PK Racing's Mika Salo was fastest in this morning's warm-up in Mexico City.  Title rivals Tracy, Junqueira and Jourdain were 4th, 5th and 9th. Darren Manning and Patrick Carpentier were 2nd & 3rd.  Mark C.

10/12/03

Audi teams ready for title fight at Road Atlanta  The 1000-mile race at Road Atlanta ("Petit Le Mans") will decide the outcome of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) championship battle this coming Saturday. The Audi customer teams Infineon Team Joest and ADT Champion Racing fight for the Drivers´ and Teams´ titles with their Audi R8 sportscars at the ninth and final race of the 2003 season. Audi has already prematurely wrapped up the American Le Mans Manufacturers’ Championship.

With their 14-point advantage, the two Germans Frank Biela and Marco Werner, start the final round of the title fight as favorites. Following five victories this season, a brace of second places and a third position, the two Infineon Team Joest drivers must reach the checkered flag - or complete at least 70 percent of the race distance, to be classified in the results. In this case, Biela/Werner would still be champions even if JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert win.

It is however, much more easily said than done. "We know that in such a long race a great deal can happen," said Frank Biela. "And nothing untoward should happen." In addition, Team Director Reinhold Joest has issued clear instructions: "Driving just to finish is absolutely out of the question for us. We want to welcome the Winter break with a victory."

That is why Frank Biela and Marco Werner have elected not to take any unnecessary risks during the opening stages of the race. "As soon as we have completed 70 percent of the race distance, we go on the attack," explained Marco Werner. "Anyhow, the moment of truth normally occurs during the last couple of hours in this race."

The situation for Team ADT Champion Racing is completely different: The three time winners this season must win the race in order to preserve their title chances. "Our chances are, however, rather small because we can only become champions if Frank and Marco don’t finish the race," said Lehto.

His team colleague Johnny Herbert only has a mathematical chance of winning the championship. The Briton has three points less than the Finn does, as he competed for another team at the opening race of the season at Sebring. "It would therefore be nice to win one of the ‘big’ sportscar races this year", said Herbert.

A total of 40 sport prototypes and GT sportscars have entered the season finale. The race starts on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. local time. In the past years, the Audi works team has won the "Petit Le Mans" race three times in succession.

10/12/03

A lap around Road Atlanta  The American Le Mans Series will complete its 2003 season with the sixth annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Oct. 15-18. In this first-person narrative, JML Team Panoz driver Gunnar Jeannette of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., describes how he drives a lap of the 2.54-mile circuit in the Panoz LMP01 Prototype. The Panoz team is headquartered at Road Atlanta and Jeannette has driven many laps of the circuit in both racing and testing.   More....

10/12/03

Reynards to the front  Not only did Tiago Monteiro qualify fastest on Saturday, another rookie, Ryan Hunter-Reay was 2nd fastest, also in a Reynard.  Why are the Reynards competitive here in Mexico?  Three reasons - 1) They have less drag which helps them down the very long main straight, 2) The Lola is usually faster because it generates more downforce from its underbody.  Here in the thin air of Mexico City, the underbody is less effective, putting more premium on mechanical grip, 3) Because the track is bumpy, the seal of the underbody is being disturbed and because the Lola relies heavily on this, it is affected more.  Mark C.

10/12/03

News tidbits from Mexico City Sunday morning 
So far the weather looks good, but there is a slight threat of a shower.  Temperatures will be in the 70's.

Resurrecting a tradition that harkens back to the late, great Mark Donohue and the early 1970s, the CART Champ Car World Series will see today's Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa wrapped up by a checkered flag being waved trackside along with another set of checkers waving from the customary starter's stand.

Former CART starter and current series Clerk of Course Jim Swintal will signal the end of Sunday's 70-lap race by waving the checkered flag from pit wall, ending the race in conjunction with the flag being waved by current starter J.D. Wilbur. This marks the first time that a CART event has been flagged from trackside, and is the first time that a Champ Car race has seen a trackside flag since Mark Donohue won the 1971 Pocono 500.

Today's event, which will be led to the green flag by current Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford points leader Paul Tracy, begins at 3 p.m. local time (4 p.m. Eastern) and can be seen live on SPEED Channel in the United States.

The post-race ceremonies are going to be spectacular.  They rehearsed for hours last night.  Look for the world's largest Mexican flag to be unfurled.

They opened up a few thousand more super General Admission tickets yesterday and they sold within minutes.  That's it.  The grandstands are sold out and there are not even any more G/A tickets left according to one Grand employee we talked to.  It's quite possible we could see around 200,000 in attendance today, up from 175,000+ last year.  This race is destined to become one of the biggest races in the world.  Why?  Because the drivers are the stars in Mexico.

10/12/03

Paddock News from Suzuka Sunday 1 

PETER SAUBER has backed fellow F1 chief David Richards' decision not to force Jacques Villeneuve into his BAR-Honda cockpit this weekend. 'A highly motivated [Takuma] Sato will definitely be faster in Japan,' he told Blick, 'than a Villeneuve in a bad mood.'

Mercedes' NORBERT HAUG reckons it will be 'unacceptable' if the bad weather of final qualifying ruins Kimi Raikkonen's chances of becoming F1's youngest-ever world champion. 'It's a pity when the weather decides the order of the grid,' the German said of the 23-year-old's 8th on Saturday.

Is JARNO TRULLI the unluckiest man in Formula One? Renault's director of engineering, Pat Symonds, thinks so. 'What can I say?' said the Briton after Friday's fastest was forced to abandon his qualifying lap in the rain and will start the Japanese GP from the rear of the grid. 'We just called him in after his out-lap to save fuel for the race.'

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA smiled that there are 'no guarantees' that he won't - again - crash into his Ferrari pal Rubens Barrichello at the start of today's Japanese Grand Prix. 'Now it's my chance to put him off,' laughed Barrichello, on pole and one position ahead of the Colombian. 'I'll wait for him at the first corner and then steer into him!'

10/12/03

Paddock News from Suzuka Sunday 2 

In the last sector of DAVID COULTHARD's final qualifying lap yesterday, good enough for 7th (ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen), a piece flew off the Scot's McLaren racer. 'It was a bit of deflector,' said the 32-year-old, 'but it didn't affect my time at all.'

KIMI RAIKKONEN, who needs to win today's grand prix to become world champion, looked on the bright side of qualifying just eighth in Japan. 'At least Michael is not on pole,' the Finn smiled of Schumacher's 14th.

Jordan's technical head GARY ANDERSON was also forced to look on the bright side of a dismal showing for his runners in Suzuka - 15th and 16th on the grid. Both cars (Ralph Firman and Giancarlo Fisichella) are directly behind probable world champion Michael Schumacher. 'At least we can expect a bit of TV coverage on the grid and at the start,' said the Irishman.

10/12/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items 

Renault Offer Villeneuve F1 Lifeline?
Dennis Brands F1 Team Chiefs 'Naïve'
Bridgestone Confirm BAR Request
F1 Teams Rejected 'Whole Chassis' Plan
BAR Resolve Dispute With Sponsor
Coulthard Fears For Villeneuve's Future
Suzuka's Fastest Refuse To Complain

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