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DATE

News (chronologically)

10/24/03

New Panoz coupe ready for LeMans  JML Team Panoz has completed the final shakedown of the newly badged Panoz GTP coupe in preparation for the forthcoming Le Mans 1000km on the Bugatti circuit on November 9.  Olivier Beretta and David Saelens both got the chance to sample the car this week which is being pressed into service for the first time since 1998.

The car is similar to the original Panoz GTR which ran to the GT1 specifications of the time. Modifications made to the Panoz LMP-01 last year including a new lighter gearbox and paddle shift system have been incorporated into the coupe for the first time.

Like the 1998 version, the new GTP class car will run on Michelin tires - the brand which led every lap of the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hour.  The car will be powered by a similar Elan Power Products engine as used by the JML Team Panoz squad throughout 2003. However, it will enjoy additional horsepower thanks to the larger restrictors used in the GTP class.

The car will leave for France next week in preparation for the 1000km race - a new event which acts as an opener for the new Le Mans Endurance Series which will be raced in Europe in 2004.

10/24/03

CART statement on Tony Renna  From the other side of the world in Australia, the news is a bit late in arriving sometimes - Chris Pook had this to say about the death of Tony Renna - "Everyone in the Champ Car community was shocked and saddened upon learning of the tragic death of Tony Renna on Wednesday. Tony competed for six years in CART's Barber Dodge Pro Series and Indy Lights Series from 1995 to 2000 and was primed to be one of the sport's future stars. We would like to express our condolences to the family, fiancée and friends of Tony Renna over this untimely loss."

10/24/03

Michael Lewis fastest in 2nd round practice    Michael Lewis found the right line around the Isla Grande temporary airport circuit, and turned in the fastest time during second-round practice for the Puerto Rico Grand Prix Friday in San Juan. Lewis, driving the No. 12 Westward Tools Car Available at Grainger, turned 1:06.179-minute lap at 87.307 miles per hour around the 1.6-mile circuit.  Rookie Bobby Sak (No. 10 Revolution Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette) was second fastest, ahead of Wally Castro in the No. 3 Puerto Rico Lotteries Jaguar XKR. Jorge Diaz, Jr. was third fastest in the No. 8 Don Q Rum Jaguar XKR, followed by Tomy Drissi (No. 5 Stuck on You, The Movie Jaguar XKR).  “I think it’s just a race to find grip,” said Lewis, who pilots one of two Jaguar XKRs powered by a fuel-injected engine. “We found some grip, but the car is constantly changing. The track gained some grip, and will probably continue to gain grip. If it rains, we’ll just have to start over again. I didn’t think the car was that great. I guess we were just not as bad as everyone.  “The track is still a little dirty,” added Lewis. “Off line, it’s just horrible. You have to go off line to pass anyone. But they’re working on it, and it should be fine on Sunday.”  Qualifying for the Puerto Rico Grand Prix is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 25) from 12:40 p.m. to 1:25 p.m. The Puerto Rico Grand Prix will start at 2 p.m. AST on Sunday, Oct. 26 and will air LIVE on SPEED Channel at 1 p.m. EST.

Pos.  No.  Name  Make & Model  Best-Lap-Time
1  12  Michael Lewis  Jaguar XKR  01:06.179
2  10  Bobby Sak(R)  Chevrolet Corvette  01:06.608
3  3  Wally Castro  Jaguar XKR  01:07.360
4  8  Jorge Diaz, Jr(R)  Jaguar XKR  01:07.526
5  5  Tomy Drissi  Jaguar XKR  01:07.662
6  23  Bob Ruman  Chevrolet Corvette  01:07.802
7  49  Randy Ruhlman  Chevrolet Corvette  01:07.901
8  72  Edison Lluch(R)  Chevrolet Corvette  01:08.109
9  03  Luis Mendez(R)  Chevrolet Camaro  01:08.132
10  86  John Baucom  Jaguar XKR  01:08.395
11  88  Felix Serralles(R)  Jaguar XKR  01:08.961
12  2  Don Sak  Chevrolet Corvette  01:09.881
13  15  Jeff Emery  Chevrolet Corvette  01:10.363
14  06  Joey Scarallo (R)  Chevrolet Corvette  01:10.646
15  22  Axel Rivera(R)  Ford Mustang  01:10.767
16  07  Claudio Burtin  Ford Mustang  01:11.479
17  59  Simon Gregg  Chevrolet Corvette  01:11.621
18  38  Juan Vento(R)  Oldsmobile  01:12.101
19  43  George Nolte (R)  Ford Mustang  01:12.366
20  45  Marvin Jones (R)  Mangusta  01:12.549
21  36  Peter Rogal(R)  Jaguar XKR  01:18.309
22  20  Garrett Kletjian (R)  Chevrolet Corvette  02:15.323
23  7  Scott Pruett  Jaguar XKR  --:--:--.---

10/24/03

Junqueira stays fast   After heavy overnight thunderstorms, it's a spectacular morning on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia, currently 79°F/26°C under brilliant blue skies.  Provisional polesitter Bruno Junqueira kept the pressure on, recording the fastest lap of the weekend in Saturday morning's practice session in Surfers Paradise.  Points leader Paul Tracy was 5th fastest.  In between were Adrian Fernández, Alex Tagliani and Sébastien Bourdais. Next up is final qualifying.  Photo by Dan Boyd/LAT/CART

10/24/03

Johnson Control sales up   Johnson Controls Inc. (Alex Tagliani sponsor)  on Wednesday reported record quarterly earnings, fueled by new automotive interiors business and stronger sales of commercial building systems. The fourth-largest U.S. auto parts maker said its net income in the fiscal fourth quarter rose to $220 million from $191 million a year ago. The Milwaukee-based company, which is benefiting from a push by automakers to upgrade the quality of their vehicles' interiors, said its fourth-quarter sales climbed to $6.0 billion from $5.2 billion. Automotive sales increased 18 percent in the fourth quarter, driven by new interior systems business including seating, instrument panels, overhead, door and electronic components, with the weaker dollar contributing one-third of the revenue gain. The company said a 7 percent rise in North American sales of interiors and batteries more than offset the effect of a 5 percent decline in industry vehicle production in the quarter. North American battery revenues fell slightly due to lower demand for replacement batteries in the aftermarket. Building controls group sales rose 8 percent, boosted primarily by demand in the North American non-residential facilities market. The company said its backlog of uncompleted contracts at the end of the fiscal year was 6 percent higher than a year ago, reflecting improved demand in the domestic education, health care and government markets and higher orders in Europe. Johnson Controls last week forecast 2004 sales would increase by 10 percent to 12 percent, helped by new seating, interiors and electronics business.

10/24/03

Tecate sales up   Thanks to its participation in the CART series, which is hugely popular in Mexico, the parent company of FEMSA reported a 3% domestic and 9.2% growth in exports, mainly to the US, primarily from increased sales of its Tecate and Dos Equis brands. This should help Adrian Fernández find more funding for a 2nd Champ Car in 2004.  We have already reported it is going to happen.

10/24/03
Industry News

Pook, Johnson and Atherton on SEMA panel  Veteran motorsports marketing consultant Brian Turner will moderate a seminar at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Representatives from the top US road-racing sanctioning bodies will discuss opportunities for SEMA members in the world of motorsports marketing. Turner will moderate a panel, which includes CART CEO, Chris Pook, ALMS President and COO, Scott Atherton and Steve Johnson President of SCCA.

The seminar is the first of a number of initiatives by SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association, to introduce association members to opportunities in the motorsport community. In addition to outlining their 2004 plans, the racing authorities will present a number of successful case studies of aftermarket manufacturers and distributors, who are already involved in sponsorship of the sport. The presentations will be followed by a question and answer period.

The seminar will be held in Room N254 (North Hall) of the Las Vegas Convention Center from 10:00 am-11:45 am on Tuesday Nov. 4. The seminar is open to all Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIWi) registrants.

10/24/03

Jamie Rose taken out of MotoRock business   [Editor's Note, we heard rumblings from our sources that Jamie Rose left a few unhappy people behind in Miami, and were investigating reports of bounced checks, when this report came out.  Now it all makes sense.]  According to the SPEED Channel article, Last month’s Grand Prix Americas was widely touted as a “proof of concept” for MotoRock’s idea of synergizing “cars, stars and guitars” such as the Kid Rock and Elton John concerts at the American Airlines Arena adjacent to the downtown Miami street circuit.

The concerts were expected to be a preview of what is to come in the 2004 Champ Car season, should Open Wheel Racing Series LLC -- of which MotoRock is a key component -- be successful in its bid to buy financially strapped Championship Auto Racing Teams.

While the concept may be sound, apparently MotoRock creator Jamie Rose’s business savvy was not. As a result, Rose’s role in MotoRock is being, er, redefined. Henceforth, he will be responsible for the creative side of the equation, leaving the nuts and bolts to a businessman by the familiar name of TBA. “I wouldn’t say it was a horror show,” said OWRS principal Kevin Kalkhoven of the MotoRock concerts in Miami, “but it wasn’t exactly as we had planned.... “It’s a classic start-up situation where you’ve got a highly creative guy who’s not much of a business guy. So we’re happily continuing with MotoRock. We’ve moved (Jamie) aside to be part of the creative group and we’re bringing a business-guy in to run it.”

According to Kalkhoven, the “business-guy” has been selected and will be announced in the near future.  “We have identified (him), it’ll be announced in the next couple of weeks,” he said. “We’re just going through some paperwork stuff.”

“You know me,” laughed Kalkhoven, “I’m so horribly Australian and honest!  He (Rose) screwed up the business side of it but the concerts were great, we love it and we’re carrying on and there’s not going to be any problems.” Kalkhoven also stressed the changes in the MotoRock management will have no effect on the OWRS bid to acquire CART, and that the process is continuing on track.  “There’s no change at all in anything, apart from Jamie moving sideways,” he said. “(The proxy statement) is still under the SEC review. We’re expecting their comments back shortly.

“Beyond that I really can’t say too much, because I’ve been out of touch the last couple of days (flying to Australia). But I’ll tell you this much: The organization down here in Surfers is magnificent. They’re expecting record crowds and there’s a huge amount of enthusiasm for everything.”

10/24/03

Schrader on CNN   UPDATE Ken Schrader's interview with CNN is now scheduled to run at 3:45 p.m. (EDT). It was taped today at Atlanta Motor Speedway but postponed a few hours because of news coverage surrounding the fire in Fontana, Calif.  10/23/03 - Ken Schrader, driver of the 1 800 CALL ATT Dodge, is scheduled to appear live on CNN at 11:45 a.m. (EDT) Friday, Oct. 24, from Atlanta Motor Speedway.

10/24/03
Industry News

Mario Andretti to visit New Zealand   [On his way back from CART's Surfers Paradise race....] Motorsport fans, petrol heads and celebrity spotters will get the chance to see one of the world's greatest drivers when Mario Andretti makes his first visit to New Zealand next week. Caltex is proud to bring the international racing legend to New Zealand to unveil the Caltex Havoline V8 Touring Car, which will feature in this year's V8 National Series.

Andretti, the world champion driver who took the checkered flag 111 times during his illustrious career will also make a special guest appearance at Caltex Fanshawe service station, on Fanshawe Street, opposite Victoria Park in Auckland city. He will be there from 1-2pm on Thursday 30 October to meet fans, answer questions and sign autographs.

Nine years since he officially retired from racing, 63-year-old Andretti is still very much involved in the world of motorsport. He is the international spokesperson for Havoline Motor Oils, one of the world's top-selling brands, used by leading drivers around the world.

"Mario's active involvement in motorsport, his zest for life, his charisma and the way he interacts with people of all ages, interests and backgrounds, makes him the ideal face for us," says Nick Hannan, General Manager of Caltex Lubricants in New Zealand. "He is one of the most well respected and recognized drivers in motorsport history. We're all very excited about his arrival next week and can't wait to show him some of what New Zealand has to offer."

Andretti's 14 year relationship with global parent company ChevronTexaco is a top priority for him. Over the years he has assumed the company's goals as his own and measures his success by the degree to which his work furthers ChevronTexaco's business objectives.

"Mario's involvement within us goes beyond just advertising and promotional uses. Over the years, he has developed a keen sense of how he can contribute to our company's goals and objectives, particularly regarding the issue of safety in motor racing," says Hannan. Caltex PR

10/24/03

No CART for Zonta, retains Toyota test role   Toyota's Ricardo Zonta has agreed to remain in his role as test and reserve driver for the Japanese manufacturer's Formula 1 team in 2004, according to this week's AUTOSPORT magazine. Former BAR racer Zonta joined the German-based team at the start of this season following his championship success in the Dallara Nissan World Series in 2002. It is likely that he will drive the third car during the Friday free practice sessions during grand prix weekends next year. "I did look a little bit at CART," he said, "But the situation there appears confused, so I think for me it is better to stay right here."  We have removed Zonta from our 2004 CART Silly Season Page.

10/24/03
F3000

First F3000 run for Lauda Jr.   Matthias Lauda, the son of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Niki, enjoyed his first-ever run in a Formula 3000 car at Imola in Italy today (Friday). The 24-year-old Austrian drove for reigning F3000 International teams' champions Arden, and he recorded 25 laps in damp conditions. He will test again tomorrow, when he will be joined in Arden's ranks by Jaroslav Janis. "I was quite impressed with Matthias today," said Arden boss Christian Horner. "This year was his first real season of car racing, yet he made no mistakes in difficult conditions. It will be interesting to see how he goes tomorrow when we are expecting better weather." Townsend Bell also drove for Arden today, but only completed one flying lap in the rain. Durango was the only other team present, with Yannick Schroeder.  Autosport

10/24/03

Villeneuve will race in F1 in 04 and 05   UPDATE This Pitpass article says, It's been reported elsewhere that Craig Pollock, in Australia for the penultimate round of the 2003 Champ Car series, is telling reporters that not only will Jacques Villeneuve have a drive in 2005, but that he will be testing with McLaren in 2004. Contacted by pitpass this afternoon (Friday) the Woking outfit refused to dignify Pollock's comments with any sort of official response, preferring to remind us that when Ron Dennis was asked about the possibility of Villeneuve joining his team in a recent press conference he simply burst out laughing. McLaren already has David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen under contract for 2004 along with test drivers Alexander Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa, there simply isn't room for Villeneuve. Besides which, there is absolutely no way that Ron Dennis could work with Pollock, indeed there are very few, if any, in the pitlane that would be willing to have the Scot on-board. And that's one of the biggest problems facing JV.   10/24/03 - Craig Pollock confirmed to GP2003.com at the Australian CART race today that former BAR driver Jacques Villeneuve should be in a Formula One race seat for the 2004 season, however he was refusing to give away too much information as to where the Canadian will actually be racing. On Thursday, Pollock told a press conference that Villeneuve would be testing for McLaren in 2004 and racing with an unnamed team in the 2005 season. When we approached him at the Surfers Paradise venue. the penultimate round of the 2003 CART series, Pollock confirmed that plans were well underway. "Yes, that's the situation," he told us with a smile. "The main thing is that we get him in a seat next season."

10/24/03

***Reader Opinion***An alternative to fences  UPDATE Another reader responds, Dear AR1, Just to pass along, I'm pretty sure that bulletproof glass would be cost prohibitive. A Boeing 767 front windshield which is approx 3" thick and approx 2.5' tall and 3' wide costs in the neighborhood of $42,000. This is high velocity material and we're talking about race cars not hockey. Perhaps in the future I'm sure something will be invented by the aerospace industry and they'll be the first to use it. Until then the IRL should limit HP to 500 max. or say enough is enough and shut down. Tina Erstad  10/24/03 - A reader writes, The excitement of open wheel racing has always included the dreaded 'touching of wheels' that launches a car. In light of the recent incidents (My condolences to Tony Renna's fiancée, family and friends and God-speed to you Tony. Also best wishes on a healthy recovery to Kenny Brack) there has been every type of lashing out at the open wheel series (some of it is quite justly due) at needing to make adjustments.  I believe that the upper limits of reasonable speed have been found and I think everyone- Car owners, drivers, series officials, designers and engineers, and the fans- is accepting and cognizant of this point. It appears that Tony Renna's accident much like Mario Andretti's back in May signals an urgent need to find a method of foiling the air that gets underneath these cars in order to keep them grounded. There are many intelligent, creative and resourceful people in this world so there is no excuse for failing in this task.  My greatest personal concern involves what we call "the catch fence". These primitive forms of constraint are nothing short of a shredding device. Most people fail to note or reference one of the most vicious events in our recent racing history involving the 'catch fence' as Geoff Bodine's wreck at Daytona. This to me is the defining incident.  If something should be altered to improve safety at the track, it is this fence element. My solution (though I am not an engineer nor do I have the resources to test this theory, (believe me if I could I would) is to implement the use of "bullet proof glass" in some form of construction that mounts to existing catch fence structures between eight and twelve feet above current retaining walls. The existing catch fencing would lend resistive support to the glass panel. Yes, these open wheel cars weigh +/-1500 pounds but they also do not get up into these upper fence regions at the full 200mph ranges. They are glancing blows so to speak. The cars would fall back to the track without getting torn apart by the fencing and debris would be greatly prohibited from getting into spectator areas. Tear offs could be employed to help maintain the panels clarity over time. This panel system could potentially be portable to fit each racing venue.  It is just my idea, but I believe Tony might still be with us if this type of system existed in turn three at IMS.  Gary J. Bouchard Los Angeles Ca.

10/24/03

Queensland officials confident in CART's future   This Courier-Mail article says, Late yesterday, Queensland Government and Gold Coast Indy officials met representatives of a high-powered US consortium which has stepped in to rescue the sport's governing body, Championship Auto Racing Teams.

The consortium, involving billionaire race team owners Gerry Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi and Kevin Kalkhoven, has moved to buy the financially crippled CART.......Earlier this year, CART signed a new five-year deal with the State Government and sports marketers the International Management Group, which jointly own the Gold Coast Indy. But CART hit the skids soon after, throwing the future of the event into doubt.

After meeting Mr. Gentilozzi and Mr. Kalkhoven yesterday, Sports Minister Terry Mackenroth said he was confident the Indy would continue on the streets of Surfers until at least 2008. He said the businessman had described the Gold Coast Indy as "the best motor racing event in the world".  "I think we're looking very strong," Mr. Mackenroth said.  "The new company which is moving to take over CART is looking to create a great future for the Indy car race. They're substantial people and they describe this race as the jewel in the crown of their series."

Indy drivers said they were confident the CART bail-out would go ahead and Indy's future would be assured. "This is one of the key events of our series," said Canadian driver Paul Tracy, who has family on the Gold Coast and acts as an international ambassador for the Surfers Paradise race. "It's a great race and everyone really loves coming down here."

10/24/03

Vasser thinks Champ Cars are safer   In Australia, Jimmy Vasser was quoted in this article, essentially saying he stands by the safety of the current Champ Cars, over the IRL cars. -  Jimmy Vasser yesterday defended the safety of Champ Cars following the death of driver Tony Renna in the rival Indy Racing League at Indianapolis. Renna, a 26-year-old American, was killed during a tire test session when his car slammed into the outer concrete wall at the track yesterday. Vasser, a top chance in the Lexmark Indy 300 at the Gold Coast this weekend, indicated that Champ Cars were built to strict safety standards and went through stringent wind tunnel testing. The Champ Cars, while similar to IRL cars which race exclusively in the US (except for Motegi, Japan) on oval tracks, are aerodynamically designed to reduce the possibility of the cars lifting and taking flight in a high-speed accident. "The IRL cars are flat bottom cars and while I haven't seen the accident at Indianapolis I believe it took off in the air," Vasser said. "Our Champ Cars go through all sorts of tests so that they don't take off. But really that's not the issue right now. It's a terrible thing that's happened and I just want to offer my condolences to Tony's family."  Related article

10/24/03

Hornish changes helmet colors  Penske racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. sports his new helmet colors.


Photos by Ron McQueeney/IMS

10/24/03

Lavín never turns a wheel in Friday qualifying   A gear selection problem in the first two laps of Friday morning’s first practice session resulted in gearbox damage to the #5 Corona car. CART’s rules regarding the restricted use of the back-up car eliminated the team’s option to switch cars as the primary #5 machine was repairable; however time was insufficient to fix the gearbox. As a result Lavín only turned two laps during the morning sessions. The Corona crew did change the complete gearbox assembly to eliminate any doubt in the reliability of the gearbox in time for the qualifying warm-up session. Lavín circled the track just two laps during the short session to insure the gearbox functioned properly. As Lavín did not have enough time to learn the circuit, the #5 car did not take to the track during qualifying as to not interfere with others’ qualifying efforts. “It’s a disappointing way to start the weekend, but I think we made the right decision. I simply did not have enough laps to learn the track. I don’t know the braking zones, the apexes or how the car was going to handle. Rather than try to learn the track during qualifying, hopefully the car will be OK mechanically and we can start fresh tomorrow.”

10/24/03

Blunt force killed Renna  This Indy Star article says, Race car driver Tony Renna could not have survived his crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, based on information released Thursday by the Marion County coroner's office and the Indy Racing League. Renna, 26, died Wednesday morning of blunt force injuries to his head and chest, coroner John McGoff said. The injuries occurred when Renna's cockpit split open on contact with the fence in turn three, IRL spokesman John Griffin confirmed.  Griffin said it was "impossible to describe" the extensive damage done to the tub of the G Force chassis prepared by Indianapolis-based Ganassi Racing. "And you could never imagine it," he said.

Griffin said the IRL will not begin its investigation of the crash until next week because so many key officials are in Orlando, Fla., preparing for the league's season-ending banquet Saturday night at Walt Disney World.  The IRL decided Thursday to continue with its awards ceremony at the request of Renna's family, which wanted fellow Ganassi driver Scott Dixon honored for winning his first league championship.  "Scott deserves his time in the spotlight, as much of a spotlight as he can have under the circumstances," said Mark Coughlin, Renna's manager. "We know this is tough on Scott, too, but that's what Tony would have wanted."

A public memorial service for Renna, an Indianapolis resident since last winter, will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at St. John's Catholic Church, 126 W. Georgia St. A visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. Sunday at Flanner & Buchanan Funeral Home, 1305 E. Broad Ripple Ave.  The Renna family will have a private burial, Coughlin said.

McGoff said an autopsy will be done and results released in the next six weeks only to Renna's family, per code. McGoff compared the crash to the horrific fence-climbing ride that Kenny Brack took at Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 12.

McGoff said Renna's car got into the fence above the 4-foot-high wall "and disintegrated."  "You can imagine going 220 mph into a fence," McGoff said. "It's almost like (being) in a plane crash with those kind of injuries."

Griffin said Renna's car and the debris are being stored in the league's office across the street from the Speedway. Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull said the team does not know what caused the accident because it has not had access to its onboard computer. "We weren't able to download any information from it," he said.

Most of Renna's family arrived in Indianapolis late Wednesday. Coughlin said the reality of the situation was only being absorbed Thursday afternoon.  "It's one of those things that's always in back of everybody's minds," he said of fatalities. "Yesterday was a shock; it's sinking in today."

Hull spent several hours with the family Wednesday night at Methodist Hospital. He said Joe Renna told him the IRL's show, and life, must go on.

"If you'd spend a few minutes with Tony's dad, you'd be inspired by him," Hull said. "He said something like, 'You know we're a racing family and we want you to continue to do the things that you do best. That's what Tony would do.'  "That meant a lot to us."

Ganassi's team, which has won five series championships since 1996, had never lost a driver in a crash. That's part of what makes this situation more difficult, Hull said.  "Our (drivers) crash from time to time, and we just expect them to come back to drive the car," he said. "We never expect them not to come back. We never expect this kind of reality."  Contributions to the Tony Renna Memorial Fund, which will benefit Cure Autism Now, can be made through the mail at 9201 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 204, Beverly Hills, Calif., 90210.

10/24/03

Friday attendance at Surfers 60,874   Brazil's Champ Car star Bruno Junqueira and V8 Supercar champion Mark Skaife dominated their respective qualifying sessions in front of a record day two crowd of 60,874.   Friday saw 53,287 come through the gates.  Today's crowd of 60,874 took the two-day total to 114,161 well on track to eclipse the 300,000 mark over the four days.

10/24/03

***Reader Question***Why are IRL cars getting airborne?  Two readers (both named Shaw) write, Dear AR1, I have been a race fan since I could talk.   I attend 5-6 CART races, 1 F1 race, and 1 IRL race (the Indy 500) every year. The last few weeks the IRL have raised some questions in my mind about the safety of even the spectators. The drivers I understand they take that risk every time they strap in, no matter which series they drive for. Thankfully, the last two crashes in the IRL have both occurred without any spectators in the stands. What would have been said today if there were. I want to know what the IRL is going to do about both the safety of the drivers and the fans. It is only a matter of time. I want to wish the family of Tony Renna my condolences. Keep up the good work on your site. Tim Shaw, Naperville, IL  Another writes,  It is sad that the IRL and its team owners refuse to recognize the inherent danger of this form of racing. I am sad for Tony's family. The question I have is why do these cars seems to be so susceptible to getting airborne? I have never, in all my years of watching open wheel racing, seen a series that has its cars constantly flying through the air. Mario got pretty high on his crash. What's the deal? James Shaw  Dear James, There are several theories.  Remember the Rutherford Pennzoil Car taking flight at Phoenix years ago?  It's not a new phenomenon.  The fact of the matter is that once air gets under an Indy Car, it's like a sail in the wind.  CART Champ Cars have underbody tunnels that help keep them on the ground.  The IRL car is pretty much flat bottomed (bad idea on high speed ovals) and rely on huge wings for their downforce.  Because the wings are so big, when air gets under them, the car takes off like a fighter jet with its afterburners ablaze.  Couple that with the fact that, because of the high downforce, the IRL cars have very high turn speeds.  Since most accidents happen in the turns, the crashes are that much more violent.  This is why when we hear rumors of possible commonality between Indy Cars and Champ Cars we cringe.  The Champ Car is superior in every aspect, and if CART were to agree to dumb down its cars to that of an Indy Car, it would be a huge mistake.  A Champ Car is already suitable for all circuits (chassis, brakes, suspension, engine and transmission), and so there is absolutely no reason for a Champ Car to take a big step backward.  If the two series want to merge in the future, it's the Indy Car that must morph into a Champ Car, not the other way around.  Mark C.

10/24/03

Scott Riggs to drive the #10  MBV Motorsports announced today that Scott Riggs has signed a multi-year agreement to drive the #10 Valvoline Pontiac in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, beginning with the 2004 season-opening Daytona 500. The announcement was made by James Rocco, designated team owner and senior vice president of The Valvoline Company. Riggs replaces Johnny Benson, who will complete the 2003 season in the #10 car. "Johnny Benson is a tough, talented driver with a lot of heart," said Rocco. "He gave the team its first win and is a good ambassador for Valvoline Racing. We wish him the best. Scott Riggs is a winner," Rocco said. "He is a hard-charger who has excelled in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the NASCAR Busch Series. He has the talent to compete at the NASCAR Nextel Cup level and continue Valvoline's winning legacy. I've been blessed to have had some great rides in my racing career and some great people helping me along the way," Riggs said. "I explored several excellent NASCAR Nextel Cup opportunities as well as offers to remain in the Busch Series and I decided the Valvoline Pontiac was the best place for me to be at this stage of my career. I appreciate the confidence Valvoline and MBV Motorsports have placed in me," Riggs explained. "I'm going to work with the team to get everything I can out of the cars and hope to reward them with some wins." Scott Riggs website

10/24/03

Fernández leads 2nd practice in Australia   Mexican Adrian Fernández topped the timing charts in the 2nd practice session for the Champ Cars down under.  His lap of 1:34.836 sec was 2.5 seconds faster than Paul Tracy's time set in the first session.  As the track gets rubbered in, the times are tumbling.  Alex Tagliani posted the second best time with his final lap of the session, a 1:35.136 (105.764mph). Oriol Servia was third fastest at 1:35.366 (105.509mph), with Bruno Junqueira fourth quick at 1:35.730 (105.108mph). Rookie Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five at 1:36.037 (104.649mph), just ahead of Paul Tracy who set a time of 1:36.150 (104.649) despite only doing three laps in the session.  "The car was quick right out of the box, and we set our fastest lap of the first session very early,'' said points leader Tracy. ''The track was three seconds faster and again I posted my fastest time on lap three. Unfortunately, I hit the cement wall on the following circuit coming out of turn 2, and damaged the left front suspension. It's disappointing, but the team will be able to fix it up in time for qualifying, even though there is a lot of work to do.''  Next up - first round qualifying.

10/23/03

Tracy leads opening practice in Australia   Paul Tracy led opening practice for Sunday's CART race in Surfers Paradise, Australia.  Tracy turned a lap of 1:37.283 sec to nip Bruno Junqueira at 1:37.986 sec.  Adrian Fernández was third.

10/23/03
Industry News

Homestead-Miami construction complete   The most technologically advanced track reconfiguration project in the history of motorsports is now complete. The reconfiguration of Homestead-Miami Speedway with 20-degree, variable banking in the turns as well as the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) Barrier was completed Thursday. The NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway, designed through advanced computer technology never before available to build a racetrack, becomes the first high-banked racetrack to have the SAFER Barrier on its turns.

The NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway will officially open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 am on Saturday, Oct. 25. Following the ceremony, race fans will actually be the first to drive on the new Speedway during Fans First Weekend, Oct. 25-26. The racing debut of the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway will be at the 2003 Ford Championship Weekend, the season-finales for the NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series, Nov. 13-16.

"We're thrilled to announce the completion of the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway with its computer-designed, 20-degree variable banking and the SAFER barrier," said Speedway President Curtis Gray. "Race fans have some very unique opportunities in the next couple weeks beginning with Fans First and culminating in November with Ford Championship Weekend."

The Homestead-Miami Speedway track reconfiguration project, with costs in excess of $10 million, involved increasing the track's banking to a maximum of 20 degrees in the turns through an innovative variable-degree banking system. With the variable banking system, the degree of banking increases progressively from the bottom to the top of each turn. At the midpoint of each turn, there is 18 degrees banking at the bottom, 19 degrees in the middle and 20 degrees at the top. The variable banking system is designed to create three competitive racing grooves around the track.

10/23/03

Surfers schedule (all times Eastern)  

2.795 mile street
Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia
Schedule (all times ET)
Practice 1 Oct 23 8:00 pm
Practice 2 Oct 23 9:40 pm
Practice 3 Oct 24 1:00 am
Qualifying 1 Oct 24 1:20 am
Practice 4 Oct 24 8:00 pm
Practice 5 Oct 24 11:45 pm
Qualifying 2 Oct 25 12:05 am (Live on SPEED Channel)
Warm-Up Oct 25 8:45 pm
Race Oct 26 12:35 am (Live on SPEED Channel)

10/23/03

Spectators are at risk on ovals  [Editor's Note: This article sums up the danger of racing open wheel Indy Cars on high speed ovals, not only to the drivers, but to the spectators.  It underscores why AR1 has long maintained that CART should focus on being the premier road racing series in North America.]  This RPM.ESPN.com article says, Reality is this: Indy cars aren't supposed to fly.  Not like Mario Andretti did last April at the Speedway and not like Renna, who sailed over his main chance for survival -- the revolutionary SAFER Barrier at IMS -- before being killed. Kenny Brack's spectacular flip two weeks ago at Texas was different because he ran over another competitor's wheel, much like Helio Castroneves did earlier this season at Richmond, Va.

Still, as cruel as it was for Renna and as awful as it was for Brack, one of the most troubling aspects of these accidents is the impending danger for spectators -- who don't typically go to races with the knowledge that maybe they could be killed.

 


Violent crashes and flying cars like this one in Atlanta in 2001 are not uncommon for the IRL

Open wheel racing on superspeedways, specifically the Indy Racing League brand, has become a ticking time bomb for the paying customers and that's totally unacceptable for fans to be at such high risk.  True, nothing has happened since 1998 when flying debris from crashes killed three spectators at an IRL race in Charlotte and three more fans at a CART race in Michigan.  However, luck and timing may be the only things preventing more calamity this year in the all-oval IRL.

Andretti's aerial act, caused when he ran over a small piece of debris, set an IMS altitude record as his car took off like an airplane. Fortunately for the 63-year-old legend, the top of the catch fence knocked him back onto the track and he landed rightside up with only a minor cut.

Fortunately for the Speedway, it wasn't qualifying or race day, and the south chute grandstand was empty when it was showered with pieces of carbon fiber bodywork from Andretti's car. Bottom line? He was only a couple feet from landing in the South Vista and nobody wants to envision that during May.

Brack's frightening flight, which ripped his car apart and left the 37-year-old veteran with a broken back, sternum, right leg and two fractured ankles, came during the closing stages of the IRL finale but luckily took place on the backstretch where there were no spectators. The fence was destroyed and there was a report his gearbox and right-rear suspension made it into those empty seats at Texas Motor Speedway.

The aftermath of Renna's devastating ride was captured by local television helicopters and showed how the IMS catch fence, the strongest in all of motorsports, had been decimated. Debris made it to the grandstand walkway in the North Vista, which of course wasn't occupied on this private test day. Track officials are denying that any major pieces made it through the fence.

It certainly appears the IRL cars have a problem when air gets under the nose on flat tracks like Indy. In order to get maximum performance on Indy's long straightaways, the front of the car is raised noticeably to reduce the drag. IRL rules mandate high downforce, which also creates high drag, so raising the nose reduces this drag and increases straightaway speed.

As for the 1.5-mile and 2-mile ovals, where the cars are packed together at more than 215 mph, the big fear is that contact like Brack and Tomas Scheckter had at Texas will catapult a car over the fence and into the crowd.

Which is not to say there's any less trepidation when CART races at California Speedway next month. It's the lone American superspeedway left on the Champ Car schedule, but drivers and teams always hold their breath at the oval which claimed Greg Moore in a 1999 crash.

The fans cannot be in the line of fire like they are now and it's only going to take one catastrophe, like 1955 when a car cartwheeled into the crowd at Le Mans and killed 83, to shut everything down.

After the Le Mans catastrophe -- where driver Pierre Levegh also died after catapulting into the fans -- the Swiss government was so horrified by what happened in France that it banned auto racing completely, and there has not been a Switzerland Grand Prix held in that country since.

Some IRL officials act like any criticism directed toward them is unfounded, despite the fact their series has seen 77 drivers suffer significant injuries -- including two fatalities -- in an 87-race span since 1996. But their arrogance can't blind the view and what they should have seen this season is way too many near disasters and now, a fatality.

The fact is that Indy cars must be slowed down drastically because nobody cares about track records anymore and qualifying is a non-event everywhere. The IRL can put on a good show at 40 mph less than it's running today and it's also a good opportunity to reduce aerodynamics to make the cars more challenging, if not safer, to drive.

Drivers should be steering race cars, not rockets.  We've got Cape Canaveral for launches, not the famous track at 16th & Georgetown.

10/23/03
F3000

More signs of F3000 trouble  Team Astromega, the outfit that helped Formula 1 ace Fernando Alonso make his name in Formula 3000, is quitting the category, according to this week's AUTOSPORT magazine. The Belgian squad, which is owned by former racer Mikke van Hool, has struggled to field two cars in the series this year because of a lack of drivers with full budgets. "For Astromega there will be no F3000 unless something really dramatic happens," said team manager Sam Boyle. "The team is actively looking for a buyer for the cars. There are one or two contacts." Boyle and two of the team's mechanics have already joined the new German outfit that is being set up by Formula Renault team boss Marian Hamprecht, who has bought the cars and equipment from another defunct F3000 squad, Den Bla Avis.

10/23/03

Indy doctors happy with Brack's progress  Injured IRL IndyCar Series driver Kenny Brack was moved from Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis to the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana Thursday. On Tuesday, Brack was evaluated by Dr. Terry Trammell and Dr. Kevin Scheid after his arrival to Methodist Hospital.

Brack, the 1998 IRL champion and 1999 Indy 500 winner, remains in satisfactory condition and will begin a rehabilitation program for his injuries sustained in the Oct. 12 Chevy 500 IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, said Dr. Scheid. Brack, driver of the No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Honda Dallara for Team Rahal, suffered a variety of injuries including a fractured right femur, a fractured sternum, a fractured lumbar (L-3) vertebrae and fractures to both ankles. Brack had surgery on Oct. 12 (femur and ankles) and Oct. 13 (vertebrae) at Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital.

"I'm starting to feel better each day," said Brack, the Sweden native who lives in Upper Arlington, Ohio. "I feel good about going to the rehab center now. I know the rehab will be a long process but I plan to work hard and get back to my old self."

Brack and Team Rahal released a statement on the death of driver Tony Renna: "I would like to send my deepest sympathies to his fiancée Deb, Tony's family, friends and to the Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team," said Brack. "Tony was an up and coming star in the IndyCar Series and it is a shame to lose such a talent. He will be greatly missed." "Team Rahal is saddened by the loss of Tony Renna and we send our prayers and support to his family, friends, fans and racing team," said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Team Rahal. "Tony was a bright, young racer with a tremendous future in motor racing. We will miss him."  Team Rahal

10/23/03

A sad reminder of the real risk involved  Following the death of Tony Renna Wednesday, this Indy Star article talks about the risks involved in motorsports.  What the article fails to mention is the fact that the rate of injury in the IRL is far higher than any other top auto racing series in the world (see related article) leading one to conclude that the entire series needs a major re-think.  Although Wednesday's accident occurred without anyone around Renna, the overwhelming majority of accidents in the IRL are caused because the sanctioning body has artificially created close racing with 100% throttle, rev-limited, high-downforce race cars.  Much like restrictor plate racing in NASCAR, the cars run in packs, wide-open.  Wheel-to-wheel at high speeds with cars that have fenders is one thing, but wheel-to-wheel, rubber tire-to-rubber tire racing in open wheel cars, where the slightest touch means an almost certain major crash, is nothing short of pure lunacy.  Every team owner in the IRL knows the grim statistics, as do the drivers, and they must live each day knowing the possible consequences, not only the driver injury, but the massive amount of destroyed race cars, which has made racing in the IRL an extremely expensive endeavor.

10/23/03

New tires for 2004  Goodyear plans to produce an entirely new line of tires for the 2004 season, company officials revealed Tuesday, in response to NASCAR's trim of the rear spoilers on the cars. The intent of the new car spec is to reduce reliance on aerodynamic grip and increase the utility of mechanical grip, thus, in theory, putting the racing more in control of drivers and teams. NASCAR and Goodyear have worked closely on the project since early this year. There had been speculation that Goodyear could accommodate most of the change by shuffling some of its current tire codes, but Rick Campbell, Goodyear's lead engineer in NASCAR, said the company will offer a clean sweep of the D-codes, which designate left- and right-side tires at each race. The changes are not major in most cases, Campbell said, with recompounding in most cases to produce a softer, grippier tire. For the past three seasons, in response to immense aerodynamic downforce developed by teams and manufacturers, Goodyear had hardened the tires until they had virtually no give-up at all. The change offered by NASCAR is a 3/4-inch reduction of the rear spoiler height. NASCAR estimates that the change could take away 75 to 100 pounds of rear downforce, which the teams likely will recover in time. NASCAR says it will consider further cuts. The main change for Goodyear will be in its left-side sets. That, Campbell said, will help with the loose feel in the cars as a result of diminished rear downforce. However, he added, "We will not carry over one single code into next year. This is a new construction package that's been under development the last year or so," Campbell explained. "It gives a driver a very progressive, very easy to drive kind of feel, not a knife-edge situation where you're constantly jumping back and forth between loose and tight." The first group of the new tires will be tested on the new surface at Homestead, Fla., next Tuesday and Wednesday, likely with teams not involved in the points race. If all goes as planned, the new tires will be used in the Homestead races Nov. 14-16. Speed Channel

10/23/03

CART Stars karting race at Fontana   The 2003 Snap-on.com Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow presented by RACER Magazine national karting series comes to a dramatic conclusion on Nov. 1-2 at California Speedway as part of the Champ Car racing finale. The “Stars Karting Championships” will bring some 200 young racers to the infield of the popular racing facility as part of the final event on the Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford. These gifted young drivers will be battling on a specially prepared seven-tenths of a mile circuit on the parking portion of the California Speedway infield with champions being crowned in the ICC (125 cc Shifter), ICA (100cc direct drive), 80cc Junior Shifter, Junior Super Can (100cc Clutch), Senior Class of Rotax (125cc Clutch) and the Grand Products Cadet divisions. Youngsters seeking to become the next Paul Tracy or even A.J. Allmendinger will converge on California Speedway starting with practice on Thursday (Oct. 30) followed by qualifications on Friday (Oct. 31), racing on Saturday (Nov. 1) and ICC and ICA main events set for Sunday morning (Nov. 2) prior to the 500-mile Champ Car race. Sunday’s features will be at 10 a.m. for the ICA main and 10:40 a.m. for the ICC finale. “We are expecting one of the finest fields in Stars history at California Speedway,” said Bobby Rahal, the three-time Champ Car champion and principal of the Stars of Tomorrow. “The racing in this championship will be fierce and some of the best wheel-to-wheel action seen all year in North American racing. Fans will get to see the future North American motor racing stars up close in this event. Plus there is a lot of racing awards and scholarships up for grabs as well as national titles in the Stars Championships.”   The Champ Car 'Stars of Tomorrow' presenting by RACER karting series is the official first level in CART's driver development system and an officially sanctioned series of WKA/SCCA Pro Racing. Founded by racing star Bryan Herta and now owned in conjunction with a group of racing veterans, including three-time CART champion and Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, the Stars of Tomorrow serves as the first step for the CART driver development ladder.

10/23/03

Thursday attendance at Surfers 53,287   If today's record day one crowd figure of 53,287 is anything to go by, the Lexmark Indy 300 will surpass all expectations as organizers gear up for a Spring-time sizzler on the streets of Surfers Paradise.  Although the Champ Cars don't take to the track until Friday, there was no shortage of on-track excitement to keep the crowds attention throughout the day Thursday and many drivers were able to master the 4.47 km circuit and collect early honors in the support classes.  Peter Brock showed his well-mastered wares once again to reign supreme in Nations Cup, collecting checkered flag honors ahead of Paul Stokell and Peter Hackett. Grant Denyer turned in a comprehensive performance to edge himself ahead of Glen Barnes and Damien White in Kanga Loaders V8 BRutes, while Wayne Boatwright, Peter Floyd and John Falk filled the podium on GT Performance. A drama packed Carrera Cup opening race saw another of the veteran drivers stand tall as Jim Richards took top spot ahead of Charlie O'Brien and Marcus Marshall.  Today's crowd figure of 53,287 was up from the previous record day one crowd set last year of 53,096 with more set to stream through the gates tomorrow.

10/23/03

Mika Salo does not miss Formula One   Former Toyota, Sauber and Ferrari driver Mika Salo doesn't miss Formula One, the Finn reported as he landed for this weekend's Indy 300 in Australia.  In Sydney prior to the Champ Car race on the Gold Coast, 36-year-old Salo likened the grand prix grind to a bird being trapped in a cage.  He told the country's Daily Telegraph: 'In Formula One last year I spent just 20 days at home.'

But too young to retire, Mika accepted an offer mid-season by Kevin Kalkhoven and ex-BAR boss Craig Pollock to change into Champ Car (CART) overalls.  Salo might have crashed out of his first race in Denver, but he finished third in Miami and fifth in Mexico.  Furthermore, the affable Finn will likely race full-time in the series next year and re-locate his family from Switzerland to the United States.

Salo said he was enjoying Champ Car racing more than he expected because everyone on the grid 'has a chance' of victory.  'In F1,' he said, 'probably only three teams, probably only four drivers and probably only one combination can actually win on any one day.'  In contrast, he said 'there is no [predetermined] destiny' in the CART series. See related article.

10/23/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items 

Yoong Eager For Second Chance In F1
Jean Todt Honored By University
Personnel Shake-Up At Cosworth Racing
Minardi In No Rush To Name Drivers
F1 To Stage Korean Grand Prix In 2009?
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Schu Rules Out F1 Team Management
Wilson Didn't 'Party Hard' At Season-Finale
BAR Considered Fisichella For 2004

10/23/03

Production starts on Petty movie  According to this AP article, Director Callie Khouri says preproduction is well under way for a movie telling the story of NASCAR's Petty family.  Lee Petty was a pioneer in the stock car sport, while his son, Richard, became a seven-time champion and the sport's greatest driver; his grandson, Kyle, is a longtime driving star; and grandson Adam was well on the way to stardom before being killed in a crash in 2000.   Khouri was at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. She called the Petty saga ``a very emotional story.'' She says they'll have all four generations of Pettys in the script.  Khouri, a longtime screenwriter, won an Academy Award for her original screenplay ``Thelma and Louise'' in 1991. She made her debut as a director last year in ``Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.''   The still untitled Petty family movie, which will be made by Walt Disney Studios, is scheduled to star Dennis Quaid as Richard Petty. Khouri said the next steps will be to complete casting and select locations for shooting.  She said the movie could be released as early as February 2005.

10/23/03

NASCAR news tidbits  Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Jeremy Mayfield and Christian Fittipaldi are scheduled to appear on the game show "Pyramid" next month. The show, hosted by Donny Osmond, will match the drivers with regular contestants. The NASCAR-themed shows are scheduled to be aired Nov. 10-14 in national syndication. ........Robert Underwood probably never figured he could take the place of nationally-known comedian Carrot Top. But the native of South Elgin, Ill., located just outside of Chicago, will do just that this weekend at the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway. His face will adorn the hood of the #49 1 800 CALL ATT Dodge of driver Ken Schrader and his BAM Racing team. Underwood won a nationwide consumer promotion by 1 800 CALL ATT, and will have his face on the hood of the car where Carrot Top's has been. Underwood will also be at the NASCAR Winston Cup race this weekend as guest of 1 800 CALL ATT and BAM Racing.  "This is probably going to be culture shock for Mr. Underwood," laughed Schrader, who is coming off a top-10 run this past weekend at Martinsville, Va., that was sidetracked only with tire problems right at the end of the race. He is going to be at the fastest speedway in our series with his face of the hood of a car going almost 200 miles per hour," Schrader said. "We're going to have to do everything we can to make sure he gets a good ride on this 1 800 CALL ATT Dodge."  The winner was chosen at random last week from amongst the hundreds of thousands of callers who placed collect calls using 1 800 CALL ATT during the promotion, which began right after Labor Day.  "Atlanta makes a lot more sense than, say, Martinsville for using Mr. Underwood's photo on the car," Schrader said. "At Martinsville, a lot of hoods look pretty used up at the end of the day. Have a good day at Atlanta and we can wipe the hood down and he will look good as new. Well, we might have to wipe a few bugs out of his teeth or something. We're going to give Mr. Underwood's likeness the best ride we can, and we're pretty excited about what we can do at Atlanta," Schrader said. "But no matter what, he is going to have the time of his life."  (Editor's Note: anything would be better than having to see Carrot Top on that car).......Almost two weeks ago, the Third Annual Joe Gibbs Racing Fall Fan Fest took place at the home of Joe Gibbs Racing in Huntersville. What started as a simple way to give back to the community has turned into a true festival that has grown beyond anyone's imagination. With a crowd estimated at close to 5,000, the Fan Fest was by far the largest yet. With race fans camping out in front of the shop since four o'clock in the morning on the day of the Fan Fest, their enthusiasm was as clear as the Carolina blue sky. There were numerous activities both inside and outside the race shop to keep everyone occupied, however the main attraction of the day was of course the autograph sessions by Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte and Joe Gibbs, as well as Coy Gibbs, Mike Bliss and Kyle Petty, who was also on hand with his wife Patty to accept a donation on behalf of the Victory Junction Gang Camp. "When we started this Fan Fest three years ago, we wanted to create a way for our team, drivers, and sponsors to say "thank you" to our fans," explained Dave Alpern, Vice President of Marketing for Joe Gibbs Racing. "In the process, we decided it should all revolve around kids' charities. It's overwhelming to see how the community has rallied around this, and to think of how many toys we collected and how much money will go to Victory Junction, just makes you smile. Racing is great and all, but it's helping others that really makes a difference."  And make a difference they have. The 2003 version of the Fan Fest raised a total of $25,791.25 for Victory Junction Gang Camp and Toys for Tots. In addition, 805 toys were donated by race fans that will eventually be distributed to various charities throughout the greater Charlotte area.

10/23/03

Reader letters on Tony Renna accident  [Editor's Note: These letters are an outpouring of emotion regarding the death of Tony Renna and the concern they have for the future of the sport.  This is a democratization of opinion from those who are concerned about the future of the sport (Indy car racing - both CART and IRL) because the sport is in danger if the trend continues.  Some of it may be perceived as anti-IRL .  Certainly many who wrote in are bitter about the creation of the IRL and have jumped on this opportunity to badmouth the IRL when they are down. We have been accused of using this opportunity to bash the IRL as well.  The bottom line - we stand by the facts, all the injuries in the IRL is an important issue that must be addressed, especially now that debris is entering spectator areas.  We have already witnessed the tragedy at Michigan and Charlotte.  This can't continue.  AR1 will continue to stand up for the safety of the drivers and spectators.] 

I had the pleasure of having worked with Tony while he lived in Las Vegas. During that time he impressed me with his devotion, focus, and tenacity at which he approached the goals he wished to achieve in his career and his personal life. As of October 22, 2003 he had accomplished at the age of 26 what most could only wish to in a lifetime. His new ride with Ganassi was indeed his shot at proving just what he could do. I thank Chip Ganassi for giving him the opportunity of a lifetime as I know Tony was extremely excited and looking forward to the 2004 season. Tony passed on doing exactly what he loved to do, driving racecars as hard as he could. His passion and enthusiasm touched the lives of many and was a contagious motivator. From all of us in the Las Vegas motorsport community, I wish his fiancée' Debbie Savini, his family, and those who were close to him the deepest of condolences. Open wheel racing has lost a true shining star. I will truly miss him. Ernie Beckwith  Las Vegas, NV

Dear AR1.Com, We all knew this was going to happen eventually. It was not a matter of “if” but “when.” The history of the IRL is littered with injuries and far too many close calls. It’s befitting this occurred on Mr. George’s property. This will be a perpetual reminder to The * Grandson of the pure folly that is the IRL and the price that so many have paid to further “his vision.”  A senseless tragedy. I’m sure I speak for all who love this sport in extending my deepest sympathies to Tony’s loved ones. Most Respectfully, J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois

With today's loss of Tony Renna and the several other airborne IRL cars this year (Mario Andretti and Kenny Brack to name two others) I am wondering if there is some problem with the IRL chassis aerodynamics and high speeds? In the past, the only time that a car went airborne was when wheels touched. I don't know if this is a coincidence or a major problem? Mike Seidenman Dear Mike, the IRL cars run very high downforce, which means the turn speeds are very high. When they crash, they crash at very high speeds and the results are devastating. Mark C.

I grew up in DeLand and used to go to Gators sports bar that Tony's parents are owners of.  There was always posters and racing items on the wall on the way to the rest rooms with Michael Andretti as the most noticeable.  Tony always wanted to race in the CART series and I was so sorry to see him take the IRL route.  I knew all along that this wasn't what he wanted.  Now look what happened.  Tony George's statement was a bunch of monotone what am I supposed to say BS.  This series needs to be shut down right away. Doug Ferguson

Dear AR1, I understand that details of the crash are still forthcoming, however I have to question one safety aspect of the Speedway. As the story is right now, Tony's car got airborne, hit the wall then hit the catch fence, a crash not unlike Greg Moore's. If it's true that he hit the wall first, what happened to the SAFER barrier? Did the SAFER barrier cause the car to flip into the fence, or was the SAFER barrier not installed at the point of impact?  I would imagine that the SAFER barrier would have absorbed the energy of the car greatly reducing the force with which the car then hit the fence. This post is not meant as a political jab at the IRL and the Speedway, as Tony's loss is a great loss to motorsports. Thanks. J. Gonzalez, San Dimas, CA Sorry we do not have enough evidence to comment.  Mark C.

Dear AR1, We all saw something like this happening sooner than later in the IRL. It is sad that Anton George's only interest is the "Show" and total negligence in reviewing and fixing what is wrong with his car/engine formula, claimed the life of one of his drivers. The warning went out twice and he did nothing. Now that the bullet found its target I would expect the IRL to come to a halt and do a deep analysis on what happened and I would expect Anton George to speak to the racing community and say that a full investigation would be conducted and strict measures would be taken ASAP to avoid this kind of accident in the future. Unfortunately I don't see him doing that. All I can hope is for the IRL current drivers to review their contracts and try to get out of that carnage alive and in one piece. Regards Roberto Reyes

One more thought on the Tony Renna accident. I live about an hour from Indy. My computer right now reads 48 degrees. I know it can be cold in May when the 500 is run, but why would they be testing tires on a fast flat track in this temperature? Eric McCracken, Dear Eric, The Ganassi team uses tire warmers so it should not be an issue. Mark C.

I was at Indy this year and he came in 7th. He just got a big break with Ganassi. What a shame. A few years back Mercedes sports cars started flipping at Le Mans and they shut the whole program down. Here, including Mario, cars are flipping like burgers at the concessions and these guys just continue  on like nothing is happening. This is a bad problem, and a lot of people are going to die in the stands if one of these cars ever makes it through a fence. I live in Phoenix, have PIR season tickets. During the NASCAR race, you are shooed away from the fence if you happen to linger there too long. Like, at all. During the IRL race, there are no attendants until race day and you can position yourself directly against the fence at the entrance of turn 1. Drivers take a little jink to prepare themselves for the entry to the corner. That racing line is right at that fence point, and the cars are literally a foot from the wall. The shrapnel alone would kill someone. Thank God my seats are on the top row. I'm not sure I'm going to either event now in '04. Because after being in Toronto for Krosnoff and Fontana for Moore, I'm not sure I can take it. God bless Kenny Brack. Andrew Semple

I recently sent you an e-mail stating that auto racing is a dangerous sport, that the drivers know the risks etc. etc. I just read your story about Tony Renna. It is probably the emotions of the moment, but I think you may have a valid point. I think I need to rethink my position. There have been too many injuries this year. In think of Gil, Kenny, Dario, Airton, Mario and now Tony. I think you are correct when you say something has to be done. A devoted IRL fan. Tom E.

It is simply amazing to me the things that money will buy. Once again, this month I turn to AR1 to read a headline that literally, LITERALLY, takes my breath away. Another young life, and an absolutely promising career gone. Period. Over . Like that. At some point, Honda, GM, (and yes, even YOU Cosworth), and Toyota will have to wake up and say to themselves, "...is this really a situation I want to be involved with?" The drivers are at fault too. Reading last night that Dario has resigned with the AGR team, because as Gentilozzi stated "The money was just too good...". It's sad. How many more headlines like this will it take before someone, anyone, does something, speaks out, says something, anything about the dangers involved with the IRL cars, and the series in general. Tony, the silence is now louder than a 747 jet engine. My condolences to the Renna family. I am truly, truly, saddened by your loss, by our loss, the loss of open wheel fans everywhere. Bill Thomas, Saint Charles, IL

Dear AR1, I for one am not an IRL fan. There are many reasons but the biggest is that things like this happen all to much. The formula that they have mixing high downforce and now they are adding horsepower to the cars. In 2002 it was 650 horsepower this year 700, what is next year going to be 700+? They just can't run with all that downforce, and the increasing horsepower makes it more dangerous. This is not isolated, look at what happened to Mario. When air gets under these cars they will just skyrocket. They need to do a few things to decrease the downforce, decrease the horsepower, and shut this series down before another life is lost. The next time you know it will be worse, it will happen at a sold out race (meaning INDY) and fans will be involved. Everybody involved with this series needs to take a hard look at themselves and ask is it worth it?  If they answer honestly with the exception of TG, I think it would be no. Christoph Phipps, Columbia, Mo.

10/22/03

Tracy wants championship to cap career  Paul Tracy enters this next-to-last race on the Champ Car World Series schedule with a 29-point (226-197) lead over his closest rival Bruno Junqueira of Brazil. If Tracy should clinch the title in Australia he would become the first Canadian to win a CART championship since Jacques Villeneuve in 1995.

"Winning the championship would be the fulfillment of a goal that I've had since I first started racing," remarked Tracy. "I've won 26 CART races and basically achieved all of the individual goals I've set for myself. But that doesn't mean as much as a championship for the team. That's what I'm striving for."

Tracy has a history of success on the fast street course in this splendid Australian setting. He won the Surfers event in 1995 and returned to the podium last year, with a third-place finish, just behind his current PF Racing teammate Patrick Carpentier, in a chaotic, rain-shortened race. The tricky Australian circuit has yielded 12 different winners in its 12-year history.

"We're going to try to do what we've been consistent in doing for much of the season, and that is being competitive right out of the chute and doing well in qualifying," explained Tracy. "The six times that we've won a spot on the front row, we've finished on the podium in five of the races. That's a formula were going to try to follow in Australia."

10/22/03

A statement from Ganassi Racing on Renna death  Family, friends and the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team are mourning the loss of Tony Renna following an accident during testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After the accident, Renna was immediately taken to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. He was pronounced dead on arrival. The exact cause of death has not been determined. 26-year old Tony Renna was making his debut with Target Chip Ganassi Racing during the test. He was named Oct. 1 to drive the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone in the 2004 season as teammate to 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon. Renna and Dixon were teammates in Indy Lights in 2000 when Dixon won the championship and Renna finished fifth. “Obviously, we’re mourning the loss of our driver, friend and colleague,” said team owner Chip Ganassi. “On behalf of our whole team, we send our sincere condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Tony Renna.” Information regarding funeral arrangements and memorials is pending at this time.

10/22/03

A statement from Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Renna death  “All of us here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway are saddened by the death of Tony Renna. Tony competed in several events at the Bullring in 2002 and was one of the young drivers whose career we followed closely. Tony was well respected by track officials and his fellow competitors, and he seemed destined for stardom in the Indy Racing League. Our prayers go out to his family and friends.”  Tony Renna moved to Las Vegas in 2001 and worked for the Derek Daly Academy. He competed in four NASCAR Late Model events at the Bullring in 2002, driving for car owner Dick Cobb. Renna’s teammate, Thane Alderman, won the speedway’s track championship in 2002. Renna’s best finish at the Bullring was a fourth on April 20, 2002.

10/22/03

A statement from Derek Daly on Renna death  My heart goes out to the family, friends, teammates and all who knew Tony Renna. I was first introduced to Tony through our driver development program in 1996. Prior to his IRL career, Tony worked for the Derek Daly Driving Academy as an instructor. Tony was always striving to not only become a better driver, but more importantly a better person. As a fellow driver in the world of motorsports I know how unpredictable and uncertain racing can be, but you are never prepared for news like this. I will miss Tony and all that he brought to our sport.

10/22/03

A statement from Firestone on Renna death  Quote from Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing:  "We were incredibly saddened to learn that Tony Renna lost his life today during a testing session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and his fiancé, to his team, and to his many friends and fans. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and everyone who has been touched by Tony's life.   Times like these are always difficult, and this loss in particular will be felt deeply by the Firestone family. Tony was a good friend to Firestone and had spent many hours attending events and volunteering his time on our behalf. He was always willing to give of himself or lend a hand when we called upon him, and his unselfish and giving nature makes this tragedy all the harder to bear. He was a talented driver who will be long remembered by all who knew him or had the privilege of working with him."

10/22/03

A statement from Tony George on Renna death  A statement from Tony George, president and chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, about IRL IndyCar Series driver Tony Renna, who suffered fatal injuries in a crash during Firestone tire testing Oct. 22 at the Speedway:  “Tony Renna was a rising star in IndyCar Series racing. All of us involved in racing feel a great loss. On behalf of my family and the staff of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League, our prayers and best wishes go out to his family, friends, team and fans.”

10/22/03

Tony Renna killed in Speedway accident  Tony Renna was tragically killed at 9:20 AM today in a test at the Indy Speedway driving a Target Chip Ganassi IRL car.   See story on our home page.

10/22/03
Industry News

Watkins Glen personnel change  Watkins Glen International President Craig Rust recently announced the promotions of Jon Beckman to Director of Business Development and Steve Ely to Track Operations Manager for the historic road course.

Beckman, formerly WGI's Manager of Business Development, will oversee the sales team for both The Glen and Nazareth Speedway, whose efforts are focused against developing new business partners, creating new sponsorship opportunities at both facilities and working to deliver the best possible experience for our many corporate clients. Beckman joined the staff in 2002 from the International Motor Racing Research Center. He is a native of Bath, NY, and holds a political science degree from SUNY Brockport.

Ely has been with The Glen since 1989 and takes over as Track Operations Manager from his former position as Utilities Operations Manager at both Watkins Glen and Nazareth. In this new position, Ely will focus primarily on all aspects of on-track activity, including the training of safety personnel, and will serve as the primary contact for all sanctioning bodies. Ely, a native of Watkins Glen who currently resides in Dundee, NY, is well trained for this new position, having spent ten years with the Schuyler County Ambulance and more than 28 years with the Watkins Glen Fire Department.

"I am very pleased to announce the promotion of two outstanding employees like Jon and Steve," Rust said. "Jon has proven that he can lead our sales efforts to reach new levels and Steve's extensive knowledge and work with track safety is a tremendous asset to both facilities."

10/22/03

Penske forces Hornish to come clean  The photo in this Indy Star article shows Sam Hornish sans his silly goatee.  Roger Penske always expects his personnel to make a clean professional appearance and the goatee was downright ugly.

10/22/03

F1 to follow CART into South Korea  UPDATE This Autosport article talks more about this race.  10/21/03 - As AR1 reported exclusively this past weekend, CART will be racing in Seoul, South Korea starting in October, 2004.  Now comes word (from Korea Times) that F1 will likely follow CART into South Korea five years later.  The South Kyongsang (spelled Gyeongsang on map to right) Province government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Formula One Management (FOM) for the hosting of the Korea Formula One Grand Prix World Championship in the town of Chinhae in October 2009. The Province Governor Kim Hyuk-kyu reached the deal with Bernie Ecclestone, FOM president, in London on Oct. 17. The contract for the hosting is planned to be completed in South Korea within six months.   South Kyongsang is on the opposite end of South Korea from Seoul where CART will race, so the two should not interfere with each other.  The town of Chinhae is just the the west of Pusan (spelled Busan on map to right).  Meanwhile, the 5th International Formula 3 Korea Super Prix will be held in Changwon, South Kyongsang (Gyeongsang) Province, from Nov. 18 to 23. of this year.

10/22/03

Skinner signs to drive trucks in 2004  Bang Racing announced today NASCAR Champion Mike Skinner will drive the No. 3 truck in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for the 2004 through 2006 seasons. “Mike [Skinner] is a driver we know has the ability and the drive to win the championship for Bang Racing,” said Larry McReynolds, renowned NASCAR crew chief, FOX Sports analyst and most recently chief racing architect for Bang Racing. “He was deliberately hand-picked to be the winning edge, and we are anticipating a lot of action and excitement when Mike is on the track.”

10/22/03

Loss of loyalty costs vets jobs  This Fox Sports News article talks about how the Good "Old" boys are getting pushed aside by the younger, more talented drivers coming into NASCAR.  NASCAR used to be an old mans (veterans) game, but that has changed in recent years.

10/22/03

2004 CAR count looks weak for the IRL  While CART's car count for 2004 looks very strong, it looks like Tony George may have to open his wallet again and continue to prop up the IRL, at least according to this Indy Star Q&A articleQuestion: With 2004 being the second year of the current (new) chassis and engine formula, do you see the same scramble to fill the Indy field or will there be a lot more cars available to compete? (Dick from Indianapolis)

Answer: I think there will be the same sort of scramble to fill the Indy field in 2004, especially if CART fields a series. As I write, two teams have reduced their staff to one-car operations (Kelley Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing). Hemelgarn Racing must be considered 50-50 as should Access Motorsports and PDM Racing.

Eddie Cheever isn't committing to two cars. Panther officials say two cars, but there are no guarantees even though they have talked about a third. The latter likely would be acquiring Team Menard's one-car operation.

On the other side, I don't see a big list of teams wanting to return to the IRL, like Conquest or Walker, or join as newcomers, except maybe Carl Haas. A couple perhaps. I would expect 22-24 cars per race and maybe only 33 again at Indy. But remember, it's only October, and so many things can change before the season opens Feb. 29 in Homestead, Fla.

10/22/03

Change at Cosworth  Tony Purnell, CEO of the Premier Performance Division of Ford Motor Company, which includes Cosworth Racing, today announced a range of changes at Cosworth Racing. This follows a five-month study during which he gained an understanding of the business, which he described as “complex and in many aspects truly impressive, but now faces the harsh realities of a significant downturn in the economy and particularly in, Formula One”.

Tim Routsis will be taking the reins as the new Managing Director of Cosworth Racing with immediate effect. Tim is well known within the PPD, having previously been the Managing Director of the Pi Group. Less well known is that Tim comes from both an engineering and a business background. He started and successfully ran his own software Company (Protechnic), sold this and established an aircraft restoration concern (Historic Flying Ltd.) which he sold just before he started with Pi, heading up the development of the Sigma family of control and logging systems. Tim quickly became Director of Engineering at Pi and then was invited to be Managing Director of the Pi Group a year after Ford took over in Cambridge.

Routsis will take the helm of a new structure at Cosworth Racing, which will see the confusing two-MD system dismantled. He has been asked to undertake the role because he has the ability and experience to handle both engineering and commercial issues. The move is made possible by the fact that Brendan Connor has left the Company to pursue other interests, while Nick Hayes becomes Technical Director and will report directly to Tim.

Commenting, Purnell said; “Cosworth Racing is a stronger Company today because of Brendan's direction and effort over the last two years. Many of his initiatives are to be admired and have made the company notably more efficient than when he started.”

Routsis will preside over a new management team at Cosworth, which will feature some new faces. Details will be announced in due course but one change is that Dr Adrian Chambers will join Cosworth immediately as the new Head of Manufacturing. Adrian comes from Jaguar Racing, where he has only been in post a few months, but prior to this he worked at Rolls-Royce aero engines. He brings to Cosworth impressive experience and know-how in manufacturing and has solid engineering knowledge. The present structure for manufacturing will remain in place for the present, with Adrian taking the place of Brendan Connor in directing the manufacturing effort.

In addition, Graeme Hughes and Martin Stephenson will swap roles as Finance Directors of Cosworth and Pi respectively. This will not be fully in place until early in 2004 and they will work together in the interim. Graeme and Martin already have a close working relationship, built up over a number of years and the move will bring a fresh approach to each business, as well as helping the two Companies work together in the future.

Summarizing, Purnell said; “Cosworth has a long tradition of being the absolute best in terms of mechanical engineering achievement. The new appointments are in line with this tradition, and are the start of a road map to keep the Company at the forefront in its field.”

Q&A with Purnell

What led to the decision to replace Brendan Connor with Tim Routsis and re-title Nick Hayes Technical Director?
The strategy of having two managing directors at Cosworth Racing, Brendan operationally and Nick from an engineering perspective, did not work and they both recognized that fact. The work that Brendan carried out while he was at Cosworth did a lot of good and the company is stronger as a result of that work. Change to the status quo was necessary, however.

What is Tim Routsis’ background?
Tim has a rare blend of technical and commercial ability, which means he’s been successful at whatever he has been involved with. He started a successful software company from school, which he then sold and began an aeronautical restoration business. He ran this successfully before joining Pi Research as Engineering Director, where he went on to become Managing Director.

What makes Tim Routsis the right man for this job?
Tim’s blend of technical and commercial abilities means he can relate to complex engineering problems and find solutions just as easily as he can for complex commercial, financial and business problems. Moving forward, we felt it important to have someone who’s experience spanned both disciplines. Tim is also well respected among the Ford Directors involved with Cosworth.

Could this move be construed as a vote of no confidence in Nick Hayes’ engineering leadership qualities?
I don’t think it should be. Nick led the company through five years of producing successful Formula One engines. However, the company possibly suffered for diverting his focus from the F1 program, in particular, across other duties. We have chosen to turn back the clock on that.

Is this the beginning of a return to success for Cosworth in Formula One?
We wouldn’t be following this route if we didn’t think that our Formula One program would be enhanced. However, it’s important to stress that I feel the other motorsport programs are in good hands and have been a great success. I feel that the 2003 F1 season was difficult, especially with the Jordan team but the four previous to that were really pretty successful.

Was this course of action decided upon solely by you, from a PPD perspective, or was there pressure from higher up?
Since April 2003 I have been making sense of the situation at Cosworth Racing. This was my own decision but is of a kind that is rarely made alone.

Will this have any further implications for the Cosworth Racing business?
There may well be changes that Tim wants to implement to the way the business is run but I wouldn’t imagine they would be too dramatic. I see this as a time to build on the work that has been carried out in the last two years, much of which is successful and leaves us with many positives.

Has Brendan Connor been offered an alternative position elsewhere within Ford?
Brendan is a very capable individual and we are exploring possible opportunities at the moment. Cosworth

10/22/03

Servia having best year yet  Oriol Servia has established a number of personal CART career records already this season. Among the marks he has set are career high second place showings at Milwaukee and Montreal, a single season high nine top-10 placements, a single season high seven top-five showings and a single season high three podium finishes including consecutive podium performances (Montreal, second and Denver, third) for the first time in his career. The resident of Miami, Florida has also set personal CART career records for consecutive top-six finishes, seven, top-10 showings, seven and points paying performances, eight. In addition, he has earned career high qualifying positions at Montreal and Denver where he started second, qualified in the top-10 a CART career high 16 consecutive times, earned a single season high 16 top-10 starting positions and a single season high seven top-five starting positions. Servia has finished in the points in 11 of the 17 races this season and placed in the top-six in nine of his last 14 events.

10/22/03
Industry News

2004 TMS tickets on sale  Tickets to 2004 individual races at Texas Motor Speedway go on sale Saturday, October 25 at 9 a.m. (CDT). The good news for fans is that individual ticket prices for the six major events in the NASCAR Nextel Cup, Busch Series, Craftsman Truck Series and the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series will remain unchanged from 2003.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the speedway or by calling (817) 215-8500 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets will also be available online at www.texasmotorspeedway.com or at Ticketmaster locations after 9 a.m. (CDT) Saturday. Additional ticket-selling stations will be set up at the Dirt Track parking lot Saturday with a 20-ticket limit per purchase in effect for fans acquiring tickets in person.

Individual tickets for the 2004 races will be on sale Saturday:
Saturday, April 3 O’Reilly 300 NASCAR Busch Series
Sunday, April 4 Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup
Friday, June 11 O’Reilly 400k NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Saturday, June 12 Bombardier 500k Indy Racing League IndyCar Series
Saturday, Oct. 16 Silverado 350k NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Sunday, Oct. 17 Chevy 500k Indy Racing League IndyCar Series

“It is important that there will be no increase for 2004 individual race tickets at Texas Motor Speedway,” said speedway general manager Eddie Gossage. “Our fans’ enthusiasm for the 2004 season is higher than ever and this is one way we can say thanks – to hold the line on increases to the events they want to see.”

Season tickets for 2004 at the “Home of the Brave” are currently on sale and include the same frontstretch seat to every major event along with a ticket to Fandango3, the season-ticket only party on Thursday, April 1 during the Samsung/RadioShack 500 week. Fandango3 will feature Nextel Cup stars Michael Waltrip, Ken Schrader, FOX Sports’ Mike Joy and many special guests.

10/22/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items 

Villeneuve Was Offered Chance To Stay At BAR
Yoong Confirms 'Offer' For F1 Return
Superstar Schu Lives 'Normal Life' At Home
USA Legend Eyes Jordan F1 Buy-Out
New Calendar Spawns Problem For Nurburgring
McLaren To Be Consumed By Mercedes?
Jordan Linked To Ecclestone's Top Job
Imbalance Plagued Title-Winning Ferrari
Williams 'Too Weak' In Early Races: Head
New Rules Made For Better F1 Racing
Ten Days Until Canada's F1 Curtain Drops
Renault Roars Into Life In Russia
Todt Thanks 'Dream Team' For Record-Setting Season
Schu To 'Hide Away' And Recharge Batteries

10/22/03

BAR has more money with Villeneuve gone  BAR chief David Richards has said that the money he will save following the departure of Jacques Villeneuve from the team will allow his squad to spend more on its 2004 challenger.

Villeneuve was reputedly earning just under £9million in the final season of his five years with the team. Richards says that the money he will save by employing Japanese youngster Takuma Sato will be ploughed into the development of next year's effort.

"That goes back in the team now, it's part of the overall budget," said Richards. "We've got more money to spend on the engineering side next year, quite clearly. We've got a very clear plan now and Geoff Willis is very happy with the proposals we've put to him and the availability of funds he's got for next year."

Richards insisted that an offer was made to Villeneuve's manager Craig Pollock to retain the former world champion's services for 2004, but that this was refused.

"Craig and I exchanged correspondence on an indicative proposal," said Richards. "Clearly when you're discussing these things you go through a series of discussions. It was more a case of this is where I'm coming from, this is what I'm going to put on the table, is that acceptable to you before I go back and sit down and discuss it. It wasn't a frivolous bit of negotiation, it was a sensible discussion back and forwards of what the offers were."  Autosport

10/22/03

Surfers Track Talk  Fernandez Racing Race Engineer Chris Finch estimates a top speed of 185 mph and a minimum speed of 44 mph around the scenic 12-turn, 2.795-mile temporary circuit on the streets of Surfers Paradise. Drivers will shift 40 times per lap throughout the course of the 65-lap race. The maximum lap interval for pit stops is set at 19 laps, requiring a minimum of three stops.

The street circuit has its own style with long straights punctuated by chicanes with large curbing, which drivers seeking the ultimate lap will have to use to the fullest extent. Finch points out the keys to success this weekend: “Surfers is an atypical street circuit. Long straights are coupled by slow to mid-speed chicanes. Depending on circuit design this year, the chicanes can be relatively smooth like last year or incorporate the large curbing as seen in prior years. The car needs to exhibit good power down so as to achieve the top speed required on the straights. If the curbing is more pronounced than last year, then the car needs to jump the curbs well with a good landing after.”

Champ Car On-Track Activities (All times local)
Friday, October 24
Practice 10:00 am – 10:50 am
Practice 11:40 am – 12:30 pm
Qualifying 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Saturday, October 25
Practice 10:00 am – 11:15 am
Qualifying 1:45 pm – 2:45 pm

Sunday, October 26
Warm Up 10:45 am – 11:15 am
Race 2:35 pm
 

10/21/03

NASCAR fines  NASCAR has issued the following penalties for various infractions that occurred during last weekend's NASCAR Winston Cup Series event at Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR officials announced today.  The following were fined accordingly: Todd Berrier, crew chief for the #29 NASCAR Winston Cup Series car of Kevin Harvick, was fined $5,000 for violation of Section 12-4-A: Actions detrimental to stock car racing and Section 9-4-A: The crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of his team members. Infraction occurred during pre-race. Marc Smith, crew member for the #29 NASCAR Winston Cup Series car of Kevin Harvick, was suspended until Oct. 29, 2003. He was in violation of Section 12-4-A: Actions detrimental to stock car racing: Attempting to circumvent a NASCAR inspection process. Infraction occurred during pre-race. NASCAR PR

10/21/03

Unser Jr. seriously hurt in ATV accident  2nd UPDATE Unser has been upgraded to satisfactory condition.  10/20/03 - Unser has several fractures of the pelvic area but was not scheduled for surgery and was expected to be released from the University of New Mexico Hospital before the end of the week.  "He’s in a lot of pain but he’s going to be OK,” said a spokesperson.  10/20/03 - This AP article says, Two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. was hospitalized in serious condition today after being injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident. He was riding the ATV alone in the woods Sunday when he went over an embankment and broke his pelvis, his father, four-time Indy winner Al Unser Sr., told KOAT-TV on Monday. Unser said his son called for help for about an hour before some boys heard him. A spokeswoman at the University of New Mexico Hospital confirmed Unser, 41, was in serious condition but she wouldn't release any details of his injuries.

10/21/03

Brack moved to Indy  Injured IRL IndyCar Series driver Kenny Brack was transferred to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis Tuesday via medical plane and remains in stable condition.

Brack, the 1998 IRL champion and 1999 Indy 500 winner, is in satisfactory condition and was admitted to Methodist Hospital under the care of Dr. Kevin Scheid, said Dr. Henry Bock, medical director for the Indy Racing League.

Brack, driver of the No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Honda Dallara for Team Rahal, suffered massive injuries on Sunday (Oct. 12) in the Chevy 500 IndyCar Series race at the Texas Motor Speedway. Brack was airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas from the track and remained at Parkland before today's transfer.

Brack suffered a variety of injuries including a fractured right femur, a fractured sternum, a fractured lumbar (L-3) vertebrae and fractures to both ankles. Brack had surgery on Oct. 12 (femur and ankles) and Oct. 13 (vertebrae) at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

On Monday, Brack was able to write this message to his family, friends and fans:

"I am propped up in my Dallas hospital bed trying to write you a race report. Unfortunately it will be a short one since I do not have the strength or the imagination just yet. Perhaps it does not matter so much because I do not remember anything from the race anyway!

In any case, I felt I needed to write a note to all of you who have sent several thousand prayers via email to my team, the newspapers, me and my wife. I never knew I had that much support but I will tell you that it has certainly helped me to get through this accident the best way possible.

I have not seen the actual accident but I have heard about it. It certainly opens your eyes about higher powers because I am sure that God has everything to do with me still being in this world. If I would have had individual accidents breaking all the bones I broke and healing during this accident, I would not have had much time to be a racecar driver!

I broke 5 major bones and most of them are complicated, back, ankles etc. The Dallas crew of doctors and nurses worked about 15 hours to put it back together. They did a great job and they think I have a good chance to get back to normal. I know it will take time, several months but give me half a chance and I will do it. Now I will rest a little bit but I will see you soon!"

10/21/03
Nissan Superfund World Series

Racing Engineering tests 2 drivers at Valencia  Ricardo Mauricio (BRA), Racing Engineering’s Spanish F3 driver, and Christian Klien (AUT), second in the F3 Euroseries, have marked the fastest lap times with Racing Engineering’s Nissan V6 at the Monday driver test at the circuit of Valencia.

Christian Klien, the talented Red Bull/Mercedes driver delivered an impressive performance at the circuit of Valencia. Not only was it the first time Christian drove on this technically demanding track, but also the most powerful single seater he has driven so far. Very quickly Christian adapted to the track and car as well as the team and working with him was a pleasure for Racing Engineering. Christian marked the second fastest lap time of the day at 1’24.066.  After his 89 laps on the 4.005km track Christian said, “It was a good experience for me to drive such a powerful car. Due to the high down-force you can go through corners much faster than you think. My lap times were ok and I got along well with the team as everyone was very nice with me. Generally everything was great.”

Ricardo Mauricio, leader of the Spanish F3 Championship, has recorded the fastest lap time (1’23.789) of the day. Racing Engineering like always enjoyed working with this professional and fast driver as not only the driver learned a lot, but also the team gained interesting insights, which could be useful for the last round of the Superfund World Series by Nissan taking place at the end of November in Jarama. After this profound performance with Racing Engineering’s Nissan V6 the team is convinced that Ricardo has the best chances to win the Spanish F3 Championship at the race weekend in Barcelona.  At the end of the test day Ricardo commented, “In reality this has been my first real test with this car. Last year in Brazil the engine was different as well as the tires. I am happy about the lap time and feel really good to be able to work with a team as professional as Racing Engineering.”

Alfonso de Orleans, Team Owner, commented “ Christian really surprised me. I saw him race a few times before and knew he was going to be quick, but I have to admit that he adapted faster than I thought. He has a natural talent to be quickly on the pace. I have seen that rarely in drivers. As for Ricardo, no introduction here. His talent speaks for itself and that is the reason why he is the team’s third driver, although today is his first real test with us. But look at the results, top of the list! Every car I put Ricardo in, he is always at the top. I leave the circuit with a smile. Well done to the whole team.
1 Ricardo Mauricio Racing Engineering 1.27.789
2 Christian Klien Racing Engineering 1.24.066
3 Guy Smith Zele Racing 1.24.076
4 Juan Alvarez Gabord Competicion 1.24.291
5 Pedro Lamy Tata Team Carlin 1.24.786
6 Matthias Lauda Gabord Competitcion 1.24.954
7 Pablo Donoso Vergani Formula 1.25.024
8 Roldan Rodriguez KTR 1.25.201
9 Mark Asmer Saulnier Racing 1.25.621
10 Marc Goossens KTR 1.25.922
11 Milka Duno Vergani Formula 1.27.386

10/21/03

Renault makes history in Russia  Last Saturday, the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team made history in Russia, becoming the first team to run a modern Grand Prix car, and the first ever Formula 1 car, on Russian soil. Jarno, Fernando and fifty thousand new friends turned out to enjoy the experience…!

Saturday dawned damp and overcast, but for fifty thousand fans, it didn’t matter. Crowds packed the specially-constructed street circuit in the grounds of Moscow University to see the Renault F1 R23B in full flight, the first ever Formula 1 car to run in Russia.

The operation, organised with the assistance of the Moscow city government, Renault Russia and the team’s primary partners, was the latest in a series of city-centre demonstrations that included a spectacular event on Madrid’s Paseo de la Castellana in May. “What a fantastic day!” enthused Fernando Alonso. “We have had a long season, but this is the perfect way to round it off. At a race weekend, we are quite a long way from the fans, but this lets us have some real contact with them. Their enthusiasm is just amazing!” Team-mate Jarno Trulli echoed his sentiments: “I am proud to be part of this event, and to be able to show the Russian fans a little bit of what Formula 1 is all about. A big thank you to Renault, Mild Seven and the City of Moscow for making it happen.”

Trulli and Alonso thrilled the crowds with demonstration runs in the latest R23B, but didn’t stop there. The latest Clio V6 performed a high-speed demonstration run, including a selection of doughnuts, while Renault’s Heritage department showed off the recent concept car Koleos as well as historic road cars from the early 1900s. The F1 experience was even concluded with an ‘authentic’ champagne shower for the watching crowds!

Guests during the day including 150 international media and Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov. The final words, though, go to team Chairman Patrick Faure: “I am pleased that our team has taken this important step, and even more so because Renault has strong historical links with Russia. We know the Russian people are big Formula 1 fans, and it was a privilege to organize this event for them.” A privilege that the crowds lining the circuit most definitely appreciated.

10/21/03

Championship contenders thin out  NASCAR Winston Cup drivers in 8th place in the standings or lower are officially eliminated from the championship after last week's Martinsville race. Drivers in 25th place or lower are eliminated from the top ten. Here are the details:
Drivers who can still win title
1 Matt Kenseth 4548
2 Kevin Harvick 4308
3 Dale Jr. 4265
4 Ryan Newman 4248
5 Jimmie Johnson 4242
6 Jeff Gordon 4202
7 Tony Stewart 3971
Eliminated From Championship Hunt
8 Bobby Labonte 3840
9 Terry Labonte 3775
10 Bill Elliott 3685
11 Kurt Busch 3666
12 Michael Waltrip 3638
13 Jeff Burton 3606
14 Rusty Wallace 3587
15 Jamie McMurray 3524
16 Robby Gordon 3513
17 Mark Martin 3485
18 Greg Biffle 3329
19 Sterling Marlin 3232
20 Jeremy Mayfield 3231
21 Ward Burton 3230
22 Ricky Rudd 3226
23 Elliott Sadler 3105
24 Ricky Craven 3100
Eliminated From Top 10
25 Joe Nemechek 3022
26 Dale Jarrett 3021
27 Johnny Benson 3016
28 Dave Blaney 2890
29 Jimmy Spencer 2790
30 Kenny Wallace 2733
31 Steve Park 2655
32 Todd Bodine 2597
33 Jeff Green 2455

10/21/03

Overnight Martinsville TV ratings  NBC's broadcast of Sunday's Subway 500 from Martinsville Speedway drew an overnight 3.5 rating and 8 share from Nielsen Media Research, today's Sports Business Daily reports. The race trailed two World Series baseball games, as well as NFL and college football contests. Last year, the Martinsville race earned final figures of 4.4/11. Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter

10/21/03

NASCAR funding frenzy  This Richmond Times-Dispatch article talks about how teams in NASCAR compete against one another for the same sponsors.  It's a dog-eat-dog world.

10/21/03

Trucks to race in Ohio  Mansfield Motorsports Speedway and NASCAR have reached an agreement that will bring a national touring NASCAR series back to the State of Ohio for the first time in fifty years. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will visit the facility for the Inaugural Ohio 250, which is scheduled for Sunday May 16. The event will be the first nationally sanctioned NASCAR event in Ohio since May 24, 1953 when Herb Thomas won a 100-mile Grand National (now Winston Cup) Series event at the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus. In all, there were eleven Grand National Series events in Ohio at tracks in Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Canfield. There has not been a NASCAR Busch Series or Craftsman Truck Series event in the state, until now. The Inaugural Ohio 250 will be the fourth race of the 25-race NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule in 2004. Tickets are now available for the Inaugural Ohio 250 by calling the track office at (419) 525-RACE (7223) or visit their website at www.mansfield-speedway.com. Liberty Sports Management PR

10/21/03

F111 dump and burn to captivate audience Lexmark Indy 300 fans will once again be captivated by the Sea FM Air Show from October 23 to 26 with the exhilarating speed, breathtaking noise and awesome sight of the F111 'dump and burn'.

The Sea FM Air Show is an annual highlight of the entertainment extravaganza at the Lexmark Indy 300, and this year will feature, courtesy of the Australian Defense Force:

- RAAF F111 flyovers on Saturday and Sunday

- RAAF Roulette High Shows

- Royal Australian Navy Seeking helicopter flyovers.

The F111s are Australia's premier strike aircraft based at RAAF Amberley with flight speeds up to 2400kph, twice the speed of sound. They can carry a 12 ton bomb/missile payload and can fly as low as 50 feet using terrain-following radar.

Accompanying the speed and sound of the F111s on the program will be the amazing aerobatic displays of the Roulettes.

Since the first year of Indy on the Gold Coast in 1991, the RAAF Roulettes have thrilled spectators with precision flying during their High Show.

This is a 15-minute program of formation aerobatic maneuvers plus daring head-to-head passes by the main formation and a synchronized pair.

Maneuvers are flown from 500 feet above ground level up to 5000 feet at the top of loops and barrel rolls. Fly-pasts down the main straight at the Lexmark Indy 300 are conducted at only 200 feet (60 meters) and whilst in formation, the aircraft are hand-flown at about three meters from the other aircraft. They also fly between three to five meters during the head-to-head passes.

The Royal Australian Navy Sea King flyovers will also be an amazing spectacle as the 28m-long, 9500kg helicopters cruise at 185kph and reach a top speed of 250kph. The Sea Kings entered RAN service in 1976 and are ideal for moving people and military provisions and carrying water-bombing buckets for fire-fighting.

Their primary role is for search and destroy missions and search and rescue missions.

Lexmark Indy 300 General Manager James Ashworth said the F111 'dump and burn', Roulette High Shows and Sea King flyovers will demonstrate the awesome flying ability of Australia's Defense Force pilots.

"The show that these pilots put on is truly amazing and adds another breathtaking feature to Queensland's premier event," said Ashworth.

"It is a great sight whether you are on-track or situated in one of Surfers Paradise high-rises. You feel that the aircraft are closer than they actually are which just adds to the atmosphere.

"The Sea FM Air Show is an intense and highly professional element of the whole Lexmark Indy 300 carnival."

10/21/03

Newman/Haas pre-Surfers report [Excerpts]  Only two more races remain in the 2003 Champ Car World Series and Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) is planning on making the most of their opportunity to earn back-to-back Series titles and keep the coveted No. 1 on the race car of PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira. In addition to attempting to earn their fifth CART title, they are aiming for a third place finish with Lilly driver Sebastien Bourdais, who has already wrapped up the 2003 Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year honor and currently stands in fourth overall. Both drivers need a strong finish in this weekend's 65-lap Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfer's Paradise, Australia.

Junqueira's seventh place finish in Mexico City coupled with Tracy's win from pole and subsequent 22 points enabled the Canadian to accrue a 29-point advantage with two races remaining.

With 23 points available this weekend and 22 points available in the season ending 500-mile race at The California Speedway, Junqueira must depart Australia with no greater than a 22 point deficit to Tracy in order to have an outside shot at the title. He narrowly lost the pole in the 2002 race here to NHR's Cristiano da Matta and stood a chance to run well had rain not effected the outcome of the event. Junqueira and the PacifiCare team are seasoned veterans who know that anything can happen in the final two events and that the title chase is far from over.

"Last year I was on pole on Friday and lost the pole by 1/100ths of a second to Cristiano on Saturday," said Junqueira. "I led the race last year after Cristiano made an early pit stop. Then they put out the yellow flag. I went from leading the race to a 14th place finish when they shortened the event because of the rain. It was very frustrating the way things happened but I hope we are going to have sun all weekend this year and that the PacifiCare car will win the race. I want to win the Championship very bad and I know I need to win the race and have Paul (Tracy) not score many points to have a chance."

The 2.795-mile course along the ocean in Surfer's Paradise, Queensland, Australia is the final street course of the season and all of the veterans enjoy the layout.

"I like the Surfers Paradise street course and I really like to go to Australia," said Junqueira. "I think it is a good street course. It is a very long street course. There are a lot of fast straightaways and we are going to reach speeds close to 200 mph. It is a pretty fast track for a street course and there are good chicanes. It is a very difficult track. It is a very physical track when it is hot in Australia but I think the PacifiCare car will be really fast there and we can have a shot at winning the race."

The Champ Car World Series is hot off of an all-time record setting weekend in Mexico City after 400,000-plus race fans came out to support the series including a race day crowd of more than 221,000. The mark bettered the record-setting attendance of 2002 and is the largest crowd for a road racing event in North America. The event in Australia is also popular and a large crowd is expected to witness a three-way title battle between points leader Paul Tracy (226), Junqueira (197) and Michel Jourdain (183).

Junqueira's teammate Lilly driver Sebastien Bourdais, 24, has been a top contender this season despite being a rookie. In the 17 races to date, he led in eight and ran in the top five in all of them although events out of his control led to his retirement in five events and reduced his points-earning capability. He is currently ranked fourth with 158 points and is 25 back from third place ranked Michel Jourdain (183) and 22 points ahead of fifth place Patrick Carpentier (136) with 45 maximum points left in the season. He may be out of the hunt for the overall championship but he clinched the 2003 Rookie of the Year honors with his second place finish in Mexico City and has now devoted his full attention to a new goal.

"Now that we have clinched the Rookie of the Year award, we are completely focused on finishing on the final podium (third place) in the Championship," said Bourdais. "We need to have a good result from Australia and also in Fontana."

"I have never been in Australia or even that far away and I am looking forward to it," said Bourdais. "It is a pretty neat race track because most street courses are pretty short and this one is a minute, 30 seconds for one lap. I think I will like the track. Based on the races that I have seen on TV from there, it's going to be very exciting."

The Lexmark Indy 300 will take place on Sunday, October 26 and will be televised LIVE on Speed Channel at 12:30 a.m. and again at 2:30 p.m. the same day. All times Eastern.

10/21/03

Canada needs money by October 31st  According to this Grandprix.com article, The Canadian Grand Prix has until the end of the month to come up with a financial package necessary to keep the race on the Formula 1 calendar.

Race promoter Normand Legault has to find money to convince the Formula 1 teams to return to Canada without tobacco backing but the teams are demanding $2m apiece to expand the calendar to 18 races. the FIA has put the race back on its provisional calendar for 2004 but that is subject to the money being found and an agreement being struck between the teams and Legault.

There were suggestions at the weekend that the involvement of the Molson brewery in an attempt to save the race had resulted in the price being hiked but Legault says that getting Molson involved helped to get the race put back on the calendar and will make it easier to find the extra cash needed by "the end of October deadline".

All the teams must agree to return to Canada and thus it is safe to assume that all the teams want an extra $2m. This means that Legault has to find $20m in addition to whatever deal he had worked out with Formula One Management. The normal fees for an F1 race are around $15m a year although some races are paying as much as $40m next year. Bernie Ecclestone, the boss of FOM, is keen to have Canada on the calendar but it is unlikely that he will settle for less than $10m, giving Legault a target of $30m to find.

10/21/03

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New Concept Not An 'Unknown,' Says Bell

10/20/03

Stars go-kart events to air on SPEED  The Snap-on Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow presented by RACER national karting series has announced its television dates for the 2003 SPEED CHANNEL shows.

A total of nine hours of Stars karting action will be produced for SPEED and the telecasts will feature the Bridgestone Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and the Stars Karting Championships at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

The one-hour telecasts will be produced by Brian Lockwood Productions of Huntington Beach, Calif. and hosted by Leigh Diffey and Tommy Kendall. Brian Lockwood Productions’ other 2003 racing projects include Champ Car television on CBS-TV and SPEED CHANNEL and NASCAR telecasts on Fox-TV and SPEED.

The Bridgestone Grand Prix will be televised on November 23-24 (ICA Class) and November 30-December 1 (ICC Class) with the original broadcasts on Sundays and replays on Mondays.

The Stars Karting Championships will air on December 7-8 (both ICA and ICA Classes) with the original on Sunday (Dec. 7) and the replay on Monday (Dec. 8). A three-hour highlights show with back-to-back programs of the Stars of Tomorrow shows will air on Sunday, Dec. 28, at 12 p.m. (EST).

“We are very pleased to bring out exciting Snap-on Stars of Tomorrow action to the viewers of the SPEED CHANNEL,” said Bobby Rahal, a principal in the Stars program. “We believe the racing fans who watch the SPEED CHANNEL will be very entertained by this spectacular competition. They will get to watch some of North America’s best young racing talent battling wheel-to-wheel. The Stars series produces some of the best racing on this continent. We invite everyone to witness the next stars of North American motorsports.”

2003 STARS OF TOMORROW SPEED CHANNEL DATES AND TIMES
Sunday November 23rd 4:00pm Eastern ICA from Sonoma
Monday November 24th 5:00pm Eastern ICA from Sonoma (replay)
Sunday November 30th 4:00pm Eastern ICC from Sonoma
Monday December 1st 5:00pm Eastern ICC from Sonoma (replay)
Sunday December 7th 4:00pm Eastern ICA & ICC from Fontana
Monday December 8th 5:00pm Eastern ICA & ICC from Fontana (replay)
Sunday December 28th 12:00pm Eastern 3 hours of re-cap, all shows back to back

10/20/03

Actor to emcee Awards Banquet  Actor Jason Priestley will be the master of ceremonies at the Indy Racing League's awards program Saturday at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Priestley was a commentator for ABC and ESPN coverage of the 2001 IRL series and last year competed in the league's Infiniti Pro Series until he was seriously injured in a crash at Kentucky Speedway.  "We are thrilled to have Jason join us at our 2003 Indy Racing League celebration," IRL president Tony George said today. "His love for motorsports and involvement in the IRL have made Jason a member of our IRL racing family."

10/20/03

Mears back in #41  Ganassi Racing G.M. Andy Graves confirmed that Casey Mears, who is 34th in points, will return to the #41 Target Dodge next year. "The sponsor (Target) loves him," Graves says. "He's young, good looking, articulate and can get the car into the show. If you asked 70 percent of the owners in the garage, they would tell you that that's what they're looking for when scouting for new drivers." Foxsports/Sporting News

10/20/03
Industry News

TMS track under scrutiny after Brack crash  This Los Angeles Daily News article says [Excerpts], It was just a few weeks ago when the Indy Racing League celebrated the fastest race ever. For the first time in any auto racing event, Sam Hornish Jr. won a race with an average speed of more than 200 mph at California Speedway in Fontana. This week, the IRL is holding its collective breath as driver Kenny Brack, a former series champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, recovers from injuries suffered in a crash at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth last Sunday.......Brack's condition is improving daily. But the future of his racing career is in doubt. The recovery time will be long, though no timetable has been given. In the meantime, a couple of drivers are questioning the safety of Texas Motor Speedway, where cars bump wheels at speeds in excess of 200 mph......."It's really exciting for the fans, but it's what the Winston Cup guys probably feel about racing at Daytona and Talladega," said Bryan Herta, driver for Andretti Green Racing. "On the IRL schedule, races at Texas are my least favorite. The results there have less to do with driver's ability because of the banking." This isn't the first time Texas Motor Speedway has been dubbed too dangerous. A few years ago, the CART Champ Car series canceled a race hours before the start because drivers were complaining of dizziness and vertigo. Herta was part of that contingent and says the CART decision was the right one. But it's not so much the speed of the track that makes Texas dangerous. The high-banked track creates dangerous situations for drivers. Roger Yasukawa, driver for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, agreed with Herta that the banking at Texas makes for exciting, but risky racing. "Texas is almost one of the worst of the 1 1/2 -mile speedways," said Yasukawa. "The biggest problem is the banking. Yes, it's a fun track to race, but from a safety standpoint, I'm not sure if it's a safe place to race. All in all, Texas is a challenging track, but I prefer other 1 1/2 -mile tracks, like Chicago and Kansas. A lot of drivers underestimate the safety.".......No one is arguing that auto racing is an inherently dangerous sport. But Brack's crash is a disturbing reminder of how much is at stake when these drivers take the track......Indy Racing League drivers won't go so far as to say races at Texas should be avoided. But maybe they should start. At the least, Yasukawa said he would like to see the cars' handling improve to make racing at Texas safer. "To have better racing, you have to have a better car that can hold the line," he said [Editor's Note: read that even more downforce to the already 100% throttle cars]. Until that day comes, maybe racing Indy cars at Texas isn't such a good idea. [Editor's note: This article fails to raise the issue of the fence mesh being on the wrong side of the fence posts.]

10/20/03

Michael Andretti: Call him 'Coach'  American open-wheel racing star Michael Andretti will be a guest coach and instructor for rounds five and six of the Skip Barber 2.0-liter Formula Dodge Southern Race Series championship Dec. 6-7 at Moroso Motorsports Park in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Andretti will work side-by-side with the regular Skip Barber coaching staff, providing feedback, instruction and coaching to the 40 or so drivers entered in the race weekend.

A "meet-and-greet" dinner is also planned for the evening of the 6th.

Earlier this month, Michael's son Marco, 16, won the championship in the Skip Barber 2.0-liter Formula Dodge Eastern Race Series.

After nineteen years as one of the world's most accomplished and recognized drivers, Andretti retired from the cockpit following the 2003 Indy 500 and devoted the rest of this season to running his recently formed organization, Andretti Green Racing.

The Andretti family has a long history with Skip Barber Racing. All the sons of twin brothers Mario and Aldo who've gone racing - Mario's Jeff and Michael, and Aldo's John and Adam - are graduates of the Skip Barber Racing School. Michael's brother Jeff won the Skip Barber Formula Ford Eastern Series title in 1983, and Michael himself won an SCCA Formula Ford championship in a car prepared and run by Skip Barber Racing in the early 1980s.

NOTES: A celebrity of another kind is stepping into the cockpit of a Skip Barber Formula Dodge, beginning today. Christopher Kennedy Masterson, 23, the actor who plays Francis on Fox TV's "Malcolm in the Middle" (and brother of Danny, 22, who plays Steve Hyde on "That '70s Show," also a Fox property), is at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., attending a Skip Barber Three-Day Competition Course.  Skip Barber

10/20/03

CART drops its most exciting race  By far the most exciting race of the 2003 CART season won't be back in 2004.   AutoRacing1.com has learned that CART will not race at EuroSpeedway in 2004 where Mario Dominguez and Sebastian Bourdais put on a memorable duel this past May.  CART raced at EuroSpeedway for two years without a single German driver in the series to help the race succeed and sell tickets, and still the race drew CART's biggest oval track crowd by a wide margin.  Now that it looks like the series will have a German driver (Kaffer), CART will not be racing there, which befuddles many. To make matters worse, the track has been unable to have a race continuously, and continuity helps build fan equity.  CART raced there in 2001, but then the race was cancelled in 2002 because of financial troubles at the track.  CART returned in 2003, but won't in 2004, so it's been an on-off-on-off event    Apparently OWRS wanted $1 million more per year from the German promoter than what they offered in their 5-year deal to CART, and they wanted the promoter to be responsible for getting its own German TV deal.  Well they waited so long that now it's too late to land a live TV deal  Without a live TV deal the extra $1 million was not acceptable to EuroSpeedway so the deal is dead.  It remains to be seen now whether EuroSpeedway does a deal with the IRL instead (recall Hans-Jörg Fischer was at the IRL Fontana race talking to IRL officials), or whether they wait a year and try to do a new deal with CART for 2005.  We now expect the final 2004 CART schedule to be released this week with zero European races listed.  Mark C.

10/20/03

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10/19/03
Industry News

Penske heads up Detroit's Super Bowl 2006 committee  This Detroit News article says, The 66-year-old Roger Penske faces one of his riskiest repair jobs yet: Preparing Detroit to host Super Bowl XL at Ford Field on Feb. 5, 2006. "The eyes of the world will be on Detroit during the Super Bowl, and it's not like we can take a mulligan," said Penske, borrowing the golf term for a do-over. "We have one chance to get it right." The annual extravaganza, which draws 100,000 people, thousands of journalists and 800 million TV viewers, will put Detroit and its claims of a renaissance under an unforgiving microscope. To pull it off, he'll have to overcome a downtown sorely lacking the amenities to host a major sporting event. He's confronting abandoned buildings, crumbing sidewalks, lax building code enforcement and a municipal bureaucracy with a sketchy track record working with business and meeting deadlines. Some say the seemingly tireless and detail-focused Penske may have taken on mission impossible. Even a dressed-up Detroit, they fear, could be ridiculed by the national media and star-studded Super Bowl attendees.   More....

10/19/03
ETCC

Zanardi 7th in return  Italian Alex Zanardi, making his return to motor racing after losing both his legs in an horrific crash, finished seventh on Sunday in the final race of the FIA European Touring Car championship at Monza.  Zanardi was back on a race track just over two years after his high-speed crash in a CART race at the Lausitzring in September 2001, which resulted in him losing both his legs and two liters of blood. For days the 36-year-old former Formula One driver was fighting for his life.  On Sunday Zanardi, driving a specially adjusted BMW 320i, slid out in the first race of the day and started eighth on the grid, eventually finishing seventh, 15 seconds behind winner Jorg Muller also driving a BMW.  "I did well and it is good to see what I can achieve at this stage after all this time. It would have been even better to see where I could have arrived with a bit of training" said Zanardi.  "But today was a wonderful day for me," he said.  Reuters

10/19/03

NASCAR rated most favorite with sponsors, IRL & CART least  When it comes to making a sponsor happy, no other sport does it better than NASCAR, according to a study from Sports Business Journal. The magazine talked with national sponsors that are involved in professional sports throughout the country and found NASCAR sponsors have more satisfaction with the way they're being represented by race teams than any other sport. Overall, NASCAR, the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour and the NHRA drag-racing series ranked as favorites among sponsors who spend billions a year in advertising, the magazine said. The IRL IndyCar Series, CART Champ Car World Series and the WNBA were ranked as the least-favorites. Augusta Chronicle

10/19/03

McCarthy turns hobby into job with NASCAR  Mike McCarthy has turned his hobby, a popular Web site devoted to motor sports and the media who cover it, into a full-time job in sports.  McCarthy said he will put his MotorsportsTV.com Web site on permanent hiatus Oct. 25 after taking a job with NASCAR in its public relations department.  For McCarthy, getting a job with the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based sanctioning body is a dream come true.

"I've been a sports nut since I was a little kid. Like a lot of people, you dream of working in professional sports," he said. "It's neat. It's a lot of fun going from a fan to working in sports."

McCarthy will manage NASCAR's new media Web site, which will cater to journalists covering the ever-growing sport.

"NASCAR, like most television networks and professional sports leagues, are building a Web site for media use," he said. "They expect me to develop it and build it."

McCarthy launched MotorsportsTV.com in May 2000 after being unhappy with the amount of NASCAR coverage available on the Internet.  The site offers up the latest news about the media covering NASCAR, including a breakdown of each week's broadcast and a tongue-in-cheek commentary about the sponsor-laden victory lane celebrations.  The site also provides news about media coverage of other racing events.

The 37-year-old said he contacted NASCAR last year in hopes of landing a position there. After interviewing for the job, he was offered the job.  McCarthy said that since he did all the work on his site, which averages around 130,000 visits per month, he's hesitant to let someone take over for him.  "I think I'm just going to let the site go on permanent hiatus," he said. "There's too much personally invested in it for me to feel comfortable turning it over to someone else."  McCarthy said he will formally announce his plans for his Web site next week. Daily Herald

10/19/03

Spencer wants to get rid Winners Circle plan  Jimmy Spencer thinks NASCAR's "winners' circle" plan, which distributes money each race to teams that have won in previous years, has outlived its usefulness. "They need to find another way to disperse the money to the car owners," Spencer said. "A lot of car owners are struggling right now, and without sponsorship money they're in trouble. NASCAR isn't going to change the winner's circle, but it's the biggest joke there is right now," Spencer said. "Even if I were on it, it would be a joke. The money goes to certain car owners, and it should be spread out to other owners that are 20th on back. Those are the guys who're hurting." ThatsRacin.com

10/19/03

American Spirit Team news - Vasser to surprise Zanardi  UPDATE   The Italian was 11th fastest in qualifying for the FIA European Touring Car Championship finale at Monza at the wheel of a specially modified BMW. Zanardi, 36, was 1.15secs off the best time set by BMW team-mate Jorg Muller. Zanardi said: "I enjoyed it, although it's a tough battle to drive in this kind of race."   Two races are scheduled on Sunday with the race two starting grid decided by Race One placings.   Jimmy Vasser and Tony Kanaan flew from the States to support Alex Zanardi on his racing comeback. “He’s such a good friend of mine,” said Kanaan, who was classified fourth in the 2003 IRL series. “I did not want to miss this important day for him. And this was also the occasion for me to visit the Tatuus people, who are based near Monza and with whom I started my racing career in the Italian F3 Championship ten years ago. But the main reason was to see Alex back to racing. I was not surprised when I was told he had decided to race in Monza, because I knew he had this idea in mind. I found him in fantastic shape, and his eyes are bright. I’m so happy for him.” Vasser, who was Zanardi’s team mate at Chip Ganassi Racing in the Formula CART years, was also pleased. “You should have seen Alex’s face when we showed up today. He couldn’t believe it, and was almost weeping. Three weeks ago he told me he was going to race again, and I wanted to make him a big surprise coming along. I would not have missed it. I’m not surprised he’s back. He may have lost his legs, but he did not lose his spirit and his love for motor racing. I won’t be surprised to see him on the front either.” In the picture: Zanardi between Vasser and Kanaan, inside the BMW hospitality suite in Monza. ETCC Site  10/17/03 - Jimmy Vasser is in Milan, Italy this weekend watching his good friend Alex Zanardi make his racing comeback in a BMW 321i in the FIA European Touring Car Championship at the historic Monza racetrack. Zanardi and Vasser have been close friends since 1996 when they became teammates at Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Zanardi surprised Vasser earlier this year, when he wrote and sang a song “Oh Jimmy” for Jimmy at his surprise 200th race start celebration. Vasser returned the surprise this weekend as Zanardi had no idea his former teammate would be in Italy to cheer him on.

Vasser’s World Tour: Mexico City last weekend was the first stop of many on Vasser’s world tour. He will spend this weekend in Italy, return to the United States on Monday just in time to catch the Champ Car charter flight that will take him to Australia for the Lexmark 300 Australian Grand Prix at Surfers Paradise. He will return to the States on Monday October the 27th for a week of promotional appearances as the defending champion of the California 500 which takes place October 31st – November 2nd; the weekend after Australia. Following the California 500 and his season finale, Vasser heads to Brazil for the wedding of a good friend. The weekend after, he will travel to Colombia to participate in “Formula Smiles,” a charity karting event organized by another former TCGR teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya and his wife Connie. Following “Formula Smiles,” Vasser will celebrate his birthday in the deserts of Mexico as he prepares for the Baja 1000. For the second consecutive year, he is teaming up with lifelong friends Mike and Robbi Groff to drive the Northwest Excavating JIMCO Class 1 Buggy on the 22nd and 23rd of November. Vasser’s co-driver will be his former Crew Chief from Team Rahal, Bharat Naran. His world tour will wrap up just in time for Thanksgiving with his family in California. No rest for the weary, the 2004 Champ Car World series is just around the corner.

Hunter-Reay Down Under: Ryan Hunter-Reay is in Australia making promotional appearances for Ford. Hunter-Reay is spending the day today at the Sydney Auto Show before heading to Surfers Paradise for his Australian debut. When not racing his 750 horsepower Champ Car, Hunter-Reay’s heart is at the beach. An avid surfer and jet-skier, Hunter-Reay is in paradise on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Johansson at Road Atlanta: Stefan Johansson is in Atlanta this weekend at the Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta. Johansson will be there to support his team Champion Motorsports and teammates JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert as they fight for the championship. Johansson drove with the fellow Formula One veterans for Champion Motorsports in the Audi R8 earlier this year at the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

10/19/03

Most popular driver contest update  With one month remaining in the nationwide fan voting, Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues to lead the Grands! Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award balloting. More than 2.5 million votes have been cast this season. Voting will continue through 11:59 a.m. CST on Monday, November 17, 2003 - the day after the final NASCAR Winston Cup race of the season. Earnhardt Jr., who finished second in the 2002 Most Popular Driver Voting to 16-time Most Popular Driver Award winner Bill Elliott, has led since voting began in February. Four-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon is second, followed closely by Kevin Harvick. Steve Park is fourth in the voting, followed by Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty and Bobby Labonte. The official Grands! Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver of the Year Award trophy will be presented to the winning driver, as voted by fans, during the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Awards festivities in December.

10/19/03
F-Ford Zetec

Keep your eye on this kid  UPDATE AutoRacing1.com has learned that Bomarito has been approached by two separate Atlantic teams where funding seems to not be an issue, as amazing as that is....we guess what Allmendinger did to everyone and the instant marketability and credibility it gave his RuSPORT team has made others realize it's time to focus on performance and winning, instead of getting checkbook drivers to sustain for one season after another...There are another three teams that would love to run him, if they had the money. He will test for three different teams in the next several weeks and then he and his managers will have some tough decisions to make. Right now he's just enjoying his Zetec Championship.  10/17/03 - Jonathan Bomarito, a 20 year old Northern California native, is poised to hit the 2004 Atlantic Series with all the promise and expectation of AJ Allmendinger and Ryan Hunter-Reay before him ... Thursday's Road Atlanta win was Jonathan's third straight in the 2003 Zetec Championship.

Today Jonathan Bomarito "rolled the table" and took the 2003 US Zetec Championship by winning today's final round at Road Atlanta for his second straight "double" ... The other was being at Mid Ohio when they joined CART/Atlantics in August ... Nice way to win a Championship, having it come down to the final race and needing to win to claim the top prize, shows what this kid is all about ... True rookie, beats the formidable 2002 British F2000 Zetec Champion and does it in dominating style with today's victory by over 7 seconds in an 18 lap event!

Jonathan Bomarito is the next in line of a series of extremely talented American racers who, along with AJ and Ryan as predecessors, are set to let the world know that the best drivers in the world come from North America (at right he tests a Team Rahal Champ Car) ... Look out CART, look out F1 ... Here they come ... After all, it is last year's veteran, the factory development driver for Van Diemen, British F2000 Zetec Champion that Jonathan, as a rookie in formula cars, beat out for the US F2000 Zetec Championship by dominating the last four rounds with the Championship up for grabs until the final lap of the season ...

Next stop, Toyota Atlantics ... Although, we have it on good authority that after many will miss AJ and Ryan in Atlantics, the entire world will be paying attention to Jonathan Bomarito ...This young American talent plans to move into the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2004 and light it on fire.  Keep your eyes open, he is the real deal and he's coming.  He will go head-to-head with another promising American in Atlantics next year, Leo Maia, this year's dominating Barber Dodge Pro Series champion. It should be quite interesting.  All of a sudden we are beginning to see emerge a number of very talented Americans, exactly what the CART series and F1 need.  We suspect Ryan Hunter-Reay may very well be the next American in F1.  We hear things...

10/18/03
Industry News

Cosworth warns of stolen goods   Following a break-in at its Northampton, UK, headquarters during the night of Monday 13th October, Cosworth Racing warns that motorsport memorabilia fans should be aware of items stolen and now potentially being offered for sale.  Three very distinctive signed crash helmets were stolen from the company in the early hours of the morning and are the type of item that would find favor with motorsport and memorabilia fans around the world.  The first is a crash helmet signed by Michael Andretti, painted predominantly silver and featuring the Texaco and Kmart branding. The second is signed by Max Papis and is painted in his usual design, with a blue bottom section, red middle and white top. The third and final helmet was again signed by its owner, Scott Pruett and is decorated in day-glo orange and yellow. All three drivers donated their helmets to Cosworth as a thank you for providing successful engine power during the course of various IndyCar seasons.  Motorsport memorabilia fans should be aware that if these items are offered for sale through any motorsport media or over the internet, then they will be the items stolen from Cosworth Racing and they should contact their local police to deal with the matter.  Cosworth PR

10/18/03

Biela, Werner, Dyson win ALMS crowns at Petit LeMans   Frank Biela and Marco Werner won the American Le Mans Series LMP 900 class driving championship and Chris Dyson won the LMP 675 title as all did what they had to do in Saturday’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Biela and Werner, co-drivers of the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8, entered the race with a large enough advantage in the driver point standings that they only had to finish sixth in class and complete 276 laps (70 percent of the 1,000-mile race distance). Despite numerous problems during the race, including a crash when Biela was forced off the track by a lapped car, the car completed its 276th lap at 6:40 p.m. and the two German drivers were champions. Dyson also needed to complete 276 laps and did so at 8:02 p.m., just about an hour from the end of the race. His car had also been repaired after a crash when co-driver Chad Block lost control in turn two earlier in the day. Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell had already won the GTS class driving title, the second consecutive for Fellows, and Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen had already clinched their second consecutive GT title.

10/18/03

Bodine crashes in Happy Hour  Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 54 National Guard/Subway Taurus, was involved in an accident during happy hour practice Saturday. "I went into one and I hit the brake pedal. It was there for a split second and then it went to the floor. You've got to have brakes at Martinsville. The car went sideways and I gave it some throttle to try to keep it down and out of the wall, but you're going so fast here that momentum is going to carry you straight. These corners are so sharp and that's what happened. It's a shame because we made wholesale changes between practices and the car was really, really good right there. I was really happy with it. It was still a little tight in the middle, but it was night and day from the first practice. That was only our third lap and we had already posted a decent lap. We'll just start from the back now and do the best we can."

10/18/03

Early images from Petit LeMans   

(Left) The field gets the green flag to start the Petit Le Mans. (Center) The #1 Audi of Marco Werner sparks as part of it drags the race track.  (Right) The #38 ADT Champion Audi of JJ Lehto leads the #1 Infineon Team Joest Audi of Marco Werner in the early laps.

10/18/03

Teams to test at Indy  Scott Dixon and new Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. will take part in private tire tests Tuesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  They are getting a jump on the 2004 Indy 500.

10/18/03

Brack's broken back details  Injured driver Kenny Brack had an 8-hour long surgery on his broken back, that is how bad it was.  The back surgery was successful. They had to fuse the L-2, L-3 and L-4 vertebrae together since Kenny's L-3 was smashed. They added some rods and screws too.  His right ankle was badly broken and although the doctors say he will recover, one has to wonder if his road racing days are over, i.e. will he ever regain full flexibility needed to drive road courses.  This of course assumes he comes back to racing, or at the age of 37, decides to retire.  Let's hope he returns.  We are surprised Scott Dixon will stay in the IRL another year.  He has F1 aspirations.  Racing wheel-to-wheel at over 200 MPH in an open wheel car every race dramatically increases the chances of Dixon being in a similar violent wreck, one that could possibly put an end to any thought of road racing again.  He already broke his wrist and hand earlier this year at Motegi and was one of 10 IRL drivers (10 of avg. 22 starters or 45% of the drivers) who broke something this past year.  Those certainly are not odds we would want to risk.  IRL drivers are a brave bunch, willing to risk severe injury (45% chance each year - some years have been even worse) to their bodies to help the IRL further their concept of open wheel oval racing.  Maybe fenders or nerf bars are needed, so when they touch wheels at those speeds they don't launch a car into the grandstand someday and kill 100's of fans in one fell swoop, which is many times worse than injuring a driver. A couple of wrecks this year (Andretti at Indy and Brack at TMS) prove that an IRL car takes off like an airplane when air gets under it.   That would be a terrible blow to the sport we all love.  It could drive the final nail in Indy Car Racing's coffin.

2003

Series

Victim

Venue

Type

Injury

1.

IRL

Gil de Ferran

Phoenix

Oval

Concussion & Fractured Vertebrae

2.

IRL

Roger Yasukawa

Phoenix

Oval

Back Pain, kept overnight

3.

IRL

Tony Kanaan

Motegi

Oval

Broken wrist/arm

4. IRL Scott Dixon Motegi Oval Broken wrist/hand
5. IRL Craig Dollansky Indy Oval Broken lower back
6 IRL Arie Luyendyk Indy Oval Unspecified injuries to back - ended career

7.

IRL

Airton Daire

Texas

Oval

Broken hip, pelvis, leg and arm

8.

IRL

Felipe Giaffone

Kansas

Oval

Broken pelvis & right thigh

9. IRL Vitor Meira Kentucky Oval Broken wrist
10. IRL Tom Wood (IPS) Kentucky Oval Broken middle back, right knee, right foot & both ankles
11 IRL Sarah Fisher Nazareth Oval Airlifted, Contusion of the back
12 IRL Kenny Brack Texas Oval Broken back, femur, both ankles, sternum
  CART Zero injuries to date

10/18/03

8 from ALMS pre-qualify for 2004 LeMans   American Le Mans Series competitors have been allowed up to eight pre-selections for the 2004 running of 24 Hours of Le Mans, including four that will be earned in Saturday’s running of the Petit Le Mans. The American Le Mans Series is based on the 24 Hours of Le Mans and operates on an agreement with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), organizer of event. The ACO selects the 50 race teams that compete in the annual running of the world’s most famous endurance race. Because of the relationship that exists between the American Le Mans Series and the ACO, race teams that regularly compete in ALMS events receive special consideration in the selection process. The entrant of the winning Petit Le Mans car in each of the four classes of competition within the American Le Mans Series will be pre-selected for the 2004 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The classes include LMP 900, LMP 675, GTS and GT. In addition, the entrant of the 2003 American Le Mans Series Team Championship in each class will be pre-selected for the 2004 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. If the entrant of the winning 2003 Petit Le Mans car in a category is the same as the 2003 ALMS champion, the second pre-selected entry may be awarded to another team of the category in accordance with the ACO and ALMS. The wording of the FIA Entrant’s License and the make of car must remain the same as for the 2003 Petit Le Mans race. To be eligible for pre-selection, cars must be in full compliance with the 2003 ACO regulations. All pre-selected competitors must compulsorily take part in the 2004 preliminary practice sessions at Le Mans in late April.  ALMS PR

10/18/03

CART stock re-listed  Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc., (formerly NYSE: MPH) announced that effective Wednesday, October 15, 2003, its common stock will be quoted on the OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB) under the ticker symbol CPNT.OB. As previously reported, the Company had fallen below the NYSE continued listing criteria and as a result intended to pursue having its common stock quoted on the OTCBB.

10/18/03

***Reader Comment***CART on the rebound  A reader writes, Dear AR1,  The Rahal news is great... not someone I'm familiar with but sounds very talented like Bourdais.  Now if we can get a couple old pros (J Villeneuve, J Herbert) and a cross-back with huge talent (Dario), the sun may begin to turn toward CART and away from the ambulance series!   Not that I've ever been a fan nor is he anywhere near prime now, but it sure wouldn't hurt for the Little Al farewell tour to come home... for media and fan purposes all year. Any chance Patrick can find the $$?  Love your site.  John Costello, Long Beach, CA.   Dear John, CART is going to make a big comeback in 2004 with or without those drivers you mention.  As for Unser, we do know he approached some CART teams, and we do know that Tony George probably does not want to pay his salary yet another year.  It would be good for Al to race in CART so that he can be there for his son Al Unser III who is racing in the CART ladder system.  His mother Shelly is there every race, but the kid really needs his father there week in and week out, not only for moral support, but for advice in setting the car up and race strategy.  For the kid's sake we hope it happens.....and it would be good for Al Jr. too. We would like to see him end his career in one piece and the injury rate in the IRL is so high you never know who will be next.  Mark C.

10/18/03
Industry News

Ford to expand in China  [Editor's Note: It's clear that CART will eventually want to be racing in China, but it won't happen in 2004.  Why do we say this?  Because with such an expansion, and with such a huge population, every major sponsor is going to be wanting to do business in China]  Ford Motor, which makes 50 per cent fewer cars in China than General Motors (GM), plans to spend as much as US$1.5 billion to expand production and boost market share in the world's fastest-growing car market.

Ford would build a second plant and expand its factory in Chongqing, Sichuan province, that made Mondeo and Fiesta cars, chief executive William Clay Ford said in Beijing.

The Michigan-based company would also build an engine-making plant in China.

Ford, GM, Volkswagen and Toyota Motor are expanding local production to meet rising demand from increasingly wealthy Chinese urban residents.

Car sales may expand by 25 per cent this year, compared with a 4.3 per cent drop in western Europe and a 3 per cent slump in North America, according to London-based World Markets Research Centre.

Mei Luwu, an analyst at Penhua Fund Management in Shenzhen, said: "They need to expand to catch up with other carmakers.

"But they had better bring in more up-to-date models, as General Motors has done, instead of introducing old ones."

The world's second-biggest carmaker said it wanted to boost production to capture vehicle sales in China, which are forecast to triple to 5.8 million units by 2010, according to McKinsey & Co.

The announcement came as the mainland government reported its economy, the sixth-largest in the world, grew 9.1 per cent in the third quarter, a faster pace than its 6.7 per cent expansion in the second quarter.

  Much More...click on 2002 archives button below
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