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DATE

News (chronologically)

10/31/03

Carpentier looks forward to St. Pete  By all accounts, it has been a good season for Patrick Carpentier. The ever-smiling and engaging Canadian has made his way to the Top 3 post-race podium four times in 2003 (one of those, in Monterey, was in victory). But, while teammate Paul Tracy just wrapped-up the Champ Car Series title this past weekend in Australia, Carpentier can only think about what might have been and, on a happier note, what might well be. When he returns to Florida for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, February 20-22, 2004, Carpentier will be a man on a mission.

"I really love that race course in St. Pete," says Carpentier. "It's not too small and not too big and gives you good opportunities to pass. Still, I put myself in the wall when I raced there this past February and still ended up finishing eighth. I think that if I hadn't done that then Paul (Tracy, who won the race) and I might have put on a good show."

Carpentier, who has climbed as high as fourth in the CART point chase, is now 5th, just 13 points behind rookie Sebastian Bourdais. The highlights of Carpentier's season have been the win in the Grand Prix of Monterey, a runner-up finish at the Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio and two third-place runs (Montreal and Milwaukee). He finished fifth in the Lexmark Indy 300 in Australia (which was won by Floridian Ryan Hunter-Reay). But all that isn't good enough for Carpentier, who feels his team should have been better.

"We've had too many ups and downs this year," Carpentier adds. "We started the year with lots of internal problems with the team. Paul's team has helped us a lot, but this season has been more of a learning curve than I thought it would be."

All of which means that Carpentier, an avowed lover of all water sports, is particularly eager to start the new season racing by the shores of Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg.  "It's kind of like a racing vacation when you come to St. Pete," Carpentier concludes. "As successful as the first race was, I'm sure the next one will be even more so. And anything near the water is good for me."

Tickets are now on sale for the 2nd annual Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and can be purchased by calling toll free (888) 34-SPEED or by going to the event's official website at www.gpstpete.com. Race fans wishing to pay by check rather than credit card can also request a ticket brochure. Ticket prices for the three-day event range from $35 for a Sunday-only general admission ticket (no grandstand seat) to $105 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seating in upper levels of the grandstands. Handicapped seating, hospitality club packages and CART Paddock Passes are also available.

10/31/03

American Spirit Team Johansson downsizes  AutoRacing1.com has learned that the American Spirit Team Johansson Champ Car team laid off over 25% of their staff today and are down to a skeleton crew.  A statement from the team - “While American Spirit is in negotiation with potential partners for next year, the difficult economic climate has forced us to reduce our staff to a minimum, in efforts to maximize our resources as we continue our diligent efforts for the 2004 Champ Car season.”

10/31/03

Mark Taylor to drive 2nd Panther entry   Panther Racing has named 2003 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion Mark Taylor as the driver of the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone for the 2004 IRL IndyCar Series.

“I am delighted to have been selected to drive for Panther Racing and Menards/Johns Manville,” Taylor said. “This is a great opportunity for me and I would like to thank John Menard and everyone at Panther Racing for making this possible. When the 2003 season started, I wasn’t sure what to expect in oval racing. As it turns out, it is fantastic racing, a great product for the fans, and I knew quickly that I wanted my career to lead to the IndyCar Series.

Taylor’s 2003 championship effort included a record seven wins and nine top-five finishes over the 12 races on the Menards Infiniti Pro Series schedule. This represents the second time in the two-year history of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series for the champion to have graduated up to the IndyCar Series. AJ Foyt IV made the transition after winning the 2002 championship.

“The Menards Infiniti Pro Series is designed to be the stepping stone series in the IRL,” said John Menard, co-owner of Panther Racing. “As the 2003 series champion, it is a natural that Mark progress into the IndyCar Series. It is even more fitting that Mark competes in 2004 with Menards and Johns Manville colors.”

Taylor had his initial IndyCar Series testing opportunity with Panther Racing in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone at Texas Motor Speedway in early October.

“Mark ran a full day of testing for us at Texas Motor Speedway and was turning very competitive laps almost immediately,” John Barnes, co-owner of Panther Racing said. “He has proven throughout his career that he knows how to find victory lane, and we are looking forward to watching him grow into a solid IndyCar Series competitor.”

Taylor joins teammate Tomas Scheckter at Panther Racing. Scheckter was named on Oct. 11 as the driver of the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone for 2004.

The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season begins with the Toyota Indy 300 Feb. 29, 2004 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series season begins Feb. 29, 2004 with the Homestead-Miami 100 at HMS.

10/31/03

Sunoco signs 10-year deal Grand American Road Racing Association and Sunoco have announced an agreement that will make Sunoco Race Fuel the official gasoline of Grand American Road Racing for the next 10 years. Under the agreement, Sunoco, the world’s largest manufacturer of premium racing gasoline, will provide racing gasoline for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup Series. “This long term commitment by Sunoco is coming at the perfect time,” noted Grand American President Roger Edmondson. “With the emergence of Daytona Prototypes as the long term vision for the sports car racing in America, having a multiyear commitment from our fuel partner is another sign that the direction of the Rolex Sports Car Series and its North American Road Racing Championship is being supported by competitors and suppliers alike.”

10/31/03

2004 Grand-Am Schedule 
January 3-5 Daytona International Speedway Testing
January 29 - February 1 Daytona International Speedway 24 Hours
February 26-28 Homestead-Miami Speedway 250 Miles
April 8-10 Phoenix International Raceway 250 Miles
June 18-20 Watkins Glen International 6 Hours
June 30 - July 1 Daytona International Speedway 250 Miles
August 6-8 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 250 Miles
August 12-13 Watkins Glen International 200 Miles
September 10-12 Homestead-Miami Speedway 250 Miles
October 1-3 Virginia International Raceway 400K
October 8-10 Barber Motorsports Park 250 Miles
October 29-31 California Speedway 400K

10/31/03

***Reader Opinion***ISC was wrong, not CART  I would appreciate you cutting down on some of your harsh criticism of CART about the cancellation of the King Taco 500. You have every right to make your statements of the vein of "If I ran CART", however you need to remember some aspects of the real world. First, don't be so hard on CART about the cancellation. Your information, and what I have read in the Southern California press (I live in Orange County) was that CART did everything possible to hold the race. ISC forced them to cancel by putting out statements to the press of how insensitive CART was for wanting to hold the race while the fires were going on. Well the Kings, Lakers, Clippers, and Mighty Ducks have all held local sporting events the past week without those accusations. Second, CART was correct in being optimistic about having the race this Sunday. They very likely could now. For the last 3 days the winds have been blowing from the ocean, blowing the fire and the smoke away from Fontana. The last 2 days have been virtually smoke free, and the fires are now far from Fontana. With the change of the weather in the last 2 days with cooler temps., ocean fog and drizzles in the mountains, the fires locally have almost come to a stop.

With ISC claiming there were almost no dates to reschedule between now and the end of the year, I cannot believe that they could not reschedule someone's testing date or days for the NASCAR driving experience operation. There are no other races scheduled for that track. Even though you are big on the offer of Thanksgiving weekend, that is not as good as it sounds. The end of Nov. brings a much greater chance of rain to So Cal. which as a charity event brings even greater chance of a PR disaster than this.

Face it, this was ISC's chance to slap CART in the face. They did a very good job of it because they had all the weapons. An opportunity to "blackmail" CART into canceling the race and then accuse them of some sort of breach of contract when they do. It was your site a couple of days ago that said that CART should sue ISC for them canceling the race, but you said that they probably couldn't because of ISC being able to claim an "act of God" from the fires.

Remember that ISC has been pulling the same act here that they did at Michigan. 3 years ago they would run TV ads, newspaper ads, everything from August till the race weekend. This year there has been absolutely nothing. If you were not a racing fan, your only clue that a race was to happen (or would have happened) were a couple of articles in the sports page of the paper.  Mike Weyhrich  Another writes, Oh great, more negative press for CART. Here we go again... But wait, maybe this time it's not CART's fault. Stop the presses. Can that be?

It's disappointing that CART decided to cancel the Fontana race, but look at the alternative. Why in the world would they want to run the race Thanksgiving weekend? Would fans really want to brave the endless traffic of Americans returning home from their extended weekend trip to go see a race that has no implications on this year's championship and isn't even a points paying event, as suggested in a previous article?

My guess is that CART wants to spend November and December getting ready for 2004, the new beginning. I don't think they want to spend valuable time and manpower to run a race, when they need to work on the future of the series. This one race cannot save the series. I'm sure it's no coincidence that the only weekend ISC could find to hold the race was Thanksgiving weekend. Their inflexibility with rescheduling the race doesn't surprise me. I just hope Mr. Forsythe remembers this when NASCAR wants to race in Mexico City. The new owners of CART will be in a better position to take on ISC, CRAPCAR and possibly the IRL, if this battle is to still be fought.

CART attempted to find an agreeable situation that worked for both them and ISC, but it couldn't be found. CART shouldn't have to grab its ankles because ISC wasn't willing to work with them. For CART there's a new sheriff (actually 3) in town, and they need to focus on the future. Sincerely, Joe Yack

10/31/03

Fans invited to Starwood Team Jensen Toyota Atlantic fun day   UPDATE  Race fans who come watch the cars run can also get up close with the team to see their process in testing.  Also, young phenom Andrew Ranger - who won the Formula Renault Fran-Am championship this year - will drive for a half a day to sample the Atlantic car.   If you want more details, you can send an email to team@jensenmotorsport.com  10/31/03 - The weather is supposed to be nice this weekend in Toronto, so the Eric Jensen Toyota Atlantic team is going to take their two Toyota Atlantic cars to the Shannonville, Ontario track to have some fun on Sunday November 2nd. Those readers based in Ontario are invited to join them at the test. They would like to limit it to about 15-20 people, and obviously there are no costs.

10/31/03

***Reader Opinion***ISC anti-CART campaign Dear AR1, I am not surprised by the announcement that the King Taco 500 has been cancelled. This was a windfall opportunity for ISC to add another smear to its anti-CART campaign, adding yet more bad press responses and negative PR aimed at discrediting CART and its leaders.

It was obvious to me that ISC was not fully behind this event months ago. Regular newsletters from the Speedway had arrived throughout the year with no mention of the 500, the Champ Car World Series or ticket opportunities (except for a very small print reference to the website near the return address). The newsletter that did cover the 500 did not arrive until three weeks prior to the event (can't blame the postal service, I live 40 miles from the track!), hardly enough time for many of us busy people to be reminded to make travel plans, etc.

Even worse, local radio stations have been running ads featuring the NASCAR race on Saturday, with mention of the feature, the Champ Car 500 done in a mere whisper, where if one was not familiar with CART, Champ Car, or racing in general, the listener would not have a clue, and most likely not attend on Sunday purely on disinformation alone.

I love racing and like NASCAR, and attend their events regularly. But, after several years of witnessing the "Oval Cartel" exercising their negative machinations, I have second thoughts of ever returning even if it means missing one of my beloved Fan Club meetings.

Conversely, I am consoled by the bright prospects Messrs. Gentilozzi, et al have for the future of the series. I am confident that once ISC has exhausted all of its efforts to destroy what's left of what was once one of the "must attend" events of the year in Southern California, Messrs. Gentilozzi et al will create a new venue that will far exceed expectations and fill the void left by ISC. George N. Ponnay III, Fountain Valley, CA

10/31/03

CART might be sued by ISC over Fontana cancellation   [Editor's Note:  This now leaves zero doubt in our mind that CART should hold the non-points charity race on Thanksgiving weekend as we proposed] International Speedway Corporation, the parent company of the California Speedway. ISC said in a press release it wanted back most of the $2.5 million sanctioning fee paid to CART for the cancelled King Taco 500, which had been scheduled to run this weekend in Fontana but was called off due to the Southern California wildfires.  Even with CART possibly facing legal action by ISC, one member of the potential ownership group said Thursday that the sale should still go through. "Nobody could have predicted what happened this week (in Fontana), but we knew (CART) was losing money steadily," said Kevin Kalkhoven, who stands to own a third of CART if the sale goes through. "When we made our bid, we knew (what) the inside numbers were." CART officials could not be reached for comment. CART still has about $15.1 million left in its coffers, enough to pay the bills before the sale is approved by stockholders. That means the series probably won't be declaring bankruptcy anytime soon. Analyst Dennis McAlpine said that CART could even pay the money ISC said it is owed. "There is no reason why they shouldn't pay it," he said. "CART has already had enough problems with ISC. If they're smart, they should just pay it now." A lawsuit by ISC could slow down the sale, but it's not a deal killer, according to McAlpine.  Monterey Herald

10/31/03

AGR signs Kanaan through 2008  Andretti Green Racing announced today it has extended Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan's contract for an additional four years, securing Kanaan's services through the 2008 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series season. Kanaan, who initially signed a two-year contract with the team in September 2002, drove the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone to a fourth-place finish in this year's IndyCar Series championship. "I'm very happy to announce that we've extended Tony Kanaan's contract through the 2008 season," said Michael Andretti, who owns the team along with partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree. "Tony Kanaan is the kind of guy that a lot of people would want driving for them. Every time he is in the car, he stands on the gas and gives it 100 percent. That is the type of guy we want helping to lead Andretti Green Racing. Tony loves being on this team and we're really happy to extend his contract. He's going to be a big part of the future of this team."

10/31/03

Williams BMW re-sign Gene  The BMW WilliamsF1 Team today confirmed that Marc Gene has re-signed as the team's official test and reserve driver for the 2004 season.  Gene has undertaken testing duties for the team since 2001, and in three years of relentless work, has completed nearly 42,000 km of testing on the team's behalf.   As chief operations engineer, Sam Michael reflects: "Testing is the backbone of our racing performance and the essential hard grind of the job. I'm confident that the BMW WilliamsF1 Team could have no-one better as the mainstay of our testing program.   Marc is quick, consistent, and provides the team engineers with excellent and intelligent feedback. It gives me great confidence to know that he will be with the team again next year. I'm also comfortable knowing that Marc, if needed, can also race competitively as he showed this season."

10/31/03

Renna crash probe going slow  This Indy Star article talks about the Renna crash probe.  Tony Renna was below the normal racing line in the third turn of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he lost control of his car, crashed and died Oct. 22, the Indy Racing League's chief administrator confirmed Thursday.  Brian Barnhart, the IRL's senior vice president of operations, also said the Ganassi Racing driver was clocked at 227 mph -- likely Renna's first hot lap of the Firestone test session -- just before he flipped into the fence.  Taking an improper line through a racetrack's turn can cause a car to behave improperly.  Barnhart stopped short of calling the crash "driver error" because there are still too many questions surrounding the mostly unseen accident to figure out.  The IRL does not have electronic information downloaded from Renna's onboard computer and the standard black box because of the extensive damage done to the car, which broke at the driver's compartment. Black box data is designed to be stored for up to 180 days, but many of the chips inside the unit broke, Barnhart said.  Jeff Horton, the IRL's director of electronics, is leading the pursuit to recover the data.  Renna died of blunt force injuries to his head and chest.

10/31/03

Aerial View of Fontana fires  A photo of the Fontana track from space showing the surrounding fires.  The track is about half way down the photo.

10/31/03

***Reader Comment***Fontana race cancellation symbolic  Dear AR1, After reading about the disastrous decision by CART to cancel the Fontana race, I took a bit of solace in the whole symbolism of it. My hope is that much like the fires of California, CART has burned to the ground with all the idiots now ashes. Just like in nature, the new growth will begin. In five or ten years the charred area of California will be bursting with new life and the scars will be a distant memory. My hope is the new CART will experience that same rebirth. Arno Fritz, Milwaukee, WI

10/31/03

Marlboro lap leader award  This past Saturday night at the season-ending banquet at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Ina Broeman, Category Manager, Marlboro, presented Scott Dixon with a check for $20,000 for leading the most laps in the 2003 season (748 laps led in 14 different races).

The Marlboro Lap Leader Award program was designed to recognize the lap leader at each of the 16 races on the 2003 IndyCar Series circuit. In addition to the season-ending $20,000 bonus, the driver who led the most laps at each race received a check for $7,500 and the lap leader of the Indianapolis 500 received an additional $50,000.

Over the season $182,500 was awarded to six drivers who led the most laps on race day. The following drivers were lap leader winners in 2003:

* Tomas Scheckter (Indianapolis, Texas, Chicago and Fontana - $72,500)
* Scott Dixon (Pikes Peak, Richmond and year-end bonus - $35,000)
* Gil de Ferran (Miami, Kansas and Texas- $22,500)
* Tony Kanaan (Phoenix, Japan and Nashville - $22,500)
* Helio Castroneves (St. Louis and Nazareth - $15,000)
* Sam Hornish Jr. (Michigan and Kentucky - $15,000)

10/31/03

De Ferran and Castroneves fly with Blue Angels  Earlier this week, Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves had the unique opportunity to fly with the Blue Angels. The pair of Brazilians went to the Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, where they met the Blue Angels and watched them practice. After the practice session, the two had their own Flight Briefs before going on individual flights.

While the two are certainly used to speed, being up in the plane was a bit different than behind the wheel of the Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyotas. In fact, it was a little too much for Castroneves. "It's like they say - it was a unique experience and the opportunity of a lifetime," said Castroneves. "The G's were unbelievable. I got sick twice and I probably would have more, but they ran out of bags. But seriously, I had a great time - those guys are amazing pilots and incredibly talented. It was a lot fun, but I think I'll stay on the ground."

"It was one of the best and most unforgettable experiences I've ever had," said de Ferran. "I had a fantastic time. When the pilot pulled 7.5 G's, I nearly blacked out. Flying with the Blue Angels was like nothing I've ever done before, not even driving 241 miles per hour. I mean we did all sorts of maneuvers -we did loops, inverted flying, dive-bombing, we shot straight up in the air. If I had the opportunity to do it again, I would - again and again and again. I absolutely loved it."

10/31/03

Another Renault street demo  This weekend, as part of the Gran Premio di Cagliari, the Renault F1 Team will demonstrate the race-winning R23B around the streets of the Sardinian capital.

The Renault F1 Team roadshow rolls on! First, Fernando Alonso wowed the crowds last May on Madrid's Paseo de la Castellana. Just one week after his dramatic second-place finish in the Spanish Grand Prix, over 100,000 fans turned out to watch the new national hero demonstrate his race-car on one of the capital's main avenues.

Then in October, one week after the season-ending Japanese race, the cars were in action again. Running on a specially constructed street circuit in the shadow of Moscow's impressive university, Renault became the first team ever to run a Formula 1 car on Russian soil: the R23B attracted fifty thousand intrigued spectators to this unique event.

This weekend, the team will conduct its third road demonstration run of the year as the R23B takes to the streets of Sardinia. Enthusiasts attending the second Gran Premio di Cagliari on Saturday and Sunday will have a treat in store: as part of the lunchtime activities, the Renault F1 R23B will be unleashed for a number of high-speed runs around the tortuous street circuit, including full demonstration pit-stops and practice starts. Renault

10/31/03

Germans sign anti-tobacco pact  This grandprix.com article says that it was done without fanfare but on October 24 Germany, one of the major opponents to the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control formally signed the agreement, committing itself to the eventual banning of all tobacco advertising and sponsorship. This was a major blow for the anti-tobacco lobby as Germany has long been one of the opponents of international legislation. The number of countries to have signed the Convention is now 76. The treaty will come into force as soon as 40 of the 192 signatories have ratify the deal but that is expected to take at least two or three years.

10/31/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items 

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10/31/03

NASCAR still a small blip on the radar screen vs. F1   Americans think NASCAR is hugely popular, and by all accounts it is, until you compare it to F1.  While the average NASCAR broadcast gets about 5 million viewers in a large country called the USA, compare that to F1 (According to a study done by Eurodata TV Worldwide for 2003), which gets almost twice as many viewers per race in a small country like Italy:
Germany - 9 million viewers per race
Finland - 1.2 million viewers per race
Great Britain - 3.2 million per race
France - 3.6 million per race
Italy - 9.7 million viewers per race
China - 7.9 million viewers on CCTV5

Percent viewers watching F1

Country

2000

2001

2002

2003

France

7.7%

7.7%

5.7%

6.7%

Germany

13.8%

14.3%

12.8%

12.3%

Italy

19.2%

19%

17.3%

17.4%

Finland

22.4%

18.6%

20%

22.7%

UK

7%

6.6%

5.7%

5.8%

10/30/03

CART blows chance to turn a bad situation positive  Regarding the Fontana race cancellation due to wildfires, CART had the opportunity to turn a very unfortunate situation positive, but instead chose to cancel the race.  Certainly California Speedway and ISC were not  willing to bend over backward to help CART, that relationship was damaged years ago.  Clearly, ISC is in bed with the IRL these days, both being in the oval track business.  After inquiring about a possible race at Phoenix or even a weekday at Fontana, the only alternate date the Speedway offered CART was Thanksgiving weekend.

California Speedway continues to maintain that, contrary to the statement released by CART yesterday, the decision to cancel the race was CART's, not California Speedway's. "Tuesday night, we had postponed, not canceled the race, which meant we could still hold this race," California Speedway President Bill Miller told the Orange County Register, adding that he had offered to let CART run the race over Thanksgiving weekend. "I was surprised and disappointed by how CART handled this," Miller said.  CART left itself wide open with that decision, and Miller, gladly delivered a knockout blow.

We live by the motto, when in doubt just do what's right.  In this case, what would have been right would for CART to have taken the offer to race on Thanksgiving weekend, and make it a 2-day non-points affair.  The entire weekend could have been turned into a major positive PR blitz for CART.  All the firefighters, rescue workers and the victims and their families could have been invited to the race free of charge.  Collections and donations could have been made for all the victims and the entire weekend turned into a Southern California help-the-fire-victims weekend.  Californians would have turned out to buy race tickets, with the revenue going to the victims.  CART could have run their race in front of a packed grandstand, on a traditional Thanksgiving weekend when Americans are in a giving, charitable mood, and won over a lot of new fans. 

The engines and tires were already paid for, as were salaries and most other costs. Race tickets were already purchased by the fans who were going anyway.  All the CART personnel could have been home with their families on Thanksgiving Day, and used Friday to travel back to Fontana.  With all other racing done for the year, CART would not have had to share the limelight with any other series, most notably NASCAR, which monopolizes USA motorsports every other weekend. The Speedway would have welcomed such an event to help the local community and would have worked with CART to make it a success. What could have been a win-win for CART, turned out to be a lose-lose, and what little hope there was that perhaps someday CART and ISC could do business again when the IRL eventually ceases to exist, is now shattered.  If we were CART, we would be on the telephone to Bill Miller tomorrow, explaining their change of heart, and moving forward on what they should have done in the first place - race!  Mark C.

10/30/03

Planned Dubai track in Disney setting   DISNEY World in the desert?  Plans for a grand entertainment center were revealed in Dubai this month, with a scheme to turn barren desert into a fertile, glass-domed tourist attraction.

Now newspaper advertisements have started to appear in countries, including SA, to entice property firms, entrepreneurs and leisure companies to invest.  Dubailand could be an attractive opportunity for South African firms. Construction company Murray & Roberts has already won some high-profile projects, and the trade and industry department is pledging its support to SA House, a new initiative designed to help local companies enter the Middle East market through an alliance with a local partner.

Plans unveiled by the crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, show that Dubailand will span 2-billion square feet and feature 45 major attractions. They will include theme parks, a zoo, a water world, a film world, space centre, the world's biggest shopping mall, luxury hotels, a rainforest and dinosaur land.  On the sporting side, it will offer Olympic-sized stadiums, a Formula One racetrack, an equestrian center and a ski world. The vision is for Dubailand to lure 200,000 visitors a day.

But how the development will be funded has not been disclosed in detail. One possibility is that the government will build facilities such as walkways, libraries, galleries and museums. It could then either build the commercial developments such as hotels, shops and theme parks and lease them out to tenants, or simply sell plots of land and let property developers tackle the construction.  The Dubai Development and Investment Authority touts this as the biggest entertainment project ever undertaken in the Middle East. Overall investments are expected to top $5bn, but that excludes the cost of infrastructure.

The Dubai government has committed $700m for the first phase of developing infrastructure, with local and international investors expected to handle the main elements of the project.  The opening date for this dream world in the desert is slated for the last quarter of 2006.  Business Day

10/30/03

Priestley wants to return to racing  UPDATE  A reader writes, While your assumption might have something to it, you really should keep in mind there is a large world in racing outside of open wheel. Jason did drive for Multimatic in IMSA GT-1 using a Mustang. Because of his ties to sportscar racing, he could pretty much wind up road racing anywhere. His former team has ties to Panoz Motorsports, Multimatic also builds a car for the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype class, his good buddy Scott Goodyear drove with Brumos in some Grand-Am events, or he could go Trans-Am, Speed WC, or as you implied, Toyota Atlantics. Having seen him road race, I think anywhere he goes will be better because of his talent and name recognition. Chris Nelson   10/30/03 - In this AP article, severely injured IRL driver Jason Priestley says he may want to return to racing.  What it doesn't say is that Priestley stated previously if he returns, it will be road racing, which is much safer.  One would assume that might mean the CART ladder Series.

10/30/03

Robin Miller Wind Tunnel Comments  
Miller on the current danger level in Indy Car Racing: "After Kenny's (Brack) accident, I wrote a story that basically said that there had been 87 IRL races and 76 drivers hospitalized. When you are talking about 16 races on ovals, it is the most dangerous form of racing. When the IRL was formed, they dummied the Indy cars down so anyone could drive them. They put a lot of down force in them and took a lot of horsepower out of them so they were all jammed together because Tony George wanted to follow NASCAR's lead and wanted to have open-wheel NASCAR. There is no question that IRL has put on amazing displays of photo-finishes over the last eight years. Now that they have all these good teams and good drivers in this series and all the original guys have long since been forgotten, you have all these guys jammed on top of each other, but not like a CART race in that they can draft by each other, they are stuck together. They just have dodged so many bullets in the last years it's unbelievable -- like when they ran two abreast in eight rows at Texas for 45 minutes and nobody crashed, thankfully. If CART ran 16 ovals, they would have a lot more injuries than they do, that is the inherent danger of oval track racing. What we have seen this year, especially at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is for whatever reason, these cars are getting airborne on flat race tracks."

Miller on IRL cars flying: "The thing that is scary is how quickly they take off after they run over a wheel (or debris). Kenny just peeled off like one of the Blue Angels. On all these crashes, Kenny's, Tony Renna's and Mario's (Andretti), the debris and the pieces of the car that went through the catch fence -- now that is the issue here. Now, we have entered an area that is fan safety."

Miller's final thoughts: "Fans don't care about how fast the cars are going anymore. Nobody shows up to watch qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway anymore and that was the second draw in racing several years ago so speed doesn't make any difference. People want to see good racing and competition. You have to give drivers a reaction time. You hear NASCAR guys complaining all the time, "We are tired of being on top of each other at restrictor plate races."...Well, the IRL is restrictor plate racing at 220 mph and it's just a recipe for disaster. They can say all they want about, "Oh, you're biased -- you don't like us -- that's crap. You don't want to see 76 drivers get hurt you don't want to see fans get injured. You don't want to see drivers get killed. I think CART and the IRL have to look at slowing their cars down. CART only has a couple of ovals but they were going way too fast at Milwaukee. Whatever happens... if you get a car in the grandstands, it's going to be the end of open wheel racing, because insurance is tough enough for race tracks to get."

10/30/03

CART takes another blood bath - 3rd Qtr. Financials  Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (the "Company") (OTCBB: CPNT.OB) announced today financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2003.   More.....

10/30/03
Industry News

Johnny Boyd dies  Many of you will perhaps already know the details for the service for Johnny Boyd, however, some may not. Graveside services for Boyd will take place Nov. 4 in Clovis, California (a Fresno suburb.) Address of funeral home handling arrangements: 2970 E. McKinley, Fresno, CA 93703. The family requests that remembrances be sent to the 500 Oldtimers Club, c/o Jack Drive, Pittsboro, IN 46167-9503. A "Celebration of Life" party for Johnny is being planned for May 2004 at the Speedway.

10/30/03

NASCAR to expose electronics   NASCAR has had it with the finger-pointing, accusations and fruitless investigations about the use, uh, make that alleged use, of illegal traction control systems in its Winston Cup Series. Starting next season, Nextel Cup teams will have to mount all of their wart-ugly ignition parts, pieces and wires so that anyone strolling through the garage area can inspect the system through the front windshield. "They will be in full display on the dashboard," Winston Cup director John Darby said this week. "The Busch Series and Truck Series are going to have the same rule." Any traction control system utilizes the ignition system to send the right amount of torque and power to the rear wheels. With a traction control system in place, a driver would have a distinct advantage over other competitors with a regular ignition system, especially at NASCAR flat tracks. Prior to this season, most of the ignition system was hidden from sight under the dashboard area. Those in the know say all it would take to convert a plain old ignition system into a traction control beast is a preprogrammed computer chip. They say such a chip could be inserted into the ignition system by the driver just before the race and quickly removed after the checkered flag, making traction control virtually undetectable.  NASCAR doesn't want this kind of technology infesting its circa-1950s motor and electrical setups, but even after issuing a you-will-never-race-with-us-again-if-caught ultimatum about traction control, the whispers continued. When Darby talked about NASCAR's plans to bolt these electrical parts to the dashboard, he never uttered the words "traction control." He said the purpose of the rule is to let everybody else know what a team is running in their car. "Right now ignition systems are not in full view of every competitor," Darby said. "It goes along with our open garage, open inspection philosophy. With the ignition systems in clear sight of everyone, all the competitors can look at it just like they look at the body, springs and chassis."  Most everybody thought this was going to happen before the 2003 season because traction control was such a hot topic during most of 2002. Daytona Beach News Journal

10/30/03

Frentzen rejects the IRL  Reportedly after hearing of all the severely injured drivers in the IRL, Heinz-Harald Frentzen has rejected a switch to the IRL IndyCar Series, despite holding talks with team owner Eddie Cheever, according to this week's AUTOSPORT magazine.  The German, who is considering his future in motorsport after losing his Formula 1 drive with Sauber, looked likely to be offered a test with Eddie Cheever Racing. He was quoted in the German media earlier this week as eyeing a switch to the oval-based series.  "I can easily imagine a switch to the USA," said Frentzen. "As a passionate race driver, other kinds of driving excite me – even on an oval."  But Frentzen's manager, Monty Field, told AUTOSPORT that his driver had decided against ovals.  "We had looked at it, and we spoke with Eddie when we were over in the US for the grand prix. But we have now discounted it."

10/30/03

Tony Renna Eulogy  UPDATE Here is the card (PDF format) Racer Magazine produced for Tony's memorial service. The remembrance is written by David Phillips and the beautiful poem on the back cover was submitted without attribution by a friend. It sums Tony up perfectly.   10/29/03 - Here is a touching Eulogy for Tony Renna, written and delivered by Tony's Manager, Mark Coughlin, at his funeral.  We guess it says it all.  Eulogy

10/30/03

Paul Tracy - I did it my way   This Las Vegas Sun article says, "I went out there and won the championship the way that I drive -- and that's racing to the maximum every weekend," Tracy said. "You could say I did it my way because I didn't go out there and race for points or cruise around to collect points; I went out and gave it everything I had every weekend and sometimes I won and sometimes I failed."

10/30/03

Options for Fontana ticket holders   Pursuant to CART Champ Car’s release today regarding the cancellation of the King Taco 500, the following options are available for account holders with tickets to Sunday’s event. In addition, Saturday’s King Taco 200 NASCAR Winston West Series race has also been cancelled. Below are the ticket options:

  1. Apply money toward a 2004 California Speedway event – the face value of the ticket will be applied to a purchase for any 2004 event by the account holder;

  2. Donate the money to the American Red Cross Southern California Fire Disaster Relief Fund – the face value of the ticket will be donated in the account holder’s name;

  3. Use their tickets for this weekend’s event at Phoenix International Raceway – PIR is making a special offer for guests to redeem their California Speedway tickets at the PIR Gate 3 Ticket Office for this weekend’s NASCAR events;

  4. Refund to account holder only – refund will be conducted in the manner in which the tickets were purchased, i.e. if purchased by check, then a check will be refunded; if purchased by credit card, a credit will be given.

The speedway’s website at www.californiaspeedway.com currently has a form on it for account holders to download and fill out if they want to select option 2 or 4. The form must be returned to the speedway by November 14th.

10/30/03

Conine honorary race chairman for Homestead   Jeff Conine of the World Series Champions Florida Marlins has been named Honorary Race Chairman for the Ford 400 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season-finale race on Sunday, November 16 at the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway. As Honorary Race Chairman, Conine will greet each of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers as they are introduced during pre-race ceremonies and also ride along in the official pace car of the Ford 400. "Coming off this year's World Championship run, I'm psyched to now help crown the next champions to come through South Florida," said Conine. "I'm a huge NASCAR fan and having personally driven a Winston Cup racecar at Homestead-Miami Speedway, I realize what kind of athletes these NASCAR drivers are." Conine will also be heard in the track's radio advertisements encouraging fans in South Florida to attend Ford Championship Weekend featuring the season finales for the NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series November 13-16. "With the debut of the new track and the new banking, this is going to be one huge challenge for the drivers and one wild show that the fans will not want to miss," Conine said.

10/30/03


How long before more manufacturers leave NASCAR?   Pontiac announced their withdrawal from NASCAR on Tuesday.  How much time before Chevy, Ford and Dodge quit, realizing they are wasting their money?  While NASCAR is presently at its zenith of popularity and $$ interest, the big three continue to lose market share to foreign manufacturers in the marketplace.  The win on Sunday, buy on Monday mentality is no longer working with NASCAR, probably because the average NASCAR fan has less disposable income than, say a CART or F1 fan, and it's the fans who earn more money who buy the most cars.  And increasingly, the NASCAR fans are buying foreign cars.  In the future, if market sales trends continue how can NASCAR continue to race cars (1950's technology tube frame cars, with carburetors.)  that the public is increasingly not interested in buying and how can the manufacturers justify their expenditure in NASCAR?  Will the big three continue to support this series when the public is no longer buying?  Absolutely not.  That is why NASCAR is anxious to get Toyota and Honda into the series.  They sell cars people are now interested in buying.  How will NASCAR fare when Dodge, Ford and Chevy are replaced by Honda, Toyota and Subaru?  Ironically, all the manufacturers in technology advanced F1 have been gaining market share.  Food for thought as CART contemplates what its 2005 cars and engines will be.  Will they go the NASCAR and IRL dumbed down route that consumers are not interested in buying, or the more sophisticated route that consumers do purchase.  As AR1 has written on numerous occasions, CART will best serve its manufactures and the consumers in trying to mimic F1's high-tech, high-revving image as much as possible, and save money through standardization. When was the last time a person walked into a showroom and asked to buy a car with a carburetor and no electronic gizmos? Consumers buy the most technically advanced car they can afford. Steven Levinson/AR1

10/30/03

Tomas Scheckter interview  Welcome to the Indy Racing League teleconference for this week of Tuesday, October 28. Today we’ll visit with IRL IndyCar Series driver Tomas Scheckter. Scheckter finished seventh in the 2003 IndyCar Series point standings as a member of Target Chip Ganassi Racing and was named as the driver of the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone for the upcoming 2004 campaign. Earlier this month, he had his first opportunity to test with the Panther Racing team during a private test at The Milwaukee Mile.  Transcript

10/30/03

NASCAR points chase thins   NASCAR Winston Cup drivers in 7th place in the standings or lower are officially eliminated from the championship after last week's Atlanta's race. Drivers in 19th place or lower are eliminated from the top ten. Here are the details:
Drivers Who Can Still Win Title
1 Matt Kenseth 4678
2 Dale Jr 4420
3 Kevin Harvick 4416
4 Jimmie Johnson 4412
5 Jeff Gordon 4382
6 Ryan Newman 4329
Eliminated From Championship Hunt
7 Tony Stewart 4151
8 Bobby Labonte 4000
9 Bill Elliott 3845
10 Terry Labonte 3839
11 Kurt Busch 3813
12 Jeff Burton 3700
13 Rusty Wallace 3693
14 Michael Waltrip 3687
15 Jamie McMurray 3642
16 Robby Gordon 3613
17 Mark Martin 3531
18 Greg Biffle 3390
Eliminated From Top 10
19 Jeremy Mayfield 3377
20 Ward Burton 3354
21 Sterling Marlin 3347
22 Ricky Rudd 3296
23 Elliott Sadler 3222
24 Ricky Craven 3158
25 Joe Nemechek 3156
26 Dale Jarrett 3148
27 Johnny Benson 3107
28 Dave Blaney 2942
29 Jimmy Spencer 2933
30 Kenny Wallace 2806
31 Steve Park 2710

10/30/03

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10/29/03

The reality of the California situation  A fire captain just reported that within the last hour 150 homes on the east side of Lake Arrowhead were consumed. They did have one Chinook and one Erickson "crane" operating. Ten minutes ago all aircraft were grounded. It seems a real possibility that most of Lake Arrowhead could be history by tomorrow when the sun comes up. The TV had shown all these "little spot" fires. But each of these big fires started that way. They quickly grew to the size of a football field and then merged. There is a marine layer coming in, but it brings its own problems. No aircraft assistance, and no visibility for crews on the ground as the smoke can't escape. Fire does continue in the Devore area - the intersection of the I-15 and I-215. That area remains under mandatory evacuation. But there is nothing near the track, and as I recall in 1989 the World Series continued on in the aftermath of the earthquake. I believe the Speedway could have said "the show must go on." While some on-the-scene TV news people challenged the statement, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman just stated that they expect the fire to “take” the town of Running Springs in about an hour. She was asked three times in different ways and held to her statement.   The ValVerde/Simi Valley fire that became the Santa Clarita last night is now heading back to Granada Hills and the other end of Porter Ranch.  Two firemen are in critical condition and one is dead in their attempt to save Julian – the resort town east of San Diego.  As if the fires weren’t enough, we were just shaken by a 3.7 earthquake centered in Simi Valley.  Ahhhhh Southern California. Nothing boring around here. Jeff Skinner, Northridge, CA

10/29/03

Drivers worried about flying IRL cars  This Autosport article most likely says exactly what every IRL driver is thinking, but are afraid to speak their mind freely.  IRL IndyCar star Tomas Scheckter, whose replacement at Ganassi Racing, Tony Renna, was killed during his first test with the team, has voiced his concern at the number of big accidents in the series this year – specifically ones where cars have become airborne. Scheckter, who was also involved in the frightening accident that hospitalized Kenny Brack, says he also has faith in the IRL to minimize the risk of cars taking off as has happened on five separate occasions this year. "You have seen it [happen] maybe a little too many times," admitted Scheckter. "But I think there's been some weird stuff happening. Also, obviously, there's nothing you can do to keep a car down when it touches wheels with someone else because it's just like hitting a ramp, I suppose. The thing is going to get airborne. I have got full confidence that the IRL are going to do something about it and make sure that this doesn't happen as frequently as it has been happening." Scheckter, who joins Panther Racing for 2004, also spoke about his shock at the loss of Renna in testing at Indianapolis recently, who was hired to take his place at Ganassi Racing. "It's even hard for me to speak about it now," said Scheckter. "It was an extremely funny feeling. I was driving, I had to actually pull off on the side of the road because I had given Chip [Ganassi] a call just to speak to him to thank him about some stuff. He said 'Tony has been in a crash'. I said 'Sorry to hear that' but I didn't know anything. I thought maybe he just had a little bit of a bump, or whatever. "Then I gave Scott [Dixon, Scheckter's former teammate] a call and he told me the news. It was a bit shocking to be honest. It still is a little bit shocking now."

10/29/03

#0 penalized   NASCAR Winston Cup Series team Haas CNC Racing was fined, and forfeited championship driver and owner points for rules infractions during the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 weekend (Oct. 24-27) at Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR officials announced today. The #0 Haas CNC Pontiac was found to have an unapproved carburetor modification (to the venturi) during opening-day inspection. The result was a $25,000 fine for crew chief Tony Furr, the loss of 25 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship driver points for Ward Burton and the loss of 25 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship owner points for Gene Haas.  All parties were in violation of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rule Book, Section 12-4-A: Actions detrimental to stock car racing and Section 12-4-Q: Any determination by NASCAR Officials that parts and/or equipment in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules: Unapproved carburetor modification. NASCAR PR

10/29/03

Dale Jr. on Wind Tunnel   Dale Earnhardt Jr., will make his first visit to Dave Despain's Wind Tunnel on Thursday, Nov. 6 (from Rockingham) at 9 p.m. ET. Fans can send e-mail questions to windtunnel@speedtv.com or call 1-866-W-TUNNEL to be a part of the live call-in portions of the show.

10/29/03

Brack rehab update  Team Rahal driver Kenny Brack continues to make good progress with his rehabilitation of injuries from the Oct. 12 Texas Motor Speedway IRL IndyCar Series crash, said therapists at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana Wednesday. Dennis Conlon, PT, serves as Brack's physical therapist while Allyssa Wagner, OT, is Kenny's occupational therapist in the well-renowned rehab facility on the west side of Indianapolis. Brack, the 1998 IRL champion and 1999 Indy 500 winner, puts in several hours of therapy each day including strengthening of his upper body and improving the range of motion for his ankles and legs. He also works on self-care activities in occupational therapy. Brack, driver of the No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Honda Dallara, 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 working pretty hard in therapy right now," said Brack, the Sweden native now living in Upper Arlington, Ohio. "I was on my back for quite sometime so I'm getting back to doing normal activities and working on getting my strength back. I know it will take some time." "Kenny was in good physical shape prior to the crash," said Conlon. "He is working hard to get back to that kind of shape. But he knows it will take some time." After the Oct. 12 crash, Brack spent eight days at Parkland Hospital, two days in Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis before being transferred to RHI last Thursday (Oct. 23).

10/29/03

Wheldon sponsors renew  Andretti Green Racing announced today it has renewed contract agreements with both Klein Tools, Inc. and Jim Beam Brands Con for the 2004 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series season. The two companies operated as major sponsors of Dan Wheldon's #26 Honda-powered Dallara this past season beginning with the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500. Wheldon carried the Klein Tools/Jim Beam colors to five top-five and eight top-10 finishes en route to winning the 2003 IndyCar Series Rookie-of-the-Year title.

10/29/03

CART finale at Fontana now cancelled  The California wildfires that are currently burning in Southern California have led to the unfortunate cancellation of this weekend’s King Taco 500 at California Speedway, the race that would have been the final event of the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. The race was cancelled Tuesday evening by California Speedway management due to the spread of the fires. The first cars were not scheduled to be on track for this weekend’s King Taco 500 until Friday morning but the Speedway determined that the situation would not improve enough in that time to allow the event to continue.

“Our thoughts are with those families dealing with the disaster in Southern California and we hope for a speedy end to the situation,” said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. “Our diligence in pursuing the continuation of the race was only to ensure that we had exhausted every option available to us. CART Champ Car regrets that the event has been cancelled and we offered to explore every possible avenue, including running the event on Monday or Tuesday at Phoenix International Raceway – which is owned by California Speedway’s parent company International Speedway Corporation – or running at the California Speedway track sometime next week, allowing us to run this race in a safe manner and have a proper end to the 2003 season.”

The cancellation will put an end to the 2003 Champ Car World Series season at 18 races, meaning that Bruno Junqueira will finish as the runner-up to champion Paul Tracy, who clinched the title last weekend in Surfers Paradise, Australia. Junqueira was the season runner-up last year to Cristiano da Matta. Michel Jourdain Jr. enjoys the best finish of his career as he is third in the standings followed by series Rookie of the Year Sebastien Bourdais and Patrick Carpentier. The champion will be crowned next Tuesday night at the CART Champ Car Awards Celebration at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa in Palm Springs, California.

10/29/03

CARA Charity event cancelled  Due to the fires in California and the postponement of the CART race on November 2 at the California Speedway, CARA has canceled Runway Madness VI. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused our members and race fans. Patsy Hueber, CARA Charities

10/29/03

Petty rides with Blue Angels   Seven-time Winston Cup Champion Richard Petty may think he knows fast. Petty geared up to test his mettle with a supersonic jet ride courtesy of the elite U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Video footage of Petty's sound barrier-breaking experience with the Blue Angels will appear as part of the pre-race activities for the Checker Auto Parts 500 at the Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, November 2. Just like he did during his racing days, Petty again traveled at warp speeds. This time however, he was doing it at 20,000 feet in the air, in a two-seat Navy Blue Angel F/A-18-Hornet. Petty seemed excited for his latest challenge, even though he traded in his signature cowboy hat and sunglasses for aviator shades and flight helmet. "In all of my years of driving, I've never experienced anything like a ride in an F/A-18 fighter jet," Petty said.

10/29/03

CART fan disgusted with NSSN  An AR1 reader writes letter to National Speed Sport News (NSSN), Dear NSSN,  I recently received a subscription renewal for NSSN, a newspaper that I have been receiving for some time. When I subscribed to the paper, I thought it was supposed to cover all racing, including CART. After reading this paper, it did not take me long to find that this publication is against CART, and is a mouthpiece of the idiot grandson, Tony George and the IRL. This week was no exception, with the IRL headline, and of course, no mention of the near death of Kenny Brack where all could see. CART had 220,000 people show up for a race, and this story gets buried under two IRL stories that take up almost the entire page. Inside the paper, pages 22-24 take up all three pages with the IRL, including 10 photos. CART is covered on page 30-31 with three photos, to include two articles about the pending sale of CART (I guess since they weren’t negative, they didn’t make the front page, as the rest do). Since I cannot expect fair and balanced news from your paper, I decline to renew my subscription, as I only use it to line my birdcage. A very fitting use, considering the content. Patrick Brophy, Clinton, N.J.

10/29/03

Toyota cancels F1 sponsorship on ITV  Toyota has pulled out of its sponsorship of ITV's formula one coverage half way through a £25m deal, leaving the broadcaster with less than six months to find a new sponsor.  The Japanese car-maker has decided to curtail the deal two years early and plough its budget into traditional advertising instead.  The decision leaves ITV's commercial arm, Granada Enterprises, hunting for a sponsor before next season's racing starts on March 7 2004 with the Australian grand prix. Toyota said the company had achieved the levels of awareness it required from the sponsorship earlier than expected but reaffirmed its commitment to supporting formula one, albeit without ITV's help.  "We are delighted our broadcast sponsorship proved so effective. The regular idents succeeded in firmly establishing Toyota's F1 involvement with TV audiences," said Paul Philpott, the Toyota commercial director.  "Toyota's overall commitment to formula one will continue to grow," Mr Philpott added.  Toyota's team came eighth in the Constructors' Championships this year.  The Guardian

10/29/03

Siemens wins $13 million Bahrain circuit contract  Bahrain's Ministry of Works and Housing has awarded Germany’s Siemens a $13 million contract to provide the Bahrain Formula One Race Circuit project with technical infrastructure for its upcoming automotive events.   The scope of the contract includes the design, supply, installation and commissioning of such systems as the fiber optic network, digital video storage, communications network, video surveillance, public address system, race control management, signaling system, telecommunications (PABX), security management, time-keeping, SMATV and computer systems.   Siemens was additionally awarded a contract worth more than one million dollars for the Formula One Data Network.

10/29/03

Andretti says USA drivers the worst  This New Zealand Herald article says, Europe, Andretti says, has the best disciplined drivers in the world. "Like, I'm behind this car right here, and all I have to do is put my blinker on like this, and they'll move right over.   "In the States, just like that," he gesticulates at the Cefiro, "they just fall asleep. They are just oblivious."  It is kind of fun that the peeves about our drivers afflict Andretti as much if not more so than the average motorist.   And like many of us, his frustrations are soundly reasoned. "Things move much more smoothly because it prevents you from doing all the weaving and passing on the wrong side and all of that, and you can drive fast and be so much safer. Like I say, the States, they are the worst, the absolute worst!" [Editor's Note:  Where we work, people going slow in the fast lane are referred to as Left Lane Dicks]  More....

10/29/03

Dan Pettit to replace Jamie Rose  Former CFO for JDS Uniphase will replace Jamie Rose as CEO of MotoRock.   "MotoRock was a prototype when we did it at Miami," Kevin Kalkhoven told National Speed Sport News. "Jamie Rose was the creative guy for doing that and it worked well. It worked well enough that we are now willing to put some more money into it and we're bringing in a new CEO, a partner of mine named Dan Pettit. He will be running it." Gentilozzi added: "It will be a dramatically minimized role for Jamie, if there is any role at all. Dan is a great guy. He was CFO of Uniphase with substantial credibility. All of the relationships relative to MotoRock will change."

10/29/03

Initially Gentilozzi to handle CART CEO duties  Speaking to National Speed Sport News, Kevin Kalkhoven confirmed that he and his partners are looking for a CEO to replace Chris Pook, who will take on a consulting role. David Clare is expected to continue as CART's chief operating officer. "It's the early days," Kalkhoven said. "Initially, I'll sort of handle the administration and finance side of it. Paul will handle the CEO duties and we're talking to a number of people right now."

10/29/03

CART proxy statement still with SEC   Kalkhoven and Gentilozzi said that the proxy statement to be sent to CART shareholders for approval of the acquisition is still with the Securities and Exchange Commission. "We talk to the SEC virtually every day and we're working on it, but it's the government," Gentilozzi said. "It's their ballgame. We'd like to have the vote sooner than later and we're communicating to the government how urgent the situation is."

10/29/03

Surfers officials ecstatic with CART weekend   "I am a very happy man," said Lexmark Indy 300 chairman John Cowley. "Breaking the 300,000 figure is a milestone we are just ecstatic about. I think this is the biggest and best event from CART's point of view and I'd stack it up against any other event in the world." Cowley said the Australian extension was a vote of confidence for CART's future under the management of the Open Wheel Racing Series group that is bidding to acquire the company. "We knew CART was having problems and that's why they brought Chris Pook in," he said. But with the new owners, the race is very secure." Cowley's comments were backed up by Queensland Premier Peter Beattie. "There has been all sorts of press out of America about the future of the (Champ Car) series, but that's behind us now," he said. "The new owners are decent, easy men to deal with. They have the resources to make it work."

10/29/03

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10/28/03

CART Stars karting race moved   The 2003 Snap-on.com Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow presented by RACER Magazine national karting series has transferred its “Stars Karting Championships” scheduled for this weekend (Nov. 1-2) at California Speedway to the Moran Raceway in Beaumont, Calif.

Due to the massive wildfires in the Southern California area, the Champ Car event and the Winston West stock car race scheduled for California Speedway was postponed to a date to be determined.

The “Stars Karting Championships,” that was to bring over 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, will now be contested on the all-new Moran Raceway, a one-mile karting circuit 30 miles southeast of California Speedway in Beaumont, Calif.

Champions will be 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.

Registration for the Stars event at Moran Raceway will be on Thursday (Oct. 30) with practice sessions set for Friday (Oct. 31). Qualifications and heat races will run on Saturday (Nov. 1) with the main event set for Sunday (Nov. 2).

“With all of the commitments to the Stars Karting Championships, we were happy to find a site close to California Speedway,” said Paul Zalud, director of operations for Stars. “The Moran family have developed an excellent new facility and we believe the Stars event will be outstanding. We want to thank the Morans for their hospitality. Our sympathy goes out to the families who have lost valuable property in the devastating fires.”

10/28/03

Pontiac pulling out of NASCAR   Pontiac is pulling out of NASCAR. The manufacturer that won two of the last three Winston Cup championships announced Tuesday it won't return in 2004 -- leaving Chevrolet as the only General Motors brand on the stock car circuit. Five full-time teams currently use Pontiacs, with Ricky Craven providing the only victory in 2003. In the manufacturer standings, Pontiac is a distant fourth, trailing leader Chevrolet by 127 points. Ford and Dodge also race in Winston Cup. "The decision to withdraw from NASCAR was not an easy one," Lynn Myers, general manager of Pontiac-GMC, said in a statement. "Consistent with GM efforts to focus its racing programs, Chevrolet will carry the NASCAR banner while Pontiac can now devote resources to developing future racing and marketing programs."

10/28/03

***Reader Opinion***The more F1 drivers in CART the better   A reader writes, Dear AR1, There has been a lot of talk about the recent Kalkhoven comments on CART not going back to Europe. CART might not go back to Europe but one thing is clear: Europe is coming to CART. With the few seats available in the F1 grid, IRL's bad reputation of freak accidents and CART's new bright future; CART has definitely become an option for active European drivers (either young or veterans). Hopefully CART teams will get more sponsors for the 2004 season; that will make new teams to appear and also will help the current teams expand. We'll see the sign "Seats Available" hanging on CART's paddock door. If there's another exodus of European drivers to CART in 2004 that will always help the series because the level of racing will be even higher. A true racer will never be content with a testing option, he/she will always go for the real thing. Manning, Salo, Bourdais, Haberfeld, Monteiro will be rookies no more, and they will put their experience to work. PT will have no walk in the park. Look for a very competitive and exciting 2004 Championship. Roberto Reyes  Dear Roberto,  We expect to see more American and more non-American drivers in CART next year as the grid will almost certainly expand.  Mark C.

10/28/03

Fire causes postponement of Fontana race   We were the first to alert our readers of the fires in California last weekend and their threat to this weekend's CART race. Our worse fears have been realized.  California Speedway’s King Taco 500 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford event scheduled for Sunday, November 2nd, and the NASCAR Winston West Series King Taco 200 scheduled for Saturday, November 1st, have been postponed due to the state of emergency declared in San Bernardino County and surrounding counties as a result of the wildfires burning in the area. AR1's Steven Levinson went out to the area near Fontana today and reports you can't breathe right, that's how bad the air is.  Authorities announced a $60,000 reward later in the day and told NBC News that they believed all of the fires in San Bernardino County were deliberately set, beginning with the Grand Prix Fire, which broke out Saturday. Some of the others, including the massive Old Fire, were probably the work of copycats, they said. County authorities released a new composite sketch Tuesday of one man suspected of starting the Old Fire. Investigators were seeking two men in their early or mid-20s who were seen throwing flaming objects from a van along Highway 18. The 15 deaths in the state are the most since the devastating Oakland Hills fire killed 25 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes in October 1991.  See story on our home page.

10/28/03

Paul Tracy will return to defend CART title in 2004   This canada.com article says that there's no doubt in Paul Tracy's mind. He'll be back next season to defend his CART title. Last year's winner Cristiano da Matta left CART in favor of Formula One as did 1999 winner Juan Pablo Montoya. Gil de Ferran, who won back-to-back championships in 2000 and 2001, has since jumped to the Indy Racing League. But Tracy says he's committed to CART and the Player's-Forsythe team. "I've made my career in Champ Car," said Tracy. "I'm looking forward to coming back next year and having the number one on the car and driving for Gerry Forsythe." More...

10/28/03

First NASCAR test on Homestead banking   You would think that a driver who won at a Speedway might not be in favor of it being torn up and re-configured into a completely new racetrack. Not so with NASCAR Winston Cup driver Scott Wimmer, who won the Ford 300 NASCAR Busch Series race last November at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Wimmer and fellow NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers Johnny Benson and Dave Blaney were at the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway today in a Goodyear Tire Test, becoming the first drivers to test on the track's new surface featuring 20-degree, variable banking. "I think it's a big improvement," said Wimmer of the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway. "It's a lot different. I've already driven a couple of different lines out there and there are a couple of different ways around the track. The high side seems real good and so does the middle groove. I'm excited about coming back. The more rubber we get down and the more time we get on the track, it will have a lot of grooves and should be really good for racing." Benson and Blaney agreed with Wimmer's assessment of the new track. "I'm really impressed with it, although it still doesn't have any rubber on it since we're the first ones here," said Benson. "This place will become really fast and I'm sure you'll see two-wide racing." "I think we all like it," said Blaney. "I can't really compare it to any other track since it kind of has its own personality. Right now, it's got more of a middle groove than I thought it would. I thought we'd be running predominately on the bottom, but we really aren't. So far, it looks great. It's a cool track. It'll be a great show for the fans and that's what matters." The drivers will continue the Goodyear tire test tomorrow before the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Winston Cup Series return for their respective series finales during Ford Championship Weekend November 13-16 at Homestead Miami Speedway. Open practice for all drivers begins Monday, November 10 with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, followed by the NASCAR Busch Series on Tuesday, November 11 and the NASCAR Winston Cup Series on Wednesday, November 12.

10/28/03

Friends, family bid farewell to Renna  This Indy Star article sums up the feelings about Tony Renna on the day his friends and family said goodbye to the former IRL driver, tragically killed while testing last week at the Indy Motor Speedway. 

10/28/03

Menard merges with Panther  UPDATE Here is the official IRL press release - Panther Racing LLC and Team Menard have merged to form a two-car effort for the 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season, John Barnes, Panther Racing co-owner, and John Menard, owner of Team Menard, announced Oct. 27.  The team still will be known as Panther Racing, and Menard has been added as a partner in the team. The driver and sponsors of the second Panther Racing car will be announced in the near future.  On Oct. 11, Tomas Scheckter was named as the driver of the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone for 2004, replacing two-time IRL IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr., who will drive for Marlboro Team Penske.  The merger of Panther and Menard brings together two of the most successful teams in IRL IndyCar Series history. The teams have combined for four IndyCar Series championships, 24 race wins and 28 MBNA Poles.  “John Menard and Panther Racing have been long-time IRL supporters, and we have shared a lot of common interests over the last few years, particularly our relationship with General Motors and Chevrolet,” Barnes said.  “As we enter the 2004 season, we believe we will provide our sponsors and suppliers a much stronger force on the track having John Menard as part of the Panther Racing family.”   Menard has been involved in Indy-style racing since the early 1980’s, and in September, Menard Inc., a Midwest chain of home-improvement stores that he owns, became the co-title sponsor of the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series, the official development series of the IRL.   “The Panther Racing merger and our Menard stores’ new partnership with the Menards Infiniti Pro Series will continue our tradition and participation in the Indy Racing League’s great American sport of open-wheel racing,” Menard said.  The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season begins with the Toyota Indy 300 Feb. 29, 2004 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series season begins Feb. 29, 2004 with the Homestead-Miami 100 at HMS.  10/28/03 - Panther Racing has announced that it will merge with Team Menard as it expands to two cars for next season [Editor's Note: they bought Menard's equipment, not their employees.  "John Menard and Panther Racing have been longtime IRL supporters and we have shared a lot of common interests over the last few years – particular our relationship with General Motors and Chevrolet," said Panther co-owner John Barnes. "As we enter the 2004 season, we believe we will provide our sponsors and suppliers a much stronger force on the track having John Menard as part of the Panther Racing family."  Panther has already signed Tomas Scheckter as one of its drivers for next season, and is expected to announce its second shortly. In its search for a driver the team has tested Infiniti Pro Series champion Mark Taylor and Czech ace Tomas Enge among others.

10/28/03

Montoya keeps options open for 2005  "I am with Williams next year," the 28-year-old Juan Montoya told a news conference in Bogota Monday night. "I have a contract with them until the end of 2004.  For 2005 I am a completely free agent and I have to look at all the options and decide at that time which will be the best for me in the future, whether to stay at Williams or join another team," he added.   "Obviously, there have been talks with other teams and that is why there has been so much gossip."

10/28/03

GM strengthens 2004 program  GM Strengthens Chevrolet NASCAR Program in 2004 DETROIT - Following the end of the 2003 NASCAR season, GM will consolidate its resources in NASCAR to exclusively support the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and further advance and solidify the dominant position enjoyed by Chevrolet in this series. "GM Racing will focus its 2004 NASCAR program on the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and will no longer race or support the Pontiac Grand Prix race car," said Doug Duchardt, director of GM Racing. "This transition will enable GM Racing to strengthen its Chevy Nextel Cup program and, at the same time, work with Pontiac on its future racing plans." "Given Pontiac's long association with NASCAR and our many great accomplishments over the years, the decision to withdraw from NASCAR was not an easy one," said Lynn Myers, general manager of Pontiac-GMC. "Consistent with GM efforts to focus its racing programs, Chevrolet will carry the NASCAR banner while Pontiac can now devote resources to developing future racing and marketing programs consistent with our new performance products, including the GTO, Grand Prix Comp G, G6 and the GXP performance series. We are proud of our racing accomplishments and we recognize that it is a powerful engineering, people development and marketing tool. Pontiac is investigating new opportunities to highlight the performance of our vehicles on the track." Coming into the 2003 season, the Pontiac Grand Prix won two of the past three NASCAR Winston Cup drivers' championships: Bobby Labonte in 2000, and Tony Stewart in '02. Chevrolet has an ongoing record of dominance in NASCAR's modern era. Chevrolet has won 23 of the last 31 NASCAR Winston Cup manufacturers' championships including the 2003 title with 10 different drivers capturing 17 wins in 33 races so far this year. Through 2003 in the NASCAR Busch Series and Craftsman Truck series, Chevrolet has won 10 of 13, and five of nine NASCAR manufacturers' titles respectively. With 2003 drivers' titles still to be determined in both series, Chevrolet has won 11 of 21 in Busch and seven of eight in Craftsman Truck.

10/28/03

California Speedway President statement on fires   "We continue to monitor the fire situation in San Bernardino County and throughout Southern California. We are in contact with local officials on a number of items that may or may not effect the staging of this weekend's event, including the proximity of the fire, the air quality and transportation issues as many freeways are closed or are experiencing delays, as well as delays at numerous airports in the area. We have offered the use of the speedway to the county if needed to support the fire fighting effort or to assist as a shelter for families displaced by the fire. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been impacted by this tragedy, including many people associated with the speedway either as full-time staff, volunteers or ticket holders."  Bill Miller

10/28/03

Fischer open to CART or IRL race   We asked EuroSpeedway President Hans-Jörg  Fischer today what his opinion was of the rumored German drivers coming to both CART and the IRL, and what the prospects were for an IRL or CART race in the future at EuroSpeedway.  "Frentzen would be great for the Indy Car Series and the rumored young German Kaffer would be great for CART," stated Fischer.  "Both series should come to Europe and serve and develop their fan-base over here. There is no reason to stay away from Europe. I cannot believe the rumors about Mr. Ecclestone trying to prevent these series to come here. Why should he? Both series are no threat to F1 and will never be. It's two totally different motorsport cultures. Anyway - when both series make it over to Europe they should compete on the ovals in the two important markets England and Germany. That's how they will differentiate from all other forms of racing in Europe. That's what the European fans want to see. Didn't we deliver the most exciting CART race of 2003? The future will tell which series will start a serious effort to develop the European and the German market."

10/28/03

Pook says CART and IRL should merge   In this LA Times article, outgoing CART President Chris Pook says that CART and the IRL should merge  --  Chris Pook, for a few more days the head man at Championship Auto Racing Teams, says without a doubt that CART and the Indy Racing League should end their disagreements and unite as a single open-wheel racing organization. But he quickly adds that it's not going to happen very soon, and, consequently, CART must push ahead.  He then hints at the new owners bringing in new sponsors -- "We are remarkably positioned for delivering our product for the sponsors to the market in a diminishing world," he said.  "What sponsors?" he was asked.  "You'll see, when the new ownership is in place. There are some important people ready to step up and make decisions that are necessary for survival."

10/28/03

Theissen: 2003 was a big step forward  According to Mario Theissen, the development work on the FW25 has considerably contributed to the success of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team in 2003. The success record for the season 2003 of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team is impressive -- even if the World Championship title had not been secured in the end.  Mario Theissen looks back on the most successful season of BMW since their comeback to Formula 1: "We secured four victories, two of them were one-two wins. In addition, we are once more the most reliable team of the entire Formula 1 with 1,800 race laps completed. And we have been in contention for the Constructors' Championship title until the very last race."   More....

10/28/03

Latest F1 Hot News Items 

Still No Deal On Jordan F1 Power
Jaguar 'Upset' With Pace Of Sister R4
Chinese Ace Offered BMW-Williams Test
Frentzen Considers Move To States
Ralf Might Have Signed New Deal In Japan
Jordan Questions Fisichella Switch
Trulli Preferred 'Old Way' Of Qualifying
Jail Term Sparked Schumacher Success
Ecclestone Flies On Concorde's Last
Alesi Caught Speeding, Loses License
Lauda Gets Smart
Webber Piloted Jaguar Reform
Michelin Man Praises Renault
Webber Limbers Up For Challenge
Alonso Checks Out Progress On R24
BMW Compliment Williams Improvement

F1 Not Ready To Lose Champion: Webber
Williams Tester Feels Like A Winner
Villeneuve To Test For McLaren?
Button Takes On Challenge To Lead
Jordan Rides Again For Charity
Zonta Stays In Testing Role
Rookie Blown Away By F1 Development
Legend Advises Dixon To Launch F1 Career

10/28/03

Tracy on Wind Tunnel   Newly crowned CART Champ Car champion Paul Tracy will be Dave Despain's guest on Tuesday Night's Wind Tunnel show on SPEED Channel.

10/27/03

Scenes from Puerto Rican GP   All 10,000 seats were sold, and we would guess another 20,000 people in the General Admission and VIP tents.
PR16.jpg PR15.jpg PR11.jpg PR14.jpg PR13.jpg
PR12.jpg PR9.jpg PR8.jpg PR7.jpg PR6.jpg
PR4.jpg PR3.jpg PR2.jpg PR1.jpg 1.jpg

10/27/03
Industry News

RJR buys BAT's USA business (i.e. Brown & Williamson)   R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc. agreed on Monday to acquire British American Tobacco PLC's U.S. cigarette business and a second unit for about $3 billion, creating a stronger No. 2 competitor to market leader Philip Morris.

The new entity, to be called Reynolds American Inc., will boast annual revenues of about $10 billion and more than 30 percent of the cigarette sales in the United States, the companies said.

The cash and stock deal unites RJR's R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., maker of Winston (former NASCAR sponsor), Camel (former F1 sponsor), Salem and Doral cigarettes, with BAT's Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., the home of such brands as Kool (former CART sponsor), Pall Mall and Carlton.

The transaction is expected to add to both companies' earnings by an unspecified amount.

As part of the deal, RJR, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., will assume Brown & Williamson's liabilities under the tobacco industry's master settlement agreement reached with the U.S. government in 1998. RJR will also indemnify Brown & Williamson against any future litigation related to the U.S. business.

London-based BAT will, in turn, fund the appropriate cash for the settlement payments, currently expected to average about $750 million a year, an RJR spokesman said.

"The combination of these companies will enable us to achieve tremendous efficiencies and will greatly enhance our ability to compete effectively in the U.S. market," Andrew Shindler, RJR's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

10/27/03

New CART investor revealed   Gryphon Master Fund filed a Form 13G with the SEC October 16th reporting they now hold 5.8% of outstanding CART shares or 854,000 shares.  They are listed as a Texas Company but their contact address is in San Francisco.  Company Description: Gryphon Investors, Inc. ("Gryphon") sponsors leveraged acquisitions of and growth equity investments in middle-market companies in partnership with proven management teams. We focus on making equity investments of $15 million to $100 million in middle-market companies with enterprise values of $50 million to $500 million. In addition, Gryphon opportunistically pursues compelling larger and smaller investments. Gryphon's initial fund, Gryphon Partners, L.P. raised in 1996, enabled us to lead over $100 million of equity investments in 1997 and 1998. Raised in 1999, Gryphon Partners II, L.P. (the "Partnership") is a uniquely structured, $424 million investment fund whose limited partners include some of the United States' most successful investors, largest public pension funds, leading lenders, and wealthiest individuals. Since its founding, Gryphon has led investments in ten platform companies and arranged over fifteen add-on acquisitions.

Gryphon was founded in 1995 by David Andrews to create a leading investment firm whose people, strategies and culture are well-suited for the increasingly competitive environments of business and private equity investing. Prior to forming Gryphon, Mr. Andrews was a Managing Director/Partner of Oak Hill Partners, Inc., the management company of Acadia Partners, L.P. ("Acadia"), a $1.8 billion investment partnership controlled by Robert M. Bass of Ft. Worth, Texas. The four other principals of Gryphon are Kurt Kaull, Will Lynn, Nick Orum, and Jeff Ott. Mr. Orum joined Mr. Andrews in co-founding Gryphon in 1995, while Messrs. Kaull and Lynn joined the firm in 2000 and Mr. Ott in 2001. The Gryphon team also consists of fourteen additional professionals with meaningful private equity or operating experience.

10/27/03

Will fire put CART's Fontana race in jeopardy?   4th UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1, Undoubtedly there are race fans who live closer to the Speedway than I do. So I will not speculate, but only report what I do know. The few square miles surrounding my home and office have the only smoke free skies in the LA area. The helicopters reload water for the Simi Valley fire a mile from my home. Eight engine companies were “marked” and waiting for assignment at our local fire station. The command helicopter is almost directly over my office. A five engine strike team just went past our office. One employee went home to pack his valuables – but does not appear to be in the line of the fire – but that has changed everywhere – sometimes quickly. The friends I would normally stay with near the Speedway have been evacuated. Although there is a hopeful report that cool, moist air is due in from the ocean late Tuesday or Wednesday, these fires will not be out for at least a week. While you can check your primary sources, I would not be surprised if CART is having difficulties getting their planes into the area. The I-15 and I-210 are both reported to be open. But here is the bottom line: If the race had been scheduled for last Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Today, or Tomorrow, my four $110.00 tickets would have gone unused. It just may be that the timing of the weather will permit the race to go on – AND allow fans to psychologically be ready to attend. I sure hope so. But I no longer expect any attendance record. We have – and still are – going through some very worrisome and prayerful times. From the San Fernando Valley,  Jeff Skinner, Northridge, CA.   10/27/03 - The fires have gotten worse - the worst fire in a decade -- have killed 14 people, and one man who lost his home in Simi Valley lamented, "There is nothing left."   Sheets of flame from at least 10 fires had burned more than 280,000 acres and destroyed at least 600 homes by Sunday night.  Fires blazed as far north as Simi Valley in Ventura County, east to San Bernardino County and south to San Diego County. San Diego officials said about 30 homes were burned at Scripps Ranch on Sunday night, and 150 burned in the area earlier.  Dubbed the Grand Prix fire, it has grown to 52,000 acres, destroying 60 homes, and the Old fire had grown by Sunday night to 24,000 acres and had burned 300 homes, including 25 in Crestline. After a request by the mayor, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that the Chargers-Dolphins game scheduled for Monday night would be moved from San Diego to Tempe, Arizona. The game will be played at Sun Devil Stadium at 7 p.m. (9 p.m. ET). Santa Ana winds were blowing at 20 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph, CNN meteorologist Orelon Sidney said. She predicted no letup in weather conditions until Tuesday.  We do believe CART's race this weekend can very well be in jeopardy. 10/24/03 - A TV panorama shot at Noon PDT showed clear air along the I-10 near the Speedway. Probably our last report on this topic.  10/24/03 - The fire is now to the west of the I-15 "moving away" from the Speedway. Cherry Avenue is/was the major evacuation street. While the Speedway is not in any danger, if the fire were this weekend, the race would probably not happen.  Looking at the maps and the TV coverage the track seems to be covered in a blanket of smoke and there is emergency equipment all over the place - from all parts of California and crews are being flown in from other states. While tragic and very scary for families in the area, the timing may indicate a change in luck for CART. We'll keep you up-to-date.  Related article. 10/24/03 - California is know for its runaway brush fires.  It has been very hot and dry in southern California of late.  Just received this bulletin - Officials have imposed a FORCED EVACUATION near the intersection of the I-10 and I-15 freeways in Fontana and have specifically mentioned Etiwanda Street.  California Speedway is bounded by Etiwanda Street and Cherry Avenue.  For race fans this could mean trouble for the Speedway.  At present they are making no attempt to stop the fire. The winds are too strong. The winds are expected to last two or three more days. This is a Major Fire.  Mark C.

10/27/03

Wirdheim to test for Patrick Racing in Arizona   This year's International Formula 3000 Champion – Bjorn Wirdheim, will sample Champ Car power for the first time next week as part of his prize for taking this year's title in his Arden International run Lola.

The 23 year old Swede will undertake his first test at the new Arizona Motorsports Park in Arizona with Patrick Racing, one of CART’s most established and respected teams. Patrick has run a Lola B2/00 Champ Car this season for Spaniard Oriol Servia.

The test is part and parcel of a commitment made by Lola Cars earlier this season to further continue the links between F3000 and Champ Car. Wirdheim is set to work with one of Champ Cars most respected engineers, Jim McGhee, who has guided the likes of Nigel Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi to CART titles.

Wirdheim has enjoyed a superb season in International Formula 3000 this year, winning 3 races, claiming 9 podium finishes and clinching the title with 2 races in hand. After claiming the crown, Bjorn made his Formula One debut at the United States Grand Prix, undertaking Friday morning testing for Jordan. He has also tested for BAR.

“I am very much looking forward to making the most of this opportunity and am pleased that it is with a top team like Patrick Racing,” anticipated Wirdheim. “I met Jim McGhee at Indianapolis before the Grand Prix and got a good impression of the team. I expect the car to be very different to F1 but it will be interesting to see how things compare in style and handling. It is also nice to be continuing the Lola link in to a different category.”

Christian Horner, team principal at Arden International was also looking forward to the test and said: “This test is a great opportunity for Bjorn and just reward after a totally dominant season. This is the first time that the F3000 Champion has been rewarded with a guaranteed test and I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Lola and Patrick Racing for making this possible.”

10/27/03

Dominguez penalized by CART for losing wheel   Mario Dominguez crossed the line in 7th at Surfers Sunday.  However, CART rule 6.21.3A specifies that a car that loses a wheel on track will be penalized the loss of one lap and the team is fined $5000. The penalty dropped Dominguez to 10th place.  “That was a lot of work today,” Dominguez said. “With everything that happened, I would have been happy with where we crossed the finish line in seventh but rules are rules so we take our penalty. At least we finished and brought home a couple of points."

10/27/03

F1 Exchange opens online  A new online trading service for Formula One merchandise has been launched – offering some new money-making channels to teams and traders.  Exchange F1 offers teams the chance to tap into a new revenue stream by selling off promotional items to fans and collectors.  Said a spokesman for Exchange F1: “This offers F1 teams the opportunity to sell unused press packs, merchandise, car parts, autographed equipment; it offers F1 retailers the chance to sell end of line merchandise, returns, unsold stock, special offers; it offers F1 travel companies the chance to sell those unsold tickets, hotel rooms, hospitality packages; it offers collectors the chance to buy and sell programs, merchandise from teams, autographs, books, magazines, portraits and artwork, die-cast models and anything else that members of the public collect that is F1 related; and if offers accredited photographers the opportunity to sell photographs to the public.”

10/27/03

Pakistan delegation visits Bahrain  With India, Russia, Turkey and South Korea all hoping to host rounds of the Formula One World Championship, it shouldn't come as any surprise to hear that a delegation from Pakistan visited the Bahrain International Circuit recently to see how work is progressing.  It's understood that Pakistan Ambassador Major General (retired) Sabih Uddin Bokhari, together with a delegation of 40 community members were given a tour of the circuit in order that they could see its facilities which are still under construction.  The visit included a presentation by consultant engineers Tilke and Partners' project manager Rizwan Mumtaz.  PitPass

10/27/03

Ford working with NASCAR on engines  Ford has been working very diligently with NASCAR to try to improve their engine program. That's going to consist of a new cylinder head, and they've also requested a new block. NASCAR has not approved either one yet.  FoxSports

10/27/03

Seen in Surfers  FIA safety delegate, Charlie Whiting was roaming the track at the Australian venue.  A familiar sight at F1 races, but not one you would expect to see at a CART event, He was soon joined by another representative of the FIA. The two men drove the circuit taking photos at certain points, and paying particular attention to access gates.  CART races are FIA approved races and a big part of Whiting’s job is to inspect certain venues to see if they are up to FIA standards.  No one should take his visit as a possibility that F1 might race at Surfers.  We previously reported the Dario Franchitti sightings, who is rumored trying to line up a Champ Car ride.

10/27/03

New owners of Zhuhai have big plans  [Editor's Note:  This article talks about a possible 2nd F1 race at Zhuhai, but we can tell you that people representing CART are also talking to the Zhuhai folks]  This TheStar.com article says, THE intensity of a Formula One race is undeniable, especially when drivers take the bends and straights passionately with the ultimate aim of finishing as No. 1. And for some, just finishing the race is the quest. When it comes to the bottom line, though, revenue at any circuit cannot depend solely on races. With this in mind, Malaysian property developer LBS Bina Group Bhd has activated a plan to turn its inherited Zhuhai International racetrack in the south Guangdong province into a tourist attraction – complete with tour guides, souvenirs, a go-kart track and a motoring museum.

“Even if we have a race every month and rent out our garages, this is still not enough. We cannot depend on races alone. We must create the racing circuit as a tourist spot,” said the company's managing director Datuk Lim Hock San.

The plan also includes providing guided tours around the circuit. International Circuit (ZIC) Ltd president, said he hoped to start the tourism project next year. A marketing blitz and tie-ins with tour agencies from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore are needed to make the idea a success, he said. The initial target is for one million visitors yearly, and the company is confident of achieving this.

“Guangdong's population alone is 70 million and China's people is 1.3 billion. We are not even talking about Hong Kong yet,” stressed Lim. Designed by Kinhill, the company which also designed the tracks in Adelaide and Melbourne in Australia, the Zhuhai International racetrack was supposed to be China's first Formula One circuit. It opened in 1996, but it failed to meet international standards to hold Formula One races. Shanghai has now beaten it to that dream with the SIC (Shanghai International Circuit) hosting the Formula One next year. But Lim is upbeat that the ZIC will realize its Formula One ambition soon. After all, he said calmly, China is a big country and could easily accommodate another leg in the Formula One calendar. This notion was also not dispelled by Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone when he signed the deal with Shanghai last year.

 

In addition to the racetrack, LBS also acquired a 36-hole golf course and a 150ha residential development project. LBS is very upbeat about the entire project because of the booming Chinese economy. The construction of a bridge connecting Hong Kong and Zhuhai, and Hong Kong's relaxation of its visa ruling for tourists from mainland China, are also a big help.

“It is definitely a project with great potential. The property market is expected to go up between 10% and 20%. In fact, even before the completion of the bridge, the market is already booming,” said Lim.

“When the bridge begins operations in 2007, the number of tourists will be higher. Hong Kong people will be encouraged to tour China.” ZIC director and executive vice-president Joe Lim, 47, who has been with the circuit management since its beginning, is understandably happy with the way things are now turning out for ZIC. “LBS has revitalized the circuit and renewed interest in it. Previously, it was too early and the automotive industry in China was not there,” he said.

He said there was now “a lot of interest” in motor racing, which served as an incentive for the automotive industry to perform and prove their brand's reliability. Joe said the circuit has 40 pits and more than 200 garages, which were fully rented out. It can accommodate up to 80,000 spectators. Its grandstand has 12,500 seats, and it also has a medical emergency center and parking lot.

“The track could be more challenging. It has 14 turns and top speeds can average about 270kph. But there is a good chance of upgrading it to an F1 circuit,” Joe said. The rejuvenated circuit will play host to at least 10 events next year. These include the International FIA GT Race, Formula Renault and two national events. Joe also said that an Asian championship series was also possible as ZIC planned to work with other circuits such as the Sepang International Circuit and those in Japan. “The thinking now is to educate China's population who are very curious about motorsports. It is all about building up a new sport. It's just like soccer. Fourteen years ago, hardly anyone played,” he said with a smile.

10/26/03

First Chinese driver to test F1 car  2003 Formula BMW Asia champion, Tung Ho-Pin, has been awarded a test drive with the BMW WilliamsF1 team sometime over the coming months. Guido Stalmann, BMW Motorsport General Manager of Sponsorship and Business Relations announced the test at the official Formula BMW Asia prize giving in Beijing, China yesterday.  "We have been watching Tung all season, and with ten wins in the series this year, we recognize his potential," Stalmann said.   This was the inaugural season for the series and it attracted tremendous attention, establishing itself as the most professional and comprehensive training ground for young drivers embarking on a single seater racing career.  "The fact that Tung has been given this opportunity, will show ambitious and talented young drivers that Formula BMW Asia provides an important and powerful launch to their careers," added David Sonenscher, Managing Director of series organizer Motorsport Asia Limited.

10/26/03

Gentilozzi: Surfers teaches him how to promote a race  “As a support series, the V-8s are very important because they have a big fan base and they belong on our weekend (Surfers),” said Paul Gentilozzi. “The thing I learned the most from here is how to promote a race right. This is a race that shows how you get a city and a country behind you. This race tells the world how good we can be.”  CART.com [Editor's Note: We see this in many places.  Where CART gets big crowds the promoter knows how to promote.  Where crowds are small the promoter has no clue.  Solution?  Change promoters, or change venues.]

10/26/03

Vasser: Surfers race must be earlier in day  Jimmy Vasser suggested that after two consecutive rain races, the Surfers Paradise organizers could take a look at the schedule. Sunday’s race started at 2:30 p.m. before a record crowd of 108,116. “We have had a lot of crazy events here,” he said. “Maybe the promoters will figure out that the rains come sometimes after 2 and our races are always at two or three, so we're always asking for trouble. It would be probably better to start the race a little earlier on in the day. “The V-8 Supercars have windshield wipers - maybe they can fare in the rain a little bit better than us.”  CART.com

10/26/03

A lesson from the CART/IRL split  The Jim Lehrer News Hour program about 3 or 4 weeks ago had a segment about the current spate of lower TV sports ratings. The segment sighted the slight drop in professional stick and ball sports TV ratings, plus sighted several key reasons why they are having a spike. The key reasons sighted, games spread out over cable TV, and network TV, which network TV is the preferred outlet. They noted that fans had numerous conflicts in either choosing the game they wanted to see, or the game with the star player that they wanted to see, or tuning out because they could not see either. The stick and ball sports people also have more product than outlets, plus the ever spiraling salaries are making their product cost prohibitive for cable. The segment went on to sight motor sports, namely NASCAR, as showing increased sponsor interest, due to motor sports events not being splintered like stick and ball events; and all the star players are at the same event.  Tony George, by creating the IRL, split the sport of Indy Car racing in half, thereby splintering the fan base and increased the number of TV choices.  The stars were not at all the same races each weekend.  Ratings for Indy Car racing never recovered, and in fact, the IRL saw a significant drop in 2003.

10/26/03

Guy Smith and Pedro Lamy to test Champ Cars  According to Autosport magazine, LeMans winner Guy Smith will test a Champ Car with PK Racing at the end of the year.  Meanwhile, ex-Lotus F1 driver Pedro Lamy could make it an all-Portuguese team when he tests for Fittipaldi-Dingman later this year.  Portuguese rookie Tiago Monteiro already drives for the team and will be back next season.  Smith had an opportunity to race in the Champ Car season finale at Fontana with an unnamed team, and a strong chance of a full-time ride in 2004. We suspect if he tests well with PK Racing, and assuming Jacques Villeneuve doesn't change his mind about driving in CART, Smith might land a seat alongside Mika Salo at PK Racing.  Our sources tell us CART might be back in Europe in 2005, after taking a one-year hiatus, we believe at the request of Bernie Ecclestone, and the Estoril, Portugal Mayor has already publicly stated they are prepared to financially support a CART race in 2005 and beyond at the famous Estoril circuit.  We could see an Estoril-EuroSpeedway swing in 2005.

10/26/03

Hunter-Reay first American rookie to win since John Paul Jr.  Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first American rookie to a win a Champ Car race since John Paul Jr. won in Michigan in 1983, two years after Hunter-Reay was born. He started the sunny then rainy then sunny event in the 12th position and broke the top six by the sixth lap of the shortened 47 lap race. Hunter-Reay drove like a veteran as he avoided nine on-track incidents and brought his Reynard home in first position. It was a day for history as Hunter-Reay went from the fastest Reynard in qualifying to the fastest of the race, in fact for the first time all year, the Reynard’s finished 1-2-3 and for the first time since 1983, Rookies finished first and second. It looked as though it would be an American Spirit 1-2 finish when the American duo took the lead on lap 34, due to brilliant strategy by American Spirit engineers David Brown, Chris Leiphart, Ed Nathman, Garrett Mothersead and team manager Graham Taylor. Vasser lost his second place position when he brushed the wall and England’s Darren Manning took over. It was still a fantastic drive for Vasser; he earned his first podium finish of the season after another strong Australian performance.  American Spirit PR

10/26/03

Difficult celebration for Dixon  This Indy Star article says, Race car driver Scott Dixon didn't read from a script Saturday night in delivering his Indy Racing League championship acceptance speech at Walt Disney World. He just spoke from his heart.  Dixon spoke mostly about former teammate Tony Renna, who was killed Wednesday in a testing crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dixon described Renna, the newest member of Ganassi Racing, as "a superb teammate and just a superb friend."  Dixon and Renna were teammates in Indy Lights, remaining friends and training partners.  "Wednesday was sort of unbelievable, and even now you think he's going to walk in the room," Dixon said. "I think we should have a good night and have a drink for him."  A public memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Monday at St. John's Catholic Church in Indianapolis.  Team owner Chip Ganassi called Renna, 26, an "immensely likable" person and vowed to keep him in the team's hearts.  Ganassi remembered Renna as "the happiest person on the planet" when he stepped into one of the Target-sponsored cars for the first time Wednesday. Renna's death made it difficult to celebrate, he said.  "It's a bit of a conflict," he said.  IRL founder and president Tony George opened the event by telling the crowd of 750 that the league is a family that celebrates and grieves together. He led a moment of silence for the native of nearby DeLand, Fla.

10/26/03

Record crowd of over 300,000 in Surfers  Today’s race-day attendance of 108,110 pushed the four-day CART Surfers total to an Australia event record 306,184, a figure that is up nearly 8,300 from last season. This follows on the heals of CART's Mexico City race which saw over 400,000 come through the gates over the three days.

10/26/03

Ford to construct two new plants in China  Should CART be racing in China?  Absolutely.  Here is just another example - This Detroit Free Press article says,  In a move underscoring the emergence of China's auto industry, Ford Motor Co. announced last Friday it would spend more than $1 billion to increase its production in China from the current 20,000 units to 150,000.   Ford and its Changan Automobile Group partner said they would build a second manufacturing plant along with a new engine plant. Details are to be announced later.

"I can think of no better way to celebrate our centennial year than by announcing plans for expansion," Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford said. "The automotive future of China is very bright, and we are participating fully in its growth."

In January 2003, Ford's plant in the western city of Chongqing launched the Ford Fiesta, Ford's first domestically produced car in China. In May, a second Ford passenger car model, the Ford Mondeo, was introduced.

"The rapid growth of the Chinese economy can be attributed directly to the forward-looking policies of the government and to the increasing well-being of the Chinese consumer," Ford said. "I came to Asia to see directly for myself the dynamic growth that is occurring.

"China, at present the second-largest automotive market in Asia and potentially the largest in the world within the next generation, is the logical place to conclude what has been for me a most successful trip."  Ford was a relatively late arrival in China, beginning auto production in 1997, and is trying to catch up with U.S., German and Japanese rivals.

Germany's Volkswagen AG makes 880,000 vehicles a year in China and recently announced a multibillion-dollar expansion to double that in coming years. General Motors Corp. recently stepped up its manufacturing capacity in China to 200,000 cars per year, the Asian Wall Street Journal reports.

"They need to expand to catch up with other automakers," Mei Luwu, an analyst at Penhua Fund Management in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, told Bloomberg News. "But they'd better bring in more up-to-date models, as General Motors have done, instead of introducing old ones."

Ford's announcement comes as the Chinese government reported its economy, the world's sixth-largest, grew 9.1 percent in the third quarter, a faster pace than its 6.7-percent expansion in the second quarter.

Car sales in China smashed the million-unit barrier last year and are expected to rise to some two million sedans this year. But analysts warn that too much expansion could cause a serious glut that will erode margins.

"Every carmaker is expanding in China because the car market grows at an average 50 percent every month," said Gu Qun, who tracks carmakers at Automotive Resources Asia Ltd., an industry consultant, in Shanghai. "It makes sense to expand."

10/25/03

Close racing can't stop IRL TV rating plunge  This Indianapolis Business Journal article says, Thirteen of the IRL series' 15 races held in both 2002 and 2003--including the Indianapolis 500--saw television viewership decline this year.  "TV ratings are the linchpin on which so much hinges," said Dennis McAlpine, a Scarsdale, N.Y.-based financial analyst covering motorsports and entertainment. "The IRL has a problem with its TV ratings that needs attention, because without TV viewership, live attendance falls, future broadcast contracts become difficult, current sponsors become uneasy, and potential sponsors more difficult to attract."

On-track racing this season has been ultracompetitive; five drivers were battling for the season title going into the final race Oct. 12 at Fort Worth, Texas.  "The racing has been excellent, but the numbers are down, and I'm not sure why," said Zak Brown, president of Just Marketing, an Indianapolis-based motorsports marketing consultancy.  IRL officials said a drop in TV ratings is happening across sports.

"It's not fair to look at these numbers in isolation," said Ken Unger, IRL senior vice president of business affairs. "PGA Golf, the [National Hockey League], Wimbledon, the NCAA basketball tournament, NHRA and a number of other sports properties all saw a decline in TV ratings this year." A general sports-viewing malaise, industry sources said, can't explain ratings that have languished largely below 1.0, a rating given by New York-based Nielsen Media Research that indicates roughly 1 million households have tuned in to a program.  With the exception of the Indianapolis 500, IRL races drew ratings ranging from 1.8 to 0.4 in 2003. The Indianapolis 500 earned a 4.6 rating, down from 4.8 in 2002. Twelve of 16 IRL races earned ratings below 1.0, compared to seven of 15 last year.

10/25/03

CART announces nominees for Greg Moore Legacy Award  Among CART Champ Car drivers, perhaps no award other than the Vanderbilt Cup is more coveted than the one that is given in honor of a racer that may have seen his own name etched on the historic championship trophy had it not been for his untimely death in 1999.

The Greg Moore Legacy Award was created in 2000 and is given annually to the driver that best represents the ideals and talents of the Canadian star, who met with tragedy in the 1999 CART season finale. The award is presented to the driver who best typifies Moore's legacy of outstanding talent on track, as well as displaying a dynamic personality with fans, media, and the CART community. As Moore was a product of the CART Ladder System - having competed in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship from 1993-95 and winning 10 of 12 races en route to the series title in 1995 - drivers from the top two CART development series are also eligible for the award.

This year’s award nominees include Champ Car veteran Jimmy Vasser of American Spirit Team Johansson, series Rookie of the Year Sebastien Bourdais of Newman/Haas Racing and Walker Racing’s Darren Manning. The Toyota Atlantic Championship is represented by Michael Valiante and Barber Dodge Pro Series champion Leo Maia rounds out the quintet of nominees.

“Greg Moore was one of the brightest stars in the CART Champ Car World Series and would likely have gone on to great things in the sport,” said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. “I have no doubt that Greg would have had the kind of racing career that many can only dream of. The five drivers that have been nominated for the 2003 Greg Moore Legacy Award have shown the same spirit and dedication throughout this season that Greg had throughout his entire career. This is an extremely special award, and all of the drivers who have been nominated should feel tremendously honored.”

A seven-member panel - including Pook, CART Toyota Atlantic Championship president Vicki O'Connor, Player's/Forsythe Racing owner Gerald Forsythe, Imperial Tobacco President and Chief Operating Officer Bob Bexon, CART Champ Car driver representative Adrian Fernandez, SPEED Channel commentator Calvin Fish, and National Speed Sport News CART beat writer John Oreovicz – will vote on the award prior to this year’s CART Champ Car Season Awards Celebration.

Vasser, a native of Canoga Park, California, became one of just six drivers to make 200 Champ Car starts this season and has helped make the first-year American Spirit Team Johansson squads one of the most promising of the season. Bourdais, of Le Mans, France, set a number of series rookie marks this year on his way to winning the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year Trophy. He led the first Champ Car lap he ever ran and has gone on to win four poles and three races this season. Manning, a native of North Yorkshire, England, set a series standard for rookies this season by finishing in the top 10 in eight consecutive events.

Valiante was born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada, and currently resides in Burnaby, B.C. He earned three victories in the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship and finished third in the series championship. Maia, from Oakland, California, won the Barber Dodge Pro Series championship on the strength of six victories including three races where he scored all 23 available points on the weekend.

Brazilian Helio Castroneves was the inaugural winner of the Greg Moore Legacy Award in 2000, Dario Franchitti was named as the recipient in 2001 and Patrick Carpentier – a former teammate to Moore – was the winner of last year’s award.

The award will be presented during the 2003 Champ Car Awards Celebration at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa in Palm Springs, California on November 4.

10/25/03

Andretti hopeful CART will prosper  With a Formula One World Championship, an Indy 500 title and four Champ Car crowns to his name, there's little or nothing that American motor sport legend Mario Andretti has not achieved on a race circuit.  But these days the 63-year-old scion of the Andretti racing dynasty is more concerned with events off track: specifically the malaise that has afflicted the CART series, a championship that has played such a major role in his and his extended family's lives. 

Andretti is at Surfers Paradise this weekend for one of the ailing championship's most successful events, the Gold Coast Indy 300.   The sun was shining, the crowd healthy, and the legendary driver yesterday even dared to hope that the series could be on the way back up once the mooted takeover by a trio of wealthy US businessmen is effected.  But, he made clear, recovery could be achieved in a much easier and speedier fashion if only CART and its breakaway rival, the Indy Racing League, could end the schism that has lost the sport sponsors, fans and credibility.

Yesterday he sought to speed up the process with a passionate plea for the warring factions to make peace.  "We can revisit the whys and wherefores of the two series (and the way the breakaway happened). But the way I would like to look at tomorrow is (to see) if there's any possible way to find a compromise between the two and have an agreement between them to merge together," he said.  "Maybe it's too much to ask because of the compromises that would have to be made, (but) I know that there are some efforts going on. For the benefit of the sport, it would be a win-win situation.  "It would be for the benefit of open wheel racing in North America and definitely everyone would benefit if the two would pool their resources and race on the best tracks with the best drivers."

Andretti has confidence that the three businessmen - Adelaide-born Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerry Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi, who are negotiating to buy the stockmarket-listed CART company and take it private again - hold the key to its recovery.  "The group that's coming in are not idiots," he said.  "They know how to put together two and two . . . they are making a commitment with their eyes wide open.  I feel I have some solid reasons to be optimistic, not just because I am a Dr Feelgood or in la la land."  The Age

10/25/03
SuperBikes

2004: Japan out Canada in  

2004 World Superbike calendar
February 29 Spain Valencia
March 28 Australia Phillip Island
April18 San Marino Misano
May 16 Italy Monza
May 30 Germany Oschersleben
June 13 Europe Silverstone
July 4 Canada Mont Tremblant (tbc)
July 11 United States Laguna Seca
July 25 Great-Britain Brands Hatch
September 5 Netherlands Assen
September 26 Italy Imola
October 3 France Magny-Cours

10/25/03

Kodak talking to teams   The Kodak sponsorship question is still unanswered, but company officials are expected to meet with potential car owners this weekend. Larry McClure [owner of the #4 Kodak Pontiac] has reportedly agreed to Kodak's buy-back of the final two years of his contract; however the two sides are apparently at odds over other aspects of that deal. Kodak is being bombarded with sponsorship bids, and the top two teams in the running appear to be DEI and Roush Racing. Ty Norris, DEI general manager, won't talk specifically about Kodak but says "We've had some movement in the last 10 days." Winston Salem Journal

10/25/03

Tony Renna obituary  Anthony James “Tony” Renna, an IRL IndyCar Series driver, died Wednesday, October 22, 2003 of injuries suffered in a testing accident at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN. Renna, who was a resident of Indianapolis, was 26. Renna was born November 23, 1976 in Apple Valley, Calif., to Joe and Mary Renna. He began his racing career at age six in his hometown of Orlando, Florida. The Renna family had just moved to Florida from California, and Tony and his family started racing quarter midgets on the local circuit. Renna soon started winning. More than 250 quarter-midget race victories followed, along with two national quarter midget championships. Renna’s racing career continued, leading him into karts, micro-sprints and eventually open-wheel cars in the Skip Barber series.   More....

10/25/03

***Reader Question***Do the IRL drivers have a gag order?  Dear AR1, I can't understand why the drivers in the IRL have not made a big fuss about the safety of their cars going airborne.  Do they have a gag order?  What I don't understand is how can these same drivers that bitched about the CART cars in Texas being too dangerous, yet no one has been on record saying that these IRL cars are ticking time bombs.

Was it just a concentrated effort to give CART a black eye and these same owners and media trying to put the nail in CART's coffin then and now they are laying low knowing they made the wrong choice jumping ship?  Where's the drivers union or complaints?  I am interested to hear you guys call these drivers and get comments from them, the media needs to hear from them and where they stand on these important issues.

If these accidents don't change the minds of the Bracks, Franchittis, Dixons etc..... than this proves that these same people care more about the money than racing, they are putting their lives on the line for the money offered by Honda and Toyota, instead of driving in CART the racing they care about. Ray Jaber  Dear Ray, We are sure privately the drivers are all concerned, but publicly they have to be careful what they say.  As they say, don't bite the hand that feeds you.  Mark C.

10/25/03

Webber: Ralf to take Michael's place at top  Quoted in Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, Schumacher brother manager Willi Weber said, "Ralf will be the next world champion," Weber insisted, "because he has grown stronger along with the Williams-BMW team. Ralf is still only 28, and is in a position to get several titles," he said, "If he can win two or three world championships with Williams - and I am convinced that he will - then he can go where he wants."

"It is still too far away to say when Michael will retire," Weber said, before admitting that the German's current deal with the Scuderia was likely to be his last in F1. I knew that he would win his sixth title this year, because I knew what Ferrari could do, and I knew how strong Michael was, particularly in difficult situations. Michael has several strengths, but it is his intelligence, his way of thinking, of analyzing the situation and of using the circumstances to his advantage that keeps him ahead of his rivals."

10/25/03

Moreno eyes move to Australia and to race V8 Supercars  CART Champ Car driver Roberto Moreno is setting his sights on moving to Australia and switching to V8 Supercars for 2004.  After a long and distinguished career in Formula One and Champ Cars, Moreno talked exclusively to The Courier-Mail yesterday about his intention to move his family from Florida to Australia.  The Brazilian's ambition is driven by his desire to seek a better lifestyle for his family and teenage daughter Andressa, who has less than two years until she finishes high school.   The 43-year-old said Australians had played a vital role in his career, punctuated by several stints in Formula One in the 1980s and early 1990s, winning the F3000 title in 1988 and the Australian Grand Prix in 1981, 1983 and 1984.

"I've always dedicated myself to formula racing and I've achieved a lot so far," said Moreno, who won pole position at the Gold Coast Indy in 2001 when he was driving for Patrick Racing.  But my family are wanting more time with me and I would love to move to Australia and begin a career in V8 Supercars.   I owe a lot to Australia for my career and the lifestyle is such that I can do V8s and still have plenty of time with the family which is not possible in the US."

"I've always said Australia is the best place in the world to live," he said.  "I'm serious about V8s and I still have the passion and speed to race and I'm ready for a new challenge."  He finishes his one-year deal with Herdez Competition at the California Speedway on Sunday next week.   "The best time for me to move to Australia would be when Andressa finishes high school but if an opportunity came up in V8 Supercars next year then I would gladly take it."

10/25/03

Jaguar wants good 2nd driver   Jaguar boss David Pitchforth is not happy that Mark Webber scored 17 of the team’s 18 points in 2003 .  Asked how upset he was that the second car did not contribute more, Pitchforth told the Jaguar Racing website: “Quite upset – the second seat is a valuable asset we have and I want to make sure whoever fills it will be best for the team.  He has to be a good driver first, fit with the team, fit with Mark and the engineers, understand the way we work and then other factors come into play too.   We are not in a screaming rush but we are working very hard on it.  Seventh is actually where we set out to be. We made our plans around it – budgeting and so on – so in as far as meeting targets we did it – that’s the businessman in me talking.  The racer in me says it would have been nice to have been sixth and if it hadn’t been for Indy and the rain, we might have been.   We have got to take the rough with the smooth. If we had been lucky and other teams had been unlucky we would have taken it. BAR did a very good job at the end of the season and we struggled in the last two races.”

10/25/03

Final Martinsville TV rating   Sunday's Subway 500 from Martinsville Speedway on NBC turned in final numbers of a 4.0 rating and 10 share, according to Nielsen Media Research. The race averaged 4,371,000 households and 6,394,000 viewers. This is a 9 percent decline from last year's 4.4 final rating.

10/25/03

Unser - I couldn't put weight on my leg  Al Unser Jr, speaking for the frist time since his ATV accident left him hospitalized, said  "I fractured my pelvis in three places," Unser said. "If I was still a kid, I'd probably have been OK, but at age 41, I knew when I stood up that something wasn't quite right on my left side. I couldn't support myself with my left leg.  Fortunately, none of the fractures went through the entire bone. The damage didn't warrant surgery, so assuming the next round of X-rays show everything is still properly aligned, I'll begin a six- to eight-week program of water aerobics to regain my strength.  My goal is to be back in a race car in seven weeks. The chances of that happening, and me racing next season, are very good."

10/25/03

Moreno avoids penalty by backing onto pitlane  In qualifying Saturday Roberto Moreno had spun his Herdez Lola at the last turn heading onto the pit straight, and after selecting reverse to stay off the racing line, Moreno elected to back into the pits rather than try to turn his car around on the narrow straight. The quick thinking prevented Moreno from incurring the loss of fast lap penalty (Section 6.10.5 of the Champ Car rulebook states that a competitor causing a red flag during qualifying shall lose his fastest lap during that session) he would have been slapped with had he caused the session to be red-flagged. Moreno wound up seventh on the grid. “I could see that Michel Jourdain was on his hot lap behind me and I didn't want to get in his way,” Moreno stated. “I got on the power too soon though coming out of the last corner before the straight and spun. I didn't want to cause a red and lose my fast lap so I managed to back my car into pit lane. That was a first for me!”  CART

10/25/03

Massive 83,913 crowd turns out for CART qualifying  The record books continue to be rewritten with 83,913 spectators enjoying the hot day three action at Surfers Paradise taking the combined three day total to 198,074, on track to reach 300,000 after tomorrow's action, barring bad weather.  The 83,913 was up 2,865 from Saturday a season ago.

10/25/03

Jourdain's title hopes gone  Team Rahal's Gigante Champ Car driver Michel Jourdain Jr. claimed ninth on the starting grid for Sunday's Lexmark Indy 300 on the streets of Surfers Paradise, Australia. The ninth place start marks the best Australian starting position of Jourdain's eight year Champ Car career. By failing to capture either of the qualifying points this weekend Jourdain is now eliminated from contention for the 2003 Champ Car World Series championship. The 27-year-old native of Mexico City has been among the top-three in the title chase all season and led the championship following rounds six and seven. He trails points leader Paul Tracy by 43 points with 43 points remaining in the season. Even if Jourdain could capture all the points and Tracy go scoreless over the two remaining races, Jourdain would lose the tie-breaker and subsequently the championship to Tracy. "Unfortunately we lost some time this morning when we had a hose go bad on the Gigante car," said Jourdain. "We had a lot of work to do to make up ground from yesterday, but we just didn't get the track time we needed. We made some great strides in qualifying on the first set of tires, but we lost some laps on the second set due to traffic. This isn't the best track to start so far back on the grid. All we can do tomorrow is get a good start and be patient and have good pit stops. We have to put ourselves in position to take advantage of other people's mistakes and hope for problems at the front of the field."

10/25/03

Saturday afternoon update from Surfers  Alex Tagliani and Tiago Monteiro have no time from yesterday's first round of Qualifying; Monteiro has gone to the spare car after damaging his primary car this morning, and Tagliani was disqualified for having an underweight car. Oriol Servia was quickest in the practice session that just ended. Final Qualifying is about to get underway. It's sunny and hot, currently 90°F/32°C

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