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Sharp and Japanese rookie test reshaped Phoenix  Scott Sharp became the first IRL IndyCar Series driver to test on the slightly reconfigured Phoenix International Raceway Nov. 11 in the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.  A second day of testing on Nov. 12 was cancelled due to rain.   After the Purex Dial Indy 200 March 23 at PIR, construction crews began reconfiguring the track by eliminating the opening in the backstretch wall and widening the exit to Turn 2. In addition, a portion of Turn 4 was torn up to build a tunnel, and a piece of asphalt in that area had to be repaved.

“PIR has done a great job in their additions to the track,” Sharp said. “The tunnel will provide great access, and the repaving in Turn 4 was incredibly smooth. The track was also widened on the exit of Turn 2, which should provide much more racing room when our IRL cars get two abreast.”   Sharp completed 138 laps and worked with new engineer Andy Borme for the first time.

In addition to Sharp’s testing, Kousuke Matsuura, 24, of Aichi, Japan, completed 134 laps in a Dallara/Honda/ Firestone prepared by Super Aguri Fernandez Racing and passed the speed phase of his IRL Rookie Test.   “It was a great experience,” Matsuura said. “It was my first time to drive an oval circuit in an IRL car. The test was good, and I didn't make any mistakes. The car is quite fast, and I really enjoyed it. This was my first time driving in the United States, and it was a great experience.”   Indy Racing League Technical Manager Mark Bridges oversaw the test on the 1-mile desert oval.   “He looked good,” Bridges said. “He did real well and gave good feedback.”


Dover Speedway sues Action  Dover International Speedway has sued the Arizona-based company that sold NASCAR souvenirs at its annual races, claiming the Dover operation was cheated out of millions of dollars in proceeds. The U.S. District Court lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. It was filed against Action Performance Companies and its subsidiary Action Sports Image. A spokesperson for the Tempe, Ariz., companies could not be reached. The Action company sold race-related merchandise out of trailers for more than 10 years through the September 2002 NASCAR race. An agreement with the Dover Speedway called for Action to pay 25 percent of each trailer's gross proceeds or an unspecified minimum per-trailer fee, whichever was larger. Dover Speedway agreed to reduce its commission rate from 25 percent to 15 percent after Action asked to renegotiate the terms last year. Action told the raceway an economic downturn and industry standards required the reduced sales commission, which became official in May 2003. Delaware News Journal


Drivers looking for reference points at Homestead  No matter how much drivers like the new banking at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- and seldom has been heard a discouraging word in the first two days of Ford Championship race week -- it's inevitable that someone would find something to suggest as an improvement. Which brings up the subject of lane lines -- specifically, the track's lack of them. The track's new asphalt, put down when the surface was rebuilt to increase banking in the corners from 6 degrees to a combination of 18, 19 and 20 degrees, is very dark. That makes it hard to see the rubber being laid down by cars and trucks in the first two days of testing. The rubber gives the drivers a visual aid for finding the groove, the best way around the oval, Busch Series drivers said Tuesday. "The track is really black, and you're used to a gray asphalt out here," Ron Hornaday said. "It's very hard to see and position yourself where you're at on the racetrack," David Green said. Hornaday and Green said they believe Homestead officials will paint lane lines on at least part of the track before the weekend's races. Track President Curtis Gray, however, indicated drivers shouldn't count on having lines for Friday's Craftsman Trucks race, Saturday's Busch Series race or Sunday's Winston Cup race. "I don't know if we're going to be able to do anything that drastic this weekend, but we'll look at it," Gray said. Lane lines -- similar to those on highways -- used to be common on racetracks, a few of which still use them, mostly in corners. Tracks that have or used to have lines include Talladega, Martinsville, Charlotte, Rockingham, Richmond, Pocono and Texas. While several drivers said lane lines would be beneficial, none indicated that they are an urgent necessity. "Once you pick out some references on the outside of the racetrack I don't think it's that big of a deal," Kevin Harvick said.  Palm Beach Post

One complaint shared by many of the drivers on Wednesday was a lack of markings on the new asphalt surface or on the surrounding concrete walls. "They need to put a bright white stripe around the bottom," Ricky Rudd said. "Even if they just came around and put a couple of dots on the racetrack, at least until you get to the center of the corner, I think it would help you see a better race on Sunday." Dale Jarrett agreed. "We probably need some hash marks there, or something to go by," Jarrett said. "Then, if we could just get some lines on the wall to where you've got an idea where you're at, that would help a little bit."


No CART drivers will be in 2004 Indy 500   There won't be any CART drivers competing in the 2004 Indy 500.  CART's 2004 schedule shows races on both qualifying weekends for Indy.

Industry News

Singapore racing group seeks street race   The Singapore Motor Sports Association (SMSA) is hoping to close off a number of public roads and use them to form a street circuit for racing. SMSA president William Lyou says the organization has had informal talks with the Singapore Land Authority on the possibility of using roads in the Marina South area. Such a circuit could easily be brought up to the standards required by the International Automobile Federation for international races to be held here. The roads would have to be widened in areas, slanting kerbs would have to replace car-killing vertical ones, lamp posts must be moved further from the tarmac, and a pit and paddock area would have to be created. While all this sounds like extensive work, the SMSA estimates that it could be done for $3 million, a bargain amount for a racetrack.

In comparison, Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit cost US$100 million. While Sepang hosts the Malaysian round of the Formula One World Championships, the SMSA has no such aspirations for the proposed Marina South circuit. 'If anyone is dreaming about bringing F1 to Singapore, they can carry on dreaming,' says Mr Lyou. Instead, a Marina South track could host smaller events from around Asia, such as the Japan GT Championship, the Asian Formula BMW championship or the Asian Touring Car series. These might not be world-class events, but would establish Singapore on the international racing scene. 'That is something we dare to dream about, and it's achievable,' says Mr Lyou.  Strait Times


American Spirit Team Johansson downsizes   UPDATE  Any rumors that are being spread on the internet about the team shutting their doors are false according to team boss Stefan Johansson.  We spoke to team boss Stefan Johansson and he stated that the information being spread on the internet does not tell the real story.  Of course they have laid off people, most teams do that during the winter months, both in CART and the IRL.  "For sure we are facing cash flow troubles right now, however, the team fully intends to continue next year and we are in very late stages of negotiations with two sponsors. In fact we have a signed letter-of-intent for sponsorship," stated Johansson.  "A lot depends on CART's future being solidified and that is affecting a lot of teams, not only ours."   To their credit, the team has done an incredible job with a limited budget.  Stefan went on to say that the team is working to hopefully get Lolas and hit ground running for the start of the 2004 season.  Stefan also stated there may be some restructuring in the team but they fully intend to pick up where they left off this year, on a winning note.  Mark C.  10/31/03 - 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.”


JV won't pay his way, hence out of F1  It was reported in the Canadian press last week that his manager Craig Pollock had commissioned sports marketing company Slam Management to raise the $5million necessary to clinch a seat at Jaguar. However, Villeneuve’s spokeswoman has denied this. She told Autosport magazine: “Jacques has no interest in buying a ride in F1. “Therefore the stories in the Canadian media are incorrect.”  Hence it's a pretty safe bet that Villeneuve's F1 career is over.  If he had outperformed his teammate Button this year, someone may have been willing to pay him to drive, but Button was faster at most venues.


***Reader Opinion***ESPN TV ratings set to take a plunge?  Dear AR1, I read in my local newspaper a short but interesting perspective as to possible changes for cable TV. The article said that cable TV may have to change their basic cable package, and let customers purchase the specific channels they want. There seems to be a growing faction of consumers who don't want ESPN, which was the example sighted in the article. The article went on to sight that the partnership of ESPN with stick and ball sports were the single largest reason for cable rate hikes to consumers. This is the second media item I have seen that has mentioned ESPN as the single most expensive channel for cable servers in the past several weeks. The stories both sighted that cable is the stick and ball sports cash cow, but neither story explored any variables for the situation, they left the stories on an ominous horizon. Sen. John McCain of AZ is sighted to introduce legislation in this session of congress, to give consumers the option to choose what basic cable options they want, and to pay proportionately for what the consumer uses. The article I read yesterday was written by Tom Dorsey of the (Louisville, KY) Courier - Journal, who is the newspaper's TV / Radio critic. David S. Louisville, KY  Dear David,  If this were to happen, TV ratings for the IRL races on ESPN will take an even further plunge because less people will have ESPN to watch.  The good news is that they can't plunge much further before hitting zero.  Mark C.


CART and CSI: Miami hits Grand Slam  The popular CBS crime drama CSI: Miami got a 750hp turbocharged boost for Monday night’s episode, and rode that power to the number-three spot overall in the Nielsen ratings for the evening.

The show, which stars David Caruso, centered around a fictional CART Champ Car team and a murder committed at September’s Grand Prix Americas Presented by on the streets of Miami. The episode was filmed on location during race week and featured the American Spirit Team Johansson and Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing teams along with showing actual race footage from the event won by Mario Dominguez of Herdez Competition.

The episode earned a 12.0 rating and a 19 share, which translates to 12,960,000 households that tuned in to see the show, making it not only the third-highest rated show of the evening, but also the third-highest installment of CSI: Miami in the show’s history. [Editor's Note: CART got more exposure with this one show than the IRL teams and sponsors got with the Indy 500, in fact 2.5 times as much.] 

“It was a great experience working with the teams, everyone at CART and the Grand Prix Americas. The cooperation we received from all parties involved was extraordinary,” said the show’s executive producer Scott Shiffman. I think we all agree it was a worthwhile venture we can all be proud of. We are all looking forward to the race in Long Beach when we can reconnect again.”

CART Champ Car teams were not the only entities that were prominently featured in the show as series sponsors Ford and Bridgestone received numerous mentions as did exclusive engine manufacturer Cosworth. The episode also went into detail on many of the aerodynamic features of the Champ Cars, explaining some of the factors that make the cars the most technically-advanced race machines in North America.  [Editor's Note:  Given this success, might we see more CART and CSI: Miami episodes in the future?  One would think so.  Hopefully CART has finally found a TV partner that is willing to help it grow and then reap the benefits.] 


Enge and Keohane to test today  Dale Coyne Racing will be testing former F3000 sensation Tomas Enge from The Czech Republic and Irishman Michael Keohane in Sebring today.  Both will test a Lola in what we believe will be a head-to-head test.  Both drivers are fast, and if you recall, Enge dominated many F3000 races in 2002, before moving to the ALMS this year.  Although no decision on drivers has been made by the team yet, don't be surprised if one or both of these drivers land a ride for 2004.  We look for big things from this team in 2004 as they now have the proper financial backing to hire the very best drivers determined in head-to-head runoffs.


Ricky Craven on new Homestead banks  "I'm very excited about it. This surface is the most promising of any 'new' racetrack we've been to recently. The track has a ton of grip, which is to be expected on a new surface. Even in the short time we've been out there, you can tell that it should be good for some side-by-side racing once it gets some seasoning. The track is very black and seems to be retaining a lot of heat, so we've seen some warm tire temperatures, but otherwise, it's very promising. When we first got out there this morning, it took a little getting used to with the track having been so flat in years past, but once we got a few laps under our belts, it was fine. Again, I'm excited about it. My hat's off to the management here at Homestead. They've really done a great job of improving the racetrack from what it was. It's a dramatic improvement."


IRL Fan Experience reaches fans   [Editor's Note:  It should be noted that as this fan experience traveled around the country this year the IRL's TV ratings dropped precipitously making us wonder if it worked.] When the Indy Racing League rolled out the new Fan Experience in February of this year, the League hoped to touch the lives of racing fans all over the country. They did – about 1.6 million of them.

The Indy Racing League Fan Experience is a one-of-a-kind, interactive mobile entertainment experience that traveled throughout the country this year bringing fans of all ages closer to the exciting sport of IndyCar Series racing.

The Experience is divided into five properties - Indy Racing Challenge, Indy Racing Kids, Indy Racing Live, Indy Racing Pit Stop Challenge and Indy Racing Gear. All five properties traveled to several markets throughout the summer and came together as one to create a carnival of sight, speed and sound at the racetrack each weekend.

“This is the largest traveling fan exhibit of any sports property in terms of numbers of locations and event days, as we made over 600 appearances this year,” said Bill Long, vice president of marketing for the IRL. “This has provided more fans the opportunity to experience the sport in an interactive way.”

After its launch in February, the Fan Experience made several stops across the country and eventually made its way to Indy Racing League race markets, including Miami, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Dallas, Denver, Richmond, Va., Kansas City, Nashville, Detroit, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Nazareth, Pa., Chicago and Los Angeles.

At the season finale at Texas Motor Speedway, over 120,000 fans interacted with the Fan Experience.

“The IRL Fan Experience is just great,” said Eddie Gossage, general manager Texas Motor Speedway. “It really provides an exciting hands-on way for fans to see what the IRL is all about. We first had it at the speedway and in the Fort Worth-Dallas market prior to the June race and got great response. In fact, it was so popular that when we brought it back to help promote the October race, we could only fulfil about half of the requests we received for it.”

Although the Fan Experience made many stops in each race market, it could also be found at numerous other venues from coast-to-coast. Several of the properties visited major league baseball parks, car dealerships, city parks, national retail stores and national landmarks. The Fan Experience also made a two-day stop at the Kentucky Derby in Churchill Downs.

Throughout the summer, lines began forming early for the Indy Racing Challenge booth. For those waiting their turn on the simulators, the Fan Experience crew conducted trivia contests, which proved to be both entertaining and educational for the fans.

“In 2004, the Fan Experience will have even greater entertainment,” Long said. “We will have more concerts, driver appearances and more fan-oriented challenges and competition. It’s going to be a great year.”

In the ultra-competitive world of sports marketing, the Fan Experience is one of many programs employed by the Indy Racing League to create brand awareness.

The Indy Racing Fan Experience is a joint project between the Indy Racing League and Ignition Inc., an Atlanta-based experiential marketing agency.


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Winston Cup drivers take to Homestead banks  Moving at speeds approaching 180 mph, the stars of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series took to the NEW Homestead-Miami Speedway and its state-of-the-art, 20-degree, variable banking for the first time today. The drivers were busy preparing for Sunday's Ford 400, the season-finale for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

Although no official speeds were available, unofficial reports from the teams placed speeds from today's session more than 20 mph and nearly five seconds faster than Kurt Busch's winning pole speed of 154.365 last season.   Most teams randomly surveyed in the garage reported running race trim only today. Speeds and times reported were:

Johnny Benson: 30.40, 177.632 mph
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: 30.60, 176.471 mph
Tony Stewart: 30.70, 175.896 mph
Ryan Newman: 30.80, 175.325 mph
Jimmie Johnson: 30.90, 174.757 mph
Dale Jarrett: 31.00, 174.191 mph

"It's a lot faster racetrack," said Jimmy Spencer. "I think it's going to be a pretty good race. I already see two grooves in the track, and I think almost everybody is trying to figure it out, me included. How high can you go in to make a late apex or do you run in really low and let the car run up and come back and diamond it. No one has figured it out yet. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is running really good, and the 18 (Bobby Labonte) looks like he's pretty good."

"It's a definite improvement," said Ricky Rudd. "There should be some interesting racing. It looks like there are two and possibly even three grooves out there. It's very fast right now, but it should be a lot better for racing."

"I'm very excited and very impressed," said Ricky Craven. "I love what they've done and I think it's going to encourage some great racing. The first half of practice was a little strange, but we'll work through some of the challenges as it relates to the track. It is an absolute improvement."

Tickets are going fast, but still available for Ford Championship Weekend by calling 305-230-RACE, 1-800-PITSHOP.COM or by logging onto


CART president grabs a slice of Cold Pizza   CART Champ Car titlist Paul Tracy (#3 Player’s/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Player's/Forsythe Racing visited the ESPN2 studios in New York City during his champion’s media tour last Friday to appear on the network’s new morning show Cold Pizza. CART Champ Car President and CEO Christopher R. Pook will follow Tracy’s lead on Thursday morning, making a live appearance on the show via satellite from CART Champ Car headquarters in Indianapolis. Pook will appear early in the 7 o’clock Eastern Time hour on the new catch-all sports morning show to speak about the current state of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford as well as what the future holds for CART Champ Car. The show re-airs on ESPN2 following the morning’s live broadcast, and can be seen from 9-11 a.m. Generally regarded as one of the most capable and qualified individuals to fill the top management position at CART Champ Car in the 24-year history of the sanctioning body, veteran businessman and Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach founder Pook took over the reins of CART in December 2001 and will see the company through its impending change in ownership that will secure the future of the series for 2004 and beyond.


Bowl-A-Thon to raise money   "Auto racing fans will have the opportunity to raise money for needy causes as well as enjoy an afternoon of bowling with many open-wheel participants on Saturday (Nov. 22) in the CARA Charities' "BOWL-A-THON" set for 2 p.m. at Raceway Lanes in Speedway, across from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. CARA Charities, based in Speedway, has been a primary fund-raising organization for needy services within the open-wheel racing community for the past two decades and Saturday's event is another popular activity for racing fans to have an enjoyable time while giving funds to charity. Racing team members are also expected to participate in the "BOWL-A-THON". Raceway Bowl is located at 4503 West 16th St., Speedway and registration for the "BOWL-A-THON" begins at 1 p.m. on Nov 22. Bowling is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The cost for the "BOWL-A-THON" is $15.00 per person and includes shoes, bowling ball and two games of bowling. Each team will consist of six bowlers. For further information, contact the CARA Charities office at (317) 299-2277 or Jacque Powers at (765) 342-7477.


Japanese driver looking good for 2nd Fernández seat   [Editor's Note:  With Honda backing we hear that Matsuura will land a ride in the second Super Aguri Fernandez Racing IRL seat.  Historically both Honda and Toyota have supported Japanese drivers in F1, the IRL and CART, but so far none have had very much success].  Kousuke Matsuura turned his first laps in an IRL IndyCar Series car yesterday during a two-day test with Super Aguri Fernandez Racing at Phoenix International Raceway. Today’s activities were cancelled due to rain, but Matsuura managed a total of 134 laps in his initial outing, impressing both Co-Owner Aguri Suzuki and Managing Director Tom Anderson who were trackside at the one-mile oval.

“The test was very good,” said Suzuki. “We were very impressed with Kousuke. It was his first time in an IRL car on an oval track. He did a very good job. I am very happy to have tested him.”

“Obviously Kousuke has a lot of talent and we are very pleased with his results from the first day,” added Anderson. “We are disappointed that we didn’t get to run the second day due to rain, but otherwise we are very pleased.”

Matsuura, who was rewarded with the test by Suzuki’s ARTA Project due to his achievements in Formula Renault V6 Eurocup and German Formula 3 competition, was thrilled with his first laps aboard the team’s Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

“It was a great experience,” said Matsuura. “It was my first time to drive an oval circuit in an IRL car. The test was good and I didn’t make any mistakes. The car is quite fast and I really enjoyed it. The g-forces are quite high and my neck already hurts. This was my first time driving in the United States and it was a great experience. John [Dick, race engineer] is very smart and he knows what a driver wants. He gave me quite an understeering car for the beginning of the test, and I think it was a very good idea to do this with a new driver. I was very happy to work with all of the mechanics and they were very helpful. I am very thankful for the team, for Aguri, for Honda, everyone. I had a very great experience.”

Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, which is looking to step up to a two-car effort next season, will be confirming its driver lineup for the 2004 IRL IndyCar Series in the near future.


Pecorari wins CART Barber Dodge National Scholarship  National ICA (100cc direct drive) point champion Robbie Pecorari has been named the winner of the annual Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow Scholarship Award for the 2004 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by Racer. More...


Hendrick Motorsports adds drivers for finale  Johnny Sauter will drive a third Busch Series entry and Ron Hornaday will drive a fourth Winston Cup entry for Richard Childress Racing during the NASCAR season-ending weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Sauter will drive the No. 29 PayDay Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the Nov. 15 Ford 300 as part of the celebration surrounding RCR's No. 21 PayDay team's car NASCAR Busch Series owner points championship. He and Kevin Harvick, who will be driving the No. 21 PayDay car in the race, were co-drivers during the team's championship season. "This is as much Johnny's trophy as it is Kevin's and everyone else involved with the RCR Busch teams, so we wanted to get him in a PayDay car for the final race of the season," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "It's also an opportunity for us to thank everyone at Hershey and the PayDay brand for the tremendous support they've given us this year. It should be a lot of fun to see what Kevin and Johnny have up their sleeves for a post-race celebration." Hornaday will drive the No. 90 Childress Vineyards/ Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the Nov. 16 Ford 400. Childress Vineyards broke ground in September on its winery facility in Lexington, N.C., and current plans call for its first vintage, using grapes from other North Carolina growers, to be available in late 2004. RCR last entered a No. 90 car when John Andretti drove the AOL 9.0 Optimized/Special Operations Warrior Foundation Chevrolet at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in September, when he started 24th and finished 15th in the EA Sports 500.


Manning targets Indy 500 win  New Ganassi Racing driver Darren Manning has set himself the modest target of taking victory in the Indianapolis 500 in his first season in the IRL IndyCar Series next year.

The Indianapolis-based Briton has pledged to race next season in the memory of Tony Renna. Manning was given his chance with Ganassi after the American driver was killed in his first test for the team, and Manning admits to mixed feelings about landing the drive in such circumstances.

"It was a lot of mixed feeling really," said Manning," excitement that I was going to get the drive, but a lot of sorrow. I didn't really know what I was feeling. Everybody has been very supportive and I want to be as supportive as possible to all Tony's family and friends and obviously I will be racing in Tony's memory as well."

Talking about his goals for next season, Manning said: "Hopefully a lot of race wins and maybe even the championship. Definitely the Indy 500 anyway. I have already got that one pencilled in."

Although Manning has yet to drive at the famous track, he did go to this year's race – as a spectator.

"I was up there in the grandstands with a load of my mechanics from Walker [Racing, his team in CART]. Just to be on that side of the fence was something else. It's definitely been a dream to race there. It's going to be the highlight of my career so far, definitely."

Manning is the third Briton to be confirmed for the IRL next season, alongside Andretti Green star Dan Wheldon and new Panther signing Mark Taylor.

"We're taking over America, aren't we?" said Manning. "There will be plenty of bacon butties and cups of tea, I am sure."   Autosport


Marlin goes to court  A confrontation between NASCAR driver Sterling Marlin and a race fan a couple of years ago on a Jamaican beach has landed Marlin in federal court. This week, a jury is considering Joel Whitcomb's claims that he injured his knee and shoulder when Marlin assaulted him and threw him into shallow salt water. Marlin, who lives in Columbia, TN, contends he could not have hurt the man. Besides, he testified Monday, he had every right to stand his ground when the plaintiff accused him of being a cheater. Whitcomb, a Pittsfield, Mass., used-car dealer, went with his wife to Jamaica in December 2001 for a promotional beach holiday that drew NASCAR aficionados from across the United States.

Whitcomb, a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, went with his wife, Julia, who likes Bill Elliott, according to U.S. District Court testimony. In Jamaica they found themselves at a beachfront resort, where they could mingle with the drivers by night and join teams to compete in the sunny beach Olympics that organizers staged on the sand. The Whitcombs were pleased to find themselves on Dale Jr.'s team.

Joel Whitcomb competed in almost all the events, including the tug of war between the Earnhardt's fans and Marlin's fans. The men from both teams each won once, leaving the rubber match to the women. When the women from Marlin's team began to lose to those from Earnhardt's, Marlin reached in and grabbed the rope as if to aid their cause. Marlin told the jury he was just horsing around and didn't really pull. But Joel Whitcomb concluded otherwise. Testimony from the witness stand and from depositions showed that he told Marlin that he thought the driver was a cheater,” always had been, always would be,” and jabbed his finger into Marlin's chest.

"I thought he needed to be cooled off," Marlin told the court. Marlin said he grabbed Whitcomb by the swim trunks and T-shirt and shoved him toward the ocean, where Whitcomb landed in about 2 feet of water. He came up spitting water and insults, testimony showed. Whitcomb's wife testified that her husband's knee soon began to swell, requiring a trip to the doctor and several months of rehabilitation in Massachusetts. In November 2002 Whitcomb sued in U.S. District Court in Nashville. The suit was filed in federal court because the plaintiff and the defendant are from different states. According to court records, Marlin declined to settle the case out of court. The trial is scheduled to resume after the Veterans Day holiday. USA Today/AP


Gordon sells Florida house  Jeff Gordon has sold his 23,000-square-foot oceanfront home in Highland Beach [FL] for $13.3 million cash, plus another $2 million cash for the furnishings. The sale is expected to close today, said Robert Wyner, chairman of Barclays Group International in Palm Beach, which listed the home for $16.9 million just 48 hours before it sold. Palm Beach Post


BFGoodrich signs tire deal with Skip Barber Racing  [Editor's Note:  Skip Barber Racing was using Michelin tires]  BFGoodrich Tires has signed a three-year exclusive agreement to become the official tire supplier of Skip Barber Racing.  The agreement includes the Skip Barber Racing School, the Dodge/Skip Barber Driving School, the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Regional (4) Race Series, the Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER, and the Skip Barber Challenge Series. In addition, the agreement includes sponsorship of Skip Barber Racing's elite racing championship, the nationally televised Barber Dodge Pro Series, North America's leading professional equal-car open-wheel racing series.   More....


First Kart North America aims high at this year’s SKUSA SuperNat’s  First Kart Team Manager Tony Ventresca has put together the present and future stars of shifterkart racing to form a legendary team for this week’s Superkarts! USA (SKUSA) SuperNationals. The SuperNationals will take place during the week of November 12-16 on the temporary circuit at the RIO All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. With the announcement of SPEED channel coverage and several motorsports celebrities who will be in attendance, this karting festival is turning out to be one of the biggest races in the history of North American karting. First Kart drivers are aiming high and will look to be at the top of the podium.

First Kart factory pilot Bobby Wilson (Nike Racing/Mechanix Wear) of Dousman, WI, strong off his Stars of Tomorrow ICC championship, will be looking to redeem himself after last year’s second place finish. Wilson is not the type of competitor who likes to finish second and will utilize his experience and Hi-Tech power to lead the all-star team to victory on Sunday. Joining the Rock Island Grand Prix race winner in the SuperPro division is multi-time karting champion Alan Rudolph (Shift/RBI Diamond Tools) and the always likable, yet threatening A.J Whisler (Whisler Racing Services/ C.A. Kustoms/B. Litteral Enterprises/SKI). Already packed with experience and loads of talent, Ventresca has acquired the skills of long time shifterkart star Joe Janowski (National Karting Alliance/Corby Concepts). Janowski, who was forced to look for a new team after the closure of McGrath Motorsports, will be making his debut with the First Kart team as he looks to make a move towards the front of the pack. Young guns James Hinchcliffe (Mobil 1/NOCO Racing) and Marco Di Leo (Select Auto Collision/Di Leo Autosports) of Ontario, Canada as well as gearbox rookie Darin Marcus of Northbrook, IL will look to turn their luck around and aim their fast qualifying efforts into strong runs to the front. Always a peril at any track, the First Kart contingent will be gunning for the overall win as well as looking to secure several of the top ten positions in the headline SuperPro class.

Joining the ICC drivers will be G1 standout and recent SKUSA race winner Howie Idelson (Nike Racing/Mechanix Wear). Idelson made the move to the G1 division earlier in the year and has been one of the drivers to watch at every event. Always a threat for the win, Idelson usually turns the fastest race lap while remaining consistent throughout the race. Look for Idelson to be in the hunt for the win as he is determined to show that he is the man in the over 35 class. Nelson Mason will be the lone 80cc Jr. competitor as he looks to turn his bad luck and misfortune around. Mason, who is a previous National race winner, has had the equipment and speed to win on several different occasions but bad luck forced him to retire early. Both Mason and Idelson will look to utilize the knowledge and experience of fellow team members to solidify their runs to the SuperNat’s title.

“It has been a lot of work but I believe that we have one of the most talented teams that will be in competition,” stated First Kart Director of Operations Tony Ventresca. “As a team, we will utilize every driver’s information to ensure that the team goes quicker as a group. I really believe that with a little racing luck, we can walk away with race wins in several different classes this weekend.” Along with the drivers, Ventresca has established one of the most respected mechanically inclined race teams in the sport. Leading the tuners is ’02 Shifter Kart Illustrated Tuner of the Year Terry Ventresca. The elder Ventresca will work together with Hi-Tech’s Paul Leary to ensure the potent Leary power is running perfect. Ventresca will also act as chief tuner for SuperPro favorite Bobby Wilson as well as team engineer to ensure that all team mechanics equipment is in perfect working order.

Interested parties can view Superkarts! USA up-to-date schedules, race results, point standings and press releases online at  To obtain more information on First Kart North America, sponsorship opportunities or for general inquires on karting including how to get into kart racing please contact Tony Ventresca at the First Kart North America head office toll free at 1-888-884-4851. For immediate product information visit First Kart online at

Industry News

Speedway Motorsports earnings up  Speedway Motorsports Inc. reports a 113% increase in third-quarter earnings. The Concord-based company had net income of nearly $1.9 million, or 4 cents per diluted share, compared with $869,000, or 2 cents per diluted share, in the third quarter of last year. Revenue reached $64 million, up 9% from $59 million in the year-ago period. The comparability of results is impacted by the staging of events in different quarters in 2002 and 2003. Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosted a NASCAR truck race in the third quarter, an event that was held in last year's fourth quarter. Speedway markets and promotes motorsports entertainment in the United States.


Latest F1 Hot News items 

Schu Speeds $1 Million To Charity
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BAR Undecided On Michelin Tire Switch


Toyota testing at Daytona  Toyota will hold a two-day manufacturer test session today and Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the 2004 Florida Dodge Dealers 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Feb. 13. Joe Ruttman will serve as the test driver. The test session is free and open to the public both days, with access to the Oldfield Grandstand available through Daytona USA. Daytona Beach News Journal


Despain: They should have to lift  At least we are not alone in thinking that the IRL's 100% throttle racing is 1) way too easy, 2) way too dangerous.  Dave Despain stated on Wind Tunnel that the drivers should have to lift going into the turn, pick up the throttle in mid-corner and feather on the power exiting the corners.  As it is, just about anyone can drive an IRL car at 100% throttle, it's senseless and it's incredibly dangerous, but the IRL does not like it when we say that because they have based their entire marketing strategy around the artificial close finishes and pack racing that they achieve with everyone running 100% throttle.  So be it.  We pray for those drivers before every race.


Steve Grissom comments on new Homestead banks  “The track looked great. I don’t know all the scientific facts about how pavement cures, or things like that, but I do know that the surface is smooth and fast. I saw a lot of guys running multiple grooves throughout the afternoon. I’d say that there are about two to two-and-a-half grooves on the track right now. You can run up high, in the middle, and the bottom groove is starting to work in. “I don’t think there are three or four grooves right now. I don’t know if you’ll see that this weekend or not. I do know, however, that it’s not going to hurt to have the Winston Cup guys on the track all day Wednesday. Coming back for a full day on Thursday with the Craftsman Trucks and us in the Busch Series is going to help too. The more cars on the track the better. Everyone was trying a lot of different things today and that’s what you’ll probably see all weekend. There are going to be a lot of educated guessing on setups, but the track looks and is holding up great.”


Alex Zanardi on Wind Tunnel tonight  Alex Zanardi is going to make a surprise telephone call into Wind Tunnel tonight on SPEED Channel between 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM EST


F1 fans have threats of terror attacks in Bahrain  UPDATE  A reader responds to this news item.  Dear AR1, The more I read about F-1's track shenanigans and Bernie's near junkie addiction to tobacco money....the more it sickens me. For the last 4 years, my girlfriend and I, along with my best friend and his wife have made a tradition of going to the Canadian GP as a summer vacation. We are from New England, and since we vowed never to give Tony George one red cent, the Canadian GP was our only option to see F-1 on this hemisphere. The loss of the Canadian GP has really taken the wind out of our sails. It was our summer tradition and something we looked forward to as soon the race was over. But to lose it to Turkey and the Middle East, the most dangerous place in the world...for the sake of Tobacco money.   Of all the places to hold a GP....the most dangerous place in the world surely would have made somebody do a quick take. Let's face facts...right now is there a huge wave of Anti-western sentiment in that area of the world...and to bring an event that embodies the most hated ideals of Western life to the bees nest is suicide at best. You can't tell me that an event with the possibility of over 200,000 fans doesn't make a tempting target for some religious nut-job to make his point about the evils of western life. What better place to set off a car bomb than at a race that glorifies sex, tobacco, and excess to the extreme. Let's hope Bernie demands the type of security that would make Ft. Knox envious...not just at the track, but anywhere there is any sort of F-1 presence in Bahrain.  Formula 1 and their attitudes are really trying my patience.  Regards,  Joe Angers Boston, MA  11/11/03 - Not the place we would want to see a F1 race.  The British Embassy in Bahrain has warned of a high threat of terrorist attacks against Western targets in the country and British nationals in Bahrain have been told to "remain vigilant, particularly in public places". The Foreign and Commonwealth Office says that there is now "a high threat from terrorism" and that British nationals should review their security arrangements carefully.


Fernández to compete in karting race  Adrian Fernandez will travel to Colombia, South America, this week to participate in the Formula Smiles charity go-kart race on November 15 hosted by Juan Pablo Montoya and his wife, Connie.

The three-day event centered in Cartagena, a historic city located on the northern coast of Colombia on the Caribbean, will launch the Formula Smiles Foundation co-organized by Connie Montoya to help underprivileged children in Colombia.

Fernandez will be joined on the grid by several notable drivers including
Pedro de la Rosa, Scott Dixon, Mario Dominguez, Marc Gene, Felipe Giaffone,
Roberto Jose Guerrero, Rodolfo Lavin, Roberto Moreno, Antonio Pizzonia and Ricardo Sperafico.

“I want to thank Connie and Juan for all of their efforts in organizing this event,” said Fernandez. “I am looking forward to visiting Cartagena, the opportunity to catch up with some drivers I haven’t seen in awhile and, most importantly, to raising a lot of money for Formula Smiles. Hopefully, this race meeting will become an annual event.”

Saturday’s Carrera de Estrellas (Stars Race) will be contested on a street circuit located in the old part of Cartagena. The day will consist of four practice sessions followed by two feature events with bragging rights acknowledged in a podium celebration and press conference.


$100,000 Barber Dodge karting scholarship  After two days of a simulated CART-Champ Car Barber Dodge Pro Series race weekend, Joey D'Agostino of Plantation, Fla., won the "Big Scholarship" Run-Off by stepping to the fore in the final on-track session of the six competitors. D'Agostino, 18, won the top prize of $100,000, to be used during the 2004 Barber Dodge season.

The six young drivers had earned their way into the Run-Off - this was the 12th annual - by being front-runners in the 2003 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER. In addition to D'Agostino, the competitors were Gerardo Bonilla, 28, of Orlando, Fla.; Ben Freudenberg, 21, North Bend, Ore.; Brian Frisselle, Kihei, Hawaii; Philippe Gelinas, 18, Grand-Mere, Quebec, Canada; and Matt Jaskol, 19, Las Vegas, Nev..

The panel of judges (driver and SPEED commentator Tommy Kendall; RuSport Driver Development Coach Barry Waddell; esteemed open-wheel journalists Gordon Kirby and Jeremy Shaw; and professional drivers and Skip Barber coaches Peter Argetsinger, David Loring, Rod McLeod, Oswaldo Negri and Jim Pace) were unanimous in voting the top award to D'Agostino after he put up a stunning set of lap times in the final "race" session: most were five- to seven- tenths of a second quicker than the rest of the field. (That was all the more impressive, considering that in all the other practice and qualifying sessions, the difference between the fastest and the slowest driver was never more than .450 seconds.) D'Agostino, a noted karter in addition to his Formula Dodge exploits and the son of a race engineer, also put up a fastest race- lap that was .381 seconds quicker than what had been the fastest lap of the weekend, set by Freudenberg.

Freudenberg was awarded second place in the Run-off, and thus earned $50,000 for 2004.

"In the dozen years we've been conducting the Big Scholarship, this year was probably the most difficult to choose among these guys," said Pace, the weekend's "chief steward." "Everyone was fast, everyone gave good feedback, everyone is media savvy and articulate. This really was a unique group. That's why we put them out for the simulated race, to gather one more data set and see if anyone could separate themselves from what was clearly a stellar field."

As a result of the intense closeness of the competition and the talent shown behind the wheel of the Reynard-Dodges, Bonilla, Frisselle, Gelinas and Jaskol also earned $30,000 each to use against 2004 Barber Dodge race weekends.


CART buyout timing from AR1's perspective  The process that must be followed is that CART files a draft proxy statement ("PREM14A") with the SEC (they did that on 10/7), then the SEC provides written comments (in the form of a long letter that instructs CART to include more disclosure about this and that in the proxy statement) which the SEC evidently did on 11/6. Then CART files a new draft proxy statement and the SEC provides more comments. This process can go through 3-4 rounds in a rule 13E-3 transaction (which this is) before the SEC ok's a final proxy statement. The fact that the SEC gave CART comments within 30 days of the filing of the first draft is actually pretty fast. But CART hasn't even filed its second draft yet incorporating those comments. We would expect the SEC to take at least 2 weeks to provide comments on the second draft once it is filed. Then the SEC might require CART to file a third draft. The problem is that a shareholders meeting has to be scheduled for at least 30 days after the final proxy statement is mailed. To make the 12/18 meeting date they mentioned, a final proxy statement will have to be mailed in 7 days. We don't see how that can possibly happen.  And then with the holidays, we don't see the buyout happening before January sometime and the first race is in St. Pete in February. We originally reported months ago that we doubted the process could be completed before next year, based on advice we obtained from experts who do this sort of work all the time.  That advice looks as though it may hold true as December approaches.  CART and OWRS had better start making some announcements and assurances about 2004 so teams and sponsors can move forward, or there won't be a 2004 for CART.  Like we stated, this process should have started 3 to 6 months sooner.   Mark C.


CART Barber Dodge confirms doubleheader weekends  The CART-Champ Car Barber Dodge Pro Series officially announced that for the 2004 season, it will increase the number of races comprising the championship by going to a double-race weekend format. Current plans call for races at seven or eight venues, making for a 14- to 16-race championship. From the series' inception in 1986, Barber Dodge was a 12-race championship, shifting to 10 races in 2002 and 2003.

"A primary motivation behind the increase is to attract more European drivers to the CART-Champ Car Driver Development System," says Rick Ratajczak, driver relations manager of the Barber Dodge Pro Series. "The open-wheel ladders series in Europe typically conduct something on the order of 14-to-18 races. Now we can offer an equivalent amount of points races." Ratajczak adds that "the best value in professional open-wheel racing gets even better: The entry fee will be nominally increased, but the per-race cost will go down dramatically. And that's not even mentioning the big decrease in overall travel costs for the competitors."

Barber Dodge Operations Director Steve Sewell says it's important to note that the double-race format requires no more weekend track time than is currently set for Champ Car's support series. "The short and long of it is, at most venues we are essentially replacing a Saturday qualifying session with a race; a driver's result in that race becomes his or her starting position for Sunday."

Regarding a specific schedule, it is too early to announce, Sewell says, "but of course we'll be working with Champ Car to firm things up as it defines next year's dates and venues. We expect our 2004 schedule to be substantially similar to 2003's."

Sanctioned by CART, the Barber Dodge Pro Series, headquartered in Lakeville, Conn., with its race shop in Sebring, Fla., serves as the Official Entry Level Professional Race Series of CART Champ Car. For more information about the CART Champ Car Ladder System, log onto and click on the respective links to the Toyota Atlantic Championship, Barber Dodge Pro Series, Formula Dodge National Championship, and Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow karting.


CSI: Miami - CART finally hits a home run UPDATE Just a quick correction, they did mention Ford. About halfway through the show, as they were pulling the engine from the Cosworth trailer they showed the Ford logo up close (several times). And when they had the engine in the lab the investigators said "These Ford Cosworth engines are legendary..."  11/11/03 - We will say that we thought the show was filmed better than Driven, which is sad to say that a TV show can show-up a feature film. Aside from some embarrassing factual shortcomings, we thought this was one of the best things for CART in a long time. Unfortunately, it was up against Monday night football, with a good game too. Asbestos in the gloves? Pop off valves being issued to the driver? Super glue in the pop off valve? A gasman burning to death, when there are barrels of water just yards away at any given point? The whole thing about a casualty being pronounced at the hospital instead of the track didn't sound like a good thing. Although it sounded slightly cheesy to us, we are sure it was great for CART. We will say that the show did a great job getting into the technical side for the uninitiated viewer, giving facts about the cars and the racing, and saying that it's the best in the certainly good for CART. The CART logos and name were dropped everywhere as well. Would have loved to hear them talking about the Cosworth engines being made by Ford though. I didn't see their name anywhere. All in all, we will give it a 9. Great for CART! Finally a home run. Scott Morris/AR1

Industry News

Toyota poised to become #1   For the first time, Toyota Motor Corp. gained the title of world's second-largest automaker in the third quarter, as it outsold Ford Motor Co. by 166,000 vehicles.   While Ford still holds the year-to-date sales lead by a slim margin, its forecast of lower fourth-quarter production might make it possible for Toyota to claim the title for all of 2003.  According to data from Toyota's financial results, it sold 1,576,000 vehicles worldwide in the third quarter, while Ford sold 1,410,000. Toyota's sales included its Hino and Daihatsu units, while Ford's sales included its foreign luxury brands -- Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin.   For the first nine months of 2003, Ford still ranks as the world's second-largest automaker -- behind General Motors Corp. -- with a lead of about 26,000 vehicles, with 4,844,000 sold to Toyota's 4,818,000.   The third quarter is typically the weakest for U.S. automakers, as they shut down factories for vacations and new-model changeovers. But Ford's third-quarter global sales were down 15 percent, due to sluggish sales in Europe, the elimination of slow-selling models in the United States and the lack of new products -- all problems Toyota has not had.   Through October, Toyota was the top-selling passenger car brand in the United States, with sales up 5.4 percent. The Ford brand, which held the title for many years, was down 7.6 percent over the same period.   While Ford has not projected sales for all of 2003, it has estimated that its fourth-quarter production would fall by 26,000 vehicles to 1,545,000.   Ford Chairman and Chief Executive Bill Ford Jr. had said this year that the size of the company founded by his great-grandfather was less important to him than restoring its financial health.   Ford raised its earnings forecast for 2003 last month, but is bracing for a likely downgrade of its credit rating from Standard & Poor's.   "We feel growth is going to take care of itself if we get the basics right," Ford spokeswoman Becky Bach said. "We believe we're in a solid position."  The changes were first reported by trade magazine Automotive News on Monday.   Reuters


Michelin rolls out F1 inspired street tire  Winning performances will come to passenger car drivers in 2004 when Michelin's four new ultra-high performance tires hit the streets, lead by the new Michlein(R) Pilot(r) Sport PS2(TM). Kimi Raikkonen, West McLaren Mercedes driver, rolled out the first one at the 2003 SEMA show in Las Vegas, featuring a Formula One-inspired tread which is designed to provide greater stability in the tread and contact area under extreme cornering.


***Reader Question***What if buyout fails? A reader writes, Dear, If the CART buyout fails, why can't OWRS just start a new series with all the CART teams and CART races? John Cabrera  Dear John,  Timing is the problem.  All the race contracts, Cosworth, etc.,  are with CART.  By the time the lawyers redid all the contracts there would not be a 2004 season.  In addition, the existing CART shareholders would file a lawsuit to protect their interests as there is some value to some of those contracts. Mark C.


Toyota unveils NASCAR engine  UPDATE We have added a photo of the engine and truck courtesy of Toyota Motorsports. From the looks of it, Toyota had to take a step back of 20 years in technology from its F1 and CART designs to come up with this engine. Oops, we forgot, this is dumbed-down  "American" racing. 11/9/03 - The SEMA Show unveiling of the Tundra Racing V8 for the Toyota Tundra race truck represents one of the most critical steps in Toyota's journey to NASCAR's victory lane. It follows a historic press conference at the 2003 Chicago Auto Show where Toyota first rolled out a race-prepared Tundra pickup to formally announce its plans to begin participation in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

"Once we had our truck, the next phase in its development was to create an engine capable of achieving success in this competitive racing series," said Dave Illingworth, senior vice president, chief planning and administrative officer for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. (TRD).

The normally aspirated, Tundra Racing V8 engine was designed entirely in America by Toyota Racing Development. TRD's technical capabilities came to the forefront as they designed and produced "from a clean sheet of paper," an overhead valve racing engine in a remarkably short period of time.

The engine design focused on high quality, performance, lightweight, reliability, and ease of manufacture. Measuring 358 cubic inches of displacement, the V8 is capable of producing up to 650 horsepower. The cast aluminum cylinder head and cast iron cylinder block both use a computer-optimized cooling system. The engine is also equipped with forged aluminum pistons, forged steel connecting rods, and a high strength billet steel crankshaft. Its fuel pump and exhaust were each developed by TRD.

The engine's Craftsman Series debut will take place at historic Daytona International Speedway in February 2004 where it will be represented by at least six American-built Tundra race trucks. Team affiliations will be determined soon.

TRD will design, develop, and build the Craftsman Truck Tundra V8 to NASCAR specifications in its Costa Mesa, Calif., facility.

Toyota has been in the business of selling pickup trucks in this country for nearly 40 years. Since 1991 Toyota's compact pickups have been manufactured at its NUMMI plant in Fremont, California. Toyota has assembled the full-size Tundra pickup exclusively at its Princeton, Ind. plant since its debut in 1999. Toyota's commitment to building trucks continues to grow as witnessed by the recent groundbreaking of its newest truck plant in San Antonio, Texas. "With Toyota's ongoing commitment to build American trucks for the American truck buyer it made sense to become involved with a true form of American racing," said Illingworth. "From an Americanization as well as a marketing perspective, choosing NASCAR was a no-brainer."

Toyota's entry into the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series further extends the manufacturer's rich auto-racing history. Over the last 20 years, Toyota has won championships in a variety of high-level racing series including IRL, CART, IMSA, MTEG, SCORE, CORR, Pikes Peak, as well as NHRA import drag racing and various SCCA classes. Since 2000, Toyota has competed in the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series.

The V6-powered Toyota Celica's victory at Kentucky in 2001 was the first by an overhead-cam, multi-valve engine in NASCAR history. In the recently completed 2003 season Robert Huffman won his record-tying fifth Goody's Dash Series driver's championship and Toyota won its first NASCAR championship.  Toyota


Latest F1 Hot News items 

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Renault Answered Testing 'Sarcasm'
Champ Can't Believe JV Is Over The Hill
Webber Hopes For Faster '04 Teammate
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CSI: Miami photos  Here are two pages of photos taken by someone during the CSI: Miami shoot at CART's GP of Americas race.  Recognize some of the faces?


Bourdais helps former teammate at LeMans Less than one week removed from taking home an armload of hardware from the 2003 CART Champ Car Awards Ceremony, Sebastien Bourdais climbed back in the cockpit as he helped his former Pescarolo Sport squad to earn a berth in next year's 24 hours of Le Mans.

The 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford Rookie of the Year returned to his hometown of Le Mans this past weekend, teaming with Stephane Sarrazin and Franck Lagorce to finish second in a 1000km race that qualified teams for the 2004 edition of the world's most famous sports-car endurance event.

No stranger to the fabled Le Mans circuit, Bourdais stepped back into the LMP900 Pescarolo Courage-Peugeot in which he scored two FIA Sportscar Championship victories in 2002 and helped take the car to runner-up honors in Sunday's race. The finish guarantees the team a spot in next year's 24-hour event, a race that Bourdais finished fourth in during the 2000 season.

Bourdais was a regular with Pescarolo Sport in 2000-02 before coming to the United States with Newman/Haas Racing last season and joining the Champ Car World Series. He took the pole for the first two races of his CART career and would go on to win three races and four poles in his rookie Champ Car season. At last week's awards ceremony, Bourdais not only captured the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year Trophy, but also took home the Greg Moore Legacy Award as well as the Bridgestone Grip on the Season Award.


Yamaha confirms Rossi  UPDATE In this article, Randy Mamola on Rossi's move to Yamaha; (1) It will open up the championship for 2004; (2) Barros crashed 14 times this year on the Yamaha. (3) Randy's respect for Yamaha rider Checa went way up after he tested the Yamaha vs. the Honda. (4) there is no way Rossi can win the 2004 500 MotoGP championship. 11/10/03 - A week after leaving Honda, Valentino Rossi has today been officially confirmed as a Yamaha rider in the 2004 and 2005 MotoGP world championship. "We are all extremely happy that Valentino will be joining Yamaha in 2004," enthused Mr Lin Jarvis, managing director of Yamaha Motor Racing. "In our discussions with him it is clear that he relishes the challenge of achieving our goal in MotoGP as much as we do. He is an incredible talent and will make a huge difference. "Obviously there is a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we are confident that we can give Valentino the means to achieve more world championships and we look forward to the challenge ahead. This is a very important step in our plan to re-establish Yamaha as a leading force in Grand Prix racing," he added.


Update on CART buyout  We predicted that the entire SEC process would take a while and that the CART buyout likely would not be completed before the New Year.  That's looking more and more likely with each passing week.  CART put out this announcement today, which it hoped would have happened a couple of weeks ago, or even sooner.  If this buyout does not happen until January, and with CART's first race the following month, time is quickly running out for teams to close sponsor deals.  It was a major error to not have started this process six months sooner.  With sponsors wondering whether there will be a next year, not knowing until January raises the risk of it all being too late for many teams, meaning OWRS will have to dig into its coffers even deeper to keep enough teams afloat to even have a series.  The lack of announcements coming out of CART and its teams (i.e. the silence) is deafening.  - - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. ("Championship") (OTCBB: CPNT.OB) announced today that last Thursday, November 6, 2003, it received the comments of the Securities and Exchange Commission's ("SEC") to its preliminary proxy statement relating to the proposed merger with Open Wheel Racing Series LLC that was submitted to the SEC in early October 2003. Championship intends to respond promptly to the comments made by the SEC to the proxy statement and resubmit the revised proxy statement to the SEC later this week.

Championship intends to finalize the proxy statement and mail it to its stockholders as soon as practicable and to set a meeting date for a shareholder vote prior to year-end The meeting could take place as early as December 18, 2003, although there can be no assurance that it will not be later.

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. and Open Wheel Racing Series LLC announced previously they have signed a definitive agreement providing for Open Wheel Racing Series to acquire Championship for cash equivalent to $0.56 per share, based on the number of shares of Championship common stock currently outstanding. The transaction is subject to a number of closing conditions, including approval by Championship's stockholders.

Open Wheel Racing Series is a newly formed holding company owned indirectly by a group of investors including Gerald R. Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi. Mr. Forsythe or entities owned or controlled by him currently have beneficial ownership of 3,377,400 shares of Championship common stock, approximately 22.9% of the outstanding shares of Championship. These shares will be contributed to Open Wheel Racing Series rather than acquired for cash. Open Wheel Racing Series has previously stated that, if the transaction is completed, it intends to continue to operate the business of Championship, including continuing to sanction the motorsports series currently known as "Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford."


Memo Gidley's Secrets of Speed  Memo Gidley, accomplished open wheel race car driver and shifter kart champion will join forces with author/publisher Jeff Grist to produce four additional titles under the Memo Gidley's Secrets of Speed banner. Each book will focus on a different karting discipline and use the unique format and style created in the first book.

"The book that Jeff and I put together was very different than anything else ever produced for karting," states Gidley. "We want to produce the same excitement for other karters as we did for shifter kart racers," continues Gidley from his new race shop, The Rocket Factory, in Sparks, NV. "Everywhere I go I am amazed at the response to the book."

Building on momentum is vital for this writing duo. The success of Secrets of Speed for Shifter Kart Racing is proof positive that there is a strong appetite for more information and insight into the mechanics and dynamics of karting. Feeding that pent up demand is the single-minded focus for both Gidley and Grist.

"I have always said that when I decided to write a karting book I wanted to partner with the best of the best. Working with Memo has been an amazing experience and I want to build on the incredible success of Secrets of Speed for Shifter Kart Racing," comments Jeff Grist, co-author and publisher of Memo Gidley's Secrets of Speed for Shifter Kart Racing. "We have had an enormous number of requests from karters in other disciplines, who are looking for the same type of information and insight as the Shifter Kart book," continues Grist from his offices just outside of Toronto, ON.

The entire MG SOS team is back including production designer Craig Ketchen, photographer Jeff Deskins, graphic designer Jeremy Ortega, website designer Rachel Ponke and copy editor Caroline Owen. Also, Earl Ma will be contributing articles to the website throughout the year.

With the second book well underway, both Gidley and Grist will be on hand this weekend at the SKUSA SuperNationals to talk more about their new book-publishing project with karting industry leaders. The title and cover of the new book will be unveiled at a SKUSA Awards banquet, taking place at the NASCAR Café on Thursday evening. The 2003 7th Annual SuperNationals will be held at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas November 13 through 16, 2003. This event will be nationally broadcast on SPEED CHANNEL cable network. SPEED CHANNEL is currently available in over 65 million households.

"We are very excited that Memo and Jeff have chosen the Supernationals to unveil the title of their new book to the North American karting community," states Jim Murley, CEO of Superkarts! USA.  For more information on Memo Gidley's Secrets of Speed for Shifter Kart Racing visit the website at call Jeff Grist at 905.328.7458 or email at


American Spirit Team News  CSI Miami Tonight: CBS hit CSI Miami will feature American Spirit Team Johansson in tonight’s episode titled “Grand Prix”. The episode was filmed during the week leading up to and during the weekend of the Grand Prix of Americas in downtown Miami. The program begins with an American Spirit team member involved in a homicide and is followed with the crime scene investigation. Tonight’s program features guest stars Lauren Holly and Jason Lewis. While Jimmy Vasser’s #12 car is predominantly featured, Ryan Hunter-Reay completed most of the stunt driving. Viewers will recognize the American Spirit transporters, hospitality unit and pits in tonight’s program while the crew featured in the program is a combination of team members from both the #12 and #31 cars.

Johansson and Vasser to run Baja: Both Stefan Johansson and Jimmy Vasser will compete in the Baja 1000 later this month. It will be Johansson’s first time competing in the off-road race; he will drive for Centrix Racing alongside Michel Jourdain Jr. Vasser will make his second attempt at the 1000 mile desert race with his life-long friends Mike and Robbie Groff. The race is a 763-mile loop that begins and ends in Ensenada, Mexico. The green flag will fall on Friday, November the 21st at 8:00 am. You can follow Stefan and Jimmy’s progress on living timing at

Hunter-Reay Relaxes: Champ Car’s most recent race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay has finally returned to his home in Boca Raton, Florida after five weeks on the road. He will spend the next few weeks getting some rest and relaxation, between his daily work-outs, karting three times a week and when weather permits, surfing.

Vasser’s Tour Continues: Vasser spent the weekend in Brazil attending the wedding of his good friend Tony Kanaan and racing in the Granja Viana Kart 500. Vasser teamed up with Alex Zanardi, Oriol Servia and Michel Jourdain Jr. to finish fourth in the 644-lap karting event. This weekend, Vasser heads to Colombia to participate in his former teammate Juan Montoya’s charity karting event, “Formula Smiles”.


Newman donates to Fire Relief Fund  As he has done numerous times in recent years, Paul Newman has responded to disaster through direct support of humanitarian relief for the victims. His $100,000 check to the Los Angeles Times/KTLA Fire Relief Fund, presented today, will aid those who have suffered devastating losses in the past few weeks.

This contribution marks a total of $150 Million in charitable gifts that the actor/entrepreneur has made from profits generated by his "Newman's Own" brand of food products. Paul Newman is sole owner of the business; he donates all profits and royalties after taxes for educational and charitable purposes.

Nell Newman, who is President of Newman's Own Organics: The Second Generation, headquartered in San Mateo, California, presented the check on behalf of her father this morning on the KTLA "Morning News."

The Los Angeles Times/KTLA Fire Relief Campaign is a joint effort by the McCormick Tribune Foundation, Los Angeles Times and KTLA. For every dollar given, the McCormick Tribune Foundation is donating an additional 50 cents, making Paul Newman's donation in effect worth $150,000.

The Southern California fires have to date claimed the lives of 21 people, destroyed more than 3,400 homes and burned nearly 750,000 acres. The Los Angeles Times/KTLA Fire Relief Campaign will turn over 100% of all donations and matching funds directly to eligible agencies providing disaster relief to fire victims.

For more information on the Fund, go to . For more information about Newman's Own, go to   PRN Newswire


Denver race contributed $26.5 million to local economy  The future of financially troubled Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc. (OTC BB: CPNT.OB) should be decided Dec. 18, when shareholders will vote on whether or not to sell the company to fledgling Open Wheel Racing Series LLC. Open Wheel's purchase of 24-year-old, Indianapolis-based CART, which is the Grand Prix of Denver's governing body, is the group's only hope for survival at this point. But organizers of the 2004 Labor Day Denver grand prix persevere with planning for the event. Open Wheel is owned by a group of race team owners including Paul Gentilozzi, Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe. The company announced Sept. 10 that it offered the cash equivalent of 56 cents a share for CART. The total price will depend on the number of outstanding shares when the deal closes. CART plans to release its 2004 schedule of 16 or 17 races and television package in the next few weeks, according to the company. John Frew, the Denver grand prix's vice president and general manager, remains optimistic the Open Wheel Racing deal announced in August will go through and next year's racing season will be held. "Everything we hear is they're on track," Frew said.  The Denver race just hired one new staffer and is looking for two more, including a promotions person, and expects to start selling 2004 tickets in January. Frew also is negotiating with Denver-based Centrix Financial LLC to sign on for another year as the local race's title sponsor, and is optimistic Centrix will stay on. Last year's first Denver grand prix contributed $26.5 million to the metro-area economy, according to organizers.  Denver Business Journal


Hornish nominated for 4th Qtr. balloting  Two-time IRL IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. has been nominated for the Speed Channel Presents Driver of the Year 2003 Fourth Quarter award. Hornish, who finished fifth in the 2003 IndyCar Series point standings, earned victories in the Delphi Indy 300 Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway and the Toyota Indy 400 Sept. 21 at California Speedway. He was named the Driver of the Year for the First Quarter in 2002. The Driver of the Year award is in its 37th year. Awards are given out quarterly during the racing season, before the end of the year award is given. The awards are determined by an independent vote of an 18-member panel of auto-racing journalists and broadcasters, with an additional vote based on the cumulative tally of fan voting at The winner of the fourth quarter award will be given a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix Swiss Watch, the official watch of the Driver of the Year. Later in the year, a separate vote will take place to determine the 2003 Driver of the Year.   IRL


Fernández team to test Japanese driver  Super Aguri Fernandez Racing begins preparations for its second season of IRL IndyCar competition with a test of Japanese driving talent Kousuke Matsuura at Phoenix International Raceway this week. Matsuura will take his first laps in the team’s Dallara/Honda/Firestone tomorrow in a scheduled two-day outing on the one-mile oval located just outside of Phoenix.  Matsuura, 24, of Aichi, Japan, most recently drove for the ARTA-Signature team, finishing third in the 2003 Formula Renault V6 Eurocup championship with three wins and six consecutive podium finishes in the final rounds. Matsuura began his career in karts at the age of 15 and, after laying claim to several championship titles, was invited to attend the Suzuka Racing School Formula (SRS-F) – a premiere driver’s training program based in Japan – in 1999.   After claiming the 2000 Formula Dream champion’s title, Matsuura graduated to the German Formula 3 Championship with the help of the ARTA Project run by Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Co-Owner Aguri Suzuki. He finished second in the 2002 German F3 Championship with the Prema Powerteam, remaining in contention for the championship until the final rounds. His accomplishments in F3 competition earned Matsuura a test with the Lucky Strike BAR Honda Formula One team last December.   In addition to Aguri Suzuki, Co-Owner Adrian Fernandez, Managing Director Tom Anderson and Race Engineer John Dick will be on hand for the test.   Super Aguri Fernandez Racing will be confirming its driver line-up for the 2004 IRL IndyCar Series in the near future.


Indian team to visit London   Hyderabad's hopes of becoming India's first venue of Formula 1 car race were raised again as officials prepared to leave for London to discuss draft agreements with F1 promoters.

After F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone failed to turn up either at the inaugural or the closing ceremony of the first Afro-Asian Games, the city's hopes of hosting the big event were considered all but over.

The state government, however, last week received three draft agreements. A team of officials is leaving for London to discuss the agreements with sponsors.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said Andhra Pradesh was the only state to receive the draft agreements. Thus other competitors, Maharashtra and Karnataka, have been left out.

Naidu hoped that the state would bag the prestigious event but declined to go into the incentives the government would be offering to sponsors.

In the draft agreements, to be discussed in a day or two, the sponsors have sought details like the location of the racing track, facilities available and proposed in the city, financial commitments and television rights.

Officials said the government wanted to go all out to bag the multi-million dollar project as it is likely to generate direct and indirect employment to 100,000 people and have tremendous spin-off benefits for the state's economy especially in the hotel, travel, tourism and infrastructure sectors.

If all goes well, the city will become the 18th venue of the world's most glamorous car race and host it in 2006. India will be only the fourth country in Asia to host the race after Japan, Malaysia and China.  HindustaTimes


Super Nova signs French driver  F3 Euro Series front-runner Olivier Pla has signed to race for Super Nova Racing in next year's Formula 3000 championship. The 22-year old Frenchman has set himself the goal of learning the tracks and the cars next year, before challenging for the title in 2005. "I am very happy and proud to sign with such a prestigious team as Super Nova Racing and with such an experienced team manager as David Sears," said Pla. "I am really happy with the confidence that the team are giving me as I have worked very hard to get here. "It is my desire to learn as much as possible with the team during the first year and maybe even win some races and then I aim to go for the title in 2005." Sears said: "We are very happy to welcome Olivier Pla into the team. I'm sure we can develop him into a future Formula 1 driver." Pla finished third in the F3 Euro Series this year, driving for the French ASM team. In 2002, he finished third in the French F3 championship, and also took victory in the Korean Super Prix event. Autosport


Larger gas cans in 2004  NASCAR released 14 pages of amendments to the 2004 Cup rulebook to teams at Rockingham. Teams will now use 12-gallon fuel cans, which will deter teams from compromising the bottom of the current 11-gallon cans. (Cars' fuel cells hold 22 gallons.) The F3, or dinosaur, template will now extend from the cowl to the rear spoiler, tightening areas where teams can find an advantage. Engines must be located 14.25 inches, plus or minus 1 inch, from the center carburetor air cleaning mounting stud to the base of the windshield. Many teams will need to change driveshafts and motor mounts in order to comply with that rule. NASCAR also is separating primary and secondary ignition systems so that it will be easier to check the wiring and eliminate any opportunities for traction control. FoxSports/Sporting News

Industry News

Forced air induction engines on the rise  We have maintained that we will see an increasing number of supercharged and turbocharged engines on production vehicles because of the performance advantages they provide.  Here's another.  Introduced at the SEMA show, Ford Racing Performance Part's latest in the FR-series of performance project vehicles, the new 600 horsepower 5.0L DOHC "Cammer" supercharged V8 engine.


Latest F1 Hot News items 

Villeneuve On Search For Jaguar Cash
New McLaren To Debut This Month
Ferrari: 'No Comment' On Theft Case
Massa To Continue As Ferrari Tester
Zanardi: 'Moral' Victor At Granja Viana
Webber Rues Loss Of Friday Testing
Cloud Gathers Over Brazil F1 Race
Racer Sets Pace In Endurance Challenge
Ferrari Snap Up Renault Engineer
Iceman Vows To Freeze Schu Out In '04
Schu To Take On Antique Bi-Plane
Fisichella Can Leave Sauber In 2005
Schu's Manager Back In Court
Wilson Lands Yorkshire Sports Award
Schu To Party With Nelson Mandela
Stoddart Names New Discount Airline
Raikkonen To Miss McLaren Debut
Ex-Racer Doubts Firman Will Drive On
Alesi Rues Canadian GP Demise
Sons Of Legends Go Head-To-Head
Surtees Doubts If Schu Is Quitting


Petty & Stewart to honor Winston  Seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Richard Petty, along with the reigning Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart, will honor Winston's final race as title sponsor of NASCAR's top series with a victory lap tribute prior to Sunday's Ford 400. Petty, also the first champion under the 33 years of Winston's sponsorship will ride alongside Stewart as part of a special "Victory Lap" tribute to honor NASCAR Winston Cup Series champions during R.J. Reynolds' 33-year tenure in the sport. The 2003 NASCAR season is the final for Winston's title sponsorship of NASCAR's top division, which they have held since 1971. Stewart will represent "active" NASCAR Winston Cup champions in the "Victory Lap" tribute. He will drive a specially painted No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet alongside the famous #43 Chevrolet driven by the "King" Richard Petty during pre-race ceremonies.

Industry News

Chinese Canadian tycoon rescues Air Canada  Tycoon Victor Li Tzar-kuoi has outbid American private investment firm Cerberus Capital Management in their tussle to rescue debt-laden Air Canada (former Canadian GP sponsor), triggering what could be the Li family's maiden foray into airline management.   Mr Li's privately held Trinity Time Investments was selected to invest in Air Canada, the flag carrier said in a statement over the weekend.   Mr Li is the eldest son of billionaire Li Ka-shing, whose business empire includes property developer Cheung Kong (Holdings), telecommunications-to-container terminal operator Hutchison Whampoa and Canadian oil producer Husky Energy.  Under the agreement, Trinity will pay $433 million for a 31 per cent stake in a restructured Air Canada, which filed for bankruptcy protection on April 1.  As a Canadian citizen, Mr Li is not restricted by Canadian investment regulations that bar foreigners from owning more than 25 per cent of local companies. The Li family's investment activity in Canada dates back to as early as 1987, when Li senior bought into Husky Oil, which was merged with rival Renaissance Energy in 2000. He also bought Toronto-based investment bank Gordon Capital in 1996 and sold it three years later to HSBC. "We have full confidence in [Air Canada's] senior management team and will continue to work with them over the coming months to complete the steps which will reshape Air Canada into a leading competitor in the air transportation sector globally," Hutchison Whampoa finance director Frank Sixt said in a statement issued on behalf of Victor Li.


Ducab wins Bahrain contract  Dubai Cable Company (Private) Ltd. (Ducab) announced that it has won the cable supply contract worth AED 4 million for the Bahrain Formula One International Circuit racetrack project. It was after much consideration that the contract was awarded to Ducab because of complex and precise execution of cabling involved. Bahrain will have the unique distinction of playing host to the first Formula One Grand Prix in the Middle East next April. The construction work, valued at approximately US$150 million, is well under way and the circuit is expected to be completed by March next year. Bahrain will be the third race venue on the Formula One calendar, slotting in on April 4 after Australia and Malaysia and before the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring on April 25. The race in Bahrain is billed as the most advanced in Formula One and the work of renowned circuit designer Hermann Tilke. The facility includes a challenging Grand Prix Circuit, which meets the requirements for hosting Formula One cars, providing the Middle East with an international standard venue for all other forms of car and motorcycle racing as well as testing and a range of other motoring activities. The track in Sakhir, some 30 kilometres southwest of the capital, Manama, will accommodate 100,000 spectators and will be operational 365 days a year. In the pursuit of ensuring that the Bahrain Grand Prix will truly be a success, the Bahrain International Circuit has planned an exciting and memorable Formula 1 week which will run from March 30 till April 4, 2004 and include open air concerts, firework displays, official receptions and parties as well as open air cinemas screening the latest motor sport films.


Fittipaldi/Haberfeld team wins Granja Viana 500  This loosely translated article from says that Christian Fittipaldi, Mário Haberfeld, and Charles Fonseca were the winners of the seventh 500 Miles of the Viana Farm in Brazil, a race that ran through dawn today. The 644-lap kart race lasted 10h43min. The Faster team, featuring Leonardo Otero, Ernesto Otero, Antônio Otero, and Dênis Dirani, finished second, followed by the trio of Renato Russo, André Nicastro, and Sérgio Jimenez. Among the international stars, the best finishers were Alessandro Zanardi, Oriol Servia, Jimmy Vasser, and Michel Jourdain Jr, in fourth place. It was Fittipaldi's third victory (the others were in 1998 and 2000). Fittipaldi was happy after the race: "We had a good time. We started to be in 28th place after some problems. From there, our strategy was to risk everything." His team started in 14th. It was a special result for Christian; besides driving, he was also the owner of the winning chassis. The team of Russo/Nicastro/Jimenez placed third. That team had led a great part of the final phase of the race but was penalized for 2 minutes for illegal repairs. "Long races are full of complications, but it was a penalty in the end that lost us the race", lamented Jimenez. Rubens Barrichello and Juan Pablo Montoya didn't have any luck today in the race. Barrichello's team (Barrichello, Filipe Massa, and Tony Kanaan) finished in 13th place, after starting last and taking a 5-minute penalty, due to improper help in the pits. Juan Montoya's team finished 17th after some accidents and throttle problems. Alessandro Zanardi's team placed an incredible fourth. "For me to come back to racing and finish this well, nothing's better. I felt a little hot in the end, but our position was already comfortable", said the Italian, who received the team trophy.

1) Christian Fittipaldi/Charles Fonseca/Mário Haberfeld, 644 laps in 10h43min25s837
2) Leonardo Otero/Ernesto Otero/Antônio Otero/Dênis Dirani, at 46s125
3) Renato Russo/André Nicastro/Sérgio Jimenez, down 1 lap
4) Alessandro Zanardi/Oriol Servia/Jimmy Vasser/Michel Jourdain Jr., down 3 laps
5) Alan Hellmeister/Roberto Moreno/Aluízio Coelho/Julio Reis, down 3 laps


CART CSI: Miami episode Monday  UPDATE  Reminder to set your VCR's for CSI: Miami tomorrow night. October's Grand Prix Americas Presented by was the backdrop for an historic 1-2 finish by Herdez Competition as well as the second win in the career of Mario Dominguez, but behind the scenes and unbeknownst to most Miami race goers, it was also the setting for a high-profile Hollywood murder mystery. That mystery will be solved Monday night by the crack investigation staff of CBS' popular crime drama CSI: Miami as the Champ Car-themed episode airs on CBS at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. The show, which was filmed during the Miami race weekend, involves the murder of a Champ Car crew member and details the investigation process that leads to the solution of the crime. The episode features the American Spirit Team Johansson team prominently as well as the Mi-Jack/Conquest and Rocketsports Racing squads, and will feature some of the high-speed on-track action that took place during Round 16 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.  11/4/03 - The CART episode of CSI: Miami, will air at 10:00 PM EST on Monday November 10, 2003.  Scenes for this episode of CSI: Miami were being filmed trackside Friday September 26, 2003 at The Grand Prix of the Americas.


Audi wins at LeMans again  The Audi R8 celebrated a further great victory to round off the 2003 motorsport season: The Japanese driver Seiji Ara and the Dane Tom Kristensen won the 1000 kilometer race at Le Mans (France), held in tricky conditions, in the Audi Sport Japan Team Goh Audi R8. With their victory, the Japanese Audi customer team secured themselves a grid slot for next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In cold and wet conditions, the "Japanese" Audi R8 was in a class of its own in the 35 car strong field on the Circuit Bugatti. Starting from pole position on the rain soaked circuit, Tom Kristensen immediately took the lead, which he and Ara never surrendered during the entire race. Their lead increased as the track became drier. Team Goh were not only helped by the almost legendary reliability of the Audi R8 and the correct tire choice each time, but also the low fuel consumption of the Audi FSI engine: While the second placed Courage-Peugeot had to stop for fuel after only 34 laps, Tom Kristensen pitted for fuel for the first time after 48 laps and more than 200 kilometres. The Audi R8 only had to pit a total of four times for fuel. Ara/Kristensen finally triumphed after six hours with a comfortable advantage of three laps.

After the Audi factory team’s three successive victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2000, 2001 and 2002 the Audi R8 celebrated a further success at Le Mans. It was the second win in a row for Audi Sport Japan Team Goh in an important long distance race following their victory at the 1000 kilometer race at Spa-Francorchamps at the end of August. The Audi R8 is, and remains the most successful sports prototype of the modern era: Audi customer teams celebrated 10 victories from twelve races in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and in Europe during the 2003 season.

Quotes after the race
Tom Kristensen  "The Audi R8 is an outstanding car. The rain and the cold temperatures made it very difficult to get grip, but Michelin gave us the right tires. The low fuel consumption of the Audi engine allowed us to be conservative with the tire choice. We could stay out longer and watch what the others did. This was the key to success."

Seiji Ara  "I am very happy about this victory because winning at Le Mans means a lot to me. It was a very difficult race due to the weather conditions, but we had a great car. Tom (Kristensen) was a fantastic team mate. Now my next aim is to win the Le Mans 24 Hours."

1 Ara/Kristensen (Audi R8) 208 laps in 5hrs 59m 53.245s
2 Sarrazin/Lagorce/Bourdais (Courage-Peugeot) - 3 laps
3 Lammers/Wallace (Dome-Judd) - 4 laps
4 Rusinov/Eyckmans/Muscioni (Courage-JPX) - 11 laps
5 Davies/Turner (Ferrari) - 13 laps
6 Kox/Sugden (Ferrari) - 14 laps
7 Field/Dayton/Connor (Lola-Judd) - 17 laps
8 Bouchut/Vosse/Dumez (Chrysler) - 18 laps
9 Andrews/Keen/Lavaggi (Lola-Judd) - 18 laps
10 Montermini/Engelhorn/Peter (Ferrari) - 19 laps


Gugelmin wants IRL drivers to demand fixes  From a recent column in Autosport Magazine, Mauricio Gugelmin says a lot of the same things he stated in the recent article on the IRL's flying cars. He also stated exactly what we said, the problem isn't the cars going 225 MPH, the problem in the open wheel cars with no fenders running in close formation. In the article Big Mo adds, "I hope some of the IRL drivers have enough courage to step up and say this is unacceptable.  I know some of my friends (Brazilian) in the IRL are at least thinking about trying to make a move to stop what's going on. There are a few of them looking elsewhere too (hmm....).  But if you want to drive, and it's the only option, and it comes with an enormous check with your name on it, guys will make the decision to go for the money (witness Darren Manning).  That's a very risky choice indeed."   The IRL PR machine puts out reams of information about their close finishes.  Perhaps if they listed all the injuries that close racing has caused (AR1 has all the statistics and is the only publication to publish and maintain them because we recognized this as an issue back in 1996 when the IRL carnage first began.  There's been no letup and in fact, 2003 was their worse year yet!) the close finishes won't be nearly as important. 


British team back to ALMS  Look for the PK Sport Porsche team to be back in ALMS next year running a new RSR Porsche.  Team boss Mike Pickup stated, "It's early days but we are confident that we will be out with one car and I am working on a 2nd car.  Hopefully I will be able to keep Robin Liddell and Alex Caffi, our line-up in the lead car for the final three ALMS race this year."  Meanwhile, a new team is also looking at ALMS.  British American Motorsport is owned by Peter Baron, Leo Hindery and Engineer Tim Munday, all formerly with the Orbit Porsche team.  They will also run a new 911 GT3 RSR and the 24 Hours of LeMans.


Brazilian GP in jeopardy  The Brazilian GP seems to be in jeopardy every year, but this year it may be worse than usual.  A court in Sao Paulo, Brazil has ruled that the Brazilian Grand Prix, scheduled for October 24 next year, cannot be held because it is a money loser and it wastes taxpayers money. Recall that the CART race in Rio was cancelled for a similar reason two years ago.  Judge Joao Andres de Vincenzo, of the 12th district court, ruled that the contract between the city of Sao Paulo and the promoter, International Promotions, be suspended. If work towards the Grand Prix continues, the judge ruled that the promoter would be liable to a fine of $17,000 a day. The Prefecture of Sao Paulo says that it will appeal the decision and since 2004 is an election year, the mayor of Sao Paulo said he will fight the cancellation.

If Sao Paulo doesn't want the race, what about  Rio de Janeiro, could the event be moved to the Jacarepagua track which last hosted the event in 1996?  Not likely.  If you recall we reported that the Jacarepagua circuit will be the site of the athletes' village for the Pan-American Games in 2007. The facilities that will be constructed will be used in bid for the Olympic Games in 2012. The Olympic decision will not be made until July 2005 and Rio is up against Havana, Istanbul, Leipzig, London, New York, Madrid, Moscow and Paris. Rio says it will invest $3.1 Billion in infrastructure if it wins the Olympic bid and another $1.6 billion in sports facilities. Where is it going to get that kind of money when the government is already in such bad shape financially?

The final 18-race F1 calendar for 2004 was already released, with Brazil being the season finale.  We suspect when the FIA meets in December they will remove it from the calendar, or make it provisional, and we could be back to 17 races, 16 if Canada is also nixed.


The road to Indy is crumbling  It's so sad to see some of the short track open wheel racing drivers wear their Road to Indy hats on TV.  It's all a big lie as one foreign driver after another get seats in the IRL, Darren Manning being the latest in a long list.  We hear the dirt trackers are finally realizing they were lied to.  Now comes more bad news - the road to Indy is crumbling.  Winchester Speedway, one of the best-known short tracks will fall silent in 2004 due to falling attendance.  The sounds of stock cars and open wheel race cars have been heard there for almost five decades. The half-mile high-banked Winchester landmark opened as a dirt track in 1917 and was paved in the 1930s.  Owners Charlie Shaw and Jeff Jeffers have decided to suspend operations for 2004 and will re-evaluate opening the track in 2005. Shaw and Jeffers purchased Winchester Speedway in 1997 for $710,000 at an auction conducted by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The track, which had been owned 27 years by Roger and Linda Holdeman, had outstanding debts of $1.2 million.  Since that time Shaw and Jeffers have made a considerable investment in the facility, installing a new catch fence, lowering some of the infield area and constructing a new pit road.   Over the years the track has hosted the American Speed Association, ARCA, Hooters Pro Cup, USAC midgets and sprints, NAMARS midgets, NASCAR All-Pro Division and the Sunoco Super Series.   Frank Funk built the track in 1916 with the first racing taking place the following year. Funk owned the track until 1960. Pete Wales owned it from 1960 to 1970. The Holdemans owned the track from 1970 to 1997.  NASCAR is eroding the roots of Open Wheel Racing, even on the short tack front.  Herald Bulletin


Ferrari to race jet fighters  Eurofighter aircraft and Ferrari F2003-GA will 'take off' together December 11, 2003 from the runways of Grosseto AFB, home of the 4th Fighter Wing of the Italian Air Force.  The world champion Formula 1 car and the fighter jet, built by four European nations (Italy, with Alenia Aeronautica of Finmeccanica, Spain, Germany and Great Britain), will perform acceleration runs on distances between 500 and 1,500 meters.  The red car will be driven by the six times world champion Michael Schumacher, while the cockpit of the Eurofighter will be taken by Maurizio Cheli, Alenia chief test pilot, former Italian Air Force fighter pilot and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut.  Hon. Filippo Berselli, Undersecretary of Defence, and high representatives of ITAF, Alenia and Ferrari will be present during the show.  The day will start with a historical challenge between a Caproni 100 aircraft and an Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 on a 20 kilometer distance inside the airbase.  Ferrari


Audi on pole at LeMans  At the 1000 kilometer race in Le Mans (France), the Audi R8 is again the car to beat. Tom Kristensen secured pole position for himself and team colleague Seiji Ara in the Audi R8, entered by Audi Sport Japan Team Goh. The race doubles as qualification for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2004 and pilot event for the new Le Mans Endurance Series (LMES).

Kristensen was quickest in the first of two 45-minute qualifying sessions held on Saturday. With his time of 1m 27.775s, he beat Jan Lammers in the Dome-Judd by three tenths into second place. The fastest lap set by the five time Le Mans winner was unbeatable in the afternoon’s final qualifying session, the "Japanese" Audi R8 remaining at the head of the 35 car field as a result.

The 1000 kilometer race at Le Mans starts on Sunday at midday and finishes at nightfall after 240 laps or a maximum of six hours at around 6:00 p.m. Unlike the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the race will be held on the 4.180 kilometer long "Circuit Bugatti" and not on the 13.650 kilometer "Circuit des 24 Heures".

Tom Kristensen  "We proved once more that the Audi R8 is the best open-top sportscar. As usual, qualifying on pole for an endurance race means only prestige. But I am very pleased how efficiently the team has worked. Seiji (Ara) and I are very happy with the car for the race. It is very cold. In qualifying we used the soft ‘night’ tires from the 24-hour race, which will also be our race tyres. Of course we are the favorites. But there are so many cars on this narrow track that it will be a hard race." Seiji Ara  "It’s great being able to work together with Tom Kristensen. He has got so much experience in sports cars. I hope we can win this race. The track is very narrow and twisty. It is difficult to pass. I will be very careful in the race and do my best."
The starting grid at Le Mans
1 Ara/Kristensen (Audi R8) 1m 27.775s
2 Lammers/Wallace (Dome-Judd) 1m 28.127s
3 Campbell-Walter/Kinch/Coronel (Lister) 1m 29.056s
4 Andrews/Keen/Lavaggi (Lola-Judd) 1m 29.102s
5 Newton/Erdos/Goodwin (MG Lola) 1m 29.533s
6 Sarrazin/Lagorce/Bourdais (Courage-Peugeot) 1m 29.925s
7 Field/Dayton/Connor (Lola-Judd) 1m 29.969s
8 Beretta/Saelens (Panoz) 1m 31.480s
9 Rusinov/Eyckmans/Muscioni (Courage-JPX) 1m 31.879s
10 Goddard/Short/Carway (Reynard) 1m 32.236s


New McLaren nearly ready  McLaren's 2004 Formula One car should make its testing debut before the end of this month, team partners of Mercedes said on Saturday. "If everything goes according to plan, the new car should be driven for the first time in the 48th week (of the year)," Mercedes chief Juergen Hubbert told guests at a Mercedes party in Stuttgart, the German carmakers' home town. "Overall it was a successful year," said Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug. "If we keep improving, we will soon be where we want to be. We are not afraid of anyone, and that goes for Ferrari and Williams." Raikkonen also looked to 2004, saying: "It was a good season, even if it's obviously better when you're at the very top. I can't promise I will be champion next year but that certainly will be my goal."


Tracy is bullish on 2004  Series champion Paul Tracy, who was in Toronto Thursday to show off his trophy, is confident he'll be racing in a revitalized CART series next year.  "I don't have any reason to believe there won't be a championship next year. I was more in doubt coming into this season than the one coming up. I feel there will be a championship and the competition is going to get tougher."  "(Team owner Gerald Forsythe) said, 'Don't worry about it. There's going to be a series with a 16-17 race championship and there will be a full field of teams.' A lot of people couldn't tell me that last year."  Pook confirmed CART is ready to announce its 2004 schedule and television package and teams are prepared to move forward with sponsorship packages. However, they are waiting until the sale of the series is approved before making any official announcements.   CART previously approved 15 venues for next season, including all three Canadian races, but have yet to assign dates. The television package is expected to include CBS and a cable network, with rumors suggesting MTV may be involved in some capacity.


Paul Tracy guests on Late Show with David Letterman  This article says that Paul Tracy finally got to make his return appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. Ten years after first stopping in to the late night talk show, the outspoken Toronto native returned as the champion of the CART series Friday. "The first time I came to the show here . . . was almost ten years ago," Tracy told Letterman. "I said to myself, 'I'm going to (return)'. "Then I won the Indy 500 last year and I didn't get to come on." Letterman quickly responded: "Not everybody thinks you won the Indy 500 last year." "Well I do," Tracy quipped, alluding to the 2002 Indy where Helio Castroneves won in a disputed finish after IRL officials determined Castroneves was barely ahead of Tracy when a yellow flag came out on the second-to-last lap. Later in the show, Letterman embarrassed Tracy when he started listing all of the 34-year-old's driving fines. When asked if he remembered receiving all of them, Tracy replied, "I don't count them all." But Tracy, whose face turned red, shot back. "I was wondering why you've never asked me to come drive for you," he said to Letterman, who is a minority owner in Bobby Rahal's racing team on the CART circuit. Letterman repeatedly called Tracy a "great champion" and congratulated him on winning his first CART title in 13 years. However, he seemed even more impressed when Tracy told him that he had once traveled 193 or 194 miles per hour in his Porsche off the track. "That's mighty impressive," Letterman said. "Well congratulations for that, too."


Massa retains Ferrari role  Despite signing for Sauber for 2004 Felipe Massa will continue to test for Ferrari. The Brazilian is hotly tipped to race for Ferrari after Michael Schumacher retires and has tested for them all year. That role appeared to have come to an end when Massa joined the Swiss outfit. But a Ferrari spokesman commented: "Depending on his needs and commitments with Sauber and our needs, Felipe Massa will occasionally be testing for us in 2004 along side Luca Badoer."


Q&A with Paul Tracy  Paul Tracy was a guest on an ESPN chat session recently and had this to say:

What do you think of safety in open wheel racing, with recent Brack and Renna accidents? Is it just an oval thing? Is the IRL package more dangerous than CART's? What can be done to improve safety?
Paul Tracy: I think the CART package is pretty safe, there's always dangers in racing, but I think the speeds they run at on ovals at 220 mph it's very difficult to have a 100 percent safety record when you're traveling at those speeds. I guess a lot can be done. I think it's definitely more an oval issue.
What is your opinion on Darren Manning having to go to Ganassi and the IRL as there was not enough sponsorship available to pay for a ride for him in CART? Why is a guy like Manning still a 'pay driver'?
Paul Tracy: Why is he a pay driver? I guess because he hasn't won anything yet. He did a good job this year, but he hasn't reached the level to get big money. The offer was there from Toyota and Chip Ganassi to get paid big money in that series. He hasn't been in that situation his whole career to make money, and he felt it was time to make some money. You got to make a living.
With rumors about Dario and other assorted drivers coming into or back to the series, who would you like to race against next season?
Paul Tracy: I think Dario coming back would be good for the series and good for him. I think A.J. Allmendinger would be good for the series, Michael Valiante both coming up from Atlantic, we have new and older drivers possibly coming back, I think the series will be stronger.
Congratulations on the Championship!!! Do you think CART should stick with one engine manufacturer? I think it produced a lot better racing this year.
Paul Tracy: I think for the short term they need to because they have a reliable package, engines which run for 1200 miles without any trouble which made for good racing. I think in the future, in 05, there's going to be a rules change I think they've talked to a lot of manufacturers about involvement in CART. There's a lot of engine makers out there that can't afford to be in F1 and CART would be a viable series for them.
Hi Paul! As a rabid CART enthusiast, I'd like to know when us fans can expect to hear more announcements on the new sponsors and drivers for the upcoming season. Anything you can divulge?
Paul Tracy: All that I can say on our sponsorship, we have a new sponsor for Forsythe Racing, that announcement will be made once we get through our obligations for Player's.
Paul, first off I'd like to congratulate you on a well-deserved championship. Secondly, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the hypocrisy displayed by some of the owners/drivers who left CART for the IRL in chase of the manufacturer money being thrown in their faces. Weren't many of these guys the same ones who despised Tony George and his 'vision'? I guess some people just lack the loyalty and integrity you've displayed in sticking with CART.
Paul Tracy: I have to agree with you, a lot of the owners, some of the owners, that left for the IRL were on the board of directors for CART. I'm sure they weren't making the best decisions for CART when they knew what their future plans were.
From all your years of racing in CART who have been your all time top 3 toughest competitors....? Congrats on the championship !!
Paul Tracy: I would have to say drivers I feared the most that were the hardest to race against were Michael, Zanardi and Montoya.
Any comment on the loss of Players to the future Canadian driver development? Do you wish you still had Players on your fire suit in Australia?
Paul Tracy: Players has made a huge investment over the last forty years in motorsports, it's sad that the government won't allow them to continue. But now it's time for another company to step up and do what Players has done for Canadian motorsports and drivers.


Another open wheeler to NASCAR  Open Wheel driver, Buddy Rice, on Thursday flew to Cleveland, where he was to be fitted inside a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Chevrolet owned by Doug Thorson [#88/#98 Team]. He is slated to test Monday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Craftsman season ends next Friday at the 1.5-mile oval, and Rice may make his NASCAR debut at the recently revamped track with Thorson's regular driver, #88-Matt Crafton [who will drive for Kevin Harvick in 2004], as his teammate. "I've never driven anything this big," said Rice, who lives in Phoenix. "I'm kind of excited about the opportunity. It's a new adventure for me. It's like when I drove Chris Neville's Trans-Am car in 2000. I was real excited about doing that, too." Rice drove this past season in the Indy Racing League for car owner Eddie Cheever Jr., but the team struggled and Cheever chose to replace Rice with Alex Barron for the final three races. Rice and Cheever have since mutually agreed to end their contract, which still had one year and an option remaining. "I'm a free agent," Rice said. Rice has talked to several IRL teams, including one owned by Chip Ganassi. Ganassi, however, filled the team's lone open seat recently by hiring Darren Manning to replace Tony Renna, who was killed last month while testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Arizona Republic


Pedregon to leave Force  12-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force (13-time as a team owner) all but ended the speculation about the future of his longtime teammate, 2003 Funny Car champ Tony Pedregon, during a phone-in conversation on Thursday night's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain: "I don't really know, but I talked with Tony awhile ago and his contract is through Dec. 31. I am going to release him (from his contract) after the banquet -- I think Tony is going to go. I love him to death. I left the door open for him to stay or come back. He has paid his dues with John Force -- he helped me win championships; I helped him win his first. ... So, God Bless him -- we helped him -- he has always helped us. I think he is going to be a tough competitor. I think he is going to take his own deal." --Force on longtime teammate and 2003 champ Tony Pedregon


Ford heads approved  NASCAR has approved new engine cylinder heads for Fords for the 2004 season, giving the car builder its first major motor adjustment in a decade. The technology has changed over the years, and now it's more like they're letting Ford catch up in certain areas where they were restricted," said Ford team owner Len Wood. The change should increase Ford's horsepower potential significantly.  Greensville News


Earnhardt Jr. quotes on Wind Tunnel  Here are select quotes from Thursday's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED Channel. NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., spoke with Dave about everything from superstitions to safety.  More.....


Granja Viana 500  This weekend near Sao Paolo, Brazil it is the Granja Viana 500 mile -12 hour kart race featuring F1, IRL and CART drivers. Rubens Barichello’s team has won 4 times in the past, but is being challenged this year by a strong CART team of Alex Zanardi, Jimmie Vasser, Oriol Servia and Michel Jourdain. Rubens co-drivers are Tony Kanaan, Felippe Massa, and Marco Andretti. Check out these links. Program | Track Photo Entry List


Ferrari hires Renault aero guy  Ferrari has appointing former Renault Sport employee John Iley as its head of aerodynamics.  Iley worked in a similar role at Renault under technical director Mike Gascoyne -- who has also left the French firm to head up Toyota's technical side. 
 Ferrari has created a new role for Iley, who worked at Jordan before moving to Renault. He will now report to Rory Byrne, Ferrari's chief designer.


Rosberg Jr. nips Piquet Jr. in F3000 test  This Autosport article says, Today's (Friday) final day of Formula 3000 testing at Jerez in Spain pitted two sons of famous fathers against one another, and Nico Rosberg outpaced Nelson Piquet Jr to set the fastest time of the day.  Driving for the Coloni squad, Keke's son Nico lapped in 1m31.720s, over a second clear of Piquet Jr's best effort of 1m32.943s for Arden.   "It's positive for the category that Nelson has tested with us," said Arden boss Christian Horner. "He put in respectable times based on a limited number of laps. He did two days less than Rosberg and clearly has a considerable amount of speed."
Formula 3000 Jerez test times (unofficial)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Nico Rosberg, Coloni, 1m31.720s (3 days of testing)
2 Nelson Piquet Jr, Arden, 1m32.943s (Only 1 day of testing)
3 Toshihiro Kaneishi, Ma-Con, 1m33.288s
4 Raffaele Giammaria, Durango, 1m33.328s
5 Tony Schmidt, Ma-Con, 1m33.348s
6 James Rossiter, Arden, 1m34.367s
7 Norbert Siedler, Coloni, 1m33.490s
8 Yannick Schroeder, Durango, 1m33.930s


Melbourne doctors criticized  This article says that the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria has ruled that two doctors involved in the 2001 Australian Grand Prix incident engaged in unprofessional conduct. A total of five doctors were investigated but three, all from the Alfred Hospital, were cleared of charges. But the Chief Medical Officer of the Grand Prix Dr. David Vissenga and his deputy Dr. Paul Temme were both criticized. The Alfred Hospital has provided the medical services for the event since it began in 1996. The controversy surrounding the accident in 2001 arose because the time and location of Beveridge's death were changed so that the death was recorded as having occurred at Alfred Hospital and not in Albert Park. This was highlighted by the coroner's report, which stated that "it is not appropriate that medical records be altered to show a different time of death to that which is regarded as a true and accurate time. In the future, once a treating clinician or any other medical practitioner makes an assessment that a person is deceased, whether at or on the track or elsewhere at the Albert Park circuit, the matter should be reported to the Coroner as soon as possible." Following this report and a letter of complaint from another doctor to the Medical Practitioners Board, the investigation was launched. More....

Industry News

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Bobby Wilson wins Jim Trueman Award  National ICC (125cc Shifter) point champion Bobby Wilson has been named the winner of the first annual Jim Trueman Scholarship Award for the 2003 Snap.on Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow presented by RACER karting series. Wilson, the 22-year-old karting veteran from Dousman, Wis., was awarded with a $25,000 prize to be used towards his 2004 racing program that will include a full-ride on the 18-race Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship with Cape Motorsports of St. Petersburg, Fla.   More....


Schrader belittles Waltrip  Ken Schrader, talking about Michael Waltrip: "The only reason I do that TV show (Inside Winston Cup on the Speed channel) every week is because when I sit by Mikey it makes me feel smarter. That boy's got some real issues. I try to help him figure things out, but he don't always listen real good."


Minor surgery for Kimi  Kimi Raikkonen had a minor operation on his right wrist in a Finnish clinic. The McLaren driver  had a small problem with his wrist for a few years following a light car accident. This annoyance was getting in the way of the Finn, who decided to go for an operation in order to feel 100% for next season. Kimi's doctors advised him to take a month of rest so it is unlikely that the Finn will take part in the testing session at the end of November in Valencia. It will all depend on how quick his wrist will heal.

Industry News

Ford to spend more money on performance vehicles  As a direct tie into it's racing heritage, this Autoweek article talks about Ford's plans for more performance vehicles.  One is a supercharged model putting out 600 HP.  Turbocharging and Supercharged cars will rule the road.


Roush says Toyota bad for NASCAR  In this USA Today article, longtime respected team owner Jack Roush says, "When we're faced with the prospect of having somebody come into our world, and strip our economy of its essence, and go convey that for interests that are abroad, then we're not doing the right things for our country," Roush says. "If we're forced, based on the fact that we can't be competitive or that their consumers won't buy as many things from our manufacturers and our workers as we buy from theirs, well, then there's a train wreck coming."

From a racing standpoint, Roush worries that Toyota will spend so much money on its trucks series teams that Ford, and Roush's Ford-backed truck teams, will have to abandon the series. Roush uses the trucks, which essentially are Winston Cup cars with different bodies, to develop young drivers. "We're sitting with Ford right now trying to decide if we're going to race in the trucks series next year," Roush says.

In response, Toyota vice president of motor sports Jim Aust issued a statement outlining Toyota's commitment to "creating new jobs and economic benefit" in North America.

"Jack Roush is a respected and formidable NASCAR competitor, but it appears he has been misinformed about Toyota's positive business impact in the U.S. and our approach to the Craftsman Truck Series," Aust said.

Aust said approximately two out of every three Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold in North America are built here.

As for racing, Aust said, "Toyota's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series program won't lavish individual factory teams with big dollar contracts."


CART lives or dies on December 18th  The future of the Championship Auto Racing Teams series should be decided on Dec. 18, the group's president and chief executive officer said Thursday.  Chris Pook said the proxy statement from the Securities and Exchange Commission on the potential sale of the company is due at the sanctioning body's Indianapolis office today. If wording issues are resolved, as Pook expects, CART will call for a vote by shareholders next month, he said.  The interested buyer is a group known as the Open Wheel Racing Series LLC, owned by race team owners Paul Gentilozzi, Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe. They have offered to buy the company at 56 cents a share.  Pook, who is not part of the new group, said he expects the shareholders to approve the sale, in part because there is no other offer. In its third-quarter report, CART said that if this proposal fails for any reason, officials "will be required immediately to cease our operations, wind up our affairs and seek to liquidate our remaining assets."  CART, in business since 1979, has never faced extinction.  "The alternative for the shareholders is not very good," Pook said Thursday by phone from California. "At the end of the day, unless they want to throw their money down the drain, they'll vote for it."  Pook said CART's 2004 schedule and television package are due to be released in the next two weeks. The schedule will be 16 or 17 races, he said. The TV package includes events shown on CBS and a cable network that has not been announced. There are sponsors and teams ready to commit to the series, Pook said, but most are waiting for the sale to become final.  "That's why we need to get this sale behind us," he said. "We're in a mode where people are telling us they want to be with us, but they want to see the sale approved first, which is fair enough."  Indy Star


Tracy returns to Canada  2003 Champ Car Champion Paul Tracy brings the Vanderbilt Cup to his hometown of Toronto for the first time since clinching his first championship in Surfers Paradise, Australia on October 26. Photo Credit: CNW


Mercedes drivers head to Germany  Team McLaren Mercedes drivers David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen, Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa will be in Germany this coming Saturday for the traditional 'Stars and Cars' event, organized by Mercedes-Benz.  Held in Stuttgart at the Stuttgart-Unterturkheim plant, the event that is held for employees and friends of DaimlerChrysler, will encompass many activities including demonstration runs of past and present racing cars as well as a pit stop competition between the Team McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 crew and the Mercedes-Benz DTM team.   The new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren sports car, which was launched at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show, will also be taking part in demonstration runs, and there will interviews during the day with the Formula 1, Formula 3 and DTM drivers and opportunities for autographs. Entrance is free and the event begins at 09:00am on Saturday, November 8.


First Kart NA team performs well in CART Stars finale  The First Kart North America Race Team performed well, coming home with three podium finishes this past weekend at the CART Stars of Tomorrow season finale that was held in Beaumont, CA. Originally scheduled during the Champ Car season finale at California Speedway, the race was moved 30 minutes north due to the raging forest fires in the Southern California area. The beautiful Moran Raceway hosted the event that featured East and West coast drivers battling head to head for their respective national championships. First Kart pilots were in attendance to win and did not disappoint.

First Kart factory pilot Bobby Wilson of Dousman, WI entered the final event with one thing on his mind, the Championship. Even though he had all but wrapped up the title, he was not out of the woods yet as there was only one driver that could catch him, Jason Bowles. Wilson had done his math and knew that if Bowels did not win the event then there was no chance of him losing the title race, but if he did, Wilson would have to finish in the top 13. Still determined, Wilson was looking for the feature win to add to an already impressive array of titles in the 2003 season. Clearly the hottest North American karter, Wilson set out to achieve his goal and did so in fine form. After struggling during practice, Bobby and his crew refocused themselves and came up with a solid qualifying effort that would slot the 22-year-old close to the front of the grid. Bobby worked his way through the heat races to start on the front row along veteran karter Darren Elliot.

“I was going to enter the race with caution knowing that I needed to finish to secure the championship” explained Wilson. “But when I came around on the first lap and saw that Jason (Bowles) was out of the race I had to go for the win.” Wilson and Elliot went toe to toe for the entire feature event as they pushed hard every lap, increasing their lead on the rest of the field. These two drivers put on a show and in the end it was Elliot taking home the race win two tenths of a second ahead of Wilson, who wrapped up the headline ICC championship.

Usual First Kart tuner Trevor Daly of Brampton, ON joined Wilson on the podium as he drove to an exciting win in the Rotax division. In only his 4th race of 2003 Daly was fast right out of the box turning quick times that were competitive with the front runners. A late race pass on the eventual runner-up this young gun secured his first national win in 2003. “This is a great accomplishment for me” stated an ecstatic Daly. “I can’t thank the First Kart team enough; they have done so much for me over the year.”

Previous Stars of Tomorrow race winner and championship contender Nelson Mason came home with a strong 3rd place finish. Mason ran a smart race but could not keep pace with eventual winner and class champion Kevin LaCroix and runner up Kyle Rahal. “We had some trouble earlier in the weekend” stated Mason. “I thought we would have everything sorted out by the final but it just did not come together the way we had hoped.”

Other First Kart drivers that put in strong runs were Illinois resident and gearbox rookie Darin Marcus and Ontario resident Marco Di Leo. Both Marcus and Di Leo have shown the speed needed to perform well at the national level but have not found the racing luck. Both drivers will look to rebound next week and be in the hunt for the win at the SuperKarts! USA SuperNationals that are being held in Las Vegas, NV.

In other driver news, First Kart pilot Bobby Wilson was awarded the Jim Trueman Award. The award is given to a driver that shows the necessary talent to be an aspiring open wheel racer. A $25,000 cheque will go to Wilson that will help him advance his career and move up the motorsports ladder.


***Fan Feedback***On IRL's flying cars  Dear AR1, The discussion of driver safety has taken the car design arguments in a fortunate direction. Now, there is some momentum toward slowing the cars and reducing downforce, although the calls are certainly not universal. I say, challenge the chassis manufacturers with specs for a totally new design, with full underbody tunnels but no wings. This keeps the tech interest intact, takes away the most fragile ( especially on race day ) part of the car, and limits the ridiculously high and, as we have seen, tenuous downforce of the wings. It also gives us the opportunity to improve the racing on both ovals and road courses. The IRL certainly has close racing, and it is another argument for another day about their engines. But oval passing would be safer and driver talent would become more of a factor than aero setup. F1 and CART need more passing. The new cars would provide longer braking zones, less damage from minor bumps ( no wings to snap ), and "aero push" would be all but eliminated. Another point that no one has had the nerve to mention. The cars should be beautiful! They are not, not even F1. Without wings, the nose, sidepods and tail can be a unified design. A theme. Possibly even elegant. A beautiful car, safer, that promotes better racing. We are closing in on the concepts. Let's not let the racing rule makers off the hook. Mike Fagan  Another writes, Hey, anyone ever see a Sprint Car race? They are open wheel and run in serious packs too. I don't think I have watched many races when a car does not get airborne and flip numerous times. However, they are built a little differently. They also are not going quite as fast and don't tend to fly into the stands (but do on occasion and its not pretty). It really should be no surprise that this is happening in the IRL. I guess that TG's concept does provide a strong tie to grass roots American open wheel oval racing after all; but not the one I think he intended. One of my big questions is that, yes, Champ Cars were going much faster in prior years (still do on the same track) and we never saw whole cars getting airborne like this. At least as far as I can recall. Except of course with wheel to wheel contact. That is just something inherent to open wheel racing. If you change it, then it's no longer open wheel racing. That's part of the character really. Let's be honest. Open wheel racing is more challenging because the cars are faster and open wheels make for much less room for error and therefore require much more skill to drive. You can't bounce off other cars or the wall (unless you are AJ Foyt or Al Unser) and keep on going. That's what makes an open wheel driver so elite in skill. So the wheel to wheel does not concern me as much because its something that has always been there and is an occasional issue, and an understood and accepted risk on the part of all participating parties. However, for the sake of the fans in the stand, if it could be solved without compromising the character of open wheel racing, then of course, it should be done without hesitation. I am no aerodynamicist. But it seems to me that the IRL cars are much more prone to get airborne on their own. I cannot ever recall a Champ Car getting airborne on its own, without first hitting a wall or something else (ala Jim Crawford, Rich Vogler...etc). That's just my perspective of course. Scott Morris


NASCAR expansion plans  This Florida Ledger article talks about NASCAR's expansion plans out of the deep south to other big markets in the USA.  It also confirms that ISC is solidly in bed with the IRL - Jim France says ISC is working to promote other forms of racing such as the Indy Racing League (IRL) and sports car racing while NASCAR is trying to upgrade the public perception of the Busch and truck series.  The thought is that as Winston Cup events leave, other forms of the sport could move in and help keep the tracks financially solvent.  France says he does not believe promoting other types of racing will hurt Winston Cup crowds.  "I don't think so," he said. "Whether it's Winston Cup, IRL, sports cars, at some point, a race fan is a race fan. And I think you have a market out there for fans of other forms of racing.  "That's why we're trying to build up road racing, the Rolex series," France continued. "I think there's a group of people out there who enjoy that.  "And that gives you another event to help utilize your facility," France added.


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