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DATE

News (chronologically)

12/14/03

Spain voted best GP  Spain has won the 2003 Best Grand Prix prize from Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Management group for the organization of the 2003 Spanish Grand Prix on May 4, 2003. The special FOM (Formula One Management) award for the best-organized Grand Prix of 2003 was won by the promoters of the Spanish Grand Prix held on the International Circuit de Catalunya, at Montmelo near Barcelona. Bernie Ecclestone presented the award to Sebastian Salvado, President of the RACC (Royal Automobile Club Catalunya) at the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) Gala Prize-Giving ceremony held in Monaco on Friday December 12, 2003. The trophy was awarded to the organizers of the Spanish Grand Prix for the great collective effort that went into months of preparation for the staging of the fifth round of the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship. Upon receipt of the prize, Sebastian Salvado said: “I am very happy and proud to have been given this outstanding award for our country. It helps us underline and showcase that the team from the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo near Barcelona has been able to organize the Spanish Grand Prix with high quality under demanding conditions, and plenty of pressure. The entire team had to work very efficiently, and very effectively. They simply gave their best and achieved our goal to become the best organized Grand Prix." The award is also great news for Frenchman Philippe Gurdjian who has now received this prestigious award for the fourth time. Since 2001, he has been an adviser for the organizers of the Spanish Grand Prix. In 1991, Gurdjian received the FOCA (Formula One Constructors’ Association) Trophy for the first French Grand Prix at Nevers-Magny-Cours, (France), and again the following year. Years later, in 1999 Gurdjian traveled to Malaysia to oversee organization for the debut Malaysian Grand Prix, which also won the award that year. With awards for the French Grand Prix in 1991 and 1992; the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999; and for the Spanish Grand Prix in 2003, Philippe Gurdjian has achieved an extraordinary string of successes - an unparalleled achievement in the highly competitive world of Formula One.

12/14/03

BAR Honda team completes 5-day test  Lucky Strike BAR Honda conducted a five day test in Jerez this week, using its full line-up of race and test drivers, as well as providing F3000 Champion, Björn Wirdheim, the opportunity of testing the BAR Honda 005. The team had two cars in action for the first four days, the ’04 Concept car, and the BAR Honda 005, and just one car on the final day.  More....

12/14/03

CART Champ Cars, the next generation  2nd UPDATE Another reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, As I have stated before, I held shares in CART.  Myself and other shareholders feel screwed again.  I took my loses and I'm over it. We can't let the IRL win this thing with those butt ugly cars! The pictures you are showing today of the Superfund World Series by Nissan are beautiful cars, but.....CART still needs to be different but not less than second tier. The chassis pictured with a 1.8 liter turbo engine in my opinion is the way to go. Lots of new cars have small displacement turbo engines. As far as looks, there is no better looking race car than a Champ Car. They are long, low, wide and very sleek ( No big airbox ). Being wide they're hard to pass on a street circuit, that's a given. It's those Mickey Mouse little street courses that are the problem, Houston, Denver, Miami.  There are many countries with fantastic race tracks with no major race, like the one from the Czech Republic. It is tough to pass on any street circuit, but we all know it has and can be done, it has for years. Our latest champion is one who has done it many many times. Lets get a new car, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Kelly O'Connor, Altoona, Iowa  Dear Kelly, Yes, no one ever said the current Champ Cars don't look good, they do, but glad to see you agree the proposed cars are beautiful and over 200 pounds lighter, a key element.   Adding a sleek looking airbox adds great space for sponsor decals - very visible area.  Sponsors are vital to any race team. The Superfund car is a ground effects car, but we would make them flat bottom to encourage tail out on exit driving. On a ground effects car, if you get the car sideways you lose downforce, hence the drivers drive as if on rails.  As for the 1.8 L turbo V8 vs. the 3.0 L normally aspirated V10 we proposed - we had been on the fence for quite awhile as to which engine would be better for CART.  Both engines would be excellent choices.  However, three things turned us to favor the V10 - 1) the sound.  Sitting in the grandstands at Monza this past May watching the Ferrari F1 team test we experienced something we had never experienced before.  Having been around race cars for 40 years, listening to that V10 sound reverberate in the grandstands was an eye opener.  It was addicting, intoxicating.  A muffled turbo V8 would sound good, but not THAT good.  2) V8's are everywhere in USA motorsports.  They are so common they are now blasé.  North America, CART's primary market has never had a screaming V10 race series.  It would be sexy, something new, something invigorating, something people would talk about, yet low-tech and low cost.  3) A normally aspirated engine would have better throttle response and allow a driver to control a car with the throttle to allow for tail out on exit driving, something we have not seen in years.  Of course, in the end, the drivers still must be the heroes, not the cars. Mark C.   12/14/03 - A reader responds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I think you are onto something.  I was reviewing your photos of these cars from the Austria A1 Ring and from the EuroSpeedway and I agree, not only do they look great, the fact that they are the same size as a F1 car makes them a good choice for the next generation Champ Car. I had no idea a Champ Car weighed so much compared to a F1 car!  God help us. Thanks for publishing the photos of these cars. I like the streamlined engine air scoop.  It's not too bulky like the hideous IRL cars and it adds extra room for sponsor decals over the current cars.  Here in the USA the Superfund World Series gets very little coverage and I was not aware of the specifications of these cars.  Samuel Jefferies, San Diego, CA.  Dear Samuel, Stay tuned, we have more photos coming of these cars from other 2003 races.  Keep an eye on our home page.  Mark C.  12/13/03 - We recently published an article called CART Champ Cars, the next generation.  In that article we suggested CART adopt a spec chassis, the size of a F1 car.  Here is another alternative CART should consider.  The photos below, taken by Guenter Reinhold, are from this year's Nissan Superfund World Series.  The cars, made by Dallara, are extremely close in size to F1 cars (according to their website, it's the same size as a F1 car), even down to the size of the wheels and tires (slicks instead of grooved tires though).  The cars are well proportioned (i.e. they look good, even down to the streamlined engine air intake) are much lighter than CART's Sherman Tanks (oops we mean Champ Cars) and they are smaller than a Champ Car to allow for better racing on the tight street circuits. They weigh 1,433 pounds with the driver, whereas a Champ Car is about 1,700 pounds with the driver.  1,433 pounds would represent a reasonable weight reduction.  A F1 car weighs much less, at 1,100 pounds meaning that with the driver the current Champ Car is 600 pounds heavier than an F1 car (54% more) - i.e. pathetic.  No wonder they look like slow pigs compared to a F1 car. The Dallara Nissan cars have a 118 inch long wheelbase, identical to a F1 car, but 7 inches shorter than a Champ Car.  They currently run normally aspirated Nissan V6's making over 400 HP, but if they drop an economical 3.0 Liter V10 in the back, CART would have themselves quite a race car.  We are willing to bet the new FIA F2 series will feature cars very close in size to these, which, as we stated, are the size of an F1 car right down to the wheels and tires   With a 750 HP engine CART would have themselves one hell of a fast and nimble road and street racing car that would blow the current overweight beasts away.  Oh, did we mention, the cost to run a full season with these cars is less than it costs to field a Toyota Atlantic car for a season!  Costs are capped at 490,000 Euro per year, or about $600,000.  Of course the rules are written very tight, and the car, although fairly sophisticated, is inexpensive because it's 100% spec.  We are not suggesting a Champ Car could be run for $1 million per year, but we do feel $2 million to $3 million is very doable.

12/14/03

Montezemolo considers retirement  Ferrari President Luca Montezemolo could consider retirement in the near future, after 30 years of service. "Maybe it is time to stop," he told The Times. "Maybe it is time to retire. Maybe it is time to do something else. I am thinking deeply about it more and more. There are so many things..."

12/13/03

Paul Tracy, A.J. Allmendinger Earn First-Team All-American Honors  Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion Paul Tracy and CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama titlist A.J. Allmendinger each wrapped their hands around their respective series titles over a month ago, but the accolades continue to roll in for two of the finest drivers in open-wheel racing.

Tracy and Allmendinger were recognized for their championship campaigns by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association Saturday as it announced balloting results for its prestigious Auto Racing All-American Team, naming both drivers as first-team All Americans. Tracy earned the third first-team award of his career after winning the Champ Car World Series title in 2003, sharing the first-team award in the open-wheel category this year with former CART champion Gil de Ferran and former CART Indy Lights champion Scott Dixon. Allmendinger earns his initial first-team honor this year after claiming the Atlantic title in his rookie season, joining Infiniti Pro Series champion Mark Taylor on the first team.

Both drivers used seven-victory seasons to win their respective divisions, Tracy leading his Player’s/Forsythe Racing squad to the title with seven victories and six poles while Allmendinger carried the first-year RuSPORT team to the Atlantic championship with seven wins just one year after earning the Barber Dodge Pro Series title.

FIRST TEAM
OPEN WHEEL: Gil de Ferran, Scott Dixon & Paul Tracy (tie)
STOCK CAR: Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth
ROAD RACING: Scott Pruett, Ron Fellows
DRAG RACING: Larry Dixon, Tony Pedregon
SHORT TRACK: J.J. Yeley, Steve Kinser
TOURING SERIES: Brian Vickers, Frank Kimmel
AT LARGE: A.J. Allmendinger, Mark Taylor

SECOND TEAM
OPEN WHEEL: Sam Hornish
STOCK CAR: Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr
ROAD RACING: Frank Biela, Terry Borcheller
DRAG RACING: Greg Anderson, Kenny Bernstein
SHORT TRACK: Danny Lasoski, Tracy Hines
TOURING SERIES: Scott Lynch, Andy Santerre
AT LARGE: Frank Manzo, David Higgins

HONORABLE MENTION
(At least 5% of the vote)
OPEN WHEEL: Sébastien Bourdais
STOCK CAR: Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick
ROAD RACING: Tommy Riggins, Marco Werner
DRAG RACING: Doug Kalitta, Clay Millican
SHORT TRACK: Chad Kemenah
TOURING SERIES: Kevin Cywinski, Shane Huffman
AT LARGE: Scott Taylor, Cort Wagner

The AARWBA Auto Racing All-America Team will be honored Jan. 10 at the 34th annual AARWBA banquet at the Sheraton Suites in Pomona, Calif. First-team members will receive the distinctive Horsepower Award, and the driver who received the most votes -- not revealed until the banquet -- receives the Jerry Titus Award emblematic of the Driver of the Year. For banquet information, contact AARWBA President Dusty Brandel, 818-842-7005 or aarwba@compuserve.com

12/13/03

A little Kim Green secret  Here's a story we bet you never heard, and Kim Green never thought we would either.  Remember the Raynor/Cosby CART Team?  Kim Green was on that team. Kim, being from Australia, wasn't a U.S. citizen, and didn't have his papers up-to-date for the Vancouver race that year.  After the race, when the team was at the airport returning back home to the USA, customs wouldn't let Kim back in the country!   Kim ended up taking a flight to Toronto and then to Windsor (which is just across the river from Detroit).  An engineer from the team, the late Chuck Matthews, drove over there and smuggled Kim across the border (via the Ambassador Bridge that connects Windsor, Canada and Detroit) in the trunk of his car!!  Making it more difficult was the fact that it happened after one of the team's long trips involving a couple of races, and Kim had an enormous amount of luggage. They managed to fit both Kim and the luggage in the trunk.  They didn't want the border inspectors to wonder why Chuck had all that luggage and possibly go through it!  People smuggling is a big business in Windsor, and they put the smugglers away for a long time when they're caught trying to sneak illegal aliens across the border!   But after a short conversation with the border guard, Chuck and Kim were successful (or perhaps crazy) and Kim got on a plane in Detroit, and went back to Indianapolis. The ironic part was, when Kim got back home, his papers were there waiting for him!  He just didn't know it. Chuck also worked at G.M. at the time, he was the manager of the Vehicle Ride Lab at the G.M. Proving Grounds.   Kim made the funniest comment to Chuck when he let him out of the trunk. He told Chuck that G.M. needs to work on the quality of the ride in the trunk of their cars!!!  We could imagine Chuck filling out one of G.M.'s evaluations and saying that!

12/13/03

CART is still on hold, Pook sent packing  This IndyStar.com article says that Championship Auto Racing Teams officials, minus president and CEO Chris Pook, met again Friday at the company's local headquarters without a resolution to the proposed sale of the company's assets. Pook has cleared out his office and returned to his home in California. He has offered to stay on as a consultant if the sale is approved. Paul Gentilozzi, one of three team owners in the Open Wheel Racing Series group whose proposal is under consideration, said this week that an interim CEO will be named once new ownership is in place. The complex proposal involves CART filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization and the OWRS group then buying the assets necessary to keep the series going. Chief operating officer David Clare, chief financial officer Tom Carter and company attorneys still were studying the proposal Friday. Clare said he could not comment on when a recommendation might be made to the board of directors, who will vote to either accept the OWRS offer or liquidate the company.

12/13/03

Minardi announces Bruni  European Minardi Cosworth is pleased to announce that it has today signed Italian Gianmaria “Gimmi” Bruni as one of its 2004 race drivers. The 22-year-old Roman established a very positive relationship with the Faenza squad in 2003, driving a third European Minardi chassis in Friday test sessions during the second half of the F1 season.

“We’ve obviously had the benefit of observing Gimmi at close quarters this past season because of his testing role with European Minardi, and we’re extremely pleased to have been able to sign him as a race driver for the 2004 season,” comments Team Principal, Paul Stoddart. “We’ve chosen him because we think he has fantastic natural ability behind the wheel of a race car and is a fitting successor to previous European Minardi drivers, such as Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Justin Wilson. It’s clear Gimmi will be following in some illustrious footsteps, but we are absolutely confident he is a new Formula One star in the making.”

Delighted at having made the all-important step from Formula One tester to full-time race driver in less than a year, Bruni says, “I’m just so happy. From when I was a small boy, I wanted only to be a Formula One driver. I’m one of the lucky ones, because that dream has now come true. My clear goal will be to improve with the team this coming season. This is only the first step, however, as I will just be one of 20 drivers on the grid at the beginning. My aim is to move forward and establish myself in F1, like other Minardi drivers have done in the past. I want to thank Paul Stoddart and the European Minardi team very much. They gave me a good chance this past summer, and it has all come together very quickly since then.”  Further information concerning European Minardi’s 2004 driver line-up will be announced in the very near future. Press release European Minardi

12/13/03

Megenbier Makes Switch to MRP/Birel   With the 2004 racing season quickly approaching, 12-year-old karting star and seventh-grader at Stevenson School in Chicago’s Melrose Park suburb, Timmy Megenbier will be making the switch to a Birel chassis for his attack on the WKA and CART Stars of Tomorrow racing series. Megenbier will be working closely with the MRP Motorsport/Birel team and top tuner, Tim Lobaugh. Lobaugh has guided numerous drivers to championship victories in the past few seasons.

“We are looking for young drivers with good ability and an eagerness to win,” said Garry Lobaugh, owner of MRP Motorsport. ”Timmy is that such individual and has a strong parental commitment as well. He is a kid who is ready to help where he can and we are looking forward to helping his effort to compete for National Championships.”

Though switching to a new team for the 2004 season, Megenbier is no rookie as this will be his seventh season in competitive karting and he is a WKA National and Grand National Champion and most recently finished 12th out of 60 drivers at the SKUSA (Superkarts! USA) SuperNationals in Las Vegas, NV. Megenbier will continue with the 80cc Jr. shifterkart program and compete in the World Karting Association’s (WKA) Manufacturers Cup Championship. The young pilot will also enter the CART Stars of Tomorrow series to compete in JICA (Junior Intercontinental ‘A’), a class designed as a stepping-stone to direct drive karting that is most popular in the European karting community.

“I am really looking forward to racing on a Birel for next season,” said Megenbier. “I will be doing whatever I can to stay out front this year for all of my sponsors, on and off the track. I am very happy to be working with MRP and Tim. They have been so successful and I hope to have the same success in 2004.”

Megenbier will utilize Birel’s Q31 chassis with Woltjer engines in 2004 with support from MRP Motorsport, importer for the World Championship chassis manufacturer. In addition to MRP, Megenbier will also retain his primary sponsor from 2003, Morse Caliper as well as EMCO Gear, Rahal Foods, Bell Helmets, DeCal Works and Racing Optics.

12/13/03

NASCAR is king, but how?   This Mansfield Ohio newspaper article says, Anyone who wants to take the temperature of motor sports in America needs only look at Mansfield. CART announces Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is no longer a part of its future, and it is met with a collective yawn in north central Ohio. NASCAR says it's bringing the Craftsman Truck Series to Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, and it is hailed as a triumph. What's wrong with this picture? On its deathbed, CART still managed to attract more than 40,000 paying customers to the area. The trucks will bring 20,000. You do the math. It's sad how perception becomes reality. A minor-league series stamped with a NASCAR label has become more marketable than the best American open-wheel racing? What in the name of Mario Andretti happened?  More....

12/13/03

Jerez test times - Friday  

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m27.242s 117
2 Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes M 1m27.997s 87*
3 Christian Klien Jaguar M 1m29.127s 116
4 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m29.337s 100
5 Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m30.508s 100

12/13/03

Sato to visit China  Following in the footsteps of his teammate, Jenson Button, Lucky Strike BAR Honda’s Takuma Sato is set to tour China next week as part of a promotional visit aimed at building the Brackley-based team’s profile in the country, prior to the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix on 26 September 2004. He will be accompanied by BAR New Business Director, Andrew Couper, who will be meeting with business leaders and politicians in the region throughout the trip.

Takuma will arrive in Beijing on Tuesday, 16 December, and will embark on a day of publicity activities, including a webchat for Chinese F1 fans via BAR team partner SINA, one of the leading online media information service providers for China and global Chinese communities. The afternoon will finish with a photo shoot at some of Beijing’s historical landmarks.

Following an evening in the company of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, in which BAR’s aim is to forge closer business links, Takuma will fly on to Shanghai, where an action-packed day in Shanghai is planned. Takuma will have lunch with the Japanese Consulate before carrying out a press conference at the Shanghai Automobile Race and Utility Vehicle Exhibition, where he will appear alongside the BAR Honda 005. He will then be taken on a trip along the infamous Bund, where ancient Shanghai meets high-tech architecture, and a night-time tour of Shanghai before flying back to the UK.

Takuma Sato commented: “Even though China is very close geographically to my home country, it is a place I have never been, and for that reason alone I am very excited to be visiting Beijing and Shanghai next week. I spoke to Jenson after he visited China following the Japanese Grand Prix and it sounds like the race next year is going to be very special. I think it’s important for all the teams to establish close relationships with important people in China before the race so that everyone works well together at the Grand Prix next year.” BAR Honda

12/13/03

Revised 2004 F1 calendar  

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

12/12/03

Patrick Long lands ALMS ride  Rising young American road racing star Patrick Long will race full-time in the American Le Mans Series in 2004 with The Racers Group team as New Century Mortgage steps up as a major sponsor for the California-based sports car racing organization. The Racers Group also announced that team owner Kevin Buckler, a driver in the American Le Mans Series since the inception of the series and a multi-time GT class race winner, will step out of the driver’s seat to manage the team on a full-time basis.

Cort Wagner of Pacific Palisades, Calif., the inaugural GT class driving champion of the American Le Mans Series in 1999, will co-drive with Long in the team’s #66 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, creating an All-California team for the ALMS assault. Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, the 22-year-old Long became a Porsche factory driver in 2003 and has been racing in Europe for six years.

The team will also run a second Porsche in New Century Mortgage livery in the American Le Mans Series, with the drivers to be named. “The opportunity that’s facing us this year is incredible, and by combining the talents of all the players involved, we’ll take the team to the next level,” said Buckler. “I can’t say enough about the opportunity that has been given to us by New Century Mortgage and the Porsche factory. I’m looking forward to showing what a properly-funded, professionally-organized effort can do for its sponsor to meet their business objectives through racing.

“I hope our efforts this year will help all of ALMS and especially GT as a platform from which to help other team’s partners meet their goals,” he said. “We will definitely be turning it up a notch.” “New Century is very excited to support The Racers Group for the 2004 ALMS season,” said Pat Flanagan, President of New Century Mortgage, a leading nationwide specialty mortgage banking company. “We are pleased to be associated both with the team and Porsche. Speed, performance and reliability have made TRG and Porsche leaders in sports car racing and are the same ideals that New Century brings to the mortgage community through our FastQual technology.”

Long is being promoted from the Porsche Juniors team, where he spent the 2003 season racing in the Porsche Carrera and Supercup Series. Long excelled in his first year, scoring three wins and two poles in German and UK Carrera Cup races and taking two podium finishes and a pole in the Supercup. He made his American Le Mans Series debut by co-driving with Buckler and Wagner in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the final race of the 2003 season. “When I raced at Petit Le Mans, I was impressed by the level of professionalism that the team displayed and was happy with the progress that we made,” said Long. “There was a certain level of comfort that we were able to establish. I felt like it was very easy to fit in, and all of this makes me feel that the 2004 season won’t be like a blind date.”

12/12/03

Chinese white-out Schumacher  Every day we see more evidence that Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone are losing their fight to continue tobacco advertising in racing.  Bernie signed a deal to race in China probably thinking tobacco advertising was legal, and would stay legal.  Think again.  In downtown Beijing there is a good collection of company billboards that include F1 drivers/cars. The Shell Oil billboard with Schumacher standing tall on it has been there for a couple months. Last week, they whited out “Marlboro” from his chest. So this should get rid of any questions of whether or not China plans to enforce their tobacco advertising ban.  Mark C.

12/12/03

Tom Begley sues Dover, CART, OWRS and Pook   Tom Begley, who was instrumental in bringing the CART St. Petersburg, Florida race to fruition, and who ran the inaugural CART St. Pete race as General Manager last year, but who was later fired and replaced, filed a lawsuit today in Pinellas County, Florida naming Dover Motorsports, CART, OWRS, Chris Pook, and others for damages pertaining to his firing.  We have obtained the full lawsuit that was filed and you can read it by clicking here (PDF format).  Essentially Begley is claiming that CART and Dover misled him and stole the race from him without proper compensation.  The causes for action are listed as Fraud, Unlawful Interference in a Relationship, Civil Theft, and Reformation or Recission.

12/12/03

Villeneuve intrigued by NASCAR, hasn't given up on F1  This Canadian Press article says, Jacques Villeneuve said Friday he has not given up on Formula One, although the Iberville, Que., driver remains bitter after his parting with the British American Racing team.

"You never know what will happen and whether an opportunity will come up," said Villeneuve, sporting newly dyed red hair. "I haven't shut it out so completely that if a good opportunity came up I wouldn't take it." The 1997 world champion found himself without a drive when BAR opted not to renew his contract at the end of the 2003 season.

If no new drive in Formula One comes up, he said he may look at driving in the Le Mans 24-hour race or look at driving in the NASCAR series in the United States.

"Career-wise, in open wheel (racing), I can only see Formula One," he said. "Le Mans would be a fun thing to do but I don't see it as a career thing.

"What could be exciting is NASCAR, but I don't know because I haven't even looked at it. If I went into a paddock now, maybe after an hour I'd just want to escape. I have no idea."


Villeneuve said he has spoken to NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon about the series, but no overtures have been made about joining the stock car circuit.

"It's completely different from anything I've done before and that's a big part of the excitement," he said. "And it's very different from Europe.

"In Europe, when you achieve something, it gives everyone else a reason to try to destroy what you've achieved. In NASCAR, it's the other way around. It's always been important to respect the establishment."

12/12/03

Canadian GP rescue plan comes under attack  Canadian politicians and taxpayer groups are calling on the federal and Quebec governments to rescind money committed to help save the Canadian Grand Prix.   Last month, both levels of government committed $12-million as part of a $29-million deal to keep the Montreal race on the Formula One calendar.  

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone threatened to cancel the race due to Canada's anti-tobacco legislation unless the teams were compensated for running without cigarette logos. As well, organizers were also asked to pony up additional money to have an 18th race added to the schedule.

However, with news that the French Grand Prix may be cancelled for 2004, opponents of the deal say the payout is no longer needed. France was already a tobacco-exempt event and its cancellation leaves the 2004 calendar with 17 races.

"If it was known [that France was on the way out], then the federal government and Quebec governments did not do their homework," Walter Robinson, the director of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation tells the Globe and Mail.   "The situation has changed and we should take the money back and take it back quickly."  Race promoter Normand Legault says the deal allows Canada to "buy back" the tobacco clause from Ecclestone so that F1 could not use that threat in the future with Canadian organizers.  TSN.ca

12/12/03

Bernie Ecclestone - an insight into his motorhome  An exclusive insight behind the scenes in Bernie Ecclestone's centre of operations. The F1 supremo was interviewed at the German Grand Prix for a magazine article, and photographer Mark Sutton was privileged to be on hand. Click here for images

12/12/03

Papis & Pruett to drive Ganassi entry in Grand-Am  After winning championships in the IRL IndyCar Series and CART Champ Car World Series, and contending for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series title, Chip Ganassi Racing will compete in the full Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series in 2004 with two of the world's most respected drivers, Scott Pruett and Max Papis. Chip Ganassi Racing will field a Lexus-powered Riley MK XI Daytona Prototype under the CGR Grand Am banner in the 12-race series that opens January 31 with the 42nd anniversary running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. "We are very, very excited about participating in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and running the entire season in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series," said CGR Grand Am team owner Chip Ganassi. "We look forward to joining the intense competition we have seen in the Daytona Prototypes class, and plan on having a lot of fun in the series." "Obviously, we are happy to have a team of the caliber of Chip Ganassi Racing in the series," said Roger Edmondson, Grand American Road Racing Association President. "Scott Pruett and Max Papis both have a great record in the Rolex 24, and we are excited to have them with us full time. The Daytona Prototypes momentum continues to build. It looks like our year will start with the most competitive Rolex 24 At Daytona in many, many years."

12/12/03

French GP and British GP swap dates  The World Motor Sport Council met in Monaco on 12 December 2003. The following decisions were taken:
The date for the 2004 British Grand Prix will change to July 11th.
The 2004 French GP will take place on July 4th provided that two conditions are met before
December 31st 2003:
i) The FIA receives confirmation that a contract is in place between the Formula One Management and the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile.
ii) All the teams competing in the Championship agree.

12/12/03

Ralf checks out Bahrain circuit  BMW WilliamsF1 Team star Ralf Schumacher is poised to become the first Formula One driver to lap the new Bahrain International Circuit. The 28-year-old German,  winner of six world championship Grands Prix, will try out the recently-laid track next Tuesday, December 16, at the wheel of a BMW X5 road car. Ralf will have to wait, however, for an opportunity to get a feel for the 5.410-kilometre (3.362-mile) circuit from behind the wheel of his Williams BMW FW26. Practice for the 2004 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix begins on April 2 next year, two days before the third race of the Formula One season, the first event of its kind to be staged in the Middle East. Construction of the circuit is continuing around the clock and the first of its three layers of asphalt was completed earlier this month. Ralf Schumacher says: "I think it is brilliant that Formula One is spreading its wings to different parts of the world. Everything I have heard leads me to believe that the Bahrain facilities will be fantastic when they are finished and this trip gives me an opportunity to assess progress for myself. I'm really looking forward to it." Schumacher and the BMW WilliamsF1 Team will give the region an early taste of the sport's sights and sounds during their visit. Once he has completed a few exploratory laps of the track . which is located in Sakhir, to the south of Bahraini capital Manama, Ralf will travel to a nearby kart circuit to participate in a specially-arranged Pit Stop Challenge. Media representatives, circuit officials and team sponsors will go head-to-head in a race to change the wheels and tires on a Williams BMW FW24, the team's 2003 world championship contender. During a typical Grand Prix pit stop, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team pit crew will accomplish this in less than four seconds.

12/12/03

Nextel Plans at NASCAR tracks  Nextel plans $25M in upgrades to cell phone service at tracks. Nextel marketer Michael Robichaud had a fear that a branding dream could become a nightmare. Call volume around big events can overwhelm wireless phone services. And as Nextel replaces Winston next year as NASCAR's title sponsor in what might be the biggest U.S. sponsorship ever, Robichaud imagined trackside fans, amidst Nextel signs, trying to get their cell phones to work. "I can see the cover of sports sections showing that," he says. "And we really don't need that picture." So Nextel, paying more than $700 million over 10 years to title-sponsor a series that drew about 6.7 million fans last year, will spend about $25 million on antennas and switching gear so fans can make calls from tracks next year. Fans, that is, who are Nextel subscribers. And what if racetracks let other phone services make upgrades? Says Robichaud: "We would be, uh, disappointed." USA Today

12/12/03

Denver race not in jeopardy   This Denver Post article says, CART employees had their Christmas party in Indianapolis on Wednesday, celebrating the holidays despite myriad concerns about their future with the beleaguered company that races in the Grand Prix of Denver.

For them, a third race on the Pepsi Center grounds is as questionable as CART's future. Unless a new ownership group takes control of many of CART's races by purchasing assets through Chapter 11 liquidation, CART is likely to close its doors, leaving the Denver race without a sanctioning body and future.

"It's probably 50-50 right now," CART spokesman Eric Mauk said. "The guys are looking at the numbers, trying to do everything to not close the doors."

Paul Gentilozzi states things more optimistically. He said Mauk and approximately 50 other CART employees will keep their jobs through the 2004 racing season. Gentilozzi, one of three known partners in a group trying to obtain CART's assets, emerged from a New York boardroom Wednesday afternoon with good news for those wishing to see the racing circuit continue.

"We're working well together and too hard for this not to go," Gentilozzi said after his Open Wheel Racing Series group (OWRS) met with CART's board of directors. "I think we're OK."

He said a vote on the complex deal is scheduled for Friday, and that Denver race fans should start their engines.  "Nothing is going to change as far as scheduling," Gentilozzi said, refuting rumors than OWRS will create a 2004 schedule by cherry-picking the most developed events. "Champ Car will show up in Denver and race. We are buying the assets in a company, the contracts. There is no renegotiation."

Gentilozzi said CART will be renamed, but the series name likely will remain the Champ Car World Series [Editor's Note: Paul Gentilozzi told us they are acquiring the "CART" name too.].   "It's a different way than where we were going, but this is quicker and cleaner," Gentilozzi said.  Gentilozzi said he expects to present affidavits from team owners to a bankruptcy judge, showing OWRS has commitments to field at least 18 cars.

Gentilozzi said one of the team owners will be Carl Russo, who is moving his race shop from Loveland to the metro area. "He'll have one car, for sure, for a full season, and a second car part or most of the time," Gentilozzi said.

The 2004 Grand Prix of Denver is scheduled for Aug. 13-15. The event, owned by Dover Motorsports, began two years ago with a 12-year contract with the city of Denver, Kroenke Sports Enterprises and CART.

Jerry Miraglia, Dover's executive vice president, said Gentilozzi and company need to move fast.
"How do you promote something when you don't know what it's going to be?" Miraglia said. "Uncertainly is a bad thing as a promoter."  If the acquisition by OWRS fails, the Grand Prix of Denver likely would die, despite plans by the IRL to expand to road and street courses.  With an annual race at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, the IRL said Denver would not be among the venues considered for its expansion.  "We don't feel like we have a particular need to take a risk that we don't feel is appropriate, especially (in a market) where we're already at," IRL vice president Fred Nation said. "The Denver race would not be among the half-dozen venues we'd look at. But that may change."

12/12/03

Tony Stewart rejects 2004 Indy 500   This Indy Star article says, Tony Stewart isn't waiting until the spring to start defusing rumors that he is looking for a car to drive in the Indianapolis 500. Asked recently if he might consider a return to Indy next year should the opportunity arise, the NASCAR star had a two-word response: "No chance." Stewart has made five Indy starts, the last in 2001 when he finished sixth. His name popped up several times last May, but he said then he wouldn't attempt another double of the Indy 500 in the afternoon and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 that night at Charlotte, N.C. The Columbus, Ind., native was courted last summer by Chip Ganassi before re-signing with Joe Gibbs Racing. Stewart drove for Ganassi in the 2001 Indy 500 but said the NASCAR and Indy Racing League team owner didn't dangle Indy as a carrot in their discussions.

12/12/03

Accidents prompt IRL to reduce engine size again   Recall just a few years ago the IRL was forced to cut engine capacity from 4.0 liters to 3.5 liters because speeds were getting too high.  Now it's a cut from 3.5 to 3.0 liters in 2004.  This latest move may lead to 100% throttle (i.e. easy flat) at all tracks, leading to more "pack" racing and even bigger accidents.

This Indy Star article says, In the wake of two horrific crashes in October, the Indy Racing League is slowing its cars in time for the 2004 Indianapolis 500.

League officials confirmed Thursday that engines are being reduced from 3.5 liters to 3.0 liters, effective in May.  Engine manufacturers predict the move will cut horsepower by more than 10 percent.  [Editor's Note: Reduction will come by reducing the stroke of the engine.  This change will cost the engine manufacturers considerable money.]

The change should lower speeds by more than 10 mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Helio Castroneves won the pole this year at 231.725 mph.  The reduction is driven by the death of promising young driver Tony Renna at the Speedway on Oct. 22 and Kenny Brack's horrific flip at Texas Motor Speedway 10 days prior to Renna's accident.

Tony George, the CEO of the Speedway and the IRL, said a change had to be made. "More than anything for our own peace of mind," he said.  The news of the reduction comes as the IRL is set to release its findings from Renna's accident. George said he had not read the full report and was not prepared to comment.

The IRL will have two races before the engine change is implemented, allowing the manufacturers time to use some of the crankshafts that will become obsolete. The manufacturers declined to say how much extra cost they will incur, but they support the decision.

"With the accidents that have happened and the potential for cars flying into the audience . . . there's no way we can criticize that this is the right thing to do," Toyota's Lee White said. "We have to control the speeds, and this is the best way."

White said his staff expects the speeds to fall 15 mph to 17 mph at the Speedway.  Said Chevrolet's Joe Negri: "We have no problem with it."

"We were already at the upper end of our (targets)," George said. "We got there about a year quicker than we anticipated, perhaps because of the increased competition."

In other speed-containing measures, IRL senior vice president Brian Barnhart said aerodynamic changes will be announced in early February. Reducing the width of the Firestone tires is being discussed [Editor's Note: A reduction in tire width will reduce aero drag and increase straight-line speeds.  And since the cars are easy flat now with the current tires and HP, they will be even easier flat despite a reduction in tire width because HP will be reduced dramatically.]

The reduction, which refers to the pistons'  travel distance, should be worth about 90 horsepower, White said.  Toyota initially requested the change to 3.0 liters for the 2003 season, its first in the IRL. The issue arose again in August at the league's race at Kentucky Speedway.

12/12/03

NASCAR drivers in charity golf event  The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and NASCAR are joining forces for a charity pro-am golf tournament to benefit the Betty Jane France Center of Excellence for Children and The LPGA Foundation. The event, scheduled for Feb. 4-5, 2004, will kick off nearly two weeks of festivities leading up to NASCAR's most prestigious race of the year, the Daytona 500. Participants in this unique event will be paired with an LPGA Tour player for nine holes and a NASCAR driver/racing celebrity for another nine holes at LPGA International's Legends Golf Course, where 28 pro-celeb-am teams will compete in an 18-hole scramble format on Thursday, Feb. 5.

"I am tremendously excited about this announcement and have little doubt that this pro-am will be one of the most gratifying events of the year," said Betty Jane France, NASCAR assistant secretary and honorary chairperson of the pro-am. "Friends and fans of NASCAR and the LPGA will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join their favorite golfers and racing celebrities at the spectacular LPGA International Legends Course and help give back to the Daytona Beach community. I am sure it will be a fun-filled two days that we will never forget."

12/12/03

Sauber signs deal with Philips  Sauber Petronas and Philips AG Consumer Electronics, Switzerland, have entered into a partnership agreement. Under this agreement Philips will be supplying the Swiss Formula One team with plasma screens, DVD equipment and LCD projectors primarily for the new wind tunnel but also for trackside use. Philips will be providing other services, as well, in return for which the company will be granted various marketing rights, including use of the wind tunnel for exclusive events.

"Philips are one of the leading electronics companies and thus an optimal supplier of electronic equipment for our ultra-modern wind tunnel," Team Principal Peter Sauber said, expressing his delight about the team's new partner.

"Sauber and Philips - both names are synonymous for success in the world of high-tech. Our companies constantly invest in the future, with benchmark-setting results: Sauber are perfecting aerodynamics in the new wind tunnel, Philips are achieving high-resolution image quality with flat TVs thanks to Pixel Plus," said Rudolf Haeny, Head of Philips Consumer Electronics, Switzerland, commenting on the partnership.

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands are one of the world's biggest electronics companies, with sales of 31.8 billion euros in 2002. The company is a global leader in color television sets, lighting, electric shavers, medical diagnostic imaging and patient monitoring as well as one-chip TV products.

12/12/03

Baumgartner seeks Minardi ride  Hungarian driver Zsolt Baumgartner has contacted Minardi about a possible Formula One ride in 2004, his manager tells the MTI news agency. Baumgartner replaced Ralph Firman for a pair of races this season with Jordan-Ford and the Silverstone-based team has made him a contract offer for next year, provided he can raise sufficient sponsorship. It's believed that one of Hungary's leading banks, an insurance company and the country's leading oil company have ponied up to help the 22-year-old, however, he remains about $3-million US short of securing the Jordan seat. With Nick Heidfeld signing an agreement in principle to join Jordan, that leaves just one seat up for grabs with Firman, Jos Verstappen and Heinz-Harald Frentzen said to be in contention. That has forced Baumgartner to turn to Minardi as a possible alternative.  TSN.ca

12/12/03

Latest Formula One News Items  

Williams Hopes To Awaken China To F1
New McLaren Sets Another Lap Record
Flying Finn Stakes Claim For Minardi F1 Ride
Raikkonen To Become F1's Highest Earner
Chinese driver 'Terrified' After Maiden F1 Run
Teen Tester In Better Shape At Jerez
Schu's Ferrari Conquered By Fighter Jet
F1 Drivers To Earn Demerit Points?
Montoya's Abrupt, Ralf's Negative: F1 Snapper
Frentzen To Hang Up Formula One Helmet
Former F1 Racer To Be Arrested - On Scooter
Montoya Slams Driver-Demerit Proposal
Trulli Tries All-New Renault For Size
Schumacher Versus Alonso In 2004?
Webber Ready To Vanquish Fifth F1 Teammate
Ferrari Thinking About The Future
Zanardi To Drive Full Touring Car Series
McLaren Warn Ferrari Off Raikkonen

12/11/03

Motorock Trans-Am Year in Review to air  SPEED Channel will celebrate the 2003 Motorock Trans-Am Tour for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup during its Trans-Am “Year in Racing” show, airing on Thursday Dec. 18 at 9 p.m. EST. The show will re-air Friday, Dec. 19 at 3 a.m. and 9 a.m., and again on Friday, Dec. 26 at 4 p.m.

The one-hour show will document every thrilling moment of the 2003 tour. It will include the return of Scott Pruett, and his dominant run toward his third Trans-Am title; Jorge Diaz, Jr.’s heady drive to Rookie of the Year; Jaguar’s third manufacturers’ title, the welcoming of title sponsor Motorock, and much more. It will also highlight Trans-Am’s travels across North America, with rounds at premier venues in the United States, Canada, and its first race in Puerto Rico.

The Motorock Trans-Am Tour features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Tour is America’s oldest continuously running road racing series and will celebrate its 39th anniversary in 2004.

Motorock is the creation of a popular culture brand that blends the enthusiast markets of cars, stars and guitars. It is a yearly series of destination live events that showcases the excitement of motorsports, music and lifestyle while delivering a unique new form of broadcast entertainment programming.

12/11/03

Big name drivers to test Vegas  Some of the biggest names in NASCAR have signed up to test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Jan. 26-29, 2004 in preparation for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event and Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Busch Series race. Seven of the eight active series champions are among the 26 drivers who are scheduled to participate in NASCAR Preseason Thunder-Las Vegas. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon, current champion Matt Kenseth as well as Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott are among the drivers who will be preparing for the March 7 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. Kenseth, who also is the defending champion of the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400, will test his Busch car in preparation for the March 6 Sam’s Town 300 as well. Other NASCAR drivers scheduled to test include Ward Burton, Ryan Newman, Sterling Marlin, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Jimmie Johnson, rookie Brian Vickers, Las Vegas Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, Ricky Rudd, Ricky Craven and Jeremy Mayfield. NASCAR Busch Series drivers Jason Leffler, J.J. Yeley, Mike Bliss, David Reutimann and Ashton Lewis Jr. also are scheduled to participate. Teams will be allowed to test for two days.

12/11/03

Questions raised on Denver's date change   This Rocky Mountain Times article says, A Denver city councilwoman waved a yellow flag Wednesday at plans to move next year's Grand Prix of Denver to a mid-August date from its traditional spot on Labor Day weekend.

Councilwoman Judy Montero sought assurances that the concerns of residents who live within earshot of the Pepsi Center are considered before the new race date is approved.

"You have a lot of work to do with the neighborhoods," Montero told the race's general manager, John Frew, during a meeting of the City Council's Public Works Committee.

Montero was unhappy that she had not been told earlier that the grand prix's organizers were planning to change the date of next year's race.

For his part, Frew pledged to work with residents in the coming weeks to help sell them on the new date, a move he said would greatly improve the chance for the race to be successful.

For starters, the race has a shot to be televised nationally by CBS on its new date - Aug. 15. Running on Labor Day weekend means there is no chance it will be televised by CBS because the network carries the U.S. Open tennis tournament each year.

Frew also said that moving away from Labor Day would have other benefits - namely getting it away from Taste of Colorado and college football games that are downtown that weekend each year and giving it a chance to establish itself as a "stand-alone" event.

The move also would allow construction of the racetrack around the Pepsi Center to occur before fall classes start at the nearby Auraria campus.

12/11/03

Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung tests for Williams  UPDATE:  But is he really Chinese?  According to this Dutch website, Ho Pin Tung was born and raised in Holland...which makes him Dutch. This link is a newspaper article from his website. The fact he was Dutch born is openly admitted.  It even says he isn't a Chinese citizen, but he would move to China and apply to be a Chinese citizen if that's what F1 wants or needs. 12/11/03  Hard on the heels of China’s first manned spaceflight by Yang Liwei in October this year, another technological landmark was broken today when Ho-Pin Tung, together with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, became the first ever Chinese driver to test a Formula One car.

The 21 year old from Wenzhou, 500km south of Shanghai, earned the coveted opportunity to test for the team after winning this season’s Formula BMW Asia series in dominant style. Today as his reward, he took to the wheel of a WilliamsF1 BMW FW24 for 42 laps of the 4.428km Jerez de la Frontera circuit, south west of Seville in Spain.

“After driving a 140bhp Formula BMW car last season, stepping into a 900bhp Formula One car was terrifying as well as the fulfillment of a lifetime’s ambition in equal measure. It is of course a matter of some pride to also be the first Chinese driver to get behind the wheel of such a prestigious Formula One Car,” said Tung at the end of the test session.

Recounting his experience the young driver reported that,“The atmosphere was very calm and the team helped ensure I didn’t get too nervous. Juan Pablo Montoya and Marc Gené were great and helped answer all the questions I had before getting in the car. I was stunned by the performance of the car, it was like a drug, and I was also quite surprised that I had no physical problems by the end of the session. Afterwards I sat with the engineers to analyze the data which showed me the difference between my performance and that of Juan and Marc. Fortunately though, I discovered that we also have a few things in common, which made me happy. Prior to today, Formula One was a dream, now it has become a goal, and I sincerely hope that today’s test increases the interest in Formula One in China,” he concluded.

Tung’s performance was assessed by BMM Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen. “We have been keeping our eyes on Ho-Pin for some time now, and his twelve pole positions and ten wins from 14 starts this year promises much. I am glad to say he handled his first Formula One test in a very mature fashion. His approach and his improvements over the course of the day did prove he has serious potential as a racing driver.”

Tung was also praised by WilliamsF1’s Chief Operations Engineer, Sam Michael. “Ho-Pin assisted with our general test program today, driving the FW24. He worked well with the engineering team and demonstrated a good degree of competence and ability over the course of the day. His lap time was very respectable for someone who hadn't driven anything like a Formula One car before today.”

Ho-Pin’s test with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team has taken on additional significance ahead of the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on September 26, 2004. Reflecting on the significance of Ho-Pin’s maiden Formula One test, BMW WilliamsF1 Team Principal Frank Williams said, “The prospect of Formula One awakening the interests of a substantial element of the Chinese TV population is something that I personally find very stimulating. It is fortunate indeed that, just prior to the inaugural Shanghai Grand Prix in 2004, Ho-Pin Tung has made history as the first Chinese race driver ever to test a Formula One car. I believe his engagement with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team in Jerez will only serve to stimulate valuable interest in Formula One in one of the few remaining virgin territories for the sport.”

Driving last year’s WilliamsF1 BMW FW24, Ho-Pin Tung achieved his best lap time on lap 33 of 42 (1min22.082sec). Note: On December 17th at 10:00hrs, Ho-Pin Tung will participate in a press conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Beijing, China

12/11/03

Barber Dodge headed back to England  Barber Dodge Pro Series executives Steve Sewell and Rick Ratajczak will, for the 12th consecutive year, man the Barber Dodge stand (no. 9370) at the Autosport International racing show in Birmingham, England, January 9-10. In concert with U.K.-based S.P.A. Design, a leading designer, fabricator and manufacturer of racing parts, Sewell and Ratajczak plan to get the word out to U.K. and European drivers about the changes to the CART-Champ Car Barber Dodge Pro Series for 2004 -- most importantly, the advent of double-race weekends.

"We really needed to address the fact that European stepping stone series are almost always 12 races or more," Sewell says. "We're looking to schedule seven or eight race weekends, making for a 14- to 16-race championship." From 1986, when Barber Dodge was established, through 2001, the championship was comprised of 12 races; '02 and '03 were 10-race seasons.

Ratajczak, Pro Series director, notes that the per-race cost of the series has decreased. "We're going from $14,000 (approx. £8,000) to $8,375 (approx. £4,800) per race," he says. "That means a full season of 16 races will cost, aside from travel expenses and any crash damage, less than $140,000 (approx. £80,400)."

At least 10 Barber Dodge test days at Sebring International Raceway in central Florida have been scheduled from mid-January through the beginning of March, and can be booked by contacting Ratajczak at 860.435.4646.

Ratajczak adds that a race-prepped Reynard-Dodge -- 270hp, six-speed sequential Hewland, 1,400 lbs. wet (630 kilos) -- will be on display, ready for inspection by interested drivers, for the entire run of the Autosport International Show. Also available at the stand will be the new-for- 2004 Barber Dodge promotional video (a mini-CD that runs with QuickTime or Windows Media Player), free for serious inquiries. 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.

12/11/03

Three test for Minardi  After persistent rain soaked this region yesterday, the second day of European Minardi's scheduled three-day test at the Vallelunga circuit, near Rome, took place in cold, but otherwise improved weather conditions. Today, it was the turn of Finn, Heikki Kovalainen, to have his first run in a European Minardi Cosworth PS03. The 22-year-old, from Suomussalmi, was joined by Jose-Maria Lopez, and briefly in the afternoon, by Fabrizio Del Monte. The latter two both drove for the team yesterday, but had been unable to sample the undiluted performance of a Formula One car because of the wet conditions. The drivers were reported to have provided good "feedback" while working with European Minardi staff on a technical programme that included engine performance assessment, aerodynamic work, brake system comparison and weight distribution evaluation. The team's 2003 test driver, Gianmaria Bruni, Austrian, Norbert Siedler, and India's Narain Karthikeyan are scheduled to drive during the final day of the test, tomorrow.

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN "I think it was a very good day. This is a new track for me, and the test started off with the circuit a little bit damp. To be honest, though, it wasn't too difficult to get used to it. After a handful of laps, I managed to set a reasonable time and felt I was near the limit. In the afternoon, we completed our driving program on schedule, and I think we found some improvement. Obviously, I was becoming more confident with my driving all the time, as well as with my braking. All told, it was a positive experience."

JOHN WALTON, Sporting Director "It has been a very good day as far as the team is concerned. The track surface was still damp this morning, which meant we had to run on intermediate tyres up until lunch, before we could switch to dries this afternoon. Heikki and Jose-Maria both did excellent jobs - they produced consistent lap times, were very evenly matched, and provided useful feedback to the engineers. They got through a massive amount of work between them, which helped us in a big way with our test program. We were extremely impressed with both of them. Fabrizio wasn't scheduled to be in the car today, but as he didn't get a chance to drive in the dry yesterday, we decided to give him a run on slicks late this afternoon. Unfortunately, he only managed to complete 11 laps before the rain started to fall again, and we had no choice but to call him in. He also did a good job, though, and was clearly getting to grips with the performance of an F1 car on a dry track by the end of his run."
Minardi Testing Details
Location: Vallelunga circuit, Italy; Date: December 11, 2003
Weather: Overcast, cloudy
Air temperature: 11-13 deg C; Track temperature: 10-12 deg C
Driver(s): Heikki Kovalainen; Jose-Maria Lopez; Fabrizio Del Monte (afternoon only)
Chassis allocation: PS03/01 (Kovalainen) PS03/03 (Lopez/Del Monte)
Laps completed: Kovalainen, 81/261 kms; Lopez, 52/168 kms; Del Monte, 11/36 kms
Fastest lap: Kovalainen, 1 min 02.545 secs; Lopez, 1 min 02.909 secs; Del Monte, 1 min 07.194 secs

12/11/03

Luyendyk and Fernández visit aircraft carrier   Two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk is certainly used to going fast, as he's held most of the records at the biggest speed plant on the planet - the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But he experienced an extreme of another kind last weekend after visiting the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) aircraft carrier, located 80 miles off the coast of Southern California, along with IndyRacing team owner and fellow Scottsdale, Ariz. resident Adrian Fernandez. The San Diego-based aircraft carrier is at sea conducting training exercises in the Southern California operating area.

Landing on the compact deck of the naval carrier in a COD C2 Navy cargo plane, Luyendyk, Fernandez, and fellow passengers, including former IndyCar driver Tom Bagley and others that held positions as CEO's and teachers, got the thrill of a lifetime by being treated to the lifestyle of a military crewperson for 24 hours.

Greeted by Captain James A. McDonell after landing Saturday morning, Luyendyk and Fernandez toured the massive Naval carrier and received explanations about each function that is performed by the thousands of military personnel on board. They met with the crew, ate and signed autographs for the men and women serving the United States on the vessel before a night of sleep in the small confines of a crewman's cabin.

"This was one of the most unbelievable experiences of my life," said Luyendyk. "I thought I was used to extreme g forces because of my racing experience, but I've never felt any acceleration like we had taking off from the aircraft carrier." Fernandez was equally impressed with the forces of landing and taking off on such a small surface, as both professional drivers exchanged expressions of disbelief during the exercise.

"The thing that impressed me the most after it all was over with was the dedication of the troops on board - they have one hundred percent focus on their jobs, and they all do their jobs very well," Luyendyk continued. "They are so disciplined - it was a humbling experience. I definitely came away from that trip with a whole new respect for what the military does on a daily basis. To think that those crew members are a fully functioning professional group at their age and the responsibility that they are learning there will be great training and will serve them well through life."

At capacity, the USS John C. Stennis can hold 6,200 people. It is literally a small city, with chefs that prepare approximately 18,000 meals per day for crews that live on the ocean for extended periods of time. The carrier regularly opens itself up to curious visitors who can get on a list to visit, with landings being performed five days a week when the carrier is available and not preoccupied with formal military operations.

12/11/03

CART buyout update   The CART board had its working meeting Wednesday to discuss the latest offer from OWRS (i.e. to bankrupt the Michigan Company, which is the operating company, and take over the Delaware Company, which is the parent company).  As we understand it every consideration is being given to protect the shareholders.  OWRS is now making the final draft of all documents. The final meeting will be Friday afternoon. We hear that all is fine.  Everyone has done their homework, both OWRS and CART, and we hear they are confident of getting concurrence from the bankruptcy court next week on the plan of action.  Stay tuned....Mark C.

12/11/03

NASCAR plans night race at Milwaukee Mile  In the wake of CART holding a Champ Car race at night last year on the Milwaukee Mile, NASCAR has decided to hold both Craftsman Truck Series and Busch Series races under the lights on the track this year. The move was announced Tuesday at a board of directors meeting for Wisconsin's State Fair Park, which owns the facility.

The 200-mile NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race is now set for Friday, June 25, and the 250-mile Busch Series event Saturday, June 26.  "I think it's pretty cool," said Travis Kvapil, the Truck Series champion and a native of Janesville. "I watched the CART race last summer and hardly recognized the place on TV.  I love night racing, and it's better for the fans. There's just a little more excitement, it seems like, in the air. You get to see sparks fly, and (the cars) always look faster at night."

Such increased excitement is precisely the reason for the change, said Mark Perrone, the park's general manager.  "We're comfortable that the revenue we would generate through the added ticket sales would be more than adequate to cover the expense for the lighting," Perrone said.   CART is scheduled to race again under the lights at the track June 5.  AP Story

12/11/03

Jet fighter beats Schumacher twice  It was 9.30 when the Piaggio P180, the Piaggio plane that bears the Prancing Horse symbol, touched down at Baccarini airport in Grosseto. On board was Michael Schumacher, ready to face a historical challenge in the form of a duel between his F2003-GA and a Eurofighter Typhoon.  Under broody skies, Michael Schumacher climbed aboard the F2003-GA for the shootout with the jewel in the airforce crown.

Three races were planned: the first, over a 600-metre distance that favored the swift acceleration of the single-seater, saw the F2003-GA break the tape first, touching 294km/h, in 9"4 versus 9"6 of the jet. The second duel was over 1200 meters in which the Eurofighter showed the single-seater a clean pair of heels and sped away with the win in 14"2 versus 16"7. The F2003-GA reached 308 km/h. The third, decisive, challenge was fought out over 900 meters and was a tight affair. The Eurofighter just scraped home, two tenths ahead of the F2003-GA (13 seconds versus 13.2). On the wet surface that took away some of the grip from the tires, Michael Schumacher reached 305km/h.

'The best race was the first’, joked Michael. ‘If it weren’t for the rain we would have had more grip, but, in any case, the result was not important in this race! It was fun watching the plane take off from where I was sitting. From a technical point of view, the start was like a normal Grand Prix; if you take into account the difference in power between an aeroplane and the single-seater, these results could only have been expected. But it was a great event and a unique challenge. I hope the fans had as much fun as we all did!’

Pierro Ferrari awarded the winner his prize: ‘It was an exciting race and one I enjoyed very much as I love the aeronautical world’, reflected the Ferrari vice-president. He went on: ‘Apart from the result, the important aspect of the day is that we have demonstrated how Italy is able to produce winning technology in both fields. Today was the demonstration of the highest technology in two worlds, that of four wheels where Ferrari leads the pack, and the aeronautical sphere, in which Italy is at a very high level.’

Filippo Berselli, Defence Under-Secretary, also thought the Grosseto show had been a great day out. ‘I would say that this is a day for Italian industry and for Italy. The new European fighter jet is an extraordinary machine, created with the intelligence and imagination of Italian industry, who, thanks also to Ferrari, have had a superb showcase in today.’

After the demanding day, rest is in order for Schumacher: ‘For now I will relax and carry on with the training by karting’, concluded Michael to journalists who had enquired about his off-season plans. ‘I aim to be in shape for next year and in the meantime I will enjoy Christmas with my family.’

As planned, the event went on with a re-run of the 1931 race, this first ever between a plane and a car. In place of Nuvolari at the wheel of the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 was Massimiliano Stancari and commanding the Tiger Moth (a substitute for the unavailable Caproni) was Stefano Rusconi. The duel was fought over four consecutive laps and saw the car leading for the first three laps only for the plane to sneak the win at the last with a one second advantage. The Alfa reached a top speed of 185km/h, lower in the curves, while the plane maintained a constant average speed of 140km/h.

The first course over and gazing from the track to the sky, the massed ranks could only look on open-mouthed as the spectacular Eurofighter piloted by Maurizio Cheli flexed its muscles.

12/11/03

Mosley proposes violation overhaul  FIA President Max Mosley has put forward a proposal to the teams that should it be voted in will see drive-through penalties become a thing of the past. Instead, drivers will be placed on a license points system, and will incur warnings for any on-track incidents. Those who repeatedly offend will be handed a race ban.

Added to the cancellation of drive-throughs, the new system will also see the warnings issued after the race, and not during it. This will allow the stewards the time to review all the evidence and hand down a fair judgment.

"This system would be much more satisfactory. There is a strong body of opinion that says you should have a referee who takes decisions immediately - like in football," Mosley told Autosport Magazine.

"I agree with that except if you don't have to, and we don't have to, then maybe it is better not to. Your first requirement is to be fair and what we have at the moment is bound to give the occasional odd result. Even if it is not unfair, people still think it is and that is just as bad."

12/11/03

Evernham helps with toy drive  Ray Evernham dispatched a truck to Martinsville Speedway Wednesday afternoon, heavy with toys for the 10th Annual Martinsville Speedway Toy Drive and Souvenir Day this Saturday. Red Eggers, who works in the engine shop for Evernham Motorsports, made the trek north from Statesville, N.C., and unloaded 197 toys for the toy drive. "This is absolutely amazing ... it's absolutely amazing that someone that lives a couple of hours away from here would pitch in like this," said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell. "It speaks volumes about how generous and giving people in our sport are." Evernham learned of the plight facing many families in Martinsville and Henry County this Christmas a couple of weeks ago in a letter from Campbell. He immediately decided he needed to do something to help the area, which has been hit so hard by plant closings and suffers from a near 15 percent unemployment rate. When pay checks were issued to the employees of Evernham Motorsports two weeks ago, a letter from Evernham was enclosed urging all company employees to pitch in and help the toy drive. "We have been asked to help, and we wish to do so," the letter said. "Evernham Motorsports wants to send a sleigh filled with toys in response to Mr. Campbell's appeal for assistance. The company will be contributing a number of toys, and we are asking that those employees who are in a position to do so, to help us out." And they helped out in a big way, boosting the total toys raised for the toy drive to over 1,253. The 10th Annual Martinsville Speedway Toy Drive and Souvenir Day will kick off at 9 a.m. on Saturday and run until 4 p.m. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers Dennis Setzer and Jon Wood will be on hand to sign autographs. All donated toys will go to local Toys For Tots, handled by the Edward W. Richardson Detachment of the United States Marine Corps League. All toys will stay in the immediate area.

12/11/03

Smokey Yunick's family to sell "Best Damn Garage in Town"  The property that once held Smokey's Best Damn Garage in Town was put on the market today. The two-and-a-half year process of selling the racing parts, tools and equipment that Smokey accumulated during his 50+ years on the property, has finally come to an end. The next step in the process of carrying out Smokey's final wishes is selling the property.  When Smokey set up his plan, he made two things very clear. 1) He didn't want his shop turned into some [expletive deleted] shrine. He knew what he had done and he didn't want his family burdened with having to run and maintain a museum. He saw how much work his friend Don Garlits had to put in to keep his museum in shape.  2) He wanted all the parts and equipment to be sold to racers who would put them to use, rather than have them sit around in a museum and collect dust. The garage sales and parts sales that have occurred at the shop during the past 30 months have created a legion of race fans that have a piece of history that they pass on to their families.  Smokey spent 50 years building his shop and improving the land it was on. He knew how valuable waterfront property in Daytona Beach was, which was why he bought and maintained the surface and submerged land rights for the property. The family enlisted the help of Smokey's trusted financial advisor to sell the property. The area of riverfront in Daytona Beach is currently undergoing very active revitalization efforts and the shop property will be a large portion of this renovated area. This three-acre property still holds a mythical place in the hearts of race fans. The upcoming 2004 Speed Weeks will be the last time that legions of loyal Smokey fans will be able to come by and have their picture taken with the sign out front. It will be the last time they will be able to drive by and think about all that went on inside the fence and behind the walls and painted over windows. A landmark in racing, automotive and American history will be going by the wayside in the name of progress - Smokey would be proud. For more on Smokey, his books available and other info, see www.smokeyyunick.com

12/11/03

Latest Formula One News Items  

Verstappen In Talks With Minardi
De La Rosa, New McLaren, Quickest At Jerez
Lopez, Del Monte, Get Minardi Test Going
F3000 Champion Could Land BAR Test Drive
Stoddart Wants F1 Driver For Christmas
F1 Needs Ecclestone More Than Ever: Montezemolo
Two Wills Earn F1 Minardi Test Drive 

Eddie Irvine Wanted For Arrest
Raikkonen To Sit Out F1 Tests Until 2004
Ferrari Chief Renews Criticism Of F1 Rules
F1 Visitors To Get Free Bahrain Visa
Rosberg Slams Stewart Over Schumacher
Motoyama Drove Well In Renault F1 Test

12/10/03

Daytona testing schedule  NASCAR Preseason Thunder annual testing sessions at Daytona International Speedway are as follows
* Jan. 6-8: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup (odd owner's points)
* Jan. 10-12: NASCAR Craftsman Truck
* Jan. 13-15: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup (even owner's points)
* Jan. 17-18: NASCAR Busch Series (odd owner's points)
* Jan. 20-21: NASCAR Busch Series (even owner's points)

12/10/03

Silverstone paddock upgrade to get green light   According to the latest edition of Autosport Magazine, Silverstone's much delayed new pits and paddock complex is expected to be given the green light within the next few weeks. The circuit’s managing director, Andrew Waller, has revealed that the track is on the verge of reaching an agreement with the owner of the British Racing Drivers’ Club and Formula 1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone for on an overhaul of its facilities.   Waller said that “tremendous progress” has been made in talks with the government for funding.  “We are close to finalizing the details and I am confident that there will be an agreement,” he said. “The funding and plans are pretty well agreed.”   Waller said that he expected confirmation before the end of the year. This would allow work to begin immediately after next year’s grand prix, with the buildings being completed ahead of the 2005 event. The new complex would replace the current facility. Plans to relocate the pits to the straight after Club Corner have been abandoned. 

12/10/03

CART to implement standing starts and push-to-pass   CART will implement two of AutoRacing1.com's long fought for proposals for CART - Standing Starts and a Push-to-Pass button.  Kevin Kalkhoven says in this interview, The thing about Champ Car racing, and it was proven last year is, in Formula 1 there are probably only one of three teams that are going to win, probably only one of four drivers who are going to win. In our series, nobody really knows, and there’s a lot more excitement about the fact that there’s a lot of real wheel-to-wheel racing, and with push-to-pass, standing starts, we think we can create some exciting racing. Which is what fans want.  [Editor's Note: Bravo for CART for finally getting it right. As we understand it, the cars will be fitted with ‘push-to-pass’ turbo boost buttons, which drivers will be free to use a maximum of 10 times during a race to give them an extra 50bhp for five seconds as they attempt to make up places, which is how it was proposed to CART. This is a must read interview with Kalkhoven.  He even talks about other new overseas races for CART in 2004.]

12/10/03

Kalkhoven optimistic for CART's future   This Autosport article says,  Kevin Kalkhoven, one third of the Open Wheel Racing Series group that is pitching to buy out CART for 2004, is optimistic that the Champ Car World Series will not only survive, but will flourish in 2004. An initial plan to buy up the remaining shares was changed last week when OWRS (made up of Gerry Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi and Kalkhoven) offered to buy all the assets needed to make the 2004 series viable. And while no decision has been made yet, it is expected soon – possibly even by the end of this week. "We wanted a clean sheet," said Kalkhoven, in London for Sunday's Autosport Awards. "That's really what we're trying to achieve here. We are proposing to buy all the assets necessary to run the 2004 season which is everything from the physical assets to the supplier contracts with Ford and Bridgestone; the contracts with the promoters and the circuits. Basically, everything that is necessary to run the series next year.

"There's no lack of commitment on our part," he continued. "In fact, I personally have guaranteed a large amount of money, if necessary, to keep CART running – independent of everything else – for the next 60 days." While keeping the series alive is the priority, there are plans to increase the interest, adding in standing starts and 'push-to-pass' boost buttons to spice up the show.

"One of the things that truly amazed me in all this," continued Kalkhoven, "is not just the support of the fans, but the support of the teams. We have a huge amount of loyalty from people who want to turn right as well as left. Actually, the past few weeks have been…I would almost describe it as a touching situation. I have felt, occasionally, very emotional about the support the teams and the fans have given us. Because they realize this isn't exactly a situation that is anything other than, 'We want to go racing.'"

12/10/03

Today is the day for CART Board to decide   The CART board is expected to meet today on whether to bankrupt the CART Operating Company (the Michigan Company) as proposed by Open Wheel Racing Series LLC.  A final decision is expected by Friday.  If approved, CART's Michigan Company would go into bankruptcy early next week.

12/10/03

Minardi wants Verstappen back, Justin Wilson doubtful   Struggling Minardi hope to persuade Dutch Formula One driver Jos Verstappen to stay with them next season.    "I'm hoping that we can retain Jos for next year and we are still in negotiations," team owner Paul Stoddart said.  "I think he's got a good chance of staying with us and it comes down to what he wants to do," added the aviation entrepreneur.  "Jos has got a lot left in him before he hangs up his spurs. I think he could do a lot worse than driving for us.  We are still hopeful that we'll see a young talent signed up this side of Christmas," said Stoddart.  "I've got a bit of a soft spot for Justin Wilson," he said.  "If I were in the position where the drive was going to go to someone who didn't have a full budget, he'd be top of my list.  I've got unfinished business with Justin and I've got a lot of faith in him." Minardi are testing five drivers at the Vallelunga circuit near Rome this week, with Renault development driver Jose Maria Lopez of Argentina and Italian Fabrizio del Monte in action on Wednesday.  Finland's Heikki Kovalainen, another highly regarded young Renault prospect, will test later in the week with India's Narain Karthikeyan and 20-year-old Austrian Norbert Siedler.  "There's one or two I want to have a good look at," said Stoddart.  "One in particular has a real future." [Editor's Note: With no rides left if F1 for Wilson, CART may be his only chance for 2004]

12/10/03

Ferrari boss backs Ecclestone   Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo says Formula One needs Bernie Ecclestone to continue running the sport.  "It is too early for many details (about the agreement)," Wednesday's Guardian newspaper quoted Montezemolo as saying.   But we need Bernie Ecclestone even more to run the business because the business is owned by the banks."   Under Ecclestone's guidance, F1 now generates an estimated annual income of around $400m from TV rights and other commercial sources.   The SLEC holding company that he founded, and which is now 75% owned by bankers JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers and Bayerische Landesbank, has a 100-year deal for the sport's commercial rights.

12/10/03

Less provisionals in 2004  NASCAR is looking at changing the provisional system, and while these changes aren't completely set in stone, it is safe to say there won't be seven provisional positions for next year's races. It has reached a point where provisionals need to be scaled back so there probably will be three to five provisionals per race. You've got to protect the top guys in points because with one round of qualifying, you do stand the chance of someone losing an engine or wrecking. Next year, the fastest 38 or 40 cars will get in the field with three to five on provisionals. In the past, if you were in the top 25 in points, you weren't charged a provisional. Now if you use it, you lose it -- no matter where you are. People who are usually up in the points can run out of provisionals. FoxSports

12/10/03

Latest Formula One Photos  

Ho Pin Tung Arrives In Jerez
Chinese driver Ho Pin Tung has arrived in Jerez ahead of a test with the Williams team, part of his prize for winning the Formula BMW Asia Championship.
Click here for images

Satoshi Motoyama Prepares For Renault Test
Newly crowned Formula Nippon champion Satoshi Motoyama is due to have his debut test for Renault this week at Jerez. The Japanese driver also tested for Jordan last month.
Click here for images

New Helmet For Panis
Toyota's Olivier Panis today showed off a brand new helmet design in testing at Jerez, Spain.
Click here for images


Felipe Massa Returns To Sauber Cockpit
Felipe Massa, who last drove for Sauber in 2002, has returned to the cockpit for the Swiss team during testing at Jerez. The Brazilian spent 2003 as test driver for Ferrari.
Click here for images

12/10/03

eBay auction for Brayton's 1996 Indy Car  On May 11th, 1996 Scott Brayton was attempting to win his second pole position for the Indianapolis 500. He had already qualified the #2 car at a speed of 231.535 average for the four qualifying laps. With less than half an hour left on pole day he withdrew his second row #2 car and went out in the #32 car to try and win the pole, his four lap average was 233.718 which got him the pole and the fastest four lap average ever. On Friday May 17, 1996 Scott Brayton in the Menard/Glidden/Quaker State Special did a half spin in turn two and slid 420 feet hitting the wall with the left side of the car and then slid another 960 feet before stopping on the backstretch. This is the car that Scott was driving on May 17th 1996, the day he met his final destiny.   More.....

12/10/03
Industry News

SAFER Wall added to list of PIR upgrades   Phoenix International Raceway president Bryan R. Sperber announced today that installation of the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) wall system is underway and should be completed by the first event of the 2004 season – NASCAR Winter Heat (Jan. 24-25). PIR joins Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Richmond International Raceway, New Hampshire International Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, as the only tracks to have SAFER walls in place at the moment.  More......

12/10/03

Bill France not in favor of points change, others propose 10-race sprint  2nd UPDATE A reader responds, Is NASCAR really considering this? With ten races to go taking the top ten in the points and having them start at zero then sprint to the finish. This is the worst possible thing they could do. Let's look at what they are doing. With this they would be penalizing people like 2003 Champion Matt Kenseth, and I believe 2002 Champion Tony Stewart. They are saying that a consistent season doesn't matter. If you were to do this to Kenseth this year he wouldn't have won the championship, and Stewart would not have won it last year, at least I don't think he would have. This is just stupid. If they are trying to make winning more important increase the point difference between a win and second, don't do what they seem to be thinking about. What they are thinking of shouldn't even have been thought up, let's just hope they don't implement it. Chris Matulewski-Phipps   12/10/03 - This USA Today article says that NASCAR officials are considering radical changes to the way they crown their champion for 2004, which could result in a 10-team sprint to the championship in the final 10 races of the season — essentially creating a racing postseason. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Monday that officials are "seriously considering" the plan that would freeze the top-10 drivers in the standings with 10 races left and reset their points totals to zero. The driver among those 10 who scores the most points in the last 10 races would win the title; the driver who scores the least would finish 10th in the standings. Drivers ranking outside the top 10 with 10 races to go would not be eligible to win the title or finish in the top 10 in points but would keep racing. NASCAR also may change the way it awards points in each race. Race winners would earn more points than they do now, and a few bad finishes wouldn't be as devastating to a driver's championship chances. The changes, if any, will be announced in January. More...  12/8/03 - Retired NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. isn't convinced the points system needs to be changed.

The system, in place since 1972 with some small alterations in 1975, places a premium on consistency, rewarding drivers who finish races.

Matt Kenseth won the 2003 title, with yearly earnings of $9.5 million, despite winning only one race - the first time that has happened since Benny Parsons won the championship in 1973. But Kenseth failed to finish only two of 36 races and totaled 25 top-10 finishes.

Meanwhile, Ryan Newman won a series-most 11 poles and eight races, failed to finish seven times and wound up sixth.

"The champion doesn't have to win eight races and he doesn't have to win a race in a given year," France said. "But he's got to meet some kind of subjective test where the media is not writing that we've got some palooka that has won the championship. He's got to have respect.

"I'm totally satisfied that Matt Kenseth meets that test. I have not read anywhere or heard anywhere that Matt Kenseth is not a credible champion."

12/10/03

Helio plays in Tennis Classic  This past weekend, Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves was in Delray Beach, FL to play in the Chris Evert/Bank of America Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic, to raise money to fight drug abuse in south Florida.

The two-day event featured an all-star line-up of tennis stars and celebrities alike including former United States President George Bush; “Friends’” star Matthew Perry; comedians Chevy Chase and Jon Lovitz; and Gavin Rossdale of the popular rock band Bush.

Each of the celebrity participants was teamed with a pro tennis player for the one set match-ups at the Delray Beach Tennis Center. On Saturday, Castroneves was paired with Xavier Malisse, one of tennis’ rising stars, against the team of Jon Lovitz and ATP regular Vince Spadea. Castroneves and Malisse were able to hold off their opponents with a score of 6-5.

The highlight of the event came at the end of the day, when Castroneves was able to hit balls with the 41st President, George Bush. The two got some court time and just volleyed with one another to close out the first day of competition.

“What an honor,” said Castroneves after the experience. “This afternoon was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m so excited that I had the chance to warm-up with a United States President! I’ve always admired President Bush and it was a lot of fun to have that personal interaction with him. This is something that I will never forget.”

After the day’s action on the court, Castroneves attended a black-tie fund raiser at the Boca Raton Resort. During the event, the young Brazilian was able to rub elbows with the likes of celebrity guests including Matthew Perry, Jennifer Capriati, Jon Lovitz, Chevy Chase and of course, Chris Evert.

Castroneves donated a VIP package to the IndyCar® Series season-opening Toyota Indy 300 on February 29, 2004 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The package, which sold for $3,000, included a pair of tickets to the race, special VIP passes as well as a pace car ride with Castroneves.

12/10/03

Team Penske to test  Marlboro Team Penske will be testing the 2004 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyotas this week at Phoenix International Raceway. Helio Castroneves will be fulfilling driving duties for the Team on Monday, December 8 while teammate Sam Hornish Jr. will be in the cockpit on Tuesday, December 9. The team will be making sure that they are ahead of the curve for the IndyCar Series event at the Raceway on March 21, 2004.

12/10/03

Hornish in Defiance for Photo Shoot  Marlboro Team Penske’s newest addition, two-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr., was in his hometown of Defiance, OH this past weekend so that celebrity photographer Jonathan Exley could shoot him for his 2004 lifestyle photos. The photo shoot consisted of Sam in his hometown surroundings, including set-ups with him and his fiancée, Crystal, in front of their new home; and shots of him with his parents and friends. In addition, the photo shoot featured Sam with his Harley-Davidson Fat Boy and Big Dog motorcycles, as well as participating in some of his favorite hobbies including shooting pool; bowling and playing poker with friends; and working on his go-karts with his Dad.

12/10/03

A night out with Helio  Not only did Helio Castroneves have the chance to mingle with the entertainment and sports worlds’ elite this weekend, he also had some time to participate in “A Night Out With” New York Times journalist Linda Lee. Lee, who pens the widely read “A Night Out With” column for the popular Sunday Styles section of the paper, was in Miami on Friday night for an evening of Brazilian culture with Castroneves and his friends. Lee attended the cocktail reception with Castroneves at the Delray Beach Tennis Club before the pair departed for Ft. Lauderdale where the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner had the opportunity to show Lee his spin on southern Florida.

Castroneves took her to one of his favorite restaurants, Chima, which is a Brazilian-style Churrascaria (Brazilian BBQ). His sister, Kati, as well as three Brazilian friends of the Castroneves’ accompanied the trio to create an authentic “Night Out” with Castroneves as he introduced Miami’s Brazilian influence to Lee for her column scheduled to run in 2004.

Helio Castroneves will be in South Beach on Wednesday for a photo shoot for the regional magazine Ocean Drive en Espanol. Castroneves is slated to appear in the February issue of the Floridian periodical to coincide with the kick-off event of the 2004 IndyCar Series season.

12/10/03

Latest Formula One News Items  

Alonso, Barrichello, Return To Test Tracks
Barrichello: I've Yet To Reach My Peak
Bahrain Announces Corporate Sponsor
Montoya Looks Forward To Engine Advantage
BAR Has Solved Reliability Jinx: Button
French GP Bosses Meet For Crisis Talks
Alonso, Wilson, Brawn, Handed F1 Honors
F1 Braces For Best 'Michael Schumacher' Yet
Rubens Barrichello's Contract Is Up
Karthikeyan, Siedler, To Test F1 Minardi
Fisichella Doubts His Future Is Scarlet
Verstappen Upset At Jaguar Racing Snub
Ferrari Was Felipe Massa's F1 University
Michelin Tires About To Get Even Better
Schu Prepares for F1 Duel With Eurofighter
MotoGP Makes Way For Formula One Race

12/9/03
Industry News

China to be world's 2nd biggest carmaker by 2020   [Editor's Note: And CART still hasn't decided it needs to be racing in China yet.  They'll figure it out eventually.]  Mainland China will overtake Germany and Japan to become the world's biggest carmaker by 2020, with the government doing all it can to encourage individuals to buy cars, industry officials said yesterday. At a forum attended by foreign and mainland industry officials, they described the car industry as a pillar of the mainland economy, an engine of domestic demand and an instrument to improve efficiency and quality of life.

Zhang Xiaoyu, chairman of the China Society of Automotive Engineers, said mainland production would reach 12 million vehicles in 2020, ranking it second in the world after the United States and accounting for 20 per cent of global output. Production was expected to reach 4.3 million this year, putting China in the No 4 spot after the US, Japan and Germany.

Mr Zhang forecast output in 2010 at eight million units, putting China second or third in the world.  Chen Qingtai, vice-minister of the development research center at the State Council, said cars were not merely a product but also a way to benefit society.

"We have just entered the era of mass car ownership. The industry is a pillar of the economy that drives other sectors like no other industry. The market will grow at least 10 per cent a year for the next 20 years," Mr Chen said.  "The government cannot tell people what to consume. It must respect their wishes. The market will solve the problems of the industry, not the government."

12/9/03

Last chance to bid on Cosworth Table   UPDATE We are told there was a lot of bidding in the last two hours and the Cosworth Table ultimately went for $5,001.01 to Mr. Paul Gentilozzi. Hopefully it will become an historic collectors item in years to come when CART switches to normally aspirated V10's in 2005 or 2006.....right Paul? 12/8/03 - Today is your last chance to bid on items in the annual CARA/Autoweek Charity auction.  A first-team great gift is this Ford Cosworth XFE engine/glass coffee table, as seen in the picture where yours truly usually has his furry mug. A minimum bid of $1,000 is required (Hint: bids are already above $3,000), but that should be a no-brainer considering this furniture's quality. (glass 24" X 30" & 20" tall).

12/9/03

ALMS Notes of Interest  The 2004 American Le Mans Series season will begin in just about 100 days with the March 17-20 running of the 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway.  America's oldest sports car race will get the green flag at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern) on Saturday, March 20. The race will be televised live from start to finish by the Speed Channel, while the American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.  More.....

12/9/03

IRL gets some mainstream media coverage  [Editor's Note:  All this mainstream media coverage and the IRL's TV ratings plummeted throughout the season indicating the media coverage didn't work.  The sport is not connecting with the fans.  There is no interest in a dumbed-down  "Wal-Marted" open wheel series.  This is not stock car racing.  You realize this came about 4 days after CART did one on their mainstream coverage with the CSI Miami and Monster Garage themed shows leading the way. PLUS, the IRL pays big dollars to an agency in order to get their logos placed on the network shows they mention. In at least a couple of those shows they mention, the exposure is a series logo sticker on a refrigerator on the set Example - Grounded for Life, Everybody Loves Raymond.]   The Indy Racing League continues to gain momentum in the mainstream marketplace, with the IRL appearing in several national publications, television and radio shows in 2003.

Indianapolis 500 Champion Gil de Ferran made several stops in New York City in the days following his historic win at the 87th running of the 500-Mile race. De Ferran appeared on the television shows The Late Show with David Letterman and Live with Regis and Kelly and was interviewed on The Charlie Rose Show, CNN Headline News, Fox News Live, and Money & Markets. More.....

12/9/03

Sauter plans for 2004  Johnny Sauter will spend the 2004 season racing for two of motorsport’s most prestigious crowns, the NASCAR Busch Series Championship and the coveted Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year.

In his Busch Series efforts, Johnny will pilot the # 27 KLEENEX®/SCOTT® Products Chevrolet, fielded out of the BREWCO Motorsports stable. Sauter will drive Richard Childress Racing’s # 30 AOL Chevrolet for the Nextel Cup events. Sauter is thrilled about the possibilities that lie ahead. “It’s not very often that anyone gets a chance to get behind the wheel of two awesome rides,” said Sauter. “Both of these teams have top notch equipment and are championship caliber organizations. Both RCR and Brewco have what it takes to win a lot of races. I think that we’re completely capable of winning the Busch Series Championship, and taking home Rookie of the Year in (Nextel) Cup. I can’t wait for next season to start.”

Johnny will race fulltime in each Series during his 2004 campaign. Although pulling a season long double-duty is an exhausting challenge, it’s a task that Sauter is up for. “No doubt, running the double-duty is going to be tough, but it’s a lot easier when you’re successful, and I think that we’re going to do well in both Series,” said Sauter. “When I have a car that I know is going to run great in the race, all I can think about is hopping in the seat and going racing. I don’t care how many laps I have to run in a day, or how long the weekend seems. If I have a car that is going to be competitive, I want to race in it. Both teams that I’ll be racing with field such awesome cars, so I’ll be anxious to compete in both Series’ events.”

Todd Wilkerson, general manager for BREWCO, has high expectations for next season. “Johnny obviously has a great relationship established with RCR,” said Wilkerson. He’s already gelled with their organization and I think that it will be big help to our team. If he’s running well on the (Nextel) Cup side, that can only benefit our program, and vice-versa. I think us and RCR will have a lot that we can contribute to each other. That should speed both of us up on the track. Johnny’s going to get a lot more seat time next year and a lot more experience by doing the double-duty. That will definitely help shorten his learning curve. I expect to see him do well in both cars next season.”

Sauter’s endeavors will give BREWCO and RCR an opportunity to share race day information between the two teams, an opportunity that Sauter is confident can only help both organizations. “Both teams are committed to helping each other, said Sauter. “I think both teams will only be able to benefit from it. Each organization is great all by itself, but when the two of them start helping each other out with race information, watch out!”

12/9/03

Davidson fastest in Jerez rain   Under rainy conditions, Anthony Davidson turned the day's fastest lap time at the wheel of his BAR Honda 005 equipped with Michelin tires.    Felipe Massa (Sauber) was second, in front of Rubens Barrichello who is making his return behind the wheel.
1. A. Davidson BAR-Honda 005 1'26"256 47 laps
2. F. Massa Sauber-Petronas C22 1'26"892 22 laps
3. R. Barrichello Ferrari F2003-GA 1'27"003 10 laps
4. T. Sato BAR-Honda 005/B 1'27"199 18 laps
5. J.P. Montoya Williams-BMW FW25 1'27"452 50 laps
6. F. Montagny Renault R23B 1'27"775 25 laps
7. M. Webber Jaguar R4 1'27"855 43 laps
8. P. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes MP4/17D 1'28"483 26 laps
9. M. Gene Williams-BMW FW25/B 1'28"663 28 laps
10. F. Alonso Renault R23B 1'28"705 7 laps
11. O. Panis Toyota TF103B 1'29"627 35 laps
12. C. Klien Jaguar R4 1'30"564 41 laps
13. C. da Matta Toyota TF103 1'31"398 31 laps
14. A. Wurz McLaren-Mercedes MP4/19 1'32"385 9 laps

12/9/03

Fans respond with big turn out   The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford started its 2003 season with just as many questions as it had answers, including the query as to what effect the new exclusive alliances with Ford-Cosworth and Bridgestone would have on the on-track product as the 25th Champ Car World Series season got underway.

Also key in the minds of many was just how the crowds would respond to many of the changes that 2003 brought, including the influx of rookie drivers that were taking their first laps in the series’ trademark turbocharged 750hp scream machines.

It didn’t take long to determine that the on-track product would provide some of the best racing in the world as rookie Mario Haberfeld (#34 Mi-Jack/Conquest Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) showed 2002 runner-up Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) that he and the rest of his first-year buddies did not join up just to be field fillers. Their first-lap battle in the season opener in St. Petersburg was a precursor of the excitement to come, and the crowds responded in earnest as they have for the better part of two decades as the series played out its 18-race schedule.

The Champ Car World Series drew 2,397,435 fans to the track this year, marking the 18th consecutive season that the series has drawn over 2.1 million fans to its events. The per race average of 133,190 was the second-best in the last six years and was topped by a pair of series records when the races at Mexico City drew 402,413 fans while the Surfers Paradise event saw 306,184 pour through the gates. In all, nine of the year’s events drew more than 110,000 fans, with increases shown not only in the aforementioned Mexico City and Surfers Paradise events, but also in Laguna Seca, Cleveland and Vancouver.

“The fan support is something that no one takes for granted here at Champ Car, and we continue to do everything we can to provide the best racing we can for our followers,” said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. “Our night races were extremely successful and only 38-degree temperatures in Milwaukee kept our first night race from showing a large increase. The fans pump up the excitement level at our races and we will continue to show them the best time possible.”

The racing action was punctuated by displays of driving skill that were unmatched anywhere among U.S.-based racing series. Among the major racing series in the United States, Champ Car races in 2003 had the fewest accidents per race, the fewest percentage of scheduled race laps run under the caution flag and had the highest percentage of race starters to finish on the lead lap.

The series produced eight different winners in 18 races, led by series champion Paul Tracy (#3 Player’s/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/ Bridgestone) with seven, including maiden victories for Sebastien Bourdais (#2 Lilly/McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone). Seven different drivers won pole positions and 15 of the 19 drivers that took the green flag in the series finale had led laps in Champ Car competition this season.

“There were a lot of people that said that it should be easier to win a championship this year but that was not the case,” Tracy said. “By the halfway point of the season the rookies had really gotten it together and there were a lot of guys that were capable of running up front on any given weekend. They really made us earn everything we got this season.”  CART

12/9/03

***Reader Opinion***Open Wheel Racing has become Wal-Marted   Dear AutoRacing1.com, What can you say about anything involving CART and the future? This has been ongoing since the split occurred in 1996.  Are fans really surprised at the current state of open wheel racing? CART has been getting dog piled from the start, and if this were a football game, there would be ejections, fines, and suspensions. As long as both open wheel series exist, there will never be peace. This is Israel and Palestine. Case in point: longtime CART stalwart and founder Pat Patrick is now planning on selling his team and moving to the IRL, all in the name of trying to win the big one again. Can you say Don Quixote chasing the windmills? Who will be wooed next? Rahal, Haas, Forsythe, Walker, etc. The standard line will be it is a business decision made by our sponsors and what is best for the future of our racing programs. What if way back when, Penske, Ganassi, Nunn, Green, Andretti, and Fernandez would have stood up for CART and the current mix of ovals, streets, roads, high tech, and turbos and said no to the IRL and their artificial/spec racing? This group of very powerful owners and businessmen carried a lot of influence with Honda and Toyota. You cannot convince me that if this group would have said no thank you, they may have saved the day. If we just would have had a group of "stand up guys" to say no to the IRL .Further, they could have forced the major manufacturers and sponsors hand by planting the CART flag and standing firm. But what we had was defection after defection, and the trashing of CART from those leaving and barbarians who got in the gate. NASCAR now rules the land and has "Super Wal-Marted" motorsports in the US. Open wheel racing is of no interest to really anybody! Nextel was in our series , and is now the title sponsor in NASCAR for 70 million a year for 10 years! Good god! That speaks volumes. And for those like Eddie Cheever still taking verbal shots at CART, Eddie what's in the Red Bull you are drinking? Wake up dude! You couldn't even fill the 33 car field at the supposed greatest race in the world. No one cares about the IRL either Eddie. Wake up!!!!! It is a sad state affairs that we have taken such a pure form of motorsports racing and degraded it to where we are today! Even if CART and OWRS pull it off, the attacks will continue and CART will continue in its siege mentality. God speed and good luck! Name with held by request.  Dear No-Name, You are correct and this is why we have proposed that CART's next generation of cars and engines be a total re-think and as far as possible from anything that smells, sounds or looks like an IRL car.  That formula is a complete and utter failure.  As you say, you can't Wal-Mart Open Wheel cars, they always have been and always shall be the best man can build, within reason.  That always was the allure of an open wheel car.  Any attempt to dumb down the formula only results in fan apathy (note the IRL's horrible TV ratings yet close finishes) and cars that fly like airplanes.  Mark C.

12/9/03

Whitmarsh and Richards back new resolution   Regarding the agreement reached last week on the future of F1 - "This is positive news which will go some way to reducing some of the speculation about the future of the sport," Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren managing director was quoted as saying in the Guardian. "If it had been announced that the parties were deadlocked it would have been very counter-productive at a time when we are trying to persuade future investors that the sport has a stable future."   British American Racing team boss Dave Richards agrees with Whitmarsh’s opinion, knowing that this outcome is in the best interests of the series as well as the millions of fans worldwide.   "It is encouraging news," he echoed. "At least they are saying positive things and not threatening to walk away from the table."

12/9/03

Canada is the key to CART's future   This Toronto Sun article makes a case for why Canada is key to CART's future, not only with its venues, but also with its drivers.  Now if Jacques Villeneuve comes back to CART, the author might just be right.

12/9/03

***Reader feedback***On next generation Champ Car   Dear AutoRacing1.com, I just got finished reading your article titled "CART Champ Cars, the next generation."   Bravo, what a brilliant idea.  I have to admit, Champ Car Racing fans have become somewhat complacent.  Their passion has been stunted by the downward spiral of the series and all the negative press it gets.  You are spot on about making Champ Cars America's version of F1, but cheaper by using "spec" just about everything.  The dumbed-down mentality of NASCAR has permeated all forms of motorsports in the USA, and that simply does not work for open wheel race cars, case in point, the complete and utter failure of the IRL concept.  We so very much need a series with cars that scream like a F1 car.  OK, so we can't afford 19,000 RPM engines but we darn can afford 15,000 RPM engines.  A V10, with its small, and hence lighter pistons, and short stroke can wind up and down through the RPM range much faster than a clunky 3.5-liter V8 like the IRL uses.  This contributed to the scream of a F1 engine.  Even in the days when the F1 engines were at 15,000 RPM they still screamed, just not quite the high pitch they do today.  And by all means, Lola should buy a year-old  F1 car design from, say,  McLaren or even Ferrari, and mass produce it at a low cost for the entire Champ Car grid.  Spec everything except for the engine.  It's critical that CART has multiple engine manufacturers.  I read another article on your website about having a spec engine badged by multiple manufacturers.  Well if CART can pull that off, I agree that would be wonderful, but opening it up to direct competition works too, but costs will soar, we know that.   Have Cosworth take their F1 V10 design from a few years ago and mass produce it for the entire grid as they do the current turbo V8. We don't need all the exotic materials inside. If the 2004 F1 engines turning 19,000+ RPM will last an entire race weekend,  a 15,000 RPM engine (same 3.0-liter capacity) should last two or three weekends.  It's high time America has an open wheel series that makes your blood boil with excitement and anyone who doesn't get chills down their spine when they hear a F1 V10 must already have one foot in the grave..  Joe Sensi, Philadelphia, PA

12/9/03

Porsche honors drivers  Rising sports car racing star Marc Lieb was honored with the 2003 Porsche Cup Award as the most successful privateer Porsche driver of the 2003 season. Lieb, who competed in selected American Le Mans Series races in 2003, was joined at an awards ceremony Saturday night in Germany by several ALMS drivers and officials of the series, as well as drivers from other forms of racing.

The German driver received a coveted silver-gold trophy and 37,000 Euros in prize money as the Porsche Cup champion.

The 23-year-old Lieb drove a Porsche 911 GT3 RS for Orbit Racing in American Le Mans Series competition in 2003 as well as in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team finished second in the GT class at Le Mans, with Leo Hindery and Peter Baron co-driving, while Lieb and Baron scored a third-place finish in the ALMS event at Canada's Mosport International Raceway for the team's best ALMS finish of the year. Lieb also won the N-GT category in Europe's FIA GT Series.

American Le Mans Series driver Kevin Buckler of Sonoma, Calif., finished second in the Porsche Cup standings after winning the award last year. Buckler, driver-owner of The Racers Group team, received 23,000 Euros as the runner-up.

Alex Job, owner of the GT class championship team in the American Le Mans Series, was recognized at the ceremony along with ALMS GT driving champions Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr. Job was also joined by Dale White of Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing as they were recognized for their combined effort that took first place in the GT class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Other regular drivers in the American Le Mans Series who finished in the top 15 in the Porsche Cup were David Murry, Atlanta, driver for J3 Racing, fifth; Cort Wagner, Pacific Palisades, Calif., The Racers Group, sixth; Johnny Mowlem, England, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, seventh; Craig Stanton, Long Beach, Calif., Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, eighth.

Also in the top 15 were Alex Caffi, Italy, PK Sport Porsche, 12th; Justin Jackson, Buford, Ga., J3 Racing, 13th; Peter Baron, Deerfield Beach, Fla., Orbit Racing, 14th; and Michael Schrom, Ghent, N.Y., The Racers Group, 15th.

Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series, and Doug Robinson, Executive Director of sanctioning body IMSA, attended the ceremony.  ALMS

12/9/03

Latest Formula One News Items  

Sato Fastest For BAR At Sodden Jerez
Sauber: It's Like Massa Has Never Been Away
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Awards: Montoya Beats Schumacher To The Line

BAR-Honda Owner Preparing To Sell F1 Team
Button Outlines Charge For 2005 F1 Crown
Jarama To Bid Again For Formula One?
BMW-Williams Want Double Crowns In 2004
Former F1 Champions Think Schu Should Stay
Borrow A Supercar From Ex-F1 Champ Damon Hill

12/8/03

Team Rahal set to test Stars of Tomorrow racers   Final preparations are underway for this week's Team Rahal Toyota Atlantic test of 2003 Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow champions Bobby Wilson and Robbie Pecorari. Each of the 2003 champions will participate in a half-day test on Wednesday and Thursday at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, South Carolina in the Team Rahal Argent Mortgage Toyota/Swift.

Team Rahal co-owner and three-time CART series champion Bobby Rahal will be on hand, as well as Team Rahal's Toyota Atlantic driver Danica Patrick. Rahal and Patrick, along with the entire Team Rahal Atlantic team, will work with the young drivers as they make their debut in the Atlantic car.

"We at Team Rahal are pleased to present the testing opportunity to Bobby and Robbie, an opportunity that they both richly deserve," said Rahal. "They both had fantastic seasons in their respective divisions and they both have a bright future ahead of them. I have always been a big supporter of the Champ Car ladder system of which the Stars of Tomorrow program is the inaugural step. Team Rahal has been involved with the Stars of Tomorrow program from the first year and we are proud to continue our involvement in helping develop the next generation of racing champions."

Bobby Wilson, a 22 year-old native of Dousman, Wis., captured the 125cc ICC category championship with five national Stars race wins in addition to a victory in the Grand Prix of Windsor. The winner of the 2003 Jim Trueman Scholarship Award, Wilson is already committed to running the 18-race Formula Ford 2000 Zetec championship for Cape Motorsports of St. Petersburg, Florida, as part of his 2004 racing program.

"The chance to test the Team Rahal Toyota Atlantic car is awesome," said Wilson. "I've always wanted to drive one of those cars and it is great that the Stars of Tomorrow program gives a karting racer the opportunity to get behind the wheel of that kind of machine."

The second recipient is Robbie Pecorari, a 16 year-old native of Aston, Pa., who captured the 100cc ICA category championship with five Stars national wins, including four of the first five events of the season. Pecorari failed to finish on the podium only once in nine events this season.

"I am really excited to drive the Toyota Atlantic car," said Pecorari. "It has been one of my goals to get into one of those cars and this chance should be a thrill. Now that I am moving into cars next year, this opportunity will be very good experience. I want to thank Team Rahal and the Stars program for this chance."

12/8/03

***Reader Comment****Tick Tick Tick, CART's days are numbered   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, It's already December 8th and we're not even sure there is going to be a CART much longer.  Meanwhile all other series are already testing for 2004 and making plans and selling race tickets.  As a fan I am thoroughly disgusted with the way this entire buyout was handled.  It has drug on so long they have completely run the company into the ground.  If I didn't know better I would think that OWRS was just a plot to once and for all put the final nail in CART's coffin.  This entire buyout should have happened months ago while CART still looked like something respectable.  Frankly, CART is such damaged goods at this point I don't see it ever making a comeback.  Tick Tick Tick. I think this bomb is about to blow up.  Matt Joseph, Atlanta, Georgia  Dear Matt, Gerald Forsythe would never be a part of OWRS if it was contrived to put CART to bed once and for all.  We will just have to see what happens.  The buyout has taken much longer than anyone imagined and, yes, CART is damaged goods.  The only saving grace will be if OWRS has some big positive announcements to make once the buyout is approved.  It will need some blockbuster ones to wipe the severely tarnished image of CART clean.  Short of that, OWRS will need a miracle from above.  At this point most fans are disgusted and have turned their attention to other things.  Mark C.

12/8/03

Sato leads Monday testing at rainy Jerez  Takuma Sato went fastest on a day cut short by rain in Jerez, but can lay claim to have beaten Ferrari. Sato was once again in BAR's “concept car," and was joined by the team's test driver Anthony Davidson, who was at the wheel of the 2003 model. They did 120 laps between them and were the only team to have done any substantial work today, albeit on intermediate tires and extreme-weather tires.   Tomorrow most of the Formula One grid arrives at the circuit to begin testing.  It should be interesting.
Jerez testing day 1:
Pos Driver Car Time Laps
1 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda 1m25.938s 51
2 Luca Badoer Ferrari 1m26.275s 12
3 Felipe Massa Sauber-Petronas 1m26.280s 36
4 Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda 1m26.723s 69

12/8/03

Motoyama to get Renault test  Japanese GT and Formula Nippon champion Satoshi Motoyama will take the wheel of the Renault R23B this week at Jerez. Since Renault and Nissan are joined at the hip on the commercial side, the Nissan driver will have the opportunity to conduct a full day’s test in the Renault.  “This is a wonderful opportunity,” commented Motoyama. “I have had a fantastic year, and the F1 test is the perfect way to round it off. I drove an F1 car in anger for the first time at Suzuka, and I am looking forward to this next challenge. I want to do a professional job for the team and learn from the experience in a competitive car. After winning the GT championship for Nissan this year, it will be fun finding out what a race-winning Renault is like!”  Motoyama will test on the afternoon of December 9 and the morning of December 10.

12/8/03

British GP moves to July 11th  The British Grand Prix 2004 will take place one week later than scheduled as it takes up the space left on the calendar by the French Grand Prix. Silverstone today announced that tickets for the 2004 British Grand Prix, now on the weekend 9th-11th July 2004, have gone on sale. Organizers of the British event have also announced a revised pricing structure to give spectators extra value-for-money.

12/8/03

Final testing of 2003 this week  The final F1 testing sessions for 2003 will get underway this week at Jerez.  Meanwhile, the European Minardi Cosworth team will stage a three-day test at Vallelunga on December 10, 11 and 12. The team will take two PS03 chassis to the Italian circuit, situated near Rome, with the dual aim of conducting driver evaluations and carrying out a detailed technical program. Among those scheduled to test are Argentina’s José Maria Lopez, Heikki Kovalainen, from Finland, both of whom tested for RenaultF1 last week at Barcelona and Italy’s Fabrizio Del Monte, although there is a possibility the trio may be joined by one or two other drivers.

12/8/03
Industry News

Autosport Awards  The following were winners in this year's prestigious Autosport Award:

Gregor Grant Award (special): Alex Zanardi
BRDC Medal: Martin Brundle
International Driver: Juan Pablo Montoya
John Bolster: Ralph Firman Sr
Gregor Grant Award: Fernando Alonso
McLaren BRDC Award: Alex Lloyd
John Bolster: Ferrari
BRDC Award: Gil de Ferran
BRDC Stars: David Coulthard and James Thompson
British Driver: Jenson Button
Racing Car: Bentley Speed 8
Rookie: Dan Wheldon
Intl Rally Driver: Solberg
Natl Driver: Nelson Piquet Jr
Rally Car: Citroën Xsara
Natl Rally: Martin Rowe
Club Driver: Lewis Hamilton

12/8/03

Wheldon wins Autosport award  Dan Wheldon flew to London from the USA over the weekend and promptly picked up yet another Rookie of the Year award!   The 25-year old English IRL IndyCar Series star was named the Autosport.com Rookie of the Year at the prestigious AUTOSPORT Awards in London on Sunday evening - a prize voted in an on-line poll on the Autosport.com website.

The Briton caused a stir driving for Andretti Green Racing in the all-oval American series this year, winning the IRL's own Bombardier Rookie of the Year award, despite not competing in the first two races of the 2003 season.

Jaguar Racing F1 driver Mark Webber presented the award to Wheldon - after the Australian took a small amount of flak following his country's loss to England in the recent Rugby World Cup final!

Talking about his triumph, the Briton said: 'Andretti Green is a fantastic team. Michael Andretti is a tough boss, but he's good. I enjoyed it all a lot, and I'm looking forward to next year.'

12/8/03

Latest Formula One News Items  

Rosberg Grabs F1 Future With Both Hands
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Montoya Promises 'Great Things' In 2004
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BAR Boss Blames Bridgestone
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BAR Issued Villeneuve With 'Gag Order'
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Britain Needs To Develop Local Talent: JYS
Work Progressing On New Pitlane Entrance
Chinese Ace To Drive F1 Car This Week
Jordan's Robinson Praises Heidfeld

12/8/03

McAlpine calls CART The Roach Motel   UPDATE A reader responds to McAlpine remarks - Dear AutoRacing1.com, With regard to Dennis McAlpine comments about CART - Well now, Dennis McAlpine has weighed in with his own special take on the series we called CART. Bear Sterns aside he is just one of many who have been taken in with the madness of King George as well as the false promises of the Earl’s DDR, Dumbed Down Racing.

As a Producer/ Director who has a made a fine, damn fine, living in Film and Television I am saddened as well as sickened by supposedly intelligent folk siding with the IRL. I wouldn't give two nickels for their TV rights on this or any other year. With everything they have tried, with the two biggest engine suppliers in the sport and with the supposed "big names" of CART driving for them their TV ratings are somewhere south of Pasadena and anyone who says differently believes we are winning in Iraq and by the way I've got a Bridge in Brooklyn I'll let you have for cheap.....really.

In addition, as a racing fan and former Formula Ford racer I am disgusted that important racing folk think it's okay to side with the IRL and their low revving, hideous looking junk. Imagine how slow they would seem at Long Beach, woof.

And if I hear it's about the money one more time. These guys, Penske, Ganassi et al should be ASHAMED of what they have done to Open Wheel and Road Racing in America. I was lucky enough to be at Miami when Paul Newman laid down the law and basically told his team that he would not be going into the IRL but if anyone wanted to they were welcome, including a certain someone whose name is featured next to Newmans Own.

Mr. McAlpine should worry about a very underperforming stock market which in this investors opinion resembles a roach motel one hell of a lot more then CART/OWRS or Formula America which is what it should be called.  AutoRacing1.com is a light that shines in the darkness even if that light occasionally reveals Roach Motel managers.  Adam Friedman, Producer/ Director Mario Andretti A&E Biography and 2003 EMMY nominee   12/7/03 - In this St. Petersburg Times article, Dennis McAlpine, A stock analyst says, Though it ditched the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, Dover Motorsports still owns one of the most prestigious open-wheel races in the world, the CART-sanctioned Long Beach Grand Prix, a bargaining chip should it wish to switch to the IRL. If CART is unable to fulfill its contract and field 18 cars for Long Beach, which is now slated as the CART opener on April 18, the Dover's Grand Prix Association, which promotes the Long Beach race, could void its contract with CART.

"They would just as soon stay with CART because Long Beach has worked," McAlpine said. "St. Pete and Denver, Dover probably couldn't care less. They could probably move Long Beach to the IRL and the other two would die."

McAlpine does not think CART's problems will necessarily end with new owners and a name change. After the season-ending CART race was canceled at Fontana, Calif., on Nov.2, ostensibly because of wildfires in the area, CART refused to refund a $2.5-million sanctioning fee. California Speedway is suing to recoup the money.

"Nobody is going to pay CART a sanctioning fee," McAlpine said. "It's like the Roach Motel. You can check your money in, but it's never coming out. Right now, Dover is looking at a drop-dead date of mid-January for Long Beach. If they don't get that moving, who would put up money for a CART race then?"

12/7/03

St. Pete can be ready   We dispatched our Paul Josephson to St. Petersburg to survey the situation should CART decide to reschedule the 2004 event.  He reports that all signs indicate that it could easily be transformed into last year's track again. The track edges have the same noticeable red line and the section through the baseball parking lot has moveable planters that block the entrance and exits. The only major things missing are the walls/fencing and bridges. Hopefully, the race will happen again sometime in 2004, though the city is reluctant to do it during baseball's Spring Training season and that's rather understandable given the baseball stadium being inside the track.  Spring Training is over in late March, but after the Long Beach opener CART has three open weekends in its schedule and St. Pete could happen on May 2nd.  Looking at the schedule, that's the only weekend that really works and it fits nicely mid-way between LB and Las Vegas.

12/7/03

IRL car gets road course tryout  On November 26th at Suzuka, Toyota held its Toyota Motorsports Festival 2003.  As can be seen from the photos below, Tora Takagi got to drive his IndyCar on the Suzuka track along with Cristiano da Matta in the F1 Toyota. 


(Left) Takagi and da Matta stand in formation during the ceremonies.  (Center) Da Matta does sliding spins while Takagi watches in amazement.  (Right) Takagi moves over as Da Matta laps him.  Note all the front wing dialed into Takagi's IndyCar.  They look like sails on a sail boat.  An IRL car has such large wings to plant them to the track that when air gets under them the cars take flight like a fighter jet with afterburners on.

12/7/03

Puma strikes deal with WilliamsF1  PUMA(R) AG and BMW WilliamsF1 Team today announced that they have signed a multi-year contract. PUMA AG will become the official supplier of footwear, teamwear and fireproof racewear to the BMW WilliamsF1 Team. "We look forward to working with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, which is part of the Formula One elite", says Jochen Zeitz, CEO and Chairman of PUMA AG. "The BMW WilliamsF1 Team has finished second for two years running and will certainly challenge for the championship in 2004. The team also nicely combines high-performance with lifestyle, which fits perfectly with PUMA's brand philosophy." Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director is looking forward to the cooperation with PUMA: "The demands on a Formula One Team are very high. The right clothing is an important factor in that. Whether you are racing in the subtropical climate of Malaysia, under typical German weather conditions or whether you are traveling from and to races - quality, functionality and design of the teamwear must be right."

12/7/03

How CART spun out of control   This National Post/Financial Post article says, History, legacy and the promise of good entertainment was supposed to keep Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc. in business.  In the end, the opposite proved true: Infighting among racing circles and a dwindling fan base have brought the company that organizes racing events such as the Molson Indy Vancouver to a hard crash.  This week, CART announced a proposed takeover by Open Wheel Racing Series LLC was likely to fall through and it may have to declare bankruptcy and cease operations.  Moreover, Open Wheel, whose investors are a group of CART team owners and race promoters, said it would buy certain assets of CART should it declare bankruptcy.  "Open Wheel Racing is going to coerce the company, and will just pick the bones from the CART skeleton," said analyst Dennis McAlpine of McAlpine and Associates. "I wouldn't want to do business with them."......After Indy-car racing split into the two circuits, fan interest began to wane and by 2001, no major U.S. television network was interested in broadcasting any of CART's races.  Revenue has declined, from US$75-million in 2000 to US$57.2-million in 2002. But even worse for the company was soaring costs, which almost doubled from US$25.9-million in 2000 to US$52.3-million in 2002.  As a result, losses have piled up: In 1999, CART made a US$18.9-million profit. But by 2002, the firm took a US$14.5-million loss.  Mr. McAlpine said the size of the cars has impacted revenue. Indy cars, which are lightweight with a specially designed chassis, have less surface area on them for advertisers than do NASCAR stock cars, which use conventional car chassis.  Moreover, race watchers say the schism between the Indy Racing League and CART has hampered the Indy-car industry for all. The bitter feud has split fans, divided the circuit.  Several racing teams have made high-profile defections from CART to other circuits. Roger Penske, who owns a team with Gil de Ferran as one of his drivers, moved to the rival Indy Racing League for the 2002 racing season. Later that summer, CART racer Christian Fittipaldi said he would switch to NASCAR.  The schism has even divided family loyalties. Mario Andretti, a former CART racer, continues to be a CART proponent, while his son Michael has been pushing the upstart IRL circuit.  "The split has killed open-wheel racing," said Derek Daly, who calls CART races for the cable network Speed TV. "It gave a heart attack to CART that it has yet to recover from. Meanwhile, NASCAR has found a way to emotionally engage the fan, while both CART and Indy Racing League have alienated them."   More....

12/7/03

BAR targets reliability in 2004  BAR's technical director Geoff Willis is focusing the team on reliability next season.   “Reliability is the top priority for us for next season,” said Willis. “The concept car gives us the opportunity to run the 2004 engine, gearbox and essentially all of the other complicated mechanical systems much earlier than would be the case if we waited for the 2004 chassis.  It also allows us to evaluate a few other parts of the car such as the new hydraulics system in advance of waiting for the new car. By running those reliability-critical parts early it gives us the ability to release the 2004 car later.  We can therefore spend more time on the performance development of the new car before setting anything in stone.  We didn't have fundamental problems last year, but we did have reliability issues," continued Willis. "Strangely enough we were one of the most reliable teams on Friday and Saturday but then we'd get problems on Sunday.  As a result we've really concentrated on procedures and getting on top of any faults much earlier in the process.”  The probability is that we'll take the new car to Melbourne but we will review the situation nearer the time.” They might take the concept car instead.

12/6/03

***Reader Question***Why can't  they race in the rain?   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I noticed there was a lot of rain in Europe this week and it affected most of the tracks where the F1 drivers were testing.  I didn't hear of too many problems.  Those F1 drivers really can drive in the rain.  How come CART drivers can't race in the rain, they always play follow the leader behind the pace car as soon as a few raindrops fall.  Ron LeFleur, Dearborn, MI  Dear Ron, European trained drivers are the best in the world.  Testing goes on, rain or shine.  Here in the USA, if it rains during testing, the teams pack up and go home.  CART drivers have very little practice in the wet.  To make matters worse, CART's rain tires are rock hard, using them is like driving on glass when it rains.  CART may as well just throw the red flag and come back another day when it rains.  And then when they do try to race in the rain, a full course yellow comes out for even the slightest mishap making their races into boring parades.  As it stands right now, CART should just give up on wet races.  Those heavy, overweight behemoth Champ Cars on hard rain tires tiptoe around the circuit like Grandma going to Sunday Church.  It's almost too painful to watch.  Bridgestone has such a great F1 rain tire, far better than Michelin's, but the one they supply for the CART series is dreadful.  If CART were to adopt F1 tires and wheels with their next generation car, then F1 and CART could share tires.  F1 teams and drivers welcome the challenge of a wet race.  The late great Ayrton Senna was the ultimate rain master.  Michael Schumacher is good in the wet as well.  It's the ultimate test of driver skill.  However, CART just gives it lip service. Let's hope CART can convince Bridgestone to bring some of their F1 rain tire technology and apply it to the Champ Car rain tire. Mark C.

12/6/03

Plans made to honor Senna   The death of Ayrton Senna will be commemorated by a number of events at next year's San Marino Grand Prix. The three-time Formula One champion was killed in a high-speed crash during the San Marino GP on May 1, 1994. Senna was killed when he crashed after losing control of his Williams-Renault while leading the race, for which he had taken pole position. Organizers of the race, to be held at the Imola track near Bologna, said there would be 10 days of ceremonies. These would include a friendly football match between former Brazilian World Cup stars and F1 drivers, and a show of cars Senna drove during his career.

12/6/03

CART Stars announces 2004 schedule  The Snap-On Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow presented by RACER national karting series announced today an exciting 2004 racing schedule that includes some of the most legendary race tracks in America as well as new facilities and a special international marquee event on the karting calendar.  More.....

12/6/03

Daré has more surgery  IndyCar Series veteran Airton Daré, who was brutally injured and suffered a broken upper right arm and broken upper right leg in a crash during practice June 5 at Texas Motor Speedway, had follow-up surgery on his right hip Dec. 3 at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, said Dr. Henry Bock.

12/6/03

Ralf driving a hard bargain with Williams   Ralf Schumacher's contract with Williams expires at the end of 2004, however no renewal has yet been signed and Williams has already lost Montoya to McLaren.  A source close to the Oxfordshire based team, reportedly told Bild: "Frank's patience is at an end."  According to reports by the German tabloid newspaper, Ralf is demanding $15 million per year when his current deal expires, Williams meanwhile are prepared only to pay $9 million.  Ralf told the newspaper: "My goal for 2005 is of course to have a better contract than the current one. I am happy with the BMW WilliamsF1 team, however there are other strong teams too."  Montoya was only making a fraction of what Schumacher was making so he left.

12/6/03

Rain almost washes out Jerez testing   Dismal weather ruined Friday testing at Jerez.  Vast amounts of water fell to earth during the night, with hardly a let-up until mid-afternoon today.  Here are test notes and times for the day. More.....

12/6/03

R24: Producing the composites   Once the moulds and templates have been produced for a F1 car, the production of the chassis proper begins in the operating theatre like-atmosphere of the composites department. More.....

12/6/03

***Reader Comment***On Eddie Cheever's CART is dead comment  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, It appears from the certainty of his comments in the Arizona Republic that Eddie Cheever has some inside information on the inner workings of CART. If so, his selective leaking of this information to the public - why only to the AZ Republic and not to the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times and every other newspaper in the nation - could get him into trouble with the Securities Exchange Commission.

Or perhaps Mr. Cheever doesn't have a clue, and is just shooting off his gob again. As that is almost certainly the case, the AZ Republic should have noted prominently not only that the IRL team owner is engaging in pure speculation, but that his speculation is severely tainted by his conflicted interests. Because in his feeble mind, Cheever seems to believe that if he can badmouth CART, OWRS and its teams, he will have less competition for sponsorship dollars in the coming months. Of course, that shouldn't really concern a racer with such impressive credentials as the Great Eddie. After all, he has always been able to sign on the big-name sponsors like Rachel's Potato Chips for his Indy (or was it the Wimpy) 500 win in 1998.

It also sounds like another piece of stellar journalism about the state of open-wheel racing in the United States. If these so-called reporters are looking for stories, why aren't they asking why so many drivers are getting hurt in the IRL? Why aren't they asking whether the IRL has delivered on its flag-draped propaganda? Why aren't they asking where the shade-tree mechanics are operating in the IRL these days? Why aren't they asking why it seems that foreign road racers are getting the best rides in the IRL when it was designed to keep the likes of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart in open-wheel racing? Why aren't they asking that if the IRL is so successful why fans increasingly ignore it both on television and in person - including the Phoenix race that today draws about 1/6th the number of fans that the last CART race did, despite the marketing muscle of ISC promoting the race? And why aren't they asking that if CART goes away as Eddie and the IRL are saying - while the people seemingly really in the know are saying quite the opposite - whether the IRL can expect a windfall of new fans from CART?

Still, you have to hand it to the IRL PR department. They have done a very effective job of controlling the debate on open-wheel racing in America. They seemingly have every cub sports reporter - and quite a few veterans who are acting like cub reporters out of negligence or sheer laziness - in the US asking negative questions only about CART and accepting without question the hyperbole, falsehoods and self-interested crap of the IRL and its mouthpieces like Eddie Cheever. On the other hand, they haven't been very successful at building a core fan base, despite the misinformation they distribute. But that's another question that a reporter with some initiative, an inquisitive mind and a reluctance to accept the word of PR flaks might use in a truly useful story.  James Allen, Virginia 

Dear James, Stop it, you make too much sense.  Seriously though, NASCAR's popularity has skyrocketed since the creation of the IRL.  CART was very strong in 1995 and getting stronger, but they were becoming increasingly a road racing series.  ISC and the NASCAR family were not happy about that because they were in the large stadium style oval track business and so was Tony George because he owned the most famous oval of all, the Indy Speedway.  So they formed a close reliance that we call the oval track cartel, a very rich cartel.  With their deep pockets they have focused on growing the oval track business while all the road racing series in the USA, by virtue of having all the money sucked out of them by the rich and powerful oval track cartel and their many business connections, have faltered - CART, Trans-Am and ALMS. 

It's worked for NASCAR because how can anyone question their success?  Unfortunately it has destroyed open wheel racing in the USA.  Tony George thought his oval track based IRL could grow in popularity like NASCAR was.  The series even adopted specifications that artificially created close "pack" racing like we see in NASCAR, only they failed to realize they were 1) playing right into the France family's hands because look at where Indy Style racing is today compared to where it was in 1995, and 2) the poor hapless IRL drivers, the real victims in this war, are getting injured at an alarming rate by following the money right past the grave.

Imagine how powerful and popular CART would be today if Tony had taken all the money he has thrown down the drain with his IRL series and instead created 3 or 4 CART teams dedicated to running American drivers.  CART and their Indy Style racing series would still be running neck and neck with NASCAR in the ratings race, and Tony's Indy 500 would have been one of the prime benefactors.  In life sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're the bug. Tony chose the wrong horse to side with and as a result, Indy Style Racing has been splattered like a bug on a windshield, which is probably what poor old Kenny Brack felt like when he awoke from his horrifying wreck at Texas.  He wasn't the first and he certainly won't be the last.  Mark C.

12/6/03

***Reader Comment***Why Pat, why?  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Is it just me or is it sad that Pat Patrick is trying to get out of CART? For what the INDY 500 and Little Al? At least he isn't pulling the same stuff Penske, and Chip, did saying it was sponsor pressure. It is also better than Michael saying it wasn't sponsors and Honda money when everybody knew it was. I just can't believe he would leave CART for what - -  the INDY 500 and Lil Al.  INDY is a joke these days and Lil Al has been a joke for about the last 5 or 6 years. As far as I am concerned he can leave because it gets rid of some more of the deadwood. Same goes for Carl Haas if that is what he wants to do. Just keep Paul Newman and the drivers. Chris Matulewski-Phipps, Dear Chris, Like everything else in life, if you can't understand something, follow the money....it will lead you right to the answer.  In this case, our sources tell us Chevy is offering to pay Patrick $7 million to run Little Al in his farewell tour.  $7 million is enough to cover all expenses and then some for a single car team, so in essence Patrick is getting a 100% free ride.  From what we hear, all the team owners who left CART got similar deals either from the engine manufacturers or from Tony George.  It's been a concerted effort by the oval track cartel to pluck the CART paddock dry of all its best teams and drivers, and so far they are batting almost 1,000......batting 1,000 and they all struck out.  All that money in the IRL paddock and all they have to show for it are IRL TV ratings that are dropping like a lead balloon,  flat attendance, they are destroying cars at an alarming rate against those hard concrete walls and their drivers are spending a lot of sheet time in hospital beds. A sad state of affairs for Indy Car Racing......while NASCAR and the France family laugh all the way to the bank.  Mark C.

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