Hot News

Thanks for visiting our Hot News page  Please visit our Rumors page for all the scuttlebutt.  If you have some news, or can supply more information about one listed here, e-mail us with as much supporting information as possible and we may post it.  User agreement & disclaimer. Newer rumors supercede older ones of the same topic.  Go to our forums to discuss any hot news.

Go to our forums to discuss this news.

DATE

News (chronologically)

1/7/04

Business is booming in South Korea  FedEx, the world's largest overnight package-delivery company, has added seven flights a week to Incheon International Airport, South Korea's biggest, to meet increasing freight demand. FedEx increased its weekly flights to Incheon, which serves Seoul, to 20 yesterday, South Korea's finance ministry said. The government has been trying to promote the country as a financial and logistics hub by making Incheon airport and Busan port into cargo centers for north Asia. Five of the new weekly flights will be direct services from Subic Bay in the Philippines, FedEx's Asian distribution centre.

1/7/04

Radical Williams tops timesheets in Jerez  Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya lapped fastest as Williams' new Formula One car made a promising test debut on Wednesday. Montoya lapped the Jerez circuit in southern Spain with a best time of one minute 16.630 seconds, more than a second quicker than Brazilian Ricardo Zonta in a Toyota, and completed 51 laps.

"We've concentrated on trying a variety of different set ups and collecting initial data from the car," said Williams chief operations engineer Sam Michael.

"Naturally, we have encountered one or two teething problems, as you would expect with a new car, but Juan managed to complete some good mileage."

Montoya's initial reaction was also positive. "The car doesn't feel a lot different from last year's," he said after that first run in Valencia. "I think we have a potentially excellent car."

Driver

Team

T

Laps

Time

Gap

Montoya

WilliamsF1

M

47

1:16.630

116.064 mph

Zonta

Toyota

M

72

1:17.984

1.354

Trulli

Renault

M

99

1:18.092

1.462

Gene

WilliamsF1

M

41

1:18.099

1.469

Montagny

Renault

M

90

1:18.424

1.794

Massa

Ferrari

B

60

1:19.002

2.372

Badoer

Ferrari

B

60

1:19.207

2.577

Panis

Toyota

M

47

1:19.377

2.747

1/7/04

GM reaction to Joe Gibbs coaching Redskins   "Joe Gibbs was with the Washington Redskins when we first began to build a team with him in the early 1990's," said Doug Duchardt, Director of GM Racing. "Since forming Joe Gibbs Racing in 1991, Gibbs has executed his racing organization with the same special leadership skills that brought him success in the NFL. In the past four seasons, Joe Gibbs Racing has given NASCAR championships to both Pontiac and Chevrolet. GM Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing have enjoyed an excellent relationship. With J.D. Gibbs maintaining his role as team president, we have every confidence that JGR will continue to be a great partner. We wish Joe all the best in his return venture with the Washington Redskins."

1/7/04

ArcaEx to sponsor Franchitti   Andretti Green Racing announced today it has reached an agreement with the Archipelago Exchange (ArcaEx) to become a major sponsor on Dario Franchitti's #27 Honda-powered Dallara during the 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar™ Series season. ArcaEx, which is an open, all-electronic stock exchange, backed the #27 entry in 2003, which used four different drivers en route to posting one win, seven top-fives, nine top-10s and a sixth-place ranking in the final 2003 IndyCar Series entrant points. "It's great to be able to announce that ArcaEx is not only continuing its relationship with Andretti Green Racing, but is becoming a major sponsor," said Kevin Savoree, who owns the team along with partners Michael Andretti and Kim Green. "ArcaEx stuck with us through a lot of adversity this past season and was a valuable partner every step of the way. "As a team owner, it's gratifying to see a sponsor grow their involvement each year and take advantage of what your team has to offer," said Savoree. "ArcaEx has been with us for three years now and works harder every year to make sure its sponsorship is as effective as it can possibly be." "ArcaEx has been able to leverage it's sponsorship with Andretti Green Racing to give our customers - traders and exchange-listed companies - a unique experience at the races," said Archipelago CEO Jerry Putnam. "We believe in competition, both on the race track and in the equities market, so our affiliation with a highly-competitive race team is a perfect fit." Franchitti started the 2003 season in the Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, but was injured in an off-track incident in Scotland after the second race of the season. Dan Wheldon filled in for Franchitti in Japan, while NASCAR driver Robby Gordon took over the controls at Indianapolis and qualified the car on the outside of front row for the Indianapolis 500. Following Indy, veteran Bryan Herta stepped in and drove the car the remainder of the season with the exception of the Pikes Peak event, which saw Franchitti return for one race before opting for season-ending back surgery. Herta hauled in the lion's share of the results this season over the course of his 11 starts, posting six top-fives, including a win in the Kansas Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway.

1/7/04

Legal firm to sponsor NASCAR teams   Starting a unique sports marketing initiative in 2004, one of the country's fastest-growing legal firms will become the most active car sponsor in NASCAR racing. Jenkins, Jenkins & Jenkins, P.A., a top personal injury firm based in La Plata, will sponsor three NASCAR Nextel Cup teams, three NASCAR Busch Grand National teams, and four NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams this season. These associate sponsorships make the firm the first legal firm to be involved in motorsports sponsorship on a full-time basis, and make it one of the very few companies of any type to sponsor teams in all three divisions. Their involvement with 10 teams will be greater than any car sponsor in the sport.

"The brand loyalty of NASCAR fans and the marketing power of stock car racing is well-documented," said Frank P. Jenkins, who along with his brother Louis P. Jenkins, Jr. are partners in the law firm established 50 years ago by their father. If motorsports can help guide consumers to soft drinks or cell phone services, then something that can be vitally important such as legal assistance should be a part of it as well from a marketing standpoint," he added.

BAM Racing, which fields the #49 Dodge of driver Ken Schrader, will be sponsored by Jenkins, Jenkins & Jenkins the entire 2004 season. The logo will also appear on the #02 Score Motorsports NASCAR Nextel Cup entry of driver Hermie Sadler in selected events, while also appearing on Sadler's NASCAR Busch Series entry. In addition, the #0 NetZero car of driver Ward Burton will carry the firm's logo in the four NASCAR Nextel Cup races at Dover, Del., and Richmond, Va., while the #00 Haas/CNC Busch entry of driver Jason Leffler will carry the Jenkins colors throughout the season. The #77 Moy Racing-owned Busch Grand National entry of driver Donnie Neuenberger will be sponsored the entire year, as will the Bobby Hamilton-owned #4 and #18 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entries; the #38 Cure Autism Now Ford Truck of driver Brandon Whitt; and the #21 Innovative Motorsports Toyota Truck of driver Hank Parker, Jr.

1/7/04

Wednesday AM test times from Daytona  

1. Michael Waltrip, No. 15 Chevrolet, 48.418 seconds, 185.881 mph
2. Joe Nemechek, No. 01a Chevrolet, 48.694, 184.828
3. Dale Jarrett, No. 88a Ford, 48.699, 184.809
4. Jamie McMurray, No. 42h Dodge, 48.715, 184.748
5. Jeff Green, No. 43b Dodge, 48.748, 184.623
6. Jeremy Mayfield, No. 19b Dodge, 48.789, 184.468
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8b Chevrolet, 48.823, 184.339
8. Mark Martin, No. 6a Ford, 48.827, 184.324
9. Brendan Gaughan, No. 77a Dodge, 48.828, 184.320
10. Tony Stewart, No. 20b Chevrolet, 48.852, 184.230
11. Scott Wimmer, No. 22a Dodge, 48.877, 184.136
12. Kurt Busch, No. 97a Ford, 48.927, 183.948
13. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Chevrolet, 49.024, 183.584
14. Ricky Craven, No. 32a Chevrolet, 49.033, 183.550
15. Matt Kenseth, No. 17a Ford, 49.035, 183.542
16. Ward Burton, No. 0b Chevrolet, 49.054, 183.471
17. Kasey Kahne, No. 9b Dodge, 49.268, 182.674

1/7/04

Roush and Yates merging engine building business   Two of the biggest names in NASCAR racing, car owners Robert Yates and Jack Roush, are merging their engine-building operations, in a stunning development for the two long-time rivals. The move comes, Roush said, to meet the challenge of a tremendous influx of European Formula One technology into stock-car racing over the past 18 months and the pending Toyota challenge. At the moment, the Roush-Yates merger involves only engine technology, but sources said that the opportunity is now there for much tighter work between the two Ford camps - Yates, with drivers Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler, and Roush, with drivers Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle. "Ford has encouraged Robert and me to have a 'technology transfer' to become competitive with what Toyota is bringing and what Chevrolet is doing and what Dodge has done," Roush said. The Ford thing has been disjointed. Robert and I didn't cooperate, and Ford was not in a position to carry any amount of meaningful technology to both of us, even though both of us were being funded for different projects. The agreement was to help our programs singularly, but that is just not going to work going forward, because you can't have half a program and get the whole result. So we're working to organize how to build better engines by taking both programs and putting them together. Beyond that there are discussions that could lead to deeper involvements, but those aren't finalized at this point." Some crewmen sense an even deeper merger of the two camps may be looming.  Winston Salem Journal

1/7/04

Gentilozzi has high hopes for CART  This Detroit Free Press article says, While Paul Gentilozzi wouldn't say a merger of CART and the IRL was in the works, he did say he had spoken recently to Tony George, who has snatched a number of teams, drivers and engine suppliers from CART in the past few years.

"It may seem strange, but Tony is a friend of mine," Gentilozzi said. "We've been talking, and that's always good."

Gentilozzi dismissed suggestions that George would make a counter bid to purchase CART.

"He will not do that," Gentilozzi said. "He's not that type of guy."

If Gentilozzi's group, which calls itself Open Wheel Racing Series, purchases CART, Gentilozzi is confident it can be successful this year. Sixteen races have been confirmed, Gentilozzi said, with the first event scheduled for April 18 at Long Beach, Calif.

"I believe 100 percent in the product," Gentilozzi said. "I think we can be profitable again."

Gentilozzi said Open Wheel Racing was negotiating a television contract. Although races will not be shown on the Speed Channel as in past years, Gentilozzi said Spike TV could replace it.

"We'll have a better contract than last year," he said.

In his second year as a CART team owner, Gentilozzi again will put Canadian Alex Tagliani in the No. 33 Johnson Controls Lola/Ford. Last year, Tagliani had three top-three finishes, won two poles and placed 10th in the series points race.

"I feel confident about this season," Gentilozzi said. "We led some laps last year and had a solid seventh- and eighth-place car at a lot of races. We've made a few changes on the engineering side and had the new car in the wind tunnel in England. I think we're a lot smarter now."

While owning a race series, running a race team and conducting a real estate business, Gentilozzi expects to race at least four of five times in Trans-Am this year.

"I'd like to get in there and cause a little trouble," he said. "Maybe run a couple of endurance events, too."

1/7/04

Ferrari wins domain name battle  Formula One team Ferrari has won a legal battle over an internet domain name. In a little over one month from registering a complaint against the registered holder of the domain name f1.Ferrari.com, Ferrari won the domain name.

1/7/04

The End of an Era - the last of the Winston signs come down at Daytona   Work crews continue to remove Winston signs from the Daytona International Speedway complex. Nextel Signage is scheduled to be erected as follows:

Jan 8 and Jan. 9: Infield Trylons
Jan. 12: Tunnel Entrance Awning

1/7/04

Johnson Controls renews with Rocketsports  Johnson Controls (NYSE:JCI) today announced its continued sponsorship of Lansing, Michigan-based Rocketsports Racing in the 2004 Champ Car World Series. Brian Kesseler, group vice president and general manager of customer business units for the Automotive Group of Johnson Controls, and Rocketsports team owner, Paul Gentilozzi announced their return to the premier open-wheel racing series with ambitious plans for the upcoming season.

The automotive systems and facility management and controls leader entered Champ Car competition in 2003 with the No. 33 Johnson Controls Lola driven by Alex Tagliani.

Tagliani took the young team to the podium three times, secured two pole positions and finished a strong tenth in the championship standings.

Johnson Controls and Rocketsports Racing share a rich history, which started in 1998, with support of Rocketsports in what is now known as the Motorock Trans-Am Tour. An accomplished driver, Gentilozzi earned three Trans-Am championship titles for Johnson Controls and holds numerous Tour records. Gentilozzi has now shifted his primary focus from the cockpit to pit lane, directing the open-wheel team efforts.


"Johnson Controls is pleased to join Paul Gentilozzi and the Rocketsports team for a second Champ Car season," said Brian Kesseler, group vice president and general manager of customer business units for the Automotive Group of Johnson Controls. "Through our involvement, we're able to enhance our relationships with key customers and gain new opportunities."

"Involvement in the Champ Car World Series has taken Rocketsports Racing and Johnson Controls to new levels of competition and business relationships," said Gentilozzi. "We are excited and proud to continue to build on the foundations we have established in our first season and plan to further utilize the opportunities available to us through racing."

"Johnson Controls has been an effective and supportive part of our Champ Car effort," continued Gentilozzi. "They have become an integral part of the team and have been involved in many aspects of the competition, making the most of their sponsorship and access to the team and paddock."

1/7/04

Woman responsible for radical Williams aero design  Antonia Terzi, the woman in charge of the radical aerodynamic package on the FW26 came up through the ranks at Ferrari, before jumping ship to the Grove team. She joined Williams’ team of aerodynamicists for the 2002 season and played a major role in evolving the concept of last year’s FW25. Terzi assumed responsibility for the car’s look by becoming chief aerodynamicist in April ’03 and that role placed her in full control of the FW26 aero project.

1/7/04

Less access for British GP fans  Autosport Magazine reports that British Grand Prix fans will not be allowed access to the centre of the Silverstone circuit this year, robbing them of their only realistic chance of meeting the Formula 1 stars.   Circuit bosses took the decision after a poor take-up of centre transfer tickets. They have also claimed that it is better to focus resources entirely on improving facilities on the outside of the Northamptonshire track.   The decision means that spectators will have no access to the vicinity of the paddock, which is the only place where most fans have a chance of gaining autographs and photos of drivers during the grand prix weekend. It also means that spectators will no longer be able to watch from the inside of either Copse or Vale, both popular viewing points.

1/7/04

New owner of Brands Hatch wants international races  Speaking to Autosport Magazine, Jonathan Palmer, the recent winner of the bid to buy Brands Hatch and three other UK race circuits had this to say - “It’s pretty clear that Brands is not the right venue for the GP,” he said. “Silverstone has the land area that the Formula 1 of today needs. Brands doesn’t have it and never will. The GP is not on the agenda.

“Having said that, there are plenty of other international race meetings – and not just international ones, either – major [national and international] motorsport events that I believe Brands can and should hold.

“Yes, I would like to see the venue running international events. Part of our challenge is to see what the costs are in terms of requirements from authorizing bodies to attain the necessary circuit standards.

“We have to take a sensible view on what is cost-effective and what is not. We have got to do it in a way that is not just about throwing big chunks of money at it that the customer will never be prepared to pay for.”  [Editor's Note:  We think Champ Cars may someday be back at the famous circuit]

1/7/04

Renault and Puma announce multi-year deal  The Mild Seven Renault F1 Team has today announced a multi-year deal with Puma AG as an official supplier.  Starting with the 2004 season, Puma will provide the Renault F1 Team with their official teamwear and footwear.

Managing director Flavio Briatore commented: "We are pleased to welcome Puma on board as a partner of the Renault F1 Team. Their young, sporting image is a perfect match for Renault in Formula 1, and the quality of their products unsurpassed. We look forward to a successful season together."

"I am very pleased with our new partnership with the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team," says Martin Gänsler, vice chairman of Puma AG. "With ties to Italy, England, Spain, Japan and of course France, the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team perfectly typifies the internationalism of Formula One. With a long proud history in F1, the team has the experience and know-how that it takes to thrive in grand prix racing. We consider Renault a great fit for us as, like Puma, they nicely combine sport performance with fashion flair."

1/7/04
ETCC

Zanardi: I am good enough to win   Speaking to British tabloid newspaper, The Sun, Alex Zanardi said: "I believe I'm good enough to win races.

"This isn't a comeback because I always felt I was a driver and I never felt I lost my talent - that's in your head not your feet.

"After my accident, racing again wasn't even a dream let alone a goal - yet here we are. But don't call me Superman because I don't regard myself as an example.

"I don't want to take racing as seriously as I used to but that doesn't mean I'm going to ease off.

"Taking part isn't enough and I believe I can win with a competitive car."

"If I was asked three years ago what I'd do if I lost both legs I'd have said it would be better to kill myself. But I never think like that now.

"Sometimes we forget what we have. I know that only one guy in a thousand could have gone home alive after my accident and I'm that one.

"Now I see a human being is an incredible machine.

"Every one of us has a hidden tank of energy that comes out when it is needed. This is a sign of hope that I have witnessed within my own skin. I've experienced how great it is to be alive and how strong a man can be."

1/7/04
F3000

F3000 makes 20-car minimum   An announcement confirming that there will be at least 20 cars in the 2004 FIA International F3000 championship is expected to be made this week. formula-3000.net has learned that ten two-car entries have already been submitted to the FIA for this year's championship, which is expected to be the last under the F3000 name.

1/7/04
Industry News

ESPN Deportes to launch   With Hispanic television booming, ESPN Deportes, a Spanish-language version of the main cable network, launches Wednesday.

ESPN Deportes will telecast a wide variety of domestic and international sports programming, including Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NFL, UEFA Champions League, Major League Soccer, Wimbledon and the IRL Indy Car Series.

In addition, the network will offer a selection of Spanish-language sports news and information shows, including its own SportsCenter, which originates in Mexico City.

Other featured programs are Gol ESPN: Fuera de Juego, a round-table discussion of the world of soccer, and ESPN's Perfiles, a half-hour interview show that takes a look at Latin American sports stars.

"The full-time launch of ESPN Deportes demonstrates our commitment to serve the growing appetite of the Latino sports fan," said Lino Garcia, general manager of ESPN Deportes. "With a mix of marquee live events and quality sports news and information shows, ESPN Deportes will become the primary viewing destination for Latino sports fans."

Sounds great. The only problem is cable distribution.

"It's just a matter of time before we get significant distribution," ESPN's Chris Bellitti said. "By the end of the year we hope to be in the top 25 Hispanic markets."

1/7/04
Industry News

Roush buys renowned race engine builder from UK   Roush, a leading supplier of advanced automotive engineering services and specialty vehicle body accessories, today announced the acquisition of Mountune Racing, Limited, of England. This acquisition is part of Roush's on-going strategy to expand their European engineering operations, and will also address the growing demand for small-displacement, high-performance engines in the United States.

Mountune founder David Mountain announced the acquisition, saying: "Joining our successful business with one of the world's leading automotive development organizations is a great opportunity. Our wealth of experience backed by the considerable resources of Roush will open a whole range of new collaborative activities."

Mountune Racing, Limited was founded in 1979 in Maldon, England, and quickly established a reputation for building some of the most successful Mini engines on the competition circuit. In the late 80's, Mountune started preparing Cosworth YB engines for motorsport, producing numerous championships and forging a long-term association with Ford Motor Company. To date, Mountune has supplied engines for road and rally racing, supporting championship teams from Ford, Formula Palmer Audi, Ascari and Petronas/Proton.

"Mountune Racing is world-renowned for designing, prototyping, and manufacturing championship-level, small-displacement race engines," said Jim Yagley, Roush vice president of engineering. "Their expertise, particularly with turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, will support Roush's expansion of our OEM engineering and production capabilities."

Mountune Racing will be a wholly owned division of Roush, and will be located within Roush's Brentwood, England facility.

"Roush and Mountune have a complementary blend of specialized engineering talents," said John Mitchell, director of Roush operations in Europe. "Combined, we can offer our customers a broader range of services beyond what either organization could achieve on its own. Our Brentwood facility already houses some of the most advanced automotive engineering, design, and development capability in Europe. The addition of Mountune Racing takes that capability to a new level."

1/7/04
German DTM

Safety Council to convene annual meeting   The International Council of Motorsport Sciences will convene its fifteenth annual meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on January 15, 2004. The meeting known as the FIA-ICMS International Motorsport Safety Symposium will feature safety presentations from experts in the field of motorsport safety. Delegates from around the World will be in attendance. Speakers will include, Professor Sid Watkins, Chairman, FIA Safety Commission, Professor Hugh Scully, Chairman of the ICMS, Drs. Stephen E. Olvey and Terry R. Trammell from CART, Dr. Henry Bock, medical director of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Dr. Paul Kozak, noted NASCAR physician and many additional experts in the field of safety. Additionally Professor Robert Hubbard, the inventor of the HANS device (the head neck restraint system for racing drivers) will deliver an update on the system as well as planned improvements for the future. There will be panel discussions featuring experts on various aspects of motorsport. The ICMS is a catalyst for the presentation and dissemination of safety information as it pertains to racing drivers, crews and fans. The ICMS was formed in 1985 by doctors and scientists in the field of motorsport safety.

1/7/04

Latest Formula One News in brief 

Williams Makes 'Little Contribution' To Team
Renault Sign New Technical Director (Engine)
Can't Buy Me F1 Success: Stoddart
Abramovich Denies Jordan F1 Buy-Out
BRDC Welcomes Sale Of British Race Tracks
BAR To Launch 006 On February 1st
Gene Wants Top-Job At BMW-Williams
Schumacher Welcomes Electronic Bans
New Rules Will Cut F1 Costs: BMW Chief
Montoya Didn't Want '04 McLaren Swap 

Williams 'Miles Ahead' With New FW26
Schumacher Calms Bahrain Threat
'Haves' To Get More From New Engine Rule
Jordan Does Not Deny Abramovich Link
Money Doesn't Buy F1 Success: Brawn To Roman
BMW Back Global Shift In Formula One

1/6/04

Champion Racing announces 2004 plans   Florida-based Champion Racing, one of the most successful racing teams in the U.S., will return in 2004 to compete in the American Le Mans and SPEED World Challenge GT Series, as well as returning to Le Mans to defend their podium finish from the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Founded in 1994 by Dave Maraj, Champion Racing (Pompano Beach, FL) has become a formidable opponent for teams competing in sports car racing. Supported by Audi Sport North America, Champion Racing will seek to earn their first Championship title in the American Le Mans Series and will look to defend last year’s Driver and Manufacturer Title in the SPEED World Challenge GT Series.

Team ADT Champion Racing will make a concerted attack on this year’s American Le Mans Series titles having re-signed veteran driver JJ Lehto, the “Flying Finn”, and acquiring factory driver, Marco Werner.

Lehto and Werner will partner for the nine race American Le Mans Series piloting a “customer” based Audi R8 prototype sponsored by ADT, the largest single provider of total security solutions to residential, business and federal customers.

JJ Lehto, born in Espoo, Finland but now resides in Monaco, spent a number of years contesting the Formula One Series before coming to the United States to compete in sports car racing. Since 1999, Lehto has been competing in the American Le Mans Series driving for BMW, Cadillac, and most recently Audi. In last year’s American Le Mans season, Lehto earned eight podium finishes, four first place finishes, and a third place podium finish at Le Mans.

Marco Werner, born in Dortmund, Germany but now resides in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, started racing in 1984 and his career has included success in Formula 3000, touring cars, and GT racing. In 2002, Werner joined the factory Audi team at Le Mans where his team placed third. In his debut with the American Le Mans Series in 2003, Werner scored three pole positions, eight podium finishes, and earned the Driver’s Championship Title in his rookie season as well as helping Audi to secure the Manufacturers’ Title for the 4th time in a row.

Partnering with Lehto and Werner for the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be veteran driver Emanuele Pirro. Last year Pirro and Lehto (along with Stefan Johannson) battled brilliantly throughout the full 24 hours to give Champion Racing first place in the LMP 900 class and third place overall. This podium finish was the first overall podium finish by an American team in 19 years.

In the SPEED World Challenge GT Series, Champion Racing will return with last year’s Audi RS 6 Competition Cars and Championship Drivers Michael Galati and Randy Pobst.

Randy Pobst (Gainesville, GA) earned three pole positions and eight podium finishes while teammate Michael Galati (N. Olmsted, OH) earned one pole position and three podium finishes.

“On behalf of Audi Sport North America, we are once again proud to be aligned with such a capable and competent organization like Champion Racing”, declared Len Hunt, V.P. of Audi of America. “Champion Racing has proven to be one of the best teams in sports car racing and we look forward to providing them with support for another successful year.”

The opening round for both the American Le Mans Series and SPEED World Challenge GT Series begins with the 12 Hours of Sebring March 19–20 in Sebring, Florida.

1/6/04
German DTM

Successful roll-out for Audi A4 DTM   The preparations for Audi's comeback in the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) continue in full swing and exactly according to plan. Audi works driver Frank Biela completed a successful roll-out with the new Audi A4 DTM just before Christmas. The next phase of the DTM project begins for the Audi Sport team after three months of intensive development work: Following the successful maiden outing, the Audi touring car with approximately 460 PS will now be prepared for its race debut on 18 April at Hockenheim by an extensive test program at various European race tracks.

"It was our goal to have the new A4 DTM up and running before the New Year, to be able to test extensively before the start of the season", explains Head of Audi Sport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "That our team managed to keep the extremely tight schedule for roll-out, speaks volumes for Audi Sport and our partners. This gives us an advantage as far as time is concerned when compared to our competitors."

The Audi A4 DTM is the first car that conforms to the new DTM technical regulations, which now stipulates the use of four-door saloons and has also changed in many other details. "The A4 DTM is therefore a completely new development, only the uprights and the prescribed DTM standard components originate from the Abt-Audi TT-R", explains Wolfgang Appel, Director of Vehicle Engineering at Audi Sport. "The DTM regulations are very restrictive. Nevertheless, we were able to incorporate several things that made the Audi R8 so successful in the sport prototypes over the last few years."

The Audi A4 DTM V8-engine is a development of the power unit already used in the TT-R. "The DTM engine regulations also only allow a small amount of latitude, that's why we paid a lot of attention to detail", says Ulrich Baretzky, Director of Engine Engineering at Audi Sport. Immediately recognisable to the untrained eye are the V8 power unit's exhaust pipes that end on car's flanks and were moved as close as possible to the centre of the car. The driver's seating position located extremely towards the rear is also very striking.

"The seating position is excellent, as is the field of vision", noted Frank Biela after the roll-out. Although he completed the first laps in dark, foggy and ice cold conditions, the former German Touring Car champion and three-time Le Mans winner was all warm inside: "It was a very Christmassy feeling. The A4 looks absolutely fantastic and felt good from the word go. I didn't expect anything different: I've been lucky enough, during the 13 years in which I have driven now for Audi, to complete a fair amount of roll-outs. It was business as usual: You sit in and everything works as it should, which is not always the case in motorsport and shows just how professionally Audi works. Now I can hardly wait for the first proper test."

1/6/04

New ALMS GT class team   The already strong competition level in the GT class of the American Le Mans Series has jumped up another notch with the announcement that Flying Lizard Motorsports, a new racing team, will run two entries in the full series schedule this season with an All-American driving lineup.

The team, based in Sonoma, Calif., will run a pair of new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR cars in all nine American Le Mans Series races. The season begins with the 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway Mar. 17-20.

Johannes van Overbeek and Darren Law, two drivers with extensive experience both in the American Le Mans Series and in other forms of road racing, will handle the driving for one of the Flying Lizard cars, while ALMS newcomers Lonnie Pechnik and Seth Neiman will drive the other.

"We are excited about running in the world's premier road racing series," said van Overbeek, who scored a GT class victory in the ALMS in 1999 at Road Atlanta. "It makes for a challenging first year, but the only way for us to grow as a team is to run with the best."

Van Overbeek, from San Francisco, made 18 starts in the American Le Mans Series in the 1999 and 2000 seasons for BMW Team PTG, posting six podium finishes, including the win at Road Atlanta. He is an eight-year veteran of professional road racing.

Law, from Phoenix, has competed in 13 ALMS races and in 1999 co-drove with van Overbeek to two podium finishes. He competed in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta that ended the 2003 ALMS season.

Pechnik, who has been racing for 12 years and has been an instructor for the Skip Barber Racing School, is from Pacific Grove, Calif., while Neiman is from Burlingame, Calif.

Van Overbeek is one of the team's principals, along with Pechnik, Neiman, team manager Eric Ingraham, crew chief Tommy Sadler and chief engineer Craig Watkins. Partners include Shoreline Communications, Inc., Brocade Communications Systems, Inc., and Michelin Tires.

"Tires are the foundation on any race car," said Watkins. "Having the product and technical support from Michelin will help us get the most out of our Porsche RSRs in the coming year."

Another Sonoma-based team, The Racers Group, recently announced a two-car effort in the GT class of the ALMS for 2004 with rising young American racing star Patrick Long as one of its drivers.

"We welcome Flying Lizard Motorsports to the American Le Mans Series," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the ALMS. "They will be running a first-class racing team in one of the toughest classes of competition that exists in the world of professional sports car racing. We look forward to a superb season of competition in the GT class and in all four classes that make up the series."

The 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will get the green flag at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 20, and will be televised live from flag-to-flag by the Speed Channel. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.

Ticket information is available online at www.sebringraceway.com or by calling (863) 655-1442 (toll-free 800-626-RACE).

1/6/04

Daughter Karma gives Bracks New Year's Joy   Team Rahal's Kenny Brack and his wife Anita received the greatest New Year's Eve present possible with the birth of their first child, daughter Karma, at 6:31 p.m. (EST) on Dec. 31 in the Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus. The newest Brack weighed six pounds, 13 ounces and was 18 inches long. Ironically, Brack, who was seriously injured in a crash in the IRL IndyCar Series finale on Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway, also was in the hospital at the same time after receiving a medical procedure to improve his rehabilitation. "She is blonde as could be with blue eyes," said the happy dad. "Everything went very well, without any complications, except that I could not be there to assist, or maybe that's why it went so well! Luckily we had a good friend there instead. I was also in the hospital, but a few floors up, recovering from another surgery. What a great ending to an otherwise challenging year! "I was able to see Anita and the baby in the hospital room a couple of hours before New Years and we had a great celebration together. That was very exciting and I was able to see the new family member on video from the delivery room!" Anita and Karma returned to the Brack's Columbus home with Kenny on Jan. 2. "My parents are helping Anita now with the baby and I am getting my sleep too," said Brack. "I'm back into my rehab program and that feels good. We've had some tough times this year but I'm looking forward to 2004 so much." Brack, the 1998 IRL IndyCar Series champion and 1999 Indy 500 winner, suffered a fractured right femur, a fractured sternum, a fractured lumbar (L-3) vertebrae and fractures to both ankles in the crash with his Pioneer/Miller Lite Honda car. Persons wishing to send a congratulatory or get-well message to Brack can do so at www.rahal.com or by sending cards or letters to: Team Rahal, 4601 Lyman Dr., Hilliard, Ohio 43026.

1/6/04

SPEED Daytona testing air times   SPEED Channel will air half-hour shows from Daytona covering NASCAR test sessions beginning tonight:
Jan. 6-8 -- 6 p.m. ET
Jan. 12-15 -- 6 p.m. ET
Jan. 18 and Jan. 21 -- 6 p.m. ET

1/6/04

Penske and Gaughan make it official   Penske Performance, Inc., in conjunction with Jasper Racing has announced that Brendan Gaughan will run the No. 77 Dodge in the Nextel Cup series for 2004. Penske-Jasper Racing has signed a multi-year deal with Kodak to sponsor Gaughan's run for 2004 Rookie of the Year. "I am thrilled to get this opportunity and thankful to so many people," said Brendan Gaughan. "I appreciate the confidence that Kodak and the Penske organization have shown in my abilities. I can't wait for the 2004 season to begin." Gaughan joins Penske Racing's Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace as a teammate.

1/6/04

Top technical talent on the move   2001 & 2002 Indy Lights and 2003 Toyota Atlantic Championship winning engineer, Gerald Tyler, one of the key components in the rapid rise of RuSPORT this past season as the team's technical director, responsible for the team's instant dominating Championship winning performance, has parted company with the team.  Rumor has it he could move to another CART team, the IRL or even NASCAR.

1/6/04

Red Bull Cheever team expands to two cars   Red Bull Cheever Racing will expand to a two-car team for the 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series season, with Alex Barron driving the No. 52 car and rookie Ed Carpenter in the No. 51 car. Both cars will have Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone packages.

"Our planning for the 2004 season began at the end of last year," Red Bull Cheever Racing managing director Max Jones said. We wanted to build for the new season and hire the best drivers, engineers and crew to get us back on the podium. We're coming into a new year with two very talented American drivers who complement each other well with their range of open-wheel experience. We couldn't be in a better position than right now."

Barron, 33, won his first IRL IndyCar race at Nashville in 2002. The Menifee, Calif., native served as a replacement driver for three injured drivers last year – Gil de Ferran, Arie Luyendyk and Felipe Giaffone. Barron won the 2003 race at Michigan International Speedway, driving for Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing. He joined Red Bull Cheever Racing for the final three races, with a best finish of seventh at Chicagoland Speedway.

"I'm really looking forward to having a full-time ride with Red Bull Cheever Racing," Barron said. "The crew has already been working so hard to prepare for the season. I'm glad that I will be able to work with Ed Carpenter. He's a very talented driver that will be able to show his full potential this year."

Carpenter, a 22-year-old veteran of the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series and USAC open-wheel racing, was victorious at the inaugural Freedom 100 Infiniti Pro Series race last May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With three second-place finishes in the Infiniti Pro Series in 2003, he competed in three IndyCar Series races for PDM Racing, finishing 13th at Chicagoland Speedway and 13th at California Speedway.

"I'm happy to be given the opportunity to work with Eddie Cheever for a team that he has worked so hard to build," Carpenter said. "I have a close relationship with him since he has been a mentor throughout my entire career. Being teammates with an experienced driver like Alex Barron will be a great advantage for me."

Cheever, a former IndyCar Series driver, is confident for the 2004 season.

"GM ended on a really strong note last year," he said. "I'm looking forward to continuing our relationship with GM and our third consecutive year partnering with Red Bull. Not only are we expanding to a two-car team, we're doing it with two of the best American open-wheel drivers out there."

The Red Bull Cheever Racing team will participate in open tests Jan. 27-29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, site of the IRL IndyCar season opener Feb. 29, and Feb. 10-12 at Phoenix International Raceway, site of the second IRL IndyCar Series race March 20.

1/6/04

SPEED to do 70 hours of NASCAR coverage from Daytona   SPEED Channel will begin its coverage of Daytona SpeedWeeks on Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. ET with live coverage of Bud Shootout practice and won't pack up the production trucks until NASCAR Victory Lane (Feb. 15, 8 p.m. ET) finishes its look at the 46th running of the "Great American Race" -- the Daytona 500.

"We launched SPEED Channel during SpeedWeeks 2002, so this time of the year is very special to everyone on the SPEED staff," said network President Jim Liberatore. "SpeedWeeks is a monster effort for everyone involved, but it's a great way to get the race season started. The drivers are ready to go, the fans are ready to go and there is no question that SPEED Channel is ready as well. Chances are, if there are cars on the track, SPEED will be there."

Highlights of SPEED Channel's coverage include live broadcasts of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race (Feb. 13, 8 p.m. ET), the ARCA race (Feb. 7, 4 p.m. ET) and the Goody's Dash series race (Feb. 8, 3:30 p.m.) and in addition, SPEED will broadcast live qualifying coverage for the NASCAR Busch Series (Feb. 13, 10 a.m. ET) and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (Feb .11, 6:30 p.m.) events.

SPEED's popular Trackside program with Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond and host Steve Byrnes will run nightly from Feb. 9-13, with Friday's show being in front of a live audience from the brand new 53-foot SPEED Channel stage truck.

"With this new traveling stage vehicle, SPEED Channel will have a definitive presence at every NEXTEL Cup event for the entire NASCAR season," said Rick Miner, SPEED's Sr. VP of Programming/Production and Executive Producer. "Not only will it be the home to our Trackside program, but SPEED will use the setting to generate additional content throughout the week."

1/6/04

***Reader Question***IRL and CART   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Just my two cents on the whole CART thing. Perhaps I don't give Tony George's ego enough attention, but here goes:  With the IRL going completely away from its stated vision of American drivers on American ovals, what better time to talk merger with CART/OWRS than now, with the reigning champion a non-American and with the IRL's rumored interest in road courses? I sure would like to hear the hum of the Champ Cars at Indianapolis (I still remember the last great Indy 500, the 1994 version, with the Penske runaway and Nigel Mansell's "incident" with Dennis Vitolo), and I'm sure the likes of Hornish, Barron, and Herta would love to tackle Long Beach. And even though they won't admit it, I'm sure Little Al and Michael Andretti miss the streets, too. 

Maybe I don't think Anton's ego is as big as it is, and maybe I just don't want it to be. The sport that got me into racing is in disarray, and you would think OWRS's tenacity and spirit could be combined with Tony George's deep pockets to produce a juggernaut to rival, or *gasp* exceed NASCAR. But unfortunately, with all the bitching and bickering by factions who are chasing the almighty dollar instead of the wastegate of the lead Champ Car, it will never happen soon.

So to AutoRacing1, I ask: Do you think that the moons will align and a merger between OWRS and the IRL will happen in the next few years? If not, what do you think it will take to get open-wheel racing back on track? Keep up the good work! Tim Traylor F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming  Dear Tim, The two sides are talking, so there is hope for a merger.  However, the split should have never happened in the first place.  It has done severe damage to Indy Car racing as a sport to the point its future is in doubt.  Tony George made a major error in judgment in starting the IRL.  He should have used all that money to field American drivers in CART when CART was booming and rivaling NASCAR.  Imagine how strong Indy Car racing would be now if he had done that!  As for a merger, I see a major problem in that the IRL concept of what open wheel Indy Car racing should be is severely flawed and its plummeting TV ratings support that.  Add to it all the cars and human body parts that are destroyed each year and it simply makes no sense whatsoever.  We do believe that CART has the right mix for a strong open wheel series in North America - mostly road courses with only a few of the dangerous ovals. Many of CART's road races are a huge success.  Tony George does not see it that way because he is a member of the oval track cartel, joined at the hip with the France family who are  both in business to make money from oval track racing.  Hence why we feel if there is to be a merger, the cars should absolutely be Champ Car specs (which are good for both ovals and road courses), there should be two divisions (oval division and road course division) and a 5-race playoff between the two divisions at the end of the year to crown an overall champion.  Mark C.

1/6/04

White jumps ship from Cosworth to Renault  The Mild Seven Renault F1 Team is pleased to announce the appointment of Robert White as Technical Director (Engine).

Formerly Chief Engineer at Cosworth, 38 year-old White assumed control of all technical activities at Viry-Châtillon effective 1 January 2004, and will work alongside Deputy Managing Director Bernard Dudot at the French site.

“We are delighted to welcome an engineer of Rob’s caliber to the team at Viry,” commented Managing Director Flavio Briatore. “His appointment is another key step as we build towards challenging for the World Championship.”. Press release, Renault F1 Team   Background information on White

1/6/04

Specter Werkes #24 Cauley Corvette GTR Damaged in Fire   The final session of testing for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona was cut short on Monday afternoon when the Specter Werks/Sports #24 Cauley Corvette GTR presented by The Highlander caught on fire. The Corvette was witnessed with flames as it came down the backstretch and flamed up when driver Tom Bambard pulled off in the horseshoe.

Bambard was able to get out of the car on his own, and after a visit to the infield care center, he was transported to Halifax Medical Center as a precaution for smoke inhalation. He was later released from Halifax with a clean bill of health.

“I’m not sure how the sequence unfolded,” remarked Bambard. “I recall a bump or thump and then feeling the car take a violent dive to the inside… and then spinning. I saw the flames and tried to control the spin and guide the car to a run-off area. By that time, it was apparent that I needed to exit the car as quickly as possible. With the bulk of the fire engulfing the driver’s side, I made my way across to the passenger window and was able to struggle free.”

Co-driver and owner of Specter Werkes/Sports, Jeff Nowicki, made the following statement:

“First and foremost, we are thankful that Tom was not harmed in anyway. Our team is highly focused and committed to the safety aspects of our endeavor. Our people come first.”

“With respect to the car, it is too early to determine the cause of the fire. Hearing the comments of witnesses and putting together Tom’s remarks, it’s obvious something triggered the bizarre sequence. We will know more once we get the car back to shop and do a complete analysis.”

“Overall, we were very happy with the week of testing,” continued Nowicki. “Needless-to-say, this will be a set back and we face a very difficult timeline to have the car ready for the Rolex 24 Hour race. Every member of our team has personally pledged his or her full support to rebuild the car and put it on the starting grid in Daytona January 31. I’ve got a hunch we’ll be there.”

1/6/04

Latest Formula One News in brief 

BMW-Williams Unveil Radical FW26
Renault Would Welcome More F1 Races
BAR Sign Two-Year Deal
Ex-F1 Ace Blamed For Fading Player's Star
Jordan Diffuse Billionaire-Buyout Claims
Montoya Not Chasing Money To McLaren
Williams Target Titles
F1 Bosses Downplay Economic 'Crisis'
Palmer Buys Brands Hatch Circuits
Ralf And Juan Pleased With FW26 Roll-Out
Piquet, Pizzonia, To Get Second Chances
FW26: Not A Thing Of Beauty

French GP Is Unlikely: F1 Team Boss
Montoya Hits Back At Ferrari's Brawn
Ralf: Stalled Talks 'Not About Money'
Ralf Gnarls Tusks At F1 Racing Brother
Williams Still Upbeat About Bahrain
Briatore Welcomes Long-Life Engine Rule
Barrichello Has Not Signed Deal: President

1/6/04

Interview with Flavio Briatore  Less than two months before departure for Melbourne, the Renault F1 Team's Managing Director talks about the coming weeks, and his optimism for 2004.
How is work progressing at the Renault F1 Team this winter?
Enstone and Viry are working together better than ever before. Renault really made a name for itself in Formula 1 this year: people have forgotten Benetton, or Renault as an engine supplier. We are one Renault team, working harder than before, and working better. The structures we have now put in place are the right ones, and the team is very strong, very motivated. We have assembled a group of people who want to win.
You have recently announced a new major sponsor: how do you see the commercial climate of F1 at the moment?
We have an excellent relationship with Japan Tobacco, our title sponsor and thanks to our performances in 2003, we have signed a very important agreement with i-mode. There will be more sponsors before the start of the season as well. I think that overall, the environment is very healthy for Formula 1. 2004 will be an important year, expanding to China and Bahrain: this is now an international sport, not just European or South American. F1 costs a lot of money, and exploring new markets and new countries is part of getting a good return on that investment.
How about the changes for 2004?
I think the engine changes are a step in the right direction: they will save money in the long term, even though meeting the regulations will be a challenge for everyone this year. As for other changes, I still believe we are doing too much testing. In 2003, we proved with the Heathrow Agreement that the efficiency of your work is as important as how many days you run: our rate of development matched the top teams throughout the year. Our business is Grand Prix racing, not testing: races are what people come to watch. Personally, I would welcome more races and less testing, but there are other people who think differently.
And what about Renault in 2004? How do you expect things to go?
2003 was an exceptional year for us. As for the coming season, there is nothing to say just yet. We are concentrating on finishing the car, and producing a reliable, competitive engine. What I can say is, we are optimistic about the engine, and those of us who have seen the new car in the wind tunnel are very excited indeed about 2004. Press release, Renault F1 Team

1/5/04

Benny Moon Wins Full Deal at Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship Runoff  Benny Moon, 19, of Shingle Springs, Calif., took home the top prize -- a fully paid 2004 14-race season in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER -- after the panel of judges unanimously voted him the best following the two-day Barber-Champ Car Karting Scholarship Runoff at Sebring International Raceway. The award is worth $38,150, the cost for practice, qualifying and the race for all 14 events. The FDNC series is the Official National Amateur Championship of Champ Car. Earning runners-up prizes of $19,075 each -- a half-season of FDNC -- were Jason Bowles, 21, Ontario, Calif.; Mark Burt, 18, Debary, Fla.; Billy Johnson, 17, San Clemente, Calif.; Lorenzo Mandarino, 17, Burnaby, B.C., Canada; and Ron White, 24, San Jose, Calif. This was the largest field of karters ever assembled in the seven year history of the Barber- Champ Car Karting Scholarship Runoff; 35 of the best young karters from the United States and Canada each spent the bulk of two days in a Formula Dodge R/T 2000. The majority of the drivers in the Karting Scholarship Runoff come from the ranks of the Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow series and the World Karting Association (WKA). Previous scholarship winners of the Skip Barber karting runoff include Ryan Hunter-Reay, Michael Valiante, Patrick Long and A.J. Allmendinger. The judging panel was comprised of eight noted coaches and drivers: Divina Galica, the managing director of FDNC as well as the four Regional Skip Barber Race Series, plus Bryan Herta, Kelly Collins, Jim Pace, Barry Waddell, Gregg Borland, Rich Beam and R.B. Steiwing.

1/5/04
Industry News

Slight drop in 2003 sales for DaimlerChrysler  A report that does not bode well for its F1 and NASCAR racing programs (i.e. are they helping?)  DaimlerChrysler AG sold 3,822,000 passenger vehicles around the world in 2003 (3,976,300 cars in 2002). With unit sales of around 1,215,000 vehicles, the Mercedes Car Group, which encompasses the premium brands Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, smart and Maybach almost attained the record level reached in 2002 (1,232,300 units). Chrysler Group which consists of the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, sold 2,607,000 vehicles worldwide (previous year 2,744,000), despite a fiercely contested U.S. market.  Meanwhile, German rival BMW of North America, (BMW and MINI brands combined) ended its best year ever with robust twelve-month sales gain of 8 percent, reporting 276,869 vehicles over the 256,622 reported in 2002. It was the twelfth straight year that BMW posted sales increases. Worldwide BMW figures were not available.

1/5/04

Steve Young now passing in NASCAR   Legendary NFL quarterback Steve Young, already successful in off-gridiron endeavors such as business and broadcasting has become involved in the world of NASCAR auto racing. Young announced Thursday that Jugular and YET, a line of energy drinks of which he is an investor and company spokesperson, will be the primary sponsor of the BH Motorsports 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Car. “Like many Americans, I have been very excited by the explosive growth of NASCAR. To be a part of a NASCAR team, and to promote healthy energy drinks like YET and Jugular at the same time, was an irresistible opportunity,” said Young, a Super Bowl MVP and a regular commentator on ESPN. “And we’re very happy to be working with BH Motorsports on our entry into NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. BH Motorsports have fielded cars in NASCAR competition since 1989, with great drivers like Mike Skinner, Darrell Waltrip, Ken Bouchard, Carl Long and Ron Hornaday.” The NASCAR sponsorship will mark the start of a national marketing and advertising campaign for Jugular and YET. BH Motorsports, signed Sudden Impact Partners, Inc. - who own the Jugular and YET brand energy drinks - to a long term sponsorship which will include merchandising and promotional campaigns. Young explained why he endorses YET and Jugular: “Unlike a lot of other energy drinks that use caffeine to give drinkers a short term boost, YET and Jugular are caffeine-free healthy alternatives that use herbal science to give athletes, or anyone, sustained energy.”

1/5/04

Frank admits new car ugly   Talking at today's launch of his team's 2004 FW26 car Sir Frank Williams admitted that the much talked about nose of the car wasn't exactly pleasing to the eye.  "I don't think it's very pretty," admitted the Englishman, "but I'm sure I can fall in love with it if it's quick."  "Much worse from Frank's point of view," interrupted Patrick Head, "is that he hasn't got as much space in terms of marketing exposure. However having known him for a long time I can assure you that he'll be happy if it's fast.  "It's not a thing of beauty," he continued, "but if it's fast it'll begin to look very good."

1/5/04

Piquet will get 2nd Williams chance   Nelsinho Piquet will have another chance behind the wheel of a Williams F1 car, said Frank Williams today in Valencia at the launch of the FW26. "I think the first test was a little bit too soon. He [Nelsinho Piquet] was a little bit young. We will call him again but I don't know when. Probably this year," said Williams. Nelsinho tested a Williams at Jerez in December 2003 but his performance was much slower than Ralf Schumacher and Marc Gené, who were using similar cars.

1/5/04

Williams doubts France will have 2004 race   France is unlikely to be able to host a Formula One race this season, Williams Formula One team chief Frank Williams said on Monday. "We're planning for 18 (races) even though I can't see how France can pay the teams for this 18th Grand Prix," Williams told journalists in Valencia, where his team unveiled their new car they hope can end Ferrari's dominance in the months to come.

1/5/04

Indy 500 Mini-Marathon sells out at 30,000  Organizers announced today that the 28th running of the nation's largest half-marathon, the Indianapolis Life 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, has sold out with 30,000 registrations. In an effort to accommodate more race enthusiasts who embrace this popular community event, the 500 Festival had increased the field from 25,000 to 30,000 on January 2.

"Selling out this event with 30,000 entries this early is unbelievable," said Kirk Hendrix, President and CEO, 500 Festival. "It is testament to the popularity of what has become a prized Indianapolis tradition. As a community festival, we are thrilled we were able to expand the field to accommodate another 5,000 participants."

This marks the earliest sellout for the event. Registrations for the 2004 Mini-Marathon, scheduled for Saturday, May 8, have been rolling in at record pace. On this day last year, 5,603 participants had registered. The 2003 event sold out with 25,000 entries on Feb. 12. The 2002 Mini-Marathon reached its capacity of 25,000, March 25.

"The popularity of this event can be attributed to the support of our corporate partners Indianapolis Life, AT&T Wireless, WISH TV, Marsh, St. Francis Hospitals, Finish Line and Susquehanna Radio. We would also like to thank the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for their continued support of the event," said Hendrix.

The increased field calls for additional volunteer support. Individuals or groups (church groups, corporations, associations, etc.) are invited to volunteer to distribute race packets to athletes, decorate Victory Mile, answer questions, motivate participants at designated mile markers, award medals at the finish line and more. To volunteer, register online at www.500festival.com or call the 500 Festival's volunteer coordinator at (317) 614-6130.

Registrations for the AT&T Wireless 5K are also on a record pace. The field of 3,000 participants is nearly half full, and it is not expected to be expanded. Participants for the 5K may register online at www.500festival.com. Both races, the Mini-Marathon and the 5K, are scheduled for May 8.

The 500 Festival was created in 1957 to organize civic events celebrating the Indianapolis 500. It is a not-for-profit organization supported by corporate sponsorships, memberships and ticket sales. More than 6,000 volunteers help produce 500 Festival events. With annual participation of more than 400,000 people from around Indiana and the world, it has grown to be one of the largest festivals in the nation.

1/5/04

Williams driver quotes after testing new car   In the bright Spanish sunshine and average temperatures of 15° C, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher completed the
maiden laps of the team's new challenger for the 2004 Formula One World Championship, the WilliamsF1 BMW FW26. The radical new design of the FW26, especially the snub nose and front wing geometry, attracted widespread commentary.

Juan Pablo Montoya left the garage at 14:40hrs and recorded 14 laps altogether on the 4.005 km circuit, before handing over the car to team-mate, Ralf Schumacher. The German started driving at 16:34hrs and completed a total of 3 laps.

Juan Pablo Montoya: "My first impression of the FW26 is very good. The car doesn't feel a lot different from last year's, which is a very good start and I think we have an excellent potential car. I felt comfortable straight away and could push the car from the outset, so thanks are due to the team for having built a very promising car.

In spite of the restrictions imposed by the new rules, which give you less drag and make the car more difficult under braking, everything feels just right. The dusty track conditions were not 100% ideal today and we only completed six hard laps, so I don't want to sound too optimistic, but there isn't a single area that doesn't work. I am very, very pleased, I think this car has got a good future."

Ralf Schumacher: "It is always positive if the first day runs according to plan and I can say that the car feels good, perhaps similar to the FW25. I really have high expectations of the radical approach taken to this new car.

Of course the roll out on launch day does not tell us much about the true performance of a new car and I only completed three laps. Basically it is all about installation laps and system checks, so it is far too early to make serious comments about the FW26."

The team will be now continuing its testing program from 7th to 13th January in Jerez (Marc Gené all days except 10th, Juan Pablo 7-10, Ralf Schumacher 10-13).

1/5/04

Liberatore confirms no CART and Trans-Am on SPEED Channel   In this interview, SPEED Channel President Jim Liberatore confirms that CART and Trans-Am will not be back on SPEED Channel in 2004.  Transcript

1/5/04

7-11 expands into mainland China  7-Eleven Japan has teamed up with a Chinese company to begin opening stores in Beijing and other areas in China. Currently, 7-Eleven operates 600 stores in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Financial Times (London)  [Editor's Note:  Maybe the IRL will beat CART into China, or 7-11 sponsor a Champ Car team if CART gets there first.]

1/5/04

Williams designer comments on his new car   WilliamsF1 Chief Designer Gavin Fisher had this to say about his new FW26 car at today's launch:

"The FW26 is not an iteration of its predecessor, which might surprise some people given the former car’s relative success”, Fisher revealed. “You cannot stand still or relax your development pace for a single minute in Formula One."

“The term 'radical' is devalued because it is over-used,” he claimed. “To a large extent the possibility is excluded by the restrictive technical regulations that govern Formula One. That said, it will be immediately evident to onlookers that a high degree of innovative design has gone into the FW26.”

"There is a great deal of anticipation on our part about this new car," he explained. "It has challenged us throughout its development, and there is certainly a sense that the day that it runs for the first time will be more significant than launch days in previous years. All of the team members will be proud that they have made enormous efforts to push the performance of this car as far forward as possible, and that in doing so will have written the opening chapter in what will become a successful season.”

1/5/04

Montoya responds to McLaren move at Williams launch   Juan Pablo Montoya was bombarded with questions at the BMW WilliamsF1 FW26 launch today about his move to McLaren in 2005.

"There are many reasons, and it was a very difficult decision," Montoya said. "Only time will tell if I made the right choice, as both teams are at the very top of Formula One and are expert and very professional."

"The decision was not all about money as some newspapers have said, and it certainly wasn’t because I don’t think the BMW WilliamsF1 Team can win titles, as I expect and hope we will be doing exactly that this year," he added.

"Sometimes it’s as simple as the new challenge, and by the end of this season, I will have been with the team for four years, which is probably longer than the average time a driver stays with one team," he claimed.

Looking to 2004 Montoya said, "If we’re all honest, after a great mid-season run, we didn’t finish 2003 so well. Winter hopefully gives us the time to reflect on all the shortcomings, and I know our main intention is to come out fighting from Australia, no excuses. In seasons gone by, we have always looked to see where the opposition is after the winter. I hope this year that the other teams at least will have as much concern about our performance as we traditionally do about theirs."

1/5/04

Gene targets Montoya's seat   Speaking at the launch of Williams' new FW26 challenger in Valencia today, Williams test driver Marc Gene said he would be gunning to step-up to its race team when Montoya departs. "My goal is to replace Montoya in 2005," said Gene. "I am aware that the competition will be tough, but I think my performance at Monza last year will help my case."

1/5/04

BAR strengthens ties with STL   Lucky Strike B•A•R Honda has today signed a two-year deal with UK communications firm, STL, as an official Team Supplier.

Since its foundation back in 1995, STL has expanded rapidly and is now one of the largest independent communications companies in the UK, specializing in the design, supply, installation and maintenance of business communication solutions.

The company will play an integral role in both the internal and external communications systems for the team, providing a range of services including state-of-the-art data transfer from trackside at races and tests back to the team’s Operations Centre. STL will manage the full telecommunications system at the Brackley base and also implement their Least Cost Routing system, ensuring B•A•R continues to be one of the most efficient teams on the grid.

B•A•R Head of I.T., David France, commented: "Fast and cost effective telecommunication is a key component of a successful Formula One team. STL have been working closely with B•A•R since the formation of the team and we are delighted to be consolidating our strong relationship. We are looking forward to working with STL who will be helping B•A•R to achieve the very best from available and emerging technologies."

Following the agreement, Brendon Cross, Managing Director of STL, said: ‘’Having designed, implemented and supported a broad range of communications services for B•A•R, we are delighted with the formalization of our partnership. Our association with B•A•R helps us to innovate ground-breaking solutions for the small, medium and large corporations that form our customer base.’’

Along with its involvement in Formula One with B•A•R, STL provides communications systems for a range of industries including high technology consumer firms, petroleum conglomerates and car manufacturing.

1/5/04
Karting News

Gidley karting classic - Day 2 report   Despite another gloomy weather forecast, the concluding day of the 5th annual Memo Gidley Karting Clinic wrapped up Sunday without a hint of rain. Thus the KT-100, Parilla and 125cc shifter competitors who turned up at Hawaii Raceway Park enjoyed a full day of classroom sessions and on-track time built around simulating a full race weekend. When the dust settled, Gidley chose Parilla competitor Greg Perrin as this year's recipient of the Jim Russell Racing School award, which will send him to Infineon Raceway for the renowned 3-day Techniques of Racing course. "He seemed to have a lot of good ability and just a good instinct when he was driving out there, and I noticed it right away," says Gidley. "From the first session when I was out following him around, I said 'this guy's pretty good right off the bat,' on a track he really hasn't been on much before. That's what impressed me, and after working with him a little bit, he seemed to get it and understand what I was saying, so that's the guy I want to send over." For Perrin, an Oahu resident who travels to Maui frequently as part of the Maui Go-Karting Association's rapidly-growing Parilla class, the award wraps up a stellar 2003 season in which he swept the 50th State's triple crown of karting - The Aloha State Games at HRP, his club championship at Puunene, and the Hawaii State Karting Championships at the same facility last month.


1/5/04
Industry News

Big car giveaway by GM   General Motors will give away 1,000 cars and trucks in the United States during the next two months in its biggest promotion of that kind, as the world's largest carmaker lures potential buyers to dealerships.  The GM Hot Button campaign will cost US$50 million, with half for the vehicles and the rest for advertising and marketing, director of retail planning Steve Hill said.   The promotion, in which dealership visitors press a button in a designated vehicle, starts today.   January and February traditionally draw fewer new-vehicle shoppers because of cold weather.   GM estimates it will attract as many as 40 per cent more customers with the promotion.

1/5/04
Industry News

Palmer's company buys Brands Hatch   The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc., ‘Interpublic’ announced today that it has agreed to sell four of the motorsport circuits owned by Brands Hatch Circuits Limited to MotorSport Vision Limited for an undisclosed sum. The sale includes Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Cadwell Park and Snetterton.

As a result of the sale, Interpublic’s interest in UK motorsport will now focus on the Silverstone circuit. Brands Hatch Circuits Limited will be re-named Silverstone Motorsport Limited. The deal does not affect its interests and commitments in relation to Silverstone including the remaining payments under an executory contract and an operating lease.

MotorSport Vision Limited is a new company led by Jonathan Palmer that has been established for the purposes of owning and developing the four circuits. The new company will complement Jonathan’s existing PalmerSport activities based at Bedford Autodrome, which provides motorsport events for the corporate market.

Andrew Waller, who remains with Interpublic to become managing director of Silverstone Motorsport Limited, commented: “We are delighted that Jonathan Palmer and his team are acquiring the four circuits and believe that our sale to his company will help to safeguard the future interests of UK motorsport.”

Jonathan Palmer, managing director of MotorSport Vision, commented: “Race driving, commentary and motorsport business have dominated my life and I am thrilled to have been successful in acquiring four of the most famous motorsport circuits in Britain. We are absolutely committed to developing motor racing at the circuits and believe that through innovation and quality enhancement we can revitalize one of the UK’s most exciting sports.” Press Release  [Editor's Note: Now we will see if this new company has the money to make improvements (safety on the long circuit and a new pit lane complex) to the Brands Hatch long circuit and whether they have an interest to bring the Champ Cars back in 2005.]

1/5/04

Latest Formula One News 

Raikkonen Gets First Taste Of New McLaren
Villeneuve In Jordan F1 Drive Link
Schumacher To Quit If Winning Stops
Barrichello Wins New Two-Year Race Deal
Ralf Still At Odds With Team Over New Deal
Wilson: Rule-Change To Pave F1 Return In '05
Indian Hopeful To Wait Another F1 Season
Trulli Defies 'F1 Curse'
Abramovich To Score Jordan F1 Team
McLaren Tried To Buy Montoya For 2004
Webber: Good Riddance To Friday Qualifying

Why Sauber Opted Against 'Cheap' F1 Engine
Ralf Wants To Win 2004 F1 Title
Button Is Future Champion: Frank Williams
BMW-Williams Likely To Lead: Montoya
Fisichella, Massa, To Test Ferrari Cars In '04
Moss: Today's F1 Aces Are Missing Out
Montoya Will Be Frozen Out Of Car Development

1/4/04

Riggins runs Toyota FABCAR   FABCAR's Dave Klym has used his Toyota-powered Daytona Prototype as a show car for the last few months, but today the race car finally hit the track with Tommy Riggins behind the wheel. Late Saturday afternoon, an agreement was reached between FABCAR and Brumos Racing to allow Riggins a chance to test the car this weekend and gain some valuable experience.

FABCAR has been working with Heritage Motorsports, which Riggins and Dave Machavern won the GTS championship with last season, on an agreement for the Vermont-based team to run the Daytona Prototype in the Rolex 24. However since an agreement has yet to be reached, Jacksonville-native Riggins was not going to get any experience in the car until Brumos Racing, also of Jacksonville, offered its assistance with crewmembers and fuel. Goodyear then stepped up to assist with the tires, and Toyota lent a hand attending to the engine.

Guy Cosmo, who has experience in the Toyota FABCAR of Cegwa Sport, first took the car out for a quick shakedown before handing it over to Riggins.

"To say this is exciting would be right. It was a different environment. I spent a couple of years in the other car (Mustang); that environment and nature was comfortable to me. This is different. They are real race cars. It feeds back different. I'm getting used to that, and I'm getting used to the environment; how things are and the threshold and things," explained Riggins. "It was just a great inauguration for me in one of these cars. I know the track here, and the Brumos guys have just been wonderful to decide to do this yesterday about 30 minutes before the garage closed and have us make the first session today. That was a phenomenal thing; I can't thank them enough for this opportunity.

"The whole focus today was to get me a lot of time in the car. I've never had car owners so enthused. It overwhelms me that people have gone out of their way to do something for me like this," added Riggins.

1/4/04

Arie Jr. likes being back on road course   After spending two years competing with the Indy Racing League, Arie Luyendyk Jr. returned to his road racing roots this weekend when he tested with the SpeedSource No. 9 Ford Multimatic. Although the 22-year-old son of Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk is quickly adjusting to being back on a road course, he is still getting used to being in a heavier, closed-cockpit car.

"This was the first time I've ever driven a car with a roof over my head. It was a new experience," said Luyendyk Jr. "My first impression was it has a lot more weight than what I'm used to driving. That took a lot of getting used to. This is the first time I've driven a road course in two years. Just the braking and getting back into the swing of things; it's a little bit of a learning curve, but at the moment we are doing very well."

Luyendyk Jr.'s road racing experience includes racing in the U.S. F2000 for two years in addition to competing in Formula Ford 1800 in Europe. For the past two years, he has run in the IRL Infiniti Pro Series, where he raced strictly on oval courses.

"It's nice to finally get back in the car and get on a nice track like Daytona and really push the limits of the car on a road course," said Luyendyk Jr. "It's great that SpeedSource gave me the opportunity to drive in the Rolex Series with a great car. I think we were sixth this morning, and there are a lot of improvements we need to do with the car, so I'm really happy to be 22 (years old) and running in the prototype class at Daytona. It's a pretty prestigious thing, and I just hope to last the whole race. The longest race I've ever done is 45 minutes or so. I'm going to have a lot of work on the table."

1/4/04

Ganassi glad to be back in sports cars   To most race fans, team owner Chip Ganassi is known for his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and open-wheel racing teams. However, the former sports car racer is returning to his roots with his new Daytona Prototype team in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series.

"This is like coming full circle really. I drove here in 1986 in (the Rolex 24) in a Buick-powered March sponsored by RC Cola for a guy named Phil Conte, who was very active in sports cars for many years. He had me come to Daytona and drive down here with John Paul Jr. and Whitney Ganz," said Ganassi. "Sports car racing has been in my heart for a long time. There was an opportunity to get involved again, and I couldn't pass it up."

"I like the idea of the formula now. Back in those days, you had factories getting involved and if you weren't a factory team, you had to really struggle to keep up with them as a privateer. It's more open now for everybody to get involved. With the formula now, you really have to work hard to find speed and obviously you still need reliability for 24 hours. We've got a little bit of learning to do. We like the direction of the series right now and that's why we're back," continued Ganassi, who will have Max Papis and Scott Pruett piloting his team's No. 01 Comp USA Lexus Riley this season.

This weekend's testing was the first opportunity for Ganassi's team to take its new car on track.

"It's very much in the development stage. When we unloaded here it was the first time that sucker turned a wheel. We've got a lot to learn in a short period of time. The first race is always the toughest," said Pruett. "You've got to take Daytona by itself. The Rolex 24 is the survival of the fittest. Those guys who have done their homework and have a bit of luck and can take advantage of the opportunity to come here, they may not be the fastest, but certainly can run the longest."

1/4/04

Ralf talks ongoing  Ralf Schumacher has revealed that talks are ongoing over his future at Williams.  The German could be using Juan Pablo Montoya's departure after next season as a way of boosting his reputed £12million wage demands, though he insists the delay in agreeing a new deal is nothing to do with money.  "The real reasons are confidential," said Schumacher. "I would not expect anything to happen in the near future."  Schumacher finished back in fifth place in the drivers' standings last season - 24 points adrift of Montoya - and has still to prove he can finally emerge from the shadow of his big brother, world champion Michael.

1/4/04

Luyendyk teams with Pocket Choppers    Arie Luyendyk Jr., a veteran Indy Racing League competitor and the 2003 Infiniti Pro Series’ “Most Popular Driver Award” winner, has partnered with Pocket Choppers, Inc. from Belding, MI, for the 2004 racing season.

Pocket Choppers is a company that produces and distributes miniature motorized bikes that look and sound just like their bigger counterparts – full-sized motorcycles!

“These bikes are so cool!” stated Arie Jr. after getting his first taste of riding the Pocket Chopper through the streets of Scottsdale. “They reach around 40 mph which, on a bike this small, is really fast. This is going to be the hottest pit bike in the IRL next year! I’m pretty tall, but the bike still fits me and is comfortable. We’re going to have some fun with this Pocket Chopper in the next few weeks! I want to thank Joel and Rachel Golden for the opportunity they have given me to represent their product. I’m sure we’ll get a lot of interest in the Pocket Chopper from the racing community.”

Kicking off their association, both Pocket Choppers and Arie Luyendyk Jr. will be appearing at the 2004 O’Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, OK. Pocket Choppers will be exhibiting in a trade show booth for the duration of the event lasting January 7-10, 2004, while Arie Jr. will sign autographs and meet with the fans both Thursday and Friday, January 8-9, in the Pocket Choppers booth.

'We are ecstatic to be teamed up with Arie," said Pocket Choppers CEO Joel Golden. "We think that this is a great opportunity for people to see our little chopper. This is also a great opportunity for Arie to make his presence felt as he rumbles by everyone in the pits! We wish him the best of luck in his first year of Indy Car racing!"

Pocket Choppers are built with a Tecumseh 4-stroke engines, Comet Torq-A-Verter, #40 chain, 14-gauge frame tubing, straight pipe exhaust for a big bike sound, an 8-inch front wheel and a 6.5-inch rear wheel, custom-made show quality seat and aluminum triple clamps. They have ergonomically designed peg and handle bar positions for riders up to and over 6’ and 300 pounds, and they come in red, blue or black, although custom colors are also available (check out Tony Stewart’s new “Home Depot Orange” bike at the Chili Bowl).

1/4/04
Karting News

Rain hits Gidley karting classic   Things looked very bleak weather-wise heading into Saturday's opening of the Memo Gidley Karting Clinic. El Memo conditions had drenched Oahu with six straight days of heavy rains, keeping the CART veteran down to a single surfing session over New Year's and thoroughly saturating all parts of the island. Some areas reported as much as 6.4 inches of rain Friday night (including 4+ in the Barbers Point area by Hawaii Raceway Park), and the morning paper blared "don't expect blue sky before Monday at the earliest." But miraculously the opposite prevailed, and the young karters who turned out for day one got a proper education and plenty of on-track lead-follow time as the track quickly dried out and sun block inexplicably became the order of the day. "Waking up this morning, we were pretty confident it was going to rain today for sure, but we were prepared for it; we thought we could still have some fun. It's a relatively new track, which means there's not a real slippery race line, so even though you don't have rain tires, you can still run on it and have a good time, and the kart works pretty well. I'm really happy it dried out, because most of the kids race in the dry and want to work on their dry line, so it was nice it turned out pretty clear." The veterans get their turn Sunday with full practice, qualifying and race simulations scheduled as they compete for the Jim Russell Racing School prize package. But parts of Oahu began raining steadily again overnight...

1/4/04

Moss says F1 was better before  Former British F1 driver, Sir Stirling Moss says he wouldn't swap the measly salary that he earned in the 1950's if it means having to endure the lifestyle that today's drivers have. "The drivers of today might get the money but I think they had the worse deal compared to my day because we had all the crumpet!" Moss told Revved Up.

"In my era, half the pleasure was driving to places. I had a pretty nice car and you would just drive from one small town where the race was to the next - like Bordeaux or Sanremo. You would drive there and then you'd have a party at the end. And if you didn't go to the party, you wouldn't get your money."

"It was much different then than now. There was a great comradeship, which is nice. I think we certainly had the best of it. We didn't get the amounts of money they do now but still it wasn't too bad. I was the highest-paid driver in the world in Formula 1 in 1961. I did 52 races, won 37 of them and my gross income, if you index-linked it to today, was about £500,000."

"Nowadays, with all the outside inputs regarding sponsors, the sport takes over the lives of the drivers. I can't think of anything worse."

Moss also believes that the on-going attempt by F1 to make the sport safer for drivers and spectators has taken a lot away from the spectacle. He said: "The one advantage we had was that it was a dangerous sport."

"Funnily enough when you are in it, the danger is a very important ingredient, just like salt is for cooking. The fact that it was dangerous made it a lot more special. You don't want to die, of course, but if you managed to pull a move on another guy it felt fantastic."

"One thing that I never really experienced was G-force. You did get a little on high-banked circuits but not all that much. The worry of being safe never really entered our minds. But if I had experienced how safe the cars are now I would be just the same as the drivers nowadays and think 'Christ, this is dangerous!'"

He added: "Safety has become important but they don't mind buggering up the circuits with chicanes. Safety has to be a big consideration but if you're asking me, I think Formula 1 has got worse overall."

1/4/04

Button expects 2004 to be competitive  "It's going to be so competitive,” Jenson Button told the BBC of the 2004 season. “There's not one team you could pick out which is going to be above the rest. We're going to be a lot stronger, and Renault will still be around that area. Toyota will be strong and Jaguar are going to make a good step forward. It's going to be a great season and it will be good to see the field bunch up a bit more and have some competitive racing."

1/4/04
Industry News

Chicagoland Expands Infield facilities   Due to the increased demand for extra spaces in the Infield RV area at Chicagoland Speedway, an additional 184 RV spaces have been made available for race fans to purchase for the 2004 season. "The growth of motorsports and the overall excitement both locally and nationally is very evident by the increased demand we have each season for additional RV spaces," said Matthew Alexander, vice president and general manager of Chicagoland Speedway. The additional infield RV spaces have been added along the backstretch, as well as the inside of turn 1, allowing race fans to get even closer to the on-track racing excitement. Chicagoland Speedway currently offers guests the opportunity to purchase an RV space in the Infield and Speedway Ridge. The Infield area offers track and non-trackside spaces, while Speedway Ridge, located outside of the backstretch between Turns 2 & 3, offers race fans an extraordinary view overlooking the entire speedway.

1/4/04
TEAM USA News

Team USA in New Zealand   UPDATE  The three winners of the 2003/2004 Team USA Scholarship continued to show a good turn of speed today in a test session at a blisteringly hot Levels Raceway, Timaru, which will host the opening two races of the Talley’s International Formula Ford Series next weekend, January 10/11.

Joe D’Agostino, 19, from Plantation, Fla., emerged marginally the quickest of the trio, posting a best lap at 1m 06.8s around the 1.49-mile (2.4 kms) track on New Zealand’s South Island. Charlie Kimball, 18, from Camarillo, Calif., was within 0.2s in his identical Stealth/Van Diemen, with Ryan Millen, 19, from Newport Beach, Calif., also right on the pace. Unofficially, all three Americans were clocked faster than a few other local drivers, including Auckland’s Tim Edgell who took his brand-new Van Diemen RF03 to third- and second-place finishes in the opening round of the New Zealand national championship at Pukekohe in November.

"We’re all feeling very comfortable in the cars now," said D’Agostino, "and we’re starting to understand what we need out of the cars, so it’s good. Timaru is a relatively short track but it’s fun. It kind of reminds me of Lime Rock Park (Conn.) because you get to do a lot of laps and you can really work on improving from corner to corner.

"It was really hot today," he continued. "It was up around 90 or 100 degrees, but what’s good is that even though the track was getting slower as it got hotter, we were all setting similar lap times. I think we’re going to be in good shape for the race. It’s going to be a dog-fight between the three of us."

Kimball, too, was pleased with the test.

"I’m getting to understand what the car needs," he said. "It was a really good day, but it was SO hot! It reminded me of Buttonwillow (Calif.) in the summer – it’s almost too hot to run in the heat of the day."

Millen continued to run an older-spec engine (the race motor will be fitted in time for a final shakedown test at Ruapuna next week), but was delighted with his progress.

"Today went really well; it went great," said Millen, who is the only one of the three to have raced previously in New Zealand – he won last year’s South Island regional championship, also in a Canterbury Motor Racing School-prepared Stealth/Van Diemen. "I’m losing a little time on the straightaways but that’s OK. Once we get the new engine, we should be good to go."

D’Agostino, Kimball and Millen are following in the footsteps of the likes of Jimmy Vasser, who won the first Team USA Scholarship in 1990, Bryan Herta (1991), Jerry Nadeau (1993), Memo Gidley (1995) and A.J. Allmendinger (2001). The trio will take a little time off to explore the New Zealand countryside before their next test at Ruapuna.  1/1/04 - Below left is a photo of two of the three Stealth Van Diemens that the Team USA Scholarship drivers -- Joe D'Agostino, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Millen -- will drive in the upcoming Talley's New Zealand International Formula Ford Series, which will include the New Zealand Grand Prix at Teretonga Park on January 18.  All three drivers tested at Ruapuna Park on December 30/31, with D'Agostino unofficially circulating below the Formula Ford lap record with a lap at 1m 29.88s.  Bottom right photo, Left to right: Joe D'Agostino, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Millen pose with one of the Canterbury Motor Racing School-prepared Stealth Van Diemens.

1/4/04

Jimmie Johnson gets taste of prototypes   NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson got his first taste of Daytona Prototype racing today when he got behind the wheel of the Howard-Boss Motorsports No. 4 Boss Snowplows Chevrolet Crawford Daytona Prototype.

Johnson was able to get in his first few laps just before the morning session was checkered. "It was good. I think I made two laps. I spun out on my second one. I didn't hit anything. I got (the spin) out of the way. It's a totally different vehicle to be in. I'm going to have a lot of fun with it. I'm really looking forward to it. It's the first time meeting a lot of the drivers I'm teamed up with. It's going to be a great experience," said the driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet in the NEXTEL Cup Series.

"I've always wanted to compete in it (the Rolex 24 At Daytona). I didn't realize I was going to have a chance to compete at such a great level with the Crawford group and the Daytona Prototype class. Through the holidays, it's been the first thing I've been thinking about. I know Daytona is coming for us in the Cup car, but my first race is going to be the Rolex race. When I wake up each morning and think of race cars, I've been thinking of that race and nothing else," Johnson continued.

"It's just for fun. It's obviously a serious effort. They (Howard-Boss Motorsports) want to win the race. For me, it's a great way to work out all the rust out of my head and get all my hand and eye coordination working proper. It's a great way for me to knock off the rust and have some fun," he said.

In addition to Johnson, NEXTEL Cup drivers Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are expected to be on hand for pre-season testing this weekend, piloting the Howard-Boss Motorsports No. 2 Chevrolet Crawford. Steve Park has also been in discussions with Schuitemaker Motorsports about testing the Grand-Am Cup Series team's No. 35 Nissan 350Z this weekend.

1/4/04

Paul Newman to drive in Rolex 24   Academy Award-winning actor Paul Newman returned to Daytona International Speedway this weekend to participate in pre-season testing in Gunnar Racing's No. 79 Porsche FABCAR. While not listed on the team's official entry, both Newman and Michael Brockman have joined Gunnar Jeannette in the team's Daytona Prototype.

"I was very impressed. My expectations were definitely exceeded. The car is an absolute blast to drive. The Porsche engine is wonderful," said Jeannette of his first laps in the Daytona Prototype. "We are all very happy. Paul's happy, and we just want to get more seat time. Everyone likes it though, and that's a big part of why we are here."

Newman and Jeannette teamed with NASCAR's Kyle Petty last season in the Bully Hill Vineyards 250 at Watkins Glen International, however Petty has yet to be added to the team's entry.

In keeping with tradition, the number on the Daytona Prototype corresponds to Newman's age at the time of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The actor/racer will celebrate his 79th birthday on January 26th.

1/3/04

Purnell backs Klien decision  Jaguar boss Tony Purnell predicts that rookie Christian Klien will 'surprise' people in 2004, despite the fact that some have already written off the Austrian, claiming he only got the seat due to funds he will bring from Red Bull.

Speaking to British newspaper The Independent, Purnell said, "I rate Christian and I think he's going to surprise people.  He is very mature, and you have to remind yourself that he is only 20. 
"When he first tested for us at Valencia, I went out to watch him on the track. People don't do that very much these days.  There's a point where you can see most of the track, and I was quite surprised. He seemed to be driving very calmly and leaving lots of room on the exit to each corner. Frankly, he looked pretty slow and I was beginning to wonder, but then I saw the lap times he was doing, and I was very surprised. They were genuinely quick."

1/3/04

Bankruptcy court approves procedures for sale of CART assets   U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Otte made several definitive decisions Tuesday, Dec. 30, as he approved the procedure submitted by CART, Inc. to sell its assets and accepted the Open Wheel Racing Series, LLC (“Open Wheel”) proposal to purchase said assets as a “qualified bid.” The proceeding was held in Indianapolis in the Birch Bayh Federal Building and Courthouse. No other buyers have indicated an interest in the CART assets to date.

The court also established a timeline to complete the proceedings. Any other parties interested in submitting competing bids must do so no later than Jan. 23, and the court will render a final decision with regard to the Open Wheel proposal on Jan. 28.

“We’re very pleased and encouraged with the proceedings,” said Attorney James Moloy, who represented Open Wheel at the hearing. “The bankruptcy judge quickly recognized the importance of an expedited sales process in order to ensure the 2004 Champ Car World Series season.

“The court’s ruling was expected and approved the precise relief requested by both CART and Open Wheel,” added Moloy.

“We continue to have complete confidence in our work and vision for the Champ Car World Series,” explained Paul Gentilozzi, an Open Wheel partner and owner of Rocketsports Racing. “As the closing of the transaction progresses, Open Wheel will continue the planning process of the operational details required to conduct the 2004 Champ Car World Series.

“Our stakeholders and fans continually tell us what a phenomenal product we have in the Champ Car World Series,” continued Gentilozzi. “We completely agree, and we’re resolute in our intent to return the Series to its rightful place in the international motorsports arena.”

Kevin Kalkhoven, an Open Wheel partner and co-owner of PK Racing, welcomed the decision.

“This is another important step toward ensuring the future of Champ Car,” he said. “We remain committed to our goal for an expedient resolution so that our sponsors, teams, promoters, and fans can be assured of yet another exciting season of Champ Car racing. It’s what they deserve and we intend to deliver.”

The 2004 Champ Car World Series racing season is slated to begin April 18 with its 22nd running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Reigning Champ Car Drivers’ Champion Paul Tracy will return to defend his 2003 Long Beach win.  OWRS LLC

1/3/04

CART Spring Training to return to Sebring  UPDATE  As we suspected, the Spring Training dates have been changed due to the delay in the CART season to April. Spring Training will be in early March, but not at Sebring. 1/3/04 - Now that the start of the CART season has been delayed until Long Beach in April, we are not sure if CART's Spring Training dates will be changed.  However, according to Sebring's website, it was slated to be February 4-6, 2004 and admission was $10 for fans.

1/3/04
Formula 3

American Richard Antinucci may stay in F3  American Richard Antinucci, winner of the recent Korean Super Prix F3 race, may stay in Formula 3 for a third season.  The 22-year-old American could stay in the British championship for a full campaign with Renault powered Hitech Racing, with which he won in South Korea, or he may go to Japan to lead the attack of Toyota backed TOM’S reports Autosport.  “In terms of prestige and wanting to put right in England what I didn’t before, I’d like to go to Hitech and go for the championship,” he said. “But it’s based on funding and sponsorship, which I don’t need for Japan, and that will determine what I get.”   Hitech boss David Hayle said before Christmas: “We’re very keen to run him but we’re no nearer than we were a week ago. I don’t know what the chances are.”  [Editor's Note:  This American has proven to be fast and can beat the best Europe has to offer in the ultra-competitive British F3 series. Christian Klien leapt right from F3 Euroseries to F1 next year, that is how competitive F3 is in Europe.  The CART Champ Car series desperately needs more fast American youngsters.  How come no Champ Car teams have tested Antinucci?]

1/3/04

Does sportscar racing have a future?   With Grand-Am and ALMS beating each other into the ground a la CART and IRL, does sports car racing have a future?  Roger Edmondson, president of Grand-Am, and Scott Atherton, President of ALMS had this to say in a Autosport interview -  “The divide is not as pronounced as single seaters, but there is confusion, there’s no way around it,” admits Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the ALMS. “You’ve got to be a student of the sport to know the differences because we both have Porsches, Ferraris and Corvettes.

“We’ve got a great event at Sebring and they’ve got a great event at Daytona, but they’re going in a completely separate direction compared to most of the world.”

Roger Edmondson, president of Grand-Am, concurs with Atherton. “It’s not that we are sailing into waters and firing at each other,” he says. “It’s just that our approach to the business is not compatible.”

Says Atherton: “We haven’t been able to attract comparable competition for Audi since Cadillac left, but last year Rob Dyson’s LMP675 team beat Audi and got the overall win at Sears Point and it wasn’t because of rain or accidents. We’ve got a factory Corvette effort from GM in GTS and it only beat Ferrari by one point this year, so the competition is excellent.

“Sportscar racing was in its darkest hour in the early’90s. There were no manufacturers, fans or television, and rules changed week to week and sometimes session to session. But with stable rules, we’ve embraced fans, manufacturers and privateers, and we’ve got a good product.”

Started in 2000 by the France family, Grand-Am obviously has excellent funding, but more of a
stock ’flavor than the ALMS. In addition to the Rolex24 Hours of Daytona and Six Hours at The Glen, it partners with NASCAR and IRL on selected road courses inside ovals.

“Sportscar fans are not confused – they either love us or hate us,” says Edmondson. “But the sportscar fan base is a relatively small number of people in this country and the general public doesn’t have sportscars on its radar at all.

“Our best assets are the steady guidance of Jim France and our schedule. We’re only a four-year-old company, but we’re going to use NASCAR’s formula and we’ve got confidence.”

Does road racing have a future, sportscar style? “People always ask, ‘Is there enough business for two sportscar series?’, and my standard answer is, There’s not enough for one’,” says Edmondson. “Ovals are easiest for the American public because we’re stick-and-ball oriented. There is an audience out there for sportscars. I’m just not sure how big it’s ever going to be.”  [Editor's Note:  It should be noted that the France family is either directly or indirectly behind the split in both Indy Cars and Sportscars, which makes both of them weak and on life support.  Meanwhile, their NASCAR series is booming, perhaps by coincidence, perhaps not] 

1/3/04

Williams duo prepare for launch  The BMW WilliamsF1 Team drivers, Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, are waiting in anticipation for the launch of the WilliamsF1 BMW FW26 in Valencia.

Every member of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team is looking forward to the official car launch in Valencia on 5th January, where the team’s contender for the 2004 season, the WilliamsF1 BMW FW26, will be unveiled. Engineers and mechanics are eagerly waiting to watch their car taking to the track for the first time and it’s no different for the drivers Ralf Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya and test driver Marc Gené.

Components of the FW26 have already been tested during November and December, but seeing the complete car running for the first time is always an exciting moment. “Even though a driver is involved in the technical development of a new car, the launch is something special”, said Ralf. The 28-year-old German is looking forward to driving the FW26 for the first time. “It feels just like Christmas, you know roughly what you are going to get, but you’re not exactly sure.”

Juan Pablo feels certain that the WilliamsF1 BMW FW26 is going to be a winner. “The team has done an excellent job, and I firmly believe that we will have an advantage in 2004”.

His team-mate Ralf adds, “Last year in Barcelona, before the official launch, I crept around the back to take a look at the car.”  Williams BMW

1/3/04

Jimmie Johnson to also race in Rolex 24   Howard-Boss Motorsports and Crawford Race Cars announced today that former Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson (EFR) will team with car owner Dave Brule and NASCAR Superstar Jimmie Johnson to drive the No. 4 Boss Snowplow DP03 Daytona Prototype entry in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

"With the addition of Jimmie Johnson, our driver lineup is complete," said Brule, owner/driver of the No. 4 Boss Snowplow Daytona Prototype. "As car owner, I couldn't be more pleased with the talent we've assembled. Elliott and Butch have five overall Rolex 24 At Daytona wins and incredible racing histories. Jimmie has obviously proven his ability to drive just about anything and is clearly one of the rising stars in NASCAR. I'm also quite pleased with the blend of personalities. These guys have been absolutely great to work with. Not only are they extremely professional, they are fun to be around."

"Both Rick Howard and I are pleased with the (test) results at Homestead and are looking forward to its (DP03 Daytona Prototype) first run at Daytona," Brule continued. "Plus, we can't say enough about the effort put in by Max (Crawford) and the team at Crawford Race Cars -- they've been superb."

1/2/04

How slow is a Grand-Am prototype?   UPDATE  Some readers respond, Dear AR1, Following on from the above Hot News item, may I bring to your attention the following quote from Sascha Maassen from an interview at DailySportscar.com, made in October after his drive at Mont-Tremblant. It sums up just how dumbed down the DP cars are, and how pathetic the whole Grand-Am series is (especially since at most races the entry numbers have to be made up by Grand-Am Cup cars!). “Racing the Daytona Prototype at Mt. Tremblant was really fun. It was an interesting weekend for me as I was racing at a track I have never been to, in a car that I have never been in. The Porsche Fabcar handled well, and had good power, but it is not really what I would consider a prototype. Performance wise, I would guess it would fall somewhere between a GT and a GTS car in the ALMS."  The full article is here if you are a subscriber.  Stuart Page  Dear AutoRacing1.com, It costs $400,000 for a Daytona Prototype.  $400K for those slow pigs?  What a waste of money.  Mordichai Rosen, LA, Calif1/2/04 - The new Grand-Am prototypes are so slow that last year's pole time of 1:50.512 sec set in the No. 88 Multimatic Ford Focus Daytona Prototype was a full 17 seconds (yes, you read that right) off the Daytona lap record of 1:33.875 sec set in 1993 by P.J. Jones in the All American Races Toyota Eagle MKIII.  17 seconds off the lap record is downright pathetic and underscores the fact that these cars are not a test of driver skill, but a test of not running into each other. In fact the prototype was not the fastest qualifying car in 2003.  A Corvette was 1.2 seconds faster but the rules mandate the prototypes must start up front!  The race record is 112.897mph: Hasemi, Hoshino, Suzuki, Oloffson; Nissan R91 CP (1992)... If you consider the time spent in the pits, the actual on-track lap times back then were on average probably as quick as the 2003 Grand Am pole... and they did 762 laps!  Oh...and don't forget that the 2003 winner of the Daytona 24 was a GT Porsche.....a GT Porsche mind you! The margin of victory was 9 laps. But hey...that won't happen again.....thanks to the "managed racing" sanctioning body slowing down the GT's so they won't outshine their beloved prototypes. Next thing you know...they'll have to de-tune the street version so it can race in Grand-Am.  Oh my! This is NASCAR's concept of road racing?  And you wonder why the rest of the world looks down their noses at American Racing?  Niki Lauda rightfully termed American Racing Lazy Racing.  What do you call Grand-Am Racing?  How about Pathetically Slow Lazy Racing?

1/2/04

Bräcks have baby girl, but Kenny still suffering    New Year's Eve saw Kenny Bräck's wife Anita give birth to the couple's first child while Kenny was recovering from having his gallbladder removed in the same hospital.  Kenny Bräck missed the birth.  Baby Karma was born at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio at 6:37 p.m. local time on New Years Eve. Mother and daughter are both well as is Kenny. Since his terrible October accident at the Texas Motor Speedway in an IRL car, Bräck has suffered from repeated gallbladder attacks.  This on top of the multitude of fractures he suffered.  We wish the Bräcks well with their new daughter.

1/2/04

Fast Facts: 42nd Rolex 24 At Daytona   The Rolex 24 At Daytona is the one of the most prestigious sports car races in the world and the season opener to the Rolex Sports Car Series.
Dates: January 29-February 1, 2004
Race Start: Saturday, January 31, 2004
Race Finish: Sunday, February 1, 2004
Course: Daytona Speedway: 3.56-mile combined high bank tri-oval/infield road course
Distance: 24 hours
Cars: Purpose-built sleek coupes (Daytona Prototype) and production based coupes
Event Sponsor: Rolex U. S. A., Incorporated
2003 Overall Winner: No. 66 The Racer’s Group Porsche (Drivers: Kevin Buckler, Sonoma, Calif., Michael Schrom, Ghent, N.Y., Timo Bernhard, Germany, Jorg Bergmeister, Germany).
Margin Of Victory: 9 laps
2003 Pole Winner: Scott Maxwell, 115.969 mph, 01:50.512 sec, No. 88 Multimatic Ford Focus Daytona Prototype
Distance Covered Record: 2,712.720 miles: Masahero Hasemi, Kazuyoshi
Hosino, Toshio Suzuki, Anders Oloffson: Nissan R91 CP (1992)
Qualifying Record: 136.521mph; 1:33.875 seconds (1993): P. J. Jones, All
American Racers Toyota Eagle MKIII
Race Record: 112.897mph: Hasemi, Hoshino, Suzuki, Oloffson; Nissan R91 CP (1992)

1/2/04

Luyendyk Jr. to drive in Rolex 24  Arie Luyendyk Jr., Indy Racing League competitor and son of two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, will pilot the #9 Multimatic Ford Focus Daytona Prototype car in the upcoming Rolex 24 At Daytona for the SpeedSource team on January 29–February 1, 2004.  Arie Jr. will be teamed with veteran endurance racers Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr., with a fourth driver for the #9 team being announced in the near future. Arie Jr. is participating in a practice session for the Rolex 24 At Daytona January 3-5, 2004.

SpeedSource has had many years of success in endurance racing, particularly in Mazdas, but 2004 will be their first attempt in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the powerful Prototype machines, the premier class in the Rolex Sports Car Series

“I am very excited about the chance to compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona,” said Arie Jr. “This will be the SpeedSource team’s first run at that prestigious race in the Daytona Prototype class, so I’m hoping I can run a strong race for them in their inaugural attempt in that class. SpeedSource and owner Sylvain Tremblay have given me a great opportunity to show my talents in the greatest endurance race in America. I can’t wait to get on track and start working with my new teammates, Mike (Borkowski) and Paul (Mears Jr.)”

SpeedSource owner Sylvain Tremblay assembled a few veterans to partner with 22-year-old Arie Jr. for this mammoth event. “We’re excited to have Arie on our team for this prestigious race,” stated Tremblay. “It’s great that we were able to put Arie Jr. with seasoned veterans like (Mike) Borkowski and (Paul) Mears Jr. on the #9 car. A good finish will be expected by the entire team with the talent and experience we have in that car. It’s going to be fun to watch.”

1/2/04
Industry News

After initial boom, Mexico economy goes bust  This LA Times article says (registration required),  (Excerpts from article) Rising exports to the United States fueled Mexico's growth in the first years of NAFTA. Foreign companies spent billions of dollars on factories that made everything from cars to vacuum cleaners. Engineers and skilled managers were in such demand that companies engaged in bidding wars for their services.  Then, in 2000, the U.S. economy slowed down, dragging Mexico's down with it. The U.S. has begun to recover — but Mexico remains moribund, hobbled by serious problems that NAFTA had briefly masked.

However, they now recognize that Mexico's 1990s boom was merely hiding profound flaws: a weak educational system that produces too few engineers and technocrats, high energy costs, low spending on research and development, and systemic corruption.

Citing these shortcomings, the Switzerland-based World Economic Forum recently ranked Mexico 47th in global competitiveness, behind such countries as Botswana, Tunisia and Chile.

Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who as president of Mexico in the early 1990s fought hard for NAFTA, says the country squandered many of the opportunities the treaty provided.

"Unfortunately, from 1995 on, reforms to make sure Mexico took advantage of NAFTA were left behind," Salinas said.

The advantages conferred by NAFTA have eroded. Mexico's proximity to the U.S., the world's largest consumer market, means less in a world of ever-faster air and ocean transportation. And trade barriers have fallen around the world, devaluing Mexico's special trade status.

Mexico has lost nearly half a million manufacturing jobs in the past three years to countries as far away as China and as near as Honduras. Last year, foreign investment — an engine of job growth since NAFTA — declined to its lowest level in 10 years.

Over the summer, China displaced Mexico as the No. 2 exporter to the U.S. (Canada is first.)

"NAFTA is stuck," said Federico Sada Gonzalez, chief executive of Vitro, a glass manufacturer in Monterrey whose post-NAFTA exports to the United States grew 62% before leveling off three years ago.

Others say the reality is more complicated.

"The issue is not whether Mexico is competitive. It is that other countries have become more competitive," said Alfredo Thorne, an economist at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in Mexico City. Competing in the world economy is like going up a down escalator, he said: "If you stop making progress, you lose ground."

"Five years ago, Mexico was the logical place for manufacturers to go. Now China is logical," he said.

Red tape and high transportation expenses now mean that it costs the same to ship a product to Houston from Shanghai as it does from Mexico City, said Eduardo Bailey, a Mexican legislator who is secretary of the Chamber of Deputies' Economy Commission.

"China threatens all of us," said Jorge Verastequi, spokesman for Grupo Industrial Saltillo, a Mexican auto parts manufacturer in Saltillo.

1/2/04

NHL to sponsor Mayfield in Shootout  The National Hockey League will sponsor Jeremy Mayfield's Nextel Cup #19 Dodge in this year's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona in February.  The car's paint scheme will be unveiled January 8th at Daytona International Speedway.

1/2/04

LBGP starts ad campaign   Today's LA Times newspaper has an advertisement for the April Long Beach GP Champ Car race.  It looks like they are not too worried about the race not happening due to ISC's potential bid to buy the series out from under OWRS.

1/2/04

NASCAR gross up 50%  NASCAR had $3 billion in gross revenues for 2002, according to Florida Trend magazine. That represented a 50% increase over the previous year and much of the increase is due to the new TV contract. The 2003 figures have not been completed.

1/2/04

Childress warms to playoff idea  This Tennessean.com article says, Prominent team owner Richard Childress was originally cool toward the late-season playoff being considered by NASCAR.  Gradually he's changing his mind.

Childress, like more and more observers, is starting to realize the unprecedented drama and interest that a 10-driver, 10-race showdown would generate.

''I can certainly see where the added media exposure and excitement surrounding a playoff atmosphere would help grow the sport and continue its success,'' Childress said.

Childress retired as a driver to become a team owner — he fielded the cars that Dale Earnhardt drove to six of his seven championships. He has tremendous influence in the sport and his support of the playoff would be invaluable.

Childress admitted he was like many fans at first. He didn't fully understand what NASCAR was proposing.

''When I first heard about it I didn't think much of it,'' he said. ''Now I think I have a better understanding now of what NASCAR is thinking. Sometimes you have to step back and take a look at the big picture.''

The proposed system would match the top 10 drivers in the standings in a battle for the championship in the final 10 races of the season. All drivers would have 26 races to make the top 10.

Drivers who don't make the top 10 with 10 races to go would continue to race. No serious championship contender would be eliminated. No driver has ever won the championship from 11th or further back in the final 10 races.

1/2/04

Raikkonen to get first crack at new McLaren  Team McLaren Mercedes driver Kimi Raikkonen will get behind the wheel of the MP4-19 for the first time next week, as the team begins a four-day test in Spain.   The Finn will get his first drive of the team's 2004 challenger at the Jerez circuit, where testing takes place from January 8-11.   Kimi said that he was looking forward to getting behind the wheel. "It is looking very promising and should be a good car for next year."  Also present at the test will be David Coulthard and Pedro de la Rosa, who have both driven the car previously. This will be the team's first test of 2004.

1/2/04
F
2 & F3

Fortec announces F2 plans   The British-based Fortec team has announced it will quit the British F3 championship to race in Formula 2, which replaces Formula 3000 in 2005.  The team, which has previously entered both the International and Euro F3000 championships, also runs cars in the Formula Renault UK Championship.   Team boss Richard Dutton told Motorsport News that he expected F2 to be a much more natural progression into Formula One than F3000 has been.  Fortec have been assisting F3000 engine supplier Zytek to test a new chassis which they are developing, based around the former Reynard Formula Nippon car. However, Lola will get the F2 contract, not Zytek.  Zytek will develop the car for another series.  The car was tested at Misano in Italy before Christmas, with Enrico Toccacelo driving. The Italian set a fastest lap of 1:18.60.   This compares with 1:20.92 for the Lola B99/50 used in the Euro3000 championship tested by Fabrizio del Monte, set on the same day.   Coloni tested the Lola B2/50, currently used in International F3000, in the same week, but only set a time of 1:23.30, though this time is thought to be unrepresentative of the car, driven by the inexperienced Chanoch Nissany. Formula-3000.net

1/2/04
F3000

Arden to announce 2004 team next week   Arden boss Christian Horner says his team will be ready to announce its plans for 2004 next week.  Arden won the 2003 F3000 drivers championship with Bjorn Wirdheim and took the team's title for the second consecutive season.
"It will be difficult to better the 2003 season," Horner told Autosport. "However this is our target and we will try our very best to achieve it."  Vitantonio Liuzzi, who made his F3000 debut with Red Bull last season, is widely rumored to be joining the Arden team. Townsend Bell, who partnered Wirdheim in 2003, has a contract for 2004 but may opt for a F1 test deal instead.  Arden's announcement will be made at the Autosport International Show on January 8th.   Formula-3000.net

1/2/04

Fisichella to test for Ferrari  Giancarlo Fisichella could be handed a chance to convince Ferrari that he is worth signing by testing for the Italian giant this year, according to a story in this week's Autosport Magazine.  The new Sauber driver has made no secret of the fact that he is eyeing a switch to one of the three big teams in the future – and the close relationship between his current squad and Ferrari means that a test is highly likely to take place in 2004.  Fisichella's team boss Peter Sauber said: “For us it is important that Ferrari does a lot of tire testing this year. If they need Felipe Massa or Giancarlo, they can do it.”  That is because Sauber, one of three other Bridgestone squads, will not be able to contribute as much as had been hoped.  “We will be doing more tire testing if it's possible,” said Sauber. “But that's the problem. We do not have the staff to do a lot of tire testing.”

1/2/04

Latest Formula One News Items 

Jordan Can Win The F1 Title: Team Boss
Schu Celebrates Birthday In Norway
Junior Stars To Attend Sauber Launch
Alonso Still Tuning His F1 Race-Craft
F1 Privateers To Get Financial Boost
Klien: More Than F1's New Mega Pay-Driver
Courtney Out To Remind F1 Bosses Of Talent
Schu: Today's F1 Opposition Is Tough
The Highs And Lows Of Formula One: Jordan
Agent Keeps F1 Doors Open For Villeneuve
Schumacher: 13th Best Sportsman In World?

1/2/04
SCCA SPEED GT

Delphi develops new racing technology with Pi   Delphi Corp. said it is continuing to lead the race for advanced technology in motor sports with the introduction of groundbreaking sensor technology developed in conjunction with Pi Research, a world leader in motor sports electronics for nearly all racing segments including karting, stock and open-wheel.

The products, a three-axis angular rate sensor, a single-axis angular rate sensor, a three-axis accelerometer and a single-axis accelerometer uniquely feature built-in temperature compensation. Racecar temperatures can fluctuate between 32 and 158 degrees Fahrenheit, and that can warp data. The built-in temperature compensation in Delphi's products inhibits the effect those changing temperatures can have on data output, making the information more accurate. Engineers and crewmembers can use the more accurate data, along with input from the driver, to make changes to the racecar for better performance.

"In racing, accurate information is becoming more critical to the chase for the checkered flag and we are excited to be able to help teams through these enhanced sensor innovations," said William A. Lafontaine, Delphi's corporate director of media relations and marketing communications. "Working with Pi Research, a company known for setting the standard in motor sports electronics, to bring these technologies to the sport is a huge step in our efforts to meet the needs of the racing community and is a great opportunity to share research and development capabilities."

Delphi's three-axis angular rate sensor is the first of its kind to measure information on the car's roll, pitch and yaw, in one small package. The sensor, which measures 1.05" x 1.05" x 1.3" and weighs only 2.35 ounces, is usually mounted in the center of the vehicle to determine rotation in the x-, y- and z-axes. The single-axis angular rate sensor is 1.05" x 1.05" x 0.77" and weighs only 1.35 ounces while providing rotational rate data for a single axis.

Delphi's three-axis accelerometer measures acceleration in (Gs) in the x- y- and z-axes, while the single-axis accelerometer does the same for only one of the axes. Usually mounted in the center of the vehicle to show the forces on the car in all three axes, the three-axis accelerometer is a sleek 1.05" x 1.05" by 1.3" and weighs 2.35 ounces. The single-axis accelerometer is typically attached to a suspension component to show that component's movement during race conditions. It is 1.05" x 1.05" x 0.77" and weighs only 1.35 ounces.

1/1/04
SPEED GT

Cadillac announces 2-car effort   Continuing to demonstrate its technical capabilities and high-performance credentials, Cadillac today announced a race-going version of the CTS-V sport sedan, the most powerful car in the brand’s lineup. The CTS-V race car will compete in the 2004 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship, a highly-competitive North American race series for production based cars. Championship-winning sports car racers Max Angelelli and Andy Pilgrim will drive the works Cadillacs.

"This is a significant day for Cadillac," said Mark LaNeve, Cadillac general manager. "The CTS-V race car is further evidence of the dramatic changes taking place at Cadillac. The CTS-V race car will improve Cadillac’s credibility with luxury performance enthusiasts."

The CTS-V race car is the first race car developed by GM Racing in conjunction with the new GM Performance Division, an in-house center designed to explore potential enthusiast-oriented versions of production models. The CTS-V, introduced in late 2003 as a 2004 model, signaled Cadillac’s entry into the low-volume, high-performance luxury car niche, and was the first vehicle to wear the division’s high-performance V-series badge.

"The CTS-V race car starts from a great set of blueprints," said GM Racing Director Doug Duchardt. "The outstanding performance characteristics of the rear-drive Sigma-based CTS and CTS-V lend perfectly to a race car application. We were able to maintain a significant amount of shared parts, technologies and processes in developing the CTS-V race car."

By weight, the CTS-V race car is 73 percent stock-derived. The production CTS-V and CTS-V race car share common technology – in the form of the all-aluminum V-8 engine, front and rear suspension, steering system, differential and halfshafts – and talent, as the engineers who conceived the CTS-V for street use were directly involved in the creation of the race car.

1/1/04

***Reader Response***CART/OWRS/ISC tug-of-war   A reader responds to this article by Jim Allen, Dear Jim;  I appreciate your thinking about NASCAR and what the real benefits are for getting rid of CART. Your focus on television images is way out of proportion. No sponsor would spend the money they do based on a flashing image of their logo or product name during the race. To any sophisticated sponsor, that is a small part of their ROI. It is the association, creditability, and marketing base a NASCAR (or other series) provides. Look at the P/R, point of purchase displays, print and broadcast advertisements, driver appearances, hospitality, and marketing promotions sophisticated sponsors utilize. That is what a sponsorship is all about today, not counting impressions at 180 MPH.

As one of the first 'marketing guys' in motorsports (both with my own company and a stint at NASCAR), I have seen this change to develop viable sponsorship programs with appropriate ROI take place over the years. I understand the average race fan has no idea about all the ancillary programs that are developed and conducted by corporations to justify and utilize their sponsorships.

Please look a little deeper at what (if any) NASCAR's intentions may be with the CART situation. Don't forget their past relationships with ARCA, their drag racing organization, and IMSA. The France's do look at and understand the big picture and do very well playing chess. Fred Marik

1/1/04

Webber hopes new Jaguar isn't a dog   Mark Webber's rising reputation can be quickly extinguished if the new Jaguar R5 turns out to be a dog.  Jaguar had a promising year in 2003, but what about 2004?   “There’s always that worry for any driver,” says Webber in an Autosport interview. “Look at Giancarlo [Fisichella] last year with Jordan, or [Nick] Heidfeld in the Sauber. That is dangerous for a driver, no question. F1 is a massively fickle business – one weekend you’re a legend and the next you lock a brake up and go off and they’ve forgotten who you are.   If we don’t get the performance that we got last year then I’m still the same driver. Yeah, my reputation might not be as high as it was last season, because the other teams around us might move on a bit further than we do, but it’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

1/1/04

Webber is a Schumacher fan   Mark Webber has been compared to Michael Schumacher lately, but he downplays that. He has a lot of respect for Schumacher. In an Autosport interview he says, "Michael is an absolutely phenomenal force in our sport. He’s done everything, and there are a lot of drivers who’d be stupid to say they can’t learn from what he’s done. The guys who say they don’t respect him, they kid themselves – I look up to what he’s achieved. He’s definitely coming towards the end of his career in the next few years, but what he’s packed into the middle of his career has been amazing. It’s the ethic really, and if you can only try to get near to what he’s done then that’s great. I’m talking about off-track as well as on-track. He’s very patient, and all that stuff that’s thrown in front of his face… the demands are huge.”

1/1/04

Mosley thinks F1 is now more entertaining   In an interview in Autosport, FIA President Max Mosley had this to say, “With the exception of the old slipstreamers – which were completely boring because the only thing that mattered was the final lap – there have always been races where there wasn’t a lot of overtaking. Overtaking is now at an acceptable level, and it is good that if someone catches the car in front, he is not necessarily going to go by.

“In the old races in the ’80s,everyone started with a full tank and one set of tires, and spent the first half of the race preserving their tires. If you had one of those races now, we would all watch it and say, ‘What on earth did we see in that?’ Sometimes they show these old races and you think, ‘Oh God, that was boring.’ I think so anyway. The modern races have drama and you never quite know what is going to happen.”

F1 race drama has increased this past year because the rules now mandate that pre-race refueling be done before final pole qualifying.  No one knows how much fuel the other cars are carrying.

“That has been a big, big factor,” he says,“ and I am in a very privileged position because we know what the weights are after qualifying. It is fascinating knowing that. I would like to publish that, but we are not allowed to under the rules, and the teams don’t want it published. It is part of their strategy and one can understand that.

“However, it’s extraordinary how often the commentators get it wrong and there is one team principal in particular who is a great one for, ‘I know what is going on.’  And nine times out of 10 he gets it wrong. If you are sitting watching the television and he gets it wrong, it is hilarious.”

1/1/04

Montezemolo wants F1 points change   In a report in Autosport, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo says he thinks it is wrong that rival Kimi Raikkonen finished so close to Michael Schumacher this year in the points.  Di Montezemolo said: “Raikkonen cannot end up just two points behind Schumacher having won only one grand prix compared to Michael’s six. It doesn’t make sense and from 2005 we will try to change things.”   Any alteration to the points system would have to be agreed by the Formula 1 Commission before the end of October in order to be adopted for the 2005 season.  McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh said he would have no objections to talking about a possible change. “I don’t think either of us [McLaren and Ferrari] was wildly keen on it and we will be happy to discuss any future changes in the appropriate forum,” he said.

1/1/04

Coulthard has no plans to retire   David Coulthard has brushed off speculation that his future looks bleak by reminding us of the final grand prix of this season.  The veteran Scot says his was the 'quickest McLaren' on the difficult and renowned drivers' circuit of Suzuka, in Japan.  'That wasn't by accident,' said David, 32. 'It was through application and talent and I want to take it forward.'   Coulthard's manager, Martin Brundle, added: 'David had an outstanding end-of-season race in Japan where he was miles quicker than Kimi.  He blew his doors off on a circuit which is one of the greatest tests of skill and speed. After Japan David told me 'This must not be my last race in 2004'".  Brundle said Coulthard has 'no plans to retire' in 2005.

1/1/04

It's all about business, dirty business...   A reader writes, Didn’t Forsythe/Kalkhoven/Gentilozzi (FKG) have a chance to get it all cleanly with the $7.4m bid that they backed away from a few weeks ago and, instead, let it slide into bankruptcy? If they went this direction to save $7.4m because they wholeheartedly believed, as Kalkhoven said in his lengthy interview, that it is not in Tony George’s “interest” to buy CART, then their miscalculation might have cost them everything. I can’t believe FKG would have knowingly risked it all, but maybe they didn’t anticipate each legal step correctly and ISC/TG saw an opening and jumped on it. Part of me believes that there is almost no way FKG didn’t anticipate each legal move even though they clearly knew they were exposing it to another bidder. Kalkhoven’s statement that it isn’t in TG’s “interest” to destroy CART was so overtly naïve that it had a calculating ring to it. This isn’t Paul Tracy talking, this is a guy who was groomed at the apex of the telecom industry where LBO’s, strategic takeovers, and back-room deals are a way of life. Kalkhoven insinuating that TG wouldn’t want to be remembered by race fans as the guy who destroyed something they loved is like saying Bill Gates wouldn’t crush Netscape because “people like it”. Something’s fishy somewhere. 

…and, you write that “It's all about business, dirty business.” If FKG and Bernie build up CART and then over the next 2 years conspire to put it in position to completely overwhelm the IRL, get ABC/ESPN to not renew the TV contract, and force a merger or wipe out IRL altogether – is that still “dirty business?”  Or is that smart businessmen outthinking their opponent and taking advantage of a favorable situation? I don’t see anything dirty about what is happening in this transaction. Stuff like this goes on everyday in business all over the world. In fact, this deal probably doesn’t even get fine print coverage in FT or WSJ. Fortune 500 companies do M&A’s everyday that make this deal look like peanuts. I think the only thing we know for sure is that we know nothing. Nobody has their thumb on this deal – it is fluid and evolving day-by-day. More action than the average CART race.  Name Withheld,  Dear No Name, To address your point in the first paragraph, yes OWRS had a chance to take it all for $7.4m by going forward with the original proposal.  This assumes they had enough votes to win the proxy ballot.  By letting it slip into bankruptcy they now run the risk of losing it all because ISC, with its deep pockets most certainly can outbid OWRS.  As for it being "dirty business, " while I agree with you that this sort of maneuvering happens all the time in big business, it becomes dirty business when an entity becomes a monopoly and is so powerful it crushes all competition.  While ISC is not an "official" monopoly, there is already an antitrust lawsuit against them (Ferko case in Texas) and if you examine their actions in recent years, one can argue that they have become the Microsoft of racing in the USA.  They have their fingers in everything and are very powerful.   Mark C.

1/1/04

CART/ISC/OWRS fan fallout   Some reader feedback on the CART bankruptcy issues - Any attempt by Tony George and ISC to kill the OWRS buyout of CART for the express purpose of eliminating the "rival" series will only prove that their egos are far larger than their intelligence. One only has to look at the strong fan support of CART, coupled with the lack of interest and support for the IRL "crapwagons," to see that the backlash against ISC, Tony and ultimately NASCAR would do far greater damage to their own perceived empire than competing against the new and revitalized Champ Car World Series. I read with great interest the "Letters to the Editor" section of the current issue of RACER that included strong and vocal objections to RACER's participation and publication of the IRL propaganda piece that was sent to all subscribers. It is this kind of fan loyalty and the fan's understanding of the true sport of racing that distinguishes the fan base for a racing series such as Champ Cars or ALMS from that of "free ticket giveaways" to artificially add a few warm bodies to the seats, is that the true racing fan's money will not support Tony's egotistical efforts and will stay within the fan's pockets or be spent on other quality racing efforts such as ALMS and F1. Paul Klien, Sacramento  Another writes, I have to believe Kevin has all reasonable contingencies covered. The only possible one (made in his public statements) if one is willing to spend (risk including legal costs) a large sum to no other end than shutting down of CART for good. I think Penske would have a say here and he has said publicly he would be no part of this action . Remember this is the minor leagues for Kevin.  Richard Bowden  A third writes, Let’s say that 88 Corp or ISC or whatever we call the enemy, submits a competing bid till Jan 28th. A correct bid, then OWRS submits a counter bid and so on. They will at least try to make it very expensive for OWRS if they will fail to buy it. My question is, is there a top value, or there’s no limits in bids? So theoretically the ISC can counter bid as long as they want? They can make it up to $5-10-20 million?  Csaba Toth  Dear Csaba, there is no upper limit  Mark C.  A 4th writes, In previous reports from AR1, I recall comments to the effect that, with regard to the OWRS/CART sale, the court would not allow the purchase of the company by another business entity for the sole purpose of liquidating CART's assets and shutting it down. My impression was that under Chapter 11 guidelines, CART must be allowed to restructure its operation in order to continue as a viable business. Question: Your latest comments seem to be in opposition to this earlier position. I'm sure that you are planning a more detailed review of these matters and it would be interesting to set the facts straight on the purpose of an ISC buyout attempt, given the information you supplied earlier. ISC could choke hold OWRS in ensuing years via business tactics as opposed to getting into a bidding war, don't you think? Scott Adams, Chicago, IL  Dear Scott, In bankruptcy there is no guarantee of the company continuing.  The goal is to get the best deal for the shareholders and the creditors.  In that regard, in this case with ISC's deep pockets, they can easily outbid OWRS thereby taking all the race contracts and dividing them among their Grand-Am series and the IRL.  Perhaps Winston Cup would even take one or two.  Mark C.

1/1/04
Industry News

Boundless and WoO need more time   Boundless Motor Sports Racing, Inc. (OTCBB:BMSR) (Boundless) and World of Outlaws, Inc., announced that the outside closing date of the acquisition of World of Outlaws has been extended until April 9, 2004, in order to, among other things, allow additional time to complete the requisite financial audits of World of Outlaws. In addition, Boundless has extended the maturity date of the $1,200,000 loan it has advanced to World of Outlaws.   Paul A. Kruger, Boundless Chairman and CEO, has been appointed interim Chief Executive Officer for the World of Outlaws. Ted Johnson, founder and President of the World of Outlaws, will continue acting as President until the completion of the acquisition by Boundless.   "We look forward to completing this acquisition and moving forward with the implementation of our business plan," said Kruger.

  Much More...click on archives button below
3

Hot News Archives

2000 2001 2002 2003

e-mail us:
contacts@autoracing1.com

Back to the top

AutoRacing1 is an independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by CART Inc., NASCAR, FIA,  FedEx, Winston, or any other series sponsor. This material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed without permission.
User agreement & disclaimer

Copyright 1999 - 2004, AutoRacing1, Inc., Hamilton, NJ

Banner 10000012



Watch CART, F1, NASCAR, ALMS & more on DirecTV
Our Price: $29.99
Order Now

Free Installation