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Andretti & Rudd first to crack 188 MPH    Leading the way Wednesday at Daytona was Ricky Rudd, who posted the fastest speed in testing with a blazing 188.460 lap. John Andretti, driving Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s No. 1, also topped 188 mph, going 188.198 mph. "We're definitely real pleased with that," Rudd said. "Gosh, it's been a long time since I've been at the top of the speed chart at Daytona. It's been many years. Daytona's been a good track for the Wood Brothers, but there's been a lot of big changes within the team. We're just reaping some of the benefits of all the changes (co-owner) Eddie (Wood) put into the team - a lot of personnel changes, a lot of good people brought on board. We're just tickled to death about it."  Behind Rudd, Andretti and Johnson in Wednesday's afternoon session was Sterling Marlin's No. 40 Dodge (187.649) and Ken Schrader's No. 49 Dodge (187.414).

The cumulative results of NASCAR Nextel Cup Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway:
1. Ricky Rudd, No. 21 Ford, 47.753 seconds, 188.470 mph, 1/14
2. John Andretti, No. 1 Chevrolet, 47.822, 188.198, 1/14
3. Michael Waltrip, No. 15 Chevrolet, 47.941, 187.731, 1/8
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48a Chevrolet, 47.941, 187.731, 1/14
5. Sterling Marlin, No. 40 Dodge, 47.962, 187.649, 1/14
6. Dale Jarrett, No. 88a Ford, 48.019, 187.426, 1/8
7. Ken Schrader, No. 49t Dodge, 48.022, 187.414, 1/14
8. Brendan Gaughan, No. 77a Dodge, 48.026, 187.398, 1/8
9. Bill Elliott, No. 91a Dodge, 48.047, 187.317, 1/14
Jeff Gordon, No. 24a Chevrolet, 48.048, 187.313, 1/14
11. Jeff Burton, No. 99a Ford, 48.115, 187.052, 1/14
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8b Chevrolet, 48.126, 187.009, 1/8
13. Greg Biffle, No. 16a Ford, 48.133, 186.982, 1/14
14. Jeremy Mayfield, No. 19b Dodge, 48.173, 186.827, 1/8
Jamie McMurray, No. 42h Dodge, 48.173, 186.827, 1/8
16. Casey Mears, No. 41t Dodge, 48.180, 186.800, 1/14
17. Elliott Sadler, No. 38a Ford, 48.183, 186.788, 1/14
18. Joe Nemechek, No. 01a Chevrolet, 48.192, 186.753, 1/8
19. Scott Riggs, No. 10b Chevrolet, 48.200, 186.722, 1/14
20. Ryan Newman, No. 12a Dodge, 48.205, 186.703, 1/13
21. Jeff Green, No. 43b Dodge, 48.206, 186.699, 1/8
22. Brian Vickers, No. 25b Chevrolet, 48.210, 186.683, 1/14
23. Kyle Petty, No. 45b Dodge, 48.212, 186.676, 1/14
24. Kevin Lepage, No. 4a Chevrolet, 48.240, 186.567, 1/14
25. Rusty Wallace, No. 2a Dodge, 48.267, 186.463, 1/13
26. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Chevrolet, 48.279, 186.416, 1/8
27. Ricky Craven, No. 32a Chevrolet, 48.344, 186.166, 1/8
28. Bobby Labonte, No. 18a Chevrolet, 48.389, 185.993, 1/14
29. Terry Labonte, No. 5a Chevrolet, 48.425, 185.854, 1/14
30. Derrike Cope, No. 50a Dodge, 48.429, 185.839, 1/14
31. Robby Gordon, No. 31a Chevrolet, 48.495, 185.586, 1/13
32. Ward Burton, No. 0b Chevrolet, 48.518, 185.498, 1/8
33. Dave Blaney, No. 22a Dodge, 48.531, 185.448, 1/8
34. Mark Martin, No. 6b Ford, 48.562, 185.330, 1/8
35. Kasey Kahne, No. 9b Dodge, 48.602, 185.178, 1/8
36. Kurt Busch, No. 97a Ford, 48.611, 185.143, 1/8
37. Mike McLaughlin, No. 20b Chevrolet, 48.620, 185.109, 1/8
38. Johnny Sauter, No. 30a Chevrolet, 48.624, 185.094, 1/14
39. Matt Kenseth, No. 17b Ford, 48.659, 184.961, 1/8
40. Dave Blaney, No. 23a Dodge, 48.684, 184.866, 1/14
41. Jimmy Spencer, No. 7b Dodge, 48.689, 184.847, 1/14
42. Tony Stewart, No. 20b Chevrolet, 48.852, 184.230, 1/7
43. Tony Raines, No. 74a Chevrolet, 48.863, 184.188, 1/14
44. Scott Wimmer, No. 22a Dodge, 48.934, 183.921, 1/6
45. Joe Ruttman, No. 09a Dodge, 48.966, 183.801, 1/14


Gregoire to run Rolex 24   Spirit of Daytona Racing is pleased to announce that Stephan Gregoire has been signed to contend the entire 2004 12-race season of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. Stephan will be the primary co-driver of Spirit of Daytona Racing
owner/driver Doug Goad beginning at the 42nd Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 29 - February 1.

Gregoire comes to Spirit of Daytona Racing with impressive credentials that include six starts at the Indianapolis 500 where he qualified seventh in 1993, his rookie year, and finished eighth in 2000, both career highs. Gregoire has also competed at the 24 Hours of LeMans in France where he finished fifth in 2003 in the LMP 900 class. Gregoire was born in Neufchateau, France and currently resides in Carmel, Ind., with his wife Virginie and children Eliza and Romeo.

"I am very pleased to be driving in the Grand American Series," said Gregoire. "The Crawford Daytona Prototype looks like it's going to be a very competitive car which will give Doug and I a chance at winning the championship this year.

"I am very eager to test the car prior to the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and feel fortunate to be able to compete in the full schedule this year."


Gentilozzi: Tony George is a lap down and doesn't know he can't win   This Oregonian newspaper article says, Paul Gentilozzi, a CART team owner, said Tuesday he is confident that his group will have control of the troubled racing series after a Jan. 28 hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis.

Gentilozzi still has Portland penciled in for June 20 on a tentative CART schedule that calls for the season opener April 18 in Long Beach, Calif.

Portland promoter Mike Nealy has been trying to find a major sponsor and gather enough community support to keep the race, which began in 1984. But Nealy's effort has been hurt by the uncertainty of CART's future and the confusion over who will control a series that might not exist in three weeks.

Meanwhile, Gentilozzi said another venue wants Portland's race dates, and, "We aren't going to wait forever. We're going to hang here until we get through the first of February, when we know if we own (CART). So a kind of D-Day for Portland would be Feb. 1. . . . I'm a little confused about Portland. . . . I'm not sure what's happening there."

Gentilozzi said he was mildly surprised at Monday's announcement that Tony George's IRL might make a competing bid for CART's assets. All bids must be submitted by Jan. 23, and Gentilozzi said, "They can't conceivably get prepared to do this in 10 days or less. We've spent thousands of man-hours on this."

The threat of the IRL buying and dismantling CART does not scare Gentilozzi.

"I'm sure his intention is to buy a bunch of used racing equipment in an effort to make sure we can't race," Gentilozzi said. "It won't work. My view is, we're going into the last lap and he's a lap down. He doesn't know he can't win."

Portland city officials have signed off on a 2004 race, assuming Nealy can close the deal with Gentilozzi.

"We want CART to come, and we're still holding a date for them," said Kevin Jeans Gail, the chief of staff for City Commissioner Jim Francesconi, who oversees the Parks Bureau. "We've done what they've asked of us. We've lowered (rental) fees, the Rose Festival has sacrificed, and we've sent a positive message we want them to come to Portland."


Successful rollout of new Sauber   Team Sauber Petronas successfully completed the roll-out of the new C23 at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo in Valencia. Giancarlo Fisichella did the driving over 33 laps and completed a scheduled program, which focused on functionality tests.

"Today is my birthday and the crew surprised me with a cake. But this was not the best present I got from the team," Fisichella said. "That was the new car, which felt good on the track. I did a few runs in the afternoon and everything went well. Usually there are some problems on the day of the roll-out, but today everything was working perfectly. That's the most important thing at the moment. Next week we will be testing in Barcelona, like most of the Formula One teams, and then we can make comparisons with other cars and see just how competitive we are. Today was a great day, overall, as the C23 ran so well, so I'm happy."

"Today's roll-out program for the C23 concentrated on tests of the cooling, electronics, and fuel and hydraulic systems. The results are satisfying," Technical Director Willy Rampf said. "Tomorrow we plan to run different set-ups and will use the day to familiarize ourselves with the performance characteristics of the new car."

"33 trouble-free laps in a half day of testing is a remarkable roll-out for us and just the right birthday present for Giancarlo," Team Principal Peter Sauber added. "Nevertheless, it is too early to say more about the potential of the car. We must await references to other teams."

Giancarlo Fisichella will continue testing the C23 tomorrow before Felipe Massa takes over the driving on Friday. Team Sauber Petronas will be running in Barcelona from 20 to 23 January. Press release Sauber Petronas


Ecclestone supporting long-term future of Bahrain GP   The Bahrain Government and Bernie Ecclestone today clarified speculative media reports about the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix and its venue, the Bahrain International Circuit.

Recent stories on the status of the race have included suggestions that current terrorist threats across the Gulf region will have a negative impact.

This was refuted when the Bahrain authorities received a welcome endorsement for the status of their race from Bernie Ecclestone, President of Formula One's commercial controlling organization Formula One Management. "We have a long-term agreement with Bahrain to organise the Grand Prix. We are extremely serious about our commitment in the Middle East and fully support the addition to the FIA Formula One World Championship. Nobody is immune from terrorist threats and I know how seriously the authorities take such claims. Neither the circuit nor we have received any such threats," said Mr Ecclestone.

He continued, "Having visited the new circuit late last year I have seen that the construction work is ahead of schedule and that we are on target for the first Grand Prix in the Middle East."

Government officials in the Kingdom of Bahrain are also quick to refute media speculation. "Nobody is immune from threats. The entire Middle East region is a victim to them and we take all such claims very seriously. However, Bahrain takes its national security as a matter of paramount importance and is working very closely with its regional and international allies to minimise any risk" said a BIC spokesperson.

Answering speculation about the status of construction work at the circuit, the spokesperson said, "The construction work at the circuit is 89% completed. The final layers of tarmac will be laid within the next three weeks. All of the necessary facilities are ahead of schedule."


Tagliani says CART will race no matter what    This Toronto Sun article says, It doesn't matter who ends up owning CART, there will be a 2004 Champ Car season, Alex Tagliani told The Toronto Sun yesterday.

Tagliani, who just signed a new contract with Rocketsports Racing owner Paul Gentilozzi, said stories that Indy Racing League boss Tony George might possibly make a bid for the bankrupt CART's assets would make no difference in the driver's preparation for a new season.

"There are too many contracts in place with both race promoters, drivers and series employees to suddenly stop the series from having a 2004 season," Tagliani said from Las Vegas.

The Montreal native said that even if George was successful at getting CART, he would have to honor all the deals made for 2004.

"Nobody is going to be stupid enough to invest into the series, kill it, then have to spend hundreds of millions in possible penalties for cancelling races," Tagliani said.

Toronto Molson Indy general manger Bob Singleton said yesterday that if George does buy CART's assets, it would make little difference to the annual racing bash along the Lake Shore.

"One scenario is that we have Gentilozzi's group here, the other scenario is we have the IRL here," Singleton said. "Either way we have a Toronto Molson Indy."

Bobby Rahal, who has teams in both CART and the IRL, said yesterday it was time for the two series to come together.

"I definitely think there needs to be one series with all marketing efforts, all organizational effort dedicated to that one program," Rahal said in a teleconference call. "We're all in this together.

"And I think if we want open-wheel racing to be what it once was or at least get on the path to what it once was, then we've got to all work together."

Rahal, who won the first Molson Indy in 1986, said if George ends up buying CART, a race in Toronto would have to be part of it.

"You know, I certainly think that there are great road racing events that would be nothing but a credit to (the IRL)," he said. "Long Beach, Toronto, Elkhart Lake, these are great, great circuits and have big crowds."


Bridgestone/Firestone signs deal with Milwaukee Mile    Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT), and The Milwaukee Mile announced today that they have entered into an official partnership for the first time in the long motorsports history of both companies.

Bridgestone/Firestone has signed a multi-year agreement for its Bridgestone and Firestone brands to serve as the “Official Tires” of The Milwaukee Mile. As part of the agreement, both the Bridgestone and Firestone brands will have a prominent presence at “America’s Legendary Oval” throughout the racing season, highlighting the ‘Mile’s unique status as the only venue currently scheduled to host both the Indy Racing League and the Champ Car World Series in the 2004 season.

“We’re thrilled to announce this new partnership,” said Al Speyer, executive director of motorsports, BFNT. “The Milwaukee Mile is one of the world’s legendary racing venues and has a history in motorsports as long as our own company’s. It’s such a unique opportunity for us to be able to showcase both our brands at one venue, and there is certainly no more appropriate place for us to do that than at the ‘Mile.’ ”

In 2003, the Bridgestone brand became the presenting sponsor of what is now known as Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. The Bridgestone brand also appears worldwide in all types of motorsports, including motorcycle and kart racing as well as the FIA Formula One World Series, where Bridgestone-equipped drivers have won six consecutive drivers’ championships.

The Firestone name is synonymous with American open-wheel racing, having first appeared on the motorsports scene at the 1909 Indianapolis 300. Today, Firestone is the official tire of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, where last May Gil de Ferran became the 54th driver to win the Indianapolis 500 driving on Firestone tires.

Every car in every Champ Car event in the 2004 season will be outfitted with Bridgestone Potenzas, including the event currently scheduled for June 3-5 at The Milwaukee Mile. Firestone

Firehawks will appear on every IndyCar Series and Menards Infiniti Pro Series car this season – both of those series will be in action at Milwaukee on July 23-25.

“We are excited and believe our proactive, promotional partnership with Bridgestone/Firestone will be a great benefit to The Milwaukee Mile and its loyal race fans,” said Mark Perrone, vice president and general manager, The Milwaukee Mile. “We are formulating plans for in-store promotions with area Bridgestone and Firestone retail locations, which we know will generate great interest and bring new race fans to see world-class racing on one of our four race weekends at The Milwaukee Mile.”

Last season, Bridgestone served as the official tire for several Champ Car venues, including St. Petersburg, Miami, Cleveland, Denver, Laguna Seca and Long Beach. Firestone has agreements in place to serve as the official tire of the Nashville Superspeedway and Nazareth Speedway for the 2004 season.

The Milwaukee Mile is the longest running, continuously operated motorsports facility in the world – the 2003 season marked the track’s 100th anniversary. For details regarding specific events and ticket/hospitality availability, visit


TNT marries basketball and NASCAR    Roush Racing announced today that Turner Network Television (TNT) will bring the NBA to NASCAR when they sponsor the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford and driver Jeff Burton for the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 15, and for the Twin 125s on Thursday, February 12. TNT will place the NBA All Star Game on the hood of the No. 99 Ford and on a specially designed fire suit for Burton for this one race deal.

"Although our entire season of sponsorship is not totally lined up," said Burton, "The No. 99 team will begin the season with the most exciting sponsor in the garage that's for sure. Being selected by TNT and the NBA All-Star Game is an honor and a testament to what this program has to offer a potential sponsor.

"While we have a lot of things working, we are still seeking sponsorship for the remainder of the year for the No. 99 team but having TNT on the car for the 500 is certainly a great start." Burton continued, "This is such a great platform to show potential sponsors what a great program we have and what an excellent opportunity it would be to sponsor a championship contending team."

David Levy, president of Turner Sports echoed Burton's excitement.

“We are thrilled to be able to marry two of the biggest sporting events of the year, the NBA All-Star Game and the Daytona 500, and would not have been able to accomplish that without the help of our NASCAR television partner, NBC, and the services of one of the top drivers and teams in the sport in Jeff Burton and the No. 99 Roush team,” said Levy. “I believe that for the first time in television history a network will be able to cross-promote these two great events to millions of sports fans, reaching one of the largest male audiences of the year.”

TNT will televise the Twin 125s on Thurs., Feb. 12, at 1 p.m. ET and will air the 2004 NBA All-Star Game on Sun., Feb. 15, at 8 p.m. ET. NBC will broadcast the Daytona 500 on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. preceding TNT’s NBA All-Star coverage. NBC and TNT are partners in broadcasting Speedweeks in Daytona as well as the second half of the NASCAR season beginning in July. This is the 19th year Turner Sports has featured NBA All-Star coverage, and the second consecutive year the NBA All-Star Game will be televised in prime time on TNT.

Burton concluded, "Through this sponsorship we are hoping to introduce some NBA fans to NASCAR and some NASCAR fans to the NBA. I'm an avid basketball fan as well as a NASCAR driver and I'm really excited to carry the NBA All Star Game on the No. 99 Ford at the Daytona 500. It's a great way to kick off the 2004 season and begin our quest towards being the first NASCAR Nextel Cup champion.

"February 15 will be a great day to have a Coke, eat a hot dog and be a sports fan."


Plans for Long Beach going forward as usual    This LA Times article says, As one racing organization after another circles the carcass of bankrupt CART, once America's premier open-wheel motor racing sanctioning body, plans for the 30th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach — a CART race — are moving ahead as usual, Jim Michaelian, president and chief executive officer of the event, said Tuesday.

"On April 16, racing sounds will fill the streets of Long Beach, just as they have for the past 29 years," Michaelian said. "The city wants what it has always had, open-wheel, open-cockpit racing with cars that look sleek and sound fast. And so do our sponsors and our fans."

"We continue to have complete confidence in our work and vision for the Champ Car World Series," Gentilozzi said. "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.

"We're resolute in our intent to return the series to its rightful place in the international motorsports arena."


Rand Racing to contest full ALMS season  Rand Racing, SRPII winners at the 2002 Rolex 24 at Daytona, will return to competition by entering a pair of AER Nissan-powered Lola B2K/40s in the LMP2 class of the 2004 American Le Mans Series. The team will begin the season at the Mar. 17-20 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, aiming for an invitation to the 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"We've been successful in endurance racing," said team owner Bill Rand, "and our Daytona win made us think about Le Mans. That's the most important race in the world, and we want to be there. The ALMS recently stated that 'the Road to Le Mans Passes Through Sebring,' so that's where we're going to start. We've combined the key elements of our old team with some outstanding drivers, and we're anxious to get back on the track."


Johnson fastest Tuesday at Daytona    Jimmie Johnson set the fastest time in pre-season NASCAR testing at Daytona yesterday (Tuesday), as the second set of drivers and teams took to the track. The Hendrick Motorsports driver lapped the imposing 2.5mile speedway at an average speed of 187.535mph to claim the day's fastest time. By comparison, Michael Waltrip set the fastest time in last week's test session, lapping at an average of 187.731mph.
Pos Driver Car Time
1 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 47.941s
2 John Andretti Chevrolet 47.998s
3 Bill Elliott Dodge 48.048s
4 Ricky Rudd Ford 48.059s
5 Ken Schrader Dodge 48.185s
6 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 48.187s
7 Ryan Newman Dodge 48.205s
8 Sterling Marlin Dodge 48.211s
9 Brian Vickers Chevrolet 48.254s
10 Rusty Wallace Dodge 48.267s


Renault fires 2004 engine   Renault Formula One officials say they test fired the new 2004 engine on Monday, some 16 days before the official launch of the new car. "The 'birth' went very smoothly," said technical director Bob Bell as the R24 chassis was also assembled for the first time. "No problems were reported, and we are very pleased with the results." The RS24 V10 is a completely redesigned engine after Renault's decision to abandon its radical-V configuration in favor of a more traditional build.


India race decision due tomorrow   A draft proposal has been submitted and if all requirements have been met when India officials meet with Bernie Ecclestone Thursday, we would expect an announcement tomorrow that India has landed an F1 race starting in 2007.  With more and more non-European events being added to the F1 calendar, it does not bode well for European races, especially the second races in Italy and Germany.


Brack says he will return   “I don't know when I'll be back. A May return could be a realistic goal, or maybe not. If I had been in this position before, maybe I could give you a hint!   But I haven't," stated Brack to Autosport.   "I don't think I have doubts in my mind I can do it again. It's something that I've always done. I've always lived with racing. I love the sport. It's my life, basically.”


OWRS ready to fight IRL for control of CART    This Indy Star article says, Paul Gentilozzi said Tuesday that he and Open Wheel Racing Series partners Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven emerged from two days of meetings prepared to do and spend whatever is necessary to get their offer accepted by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis.

"We're here for the duration. We're not at all intimidated," Gentilozzi said. "We have put thousands of hours into this transaction. We're not going to pack our bags just because some guy is looking to buy a few computers and trailers."

Gentilozzi said he and his partners learned last week that IRL president Tony George had dispatched league officials to inspect the racing assets of CART. George visited CART's local headquarters Monday night.

News of the IRL's interest became public late Monday.

"Obviously, it caught me by surprise since Tony told me months ago he didn't plan to get involved," Gentilozzi said. "He obviously has one thing in mind: to close it down and get rid of the competition. This 11th-hour involvement doesn't seem very honorable to me." [Editor's Note: Mr. Gentilozzi gets it]

The IRL has until Jan. 23 to submit an offer to the court. Judge Frank Otte has scheduled a sales hearing for Jan. 28 to consider all bids and resolve any outstanding issues concerning the sale.

At the most recent hearing Dec. 29, an attorney for California Speedway -- which faces dueling lawsuits with CART over cancellation of the 2003 season-ending race -- told the court he also represented another potential buyer which he later identified as 88 Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of International Speedway Corp.

But Tuesday, ISC spokesman David Talley said "ISC has no present interest in acquiring the assets of CART."

The OWRS offer is for $1.6 million. It also has agreed to assume certain liabilities, primarily prize money owed to teams, that would push the total to around $3 million.

The judge is not obligated to accept the highest bid and is driven by what is best for the company. Since the OWRS group intends to keep the series going, that could work to its advantage with the court.

But the IRL can argue that no reincarnation of a bankrupt series is likely to succeed, and in the long run open-wheel racing and those who make a living from it will benefit from having it exist as one series. The sport has seen a steady decline in popularity since it split into two factions in 1996.

Gentilozzi vehemently rejects that notion. "This isn't about unification," he said. "Tony doesn't want to create one series. He wants to kill one series." [Editor's Note: Mr. Gentilozzi definitely gets it]

But IRL vice president Fred Nation said the IRL can't kill something that technically is already dead. [Editor's Note: The IRL has made a major strategic blunder, which we will reveal after the January 28th hearing.]


Row over launch control policing looms  McLaren technical director Adrian Newey told AUTOSPORT that "while the regulations were clear about what defined launch control, there remained an issue about policing the possible illegal use of traction control. The rules themselves are reasonably clear in terms of what is launch control and what is traction control, so I don't think there is too much of an issue there," said Newey. The Autosport article goes on to say - It is understood that FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting wrote to the teams earlier this week to outline the latest developments in the situation, having previously laid down guidelines to the teams to ensure that traction control was not used at the start of races in 2004.   To ensure compliance with this rule, the FIA will monitor the cars via dedicated data loggers. These will be analyzed at the end of each race. When asked whether or not he believed the matter could go as far as protests during the season, Newey said: "there is always the possibility of protests, it would not be F1 if there wasn't."


Barrichello re-signs with Ferrari  Ferrari announced today that it has extended its agreement with the driver Rubens Barrichello to cover the 2005 and 2006 racing seasons. The extension brings his contract in line with other key Ferrari personnel, including six-time world champion Michael Schumacher, who all agreed to deals until the end of 2006 last June.


Gordon belittles NASCAR point system change    NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon had this to say about NASCAR's new point system: "It's not a driver-based point system. It's an entertainment-based point system."


Latest F1 News in Brief  

Sauber Doubts Future Of French GP
First Renault Chassis Is Ready
Big Test Comes To Close At Jerez
BAR Test Halted By Detonating Hondas
Verstappen, Heidfeld, Eye Last F1 Seats
Sons Of Champs To Test F1 Cars Again
New Williams Is 'Lot Of Fun': Ralf
Minardi Dismiss Baumgartner Glitch
Jordan 'Flattered' By Sell-Out Claims
Massa Lauds Schumacher
Gene Amazed At F1's Rate Of Progress  

Long-Life Engine Will Weigh Less: Sauber
Peter Points Finger At Ron, Frank
Now Ferrari Might Grow Tusks
Schu Is Not Rookie's 'Cup Of Tea'
Dropping Dollar Attacks F1 Grid


CART and IRL make front page headlines    The image to the right is the front page of today's Indianapolis Star.  Clearly the IRL is getting some mileage out of their statements about possibly buying some of CART's assets.  However, as spelled out on our rumors page, they don't fully understand the terms of the deal, or they are simply using this as an opportunity to peer into all of CART's contracts and/or cast doubts about CART's future.  To underscore what we stated in the past, the "CART" name has gotten so much mileage from all the bad press the past two years, everyone in the racing industry, fans included, know what "CART" is.  It's all been free press too, CART didn't have to pay for a single newspaper ad.  In some respects, now that the name is so widely recognized, tarnished perhaps, it's questionable whether it should be tossed aside as planned.  Perhaps OWRS has a better name...such as Champ Car Grand Prix Series, which  remains our #1 choice.


Ecclestone Urges Volkswagen Into F1   Bernie Ecclestone is urging German car manufacturer Volkswagen into F1.  The sport's impresario told this publication that the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix, to be held in Shanghai in 2004, is the perfect catalyst for an VW foray.

Volkswagen Group is the market leader in China, said the 73-year-old.

He added, 'The growing popularity of Formula One in China shouldn't be an argument for Volkswagen not to get involved.'

Of the world's nine major carmakers, only Volkswagen and General Motors are currently not involved in some capacity at the pinnacle of motorsport.

Fiat, BMW, Daimler-Chrysler, Renault, Ford, Honda and Toyota are all in F1.

But Peter Sauber, owner of an independently-run team, said with today's economic climate it 'makes no sense' for either GM or VW to contest grands prix.  Andrew Maitland


Pathtrace Announces Partnership with Honda Racing   Pathtrace Engineering Systems today announced a partnership with Honda Racing.

Honda Racing has recently installed Pathtrace’s EdgeCAM computer aided manufacturing software at its facility in Louth, Lincolnshire. EdgeCAM will be used in support of the company’s race teams as well as to manufacture commercially available components.

The installation of EdgeCAM at Honda Racing includes EdgeCAM Solid Machinist, the leading CAM system for solids based machining and EdgeCAM Part Modeler, a modeling tool specifically for simple part construction, manufacturing modifications and fixture building.

EdgeCAM is used extensively throughout the motorsport industry where the pressure is intense in the run up to, and during the racing season, often requiring 24 hour turn around in order to meet demand.

“EdgeCAM is a key part of our manufacturing plans,” said Neil Tuxworth, Honda Racing Race Team Manager. “EdgeCAM Solid Machinist’s associatively to the CAD model means any design changes are immediately recognized and can be incorporated without having to start over. This is important in an industry where delivering quality products in a very short timescale is critical. We are confident that EdgeCAM is the right system for us.”

“EdgeCAM software has a proven track record within the motorsport manufacturing industry and we are delighted that Honda Racing has endorsed EdgeCAM as the perfect solution for their highly competitive operation,” said Walter Wade, Pathtrace UK Sales Manager.

About Pathtrace
Pathtrace Engineering Systems is a division of Pathtrace plc. Pathtrace has offices in the UK, USA, China and Japan, complementing a worldwide network of resellers.

Pathtrace Engineering Systems is the developer of EdgeCAM an extremely powerful, but easy to use software solution devoted to automating the process of NC programming for metal cutting machine tools. For information about Pathtrace and EdgeCAM visit our website EdgeCAM is Windows 2000 Professional and XP compliant and has over 28,000 users worldwide.


Ricky Rudd and Greg Biffle Q&A    Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus, and Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus, held brief Q&A sessions during the lunch break of Tuesday's preseason testing at Daytona International Speedway.  More....


Williams FW26 test summary   Following the launch of the FW26 last week, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team have spent the past seven days testing the new car at Jerez, with drivers Juan Pablo Montoya, Ralf Schumacher and Marc Gené all undertaking testing duties.  Piloting the FW26 for the first three days of the test, Montoya concentrated on mechanical and aero set up work. Despite some initial teething problems, the new car completed 193 laps over this period, with Montoya securing the best time in two of the sessions.  More......


Barber Dodge Pro hires ex-Yates man   The Barber Dodge Pro Series has contracted former Robert Yates Racing race engineer and test team manager for the number 88 Ford Taurus, Scot Elkins, to be its race engineer. During the 2004 Champ Car Barber Dodge season, Elkins will oversee data acquisition on the fleet of Reynard-Dodges and will provide data analysis for all series drivers and driver coaches. He's also engineering the remaining BDPS winter test days at Sebring International Raceway in January, February and early March. Prior to his three-year stint at Yates, from 1996 to 2000 Elkins was the NASCAR business unit manager for Pi Research, the UK-based designer and manufacturer of motorsport electronics and software. At one point during that tenure, he doubled Pi's sales in the Winston Cup and Busch arenas. Elkins recently returned to that position with Pi Research (with the additional responsibility of sports car and road racing); he'll be conducting his Barber Dodge duties under the auspices of his own firm, The Elkins Group. Elkins, 33, has a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering technology from Indiana State University. In addition to a background of race engineering for IRL and Toyota Atlantic teams, Elkins was the Pi Research data acquisition engineer assigned to Barber Dodge between 1997 and 2000. "A big part of what drew me to Barber Dodge and the Reynard is the challenge of engineering a single make, where there is a wide range of drivers with varying levels of experience," Elkins said from his office in Huntersville. It's a wholly different -- and exciting -- opportunity for me. In Cup racing, the challenge is to be as clever as possible within the framework of the rules. Here, much of what I need to do is help make each driver as fast as he or she is capable of. That's not only fun, it's very rewarding, in a different way."


Rosberg Jr. and Piquet Jr. to test again   Following their initial test in December last year, Nelson Piquet (BR) and Nico Rosberg (GER) are set to return to the track to assist with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team's intensive pre-season testing schedule. Both tests will take place at Barcelona, with Nico Rosberg undertaking testing duties on 21st and 23rd January, while Nelson Piquet will run on 3rd and 5th February. Both drivers will run the modified FW25A.


New NASCAR Lifestyle Magazine To Debut Feb. 1    American Thunder, a new NASCAR lifestyle magazine backed by an investment of between $5-10M from S.F.-based hedge fund Clarium Capital Management, "hits newsstands Feb. 1 with its debut March issue" featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the cover, according to Jon Fine of AD AGE, who notes Val Landi is publisher and former PayPal VP Aman Verjee is editor-in-chief. An estimated 200,000 copies will be sent to newsstands, "while around 100,000 are expected to be sent to charter subscribers, although the launch rate base is set at 100,000." About half of each issue "will be devoted to NASCAR doings, but the rest will cover heartland-guy topics. The debut issue contains articles on salt-water fishing, deck-building and bomb-defusing." Landi: "There's an opportunity right now to publish a really great, next-generation lifestyle publication focused around one of the largest under-served markets in the country." Fine writes, "There's no equivalent title to American Thunder covering football — or for any other sport short of luxe-life paeans that are found in some golf titles." Advertisers signed on include the U.S. Army and DeWalt. Full-page color ads sell for $10,000  AD AGE, 1/12/04 issue


Rain hits Jaguar R5 debut   On Monday the Jaguar team were busy in Belgium where they put their challenger for the new season, the R5, through its debut paces.

However, a heavy rain pounded the Lommel test track for the majority of the one day session, only allowing the team on track for 30 miles of testing.

"The weather broke," said Nav Sidhu. "It was too wet to even run in a straight line but the running we did do was trouble-free and we ticked all the boxes we planned to. The next run will be on the day of the launch."


Sauber prefers just 17 races   Speaking at the launch of his team’s new car, the C23, which took place at Red Bull's Hangar-7 facilities at Salzburg airport on Monday, Peter Sauber made it clear that he would only agree to there being an 18th race if he was financially compensated.

“I prefer 17 races - 18 races is too much for the teams,” Sauber said. “But if my colleagues, nine of them, prefer an 18th race then we have to go in this direction. And then we take the money, of course.”  This does not bode well for the French GP being reinstated.


Said to drive #01 in Bud Shootout, tests to get ready   Boris Said, who will drive the #01 Chevrolet in the Bud Shootout [February 7], joined Joe Nemechek and the U.S. Army team last week in Thursday's final day of testing at Daytona International Speedway.

"The goal was to get out there to feel the bumps, to feel the air and to just get a good handle of the track," commented Said, who earned a spot in the Bud Shootout by qualifying on the pole when he drove the #01 Army Car in last year's road race in California.

"This [superspeedway racing] is all new to me. The seat time I got today was valuable. Now I get to go home and think about it for a few weeks. I can't wait to come back here and jump in the U.S. Army car for the Bud Shootout. That will be a dream come true."

Nemechek and the Army team maintained its consistency Thursday with another strong performance on the historic 2.5-mile tri-oval.

"It's been a great three days," said Nemechek. "We have a fast car, learned a lot and accomplished our mission. As far as qualifying is concerned for the Daytona 500 the work is done at the shop. The guys at the shop determine how fast this car will go and they are doing a good job. Though we've established a good baseline, we still could use a little more speed. I guess every team feels the same way."

The next test session for the U.S. Army car will be for downforce cars at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, January 26-29.


Wheldon aims for IRL crown    English IRL IndyCar Series star Dan Wheldon believes he can win the championship this year because engine supplier Honda will make a massive push in a bid to grasp the title from bitter rival Toyota.

The Andretti Green Racing driver is set to follow the lead of team-mate Tony Kanaan and adopt a consistent approach this season in his efforts to claim the crown.

'Honda are certainly going to be pushing really hard to turn over Toyota's championship win,' said Wheldon on stage at the AUTOSPORT International show at the NEC, Birmingham in England last weekend. 'There's a huge rivalry between Honda and Toyota. To be honest, I didn't really understand how big it was until I raced in Motegi in Japan. We certainly feel that Honda can fight back, and we have no doubt they'll be very strong this year, as will the team.'

Asked if he could challenge for the title this season, Wheldon said: 'Yeah, I think so. The main thing with the IRL is that the way the points system works you can't afford to not finish. I've got to make sure that when I don't have the car to win, that I keep racking up those top five finishes and then win when I possibly can.

'Tony Kanaan was a good example. He only won one race but he was in the championship hunt - and leading the championship - right up until the last minute. But, remember, that last year was only the team's first season in the IRL, and that this year is going to my first full season as well. I think everything's in place to go well. We've looked really strong in testing and I'm looking forward to it.'

Last year, Dan Wheldon - from Emberton in Buckinghamshire - won the IRL's Bombardier Rookie of the Year title. It was Wheldon's fourth Rookie of the Year title since moving to the USA in 1999.

In December, the 25-year old Englishman was voted 2003 Rookie of the Year in an online poll and received his award in London from the 2002 award holder, Jaguar Grand Prix driver Mark Webber.


Fellows honored  American Le Mans Series GTS champion Ron Fellows was honored as a First Team member of the 2004 Auto Racing All-America Team at an awards banquet Saturday night in Pomona, Calif. Fellows attended the banquet with his wife, Lynda.

The popular Canadian racer was selected to the team for the second year in a row by members of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA).

Frank Biela and Marco Werner, co-champions of the LMP 900 class in the ALMS, were also recognized by the membership of AARWBA, though neither was able to attend the banquet. Biela was named to the Second Team and Werner earned Honorable Mention. The three drivers were named in the road racing category, one of seven categories for the All-America Team. Joining Fellows on the First Team was Scott Pruett, the 2003 champion of the MotorRock Trans-Am Tour.

Other members of the First Team included Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth, Stock Car category; Gil de Ferran, Scott Dixon and Paul Tracy, Open Wheel; Larry Dixon and Tony Pedregon, Drag Racing; J.J. Yeley and Steve Kinser, Short Track; Brian Vickers and Frank Kimmel, Touring Series; and A.J. Allmendinger and Mark Taylor, At Large.


$1 Million Dollar Prize Fund for 2004 Days of Thunder Championship  Following on from the success of the 2003 season, the Days of Thunder Championship will once again boast the biggest prize fund in British motorsport. Last year's million-dollar prize fund proved to be successful in attracting teams and drivers, with 28 drivers competing throughout the season. The combination of start money, finishers' payments down to 14th place, controlled costs and low levels of car value depreciation, mean that Days of Thunder racing offers teams the most cost-effective budget of any major series and attracted major sponsors such as LEGO, McDonalds, Texaco, Reebok and the Territorial Army. "The million-dollar prize fund for the teams and drivers has been a great success in ensuring spectacular, but cost-effective racing," said Rockingham CEO Ashley Pover. "By focusing our attention on racing exclusively at Rockingham in 2004 means that competing in the series will be even more cost-effective for those involved." In 2003 over 150,000 people traveled to the Northamptonshire facility to see the combination of fast, action packed racing and live music by some of the UK's top music talent. "We have a first-class facility here at Rockingham - every one can sit in comfort and watch these spectacular Days of Thunder muscle cars compete wheel-to-wheel on the oval at average lap speeds of over 150mph," says Pover. "Our customers can then wander to the stage behind the Rockingham building and watch a top-of-the-bill music event before they make their journey home. People want a thoroughly memorable day out and we deliver it."


Latest F1 News in Brief   

Sauber Unwrap 'Pragmatic' New F1 Racer
Brand-New Jaguar Runs For First Time
Verstappen Visits Jordan Factory
McNish Pleads For Formula One Drive
Jordan Left 'Breathless' By Bahrain
Why Williams Opted For Revolution
New Williams Finishes First Grand Prix
Sauber Announce Two New F1 Sponsors
Sauber Slams 'Third Car' Driver Ruling
New Sauber Fails FIA Crash-Tests
Fisichella Wants To Beat Old Team In '04
Fisi Pleased With Ferrari Look-Alike
Sauber Was Right To Dump Me: Felipe Massa
Sauber Praise For New F1 Line-Up
Fisichella To Step Up Grid With Sauber
Bahrain F1 Track Nears Completion
Klien Sponsorship Overstated: Red Bull
'Ferrari' Is Most Common Word On 'Net
Brand Races To Help F1 Kick Smoking Habit
Wilson May Re-Charge Career In America
FIA Won't Save F1 From Folly: President
New Jaguar Is Evolution
Jordan Admit Verstappen Visit 

Industry News

Clapton is a racer at heart  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear, As well as being a huge race fan, I'm also a devoted Eric Clapton fan, and I saw your story about him getting busted for speeding. Clapton loves racing cars, and supposedly he's a regular at F-1 races (although he goes incognito). He was also at Silverstone a couple of years ago for a huge concert celebrating Ferrari's championship winning season where he was the main act. A few years ago, there was a biography on him on television, and it showed him driving on England's country roads in a 1960 Ferrari GT SWB, and it showcased his collection of model cars he's built. His love of speed has almost gotten him killed when in 1976 he was in a high speed accident in a Ferrari that destroyed the car. Another huge racing fanatic is Nick Mason, drummer for Pink Floyd, whose collection includes a 1970 5.0 liter Ferrari 512S V-12 he drives at vintage events regularly. Mark Knopfler also loves speed, being a huge fan of motorcycle racing (he even had Honda build him a custom CBR fashioned after the Isle of Man TT bikes). It seems like rock and roll and speed go together perfectly. Regards, Joe Angers, Boston, MA   1/12/04 - Rock legend Eric Clapton risks another driving ban after he was caught speeding at over 100mph, The People reports. The guitarist, nicknamed Slowhand, was clocked doing 110mph in a 50mph zone. Clapton, 58, told police he was rushing to buy a present for his two-year-old daughter Julie Rose. The star, who owns a collection of supercars including a 220mph Ferrari Enzo worth £400,000, was nabbed on the A3 at Tolworth, Surrey, England. He was given a ticket by police after the incident on Christmas Eve. He faces being banned by a court if police decide to prosecute. A police source said: "The officer suspected he was doing about 110 mph. "He said he was off to buy Christmas presents for his daughter." Clapton, who lives with American wife Melia McEnery, 27, and their two daughters, has had three previous bans for speeding.


Brian Ma signs on as Engineer for Rocketsports  Rocketsports Racing recently appointed Brian Ma as engineer of the No. 33 Johnson Controls Lola, driven by Alex Tagliani.

Ma is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida and brings a variety of race-engineering experiences to the second year team. Most recently with Herdez Competition, Ma configured the No. 55 car, which broke team records in 2003. At age 25, Ma was the youngest engineer to take the lead on a Champ Car when he worked with Memo Gidley at Della Penna Motorsports. Ma’s open-wheel race experience also includes stints with Dan Gurney All American Racers, Arciero Blair Racing and Bradley Motorsports.

“Rocketsports Racing made a strong impression in the Champ Car World Series last season and Tagliani is an intense and talented driver,” said Ma, who has already set to work with Tagliani and crew. “We’ve had a good start to our 2004 preparations and we’re confident that we can take Rocketsports to another level this season.”

“This is a great opportunity to grow and develop with a different team. I hope to play a part in getting that first win for the Rocketsports’ Champ Car team and Tagliani,” added Ma, who has contributed to the career-best years of the last three drivers he has worked with in open-wheel racing.

Industry News

End of road for MG Rover?  According to this article, British Car maker MG Rover is on the skids and may not be in business much longer.  And to think Chris Pook almost brought them on as an engine supplier for CART, badging John Judd engines.  That would have been yet another black eye for CART when they folded.


All hotels booked in Bahrain   Having been booked to capacity, all 90 hotels in the Kingdom have begun the countdown, waiting with bated breath for the Formula One Grand Prix which is a little more than two months away. The travel and tourism sector is agog to host thousands of visitors and are making all arrangements to ensure their comfort at reasonable rates. And if the rush of visitors, participants and spectators exceeds the estimates of the Government and the industry, four new hotels , facilities in neighboring countries as well as Government accommodations will do their bit to cope with the rush. "We have confirmed with all 90 hotels, including one five-star one, and they are fully booked for mid-March to April," the Assistant Undersecretary of Tourism Affairs, Mubarak Saad Al Atwi, told the Tribune yesterday. The Grand Prix is scheduled for April 4-6. "The Kingdom is ready to accommodate nearly 20,000 visitors, at all tourism facilities under the Tourism Affairs of the Ministry of Information and other apartments under the Ministry of Municipalities and Agricultural Affairs," Al Atwi said. "Each of the 90 hotels is accommodating visitors who will attend the Formula One activities. The Formula One management has been coordinating with Tourism Affairs to accommodate their nearly 3,500-member technical and support team," Al Atwi said. He said that facilities under Tourism Affairs alone could accommodate about 13,000 people, while another 5,000 to 6,000 people can be put up at facilities under the municipalities. "If the rush exceeds our expectations, then we will take help from neighboring countries. We have cooperation agreements with neighbors on accommodating some visitors. We have also directed the travel agencies and tourism operators to take all steps to bring these visitors for the Formula One races," he said. "Two new four-star hotels - Novotel Al Dana Resort and Moven Pick - are ready for opening and can take in some of the visitors. Another two four-star hotels - Majaaz Hotel in the Seef district and one near Al Hadi Centre - are under construction and expected to be ready in two to three months," he said. "We have held meetings with general managers of various hotels in order to ensure the best facilities and arrangements for the visitors and Formula One teams. All one- to five-star hotels have fixed reasonable rates in order to attract tourists and Formula One spectators from across the world. Al Atwi said that Gulf Air would start frequent flights during this time. "The Tourism Affairs is ready to host the global sports event - the first time in the region - and the Kingdom is ready to utilise all its resources to make the event a great success," Al Atwi said. "We are also ready to co-operate with various sectors and Government organizations to provide required arrangements to help attract the Formula One management team to organize future events here which in turn will contribute to the healthy growth of the tourism industry of the Kingdom," Al Atwi said.  Bahrain Tribune


No friendly skies for airborne IRL drivers    This National Post article says, Sadly, more serious issues than those regarding the ownership of CART -- whose assets are surely to end up in the hands of the Open Wheel Racing Group of team owners Paul Gentilozzi, Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe -- have punctuated the off-season. None has been as serious or as sad as the investigation into the death of Tony Renna.

Renna was a rising star taking his first turn at the wheel as a full-time Indy Racing League driver after signing with Chip Ganassi when he was killed Oct. 22 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Speculation abounded for some time that a mechanical failure or even a design flaw in the IRL chassis might have caused the accident, which occurred during a private test session. Naturally, speculators also wondered aloud if it could have been driver error.

When Renna's car jumped sideways in Turn 3 at 360 kilometers an hour -- slightly less than normal IRL racing speeds -- and skittered across the infield before careening, airborne, into the catch fencing, nobody saw it happen. What can be concluded, though, is that what killed Renna was not the speed he was traveling -- others have crashed at the track at higher speeds -- it was the fact that he was in the air at an odd angle when the impact occurred.

It was not the first instance of an IRL driver finding himself launched skyward. Mario Andretti was trying to do the old-guy comeback at a practice session leading up to last year's Indy 500 when his car ran over some debris left by Kenny Brack's car and shot 40 feet into the air, only to land, mercifully, back on its wheels. And, only a few days before Renna's accident, Brack himself was seriously injured when he tangled with another car and he cartwheeled along the Texas Speedway catch fence.

There was a time, not all that long ago, that fire was the dreaded outcome in any accident, but modern fuel cell technology has virtually extinguished that fear.

Today, few things cause a driver more concern than the prospect of becoming airborne. It represents the ultimate loss of control. In the old days, when cockpits were more open, spectators told stories of drivers, hands firmly gripping the wheel, seemingly struggling for control as their inverted cars passed overhead. Truth be told, most of the time they were just hanging on.

Mosport, for the unacquainted, is generally regarded as one of the most challenging circuits in the world and, until recent changes to the track, also saw a few cars leave the tarmac as they neared the end of the rising Mario Andretti Straightaway, where the track flattened for Corner 8. Ludwig Heimrath was one of those unlucky drivers, but he was sanguine about the whole incident, which could very well have proven fatal. He didn't blame the track; he simply said that you just have to set a car up so that it doesn't fly into the air. Sound advice.


Ralf runs impressive race pace at Jerez   Ralf Schumacher ran 90 laps at Jerez today as Williams conducted a full race simulation.  His fastest time of 1m17.875s was also quick enough to eclipse Toyota's Ryan Briscoe, who reportedly set his time on low fuel and new tires.

Schumacher was delighted with the result, and told "We did a full race distance and it was very good. On heavy fuel, we had no problems at all. It's an easy and nice car to drive. Like I said yesterday, we have a few things to do back at the factory. I'm quite happy, it was a good test and we've completely finished our program."

Williams chief operations engineer Sam Michael was equally upbeat. He told "I was pleasantly surprised with today's test. We had some small problems, with a faulty sensor and a technical problem at the end, but it's the first test we've managed a proper race simulation.

"The baseline of this car is very good. There are things to do, but I'm very happy to complete our program here. It's a big compliment to the team both here and back at the factory. Compared to this time last year, we are almost three months ahead of where we were. It's unbelievable."
Formula 1 test Jerez Day 6 times (unofficial)
Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tyres Time Laps
1 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m17.875s 90*
2 Ryan Briscoe Toyota M 1m17.959s 107


Stewart team hires ex-convict    Tony Stewart has made several changes in his motorsports empire for 2004.  While the 2002 stock-car champion continues to race in NASCAR, the open-wheel programs he owns have been overhauled.  Directing the two-car sprint-car program will be Larry Curry, the former Indy Racing League team manager who recently got out of prison for defrauding his employer, John Menard. Curry was Stewart's closest friend at Team Menard from 1996-98, and they briefly owned an IRL team together.  Stewart's father, Nelson, directed the first-year sprint car program last season, but Stewart fired him last month for undisclosed reasons.


CART announces resignations  Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (the Company) (OTCBB: CPNT.OB) announced today that James F. Hardymon, James A. Henderson, Rafael A. Sanchez and Frederick T. Tucker resigned as members of the Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. Board of Directors, effective January 9, 2004. Christopher R. Pook is the sole member of the Board of Directors following such resignations.

Christopher R. Pook, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, offered his thanks for the contributions each director has made to the Company. "On behalf of the Company and its Shareholders, I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to Jim Hardymon, Jim Henderson, Ralph Sanchez and Fred Tucker for their guidance and dedication during their tenures as directors. They have committed a substantial amount of time and energy in fulfilling their obligations as directors, and we appreciate the support each has provided to the Company and our sport. The Company will no longer be actively engaged in business operations and intends to wind up its affairs in an expeditious manner.”


Sauber to get latest Ferrari engine in 2004   Sauber will use exactly the same engine as Ferrari in 2004. The Swiss team announced on Monday that Ferrari had agreed to supply them with the very same power units as the Ferrari F2004 will use. The decision is likely to have been forced on Ferrari by this year's change in engine regulations. Now powerplants must last the whole grand prix weekend, with any driver who has to change being dropped 10 places down the grid. The new Sauber, named the C23, is also equipped with Ferrari’s seven-speed gearbox.


New Jaguar passes crash tests   Jaguar Racing's new Formula One car, the R5, has passed the mandatory FIA crash tests and will make its track debut today in Belgium. Jaguar spokesperson Nav Sidhu, told Reuters: "The R5 has passed all crash tests for the season."


NASCAR fans petition against points changes    2084 people, and counting, have signed a petition against initiating the NASCAR “play-off” rule. The petition was written by Karl Thacker at This proposed change would decide the NEXTEL Champion during the last 10 races. Only the drivers in the top ten positions after the first 26 races would be in contention for the Championship title. No matter how many points a driver in 12th gains, he would be in the 11th position at best.


Shanghai racks up double-digit growth again   Shanghai's economy grew 11.8 percent in 2003, its fastest clip since 1998, and could again rack up double-digit expansion in 2004 if it tackles gridlocked traffic and the rising costs of housing and goods, its mayor said on Monday.

Sidestepping SARS and a summer power crunch that crippled businesses, China's financial crown jewel kept intact a 12-year streak of double-digit growth, but now faces the task of staying competitive amid rising costs, mayor Han Zheng said.

The city of 20 million, the population of Australia, was hit with its worst power crunch in years last summer, sparked by a scorching heat wave. Analysts estimated the city used one million kilowatts (kw) more than its grid was designed to handle. Businesses were forced to curtail operations as the city rationed power to more than 1,000 companies.


Bahrain circuit on schedule   Work on the Bahrain International Circuit, venue for the inaugural Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, is ahead of schedule prior to the circuit's FIA inspection date of March 7th. The brand new circuit to the south of capital city Manama is 89% completed according to the construction team's schedule. Work has been in operation around the clock prior to the Grand Prix on April 4th. The state-of-the-art circuit is expected to become the benchmark design for future Formula One tracks. Recent visits by Formula One drivers Jenson Button and Ralf Schumacher have raised the profile of the construction work and the latest to visit the circuit was Irish team owner Eddie Jordan. Jordan's visit to the circuit this week was by invitation of His Highness the Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and came at a critical point in the life of the new track.  I am amazed, breathless actually. The circuit exceeds words, said Jordan before he flew back to London.  I was tremendously impressed with the work that everyone in Bahrain has done in building this magnificent circuit.  The first layer of the 5.410 kilometer (3.362 mile) track has now been laid and engineers are beginning work on the second and third layers. Run-off areas, gravel traps, safety barriers, marshal posts, control facilities and the medical centre are all in the final stages of preparation.  The completed track will be ready for Formula One cars at the end of February, prior to the FIA circuit inspection that takes place in March. 04.04.04 will be a significant date in the history of sporting achievement in the Middle East. The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will be the first round of the FIA Formula One World Championship held in the region. A crowd of 100,000 people is expected over the three-day event.

Industry News

Duane Sweeney needs your prayers  Received this letter from CARA Charities - Wasn't sure if you had heard the latest news about Duane Sweeney. Last time, he ended up in the hospital for close to 2 weeks. He did get home for Christmas and the New Year, but ended up back in a few days later. This time around the news is rather grim--they discovered pancreatic cancer and give him only 3-5 months.

On top of that, one of his daughters was in a car accident the day after he was re-admitted. She was critically injured, and they took her off of life support on Friday. Father Grubba, a family friend, was in town and he went to see Duane; he did give Sweeney last rites and helped the family tell him about Joan (he had been so weak that they couldn't tell him before).

They will be sending Duane home soon. If you, or anyone you know, would like to get in touch his email is and home address is 6170 Racine Place, New Berlin, WI 53151. The daughter's obituary is below.

Feel free to share as little or as much of this information as you are comfortable with. They are being very open about everything. Right now cards, prayers, calls and visits are the best thing for him--and probably sooner rather than later. To be honest, if he can't get back down to Indy I don't know how long he will hold on.

Ramirez, Joan B.
Publication Date: January 11, 2004
(nee Sweeney). Passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving family Fri., Jan 9, 2004, age 51. Cherished wife of Larry Ramirez. Loving mom of Gary (Andrea) Huebner and Jason (Lisa) Huebner. Step-mother of Jesse (Jamie) Ramirez. World's best nana of Joshua, Peyton, Dylan, Kasey, Keegan and Nathaneal. Beloved daugther of Duane and Mary Sweeney. Dear sister of the late Mike Sweeney, Mark (Jayne) Sweeney, Cathy Gudlin and her twin Jean (Tom) Niedercorn. Also loved by other relatives and many dear friends.
Visitation Wed., Jan. 14 at CHURCH AND CHAPEL FUNERAL HOME, 15250 W.
National Ave. from 4-6pm. Funeral Service celebrated 6pm.
Joan was a faithful volunteer for the Wisconsin Paralyzed Veterans of America.


New Sauber launch today, two new sponsors announced   Today, SAUBER PETRONAS are presenting the new C23 racing car and two new sponsors, "Sokhna Port" and "Tai Kang Life", to international media representatives at Red Bull’s Hangar-7, Salzburg Airport. Team Principal Peter Sauber and the two drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella (30) and Felipe Massa (22), are looking towards the upcoming season with confidence. "Our goal for 2004 is to clearly increase our performance. How well we’ll be able to do this primarily depends on how quickly we’ll be able to translate the results of our wind tunnel work to the race track," Peter Sauber said, adding that, "Certainly, the presence of seven automotive manufacturers has made the competition in Formula One fiercer than ever, but we’re ready to accept this challenge."

The reason for the launch of the new SAUBER PETRONAS C23 being staged at Red Bull’s Hangar-7 at Salzburg Airport is a special anniversary: The partnership and friendship between the Austrian energy drink producer, Red Bull, and Sauber is entering its tenth year in the 2004 season.

For the design of the new SAUBER PETRONAS C23 Technical Director Willy Rampf chose a pragmatic approach, developing a car with a good basis as well as plenty of potential for continued development. "Owing to the fact that we will not be able to start working in our new wind tunnel until after the roll-out of the C23, this solution made sense to us more than any other." Thanks to engine supplier PETRONAS Sauber, for the first time, will be receiving the same type of engine as Ferrari. For the first time, as well, the Swiss team will be using Ferrari’s seven-speed gearbox.

Giancarlo Fisichella is looking forward to the roll-out of the C23 with eager anticipation: "Day after tomorrow, on Wednesday, I’ll be able to drive the new car for the first time at Valencia. I take the fact that this date coincides with my 31st birthday as a good omen." Having just returned to Team SAUBER PETRONAS, Felipe Massa is optimistic, as well: "I’ve learnt a lot during my year as a Ferrari test driver and am ready, now, to apply this knowledge to the race track."

On the sponsoring side, Team Principal Peter Sauber was able to announce good news, too, as the team has just gained two new partners: "Sokhna Port" and "Tai Kang Life".

Sokhna Port with its ultra-modern logistics centre is strategically located on the coast of the Red Sea at the Gulf of Suez, 130 km east of Cairo. The port was inaugurated in 2002 and makes use of the latest state-of-the-art IT technologies, ensuring the smooth transit of containerised and bulk cargoes. The project has a long-range focus and is intended to make Sokhna Port an international hub for warehousing and distribution of goods. Sokhna Port’s management plan to use Formula One and SAUBER PETRONAS’ contacts particularly in the B2B area. Sokhna Port’s logo is placed on the front nose of the SAUBER PETRONAS racers.

Tai Kang Life is one of China’s six leading life insurance companies holding a national licence. In June 2003, the company’s total assets amounted to 2.67 billion U.S. dollars, with income from insurance premiums at 2.12 billion. Tai Kang Life has achieved triple digit growth rates in two consecutive years, reflected by a significant increase in market share. Tai Kang Life’s logos are placed on the car’s rear view mirrors.

"I’m delighted that, with Sokhna Port and Tai Kang Life, we’ve been able to gain two new partners. Only thanks to our strong and loyal sponsors are we able to pursue a forward-looking strategy as an independent team," Peter Sauber said, commenting on the new partnerships.

The actual unveiling of the SAUBER PETRONAS C23 will take place tonight, starting at 6.30 p.m. (CET), during a show at Red Bull’s Hangar-7 at Salzburg Airport, featuring a special performance by the "Sugababes" from the UK as a highlight of the evening. Starting at 6.30 p.m., a live broadcast of the show can be watched by visiting either of the following three websites:,,


Verstappen visits Jordan today   Jos Verstappen and his manager Raymond Vermeulen are in England today visiting the Jordan factory at Silverstone, some think to sign a contract. Verstappen was invited by Eddie Jordan to watch the progress of the new EJ14 car but Eddie himself is in Bahrain visiting the new track there. "Don't take this too seriously," Verstappen warned his fans on his official website. "The visit is more friendly rather than anything official. Eddie called me to visit the factory to see the progress of next season's car and of course I accepted."


F1 teams must help themselves   The FIA have tried their hardest to help Formula One teams cut costs, but unfortunately their hands are tied to a vast degree due to the Concorde Agreement.  The problem is that all votes must be unanimous and that is difficult to achieve.  “We can produce ideas and ask people for ideas but the teams themselves have got to recognize that they have allowed the costs to get too high,” FIA President Max Mosley told Autosport. “If there is going to be discipline imposed, it is not going to be the FIA that imposes it, it’s going to be the factories. We can have a bit of a go in rallies but we can't in F1 because of the Concorde Agreement. Even the gentle measures we made last January, the gentle application of existing rules, have produced arbitration. We don’t need it. We have got better things to do than save them from their own folly.”


7-speeds for new Williams - Times through Sunday   According to Autosport, the new BMW Williams FW26 features a seven-speed gearbox instead of the previous six used on last year’s contender, the FW25. The significance of this fact is that it brings the Grove based squad up to par with rivals at Ferrari and McLaren. “It has been important to have seven speeds once more,” Patrick Head told Autosport. “Because of the one engine rule. It will allow some stress to be taken off the engine.”

Formula 3

American Richard Antinucci may stay in F3  UPDATE  American driver Richard Antinucci has revealed that he will join works team TOM's to drive a Toyota-powered car in the 2004 All Japan F3 Championship. “The chance to race an F3 car in Japan is a fantastic opportunity for me," Antinucci admitted, "I am delighted to have been chosen by TOM's to join its team. I thoroughly enjoyed my previous experiences in Japan while racing karts and, after successes in various racing categories in Europe, I am relishing the challenge of racing in F3 with a team of such good pedigree.” The American, who has flown out to Japan to join the team this week, is not the first driver from his extended family to race a Toyota-powered car in the Far East. His uncle, Ross Cheever, drove for Toyota in the Eighties and won the Japanese F3 championship in 1987. “We are delighted to welcome Richard to the Toyota family," team director Juichi Isobe commented, "We have been watching his racing career carefully, and were particularly impressed with his performances in Macau and Korea. Here in Japan, our F3 series is very competitive and we need a driver of the highest possible calibre. We feel we have found this in Richard, and are hopeful that we will have a very productive and successful season with him.”   1/3/04 - 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?]


Raikkonen sets lap record at Jerez - Times through Sunday   
Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m16.074s 87
2 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m16.110s 82
3 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m16.245s 24
4 Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes M 1m17.237s 104
5 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m17.240s 39
6 Ryan Briscoe Toyota M 1m18.422s 103
7 Jenson Button BAR-Honda M 1m18.563s 95
8 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m19.837s 103


Toyota helps to fuel rebirth in US sports sponsorship    Basketball fans arriving at Houston's new Toyota Center to see the Rockets and their All-Star center Yao Ming also get to kick the tires on the latest Tundra pickup trucks, Camry sedans and 4Runner sport-utility vehicles.

A car-and-truck showroom in the arena's concourse is part of Toyota Motor Corp.'s $100 million naming-rights package for the just-opened home of the NBA team. Toyota says it sees the Rockets and the Chinese-born, 7-foot-5- inch Yao as a ticket to more vehicle sales in Asia.

Toyota's July agreement is one example of improving - and more demanding - times for the $213 billion U.S. sports industry. After almost three years of declines in attendance and television ratings, and unsuccessful attempts by media companies to tap broadcast and marketing income by owning teams, sport is coming back into fashion in the U.S. It's reaping more fans, higher television ratings and greater corporate support.

"Companies are more willing to entertain ideas of sponsorship in sports than they have been in recent years," said Jim Andrews, vice president of IEG Sponsorship Report of Chicago, which has tracked corporate marketing for 20 years. "They're also recognizing that sponsorship has to be a long-term proposition, at least three years, more likely four or five."

Bank of America Corp. promised larger purses when it agreed to sponsor the PGA Tour's Colonial golf tournament. Major League Baseball's postseason television audience leapt compared with 2002. Interest in 19-year-old Cleveland Cavaliers rookie LeBron James has helped boost NBA attendance 1.7 percent so far this season after a decline last season. Viacom Inc.'s CBS says 30- second ad rates for football's Super Bowl game are about $300,000 above last year.

The U.S. economic recovery is at the heart of the sports rebound, say analysts such as Steve Rosner of 16W Marketing LLC in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

"Companies with extra dollars are able to market their products in the way they intended, not at 70 percent or so," Rosner said.

Toyota's 20-year agreement with the owners of the Rockets and the arena operator, Clutch City Sports & Entertainment LP, is the first time the world's largest automaker by market value has put its name on an arena.

"Sports has always been the dominant way we can connect with our main target - male customers and potential male customers," said Deborah Wahl Meyer, corporate marketing manager of Toyota Motor Sales USA.  Bloomberg News


Latest F1 News in Brief   

Panis Expects 'Big Step' From New Toyota
New McLaren Outshines New Williams: Jerez
New Renault Racer Gets A Paint-Job
Ferrari Launch New Racer This Month
Skills Plus Cash Equals '04 Jordan Driver
Flying Finn Flies In New McLaren
Kimi And David In Pain After '19' Tests
Verstappen Edges Nearer Jordan Race Deal
Jaguar To Boost Staff, Budget, In 2004
Baumgartner To Lose Minardi Seat?
Alesi, Blundell, Predict Seventh For Schu
Button Targets BAR Race Wins In 2004
Schu Sets Bad Example For Next Generation
Jaguar R5 Gets First Run On Monday
BAR Chief Doubts 'Tusk' Innovation
Fingers Crossed For Bosses Meeting: Wilson 

Willis' New F1 Racer Is 'Sexy Lady'
Schu Will Never Drive A McLaren
'Tusk' Design Is Three Decades Old: Designer
Coulthard Can Win F1 Title: Stewart
Davidson Eyes Biggest F1 Opportunity
Alonso Attracts The Big Bucks
F1 Does Not Come First: Schumacher


Toyotas continue to lag at Daytona    The Toyota trucks are out to lunch so far at Daytona, but we predict they are sandbagging so as not to upset the regulars too early, especially since they are the first non-American brand in NASCAR, at one time a true redneck sport.  Their entry into NASCAR is well orchestrated by NASCAR itself, that you can count on.  They will sandbag until it counts then they will begin to move toward the front.   The cumulative results of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway as of Sunday evening:
1. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Ford, 49.664 seconds, 181.218 mph, 1/10
2. Bobby Hamilton, No. 4 Dodge, 49.786, 180.774, 1/11
3. Phil Bonifeld, No. 25 Chevrolet, 49.846, 180.556, 1/11
4. Chad Chaffin, No. 18 Dodge, 49.903, 180.350, 1/11
5. Jon Wood, No. 50 Ford, 49.919, 180.292, 1/10
6. Steve Grissom, No. 59 Dodge, 49.922, 180.281, 1/11
7. Chase Montgomery, No. 8 Dodge, 49.954, 180.166, 1/10
8. Jack Sprague, No. 16 Chevrolet, 50.101, 179.637, 1/11
9. Steve Park, No. 62 Dodge, 50.233, 179.165, 1/11
10. Steadman Marlin, No. 67b Ford, 50.251, 179.101, 1/11
11. Dennis Setzer, No. 46, Chevrolet, 50.326, 178.834, 1/10
12. Matt Crafton, No. 6 Chevrolet, 50.339, 178.788, 1/11
13. Ted Musgrave, No. 1 Dodge, 50.370, 178.678, 1/11
14. L.W. Miller, No. 28 Chevrolet, 50.416, 178.515, 1/11
15. David Starr, No. 75 Chevrolet, 50.445, 178.412, 1/11
16. Tina Gordon, No. 13 Chevrolet, 50.446, 178.409, 1/11
17. Tracy Hines, No. 88 Chevrolet, 50.504, 178.204, 1/11
18. Kelly Sutton, No. 02 Chevrolet, 50.578, 177.943, 1/11
19. Brandon Whitt, No. 38 Ford, 50.595, 177.883, 1/11
20. Ken Weaver, No. 08 Chevrolet, 50.643, 177.715, 1/11
21. Terry Cook, No. 10 Ford, 50.659, 177.658, 1/11
22. Mike Skinner, No. 42 Toyota, 50.705, 177.497, 1/11
23. Bill Lester, No. 22 Toyota, 50.723, 177.434, 1/11
24. Carl Edwards, No. 29 Ford, 50.857, 176.967, 1/11
25. David Reutimann, No. 17 Toyota, 50.862, 176.949, 1/11
26. Shane Sieg, No. 07 Chevrolet, 50.881, 176.883, 1/11
27. Travis Kvapil, No. 24 Toyota, 50.881, 176.883, 1/11
28. Rick Crawford, No. 14b, Ford, 50.926, 176.692, 1/10
29. Geoff Bodine, No. 03, Chevrolet, 51.104, 176.111, 1/10
30. Wayne Edwards, No. 95 Ford, 51.338, 175.309, 1/11
31. Robert Huffman, No. 12, Toyota, 51.411, 175.060, 1/11
32. Shelby Howard, No. 23, Toyota, 51.434, 175.016, 1/11
33. Hank Parker Jr., No. 21 Toyota, 51.621, 174.348, 1/11
34. Loni Richardson, No. 48 Dodge, 52.274, 172.170, 1/11
35. Loni Richardson, No. 0 Chevrolet, 52.543, 171.288, 1/11


Sullivan team submits first Sebring entry  The new Barron Connor Ferrari racing team, with former Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan as a driver, has submitted the first official entry for the 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

The Barron Connor team, based in The Netherlands, will run a pair of factory-built Ferrari 575 GTC machines that will compete in the GTS class in the Sebring event. Sullivan, from Louisville, Ky., and John Bosch of The Netherlands will be two of the team's drivers, with more to be announced.

"I'm really excited about being back in the saddle again and racing at Sebring," said Sullivan, who won the Indy 500 in 1985 and was CART champion in 1988. "I've raced at Sebring a few times but never had the results I'd have liked. This opportunity has come together for me to go there and have some fun again.

"Sebring is a very special track and has such a great history," he said. "The people who come there are special and it's a great crowd with diehard race fans and a festival atmosphere. It's just a neat place."

"We are nicely on schedule," said Bosch. "We are now finalizing our pre-season testing program, while the second car will be ready in time for Sebring. We are a new team, but I believe we have brought together a lot of expertise and experience. As for drivers, interest is high and we are talking to many people at the moment."

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


Indy releases 2004 schedule    The 2004 event schedule at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will provide fans with three of the most prestigious races in the world between May and August, creating a summer of speed unmatched at any other facility. Drivers from three of the world's top series -- the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, FIA Formula One World Championship and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series -- will compete at the world's most famous racetrack on these race days:
Sunday, May 30: 88th Indianapolis 500
Sunday, June 20: Fifth United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis
Sunday, Aug. 8: 11th Brickyard 400   More.....


Baumgartner may lose some backing    Zsolt Baumgartner's sponsorship may be cut back before he even competes in his first race for Minardi in 2004.  The budget allowed by one of the Hungarian drivers main sponsors, oil company Mol Rt, had agreed to a specific sum of money, 1.5 million, on the plan that he would be signing a deal with Jordan, not Minardi.  "We had signed a memorandum of understanding last year, which has only been valid in specific circumstances,” a spokeswoman for Mol Rt told Hungarian television. “This memorandum was not a binding agreement. Mol Rt. started the negotiations in light of the conditions, which have changed since then."  "I've heard the reports,” Zsolt told MTI. “I hope this is only a misunderstanding and my management will be able to sort it out soon. In any case, I will continue my preparations in the same way as before."

Team USA

Strong Start For Team USA Scholarship Drivers   Joe D’Agostino led the Team USA Scholarship charge in this afternoon’s opening two races of the Talley’s International Formula Ford Series at Levels Raceway. D’Agostino led most of the first race before having to settle for second, and followed up with a sixth-place finish later in the day.  More....


Toyota tests Tundras at Daytona   Four Toyota-powered teams and seven drivers participated in the Tundra's first open test at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the program's debut at the Feb. 13 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season opening race. Toyota's newest addition to its driver line up, Bill Lester of Bill Davis Racing, took to the track in his No. 22 Toyota Tundra to turn the trucks first official timed laps at the historic super speedway. In the first of three days of testing, David Reutimann was the fastest of the seven Toyota pilots in both the morning and afternoon sessions. The Darrell Waltrip Motorsports driver had a top speed of 176.672 mph in the No. 17 Toyota Tundra, good for 13th overall. 1995 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Mike Skinner, driving the No. 42 Toyota Tundra for the new Bang Racing team, was the second quickest Toyota at 176.581 mph. The rest of the Toyota contingent included Lester, defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil of Bang Racing, Robert Huffman and Hank Parker Jr. of Innovative Motorsports, and Shelby Howard of Bill Davis Racing. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series open testing at Daytona resumes on Sunday, Jan. 11, and will run through Monday, Jan. 12.


Ferrari announces launch date for new car   Fourth and final day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro at the Jerez circuit. Once again today, Luca Badoer and Felipe Massa took to the track to conclude the tire and electronics test program initiated on Wednesday. Badoer completed a total of 79 laps, the quickest being a 1’18”807. Massa did 57 laps, setting a best time of 1’18”627. The new Ferrari car, which will compete in the 2004 Formula 1 World Championship, will be launched on 26th January at Maranello.


Schumacher in new Williams fastest on Saturday at Jerez  

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m16.359s 82*
2 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m17.014s 104*
3 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m17.945s 103
4 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m18.054s 87*
5 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m18.175s 3**
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari B 1m18.681s 62
7 Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda M 1m18.830s 95
8 Luca Badoer Ferrari M 1m18.841s 79
9 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m18.864s 90***


Possible problem with new McLaren   McLaren drivers David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen are having trouble fitting comfortably in the team's new MP4-19, sources close to the team have told AUTOSPORT. Raikkonen tested the car for the first time at Jerez yesterday (Friday), but he only completed 32 laps because of hip and rib-cage pain caused by the tight confines of the MP4-19s cockpit. Coulthard has also suffered bruising after testing the car. After testing the machine yesterday, Raikkonen said that "problems with the car" prevented him from doing more running. McLaren is in the process of rebuilding Raikkonen's seat, and are hopeful that this will solve the problem. Alex Wurz, McLaren's designated third driver, was forced to cut short his test programme in the new car because he could not fit in it comfortably.


Woman becomes minority owner in truck team   NASCAR veteran Steve Park has joined Orleans Racing as the full-time driver of the No. 62 Dodge in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, team officials announced Jan. 9.   Park replaces Brendan Gaughan, who will drive full time in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series for Penske-Jasper Racing.

Team founder Gaughan (Brendan's father), who also is the chairman of the board for Coast Resorts in Las Vegas, remains the primary owner of the Las Vegas-based team but has restructured much of the management.

“We also are pleased to announce new additions which will make the team even stronger as they race for the championship,” Gaughan said. “Agnes Ferretti is now the managing general partner for Orleans Racing. She has a great deal of experience and enthusiasm. As I spend more time focusing on Coast Casinos, Agnes will take an active role in running the team. David Pepper is the new team manager. He brings extensive motorsports experience and will manage the day-to-day operations of the team. The only missing component is a crew chief, and we are actively searching for someone who will reach the standard set in the past.”

Born in the Philippines, Ferretti becomes the first minority female owner in NASCAR’s 55-year existence.

“This partnership is a dream come true for me,” Ferretti said. “Orleans Racing is a first-rate organization that is of championship caliber. We have assembled a group of talented and experienced sports professionals, so we will be one of the premier race teams in this sport.”

Ferretti, 36, has 15 years of experience with top level sports and entertainment companies, including deals with the National Football League, Disney, Touchtone Pictures, Baywatch, Cap Cities/ABC, AT&T, Coca-Cola and Toys “R” Us. She lives in Aliso Viejo, Calif., and is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.

Pepper joins Orleans Racing after five years as director of marking for Bobby Hamilton Racing. He also has experience in the NASCAR Busch Series handling public relations for Brewco Motorsports. A native of Owensboro, Ky., Pepper is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and recently relocated to Las Vegas.


Park wants to drive Dodge in shootout   The announcement Friday that Steve Park would wheel Orleans Racing's Dodge in the Craftsman Truck Series narrowed his potential rides in the upcoming Budweiser Shootout. But Park still has hopes of getting a shot into the Budweiser Shootout, set for Feb. 7. "We are pursuing it and we want to make sure we can do it in a Dodge," Park said. "We have the support of Dodge and that means a lot to me.

"We've been talking to numerous teams that might be able to field a car for us. Even though we haven't heard a lot of things, things are not out of the perspective of us getting a chance to race in the Bud Shootout."

"We have been working hard on putting a deal together for that," Park said. "It wouldn't surprise me that myself is in a Dodge for the Budweiser Shootout, and I'm looking forward to that."

"After the last year and a half of dismal displays in the Nextel Cup Series, I'm looking forward to getting with a winning race team, as Brendan Gaughan has displayed this team is, in the past," Park said.

"I'm looking forward to getting back with a team that has a chance to win races and my main goal is to continue the winning tradition the Orleans Racing team has and to compete for the championship."

"It's not like I need to prove something," Park said. "We pretty much had won races from Busch right up to Nextel Cup. I've been racing since I was 10 years old and I have been lucky enough to win just about everywhere.

"I'd rather win races and be in a position to run good and win races than I would be to run good and finish 15th (in Nextel Cup). It's a situation where it's hard to get out of bed Sunday morning when you know that if all the stars line up you're best effort is going to be a 15th place effort.

"I race to win and I'm looking forward to getting back to that."


F1 costs must be cut warns Ford boss   Ford's Group Vice President, Richard Parry-Jones has warned that Formula One must cut costs or risk self-destruction. Speaking at the Autosport International show where Jaguar was launching its SCV8 Supercar, he had this to say: "Most observers of the sport believe the cost escalation cannot be continued," he said. "Formula One is going to have to find way of putting on a spectacle without consuming too much of the customers' money. If we don't, we are heading for a cliff. We are no longer into having an opulent motorhome," said Parry-Jones. "There is no money in the budget for that sort of bullshit. Everything we have we spend on the car. It is not sensible in the long term to try to buy your way to the front of the grid."


Richards took the broom to BAR   'We had to start again,' said BAR boss David Richards, salaried team principal at the Brackley-based operation since late 2001, when founder Craig Pollock was fired.  'We've put in solid foundations and will keep improving from there,' he added.
'It was steady, I would say,' David told Top Gear.  'Issues with tires and reliability need to be addressed, but there's a clear trend of improvement.'

Also CEO of racing arm Prodrive, and chairman of world rallying's commercial rights company ISC, Richards is undoubtedly a busy man in motorsport.  'The reality is that these roles all overlap,' he explained. 'My function is not day-to-day operational stuff; it's about taking the businesses forward.  And at that level there are many common issues. This is business and I have to treat it that way. But I'm fortunate in that it's also a passion for me."


New Jag to debut Monday  Autosport reports that Jaguar is on target to run its new R5 Formula 1 challenger for the first time on Monday, and has set itself the aim of converting its impressive qualifying performances into race results.

Team boss David Pitchforth has confirmed that Jaguar's 2004 car is an evolution of last year's R4, and that it will feature a traditional nose. The R5 is due to be finished today (Saturday) before it is taken to Lommel in Belgium for three days of running next week prior to its official launch on January 18. The R5 has been finished on time and under budget.

"It [the R5] is an evolution focusing carefully on areas that needed attention," said Pitchforth. "This is an all-new car but has lineage to its predecessors. Everything changed on the car is based on fact."


Toyota Jerez testing roundup - drivers wait for new car 

Ricardo Zonta
Total laps: 175
Best Lap Time: 1m17.967s
Chassis: TF103/08
"For me, the test this week was quite good. It is always nice to get back in the cockpit after a relatively long break. We worked very closely with Michelin on Wednesday and Thursday to do some tyre testing with the standard TF103 chassis and we found some more positive results. It was a nice way to begin what I am sure will be an exciting year for Panasonic Toyota Racing."
Olivier Panis
Total laps: 225
Best Lap Time: 1m18.513s
Chassis: TF103B (7-8) TF103/08 (9)
"I am very happy with this test. We were able to complete a lot of laps over the three days. We worked on the reliability of the TF103B car for the first two days and managed over 130 laps, which is really quite encouraging. Today I switched to the 103 car and did some long runs to evaluate tyres with Michelin and everything went well. I am excited that our new TF104 car is being launched next week, and confident that it will be a big step forward."
Cristiano da Matta
Total laps: 45
Best Lap Time: 1m19.589s
Chassis: TF103B
"I only drove on one day during this week's Jerez test and unfortunately it wasn't such a good day with some problems, which prevented us from completing too many laps. On a more positive note though, everyone in the factory has done a great job over Christmas and New Year to put the final touches to the TF104, which will be unveiled in Cologne next week. I am looking forward to testing it as our preparations for the 2004 season really intensify."

Upcoming Tests

11-13 January 2004 Jerez Ryan Briscoe (11-13) TF103
20-23 January 2004 Barcelona Da Matta and Zonta (20-21) Briscoe and Panis (22-23) TF104/TF103B
27-29 January 2004 Valencia Ricardo Zonta (27-29) Olivier Panis (27-28) Cristiano da Matta (29) TF104/TF103B


Bernie says USA and Asia the future for F1, Europe to lose more races  UPDATE Mario Theissen has backed Bernie Ecclestone's plan to hold more races outside Europe, because he believes it will be good for BMW's marketing campaign. "As an automobile manufacturer, we welcome the development of Formula One from a one-sided concentration on Europe to a genuine World Championship," Theissen said. "It is an extremely attractive proposition as far as we are concerned to be able to use Formula One to demonstrate our technical expertise to emerging nations like China. The first venue in the Middle East also enriches the tournament from our perspective. The North American market is also particularly significant for us."  Read that more USA F1 races and their support of the Champ Car series with Formula BMW.  1/7/03 - Formula One will continue its trend out of Europe, according to the sport's impresario Bernie Ecclestone.  The 73-year-old Briton told German magazine Max that more races on the continent will be cancelled 'sooner or later.'  2004's official schedule will lack Austria and, in all probability, France.  Ecclestone, group principal of Formula One, continued: 'Our sponsors want us in growing markets - and Europe isn't a growing market.   He said: 'As I see it, Europe will be part of the third world in ten years.'  Asia and America, on the other hand, will be dominating the world, he added.  'We must be established there,' said Ecclestone, who will - for the first time ever - take his circus to the Middle East (Bahrain) and China this season.


IROC will not return to Indy   The International Race of Champions will not be part of the 2004 Brickyard 400 weekend schedule, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Friday. Since 1998, IROC had staged one of its four races at IMS in conjunction with the NASCAR race. IROC, which uses 12 drivers from different racing series in identically prepared cars, had lost its sponsor, True Value, after last year's race. IROC spokesman George Signore said the series has landed another sponsor and will continue at four other tracks, which he would not identify. "We didn't know for quite some time,'' he said. "As a matter of fact, we're slamming this thing together as we speak, and we're planning an announcement on Thursday.''  From where we sit, they should kill this series, which caters to NASCAR drivers, putting open wheel drivers at a severe disadvantage, and in turn making them look like fools.  However, if your ultimate goal is to eventually see just NASCAR left standing in the USA with its three series, IROC helps to further that goal.  IROC is, for all intents and purposes, an extension of NASCAR, and the conspiracy theorists say NASCAR would like nothing better than to get rid of all the different forms of racing in the USA and have Americans think of racing as stadium-style stock car oval racing, and nothing more.  The divide and conquer strategy is working perfectly for them.  They supported Tony George in his IRL efforts and by dividing Indy Cars that form of racing is close to death.  On the sportscar side, having the Grand-Am series divides and conquers what the ALMS was trying to build thereby never allowing that form of racing to become too strong.  Meanwhile NASCAR becomes stronger by the day to the point they are close to becoming a monopoly in the USA.


From the archives   UPDATE  A reader writes, The AR1 archive note on Eddie Sachs brought back a rush of indelible memories today. I was at Indy the day Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald died. I was sitting almost directly across the track on the front straightaway where their
cars came to rest in that huge fireball 40 years ago this May. David Smith, Louisville KY  1/9/03 - Eddie Sachs, celebrates as winner of the 1955 Dayton 100.  Those who remember the high banks of Dayton will know just how dangerous the track was, taking many a drivers life.  Ironically, Sachs survived Dayton but was to later lose his life in the tragic 1964 Indy 500 driving a Champ Car.  Photo by Steven Levinson.


Wobbly CART race up in the air  This Portland Tribune article says, Time is ticking away on Portland's chances of staging another CART race, the staple of the local racing scene and a fixture of the Rose Festival since 1984.  By next Friday, the race could be out of gas.  Mike Nealy, president of the race promotion company Global Events Group, has been busy courting potential corporate sponsors for a race tentatively scheduled for June 18 to June 20 at Portland International Raceway --without much luck.  Paul Gentilozzi, co-owner of the Open Wheel Racing Series group that is trying to navigate the Championship Auto Racing Teams series through bankruptcy proceedings, is putting the onus on Portland race supporters to secure sponsorship and pay a sanctioning fee.  "I'm certain we're going racing. We'll have a series," Gentilozzi says. "If Portland wants a race, they'll have to show that by signing a sanctioning agreement.  Other venues are selling tickets. I guess they have more confidence in us."......
Portland organizers want to say yea or nay to a 2004 race by Jan. 16. But to further complicate matters, a bankruptcy court will not hear CART sales proposals until Jan. 28.
"That's really the challenge (of selling), the uncertainty of the series itself," Nealy says.

G.I. Joe's: in or out?

One source says G.I. Joe's does not plan to renew its agreement to be the title sponsor of a Portland race. Norm Daniels, president of G.I. Joe's, would say only, "We would like to look at all avenues and make sure that the event will be up to, or exceed, the standards that the race fan expects in Portland."  Daniels and others want CART to survive.

Concession sales, an indicator of race attendance, have slipped 48 percent since 2000.
The CART series has lost some of its luster in recent years, as many high-profile teams and drivers have jumped to the rival Indy Racing League. And CART, which has suffered through managerial and financial turmoil trying to stay afloat, has lost more than $90 million since the start of 2002. Still, Nealy intimates that he could virtually put 18 Studebakers on the PIR track and put butts in seats to watch them. But he needs financial backing, such as another title sponsor to go along with G.I. Joe's.  "It's strictly a financial situation," Nealy says. "If there's not the community support -- corporate support -- then maybe the community doesn't want it. The part that's frustrating for me is I think the event represents more than just a car race. I think it's a loss to the community as a whole, if it goes away." 

Meanwhile, Mark Wigginton, the PIR manager, sits and waits. Normally he has the next year's PIR schedule set in October.  Another entity, the Oregon Motorcycle Roadracing Association, would like the June 18-20 weekend for an event. So there will be racing at PIR --of some sort --the third week of June.  "I told Mike (Nealy) I would give him the dates, but we need a firm commitment," Wigginton says. "I would like CART, because I think it's good for the city."  Wigginton chairs a committee appointed by city Commissioner Jim Francesconi to look at potential events for PIR, including a replacement race for CART. Daniels and Bob Ames, both founders of the CART race, also sit on the committee. Some talk revolves around the NASCAR Northwest Tour and Southwest Tour, probably run the previous weekend, as part of Rose Cup races.
It could be the rebirth of the Rose Cup as the main racing event around town.  "We're up for any race somebody can put on," Ames says. "I wish we could have a (CART) event. There's still a reasonable number of people who like to go, even though they're mediocre races. But we want the racetrack to be healthy and survive.  "We're all waiting to see what happens with CART."

"But the concern now is we're starting to run out of time," says Kevin Jeans-Gail, Francesconi's chief of staff. Francesconi oversees Portland Parks & Recreation, which manages the track.
Jeans-Gail says the city has offered lower rental fees, and the Rose Festival will take virtually nothing from the event. "We need certainty," he says. "Everybody's stretching to make it work. If we don't get certainty soon, we're in trouble."


Kimi likes new McLaren   Kimi Raikkonen completed his first day of testing in the MP4-19 today at the Jerez circuit. caught up with Kimi to get his first reactions on the team's 2004 challenger.
How did the MP4-19 feel today?
It was great to be back testing and of course to drive the MP4-19 for the first time at Jerez today. It is still early days as I have only completed one days running, but the car felt good and I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel tomorrow and Sunday, and putting in some more mileage.
What were you working on today?
This morning, the main focus was for me to get acquainted with the car, making sure I was comfortable in it and getting used to how it felt on track. Also, the track was damp in the morning, which meant that everyone's times were a little slower. Then during the afternoon, we continued the scheduled development program for the MP4-19, and as is often the case with testing, you do a few laps and then come into the garage and changes are made and you then go back out to see how that feels. It was a positive day though and we will continue the program tomorrow.


BAR designer doesn't think Williams nose worth it   According to this Autosport article, The radical front end of the new WilliamsF1 BMW FW26, which features a short nose and extended ‘tusks' that support the front wing, is not a new idea according to BAR-Honda technical director Geoff Willis.

The former Williams chief aerodynamicist says that the concept was looked at previously but dismissed because the advantage it produced was minimal in comparison to the drawbacks it presented in chassis weight distribution.

“We had that idea a few years ago,” he said at Jerez where he is overseeing BAR's test program. “But we didn't think it was worthwhile pursuing it because the merits of such a design were so small. Earlier last year I heard that Williams were looking at it and maybe they have found something because obviously they have state of the art facilities over there.”

Willis believes that because of the smaller nose structure more carbon fiber has to be used to make it strong enough to pass stringent FIA crash tests, which increases the overall weight of the component. This in turn compromises the overall weight distribution of the chassis. “It's a trade off between increased airflow and extra weight,” he said.

Willis did allow that Michelin-shod cars have a tendency to require more weight to be distributed at the front of the car. This has also been a major factor in the development of BAR's new car, since the team has switched from Bridgestone to Michelin for 2004 and has had to make significant changes to its hybrid chassis' weight distribution.  Willis confirmed that he has continued with a traditional thin-nosed design on the 2004 BAR which he described as “very sleek”. He said: “This year our car carries the lines I have always wanted my cars to have. It's more curvaceous than last year's. It looks just like a sexy lady.”


Jordan team hope to debut new car in February   The Jordan team have predicted that their 2004 challenger, the EJ14, should get its first track outing in early February. Though no official launch date has been set for the new car, they hope it will make its test debut at Silverstone on February 4-5.

The team will be on track ahead of that at Barcelona, later this month. According to the team’s official website, a four-day test at the Spanish venue from January 20-23 is likely to be the last circuit appearance for the outgoing EJ13.

Jordan also has further tests lined up at Jerez, Barcelona and Silverstone later in February. They have yet to announce any drivers for the 2004 season and, according to their website, boss Eddie Jordan will “carefully evaluate the shortlist of available drivers before deciding who will best complement the team's 2004 package”.


Salo to test at Laguna Seca  PK Racing's  Mika Salo will test on January 26-27 at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, in preparation for the upcoming 2004 Champ Car World Series season.

Salo, who joined the PK Racing squad for the final four races of 2003, will pilot the #27 PK Racing Ford-Cosworth Lola during the two-day test in order to build upon the information and teamwork he and the crew established last year.

Making an immediate impact upon the Champ Car scene, Salo scored two top-five finishes in those final four races. His brief season was highlighted by a third-place podium finish at the Grand Prix Americas in Miami, his second race in a Champ Car.

"I am really looking forward to getting back in the car again after a few months off," Salo said. "It has been nice spending time with my family over the holidays, but it is time to get back to work and focus on competing for the championship this season. We will pick up where we left off last year, where I really felt we had the car and the potential to win in Australia."

PK Racing General Manager Russ Cameron stated, "The upcoming test at Laguna is a critical one. Last season, we were behind from the start because we had a rookie driver, and we barely had a team together in time for Spring Training."

"This year," he continued, "will be different. We have had a full year to gel as a team, and we have a driver with experience who is eager to compete and win in Champ Cars. Beginning our testing program earlier will give us that much more of an advantage in the coming season, which looks to be just as competitive as the last one, if not more so."

Founded in January 2003, Indianapolis-based PK Racing fields a one-car effort in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. The team is co-owned by successful motorsports businessman Craig Pollock and high-tech industrialist Kevin Kalkhoven and is managed by Champ Car veteran Russell Cameron.


Kyle Busch set for rookie season    Lowe's and Hendrick Motorsports today announced a multi-year agreement that will feature Lowe's as primary sponsor of the No. 5 Chevrolet driven by Kyle Busch in the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series. In addition, four Lowe's vendor partners, including Shop-Vac®, GladiatorT GarageWorks, Briggs and Stratton® and Pella®, will rotate associate sponsorship of the No. 5 Chevrolet throughout the season.

"The success of Team Lowe's Racing, with Jimmie Johnson and the talented 48 team led by Chad Knaus, has resulted in an unprecedented level of interest and excitement from our customers, our employees and our vendor partners," said Dale Pond, Lowe's senior executive vice president of merchandising/marketing. "We're honored that our vendor partners view the Team Lowe's Racing program as an effective way to raise awareness of their products.

"This expansion of our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports gives our vendor partners exposure for their brand with one of the most respected and successful organizations in motorsports while giving the most loyal fans in all of sports, our customers and employees a second championship-caliber team to root for at the track."

The move combines Busch, who signed with Hendrick Motorsports in February 2003, with a team that won the 2003 Busch Series championship with driver Brian Vickers. Vickers moves to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series in 2004.

"This team is very close to my heart, so I'm excited that Lowe's and its vendor partners are enthusiastic about joining us in the Busch Series," said Ricky Hendrick, team owner. "They have been an integral part of Hendrick Motorsports' success over the past few years and we look forward to continuing that in 2004."

Busch, 18, posted two runner-up finishes and five top-10 qualifying efforts in seven Busch Series starts last season. The Las Vegas native also earned two victories and three pole positions in ARCA Series competition.

"As a young driver, I just couldn't ask for a better situation," said Busch. "With a sponsor like Lowe's and the resources at Hendrick Motorsports behind me, I know this is a special opportunity to learn and develop on and off the race track."

Lance McGrew, the 2003 Busch Series championship crew chief, returns to lead the team in its third season.

"I'm looking forward to the upcoming season for a lot of reasons," said McGrew. "We have a talented young driver in Kyle Busch and a great sponsorship program with Lowe's and their vendors. It should be another fun year for us."


Jerez: Friday test times   

1 Marc Gene Williams 1:17.401 68 laps
2 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams 1:17.500 54 laps
3 Jarno Trulli Renault 1:17.683 87 laps
4 David Coulthard McLaren 1:17.998 73 laps
5 Franck Montagny Renault 1:18.320 73 laps
6 Olivier Panis Toyota 1:18.513 93 laps
7 Luca Badoer Ferrari 1:18.576 84 laps
8 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:18.896 80 laps
9 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren 1:18.914 32 laps
10 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda 1:18.996 82 laps
11 Cristiano da Matta Toyota 1:19.589 44 laps
12 Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda 1:19.724 22 laps


Jordan test dates   

20 - 23 January: Barcelona
4 -5 February: Silverstone
10 - 13 February: Jerez
17 - 20 February: Barcelona
25 February: Silverstone


NASCAR announces major changes to points system    The new point system for NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series was revealed today, with a 10-race "playoff determining the 2004 champion.  NASCAR vice president of corporate communications Jim Hunter revealed the unfinished plan at Daytona International Speedway.

"Yes, we are committed to changing the format we use to determine the champion," Hunter said. "We're looking at 26, 10. We're looking at a number to make sure we don't exclude anybody in the 10 who would have a chance to win the championship."

"We'll start them off with x number of points, and the leader will have more than second, third, fourth, fifth, on down the line," Hunter said. "Then we still use our same points system the rest of the year for them."

That's to make sure drivers out of the playoffs won't end up with more points with drivers in the playoffs. That starting-point number for playoff drivers has been established, but Hunter wasn't ready to announce them

Hunter said NASCAR will award more points to the winner of each race, but it won't be a large number.

"You're racing to win races," Hunter said. "That's what you're supposed to be here for -- not running for points. We're toying with the idea of putting special point fund money to that position."

"The balance of winning and consistency has sort of gotten out of whack," Hunter said. "It seems that the consistency factor plays more of a role than winning races. We need to change the format.  It's a new day, so we want to try this. We think it'll work. In the end, if it doesn't work, we'll change it back."   More details will be provided as the final system is determined, according to Hunter.


Corvette team announces 2004 driver lineup, including Papis  The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette racing team has added three star drivers to its lineup as well as powerful upgrades to its cars and team as it prepares to race for a fourth straight manufacturer's championship in the American Le Mans Series in the upcoming 2004 season. Two-time American Le Mans Series GTS class driving champion Olivier Beretta (right) will join the team on a fulltime basis and will partner with returning driver Oliver Gavin in the team's #4 Corvette for the nine-race ALMS season, beginning with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Mar. 17-20. Defending GTS class driving champions Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell will continue as drivers of the #3 Corvette, with Fellows gunning to become the first driver in ALMS history to win three straight titles. Along with Beretta, the team has added additional firepower to its driving lineup with veterans Jan Magnussen and Max Papis, who will be with the team as third drivers in long-distance events. Magnussen will join Gavin and Beretta while Papis will race with Fellows and O'Connell. Ironically, Beretta was the lead driver for the former factory Dodge Viper team and battled fiercely with the Corvette team en route to winning back-to-back ALMS GTS class driving titles in 1999 and 2000. The Chevrolet Corvette C5-R will start its sixth full season of racing with significant developments in tire technology, personnel, engineering and aerodynamics. "Corvette proved once again why it is worthy of the title 'America's Sports Car Icon,'" said Harry Turner, GM group manager for road racing. "Racing is the crucible where Corvette's reputation was forged. The accomplishments of this team mean so much to Chevrolet and the millions of owners and enthusiasts worldwide. We plan on continuing that tradition in 2004." The Corvette Racing program recently announced a new partnership with the Michelin Group, which will provide technical assistance and full tire support for the team in the ALMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition, the team will start 2004 with a new six-speed gearbox from supplier Xtrac, engine performance enhancements and further aerodynamic modifications. In 2003, the Corvette team was part of one of the most competitive and exciting battles in sports car racing history, capturing the attention of racing fans around the world as it battled with Ferrari 550 Maranellos in the GTS class. The Corvette vs. Ferrari fight in the ALMS was so close that Chevrolet won the coveted manufacturer's title by only one point after edging Ferrari 5-4 in race wins.


Add Fittipaldi to Rolex 24 field   Nextel Cup driver Christian Fittipaldi will compete in the 2004 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Other NASCAR regulars such as Kyle Petty, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will also take the green flag on January 31 for 24 hours of tough competition. Fittipaldi, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil will be driving with the defending North American Road Racing Champions Bell Motorsports. Co-driving the #54 Doran/Chevy in the Daytona Prototype division along with 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller, Forest Barber and Andy Pilgrim, Fittipaldi feels the team has a better chance at success this year as compared to their 2003 effort at the endurance classic. In the 2003 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona they were able to complete only 67 laps before retiring with mechanical difficulties.


Brundle reprimands Schuey for on-track etiquette   "Michael sets a bad example as far as I am concerned as he will run everybody off the road at the first opportunity. He did it in Formula Three in Macau, he did it to me and he has even put his own brother into the wall," Martin Blundle told Sporting Life.

"I am a massive fan of Michael's and I respect him enormously but he will cross the line and he should be setting a better example to young drivers. Sure you have got to race hard and it is so hard to draw the line, but you have got to have discipline."

He added: "If Michael has been about in the mid- 1980s he would have been over the wall.  He would not have been allowed to do it by Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, and Nigel Mansell."


Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Signs Kosuke Matsuura   Super Aguri Fernandez Racing today announced that 24-year-old Kosuke Matsuura of Aichi, Japan, will pilot its #55 Panasonic ARTA Honda-powered Panoz G Force/Firestone entry in the 2004 IRL IndyCar Series.

Matsuura, a long-time member of the ARTA Project driver development program founded by team co-owner Aguri Suzuki, has spent the past three years garnering attention through his racing efforts in Europe. He finished third in the 2003 Formula Renault V6 Eurocup, claiming three wins [Donington Park, Oschersleben and Estoril] and five additional podiums, including six consecutive podiums in the final rounds. Matsuura also was a credible force in German Formula 3 competition, finishing second in the 2002 championship with two wins [Hockenheim and Zandvoort] and six pole positions.

“I have been supporting Kosuke Matsuura through the ARTA Project since he was competing in karts,” said Suzuki. “He is very decisive and clever when driving, and he is very fast. I am looking forward to the first win for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing.”

Co-owner Adrian Fernandez was on hand when Matsuura turned his first laps in an IRL IndyCar Series car at Phoenix International Raceway on November 12, and was immediately impressed: “I’m excited about the season. I was very impressed with what I saw and believe Kosuke is going to do a good job for us. Obviously, there will be things to learn, but I think he has what it takes to be very competitive.”

Matsuura, who began his career in karts at the age of 14, will make his U.S. racing debut when the season gets underway on February 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“It has been my dream to race in a top category and also in the United States,” said Matsuura, “so I am very happy to be able to compete in the IndyCar Series. I am especially excited to race at the Indy Japan and the Indy 500. I will do my best to meet the team and the sponsors’ expectations.”

The 2004 season will mark the second year of IRL IndyCar Series competition for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, which will continue its partnership with industry leaders Panasonic, Honda and Firestone. The team will once again be led by Managing Director Tom Anderson, co-owner of Fernandez Racing, with John Dick returning as race engineer and Steve Ragan as chief mechanic.

In addition to Matsuura, the other major change within the team is a switch to the Panoz G Force chassis, which emerged with dual crowns in 2003 – the IRL IndyCar Series Championship and the Indianapolis 500.

“We are very impressed with Kosuke’s natural driving ability and appetite for speed,” added Anderson. “Kosuke has had enough experience to understand the details of the sport, and has shown in his first three tests the ability to learn very quickly – a trait needed for success in the IndyCar Series. We have also seen Kosuke’s larger than life personality in action, and believe this will be a great team motivator.

“We are excited to return for our second season in the IRL IndyCar Series with the continued support of Panasonic and Autobacs, and to continue our long-term relationship with both Honda and Firestone. It’s going to be a really good season.”


Honda Michelin race to run in conjunction with Canadian GP   Honda Canada announced the return of the Honda/Michelin Challenge Series to Canada. The new regional "spec" racing series will feature stock Honda Civic DX Coupes and will return Honda Canada to the grassroots racing of the past. A formal race schedule will be announced at a later date, but a minimum of 10 races will be held in Ontario and Quebec during 2004. The new series is scheduled to include a race in conjunction with the Grand Prix of Canada Formula One race weekend in Montreal. It is anticipated that for 2005, the series will be expanded to include western Canada.

The single-marque road racing series was originally launched in 1975 with the Honda Civic Hatchback. During its 17-year run, the series is estimated to have attracted more than 400 amateur racers. The series also involved well-known Canadian race drivers such as Richard Spenard, Tony Morris, Frank Allers, and Jacques Villeneuve Sr. More....


Williams BMW pips Ferrari for sponsor exposure   Ferrari may be champions on the track, but in terms of exposure for sponsors, the BMW WilliamsF1 team is better.  According to the latest findings from the research and evaluation firm S-Comm on the 2003 Formula One season, delivering sponsor exposure was a hard fought battle between the teams. S-Comm figures show the Ferrari team managed to hold a leading share of team coverage with 23 percent, but did not win out in terms of clear exposure for sponsors – where Williams BMW prevailed. Said an S-Comm spokesman: “Analysis of the ability to convert team coverage into useful exposure for sponsors throws up some interesting results and, after BMW WilliamsF1 team, shows the Panasonic Toyota Racing team as especially efficient.  However, unlike other teams such as BMW WilliamsF1 and Sauber Petronas, the Panasonic Toyota team retained the major part of this exposure – 90 percent - as a benefit to its title and manufacturer sponsors.”


Montoya: It wasn't about the money    Juan Pablo Montoya has denied that it is money that motivated his decision to leave Williams at the end of this year and join McLaren.

"I'm going to another team that I can win races with. It's like when you work for a newspaper and you go to another newspaper or from one magazine to another," Montoya told Autosport.

"It's not the money. I think I could probably get more money here at Williams. Everybody thinks I'm going to get $20m to be at McLaren, but you'd be surprised at what I'm getting."

"I think if I had started dealing with Frank I could have got more money, but it wasn't about getting more money. It was about a choice that I wanted to make and that was it."

"I want to experience something new. I think I've achieved what I wanted to in my career as a Williams driver. You set yourself goals and I did them. If you really think about it you're going from one top team to another and in both teams you can win races."

He added: "At the end of the day you say 'okay, I want to go and try something new' and I did. Simple."

Montoya also refuted Sir Frank Williams' recent comments that the Colombian was leaving because he was unhappy about the fact that his team-mate Ralf Schumacher earned more than him. "I wasn't happy. I've never been happy that Ralf was earning more than me, but that's not the reason I'm leaving."

"I'm making enough money to live on, honestly. When Ralf did his deal with the team, it was good timing. At the time, I was struggling with the team. They were not doing what I wanted on the car. It was very difficult for me when I was saying 'I've got understeer' and they were saying 'you can't have understeer because Ralf doesn't have understeer'. That was a very tough time for me. Ralf took that opportunity to get a lot of money out of Frank, and he did. That's business."


ESPN to make Earnhardt movie    ESPN officials confirmed Thursday much of the footage of a planned made-for-TV movie devoted to the life of the late NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt could be filmed in Charlotte and Atlanta. Rob Tobias, ESPN's director of media relations, said the network originally had discussions with officials with Dale Earnhardt Inc., including owner Teresa Earnhardt, the driver's widow. "In the end, we couldn't agree on a story line, so we have proceeded on with the project. The script has been given the green light," he said. Tobias said the movie should be ready by late summer. Production is under way and casting decisions will be made soon, he said. DEI officials reached Thursday declined to comment on the movie. A spokesperson at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., said ESPN had not been in touch with the track as yet.


NASCAR popularity waning?    NASCAR executives may be having second thoughts about moving the NASCAR Preview - now the NASCAR Fanfest -out of North Carolina. What was a successful Saturday-long venture in Winston-Salem for so many years was a flop here [Daytona] Wednesday night. Daytona Speedway officials said that 4,600 people showed up (at $10 a head) to ask questions of nine drivers, who sat on stage and didn't sign autographs, although autographs were available in souvenir packs. Others pegged the audience at fewer than 1,500. While in Winston-Salem, the event annually drew a sellout of 25,000. The drivers' stage was so low that most in the audience couldn't see the drivers. NASCAR officials said they would consider moving the preview around, perhaps one year in Charlotte, the next year in Richmond. Winston Salem Journal


Latest Formula One News in brief 

Verstappen Has Signed Jordan Drive?
Lauda's Old Lambo In The Headlines
Alonso, Trulli, Lap Up Holiday Season
Rule-Change To Re-Open F1 Door For Wilson
Montoya, FW26, Quickest Again At Jerez
Ferrari, BAR, Pen New F1 Deals
Williams Might Have Started New F1 Trend
Kiesa Wants Longer F1 Career
Renault's New Racer To Grow Tusks?
Richards Stripped BAR To The Core
Brands Hatch Safe From Bulldozers
Tusked Car Is No White Elephant: Head


Strong start for Max Papis and Ganassi team   Max Papis and Chip Ganassi Racing have started their new adventure together in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series on a good note. Beginning on January 3 to January 5, the pre-season testing took place at the Daytona International Speedway. Papis’ No.01 Comp USA Lexus Riley ended up an impressive third overall with a 1:48:877 lap at 117.71 mph. Bell Motorsports, the defending champions had the fastest lap time of 1:48:311 at 118.33 mph.

This was the first time that the No. 01 Comp USA Lexus Riley had ever gone on track and overall winner of the 2002 Rolex 24 at Daytona Max Papis was pleased with the car’s performance, ”Being that this is the first time we put the car on the track, third overall is a good start. We are going to continue the development of the car in the up coming test at Phoenix so we can come back to Daytona ready to win the race.”

This was also the first time that Chip Ganassi Racing competes in an endurance racing series like the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and Papis is looking forward to contribute with his previous experience in endurance racing, “ Obviously CGR needs no introduction and their achievements speak for themselves, but endurance racing is different and this is going to be a whole new challenge for them and I am looking forward to sharing it with this professional group of people.”

Papis will team up with racing veteran Scott Pruett for the 2004 Rolex 24 at Daytona (January 29 to February 1) and for the rest of the 2004 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
Best Practice Times Saturday-Monday
1. (54) Barber; Borcheller; Pilgrim; Duno, DP, Bell Motorsports Chevrolet Doran, 01:48.311, 118.326.
2. (58) Donohue; Law; Maassen; Luhr, DP, Red Bull – Brumos Porsche Fabcar, 01:48.635, 117.973.
3. (01) Scott Pruett; Max Papis, DP, CGR Grand Am Lexus Riley, 01:48.877, 117.711.
4. (2) Wallace; Earnhardt Jr; Stewart, DP, Howard – Boss Motorsports Chevrolet Crawford, 01:49.038, 117.537.
5. (27) Theys; Lienhard, DP, Doran Lista Racing Lexus Doran, 01:49.747, 116.778.
6. (59) Haywood; France; Sharp; Goodyear, DP, Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar, 01:50.230, 116.266.
7. (6) Martini; Wagner; Newton; Erdos; Collins, DP, Michael Shank Racing Lexus Doran, 01:50.248, 116.247.


NASCAR set to announce new points system    NASCAR indeed is changing the way it crowns a champion in the Nextel Cup Series in 2004, switching to a season-long points race to a 10-race "playoff," vice president of corporate communications Jim Hunter confirmed to Thursday afternoon. While Hunter didn't disclose the exact nature of the playoffs -- because NASCAR hasn't nailed down the details -- a system will be used in the final 10 races to determine the champion. Matt Kenseth led the standings by over 400 points at one point in 2003. "Yes, we are committed to changing the format we use to determine the champion," Hunter said in an exclusive interview with "We're looking at 26, 10. We're looking at a number to make sure we don't exclude anybody in the 10 who would have a chance to win the championship."


A new look at Daytona    Days after removing Winston signage, Daytona International Speedway replaced the familiar red and white with new series sponsor NEXTEL signage in time for Speedweeks which begins later this month.


Lewis and Drissi return to ALMS  AutoCon Motorsports in conjunction with RPM Holdings, LLC will campaign a Riley & Scott MkIIIc in the 2004 ALMS Championship. Michael Lewis has been announced as primary driver and Tomy Drissi has signed on for a majority of the schedule as well. Lewis and Drissi ran the entire 2003 ALMS schedule as teammates for American Spirit Racing and had encouraging results for a freshman team with a top-3 qualifying effort in Miami and strong finishes in the later half of the season. A trip to Le Mans for the world famous 24-hour race is also planned for the duo.

"We certainly learned a great deal during our rookie season in ALMS," said Lewis. "The quality of competition in the LMP class was incredible. Every part of your program has to be top-shelf if you want to compete with the likes of the Joest, Champion and Panoz. Tomy and I both feel as if we have some unfinished business and look forward to returning to the best sportscar series in the world".

Although new to ALMS, AutoCon Motorsports has successfully run in the Trans-Am Series for the last six years, culminating in Michael Lewis' third (3rd) place finish for the 2003 championship. The challenges of running in a new series are not lost on the veteran team but experience was gained during 2003. "It's not really new for us as we ran last year's American Spirit effort out of our shop in San Diego," explained Lewis, "so most of the personnel and equipment will be the same for 2004. It's particularly important, in my opinion, to have that continuity in effort at this level of the sport, particularly for Sebring, Le Man, and Petit. It's undoubtedly our biggest challenge yet at AutoCon, but the entire team is looking forward to building on the momentum we had late last year."

Tomy Drissi added, "Michael and I had a blast last year and are anticipating podiums this year. We're both extremely competitive personalities". As for the trip to Le Mans, Drissi continued, "It's always been a dream of mine to run Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing, and I'm really happy to be making the effort to get there. We're both pumped and ready to start testing. I'm excited about the changes in this season's package. I can't wait for Sebring!"

About the Riley & Scott MkIIIc, Lewis had this to say, "What a great little car this is! I can't say enough about how good a job Bill Riley and his boys did in turning out such a tremendous car with a fraction of the development budget the factory teams had. We definitely were interested in continuing with it, so when it became available from American Spirit Racing, AutoCon and RPM snapped it up. Just look at the run that Matthews Racing had at Le Mans last year and you can see the potential. We'd love to realize that potential this year".

AutoCon/RPM is currently looking to fill out their line-up with funded drivers who have the skills and desire to compete at Sebring, Le Mans, Monza, Petit and other selected events. Further details of the program will be released as they become available.


Montoya again sets pace at Jerez 












129.226 mph

























de la Rosa






























Team USA

Team USA ready for first races   The Talley’s International Formula Ford Series kicks off this weekend with a pair of races at Levels Raceway, Timaru, and three talented young American drivers are hungry for success.

Joe D’Agostino, 18, from Plantation, Fla., Charlie Kimball, 18, from Camarillo, Calif., and Ryan Millen, 19, from Newport Beach, Calif., will pilot a trio of red, white and blue Team USA Scholarship Stealth/Van Diemens, prepared by the Canterbury Motor Racing School, as they attempt to follow the lead set by countryman Bryan Sellers, who in ’02 took his Team USA car to victory in both races at the 1.49-mile (2.4 kms) track on New Zealand’s South Island.

Today, in a final test session prior to the start of official practice, D’Agostino unofficially headed the time sheets with a best lap at 1m 06.49s, which was around 0.3 secs faster than he managed in testing last Saturday. Teammate Kimball, who had been marginally quickest in the first of today’s pair of half-hour sessions, posted a lap at 1m 06.62s, while Millen, whose car was hobbled by an irritating misfire, still managed to set a very respectable 1m 06.82s.

By the team’s reckoning, New Zealand veteran Kenny Smith was fastest of the local contingent with a time of 1m 06.78s in his brand-new Stealth 04. Canterbury teenager Peter Knight, who also runs a Canterbury Motor Racing School-prepped car, was close behind at 1m 06.88s. Over 20 drivers participated in today’s test.

"It was a great day," said an excited D’Agostino. "The car was fantastic. We all ran well but we’re under no illusions. Right now we’re sitting pretty comfortable, but we know the locals will be catching up to us pretty quickly, so we have to keep working at it and getting faster."

"There was a lot of traffic out there today," added Kimball. "It was amazing for a Thursday test day. Joe and I spent the first session running around with each other, getting used to the slipstream [draft] and seeing if we could learn something from each other, which we did. It was good. I learned a lot and we’re getting quicker. The conditions were a bit better, not quite so hot, in the second session and I didn’t really get a good lap in, but the car feels good. I’m very happy. I know what I’m doing and I know what I want from the car. Now it’s just a case of working away at it and then getting ‘that lap’ in qualifying."

Millen, on the other hand, whose testing so far has been plagued by engine problems, was further hindered today by a persistent misfire. Despite the disappointment, he remained upbeat about his prospects for the weekend.

"I’m frustrated at the moment but at least the car is handling reasonably well," he said. "The other two guys are doing a very good job. I’m very impressed, and I’m very much looking forward to the weekend."

The entire Formula Ford field is set to have three 20-minute practice sessions tomorrow (Friday), followed by two 20-minute qualifying sessions on Saturday to set the grids for Sunday’s pair of races. The first race will be contested over 10 laps and the second over 15 laps.  For more information, please contact: Jeremy Shaw, 949-766-9504,


SPEED to show over 15 hours of Rolex 24   SPEED Channel, the exclusive North American broadcaster of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, will offer race fans more than 15 hours of live coverage of the 42nd Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 31 - February 1.

SPEED Channel's in-depth coverage of America's classic endurance race will begin at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 31. SPEED will go live to Daytona International Speedway for pre-race ceremonies and the green flag, and then follow the action through the afternoon, sunset and into the evening, wrapping up their Saturday broadcast at 9 p.m. ET.

SPEED Channel will return live in time for race fans to watch the sunrise over Daytona International Speedway and find out who has survived the night, with the Sunday, February 1 broadcast beginning at 6 a.m. ET. After catching up on all the excitement that happened during the evening, SPEED's coverage will continue throughout the morning as teams battle for positions before the checkered flag drops shortly after 1 p.m. Race fans will get to hear from the victors before SPEED wraps up their extensive coverage at 1:30 p.m. ET.

A veteran lineup has been put together by SPEED Channel to deliver the best possible coverage of the Rolex 24. Bob Varsha will host the broadcast, while Leigh Diffey handles play-by-play and Dorsey Schroeder and David Hobbs provide color commentary from the booth. Chris Neville, Calvin Fish and Brian Till will keep fans updated on what is going on in the pits and garage.

For race fans that want to catch the excitement of the Rolex 24 At Daytona in person, tickets are currently on sale through Daytona International Speedway's ticket office and can be purchased online at or by calling 386-253-RACE.

To check the availability of SPEED Channel in your area, visit


Argent to Sponsor Team Rahal's IRL Indy Car and Toyota Atlantic Car   Team Rahal announced today the expansion of its partnership with Argent Mortgage Company LLC as a major sponsor for the Ohio-based team's 2004 racing program.

In 2004 Argent Mortgage Company will serve as a co-primary sponsor with Pioneer Electronics on Team Rahal's IRL IndyCar Series Honda/G-Force entry driven by former Indy 500 and IRL Indy Car Series champion Kenny Brack. Brack was injured in the final 2003 IRL IndyCar Series race in Texas on October 12 and is currently recovering at his home in Columbus, Ohio.

Team Rahal also has announced that young American driver Buddy Rice of Phoenix, Ariz., will be the substitute driver for Brack in the opening races of the 2004 IndyCar Series.

Argent Mortgage will continue its involvement as the primary sponsor with Team Rahal's Toyota Atlantic Championship program and rising open-wheel star Danica Patrick. The Toyota Atlantic Championship is the final step in the Champ Car ladder system, which develops young drivers for the highest levels of open-wheel racing in the United States and around the world.

Argent Mortgage entered the motorsports arena in 2003 with a successful campaign that included sponsorship of Team Rahal's Toyota Atlantic car driven by Patrick as well as race event sponsorship in the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Argent was the primary sponsor on Team Rahal's second Indy 500 entry in 2003 driven by past open-wheel champion Jimmy Vasser.

"Our opportunities in 2003 with Team Rahal -- including Danica Patrick's Toyota Atlantic program and the Indy 500 entry with Jimmy Vasser -- were great marketing successes for Argent Mortgage," said Wayne Lee, President of Argent. "We are very pleased to expand our racing program for 2004. Auto racing is a unique forum for a company to express its messages and we feel that Team Rahal and Bobby Rahal, with Danica, Kenny and Buddy as our drivers, gives us an outstanding vehicle for Argent. We are looking forward to another sensational racing season in 2004."

"The expansion of Argent's partnership with Team Rahal is extremely exciting," said three-time CART champion and Team Rahal co-owner Bobby Rahal. "The alliance we enjoyed in 2003 with Argent and our Toyota Atlantic and Indy 500 programs proved to be a tremendous asset for both of us. Argent introduced itself to a new audience through its marketing and media programs last year. With two racing programs in 2004, we feel our partnership will support Argent's continued growth."


Renovac to sponsor Ray   IRL IndyCar Series competitor Access Motorsports, and 1999 series driving champion Greg Ray of Plano, welcomes first-year associate sponsor Renovac Systems, Inc., on board as an associate sponsor of the team’s #13 Honda-powered, Panoz G Force Indy car beginning with the 2004 season.  “We are very excited and hope this is the beginning of a long and prosperous relationship,” said Ray, Access Motorsports owner-driver who founded the team in partnership with Ted Bitting and Jamie Nanny in early 2003. “It’s particularly exciting to join forces with a thriving company from your own backyard. Perhaps this will be a big step to help us fulfill our championship dreams in the very near future.”


Ex-convict hurls bench through Lauda's former car window  A struggling ex-convict hurled a bench through the window of a Lamborghini sportscar to get himself jailed again, a court has heard.  David Walker wandered drunk into the car park of a hotel before smashing the rear wing and mirror of the Countach, which had been owned by Formula One legend Niki Lauda.  Torbay Magistrates Court was told that the 42-year-old had only left jail in Durham four days before his offence, by which time he had "had enough of life on the outside".  Ann Bellchambers, defending, told the court: "On the train heading south from Durham prison he lost his bag containing his working tools and addresses for accommodation and employment.

"He made his way to devon feeling depressed and suicidal. He did what he did to get back to prison where he felt he might get help."

Walker, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to four months' prison, to begin when his original nine-month term ends.  The 180mph car will have to be sent to Italy for £9,000 worth of repair work to the wing, mirror and a scratch on the bonnet.  Its owner, 18-year-old Navin Patel, said: "I've been keeping the car at the hotel until I pass my test.  It's an awesome car. It's one of the originals and with its history it's worth twice what you'd pay for a normal one."  Sky Sports


Ned Miller passes away  Ned Miller, who served as CART’s equipment coordinator as well as ambulance driver and fueler for many years dating back to the inception of CART, passed away this past Saturday and was laid to rest on Thursday. Ned and his wife Annie were a fixture with the series for many seasons, Annie working in the registration trailer while Ned was on Pit Road.  Annie is at home after having a medical procedure herself and can be contacted at:
Elizabeth Scott Community
Apt 127
2720 Alban Rd.
Maumee, OH 43537


Ferrari signs deal with Beta  Ferrari proudly announced today that they have established a long-term technical and commercial agreement with Beta Utensili S.p.A. Beta, one of the world leaders in the manufacture and sale of professional tools and high-quality equipment, will be an official supplier to the Scuderia up until the end of the 2006 season.


Arden announces 2004 drivers   Arden International have today confirmed Vitantonio Liuzzi (IT) and Robert Doornbos (NL) as their 2004 Drivers for the FIA F3000 Championship which was announced at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham.

Liuzzi (23) a former Karting World Champion joins the Team after a successful debut season in 2003 with the Red Bull Junior Team.

Doornbos (22) has committed to a 2 year agreement with the Team and is a graduate from the F3 Euro Series where he was a front runner and recently finished second in his final F3 race at the Korean Grand Prix.

Having won both the Team and Drivers Championship last year, both Drivers were selected after having tested for the Team during October and November.

Both Drivers will commence an extensive pre-season test program during February prior to the first race at Imola on 23 April.

Christian Horner commented: "I am delighted that we have secured the services of Vitantonio and Robert with our goals clearly being to retain both Championships. Vitantonio clearly demonstrated his championship potential during the 2003 season and was very impressive when he tested with us at both Estoril and Monza.

Robert demonstrated considerable speed during his F3 career and was immediately quick when he tested with us at Jerez in October and I am sure that he will quickly adapt to F3000.

F3000 look set to have another competitive year and with a recent introduction of mandatory pit stop, I am sure the races will be extremely exciting".

Vitantonio Liuzzi commented: "It is a great privilege for me to join the Arden Team which provides me with a great opportunity for this year. Bjorn did a fantastic job last season and obviously I will try to repeat his performance."

Robert Doornbos commented: "This is a really big opportunity for me which I fully intend to make the most of. 2004 will be a learning year but I hope to learn as quickly as possible and I can’t wait for testing to begin in February."  [Editor's Note: Where this leaves American Townsend Bell is anyone's guess, though Bell is hoping to land a F1 testing contract as he has his eyes set firmly on making it fulltime to F1.]


Jarrett reaction to Joe Gibbs coaching Redskins   Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, was the first driver hired by Joe Gibbs in 1992 when he became a car owner. Jarrett, who won his first Daytona 500 with that organization in 1993, gave his reaction to the news that Gibbs will once again coach the NFL's Washington Redskins.

DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus - WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO JOE GIBBS GOING BACK TO COACH THE REDSKINS? "I don't know how much of a loss it will be for our sport. Hopefully, he'll still be around, but it's certainly a gain for the NFL by far. They're not only getting a great coach back in Washington, but they're getting a quality person. Anytime that any business or sport comes across someone like Joe Gibbs and can put them in their court, it's gonna be better for that organization. I'm happy for Joe. He's a really good coach, and that's an understatement, but he's a fun person to watch on the sidelines. You always knew that even though he's had a lot of success here in NASCAR racing, it just never was right not seeing him on the sidelines because he is so good. We'll all enjoy it and, hopefully, he'll invite us all to a Redskins game sometime." WHAT WAS IT LIKE DRIVING FOR JOE? "It was literally a life-changing experience for me in a lot of ways. Joe helped me personally to become a better person. He made me look at things differently and taught me a lot about life. All of that translated in and helped make me a better race driver, but, more than that, I think it helped make me a better person. It was fun, especially when I started because I got to go to Redskins games and to a Super Bowl. That was all fun, but I think the biggest thing was just being around someone of that caliber. It helped me to realize what things were really important in life." IS THAT WHAT MAKES HIM SUCCESSFUL AS A COACH TOO? "There's no doubt that that's what makes him successful as a coach. I said it then that he's a people person. He understands how to get the most out of people and that's what makes him so good at what he does."


Tobacco deals in China  According to this article, The Chinese tobacco giant Hongta has just begun producing West-branded cigarettes in China, as part of a deal with the Imperial Tobacco Group, the world's fourth largest tobacco company. Imperial will be investing $8.4m a year in China for the next 10 years and is aiming to sell 10m West cigarettes every year. This is a tiny amount when one considers that the Chinese smoke 1.7 trillion cigarettes a year but it is a sign that the markets are beginning to open up. West cigarettes will be on sale in Shanghai and in the south-western city of Kunming, home of Hongta.

British American Tobacco and Gallaher (Benson & Hedges) also have deals with Chinese manufacturers but sales of the cigarettes have yet to begin. Marlboro remains the biggest foreign company active in China, a key market for the tobacco companies in the future and thus an important target for F1.


Interview with BMW's Mario Theissen  The P84 is one of the aces up the BMW WilliamsF1 Team’s sleeve for the 2004 season. BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen tells us more about the engine.  Transcript


Latest Formula One News in brief 

Renault Join F1's Puma Party
First Pre-Season Test Day Of New Year: Jerez
All-Smiles At Williams As FW26 Goes Fastest
Don't Hold A Gun To Frank's Head: Source
Why Launch The New Williams So Early?: Head
Montoya Expects Raikkonen As F1 Teammate
Up To F1 Teams To Cut Costs: FIA President
Button To Wait For BAR's World Title
Ferrari To Launch New Car In January?
Bernie Cools Abramovich Assault
Button's London Pad On The Market  

Button Plays Down 'Sand Problem' In Bahrain
Brawn Needs Help On Ferrari Strategy
Montoya More Aggressive Than Ralf: Test Ace
You Sure It's Going To Work?: Montoya On FW26
F1 Has Forgotten Benetton, Says Renault Chief

  Much on 2004 archives button below

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