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News (chronologically)


IRL bid puts Canadian races in jeopardy  UPDATE  "unite" (Tony speak for KILL CART) unite means some reasonable "uniting" here there is none, taking one race of 16 races and taking away their engines does not unite it KILLS as it is designed to do!  1/26/04 - A new bid from the Indy Racing League for selected assets of rival CART has the Molson Indy in jeopardy.  The IRL has reportedly offered $3.3 million (U.S.) for the assets, a move designed to unite the two open-wheel racing series.

The January 24th Indianapolis Star said the offer was double the amount offered by the Open Wheel Racing Series last month. OWRS co-owner Paul Gentilozzi said the main components of the IRL's bid are the Grand Prix of Long Beach — the most successful event in CART history — and the Ford engines used by the Champ Car racing series.

TSN reported that the IRL plans wouldn't add road and street races in time for the upcoming season. That would mean there would be no CART races in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal this year.   In addition, the IRL has contracts with engine manufacturers Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet and Cosworth, a subsidiary of Ford. If the IRL acquires the Ford engines, champ-car racing wouldn't have engines in place in time to stage the 2004 season.

Gentilozzi said the IRL is looking to eliminate CART. "It's clear what (the IRL's) intentions are when you look at which assets they want to purchase," Gentilozzi said.   IRL spokesperson Fred Nation said the bid was similar to OWRS's. "We're offering more money for less than the other folks," he told TSN's Web site.  Toronto Star


Long Beach objection to OWRS bid withdrawn  STATEMENT FROM JIM MICHAELIAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE GRAND PRIX ASSOCIATION OF LONG BEACH: “As we’ve said before, our preference would be to continue on with our existing relationship and run the Champ Car race as the headline event. “The objection placed by Dover Motorsports Inc. and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach was done as a procedural move necessary to protect our rights and obtain certain basic information and ‘adequate assurances’ from OWRS in the bankruptcy proceeding. As a public company, Dover Motorsports and GPALB have a responsibility to seek information regarding the ongoing viability of the series. We have now received a response to the questions we were asking and, as a result, have withdrawn our objection to OWRS’ bid. “We await the judge’s decision on this matter.”


***Reader Feedback***Great Articles  A reader writes, Dear, Your series of articles on why Open Wheel needs OWRS was awesome. Very true, too. If there is anything that has been proven over the years, it is Tony can buy the tracks, he can by the teams, he can even buy the drivers, but he will never, ever get the fans.  Matt


Grand-Am team suffers fire damage  The Racer's Group 53-foot race transporter, en route from Sonoma, Calif., to Daytona, Fla., for the 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona, sustained heavy fire and smoke damage when an axle failed in the rear of the transporter, causing a suspected electrical or tire fire. The driver, Jerry Cowans, was unhurt in the incident. Crewmembers converged on the accident site, Gila Bend, Ariz., to assess damage and begin transferring salvageable equipment from the damaged trailer to a new one.

Team owner Kevin Buckler's team has won the Rolex 24 At Daytona twice. "When we found out late Friday night, our first reaction was disbelief, then relief when it became apparent that Jerry wasn't hurt," said Buckler. "As he stood on the side of the road in the middle of the desert in Arizona, he let us know that the No. 66 and No. 67 cars were heavily smoke damaged, but appeared to be mechanically unharmed."

The immediate problem facing the team was getting the undamaged equipment to Florida in time for this weekend's race. Buckler started placing phone calls to acquaintances and business contacts around the country, and within a few hours had arranged for the purchase and pick up of a new race trailer.

At 2 a.m. PT on Saturday morning, the deal was completed. Several crewmembers flew from Los Angeles, Denver and Sacramento to Phoenix, where they discovered that the hydraulic systems in the trailer were not functioning, preventing the crew from removing the cars from the trailer.

Simultaneously, a leased tractor and The Racer's Group new trailer were en route from Los Angeles, Calif. to Arizona to begin the process of transferring equipment from one rig to the other.

"The thing that stands out for me from this whole event is the response of my crew to our emergency," said Buckler. "They had all just packed up the old trailer and sent it down the road to Daytona. All the bins were closed, all the tools were in place, and every sticker on the cars was perfect. They had all gone back to their homes for one last weekend of rest before the season started. But every last one of them has the same determination I have - to deal with adversity, handle the situation like professionals, and just put their heads down and go to work. There's no way on earth that I would bet against my crew getting us to Daytona in time. Anybody can ride the ship when it's just cruising along, but when something like this happens you really find out what your team is made of. My guys reacted just as I expected."

Pictures of the incident and the most recent developments can be seen at


Pollard to join Menards Infiniti Pro Series  Brad Pollard has signed with Kenn Hardley Racing to compete in the Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series™ for the full 2004 season. The entry will be sponsored by X-Box. Pollard, a cousin of the late Indianapolis 500 veteran Art Pollard, made two starts on the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2003. He started eighth and finished 11th in the Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry at Fontana, Calif., and started and finished 15th (accident) in the season finale at Texas in the Arrow Karts/Motorsport Ranch/SSM entry.

Industry News

Lola to supply cars for new F1-like series  Lola Cars International Ltd today confirmed the completion of a formal agreement between the company and A1 Grand Prix, a new winter single-seater series that has been founded by His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum and businessmen, Brian Menell and Antonio Teixeira.

New cars will be developed for the A1 Grand Prix series that is set to begin in the winter of 2005 (pending FIA approval), involving a minimum of 24 countries. 30 single seater cars will be built for the new series and 3.5 litre engines will be developed by Northampton based Langford Performance Engineering.  His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum, of the ruling royal family of Dubai has himself competed in both cars and bikes in recent years and is a passionate motorsport enthusiast.

Lola Cars Chairman Martin Birrane said of the announcement; "Lola has all the credentials required for this exciting new series from the Middle East which is one of the biggest growth areas in global motorsport. We are looking forward to contributing our expertise to make A1 Grand Prix a successful venture whilst further expanding the company’s horizons at the same time.”

A1 Grand Prix plan to unveil the prototype racing car built by Lola at the formal launch which is due to take place at the end of March or beginning of April 2004. The roll-out will take place in Dubai.

Lola Cars International are the world’s oldest and most successful manufacturer of race cars and have a continuing success in global racing series from Formula Nippon in Japan, Champ Car in the US and Formula 3000 in Europe. Lola also recently announced a new generation LMP2 sportscar that is set to hit the tracks in 2005, underlining the company’s heritage in the category that saw an historic victory for the Lola LMP675 car against the Audi LMP900 racer at Sears Point last July.

Lola Cars, based in Huntingdon has a state-of-the-art engineering infrastructure that includes a 50% rolling road wind tunnel, commercial composites subsidiary – CTS, comprehensive vehicle dynamics testing facilities and turn-key race team premises. Lola has over four decades of experience in providing logistical and technical support to racers around the world.


Harrison and RuSPORT part ways  Burke Harrison, AJ Allmendinger's engineer at RuSPORT for last season's Championship effort, has left the team. The official team comments was - "Burke has left RuSPORT, however his departure will not affect the team’s 2004 plans to compete in the top open-wheel series. Burke was not slated to be working on that program. We all wish him the best in his future endeavors."


Debtor in possession gets last and final bid  Tony George says he is prepared to up his bid significantly to kill the Champ Car Series and unify Open Wheel Racing under the IRL.  If (yes, if) his bid is deemed responsive he may have to do just that.  This is a 13-65 (or 13-75, we forget the exact number) bankruptcy. The debtor in possession, in this case OWRS who is already paying CART's bills to keep the doors open, has last and final bid.  Can OWRS dig deep enough to outbid the Hulman George family with a final bid that will break Tony George's bank?  Yes, in fact one has to wonder if Tony has enough money to outbid OWRS.  Both Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe are rumored to each be worth well in excess of $1 billion.  While their net worth is not totally liquid, a billion dollars is a billion dollars.  Tony George's sisters have put Tony on notice that they are cutting off his endless spending spree to artificially prop up the IRL.  This is probably Tony's last hurrah.  If he doesn't win this battle and the Champ Car Series continues through 2004, his primary means of funding may have to come through the back door from his oval track brethren.  Mark C.


Must Judge Otte take the highest bid?  Many people are wondering if Judge Otte must take the highest bid in the CART bankruptcy case.  The answer is absolutely not.  If this case were a bankruptcy Chapter case to dissolve the company, the highest bid would win.  However, this is a bankruptcy chapter (11) to revive the business.  Big difference.  Under federal law the judge is obligated to rule in favor of the bid and the business plan that has the best chance to revive the business so people can stay employed, and debtors can be paid off, i.e.  to do what's best for the commerce of all parties involved, from the biggest debtor to the lowest employee.  Some have also asked if the Judge can allow the IRL to cherry-pick the Long Beach race.  While the judge can do anything, it's highly unlikely he would do that.  He is out to find the best way to revive the business and make it financially viable and a strong and successful argument will likely be made that if the Champ Car Series were to lose their crown jewel race, their ability to continue will be severely hampered.  To top it off, the IRL can't run the Long Beach race in April of 2004 and the Long Beach GP Association are already selling tickets.  The judge is probably going to pound his gavel and reject the IRL's attempt at cherry-picking Long Beach as irresponsible.  Mark C.


Robby Gordon to drive in Rolex  It's official, the Spirit of Daytona team grew by one more really hot shoe Saturday as Nextel Cup driver Robby Gordon was added to the team's roster for Saturday's Rolex 24 At Daytona. Gordon joins Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Kyle Petty and Jimmie Johnson in the temporary leap from NASCAR to open-wheel racing for the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 endurance event at Daytona International Speedway. With five top-10 and four top-five overall finishes in the five Rolex 24 events in which he has participated, Gordon has demonstrated an ability to drive in a race that calls as much upon a driver's finesse as it does shear speed. Gordon will team with the Spirit's regular driving duo of Goad and IRL veteran Gregoire in a Crawford DP03 Daytona Prototype. Daytona Beach News Journal


CART CSI: Miami repeat  CSI:Miami is going to show the CART-based "Grand Prix" episode again tonight (Monday).   (CBS, 10:00 PM EST).


Latest F1 News in Brief  

Will He Or Won't He: The Jos Saga
Button Snaps Record On Low Fuel
Ferrari Keep Eye On Raikkonen
Alonso On Top As Spanish Test Ends
Schumacher To Do Consecutive Test
Renault Could Hardly Be Happier
Nico Shadows Pace In Williams Test
Honda Still Working On Problems

Ferrari To Race New Car: Schumacher
Panis Lauds 'Improved' New Toyota
Renault Sign Deal With Guru
Schu Defeat Wouldn't Have Been 'Fair'
Wirdheim In Line For Jaguar Seat
Schu: Silver Is Most 'Dangerous' Color
Mumbai To Snatch F1 From Hyderabad?
Schu Predicts 'Close' Tire War 

Jordan: Better Off Without Eddie?
Ferrari Face 'Tough Time': Trulli
McLaren Can Breathe Easy: Coulthard
Minardi Plan First Test Of Season
Heidfeld Has 'Fun' In Formula One Car
Jordan: Sponsorship To Dictate Drivers
Looking Good For 2004: BAR's Willis
Coulthard Admits Qualifying Weakness

Team USA

Clean sweep for American Kimball Down Under  UPDATE  A reader writes, Dear, I couldn't help but notice your hopes for Charlie Kimball to move into CART's ladder system . . . and as usual you are right. However, after a year in the Formula Dodge National Championship (2002) Charlie and his father chose to compete in the US Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship in 2003 rather than Barber Dodge. So he has actually been in CART's ladder system but chose to go elsewhere. His next step is unquestionably Toyota Atlantic where his FF2000 teammate Chris Festa has secured a ride with Team Rahal. I would put Charlie in the same league as Allmendinger and I believe he is only 18.  Beaux Barfield 1/25/04 - Three weeks of fluctuating emotions for the Team USA Scholarship drivers ended on a spectacular note today at Ruapuna Park Raceway as Charlie Kimball and Ryan Millen finished first and second in the final 18-lap race. The result ensured a clean sweep of all three races this weekend for Kimball and was enough to clinch the Talley's International Formula Ford Challenge Series crown. Kimball also established a new Formula Ford lap record almost a full second inside the previous mark. More....


Surfers promoter files objection to IRL bid  In a counter to the Long Beach promoter objections to the OWRS bid, in this court filing by the Surfers race promoter Gold Coast Motor Events Company object to the IRL bid for CART assets on the following grounds:

  1. The OWRS' bid is offering to continue the entire CART series, whereas the IRL's bid is just to buy certain assets.  Imagine the loss of jobs

  2. The OWRS' bid will assume all existing contracts

  3. IRL's bid will assume only one contract, leaving all of the other contracts liable to claim contract damages, in Gold Coast's case $13 million for this one race alone.

  4. Gold Coast believes that the judge should take into account the economical damages to the local communities if the IRL's bid is approved and the CART season cancelled.  Queensland has estimated that the loss to its local economy will be $35 million per year.  Multiply that times 16 to 17 other venues and you are looking at some major losses.

  5. All other parties will claim contract damages, which will raise the level of unsecured claims exponentially from $6.3 million to as much as $63.0 million (actually, we have been told it's over $70 million).

Editor's Note:  By killing the CART series (which his bid does by taking the CART engines) Tony George will be causing losses of hundreds of millions of dollars to many people and businesses.  We suspect this will weigh heavily on the judge's decision.  We suspect Tony George and his lawyers will get the same reaction from the judge on his bid that 88 Corp got with their claims - he slammed his gavel and walked away before they could finish talking.


Tony George ready to bid up the price for CART  UPDATE  A reader responds to the Tony George letter - In response to TG's statement that "based on the heritage of the Indianapolis 500" I must state yes it "HAD" heritage but with his guidance open wheel Indy 500 has become a 2nd to NASCAR 400 there. TG states "From a modest beginning, the League is now regarded by impartial observers as the premier American open-wheel series." I don't know what planet he lives on but just look at the TV ratings and in person attendance, free giveaway tickets and MUST buy IRL with NASCAR tickets. Bribes, bribes and more bribes to try and fill the stands and it's still not working. "Backed by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and a wide array of sponsors, teams, drivers and fans, is the sanctioning body best positioned to offer leadership in open-wheel racing." Most have been taken from the CART series and yet CART is still ahead of the IRL. Yes he cherry-picked some but you can not take those with the heart and souls of the "LOYAL" CART owners, drivers and fans. OWRS founders have the BEST interest to keep TRUE open wheel going and with the best drivers in the world. Best of Luck and I'm 100% behind you Paul, Gerry and Kevin and ALL those supporting OWRS. Just my opinion. Joe Steber, Albrightsville, PA  1/25/04 - This Indy Star article says, Indy Racing League president Tony George said Saturday that his $3.3 million bid for control of open-wheel racing likely won't be his final offer.  "The auction is Wednesday," he said, referring to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing.

In his first interview since deciding to bid for selected assets of his chief rival, the bankrupt Championship Auto Racing Teams series, George emphasized that he is willing to do what it takes to unify the divided sport.  If that means increasing his bid significantly at the court hearing in Indianapolis, so be it.  The hearing is set to begin at 9:30 a.m.

Last week, Gentilozzi argued that the resolve of the OWRS founders is at least as great as George's, if not more so.  "We are all successful businessmen and all you have to do is look at our business plan going forward to know we mean business here," he said.

Gentilozzi agreed that Wednesday's hearing will eventually become an auction in the truest sense. That means OWRS' bid of $1.6 million isn't its final offer. Gentilozzi predicted the bidding won't get serious until it reaches $14 million.  "It's an auction and you better be there to bid," he said. "It's not a one-time deal. The judge's job is to get the most money for the creditors.  "It'll be over Wednesday unless the bidding goes into the night."

George declined to discuss the IRL's bidding plan, but he said the exchanges will be worth watching.  "I expect it will be interesting and maybe even intense," he said. "I hope it doesn't get to a frenzied level, but it might.  But it should be well attended."

George said he isn't concerned about how he is being perceived by the fans of the sport because he knows time will separate the winners from the losers. He and Gentilozzi both said they had alternative plans if the judge rules against them.  "We're not going to convince everybody that we have the best intentions for open-wheel racing at heart," George said. "There will always be those (fans) who won't be dragged along without kicking and screaming.  "But our actions will speak for themselves, and in two or three years that will be obvious to any reasonable person." [Editor's Note: Tony George has now gone on record that he doesn't care what the CART fans think about him as he attempts to kill their series.  He wants to win at all costs, hell with the customer.   And you wonder why Toyota thinks NASCAR is the future?]


Kravitz: Open Wheel needs win by IRL  UPDATE  Readers respond to this article, I just wanted to respond to the "Kravitz: Open Wheel Needs Win By IRL" article. I wonder how much Tony George paid them to put that article in the paper. If he really is an open wheel fan or writer he would have seen what the fans really like to see. The fans were behind CART all year. Even though there was a lot of negative publicity put out by the IRL on Cart, the fans showed especially this year who they are behind. CART outdrew the IRL by having twice and sometimes three times as many fans at their races. The writers think they know what's best without even looking at the numbers or maybe they just don't want to believe what the numbers say. I have been a loyal fan to CART since day 1. I'll be honest, I don't dislike the IRL, yet. I will never forgive them if the Judge rules in their favor. I can also tell you this much. Not because I'm a cart fan but a racing fan. If the IRL does race in Long Beach it will be a flop. It will NEVER!!! outdraw a CART race there. Rod De Almeida, Orlando Another writes, Just thought I'd share with you what I've just written Bob Kravitz in response to his column: I can't believe what you've written!!! Tony wants to unite the series? - he is responsible for the division in the first place!    Every single reason he gave for the split - to "protect the integrity of oval track racing" (whatever that means), the 25-8 configuration for the Indy 500, too many foreign drivers, too many 'big money" people involved, to name a few - every single reason has fallen by the wayside. I've thought all along, and it has now been confirmed, that it was never about any of that - it was only about gaining control. The only real difference between what the IRL might become, should the judge rule in its favor, and the way things were before 1995, is that Tony - really, the people who are behind him - would now be in control. So everything he said at the IRL's inception was an outright lie. Meanwhile, NASCAR has wildly gained in popularity, the Indy 500 is a mere shadow of what it once was, overall attendance is down in open-wheel racing (and what there is at IRL races is often artificially propped up), TV ratings are down, etc. Tony asked for the IRL - I say let him have it! - let him keep trying to make it the dream he once laid out - let him show some of that integrity he first spoke of and stick to his original concept, keep pouring his money into it, and see if he can make a go of it. And let Champ Car racing be what it is. If Tony (& his minions) succeed Wednesday, he's certainly no hero for bringing it back together - he's just another power-playing, opportunistic, untrustworthy liar. Elaine Cleveland  1/25/04 - This Indy Star IRL propaganda piece says, This is open-wheel racing's greatest chance yet to save itself, to prop itself up, to put itself in a position to compete -- or begin to compete -- with NASCAR.

As things now stand, open-wheel racing is boxing on methane. Unless you're a hard-core fan who counts either Tony George or Chris Pook as the Antichrist, all this CART and IRL nonsense might as well be like boxing's alphabet-soup conglomeration of ruling commissions.

The sport needs all of its best drivers, owners, promoters and, most of all, thinkers, under one tent, all working toward the same goal: reviving open-wheel racing. Because as long as this remains a house divided, it's going to spin its wheels, and, worse yet, suck NASCAR's fumes.

In the great IRL-CART war, it's pretty clear -- and it's been clear for some time -- that the IRL has won.  But open-wheel racing has lost. Just come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on a practice day in May. There are plenty of good sections still available. So much money and energy has been put into this inane Hatfield-and-McCoy rivalry, and yet the real enemy is down the road, driving those reconstituted taxicabs and promoting personalities like it was professional wrestling.

This should not be viewed as the demise of CART.  It should be viewed as a chance to revive open-wheel racing.  At least as long as the IRL prevails this week when a judge auctions off what's left of the old circuit.

Nobody questions that the Open Wheel Racing Series folks have good intentions, and it's clear they are passionate about maintaining what's left of the old CART crew while sticking it to George. If they prevail this week and put on a 2004 season, the more power to them.

But it's ultimately bad for the sport.  What good does it do open-wheel racing if there continues to be a rival league, especially one starting the race seven laps behind? Can't anybody in that sport see the big picture? Or is everybody simply too blinded by the hatred they have for George and his organization?

One of the great criticisms of the IRL has been its love of ovals. Well, now the IRL is planning to add road and street courses. The IRL is taking on some of the best characteristics of CART. What's the distinction?

As usual, George is taking a beating for all of this because, well, that's what George does. For the 15 percent of Americans who care about open-wheel racing, he's the most polarizing figure in the sport.  The knock now is that George is bidding on CART's assets with the idea of killing off the rival series and picking its bones clean. Well . . . duhhhhh.

What's he supposed to do? Let OWRS grab the assets so they can try to compete with his IRL? Did the NFL bankroll the USFL so the rival league could stay alive? How about the NBA and ABA? The NHL and WHA? Some of us only passed Indiana University's Kelley School of Business on the way to Nick's, but it seems to me, if you have a chance to bury your competitor and make yourself stronger, that's what you do.

Here's the best thing that can happen for open-wheel racing this week:  The IRL gets what's left of CART. The OWRS group ends up a footnote in the history of the great IRL-CART war. And open-wheel racing starts all over again, fresh, stronger and presumably smarter, everybody under the same giant roof.


***Reader Feedback***Recent articles excellent  A reader writes, Dear, I just read your two most recent articles and they both hit a bull's-eye on this OWRS/IRL battle for CART.  The first by Steven Levinson, CART/IRL Armageddon, 2004 does an excellent job of recapping the evil forces that OWRS is up against in taking control of CART.  The second, by Jim Allen, Open Wheel Racing needs a win by OWRS - Part 1 hits the proverbial nail right on the head.  CART fans despise everything about the IRL and will never, and I mean never, support Anton George and his IRL series.  I know at least 50, maybe 60 CART fans, and every one of them, to a man (or women) refuse to have anything to do with the man and the series that ruined the sport of Open Wheel Racing in this country. I can't wait for Part 2. Thanks for the articles, is the best motorsports publication in the world.  It's the only one that isn't afraid to expose the lies and tell the truth.  Robert Jeffers, Dallas, Texas


CART files Form 8-K amendment   CART recently filed this Form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Section 2.04 is amended to read as follows: SECTION 2.04. Assumption of Liabilities. Sub agrees to assume as of the Closing only the following liabilities (the "Assumed Liabilities"): The obligations of performance of the Sellers under the Assumed Contracts arising on and after the Closing Date; except for the Assumed Liabilities, Sub shall not assume and shall not be liable for any of the debts, obligations, responsibilities, undertakings or liabilities, whether matured or unmatured, fixed or contingent, secured or unsecured, accrued, absolute or other of any Seller and all such liabilities will remain the responsibility of the Sellers and shall be retained, paid performed and discharged by the Sellers. Notwithstanding the foregoing if and to the extent Sub and/or Parent or any Affiliate of either of them acquires any claim or otherwise satisfies any claim that might be asserted against CART, Championship or as a "claim" (as defined in 11 U.S.C. Section 101(5)) in the Chapter 11 Case (any of which is an "Acquired Claim"), then Sub and Parent agree that any such Claim shall be released and shall not be asserted against Championship, CART or in the Chapter 11 Case.

2. Section 2.05(a)is amended to read as follows:
SECTION 2.05. Consideration. (a) At the Closing, as consideration for the sale, conveyance, transfer and assignment of the Acquired Assets, the Sub will deliver, and Parent will cause to be delivered, by wire transfer of immediately available funds to an account specified by CART an amount in cash equal to $1,630,000 (the "Purchase Price").
3. A new section 3.13 shall be added that reads as follows: "Attached as Schedule 3.13 is a true and accurate listing of the amounts of unpaid (after lawful and appropriate setoff) year-end prize money payable by CART to teams participating in CART's racing series for the 2003 series (other than teams controlled by Affiliates of Parent)."
Payouts Total
Newman/Haas Racing $ 700,000.00
Team Rahal, Inc. 300,000.00
Herdez Competition 140,000.00
Fernandez Racing 120,000.00
Walker Racing 110,000.00
GRAND TOTAL $ 1,370,000.00


Jordan leaves door open on drivers   Everyone is wondering who Eddie Jordan will choose as his two drivers for 2004.  Eddie Jordan confirmed recently….“Of course it's possible Ralph Firman might drive for us again,” he said. “We tested Nick Heidfeld and he went well and is a possibility. Maybe Mark Gene, he was strong in the Williams last year. I have always been an admirer of Allan McNish and both he and Alex Wurz could fit the bill."  Jos Verstappen is also out there, waiting in limbo with some big money.  With just six weeks left until the start of the new season and ten days until they launch their new contender, the EJ14 at the Silverstone circuit in England, one has to assume that we should know who the drivers will be soon.


CART bankruptcy leaves several motors idling  This  St. Petersburg Times article says, Tim Ramsberger met with representatives of a ticket distribution service Friday, hashing out details for an open-wheel race through downtown streets May 16.

It could be Champ Cars contesting the second Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Or Indy Racing League cars. Or no cars, and no race. The worst part is there is nothing the race general manager can do except hope he has something for which to sell tickets.

Ramsberger's plight is not unique. As the bones of Championship Auto Racing Teams are picked clean in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Jan. 28 in Indianapolis, municipalities, promoters and the prospective buyers of Open Wheel Racing Series are waiting for Judge Frank Otte's decision on where those assets go.

"You have to wonder what happens if there is no race and no one wants it here in the foreseeable future," Ramsberger said. "We're working under that cloud."

This was once a simple transition in which Open Wheel - made up of CART team owners Gerald Forsythe, Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi - proposed to buy the vestiges of CART for roughly $1.6-million in bankruptcy court and race as Champ Car World Series. A day before Friday's deadline for bids, the rival Indy Racing League confirmed a week of speculation by opting to bid on some of CART's assets. Gentilozzi told the Indianapolis Star in Friday's editions that his group would increase its bid. He said creditor issues could push the winning bid for all of CART's assets beyond $14-million if Open Wheel is not chosen. Otte has no obligation to accept the highest bid, but he must find for the greater interest of creditors.

"I think we remain optimistic that Open Wheel will be the eventual successor to CART," Ramsberger said.  While Open Wheel's owners call IRL's move a deplorable attempt to kill their series, the IRL deemed it strictly business, a move to unite the open-wheel series.

Confidentiality agreements cloak who bid on what. International Speedway Corporation spokesman David Talley said his parent company and its subsidiaries, Grand American Road Racing Association and 88 Corp, did not bid. ISC owns several tracks, including Daytona International Speedway, while 88 Corp owns California Speedway, which is suing CART for a $2.5-million sanctioning fee lost when its race was canceled because of California wildfires.

Among the assets up for bid are sanctioning rights for races that would make up Open Wheel's possible 15-17 race schedule. The IRL could kill off Open Wheel by picking off more valuable races, particularly the Grand Prix of Long Beach, which is scheduled to start the Open Wheel season April 18 and is promoted by Dover Motorsports.

"Absolutely, the sanctioning agreements are one of the valued assets in the estate," said Jerry Miraglia, executive vice president of race promoter Dover Motorsports. "The judge could make a decision to sell all the sanctioning agreements to a single buyer, or they could be sold individually."

Despite confidentiality agreements, an Open Wheel release on Friday strongly suggested the IRL had bid on the Long Beach contract and CART engines.

Dover Motorsports also promotes IRL races at its Nashville speedway. Miraglia said Dover has discussed a possible Long Beach switch to the IRL but nothing "confidential or inappropriate."

IRL's interest in CART races could go beyond destroying a competitor. The league has expressed a desire to add street courses by 2005, and Long Beach is one of the most important. CART races in Monterrey, Mexico, Mexico City, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal also are popular and well-attended.

As a second-year race, and with an IRL event established at Homestead-Miami Speedway (on Feb. 29), St. Petersburg may not be what the IRL seeks. Or it could be a less-expensive alternative, this year or next.

Manufacturers Dallara Automobili and Panoz G Force have been told to have new chassis capable of making right and left turns ready for 2005, but Dallara U.S. technical liaison Sam Garrett said "given enough time, pressure and money, we could make something happen" for 2004.

"The IRL has told us it's very unlikely to go road racing in 2004 but almost certain to in 2005," he said. "We're sitting on the edge of our seats to see what will happen. Things change so much so fast it's hard to say what is an absolute."


Budweiser Shootout history   No driver knew how to win at Daytona International Speedway quite like Dale Earnhardt, so it should come as no surprise that "The Intimidator" won more Budweiser Shootouts than any other driver. In fact, it's not even close.  The Budweiser Shootout (formerly named the Busch Clash from 1979-97 and the Bud Shootout from 1998-2000) pits Bud Pole winners from the previous year and former Shootout champions against each other in a 70-lap all-star race. Earnhardt won the race six times (1980, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995). The only other drivers that can boast multiple wins are Dale Jarrett, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Ken Schrader, and Neil Bonnett, each with two victories apiece.   More....


Tagliani joins celebrity hockey game in Montreal  Rocketsports Champ Car driver Alex Tagliani (Photos right by Westin Resort Tremblant) will join the Réseau des Sports (RDS) celebrity hockey team for a friendly game of “hockey bottine” at the Fête de Neige (Festival of Snow) on Sunday, Jan. 25 at Place des Nations at Jean-Drapeau Park in Montréal. This is the first of three consecutive weekends for the winter festival, which is free to the public. The celebrity game will start at 11:45 a.m. just prior to the Montreal Canadians first public outdoor practice. Hockey bottine is played with a puck and boots, specifically designed to grip the ice.

Tagliani will be playing alongside RDS network personalities; Norman Flynn, Carlo Blanchard, Claudine Douville, Micher Fervac-Larose, Renaud Lavoie, Rodger Brulotte and Martin Gauthier. The lineup also includes France St-Louis from the Canadian Women’s Hockey team who won the gold medal in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, auto-racing commentator Bertrand Godin, Seattle Seahawks Center Jean-Philippe Darche, and from the hit TV series Lance et Compte; Éric Hoziel, Carl Marotte, Louis-Philippe Dandenault and Alexandre Dandeneault. The celebrity team will also feature comedians and former Montreal Canadians hockey players.


En route back home to Montreal, Tagliani, and wife Bronte, made a stop at the Rocketsports Racing shop to complete a custom seat for the No. 33 Johnson Controls Lola. The couple spent the past week at Mont Tremblant, snowboarding and enjoying the Quebec winter. (Photo right courtesy of Rocketsports)


Tony George letter explaining why they bid on CART  This letter from Tony George explains to IRL teams and fans the motives behind his bid for certain CART assets.  Although he doesn't say it directly, he admits the real motivation behind the bid is to kill off CART once and for all so he can have complete control of open wheel racing in the USA, he calls it a unified series (psst, quick someone tell him a unified series is when two sides merge, not when one side kills off the other).  Why is he bidding to buy all the CART engines?  It's certainly not because he plans to use them in his IRL cars.  No, it is to prevent the Champ Car series from racing in 2004.


Why ISC/Grand-Am didn't bid on CART  Some may wonder why 88 Corp/ISC nor its sister company, Grand-Am, did not bid on CART's assets as was rumored.  You should know that Judge Otte now understands Tony George's, ISC's and the rest of the oval track cartel's motive - to put CART out of business, and he's having none of it.  At the last hearing the Judge pressured the 88 Corp. lawyers as to what their real motives were and they finally admitted it was to put CART out of business.  This so infuriated Otte that he slammed his gavel and walked away before the 88 Corp lawyers could finish what they were saying.  He has no patience for what the Oval Track Cartel is up to and we are sure he is going to view the IRL's bid to buy the CART engines, thereby, preventing them from having a series in 2004, as another attempt to undermine CART and OWRS.  As Paul Gentilozzi put it, the IRL is entering the race with one lap to go and they are already a lap down.  Knowing that Otte has seen right through their hidden motives, ISC/88 Corp /Grand-Am probably felt it best they not bother bidding.


OWRS Subpoenas Tony George, IRL objects  This court document filed by the IRL explains that OWRS subpoenaed Tony George to provide a deposition on Monday January 26th and the IRL objected on various grounds.  Their main objection was not enough advance notice was given.  It's apparent that OWRS wants to get more information from Tony George as to what his plan is for the bid the IRL submitted.  On the surface it appears non-responsive.


Security tight for Bahrain GP   A state-of-the art security headquarters has been set up at the Bahrain Formula One Circuit, it was revealed yesterday. The HQ houses the latest telecommunications equipment in an attempt to ensure the security and safety of the spectators, said Cabinet Affairs Minister Mohammed Al Mutawa. He was replying to a question raised by MP Mohammed Al Dosary about ongoing F1 preparations.  Two airfields had been constructed to accommodate Formula One passengers, with special helicopters flying them directly from Bahrain International Airport to the site of the race.  Special lanes would be arranged to transport VIP delegations, Mr. Al Mutawa revealed.

Industry News

Toyota bumps Ford out of #2  Toyota has most likely surpassed Ford as the world's No. 2 automaker behind General Motors, a change that reflects the steady erosion of U.S. companies' dominance of the industry. Preliminary figures released by Toyota Motor Corp. on Friday showed worldwide sales for 2003 reached 6.78 million vehicles, up 9.9 percent from 6.17 million the previous year. On Thursday, Ford Motor Co. said its 2003 sales slipped to 6.72 million vehicles, down 3.6 percent from 6.97 million. General Motors Corp. and Ford were the front-runners for decades, virtually since mass production of cars began. GM maintained its hold as the largest automaker by selling 8.6 million vehicles in 2003.

Team USA

American Kimball wins down under   [Editor's Note:  One would hope this guy makes it into CART's ladder system this year]  Charlie Kimball stormed to a magnificent victory this evening in the first of three Talley's International Formula Ford Challenge Series races at Ruapuna Park Raceway. Kimball, who qualified fourth, took the lead from polesitter Tim Edgell in opportunistic style midway through the 10-lap race (which started a little after 7 p.m. in gloriously sunny conditions) and quickly asserted his superiority before taking the checkered flag 1.608 seconds ahead of his rival. Team USA Scholarship teammate Ryan Millen posted a similarly strong charge to finish the race tucked underneath Edgell's gearbox in third place. More....


Schumacher wary of Kimi   Kimi Raikkonen finished runner-up to Michael Schumacher in last year’s campaign, although the McLaren driver did manage to take the fight to the wire.  Speaking at Barcelona where he was testing on Thursday and Friday, Schumacher was asked by Autosport if the pace shown by the new Williams FW26 in testing worried him. He responded by saying: "The dangerous one is not here. He's testing somewhere else."  That ‘dangerous one’ can only be Raikkonen who spent the week testing in private for McLaren at Valencia.


IRL doubles OWRS bid  This Indy Star article says, The Indy Racing League offered $3.3 million for selected assets of bankrupt rival Championship Auto Racing Teams, according to several sources with knowledge of the bid.

The offer was double the amount offered by the Open Wheel Racing Series group last month, the only other bidder to emerge before Friday's deadline.

Judge Frank J. Otte is scheduled to choose between the offers Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis. The hearing is set for 9:30 a.m.

IRL spokesman Fred Nation said the assets on which league president Tony George bid were similar to those bid on by OWRS. The difference was the IRL is seeking only one of CART's races, the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the most successful event in series history. Nation said the IRL is confident it can acquire some of CART's other races on its own.

"The hard items we bid on were the same (as OWRS) to make it easier for the judge to compare apples and apples," Nation said.

No other bids were received by Friday morning's deadline. The Grand American Road Racing Series had considered a bid, but its officials opted to pass.

OWRS co-owner Paul Gentilozzi said the primary items in the IRL's bid are the Long Beach race and the Ford engines used by the Champ-Car racing series.

The latter is significant because the IRL has contracts with engine manufacturers Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet and Cosworth, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford. If the IRL prevails, Champ-Car racing wouldn't have engines in place in time to stage the 2004 season.

Long Beach officials were one of three creditors to officially file an objection with the bankruptcy court Friday. The others were 88 Corp., a company owned by the International Speedway Corp., and the promoter of CART's race in Australia.

Both the IRL and OWRS will have the opportunity to revise their bids before Wednesday's hearing.

"It's clear what (the IRL's) intentions are when you look at which assets they want to purchase," Gentilozzi said. "They just want to kill the series by taking the engines and cherry-pick Long Beach.

"If you can do that and take away your competition, I guess you try to do that. But it won't work."

George declined to comment Friday, but he faxed a statement to IRL teams, sponsors and promoters to highlight his reasons for pursuing key assets of CART, which last month filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

"If we are successful with our bid, our intention is to work quickly and effectively to create a unified, market-driven North American open-wheel series," he wrote. "We believe there is a window of opportunity right now to accomplish this."

The IRL's offer seemed low, according to one of Gentilozzi's partners, Kevin Kalkhoven.

"Not so much the dollar amount, but because the offer doesn't take into account any of the liabilities, which will run in the tens of millions of dollars (if the series doesn't continue)," Kalkhoven said. "Those are critical concerns, so it doesn't matter how much money you put up if it all disappears in liabilities."

The IRL's bid will be reviewed by members of CART's creditors' committee. Walker, a race team owner and member of the committee, said it will meet this weekend to discuss the two bids. He said the judge will have the option to make his own selection.

"Either way, I'm personally disappointed by what's happened," said Walker, who was one of CART's board of directors when the company lost $78 million through the first three quarters of 2003. "This (auction) doesn't really help anybody in the long run.  I guess the judge is going to decide if we're going to have one series or two series."  Otte declined comment through a representative Friday.


China auto demand to reach 20 million   China's demand for automobiles in 2020 is expected to reach 20.74 million units per year, including 20.43 million sedans, and the total number of cars in China by then will top 156 million, reported Tuesday's China Automobile News.   The paper quoted the Development Research Center (DRC) of the State Council, China's cabinet, as saying that the forecast was given on the basis of an eight percent GDP growth rate.   China will keep a sustainable, steady and rapid growth of sedan demand within the next 20 years or even longer, and household cars will become the most important pulling force for China's sedan sector and the mainstay of China's auto industry, the DRC predicted.


Dowe joins Workman  Jason Workman did more than just receive the endorsement of veteran motorsport engineer and team manager, Tony Dowe. His performance and abilities led the highly regarded Dowe to join Workman’s team effort and use his expertise to help guide and refine the young driver’s career reach the upper plateaus of professional motorsport.

"I worked with Jason in last year’s LMP675 campaign," said Dowe. "He showed me great potential as a driver. He raced in Europe and learned their style of competition and has blended that perfectly with his American experience. He is a very aggressive driver yet easy on equipment.  He has the best combination of talents to take him to the highest levels of motorsport. I can help him refine his talents, help engineer the equipment and bring him to the attention of the sport. The final step to the top will be all his. I am confident that this young American driver has what it takes to race competitively in any series."

Over the years, Tony Dowe has seen numerous drivers at the highest levels of professional motorsport. His experience encompasses extensive work history both in the United States and Europe. He has served as the Director of Arrows Grand Prix and Ligier Formula One teams in the World Championship F1 Series as well as Managing Director of both the TWR Jaguar and Panoz Motorsports programs here in the United States.

Workman is reviewing several options for 2004. He looks forward to working with Dowe again this coming season. "Having Tony Dowe on my team is the most significant addition of my career. His input and expertise simply adds the dimension needed to compete effectively. His expertise last year was a major reason why we were able to take a less than competitive engine/car package and campaign it effectively all season. With his help, we were able to stay in the hunt to win the LMP675 championship -- all the way to the final race of the season. It was an extraordinary effort and I’m extremely happy to have his talents on my side again for 2004."


Hand joins BMW Team PTG for 2004  Following three years competing in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, one of America’s most talented open-wheel drivers is making the move to full bodied racing machines in 2004. Joey Hand will join BMW Team PTG in its inaugural season competing in the Rolex Sports Car Series of the Grand American Road Racing Association.

BMW Team PTG, which is based in Winchester, Va., will start its season on the high banks of the Daytona International Speedway at the famous Rolex 24 at Daytona in February. Hand will join an already talented crop of drivers including Bill Auberlen, Boris Said, and Justin Marks. Stated PTG team owner Tom Milner, "Everybody at PTG is excited to have Joey Hand on board to partner with Justin Marks in 2004. We believe they will be a top contender and are going to make Bill & Boris work for it. The Daytona Test turned out very well and Joey, very quickly, got a handle on a car that he was not familiar with."

"I am looking forward to the opportunity that BMW and PTG Motorsports have given me,” said Hand, 24, who originally hails from Sacramento, Ca. “I'm very excited to be a part of a team like BMW. It will be a whole new challenge for me that I look forward to. It will be a lot different from my days in Atlantic, as the races are much longer with pit stops and driver changes involved. I think that BMW and PTG have put together a great lineup of drivers with Bill Auberlen, Boris Said, Justin Marks and myself. We should be a tough combination to beat. I am very thankful to Tom Milner and his team for believing in me and my abilities. I plan to do my best for this team by winning races and championships. The Grand-Am series looks great. There are a lot of cars entered and should make for some great races."

Hand competed three seasons in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship driving for DSTP Motorsports, which was based in Chesterland, Ohio, not far from Hand’s current residence of Concord Township, Ohio. When DSTP ceased operations at the conclusion of the 2003 season, it brought an end to Hand’s Atlantic stint.

Hand earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2001 along with third place in the overall Championship that same season. Hand entered 2002 as one of the favorites to win the Championship, but that season was drastically sidetracked after a testing accident at the Milwaukee Mile put Hand out of action for five races. The final year in Atlantic for Hand produced a strange season of bad luck, which signaled Hand that it was time for a change.

“I will miss the people, the racing, and the race tracks,” said Hand. “It is a great series, and it has been good to me. Some of the greatest races in my career, such as Cleveland and Monterrey, Mexico in the rain, will forever be great memories. I am also very thankful to Dede Rogers who gave me the opportunity for the past three years driving her yellow and purple DSTP machines. She is one of the most well-known owners in this country and one of the most outstanding people you will ever meet. I am proud to say that I drove for her and DSTP Motorsports."

Hand has already been busy testing with the team in Daytona and is excited about the new opportunity that has been laid in front of him. The change of series and teams might be just what the doctor ordered for Hand to return to the type of success he has been accustomed too.

Industry News

Wind Tunnel is back   Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain is back for a new season and SPEED is kicking things off with John Force as the first guest of 2004. Force is one of the most popular, outspoken and energetic personalities in all of motor sports, and he'll be on-board for Wind Tunnel's return to the airways on Monday Jan. 26th.   The 12-time NHRA Funny Car champ is coming off another championship season - this time as a car owner for teammate Tony Pedregon. Pedregon's title marked the 11th consecutive year that Force Racing had taken the Funny Car honors. Now, Pedregon has left the team to form his own, setting up a dramatic story line for the new season. Will Force wrestle the title away from his former protégé? Will Pedregon beat his former boss and break the Force Racing stranglehold? Will Pedregon's replacement, rookie driver Eric Medlen, step up and become a contender?


OWRS responds to late IRL bid  The Indy Racing League’s (“IRL”) submission of a bid for selected assets of Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (“CART”) has only reinforced the Open Wheel Racing Series, LLC (“OWRS”) commitment to preserve the future of open-wheel racing through the continuation of the Champ Car World Series.

Any competing bid had to be submitted no later than 9:30 a.m. today. On Jan. 28, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Otte will render a final decision on the disposition of the CART assets.

“We stand by what we’ve said previously,” said OWRS partner Paul Gentilozzi. “We will do whatever it takes to save the Champ Car series and ensure its success into the future. Last-minute posturing and provocation by (Tony) George and his organization only serve to strengthen our commitment and dedication to do what’s right for motorsports. To coin a phase, ‘failure is not an option.’

“We have teams representing more than 18 cars, a creative television package, and a great race schedule all ready to go,” continued Gentilozzi. “Our plan calls for a win-win situation for the teams, creditors, sponsors, promoters, and the fans – a fact that will not go unnoticed in the courtroom next week.

“It’s clear what the IRL’s intentions are when you look at which assets they want to purchase,” said Gentilozzi referring to the Long Beach contract and the CART engines, among other equipment. “They want to kill the series, yet they hide that fact under the pretext of ‘unification.’ They’re not fooling anyone.”

OWRS partner Kevin Kalkhoven explained, “The IRL bid specifically excludes the teams and their employees. Furthermore, it excludes the other races and promoters which reached more than 2 million fans. Their bid does not take into account the tens of millions of dollars of future liabilities that would be accepted by OWRS. We intend to preserve the teams and sponsors.

“No amount of posturing by the IRL will determine the ultimate fate of the Champ Car series. The issue will be decided in a court of law, based on the facts presented,” concluded Kalkhoven.


British bring variety to Sebring  Variety in race cars has always been enjoyed by enthusiastic fans of sports car racing and several British racing teams are contributing to the variety that will be on display during the 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the opening race of the 2004 American Le Mans Series season Mar. 17-20.

Entries for America's oldest sports car race have been submitted by Rollcentre Racing and the Morgan works race team, both planning to race at Sebring with cars that are unique to their racing teams.

Rollcentre Racing, owned by veteran British sports car racer Martin Short, has entered a Dallara chassis with Judd power in the LMP1 class, the top Prototype class in the American Le Mans Series. The car was developed as a joint effort between Italian chassis builder Dallara and the French ORECA race team and performed well in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It is one of the few built and is expected to be the only one of its kind racing at Sebring.

Short will co-drive at Sebring with fellow countryman Rob Barff and Portugal's Joao Barbosa.

Certainly one of the most unique-looking cars at Sebring will be the Morgan Aero 8 LMGT, entered as a factory effort in the event by the Morgan Motor Company of England. Morgan recently started an American marketing program by unveiling a road-going Aero 8 at the Los Angeles Auto Show and racing at Sebring is an extension of the program. If the car qualifies for Sebring, it will become the first Morgan to compete in an American Le Mans Series race.

Slated to drive the Morgan, which will compete in the GT class, are British pilots Keith Ahlers and Adam Sharpe along with Neil Cunningham of New Zealand.

The American Le Mans Series features four classes of race cars competing at the same time for both class wins and the overall race win. Up to 60 cars will start the 12-hour timed event on the 3.7-mile Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway.

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


Williams BMW testing summary   The BMW WilliamsF1 Team concluded their five day test at Barcelona today having covered over 4,000 kilometers and topped the timesheets on three days. Both Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya were on hand to perform testing duties, as well as the team's official test driver, Marc Gené. German driver, Nico Rosberg, also joined the team for two of the days to assist with the extensive schedule.

Over the test the team combined mechanical and aero development work of the FW26 with tire compound evaluations for Michelin, further progressing the understanding and development of the new car in preparation for its race debut in Melbourne on March 7th.

Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer, WilliamsF1): This week we ran two FW26 cars for the first time, with all the running performed in race conditions in order to test a number of different set-ups on each car, as well as to check sensitivity to tire degradation on longer runs. A number of minor transmission problems were encountered which we expect to overcome prior to the next test. Nico Rosberg assisted on two days of the test and performed very well in the 2003 specification FW25, as his lap times demonstrate.

Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): Following our productive test in Jerez last week, we also managed to work through to a heavy program at this week's test in Barcelona. For the first time, two FW26s were running with the new BMW P84 engine. Obviously the focus of the test was on set-up work with the new chassis, but we also completed another race simulation and were able to record an extensive amount of data for the engine set-up.

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team will travel to Valencia next week for a three day test commencing on Tuesday 27th February.


Martin to run Oscar Mayer car   For the third year in a row Roush Racing's Mark Martin will run a special Kraft Foods paint scheme in the Budweiser Shootout. Martin will make a record 16th straight start in the all-star event. For the second straight year, the Shootout is slated as a night race and will be run on the evening of Feb. 7, 2003. "The shootout is always a fun event," said Martin. "We'll be driving the Oscar Mayer/Team Kraft car again this year and it's always fun for the fans to run different paint schemes and stuff. "As for the race you just never know in the Shootout. Basically you go out and look to win an event like the Shootout. Last year we gambled a bit to get up front and in the end it didn't pay off. But the bottom line is that second place is no better than 17 or 18 in the Shootout, so it's not uncommon to see teams go for it all. This year we are going to go out and try and win it again like we did in '99. Hopefully we can have those type of results. You just never know in that race."


No other bids received has been told that no other bids were received for CART today by the 9:30 AM deadline.  It looks to be a showdown between Tony George and OWRS next Wednesday in court.


Alonso fastest on Friday   Fernando Alonso emerged with the fastest time on the final day of this week's test at Barcelona today (Friday), outpacing the Ferrari duo of Luca Badoer and Michael Schumacher. The Spaniard set a fastest time of 1m15.433s driving the new Renault R24, and managed to complete 74 laps in the new machine.
Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Fernando Alonso Renault M 1m15.433s 74*
2 Luca Badoer Ferrari B 1m16.016s 87
3 Michael Schumacher Ferrari B 1m16.182s 99
4 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m16.190s 74*
5 Juan-Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW M 1m16.300s 60*
6 Nico Rosberg Williams-BMW M 1m16.486s 81
7 Franck Montagny Renault M 1m16.539s 84
8 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m16.816s 121*
9 Nick Heidfeld Jordan-Ford B 1m16.877s 82
10 Jenson Button BAR-Honda M 1m17.041s 28
11 Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda M 1m17.079s 68
12 Giancarlo Fisichella Sauber-Petronas B 1m17.248s 77*
13 Ryan Briscoe Toyota M 1m18.147s 114


PK Racing reschedules first test  Due to a scheduling conflict, PK Racing today announced that they have pushed back by one week their first test in preparation for an assault on the 2004 Champ Car World Series title. The previously-announced test at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca on January 26-27, has been changed to Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida, on February 3-4. "We are excited to have an aggressive testing program lined up this year," remarked General Manager Russell Cameron. "We are planning to run two cars at our first test, and the Sebring dates presented us with a better opportunity to potentially evaluate an up-and-coming young driver."


Feedback on CART Spring Training venue  UPDATE Another reader writes, Dear, The real problem with Road Atlanta's turn 12 is not its width as some have suggested. Although it is downhill, it is the widest part of the track at 75 feet. There would be room for a temporary chicane which Conquest devised when they tested there last year (although I would hate to see this.) More tires in such a high speed, obtuse turn would be disastrous (the cause for so many flips as one reader pointed out.) The turn needs to be changed ala Silverstone's last turn in the early 80's. It needs to turn earlier and then make a more gradual left and right onto the original front straight. This would reduce speed earlier and take the wall out of play (which has already been moved as far back as possible.) An underlying lack of motivation on Road Atlanta's behalf is that the current modifications were put in place upon the recommendation of former CART employees and have proven ineffective. I'd love to see Champ Cars at my home track, but I believe the track would require considerable convincing to undertake yet another extremely expensive project. Regards, Beaux Barfield, CART Steward, Panoz Racing School Instructor Dear Beaux, For Spring Training one would think the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Chicane you mention would do.  More permanent changes could be made if there is ever an actual race.  1/23/04 - In reaction to our suggestion that CART hold its Spring Training at Road Atlanta this year - Dear,  I ABSOLUTELY agree that Road Atlanta would be ideal for spring training for the Champ Cars, let alone a race! It is probably, besides Road America, the best and most rewarding road course in the United States.....3 distinct passing areas, high speed straights and a high "pucker" factor that separates the good drivers from the great drivers....truly what real racing, real sport, and REAL road racing is all about. I will say though, the infamous turn 12 everyone speaks about so much, has to be one of the greatest turns in racing, on par with the "kink" at Road America except with a 65foot drop into it at probably 165mph in a Champ Car AND it's OFF CAMBER!! Yet, to disregard it with a chicane would be similar to doing the same in front of the kink at Road America, truly dishonorable...put in more tires is the only answer, because moving the walls back would cost millions at that point on the far away is the wall at the kink at Road America anyway? Derek Hughes, Florida  Dear Derek, The difference at Road Atlanta is the impact with the wall at Road Atlanta is more head-on.  Mark C.  Another writes, A chicane before the last turn at Road Atlanta? Isn’t there a long downhill right before the final turn? Are you suggesting that they put a chicane on the downhill straight? With the new pit in on one side and the old (support) pit in on the other, there isn’t much room even if one were to try to add a chicane to a downhill portion of the track. The only real option is to push back the wall or maybe bank the final turn. As it is, there is usually at least one car that ends up on its roof at that corner during any event and sometimes more. These are with cars that go considerably slower than Champ Cars. I love the track and would love to see Champ Cars racing there, but that final corner is pretty scary. A downhill that leads to a sharp right, backed by a concrete wall with very limited room for run-off and tire barriers is a terrible combination when you mix in the high speed and open-cockpit design of the Champ Car. Coniah Chuang  Dear Coniah, See figure above for suggested change.  The straight before that final turn (Turn 12) although downhill, is not long and the cars will not be at full speed approaching the turn in question. Instead of the chicane, if CART were to fill that entire sand trap up with a deep tire wall, any car going off is never going to reach that concrete wall.  The tires would need a facing material, perhaps like they used at Rio years ago.  Also, note how sharp Turn 10b is.  The cars exit there at a slow speed so their speed at Turn 12 is limited.  Mark C.


Adrian Fernández opposes IRL killing CART  Although Fernández Racing fields cars in both CART and the IRL, he lets everyone know which side of this civil war he really stands.  On the top of his website is a link to sign a petition to support OWRS' bid to takeover the CART series.


Undetectable traction control   2nd UPDATE  This article sheds more light on the fact that traction control devices can be made so small it's almost impossible to detect them.  1/19/04 - Here is Davis Technologies' website.  It looks like the TM-2000 is an entry level unit. The more expensive models are advertised "Very Small (about the size of a pocket lighter)"    1/18/04 - Found this ad on eBay.  We wonder how many of these have slipped by NASCAR inspectors?   Practically Brand New Davis Technologies TM-2000 MSD 6AL Traction Control Unit with Self-Learning Upgrade.. The Unit has only been ran in 3 Late Model races and the reason for the sale is to upgrade. Comes with owners manual and is guaranteed to make you faster and running up front or YOUR MONEY BACK. I have ran several of Davis' units and there is no doubt they do work and help you win. We won enough in 8 races to pay for 2 units! Big money races, Saturday night bullrings, worn out asphalt, are no problem with this baby. For you Dirt Racers, this unit is unbelievable....imagine 100% Throttle control and all you have to do is bury the throttle in the middle of the corner and let the Traction Control do the rest! This is a no reserve auction and the highest bidder will win. Key Features are: UNDETECTABLE, it does not affect the sound of the engine, No External Sensors unlike other units, Can Easily be moved to another car, Better Lap Times and Lower Tire Tems. Self-Learning model requires NO user configuring, this system simply plugs in to where your other MSD box was and you are ready to go. There are no extra wires coming out of the unit and it looks no different than any other MSD you have seen. This unit new costs $5400 but it will be sold at the highest bid. If you have any questions please e-mail me.


Nelson wants to get rid of restrictor plates   Gary Nelson, NASCAR's managing director of competition, says he'd like to get rid of the plates, which officials use to control speeds at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, but NASCAR has yet to find an alternative. The plates reduce engine horsepower by slowing down air as it flows into an engine. The cars end up racing in large, tight packs at Talladega and Daytona — thrilling for fans, but just short of terrifying for drivers. "I'm still trying, but we haven't found anything better," Nelson said. The plates also lead to conspiracy theories in the garage; some teams believe NASCAR officials show favoritism in handing out less-restrictive plates to their rivals. Nelson says the officials take the responsibility of making all the plates equal "very seriously."  USA Today


Grand-Am also bidding on CART   In addition to the IRL, the Indy Star is reporting that Roger Edmondson, the president of the Grand American Road Racing Series, is considering a bid for CART's assets.

George, also the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, declined to comment through his spokesman, Fred Nation.  Nation would not elaborate on his description of the bid as "substantial." But he said the offer was for only "some of the assets." Among the assets are CART's race contracts and equipment, such as a portable hospital (SPEEDTV reports the bid includes buying all the CART's engines and putting the series out of business).

Gentilozzi and partners Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven, all team owners in CART last season, last month offered $1.6 million in cash. Their group has the opportunity to revise its bid before Judge Frank J. Otte rules Wednesday. Gentilozzi said OWRS will increase its offer, although he wouldn't say by how much.

Gentilozzi predicted the winning bid for all of CART's assets and liabilities will be in excess of $14 million. He based that on the $2.6 million in prize money CART owes teams from 2003, and another $10 million that could go to creditors who might see their contracts dissolved in bankruptcy court if OWRS is not the owner.

The latter figure hasn't been confirmed by Otte, however.

"But what looked like a decent deal (to George) isn't a deal anymore," Gentilozzi said. "What he's looking for is a CART funeral, and all of a sudden it's a real expensive funeral."

All outside bids are due by 9:30 a.m. today. There might be additional bids.

Roger Edmondson, the president of the Grand American Road Racing Series, told The Star on Thursday that his group is considering a last-minute bid.

Grand Am could be a serious contender, too, because it is owned by International Speedway Corp., which also owns NASCAR.  Edmondson said Grand Am officials have signed the necessary confidentiality paperwork with CART. He declined to say if a deal would come before the deadline.  Gentilozzi fears ISC and the IRL are working together to thwart the efforts of OWRS, whose officials have vowed to continue the Champ Car series this season with a full schedule, a television package and at least 18 competitors.

"That's the 300-pound gorilla," Gentilozzi said of the IRL's established relationship with ISC (Editor's Note: it's called the oval track cartel Paul).  Edmondson said Grand Am would bid by itself, and would not try to help George's IRL, which expects to be road racing by 2005.  "I don't have a dog in that fight, and I don't want to be perceived as having one, either," Edmondson said. "We don't run in those circles, so to speak."

Gentilozzi criticized George's motives. He said OWRS wants to rebuild CART, not bury it. "His vision is clear: He wants to oval race on NASCAR's tracks with a couple of road course races thrown in to satisfy a few sponsors," Gentilozzi said of George. "That's not our vision at all. We want to make CART great again."


Tony George has one goal - to kill CART  UPDATE  A reader responds, Dear,  With this move Tony George has managed to make himself the #1 most hated man in motorsports.  Sorry, he already held that title. Even if he were to succeed, which I doubt he will, does he really think his series will gain any new fans now?  No way Jose.  The oval track cartel must be stopped and I believe they will be on the 28th.  Godspeed OWRS, and may the man above shine on you next Wednesday and put Tony The Devil George in his rightful place.  Hector Gonzalez, LA Calif.  1/23/04 - According to this article, SPEEDTV.COM has learned that George is only bidding on the Long Beach Grand Prix, CART's engine lease program and possibly some equipment.  By buying CART's engines, and nothing else (trying to buy LB is not material here), George would leave the CART series powerless and essentially shut it down and put it out of business.  If this report is true, we suspect the Judge will throw Tony George and his bid out of the courthouse.  It now becomes clear that George's motives all along have been to kill off the CART series.  Fred Nation, vice president of corporate communications for IMS/IRL and George's spokesman, claimed the bid was "substantial" but refused to give any details.  OWRS has the opportunity to increase its earlier bid of $1.6 million prior to Wednesday's hearing and Forsythe said his group has Plans "A through D" ready.  But one CART owner, who requested anonymity, cautioned that "We may not be prepared for the amount of money Tony will spend to try and kill us."


Regional plan for Bahrain GP   Radical SR3 sportscar to feature in Bahrain-based pan-Gulf Race Series London 21st January 2004, The Bahrain International Circuit, in association with the Bahrain Motor Federation announced plans today to develop a one-make regional race series to be operated by Bahrain-based Radical Sportscar distributor, GulfSport.    More....


NASCAR Mobil game   Mobil 1, the "Official Motor Oil of NASCAR(R)" and the world's most popular synthetic motor oil, is launching Mobil 1 Million -- a consumer promotion where one lucky fan can win a total of $1 million by predicting the winners of all 36 NASCAR(R) NEXTEL Cup Series races in 2004. The promotion, which splits the 2004 NASCAR(R) NEXTEL Cup Series into four quarters, with nine races in each quarter, provides consumers with a chance to win $250,000 per quarter. If a consumer correctly picks all of the winning drivers, that person could win $1 Million. Also, the top two performers in each quarter will win VIP trips-for-two to a 2005 NASCAR(R) NEXTEL Cup Series race of their choice. "I am excited to see a program that generates excitement and increases the bond between race fans and NASCAR(R)," said Ryan Newman, driver of the Alltel/Mobil 1 Penske Racing Dodge, who with eight wins in 2003, was voted Speed Channel Driver of the Year. "And, I hope a lot of the fans bring the Penske team luck this year by picking me as one of their Mobil 1 Million selections." To play, NASCAR(R) fans can obtain a game code on specially-marked quart bottles of Mobil 1 5W30, 10W30 and 15W50, at in-store displays or on the Website at After obtaining a code, participants must then register in order to play. The winners of each quarter will be announced at the conclusion of that period. Consumers may visit for additional details. The Website goes live mid-January. "Last year was the first year with Mobil 1 as "The Official Motor Oil of NASCAR(R)" and more than 70 percent of the races were won by a car lubricated with and protected by Mobil 1," said Henrik Hansen, America's marketing manager, ExxonMobil Lubricants and Specialties. "If that trend continues this year, NASCAR(R) fans will have to take a close look at which teams are running with Mobil 1 if they want a shot at the Mobil 1 Million."


First entry for 12-Hours of Sebring  Drivers Danny Sullivan (left) and John Bosch present the first official entry for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series, outside of the Automobile Club of France in Paris. Sullivan, a former winner of the Indianapolis 500, will come out of retirement to drive a factory-built Ferrari 575 GTC with Bosch at Sebring Mar. 17-20.


Latest F1 News in Brief  

Zsolt Seals Formula One Debut
Lap Records Tumble In Pre-Season Tests
Schu 'Nervous' In Pre-Season Track Return
Racy Renault R24 Is Reliable
Most Teams Agree To 'Celeb Grand Prix'
Schu Defends F1's Millions
Heidfeld Returns To Jordan Wheel
Alonso Scraps Title Threat
Kimi Hopes New Car Is Up To Challenge
Jaguar Would Be 'Delighted' With Sixth
New Ferrari Is Not Called '655'
Mosley Slams EU Over Warrants Row
New Sauber Is Not Ferrari Copy
Panis Pans New Toyota
Renault Can Live Without Me: Gascoyne


The other bids, who cares.......  A reader writes, Dear, This past couple of months have been some of the bleakest in US racing history. Now word comes of the inevitable counteroffer by Anton the Destroyer. I am dumbfounded by the hostility generated by some members of the Oval Track Cartel.   If these racers (sic) are so sure of the value of their product and mission then why do they have to kill off every other form of the sport? No, their war-like stance surely indicates a very fundamental fact....they are scared!  If they cannot beat CART/ALMS etc. on merit and truth alone then they lie, cheat and if possible destroy them. What is it about these megalomaniacs that gives them the self appointed right to deny over half of the racing world a product they so obviously want and enjoy.

Michael Andretti's comments sickened me to the core. What lies, what treachery and what downright ungratefulness for almost everything he now has in his life. He especially insults his honorable family name and the support of his many fans who have loudly stated their feelings towards the split. Hey, do what you want Mike, but don't trash the people who helped make you what you are.

So what now?  If Michael is right..and the Left turners prevail...then Anton gets a whole bunch of used equipment and cherry-picks some races (Long Beach, Cleveland, Mexico, Canada?). Meanwhile further depleting the family coffers. (Or is this one being sponsored by your friendly neighborhood Honda and Toyota dealers?)

Either what! It seems that unlike the knee-jerking Anton, OWRS has more than done its homework. Hey what would you expect from these three guys!   For sure, they must have had some very positive talks with all of the promoters who appear to be standing firmly behind the 2004 Champ Car schedule. Hats off to all those organizations....let's make sure to support them when the time comes. Of course, aside from Fontana.

What's to stop OWRS just picking up with these promoters/tracks, adding the 2 or 3 more races which I believe they could (Las Vegas, Houston, Road Atlanta?) and getting on with business? Nothing I can see.

So, while I have spent the past 3 days dreading the news of the IRL bid, on reflection I believe that Messrs. Gentilozzi, Kalkhoven and Forsythe have this situation completely under control. They would not have ignored the possibility of this attempted coup-de-gras by The Hammer Man and taken all necessary steps to ensure his complete failure. I believe there will be a Champ Car season in 2004 and it will rock the damn house!  And just for the hell of it....don't withhold my name!  Aloha.......Ray Masters, Hawaii

Formula BMW

16-year old wins Formula BMW scholarship   16 year-old Oakville, ON resident James Hinchcliffe recently completed the Formula BMW (FBMW) licensing program in Valencia, Spain. The program, which took place January 8-10th, brought 24 drivers from North America to the legendary Formula One circuit in Spain to assess talent and skill level of North American drivers. The top six competitors in the program would then be awarded with a $40,000 scholarship towards competition in the FBMW series in North America in 2004.

With the scholarship announcement being delayed for over a week, the multi-time Canadian karting champion was forced to wait for news on the scholarship winners. “This is a dream come true for me and will be a great start in launching my formula car career. I am extremely excited for this opportunity and look forward to getting in the seat of my own Formula BMW machine.” Hinchcliffe was informed of the news via e-mail on Tuesday evening and is eagerly awaiting the finalized schedule to see which different series that the FBMW program will run in conjunction with. Check online at for more news on Hinchcliffe and his Formula BMW program as it becomes available in the weeks to come.


More SAFER Barriers for NASCAR tracks   NASCAR officials hope to have SAFER Barriers installed at most of its Nextel Cup tracks by 2005, and Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway will be the next to add the so-called "soft walls."

Robin Braig, president of the Daytona track, and Rick Humphrey, vice-president and general manager of Talladega, both told The Associated Press on Thursday their plans to add SAFER Barriers during the 2004 season.

Braig said the barriers, which absorb impact and reduce G Forces to the drivers in a crash, cannot be installed at the 2.5-mile oval in time for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 15, but will be in place for the Pepsi 400 on July 3.

Talladega previously installed the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction system on the inside retaining wall of its 2.66-mile oval, extending from the exit of Turn 4, along the main straightaway and trioval and into the first turn - a distance of about 3,000 feet.

Talladega will add the barriers to the outside walls in all four turns in time for the Aaron's 499 on April 25.

"We're exited about doing this and, hopefully, it'll do what NASCAR wants it to do and add a comfort level for the drivers," Humphrey said.

"We'd like to see the SAFER Barriers installed by January 2005 at all the tracks at which the experts in Nebraska feel they will work and can be engineered," said Gary Nelson, managing director of NASCAR's research and development facility in Concord.


NASCAR hires full-time EMT...finally   NASCAR hired an emergency medical technician to oversee and monitor the care given drivers and crewmen during the Nextel Cup Series events.   The EMT will ride in the quick-response safety car used since midway through the 2003 season, but will not be a "hands-on" medical person, NASCAR president Mike Helton said Thursday. "Our use of the EMT is to supervise ... monitor and help us with the requirements and standards that we ask the tracks to provide," Helton said.   Each track is required to provide medical personnel and rescue workers for its race weekends.   NASCAR did not release the name of the EMT.   The hiring of the full-time EMT, in combination with the addition of the safety car and the decision late last season to eliminate the long-criticized rule allowing cars to race back to the flagstand after a caution flag is displayed, is expected to improve accident response.


Like we said....  As has been stated here over the past several months, it's imperative that the oval track cartel not take control of open wheel racing in the USA because the only thing they really care about is making sure the oval tracks they own prosper while road and street racing is pushed aside.  Roger Penske, one of the biggest movers and shakers in the oval track cartel, had this to say in this article, "What I'd really like to see in the IRL is a predominant schedule of oval style open-wheel racing with a mixture of four or five road course races. I think that would be the best for racing."  It's clear the oval track cartel favor the ovals (remember, when in doubt, follow the money....)  And what happens to road racing in the USA and CART's complete ladder system of road racing from karting to Barber Dodge (various levels) Toyota Atlantic and Champ Cars, plus all the other road and street circuit venues?  Road racing is the best training ground for any driver.  Road racers have mopped up the short track oval racers who have tried their hand at Indy Car racing.  We're sorry, but driving around in circles has almost nothing to do with talent and everything to do with car setup.  Silly Americans.  We are the only country in the world who thinks racing means droning around in circles at 100% throttle and smashing against concrete walls.  A sad commentary indeed.


IRL submits bid for CART assets  Local Indy Station WTHR Channel 13 INDY.... just reported IRL has submitted a bid for the assets of the BANKRUPTED CART series. FRIDAY....will be interesting to see....and find out how much the bid was for.  This Indy Star article says, The Indy Racing League filed its bid this afternoon to purchase selected assets of bankrupt Championship Auto Racing Teams, an IRL spokesman confirmed. The spokesman did not disclose what the IRL sought in the proceedings, but he said it was assets that did not have legal entanglement. "We're confident, based on our research, that there is no entanglement on what we are bidding on," Fred Nation said. Nation called Tony George's offer "substantial." He did not elaborate. Bids are due to CART on Friday. There is at least one other bidder in addition to the Open Wheel Racing Series that has already made a $1.6 million offer. An OWRS principal told The Star today that his group will prevail and keep the Champ Car series alive for the 2004 season and beyond.


Team Rahal signs 2nd Atlantic driver  Team Rahal, one of the leading open-wheel racing teams in North America, announced today the signing of 18-year-old Chris Festa as the second driver for the team's 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship program. Festa will join 2003 rookie sensation Danica Patrick to comprise Team Rahal's two-car full-season entry in the historic Atlantic series.

Festa, a native of Atlanta, Ga., has extensive karting experience, having run over 250 events and having collected 60 victories. Since 2001 Festa has run as a factory driver for Paul Tracy Karting, the same karting team that launched the career of 2003 Toyota Atlantic Rookie of the Year and champion A.J. Allmendinger. Festa and Allmendinger were both involved in the inaugural season of the Stars of Tomorrow competition in 2000. Festa further diversified his driving experience by competing in the 2003 Fran Am 2000 Winter Series and by running the US Formula Ford Zetec Championship for PR1 Motorsports the championship winning team in 2003.

The second Team Rahal entry will be sponsored by Mestek, Inc. of Westfield, Mass and CareCentric an Atlanta, Ga. based company that sponsored Festa in his Formula 2000 program last season. Mestek is a family of 35 manufacturing companies providing heating and air conditioning systems components to the major manufacturers and distributors in the worldwide HVAC industry. CareCentric has been providing software and processing solutions for over 30 years to the home medical care markets and is a pioneer in automation of clinical and medical processing services.

The Team Rahal Atlantic car to be driven by Danica Patrick will once again be sponsored by the Argent Mortgage Company.

"We spent the majority of the 2003 season as a single car team, and we saw the competitive advantage of being a two car team," said Bobby Rahal, Team Rahal co-owner. "To add a second car is important, but you need to add a quality driver, and I think we have done both with the addition of Chris. The quality personnel that we have in place with our Atlantic program and the opportunity to work with a driver of Danica's caliber makes this an ideal situation for a young driver like Chris."

"The opportunity to drive for Bobby Rahal in the Toyota Atlantic Championship will lay the foundation for the rest of my career," said Festa. "To join a front running team with the experience and talent of Team Rahal is a dream come true for a young driver."

Vicki O'Connor, President of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship was thrilled by the news. "I've watched Chris' career for a number of years, and I know that he is ready to step into the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. I'm pleased that Bobby and Team Rahal are giving Chris an opportunity to team with Danica next year, and I expect them to be a formidable team throughout the 2004 season."


Mi-Jack Conquest tests Nelson Philippe  We reported this yesterday, but 17 year-old phenom Nelson Philippe successfully completed a two-day test of a Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard Champ Car at Sebring International Raceway on January 19 and 20. “It was an excellent test, and this young man is an exceptional talent”, commented team owner Eric Bachelart, under whose watchful eye the test was conducted. “Nelson completed over 400 miles in two days, and never put a foot wrong. His feedback to the engineers was surprisingly detailed and useful, given that he has so little experience in these cars.” Nelson is believed to be the youngest driver ever to test a Champ Car. A native of Valence, France, the Miami resident is a veteran of years of karting. Nelson competed in 2003 in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. He had four top-five finishes, including a strong season-ending run of a third and two fourth place finishes in the last three races. “I’m grateful for the opportunity provided by Mi-Jack Conquest Racing,” Nelson said. “After my short experience at Sebring last fall, this was a good opportunity to further enhance my knowledge of these cars. I loved working with this team. The car handled great, and everyone was very professional. I’m very much looking forward to driving these cars more often.” It was accompanied at the test by his longtime coach and mentor, Christian Boudon. “We thought Nelson was ready for this, and we were right,” commented Mr. Boudon, “He is mature beyond his years. This is a testament to the preparation available in high-level karting, and to the Barber Dodge Pro Series, as well.” About the team’s 2004 plans, Bachelart was not ready to make any announcements. “It was good for our team to be out on the track again, and I feel good about that. We have some solid opportunities that we are working on, and hope to be able to make our announcements in the very near future.”


IRL rides NASCAR coattails to another Kansas sellout  Tickets for the IRL IndyCar Series Kansas Indy 300 and Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series events on July 4 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., have sold out.  [Editor's Note:  All tickets at Kansas are sold as a package deal so you get an IRL ticket when you buy a Nextel Cup ticket.]


Las Vegas test open to fans   Testing schedule for next week's NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas. The test is open to the public and there is no charge for race fans to watch from the grandstands.
Monday, Jan. 26-Tuesday, Jan. 27
NNC – Kasey Kahne, Jeremy Mayfield, Kevin Lepage, Ken Schrader, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Johnny Sauter, Robby Gordon, Kyle Petty, Jeff Green.
NBS – David Reutimann, Matt Kenseth, Ron Hornaday, Paul Wolfe, Mark McFarland, Michael Waltrip.
Tuesday, Jan. 27-Wednesday, Jan. 28
NNC – Ward Burton, Sterling Marlin, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers, Ricky Craven, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart, Scott Riggs, Joe Nemechek, Scott Wimmer.
NBS – Jason Leffler, J.J. Yeley, Mike Bliss, Casey Atwood, Tim Fedewa, David Green, Jason Keller.
Wednesday, Jan. 28-Thursday, Jan. 29
NNC – Dale Jarrett, Rusty Wallace, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Bill Elliott, Ricky Rudd, Elliott Sadler, Brendan Gaughan.
NBS – Ashton Lewis Jr., Robert Pressley, Billy Parker, Johnny Sauter, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch.
NBS – Martin Truex Jr.

Industry News

Skip Barber announces high performance driving school   Reacting to rising interest from its customer base, Skip Barber Racing School LLC announced the creation of the new DODGE/SKIP BARBER HIGH PERFORMANCE DRIVING SCHOOL. The HIGH PERFORMANCE DRIVING SCHOOL, an offshoot of the Dodge/Skip Barber Driving School, emphasizes a curriculum aimed at performance-oriented drivers. These drivers, the majority of whom own high-performance cars, are savvy autophiles who want to learn driving skills that can afford them a more rewarding ownership experience.

“While the Driving School will continue to educate and inform, we wanted to reward customers who've asked for a more performance-based curriculum -- they want to learn skills that will help them better communicate with their vehicles," said Stu Upson, Senior V.P. Sales and Marketing for Skip Barber.

“This program really grew out of student interest,” continued Upson. “Many of our Driving School customers couldn't get enough time in the Dodge Viper. They embrace the safety messages found in our Driving School but want a more aggressive program, one with more emphasis on driving a car at its limit.”

The Vehicle Dynamics talk, long a part of the Dodge/Skip Barber Driving School, still plays a relevant part as students are briefed on car control and performance car characteristics. On the autocross or infield, students receive two days of Viper training time, substantially more than in the core program. The 500-HP Dodge Viper SRT-10 serves as a rolling classroom where students build proficiencies in autocrossing, driving under g-load and aggressive braking techniques. Additionally, drills such as champagne slalom, a timed figure-8 exercise and power slides have been integrated into the curriculum. Like all Skip Barber courses, the HIGH PERFORMANCE DRIVING SCHOOL is taught by racing and driving professionals, experts in automotive training.

The HIGH PERFORMANCE DRIVING SCHOOL rolled out as a pilot offering at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on January 17-18, 2004. Additional dates follow on February 14-15, March 14-15 and April 3-4. The program shifts East when Lime Rock Park hosts its first dates; May 18-19 and later June 21-22. Road America, Skip Barber's Wisconsin base location, hosts the new program on July 3-4. The introductory price is $1295 retail. The HIGH PEFORMANCE DRIVING SCHOOL will eventually be offered at all base locations including Sebring International Raceway and Daytona International Speedway. Dates for these tracks have not yet been announced.


Mosley fires back at EU   FIA President Max Mosley responded on Thursday to the suggestion from a European Commission spokesman that the sport had only belatedly grasped the importance of new EU-wide regulations relating to fatal accidents on the track. Pietro Petrucci, a spokesman for EU justice commissioner Antonio Vitorino, said this week that "Mr Mosley is not above the law and the European arrest warrant applies to all citizens" and added that "Formula One chiefs are waking up too late."

In a letter to Vitorino, of which AFP obtained a copy, Mosley said: "Both allegations are unacceptable. The one implies that I wish to be above the law, which is untrue and libellous. The other is false, in that the teams and their representatives have had innumerable meetings with Commission officials on the European Arrest Warrant, culminating in a meeting on 7 July, 2003 with the Director-General of your directorate, Mr Jonathan Faull, together with a member of your cabinet." The warrant, which took force across the EU on January 1, replaces extradition proceedings between the bloc's member states. It is designed to tackle serious offences ranging from drug trafficking to terrorism. But Formula One team bosses are worried their staff could be targeted as the result of a fatal accident at a Grand Prix. Mosley has said the prospect of arrest under the new warrant for team principals, mechanics and technicians was "a real menace."


Button shatters Barcelona lap record   BAR's Jenson Button set a new lap record in testing at Barcelona today (Thursday). Driving the interim Honda-powered car, he became the first man to lap the altered circuit in under 75 seconds. The Briton went a second quicker than anybody has done this week.
Barcelona testing day 4:
Pos Driver Car Time Laps
1 Jenson Button (BAR-Honda) 1m14.607s 85
2 Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) 1m15.410s 95
3 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 1m15.505s 102*
4 Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW) 1m15.736s 63*
5 Luca Badoer (Ferrari) 1m15.767s 86
6 Marc Gene (Williams-BMW) 1m15.820s 46
7 Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW) 1m16.251s 97*
8 Olivier Panis (Toyota) 1m16.507s 98*
9 Giancarlo Fisichella (Sauber-Petronas) 1m16.529s 66*
10 Takuma Sato (BAR-Honda) 1m16.560s 90
11 Mark Webber (Jaguar) 1m17.173s 144
12 Franck Montagny (Renault) 1m17.447s 130
13 Nick Heidfeld (Jordan-Ford) 1m17.530s 49
14 Christian Klien (Jaguar) 1m18.029s 46*
15 Ryan Briscoe (Toyota) 1m18.106s 62
16 Timo Glock (Jordan-Ford) 1m18.236s 36


Kerry Earnhardt to run limited schedule for RCR   Kerry Earnhardt will get a chance to prove himself in NASCAR's top stock car series with Richard Childress Racing, the team that gave his late father six of his seven Winston Cup championships.  Earnhardt will drive a black No. 33 Chevrolet this year in a limited schedule of Nextel Cup races and help RCR test and develop cars for full-time Cup drivers Kevin Harvick, Robby Gordon and Johnny Sauter.  ``We're going to have an Earnhardt back in a Richard Childress Racing car,'' the team owner said Wednesday. ``It gives me chills just to say that.''   Kerry, the oldest son of Dale Earnhardt and half brother of current Cup star Dale Jr., will drive in five races for RCR, beginning with the event at Talladega Superspeedway on April 25.  The 34-year-old Earnhardt lost his Busch Series ride with FitzBradshaw Racing midway through last season.  ``I've been working with Richard for the last three years trying to do something,'' Earnhardt said. ``Richard has told me in the past he wanted to do something with me and was just waiting for the right time. ... Now, we're just getting some seat time testing and getting back in the groove again.'' 


Fan calls for IRL's demise, not CART's  A reader writes, Dear, I read with complete and utter disgust over Michael Andretti's call for CART's demise so everyone can unite under Anton George's IRL banner.  Over my dead body.  You Michael Andretti are a traitor of the worse kind, trying to justify your idiotic move to the blood and guts IRL where drivers are maimed, mangled and sometimes killed at an alarming rate.  Poor Kenny Brack was the latest in a long line of IRL drivers that have been mutilated since the IRlLs inception in 1996.  The IRL is a failure of the worse kind and Anton George must be stopped.  It has all the big names, sponsors and manufacturers, yet the TV ratings plummet and it needs to be propped up with Toyota, Honda and Anton's money to survive.  Why on earth should open wheel unite under something that is failing?  As another reader put it, the IRL has one foot in the grave and they are backfilling the soil.  I hope they don't bury too many more bodies before the backfilling is complete.  I submit that it is the IRL that must go away, and the sooner the better.  The sport has taken a nosedive since the IRL's inception.  It is time to terminate Anton's little folly and unite under the OWRS banner.  I call on Toyota, Honda, Chevy and all the IRL sponsors to dump Anton's failed concept of what Indy Car Racing should be and let's get back to CART's model when the sport was in its heyday pre-1996, that of mostly street and road circuits with as few ovals as soon as possible to reduce driver injury and the pulverizing of expensive equipment against concrete lined ovals week in and week out.  I submit that Honda and Toyota are supporting Anton's failed folly to get in the good graces of the Oval Track Cartel's Grand Poo-Pah, Bill France Jr. and eventually gain entrance into the Nextel Cup series.  That is what both companies are after.  Supporting the blood and guts IRL is just a means of paying their dues before being granted entry into heaven (Nextel Cup Series).  No IRL and Grand-Am support, no entry into heaven.  Paul Mozier, Irvine, CA  Dear Paul, As we have stated on numerous occasions, if Tony had used all that money he has wasted on the IRL since 1996 and invested it in running teams in CART dedicated to developing American drivers, CART would still be in its heyday, and rivaling NASCAR in popularity.  He took a successful series that had good TV ratings, a lot of sponsors, good attendance and even made Bernie Ecclestone nervous that it could threaten F1, and ruined everything for the sport and for the fans.  Instead of working harder to improve CART's faults and building upon something that was already successful, he threw it all away.  Why?  When in doubt, follow the money.  Tony owns an oval track(s).  It made more sense for him to form an alliance with NASCAR, also in the oval track business, to form the oval track cartel.  They are in business to further oval track racing because that is where they make their money.  CART was becoming predominantly a road racing series and that did not fit their business model.  As they say, hindsight is 20-20, and we now see that running open wheel cars on concrete wall lined oval tracks is a very bad thing and now we are left with a sport that is divided and weak.  Mark C.


FIA-GT looking at another China race  According to Autosport Magazine, China is on course to host two rounds of the FIA GT and European Touring Car championships in 2005.   FIA GTs will return to Zhuhai this year and both series are expected to visit the Shanghai track the season after. The ETCC is likely to undergo a name change if plans for up to four non-Europe races materialize.  The plan has always been to keep races outside Europe.


2004 Sauber a duplicate of 2003 Ferrari   This week's Autosport Magazine has a feature article that talks about what appears to be a 2004 Sauber that is an exact duplicate of last year's Ferrari.  They show the two cars in side view and you can't see any difference whatsoever.  Sauber uses a Ferrari engine and gearbox and now it appears the car too.  Claims that Sauber's impressive new C23 is a direct copy of Ferrari's F2003-GA have been rejected outright by motor racing's governing body, the FIA.

In the wake of suggestions from rival teams that Sauber's 2004 contender is merely a repainted Ferrari, and is therefore against Formula 1's technical regulations, the FIA has insisted that there are no grounds for complaints.

A high-level source within the FIA told AUTOSPORT that it had been consulted during the entire design process of the C23, and that the paperwork, designs and manufacturing were all fully legal.  The source said: "Everything is above board. The car is not the same as the Ferrari, but it is very similar."

Question marks over the design of the Sauber emerged almost as soon as it hit the track for testing at Valencia in Spain last week. Giancarlo Fisichella managed to lap in an impressive 1m10.530s - just half a second off David Coulthard's record in the McLaren MP4-19 - after completing a mammoth 113 laps over two days of running.

Fisichella said after the test: "I am very happy. Usually it is difficult to do a lot of laps with a new car as there are often some problems, but this was not the case today."

Paddock insiders who are convinced of the similarities between the Sauber and last year's Ferrari also point to the fact that the C23 tested with a front wing that bore a striking resemblance to that which the world champion team used at the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix, rather than the wings displayed at the new Sauber's launch two weeks ago.

The only major differences between the design of the F2003-GA and the C23 are the roll hoop, which is more triangular on the Sauber, and the suspension uprights [Editor's Note: We smell a rat].

One source told AUTOSPORT: "We believe the car is more than a Ferrari copy: it's exactly the same, in which case there is reason to be concerned."

Despite the controversy, it is unlikely that teams will waste time trying to get further clarification from the FIA. There is also the difficult task of being able to prove that the C23 is an actual 'copy' of the F2003-GA rather than just being similar to it.

In F1 you must design and build your own car.  Has Sauber violated the rule1s?


Homestead to host NASCAR final playoff race   Homestead-Miami Speedway will host the final event of the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series "Chase for the Championship" with this year's running of the Ford 400 on Sunday, November 21.  The new championship structure, announced Tuesday, virtually guarantees a multi-car shootout for the championship on an annual basis at the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  More.....


Latest F1 News in Brief  

Another Lap Record For FW26, Ralf
Schu Set For Formula One Track Return
Verstappen Won't Test Jordan: Spokesperson
Rosberg Impresses In Third F1 Test
Leinders Shunts EJ13 On First-Ever Lap 

Heidfeld Wins Another Jordan Chance
Arrest Warrants Debate Is 'Closed': EU Chief
McLaren Extend Siemens F1 Deal
Patriotism Halts Baumgartner Guarantee
Silverstone Admits Boycott Threat
'Nothing Comes Close' To F1 Thrill: Da Matta 

Webber To Relish Challenge Of New Venues
Even Learning Waits For Formula One
Why Is Michelin's Dupasquier Worried?
Klien Aims To Emulate Austrian Greats
Webber Reveled In One-Lap Pressure


Kellogg's extends Hendrick deal  Hendrick Motorsports and Kellogg Company have extended one of stock-car racing's most enduring relationships, today announcing a multi-year agreement that secures the Michigan-based cereal maker as primary sponsor of the No. 5 Chevrolet Monte Carlos in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

Back behind the wheel of the Kellogg's Chevrolets in 2004 will be two-time Cup Series champion Terry Labonte, who also has signed a contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports.

Labonte and Kellogg's debuted with the No. 5 team in 1994, two years before winning the 1996 NASCAR Winston Cup Series title together.

"We're excited about extending our longstanding relationship with both Kellogg's and Terry Labonte," said team owner Rick Hendrick. "This team is capable of great things, so we're all looking forward to seeing what happens when the season begins next month."

Entering its 15th year as a NASCAR team sponsor, Kellogg's has been an Official Status Partner with the sanctioning body since 1995 and is the "Official Breakfast Food of NASCAR."

"Everyone at Kellogg Company was thrilled with the team's turnaround last season and we're looking forward to more success in 2004," said Robert Grainger, marketing services director, Kellogg Company. "We hope to help Hendrick Motorsports celebrate its 20th anniversary in NASCAR by putting Terry Labonte and the No. 5 Chevrolet back in Victory Lane."


What's wrong with Open Wheel Racing  First off I am by no way a complete supporter of the IRL or trying to justify its inception, but over the course of reading from the free site to the now monthly fee I have to say that open wheel racing is not in trouble because of Tony George. The main reason open wheel racing is in trouble is because up until 1996 open wheel racing only had seen 3 champions that were not American. 1. Nigel Mansell, 2. Emmo 3. Jacques Villeneuve if I recall correctly. Americans want to see Americans race, and win championships. Since 1996 CART has seen no American drivers take home the championship. Now for the IRL.  Outside of Eddie Cheever an American Driver has not won the Indy 500 since 1996, although Sam Hornish has won the IRL championship not many people follow the IRL or open wheel racing outside of the Indy 500. In return CART, IRL, and open wheel racing has seen attendance and TV viewership decrease with the lack of American drivers since 1996. A racing series that features majority of its drivers from other countries is doomed to fail within the US borders, this is plain and simple. I don't care what kind of great plan OWRS has for CART, without American drivers NO ONE CARES! And Tony, he has to be getting sick of pissing away his money on the IRL. Coming together as one series and adding American drivers should be the 2 priorities for these two companies. This is why CART and the IRL are hurting and NASCAR is thriving. Even F1 is not catching on here in the states because of the lack of American drivers. I don't believe open wheel racing will return to its glory days of the early 90's until we see a huge increase of American drivers behind the wheel, and American drivers winning the Indy 500. Like it or not the Indy 500 is the only stage for open wheel racing at this time. Open wheel racing has a tough task keeping great drivers wanting to stay in open wheel cars. With the loss of Kasey Kahne to NASCAR and Toyota Atlantic's driver Kyle Krisiloff to ARCA we are losing great young American open wheel stars to stock cars at an alarming rate. PS AUTORACING1 Thanks for all the great inside info and articles! Name Withheld  Dear No Name, Sam Hornish is American right?  He won the IRL championship two years in a row and the IRL TV ratings plummeted thereafter.  Yes, Americans are important, but Alex Zanardi was Italian and Americans fell in love with him. He was the most popular "Indy Car" champion since Mario Andretti, another Italian. End of that story.  NASCAR has monopolized racing in the USA.  Any series butting heads for sponsorship or TV ratings with NASCAR is going to get crushed.  Champ Car racing must be a mix of international events, with the USA as a base, much like Europe is a base to F1. CART is a known quantity outside the USA.  No it's not as big as F1, but it's something OWRS can capitalize on if they position it correctly.  Mark C.

Industry News

Feeding frenzy for China's wealthy  This article says, Chairman Mao might have turned in his grave had he seen the convoy of Ferraris parade by Tiananmen Square, swing under his huge image overhanging the entry to the Forbidden City and roar right past his mausoleum.

In defiance of Mao's old slogan, "simple living and hard struggle," many Chinese are amassing so much wealth that nearly one hundred mainland Chinese can afford a brand new Italian sports car.

"The number is growing," says Richard Lee from Beijing's Italian Motors. So who, exactly, is buying these much desired autos?

"There are people involved in, of course, investment, building up their own business and there are people from like, the entertainment circle. Actors, singers ... you know," Lee explains.

They are China's new elite, who aren't afraid to splash around their hard earned yuan in a booming economy. According to Lee, they have one thing in common.   "They appreciate the fine things in life, and they are not shy to show the case," he says.  More....


Boris Said to drive in Bud Shootout  2002 Motorock Trans-Am Tour Drivers’ Champion Boris Said will compete in the Budweiser Shootout NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Daytona Int’l Speedway on Feb. 7. Said, who won one race and earned three runner-up finishes in four 2003 Trans-Am Tour starts, will drive the No. 01 Chevrolet Monte Carlo fielded by MB2 Motorsports in the non-points, all-star race at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Said earned the right to compete in the Shootout, an event open to 2003 NEXTEL Cup pole winners and former Shootout victors, by winning the pole, his first in NASCAR competition, at Infineon Raceway last June. Interestingly, Said led a trio of Trans-Am graduates in the top-three qualifying positions at Infineon. Robby Gordon qualified second, while Ron Fellows started third.

“Driving on a superspeedway is probably the most different thing I’ve ever done,” said Said. “Last month I went down and tested at Daytona, ran in the draft, and it was really cool. I’m really excited.

“I hope to run in Trans-Am this year,” added Said. “Trans-Am cars are my favorite cars to drive and it would be a shame if I couldn’t compete there this year.”

The Budweiser Shootout will be held under the lights at Daytona, and kicks off the 2004 NEXTEL Cup Series season.

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

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


IRL founding principles: Overview & Fan Rebuttal  2nd UPDATE  Bravo to J.N. Anderson. He took the words right out of my mouth! I'm just waiting for the EDITOR'S NOTE: to be added to this ridiculous re-writing of history all to save face with the damage Tony and his cronies have caused. When Mark....When will you be adding your EDITOR'S NOTE:? You should be doing this after every ridiculous chapter of this trash is put up on YOUR website. We all know this all complete fantasy writing. I'm just aghast that you guys are putting this trash up on your site. I put you guys above everyone else because you publish the FACTS. This is not supposed to be a fiction writing website! James Shaw  1/20/04 - A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.Com, Referencing the Invisible Racing League's latest need to apply spin control to overcome the negative press they have generated ( "IRL to buy CART to kill it!" ) please permit me the opportunity to address several of the points in the IRL's latest attempt to rewrite history and once again try and remove their founder's foot from his mouth.  More....  1/20/04 - Tony George, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, let the world in on his vision for a new open-wheel racing series on March 11, 1994. This is the first in a six-part series put out by the IRL examining how the Indy Racing League has adhered to the principles laid out by its founder according to the IRL.   More....

Industry News

Most popular race in southern Florida  Perhaps too small a poll to be statistically significant, South Florida Motorsports recently ran a poll on their website. The results were quite interesting. Just to let you know, this past year they gave equal coverage to the IRL as they did to CART and much more in comparison to ALMS so the 1 vote IRL received is quite telling. What really surprised us was the 2 votes that NASCAR got.
What was South Florida's best Racing event in 2003?

IndyCars at Homestead(1) 1%
Grand-Am at Homestead(6) 5%
CART in Downtown Miami(36) 29%
American LeMans in Downtown Miami(43) 35%
NASCAR at Homestead(2) 2%
Local Action at Hialeah(36) 29%
124 total votes since 12/20/03
Poll ended: 01/14/04


Mosley plans race return  According to Autosport, FIA boss Max Mosley is set to make his Formula 1 debut 35 years after he abandoned his career as a racing driver.   The 63-year-old president of the FIA as accepted a challenge from F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to race his friend’s unique Brabham BT44B in the historic Grand Prix of Monaco, which takes place on May 16th, a week before the contemporary race is to be held.   Mosley last raced in 1969, when he crashed out of his only Formula 2 start of  the year. Before then he had been a useful amateur Clubmans competitor, graduating to F2, where he raced in the 1968 European series in a 1600cc FVA-powered Brabham BT23C. The car Mosley will drive is one of Gordon Murray’s classic Cosworth DFV-powered designs. The sole survivor of four, Carlos Pace took it to victory in the 1975 Brazilian GP.


Philippe tests for Conquest  Frenchman Nelson Philippe tested for Conquest Racing at Sebring earlier this week (below). It was the 19-year-old’s second Champ Car test, his first being last year with Fittipaldi/Dingman.


IRL founding principles: Part 2  Tony George, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, let the world in on his vision for a new open-wheel racing series on March 11, 1994. This is the second in a six-part series examining how the Indy Racing League has adhered to the principles laid out by its founder.  Part 2: Benefiting Everyone


Barcelona Wednesday - Williams FW26 tops test times again   More later.....

Pos Driver Chassis-Engine Tire Time Laps
1 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m15.620s 64*
2 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW M 1m15.659s*
3 Fernando Alonso Renault M 1m15.718s
4 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1m16.026s 67
5 Jenson Button BAR-Honda M 1m16.621s 87
6 Luca Badoer Ferrari B 1m16.951s 76
7 Nico Rosberg Williams-BMW M 1m17.469s
8 Felipe Massa Sauber-Petronas B 1m17.539s*
9 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m17.696 79*
10 Jarno Trulli Renault M 1m17.785s 67*
11 Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m17.895s 52
12 Christian Klien Jaguar M 1m18.087s 55*
13 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m18.507s 79
14 Bas Leinders Jordan-Ford B 1m21.841s 16


Fans start petition to save CART from IRL  CART fans have started this petition to Judge Otte to rule in favor of the OWRS bid over any other bids that may come in from the IRL or ISC.


Heidfeld to test Jordan  Bas Leinders took to the track for the second day of Jordan's four day test in Barcelona. However, the rookie left the track on the installation lap, damaging the car. The team rebuilt the second chassis, allowing Bas to get a few more laps.   "Bas Leinders was at the wheel on our second day of this test and again it was the driver’s first F1 test although Bas has driven at Barcelona before." Said James Robinson. "Unfortunately he had an accident on the installation lap and we had to build the second chassis. Although this allowed us to return to the track, it took several hours to achieve which left about an hour of running at the end. Three red flags in this last period further reduced track time, allowing Bas to get four short runs (18 laps) before the final flag. The mechanics did another excellent job today building the car from a tub and the car ran faultlessly once we got out, a credit to good teamwork."  Jordan have confirmed that Timo Glock will be testing again tomorrow morning and will be replaced by Nick Heidfeld who will complete the day and the rest of the week for the team.

Formula GP2

V8, not V10 for GP2, but CART....  UPDATE  A reader writes, Dear, I do not understand why you are so stuck on V-10s. In the US there are very few production cars with a V-10 (Viper and Ferrari are the exception). Why not let it be the current formula or a supercharged V-8. I am seeing many more manufacturers going to supercharged cars.  Peter Swanson   Dear Peter, A number of people have questioned us on this, the same way they questioned us three years ago when we said CART should be in China.  Now they are behind the eightball trying to get there.  V8's are common in the USA, too common.  They are in almost every North American racing series.  CART needs to position itself as the "premier" series with something "above" the norm with engines that scream.  When a USA race fan goes to a Champ Car race one of the things that must stimulate them is an "oh my god, I have chills down my spine" sensation you only get with the scream of a F1 V10. Ditto for when CART races overseas.  Sure they can stick with a Turbo, or a Supercharger, but these engines are meant to portray something above and beyond what you can buy in a passenger car.  Open wheel cars are not stock cars and if you try to position them in the market as such, you fail, much like the IRL has failed with its dumbed-down open wheel formula.  CART was at its peak when it was "special."  These engines won't use production based parts at all, no matter if V8 or V10, so a supplier is going to have to build a purpose built race engine anyway. Technology developed on a V10 engine in racing can be applicable to a V8 production engine in the future. CART does NOT need a V8 engine.    If the rules are written right, Champ Cars can have an economical V10 formula that sets it apart from anything else in America.  Will they be a bit loud?  You bet.    Mark C.   1/21/04 - The single-spec Dallara chassis for the new Formula GP2 series will be powered by a four-liter V8 engine built by Renault engine partner Mecachrome, not a V10 as first thought.  This opens the door for the CART Champ Cars to differentiate themselves and put their series higher on the world pecking order with a V10 engine making 750 HP....but in the same size and same weight chassis (give or take 100 pounds).  It is key that OWRS position their cars just below F1 so the series can be marketed and sold as a top level series.  If they fall below GP2 they will be in serious trouble.  Both GP2 and the IRL cars will be making 600 HP.  F1 cars have 900+ HP.  Champ Cars should fall right in the middle at 750 to 800 HP (max.).  If the new Champ Cars weigh in the neighborhood of a Formula GP2 car, which will weigh much less than today's overweight Champ Cars, the combination of light weight and 150 extra HP will result in a Champ Car outperforming an IRL car in every conceivable category by a wide margin, ensuring Champ Cars are the premier road racing series in North America, regardless whether the IRL tries to add some road races to their schedule.  Mark C.


Ganassi: Level of competition higher in NASCAR  Chip Ganassi, who also competes in open-wheel racing, conceded that the level of competition is higher in the stock cars.  “This is a little more challenging, maybe because I was in open-wheel racing for so long,” he said. “I enjoy them both. There is a lot more depth here. There are a lot more good teams, so it’s a challenge I accept. I’m not going to turn my back on it.”  [Editor's Note: If Tony George didn't split Indy Car racing in half and create a 2nd series, thereby almost making Indy Car racing extinct, perhaps Mr. Ganassi would find the level of competition much higher than what he has seen the last 8 years]


Ganassi: NASCAR has fixed what wasn't broken  Chip Ganassi, whose team fields Dodges for Sterling Marlin, Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears, suggested that the so-called new NASCAR playoff system — a term disputed by NASCAR officials — might not necessarily be permanent. “I don’t know what was wrong with the system we had, but having said that, I applaud NASCAR for trying to bring up some kind of playoff system,” said Ganassi. “No other sanctioning body has ever done that. The good news is, if NASCAR feels that it’s not working, I’m sure they’re not afraid to go back on the decision. It wouldn’t be the first time. I look forward to it, I guess.”


Siemens extends deal with McLaren  Siemens and the Team McLaren Mercedes Formula One racing team have extended their partnership, as specified in the sponsorship agreement recently signed by Rudi Lamprecht, member of the managing board at Siemens AG, and Ron Dennis, CEO and Chairman of the McLaren Group. Siemens remains a Technology Partner of the Team McLaren Mercedes team and will receive extensive advertising and hospitality rights. The branding on the racing cars and the drivers' suits will be changed from 'Siemens mobile' to 'Siemens'.  The sponsoring partnership between Siemens and the Team McLaren Mercedes Formula One racing team has existed uninterrupted since 1998. Siemens remains one of the team's Technology Partners and one of its largest sponsors. Changing the branding from 'Siemens mobile' to 'Siemens' opens up the sponsorship with its extensive advertising and marketing programs and hospitality activities to all parts of Siemens. The new MP4-19 racing car will carry Siemens logos on the sides of the chassis and on its nose, making them clearly visible for the TV cameras. Drivers David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen, Alexander Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa will sport the logo on the front of their racing overalls and on their helmets. All Team McLaren Mercedes team members will also have the logo on their clothing.

Rudi Lamprecht, member of the managing board at Siemens AG, said: "Formula One is one of our most important sports marketing activities with a global effect. In the future, all Siemens Operating Groups will be able to benefit from our very successful partnership with the Team McLaren Mercedes team. The expansion of the Grand Prix series with races in China and Bahrain puts us into growth markets that are very important to us and will continue to advance our profile and brand image."  Ron Dennis, CEO and Chairman of the McLaren Group said: "We are delighted that an important partner like Siemens is extending their relationship with the team. The 2004 Formula One season will be exciting and competitive, and Siemens's continued commitment and support is important in order for us to achieve our objective of winning races and World Championships."


Smith wants costs cut  Bruton Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., remains convinced that cutting costs will be the key to stock-car racing's future. "The one thing I'd be impressed with would be if NASCAR could cut the cost," he said. "Until they cut the cost, I'm not very impressed. As far as changing the points, that doesn't mean a thing to me because it's not helping to cut the cost. One thing that will help our attendance for the October race (in Charlotte) will be if they cut the speeds, so we can have a full field of cars. Now we see a lot of guys pull in after 10 or 15 laps and say they blew up or something. When you look at somebody like Jeff Burton that doesn't have a sponsor, it's a concern because we're going to see a lot more of it." The State


Elliott wants to run 15 races  Bill Elliott was recently asked about his schedule for the upcoming 2004 Nextel Cup season: "We've pretty much confirmed Vegas and Texas. After that, we're looking for sponsorship. Ideally we're looking at 15 races. I'd like to run Atlanta, but I don't think it'll happen for the first race, maybe in the fall. We've got a lot of things going on. One side of me says I'm going to miss running all of the races and the other side of me says.. If things aren't going right and you can't get anything going, you get halfway into the season, there's nothing more miserable than that. At least what we're doing now, I can help Kasey and Jeremy."


NASCAR tracks comment on new points system  Chicagoland Speedway Comments on New Nextel Cup Points System - Matthew Alexander, vice president and general manager of Chicagoland Speedway, reacts to today's announcement about the new NEXTEL Cup Series point system:  "Obviously, there has been a lot of discussion generated from the rumors and now the official news that NASCAR is adjusting their point system for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.  Anytime change is made, especially a significant change to a sport that millions of people are dedicated to, predominately people's first natural reaction will be one of skepticism.  However, from an objective standpoint, the system has great potential to increase the competition and excitement for NASCAR. For instance, Chicagoland Speedway's July 11 Tropicana 400 will be nine races from the start of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup "Chase for the Championship," which will in turn make teams on the cusp of making the 'Chase' to be more aggressive to try and gain valuable points to earn a spot in the coveted "NASCAR Top 10." Conversely, it will force the teams in the "NASCAR Top 10" to continue with an aggressive approach to maintain their potential 'Chase' status. The end result of the new point system is that the importance of scoring points at Chicagoland Speedway will increase and therefore the significance and excitement of the race will increase.  I'm confident with the continual maturation of our track and the new NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point system, the race fans of Chicagoland Speedway will once again walk away from the 2004 season thrilled with their racing experience."  
Dover International Speedway Comments on new Nextel Cup Points System - With the news that NASCAR plans to institute a revised points race system for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship battle, Dover International Speedway becomes a major focal point in the grand scheme of things by being one of the 10 tracks hosting a championship chase race. Thus, the September 26 MBNA America 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race has taken on even more importance and the Monster Mile will be a focal point for racers and race fans alike.  "Obviously, the races leading up to the final 10 championship chase events also will take on more importance, so we feel that both of our NASCAR tripleheader weekends will be of great value to our fans," said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. "Nonetheless, having our September race as part of the final championship run will certainly mean that we'll be the equal of any other major sporting event in the country that weekend and will raise the bar for race fans to make sure they are here for the action."   The June race weekend will feature the top three series in NASCAR racing, with the MBNA America 400 NEXTEL Cup Series race highlighting the weekend on June 6. Since the June 6 race will be the 13th of the NEXTEL Cup Series season, the race will firmly be on for teams to qualify for the top echelon eligible for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Chase for the Championship. The last race prior to the final segment of the championship chase will be at Richmond in early September. The first of the actual championship chase races will be in New Hampshire, then Dover is up next. The fever-pitch excitement of that race weekend will no doubt be high and will add even more to the pressure race teams face when they take on the one-mile concrete track known as The Monster Mile.
Martinsville Speedway Comments on New Nextel Cup Points System -  Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell has always believed change can be a good thing. That's certainly the way he feels about the "Chase For The Championship," unveiled today for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.  "Change is important. If you don't change and tweak your product, it's easy to get left behind," said Campbell. "I think the Chase For The Championship will help keep our sport headed in the same, positive direction it has for many years.  It's going to make the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series more exciting and that's going to be the big payoff for the fans.  The Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville is the eighth race of the season, but even that early in the season every driver will need to keep the points leader in sight.  And the SUBWAY 500 at Martinsville Speedway will be a key cog in the 10-race Chase For The Championship. The Oct. 24 event will be the sixth race of those final 10 and will be the only short-track stop down the stretch.  It's no secret that short-track racing is incredibly exciting. Throw the Chase For The Championship into the mix and it can only get better," said Campbell.


Verstappen one step closer to Jordan seat   Jos Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen has once again denied that there will be an announcement today informing everyone that the Dutchman has joined Jordan.  “We feel that we are another step closer to a contract,” Vermeulen told Verstappen’s website. “It was a very good dialog where both parties clarified their wishes. All options have been brought to the table, now we have to evaluate these with the other sponsors. We assume that we will meet again this week.”


Bahrain promotion begins  A NEW marketing campaign has been launched to promote the forthcoming Formula 1 event in Bahrain.

The Bahrain Airport Services (BAS) is the launch platform for the official National Formula 1 campaign - The Winning Formula.

All BAS vehicles at the Bahrain International Airport are being dressed in high-resolution graphics featuring F1 team drivers and BAS staff, creating a highly visible welcome to Grand Prix spectators arriving at the airport.

The Middle East's first Formula One Grand Prix takes place at the Bahrain International Circuit on April 4.

The campaign, endorsed by Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is, according to a BAS spokesman "specifically geared to increase awareness of the Bahrain Grand Prix, whilst at the same time promoting Bahrain as a developing tourist destination".

BAS provides catering, cargo, engineering and ground support services to Bahrain International Airport and is in the "front-line" as Bahrain prepares to welcome an expected over 100,000 visitors to the event, from April 2 to 4.

The campaign has been created and managed by branding specialists ITE Group-Bahrain in association with KHP Consulting - London.


Open Wheel must never unify under the IRL  A reader writes, Dear, I am aghast with all this talk from people like Michael Andretti that open wheel racing must unite under the IRL.  What is he smoking?  Why the IRL must never gain full control of open wheel racing in the USA:

  1. The IRL is part of the oval track cartel.  Hence they will never run but a few road races each year.  There are far too many good road and street circuit venues that would lose out big time.

  2. The IRL is far too expensive.  Every time they have an accident the cars smash into the hard concrete walls resulting in significant expensive damage.  Road racing is far less expensive and most accidents result in minor car damage.

  3. Racing on high banked ovals has resulted in so many driver injuries, many very serious, that it is downright negligent to continue the oval track cartel's all, or mostly all, oval philosophy.

  4. The IRL's TV ratings have plummeted underscoring that it is a failed formula.  CART's ratings on network TV last year were higher than the IRL's and CART was almost dead.  If an almost dead series is more popular than the IRL, I submit to you that the IRL has one foot in the grave and they're backfilling the soil.  They have no fans.  If they did their TV ratings would be rising, not plummeting.  The attendance you see at IRL races are either 2 for 1 NASCAR packages or free giveaways from Honda, Toyota, etc.  It's a false economy.  Some fans may attend to see the accidents and the blood.  The IRL has plenty of that, so yes, it is #1 in something.

  5. All of CART's support series, all the way down to karting, are road race based.  This country needs a top-level road racing series, not the IRL's concept of a "few" road races a year.  We can't let the oval track cartel take control of road racing and slowly kill it.  Look at their Grand-Am Series.  Talk about ridiculous.

  6. Except in the USA, oval track racing is nothing in the rest of the world.  Only silly American fans, who have been brainwashed into thinking driving in circles at full throttle is racing watch the stuff.  In the rest of the world road racing rules.  Silly, stupid Americans.

  7. If the USA is ever again going to produce a World Driving Champion we must have a top-level road racing series and the complete ladder system of road racing that CART currently has.

If somehow the IRL or ISC prevail on January 28th, it will be the bleakest day in American motorsports history.  The IRL and its oval track cartel cohorts must never take over road racing in America.  Never.  David Brown, Phoenix, AZ


Borla to back Luyendyk  Borla Performance Industries, Oxnard, Calif., has committed to a personal sponsorship of Indy Racing League driver, Arie Luyendyk Jr., for 2004. Borla Performance Industries is best known for manufacturing high-end exhaust systems for street, off-road and racing applications. The new partnership between Arie Jr. and Borla will commence with his first race of 2004, the Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance race, January 31-February 1. “I am very pleased to be partnering with Borla Performance Industries,” stated Arie Jr. “I have always been impressed with their products. I have used Borla exhaust systems in almost all of my cars since I was 16-years-old. It will be exciting to work with Borla in 2004, as I know I am fortunate enough to be partnering with a great company and a product I can stand behind.” David Borla, Marketing Manager of Borla Performance Industries, is equally excited about working with Arie Jr. in the coming year. "Borla Performance Exhaust is pleased to announce the sponsorship of Arie Luyendyk Jr. for the 2004 racing season,” Borla announced this week. “We are excited to bring Arie Jr. on board as a spokesperson and we look forward to a long-standing relationship with him. Arie's work ethic, marketability and potential for success make him a perfect fit for Borla's promotional needs and we welcome all he has to offer our growing company. Luyendyk is a world-class name that speaks performance, and we feel that pairing him with Borla, a world-class exhaust designer, will benefit both parties for years to come. Borla has always been an innovative and cutting-edge exhaust company and, as a result, we are especially pleased to partner with a young, up-and-coming racer such as Arie Jr."


Andretti calls for series unity  This Speed article says that as open-wheel racing teams await news of the future of CART, Michael Andretti knows what he wants to see. One series, and one series only. And that one series is the one in which he's currently involved, not the one in which he won 42 races during 19 years. "My hope is that CART goes away and we become one series," said Andretti, co-owner of Andretti Green Racing, which will begin its second season in the Indy Racing League next month. "That's what I hope. If open-wheel racing is going to start going where we want it to go, that's what's going to have to happen. If CART continues on, it's just going to drag all of open-wheel racing down. It would be a shame for that to happen.   I'm hoping that things are going on that we don't know about," said Andretti. "Obviously it's going to come to a head quickly. I think Tony would like to see one series. He knows it. I'm sure he's going to do everything he can to try to make it happen." [Editor's Note: Michael, since when exactly has the IRL been such as resounding success?] More . . .


Evernham Motorsports media tour comments  "Our journey started at ground zero and our goal was to build one of the most competitive and premier motorsports teams in NASCAR," Stated Ray Evernham. "We wanted to take the shortest, straightest, fastest possible way we could possibly get there. If you take a long journey, you want wide, flat roads with a high speed limit and very little traffic. You have checkpoints along the way so you can monitor whether or not you're on schedule. You lay a race team out the same way. You have good cars, good sponsors, good people and good drivers. You get running, get running good and start running consistently. When you start your trip sometimes you find detours. Sometimes the road you want to take might be closed by the NASCAR police. Sometimes a short cut ends up costing you a little more time. Sometimes you have to change bus drivers, and sometimes your bus driver doesn't want to run the whole route. You keep your goals and monitor your progress and you know whether or not you're on schedule. "   More.....


Leinders crashes Jordan  F1 hopeful Bas Leinders crashed his Jordan EJ13 on cold tires in very cold conditions at Barcelona this morning and took off the left front wheel before any other drivers could make it onto the track.


Sam Schmidt hires crew chief   Sam Schmidt Motorsports has taken on veteran crew chief Chris Griffis to oversee its Menards Infiniti Pro Series team for the forthcoming season, and hopes that some of his winning magic will rub off.   Griffis acted as crew chief for Panther Racing's Mark Taylor in the series last season, winning seven races and four pole positions en route to winning the drivers' championship.   "We were quite successful in 2003 with drivers Tom Wood and Brandon Erwin, but we are always striving to improve our program," said Schmidt, who earlier this month announced that 21-year old Brazilian Thiago Medeiros would pilot one of the team's cars, "Obviously, our goal for 2004 is to win races and the championship, and I think Chris will complement an already good team and allow us to accomplish those goals."


Latest F1 News in Brief  

BAR, Renault, Sign New F1 Deals
Trulli Steers First Laps In R24
New Record For Ralf At Busy Catalan Test
Wurz Pops Up As Jordan Race Candidate
F1 Chiefs Unite On Boycott Threat  
Verstappen Edges Closer To Jordan Deal
Wurz Squeezes Into Tight New McLaren
Toyota Boast About New Titanium Gearbox
Glock's Disbelief After F1 Debut
F1 Boycott Threat Is 'Real': FIA President
Ferrari Is World's Top Italian Company
Michelin Vows To Help Jaguar 'Fault'
Michelin: Don't Panic About 'Sand GP'
Schu In Trouble After High-Speed Stunt
Renault: We're Not Running GP2 Series
Final Touches To New Bahrain Circuit

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