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DATE

News (chronologically)

1/31/04

Rolex 24: Hour 10 CITGO Chevy leads  After driving three consecutive stints in the #2 Citgo Howard-Boss Motorsports Chevrolet Crawford, Andy Wallace turns the driving duties back over to Dale Earnhardt Jr. The lead of the #2 Chevrolet at the conclusion of the tenth hour is only one lap ahead of the #01 Lexus. The #44 Orbit Porsche continues to lead the GT class. The #91 Porsche is still the leader of the SGS class.  LEADERS AT HOUR TEN - Overall and DP - No. 2 Chevrolet (Andy Wallace, England; Tony Stewart, Davidson, N.C.; Dale Earnhardt Jr, Cleveland, N.C.;), No. 01 Lexus (Scott Pruett, McMinnville, Oregon; Max Papis, Italy; Jimmy Morales, Mexico; Scott Dixon, New Zealand), No. 54 Pontiac, No. 4 Chevrolet, No. 59 Porsche; GT - No. 44 Porsche, No. 74 Porsche, No. 22 BMW; SGS - 91 Porsche, No. 71 Porsche, No. 38 Porsche.

1/31/04
Industry News

Bob Bahre in serious condition from accident   This AP article says, New Hampshire International Speedway owner Bob Bahre was in intensive care Saturday with injuries sustained when his car went off the road 48 hours earlier in Maine.  Track spokesman Ron Meade said Bahre had a fractured vertebrae, broken ankle, concussion and rib injuries, and has been in and out of consciousness.  "They just got him out of an MRI and they have him stabilized, but as you can imagine all the swelling, it's pretty serious," Meade said.  A spokesman for Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, Maine, said the 76-year-old Bahre was listed in stable condition in the intensive care unit.  Bahre was making a drive of about 120 miles from the track in Loudon to his home in Paris, Maine, when his SUV went off Route 160 in Brownfield, Maine on Thursday afternoon. The vehicle hit a tree, Cpl. Tim Ontengco of the Oxford County Sheriff's Department said, adding that Bahre was wearing a seat belt and shoulder harness.  Bahre apparently fell asleep coming off a curve, Ontengco said.  "I asked him what happened. He said he was kind of tired and fatigued because he had been at the speedway all day and he was driving back," the investigator said.

1/31/04

Schumacher breaks lap record at Fiorano  Second day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro at the Fiorano circuit. This morning Luca Badoer completed the electronics test program begun yesterday: 23 laps to his name, with the quickest being a 56.852. Schumacher began development work on the F2004, covering a total of 100 laps, with a best time of 56.279, which breaks the lap record from a year ago of 56.3. Testing continues at this track tomorrow, again with Michael Schumacher driving.

1/31/04
Industry News

Cosworth Racing chooses fe-safe   Cosworth Racing choose fe-safe as standard durability analysis software tool.  Cosworth Racing is and always has been a recognized center of excellence for automotive engineering in the UK. In keeping with this, Cosworth Racing has chosen fe-safe* , the most technically advanced durability analysis software suite for FE models, as its standard durability analysis software suite. The software will be used by Cosworth Racing in the design and analysis of major castings, such as cylinder heads and crankcases, as well as pistons, crankshafts and connecting rods, for their world class engines. Hywel Thomas, Senior Engineer, F1 Design and Development, explained:

'fe-safe* has a number of unique capabilities which are important to us, in particular the advanced high temperature fatigue capability. The speed of analysis and ease of use were also very important issues which fe-safe* scored highly on as well as being very compatible with our current design and analysis processes'.

Cosworth aims to use fe-safe* not just to increase the reliability of its engine components but also to reduce development times and costs in the design process. fe-safe* will be used to optimize existing components and develop new ones.

1/31/04
Industry News

Dover Motorsports records drop in quarter   Dover Motorsports reported a $30.7 million loss for the quarter, compared with a $10.4 million loss in the same quarter of the prior year. Most of that loss was due to writing down the market value of assets associated with the Championship Auto Racing Teams series, which is in bankruptcy proceedings.

1/31/04
Formula Ford

American Charlie Kimball will race in Europe   Championship winning Team JLR announced today the first two driver signings for its 2004 Formula Ford title defense.  Hot off his win last week Down Under driving for Team USA, Charlie Kimball, 18 from Camarillo California continues with the British  team after some fabulous performances during the 2003 winter series. Kimball caused quite a stir when he claimed two poles, one win and fastest lap on his debut for Team JLR at Snetterton in November. The young Californian is determined to be the first American to win the British Formula Ford Zetec Championship. A determined Kimball has made the bold decision to come to Europe despite many offers to continue racing back home in the States. "I know Europe is where I need to be if I am going to make my name on the World Motorsport scene". " It has been hard to make the break from racing back home but I really feel if I can win in Europe, I will be a more complete driver for it. The winter series was tough and something of an eye opener for me to the ways of racing over here but I am excited and can’t wait to get started with Team JLR". Richard Dean commented, " Charlie was a ‘must have’ for us, the whole team were enormously impressed with him during the winter series and we are happy we have somebody we feel has the determination and speed to help us retain the Championship". " This is not a learning year for Charlie despite it being his first season in the UK, he has set a goal of winning the title". Mareks Stolcermanis will join Charlie Kimball in the 2004 line up. Mareks is 18 and lives in Jelgava, Latvia. The young Latvian has a very strong karting background finishing 7th in the 2001 European ICA karting Championships. 2002 and 2003 saw Mareks compete in the Toyota Yaris cup scoring second and fifth positions in the Championship.

1/31/04

Haberfeld excited about 2004 season, to announce team in days  This CART.com article says, Brazilian driver Mario Haberfeld is thrilled with the sale of the CART assets to Open Wheel Racing Series. “CART is the premier open wheel racing series in the United States and the world, and I am happy to see it continue.” The sale also means Haberfeld can now move forth with his own CART plans. “I can finally start making definite decisions regarding the 2004 season, and build upon my achievements of last season in CART”, said the Brazilian.  The fact that OWRS is headed by Paul Gentilozzi, Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe, three very successful businessmen inside and outside of the racing arena, makes Haberfeld feel good about the future of the racing series. “These three gentleman have achieved phenomenal success in their lives, and I am certain they will bring CART back to its glory days of years past”, said Haberfeld.  As for his immediate plans, Haberfeld is working diligently on securing a competitive ride for this year. “With the bidding process now behind us, and having had time to analyze all offers for 2004, I should be able to make an announcement regarding my team for the upcoming season within the next few days. As they say, now it’s time to ‘put the pedal to the metal’ and get ready for the season”, concluded the Brazilian. [Editor's Note: See Rumors page for what team Haberfeld will race for]

1/31/04

If IRL had killed CART, would not have been enough engines   As it turns out, if Tony George had succeeded in killing off the Champ Car Series this past week as he tried, the IRL's engine suppliers would not have had enough engines to supply the Champ Car teams who may have wanted to come over.  This Indy Star article says, Officials from Toyota, Honda and Chevrolet confirmed there wouldn't have been enough engines to supply the Championship Auto Racing Teams series cars that would have switched to the IRL had Judge Frank J. Otte's ruling shut down Champ-Car racing.

As it is, there might not be enough IRL engines to meet demand in the first four races of the season, and that includes filling the traditional 33-car field at the Indianapolis 500, the fourth of those races.  Nineteen teams currently have engine contracts -- seven each for Toyota and Honda and five for Chevrolet. Honda has a two-race contract for Roger Yasukawa in Motegi, Japan, and Indianapolis.

The shortage stems from the IRL's switch to a new power-reducing 3.0-liter engine in midseason. The manufacturers have a limited number of the current 3.5-liter engines, and they aren't building more because they are focused on the 3.0, which becomes legal at the 500.

"We've tried to be very open with people that there could be a shortage here," said Robert Clarke, general manager of Honda Performance Development. "Companies like ours just don't go off and build extra engines so we can have them.  There are some spares in the system, but giving them away now can hurt current (customers)."

Honda is in a difficult situation with its final few engines. Team Rahal and Fernandez Racing already have single-car programs and Beck Motorsports was a client last year. Walker Racing would like to be a Honda customer, too. Now, it's first come first served.  "We're at theoretic capacity now," White said of Toyota's situation. "People have to understand that it's going to be tight this year."

1/31/04

This guy just doesn't get it   This Arizona newspaper article berates the CART owners for going their own way and not letting Tony George kill their series and cherry-pick their best races.  It's clear the author doesn't understand.  There are two key issues he is overlooking.  1) Tony George wasn't trying for a merger, but to kill off the competition.  You can't merge that way and be successful because the fans of the losing side will revolt and never accept the winning side.  There must be a "true merger" where both sides win.  2) You can't simply kill off an entire industry, in this case road racing.  To let the oval track cartel cherry-pick only a handful of road races would have left many cities without races and the entire CART road racing ladder system in shambles.  As we stated below, this notion of dropping some of IRL's ovals and some of CART's road courses and having one series is pure folly.  Too much would be lost.  Our proposal would be for the IRL to dump their dreadful crapwagons and adopt whatever the new Champ Car spec car is going to be in 2005 or 2006 so both series can have a common car.  Then, under one company there can be a road racing division and an oval division.  Each division would crown a 15-race champion in early September and then Open Wheel Racing would have their version of a "playoff" (a la NASCAR and every other sport in this world) between the two divisions.  The top 10 drivers from both divisions would start with a clean slate of points, with first place from the regular season starting with 50 points, 2nd 45 points, etc. down to 5 points for the 10th place finisher from the regular season.  Then there would be a 4-race playoff (2 ovals, 2 road courses) between the 20 drivers to crown an overall champion.  The other drivers from both series can still race in the final four events, but they could not be crowned champion.  That will make news and generate some excitement.  And with the deep hatred that has developed between the CART and IRL fans over the split, the playoffs would generate a huge interest, something open wheel racing so desperately needs, and some good old bragging rights and chest beating by the overall champion.  However, until Tony agrees to a true merger, OWRS must focus on growing the Champ Car Series.  Mark C.

1/31/04

Can OWRS make the Champ Car series successful?   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com,  I am ecstatic that OWRS won the bid for CART.  However, I remain concerned about the future of open wheel racing in the USA because the split continues.  What does the future hold?  Dan Macy, Colorado  Dear Dan, There is no question the split should have never happened, but it did.  Here is what we see happening.  The IRL will continue to try and steal whatever it can from the Champ Car series.  Tony George on Thursday in a press conference admitted such when he listed all the street and road course races he will be after. As soon as he tries, OWRS will file lawsuit after lawsuit against him until he stops or runs out of money paying legal bills.   OWRS will make the Champ Car Series financially fit.  How can they do that?  The economy is turning around and teams are finding more sponsors.  That means less money by OWRS to field a full grid.  They desperately need more engine manufacturers.  Ford isn't able or willing to do enough, by a very long shot.  If OWRS lands more manufacturers they will be on their way.  They have some pretty neat plans for their TV package that we think are going to work well.  They realize how important it is that the drivers are "The Stars."  Now it remains to be seen if they can put the drivers front and center.  The drivers must do their part - make time for the media, and add a little drama.  Controversy between the personalities in any sport really engages the fans.  There needs to be some rivalries both on and off the track.  Who will Tracy fight with this year?  OWRS must run a tight ship and put on professionally run races.  The push-to-pass button should help to add excitement, as will standing starts, though we are not sure standing starts will happen in 2004.  OWRS must also reduce the number of full course cautions that turn almost every race into a procession behind the pace car.  Local yellows must be used more often, with full course yellows saved for only the most extreme dangerous situations.  In F1 we almost never see a full course caution.  In CART their immediate reaction is to go full yellow.  OWRS has also shown that they can make fast decisions to get things done.  Gone is the rule-by-committee-but-get-little-done approach of the past.  Mark C.

1/31/04

Dennis thinks 2004 Schumacher's last year This BBC article says, Michael Schumacher will quit Formula One at the end of 2004, McLaren boss Ron Dennis believes. "I don't think he'll be driving in 2005. That's what I think. I don't know," Dennis said. "They have been out testing the temperature on some of the other drivers. That gives you a little bit of an indication," Dennis added. But Dennis added that he would prefer the six-time world champion to race on. "What do we want? I want him to race until 2006 or beyond, so that we can beat him," he said. Schumacher's eventual decision to retire would be based on whether he continued to win in 2004, Dennis said. Michael is fairer in some of his moves than he used to be - there are still moments of indiscretion but they all have them. "If there was a 50-50 chance of him retiring if he wins, I'd say there would be 20-80 against [retiring] if he loses."

1/31/04

OWRS welcomed with open arms in Canada, ticket lines booming   This Toronto Sun article says, The organizers of the Toronto Molson Indy launched a new partnership with the Open Wheel Racing Series yesterday, saying it may not be perfect but it's the only game in town. Molson Sports and Entertainment vice-president and Indy general manager Bob Singleton said that despite some questions left over from the financially disastrous CART season, he expects a top-notch series to be racing on the streets of Toronto come July.

Singleton was questioned yesterday about whether Molson had contingency plans -- such as another series running in its three Canadian races -- if the court ruling that came down Wednesday had gone in favor of the all-oval Indy Racing League.   "Molson is committed to bringing first-class racing to Canada," Singleton said. "And the OWRS allows us to continue doing this."

Singleton said that he does have some concerns about whether OWRS owners -- Paul Gentilozzi, Gerry Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven -- can put together a TV package that will take the Molson Indys of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal to worldwide markets, but he said he has been assured such a deal is in the works.  "I expect OWRS to announce a new TV package for this season in the next couple of weeks," he said. "That's important to us."

"The owners of OWRS are successful businessmen," he said. "They are not getting into the racing business to lose money."

The Molson Indy boss said fears are unfounded that OWRS may have trouble fielding 18 cars come opening day in Long Beach, Calif.  "I am encouraged by the fact that there may be more than 18 cars," he said. "I spoke with team owners Dale Coyne and Adrian Fernandez (Wednesday) in Indianapolis and I came away with the conviction we may have north of 18 entries."

Singleton said Molson has been "pleasantly surprised" at the number of ticket renewals it has received, considering the mayhem that has surrounded open wheel racing.  "We are down only slightly from last year at this time," he said. "But (yesterday) the ticket renewal lines (were) ringing off the hook."

1/31/04

Bernie only has eyes for Hyderabad, India  The State Government received a shot in the-arm when Formula One Boss Bernie Ecclestone faxed a letter to the government revealing that the company was not holding talks with any other party in India.  Maharashra Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had claimed that the Formula One team was in touch with him to shift the track from Hyderabad to Mumbai. Bernie Ecclestone’s letter put paid to Maharashtra’s hopes.

In a letter to P V Rao, Chairman, AP Infrastructure Authority, who is dealing with the Formula One company, Bernie Ecclestone said, "This is to confirm that at this time we have not entertained any meeting with any other parties. I will inform you as you know we have kept our side of the agreement. Best Wishes...” State Government sources said that the letter has put to rest the Maharashtra’s claim that the company was planning to shift the track to Mumbai. “Hyderabad is still the front-runner for the Formula One track,” the sources added.

Apart from Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka are vying for the prestigious project. The State government had sent a team of officials led by Rao to hold talks with the Formula One team three times in London. The team is expected to meet Bernie Ecclestone again in February to discuss legal and commercial aspects.

The Formula One Company had sent a set of draft agreements covering various aspects including allotment of 1,300 acre site, financial tie-up for the project, promoters, legal issues and others to the State.

Rao said that the government was going through the draft agreement, which required a thorough perusal, before going back to the company. He, however, pleaded ignorance about the claims of Maharashtra Government. Sources said that Ecclestone has already inked an agreement with the State with a lock-in period for negotiations. It is only after the lock-in period that the F1 race would be free to open negotiations with others. The State has already declared the F1 a Mega Project. Sun Network

1/31/04

Jordan laughs off predictions of team's demise  Eddie Jordan, has laughed off speculation that his team is going to fold.  “We'll survive and survive well," he told the Telegraph. "We'll have a bloody good year. We'll have a better engine from Cosworth and a very good driver line-up. It's a fashionable thing to write about, that Jordan are in trouble. Well Jordan are not in trouble."  Eddie has also indicated that there is a place available for a British driver.  “I have certainly not ruled out having a British driver in the team. Ralph drove for us last season and he is a super guy,” he told the Sun. “And there’s also Allan and Justin, who have both shown what they are capable of.”

1/31/04

Schumacher gives 2004 car first run  First day of testing this year for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro at the Fiorano circuit. This morning Michael Schumacher gave the F2004 its track debut, while Luca Badoer carried out an electronics program at the wheel of an F2003-GA.  Schumacher covered a total of 34 laps, with the best time of 56.835 sec. Badoer completed 79 laps, the quickest in 57.311 sec. Testing continues at this track tomorrow, again with Schumacher and Badoer driving an F2004 and an F2003-GA respectively.  'I am quite happy with the first testing day of our new car. I immediately had a feeling for it. The F2004 was handling very well straight out of the box and we achieved good and consistent lap times. Personally I find it nice to have such good news and see such good mood on the birthday of our president's daughter Maria.'


Photos by Ferrari

1/31/04

OWRS buyout already reaping huge dividends   The buyout of the CART series by OWRS is already reaping huge dividends for the Champ Car Series.  In a number of newspapers around the world, in markets where the Champ Car series races, the story has been front page headlines (not just sports page headlines).  In racing publications and on internet messages boards it has been "The Story."  It is now important that OWRS keep that momentum going by announcing details for 2004 and beyond.

1/31/04

Dixon to drive Lexus in Rolex 24  Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon will move from ovals back to the road course as he joins Chip Ganassi Racing's Lexus prototype effort at this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona. The 23-year-old Dixon will team with Scott Pruett, Max Papis and Jimmy Morales in the CompUSA Lexus. On Thursday, Pruett won the pole for the twice-around-the-clock spectacular in Lexus' debut in the series. "I had a chance to drive the car for the first time last (Thursday) night and I really had a fun time driving it," said Dixon, who's heading into his fourth season of driving Toyota-powered open wheel cars, including last year's IndyCar Series championship run. "It was nice to be able to turn right again. My background is road racing, but I haven't done much endurance racing so this will be a new experience. I've been getting plenty of pointers from Scott (Pruett) and Max (Papis) on what to expect. I'm looking forward to extending my relationship with Toyota and Lexus."

1/31/04

Toyota defends NASCAR participation  This San Antonio article says, The national motorsports manager for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., defended the company Thursday in the wake of inflammatory comments made against it by veteran NASCAR driver Jimmy Spencer the day before.

"The investment of Toyota in plants and associated businesses in this country is in the billions of dollars," Les Unger said from Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Florida, where testing for several NASCAR series is taking place this week. "We think we're great corporate citizens as far as this country is concerned."

When Spencer, 46, was asked at Texas Motor Speedway what he thought about Toyota, a Japan-based firm, competing in this year's Craftsman Truck Series schedule, he brought up the bombing of Pearl Harbor as part of a rambling response on the development.

Spencer, well-known on the NASCAR circuit for his opinionated, biting sound bites and sometimes off-color humor, later attempted to clarify his statement, stressing he was referring to how international business relationships have evolved in the years since World War II.

"If Toyota didn't do that (add new racing teams), the truck series would've been a dying breed," said Spencer, who drove a Dodge truck to one series victory last year. "Toyota's going to be good."  Dodge is owned by DaimlerChrysler, a company based in Germany.

1/31/04


Bridgestone signs on to supply spec tires for Stars karting series   The Snap-on Stars of Karting announced today an agreement with Bridgestone Tire Company, and Grand Products, Inc. to become the spec tire and supplier for all of its national classes at all 9 national events in 2004. “We are always looking at ways we can improve,” said Paul Zalud of Stars. “Bridgestone has always been a huge supporter of Karting and we are very pleased to get them involved with our series. Bridgestone Tire Company, and Grand Products Inc. are great companies to be partnered with, and we are looking forward to this ongoing relationship.”

Kevin Hunley from Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire LLC added, “Bridgestone is excited about our new relationship with the Snap-On Stars of Karting series. With the class structure, Stars of Karting has adopted, and the venues on the National schedule, the competition will be extremely close on the spec tires. The proven Bridgestone spec tires will help level the playing field for all competitors and emphasize driver skill.”  Grand Products will be the exclusive supplier of Bridgestone specific tires at all of Stars events. “Grand Products is very excited about working with a first class organization like the Stars of Karting. I look forward to working with the Stars personnel at the venues, and I’m anticipating an exhilarating 2004 season” said Mike Tetreault, president of Grand Products Inc.

The following will define the specific tire requirements for each Stars of Karting national class as well as the protocol and distribution for the 2004 season. The following are the specified and only acceptable slick tires for use in the national classes for the Stars of Karting series:
Intercontinental C - Bridgestone YHB, sizes 4.50 x10 - 5 front and 7.10x11 - 5 rear.
Intercontinental A - Bridgestone YHB, sizes 4.50 x10 - 5 front and 7.10x11 - 5 rear.
80cc Shifter Junior - Bridgestone YHC, sizes 4.50 x10 - 5 front and 7.10x11 - 5 rear.
Intercontinental A/Junior - Bridgestone YHC, sizes 4.50 x10 - 5 front and 6.00x11 - 5 rear.
Cadet - Bridgestone YHC, sizes 4.50 x10 - 5 or 6.00x11 – 5, either size front or rear.

Rain tire for all classes is the Bridgestone YHP; sizes 4.5 x 10.0-5 front and 6.0 x 11.0-5 rear for all classes. Optional rear rain tire size for Cadet class: 4.5x10–5. Additional information will be included in the updated Technical and Competition regulations at www.cartstars.com.

1/31/04

Bell is working hard to land F1 seat  This Autoweek article says, When we first showed up at his father-in-law’s house, where Townsend Bell is living while working day and night on the next big stage in his life, Bell was working the phone. He has been working the phone nonstop since the end of last year’s racing season, indeed, he’s been working it pretty much the last few years of his life. You could look at this as a pivotal point in Bell’s career, a make-it-or-break-it point where he either rises to Formula One or retreats to something like the ALMS forever, but Bell does this mad scrambling all the time. He has to. More.....

1/30/04

Greg Ray withdraws   IRL IndyCar Series team owner/driver Greg Ray, scheduled to drive for the Risi Competizione sports car team in the Rolex 24 at Daytona Jan. 31-Feb. 1, has withdrawn from the race. "This is a case where my position as an IRL IndyCar Series team owner forces me to look at things through a much broader scope of partnerships and business implications other than just the driver in me who really wanted to experience the Daytona 24-hour race with a team that's capable of winning," said Ray, whose Access Motorsports team will participate in open testing Jan. 28-29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "I feel bad having to withdraw my participation, but my IndyCar effort and partners and related business must take precedence. The offer to drive for Giuseppe (Risi) has been extended for several years now, and hopefully a situation in the future will allow that to happen." IRL IndyCar Series team owner/driver Greg Ray, scheduled to drive for the Risi Competizione sports car team in the Rolex 24 at Daytona Jan. 31-Feb. 1, has withdrawn from the race.

1/30/04

Trans-Am Series to team with Champ Cars at Monterey   Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has confirmed the Motorock Trans-Am Tour will be part of the Grand Prix of Monterey Champ Car World Series weekend, Sept. 10-12 at the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course. The event will mark the return of Trans-Am racing to the Monterey Peninsula after a two-year hiatus. “Trans-Am racing has a history at Laguna Seca dating back to 1969, and we’re excited to return to one of America’s preeminent permanent road courses,” said Motorock Trans-Am Tour Executive Director John Clagett. “From the famous Corkscrew to the Andretti Hairpin, Mazda Raceway will pose a unique challenge to our competitors, giving the fans quite a show.” “We’ve had many requests from our fans to bring Trans-Am back, so we’re obviously delighted to include it on our Grand Prix of Monterey weekend,” said Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca General Manager Gill Campbell.

1/30/04

CART Stars karting draws over 600,000   More than 600,000 households viewed the wild and exciting competition of the Snap-On Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow presenting by RACER this year on the SPEED CHANNEL.

Some of the best wheel-to-wheel racing action on the network was watched by 626,000 households with three hours of original programming and six hours of re-airs in the months of November and December last year on one of the fastest growing cable networks.

Produced by Brian Lockwood Productions of Huntington Beach, Calif., the three one-hour telecasts featured two 60-minute highlight shows from the Bridgestone Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and a one-hour program that featured the best action from the Stars Karting Championships at Moran Raceway in Beaumont, Calif. The telecasts focused on the ICC (125cc shifter) and ICA (100cc direct drive) divisions with many of North America’s best karting stars in action as well as European, South American and Australian racers.

Announcers Leigh Diffey and Tommy Kendall hosted the Stars SPEED telecasts in 2003 with David Stanfield reporting from the pit area and winner’s circle.

A special presentation of the three one-shows will be repeated on Thursday, Feb. 12, from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (EST) on the SPEED CHANNEL. The ICA race from Sonoma will air at 12:30 p.m. followed by the ICC race from Sonoma at 1:30 p.m. and the ICA and ICC action from Moran Raceway at 2:30 p.m.

“The Snap-on Stars of Tomorrow racing was very spectacular racing for the viewers of the SPEED CHANNEL,” said Bobby Rahal, a principal in the Stars program. “I can say that the viewers won’t see this kind of wheel-to-wheel action on the SPEED CHANNEL on a regular basis. They were able to watch some of North America’s best young racing talent battling in tight quarters and swapping positions on every lap. The Stars series produces some of the best racing you will see in North America. We’re pleased to bring the Stars series to the SPEED CHANNEL. It is a great vehicle for the karting sponsors whether it is the series or the racer’s sponsorship.”

Champ Car Stars of Tomorrow TV Viewers in 2003:  Sunday November 23rd, ICA from Sonoma (82,000 Households); Monday November 24th, ICA from Sonoma (9,000 Households); Sunday November 30th, ICC from Sonoma (49,000 Households); Monday December 1st, ICC from Sonoma (80,000 Households); Sunday December 7th, ICA & ICC from Moran (86,000 Households); Monday December 8th; ICA & ICC from Moran (17,000 Households); Sunday December 28th, ICA from Sonoma -- (104,00 Households); Sunday, December 28th, ICC from Sonoma – (109,000 Households); Sunday, December 28th 2 p.m. Eastern ICA & ICC from Moran – (89,000 Households).  TOTAL – 626, 000 Households

1/30/04

Toyota Atlantic Series part of OWRS purchase   As part of Wednesday's decision in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis in which Judge Frank J. Otte awarded assets of CART, Inc. to Open Wheel Racing Series, LLC (OWRS), OWRS partners, Paul Gentilozzi, Kevin Kalkhoven, and Gerald Forsythe have agreed to purchase Pro-Motion Agency, Ltd., which operates the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama.

"I am delighted that OWRS has shown a strong commitment to Toyota Atlantic, and I am very pleased that OWRS has agreed to purchase the series," said Vicki O'Connor, Toyota Atlantic president. "Likewise, I am pleased that Judge Otte provided the opportunity for the series to live on in good health under OWRS. Everyone associated with the Toyota Atlantic Championship-from the series staff to our drivers and teams-has a strong belief in the series and its ability to develop championship-caliber open-wheel racing drivers."

The Toyota Atlantic Championship celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2003, and is widely regarded as the premier open-wheel driver development series in North America. Of the 27 drivers who competed in 2003 Champ Car World Series events, nine had some previous experience in Atlantic competition. In addition, 66 of the 300 drivers who have driven in Champ Car races from 1979 through 2003 had previous Atlantic experience. The series has also produced two Formula 1 World Champions, as well as race- and championship-winning drivers in various other levels of auto racing worldwide.

"Toyota Atlantic is an extremely important part of our plans moving forward," said Gentilozzi. "We're well aware of the series' history of success, and we're committed to seeing the series continue to succeed for many years to come. Toyota Atlantic races will continue to be an integral part of our race weekends, along with Champ Car World Series and Trans-Am racing among other events. The series provides good entertainment and great racing for our fans."

Added Kalkhoven: "This past year, we were reminded once again of Toyota Atlantic's many contributions to our series' talent pool when Ryan Hunter-Reay won at Surfers Paradise. I can assure you that there is a lot more talent where Ryan came from, and we fully intend to have more Toyota Atlantic drivers graduate to Champ Car competition. Likewise, we will continue to promote Toyota Atlantic as a place for talented young racers to develop their skills for many years to come."

1/30/04

Fernández gears up for Champ Car season   Following Wednesday’s announcement that Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS) will take over operations of the Champ Car World Series, Fernandez Racing Co-Owner/Driver Adrian Fernandez wasted no time in getting down to business in preparation for his 12th season of Champ Car competition.

Fernandez and Co-Owner/Managing Director Tom Anderson today confirmed that Fernandez Racing will return for its fourth season of Champ Car competition with Fernandez piloting the #51 Quaker State/Telmex/Tecate Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. The familiar red, white and green machine will also sport the “Visit Mexico” tourism logo this year.

“It has been a long off-season this time around," said Fernandez, “and an emotional rollercoaster for a lot of people. I want to thank Quaker State, Telmex and Tecate for their patience and continued support. I am more than ready to move ahead and focus on our goals for this season, which include challenging for the championship and winning in Mexico.

"It will be great to kick off the season in Long Beach, a race that has become a tradition for us and where the fan support has always been fantastic. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel and start the year off right with a great show in California.”

Fernandez is coming off his best season to date in Champ Car competition since forming Fernandez Racing in the fall of 2000. The Mexican native recorded his eighth career win at Portland last year – his first as an owner/driver – and finished the season with a 13-race point-scoring streak to close the year eighth in the final championship standings.

“I know the #51 team is anxious to get back at it full steam,” added Anderson. “We have a lot of work to do between now and April but will be right on schedule for the first race.

“Now that we have a direction to focus on, we can begin our efforts on a program to field a second car this year.”

Fernandez Racing has experienced minimal personnel change over the winter break, and will once again be led by Team Manager Gustavo del Campo. The team plans to begin its 2004 testing program at Sebring International Raceway in Florida the first week of February.

1/30/04

IRL drivers not happy with new Homestead banking   This Miami Herald article says, During the Ford Championship Weekend in November, it was almost impossible to find a NASCAR driver in Winston Cup, Busch or Craftsman Truck who did not welcome the new variable 20-degree banking in the corners.  But this week during the IRL's first open test of the season, the majority of drivers said they preferred the 1.5-mile oval when its corners had only 6-degree banking.  ''I like it, but I liked it the way it was a little bit better because it was a track you had to set up and drive,'' Marlboro Team Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. said. ``You really had to be on the edge and have the car handling well.  ``The big thing now is drafting and getting it to the right place and being able to make your move at the right point and time.''

1/30/04

Trans-Am Series and SCCA reach agreement over name   Trans-Am Racing, LLC (“TAR”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Open Wheel Racing Series (“OWRS”), has agreed to a licensing arrangement with Sports Car Club of America (“SCCA®”) to continue its use of the Trans-Am® name in the promotion of the Motorock Trans-Am Tour. The naming agreement extends the licensing of Trans-Am’s marketing and promotional rights initiated in 2003. The new contract takes affect immediately. OWRS also owns and operates the Champ Car World Series.

“We are excited to carry forward the Motorock Trans-Am Tour, America’s oldest and most historic sports car racing series,” said Trans-Am Executive Director John Clagett. “This agreement is key to our plans for this season, and into the future. We’re privileged to write another page in the rich history of Trans-Am racing in North America.”

“I have been a part of the Trans-Am Tour as a competitor and team owner since 1987, and I’m eager to continue the Trans-Am legacy,” said OWRS partner Paul Gentilozzi.

“We are dedicated to restoring Trans-Am to its rightful place as North America’s top sports car championship,” added the three-time Trans-Am Drivers’ Champion.

"Trans-Am is not only a part of SCCA's heritage, but a major name in the American automotive industry," said SCCA President and CEO Steve Johnson. "We're happy to have reached an agreement with OWRS, which means the Trans-Am name will carry on with its 39th season in 2004.

"Paul (Gentilozzi) has been an SCCA Champion, member and valued partner for years, and we look forward to continuing our relationship in many areas in the future."

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.

1/30/04

Sunoco signs long-term deal with Grand-Am   Grand American Road Racing Association and Sunoco have announced an agreement that makes Sunoco Race Fuel the official gasoline of Grand American Road Racing for the next 10 years. Under the agreement, Sunoco, the world's largest manufacturer of premium racing gasoline, will provide racing gasoline for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup Series.  "This long term commitment by Sunoco is coming at the perfect time," noted Grand American President Roger Edmondson. "With the emergence of Daytona Prototypes as the long-term vision for sports car racing in America, having a multiyear commitment from our fuel partner is another sign that the direction of the Rolex Sports Car Series and its North American Road Racing Championship is being supported by competitors and suppliers alike."

1/30/04

Trans-Am Series to highlight Trois-Rivières   The Motorock Trans-Am Tour will return to the streets of Trois-Rivières, Quebec the weekend of July 31 to headline the 35th anniversary Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières. The race will mark the 21st time Trans-Am sports cars have competed at the 1.52-mile temporary circuit, making it the longest running temporary event in Trans-Am history.

The first Trois-Rivières Trans-Am race was held in 1976. The Tour returned in 1979 and continued to hold a race each season through 1985. Trans-Am visited Trois-Rivières again in 1990 and staged an event there every year from 1990 through 1999. The series returned last year after a two-year absence.

“Trois-Rivières has been a part of Trans-Am’s history for nearly 30 years, and it has long been a favorite among fans and competitors, alike,” said Motorock Trans-Am Tour Executive Director John Clagett. “The ambiance and energy of the city of Trois-Rivières is just incredible. French Canadians are among the most avid motorsports fans in the world, and they have welcomed us with open arms every year.”

Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières was revived this year by former journalist Jacques Deshaies, after the promoter of last year’s event decided not to continue running the race.

“The return of the Trans-Am Tour is very good news for the city of Trois-Rivières,” said Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières President Jacques Deshaies. “When the former owner of the Grand Prix left, we spoke with the mayor of Trois-Rivières, who said there had to be a race this year. So I put together this organization, and we’re looking forward to an exciting 2004 event.

“Trans-Am puts on a great show,” added Deshaies “The people of Quebec love Trans-Am racing. Plus, we’re looking forward to welcoming some Canadian drivers to compete here.”

1/30/04

Heidfeld signs with Jordan  Nick Heidfeld has signed to drive for Jordan-Ford in the 2004 Formula 1 World Championship. “I am very happy to sign a deal with Jordan-Ford,” said Heidfeld. “It was a strange experience doing the tests, especially the last one in Barcelona, without officially being part of the team, because I really felt like I was already a part of Jordan.

“The last couple of weeks and months have been quite difficult for me so not only am I happy to be signing with Jordan, I'm also relieved.

“It's nice to work with all the people here and I'm looking forward to this season very much. It will be exciting to take the new EJ14 car out next week, after spending today at the factory to do my seat fitting and seeing the 2004 car coming together for the first time.”

“I am carefully putting together a strong driver pairing to complement our 2004 package and sponsorship portfolio and signing Nick is the first part of that,” Eddie Jordan said. “I am optimistic that we have the tools to mount a reasonable contest against the midfield teams this year. Nick is a very quick driver with the talent and experience we need in order to grab every opportunity we can this season.”

1/30/04

George says schedule precluded IRL win   This Indy Star article says, Indy Racing League president Tony George described on Thursday the helpless feeling he experienced Wednesday when a host of race promoters told a federal judge in Indianapolis they couldn't afford to miss staging their races in 2004.  George knew his IRL schedule was set for the season, and only as many as a half-dozen of the former Championship Auto Racing Teams series events could be added in 2005.  That's when he knew his chance to win the bid for bankrupt CART's assets was finished.  "It didn't matter how much we offered," said George, who eventually bid $13.5 million and said he was prepared to offer more. "It would have taken an insane amount of money to prevail.  "We came willing to spend, but we couldn't have done that (level of spending)."  George admitted the IRL was blindsided by the news that CART's parent company loaned the racing division $62 million and wasn't willing to forgive the debt if the bid of the upstart Open Wheel Racing Series group wasn't accepted.  "That drove the cost out of sight for us," George said.

1/30/04

George holds slim hope for Newman/Haas at Indy 500   This Indy Star article says, Tony George put the odds of CART team owner Carl Haas fielding a car in this year's Indy 500 at 30 percent. George doesn't expect CART runner-up Bruno Junqueira to be the driver if it happens.

1/30/04

OWRS was well represented   UPDATE Interesting footnote: Ice Miller the firm that represented the IRL is in the same building.  TG had this to say about his legal eagles: "It was disappointing that we didn't really understand the process."   1/30/04 - The two legal eagles who were instrumental in winning the CART bankruptcy battle for OWRS over the IRL are Jon Polak and Jim Moloy, two EXCEPTIONAL young attorneys with the law firm of Dann Pecar Newman & Kleiman. If CART fans would like to thank them for saving the sport they love, their address is One American Square, Suite 2300, Indianapolis, IN 46282. 

1/30/04
Industry News

Three motorsports greats to be inducted into Hall   NASCAR executive Bill France Jr., road racing and Indy car champion Bobby Rahal and drag racing legend Joe Amato will lead a class of seven racing greats into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America when the organization stages its 16th annual induction ceremony on Thursday, July 29, 2004 at the State Theatre in Detroit.

These three, along with Los Angeles Times racing reporter Shav Glick, multi-class sports car champion Geoff Brabham, driver-designer-builder Don Vesco and 1950 Indy 500 winner Johnnie Parsons will join the 138 racers already enshrined in the Motorsports Hall of Fame.

“From top to bottom, the Class of 2004 is one of the finest we’ve had,” says Ron Watson, President of the Hall of Fame. “Combined, they represent more than 15 major championships, more than 120 major race wins, several land speed records, journalistic excellence and NASCAR’s rise to prominence.”  Tickets for the induction ceremony can be purchased by calling 1-800-RACE (7223).

1/30/04

2004 could be Drissi's year   After finishing the 2003 Motorock Trans-Am Tour on the podium veteran road racer Tomy Drissi will be driving the No. 23 Unitech Racing Nissan 350Z in his 2004 debut during this weekend’s Grand-Am Cup Daytona 250 at Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona 250 which will kick off Daytona and Drissi’s racing season will be contested Friday January 30 at 2:30 pm. Drissi will have his hands full this season, in addition to participating in select Grand-Am events Drissi plans to once again compete in both the Trans-Am Series and the ALMS Series full time. “This is going to be a real learning experience for me this weekend. I consider this my spring training which helps give me get a leg up on my Trans-Am competition this season,” added Drissi, who will also be looking to make his 24 Hour of LeMans debut this season with his ALMS teammate Michael Lewis. “I love racing on road courses, left turns, right turns, elevation changes, hairpins, long straights, short straights, just about everything that challenges a driver's abilities.” Since coming to the Trans-Am series in 1999 Drissi has made a name for himself as a solid competitor. Being awarded Rookie of The Year, winning the Long Beach Grand Prix in 2000 are just a couple of the achievements Drissi has achieved in his young career and 2004 will only be a better and brighter year for him.

1/30/04

Ruling rescues Molson Indy   This Toronto Star article says that the scream of high-powered race cars will pierce the air at Exhibition Place this summer, after all. Organizers of the Molson Indy can now rev up their preparations for the 19th running of the popular event after a U.S. bankruptcy court judge in Indianapolis yesterday awarded the assets of the financially ruined CART circuit to Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS). The group, headed by CART team owners Paul Gentilozzi, Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven, plans to carry on with a series largely made up of road courses. Had the rival Indy Racing League, which runs all of its events on ovals, gained the bid none of the CART events would have taken place this year. The IRL said it would have added three or four non-oval races to its schedule in 2005 and that Toronto likely would have had one of those events. "I'm obviously very happy that the tradition of Molson Indy racing will continue in Canada," said Molson Indy general manager Bob Singleton, who addressed yesterday's hearing. "Now we have to make it the best year ever." More.....

1/30/04

Busch to help with rebuilding project  For three homeowners in Houston, the most anticipated kickoff of this year’s Super Bowl week will take place two days before the game gets underway. Those homeowners look forward to the ninth annual Kickoff to Rebuild, when Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 Sharpie / IRWIN Ford Taurus will join with a team of NFL players, celebrities and IRWIN Industrial Tool Company volunteers on Friday, Jan. 30, 2004 to rehabilitate three houses in the city’s historic Row House District of Ward III. The event is a joint effort of Rebuilding Together, the NFL, and IRWIN, a global manufacturer and distributor of professional grade hand tools and power tool accessories co-sponsoring Kurt Busch for 18 races during the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. More than 8,000 low-income families around the country will be warm, safe and dry in 2004 thanks to these volunteer efforts.

1/30/04

Elliott big part of Budweiser Shootout  How much is Bill Elliott a part of Budweiser Shootout history? It's simple. Out of 25 Shootouts, the tall, red-head driver from Dawsonville, Ga., has competed in all but seven of them, and he has missed only four since making his debut in 1982, the year mullets were cool, Pac Man was hot, and E.T. was becoming America's favorite alien.

In nine days, the quiet man known as Awesome Bill from Dawsonville will be making his 19th start in the Budweiser Shootout, the most of any driver. He holds the distinction of being one of only three drivers to win the Shootout from the pole (1987). Elliott also holds Budweiser Shootout records in the following categories: most miles completed (1,182.5), most laps completed (515) and fastest average speed (197.802 mph in 1987).

The Budweiser Shootout at Daytona will be the first race of a part-time schedule for Elliott in 2004. He announced in the off-season that he would return only on a part-time basis, running a limited slate of races in the No. 91 Evernham Motorsports Dodge. Elliott hopes to compete in 15 events this year, but sponsorship will decide that. As of now, the only confirmed races he'll drive are the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona and the events at Las Vegas and Texas.

"I feel like I can contribute by running in the Budweiser Shootout and be a part of that, and then I'll help (Evernham Motorsports drivers) Jeremy (Mayfield) and Kasey (Kahne) through the Twin 125s and the Daytona 500" Elliott said. "My first goal is to take care of Ray Evernham, and make sure I can contribute whatever I can from my side, and then move on. It's still been very hectic, but when I walked into Daytona for testing, it seemed like I had a whole different mindset towards the season. It's like, Man, I can go out and do different things now. I can look at things differently than I ever had before."

Elliott In the Budweiser Shootout: (Shootout finish in parenthesis)
1982 -- #9 Ford (10)
1983 -- #9 Ford (3)
1985 -- #9 Ford (3)
1986 -- #9 Ford (2)
1987 -- #9 Ford (1)
1988 -- #9 Ford (5)
1989 -- #9 Ford (12)
1990 -- #9 Ford (5)
1991 -- #9 Ford (4)
1992 -- #9 Ford (7)
1993 -- #11 Ford (9)
1994 -- #11 Ford (7)
1995 -- #94 Ford (3)
1996 -- #94 Ford (8)
1998 -- #94 Ford (3)
2001 -- #9 Dodge (12)
2002 -- #9 Dodge (18)
2003 -- #9 Dodge (16)

1/30/04

Doran-Lista to qualify Friday   A miscommunication between Grand American Road Racing Association officials and team managers caused nine cars to be disqualified from the first round of Rolex 24 qualifying at Daytona International Speedway Thursday afternoon. One SGS car, seven GT cars and one Daytona Prototype, the latter being the Doran-Lista Racing entry, were disqualified from the session for failing to meet the deadline for nominations of the qualifying driver. The top 30 positions were set for this weekend's race in the first round of qualifying, so when the Doran-Lista team attempts to qualify tomorrow at 9:45 a.m. during the second qualifying session it will be able to do no better than 31st in the final starting lineup. "We lost our chance for the pole, and now we can start no better than 31st," said Kevin Doran, the team owner. "In a 24-hour race that can be made up, but the chances of being involved in an accident increase exponentially the further back in the field you start," he noted. "We protested the situation but were denied," he added.

1/30/04

Latest F1 News in Brief  

Forget 'Top-3' As Renault Launch R24
Renault To Stretch Dollars On-Track
Pizzonia Sets New Lap Record
Ralf Cancels Test With Stomach-Pains
Teams Conclude Busy Valencia Test
Schu Set To Roll-Out New Ferrari
Zsolt Happy After Century Of Laps
Renault Find Ten-Percent With R24
Money Reflects Success For F1 Team
BAR Look Ahead To New-Car Launch
'Early Days' For Middling New Toyota
F1 Teams Set For $10m Budget-Boost
Renault's New Car Feeds The Masses
Judge Didn't Like Eddie Jordan
A1 Won't Compete With F1: New Series
Bridgestone Leading F1 Tire-War?
R24 Is 'Best Car' Of Symonds' Career  

Alonso Not Looking At Other Teams
Ferrari Prepare For The Future
New Engine To Start With Less Power: Renault
Montoya To Tackle Title With FW26
I'm Ready To Win In F1: Jarno Trulli
EJ: I Can Afford To Be Fussy

1/30/04

Concern over noise levels   A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, I wrote a while back when CART was contemplating going to a normally aspirated engine. Then I said they would be too loud. I can't believe that any city, like Long Beach, would have allowed the noise that those cars make. For that matter, even some of the road courses in the country would be wary of them because of the noise ordinance in effect. Just a random thought.  Brett Crabtree  Dear Brett, A valid concern. However, the sound of a screaming F1 V10 is so incredible, even non-race fans get chills running down their spine.  We have not heard of any race venue ever having noise issues with a F1 race that could not be mitigated.  For those few people who don't like the noise, you can usually offer them a 3-day mini vacation out of the area to a destination of their choice in the USA.  Unless the person is homebound for some reason, most people like the idea of a free vacation.  Others may accept free race tickets and enjoy the festivities.  As we have said repeatedly, a Champ Car has to excite the senses and that starts with an Oh My God What Was That sound.  Mark C.

1/30/04

Reader thinks one series is needed   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I am overjoyed that OWRS was able to turn back the attempted power play of Our Good Friend Tony George. The judge used excellent judgment and stayed neutral in rendering a very just decision.

Here's my take on why OWRS won: The Champ Car fans. Despite all the hype and media blitz that supported the IRL, the fact is that the fan base is much stronger with the Champ Cars. The IRL can't draw fans beyond Indy and Texas (Fontana being particularly pathetic), whereas Champ Cars still brings in fans virtually wherever they go. When the judge looked at that, plus at how the local economies, jobs-both at the venues and race teams plus organizational structure-would be affected, plus potential litigation over cancelled venues Tony G. had no intention of going to, this was a slam dunk for OWRS. Tony G. didn't have a prayer. That old adage really pays off here, FOLLOW THE MONEY. With the IRL, that money would dry up; with OWRS, that money will keep Champ Car going for 2004 and beyond.

Mark (pun intended) my words, and you heard it here first, the lack of fans at non-Indy IRL events will catch up with George sooner or later. Sooner or later, Toyota and Honda will tire of displaying their technology in front of partially filled stands and anemic TV ratings. The IRL (hell, Champ Cars, too, but this will get better) is having trouble now keeping teams in the game right now. Tony G., by virtue of his three headline events at IMS, can afford to keep the IRL afloat for quite some time, but if nobody comes save for Indy, just how important will he be in open wheel racing? Even Indy didn't sell out until race day, unheard of just a few years ago.

My other prediction is that open wheel will continue to lag behind NASCAR to the point where Tony G. will finally realize he can't have absolute control of American open wheel racing, and that he'll have to work something to get it all under one roof. Make no mistake, he wanted absolute control, and to put his fingerprints on CART's death. He'll get neither. If he wants to "protect Indy", he'll have to come to the table and work out an equitable agreement. That remains the only way to save open wheel racing.  Mark J. Chavous 

Dear Mark, We agree it would make sense to merge the two companies into one at some point.  However, this notion of dropping some of IRL's ovals and some of CART's road courses and having one series is pure folly.  Too much would be lost.  Our proposal would be for the IRL to dump their dreadful crapwagons and adopt whatever the new Champ Car spec car is going to be in 2005 or 2006 so both series can have a common car.  Then, under one company there can be a road racing division and an oval division.  Each division would crown a 15-race champion in early September and then Open Wheel Racing would have their version of a "playoff" (a la NASCAR and every other sport in this world) between the two divisions.  The top 10 drivers from both divisions would start with a clean slate of points, with first place from the Regular season starting with 50 points, 2nd 45 points, etc. down to 5 points for the 10th place finisher from the regular season.  Then there would be a 4-race playoff (2 ovals, 2 road courses) between the 20 drivers to crown an overall champion.  The other drivers from both series can still race in the final four events, but they could not be crowned champion.  That will make news and generate some excitement.  And with the deep hatred that has developed between the CART and IRL fans over the split, the playoffs would generate a huge interest, something open wheel racing so desperately needs, and some good old bragging rights and chest beating by the overall champion. Mark C.

1/30/04

Uncertainty over Long Beach television   This Long Beach Press Telegram article says, The 2004 Grand Prix will take the same form as last year's race. The five races the Champ Car World Series, Toyota Atlantic Championship, Trans-Am Series, Toyota Pro Celebrity Race and Historic Grand Prix will all be back. But it was unclear Wednesday whether the race would be televised. "A number of things need to be addressed in a very short timeframe,' Michaelian said. "We are prepared to help them spread the word that Champ Car is back.'

1/29/04

Pizzonia breaks lap record at Valencia  Antonio Pizzonia beat Juan Pablo Montoya's day-old unofficial lap record at Valencia on the final day of testing today, setting a record time in last year's Williams FW25.

The Brazilian, who is rumored to land the role of second test driver with the team, smashed Montoya's time from yesterday by 0.193s, lowering the record time to 1m09.123s. Pizzonia set his time in the FW25, although he also drove Williams' 2004 machine after Ralf Schumacher returned home to Austria early with abdominal pain.

"It's not bad," Pizzonia told autosport.com regarding his stunning lap. "Now we have a problem because we have to make the new car faster than the old one! It was a shame that I couldn't do more laps in the new car, but I had a differential problem."

Valencia test times day three (unofficial)
Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Antonio Pizzonia Williams-BMW M 1m09.123s 60
2 Michael Schumacher Ferrari B 1m09.407s 93
3 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m10.440s 89*
4 Giancarlo Fisichella Sauber-Petronas B 1m10.469s 59*
5 Jenson Button BAR-Honda M 1m10.473s 92
6 Christian Klien Jaguar M 1m10.897s 101*
7 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m11.301s 89*
8 Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda M 1m11.715s 98
9 Zsolt Baumgartner Minardi-Cosworth B 1m13.317s 103

1/29/04

Pruett gives Toyota pole for Rolex 24   Scott Pruett put the No. 01 CompUSA Lexus Riley of Chip Ganassi Racing on the pole for the 42nd anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Pruett set a new Daytona Prototype track record with his 1:45.783 lap at 121.154 mph, shaving more than four seconds off the previous record held by David Donohue.   More......

1/29/04

Saving Champ Car saved 100's of jobs   In this Autosport.com article, "Now we can stop worrying about all that and go racing," said OWRS co-principal Kevin Kalkhoven, who hosted a celebration party Thursday night at CART headquarters on Indianapolis' northwest side.

Judge Otte stated that in his own research, he determined that between 300 and 460 industry jobs would be lost aside from the 45 people employed by CART. Outside sources believe the overall number of jobs lost would be closer to 1,000.

"Kevin did his part to keep CART afloat," said Russell Cameron, team manager for Kalkhoven's PK Racing. "If those 18 teams blew up, maybe four CART cars would have gone to the IRL. All along he seemed very confident that OWRS had the best solution for everyone involved. It's good that the judge saw it that way because there are a lot of people who believe in Champ Car racing.

"Thank God there are people like Kevin," Cameron added. "Look back to the '70s at why CART was formed. It was a group of enthusiastic team owners who wanted a better way. It's a good product, top-level racing with a lot of diversity. Kevin and his group have a rough road in front of them. It's a complex business, but he wants to see it succeed."

1/29/04

Tony George admits they were not prepared in court   In this Autosport.com article, Tony George says, "It would have taken an insane amount of money for us to prevail," said George. "That wasn't totally apparent to us until very late in the process. The creditors probably got the best deal that they could get. At least there was someone there to bid to cause them to offer more than they originally did. Now they've got a whole new set of issues to deal with. Sometimes you've got to be careful what you wish for; it just might come true."

In his first extensive public discussion about Wednesday's case in an Indianapolis federal court, George said he still believes open-wheel racing will come under one banner. He also reiterated the IRL's intent to hold 20 races in 2005, indicating the four new races will be on road or street courses.

George said he went into court expecting to outbid the OWRS leaders - Gerald Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi and Kevin Kalkhoven - for CART's assets. However, when Otte took into consideration that CART would waive a $62million loan if the judge awarded the assets to OWRS, George realized that he would have to spend more than expected to outbid them.

"It was disappointing that we didn't really understand the process," George said. "I don't know if it was intentional or unintentional, but I don't think we knew the parameters of what we were dealing with. Some of the things that were thrown up as impediments in the last 24 to 36 hours were clearly not good signs. We had to see the thing through to the end. We were willing to spend a sizable amount of money, but it didn't matter how much money we had."

George insisted he was attempting to unify the genre, not destroy one side. "I don't think we did more damage," he said. "CART was bankrupt. The judge, looking out for the creditors, wanted another bidder. It was a pre-packaged deal. There no doubt that eventually open-wheel racing will be run under one banner. That would make sense. I can speak for everyone in this [the IRL] paddock in saying that this is in the best interest. I can't speak for everybody in CART. We tried to make the argument that there would be opportunity for the teams, sponsors and promoters here."

1/29/04

Cheever predicts OWRS demise   IRL team owner Eddie Cheever is at it again.  This Autosport article says, Eddie Cheever has predicted that the Champ Car World Series will continue to struggle under new owner OWRS, and that the eventual demise of the series is "inevitable."  Cheever predicted an early end for OWRS, stating: "I believe that it's inevitable. I'm sure a lot of fans of either side or people on their teams will say that it's arrogant for me to say it's inevitable. But I don't really see how you can compete against the IRL. And, in many ways, against NASCAR.  "I feel like all they've really done is to prolong the agony of watching them flounder around for another 12 or 24 months or however long it takes. Everybody was looking forward to the fact that there was going to be one series. It looks like it might take a little more time than we thought."  [Editor's Note:  Eddie's been saying this since 1995.  Now, 9 years later and the Champ Car Series is still in business and outdrawing the IRL series he touts at the box office and on network TV]

1/29/04

Milwaukee Mile issues statement   "The ruling in favor of the Open Wheel Racing Series yesterday regarding the CART assets means it is status quo in The Milwaukee Mile's efforts to promote world-class open wheel racing.   "We contemplated and discussed various scenarios preparing for the outcome. We now move forward with a renewed enthusiasm, knowing for certain The Milwaukee Mile will renew the tradition started one year ago of hosting Champ Car World Series racing events at night.   "With great anticipation, The Milwaukee Mile is very pleased to be a racing venue offering its fans the ability to witness both the exciting competition of the Champ Car World Series June 3-5 and the stars of the Indy 500 competing in the IRL IndyCar Series July 23-25."

1/29/04

Sebring ticket sales on record pace  Advance sales for the 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring are up more than 21 percent from last year and are on course to break the event's all-time attendance mark that was set for the 50th anniversary race in 2002, track officials have announced. The event will open the 2004 season for the American Le Mans Series.

"We've been delighted with advance sales for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring," said Tres Stephenson, President of Sebring International Raceway. "With special prices in place, more people are taking advantage and buying early."

Advance prices will be in effect until February 29, Stephenson said.

"We are also seeing a lot of first-time buyers," he said. "That's a good indication of the growing popularity of the American Le Mans Series and the international stature of Sebring. These people have heard about the event or have seen it on TV and want to experience Sebring for themselves.

"As always at Sebring, there are so many items of interest for the fans," Stephenson said. "The return of Danny Sullivan, the All-Female racing team, the new and interesting cars and drivers … plus the fun atmosphere that is Sebring. All of those things have created more interest in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring."

The 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will get the green flag at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 20. Ticket information is available online at www.sebringraceway.com or by calling (863) 655-1442 (toll-free 800-626-RACE).

1/29/04

Ralf cleared to drive after scare  Germany's Ralf Schumacher will resume Formula One testing with Williams in Spain next week despite being taken to hospital on Thursday suffering from a stomach problem.  A team spokesman said the driver, younger brother of Ferrari's six times world champion Michael, had returned home to Salzburg in Austria after seeing doctors in Valencia.  "He has seen his own doctors now and it's his lower stomach," he said. "He's been given something for it and he will be in the car again in Barcelona on Monday testing again."

1/29/04

Champ Car community voices its support   The open-wheel racing world received a shot of stability Wednesday afternoon with the ruling from the Honorable Frank J. Otte in U.S. Bankruptcy Court which awarded the assets of the Champ Car World Series, including race contracts for the upcoming season, to the owners of Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS). That ruling ensured that Champ Car will continue competition in 2004 and beyond, bringing its unique brand of turbocharged open-wheel racing to its multitudes of fans around the globe. The members of the Champ Car community, including drivers, team owners, sponsors and promoters, voiced their support of the decision on Thursday and what follows are quotes from many of those involved in the series.  Quotes

1/29/04

Few highlights from OWRS teleconference   OWRS principals Paul Gentilozzi and Kevin Kalkhoven held a teleconference today with the media.  Here are a few tidbits:

  • Feb 12th closing date for transaction to take control of assets.  Then will put out TV and race schedule right after that.

  • Champ Car World Series will be official name -- will amplify on that name

  • 18 cars - teams are now finalizing deals.  Will be racing in less than 90 days

  • Tony spoke to Paul midday yesterday and spoke to both Paul and Kevin after hearing

  • 5-year plan no plan to merge, but to grow series.

  • Believe will be able to operate within budget in 5-year plan - including TV and prize monies.

  • Forsythe has been part of all planning process, though absent from public events

  • Want to be on a consistent network at a consistent time. Live or as close to live as possible. Focus marketing effort on new fans. Looking at creative programming with creative ideas. Deal with a TV partner and does not look at us as a victim

  • Take a macro view. Conflict and drama among people. Need partners who can portray conflicts between people. NASCAR has done a great job of making drivers stars - conflicts and personality

  • $7 to 8 million people watching worldwide Champ Car each race.

  • Guaranteed prize money to teams, no subsidies. Economy is improving and new sponsors coming onboard.  Discussions have been hot and heavy all day long, including new ones.

  • Major media and testing Spring Training at least 6 weeks before LB. Four series - Champ Car, Toyota Atlantic, Trans-Am and one other support series (Formula BMW).

  • Kalkhoven spoke to Pollock yesterday

  • No race in Miami of course. Florida race will probably be St. Pete.

  • Champ Cars have not done good job of exposing personalities. Every race is a story and every story needs characters stated Kevin.

  • St. Pete move back to earlier in spring in 2005

  • OWRS will control TV production

  • Europe - not closing the door on Europe

1/29/04

Tony George a gracious loser   UPDATE  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, First, I want to let you know that I read your site about twice or three times a day. You do a very good job with it. Now, let me get to the point. How can someone be called a gracious loser when in the same day you have the following comments from him? "I wish them well," George said while surrounded by media on the front steps of the courthouse. "They're going to have a big job. . . . It wasn't our day. Today, it was their day."....."I felt we had an opportunity to unite open wheel racing," he said. "But I'm not interested in any kind of merger now that they've got those assets. I'm not interested in giving up the equity we've got in the IRL." So what?  It's either me at the top or who cares about open wheel racing?  Roberto Jourdain  1/28/04 - This Indy Star article says, Moments after Otte rendered his verdict, evoking cheers from many in the audience of about 90 [Try 200], George approached Paul Gentilozzi, one of three partners in the Open Wheel Racing Series group whose bid was accepted, and offered his congratulations. "I wish them well," George said while surrounded by media on the front steps of the courthouse. "They're going to have a big job. . . . It wasn't our day. Today, it was their day."  [Editor's Note:  If Tony had not started the IRL CART would still be right up there challenging NASCAR and getting stronger.  If Tony had used 25% of the money he has spent so far on the IRL to own and field 6 or so Champ Cars each year for American drivers, we would not be where we are today.  There is one major difference that keeps the two sides apart - one side feels "Indy Car" racing should be run on ovals and the other side road courses.  Ovals have proven to be inhumane to the drivers (numerous serious injuries), but everyone has the right to choose, and now they can - IRL or Champ Cars, ovals or road courses.]

1/29/04

Surfers race back on track  This Australian article says, QUEENSLAND Deputy Premier Terry Mackenroth has welcomed the decision of a US bankruptcy judge which has secured the future of the Gold Coast Indy car race. Rival consortiums were competing for the assets of the defunct CART series but an Indianapolis court ruled in favour of the Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS) bid. OWRS was committed to maintaining the series which features the Gold Coast race while the rival bid would have seen many of the races cancelled. "This is great news for the Gold Coast and great news for Queensland," said Mackenroth. "The owners of OWRS have declared the Gold Coast Indy the 'jewel in the crown' of the series and are strongly committed to the future of this successful event." He said planning for the 2004 Gold Coast Indy is now back on track.

1/29/04

Jimmy Spencer speaks, slams Toyota  UPDATE This San Antonio newspaper article sheds more light on Spencer's anti-Toyota comments.  1/28/04 - Jimmy Spencer is a self-admitted God-fearing, flag waving, patriotic good ole boy who isn’t about to succumb to an attitude of political correctness. Asked to comment during the Texas Motor Speedway Media Day on the addition of Toyota to competition on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Spencer replied, “Don’t forget those %#& bombed Pearl Harbor.”).   Spencer, driving the #7 Dodge owned by Jim Smith, is facing a year of uncertainty while the team tries to secure sponsorship.  “We’re planning to run the bigger paying races,” said Spencer, “We’ll run Daytona, Indy, Las Vegas, Texas and Bristol, because I love to race there. We won’t go to the low paying races because we won’t be able to commit to a run for the championship.”  Spencer admits the team has some prospects that satisfy the guidance set down by NASCAR. NASCAR has in the past, and still does, restrict certain products and/or companies from gracing the sheet metal of a racecar.  In the meantime, Spencer will try to resurrect his Busch Series team, help his son run some short track events in the local area and shoot out the one-liners like no one else on the circuit.
Spencerisms:

Safer Walls - The greatest invention to happen in NASCAR racing. I hit the (SAFER) wall in Richmond and didn’t even realize it.

“Chase for the Championship” – If Dale senior was alive he’d win 12 straight championships. The point system the last couple of years was boring. This is a good thing. The next step is to change the schedule to cover all regions of the country over the last ten races. Who wants to go to Darlington in November?

Hitting Kurt Busch – What I did at Michigan was wrong. I apologize. Next question.

NASCAR – This chair is crooked!

Road Races – What I did when I was younger and running from the cops.

Brian France – The future of our sport. A visionary just like his father.

His biggest pet peeve in the garage – My biggest problem is with drivers who won’t give the media time. I am upset that writers have to schedule time to get an interview. You need to respect the media.  Stan Creekmore

1/29/04

Canuck drivers elated by OWRS win  This Toronto Sun article says, All of a sudden the off-season sacrifices and training made sense yesterday for Patrick Carpentier. Carpentier, who is in the final year of a contract with Forsythe Racing, said he had questioned whether his preparations for the 2004 CART season meant anything as the series was locked in a war for its very existence with Tony George and the IRL.

"I was training on the bike (yesterday) and I asked myself 'Am I training for something or for nothing?' " Carpentier said from his Las Vegas home.

Carpentier, a native of Joliette, Que., wasn't all that confident the Open Wheel Racing Series bid would be enough to convince a judge to allow CART to survive. "When (George) made the bid for $13.5 million US it didn't look very good," Carpentier said. "I think it was a shame he was bidding to close the series. I am going to have wine with dinner (last night) to celebrate this victory."

Toronto's Paul Tracy -- Carpentier's teammate at Forsythe -- will now be able to defend both his season championship and his win at the 2003 Toronto Molson Indy. Tracy had told his agent that if the IRL had won the court-ordered auction, he would not have raced in the series this season.

Canada's third driver in the series -- Alex Tagliani of Montreal -- was jumping for joy at the news yesterday. "Champ Car has come out on top where it belongs," Tagliani said. "So when do we go testing?"

1/29/04

Co-Sponsors for Roush team  Roush Racing today announced that Sharpie’ Markers and IRWIN’ Industrial Tools will be "co-primary" sponsors of its #97 Ford Taurus driven by Kurt Busch in the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Both Sharpie and IRWIN Industrial Tools are brands of Newell Rubbermaid (NYSE: NWL), which has been a supporter of the team since 2001. Sharpie and IRWIN Industrial Tools will split time on the car throughout the season. The new black and metallic colors of Sharpie will adorn the car for 18 of the season's 36 races, beginning in the season-opening Daytona 500 on February 15. The blue and yellow IRWIN Industrial Tools car will compete in 18 events, beginning at North Carolina Speedway on February 22. IRWIN will also sponsor the car in the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge event in May. "We've got two bold new looks and a brand new attitude for '04," says Busch, who has won eight races over the last two seasons. "We're focused on the job at hand and hope to take two great sponsors - Sharpie and IRWIN - to our first championship."

1/29/04

Goody's renews with NASCAR  Headache power brand Goody’s has renewed its sponsorship deal with NASCAR. The firm will continue to be the ‘official pain reliever’ of the sport – a deal it has had in place for the past 27 years, making it the longest serving non-automotive sponsor of NASCAR. Said Darren Singer, vice president of marketing for GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, maker of Goody's: "The action-packed sport with its emphasis on close competition and fast cars is a perfect fit for Goody's, a brand that is all about speed.”

1/29/04

Despite troubles, CART remained more popular than IRL  This LA Times article says, The contentious relationship between Indy-style racing's sanctioning bodies will continue with apparently little chance for a unified series anytime soon. A United States bankruptcy judge in Indianapolis on Wednesday awarded assets of Championship Auto Racing Teams to an upstart group of owners trying to keep the series alive......The decision was a setback to Tony George, president of the Indy Racing League Indycar Series, whose bid on some of CART's assets might have finally killed off the series and given the U.S. only one major Indy-style form of racing..........Had Otte sided with the IRL, the CART series would have been dead and the IRL would have won the open wheel war that began in 1996 when George formed his all-oval series.

Instead, CART has new life under the leadership of Gentilozzi, who told The Times on Wednesday that he expects to announce a television package within about seven days, announce a new team with an American driver — probably Carl Russo's team with driver A.J. Allmendinger — within two weeks, and also announce at least two new international races. A likely candidate for one of those races is Korea.

"That really is our angle of attack as we move forward," Gentilozzi said. "We're going to be a good multinational series." He added that there definitely would be 18 cars on the grid, a 16-race schedule, and that there will be championships within the championship, such as crowning series champions for the respective Mexican, Canadian and American races.

Gentilozzi added, "I have zero interest in going to Fontana," which has been the site of CART's season finale............George's insistence in 1996 on reserving 25 spots for IRL drivers in the 33-car field of the Indianapolis 500 created a wide rift with CART. Most established teams remained in CART, where the champion is crowned after competing in road, street and oval courses. Two years ago, team owner Roger Penske left CART for the IRL, and last year Chip Ganassi and Michael Andretti followed. In the race for corporate sponsorship, the IRL had taken a hefty lead.

But CART, created in 1979, remained more popular at the turnstiles — except for the Indy 500 — and enjoyed successful followings in Canada, Mexico and Australia. It became a publicly traded firm in 1998. [Editor's Note: CART also remained more popular on Network TV, with it's CBS ratings last year better than the IRL's on ABC]

1/29/04

OWRS win good news for Denver GP  This Denver Post article says, An Indianapolis bankruptcy judge's ruling Wednesday gave Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS) its first checkered flag, a ruling that likely will ensure the Grand Prix of Denver will be run in August. Judge Frank J. Otte accepted OWRS' bid of about $3 million to continue the Champ Car World Series. The Indy Racing League had a $3.3 million proposal, which would have picked from CART's most attractive assets and returned elite-level North American open-wheel racing to a single series.

"We will immediately ask the City and County of Denver to approve OWRS as our new sanctioning body and to approve our new race date (Aug. 13-15)," Grand Prix of Denver general manager John Frew said in a statement. "Once done, we will initiate ticket sales and get on with the business of staging a great race weekend." If the IRL had won, the Grand Prix of Denver would have died because the IRL said it would not consider racing twice in Colorado. The IRL, which only bid on one CART race contract (Long Beach, Calif.), has competed at Pikes Peak International Raceway since 1997.

After a two-year run (1990-91), the Denver Grand Prix, which was a CART event run on streets near the state capitol, ended because of promoter bankruptcy. The newer CART race has seemingly escaped bankruptcy from its sanctioning body and is tentatively scheduled to take place for the third consecutive year around the Pepsi Center.

OWRS partner Paul Gentilozzi said his group, made up of three CART car owners, will begin racing in Long Beach in April and will honor all existing contracts.

OWRS is expected to appoint a CEO and rename its organization, but keep the "Champ Car World Series," a name that was developed before the 2003 season. "We are all acutely aware of the responsibility we now bear for the Champ Car community and we, along with everyone else in the series, will strive to exceed our expectations every day," OWRS partner Kevin Kalkhoven said.

1/29/04

IRL won't get chance to pull plug on CART  This Indy Star article says, Tony George's bid to put his main competitor out of business failed Wednesday when a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved the sale of bankrupt Championship Auto Racing Teams to a group intent on keeping the series alive.

George began the day hoping to make his Indy Racing League the only game in town. He ended it a gracious loser after his $13.5 million bid was rejected by Judge Frank J. Otte at the end of a daylong hearing in a packed courtroom at the Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse. Moments after Otte rendered his verdict to cheers from many in the audience of about 90, George approached Paul Gentilozzi, one of three partners in the Open Wheel Racing Series group whose $3.2 million cash bid was accepted, and offered his congratulations.

"I wish them well," George said while surrounded by media on the front steps of the courthouse. "They're going to have a big job. . . . It wasn't our day. Today, it was their day." Gentilozzi was confident throughout the process that his group would prevail. "It was a tough deal. We knew all along what we believed," Gentilozzi said. "It keeps this alive, and it shows the series has significant value."

1/29/04

Reaction from IRL paddock on OWRS win  This Indy Star article gives the reaction from the IRL paddock where the series is holding a preseason test down in Homestead, Florida. As you can imagine, most were not happy because they expected Tony George to prevail and then cherry-pick CART's best races. We predicted that would not happen. Roger Penske said it best, "just get on with it."

1/29/04

Reader feedback on OWRS win over IRL  We received so many emails from readers, mostly CART fans, expressing their happiness that Open Wheel Racing Series, LLC won the bid yesterday to take over the Champ Car World Series. Comments ranged from "good won over evil," "the Good Guys won today," "thanks for all the great coverage today," "when I opened AutoRacing1.com and saw the news it was the happiest day of my life." A few emails did say they were sorry to not see a unified series but realized it was impossible to achieve given the two distinct visions of what open wheel racing should be.  One in particular stood out - Many thanks for your great coverage of yesterday's courtroom showdown - one very relieved CART fan here... What makes me laugh is how Tony George and his fellow clowns spoke at great length about unification, lost the bid and then told any journalist within earshot that "any chance of unification was killed off last night". George himself is today quoted in numerous press releases saying that he "felt we had an opportunity to unite open wheel racing but I'm not interested in any kind of merger now that they've got those assets." Surely journalists at the Indianapolis Star, among others, must realize that his intention was never for unification, especially after a quote like that. I would have thought that the details of the IRL's bid would make it clear that closing Champ Cars down was the IRL's only interest. If Tony was so intent on unification, what's now stopping him from knocking on OWRS's door for a chat... Anyone who's followed the sorry IRL saga can see that Tony has always wanted to be the only game in town. What the IRL and their allies still fail to realize is that most Champ Car fans don't want unification, merely for Champ Cars to be left in peace and without interference from Tony. I love Champ Cars because I get to watch talented drivers battle each other on some great circuits. I don't get turned on by oval racing. I cringe when I hear a rookie driver - who's visiting Indy for the first time - say that the speedway is "easy flat" and that he had no trouble getting a good time. Motorsport is not supposed to be like that - it's supposed to be challenging and, while it's always going to be dangerous, it's not supposed to be a meat-wringer where drivers are continually ending up in the emergency room. I salute the members of OWRS and thank them for saving the world's greatest open-wheel series. I hope that they have a fantastic '04 season. I don't watch the IRL's races so I don't really care what sort of season they have - I only hope that most of their drivers manage to avoid a visit to the hospital...Many thanks, Andrew Crean

1/29/04

NEXTEL unveils logo  NEXTEL, which is sponsoring pre-race revelry leading up to the prestigious Daytona 500 on Feb. 15, unveiled the logo for its world-class, first-of-its-kind pre-race show at Daytona International Speedway. The NEXTEL-sponsored pre-race extravaganza, the culmination of events leading up to NASCAR's most prestigious race, will be entitled the Nextel Tribute to America and will feature nearly 4,000 cast members on the Speedway's historic five acre tri-oval grass. The show's finale will feature Grammy Award Winning Musician, Lee Greenwood singing his marquee track, "God Bless the USA". The NEXTEL Tribute to America logo is decorated with stars and stripes as well as the 2004 Daytona 500 logo and the logo for NBC Sports, which is televising both the pre-race show and the 46th annual Daytona 500. Additional performers and dynamic special effects will give the show a Super Bowl halftime-type atmosphere with an NBC-produced video montage of Great American Icons throughout history. The show, produced by Q&A Entertainment will arguably include a larger cast than any show of its kind at any sporting event. The pre-race spectacle will be followed by Hollywood actor, director and writer Ben Affleck giving the most famous command in motorsports, "Gentlemen start your engines."

1/29/04

Construction projects underway at Bristol  A variety of ongoing construction projects geared toward enhancing fans' Bristol experience, continues to keep workers busy as the venue's 2004 season rapidly approaches. Projects include a new building complete with ticket office, gift shop, Fan Zone and banquet facilities. Also, a new infield video and scoring tower and a fan care center with handicap-accessible restrooms make the project list. In addition to office space, the 36,000 sq. ft. building will see the entire first floor constructed with fans chief in mind. Covering 17,336 sq. ft., the first floor will feature a lobby area, guest services center, new ticket office and souvenir shop with four times the square footage as the current store. Also, the interactive Fan Zone will provide visitors the opportunity to learn more about Bristol Motor Speedway, the Dragway and the history of motorsports as it relates to Bristol. The Fan Zone, open year-round, will feature touch screen video and audio kiosks, a motorsports art gallery, show cars, driving simulators and much more. The third floor will consist of an indoor (7,251 sq. ft.) banquet and meeting room as well as an outdoor terrace (2,272 sq. ft.) for community activities. Officials expect a July completion on the building. Ready for the upcoming March race weekend, a new 120-ft. tall video and scoring tower will grace the Speedway infield. Topped with four 20' x 27' jumbo screens, fans will see every dramatic replay from on-track action as well as pre-race activities and victory lane celebrations. The tower, boasting a four-sided state-of-the-art LED lighting system, also will track the top-twelve running positions, with two additional spots that will scroll through the remainder of the race's running order. "Construction simply has become a way of life during the off-season here at Bristol," said BMS Operations Vice President Scott Hatcher. "We continue to strive to improve our facility for our fans and 2004 will be witness to several such projects."  Located just outside the Kulwicki Grandstand and near the souvenir vending area, fans will find new Fan Care Center with handicap-accessible restrooms. "We've needed such a structure in this high-traffic area for some time," said Hatcher. "Plenty of fans have voiced their desire for permanent restrooms near the souvenir vendors and with this project, we've been able to provide this convenience for them." Other construction projects in the works include a new ticket booth at Gate 8, re-routing power lines in the display area, a new bridge in Hospitality Village and new gate signage, some of which will be in place for the March race weekend. Fans also can look for a new Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway marquee sign at the venue's main entrance later this year. Additionally, construction will reach beyond the fans with the addition of a new infield hospital in 2004. Later this year Bristol Dragway will see new grandstands constructed for the Thunder Valley Club in addition to the new concrete pad on the dragway's starting line, which now is in place. "A tremendous amount of money has been re-invested into Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway since Speedway Motorsports, Inc., purchased the facilities," said BMS President Jeff Byrd. "We will continue to take the necessary steps to better our facility and increase the quality of our fans' experience. "Our fans have been so supportive of our efforts over the years and they deserve the finest facilities at both the Speedway and the Dragway," said Byrd. "Many of our construction projects are a result of our fans telling us specifically what they want and we encourage our fans to continue helping us help them."

1/29/04

Network TV to again lose money on NASCAR  This article states that Network TV will lose $110M on NASCAR this year, along with reams of more money on stick and ball sports.  Before long, even NASCAR could be doing time buys on TV a la CART...or as a minimum, see a big reduction in TV money it receives when its contract is up for renewal.

1/29/04

$10 million for primary Cup car sponsor  Sports Business Journal reports that Home Depot and Interstate Batteries each pay $10 million annually for sponsorship of Joe Gibbs NASCAR team cars. It also revealed Gibbs’s racing organization is owned 49 percent each by his sons, 34-year-old J.D. and 31 year-old Coy, with Joe and his wife Pat each owning one percent.

1/29/04

Latest F1 News in Brief  

Lap Records Tumble At Valencia
Pizzonia Returns To Williams Car
Baumgartner Endures Trying Minardi Debut
Coulthard Vows To Get 'Proactive'
No Cash, Pace, Leaves Firman In Dark
Jaguar's 'Pang' Of F1-Jealousy
Renault Can Claim 2004 Titles: Briatore
Champ Car Remains F1's Road-Racing Rival
Theissen: Has One-Engine Rule Cut Costs?
Ferrari To Answer Critics On Track
Jordan To Hire British F1 Driver?
Ferrari President Runs For Chairman

1/29/04

Why it's a new game now   Many have questioned how OWRS can make the Champ Car Series successful when others before them failed and when there remains the split between IRL and Champ Cars.  Before CART was ruled by committee, a Franchise Board and an Executive Board (Delaware Board).  It was hard to reach agreement on anything.  However, with just Forsythe, Kalkhoven and Gentilozzi calling the shots, already we are seeing swift and decisive action.  Long Beach objected to the OWRS bid, it was fixed in two days.  Laguna Seca and Road America were in limbo, they settled tonight in little more than an hour and both will have a race, just like that.  Emerson Fittipaldi needed a shop and cars, Kalkhoven bought him the entire Pat Patrick operation! The IRL defeated CART in all prior battles, stealing teams, sponsors, drivers and races. They almost plucked the CART paddock dry.  Today they suffered their first real defeat at the hands of some very wealthy, intelligent and shrewd businessmen. It's a new game now.  Mark C.

1/28/04

Tony George admits future will be a struggle   This SPEEDTV article says, In the end it wasn't about cash money, long-term business plans, the ability to produce 18 cars or what was good for the future of open wheel racing in the United States. It simply came down to choosing life instead of death.

Despite a bid of $13.5 million from Indy Racing League founder Tony George to buy out his rival, Judge Frank Otte decided that Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS) could give the creditors of Championship Auto Racing Teams a better deal.  And the drivers, mechanics and employees of CART were, in turn, spared from going on the unemployment line.

"I realize there are no guarantees here and I also recognize there are second chances and that's what we're about," said Judge Frank Otte after ruling that Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS) had won the bid over the Indy Racing League to buy the assets of Championship Auto Racing Teams and continue the series in 2004. "It's the survival of an entity vs. the end of it, that's the issue.

"Based on the information I've heard and, knowing full well we have another side in this matter, I feel like the best business judgment is to approve the sale and asset transfer to OWRS.

"These men feel like they can breathe new life into this series and they can compete with the IRL. The IRL doesn't believe they can do that. Hopefully, they can have a new grade of life."  George, whose all-oval track series begins its ninth season next month at Homestead, Fla., was after CART's top American venue, the Long Beach Grand Prix, and its other physical assets -- including its Cosworth engines.

"Obviously, we're disappointed," said the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "We were prepared to make a winning bid and we knew it would take a lot of money so we brought our checkbook.

"But in the end we didn't have the right currency. Today was about creditors and the money owed by CART."

George contended it was a missed opportunity.

"I felt we had an opportunity to unite open wheel racing," he said. "But I'm not interested in any kind of merger now that they've got those assets. I'm not interested in giving up the equity we've got in the IRL.

"With the economy it's going to be tough to have two series in open wheel racing and by us not being successful today our work will continue to be a challenge but we're up to it. And we still intend to go road racing in the future."  [Editor's Note:  Why go road racing Tony?  Stick to the ovals and let OWRS stick to the road courses. Stay out of each other's hair and coexist peacefully.]

1/28/04

Road America and CART reach agreement   Road America and the Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS) reached an agreement this evening to hold the 23rd consecutive Champ Car race at the historic race track the weekend of Aug. 5-8, 2004 during the Grand Prix of Road America., according to George Bruggenthies, president and general manager. "We've reached an agreement for the 2004 Champ Car race," said George Bruggenthies, president and general manager. "We're delighted that fans can start making summer racing plans that include both Road America and Champ Cars in August." Terms of the one-year contract were not disclosed. Other series slated to compete during the Grand Prix weekend include Motorock Trans-Am Tour for the BF Goodrich Cup, Toyota Atlantic, a Barber Dodge Pro Series Doubleheader and Formula BMW. Road America had objected to CART selling its contract in violation of the stipulation that said neither party could sell or transfer the document. "Our position has never been against hosting a Champ Car race," said Bruggenthies. "Our concern was the uncertainty about the event because of CART's bankruptcy. "We're very happy to be a part of Champ Car's 2004 schedule and look forward to seeing the teams and drivers at Road America in August." OWRS acquired the assets of the bankrupt series during proceedings held in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division earlier today. Season Tickets for the race track are $250, and include 30 race days of the public weekends at Road America. The Grand Prix of Road America tickets are $115 in advance for the four-day weekend, or the daily rate after July 28, 2004. For more information or to order tickets online, visit www.roadamerica.com or call 1.800.365.7223 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. central time zone.

1/28/04

Lotus Elise to debut at Sebring  One of the most revered and successful automotive marques in racing history, Lotus, will debut on the American Le Mans Series in 2004 as Team Elite fields a Lotus Elise in a full season of competition in the professional sports car racing series.  The full-bodied, green-and-yellow Lotus Elise will compete in the LMP 1 class of the American Le Mans Series beginning with the 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway Mar. 17-20.  More.....

1/28/04

Three Canada Champ Car races saved   Canada's three Molson Indys appear to be saved. A bankruptcy judge rejected a bid by the Indy Racing League on Wednesday in favour of an offer by CART team owners to bring the open-wheel series out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Had the judge ruled in favor of IRL, races in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal could have been cancelled since the IRL was expected to keep only some of the CART races, with no guarantee the Canadian events would be among them.

The Toronto Molson Indy drew a total of 167,352 spectators to its three days of racing last summer, while 162,000 attended the Vancouver event and 148,000 turned out in Montreal, putting them among the series' best-attended races.

Judge Frank Otte acknowledged that IRL's revised bid of $13.5 million was greater than the $3.2 million offer from the CART team owners' Open Wheel Racing Series LLC.   However, the judge said IRL's offer, could have resulted in costly litigation from the sponsors of those races.

Open Wheel has agreed to accept contractual responsibilities for the CART racing season and run a full slate of races, thus avoiding legal claims race sponsors would have likely filed over any cancelled races.  Open Wheel had estimated that race sponsors could have filed legal claim ranging from $10 million to $30 million if the races were cancelled.

"We do know for certain there would be litigation and there would be damages," Otte said.  The judge warned that such litigation could have caused delays and further hurt the financial situation for open-wheel racing.

Open Wheel Racing Series LLC said Wednesday morning during the hearing that they would up their cash offer for all of CART's assets to $3.2 million, plus assuming some liabilities, including 2003 prize money owed to teams, and ongoing contracts.  In response, in the afternoon the IRL in turn increased its cash offer from $3.2 in cash to $13.5 million. Canadian Press

1/28/04

Gentilozzi says Laguna Seca and Road America deals settled   Paul Gentilozzi stated on Wind Tunnel tonight that after the court hearing today OWRS reached agreement with both Laguna Seca and Road America.  Champ Cars will be at both tracks in 2004.  He also hinted Champ Cars will be a bit more international.

1/28/04

Gentilozzi on Wind Tunnel tonight   Paul Gentilozzi will be on Wind Tunnel tonight at 9:00 PM EST with Dave Despain to talk about the OWRS victory today over the IRL to take over the Champ Car Series

1/28/04

Report from Indy Courtroom on CART bid   6th UPDATE In a major defeat of Tony George and the IRL, Judge Otte ruled in favor of Open Wheel Racing Series in Indianapolis court today after a long drawn out battle that in the end wasn't even close as OWRS clearly had the superior bid.  The only outstanding issues are the status of the Laguna Seca and Elkhart Lake races and that may be finalized tonight.  The objections the IRL put up were that OWRS does not have a TV contract, not enough cars, etc.  The Judge, having access to the OWRS business plan and letters of interest shot them right down.  More..... 1/28/04 - Things are swinging the way of OWRS.  The IRL bid was for $13.5 million for select races and it has not gone any higher. The feeling is the IRL side is sensing defeat.  The judge called The Milwaukee Mile, and Queensland, Australia promoters to the stand and they have testified to the damages to their race if the IRL wins the bid.  The Milwaukee Mile promoter said not much, the Australia promoter threw out big numbers.  They are on a 15-minute break.  Joe Heitzler is up next to talk about damages to Mexico City if the IRL prevails. 1/28/04 - Although not public, scuttlebutt is that the IRL have put in a bid of $13.5 million which includes the offer to run Monterrey (Mexico), Mexico City (Mexico), Toronto (Canada) and Long Beach for the next three years!   What about the rest of the races Tony?  As Gentilozzi said, the real bidding won't start until $14 million. 1/28/04 - When the court reconvened at 1:30 p.m., the IRL submitted a new bid. The amount was not made public. The judge ordered another break so CART's creditors could study the bid.  1/28/04 - First win for OWRS - IRL has withdrawn its bid for the Cosworth engines, which would have crippled the series.  So you know, Cosworth had the right to buy back the engines for $10 each so their technology did not fall into anyone else's hands.  They would have exercised that clause if the IRL did win the bid for the engines.  Tony George would have taken a financial bath on that one.  Under its revised plan as of this morning, the OWRS plan boasts a best-case scenario of 100 percent payback for CART's creditors (and a worst case of 62 percent), while the IRL's best-case scenario was 4.7 percent (worst case 4.3 percent).  1/28/04 - The court broke for lunch after further testimony by the unsecured creditors committee. The committee did a thorough job of analyzing the bids and right now the OWRS is coming up significantly superior.  However, the auction begins after lunch.  Tony George is going to have to increase his bid significantly to win.  We shall see how bad he wants it.  1/28/04 - The court has taken its first recess.  Of the 200 gathered, we spotted Tony George and his legion.  On the OWRS/CART side - Paul Gentilozzi, Kevin Kalkhoven, Chris Pook, David Clare, John Lopes, Emerson Fittipaldi, Dale Coyne, Joe Heitzler, Adrian Fernandez, suppliers, promoters, etc.  The unsecured creditors committee gave their report.  Some big news - the parent company of CART gave a loan of $63 million to the operating company that is being bankrupted.  The parent company is willing to forfeit that loan if OWRS gets the bid, but not if the IRL gets the bid.  Joe Heitzler, representing Grand (Mexico races) filed a complaint stating they are going to come after the IRL for large sums of money if they win the bid. Other claims if the IRL wins the bid are estimated at $150 million from the promoters and another $10 to $30 million for other broken contracts. OWRS has put up a $500,000 indemnity to offset the 88 Corp Fontana claim.  Laguna Seca and Road America objected to the OWRS bid.  OWRS offered to up their bid to make all creditors whole, but the judge said not yet.  Bidding will begin after the recess. The judge told both parties, after all of the discussions with the creditors committee; "I have two rooms, one for each of you. Come back when one of you are ready to buy this company."   The judge wants this case resolved today.  More to follow....

1/28/04

Montoya and Schumacher break lap record   UPDATE Juan Montoya has gone even faster, beating Schumacher's time from this morning. 1/28/04 - Michael Schumacher broke the Valencia lap record in testing on Wednesday morning.  The world champion plus Williams duo Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher all bettered David Coulthard’s mark in perfect conditions at the Spanish circuit.   Schumacher’s time of 1m09.429s was around two-tenths faster than Coulthard’s previous record, set last week in a McLaren MP4-19.  The German was driving last year’s F2003-GA, although the car was carrying a number of components from the team’s new F2004.

Pos Driver Car-Engine Time Laps
1 Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW) 1m09.316s 58
2 Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) 1m09.433s 83
3 Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW) 1m09.681s 83
4 Antonio Pizzonia (Williams-BMW) 1m10.153s 86
5 Ricardo Zonta (Toyota) 1m10.349s 89
6 Jenson Button (BAR-Honda) 1m10.362s 82
7 Olivier Panis (Toyota) 1m10.456s 88
8 Jarno Trulli (Renault) 1m10.479s 84
9 Felipe Massa (Sauber-Petronas) 1m10.638s 51
10 Takuma Sato (BAR-Honda) 1m11.092s 100
11 Franck Montagny (Renault) 1m11.282s 111
12 Mark Webber (Jaguar) 1m11.389s 51
13 Bjorn Wirdheim (Jaguar) 1m11.802s 102
14 Gianmaria Bruni (Minardi) 1m12.468s 21
15 Zsolt Baumgartner (Minardi) 1m22.232s 5

1/28/04

Don't look for NASCAR in Europe, but maybe Canada  According to this Winston-Salem Journal article, Brian France has been looking at Europe as a possible market for NASCAR, not Nextel Cup races but perhaps a NASCAR-branded series, to help pump up TV ratings over there.

Roger Penske is an international businessman. What does Penske see for NASCAR in Europe?  "I think we'd be making a big mistake if we said we're now going to move into a global business," Penske says. "We're at the end of our line, as far as numbers of races. If they wanted to take some races away, and go overseas ... but that would escalate the costs.

"And most of the sponsors we have in the sport right now want to be North American-bound. You can talk about Canada and Mexico, but when you start talking about Europe I'm not sure you could get the fan base fast enough. And we're on such a roll here."

A NASCAR-branded series in Europe? "But that would take a business venture with someone starting it from scratch, and there is hardly enough time in the week as it is, to do what we have to do," Penske says.

So what about Vancouver or Montreal, to attract Canadian businesses as sponsors?  "Vancouver and Montreal have been very successful open-wheel tracks," Penske says. "If there is more road racing in NASCAR, they could be venues that could be terrific.  But Vancouver would be tough because you're in the streets, and the Olympics is coming up. However, Montreal is a purpose-built track that would be great.  We'd like to see a few more road-course races. Our guys would like to see more. But TV is not as exciting on a road course as on an oval."

Of course, Kevin Harvick and Robby Gordon would beg to differ.  And the prospect of attracting Canadian business shouldn't be overlooked, Penske says. "That would draw sponsors, like Molson, (which) has really backed sports," Penske says.

1/28/04
 

SPEED Coverage of Rolex 24  SPEED Channel's coverage of the 42nd Rolex 24 at Daytona begins Jan. 31 at 1 p.m. ET. After eight hours of live coverage on Saturday, SPEED will return to the track at 6 a.m. ET on Sunday for another seven and a half hours from the classic American endurance race.

"The Rolex 24 is a great way to open the sports car season," said SPEED Channel President Jim Liberatore. "The growing car count, especially in the Daytona Prototype category, is an indicator of the health of the series and we expect to see some exceptional racing."

Veteran motor sports broadcaster Bob Varsha will host SPEED Channel's coverage, with Leigh Diffey offering play-by-play. Dorsey Schroeder and David Hobbs will contribute color commentary, with Calvin Fish, Brian Till and Chris Neville working the pits.

"One of the attractions for me has always been the driver lineup for the Rolex 24," Varsha said. "I mean, where else are you going to see NASCAR drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart drive heads up against great open-wheel drivers like Scott Sharp and Max Papis, road racing specialists like Boris Said or sports car legends like Hurley Haywood.

"And the challenge is that they not only race each other, but they must work as a team," Varsha added. "Some of these guys aren't used to sharing their car with other drivers."

1/28/04

Tracy is no Tony George fan  This Toronto Sun article says, If Indy Racing League boss Tony George wins the auction today for the bankrupt CART series and holds a race in Toronto, don't count homegrown star Paul Tracy as a participant.

Tracy has a contract with Forsythe Racing to drive in CART for 2004.  The deal includes a clause, however, allowing the team to pick up an option on the Scarborough native if the team chooses to enter another series.  "He has a contract to drive in CART or whatever series succeeds it," Dave Stevenson, Tracy's California-based agent, told the Toronto Sun yesterday.

But that doesn't mean the defending CART champion is likely to move to the IRL -- even if it races in Toronto.  "In the event there is no CART series, Paul's contract stipulates he can accept or reject any deal (Forsythe) might put together in another series," Stevenson said.  "The idea of racing in the IRL is not something Paul intends to do. He still has pretty hard feelings about what happened to him in 2002."

Stevenson was referring to George's call to take away Tracy's Indy 500 win over Helio Castroneves, claiming the Canadian passed for the lead under a yellow flag on the final lap of the race.  "But you can never say never," Stevenson said.  Tracy is scheduled to earn $5 million this season whether he races or not and Stevenson said he still has an open invitation to test for a ride with Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series.

1/28/04

Philosophies to clash in courtroom  [Editor's Note: Philosophies?  This case is all about the survival of open wheel road racing in the USA against the Oval Track Cartel who want it dead]  This Indy Star article says, Since 1996, the Indy Racing League and Championship Auto Racing Teams series have gone head-to-head in the court of public opinion. Today, the scene shifts to a court of law, with potential long-term ramifications for U.S. open-wheel racing.

The immediate futures of both series are in the hands of U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Frank J. Otte, who is scheduled to begin hearing arguments at 9:30 a.m. at the Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse.

A number of issues are before the court, including objections filed by ancillary parties. But eventually, Otte will preside over an auction of CART's assets between two bidders: a group of current CART team owners intent on keeping the series alive, and IRL president Tony George, who is intent on shutting it down.

Both sides have said they will do whatever is necessary to win. Unclear is exactly what it will take. Legal experts say Otte is obligated to do what is best for the creditors, employees and shareholders, in that order, but he has a great deal of discretion in determining that. CART and its creditor committee can only make recommendations on the bids.

"(Otte) has got to do what's best for the organization," said Nick Preda, a Chicago-based consultant for BBK Ltd., a management consulting firm that specializes in bankruptcy cases.

"It's conceivable that if the IRL's bid is the highest in cash but the (owners' group successfully) argues their offer is in the best interest of the company, they could get it."

1/28/04

NASCAR looks like IROC to me  This article talks about NASCAR's move toward standardizing everything, essentially making their cars IROC cars with different paint schemes.  If you think about it, this concept isn't too different than our suggestion CART bring in many manufacturers to the series by running a spec V10 with different engines badges.  NASCAR is successful in everything they do, so.........

1/28/04
Industry News

Goodyear seeks loan to meet demands  Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. will add a $300 million term loan to its $1.3 billion credit line as it looks to meet a provision in its union contract and continue its turnaround plan.  The Akron company's labor agreement with the United Steelworkers of America, reached last September, calls for Goodyear to raise $250 million in debt and $75 million in new securities by the end of December 2003. But that deadline was not met, and the union reserves its right to strike.

1/28/04

Minardi 2-seater deal shelved for now  Paul Stoddart's plans for a Pro-Celebrity Grand Prix series featuring all the current teams have collapsed, but he may still resurrect the idea with a smaller field reports Autosport Magazine. Only four rival outfits agreed to join up, forcing Stoddart to change his plans.  He said: "It's sad that such a strong idea didn't receive the respect, or support, it deserves. We put considerable thought, time and effort into the proposal and feel that it fulfils the desired criteria of increasing the amount of on-track action during weekends, particularly on Sunday mornings, while giving something back to F1 fans."

1/28/04

RuSPORT prepared to switch to IRL  RuSPORT and driver AJ Allmendinger are ready to switch to the IRL IndyCar Series for 2004 if the Open Wheel Racing Series bid for CART's assets fails according to Autosport Magazine.   Allmendinger, who won the Toyota Atlantic title last year with RuSPORT in his and the team's rookie season, said: "My heart is with open-wheel road racing, especially Champ Car, but whatever the plan that RuSPORT wants, that's where I'll go. We'll be at Long Beach [for round one] if there's a Champ Car series, but if not, and if that means moving over to IRL, then that's what we do."   RuSPORT president Jeremy Dale said: "We've got a Champ Car [which Allmendinger has tested], but things are quite unstable. We're aware of the options and what we'd need to do in that event [of the OWRS bid failing]."

1/28/04
IROC

Oval Track Cartel run IROC shuns Paul Tracy  The IROC Series is another version of NASCAR with different bodies.  It is controlled by the Oval Track Cartel.  There have been zero CART drivers in the series for 2 years and again in 2004, not even an invite to series champion Paul Tracy.  Yet, Scott Sharp, who isn't fit to tie Tracy's bootstraps, gets invited.  We hear Paul is livid over the situation.  We here at AutoRacing1.com have said for a long time that the Road Racing Cartel must start their own IROC series and invite drivers from around the world and make it a true "international" race of champions instead of the farce that IROC has become.  They need to change the name to AROC - American Race of Oval Champions

1/28/04

Reader Feedback on CART/IRL  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Its really been great that all of you at Autoracing1 have let so many people know what's really going on in the racing world.  Before I had to rely on ESPN the local paper and a lot of people who really don't know what's going on. What a lot of people haven't figured out yet is that when and if the idiot grandson ever does stage a road race that the attendance will probably be about the same as a Grand-Am race. Pathetic. Speaking of pathetic, next month Homestead speedway is gonna be showcasing a weekend that could be called Dumbed down racing weekend with the IRL and the Grand-Am sharing the weekend.  I see lots and lots of empty grandstands to that farce. Keep up the great work guys! Patty 

Another writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, It seems most open wheel racing fans favor CART or the IRL depending on how much emphasis they feel should be placed on oval tracks. Some people want 100% ovals, others 70%, or 50%, or 30%, or fewer. I personally prefer less than 50% ovals.

CART did not fail because of the type of tracks on which it raced. It failed because it went public and because it was poorly managed before and after it went public. If the IRL was public, I think it would also be failing. Open wheel racing needs to unite so that it can be more successful; but, I do not think that it should unite under Tony George. I do not think he deserves to control it.

I feel that OWRS can successful manage the former CART series. At the point when OWRS is as successful or more successful than the IRL, the two series may be able to unite. In fact, I believe that some of the IRL teams and drivers may actually want to move to OWRS if it is successful.

If OWRS drops super speedways or ovals completely and moves to a car that is more like an F2 car, a united series may be more difficult since a common formula will not be possible. However, if the IRL remains all oval and OWRS drops all ovals, there is no reason that they cannot merge into one organization in order to promote open wheel racing. The top OWRS drivers could even race in the Indy 500 and the top IRL drivers could race in a few non-oval races in the non-oval league. This type of unification could maybe even evolve into a single league with a mixture of tracks rather than two leagues.

If the IRL begin to add non-oval races and OWRS continue to race on a small number of ovals, the two series will be competing for much of the same fan base, tracks, advertisers, etc. The only difference will be the percent of oval tracks they have. This will likely increase the need for a unified series since the IRL and OWRS will both suffer without unification and both benefit from unification. Fortunately, in this case, the two series would find it easier to agree on a common chassis and engine formula. At this point, the IRL and the OWRS owners would share control of a single series which I think would be better for open wheel racing.  Mike Luczak
Houston, Texas

1/28/04

Toronto braces for hard hit if IRL wins  [Editor's Note: Yet another example of the destruction and despair Tony George will leave in his wake should he prevail in court today.  Ditto for many other cities.  The Champ Car series must continue.]  This Toronto Star article says that The city's economy faces a $40 million hit and the jobs of up to 5,000 people are at risk if the Indy Racing League succeeds in buying the assets of the bankrupt CART series and cancels the Molson Indy. Also at risk is hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to children's charities raised each year through IndyFest events in Toronto and Vancouver. At a time when Toronto is trying to revive its flagging tourism industry, the prospect of losing a sure bet like the three-day Indy, which attracted more than 167,000 people last year, is grim. "If we lose the Molson Indy it will create a big hole in our events calendar," Brian Ashton, chair of the city's economic development committee, said yesterday. More.....

1/28/04

Latest F1 News in Brief  

Ferrari Unlikely To 'Dip' In 2004
Verstappen Retires From Jordan Race
Firman 'Desperate' For F1 Seat
Indian States Tussle For F1 Race
Minardi Opens Testing Account
BAR Promise Button's Title By 2005
F1 Guilty Of Negligence: Eddie Jordan
Rivals Shade Pace At Big Valencia Test
F1 Brings Benefits To Bahrain
Don't Ask About Horsepower: Martinelli
Life At BAR To Be 'Tough' For Taku

1/27/04
SPEED World Challenge

Gidley lands a ride  The United States Air Force Reserve announced its 2004 racing program, moving to the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship with open wheel racing star Memo Gidley piloting its Techsport Racing Technology-prepared Ford Focus.  It also announced, with SCCA Pro Racing, the 2004 Air Force Reserve Pole Position Award for SPEED Touring Car.

“We are very excited about joining the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Series for 2004 both as a participant and a series sponsor,” said Lt. Col. Jerry Herbel, chief, Advertising and Information Systems for Air Force Reserve Command. “The venues and television package are fantastic. Demographically, racing fans are just the kind of people we are trying to attract and we think this is an excellent opportunity to educate the public on the opportunities available to them in the Air Force Reserve."

Gidley, a motocross and karting champion, went from witnessing his first automobile race to racing in the ChampCar World Series in just seven years, scoring major success in the Russell Championship Series, U.S.  Formula Ford 2000 National Championship and Toyota Atlantic along the way. Gidley finished second and third in the Atlantic Championship and ran in 36 CART races between 1999-2001, with an average finish of seventh, with no testing program. He finished fourth driving Paul Gentilozzi’s RocketSports Jag in Trans-Am at Sears Point Raceway last season.

"I am really excited to get back out there and race with a team that is totally dedicated to winning,” said Gidley, who is best known for his run with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the 2001 ChampCar season where he recorded three podium and four top five finishes. “Watching SPEED World Challenge on television, it is clear that there are a lot of competitive cars out there and it’s good, hard racing."

In addition to the team’s entry, the Air Force Reserve will sponsor the 2004 Pole Position Award for SPEED Touring Car. Each pole position winner will receive a $1,000 bonus, with the driver recording the most pole positions winning an additional $5,000 a year’s end.

“We’re thrilled to have Air Force Reserve involved in our 2004 SPEED Touring Car program, bringing not only a great team with a high-profile driver, but the added incentive for all of our teams with the Air Force Reserve Pole Position Award,” said Mitch Wright, SCCA Pro Racing Vice President and General Manager.

1/27/04

Live updates from Indy on Wednesday  As we can, AutoRacing1.com will provide periodic updates from the Indy courtroom on Wednesday where OWRS will be bidding to save the Champ Car Series from being killed by Anton Hulman George who will be bidding to kill the Champ Car series once and for all.

1/27/04

Readers do NOT want an IRL win  Two readers write, Dear AutoRacng1.com, A statement on the fall of open wheel racing in the U.S. Except for the fact that I read Autoracing1 every day, I'd never know that there was a huge court hearing tomorrow regarding the state of open wheel racing in the U.S. I've not seen anything on ESPN TV, nor much mention on their website. I guess NASCAR really has grabbed all the spotlight. I've seen more coverage of a new points system than of the future of road racing as we know it!!! As a devoted CART fan, I will NEVER watch the IRL, whether they win or not. Tony George may unify the open wheel racers into one series, but he will never UNIFY true open wheel fans. Long live CART, the 3 Horsemen, and REAL RACING!!!!  Sam Chamberlin, Ohio

Bravo! As a struggling, self-sponsored professional race car driver moving through the ranks of karting, sports car and formula racing for the past twenty some years I applaud you on your OWRS vs. IRL article. You have put down in writing what every true "road racing" enthusiast and aspiring drivers have been talking about for the past eight years. If I had the means I would buy a full page ad in USA Today showcasing your article. We are past due for a knock down, drag out question and answer session. The first question should be, WHY? As you pointed out, it can't be for the money. The IRL's bottom line will dispel that myth. Prestige? Filling 15,000 seats at an event that holds 80,000 spectators does not seem very prestigious. Could it be ego? That is the only plausible answer I can come up with for the split in the first place. I am continually shocked and dumbfounded by the defectors moving to the IRL. These team owners are incredibly intelligent, savvy businessmen. But them moving to the IRL is like investing your life savings into penny stocks because your neighbor Tony says it's a good idea. Roger Penske's move to the IRL was a knife in the back for all road racers. I am sure he was pushed by his main sponsor to do so. They wanted to keep their advertising money in the states and the exposure of the Indy 500 was a major enticement. What is the point for spending your sponsorship budget in the IRL if there is no one there to see it? If Team Penske's primary sponsor wants a real bang for the buck they should pull their IRL sponsorship and move to OWRS. The publicity alone would far outweigh the exposure with the IRL. Michael Andretti was probably handed everything on a silver platter from the manufacturers. Ok, I can't argue that too much. Still, Mario should have kicked him in the ass. I hope that Bobby Rahal can stick it out and see the light. Kudos to his Toyota Atlantic effort. NASCAR is a force in itself. Road racers can recognize and respect the series for what it is. A marketing machine with some racing. Let the NASCAR groupies have that. But for those of us that don't drive a Monte Carlo with a number 3 painted on the bonnet, let us have our road racing. These two groups are distinctly different demographics and that should be an advantage to teams, promoters and sponsors alike.  The OWRS headed by Gentilozzi, Kalkhoven and crew seem to be the right mix to make things happen. Their unquestionable business sense, in-your-face-attitude and seeming desire to bring road racing back on track in the states as it was in the early nineties, is what we need. Streamline the ladder system. Take the racing to the fans. And make certain the cars will still steer to the right. Thank you for letting me add my two cents. Chad Melnik

1/27/04

Official Release: Pacific Coast Motorsports expands  Pacific Coast Motorsports and driver Alex Figge, #69, who competes in the CART Toyota Atlantic Series will expand to a two car effort in 2004. Pacific Coast president Tyler Tadevic announced the addition of 2002 Toyota Atlantic Champion Jon Fogarty to pilot a second Pacific Coast Toyota/Swift #96 in 2004. To further broaden the race teams reach for the Toyota Championship, Tadevic also hired Burke Harrison (Allmendinger ’03, Fogarty ’02) and Tim Lewis (Sellers ’03, Ryley ’02) to engineer Pacific’s 2004 Atlantic effort. The two car team will kick off a three day test at Sebring this week.   More..... 1/26/04 -  See rumors page for more information on the team's expansion.  1/20/04 - Pacific Coast Motorsports will again compete in the 2004 Toyota Atlantic series and will expand to a two car team commencing with pre-season testing heading into the Toyota Atlantic series opener in Long Beach, CA. Pacific Coast President Tyler Tadedvic states "Current Atlantic standout Alex Figge will return to pilot the #69 Atlantic entry and a second car #96 will be added with a driver to be announced within the next few days". Tadedvic also said: "We are delighted to expand to two cars for next year (2004). This off season gave us the opportunity to review all our objectives. We feel strongly that a two car effort helps the entire package and are extremely excited about our driver lineup, which I will announce next week." Alex Figge had this to say: "It's great to have a teammate. I'm looking forward to getting back in the car and testing.  I've been driving go-karts over the winter and feel good about my conditioning and our chances for this year, the second car represents additional data and will assist our team and the Toyota series overall." More to follow.

1/27/04

OWRS once again responds to IRL's assertions  According to a recent published report, Indy Racing League (“IRL”) president, Tony George, stated his commitment to open-wheel racing while suggesting that his appreciation for the sport surpassed that of the Open Wheel Racing Series, LLC (“OWRS”) partners, collectively.

“Tony (George) has a funny way of demonstrating his commitment to open-wheel racing,” explained OWRS partner Paul Gentilozzi. “His willingness to split from CART several years ago to form the IRL is largely responsible for the tenuous state of open-wheel racing today. His only commitment is to buy the assets to keep Champ Car from racing. Our commitment is to rebuild what he, in essence, has destroyed.

“He claims to have an appreciation for open-wheel racing,” continued Gentilozzi, referencing George’s comments in the Jan. 25 edition of the Indianapolis Star. “But in the end, his intentions have nothing to do with the future of open-wheel competition, but rather the future and profitability of his IRL series. He has every right to bid on the assets, but we take issue with his audacity to veil his intentions under the guise of unification. To challenge our appreciation and commitment to open-wheel racing is a direct assault on our integrity.”

OWRS partner Kevin Kalkhoven reiterated that in addition to commitment and a plan for the future, it will take more than just upfront cash to be awarded the assets. “We will continue the operation of the Champ Car World Series and what could better benefit the creditors, teams, and sponsors,” said Kalkhoven. “We aren’t just buying the assets, but we’re also assuming the liabilities which could amount to tens of millions of dollars.

“In order to adequately compare the two bids, the Court will look at which bid will ultimately deliver the highest distribution to the creditors and which is in the best interest of the estate,” explained Kalkhoven. “The judge will assess the elements of each bid to determine how they influence the total amount of the unsecured claims. Since the IRL bid is purported not to assume the majority of the liabilities, the other promoter contacts would become unsecured claims. The damages suffered would be very real, very significant, and very costly.

“In the end, approval of the IRL bid could dramatically increase the amount of unsecured claims which certainly is not in the best interest of the creditors,” concluded Kalkhoven.

The IRL submitted a last-minute bid for selected CART assets late Thursday, Jan. 22, just hours before the legal deadline. OWRS had previously been approved as a qualified bidder. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Otte will render a final decision on the disposition of the CART assets in an auction set to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 28 in Indianapolis.

1/27/04

Shoreline to sponsor team in two series  Shoreline Communications, the specialist in enterprise IP voice systems(TM), today announced it is sponsoring Flying Lizard Motorsports, a new racing team which will be racing in both the Grand American and American Le Mans (ALMS) road racing series. The company will host hospitality events at various races throughout the season for resellers and customers. "Racing is a perfect metaphor for how we work with our resellers and run our business," said Janet Gregory, Shoreline's vice president of worldwide sales. "We work in a fast-paced environment where commitment, teamwork and execution are essential! This program fosters our spirit of partnership and reflects our commitment to win." Flying Lizard Motorsports makes its official Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series debut January 29 - February 1 in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. Both road racing series will be televised live -- Grand Am series on Speed TV (channel 408 on digital cable) and ALMS on CBS, NBC and Speed. For schedules and locations, visit: http://www.grandamerican.com/events.html and http://www.americanlemans.com/schedule/schedule.asp. "The Team Shoreline race car series reflects the committed relationship between Shoreline and its partners," said Jim Lewis, president of PlanIT Solutions. "We depend on each other to deliver to our customers an IP voice communication system that is unequaled in its simplicity, scalability and value with dial tone reliability."

1/27/04
 

Riggins to replace injured Goodyear  Brumos Racing of Jacksonville, Fla., announced today that Tommy Riggins will replace Scott Goodyear in the No. 59 Porsche Fabcar at this weekend's Rolex 24 At Daytona. Goodyear will be forced to sit out the race due to broken ribs he sustained while playing hockey on Monday. Riggins will partner with five-time Rolex 24 winner Hurley Haywood, JC France and former-IRL champion Scott Sharp. "It's a shame that Scott won't be able to make the race, but I am honored to be asked by Brumos to join their team," said Riggins. "Brumos is a great team with super guys. We pitted beside them at several races last year, and I really gained a lot of respect for their program."

1/27/04

Dodge Dealers extend NASCAR race sponsorship  A group of Dodge dealers in California has extended its sponsorship of the annual NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., by five years. Charlotte's Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns the track. The price of the deal was not disclosed. Dodge will continue as a sponsor of the NASCAR event, which is known as the Dodge/Save Mart 350. Dodge will also have the title of "official vehicles of Infineon Raceway." "Our relationship with the Dodge dealers got off to a roaring start three years ago, and it continues to grow and improve," says Steve Page, president and general manager at Infineon Raceway. "The promotional energy they put behind the NASCAR event has been remarkable, and we look forward to a continued great partnership."

1/27/04

If IRL wins bid, expect major lawsuits  UPDATE This Toronto Sun article says, There has been speculation that if the IRL bid coming from series owner Tony George is successful, Toronto could lose its race.  Bob Singleton, vice-president and general manager of Molson Sports and Entertainment, told The Toronto Sun yesterday he fully expects to have a race this July.  "It is a moot point at this stage to think we won't have a race," Singleton said. "Our race fans know that we have gone through the renewal process in Toronto and Vancouver and we are close to launching our public ticket sales the first week of February."  Mayor David Miller said it would be "very unfortunate" if Toronto were to lose the Molson Indy.  "Molson Indy is a very good event for Toronto," Miller said. "We get a lot of attention in the United States with it. It's fun, it's a fixture on our calendar and I think everyone would hate to see it go."  Singleton said he'll be more than just an interested party when the judge's gavel signals the bidding war.  He said Molson has a financial stake in making sure whatever happens is in the best interests of his races.  "I have kept abreast of the bankruptcy court proceedings and I have advised our legal counsel here," he said. "All I can say is that there has been communication with a U.S. law firm." [Editor's Note:  i.e. to protect their investments and sue as necessary]  Singleton said that even if the IRL wins, there is room on its 2004 schedule for Toronto, but not for Vancouver or Montreal.  There is no IRL race on the July 9-11 weekend, the traditional Toronto Molson Indy date.  As for logistical problems of having IRL run five consecutive weekends if Toronto is picked up, Singleton said that NASCAR Nextel Cup races 24 consecutive weekends, so he foresaw no problem.  Still, Singleton said he was throwing Molson's support behind the OWRS bid of Paul Gentilozzi, Gerry Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven.  "The OWRS bid is status quo for our three races in Canada," he said. "We are supporting the OWRS bid at this time."  A win by the Gentilozzi group means all three Canadian race go ahead this season.  "That's our plan right now," Singleton said. "And we'll keep that schedule until someone tells us different."  1/27/04 - Bob Singleton from Molstar was on every Canadian TV station Monday, telling all that it is Champ Cars or nothing for the three Canadian races, with major lawsuits to follow.  Many other promoters will file similar lawsuits.  This can end up costing Tony George several hundred million dollars before it's all over.  He's going to have to dig deep, very deep.

1/27/04

Interview with Marc Gene  During pre-season testing the foundation for a successful season is laid down. BMW WilliamsF1 Team test driver, Marc Gené, explains more about his responsibilities.  More....

1/27/04

Morales to join Ganassi for Rolex  Jimmy Morales has confirmed that he will join Chip Ganassi Racing for this weekend's Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 31 - February 1. The Mexican racer will partner with Scott Pruett and Max Papis in the No. 01 CompUSA Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype. "I feel very optimistic about the opportunity to participate in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The team's professionalism increased my performance during training. I have adapted quickly and have achieved my timing goals on every lap. Scott and Max are talented, hard working drivers, and I feel confident that we will be very successful," said Morales. Morales recently traveled to Phoenix where he tested with the team, adapting to the new Daytona Prototype and developing his driving techniques. Luis "Chapulín" Díaz accompanied Morales to the test session.

1/27/04

Petty and Paul Newman to team for Rolex  NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Kyle Petty and Academy Award-winner Paul Newman will team with Michael Brockman and Gunnar Jeannette for the 42nd Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 31-February 1. The foursome will share driving duties in the Gunnar Racing No. 45 Porsche Fabcar Daytona Prototype, which will be sponsored by Disney presents a Pixar film Cars. "We are very excited to have an all-star lineup in the car and a great sponsor like Disney/Pixar's Cars on the car for this year's Rolex 24," said team owner Kevin Jeannette. The Rolex 24 At Daytona will be the second time Newman and Petty have teamed in a Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race, as the two partnered with 21-year-old Gunnar Jeannette last summer for an eighth-place finish overall at Watkins Glen International. Newman, who has competed in Rolex 24 four times already, will be one of the voices in Disney/Pixar's Cars, schedule for a holiday release in 2005. The animated film from the makers of box office hits Toy Story (1995), Monsters, Inc. (2001) and Finding Nemo (2003), has been described by the studio as a high-octane adventure about a collection of classic automobiles-turned-'toons revving things up on historic Route 66." This year's Rolex 24 will be the ninth start in North America's most grueling sports car race for Brockman, the fifth appearance for Petty and fourth for Jeannette. "There are so many people that have helped us put this effort together, and we really want to bring home a victory for them," said Kevin Jeannette. In addition to Disney/Pixar's Cars, Porsche has been a great supporter of ours both this year and in season's past. It would be great if we could put our No. 45 Porsche Daytona Prototype in Victory Lane as a welcoming present to new Porsche Motorsports North America President Uwe Brettel and a farewell gift to retiring-President Alwin Springer."

1/27/04

Dixon to carry #1  Indy Racing League champion Scott Dixon will run with the #1 on his Target Chip Ganassi entry this season.   Perhaps it is because Dixon is a Kiwi rather than an American, but he obviously hopes the aura of driving the #1 will accompany him at the 16 stops on the 2004 schedule.

The 23-year-old will unveil the new number – he ran the #9 on his Panoz G-Force-Toyota last season – during open testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which starts tomorrow [28 January]. Trepidation or superstition about sporting the #1 won't follow Dixon on the circuit, but will remind him of the hard work put in that resulted in the championship - and what he'll need to do to for an encore.

“It's kind of cool actually to run the #1 car,” he says, “You don't have that opportunity often.   “I think you always have a certain amount of pressure just to perform and make sure you do well. Even being with such a good team like Team Target, I kind of like the pressure. It pushes you.”

Though some might see Dixon as wearing a large bull's-eye, he's comfortable with his abilities and confident in the team.   “We set a very high standard in how fast we were at every circuit,” he continues, “I think as the season progresses you pick up sort of four, five guys that you need to watch and try and beat. So I think it's the same [as last year]. It's not going to be just one person that everybody is going to try and beat. It is going to be a good four, five people that they have to watch out for.”

Ganassi teams won four consecutive CART championships between 1996-99, and the #1 was on the car the next season. However, Sam Hornish Jr, who won the championship in 2001 and 2002 for Pennzoil Panther Racing, competed in the #4 car in the seasons following his titles. “Historically, the #1 has been held out for the champion of the series,” Ganassi explains, “It's an instant identifier as to your accomplishments the previous year.”

1/27/04

All-Female team for Sebring 12 Hours  The history of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring has highlighted many interesting and different racing teams and the 52nd running of America's oldest sports car race will see the American debut of an All-Female driving team that has gained popularity in Europe in a very short amount of time.   The team known as "Les Femmes Pour Le Mans" has entered the season-opening event for the American Le Mans Series, featuring racer/broadcaster Amanda Stretton of England and American Liz Halliday. A third female driver will be named to complete the team.   More...

1/27/04

CITGO to sponsor Milka Duno  As a key element of an aggressive new Hispanic marketing initiative, CITGO Petroleum Corporation announced today that the company is sponsoring Latin racing star Milka Duno and her Rolex Series racing team in 2004.

Duno and the team's No. 09 CITGO Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype will kick off their 2004 campaign January 31 - February 1 at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, teaming with NASCAR driver Robby Gordon, Stephane Gregoire and car owner Doug Goad. CITGO will also outfit the No. 2 Chevrolet Crawford Daytona Prototype, manned by three-time Rolex 24 winner Andy Wallace, as well as NASCAR superstars Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"The sponsorship of race driver Milka Duno in the Rolex Series will play an integral role in putting CITGO on the map with the Hispanic community," said Don Rucks, CITGO brand development manager. "The rapidly changing ethnic landscape in the U.S. provides a perfect opportunity for CITGO to employ a highly concentrated effort to reach the Hispanic consumer, and the championship program we have put together for Milka in the Rolex Series this season will be a major tool in that effort."

"We are delighted to have CITGO and Milka join us in Rolex Sports Car Series," said Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson. "This announcement corresponds with an initiative that Grand American is currently working on to increase our fan base within the Hispanic community. We feel that the addition of Milka as one of our Daytona Prototype drivers with CITGO's support will help us in achieving both of our goals."

After Daytona, Duno and co-pilot Wallace along with the CITGO racing team will hit the track running at the 11 remaining Rolex Series races in the CITGO Pontiac Crawford DP03 Daytona Prototype. The U.S. race venues are located in a number of high-density Hispanic markets such as Phoenix, Ariz., Homestead, Fla., and Fontana, Calif., as well as other markets with large concentrations of CITGO branded outlets.

1/27/04

Boris Said finally gets his chance at oval  Let's be honest. There is much more riding on this year's Budweiser Shootout than just trophies and prize earnings, for an age-old question is about to be answered: How would a road-course specialist fare on an oval?  It's for that reason many NASCAR fans are eagerly awaiting the Feb. 7 all-star event. When road-racer/hired gun Boris Said won the pole at Infineon Raceway last June, he did more than just give his team a front-row starting spot in the Dodge/Save Mart 350. He also qualified himself for a race that -- dare we say -- takes place on an oval.   More......

1/27/04

Latest F1 News in Brief  

Kimi Says F1 Title Can Be His
No Gasps As Ferrari Unveil Evolution
Ferrari Confirm: F2004 To Start New-Year
Ferrari Clears Crash-Test Hurdle
Brawn Admits 'Unfinished' F2004
Rubens Vows Threat To Ferrari Teammate
Best Tires Will Win F1 Titles: Brawn
Don't Discount DC: Schumacher
Schu Expects McLaren To Challenge
Schu To Kick-Start F2004 Program
Ferrari Defend 'Tusk-Less' New Racer
Badoer May Run Third Sauber: Ferrari's Todt
Schu Slams F1 Points-System
Schu: Too Early To Plan Beyond 2006
Barrichello: McLaren Our Biggest Threat
Schu Believes New Format Is 'Fairer 
Ferrari Aim For 'Little News' In 2004
Brawn Checks Out Bridgestone Centre
Jaguar Prefer Reliability Over Speed
Pizzonia Set For BMW-Williams Return
Ferrari Admit Close Sauber Link

1/27/04

First laps at LVMS for Kyle Busch  The first day of NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas gave 18-year old Las Vegan Kyle Busch his first laps in a NASCAR Nextel Cup car at his hometown track. It would be fair to say the Durango High School graduate was in awe.  “I guess overwhelmed, unreal, any other word that matches that,” Busch said. “But I have to realize that this is another race track, and we have a lot of work to do.” Busch his set to make his Nextel Cup Series debut in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7. The younger brother of NASCAR star Kurt Busch also will compete in the March 6 Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Busch Series race. Monday, Busch joined nine other Nextel Cup teams and five Busch Series teams taking part in the open test session. At day’s end, Busch was unofficially listed second among the Nextel Cup cars with a best lap of 31.82 seconds and 169.447 miles per hour. Though no official speeds were kept, Jeremy Mayfield had the fastest known time of 31.70 seconds and 170.347 miles per hour.

In addition to Busch and Mayfield, Nextel Cup drivers Kevin Harvick, Robby Gordon, Johnny Sauter, Kasey Kahne, Ken Schrader, Kyle Petty, Jeff Green and Kevin Lepage participated in the test. Six NASCAR Busch Series teams tested Monday as well. Reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Matt Kenseth tested his Busch car along with Michael Waltrip, Ron Hornaday, Mark MacFarland, Eric McClure and David Reutimann. There were no incidents on track during the test. NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas will continue through Thursday. On Tuesday, 17 more teams including Hendrick drivers Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers, Gibbs drivers Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte and Ganassi drivers Sterling Marlin and Jamie McMurray will join the test. Testing is open to the public free of charge.

1/27/04

Comparing CART vs. IRL driving  John Hammer (pictured right) brings you this week's Pit Pass show, brought to you by the Derek Daly Performance Driving Academy.  In this week's show John talks about the merits of driving on road courses vs. ovals, CART vs. the IRL.
Audio Page

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