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DATE

News (chronologically)

2/6/04

Lineup for Sat. night Bud Shootout  

Pos. Car Driver Make Sponsor Speed Time Behind
1 #19 Jeremy Mayfield Dodge Dodge Dealers/UAW
2 #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont
3 #42 Jamie McMurray Dodge Havoline
4 #23 Dave Blaney Dodge Whelen Engineering
5 #29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet GM Goodwrench
6 #5 Terry Labonte Chevrolet Kellogg's
7 #6 Mark Martin Ford Viagra
8 #01 Boris Said Chevrolet U.S. Army
9 #38 Elliott Sadler Ford M&M's
10 #91 Bill Elliott Dodge Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
11 #2 Rusty Wallace Dodge Miller Lite
12 #18 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet Interstate Batteries
13 #10 Mike Skinner Chevrolet Valvoline - - -
14 #49 Ken Schrader Dodge Schwan's Home Service
15 #88 Dale Jarrett Ford UPS
16 #12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL
17 #48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's
18 #20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Home Depot
19 #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Budweiser

2/6/04

Panis explains what happened   Following his high-speed crash at Barcelona yesterday, Olivier Panis was taken to a local hospital for precautionary checks. Today he explained what happened.  "Basically, I was trying to go through turn three flat out, as I had already done in the morning," he explained, "but as I tried to correct some oversteer, the rear went and that was it. I was taken to the hospital as a precaution and everything was absolutely fine. I left the hospital at lunchtime and came back to the track.   "I am really sorry for the team," he continued, "but thank them for their support. I would also like to thank everyone at the circuit and the hospital for their efficient and professional work.   "Nevertheless, I am very happy with this week's test. The base we have with the TF104 is really good and we know what we need to achieve together to continue to improve the performance. If we keep working in this direction, I think we are going to be in good shape for Melbourne and I am looking forward to getting back in the car."

2/6/04

President Bush to attend Daytona 500  President Bush will attend the Daytona 500 Feb. 15 in Florida. Bush plans to spend that Sunday night in Florida where his brother, Jeb, is governor, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Friday in announcing the trip to the auto race. That same night in Wisconsin, Democrats are scheduled to hold a debate in advance of that state's primary on Feb. 17. AP/NASCAR.com

2/6/04

Team Penske announces Sirius Radio deal  Penske Corporation and SIRIUS Satellite Radio announced Friday an agreement designed to utilize motorsports as a platform to bring satellite radio to race fans across the country. SIRIUS Satellite Radio logos will appear on Penske Racing Team entries competing in NASCAR Nextel Cup and the Indy Racing League IndyCar(r) Series commencing with events at Daytona International Speedway today. The sponsorship is an extension of a business to business agreement previously announced by SIRIUS aimed at expanding the availability of SIRIUS Satellite Radio services to new car and truck purchasers and lessees. "Racing is the common thread throughout our organization and a natural environment for us to highlight the SIRIUS brand to our fans in NASCAR and IndyCar." said Roger S. Penske, Chairman of Penske Corporation. "We are delighted that drivers Rusty Wallace, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Newman, Sam Hornish, Jr., and Brendan Gaughan will be competing under a SIRIUS Satellite Radio banner."

2/6/04

Champ Car employees left in the dark   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Can you give any details on what's happening in Indy at Champ Car HQ? Rumor on the street has the former CART staff whacked down to bare bones. Is Champ Car staying in Indy? There is a lot of chatter in a global sense about future venues, but what about the details? We need info on the following: a hard schedule, firm venues, team sponsors, title sponsor, tire manufacturer, safety team, safety team sponsor, medical center, medical center sponsors, TV package, new logo/series name, Spring Training, and on and on. Many of us who work in the Champ Car series have not a clue on what's happening other what we read on your web site. Can you track down answers or do you anticipate a flood of news and press releases in the coming days? Inquiring minds need to know and I am sure all of the CART loyalists are waiting to hear some hard news!! Name withheld by request. Just waiting and watching.  Dear No Name, Why haven't you been told yet?  Probably because OWRS does not officially own the series until Feb. 12th.  There will be announcements coming on a lot of what you seek, but we can help you out a bit based on things we have heard.  Just don't be disappointed if we are off a few days or a week.  Is headquarters moving? - not that we are aware of, but with Trans-Am being merged with Champ Car we assume some redundant staff may have been downsized.  Schedule - will be released late next week.  Firm venues - with the schedule release.  Team sponsors - will be announced between now and the first race, spread out we assume.  Title Sponsor - there won't be one for now.  Tire Manufacturer - Bridgestone.  Safety Team - There will be some changes at the top.  Safety Team sponsor - we have no clue, but last we heard Simple Green may not be back.  Medical Center - What was wrong with the one used last year?  Tony George tried to buy it but lost. We overheard the CART medical center trailer(s) were off to a shop in Michigan for the replacement of gaskets used around the slide out sections.  Medical Center sponsor - we have no clue.  TV Package - Combination of CBS and SPIKE TV.  Will be announced within two weeks we believe.  New Logo/Series Name - we have heard rumors of a logo change, we'll have to see.  Spring Training - Last we heard it will be March 1-5 in San Jose for the off-track stuff and Laguna Seca for the on-track piece.  We hope this helps but we urge you to verify what we said with Champ Car HQ.    Mark C.

2/6/04
Industry News

Mario helps with blood drive   Race fans were treated to a joyride around the world-famous road course at Infineon Raceway on Wednesday, Jan. 28, and at the same time they aided a worthy cause.   Nearly 200 race fans attended the 3rd annual Infineon Technologies High-Speed Blood Drive to benefit the American Red Cross. Race fans were treated to a hot lap at speed around the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course and they also donated blood to the American Red Cross. Seventy lucky people were given hot laps around the track by legendary Mario Andretti, the only driver in history to win races in five different decades.   The event generated 127 pints of blood, which is the second highest single-day amount ever generated in Northern California for a community-based event, according to officials with the American Red Cross. This same event generated 106 pints of blood in 2003. The 127 pints will save 381 lives, according to the American Red Cross.   In addition to Infineon Technologies, The Bone 107.7 FM out of San Francisco was a partner in the drive.  Race fans lined up nearly an hour before the start of the blood drive, anxious to meet their favorite driver. Andretti not only spent the day giving fans laps around the track in a 2004 Audi, supplied by Niello Audi, he also signed autographs, took pictures and mingled with the fans. Other hot laps were given by instructors from the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School. It was the second consecutive year Andretti attended the event.  "This was a real fun day," said Andretti, a spokesman for Infineon Technologies. "We had some fun driving around the track but it was all for a good cause. I hope I didn't go too fast for the people."

2/6/04

Trans-Am announces Infineon Raceway round w/Nextel Cup   The Motorock Trans-Am Tour confirmed it will return to Infineon Raceway, as part of the Northern California road course’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup weekend, June 25-27. The announcement brings the total number of venues confirmed for 2004 to four, including Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières (July 31-Aug. 2), Road America (Aug. 5-8), and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Sept. 10-12). The 2004 event will mark the 19th year Trans-Am has competed at the two-mile permanent road course, having contested its first event there in 1969. Trans-Am returned to Infineon Raceway last year, after a two-year hiatus. “We’re pleased to announce Infineon Raceway will be a part of our 2004 schedule,” said Motorock Trans-Am Tour Executive Director John Clagett. “Last year’s event, which showcased Trans-Am drivers doing double and even triple duty, was one of the high points of the 2003 tour. We’re looking forward to another competitive and exciting race.” Said Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway: “The Trans-Am Tour has a long-standing heritage at Infineon Raceway and last year's race was a terrific addition to our premier event weekend. We're delighted to feature Trans-Am racing for our fans again in 2004."

2/6/04

Mi-Jack Conquest Team and Mario Haberfeld prepare for 2004 season   Mi-Jack Conquest Racing and 2003 team driver Mario Haberfeld put in a full day at the office on Thursday at Sebring International Raceway. Mario had not been buckled into the familiar yellow-and-red number 34 since the last race at Surfers Paradise, Australia, last October.

“It was great to get together with the guys again and get back in the car,” Mario stated afterward. “I’ve kept in shape, and have done some karting, but it was a long winter and there is no substitute for seat time.” In addition to getting the feel for a Champ Car after three months’ layoff, Mario and the team had a rigorous test agenda that saw the Reynard Ford complete more than 180 miles in the one-day test.

“We made a decision, along with Mario, that he would focus on left-foot braking at this test”, said team owner Eric Bachelart. It was also Mario’s first day working with the team’s principal engineer, Don Bricker. Mario was satisfied with the progress on both items. “Don was here last year, so we knew each other fairly well, anyway,” Mario said. “It is different when you are actually working together, and I’m pleased our communication was very strong.”

Switching to the new braking technique was also a challenge. “We fought understeer all last year, and together with the team, I thought this would help”, Mario said. “We were right. It’s not the sort of thing you can switch to in the middle of the season, and this was the perfect opportunity to get acclimated to it.”

The team will continue its preparation for the season opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 18, 2004 with additional testing, and development in its Indianapolis shop.

2/6/04

Champ Car team begin prepping for 2004 season   The first signs of Spring in the Champ Car world have nothing to do with robins and baseballs, and everything to do with the sounds of 750hp turbocharged Ford-Cosworth engines and squealing Bridgestone tires. Those sounds filled the air for the first time in 2004 earlier this week as four Champ Car World Series teams took to the test track at Sebring International Raceway, kicking off preparations for the 2004 campaign.

Fernandez Racing, Herdez Motorsports, PK Racing and Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing rolled their cars out for the first time this past week, running multiple days on the 1.67-mile Sebring test track. Portland winner Adrian Fernandez, Miami winner Mario Dominguez, Australia champ Ryan Hunter-Reay, Mario Haberfeld, Mika Salo, Roberto Gonzalez and rookie Nelson Philippe all turned their first laps of the year in advance of the April 18 season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“It was nice to drive the car again, definitely,” said Fernandez. “We had a good test and were pretty competitive both days. We had our own agenda for testing and our setup was not particular to Sebring; it was more geared towards the tracks where we have had some problems. We are pretty pleased with the results and have a lot of data we can use in the future. The conditions for testing were excellent and it was a good start to the season for us.”

Hunter-Reay had the unofficial fastest time of the week as he ran some evaluation days with Herdez, who is still deciding on a driver for a second car. He and Dominguez gave a revamped Herdez team a reason to be encouraged after their first session according to Herdez Competition Managing Director Keith Wiggins.

“We have hired some new engineers and we were very pleased with the way the whole team performed,” he said. “Ryan was up to speed very quickly and neither driver put a foot wrong. We were able to get quite a bit out of the test.”

PK Racing ran with Salo and Gonzalez, Gonzalez making his first appearance with the team after making two Champ Car starts last season with Dale Coyne Racing and Herdez respectively. Mi-Jack/Conquest ran two evaluation days with the 17-year-old Philippe before turning their Reynard over to Haberfeld on Thursday. Philippe is working toward getting his Champ Car license as the team looks to solidify its plans for the upcoming season.

“We developed some new pieces for the Reynard over the winter,” said team owner Eric Bachelart. “Obviously, we are evaluating whether we stay with this chassis or switch to the Lola. We were encouraged by how Nelson ran compared to the Lolas that were on the track, but we’re not yet making any conclusions.”  CART

2/6/04

Champ Car Technical Director to speak   Science is often a misused word in the sports world but the Champ Car World Series is one of the few entities in sport that actively uses the subject on a daily basis. Each one of the hundreds of components on a 750hp turbocharged Champ Car is perfected through the use of scientific methods, with the end result being a 230 mph car that could actually run upside down through the use of its aerodynamic devices. The next generation of scientists will get a first-hand look at what goes into making a 1,550-pound race car perform such feats Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas as Champ Car Technical Director Lee Dykstra will be the keynote speaker at the 13th annual Nevada Regional Science Bowl. The theme of this year’s Science Bowl, which is a high school team competition designed to promote scientific study, is ‘Zoom Into Science’. Dykstra will make a presentation to the students called ‘The Science of Zoom’ which will feature input from engine and chassis manufacturers as well as some of the top engineers in the series. “It is my hope that showing the technology of the speed and safety of Champ Cars will provide valuable insights and inspiration to the young winners of the Nevada Regional Science Bowl,” Dykstra said. Dykstra will take part in a luncheon with the regional winners Friday afternoon, joined by David Hiatt of the Derek Daly Performance Driving Academy.

2/6/04

Pizzonia tops times on final day in Spain   Antonio Pizzonia completed 114 laps, including a race simulation, to top the time sheets in Barcelona Friday.  “I'm glad we didn't have big problems today,” said Pizzonia to Autosport, who has been confirmed as a Williams test driver for 2004. “We didn't do any setup work, because we had such a big reliability program to finish. I feel good and back in the swing of things.”  Montoya and da Matta tried various suspension parts. “The base of the car is good, but it doesn't have enough speed," said da Matta.  "We have to find the speed somewhere.”   "It has been an extremely productive week at Barcelona, quite possibly the most productive we have had so far. I am happy with the performance of the car, and impressed with the way in which we have improved over the course of the week.”  “We have worked mainly on set-up work and tire tests and we have made steps ahead in every area. The car is certainly reliable, which we showed again by completing more than one race distance on each of the four days I have run this week.”  “I am glad that Olivier is okay and it was good to see him back at the track this afternoon."
1 Antonio Pizzonia (Williams-BMW) 1m15.080s 114
2 Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW) 1m15.223s 42
3 Cristiano da Matta (Toyota) 1m16.052s 82

2/6/04

Backlash over Toyota begins  Backlash over Toyota's entry into NASCAR has already reared its ugly head. Mike Skinner wanted to use the No. 3 on his new Craftsman Truck series Toyota Tundra, but his team decided against it after being deluged with criticism. The Bang Racing Toyota will carry No. 42, determined by flipping the number of its other truck.

2/6/04

Labonte to carry special paint scheme in 500  A special paint scheme featuring the movie “The Passion of the Christ” will be displayed on the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for the 2004 Daytona 500 officials from Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing and Icon Productions announced Feb. 6. Bobby Labonte, the 2000 NASCAR champion, is the driver of the car. The movie, which tells the story of the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ’s life, opens in theaters on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25. Mel Gibson produced and directed the film, which features Jim Caviezel in the lead role as Jesus Christ. “This outstanding movie factually portrays the most important 12 hours in history,” said Norm Miller, chairman of Interstate Batteries. “We are privileged to be a part of its promotion to the world. Besides that, it may well be the number one box office attraction of the year. I certainly hope so.” Gibson has starred in movies such as “Lethal Weapon” and “The Patriot,” He also won two Academy Awards® for producing, directing and starring in “Braveheart,” the best picture of year for 1995.

2/6/04

Rimes to sing National Anthem at 500  Double Grammy award-winning superstar LeAnn Rimes, whose hits include "How do I Live", "Can't Fight the Moonlight", and "We Can", will headline the NEXTEL Tribute to America, the pre-race extravaganza leading up to NASCAR's most prestigious race - the Daytona 500 on Feb. 15.   Rimes, who has one of the most spectacular voices in pop music, will also sing the National Anthem prior to the 46th running of the "Great American Race." Her pre-race concert, the first-of-its-kind at the Daytona International Speedway, and the National Anthem will be televised live on NBC.   "A day at the Daytona 500 is always history in the making and exhilarating family fun!" said Rimes. "I am NASCAR's biggest fan, so it's great to be part of their biggest race of the year and their first ever televised pre-game show."   The NEXTEL-sponsored extravaganza entitled the NEXTEL Tribute to America will pay tribute to people, places and events symbolic of 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".

2/6/04

Not being in Europe now hurts Champ Car   With talks breaking down between Jos Verstappen (and his sponsor Trust) and the Jordan F1 team, Verstappen is out of F1 once again.  The Champ Car series may have been able to land him and his sponsor Trust, but as you can see from this map of where Trust does business, there is no way they are going to look to Champ Car because it has no races in Europe.  The same can be said of other drivers who have money but not enough to secure a F1 seat.

2/6/04

Dyson team finalizes 2004 driver lineup  The Dyson Racing Team has set its driver lineup for the 2004 season as it prepares for a two-car campaign in the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series. Based in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the Dyson team has been one of the most successful American-based professional sports car racing teams of the past 20 years.

The season begins with the 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway Mar. 17-20.

The Rob Dyson-owned team won the Team championship in the LMP 675 class of the American Le Mans Series in 2003 and Chris Dyson won the LMP 675 Driver championship. The team made history when it scored the overall win in the ALMS event held at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., last July and became the first to win a race overall with a car from the smaller Prototype class. Dyson cars also scored five other class wins during the season.

For 2004, Dyson Racing's two Lola EX257-AER/MG Prototypes will compete in the LMP1 class due to restructuring of the four classes of competition in the ALMS. The LMP1 class includes cars that had been in the LMP 900 class as well as the more sophisticated cars from what had been the LMP 675 class.

The four drivers who will contest the entire American Le Mans Series schedule for Dyson racing will be the same four who drove the full season last year: Chris Dyson, Butch Leitzinger, Andy Wallace and James Weaver.

2/6/04

Petty calls for penalties against Wimmer  This Charlotte Observer article says, At least one fellow Nextel Cup competitor, however, believes that NASCAR should not allow Wimmer to continue to race until the matter is adjudicated.  "NASCAR should do something," Kyle Petty said. "What that is, I don't know, but it sends a bad message to the guy sitting in the third row with his 15-year-old son beside him and they're seeing a guy go around the track who has a DWI. If he's under a veil of suspicion or whatever, what's wrong with saying he's going to have to sit out until this is cleared up?  "Drinking and driving is wrong. ...If we as a sport or as an organization condone it by turning our head and looking the other way, we are guilty by association."

2/6/04

Another open-wheeler headed to NASCAR  [Editor's Note:  CART was criticized by the oval trackers for letting open wheel star Jeff Gordon get away to NASCAR, yet far more oval trackers have gone to NASCAR under the IRL regime.  Can you say Ryan Newman, JJ Yeley, AJ Fike, Kenny Irwin, Tony Stewart, etc?  Where are all the critics now?  The fact of the matter is, creating the IRL wasn't about retaining open wheel talent, it was all about control of the sport by the oval track cartel.]  A.J. Fike, who was recently named the National Midget Driver of the Year for the second consecutive season, will begin the new phase of his career Saturday at Daytona. He will compete in the ARCA race with former Indiana standout Andy Hillenburg as his driving coach. Fike, who last year competed in the IRL's Infiniti Pro Series, is hoping to use an ARCA season as a springboard to NASCAR. Indy Star

2/6/04

Gordon close to announcing Indy 500 plans, Fisher to drive for Kelley  Kelley Racing is close to announcing Sarah Fisher for an Indy 500 ride, an arrangement that both sides hope to grow into a full-time ride. . . . NASCAR regular Robby Gordon is close to finalizing a deal for the 2004 Indianapolis 500. He hoped to have it ready to announce Thursday during media day at Daytona International Speedway but needed a few more days to get the contracts signed. He plans to do it largely on his own with support from one of Chevrolet's Indy Racing League teams. Indy Star

2/6/04

Puma and Jaguar announce extension   PUMA AG and Jaguar Racing today announce an extension to the existing supplier contract. Following a successful first season, in which PUMA supplied team footwear and drivers' race shoes to the team, the contract is now expanded to include fireproof pit crew boots.

David Pitchforth, Managing Director, Jaguar Racing said "Our relationship with PUMA has strengthened over the last year and I am very pleased to announce we have been able to extend that relationship in time for the 2004 season. In order to succeed on track you need the best equipment in all areas of the business, and it is good to know that PUMA will be providing the footwear for all our requirements."

"In 2004 Jaguar Racing started to show their claws demonstrating flashes of brilliance", says Andrew McPhail, Senior Manager of PUMA Motorsport. "We are particularly pleased to see a driver like Mark Webber from the Australasian region achieving so much success in Formula One - helping to making the sport more global than ever. Now combining Mark Webber in his third year of Formula One, with promising rookie Christian Klien, the team will undoubtedly produce even more highlights in 2004. We are therefore delighted to extend the partnership and are proud that PUMA will be clearly visible with every pit stop Jaguar Racing make throughout the season."

2/6/04

Hakkinen slams F1 pretenders   In the new edition of F1 Racing, on sale today (Friday), 1998 and '99 world champion Mika Hakkinen has hit out at what he sees as self-deluding Formula 1 drivers, teams and media. In a strong assault that will shatter any feelings of complacency in the pit lane, in which he turns an unblinking eye on every team and every driver, Hakkinen also predicts that Michael Schumacher will not retain his world title this season. Mika doubts that Fernando Alonso is the fully formed talent that fans and press believe, claiming that the Renault driver is no match for McLaren's young gun Kimi Raikkonen.  More.....

2/6/04

Interview with Mark Webber   Following is a transcript of a telephone hook-up with Australia’s Formula One driver Mark Webber by Australian media on February 4, 2004, organized by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation ahead of the world championship season-opening 2004 Foster’s Australian Grand Prix to be held in Melbourne on March 4-7.  Interview

2/6/04

Champ Car feedback  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, With regard to the Gerald Forsythe interview, fantastic news, It would be great to see Champ Cars back on a British circuit, if it's Brands let's hope they can run it on the GP circuit. The 50/50 split seems a good way to go; you only have to look at the success of Surfers to know Champ Car can be a worldwide attraction. It seems the new owners have some good ideas to push Champ Car forward – I sincerely hope they succeed. Ken Wallace, Hewland Transmissions  Another writes, New points system is great! But I disagree with the 1 point for leading a lap.....I think it should be for leading 5 laps or more so the pit stops don't reward some backmarker from picking up a point, for leading one single lap, when someone higher up in grid is unable to gain that point, despite their better performance, because they stop for fuel/tires to continue chasing the leader. As for the tires, harder tires???!! ARE you serious? Come on, the lack of marbles is great, but how much crappier is the performance going to be? I'm the most loyal fan but damn! Even I can't take much more of this lowering of performance. Hard to say it is a premier series with more seconds taken off the clock. Hard to get excited without cars "looking" fast around the track. Better get that DAMN weight off of them! 300lbs+ loss in weight is a MUST now! Jeez, Montoya won the championship with a 900hp+ Champ Car, hence the word CHAMP, not CHUMP Car! Stay with the 750hp and harder tires? Ok, but lower the damn weight 300lbs to stay within performance specs of 1999! COME ON!!  Derek Hughes, Florida  Dear Derek, We like the new points system in that it will keep the championship close right up to the final race.  As for awarding points for leading a lap, it's an incentive for a driver to get to the front, however they do it. As for the harder tires, that may not happen we are now told.  As for taking weight out of the cars, absolutely.  As Champ Car adds more and more tight street circuits it's imperative that the car become F1 in size and go on a diet.  Hopefully when they announce their new cars we will see a move in this direction.  Mark C.

2/6/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Montoya Quickest At Barcelona
Ralf Denies Affair-With-Model Claims
Verstappen Stubs Out Jordan Talks
Panis Sent To Hospital After Crash
Renault Set To Turn-Up The Wick
Jordan Express Interest In 'Tusks'
Bernie Calms Jordan-Abramovich Link
McLaren To Unveil 'B-Spec' MP4-19
Massa Checks-Out Of Hospital
Honda To Axe Formula One Project?
Bernie: Schu To Keep-On Racing
Eddie Irvine On The Run

Bridgestone To Come-Out Fighting: EJ
Sato Can't Wait To Try New BAR
Button Not Frustrated By Over-Hyped Stars
Jordan Cools Threat Of UK-Snub

2/5/04

Helio named to top 25  Marlboro Team Penske driver and 2001 & 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves is featured in People En Espanol’s special “25 Hottest Bachelors” issue on newsstands now. The 28 year-old Brazilian is featured along with 24 other Latino bachelors including Wilmer Valderrama, Adam Rodriguez and Jeff Garcia. “What an honor to be considered one of the 25 hottest bachelors,” said Castroneves. “I guess when you do something that you love, you have passion. And when you have passion, that’s sexy!”

2/5/04

China race worth $50 million per year to Bernie   The May 2003 issue of Business F1 Magazine has a story by Mark Cutler that says the Chinese government is paying Bernie Ecclestone's FOM company $50 million per year for the rights to their F1 race - $30 million for the sanction fee and $20 million for the TV rights.  Bernie usually gets the TV rights, but the government bought them back from Bernie for $20 million and then sold them to Chinese TV.  The article goes on to say that in typical Chinese style, they don't bargain on deals.  A Shanghai government representative simply asked Bernie how much it would cost and Bernie told him $50 million per year.  End of story.  We guess they don't know Bernie too well, huh?  We suppose if OWRS does a deal with the Beijing government $10 million or $15 million per year will appear like a real bargain.  And you wonder why we predicted years ago of the "Inevitable Globalization of CART"?  We say, if Portland can't afford to pay what OWRS wants for this year's race, let them have an IRL race!  In our interview today with Gerald Forsythe he says they are working on up to 7 new venues for 2005.  It is inevitable that OWRS will have to jettison some of the current dogs.  Mark C.

2/5/04

Fernández returns to track  After three months away from the cockpit, Fernandez Racing Owner/Driver Adrian Fernandez returned to the race track this week, turning his first laps aboard the #51 Quaker State/Telmex/Tecate Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone in preparation for the 2004 Champ Car World Series season. The two-day test, which concluded this afternoon, was held at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Story

2/5/04

Thursday test times from Sebring  3rd UPDATE We have added the test times from Thursday to the chart below.  American sensation Ryan Hunter-Reay ended up with the fastest time of the week by a full 0.5 sec.  2/5/04 - It should be noted that in testing last month at Sebring, Lynx Racing driver Michael Valiante -- driving a Walker Reynard with the 'old' nose (not the Penske-developed nose that is good for about 4/10ths of a second per lap)... did a 52.10 on his first day ever in a Champ Car. Certainly track conditions make a big difference, but he started his test on a totally 'green' track with no rubber and only one other car running.  2/4/04 - We have posted the final times from Wednesday below, as well as the times from Tuesday for comparison.  Tomorrow Mario Haberfeld will be in the Conquest car but PK Racing is done with their test. They ran two cars today.  Seen wandering around the paddock today was Ricardo Sperafico.  Word is that Roberto Gonzalez may have the 2nd PK Racing seat.  Herdez will run two cars Thursday, one each for Hunter-Reay and Dominguez.
Driver Team Tues. Wed. Thur.
1. Ryan Hunter-Reay Herdez Lola 51.90 Sec No Time 50.9
2. Mario Dominguez Herdez Lola No Time 52.07 51.4
3. Mika Salo PK Racing Lola 52.55 52.09 Did Not Run
4. Adrian Fernández Fernández Lola 52.94 Did Not Run 51.21
5. Mario Haberfeld Conquest Reynard Did Not Run Did Not Run 52.3
6. Nelson Philippe Conquest Reynard 52.92 52.68 Did Not Run
7. Roberto González PK Racing Lola Did Not Run 53.09 Did Not Run

Nelson Philippe Conquest Reynard only 8/10ths off Hunter-Reay's fast time, this 17 year old Rookie in a Reynard is doing a darn good job.

2/5/04

Trans-Am announces Road America round   The Motorock Trans-Am Tour will continue one of its longest traditions the weekend of Aug. 5-8, during the Grand Prix of Road America. The Trans-Am Tour will compete at the 4.048-mile road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis., along with the Champ Car World Series. Road America has hosted 35 consecutive Trans-Am events since the inaugural in 1970, the most of any venue, active or inactive, on which the Trans-Am Tour has competed. “The Trans-Am Tour and Road America have one of the longest relationships in auto racing,” said Trans-Am Tour Executive Director John Clagett. “We’re pleased to return this year, and carry on a tradition more than 30 years in the making. Road America, the longest road course on the Trans-Am Tour, poses a unique challenge to our competitors. We’re expecting an exciting and competitive race in August.” "Summer would not be complete without the Trans-Am Tour at Road America," said George Bruggenthies, president and general manager of Road America. "The 2004 race marks the 36th time the Trans-Am Tour has competed here. We're looking forward to seeing the green flag drop on these cars in August." The Motorock Trans-Am Tour features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Tour is America’s oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 39th anniversary in 2004. Motorock is the creation of a popular culture brand that blends the enthusiast markets of cars, stars and guitars. It is a yearly series of destination live events that showcases the excitement of motorsports, music and lifestyle while delivering a unique new form of broadcast entertainment programming.

2/5/04

Verstappen again breaks off talks with Jordan   Following more negotiations between Jos Verstappen's management and the Jordan team the Dutchman's camp have come out this evening claiming Verstappen has himself decided to definitively end talks with the Silverstone based team.  "Despite the fact that all parties involved have done their absolute best to reach agreement, there still remain some contractual obstacles which cannot be overcome," read a statement issued on Verstappen's website on Thursday evening.  The EJ14 was launched bearing Trust logos which were also featured on the new Jordan driver overalls, though an agreement had not yet been officially signed.  "We tried our best, but there can always be some opportunities in the future which could see Jos get a seat in the coming season. We tried very hard but despite all our time and hard effort we could not find an agreement," a spokesperson for Trust said.

2/5/04

Forsythe: 50/50 mix for Champ Car series   In this interview on AutoRacing1.com, Gerald Forsythe says, "There is definitely a place for Champ Cars internationally.  In fact, we are currently looking at more new venues outside the USA than inside.  At some point if we have 50% of our races in the USA and 50% internationally, that would be a good mix."  More....

2/5/04

New point system announced for Champ Car series   In a move that will promote strong racing throughout every lap of a Champ Car World Series event and reward those drivers and teams that run up front, series officials today announced a revised points system that will go into effect with the 2004 season.

In the new system, points will be paid to the first 20 finishers with 31 points going to the winner of the event. As has been the case since 1983, the winner will receive four more points than the second-place finisher, with point totals decreasing by two for each place down the order through the top 10. Beginning with the 10th-place finisher, the point total will decrease by one.

“I think this is a good move for the series and will help the drivers a lot,” said 2003 Champ Car World Series champion Paul Tracy. “If you’ve had a day that would have left you out of the points, now you can still get something out of it. It is going to be a very competitive series this year and good finishes are going to be harder to come by so this makes what would have been a bad day, not so bad a day.”

In addition, one point will be awarded to a driver for leading one or more laps in a race, another point will be given to the driver that runs the fastest lap of the race and one point will be awarded to the driver that improves the most number of positions from their place on the starting grid. There will no longer be a point given to the driver that leads the most laps in a race.

As has been the case for the last two seasons, one championship point will be awarded to the leaders of the Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions on road and street courses, while one point will be available for the qualifying leader on oval courses.

“We firmly believe that this new system will be better for our fans,” said Senior Vice-President of Operations John Lopes. “The point for leading a lap will add an element of strategy and the point for fastest lap provides incentive for every driver on every lap, regardless of position.”

All other rules regarding championship points will remain unchanged from 2003. Under the new system, the maximum number of points that a driver could earn on a road or street course weekend is 35. The breakdown of the points system is detailed below.

1st – 31
2nd – 27
3rd – 25
4th – 23
5th – 21
6th – 19
7th – 17
8th – 15
9th – 13
10th – 11
11th – 10
12th – 9
13th – 8
14th – 7
15th – 6
16th – 5
17th – 4
18th – 3
19th – 2
20th – 1

2/5/04

NASCAR team owners indicted  A little more than a year ago, Gary Jones and Fatemeh Angela Harkness were living a race-car lover's dream.   Jones, a 36-year-old Austin banker, and Harkness, a 27-year-old former kindergarten teacher from Round Rock, had assembled a racing team -- Angela's Motorsports -- that was entering not one but two cars in NASCAR events.   Racing veterans wondered where the NASCAR novices got the millions needed to pay for the cars, the crews and other expenses associated with a racing team.   A 17-count indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in Austin alleges to have at least part of the answer.   Made public Wednesday, the indictment charges that Jones embezzled almost $1 million while working as a business banker at a Wells Fargo branch in North Austin from November 2000 to March 2003.   He is accused of using fake documents and forged signatures to issue a series of loans in other people's names. Those people didn't get the money, which Jones instead took for himself and used to fund Angela's Motorsports, according to the indictment. Harkness has already pleaded guilty in the scheme and has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, court records indicate. She is free on bail.   The racing team featured 10-year veteran driver Mike McLaughlin. It entered cars in the Busch Grand National Series, a sort of Triple-A NASCAR circuit, starting in late 2002.   That was two years after Jones worked on the first of the 12 fraudulent loans he is accused of making. It was for $38,000 and was issued in the name of Jones' sister, according to indictment.   The loans grew in value as time went on and were issued in various names, including those of Jones' relatives. The documents to support the loans and signatures were forged, according to the indictment. The largest loan was for $250,000 and was approved November 20, 2002, according to indictment.   That was one month after Harkness announced the formation of the team at a news conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway.   "We have a great driver with a strong engine program with Robert Yates Racing, a relationship with Ford Motor Company and a strong sponsorship package in place," Harkness was quoted as saying at the time.  Jones is been free on bond since his arrest in October. Neither he nor a lawyer representing him could be reached for comment. More at The Statesman

2/5/04

Dorricott Racing closes doors   A long-time fixture on the Champ Car circuit ladder system (Indy Lights then Toyota Atlantic), Dorricott Racing, has shut its doors.  After her husband Bob died, Phyllis Dorricott made a valiant effort to keep the company in business.  She tried to work with possible sponsors to keep things going but without more positive information about CART and a driver, it became more than she could handle. 

2/5/04

Durban, South Africa a go   It looks like the Champ Cars will indeed be racing in Durban, South Africa later this year.  See our rumors page for the latest update.

2/5/04

Redesigned website for LB   The website for the Long Beach Grand Prix at http://www.gplongbeach.com/ has just been redesigned and features an open letter from Jim Michaelian, President and CEO, to fans and sponsors

2/5/04

Honda to decide future in F1 by July   Honda will decide in July whether to continue in Formula One after this season, a senior company official has announced.  “The current contract is through to the end of 2004 and the contract review will happen in the first half of the season,” Otmar Szafnauer told Autosport magazine.  Honda teamed up with BAR in 2000 and are confident their engines will be more reliable this year.  “The engine is significantly lighter and it will be more powerful in Melbourne than it was in Suzuka last year,” Szafnauer continued.  “It is a step forward and we have set ourselves some pretty aggressive targets.  “We have got a month to meet them all and I think we will.”

2/5/04

Montoya fastest at Barcelona Thursday  Juan Pablo Montoya set the fastest time on the fourth day of testing at Barcelona today (Thursday). The Williams ace outpaced Renault star Fernando Alonso by 0.276s. The Colombian spent the day working on set-up and tire developments. He pronounced himself happy with the progress the team has made, especially compared to last season.  "The testing has been good," Montoya told autosport.com. "We're in a much better position than we were in at this time last year. The car has improved a lot, and it's more stable. It should be competitive, although we don't know how competitive it will be compared to the opposition. I'm sure the car can win races, although the championship is another matter. We'll see."

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW M 1m14.804s 50*
2 Fernando Alonso Renault M 1m15.080s 75*
3 Antonio Pizzonia Williams-BMW M 1m15.112s 51*
4 Franck Montagny Renault M 1m15.170s 75*
5 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m15.705s 96*
6 Nelson Piquet Jr Williams-BMW M 1m15.809s 51
7 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m15.908s 51*
8 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m15.911s 37*
9 Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m16.022s 64*

2/5/04

CART studying harder tires   As if they weren't slow enough, the Champ Cars are running with harder Bridgestones this year in testing.   Bridgestone is looking to go to a harder tire for 2004 and, therefore, the tires supplied for the testing at Sebring this week are MUCH harder.  They are trying to determine if such a hard tire will be better for the end of a stint where they received a lot of complaints last year.  Some of the first comments we heard on Tuesday were the tires were so hard they took longer to come in and, therefore, the drivers thought if they went with a similar compound for the season it was going to be pretty hairy through the first four laps versus the usual 1 to 1.5.   We wonder how much costs will go up in 2004 from crashed machinery caused by overzealous drivers on cold tires.  Imagine Milwaukee at night.  Last year it was so cold the buckets of water for fire almost froze!  Drivers guesstimate the tires could be up to 1 second slower now.  If Champ Car is implementing harder tires, they had better allow tire warmers, an idea whose time has come.  Speaking of hard tires, the Bridgestone rain tire the past couple of years has been so hard the Champ Cars must parade behind the pace because they can't race in the rain with them.  We brought this topic up last year and were hoping Bridgestone would supply softer rain tires with the superior F1 tread pattern for the Champ Cars in 2004.  We understand they have to use up the current stockpile of rain tires first.  Mark C.

2/5/04

Panis has big shunt, walked away  UPDATE Panis was able to climb out of the car and walk to an ambulance unaided. He was alert and talking normally, although he was taken to the nearby General Hospital of Catalunya at Sant Cugat after complaining of vision problems. Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne has confirmed that there is no structural damage to the TF104 Panis was driving, and Cristiano da Matta has now resumed the team's testing program.  2/5/04 - Autosport.com reports that Olivier Panis has been taken to hospital after a serious crash during F1 testing at Barcelona this afternoon. The Frenchman crashed his Toyota at the Spanish track's third turn, a sweeping right-hander taken at approximately 130mph.  It is not yet known what caused the crash, which occurred at 2.40pm, although it is known that the Frenchman went backwards into the tire barriers at high speed. He has now been taken to the nearby General Hospital of Catalunya at Sant Cugat. Photos

2/5/04

Mi-Jack Conquest completes test with young Frenchman   Mi-Jack Conquest Racing and French teen phenom Nelson Philippe yesterday completed two days’ testing at Sebring International Raceway. It was the second time in two months that the team has tested the 17-year-old in their Reynard Ford at the historic central Florida circuit.

“It was important that we build on the success of our first test by running Nelson at the same time other teams were on track,” said team owner Eric Bachelart. “He did very well. We were also able to work through the licensing issues with the Champ Car officials. Hopefully, this will lead to a solid program for this year.”

Eric was pleased that Mi-Jack Conquest Racing was able to participate in the first multi-team test of the new season. “We developed some new pieces for the Reynard over the winter”, Eric noted. “Obviously, we are evaluating whether we stay with this chassis or switch to the Lola. We were encouraged by how Nelson ran compared to the Lolas that were on the track, but we’re not yet making any conclusions.”

The team completed approximately 400 miles in two days of testing, roughly equivalent to a typical Champ Car race weekend. Nelson and the team worked on their communication, testing protocols, and stamina as well as pace during the comprehensive program. “There are many demands on a Champ Car driver in addition to the race itself,” Eric noted. “Nelson is very mature and we have been working with him on all aspects of everything that is required. However, there is only so much you can practice – at some point, these test sessions will become real race weekends, and you have to just do it.”

Testing continues in Sebring on February 5, when 2003 MJCR driver Mario Haberfeld takes his seat in the car. “We’re looking forward to Mario’s reaction to the changes we’ve developed,” Eric said. “He had a great deal of input in the areas we pursued over the winter. He’ll be on track with some of the same cars we raced with last year, so this should provide a good test of our development.”

2/5/04

Tony Stewart to drive two more Grand-Am races  NASCAR star Tony Stewart will contest two more rounds of the 2004 Grand American Sportscar Series in the car in which he nearly won the Daytona 24 Hours last weekend, according to this week's AUTOSPORT magazine.  The Joe Gibbs Racing Nextel Cup driver has signed up with the works Crawford squad, which runs under the banner of Howard-BOSS Motorsports, for the Daytona and Watkins Glen races. He will share the car in the two events with British sportscar stalwart Andy Wallace.  Stewart, who had two Grand-Am races with Crawford in 2002, said: "I love doing different things, especially the 24 Hours."  Wallace has signed to compete in ten Grand-Am races for Crawford-BOSS. Venezuelan Milka Duno will drive alongside him for eight races.

2/5/04

CAT stands by Wimmer  The director of Caterpillar Inc. racing programs said the company will stand behind its NASCAR Nextel Cup driver, Scott Wimmer, despite his arrest Saturday for driving while impaired. "We're basically going to continue on with Scott," said Greg Towles. "He made a terrible mistake but by the same token, there's been no history of that at all." Wimmer was driving a 2004 Dodge Ram pickup truck belonging to his boss, Bill Davis, early Saturday morning when he hit a large rock and the truck overturned near his High Point, N.C., home. Published reports said a Breathalyzer test recorded Wimmer's blood alcohol content at 0.15 percent, nearly twice the North Carolina legal limit of 0.08. Wimmer was not at the crash site when police arrived but was found later at his home. His wife, Jody Ambrose, was charged with misdemeanor obstruction of justice and delay. Court dates for both are March 10. Wimmer is scheduled to begin his first full season in the Nextel Cup series for Davis next week at the Daytona 500. Wimmer moved up from the Busch Series to the #22 Caterpillar Dodge for the last four races of last season. Davis released a statement Monday and withheld comment until all the facts have been revealed. Wimmer, a Wisconsin native, could face disciplinary action from NASCAR. Officials there are reported to be looking into the matter. "We're not sure what NASCAR is going to do," said Towles. Wimmer is scheduled to make an appearance in Peoria on Feb. 24 at a Peoria Rivermen game but that visit may be postponed until after his court date. Peoria Star Journal

2/5/04

Jordan renews with RE/MAX  Jordan Grand Prix has signed a sponsorship agreement with RE/MAX Europe, part of the RE/MAX International real estate network which lists and sells more real estate than any other network world-wide. RE/MAX first sponsored Jordan in 2003 and the new deal sees the relationship extended for another year.

The RE/MAX brand will be displayed on the Jordan Ford EJ14 cars. The RE/MAX involvement in Formula One is part of the company’s successful motorsport program, which also includes the ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) RE/MAX series of stock car racing and Team RE/MAX Racing in the USA.

“I am delighted that RE/MAX has renewed its partnership with Jordan Ford,” said Eddie Jordan, Chief Executive of Jordan Grand Prix. “The partnership worked well for both parties last year and it is a privilege for us to have an association with such an impressive company. I’m confident that we will improve on our achievements last year and enjoy great things together in 2004.”

William Soteroff Managing Director of RE/MAX Europe said, "The ongoing commitment RE/MAX has made to Jordan Ford is a testament to our belief that this is a team of destiny. Eddie Jordan has a commitment to excellence and a drive and desire for victory and we are delighted to be associated once again this year with the team. Jordan Ford is a unique vehicle for our organization to advance awareness of our brand as we race across Europe!"

The RE/MAX franchise network, now in its 30th year of consecutive growth, is a global real estate system operating in 43 countries. More than 4,700 independently owned offices engage 86,000 member sales associates who lead the industry in professional designations, experience and production while providing real estate services in residential, commercial, referral, relocation and asset management.

2/5/04

Herdez Team eyes three drivers for 2nd seat   Contributed by forum member Jose Arrambide - El Norte and Reforma have an interview with Hector Lebrija of Herdez Competition Team http://www.elnorte.com/deportes/articulo/385896/ The article is in Spanish, so here it goes.

Hector Lebrija says that they are deciding between Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ricardo Sperafico and Roberto Gonzalez for the second seat.

He explains that they will probably decide this week, Keith Wiggins, General Manager of Herdez Competition will have the final word.

He explains that Herdez Competition is a Mexican Team and that it makes sense to have a Mexican driver in the second seat (the other seat being already a Mexican), but since the owner of the team is also owner of Herdez and Herdez is starting to increase their activities in the US it also makes good sense having a US driver and trying to tie a few of Herdez brands with Hunter-Reay, and that Sperafico is a very good driver and that also makes good sense.

The article says that Hunter-Reay looks to have the upper hand, he did some tests yesterday with one of the Herdez cars having the best time of the drivers testing at Sebring, Mario tested that same car today and both divers will test the two Herdez cars tomorrow.

If Ryan gets the second seat, it would be kind of strange that one of the few US drivers in 2004 would end up in a Mexican Team, with a Mexican sponsor (both being Herdez)

2/5/04

Dyson Team completes Sebring test   Thetford / Norcold Dyson Racing recently concluded a two-day test at Sebring International Raceway, and the 2003 series champions are confident heading into the first round of the 2004 American Le Mans Series championship.

With the team's #16 and #20 MG-Lola prototypes on hand, English star James Weaver and 2003 LMP675 champion Chris Dyson spent the first day of the test evaluating AER engine development and Goodyear tires. Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger joined the test on the second day of the test after strong runs at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Despite the track being slower than in recent tests, Weaver was still close to his qualifying time set for the 2003 12 Hours of Sebring.

Team principal Rob Dyson returned to the cockpit for the first time since shoulder surgery in the summer of 2003. In limited running, Dyson was delighted with the progress of the cars' development. A return for the Sebring event may happen, but it looks unlikely for the team boss. Dyson will continue his rehabilitation with an eye on doing some racing in 2004.

The Dyson team has spent the last 18 months developing their Lola machines, which claimed three pole positions in 2003 and took overall victory at last year's Grand Prix of Sonoma.

Chris Dyson was pleased with the test results. "We were pretty happy with the amount of work we were able to get done here," he said. "James tried some new tires which have given us a good direction for the race, and AER has made some pretty impressive gains with their electronics and engine performance. We proved last year that the cars are quick enough and can win races, and this winter we have been eliminating all of the reliability issues that occasionally nagged us. I'm very enthusiastic about this coming season."

Dyson's final driver lineup for the 12 Hours of Sebring has yet to be finalized. Wallace will join Weaver and Leitzinger in the #16 machine, and Chris Dyson will spearhead the #20 car's driving strength.

Since entering the sportscar racing world in 1985, Dyson Racing has been North America's most successful sportscar team. For 2004 the team will campaign two of its MG-Lola EX257 prototypes in the nine-race American Le Mans Series. The series' first event is the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 20.

2/5/04

Quotes from Sebring - Wednesday   From this crash.net article, Mario Dominguez finally had his chance to get back into the Herdez Competition car, and he looked like a kid in a candy store as he set one of the day's best times.

“It's great to be back driving the car,” Dominguez said, “I enjoyed the holidays, but it was time to get back in the car. I'm really enjoying it. We're trying a few things out and I'm working with Mike Cannon, my new engineer, for the first time.”

Occasional Champ Car racer Roberto Gonzalez was able to work in some laps with the PK Racing team, but his time in the car was shortened due to a mechanical problem.

“We had a little misfortune with the engine,” the Mexican reported, “We aren't sure what's wrong, but I had to get out of the car so the team can change the engine. It's a shame because we were starting to get some laps in and we just put on a new set of tires.”

Mario Haberfeld was at the track, but isn't scheduled to see any seat time until Thursday, when he is slated to run with the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team.

“I'm here today to watch and prepare for tomorrow,” said the Brazilian, who ran a full season with the team in 2003, “I always like to get here early to discuss with the engineers what our plan is. The team did some work during the winter to try and improve the Reynard, but it is unsure whether it will be running the Reynard or a Lola [this year]. We hope to find out if we can improve the Reynard.”

Several other drivers were also present at the track, with Mika Salo again testing for PK Racing and Adrian Fernandez with his own team. Last year's Barber Dodge Pro Series champion, Leonardo Maia, was also on hand, having stopped by to see how the Champ Car teams were doing before finalizing his Toyota Atlantic ride for 2004.

“I'm working on putting a deal together for this year,” Maia said, “I've still got some work to do on finalizing everything, but I'm getting there.”

2/5/04

Ken Schrader to appear  Ken Schrader of Fenton, Mo., driver of the #49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge fielded by BAM Racing, is scheduled to be interviewed live nationally on MSNBC Friday night, Feb. 6. He will appear on the nationally-acclaimed Scarborough County (10 p.m. Eastern) with the interview currently scheduled in the last half hour of the show.

2/5/04

Ferrari signs deal with Lego  Ferrari has signed a three-year licensing agreement with Lego, the world-famous Danish producer of toy bricks. The accord paves the way for the development of Ferrari single-seater models and a full Formula 1 set up including the pit area and podium. The series, entitled ‘Lego Racers’ will be distributed to toyshops during 2004. A life-size Ferrari single-seater constructed from 146,000 Lego bricks and fitted with original Bridgestone tires was on display at the presentation of the agreement, held today at the Toy Fair in Nürnberg. ‘A market niche with the highest growth potential for the development of the Ferrari brand is that of children’s toys’, declared Alberto Crippa, Director of Ferrari Licensing and Merchandising. ‘This new and significant collaboration with Lego is an important move in this direction, as, like Ferrari, Lego has been able to expand and yet maintain its identity as market leader, thanks to its competence and creative capacity.’

2/5/04

McLaren plans major upgrade  McLaren has revealed that it plans to introduce a B-spec version of the MP4-19 later this year in a bid to boost the title hopes of Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard, according to this week's AUTOSPORT magazine.

The new car, which is expected to be brought in during the middle of the season, will feature major changes in design to help lift the performance of the car. The B-spec is one stage of four development steps planned for 2004.

It is hoped that the strategy will help prevent the team from reaching the limit of development on the current MP4-19, which was the first 2004 contender to break cover when it hit the track in November.

"The car that finishes the season will not be a 19 – it will be a 19B," said team boss Ron Dennis. "It will be significantly different from the car we have in the first grand prix. We have got a very ambitious program through the year that will see the car evolve into a car that we will call a 'B'."

2/5/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Jordan 'Launch' New Car At Silverstone
Verstappen Back In Race For Jordan Seat
Massa Dazed After High-Speed Shunt
Jordan Get Same Engine As Jaguar
New BAR Enjoys Rapid Track-Debut
New Cars Shine At Busy Catalan Test
'Quick Nick' Smiles At Good Start
No Trust At Jordan Without 'The Boss'
Heidfeld Has Eye On Bigger Teams
Schu Flies Past Pole At Imola
Jordan Promise Return To Top-Six
McLaren Work To Improve MP4-19: Tester

Webber doubts Schu can make it seven

Even A Tank Can't Halt Schu Now
Renault Wants 'Junior' F1 Team
EJ Warns Silverstone To Keep Foot On Gas
Model Claims Affair With F1 Racer
Webber Admits 'Snags' On New Jaguar
Jaguar Avoids Factory-Fire
Now Jordan Threatens To Leave Britain

2/4/04

Shank names drivers for Rolex  Michael Shank Racing (MSR), fresh off its strong finish in the Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend, announced that it has signed two drivers for the next three events in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. Burt Frisselle of Kihei, Hawaii, and Oswaldo Negri, of Miami, Florida will share driving duties in the #6 Lexus-powered Doran JE4 beginning with the Grand Prix of Miami, a 250-mile sprint event which will take place on February 28 as part of the Toyota Indy 300 weekend.

Award-winning team owner Michael Shank is looking forward to the upcoming races to show that his teams strong finish in the Daytona event, where MSR made a late-race charge to finish fourth in class, was just the beginning to a strong first season in Rolex competition.

"My priority was to find two guys that are used to the sprint type format where every lap is driven as hard as possible,” said Shank. “The way that the rules are set up, the competition is so close that you have to bring the best package to every race, and we feel that these guys will help us do just that. For example, even though the race at Mont-Tremblant in May is a six hour event, we are still going to have to be running flat out every lap, and these guys can deliver in those conditions.”

2/4/04

Andretti and Rahal to appear at Auto Show  Racing legend Mario Andretti will meet fans and sign autographs at this year’s Chicago Auto Show from 2 - 4 p.m., Saturday, February 7 in the Bridgestone Americas’ exhibit (booth # 10).  Bobby Rahal, retired racing star and current owner of Team Rahal, will meet fans and sign autographs at this year’s Chicago Auto Show from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Sunday, February 8 in the Bridgestone Americas’ exhibit (booth # 10).

2/4/04

Successful debut of 2004 BAR Honda  Lucky Strike B·A·R Honda debuted its 2004 challenger, the B·A·R Honda 006, at the Circuit de Catalunya on Monday. Following its launch to the world's media on Sunday, Jenson Button has been putting the car through its paces for the last three days. Teammate Takuma Sato has been alongside Jenson in the '04 Concept car on each day.  More....

2/4/04

SKF to sponsor Burton  Roush Racing announced today that SKF will continue its sponsorship of Jeff Burton, the No. 99 team and Roush Racing through 2004. In addition, SKF will expand their sponsorship to be primary sponsor of the No. 99 Ford for the February Rockingham race and March Atlanta race. "We are certainly excited to have SKF and Chicago Rawhide as part of our team in 2004," said Burton. "The No. 99 team is looking forward to carrying the SKF and Chicago Rawhide logo on our car not only for Rockingham and Atlanta but as an associate throughout the year. They have been with us for six years and we are looking forward to another exciting year with them as part of our team."

2/4/04

Whoopi to be honorary starter for Daytona 500  Academy®, Emmy, Golden Globe, Grammy and Tony-Award-winning superstar Whoopi Goldberg will serve as Honorary Starter for the 46th annual Daytona 500. As the Daytona 500's Honorary Starter, Goldberg will drop the green flag, signaling drivers to begin racing the 2.5 mile course for its 200 laps - or 500 miles - duration.

Goldberg currently headlines NBC's hit comedy "Whoopi," which she also executive produces, starring as Mavis Rae, an opinionated pop-diva-turned-hotel-owner. Having made her feature film debut in Steven Spielberg's "The Color Purple," Goldberg earned both an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award for the film. Her lauded performance in the blockbuster "Ghost" won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

For the Daytona 500 festivities, she will join other popular celebrities who have duties for the drivers. Academy Award®-winner Ben Affleck ("Good Will Hunting," "Paycheck") will serve as Grand Marshal, proclaiming the command "Drivers, start your engines!" In addition, Affleck - commandeering the driver's seat of the official Grand Marshal pace car -- will also lead the 43-car field in pace laps before the race.

2/4/04

Gentilozzi: "Fool me once, shame on you"  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I am glad to read that Mr. Gentilozzi smells the coffee and doesn't intend to be 'fooled' again however I wish Mr. Gentilozzi would subscribe to a more pragmatic policy along the lines of, 'Screw me once my fault, Screw me twice your problem'. Mr. George has a demonstrated propensity to view ethics, good faith negotiations and diplomacy for weakness. When is common sense going to click in and the guys with the white hats (OWRS) on our side of the fence stop with the 'turn the cheek, then turn the other cheek' mentality and go after the guys with the black hats that have diminished open wheel racing in America to the extent that both series are fighting just to survive. The reality is Tony George has almost single-handedly delivered U.S. Open Wheel Racing to the brink of extinction. The guys with the black hats, Tony George and Company, continue using brave young men as cannon fodder and the almighty (subsidized) dollar to entice the likes of Michael Andretti et al to betray the very system (a Open Wheel Championship designed to determine the best driver based on a diversified format of street, road, and oval circuits) that allowed them to sit at the pinnacle of MotorSports and be in the position to betray all of us in the first place. Talk Turkey, call a spade a spade. Yes the fine young men that race in the IRL are certainly brave but they are participating in what is little more than an exhibition... a 'show' that is more about horsepower and politics (Yes, Paul Tracy did win the Indy 500, and Chevy was allowed to introduce an entirely new high horsepower engine mid-season) than it will ever be about a 'Drivers Championship'. With the IRL declaring that it will expand its overseas races and Tony George now stating that it needs to 'add' some street and road courses (Hello... it's called The Champ Car World Series) to be able to 'grow the sport' (IRL Speak for attract real spectators, vs. 'sold out' venues where NASCAR fans are required to accept IRL tickets with their purchase which they then discard resulting in a sea of 'IRL Fans' disguised as empty seats at a 'sold out' event), if not to reduce the ever mounting toll of shattered lives and cars. Right now it may only be the financial costs associated with the wrecked cars and hospital bills that force the IRL to road and street courses, where drivers are the single most important factor in determining the outcome of a race, but their end game is to kill Champ Car so they can continue to ignore the immense damage they are doing to the sport with impunity. Name and Address Withheld on Request  2/4/04 - Overheard from Paul Gentilozzi after last week's OWRS court victory over Tony George and the IRL for rights to the Champ Car Series - Both Tony George and Gentilozzi admitted they had discussed a possible reconciliation last year, but it didn’t sound like that topic would be broached for quite a while.  “I felt we had a chance to unite open-wheel racing,” said George after the hearing. “But I’m not interested in any kind of merger now that they’ve got those assets, and I’m not giving up the equity we have in the IRL.”   When asked about a similar scenario, Gentilozzi just smiled and replied: “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me,”  referring to the fact Tony George told him he wasn't going to bid on the CART assets.

2/4/04
Industry News

Oval planned outside of Madrid  This eTracks.com article talks about a combination oval track and road course being proposed by the Mayor of Pinto, a suburb of Madrid, Spain.  It will be interesting to see if it gets built and whether NASCAR, the IRL or Champ Car have a go at it.

2/4/04

Team Cheever Teleconference  IRL Weekly Teleconference With Red Bull Cheever Racing's Alex Barron, Ed Carpenter and Eddie Cheever
MODERATOR: Alex, what are your impressions of the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead.
ALEX BARRON: I think it's quite different than last year. Speeds were quite higher, but with high banking I think you will see a lot more of two people running side-by-side, possibly three at times, and I think it will cause for a better race when we go back there at end of February. Transcript

2/4/04

Vasser turned down ride in IRL  This quote from Autosport Magazine:  Paul Tracy: “We’ve got to get Jimmy [Vasser] a good ride as well.”   Indeed, ’96 CART champion Vasser is Champ Car racing’s most visible American star and he deserves a top ride. He turned down Bobby Rahal’s IRL/Honda seat because he doesn’t like the prospect of driving exclusively on ovals. Let's hope Forsythe, Kalkhoven and Gentilozzi will find Vasser the drive he deserves.

2/4/04

Ecclestone doubts small teams future  This Grant Motor Sport article says, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has cast doubt on the future of the Jaguar team for which Australian Mark Webber races. The 73-year-old Englishman, who maintains an emperor-like presence in F1, also says Australian team owner Paul Stoddart's Minardi and the struggling Jordan outfit need to improve or get out of the sport. Ecclestone's stinging comments came in an interview with Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport. Jaguar Racing is owned by the giant Ford Motor Company but has achieved little success in four years in F1. "How much longer can Ford go on this way?" Ecclestone pondered. Since Webber joined Jaguar a little more than a year ago Ford and the team have slashed budgets and placed greater emphasis on engineering substance rather than celebrity style. "They [Ford and Jaguar] have made a big cut in costs, no wonder they hired a driver with money," Ecclestone said. Amid reports that the 10 teams in F1 are set to enjoy a larger slice of the sports financial pie under recent restructuring and cost-cutting moves, Ecclestone said the problem was that teams always spent everything they get. He said big teams such as Ferrari, Williams and McLaren freighted 45 tons of equipment to GPs when 20 tons would be plenty. "Teams take 100 people to private testing [too], crazy stuff," Ecclestone said. He had little sympathy for cash- strapped Minardi and Jordan, which he said should sell up rather than beg. "They should look closely at themselves," Ecclestone said.

2/4/04

Ecclestone wants to cut F1 costs  This Financial Times article says, Bernie Ecclestone called for F1 to embark on a large cost-cutting exercise to "help level the playing field" for smaller teams. Big teams such as Ferrari should each be made to cut $100m from their budgets, he declared.  [Editor's Note: FIA President Max Mosley made similar statements recently, as have other F1 team bosses.  Then Ron Dennis says he wants to visit a NASCAR race and study their success.]

2/4/04

Banks want to sell out of F1  This Financial Times article says, The three creditor banks that control 75 per cent of Formula One's commercial rights holder, SLEC, want "to get the hell out of it" and would sell their share-holdings today if they could, according to F1 promoter Bernie Ecclestone.  But restrictions from motor sport's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, as to whom the banks could sell mean that their exit is almost certain to be delayed for several years. It would then take the form of a flotation, according to people close to negotiations on F1's future.  Just how much the three banks, JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers and Bayerische Landesbank, might recoup of their $1.6bn investment in F1 has become the subject of fresh speculation this week.  In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Ecclestone, 73, made clear that a great deal of negotiating remained to be done if a final agreement was to be reached, intended by the middle of this year.  The outline memorandum of understanding provides for the big carmakers involved - DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Ferrari, BMW and Renault - to have three seats on an extended SLEC board and for all teams to have an increased share of F1's total revenues from broadcasting and other commercial rights.  But, while full agreement has been reached on the structure for a revised financial share-out, "that isn't the major issue", said Mr Ecclestone. The FIA and the car manufacturers - who grouped themselves under the name GPWC to devise a rival championship if no deal was reached with SLEC and the banks - now appear headed for a confrontation over how much say the carmakers should have in the running of F1.

2/4/04

Massa hospitalized after accident  UPDATE A statement on the Circuit de Catalunya Web site said Massa left the track at the end of the main straight.  "The causes of the accident, which took place at 9.35am (local time) on the fourth lap of the morning testing session are unknown," it read.  "The car spun out across the escape gravel and slowed down before hitting the tire wall where it stopped.  The driver was able to walk away from the car, but the medical services decided to evacuate him to the Catalunya General Hospital as a precautionary measure where he will remain under observation."  Massa, who signed a two-year contract with Sauber in October, will partner Italian Giancarlo Fisichella this year. He returned to the team after spending last year as a test driver with Ferrari.   2/4/04 - Sauber's Felipe Massa has been taken to hospital following an accident during testing at Barcelona in Spain today. The accident occurred at 9.10am, two laps after he had set the fastest time at that point.  The accident appears to have been caused by a right-front suspension failure, although Sauber has yet to confirm this officially. Eyewitnesses report that the right-front wheel and suspension parts were detached from the chassis, although the car otherwise was not too badly damaged.  Massa is reported to have fainted after the crash, but regained consciousness before being taken to the medical centre and then on to the General Hospital of Catalunya at Sant Cugat in the outskirts of Barcelona.  Photos

2/4/04

Tracy: Tony George wanted to be king  This quote from Autosport Magazine:  After last week’s rather sad and sordid court case, CART champion Paul Tracy believes Tony George’s true motives in setting up the IRL in ’96 have been made clear.  “All the fans who have followed this battle and asked why can’t CART get together with Tony George now know the answer to that question,” Tracy said. “It’s because he never wanted to get together. People didn’t want to
hear that but now they know the truth. Tony George wanted to be king. That’s what this was all about.”

2/4/04

Alternate Quote of the Week  This quote from Autosport by Mario Haberfeld. “CART is the premier open-wheel racing series in the United States and the world,” he bubbled. Which is why he never bothered with F1…

2/4/04

New Concord Agreement delay  Autosport Magazine reports, Hopes that Formula 1’s long-term stability would be guaranteed by the early part of the year have been dashed, with leading figures claiming a new Concorde Agreement may now not be drafted until the summer at the earliest. Renault F1 chairman Patrick Faure believes it will take longer than originally expected and is only expecting a resolution by August.   “There are still a lot of things to do,” said Faure. “The target of the next three months is to write everything down and make sure the future of F1 is safe. That means having a new Concorde Agreement, new finance agreements and everything being transparent. Then we can have a new era of F1.”   But high-level F1 sources have claimed that there appears to be little interest from Ecclestone in reaching a swift resolution, especially because any new deals would mean handing over more money to the teams.

2/4/04

Ron Dennis wants to study NASCAR  Autosport Magazine reports McLaren boss Ron Dennis and managing director Martin Whitmarsh are planning to visit a NASCAR race this season to see what lessons can be learned from the category’s success.   Dennis wants to understand why the American stock-car series is so popular – especially because he considers Formula 1 to be better both technologically and in terms of entertainment.  “That category works and we have got a better show,” said Dennis.  "If something is as successful as NASCAR, then we must focus on understanding what the ingredients are.  We are dismissive of the technology [in NASCAR], but we are not dismissive of the show.”

2/4/04

Shanghai circuit nears completion  The Shanghai International Circuit - the first in China to be included on the FIA Formula One World Championship calendar - is nearing completion and all key installations should be in place by the end of March.

The first Chinese Grand Prix, which is scheduled for 26th September 2004, will be the 16th of this season's 18 races. It will mark the fulfillment of a project that began at the end of 2002, when initial preparation of the site began. Extensive underpinning commenced that September, to counter the soft local terrain, and the official groundbreaking ceremony took place on 17th October.   Since then, the workforce - 3,000 per day, on average - have operated round-the-clock in rotational shifts to make sure the circuit will be ready to take its place in motorsport's history books.

The distinctive circuit, which in sheer size will overshadow every other circuit in the World Championship, incorporates 14 wide-ranging corners - an equal blend of left- and right-handers that combine to form a 5.45-kilometre (3.39-mile) lap. Viewed from overhead, the circuit's shape is redolent of the Chinese symbol "Shang", which translates as "high" or "above". According to computer simulations, current- generation Formula One cars will lap the track in about 1m 34s at an average speed close to 205 km/h (127.4 mph). On the longest, 1175-metre straight, which links Turns 13 and 14, cars should reach a maximum speed of 327 km/h (203mph).

There will be room for 200,000 spectators - and those in the massive 29,500-seat grandstand opposite the pits will enjoy a "wide screen" view that allows them to see 80 per cent of the racetrack. This grandstand is unique in the world of Formula One in having two "wing-like" structures that link the spectator seating to the pit complex and house both a media centre and the circuit's hospitality suites.

The circuit's design and layout provide the drivers with that crucial ingredient - overtaking opportunities. Those that have seen the circuit are convinced that the new Shanghai International Circuit will provide spectators and television viewers alike with a great spectacle and a great race.  The 2004 Chinese Grand Prix, the first in the country, will be something to look forward to with enthusiasm.

2/4/04

Quote of Week: Vasser calls Tony George a hypocrite  This quote from National Speed Sport News after the OWRS win over Tony George who tried to kill the Champ Car series - "Tony George was a hypocrite for saying there needs to be one series. Let's remember he started his series. He split open wheel racing into two series. And I can tell you these guys (OWRS) are not interested in getting together with Tony George or the Speedway ever again." -- Jimmy Vasser

2/4/04

Mosley will seek reelection  Max Mosley has confirmed that he intends to stand for another term of office as FIA President when the next election comes in October 2005. The 63-year-old has been FIA President since 1993 and prior to that spent two years running the FISA, the FIA's sporting subsidiary, until that organization was merged into the FIA. If elected Mosley would be 69 by the time the next election comes in October 2009. This would not be unusual as his predecessor Jean-Marie Balestre was 72 when he stood down as FIA President in 1993. "It is early days," said Mosley, "but health and sanity permitting I will stand again."  Grandprix.com

2/4/04

Gonzalez to drive PK Racing car at Sebring  Roberto Gonzalez ran two races for Dale Coyne last year and is scheduled to get in the PK Racing car tomorrow. The team is understood to be considering a second entry this season. “I'm excited, it's been a long time,” the Mexican said, “I feel very positive about this chance and we'll see how it goes tomorrow. To have the opportunity to get back in a Champ Car is great and I'll be ready.”  Crash.net

2/4/04

Conquest to remain in Champ Cars  Conquest Racing will race in this season's Champ Car World Series, team boss Eric Bachelart confirmed during yesterday's test at Sebring.  “We'll have at least one car, but maybe two or three,” Bachelart said with a grin, “My sponsor, Mi-Jack, is a very supportive partner of the team and there was never any pressure to move back to the IRL.   We are a business, though, and, at some stage, you had to look at other alternatives in case the Champ Car series was not going to run. But this is really what we want to do. We feel very good about the series.”  Barber Dodge graduate Nelson Philippe had a second run with the team at Sebring on Tuesday, while 2003 driver Mario Haberfeld is due to occupy the cockpit today.  “I'm only three-tenths off the best time so far,” Philippe said with a smile, “It's a pretty big jump from Barber Dodge to these cars, but this car is like a big go-kart. I'm not intimidated by the speed and, right now, it's just a big go-kart with a lot of speed and a lot of power.” Haberfeld, who ran with Conquest in his Champ Car debut season last year, was invited to test by team boss Eric Bachelart, but admitted that he was pursuing a range of offers for 2004.   "We have developed some things during the winter and Eric asked me to test them," Haberfeld said, "I am still talking with other teams, but I thought that it was important for me to come back and work with Conquest. We built a good relationship last year and continuity is always a factor in being competitive."   The Brazilian admitted that he was happy to know where his future lay, after much uncertainty over the future of the Champ Car series during the winter.  "I am happy to be back in action, as it has been four months since the last race in Australia," he said, "CART (sic) is the premier open wheel racing series in the United States and I am happy to see it continue.  "I can finally start making definite decisions regarding the 2004 season, and build upon my achievements of last season. 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 2004 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." Crash.net

2/4/04

Kelley Racing files first entry  Kelley Racing on Feb. 3 filed entries for the season-opening Toyota Indy 400 and the Indy Japan 300, becoming the first team to file entries for the 2004 Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series season. The Indianapolis-based team named 1996 co-champion Scott Sharp as driver of its No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone entry. John Worth will serve as Sharp's chief mechanic, while Paul Harcus was named team manager. Sharp, a resident of Jupiter, Fla., and a native of Norwalk, Conn., is the IndyCar® Series' iron man, starting a record 74 consecutive races. He will add to that streak by taking the green flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Toyota Indy 400 on Feb. 29. The 2001 Indianapolis 500 pole winner won an IRL IndyCar® Series event for the seventh consecutive season when he captured the inaugural Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi -- the first IRL event held outside of the United States. Sharp will defend his title when the IRL IndyCar® Series returns to Japan on April 17.

2/4/04
Star Mazda

Sellers tests new Star Mazda car  Lynx Racing driver Bryan Sellers, who will be the full-time driver of the team’s #19 Swift 014.a in the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Series, got a taste of something different recently when he spent a day in the first production model of the 2004 Star Formula Mazda Race car. The all-new, high-tech car -- powered by the ultra-reliable, 240 horsepower Mazda ‘Renesis’ rotary engine and now with a carbon composite chassis replacing the tube frame of the previous model -- opened more than a few eyes during the all-day session at Southern California’s Buttonwillow Raceway test facility, lapping less than two seconds off the pace of the Sierra Sierra Atlantic car being tested at the same track. “The Star Mazda was surprisingly fast and a lot of fun to drive,” says Sellers, the 2002 Formula Ford Zetec champion with seven poles and eight victories. “This will be a great car for drivers to graduate to Atlantic from. We worked through a pretty comprehensive development program and the car responded really well. The day was good for me, too, since I got to work with the Lynx team, including Rick Cameron, who will be my Atlantic engineer in 2004. It really helped us all knock some of the between-seasons rust off and get the lines of communication up and working.” Rick Cameron, the Lynx Racing engineer who worked with Sellers during the test, was also enthused about the results of the day, saying “This is a safe, fast and well-designed race car, and Bryan did an excellent job. His technical feedback was Champ Car caliber – just what we expect of a Lynx driver -- and will help the Star Mazda series provide a really good baseline setup for the customer cars. Now that we know how competitive this car is, Lynx and the other Atlantic teams will definitely be paying more attention to the young drivers coming up through the Star Mazda series.” The Star Mazda Series is one of the most successful racing series in the U.S. with an average of more than 30 cars starting each of the Star Mazda Series events in 2003. All series races are broadcast on Speed Channel, and a new title sponsorship from Goodyear Tires, along with the participation of Mazda and other sponsors, assures a minimum $500,000 prize fund each year through 2008. Star Mazda race cars are assembled by the series in a Southern California facility. The carbon fiber chassis are built to FIA specifications, and are powered by a 240 horsepower Mazda “Renesis” rotary engine mated to a 6-speed manual transaxle with ‘no lift’ shift. Performance figures include 0 to 60 mph acceleration in 2.78 seconds (comparable to an Atlantic car), and a top speed of 130 mph. Lynx Racing

2/4/04

Latest F1 News in Brief  

Sato's Turn To Clock New Lap Record
Jordan Gets Smokey Cash-Boost
Nurburgring Wins New F1 Contract
Alonso Encouraged By R24 Progress
New Jordan Racer Is F1's 'Lazarus'
Ecclestone's Right - And Wrong, Says Stewart
Piquet Takes Step Closer To F1
Teams Should Buy And Sell Racers: Mosley
'Unfair' Points-System Is Here To Stay
Burti Has Not Signed Ferrari Contract

Ron Dennis Changes Tune Over Schu
Chiefs Slam Touted F1 Rev-Limits
Mark Webber, Stay Out Of Bahrain
F1 Has Abandoned Tobacco-Snub

2/3/04

Patrick Racing may defect to the IRL?  This AP article talks about Pat Patrick's possible move to the IRL.  What it does not say is the fact he sold his Champ Car team to Kevin Kalkhoven for Emerson Fittipaldi and if he goes to the IRL, it will be as a new team, probably run under the Kelley Racing roof. -- Patrick Racing will leave the troubled Championship Auto Racing Teams series and join the rival Indy Racing League if a sponsorship package can be arranged.  "I just think CART has been completely mishandled and, even though it's very disappointing to me personally, I just think it's time to move on," team owner U.E. "Pat" Patrick said today. "This makes me very sad, but I finally accepted this is the way it has to be."  CART, founded in 1978 by Patrick and car owner Roger Penske, became a publicly traded company in 1998 and filed for bankruptcy late last year. Its assets were sold in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis last week to a group headed by three other team owners who want to revive the series under the name Open Wheel Racing.  Penske left CART for the IRL two years ago.  "I have enough funding to do it right now, if I fund part of it myself," Patrick told The Associated Press during a telephone interview. "I'm just not sure yet what we will do, but we have to make some decisions pretty fast."  The IRL season opens Feb. 29 at Miami-Homestead Speedway. CART officials did not return calls seeking comment.  IRL spokesman Fred Nation said the IndyCar Series would be happy to have Patrick Racing in its fold.  "Many things in racing have come full circle in the last 10 years," he said. "Pat Patrick is a legend in open-wheel racing, and we would certainly welcome him."  Here is a related article from Patrick's hometown paper.

2/3/04

Marketing folks not happy with NASCAR  In a move that raises the financial risk for the marketers who sponsor race cars and their drivers, NASCAR is instituting a new scoring system that will more tightly restrict eligibility to win the Nextel Cup Championship. Marketers, who covet the intense media exposure that follows the winner back to Pit Road, are fuming. Some tell AdAge.com they are seriously reassessing their season-long NASCAR sponsorship budgets, which can range from between $15 million and $30 million. "We've made a commitment to our team for this year," said an executive for a marketer that sponsors one of the 42 NASCAR drivers. "But if our guy isn't one of the 10 drivers competing for the championship, then maybe next year we do look at [sponsoring] the first 26 races and then seeing what happens." More at Ad Age

2/3/04

Fellows back behind the wheel  American Le Mans Series GTS champion Ron Fellows was happy to be back in the saddle ahead of schedule, driving a race car for the first time since having shoulder surgery Dec. 1.   Fellows and the rest of the factory Chevrolet Corvette team spent Sunday and Monday testing at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway in preparation for the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Mar. 17-20. Fellows, who drove the last two races of the 2003 season with a painfully dislocated shoulder, admitted he was not back to full strength yet. More.....

2/3/04

Ryan Hunter-Reay tops test times at Sebring  AutoRacing1.com observers were at the Sebring track all day timing cars.  Here are the fast times from today:

1. Ryan Hunter-Reay Herdez Lola 51.90 sec.

2. Adrian Fernandez Fernández Racing Lola 52.54 sec

3. Mika Salo PK Racing Lola 52.55 sec.

4. Nelson Philippe Conquest Reynard 52.92 sec. (Good time for a Reynard and a rookie)

Tomorrow Mario Dominguez will be in Hunter-Reay's car and both will test on Thursday.  Haberfeld shows up on Wednesday as well.  “We had some fuel pressure problems and then we had a switch that was bad, so they had to replace the whole wiring loom,” Hunter-Reay explained, “But we ran the fastest time this morning, and the track is still not at it's best yet, so, overall, I'm pretty pleased with it so far. I've got another day for sure with the team on this test, which is great. Big thanks to Herdez for that.”

2/3/04

NASCAR names new CFO  In a move to enhance NASCAR's business leadership within the motorsports industry, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France announced today the appointment of R. Todd Wilson as Chief Financial Officer. Wilson, who will report directly to France, will serve as NASCAR's highest ranking financial officer. He will oversee all financial issues affecting the sanctioning body and continue to serve as Chief Financial Officer of NASCAR Broadcasting and NASCAR Digital Entertainment. Wilson's most recent responsibilities include serving as the Assistant Treasurer of NASCAR and Chief Financial Officer of NASCAR Broadcasting, NASCAR Digital Entertainment, and NASCAR Images. The 41-year-old Wilson holds both a bachelor's degree of science and a master's degree in accounting from the University of Florida. He is a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants (FICPA). A NASCAR employee since 1999, Wilson has held several key positions in the company. Business planning, budgeting process and all tax issues have been among his responsibilities. Prior to joining NASCAR, Wilson's 14-year career in public accounting included an extensive working background in many industries. Wilson will continue to be based at NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla. He and wife Sharon have one son, Brad. "In addition to working closely with me on several major projects, including our broadcasting partnerships, and long term strategic planning, Todd has worked with our entire family over the years and has a solid working knowledge of our industry," France said. "Todd shares a strong passion for this sport and we're pleased to have him as part of our senior management team."

2/3/04

Champ Car statement on Barber Dodge Pro suspension  What follows is a statement by the Champ Car World Series regarding yesterday’s announcement that the Barber Dodge Pro Series would be unable to compete in 2004. The statement should be attributed to Champ Car when used in print.  “Champ Car is saddened to see the suspension of race activities by the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2004. For the past 18 years, they have provided some of the best racing in North America and served as a fertile proving ground for young, aspiring Champ Car drivers such as Juan Pablo Montoya, Bryan Herta and Kenny Brack. For the last three seasons, Champ Car has directly sanctioned the Pro Series and our fans have seen the dawn of great careers including those of Ryan Hunter-Reay, AJ Allmendinger and Leonardo Maia.  Key personnel at both Champ Car and Open Wheel Racing Series worked diligently with Skip Barber officials to put together a sanctioning agreement for the 2004 season. However, the recent court proceedings and the subsequent legal paperwork prevent Champ Car from signing any sanctioning agreements until after the closing of the sale. Other series have found themselves in a similar situation in their 2004 relationship with Champ Car and have maintained operations but unfortunately, the Skip Barber organization decided it could not keep the Pro Series viable and chose to suspend activities.  The relationship with Skip Barber has always been much more than just sanctioning the Pro Series. At its heart, it is a marketing partnership that has been mutually beneficial for both organizations.

2/3/04

Barber Dodge cancels Dodge Pro Series  2nd UPDATE Another reader writes, I find the news regarding the Barber Dodge Pro Series very interesting. As one reader states, it is in fact relatively easy for a driver to transfer from the BDPS to Toyota Atlantic. However, the two are very different in terms of actual lap times. A very viable series that would fill this void but has not been a part of the CART ladder in the past due to politics (SCCA sanctioned-not CART) is the US Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship. It is very similar to Formula 3 these days (faster than BDPS slightly slower than Toyota Atlantic.) Fran Am has shown its inability to do proper business and the F3 series has come and gone. Meanwhile FF2000 has survived independently on its own merit. It should be a part of the recognized system. It has contributed to the development of drivers like Jimmy Vasser, Alex Tagliani, Aaron Justus, Greg Ray among many others along with some recent champions who will be making their mark in Toyota Atlantic this year.  CART's ladder system is flawed because it acknowledges drivers in specific, pre-approved series. This limits a broad talent pool. During this time of re-defining their future and methods, they should acknowledge all open-wheel champions in the USA and move American talent to the top!.  Keep up the good work, Beaux Barfield  Dear Beaux, What is clear to us is the fact there are simply too many competing open wheel series at various levels.  This dilutes the product, confuses the fans, and weakens road racing.  We believe some consolidation is necessary to strengthen each rung of the ladder, and clearly define for the fans, the various levels.  In stick and ball sports you have Early youth-->High School-->College-->Minors-->Pro   At each level, the rules are almost exactly the same.  In racing, there are so many series and so many rulebooks, how can we expect fans to ever understand it all?  Open Wheel Racing needs consolidation and better definition.  Mark C. 2/3/04 - A reader chimes in - You know I think it would be ultimately better if the Barber Dodge just combined with the Atlantic Series. Considering the closeness in its engine powers it would drastically increase the Atlantic fields and thereby bring all the drivers closer to Champ Cars. Until the Atlantic can bring the power up in their engines, it really makes sense to combine the two for the betterment of all road racing. I can easily see the drivers in Barber Dodge being able to get up to speed quick enough to make it in the Atlantics. I hope that many of the Barber Dodge drivers can in fact run in the Atlantics this year. Then maybe OWRS will see that the gap between the Barber Dodge and Atlantics is hopelessly too close and do something to speed up the Atlantics. They're way too slow to be the first step down from the Champ Cars. This may actually work out for the better for everybody. I hope everybody finds a ride for the future.  James M. Shaw  Dear James, You are absolutely correct.  There was too much overlap between Barber Dodge Pro and Atlantics. When I first heard about Formula BMW I doubted Barber Dodge Pro would survive. I asked that question and got and oh yes, they are going to continue. The fact of the matter is that the Champ Car ladder has too many rungs now.  It needs to be trimmed to:
karting-->Formula BMW-->F3-->Atlantics-->Champ Cars.
Barber Dodge should field the F3 series spec cars starting in 2005. Atlantics should move closer to the current F3000 spec. That to me is a perfect ladder system - 5 rungs.
1. Karting 15 years and younger
2. Formula BMW 16 & 17 year olds
3. F3 18 year olds
4. Atlantics/F3000 19 and 20 year olds
5. Champ Cars 21 and older. 

If you can't make it to the top in 5 rungs you probably should find another career.  Mark C.  2/2/04 - Skip Barber Racing School LLC announced today that it plans to further elevate the profile of its highly successful Formula Dodge National Championship Series (FDNC) Presented by RACER in 2004 to provide even more visibility to one of the most important series for aspiring professional race car drivers. As part of its 2004 schedule, the National Series will be supporting the 52nd running of the Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring, Mar. 17-20, and the Champ Car race at Road America Aug. 6-8. In addition to an announcement concerning increases in scholarship funding for FDNC competitors, its complete schedule will also be released shortly. The company also announced that it will not run the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2004 in order to update the series for the future and focus on the National Series. The move was precipitated by the widespread uncertainty in U.S. open-wheel racing resulting from the ownership status of Champ Car. "The delay settling the ownership status of Champ Car, our sanctioning body, prevented us, like many others, from adequately preparing for the 2004 season," said Aaron Hollander, President and CEO of Skip Barber Racing School. "We were unable to negotiate a mutually beneficial sanctioning relationship that would allow us to operate a viable series for our drivers and sponsors. Having said that, we look forward to the possibility of continuing to work with and support Champ Car in numerous ways this year and in the future. We wish them nothing but success." Hollander went on to say, "We are exploring all alternatives for 2005 that meet the requirements of a changing marketplace. Skip Barber Racing participates in nearly every facet of motorsports and we are afforded a large number of opportunities for continued growth. We are very optimistic about the future of racing in North America."

2/3/04

Toyota Atlantic reinstates C2 category  In a move aimed at providing a cost-effective alternative for teams and drivers wishing to compete in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, series officials announced today that it has reinstated the C2 category to the series, making properly-updated Swift 008.a chassis eligible to compete in the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

The C2 category is a "championship within a championship," as drivers and teams competing in the category will be eligible for overall race victories and prize money, as well as earning points toward the season-ending C2 championship. In addition to providing a more economical option for teams and drivers to compete in the series, it is anticipated that the reinstatement of the C2 category will also increase the series' car count.

"In this difficult economy, we are aware of several teams that were not able to put together a proper budget to run the full 2003 schedule with the Swift 014.a chassis," said Vicki O'Connor, Toyota Atlantic president. "As a result, we saw the number of cars in our paddock shrinking. We are also aware that there are several Swift 008.a chassis currently competing in various club series. It made sense to open our doors to those teams, drivers, and cars and allow them to compete once again in the Toyota Atlantic Championship. I have already been in contact with several teams and drivers that have expressed an interest in participating in C2."

C2 points will be awarded in the same manner as the overall series, with 20 points going to the highest finisher in the C2 category, followed by 16 for second in class, 14 for third, 12 for fourth, 11 for fifth, etc. Points are distributed down to the 15th place finisher in each category. One bonus point will also be awarded to the fastest C2 qualifier on each qualifying day, as well as to the C2 driver that leads the most laps within the category at each event.

Whereas cars running for the overall Toyota Atlantic Championship will be using a single engine builder, cars competing in the C2 category will be allowed to use alternate engine builders. All engine builders will be subject to the approval of series officials and engines must comply with series rules. Additional rules information is available by contacting Toyota Atlantic president Vicki O'Connor at (317) 715-4100.

This will be the first time since 1999 that Toyota Atlantic has offered the C2 championship. That year, there were a total of seven C2 entries and Bob Siska won the season-ending C2 title.

2/3/04

TAG Heuer named Official Timekeeper  TAG Heuer, a world leader in prestigious sports watches and chronographs since 1860, has been named the Official Timekeeper and Scorer of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.

Making the announcement at a press briefing Feb. 3 was Tony George, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League, and Jean-Christophe Babin, president and CEO of TAG Heuer.

2003 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon and longtime TAG Heuer partner and IRL star Sarah Fisher joined the executives at the New York press event.  More....

2/3/04

NASCAR's power elite  The concentration of power among a handful of NASCAR team owners is becoming one of the most serious threats to the sport of stock car racing as the 2004 season-opener approaches.

That's according to Bruton Smith, who as head of Speedway Motorsports is one of the most powerful men in the sport.

And according to Jimmy Spencer, a struggling driver who is certainly not one of the powerful. Spencer, in fact, is one of several drivers in danger of being squeezed out of the sport by the trend.

NASCAR president Mike Helton says that executives in Daytona are keeping an eye on the situation.

Nine people - Jack Roush, Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Roger Penske, Joe Gibbs, Teresa Earnhardt, Chip Ganassi, Robert Yates and Ray Evernham - effectively control some 30 NASCAR Nextel Cup teams, almost every top team on the tour.

The expense of running a NASCAR team has become simply shocking over the past five years - estimates range from $5 million to $12 million a season. And when the economy began to contract three years ago, marginal teams were pushed into the ditch.  More....

2/3/04

Nürburgring gets race extension through 2009  Bernie Ecclestone has struck a deal with the local authority to keep F1 Grand Prix racing at Nurburgring through to 2009. The 1999 contract to race the European Grand Prix ran out this year. Germany hosts two Grands Prix. The German GP, which is raced at Hockenheim, has a contract through 2008.

2/3/04

Sato lowers Button's record time in hybrid car  Takuma Sato, driving the team's all-black hybrid machine, set a new mark of 1m13.787s this morning in Barcelona, eclipsing the record time set by teammate Jenson Button in the new 2004 car yesterday.  As with Button's record yesterday, Sato set his time on a low fuel, flat-out qualifying run. The hybrid machine that he is running in features 2003-spec bodywork, although most of the key internal components, such as the engine and the gearbox, are new.  Button, who lapped the circuit yesterday in 1m13.867s, is continuing development work on the new 006 today. Sato is due to begin his running in the new car at the team's next test. 

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m13.797s 76
2 Fernando Alonso Renault M 1m14.687s 71*
3 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m15.129s 52*
4 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m15.206s 77*
5 Jenson Button BAR-Honda M 1m15.462s 26*
6 Frank Montagny Renault M 1m15.610s 63*
7 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1m15.779s 69
8 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m15.992s 78*
9 Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m16.009s 83*
10 Nelson Piquet Jr Williams-BMW M 1m16.431s 67
11 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m16.610s 72*
12 Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes M 1m16.875s 12*
13 Giancarlo Fisichella Sauber-Petronas B 1m17.153s 30*
14 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m17.315s 23* Autosport

2/3/04

Schwan Food to sponsor Schrader  A company that grew from "one man and one truck" into an American food-industry powerhouse will join forces with NASCAR's fastest-growing Cup team beginning with the 2004 season.

Announcing a multi-year agreement, Schwan's Home Service - a unit of The Schwan Food Company -- will sponsor BAM Racing's #49 Dodge and veteran driver Ken Schrader in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. The announcement was made today by Beth Ann Morgenthau, owner of BAM Racing, and M. Lenny Pippin, president and CEO of The Schwan Food Company.

"We are very excited to have one of the best-known names in the food industry join us as we work towards our first pole, our first race victory and our first championship as a team," Ms. Morgenthau said in making the announcement. "Schwan is a well-known and highly respected name in the American and European food industry, and we're extremely pleased to be partnering with them.

"The fact that The Schwan Food Company grew from a small dairy home-delivery business in 1952 to what it is today is not lost on us," she continued. "Their faith in a race team that began small and is building into what we feel will become a powerhouse within NASCAR means a great deal to us. We are excited about the marketing possibilities for Schwan, as well as the competitive possibilities for BAM Racing.

2/3/04
Industry News

Dodge Ram beats Ford truck  The Dodge Ram SRT-10 unleashed its Viper power today, taking its place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "World's Fastest Production Pickup Truck."

Only recently off the Saltillo, Mexico, assembly line and not modified in any way for additional power or enhanced aerodynamics, the Dodge Ram SRT-10 posted a two-lap, both-directions average speed of 154.587 mph over a "flying kilometer" on the 4.71-mile oval at the DaimlerChrysler Proving Grounds here in Chelsea. The record run by the Dodge Ram SRT-10 was certified by Guinness World Records and the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). The previous record was 147.54 mph, set last July by the Ford SVT F-150 Lightning, before the Dodge Ram SRT-10 went into production.

"When we set out to develop the Dodge Ram SRT-10, our mission was to create the ultimate performance truck," said Dan Knott, Director, Street and Racing Technology. "With 500 horsepower, sports car-like handling, world-class braking and race-inspired design appointments, we know we reached our goal. Setting the Guinness record today simply confirms that, and solidifies the Ram SRT-10 as the ultimate -- and fastest -- performance pickup."

According to Guinness World Records rules, the record speed had to be the average of two one-kilometer runs in opposite directions along the same track, made within an hour of one another. The timing equipment had to be certified as accurate to within 1/1000th of a second, and supplied and operated by a qualified third party. The speed of each run was timed by means of sensors at the start and finish of the measured kilometer, thus giving an average speed over the full distance.

2/3/04

Benson & Hedges re-ups with Jordan  Jordan Grand Prix has announced today that Benson & Hedges will be a major sponsor of the Jordan Ford team in the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Manufactured in the UK by Gallaher Group PLC, the Benson and Hedges brand has been associated with Jordan Grand Prix since 1996 when it became the team's title sponsor.

Since then it has enjoyed considerable success in Formula One with Benson and Hedges Jordan winning its first Grand Prix with a one-two for Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher in Belgium in 1998; Heinz-Harald Frentzen added a further two victories the following season in France and Italy and a fourth win was included in the tally in Brazil 2003 with Giancarlo Fisichella.

Eddie Jordan, chief executive of Jordan Grand Prix said: "The whole team is delighted that Benson and Hedges will be with us for a ninth consecutive season.

"Benson and Hedges have been an integral part of our success in the past and they have shown remarkable loyalty to us. I'm proud that we will be racing once again in their distinctive yellow colors and we're looking forward to the season with excitement."

2/3/04

Latest F1 News in Brief  

F1 Teams To Abandon Europe?
Button Sets Lap Record On Fire
Renault Vow To Trouble The Stopwatch
Trust-Branded EJ14 Debuts In England
FIA Wants Shorter F1 Schedule
Ralf Returns To F1 Action
New Jordan Passes FIA Crash-Tests
Sato: It's Tough To Test
Schu About To Breathe His Last: Mosley
Burti Signs As Part-Time Ferrari Tester
FIA Assures French F1 Future
Silverstone Owners To Blame: FIA Chief
JB Reveling In Villeneuve's Wake?
Spaniard Lauds Barcelona-Track Changes
F1 Needs 'Rebels' Like Villeneuve
Ralf Unimpressed By Lap Records
China Reveal Cheap F1 Tickets
Imola Reacts Coolly To F1-Scrap
It's Time To Deliver: BAR's Richards
McLaren Doubts British-Team Exodus

2/3/04

Why does Bernie want more GP's?  A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Why does Bernie Ecclestone want 20 F1 races per year, up from 16, then 17, 18 and soon 20?  Ralph Parsons, Oakridge, CA  Dear Ralph, When in doubt, follow the money.  Bernie's company makes money from each race.  The more races and more money.  Bernie doesn't make any money from testing, that is why he wants to cut it short.  If he could find a way to make money from testing, you would see the teams test 7 days a week.  He'd find a way.  Mark C.

2/2/04

Ticket sales strong at Milwaukee  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I called to renew my Milwaukee Ticket Sales for the CART/OWRS race there. The operator said that they were very busy handling the call volume in regards to the race. Regards Leon Walters  Dear Leon, Now that the uncertainty is removed about Champ Car's future, we expect ticket sales to be quite good this year.  Tony George did the series a very big favor.  By trying to kill it Tony  brought the series much free publicity and has rejuvenated a somewhat complacent customer base.  We hear as OWRS reveals their plans, some of which are very interesting, it will stimulate interest even further.  Mark C.

2/2/04

Open Wheel train wreck  This SPEED TV article describes the current situation in open wheel racing (i.e. the CART/IRL split) as a train wreck.  While the article makes a lot of valid points, it misses some key ones.  1) In order for the open wheel racing community to ever come back together a merger must happen on equal terms, not one side killing the other as Tony George has attempted since he created the IRL.   2) Open Wheel Race cars belong on road courses.  That is the way it is in the rest of the world.  The IRL tried putting them on high speed ovals and the result was death and devastation.   Common sense tells you that racing Open Wheel cars on concrete walled ovals is absolutely absurd. Not only are we seeing an unconscionable number of serious bone breaking injuries, but the series produced approximately $13 million of damaged cars in one year (2003).  3) We must give OWRS a chance to prove themselves.  Too many people are predicting they will fail long before they even start.  The IRL is already a failed concept.  Was open wheel racing supposed to rally around a failed business plan of mostly oval racing?  Absolutely not.  Champ Car attendance is larger than the IRL's and their network TV ratings better.  If any rallying gets done, it needs to be around the Champ Car concept for Open Wheel Racing, not the IRL concept.  Then, and only then, will there be something to build upon.  Which would put open wheel racing back to 1995, its biggest most successful year until Tony George destroyed it all by creating the IRL.  Mark C.

2/2/04

Scott Wimmer arrested for DWI  UPDATE  Wimmer was also charged Saturday with hit and run after the pickup registered to the High Point-based Bill Davis Racing team was found overturned with three tires missing about a mile away from his home, Washington said. When officers arrived at the scene, Wimmer wasn't there. He was found hiding behind a bed at his home, according to the police report.  2/1/04 - Scott Allan Wimmer, the 28-year-old driver for Bill Davis Racing's Nextel Cup team, was arrested for driving while impaired early Saturday morning when he wrecked a blue, 2004 Dodge Ram pickup truck owned by Bill Davis Racing. According to High Point police records, at about 2 a.m. Saturday morning, Wimmer was charged with DWI after officers gave him a Breathalyzer test and found he had a 0.15 blood alcohol content, nearly twice the state legal limit for intoxication, 0.08. Just over one hour later, at about 3:15 a.m., Wimmer's wife Jody Ambrose, was charged with misdemeanor obstruction and delay, according to High Point police records. High Point police officials would not comment on details of the charges. Messages left at Wimmer's home were not returned. Contacted at his home Saturday night, Bill Davis, owner of the High Point-based Bill Davis Racing, would not comment on the incident. The charge comes at a time when Wimmer is ascending NASCAR's hierarchy. Last fall, he moved up to the Nextel Cup Series after three full seasons in Busch Series racing. Wimmer is slated to drive the No. 22 Dodge for Davis Racing, a car sponsored by Caterpillar. When asked about how the DWI charge would affect Wimmer's status on the team, Davis only said, "We really don't have any comment right now. We are kind of figuring out the facts." Court dates for Wimmer and Ambrose are both set for March 10. - High Point Enterprise

2/2/04

Skinner to drive R&D car in 500  Mike Skinner, the 1995 NASCAR Truck Series champion who is returning to the series in 2004, will drive the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing (RCR) Chevrolet Monte Carlo at the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500.

The primary car for the effort is the former No. 90 Chevrolet Monte Carlo that was last driven by John Andretti in the EA Sports 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (qualified 24th and finished 15th). The team will be led by RCR's General Manager, Bobby Hutchens, and NASCAR veteran crew chief Bobby Leslie and the crew will consist of RCR's research and development team. A sponsor announcement for the program will be forthcoming.

"We have planned all along to run an R&D car in the Daytona 500 and Mike has always been so good in the restrictor-plate races so it just made a lot of sense," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. "The program was already in the making when we put our deal together with Kerry Earnhardt so it's not something that will take the place of that program at all. Kerry will still be running those five races later this year. Mike has a great shot at winning the race. He's led some races and really finished good in our cars so we think he'll do great in our R&D car."

"This is an unbelievable opportunity," said Skinner. "Richard and I have maintained our friendship through all of our business dealings. We had a lot of success together, winning just about every non-points race that you can win. We parted company a couple years ago but we never parted our friendship and that's very special to me. Richard giving me this opportunity to help him and help me is just a tribute to that friendship and I think it really makes a statement."

Skinner will also be competing in the Feb. 7 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, driving the No. 10 Chevrolet, team car to the No. 01 Chevrolet he won the pole in last year for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Boris Said also earned a pole in the No. 01 last year (Sonoma) and will drive the No. 10 in a number of races this season so Skinner is using the No. 10 for the pole-winners only event.

2/2/04

Record Daytona 500 purse increases $2 million, dwarfs Indy 500  The 46th annual Daytona 500, the biggest and most prestigious race in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, will boast the biggest purse in the history of stock car racing. The posted awards for this year's Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 15 are $15,972,313, an increase of nearly $2 million from last year's posted awards. The posted awards for last year's Daytona 500, won by Michael Waltrip, were $14,030,129. "The Daytona 500 is the ultimate prize in stock car racing," Speedway President Robin Braig said. "It only stands to reason that the biggest race of the year command the biggest purse." The first driver to take the checkered flag in the Daytona 500 will pocket a minimum of $1,391,730. The second, third, fourth and fifth-place finishers will receive a minimum of $986,325, $693,550, $541,750 and $413,950 respectively. The last-place finisher in the Daytona 500 will earn a minimum of $177,058.

2/2/04

Champ Car sets team travel limits to reduce cost  In the first of what will be a number of positive rule changes for the 2004 Champ Car World Series season, the series today established roster limitations for each of its teams in an effort to help the teams control racing costs.  For the 2004 season, each team in the Champ Car World Series will be allowed up to 15 working crew members per entered car per event. These 15 members will be the only team personnel permitted to work on the race car during a Champ Car weekend. Team owners, drivers, public relations and marketing personnel do not count toward the roster limitations.  The move is intended to lessen the financial burden on Champ Car teams by limiting their travel expenditures, and is a step toward leveling the playing field for each of the teams. The chosen 15 crew members will be designated with a special annual credential, which may be transferred throughout the team as long as the limit of 15 crew personnel per event is not exceeded.   “The roster limitation rule mirrors what we see in the NFL and the NBA,” said Champ Car Senior Vice-President of Operations John Lopes. “Much of the attraction of sports is in a team pitting its top personnel against the best that its opponents can muster. We believe Champ Car fans will be engaged by the added competition that this rule provides.”  The new rule will be referred to as rule 6.4.1 in the soon-to-be-published 2004 Champ Car Rule Book.

2/2/04

Derek Daly back in F1 car  Former Formula One driver Derek Daly returned to his roots on Monday February 2nd when he drove the Jordan-Ford EC13 at Silverstone, England. Daly was testing the car as part of a television show he is producing for Speed Channel in America. Derek’s test will also be featured in an upcoming issue of Road & Track magazine. “Eddie Jordan still owes me money from the first racing car I bought from him in 1973 and this is part of his payback” said Daly. “I use these tests to keep me current with contemporary racing cars because I believe it helps with my television broadcasts.” After his test Derek commented: “My biggest problem was trying to keep my head upright during acceleration such were the forces leaving low speed corners. This is probably the last time I will drive a Formula One car. I am no longer physically or mentally able to drive them”. Although retired from competition since 1992, Derek Daly Track Tests have been taking place since 1994 when he drove the Williams FW 15B at Paul Ricard. Since then he has tested a variety of cars including; Champ cars, Formula One, World Sports cars, Indy Racing League and NASCAR Nextel Cup cars. Derek Daly owns and operates Derek Daly Performance Driving Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has been in television broadcasting with, ESPN, Speed Channel, and CBS Sports since 1985.

2/2/04
Industry News

New material to replace carbon-fiber?  Treasury International, Inc. (BULLETIN BOARD: TRUY) (Treasury) announces its potential acquisition, Matrix Motor Company, Inc., has an exclusive agreement for use of a new fabric in the manufacturing of racecar bodies and components. This new fabric is made of fibers processed out of mineral rocks of volcanic origin. These fibers are developed using new technologies into new hybrid composite materials with carbon or ceramic fibers and/or various metals.

The new material can either be a woven material or fiber configuration. Its primary benefit to the racing sport is its lightweight and superior physical properties. In thermal conductivity it is three times as efficient as asbestos, and superior to glass and mineral fibers. In physical properties with its high tensile and impact strength it considerably exceeds mineral and glass fibers. Using specific comparative thickness and surface density numbers, Kevlar has a tensile strength of 600 x 600 and Carbon/Graphite 300 x 300 and the new fabric 730 x 730. Due to the elasticity of its micro-and macrostructure, it is vibration-resistant compared to similar products. In Dielectric properties, in particular volume resistance, it is 1 to 2 orders of magnitude higher than those of fiberglass.

The new material was incorporated into the body of the new Matrix Motor Company Le Mans Series racecar. This car has now completed two very successful test sessions at Willow Springs International Raceway, the latest of which concluded Friday, January 23, 2004. The significantly reduce weight resulted in very impressive and competitive lap times. The new fabric was used in various stress points of the cars body and performed to the design specifications.

2/2/04

NASCAR point system on Wind Tunnel tonight  The talk of the off-season has been the big change in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point system, with the end result being a 10-race "playoff" to determine the first NEXTEL Cup champion. Darrell Waltrip broadcasts the NASCAR races on FOX -- he doesn't like the new system. Bill Weber broadcasts the NASCAR races on NBC -- he thinks the new system is a good idea. Monday night on Wind Tunnel we'll have both Waltrip and Weber on the show at the same time to discuss and debate the racing "playoff." It's a safe bet race fans will want to get their two cents in as well via our phone and email.

2/2/04

Pollard to drive for Kenn Hardley   Kenn Hardley Racing is proud to announce that Brad Pollard will drive the team’s entry in the Menard’s Infiniti Pro Series beginning at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 29, 2004. “I’m glad to have Brad as our driver. He’s competitive, talented and brings a positive attitude to the team,” said team owner Kenn Hardley. The season opener at Homestead-Miami will be Brad Pollard’s third Menards Infiniti Pro Series event and he stated, “I am very excited about this opportunity to drive for Kenn Hardley Racing. It’s great to be a part of this series and I look forward to working with the fine team that Kenn has assembled. I appreciate their confidence in me and will try my best to represent the team and the series well.” Brad is Art Pollard's cousin and is trying to reach the dreams he shared with Art. Racing in and winning the Indianapolis 500! Pollard, from Redmond, Washington, competed in two Infiniti Pro Series events in 2003 and has also competed in SCCA Autocross, SKUSA shifter karts, SCCA Formula Mazda and Skip Barber Dodge Series events. He has also completed tests in a Toyota Formula Atlantic car and a Pennzoil World of Outlaw sprint car. In 2002, Pollard secured the SCCA Formula Mazda Southwest Division and SCCA Formula Mazda National Division championships by capturing 11 poles and 14 victories in 21 races. Pollard’s athletic resume also includes professional ski racing, college pole vaulting and college football. More information on Brad may be found at www.pollardracing.com. The XBOX entertainment division of Microsoft Corporation is providing primary sponsorship for Pollard. Additional sponsorships to be announced in the near future. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series follows the Indy Racing League to America's premier oval tracks. Powered by an Infiniti Q45, 450 horsepower engine with a six speed sequential gearbox, the Dallara built chassis can average speeds in excess of 190 MPH on a 1.5-mile super speedway and reach speeds over 200 MPH on the 2-mile super speedways like California Speedway.

2/2/04

Burti secures part-time Ferrari test role  Speaking in his official newsletter, Luciano Burti announced today: "I bring some good news - I have signed a testing contract on part time basis with the Ferrari Formula One team for the 2004 season.  Let me explain - this year the team will only have Luca Badoer as a full time test driver. Another point is that Ferrari has also been working very closely with Team Sauber-Petronas, and one of their agreements, is that Ferrari can use Sauber's official drivers in their testing work during the season if needed.   Despite these factors, because Ferrari has such a busy test program and because of my good work in 2002, they signed me to be part of their line up as well.   This is another great opportunity for me with Ferrari and I'll do my best to help the team once again.   Another good thing about the contract is that, when I am not involved with F1 testing, I am free to test and race in other categories, so I am already discussing some other possibilities for 2004."

2/2/04

Button shatters Barcelona record  According to this Autosport article, Jenson Button has demolished the unofficial lap record at Barcelona on the first full day of testing of the new BAR-Honda 006 this morning (Monday). The Briton lapped the Spanish track in 1m13.867s, nearly a second clear of the previous record, which Button had set in BAR's hybrid car late last month. It is understood that Button set his time on a one-lap, low fuel qualifying-style run, although it will still be a major boost to the team so early into the running of the new 006. After his initial run yesterday, Button praised the stability of his new car, with which the team has targeted regular podium finishes throughout 2004.  "It was a good lap, but there's a lot more to come," Button told autosport.com.  Button had set the previous lap record while testing BAR's 'hybrid car' back in January, although both driver and team admitted that his time of 1m14.607s was set during a low fuel run.

Barcelona testing day 1:
Pos Driver Car-Engine Time Laps
1 Jenson Button (BAR-Honda) 1m13.867s 27
2 Marc Gene (Williams-BMW) 1m15.302s 59
3 Takuma Sato (BAR-Honda) 1m15.594s 75
4 Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW) 1m16.016s 64
5 Luca Badoer (Ferrari) 1m16.302s 80
6 Giancarlo Fisichella (Sauber-Petronas) 1m16.584s 85
7 Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren-Mercedes) 1m16.955s 59
8 Alex Wurz (McLaren-Mercedes) 1m17.069s 35
9 Darren Turner (McLaren-Mercedes) 1m19.887s 17

2/2/04

Firman still hopes to land final F1 seat  “With one drive remaining I know Eddie Jordan has a number of options open to him, including re-signing me,” said Firman. “So the final slot will go to whichever driver makes the most sense in terms of ability, experience and helping the team attract more funding. I have to believe that continuity will also come in to play because Eddie recognizes how much we learned together last year. I hope the cards fall in my favor." “It would be great to team up with Nick,” added Firman. “I know what a strong performer he is, having raced against him and beaten him in the Macau Formula 3 race a few years ago.”

2/2/04

Ticket prices set for Shanghai  Organizers of Shanghai's upcoming Formula One race announced ticket prices over the weekend. Watching Michael Schumacher and his friends cruise around the local track will cost slightly less than anywhere else on the circuit this year, according to organizers of the event. Prices range from 160 yuan (US$19) to watch practice on Friday (September 24) or qualifying the next day to 3,700 yuan for top seats overlooking the finish line for three days. Seats for the race alone range from 330 yuan for spot on the grass along the outside corner of the track to 2,200 yuan for prime seats under an enclosure. "Our tickets are relatively cheaper than the other 17 events on the F1 tour around the world," said Mao Xiaohan, general manager of Shanghai International Circuit Co Ltd. Tickets for the Malaysian Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur in March, by comparison, run from US$50 to US$467.

Organizers have decided to sell tickets for only 150,000 of the local circuit's 200,000 seats due to concerns about safety and transportation to the circuit, which is located in the city's northwestern suburbs. Tickets go on sale early next month on the Internet or through various ticketing agencies in the city and around the world, according to organizers. Mao predicts 20 to 30 percent of the passes will be bought up by racing fans and tourists from outside the country. "We received inquiry calls from some Japanese corporate customers as early as September," said Zhou Qicheng, a sales manager with Shanghai Airlines Tours International Co Ltd.

The local organizers have already launched a bilingual hot line (9682-6999) for customers from home and abroad looking for information about Chinese mainland's first ever Formula One race. The scheme made public over the weekend didn't include VIP tickets, usually valued at above US$3,000, which are directly managed by the London-based Formula One Management, who holds the commercial rights for the F1 Championship series. With Formula One Management taking most of the advertising revenues and overseas television rights, ticket sales stand as one of the major income sources for the local organizers. The circuit is located in Jiading, a northwest suburban district more than 30 kilometers from downtown. "The transportation problem is still under discussion," said Mao. "We're considering installing several interim bus lines, and even an extension of the metro system in the future." Xinhuanet

2/2/04

NASCAR won't fine Spencer  According to this AP article, NASCAR will not penalize driver Jimmy Spencer for a remark about the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor or his hope that Toyota's venture into truck racing will be a failure. ``That's Jimmy Spencer,'' NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Sunday when asked about comments the outspoken driver made last week about Toyota's entry into Craftsman Truck competition. They ``bombed Pearl Harbor, don't forget,'' the San Antonio Express-News quoted the 46-year-old driver as saying during media day at Texas Motor Speedway. ``As long as it's good for the economy, I guess it's OK,'' said Spencer, but who added that he was rooting for Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge to humiliate Toyota. The Associated Press was unable to reach Spencer for comment Sunday night. Toyota officials did not return calls from the AP. Although Hunter said Spencer is not in any trouble with the sanctioning body, he emphasized that NASCAR does not share the driver's opinion. ``He sometimes has a view of the world that is not consistent with the rest of the world and he is certainly known for putting his opinions out there,'' Hunter said.

2/2/04

Biagi to team with Sullivan and Bosch for Sebring & LeMans  The Barron Connor Racing team has signed Italian Thomas Biagi to race in the Sebring 12 Hours, the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Le Mans Endurance Series, partnering John Bosch and Danny Sullivan in one of team’s two Ferrari’s 575 GTC.

“We were looking for the best and they don’t come much better than the current world champion”, John Bosch said. “We are very happy to have Thomas joining us. Both as a person and as a driver, he very much contributes to our team’s goals and objectives. He is fast and a pleasure to work with. And, having won the FIA championship in a Ferrari 550 last year, he of course brings a lot of highly relevant experience to the team.”

27-year old Biagi from Bologna (Italy) is equally pleased: “I am delighted to race with the Barron Connor team this year. I very much like John and his people, who make me feel very welcome. They are very serious about achieving their ambitions. The team is extremely professional, with highly skilled people and phenomenal facilities. I am happy to be partnering John, the reigning FIA Sportscar champion, and Danny, who is of course highly experienced. For me, to race the new Ferrari 575 GTC in the most prestigious sports car races, is exciting as well as an honor. Sebring is a legendary event, Le Mans is the most important race in the world and the new championship will be a true classic.”

The Barron Connor Ferrari’s 575 GTC are now being prepared for the 52nd Sebring 12 Hours. “We are impressed by Ferrari’s support and the caliber of MilanTech and N-Technology”, John Bosch explains. “Their level of professionalism is very motivating. We have long term ambitions and the potential that has now been created is fantastic. We are talking to many drivers about the second 575 GTC that we are running, and are also very pleased by the interest shown from renowned technical partners. We expect to be able to present more details before testing the cars prior to leaving for Sebring.”

2/2/04

Latest F1 News in Brief  

BAR Unleash New F1 Racer
Schu Sets Fiorano On Fire With F2004
Heidfeld Seals Sauber-Jordan Switch
Dennis Hints At Coulthard Retirement
Pizzonia: I've Got The Job
Button Wants First-Podium In Oz
Hands Off My Button: BAR's Richards
Schu To Call It Quits: McLaren Chief
BAR Threaten Shift From UK To Japan
Imola Race Set For Chop
Two-Seater F1 Races Scrapped
Button Talks To Frank Williams
Bernie Tells Teams To 'Stop Begging'
Dennis Hopes Montoya Finishes Third
Hyderabad In Lead For Indian GP
Alonso Will Get In F1 Fight: Schumacher
Silverstone Has No Future: Ecclestone 
Firman Wants to Beat Heidfeld
Trulli Itching To Step Out Of Shadow
Webber Will Wait For Future
Davidson Sows Seeds Of Race-Seat
I'm Still Flavio: Renault F1 Chief
BAR Flex Exaggerated Muscle?
'Quick Nick' Looks Ahead To New Races
F1 To Stage Twenty Races: Ecclestone
Bahrain Track Nearly Complete

2/1/04

Rain saves Grand-Am Series from another embarrassment  Luckily it rained so much that this year's Rolex 24 only saw the cars racing 18 of 24 hours. During the early morning hours, the race was run under caution for more than three hours and at 7:38 a.m., for the first time in 15 years, the Rolex 24 was red flagged for poor visibility and standing water. At 10:30 a.m., the race resumed setting up a two hour, 42-minute sprint to the finish. As it was, only one Prototype limped home as the winner ahead of two GT cars, or a GT car would have won yet again (they won in 2001 and 2003), and this after a rules change slowed them.  Daytona Prototype after prototype fell by the wayside for one reason or another and it was by the grace of God and the downpours from heaven that saved the day.  The #54 limped home first at the slowest speed ever for a Daytona 24, a not-so-blistering 78 MPH.  All that aside, it was a dramatic finish to the 24 hour grind.

2/1/04

2004 last year for Imola  UPDATE  Some people think Imola can remain on the calendar and this is a Bernie Ecclestone ploy to squeeze more money from the promoter.  "Ecclestone is always saying a lot of things," said Ferrari's six-time world champion Michael Schumacher. "Let's wait and see what happens." Imola's mayor Massimo Marchignoli said: "The contract runs out this year. It's not the first time it's happened. We'll see. What we need to do is re-open talks with Ecclestone."  1/31/04 - The San Marino Grand Prix is the latest European event to be told that it will no longer be a part of the F1 calendar. This year’s Imola race will be the final event. “This year is Imola’s last. From 2005 it will vanish from the calendar and Italy will have only one race,” Bernie Ecclestone told Gazzetta dello Sport.   The first San Marino Grand Prix was held at Imola in 1979. It was a non-championship event, as Formula One used to adhere to the rule that there was only one race per country, with only the odd exception. Although it hosted many great races, the Imola circuit will forever be remembered as the venue where the great Ayrton Senna died in 1994, so it seems somewhat fitting that the track’s final race should be on the tenth anniversary of his death.  Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi stated in an interview this past week that they are not closing the door on Europe, but there will be no Champ Car races there in 2004.  If OWRS wants to look at Europe again for 2005, we believe an ideal strategy would be a 3-race swing at Imola, EuroSpeedway and Brands Hatch (long course).  Hopefully Jonathan Palmer can afford to make the necessary upgrades to Brands Hatch and it would be a shame to see both Imola and EuroSpeedway not have a top-level open wheel race.  Mark C.

2/1/04

IRL cover-up?   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The IRL 3.0 liter engine shortage looks like a smoke screen to cover up that the IRL cannot field (or subsidize) 33 cars for the Indy 500. The IRL engine vendors say their cap is 24 cars per race, the first four races of the season, but can supply more cars after the INDY 500. I don't recall the IRL having over 24 cars last season at any event other than Indy.  David Smith, Louisville, KY  Dear David, Rest assured that 33 cars will start the Indy 500.  The big teams will qualify their backup cars the last day if necessary.  Perhaps Andretti-Green Racing will qualify the backup car of all four of their drivers giving them eight cars in the race - almost 25% of the grid.  Who would service the cars is another story, but rest assured Michael Andretti will do whatever he can to help Tony George out of a pinch.  Mark C.

2/1/04

Fiorano Day 3: Schumacher breaks record again   Sunday was the third and final day of testing this week for Ferrari at the Fiorano circuit. Michael Schumacher brought the F2004’s first test session to a close, covering a total of 115 laps (18 of which on the short 1.4km version of the circuit - the rest on the regular 2.9km version) the quickest in a time of 55.999s. It was a clear and cool day at Fiorano with air temperature reaching ten degrees Centigrade, and the track surface 14 degrees.  “I am satisfied with this first session,” Schumacher said at the end of the day. “I immediately got a positive feel from the car, but the most important thing is that we managed to cover about 700 kilometres without the slightest problem.”  The Scuderia’s test program resumes tomorrow, when Luca Badoer will be at the wheel of an F2003-GA in Barcelona.

2/1/04

Richards threatens to move team abroad   This BBC article says, BAR team boss David Richards has threatened to move his team abroad because of anti-tobacco legislation.
British teams will be penalized by an anomaly in a European Union directive to be introduced in 2005, he said.

Britain's decision to adopt the law would stop BAR from advertising tobacco, while foreign-based rivals could still carry the sponsorship. Richards described it as a "ludicrous situation", and wants the Government to act to end the anomaly.

"Ferrari are the best-financed team in F1, they are based in Italy and have an American cigarette sponsor [Marlboro] and so they will be able to advertise in places like China," explained Richards.  "But because we are a British team we will be covered by the British legislation so we would not be able to run tobacco advertising in China.  The UK government should not countenance it and it's down to them to do something about it. "

Owner British American Tobacco has pumped at least £300m into BAR's coffers since the team was set-up in 1998.  Richards said BAT was planning to sell the team by the end of 2006 because of a voluntary agreement to end tobacco advertising in F1. But the decision by the British Government to introduce the directive means BAT would be forced to quit 18 months early. "It could have serious consequences because it will affect our planned income stream for 2005," he said. "We would have to consider cutbacks in the team or look at other alternatives like moving the team abroad. You couldn't move the actual structure but you could move parts of the team abroad. I have spoken to the Department of Trade and Industry and they say this was not the intention when the legislation was drafted. It is the way it has been written which is so restrictive."

2/1/04

Bernie says Germany will keep two races   Bernie Ecclestone told the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport that "Germany will continue to have two races" and stated that last week he signed a new deal with the Nurburgring. The German track has a F1 race deal through 2008.  Ecclestone said that the Germans do a good job running and promoting their races. But that success has not come without a considerable cost: in the last eight years the Nurburgring has invested more than $50 million and Hockenheim has invested $62 million.

2/1/04

IRL propaganda machine running wide open   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Since OWRS trounced the IRL in court on Wednesday and took control of the Champ Car series, I have seen numerous articles in a number of publications predicting the demise of OWRS in a year or so.  It is clear that the IRL propaganda machine in running full song in trying to discredit OWRS and the Champ Car Series.  They want OWRS to prostrate themselves to King Anton.  The IRL has won the war they say.  Yeah, they're #1 for death and destruction that is for certain.  We have seen negative press by the media ever since the split.  It's appalling what they and their evil minions do.  This plus Tony George's quotes on Thursday that he is going to try and steal CART's existing races just goes to show you that the IRL's business plan is to steal from and kill the Champ Car Series because everything else about their series is a joke.  They have been trying to kill it for years yet it continues because it is a far better product than the IRL.  I think the IRL is in serious trouble.  Every time a car explodes against a wall the cash register rings and usually a driver is taken away on a stretcher.  How much longer are Toyota, Honda and Chevy going to prop up this farce called the IRL?  Mordichai Rosen, LA, Calif.

2/1/04

Stars karting series announces new engine rules   Snap-on Stars of Karting announced today a final decision regarding acceptability for competition of the newly-homologated Intercontinental A and Intercontinental C engines for the 2004 season.

“After two weeks of gathering information and opinions from the industry-at-large,” Snap-on Stars of Karting National Technical Director, Scott G Evans announced, “we have decided that it is in the best interest of the sport to allow all new homologated parts and engines from the beginning of the 2004 season. Working together with technical director Martin Casey of SuperKarts!USA, and World Karting Association’s Bob White, we have come to this decision in unison and will move forward from here with the 2004 season.”

An announcement on January 16 had raised some question about new engine supply and availability in 2004. This decision clears the way for importers and suppliers to begin supplying the newest in technological advances to the karting industry.

Evans continues, “It was decided that with the nature of the sport and its tremendous growth and potential it would be imprudent to clog the development pipeline with undue regulation. There are certain pains that are realized as a price of development and we empathize with those. In end analysis however, we are confident that strong manufacturing sources in concert with agile sanctioning bodies will foster the new technology into the North American arena in a sensible and timely manner.”

WKA’s Randy Kugler expounded on the issue, “We are confident that the decision made will prove the greatest benefit to the sport. Our racers can expect a press release early next week explaining the WKA’s official position on this issue as it regards the Manufacturer’s Cup and Road Racing. Possibly more significant than the decision itself is the spirit of cooperation demonstrated between these major American karting organizations to act together in resolution of this issue. It is encouraging to me and I hope it can open the door to more cooperative efforts in the future.”

In an effort to ease the transition, Stars of Karting’s usually permitted one engine change per season per competitor will be increased to two if the competitor wishes to change from an older homologated engine to a new model, but only if the make remains the same.

2/1/04

BAR launches new car today  The Formula 1 circus comes back to the Circuit de Catalunya with five test days and seven teams. The four best teams, Ferrari, Williams, McLaren and Renault, will be sharing the track.  British American Racing (BAR) will launch their new single-seater, the BAR006, at the Circuit de Catalunya today. The team drivers, Jenson Button and Takuma Sato, together with the team management will be there. This is the second F1 presentation held at the Circuit de Catalunya this year, as Jaguar also launched their new R5 at the Spanish circuit.  On Monday starts the last pre-season test session at the Circuit de Catalunya, before the start of the Formula 1 Championship, the 3rd of March in Melbourne (Australia).  Williams will test the whole week, from Monday 2 to Friday 6, while Ferrari and McLaren will stay until Thursday. Renault will test during three days, from Tuesday 3 to Thursday 5. BAR will stay until Wednesday and Toyota, from Tuesday to Friday.

2/1/04

Bernie again attacks Silverstone & Europe  Bernie Ecclestone has launched another attack on Silverstone's right to host the British Grand Prix.  In an interview with Gazetta dello Sport, the F1 supremo was quoted as saying: “Silverstone is like an old house that claims to only need a few repairs. Actually it needs major reconstruction but the current owners have no intention of financing it. I don't see a future for it.  In the next ten years Europe will descend to the economic level of the third world. It has no hope of competing with South Korea, India and China."  Ecclestone said that Turkey would be on the calendar for 2005, followed by India and then South Korea's first Grand Prix in 2009. He added that there could easily be more races per season, although teams feel that the 18 to be run this year is an absolute maximum.   "We could easily get to 20 races. All we'd need to do is reduce private practice (testing) days from 40 to 30 and that would create room for two more races."

2/1/04

Rolex 24: Hour 17 CITGO Chevy still leads in rain  Steady rain and heavy puddling on Daytona International Speedway's 3.56-mile road course resulted in the entire 15th to 17th hours being run under caution. While the Howard-Boss Motorsports No. 2 CITGO Chevrolet (pictured right, Grand-AM photo) Crawford maintained its lead with Tony Stewart at the wheel, the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 01 CompUSA Lexus Riley continued to struggle with fogging and windshield problems. The Orbit Racing No. 44 Porsche GT3 RS continued its hold on the GT class, running fifth overall, while the Doncaster Racing No. 91 Porsche GT3 Cup is still tops in the SGS class.  LEADERS AT END OF HOUR 17 - Overall - No. 2 Chevrolet, No. 4 Chevrolet, No. 54 Pontiac, No. 10 Pontiac, No. 44 Porsche GT; DP - No. 2 Chevrolet, No. 4 Chevrolet, No. 54 Chevrolet; GT - No. 44 Porsche, No. 74 Porsche, No. 66 Porsche; SGS - No. 91 Porsche, No. 38 Porsche, No. 71 Porsche  Full Standings

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