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DATE

News (chronologically)

2/12/04

Mountain Dew to expand sponsorship  Kasey Kahne, NASCAR Nextel Cup Series rookie, is the newest member of the Mountain Dew team. Kahne joins his Evernham Motorsports teammate, Jeremy Mayfield, who has been sponsored by Mountain Dew since the 2002 season. Pepsi-Cola North America, makers of Mountain Dew, today announced an agreement with Evernham Motorsports to extend their sponsorship to include rookie driver Kasey Kahne and the over-the-wall crew of Kahne's No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge who compete in the Nextel Cup Series. The Evernham Motorsports pit crews for Kahne and Jeremy Mayfield will be known as the "Dew Crews." Kahne's Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge will race in a special Mountain Dew color scheme for one race in 2004. In addition, Kahne and Mayfield will appear on in-store display materials and make appearances during the season for Mountain Dew.

2/12/04

Air Force Chief of Staff at 500  General John P. Jumper, Air Force Chief of Staff, will be attending the Daytona 500 race events on Saturday and Sunday, 14 - 15 Feb. As Chief, he serves as the senior uniformed Air Force officer responsible for the organization, training and equipage of 710,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces serving in the United States and overseas. General Jumper will be participating in Air Force Recruiting events on Saturday, including an enlistment ceremony to over 30 young men and women joining the Air Force. On Sunday, he will be addressing the Daytona 500 race crowd at 1220 and will join the crowd as the B-2 Stealth Bomber flies overhead following the National Anthem. General Jumper will spend much of the race in the pit area cheering on the #21 Motorcraft/Air Force Taurus and driver Ricky Rudd.

2/12/04

Long Beach construction to begin  Construction of the 1.97-mile temporary race circuit through the downtown streets of Long Beach for the 30th Anniversary Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach begins Monday, Feb. 16.  The first phase of racetrack construction will begin Monday at Shoreline Drive and Linden Avenue in Long Beach at approximately 7:30 a.m. as the first concrete blocks are dropped into place. Over the next 60 days, a city within a city will be built with over 1,400 concrete blocks forming the temporary racetrack, debris fencing, grandstand seating, power, telephone lines and countless amenities for fans.  The 30th Anniversary Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will run April 16-18.

2/12/04

Stars adds 6th class  The Snap-on Stars Of Karting proudly announce Easykart 125 as the sixth class to run in the National series for 2004. As part of the Grand prize for the Snap-On Stars of Karting, Easykart USA is offering to each of the East and West Champions a trip to Valencia, for a 3-day Formula BMW test. In addition to the test, a $15,000.00 cash prize will be awarded to the Snap-On Stars of Karting Easykart 125 National Champion. "This is an ideal opportunity to show all the benefits of Easykart as being the only 100% spec class in North America where the chassis, motor, and tires are the same for all the competitors, and where the only difference is the drivers, and not the size of their wallets. It is an honor for Easykart America to be a part of the Snap-On Stars of Karting, since it is considered the premier karting series in the USA" said Pablo Montoya, C.E.O. Easykart America. "With the popularity of the TaG (Touch and Go) format of racing, it was important for us to offer a competitive class that had more control over the rules and regulations", said Paul Zalud of Stars. "With the credibility that Formula BMW provides, we are looking forward to adding this truly spec class to our series, and giving the competitor a chance to experience Formula BMW for themselves." "As we continue to build our National and International Programs, we are thrilled to be a part of the Snap-On Stars of Karting Series. Our ultimate goal is to give each and every driver an opportunity to compete at a National and International level. Easykart America will travel to all the East and West coast Stars National Events with karts, parts, gear, tires and engines to support the Easykart 125 class and its drivers," said Salomon Bendayan, C.O.O. Easykart America. Stars Technical Director, Scott Evans adds, "The Easykart rules structure takes spec racing to the highest degree, with control not only over the engine and tires, but also very limited adjustments to the required chassis. It is obviously focused on driver skill and should be an exciting class for inclusion in the 2004 Stars program.

2/12/04

Dixon dominates on Day 2  Scott Dixon dominated the final day of the IRL IndyCar® Series Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway leading both sessions at the 1-mile oval.  Dixon, the 2003 IndyCar Series champion, lapped the track in 20.1438 seconds, 178.715 mph in the No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone in the morning session and backed that up with a lap of 20.2732, 177.574 in the afternoon session.  More....

2/12/04

Champ Car to preview season in Long Beach  Followers of the Champ Car World Series will get their long-awaited first look at the lineup of cars, teams and drivers for the 2004 season as the series unveils its new look on March 8-9 in Long Beach, California. The lineup of 750hp turbocharged Champ Cars will be on hand for two days in Long Beach, site of the April 16-18 season opener, where the new look of Champ Car will be unveiled for the first time. The cars will be revealed to the media at press conferences throughout the two days, along with a series of 2004 driver and team lineups along with sponsor announcements. “We are delighted that Champ Car has selected Long Beach as the site for this year's preview event,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “This is a great opportunity to showcase the teams and drivers as well as the excitement that we all anticipate will be a part of the 2004 Champ Car World Series which will begin with the 30th anniversary Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this April.” The festivities will open Monday morning and will feature press conferences throughout the two days with Champ Car officials along with other series partners. The preview will end Tuesday evening with a fan event at the Long Beach Convention Center. Fans will have the opportunity to see the new cars and meet all the drivers of the Champ Car World Series as they prepare for the 30th running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. “We know that our fans have been anxiously awaiting the chance to see what we have planned for 2004,” said 2003 Australia race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. “We are equally anxious to give the fans a chance to see what we have in store as we gear up for what will be a very exciting racing season.” A more detailed schedule concerning timing of specific announcements will be released at a later date.

2/12/04

Duracell official battery of NASCAR  Duracell yesterday announced a multi-year deal with NASCAR to become the Official Status Sponsor and the Official Alkaline Battery of NASCAR. Duracell will leverage with consumer promos, in-store POP, FSIs and TV, print and radio advertising highlighting Duracell's "Trusted Everywhere" theme. Duracell also becomes an associate sponsor of Kevin Harvick's No. 29 Chevy, with Duracell logos adorning Harvick's race suit and the car's front lower quarter panel. Also, Harvick will appear in a Duracell spot that is scheduled to break Sunday during NBC's coverage of the Daytona 500.  Duracell.

2/12/04

Sebastien Bourdais to co-host radio show  Last season’s Champ Car Rookie of the Year Sebastien Bourdais of Newman/Haas Racing made his mark on the Champ Car World Series competition in his series debut, earning five poles and three wins in the open-wheel championship that boasts the truest test of driver and machine. This Friday night from 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET, the Frenchman will make his debut as a co-host on the popular motorsports radio show Focus on Racing Radio with their coverage from the Mobil 1 Speedweeks party in Orlando, Florida.

Bourdais will join the program with regular hosts Billy Edwards and Bob Varsha when they broadcast to 70 nationwide affiliates on the CBS/Westwood One Radio Network from the Orlando Hilton in front of a live audience. Topics for the hour-long show will include Bourdais and his preparation for the start of the 2004 Champ Car World Series season with the 30th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 18.

The 24-year-old Champ Car standout returns to the Sunshine State once again after a recent visit to Daytona International Speedway to watch NHR co-owner and accomplished driver Paul Newman compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Bourdais, a qualified sports car driver in his own right before making the move to Champ Cars, has competed in 24-hour races at Le Mans and Spa, in addition to multiple wins in the 2002 FIA Sportscar championship.

Focus on Racing Radio provides coverage of all major racing venues, including the Champ Car World Series, with trackside reports from all races along with news and human interest features concerning drivers and teams. Now in its 22nd year of production, Focus on Racing Radio is celebrating its third season on the CBS/Westwood One Radio Network.

2/12/04

Cosworth Champ Car engines for sale  A new listing on our Classified page - Cosworth Racing Inc. has an assortment of used '96 to '99 XD engines @ $35k each. A few electronic accessories are also available to fully compliment running these engines at $10k each. See Classifieds page for more detail.

2/12/04

Montagny tops Thursday times in Jerez  Renault's Franck Montagny was fastest at Jerez today. McLaren's pilots were yet again slow, as were the Williams drivers (sandbagging we suppose).
Pos Driver Car-Engine Time Laps
1 Franck Montagny (Renault) 1m17.051s 90
2 Takuma Sato (BAR-Honda) 1m17.175s 105
3 Jarno Trulli (Renault) 1m17.252s 91
4 Felipe Massa (Sauber-Petronas) 1m17.388s 90
5 Giancarlo Fisichella (Sauber-Petronas) 1m17.391s 84
6 Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren-Mercedes) 1m17.529s 109
7 Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW) 1m17.554s 60
8 Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)* 1m17.667s 99
9 Mark Webber (Jaguar) 1m17.717s 116
10 Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW) 1m17.785s 73
11 Anthony Davidson (BAR-Honda) 1m18.179s 37
12 Christian Klien (Jaguar) 1m18.250s 92
13 Alex Wurz (McLaren) 1m18.609s 39
14 Nick Heidfeld (Jordan-Ford) 1m19.449s 93
*Denotes 2003 car

2/12/04
IROC

Newman on oval track cartel pole  UPDATE  International Race Of Champions president Jay Signore said yesterday he has been flooded with e-mails in support of Toronto's Paul Tracy being included in the series' race tomorrow at Daytona. But Signore said the decision has been made and Tracy won't be part of this year's $1-million US event.  "Paul Tracy will be in IROC at some point," Signore said. "It is no reflection on Paul as a person or as a driver, but we couldn't get an iron clad commitment from the Open Wheel Racing Series that he would be available for all of our races and we needed that to go ahead with our race plans." [Editor's Note:  What a crock.  Jay did not even bother to call Tracy to inquire about his availability.]  2/12/04 - Over the past year, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitors have become accustomed to seeing the back bumper of young gun Ryan Newman. But on Friday, drivers from other top racing series' will also know how it feels to follow Newman to the green flag as he drew the top starting spot for the season-opening event for the Crown Royal IROC Series at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, Feb. 13, an All-Star race for oval track cartel drivers - note: no road course drivers invited..

Newman drew the top starting spot Wednesday afternoon over 11 other drivers representing the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, IRL IndyCar Series, USAC, and the World of Outlaws. Fellow young gun Jimmie Johnson will start on the outside of the front row followed by World of Outlaws veterans Danny Lasoski and Steve Kinser, with defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth rounding out the top five.

"We don't qualify very well (at Daytona) so it's cool to be able to start up front," said Newman. "In an IROC race you be about sixth after the first lap. We'll see how it works out. I look forward to the opportunity in the IROC Crown Royal Series and hopefully we can do some good things in the races and get the million dollar victory."

Below is the Starting Lineup for Friday's Crown Royal IROC Series including driver name, car number, and series they represent.
1. Ryan Newman, No. 12, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (An Oval Cartel Track Series)
2. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (An Oval Cartel Track Series)
3. Danny Lasoski, No. 20, World of Outlaws (An Oval Cartel Track Series)
4. Steve Kinser, No. 11, World of Outlaws (An Oval Cartel Track Series)
5. Matt Kenseth, No. 17, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (An Oval Cartel Track Series)
6. Scott Sharp, No. 8, IRL IndyCar Series (An Oval Cartel Track Series)
7. Travis Kvapil, No. 24, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (An Oval Cartel Track Series)
8. Kurt Busch, No. 97, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (An Oval Cartel Track Series)
9. Kevin Harvick, No. 29, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (An Oval Cartel Track Series)
10. Scott Dixon, No. 1, IRL IndyCar Series (An Oval Cartel Track Series)
11. J.J. Yeley, No. 80, USAC (An Oval Cartel Track Series)
12. Helio Castroneves, No. 03, IRL IndyCar Series (An Oval Cartel Track Series)

2/12/04

McNish seeks return to Sebring glory   Allan McNish put together one of the most dominant seasons of any driver in professional sports car racing history when he won the American Le Mans Series driving championship with the factory Audi team in 2000.   But there was one huge piece of unfinished business when the popular Scotsman departed the Audi team at the end of the season to pursue a Formula One career: he hadn't won at Sebring.  More....

2/12/04

Michael Waltrip on health of series  UPDATE After getting only 38 entry forms for next week's race at Rockingham, N.C., NASCAR and speedway officials worked the telephones this week trying to get part-time teams to show up. A lack of sponsorship has reduced the number of full-time teams to 36, meaning a lot of fields in the future might include teams that show up just to collect last-place money. Augusta Chronicle.  Related article2/12/04 - "Most of the teams are well-funded and have great sponsors. The sport is healthier than ever, I think, as a whole. More people are showing up and the TV ratings are high. The majority of our cars are well funded. Any time that the economy turns down a little bit, there are people who make decisions that affect motorsports in general. So, we're talking about two or three teams that have proven they can win races and are very deserving of sponsors that haven't been able to come up with them yet. I don't think that means the sport isn't healthy. I think it's very healthy.  The reason you see 45 cars at Daytona is because they're only going to start 43 cars. The reason why there aren't 55 cars here is because of the competition level of our sport. People with cars all over this country used to wash them off and drag them down here to try and make the Daytona 500. Those days are over. There are 43 fast race cars that are going to be in the race. Most people figure if they're not going to be able to make the race, why even bother? Realistically, it would be very difficult for somebody who hasn't been a regular on our circuit to make the race.  I would rather have 40 cars at Rockingham - and the competition level be what it is today - than have 50 cars at Rockingham with 20 of them having a shot to win and 30 of them don't."

2/12/04

Not in NASCAR  A reader writes, I think NASCAR is preaching more than racing only on Ovals….“From Shepherd's perspective, NASCAR's alliance with the Christian faith gives the sport a more wholesome, family oriented image.  “I guarantee you're never going to see anything like what happened with Janet Jackson," Shepherd said, referring to the singer whose breast was exposed during the Super Bowl halftime show. "Those things are not going to happen in our sport. Not while Bill France is around."  While Shepherd said he's received plenty of praise for his Victory In Jesus racing team, that hasn't translated into financial backing. His hopes of qualifying for the Daytona 500 were scuttled by a shoestring budget.  "Why does corporate America spend so much money ... supporting things that don't have moral values?" Shepherd asked. "And here we are, trying to serve the Lord. There's nothing bad in the Bible. Even if you don't believe in God, if everyone would just live by the Bible and the Ten Commandments, see how much better the world would be."  I guess it is the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality….Aren’t Shane Hmiel and Scott Wimmer racing this weekend alongside Jimmy Spencer?  Clu Connors, California

2/12/04

Peter Gibbons moves to Andretti Green Racing  UPDATE   The Newman/Haas team response - Newman/Haas Racing announced today the departure of Senior Engineer Peter Gibbons who will leave the four-time Champ Car World Series champions. Gibbons joined the team as race engineer late in 1991 from Penske Racing and was promoted to senior engineer in 2001. "I would like to thank Peter for his contribution to the team over the years," said Carl Haas, co-owner of Newman/Haas Racing. "Newman/Haas Racing has assembled a strong engineering department lead by Senior Engineers Guillaume "Rocky" Rocquelin and Craig Hampson, who, along with VP Operations Brian Lisles, and Team Manager John Tzouanakis will assume Gibbons' responsibilities." [Editor's Note:  In other words, he's not needed]  2/12/04 - Peter Gibbons of the Newman/Haas team has left to go and work for Andretti Green Racing in the IRL.  Gibbons tried hard to get Newman/Haas to field an entry in the IRL, but was repeatedly rebuffed by team owner Paul Newman who used words like, "over my dead body."  Michael Andretti tried to talk Gibbons over to the IRL for quite some time.  Now he has got his man to help engineer his 4-car assault on the 2004 season.

2/12/04
Speed World Challenge

Cosworth to power Volvos  Cosworth Racing, the most successful engine manufacturer in the history of Formula One, today announced that it is to provide engine power to the At Speed Motorsports Volvo S60R race cars competing in the 2004 SPEED World Challenge GT Series in North America.

The At Speed Motorsports organization will be fielding a four-car team in the championship, spearheaded by veteran racer, Derek Bell. Partnering Bell will be At Speed Motorsports’ owner, Bob Miller, in a dual role of Team Director and driver, alongside Journeyman racer Paul Gerrard and a fourth driver to be named later.

Commenting on the announcement, At Speed Motorsports owner, Bob Miller said; "We entered the racing program with one goal: to win races. By using all of the might and resources of one of the best-known names in racing engines, we are staying true to that goal. Cosworth was my first and only choice when the decision for which company to utilize came up. I'm overjoyed to be working with such a professional group".

"With Cosworth on board, we'll be able to run with, and eventually beat, competitors with much larger displacement engines in the World Challenge series."

Design and initial development work will be undertaken at Cosworth Racing’s Northampton, UK, headquarters, while the developmental dyno testing, build, supply and maintenance work will take place at Cosworth Racing Inc’s facility in Torrance, California.

Cosworth Racing Inc’s Vice President, Ian Bisco, said; "Cosworth has a long and successful history in the USA, in many forms of racing. I welcome this opportunity for us to expand our expertise and resources in supporting the At Speed Motorsports Volvo S60Rs. Our goal here at Cosworth Racing Inc is to succeed and to win races and this is no exception. We look forward to working with Derek Bell, Bob Miller and the At Speed Motorsports Team to jointly achieve these goals." Press Release, Cosworth Racing

2/12/04

Nigel Roebuck bored with rev-limited IRL cars that drone in circles  Respected motorsports journalist Nigel Roebuck responds to a reader in his latest Autosport.com Q&A article. He has the IRL sized up pretty well, even from the UK.   Dear Nigel, Now that the sale of Champ Car is final, and OWRS has been declared the winner, what are your feelings about this mess? I find it disingenuous, to say the least, that Tony George claims he wanted to reunite open-wheel racing in the US, but wants nothing to do with a merger of the two groups. And there is the duplicity of the former CART owners/teams now running in the IRL who denigrate their former series – even though it was through their ego and mismanagement that the whole series crumbled! I'd love to see what you think about this mess.  Chris Sawyer, Farmington Hills, USA  Dear Chris,  What are my feelings about this mess? Just that – it's a mess! And I can't disagree with a single point you have made.  The whole thing makes me terribly sad, because I have adored 'Indycar racing' all my life, and for years and years always managed to work at least one CART race into my schedule. When CART was at its zenith – 10 or 12 years ago – I thought it the best racing series on earth. At Milwaukee each year, I'd see more wheel-to-wheel action than in the rest of the season put together. Sadly, though, the last race I saw there – in 2002 – pretty well put me to sleep. The quality of the field was much reduced, and the 'aero regs' of the time had made overtaking virtually impossible.  I sometimes watch IRL races on TV, but frankly find them boring – great bunches of rev-limited cars droning round together, NASCAR-style, and the occasional terrifying accident. I hope the OWRS guys find a way to make their series a success, but they've got a mountain to climb.  Nigel Roebuck

2/12/04

Cook on truck pole but Toyotas surprise  Terry Cook didn't take long to get his new team up to speed as he put his No. 10 PowerStroke Diesel Ford on the pole for Friday night's Florida Dodge Dealers 250.  Cook, who moved to PPC racing in the off-season, turned a lap of 183.643 mph as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series veteran continued his strong performances at Daytona International Speedway. Cook has finished no further than ninth in four starts at the "World Center of Racing."  "We had our back against the fence because we had no provisionals," said Cook. "We had no points and to come here and sit on the pole,  this is big. This is Daytona."

Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Chase Montgomery qualified on the outside of the front row in his No. 8 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge. Montgomery also spoiled the debut of the Toyota Tundra into the Craftsman Truck Series, as he bumped defending series champion and third-place qualifier Travis Kvapil off the front row with a lap of 183.113 mph late in the qualifying session. Dennis Setzer qualified fourth in his No. 46 Chevy Silverado, while Matt Crafton rounded out the top five in his No. 6 Goodwrench Silverado.

With the solid qualifying debut for new manufacturer Toyota, all four manufacturers landed spots among the top four qualifiers.   I knew we would do well, but not this well," said an excited Travis Kvapil. "Toyota didn't have a lot of time to fine-tune the engine, but they should be very proud of the improvements they made from testing in January."  The Florida Dodge Dealers 250 will roll off at 8:00 p.m. on Friday night and will make history as the first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race run under the lights at the World Center of Racing.  Toyota began its new NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series program with seven Tundra race trucks qualifying in the top 20 on Wednesday night as the manufacturer prepares for its inaugural race at Daytona
.

2/12/04
IROC

Newman on oval track cartel pole  Over the past year, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitors have become accustomed to seeing the back bumper of young gun Ryan Newman. But on Friday, drivers from other top racing series' will also know how it feels to follow Newman to the green flag as he drew the top starting spot for the season-opening event for the Crown Royal IROC Series at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, Feb. 13, an All-Star race for oval track cartel drivers - note: no road course drivers invited.

Newman drew the top starting spot Wednesday afternoon over 11 other drivers representing the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, IRL IndyCar Series, USAC, and the World of Outlaws. Fellow young gun Jimmie Johnson will start on the outside of the front row followed by World of Outlaws veterans Danny Lasoski and Steve Kinser, with defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth rounding out the top five.

"We don't qualify very well (at Daytona) so it's cool to be able to start up front," said Newman. "In an IROC race you be about sixth after the first lap. We'll see how it works out. I look forward to the opportunity in the IROC Crown Royal Series and hopefully we can do some good things in the races and get the million dollar victory."

Below is the Starting Lineup for Friday's Crown Royal IROC Series including driver name, car number, and series they represent.
1. Ryan Newman, No. 12, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (An Oval Track Series)
2. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (An Oval Track Series)
3. Danny Lasoski, No. 20, World of Outlaws (An Oval Track Series)
4. Steve Kinser, No. 11, World of Outlaws (An Oval Track Series)
5. Matt Kenseth, No. 17, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (An Oval Track Series)
6. Scott Sharp, No. 8, IRL IndyCar Series (An Oval Track Series)
7. Travis Kvapil, No. 24, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (An Oval Track Series)
8. Kurt Busch, No. 97, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (An Oval Track Series)
9. Kevin Harvick, No. 29, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (An Oval Track Series)
10. Scott Dixon, No. 1, IRL IndyCar Series (An Oval Track Series)
11. J.J. Yeley, No. 80, USAC (An Oval Track Series)
12. Helio Castroneves, No. 03, IRL IndyCar Series (An Oval Track Series)

2/12/04

Childress in AOL commercial  America Online [AOL] announced a series of new initiatives launching today for NASCAR's Daytona 500 that gives fans unparalleled access to the kick off of the NASCAR season. This comprehensive race package, Daytona 500@AOL, features video highlights of the best Daytona 500 moments, daily photos with ZoomView technology and exclusive clips from the Warner Bros. Pictures upcoming film NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience -- all available for viewing up to five times faster than on a standard dial-up connection and up to two times faster than on a standard high-speed connection with the new AOL TopSpeed technology. AOL will also launch a new ad on behalf of the AOL TopSpeed technology featuring the Teutuls from Discovery Channel's "American Chopper." Daytona 500@AOL continues AOL Sports' new programming offerings that debuted with SuperBowl@AOL and includes innovative and engaging content, best experienced via AOL for Broadband, that brings fans closer to major events. The content package builds upon the company's partnership with NASCAR and sponsorship of the Richard Childress Racing #30 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race car [driver Johnny Sauter]. During the Daytona 500, AOL will debut the latest commercial in a series of ads showcasing the popular Teutul family and the AOL TopSpeed technology that kicked off during the Super Bowl. The new ad will feature a cameo by NASCAR team owner Richard Childress. In addition, AOL is sponsoring the "Daytona to Daytona" Sweepstakes for AOL members which features as the grand prize a custom built TopSpeed(TM) chopper built by "Monster Garage" star Jesse James (valued at $150,000) as well as $50,000 cash. The sweepstakes begins February 12 and runs through June 25. The winner will be announced at the Pepsi 400 in Daytona on July 3. For Official Rules, see AOL Keyword: Daytona Sweeps. Business Wire

2/12/04

Collins aims to be 5th Brit in IRL   UPDATE We have added some photos of Collins as taken by our Guenter Reinhold at an ASCAR event in 2003  2/11/04 - According to Autosport Magazine, Ben Collins, 28, was put in touch with the team as part of a package called ‘PDM Go Britain’. Backing for the project will come from the British Tourist Board, which wants to use the venture to encourage business and tourism across the Atlantic. PDM hopes to give the British  ASCAR champion his rookie test ahead of the second race of the IRL  season at Motegi. If that is successful Collins could race in Japan. “My focus is on the test and, if there’s races after, that would be mega,” he said. “Driving an IRL car is something I’ve always wanted to do.”    Team boss Paul Diatlovich is looking forward to giving Collins his big chance. “It could be good,” he said. “The first thing we need to do is give him a test, and if that goes well we can think of running him. Time is of the essence, but hopefully we’ll see him test before Motegi.”

2/12/04

IRL looking at another down year  The IRL held steady in gate attendance for 2003, but saw its TV ratings plummet putting the future of the series in serious jeopardy.  2004 starts on another down note.  This AP article says, ``It's a very tight sponsorship market with lots of competition,'' said Fred Nation, the right-hand man to IRL president Tony George. ``We've got several teams close to final deals. Some will get there. Some won't.''  Last year, every IRL race had at least 21 cars. At Homestead, where Nation is hopeful that at least one more car will complete a sponsorship deal, there probably won't be more than 19.

He blames a still-recovering economy and the tight sponsorship market, which has been felt all the way to the Daytona 500 in the more-popular NASCAR Nextel Cup series. Only 45 cars attempted to qualify for Sunday's race - eight fewer than a year ago.  ``Everybody's wanting more this year as far as cars,'' Nation said. ``I know Daytona is a little lower than usual.''

While the economy has shown definite signs of being on the upswing, including corporate earnings and Wall Street performance, the results haven't fully trickled down to the IRL. ``That's what we're hearing from our car owners,'' Nation said. ``It has not improved to the extent that they hoped it would.''  That's not all.  ``There's increased competition for motorsports as well as all sports,'' Nation said. ``More people are vying for the same or a very slowly growing pot of dollars. It's tight.''

As an older open-wheel series, CART, spiraled into bankruptcy, IRL lured away top organizations such as Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing and more prominent drivers, including Helio Castroneves and defending champion Scott Dixon.  ``Yes, we're down a few cars,'' Nation said. ``But the teams we have are pretty solid. Some are more solid than others, but our core is well-sponsored, well-run, competitive teams.''

Fisher and several other drivers have lined up one-race deals for the Indy 500, which traditionally has a 33-car field. The IRL is hopeful that some of those cars will find the money to make it to other tracks.

Nation isn't worried about having enough cars to fill out the field at Indianapolis.  ``There's no great concern over it,'' he said. ``It's a little too early to tell right now, but we have a number of existing teams that told us they will add entries for Indy. There are several one-off deals we are aware of. So we expect to have a full field for Indy.''

As Walker pointed out, there should be at least 36 open-wheel racers this year. The problem is: They're divided between two rival series.  Champ Cars, which picked up the remains of CART, plans a 15-race season with at least 18 cars, including defending CART champion Paul Tracy of Toronto.

For now, there's no sign of a reconciliation, which most believe is vital to rebuilding open-wheel racing to the popularity it once enjoyed.  ``If we had one series, we would have about 36 cars,'' Walker said. ``Thirty-six cars trying to get into any given race. That would be what we see in NASCAR. That would be a hell of a show. The Indy 500 would be what it used to be. 
``That's the dilemma we have. We have two series. It needs to be one.''  [Editor's Note: Tony George should have thought of that when he split the sport in two in 1996 and just about killed it. History must never forget the tactical blunder he made.]

2/12/04

Today OWRS completes final takeover of CART  Today is the final day for OWRS to file all paperwork with regard to its acquisition of the assets it bid on to acquire the Champ Car World Series.  We expect to see some announcements within days and we assume one of the first ones will be the 2004 schedule.

2/12/04

Kelley Racing signs Sarah Fisher  Indy Racing League driver Sarah Fisher confirmed Wednesday she has signed to race with Kelley Racing. However, Fisher could not say how many races, or even which races, she will compete in this season. Team officials declined to comment pending a news release expected today. "We're close on a lot of things, but they're not nailed down yet," Fisher said from the IRL's open test. "So rather than saying we're going to be in 'this many' races, we're just going to say I'm driving for the team." Fisher, 23, has driven in 47 IRL races, finishing a career-best second at Homestead, Fla., in 2001.

2/12/04

Iron man Labonte at it again  Labonte enters the 2004 season carrying a string of 42 consecutive races without a DNF (did not finish), the longest current streak in NEXTEL Cup. The modern-era record is 56 straight, set by Jeff Gordon in 2001-02. Labonte was one of only two drivers who completed all 36 races last season, the other being Kevin Harvick.  Labonte also holds the record for starting the most consecutive Nextel Cup/Winston Cup races.

2/12/04

Newman picked to win title  Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge, was named the pre-season No. 1 pick to win the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship in balloting by the motorsports media. Newman earned 1, 915 points and 27 first place votes to make him the pre-season favorite.

2/12/04

Budweiser Shootout #1 rated cable show  Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout from Daytona pulled in a stout 6.6 rating, the #1 cable TV show of the week.  If this is any indication, NASCAR is in for another big year.

2/12/04

Patrick Carpentier enters snowmobile race  Champ Car Series driver Patrick Carpentier (shown here in action during practice) will enter this weekend's Ski-doo snowmobile Celebrity Race at the Valcourt Grand Prix. The Canadian race car driver will team up with Fran-Am 2003 champion Andrew Ranger and Formula Ford former champion Didier Schraenen in a tag team snocross relay race against three-time Canadian Motocross champion Jean-Sébastien Roy, newly crowned Canadian Superbike and Pro 600 Sport champion Pascal Picotte and former Atlantic and Indy Lights driver Bertrand Godin.  The proceeds from the Celebrity Race and the ensuing auction of the drivers memorabilia will be donated to l'Association en coeur, a non-profit organization that helps children suffering from heart diseases. The race will be held on Saturday, February 14 at 2:00 p.m. Practice is schedule for Saturday morning.

2/12/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Bahrain Scraps F1 'Tent City' Plan
F1 Doomed If Costs Aren't Cut: Ecclestone
Minardi Spread Wings To Asia
Montagny To Finally Draw Breath
Button, BAR, Still Reigns At Jerez
Bernie Not Sorry About 'Beggar' Remark
Ralf Fighting Over Money: Frank Williams
Bruni Shines In New Minardi
F1 To Crown New Champion: Bernie
Jordan Expect Pantano Deal
Button On Pole For Williams Return
Melbourne To Lose Season-Opener In 2006

Ford Are 'Silly' About Jaguar Project
Switzerland To Lift Ban On F1 Racing
Fisichella And Webber Eye Williams Seat
There Are No Alternate 'Supremos'

2/11/04

Alex Job Racing to have new drivers for Sebring   Returning American Le Mans Series GT class champions Alex Job Racing will unload at Sebring with new cars and two new drivers Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas. The new pilots will join last years GT class runner-up pairing of Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard in the Alex Job Racing/Mail2Web Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs.

The foursome will be piloting the new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR racers. For 2004 the cars will use a sequential gearbox for the full season. In addition, the cars will have enhanced front and rear bumpers as well as more muscular fender flares giving the 911 a stronger stance. Overall there are more than 200 new items on this years car. To highlight the package, AJR will have a new livery to debut at Sebring.

"We have added Marc and Romain to the team this year replacing Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr, who will race in Europe this season. Romain raced with us at Petit Le Mans last year, so he is no stranger to the team. Marc is someone who has a lot of Porsche experience and has previous starts in the ALMS series. I have a lot of confidence in our four drivers to be able to keep the team at the top and further our excellent record in the series," said Alex Job, team owner. "We will have Sascha and Lucas in the cars for Sebring and Petit Le Mans, giving us a good base of experience in each car for the longer races. The new car is an improvement in several areas, nothing radical, just typical Porsche making something great even better. With the new car and the always competitive Michelin tires, we are looking forward to another great year."

The team has added Tim Pendergast as team manager. Pendergast comes to AJR from the American Le Mans series where he was operations and special projects director. Mike Evans continues as the team's technical director, with Greg Fordahl handling the engineering duties. At Sebring, Kerry Foote will crew chief the #24 car with Evans and Phil Pierce handling the #23 entry.

Sebring driver pairings:
#23 Alex Job Racing/Mail2Web Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
Jorg Bergmeister
Timo Bernhard
Sascha Maassen - Sebring and Petit Le Mans

#24 Alex Job Racing/Mail2Web Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
Romain Dumas
Marc Lieb
Lucas Luhr - Sebring and Petit Le Mans

2/11/04

Quotes from Phoenix  HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We had a test here in December, so we started out pretty quick right off the bat. Unfortunately, it was a little bit chilly, so we started a little bit slow. Plus, the cars seem to have a little less downforce than we used to run with the configuration from last year. We were just trying to make sure everything was working and getting to know the track again. In the afternoon, we worked more on our race setup and made sure that we understand the car in this configuration and see how much can we do and how much we can take out, so when we come back on race day, we don't have to waste time on that." (About the reconfiguration of the track): "Going into the turns seems to be the same. On the exit, you have a little bit more space, so you don't have to keep turning the car. That's why a lot of people had some problems last year. They smoothed it out, and they did a hell of a job compared to December.

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We were trying to go for speed for most of the day. We had balance issues throughout the morning and this afternoon. We could never really get where we wanted. We were working on that, trying different variations of setups, and I think we started to head in the right direction. I think we ended up setting our quick time on our fourth or fifth run on a set of tires." (About the reconfiguration of the track): (Turn) 4 was really good in December, but now I think it's a little worse. It's definitely improved in the exit of (Turn) 2. I think with the exit of (Turn) 2, it gives you a little more room and a little more confidence. I think it made the track a little easier, because that wall used to come up pretty quick."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Archipelago Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's been a long time since I was on a 1-mile oval. Things come at you pretty quickly, and it was nice this morning to take a couple of laps to get into it and get to know the car and the track a little bit. We just worked with the setup and put a new set of tires on. I'm pretty happy. The cars are a bit more difficult to drive. They've got a bit less downforce, and you've really got to think about it and work with the setup a bit more. I'm very happy with the direction the crew has taken with that. It was a good day for us." (About the reconfiguration of the track): "There's a couple of bumps on the exit of Turn 2, but as far as driving the track, it feels very similar to what we had last season. It's just a lot nicer to get in under the track with that tunnel there."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Today went good. We struggled with the handling a little this morning. Then we changed just about everything for the afternoon session, and it helped the Conseco car a lot. It was more stable and secure. I was more confident, and the speed came to me."

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "Today was a big disappointment for us. The good news is that all of the safety efforts did exactly what they were supposed to do. The bad news is that despite our team putting in a lot of extra effort, we don't get to finish working on a bunch of different combinations. To miss a day and a half of testing for us right now hurts, given the track time that most of the teams have had. We'll have to pick it up and move on to Homestead."

2/11/04

Castroneves fastest on first day in Phoenix  Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon posted the top two laps in the morning session and those laps remained the quickest of the day as the IRL IndyCar Series began a two-day Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway on Feb. 11.

Castroneves' Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone lapped the 1-mile oval in 20.3095 seconds, 177.257 mph. He was closely followed by Dixon, the 2003 IndyCar Series champion, who posted a fast lap of 20.3126 seconds, 177.230 mph in his Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.

Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti was fastest in the afternoon session and third-quickest overall with a lap of 20.3518 seconds, 176.889 in the Archipelago Dallara/Honda/ Firestone.

Several drivers struggled with the reconfigured oval as the caution flag fell four times in the morning session for four separate incidents.

Tora Takagi, Scott Sharp and Darren Manning all spun in the newly widened Turn 2, but none of the drivers were injured and continued to practice in the afternoon session. Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing left the test early after driver Robbie Buhl severely damaged his car following contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 4.
TOP SPEEDS FROM MORNING PRACTICE
1. Helio Castroneves, Marlboro Team Penske, D/T/F, 177.257 mph
2. Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, G/T/F, 177.230
3. Sam Hornish Jr., Marlboro Team Penske, D/T/F, 175.597
4. Tony Kanaan, Team 7-Eleven, D/H/F, 174.365
5. Dan Wheldon, Klein Tools/Jim Beam D/H/F, 172.731
TOP SPEEDS FROM AFTERNOON PRACTICE
1. Dario Franchitti, Archipelago, D/H/F, 176.889 mph
2. Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, G/T/F, 176.665
3. Tony Kanaan, Team 7-Eleven, D/H/F, 175.768
4. Helio Castroneves, Marlboro Team Penske, 175.647
5. Dan Wheldon, Klein Tools/Jim Beam D/H/F, 172.954
WEDNESDAY'S TOP PRACTICE SPEEDS (COMBINED)
1. Helio Castroneves, Marlboro Team Penske, D/T/F, 177.257 mph
2. Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, G/T/F, 177.230
3. Dario Franchitti, Archipelago, D/H/F, 176.889
4. Tony Kanaan, Team 7-Eleven, D/H/F, 175.768
5. Sam Hornish Jr., Marlboro Team Penske, D/T/F, 175.597

2/11/04

Tracy sets sights on Montreal  This Globe and Mail article says, This could be Paul Tracy's last season in open-wheel racing, and the Canadian driver has expressed a burning desire to add a storied road-course win to his impressive list of triumphs.  Tracy has won in Vancouver and Toronto, including both races last year, when he was top driver in the Champ Car series.  Now he has his sights set on winning in Montreal, where victory has eluded Tracy, winner of 26 Championship Auto Racing Teams races, in both his starts at the Molson Indy event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.  Tracy was in Vancouver yesterday to promote the 2004 editions of the three Canadian races that last season attracted nearly 500,000 fans......Clean-shaven and sporting a shadowy beard, the fit-looking Tracy said he had kept his racing team intact from last season, when he won seven times and claimed the overall driver's title.  "My focus is still the same," Tracy said. "The job in the race car is still the same. I want to win another championship.  "I enjoy road racing in Canada. I've won [Vancouver] and I've won in Toronto. One more feather in my cap would be to win in Montreal. Hopefully, I can do that.

2/11/04

A dead series huh?  UPDATE  With over 4,000 votes now, CART is widening its lead.

CART: 42%
IRL: 29%
NASCAR: 24%
Formula One: 5%
Total Votes: 4155

2/11/04 - The bottom left side of this Indy Star article has a poll of which race series Indy Star readers will follow most.  Interestingly, even in the IRL's backyard, in a publication that seems to favor the IRL and publish a lot of negative things about Champ Car, the results stand as:

Which of these auto racing series do you follow most closely?
CART: 40%
IRL: 31%
NASCAR: 24%
Formula One: 4%
Total Votes: 2870

2/11/04

STP back with #43  History was repeated today at Daytona International Speedway when Richard Petty announced that his long-time sponsor, STP, will join Cheerios and Betty Crocker on the hood of the famed #43 Dodge for one race this season. The unveiling of the new paint scheme kicks off a celebration of Petty family anniversaries by sponsors General Mills and STP. The Cheerios/STP #43 Dodge will race at the Subway 400 in Rockingham, NC on Feb. 22. For the Pettys, a family steeped in NASCAR tradition, 2004 marks numerous monumental racing anniversaries. It is the golden anniversary of patriarch Lee Petty's first championship; the 45th anniversary of Lee Petty's win of the inaugural Daytona 500; the 40th anniversaries of Richard Petty's first Daytona 500 win and first series championship; and the 20th anniversary of Richard's record-setting 200th and last win. Long-time sponsor STP is also celebrating a key milestone as 2004 marks its 50th anniversary as a pioneer in the fuel and oil additive category. The STP logo, which will remain on the car throughout the 2004 season as an associate sponsor, began making headlines in 1972 with the historic sponsorship of Petty and the #43 car. In 1979, Richard won his seventh NASCAR title, which put him in a class of his own, and also etched STP as an icon in the racing world. General Mills, sponsor of Petty Enterprises' #43 car since 2000, returns as the primary sponsor in 2004 through its Cheerios and Betty Crocker brands. Outside of the special paint scheme, to recognize this historic year for the Petty family, General Mills brings a unique opportunity to race fans - a series of collectible "Salute to Petty" die-cast cars representing Petty family racecars past and present. The special collection features 21 different die-cast cars, 16 from Hot Wheels, including replicas of the 1957 Pontiac GTO, 1964 Plymouth Belvedere, 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, 1974 Dodge Charger, 1984 Pontiac Grand Prix, 2004 Dodge Intrepid and more. For a limited time, consumers can find die-cast cars free in or near specially marked packages of General Mills brands including Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Wheaties, Honey Nut Chex, Pop Secret, Old El Paso, Betty Crocker, Bugles and Pillsbury Grands!. STP PR

2/11/04

Barber Dodge announces new prize fund  The Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER has unveiled an entirely new prize package for 2004 as part of its ongoing commitment to elevate the series' competitiveness and profile. The champion of this 14-race North American open-wheel series now wins $100,000 in cash. The $100,000 is payable to any race team in the racing world, provided it is a step up in the driver's career. In addition, each driver finishing second-through-10th in FDNC season points wins $10,000 in cash, paid directly to the driver. "This is an exciting advance in North American open-wheel racing, one that we're confident will strongly appeal to up-and-coming drivers," said Divina Galica, Vice President of Racing for the Skip Barber organization. By creating a significant cash purse for FDNC, we continue, in an even stronger fashion, to add to our long history of materially assisting drivers climbing the motorsports ladder." Galica added, I have to say, despite our adding a major cash prize element to FDNC, we are still charging just $5,450 for each race weekend -- and that's two races. That means the champion actually makes money. Where else in open-wheel road racing is that possible?"

2/11/04

2004 Molson Indy websites go live  The 2004 Molson Indy website for the three Canadian Champ Car races in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal is now live and updated with 2004 race information.  They are not selling tickets for the Montreal race until after the Canadian GP F1 race runs.

2/11/04

Ecclestone warns we must cut costs and HP  [See full interview on our Home page]  Bernie Ecclestone has issued a warning to cut costs to survive.  Speaking in an interview with members of the Australian media, Ecclestone said that he believed the sport in general - and not just the handful of small teams - was threatened by the rising cost of competition, hastened in part by the return of the major motor manufacturers supplying engines to teams and fielding works operations of their own.

"We've got to reduce the costs dramatically, for the survival of Formula One," former Brabham team owner Ecclestone emphasized, "If we don't reduce the costs dramatically, the people that are currently at the top in Formula One - and spending all the money - may say 'listen, we've spent enough and we're leaving'."

"I have been around Formula One for a long time now, and there have never been more than three or four really competitive teams in any one year, so it's about normal," he said of the current situation with Williams, Ferrari, McLaren and Renault leading the way, "We've got now, I think, four very, very strong teams.

"Could we change that? The only way you will ever change it is to find a way to drastically reduce the costs in order that the people at the back end of the grid can catch up. At the moment, the amount that the teams spend is so vastly different that it wouldn't be possible for someone that's got a budget like the Jordans of this world to ever, ever be able to compete with McLaren."

"To get someone like Jordan to the budget that McLaren has got would be extremely difficult but, to get the regulations changed in order to bring down the costs to run the McLaren team to somewhere near Jordan, would probably be quicker and easier," he explained, "All the people that have got the budgets are happy to spend the money to go quick. That's how it is.

"All the teams that have big budgets are really not interested in reducing them because, if you think about it, they've got an awful lot of money invested - and, as long as the money is there, they want to spend it to win. And they will spend all they have to win. That's how competitive the teams are. It's very, very difficult to get the engineers and the real people to get their heads together and say 'listen, we've got to be sensible, we have got to find ways of reducing our costs', because it's not their way of going on. They want anything new and whatever they can do they want to do, as I say, to go a bit quicker."

Asked for his ideas on the subject, Ecclestone turned immediately to a reduction in power.

"These guys, the top teams, are in excess of 900 horsepower now - but does anybody need 900 horsepower?" he asked, "The answer is no. The TV audience hasn't changed from when we had 700 horsepower. So, the obvious thing to do is to reduce the power, but how would you do that and keep all the technology that we currently have? Chop away a few litres, I suppose. "People have been talking about this now for two or three years, but I think now we've got a single engine [per GP weekend], and possibly we are going to have Max [Mosley] wanting to go to three races with one engine. I'm not so sure I go along with that but, maybe, now is the time to have a change and see what power 2.5 liters can produce and whether they get the job done. I don't think the public care."

2/11/04

BAR Honda 1-2 at Jerez  Jenson Button kept his name at the head of the timesheets by setting the fastest time on the second day of testing at Jerez in Spain today (Wednesday). Takuma Sato underlined the potential of the BAR-Honda 006 with the second quickest time. The Briton set his quickest lap during the morning session, before BAR turned its attention to running a race simulation for both its drivers. Button duly completed his 'race', in the process posting a string of impressively consistent laps. The team was running Honda's Melbourne-spec engine today, and the unit performed reliably.  "It's all good," Button told autosport.com. "We did a long run, which is all part of the tire test. The car was pretty consistent and we got some good data. I'm happy with what we've done, but we do have a few problems to address. I'm reasonably happy, but we just need more long runs."
Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Jenson Button BAR-Honda M 1m16.997s 108
2 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m17.273s 59
3 Franck Montagny Renault M 1m17.297s 109*
4 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m17.357s 83
5 Jarno Trulli Renault M 1m17.408s 102
6 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m17.411s 71
7 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m17.826s 95
8 Mark Webber Jaguar M 1m17.890s 57
9 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m17.972s 96
10 Luca Badoer Ferrari B 1m18.070s 109*
11 Christian Klien Jaguar M 1m18.168s 99
12 Felipe Massa Sauber-Petronas B 1m18.937s 63
13 Giancarlo Fisichella Sauber-Petronas B 1m19.283s 44
14 Nick Heidfeld Jordan-Ford B 1m20.109s 51
15 Giorgio Pantano Jordan-Ford B 1m21.584s 24

2/11/04

No Successor to Bernie  This Autosport article says, Ecclestone, who has been at the helm of F1 since the late '80s, says that no-one can fulfil his role while he is still around. "As long as I'm here, it would be difficult to put anyone around me that would be meaningful," said Ecclestone. "People will step into my shoes as soon as I'm not here, for sure. If you went out today to try and choose a person it would be very difficult. "Somebody would have to grow into what I do, which has taken me a few years to do that properly. We're looking for a new used car dealer!" Ecclestone says he has given no thought to retiring, and has previously hinted that he will continue his role until he is physically unable to fulfil his duties. "The minute I feel I'm not doing what I should be doing, or not delivering, I would be happy to hand my gloves in and stand down."

2/11/04

Brooks Racing renews sponsor, testing drivers   Brooks Associates Racing is proud to announce the renewal of its team sponsorship with Port-A-Cool. Port-A-Cool, a worldwide industry leader in portable evaporative cooling units, has been a sponsor of the team for many years. “We came on board when John was still driving. The visibility that motorsports provides us adds to our sales opportunities, both at-track to racing fans and through business to business relationships and through entertainment of key accounts,” said Rick Campbell, President. “The team mirrors our own corporate philosophies and we are proud to continue helping John and his team anyway we can.” This season, in addition to signage and hospitality at the races Port-A-cool plans a promotion that provides racing T-shirts and a chance at an all expense paid trip to the Long Beach Grand Prix in 2005, through its sales of the popular cooling units. Brooks Associates Racing has ambitious plans for the 2004 season. They will be testing drivers in the coming weeks and hope to contest two cars for the season. Driver announcements should come in early March as the preseason testing shifts into high gear in anticipation of the season opener through the streets of Long Beach.

2/11/04

Motorock Trans-Am tour returns to Long Beach  The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach announced today that it will host the opening round of the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Tour during its three-day, 30th anniversary race weekend, April 16-18. It’s the seventh consecutive year – and 13th overall – that America’s longest-running road racing series (39 years) has come to the famed seaside circuit. The Trans-Am race will wrap up an action-packed weekend schedule that includes the first round of the 2004 Champ Car World Series, the 28th annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, the opening round of the Toyota Atlantic Championship and the Long Beach Historic Grand Prix featuring vintage Formula 5000, Formula One and 1984-90 era Champ Cars. "We are absolutely delighted to welcome the Motorock Trans-Am Tour back to the streets of Long Beach this April,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “That race always provides some of the most exciting side-by-side action and is the perfect way to conclude our 30th anniversary weekend." The 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Tour features sports cars such as the Jaguar XKR, Chevrolet Corvette, Panoz Esperante, Dodge Viper and Ford Mustang. Scott Pruett won the Trans-Am Series championship last year after a dominating season that saw him win eight of the 11 events in his No. 7 Motorock/Jaguar R Performance XKR. It was Pruett’s first full season of competition in Trans-Am since 1994, and the Oregon resident surpassed former Jaguar racer Bob Tullius for fourth on the all-time Trans-Am win list (22). Pruett will have to defend his 2003 championship against the popular Boris Said, winner of last year’s race at Long Beach and 2002 Trans-Am champion. Said’s Long Beach victory was his first and it was well deserved. The Carlsbad, Calif.-resident passed Pruett with four laps to go in the race and held on for a 4.296-second win over Johnny Miller and Pruett, who had led every lap until Said’s pass. “The Motorock Trans-Am Tour is privileged to return to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and help it celebrate its 30th anniversary,” said Motorock Trans-Am Tour Executive Director John Clagett. “Long Beach has traditionally been one of Trans-Am’s most competitive and exciting venues, and has hosted some of its most memorable events. We’re looking forward to yet another exhilarating Long Beach race weekend.” The Trans-Am race is tentatively scheduled to follow the featured Champ Car World Series race on Sunday afternoon, April 18. There will be Trans-Am practice on Friday followed by qualifying on Saturday afternoon. Ticket prices for the three-day Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach range from $40 for a Sunday-only general admission ticket to $110 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seating in upper levels of the grandstands. Pre-paid parking packages are available and can be purchased when ordering tickets through the Grand Prix ticket office. Tickets for the 2004 event can be placed by calling the ticket hotline toll-free at (888) 82-SPEED or logging on to www.longbeachgp.com. Copies of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach ticket brochure can also be obtained by calling the ticket hotline. The ticket brochure includes a circuit map with grandstand and parking locations as well as ticket prices and a ticket order form. Handicapped seating, Bosch Champ Car Garage passes, super photo tickets and hospitality club packages are also available. For updated Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach ticket information, news or announcements of special race week activities, visit www.longbeachgp.com.

2/11/04



Renault to announce new series in USA   4th  UPDATE  Autoracing1.com has now learned today that indeed the Renault V6 program will be discussed for the USA.  It is possible we will see it start as a Winter Series in late 2004 with a full blown effort in 2005. Grand-Am currently has the sanctioning agreement with Renault so if the series does happen it will be in direct competition with Toyota Atlantic, but now run under the oval track cartel's Grand-Am banner.   2/11/04 - Just to be clear, the V6 cars won't be racing in the USA in 2004, just a demo on Sunday to go along with the smaller FR2000 series introduction.  What we proposed was for OWRS to get the Renault V6 series into the Champ Car ladder system ASAP.  2/10/04 - the Formula Renault V6 design criteria are extremely strict, and the carbon-fiber monocoque adheres to the FIA Formula 3000 criteria. The 3.5 liter V6 engine performs 425 HP at 7,000 rpm and has a weight/power ratio of 2 kg/bhp. The top speed is over 300 km/h (180 MPH). Reliability has been a major consideration: the engine only needs to be rebuilt once every two seasons (can you say economical?)! Magneti Marelli provides the electronic management, while the tires have been specifically designed by Michelin. Just like in Formula One, the driver has a semi automatic sequential six speed gearbox with limited slip differential, choosing the appropriate gear via the steering wheel, and uses left-footed braking. The suspension has torsion bars and adjustable shock combinations. Weight of the car without driver: 580 kg. To further their motorsport education, the talented young drivers will get used to the radio, an electronic display on the steering wheel, data acquisition, tires changes during the race and two different race starts (FIA standing start and Indianapolis - rolling start). Technical assistance for the engine-power, electronics, suspension, transmission and tires will be available to the teams at each event.  Brochure (PDF File)   2/10/04 - A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I don't understand why you "like the gradation between the rungs on that ladder vs. what CART had before where Barber Dodge Pro and Toyota Atlantic were similar in performance and they were both too far below Champ Car." The Renault V6 series will be the death of Toyota Atlantic. It is already too much money to run in the CART Toyota Atlantic series not to mention that it, along with whatever new series may be in creation, is virtually unmarketable. It will only dilute the already delicate and confusing ladder that exists. If CART is going to have a ladder system it must adopt the European system of F3 to F3000 to F1 or Champ Car. There is no viable economic reason for any driver to consider that Toyota Atlantic would even be a stepping stone between an F2000/F3/Barber Dodge Pro Series and a new F3000 series. If this new U.S. F3000 series comes to fruition...Goodbye Toyota Atlantic...It's been fun. Malcolm Ross, Former Owner, Active Motorsports, Inc.  Dear Malcolm, Thanks for writing.  We agree with you that Toyota Atlantic is far too expensive. The solution then would have Toyota supply engines for an F3 chassis (perhaps a slightly detuned existing Atlantic engine) and cut the cost to race to $0.5 million per year. With Renault V6 fitting the F3000 rung you propose, the Champ Car ladder would be complete as we proposed, karting-->Formula BMW-->Toyota Atlantic/F3-->Renault V6/F3000-->Champ Car.  The more manufacturers involved the better. Mark C.     2/10/04 - On Sunday February 15th look for Formula Renault V6 to make a major North American Debut/RaceTeam Promotions to announce 2004 FR2000 Plans.  On hand will be Brett Ross, General Manager, FR2000 Winter Invitational, John Kolody, President, RaceTeam Promotions, and Renault Sport representatives. The RaceTeam Promotions group will announce 2004 plans for the FR2000 Championship, including two new championships, sanctioning announcement and manufacture participation. Renault Sport will be unveiling the new Formula Renault V6 and the car will be performing an on-track demonstration at Homestead-Miami Speedway. These cars are more powerful and faster than a Toyota Atlantic car (similar to F3000) and will unofficially slot in between Atlantics and Champ Cars in the USA. If Renault really gets behind this series, and with Barber Dodge Pro going away, perhaps someday the Champ Car road racing ladder will be karting-->Formula BMW-->Toyota Atlantic-->Renault V6-->Champ Car. We like the gradation between the rungs on that ladder vs. what CART had before where Barber Dodge Pro and Toyota Atlantic were similar in performance and they were both too far below Champ Car. OWRS would do well to bring another manufacturer (Renault) into their fold/ladder.    Why should the Fran-Am V6 3.5L cars become official rungs on the CART ladder?  Renault and Nissan are joined at the hip commercially.  Nissan sells a lot of cars in the USA.  It's possible Nissan could get involved in a project like this, or perhaps Renault has decided to sell cars again in North America in the near future. We shall know soon enough!

2/11/04
Industry News

Would IRL ABC deal be affected?  In a surprise move, cable TV giant Comcast Corp. proposed early today to buy Walt Disney Co., the iconic media and entertainment powerhouse that owns the ABC and ESPN television networks, movie studios and theme parks, for stock valued at about $54 billion.  The nation's biggest cable systems operator said it would also assume $11.9 billion in Disney debt to push the total value of the deal to $66 billion.

Comcast's stunning proposal was made even as Disney boss Michael Eisner is fending off criticism from former board members Roy E. Disney, the nephew of Disney founder Walt Disney, and Stanley E. Gold about his performance and lack of a succession plan as Disney's chief executive.  Comcast said Eisner declined earlier this week to discuss a possible merger.

"This is a unique opportunity for all shareholders of Comcast and Disney to create a new leader of the entertainment and communications industry," said Comcast president and chief executive Brian L. Roberts in a statement.  Calls to Disney representatives Zenia Mucha, Michelle Bergman and John Spelich were not immediately returned. Michael Citrick, spokesman for Disney and Gold, said they had no immediate comment.

Comcast also released a letter sent to Eisner indicating that Eisner had personally rejected Roberts' offer to enter into discussions about a merger earlier in the week.  The letter from Roberts called it "unfortunate" that Eisner was not willing to enter into discussions. "Given this, the only way for us to proceed is to make a public proposal directly to you and your board," the letter stated.  AP Story

2/11/04

F1 race fans staying home  With Formula One racing coming to Shanghai this year, travel agents around the city are having trouble selling overseas trips to local race fans.  It's too early to say package deals will be a flop, many say, but early sales are worrying.

Spring International, one of the city's leading travel agencies, is offering a 9-day trip to Australia centered around the final F1 race of the season. It successfully launched a package trip to Malaysia for fans eager to watch Michael Schumacher and his rivals race around the Sepang Circuit last year.  Only 10 people, less than one-third of the number allowed, have signed up for the Australian trip on March 7, although the booking deadline is only two weeks away, said Shen Hao, an outbound section official of Spring International.  "The high cost might account for the low sales," said Shen, noting the trip costs 11,900 yuan (US$1,434), excluding race tickets which range from US$73.70 to US$387.70 each.

Shen said the company is also looking forward to setting up other package deals to every spot on the F1 circuit Chinese are allowed to travel to.  "Last year, sales ignited only one week prior to the deadline," Shen added.  But a much cheaper trip to Malaysia is also generating less interest than last year.

Shanghai CYTS Co Ltd has booked 700 plane tickets for the trip which starts on March 21, according to its manager Zhen Jianhong.  While it only began selling the tour yesterday, Zhen admits interest seems limited so far.  The 4-day trip costs 3,280 yuan, including a ticket to the race.  "As the F1 will begin to take stops in Shanghai from this year on, I prefer to stay home for the appreciation," said Luo Zheng, a 33-year-old IT manager.  Chen Zhengxi, a local racing fan, added that a lack of time was another reason.  Eastday.com

2/11/04
Formula BMW

Minardi starts Asia team  The Minardi F1 Team is today pleased to announce the formation of Minardi Team Asia. This follows the signing of an agreement with Eurasia Motorsport, and will result in the new team entering Asian drivers in both the Formula BMW Asia and Asian Formula 3 series in 2004. In addition to its F1 presence, the Minardi name will thus be seen at important regional motor racing events in China, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines this season.

Headquartered in Hong Kong, Eurasia Motorsport will run up to four cars in the 2004 Formula BMW Asia Series, and a single chassis in the Asian Formula 3 Series, all painted in Minardi’s distinctive black, white and red colors. Owned and managed by Piers Hunnisett, Mark Goddard and Martin Quick – all of whom have extensive experience of international motorsport – the team’s in-depth understanding of the Asian racing scene will give it a competitive edge while, at the same time, providing talented young drivers and technicians from this important region with a clearly defined “ladder” for career advancement.

“There has often been talk of Formula One teams helping to popularize motorsport in Asia, but up until now, nothing of any substance has been done,” says Minardi Team Principal, Paul Stoddart. “As a team, Minardi has worked with many Asian companies over recent years, and has said consistently that it wants to assist the development of the sport in this area of the world. The Minardi Team Asia initiative allows us to do just that, and I’m sure, considering the population of Asia, a young driver will be discovered via this program who has the ability and the determination to make it to Formula One.

“From a commercial perspective, this venture will provide the Formula One team’s sponsors with the chance to be associated with Minardi at a regional level in what is an extremely important global market. It will also help to introduce Asian companies to motorsport, while allowing them to explore the potential benefits associated with sponsorship.”

Piers Hunnisett, speaking on behalf of Eurasia Motorsport, comments, “I have been talking to Paul about this project for a number of months, and am extremely pleased we are able to announce the formation of Minardi Team Asia today. Interest in motor sport in Asia has been growing very strongly over recent years, undoubtedly assisted by the presence of the Malaysian Grand Prix on the Formula One calendar. Now, with the inclusion of the Chinese and Bahrain races in the World Championship schedule for the first time, the floodgates have been opened for Asian motorsport. Audiences in this part of the world are clamouring for local heroes, and there is no doubt this link with the Minardi F1 Team will assist the career development of young drivers, while also having the benefit of encouraging new sponsors into the sport.”

Hunnisett has been associated with Asian motorsport since 1994, when he ran up-and-coming Malaysian, Alex Yoong, in his debut season of racing. Yoong and the team made history that year, winning the first-ever single-seater car race held in China. Coincidentally, the Kuala Lumpur resident made history again seven years later when, signed by the Minardi Team, he became Malaysia’s first Formula One driver. Minardi Team Asia will announce its 2004 driver line-up in the near future.

2/11/04

Champ Car needs to be like F1  Since we here at AutoRacing1.com have campaigned for the next generation Champ Cars to be exactly the same size as a F1 car, this letter to Autosport Magazine caught our eye - Champ Car will always struggle for money and influence while it remains in competition with the IRL IndyCar Series. It needs the killer idea that can move it forward in the eyes of the racing community and I believe there is a simple answer.  Run Champ Car races to the current Formula 1 rules, with the exception of allowing purchased components on any part of the car. You can imagine the interest of manufacturers, teams and drivers from all over the world who want the F1 Experience without the F1 Budget restrictions. I would be surprised if they didn't fill the grid for every race, and the IRL will only be able to look on in envy as the new stepping-stone to F1 takes shape. Julian Bailey (not that Julian Bailey!) Dear Julian, Champ Car needs to become the premier open wheel series in North America, and a low-cost alternate to F1 worldwide, so we agree with your proposal, though we would be a bit more restrictive with the rules to lower costs. Mark C.

2/11/04

Where is he now?  Bruce McCaw is no longer a Champ Car team owner, but he still enjoys motor racing. The Seattle native races vintage cars several times a year, and he plans to run a Nardi and an Alfa Zagato at the upcoming Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.   Today the 57-year old concentrates on family life with his wife Jolene and three young children, as well as his other business activities. Bruce and Jolene co-chair the board of the Talaris Research Institute, dedicated to advancing knowledge of early brain development in children. McCaw is also chairman of the Board for Seattle’s Museum of Flight, which recently received one of two British Airways Concordes in the US for a long-term exhibition.  McCaw remains a keen car collector and racing enthusiast and he has closely followed the recent travails of CART. “Jolene and I miss seeing the many, many friends we knew in CART,” he says. “Frankly, I’m appalled at how the resources of CART were squandered in the past 18 months. I’m pleased that the gentlemen backing the Open Wheel Racing Series stepped forward to continue this fabulous series.”  Autosport Magazine

2/11/04

McNish & Herbert to drive for Audi   The newly-formed Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx lines-up with two Audi R8 prototypes. Four of the six Veloqx drivers have already won the Le Mans 24 Hours at least once: Frank Biela (Germany) in 2000, 2001 and 2002, Johnny Herbert in 1991, Allan McNish in 1998, Guy Smith (Great Britain) last year. German Pierre Kaffer and Briton Jamie Davies complete the Le Mans squad of the British team. In preparation for the Le Mans event, Veloqx will contest the 12-hour race at Sebring on March 20 with the same driver squads. Long-time Formula 1 test driver Darren Turner (Great Britain) is the team's reserve driver.

The American Team ADT Champion Racing and Team Goh from Japan each enter one Audi R8 at Le Mans. The Finn JJ Lehto (1995 winner), the Italian Emanuele Pirro (victorious in 2000, 2001 and 2002) and the German Marco Werner drive for Champion, while the Japanese driver Seiji Ara, last year's winner Rinaldo Capello from Italy and five-time winner Tom Kristensen from Denmark (1997, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 winner) drive for Goh.

Goh (Ara/Capello) and Veloqx (Davies, Kaffer, McNish, Smith, Turner) also contest the new European Le Mans Endurance Series (LMES) which, with a total of four races starting on May 9 at Monza (Italy), revives the classic 1000 kilometre races.

In the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), JJ Lehto and defending ALMS Champion Marco Werner set off on the title hunt in the Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8. At the season opener in Sebring - as at Le Mans - they will be supported by DTM driver Emanuele Pirro.

"It speaks volumes for the Audi R8 that our customer teams can start with such high-caliber driver squads," explained Audi motorsport chief Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "Whether it is Formula 1 stars, legends such as Paul Frère or newcomers like Pierre Kaffer and Jamie Davies: Up till now everybody who has driven an Audi R8 was impressed."
Audi Teams competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2004:
Audi Sport Japan Team Goh:
Seiji Ara (J), Rinaldo Capello (I), Tom Kristensen (DK)
Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx *:
Frank Biela (D), Jamie Davies (GB), Pierre Kaffer (D), Johnny Herbert (GB), Allan McNish (GB), Guy Smith (GB)
Team ADT Champion Racing:
JJ Lehto (FIN), Emanuele Pirro (I), Marco Werner (D)
Audi Teams competing in the 2004 Le Mans Endurance Series 2004 (LMES):
Audi Sport Japan Team Goh:
Seiji Ara (J), Rinaldo Capello (I)
Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx *:
Pierre Kaffer (D), Jamie Davies (GB), Allan McNish (GB), Guy Smith (GB), Darren Turner (GB)
Audi Team competing in the 2004 American Le Mans Series (ALMS):
Team ADT Champion Racing:
JJ Lehto (FIN), Marco Werner (D)
Audi Teams competing in the Sebring 12-hour race in 2004:
Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx *:
Frank Biela (D), Jamie Davies (GB), Pierre Kaffer (D), Johnny Herbert (GB), Allan McNish (GB), Guy Smith (GB)
Team ADT Champion Racing:
JJ Lehto (FIN), Emanuele Pirro (I), Marco Werner (D)
* The driver line-up for Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx's two cars have not yet been finalised

2/11/04

Customer cars closer  Autosport Magazine reports that F1 teams are edging towards an agreement to allow smaller outfits to buy customer chassis, despite previous reluctance for a change in regulations.   The Concorde Agreement, the document by which F1 is run, forces teams to build their own cars, but a consensus for change is growing as a means of boosting the grid.   McLaren boss Ron Dennis, who had been against relaxing the rules, has even suggested new teams be given a three-year period of grace, during which they can buy customer cars while they learn the ropes in F1.   Max Mosley, president of the sport’s governing body, said: “One or two teams were a bit nervous to begin with, but they are coming around to it. It’s being discussed in a very positive way by everybody.”   But Eddie Jordan, whose team could benefit from a new rule, said: “I would only do it if there was no other way out.”

2/11/04

Anderson concerned with F1 safety  Autosport Magazine reports that F1 teams are compromising safety in their efforts to minimize the weight of their cars.  That is the view of Jordan’s former chief technical boss, Gary Anderson, who believes the sport has become complacent to the possible dangers because there have been no fatalities since Ayrton Senna was killed in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.   Anderson is particularly concerned about how light the cars have become – ballast sometimes adds as much as 100kg to bring them up to the minimum weight regulation of 600kg (about 1,200 Lbs).   Speaking to AUTOSPORT, Anderson said: “It is difficult to see  why you should allow 100kg of potential safety to be wasted.  “No matter what people say, and I have been to Technical Working Group meetings where they have said ballast is no problem for safety, if you add that same weight into structures – whether it be within the suspension or the chassis – you will end up with a safer car.”

2/11/04

Shanghai construction photos  Photos courtesy of Tilke Engineering

2/11/04

Miami fencing to Sebring  To better protect the spectators, the Sebring Raceway has purchased three miles of additional debris fencing. That came from Miami, where the Grand Prix of the Americas was held.  Some of that will go up before the 12-Hour event, but the majority of it will go up after the event.

2/11/04

Brian France named most influential  2nd UPDATE We were questioned about the France Family tie to Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal. This is what we hear - Street & Smith's was originally American City Business Journals publishing, a small publicly traded company that produced a string of City Business newspapers. The Chairman was Ray Shaw, former president of Dow Jones and Company, publishers of the Wall Street Journal. We are not sure of the order of things but in 1993 The Shaw family through their conservative network of connections came into Stock Car racing by buying Winston Cup Scene from Griggs Publishing for $15 million. They later purchased On Track (for a tiny fraction of that) and finally went back to Griggs and bought Winston Cup Illustrated (for $1 mil + change).  Somewhere along the line they acquired, or were acquired, in a reverse merger with the venerable Street & Smiths Sports guide publishing company. On Track died a slow expensive death (1999 or 2000 we think) as they found everything but NASCAR hard work. They do pay some sort of license fee to NASCAR and Brian France makes sure all advertising and partnership dollars flow like water to them and few else. They call this "guided media".  Everything from here on out is just hearsay but ... legend has it that Ray Shaw (who we think may still be at the helm of Street & Smiths) has been a helping hand to the Frances in making the right power play connections on Wall Street and the Fortune 500 beyond their already formidable reach. Not surprisingly, rumors also abound that "Sports Business Journal" was/is backed by the Frances as way of positioning NASCAR above everything but the NFL and the Olympics.  Who knows if this is really true, though some tell us it is.   We are sure some will connect the dots and assume that "It is all part of a vast right wing conspiracy". We are not so sure, and just think it is a rare case of smart business thinking and transcendent ambition in a sport (auto racing as a whole) that has shown astounding stupidity in the past ten years.  2/10/04 - The oval track cartel is EXPOSED again.  No wonder Brian France was named the most influential person in motorsports (even over Bernie Ecclestone, can you believe that?), his family indirectly control the magazine!  2/10/04 - NASCAR Chairman Brian France has been named the most influential person in motorsports by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal. The magazine this week named France and his father, former NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr., to the top two spots on the list, which is dominated by NASCAR officials and others with close ties to the sport. Bruton Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc. took the third spot in the rankings, followed by Fox Sports Television Chairman David Hill and NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter

2/11/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Button Still Quick As Jerez Test Starts
Another Glitch In Baumgartner F1-Debut
Want to Buy Senna's First F1 Racer?
Death Still Knocks On F1's Door: Mosley
No Trust As Pantano Tests New Jordan
Imola To Fight For Formula One
Pizzonia Returns To Williams: Official
More Praise For New Ferrari F2004
Webber: Slash F1's Aerodynamics
Button To Share New BAR Car With 360
Pantano 'Certain' Of Jordan Ride
Honda Won't Pull The Plug: Sources
McNish Pulls Out Of Race For F1
Baumgartner Debuts Brand-New Minardi
Webber Pans New Points System In F1

2/10/04

Medeiros fastest in Phoenix Infiniti Pro practice, only 7 cars show up  Seven Menards Infiniti Pro Series drivers completed a total of 1,095 laps during testing Feb. 10 at the reconfigured Phoenix International Raceway. Thiago Medeiros posted the fastest lap of the day at 156.718 mph, 22.9712 seconds in the No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Rookie Jesse Mason was second fastest at 154.687 mph, 23.2728 seconds in the No. 3 Brian Stewart Racing Dallara/Infiniti Firestone, but his test ended early after he made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 4. There was significant damage to the right side of his car, but Mason was uninjured. Another rookie, Phil Giebler, was third quickest at 154.457 mph, 23.3074 seconds. Giebler, a former Red Bull Driving Search candidate, ran his first laps in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series in the No. 2 Keith Duesenburg Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.  Car count will be an issue for this series again.

2/10/04

Nextel announces NASCAR phones  Nextel today announced the availability of a NASCAR Nextel Cup series phone and ten driver phones. The eleven new handsets – which will share the Motorola i736 model name – are the first NASCAR-branded wireless phones.

 

Featured drivers include Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Michael Waltrip, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Jarrett and Kurt Busch (Nextel). Motor Music, a partnership between NASCAR and Cherry Lane Music Publishing, today announced the unveiling of NASCAR’s theme song, “Thunder.” It is the first branded theme music in the 56-year history of NASCAR.

2/10/04

Tracy says Champ Car must focus on more than rival IRL  This canada.com article says that CART is back on track for at least one more season, but defending champion Paul Tracy says the circuit can't just focus on staying ahead of the rival Indy Racing League in order to survive. Tracy was in town Tuesday to promote ticket sales for the Vancouver Molson Indy, which will be held July 23 to July 25. The Toronto native said CART can't afford to be narrow-minded. "We're not fighting against just the IRL in terms of sponsorship dollars," Tracy said during a news conference. "The series needs to look at this as a whole. We're in the entertainment business. We're fighting for sponsorship dollars, we're fighting for ratings against football, basketball and hockey. Extreme sports have become very popular. We just can't become narrow-minded and look at motor sports. We're out there to compete for the same dollars and the same ratings as everything that is on television." Holding races outside the United States in places like Canada, Mexico and Australia gives CART international prestige, said Tracy, who clinched the drivers crown with seven victories last season. "These races in Canada, Mexico and a few key races in the United States are what hold CART together," he said. "I think it's a new start. The people have spoken. They want CART to survive and prosper. That's what the future is." More.....

2/10/04
Industry News

Motorsports Consultants reveal new website  Motorsports Consulting Services is proud to announce the unveiling of our new website.  Designed to inform potential clients and interested parties about the services we specialize in and the people that make them happen.  Please take the time to review the site.  Martyn Thake, Motorsports Consulting Services

2/10/04

Interview with Paul Tracy - Molson Indy Vancouver Press Conference  
By Gerry Frechette
Q: Forsythe Team Sponsor for 2004
Tracy:  “I don’t know yet who my sponsor will be. As far as I know, they have something they are working on, but it isn’t all nailed down. We were all hopeful it would have been done by now. But Jerry Forsythe has lots of money, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the next month or so. Everything is going forward.”

Q:  How do you feel about the new OWRS point system?
Tracy:  “I think it’s good. What they are trying to promote is a closer Championship at the end of the season. It puts greater emphasis on keeping your car going in the race. Now, that will be crucial. It’ll be more like NASCAR, where you have to fix the problem and get back out on the track, so the fans have something to watch, even if the cars aren’t going full speed. It adds another dimension to the race.”

Q:  Possibility of standing starts.
Tracy:  “It doesn’t really matter to me. I’ve done them before. But you have to think of what happens if a car stalls on a street course start, and how you get it off the track in less than a minute. There is no point in having a full-course yellow and then going to a rolling start after that.” [Editor's Note: Standing starts should only be used where the starting straight is wide enough.  As for stalling, Cosworth is working on making it harder to accidentally stall, however, nothing can help spastic clutch and throttle feet.  That's all part of the challenge that the best drivers can handle.]

Q: Other series you would like to try?
Tracy:  “I’d still like to try NASCAR and Le Mans. I love driving Champ Cars, and the schedule and the cities we go to, and my only drawback with NASCAR is that the schedule is so long, I don’t think I could handle it. It would do me in.”

“We are in the entertainment business and fighting for sponsorship dollars and exposure like any other sport. Our new television package with Spike and CBS will be stronger than it has been the last couple of years.”

“It’s key for me to have the three races in Canada. They and the Mexican ones and a few others in the U.S. hold the Series together. I’m glad the judge made the right decision.”

“There’s a lot of good things happening with the Series now. There will be the announcement of a really key new race venue in another week or two which will inject a lot of new life into the Series.”

“I think things will be better run in the Series now. I don’t want to have a run-in with my boss! I believe in what they are trying to do. My goal is to try to help as much as I can and be an ambassador for the sport. But a little controversy generates interest too, like here in Vancouver last year. Sometimes you need that, and to not dumb everything down like the corporate approach of NASCAR.”

“My off-season has been easier than some other drivers who don’t yet have a contract, so that was a nice situation for me to be in. If CART wasn’t going to survive, I had the option to go do something else. As long as this series was happening, though, I intended to drive Champ Cars for this team.

2/10/04

Button tops charts again with BAR Honda  Jenson Button continued to impress with the new BAR-Honda 006 chassis, setting the fastest time on the first day of a five-day test at Jerez in Spain. It's possible the Michelin tires have made a big difference for the team. Button has been consistently near, or at, the top of the times since the launch of the rapid new BAR and his fastest lap of 1m17.708s today was not a one-lap qualifying run, although it was on low fuel. Teammate Takuma Sato confirmed the team's pace with third fastest, as he got more running in the new 006.
Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Jenson Button BAR-Honda M 1m17.708s 79*
2 Jarno Trulli Renault M 1m17.868s 62*
3 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m18.022s 81*
4 Luca Badoer Ferrari B 1m18.269s 84
5 Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m18.429s 67*
6 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m18.545s 20*
7 Franck Montagny Renault M 1m18.636s 87
8 Christian Klien Jaguar M 1m19.272s 83*
9 Giancarlo Fisichella Sauber-Petronas B 1m19.287s 73*
10 Felipe Massa Sauber Petronas 1m19.450s B 93*
11 Giorgio Pantano Jordan-Ford B 1m22.288s 35*
12 Nick Heidfeld Jordan-Ford B 1m22.963s 23*

2/10/04

Sierra Sierra announces 2-car assault  Sierra Sierra Enterprises announced their 2004 line-up today; 2003 race-winner and series runner-up Ryan Dalziel will return to drive the #28 ProWorks/Daily Record entry. He will be joined by series newcomer and 2003 Fran Am Champion, Andrew Ranger.  Sierra Sierra is entering their second full season in the Toyota Atlantic series, after finishing second in the championship last year and earning nine podium finishes in the 12 race series. Team owners Dennis and Diane Kottke commented on their driver line-up, “2003 was a year of learning and development for us and we believe in 2004 with Ryan and Andrew that Sierra Sierra clearly poses a very serious threat both to the Championship and the Rookie of the Year title.”

Dalziel, 21 from Glasgow, Scotland joined Sierra Sierra last year and had an extraordinary sophomore season in Atlantics. He earned two pole-to-flag victories and nine podium finishes en-route to his second place finish in the 2003 championship. A 10x karting champion, the amiable Scot came to America from the British F3 series where he drove for the Prost F1 Junior Team and recorded 17 top-ten finishes. Dalziel earned his first Atlantic victory early last season at the Milwaukee Mile, dominating throughout the event despite it being just his second race ever on an oval. Accomplished at all of Atlantic’s disciplines, he is a favorite for the 2004 Atlantic title. “My thanks go to Dennis and Diane Kottke for bringing me back this year. They have assembled an outstanding team with whom I have a great relationship. We have the fastest and most reliable cars in the paddock and my intentions are to take our results one step further this year and win the championship,” said Dalziel. “It is an exciting time for Toyota Atlantics, running under the OWRS umbrella and I am proud to be part of it. I plan to drive Champ Cars in the future and it gives me great confidence knowing that I am getting the best preparation possible in and out of the car driving for the best team in the competitive Atlantic series.”

Andrew Ranger 17, from Roxton Pond, Quebec made the transition from karts to cars last year while competing in the Fran Am 2000 series. Ranger’s transition was flawless. He dominated the series championship with four pole positions, five victories and nine podium finishes. The former Canadian karting champion began racing just four years ago at the age of 13 and became the first Canadian to win the FIA/CK Viking trophy in Denmark in 2002.
Ranger commented on his step up the Champ Car ladder, “I am really proud to make the step up to Atlantic, particularly with a leading team like Sierra Sierra. I am especially motivated coming off of the exceptional season I had last year. I had a two-day test with Sierra Sierra and after working with David Empringham and their engineers, I knew it would be the best opportunity for me to develop my ability and fight for the Rookie of the Year title. I have a fantastic company backing me which we will be announcing soon, it is going to be an exciting season.”

Sierra Sierra recently completed their first test of the season with Dalziel and Ranger.   Manager of Driver Development and two-time Toyota Atlantic Champion David Empringham left the test very confident for the upcoming 2004 season, “I am excited to have two gifted drivers to work with this year. We have the perfect environment to attack the 2004 Championship. I feel fortunate to be working with Ryan again and now to have Andrew on board gives us so much added strength. It’s hard to believe this 17 year-old (Ranger) has only one season of experience racing cars,” exclaimed Empringham.

Based in Northern Nevada, Sierra Sierra Enterprises is led by championship winning team manager Richard Raeder. The team has a rigorous test schedule planned in preparation for the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship, which kicks off at the 30th running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. For more information, photos and statistics please visit www.sierrasierra.com or call (775) 783-1900.

2/10/04

Economy hits NASCAR too  UPDATE  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, We all hear about the lack of cars in Champ Car and the IRL. Why is it the press isn't really getting on the lack of cars at Daytona?  I know you mentioned it, but let's look beyond Daytona. Look at the 45 cars entered in the 500. We know Shelmerdine and Hillenburg are not going anywhere after Daytona which leaves 43 teams. The last time I checked, the 14 (Foyt) didn't have enough $$$ to go very far. What about the 50 (Cope) and the 09 (Benson)? The 7 (Spencer) isn't going on, and the 33 (Skinner) is a part time ride too. Isn't the 23 (Blaney) part time also? I even thought the 1 (Andretti) was part time, but maybe funding was secured for most of the season now. Let's not forget the 44 (Fittipaldi) and Roush's 99 (Burton). I thought that deal was a partial season too. What are we down to, 35 full time teams in NASCAR? Is it not conceivable that NASCAR is going to have trouble fielding 43 cars all year? Doesn't their TV contract have a minimum car count like CART did last year? Leads to a bigger question. Is the France family going to have to pull a page out of the Grandson's book and start funding teams to fill the field? Chad Larimer, Rochester MN  2/10/04 - This St. Petersburg Times article says, Apparently the Daytona 500, the signature event of NASCAR's Nextel Cup season, is not immune from the economic woes that have put some teams out of business and threatened others. The race once drew as many as 60 teams, but just 45 cars will attempt to make the 43-car field in Thursday's twin 125-mile qualifiers. ARCA regulars Kirk Shelmerdine and Andy Hillenburg, who were 44th and 45th in average qualifying speed on Sunday, fill out the field of NASCAR regulars and semi-regulars. It's a risk worth taking if a team can secure financing. Last place in the Daytona 500 pays $177,000.

2/10/04

Williams names Pizzonia as official test driver  The BMW WilliamsF1 Team today confirmed that Antonio Pizzonia (BR) has been retained as an official test driver and will undertake testing duties for the team in 2004.  The twenty-three year old driver from Manaus, in the Brazilian Amazon, performed testing duties for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team during the 2002 season.  His competence as a test driver for the team in 2002 earned him a race seat for the following season, but for 2004 he returns to a crucial testing role to assist with the development and progression of the WilliamsF1 BMW FW26.  On the announcement of his appointment, Antonio said, “It feels great to be back working with everyone at the BMW WilliamsF1 Team. My long term future in Formula One is as a race driver, but my aim for this year is to do everything I can as a test driver to help the team win the World Championship.”

2/10/04

Baumgartner suffers $$$ blow  This Grandprix.com article says, The Hungarian Sports Ministry has cancelled a deal worth $4m, knocking a big hole in the Hungarian driver's budget for 2004. The government has tried to offset the problem a little with a promotional deal from the Hungaroring worth $290,000. Baumgartner says that the problem will not affect his drive with Minardi as the payment schedule will be restructured. Baumgartner still has another $5m for the drive. The deal was cancelled - ostensibly by the government and Baumgartner because of adverse public opinion as it is thought more important that the state improve the situation with housing and other social issues.

2/10/04

Imola refuses to give up easily  This Grandprix.com article says, The mayor of Imola Massimo Marchignoli says that it is not certain that the San Marino Grand Prix will be removed from the Formula 1 calendar in 2005 and says that he intends to negotiate to save the race with Formula One group boss Bernie Ecclestone. Ecclestone recently said that after this year's event the race would no longer happen.

Marchignoli has been mayor of Imola since 1999 but his efforts to secure funding from regional and national bodies have not been successful despite support for his efforts from the Automobile Club of Italy as the local authority and SAGIS, the company which owns the track, cannot raise the money needed to do the safety work needed to keep the Grand Prix.

Imola has been on the F1 calendar since 1980 but with increasing legislation in Europe and Imola's inability to raise the cash needed, the race has become a victim as non-European races bid for dates in 2005 and beyond. If The Italians can come up with money to do the work and pay as much as the non-European events it is possible that Imola might survive but that does not look very likely to happen in the current economic climate.

2/10/04

Bahrain GP Experience sold out  The first Grand Prix ever to be held in the Middle East is creating a real buzz of excitement in the Gulf region and today the race organizers are able to announce that subscriptions for one of the specialist packages, the "Bahrain Experience," are now sold out.

Race fans shouldn't be alarmed though. There are still tickets available for the historic event on 04.04.04.

As the date for the race draws nearer the interest of race fans and enthusiastic supporters of Grand Prix racing is increasing dramatically. More and more people are waking-up to the fact that World Champion Michael Schumacher and his 19 fellow racers will be arriving in the Middle East in less than two months.

The FIA Formula One World Championship begins its 18-race program in Melbourne, Australia on March 7th followed two weeks later by the Malaysian Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur. But it is the third race on the championship calendar that has everybody's pulse racing. The Formula One circus will be arriving in Bahrain shortly after the Malaysian Grand Prix and over the two week period prior to the race the Kingdom and the city of Manama will come alive to the sights and sounds of the fastest sporting show on earth.

Practice for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix starts on Friday morning with further on-track activity throughout the day and during Saturday. The inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix starts at 14:30 on Sunday 04.04.04 and will be the culmination of years of planning by a great number of people in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Tickets for the race are still available through the Grand Prix Ticket Hot Line on +973 406 222 and there are Grandstand seats and packages available to fit all sizes and budgets. Gulf Air are laying on extra flights around the time of the race and information is available from the airlines offices worldwide and throughout the region.

Contact the Hot Line now to reserve your seat for the greatest sporting spectacle ever to hit the Middle East.

2/10/04
Industry News

ISC Rewards Program  Fans can now gain access to celebrate in Victory Lane through a newly announced rewards program! Race fans visiting International Speedway Corporation-owned motorsports facilities can turn purchases into ticket and merchandise savings, behind the scenes track tours and other exclusive race experiences.

The International Speedway Race Rewards* Visa® allows cardholders to earn two percent back in the form of LAPS™ for every dollar spent on qualified Race Rewards purchases with the card. Qualified facilities include Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Michigan International Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, California Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, North Carolina Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Watkins Glen International and Nazareth Speedway.

"This rewards program is an easy way for fans to get behind the scenes where not many other people get to go," said ISC Vice President of Sales and Marketing Paul Phipps. "We're excited to offer this unique and exclusive opportunity to our fans."

Fans can earn 2 LAPS™ for every dollar spent on qualified purchases and 1 LAP™ for every dollar spent anywhere Visa credit cards are accepted. Use LAPS™ toward the purchase of tickets and merchandise or save LAPS™ to earn access to special race experiences like celebrating in Victory Lane or going behind the scenes on a VIP tour.

Lincoln, Nebraska-based World's Foremost, the fastest growing bank in Nebraska, will serve as the credit-card issuer, providing co-branded Visa cards to customers and clients.

For more information on this unique program, call 1-800-843-5940.

2/10/04
Industry News

Indy Speedway buys land for parking  This Indy Star article says, The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is buying and clearing 16 acres across 16th Street to make room for more parking for race days.  Crews are demolishing the Classic Motor Inn and will begin soon on the American Art and Clay Co. factory.  Motor Speedway executives said the demolished buildings would be replaced with parking lots for cars and recreational vehicles. Some of the space near the main gate area will be used for food and racing merchandise vendors.  The land is expected to be resurfaced in time for the May activities surrounding the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on May 30.  The executives would not give specifics on long-range plans for the land.  The new parking areas will be second in size outside the track to the "Coke lot," or IMS Lot 1, on 30 acres northwest of 25th Street and Georgetown.  "The idea is just to add some conveniences for our fans," said IMS Senior Vice President Mel Harder. "We'll improve the walks, the entry and traffic flows.  "We think we'll be good neighbors and everyone will be happy with the results in the end."

2/10/04

More live races for Grand-Am  Grand American Road Racing Association announced its SPEED Channel broadcast dates for the remainder of 2004 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup Series, with the number of live Rolex Series events increased to eight this season. SPEED Channel kicked off its coverage of the 2004 Rolex Series with a 15.5-hour live broadcast of the Rolex 24 At Daytona earlier this month and will follow it up with seven additional live races and four tape-delayed events. Round two of the Rolex Series will be the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway. SPEED Channel will air the race on a tape delay, Sunday, March 7 at 4 p.m. ET. SPEED Channel's live coverage of the Rolex Series will pick back up with the Phoenix 250, Saturday, April 10 at 9 p.m. ET, and continue with the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant on Sunday, May 23 at 11 a.m. ET.  All broadcast times and dates are subject to change, and the latest schedule of events can be found online at www.grandamerican.com or www.speedtv.com

2/10/04

Canadian Infiniti Pro Series driver loses sponsor and ride  Jonathan Urlin would rather be hitting the pavement, instead of hitting the books for a symbolic logic exam tomorrow at Western. But the "dirty, dark part of motorsports" has parked the talented 21-year-old racer from London this season. With no sponsorship money available from Budget-Rent-A-Car Canada, Urlin will spend his track time teaching at racing schools and chasing new sponsors for next year. Urlin was a rookie in the Indy Racing League's Infiniti Pro development series last year, but with Budget filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. last summer, that put the brakes to Budget Canada's sports sponsorship. He hopes to return to the Infiniti series next year. "You can't really put it into words. It's horrible," Urlin said yesterday, taking a break from playing in a two-on-two outdoors hockey tournament. "This is the longest stretch I've gone in motorsports without competing since I was eight years old." It takes $1 million to do the Infiniti series properly. The cars cost $115,000 US. Urlin was racing on a shoestring budget of about half that. "No teams are prepared to take anybody on where the driver has no money," he said. "It's not like hockey where if you have the right talent, the right motivation and the right attitude you go. "With racing, you have to have the skill, the motivation, the attitude -- and the money. You have hundreds of drivers out there perfectly capable of being at the top of motorsports, but they don't have the money to let that path grow. It's the dirty, dark part of motorsports, but that's just the way it goes. You can't beat it."  More....

2/10/04

Gentilozzi speaks  This Motorsport Forum article says, Jaguar is spending a ton of money in the North American market to link its brand to sports car racing. In 2003 the company supported six XKR Trans-Am race cars along with an X-TYPE safety car.

Whether or not they follow Gentilozzi into the Champ Car World Series remains to be seen. But Gentilozzi is upbeat about the future of North American open wheel racing and plans to continue the variety of racing venues that characterized the 25-year-old CART series.

"We would like to do ovals," Gentilozzi said. "We're going to do Milwaukee and would like to do one more in the U.S. But we don't own a lot of oval tracks and a lot of independents don't own them. So we may do ovals in other parts of the world."

There are no further legal concerns regarding the purchase of CART's assets. "It's a done deal," Gentilozzi said. "The headquarters will stay in Indianapolis."

According to Gentilozzi the only deal not finalized for the 2004 schedule is Portland and he predicted they would have a deal done by the end of the week.

St. Petersburg Florida will be back on the schedule May 16, which is a qualifying day at Indianapolis and the date assigned to Las Vegas on the original CART schedule.

For now there is no chance for reconciliation with the Indy Racing League. "That's not even a topic for discussion," Gentilozzi said.

He predicted at least 18 cars will participate and that everyone would have a sponsor, but they will run their 2003 paint schemes until all are revealed at the same time during a press conference the first week of March.

There is a possibility that more than 18 cars will race. "Yes, we've had a lot of guys come out of the woodwork now that they know we are alive," said Gentilozzi.

Multiple racing series will highlight events and a new production based touring-car-type series is being discussed. "Our support base will be, from the beginning, Champ Car, Trans-Am, Toyota Atlantics, and another open wheel foundation series," Gentilozzi said. "We are trying to do a production based tin-top production car deal."

The rock and roll/Champ Car connection will not get started until at least June. "The concept worked," Gentilozzi said. "But we know now we are not concert promoters. We know now how much you really have to pay up front. So we learned a lot."

It took a lot of money to keep CART running during 2003, but Gentilozzi said they were fine as far a 2004 budget.

When asked if he was going to be funding any of the teams Gentilozzi replied, "Just my own."

Gentilozzi left the Chicago Auto Show bound for New York to finalize details for the 2004 Champ Car World Series television schedule.

2/10/04

Toyota owner fires back  According to this Indy Star article, Fox broadcaster Larry McReynolds wasn't anticipating the negative backlash that came with his move into an ownership role with Toyota's first-year NASCAR truck series program.  His computer lit up with e-mails from fans questioning why a true-blue American and former crew chief for Dale Earnhardt would want to get mixed up with a Japanese manufacturer.  "But if you walked into their homes," McReynolds said of his detractors, "they've probably got Mitsubishi TVs sitting there." [Editor's Note: That is probably because there are no TV sets still made in the USA for them to buy.]

2/10/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Barrichello Sets Record In New Ferrari
Pantano Eyes Jordan Victory
Jordan Zip-Up New Agreements
Fans In For Sterling Season: Williams
Trulli Completes Half-Marathon
Raikkonen Plays Down Ferrari Link
Webber: Who Knows What Ford Will Do?
Finn Confused By Privateers' Plight 

Ferrari Aren't Falling Apart: Rival Chief
Now 'Iceman' Slams Ferrari Team-Orders
Webber Geared-Up For Home Grand Prix
Rubens Admits 'Gap' To Michelin Rivals

2/10/04

Casite Company to be associate sponsor for BAM  The Casite Company announced today that their 2004 Associate Sponsorship of NASCAR’s BAM Racing, Dodge car #49 car, will kick-off at the Daytona 500 in Florida on February 15.  “We are thrilled to sponsor and partner with BAM Racing, NASCAR’s only female-owned race team, for the 2004 season. We feel the determination of Beth Ann – coupled with the experience of Kenny Schrader – makes BAM the perfect fit for our company,” said J. John Antakli, president of Casite.   Casite has been supplying the racing and automotive industries with quality aftermarket automotive chemicals since 1922. And while Casite is not new to sponsoring racing, this will be their first national sponsorship at this level. "We are very happy to have The Casite Company, with their great line of quality automotive products, join us for the 2004 season and, hopefully, many years beyond that," said Beth Ann Morgenthau, owner of BAM Racing. "They are really starting our relationship with a bang, and we are very excited to welcome them on board," she added.  Casite will also participate in the following Nextel Cup NASCAR races with BAM: Food City 500 in Bristol, TN on March 28; Coca-Cola 600 in Concord, NC on May 30; Michigan 400 at MIS, MI on June 20; Brickyard 400 at Indy on August 8; EA Sports 500 at Talladega on October 3; and one other yet to be determined race. For the past two years, Casite has sponsored the Casite Classic at Flat Rock Speedway and recently concluded their 2003 ARCA Street Stock race sponsorship at Flat Rock. “We really enjoy supporting racing and providing quality family entertainment to race enthusiasts. We are confident that NASCAR’s fans will embrace our high quality products as quickly as the drivers and fans at Flat Rock and even BAM’s own shop manager did,” Antakli added.

2/10/04

Arie Jr. stays in Infiniti Pro Series  Arie Luyendyk Jr., the 2003 IRL Crew "Most Popular Driver Award" winner for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, will return to that series in 2004 driving the #5 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

Arie Jr.'s plan of running in the IRL IndyCar Series is still a primary goal for 2004, and ongoing efforts continue to be made for a full or partial season program. While partnerships are being put into place, the opportunity to continue to race in the Infiniti Pro Series became available through the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team.

"I am really happy to have the opportunity to race for Sam this year," Arie Jr. said as he prepares for the Infiniti Pro Series Open Test in Phoenix. "I know he's got good equipment, good personnel and an all-around good team, so I should be able to do very well there and hopefully win a race or two. Of course, we are still working on an IndyCar Series program for this year, and hope to have something in place soon. But I need to be in a race car as much as possible, and this ride is giving me the opportunity to do that and stay sharp as the 2004 season starts. I want to thank Sam for this ride - I hope I can reward him by landing in Victory Circle."

Sam Schmidt is happy to add Arie Jr. to his team and lineup of drivers, which includes Arie Jr.'s good friend, on-track rival and 2003 Texas winner, Thiago Medeiros.

"Arie Luyendyk Sr. and I were teammates on Fred Treadway's IndyCar team in '99 at Indy, and I still have that in my memory as one of my absolute best experiences as an IndyCar Series driver," related Schmidt. "He was a phenomenal teammate. Either one of us should have won (the Indy 500) in that year. So to be able to put this deal together to run Arie Jr. is great for everybody. I'm pleased to be running Junior. I think he has a great personality and I think he's got a lot of talent - hopefully our team can help show that."

The IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series kicks off its 2004 season February 29th at the Homestead-Miami Speedway with the "Homestead-Miami 100." ESPN2 will replay highlights from this event March 4 from 4:00-4:30 p.m. ET.

2/9/04

IRL Teams prepare for final pre-season test  The Indy Racing League will wrap up its spring training two days before pitchers and catchers report to open the first Major League Baseball camp. Spring cannot be far off.   IRL IndyCar Series® teams and drivers have a buffet line of items to address at Phoenix International Raceway on Feb. 11-12 in the final tests before the season opener – the Toyota Indy 300 – on Feb. 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Because the IRL has a limited number of testing dates this year, efficiency is important for teams.  More.....

2/9/04

Tickets going fast in Bahrain  The first Grand Prix ever to be held in the Middle East is creating a real buzz of excitement in the Gulf region and today the race organizers are able to announce that subscriptions for one of the specialist packages, the "Bahrain Experience", are now sold out.

Race fans shouldn’t be alarmed though. There are still tickets available for the historic event on 04.04.04.

As the date for the race draws nearer the interest of race fans and enthusiastic supporters of Grand Prix racing is increasing dramatically. More and more people are waking-up to the fact that World Champion Michael Schumacher and his 19 fellow racers will be arriving in the Middle East in less than two months.

The FIA Formula One World Championship begins its 18-race program in Melbourne, Australia on March 7th followed two weeks later by the Malaysian Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur. But it is the third race on the championship calendar that has everybody’s pulse racing. The Formula One circus will be arriving in Bahrain shortly after the Malaysian Grand Prix and over the two week period prior to the race the Kingdom and the city of Manama will come alive to the sights and sounds of the fastest sporting show on earth.

Practice for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix starts on Friday morning with further on-track activity throughout the day and during Saturday. The inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix starts at 14:30 on Sunday 04.04.04 and will be the culmination of years of planning by a great number of people in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Tickets for the race are still available through the Grand Prix Ticket Hot Line on +973 406 222 and there are Grandstand seats and packages available to fit all sizes and budgets. Gulf Air are laying on extra flights around the time of the race and information is available from the airlines offices worldwide and throughout the region.  Contact the Hot Line now to reserve your seat for the greatest sporting spectacle ever to hit the Middle East.  Press Release

2/9/04

Gryphon now owns 6% of CART  According to this SEC Form 13G received today, but filed December 31st, 2003, Gryphon Master Fund, L.P., registered in Bermuda, now owns 884,000 shares, or 6% of CART.  Who is hiding behind this offshore company?

2/9/04
Formula BMW

Formula BMW announces six USA scholarships  BMW of North America, LLC proudly announces the six $40,000 Formula BMW USA scholarship winners for the inaugural 2004 Formula BMW USA race series. The winners are Trevor Daley (17), Billy Johnson (17, not pictured), Graham Rahal (14, not pictured), James Hinchcliffe (17), Tom Milner (17) and Jonathan Summerton (15). A total of 23 participants, most with karting experience, were invited from North, Central and South America to take part in an intensive licensing program and competition administered by BMW Motorsport. Held at the "Circuit de la Communitat" from January 8-10, 2004 in Valencia, Spain, home to the Formula BMW Racing Center, the participants varied in age from 15 to 23.

Trevor Daley James Hinchcliffe Tom Milner Jonathan Summerton

The course consisted of both classroom theory and on-track exercises to introduce the young drivers to the sleek, 140-horsepower, 1000-pound Formula BMW FB2. While quickest lap times were certainly a major component of the total score, the final day's judging took into account car control, age and improvement shown during the program. All of the participants earned an International C competition license.

"If the talent and passion of these first Formula BMW USA participants is any indication of what we will see when our season begins, then I believe the future of Formula BMW USA is looking very bright," said Alex Schmuck, Formula BMW USA Motorsports Manager. "The first cars have arrived in the United States and we expect to release a schedule soon", he added.

Announced at the United States Grand Prix last September, Formula BMW USA Joins the new UK series and the established championships in Germany and Asia, making Formula BMW a true international formula for the aspiring open-wheel driver.  [Editor's Note: Formula BMW will run in conjunction with Champ Car in 2004]

2/9/04

Former Motorock Trans-Am competitor, Roy Woods, dies  Roy Woods, a competitor and team owner in the Motorock Trans-Am Tour from 1969-1982, died Jan. 29 due to complications from leukemia.  Woods is well known for his success as a team owner. In 1972, George Follmer, driving for Woods’ American Racing Associates team in an AMC Javelin, earned the second official Trans-Am Drivers’ Championship. Prior to 1971, SCCA only officially awarded a Manufacturers’ Championship. Woods also fielded Trans-Am cars for Tony Adamowicz, Gary Belcher, Vic Elford, Jimmy Insolo, Milt Minter, Brian Redman, Peter Revson, and Dick Trickle.  As a driver, Woods made 45 starts, recording two victories—at Watkins Glen International in 1979 and at Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières in 1979. Woods also recorded 10 podiums, 17 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes, and three poles.  “We are saddened to see the passing of a Trans-Am legend,” said Motorock Trans-Am Tour Executive Director John Clagett. “Roy Woods had a long history of excellence in Trans-Am competition, both behind the wheel and as a team owner. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

2/9/04

Bridgestone/Firestone designates spokesperson  The smells and sounds of the race track are common themes to any race fan’s experience, but the experiences offered by the Champ Car Pace Car program are anything but common. No one knows that more than 17-year veteran driver Trish Hessinger, who puts smiles on the faces of thousands of fans each race weekend as the senior member of the all-female Champ Car Pace Car team.   Recognized as the first woman to pilot a Champ Car World Series Pace Car, Hessinger was recently called upon by series backer Bridgestone/Firestone to represent its Retail & Commercial Operations (BFRC) division as the company’s new national spokesperson on Car Care. As part of the deal, Hessinger will conduct free Car Care Academies and interactive seminars held at Firestone Tire & Service Centers and Tires Plus stores across the United States.   Bridgestone joined the Champ Car World Series as the Official Tire in 2002 and increased its position to Presenting Sponsor of the series in 2003.  “Hessinger has been teaching people the fundamentals of caring for their vehicle for over 15 years,” said BFRC Director of Public Relations Victoria Condell. “She has hosted numerous car care shows on television, and her expertise is unmatched. We are thrilled to have her as a part of our team.”   Hessinger, a native of Allentown, Penn., has gained national acclaim as a leading authority on automotive issues. As host of three successful national automotive cable television programs, a nationally televised “build a kit car” workshop and numerous training videos, Trisha has also appeared as an authoritative guest on nationally aired morning shows, most notably CBS’s popular “Early Show.”   Hessinger has been a key presenter and facilitator for automotive industry new product launches, a keynote and guest speaker for major auto manufacturers and a contributing writer for various magazines and newspapers on automotive subjects. In addition, she has competed in open wheel and showroom stock car races and is a celebrity race trainer and driving instructor.

2/9/04
IROC

Oval Track Cartel run IROC shuns Paul Tracy  UPDATE  We brought this issue up several weeks ago and now Robin Miller supports it with this SPEED TV article which talks about Paul Tracy being miffed at the obvious snub by the oval track cartel.  1/28/04 - The IROC Series is another version of NASCAR with different bodies.  It is controlled by the Oval Track Cartel.  There have been zero CART drivers in the series for 2 years and again in 2004, not even an invite to series champion Paul Tracy.  Yet, Scott Sharp, who isn't fit to tie Tracy's bootstraps, gets invited.  We hear Paul is livid over the situation.  We here at AutoRacing1.com have said for a long time that the Road Racing Cartel must start their own IROC series and invite drivers from around the world and make it a true "international" race of champions instead of the farce that IROC has become.  They need to change the name to AROC - American Race of Oval Champions

2/9/04

Ferrari completes final test day at Mugello  Today was the third and last day of testing for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro at the Mugello circuit. Once again today Rubens Barrichello took to the track, to continue development of the F2004.   In total, Barrichello completed 74 laps (9 on the short version of the track) with a best time of 1’18”704.  Development testing of the F2004 will continue tomorrow at the Fiorano circuit, with Michael Schumacher driving.

2/9/04

Brabham joins Saleen's ALMS Sebring assault  David Brabham has landed a plum GTS class ride for next month's Sebring 12 Hours, having signed to partner Johnny Mowlem and Terry Borcheller in the ACEMCO Saleen S7R. The Australian completes a three-man line-up in Jeff Giangrande's team, as Saleen attempts to end the Ferrari and Corvette domination of the GTS class on its return to ALMS competition. The car will run on Pirelli tires, as the Italian brand attempts to vault back into the sportscar limelight with victory in one of the great endurance races.

2/9/04

Jordan signs partnership deal with Scientio Jordan Grand Prix has signed up Scientio Inc., an artificial intelligence and data mining specialist, to assist the team in various problem-solving projects. Scientio specializes in software which will be used to analyze Jordan’s technical data in various ways and assist in understanding links and patterns between data sets. The artificial intelligence technology employed can be applied with good effect to many areas of the team’s work - from pit stop strategies to aerodynamic data and in the future Jordan may use Scientio technology for optimizing mechanical designs and to improve simulation driver models. The company’s technology includes: data mining techniques, fuzzy logic, genetic algorithms and software which learns optimum solutions to problems. James Key, Jordan’s Head of Vehicle Science, said, "We welcome Scientio and its technology to Jordan and look forward to a prolific future partnership. There is a vast amount of data surrounding a Formula One car, most of which can be linked in some way. We believe Scientio’s expertise will prove extremely useful in assisting us with pulling this data together and understanding the car as a whole. We have already identified many projects with which Scientio’s assistance will be fundamental. The first project to be undertaken concerns an important area of performance which over time should reap some very interesting results." Dr. Andy Edmonds, technical director, of Scientio, said, “We’re delighted to be working with Jordan; they have a refreshing and open attitude to technology. They’ve given us a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the benefits and performance of our products in one of the most challenging environments.”

2/9/04

Jordan signs supplier  Jordan Grand Prix has signed an agreement with TMA, a strategic marketing agency, for the provision of design services. "Jordan enjoys a unique positioning within the F1 paddock as the team with a bit of fun and personality. 2004 will see the rejuvenation of Jordan Grand Prix, and a strengthening of this brand positioning. TMA, with their experience of working with major global brands, will be instrumental in helping us to achieve this," said Mike Hall-Taylor, Head of Marketing and Brand, Jordan Grand Prix. Ian Shortman, MD of TMA, said, "TMA will provide Jordan with a range of design services, including press, sponsorship and fan club collateral for the 2004 season. In return, we look forward to adding an exciting new name to our client portfolio - and receiving certain partnership benefits, which will enhance our credentials when marketing TMA to new and existing clients."

2/9/04
Industry News

India ratifies ant-tobacco treaty  [Editor's Note: Will Bernie now cut off all talks of a F1 race with India?]  According to this Grandprix.com article, India has become the eighth country to ratify the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.  Ratification is the second stage of the process which will bring the global anti-tobacco treaty into force and stamp out tobacco sponsorship across the globe. The convention will become international law 90 days after the 40th country ratifies the agreement.  At the moment only Norway, Malta, Fiji, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, New Zealand, Mongolia and India have ratified the treaty but India's signature is nonetheless another major step forward in the gradual process by which tobacco is being restricted. Countries which have ratified the agreement undertake to stop all tobacco sponsorship in sport, including cross-border advertising and to require the tobacco industry to fully disclose all of its expenditure on tobacco advertising.

2/9/04
F3000

First Turkish F3000 driver ever  Can Artam – the 22-year-old Turkish driver – has signed with top FIA International Formula 3000 team Coloni Motorsport for the 2004 season. “I am thrilled to be participating in this championship with Coloni Motorsport,’’ Can said. “We have been considering various options during the last few months – EuroF3, British F3, Euro3000 and FIA International Formula 3000 – but Coloni Motorsport turned out the be the best option to further develop my career. The team’s results in the past few years – Coloni finished second in 2003 scoring two wins with Sperafico – and their approach to racing was the most attractive proposition.” Can (pronounced Djan) has collected a number of notable “firsts” since he started racing in 1999 – First Turkish driver to win a race in the USA; first Turkish driver to win an International FIA race; first Turkish driver to race in British F3 and Euro Formula Renault V6 and now first Turkish driver to race in the FIA International Formula 3000 Championship. Coloni Motorsports’ owner Paolo Coloni, said: “With the Turkish Grand Prix programmed in 2005 we are excited to have signed Can Artam with our team. I came across Can last year when we were competing in the winter series in the USA in early 2003 and when we heard he was coming to race in Europe we got in touch and it only took few weeks for him to sign with us. We are now completing our line up and will be able to make an official announcement about our other drivers in the next few days.” Can, who is currently racing in the Formula Renault Winter Series in Florida, will travel directly to Jerez for the first official testing session on February 17th and 18th. “I am looking to 2004 as a learning season. It will be a new team, a new car and with the exception of Spa where I raced with the Euro Formula Renault V6 last August, new tracks for me. I want to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible and get ready for the season and hopefully bring some good results for the team and for my country.” “I want to be well prepared for the 2005 GP2 series when my ultimate aim is to become the first Turkish driver to race on my hometown Formula One track.”

2/9/04

Morgan team heads to Sebring  Buoyant from a milestone performance at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit last November, the MorganWorks Race Team is preparing to take its highly popular campaign to the USA in March, where it will compete in the American Le Mans Series 12 hour endurance race at Sebring in Florida. Works lead driver Adam Sharpe, the 19 year-old GT star who recently joined the Morgan squad in Los Angeles to launch the USA Aero 8 road car, heads a driver line-up that also includes his regular team mate and mentor Neil Cunningham. The duo, who finished a superb debut Morgan season in the British GT Championship with a stunning win at Brands Hatch, are joined by Keith Ahlers, who impressed many with a strong 3rd place in the same Championship and a solid performance in the recent Bathurst 24 hour race. Adam Sharpe comments: “The Aero 8 is a superb car to race and our introduction to the highest levels of GT racing last season demonstrated our potential and pinpointed the areas we need to develop” – adding, with a characteristic grin, “and we know how much more there is to come!” A challenging 2003 season for the official MorganWorks team ended with an encouraging 8th in a very strong class of 17 in the 1000km Bugatti Circuit race, signaling to the GT racing world that the legendary independent manufacturer is determined to prove it is a credible contender for major honors. Team Manager David Dowse comments: “A good performance at Sebring will underline our case for an entry at Le Mans this year and will give many thousands of American Morgan supporters and potential sponsors a chance to see the team in action. We are continuing our quest for additional backing from trade and commercial partners. Our attendance at Sebring typifies the additional exposure and value we aim to bring sponsors who associate with the Morgan brand.“

2/9/04
IROC

Castroneves hits Daytona wall  Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves hit the wall during International Race of Champions series practice Sunday morning (race is this Friday). He was limping slightly after being helped from his car but was treated and released from the track medical center.

2/9/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Jaguar Needs Stewart: Former Champion
Panis Feels Good Despite Big Crash
New Ferrari Is 'Better': Barrichello
Webber: New Jag Is Up To Scratch
Hakkinen Pans So-Called F1 Chargers
Briton Unlikely To Land Jordan Ride
Kimi Worried About New McLaren
Malaysia Expect More Spectators
Drivers Praise New Williams Racer
Hakkinen Slams Ferrari 'Team Orders'
Alonso: New Car Faster Than Old
Pizzonia On Top As Test Winds-Up
F1 Stars With A Lot To Prove: Mika
Piquet Pleased With Second F1 Test
Webber Doubts BAR's Test-Pace
Disappointed To Have Lost BAR: Suganuma

2/8/04

Daytona track worker killed by 100 MPH car  According to this AP story, A worker at Daytona International Speedway was struck and killed by a paraplegic driver going more than 100 mph during a race for compact cars Sunday.   The worker, 44-year-old Roy H. Weaver III, was standing in the middle of the track picking up debris during a caution period when he was hit by a car driven by Ray Paprota of Birmingham, Ala., track spokesman David Talley said.  Paprota, who doesn't have use of his legs and drives a car equipped with hand controls, was trying to catch up the main pack of cars after a two-car crash at the opposite end of the track brought out a yellow flag. Weaver was struck in turn two on the 2 1/2 -mile trioval.  ``The worker was standing right in the middle of the track when he hit him,'' said Jeff Tillman, who was behind Paprota when the accident occurred. ``It flipped him over the car.''   Several drivers said Weaver's body already was covered by a tarp as they continued to circle the track under a yellow flag. Eventually, the IPOWERacing 150 was red-flagged for about 1 1/2 hours, finally running to the finish under the lights after police investigated the scene and took pictures of Paprota's car in the garage.  Paprota was loaded into a wheelchair-accessible van and left the track without discussing the accident with reporters.  ``I'm sorry,'' he said. ``I can't say anything.''

2/8/04

Malaysia expecting bigger turnout  The Sepang International Circuit (SIC) are expecting a bigger turnout for the Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit from March 19-21.  With a comprehensive promotional program, SIC hope to encourage the local motorsports fraternity to come in droves to support the world’s biggest and hottest race.  The SIC are forecasting a 25% increase from last year in ticket sales from the 120,000 fans targeted for the event.   “We are expecting about 120,000 fans this year and I believe the target can be achieved,” said SIC general manager Ahmad Mustafa yesterday.   He said that with Maybank and Perodua joining in the promotion of ticket sales, there was every reason to be optimistic of reaching the target.   Perodua had initiated a scheme for F1 ticket buyers by offering a RM56,000 Perodua Kembara as the top prize for its Formula Kembara contest while Maybank offers its credit card holders a zero interest installment plan with a choice of six or 12 months, for purchases of RM500 and above of F1 tickets.   “Ticket buyers should take full advantage of Maybank's easy payment scheme to purchase the tickets or participate in the Formula Kembara contest,” said Ahmad at the official launch of the Formula Kembara contest yesterday.   The SIC are also offering a 50% discount for students when they produce their student ID cards when purchasing tickets. – Bernama

2/8/04
Industry News

Petroleum Museum to open Jim Hall Chaparral wing  The Chaparral Gallery at The Petroleum Museum draws closer to its grand opening set for April 15-17, 2004. Construction crews are beginning to install 10,000 square feet of rough face limestone on the concrete walls of the gallery. Visitors will be able to experience Jim Hall’s legendary Chaparral Road Racers up close and personal in the Chaparral Gallery. The cars to be displayed are the 2, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2H, 2J, and 2K. “The applications of engineering sciences, particularly those in aerodynamics and mechanical engineering, are embedded throughout the exhibits and Chaparral Car displays,” says Kathy Shannon, Director of Education for the Chaparral Gallery at The Petroleum Museum, “Each discipline was mastered by the Chaparral team to design and build the race cars that would revolutionize motor sports.” The Gallery will be dedicated to inspiring future generations of engineers and sharing with the thousands of Chaparral and auto racing enthusiasts the story behind these innovative machines. For information about the Chaparral Gallery and/or grand opening events, visit www.chaparralgallery.org or call 432-683-4403.

2/8/04

Petty Enterprises in Newsweek Magazine  Petty Enterprises is the only NASCAR Nextel Cup team featured in a Newsweek magazine article appearing in editions of February 9. Subscribers will receive the magazine early this week, while it will begin appearing on newsstands nationwide later in the week. The national magazine interviewed Richard and Kyle Petty for the article, and spent several hours at the team's Level Cross, N.C., shop last week in preparation for the story regarding safety. The magazine also visited NASCAR's R&D facilities, and interviewed other experts.

2/8/04

Rolex 24 gets big ratings increase  This year's Rolex 24 At Daytona was one of the most exciting races the historic twice-around-the-clock event has seen in its 42-year history, and there were plenty of fans paying attention. SPEED Channel announced this week that its broadcast of the Rolex 24 At Daytona saw a 52 percent increase in the Nielsen ratings, and Grand American announced its website received a record-number of visits during the week of the race. SPEED Channel's more than 15 hours of coverage of the Rolex 24 At Daytona delivered strong numbers despite severe weather bringing out full-course cautions and a red flag. The Nielsen rating for the two-day broadcast averaged .42, a 52 percent increase from last year's .28 rating. The average households also experienced a tremendous jump to 257,000, a 69 percent increase from last year's 153,000. The peak of SPEED Channel's race ratings came on Sunday afternoon, with a .9 (549,000 households), and the ratings broke past the 1-mark multiple times during the 15.5 hours in the Men 35-64 demographic, topping off at a 1.21 on Sunday afternoon. Grand American's official website, which features Zippo Live Timing & Scoring during all of the Rolex Sports Car Series and Grand-Am Cup Series on-track activities, also experienced a record-number of visits during the week of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. A total of 801,052 page views were recorded on www.grandamerican.com, generating more than 22 million hits. Race fans from more than 70 countries from around the world log onto www.grandamerican.com during race week. Fans in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Japan, Belgium and The Netherlands recorded some of most visits to the site from overseas. However, attention to the race was widespread, including locations like Croatia, Zimbabwe, Thailand, Finland, Chile, Kuwait and Israel.

2/8/04
Industry News

Court rules Castroneves breached contract with Fittipaldi  3rd UPDATE AP correction that ran 50 minutes ago: Correction: Fittipaldi-Castroneves Story - In a Feb. 7 story about a breach of contract lawsuit between race car driver Helio Castroneves and driver Emerson Fittipaldi's management company, The Associated Press reported erroneously that a jury found Castroneves breached the deal's terms.   2/8/04 - Just to be clear - According to an AP story, Helio Castroneves breached a management agreement he signed with fellow Brazilian driving superstar Emerson Fittipaldi, a jury ruled Saturday. But the four-man, two-woman panel didn't award Fittipaldi any financial damages.  So on principle, Fittipaldi won, but didn't get the money he was seeking.  2/7/04 - A Miami jury today denied Emerson Fittipaldi's claim for breach of contract against two time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves. Fittipaldi sued Castroneves, claiming that Helio wrongfully breached a management contract he signed with Emerson in 1997, seeking in excess of $3 million in damages. Helio countersued, alleging mismanagement, fraud and failure to perform by Emerson.  The jury trial, which lasted six days before Miami Circuit Court Judge Gill Freeman, resulted in a victory for Castroneves, in that the jury, finding in Helio's favor, rejected Emerson's claim for breach of contract and refused to award him any damages. It took just a little over an hour of deliberation for them to render their verdict.  Castroneves, sobbing with joy after the verdict, said sitting through the trial was the most difficult week of his life. Courtroom observers opined that if a chain link fence was anywhere near the courtroom, Helio would have climbed it after his victory. Fittipaldi sat stone-faced in disbelief as the verdict was read. Castroneves was represented by Larry Stumpf, a partner of famed criminal defense lawyer Roy Black. Mr. Stumpf heads the civil litigation division of Mr. Black's firm.  This related article also says the jury rejected all of Helio's countersuit claims.  Castroneves countersued, claiming Fittipaldi did not live up to terms of the deal, including failure to provide "$1 million in sponsorship funds in 1999" payable to Hogan Racing, Castroneves' former team. Jurors ruled against Castroneves on all eight claims in his countersuit.

2/8/04

Corvette to pace Daytona field  General Motors has provided the Official Pace Car for the Daytona 500 during the entire "Modern Era" of NASCAR and this year is no exception. The 2004 Corvette Coupe, considered "America's performance icon," will continue that tradition and pace this year's Daytona 500, the opening race of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series on Feb. 15. Today's Corvette continues to deliver excitement by combining the perfect blend of performance, technology and content. Nearly 1.4 million Corvettes have been sold worldwide in its 51-year history. Corvette will pace four events at the Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks this month, including the Budweiser Shootout, the Gatorade 125-Mile qualifying races, the Hershey's Kisses 300 and the Daytona 500. These four events help make up the 57 national NASCAR events Chevrolet will pace in 2004 season (26 Nextel Cup, 18 Busch, and 13 Craftsman Truck races). GM PR

2/8/04

NASCAR working on new car with Crumple Zones  In this 2001 article our Mark Cipolloni discussed Soft Cars vs. Soft Walls for NASCAR and the physics behind it.  The article was written before the SAFER Wall was introduced, but the idea of Crumple Zones in race cars is still a valid one.  It looks like NASCAR is taking the idea to heart.  NASCAR is closer to a futuristic car that promises a safer ride for stock car racers and millions of drivers buying vehicles off the showroom floor. The fatal crashes in 2000 of Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin in New Hampshire and Tony Roper in Texas led NASCAR to reach out to the best engineers it could find, and the Dale Earnhardt accident threw the project into high gear. There have been plenty of crashes since, some serious, but no deaths. And if NASCAR's safety program keeps progressing as it has recently, the risks of deadly wrecks will keep going down. With the major carmakers working on the program with NASCAR, it's a good bet that some of those safety features will wind up on street cars. Practically every part of the car is being examined for ways to make it safer. New high-tech materials - a foam aluminum that resembles a sponge; a honeycomb metal that looks as if it came out of a mutant beehive; steel designed to bend and crinkle on impact - are under investigation. Improved "crush zones" would absorb energy in a crash to protect occupants. Better collapsible steering wheels, changes in the location of the oil tanks; refined gas, brake and clutch pedals; a new generation of shock absorbers and tires that will make cars easier to control; systems to prevent fires or suppress them - they're all part of NASCAR's overhaul. FoxSports/AP

2/8/04

Industry News

Bell introduces its new Racestar HP1 helmet   Bell Racing Europe has the immense pleasure to announce that it completed certification of the very first helmet in the world to meet the new FIA 8860 Standard: The BELL Racestar HP1.

In their continuous quest to improve safety in Formula One and in autosport in general, FIA mandated TRL, a UK based research and development company, to develop a new standard for "Advanced Helmets for Automotive Sport" that would by far exceed the most stringent existing standards. The basic requirements of the new standard seemed to be so high that FIA did not only finance the drafting of this new standard, but also decided to have TRL making a prototype helmet demonstrating the technical feasibility of the project.

FIA and TRL accepted the offer of Bell Racing Europe to work together with the purpose to develop the prototype helmet that would meet the new FIA 8860 standard. TRL focused mainly on the shell structure while Bell Racing supplied the impact energy absorbing inner liner as well as the helmet shell geometry and design. After 2 years of R&D, the BELL Racestar HP1 in its FIA version was officially certified to both the FIA 8860 standard as well as to Snell SA2000 standard at the beginning of February 2004.

The BELL Racestar HP1 features a full carbon fiber shell combined with a specific expanded polystyrene energy absorbing liner. Its radical and innovative aerodynamic design features a totally integrated double screen anti- fog visor flush with the shell surface (Patented Design). The integrated visor brings a huge improvement on safety by removing most of the external projections of the shell surface in the visor area. It also improves and smoothens the aerodynamic flow, making the air intakes on the forehead area and the ventilation more efficient. Depending of the fit pad size and the mounted accessories such as spoilers, the BELL Racestar HP1 weighs only 1245 grams (+/- 5%), making it the lightest and the safest helmet actually available in the world for automobile racing.

The BELL Racestar HP1 can be equipped with various detachable spoilers and air intakes. On track testing with Formula One drivers will start in March 2004 while Grand Prix debut should take place in April, probably at the first European race. Due to its actual method of fabrication and its very high cost price, the Bell Racestar HP1 will be reserved to Bell Racing F1 drivers and will be made available in the second part of 2004 to a few selected customers. Press release Bell Racing Europe

2/8/04

Williams BMW test summary from Barcelona (with chart)  The BMW WilliamsF1 Team completed their five day test program at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, today. The team had five drivers on duty throughout the week, including Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, test driver Marc Gené as well as Antonio Pizzonia and Nelson Piquet.  In preparation for the season opener in Melbourne on 7th March, the team concentrated on mechanical set-up work and systems checks of the FW26, as well as completing longer runs for engine reliability testing. The modified FW25 was used to carry out tyre testing work with Michelin and practice starts. On Wednesday, the race team joined the test to practice pit-stops with Juan Pablo’s car.   More....

2/7/04

Barrichello gets first shot at 2004 car   Under cool and wet conditions the Scuderia Ferrari team began their first day of testing at the Mugello Circuit for the year 2004. Regular driver Rubens Barrichello took to the track today, the Brazilian climbing into the cockpit of the new F2004 for the very first time.  Testing was affected by rain, which lasted all day but despite this uncontrollable factor, Barrichello continued development work of the Italian team’s 2004 contender, running on rain tires throughout the course of the entire day.  A total of 56 laps were completed (6 on the short version of the track,) the quickest being in a time of 1’26”823. Barrichello will continue testing at this circuit tomorrow.


Photos courtesy of Ferrari

2/7/04

Sadler fastest in Saturday practice  The new 2004 Ford Taurus debuted in grand fashion during the first day of practice for next weekend's Daytona 500 as the foursome of Elliott Sadler, Ricky Rudd, Dale Jarrett and Greg Biffle were among the top 10 in speeds during both practice sessions Saturday. Taurus swept the top three spots in the afternoon session as Sadler paced the field with a speed of 189.366 mph while Rudd was second at 189.088 mph and Jarrett third at 188.739 mph.  Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, gave his reaction to the first day of practice while Ford's NASCAR Field Manager, Robin Pemberton, spoke about the overall performance of the '04 Taurus.

ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus - "I think it's running pretty good, especially from what we've seen at winter testing here at Daytona and Las Vegas with the new nose and tail. It feels like the Fords actually have a gun at a gunfight now instead of what we had last year. We've got the right tools to make some winning race cars and now we've just got to massage them a little bit and find the balance that they need. We seem to be on the right track."

ROBIN PEMBERTON, NASCAR Field Manager, Ford Racing Technology - "It's too early to get over-excited, but I think it does show that the teams worked real hard. I think by getting the car into the hands of the crew chiefs and the teams early like we did has really paid off. They had their parts and pieces to work on this year's car back in August, so hat's off to the Ford guys and everyone who has gotten us to this point. Hopefully, it will stay the way it is, but if it doesn't we at least know we've made some big gains." IS THIS A BIG WEIGHT OFF YOUR SHOULDERS? "It's a huge weight off of our shoulders because you never know. When you come down and test you don't know you only suspect things. We have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours working on this stuff. We thought we were going to be a lot better than we were last year, and I still think we've got some work to do, but it's a big relief. Just about everybody is on the correct side of the computer screen now, which is on the left-hand column and up in the front. That's a big help."  Speeds

2/7/04

Tire voucher system announced for Champ Car's 1st rung  Snap On Stars of Karting and their Bridgestone Tire partner, Grand Products announce today the infrastructure set in place for purchasing the mandatory Bridgestone Tires for all Stars national events for all classes. All classes must run the mandatory Bridgestone Tires regulated by the 2004 Stars of Karting Rule Book, and said tires must be purchased from the official tire supplier, Grand Products at the track. In an effort to make things more convenient for the racer, and to streamline the process, Stars and Grand Products have implemented a tire voucher system to be in effect at all 2004 national races. A tire voucher will consist of one set of Bridgestone tires 2(2) fronts and two (2) rears, for competition in the ICC, ICA, 80cc Junior Shifter, and JICA classes at the price of $180.00 per voucher.

2/7/04

Car shortage in NASCAR  Next Thursday's Twin 125-mile qualifiers will be superfluous this SpeedWeeks since only 45 teams arrived for the 43-car Daytona 500 field. NASCAR officials are reported to be scrambling to add cars to the 125s.  Winston Salem Journal

2/7/04

Champ Car drivers to race Midgets  According to this SPEED TV article, A special added attraction has been organized for the Mopar Twin 25's Irwindale, and it's big!  Famed Champ Car stars Adrian Fernandez, Michel Jourdain Jr. and Patrick Carpentier will climb into Focus Midgets to pit their racing skills in these quick, twitchy race cars against the best Focus Midget regulars. Race fans will see 25 laps of race action as these star drivers bring their open-wheel skills to the Irwindale short track.  The 2nd Annual Mopar Twin 25's Irwindale will be held Saturday, March 27, at Irwindale Speedway, in Irwindale, Calif. The unique racing format of the Mopar Twin 25's provides a full night of frantic, wheel-to-wheel USAC Midget racing action, with two 25-lap feature races.  ARP is offering a bonus prize of $50,000 to a driver who wins both of the night's feature races. The exciting challenge is that the winner of the first feature race starts dead last in the second 25-lap feature, and has to pass the entire field to claim the $50,000!  "We're going to have some fun," said Steve Lewis, Premier Racing Entertainment, producers of the event. "We're very happy -- and grateful to these world-renowned drivers -- to have them be part of this exciting preliminary race at the Mopar Twin 25's. We think they'll have a lot of fun, and the thousands of race fans in the Irwindale Speedway grandstands will love seeing their favorite Champ Car drivers take on the Focus regulars on Irwindale's 1/3-mile oval!"

2/7/04

Renna Memorial Tournament this weekend  The life of the late Tony Renna will be remembered at a golf tournament aimed at raising funds for a scholarship that bears the name of the rising IndyCar® Series driver. The event, scheduled for Feb. 8 at Pelican Bay North Country Club in Daytona Beach, Fla., is sponsored by Father Lopez Catholic School in Daytona Beach.  The school renamed its annual tournament in January to honor Renna, a native of nearby DeLand, Fla., and a 1995 graduate of the school. Renna was killed in private testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October 2003.  “The point is to remember one of our former students forever,” said Bob Booth, one of the tournament’s organizers. “Tony’s name will be on a scholarship that will help someone go to the school. His family will play a role in selecting that student, and it will go on forever.”   Members of Renna’s family and his fiancée, Debbie Savini, will attend the event, which will be followed by a dinner.  Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Renna scholarship, the Tony Renna foundation and the Father Lopez Booster Club.

2/7/04

Valiante watching Champ Car hopes slip away  UPDATE A reader writes, David Rutledge has also been knocking on the door and is thought of by many to be just as fast as Michael and very good on technical feedback. He has had no help from CART with landing a ride but there could be a major sponsor in the wings that likes the prospect of running him.  Apparently quite a few teams are keen to take him if he can land the sponsor.  Peter Holt Dear Peter, For his sake we certainly hope so, but you can't blame us for being a bit skeptical after hearing similar rumors of a sponsor that never materialized for Rutledge in past years.  Mark C.  2/6/04 -  [Editor's Note: OWRS would be wise to look after Valiante.  With three races in Canada, and because the current crop of Canadians won't be around forever, the series is going to need some top Canadian talent.  Valiante has proven to be very fast in the Toyota Atlantic series and in his Champ Car test, sometimes winning in inferior equipment.]  This Vancouver Province article says, First came the California wildfires.  Then came Championship Auto Racing Teams bankruptcy and formation of the Open Wheel Racing Series, which has salvaged Champ Car racing.  And now comes speculation that Burnaby driver Michael Valiante, who dominated a two-day track test session at Sebring, Fla. last December, may be without an OWRS ride this season if team owner Derrick Walker secures Indy Racing League sponsorship and bolts to the rival series.  Valiante could wind up running the family's karting business instead of running against racing greats.  "This is really difficult, but to be honest, it's been really difficult every step of my career," Valiante, 24, said Wednesday amid news that Walker has been selling off his Reynard chassis and buying Lolas. "It's frustrating but at the same time I'm so close right now and I'm just trying to stay focused and prepare when that opportunity comes."  Valiante was to make his CART debut for Walker Racing on Nov. 2, but raging wildfires cancelled the 2003 season finale on the Fontana oval.   More.....

2/7/04

Marco Andretti to race in Fran-Am and Formula Dodge  Marco Andretti went to Buttonwillow, California January 31st and February 1st for the Fran-Am test to start their winter season. Marco will be joining Fran-Am this year with the Knudsen Racing team.   Marco was quick both days of testing. The first day was mainly spent getting him adjusted to the car. Feeling more comfortable the second day, Marco worked on tire testing. His performance on the track illustrated promise for a successful season with the team. After the positive results of the weekend, Marco commented that he is “excited to drive for Knudsen Racing and hoping to get them a lot of wins.”   The first Fran-Am race is not until March 7-8 in Fontana, California. However, Marco will be competing in the first Skip Barber race on February 20-22 in Sebring, Florida.

2/7/04

Drug user Shane Hmiel allowed back by NASCAR  Busch Series driver Shane Hmiel, suspended since September after failing a post-race drug test, has been reinstated by NASCAR. He paid a fine and agreed to random drug testing.

2/7/04

Ford's new Taurus  When the 2004 Taurus makes its debut in the 2004 Daytona 500, it will represent Ford's most synergistic effort in race car design to date. This synergy comes from all corners of the Ford empire and includes solid representation from not only the NASCAR ranks but also the real world production side. More....

2/7/04

Ford's new cylinder head  Ford Racing's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams head into the 2004 season with a new cylinder head and front/rear aerodynamic improvements. More....

2/7/04

Formula Dodge National 2004 schedule  [Editor's Note: Marco Andretti, son of Michael Andretti, will be competing in this series in 2004.  Marco won the regional championship last year with some impressive drives]  The Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER, an official ladder series to the Champ Car World Series, announced its 2004 schedule today. As has been the case since 2000, the 14-race championship is comprised of seven double-race weekends, and for the second year in a row the FDNC opener will be at the Mobil1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March. The championship will wrap up the year at the Champ Car World Series event at Road America in August.

Skip Barber Racing's Vice-President of Racing, Divina Galica, said, With the Barber Dodge Pro Series on sabbatical, our focus in 2004 will be on making important improvements in many areas of the National Championship. FDNC is not to take its place, but there are benefits to this series that we want to make even more attractive to karters and other young racers. We will also have some exciting news to announce very soon regarding prize funds and scholarships."

The Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER is owned and operated by Skip Barber Racing, Lakeville, Conn. The series employs 26 identically prepared 150hp 2.0-liter, sequential gearbox, wings-and-slicks Formula Dodge single-seat race cars. A full season of 14 races (seven race weekends) costs $37,800 (EURO29,776; UKPOUND20,500; CAN50,200).

The Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER 2004 Schedule:
Sebring, Fla. Mar. 17-19 (w/ALMS 12-Hour)
Virginia Int'l, Va. Apr. 23-25
Road America, Wis. May 21-23
Shenandoah, W.Va. June 11-13
Mosport, Canada July 19-21
Mont Tremblant, Canada July 24-25
Road America, Wis. Aug. 6-8 (w/Champ Car World Series)

  Much More...click on 2004 archives button below
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