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DATE

News (chronologically)

3/11/04

Champ Car statement on Fernández loss  The following is the statement of the Champ Car World Series regarding the retirement from Champ Car racing of Adrian Fernandez. Champ Car President Dick Eidswick said,  “We were disappointed to hear of Adrian Fernandez retirement from the Champ Car World Series. Adrian has been a top contender in the series and a favorite among our strong Mexican fan base. We wish him the best of luck in his future racing endeavors.”

3/11/04

Champ Car Fan Fest a big hit  Tuesday night’s Fan Festival portion of the 2004 Champ Car Season Premiere in Long Beach drew a number of the staunch Champ Car supporters that the series has enjoyed in Southern California since the thoroughbred racing machines made their debut in the west coast classic in 1984. The fan-driven event began with 1996 Long Beach winner and series champion Jimmy Vasser (#12 NII Holdings Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) laying down some serious rubber in a pit stop demonstration outside the Long Beach Convention Center with the assistance from members from his PKV Racing squad– a team in which Vasser will join as both owner and driver in 2004.

Following a run in which the veteran Champ Car pilot blazed through the drill three times with spirited doughnuts at each end of the mini-course, the fan’s attention turned to the adjacent Convention Center where a number of Champ Car drivers awaited for autograph and question and answer sessions.

After announcements regarding the exciting future of Champ Car racing poured out of Long Beach the two previous days during the media portion of the Season Premiere, fans were given access to the drivers and proved they were up to date on such issues as the recently released 2004 schedule, television package and driver lineups.

“Being at the Fan Fest with all of those race fans really added to all of the excitement I have heading into my first Champ Car race at Long Beach next month,” said 2003 Toyota Atlantic Champion and American rookie pilot A.J. Allmendinger. “It’s been like a dream and hadn’t really sunk in, but when the fans knew my name and knew about my career, it started to hit me. They were all so supportive and enthusiastic, that it makes me want to get in that RuSPORT car and give them a real show and not let them down. I can’t wait to get back here for them.”

The crowd was also given the opportunity to walk home with a myriad of Champ Car, Ford and Bridgestone-related merchandise through an ongoing raffle during the festival, where ticket packages for the 30th Anniversary of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach were among the many prizes.

The 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford opens up on the streets of downtown Long Beach, Calif. April 18th when 2003 Defending Champion Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Canada leads Americans Vasser and Allmendinger, Mexican owner/driver Adrian Fernandez, 2003 Champ Car Rookie of the Year Sebastien Bourdais of France and Team Rahal’s Michel Jourdain Jr. of Mexico in the fight for the Vanderbilt Cup.

3/11/04

Darlington just got narrower  Darlington Raceway workers are in the process of installing SAFER barriers in the track's turns.  The SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) situation is different at Darlington, however. The current preferred groove through the track's turns is within an arm's width of the outside wall. With the installation of SAFER barriers on the inside of those walls, about 30 inches of that space has been lost. Suddenly, the track that had little room in which to play has even less. "Darlington is an odd track as it is, and we've just made it odder," said Chad Knaus, crew chief for driver Jimmie Johnson. The change will make practice for the track's Nextel Cup and Busch races much more interesting than in recent seasons. Maybe too interesting. "It will change the line, and drivers will notice it," Johnson said. "It seems like there are only a couple of inches between the wall and the right side of the car. We'll find out how much of the track we really need. ... It's going to catch some people off guard."

3/11/04

Altran renews with Renault  On the evening of Wednesday, 10 March, in Paris, Renault F1 Team Deputy Managing Director Bernard Dudot officially signed an extension of the Renault F1 Team's relationship with Altran, the European leader in innovation consulting.

In the context of their relationship with the Renault F1 Team, Altran scientists and technical experts work in close collaboration with the engine team at Viry-Châtillon south of Paris in key areas of the F1 project.

"We are delighted with our relationship with Altran," commented Managing Director Flavio Briatore. "They have played an important role in our progress in recent seasons, and we look forward to their continuing to do so in the future."

Deputy Managing Director Bernard Dudot added: "Over the last two years, our work with Altran has brought real benefits and allowed us to learn a large amount. Altran give us access to expertise in extremely specialized areas that we do not possess within the company, and which are crucial for the development of our F1 engines to the standard required today."

3/11/04
Formula BMW

Red Bull driver lands BMW ride  2003 Red Bull Driver Search winner Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas, NV, has signed with Team Autotecnica to contest the 2004 Formula BMW North America Championship this season. Jaskol is one of three drivers to have won backing from Red Bull after emerging as a star in the making after two days of testing in British F3 cars at Estoril in Portugal last October.

Jaskol is the only Red Bull Driver Search winner who will be chasing his Formula One dreams stateside, as his fellow winners, Dominique Claessens, Colin Fleming and Scott Speed, will do battle this season in Europe in the Formula Renault Eurocup.

“For me, starting in this series in the United States is like a home run and it is a great challenge to be among the favorites in this series,” enthused Jaskol, who scored three wins on his way to third place in the Formula Dodge National Championship last season.

Team Autotecnica, based near West Palm Beach, Florida, was selected based on the excellence of their preparation, and the character of the team, which is young spirited and has a history of developing up and coming talent, both of which appealed to Red Bull. The team is looking forward to bringing the young talent on board, and has high expectations for the season.

The inaugural Formula BMW USA season will comprise fourteen races, held on seven race weekends, and will be sanctioned by Champ Car. Race venues will include the Canadian Grand Prix, the United States Grand Prix and four Champ Car events. The series debut will take place at Lime Rock Park, CT, on 31 May, with the series finale slated to take place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on 12 September.

In 2004, the Red Bull Driver Search is continuing in its quest to discover and support the "diamond in the rough," lacking the knowledge and contacts needed to embark on a career in racing, as well as talented young drivers already in racing. The long-term goal is to have a steady group of three to six American drivers racing in Europe, groomed to break into Formula 1 and compete for the World Championship.

3/11/04

Penske makes some crew changes  Penske Racing South has some personnel changes that will be in effect this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bill Wilburn, who served as driver Rusty Wallace's crew chief last season and moved into the role of shop foreman this season for the No. 77 Dodges and driver Brendan Gaughan, will return to his old role changing tires for Wallace's team, sources confirmed Wednesday. In addition to Wilburn's change, Aaron Oakley, an aerodynamics specialist with Ryan Newman's No. 12 Dodges, will move into the spotter's role for the team this weekend, replacing Penske Racing South general manager John Erickson in that position, sources said.

3/11/04

Quote of the week  Jimmie Johnson, when asked to compare the four 1.5-mile oval tracks on the Nextel Cup circuit between now and May: "Atlanta is rough and kind of coarse. It's a little bumpy. It's pretty scary for the drivers to drive at times. Texas is just plain old fast. That's all there is to it. It's just a fast, silly-fast place to go. It's smooth. You have very low shock velocities. It's a quick race track and an awesome facility. Fontana is a long, wide, and flat track. It's a neat race track. Where Atlanta and Texas are real high-banked and aggressive, Fontana is more of a rhythm race-track. It has a lot to do with the way you get on and off the throttle as to how the car is going to handle. Lowe's Motor Speedway is home base for us, and a track that I love. But that is an evil place. It's nothing but bumps and bruises and cracks in the pavement. Your tires are going to fall off. But you go to some of these places with a smaller spoiler and softer tire, and you're going to fly in qualifying. It's going to be pretty exciting."

3/11/04

Why Bob Jenkins?  A lot of readers have written us questioning the choice of Bob Jenkins as a TV anchor for Champ Car in 2004. Most were shocked that the voice of the IRL, many said an IRL shill, would be in the Champ Car booth.  As far as we are concerned, Bob Jenkins is a true professional who was only doing his job.  There is no question he loves the Indy 500, it was a part of him all his life.  However, we have no doubt that Jenkins will do an equally professional job for Champ Car now that he has won the position against some pretty good competition who applied for the position.  Jenkins and Kendall in the booth should be excellent with Jenkins doing play-by-play and Kendall as an analyst. The most significant question to ask is why Bob Jenkins, after being in such a key role with the IRL, has decided to join Champ Car.  That may be a telling sign.  Mark C.

3/11/04

Gascoyne reflects on Toyota performance  It was a very disappointing race for the Panasonic Toyota Racing team down under last weekend, with their two drivers, Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta struggling to fight with the Ford powered Jordans at the back of the grid. Here, the team’s technical director, Mike Gascoyne, looks back over round one and gives his analysis.   More....

3/11/04

Access team gets veteran engineer  Veteran engineer Mike Colliver has joined Access Motorsports as the team's new race engineer. Colliver, who worked most recently with Kelley Racing and driver Al Unser Jr., replaces Jeff Britton, who left Access Motorsports last week to join Mo Nunn Racing. "Mike has been in racing for many years and is very highly rated," said Greg Ray, owner/driver of the No. 13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone. "Although we've never worked together before, I've conversed with him over the years, and we've always talked about working together provided the right opportunity." Prior to joining Kelley Racing in 2002, Colliver worked as a mechanic for Patrick Racing, served as chief mechanic at Hemelgarn Racing winning the 1996 Indianapolis 500 with Buddy Lazier, and was race engineer for Treadway Racing. "It's not the way we would have started if we had planned it, but I look forward to working with him," Ray said. "He has a passion for motorsports, and he'll be an asset in moving our program forward. "We still have to build the all-important at-track relationship, but we'll hit the ground running at Phoenix and start working through the process."

3/11/04

The hypocrisy of it all, IRL has morphed in CART  This Indy Star article calls a spade a spade as it says, Ten years ago today, Tony George shook the open-wheel racing world by announcing the formation of a new Indy-car series. The Indy Racing League, as he labeled his multimillion-dollar project, remains the most controversial series in motorsports. Proponents insist it has maintained the integrity of the Indianapolis 500. Critics argue it has become everything George despised about the former Championship Auto Racing Teams, the series from which he severed ties. The IRL now has teams with extravagant budgets and engine manufacturers that wield major power through expensive lease programs. Expected next year are races on road courses and temporary street circuits. Gone is virtually everything that has to do with the U.S. Auto Club, which George wanted as the IRL's base. Even the tradition of the Indy 500, the hallmark of the IRL's founding, has been modified. Jimmy Vasser, who won CART's championship in 1996, doesn't begrudge George for creating the IRL. But he doesn't like how it morphed into CART. "It's the hypocrisy of it all," Vasser said. "There wasn't anything wrong with Indy-car racing in 1994 and 1995. Now all of a sudden we're supposed to believe that the IRL is the best thing going."

3/11/04
British FF

D'Agostino to British Formula Ford   [Editor's Note:  D'Agostino's father is a key person in the Formula BMW USA program.  We spoke to him on Tuesday and it's clear he wants his son to have a real go at F1. ]   American Joe D’Agostino will replace Mareks Stolcermanis at reigning British Formula Ford champion outfit Team JLR for the coming season.   The 18-year-old, the winner of the 2003 Barber-Dodge Pro Series scholarship, has landed the seat after Latvian Stolcermanis suffered serious injuries in a car accident.  D’Agostino, who is currently recovering from a broken arm sustained in a New Zealand FFord winter series crash,  joins countryman Charlie Kimball and Briton Daniel Clarke in the squad.   “I have wanted to come overseas for some time now, because I know if I am to make a name for myself and have a shot at Formula 1, this is where I need to be,” said D’Agostino.   Team boss Richard Dean said: “Joe has won a championship every year he has been racing, but is recovering from injuries, so it will be tough for him to make up for lack of circuit knowledge and get back to full fitness before round one.”

3/11/04

What about Univision?  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I am still wondering why Champ Car does not have a deal with the biggest Spanish tv network in the US. Have you talked to them about putting the races on Univision?  I'm sure UVN would even pay them instead of the other way around. Not only that but many Univision stations are over the air stations, and I get it on Cable.  Though I would prefer univision since it's the only Spanish TV I get, I would not mind if they use Telemundo. But they should have a Spanish TV network.  Marco Clark  Dear Marco, We suspect you will see something regarding Spanish TV when Champ Car announces their international TV package.  Mark C.

3/11/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Bridgestone Has Improved Hot-Weather Tire
Toyota Redesign Flawed TF104
Korea Steps-Up F1 Quest
Williams Clueless On Schumacher Saga
Dennis Faces-Down Retirement
McLaren Form Is Not End Of World: Wurz
Jordan Braces Fans For 'Tough' Season
BAR Set Pace At Drizzly Valencia
Schu Supports Condemned Qualifying
Mercedes-Benz To Go It Alone In F1?

Ferrari Is Bad For Formula One
Kiesa To Revive F1 Flirt?
Webber Expects Problems In Malaysia
BAR Won't Abandon Britain
Wurz Shrugs-Off Quali-Concern

3/10/04

Testing wraps up at Firebird  After two full days of testing at Firebird International Raceway, the teams and drivers of the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama now set their sights on the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which opens the season on the weekend of April 18. It was a scorcher for the second consecutive day at Firebird, with a midday ambient temperature of 93 degrees Fahrenheit and a track temperature of 108 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Yokohama Tire Engineers. However, the temperatures were slightly cooler than yesterday, and with additional rubber on the track, all of the drivers were able to find a bit more speed today. Ryan Dalziel, who posted the second-fastest lap in Tuesday's first test day, ended the session with a best time of 51.8 seconds unofficially, to top the list. Dalziel's Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate, rookie Andrew Ranger, was second quickest at 52.2 sec., followed by Lynx Racing pilot Bryan Sellers at 52.5 sec. according to team stopwatches. Danica Patrick reported the fourth quickest time at 52.6 sec., followed by Brooks Associates Racing rookie Ronnie Bremer at 52.8 sec., and the Pacific Coast Motorsports duo of Jon Fogarty and Alex Figge, who both clocked best laps at 52.9 sec. Alex Garcia and rookie Chris Festa each reported best times at 53.3 sec. As is always the case in preseason testing, all times are unofficial. While most of the teams will turn a few more testing miles before Long Beach, today's session marks the final time they will be together as a group before the season gets underway. CORRECTION: In Tueday's report, Ronnie Bremer's unofficial best time was incorrectly listed at 53.8 seconds. The correct time was 53.3 sec., which was set late in the running. Toyota Atlantic public relations regrets the error.

3/10/04

Quotes from testing at Firebird  RYAN DALZIEL: "It went really well. I'm glad to be back for another year. We've been working on some stuff for the past couple of days, so we pretty much had a goal to go out and put a time down this morning while the track was good and we put down a pretty good lap. We spent the rest of the day, from like 10 o'clock onwards, just trying some development work. We learned a fair amount of stuff, so we're pretty confident going into Long Beach that we're going to have a good car this year."
CHRIS FESTA: "We made a lot of good adjustments over the last two days. We started off with a baseline package and made some improvements. We made some changes that went backwards a little bit, but that's going to happen. For me as a driver, it was just a really good two days to see how I measure up compared to the other drivers, and just to really work on the driving aspect as well as tuning the car."
BRYAN SELLERS: "I think so far, so good. The team has really started to come together. I think we're actually a little behind a lot of the head teams right now, being as they've all worked together for at least a season it would seem. In some cases, maybe more. Today we made some pretty big progression with the car, and so far, so good."
RONNIE BREMER: "For me, it's okay. We had the whole day yesterday to sort out things and get used to the car and the circuit. The car's a little bit smaller inside than what I'm used to, so you sit a little bit different. The rpm limit is 10,000 and I'm used to 7,000, so it sounds totally different. In the beginning, I'd go through the corner with too low revs, because normally you don't see the light, you just go by the ears and what the sound is. But we worked that out and I think we did a pretty good time yesterday, and today a pretty good time as well. I didn't really get the last run on new tires like I wanted to, and I feel we can go at least a couple tenths (of a second). But all in all, it went better than I expected, and I think it was better than the team expected so I'm quite happy. I have good people around me, so I think it's good. If I can find the money, I'll definitely be in the series this year, but time is getting closer. I hope I can get the money and get started. The others are already testing, and testing more days than I am. This is the first year for me as a rookie, so I really need to test more than they do. I need to bring up the speed. But for me, I think it's okay. If I can get the money, I'm sure I can get up to the pace before the first race. I'm pretty positive about it."
DANICA PATRICK: "I think this serves as a good refresher for everyone, mainly just simple things of driving and tuning a race car. It's been a while. We've had the longest off-season I can think of, and things are rusty, so you're just kind of getting back in the groove of things. This is a tricky track, conditions are always changing, and for no apparent reason sometimes you're off and sometimes you're on. It gets really hot here, you have inconsistency in tires, and we're finding out about engine things and what kind of distances they can run, which is important for the season. I think, mainly, it's just a good refresher for the team working as one again. We all know what we're doing, we just need to get back into a rhythm. I feel good that I'm back in the car, and everything's more fresh in my mind, and that's important. It's a matter of weeks before the first race. with another day here, and more, we'll be ready."
ALEX GARCIA: "We feel pretty strong about it. We had couple good days at Buttonwillow, came out here and just built on that. We went backwards a little bit today and ended up pretty good. We're happy with a 53.3 (second lap) on pretty used up tires, so I think we're not that far from the top guys. We're right there in the group, so we're pretty pleased."
JON FOGARTY: "We actually learned quite a bit today, and didn't struggle with a lot of the problems we had yesterday, which I'm really happy about. We've definitely gone forward in that regard. At the end of the day, it was the best car we've had, so it's going to carry over well again into the next test.(Teammate) Alex (Figge) had a little problem, and we didn't get as many miles as we would have liked, but we do have a few more days."
ALEX FIGGE: "I think we got some work done both mornings. Unfortunately, (engineer) Burke (Harrison) and I got hit with some bad luck in the afternoons. Yesterday, we were chasing some brake problems and stuff like that, and it took a while to get to the bottom of it, and today we blew the motor right after lunch. The guys got it back together as fast as they could, but we just weren't left with enough time to end up where we wanted on the balance. But we learned a lot, and we're not racing here, and I think what we learned is going to transfer over and it'll be good."

3/10/04

JeanRichard watches joins ALMS  JeanRichard watches, a collection of fine SWISS timepieces intended for a clientele seeking original and exclusive products, has joined the American Le Mans Series in a new sponsorship and awards program that will begin with the 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the opening event of the 2004 season Mar. 17-20.

JeanRichard will present watches valued at $3,950 to the winning drivers in all four classes of the American Le Mans Series in the Sebring event, America's oldest and most prestigious professional sports car race. In addition, watches will be presented to the winning drivers in Chevy presents Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, a 1,000-mile endurance event that will be held Sept. 25.

JeanRichard will also present watches to the championship drivers and team owners for the 2004 American Le Mans Series season, with the presentations to be made at the series awards banquet.

As another aspect of the sponsorship agreement, JeanRichard will be designated as the Official Watch and Timing Sponsor of the American Le Mans Series. JeanRichard will also be a sponsor of the American Le Mans Series Radio Web, and there will be a JeanRichard logoed clock at the start/finish line for all American Le Mans Series races to track the elapsed time during the event.

"We are very excited to begin a long term partnership with the American Le Mans Series," said Ronald Jackson, President of JeanRichard Watches North America. "I am confident that the passions and expertise we bring to fine Swiss watch making will be appreciated by the winning drivers and fans alike."

"We enthusiastically welcome the participation of JeanRichard in the American Le Mans Series," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the ALMS. "The upscale demographics of our audience are a perfect fit with JeanRichard's clientele. We look forward to a long and mutually-beneficial relationship."

3/10/04

What about international TV?  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I live in Europe and was wondering if there is going to be any live TV coverage of Champ Car races in 2004?  I saw no mention of it anywhere. Michael Salvatore, Milan, Italy  Dear Michael, OWRS will be announcing their international TV package soon.  We are led to believe most people around the world be able to get Champ Car broadcasts.  Certainly the internet for $9.95 per month (in US dollars) will be an option for you.  Mark C.

3/10/04

What happened to CBS?  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I want to be as positive as possible about the upcoming 2004 ChampCar year -- but, with the announcement that all races will be on cable's Spike TV, how bad do you think it will hurt the series not to have any races on network television this year? What happened to the 8-10 races that were announced to be on CBS during the season last year? It is good that Spike TV reaches more homes than Speed Channel -- I guess 2004 will have to be a rebuilding year for the series in many aspects. I just hope that the lower TV ratings that the series will undoubtedly get on cable, don't hurt ChampCar in terms of attracting much needed new sponsors. I'm sure that Mr. Gentilozzi, et al are working very hard to get some races back on network TV for the 2005 season. Thanks, Jeff Broadstreet, Los Angeles, A loyal fan of ChampCar (I have watched every televised ChampCar and Formula One race since 1993).  Dear Jeff, OWRS must walk before they run.  The series blew $31 million on TV buys and production in 2003 and there is no way the new owners were going to do that again.  They are going with a bold move to break out of the rut that Indy Car style racing has been in for years.  They have hired an impressive production company with fresh new ideas who recognize that the personalities and drama are what matter most in building loyal fans.  As they say, it's the drivers stupid.  Once the series has proven to Viacom, the parent company of both CBS and Spike TV that they deserve to be on network TV, they will be.  Will it be 2005?  2006?  Hard to say, but certainly the sooner the better because teams have a harder time selling sponsorship with low TV ratings.  The most important aspect to come out of this new deal is that Viacom is supposedly going to really market the series.  That more than anything is what will turn the ratings around.  It will be interesting to see what the cumulative ratings will be between Spike TV, HD Net and the internet viewers.  Perhaps the numbers will surprise. Mark C.

3/10/04

What about qualifying?  A reader writes,  Dear AutoRacing1.com, For those of us without HDNET, will the qualifying and practice be on Spike TV as well? Tim Shaw, Wheaton, IL  Dear Tim, No, but for $9.95 per month you can watch every single minute live on the internet from the start of practice Friday, through Sunday, including practice, qualifying, interviews, support series stuff, the races etc.  That goes for anyone in the world.  We suggest you get rid of dial-up and get DSL or a Cable Modem for broadband access.  If you are still on dial-up you should get with the program.  Mark C.

3/10/04

BAM Racing crewperson turns down Playboy  Angie Mesimer has rejected overtures from a nationally-known men's magazine. The 32-year-old fabricator for the #49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge of BAM Racing and driver Ken Schrader said she has no interest in Playboy magazine's proposed "Women Of Racing" photo feature. "I am in racing because I love racing, I love working on race cars and I love the competition," Mesimer said. "I have no interest in a magazine like Playboy anyway, unless they want to talk about building and working on race cars." Mesimer, a single mother of two, said she would much rather work her way to the top in motorsports. "Everyone involved in NASCAR racing has been working to get away from the old stereotypes of 'good ol' boys,' and this supposedly 'mainstream' publication comes up with an idea that I think most people in the garage would find offensive," said BAM Racing general manager Eddie Jones, a veteran of NASCAR racing stretching back to the 1970s. "We're all working to increase our reach and to bring more general consumers into our camp. New fans are great," Jones said. "I completely agree with Angie, though. This is not the way to bring new fans to our sport. She is a good worker and she is learning a lot about racing. She doesn't make a lot of waves but pitches in and works hard," Jones said. "This is like a national publication doing a 'wolf whistle,' and everyone involved with our race team finds that pretty offensive. I am proud to say BAM Racing is not going to be a part of it. I guess there is a place for men's magazines; just not with our race team," he added.

3/10/04

Budweiser renews with Earnhardt  Budweiser and Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) officials announced today at Anheuser-Busch's annual national sales convention that NASCAR Nextel Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. has renewed his sponsorship agreement with Budweiser through a multi-year extension. "Budweiser's sponsorship of Dale Jr. gives us a proven winner on and off the track with a celebrity who is easily connected to Budweiser and highly recognizable among adult beer drinkers," said Tony Ponturo, vice president, Global Media & Sports Marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. "Dale Jr.'s popularity reaches a great number of racing fans including many of our wholesalers, brewery workers and retailers through his winning record, contemporary appeal and confidence as a driver." Earnhardt Jr., the winner of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 15, has driven the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet since 1999. That season, he appeared in a limited schedule of five NASCAR Winston Cup Series events while racing full-time in the NASCAR Busch Series. "It's really cool to be sponsored by Budweiser because of the great history they have in motorsports," said Earnhardt Jr. "Anheuser-Busch has supported my career since I drove in the Busch Series where I won a couple of titles, and they've been with me every step of the way since then."

3/10/04

Booster shot for Champ Car series  This Orange County register article (in Long Beach race's backyard) talks about some of the changes announced in Long Beach the last two days.  You must register for free to read.  It says in the article that Gentilozzi hinted about a possible September race in South Africa, but as reported here elsewhere, not in 2004 (per Kevin Kalkhoven talking to Autoracing1 and Autosport Magazine)

3/10/04

Champ Car rides on Spike TV in 2004  Spike TV is the new cable television home for the Champ Car World Series for the 2004 season, it was announced today jointly by Champ Car President Dick Eidswick and Kevin Kay, Executive Vice President, Programming and Production, Spike TV. The network will telecast the entire 16-race schedule of one of the most popular racing circuits from venues all over the world, from Long Beach, CA. to Seoul, South Korea.

Spike TV will carry all 16 of the 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford races, kicking off with the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday, April 18 (4:00-6:00pm ET/PT) from Long Beach, CA.

Spike TV will also telecast 24 episodes of a Champ Car lifestyle-themed series as part of its successful automotive programming on Sunday afternoons.

"Champ Car racing has a great fan base and the addition to our weekend lineup will broaden our scope with sports and racing fans." noted Kay. "This is an ideal partnership between two evolving brands looking to expand its audience base."

The Spike TV partnership will give fans a consistent time slot in which to follow the Champ Car World Series, airing the races in a two-hour block from 4:00-6:00pm ET/PT on Sunday afternoons.

"Our millions of fans nationwide will now have a network to call home to catch all the excitement of Champ Car World Series Racing," stated Eidswick. "This partnership will increase our television exposure and bring the thrilling racing of Champ Car to a whole new audience."

The Spike TV broadcasts will be produced by Betelgeuse Productions and will feature veteran play-by-play man Bob Jenkins in the booth along with popular color analyst Tommy Kendall. Derek Daly will be the lead pit color analyst while Bronte Tagliani, wife of Rocketsports Racing driver Alex Tagliani, will serve as a roving reporter to capture the excitement and lifestyle aspects surrounding Champ Car events.


Spike TV, the first network for men, is available in 87 million homes and is a division of MTV Networks. MTV Networks owns and operates the cable television programming services MTV: Music Television, MTV2, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, TV Land, VH1, CMT: Country Music Television, and Spike TV, as well as The Digital Suite from MTV Networks, a package of thirteen digital services, all of which are trademarks of MTV Networks. MTV Networks also operates and offers joint ventures, licensing agreements and syndication deals whereby its programming can be seen worldwide.

3/10/04
F3000

Van der Merwe eyes F3000 after Durban loses Champ Car race  Autosport Magazine reports that South African Alan van der Merwe is targeting a drive in International Formula 3000 this year. The reigning British Formula 3 champion is one of a number of drivers in talks with Super Nova. “We’re working hard to put a deal together,” he said. “With GP2 coming, it seems like the place to be.” Van der Merwe is in contact with Mercedes regarding a DTM drive, but his hopes of a Champ Car ride have faded after South Africa failed to land a slot on the calendar.

3/10/04

Mobil 1 extends sponsorship  ExxonMobil and Sebring International Raceway today announced the extension of Mobil 1's title sponsorship of America's premier sports car race, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, through 2006. The 52nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will take the green flag at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 20. This opening race of the 2004 American Le Mans Series will feature a starting field of 50 world-class teams competing in four different classes.

3/10/04

New point system adopted  In keeping with the recently-announced Champ Car World Series points system, officials from the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama today announced that the series has adopted a similar system for the 2004 season.

Under the new system, a race winner will earn 31 points, followed by 27 points for second place. Positions three through 10 will be separated by two points per position, with third place being worth 25 points, fourth paying 23 points, fifth getting 21, and so on down to 11 points for a 10th place finish. Positions 11 through 20 will be separated by one point per position, with 10 points going to the 11th place finisher, nine points for 12th, down to one point for the 20th place finisher.   More......

3/10/04

Quotes from Toyota Atlantic test  ANDREW RANGER: "I had a great day today. I was a little rusty this morning, because I hadn't been in a race car in a while. In the winter, I race motorcycles, so I had to re-adapt myself to the car again. After a few laps, I got comfortable and starting putting out quick times. The team gave me a great car, so I was able to perform really well. I've got bruises here and there, but I had a lot of fun out there today."

RYAN DALZIEL: "We had an excellent day. It's our first test of the season, and I think we got through a fair amount of stuff. I think all day we were consistently the quickest car on the track, and we got through a lot of productive stuff that we wanted to work on last year and didn't have time. It's been a good day and we'll build on it the rest of the week. The heat just effects the cars. You have four or five hours in the middle of the day where it's kind of too warm to productively ramp anything up, but between four and five in the afternoon and between nine and 11 in the morning you can shoot for a time. It's kind of frustrating, but that's why it's racing."

ALEX FIGGE: "It was pretty good. We ran into a lot of mechanical problems from about 11 o'clock on, and we just got them sorted out at the end of the day. I think we have a good place to start for tomorrow."

JON FOGARTY: "It was good. It was certainly warmer than anything we've experienced thus far this year, so we had to accommodate that in a lot of different ways. But I feel good physically, and we're ending the day on a positive note and we have quite a few days up in front of us. We're looking forward to carrying it into tomorrow and the next couple of days after that."

BRYAN SELLERS: "I think it was a good day today. We started out kind of rough, but I think we made big progressions with the car. Today is actually the first day in testing where we've made big gains with the car, and I think we're getting closer. Hopefully, tomorrow we'll make the same gains."

3/10/04

Canadian youngster Andrew Ranger tops key Toyota Atlantic test  UPDATE After a whirlwind tour through Long Beach for "Season Premiere," 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama competitors took to the track at Firebird International Raceway today for the first of two days of preseason preparations on the 1.2-mile East circuit. A total of nine cars turned laps during the incident-free session, and drivers participating were Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammates Ryan Dalziel and Andrew Ranger, Transnet Racing's Alex Garcia, Danish rookie Ronnie Bremer, Lynx Racing driver Bryan Sellers, the Team Rahal duo of Danica Patrick and Chris Festa, and the Pacific Coast Motorsports pairing of Alex Figge and 2002 Toyota Atlantic champion Jon Fogarty. Under what the locals describe as "unseasonably warm" conditions (Yokohama Tire engineers reported the ambient temperature of 97.2 degrees Fahrenheit and a track temperature of 113.7), Ranger clocked the unofficial quickest time of the day at 52.4 seconds after putting on "sticker" tires just prior to the lunch break. Dalziel and Sellers were second-quickest, turning in best laps at 52.7 sec. each, followed by Fogarty at 53.1 sec., Patrick and Figge at 53.5 sec., Garcia at 53.6 sec., and Bremer at 53.8 sec. No time was reported for Festa, although the rookie turned several laps throughout the day. All times are unofficial. In addition to testing, all of the drivers had head and car shots taken, and those photos will be released to the media shortly. Testing at Firebird continues on Wednesday.   3/9/04 - Canadian sensation Andrew Ranger was the fastest of 10 Champ Car Toyota Atlantic drivers testing at Firebird East today. It was his first test on the track with other drivers. His fast lap was 52.4 sec followed by Ryan Dalziel at 52.6, Jon Fogarty at 52.9 and Bryan Sellers 53.3 sec.  Keep your eye on Ranger.  We have watched him race.  He's a future Canadian hero in the making.

3/10/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Renault Deny Schumacher Link
Montoya Refuses To Give-Up Fight
Ferrari Won't Run Away With Title: Renault
McLaren Quickest At Valencia Test
Senate Urges Government To Butt-Out Ads
Schu Sets-Off On Holiday
BAR-Honda Is Not Jumping For Joy
Williams Expects Closer Race In Malaysia
Grumpy Da Matta Hopes For More
'F1' Number-Plate Up For Sale  

FIA Rule-Out Qualifying Shake-Up
Coulthard Plays Down 'Crisis' Talks
News Shorts: Twice As Many F1 Tickets

3/9/04

Scenes from Durban, South Africa  Some say we are everywhere, some say it's our spy satellites.  Be it as it may, here are photos taken of a lap around the proposed Durban, South Africa circuit.  This should give you a general sense of what the roads and area look like today.  A 2005 Champ Car race is being eyed.

3/9/04

PacifiCare renews with Newman/Haas  After a successful 2003 season both on and off the track, PacifiCare Health Systems Inc. (NYSE: PHS) announced it will continue to sponsor Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) and racecar driver Bruno Junqueira for the 2004 Champ Car World Series season.  NHR, co-owned by acclaimed actor Paul Newman and legendary racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, is a four-time champion in the Champ Car World Series (1984, 1991, 1993 and 2002). Junqueira was runner-up in the title hunt in 2003 after winning two races and two pole positions.  PacifiCare, one of the nation's largest consumer health organizations, entered motor sports in 2003 with its sponsorship of NHR as well as Champ Car World Series races in Long Beach, Denver and Milwaukee. This year, PacifiCare will serve as associate sponsor of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 1) and as official sponsor of the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver (August 15).   In addition, PacifiCare will extend its role as the exclusive and "Official Health Care Provider" for the entire 2004 Champ Car World Series season by offering health insurance benefits and related services to Champ Car drivers and NHR employees nationwide.

3/9/04

Marco Andretti enters Formula Dodge National Series  Marco Andretti, the 16-year-old son of Michael and grandson of Mario, will compete in his first professional auto racing championship as he has officially entered the 2004 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER . The 14-race, $190,000 open-wheel championship begins its fifth season with a doubleheader March 16-19 at the 52nd Annual Mobil1 12-Hours of Sebring. Andretti last year won the Skip Barber Eastern Region Race Series amateur championship, with eight victories in 14 starts, and finishing on the podium five other times to earn his first crown. He's currently leading the 2004 Southern Region Race Series points standings, with four races remaining. Said his dad Michael, "We're excited to get Marco going in the Skip Barber National Series for '04. He proved he could be a great competitor in the Regional Series -- a great training ground -- and that has set him up well for the National." Mario had this to say: From what I see, Marco's making a natural transition from the two Regional series to the pro National, which of course is even more competitive. He'll see a broader spectrum talent and competitive styles. I think this is a great way to introduce all these kids to the higher levels of motorsport." "We have extraordinary depth of talent in the 2004 field," said Senior V.P. of Racing Divina Galica, Marco among them. I expect we'll see some of the best racing in North America, and continue to be the proving ground for future champions."

3/9/04

Champ Car selects Betelgeuse for TV production  The Champ Car World Series will have a different look and feel to its television broadcasts in 2004 after contracting with New York industry stalwarts Betelgeuse Productions to produce its television package.

A strong force in the television production industry with 23 years of experience, Betelgeuse has won more than 40 Emmy Awards for its work. One of the most respected post-production studios in television, Betelgeuse Productions has a long-standing sports pedigree, having done production work for the NBA and the NFL including producing the opening for Super Bowl XXVIII. The Manhattan-based company produces the long-running hit Inside the Actors’ Studio with Jim Lipton for NBC’s Bravo Channel and has worked with all of the major broadcast networks.

“This is a very exciting step for Champ Car and we believe that our fans will enjoy the new innovations that Betelgeuse will bring to the broadcasts,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “We are very much looking forward to an entirely new television package, one which will greatly increase our exposure and introduce many new fans to Champ Car racing.”

Betelgeuse Productions is concentrating its years of experience on improving the viewing experience for Champ Car race fans by focusing on developing compelling on-track action, better understanding of the drivers, the teams and their crews throughout the season. Even the fans will be getting in the act during this Champ Car World Series season.

“We are focused on creating a compelling television program that features great racing action,” said Executive Producer Rick Murphy. “To us, telling the stories that surround the event also includes a view from the inside. We are going to allow Champ Car fans to experience many things that they have never seen on a race broadcast. We believe that if you help fans understand why drivers and their teams compete and learn what goes into a race, they will care a lot more about who wins the race.

The company has already begun preparation for the 2004 season, and is already producing in-depth interviews with the Champ Car drivers at this week’s 2004 Champ Car Season Premiere in Long Beach. In addition to the race production, Betelgeuse will also assist in the production of post-session video news releases as well as the popular satellite media tour Sunday night at the track. The satellite media tour allows television stations from around the country to conduct live one-on-one interviews with the Champ Car race winner directly after the event for use on their local sportscasts.

3/9/04

Trans-Am announces GT-1 category   In order to better facilitate GT-1 involvement and development in the Motorock Trans-Am Series, the GT-1 program will be expanded in Trans-Am for 2004. The enhanced program, called the GT-1 Development Program, will continue to award a GT-1 Drivers’ Championship, presented for the first time in 2003, and will further recognize the importance of GT-1 involvement in Trans-Am competition.

“The Trans-Am GT-1 Development Program will address every facet of competition,” said Motorock Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett. “From technical specifications, to more visibility, to financial help, the program is designed specifically to attract more GT-1 teams to Trans-Am.

“The key to the future of any racing series is creating and maintaining a vibrant driver and team development system,” added Clagett. “We believe that GT-1 participation is key to Trans-Am’s future. We recognize the symbiotic relationship between GT-1 and Trans-Am, and the GT-1 Development Program will further that bond in more ways than ever before.”

In order to create more visibility, the GT-1 Development Program will recognize the highest-finishing GT-1 competitor at each event during winner’s circle festivities. The top-finishing GT-1 driver will also be invited to take part in post-race media interviews, and, when possible, will participate in television interviews.

Also, those competitors winning GT-1 races at the SCCA Valvoline Runoffs at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and the June Sprints at Road America, will be presented a GT-1 Trans-Am Series Support Package, which includes, among other things, free entries to Trans-Am Series races.

GT-1 competitors will continue to be eligible for regular Trans-Am championship points, contingency monies and race awards. Special GT-1 contingency awards are also being planned.

Clagett said a comprehensive rules package is being formulated to better address GT-1 teams’ unique needs and make participation in Trans-Am more financially feasible.

“We are researching specifications, including those governing engine displacement and compression ratios, to allow for a more seamless transition from GT-1 to Trans-Am,” said Clagett. “Certain rules regarding tire and wheel choices and safety will remain in force. However, other rules are being reviewed with a clean-slate approach in hopes of attracting a wider GT-1 field. We plan to release those rules in the near future.

“We recognize the importance of making GT-1 teams feel welcome in Trans-Am. This program is part of an overall effort to encourage that,” concluded Clagett.

3/9/04

Trans-Am announces 10-race schedule  

April 18, Long Beach, Calif., Temporary Street Course
June 19, Portland Int’l Raceway, Permanent Road Course
June 27, Infineon Raceway, Permanent Road Course
July 2, Cleveland, Temporary Airport Course
July 11, Toronto, Ontario, Temporary Street Course
Aug. 1, Trois-Rivières, Temporary Street Course
Aug. 7, Road America, Permanent Road Course
Aug. 14, Denver, Temporary Street Course
Sept. 11, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Permanent Road Course
Oct. 10*, Puerto Rico, Temporary Airport Course
*Pending FAA approval.

3/9/04

SCCA to sanction Trans-Am   The Motorock Trans-Am Series has signed a sanctioning agreement with SCCA Pro Racing for 2004, while Champ Car will take over operations of the Series this season. The agreements, which take effect immediately, were announced today by Motorock Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett, SCCA Pro President Steve Johnson, and Champ Car World Series President Dick Eidswick.

The agreements continue a relationship between Trans-Am and SCCA dating back to 1966.

“This unique sanctioning and operations agreement allows the Trans-Am Series to have the best of both worlds,” said Clagett. “SCCA Pro, which owns the Trans-Am brand, is an integral part of the Series’ long history, and will continue its long-standing tradition of supplying the nation’s premiere corner workers and race-weekend staff. SCCA’s 109 proud regions can continue to take delight in being part of Trans-Am, North America’s leading form of sedan sports car racing.

“The addition of Champ Car will integrate Trans-Am with a great motorsports organization, known for its world-renowned safety team, its top-notch technology department, as well as its strengths in administration, insurance, public relations and marketing,” added Clagett. “The integration also allows for greater efficiency in terms of operations, making Trans-Am stronger, operationally speaking, than ever before.”

“It’s important for SCCA to remain involved with the series it started in the 1960s,” SCCA Pro Racing President Steve Johnson said. “We are happy to provide sanction to the Motorock Trans-Am Series, and look forward to the beginning of its 2004 season.”

“We are pleased to take over operations of Trans-Am in 2004,” said Eidswick. “The Trans-Am Series boasts a history unequaled in North American auto racing. I think this agreement will yield significant benefits to Trans-Am and Champ Car.”

3/9/04

Champ Car pilots get extra boost from push-to-pass button  In an effort to make for more competition on the race track and to increase passing opportunities for the drivers, the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford and Cosworth Racing announced today that they have developed a ‘push-to-pass’ mechanism for the Ford-Cosworth XFE racing engines in 2004.

The innovation will give drivers a chance to increase their boost from 41.5 to 44 inches of mercury with the push of a button, a system that will give them an extra 50 horsepower per use. The drivers will have the ability to use the increased boost for a total of 60 seconds per race, a time that is equivalent to five applications on the average main straightaway of a Champ Car circuit.

“We wanted to put give our drivers more of an opportunity to make passes and compete for position and we think this will play a key role in that,” said Champ Car Technical Director Lee Dykstra. “Champ Car Director of Electronics Kevin Vander Laan and others in our organization have worked very hard to develop this new application and we expect it to make for more exciting racing.”

The normal 41.5-inch level of boost will be controlled by engine sensors that will measure the boost before it reaches the pop-off valve, with the maximum 44 inches of boost regulated by the pop-off valve. The pop-off valves will continue to be maintained by Champ Car and distributed to the teams at the track during race weekends.

“This gives us another opportunity to further develop our engines and we are very pleased with the progress to this point,” said Vice-President of Cosworth Racing Inc. Ian Bisco. “The Champ Car World Series gives Cosworth Racing the chance to be creative and that is a big reason why we are involved in the series.”

To allow fans and television viewers the opportunity to recognize how the drivers are using the new system, the Champ Car television production crew will monitor each time that the system is used, letting fans know how much time each driver has remaining in his boost reserve. The production crew will also track the tendencies of the drivers in helping fans determine when their favorite driver might be more apt to use his allotment.

“This new push-to-pass system when combined with the other competition rules in place for 2004 will make for very exciting racing,” said Executive Vice-President of Operations John Lopes. “We have developed all of our rules for 2004 with the racing fans in mind as well as the drivers and teams and we feel that we have come up with a package that will make for a great on-track product this year.”

3/9/04

RuSPORT announces two partnerships  RuSPORT driver A.J. Allmendinger announces today that he will join the Red Bull family of athletes beginning with the 2004 Champ Car World Series. Red Bull is the manufacturer and distributor of the well-known energy drink. As part of the new relationship, the distinctive Red Bull logo will adorn the helmet of the 2003 Toyota Atlantic Champion and Champ Car rookie. With this announcement, Allmendinger will join the diverse roster of Red Bull Athletes in North America, which includes AMA Superbike stars Eric and Ben Bostrom, U.S. Olympic alpine skier Daron Rahlves, and women’s mountain bike champion Marla Streb to name a few. “I’m really excited about joining the Red Bull family of athletes,” said the 21-year-old Allmendinger. “You don’t need to look hard to notice that I am in a pretty privileged group. They really are a family and I, along with the rest of RuSPORT, am looking forward to building that bond and representing them in the winner’s circle very soon.”

Champ Car World Series team RuSPORT today announced a new associate partnership with BG Products. As a new partner BG Products will be the official lubricants provider for RuSPORT. This relationship will include not only lubricants for the racecar and transporters, but also a variety of other products from the BG line. In addition, BG Products will offer technical support in the areas of lubricants and friction reduction. "BG Products is unwilling to settle for anything but the best in formulating its high quality products. In looking for the right partnership with the best opportunity in motorsports we found RuSPORT and A.J. Allmendinger," said Sherry Huxtable, BG Racing & Promotions Manager. "We believe our two teams have the same goals and the same high quality ideals. We are thrilled to partner with this fine organization and look forward to sharing many trips to victory lane, both on and off the track." “We are very pleased to have formed a partnership with BG Products,” expressed team owner Carl Russo. “The more we looked into BG the more impressed we became with the size and scope of their operation in particular their technical ability which we feel will be an invaluable asset to us in our first year of Champ Car. That coupled with their tremendous growth curve over the last 30 years led us to believe that we were two cultures very much in sync with one another. To that end we look forward to our respective contributions toward each others continued growth.” Founded in 1971 and based in Wichita, Kansas, BG Products, Inc manufactures and distributes a broad line of specialty lubricants, greases and chemicals throughout the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East using a network of independent distributors. BG Products are used extensively in automotive, marine, industrial, heavy equipment, trucking and fleet applications.

3/9/04

Champ Car series to sponsor the X Prize Foundation  UPDATE We added a photo of one of the X-Prize challengers.  3/8/04 - The Champ Car World Series announced today that they will be the presenting sponsor of the X Prize, an international $10 million prize to the first team to design and successfully fly a space plane that will take passengers into outer space and back.

3/9/04

Champ Car unveils new TV package  Champ Car unveiled their new TV package for 2004 today in Long Beach.  Here are some highlights:

  1. All 2004 races on Spike TV, formerly TNN.  All races will be at 4:00 PM on a Sunday no matter where you live.  There will be a 1/2 hour pre-race show on Sundays as well.

  2. All races, qualifying, practice, interviews, pre-race, etc. will be shown live on HD Net also.  Spike TV is in 86 million homes on basic cable.

  3. Modeled after NASCAR, for $9.95 per month, All races, qualifying, practice, interviews, pre-race, etc. will be shown live on the internet anywhere in the world.  First month will be free.  Global Media Services, also out of NY City, will do the internet services.

  4. A story previously broke here on AutoRacing1.com, a multi-Emmy award winning production company called Betelgeuse will do all the TV production work.

  5. In the booth will be Tommy Kendall and Bob Jenkins.  Derek Daly will be the pit reporter.  Alex Tagliani's wife, Bronte, will do lifestyle reporting.

  6. The crispness and quality of all formats, including regular TV, will be better because high definition cameras are being used for everything.

  7. The wide-format of HD will allow additional graphics and statistics to be shown to the viewer.

  8. 24 one-half hour shows will be produced to show pre-race and at other times.

  9. Perhaps the most important aspect - Viacom will market the Champ Car series and the broadcast on all its properties, including CBS, MTV, etc.

3/9/04

Robby Gordon to run Indy 500  UPDATE Below are select quotes from Monday's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED Channel. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Robby Gordon talked exclusively with Despain about his plans to compete in "The Double" in 2004 -- the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600.

Gordon on his 2004 plans to run the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day: "We are going to drive for Meijer stores in a Chevrolet-powered Dallara that we are going to prepare in-house at Robby Gordon Motorsports. We've hired Thomas Knapp to engineer and manage the operation -- the guy I came close to winning the Indy 500 with in 1999. Tom prepares a very good race car and I've been very pleased with the cars he has prepared for me and helped me with in the past, and felt that he'd be the right guy to lead up this camp."

Gordon on whether or not he can compete with Penske and Ganassi at Indy: "We only go to Indianapolis to win. The first thing is to go there and be competitive and hopefully beat Penske and Ganassi. ... I think driving a Dallara last year was part of the decision to drive a Dallara this year. The car is the same spec for the next three, so that takes care of the chassis. Thomas Knapp is very experienced and has a car on the front row there four or five of the last seven or eight years."

Responding to Despain's question about what he would see if he walked into Robby Gordon Motorsports today and asked to see the IndyCar department: "At 12 o'clock today, you wouldn't have seen much of a race team. But at 6:30 we got our first Dallara. It arrived at the shop from Italy and we got it out of the crate. It came into the country today and was brought up from Atlanta. So, we do have the car on the stands in the shop in Huntersville (N.C.). We have not received our Chevrolet 3.0 engine yet. The 3.5 engine should be here real soon, so that we can get the car assembled, get it plum and get it up and running. Our first test is going to be 27th and 28th of April -- and we will have the 3.0 engine package by then."

On the Double-Double (Indy qualifying falls on the same day as the Richmond NEXTEL Cup Series race: "That does throw a little kink in the plans, but one thing about it is that I do drive for a very established NEXTEL Cup Series team that is well prepared. So, once we are done on Friday, I can hop over (to Indianapolis) because we don't have anything to do until five o'clock. ... With the program we have in place with the team at RCR and Thomas Knapp and the group over at our shop -- provided we work together and communicate - it should be OK."  3/8/04 - Robby Gordon will be an owner-driver in this May's 88th Indianapolis 500, racing a Chevrolet-powered Dallara chassis, with major support from traditional Indy team sponsor Meijer. Gordon, who will be in his 10th Indianapolis 500, is the only driver currently planning to compete in both the Indy 500 on May 30 and in that evening's Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR event in Charlotte, in the Cingular Wireless Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Richard Childress Racing. This will be the fourth consecutive year that Gordon will attempt what has come to be known as the "Double." The red-and-white Meijer Dallara-Chevy, and a backup, will carry No. 70 in celebration of Meijer stores' 70th year of business. The cars will be prepared at the Robby Gordon Motorsports headquarters in Huntersville, N.C., before setting-up shop in Indy's "Gasoline Alley" for the start of practice on May 9. Pole qualifying is May 15. Gordon also fields his own Fruit of the Loom Chevy in selected NASCAR Busch Series events, as well as a Chevrolet off-road racing truck. Thomas Knapp will be Gordon's engineer. They worked together in the 1999 Indy 500, when Gordon came within two laps of winning, but ran out of fuel and finished a career-best fourth.

"Thanks to Meijer and Chevrolet, we've been able to put together a very solid program for the Indy 500," said Gordon, 35. "Robby Gordon Motorsports has the experience, people and facilities to put a competitive car on the track and now we also have the right group of sponsors and technical partners. "As a racer, I love the challenge we'll face in May. Practice and qualifying at Indy, plus the NASCAR races at Richmond and Charlotte, will make for a very busy month but we know how to organize and coordinate all the details. I also want to thank Richard Childress and everyone at RCR for their help and for supporting me as I keep working to achieve all my career goals." Meijer, which operates 158 stores in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky, has been an Indy 500 sponsor for several years. Gordon has raced Chevrolets to all three of his career NASCAR Cup victories and also has been a Chevy driver in other series. "I feel it's a compliment that Meijer chose to continue its Indy 500 sponsorship with my team and we're committed to doing a good job representing Meijer," said Gordon. "Chevrolet has been very important in my career and its success at Indy and in NASCAR is respected by fans everywhere. We've all seen how good the current Chevy Indy V-8 is and I have no doubt my Meijer Dallara will benefit from lots of Chevy power."

3/9/04

No 2nd car for Team Rahal   At the Team Rahal press conference today, Bobby Rahal laid to rest any rumors that his team would expand to a 2-car effort in 2004.  "We were talking to some drivers earlier on but those deals did not materialize.  Now it's too late and we are going to focus on making Michel Jourdain the 2004 champion."

3/9/04

Kendall to drive for Gentilozzi   Four-time Motorock Trans-Am Series Drivers’ Champion Tommy Kendall will drive the full 2004 Trans-Am schedule for Rocketsports Racing. Kendall will compete in a Jaguar XKR powered by Jaguar’s stock-block, four-valve, fuel-injected engine debuted by Rocketsports last year. The announcement was made at a Trans-Am press luncheon, during the Champ Car Season Premiere in Long Beach, Calif.

Kendall, the Series’ only four-time titleholder, will attempt to surpass the win record held by late Trans-Am legend Mark Donohue. Kendall, who has 26 career victories in Trans-Am competition, needs just four more wins to eclipse Donohue’s mark.

“I’m very excited to return to Trans-Am with Rocketsports Racing,” said Kendall, who last competed in Trans-Am in 1997 and most recently worked as a television commentator on Champ Car World Series broadcasts. ”This came out of the blue. I’d been missing racing for several years. After the end of the TV season last year, I decided that it was time to dedicate myself to driving in 2005. My plan was to get in shape, get sharp and get ready for ’05. Then, low and behold, the phone rang and Paul (Gentilozzi) offered me the job. I had to jump at this tremendous opportunity.

“The car and team have always been the most important part of the equation for me,” added Kendall, who drove for Roush Racing from 1993-1997 and C&C Racing from 1989-90. He made his Trans-Am debut in 1987 as an owner/driver. “I understood the importance of a good team since early in my career, and that is part of the reason I’ve had so much success. I was never willing do it unless I had the equipment I needed to win. I’m very excited about being with a team of the caliber of Rocketsports Racing. I raced against them a lot. We were bitter rivals, making for more than a little bit of irony in this deal.”

Rocketsports Racing team owner Paul Gentilozzi echoed Kendall’s comments.

“We've been battling it out in Trans-Am for years, so for us to come together on the Rocketsports/Jaguar team seems ironic,” said Gentilozzi, a three-time Drivers’ Champion himself. “We were actually teammates once, in the 1993 Lime Rock IMSA race, but we've been rivals for so long, we're a bit of an odd couple.

“This will be an excellent season on the track,” added Gentilozzi, “and I do plan to give Tommy some competition whenever I can.”

The list of Kendall’s Trans-Am accomplishments is long and significant. Kendall is also the only driver to win three-straight Trans-Am titles, from 1995-1997. He also won the championship in 1990. His 11-race win streak in 1997 remains the longest in Series history. The streak also gave Kendall the most victories in one season, one more than Donohue.

Kendall also holds the Trans-Am pole record with 39 fast-qualifying efforts. In all, Kendall has 26 victories, 53 podiums, 63 top fives, 72 top tens and 23 fast race laps. Kendall has also competed in IROC competition six times and has made 11 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup starts.

In 1998, Kendall became the only SCCA driver since George Follmer, in 1972, to win the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association’s (AARWBA) Driver of the Year Award.

“We are delighted to welcome Tommy Kendall back to Trans-Am Series competition,” said Motorock Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett. “No other driver can boast the success and excitement Tommy has generated during his Trans-Am career.

“This year, Tommy will have his sights set on the win record held by Mark Donohue; a mark many believed would never be broken,” added Clagett. “He is truly a living Trans-Am legend.”

Kendall said he is looking forward to competing this year. However, he knows he has a bit of a learning curve coming off his six-year retirement.

“Obviously, I’m here to win races,” said Kendall. “I have a great team behind me, and I know we’ll be in contention. But a lot has changed since I left. The tires are different, the aero package is different, the differentials are different, the overall weight of the cars is different, and the horsepower is up. There are also a lot of new competitors as well. I’m certainly not a rookie, but I have a lot of work to do. I’ll be a little hard on myself until I am back to where I was when I left.”

Through all of his accomplishments, Kendall still has one jewel missing from his crown: a Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach victory. Kendall came close to winning the Long Beach Trans-Am race in 1996, earning the pole and leading the most laps before falling out with ignition problems.

“Long Beach is the biggest race in my world,” said Kendall, who grew up and resides in Santa Monica, Calif. “I grew up going to the Grand Prix of Long Beach. I’ve been going since 1980. I’ve won the Pro Celebrity race there, but the Trans-Am race is what I’m all about.”  Photo by Mike Levitt/LAT.

3/9/04
World Series by Nissan

Camathias lands drive in Nissan series   The Swiss driver Joel Camathias has arrived at Jarama and tomorrow he will drive for Saulnier Racing, the French team of the World Series by Nissan. Camathias will be transferred to Barcelona where the Collective tests will continue. Saulnier Racing is looking forward to get an agreement with the driver and get him a ful job in the World Series by Nissan, as explains team-owner Serge Saulnier: “In fact we will work for the test but the Team and the driver himself would do the best to get an agreement for the current season” For Camathias, tomorrow will be quite a special day, as he doesn’t drive a single-seater since the last race disputed at Laguna Seca: “The most important thing tomorrow is to get confident with the car. We can still work during the test days at Barcelona. I hope that we go forward in our relationship with the Team Saulnier Racing”. The young Swiss driver has already participated in many single-seater competitions. After racing in the Formula Nissan two years (1999-2000), he took part in the F3000 International Championship (5th at Interlagos), and then he disputed 4 races of EuroF3000 in 2002 (1 pole). In 2003 he moved to the Champ Car Series where he took part in 7 races (9th in St. Petersburg).

3/9/04

Newman/Haas unveils 3-year McDonald's deal   The Newman/Haas team unveiled their 2004 cars today in Long Beach and announced a new full-time 3-year deal with McDonald's to sponsor Sebastien Bourdais. Recall last year that they only sponsored the car for a few races.  PacifiCare is the sponsor for Bruno Junqueira.  They are in the 2nd year of a three year deal.  We were told the McDonald's deal is very big and they are happy to be associated with Paul Newman. As for Cialis, they are gone for now. Why? Because their product was approved just when the CART bankruptcy was finalizing, and they had to move with their marketing immediately, they chose to do more TV advertising for now. However, the team is still very hopeful of landing them as a sponsor, possibly for a third car at some point.  Press Release: Leading global food service retailer McDonald's® and four-time championship winning team Newman/Haas Racing announced today that McDonald's would become primary sponsor of the car to be driven by Sebastien Bourdais in the 2004 Champ Car World Series. In 2003, McDonald's appeared three times as co-primary sponsor of the No. 2 Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone race car of then-rookie Bourdais.

"I'm delighted that McDonald's has extended the family relationship to include not only Newman's Own salad dressings but to also embrace our Newman/Haas Racing family that competes in the Champ Car World Series," said Paul Newman, who with racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, co-own Newman/Haas Racing, the winningest active team in the Champ Car World Series which will hold events in five different countries this season.

"As our relationship with Newman's Own continues to expand in our restaurants, this sponsorship with Newman/Haas gives us another exciting extension to support our partnership," said John Lewicki, Director, Alliances, McDonald's USA.

McDonald's is the world's leading foodservice retailer, with more than 30,000 restaurants serving nearly 46 million people in more than 100 countries each day. Approximately 80 percent of McDonald's U.S. restaurants are owned and operated by independent local businessmen and women.

Newman's Own is an all-natural line of food products created by Paul Newman. Paul Newman donates all his profits, after taxes, from the sale of these products for educational and charitable purposes. Paul Newman has donated over $125 million to thousands of charities since 1982.

Both Paul Newman and Carl Haas are confident the Team is well positioned to win the 2004 Champ Car title. Newman/Haas Racing, owned by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, is the most successful team competing in the Champ Car World Series. The team will begin their 22nd season in Champ Car competition in 2004 and will attempt to score their fifth overall title after winning 73 races and 77 pole positions. Current drivers Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais were preceded at the team by Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta. For more information log on to www.newman-haas.com, www.brunojunqueira.com, www.sebastienbourdais.com or www.champcarworldseries.com.

3/9/04

Fernández loses Tecate backing, gains replacement Fernández Racing revealed their new Champ Car for 2004 and the big change is the loss of Tecate sponsorship.  It has been replaced with "Visit Mexico" and as we understand it is paid for by the Mexico tourism industry.  We were told that Tecate is going to do more Champ Car race sponsorship and track signage instead.

3/9/04

Summary of Champ Car rules changes  A press conference was held today in Long Beach to discuss all the rules changes for 2004. Here is a summary:

  1. Push-to-pass - to help eliminate boring follow-the-leader racing on tight street circuits, each driver will have 60 seconds of total time per race with 50 additional HP (equivalent to 2.5 inches of boost pressure).  System will start working at 85% throttle and stop working when the throttle drops below 85%.  Simulations show that the longest straight, Mexico City, would use up 17 seconds of the 60 allotment if the driver were to use the button the entire straight.  Therefore, each driver will have more than 5 pushes per race to use the button, except Mexico City perhaps.  A question was asked during the conference, isn't this like a video game?  The answer is this is no more artificial than drafting to make a pass on an oval that requires almost zero driver talent.  Data will be sent back to the pit crews and to the fans on TV so they can monitor how a driver uses his button historically as well as how much he has used it for the race they are watching up to that point.  A lot of various strategies will come into play.  The first on-track test of the push-to-pass button will be this week at Firebird.

  2. Races will be about 12% shorter this year to make sure there is time to finish a race and interview the top-3 afterwards.

  3. They discussed the 2 or 3 green flag pit stops that was covered in a previous press release.  Should further eliminate fuel economy runs.  If driver is entering pits when a full course yellow flies, whatever the track is (green or yellow) when he crosses the pit line will determine if the stop is a green flag stop or yellow flag stop.  Green flag stops must be completed prior to 15 min. before the end of the race.

  4. One extra set of tires (use them or lose them) will be given to teams to encourage more running on Fridays.

  5. Points were changed per previous press release and the reasons why as outlined at that time.

  6. Aero changes - teams will have more areas on the car that they can develop to gain an advantage.  Still can't touch underside of the car.

  7. Timing line will be placed before the pit entrance so drivers car pit right after a hot lap in practice or qualifying without the need for a cool down lap.  S/F will still be at the flag stand to determine the positions at the end of a race.

  8. Pole sitter will control start of race as outlined in previous press release.  He must cross the start line first.  If he misses a shift, the arguments will start.

  9. Safety team will service four series this year - Formula BMW, Trans-Am, Atlantics and Champ Cars.  Extricating a driver out of a car with a roof over their head will be new for the Champ Car team.

  10. Officials now will have new video system to record all 20 cameras around the track to review video and make a call on a penalty situation.  They won't have to go back to the TV guys to ask for a video.

  11. Race control will have their own private frequency that can't be monitored by anyone with a scanner.  Fans can still hear officials talking to teams, corner workers and the safety crews.

  12. The next generation Champ Car will be 2006 at the earliest.

  13. Standing starts - won't happen as we previously reported, not until Champ Car eliminates its antiquated mechanical throttle linkage and replaces it with fly-by-wire.  Stalling at the start is the biggest issue.  Safety is the concern.  In our discussions with Cosworth Engineers, we devised this possible future scenario - If fly-by-wire is implemented then engines can be programmed with a "standing start" steering wheel mounted button that will hold the cars at a high enough RPM so that engines would not stall on the grid.  Driver might get too much wheel spin if he engages clutch too quickly, but he should not stall it.  Once driver engages clutch and/or applies full throttle standing start computer routine would return full control to the driver.  By the way - the Formula BMW drivers will do standing starts.  We guess the youngsters can be trusted to do standing starts, but not the more experienced Champ Car drivers.   A sad commentary indeed.

3/9/04
Industry News

Photographer Flores found dead  UPDATE The memorial will be Sunday from: 2:00 - 4:00
At Starry Plough (Irish Pub) in Berkeley
3101 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94705 ( Between Ashby and Alcatraz )
Ph.(510) 841-2082
For directions - go to:
http://www.starryploughpub.com and click on MAP  3/8/04 - Racing photographer Art Flores was found dead in his home in Alameda, California, today by his sister and brother-in-law. "It's not yet clear when or how he died. That's all we know so far," said Brooke Disbrow, a friend of Flores. Flores was the Photo Steward for the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association, and a well-known photographer in both the Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League. He was also the Executive Vice-President of the Motor Sports Press Association, a northwestern U.S. organization of writers and photographers. "He championed the rights of photographers through many years as a member of AARWBA and the American Racing Press Association," said Racing Information Systems Editor Michael F. Hollander. "His work has appeared in many, many magazines over the years. His voice for reason and freedom to shoot will be missed."

3/9/04

Fernández team files first 500 entry   Super Aguri Fernandez Racing filed an entry for the 2004 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on March 4, becoming the first team to officially enter the 88th running of the world's greatest auto race. Indy Racing League(R) IndyCar(R) Series rookie Kosuke Matsuura was named as the driver on the entry.  The 88th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 30 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Entries must be postmarked by midnight March 31. Qualifications for the 33-car starting field begin on Pole Day, Saturday, May 15.  Matsuura, from Aichi, Japan, will drive the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone in the event after completing the Rookie Orientation Program. A backup car also has been entered.  Steve Ragan is the chief mechanic, with Tom Anderson the team manager. Open-wheel veteran Adrian Fernandez and former Formula One driver Aguri Suzuki own the team. Roger Yasukawa finished 10th last year in the team's inaugural Indianapolis 500 entry.  Matsuura finished 11th in the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 on Feb. 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He was the top-finishing rookie in his series debut.

3/9/04

Champ Car lights the wrong race A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I think OWRS made a mistake.  They should have kept Cleveland as a night race, not Milwaukee.  It is so darn hot and humid in Cleveland in July last year's night race was a welcome relief.  In Milwaukee, because the race is in early June, we nearly froze to death at night.  OWRS would be wise to make Milwaukee a day race and spend their money on lighting for Cleveland.  It might cost a bit more in Cleveland, but if they don't do this attendance will drop back off again this year.  Anthony Steele, Mansfield

3/9/04

Indy 500 could see reduced fields  [Editor's note:  Because of the IRL engine rule change, we hear the manufacturers have put Tony George on notice there won't be more than 28 cars this year, and if a lot of engines blow during the month of May, even less.   We recall Tony George distinctly saying when he created the IRL one of his reasons was that he wanted to ensure full fields for the 500, that CART was getting too expensive to do that.  Now that the sport is all but destroyed by creating the IRL, he is faced with an even bigger problem.]  Two of the Indianapolis 500's most time-honored traditions could be changed after this year's race, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George said Monday.

George said the May schedule could be shortened for 2005 and the number of cars allowed to start future 500s also might be reduced.

The size of the field is being driven by dwindling participation in the Indy Racing League, which sanctions this year's 16-race season that includes the Indy 500. Only 19 cars were at this year's season-opening race Feb. 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That's three fewer cars than regularly participated in IRL races in 2003.

George said he expects the IRL to struggle to get 33 cars at the Speedway this year. Just 33 participated last year. That number was reached only when several teams stepped forward late in the month.

"It's getting harder and harder to put a lot of cars on the track," George said. "I think we'll get there (to 33) this year, but there's no reason why we have to force it in the future."

The Indy 500 adopted its 33-car lineup in 1934 based on a formula that included the average speed of the cars -- approximately 115 mph -- and the size of the track.

George said other Speedway employees are more concerned with the traditional 33-car field than he is. He noted that most forms of motorsports, including NASCAR's Nextel Cup division, are struggling to attract teams in a tight economy. NASCAR officials have talked about cutting back on the number of starters, too.

"I asked myself, if we change (the starting number) up or down, what does that really do?" George said. "Whether it's 33 (cars) at Indy or 43 at a NASCAR race, it's just a number. There have been races where I was uncomfortable with the quality of some of the cars, and they were there just for the sake of hitting some number.

"I actually think we should reduce it; that's how I feel today. But that might change next week, next month or next year."  Indy Star

3/9/04

Chevy teams looking for help  the GM camp is quietly lobbying NASCAR for a new nose for their one-year old Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The very same nose that led to a near panic in ‘03 when its odd shape seemed to give the Monte a lot of bang for the buck. Ford Racing

3/9/04

HSBC signs $18 million F1 deal  British global banking giant HSBC Group has inked an 18-million US dollar deal with Formula One organizers to sponsor Shanghai's first- ever Grand Prix, Chinese official press reported Tuesday. "An agreement was finalized on February 27 between HSBC and All Sports," the Shanghai Daily quoted a source close to the negotiations as saying. "The deal is worth more than 10 million pounds (18.4 million dollars)," the source said.

3/9/04

Malaysian elections clash with GP  The Malaysian general elections will take place on the same day as the Formula 1 Grand Prix, but the race organizers say that this should not present any problems despite the fact that voters have to go back to their hometowns to vote and thus visitors from outside the Kuala Lumpur may have to choose between watching the race or voting. Grandprix.com

3/9/04

Seoul track revealed  UPDATE We spoke to the Seoul promoter, Yong Kim, on Monday.  We learned that the 2004 track in Seoul is about 1.4 miles long, which is rather short in our book (think Miami).  The track is planned to be lengthened to 2.0-miles in 2005.  The government wanted to monitor the environmental impacts this year before putting down more asphalt in the park.  A big attendance is expected from this city of 20-million people. 3/6/04 -  In an AutoRacing1.com exclusive, we reveal the soon to be announced Seoul, South Korea GP Champ Car circuit.  The promoter for the Seoul race will be in Long Beach next week for the formal announcement.  See our previous article on this race.  Related image showing view of area around track.

3/9/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Schumacher In Renault Switch
Teams Unlikely To Shake-Up System
Tires Stole Ferrari Victory
Renault Skirt Launch-Control Rule
Montoya Blasts Schumacher
Toyota Take Comfort In Engine
Barrichello Eyes 'Best Shot'
F1 Must Wait For Long-Term Future
Is It NOW Time To Write-Off McLaren?
Aussie Fans Given F1 Guided-Tour
F1 Backmarkers Rue Widening Gap
Montoya 'Came To Terms' With Williams
Webber In Foul Mood 'Down Under'

3/9/04

Champ Car announces 2004 16 race schedule UPDATE Hearing that the Durban, South Africa race won't happen in 2004 (look for it in 2005) and we are, therefore, speculating that the Champ Car Series will run on Sunday September 26th at Road Atlanta, the day after the 6-hour Petit LeMans race which ends Saturday night at Road Atlanta.  If our speculation is right, it will be a road racing doubleheader of major proportions and sure to excite ALMS and Champ Car fans alike.  If our speculation is wrong on Road Atlanta, a number of other possible venues exist.  3/8/04 -   April 18 – Long Beach, California – Street Course
May 23 – Monterrey, Mexico – Road Course
June 5 – The Milwaukee Mile – Oval
June 20 – Portland International Raceway – Road Course
July 3 – Cleveland, Ohio - Road Course
July 11 – Toronto, Ontario, Canada – Street Course
July 25 – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – Street Course
August 8 – Road America – Road Course
August 15 – Denver, Colorado – Street Course
August 29 – Montreal, Quebec, Canada – Road Course
September 12 – Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – Road Course
September - TBA (Road Atlanta?)
October 17 – Seoul, South Korea – Street Course
October 24 – Surfers Paradise, Australia – Street Course
November 7 – Mexico City, Mexico – Road Course
November – TBA (Las Vegas)

3/8/04

Tagliani reveals number change on Rocketsports car  Rocketsports Racing driver, Alex Tagliani, will take the No. 8 Rocketsports/Johnson Controls Lola to the track for the 2004 Champ Car World Series. Tagliani dropped the number 33, which he was given at the start of his Champ Car career, for the favorable single digit and explained, “eight was the number I chose for the first kart I raced as a kid. I’ve wanted to change my number for some time and I’m glad the opportunity has come.” Tagliani revealed the Lola bearing his new number at the Champ Car Season Premiere. The Champ Car also carried the names of returning associate sponsors Microchip, Futaba and Montreal-based, Saputo. In addition to a new number, Tagliani welcomed his new teammate, Nelson Philippe, who will be driving the No. 17 Rocketsports/LeasePlan Lola. Tagliani looks forward to working with the French rookie, and benefiting from the strength of a two-car outfit. Earlier this season Rocketsports also welcomed engineer Brian Ma to take the lead on Tagliani’s Lola and engineer Alain Clarinval to Philippe’s No.17 car. In addition to adding a full new crew for the second car, the reputable, Robin Hill, joined Rocketsports to serve as Crew Chief for both cars. The second year Rocketsports team heads into the 2004 season armed with a year of experience and the desire to compete that’s stronger than ever. Rocketsports drivers, Alex Tagliani and Nelson Philippe head to the first Champ Car event, the Long Beach Grand Prix, on April 16-18, 2004 in southern California.

3/8/04

We speak to Dan Pettit  We had the chance to speak to Kevin Kalkhoven's partner Dan Pettit today in Long Beach.  Dan is very well grounded and it was interesting to hear how many venture capital businesses they are involved with together.  Dan admitted his background is on the financial end of the business, but he is excited about getting involved with the Champ Car program.  He has a Gulfstream 500 on order, the same plane that Kevin bought last year.  Gulfstream is an associate sponsor on both cars. 

3/8/04

BMW joins Champ Car series  UPDATE Here is the official press release from BMW.  3/8/04 -  Formula BMW was announced today as an official rung on the Champ Car World Series ladder system.  There is no question that this program is well funded and here to stay.  Champ Car will sanction the series.  2004 Schedule

4/12-13 Official test - Sebring

4/22 Official test - Putnam Park

5/12-13 Official test Mid-Ohio

5/28-31 Race 1, 2  Lime Rock

6/11-13 Race 3, 4 Canadian GP

6/18-20 Race 5, 6 USGP at Indy

7/1-3 Race 7, 8 Cleveland w/Champ Car

8/6-8 Race 9, 10 Road America w/Champ Car

8/13-15 Race 11, 12 Denver w/Champ Car

9/10-12 Race 13, 14 Laguna Seca w/Champ Car

3/8/04

Nextel International Holdings sponsors 2-car PKV Racing program   PKV Racing announced a 2-car team with drivers Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Gonzalez as drivers and Nextel International as the primary sponsor.  Nextel International is the holding company of all Nextel brands, including the USA arm that sponsors the NASCAR series.  The Champ Car deal is with the holding company NI Holdings formerly Nextel International Holdings.  To avoid confusion with Nextel in the USA, the cars carry the NI logo and not the Nextel International name in the USA.  Outside the USA they will carry the Nextel name.  That may change when the holding company figures out how they want to market the Nextel name with both now being involved.  Gulfstream Jets is an  associate Sponsor.  The cars have a beautiful paint scheme, and as all Champ Car teams should be - both cars carry the identical paint scheme.

3/8/04

Highlights of OWRS conference  

  • 16-race schedule was announced

  • Will have 18 cars for Long Beach, guaranteed

  • Cleveland back to day race for now

  • No more CART, now officially known to all as Champ Car World Series

  • Champ Car and Road America have mended the fences according to Paul Gentilozzi

  • Last race of 2004 will be 11/14 or 11/21.  Will be a domestic race

  • Very much would like to be in South Africa

  • Looking at adding a race in the NE and SE USA in the future

  • Motorock is on hiatus for this year, but it is not dead

  • Building for 2005.  Look for a lot of changes by 2005.

  • Conquest Racing car is on display with Mi-Jack sponsorship.  Mario Haberfeld is here and is hopeful of landing a ride.

  • Look for some softer Bridgestone tires later in year to mix things up

  • Champ Car promoting Portland and Cleveland.  IMG out of promoting business.

  • More later.....

3/8/04

Nelson Philippe confirmed at Rocketsports  

Rocketsports Racing announced today that it has signed young French driver Nelson Philippe to compete in the 2004 Champ Car World Series. The announcement was made at the Champ Car World Series Season Premiere in Long Beach, California. The personable 17 year old will take the wheel of the No. 17 Rocketsports/LeasePlan Lola, making him the youngest driver to enter the Champ Car championship. Philippe competed in the Barber Dodge Pro Series last season and has been testing with several Champ Car teams since September, 2003. He is delighted to secure a drive with one of the most competitive outfits in the series. “We have been in talks with several teams, but Rocketsports with team owner Paul Gentilozzi was the most appealing,” explained Philippe. “Paul has an impressive racing record of his own and his professional approach to racing was a very important element to me. I feel privileged to be part of the team.

“During a meeting with the crew earlier this year I felt they had strong team values. I can’t wait for the season to start, to get to know them better and become part of the family,” added Philippe. Philippe, a Miami resident, will partner Canadian Alex Tagliani in Rocketsports’ two-car assault in the 2004 Champ Car championship. “Alex is someone I respect a lot for his achievements and I am looking forward to learning as much as I can from his extensive experience in racing,” said Philippe about his new teammate. Team owner, Paul Gentilozzi welcomed the young gun, saying: “We have followed Nelson’s career development and monitored his testing sessions. When we got in touch with him we were impressed by his personality, which fits with our team philosophy, and we were glad to be able to sign him.

“We now have a very competitive line-up for this season, with Alex, who will be competing for regular podium positions, and Nelson, who can aim for a top-three finish in the rookie standings,” concluded Gentilozzi. Philippe is sponsored by LeasePlan, a leading global vehicle leasing and fleet management company, who have supported him since his early days in racing. “We have helped Nelson from a very young age when he was racing karts from Europe to South America to the United States,” said Bryan Calloway, LeasePlan USA’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, “and we are pleased to have watched him accomplish his many racing goals at such a quick pace. “LeasePlan felt supporting Nelson in the Champ Car World Series was our next logical step. We are very proud to be associated with such a young, driven and dedicated driver, and the Champ Car World Series is the perfect stage to showcase our unique partnership,” determined Calloway. Philippe will begin his journey as part of the Rocketsports team at the Champ Car World Series Season Premiere Fan Fest on March 9th from 5-8 PM at the Long Beach Convention Center Arena. He will then join the Rocketsports crew for testing in Phoenix, Arizona on March 11th.

3/8/04

John Andretti to testify on Senate panel    John Andretti, a NASCAR driver who understands commitment to the cause, will wear a different suit March 10 when he testifies before the full Senate Judiciary Committee in support of a constitutional amendment to return to the people their right to protect the American flag. Andretti, 40, of Mooresville, N.C. joins Medal of Honor recipient retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady and Harvard University law professor Richard Parker before the panel urging passage of Senate Joint Resolution 4. Andretti is joining with the Citizens Flag Alliance in the ongoing effort to see the will of the vast majority of Americans heeded by their elected lawmakers. Andretti, a family man, is concerned about the increasing tempo of activist judges in eroding the core values of the nation. Married with three children, Andretti represents well people with ‘middle-America values’ and they overwhelmingly support the return to Congress of the right to protect the American flag. Surveys consistently reveal more than 70 percent of Americans believe it is right to protect the American flag. The greatest support for the constitutional amendment is found among the youngest and oldest age groups. In a survey conducted for the Citizens Flag Alliance in 2003 80 percent of 18-24-year-olds favored the amendment and 85 percent of those above age 65. The Citizens Flag Alliance, Inc., is a coalition of more than 140 organizations, most of which are national in scope, that have come together for one reason: to persuade the Congress of the United States to propose a constitutional amendment to return to the people the right to protect the Flag of the United States from acts of physical desecration and send it to the states for ratification. For more information visit: www.cfa-inc.org.

3/8/04

Highlights of Forsythe Racing conference  

  • Gerald Forsythe is committed to the series, and they are hopeful to close their sponsorship announcements soon.

  • Rodolfo Lavín announced as new driver, Corona backing to be announced

  • Patrick Carpentier was up on the podium with the rest of the team.  He told AutoRacing1.com that Gerald Forsythe informed him Friday night that he is still a Forsythe driver but there is not enough funding to run him right now.  There are rumors he might drive for PK Racing, possibly funded by Forsythe.

  • Peter Davies: "In past were sponsored by a single company, so now they have to look for a whole compliment of sponsors."

  • Team is committed to seeing three drivers run full time in 2004.  May not all run with Forsythe Racing.

3/8/04

Herdez team prepares for 2004 season   Coming off the best season in their three-year history, Herdez Competition has spent the off-season expanding and improving for the 2004 Champ Car World Series. The team grew to a two-car effort in 2003 and enjoyed a successful transition, earning a one-two sweep at Miami; four podiums and Mario Dominguez’s sixth place finish in the series championship.

Since its inception in 2000, when it purchased the assets of Bettenhausen Motorsports, Herdez Competition has focused on building a race team that is centered on sound business principles. Managing Director/Co-Owner, Keith Wiggins, has targeted growth both on and off the track, “ 2003 was a pivotal year for the team in moving into a front-running position. By closely integrating the technical, operational and commercial aspects of the team, we are developing a solid business like organization in which each department understands and compliments each other’s objectives”.

As part of the team’s growth, the race shop has expanded by more than 60% since the end of the 2003 season, bringing all team facilities and equipment housed indoors, under one roof. The new facilities include a modern paint shop and a dedicated area for pit-stop practice and an area for the hospitality operations. Both Herdez Competition transporters and the team’s hospitality unit are now kept in-doors. “The expansion of the race shop allows us to manage all facets of the race-team under one roof and gives us more flexibility in development as a Championship contending race team” said team manager, Vince Kremer.

The engineering department, led by Technical Director Tom Brown has also transitioned during the off-season. Further staffing improvements have been made and the wind tunnel and seven-poster rig testing programs have continued. Brown was pleased with the gains the team made in 2003 but feels they will be even stronger in 2004. “2003 was a very critical year for our engineering department. We had a completely new structure and new organizational methods that enabled us to expand to two cars. With further improvements in that structure during the off-season, we are now exploring developments and improvements that were just dreams for us in the past,” said Brown.

The preparations continue for the 2004 Champ Car World Series, Herdez Competition has a rigorous test schedule planned prior to the season opener at the 30th running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. For more information please visit www.TeamHerdez.com

3/8/04

Ferrari team announces more drivers  The Barron Connor Racing team has signed former Le Mans class winner Jean-Denis Deletraz, GT star Mike Hezemans and the reigning European Ferrari 360 Champion Ange Barde to drive one of the two Ferrari 575 GTC cars that the team has entered for this year’s Sebring 12 Hours, the Le Mans 24 Hours and all the Le Mans Endurance Series races. Barron Connor co-founder and driver John Bosch said: “After signing Thomas (Biagi) to join me and Danny (Sullivan), we spoke to over 30 drivers, so making a decision took time. We are happy with the result, for both cars now have a strong driver line up, with a good mix of experience and success. Jean-Denis brings a lot of endurance racing success with him, including wins with the Ferrari 550, while Mike is arguably one of the best GT drivers around. I also know how good Ange is, having raced against him in the Ferrari championship. He won that title in 2001 and last year, while I won it in 2002. I think it is also great for Ferrari to have its 360 champions move up like this. In addition, Jean-Denis, Mike and Ange have all raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours, which is very important.”

3/8/04
SCCA

Champion Audi team returns with changes  The Champion Racing Audi RS 6 team returns to the SPEED World Challenge GT Series to defend last years Drivers’ Title (awarded to Randy Pobst) and Manufacturer’s Title. Teammates Randy Pobst and Michael Galati will reunite with Champion Racing (Pompano Beach, FL) in their quest for more victories sporting a new look and a new sponsor, Audi Certified pre-owned. The team will officially be called the Audi Certified Champion RS 6 Team. Supporting the winning efforts of the two car team is new sponsor Audi Certified pre-owned. Audi Certified pre-owned vehicles are fast becoming the most sought-after European import pre-owned vehicles. This comes as no surprise when you consider that German luxury cars, and Audis in particular, are engineered to be among the most innovative and exciting vehicles on the road. “My customers are the race fans, especially the young people who share the same emotional tie of passion for motorsports,” said Reinhard Fischer, Audi Certified pre-owned Corporate Sales Team Leader. “We want to capture those young people and let them know there is an affordable way to drive an Audi.”

3/8/04

ALMS gains oversees TV coverage  All American Le Mans Series races will be televised live in Europe for the first time in 2004, beginning with the 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, in a new television arrangement between the series and MotorsTV, a European television channel dedicated to the world of motorsports.

MotorsTV, which is distributed throughout Europe by both satellite and digital cable, in both English and French, and is one of the fastest-growing channels in Europe, will feature live coverage of all nine rounds of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), marking the first time in series history that the full season of racing will be televised live in Europe.

"This is a tremendous milestone for the American Le Mans Series," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the ALMS. "The roots of the ALMS are in Europe with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and many of our participating teams, manufacturers and sponsors are based there and can now watch the races live as they happen in North America.

"Equally important is that that fans of our series in Europe will have the benefit of live coverage instead of tape delay as it has been in the past," he said. "This new MotorsTV arrangement for Europe, coupled with the already-outstanding television coverage for the series in North America, vastly improves what was already the best television package for any sports car racing series in history."

"The American Le Mans Series is a wonderful championship, and an extraordinary addition to our program line-up," said Frederic Viger, MotorsTV Head of Programming. "It's endurance racing at the highest level, with mythic tracks and official involvment from the biggest manufacturers. The series has proved to be more and more successful over the years and we hope we'll be part of their future success for a long time. America and Le Mans are both dream-words for motorsports enthusiasts, and the dream will now be over 40 hours live on MotorsTV."

As part of the arrangement between MotorsTV and the American Le Mans Series, websites MotorsTV.Com and AmericanLeMans.Com will be linked in order to provide more information and entertainment value to respective audiences, and the ALMS and MotorsTV are in the process of exploring other synergies, including programming and promotional opportunities.

The American Le Mans Series will debut on MotorsTV with live coverage of the 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, America's oldest and most prestigious sports car race, on March 20. Motors TV will have 11 hours of live coverage from Sebring, beginning at 15h00. After another scheduled two-hour motorsports telecast at 18h00, MotorsTV will return to live Sebring coverage at 20h00 through the conclusion of the event, including post-race coverage. Live updates from Sebring will be included during the two-hour breakaway. (All times UK)

MotorsTV is available on digital cable in many European countries, including the United Kingdom (SKY Digital and Wight Cable), France (Canal Satellite, TPS, Noos, France Telecom and France Citevision, along with Canal Satellite Reunion, Canal Satellite, Nouvelle Caledonie, Canal Satellite Caraibes and Canal Horizon Afrique in Dom-Tom et Afrique) and Germany (Ish and Kabel Baden Wurttenberg).

In addition, MotorsTV is available in Holland (UPC and Essent), Turkey (Digiturk), Monaco (Monaco Cable), Belarus (Cosmos TV), Bulgaria (Super Max and Georgiev 58), Latvia (Telia Multicom), Estonia (AS Levi Kaabel, AS Talinna Kaabel, Telset, AS Starman and AS STV), Spain (ONO Digital), Portugal (Cabo Visao) and Romania (Astral, UPC, SC CRD, Televiziunea Cable Moreni, Telemac and Imagine Cablu).

3/8/04

Juan blames Ralf  Juan Pablo Montoya has blamed Ralf Schumacher for their collision during the Australian GP. Just a few laps into the season-opening race at Melbourne the duo touched wheels as Montoya went to pass Ralf . Although neither drivers' FW26 sustained any damage Montoya wasn't charmed by his team-mate's antics. "I overtook five cars today and Ralf was the only one I hit," said Montoya. "He changed direction when he saw me coming through. It was not clever - it could have taken both of us off."

3/8/04

Kenseth benefiting from Yates/Roush work    Jack Roush thanked fellow engine man Robert Yates for helping pump up his engines, by perhaps as much as 40 horsepower. "We've had a chance to put together the best elements of both programs, and we're about 80 percent of having everything together," Roush said. "There was more improvement by marrying these two programs than in the new cylinder heads. I think we'll have the new cylinder heads ready for the California race (May 2), possibly by Texas (April 7)." Winston Salem Journal

3/8/04

Drivers concerned about SAFER barrier   Drivers have expressed concern that the newly installed SAFER barriers at Darlington, a 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval, will eliminate the existing groove. The barrier juts out 30 inches into the track. Jeff Gordon is in favor of the SAFER barriers, but he says moving the walls before installing the barriers would have been a better option. "But I'd rather have it than not have it, so we'll just deal with it," Gordon says. "We do brush the wall there, which I don't think is a real issue. I wouldn't mind it being a little bit softer when I rub up against it." The narrower groove will make racing tighter and passing more difficult. Because the racing conditions are expected to change so dramatically, NASCAR president Mike Helton says the organization is considering allowing teams to come in a day early to test. FoxSports/Sporting News

3/8/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

McLaren Fend Off 'Crisis' Talk
Melbourne Won't Lose Grand Prix
Minardi's Stoddart To Launch Airline
F1 Could Introduce Budget-Cap
F1 To Scrap Back-To-Back Qualifying
Race Report: BAR Is Better Than McLaren
Race Report: Hair Makes Alonso Sweat
News Round-Up: Webber To Drive Top Car
News Round-Up: Ferrari Re-Think Test Attack
Race Report: Schu Could Have Lapped Field
Race Report: Toyota Vow To Improve

3/7/04

Long Beach construction photos   Long Beach just gets more beautiful each year we visit, and this year is no different.  The new mall is open, including some fine restaurants.  New condos are sprouting up everywhere.

3/7/04

Thieves strike Long Beach   Supported by Toyota, in 1996 Long Beach created a walk of Champions display of all past winners of the Long Beach Grand Prix, from the first year as a F5000 race in 1975, to F1 from 1976 through 1983 and 1984 to now as a Champ Car race.  As can be seen in the left photo below, thieves have stolen the plaques of the first three F1 winners, Clay Regazzoni (1976), Mario Andretti (1977) and Carlos Reutemann (1978).  We didn't show you photos of all the drivers, but there is a lot of history there - some great drivers.

3/7/04

Long Beach musings - III   Teenage Frenchman Nelson Philippe is here in Long Beach looking happy, which means the rumors of him having a Champ Car ride must be true.  Heard that a race in Germany was in play for awhile, but that isn't going to happen.  Road Atlanta was in play to replace St. Petersburg, but we were told by a Champ Car employee that deal did not materialize....though we shall see because if South Africa also did not materialize as some are speculating, then the series is looking at 14 or 15 races.  We shall know for sure on Monday. 

3/7/04

More on McLaren woes  Kimi Raikkonen is not happy with the pace of his McLaren after the first F1 race of the season. "We were not expecting 10th place on the grid. It's very disappointing. We shouldn't be in that position, we should be fighting for first place. Nobody's happy."

Teammate David Coulthard, who finished eighth, said: "Given our performance in the event, it's what we deserve." The Scot added: "We weren't quick enough in any of the sessions. Even when I was trapped behind [BAR driver Takuma] Sato, he wasn't holding me up that much and the others were just gone. We have the pace at times, but it's not there on the first lap and we're not consistent."

Coulthard said he expected McLaren to struggle in Melbourne. "I've been realistic all winter. The reality is we've been in among the field in all our running [over the winter], and we've got to improve the car. We've had our first reality check on our performance. We are going to improve, but I can't honestly say we are going to be running at the front. But we'll do our best. If we knew exactly what was the one problem you would be working flat out on that. But I think generally we're not making the most of the tires on one lap, the car's difficult to position, and our race pace, although closer to the pace than in qualifying, isn't good enough."

Team boss Ron Dennis said: "To say it was a difficult weekend for the team would be somewhat of an understatement. Our poor performance was amplified by the low ambient temperatures which certainly didn't favor any of the Michelin runners. It's the first race, there's a long way to go yet. It's early in the season, one race, and we know what our weaknesses are, and they'll be addressed as speedily as possible. This circuit and climatic conditions play heavily into the hands of Ferrari. Hats off to them, they've done a great job this weekend, but we're not going to stand and do nothing, we'll fight back.

3/7/04

Long Beach musings - II   The Toyota Atlantic Series has 13 committed cars so far with the hope of as many as 16.  The series is being affected by the Formula BMW series, which is well funded and the Renault V6 series in 2005........Fernández Racing is not announcing a 2nd car, at least not yet.  We spotted Rodolfo Lavín talking to the Forsythe folks, lending more credence to the rumors he will drive for the team........Some drivers were seen wearing uniforms with new sponsors, but we won't spoil their announcement by saying who the companies are until they make it official.

3/7/04

Long Beach musings - I  Champ Car teams have brought a total of ten cars to Long Beach to be unveiled over the next two days.  We assume those ten have sponsorship deals that are ready to be announced.  We hear ticket sales for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach are on par with other years, but down ever so slightly because of all the uncertainty surrounding the series.  Spotted so far were AJ Allmendinger, Mario Dominguez, Jimmy Vasser, Alex Tagliani, David Clare, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dick Eidswick, Bruno Junqueira, and a whole host of PR folks.  Along with the successful Saturday concert, the Grand Prix Association is adding a Friday concert as well.

3/7/04
Industry News

Kid goes for joyride at Homestead  A teenager stole a luxury sports car, barreled through a security gate at Homestead-Miami Speedway and then sped four laps at 100 mph before he was arrested, police said. Feliphe Ramos, 18, stole the 2004 Infiniti G35 worth more than $30,000 from a hospital construction site Wednesday after the driver left the keys in the ignition, police said. The driver had been lent the G35 by a dealership while his car was being repaired. Police said Ramos then headed to the track, home of both NASCAR and Indy car races. He sped past guards, crashed through a security gate and then began doing laps. No other cars were on the track. After doing four laps, Ramos either lost control or stopped. Track workers held him for police. "He must have wanted to get on the track pretty bad," speedway president Curtis Gray said. "Nothing like that has ever happened here before." Sarasota Herald-Tribune

3/7/04

Heidfeld runs over mechanics  Nick Heidfeld bowled over his mechanics in Australia. The incident occurred during the German’s second pit stop of the Australian Grand Prix knocking three mechanics to the ground. ‘What happened in the pit stop has never happened to me before and I was pretty afraid for the mechanics,’ said Heidfeld after the race. ‘Luckily they are fine and that is the most important thing. It’s not a problem we have had before but we noticed something wrong with the clutch and at the pit stop it didn’t work at all so the car just kept pushing whilst stuck in first gear. It was the same problem that forced me to retire.’ The men were feeling nothing more than a little sore and no serious injuries were sustained.

3/7/04

Coulthard says McLaren performance woeful   David Coulthard did not mince his words after McLaren’s difficult week in Melbourne came to a disappointing end at the Australian Grand Prix.  As Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello scorched clear for a Ferrari one-two, Coulthard trailed home in lowly eighth place for one point.  His team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who finished runner-up in the world championship last season, retired after nine laps with a blown engine.

“This is where you judge if you are fast and reliable,” he said afterwards. “We had 50% reliability here and we are not fast enough. The other guys just disappeared into the distance. We just don’t have that sort of pace.”  Coulthard seems certain to be replaced at McLaren next year after they took the unusual step of announcing early that Juan Pablo Montoya had signed for the 2005 season.  That move dominated pre-season gossip and after watching the Ferrari pair lead from start to finish in a procession round Albert Park, Coulthard hinted it had had a bearing on McLaren’s form heading into the new season.  “You have to take your hat off to them (Ferrari),” he said. “They kept out all the politics during the winter, came here and delivered. Well done to Ferrari. We have got to go away and work a bit harder.”

3/7/04

Bridgestone surprises Michelin runners   Bridgestone Motorsport and the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team started their 2004 campaign with an incredible display of dominance in Australia as Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello led from their front row positions throughout the 58-lap season-opening grand prix.

As the start lights went out, the pair leapt into action skillfully overcoming their lack of launch control, which is now banned in Formula One, and were not once threatened by the chasing pack. The reigning champion soon began posting fastest laps and by lap 29 had reduced the circuit record even further to an incredible 1m24.125s.

In fact, by the end of the race, only four other drivers in the entire field had not been lapped by the Bridgestone-shod pair. Also making it into the top ten for Bridgestone was Sauber Petronas’ Giancarlo Fisichella.

A consistent race from the Italian paid off well and we can expect to see both him and his teammate Felipe Massa running well this season. Jordan Ford’s Nick Heidfeld also put in a spirited performance, often taking the fight to the Saubers. Minardi’s Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner, meanwhile, had a luckless race but will return to fight another day.

“I’m delighted to see the Bridgestone shod Ferraris finish first and second today. After all the hard work put into winter testing it seems that for this weekend, everyone’s hard work has paid off. Today’s victory was a good indication that our development direction has been correct over the past few months and we will continue our efforts to make even better and faster tyres,” said Hisao Suganuma – Technical Manager – Bridgestone Motorsport. “This is only the first race but our target is to continue as we started. Michael continually posted fastest lap times this afternoon but this was not just a one-off performance: all weekend the Bridgestone tyres have demonstrated excellent one-lap top performance - as well as consistency - and I am very proud of the tyres we brought here this weekend. And I’m sure that the other Bridgestone teams, Jordan, Sauber and Minardi will all gain momentum as the season progresses so I look forward to assisting them achieve their potential.”

“It was a fantastic job and we seem to be getting stronger,” added Ross Brawn. “The fact that the same team of people are working even harder than they used to is a credit to them and a credit to people like Bridgestone who are a part of our team. The cars ran perfectly and the Bridgestone tyres were fantastic today.”

3/7/04

More suspensions coming?   The timing of the suspension handed down to Busch Series driver Kevin Grubb seems strange. Grubb, 25, apparently tested positive for substance abuse when such a test was demanded by NASCAR officials at Rockingham two weeks ago. Oddly enough, Grubb wasn’t entered in that race and, in fact, wasn’t even planning on competing in a race until April 3. He was merely present at the track when officials demanded that he submit a urine sample. According to several garage-area sources, six drivers were tested at Rockingham, and Grubb may not have been the only one to test positive. NASCAR’s policy does not require uniform or even random testing. Drivers are tested on the basis of “reasonable suspicion.” Gaston Gazette

3/7/04

New cameras to be installed   Crew chiefs, worried about new aerodynamics issues, are upset with NASCAR's surprising decision yesterday morning to order all teams to cut holes in the roof of their cars and install 360-degree TV cameras, quickly dubbed submarine cams. Winston Salem Journal

3/7/04

Fitness is first for hope of winning Champ Car title   This Toronto Star article by Paul Tracy talks about the steps he took last year to be better fit. He says that his weight loss and workout regimen were key for winning the CART Championship.

3/6/04

Budweiser extends sponsorship of Williams team   The BMW Williams Formula One team has confirmed that after a successful debut season, team sponsor Budweiser has extended its commercial relationship for the forthcoming season. The Budweiser identity will appear not only on the airbox of the FW26, but also on the monocoque tops and on the driver gloves of Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher. Budweiser joined the team sponsor community at the British Grand Prix in July 2003. Anheuser-Busch VP global media and sports marketing Tony Ponturo reflected, "Our first season in Formula One has been a great experience. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team continues to be a valuable partner for Budweiser. The brand's increased visibility on the cars and driver's gloves will reach even more adult beer drinkers this season through Formula One's worldwide viewing audience of more than 350 million.' Budweiser is also making extensive use of its sponsorship with the announcement of the 25 winners of the True Racing promotion this month. Winners will be invited to contest a simulator race off in the WilliamsF1 Conference Centre to compete for 25 trips of a lifetime to international Grands Prix in Australia, Malaysia, China, Japan, US, Spain, Italy, Monaco and UK. Each winner will receive round trip flights, four star accommodation and tickets for two.

3/6/04
Renault V6

Testing at Paul Ricard   Giorgio Mondini has been the fastest in the official Formula Renault V6 tests at Paul Ricard circuit with the new track-record of 1’21”55 and 1’19”38 on March 3 and 4. The Italian driver, behind the wheels of #7 IPS/Grapeking/ACM/Cioe’/Boss/VIP/Eurointernational 2004 Tatuus, has dominated morning and afternoon sessions on March 3, on the 3.847 Km configuration 3C, already used by FRV6 last December with the new track official track record of 1’21”55. “Has been a first good day for us “ said Mondini” because the car has been good out of the box for the perfect set up by our Technical Director Nicola Sgotto and the fantastic work of my crew. We have worked on different things and the several fastest laps have arrived without push at the limit. The car with the 2004 kit, with carbon brakes and new shocks is very different from last year, but I think at Ricard we have confirmed our 2003 post season top performances in Misano and Paul Ricard last November and December”. Mondini has been the fastest of the 20 cars/drivers field, and is on pole for the third time in a row during official Renault Sport test days for FRV6. Stefano Proetto on #50 Rotter Invest/GNI Touch/Lista/Top of Sports/Eurointernational 2004 Tatuus, with 1’22”36 has posted the 8th fastest time the first day, running the first real test in dry weather in FRV6. “I have taken time to learn the use of the new carbon brakes and every lap I feel more comfortable with the car” said Proetto” I can improve a lot my times but today are more important the long run for my testing program and at Albacete the rain and the snow have limited my km on the new car and now I need to make the best use of Ricard track and sun.”

In the second day of testing has been used the faster configuration 2A of 4.087 km, with Mondini 5th with 1’19”90 and Proetto 6th with 1’19”93 at the end of the morning session. Both drivers have dedicated the afternoon to different test with brakes, shocks and aero packages. By 3.30 pm, Giorgio Mondini has reached the pole with 1’19”54, followed to a 260 km spin at Signe corner, generating safety concern at the track director for his running lines. Mondini, despite the official warnings, has continued to run hard on curbs and run off area, due to a very low drag aero package used for compensate an engine low on power, ready for rebuilt after Ricard test, with an un-official record pole lap of 1’19”38. After protest from other Teams and for the preview warnings received, the track Director has not allowed further Mondini laps with 30’ left in the session, and has disallowed all times recorded by Mondini in the second day of test, non timing his laps after the third warning.  Eurointernational accepts Paul Ricard decision but support Giorgio Mondini reasons behind his on track activities, during tests of components, when he never has been put in dangerous other drivers or track structures. In the afternoon, Stefano Proetto has not being able to improve his morning best time, due to increase gearbox problems, ending 10th in the 20 cars/drivers field of the second day. Eurointernational will complete the pre-season tests in Valencia, Spain next March 13-14.  Press Release

3/6/04

Audi named pace car for Sebring   Audi has been named the Official Pace Car for the 52nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. America's oldest and most prestigious sports car endurance race kicks-off the 2004 American Le mans Series (ALMS) on Saturday, March 20. Audi will pace a field of 48 world-class sports car teams as they tackle the historic 3.7-mile circuit that originated from a WWII B-17 training base. "Audi has certainly proven itself in recent years as the premier manufacturer in international road racing," stated Sebring President and GM Tres Stephenson. "We welcome them as an official sponsor." Audi will be going for its fifth consecutive win at Sebring. In addition, the manufacturer has won four consecutive ALMS manufacturer championships. As part of its Sebring sponsorship, Audi will be featuring its certified pre-owned vehicle program.

3/6/04

Two Gems of racing world head to Brazil   He has won the Formula One World Championship two times, two Indianapolis’ famous 500 miles and one Indy Car title. His career is brimming with risks, adventures and realized dreams. His smile is his best business card and his name speaks for itself: Emerson Fittipaldi.  Story

3/6/04

No champagne in Bahrain   After forcing the cancellation of the "immoral" reality TV show Big Brother, Bahraini Islamists want to ensure there will be no champagne-spraying and scantily-dressed women at next month's Formula One grand prix. Bahrain won the deal to stage the race despite competition from Dubai, Egypt and Lebanon as part of its drive to attract tourists and foreign investment. Building work on the Sakhir circuit, venue for the April 4 race, is on schedule and organizers must now contend with cultural and religious restraints.

"We have raised these issues with organizers and they have promised there will be no naked women and no celebrations with champagne," said Adel al-Moawada, deputy chairman of Bahrain's parliament. "This is an Islamic country and celebrations must conform to our traditions...I don't think organizers would want to ruin such a big, costly event for such a small thing," he said. Grand prix winners traditionally spray champagne over the crowd after a race and lightly-clad models are a feature of Formula One. Champagne is expected to be replaced by non-alcoholic fizz in Bahrain.

3/6/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Aussies Pick F1 Favorites
F1 Has 'Over-Complicated' Sport?
Sauber To Run Badoer In 'Third' Car
Jordan Supports Cheap-Engine Quest
Notes: Qualifying At Albert Park
Customer-Car Plan Unlikely: F1 Bosses
Bahrain Completes F1 Circuit
Briatore Backs Engine Cut
Shorts: Saturday In Australia
Notes 1: Qualifying In Australia
Ferrari 'Hold Back' On Race Forecast

  Much More...click on 2004 archives button below
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