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DATE

News (chronologically)

4/8/04

Washington town pushes for NASCAR track  This Seattle Times article says, If Marysville and Snohomish County get their way, a track for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing will locate in the northern part of the county. The city and the county are pushing a site there as part of a proposal to International Speedway Corp., or ISC, which develops tracks for large NASCAR races and is looking for a site in the Northwest.  The Florida company's decision could come as soon as this summer. If ISC chooses Snohomish County, its next step will be to select a specific site.   Marysville and the Snohomish County Executive's Office and Economic Development Council are working on a proposal to send to ISC that will push some undeveloped land near Arlington and Marysville for the track. The racing giant needs about 600 acres for its 80,000-seat track, parking lots and amenities. More.....

4/8/04
Industry News

Reserved parking now on sale for Indy   Reservations in seven Indianapolis Motor Speedway parking lots now are being offered, including spots in two expanded parking lots that offer some of the closest spectator parking to the famed 2.5-mile oval.

These reservations can be made for all three major events at the Speedway - the Indianapolis 500 on May 30, the United States Grand Prix on June 20 and the Brickyard 400 on Aug. 8 - and Indianapolis 500 Pole Day weekend May 15-16.

IMS offers several parking options for cars, trucks, motorhomes and buses. For specific event information about parking/camping opportunities, go to the home page for each event and click on camping. Fans are encouraged to purchase parking in advance by clicking the Tickets link at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or by calling (317) 492-6700.

A new premium motorhome lot, known as Lot 4A, will be ready in May. This lot is located on the east side of Georgetown Road, just north of the oval's Turn 4, and only offered limited vehicle parking in the past. Each motorhome spot in Lot 4A comes with an additional vehicle spot. Access to water is provided, and dumping is available on site.

The other expanded lot at IMS is known as the Main Gate lot, located on the south side of 16th Street across from the Speedway's Main Gate and the South Vista and Southwest Vista grandstands. The Main Gate lot will now accommodate motorcoaches, RV's, fifth-wheel trailers, travel trailers and cars.

IMS parking lots have various levels of amenities depending on location, terrain and size. IMS officials encourage spectators to reserve spots in a lot that meets their needs and to reserve in advance.

4/8/04

Ponte tops Phoenix testing 2nd straight day  Juan Ponte of Argentina continued to show his Phoenix prowess as he scored the fastest lap of the day in practice for the opening round race of the North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship at Phoenix International Raceway today. Ponte was also the fastest driver in Wednesday’s promoter test day, and is looking to convert his speed early in the weekend into a victory in Saturday’s race.

The top ten drivers were within one second of Ponte’s time on the 1.51-mile infield road circuit, so he knows that he will have to continue to improve in order to secure the pole position in Friday’s qualifying session.

“We are still working on getting the understeer out of the car, but we were faster today than we were yesterday despite the track being slower overall, so its good,” said Ponte. “My teammate was also very fast, so we feel like we have a good setup, but there are a lot of guys close behind, so we will have to work on the car tonight to get the pole for the race.”

Fifteen drivers took part in the session, and continued to demonstrate their high level of talent, as the two sessions ran without incident on Thursday, continuing the good form shown during the promoter test day, which saw the drivers rack up an impressive five hours of track time unhindered by any yellow flag-causing incidents.

The drivers will return to the track tomorrow to set the field for Saturdays 1:25 p.m. race during the qualifying session, which is slated to get underway at 12:30 p.m. local time.
Pos No. Name Overall Best Time In Session
1/50/ Juan Martin Ponte/ 58.113 Practice 2
2/7/Ricardo Imery/58.263/Practice 2
3/20/Marcos Gomes/58.292/Practice 2
4/4/Gustavo Sondermann/58.421/Practice 1
5/34/Mark Wilkins/58.659/Practice 1
6/1/Dan McMullen/58.696/Practice 2
7/51/Aurelio Lopez/58.710/Practice 1
8/9/Renato Jader David/59.049/Practice 1
9/2/Brandon Thomas/59.051/Practice 1
10/14/Antoine Bessette/59.100/Practice 2
11/10/German Quiroga/59.314/Practice 2
12/8/Nick Bussell/59.375/Practice 1
13 3 Michael Yager 59.505 Practice 2
14 25 Scott Robertson 1:00.378 Practice 1
15 15 Robert Siska 1:02.528 Practice 1

4/8/04

F1's loss will be Champ Car's gain  When AutoRacing1.com posed this question to Patrick Carpentier today:
Q. Patrick, with no Canadian drivers in F1 this year, and with there being Canadian drivers and three Canadian races for the Champ Car series, do you think that will be a boost for the Champ Car series? To be more specific, we just read somewhere that the TV ratings for F1 in Canada were way down this year because Jacques (Villeneuve) was no longer involved. Will that boost interest by Canadian fans in the Champ Car series?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: "I think so. I heard a lot of people were waiting to buy the tickets because Jacques was not in Formula 1 anymore. A lot of people were kind of hoping that Champ Car would come to Montreal and have a race there (and now they are).   I think that now that the season's going to start, we're going to see a lot of people switch from the F1 race in Montreal to the Champ Car race because they have access to the cars. It's going to be, I think, a great show. This year in F1, I think we pretty much know even in Montreal in a few months, Ferrari is going to most likely win that race. I think people are definitely going to come and watch the Champ Car series (to see real racing). 

4/8/04

Rocky Moran signs to drive for Polestar   Polestar Racing Group LLC announces that Rocky Moran Jr. will partner with Philip Fayer in the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship event in Long Beach, California. Rocky and the #4 Polestar/Swift will be sponsored by Healthcare Privileges, PaySystems Corporation, King Taco Restaurants. "This is a great break to get back in the most competitive development series in North America. It is a chance for me to showcase my talent and race in front of the Champ Car owners. It isn't often that an opening like this comes along and I intend on taking full advantage of the opportunity. The support of my sponsors, Healthcare Privileges, PaySystems Corporation, King Taco Restaurants and my family has been unbelievable".

4/8/04

Jessica Simpson suing Motorock - No!   UPDATE Jessica Simpson is not suing Motorock. There is not one word in her lawsuit about Motorock being liable. She is suing some company named four dog productions. No one from Motorock ever made a deal with them.  4/8/04 - Jessica Simpson wants her money for splashing a New Jersey auto-racing company's logo across her chest. The Smoking Gun Web site reports "The Newlyweds" star agreed to wear a shirt by Motorock in the video for her song "With You" as a paid product placement negotiated last year by her New York marketing team. Simpson shot the video and wore the shirt but says she never got paid. She is suing the company for breach of contract. Simpson claims she's owed $140,000 for wearing the shirt and for agreeing to a performance at the Grand Prix of Puerto Rico, which ended up being canceled. The owner of the company Simpson is suing has declined comment, saying he hasn't seen the lawsuit.  AP

4/8/04

Washington DC hotel opens doors for big charity event  UPDATE Individual tickets are also available for fans if they would like to go. Cost is $400 each.  4/7/04 -  [Editor's Note:  Paul Newman's Hole In The Wall Assoc is the official charity of the Champ Car World Series.]  The Association of Hole in the Wall Camps and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group invite you to participate in a unique opportunity that will help extend the magical Hole in the Wall Camp experience to more children with serious illnesses and life-threatening conditions. Hole in the Wall Camps are the dream of actor Paul Newman who started the first camp in 1988 and has been the driving force ever since.

Hole in the Wall Camps are the world’s largest family of camps for seriously ill children. The premise is simple: to give seriously ill children a safe place to just be kids again. With state of the art medical facilities and highly skilled medical and recreational staff on hand, the approximate cost of sending one child to camp for one week is $2,000.

To date, over 70,000 children from 34 states and 31 countries have attended free of charge, thanks to charitable contributions from companies like yours.

On May 3, 2004, the Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C. will open its doors to Washington and the world. Its waterfront setting is perfect for the unique blend of Eastern and Western styles. In celebration of this grand opening, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group wishes to share its good fortune with children in need of regaining self-esteem and a restoration of joy by giving all the proceeds of this Gala to the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps and to support the development of a camp to serve Washington, D.C. area children.

We would be honored if you would join us in celebrating this occasion. Your BENEFACTOR gift of $25,000 includes a preferred table for 10 people, four tickets to a VIP reception hosted by Paul Newman and several of our national and local elected officials, a complimentary full page ad in our printed program, two rooms for overnight stays at the Mandarin Oriental DC, and listing as a BENEFACTOR in our printed invitation and program.

Members of Congress, Washington, D.C. elected officials, business and community leaders are expected guests at this event. We hope you will take a leadership position in helping us celebrate this occasion.   Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to discussing this opportunity with you.   For further information, please call 202.636.8745

4/8/04

FIA looking at speed cuts this year   "We are looking very carefully at possibly using powers that we have under the Concorde Agreement to reduce the performance of the cars," Mosley told the Reuters news agency. "If we conclude that the cars are too fast, then we can give notice to the teams under the Concorde Agreement which requires the technical working group to come up with proposals for slowing the cars. And they have to do that within a limited time. If they don't come up with the proposals, we have the right to impose something. "It may be that we're worrying unnecessarily but it's all starting to look as though maybe we have got to do something. A lot of the teams have given us very accurate data. We can compare speeds, particularly in the high speed corners, with a year ago and that enables us to do it quite accurately.  If they don't do this adequately, in our judgment obviously, then we give the technical working group three alternative packages of measures and they have to choose one of the three."

4/8/04

Champ Car confirms 18-car grid   Fulfilling the promises made throughout the 2004 preseason by Champ Car World Series co-owners Paul Gentilozzi, Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe, the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford announced Wednesday that it had a full field of 18 cars slated for a full season of competition in 2004.

Veteran Champ Car team owner Derrick Walker announced Thursday that he would be fielding a Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone for the full 2004 Champ Car World Series season, bringing the number of confirmed cars to 18. Walker will be running Champ Cars for the 14th season with the team coming back after a strong 2003 campaign that was its best year since 1999.

“We have always maintained that we would have a full field for 2004 and men like Derrick Walker, Carl Haas, Eric Bachelart, Dale Coyne, Carl Russo and the entire Herdez ownership group have demonstrated their commitment to building the best open-wheel racing series possible,” said Gentilozzi. “The entire Champ Car community has done an incredible amount of work in getting to this point and we’re confident that the 2004 season will be a tremendous success.”

The additional car for Walker – whose driver and sponsor lineup will be announced shortly (Haberfeld will be driver)– strengthens an already talented driver lineup in 2004. The current driver roster includes two former Champ Car title winners, three FIA International F3000 champions, two Toyota Atlantic champions and eight drivers that have won Champ Car races. Eight of the last year’s top 10 in the Champ Car standings are returning, accounting for 90 percent of the race laps led a season ago. To date, the 2004 driver lineup has accounted for 53 Champ Car victories, 49 poles and 150 podium finishes.

“Our fans will be rewarded for their unwavering support with a driver lineup that will be far stronger than anyone has anticipated,” Kalkhoven said. “Not only do we have proven stars like Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser and Bruno Junqueira, but the younger drivers have proven themselves in Formula 1, F3000 and Toyota Atlantics. Justin Wilson, A.J. Allmendinger and Sebastien Bourdais are the next crop of Champ Car superstars and fans will enjoy watching them establish their own legacies in our series.”

“We are very pleased to have put a full field of cars together for 2004,” said Forsythe. “There have been so many entities that have been instrumental in getting us to this point. Our corporate partners, sponsors, teams, promoters, the Champ Car staff and the fans have worked very hard and we will give them a series to be proud of in 2004 and beyond.”

The 2004 season will open April 18 with the 30th anniversary of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Champ Car fans can follow all the action on Spike TV and HDNet, and can keep up to date with all of the happenings surrounding the Long Beach event by visiting www.champcarworldseries.com.

4/8/04

F1 TV ratings tank in Canada   Now that there are no Canadians in F1 since Jacques Villeneuve's departure, F1 TV ratings in Canada have tanked.  In the hey-day of Jacques Villeneuve over a million French Canadians, out of a possible market of six million, were tuning in to watch their hero. Sunday's Bahrain GP is understood to have attracted in the region of 150,000 viewers.   Even in 2003 when Villeneuve was driving the BAR, some 500,000 fans were regularly watching each race.  Ironically in the short term this could play into the hands of Champ Cars, especially with Canada hosting three rounds of the championship this year, plus the fact they have Canadian drivers.

4/8/04

Final Thursday times from Barcelona   Michael Schumacher showed who is The King in the rain today at Barcelona, almost 2 full seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, Fernando Alonso.  IRL driver Scot Dixon continued to not impress.  He was 4.5 seconds slower than Michael Schumacher and 1.3 seconds slower than Williams teammate Ralf Schumacher, this despite turning more laps (66) than any other driver.

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Michael Schumacher Ferrari B 1m23.764s 51
2 Fernando Alonso Renault M 1m25.650s 40
3 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1m25.923s 29
4 Jenson Button BAR-Honda M 1m26.140s 36
5 Alexander Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m26.162s 56
6 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m26.392s 51
7 Jarno Trulli Renault M 1m26.966s 22
8 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m27.028s 62
9 Felipe Massa Sauber-Petronas B 1m28.174s 24
10 Scott Dixon Williams-BMW M 1m28.318s 66
11 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m28.457s 24
12 Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m29.372s 18
13 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m30.535s 5
14 Bjorn Wirdheim Jaguar M 1m31.444s 16
15 Marc Gene Williams-BMW No time 5

4/8/04
Industry News

LVMS to install SAFER barrier   Las Vegas Motor Speedway will install the new Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barriers prior to the Sept. 25 Las Vegas 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, LVMS general manager Chris Powell announced today.  “Participant safety is of utmost importance,” Powell said. “Many great strides have been made to improve driver safety over the years, and we believe the SAFER barrier represents one of the most significant improvements in a long time in motorsports.”  The speedway's parent company, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. has placed Wes Harris, SMI vice president of development, in charge of the project for all SMI tracks. Installation is expected to begin in early August. The project is expected to take approximately six weeks to complete.

The SAFER barrier system is made up of steel tubes and pads of hard foam that are affixed to a speedway’s concrete walls to absorb some of the energy that is transferred during a crash. The SAFER wall project began in the fall of 2000 and remains an ongoing safety initiative among NASCAR, Dr. Dean Sicking and the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska.  Based on measurements by engineers, Las Vegas Motor Speedway will install 6,107 linear feet of the SAFER barrier, covering approximately 75 percent of the speedway’s outer walls. The SAFER barrier system will be placed outside of all four turns as well as most of the front straightaway.

4/8/04

Doubts rise whether Dixon can cut it in F1   F1 is a ruthless place.  Just ask Townsend Bell, who got one test with Jaguar, was not the fastest on the day, and lost the ride to Austrian Christian Klien.  Although Scott Dixon did well two weeks ago in his first F1 test, this week in Barcelona he has not been close to the sharp edge of the timing sheets, and in the wet this morning he was significantly slower that Michael Schumacher  (4.5 sec. wow!) and Williams regular driver Ralf Schumacher.  Despite previously bringing the likes of Jacques Villeneuve, Juan-Pablo Montoya and Alex Zanardi into F1 straight from America, it appears that Williams is having doubts that Dixon can make the step up. “There’s such a big jump now between non-F1 cars and F1 cars themselves because of the electronics and everything on board…So that when a new guy comes into F1 now it’s a huge step," he told the team's official site.  Dixon now has 1.5 days left in this test to prove himself worthy of a F1 ride.  If he doesn't step up his game immediately, he may be driving in circles in the IRL the rest of his career.  The pressure is indeed on the New Zealander. 

4/8/04

Lynch to visit Petty  Jessica Lynch, the former U.S. Army supply clerk who was wounded and rescued last year during the Iraq war, is tentatively scheduled to visit patients at the Duke Children's Hospital next week. The self-described "country girl" from Wirt County, W.Va., will travel across the Piedmont to promote her Jessica Lynch Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps the children of soldiers who either have served in the military or been killed in the line of duty. Lynch created the foundation using the proceeds from a $1 million book deal for the story of her capture and rescue. She also is expected to attend book signings next week for former New York Times reporter Rick Bragg, who wrote her biography, "I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story." Lynch also will spend part of next week's visit to North Carolina with her NASCAR "hero" Richard Petty. A spokeswoman for the Duke Children's Hospital confirmed that Lynch would visit patients on the morning of April 14. Herald-Sun

4/8/04

Morning update from Barcelona - Rain   Michael Schumacher went right back to the top of the timing sheets during a wet morning of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona today. Ralf Schumacher had a spectacular spin when he lost control in the wet conditions, passing through the gravel trap and into the tire barriers damaging his Williams FW26. Jenson Button had a trip into the gravel too, but managed to drive out.  Scott Dixon did not have as much luck though as he spun in the same area as Button but found himself stranded in the gravel trap.

1. M. Schumacher 1.23.764
2. Alonso 1.25.650
3. Barrichello 1.25.923
4. Button 1.26.140
5. Wurz 1.26.162
6. Coulthard 1.26.392
7. Trulli 1.26.966
8. R. Schumacher 1.27.028
9. Dixon 1.28.818
10. Da Matta 1.28.857
11. Zonta 1.29.372
12. Wirdheim 1.31.444
13. Massa 2.46.517

4/8/04

Mobil to sponsor French GP   Jacques Regis, president of the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile (FFSA) has announced that the French Grand Prix will be sponsored this year by Mobil 1 although he says that his organization, which has taken over the running of the event is not going to get any of the money, because the income from title sponsorships goes to Paddy McNally's Allsport Management in Geneva.  Regis says that the funding of the race is going to be tough this year but says that the aim of the FFSA is to make a profit by putting on a better show for the spectators and by changing attitudes in the F1 world to Magny-Cours. The FFSA has adopted a strategy of lowering ticket prices in the hope that more people will attend the event.

"We are going to have new pricing with cheaper tickets to attract more fans," Regis said. "We are aiming for a crowd of between 50,000 and 55,000 on race day. We will have Formula 1, Formula 3000, the Porsche Supercup, the Formula 3 Eurocup and two races for historic Grand Prix cars from the 1950s. And between the races we will have a lot of events, promotions and demonstrations. The strategy is to give the spectators a better show."

The FFSA took over the promotion of the event after the previous promoter pulled out last winter. Regis has now put together a completely new team of 25 people to organise the event and get people to change their minds about Magny-Cours.

"We must change the image of Magny-Cours with the press and with the teams," Regis said.  Regis said that his budget for the French Grand Prix is between $19-20m, of which $11.9m will go to pay the fees for holding the race.

"We will get between $11-12m from the spectators," Regis said, "$5m from the regional and local governments and $3m from partners, although this money will be largely in the form of tickets sales for their staff and customers. Last year there were only 48,000 paying spectators at the event and this year we hope to increase that to between 50,000 and 55,000. A lot of tickets were free."

The FFSA President said that his organization will save money because in previous years hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on building temporary grandstands when some of the permanent stands had only 13% occupancy and hopes to attract a bigger crowd by lowering ticket prices and putting in a better show.

Regis said he is worried about the exchange rate between the Euro and the dollar because the deal between the FFSA and Formula One Management calls for a 10% increase in fees each year, rising to $19m a year by 2009. Regis said that the FFSA had received considerable support from Formula One Management and was in the process of negotiating with Allsport Management over over rights.  Grandprix.com

4/8/04

Where are the 18 cars?   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, You boldly rumored as fact that OWRS had 18 cars lined up for Long Beach.  Who are the drivers and who will run then. Long Beach is now just 7 days away.  I think OWRS is dead in the water. Jeff Perkins, Virginia  Dear Jeff, The 16th and 17th cars will be fielded by Dale Coyne, but we think he's waiting awfully long to announce his two drivers.  Hopefully by the end of this week we will hear something.  We believe the 18th car will be a third entry from PKV Racing and in all likelihood it will have an American driver.  Whether or not Walker Racing makes it to LB remains to be seen.  We think he will and Mario Haberfeld will be his driver.  We expect an announcement on that deal again by week's end.  So, yes, we see 18, possibly 19 cars at LB.  Mark C.

4/8/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

BAR not ready to take on Ferrari
Nissan deny F1 assault
Webber leaves Surtees confused
Trulli quick but also smoky
Dixon starts 'proper' F1 test
Bernie's pad sold for $50m
Ferrari set for Imola upgrade
$1b to be poured into Bahrain
Firman tastes touring car
Nurburgring chops F1 tickets
JPM doesn't regret McLaren move
Stoddart denies F1 airline loan
Webber wants more pace from R5
Schu: Bahrain no 'stroll in desert'
Brawn surprised by Ferrari gap
Imola shapes up for last F1 race  

4/8/04

Feedback on defections by team owners give IRL the upper hand   Feedback from readers on this AP article about the state of open wheel racing in the USA - Dear AutoRacing1.com, I'm getting used to these articles to the point that it makes me chuckle. Intelligent comments like Mr. Barnhart's : "I think what's going on is what we figured all along -- that the future of open-wheel racing is over here," just goes to show you the extent of the propaganda bred in the house of George.  If the IRL has one supremacy over Champ Car I ask you where are the fans? Their great TV schedule with pathetic ratings means very few viewers. No attendance at tracks and few actual paying customers!  Propaganda is a part of war but the losers of the war usually do the most.  Remember the Iraqi Information Minister stating "there are no Americans in Iraq, we drove them back."   It is understandable the IRL spends so much time telling us they are so supreme, after all the money wasted in their series it must be beyond embarrassing. And to the press and people who keep saying Champ Car lost Al Unser Jr, please stop. Champ Car didn't lose him, he was given up. His career was over,  Penske didn't re-sign him and nobody else wanted him but the IRL.  Most of the 100's of thousand Champ Car race attendees and the 100's of millions worldwide fans thought he should've retired as it was painful to watch him prolong the inevitable.  The 10-20 thousand paid IRL race attendees and the 800 or so thousand IRL fans can have them. John Terrey   Another writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com: I just read the latest quotes from Mr. Barnhart making a valid point as to how the oval cartel has : TV. schedule, Penske, Ganassi, Andretti, Rahal, Fernandez, etc. all team owners who made a business decision to save the very existence of their teams, their own jobs (owners) as well as those of their employees.  Mr. Barnhart also makes another valid point when he says that sponsors such as: Marlboro, Target, Pioneer, and the manufactures : Honda, Toyota and Chevrolet are all now in the IRL, all of whom used to be "CART" participants in one way or another.  Mr. Barnhart fails to point out that the only reason why "ALL OF THE ABOVE" are in the IRL is because of the INDY 500 and the free money from the cartel.  He also fails to point out that the INDY 500 and all the IRL races keep having less people following on TV. each year as well as at the track.  Mr. Barnhart's boss, the "VISIONARY" himself Mr. Tony George, said awhile back that the IRL was going to be bigger than Formula One and NASCAR!  How many years has the IRL been around?  Champ Car is a series in deep trouble due to the vision of the "GRANDSON" but TV ratings are pretty equal to the IRL's, and attendance wise only the 500 draws better than any Champ Car event or did you forget to review attendance at Homestead and Phoenix?   Wal-Mart spent $1 million in a campaign trying to open a Super Center in Inglewood (and lost), California and the "HOLY VISIONARY" will keep spending his family fortune but "NEVER" will his money buy any of the "FANS" that will show up in Long Beach starting April 16. Translation : Corporate Money will buy you politicians (a la Wal-Mart) or team owners (a la Penske, Rahal, Fernández, etc) but it will not make us "FANS" watch something we "DO NOT LIKE."  As far as Mr. Barnhart, I'm convinced he's doing what's he's getting pay for!   He had better take off his rose colored glasses.  The future of open wheel racing is not the IRL.  Marta Campos, Los Angeles, CA.

4/7/04

Indy 500 entry list summary   

DRIVERS (25)
Former race winners: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Al Unser Jr. (1992, 1994).
Former pole winners: Helio Castroneves (2003), Greg Ray (2000), Scott Sharp (2001), Al Unser Jr. (1994).
Rookies (5): Ed Carpenter, Darren Manning, Kosuke Matsuura, Marty Roth, Mark Taylor.
U.S. born (13): Alex Barron, Robbie Buhl, Ed Carpenter, Sarah Fisher, A.J. Foyt IV, Robby Gordon, Bryan Herta, Sam Hornish Jr., Greg Ray, Buddy Rice, Scott Sharp, Al Unser Jr., Roger Yasukawa.
Foreign born (12): Helio Castroneves, Brazil; Scott Dixon, New Zealand; Adrian Fernandez, Mexico; Dario Franchitti, Great Britain; Tony Kanaan, Brazil; Darren Manning, Great Britain; Kosuke Matsuura, Japan; Marty Roth, Canada; Tomas Scheckter, South Africa; Tora Takagi, Japan; Mark Taylor, Great Britain; Dan Wheldon, Great Britain.
Youngest: A.J. Foyt IV, 19.
Oldest: Marty Roth, 45.
Most previous starts: Al Unser Jr., 16.
CARS (67)
Chassis: Dallara 45, Panoz G Force 18, TBA 4.
Engines: Toyota 22, Chevrolet 21, Honda 20, TBA 4.

4/7/04

Speed Secrets signs deal with Snap-On series   Speed Secrets Inc. announced support of over $10,000 in awards to help drivers competing in The Snap-on Stars Of Karting series. "The Snap-on Stars Of Karting are always looking for ways to add benefits for our drivers in our series," said Paul Zalud, Director of Operations, and Corporate Relations. "We are very pleased to be adding the people and the programs associated with Speed Secrets as an award to the Stars program. This is an invaluable tool that we would expect a recipient to take full advantage of. This program will make you a better racer, period." Speed Secrets will provide a Snap-on Stars of Karting participant with one full scholarship to attend their 3-day driver development camp. In addition, they will be providing a number of partial scholarships to some of their other programs, as well as providing driving tips and seminars at some of the events.

4/7/04

Defections by team owners give IRL the upper hand   Some quotes from this AP article on the state of open wheel racing in the USA - Adrian Fernandez would rather be driving in the Champ Car World Series. He enjoyed racing in his native Mexico, embraced the challenging road courses and already had a veteran team in place.  Financially, he says, he had no choice but to switch to the Indy Racing League. With employees' jobs at stake and sponsors clamoring for stability, Fernandez couldn't risk his team's future.

"How can you not get sponsorships to support Champ Car? It just doesn't make sense," Fernandez said. "Nothing was making sense. For how long can you be hanging on, waiting for an answer?"

He's not the only one who didn't hang around. Team owners Bobby Rahal and U.E. "Pat" Patrick made the jump, too, giving IRL the upper hand in its open-wheel battle with Champ Car.  The timing was odd since all three teams announced decisions after the IRL's season started this year, setting off a scramble for equipment and familiarity with the cars [Editor's Note:  Some say it was an orchestrated plan funded by the oval track cartel to undermine Champ Car in the 11th hour.  They failed].

"I think what's going on is what we figured all along -- that the future of open-wheel racing is over here," said Brian Barnhart, head of the IRL's racing operations. "With the TV schedule, the teams and sponsors over here now, this is the future of open-wheel racing."

Before the season even began, IRL president Tony George and an ownership group including Gerald Forsythe, Paul Gentilozzi and Kevin Kalkhoven filed competing bids in court to bring the now-defunct CART series out of bankruptcy. Until a judge ruled in January in favor of the Champ Car officials, teams and drivers weren't even sure there would be a season.

The delay proved costly.

Besides a battered image, Champ Car also has faced logistical problems.

It couldn't announce a schedule until mid-February, after the court proceedings ended. The first race will be April 18 at Long Beach, Calif., and while league officials have announced 15 races, they're still trying to add two more races. And only recently they announced a TV deal with the cable network Spike.

Champ Car president Dick Eidswick acknowledges mistakes have been made, but he believes that despite the defections, his series has turned the corner.  "When I got here we had some difficulties, we had problems we had to solve," he said. "My thing is to use simple business sense to move beyond the problems. Lately, I've been spending much more time on offense than I have on defense."

The question is can Champ Car -- and open-wheel racing -- recover from the battle that has raged since the two series split in 1996?  Champ Car has 18 cars committed to the series, while the IRL has 22. The IRL has three engine manufacturers -- Toyota, Honda and Chevrolet -- while Champ Car only has Ford.

And most of the big names -- Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, Michael Andretti, Rahal and Patrick Unser Jr. -- who initially stayed with CART after the breakup are now racing exclusively in the IRL.

Eidswick, who took over the series this year, believes Champ Car can thrive under his new leadership and a stronger business plan _ despite the defections.  "From my point of view, it presented a problem when they made the decision," Eidswick said. "But I've been told things do change and we've got great teams and drivers."

Many team owners, sponsors and drivers who have left believe there are still big problems, though, and that the IRL has won the battle for open-wheel supremacy in North America.  "I'd do anything to be back in front of my fans in Mexico. I worked very hard to get those races in Mexico," Fernandez said. "But we were not presented with assurances and the confidence of a business plan. If you put all this together, what would you guys do?" [Editor's Note:  Adrian will never again race in front of his fans in Mexico unless he returns to the Champ Car Series.  Forsythe owns the rights in Mexico City, Monterrey, and Cancun.  We suspect it will be a cold day in hell before he lets the IRL anywhere near those places.]

4/7/04

Ponte tops Phoenix testing  The North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship staged its first official test session today at Phoenix International Raceway in advance of this weekends race. Eurointernational’s Juan Martin Ponte of Argentina netted the quickest lap of the day with a 58.115-second tour of the 1.51-mile infield road course.

“It’s very good to get started this way,” said Ponte. “I think we might still be able to go faster as we learn more about the car and try some new things with the gearing, but I am very satisfied. I really want to win here this weekend, I think it’s very important to do that in the opening round to establish me and my team as winners and make everyone chase us.”

Several drivers were chasing Ponte today, with series newcomer Marcos Gomes taking second on the day in his GTI/Roshfans Motorsports machine and Gelles Racing’s Gustavo Sondermann third overall. Ponte’s teammate Ricardo Imery showed well with the fourth fastest lap, ahead of Aim Autosport’s Mark Wilkins. The field continues to show the competitive form demonstrated in the Winter Invitational, as the top ten cars were within one second of Ponte’s time.

The North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship field will return to action Thursday with two practice sessions in advance of Fridays qualifying, with the race scheduled to get underway at 1:25 PM local time on Saturday. Full results to be posted at www.formularenaultna.com.

4/7/04

Fayer to drive for Polestar   Polestar Racing Group LLC is proud to announce the signing of Canadian Philip Fayer for the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship. Philip will again be sponsored by PaySystems Corporation, a single source provider for credit card and check processing. Information regarding PaySystems services may be viewed at www.paysystems.com. "I am very excited to be racing with Polestar's 2004 team. There is nothing more electrifying than driving a race car and now I can do so with a top team, high caliber crew and competitive equipment. Polestar's reputation is among the Toyota Atlantic Championship's best and I am proud to join the team" said Philip after successfully completing a five day test at the Firebird test facilities in Phoenix Arizona. "Philip's passion for the sport quickly became evident. He has put himself on a physical and dietary program that affirms his will to succeed. We were very pleased by his car control and ability to help develop the race car," said team co-owner and engineer Bruce Potter.  Polestar will be announcing the team's second driver later this week.

4/7/04
Drifting

Hankook Tire to sponsor Drifting series  Hankook Tire America Corp. will sponsor The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway's 2004 drifting series. The Hankook Tire Drifting Series consists of nine events, beginning April 16.

"The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is committed to staying on the cutting edge of sport compact motorsports," said Chris Blair, LVMS' senior director of drag racing operations. "We're excited that Hankook Tires shares our enthusiasm for this incredible new sport and look forward to delivering the first ever local drifting series in the United States."

Drifting consists of racing on a specially-designed road course while trying to maintain a controlled slide. Racers are judged on their lap times and sliding ability. The sport of drifting has attracted huge followings in Japan and Hawaii and is rapidly gaining popularity in the U.S. Several venues in southern California have hosted independent drifting events but none have created a regular point-based program. The events will be sanctioned and officiated by the North American Drifting Association (www.nadrift.com ).

"Drifting is one of the fastest-growing automotive competitive events in the world," said Hankook Tire Marketing Director Bill Bainbridge. "Holding this series in the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas, adds significant value to the series. We expect great things from our participation in terms of brand awareness and showcasing the performance of our Ventus line of ultra-high performance tires."

"Sport Compact enthusiasts in the U.S. discovered drifting through Japanese automotive magazines and videos and it caught on in Hawaii," Blair continued. "That interest fueled a demand for magazines, DVDs, videos and websites documenting these events. We now have local drifting fans who are using area parking lots for late-night drift rallies. We want to approach drifting just as we did our Midnight Mayhem street racing program by providing a safe place for these enthusiasts to conduct drifting activity."

Hankook Tire is a technology-focused, market-driven company with manufacturing facilities around the world and research and development on three continents. Hankook Tire manufactures and markets a full range of passenger, high performance, ultra-high performance, light and medium truck, winter radial, original equipment and truck and bus radial tires.

4/7/04

Senna Special re-air date  SPEED Channel has added an additional air date for F1 Decade: San Marino 1994, the retrospective of the Grand Prix event in which Formula One superstar Ayrton Senna was killed in one of three major accidents. The special will re-air on May 1 at 11 p.m. ET, the 10-year anniversary of the San Marino Grand Prix.

4/7/04

Sato fastest, Dixon 9th in Barcelona  Takuma Sato topped the times on the second day of Formula 1 testing at Barcelona. The Japanese BAR driver just pipped Renault's Jarno Trulli to the best time having spent the day working on tires and suspension set-up, playing his part in a big Michelin assessment of compounds and constructions. Scott Dixon put in a full day with Williams, driving 97 laps as he concentrated on familiarizing himself with track and car. He set the ninth best time of the day, 0.715s slower than Williams test driver Marc Gene, who put in the sixth best time during his tire program. Dixon reported that he was basically learning the circuit and playing himself into F1. He was allowed some leeway to experiment with set-up and found the FW26 highly responsive to changes. "I'm quite happy with what I've done so far," he said. "So far, so good."  Autosport.com
Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m14.687s 107
2 Jarno Trulli Renault M 1m14.702s 125
3 Luca Badoer Ferrari B 1m14.864s 118
4 Alexander Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m14.935s 67
5 Fernando Alonso Renault M 1m15.119s 55
6 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m15.217s 111
7 Olivier Panis Toyota M 1m15.803s 100
8 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m15.835s 73
9 Scott Dixon Williams-BMW M 1m15.932s 97
10 Ricardo Zonta Toyota M 1m16.114s 97
11 Bjorn Wirdheim Jaguar M 1m16.579s 100
12 Felipe Massa Sauber-Petronas B 1m17.125s 48

4/7/04

Triathlon keeps Haberfeld in shape   Brazilian race car driver Mario Haberfeld recently decided to put his off-season physical training to the test. But instead of opting to take part in a 10-K road race or a harmless bike riding competition, the Brazilian set his sights on something a bit more challenging: the California Half Ironman Triathlon. “My off-season training consists of swimming, bike riding and running, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to see where I am at physically”, said Haberfeld. The Half Ironman, which took place in Oceanside, California on April 3rd, consists of a 1.2-mile swim, followed by a 56-mile bike ride, ending with a 13.1-mile run. Prior to the event, Haberfeld had an optimistic projection of 6 hours to finish the race. However, he was able to finish in 5 hours and 54 minutes, exceeding his own expectations. “I had never participated in a triathlon prior to this one, and I realize now what an enormous task it was doing this without prior experience”, said Haberfeld, adding that “in racing lingo, one could say it is similar to going from go-karts straight to Champ Cars.”

Not surprisingly, Haberfeld is already setting his goals for next year’s Half Ironman. What was the toughest part of the event? “Of my entire 6 hour experience, the first few seconds, entering the frigid 60F degree ocean water at 6:00am was the hardest part for me”, joked the Brazilian. His attention now, however, has turned to securing his ride for the 2004 Champ Car season. “I am excited about recent developments regarding my future in Champ Cars, and look forward to hopefully making an announcement within the next few days”, concluded Haberfeld.

4/7/04

Senna rated greatest ever  Although Michael Schumacher has the most F1 wins and most F1 Championships, fans still rate Ayrton Senna the best ever by a relatively wide margin.  In a recent Autosport Magazine poll of its readers, here's who they picked as the best ever F1 driver:

1. Ayrton Senna 34.37%

2. Michael Schumacher 15.79%

3. Jim Clark 13.16%

4. Gilles Villeneuve 8.72%

5. Juan Fangio 7.56%

6. Alain Prost 5.10%

7. Tarzo Novolari 4.90%

8.  Sterling Moss 2.47%

9. Jackie Stewart 1.48%

10. Ronnie Peterson 0.82%

4/7/04

Justin Wilson matches top test time   Autosport Magazine reports that Justin Wilson equaled the pace of fastest man Patrick Carpentier in his first test with his new Champ Car team last week.   The 25-year-old, who was driving a Champ Car on a road circuit for the first time, tested Conquest Racing’s Reynard chassis at the Homestead road course while his own car, a Lola, is being prepared for the opening race at Long Beach on April 18.   “It was more of a shakedown than anything else, but it all went very well,” said Wilson. “Matching Patrick’s pace was nice, but all the Forsythe runners went faster on the second day when I wasn’t running, so I won’t get carried away.  “My early impression is that the slicks mean you can hustle the cars a lot more than I am used to in Formula 1. The weight of the car and the steel brakes also mean the stopping distances are a lot longer than I’m used to, but that just makes it more interesting.”   Wilson will test his Lola for two days at Fontana on April 13/14 before the opening round at Long Beach.   “It should be enough time in the car for me to put in a respectable performance at Long Beach,” said Wilson. “I’m told the Lola is a little bit better in every area than the Reynard, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get used to with two days of testing. I am still on a steep learning curve, but the initial signs for the team and car are promising.”

4/7/04

Feedback on trusting team owners   Dear AutoRacing1.com, If Champ Car fans were to be polled on this I would wager the vast majority would agree that once a current Champ Car or former CART team has gone to the IRL they should not be permitted back in to Champ Car for the very reasons you have touched on in Rumors this morning: "anonymous information sent to AutoRacing1.com two weeks ago said a Champ Car team . . . might be in the IRL's pocket and pull out just before Long Beach." Once they go to the IRL their future intentions cannot be trusted because of all the money the oval track cartel throws their way. OWRS can not afford or risk subversion from within, as in the last few years of CART. The team owners that have gone from CART/Champ Car have zero integrity and their God is the almighty dollar.  Good riddance I say.   Like a dog that elects to run away from its home, once they leave they're gone for good. J.N. Anderson, Chicago, Illinois

4/7/04

Feedback on the Irrelevant 500 article   UPDATE Another reader writes, I can understand if Mr. Golden is tired of what has happened in Open Wheel but he should try to be more accurate in what he says. It is one thing to look at fact to make a statement but Mr. Golden's inaccurate points here such as: " Because of the on-the-cheap tactics of OWRS in the bankruptcy purchase of CART, St. Petersburg lost what was a wildly successful debut race in 2003."   Mr. Golden Champ Car had nothing to do with it, they just couldn't afford to pay the bribery required to settle the issue between the promoter and their employee. California was an ISC/NASCAR excuse to attack Champ Car. They certainly could have honored their contract with Champ Car instead of causing an inane excuse to try and embarrass Champ Car. They could not have raced there at the time which was obvious, and instead of ISC embarrassing themselves they could have tried to find an alternate solution which ISC did not. And why shouldn't a man like Tony George be bashed after all he has done and is doing? Look at what he did at the bankruptcy hearing. Trying to destroy the series with every opportunity he finds makes him the victim of unjust bashing?  John Terrey  4/7/04 - Dear Autoracing1.com, Why do you persist in endless IRL bashing? The Indianapolis 500 still has the most tradition, history and automotive innovation of any motorsports event in the USA. To be sure, it has been grievously wounded by the split in open wheel racing caused by Tony George. Just the same, last year the event drew more than 320,000 people, dwarfing the turnout of the increasingly heralded Brickyard 400. Were there one unified series in open wheel racing, as there is among the stock cars in NASCAR, there would be 50 cars seeking the 33 spots on the Indy 500 grid. But there isn't, so there aren't. Meanwhile.....Because of the on-the-cheap tactics of OWRS in the bankruptcy purchase of CART, St. Petersburg lost what was a wildly successful debut race in 2003. Long Beach, whose 30th birthday party should have gotten started as soon as Paul Tracy finished quaffing from the Vanderbilt Cup in Australia, has only in the last three weeks scrambled to cross all the T's and dot the I's for the 2004 race. After the fiasco of the Champ Car premiere in Long Beach March 8-9, there was good reason to worry about the event itself. Don't take my word for it; check the defending champion's (PT) website. And thanks to the snit over the 2003 series finale, Champ Car's relationship with Fontana is dead, meaning we in southern California get one less race to attend. My point is, there've been plenty of mistakes to go around in the sport. Tony George isn't a visionary; but he's not the open wheel Antichrist, either. The owners of Champ Car, with ZERO races on network TV, haven't done the fans any favors, either.  I, for one, love open wheel racing more than I detest Tony George. Relentless bashing of the IRL, while looking the other way at Champ Car's foibles, doesn't do any good. For the sport, or for your journalistic integrity. I DARE YOU TO PRINT THIS. Sincerely, Brian Golden, Lancaster, California  Dear Brian, The key point that you miss is the fact that the sport of Indy Car racing was booming in 1995. There was no need for a split.  Tony George created the split and killed the sport, period, all for control.  He wanted it, and had the money to try.  It wasn't what the fans wanted, it was what Tony George wanted.  We're sure Bill France strongly encouraged it and Tony George fell right into their hands.  For he knew if Indy Car racing was split in two, NASCAR would benefit immensely, and it has.  And to make matters worse, Tony tried to mimic NASCAR's 100% throttle "pack" racing concept and look at all the IRL drivers who have been very seriously injured since 1996 because of it.  The list is long and the pain and suffering unconscionable.  To this day the man tries to kill the Champ car series, yet it keeps running like an Energizer Bunny because the fan base is still relatively strong and it has people behind it who don't want to see Tony destroy road racing in the USA as he has IndyCar racing  Mark C.

4/7/04

2004 Indy 500 entry list   
1 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing G/T/F
2 Mark Taylor (R) Panther Racing D/C/F
3 Helio Castroneves Marlboro Team Penske D/T/F
4 Tomas Scheckter Panther Racing D/C/F
5 Adrian Fernandez Fernandez Racing G/H/F
6 Sam Hornish Jr Marlboro Team Penske D/T/F
7 Bryan Herta Andretti Green Racing D/H/F
8 Scott Sharp Kelley Racing D/T/F
10 Darren Manning (R) Target Chip Ganassi Racing G/T/F
11 Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing D/H/F
12 Tora Takagi Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing D/T/F
13 Greg Ray Access Motorsports G/H/F
14 AJ Foyt IV AJ Foyt Enterprises D/T/F
15 Buddy Rice Rahal/Letterman Racing G/H/F
16 Roger Yasukawa Rahal/Letterman Racing G/H/F
17 TBA Rahal/Letterman Racing G/H/F
18 TBA PDM Racing D/C/F
20 Al Unser Jr. Patrick Racing D/C/F
21 TBA Nunn Racing D/T/F
23 TBA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing D/C/F
24 Robbie Buhl Dreyer & Reinbold Racing D/C/F
25 Marty Roth (R) Roth Racing D/T/F
26 Dan Wheldon Andretti Green Racing D/H/F
27 Dario Franchitti Andretti Green Racing D/H/F
39 Sarah Fisher Kelley Racing D/T/F
41 TBA AJ Foyt Enterprises D/T/F
44 TBA Panther Racing D/C/F
51 Alex Barron Red Bull Cheever Racing D/C/F
52 Ed Carpenter (R) Red Bull Cheever Racing D/C/F
54 TBA Beck Motorsports D/C/F
55 Kosuke Matsuura (R) Super Aguri Fernandez Racing G/H/F
66 TBA Marlboro Team Penske G/T/F
70 Robby Gordon Team Gordon D/C/F
91 TBA Hemelgarn Racing D/C/F
TBA TBA Newman/Haas Racing TBA
Legend
D-Dallara
G-Panoz G Force
C-Chevrolet
H-Honda
T-Toyota
F-Firestone
(R)-Indianapolis 500 rookie

4/7/04

Ty Norris joins Speedway Motorsports  Ty Norris, 38, a 14-year veteran of the motorsports industry, has joined Speedway Motorsports, Inc. as vice president of special projects.  "Ty Norris' broad knowledge of the motorsports industry and his ability to manage and motivate people will be a tremendous asset to our company," said Marcus Smith, vice president of national sales and marketing for Speedway Motorsports, Inc. "We've had several special projects in mind for quite some time, and Ty is the perfect person to move them forward."

Most recently, Norris was executive vice president of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. He was hired in 1996 to oversee Dale Earnhardt's fledgling racing operation and under Norris' guidance DEI grew into one of the industry's super teams. During Norris' tenure, DEI won 65 NASCAR events and four championships, two each in the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. In 1998, he helped start DEI's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series operation which scored 14 victories, including two Daytona 500 wins, in six seasons.

Prior to joining Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Norris was vice president and general manager of Felix Sabates' SABCO Racing. He also spent four years with R.J. Reynolds' Sports Marketing Enterprises where his duties evolved from media relations to serving as a liaison between NASCAR's drivers, team owners and track operators and the series sponsor.

4/7/04

Dixon starts serious F1 test  This morning Scott Dixon started a serious three-day test with the BMW Williams F1 team at Barcelona.  His performance over the next 3-days will go a long way toward determining whether he is F1 material.  His test two weeks ago at Paul Ricard indicate he is, turning very competitive times on his first shakedown day.  Dixon will be joined at the Spanish track by Williams regulars Ralf Schumacher and Marc Gene.  Renault, McLaren, BAR and Toyota are already at the track and continue work today, when they will be joined by Jaguar and Sauber as well as the Williams trio.

4/7/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Coulthard: don't blame Mercedes
Renault to unleash performance step
Jordan gets Toyota power?
McLaren to scrap MP4-19 challenger
Ralf loves his brother, but ...
Barrichello expects turning point
Alonso quickest in Spain
Multi-millions make F1 look 'silly'
Champ Car unveils two-seater
Boss believed in Button
Turkey on track for F1 race
Bahrain 'civil rights' under fire
Buckle up, says Schu
Schu asked again - 'are you quitting?'
'Impossible' to close gap, says Theissen
Renault promote Alonso
Bahrain sends 'message' to Europe
Toyota get faster car for Imola 

4/6/04

Unser to run Atlantics with P-1 Racing    One of the most famous names in auto racing has joined the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, as fourth-generation driver Al Unser and P-1 Racing today announced they have joined forces for 2004.

The 21-year-old from Albuquerque, N.M. who goes by the nickname of "Just Al," enters Toyota Atlantic after scoring four top-10 finishes en route to 12th place in the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series championship. He also finished seventh in the 2002 Formula Dodge National Championship and earned Rookie of the Year honors in the 2002 Skip Barber Western Racing Series on the strength of six victories and nine podium finishes.

"I'm really excited about jumping up into Toyota Atlantics," said Unser. "I'm doing it a bit early due to Barber Dodge going away for this year, but I'm very happy to be working with (P-1 Racing co-owner) Bill (Fickling) because he's very experienced and very knowledgeable in the field of Atlantics. I haven't gotten to do much testing, but I hope to do more after Long Beach. Coming into Atlantics, I know that I've thrown myself to the wolves in a sense, but I feel like that's the way I learn best. I'll be struggling a little bit in the first couple of races, but I hope to become a contender toward the end of the year."

"Just Al" will make his Toyota Atlantic debut at the same track where his father, two-time Champ Car World Series champion Al Unser, Jr., won a record six times, including a stretch of four consecutive victories from 1988 to 1991. Unser, Jr. made one Atlantic start himself, finishing third in the Atlantic race at the 1982 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach against Fickling among many others.  More.....

4/6/04

2s10.JPGFirst Photos: Two seater Champ Car    PKV Racing has prepared a two-seater Reynard Champ Car to be used for various promotional events. As we understand it, this is the car Pac-West had built by Reynard in the late 90's, set up with an Ilmor-Mercedes. We bring you the first photos of the car as it appeared during early testing and before receiving its final paint scheme.  Photos

4/6/04

Two-Seater Champ Car makes debut    Defending Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has had people on his rear wing many times during his 13-year career, but had never experienced someone sitting directly behind him in his 750hp Champ Car before today. 

Tracy was the first driver to pilot the new two-seat Champ Car Tuesday, unveiled during media festivities surrounding practice sessions for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pro/Celebrity race. The new two-seater carries the same 750hp turbocharged Ford-Cosworth XFE engine that powers every Champ Car, runs on the same Bridgestone Potenza racing tires and is virtually the same as the cars that will take the green flag April 18 in Long Beach – with the exception of an additional seat behind the driver. 

The defending champion gave media members a first-hand look at life in the cockpit of a Champ Car, running the car at speed down a portion of the Long Beach circuit and reports that the car offers a whole new insight into what it takes to drive a Champ Car. 

“Everybody that gets out of the car has this look of astonishment on their faces,” Tracy said. “A couple of the reporters have been covering racing for years but had never been over 100mph in their cars. They had no idea what these cars can do and what it takes to drive one. I think there’s a perception that anybody can get in and drive one of these cars and this two-seater gives them a whole new appreciation of what we do.” 

The car will be used for promotional purposes throughout the 2004 Champ Car season both at race tracks and at special-event sites. One of those sites will see the new two-seater turning laps in Times Square this weekend as Ryan Hunter-Reay (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will drive the two-seat Champ Car down Broadway to Spike TV headquarters.  

“We feel that the two-seater is of great value in conveying the Champ Car experience to the public,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “The car can be used in many different areas to show people what it feels like in a Champ Car, and give them a new respect for the talents that our drivers possess.”

4/6/04

Alonso fast in Barcelona 

Name

Team

T

Laps

Time

Gap

Alonso

Renault

M

101

1:15.263

140.579 mph

Davidson

BAR

M

97

1:15.405

0.142

Trulli

Renault

M

62

1:15.623

0.360

Wurz

McLaren

M

68

1:15.766

0.503

Badoer

Ferrari

B

68

1:15.845

0.582

de la Rosa

McLaren

M

88

1:15.929

0.666

Zonta

Toyota

M

103

1:15.984

0.721

Panis

Toyota

M

43

1:16.455

1.192

4/6/04

Trans-Am Series names official fuel   VP Racing Fuels has signed a multi-year agreement to become the “Official Fuel Supplier” to the Motorock Trans-Am Series. As part of the agreement, all teams competing in this year’s Series will be required to use VP Racing Fuel’s C12 racing fuel. VP Racing Fuel will also offer contingency awards at each event this season. “We are excited to welcome VP Racing Fuels to the Trans-Am family, and look forward to a long-term partnership,” said Motorock Trans-Am Series Executive Director John Clagett. “VP Racing Fuel, like Trans-Am, has been part of North American motorsports for several decades, and its expertise makes it an ideal partner. Plus, VP Racing’s fuel is second to none in the industry.” “VP Racing Fuel has been making specialty racing fuels since 1975 and we're very excited to be named the official spec fuel in America's oldest continuously running sports car racing championship,” said Bruce Hendel, Global Sales Manager for VP Racing. “The Trans-Am Series is one of the premier road racing series in the country and we are confident the teams will enjoy the superior performance of VP Racing fuel as well as our trackside support.”

4/6/04

Texas Crowd estimates could lead to SEC scorn   There is this matter of attendance figures, which most of us believe are wildly inflated. The accepted figure for Sunday's race was 200,000 customers, which is not possible. The track has 155,000 seats, give or take a couple thousand, and can accommodate 12,000 in suites. Figure also 10,000 or so in buses and campgrounds and infield. That adds up to about 175,000, give or take a couple thousand. Yet, news outlets routinely report a mob of 210,000, a figure swallowed whole.  Yes, 175,000 is pretty impressive, but to round it up to the nearest hundred thousand -- and for outlets such as the eminently scrupulous Dallas Morning News to gulp it down -- is not credible. It also may not be legal, as the SEC looks carefully at such statements by public corporations, such as Speedway Motorsports, operator of the Texas track. You notice that after SMI went public in 1994, we no longer heard the "North Carolina Highway Patrol" crowd estimates at Charlotte.  SPEED Channel

4/6/04

A lesson in team colors    One of our complaints about the Champ Car Series over the years has been the matching paint schemes on team cars, or the lack thereof.  For the most part, the casual fan in the grandstand has no idea which cars are team cars because the teams don't bother to hire a graphic artist to come up with a paint scheme that works for all the team sponsors (as mandated in Formula One, the most professionally presented race series in the world.).  Instead the Champ Car team cars look like a bunch of rag tag misfits.  Last year, Walker Racing started a trend, they actually made their various cars look like team cars with only slight color changes between them, depending on the sponsor.  We urge all Champ Car teams to take note of how Forsythe-Racing is going to make their cars look like team cars in 2004.  Note the yellow added to the car that Rodolfo Lavín will drive that will carry Corona sponsorship (top photos), vs. the Indeck cars of Tracy and Carpentier (bottom photos).  The color schemes are close enough such that both look like team cars but the words will change from Indeck to Corona.  Nitpicking?  Perhaps, but we call it just another part of presenting oneself as a  professional organization.  Hard to get fans excited about some of the horrible paint schemes we have seen over the years, and there's no better way to turn off a potential sponsor.  Just ask Bernie Ecclestone - the teams tried to fight him on this issue but he would not back down.  He won, and when you watch a F1 race, you know exactly which cars are team cars and they all carry attractive paint schemes to boot.  Champ Car needs right a rule in their rulebook that says all team paint schemes must match and be approved by an aesthetics review board.  Mark C.


Corona Car Above (no lettering yet), Indeck car below

Photos courtesy of Champ Car

4/6/04

ALMS champions to join BAM! for selected races   The two most winning drivers in the history of the American Le Mans Series, Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr, will join the new BAM! Porsche team for selected series events in the remainder of the 2004 season, team officials have announced. The two German drivers were the GT class champions of the ALMS the past two seasons while driving for Alex Job Racing and have taken more victories than any other drivers since the formation of the series in 1999. Maassen drove for the Job team and scored his 21st career ALMS win in the recent Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the opening event of the 2004 season, while Luhr has 18 career ALMS wins. Contracted as Porsche factory drivers, Maassen and Luhr were originally scheduled by Porsche to spend the 2004 season racing in Europe in the FIA GT Series, therefore opening what had been their fulltime seats with the Job team to Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb. Maassen and Luhr were only scheduled to drive for the Job team at Sebring and in Chevy presents Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the two long-distance events on the ALMS schedule, in which many teams add a third driver to their lineup. However, Maassen and Luhr are now scheduled to drive either separately or together in six of the eight remaining races on the 2004 ALMS calendar for BAM! (British American Motorsport), joining Leo Hindery behind the wheel of the #43 YES Network Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

4/6/04
Industry News

Max Papis on Wind Tunnel   Max Papis will be on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on Wednesday, April 7th at 10:00 pm ET. Wind Tunnel, a Speed Channel program which airs four times a week, features LIVE commentary from Dave Despain and a guest, also receiving emails and phone calls from viewers during the show. It’s a radio show on TV. Papis, who will be in Phoenix for the Food City 250 at Phoenix International Raceway where he will race his CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing No. 01 Lexus Riley XI, will be doing the show LIVE from the track. Papis has competed in the IRL, CART, Formula 1, IMSA and Grand-Am circuits and has won many prestigious races including the 2004 Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring and 2002 Grand-Am Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona (where he obtained the moniker, “Mad Max”). “ I am looking forward to being a part of the show. I have been following Dave, and he’s a very charismatic TV personality,” said Max.

4/6/04
Industry News

Mazda Raceway names official artist   Noted artist Bill Patterson has been selected as the official artist of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Gill Campbell, the track's general manager, made the announcement during Monday's official Sneak Preview of the venue's 2004 racing season.  "Bill's tremendous talent, infused with his passion for motorsports and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, will be showcased throughout our 2004 race season," said Campbell. "Whether it's exciting live performance art, or unique and expressive originals executed in a wide variety of media, my endeavor is to celebrate the speed, emotion and drama of motor racing," said Patterson, who works out of his Simi Valley studio. Following the announcement, Patterson did a live art performance in the Paddock.

As official artist for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Patterson's projects for the track include designing artwork for race posters and programs, as well as doing live performance art at selected special events. Patterson's work has been featured on posters for Formula One, Champ Car and other series, while champions Bobby Rahal, Nigel Mansell, Al Unser Jr, Jimmy
Vasser and Alex Zanardi all own original works from Patterson. He has produced a line of silk screen and embroidered clothing, and designed a number of logos and corporate identities for race teams and sponsors. Patterson's live performance art has raised over $300,000 for charity. More information on Bill Patterson and his art is available at his Web
site - www.billpattersonart.com.

4/6/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Montoya's off to a team in crisis
Silverstone faces uphill struggle
Kimi's future is red
Ferrari aren't sporting: Irvine
Schu gives away Ferrari
Ferrari in own class: Theissen
Three weeks to bridge gap
Fans prepare for season-2002 repeat
Ferrari might not have it easy
Heads to roll in McLaren crisis
Webber apologizes to Alonso
Germany celebrates Schu's seventh
Frank vows to keep head low
BAR threaten Ferrari
Webber got off the line
Button sings Button's praise
Ferrari admit $10,000 mistake
Only a win is good enough: JB
Time's running out: Lauda
Renault beating McLaren to checker
Trulli disappointed
Schumacher in Dublin
Sand storms to blind F1 drivers
Todt doesn't gloat
Sauber urges team to speed up
Renault vow to gee-up horses

4/5/04

Ticket sales up for Monterrey, Mexico    A TV race report in Monterrey, Mexico called "Momento Racing," hosted by "Luis Hipolito Salinas" Monday had as a guest one of the executives of the Monterey Grand Prix.  He stated that ticket sales for this year's Monterrey Grand Prix have been a lot better than last year (right now its a presale, you can only buy tickets if you have a Banamex Credit or Debit card, but you get a 30% off). The same executive told everyone last year that the sale of tickets was a little bit slow. Indeed they were as last year the crowd was down a bit, so it appears he gives a fairly accurate report. Despite Adrian Fernández's defection, it looks like Mexicans there are more excited this year than last year about the crop of Mexican drivers.  It's surprising how quickly his countrymen labeled Fernández a traitor for betraying Champ Car (it was so bad they forced the forums at Fernández Racing to be shut down) and quickly forgot about him.  Once again, the fans have spoken.

4/5/04

Long Beach announces Tecate concert performers    Race fans at the upcoming 30th Anniversary Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach can enjoy a free trip South of the Border beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 16. The Tecate “Fiesta Friday” Concerts will be featured on the Rock-n-Roar Concert stage, just outside of the Convention Center’s Ocean Blvd. side. Free to all race ticket holders, the concerts will include performances by some outstanding Mexican talent, including, in order of appearance:

  • Los Ayvar (formerly Los Yonics), a prolific group, with its brand of tropical/Cumbia music performed in local ballrooms throughout the American Southwest. Los Ayvar mixes tropical music with softer ballads, and the combination has earned them several hits over their career.

  • Carmen Jara con Mariachi is known as much for being the Diva of Mexican Regional Music as she is for her beauty! Carmen is recognized for her versatility, as she started out in jazz and pop music and has since been dedicated to Regional Banda music.

  • Los Astros de Durango, one of the hottest bands in the new wave of “Pasito Duranguense Music.” Los Astros de Durango have emerged as a huge success with their Top-20 Billboard song, “La Milpa.”

“The Tecate ‘Fiesta Friday’ concerts are a natural for our 30th anniversary,” said Grand Prix Association of Long Beach President and CEO Jim Michaelian. “Many of our loyal Hispanic race fans have been with us at every race, cheering on great drivers like Emerson Fittipaldi and Juan Montoya. “This year, many will be rooting for Michel Jourdain Jr., Mario Dominguez, Roberto Gonzalez and Rodolfo Lavin. And whether they’re at their 30th Grand Prix or their first, the Tecate ‘Fiesta Friday’ Concerts are just a small way of saying ‘Thank You’ for being here.” The hit rock group “Everclear” will appear in concert on the “Rock –n-Roar” Stage at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, free to race ticketholders.

4/5/04

Irvine: Sato is useless  Eddie The Mouth Irvine speaks again.  Irvine told The Sun that Jenson Button has 'emerged from four years of hype. 'He appears to be the real deal,' said the Ulsterman. Eddie thinks Button's main new weapon is confidence. 'He obviously feels comfortable now because the team is behind him,' said Eddie. Helping that, said Irvine, is Button's F1 teammate Takuma Sato. 'He's useless,' said the 38-year-old. 'Blowing him away gives him a lift.'

4/5/04

Forsythe-Racing test report    Forsythe Championship Racing has just completed three days of pre-Season testing with its three Drivers for 2004, Defending 2003 World Champion Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier in their Indeck Forsythe Racing entries and Rodolfo Lavin in the Corona Forsythe Racing entry.  More....

4/5/04

IRL happy with test of new engine  Indy Racing League officials were encouraged by the first on-track performance of the aerodynamic package to be used by the IRL IndyCar® Series in the Indianapolis 500.  Twelve IndyCar Series teams used the new aero package, which consists of a quarter-inch center-line vertical wicker, a reverse quarter-inch wicker on the bottom side of the rear wing and curved skid plate, for the first time in an April 3 private test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

IRL Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Brian Barnhart said the results of the test show the League is headed in the right direction with the aerodynamic changes in seeking to reduce speeds on the 2.5-mile oval.  "We're very pleased," Barnhart said. "We think (the test) was great validation and verification of the countless hours and months of hard work needed to come up with a package for the month of May. Speeds were exactly what we anticipated. The on-track stuff very much validated the wind tunnel stuff, which had done the same for our computer simulation work."  

The test also marked the first on-track use of the 3.0-liter engine, which will be used by all teams beginning at Indianapolis. The results showed speeds had decreased significantly from Helio Castroneves' 2003 pole-winning speed of 231.725 mph.   "I think all three of the (engine) manufacturers have done an excellent job in making the change," Barnhart said. "We ran in excess of 3,100 miles, and I think with the reliability factor and quality of the manufacturers we have with Chevrolet, Honda and Toyota, it's the type of debut we're all very proud of and happy with. I think it's going to be a good product."

Barnhart said IRL officials will continue to evaluate the data from teams until the IndyCar Series Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 27-28. Still, he said the League was on schedule with its plans.  "Conditions were a little windy in the afternoon, and the cars were very stable," he said. "Most of the comments from the drivers have been very positive. We have a little tweaking to do, here and there. I'm very excited about the direction and the success of our debut with a new product."  IRL

4/5/04

Newman/Haas returns to Indy 500  Newman/Haas Racing announced today that they have filed an entry for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 to be held on May 30, 2004. It will be the first time the team has attempted to compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1995.  The 2004 entry will mark the 14th for Newman/Haas Racing in the Indianapolis 500. Prior to 2004, the team prepared a total of 20 entries for drivers such as Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell and Paul Tracy. Newman/Haas Racing's highest finish in the Indianapolis 500 was second place with Mario Andretti in 1985 although team drivers have led many laps on the 2.5-mile Superspeedway. Mario Andretti also brought the team its highest start in the event when he won the pole position in 1987.

4/5/04
IROC

IROC test at Atlanta   The International Race of Champions (IROC) series will test Tuesday and Wednesday at Atlanta Motor Speedway as they prepare for their Oct. 30 season finale at the fast, high-banked track. Jim and Jay Sauter and Dave Marcis are expected to test the IROC cars on Tuesday, while IROC officials are expecting World of Outlaws drivers Steve Kinser and Danny “The Dude” Lasoski in to test on Wednesday. Lasoski is fresh off a “dream win”after pulling off a stunning victory last Friday in the Crown Royal IROC event at Texas Motor Speedway. Lasoski led the field of 12 drivers from flag to flag and in the process became the second World of Outlaws Sprint Car racer to win a Crown Royal IROC race. The first was Kinser, who won at Talladega in 1994. In the Crown Royal IROC point standings, which will pay $1 million to the season champion, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman are tied for first with 33 points while Lasoski and Jimmie Johnson are tied for second with 32 points. The two-day test session is closed to the public but open to media members.

4/5/04

Australian gets Atlantics ride and Champ Car debut    A young Queenslander has been given the chance of a lifetime and will line up in a Champ Car at this year’s Lexmark Indy 300 in his hometown of the Gold Coast, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie announced today. Gold Coast 18-year-old Josh Hunt has been given the opportunity to drive in the America-based Toyota Atlantics Championship this year and will be on the grid in a Champ Car for this year’s Lexmark Indy 300 on the streets of Surfers Paradise from October 21 to 24.  More....

4/5/04
Formula BMW Asia

Hong Kong driver wins two   The 2004 Formula BMW Asia Series kicked off on Saturday with the first of two races at the Bahrain International Circuit. Marchy Lee scored a dominant victory.  The young driver from Hong Kong claimed victory after overcoming an early challenge from Taipei’s Hanss Lin, which saw the pair battling hard for the lead in the opening laps. Second place went to Korean Kyong-Ouk You, while Lin eventually had to settle for third. The three drivers received their trophies from BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver Ralf Schumacher and BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen.  “We have witnessed an interesting start of the 2004 Formula BMW Asia Series today,” said Theissen. “I think we can look forward to an exciting season and we are keen to see how it develops.”

Marchy Lee won the second round of the 2004 Formula BMW Asia Series at Sakhir, a day after he triumphed in the first race of the year. The double success gives the Hong Kong driver a commanding points lead, and marks him as a favorite to win this year’s title.  “I feel very, very happy, and the race was quite good,” said a delighted Lee after an exciting race, “It’s been a perfect weekend." Against expectations the weather proved to be poor on Sunday. Cloudy skies meant that the track temperature was a lot lower than it was in qualifying, and windy conditions made life difficult for the drivers. However, the real test was a light shower just before the start which made the track very slippery. All the drivers raced on dry weather tyres, and struggled to stay on the road in the opening laps. However, most coped extremely well, and were able to adapt to this unusual challenge.

4/5/04
V8 Supercars

V8 drivers into China   Organizers of the V8 Supercar Championship Series signed a deal to race in Shanghai for the next 5 years.   The first race will take place at the Shanghai International Circuit between June 3-5, 2005, and follows a deal between AVESCO – the company that markets and manages the series – and Shanghai promoter the Greenland Group.   Said AVESCO chairman Tony Cochrane: “This is the dawn of a new era in a sport that has shown the largest growth of any in Australia.   “Our sport has significant recognition and reach in Asia where 60 million people watch each round. China, through CCTV, increases our international television audience to 70 countries and brings V8 Supercars into more than 500 million homes.  AVESCO would like to extend the championship even further across the world. China is a significant stepping stone into the world market and will form a blueprint should we decide to race in other countries.   We are now recognized as a truly international sport and will only continue to grow.”

4/5/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Ferrari fined, Ralf reprimanded
Button: two podiums in a row
Montoya's wrong tires
Minardi woe
Schu and Rubens share 17th one-two
Webber saves a point
Nick wants 'new things'
Kimi suffers another engine failure
Trulli inconsolable
Da Matta is disappointed
Bad race for Sauber twins
Button 'has what it takes'
Toyota should start winning
Raikkonen ready for title
Dixon has a future in F1: Frank
Podium drivers smell 'like ladies'
No 'secret' to new circuit form
Barrichello looked tired
McLaren has dropped out of F1's top-four
Schu rides with wife's amulet
Merchandise rip-off in Bahrain
'Pedal to the metal,' screamed Button
No cigarettes or alcohol
Ralf made 'mess' of Bahrain GP
A Bahraini on the F1 grid?

4/4/04
Industry news

Drifting?  Do you know what it is?   This Miami Herald article says, Ever heard of the sport ``drifting''?  Few people have. In the United States, even avid sports fans don't know about it. But ask a teenager with a sporty rear-wheel-drive car, or read a recent car magazine, and you'll learn that drifting is controlled sliding that looks wild and way out of control. Or as one magazine put it: ``automotive surfing.''

Drifting is in its infancy in this country, much like skateboarding was 30 years ago. But it's quickly gaining popularity.  Last Friday at 7 p.m, Hialeah Speedway hosted ''Drift Miami,'' the first organized ''drift-off'' competition in South Florida and only the second in the state.

Drift Miami promoter and president Tony Castaneira expected about 30 participants in the first of a five-event series. There are no drift schools in the area, although Drift Miami held one clinic. Most participants learned to drift at school and mall parking lots and on the streets.  ''Until the cops chase them away,'' Castaneira said. ``It's like the kids who drag race on the streets. We're trying to provide a safe place for them to drift.''
DRIFTING'S ROOTS
Drifting began on the curvy mountain roads of Japan as a thrilling pastime for teenagers and young adults. While it looks scary on those narrow, windy roads in daylight, most drifting was done at night to avoid detection.  One video explained that it wasn't as dangerous as it looked: ``They're really good in Japan about guard rails.''

''The kids had nothing else to do,'' said Kenji Okazaki, a former drag racer and current commentator at the large Twin Motegi race track in Japan. ``Now I believe only a few guys do it on the mountains and streets. Most of the guys drift on a racetrack.  ``It's become legal motorsport instead of illegal.''   More......

4/4/04

King Richard holds court in Texas   King Richard Petty met with the media at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend and had these thoughts: On drivers intentionally spinning their cars to cause a caution, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fined for doing last week at the Food City 500 at Bristol, Tenn.: "No comment. I'm liable to get fined, so I ain't going to say nothing. Anything you do, you're not doing it for the first time. Somebody's done it. The deal is that if you've done it, you keep your mouth shut."
On NASCAR cracking down on its drivers' language:  "The language deal is strictly a political deal right now, 'cause these guys have been cussing and raising cain ever since they had a first car. The deal is now we're so much more public than what we were just because of the exposure we're getting. So naturally they're wanting to say, "OK, try to control yourself a little bit anyway.' "
On the rise of today's young, successful drivers compared with when he started in the late 1950s:   "You've got 21-year-old kids coming in now, driving these cars, they've got 15 years of experience. When my crowd came along, there wasn't no such thing as go-karts or micro-midgets. ... Most of our crowd really didn't develop as good race car drivers until they were 27, 28, 30 years old."
On the possibility of TMS getting a second NASCAR race:   "You've got to figure this territory draws from a big, big area. From that standpoint, you need one here or up the road in Oklahoma City or somewhere to draw from this particular crowd."
On the possibility NASCAR would add races to the current 36-race schedule:  "Let's don't overexpose ourselves. If you give the people everything they want, then they don't want it no more."
On drug use among NASCAR drivers:   "Society's changed. When we came along, the biggest drug we took was Goody's Headache Powder. That's what we thought a drug was. Of course there was always the beer drinking, the liquor drinking and stuff like that."
On the direction of Petty Enterprises:  "We've got a lot of good things coming down, the deal is just getting them all together at one time in order to run a complete season, race or whatever without having problems."
On how he wants to be remembered:  "I guess the big deal would be that when they say "Richard Petty," they know you drove a race car."

4/4/04

Alonso criticizes driving tactics  Fernando Alonso has criticized driving tactics by several drivers in today's Bahrain GP.  "Quite honestly, I was very surprised by how some cars were being driven today: a Jaguar nearly put me in the wall at the start of the race, and then some other drivers were a little too difficult to overtake,” said Alonso.  “I did the maximum possible today,” he said. “Given the weekend I have had, three points is still a good score for the championship. In reality, I started this race half a minute behind everybody else after my first stop, and just pushed all the way.  The car balance was perfect all the way though. We have some performance evolutions coming at Imola, and I believe that with an even stronger package, and most importantly if we have some weekends without any problems, then we are capable of getting regular podium finishes."

4/4/04

2005 Dodge news   The Dodge Intrepid goes out of production at the end of the year, leaving a big NASCAR question: What model will represent DaimlerChrysler on the circuit next year? Ray Evernham is involved in developing a new model, though he said he doesn’t know what the name of that model will be. A lot of talk centers on the resurrected Charger, but there is also speculation that it would be impossible to adapt under the so-called common templates that now govern the representatives of Dodge, Ford and Chevrolet. “We’re currently working on a 2005 model,” Evernham said. “We’re actually doing some wind-tunnel testing and will be doing some track testing. Dodge hasn’t given us a name plate for that car, but we expect to be able to present something to NASCAR in the near future.” Gaston Gazette

4/4/04
Formula BMW

17 year-old Canadian set to contend for Formula BMW USA Championship   After entertaining several different offers in the past month Oakville, Ontario resident James Hinchcliffe has announced that he has signed with AIM Autosports to compete in the Formula BMW USA (FBMW USA) championship. The 17-year-old Oakville Trafalgar High School student will now begin preparing for the Mohegen Sun Grand Prix that takes place over the May 29-31 weekend at Lime Rock Park.   Hinchcliffe will compete with the AIM Autosport squad which was the team that powered Andrew Ranger to the Fran-Am North America Championship in 2003. After garnering one of six FBMW scholarships, the tough task was set on the Hinchcliffe family to find funding to compete in the entire 14 race (7 weekend) schedule. After doing so Hinchcliffe has confirmed AIM Autosports as his team of choice, as they will field a single entry in the run for the championship.   Hinchcliffe, who is a multi-time national karting champion, competed in some SCCA Formula Ford 1600 races throughout March with the AIM Team and performed very well scoring a victory at VIR. His variety of experience gained in the Bridgestone/FormulaCar Magazine F2000 series, 125cc shifter kart racing, Formula Ford and Legend car events will make him an outright contender for the premiere Formula BMW USA Championship.  “I raced with the team a few weeks ago,” explained Hinchcliffe. “We had a blast. The team is so professional and the guys really put their heart and soul into the operation. I have known the guys on the team for a long time and I get along great with the engineers. I am sure that we have put together the package to compete for victories every time we hit the track.”

4/4/04

Don't look for a Cup race in Nashville   NASCAR's Bill France Jr. won't entirely rule out Nashville getting a Nextel Cup race sometime in the future, but makes it clear that the prospects are not promising. ''Right now it's like trying to put two pounds in a one-pound bag — the schedule is full,'' France said last night during a visit to Music City Motorplex where he served as honorary starter for the 49th season opener. NASCAR dropped Nashville from its top division in 1984 amid track management problems, and France said it was business, not personal. ''I've always enjoyed Nashville and the people who operated the racetrack,'' he said, after meeting with Benny Goodwin and Jim Paskell, two of the track's early co-founders, along with the late Bill Donoho. But, France noted, the aging Fairgrounds facility got behind the times, got left behind by NASCAR's national explosion, and now has little chance to catch back up. Not only is the schedule crowded now, but if and when another race is added it won't be in the saturated South.

4/4/04

RuSPORT gets car numbers  Since they are new to Champ Car, the RuSPORT team had to wait to get their assigned numbers from Champ Car. They have been assigned numbers 9 (Jourdain) and 10 (Allmendinger).  We have updated our 2004 Champ Car Silly Season Page.

4/4/04

Quotes from Paul Tracy  In this Toronto Star article, Paul Tracy makes some interesting comments -  The deafening silence from the new owners of what's now Champ Car about what they had planned for the series left those of us remaining worried about our futures. At one point, I was surfing the Net to find out information about my own career..........Besides, as returning champ, I have an emotional commitment to Champs Car's success.  So I was relieved when the owners of the series — Gerry, Kevin Kalkhoven and Paul Gentilozzi — met with several of us in Las Vegas at the end of March to try to put our minds at rest.  They convinced us at the meeting that they're willing to put their money where their mouths are. To prove it, they've signed former Formula One drivers Ralph Firman and Justin Wilson, among others, to fill out the field of definite drivers [Editor's Note: Signed Ralph Firman? Some contract that must have been - He signed at the last minute to drive the Nissan World Series instead.]................Things are still up in the air with my own team in one respect, though. I still don't have a major sponsor — it's difficult to find one with the resources of a Player's — but Gerry has said his own company will pick up the tab for the team until he can find a large enough sponsor.  Gerry wants to wait till he can sign a backer that has enough money to be the single major sponsor of the car. He wants a clean-looking car, not one that's plastered by a hundred names of tiny sponsors. After all, this isn't NASCAR..............Earlier this week, I tested my primary and backup cars at the Sebring and Homestead tracks in Florida, and the week before the Long Beach opener, I'll be doing one more day of testing at California Motor Speedway.  Sebring was my first time driving in about six months, and after nine hours and some 100 laps at various settings, I can tell you I was pretty tired and my neck was a bit stiff — but the only cure for that is more laps.  My teammates Patrick Carpentier and Rudolfo Lavin are also at the testing sessions. Though we all start off with the same set-up, each of us has his own schedule to follow during the day.  In Rodolfo's case, they didn't tinker much with the settings, as he's new to the Champ Car this year, so he used the day at Sebring just to get used to driving the Lola. By the end of the day, he was turning in lap times quicker than either Michel Jourdain Jr. or A.J. Allmendinger, who were both testing at Sebring the same day.............The biggest change to the car this year is a new feature called a "push to pass" button. During the race, the driver can push this button in the cockpit and get an added 50 horsepower and 300 rpm at the top end of the engine's performance. If you're close enough, that should give you extra power needed to pass another driver as you head out of a turn and into a straightaway.  What will make it more challenging is that each driver will only get to use the boost for a limited amount of time each race — say, 60 seconds total, available only in 10-second bursts — so they'll have to pick and choose when to tap that reserve of power.  During testing, this button added a noticeable 5 mph (8 km/h) boost to my acceleration. Watch for this power burst to come in handy on long straightaways like the Lake Shore in Toronto, and change the strategy for drivers in a race.  The new feature should also help get the fans more involved in the racing. There are plans to use the computerized telemetry to let the fans at home and trackside know throughout the race how much boost each driver has left.

4/4/04

217 MPH for new Toyota 3.0L  The Indy Racing League's initial attempt at reducing speeds was a quantified success here Saturday afternoon.  In the first test for the 3-liter engines which will be used in next month's Indianapolis 500, none of the eight drivers could top 217 mph -- 14 mph slower than last year's pole speed of 231.725 mph by Helio Castroneves.  Although it was extremely windy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the track obviously was quite green, the consensus was that dropping from 3.5-liters to three liters would, indeed, help return speeds to a reasonable number by May.  "I think the IRL's target was 223 but the speeds turned today were exactly what we projected," said Lee White, general manager of Toyota Racing Development. "Our projection was 217-218 and the guys who ran 217 were pretty trimmed out.  "We feel the speeds will be a little bit higher by May but I would be very surprised if anyone ran over 220 mph."  More at SPEED TV

4/4/04

Kenseth wins Busch race   Matt Kenseth took the lead from Bobby Hamilton Jr. just before a caution flag with six laps left, and went on to win the NASCAR Busch series race Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.

4/4/04

Latest F1 news in brief from Bahrain 

Curbs cause problems
Renault fix Alonso issue
Bahrain hard on brakes
Lone Montoya on soft tire
Ralf won't complain
DC can't hide distress
Kimi delays flying lap
Michelin up to Bahrain fight
Hard fought pole: Schu
Backmarkers to feature
McLaren woe is 'surprise'
Sato a match for Button
BMW-Williams need pole
Ferrari were conservative
Like Princes or Kings ...
Dennis mentions 'f' word
Rain in the desert!
Small crowd in Bahrain
Schu remembers Senna
Russia in Bernie's vision
Rubens gets a ticket
Williams 'disappointed' with Italian legal system
VW boss shows up in Bahrain
Bernie snubs bodyguard
Montoya wants title: Head

4/3/04

Corrected times from Sebring testing  There was a lot of confusion over the actual 'unofficial' times from the recent Sebring test with three separate teams claiming to have been fastest at one point. Some of the confusion was due to the fact that Rocketsports stayed very late Friday after all the other teams had left and according to the Rocketsports release "...Tagliani and Rocketsports used the last remaining bits of daylight to post the best time of the weekend according to unofficial timing from Cosworth Racing."  To make matters worse, Champ Car put out a press release saying Jimmy Vasser was fastest for the week.  Publications like Autosport, the bible in Europe somehow got ahold of totally erroneous numbers.  Cosworth was at Sebring all three days, and as they always do, time every car every lap.  We sought out, and obtained the fastest times for each driver as recorded by Cosworth and they are presented below.  It is absolutely inexcusable that OWRS does not have test times published at these tests when Cosworth is there. Every other racing organization publishes test times on a regular basis, but getting them from Champ Car is like pulling teeth.  It's bad enough that we had to go through the back door to get Sebring test times, this week at Homestead saw absolutely zero times published, from OWRS or the teams.  And they expect to keep a fan's interest in the long off-season?
Driver Best Lap

1. Alex Tagliani

 50.25sec

2. Sebastien Bourdais

 50.55

3. Ryan Hunter-Reay

 50.60

4. Bruno Junqueira  50.70

5. Jimmy Vasser

 50.77

6. Mario Dominguez

 50.93

7. Nelson Philippe

 51.23

8. Roberto Gonzalez

 51.38

9. Michel Jourdain Jr.

 51.44

10. AJ Allmendinger

 52.11

4/3/04

Marco Andretti wins another title UPDATE We have added two photos of Marco in action at Sebring.  3/30/04 -   [Editor's Note:  It appears Marco has some real driving talent.  What a shame it will be if his father makes him waste it by driving in circles in 100% throttle IRL cars someday rather than stay in road racing, where real talent matters.] With a win in the first of two weekend races at Daytona International Speedway, Marco Andretti clinched the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Southern Region Race Series championship. It was his second Skip Barber title, Andretti having won the Eastern Region laurels in 2003. Andretti, 16, son of Michael, won 10 races in 14 starts and finished off the podium just once (eighth place, in the Daytona weekend's second race) to score a total of 242 points. Going into the weekend, rookie Victor Ramos had a mathematical chance of earning the title, but only if Andretti went scoreless. Unfortunately, Ramos had a torrid weekend: An off-course excursion coupled with a throttle cable hang-up resulted in an uncharacteristic 12th in race one, putting the end to any championship hopes, slight as they were. For the year, Ramos won six times and had just two non-podium results, finishing second in the title chase with 206 points. At 182, Jeff Relic took third, thanks to four victories and five other podiums. Both Ramos and Andretti have entered the 2004 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Championship Presented by RACER. The $190,000 series opened mid-March at the Sebring 12- Hour; Ramos had a win and a third and leads the points standings with 35, while Andretti notched a seventh and a third to sit fifth, 12 points behind Ramos.

4/3/04

Is it in the water?  Recently the General Manager of the ultra-successful Champ Car race in Surfers Paradise Australia, James Ashworth, stepped down.  Now comes word that chief executive of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (F1 race), Steve Wright, is leaving at the end of this month after seven-and-a-half years in the job. Wright's decision to move on just short of his 40th birthday now means that one of the most high-profile sports management jobs in the country is up for grabs. It is believed that Wright told the board of the corporation, including chairman Ron Walker, of his decision to quit three weeks before the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne last month. Wright said it was time for him to move on to try something new while he is still young enough. It is believed he is looking to open his own business in the travel industry. "I've enjoyed my time at the grand prix and I leave at a time when the event is very well set up for the future," Wright said. "The board and chairman Ron Walker have done a wonderful job promoting the event. I'm sure the new CEO will do a great job in the future." While it might sound like a glamorous position, it actually involves running a $70 million company, which twice a year (including the motorcycle grand prix at Phillip Island) has the eyes of the world on it. In almost eight years, Wright looked after 15 grand prix events.

4/3/04

Heidfeld to start in back  Nick Heidfeld will join Kimi Raikkonen on the back row of the grid for tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix, after suffering a similar engine-related fate to the Finn. Both drivers endured engine problems on the opening day of the historic meeting, “I qualified the same as I did in the previous two races but, unfortunately, this time, as we had to change the engine after free practice yesterday, I have to start ten places further back," a resigned Heidfeld confirmed, "Still, I think we did a reasonable job learning the new circuit, despite losing some crucial time yesterday when I missed most of the second practice session due to the engine problem.”

4/3/04

Latest F1 news in brief from Bahrain - II 

Button 'lost' in Bahrain
Montoya missed pole
Pantano unhappy
Baumgartner struggled
Schu's less than perfect pole
Kimi called off flying lap
Alonso had brake problem
Toyota making progress
Klien outqualified Webber
Fisichella feels better 

4/3/04

NASCAR Bubba gets jail term   A NASCAR fan (fitting the stereotypical NASCAR Bubba image) armed with a deer rifle and emboldened by a high blood- alcohol level has been sent to prison for six months after firing on a North Carolina crop duster last year. The man opened fire on D. Wayne Slaughter, who owns Wa-Lu Aviation in Farmville, North Carolina. Medication may have enhanced the effects of the alcohol, the shooter's attorney told the court. The shooter couldn't hear the televised race while Slaughter was legally dusting pine trees nearby, so he successfully drove the airplane off after a 12-shot volley. Three of the shots hit the aircraft, one piercing the wing a foot from the Air Tractor's fuel tank and another causing the battery to explode. The pilot was not hit but suffered mental anguish. Slaughter, past president of the National Agricultural Aviation Association, said he hopes publicity about his case will encourage other agricultural pilots to report similar incidents. Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Email Newsletter

4/3/04

Bachelart slams the IRL and NASCAR (oval cartel)    Some interesting quotes from former IRL team owner Eric Bachelart in this recent interview:

"I can tell you, I'm in Champ Car here, the three owners, Kevin, Paul and Gerry, they have just been trying to save open-wheel racing, road racing here in North America.

It's amazing to see the time and energy and money that these people have been putting to save the series. On the other hand, it's amazing to see what IRL is trying to do just to have the monopoly on open-wheel racing. This is in agreement with NASCAR. Basically NASCAR and IRL just want to have the monopoly of motorsport and motor racing in the US, period.

I'm very uncomfortable with that, you know. On the other hand, you have Champ Car, the organization here, just trying to do a good job and make this right. It's incredible to see how the IRL is behaving and how NASCAR is behaving, just to kill Champ Car. It’s not right. You know, at the end of the day for me, I'm not in politics. We have been in IRL in 2002. But, believe me, I am very thankful for all the support and what these people are doing to keep open-wheel racing on the road courses and street courses in North America. I believe it's going to be good, it's going to be successful, and it’s going to work well.

Time will tell. Who knows what's happening the end of next year when Toyota will focus more effort in NASCAR. That's another depart. But again, right now, let's focus on our business, and that's working on having a good show in Long Beach and a strong series in '04 and beyond."

4/3/04
SPEED GT

Cadillac hit with rules change    SCCA Pro Racing Ltd., organizer and sanctioning body of the SPEED World Challenge Championship, announced today several competition adjustments for its SPEED GT category cars.

The biggest changes affect the Cadillac CTS-V, which finished first and second in its debut at Sebring March 19. SCCA announced an adjusted base weight for the car, a different air restrictor, a lower rev limit, a weight distribution limit, the mandatory use of a Tremec synchromesh gearbox and a freeze on air intake assembly development.

 

“After reviewing the race tapes and data from Sebring, it was very clear that something needed to be done to bring the Cadillac CTS-V in line with the rest of the field,” SCCA Pro Racing Vice President and General Manager Mitch Wright said. “The car was new to us, and its potential was clearly underestimated. Our goal is for any well-prepared car, run by an excellent team with excellent drivers, to compete for pole positions, podium finishes and race wins. Adjustments mid-season are not unprecedented, and we believe this adjustment to be necessary in order to maintain that parity at the front of the field.”

When the Cadillac CTS-V next appears at an SCCA SPEED GT race, it will weigh 200 lbs more than Sebring, be restricted 30 percent more on airflow (to a total of 50 percent restriction), have a rev limit of 7000 rpm (900 rpm lower than Sebring) and be limited to a maximum of 49 percent rear weight distribution. The air intake Team Cadillac developed for Sebring will be the system specified on the car’s Vehicle Technical Specifications (VTS) for the remainder of the season.  SPEED TV

4/3/04

Williams duo 1-2 in provisional qualifying  The Williams duo of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Montoya set the fastest time in provisional qualifying today in Bahrain.  Schumacher's time of 1:29.968 sec was the only one below the 1:30 sec bracket.  Teammate Montoya was 0.279 sec. back.  The surprise of the session was Kimi Raikkonen, third fastest, after struggling all weekend.  Noted for their excellence in hot weather conditions, Michelin runners dominated the time sheets all day so far.  The fastest Bridgestone runner was Michael Schumacher, some 0.783 sec back.  The majority of Bridgestone runners bring up the rear of the field.  One of the Williams men, or Jenson Button (who led both morning practice sessions) are favored to win the pole, which is up next.    Click here for AutoRacing1.com Saturday results and live timing

4/3/04

Latest F1 news in brief from Bahrain 

Michelin blame Bahrain
BAR sign technical partnership
Bruni caught speeding - again
Rain should stay away
Novelty for Zsolt Baumgartner
Schumacher not sliding out of F1
Bahrain's grid girls wear trousers
Smaller than expected crowd
Bahrain not 'overtaking friendly'
No 'fresh evidence' in Senna re-trial
Webber on cusp of 'biggest' career decision
Button pledges future to BAR
Drivers offer Bahrain 'thumbs-up'
DC pushes McLaren through sand
Pantano impressed with ... press
Klien likes teammate Webber
Montoya looks for F1 victory
Is the Iceman staying cool?
F1 chiefs love Bahrain track
Saturday practice notes: Bahrain
Button sets Bahrain pace   Click here for  AutoRacing1.com Saturday results and live timing

4/2/04
IROC

Lasoski beats NASCAR boys    Danny “The Dude” Lasoski called it a “dream come true” after pulling off a stunning victory Friday night in the Crown Royal International Race of Champions event at Texas Motor Speedway.   Lasoski led the field of 12 drivers from flag to flag and in the process became the second World of Outlaws Sprint Car racer to win a Crown Royal IROC race. The first was Steve Kinser, who won at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in April of 1994.   “When you’re mentioned in the same breath with Steve Kinser it’s an honor,” said Lasoski. “It’s important to me to represent the World of Outlaws.”

Lasoski’s average speed in the 67-lap, 100.5-mile race was 116.983 miles per hour.   Lasoski, who started from the pole by virtue of his last place finish at the Crown Royal IROC season opener in Daytona, was followed to the checkered flag by three NASCAR Nextel Cup stalwarts – Kevin Harvick (second), Jimmie Johnson (third) and Ryan Newman (fourth). Lasoski’s margin of victory over Harvick was .333 seconds.   "With five laps to go I told myself if Harvick is going to beat me he will have to run right through me,” explained Lasoski. “The Knoxville Nationals (Sprint Car Super Bowl) is very dear to me and I won that race three times. This victory ranks right up there.”

Kurt Busch, the reigning Crown Royal IROC champion, was involved in an incident on the third lap with Matt Kenseth and Newman. Kenseth spun out, hit the wall and was forced to retire from the race while Busch and Newman were able to continue. However, Busch's car suffered extensive body damage, resulting in an 11th-place finish.  The final two Crown Royal IROC races are scheduled for Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (May 2) and Atlanta Motor Speedway (Oct. 30).
Results of IROC XXVIII (Round 2):
1) Danny Lasoski (World of Outlaws), No. 20, 67 laps
2) Kevin Harvick (NASCAR), No. 29, 67, -0.333sec
3) Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR), No. 48, 67
4) Ryan Newman (NASCAR), No. 12, 67
5) Travis Kvapil (NASCAR Trucks), No. 24, 67
6) Scott Sharp (IRL), No. 8, 67
7) Helio Castroneves (IRL), No. 03, 67
8) Steve Kinser (WoO), No. 11, 67
9) Scott Dixon (IRL), No. 1, 67
10) J.J. Yeley (USAC), No. 80, 67
11) Kurt Busch (NASCAR), No. 97, 67
12) Matt Kenseth (NASCAR), No. 17, 3

4/2/04
WoO

Steve Kinser honored for 500 wins    Steve Kinser was honored for his 500th career World of Outlaws Sprint Series victory during a Friday afternoon ceremony at Texas Motor Speedway. Kinser was participating in a Crown Royal International Race of Champions press conference with Danny Lasoski, Travis Kvapil and Scott Sharp. Kinser recorded the 500th victory of his World of Outlaws career last Saturday night at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown in his Quaker State Maxim sprint car. Kinser has participated in World of Outlaws races internationally and nationally since the organization’s founding in March, 1978.

Texas Motor Speedway commissioned a special piece of artwork that included photo highlights of Kinser’s World of Outlaws career. The artwork also detailed all 500 of Kinser’s WoO victories. The “King of the Outlaws” also received a green and white leather jacket designed especially for the occasion by Jeff Hamilton.

STEVE KINSER on his 500 WoO wins: “It is a big memory. We have had a lot of success with the sprint cars. It (win number 500) is just something I wanted to try to get out of the way as soon as we could this season and it’s over with. It seems like the more prestige you put on something the harder it is sometimes to achieve But we have been running very good and we have a good race team. When you accomplish something like this, you have to thank a lot of people such as our race team. I really want to thank everybody who has been a part of my success over the years.”

4/2/04

Forsythe and Mi-Jack Conquest complete Homestead testing    As the gleam of the 2003 championship-winning season fades in the rear-view mirror and the reality of the 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford approaches like an oncoming train, the title-winning Forsythe Championship Racing squad and the new drivers of Mi-Jack Conquest Racing took to the testing trail this week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Defending series champion Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) ran his first test session of the 2004 preseason Friday, joined by teammates Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Rodolfo Lavin (#3 Corona Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), as well as Mi-Jack Conquest Racing rookies Justin Wilson (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Alex Sperafico (#24 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone).

The Forsythe trio completed two days of trouble-free testing on the road course of the Homestead circuit Friday, wrapping up three days of testing that started with a day-long session at Sebring on Tuesday before the team moved south to Homestead.

“We all had a good test, we made a lot of changes on the cars over the week and got a lot of miles in,” Tracy said. “The car felt really good and was balanced pretty well. It’s hard to say exactly how the car will feel until we get to Long Beach and see what the track conditions are like but we feel pretty good.”

The Mi-Jack Conquest squad made its first test runs of the season since naming Wilson and Sperafico as its drivers last week. Wilson ran in a Reynard on Thursday, as the team was still working on its Lola in its Indianapolis shop, and was reported to be as fast as the Forsythe Lolas in his first stint behind a wheel since leaving the Formula 1 Jaguar team after the 2003 season. The 6’4” Wilson took some time to get accustomed to his new ride, including having to adjust to a different body position, but felt good about his first session.

“I thought it went quite well. I was just getting used to the car at first, but once I did, I felt really good,” Wilson said. “The main thing for me was the seat position. You are more laid down in these cars than you are in F1 but it’s actually quite comfortable once you get used to it. I think with a little more seat time and more time with the team we’ll be fine.”

Sperafico, who ran a pair of Champ Car races a year ago with Dale Coyne Racing, wrapped up the session with 120 miles of testing Friday to give the second-year Champ Car squad reason to be pleased as it prepares for another test run in Fontana April 13-14.

“I thought we made some good progress and it is nice to get some testing behind us,” said Mi-Jack Conquest Racing co-owner Eric Bachelart. “Alex had not been in the car since Miami but he got up to speed by the end of the day. We ran a lot of miles and neither guy made any mistakes. I think we have a lot of potential on this team.”

The teams and drivers of the Champ Car World Series will take the next week to prepare for the April 16-18 season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, with a number of them leaving early for California to take part in two days in testing on the road course at California Speedway.

4/2/04

21 Days to opening of Pepsi IMAX   Construction continues at full throttle inside the Pepsi IMAX Theatre at DAYTONA USA in preparation for the arrival of NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience on Wednesday, April 21. The 257-seat Pepsi IMAX Theatre will be one of only 236 IMAX Theatres in the world and one of only four 3D theatres in the State of Florida and the only 3D theatre in Central Florida.  The attached photo taken on Thursday shows the area where the new IMAX screen will expand from 28 feet to 38 feet, six inches.  Inside the new Pepsi IMAX Theatre, guests will experience NASCAR 3D:The IMAX Experience with 3D IMAX Technology that includes 12,000 watts of digital surround sound and a 15,000-watt lamp.  NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience puts fans in the drivers seat to explore the world of today's elite NASCAR drivers and teams. Narrated by Golden Globe Award-winning actor Kiefer Sutherland, NASCAR: The IMAX Experience 3D will feature rare behind-the-scenes glimpses as well as gripping action on the track.  Both NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience and the award-winning Daytona 500: The Movie will be shown inside the Pepsi IMAX Theatre.

4/2/04

Michelin blames Bahrain track  Fernando Alonso, David Coulthard and Anthony Davidson all lost time in the second hour when their Michelin tires deflated - the Scot enduring a wild ride across one of the expansive gravel traps as a result - but Michelin program manager Pascal Vasselon was able to point to a correctable problem out on track as the cause. “Three of our drivers suffered damaged tires during the course of today's free practice, and we have found identical marks on all three affected tires," he said, "They all suffered curb impact damage prior to deflating. Michelin has collaborated with the FIA's technical department in order to establish what caused this damage, and an inspection of the track has revealed that two drainage hatches have become detached from their concrete bases, creating sharp ridges that damaged any tire that crossed them. A temporary cure has been set up for today's remaining track activities, and a permanent solution will be in place before F1 practice resumes tomorrow morning.”

As expected, track temperatures were extremely hot – more than 50 degrees at times – and there were a higher than usual number of spins during the day as drivers adjusted to a new and unfamiliar track. “We have brought three different dry weather tires to this event and all have been very suitable for the conditions we have encountered so far," Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier reported, "The track has evolved a great deal since cars first ran this morning and will doubtless continue to do so throughout the weekend. That is a traditional characteristic of any new venue. This makes a definitive tire choice tricky, of course, because drivers and engineers need to predict the rate of evolution as accurately as possible when they make their definitive tire choice this evening. However, I would like to congratulate the Bahraini authorities on doing a very good job here at Sakhir. This is a fine track with an interesting layout and a really good surface that offers plenty of grip.”

4/2/04

BAR announces technical partnership  With the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship gathering pace, Lucky Strike B·A·R Honda is pleased to announce that it has agreed to a Technical Partnership with leading software company SAP UK. The partnership commences immediately and formalizes an existing three-year relationship between B·A·R and SAP UK. B·A·R originally linked up with SAP UK in December 2000, having started a phased evaluation of the IT system in April of that year. The implementation started in February 2001 and went live in September of the same year - an extremely fast implementation given the complexity of B·A·R's business processes.   The SAP solution at B·A·R replaced a fragmented collection of software with an integrated process, effectively providing a closed loop of control right across the business, from finance to the pit lane. The team gains particular advantage from the degree of functionality in the lifing system. David Richards, B·A·R Team Principal, commented: "A Formula One team is a fairly complex business to manage. The difference between success and failure is very small, so you have to take advantage in every area that you can. SAP has - without a doubt - given us the opportunity to maximize our performance across a range of functions and is now an integral element of our operation. I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with SAP."   Martin Metcalf, Managing Director of SAP UK, Ireland and Africa, said: "B·A·R has put the SAP solution at the heart of its business. We have delivered a solution designed specifically for the requirements of motor sport teams to ensure speedy delivery and fast time to benefit. Our announcement today deepens the relationship SAP UK and B·A·R already enjoy, and takes us further along the path of a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership."

4/2/04

Latest F1 news in brief from Bahrain 

Fisi doesn't feel well
Minardi sign Arab sponsor
Klien quicker than Webber
Toyota on for Malaysia repeat
Technical problems for Renault
Ferrari chased in Bahrain
BAR third in Bahrain
Pantano makes progress
Williams on song in Bahrain
Raikkonen spews fire 

4/2/04

Bridgestone and Champ Car extend tire deal   The name of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford cannot be said without mentioning the fabled tire manufacturer, and rightly so, as the Champ Car World Series could not provide one of the truest tests in all of motorsport without the strong support of Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT).

As they have been for the last two seasons, Bridgestone Potenza racing tires are standard equipment on each one of the 750hp turbocharged Champ Cars, but the commitment to the series goes far beyond supplying a full field with tires for every practice, qualifying, testing and race session during the 2004 season.

BFNT will again be a prominent part of the Champ Car World Series, with its flagship brand returning as presenting sponsor of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. The cutting-edge technology of Champ Cars, and the fact that the series delivers brand awareness to major markets around the world with its successful street events, gives the Bridgestone brand one of the top marketing platforms in all of motorsports.  More....

4/2/04

Laguna Seca round under the lights  Fans of endurance sports car racing have always loved the sights, sounds and thrills of racing at night. Under the cover of darkness, exotic sports cars come alive with red-hot glowing brakes, flaming exhausts and sparks from contact as drivers battle both the elements and other drivers.

While American Le Mans Series fans have come to expect these sights in events such as the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Chevy presents Petit Le Mans, the two longest races of the season, they now have a new "night racing" event to look forward to at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

The 2004 American Le Mans Series season will conclude with the running of the Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships at the famed Monterey road racing circuit Oct. 14-16. The season-ending event will be a four-hour race that starts at 4 p.m. (PT) on Saturday, Oct. 16, and concludes at 8 p.m., well after darkness has fallen on the 2.238-mile, 12-turn track.

It will be the first time in the long history of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca that the track has hosted a night racing event, and track officials say the response has been overwhelmingly positive. More....

4/2/04

New Live Timing & Scoring page  AutoRacing1.com adds a new feature today - a live Formula One Timing and Scoring page.  Click here.

The Bahrain Grand Prix Schedule Of Track Activity (all times EST)
1st Free Practice Fri. Apr. 2, 3 a.m.-4 a.m.
2nd Free Practice Fri. Apr. 2, 6 a.m.-7 a.m.
3rd Free Practice Sat. Apr. 3, 2 a.m. - 2:45 a.m.
4th Free Practice Sat. Apr. 3, 3:15 a.m. - 4 a.m.
Qualifying Sat. Apr. 3, 5 a.m. - 8 a.m.
Bahrain Grand Prix Sun. Apr. 4, 7:30 a.m.

4/2/04

Honda offers Arabic website  An Arabic version of Honda's Formula One website, www.hondaf1.com, was launched today (Friday), increasing the number of languages offered on HondaF1.com to seven. HondaF1.com is one of the first F1 websites to offer news updates in Arabic every day of a race weekend, and gives Arabic speaking fans the chance to keep up to date with all the action during this weekend's inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix and throughout the 2004 season. HondaF1.com is the only seven language Formula One website, keeping fans up to date with the latest information from Honda's F1 activities in English, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Spanish and, from today, Arabic. Go to www.hondaf1.com and click on 'Arabic'.

4/2/04

Bahrain Practice 1: Ferrari 1-2  Michael Schumacher led the first free practice session at the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix beating his teammate Rubens Barrichello. During the first hour of running at the new International circuit both Ferrari drivers completed 13 laps of the 5.417km long track, however, it was Michael who had the edge. The six-times World Champion clocked a 1:31.158 to slide into the top position on the timesheets,  comfortably ahead of Barrichello’s best time, which was 0.493 seconds slower than Michael’s. Anthony Davidson excelled during Friday’s practicing. Davidson clocked a 1'32"958 to take third place ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya, regular BAR driver Jenson Button and David Coulthard.  Click here for live timing and scoring.

4/2/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Schumacher denies $100m Toyota deal
Montagny assesses Bahrain on foot
Goings-on in Bahrain pitlane
Massa holds wild falcon
Sakhir not so dirty: Barrichello
Court re-opens Senna trial
Sand might spoil Bahrain's big race
Button predicts podium-repeat
Renault builds best F1 cars: Ralf
Ferrari block qualifying reform
F1 cars to rip-up Bahrain surface? 

Montoya sat-down with Patrick Head
Honda simulated Bahrain-sand on dynos
Bahrain threatens Silverstone: Ecclestone
Schu says Bahrain track is 'spectacular'
True track-test on Sunday: Tilke
Foreign Office intensifies Bahrain threat
Coulthard to become F1 'journeyman'
Heidfeld criticizes Bahrain
German brothers top F1 millions-list
Brazil wins new five-year F1 contract
Thunderstorms on way to Bahrain
Bernie pans Bahrain terror-threat

Gascoyne works on Toyota's problems
One tire-company likely to dominate
Sand problem is in the air
F1 cars about to slow down: Brawn
Sam Michael supports 'tactical' engine rule
Montoya plays down Bahrain threat
Jordan unveil 'Ban the Bomb' message
Alonso poses with camels
Big-wigs happy with qualifying tweak 

4/1/04

Eurointernational announces 2004 lineup   Eurointernational Group is pleased to announce its line up for the 2004 Formula Renault 2000 North American Championship. Argentinean Juan Martin Ponte and Venezuelan Ricardo Imery, will be behind the wheels of the two Formula Renault 2000 cars entered by Eurointernational Srl and Euro International Inc. for the 13 races of the 2004 Formula Renault 2000 North American Championship, while a third FR2000 will be entered in selected races and used for testing.  More....

4/1/04

LB Start/Finish Line to become permanent   The famous Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach start/finish line, which has seen drivers like Andretti, Unser, Zanardi and Tracy cross it first in previous Grands Prix, will become a permanent part of Long Beach’s Shoreline Drive before next Tuesday’s Toyota Pro/Celebrity Press Day. The start/finish line will be painted with a special checkered-flag pattern with the words “Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach” written facing both directions in the eastbound lanes of Shoreline Drive. The design will be unveiled during a brief ceremony at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. “We wanted to commemorate the point where the field of Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach hopefuls can make their dreams of winning this race come true,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “For three days, crossing this line first is the goal of every driver on the track. And for the other 362 days of the year, it will serve as a reminder of the excitement of Grand Prix in downtown Long Beach.” Tickets for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, taking place April 16-18, can be ordered via credit card by using the toll-free ticket hotline, (888) 82-SPEED. Tickets can also be purchased on-line at www.longbeachgp.com, at the ticket office at 430 East First Street in Long Beach, between Elm and Linden Streets in downtown Long Beach or at Ticketmaster locations throughout Southern California, including all Robinsons-May, Tower Records and Wherehouse stores.

4/1/04

Ecclestone says Ferrari is in the way of qualifying fix   "I'm not happy with qualifying at all," said Bernie Ecclestone. "The problem is that we are operating under a democracy, so we have to get everybody to agree and it's not possible." Ecclestone laid the blame for the lack of change squarely at the feet of Ferrari. "At the moment it's the best possible decision for Ferrari," said Ecclestone. "I said when they were at the regulations that this is a Michael regulation. And I don't blame them not agreeing to change it." "We all want something that is as entertaining as possible," said Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn. "We all have different views about what we think would be the ideal format and unfortunately in Formula One we don't get much opportunity to try things out, to see if they work, change them etc. I don't think you should be chopping and changing the format too often. Obviously if something's very wrong then it needs to be fixed for the good of Formula One." Brawn gave his approval to the latest amendments to the qualifying format, and said that having an increased break between the two Saturday sessions will give greater scope for a more meaningful first segment. "Now, drivers will at least be able to push a bit harder in the first session, as we know there is time to bring the car back to the pits before the second half if it goes off the track or has a problem."

4/1/04

Ross Brawn wants 700 HP F1 cars   Speaking ahead of this weekend's inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix, Ferrari's Ross Brawn agreed with Jarno Trulli's recent comments that aerodynamic advances, coupled with the tire war, have meant that speeds have escalated alarmingly. "It is inevitable, with ten teams all trying to make their cars go faster that speeds will increase," said Brawn. "Also, the tire war speeds up this process. But the F1 Technical Working Group is always monitoring the current performance of the cars. All of us are interested in finding a new technical package to reduce speeds, as we are not interested in absolute speed, only in being quicker than the opposition. We all support this and fairly major rule changes are planned for 2006 to achieve this and 2008 sees a major change to the engine rules. I think a drop in engine performance to around 700 horsepower would be sensible. However, I do believe that Formula 1 cars really need to be fast!"  [Editor's Note:  F1 cars are so light compared to a Champ Car that even if a Champ Car engine made 100 more HP, a F1 car would blow it in the weeds.]

4/1/04

Understatement of the year   A reader writes, Scott Dixon's comment after his recent F1 test, "The car handles a lot better than an IRL chassis; it is a lot more nimble."  This has to be the understatement of the year if not the century. How can Scott even compare the two?  A Crapwagon and an F1 car.  Scott Anderson  Dear Scott, while your observation certainly is true, the same can be said for Champ Cars.  They weigh the same as an IRL car - both are grossly overweight.  An IRL car has to be strong & heavy to withstand the pounding against concrete walls at high speed.  There is no reason for a road racing series like Champ Car to have such heavy cars.  Mark C.

4/1/04

Casting for Earnhardt movie   "Spider-Man" co-star J.K. Simmons and Elizabeth Mitchell have joined the cast of ESPN's movie about NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt. The movie, titled "3" after the number of Earnhardt's car, is set to begin filming April 14 in Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., ESPN says. Barry Pepper ("61*," "Saving Private Ryan") is playing Earnhardt. Russell Mulcahy ("Highlander," "Skin") will direct the film, which will track Earnhardt's life from the small town of Kannapolis, N.C., his rise through the NASCAR ranks and his lightning-rod status as both a hugely popular and widely reviled figure among the sport's fans. Earnhardt died in a crash in the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. His son, Dale Jr., won the race this year. Simmons, a regular on HBO's "Oz" and the ABC series "The D.A.," will play Dale's father, Ralph Earnhardt, a driver in NASCAR's early days who introduced his son to stock-car racing. Mitchell ("The Lyon's Den") will play Teresa, Dale Earnhardt's wife. The movie is scheduled to premiere on ESPN in December.

4/1/04

Atlanta to get SAFER Barrier  Atlanta Motor Speedway will install the new Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barrier walls prior to the Oct. 29-31 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, AMS President and General Manager Ed Clark announced today. The speedway's parent company, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. has placed Wes Harris, SMI vice president of development, in charge of the project for all SMI tracks. Exact dates for the installation have yet to be determined, but construction on the steel-and-foam walls is not expected to begin until late summer. The project is expected to take approximately two weeks to complete. The SAFER barrier system is made up of steel tubes and pads of hard foam, which are affixed to a speedway’s concrete walls to absorb some of the energy that is transferred during a crash. The SAFER wall project began in the fall of 2000 and remains an ongoing safety initiative among NASCAR, the Indy Racing League, Dr. Dean Sicking and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Based on measurements by these engineers, Atlanta Motor Speedway will install approximately 8,000 linear feet of the SAFER barrier, which will cover approximately 75 percent of the speedway’s outer walls. The SAFER barrier system will be placed outside of all four turns, as well as inside turn 2.

4/1/04

Higgins and Kneifel to oversee Trans-Am competition   As part of him being named Champ Car Steward and Director of Support Series Competition, Former Indy Lights racer Derek Higgins will oversee competition in this year’s Motorock Trans-Am Series championship. Higgins, who has nearly two decades of experience as a driver, team manager and professional driving coach, will work full time out of Champ Car’s Indianapolis offices and will report to Champ Car Race Director and former Trans-Am driver Chris Kneifel.

Higgins and Kneifel will oversee Trans-Am competition at all 10 races this season, using the successful team model used by the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford series. Higgins will be the primary contact for all Trans-Am officiating and decisions made during the qualifying sessions and the races. Higgins, along with Kneifel, will be assisted by up to six other team members monitoring the races.

Higgins was most recently employed as a professional drivers’ coach for rising Champ Car star Rodolfo Lavin. He most recently competed in Indy Lights, and has also raced in Formula Ford, F-3 and F3000 competition. Higgins, who was born in Ireland, is also fluent in Spanish.

“I’m very excited to join the Trans-Am Series,” said Higgins. “Although this is a bit of a career change, having driven and observed cars gives me a very good perspective from which to officiate races. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“Working with this team is going to make my job a lot easier,” added Higgins. “We’ll work together to come to the right decision. The team allows me to see the bigger picture. I’m glad to be part of this team and I plan to have a positive effect.

“We have the competitors’ best interest at heart,” concluded Higgins. “We want good racing. We want to keep it fair.”

4/1/04

Mi-Jack Conquest team adds 3rd car   Mi-Jack Conquest Racing announced today the addition of a third car to its 2004 Champ Car program, making three full-time cars announced in one week. Elliot Bachelart, a twelve-year old emerging sensation from Indianapolis, IN was announced as the driver, making him the youngest driver by far to suit up for a full-time Champ Car campaign.

A relative unknown outside of karting circles, and some would even say within karting circles, Elliot Bachelart nonetheless proved himself capable of handling a fifteen horsepower Yamaha - Fittipaldi at three recent, impressive tests at Whiteland Raceway. Team owner, Eric Bachelart, said, “I’ve seen enough to convince me that Elliot will have no problem stepping into a seven hundred horsepower Champ Car and being competitive straight away. After testing seventeen-year old Nelson Philippe a few weeks ago with much success, I felt the time was right to look to even younger talent to help build our team for the future.”

Elliot will compete in a car made up from parts from both Lola and Reynard. The new Lo-nard, as it will be known, will combine the best from both manufacturers and allow the team to utilize spares from the cars of the team’s other two full time drivers, Justin Wilson and Alex Sperafico.

“This concept, while appearing unconventional to the layman, makes perfect sense for our team as we can now develop special parts for both cars on a single platform,” said team manager Chris Mower. “And on top of that”, Mower added, “we also believe we will have a significant weight advantage with Elliot in the cockpit as he barely tips the scales at ninety pounds fully suited up. That can make a real difference in acceleration and fuel mileage.”

For his part, Elliot feels ready to tackle the tough rookie duties in the notoriously competitive Champ Car series. Elliot said, “When I was practicing at Whiteland last weekend, I passed two guys in two laps. I think I’m ready.”

Eric Bachelart denied that he gave special consideration to Elliot for the ride, despite the fact Elliot is his own son. Bachelart said, “Many people don’t know this, but in the off-season Elliot sold all of his personal possessions and put his entire life’s savings on the line just to get this ride. $178 is a lot of money to a twelve year old. That showed me all I needed to know about his commitment level. He’s earned this opportunity.”

Elliot is scheduled for a seat fitting in the MJCR shop early next week and even then, the team is looking to leverage the diminutive size of their new chauffeur. “We intend to build a custom seat for Elliot out of last year’s Indianapolis area phone book”, said Mower. “Based on our preliminary measurements, this should put his helmet just above the cockpit sides.” Asked whether the sub five-foot Elliot and his six foot three teammate, Justin Wilson may be the subject of paddock jokes throughout the year, Eric Bachelart just smiled and said, “When Elliot steps onto the winner’s podium, he will be able to look everyone straight in the eye and have the last laugh.”  April Faluya

4/1/04
Industry News

Oval planned outside of Madrid  UPDATE  We moled around a little bit in Jarama last weekend at the Nissan World Series race and got some information regarding the future of the Jarama track and the formerly announced (Oval) track in the southwest of Madrid, in Pinto. The Pinto project continues to be nothing but hot air.   A few days ago something was aired on Spanish television TVE about the Pinto project, that showed only the wishful thinking of the initiators.

So far there are no official drawings on the Pinto project, only sketches. A large area near Pinto was acquired by the initiators, a group of Spanish businessmen. They plan to build apartment buildings on one half of the property.  From the money they hope to raise with that, they want to built the track and some event centers on the other half, right in the neighborhood. Predictions are that the neighbors will complain about the noise.

Jarama Track Director Manuel Vidal does not believe the Pinto track will be built in the next several years, if ever.  He also has doubts as to the kind of oval series (from overseas) that would be attracted to come over to Madrid to run on the Pinto oval. And he is in doubt whether the plan to finance the project could work or not.

In the TV piece, Pinto had been introduced as a replacement for Jarama, which, according to Vidal, is nonsense. The two projects do not have anything to do with each other, because Jarama is a property of the Spanish automobile club RACE, and is a non-profit-organization, which for the new planned Jarama track, will also apply.  Pinto is purely a private project.  From a financial basis the two tracks have nothing in common.

As for a replacement for the old Jarama track, that is still planned by RACE to be a reproduction of the existing track layout with all the typical elevation changes, but more safety (to attract F1 again) and better buildings, built close to the Madrid airport, in cooperation with the Madrid administration. They plan to exchange the old property against the new one. The old Jarama track has private houses close to the track on three sides (on the other side is the N 1 freeway), with all the noise complaints, despite the track being there long before the houses were built.  After the existing track is demolished, homes would be built quickly in its place. At the new location near the airport RACE does not expect the noise complaints, because there are no towns, and there never will be because of the airport.

If this exchange turns out to not be possible for some reason, the track will remain, were it is, because it is RACE's property, and they would modernize it and would try to achieve some kind of settlement with the neighborhood.   By the way, something interesting: Since the Jarama track is a non-profit-organization, they do not charge the spectators for access to the races! Access to the World Series by Nissan Race last Sunday was free!  They only charge people for access, if the series racing there wants a sanctioning fee, which is not the case with the Nissan World Series and some other series. This season the only exceptions are the MotoGP race and the Truck race.  Guenter Reinhold/AutoRacing1.com  2/4/04 - This eTracks.com article talks about a combination oval track and road course being proposed by the Mayor of Pinto, a suburb of Madrid, Spain.  It will be interesting to see if it gets built and whether NASCAR, the IRL or Champ Car have a go at it.

4/1/04

Last minute entries for Indy 500   UPDATE  Complete entry list as of 3/31/04.  3/31/04 - Penske Racing, the winningest team in Indianapolis 500 history, led seven teams that combined to file 13 entries March 31 for the 88th Indianapolis 500. The flurry of entries came on the deadline day for filing, as all entries must be postmarked by midnight Wednesday, March 31. Additional entries are expected to arrive in the next few days. The 88th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 30 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The teams combined to enter a total of 25 cars, including backup cars. Andretti Green Racing filed four entries totaling eight cars, more than any other team this year, while Marlboro Team Penske filed three entries totaling six cars.

Filing two entries for four total cars was 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Cheever Racing, while 1996 Indy winner Hemelgarn Racing, PDM Racing and Mo Nunn Racing each filed an entry for two cars. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing filed an entry for a single car.

4/1/04

Celebrating the life of Ayrton Senna  Sutton Motorsport Images celebrates the life of Ayrton Senna ten years after his tragic death by launching on its website - the Ayrton Senna Definitive Collection.

Keith Sutton, CEO Sutton Motorsport Images, began photographing Senna on his arrival to Britain and Formula Ford racing in 1981. A strong personal and working relationship was formed over the coming years as Keith performed Ayrton’s PR duties and sent photographs of his successes in junior formulae the world over.

When Ayrton Senna entered Formula One in 1984, Keith continued to pay particular focus to the genius of the young Brazilian as he went on to take forty-one GP victories, sixty-five pole positions and three World Championships - earning himself in the process the mantle of arguably the greatest racing driver of them all.

Following Senna’s tragic death at Imola on 1 May 1994, Keith Sutton has been involved in a number of projects celebrating the life of Ayrton, including the acclaimed book Ayrton Senna - A Personal Tribute, and an exhibition of photographs depicting the career of Senna, currently housed at the Donington Park Museum.

Now the Sutton Motorsport Images Media Site and Poster Site will carry the Ayrton Senna Definitive Collection: A selection, picked personally by Keith Sutton, of the finest and rarest images of Ayrton Senna available, charting the career of the much-missed legend.

Keith Sutton: “I was fortunate enough to take literally thousands of images of Ayrton Senna, many hundreds of which are currently available on our online archive. It seemed fitting at the arrival of this important anniversary, ten years after that fateful weekend, that I should look back at the images I have taken of him and make a special selection of those that mean the most to me.

“It is inevitable that the media and public attention to the anniversary will be intensive over the coming weeks. I hope therefore, that our Definitive Collection will be a source of inspiration for all those wishing to remember the life of a true legend and a good friend.”

4/1/04

More calls for Champ Car V10's   Readers of AutoRacing1.com know how we feel about Champ Car's next generation cars - Screaming V10 engines and a lighter, more nimble car are essential.  We have long maintained that Champ Car's future lie as a North American based road racing series with a strong international presence, i.e. to become an economical version of F1 with similar cars but limited in cost through much stricter rules.  Now others are beginning to see the light.  This Racing Press article says (excerpts), OWRS' survival is also predicated on a reinvention of Champ Car racing in general. The series can no longer rest on the fiction that it is the premiere open-wheel series in America or that its schedule is the most demanding in the world. Those ideas went out the window with the baby, the bathwater, and the oval tracks on the Champ Car schedule. Champ Car will never return to the heady days of the late 1980s or early 1990s. Nor, in fact, should it.

Fact is, the core fan base for Champ Car no longer includes people who care about oval racing in the slightest. For them, anything oval-related is automatically equated with evil and boredom, considering that the two major oval series in America are NASCAR and the IRL. Plus, the new ruling class in Champ Car is comprised of road racers without any history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Fans, drivers, teams, and managers who do care about Indy and oval racing have already left Champ Car racing. And the sole token oval remaining on the Champ Car schedule is The Milwaukee Mile, a track that is itself a fence-sitter with a Champ Car event and an IRL race.

If Champ Car is to thrive, those involved in the sport require a fundamental perspective shift. The battleground and enemy have changed. The IRL is no longer the enemy and the United States has ceased to be the field of combat. Every day that Champ Car fans and the series itself spend battling IRL is a wasted one. Champ Car's most marketable on-track product is single-seater road and street racing on a worldwide scale, and precisely because of that OWRS' new primary rival should be Formula One.

Ironically, if OWRS plays its cards right and can keep the series afloat until 2005, they will be in a much better position to challenge F1 than CART was back in the 1980s and 1990s. Formula One is embroiled in legal battles and power struggles, and its political climate is so inflammable that a misstep or two could poleaxe the series. Disparity between the haves and have-nots is enormous, with only one or two teams consistently a threat to win. Perhaps most troubling is that the opportunity to drive F1 falls only to those with enormous pocketbooks or miraculous good luck, and those that make it to the driver ranks are pampered, treated like royalty, and consequently are placed far out of the reach of the lifeblood of any racing series -- the fans.

A rejuvenated and "new formula" Champ Car offers an attractive alternative to Grand Prix motor racing. Even in its current "spec" state, Champ Cars are still technologically advanced; however, with added weight and fewer driver aids, they are more challenging to drive than the glorified go-karts that are F1 machines. If Champ Cars receive the long-rumored makeover to normally-aspirated V10 power in 2005, the added power and high-pitched engine sound will be a seductive attraction to draw in new fans. But the biggest draw for Champ Car over F1 is Champ Car's accessibility and competition. More drivers have a chance to win in Champ Car, and the fans can actually interact with Champ Car drivers at the track -- a luxury not afforded to the "unwashed masses" who follow F1.

Champ Car also needs to drop the Milwaukee race after the 2004 event. Let IRL and NASCAR run ovals. The focus for Champ Car should be on road courses. There are so many good road courses worldwide that would be good candidates for Champ Car races (Silverstone, anyone? How about Brands Hatch? Magny-Cours?)

My point is that it is hard for the rank-and-file racing fan in America to cheer for a Champ Car series whose goal is to wage a head-to-head mudslinging and political war with the IRL. The past few years have proven that that battle is a losing one because of that gorilla of a race in Indianapolis, no matter how irrelevant Champ Car fans may consider it because of their hatred of Tony George. But cast Champ Car as a contender for the world road racing crown against F1, and you have a different story. In that light, Champ Car can be recast as the quintessential American underdog going up against the European Goliath -- a cause that would serve to unite domestic race fans instead of divide them.

4/1/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Schumacher hates air-conditioning
Schu was not offered 'preferential' treatment
Winner to get sweeter-than-usual shower
Atmosphere 'frantic' in cloudy Sakhir
Schu brothers: Formula One is 'taboo'
Stewart backs F1's move to Middle East
Talk of the desert town is ... security
Bahrain didn't try to cancel GP
Not as hot as expected in Bahrain
Stewart warns Europe will 'lose' F1-races 

F1 teams impressed with Bahrain circuit
Bahrain 'glue' sand to desert surrounds
Indianapolis Speedway to be resurfaced
Rubens has solution for wild drivers
Austria demolishes axed F1-circuit

  Much More...click on 2004 archives button below
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