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DATE

News (chronologically)

4/17/04

Paul Newman on Larry King Tonight   Newman/Haas Racing co-owner Paul Newman share his thoughts on a number of subjects on one of the nation's most popular talk shows tonight as Newman will appear on CNN's Larry King Live Saturday evening. Newman will discuss the Hole In The Wall Camps that he founded as well as his participation in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford as a long-time team co-owner. The show, which is guest-hosted by Heather Mills McCartney, will air on CNN at 9 p.m. Eastern Time (and repeat numerous times). Newman's drivers Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will be participating in this week's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which is the season opener for the 2004 Champ Car World Series.

4/17/04

Chris Dyson surveying the scene in Champ Car  UPDATE See related rumor as AutoRacing1.com has just learned that Dyson is indeed eyeing open wheel racing.  4/17/04 - Spent some time with ALMS driver Chris Dyson today.  Chris of course is a key part of Dyson Racing, started by his famous father Rob Dyson.  We quizzed him on what he was doing here in Long Beach, being introduced around by Steve Potter.  Might Dyson Racing have an interest in Champ Cars?  "Our primary focus for 2004 is ALMS.  We are keeping our eyes wide open for the future," stated Dyson.  "It is important that we stay flexible and constantly evaluate all opportunities  Sports car racing is important to us, but that doesn't mean we might not want do other things as well."  Might the young Dyson want to try his hand at Champ Car racing?  "Maybe someday," stated Dyson.  "Perhaps a year in Atlantics first might help me get acclimated with open wheel cars, assuming I ever decided to make the switch."

4/17/04

Ranger tagged as an amazing talent   Keep your eye on Toyota Atlantic rookie Andrew Ranger.  Alan Labrosse, who has managed a number of drivers, and who himself was an accomplished driver, told Autoracing1.com that "he is the most amazing talent Canada has ever produced - better that Jacques Villeneuve and better than Gilles Villeneuve."  He said Richard Spinard, a top racing instructor who has instructed the best of them, said the kid is just phenomenal.  The fact that he qualified 5th in his very first Toyota Atlantic race is actually disappointing and surprising, they expected him to be up higher on the grid.  Perhaps if it had not rained today he would have been.  Mark C.

4/17/04

Servia to move up on the grid  We currently show Oriol Servia as starting  17th for tomorrow's Champ Car race in Long Beach.  However, we were just informed that due to a timing and scoring snafu that threw out his last qualifying lap, he will be given that lap back, which should move him up to somewhere around 12th on the grid because his last lap was significantly faster. 

4/17/04

Dalziel retains Toyota Atlantic pole   Following a wet and abbreviated final qualifying session for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Scotsman Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works) retained the pole position based on his time from Friday's provisional qualifying session, and will share the front row with 2002 Toyota Atlantic champion Jon Fogarty (#96 Turbodyne/Wine Country Motorsports), who paced today's session.

Dalziel's best lap of 1:18.563 (90.180 mph) from Friday's session was more than 11 seconds quicker than Fogarty's best lap of 1:29.689 (78.993 mph) today, owing to the fact that light but steady rains swept through Long Beach, forcing the drivers and teams to use rain tires throughout the session. As a result, none of the drivers improved their times from Friday's session.

Starting third on the grid will be Fogarty's Pacific Coast Motorsports teammate, Alex Figge (#69 Turbodyne/Wine Country Motorsports) with a best Friday time of 1:18.922 (89.770 mph). It is Figge's best starting position since he qualified on the outside pole at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2003, and he enters tomorrow's race looking to improve upon the career-best fifth place finish he established at Long Beach last year. In just its first race as a multi-car team, Pacific Coast Motorsports has two cars inside the top three.

Lynx Racing pilot Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing) occupies the fourth spot with a best Friday lap of 1:18.987 (89.696 mph). The starting position is the best of Sellers' five-race Toyota Atlantic career, eclipsing a previous best starting spot of sixth at Mid-Ohio last year. He enters tomorrow's race looking to improve on his career-best finish of fourth, which also came at Mid-Ohio in 2003.

Rounding out the top five was French Canadian Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) with a lap of 1:19.024 (89.654 mph). In addition to being the youngest driver in the field at age 17, Ranger is also the highest qualified rookie, and he looks to follow 2003 Toyota Atlantic champion A.J. Allmendinger as the second consecutive rookie driver to win the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Starting sixth will be Danica Patrick (#24 Argent Mortgage Company) at 1:19.275 (89.370 mph) in her fourth straight top-seven qualifying performance, and in the fourth row will be Brooks Associates Racing teammates, Ronnie Bremer (#12 Port-A-Cool) who starts seventh after posting a best lap of 1:19.278 (89.367 mph) and Tonis Kasemets (#6 Flexovit Abrasives/MK Ind./TMI/Red Line Oil) at 1:19.583 (89.024 mph). Both Bremer and Kasemets are series rookies making their first career Toyota Atlantic starts tomorrow.

Rocky Moran Jr. (#4 Healthcare Privileges/PaySystems/King Taco) starts ninth at 1:19.760 (88.826 mph), and rookie Chris Festa (#25 SpacePak/CareCentric) rounds out the top 10 after a best lap of 1:20.140 (88.405 mph).

4/17/04

Legault sells Montreal Champ Car rights  UPDATE  We spent some time with Alan Labrosse today and he did confirm with us that he has bought the rights to the Montreal race.  Normand Legault had several reasons for selling the race, both personal and due to the fact he is involved with other major projects. Labrosse is young, energetic, has been a race promoter in Canada for many y/ears, and says, "my primary goal is to grow the Char event into a huge success and in turn help the Champ Car series.  As for the comments that the IRL could be an alternate for Labrosse - absolutely not true.  "I am fully committed to Champ Car and my full focus is on Champ Car.  I don't have a plan B.   If there is no Champ Car race, there won't be a race," stated Labrosse. Yes, he does want to talk to OWRS about the commercial aspects of the sanctioning agreement he bought from Legault, because he feels some things have changed since that deal was originally signed, but he wants that conversation to be positive and meaningful.  And he is very confident this year's Montreal race will be a bigger success for Champ Car.  "I think that Michael Schumacher's domination of Formula 1 and the fact that there are no Canadians in F1 this year will lead to increased interest in our Champ Car race.  Canadian fans are very loyal to their countryman, especially those in Quebec," stated Labrosse.  Tickets will go on sale earlier this year because Legault would always wait until after his F1 race to put the Champ Car tickets on sale.  Labrosse is under no such constraints. Mark Cipolloni   4/17/04 - According to this morning Journal de Montreal, Normand Legault (GPF1 Montréal) sold Montreal's CART event's rights to Allan Labrosse, Labrosse is Patrick Carpenter (Champ Car) and Miguel Duhamel's (Super Bikes) agent and been around motor racing since the 70s, and he knows how things work. Labrosse is currently at Long Beach to talk with Molson, they own the events in Canada, but Labrosse, like Legault before him, owns the right to present the race at Île Notre-Dame's Gilles Villeneuve track. Labrosse seemingly wants a bigger piece of the cake, read that money.  Seemingly he's ready to sacrifice the 2004 event or even jump to IRL in 2005 if not satisfied money wise.  Seems like a bluff, but who knows. More to come tomorrow.

4/17/04

Kendall marks return to Trans-Am with pole  Tommy Kendall proved he hadn’t lost much in the five years he’s been away from Motorock Trans-Am Series competition by winning his 40th career pole Saturday for Sunday’s race, part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Kendall, driving the No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR, recorded a 1:44.657-minute lap at 67.695 miles per hour around the 1.968-mile temporary street circuit in wet conditions.

Boris Said was second quickest in the No. 33 New Century Mortgage/GE Access/ACS Express Ford Mustang, ahead of 2003 Rookie of the Year Jorge Diaz, Jr. (1:46.736). Paul Gentilozzi (No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR) and Michael Lewis (No. 12 Autocon Engineering Jaguar XKR) completed the top five.

Kendall, who ended the session on BFGoodrich Tires’ wet tire compound, recorded his quick time on the very last lap.

“This is better than I could have imagined,” said Kendall, who earned his second pole at Long Beach, the fourth-straight pole for Jaguar here, and the second-straight pole for Jaguar’s stock-block, overhead-cam, fuel-injected AJ-V8 engine. “I was very happy with the car yesterday, though we missed the gearing a little bit. Things really fell my way today. We put on the rain tires late in the session and we went back out.

“The secret to going fast in the wet is finding weird places for grip,” added Kendall. “The line is where you can get grip. It’s really about launching off the turn.

“My radio wasn’t working, so I just went out and ran every lap,” concluded Kendall. “I didn’t know what happened until I came in and everyone was giving me the thumbs up.”

Said earned his second-straight Long Beach pole. Interestingly, Said won from the outside pole here last year.

“Street circuits are really slippery in the rain, so we just did a few laps, recorded a pretty good time and parked it,” said Said. “We had a really good car in the dry, so hopefully tomorrow we’ll have some of that typical sunny California weather and we’ll put on good show for the fans. I’m really looking forward to going up against Tommy.”

4/17/04

BG Products renews Toyota Atlantic sponsorship   Continuing its long-standing association with the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokhama, Wichita, Ks.-based BG Products Inc. today announced it has renewed its sponsorship of the $10,000 "BG Products Rookie of the Year" award and is offering a $1,000 contingency prize to the winner of each event. "Choosing sponsorship for the Toyota Atlantic series is one of the easiest decisions that BG makes," said Sherry Huxtable, BG Products racing & promotions manager. "We are extremely pleased and proud to be a part of this series again in 2004. The Atlantic competition is some of the best in the world and is a great test for our high quality products. We wish the best for all of the teams and drivers during this season." To be eligible for the contingency award, teams must use BG Crankcase Oil and BG Gearbox Oil in their cars, and must also display the distinctive black and yellow BG Products logo on their race cars and driver uniforms. The BG Products Rookie of the Year will be the rookie driver who scores the most points throughout the 2004 Toyota Atlantic season, and will receive the $10,000 award at the season-ending awards banquet.

4/17/04

Bourdais tops wet Saturday practice   

Pos Driver # Engine/Chassis/Tire Lap Time Mph km/h Leader Previous
1 S. Bourdais 2 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:26.655 81.759 131.578
2 R. Hunter-Reay 4 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:27.809 80.684 129.848 1.154
3 A. Tagliani 8 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:28.653 79.916 128.612 1.998 0.844
4 M. Dominguez 55 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:28.854 79.735 128.321 2.199 0.201
5 M. Haberfeld 5 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:28.940 79.658 128.197 2.285 0.086
6 J. Wilson 34 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:30.039 78.686 126.633 3.384 1.099
7 A. Allmendinger 10 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:30.941 77.905 125.376 4.286 0.902
8 A. Sperafico 14 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:33.299 75.937 122.208 6.644 2.358
9 N. Philippe 17 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:37.841 72.411 116.534 11.186 4.542
10 O. Servia 11 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:38.080 72.235 116.251 11.425 0.239

4/17/04

Hunter-Reay fast in rain, spins too   Ryan Hunter-Reay likes driving in the rain and this morning's the track in Long beach was cold and very wet.  Hunter-Reay set 2nd fastest time in the wet behind Sebastien Bourdais but one time he pushed too hard and our photographer Leon Skowronski caught this spin sequence in the turn before the hairpin.

IMG_1403.JPG IMG_1404.JPG IMG_1406.JPG IMG_1407.JPG

4/17/04

Burton forced into backup car  Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Roush Racing Taurus, was involved in a happy hour accident and will be forced to go to a backup. Burton spoke about the incident afterwards. SOMETHING LIKE THIS SEEMS TO ALWAYS HAPPEN TO YOU HERE AT MARTINSVILLE. "Yeah, this is the third year in a row. I just had no brakes. Mark's having trouble with brakes. We're having trouble with brakes. We were on a 35-lap run or something like that and I just lost the brakes. Normally with our systems you can pump the pedal and you'll get a pedal. When I pumped it, I had no pedal. I went to get it again and only had rear brakes, so it wheel-hopped and I was along for the ride at that point." TONY STEWART CAME BY TO TALK TO YOU. WAS THERE CONTACT? "No. He was in the general vicinity and was just making sure he wasn't involved in any form or fashion. He had nothing to do with it." YOU GUYS TOOK A LONG TIME BUT DECIDED TO GO TO A BACKUP, CORRECT? "We didn't want to unload a backup, but we're gonna have to."

4/17/04

Rain hits Long Beach   It is raining in Long Beach this morning, which is sure to keep today's crowd down.  The Champ Cars are out on wet tires and the track is very wet.  However, this afternoon the weather is supposed to be a bit better.  Sunday's forecast is currently for no rain.

4/17/04

Hornish and Foyt on diets  According to this Indy Star article, Sam Hornish Jr. is on a diet to lose weight to get down to something closer to his diminutive teammate Helio Castroneves.  It seems the IRL is still using a ludicrous weighing system where the driver is not weighed with the car.  Champ Car abandoned that unfair system a couple of years ago.  F1 and most professional race series don't penalize the driver because being large is in your genes.  Meanwhile, A.J. Foyt, the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, has lost 30 pounds on his Atkins diet, dropping his weight from an all-time high of 282. Being in Japan, where he doesn't like the food, is helping, he said Friday. "If I stay here much longer, I'll lose another 30 pounds."

4/17/04

How hard did Takagi crash?  Tora Takagi crashed hard on Thursday at Motegi and added to the list of IRL cars that have been destroyed or significantly damaged over the years.  Slamming those hard concrete walls will do that.  This time Takagi hit so hard he snapped his HANS Device.  If not for that, it may have been his neck snapping.

4/17/04

Kangaroo TV   Champ Car is going high tech for its fans, who will now be able to get an up-close view of the action while sitting in their grandstand seats or wandering around the paddock.  Kangaroo.TV is renting the Race Director, a hand-held wireless device complete with headset.  The device — roughly the size of a paperback book — will give fans the ability to watch replays, keep up with live scoring, listen to the race broadcast and scanner channels and watch live action on the track from a variety camera angles just as if they were using Race Director on the internet..  It will rent from $34.95 for one day up to $69.95 for the weekend.

4/17/04

Al Unser III looking for a better day   Six-time LBGP champ Al Unser Jr. joined his son, "Just Al," Friday in Long Beach to help him transition up the Champ Car ladder to the Toyota Atlantic Series. The 21-year-old was plagued by mechanical problems and finished 19th out of 21 cars on the first day of qualifying in the Toyota Atlantic division. "He's just learning," said the elder Unser. "I told him some days are good. Other days are bad. As far as mechanics go, this wasn't a good day."   Unser completed 10 laps between practice and qualifying because of his car's issues. The younger Unser -- who also was joined at the race by his mother Shelley -- said he tries not to think much about the ties his father and grandfather have to the race. "It's a mental thing. I don't want to add any more pressure to myself," Unser said. "I really don't try to think about it."  He's hoping that Saturday will be a better day in Long Beach.

4/17/04
Industry News

Chaparral Gallery grand opening   The Grand Opening of Jim Hall's Chaparral Gallery is going on this weekend. The Grand Opening for the public is tomorrow, Saturday, April 17, although yesterday and today, there were other private festivities going on. Tomorrow, Jim is going to drive his Chaparral 2F from Chaparral Cars to the new Chaparral Gallery to kick off a full day of community celebration. Here are two recent newspaper articles regarding Jim Hall and the Chaparral Gallery:
JIM HALL CHANGES MOTORSPORTS WITH INNOVATIVE RACING CONCEPTS, DESIGN
EDITORIAL: HALL'S DYNASTY WILL BE PROTECTED AT PETROLEUM MUSEUM
Also, visit this website www.chaparralgallery.org

4/17/04

Good attendance Friday in Long Beach  UPDATE   "There are a lot of people walking around, there are the sounds of cars in the street, there's a lot of excitement,'' said Jim Michaelian, president of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. Michaelian said crowds appeared to be significantly up Friday, especially compared with what appeared to be thin attendance last year on an opening day marred by cloudy conditions. He also downplayed continued weather forecasts calling for a 30 percent chance of showers today. "We've been fortunate for 29 years. I look for another fortunate weekend,'' Michaelian said, referring to the Grand Prix's history of never having a Sunday showcase race rained on.  4/17/04 - A reader wrote to us late Friday, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I just left Long Beach, and I'm happy to announce that the place was packed! So much for the cries that because of the late start by OWRS there would be a smaller crowd than usual. As a matter of fact, I stopped by the LBGP ticket office on 1st street, and bought the last reserved grandstand ticket on the North side of the track (there may be more available on the other side of the track) . The ticket office employee told me that ticket sales are on the exact same pace as last year... It was also great to see the numerous IRL (with an x through it) shirts the fans were wearing. Keep up the great work over there at autoracing1. Charlie Frank 

4/16/04

Servia's times disallowed   Oriol Servia's car did not pass inspection after qualifying Friday for the Grand Prix of Long Beach. A Champ Car Series official said Servia will have to qualify into the race during today's second and final qualifying session.

4/16/04
Toyota Celebrity Race

Papis takes overall pole for celebrity race  Access Hollywood correspondent Tony Potts turned the fastest lap (1:48.364) in today’s qualifying session at the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race to take the pole position for the 28th Anniversary of the fan-favorite event on Saturday, April 17. The top professional driver was Lexus-powered Grand-Am driver Max Papis, with a lap time of 1:46.883.  In addition to winning the coveted inside front-row position for the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, Potts also was awarded the seventh annual “PEOPLE Pole Award.” Sponsored by PEOPLE Magazine, the award honors the top-celebrity qualifier for the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race with a $15,000 donation from PEOPLE to the pole sitter’s charity of choice. Potts designated Haven Hills, a charitable organization that provides shelter for battered women and children, to benefit from his Pole Award. The starting grid for Saturday’s Toyota
Celebrity Category Qualifying Time
1. Tony Potts 1:48.364
2. Andrew Firestone 1:49.118
3. Chris McDonald 1:50.096
4. Sean Astin 1:50.418
5. Carlos Bernard 1:50.707
6. Andrea Parker 1:51.372
7. Jill Pasant 1:52.345
8. Cliff Cummings 1:52.625
9. Melissa Joan Hart 1:52.912
10. Frankie Muniz 1:53.277
11. Laila Ali 1:53.303
12. Liza Snyder 1:55.362
13. Lil’ Kim 1:59.471
Professional Category Qualifying Time
(will start 30 seconds behind the celebrities on Saturday)

1. Max Papis 1:46.883
2. Peter Reckell 1:48.084
3. Dara Torres 1:48.196
4. Mike Follmer 1:48.402
The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race will begin at approximately noon PDT on Saturday, April 17 with a field of 17 drivers. The 10-lap race will be broadcast in its entirety on The Speed Channel on May 2 at 1:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., May 3 at 2:30 a.m., May 7 at 10 p.m., and May 9 at 2:30 p.m. All broadcast times are EST.

4/16/04

Said takes provisional pole  Boris Said was again atop the Motorock Trans-Am Series time charts as he set the quickest time in second-round practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Friday afternoon. Said, driving the No. 33 New Century Mortgage/GE Access/ACS Express Ford Mustang, bettered his earlier time by nearly one second, turning the 1.968-mile temporary street course in 1:22.298 minutes at 85.985 miles per hour.

Gentilozzi was pleased with the second spot, after lapping the Long Beach street course in 1:22.878 (85.485 mph), despite receiving a four minute penalty for causing a red flag after spinning in turn one and dislodging the tire barrier on lap three.

“I think the car has more in it. The Rocketsports team did well, but I don’t even feel like the car is that fast yet,” said Gentilozzi, who posted his fastest time on lap 14. “This is a great way to start the season. To have all three Rocketsports Jaguar drivers in the top five is hopefully a good sign for how the weekend will go.”

Returning to the Trans-Am Series after a six year hiatus, four-time series champion, Kendall was third quickest of the day, with a best lap of 1:23.133 (85.222mph).

“The car handled better in the second session,” said Kendall. “We had a broken sway bar in the first. It felt good to be out there today, it didn’t feel like I had been away.”

Born and raised in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw district, Drissi started his sixth year in the Trans-Am Series. The motion picture advertising executive rebounded from the morning session after suffering a broken oil seal on the left rear wheel. He posted the fifth best lap time of 1:23.557 for an average speed of 84.790 mph.

“We’ve had things going in the right direction,” said Drissi. “The No. 5 car was running well and the only change we made was the tires. I am positive we’ll make progress over the weekend and have a good time racing the Long Beach track.”

4/16/04

Dalziel takes provisional pole in LB   After coming up just short in his bid to win the 2003 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama title, Scotland's Ryan Dalziel (#28 Pro-Works) took his first step toward improving his championship position by one place in today's first qualifying session of the season for Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (SPEED Channel, 10:30 a.m.).

Dalziel clocked a best lap of 1:18.563 (90.180 mph) to pace the field of 21 cars in provisional qualifying, and has guaranteed himself a front row starting position and has earned the first championship point of the season. Should he remain on pole following Saturday's final qualifying session, Dalziel would earn the fourth pole position of his Toyota Atlantic career, but the first since he took the top starting spot at Portland last year.

Qualifying second on the provisional grid was Hollywood resident Alex Figge (#69 Turbodyne/Wine Country Motorsports) with a best lap of 1:18.922 (89.770 mph). In final qualifying, Figge will be looking to meet or exceed his previous best starting spot of second, which came last year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and in 2001 at Chicago Motor Speedway. Come Sunday, Figge will try to top his previous best finish of fifth, which he established last year in Long Beach.

The third position on the provisional grid was occupied by second-year competitor Bryan Sellers (#19 Lynx Racing), who posted a best lap of 1:18.987 (89.696 mph). Sellers-who made four Toyota Atlantic starts in 2003-is making his first appearance in Long Beach this weekend. He is on pace to beat his previous best starting position of sixth, which came in his last series start in 2003 at Mid-Ohio.

Turning in an impressive fourth place qualifying performance today was rookie Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Charmin/Mr. Clean/Snugabye) at 1:19.024 (89.654 mph). The French Canadian was the top qualifying rookie in the field, and his showing marked the first time in team history that Sierra Sierra Enterprises has placed two cars inside the top four in a qualifying session.

4/16/04

PacifiCare making TV commercials around Champ Car   In an Autoracing1.com exclusive, we have learned that PacifiCare and their Senior Division, Secure Horizons are filming television commercials this weekend at The Long Beach Grand Prix featuring the Newman/Haas Racing team. The commercials will air on network television in the very near future. This is one of the first major advertising campaigns using Champ Car Racing done in a number of years. The commercial is being produced by noted filmmaker Beach House films.  The series needs more sponsors doing this.  Let's hope it's the start of some of a trend.

4/16/04

Said beats Kendall in first practice  Boris Said started off the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series at the top of the time charts as the driver of the No. 33 New Century Mortgage/GE Access/ACS Express Ford Mustang set the fastest time in first-round practice Friday for Sunday’s race. Said turned a 1:23.673-minute lap around the 1.967-mile temporary street course at an average speed of 84.672 miles per hour. Tommy Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR) was second fastest in his return to Trans-Am competition after his retirement following the 1997 season. Michael Lewis (No. 12 Autocon Engineering Jaguar XKR), Greg Pickett (No. 6 Cytosport Jaguar XKR) and Said’s teammate Mike Davis (No. 10 New Century Mortgage/GE Access/ACS Express Ford Mustang) completed the top five. Second-round practice is scheduled from 4:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. today, while qualifying is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. tomorrow. The Trans-Am race is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 18, immediately following the Champ Car World Series event.

4/16/04

Puma extends with Newman/Haas  PUMA® AG and Newman/Haas Racing today announced an extension to the existing supplier contract. Following a successful first season, in which PUMA supplied team footwear including drivers' race shoes to the team, the contract is now expanded to include fireproof racesuits for drivers and crew. Further, the PUMA® logo will again be featured on the race car. "Newman/Haas Racing is one of the key players in open wheel motorsport in the US," says Bruno Vaglienti, Sport Promotion Manager PUMA Motorsport. "With this year's driver line-up of PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira from Brazil and McDonald's® driver Sebastien Bourdais from France the team continues with its tradition of racing with high profile, international drivers. Newman/Haas Racing will certainly be a force to contend with this year."

4/16/04

Champ Car tickets go on sale in Portland  The Champ Car World Series announced Wednesday that tickets for its June 18-20 tour stop at Portland International Raceway went on sale Monday, April 12. This year's race marks the 21st anniversary of the annual Portland event for open-wheeled racing. Dick Eidswick, President of the Champ Car World Series said, "We are very pleased to be returning to Portland and continuing our tradition of racing in the Northwest. The Portland fans are among the best in the country and they wont be disappointed by this year's race."

4/16/04

Williams wraps up Paul Ricard test   The BMW WilliamsF1 Team concluded their three day test programme at the Paul Ricard circuit in France early today, due to adverse weather conditions. Despite the abrupt end to the test, the team managed to perform some chassis set-up work and tyre testing under better conditions during the first two days. The team's official test and reserve driver, Marc Gené opened the session on Wednesday, while Antonio Pizzonia and Juan Pablo Montoya took over for the final two days. Between them, the drivers clocked up just over 1,500 kilmotres. This week's test was the final opportunity for last minute preparations before the team travel to the European season opener, the San Marino Grand Prix, on 25th April. Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer, WilliamsF1): "Juan Pablo and Antonio were on testing duty for the team today, with both drivers completing some traction control work and practice starts in preparation for Imola. However, strong wind and driving rain forced us to abandon running this afternoon. Overall, the test was quite useful as we managed to identify several set-up options for the forthcoming San Marino Grand Prix. We also verified some new directions on tyre compounds and casings with Michelin." Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): "We didn't have a specific engine development programme scheduled for this week's test at Paul Ricard. We were present to provide support for the set-up work the team completed on the chassis as well as for the tyre testing." The BMW WilliamsF1 Team's next test will take place at Silverstone circuit, England, between 27th and 30th April. Ralf Schumacher will be joined by the team's test drivers, Marc Gené and Antonio Pizzonia.

4/16/04

FOX Sports en Espanol to televise Champ Car races  The "Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford" will take another spin in Spanish on Fox Sports en Espanol beginning with the Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 18, at 9:00 p.m. PT/12:00 a.m. ET.   All 16 races will be televised exclusively in Spanish on Fox Sports en Espanol throughout the 2004 season.   The Champ Car Series, which averaged an event crowd of over 133,000 in 2003, ranks second among all forms of motorsport in the world in average attendance per event. The race drew 221,011 in Mexico City on race day last year as fans came to support native drivers Michael Jourdain Jr., Mario Dominquez, Roberto Gonzalez, Rodolfo Lavin and 2003 Premios Fox Sports recipient Adrian Fernandez.
Date Race Time
---- ---- ---- ------
Sunday, April 18 Long Beach, CA 9:00 p.m. (PT)/12:00 a.m. (ET)
Sunday, May 23 Monterrey, Mexico 9:00 p.m. (PT)/12:00 a.m. (ET)
Saturday, June 5 The Milwaukee Mile 9:00 p.m. (PT)/12:00 a.m. (ET)
Sunday, June 20 Portland 9:00 p.m. (PT)/12:00 a.m. (ET)
International Raceway
Saturday, July 3 Cleveland, Ohio 1:00 p.m. (PT)/4:00 p.m. (ET)
Sunday, July 11 Toronto, Ontario, 10:00 a.m. (PT)/1:00 p.m. (ET)
Canada
Sunday, July 25 Vancouver, B.C., 9:00 p.m. (PT)/12:00 a.m. (ET)
Canada

4/16/04

Plenty of tickets available for Indy 500  Remember when the Indy 500 used to sell out in June following each race for the following year?  Not anymore and it looks like the trend is continuing this year.  Radio ads running in Indy say there are still seats available for the Indy 500, as well as the Brickyard 400 and US Grand Prix.

4/16/04

Storm cancels Paul Ricard test   The final day of testing at Paul Ricard was cancelled after torrential storms with heavy rain and 75mph winds hit the circuit in the south of France.

4/16/04

Tidbits from Long Beach - III  Could not help but notice that American Honda is holding a meeting this weekend in Long Beach.  While this may not be significant, it seems curious that they would hold it in the Hyatt Regency smack in the middle of the track here in Long Beach.  Hmmm.......ALMS driver Chris Dyson is a  spectator here in LB.  Could he be eyeing a Champ Car team?......We still keep hearing rumors that Toyota will pull their financial backing out of the IRL after this year or next and just be an engine supplier  - i.e. lease their engines to teams at cost........Attendance for a Friday here in LB looks pretty good and is on par with race weekend Fridays of the past. 

4/16/04

Tracy nips Junqueira in AM practice at Long Beach  Defending champion Paul Tracy nipped Bruno Junqueira in the first practice for the 2004 Champ Car season at Long Beach.  The biggest surprise was probably Rodolfo Lavín in 5th place.

Pos Driver # Engine/Chassis/Tire Lap Time Mph km/h Leader Previous
1 P. Tracy 1 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:09.446 102.019 164.183
2 B. Junqueira 6 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:09.552 101.863 163.932 0.106
3 A. Tagliani 8 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:10.341 100.721 162.094 0.895 0.789
4 S. Bourdais 2 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:10.516 100.471 161.692 1.070 0.175
5 R. Lavin 3 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:10.522 100.462 161.678 1.076 0.006
6 P. Carpentier 7 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:10.624 100.317 161.444 1.178 0.102
7 M. Haberfeld 5 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone 1:10.849 99.999 160.932 1.403 0.225
8 J. Vasser 12 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:11.231 99.462 160.068 1.785 0.382
9 R. Hunter-Reay 4 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:11.305 99.359 159.902 1.859 0.074
10 T. Marques 19 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:11.329 99.326 159.849 1.883 0.024
11 J. Wilson 34 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:11.461 99.142 159.553 2.015 0.132
12 M. Dominguez 55 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:11.562 99.002 159.328 2.116 0.101
13 A. Allmendinger 10 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:11.619 98.923 159.201 2.173 0.057
14 O. Servia 11 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:11.793 98.684 158.816 2.347 0.174
15 R. Gonzalez 21 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:11.848 98.608 158.694 2.402 0.055
16 M. Jourdain Jr. 9 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:12.191 98.140 157.941 2.745 0.343
17 N. Philippe 17 Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone 1:13.405 96.517 155.329 3.959 1.214

4/16/04

Tidbits from Long Beach - II  We talked to Kevin Kalkhoven about the two TBA races on the 2004 Champ Car schedule.  He said, "we don't want to announce them until we have all of our T's crossed and I's dotted on all the approvals necessary.  We learned our lesson in other places not to announce anything until we have all of our ducks in order."  He is confident that there will be 16 races......Another insider told us that "with things in the works, 2005 is going to be a phenomenal year for Champ Car."

4/16/04

Tidbits from Long Beach - I  We could not help but notice that Al Unser Jr. is here spending time coaching his son Al Unser III who is driving in the Toyota Atlantic Series this year, and his ex-wife Shelly.  It was good to see the three of them together because Al Unser III needs the support of both of them because the level of competition in Atlantics is high.......The new Cosworth engine is now pumping out 800 HP when the push-to-pass button is pressed.  The drivers are not allowed to use it until Sunday morning's 30-minute warm-up.  Until then the button is deactivated by Cosworth.

4/16/04

Dale Coyne Racing sponsors & drivers revealed  UPDATE We will have a full press release shortly.  Some tidbits from the press conference this morning in Long Beach - Dale said that two of his 40 or 50 drivers he has had in the past were immediately hired by Roger Penske after showing what they could do in Coyne's cars - Paul Tracy and Tarso Marques.  He went out of his way to say how Tarso blew away the competition when he tested him in the off-season years ago.  He's glad to have him back.........(photos by Leon Skowronski/AutoRacing1.com) AMR is an 18,000 employee ambulance company in 32 states.  They are thrilled to be in Champ Car primarily because Champ Car provides the key urban venues where most of the business is.......Coyne has improved their engineering staff in the off-season and is proud to finally have two sponsors (one for each car)......YokeTV.com deal just came together in last three weeks.  They will launch on May 21st as a 24x7 internet TV channel with news, sports, reality TV shows, and behind the scenes look at sports.  They are filming this weekend here in Long Beach for a reality TV type show that will air on CMT in June called The Drive. They looked at the IRL but decided on Champ Car racing instead because it has better demographics for the audience they are trying to reach......Coyne has only two cars this weekend, no backups.  More cars are on order from Lola and they will have 4 cars by Monterrey.  Mark C.  4/16/04 - Dale Coyne Racing will announce officially in a few minutes that Tarso Marques and Oriol Servia are officially their drivers for 2004 and YokeTV.com and AMR their two primary sponsors.  YokeTV.com is a new internet TV broadcasting company and AMR is American Medical Response Association.  Both are on board all year as far as we know.  Photos to follow....

4/16/04

RuSPORT launches website  RūSPORT has launched the team’s official website, www.RUSPORT.com, today in coordination with the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season-opener in Long Beach, CA and their own debut into the premier open-wheel league. The new web usite will offer the latest news, results, photos, bios, and more as RūSPORT makes their launch into Champ Cars after capturing the 2003 Toyota Atlantic Championship. Special articles following both American rookie driver A.J. Allmendinger and veteran Mexican pilot Michel Jourdain Jr., along with crew and car specials will be featured on the site. The team’s web home will continue to evolve to include the latest in interactive technologies and activities. Follow RūSPORT this weekend in cyberspace beginning with Friday’s wrap-up of provisional qualifying for the historic 30th anniversary running of the Grand Prix of Long Beach on through to Sunday’s main event when A.J. takes his first Champ Car green flag like his teammate Michel did on the same circuit in 1996. Then, check out www.RUSPORT.com to read the race highlights straight from the drivers themselves.

4/16/04

Champ Car teams having trouble getting sponsors  He's the defending Champ Car titleholder, colorful, controversial, eminently quotable and, of course, a skilled and daring driver. But all that hasn't been enough to send corporations scrambling to slap their logos on Paul Tracy's race car or his blue fire suit. When the Scarborough native lines up for Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach — the opening race of the 2004 season — the only trademark on the side of the car will be Indeck, team owner Gerry Forsythe's Illinois-based company. It makes industrial boilers and operates independent power plants. The same goes for Tracy's Canadian teammate, Patrick Carpentier of Joliette, Que. Forsythe would undoubtedly like to see the name of his firm replaced by that of a sponsor willing to pay all or part of the approximately $6 million (all figures U.S.) it takes to run each car through the 16-race campaign, including the Toronto Molson Indy July 11. Charlie Johnstone, Tracy's Toronto-based manager, admitted the response from potential sponsors "has not been as much as we hoped." He, like others, blamed the uncertainty surrounding the series since the end of the 2003 season. "Now that there's stability in the series we hope there will be a little bit more happening," said Johnstone. "A lot of clients we've approached have shown some signs of interest."   More....

4/16/04

GP President optimistic despite struggle  This weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach faces another crisis. The three-decade tradition – and America's premier street-course race – is caught at ground zero of the ongoing struggle for control of open-wheel racing in the United States. When CART declared bankruptcy last winter, Long Beach searched for an alternative for its 30th anniversary race in 2004 – a bridge between CART and the 2005 arrival of Indy Racing League cars designed to turn right as well as left. Sports cars appeared headed for Long Beach ... until an Indianapolis judge last December awarded CART's assets to the fledgling Open Wheel Racing Series rather than turn them over to the IRL. The assets acquired by the OWRS included the final two years of CART's contract with the Long Beach Grand Prix Association. Sunday's 30th Long Beach Grand Prix also happens to be the first race in the history of the OWRS organization. Good news? Bad news? Does it even matter? Jim Michaelian believes the last question is probably the appropriate one.  More....

4/16/04

Schumacher can break another record  The going line is that six-time Formula One driving champion Michael Schumacher, already off to a dominating start in 2004 with three wins in three races, has all the meaningful F-1 records in his pocket and now has little left to motivate him ... other than expanding his already gaudy statistics. But the German driver can set another significant record this year, breaking a tie with one of Formula One's legendary names. Argentina's Juan Manuel Fangio won the F-1 driving title four consecutive times from 1954 to 1957. By claiming the F-1 points title this year, Schumacher would stand alone with five consecutive championships.  TC Palm

4/16/04

Goodyear planning no changes  Goodyear's Rick Campbell, a veteran NASCAR tire engineer, said that, despite some complaints about less-than-thrilling on-track action with NASCAR's new soft tire-low downforce package this season, Goodyear's plans won't change. In large part, Campbell said, that's because tire production is not something that can be quickly reorganized. "Our year is pretty clearly defined already," Campbell said. "We have to look pretty far ahead. It would be pretty difficult for us in the middle of April to respond to a change in the next month or two. We're pretty pleased with where we are right now. We like our track groupings (of new tires)." The possibility of simply dropping the soft tire and reverting to last year's hard-tire package "hasn't even been brought up as a possibility," Campbell said. After the 500-miler at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4,some teams were asking for quick changes, for more downforce on their cars to improve handling and make for more passing. There has been no passing this season because drivers are reluctant to move their cars close to each other. But NASCAR is expected to go the other way, and take another half inch of downforce away from the rear spoiler, cutting perhaps another 100 pounds off the cars for the Auto Club 500 on May 2 at Fontana, Calif. Campbell said he would prefer that any announcement on such downforce issues come from NASCAR, but he said such a move wouldn't affect the tire Goodyear plans to run at California Speedway, which is the same tire used at Atlanta and Texas. Winston Salem Journal

4/16/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Toyota and Minardi
Schu, Rubens, visit Rome
Button can't be toppled
Hockenheim sees new McLaren
Dixon breaks ankle
Mosley wants more F1 teams
Trulli to run marathon
Sato given 'half a season' to shine
Williams complete wind tunnel
Has Fisichella 'got his Ferrari'?
Brawn regrets Bridgestone criticism
Senna wanted McLaren return
Jordan quell Pantano patter
More anti-tobacco opposition in China
Button aims for Imola win
Purnell drags up F1 'driver swaps'
BRDC chairman visits Paul Ricard
Ferrari, Jordan, test alone
No 'B spec' car for BMW-Williams 

4/15/04

Earnhardt movie to start filming today  UPDATE 2: Film crews began shooting scenes Wednesday in Kannapolis for the ESPN movie “3: The Dale Earnhardt Story.” Crews blocked Walnut Street to create scenes in the former Pillowtex Corp. Plant 1 area. Kannapolis City Manager Mike Mahaney said the crews could be in the same area today and Friday. The film’s staff might then travel to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, and they could return for more filming in Kannapolis later this month, Mahaney said. Movie props for this week’s filming include trailers behind mill houses. Garages are also being built, but they will be removed when the filming is done. Crews are working to re-create the Kannapolis of the 1950s. Some of the Plant 1 area’s homeowners have agreed to put their furniture in storage and have their homes decorated with 1950s period furniture. Film crews are also using vintage cars of the 1950s.(Independent Tribune)

UPDATE:
hearing that all of the race cars for the Earnhardt ESPN movie are being prepared by Andy Hillenburg [driver of the #80 Hover Motorsports Ford in Cup] at his Fast Track driving school facility and that Gary Glass is over seeing the immense project. And hearing there may be a couple of short term positions open for people with good mechanical skills and some basic fab skills.

Hearing that Victory Lap Production began fiming "3: The Dale Earnhardt Story" this morning in Kannapolis, NC. They are starting in from of Cannon Mills and moving over to N. Walnut St. this afternoon. The film will be using 602 N. Walnut St. as Ralph and Martha Earnhardt house.

4/15/04

Pocono 400? UPDATE Mataloi says NO:  NASCAR may be under pressure to present more "TV-friendly" races, and Pocono's 500-milers may be a target. Pocono may be under pressure to cut those 500s back to 400s.(Winston Salem Journal)
UPDATE: A hearty laugh from Pocono Raceway CEO Dr. Joseph Mattioli summed up the latest speculation his track is under pressure by NASCAR to cut its two NEXTEL Cup races from 500 miles to 400. "I hear that all the time. There's no chance," Mattioli said. "If they wanted it, they would tell us." Mattioli also dismissed an inference Pocono could lose one or both of its races should NASCAR expand the Cup season from 36 to 40 races. The Augusta Chronicle on April 7 put Pocono and three other tracks on the chopping block when speculating on a 40-race season. "All this stuff is just a figment of somebody's imagination," Mattioli said. "We already got our inquiry (from NASCAR) about the 2005 schedule. As you know, the possibilities are always there for anybody anytime, but you have to have some reason. And if there is a reason, they would have to give you a time to cure it. We never had any conversations like that." No one from NASCAR has suggested Pocono trim its race lengths, but a blurb in an April 5 article in the Winston-Salem Journal fueled the rumor mill. The blurb speculated NASCAR may be under pressure by its television partners to make races shorter and more "TV-friendly." The speculation was then extended to Pocono without any comments from NASCAR or Mattioli. Pocono vice president/administration Bob Pleban completed a study Tuesday showing NEXTEL races at Pocono during the past four years have been the third longest. The average time to complete 500 miles at Pocono has been 3:42.25. However, the Pocono time is in the same neighborhood of 500 milers run at Texas, Charlotte, Atlanta and California. Darlington has the longest average time for a 500-mile race at 4:09. The study also explored how long it would take to run 500 miles at all NEXTEL tracks. Pocono's average time dropped to 15th. "We're right down in the middle," Mattioli said. "It's so ludicrous. The guys who write this stuff never take time to look at the record." Pocono, a 2.5-mile track located about 25 miles from Wilkes-Barre in Long Pond, hosted a single NASCAR race from 1974-1981, then two from 1982 to the present. This year's Pocono 500 will be June 13 and the Pennsylvania 500 will be Aug. 1. Mattioli expects those races will be on the 2005 schedule when it is released at the end of the summer. Until then, the speculation, which has become almost an annual event, will likely continue. "They get a bug up their --- that this is the way it has to be, and it gives them something to write about," Mattioli said. "Now we're sort of used to it."(Times Leader)

4/15/04

New Renault engine covers weekend distance  According to this F1Racing.net article Renault's testing on Thursday at Paul Ricard consisted of tyre testing and set-up work for both drivers. Alonso exceeded the weekend mileage with new engine specification. Both drivers conducted tyre testing during the day, concentrating on both endurance running and performance evaluation, finding promising gains. Alonso conducted mechanical set-up work, with positive results, while Montagny also found useful development directions with his programme.

Alonso reached 800km on his new specification engine, thereby completing the equivalent of a full weekend's running. Christian Silk, Chief Test Engineer commented, "Once again, it was a positive day for the team. We were pleased to comfortably exceed a weekend mileage with Fernando's engine, and made good headway with the tyre testing for the next races. The set-up programmes we ran today also proved instructive, and both drivers reported themselves pleased with the results."

4/15/04

Perridon (Trust) and Verstappen 'buried the hatchet'  According to this F1Racing.net article Jos Verstappen and estranged F1 backer Trust have 'buried the hatchet.' A report on the Dutchman's website said he and Michel Perridon had an 'excellent' meeting and both regretted how the failed Jordan deal was handled. They met on Wednesday at Trust HQ in Dordrecht, The Netherlands. 'We acted emotionally instead of rationally,' said Verstappen.

He confirmed that all contracts with Trust are 'still alive,' even if the Dutch sponsor pledged some financial backing to Jordan in the absence of Verstappen. 'We told each other what was bothering us. What? It's useless going over the past - we look forward to the future and I am glad we share the same vision.'Perridon committed to supporting Jos if a chance to return to F1 arises, and Har Muermans, of Muermans Realty Group, has also reserved an amount for sponsorship. Verstappen's manager Raymond Vermeulen talked down speculation of a return. 'It's still early days,' said Jos' countryman and joint agent, 'but we've always maintained contact with the [F1] teams, even over the past couple of months.'

4/15/04

Mosley plans big changes for F1  FIA President Max Mosley has revealed that he wants to see a number of big changes made to the sport in the next couple of years. Other than his desire to see reduced costs, reduced power and reduced lap speeds, the Englishman wants to see more F1 teams. This season there are 10 Formula One teams, it was only two years ago we had eleven. We lost Prost at the end of 2001, gained Toyota in 2002, then lost Arrows a few months later. In 1997 F1 consisted of twelve teams while in the early 90s we had up to 36 cars attempting to qualify for races.

Of course for every professional outfit such as McLaren, there was an Andrea Moda, Eurobrun or Life. Formula One couldn't be seen as a sport populated by ramshackle, 'cowboy' outfits that in reality didn't have the finances or technical nous to run a Formula Ford team. Therefore a system was introduced whereby potential participants had to lodge a (returnable) £25m bond, thus ensuring that only quality - or at least well-financed - operations, entered motor sport's highest echelon.  More.....

4/15/04

Honda drivers on top as Injuries and carnage continue in IRL UPDATE  Team officials at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and Mo Nunn Racing reported early Friday in Japan that both Scott Dixon and Tora Takagi are expected to return to their cars for qualifying today (Friday) at Twin Ring Motegi. However, they must be cleared by IRL officials.

Dixon suffered a hairline (non-displaced) fracture of his left ankle in a crash of his Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force Thursday, while Takagi complained of pain in his neck and back following a subsequent crash of his Mo Nunn Racing Dallara. The Japanese driver was airlifted to Dokkyo University Hospital, but X-rays on his neck and back were negative and he has now been released from the hospital.

Sam Hornish Jr. (Marlboro Team Penske) and Tomas Scheckter (Panther Racing) also crashed during Thursday’s  UPDATE  Apparently, the IRL drivers didn't learn their lesson last year from Brian Barnhart about their behavior on the Motegi track. The IndyStar.com site has two ironic back-to-back articles on their website, "Drivers on best behavior in Japan" and "Kanaan fastest in IRL practice."  While it mentions Dixon's injury, there was no mention of Takagi being air-lifted. And the weekend isn't over yet. Paul Josephson  4/15/04 - Honda drivers paced the opening day of practice for the Indy Japan 300 posting three of the five fastest times on a blustery day at Twin Ring Motegi on April 15.

Andretti Green teammates Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti posted the top times of the day, posting laps of 26.8357 seconds, 203.907 mph, and 27.0390 seconds, 202.374 mph, respectively, in their Dallara/Honda/Firestone entries. Defending Indy Japan 300 winner Scott Sharp was third with a fast lap of 27.1018 seconds, 201.905 mph, in his Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.

The day marred by four separate incidents which damaged the cars of Scott Dixon, Tomas Scheckter, Sam Hornish Jr., and Tora Takagi. All four incidents occurred in Turn 4.

Dixon suffered a non-displaced hairline fracture of the tip of fibula in his left ankle. He will be re-evaluated by doctors Friday morning.  Takagi was airlifted to Dokkyo University Hospital complaining of back pain. He will undergo X-rays of his neck and back.  More.....

4/15/04

International Drifting Shoot-Out At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca  History will be made at the third annual Road & Track U.S. Sports Car Invitational (April 30 - May 2) when the fastest growing form of motorsport meets one of the most famous racing venues in the richest drifting event in U.S. history - the $10,000 winner-take-all International Drifting Shoot-Out, sponsored by Mazda and Yokohama Tire Corporation.

The sport of drifting began around the mid-1960s on windy, mountain roads in the Nagano area of Japan. Today's version of the sport involves drivers intentionally and skillfully putting their cars into a controlled slide (or drift) at high speed through a marked course.

Competition is done bracket or drag-racing style, with drivers competing one-on-one, round-by-round, until a champion is determined. Drivers are judged on execution and style, as well as speed through the corners. With the sport's roots in Japan, the majority of drift cars are from Japanese manufacturers such as Mazda, Nissan and Toyota, but modern American
muscle cars are starting to make inroads. The competitors will stage on the front straight, then drift through Turn 2 (Andretti Hairpin) and Turn 3, making the hillside outside of Turns 1 & 2 an ideal place for spectator viewing.

In addition to the International Drifting Shoot-Out, the Road & Track magazine-sponsored U.S. Sports Car Invitational features Historic Stock Cars, including famous Winston Cup-era stock cars such as Dale Earnhardt's GM Goodwrench Chevy, Richard Petty's STP Pontiac and Jeff Gordon's DuPont Chevy. Formula Ford Zetec Championship, Mazdaspeed Miata Cup, Porsche Club of America and World Superkarts, featuring grand prix motorcycle champions Wayne Rainey and Eddie Lawson, round out the weekend racing action.

4/15/04

Brabham, Kox and Maxwell named to drive Lamborghinis  David Brabham, Peter Kox and Scott Maxwell, three drivers with winning records in the American Le Mans Series, have been named to drive for the new Lamborghini factory-affiliated Krohn-Barbour Racing team that will debut in the next round of the ALMS at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in late June. The three join previously-announced driver and team co-owner Tracy Krohn as pilots of the two Lamborghini Murcielago R-GTs that Krohn-Barbour Racing will field in all eight remaining rounds of the 2004 season for the ALMS. The cars will compete in the GTS class.

4/15/04

Paul Newman staying the course with Champ Car  This Philadelphia Inquirer article talks about Paul Newman's dedicated support for the Champ Car Series.  In his 1969 movie portrayal of Butch Cassidy, Paul Newman showed an endearing sense of humor whenever the odds seemed impossibly stacked against him. Thirty-five years later, Newman, 79, is mired in a real-life predicament that dwarfs any of his cinematic misadventures. And he's in no mood to joke. Saddened and angered by the departure of many longtime fellow team owners and a majority of big-name drivers, Newman and his business partner Carl Haas have remained loyal to their racing roots - even after Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) went bankrupt after last season. The Champ Car World Series has been resurrected on a smaller scale by Open Wheel Racing Series LLC, and will open its season Sunday with the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Calif.  "Any rumor that Newman/Haas Racing is leaving the Champ Car World Series is a figment of someone's imagination," Newman said last month. "We remain committed to the series and are looking forward to the season opener."

4/15/04

Jourdain: Long Beach owes me one  This Long Beach Press Telegram article talks about last year's Long Beach GP and how close Michel Jourdain Jr. came to winning his first race.  He feels cheated, and rightfully so, and hopes he can win it this year.

4/15/04
Industry News

More on Mario Andretti Driving School  Mario Andretti, often referred to as the greatest race car driver of all time, has opened an Indy-style driving experience called the Mario Andretti Racing School Presented by The Archipelago Exchange (Arca/Ex), the world's first totally open, all-electronic stock exchange. Andretti was at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today to make the announcement.

"We congratulate Bob Lutz and his co-workers on bringing Mario Andretti into their organization," said Chris Powell, Las Vegas Motor Speedway general manager. "We're proud to be involved with one of the world's most legendary drivers and we wish the Mario Andretti Racing School at LVMS all the best."

"Auto racing is not like any other spectator sport in terms of trying it out," said Andretti. You can watch the Masters, and then buy yourself a set of golf clubs and get a tee time. You can watch the U.S. Open, and then grab a tennis racquet and hit the courts. The same with baseball, football, snowboarding, archery... It's not that simple with auto racing. This school will let anyone experience firsthand the rush of driving a race car."

Robert Lutz, who was instrumental in the success of the Richard Petty Driving Experience and was the founder of Driving 101, will be the president and chief executive officer of Andretti's school. "My involvement with other driving schools has prepared me to offer the most professional and technically advanced racing school in the world," Lutz said. "I can truly say nothing else can compare to the Mario Andretti Racing School Presented by The Archipelago Exchange (Arca|Ex). This is going to be an exhilarating experience that no race fan will want to miss. "

Mario Andretti Racing School Presented by The Archipelago Exchange (Arca|Ex) is the most elite racing school in the world. While based in Las Vegas, there will be programs offered at tracks nationwide. The school's fleet of single seat and two-seat Indy-style race cars will allow anyone 18 years old with a driver's license to be Mario for a day. The school already has reservations from race fans, general thrill seekers and numerous groups from corporate America who want to reward or entertain customers or simply host a day of team building. For more information on scheduling, pricing, course descriptions - or for reservations - call 1-877-ANDRETTI or visit the website at www.andrettiracing.com.

4/15/04

Bridgestone revving up for monumental season  Under new ownership and seeking to re-establish itself among the premier open-wheel series, Champ Car is relying on a trusted friend in Bridgestone Motorsport to assist in that endeavor. The journey begins this weekend with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the 2004 debut of Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.  More......

4/15/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Bertolini makes Ferrari debut
BAR trials 'Ferrari style' wing
Pantano pleased to get F1 test
Verstappen still has Trust
Button sets pace in France
Williams deny 'spoil' charge
American eyes Formula One
Williams still in the hunt: Theissen
Stewart champions F1 mechanics
Indian races for ticket to F1
China protests F1 tobacco branding
What did Senna think of Schu?
Stewart frets ... about underwear
Wilson happy to farewell F1
McLaren to poach Jag sponsor

4/15/04

Tracy tops final test day at Fontana  Defending Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) flexed a little muscle in the final test session prior to this weekend’s season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, pacing a 10-car field on the infield road course at California Speedway Wednesday.  Tracy ran the only 52-second laps of the two-day test session to lead the way as the new three-car Forsythe Championship Racing team of Tracy, Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Rodolfo Lavin (#3 Corona Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) wrapped up preparations to become the first full-time three-car team since 1993.  The unofficial top times of the day of testing at California Speedway are listed below.  More.....
1) Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 52.64
2) Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 53.03 *
3) Justin Wilson (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 53.10
4) Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 53.30 *
4) Tarso Marques (#19 Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 53.30
6) Oriol Servia (#11 Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 53.40 *
7) Rodolfo Lavin (#3 Corona Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 53.69 *
8) Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 53.70
9) Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) – 54.08
10) Mario Haberfeld (#5 Cummins Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) – 54.14
11) Alex Sperafico (#24 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) – 54.74
* Time set in morning session

4/15/04

Justin Wilson has a point to prove  This week's Autosport Magazine contains a piece on Justin Wilson and his upcoming Champ Car debut.  Wilson admits he isn’t going into the Champ Car World Series expecting to blow everybody’s doors off, but he does know he has an excellent chance of impressing a lot of people and hopefully winning some races.

While other F3000 grads, Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais team up at the top line Newman/Haas Racing squad, Wilson is in the less established Conquest Racing outfit. But he doesn’t think that will be a problem. “I think the team has good potential,” says Wilson. “Conquest were new to Champ Cars last year and they can do a good job. I don’t have any reservations there.”

One big positive for him is that he is hooking up again with Conquest team manager Chris Mower, who ran Wilson to the 2001 F3000 title with Nordic Racing. “Chris is overseeing how things run, so that’s good,” says Wilson, “and I’ve got a good engineer, Don Bricker. The whole team seems good, but it’s tough for me to remember everyone’s name at the moment – a bit like going to a new school!  It’s obviously a steep learning curve,” he says. “But it should be enjoyable – I was speaking to Darren Manning the other day and he was telling me what good fun the racing is.”

So can Wilson win races? “I hope so,” he says. “That’s what everyone aims for – after all, you don’t start the season being negative. Bruno and Sebastien came in and put on a strong showing, which shows how good the level of F3000 was, and that should help me.” But can he win Paul Tracy’s title? That’s a different matter. “You need to get a few races under your belt before you even think of that. Then we’ll take it from there,” he told Autosport.

4/14/04

New Champ Car website goes live  Champ Car's new website is now live, including the new race director feature where you can watch practice, qualifying and the race live. For $19.99 per season every subscriber can log in and watch live qualifying, live radio conversation and switch between 6 live channels of stream video, Keep up on live timing and scoring, full story lap by lap.   It's quite an improvement and was designed by Betelgeuse.

4/14/04

New PKV Racing website goes live  PKV Racing announced today the launch of its Official Team Website, located at www.pkvracing.com. The site, designed and developed by motorsport website industry leader Cinemagic, Inc., will take fans through the racing fiber of the second-year Champ Car World Series team that boasts 1996 Series Champion Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and 2004 Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Web surfers who dial-up the Indianapolis-based team’s website will find the latest PKV Racing news and information, weekly features, driver bios, results and photo galleries for the recently expanded two-car effort in the Champ Car World Series.

4/14/04

Why aren't these guys in Champ Car?  UPDATE A reader writes, I saw your note in Hot News about Richard Antinucci. I have been following his career for a little while and he has been easily more successful than any of the Red Bull F1 Search drivers. Also last year he won also the Korea Super Prix which is considered one of F3's two Blue Riband events (The other being the F3 Race in Macau). The reason that these events are special is because they generally feature the best drivers and teams from the best F3 series in the world. What was substantial about Antinucci's victory in Korea is that it is extremely difficult to pass on the difficult and very technical circuit at Changwon. The other reason it's notable is that he clearly outpaced F3 golden boys like Niko Rosberg and Nelson Piquet Jr. Sgt. Alex Ardussi US Army, South Kore 4/14/04 - Last year American Richard Antinucci won in the highly competitive British F3 series.  This year he moved to the Japanese F3 series.  Antinucci has taken the lead in the Japanese F3 series after scoring his first win at Tsukuba last weekend. The ex-British F3 Championship frontrunner is driving for the Toyota-powered TOM’S team. The Champ Car series is in desperate need of top American talent.  What the he#* is Richard Antinucci doing driving in Japan and why is the talented Phil Giebler (pictured right) wasting his time in the 100% throttle IRL IPS series?  These guys are extremely talented road racers who can wheel a car and who belong in the Champ Car series, a series in need of more American talent capable of driving road courses at the top level.  OWRS, are you listening?  

4/14/04

Andrew Firestone in Pro/Celebrity race  Andrew Firestone, great-grandson of The Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. founder Harvey S. Firestone, and recently famous for his role in ABC’s television series The Bachelor, will compete in the 28th Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The 2004 event will begin at noon on Saturday, April 17, with drivers racing through the streets of downtown Long Beach, Calif. Andrew’s specially prepared Toyota Celica, and all other Celica’s in the event, will be equipped with Bridgestone-brand PotenzaÒ RE750 ultra-high-performance tires, continuing Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire LLC’s seven year tradition as official tire supplier of the event.

“As excited as I am to be competing, I’m even more thrilled to represent my family and Bridgestone/Firestone in this high-profile motorsports event,” said Andrew Firestone. “Showcasing both the technological advances and enduring quality of our tires on the racetrack is a tradition that my great-grandfather Harvey began more than nine decades ago. I’m very proud to follow in his footsteps.”

Drivers in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, including Andrew Firestone, are trained at Danny McKeever’s Fast Lane Racing School, which also relies on Bridgestone/Firestone to provide its official tires. Located at Willow Springs International Motorsports Park in Rosamond, Calif., the Fast Lane Racing School has been the training ground for Toyota Pro/Celebrity drivers for the past 19 years.

Firestone’s involvement in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race, as well as his training at McKeever’s Fast Lane Racing School, are two more stops in an intensive training sequence to prepare him for participation in the Tire Rack™ Cannonball® One Lap of America presented by Car and Driver™ taking place April 28 - May 8. In the past month, Firestone has also honed his skills on the tracks at Infineon Raceway (Sonoma, Calif.), BeaveRun (Big Beaver Borough, Pa.) and Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wis.). For the grueling 10-day Cannonball event, Firestone will be paired with his brother Adam as a co-driver, competing at seven track locations throughout the United States.

4/14/04
Industry News

Mario Andretti opens driving school in Vegas  Mario Andretti, often referred to as the greatest race car driver of all time, has opened an Indy-style driving experience called the Mario Andretti Racing School Presented by The Archipelago Exchange (Arca/Ex), the world’s first totally open, all-electronic stock exchange. Andretti was at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway today to make the announcement.

“Auto racing is not like any other spectator sport in terms of trying it out,” said Andretti. You can watch the Masters, and then buy yourself a set of golf clubs and get a tee time. You can watch the US Open, and then grab a tennis racquet and hit the courts. The same with baseball, football, snowboarding, archery... It’s not that simple with auto racing. This school will let anyone experience firsthand the rush of driving a race car.”

Robert Lutz, who was instrumental in the success of the Richard Petty Driving Experience and was the founder of Driving 101, will be the president and chief executive officer of Andretti’s school.

“My involvement with other driving schools has prepared me to offer the most professional and technically advanced racing school in the world,” Lutz said. “I can truly say nothing else can compare to the Mario Andretti Racing School Presented by The Archipelago Exchange (Arca|Ex). This is going to be an exhilarating experience that no race fan will want to miss. ”

“We congratulate Bob Lutz and his co-workers on bringing Mario Andretti into their organization,” said Chris Powell, Las Vegas Motor Speedway general manager. “We're proud to be involved with one of the world's most legendary drivers and we wish the Mario Andretti Racing School at LVMS all the best.”

Mario Andretti Racing School Presented by The Archipelago Exchange (Arca|Ex) is the most elite racing school in the world. While based in Las Vegas, there will be programs offered at tracks nationwide. The school’s fleet of single seat and two-seat Indy-style race cars will allow anyone 18 years old with a driver’s license to be Mario for a day. The school already has reservations from race fans, general thrill seekers and numerous groups from corporate America who want to reward or entertain customers or simply host a day of team building. For more information on scheduling, pricing, course descriptions – or for reservations – call 1-877-ANDRETTI or visit the website at www.andrettiracing.com

4/14/04

Monterrey construction in full swing  One of our new reporters in Mexico, Jose Arrambide reports that they are already installing the walls and the fences in Fundidora Park and expect all work to be done in 25 days.  This year the work is easier because most of the grandstands are now stored inside the park and only need to be moved to the correct place.  Organizers contacted yesterday said they will have a press conference next week to start the official sale of tickets (Remember that now there is a presale, you can only buy tickets if you have a Banamex Credit or Debit card, and they give you 30% off.  Banamex is a Mexican bank that likes to do presales with Ticketmaster Mexico.  They always give from 20 to 30 percent off in their presales).  The presale will end on Friday and on Saturday tickets will go on sale for everyone. They have announced that tickets open to the public will have a 15% discount for a limited time.  Tickets are slightly cheaper than last year.  They go from 250 pesos for a general admission ticket (access to all the track but no grandstand) to 1,950 (pits), which equates in today's exchange rate to $22.73 to $177.27 USD.  Jose Arrambide

4/14/04

Keohane still eyes Champ Car ride  The deals that put Oriol Servia and Tarso Marques in Dale Coyne's cars have ended Michael Keohane’s chances of joining the squad. The 23-year-old Irishman tested impressively for the team at the end of last year, but was unable to raise the necessary backing.  Keohane’s manager, Rick Gorne, revealed to Autosport: “It’s a shame, but we are still optimistic of sorting a deal out there in the future.”

4/14/04

Coyne admits to Servia and Marques  As you know, we already rumored as 'fact' that Oriol Servia and Tarso Marques as Dale Coyne's drivers in 2004 - see rumors page.  This week's Autosport Magazine reports - Dale Coyne Racing will field Tarso Marques and Oriol Servia in a pair of Lola chassis in this season’s  Champ Car World Series.   The announcement was expected at this week’s Fontana test as Autosport went to press. Marques, 28, last raced in the series in 2000, before returning to Minardi in Formula 1. Servia, 29, has been in Champ Cars for the past four years.   Team boss Dale Coyne said: “The pair of them raise us to another level of competitiveness. The two drivers and the team all have something left  to prove. We all have the ability to run at the front, but none of us have ever had the right opportunity to do it.   We are hungry for it.”   Coyne admitted the lateness of the deals is likely to hinder the team in the early stages, but believes it can challenge for victories later on in the year.   “We are on the back foot for the opening race, but with a bit of time we have all the ingredients,” he said. “Tarso tested with us in 1999 before racing with Penske, and then led our Swift project in 2000, so he’s a known quantity. Oriol, meanwhile, showed very well against Cristiano da Matta when they were teammates at PPI in 2000. Since then he hasn’t had a season with a full-time team-mate, and I think that is really going to benefit him with us this year.”

4/14/04

Ferrari hires Jordan man  Autosport Magazine reports that Former Jordan engineer Rob Smedley, who used to work with Giancarlo Fisichella, was spotted in Ferrari team uniform during last week’s Barcelona test. He is understood to be working on Luca Badoer’s test car.

4/14/04

Reluctant rider has the ride of his life  As you know, the Orange County Register has always been quite negative towards the Champ Car Series, so Paul Tracy took journalist Damian Dottore for the ride of his life.  In this article it's clear he finally gets it.  Some of his quotes - And what followed was the ride of my life. I had taken laps around California Speedway in a two-seat Indy car, but that was nothing like this.   In Tracy's car, I felt like I was tagging along with the Blue Angels.  The first thing I noticed after pulling out of the pits is how bumpy these streets are.  During the ride my head was bouncing uncontrollably from side-to-side, and at times, the bumps blurred my vision. I don't know how Tracy, the defending Champ Car World Series titlist, stands that for 80-plus laps.

As we headed down the Shoreline Drive straightaway on the first lap, a piece of carbon fiber flew off the front of the car and sailed over my head. Scary.  Afterward, Tracy told me it was just the shock cover. No big deal......Tracy said we were going about 180 mph.   I knew we were flying because the wind actually wanted to rip my helmet off. I asked Tracy if he gets the same sensation; he said he gets it all the time.   But for me the speed wasn't the most impressive part. That came when Tracy slammed on the brakes. These cars seem to stop as fast as they accelerate. If I were driving, my helmet would have to have been tethered to the car.   I knew Tracy was about to step on the brakes, so I braced myself, but my helmet still shot forward into the cowling on every lap.   He said during the race he takes the car deeper into the corners before braking. But on this day, the markers that let drivers know how far away they are from the turns hadn't been installed.   So Tracy got off the throttle a bit earlier than usual.

I really don't know how these guys do it, suffer through all of the bumps and huge G forces on deceleration and still miss hitting the wall by a few millimeters.   Several times we wiggled in the corners, especially in Turn 1. I got nervous once or twice and closed my eyes to prepare for the worst, but Tracy always kept it off of the wall.   After eight laps, Tracy finally decided to pull into the pits. I was kind of glad, because after all of the bouncing around and decelerating, I did feel nauseous. I actually had a hard time keeping my balance once I climbed out.  Now, I finally understand why three guys are trying to save this series. These cars are unbelievable. It was a ride I never will forget. [Editor's Note: Now you begin to understand why we say the greatest drivers in the World are road racers, and why road racers win regularly on ovals, but oval trackers never win on road courses.  Road course racing is all about the driver - the athlete - like any proper sport should be.]

4/14/04

Early test news from Fontana  UPDATE Here are the UNOFFICIAL test times from yesterday’s Fontana session via Ford-Cosworth. The test was basically just shakedowns and pit stop practice, rather than a full-blown speed gauge.
52.7 Bourdais
53.0 Tracy
53.1 Junqueira
53.9 Carpentier
53.9 Allmendinger
54.2 Servia
54.5 Jourdain
54.6 Lavín
55.4 Wilson
55.5 Marques
55.6 Sperafico
No Time Roberto Gonzalez (clutch problems)   4/13/04 - While we will have all the test time from today at Fontana later, we know that Ryan Hunter-Reay did a 52.1 sec fast lap on his first day and a 52 flat on day 2 recently but didn't go out in happy hour.  He told us it would have been good for a couple tenths.  With as many cars that are at the track today, it should have rubbered in nicely.  It will be interesting to see what the final times are, especially from Dale Coyne Racing (only pre-season test), Conquest (Wilson and Sperafico) and Walker...who is running today with Haberfeld for the first time.  Mark C.

4/14/04

By hook or by crook, race a hit  This Long Beach Press Telegram article talks about the very first Long Beach Grand Prix and some of the hurdles that were faced, and then goes on to talk about some of the hurdles the Champ Car series made to survive so that this year's race could go on.

4/14/04

Champ Car survives to start season  This Indy Star article talks about the season about to unfold for Champ Car.  The mere fact it survived must have the folks on Georgetown Road frustrated that the series is like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps running and running.  Why, because it is a proper open wheel racing series with a good fan base, and not some contrived 100% throttle series where the show is more important than the driver's talent.  Do people watch baseball player Barry Bonds hit home runs and now pass Willie Mays for 3rd on the all-time list, or do they go to the game to watch the team mascot (i.e. the show)?  While the show is important, ultimately sports heroes are heroes for their athletic talent. Road and street racing are all about driver talent.  100% throttle oval racing is all about the car - HP and chassis setup, driver talent is least important.

4/14/04

Dixon looking to break dry spell in Japan  Defending IndyCar series champion Scott Dixon always enjoys the yearly visit to Japan’s superspeedway. “The Twin Ring Motegi oval is a unique mile-and-a-half track and fairly different from Texas or Chicago. I find it interesting and more technical and the facility itself is very impressive. It’s a great place to race because the fans are so knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Last year, I had the pole and both Target Chip Ganassi Racing cars fought for the lead,” added Dixon. “Darren and I expect to do the same this year and fight for the win for Toyota. I’ve had 4 second place finishes in the last 5 races dating back to Chicago last season (Chicago, California, Texas, and Phoenix) and I’d like to break that trend with a win in Japan.”

Teammate Darren Manning, a newcomer to the IndyCar series, now has two races under his belt in which he finished 6th and 5th, and is looking forward to proving himself on the Twin Ring Motegi track. “I think the season started with two of the tougher tracks and I learned a lot about the car and IndyCar racing very quickly. I think the Motegi track is wider and will be a little more forgiving, giving me the chance to use everything I have learned to date and aim for another top 5 finish.” After competing and living in Japan when he was racing in F3 during the later part of 1998 and all of the 1999 season Manning almost considers the Indy Japan a home race. “I’m very excited about being able to race in Japan again. I’ve even raced at the Twin Ring at Motegi but on the road course. I loved the time I spent in Japan. I still have close friends here and continue to have my helmets painted there as well. I expect to see a lot of my friends and racing fans at the Twin Ring track for the race weekend. It almost has the feel of a home track for me. The atmosphere is wonderful and I think the engine manufacturer rivalry adds to the intensity as well. Target Chip Ganassi Racing will certainly do all it can give Toyota bragging rights yet again.  Target Ganassi Racing

4/14/04

Feedback on International TV  A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1, I'm so disappointed with the decision to negotiate TV contracts for each country in Europe. It's exactly the same thing CART tried in 2000 and it was a total failure. Especially since a lot of countries are so small that there will never be enough interest to justify a national coverage. With Eurosport's coverage in every country this is not an issue. Shame on OWRS!   I just hope the internet coverage has enough bandwidth to make it a decent alternative. Olav Malmin, Norway  Dear Olav, While Norway probably isn't high on Champ Car's list of major European markets due to its population size, that's exactly where the web broadcasts come into play.  If there isn't enough bandwidth or server horsepower serving up the video feed to fans around the world that will mean one of two things 1) the series is immensely popular and so many people want to tune in who can't get it on TV, or 2) they need to fire their new website provider for poor planning and sizing.  We think the internet feed is going to be more popular than they realize in about a year or so.  If done right, with good quality, and if it works when you try to use it, this concept will break new ground in the sports world. Mark C.

4/14/04

How does Grand-Am justify its existence?  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I saw parts of the Phoenix Grand-Am race on SPEED last weekend.  Like all their races, if there were 100 people in the grandstands, that was a lot.  How can this series justify being in business when year after year no one cares about it?  David Thornhill, McLean VA.  Dear David, We don't know how they justify their existence either.  But remember, the France family is behind this series and the conspiracy theorists will tell you that they keep this failed concept alive to prevent the ALMS from getting too big and powerful.  These same theorists will tell you they support the IRL to keep Champ Car at bay.  They will also tell you that Honda and Toyota were asked to prop up the IRL (and Grand-Am for Toyota) as a way of paying their dues to gain entry into the coveted Nextel Cup Series. These two manufacturers certainly can't justify their participation in the IRL (and Grand-Am for Toyota) based on economics or market value, as there isn't any.   It's the divide and conquer strategy so that NASCAR continues to monopolize American motorsports.  The France family will never admit to doing this, but on the surface, given how much money the Grand-Am series is losing, it certainly appears that way. Another lesson to be learned here, and something the France family doesn't understand - while the NASCAR Bubbas may like the dumbed down stock cars of NASCAR, road racing fans detest dumbed down racing.  NASCAR tried to NASCARize road racing with their el-cheapo Grand-Am series and the road racing fans have rejected the concept entirely.  Why do you think we have called for the next generation Champ Car to sound and look as high-tech as possible?  If Champ Car has visions of dumbing down its formula with their next generation car, they had better pull the plug on the series now and save themselves a lot of money and anguish. It simply won't work and will fail like the IRL and Grand-Am have failed. Keeping the existing turbo engine or moving to a screaming V10 (preferred) is what's going to attract the road racing fans of the world. Mark C.

4/14/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Renault enhance 3D deal
Schu nearly quit after Senna death
Coulthard on top in France
Dixon trip was ... hard work
Ferrari to run Bertolini
Williams work to close Ferrari gap
BAR likes Takuma Sato
Ralf urges F1 team to 'work harder'
F1 cars are too fast: Marc Gene
Even Schu couldn't win in a Minardi
Irvine slams quali format
Senna's legacy is safety: Mosley
Zonta enjoying Friday role
Klien: I'm good enough for F1
F1's iceman lost his cool
Dixon disappointed: Part Two
Where did BAR find podium pace? 

4/13/04

Huge Tecate billboard sprouts up in Monterrey  A new huge billboard on one of the highest traffic streets in the city went up today. The background of the billboard is the new logo of the Monterrey Grand Prix (which is the Fundidora Park during sunset), the left half says Welcome to the Monterrey Grand Prix 21, 22 and 23 of May, the right half has in really big letters TECATE Official Sponsor of the Monterrey Grand Prix.  Jose Arrambide

4/13/04

Danica Patrick and Paul Newman to appear on "The Best Damn Sports Show Period"  Final preparations for the season opener of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford are taking place, while Danica Patrick and Paul Newman take a few moments from their busy schedules to appear on the "The Best Damn Sports Show Period". Patrick will be making a guest appearance on the show tonight, which airs countrywide on FOX Sports Net at 8:00 PM and 10:30 PM. In her rookie year of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Series, she made series history by becoming the first woman to finish on the podium with a third place performance in the season opener at Monterrey, Mexico. She finished the season with a total of seven top-six finishes, 10 top- 10 results, with two podiums in 12 races. She will be discussing her aspirations of the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship with Team Rahal and her new teammate, rookie Chris Festa. Tomorrow, actor Paul Newman will be making his appearance to discuss his love for the sport and the success of his team. Newman teamed up with fellow Can Am Series driver Carl Haas to form Newman/Haas Racing joining the Champ Car circuit in 1982. The team has won 73 Champ Car races, along with Mario Andretti's 1984 series title, Michael Andretti's 1991 championship, Nigel Mansell'  1993 series crown, and Cristiano da Matta's 2002 title. Newman/Haas Racing will be fielding two cars for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach as well as the complete 2004 season, with 2002 and 2003 Championship runner-up Bruno Junqueira and 2003 Rookie-of-the-Year Sebastien Bourdais behind the wheel.

4/13/04

NASCAR announces new hires, reorg   The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) announced today a reorganization designed to increase the emphasis on the sanctioning body’s regional touring and weekly competitions, and further develop public relations efforts overall.

Jim Hunter, formerly Vice President of Corporate Communications, has been given the new title of Vice President of Corporate Communications/Regional Touring/NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series. Returning to an area where he has worked earlier in his career, Hunter will work closely with new employee Don Hawk, who has been named Director of Regional Racing Development, and Chris Boals, who remains the Director of Regional Touring/NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series.

“This revamped approach illustrates our commitment to grassroots racing, which is the bedrock in our sport’s foundation,” said NASCAR Chairman/CEO Brian France. “We’re going to put more focus on our regional and weekly racing. The experience that both Jim Hunter and Don Hawk bring to the table will be invaluable. It’s especially significant that we’re involving Jim more with the regional and weekly competition. He has been around this sport for more than 30 years and many of those years were spent working at those levels.”

In a move that will complement Hunter’s increased responsibilities, public relations veteran Ramsey Poston is joining the communications department as the new Managing Director of Consumer and Corporate Communications. Hawk, Boals and Poston all will report to Hunter.

Hawk, 48, has been involved in every aspect of short-track racing and is widely known and respected in the motorsports industry. He is a graduate of Philadelphia Biblical University.

4/13/04

New Volvo trucks for Champ Car  As the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford approaches its 2004 season opener this weekend in Long Beach, Calif., an array of new faces, names, and equipment will be witnessed for the first time at the track. But the Champ Car World Series could get nowhere near the race track this weekend or any other without the new series trucks that will be heading to every race event in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

A total of nine brand new trucks from Volvo departed Indianapolis on Friday morning en route to California for the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. They arrive on the streets of Long Beach to set-up on Tuesday morning in preparations for the big event.

Seven of the nine re-configured trucks are especially designed for the Champ Car World Series carrying all the supplies and equipment needed on site.

Included in the pack, is a medical truck driven by Greg and Annie Passauer, the Business Center truck driven by Darrell Lowe, the Tech/Competition truck driven by Jeff Davis, and a Timing/Scoring/Communication truck driven by Mark Easley.

Also traveling with the convoy are three trucks carrying vehicles used for the on-track activities. Two trucks carry all of the pace cars used for the various events, which are driven by Shawn Racette and Denny Sedor. A brand new trailer was added to specially haul all of the safety trucks and equipment. The Safety truck is driven by Ron Bednosky.

The feeder series, Toyota Atlantics and the Trans-Am Series, use all of the following equipment these trucks provide, on top of having their own individual trailer housing the set-up for technical inspections, along with any additional equipment needed for their individual series.  Champ Car

4/13/04

Huge crowd expected for Long Beach  This Long Beach Press Telegram article says, With days to go until this year's annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, race officials are saying attendance at the event likely will match that of previous years this despite some earlier uncertainty about who would sponsor the showcase street race.  The big push to generate hype for the Friday-through-Sunday event began this weekend, with the annual "Roar in the Shore' along Second Street in Belmont Shore on Saturday, featuring antique cars from Grand Prix races past.........For the race, "ticket sales are slightly behind last year,' said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "But the good news is that we have had several days this past week where day-to-day sales numbers exceeded last year at the same time.  We're looking for a strong finish and a good walk-up,' Michaelian said. "We would hope that we can come close to what we have been able to accomplish, certainly for last year. That's our objective this year.'   The association and its parent company, Dover Motorsports, Inc., do not release attendance figures for the race, but estimates are that the three-day event, including the Sunday Grand Prix race, attracts about 200,000 spectators annually and has an estimated $40 million impact on the area's economy.

4/13/04

Two newspapers drop Earnhardt lawsuit   Two Florida newspapers dropped their challenge Monday to a state law restricting access to autopsy photos that was passed after the death of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The Orlando Sentinel and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel sued in Broward County after a medical examiner refused to release the photos, saying the restriction violated the state constitution. Newspapers sought access to the photos as questions arose over how Earnhardt died in the 2001 crash and whether better safety equipment might have saved him. The papers voluntarily dismissed the case Monday, weeks before the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach was scheduled to hear the case, the Orlando Sentinel reported.  AP story

4/13/04

Tracy hammers Rahal, Tony George and Honda again  In this Los Angeles Times article Paul Tracy says, "Someone, I don't know if it's Tony George [owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and founder of the IRL] or Honda, or both of them, are trying to break Champ Car by buying us out," he said during the Grand Prix media day last Tuesday. "How else could Rahal turn his back on a lucrative sponsor like Gigante if he wasn't getting it from somewhere else?  That about sums it up after Rahal stated he would race wherever Gigante wanted to race.  We hear Jourdain's sponsors brought around $6 million to the table, so for Rahal to leave that behind, Tony or Honda or both, must have lined his pockets well.  We'll never know for certain because those contracts are private, but it certainly appears to be what happened  The article is an interesting read..

4/13/04

Long Beach ready for grand event   Finally the Long Beach Press Telegram has a positive article about their Champ Car race.  Between them and the Orange County Register, it appeared the oval track cartel was lining the pockets of these two publications as both were spewing negative story after negative story (the Register for well over a year now) in what appeared to be a smear campaign to ruin ticket sales and hence jeopardize Champ Car's premier event.  The question is whether or not the damage has already been done.  Daily ticket sales are better than last year, but overall they are down a bit.  Can they recover by race day?

4/13/04

Latest F1 news in brief  

Briatore's future formula
Button ends test on top
BMW-Williams spoiled BAR innovation
Toyota admit contact with Ralf
Ralf and Michael fell out
Ralf pulls out with back pain
Dixon finds pace in Spain
Sato likes revised BAR
Dixon disappointed
Bernie's house sets new Guinness record
Stoddart slams top team 'wasters'
McLaren name 'scapegoat'
Schu denies F1 should slow down
Turkey track ahead of schedule
Pantano as Ambassador
FIA rules out ex-drivers as stewards
The jury's out on F1 youngsters
Todt to succeed Mosley?
Button's not too polite
Gascoyne installs duel design teams
Montoya vows to stay positive
Schu unlikely to perform sweep
F1 looks to Libya
Schu rules out manager role
Minardi brings on top F1 drivers
BAR supporters should 'wake up'  

4/13/04

No full-course yellows please   UPDATE  An official response from Champ Car, Dear Autoracing1, In response to your reader’s thoughts regarding “Full Course Yellows” and their effect on the Racing, I would point out that they are an inevitable part of our type of racing. That is not to suggest that “Full Course Yellows” are at any time arbitrary or called for any reason other than when needed. We at Champ Car and our Safety Team and our most dedicated group of volunteer Corner Workers (SCCA & others) go to great lengths to minimize the times which we need to interrupt a race with a “Full Course Yellow”. Based on the type of racing which we do and the circuits which we race on in many cases “Full Course Yellows” are a necessary “Evil”! Having said that the new Champ Car Rules which now mandate “X” number of green flag pit stops (2 or 3) fundamentally change the old school of thought of “racing to the yellow” and take that part out of the equation! In the new format of requiring 2 or 3 green flag stops I would think that the race strategies will be very different than that of the past. It will be interesting to see how the Teams strategies differ with the new rules!  It is very possible with this format that the gambler could grab a positive result!   Let the games begin! I must say that Champ Car once again offers the most diverse and intriguing format of any series in the world! (Not to mention the deepest and most talented field of any major racing series!) I for one am looking forward to “Push-to-Pass & Option Tires” (Thank you to Ford Cosworth & Bridgestone) as well as the various strategies which the teams will deploy. In Champ Car we have the highest level of pure competition and pure sport of any form of Motorsport worldwide. I look forward to a successful 2004 season of Champ Car World Series Racing and know that with our dedicated teams, drivers, fans and supporters that we are the horizon of the “Phoenix Rising”!   My personal Thanks to all and Viva Champ Car! & Don’t forget to catch us on Spike or HDNET! Christopher S. Kneifel, Champ Car Race Director   4/12/04 - A reader writes, The Bridgestone "option" tires and new rules are great ideas by OWRS!  Along with the new push to pass button, it appears that OWRS really has a good idea where the racing needs improvement. I'm thrilled to see how this turns out. I know many of Champ Car's races are street races, but the only thing I foresee that can really thwart these new changes and regulations is the dreaded "any time, all the time, full course yellow" the ChampCar officials seem so willing to use. More passing is going to mean more action and probably more wrecks. Let's not ruin this new design with slowing the pace around the entire track every single time someone spins out or wrecks. Local yellows can be made to work, a la F1!!!!! Let's work on it....I'm excited!!!!! D. Hughes, Jacksonville, FL

4/12/04

Seoul Vice Mayor to attend LB race   AutoRacing1.com has learned that the Vice Mayor of the city of Seoul, South Korea, will attend this weekend's Long Beach Champ Car race along with the promoter of the Seoul Champ Car race, Yong Kim, of KMC-Power.  Their Champ Car race will be announced officially to the public in Seoul at the end of April as they work towards their inaugural event on October 17th.  Mark C.

4/14/04

Kendall on Wind Tunnel   The Motorock Trans-Am Series’ only four-time Drivers’ Champion, Tommy Kendall, is scheduled to appear on SPEED Channel’s popular call-in show “Wind Tunnel” with host Dave Despain Wednesday, April 14. Kendall, who signed on to drive the No. 11 Jaguar R Performance in the Trans-Am Series this year, will discuss his return to the driver’s seat after his retirement in 1997. Kendall’s long list of accomplishments in Trans-Am competition include being the only driver to win three-straight Trans-Am titles from 1995-1997. He also won the championship in 1990. His 11-race win streak in 1997 remains the longest in Series history. The streak also gave Kendall the most victories in one season, one more than late Trans-Am legend Mark Donohue. This year, Kendall will attempt to surpass the win record held by Donohue. Kendall, who has 26 career victories in Trans-Am competition, needs just four more wins to eclipse Donohue’s mark.   Mark C.

4/12/04

CART to sanction Champ Car   Today's ruling by Judge Ott that Champ Car can gain membership into ACCUS through CART, Inc., the parent company and the company that existing CART shareholders still hold stock in, means that CART lives.  CART, Inc. has an ACCUS membership and with today's ruling the Champ Car Series will carry the "sanctioned by CART" subtitle for the remainder of this year because OWRS does not have an ACCUS membership and hence can't sanction Champ Car races that need FIA approval.  ACCUS is the USA branch of the FIA.  We had argued that OWRS should have never dropped the CART name because, although it was damaged goods, it was a name everyone in racing knew worldwide.  OWRS will assume all liabilities for CART, Inc. as part of today's deal.  OWRS hopes to apply for ACCUS membership after it has been in business one full year, as there is a one year waiting period.  There are some who think the oval track cartel may try to block their membership next year, and if successful, OWRS will simply thumb their nose at them and continue the CART, Inc. sanctioning.  However, if OWRS proves that they can run a successful series in 2004, we see no reason for ACCUS to deny their membership in 2005.  We suspect OWRS will take the oval track cartel to court immediately should they discriminate against them simply because they want Champ Car series dead.  See related info on Rumors page.   Mark C.

4/12/04

Bridgestone & Champ Car introduce option tire   UPDATE Tire on right with red markings is optional tire.  Photo courtesy Bridgestone  4/12/04 - Competition within Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford has never been tighter.  The racecars and talented drivers are so evenly matched that overtaking has become a difficult chore to accomplish, particularly on tight street courses such as Long Beach, Calif., where the series debuts this week with the Toyota Grand Prix. Bridgestone Motorsport has been working with Champ Car officials on ways to enhance the competition, and the exclusive series tire supplier has restructured a concept it believes will deliver new excitement and passing opportunities for 2004.  More.....

4/12/04

Coyne to announce drivers & sponsors Friday   Dale Coyne Racing will be announcing its two drivers for the full season of Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford competition along with new primary sponsors for both cars Friday 9:00 AM Pacific Time, Noon eastern Time.

4/12/04

Herdez team announces associate sponsor   Herdez Competition is pleased to welcome JCDecaux as an associate sponsor to the #4 and #55 Herdez entries in the 2004 Champ Car World Series.

Founded in 1964, JCDecaux Out-of-Home Media Group offers a variety of media vehicles such as street furniture, mall advertising, airport advertising and billboards. The leader in outdoor advertising, JCDecaux is a $1.97 billion company operating in 43 countries.

Matching Champ Car demographics, JCDecaux and Herdez Competition compliment each other’s advertising strategies. Announcing this new partnership, Herdez Competition’s Business Director Kevin Lee commented, “JCDecaux is a very important media addition to Herdez Competition’s sponsor partners. In keeping with our aim of integrating the activities of the various team sponsors, JCD brings a very high profile media capability that is an excellent fit with the marketing activities of our other partners. We are looking forward to working with them on promoting business relationships both at and away from the race track.”

Present in 143 airports worldwide, JCDecaux’s advertising structures reach 840 million passengers each year. Their Street Furniture division includes bus shelters and street lamps, which have become part of the fabric of major North American cities, including the four top United States media market’s and have generated critical acclaim from city authorities and advertisers alike. In 1998, the company expanded, introducing JCDecaux Mallscape, an ambitious program to re-position the mall-advertising medium. Elegant new advertising structures were introduced in select strategic locations throughout the nation’s key shopping malls. Today JCDecaux’s Mallscape advertising structures are in 100 of North America’s most prestigious shopping malls, with 1.2 billion annual visits.

Jean-Luc Decaux, Co-Chief Executive Officer of JCDecaux, “We are very pleased to be working in association with Herdez Competition and look forward to developing a great Marketing and PR platform through the 2004 Champ Car World Series.”

The Herdez Competition entries, car #4 driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay and car #55 driven by Mario Dominguez will introduce the JC Decaux logo this weekend at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, round one of the 2004 Champ Car season. For more information, please visit www.JCDecauxna.com or www.TeamHerdez.com.

4/12/04

Vasser to cement place in California history   While the racing world patiently awaits the 30th installment of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this Sunday, 1996 Champ Car World Series titlist and Long Beach winner Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will lead PKV Racing’s tandem of 750hp turbocharged race cars to California Speedway’s infield road course for a two day test April 13-14, ensuring he and Mexican rookie teammate Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) are dialed-in for the season opener.

In conjunction with the test, Vasser will cement his place in California Speedway history for the second time in his illustrious career Tuesday when he makes his mark in concrete as part of an induction into the Walk of Fame for winning the fastest race in Champ Car history (197.995 mph) at the 2.029-mile superspeedway in 2002.

The California native was previously honored for his 1998 Fontana triumph, a victory the 10-time racewinner considers to be his most memorable racing achievement.

“This is a great honor for me because California Speedway takes me back to some of the greatest moments in my racing career,” said Vasser. “I have a lot of great memories over the years here – there have been highs and lows for me in California, but I am truly honored to be recognized by the speedway for the second time.”

Each year, California Speedway honors its previous year’s race winner with an induction into the Walk of Fame. Vasser’s 2003 ceremony was postponed due to the cancellation of the event as a result of the California wildfires. For his efforts, the track will have a plaque permanently placed in the ground for him at Gate 14 behind the speedway’s main grandstand, where he will put his footprints and autograph in cement. In addition, Vasser will receive a special one-of-a kind gift from the speedway.

The two-day test will be the final tune-up for PKV Racing before Vasser and Gonzalez take on the rest of the Champ Car competition in the 81-lap (159.4-mile) downtown Long Beach street fight this Sunday, April 18th at 4:00 ET (Live, Spike TV and HDNet).  PKV Racing

4/12/04

Scott Dixon F1 test photos  

Photos courtesy of Williams BMW team

4/12/04
F3000

Van der Merwe signs with Super Nova  Reigning British F3 champion Alan van der Merwe will compete in the 2004 International Formula 3000 Championship with Super Nova Racing. The South African's team mate will be Patrick Friesacher.

4/12/04

Herbert & Irvine say Ralf not worth it  According to the former Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine, Ralf Schumacher isn't worth the kind of money he is asking for to drive in 2005.  "Ralf had an erratic race in Bahrain but then he's always been like that. There's no way he's worth £14m a year or anywhere near that. The way he's driving and behaving I'd say he's worth about £5.50,” he told the Sunday Mirror. "He's making bad decisions and mistakes in races and off the circuit he seems to be sulking all the time. He had a good spell in the middle of last season but when things didn't go his way he went all moody again. This season he's been all over the place.  He's managed to go a long way on the Schumacher name but he's nowhere near as good as Michael,” Johnny Herbert added. “You have to work at it all the time and that's what Michael does. Williams have seen it all before and are understandably not falling for it. They probably see no reason to keep Ralf. There are other drivers out there who could do just as good a job for a fraction of the cost."

4/11/04

Vegas to get SAFER Barrier too   Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials say the 1.5-mile Nevada oval will have SAFER barriers in place before the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event on Sept. 25. Installation, which will take about six weeks, is expected to begin in early August. The new barrier system will be placed on all four turns as well as most of the front straightaway.

4/11/04

Petty thinks 40 races possible   Kyle Petty says the rumored increased 40-race NASCAR Nextel Cup schedule could work to everyone's benefit - if it's done right. "If they made some adjustments and looked at it carefully, yeah, we could run 40 or more races each season," Petty said. "I don't really have any problems with, say, a Wednesday or Thursday night race, followed by a weekend somewhere. The key would be to make the midweek show a one-day affair and be close enough that you could get back to your shop and swap everything out for a two-day weekend race somewhere." Petty also suggested a prime time broadcast during the week could be very attractive. "If it helps us bring in bigger numbers by running a prime time race during the week, then that just works for everybody," Petty said. "If more people are watching, that means the fans like what's going on. If the fans are happy, our sponsors are sure going to be happy."

4/11/04

Stoddart longs for big budget  Minardi's Paul Stoddart told Revved Up: "Ron's motor home costs almost more than it does to take the whole of my team to a race. I can't believe Williams and McLaren can't do a good enough job to challenge Michael and Ferrari with the amount of money they have available. If I had a budget of £100 million I'd be able to challenge, but they have wasted it. My drivers have competed more laps than McLaren and that shows just what a great job we do. Every year we bring someone into the sport and the bigger teams don't give us any credit. I gauge success by the number of drivers we bring into the sport who go on to the top teams. This year Zsolt Baumgartner has got better race by race and Gianmaria Bruni has proved worthy of his place in F1. Unfortunately my hands are tied with my budget. If I had more money I'd show what we could really do."

4/11/04

Empire State Building bathed in Ferrari Red  From dusk until midnight Thursday, the Empire State Building was bathed in red light to celebrate Ferrari’s 50th year in the United States (Photo Courtesy of Ferrari). The honor, accorded the Prancing Horse to celebrate the arrival of the very first Ferrari to New York and the United States in the spring of 1954, coincided with the New York International Auto Show gala evening. The Show itself opened to the public on April 9th.

Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo had this to say to the Italian news agency ANSA: "There has always been a great feeling between the United States and Ferrari. In 1949, in fact, an American of Italian origin, Luigi Chinetti, was the first man to win the Le Mans 24 hour race in a Prancing Horse car. We have a very strong presence here now. There are over 20,000 Ferraris on US roads and America’s passion for the marque is growing all the time. We’ll soon be opening a large new showroom on Park Avenue in the heart of Manhattan, too: a further demonstration of how important our cars are to our American clients. The fact that Ferrari’s 50 years in the US are being celebrated by illuminating the Empire State Building with red light would have thrilled Enzo Ferrari as much as it does me and anyone else who is proud to be Italian.”

The theme for this year’s New York Show’s gala evening, organized in conjunction with East Side House, a Bronx-based New York charity, was "Gentleman Racing.” The theme was interpreted by Ferrari and Maserati in a very evocative exhibition of some of the most important Prancing Horse and Trident GTs ever built.

The United States is traditionally Ferrari’s largest market in terms of sales. In 2003, its 11th consecutive year of growth, 1,350 Ferraris were delivered to clients, 13% more than in 2002. This goes right against the current trend in a segment which has slumped somewhat in the US.

Ferrari’s main markets in North America are California, the North-East from Boston to Washington via New York and Philadelphia, Florida, Texas, and the Mid-West with Chicago and Detroit as the focal points.

To commemorate its 50th anniversary, Ferrari has created a special inscription which will be applied to all the cars destined for the US market throughout 2004.

4/11/04

Ferrari store to open in Rome  Ferrari will open a new Store in Rome, on via Tomacelli. Ferrari brand objects, exclusive memorabilia from the world of Formula 1 and the world beating F2003-GA can all be found in the official House of Maranello shop. The two Scuderia Ferrari drivers, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, will attend the event and cut the ribbon and will then salute the crowd of fans gathered in Piazza Augusto Imperatore. In the historic square, since the afternoon, the public will be able to admire some of the most stunning Ferrari Granturismo cars, including the 612 Scaglietti. They can also play on the Vodafone Race Track, a simulator with four F1 single-seaters so that they can experience the thrill of competition.  After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Store will stay open to the public until midnight. The morning after, an event for the smallest Maranello fans, the Ferrari Formula Bimbi. At the event, will take place where children can play at driving electric single-seaters. The Ferrari Store in Rome will be the third official Ferrari sales point to be opened by Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. The Store in the capital follows that at Maranello and the Ferrari Shop at Bologna airport. Future openings are planned at Malpensa airport and there will be a Ferrari Shop in Las Vegas, Shanghai and Tokyo.  The Store is unusual in that it is an innovative commercial space, one that has been planned to become a point of reference for all Prancing Horse fans. Inside, over three thousand articles will be on display, among them: apparel, leather goods, a wide range of watches, scale models and toys. Prices range from 4.50 euros for a Ferrari notepad to 40,000 euros for a Formula 1 F2000 engine. The Store offers items to appeal to the whole range of Ferrari fans, from the youngest to the not so young.  Ferrari

4/11/04

Audi R8 on top in LMES test  Audi drivers Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen set the day's best times on Tuesday and Wednesday at the first official Le Mans Endurance Series (LMES) test days at Paul Ricard. Allan McNish was fastest on the first test day in the Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx Audi R8, on Wednesday Tom Kristensen in the Audi Sport Japan Team Goh R8 set the two day test's absolute best time. The Audi R8 ran for the first time in the new aerodynamic configuration at Paul Ricard. "Audi has once again done a great job in the wind tunnel," noted Tom Kristensen. "In spite of the regulations specifying narrower rear wings, as driver one can hardly feel a change in handling."  4th fastest was a Pescarolo Sport Judd V10 entry.

4/11/04

Mercedes to review F1 involvement  According to the German media, when Jurgen Hubbert hands over his executive responsibilities at Mercedes Benz to Wolfgang Bernhard at the end of July, the Mercedes Board is going to review their finances and their involvement in F1 to see if they should continue.  Getting beat week in and week out by Ferrari, a much smaller company than Mercedes, only damages the image of the German auto giant.  While they could drop out of F1, it's also possible they will step up their involvement by buying 100% of McLaren.

4/11/04

Bernie makes another financial killing  A 12-bedroom mansion in west London has been sold for well over $100 million by Bernie Ecclestone - making it the most expensive house in the world.  Billionaire steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal bought the property from Bernie in Kensington Palace Gardens.  The mansion is made up of a former Egyptian Embassy and a  Russian Embassy built together.

4/11/04

Motors TV to broadcast Champ Car races live in UK  2nd UPDATE A reader writes, An update from my email of yesterday, MotorsTV are currently showing all day live coverage of the British Touring Car meeting from Thruxton. They have advertised live Champ Car from Long Beach in most of their commercial breaks so far... Looks like they intend to make it work. Stuart Page  Dear Stuart, Apparently MotorsTV gets it, hopefully Viacom (Spike TV, CBS, MTV) will start a similar campaign with just one week remaining before the first race. Leon S.  4/10/04 - A reader from England writes, Following the wonderful news of MotorsTV broadcasting Champ Car in the UK, I take back my earlier mail. OWRS have done us proud after all. MotorsTV always does it best with live broadcasts so I eagerly anticipate a great season of coverage.  If you have a contact address (pref. e-mail) for OWRS, I would like to write to them and thank them for doing what most British CART fans have been desperate for, as well as all their other efforts to get the series this far. Stuart Page  Dear Stuart, no need to email OWRS as they will read your letter right here.  This announcement, what we saw in Times Square today, and what we hear is coming, is over the top stuff.  OWRS gets it!  Mark C.  4/10/04 -  Motors TV is pleased to announce that it will be showing the 2004 Champ Car World Series exclusively live in the UK! Starting with the first race of the year at Long Beach on April 18th from 9pm.  Eurosport will broadcast the races live in the rest of Europe.  Full details to follow!

4/11/04

Jesus may not be the only thing rising on this Easter Day   A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, For some of us Jesus may not be the only one rising from the dead on this Easter Day.  Remembering your article, CART, Like The Phoenix, About to Rise from the Ashes, we now have an 18 car field, better driving talent than last year's grid, and then seeing those pictures of the Champ Car in Times Square yesterday morning and the Champ Car logo plastered all over the Square on the large screen TV's gave me visions of the Phoenix rising from the ashes.  Jackie Smith, Las Vegas

4/11/04

Taylor & Angelelli win in Phoenix  Final race results for the Food City 250 at Phoenix International Raceway, round 3 of the 12-race Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series with running position, (car number), drivers and hometowns, class, car and laps completed. Race Stats - time of race: 2:45:46.811, distance: 133 laps,
200 miles, average speed: 72.685 mph, victory margin: 2.757 seconds.
1. (10) Wayne Taylor, Altamonte Springs, Fla.; Max Angelelli, Monaco, DP, SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley, 133.
2. (01) Max Papis, Miami Beach, Fla.; Scott Pruett, McMinnville, Oregon, DP, CompUSA Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, 133.
3. (81) Cort Wagner, Los Angeles, Calif.; Kelly Collins, Newport Beach, Calif., DP, Rx.com/ G&W Motorsports BMW Doran, 133.
4. (02) Luis Diaz, Mexico; Jimmy Morales, Mexico, DP, CompUSA Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, 133.
5. (4) Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Sherrills Ford, N.C.; Butch Leitzinger, Rebersburg, Pa., DP, Howard - Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford, 132.
6. (6) Oswaldo Negri Jr, Aventura, Fla.; Burt Frisselle, Kihei, Hawaii, DP, Michael Shank Racing Lexus Doran, 132.
7. (09) Stephan Gregoire, Carmel, Ind.; Doug Goad, Farmington Hills, Mich., DP, Spirit of Daytona Racing Pontiac Crawford, 132.
8. (5) Joe Pruskowski, Woodinville, Wash.; Justin Pruskowski, Woodinville, Wash., DP, Essex Racing Ford Multimatic, 132.
9. (59) JC France, Daytona Beach, Fla.; Hurley Haywood, Ponte Vedra, Fla., DP, Brumos - Goodyear - Kendall Porsche Fabcar, 131.
10. (21) Bill Auberlen, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.; Boris Said, Carlsbad, Calif., GT, Prototype Technology Group BMW M3, 129.

4/10/04

Ponte is perfect in Phoenix  A new era began today as the lights went out for the start of the opening round race of the North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship at Phoenix International Raceway. Juan Martin Ponte of Concordia, Argentina, took the lead at the standing start, and led all 28 laps to take the checkered flag, imprinting his name in the history books as the first race winner in North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship competition.  Brazilian Marcos Gomes converted his second spot on the grid into second at the finish as he kept a dogged pursuit of Ponte, but was never able to close the gap. Mark Wilkins of Toronto worked his way to third place with an inspired drive which also saw him net the fastest lap of the race.
Phoenix International Raceway 1.51 Miles Saturday Race - Round 1
1/ 1/ Juan Martin Ponte / 28 / 59.587 / Concordia ARG /IPS/Grapeking
2 /2 / Marcos Gomes / 28/ 3.071/ 59.694 / San Paulo/ BZL /ITUPETRO
3 /5 /Mark Wilkins / 28 / 6.733/ 59.534 / Toronto, Ont / CAN/ Trizec Canada
4/7 /Ricardo Imery / 28 /11.846 /59.836 / Caracas /VZL/ Cavenas
5/3 /Renato Jader David/ 28 /14.551 /59.960 / BZL / TBA
6/ 11/ Antoine Bessette /28 / 30.585/ 1:00.296 / St. Bruno, Que / CAN TBA
7/ 10/ Nick Bussell /28 / 30.618/ 1:00.216 / Ionia, MI / USA /TBA
8/ 4 / Gustavo Sondermann/ 28/ 34.322 /59.795 /San Paulo / BZL / Corduroy / Priests for Life
9/ 13 /Michael Yager (R)/28/49.335/1:00.795 /Ellingham, IL /USA /Mid-America
10/ 14/ Scott Robertson/ 28 / 49.971 / 1:00.840 / Calgary, Albertaa/ CAN / TBA
11/ 9/ German Quiroga / 28 / 54.244/ 1:01.072 / Mexico/ D.F. MEX ROSHFRANS
12/ 15/ Robert Siska / 27/1 Lap/1:02.654 /San Francisco, CA /USA /RJS Motorsports
13/ 8 / Dan McMullen / 1 / --27 Laps-- / 1:40.303 / Contact / Gormley, Ont. / CAN/ ATI Tech/Discount Car/MYE
14/ 12/Brandon Thomas/28/1:09.519 / 1:00.286 /London, Ont. / CAN/ Tenfore
15/ 6/ Aurelio Lopez/ 0/ --28 Laps--/ Contact / Guadalajara/ MEX / Jalmex

4/10/04

Champ Car rocks the streets of Manhattan   UPDATED   In the world of show business, people work their entire lives to get to Broadway, but Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford driver Ryan Hunter-Reay got there in rapid fashion on Saturday morning.  The driver of the #4 Herdez Competition Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone took the new two-seat Champ Car to Times Square early Saturday morning April 10, literally driving in New York City traffic on Broadway in front of the Viacom Building at 1515 Broadway. The winner of last year’s Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia,  Hunter-Reay, who is preparing for his second season of Champ Car racing, participated in activities with new broadcast partners Spike TV in Times Square, including the filming of new commercial spots for the network. The 20-story Reuters SpectraVision board carried Champ Car information, including driver bios, video clips and schedule dates during the appearance as well.  The two-seat car, which made its first appearance Tuesday as part of pre-race preparations for the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, is powered by a 750hp Ford-Cosworth XFE Engine and is similar in every way to the Champ Cars that race on Sundays, with the exception of having an extra seat for passengers. “This is definitely what they call a once in a lifetime experience,” exclaimed Champ Car’s most recent race winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay. “This is my first time in New York City. I arrived last night and my eyes were big, but to be driving a Champ Car down Times Square this morning with hundreds of people smiling and cheering us on, it was unbelievable.” Spike TV is the new home of Champ Car and Hunter-Reay is impressed, “what was accomplished today is an example of the dedication and expertise the Spike crew and Adam Friedman (pictured right talking to Hunter-Reay in Times Square) have committed to Champ Car. The fans, sponsors, teams and drivers; we are all in for a treat, the 2004 season kicked off today at the Crossroads of America.”  “We got a great response Tuesday when our champion Paul Tracy gave rides to the media in Long Beach and the car really gives people a whole new respect for our drivers,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “We are excited about bringing Champ Car to Times Square and are looking forward to working with Spike TV to help kick off the 2004 season.”  The 2004 Champ Car World Series season will start with the 30th running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 16-18. Spike TV and HDNet will carry Sunday’s race live at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. .  See the feature story on our home page.

4/10/04

Dalziel and Sierra Sierra wrap up testing  The start of the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship, hosted at next weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (16-18th April), can’t come quickly enough now for Ryan Dalziel and the Sierra Sierra Enterprises team. Wrapping up pre-season testing Friday 9th April with a two-day run in the team’s home state of Nevada at the Motorsports Park, Pahrump, the Scottish charger once again topped the unofficial timesheets, continuing the Dalziel / Sierra Sierra domination in all 2004 test events.

With last season’s campaign yielding nine podium finishes, including two victories, from 12 races, the relationship between the Sierra Sierra Enterprises squad and the 21-year-old Dalziel looks set to lead to further success as both parties focused this week’s test at Pahrump on set-up for the season opener at Long Beach. Ryan was once again joined by rookie team-mate Andrew Ranger and while both cars were booked to run a full two day program the team packed up at lunchtime yesterday, content with the mileage and set-up packages tested in preparation for Round 1 in California.

Ryan is keen to make amends at Long Beach. Having just missed out on a front-row start at the prestigious venue last year, the Scot spun while attacking Canadian rival Jonathan Macri in the early stages of the race. Before he could complete a recovery he was collected by his team-mate and subsequently forced into retirement. Ryan, showcasing his unceasing determination, bounced back from the incident at the next race to claim his first Toyota Atlantic victory at the Milwaukee Mile – dominating the weekend’s proceedings.

Post-test Dalziel commented: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to set the pace at every test we’ve attended this season. I actually hold the lap record here at Pahrump but with the new 2004 aero packages on the Toyota Atlantic cars we’ve been unable to challenge my previous best but we were quickest overall and that’s what counts heading to California. We’re really working well together and as far as pre-season preparations go I really can’t see what more we could do to prepare for the new campaign. My focus is very much on winning at Long Beach and getting the year off to the best possible start!”

Prior to his arrival at Long Beach Ryan has to switch disciplines from driver to driver-coach, mentoring Sierra Sierra owners’ Dennis and Diane Kottke’s grandson Connor as he competes in his first ever kart event at Sears Point. Ryan then heads south to Long Beach where his schedule includes a host of off-track activities before he’s unleashed on the 1.9-mile temporary street circuit in Friday’s opening practice session.

4/10/04

Adam Friedman working wonders for Champ Car  Remember the face in this photo.  His name is Adam Friedman, the man directing the filming of the Champ Car commercials today in Times Square.  Besides being one of the best in the business, Adam is a true Champ Car fan and full of energy that rubs off on everyone around him.  Between him and the folks from Betelgeuse (led by Rick Murphy), Champ Car finally has the right people to ratchet up the visibility of the series in a creative way.  Related article on Friedman.

4/10/04

Spike TV, asleep at the wheel?  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, There is not a single word on the Spiketv.com website about Champ Car or next weekend's broadcast. What's up with that?  Lando McGee  Dear Lando, Stay tuned, Spike TV is about to ratchet it up big time.  Mark C.

4/10/04

PDM/ASR join forces for Indy  American Spirit Racing (ASR) has renewed its marketing partnership with PDM Racing for the 2004 Indianapolis 500. ASR last partnered with PDM Racing at the 2002 Indy 500 and prior at the inaugural running of the 2001 Indy Racing League event at the Kentucky Motor Speedway with rookie driver, Sam Hornish, Jr., where the team led the event for 36 laps with a spectacular side by side battle with Jacques Lazier. "I have had the pleasure of knowing Paul Diatlovich (owner of PDM Racing) for many years and his dedication to this event has never wavered," comments Jon Lewis, President of American Spirit Racing. "The Indy 500 is without a doubt, the biggest single event in all of motorsports. Millions of people around the world watch with intensity, some of the World's greatest drivers and teams compete for the single greatest title in auto racing. In addition to our on-going and extensive involvement in the American Le Mans Series, our renewed association with PDM Racing for the Indy 500 will provide even more diverse promotional avenues for our corporate clients. I am proud to have American Spirit Racing back with PDM Racing for "The Greatest Spectacle in Auto Racing!"  ASR

4/9/04

China looks to draw people to first F1 race  This AP article says, With China's first Formula One race six months away, workers are trying to ensure the Shanghai International Circuit is ready. Construction is just one of the challenges facing the new race track, however. It also needs to find a way to draw fans to the Shanghai Grand Prix on Sept. 26. Even some of the workers aren't sure about the newest local attraction. "I'm just here to work," Lu Jingquan said Thursday, while taking a break from carting gravel. "I don't know anything about car racing." China has no car racing tradition to speak of and ticket prices begin at 370 yuan - about $45 - still a hefty sum for most Chinese. However, private car ownership throughout the country is up, fueling an interest in all automotive-related matters. Higher incomes have also made people hungry for new experiences and leisure options. "I'd love to see it. I think it would be really fun," said Chen Guangliang, a taxi driver and self-described "car nut."  More....

4/9/04
Formula BMW

First official test for Formula BMW   Formula BMW USA will kick off the 2004 season April 12 and 13 with the first of 10 scheduled official test sessions. Formula BMW USA teams and drivers will spend two days at Sebring International Raceway getting to know their new Formula BMW FB2s and each other.  Meeting again for the first time since the January licensing school and scholarship shoot-out in Valencia, Spain will be four BMW Junior drivers, Graham Rahal (Team Rahal); Jonathan Summerton (HBR Motorsport), and Tom Milner and Billy Johnson (Team PTG). They will be joined by Red Bull driver Matt Jaskol (Team Autotecnica), Tom Sutherland (Team PTG), Alexis Fenton (Team Autotecnica) and Andreas Wirth (HBR Motorsport).  BMW Motorsport and Michelin North America technical staff will support the Formula BMW USA teams in Sebring. Track orientation and practice begins at 10:00 am EDT on Monday.  Teams will be on track from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm on Tuesday.

4/9/04

Circle K to sponsor pole qualifying   Daytona International Speedway officials announced that Circle K will sponsor pole qualifying for the Pepsi 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at the "World Center of Racing." Circle K Pole Qualifying Night will be held under the lights on Thursday night, July 1. Circle K Pole Qualifying Night will feature the stars of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series turning two high-speed qualifying laps with hopes of capturing the Budweiser Pole and a spot in the 43-car field for the 46th annual Pepsi 400, which is scheduled for Saturday night, July 3. "We're excited about Circle K sponsoring qualifying for the Pepsi 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race," said Speedway President Robin Braig. "The entire Pepsi 400 weekend, including Circle K Pole Qualifying Night, will be full of speed, excitement and fireworks." "Circle K is proud to kick-off the Pepsi 400 Weekend at Daytona International Speedway with Circle K Pole Qualifying Night," said Circle K's Gulf Coast Region Category Manager, Gary Fletcher. "We're looking forward to a great, competitive evening, and to setting the field for Saturday night's Pepsi 400 under the lights."

4/9/04

Ponte takes Phoenix pole  Juan Martin Ponte of Concordia, Argentina, only needed two laps to secure the pole position today at Phoenix International Raceway as he stormed to the top of the charts late in the half-hour qualifying session after waiting out the first half of the session for the ideal track conditions. The half-hour session was very competitive, with seven different drivers holding on to the top position during the session and only one second separating the top twelve drivers on the 1.51-mile infield road course in the final results.

Ponte was happy to take the pole position, but emphasized that he still needs to get more out of the car to match the changing conditions as the track proved to provide significantly less grip on Friday than it has for the last two days, and has him concerned about the race.

“Getting pole is really good for the points and it should give me an advantage in the race tomorrow, but we are really going to have to look at working on the car for these conditions,” said Ponte, “…as I think we need to make some changes to be competitive in the race if the track is going to be this slippery. But of course, I am still very happy to be up front for the standing start!”
1 / 50/ Juan Martin Ponte / 58.610 / 92.749 / Concordia ARG/
2/ 20/ Marcos Gomes/ /58.696 /92.613/ San Paulo BZL /
3 / 9 /Renato Jader David/ 58.753 / 92.523/ BZL/
4/ 4 / Gustavo Sondermann / 58.770 / 92.496 /San Paulo BZL/
5 / 34 / Mark Wilkins / 58.807 / 92.438/ Toronto, Ont/ CAN /
6 / 51 /Aurelio Lopez /58.813 /92.429 / Guadalajara MEX/
7 / 7 /Ricardo Imery / 58.908 / 92.279/ Caracas VZL /
8 / 1 /Dan McMullen / 58.962 /92.195 / Gormley, Ont. CAN /
9 / 10 /German Quiroga / 59.164 / 91.880 / Mexico D.F. MEX/
10/ 8 /Nick Bussell / 59.449 /91.440 /Ionia, MI USA /
11 / 14 / Antoine Bessette / 59.497 / 91.366 / St. Bruno, Que CAN/
12 /2 /Brandon Thomas / 59.577 /91.243 /London, Ont. CAN /
13 /3 / Michael Yager (R) / 1:00.232 / 90.251 / Ellingham, IL USA /
14 /25 / Scott Robertson / 1:00.346/ 90.081 /Calgary, Albertaa CAN/
15 /15/ Robert Siska /1:02.128 / 87.497 /San Francisco, CA USA /

4/9/04

Ganassi cars on front row in Phoenix  The CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team claimed the pole position for the third straight race in a row, this time securing the top two starting positions. Max Papis, driver of the #01 Lexus-Riley, set a new track record with a time of 56.005 seconds, besting the previous track record by 1.083 seconds. “Qualifying on the pole for the third straight time is a big accomplishment for CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing team. Winning the pole is a great reward for the hard work. All of the guys on the CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team make a great family,” said pole winner Papis. “It is fantastic to get my first Rolex Daytona Prototype pole position. Now, the most important thing is to focus on the race tomorrow and bringing home the first victory for Lexus and CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing.” Rookie driver, Luis Diaz, claimed the front-row outside starting position with a lap time of 56.452 seconds. “It has really been a great beginning (of the season) for me. All of the hard work from our guys makes our jobs a lot easier. After what happened in Homestead, everyone supported me and helped me to get my confidence back,” said Diaz who will compete with his teammate and fellow Mexican driver, Jimmy Morales. This was Diaz’s first time to handle the qualifying duties, in only his second start for the team. All of the CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing drivers know that the real challenge will come on Saturday night. Pole winner Max Papis said, “Tomorrow is going to be really, really physical, and you need to be very, very focused. We are going to be passing cars right and left. The most important thing to do is to be patient and bring the car home. That will lead to a good result.”  Bill Auberlen has the quickest time in the GT class during qualifying for the race Saturday night, going 88.191 in a BMW.  Craig Stanton was fastest among SGS-class competitors at 85.532 in a Porsche.

4/9/04

Champ Car International TV package taking shape  2nd UPDATE As we told you, all Champ Car races will probably be shown on Eurosport throughout Europe in 2004.  According to www.eurosport.com, both Long Beach and Monterrey, Champ Car's first two races, are already listed as live, yet no mention of Eurosport from OWRS in their press release.  4/9/04 - Canadian-based French-language broadcasters RDS - Réseau Des Sports will be broadcasting Champ Car races in Canada. The network was referred to incorrectly in last night’s release. Champ Car regrets the error.  4/8/04 - The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford has passionate fans based all around the world, a fact that is evidenced not only in the millions that attend Champ Car events, but also those that follow the series on television.

Champ Car has already sealed its deal for domestic television with Spike TV providing fans with a consistent time slot to watch every event, while the cutting-edge technology of HDNet will give fans a chance to see each of the U.S. and Canadian races live in high-definition format. With the domestic package in place, Champ Car has shifted its focus to the international scene and has joined with a number of broadcast partners to carry the 750hp turbocharged action of the Champ Car World Series to its fans around the globe.

TV Azteca will again broadcast all Champ Car races in Mexico, TSN will broadcast all Champ Car events in English, with the exception of the three Canadian races, which will be covered by Global. In addition, RSN will broadcast each of the Champ Car events in French. Fox Sports Latin America will provide coverage in Spanish throughout the Caribbean and Latin America while U.S. Spanish-language telecasts will be provided by Fox Sports en Español. Channel 10 will provide broadcast coverage to the continent of Australia and will be the home broadcaster for the Champ Car race at Surfers Paradise while FOX Middle East will provide Champ Car coverage in English to that region.

“The international following that the Champ Car World Series enjoys is a key part of our success and we have worked diligently to join partners that would provide the best shows for our fans,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “We have built good relationships with our broadcast partners to date, and will continue working even harder to increase our global coverage.” The 2004 Champ Car World Series season will begin April 18 with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the first race on a 16-race calendar.  [Editor's Note:  Rumor has it that Eurosport will broadcast all the races throughout Europe, but apparently that deal is not done yet.]

4/9/04

Orange County Register to also sponsor LB race   “The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is celebrating a milestone year, and we are excited to once again be a primary information source for the event.” So said Linda Zammit, multimedia promotions director at Freedom Orange County Information, publisher of the Orange County Register. And, as an official newspaper sponsor of the 30th Anniversary edition of the event, the Register plans to fuel race fans’ enthusiasm with a full menu of activities. Start with a collectible, four-color special section - filled with event agendas, maps, transportation details, driver profiles and racing photos - that will be inserted in the print edition of the Register and displayed in its original layout and presented for viewing on Premium OCRegister.com, the Register’s subscription-based electronic edition. Copies of the Register and special section, prize giveaways and imformation about Premium OCRegister.com and its OCCarfinder.com site will also be available at the Register event booth, located in the Automobile Club of Southern California Lifestyle Expo in the Convention Center. The Lifestyle Expo is free to all race ticketholders. “Premium OCRegister will be of special interest to face fans, particularly because people come from all over to attend the race and interest continues to grow every year,” Zammit said. “Premium OCRegister allows us to deliver information about the race to race fans – wherever and whenever they want to view it.”

4/9/04

Texas final TV ratings (down again)   UPDATE The final TV rating is in for the Texas race and it's bad news again for NASCAR.  The final figure of 6.0/15 share was down from last year's 6.3/14 share, a 4.8% drop. The trend has been consistently down (every race) so far this year and it will be interesting to see if NASCAR can turn it around.  4/6/04 - The downward trend in NASCAR TV Ratings continues.  Overnight Nielsen Media Research numbers show Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 drew a 5.6 rating and a 13 share, today's Sports Business Daily reports. The Daily says Nielsen's overnight numbers do not include figures from Albuquerque, N.M. Last year, the race drew a 5.8/12 overnight and final figures of 6.3/14. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter  [Editor's Note:  Perhaps this article is correct, and may explain why less people are watching Nextel Cup this year.]

4/9/04

Hornish & Kanaan nominated   IRL IndyCar® Series drivers Sam Hornish Jr., and Tony Kanaan are among the nominees for the Speed Channel Presents the Driver of the Year Award for the first quarter of 2004. Hornish, a two-time IndyCar Series champion, won the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 29. He became the first driver to win his debut race with Marlboro Team Penske. Kanaan, the current IndyCar Series points leader, dominated the Copper World Indy 200 on March 20 at Phoenix International Raceway. Kanaan led 191 of the 200 laps to claim his second-consecutive race at Phoenix. Other drivers nominated for the award include: NHRA drag racers Greg Anderson and Tony Schumacher, NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth, and World of Outlaws star Steve Kinser. An 18-member panel will select the winner of the award. Fans can participate in voting via an online ballot, located at Speed Channel's web site, www.speedtv.com.

4/9/04

Mayor to serve as Grand Marshal for LB race   City of Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill will help get the Champ Cars under way as Grand Marshal, saying the most famous words in racing - "Gentlemen, start your engines!" - at the 30th Anniversary Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 18. The popular Mayor O'Neill, who won a third consecutive Mayoral term in 2002 as a write-in candidate, is presently chair of the US Conference of Mayors Advisory Board and will assume the presidency of the USCM in June 2005. She has had a strong presence at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the past ten years as Mayor. She has led the city to a nationally recognized urban renaissance that began after the devastating economic losses of the early 1990s caused by aerospace downsizing and closure of several Navy facilities. Mayor O'Neill has been a strong proponent of education, economic development and jobs during her terms in office and served as president of the League of California Cities in 2002. "We are absolutely delighted to have Mayor O'Neill as the Grand Marshal for our race," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "She has been unparalleled in her support of this city and our event and it is most fitting that we honor her in this manner. And the fact that we are celebrating our 30th anniversary this year makes this even more appropriate."

4/9/04

Press-Telegram back for 19th year at LB  The award-winning Long Beach Press-Telegram will be a Media Sponsor of the 30th Anniversary Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The daily newspaper has been a member of the Grand Prix family of sponsors for 19 years. “It’s an excellent community event,” said Lynn Komadina, Press-Telegram Director of Marketing & Promotions. “The Press-Telegram is proud to be part of this great partnership and to deliver the best local news and race coverage in Long Beach.” Known for its extensive coverage of the event for readers in Long Beach and 22 surrounding communities, the Press-Telegram will continue its tradition of supplying in-depth coverage of the race, including race-related festivities, driver bios, car analysis and a complete guide of things to do and see in Long Beach. On Thursday, April 15, the Press-Telegram will publish a special pre-race section, to be inserted in all subscription and single-copy newspaper sales that day. An additional 10,000 copies of the section, along with a newspaper and keepsake poster, will be sold for $1 during race weekend at the Press-Telegram booth located next to the Long Beach Arena.

4/9/04

ISC reports 1st Qtr. results  International Speedway Corporation ("ISC") reported record results for the first quarter ended February 29, 2004. Total revenues for the first quarter increased more than ten percent to $144.2 million compared to revenues of $130.9 million in the prior-year period. Operating income was $52.3 million during the period compared to $48.8 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2003. Net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 was $27.8 million, or $0.52 per diluted share, compared to net income of $25.4 million, or $0.48 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2003. Included in the prior year's first quarter results was a revenue contribution to ISC's Food, Beverage, and Merchandise Income of approximately $1.6 million, or $0.02 per diluted share after-tax, related to the Company's ongoing activities to audit third party vendors' sales reports for prior years.

4/9/04

CART offers to pay most of debt to Miami  This Miami Today article says, The owner of Miami's now-defunct Grand Prix Americas race wants to pay $1.5 million to settle its remaining $1.7 million debt on a loan, according to the city's sports authority. Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority executive director Jim Jenkins said he will present the offer April 27 to the group's board. Championship Auto Racing Teams made its most recent $74,000 payment in February to the sports authority against $2 million loaned in 2002 to Grand Prix promoter Raceworks, which used the money to pay for course infrastructure for its first downtown street race. Raceworks later was acquired by Championship Auto Racing Teams, which sent subsidiary company CART Inc. into bankruptcy protection. Open Wheel Racing Series then bought CART's schedule but did not take over the Miami contest or the event's debts to city agencies. CART settled to pay 40 cents for every dollar owed to the Miami Parking Authority, or $110,820 on a nearly $280,000 debt, according to a spokesman for the authority. That payment was received March 9. Payments remain outstanding to the Bayfront Park Management Trust, said Timothy Schmand, that group's executive director. A deal - agreed to by the trust and to be considered today (4/8) by city commissioners - would allow CART a similar settlement as it reached with the parking authority. If accepted by the city, the payment would be $25,125 for a $62,811 debt.   More......

4/9/04

Jon Vannini - give Americans a chance  UPDATE A reader writes, I was intrigued by Mr. Vannini's comments on American drivers and would like to respond with two comments of my own. First, I do not think anyone has questioned the talent of American drivers. I think the bigger issue is the ability of an American driver to get up to speed in a short period of time. There is no doubt American drivers can be competitive when you give them two or three days to test. The problem is a team may be limited to a few hours or at most a day of testing and it has been proven the European school drivers find maximum speed quicker than American schooled drivers. If you don't believe me look at Scott Dixon and his F1 times. My second comment is directed at Mr. Vannini. I wish he and other successful business people who love the sport of Champ Car would put their money where their mouth is and sponsor an American driver for a couple of races to prove his point. Two things would be accomplished. An American driver would get a chance to showcase their ability and it would add more cars to the grid. Maybe Mr. Vannini could show king George who really cares about American drivers. Thank you. Arno Fritz, Milwaukee, WI  Dear Arno, Mr. Vannini is already doing what you suggest behind the scenes, he just doesn't go around boasting about it. He probably would do more if he had not lost a fortune on his CART stock.  Mark C. 4/8/04 - Dear AutoRacing1.com, It is good to see Rocky Moran Jr. back in the thick of it in the Toyota Atlantic Series again this year. Hopefully, Polestar will field a competitive entry. Rocky is yet another example of a very talented young American who would impress in Champ Cars if given a proper go. Much like Ryan Hunter-Reay has emphatically shown with his pre-season testing pace (within a few hundredths of the much heralded Sebastien Bourdais and consistently quicker than Junqueira). When given decent equipment I am sure that a gaggle of these young guns would be similarly impressive.

As much as any number of folks would like to pretend otherwise, the simple truth is that when Ryan came into the series last year very few of the so-called pundits rated him at all because they totally lacked any familiarity with his prior exploits...they bought (and continue to buy) into this euro-centric viewpoint about the presumed supremacy of foreign bred drivers. Hopefully OWRS will find a way to stage proper evaluation tests for Rocky, Jon Fogarty, Phil Giebler and a few others. I think given a couple days, they would raise some eyebrows and answer the question of where the American open wheel driver talent is.

As an aside, OWRS deserves kudos for the efforts they have put forth to get young Canadian sensation Michael Valiante (a product of the Toyota Atlantic Series) a ride this year and I remain optimistic that we will see him in the series soon. I look forward to seeing a few of these recent Toyota Atlantic Series drivers mixing it up with 3 or 4 former F3000 champions...the results might just startle a few folks...I would recommend that OWRS field the occasional additional car to put some of these kids in to see what they can do. Jon Vannini

4/9/04

BAR drivers top charts, Dixon fails to impress  BAR drivers Jenson Button and Takuma Sato topped the third day of testing in Barcelona today.  IRL driver Scott Dixon, his reflexes perhaps dulled by driving in circles all the time (lazy racing), failed to impress on his third and final day, ending up 9th fastest on the day, some 1.6 sec. slower than Button and 0.7 sec slower than Williams teammate Marc Gene on a dry track.  He was troubled by a collapsed suspension, which sent him spinning.  It's always hard to tell from a test how fast a driver really is, but after three full days of running, if there is some brilliance there, it will usually show up by then.  At least he was somewhat competitive and did not embarrass himself thanks to all the road racing seat time he had in the Champ Car ladder system over the years.

Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 Jenson Button BAR-Honda M 1m15.079s 73 (32 in hybrid)
2 Takuma Sato BAR-Honda M 1m15.304s 93 (43 in hybrid)
3 Michael Schumacher Ferrari B 1m15.625s 76
4 Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes M 1m15.812s 73
5 Mark Webber Jaguar M 1m15.886s 120
6 Marc Gene Williams-BMW M 1m15.948s 104
7 Alexander Wurz McLaren-Mercedes M 1m16.268s 61
8 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari B 1m16.515s 29
9 Scott Dixon Williams-BMW M 1m16.621s 53
10 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW M 1m17.191s 5
11 Giancarlo Fisichella Sauber-Petronas B 1m17.244s 78

4/9/04

ALMS announces new sponsor coordinator  Pattie Hughes Mayer has joined the staff of the American Le Mans Series in the newly-created position of Sponsor Coordinator, the professional sports car racing series has announced. In her new position, Mayer will work closely with series sponsors prior to and during event weekends on credentials, hospitality, signage, award presentations and other matters. In addition, she will serve as a pace car driver for sanctioning body IMSA and will also conduct pace car rides for sponsor representatives at the events. A racing driver since 1986 in both sports car racing and rally competition, Mayer works as a professional driving instructor and automotive consultant for major automotive manufacturers. The first female driving instructor for the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, she is also a member of the Official Pace Car Team for the Champ Car World Series. She also holds an Occupational Therapy degree from Ohio State University. Mayer and her husband, Tim, reside in Suwanee, Ga., with their two children

4/9/04

Lepage not happy  Kevin Lepage's "full-time ride" with Morgan-McClure Racing is over, just six races after it was announced. And according to Lepage, he couldn't be happier. Lepage was handed his walking papers by the Abingdon, Va. team last week, after managing a best finish of 22nd in six NASCAR Nextel Cup Series starts this year. Veteran Jimmy Spencer took over the ride last weekend at Texas, finishing 29th, six laps down. Contacted this week at his home in North Carolina, Lepage's thoughts on the split can be summed-up in two simple words. Good riddance. "After watching that fiasco in Texas, I'm happy to be out of there," he said. "Apparently, Jimmy Spencer isn't the miracle-worker they hoped for. (Morgan-McClure) had no set-ups on the cars, none at all. I went around the garage and begged favors from guys I knew on other teams, asking them to help us out. People put their jobs at risk to do that, but the minute we got the chassis straightened out, the motor would blow. Or we'd come out of the pits with three lug nuts missing. It was a disaster. (Team owner) Larry McClure kept asking me - over and over again, `What do we need to do to fix it?' I told him, but apparently, honesty wasn't what he wanted to hear." Enter Spencer, who according to Lepage had been "wearing Larry out since Daytona trying to get in the car. He brought along a little bit of money, and told Larry what he wanted to hear. So I'm out, and he's in. Good luck to him, he's going to need it." After seeing the Morgan-McClure team from the inside, the Vermont native said he will be surprised if Spencer - or anyone else - can turn things around anytime soon. "Beginning with Robby Gordon in 2001, they have now had 13 drivers in three years," he said. "Robby couldn't help them, Mike Skinner couldn't help them, Stacy Compton couldn't help them, and apparently, neither could I. It's one thing after another with them; one problem piled on top of another." What's next for Lepage? he said he is working to put his own Busch Series Fords back on track for a schedule of 10-20 races, beginning next month at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "We're beating the phones for sponsorship right now," he said, "and I'm about 95-percent sure we'll get a deal done with at least one of the two companies we're talking to. For every door that closes, another one opens," he said. "And in all honesty, my next opportunity won't have to be much to be better than where I just was. I would rather sit home and watch the race on TV than run like that." Barre-Montpelier Times Argus

4/9/04

TMS lowers attendance figures  Texas Motor Speedway officials changed the estimated attendance for Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 from 216,000 to 205,000. Some reporters have questioned the accuracy of the track's attendance figures. The facility has 158,500 seats. TMS officials say 25,000 infield tickets were sold. TMS also has two levels of luxury suites above the frontstretch, extending from Turn 4 to Turn 1. A nine-story Speedway Club building sits outside Turn 1, and the 10-story Lone Star Tower condominium is outside Turn 2. Whatever the figure, every seat is filled and every infield camper spot taken for the Cup race. The Busch race on Saturday is one of the top-attended series events of the season (estimated at 108,000), and the Nextel Cup qualifying/IROC crowd on Friday was estimated at 60,000 – more than some Cup races get at Darlington and Rockingham. Dallas Morning News

4/9/04

Tuesday's Girls Long Beach GP party  The Toyota Grand Prix has never seen so much lipstick! Over 50 Tuesday's Girls will host the official after party celebration for Andrew Firestone, ABC's the 'Bachelor', and friends. Witness it all unfold as we pull a 90210 stunt double party in the 90803!! Go to www.tuesdaysgirls.com and click on the Toyota Grand Prix race car for party information.

4/9/04

Lynx fastest in first day of test  In the final test sessions leading up to the Toyota Atlantic season-opener at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach April 17 – 18, new Lynx Racing teammates Bryan Sellers and Josh Hunt showed they will be a pairing to be reckoned with. In a test session that featured an eclectic assortment of international hot shoes – such as Sierra Sierra’s duo of 2003 Atlantic championship runner-up Scotsman Ryan Dalziel and Canadian Renault F2000 champion Andrew Ranger, as well as the Brooks Racing team of Danish F3 driver Ronnie Bremer and Estonian F2000 driver Tonis Kasemets – American Bryan Sellers set the fastest time around the 1.5 mile Spring Mountain Raceway track in Pahrump, Nevada (50 miles from Las Vegas). Sellers overcame early-morning electrical gremlins that limited his running time to set the fastest time of the day; 56.9 seconds…which is believed to be a new track record. Sellers’ new teammate is Josh Hunt, an 18 year-old Australian who is testing in anticipation of finalizing a deal to run the 12-race 2004 Toyota Atlantic season as a Lynx Racing driver; he will then make his debut as a Champ Car driver with PKV Racing at the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise later this year. Hunt spent the day familiarizing himself with the power and handling of the Toyota Atlantic car, and with the Lynx team. “Bryan did an amazing job, and has clearly established himself as able to challenge for race wins, beginning at Long Beach,” says Lynx Racing team manager Steve Cameron. “Josh also did an excellent job, adapted well to the car and the team and never put a wheel wrong all day. He’s a very fit young man, but he’s still suffering from serious jet lag from his trip over here, and under the circumstances, we’re very happy with his progress. He and Bryan get along very well, and once Josh gets up to speed – which we feel will happen very quickly – their on-track efforts will compliment each other, and take the Lynx team to a new level of competitiveness.” Testing will continue for a second full day on Friday, April 9.

4/9/04

Latest F1 news in brief 

Schu back on top: Barcelona
BAR shelve 'radical' rear wing
Pantano in doubt
Shanghai nearly ready
Empire State Building is red
Dixon gets first wet running
FIA wants F1 to slow down
French GP cuts ticket prices
Canada's F1 'disaster'
Ferrari has eye on Renault whiz
Briatore: F1 is 'not a bore'
Schu plays soccer for charity
What's wrong with McLaren?
Brawn feels sorry for Raikkonen
Bernie supports 'A1 Grand Prix'
F1 works on '50 percent' budget cut 

  Much More...click on 2004 archives button below
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